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Literary Challenge #67 - Delta Rising - Entries Thread

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

Today we start the one month run of the sixty-seventh Literary Challenge: Delta Rising.

We will be running this event from the 8/15 to the 10/01.

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

This month, our Topics will be...

Challenge #1 - The Delta We Left Behind
The news has spread throughout Starfleet, the High Council, even amongst D'Tans Republic. They are going back to the Delta Quadrant. Back to clean up Janeway's mess? To finish off the Borg? Or to draw more attention to the Alpha and Beta Quadrants? The Voyager crew made first contact with more species than any other in the Federations history. Not all of them were so eager to befriend them. But now they make the call for you and I to join their expedition. To reestablish old ties, and perhaps strengthen new ones. What lies ahead for the Captains of STO in Delta Rising? What mysteries and pitfalls await you, and your crew as they take a leap of faith halfway across our galaxy?

Challenge #2 - There's Always Some Strings Attached - thanks to Aten66 for this suggested topic!
After the most recent Jenolan Accords, the Federation, KDF, and Romulan Republic have entered into a tense, but established, peaceable relationship. Federation and KDF forces have opened their once closed borders, letting enemies-turned-allies across their borders once again, and allowing more open discussions between all three galactic powers.

Of course not all are happy with the peaceable relations between these powers, and one such agent of discord has gone rogue. A Section 31 operative has gone renegade, targeting Romulan, Klingon, and even Federation vessels, labeling them all as enemies, either as Undine traitors or Iconian pawns. Your Captain has been targeted next, labeled as the Iconian's greatest puppet, the one who was always there at the right time, and the wrong time. They know all you strengths, and all your weaknesses. How will your captain handle it this time?

Challenge #3 - Episode ReWrite - TNG - Hide & Q


TNG - Hide & Q - You are alerted to a class epsilon distress signal from the dilithium mining facility in the Eta Eridani sector block. En route to the mining colony at high warp, your ship is suddenly trapped in a familiar force field grid. In a blinding flash, suddenly you recognize Q himself as he appears on your bridge. With his usual bluster and flair, Q informs you that after studying your recent adventures for some time, the Q Continuum is very impressed by you. So much so, that they have graced you with their generosity. "The Continuim brings you a wondrous gift Mon Capitaine! The gift of impossible dreams." You tell Q that you will happily listen to his offer, after the conclusion of your current rescue mission. Q, however, disagrees, and in another blinding flash, you and your senior staff are suddenly teleported to a barren world of Q's own creation. Bewildered, you listen to Q as he makes one of your group an offer. An offer that only the Q Continuim could make. The offer, to become Q. The question is, which one of you will be asked to accept such a generous gift? AS well as how this "gift" will affect you and your loyal crew...

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

  • natthaannatthaan Member Posts: 74 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    OOC, this is my take on Challenge #2, also the bridge is the Unity bridge from the star cruiser Bridge pack
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    August 15th, 2410
    USS Gabriel Bell NCC-97300
    Imperial Class

    Captain Alistair Nimitz sat on his chair overlooking the the three stations n front of him, while the bridge held a blue glow around, his XO, Commander John Hart remarked "Well, she is not the Star Knight, but the Bell might just hold up"
    The Gabriel Bell was commissioned shortly after the attack on Earth by the Undine earlier that year, and was given to Captain Nimitz fallowing his role in the Battle of Cardassia in command of the Star Knight, a Tempest Class, which took heavy damage and was scrapped, as part of the Bell's shakedown mission, she and her crew was sent on a six month patrol along the Republic/ Tholian Boarder, two days earlier, the Gabriel Bell responded to a distress call send by a Republic convoy as it was under attack by two rogue Klingon Birds of Prey, a short skirmish between the three ships happened and ended when the Bell got off a lucky shot and snapped one of the two birds in half, causing the other bird to move off its attack, but not before losing one of its wings to a torpedo spread. The Bell took no damage from the attack.
    Nimitz looked up from his Padd and over at Hart "Well, I would hope that the Bell can hold up in a fight, she helped defend Earth with almost no power and one weapon system online during the Undine Attack" and the Romulan Captain handed his Padd to Crewman Bob "Alright Bob, I want the next report on my desk in one hour" Bob nodded and left the bridge as Nimitz walked into his ready room.

    Forty five minutes late Nimitz woke up finding him self asleep on the couch in his ready room with a pool of drool next to him as his comm badge chirped, with a sigh, he tapped the badge 'What?"
    A young male voice replied "Captain, I got a call for you from Republic Command"
    "Very well, I'll take it in my ready room"
    "Aye sir" and the line cut off, Nimitz looked down at the white shoulder of his Oddy duty uniform seeing a drool stain and took off the jacket and threw it on the chair in front of his desk and tapped the button in front of him to pull up the call and raised an eyebrow when he saw the fact of Admiral William Summers
    "Captain, did I catch you at a bad time?" Nimitz looked down at his red shirt that he wore under his jacket "Un no, Admiral, I was eating and spilled some of my food on my jacket, an.."
    "Don't Worry Captain, Ive also drooled on my duty jacket trying to catch a few Zs in my ready room, anyway, Im calling to warn you, that we have a rogue Avenger Class Battle cruiser missing, I want you to find it and arrest the crew"
    "Yes Sir, and more information you can give me?"
    "I'm sorry, SFI told me that's all the Information I can give you, I've sent the Victory and the Odin to help assist you in taking down the rouge ship, however, they are three days away"
    "Understood" Nimitz cut the line and opened the shipwide comm, "Attention, all hand, yellow alert"

    _________________________________________

    OOC, ill add some more later, this is all i had time to do for now
  • worffan101worffan101 Member Posts: 9,518 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    D'trel on a good day, plus copious Janeway bashing. Because Janeway's a Mary Sue. And Voyager bashing, specifically criticism of the Kazon for being complete incompetents.
    D'trel.

    I hate my life.

    This is a regular thing, that I've gotten used to over the past few decades, but still, it isn't terribly pleasant.

    The particular significance of this fact at this time is that I'm currently in the Delta Quadrant, a few light years from the Jenolan Sphere, and my ship is currently surrounded by idiots.

    Idiots with terrible hair and very large starships.

    "You've fallen right into our trap!" gloats Maje Lunkuh, the Kazon leader. "You will give us your technology now, or we will destroy you!"

    One nod to Zel and the com is muted.

    "First Omek'ti'kallan?"

    "Their weapons are primitive phaser-like weapons, Admiral, comparable to the armaments of a Federation Constitution-class cruiser. Their shields are similar to those used by the Dominion over three hundred years ago."

    "And they expect to be able to threaten us with that? Plasma torpedoes, my mark. Zel, unmute the idiot."

    "Channel open, sir."

