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Literary Challenge #66: The Xindi Paradox

pwecaptainsmirkpwecaptainsmirk Member Posts: 1,167 Arc User
edited September 2014 in Ten Forward
Welcome to the third Edition of the New Month Long Writer's Challenge!

Today we start the one month run of the sixty-sixth Literary Challenge: Xindi Paradox.

We will be running this event from the 7/24 to the 8/24. We will still run the August LC starting on 8/15 with a little overlap.

You may enter 1 story for each the 3 topics below, and space them out as you please timewise.

This month, our first line up will be the following.

Challenge #1 - The Xindi Paradox
Starfleet Command has ordered your crew to undergo an unusual mission. A familiar figure from Starfleet's past has appeared onboard your ship following a Priority One communication directly from Admiral Quinn... and Franklin Drake, a known Section 31 Operative. Your orders, to assist "Crewman Daniels" stop a direct threat to the timestream from an unknown enemy who, according to Daniels, plans to return to the Xindi homeworld in the year 2033 to stop the destruction of the Xindi Avian race. Your mission, travel back in time to stop this temporal incursion and maintain the timeline at all costs. In order to protect the future, you and your crew must allow the genocide of an entire race of the Xindi species to assure that history repeats itself, and to ensure that Starfleet doesn't loose one of it's most valuable allies in this new period of Xindi cooperation. Starfleet can not afford to loose the experimental technology the Xindi have supplied us in our new offensives against the looming threat of the Iconians. Upon arrival in 2033, your Com Officer reports an incoming hail from an Xindi Avian Escort, whose Captain has offered to their assistance in escorting you to their homeworld.

Challenge #2 - In the Beginning - thanks to Jonsills for this suggested topic!
Jim Kirk wanted to live up to the legacy of his father, George Samuel Kirk.

Jean-Luc Picard used to look into the starry skies over his family's vineyard, and dream.

Ben Sisko was driven by a destiny he didn't understand, and fought for years when it was finally revealed to him.

What led your captain to join Starfleet? And what drove him/her/it to the center seat?

Challenge #3 - Episode ReWrite - DS9 - The Magnificent Ferengi


DS9 - The Magnificent Ferengi - In Quark's Bar, Quark celebrates an incoming shipment of Syrup of squill, but it is short-lived. An incoming message from Grand Nagus Zek from Ferenginar informs him of something unexpected. Searching for his brother, he finds Rom working in an access tube and gives him troubling news: Their mother Ishka has been captured by the Dominion. What's worse, Zek wants Quark to rescue her. Quark must now hire a group of commandos to undertake a rescue mission into the heart of Dominion controlled territory to rescue his moogie. But what brave crew would undertake such a mission? When the reward could be the unending latinum supply of the Grand Negus himself... who could refuse?

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.

The Discussion Thread for all three topics can be found HERE.

We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The Basic Rules:
  • Each Challenge will run for 4 weeks. You may enter at any time during this open period.
  • There are no right or wrong entries.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.

A few other important reminders:
  • Please obey the TOS rules and policies of our Forum with each entry.
    • Anything overtly sexual or "adult" will be deleted. You have been warned. This is not a slash forum.
  • Each poster can have one entry per topic. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next month.
  • After four weeks time, the thread will be locked and 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!!**

Have fun Captains!

~CaptainSmirk
Post edited by Unknown User on

Comments

  • ryan218ryan218 Member Posts: 36,047 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    Author's Notes: Be warned, this post contains suggestive themes (but is still PG). YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! Oooooh! :P

    __________________________________________________________

    Stardate: 87278.6. U.S.S. Victorious, McKinley Station.

    In Ryan's Quarters, there is the sound of laughter as, on the long sofa along the far wall, Ryan and Commander Marilla Saph ('Daya' to her friends) sit; both with mugs of hot chocolate, sharing in anecdotes as Ryan finishes off, "Then I said, 'Carl, if you bring that Sehlat within 20 feet of me again, I'll have you both up on charges!'"

    They share another bout of laughter, before leaning back on the sofa. Daya's uniform jacket is resting on her shoulders, while Ryan's is lying on his desk chair across the room. The two haven't had much time to just talk since they graduated from the academy, partially by design.

    But in this case, they really don't have much choice; a Borg Cube has been sighted near the Klingon Border and the U.S.S. Darwin is being sent to investigate after a weapons refit. Meanwhile, the Victorious is stuck in spacedock waiting on a shipment of transphasic torpedoes. This will likely be their last chance to talk to each other for a while.

    However, there isn't much talking. At least not until Daya catches Ryan looking at her. Her hazel-brown hair mostly obscures her spots until it gets to her shoulders, but she's smart enough to know that Ryan isn't admiring the spots; it's the blue eyes he's admiring. She smiles at him teasingly, before he looks at her in shock, his eyes widening before he straightens up, clearing his throat. Daya shakes her head, "Something wrong?"

    "No! Nothing at all..." Ryan proceeds to mutter something under his breath.

    Daya frowns at him before putting her hot chocolate on the coffee table and reminding him, "You know, it's not a crime to look at me."

    Ryan turns to her, "Did I say it was? I must have been drunk at the time." He smiles at her, hoping his little self-deprecative joke would lighten her mood.

    It doesn't, "Don't start. Do you even remember what we told each other at the academy?"

    Ryan lets out a sigh as he leans back on the sofa, "That we wouldn't let what happened interfere with our friendship."

    "Exactly." Daya leans back as well, resting her head on her hand, which is leaning against the sofa by the elbow. "Do you even remember what happened?"

    Ryan smirks at her cheekily, "How could I forget?" He stops after fully remembering the event, letting a frown frown over his face, "Sorry... Worst part about that time of my life is a can't forget."

    Daya frowns, concerned. "Ryan, what are you doing here? Why did you join Starfleet?"

    "You'll be disappointed."

    "Never."

    "It's generic and boring."

    "I doubt that."

    "I've warned you."

    "Just tell me."

    "Alright.

    "Family. My family has been in Starfleet since my great-grandfather. You know both my parents were Officers. I wouldn't have joined Starfleet if not for them..."

    Daya lets him stay silent for a while. His parents is the hardest subject for Ryan to talk about; ever since their death at Starbase 24, 6 years ago.

    ***

    6 years earlier, Stardate: 85697. U.S.S. Horizon, Olympic-Class Medical Vessel, Starbase 24.

    The Medical Ship burns from several hull breaches across the spheroidal primary hull as it desperately tries to outrun a Klingon B'rel-Class Bird-of-Prey. Green pulses of disruptor fire slam into the ship from all angles as orange beams lance across the Klingon ship's red shield bubble. A red blast from the Horizon's torpedo tube slams against it, triggering an orange burst of flame as fragments of tritanium hull are scattered across space.

    Suddenly, the ship rolls hard to starboard as green Klingon Disruptor pulses and photon torpedoes slam against it's withering shields from a Negh'var Battleship.

    On the Bridge of the Horizon, Commander Gareth Allington, the ship's First Officer , is kneeling on the deck next to Captain S'vorik, with two fingers against her neck, searching for a pulse. There is the sound of smouldering flames and the blast of fire extinguishers in the background, as well as cries and moans of pain. The air is poisoned with the acrid smell of ash and smoke, and the only lighting comes from the red alert lights and the orange glow of the fires at the corner of the bridge.

    "Commander, they're firing again!" The cry comes from the young Bajoran Ensign sitting at the helm. He'd been at Science Station 3 minutes earlier, before a previous volley killed the regular helmsman.

    Gareth stands up, looking at the viewscreen to see the Klingon Battleship launch a full spread of photon torpedoes. He immediately shouts orders across the bridge, "Evasive action! Full power to shields! Phasers, full firing arc!"

    He watches as he feels the deck shake beneath him as the battered vessel changes course, orange beams of energy lancing out at the torpedoes and battleship. Suddenly, he's knocked hard to the right by the thunderous impact of the torpedoes, falling onto the deck.

    He slowly pushes himself up, his ears flooded with white noise as he tries to pull himself back into focus. "Report!"

    He hears a voice from the engineering station; Ensign Victoria Talor, a Human-Cardassian hybrid, "Shields are at 30%! We've lost weapons and engines! Hull breaches on decks 10, 11 and 12! We're venting atmosphere! Environmental Controls are offline! I can't activate the forcefields!"

    "Drop the bulkheads!"

    "Aye, sir!"

    Gareth pulls himself to his seat, tapping the intercom control pad, "All hands, this is the Bridge! Abandon ship! This is not a drill! I repeat, this is not a drill! Abandon ship! Abandon ship!"

    The shrill and harrowing sound of the evacuation klaxon fills the room as the order goes out across all decks.

    ***

    In one of the Horizon's Sickbays, Doctor Caroline Allington is busy helping load injured civilians onto stretchers as the lights fade in and out. She wipes a bang of her short light brown hair out of her eyes as she pulls out a medical tricorder, performing one last scan as the evacuation klaxon keeps drilling into her skull. "Alright, get him to the escape pods, now!"

    As the medics haul her last patient out, she glances back to see the bay empty; she'd been preparing to evacuate the wounded since the battle started, and most of them were beamed over to the Starbase before the attack. She marches out of sickbay as the ship rocks again, the rumble echoing through the corridors as another section is hit by decompression. She then gets knocked back by a sudden purple burst of flame from a plasma conduit, feeling her face instantly coated in sweat before the valve automatically seals. She hears a piercing scream, before climbing to her feet as one of the refugees they'd picked up from Archanis lies on the deck, crying in agony as his face is covered in burns and charred flesh.

    She runs over, opening her tricorder and medkit, "Hang on. We'll get you out of this."

    The corridor is filling with smoke as the temperature rises. She can hear the crackling of flames all around her as she grabs an anaesthrezine hypo and presses it against her patient's neck.

    Suddenly, the entire ship fills with the Intruder Alert alarm, with it ringing for several seconds before returning to the shrill cry of the evac klaxon. Then, she hears disruptor fire echo around the corner, pulling out her phaser and wrapping an arm around the burn victim's body, "Okay, let's move! One, two, three!" She heaves him onto his feet as she hears Klingon battle cries. Carol hobbles with her newfound patient towards an escape pod bay before ducking as a green disruptor bolt whizzes by her head, reacting quickly and pressing down on the trigger of her phaser, sending an amber beam into one of the Klingon boarders, knocking him onto the deck, and into Sto'vo'kor.

    However, spurred on by the rush of battle, the other two warriors raise their rifles, sending a flurry a disruptor pulses into Carol, knocking her against the bulkhead before she slinks down to the deck.

    ***

    Outside, the U.S.S. Bellerophon swoops in, firing a salvo of quantum torpedoes into the Negh'var before it rips apart. The Horizon slowly moves away from the battle as 3 more B'rels dart towards it, strafing the burning ship, before a white flash engulfs it, leaving only a small, scattered cloud of debris.

    ***

    2 months later, Starfleet Academy, San Francisco, Earth.

    Ryan walks into his dorm, looking defeated as he picks up his PADD and slips it into a half-filled duffel bag. Inside the bag is his spare cadet's uniform and a photo of his parents. He avoids the urge to look at it, instead taking hold of a stack of PADDS next to the bag and loading those up as well.

    He then hears his doorchime sound, turning to answer it, "Come in." The doors hiss open, as the ageing figure of Admiral William Ross, Dominion War Veteran and, until recently, Orion Sector Commander, steps over the threshold. Ryan quickly snaps to attention, saluting him. "Sir!"

    Ross raises a hand to calm him down, "As you were, Cadet." Ryan loosens up, before Ross continues, "I've been told by the Commandant that you're resigning from Starfleet Academy."

    "Yes, sir."

    "May I ask why?"

    "I... don't believe I'm Officer material, sir." It was a lie, and Ryan knew it.

    "That's odd. Your professors tell me that they consider you an excellent student; intelligent, dedicated...

    "Of course, we both know they're right. So, let's talk about why you're really leaving, shall we?"

    "Sir?"

    "Your parents." Ryan gulps at the mention of that subject. "Son, I know how you feel. I've seen hundreds of other people just like you, learning that their loved ones are gone and throwing a promising career away - and it breaks my heart every single time.

    Do you know what that uniform means?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "It means you're a Starfleet Officer; a symbol of what the Federation stands for; truth, courage, but most of all... hope."

    Ryan stays silent.

    "Your parents knew that as well as anybody. I heard from survivors that your mother stayed on board to help the wounded get to the escape pods - and that your father took command of the Horizon after his captain fell. They gave hope to the survivors that they could rebuild their lives, and they showed the courage that I see in you, even now. I could tell you that you're making a mistake, but the mistake would be in you making a decision you didn't want to make. So, here are the facts; your parents saved 12 lives on the Horizon, at the cost of their own. They died, not just for those they saved, but for you as well. I'm not telling you; I'm asking you... remain in Starfleet." He hands Ryan a PADD, with Ryan's previously issued resignation on it, and a control on the screen saying 'RESCIND'.

    Ryan takes the PADD, as Ross gives him a compassionate smile, "Take as long as you need to decide." As Ross walks out of the dorm, Ryan is left looking at the PADD. After a few minutes, he puts it down on his desk and takes the photo of his parents out of the bag, staring at it as he sits on his bed. Then, he hears his door chime again.

    "Who is it?"

    "Ryan? It's me, Daya."

    ***

    Present Day, U.S.S. Victorious.

    What happened that night was something the two of them didn't share with anyone else; the two had been friends for years, and Daya wasn't going to compromise that.

    That's a promise the two have kept for 6 years, staying as friends, even if they did see something in each other; a little flame between them. Daya can never tell if it's Ryan remembering that night at the academy when he let his guard down or if it's him letting some warm feeling for her slip past his defences.

    Likewise, Ryan can never tell if Daya is just letting out her Trill mischievous streak by teasing him or if she actually is trying to get him to open up to her; or even both!

    Regardless, Daya is the reason Ryan was able to cope with his parents' deaths, just as Ross is the reason he not only stayed in Starfleet, but changed to Command Branch at 4th Year. He'll always owe that to them.

    And, without thinking, he lets that show with a grateful smile to Daya, who uses it to burrow past his expression and into his eyes, linking gaze with him as they lean into each other and press their lips against the other's.

    After a moment, they pull away, with Ryan looking at her as he takes off his combadge, "How long until you're due back on the Darwin?"

    Daya wraps her arms around his neck, kissing him on the cheek, "Long enough."
  • worffan101worffan101 Member Posts: 9,518 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    I'll be adding D'trel's version of this later.
    Nemesis-class living terror weapon unit designation Three strapped her duffel bag to her back and saluted the eleven identical women in front of her as she stood on the transdimensional 'porter's "launchpad".

    "Unit ready, Original."

    Her Original returned the salute. "Acknowledged, unit. Remember, your Contract-Holder is Khurghkot'ongb
  • angelus214angelus214 Member Posts: 77 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    This is a bit long. Its essentially my captains Bio I never got round to writing till now. This is why my captain joined starfleet and why hes in the big chair.


    Captains log Stardate 87329.6


    Starfleet Academy has contacted me and asked that I make a record of my reasons for joining Starfleet. It seems they have decided to create a time capsule containing entries from some of their more legendary and unusual alumni. The Picards, Janeways, the first Ferengi, the first Cardassian and then there’s me.


    The first... anachronism. The short story would be I joined for a woman, THE woman. The long story... well that requires a preface. My name is... well my name now is Angelus but I was born with a different name. In the year 1984, and technically I died in 2014. In the intervening years I built a very respectable software company, had a comfortable life and in the last 2 of those years, fell madly, stupidly, devotedly in love and then just as I realised I was in love. was also diagnosed with an aggressive terminal disease. Nothing that cant be cured by a doctor and a hypo these days but then it was all but over for me. I couldn't accept this however and neither could Alexa. The doctors were close to a cure or so they said, and Alexa she was more than determined she wouldn't be denied a future with me. In the end it was her idea, that we freeze ourselves in a process known as cryonics.


    It seemed a little funky to me but as I said she was determined and nothing stopped her when it came to me. My body deteriorated quickly, Alexa stood by me with an unparalleled tenacity but there was nothing that could be done. They wanted me to spend my last day in the hospital but Alexa knew I didn't want that so against the doctors orders we spent my final (or so I thought) hours in the most beautiful park. The sky was clear, the sun was bright and warm, the breeze was gentle and cooling, and there was a smell of fresh grass in the air as I fell asleep. As per the instructions I was frozen, and placed aboard an orbiting satellite. Although healthy, Alexa must have opted to join me and wait with me for the doctors to finish their work. I later found out that a confluence of unlikely events lead us both far from home.


    The doctors work must have progressed slower than they expected. I have since found out that a third world war took place. I can only surmise that this is where we got lost, and forgotten. Unmaintained the satellite must have suffered a system malfunction and broke orbit. The satellites records indicated that somewhere in the void between Earth and Venus an anomaly caught the satellite and transported it to what I now know is the Delta Quadrant. Floating in an endless void a ship happened across us in the year 2369. Unfortunately that ship happened to be a Borg cube. Normally such old technology would not have interested the Borg, and it didn't, the occupants did. Having suffered defeat at the hands of the Starfleet the Borg wanted to assimilate some humans from before the birth of the Federation. I guess we were the before of a before and after picture.


    So all the occupants of the satellite were assimilated, and for some unknown reason the Borg Queen herself took interest in me and Alexa. We were transformed into one and two of seven, primary adjunct to Unimatrix one. The Queens personal servants. For forty years I was a drone and presided over the destruction or assimilation of countless sentient lifeforms. There are few liberated Borg who will admit it or discuss it beyond an acknowledgement, but we remember. We remember everything we were forced to do as drones. What we never mention is how trapped in our own skulls we screamed and raged impotently against what was happening. Still it happened and that is just part of the story now. In the latter half of 2408, I was assigned to a cube heading to assimilate a species on the fringe of federation space. The Queen herself had ordered the assimilation because the species had similarities to humans when the federation was emerging as a power. I guess she was to busy to oversee the mission herself and instead sent her trusted man servant... me.


    What the Queen and the Borg didn’t anticipate was the species had developed the technology to control certain space phenomena. Much like Earth now has weather control. Upon coming under attack from the cube they unleashed a hellish ion storm around their planet. Damaging the cube beyond repair and severing all subspace links. Not all the drones were destroyed however and when species 7344 contacted the federation who they had petitioned for membership, they sent a small armada and a few science ships. I have to say, its a strange feeling to suddenly be freed from years of captivity and horror. I sat there almost catatonic for a day, and for the two other days before I was discovered I just sobbed uncontrollably. The Federations scientists found me, and took me to one of their ships with a few others.


    They managed to remove my external implants and most of my internal implants. They couldn't remove the nano-probes or the autonomous internal controls for the nano-probes however. Which means my cells will always be repaired and except for extreme external influences I will live for a very very long time. This does afford me the time I need though. But that is the end of the story. So there I was a man out of time, with a body that wont die and a head full of nightmares. My malaise didn't last long however because I was free. She wasn’t. I explained what I knew to the scientists and they filled in the blanks from the Borg data nodes they had recovered.


    I explained, I screamed, I begged to anyone who would listen that I had to get to the Delta Quadrant. That I had to save Alexa. Starfleet and the Federation listened for a while, but they didn't have the abilities or the resources to get me there. On the odd occasion where I wasn't totally single minded in my determination to save Alexa, I had to admire how far we have come as a species. No war, no famine, little disease, on Earth at least. Looking at Starfleet, The Academy I realized if I was to save Alexa I would need, an education, information, and understanding. I never expected to be a captain this early but once again the Borg were to move my life in an unexpected direction.


    This brings me too today. I'm a man In love, who died, was frozen for 355 years was brought back, enslaved for 39 years , forced to commit unconscionable acts, and freed in the distant future. Despite this the only constant in it all is my love for Alexa. One way or another I will save her, but I am a captain and I have a crew now. I am responsible for those lives, for the people I consider my friends, my family and I cannot jeopardize their lives for hers, Alexa would not want that. I will find a way to save her though with or without starfleets help and in-spite of the Borg this is what drives me on each day.


    This is why I joined Starfleet.
    Untitled_1.jpg

    Executive Officer of Alpha Squadron
  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 396 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    (authors note: This takes place time wise during the blockade of Moab for A Property Line Dispute )


    If you had the time to lose
    An open mind and time to choose
    Would you care to take a look
    Or can you read me like a book

    Time is always on my side
    Time is always on my side

    [url=””]Iron Maiden -”Somewhere In Time”[/url]




    USS Heinlein, Pentaxia/Moab border zone.


    Boring holes through space in a seemingly endless loop wasn’t exactly what Captain Rhonda Evans had thought she would be doing when she agreed to join Commodore Huntingtons task force. Talking to people, helping them come to peaceful solutions, that was something she was good at. Patrolling back and forth enforcing a blockade? Boring and wasteful.

    Too add to the ‘fun’, a small ship like the Heinlein didn’t have near as much in the way of entertainment as a lot of ships in the fleet. One small holodeck, not even a real gym and lets be honest, the mission plus the location pretty much put an end to any shore leave thoughts the crew might have had. Fortunately they had other pusruits…


    “like this?”

    “thats it, put your hand right there.”

    The ensign was nervous enough being in this close proximity to his captain “ok” Rhonda said “now try it like I told you.”

    He brought his hand down, looking suprised as the notes came more smoothly this time “it’s all in how you hold it, its a guitar, not a baseball bat.”

    “Whats that?”

    Rhonda sighed to herself “Something from the past.” she said, some of the others in the conference room turned jam session laughing. Sometimes she felt older than her twenty eight years. Still playing with some of the more musically inclined crew in her free time helped the days pass, through Ensign Coffe would improve once he learned to relax. It was easier though when she wasn’t captain. One people weren't as, well, intimidated sometimes and the second…

    ”Bridge to Captain Evans.”

    She rolled her eyes, muttering ‘work work work’”, which got a chuckle from the Ensign. Good, he was finally loosening up “Evans here, whats up?” she replied.

    “We’ve got an unmarked Delta Flyer that dropped out of warp, it doesn’t appear to be trying to run the blockade, but-stand by. Sir, they’re hailing us...actually you specifically. And we’re getting an IFF now.. it’s called Saint

    “Oookay, I’ll be right there.”

    “Do I need to report to my duty station Sir?” Ensign Coffe asked

    “Not unless we go to red alert. Ya’ll keep practicing that part there, and we’ll squeeze in another session when we’ve got time.”

    He nodded then went back to the chords as she left. One advantage of small ships, never took too long to get anywhere. Stepping out of the lift she eyed the unmarked craft on the screen as she sat down. “looks like a standard Delta Flyer class.”