    "Maje Lunker, or however you pronounce your name. I am Vice Admiral D'trel--"

    "Silence, pathetic woman! Ha! Your species must be pathetic indeed to put a feeble female in a commander's seat!"

    Zel snickers to xirself. "Buddy, you just made a bad mistake. A VERY bad mistake."

    I rise, pulling out my Nausicaan tegolar sword and pointing it at the screen. "Omek, fire torpedoes. But beam this idiot to the Bridge before you kill them all."

    "Yes, sir!" says Omek'ti'kallan.
    ***
    Eight hours later.

    Maje Lunkuh is a blubbering mess in my Brig. His fungoid hairdo is a tattered ruin. I feel pleasantly exercised.

    I shake out my arms a little as I stride onto the Bridge again.

    "What is it, Zel? Oh, and someone get Command on the line, tell Kererek we met those Kazon the Feds warned us of."

    "We have intercepted a transmission from a nearby planet," the Breen says in xir computerized voice. "They appear to have detected the detonations of the Kazon ships and are sending ships to assist us."

    "Can you hail them?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Put 'em on."

    "...broadcasting on revolving frequencies. I repeat, this is First Minister Kiran of Ta'Mhenu. Unidentified vessel, we mean you no harm. The Kazon raiders are our enemies; we are coming to assist you. We are broadcasting on revolving frequencies."

    "First Minister, this is Vice Admiral D'trel Tomalak of Kreh'dhhokh Mol'Rihan. We are grateful for your offer of assistance, but we found the Kazon to be easily overcome. Are they always this tactically incompetent?"

    "Ah! A response! Greetings, Admiral D'trel! Indeed, the Kazon are more an annoyance than anything else, but...less advanced cultures sometimes find them to be moderately dangerous. Indeed, even the relatively advanced Voyager Federation had their flagship attacked and boarded by a relatively cunning Kazon and his troops once."

    "Voyager Federation? Who are they?"

    "A savage, world-spanning empire from far away. Their flagship, the Voyager, passed through our space some twenty cycles ago. We greeted them as guests, but their insane leader, the evil Janeway, bragged about how she had assisted the Hated Ones by using terrible weapons on a species that stood poised to rid the galaxy of the Hated Ones forever."

    "Janeway? Like UFP Starfleet Admiral Kathryn Janeway? The one they say has to take six pills an hour at court order and almost got indicted for war crimes but got away with it because she made Starfleet Command look good?"

    "That...sounds like the same person, yes." The First Minister sounds wary, now. "Are you familiar with her?"

    "Unfortunately. She's a complete monster, but as long as she's on her meds and meeting with her therapist she's generally under control. Of course, if she were a citizen of Kreh'dhhokh Mol'Rihan, we'd have executed her the moment she got back from her little trip. We don't like capital punishment, but some things are just unforgivable."

    "I see," says the First Minister, sounding cautiously optimistic. "Well...if you will follow our scout ships, which should be appearing on your sensors now, I would be delighted to host you and your crew for a meal. We do not often get guests in this corner of space."

    "I would be honored, First Minister. Also, I have been recording this conversation, and will send it to my acquaintance Admiral Tuvok, one of the Federation's top officers and a man of unflinching honor, great intellect, and much wisdom. He will certainly see this evidence against the war criminal Janeway dealt with properly. My own government will also be notified; we might have enough to convince the Klingons of Janeway's status as a war criminal as well."
    ***
    Solanae Dyson Sphere command. Three days later.

    "...so I gave the Kazon leader a few hours of personal instruction in what might best be called sensitivity training, and then we were greeted by representatives of the Ta'Mhenu Confederation. Six planets, one species, ruled by a confederation of nations from the homeworld. Seems pretty peaceful, technologically maybe twenty years behind us. The Mhenai look a bit like Terran monkeys. Hexapedal, four genders. Exil says the adults are haploid but zygotes are tetraploid; apparently they spawn in breeding pools, gametes fuse, then split, forming embryos that develop into larvae. The larvae are apparently ravenous and cannibalistic, but the post-metamorphosis adults eat mostly fruit. The First Minister was very polite and gave us a tour of the planet. Three major nations and seven minor ones, all with distinct cultures; there was a public safety presence at all major events, but they were there just for crowd control. My crew found no sign of serious discontent, and frankly I can see why; it's a nice planet in an out-of-the-way corner of space, so they probably haven't been bothered by the Borg and such for a few decades. We managed to hammer out a preliminary alliance; they refuse to work with UFP personnel except for Admiral Tuvok, who I vouched for, until Janeway's been extradited to them to stand trial for crimes against sentience, but they were happy to set up some trade deals with the Republic and the Klingons once I mentioned that we have transwarp and quantum slipstream capability."

    "That may be a concern for some politicians," says D'tan over the comlink. "Do they seem manipulative or otherwise dangerous?"

    "No, they just have worthless warp drives. Their weapons and shields are comparable to ours, but their warp drives are extremely inefficient; not even as fast as an old T'varo-class. One of the pre-refit ones."

    "I see," says D'tan. "You are hereby cleared to share all Republic warp technology with the Mhenai. Nothing more yet, though. And inform them that the Republic is making a formal petition to the Federation Council to have Admiral Janeway charged with crimes against sentience and war crimes."

    "Understood, sir. D'trel out."

    I close the channel. One handy thing about having multiple telepaths on your ship is that when you say a species is trustworthy, Command listens.

    My pad beeps. Admiral Tuvok.

    I kick back on my couch, beneath one of my drawings of Adani, and answer.

    "Hey Tuvok. D'trel here. Hope your wife's still doing well. What did you need?"
    Decided to do a nice, simple, ordinary "successful mission" story this time. No fancy stuff, no sweeping arcs, no character development or morals. Just Voyager bashing and D'trel having a much-deserved good day.
  • captaintpolcaptaintpol Member Posts: 104 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    Vice-Admiral Jazdia Marie Dax’s personal log
    Stardate: 308378.09

    I have received a communique from Admiral Quinn concerning the Dyson Spheres’ and the Delta Quadrant. Admiral Quinn has told me that Starfleet, the Klingon High Council and the Romulan Republic have talked about the battle against the Voth and the return of the Undine. They have decided that we should have a small team go and follow Voyagers path and broker Relations with the species that Voyager and her crew helped with supplies or medicine, in exchange for aid or supplies to help with their journey home. *computer pause, sips my evening coffee, Computer resume* Admiral Quinn also stated that he wanted a calm, collected and seasoned officer to go with the representative from the High Council and the Republic to the Delta Quadrant to gather data before committing more forces from the alpha quadrant to the delta quadrant.