    “No markings though.” her XO replied” while those are available on the civilian market, they are usually more colorful-and transponder equipped than this one.”

    “Who’s flying it?”

    “Unknown, the hail was audio only-wait, we're getting video now...using the latest Starfleet encryption.”

    “Curiouser and curiouser said Alice” Rhonda frowned, feeling she was about to head down a rabbit hole…

    When the image formed, she was right. She hadn’t seen Franklin Drake in a while, but things always tended to be..interesting when he showed up. “Mister Drake, it’s been a while.”

    ”It has been a few years. we need to talk, more securely than transmitted messages.”

    “With this encryption?” Marueen asked curiously, the XO raising her eyebrow in a vulcan like manner.

    ”I know of half a dozen who can, and probably have broken this level. Face to face is better.”

    “I know a couple myself who could” Evans said, thinking of a certain quantum Caitian…” come on over then.”


    Standing up, she sghed. While she wanted something more interesting, Drake’s idea of interesting was usually more than you bargained on “I’ll meet him in the transporter room, you’ve got the con Maureen.”

    Staying to form, Drake did the unexpected, with two people beaming over. The second looked human, though that didn’t necessarily mean something, a slim man with dark receding hair. “Mister Drake, you still haven’t gotten that scar fixed.”

    “It enhances my Roguish Charm” he replied with a straight face. “this is-”

    “Just call me Daniels” the other said.

    “Right, one of yours?” She asked as she lead them into her ready room, setting up the security field

    “Actually I’m not from Starfleet, though this is a matter of Zeta level security. There has been a temporal incursion, and an attempt is being made to change the timeline that could have a serious effect on not just the Federation , but the entire quadrant.”

    Yep. definitely ‘interesting’ “What does this have to do with us?” she said carefully, so far her crew and David Huntington were the only ones that knew some of the Heinlein's ‘quirks’

    “This is a Wells class ship, the number of fully operational Wells Class ships in this century can be counted on one finger.” Daniels replied before looking up at the ceiling “Hello John.”

    There was a surprised silence, then the ships AI engaged its holoprojectors “I was only 68 percent sure that was you Daniels. How’s the family?”

    Now it was Drakes turn to look surprised. “I wasn’t fully convinced until now-this ship does have temporal capability?”

    Rhonda sighed, visions of lots of orders from section 31 dancing in her head-or not. Drake tended to play things close, not even trusting his own people sometimes. “Yes. Johny here” she said, indicating the hologram “came with the ship, has some knowledge of upcoming events but fortunately refuses to share that information.”

    “Which would violate the temporal Prime directive.” both the AI and Drake said in almost unison, causing both of them to smirk. “But yes” Johnny replied “I mainly know when something isn’t supposed to happen. and your presence here Daniels means something big is going to happen that wasn’t supposed to, I thought you retired?”

    “I did, but this is one of those jobs you never ‘retire from”. What do you know about the Xindi?”

    She thought for a minute “They’re recent to the Federation, there was a war with them several hundred years ago that they were tricked into I believe” she said “don’t have any onboard, but they are a group of species that evolved on one world that was destroyed.”

    “Reptilian, arboreals, aquatic and insectoid, and primate-as well as another race, who died out in a war between the species on that world. Avians...and someone has gone back to try to stop them from becoming extinct.”

    While not being extinct was generally a good thing…”Which will alter their history, and in turn alter our history…”

    “Not to mention Starfleet's access to the Xindi technology they’re sharing. They believe this can not be permitted to happen.”

    “wouldn’t that just create a splinter time line?”

    “It would, if it wasn’t for the fact that the agent hasn’t done it yet, plus there is too much of a risk in messing with time. Also there are records in the future for the Heinlein in having gone…”

    She sighed heavily,leaning down and bumping her head against her desk “I hate hate HATE predestination paradoxes!”

    Daniels just shrugged sympathetically “Welcome to my world.”

    She sit back up, brushing her hair out of her face “all right. So what did we do? will do? need to do?”

    “We don’t know.”

    “Well that’s a lot of help!”

    “Look Captain Evans-it was listed as a black operation-there was no official record. It was council eyes only-they briefed me, then sent me to Drake, who brought me here.”

    “Why did they involve you anyway?” Rhonda asked the Section 31 agent.

    “I would assume they figured that you would believe it if I was here, while not knowing Daniels from Adam as they say…”

    “Plus the fact you knew Johnny here” She said, pointing her thumb at the hologram “pretty much settles it. Only problem is...how the hell are we going to explain this to the crew?”

    “You’re over thinking that Captain.” The AI shook his head “Ever since your command of the Powhatan, at least thirty to sixty percent of your crew has been dimensional or temporal refugees of one type or another.” He poked at a button on the holographic screen that said ‘would you like to know more?’

    “Of the current crew, half served with you on the Powhatan lost in a wormhole in the late 2260’s. Your first officer is a replicant from the 28th century-”

    “She prefers the term ‘artificial person.” Rhonda replied reflexively.

    “-and your chief of security, Ivar Thorson..is an Icelandic warrior from 958 C.E. I really don’t think the crew will even bat an eye at yet another time jump.”

    Now it was Drakes turn to raise an eyebrow “long story” Rhonda muttered, “Fine, so when are we going, and how are we going to keep it from the Commodore?”

    Johnny looked almost insulted “Sir? Time Ship. We’ll be back within milliseconds of when we leave, I always know when and where I am. As for when, I believe that will be Mr Daniels. call…”

    The Temporal agent nodded “here are the coordinates, June 22, 2033. The actor who will attempt to prevent the bombing of the Avian city, and thereby dooming their planet will arrive within 12 hours. Find him, bring him aboard, and head home.”

    “Seems simple enough…”

    Daniels just smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry Captain, it will be a piece of cake!”



    June 22, 2033, 7.4 LY from Xindus

    “Mister Daniels? If I may offer a piece of advice…NEVER say something will be a piece of cake.”

    The getting there hadn’t been hard at all. Less than two seconds it seemed, one second they were on their patrol route, the next...just out of range of the Xindus system, and being hailed, by someone that wasn’t supposed to even have space flight capability.

    “that’s definitely not one of the known Xindi races..but the translator is saying their captains name is Kenar, they’re Xindi-aivan…and they’re offering to escort us to their world.”

    She thought fast. True, the Avians were going to die out in a few days when their homeworld was destroyed...but the Aivans weren't supposed to be able to get off planet yet. “Scan that vessel for chroniton particles.”

    It only took a few seconds, the sensors on the Wells class ships were engineered for just such things… “I’m getting a massive spike..it’s not from around here Captain..or around now I should say.” Commander Cana replied, the Tellarite Science officer shaking her head “from the looks of the scorching along the hull, they probably tried a stellar slingshot to get back here.”

    Well. finding their saboteur was easier than they thought...dealing with him on the other hand..

    “What's his ships capabilities?”

    “It’s..older than ours, looking like 22nd century Xindi tech. Not a match for us, shall I lock weapons?”

    “Hold one...you said he’s hailing right? On screen.”

    It looked like an Avian...if you didn’t peer too close. The fact that no one from their time knew what they looked like helped, but still…”this is Captain Rhonda Evans of the USS Heinlein. Your ship is two hundred years out of date for Xindi at this time, the Avians did not have space travel, and you’re practically still smouldering from getting too close to a star.”

    On the screen they could see the ‘Avian’ almost deflate. “How did you know how to find us? And we meant no harm, we were simply trying to save what we could of our lost culture! to attempt to atone for the errors of the past…”

    “A worthy goal-but changing the past, only makes things worse down the line. The Avians, from what I understood, were some of the more militant of your peoples...sparing them when Xindus is destroyed...would possibly doom the rest of your species to a similar fate. That said..I’m going to help you save them anyway.”

    ”WHAT?” Drake and Daniels both erupted in fury, as well as some of the bridge crew. Rhonda just held up her hand for silence, as the Xindi scientist on the screen looked shocked as well by the revelation.

    “Hear me out. The Avians are going to die, be gone from this universe, correct?”

    “Yes, but damnit, you’re violating the temporal prime directive captain!”

    Drake had already caught on, but then he always was fairly sharp, but then for a spy he had to be Rhonda thought. “But the Temporal Prime directive doesn’t apply to alternate universes.” he said. “I assume you have some idea of where to send them? And how many are we talking about?”


    On the Xindi ship, the Primate captain was going over the records furiously “I would estimate...there were no more than two thousand when the bomb was detonated. I don’t think we have room for that many.”

    “Nor do we..however, Johnny?”

    The AI was pacing, even though he didn’t need to. “Found a spot already. an abandoned world that has plenty of potential several rotations off the Tau axis.” Seeing the confused looks from some he just shrugged “Short version, space has three main dimensions, so does time. For simplicities sake, call them t, tau and teh. We’re just moving a couple steps up off of this timestream.”


    “Can we transport that many without giving things away Johnny?” Rhonda asked.

    “We can manage 200 per load with the emergency transporter buffers online-and in honestly, we don’t even have to stop them here. Beam them up, transit, beam down, repeat. Estimate, thirty to ninety seconds per rotation.”

    Daniels nodded thoughtfully. “That preserves our time line, and also saves lives..it’s technically a violation..but I don’t think anyone will have a problem with it.”

    On the screen, the Xindi captain looked both stunned and relieved. ”you would do this for our people? The Sphere Builders had said you would destroy us one day...I, borrowed one of their devices to attempt to set things right.”

    “They lined to you, used you” Rhonda said gently “Things have to happen as they had even in your time..but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to work together. In the time where we come from,” (well some of them anyway she thought to herself) “your people are valued members of the Federation, which is made up of hundreds of races-not just the ones from Earth.”

    ”I see...I have much to think of...however I do not think my ship can survive a trip back forwards. My science officer says we can not make the return journey, and if we remain here..that could also imperil both our peoples.” He let out a rueful chuckle “Besides, even if we could return, the Sphere Builders would destroy us.”

    “How many crew do you have on your ship Captain Kenar?”

    ”Six, I trusted no others with this mission, and we did expect to not be able to return, none of us have families.”

    Rhonda just smiled “Well, if you can’t go back to your time...you’re welcome to come with us back to ours. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

    ”I had hoped to be able to study the Avians..but , your offer is the best I think. Due to the war, they would not trust us.” as Captain Kenar looked at his crew, they all nodded in agreement. “We accept your offer.”




    June 30, 2033, Xindus System

    The Evacuation had gone off flawlessly, the surviving group of Avians beamed out in the middle of the night, placed on the world two universes away, with a message purporting to be from the Builders, that due to the war they were being separated, so all races could live in peace. Rhonda felt bad about that part of the ruse...but it seemed the least traumatic-plus with the ample game, and the lack of any threats to the Avians, they would have a chance to grow into something more, while the other Xindi races would pull together to form their first council.

    They sat in the asteroid belt, watching on long range sensors as the last reptilian and insectoid craft fled the dying world, the bombs planted in the crust killing the planet instead of simply their enemies.

    “There’s one problem Captain” Maureen said as they watched the world tear itself apart, not often one got to watch history live.

    “What’s that Mau?”

    “how are we going to explain our new passengers if the Commodore asks?”

    “I’ll handle that “Daniels replied. “I’ll take them with me and handle their re integration.”

    “Lemme guess, we don’t have any Xindi crew on the ship in the historical records” Rhonda smirked.

    “Not for a while yet, no.”

    “It is for the best, Captain Evans” Kenar added. “we are from a time when we were at war, attempting to destroy your kind. Moving ahead, is probably for the best for all of us.”

    She nodded. “I am glad we met though Captain Kenar. Take care.”

    “You as well, and thank you, for everything.” The Xindi stood next to Daniels, the group disappearing in a almost but not quite transporter like flash.

    “Johnny, get us back to when we belong.” The ship seemed to lurch, then instead of a dying planet, an unremarkable Delta Flyer was sitting waiting, as if only seconds had elapsed. “we’re here Captain, though I did have a bit of a mistime-probably due to the graviton flux from Xindus’s destruction.”

    Oh TRIBBLE.. “How much?”

    “.0000038 milliseconds.”

    She let out the breath she was holding “I think we can let that one slide.” she said, to nervous laughter across the bridge.

    The hologram still looked grumpy “It still bothers me , that much imprecision Captain.”

    Rhonda turned to her last ‘guest’, chuckling at the AI. “Mister Drake, I hope this solution satisfies your bosses as well.”

    “Nothing is changed, history happened as it’s supposed to, so our job is done for now.”

    For now. Oh well, not like she didn’t know stuff would catch up eventually, and at least she did , well, not trust Drake. But she’d worked with people like him in the past enough that he didn’t worry her. “of course, you were never here, and this never happened.”

    “What happened?” he grinned “I just dropped by to visit an old friend.” he tapped his com “Templar, one to beam up.”

    “And we’ll stick to that story” she said as the S31 agent left “not like anyone would ever believe the truth anyway.”



    USS Suharto, Captain's Ready Room

    Commodore David Huntington read the report sent from his agent onboard the Heinlein. Part of him hated spying on Evans like this, she was one of the few people he actually, well, trusted. But orders from the Admiral were orders. Going over the files his eyes widened. Technically, no. Alternate timeline loophole. She was smart enough not to do something blatant..but coming up with a solution like this, above and beyond..if he could he’d give her a medal for it. Saving the timeline and thousands of lives at the same time. Sadly he couldn’t even admit he knew about it. Pulling out the PADD with the special encryption, he hooked into into the ships com, the handshake between his terminal and the Admirals taking a moment. It was late afternoon on Earth, the Admiral should be in his office…”Yes Dave, what do you have?”

    “Admiral, I just got a report from my guy on the Heinlein. I think you’ll want to see this Sir..”
    "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."



  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    Passion take the wind
    And break me from this tie
    We're mortals on the earth
    Oh but gods up in the sky
    I haven't got a clue
    I haven't got a thing
    But what I give to you
    Is all that I could bring


    (Wowoahoh wooahoh wowoahoh)

    I'll give you all my time
    That's everything to me
    You know my only crime
    Is this flight of fantasy


    (Wowoahoh wooahoh wowoahoh)

    Because I've nothing else here
    For you
    And just because it's easier
    Than the truth
    Oh if there's nothing else
    That I can do
    I'll fly for you
    Ooh because I've nothing else here
    For you
    And just because it's easier
    Than the truth
    Oh if there's nothing else
    That I can do
    I'll cry for you

    Passion take the wind
    And break me from this tie
    We're mortals on the earth
    Ooh but gods up in the sky
    I haven't got a clue
    I haven't got a thing
    But what I give to you
    Is all that I could bring


    (Wowoahoh wooahoh wowoahoh)

    Because I've nothing else here
    For you
    And just because it's easier
    Than the truth
    Oh if there's nothing else
    That I can do
    I'll fly for you
    Ooh because I've nothing else here
    For you
    And just because it's easier
    Than the truth
    Oh if there's nothing else
    That I can do
    I'll fly for you
    I fly for you
    Oh I'd fly

    I'm just an average boy
    You're a more than an average girl
    And when you sing to me the 'shoe be doos'
    You sing so well
    And don't you know that when I'm under you
    I'm overjoyed

    Because I've nothing else here
    For you
    And just because it's easier
    Than the truth
    Oh if there's nothing else
    That I can do
    I'll fly for you
    Oh because I've nothing else here
    For you
    And just because it's easier
    Than the truth
    Oh if there's nothing else that I can do
    I'll fly for you
    I fly for you
    I'll fly for you
    I'll fly


    Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet - "I'll Fly For You"



    D O W N T I M E

    Vulcan, 13 February 2363...

    Glancing at the direction signage of the ShiKahr Spaceport, Commander Marcus Kane sidestepped the longer queue, and approached the counter.

    The clerk, a slender Vulcan male of indeterminate years, looked at the approaching Human with barely disguised contempt. It was possibly only the sight of a Starfleet uniform, which kept him civil.

    "Excuse me, Commander," he said stiffly in Federation Standard. The name plate on his uniform read 'Silix'. "This position is only for the processing of residents, not new arrivals. You will need to join the other queue."

    "Ne'shau," Kane replied in Vuhlkansu. Greetings. "If you would run my profile, you will see that I have resident status."

    Silix raised an eyebrow skeptically, but gestured toward the touch plate, which Kane rolled his fingertips onto.

    "Marcus Darien Kane," he said clearly, before continuing in Vuhlkansu. "Residential status ShiKahr, district nine."

    Of course, he could not see the screen which the clerk examined, but knew that it would be filled with his biographical data.

    "My apologies, Commander," Silix replied a moment later. "Welcome home."

    With a dip of his head, Kane repositioned the shoulder strap of his tubular duffel, and proceeded past the counter into the main concourse, swiftly making his way through the bustle of people, towards the exit.

    As the doors hissed open at his approach, Kane stepped into the dry heat of Vulcan's climate. As was his habit, he took a few deep breaths, and as he began to walk away from the building, gradually became aware of a warm tingling sensation in his chest. Not quite an itch, almost like a vibration, which was localised on his lungs. He took another breath, then realised the ease with which he drew breath, and with amusement which nearly made him laugh out loud, concluded what he was experiencing.

    The Quickening -- the intense bioelectrical charge which fuelled his regenerative abilities -- was adapting the structure of his lungs to compensate for the rarified atmosphere, allowing him to respirate normally, and even with his training, he was unable to keep the smile from his face. After seven years he had acclimatised to Vulcan, but it was almost amusing that it was his resurrection as an immortal which allowed him to truly be comfortable in the arid conditions. The sensation in his lungs was peripheral, ignorable, but it was also exhilarating, almost as if he were being energised by the planet itself. For the first time in his life, the scorching heat was ignorable, and the dry, thin air was perfectly adequate. Silix was right, he truly was home.
    ***

    Having hailed an air-cab, Kane entered his apartment in municipal flatblock 18a -- the apartment he had inherited following the death of his father nine years ago. Theautomatic lighting sprang to life at his presence, and habitually averting his gaze from the massive oil painting on the north wall, an original Lynch sea-scape of Caladan titled Storm, he moved into the living area, tossing his duffel onto one of the low couches, before heading down the corridor to the bedrooms. The first was -- had been -- Alix's room, with Dad's room at the end of the corridor.

    As he entered what had been his sanctum during his teenage years, Kane plucked the comm badge from his chest, then pulled open the front of his uniform and practically tore the red and black jumpsuit from his athletic form as if it were on fire, before stuffing it into the replicator. He hit the recycle command, then scrolled through the wardrobe options.

    "Adjust tailoring to match measurements of the last recycled garment," he instructed the device, before making his selection, and the replicator produced an off-white floor-length robe of a rough, hemp-like fiber with caramel-colored edging on the wrap-over collar and side flap. Despite his years of intense training in the Vulcan mental disciplines from Master Sovak, the structural differences between the Human and Vulcan brain meant that certain techniques and disciplines would always be beyond his capacity, despite his academic understanding of them. He could never undergo and complete the kolinahr and become a Master, but equally, he was no longer required to wear the plain, cone-sleeved robe of an acolyte. The replicator glowed again, and Kane took out the sleeveless mantle with its embroidered triangular and linear motifs, and slipped it over his shoulders.

    As he raised the hood, for a split second, on the edge of his peripheral vision, Kane thought he saw Alix leaning against the arch of the door, hugging a Tholian silk robe about herself.

    He shook his head and closed his eyes. No! That was how he had last seen her, before the revelation of his newfound immortality had inspired her to kill herself in an attempt to experience a similar resurrection. But there had been no re-awakening for his beloved twin sister, only death.

    The apartment had been his home for seven years, but with first Dad, and now Alix gone, it was no longer a place of solace, no longer a home, merely a dwelling, and suddenly acutely aware of both the emptiness of the apartment, and the almost overwhelming sense of his sister's presence, Kane snatched up his comm badge and as he walked briskly back to door, practically fleeing the apartment, he pressed it into place on the flap of his robe. Although on an extended leave of absence, paragraph three, sub-section one of the reserve activation clause stipulated that an officer be contactable at all times, even while on their own recognisance.

    Mentally reciting the mantra to restore his equilibrium, Kane knew that there was only one place where he might find peace.


    Folu monestary, 1 mile south east of ShiKahr, Vulcan, 13 February 2363...

    For six days, she had burned with the pon farr, her mind racing, her body literally ablaze with the hormonal saturation, but as she had, both seven and fourteen years before, T'Reya knelt in meditation, focussing her will to channel her desires, guiding her thoughts to discharge the madness which the mating urge brought, but this time, the practices had brought no relief.

    Through the near-consuming madness, T'Reya became aware of footsteps in the tunnel behind her. Turning, she saw Marcus entering the chamber. No longer the skinny boy who had followed her around the monastery like a pet sehlat -- by Human standards, he was a man now. A tall, handsome one. Even though she was ten years his senior, the speed of Human ageing meant their apparent ages had crossed, and he now appeared the slightly older of the two.

    "I apologise, T'Reya," he said in Vuhlkansu as she spun to face him. "I did not realise the chamber was in use at this time."

    "It. Is. Time..." she panted, rising to her feet, a predatory tone to her stance.

    "I don't under-" he began, then he saw the sweat on her brow and body, the animalistic tension in her full lips, the furnace of lust in her eyes, and understanding of the situation dawned on him as he realised 'what time' it was. "You need help," he said, somewhat inanely.

    "You can help me, Marcus," she insisted, approaching him like a predator stalking its pray. "I need you to help me."

    "I..." Seeing all reserve stripped away to raw unbridled emotion, and somewhat terrified by it, he began to back away slowly toward the tunnel, but only succeeded in backing against the rock wall. "But you've always been my friend," he insisted weakly, hoping to reason with her.

    "You always wanted me to be more," T'Reya countered, her voice breathy, as she reached up to touch Marcus' cheek, her fingers not quite in the right places to form a meld.

    "You need help -- another Vulcan..." he suggested.

    "I need to mate, Marcus," she insisted. "I need a man... I remember how you used to assist me with my duties when you were a boy, how you used to look at me when you thought I was unaware. I know you desired me then. Am I so undesirable that you won't help me now?" Pressing against him, she felt hard muscle across his chest and abdomen beneath his loose robe. "It's been six days, and my meditations have not broken the pon farr. I have no betrothed, and in another day, maybe two, the plak tow will take hold, and then, I will die. If You Don't F**k Me."