    Admiral Quinn called me back later that same night after he found out who the representatives were for the klingons and the romulans. He told me that the other two crews that would be with me are under the command of the Banished Orion: Neela D’tan, Matron to the Banished Orion Girls and General of the Fleet Kar’fi Yawne’wl. Quinn also stated that the Republic is sending the daughter of Commander Donatra, Dona’tra of the Warbird Valdore. under the flag of the Republic and to help secure a brighter future for the surviving romulans and get away from the past of secrecy and treachery.

    We will be making contact with the species that Janeway and her crew had positive relations with to try to broker a lasting friendship with them while surviving against the countless species that attacked Voyager and wanted to capture them for the technology. We also will most likely run into conflict with the borg queen, seeing as how the collective is based in the delta quadrant. My crew and I are excited to experience new things and chart new anomalies. To finally be able to experience life and meet new species, making friends or enemies that just want the technology. We are ready to uphold the values of Starfleet and the Federation with this amazing task laid before us.

    Vice-Admiral Jazdia Marie Dax out
    *Computer End Log*

    Lieutenant General Neela D’tan personal log
    Stardate: 308378.09

    I have just received word from Chancellor J’mpok and the High Council that the Federation and the Romulan Republic have sent the names of each of their captains that will be joining me and my crew in the delta quadrant. They are Federation Vice Admiral Jazdia Marie Dax and Dona’tra of the Warbird Valdore. I know each of them personally because we have fought and defended Earth and Qo’nos from the Undine and have held the Voth back from obtaining the omega particles. It should be fun to actually explore and see new things with two of my friends.

    J’mpok called me later that evening to see if my crew, my ship and I would be ready to leave within two days and I told him we were beyond ready to serve the Empire in this honorable affair, but that my loyalty will always be to the Banished Orion Girls first and foremost. He laughed and acknowledged that fact since we have the best scouts in the Empire according to Klingon Intelligence. and J’mpok himself. *computer pause, takes a sip of my orion spiced tea, computer resume*

    I contacted Jazdia and Dona’tra and we talked about what we might encounter and how best we would go about this and we decided that Jazdia would be the one to talk first to any species we meet and do the introductions. We are extremely grateful to have this opportunity to see these beautiful new things first and be apart of something much larger that what we have now. We will bring honor to our allies and to the Empire second star to the right, straight on til morning.

    Lt. General Neela D’tan out
    *computer end log*

    SubCommander Dona’tra Personal Log
    Stardate: 308378.09

    This morning was an uneventful day we just did some routine maintenance on the Valdore and while we were doing that I was thinking of my mother. That is until a call came in from Proconsul D’tan himself asking if my ship, crew and I would be willing to go into the delta quadrant following in Voyager’s footsteps making contact with the species that they helped in exchange for something to help get home faster or for supplies themselves. I told him we could be if I got more detail as to why we would be going into the delta quadrant. D’tan obliged and told me that he, the federation and the klingon high council have agreed that with the fight with the voth and the undine that we need to find more allies for at least supplies and information about the delta quadrant. D’tan also told me after I was safely in my quarters that the two other officers are people I know and fought along side. That told me, that the two people in question was Jazdia Marie Dax and Neela D’tan.

    Needless to say I was thrilled to see my friends from the attack on Earth and Qo’nos and get to catch up with them again after six months of being away from each other. Neela contacted me and Jazdia and we discussed the plan of how we would go about this and we all decided that Neela would be in between us since she flies a carrier and we can defend her if we get attacked by hostile aliens so they can launch their fighters. Since my ship has a nice hydroponics bay we all decided my ship would be the ship to grow the food for our chefs to make our meals with. *computer pause, sips my romulan ale, computer resume*

    We will be meeting up on the other side of the Jenolan Sphere and from there we will pick a suitable area to study for awhile then move on so we can get the initial data back to our command personnel. I finally get to do what my mother always wanted and that is to explore alongside a Federation and Klingon vessel. I love you mother, I promise you I will get you away from the borg, I promise you that.

    Subcommander Dona’tra signing out
    *computer end log*
    (STO)
    Matriarch of Banished Orion Girls. Neela D'tan
    @captaintpol (with many alts)
    May we sail and have fun always and forever. LLAP

    (PC version NW)
    [email protected] TR - Tully's of RiverRun
    Mai Kelly DC-Tully's of RiverRun
    Neela BumKisses HR-
    Arya Stark GF-
    Sansa Stark CW- Team Fencebane
    Crystal Marie OP-

    (xbox version NW)
    [email protected] Jazdia TR- Team Fenebane
    Mai Kelly DC- " "
    Ahsoka Tano CW- " "
    Neela BumKisser HR- " "
  • spaldynz83spaldynz83 Member Posts: 9 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    "Computer, lights"

    The quarters illuminated slowly, allowing Admiral Koel's eyes to adjust to the change, his eyes confirming his unseeing suspicion that there was someone else in his quarters while he was trying to get some sleep.

    A figure, a black uniform, a frown upon his face, and gloves. That's what bothered him most about these types. Gloves. His culture taught him that hands where the way you grasped the world, while feet were where you took your spirit. To protect your feet made sense, but to hide your hands seemed deceitful. As a Rigelian, he never liked Drake, but couldn't fault his thinking so far. But he'd never felt comfortable.

    "Evening, Captain".

    Drake's 'greeting' seemed pointed, almost accusatory. Koel raised himself up in bed, his head still swirling from sleep but still rising to the challenge.

    "What is it you want, Drake?"

    He perched himself up on his pillow. It had been many months since he had to concern himself with this man, and there was so much on Koel's mind that he was wary of dealing with him again.

    "How goes the Sphere?"

    Again, an almost pointed suspicion. Almost an accusation, really. Drake continued...

    "Not well, I imagine. First the Romulans getting in our way, then the Voth, then the Undine, not to mention this farce of a truce with the Klingons again. It's a wonder you can sleep at night."

    Koel felt a slight rage boil inside of him, he'd achieved much in each of these endeavors; negotiated difficult paths and built a future not only for the Federation, but for its allies. How dare this Shadow-Walker cast doubt on his good acts? He knew him, though, and was careful in his reply.

    "I have done my duty, and in the open I might add."

    Drake gave a short, hollow, laugh. "To whom?"

    Koel paused, the rage barely below the surface, the gall of this man to suggest disloyalty. "What do you mean, 'to whom'?"

    "The Undine are very good at hiding among us," began Drake, "but we know you're not one of them. We know you've promoted yourself among the Romulan survivors, even entertaining audiences with D'tan himself. You were even present when Chancellor J'mpok agreed to a truce with the Federation. A very storied history for one high-ranking officer of Starfleet."

    Koel pulled himself out of bed, pulling on a robe and moving across the room toward where Drake sat.

    "What are you saying?"

    "You've been in all the right places, at all the right times. Even stories I've head from Ambassador Worf indicate that you had a hand in activating a massive number of Iconian gateways..."

    "So that's what this is about!" Koel was indignant, he knew he'd done the best he could in each of these circumstances, and he wasn't about to let this Shadow-Walker challenge him. "I did what I had to do to protect those under my command, and the interests of the Federation...if you find me lacking, file a report and have me up on charges..."

    Koel knew that would never happen. Drake was too far behind the scenes to go through normal channels. He laughed, though. Drake made that short, hollow, almost insane, laugh again.

    "Who do you think it was that put you there in those situations, Admiral? You've been doing their bidding all along. The seed was planted, right from New Romulus, when you caught a glimpse of the Dewan's benefactors. After that, you just had to know more. This endless impulse for exploration, to see the unknown. It'll undo us, you know? Now, you're about to plunge the Federation into war with an enemy we hardly even know."

    The lights in Koel's bedroom finally came up, and Drake was gone. Koel called for security, at least for a sweep, or perhaps his own state of mind. While he knew Drake was an adept at misdirection and paranoia, he couldn't shake the idea that he could be right.

    Was he being manipulated?

    Were there other forces within the Federation that he could not see?

    After all, even Admiral Tuvok had been fooled, and if it could happen to a Vulcan...

    What if he was a pawn of these Iconians? What would Drake do then?

    'What would I do?' thought Koel, as Security entered his room.
    -- I really like parentheses (for some reason).
  • feiqafeiqa Member Posts: 2,407 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    Captain's log, Stardate 87792.49882673775. After the events on Qo'nos the proconsul recommended me to take time off some where quiet as a time off from the battles with the elachi and voth and whoever we meet this week. So I have taken the Temer to the Delta quadrant to see the open expanses of deep space.


    As the turbolift doors open a familiar voice shouts. "Admiral on the bridge!" The romulan striding in irritated looking like she will use her eye patch to throttle anyone that rises from their post. Passing Tohvan she growls. "I prefer Captain."
    "Then perhaps you shouldn't have taken the promotion?"
    "Don't start this again."
    The old argument interrupted by the welcome voice of the orion science officer. "Captain, we are picking up a distress call from a small transport. It is under attack, shields gone and engines failing."

    "On screen!" As she takes her seat, leaning forward much like the Klingons under her command. Teeth bared as she looks to these attackers to break up the monotony.
    The screen shifts to a triangular light freighter under assault by several fish like ships.
    "Admiral, the warbook identifies the attack craft as kazon raiders."
    Before the commander can snap about titles again the science officer interjects. "The transport appears to have twenty-seven occampa aboard, Captain."

    "Very well. Transporter room coordinate with tactical. Beam the survivors directly to sickbay as we decloak. K'Pek! Firing solution on the attack craft."
    "Aye Captain!"
    "Tohvan, get to sickbay and greet our guests while we see to the record of battle."
    The sullen "Aye captain." almost as amusing to her as the barely heard comment about his sister throwing him from sickbay again.

    As the raiders close on the crippled ship, space seems to ripple and tear sending forth an angry bird to shriek at the raiders. The Daeinos destroyer flies out of cloak her torpedoes opening in a full barrage with her heavy cannon as the raiders turn haphazardly to the unexpected counter assault. The erupting plasma of their power systems turning the green fire of the romulan weapons orange as the ships detonate in rapid succession. The angry warbird swoops through the expanding vapor cloud before resuming her course and cloak.

    "D'tan had a point. That was almost relaxing." As she listens to the laughter of the bridge crew.
    "Lay in a course for the Voyager. Admiral Tuvok will want to speak to our guests."

    Originally Posted by pwlaughingtrendy
    Network engineers are not ship designers.
    Nor should they be. Their ships would look weird.
  • cptgold172cptgold172 Member Posts: 11 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    | The Delta We Left Behind |


    -U.S.S. Columbia's Gate-D, Mess Hall, August 1st, 2414-

    Two women sat at a round table in the mess hall. The woman on the right, was an andorian with short white hair, the other facing her was a trill who's hair was tied in a orange knot. The two officers chatted amongst them selves when they noticed a group of MACO soldiers sit down at a corner table. Kall stared at them as they sat down, then looked at the andorian in front of her.

    "Since when did we have MACOs on board?" She asked softly.

    Nessal turned her head towards the elite soldiers.

    "Since yesterday. The admiral thought it'd be best to have some company when we head out with Voyager." Nessal said as she took a sip of her raktajino.

    The trill looked at her PADD and frowned. "Blast!" Kall stood up. "Sorry Nessal, got some business to take care of in sickbay." As she started to walk away she said "Stop by when you can alright?"

    The Chief Security Officer waved with a smile and said "Don't worry I'll find the time."As the trill doctor walked out of the room, Nessal took her drink and walked over to the MACOs table. As she approached, the group suddenly shot up to attention. Nessal smiled and pointed to an empty seat.

    "Is this seat taken?"

    A human male with short blonde hair replied. "No ma'am" The Andorian sat down and so did the MACOs. The human spoke up, "Commander. I'm Sergeant Franklin Rose." Nessal nodded and shook his hand. "A pleasure to have your team aboard Sergeant" Franklin pointed at the four others. "This is Corporals Jenkins, Mattoson, Lench, and Kito. These are my best men from Alpha team." Franklin folded his hands on the table.

    "You must be Commander Nessal, Chief of Security." He said

    The andorian nodded.

    "On our way here we looked at the files of the senior staff."

    Nessal replied, "I see" she took another sip of her coffee.

    Five minutes passed, and the human sergeant stood up. "If you'll excuse us ma'am we have some training to attend to on holodeck 2." Nessal got up as well. "I suppose we'll see each other again soon sarge." She nodded at the four others, and walked away. As the four other MACOs stood up from the table, Jenkins nudged Mattoson in the elbow, "Boy she's gonna be a tough one." Corporal Mattoson nodded as he watched the andorian commander walk out if the mess hall.

    ----
    -U.S.S. Columbia's Gate-D, Bridge, August 1st 2414-


    It was gamma shift on the bridge. Vice Admiral James Throne, a human, who's life was changed after a dreadful experiment that was tested on him by the Tal-Shiar, sat in the command chair. He still didn't understand why they were experimenting on augmentation. During some nights he could hear the voice of Empress Sela echo through his mind as she attempted to control him after the augmentation. But that was all changed after he got back to the U.S.S. Columbia's Gate, this was when he was Rear Admiral. Now, Starfleet Command has decided to go back into the Delta Quadrant and investigate a build up of some mysterious fleet that has caused disruptions through out the quadrant.

    A hiss came from the turbo lift doors and Commander Liza Throne, James's wife and the first officer of the Columbia's Gate, walked onto the bridge and sat in her chair on his right. The VA nodded at her and she nodded back. James got up and walked up to a station front of him. There, 2 of 9 looked busy as his Borg fingers were tapping away.