    The obscenity was like cold water to the face, harsh, galvanising. He had lost count of the times as a youth he had dreamt of such an encounter, but T'Reya had always been unavailable, untouchable. A genuine and dear friend, but never more. His fantasies had remained thus. And then there had always been Alix, the only one who truly understood him, just as he was the only one who understood her, and now she was gone... But T'Reya was here, now, and he could feel her trembling against him under the massive hormonal onslaught. Was this the real T'Reya, stripped of the discipline and formality of Vulcan society, or would he be like a sober predator taking advantage of an intoxicated female? Would he simply be a friend providing assistance to another, and was this even the kind of assistance that one Vulcan would provide another? Was her judgement clouded to the point of irrationality, or did she know exactly what she needed? Was she the predator taking advantage of him?

    "Please..." he implored her. But to what? To stop? To continue?

    She stared directly into his eyes, and behind the smouldering, churning emotions, he saw her sincerity.

    "Please," she echoed. "Help me."

    "I'll help you," he breathed, unable to take his eyes from hers.

    T'Reya moved her hands from his face to behind his head, holding it in place as like a striking snake, she launched upwards onto tiptoes, pressing her lips against his so fiercely that their teeth scraped together as she then roughly pulled him to the floor in a passionate embrace.
    ***

    "Nemaiyo, t'hy'la," T'Reya breathed, relaxing against Marcus, her head on his shoulder, as her hormonal balance began to return to normal. Thank you, dear friend

    "I am glad to have helped you," he replied, reaching over with his free arm, and holding her closer to him, her body warmer than a Human woman's would be, remembering what had transpired.

    At the last moment, she had raised her hand to his face, involuntarily forming a mind meld, and in that instant, his inner-most thoughts were laid bare and she knew everything -- the agony of his mother's death, his relationship with his sister, his immortality, his fear of an eternity alone, but instead of the revulsion he expected, she had merely gazed upon him almost sadly, her eyes showing compassion as she moved her hand away, then shifted her body to lay beside him, spreading his discarded robe to cover them both. For the first time in over a decade, he felt no shame, merely acceptance. Just as T'Reya had always accepted him, had always offered him her time and company in return for his friendship.


    Starfleet shuttle Tyderium, Vulcan orbital approach, 27 August 2363...

    "I'm not looking forward to this," Vice Admiral Matthew Dougherty observed, looking up from his PADD.

    At the pilots seat beside him, Admiral Wesley Cooper, made a dismissive expression.

    "There's tri-ox in the medkit, and I've already said we'll beam down in the early evening," he replied. "Temperature should only be in the high teens by then."

    "I was meaning, I doubt he'll be pleased to see me." Dougherty clarified. "I put one of my former pupils through a sham court-martial just so we could use him for intelligence work."

    "Which returned some of the best information on the occupation we've had to date," Cooper replied. "But we never should have authorised that damned experiment, Matthew. It cost us a ship, and a lot of good officers. If the truth about the loss of the Pegasus ever comes out, we'll all be court-martialed for breach of the treaty of Algeron, not just the engineer we practically dared to build the thing."

    "It did yield some impressive data on cloaking technology," Dougherty admitted. "But that doesn't justify our methods. And what's this about a court-martial at the beginning of the year? Conduct Unbecoming, and with his own sister, no less..."

    "I was as shocked as you were," Cooper replied. "I damn near punched him out of his chair when he told me, but you've seen the psychologist's reports -- the circumstances for his behaviour were unique and deemed non-recurring. He hasn't got any other siblings, so I doubt we'll be seeing a repeat performance."

    "I'd hope not," Dougherty harrumphed. "But, I have to admit, that when it comes to engineering, he did always knew what he was talking about."

    "Which is why he's the ideal candidate for this mission," Cooper said, bringing the shuttle into a synchronous orbit.

    "Have we explored all the other potential candidates?" Dougherty mused. "What about Will Riker? He's a good pilot, knows how to keep his head in a firefight, and served solidly since he graduated from the Academy. By comparison, Marcus has barely spent eight months on a starship in his entire career."

    Cooper shook his head.

    "It'll take a tractor beam to get Riker off the Enterprise. And you know that the reason for Marc's deployment history was because he was on Bajor, under deep cover, at our order, monitoring the Cardassian occupation. Now we have a ship designed for deep space tactical operations, as well as serving as a mobile fighter carrier and research facility, and you're having second thoughts about the ideal candidate?

    "We don't just need a commanding officer, we need a test pilot -- someone with the engineering background to evaluate the ship around hpim who can say why something works or not, not just some spit-and-polish rank grinder who will bark orders from the big chair. Marc has those skills, and is still listed as an active test pilot. As unconventional as his career has been, he is the most logical candidate, no pun intended. After six months to clear his head and re-evaluate, I'm sure he's had enough time for him to sort himself out."

    Dougherty sighed and nodded.

    "You're right, of course, Wesley," he accepted. "Maybe I'm just getting old."
    ***

    Given the the hour, the foyer of the bureau of information was almost deserted as Cooper and Dougherty entered through the revolving door, and they took up place in the short queue.

    "Good evening," Cooper said as they approached the enquiry desk. "I'm hoping you'll be able to help us, Miss...?"

    "My name is T'Nari," replied the middle-aged Vulcan woman seated behind the desk with impeccable posture. "How may I assist you, Admirals?"

    "We're looking for a Starfleet officer, a Human who has residential status and arrived six months ago," Dougherty explained. "According to the customs and departure logs, he hasn't left the planet, but we need to speak with him personally, rather than via communicator."

    T'Nari regarded the Starfleet officers.

    "The officer's name?" she enquired, her hands poised over the screen of her data terminal.

    "Marcus Kane," Cooper replied. "I believe he has a residence in the ninth district."

    "District nine," T'Nari corrected firmly, before glancing at the screen. "According to tracking files, the commander left the city soon after his arrival, and has since been situated at the Folu monastery."

    "That's where he studied under Master Sovak," Cooper said to Dougherty, before looking back to the inquiries officer. "Thank you for your help."

    With a nod, T'Nari returned to her attitude of Sphynx-like vigilance, her gaze focussed beyond the Humans, in silent wait for the next to approach her.


    Folu monestary...
    "There, that hike wasn't so bad was it," Cooper said, as he and Dougherty approached the massive statues which overlooked the monastery.

    "It would've been easier to have flown out," Dougherty puffed. "I knew I should've taken a hit of tri-ox before beaming down... Where do you think he is?"

    Cooper chuckled at his colleague's impatience, and nodded toward a solitary priestess-initiate who was walking nearby, her hands clasped sedately behind her back, her diaphanous gown billowing behind her as she walked.

    "There's someone who may know," he said, before increasing his pace to draw closer to her. "Excuse me! Excuse me, Miss?"

    At the summons, T'Pinna turned in the direction of the call.

    "Good evening, Admirals," she said in Federation Standard. "You wish to speak with Marcus."

    Cooper and Dougherty exchanged a glance.

    "How did you know that?" Dougherty asked.

    T'Pinna raised an eyebrow, her hands still behind her back.

    "I believe it is still a felony to impersonate Starfleet officers, and costume night is not for some time," she replied. "Logic would suggest that you presence is to speak to the only other Starfleet officer present -- come, I shall escort you to him."

    "Was she making a joke?" Dougherty murmured to Cooper, as they began to follow the young woman toward the cave-like structure, hewn directly into a cliff face. In the dwindling light, the rock appeared turquoise.

    "Vulcan women're funny like that," Cooper replied, watching the mesmeric sway of T'Pinna's hips, and her long, straight hair rippling slightly as she walked.
    ***

    They walked through rough-hewn tunnels, lit with flickering oil-burning lamps, before coming to an ascending tunnel. As they climbed higher, Cooper heard music, a simple, ascending plucking sequence of notes. The metallic bite to the notes was clearly that of a ka'athyra -- the Vulcan harp -- but the melody, was one he recognised from Earth's past: Intro, by the XX.

    They reached the top of the slope, and the tunnel opened out into an open-air temple, circular, with cube-shaped stone seats around the circumference, and a double alter, much like the temple at Mount Selaya. At the foot of the steps, even with his back to the tunnel, he immediately recognised his former protege, and sitting in a semi-circle before him, were half a dozen Vulcan children, of maybe ten or twelve years old, each clutching a ka'athyra.

    "Master, I keep faltering on the twenty first bar," one girl complained, addressing him with the honorific of a teacher.

    "You need to relax your hand, T'Fairu," Kane said. "Allow it to rest naturally over the strings, and remember that that bar begins with a return stroke, to ready your hand for the following sequence."

    With a nod, the child carried out the instructions, but part way through, her fingers began to catch stray strings, and she stopped.

    "Don't focus so hard on which finger plucks which string," he advised her. "Use whichever finger is nearest, and most comfortable."

    "Yes, Master," T'Fairu replied, proceeding to play the entire sequence flawlessly, as well as manipulating the ka'athyra's rotatable pitch control to swerve the notes.

    Cooper wanted to applaud, but could not bring himself to interrupt the cyclic melody. T'Pinna, however, walked to stand behind Kane, bent at the waist to murmur in his ear, then turned and walked back towards Cooper and Dougherty, nodding to them as she proceeded into the tunnel in the rock wall.

    "It would appear tonight's lesson is concluded," Kane said. "Thank you for your attention."

    As the class wrapped their instruments in large leather sheets, and silently filed out, he stood and turned to face the admirals.

    "Wes, Admiral Dougherty, it is agreeable to see you, Sirs," he said, as they moved into the temple and down the stairs.

    Jesus, he's gone native... Dougherty thought, taking in Kane's attire, and now-messily long hair, worn in the style of Syrran.

    "We have an assignment for you, Commander," he said. "If you'd be interested."

    "As an officer, I shall endeavor to perform to the best of my ability," Kane assured them.

    "You know, there are times," Dougherty observed. "That I wonder if I was to cut you, if you would actually bleed green."

    "Thank you, Admiral," Kane replied, as they moved to sit on the closest of the rock seats. "What's the nature of the assignment you have for me?"

    "We're re-launching the prototype of, what some wag on the design staff, has dubbed the Akira-Class," Dougherty said. "Preliminary testing of the NX 62497 in 2358, was halted due to issues with Consolidated Fusion Inc.’s M/ARA and Impulse engine design. The test hull didn't reach warp three before the safety cutoffs dropped the hull out of warp, and she was towed back to the New Aberdeen Fleetyards by the USS Zachary, under escort by the USS Spann, for review.

    "After three more time trials utilizing the CFI M/ARA configuration, strong and potentially damaging stress fractures occurred within the main structural network. It was determined that the warp harmonics generated by the core was the cause of the damage, and the CFI M/ARA unit was scrapped. The NX 62497, along with its two half-completed sister ships, were put into cold storage for nearly five years, until someone at Star Enterprises came up with a better alternative.

    "Now those issues have all been worked out, the NX 62497 is once more ready to undergo a shakedown cruise. We -- that is Admiral Cooper, and myself -- would like you to command that cruise, so you can give Command a final evaluation."

    Kane raised an eyebrow in surprise.

    "I have not served in a command capacity aboard a ship in my career," he pointed out.

    "But you do have tactical command experience from your time on Bajor," Cooper replied. "You had men under your command on that raid on Terok Nor, the mission was successful, and the Bajoran Militia were grateful. That earned you your third pip. This will be no different. Just a quick trip from the ship yards on Aldebaran to the border, and back again."

    "The border?"

    "With the Cardassian Union," Dougherty said, handing over a large PADD. "Take a look at these schematics and specifications."

    Kane took the PADD from the admiral, and quickly glanced down the listings.

    "Primary weapons system is torpedoes rather than phasers," he observed with surprise, looking at the graphic of the ship. "That's a first for a Starfleet ship... Sharp turn-rate too, this ship was built to compete directly with the Galor-Class, wasn't it. And from the look of it, based on the NX-Class..."

    Dougherty nodded.

    "We need the union to see that they won't get away with another massacre like they did last year at Setlik Three, but in such a way as to show our strength without being seemingly aggressive," he said. "We need something which has not only more of a bite than the Excelsior and Galaxy Classes, but more flexibility it mission profiles..

    "As can see, there's also a fly-through flight deck, housing Kaneda-Class fighters, extensive science labs, sensor suites as well as variable environment ambassadorial quarters. This is truly a multi-mission platform, so we need someone who can evaluate every aspect of its capabilities. You were on the Academy flight team and are a test pilot now, you have your engineering doctorate, as well as the tactical experience, so you're ideally qualified to make those observations."

    "I'm hardly an Archer, Sir," Kane replied, returning the PADD to Dougherty.

    "No, you have the benefit of over a century of Starfleet exploration experience and protocol to fall back on, which Jonathan Archer never had," Dougherty said. "We know things now which they didn't know then. We've learned from those early examples. But you do have the same skill set, and not only that, but familiarity with the tactics which these ships may come up against. This isn't like any other test flight, Marcus, this could lead to a permanent assignment as commanding officer, but this first flight will be just a quick trip round the block."

    "One calculated to show the Cardassians what we have if they want to resume hostilities?" Kane pressed.

    "That was one of the parameters," Dougherty admitted.

    "As we used to say back in the twentieth," Cooper said. "We want you to do a drive-by -- just, don't start shooting."

    "Unless they fire first," Dougherty stressed.

    "And then give them," Kane paused, trying to recall the old Earth expression."'Both barrels'?"

    Cooper nodded.

    "Given the firepower the Akira carries, hopefully that will be enough of a deterrent that there will be no shooting, just a nice steady cruise to test the ships capabilities."

    "How soon do you require an answer?" Kane asked. "I imagine this is not an entirely time-sensitive mission, as other assignments have been."

    "We have a provisional launch date," Dougherty replied. "We can give you twelve hours, but if this isn't something you can commit to, we will move on to other candidates. You would appear comfortable here, and you're good with your students."

    "Vulcan is my home," Kane replied without even considering. "But I haven't forgotten my oath, I am a Starfleet officer, and will do my duty. However, I have to meditate on this before I can give you an answer."

    Cooper nodded.

    "We'll be in the diplomatic suite at the Weyland, for twelve hours," he said. "Contact us when you're ready."
    ***

    As he knelt in the meditation chamber, Kane stared at the jasif crystal form of the vre'katra -- the katric ark -- of Sovak, the Vulcan Master who had taught him the philosophies of Surak and the Vulcan Way. So extensive had been the emotional trauma he had suffered witnessing his mother's death, that the only option had been to create a new emotional equilibrium, based on Vulcan techniques. And to an extent, it had worked, albeit sacrificing emotional expression in order to maintain that new equilibrium.

    Illogically, on instinct, he reached out, pressing his fingers against the cubic base, but there was nothing. No sense of Sovak's katra, not even the slightest temperature increase, merely the ambient warmth.

    "That will not work, t'hy'la," T'Reya's voice said with a hint of amusement from the shadows.

    Turning, Kane automatically made the ta'al, which she returned. In the months following her pon farr experience, T'Reya's behaviour had returned to normal, albeit with an additional layer of familiarity, although neither of them had spoken about what had passed between them.

    "I understand you have had visitors," she said, and Kane nodded.

    "My supervising officer, and another who taught me at the Academy," he replied.

    "I presume you have been recalled from leave," T'Reya summarised.

    "In a manner of speaking," Kane replied, as the priestess-initiate moved to kneel before him, then raised her hand.

    "May I?"

    With a silent nod, he felt T'Reya first anchor her thumb beneath of his chin, then her index finger beside his nose, then the middle finger at the edge of his eye socket, making contact with the neuropressure points which formed a gateway to the katra. As Sovak had taught him, he did the same, as although he could not initiate a mind-meld, he was capable of serving as an additional conduit, of enhancing the connection.

    They want you to leave

    Yes to command a ship

    Will you accept

    I am content here

    But you are a Starfleet officer

    Yes

    You are being recognised for your skills

    I am being sought for my skills

    That is still recognition you have earned

    I only want to do my duty

    Then you must do your duty

    I don't want to go

    I have decided to leave

    Why

    Since our minds touched I have seen that there is more to life than this monastery

    Where will you go

    There is much to see here on Vulcan

    You think that I should go

    I think you should follow your best destiny

    Thank you t'hy'la
    ***
  • pompoulusspompouluss Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    New York detective Des Corvina shivered, night air was blowing fiercely through the hole she'd blasted in a nearby window, rain pattered on the drab office carpet. She shakily lit a cigarette, scowling as she looked down at the body nearby. The b&e perp had taken a phaser hit under the chin, Des' service weapon had been set to stun (per regulation) but at point blank range it was still enough to kill. Patrolmen were securing the scene, but knew instinctively to give her a wide berth -- even the most justified of homocides generally required a bit of emotional working through. She was so lost in thought, staring into the heavyset man's glassy eyes, she failed to hear Sergeant Oakes until he was red in the face screaming.

    "Cor-- CORVINA! DETECTIVE CORVINA! YOU GOT GUM IN YA EARS?!"

    Des blinked, turning dazedly, "Eh?"

    Oakes smirked, Corvina was a talented detective but an enormous pain in his backside. He relished the idea that her days might be numbered, "Back to the land of the living I see, that's good. Got a fella here to see you, his name's Johnson. He's with Internal Affairs." Oakes beamed and gestured at a slender, severe-looking gentleman in a featureless black uniform.

    With a heavy sigh, Corvina nodded and silently beckoned the mystery man over. Johnson approached, his voice was soft and deceptively gentle, "Wouldn't you rather stand somewhere else?" He had to raise his voice slightly over the howl of the wind, and clearly resented doing so.

    "I like the cold." Des stared out the hole in the window at the New York skyline.

    Johnson paused for a moment, watching her carefully, "I know why you like the cold. It's making you shiver."

    Des' blue eyes narrowed, she took a sharp drag on her cigarette, "Beg pardon."

    "You just murdered someone detective, after what I'm told was a very spirited exchange of weapons fire." Johnson gestured grandly around the room, indicating walls and desks pockmarked by charred energy weapon impacts, "The natural reaction to an event like this is to be a shaky mess, so you're standing here in the cold, so you'll be a shaky mess. Nobody gets suspicious. But I think we both know you're dead calm. You shot a man under the chin and... it simply doesn't bother you." Johnson studied the young detective's eyes carefully.

    Silence. The tip of Corvina's cigarette lit up in the darkened office.

    Johnson continued, "Not to worry, detective. I'm paying you a compliment. You see, that 'man' down there? He had a secret of his own. His name was Tavok, he was a covert agent of the Tal'Shiar surgically altered to pass as human."

    For the first time, Des looked up at Johnson in dim surprise. He smiled a joyless little smile, "That's right. To say you impressed some very important people would be an understatement. Frankly, any of your 'cop' peers would be dead in your place. Any five of them at once would be dead. That you not only survived but took the assassin's life instead is... exceptional."

    Des didn't feel exceptional. She turned back to the window, "Hooray for me."

    Johnson chuckled dryly, "Do you want to stay here, shivering bitterly in the rain? Struggling to keep the peace in a few miles of drab city? Hiding your instincts in shame from the very people they protect?"

    The question implied a choice. It was more than Des had ever hoped to consider. She remained stone faced.

    Undaunted, the mystery man continued, "Wouldn't you rather fight for something? Wouldn't you rather save worlds? Wouldn't you rather push yourself as far as you thought possible, and farther? Be honest." Johnson abruptly grabbed Des' shoulder; she almost put him through the window. If she had, her fate would have been far different. Instead she simply stiffened as he continued, his gleaming grey eyes seeming to bore into her skull, "Be honest with yourself for once, about who you are. You've never felt more alive than you did in this office. When you got him to the floor --"

    Detective Corvina clenched her jaw, "That's enough."

    "-- when you stuck your weapon under his chin --"

    "I said ENOUGH!" Des shook free from his grasp and stalked away, but only managed to take a few quick steps before she paused.

    "Again you mistake my tone. The galaxy needs people like you, detective, it always will. A five year law enforcement career, never once discharging your phaser. Discretion. Yet when the time came, you ended a trained killer's life as simply as closing a door. Decisiveness. I've found so often one can expect one or the other, rarely both." He smiled at her again as she turned, this time his smile seemed genuinely hopeful, "You could make a real difference."

    Des stared into Johnson's cold grey eyes, "What... what are we really talking about here? I need you to say it."

    Johnson approached again, slowly, as if she were a frightened animal that might take flight at any second, "I hope I don't need to clarify at this point, I am not with Internal Affairs. If you're intrigued, Miss Corvina, as I know you are, I want you to file an application with Starfleet. Sometime before the end of the week. In your application, include the phrase 'pale moonlight'. Your application will be taken on... a different track, and if you continue to show the promise you have tonight your new life will begin. Regardless, you and I will never meet again."

    Des opened her mouth to reply, but Johnson was already walking away.

    And that was how he left her. She'd finish her charmingly antiquated cigarette alone, staring pensively out the window, the corpse of her fresh kill cooling beside her. She wouldn't know what her decision was yet, but Johnson knew. He'd known from the first moment he saw her.

    He could always spot his own.
  • jonnaroslynjonnaroslyn Member Posts: 50 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    part 1 of 2


    x


    "I hate time travel. Always gives me a headache," Joanne complained and rubbed the spots along her jaw.

    Corspa shifted against the wall of the turbolift. "It's not like it couldn't have been avoided. You didn't have to accept this mission."

    Slowly shaking her head, Joanne sighed. "I did."

    "No, you didn't. Admiral Quinn made a proposition, and you told me you were considering it but extremely unhappy with it and unsure if you were the right person for it, and then you got a message in the middle of night and suddenly you've changed your mind," Corspa said heatedly. "And next thing I know, we're in the past to ensure an entire species goes extinct."

    Joanne stopped the turbolift. There was no anger on her face, just what she and Corspa sometimes jokingly referred to as her "Admiral mask". "Cor, please. I couldn't refuse. You know what Drake is like," she said.

    "Yes." Corspa's tone was deeply suspicious, towards Franklin Drake or her commanding officer, Joanne couldn't tell. "I know what he does, Joanne. Question is, what did you do to be in his debt?"

    A pained expression flitted across Joanne's face. "Don't ask. Commander."

    Corspa pressed her lips together and nodded sharply. At a quiet command from Joanne, the turbolift resumed its descent to the transporter deck, where Lt. Commander Hrin Ojhyni was waiting for Admiral Roslyn and Commander Eide to arrive. "Crewman" Daniels had picked the two Andorians to meet the Xindi-Avian contingent and travel to their homeworld, for the abstract reason of "doing as little damage to the timeline as possible" which he was quite fond of using. Corspa had made a face, but kept her opinion on that to herself.

    Daniels was in the transporter room now, too, talking Ojhyni through the use of one of the temporal tricorders they had built from Daniels' instructions. "This reading will indicate a point in time where a lot of timelines converge," he was saying, "these points will clear when you stop the intruder. Ah, Admiral Roslyn, Commander Eide. Ready?"

    "Sure," Corspa said unconvincingly, taking one tricorder from Daniels and joining Ojhyni on the transporter platform without greeting him.

    "Good luck then." Daniels said, "and remember, you've only got one shot at this. Time's quite messy around here, we won't be able to go back a second time."

    Joanne said, "be safe", feeling that a good luck wish was rather inappropriate, considering. Corspa wanted to reply, you too, but the transporter were already energizing.


    x


    The Xindi-Avians were - nice. Forthcoming, enthusiastic about having visitors from another species and only marginally worried about the impending civil war on their planet. Corspa, lying through her teeth for most of the conversations she had with the Avian ambassadors, found herself wishing that she and Hrin were on better terms, just for this one mission. As it was, Ojhyni was mostly chatting to some diplomatic aides about Avian engineering (the inside of their spaceship was comprised of a few large compartments through which the Avians were flying) and checking his temporal tricorder every now and then.

    When the ship prepared for re-entry into the atmosphere, the two Andorians were left alone for a bit. They found a window away from the Xindi and looked down at the planet.

    "You find out anything useful, Lieutenant?" Corspa asked, wincing when she heard the stress seeping into her voice. Ojhyni ignored it, his distant professionalism unshaking.

    "We are late, but so far everything seems to be going to plan," he said. Corspa nodded. It was surprisingly loud in the ship, the background noise nothing like the subliminal hum of the Mutabor's warp engines but instead a constant clanking and clanging overlaid with the screeching language of the Avians. Outside the ship, plasma was beginning to lick at the hull. "ETA fifteen minutes." Ojhyni had to shout over the roaring of the engines fighting to slow down their descent.

    It took a while to traverse the atmosphere, but when they finally left the final cloud layers, Corspa couldn't hold back a small gasp. There was nothing but deep blue ocean underneath the ship, dotted here and there with objects whose size Corspa couldn't guess. On the horizon, their destination slowly became visible: a large island, the neutral territory on which the Xindi had been holding their conferences, and were now hosting their most revered guest, the time traveller.


    x


    Once they had landed and thanked the Avians for their hospitality, Corspa Eide and Hrin Ojhyni were welcomed by a Xindi-Primate who introduced himself as Kisan. He was just as excited about meeting them as the Avians had been, and immediately gave them the tour.

    The complex they had built on the island was breathtaking. There were waterways everywhere, for the Aquatics, and open roofs and large windows through which the sun was streaming in, for the Avians, and other kinds of features to best accommodate each species. Corspa was starting to empathise with the time traveller. This was definitely a place worth saving, species worth saving from the suffering that would come upon them in the following centuries.

    "This does not seem like a world on the brink of civil war," Ojhyni was saying to Kisan. Corspa was momentarily distracted by a pair of Xindi-Insectoids scuttling past them on the wall.

    "Not anymore!" Kisan said brightly, "not since the traveller arrived. If not for them, I doubt we could have invited you here today. Just months ago, Xindi were dying every day."

    Corspa gestured at Hrin with one antenna. Months? And Daniels had sent them back only now?

    Kisan told them about the determination and sympathy the traveller had shown, working tirelessly to get the Xindi to lay down their weapons, build this place, and work on a permanent solution for peace and respectful cohabitation. "It is difficult", Kisan said, "to share a small world like this with five other sentient species. I imagine that even with just two, it would not be without problems."

    Both Corspa and Hrin mumbled affirmatively. Corspa thought of war on Andoria, against the Aenar, and shuddered.

    Kisan continued singing the traveller's praises, happily answering Corspa's careful questions. In the end, he agreed to let them meet the traveller almost too easily.


    x


    When Kisan returned to Corspa and Hrin waiting in the wide corridor opposite the doors to the traveller's quarters, he was accompanied by four Xindi-Reptilian guards. Behind her, Corspa could feel Ojhyni tense, and against her leg, the temporal tricorder gave a disheartening buzz.

    "We have relayed your wish to the traveller" Kisan said, "and they told us that you have come to kill them."

    "That's not true," Corspa said immediately, and it wasn't. Their orders were to apprehend the intruder, not kill them. Kisan looked unconvinced.

    "I'm sorry, but it's your word against theirs, and at the moment, their words are the only reason our races have not descended into war with each other." He sounded genuinely sorry, Corspa thought, as they were stripped of their weapons and equipment. "They are leaving soon, however, after tonight's speech in front of the Xindi Assembly. We will then escort you back to your ship, when we believe that you can no more do any harm."

    The cell they were brought to and locked in was clean, brightly lit, and too small for effective pacing. There was no forcefield, only a large glass door through which the two other cells could be seen. One was filled with water.

    They waited, estimating the time by the position of the sun which they could see through the narrow windows near the ceiling.

    "I guess we won't be talking them out of helping the Xindi," Corspa said, when they judged the time right to make a move. Hrin had been eyeing the door lock for a while now.

    "No," he said. "We will have to apprehend them by force, then." He pulled off one of his boots and removed half of a laser tool from the heel. Corspa did the same, and Hrin fitted both parts together to go get to work on the cell lock.

    They had anticipated this, of course, but Corspa felt simultaneously more reluctant and more driven now that she had seen Xindus, the six races working towards a better future together... to think that they were here to ensure the destruction of the planet, of the entire Avian race -

    The door opened with a small click.


    x


    The theatre housing the Xindi Assembly was just as colossal as the rest of the complex. with supporting bars on the ceiling on which the Avians were perched and large water basins set into the floors for the Aquatics. There seemed to be at least five hundred Xindi assembled, all listening intently to the lone figure at the podium at the centre, with their back to Corspa.

    The commander had a good view of most of the theatre, crouched behind the railing at the top rim. She could see Hrin getting in position opposite her across the large space. So far, it didn't seem like anybody had noticed them, since the Xindi were focused on the tiny humanoid figure whose voice was booming out, speaking of unity and peace and full of the obvious knowledge of a time traveller.

    Corspa looked over to Hrin, who, unlike her, had a clear line of fire and full view of the intruder's face.

    She saw him ready his weapon, take aim, freeze.

    The temporal tricorder was vibrating ceaselessly against her leg. Corspa felt herself growing uneasy, impatient.

    Why aren't you shooting? she thought at Hrin, what's stopping you?

    Hrin lowered his weapon.

    Corspa acted immediately. Jumping over the railing, she raised her voice and levelled her phaser at the speaker.

    "Time traveller!" Half a thousand heads jerked towards her, the Xindi scattering out of her way and their voices rising in outrage. "You are under arrest for breaking the temporal prime directive and attempting to alter the timeline! Turn around and hold your hands in front of your body!"

    The intruder turned, slowly, keeping their hands hidden. As Corspa came closer, she could see it was a woman.

    Grey hair, grey eyes, a narrow face lined with deep wrinkles, framed by paling spots - what was a Trill doing here?

    Corspa's blood ran cold. No. She heard yelling, was dimly aware of Hrin hurrying down the stairs -

    Joanne raised a weapon, and shot.



    part 2 here
  • jonnaroslynjonnaroslyn Member Posts: 50 Arc User
    edited July 2014
    part 2 of 2


    x


    When Corspa came to, it was to the sight of a white ceiling and Hrin's worried face hovering at the edge of her vision.

    "I - I didn't dream that, did I." She tried to sit up and groaned at how stiff her upper body was where she'd been hit by the phaser beam. She was in a hospital bed, the rest of the room hidden from her by a grey curtain.

    Hrin shook his head. "No." The tips of his antennae had paled to a blueish grey, and he wouldn't look at Corspa. "No, it was - is - the Admiral."

    "But how?" Corspa pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes. This was too much. This was why everybody hated time travel, because something like this always happened, things like people being sent back in time to stop themselves from the future.

    "Stable time loop?" Hrin said, his usually confident voice quiet. "Daniels did say that there were temporal anomalies around the planet."

    "Yes, but." Corspa lowered her hands onto the bedsheets. It was almost the same colour as her skin, a washed-out blue. She looked around, finding her tricorder and communicator on the bedside table. Their weapons were nowhere in sight, but then again, they should count themselves lucky they hadn't been thrown in that cell again, after breaking out and almost shooting the trav- Admiral Roslyn.

    "I wonder for how long this has been going on", Hrin said, seemingly talking to himself, "how many times she has gone back in time. How long she's been trapped like this. Being ordered to stop history from being altered, succeeding, going back in time to alter history, failing because she was stopped by herself, going back again, and again, and again." He paused. "I wonder who started it. There must've been someone trying to save the Xindi at the very beginning, someone who was successfully stopped by Admiral Roslyn."

    "Jonathan Archer?"

    Hrin didn't laugh, but his face relaxed slightly. "We'll never know."

    "Either way," Corspa said, "it's stupid, stupid, stupid." She was clenching her fists, a sudden anger rushing through her at Joanne for trapping herself in a time loop, for trapping herself and Hrin and the entire crew of the Mutabor. "Oh, don't look so scandalised." The expression on Hrin's face had started to turn indignant, clearly not appreciating the tone in which Corspa was speaking about their commanding officer.

    "It's just so typical," she continued with a sigh, "she gets involved with people like Fra- with the wrong people, and has to repay some debt, and ends up travelling through time to stop herself travelling through time. How daft is that?"

    "Good to know that you still have such a high opinion of me."

    Hrin's and Corspa's heads jerked up. The curtains around the bed had been drawn aside, and Joanne, future Joanne, was standing there, looking at Hrin and Corspa like all she wanted to do was to reach out and touch them, but was holding herself back with an iron will. Behind her were four heavily-armed Xindi-Reptilians, followed by Kisan. The tide had clearly turned. After a moment, he nodded at them and the guards stepped back enough to give them some privacy.

    "I'm sorry I shot you, by the way," Joanne said, sitting down at the foot of the bed. Corspa could only stare. She hadn't realised before how old Joanne looked, how tired. She seemed faded, the colour drained from her hair and skin and spots. Amidst the wrinkles on her face, there was tension on her forehead that Corspa immediately recognised as the sign of headaches. Headaches from time travel.

    "Why... why are you here, Joanne? Why are you doing this?" Corspa finally got out.

    The sad smile with which Joanne had been watching them vanished.

    "We watched the Xindi civil war unfold. Hours after you returned the first missiles were launched. Daniels brought us back to our time, from one war to another. The mission had been a success, history had proceeded as it should but... I was beginning to doubt that it had been worth it. There was... an incident, a few weeks later. Starfleet lost a large number of ships, the new alliance with the Klingons was crumbling already, and the Voth and the Undine and the Borg and the Tholians were closing in on us... nothing had changed, except my outlook on things."

    Her head bowed, Joanne was absently stroking the spots along her temple in a gesture so familiar that Corspa had to grip the bedsheets hard to keep herself from pulling Joanne against her, like she used to do with her, younger, Joanne whenever the Admiral had a bad day. To her surprise, Hrin looked like he was feeling exactly the same.

    Joanne continued on, oblivious. "Over the years, I started thinking. Was the extinction of a whole peaceful race and the destruction of the planet of five more really necessary, just so that some four hundred years in the future, dozens of species could be waging war against each other? What if the Federation had been founded later? What if the Xindi had been founding members? And even when I wasn't thinking about the Federation, I felt guilty. I had indirectly caused a genocide. Because of my orders, you two were just as responsible. I couldn't bear it, the thought that I had done this, that I had done this to you... so I decided to go back. To do better than whoever had tried before me. I only realised what was going on when Kisan described the ship that had appeared in orbit around Xindus," she explained.

    "No!" Corspa erupted, reaching out to grasp Joanne's wrist. "It's not - it wasn't your fault! If the Mutabor hadn't been sent back, someone else would have! The timeline would've been fixed one way or another, by you, by any other Captain. You could've refused, and it wouldn't have made a damn difference."

    There was a shocked little smile from Joanne at hearing the Andorian commander swear, but Corspa ignored it.
    "I'm sure there is a timeline in which you refuse, in which you didn't do whatever put you in a position where you couldn't refuse the mission, one where you never even find out the details of it. One where this cycle of time travel is broken. One where you don't do this," she finished weakly.

    Joanne turned her hand, enveloping Corspa's trembling fingers with her own. "There isn't," she said softly. "There is a direct causal line from the day at the Academy when you first took that promise from me, to the day when I accepted this mission. You know this."

    Corspa shook her head. She could feel Hrin watching them carefully, and hoped that his loyalty extended to this future version of Admiral Roslyn as well. She hoped he would never ask. It was all deniable as long as she never said it out loud.

    The beeping of their communicators startled them all.

    "Mutabor to Commander Eide, Mutabor to Lt. Commander Ojhyni."

    Hrin was the first to come out of the shock. "Commander Ojhyni here."

    "Commander, Admiral Roslyn here. You missed your check-in, and Daniels is saying that you are approaching a crucial point in time." Corspa and Hrin both turned to look at their tricorders, which had given up on vibrating and were now flashing a distressing red. "Is everything alright?"

    "Yes," Hrin said slowly. "We are talking to the intruder now," Corspa added, hoping the tremors in her voice didn't carry over the comm link.

    "Good work. Who are they?"

    Corspa had to clear her throat, watching the older Joanne guardedly, who was looking at the communicator with an odd mix of longing and remorse on her face. "They belong to an unknown species."

    "Oh. Well, bring them on board. Daniels wants to question them, so say your good-byes to the Xindi and prepare for transport. Mutabor out."

    "Yes, Ma'am. Commander Eide out." Corspa said, staring at the communicator.

    "I remember this," Joanne said with wonder, "you lied to me."

    "I know!" Corspa snapped. They had never lied to each other. They had secrets, or at least Joanne had, by simple virtue of her rank, and things that went unsaid and unasked, but never an outright lie. "I wish I didn't have to!" It was meant to sound accusing, but only came out defeated.

    "You did it to protect me, my younger self," Joanne said earnestly. "You decided that it made no difference whether I knew or not, so you picked the option that would hurt me less."

    "This is wrong!" It was all falling into place now. Corspa slid out from beneath the covers to stand in front of Joanne, gesturing between them. "This isn't even about us! It's about the Xindi, and the Federation, and four hundred years worth of lives! I have to follow my orders, and preserve the timeline, regardless of how I feel about it all!"

    Joanne had stood up as well, one hand on the bedframe. Out of the corner of her eye, Corspa could see the Xindi turn towards them, raising their weapons slightly. Behind her, Hrin moved closer.

    "It doesn't matter either way." Joanne shrugged. "Your mission of restoring the timeline succeeds, but your attempt at preventing me from going back in time fails. Something happens, and I never find out who the intruder was, not until I go back again, and again."

    Unnoticed by all three of them, the temporal tricoders sparked and went dark. Their window of opportunity was closing. The remaining options were overwhelmingly ending in death. Time was preparing to curl back on itself.

    Corspa shook her head. "No," she said, the words like stones on her tongue. "I know you. You will come with us, and you will talk to your present self. Once she knows the truth, she won't do this."

    Joanne's face distorted with betrayal and fear, and Corspa's whispered apology was drowned out by Joanne's furious shout. "No! You can't do this to me! You won't--"

    She turned, her arm slipping from Corspa's grip, breaking into a run towards the Xindi.

    They all fired at once.


    x


    "There's been... a complication."

    "What sort of complication?"

    Corspa swallowed thickly. "The intruder is dead."

    There was silence on the comm link, then: "That's regrettable, but it does seem to have restored the timeline. Return to the Mutabor as soon as possible."

    Corspa took a deep breath, turning towards Hrin. He was looking at her from where he was cradling the future Joanne's body on the floor, giving a single nod.

    "Admiral. We're bringing the body with us."

    "Good-"

    "No, listen to me. I need you to clear sickbay, even Siluur, and have Daniels wait there for us. We will beam there directly. I will call for you."

    "Corspa, what is-"

    "Joanne, please. Trust me on this."

    "...alright. We'll prepare everything. I'll see you later. Mutabor out."


    epilogue


    Daniels had complimented them and made some comment or other about the temporal distortions around Xindus clearing up, before Corspa had shut him up. She had wanted to hurt him, but had no strength left. Neither had Hrin. They were both leaning heavily on the biobed, the future Joanne's body between them. Daniels was standing a bit further off in a corner, watching them.

    Corspa closed her eyes. They'd let Admiral Roslyn wait long enough. There was no point in putting it off any longer. She flinched at a light touch at her elbow. When she opened her eyes again, Hrin had already withdrawn his hand. "I'll send her in."

    Corspa nodded.


    fin
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,951 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    I initially said I wasn't interested, but Jonsills found me some inspiration and I've been juggling this and my entry for ULC1.1 for a couple weeks now. Part I's finally ready.
    From Bajor to the Black
    Just a small town girl
    Livin’ in a lonely world
    She took the midnight train
    Goin’ anywhere

    How’d I get here? How did I enter Starfleet? You really want to know?

    Nothing really Bajor-shaking, honestly. I didn’t have any relative who died gloriously in battle. Okay, yeah, my father fought in the Resistance, and his father even died in the Kendra Valley Massacre, but Kanril Torvo made it out of the Occupation with his skin mostly intact and didn’t join the Militia afterward. And it wasn’t patriotism, I think, though that’s one of my reasons for staying nowadays.

    The lifestyle? Oh, Hell no! Let’s face it, it sucks a lot of the time. The “strange new worlds” they show you in the recruitment vids are the good days; the rest of them are “woohoo, another average star with a bunch of dead rocks orbiting it”. And I don’t like really like killing people, although I’m very good at it.

    You want to know how I ended up in Starfleet? This is how.


    Satar 4, Seventh Era 943, Year of the Unseen Harp (June 8, 2397 Earth Standard)

    This wasn’t the reaction I expected. Anger I could deal with. Acceptance would be great. Active support? Even better.

    Instead, the look of silent hurt on my boyfriend’s face just bores into my soul and breaks my heart.

    “Why?” That’s the only word he says.

    I let out a breath. “Because I want to.”

    “We had plans. Alhare University?”

    “Dammit, Tiho, that was your plan. You got a guaranteed full ride to the temple schools because your uncle’s a vedek. I don’t have that luxury, and I don’t agree with their politics anyway. But I do my four and get out and I get my own guaranteed full ride, any public university on Bajor. And I want to be able to look back at my life and be able to say I had an adventure.”

    He scoffs. “You sound like a phekk’ta recruitment ad.”

    “Militia’s the only adventure I get paid to go on. My folks can’t afford the public unis and all the temple schools around here push the Orthodox branch like it’s going out of style.”

    “Deal with it.”

    “I don’t have the patience, you should know that by now. It’s either the Militia or I spend the rest of my life running conduit. Hell, Father’s already having me help him on the job; he can’t move as well as he used to. I want more than that out of my life.”

    “Why don’t you tell me the truth? You just want to get out of Priyat, El.”

    “That a crime? This town’s dying. Half the town just lives here because it’s close to Kendra City.”

    “Look, just call the recruiter up, tell him you changed your mind. I’ll talk to my uncle—”

    “The scholarship’s only for relatives, you know that. I’m going Militia, Tiho.”

    “Then you’re going where I can’t follow.”

    I glare at him but he’s unmoved. “Sao’phekk’tel ar bekral!” I scream at him, then storm out of his bedroom and down the stairs.

    His mother catches me in the parlor pulling my coat on. “Eleya, what—”

    “I’m sorry, Mrs. Nas. I … I can’t be here anymore.” I throw the door open and run out into the snow. I struggle to keep the tears back but they flow anyway.


    “Where’s Tiho?” Father asks me two days later. “I thought he’d be here for this.”

    “He’s not coming.”

    He pauses in the middle of loading my second suitcase into his battered old Cardassian-built groundcar, a leftover from the Occupation. “He broke up with you?”

    “I broke up with him.” Okay, that’s a lie; I’m trying to salvage some pride here. He gives me a questioning look. “He made it very clear it was either the Militia or him. Se’phekk him.”

    “Language, El.” He hefts the suitcase into the back of the car and closes the door, then sighs. “Look, I’ll have a talk with him—”

    “No, Father, just … don’t. If he decides he wants to talk to me again, he’ll call.”

    It’s an hour and a half on a two-lane ferrocrete road from Priyat to Kendra City, the closest shuttleport and the only big city in the entire province. The stark brown Cardassian architecture is a sharp contrast to the mostly wood and mud-brick of my hometown. We park at the shuttleport and lug my suitcases through the checkpoints. Father sweeps me into a bear hug. “My little girl, all grown up,” he says into my hair.

    “When are you coming home, Big Sis?”

    I break away from Father and stoop a bit to hug my thirteen-year-old sister. Even after she hit her growth spurt a month or so later she was never as tall as I was. “Not for a while, Teri.”

    “Mother and I made you a box of jumja sticks.” My mouth starts watering and I hug her again.

    The P.A. system chimes and a female voice with an Ashallan accent announces, “Attention, all passengers for Samren Provincial Shuttleport Flight 323. First-class passengers, please proceed to the gate.”

    “That’s my flight. I’ve gotta get in line.”

    Mother grabs me and kisses me on both cheeks. “You be safe.”

    “Mother, I’ll be fine.”

    “You’re still a seventeen-year-old girl. You be careful, understand me?”

    “Yes, Mother

    “And don’t take that tone. Now go on, before I start crying and embarrass us both.”

    The seat is in coach, all a government ticket will pay for, and it’s cramped as hell. I manage to get comfortable and nod off as we take off, but it’s a suborbital so it’s barely twenty minutes before the overweight Boslic in the seat next to me shakes me awake and says we’re there. I collect my bags and exit the airport, and a gray-uniformed Surface Arm sergeant meets me and points to a bus painted in grassland drab. It’s as utilitarian as my father’s truck, but the fuel cells are Federation manufacture so it runs cleaner and sounds a hell of a lot quieter. One of the male recruits in the seat in front of me starts flirting with me. He’s not my type so I ignore him and pass out again.

    Militia basic training is held at Camp Li, a base in the Kolharis Range named for one of the heroes of the Resistance, a man who died defending Deep Space 9 with the Emissary during Jaro Essa’s coup attempt in 2370. The surrounding mountains were plundered by the spoonheads for deposits of duranium and heavy metals, and they blew the top off Mount Bahatan with a battleship’s main disruptor to turn it into a landing field for orbital cargo lifters headed to Terok Nor. The effects on the terrain make it a good training ground.