    "Admiral" he said acknowledging the man behind him.

    "How's that diagnostic coming lieutenant?" James asked.

    The drone replied, "Everything is green so far, all systems operating within normal parameters."

    James told him, "Keep up the good work."

    The admiral turned his heel and walked back to his chair.
    Liza leaned towards him and said, "You know I received a message from command this morning. Their putting you on the promotion list to Fleet Admiral."

    James raised an eyebrow in a Vulcan like manner. "Fleet Admiral? That's quite a jump isn't it?"

    The woman replied, "I'll have to check again later just to make sure. I only got a quick glance at it. It could just be Admiral. But still, I think they made the right decision. You deserve it. Just to warn you, the waiting list is quite long. So it will be a while."

    James chuckled, "You know I had a chat with Quinn, while you were still in bed at oh-six hundred."

    Liza smirked. "Mind telling me what it was all about?"

    The Vice Admiral sighed "The brass wants to slap a big 'E' on a shiny new prototype. Which I bet it's going to be the Dauntless class."

    As the two carried on their conversation about the upcoming events, CG, a.k.a Columbia, who is the ships A.I. materialized on a terminal next to the admiral's chair. "Sir I've just received a distress signal from a ship located in the Nekrit Expanse."

    James looked down at the blue female hologram. "Can you identify it?" He asked.

    The A.I replied, "It's from Captain Harry Kim, of the U.S.S. Rhode Island...Their under attack by a group of Kazon frigates."

    Suddenly James stood up and strode to the middle railing and said "Oliver spin up the slipstream drive. Lay in an intercept course maximum speed. Columbia signal Voyager, let them know of the situation." The A.I nodded and disappeared.

    "Course laid in sir. Slipstream drive ready."

    James pointed at the view screen, "Punch it!"


    Vice Admiral's Log Stardate: 92201.04

    We've managed to save the U.S.S. Rhode Island and her crew. It was a close one, but we did it. Admiral Tuvok has decided to have us follow Voyager's path and investigate the cause of this massive fleet build up. I have a feeling this won't be an easy one. It's been 32 years since Janeway came through here. A lot has changed since then. This is just the beginning.

    End log
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,587 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    The Vor'cha-class IKS B'Cnah sped through space in the Delta Quadrant at incalculable speeds! Captain Menchez entered the Bridge.

    "What is our status?" he asked.

    Ulkegh tapped at tactical, "Captain, our status is boredom and irreparable frivolity."

    "That's not a thing! Besides, not two days ago, we fought a lost Vidiian starship several sizes larger than ourselves," Menchez countered.

    Ch'Tong turned from helm, "That vessel was already on fire-- in space, mind you-- from an Hirogen attack. Also, have you noticed how this quadrant is a quadrant of complete absurdity?"

    "Whether that is true or not is not for you to decide! It may, in fact, redeem itself-- so don't dispose your unliving gagh all over it so quickly!" The Captain then composed himself, "But, just as a reminder of our orders from the Klingon High Command, we are not to reference that Starfleet vessel-of-which-shall-not-be-named in conversation at any point, in any place, for any reason during our time here."

    Tayana raised her hand, "Are the rumors true; that they endured coincidence so often that it made them invincible?"

    "Yes," Menchez replied, "Though, it is usually agreed, by most in the scientific community, that that was due to magic-- a radical phenomenon leaked by a cross-dimensional shift originating in the alternate universe planet Megas-Tu."

    Ch'Tong nodded, "Seems legit-- That's a short form for the word legitimate. Permission to continue using it?"

    "Denied!" Menchez ordered, "Now, what is going on with those disturbances on Deck 5? Is it true there have been reports of Klingon's yelling? How is that even--?" He crossed his arms, "The stopping of my sentence short was intentional."

    Suddenly, Derok ran onto the Bridge, yelling with a slimy-green creature clung onto his arm, "AAAHHH!!!" He ripped it off, threw it to the floor and stomped on it several times.

    "What is that? You know Ferengi Food Friday is not until tomorrow," Menchez stated, "That William T. Riker-looking chef we have is always one for surprises."

    Derok then kicked the dead creature away, "I killed that chef last week, actually, in anticipation of gaining one of those Talaxian ones."

    "You fool, Derok!" Ch'Tong pointed.

    Derok approached the Bridge crew, "Anyway, the entire lower half of the ship is rife with these reptile things. They came off our salvaged Vidiian haul. According to the Vidiian database, they captured several amphibian-like mammals from a distant jungle world-- but before they were able to control the creature's on-board population, the creature's took over and attempted to alter the ship, thus leaving them defenceless to the Hirogen."

    "That still doesn't explain the flames in space," Ch'Tong interjected.

    But, before anyone could continue, the Bridge was surprised-ambushed by the hiding creatures. Small, green, slimy quadrupedal amphibian-like aliens emerged from the shadows, all over the place.

    "Greetings, humanoids," one of them opened, "My name is Venice, of the Paris Tribe. We are human-salamander descendants of your quadrant's Lieutenant Tom Paris and Captain Janeway. We've been commandeering vessels for a long time, in an attempt to return our species to a humanoid shape."

    Menchez pulled out his knife, "By the illegal Dancing Clone Troop of Kahless! You are all a collective abomination!? And, I'm pretty sure you are at an advanced level of evolution? --Not to undercut my mighty Klingon yelling."

    "Indeed we are advanced-- slimily-advanced, if you will. But we've come to realize this era was made for bipedal creatures with access to chairs and hover-cycles, so we would like to revert. Also, we swim in water, but we cannot drink it-- It's an odd future, I'll admit," Venice explained.

    Ch'Tong crossed his arms, "Why, again, did that ship-to-not-be-named choose to just leave new life-- babies, by the way-- behind? Aren't Starfleet crew's supposed to be interested in things like that? Oh, yes, they had to get 'home'--- What a pathetic, cry-baby ship-goal."

    "Fool! Their first officer could not risk ruining his chances of mating with his Captain by preoccupying her with motherhood!" Menchez snapped.

    Another human-salamander squandered up, "My name is Marseille, for reference. We've been manipulating your crew for some time now, by remote orders sent via text, with various engineering tasks written in short-message-form. We have made your crew adapt a new type of dilithium and had them alter your ship's engines and structural integrity to that of a Warp 10 capable ship. You see, our salamander scientists have determined that evolution is cyclical, and have concluded that another warp-jump will advance our DNA forward back to you."

    "That is insane!? Everyone knows the steps are: Wesley, Traveler, Changeling, Organian, Trelane's parents and then Q! We Klingons will not stand for this blatant disregard for real-life canon!" Menchez ejected the side blades of his knife, but was stopped.

    Ulkegh held him back, "Captain, no! Our blades are still dull from last week's time-travel-Xindi-Avian massacre!"