    My waist-length hair is the first thing to go. It’s infuriating but there’s a reason for it—too easy for it to get caught in something. We also have to take our earrings off when we’re working. And we’re technically not allowed to bring outside food on base, but I bribe Staff Sergeant Tem with a quarter of the box of jumja sticks and she lets me keep the rest. They still don’t last two weeks.

    Five months of frequently hellish training follows. Physical training. Hand-to-hand combat. Guns, knives. Mental conditioning techniques we learned from the Cardassians. Technical skill assessments and lessons. tlhIngan Hol and Cardassian language lessons.

    I keep hoping for Tiho to call. He never does. I check my messages every day for two months, but he never does. One day I stop checking, and lose my virginity with a guy in my training platoon in the cargo compartment of an IFV. Turns out sex is a lot of fun, who knew?

    Three months in, they make me a squad leader. I wonder if they’re grooming me for something. Turns out they’ve decided I have “leadership qualities” and put me in charge of a team for Hell Week. They fly us out to Serpent’s Ridge in Dakhur Province, eight days by foot away from the nearest civilization, give us compasses, guns, and four days’ food and water, and tell us to hoof it to Camp Shakaar. Oh, you get an emergency beacon, too, but you press it and you lose. No real penalty other than your pride, but it affects your placement in the service.

    I grit my teeth and bear it. Father somehow found time to make sure his girls could survive in the wilderness. I was twelve, she was eight. I’m one of about a dozen out of the original hundred to make it to day six but then I step in a hara cat burrow and break my ankle. Hurts like hell but the disappointment I feel hurts worse, even though Gunny Lemri says I did fine.

    Graduation. My initial training company of over a thousand has been whittled down to three hundred, and of my original squad I’m the only one left. I struggle not to fidget as the graduating recruits are listed off. My royal blue dress uniform itches and doesn’t fit right, too tight across the chest. I think my TRIBBLE grew a little since the start of boot camp.

    “Lance Corporal Kanril Eleya!” Gunny Elwar, a one-eyed gray-hair who joined the Militia the year I was born, barks my name. “Congratulations, you’re going blackside. Republic of Bajor Starship Kira Nerys, Tactical Department. You’re shooting the big guns, girl.”

    I really hate it when he calls me ‘girl’.

    “Balus kren!” he bellows across the field at the end.

    “Balus kren!” three hundred voices shout back. It’s been the Militia’s war cry for thirty years. In Dakhuri dialect it means “Never again!”


    That’s the real story, Mr. Sisko. Nothing drew me to space specifically. I joined the Militia to get out of the town I was born in, to get a job and a college education. I was sent to space, because the Bajoran Militia in its infinite wisdom decided that’s where my skills lay. As for how Starfleet picked me up? Well, back then there were already movements in the Chamber of Ministers to shut down Space Arm. “We can’t afford it, it’s just a silly national pride thing, and they’re less effective than Starfleet anyway,” the Conservative Association said. “The Feds can’t be everywhere and they won’t fight for us as hard as we’ll fight for ourselves,” the Nationalists said. Politics as usual.

    In the end, like so many other things in life, it came down to money. Bajor was plundered so thoroughly during the Occupation that for several years afterward we could barely feed ourselves, never mind contributing anything to the outside world. Even nowadays most of the Republic’s income comes from being a trade hub—by the terms of the Bajoran Wormhole Treaty we get a cut of everything that goes through Deep Space 9 and the Celestial Temple—so we’re a lot more vulnerable to shifts in the galactic economy than other planets. With the economic recession in 2400 the money just wasn’t there anymore, and the Socialists joined with the Conservatives when the shutdown bill hit the Chamber floor. Space Arm would be decommissioned, effective Ilrani 7E947, or June 2401 the way you humans write the calendar.


    Ilrani 11, Seventh Era 947, Year of Ill-Timed Truth

    As the Kira pulls into a parking orbit over Bajor at the end of her final voyage I’m paged to the command deck. I file through the old Breen Chok Thol-class frigate’s cramped corridors, squeezing past a pair of corpsmen and stopping to let Captain Azro from Engineering past me. “Sarge,” he says by way of greeting.

    “Captain.” I watch him leave and resist the urge to eye his backside. He’s a decent guy; I’ve liked him since I came aboard three and a half years ago. Pretty cute, too; if he wasn’t a zero I might have asked him out.

    I push past a pair of armed security guys taking the stardust smugglers we bagged on our last patrol to the shuttlebay in shackles, squeeze into the turbolift next to four familiar faces, and request the bridge. The lifters squeal a bit as the car rises five decks to the top of the ship, then the door slides open on the bridge. I’ve seen vids of Federation starship bridges. They’re huge. This is anything but: twelve people collapsed into a room not much more than five by four meters. And what passes for Colonel Karryn’s ready room must’ve been a broom closet in a former lifetime. Lieutenant Fadil, the tactical officer, points to the door and I knock. “Enter!”

    I step inside and come to attention and Karryn Retta remotely closes the door. The CO’s close to Mother’s age, with dark skin, graying black hair and an old scar on her jawline from the last years of the Occupation. I salute, both in deference to her rank and in gratitude for her Resistance work, but she doesn’t look up. “Sergeant Kanril Eleya, reporting as ordered, ma’am.”

    “Have a seat, Sergeant,” she says, still not looking up. About a minute in I start fighting the urge to fidget before she finally lays down a much-abused PADD and stylus and apologizes for the delay. “By some dubious work of the Prophets there seems to be more paperwork involved in shutting a unit down than in running it.”

    “Ma’am?”

    “Never mind.” She leans back in her chair and I can see the fatigue in her eyes. “I’ve been going down the list of my NCOs now that Bajor’s handing space over to Starfleet. Same question for you as the rest, Kanril. What are you planning to do next?”

    “Honestly, I’m not sure, ma’am.”

    “Says on your recruitment record you were interested in the Ahuar Zorn scholarship after serving your term.”

    “That was four years ago, ma’am.”

    She nods. “It’s still on the table, though: You can muster out, go to college. Door number two, you ship over, go back to Mount Bahatan and get recertified in another specialty. You’re a good shooter, could turn peacekeeper or infantry, or you could do another electronics route.”

    “Either way, I’ll probably never be in the black again,” I answer in a sad tone.

    Her lips twist and her eyes smile. “Ah, a-ha-ha. So that’s what you really want, Sarge. We can work with that. Door number three? An inter-service transfer order.”

    I stare at her. “Starfleet?”

    “No, the Dominion. Of course, Starfleet.”

    “You think they’d take me?”

    “You’re qualified, and you’ll skip most of the training since we read from the same manual, more or less. You could practically just change uniforms and hop the morning transport to DS9. But there’s another possibility you should consider.”

    She picks up the PADD again, taps it a few times with her stylus, and then passes it to me. There’s a form on the screen, an application to a certain service academy’s Officer Candidate School program, with all my information pre-loaded. “Starfleet Academy, ma’am?” I ask for confirmation in surprise.

    “Your aptitude scores are good enough you can take the quals, and I’m certain you’ll pass them. Starting as an NCO you’ll be an ensign in eighteen months. Hell, eight years from now you could have your own ship! Better one than this piece of TRIBBLE,” she adds, smacking a suddenly flickering light panel with a fist.

    Badmouthing your own ship? “Colonel—”

    “Well, let’s face it, this is an eighty-year-old secondhand Breen frigate. I love her but I’ve got no illusions about it. Prophets, she wasn’t exactly state-of-the-art even when she was brand-new, and all the jury-rigging we keep having to do doesn’t help overmuch as you well know. Starfleet’s just plain got better toys. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. Where do you see yourself this time next week?”

    I say nothing. I originally enlisted because I wanted to get out of Priyat and be able to say I had an adventure before I settled down. And the guaranteed full ride was a nice bonus. But being out here in space? About a year in I discovered I loved it. Sure, it’s boring a lot of the time, especially in my department, but it’s beautiful. I never get tired of looking at it.

    I want to stay in the black.

    I really want to stay.

    Next thing I know I’ve taken the stylus, scribbled a signature on the dotted line, and pressed my thumb against the panel. I put the PADD down and the colonel smiles at me. “I thought so.”


    I return to Priyat older and a little wiser than when I left and visit with my parents for about three weeks while I’m waiting for the orientation session at Starfleet Academy. I find out Tiho left town for good two years after I did. Last I heard he’d joined the priesthood and was sent offworld to New Bajor.

    Mother fusses over me and tries to get me to have the veterans’ hospital remove the scars from where I was stabbed by that greenskin two years ago. I brush her off. They’re a vivid reminder that I’m not invincible, something I still forget every once in a while.

    That’s the reason I give her, anyway. It’s not the whole story. I may have popped my cherry in the back of an armored vehicle, but I didn’t lose my innocence then. That’s what the scars mark: The first time I killed, and the first time I nearly died. The first time I looked Death in the eye. The first time he blinked.

    Someday he won’t.

    Finally I say goodbye to my family for the second time. This time I won’t be anywhere near my homeworld for nearly four years. Starfleet pays my passage on a Gallant-class passenger liner headed to Sol, but I take some of my savings and splurge on an upgrade to business class. Definitely worth it: I get a private room instead of having to bunk with somebody. Transwarp still isn’t available to nonmilitary vessels so it’s a long trip. I have to make a connection at Trill and finally arrive in Earth orbit after almost a month of travel.
    END OF PART ONE


    Author’s Notes: I’m not sure how much of this Eleya actually relayed to Jake Sisko and how much is just Eleya’s internal recollections. Although she probably didn’t tell him the part about having her first time in the back of an armored vehicle. :P As for where I got the idea for that? NCIS’ Ziva David. Bajorans are basically post-Holocaust space Jews in a lot of ways and Eleya’s a badass action girl, so what the hey?

    The Militia doesn’t actually use literal Marine Corps lingo and ranks, of course. That was an artistic decision to draw a bit of a contrast with Starfleet. Call it Translation Convention.

    We don’t get much of a look at how people outside the military travel planet-to-planet in the franchise. I envisioned sort of a cross between a jet airliner and a cruise ship for the Gallant-class (which I made up).
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    Joint DTI/S31 Station "The Eye", Present Day

    The blond man sat alone in the replimat, staring silently at the flickering light in the left rear corner. He picked at his dessert now and then, a frown slowly growing on his face. A quick squeal emitted from the overhead speaker, and the replicator on the right side chimed as it replicated a glass of water.

    Without the glass.

    Jacob shook his head slowly. This wasn't going to be a good day.

    He heard quiet footsteps behind him, and turned his head to check on who else couldn't sleep. The crew on Gamma shift tended to eat at their stations, which led to some heated discussions from Alpha shift about sticky consoles. But Jacob, Section 31's lead agent on the station, didn't have time for the minor squabbles.

    Not when the lights were flickering.

    Sandy walked over to the left replicator and pressed the manual input. It chimed, a cup appearing where it was supposed to, but it was empty. She slapped the panel above the receptacle twice, and hot coffee poured out into the cup, splashing her hand. She swore softly and grabbed a napkin from the stack behind her, cleaning up the spill around the replicator.

    "That's going to leave a stain," Jacob said.

    Sandy sighed. "I suppose it will," she said, looking at her white blouse, now adorned with little brown flecks. "Oh well."

    "Can't sleep?"

    Sitting down at his table, Sandy replied, "Nope. And I see you can't, either."

    "Is it the hissing on deck three, or the smells from deck five?"

    "Both," he said. He pointed at the flickering light with his fork, then motioned to the replicators. "It's going to be a bad one, isn't it?"

    She sipped at her coffee, grimacing at the taste. "Yep."

    "Category?"

    "We don't know yet. But we've found the fracture point." She pushed the cup away, then shook her head sadly. "We're going to need your help, Jacob. And this one isn't going to be pleasant."

    The overhead comm squealed again, and the noise changed to an ominous crackle, like distant thunder.

    "Never is when all the systems start going haywire."

    "Let's go to the briefing room."

    Jacob pushed away his tray. "After you."

    *************************

    Jacob and Sandy walked into the Hub, central operations for The Eye. Sandy gently touched Jacob's shoulder before she ascended the spiral staircase to the DTI's overlook, but she wouldn't meet his gaze.

    He didn't blame her.

    Richard, Section 31's XO, stared at his boss. Rotating amber lights indicated a temporal emergency, yet he, and all his technicians, were kept in the dark. This wasn't the norm, as scuttlebutt on the station traveled faster than Warp 10. This level of secrecy was reserved for the bad ones, like Hobus.

    "What do you need, Jacob?" Richard asked quietly.

    Jacob walked over to Richard's console, placing his hands on Richard's shoulders. "Just finished the briefing with Drake and Quinn. Ready the Orca, and pick one of the class two candidates from the Academy."

    Richard squinted at his boss, not understanding the order. The Orca was one of Section 31's rapid response craft, yet a senior officer wasn't going to be in command? "Did I hear class two candidate? From the Academy?"

    "You heard correctly. Grab a midshipman, get them to the Orca, then send Stevens to babysit. I'll send the mission packet when they clear spacedock."

    "Stevens is on the Hornet."

    "Daniels, then," Jacob said. "Make sure he has an emergency temporal transporter."

    ************************
    Earth Spacedock, Auxiliary Docking Bay 8

    Clinton Jorgen stared at the gunboat lying dormant before him. He'd never seen this type of craft, yet this was to be his first command, and, like any first command, he fell in love with it.

    The Orca was painted a deep black, with gray squares here and there that would simulate a starfield when viewed from a distance. She looked like an Oberth that had the lower half cut off, and a weapons turret was mounted behind the bridge. Clinton thought he could make out a phaser cannon to port, and photon launcher to starboard, and he thought to himself, this whale's got teeth.

    A petty officer came up to him, giving a casual salute. "What do you think, sir?"

    Clinton returned the salute sharply, and his grin turned into a huge smile. "I think she's beautiful, Mister."

    "Daniels, Sir," the petty officer stated. "Yes, she's a great ship. First of her class, light gunboat." He pointed to the weapon turret. "Full dorsal coverage with a pulse phaser cannon and micro torps." He handed a PADD to Clinton, quickly adding, "But I'm afraid we're pressed for time, sir. We've got an immediate departure window we must meet."

    "So be it, Mister Daniels," Clinton said, taking the PADD. He tapped the controls, frowning. "There's nothing on this PADD."

    "It will unlock at our destination, Sir."

    "Which is?"

    "Not sure, Sir. The Orca's systems are automated for a minimal crew. We don't have to know where we're going, the ship gets us there." He flashed a grin, motioning for Clinton to board the ship. "We're just along for the ride, and to make a call at the end of the ride."

    "Wait," Clinton said, puzzled. "Do you mean that there's no helmsman?"

    Daniels smiled, saying, "You're looking at him, Sir. I handle tactical manouvering and weapons, Stevens handles engineering, Jones takes sciences, and Smith is our jack of all trades. Everything else is automated."

    Clinton shrugged. "Well, a small crew is still a crew. Let's get underway."

    "Aye, Sir."

    **************************************
    Three hours later

    Clinton's head was killing him. The pain started as soon as they left what Daniels called a wormhole, and grew worse over time. The voice of crewman Jones told him to take the analgesic that appeared at the replicator, and while it took the edge off the pain, it was still bad enough to put Clinton in a foul mood.

    The ship was fully automated, and Clinton watched Daniels input exactly two commands into the raised console behind his chair. The first was when they approached the warning buoy by the 'wormhole', and the second when they reverted to normal space. Clinton was confused, though. He'd traveled through the Bajoran Wormhole many times, and what he saw on this trip looked nothing like it. But he assumed that the interiors of wormholes would look different, and didn't want to betray his lack of confidence with a question. No, he was in command, and he would make sure that his crew thought of him as competent and knowledgeable.

    Daniels called out, "Coming out of warp now, Sir," and the lines of superluminal flight were replaced with static dots of light. A planet rotated in the distance, and on the viewscreen two hollow boxes indicated two unknown ships that were in orbit.

    Clinton sat up straight, and mustered that 'command voice'. "Report," he said, his voice breaking.

    Daniels suppressed a laugh, but answered professionally as if speaking to an Admiral. "Time to access your PADD, sir."

    Blushing, Clinton rushed to pick up the PADD. "Of course," he said, tapping the screen, and taking a long look at the single page of orders that appeared.

    "What is the meaning of this?" Clinton demanded, turning around to face Daniels.

    The latter gave a sad smile. "Sir, your orders are all there. The vessel to starboard is making an unauthorized temporal incursion, and you're to take her out."

    "Take her into custody, you mean."

    "No Sir. Take her out."

    "Starfleet officers don't murder people, Mister," Clinton said with a snarl.

    "Please check the PADD again. That ship is unmanned. It's a drone. We don't know whose, but it must be destroyed in order to maintain the timeline."

    Clinton tapped the controls on his chair, magnifying the viewscreen on the target ship. It looked like a civilian freighter, modular cargo pods above and below the main body. It was a dark yellow, almost Cardassian in appearance, but the energy signatures were showing a mix of Breen, Romulan, and Tholian components. He entered another command, and stood up to face Daniels.

    "Why are the comms frozen? Why can't I raise Starfleet Command?"

    Daniels smiled. "Sir, you received your commands from Admiral Quinn himself. They're written quite clearly. Why the need to clarify them?"

    "Because, damn it, you're asking me to fire on an unknown vessel without notice!"

    "I'm not the one asking you, Sir. Starfleet Command is ordering you to do it."

    "Look, Mister--"

    "Respectfully, Sir," Daniels interrupted. "You're to follow your orders. You're expected to do so."

    "Mister, you're out of order, and--"

    The comms crackled, and Daniels frowned. "Incoming message, audio only."

    Clinton squinted, and growled, "Let me hear it."

    The screen refocused on the port vessel, and a garbled voice came through. "Hello, ship! We greet you! <squawk> Please to <craw> come to us world!"

    Daniels tapped his console. "Universal translator is having trouble keeping up. The matrices are not calibrated correctly."

    Clinton frowned, then turned to another PADD. He linked it to the ship's systems, then pointed it at Daniels. "Bull. I took communications last semester, and while I didn't ace it, I scored high enough to know that this carrier wave *is* in Federation data banks." He pointed at the screen, adding, "Xindi."

    Daniels took a step back, placing his hands behind his back. "Yes. Xindi. But check the Mu band."

    Clinton did so, then looked back at Daniels, scowling. "This can't be. The temporal signature is almost 400 years old!"

    "Check the Sigma band as well."

    Clinton sat down hard, as if the wind was knocked out of him. "How?"

    "Come now. Put the clues together, Midshipman."

    "You're not a petty officer, are you?"

    Daniels' voice was quiet. "No. Sorry for the subterfuge."

    "Who are you?"

    "Let's just say I belong to the group that kept you in the Academy after that little incident with the pre-programmed test results."

    Clinton took his head in his hands. "That's not a drone, is it?"

    Daniels shook his head. "Doesn't matter. It's a ship that isn't supposed to be here. And you're to take it out."

    Jumping up, Clinton yelled, "If I take it out now, it will pollute the atmosphere at that range! That could contaminate everything on the planet!"

    "Can, and will."

    Picking up the PADD again, Clinton jabbed at the controls. "That's the *Avian* home world, isn't it?"

    "Yes."

    "And you expect me to do something that will exterminate a species!"

    Daniels' voice was cold. "Yes. You're just doing what already has happened."

    "I won't do it!"

    The comm panel crackled again. "Please, friend ship! Come! Trade us! Friend!"

    "They aren't hostile, damn it!" Clinton cried out.

    "Not our call."

    "Why!?"

    Daniels' voice went soft. "Clinton, we face a huge threat in our time. The Xindi are providing technology that can help us against the Iconians. We can't afford that history will change."

    Clinton was frantic. "This is the same as when the Xindi attacked Earth because some time traveling idiot told them something bad would happen if they didn't do it! Countless lives were extinguished! Three people from *my* family were lost then! Maybe if the avians live then Earth won't be attacked!"

    Daniels walked around his console and sat down, motioning for Clinton to do the same. "Clinton, I belong to an organization that deals with these issues all the times. We can't look at the 'what ifs' in life. Too many problems arise from trying to play God."

    "But we can change things for the better!"

    "We don't know that." Daniels picked up a PADD, entered some commands, and handed it to Clinton. "Take a look at the images. All came around from intervening when somebody though they could do 'better'."

    Clinton took the PADD, and watched the images go by. The Starfleet arrowhead, with crossed daggers upon it, captioned, 3 billion dead. It changed, still showing the arrowhead, but a swastika was engraved in it. 19 billion dead. It changed again, and a simple triangle with a dot were superimposed on the familiar emblem. 80 trillion dead.

    Daniels spoke softly. "Those three images are timelines where somebody thought it was a good idea to travel to Earth's past to 'fix' a problem." He took back the PADD, and continued. "I've seen things much, much worse than those three pictures. And I have learned to accept my place as a guardian of our present."

    "Are you with the DTI?"

    "Yes."

    "Why me?"

    "To be blunt, you have a predisposition to follow orders, even if they don't fit into your moral compass. Some organizations find that a positive trait, and one of those organizations ensured you remained in Starfleet when you should have been expelled."

    Clinton sat down, pointing his finger at Daniels. "I'm not like that anymore! I made a mistake! I've paid for my error!"

    Daniels' voice was ice. "Others disagree."

    "I don't care!" Clinton shrieked. "I will not destroy an entire species!"

    "Is that your final answer?"

    "I won't do it!"

    Danels stood up, and pulled a small device from his pocket. "A pity. Then someone else will." He pressed a button on the device, and a blue-green transporter field washed over him.

    Clinton jumped up, running over to the main console behind him. "Computer," he screamed, "enter a reciprocal course! Take us home!"

    "Unable to comply," the computer responded. "Command authorization for Midshipman Clinton Jorgen has been disabled."

    "Emergency override, authorization Jorgen Nine Alpha Seven!"

    "Unable to comply." The Orca jerked forward as the impulse engines flared to life. "Warning. Collision alert at present couse."

    "Deploy manual control!"

    "Unable to comply. Warning. Coolant leak in main engineering. Warp core breach in 90 seconds."

    Clinton screamed, "Stevens! Smith! Stop that leak now or we're dead!"

    The only reply was silence.

    "Damn it!" Clinton cried, "Abandon ship! All hands to escape pods!"

    "Unable to comply. No lifepods are installed on this vessel. Warp core breach in 80 seconds."

    Clinton walked over to the center seat, sitting down with an audible thunk. He lowered his head, wishing that there was something he could do. He slammed his hand on his console, and the viewscreen changed from the starfield to a view of a sky blue bridge, majestic bird like creatures staring back at him. The one at the center had the coloration of a bald eagle, and looked at Clinton with alarm."

    "Friend? Why?"

    Tears fell from Clinton's eyes, and he could only whisper, "Sorry."

    The Orca started to tumble, and slammed into the starboard wing on the Avian's vessel. Momentum carried them toward the planet, and as they entered the upper atmosphere, orange streaks began to flow over both ships.

    ***************************
    The Spider, 2033

    Daniels covered his eyes as the Orca's warp core breached in the atmosphere of the Xindi Avian's homeworld. The Spider's temporal shielding shuddered slightly at the shock wave, but held tight. He shook his head, looking dejected as the wall of flames radiated out over the planet, laying waste to countless lives. He looked at the device in his left hand, and watched as a red light first changed to amber, then green. As the fireball raced across the planet, the light changed to blue, and Daniels placed it back in his pocket.

    "Stevens, take us home."

    "Keep the shroud up?"

    "Yes, just in case."

    "So. Guess this means that Section 31 doesn't get another recruit?"

    "Nope. The kid passed his moral test. Just passed it too late."

    "Too bad. I'm gonna miss the Orca."

    "You're cold, Stevens."

    "Ice, baby."
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,674 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    Captain Seifer walked hurriedly down one of his corridors on the Prometheus-class Starship Phoenix-X. A crewman named Daniels tried catching up with him.

    "Sir! I need to speak with you?" Daniels called out.

    Seifer turned slightly but didn't lose stride, "Why don't you talk to one of my Bridge officers; I'm a little busy right now."

    "It's important," Daniels affirmed.

    The Captain turned a corner, "I'm sorry, Daniels, I've got my hands full--"

    "It's about the Suliban," he stated, "--Gah! I mean, the Xindi. I'm always getting those two mixed up. You ever notice how they're similarly plot-device'd aliens?"

    Seifer stopped, "Alright, fine, though I'm not going into your quarters."

    "But I've just poured us each a glass of Gamzian wine?"

    The Captain held up his hands, "No! Ugh! You are just......... just so awful; and the forehead-- Excuse me a second," He involuntarily leaned against the bulkhead, attempting to hold in a sudden sickness, "I'll be fine; just need to--- hold it in-- Okay," he stood up, "Okay, let's go to the Bridge."

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X approached a giant blue-hazed rogue comet, which was moving slowly through space as it was being scanned by the Vor'cha-class IKS B'Cnah.

    "This is Captain Menchez of the B'Cnah! Don't you dare touch this space object; it is ours! We were going to put a flag in it, but our replicators are busy with our daily gagh manufacturing," the Klingon yelled out.

    Seifer peered at the view screen, "Fascinating-- this thing is exactly like Driffen's comet, only, not destroyed."

    "Obviously, it came from the same source! What is taking you so long to come to the appropriate conclusions??" Menchez argued.

    The Captain furrowed his brow, "I just got here. Give me a second to process things and such and so on."

    "Klingons do not give seconds!"

    Seifer looked confused, "I'm not--- I don't know what that means. --Anyway, we're here because a Na'Kuhl man named Sayjan will be traveling back in time to prevent the Federation from forming. The fact we're from there is just a coincidence."

    "Except that if he's changed the timeline, it makes no sense that you are still here!"

    Crossing his arms, Seifer replied, "He hasn't changed it yet. But, by manipulating the triolic energy of this asteroid, we'll be able to jump back to a time in the past of which contains a future that he does."

    "That sounds unnecessarily complicated? However, I just cannot allow my battle record with Starfleet ships to be erased from existence, so please, proceed."

    ---

    The Phoenix-X fired a selective molecular polarization beam from its deflector dish into the comet. Realizing the haste in his actions, Captain Seifer snapped his fingers, "Dang! I forgot to tell Menchez to get out of the way!"

    ---

    Suddenly, the B'Cnah was enveloped by triolic energy and sent back in time to the early 21st century, in the Xindi system.

    "QI'yaH!! We are not to be in this time-frame!" the Klingon Captain cursed.

    Derok glanced over, "We should have never trusted the Federation!!! Uggghh!!!"

    "What? That is completely irrational. Clearly they did not intend to send us here. You need to calm down, Derok. Your attitude is unbecoming and a little discreditable."

    Stopping, Derok replied, "Sorry, Captain."

    "bIjatlh 'e' yImev! There is a Xindi ship approaching off the port bow!! They are hailing!!!" Ulkegh reported from tactical.

    Menchez nodded, "Very well. Just please stop yelling, everyone! It is characteristic, yes, but mostly annoying."

    "Greetings," the Xindi-Avian commanding officer opened, "Welcome to our home system. We are in a state of war right now, but would take great pleasure in escorting you to come visit our non-war areas--- we have two: One is an Avian koi pond at my mothers, and the other is an Avian bowling alley on 47th Street."

    Ch'Tong, at helm, scratched his Klingon-goatee, "How would the latter even work? Perhaps, this is worth some investigation."

    "yIDoghQo'! The real question is how do the Avians have starship technology when history records they could not even leave their planet???" Menchez slammed his fist into the arm of his chair.

    The Xindi-Avian nodded, "Indeed. This vessel is actually our first one ever. Yay, us! We should be using it to defend ourselves on-world, but every time any one of us Captain's it, we just cannot turn down the call of freedom and are compelled to soar blissfully throughout our single planet solar system. Surely, our inescapable deviation could not result in real life consequences?"

    Suddenly, a Xindi-Reptilian snuck up behind him and decapitated the Avian. On screen, more Xindi-Reptilians broke onto the Bridge and killed the Avian crew.

    Ch'Tong nodded, "It is their spiritual nature that has been their demise."

    "Ha! Now we shall use this vessel to detonate all the explosives we placed under our world's largest seismic fissures!" exclaimed the Xindi-Reptilian with glee. "Did you guys remember to bring the holo-imaging camera? I want to update my Risa profile page with it."

    His second in command shook his head, "Sorry, sir. The cameras were all destroyed when the Xindi-Aquatics hit us with that giant tsunami. We were wringing our uniforms for weeks!"

    "Rings... I like the sound of that. Let's update our uniforms to include ring-like shoulder pads. They'll loop around, right over our shoulders, unlike the Klingons' flat, unimagined pads of boredom."

    His second in command saluted right away, "Excellent idea, sir!"

    "Speaking of Klingons, I suppose you want to destroy us now, Klingon vessel?" the Xindi-Reptilian turned to acknowledge the B'Cnah's presence.

    Menchez held up his hand, "No! You must do what you must do. Not to mention, that decapitation was excellently done; dishonorable as it was."

    "Why, thank you. It's quite easy, because their necks are so thin. I've done so much head-chopping in my time, I sometimes wonder what it is like."

    The Klingon Captain tilted his head in confusion, "That's an odd thing to say so arbitrarily."

    Suddenly, the Na'Kuhl agent, Sayjan popped up behind the Reptilian and attempted to decapitate him, but only succeeded in slitting his throat.

    "Dammit! How do they do it??" Sayjan cursed as the Reptilian hit the floor.

    Menchez then relaxed, "Oh, that's why," and then got up, "You fool! Killing them is tampering with the timeline!!"

    "Yes, I know," Sayjan then shot down the other Reptilians on the Bridge, "As a time-traveler, tampering with the timeline is my purpose. How would you feel if you couldn't yell-talk anymore? Yeah. Not a pleasant thought, is it?" He turned to work on the control panels, "--Anyway, I'm now sabotaging the communications on the planet, in an effort to stop the explosives from detonating, thus saving everyone's lives. After this, I plan to manipulate all the Xindi-species into a lasting peace with each other! Hahaha!!!"

    The Captain clenched his fist, "You monster! The Xindi will then develop a functional, non-bickering-type council that succeeds in their efforts in destroying the Federation through mutual cooperation and perfect unity!"

    "I know. Isn't it so obvious that that's what's going to happen? It's suuuuch a sure thing."

    Menchez pointed to Ulkegh, "Transport him directly into the Brig!!"

    "But I thought we weren't to be yelling, sir?" Ulkegh was confused.

    He waved his hand, "Forget those orders!"

    "Qapla'!" she exclaimed as she initiated the transport. Moments later, her console beeped, "Captain Menchez, the remaining Reptilians on the ship have initiated self-destruct."

    Menchez gestured, "That is horrible timing! Hail the new lead Reptilian!"

    "Huh?" a view of a Reptilian in Engineering blinked on, "Oh, is that alien gone? Well, what do you expect from us? We are on the lower decks. All our Bridge-news has a 30-second delay! Also, we were working on those new shoulder rings. They look sooooo good."

    The B'Cnah started to back off, but the Xindi-Avian cruiser exploded and knocked several key systems on the Klingon vessel offline; most notably, the weapons and transporter systems. The shuttle bay endured a massive breech, blowing several irreparable shuttles out into space.

    "Uggh!!! This is all that Na'Kuhl's fault!" Menchez irked, "Derok, ensure he is flogged appropriately!"

    Derok scratched his head, "Do Klingons do that?"

    "I don't know. Yes, perhaps," Menchez tried to recall. "We do need to maintain a certain level of barbarism, anyway."

    Derok saluted, "Yes sir!"

    "Ch'Tong, take us to the planet. We must repair whatever un-damage they've done."

    ---

    The B'Cnah then warped for the planet Xindus. Upon entry into orbit, the crew began scans.

    "Captain, it appears only a few of the seismic fissure-explosives have gone off," Ulkegh explained. "According to reports, the remaining explosives are only a few days away from detonating, due to earthquakes, but the Avians are confident they can disassemble them before that."

    Menchez slammed both his fists into his chair, "Hu'tegh! Can we detonate them remotely ourselves??"

    "Not possible," Tayana, the engineer approached, "Sayjan's half-way sabotage was successful in disabling those devices' communications-- classic plot-block."

    The Captain got up, looked around for his cup of raktagino, picked it up and then threw it at a lowly Bekk.

    "Aahh!" screamed Bekk Rinn in fear.

    Menchez turned, "Unacceptable!! We will take our last Toron-class shuttle down and deal with the situation ourselves!"

    "But, Captain," Ulkegh interrupted, "The weapons on the IKS Hex are inoperable??"

    Ch'Tong spat, "Another setback? We should just let everything be, repair our systems, and head back to the still-open triolic time portal! It will be enough. The Empire will die a horrible, bloody death fighting the Dominion alone, but we'll have had some good Klingon-jollies along the way."

    "Perhaps," Menchez started, "But we must honor the intents of this mission, even if it wasn't ours to begin with. Destiny has put us in this place for a reason and it is sorely obvious that a Starfleet crew could never do what we can and must now do."

    ---

    Half an hour later, the Hex was landed on the surface, and the Bridge officers from the B'Cnah were already busy slaughtering surrounding Xindi-Avians, using bat'leths, mek'leths and tajtiqs of all kinds.

    "AaaaaHHHH!!!!" an Avian screamed as its head was neatly sliced off by Tayana.

    Ch'Tong TRIBBLE his bat'leth into a flood of oncoming Avians, one after the other, and another, "Captain! Must we continue doing this?? My arms are getting tired!"

    "Wwwwhhhhhyyyyy?????" another Avian called out, attempting to slap with its wings, but instead being gutted by Menchez's tajtiq, "My insssiiiddddeessss!!??"

    Menchez whipped the remaining blood off his weapon, "Do not waver! That is an order and plea for honor," he then surveyed his surroundings of death all around, "Captain Seifer is going to owe us for this--- him and his precious little timeline!"

    Another Avian ran for Menchez, to which he sliced right into-- blood flying everywhere: his dulling blade ensuring maintained continuity.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,951 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    Jump to Part I.
    From Bajor to the Black, Part II

    What did I think when I reached Earth? I was just glad the trip was over, frankly. What? I’m Bajoran. You humans may think it’s something special, but Earth to me is just another Class M rock like a thousand others. Only difference is I have to pay taxes to it, same as I would if the Federation was headquartered on Vulcan or Tellar.


    I materialize on a transporter pad at Starfleet Academy. My luggage doesn’t. Found out later it got beamed to Kabul by mistake. Typical.

    A human cadet waiting at the transporter pad looks me up and down. Blond, dark brown eyes. “Um, Cadet Kanril Eleya?”

    I guess he’s confused by my gray-and-green Militia technician uniform. I nod at him. He’s a nice looking guy, looks about my age. His collar has third-year pins on it and the divisional colors say science track. He’s still staring. “What, do I have something on my face?”

    He jerks a bit. “Um, no. Sorry, I was told to come get you and take you to Captain Ben-David’s office. I wasn’t expecting … What uniform is that?”

    “Bajoran Militia. I’m an inter-service transfer. I was an NCO, naval gunnery specialist.”

    “NCO?”

    “Uh, ‘non-commissioned officer’? I was a sergeant.”

    “Oh!” I see the light panel turn on in his mind. “You mean a noncom.”

    “‘Noncom’, got it.”

    “Well. Um, follow me, Sergeant Eleya.”

    He starts away and I shoulder my kitbag and follow him. “By the way, Eleya’s my given name, not my surname.”

    “Sorry. I’m Jerrod Dalton, Astrophysics major.”

    “Nice to meet you.”

    After meeting with Captain Peter Ben-David to get my classes and uniforms sorted out, and making a trip to the Academy hospital for a round of immunotherapy against Earth pollen and so forth, I get settled in and start familiarizing myself with the campus. They’ve got me in an old-style two-person dorm room roughly the same size as the Kira’s bridge. My roommate’s a second-year, a human woman with black hair, brown skin, and almond-shaped eyes. She’s Jasmine Velasquez, a warp core major who tells me to call her Jazz. Apparently her family’s been in uniform since the Revolutionary War, whatever that is.

    Starfleet has a much looser uniform code than the Militia so the first thing I do is start growing my hair back out. I still can’t grow it as long as I had it as a teenager but eventually I’ll have a ponytail again.

    Officer training’s mostly like I expected: a lot less physical, a lot more mental. I’m in classes six hours a day—everything from weapons engineering, my major, to conversational Rihan—and I hit the gym afterward to keep in shape. I start learning a new art. The humans call it krav maga and Starfleet made it part of the Command Conditioning regimen almost two centuries ago. It’s not very different from the Cardassian-influenced military boxing I learned in basic, so I catch on fast.

    About once a week, usually Friday night, I end up booted out of the dorm room. Jazz keeps bringing people back, boys and girls both, about half of them not cadets and rarely the same ones twice, and nonhumans more often than not. I’m not averse to the odd hookup myself—Hell, I vividly remember waking up with a hangover next to two passed-out Klingons with a cracked rib and several bruises in embarrassing places—but she puts me to shame. Normally I go to the library but three months in I hit up an off-campus club for a drink because this time Jazz brought back a girl and a guy. I file into the melee and try not to think about it. The music’s loud enough that last part isn’t too hard.

    After a few dances with people I don’t know from Tor Jolan, I go up to the bar and order a Hathon hammer. I’m a little surprised the bartender even knows what one is, never mind having the ingredients. Somebody comes up beside me and flags down the bartender. “Scotch and soda for five!”

    It’s Dalton’s voice. I turn. Dalton’s face, too. “Hey there,” I say.

    He turns to me in surprise and smiles. “Well! If it isn’t Sergeant Kanril!”

    I laugh. “That’s Cadet Kanril to you, dospek.”

    He grins. I never noticed it before but he’s got nice teeth. “You here with someone?”
    I shake my head. “Roommate kicked me out for the night.”

    “Boy or girl?”

    “Yes.”

    He looks confused for a moment, then his eyes widen. “You mean to say—” I nod to confirm and take a sip of my drink. He turns his head away and whistles through his teeth, then turns back to me as the barman, who I think is Napean but I never actually found out for certain, comes back with several glasses on a tray. “Listen, I’m here with some friends—”

    “Well, then I won’t keep you.”

    “I was about to ask you to join us, Kanril.”

    “I wouldn’t want to impose…” I trail off as he gets an insistent look in his eye. “Oh, what the phekk. Lead on, MacDuff.” I scoop up my glass and start to tell the barman to open a tab before I remember that Earth doesn’t use money. Humans, what can I say? They’re weird.

    His friends are a Vulcan named T’Shae with boyishly short black hair and pale skin who’s flat as console surface, a striped Bolian named Roro Brosh, a blue-and-purple Saurian named Sherik Akas who claims to be distantly related to the President, and an aristocratic-looking blonde Romulan named Arahael t’Rannoch. “Everyone, this is Kanril Eleya.”

    Chorus of hellos. “Hi there,” I reply.

    “What’s that you’re drinking?” t’Rannoch asks.

    I raise the glass. “Hathon hammer, cocktail somebody on my homeworld came up with. Start with bloodwine, then add two shots of kava juice and one of kanar, then you shake the whole thing over ice.”

    “Kanar?” Dalton looks confused.

    “Cardassian liquor, something like forty proof on average.”

    We chat for a while about drinking and classes and holodramas, the usual kinds of things, and eventually leave the club and go to a burger joint down the street that’s been operating under the same family since the 1970s. I let Dalton order for me. The burger he picks has something called ‘avocado’ on it. The taste is hard to describe; Bajor doesn’t have anything even close as far as I know.

    The others say good night at about half past eleven. Dalton and I don’t. Somehow I end up back at his room. His roommate’s out for the weekend visiting family someplace called Johannesburg. I ask Dalton why he isn’t. “Call me Jerrod,” he tells me, cracking a bottle of wine. “And in answer to your question, I’m from Aldebaran.”

    “And that means?”

    “It means I’m closer to home than you are, Kanril, but I still need a seat on a starliner.”

    “Call me Eleya. Cheers,” and we clink glasses and drink. The wine’s from the Napa Valley further north. Not all that different from Bajoran springwine, maybe a little more alcoholic.

    I don’t remember afterward who started what or when; I’m just glad I remembered to get my contraceptive implant renewed the day before. I’m sober enough to ask him between kisses if he’s with either of the women we had dinner with. He pulls back long enough to answer, “T’Shae and Arahael are with each other, Roro’s married, and Sherik isn’t interested in mammals.”

    “Oh. That’s good.” Then we’re pulling at each other’s clothing, then we’re nude on the floor—what happened to the couch? Hell if I know—and I’m screaming aloud as he takes me, kissing and nibbling at the ridges on my nose.

    I don’t know how many times we made love that first night—I wasn’t exactly in a condition to count—but the light of dawn finds us tangled in a mess of sheets in his bed. He’s still asleep. I stroke his hair for a moment, then walk to the window, my front wrapped in a sheet, and watch the sun start to rise over the dark azure waters of San Francisco Bay, glittering off the water.

    I hear him shift in the bed behind me. “Morning,” he says.

    “You’ve got a great view,” I tell him.

    “Yes, I do,” he murmurs. I turn and catch him eyeing my TRIBBLE. I snicker and look back at the bay. I feel more than hear him come up behind me and he kisses my neck. I start to laugh but it turns into a sigh as he turns to nibbling my shoulder. The sheet falls away and I allow him to lead me back to the bed.

    That’s that. After that night Jerrod and I are inseparable. We study together, we spar together in the gym—I win most of the time; unlike him I’ve had practical experience—we meet up almost every night, with or without our friends, and we spend most of our weekends together in varying stages of undress. Three weeks in he tells me he loves me; I decide I agree soon after. End of the semester we apply for a coed room. Four months after that I start telling him about my people’s betrothal rituals, and I’m only half-joking.

    Then one morning, just over a year after we met in Club Berliner, I wake up and Jerrod’s nowhere to be found. No note, no audio message on the console. He left in the night, didn’t even make me breakfast. I go to Admiral Bartila and learn the son of a kosst amojan was offered early graduation and shipped out with the USS Planck for a two-year survey mission in the Gamma Quadrant. The only response I ever get from him is, “Sorry. Had to do this. Be well.”

    They say love and hatred are two sides of the same coin. I can vouch. I cry myself to sleep every night for over a week. Commander Thrass flat-out orders me to go see a counselor because my grades are suffering. After a couple sessions with a Perikian Bajoran shrink named Toris Lem I learn how to sleep alone again and I get myself back on track. I satisfy my needs with friends like Jazz and t’Rannoch and the odd hookup.

    I don’t have the inclination or time for anything else. The classes get harder the closer I get to the end of OCS. On Thrass’s recommendation I add some command school classes my third and final semester. They’re the hardest of all, but the challenge is exciting. I never really thought about wearing the red and white of a combat CO until a week into that semester.

    Graduation for the Class of 2403. Starfleet flies my parents all the way to Earth for the occasion. It’s good having connections. My new dress whites are a lot more comfortable than my old Militia dress uniform was, but you know how it is: they make them to look impressive, not for comfort. I’m in the top three percent of my class. I lost too much ground after Dalton left to have a shot at valedictorian and I racked up too many demerits for leaving my quarters a mess anyway, but I’ve still got ribbons for academic and athletic performance, and my Silver Cross is unique in the class. I see my father standing in the third row, beaming, when Admiral Daisuke Hussein pins a Starfleet ensign’s single brass pip to my chest.


    Yes, I still hate him with a passion, even today. I was ready to spend the rest of my life with him and the TRIBBLE left without a goodbye or a reason. Took me almost three years to be able to have a steady relationship again, and my next boyfriend still didn’t last four months before we split up. Jerrod Dalton hurt me worse than that Orion did, and I still wake up every once in a while from nightmares about her.

    Anyway, for the next three years or so I had a pretty typical career path. They put me on one of the big Regent-class cruisers, USS Betazed, as a section head in forward gunnery. After the first couple of days the rank-and-file crewmen decided they liked having a former noncom for a boss. We were posted to the border with the remnants of the Romulan Empire to keep an eye on things and provide humanitarian aid on request while Taris and Sela had their dustup. Rumors were already flying about the Tal’Shiar getting out of control, and we even heard there was a would-be splinter state calling itself the Kreh’dhhokh Rihan forming from refugees, disaffected RSN crews, and remnants of the few Ship-Clans that survived the supernova, almost a hundred light-years rimward of where we were in Zeta Andromedae. We didn’t give much credence to that last one at the time, more fools us.

    The aid? Off the record? Well, obviously the Federation had an ulterior motive. No, don’t get me wrong, we’re absolutely supposed to help people regardless of present or future allegiance, because we’re the good guys and it’s the right thing to do. Besides, Nova Roma wasn’t exactly doing itself any favors by blockading planets with curable epidemics, and a lot of the fringeworlds were having to deal with long-term refugee populations with resources the central government didn’t even have. We could feed them, and we did, with or without the consent of the Senate. But if we could sneak a few outlying planets away from the Empire by doing it, why not?