    "I told you to have them re-sharpened!" Menchez stopped to examine his weapon. "Look at this. There are still Avian feathers on mine." He tried to unsuccessfully wipe them off.

    Venice sluggishly hoisted himself onto a control panel, and slapped it with his fin, "You Klingons are too late anyway! We initiated the Warp 10 protocol half an hour ago and will soon be travelling at speeds you haven't even imagined!!! The delay is due to our salamander-operative in Engineering, who has to climb himself up onto the correct console."

    "Just putting this out there, but the Enterprise-D was doing these speeds way before the-ship-that-shall-not-be-named," Menchez commented. "Also, your existence presents an aura of story-anti-climax! Who wrote you!??"

    He frustratingly reached for the salamander, and attempted to choke it.

    "AAaaahhh! My beautiful slimy neck!" Venice cried, worried he was going to get a proper hold.

    Not really succeeding in grip, and before he could finish, the Captain was beamed away.

    ---

    Menchez found himself rematerializing in the B'Cnah's Sickbay.

    "Sorry to cut your non-Cryptic-approved festivities short, Captain," Terek walked over, "But when the Galley started receiving requests for pepperoni pizzas with Kavarian olives, I knew evolved salamanders were coming."

    Captain Menchez nodded, "It is always that."

    "In just a few minutes, when they initiate Warp 10 with their modifications, we are all going to advance-evolve, but the transformation will be immediate-- due to their altered calculations and also for time-sakes," Terek activated a spinning test-tube centrifuge, but instead of test-tubes, there were Klingon knives spinning around. He continued, "I've determined that you will require a phase discriminator arm band to protect yourself from any unbridled science you may encounter."

    Menchez furrowed his brow, "Very good, Doctor. But, do you have something more Klingon?"

    "Way ahead of you," the centrifuge stopped and Terek tossed over one of the knives, "Cut that into your blood, and you will be safe from any kind of salamadolution. Do not, I repeat-- do not try to mate for at least 24 hours."

    The Captain cut his palm immediately, "You have been more than helpful, Terek."

    Suddenly, the B'Cnah entered Warp and sped up to Warp 10. In a bright flash, everybody was everywhere at once. But with the salamander's pre-focus, everyone, and the ship was brought back to its original plain of existence.

    ---

    Menchez entered the Bridge to find his crew evolved into Klingon salamanders, but with spikes on their backs, and the Paris-Janeway offspring evolved into naked Human forms, "Actually, the spikes make it not so bad. Though, I'm certain this future lacks the proper appendages to hold a Klingon pain-stick. Also, Warp 10 isn't the same as transwarp?"

    "We did it," Venice muttered, half-disoriented, climbing himself up onto a control panel, "No more trial-and-error consumption of whatever happens to be near our salamander heads! No more guessing games during group mating sessions!"

    Captain Menchez pushed Marseille's slowly waking Human body off her control panel, "If you are representative of what the Delta Quadrant will have to offer, I am confused and bewildered!"

    He then hit a control button and the B'Cnah entered into Warp 10 again. The ship then exited, not too long after, on Menchez's command.

    "As you are aware, it doesn't matter what you do; we can just flip the cycle over again," salamander-Venice interjected as he noticed he was a salamander again, "We are not to be denied our ability to do squats."

    Shocked and appalled, Menchez hit the Warp 10 button again, causing another bright flash and everyone to change back.

    "You see?" human-Venice called out, "This is the true path of evolution! It just goes back and forth from humanoid to salamander to humanoid to salamander! The science checks out!"

    Menchez hit the button again and again, and after each flashy Warp 10 jump, everyone except Menchez was switched to either humanoid or salamander, "This can't be?? It's a complete contradiction. Whoever thought of this must've been on something?? Perhaps studio pressure to have something good-- but at what cost? Compromising the universe??"

    Menchez grabbed a nearby salamander, Marseille, and threw her at a lowly Bekk in frustration.

    "Aahhh!" screamed Bekk Rinn in fear.

    Venice jumped onto another panel and switched it again, "It's too late, Captain. The research has been done; the metaphorical 'episode' has been aired. The ability exists!"

    The Captain then accessed the database. "Not if I delete the in-progress documentation," he continued, "That, and destroy the modifications! Your divergence has caused far too much pain and suffering on message boards and holo-chat rooms-- You are not to be a catalyst for temporal reset buttons any longer! --Except this one last time," he switched everyone back and then programmed a feedback loop into the modified systems, destroying the Warp 10 function.

    "NNOOOOOO!!!" the salamander-Venice screamed, "I was going to take up Russian dancing!"

    Menchez completed the system purge and then held his knife at surrounding salamanders, "You can all forget about your planned shoe shopping ambitions, you salamander-petaQ!" He watched as his dizzying crew got back to their feet.

    "Captain," Ch'Tong started, groggily, "Am I to assume we are in our next evolutionary-form, which just happens to be exactly like we were before, rather than a sixth or eighth more different form?"

    "Indeed," Menchez answered, "And as such each of us must endeavor to stop all hints of Warp 10 anywhere from now on."

    Venice squiggled his way for the door, but was blocked by Derok's foot, "Permission to murder most foul, strange and unnatural, Captain?"

    "Collect them all and bring them to the Galley. They will await our new chef," Menchez commanded.

    Ulkegh got up, slowly, "Sir! You cannot really mean to eat those things??"

    "It is the only way to prevent from further Warp 10 incursions, Lieutenant. We may be saving the Delta Quadrant from scientific incongruity, but we are still Klingons! It is our duty to do horrifying deeds and then ask questions later!"

    Ch'Tong nodded, "He's got a point. Everything we do should feel unsettling to outsiders."

    "Very well," Ulkegh turned, "Although, it is odd we are speaking from that perspective. Also, perhaps such an example will assist in toughening this Quadrant up a bit more."

    Menchez accessed a nearby drawer and started handing out Klingon forks and knives, "From what I have seen, I will agree with that necessity. Now we just need a cook. --Ch'Tong, set a course for the nearest Talaxian colony!"

    The B'Cnah turned and jumped to warp; the hunger imposing in on their mighty bellies.
  • catstarstocatstarsto Member Posts: 2,149 Arc User
    edited August 2014
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 653 Arc User
    edited August 2014
    Gregs sat at his desk, tired and stressed out.

    Just yesterday he was whisked away by Q to the Q Continuum, where he went on to defeat an Iconian backed, brainwashed, evil version of himself, who by sheer luck and persistence, he managed to pull him out of his despair and give him hope, enough to fight back against his programming, and of course Q, in his nigh impish gratitude, took this version of himself to who knows when and where.