    By the time my second tour on the Betazed was up the Council had declared war on the Klingons over the TRIBBLE J’mpok was trying to pull in the Hromi Cluster, and I notified Command that I wanted a front-line post. Didn’t work out. They came up short on officers who spoke Bajoran and Cardassian and they wanted somebody with Militia experience to liaise on Deep Space 9—apparently their last assistant liaison officer got into it with a vedek and was, uh, politely asked not to come back—so instead I got sent home to B’hava’el for six months. Boring, predictable assignment for the most part, mostly paperwork. I did get assigned to deal with a Dominion delegation once, though, which was interesting. Turns out Jem’Hadar hit pretty hard but, protip, their joints are just as vulnerable as yours or mine.

    No, of course not! The Vorta’s bodyguards just got antsy and needed to blow off some steam, so in the interest of diplomacy some of us agreed to spar with them in the gym. I needed the exercise anyway.

    I probably would’ve eventually gotten a command by the usual route but, you know that old Klingon saying. We aren’t born great, we have greatness thrust upon us. I don’t always like that I had it handed to me early rather than feeling like I really earned it, but enjoyment isn’t a job requirement. After six months on DS9 my prior request for a front-line combat post finally percolated through the bureaucracy, I guess. By now I’d been a JG from time-in-grade for over a year, and they stuck me on this Shi’Kahr-class light cruiser, the Kagoshima, as second shift weapons officer. “Baby K”, we called the ship, in reference to the much bigger Noble-class USS Khitomer in the same squadron. Captain Alfred Detweiler was a very nice man in my opinion. He kept encouraging me to keep taking command classes over subspace, no matter what he was doing he always had time to lend an ear, and he had a husband and three teenage children on New Leipzig whom he loved to bits.

    Explaining to them why I was suddenly commanding his ship was without a doubt the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.


    I materialize back on the transporter pad of the Kagoshima as the ship shakes under another hit. The corridors echo with weapons fire. Sher hahr kosst, they’ve boarded us.

    My combadge crackles. “This is Security Officer Terel Khas! We need help now!”

    “JG Kanril here, I’m on my way!” I palm the access panel for a weapon and toss a rifle and Type 2 to the transporter chief.

    “Lieutenant, I am a transporter operator, not a soldier,” the dark-skinned Vulcan answers.

    “Petty Officer T’Shar, I rather doubt the boltheads are going to care one way or the other! Grab a gun and come with me if you want to live.”

    The Kagoshima was part of a fleet massing for an assault on a number of KDF positions in nearby systems. Intelligence had just reported that we’d already lost the element of surprise—they caught a surgically altered Orion in Crypto at Starbase 138--when the Prophets decided it would be fun to throw the cosmic equivalent of a bad joke at us. Instead of the Klinks, transwarp apertures opened right on top of us and a superior number of Borg ships emerged and opened fire. First time anyone had seen them since the late Seventies. Wouldn’t be the last.

    I hit my combadge as I head into the corridor, following the sound of shooting. “Khas, it’s Eleya! Where’s Captain Detweiler?”

    “Dead!”

    “Commander zh’Thirial?”

    “Dead! Everybody who was on the bridge is dead! Sir, look out!” I hear a muffled thud over the comms and then a scream, distorted by loudness. The shooting ahead of us ceases abruptly.

    By now four or five other redshirts, a mix of security and tactical crew, faces I know, have joined me and T’Shar. I turn the corner for a moment then duck back behind cover. I saw well enough to tell that ten or so Borg drones are doing their unstoppable zombie horde thing. Looks like something out of a bad Earth holodrama. I hand-signal two of the others to sneak to the far corner and lean out again, rifle leveled. Now I spot Khas, a Bajoran noncom from Semmel Province, leaning against the wall, twitching and moaning, with gray spreading from a wound in his neck. I spit, shift my aim, and crack off a shot into his head to put him out of his misery.

    One drone, used to be a Talaxian, I think, sees me and moves forward. I fire a half-dozen times but the shots shatter on its force field. They’ve already adapted. Phekk, now it’s too close! It raises its arm but I swing the barrel of my rifle and parry the assimilation tubules into the bulkhead. The drone robotically utters, “Resistance is futile.”

    “Oh, shut the phekk up!” Before it can try again with the other arm I slam the rifle straight forward into its mouth, feeling the static crackle as it passes through the force field, and just hold the trigger down. The drone’s head explodes backwards and bits of it bounce off the one behind it; the trunk drops like a stone. The other drones spin to face me. “Oh, phekk. T’Shar, give me your pistol! The rest of you, fall back!”

    “Sir!”

    I set the phaser to overload, holler “Fire in the hole!” and toss it underhand into the midst of the drones, then I turn and jump back through the doorway. “Computer, emergency seal blast door!” The phaser begins to emit a high-pitched whine and the doors slam shut as soon as I’m clear. Then there’s a muffled thunderclap and a staccato series of ringing noises as shrapnel skitters off the dense alloy. “Adapt to that, you son of a wh*re. Computer, scan for Borg life signs.”

    Chirp. “There are no Borg life signs remaining on the ship.”

    “Contact the bridge.”

    Chirp. “Error. The bridge suffered a direct hit from a Borg cutting laser four-point-two minutes ago. There are no survivors detected.”

    Over my swearing T’Shar says, “Computer, identify seniormost active officer.”

    Another chirp. “Lieutenant Junior Grade Kanril Eleya, Shift 2 Weapons Officer.”

    “Sonuvabitch,” Crewman Vibol says behind me.

    He’s right. Last I looked I was pretty damn far down in the line of succession. “Computer, hail the Khitomer and patch it through to my combadge, and direct us to Main Engineering, safest route.”

    A deep voice responds through my combadge. “Captain Yim here. Go, Kagoshima.”

    “Sir, this is, uh, Acting Captain Kanril.”

    Silence for a moment, then, “What the f*ck?”

    “My thoughts exactly, sir.”

    “All right, I’ve got you on scan. The bridge is completely gone—”

    “Figured that out already, sir. I’m going to try to take command of the ship from Main Engineering.”

    “Okay, near as I can tell, your engines and most of your weapons arrays are still intact but your primary shields are pretty torn up. I’m going to send over some help. The Borg are moving off for now, headed for the planet. If they come back we’ll cover you.”

    “Negative, sir, you’re worse off than we are. They come back before we’re underway, forget the recovery op. We’ll set the self-destruct, then you beam us off and get the phekk out of here.”

    There’s a silence for a moment, then Yim answers, “Understood. I’ve locked onto your combadge and we’re beaming a work crew directly to your location.” There’s a transporter whine near me and a buxom Andorian JG with boyishly short hair, wearing tactical red, materializes with six engineers of various grades. She introduces herself as “Tess Phohl, torpedo officer.”

    “Kanril Eleya, acting CO,” I respond. “Main Engineering’s this way. Computer, direct the rest of the work crew, fastest safe route to forward shields.”

    We get to a turbolift and head down two decks to the engine room. A mutton-chopped Andorian chaan meets me. “Bynam! Where the phekk is Lieutenant Hayes?”

    Ensign Ehrob flicks a thumb at a human lying on a stretcher, covered in burns and moaning as a corpsman fiddles with a hypospray. Looks like an EPS conduit explosion. “He’s still breathing but he’s no good to us like this. I’m acting CHENG for now.”

    “Seems to be a pattern. All right, I need to set up a temporary bridge here.”

    “Right away. Kuznetzova!”

    It’s the solid work of ten minutes to get shields back and full control of the ship shifted to consoles across the front of the section and in the break room on the second level. As we work I quickly quiz Phohl on her background. “Born in the Adris Islands near Andoria’s equator, majored in military history with a naval weaps minor, assigned to the Khitomer after graduation.”

    “Why’d you join up?”

    “To TRIBBLE off my thavan,” she answers with a grin.

    I drop the ODN coupler on my foot. “Ow. Your what?”

    “Her thaan father,” Bynam translates.

    “His family’s been Imperial Guard for centuries. I decided to be contrary.”

    I slam an access panel closed and take a seat at a workstation rigged up on the break room table. “Kagoshima to Khitomer! We’re online!”

    “Yim here, and not a moment too soon, Kanril! Reading two Borg probes headed this way, ETA two minutes!”

    I grit my teeth. I’ve never fought the Borg before today but I know that even the probes are supposedly a match for an Intrepid-class cruiser. “Bynam, set shields, phasers and torpedoes into random remodulation. New frequency every shot.”

    “By the book, then?”

    “It’s the book for a reason,” Phohl returns. “Sir, we’ve only got thirty torpedoes left.”

    “I’m not a ‘sir’, Phohl. I’m a former NCO, I work for a living. ‘Captain’ is fine, ‘ma’am’ if you want to be formal, Hell, call me by my first name, even. Range to target, sixty thousand kilometers. Who’s on conn?”

    “Uh, I am, ma’am,” brown-furred Caitian ensign in ops gold responds. I gesture questioningly at his jacket. “‘Operation Return’ is my favorite holodeck scenario.”

    I rest my face in my palm. “Fine, we don’t have time to be picky. Ahead full.”

    “Yim to Kanril, we’ve got a malfunction in targeting!”

    His ship must be worse off than I thought. “Slave your fire control to ours. You can handle the targeting, Phohl?”

    “With pleasure, ma’am,” she says, giving a toothy grin. Now I’m certain I’m misreading her face—she looks eager, hungry even.

    I think back to my Academy lessons and start last-minute planning. “All right, remember, people, it’s time on target that counts with the Borg. They’re tough but attrition hurts them as much as us. Ensign M’shass, put them on our starboard and keep us moving, fast. Try to use the lead probe as cover against the trailer. Phohl, scan for load-bearing points, pick a spot, and keep pounding it for as long as you can reach it. Let’s do this!”

    “Aye, ma’am!” they confirm in unison.

    We close with the Borg at high speed, the Khitomer below and behind us. “Entering optimum firing range,” Phohl says.

    “Fire at will.”

    “I have a lock. Firing!” Spears of coherent radiation limned in all colors of the rainbow erupt from our forward arrays and slam into the lead probe’s shields. The Khitomer adds her fire to ours seconds later. “M’shass, keep us on this arc! It’s working!”

    “Aye, sir!” We close, continuing to fire again and again. Suddenly I feel a jolt and we begin to slow. “They’ve got us in a tractor beam!”

    A stream of plasma slams into our shields. “Starboard shields at ninety percent!” Phohl barks.
    “Conn, hard to starboard!” I order. “Fly us right up the beam!”

    Whaaat?

    “Just do it! Bynam, prepare to adjust shield phase and frequency, one-eight-zero from the probe!”

    “Captain, you’re not gonna… Yes, ma’am! Ready!”

    The Kagoshima shivers around us as the engines fight the tractor beam and the ship begins to turn into the oncoming ship. “Engines to maximum!” I shout at M’shass. “Phohl, divert power to forward shields!”

    Now instead of fighting the beam, we’re working with the pulling force, taking us towards the probe even faster than before. “We’re gonna hit them!” M’shass yells.

    “No, set the computer to switch to full reverse after we pass through their shields!”

    “‘Pass through’?!”

    “Trust me! Phohl, get a lock on the tractor beam emitter!” Three, two, one, “Bynam, now!”

    “Adjusting shields!”

    The two barriers, phased at 180 degrees from each other, collide, merge, and vanish. The computer arrests our forward momentum and Phohl hammers her key, sending a single lance of nadions slamming into the probe’s unprotected hull and blowing a crater the size of our saucer into the tritanium alloy. The tractor beam vanishes in an instant. “Phohl, activate transporter! One photon torpedo, armed for ten-second timer!”

    “Beaming torpedo!”

    “M’shass, full impulse! Get us out of here!”

    Explosive weapons, whether chemical, nuclear, or matter/antimatter, derive most of their damaging force from the shockwaves produced when they blow in atmosphere. In the vacuum of space they’re left mostly with thermal radiation, reducing their potency. They also tend to waste at least half the energy released, since it radiates away from the target. But when a weapon goes off inside a ship, it’s going off in atmosphere, and with no wasted energy. There’s a blinding white flash behind us as the 64 megaton matter/antimatter warhead blows, ripping the probe apart from the inside in a fraction of a second.

    “Lieutenant Kanril, are you insane?!” Yim’s voice.

    “It worked, didn’t it?” I shoot back. On the plot the other probe, unable to slow in time, slams into the debris field left by its compatriot, ripping huge gaps into its shields and hull. “Phohl, Yim, hit them now!”

    “Roger, fire in the hole!” he shouts as the Andorian barks, “Firing!” A volley of quantum torpedoes from the Khitomer and more photons from us crash into the listing probe’s bow and flank and the ensuing blasts tear it to fragments.

    “See? They’re not so tough!” somebody says behind me.

    “Don’t get overconfident, Martinez,” Bynam warns.

    “Actually, she’s got a point,” I comment. “The Borg trade on the fact that everyone’s scared to death of them. Apart from that the only advantage they have is numbers and the fact they can adapt to frequency-based weapons.”

    “So, you’re not scared either?” he asks in a questioning tone.

    I look over to him and tell him absolutely seriously, “Trust me, I’m terrified. But when I was in basic Gunny Elwar used to tell us, ‘Soldier goes into combat and he ain’t scared, he’s either dead or stupid.’ Fear the enemy all you want, just don’t let it stop you from doing your job. Phohl, Yim, I need a new target.”

    Captain Yim’s voice comes through, “Not just yet. Let’s see if we can’t find a few ships that are still in one piece. Strength in numbers, right?”

    “Sensors!” I bark. “Who’s on sensors?” A dark-skinned petty officer three raises a hand. “Any friendlies?”

    “I’ve got a warp core signature, just arrived. Olympic-class, transponder says it’s the Seacole.”

    “Hail them.”

    The Seacole is a hospital ship that we were supposed to escort to the facility on Relva VII after retaking it from the Klingons, but that’s obviously not happening, and so we spend the next hour rescuing survivors from several disabled ships and ferrying the wounded to the doctors. Another party of probes interrupts us but they’ve already taken heavy damage and prove no match. We move on to the planet itself, gathering surviving colonists by transporter before the Khitomer demolishes the entire site with a torpedo bombardment. By now additional reinforcements, a couple of damaged but warp-worthy Excalibur-class cruisers and a Dervish-class escort, have dribbled in and we begin burning hard for deep space.

    “Captain, I’ve got a transwarp aperture opening ahead of us. Oh, Schei
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,391 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    The dinner had gone very well, An’riel decided, but she hadn’t been expecting to get an offer for a private meeting out of it, let alone drinks. Especially with something that was... so alien. Her host, Admiral Revka, was humanoid technically, but she’d never encountered a species with purple skin, combined with the sweltering temperatures her host seemed comfortable with, made her wonder what hellish star her host originally came from. Right now most of what she could see was a hand, faintly scaled and darker than a nanov, as her host, Vice Admiral, Quinn’s wonder child, and commander of her own task force from on board this giant star cruiser, rooted around for a pair of clean glasses.

    Still, she could probably work with Satra and put together a xenosociology paper on cultures mixing of food, drink, and business.

    An'riel looked around the office to try to keep distracting herself from the heat. It was large, but that had stopped distracting her on Federation ships since visiting Spacedock. Several fascinating-looking rocks were hovering in stasis fields. At least two unusual geodes, what looked like a cracked dilithium crystal, and some sort of scale model of a Horta. There was also what looked like a pre-impulse fusion rocket, encased in Lucite, and models of several classes of Federation cruiser, inching towards the present.

    I am a cosmopolitan part of the Romulan Republic. Openness is our goal. I will not be disturbed by Starfleet’s rising star just because she doesn’t blink, she chided to herself, throwing the cloak that came with her dress uniform back so she could sit down. To her surprise, the air by the chair was cooler and there was a faint flash of an air-permeable forcefield, bringing the temperature down to reasonable. She nearly jumped, and her host popped her head up and grinned impishly.

    “You like? I built it out in my spare time – my first officer’s Andorian, and the current Starfleet standard temperatures were rough on both of us, and you would not believe the paperwork we have to fight through. The fuel requisitions for escorts alone,” she shook her head and went back to rooting.

    An’riel leaned back in her (suddenly much more comfortable) chair. There was a lot of tech behind that statement. Sensors, computer clusters, advanced environmental shielding. And this was a flag officer’s side project as a gift. She shook her head. A few years ago she’d been scanning groundwater deposits in between runs with D’vex trying to make sure they weren’t going to get jumped by their own government.

    She stopped and shook her head. Scale patterns and furrows did not translate to wrinkles and age like more mammalian species. Converting to Federation standard years… a few years ago this Admiral had been starting Starfleet Academy.

    “Ha!” came from under the desk, followed by a muffled thump and some clattering. Two glasses were hoisted triumphantly, followed by a small green decanter. She paused briefly at An’riel’s head-shaking.


    "Is the forcefiled too confining?" Antonine looked somewhat anxious as she worked on the stopper, "I'm sorry - I've read everything Starfleet has, but our sociology indexes on Romulans are a little thin." She frowned, "I've made things harder than they should have been from it before, honestly."

    An'riel laughed, "No, it's not odd. Just... the Empire always envied and coveted the Federation's resource... it was one reason things were always harsh, to be able to match it, but..." she sighed, "They never saw the reason why. You haven't caused an offense to my sense of duty. Art has always been one of the branches." She tapped the forcefield, letting it flash to cerulean briefly. "This certainly qualifies." She laughed again, "They really didn't get it. So many peoples..."

    The bottle finally came open and her Starfleet counterpart said casually, "Is that why you signed on as an auxiliary with us? To learn more?" She poured out a generous portion, and continued, "The Republic is in a much stronger position now, and I've read your file, admittedly - you could easily concentrate more on the dissolution of the Tal Shiar if you transferred back to fully under their command. As I understand, you lost out on the flagship appointment."

    An'riel took the proffered glass. "I wish it just was. Getting to see Earth was something I never thought would happen, let alone walking the Academy or Starfleet command. Though it wasn't just the civilian aid either the Federation was helping, though that helped... it was..." she sighed, "I'm not sure I have the right words for it. The combination. The Federation could do all that, even locked in battle as it was, it was still extending a hand."

    She frowned thinking back. The battered flotilla, trying to find and extend aid even as their worries of simply ending up dead in space. Going from prospecting and a dab hand at a scanner to keeping the broken family of her crew going. The constant nightmares - of being snatched away to Elements knew in the middle of the night... and they'd just gotten worse for everyone when they'd found the Elachi base. Trying to establish supply routes, mutual defense, before stumbling on plot after plot, trying to keep some forward momentum going and prove their entire species wasn’t damned as a bunch of paranoid xenophobes.

    She tried again, "The Federation... just naturally, it trades, or offers, and values so many things highly. Duty in the Empire had descended to obedience. There was no care for talents... and soon it was becoming subservience. My little world was trying to build... but the Federation just does it. They gave us a home. Joining Starfleet to fight as... an auxiliary?" she tried re-using the word. She suspected it was another of those double-meaning and resolved to look it up. She'd always used mercenary. "It was the least I could do. It was a different way to fight." She took a sip, and then a more appreciative one. One of those overlooked benefits to multiculturalism were all the different breweries.

    "The Klingons... there was a good chance to gain security for what we were building, keep their attention focused elsewhere and end their old feuds with us." She snorted. The Klingons had always been a second consideration to Romulans, she'd broken into enough strategy files from the old days to see that. It had been the numbers the Houses gave Starfleet that frightened the Empire.

    "But... the Klingons don't change. Glory and honor in battle... we have that too. But we had that... and, it didn't help." She felt a bit flustered, these weren't the easiest comments in her own tongue and translating wasn't helping. "I think I'd have done fine there, and a lot of good captains joined their so their ships would stay maintained and help the Republic's security, but... it couldn't be all vengeance glory and blood feuds..." She looked down, "I had one of those that ended a while ago. I'd like to avoid attracting others."

    She looked up and around, "Is it why you joined up? To bring something back to your home? The Borg hadn't returned when you started shooting up the ranks," she pointed out. Her host wasn't the only one who could read a personnel file, after all.

    "No," Revka said, "That was being done by the Federation just... for joining." She pointed at the model, "My homeworld is one generation into warp flight. I remember being at home with my family... the first ship to leave our system, a creaky fusion reactor tied to barely stable warp coils." She laughed, "Six months later, it reported from our nearest stellar neighbor... that they were friendly, and large, and had to come help."

    "Six months?" An'riel said with surprise. She'd seen the First Contact initiatives as part of the near-endless briefings when she'd first reached a Starfleet Operations office after the paperwork was done. Starfleet generally had a better judge on when warp-flight was to be gained.

    "Yes - they waited you see. Because they knew we could do it, and then they showed us how to do it... and everything else better," Admiral Revka smiled, thinking decades back to an enthusiastic newscaster interviewing a stout Starfleet Saurian, "We were not slow or second-class was what they wanted to show, but simply later to the stars. I run a lot of exploration expeditions out of this office, I try to impress that. I joined as an engineer to help build Starfleet's next generation... but fate had other plans." She said with a bittersweet laugh and a generous swig.

    An'riel followed with some true laughter. When she finally stopped, at an inquiring gaze, she explained, "Oh yes - when the Elements have you picked out for luck, you can simply try and execute with grace and honor." She paused, and decided not to correct on the flagship issue. There were plenty of deserving candidates, and it made too much sense to have someone who was actually a captain and from a Navy run it. Even ignoring her own remarkable knack for finding and destroying conspiracies.

    She raised her glass, "But to the Federation, who can supply both without needing you to go look for them, or to snatch from someone else." Revka came around the desk, bringing the decanter, before raising her own.

    "And to the Republic, which proves an idea can still be given form without losing itself." The two women drank. Their obligations would catch up with them soon enough - or their crew would simply find them again, but at least for a moment, it was nice to be reminded why it had started, instead of the hows.
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • takeshi6takeshi6 Member Posts: 752 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    (First, let me say that this was originally written with help from FanFiction.Net Writer Ron the True Fan as part of another story we were working on. However, I recently realized it would work for this thing, too, so I got the OK from him, and here it is!! Enjoy!! :D)
    Personal Log, Ensign Takeshi Yamato, Stardate 83052.1.

    Talk about a busy first assignment - fresh out of the Academy, and I'm already on a ship headed for the front lines!!

    Apparently, the Klingons are making a move on the Archanis Sector again. They'd claimed it once back before the Dominion War, and now they're moving to claim it once more.