    Of course before the Q debacle, the Oregon was sent to Eta Eridani in hopes of rescuing a dying mining colony, only to find out that the mining depot was ripped away and floating in orbit of its Class-K Planet, revealing a secret Section 31 testing and storage facility holding untested weaponry, prototype ships, and failed experiments. It helped ease the tension when it was revealed the mining station was manned by prototype androids and Holographic A.I. miners. Then they found out why. A rogue Section 31 agent had attacked the mining facility, nearly destroyed a Republic Warbird in the area responding to the mining colony, and disabling a Vo'Quv Dreadnaught, while destroying its load of S'kul fighters, that had responded to the Warbird's own distress call.

    If it hadn't been for the Bortasqu' responding, the agent would have gone on to destroy both ships and continue to ravage the mining colony, instead escaping to a planetary system near the Otha star system. Arriving to the scene of the carnage Gregs and his crew joined Captain Koren to track down the murderous agent, and capture him, while Gregs goal was to keep Koren from nearly killing the madman. When they had caught him they had knocked him unconscious, to find a neural parasite altering his brain chemistry, feeding on his paranoia and enhancing his rage, and making him believe that everyone in command, whether Federation, Klingon, or Romulan, was an Iconian pawn.

    Gregs had been targeted last, cornered in his room as the secretive agent had escaped his cell, before Ten could remove the parasite inside. After finally overcoming the parasite controlled Viktor Sage, Gregs called for back-up, which arrived in the form of Ten of Ten and Gar'Atadar and a security team of red shirts. Ten had whipped up a neutralizer to the parasitic organism, finally removing it from Mr. Sage. By the time they had returned to ESD with Sage, he was lost in transition to a mental rehabilitation facility, while Gregs had found a thank you from Drake on his desk, written in cursive and on real paper, along with a P.A.D.D. marked with a Delta symbol. New reports on the Delta Quadrant had been loaded into it, and Gregs took the chance to look over it.

    *****

    From the Ocampa, to the Kazon, to the Hazari, to the Octanti, there were dozens of different filed reports on the Delta Quadrant, and some weren't released to the public yet. Tal Shiar Files, Voth, and more were all included, some he was familiar with, others foreign. Even reports on the Klingon settled world in the Delta Quadrant were found in here.

    He truly wondered if they would all be ready to go out beyond the Jenolan or Solanae Dyson Spheres, because the unknown was just as deadly as the foes they faced in their own back yard, let alone the looming threat of the Iconians.

    What truly scared Gregs was rumors of a phantom army, ships that would strike and disappear afterword. It truly made him wonder, was it the Iconians doing? Could it be the Vaadwaur who regained power after humiliation by Janeway, or even a possibly Iconian backed Quarra? Maybe, and this is what scared him the most, it could be another Dyson Sphere, holding some unknown race like the Solanae Sphere, meant to house an fleet of Iconian servitor warships, being used to attack. Perhaps it was all just rumor.

    Perhaps...

    The unknown, the final frontier, whether final journeys, or new expansions into uncharted, unclaimed territories, it was always frightening, always unknown. Gregs pondered. 'Were they truly ready?'
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,387 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    “There’s Always Some Strings Attached”

    “Just get us back to the ship, Jeral - whatever it takes,” Vice Admiral An’riel ordered in her most imperious tone, if sotto voce, brushing past the cloak indicating her rank, and gestured for her Trill liaison officer to lead the way. He’d proven as useful in navigating the bureaucracy as his skills as a security officer in her long-term loan/hired gun status for the Federation. Such troopers, after all, tended to be snapped up by the Tal Shiar in the bad old days.

    Her Trill liaison officer with Starfleet nodded once, briskly. He wasn’t wearing the usual green stripes to indicate an association with the Republic - he was in the new dress uniform Starfleet had authorized instead. It wasn’t quite clear if Romulan vice admirals came under the uniform customization exceptions- and also, the Romulans preferred the tunics and jackets of Republic duty uniforms compared to the heavy, imperious epaulettes and high collars of their dress uniforms. The least he could do was suffer in sympathy - it’d been a very bad few weeks.

    His captain and the rest of her bridge crew, and half the rest of her complement, had been debriefed extensively by the strategy division at Space Station K-7 after the chaos of the last week. The cease fire had been signed, but most of the Klingon High Council had died, and Starfleet’s command structure literally had holes ripped right through it. Everyone who wasn’t being debriefed had been loaned out to maintain or repair systems at K-7 or the surrounding systems.

    She and her crew didn’t have much experience at K-7. She and D’tan didn’t agree on Reunification in a sense of rejoining the Vulcans, but she believed in the Republic - and that meant not lending her fire to the intermittent front lines of the Klingon Front. She’d been on K-7 maybe four times, and didn’t know her way around.

    And, An’riel had publicly and loudly sword vengeance and death against a Federation citizen the last time she’d been around, which meant Jeral had to carefully stop them from being stopped for more questions and make very sure the merry band of Romulans he had fallen in with did not see parts of the strategy division.

    Franklin Drake, some sort of civilian strategist, had asked for help in following up on the True Way mercenaries that had once been bounty-hunting Republic ships, and An’riel had some experience and good instincts with unravelling conspiracies. What they’d discovered were time-travelling, phantom, radiation-spewing, brain-sucking aliens. Really. But, after blasting storybook demons right back where they came from, An’riel had learned that a piece of active Borg tech had been smuggled onto her ship.

    The Trill reflected that Romulans usually didn’t visibly get angry - the Remans tended to, but the Romulans seemed to feel it used up valuable plotting time. So, when someone who’d merely nodded and expressed warm thanks - publicly, everyone had heard her screams during the nightmares - after being rescued from a Tal Shiar indoctrination, had started waving a plasma pistol around the bridge and demanding the command codes to beam Drake right out of his office and gun him down, it’d taken him by surprise.

    Jeral’s contacts at Command indicated some sort of quiet deal had been arranged - a huge influx of materiel and supplies to the Republic, an upgrade from the old second-hand D’deredix Obisek had gifted from the Vault to one of the new designs the Republic had created, and a very quickly arranged, very high-profile terrorist-hunting assignment to the Cardassian front and away from the Neutral Zone for An’riel.

    Whatever blood price had been granted her, Jeral did not want to provoke it. The last organization that had experimented with ‘wild’ Borg tech, after all, had been systematically dismantled, in very large part, at the slim hands of a russet-haired Romulan. And there were plenty of shadows to fight before hunting specters in the Federation.

    ******
    An’Riel relaxed as the familiar blood-colored sparks of her Ha’nom’s transporter beam enveloped her, and the bright lights and metal of K-7 were replaced by the warmer tones and less harsh light frequencies of Great Owl’s transporter room 1, home away from Tau Dewa. It’d taken a lot of-tradeoffs for the Republic to match the sensor and lab capabilities of Starfleet’s ships and still be a proper Warbird, but An’riel loved every rivet and knew every noise it made.