    Our ship is part of a fleet in the Archanis System itself, though we've heard there's a much larger Klingon Fleet inbound. We won't be able to hold them off forever, but we're supposed to buy time for civilian transports to evacuate all non-combatants. No one wants to leave the civilians behind as prisoners for the Klingons, or slaves for the Orions.

    I'm a bit nervous, but the Captain apparently trusts my piloting skills enough to make me the helmsman of the ship. I just hope I can live up to that trust, and live up to the legacy of all the Yamatos who have come before me.

    Saber-Class Escort Vessel USS Murasame, Archanis System

    The Federation fleet were standing by to engage the Klingons should they arrive earlier than expected, and the flagship was relaying orders to every ship in the fleet, including one ship of the Saber-Class, which was patrolling the outer perimeter, ready to sound the alarm if the Klingons came in guns blazing. The Captain, a veteran of the service, sighed before looking at the Helmsman. "Ensign, you seem a bit anxious," he said.

    The Helmsman, a young man of 20 just barely out of the Academy, with dark brown hair done in a buzzcut, a fairly bushy dark brown moustache, and violet eyes, turned to look at the Captain. "Well, not so much anxious as nervous, sir," he replied. "I know my Flight Scores in the Academy were top-notch, but this'll be my first time piloting a starship under actual combat conditions, and given how much is at stake in this battle..."

    "You'll do fine, Ensign," the Captain informed. "Your family's been producing some of the best pilots in the fleet since the earliest days of the Federation. Although one in particular had a checkered past, all of them were the best of the best. You're just the latest in a VERY long line."

    Ensign Takeshi Yamato nodded. "Th... thank you, sir," he replied. "I'll do my best..."

    "Knowing your family, you'll do better than that," the Captain replied, before turning to the Sensors Station - what would be Science on a Cruiser or Science Vessel. "Sensors, anything to report?" he asked.

    "Nothing as of yet, Captain," the Sensor Operator replied. "The Klingons could be using their cloaking devices, however."

    "Keep an eye out," the Captain ordered. "The civilians are evacuating, but it's going slowly, and this sector's contested."

    "Understood, sir," the Sensor Operator replied, before turning back to his screens.

    The Murasame continued her patrol, but Takeshi was beginning to get a bad feeling. And not the normal bad feeling, either. This was an 'OH, SH*T!' bad feeling.

    "Sir!!" the Sensor Operator called out urgently. "Picking up ships dropping out of Warp! 20 signatures - no, 30 - 50!! 50 Warp Signatures detected, mostly Klingon with a few Orion vessels!!"

    "Son of a - that's more than we expected," the Captain responded, surprised. "Red Alert, all hands to battle stations!" The Murasame was too lightly armed to engage 50 Klingon ships alone, but the Saber wasn't designed to fight massive fleets. Contrary to popular belief, the Saber wasn't designed to fight the Borg. The Saber-Class was designed for possible conflict with the Cardassian Union and anti-pirate duties, meaning they were lightly built and heavily armed for their size. But Klingon ships were built to do one thing: wage war. From the lowest B'rel-Class bird of prey to the largest Vo'quv-Class carrier, all of them were built for war and battle. Starfleet could reclaim Archanis later: right now, the civilians needed to be made safe.

    Suddenly, like in some of his Live Exercises, Takeshi could... sense, for lack of a better term, hostile intent directed at whatever he was piloting. Said hostile intent usually preceded weapon fire, so he immediately initiated evasive maneuvers, kicking the impulse engines to full and snap-rolling to the left to evade a withering barrage of cannon fire from a Negh'Var-Class Heavy Battle Cruiser.

    The Klingons were shocked, but not as shocked as the Murasame's crew. The Saber-Class ship dodged a fair number of disruptor bolts and a number of torpedoes, with Takeshi doing his best to make sure the ship survived to do what needed to be done: delay the Klingons by giving them a challenging target.

    The Communications Officer had alerted the rest of the fleet, and they were all moving to assist. It wouldn't be enough to stop the Klingons, given that the defense fleet consisted of only 16 ships, and only four of those were the heavier types like Retrofit Excelsiors, Nebulas, or Sovereigns. However, they still needed to delay the Klingons and their Orion allies at least long enough for the last of the transports to escape.

    "Ensign, I don't know how you did that," the Captain said, "but keep it up! The Klingons are getting pissed off, and if there's anything that applies to all races, it's that if someone gets angry, they make mistakes. Keep them angry!"

    "Yessir!!" Takeshi called out, making the ship dance almost as if it were a Peregrine Fighter, ducking and weaving through the enemy fire as the Tactical Officer let loose with the Phasers and Quantum Torpedoes.

    The Klingons were angry at the Saber that was dodging their shots left and right, but a Ki'tang-Class bird of prey decided to end the Murasame's flight. The smaller BoP fired her weapons, which were different than standard Klingon disruptors, being tetryon-based cannons. The tetryon-infused beams cut through the shields as the bolts hit, allowing one lucky torpedo to hit the Bridge. But that one torpedo was enough to change history.

    Takeshi was thrown from his seat to the deck as the ship was rocked by the torpedo hit - though that was probably the best thing that could have happened as consoles exploded all over the Bridge. As Takeshi got back to his feet, he could see the Bridge in shambles, the other Bridge Officers and the Captain all around him, unconscious or dead. Knowing that he didn't have time to check on them, he got back to the helm, and started steering the ship away from the Klingon Fleet and towards the Federation fleet that was approaching, even as he tapped his combadge. "Yamato to Sickbay!!" he called out. "Medical Emergency on the Bridge!! Most of the Bridge Crew is down!!"

    "Understood, Ensign," came the reply from Sickbay. "We're sending a medical team up there now, but we've got a great deal of wounded. Several EPS conduits blew out when whatever hit us hit us. We're going to need you to reroute power from up there and cut the coolant flow, otherwise the air's going to get toxic!"

    "Right!!" Takeshi replied. He set an auto-evasive program at the helm and started it running, then bolted to the Engineering station and did what he could to cut the coolant flow and reroute power away from the blown conduits. He tapped his combadge again. "Yamato to Engineering, please let there be someone still alive down there!!"

    "Main Engineering here," came the reply. "We're a mess down here. We've had a major plasma coolant breach: half the engineering staff are gone. Just... liquified by the coolant." Not a pretty way to die. Even the Borg weren't immune to plasma coolant's nasty side-effect, as the incident on the Enterprise-E in 2373/2063 showed.

    "Understood," Takeshi replied, getting back to the helm and deactivating the auto program, taking control of the ship once again. "Computer, locate the highest ranking officer still alive on this ship," he said.

    "Highest Ranking Officer currently aboard is Ensign Takeshi Yamato," the voice of the computer replied.

    At that point, Takeshi felt a weight settle itself on his shoulders. All he wanted was to pilot starships! He didn't want to be a Captain!! Unfortunately, he was the Senior Ranking Officer on the ship at the moment - that left him in charge. He transferred the Captain's chair functions over to his Console, then hit the shipwide announcement button. "Attention all hands," he began. "This is Ensign Takeshi Yamato speaking. As the highest ranking officer still aboard the Murasame, I am now taking command."

    He paused a few moments to let that statement sink in. "I need damage control teams to fix all damaged EPS and Coolant Conduits. I also need any survivors of the Beta and Gamma Shift Bridge Crews to report to the Bridge - I'm going to need help to run this ship. That said, we still have a job to do. We need to keep the Klingons busy long enough for the last of the transports to escape. Let's do what we can, people. Acting Captain Yamato out."

    The ship rocked again, followed by several consoles sparking. Takeshi knew exactly who was shooting at him: the Ki'tang-Class BoP. Normally, he would run, but right now, he was angrily focused. That Klingon ship was going to pay for that.

    Transferring the Tactical Controls to his station, as well, he keyed up a barrage of four Quantum Torpedoes as he pulled the ship into a loop, using normally evasive maneuvers in an offensive manner to get behind the Ki'tang before it could react. He snarled as he hit the firing controls, sending blasts of orange energy from the ship's forward-mounted Phaser Arrays, following up with the Torpedoes. The Phaser Blasts splashed against the Ki'tang's aft shields, weakening them enough for the first Torpedo to punch a hole large enough for the other three to go through, hitting the Ki'tang in its engines and causing catastrophic damage.

    The Ki'tang blew up spectacularly, and Takeshi reinforced the shields as best he knew how as the Murasame flew through the resulting fireball, a savage grin on his face.

    The Klingons were waiting for that moment, however, and when Takeshi wasn't paying attention, they pounded the Murasame with everything they had. Thankfully, Takeshi was spared death when several photon torpedoes hit the lead Negh'Var, sending it into an uncontrolled spin toward one of the Vo'quv-class dreadnought carriers. The result was rather predictable. The rest of the fleet had finally arrived. "Osiris to Murasame," came a transmission from one of the support ships. "Stand by: we're locking a tractor beam on you now!"

    Takeshi sighed, glad that backup was finally here. "This is Acting Captain Yamato of the Murasame," he replied, after opening the channel. "Thank you very much, Osiris - we're in pretty bad shape here."

    "Yamato?" came the reply from the Osiris. "You're in command? Damn it, that seems to be a thing nowadays. We've finished the evacuation: it's time to get the hell out of here."

    "Understood," Takeshi replied. "Thanks again for the assist." The ship seemed to vibrate slightly as the tractor beam from the Osiris latched on. As the ship was towed away from the Klingon/Orion fleet while the heavies 'discouraged' pursuit, Takeshi tapped his combadge. "Yamato to Engineering," he said. "Damage report."

    "You know, I could give you a litany of damaged systems, Captain," came the reply from the Acting Chief Engineer, "but suffice to say, this ship is not going to be on the front lines in our lifetimes. Best just to scrap it."

    "Understood," Takeshi replied. "Can she survive one more trip at Warp, even under tow, and get us to the fallback point, or are we going to need to evac?"

    "I'd say the Murasame's got one more flight in her, but the SIF is on the verge of giving out," came the reply. "We'll see what we can do to keep her alive a little longer, Bridge."

    Takeshi sighed. That was about as good as could be expected. "Thanks, Engineering," he said. "Bridge out." He then sat back in his chair, the last chair still standing on the Bridge, and sighed again.

    At least they'd gotten the civilians out. Takeshi was just hopeful that he'd get a new ship to fly soon.


    Deep Space station K-7

    K-7 had a long and eventful life, most notably in 2267 when the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 paid a visit to the station, uncovering a Klingon plot to take over Sherman's Planet, as well as what was the last straw for the Klingons to begin the long heard of Great Tribble Hunt. Needless to say, K-7 was old, but VERY important to the defense of the Federation. Dozens of starships orbited the station, including one that was very out of place: a Defiant-Class Tactical Escort.

    Takeshi stood at one of K-7's viewports, looking out on the ship, the USS Tempest. He'd been assigned to the ship, alright, but not as her Helmsman.

    His fingers idly traced the Lieutenant Commander's Rank Insignia adorning his uniform now, as he wondered what Command was smoking, giving him that ship to command, and why they weren't sharing. True, the Defiant-Class was one of his favorite ship classes, being Starfleet's first dedicated warship class, but he'd dreamed of flying one of them, not commanding one!! Being promoted to Lieutenant Commander and being given one of those ships... well, it was not what he was expecting, that's for sure.

    "Captain Yamato, your presence is requested on the Tempest," an aide informed. "Something about a 'proper welcome'."

    "Right," Takeshi replied, sighing. He was still getting used to being called 'Captain', even if it wasn't his official rank yet. "Well, I guess it can't be helped."

    He walked away from the viewport, and towards the Transporters, to be beamed over to his new command.

    This war wasn't going to fight itself, after all.
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  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    2396 ...

    She made her case. Defiantly, she sat forward in the chair. Hands bound by rope behind her, cloth strips wrapped thick around the forearms, they protected her from the abrasive action of the drill she had to hold when she worked her shift in the Dilithium mine. Her clothes were torn and filthy, essentially a heavy cloth smock covering her torso and upper legs in a single garment. Kathryn wore tattered leather adult male boots that fit loosely around her feet. Her scarlet hair was tied in a single ponytail made dull and limp from the dust and grime. Six years of servitude and several months planning then waiting were about to play out. She hoped not to get caught, yet considered the possibility. Kathryn had pulled a small handmade shiv from one arm-wrap and was working the sharp edge against the rope. She grimaced through the discomfort of making small cuts. She recalled the sharpened bone came from a fellow slave that died shortly after her own arrival to this hellish place. Kathryn used the bone shard as a gruesome reminder of the need to escape.

    An Orion male stood from his victim and walked up to Kathryn. He blocked the harsh light in the room with his massive bulk, thus providing a very small amount of relief. His body odor assaulted Kathryn's nostrils, yet it was only slightly worse than the stench of the room they were in. His overly muscular body made his clothing very tight. Kathryn noticed the long scar running down his left arm; it was a symbol of the slaver clan working the mining operation. Some Orions proudly displayed the scar through decoration of varying sorts and the large Orion standing over Kathryn was one of them. His scar was painted a bright red, which contrasted against his olive green skin. It was menacing, and Kathryn tried to ignore it.

    Being in his shadow, she quickly looked to her left to see the young girls she tried to help, one Human, one Bajoran and a Trill. Each cowering in fear and crying from their injuries; fresh bruises made by the same Orion standing before Kathryn. Looking to the right, one other Orion male rested against a wall and held a leather whip. He was the slave driver and had been her waking nightmare ever since day one. She grew to hate the man because of the perpetually smug look on his face. The Orion in front of her was the castigator. Both were massive men, but the castigator was the largest person Kathryn had ever seen in her nineteen years of life.

    Leaning down to Kathryn, the large Orion said, "see, little girl, the only laws here are our laws. And you dare suggest your Federation citizenship should protect you, and them!?" He slapped her across the face.

    I, Kathryn Selena Beringer, do hearby swear to uphold the laws and edicts of the United Federation of Planets.

    She yelped from the shock of pain that washed over her face even though she expected it. Kathryn could feel the skin on her cheek throb and each pulse brought renewed pain. She spit onto the ground. The castigator laughed for several seconds. She looked to the slave driver hoping he didn't notice her plan as she continued making small cuts. He just kept smiling.

    "So, you have some resolve, some fight. Like a little scorpion trying to sting a dragon." He reached down and grabbed Kathryn's jaw forcing her to look at him and his dirty teeth. "You should save your strength for yourself." His ugly face twisted into disgust and contempt.

    May my left arm always be raised as a shelter for the weak ...

    Kathryn could feel the rope against her hands loosen. Half-heartedly feigning a shiver in fear to disguise her efforts with the shiv, she questioned her ability to follow-through with the plan and felt her excitement rise. Sweat crawled down her chest with anticipation. Kathryn spoke slowly through squeezed lips. "Starfleet. Will come. For us."

    The castigator's eyes widened at the bravado, then released his grip and bent backward howling with laughter. Even the slave driver chuckled.

    Her hands became free. She pushed aside doubt and acted. Kathryn quickly launched herself and raised the blade above her head. Screaming with fear, she drove it into the castigator's face.

    May my right arm always be raised against the wicked ...

    The large Orion collapsed from shock. Orange blood sprayed the air as they landed. The girls screamed from the horror and seemed to shrink upon themselves. The slave driver was surprised by the intensity of the assault then scrambled to untangle his whip.

    Kathryn yanked the blade from the castigator's head and charged toward the slave driver, yells of fury burned her throat. The Orion had enough time to raise the whip before Kathryn crashed into him. His breath was lost as he was pressed against the wall and Kathryn's blade pushed deep into his stomach.

    I swear to defend the United Federation of Planets and it's citizens, against all foes.

    They flailed but Kathryn's attack did not stop. Years of physical and mental abuse from the slave driver fueled the onslaught until her energy was spent. She slowly stood from the ruined torso, splashed with blood and trembling from the adrenaline drain. Turning to the girls, Kathryn slowly regained a sense of self and realized they were sobbing uncontrollably.

    She rushed to them and soothed them into tearful silence. "Please. You've caused enough noise!" Kathryn looked to the door, surprised no one else had entered. "Look, I didn't plan for you to be here with me, but I'm serious about getting out of here."

    One girl, the Trill nearest Kathryn's age with long (but unnaturally dirty) blonde hair, shook her head. "I ... I ... can't."

    Kathryn immediately slapped her, which surprised the other two. "It's too late for that." She quickly pawed at dirt and patted it onto the wet blood splatters on her garment and skin. "There is an ore freighter that's going to leave as soon as it's hold is full. We need to get to it because it's heading for Federation space. We need to go now, and you have to listen to everything I say. If you don't, then I'm going to have to leave you behind. Now, come on!"

    The castigator spasmed and that pushed the three girls into action. They scrambled to their feet and followed close to Kathryn who was at the door to the room and opened it.

    I swear allegiance to the Starfleet Charter, and the principles for which it stands, liberty and equality for all lifeforms.

    She led them down a small maze of hallways. At several moments they hid from the increasing numbers of Orion patrols by crawling through ventilation ducts in the walls, and on one occasion, blending into lines of other slaves as they headed to 'work'. Kathryn could tell when the Orions were looking for someone. Several times the runaways had to help each other change their appearance by applying dirt or scrubbing it away. Hair had to be shaped differently; ponytails let go or tied back up in different patterns. They even changed clothing on one break. Kathryn marveled at their luck, or at least her own.

    I dedicate my mind to the search for truth ...

    Eventually, they reached the cargo bay. The station was a reasonably large structure built into a large Dilithium-rich asteroid. The Orion Syndicate has sold children from across the Alpha and Beta quadrants into slave labor camps that was run by nefarious mega-conglomerates. For her first year, Kathryn tried to memorize as much detail as she could, for when she was released she would reveal the evil that existed here and elsewhere. Yet, as the years progressed, the likelihood anyone would do something to save her, or anyone, diminished. Past memories transformed to future planning. She started noticing patterns in ore production, work transfers, and incoming or outgoing deliveries. Kathryn started to 'see' a way out of her situation. She stopped accepting her unpleasant existence and started relishing the right moment when she could break free.

    Then she would expose this place, and the galaxy would punish the Syndicate.

    ... and my body to explore new worlds and new civilizations.

    Across the large bay, several cargo containers littered the space in between the alcove the four girls huddled in and the docking ring door. Large blast windows revealed the blackness of space. Orange light from the nearby planet lit up one corner of the window and revealed the Trellwan freighter. It was rusty brown and littered with micro-craters, exhibiting its age. It invited her to freedom. She remembered how her family travelled the stars to a new colony on board the same type of ship; how they were boarded by Orion pirates and taken to this asteroid as slaves. Kathryn knew that ship well and she could imagine where they would hide until the ship came to rest in Federation space.

    Kathryn surveyed the cargo bay once more before preparing her 'team'. "Okay, the freighter should be empty, the crew typically parties with some of the Orions here. We are going to run through the crates on the floor - shortest path is a straight line thing, you know?"

    The girls nodded.

    "There may be a twenty meter sprint to the docking door past the crates. Once inside, I'll show you where we'll stow away."

    "But, what if we get caught?" The Bajoran whispered loudly.

    Kathryn shrugged, yet her response was firm. "I don't know and I don't care. It's a chance I'm willing to take because it'll be better than staying here."

    The human girl hmphed, "unless we get blacked out".

    "Then you can stay here." Kathryn started to move toward the edge of the alcove but still watched the girl for a retort. She just looked away and shook her head.

    I dedicate my heart to the preservation of life ...

    They quickly moved as a group around the first crate with Kathryn leading. Excitement laced with fear had her heart racing with each step. She was heading into the cargo bay, surrounded by huge containers filled with Dilithium that created a random maze. Not knowing if any direction would lead them into a dead end, she could only trust her instincts and sense of direction.

    After several twists and turns, her instincts lead the group true: they awed at the sight of the docking door to the freighter. It was circular and wide open. The short hallway was bright and lead right into the guts of the ship.

    Kathryn could feel herself being pulled by the door as if it had it's own gravity. She whispered to herself, "it can't be that easy." She waited several seconds and the only sounds she could hear was the dull hum of the power generators and the increasing drum-beat rhythm of her heart. Looking to the girls, they only stared back, their eyes asking questions she could not answer except for one.

    "Go!"

    ... and dedicate my soul ...

    Their legs filled with uncontrolled energy and they ignored any attempt at stealth. Boots and shoes stomped onto the metal floor and each step echoed against crates and walls. Kathryn heard thunderbolts with each step. Her leg muscles started to flare with pain and saliva ran across her cheeks as she sprinted for her life. She was just slightly aware the other girls were several meters behind her.

    Her first step into the docking collar was a triumph with explosions from fireworks and cheering crowds. She felt like she just saved the galaxy and her eyes filled with tears. But she did not stop running.

    Inside the ship, Kathryn ignored the sudden temperature change from the humidity of the mine to the chilly air of the freighter. Sweat seemed to freeze on her skin and she turned toward the rear of the ship. That's when she realized she was alone.

    Looking back through the docking collar, she could see the other three girls laying on the floor just outside the docking ring, burn marks on their chest or back and smoldering. Kathryn ducked when she saw an Orion appear with a disruptor rifle. She breathed quick and could hear them talking but could not make out what they were saying. Frantically, she looked around he, thoughts flashing like lightning. The three girls did not anchor or drag Kathryn's plan. If anything, their willingness to follow gave her strength. Now they were dead because of her.

    Kathryn shook her head. No. Because of them

    The Orions started laughing. That they seemed to revel in the deaths of young girls angered her.

    ... to the service of ...

    Quickly, she stood and delved into the bowled of the freighter. She found the Jeffries tube two junctions away from the galley. She laid down and rested her head on her arms, looking at a blank wall, yet stared into the future.

    Kathryn never knew the girls' names. She resigned herself to never know, because it really didn't matter. In the 24th century, there are machines that could do the work here. People, much less children, should not be here at all.

    She vowed to return and stop the Orion Syndicate in this place. Some day.

    ... justice.

    +++

    Author's Notes:

    The bold part is from the GEO creed in the RPG "Blue Planet" and modified to fit my need for this LC. I think it's a decent vow-to-serve in Starfleet during a time of war. It's far from perfect, but it works for me.

    I had a hard time specifying Kathryn's beginning because I have a generic outline in my head that was basically laid out in a previous LC. I wanted to tackle this LC's Prompt 1 but did not have enough time to research it, so I went with prompt 2 (which appealed more to me anyway). So, I think I have a lot of exposition here that I normally do not engage in, yet I couldn't just let readers accept too much on faith. I figure, if it distracted me then it would distract you.

    I hope you enjoy this one. It took a lot of effort on my part, mostly because of a shortage of time to work on this LC.

    :)
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