    She frowned, or at least every noise it was supposed to make. The deep hum of the singularity core was muted - the injectors weren’t running. She turned towards Veril, and, true to form the Reman engineer was already tapping on her wrist communicator. At An’riel’s eyebrow, the chief engineer shook her head.

    “You would think,” An’riel said dryly, “That having saved two homeworlds would get us a better priority on antimatter refueling.” Great Owl had raced literally from the Delta Quadrant to Earth to Qo’nos at high warp without pause, and that much effort had seriously drained her fuel reserves. Their battle damage had been relatively light and they’d repaired it themselves, but all of K-7’s facilities were at capacity.

    Jeral spoke up, “I’m sorry Ma’am - I checked when I was over there, but I got routed to another office - there’s convoys missing all over the place and there’s still ships being confirmed missing.”

    An’riel studied the Trill just enough to make him twitch - he had a very good soul, and she admired his efforts to stop her doing something so dishonorable, bless his spots. She did enjoy occasionally reminding him the Federation wasn’t perfect. The Republic had its own destiny, and even if she agreed with the Federation more among the great powers, she didn’t intend to blaze a trail that ended with the Republic a mere client state.

    “It’s all right, Jeral - we’ve got almost all of Hiven’s operations, half the engineers, and most of Satra’s medical team running missions to local worlds as it is - we’re all well aware how badly logistics have torn up and how many holes are left even with all the efforts to patch it. And with the Elements-damned Iconians up to something…” she trailed off, shaking her head.

    “I think we’ll be headed back to the Jenolean Sphere. There’s something there they don’t want us to explore, but we still have a house to put into order,” she said. She rubbed her eyes. Her endurance of her species was considered unusually high for most of the galaxy, but that had given out around the third time she and her team had been explaining exactly what shade the light was when the Iconian burst into the Great Hall.

    “Everyone’s feeling the strain of keeping the sector from burning down.” She stood straighter and tapped her wrist communicator: “Orders to follow - light duty shifts the next few hours, minimum coverage is allowed - continue shore leave cycle, tie into the alert stations at K-7 for emergencies.” Great Owl’s computer beeped, processing and updating duty cycles. She flipped it off and looked at her friends and crew, “Ship’s office meeting - make it eight hours, get some food as well, and sleep if you can.” She smiled briefly, “I suspect light duty will end soon - eventually Starfleet will finish promoting into holes enough to realize they have a Romulan cloak lurking around.”

    *****

    Eight hours later, An’riel was feeling much better to be back in the Republic’s ‘work jacket’ uniform after a shower, a nap, and checking in with Obisek on how the aftereffects of the Undine attack were affecting the Republic. She nodded to the Uhlans manning the communication and engineering consoles with the ship on standby. They also, she was pleased to note, looked properly rested at least, and eager to be off. The ship’s shuttle complement was returning as duty assignments were finished, and she wanted her people back, and according to her workstation, a tanker convoy was on its way to K7, so they’d be able to spread their wings soon - apparently there had been some confusion finding a convoy commander.

    She walked through to the ship’s office. She’d once had a discussion with Jeral about the ‘ready room’ tradition of Starfleet, with the officer who was probably least likely to have paperwork directly involving the bridge having the closest office. And heavily customized, even though they had the largest quarters. The Ha’nom was so large that An’riel’s current quarters were bigger than her house on Virinat, and she had a nice office down there. Generally, whoever was next on watch on Great Owl grabbed it to catch up, a tradition that had started three warbirds back. It made a useful bridge officer conference room thanks to the sofas. Apparently Starfleet ships had more lounges.

    She was also, unsurprisingly, the last to arrive, even though she was five minutes early. The chair behind the desk was invitingly empty and a mug of her current favorite tea blend had been placed Such, she mused, are the perks of command.

    “I’ll want the department reports later, but first I’ve gotten the strategic situation back home from Obisek,” she declared, smiling slightly at the wave of interest that washed through her friends’ body language. “New Romulus was not assaulted by the Undine. The Tholians also seem to be biding their time currently - we’ve reestablished control at Dyson Command. D’tan is currently diverting materiel flows in excess of the agreement to our allies, but considering the chaos we’ve been dealing with out here, the sooner the Klingons and Federation are re-organized, the better.” Torvan at this, reached over and nudged Jerel, who winced, not just from the poke. An’riel didn’t smile, as she was busy being Admiral.

    Her liaison’s discomfort at his family’s teasing of his House, as it were, had her reorganize her mental outline. “We are currently still seconded to Starfleet, however and operating under its authority for the time being. We’ve been able to show the flag in areas we wouldn’t have the chance otherwise, and there’s been another round of commendations approved after last week’s little miracle. That said, the new wave of ships should be off the yards soon better utilizing the principles of technology discovered in the Sphere, and we’re still on the fast track for a new one.” She did permit herself to smile at that. She loved having a science ship equal in sensors to Starfleet, but it was nice to be recognized.

    “Obisek would like to arrange some interviews and debriefing,” Professional officers (or even amateur officers, she allowed, with how half her crew had joined her) did not groan and throw objects during formal briefings, but they certainly looked like they wanted to, “It’s clear something happened with unlocking the Jenolan Sphere and its access to the Delta Quadrant - I suspect we’ll get to do some proper expl-” the room’s communicator chimed and her blood nearly froze. What could be that important now?

    “Yes?” she said, after a moment to steady her breathing.

    “Communication from K-7 Admiral,” reported the bridge, “Commander Wildman with a request for communications.”

    “Put it on the wall screen,” she ordered, “And see if you can get an ETA on that tanker.” Bridge acknowledged, and the hybrid face of K-7’s commander popped on, smiling if harried.

    “Admiral, good to reach you. I apologize for the delay in servicing your ship, especially with its critical role. The C&C net is falling back into place, and we’ve extended formal apologies to Tau Dewa.” An’riel nodded graciously, and the Commander continued, “In spite of the cease-fire, we’ve had several ships on independent assignments go missing, and we were building a profile of the case and wanted to have you as an asset.”

    An’riel spoke, hesitantly, “Commander, if these are independent Klingon privateers, I understand that legally the Republic would be protected from issues with the High Council, and I fully understand the importance of trade, but-” She shrugged, resigning her ship to another week waiting to get refueled, at least. Getting Republic vessels tied up in the war of their allies was a bad idea, in her opinion, though she knew several countrymen who was involved in the game of raid and counterraid.

    To her surprise, the Commander shook her head, “Actually Admiral, this doesn’t appear to be House raiders going for a last chance before J’mpok clamps down. The ships involved have been highly decorated - several were at Vega - and some of the best of our rising officers, all appear to have been taken off-line quickly. After events in the First City, we believe it may be Elachi.” Now her crew murmured, and she nodded.

    It fit the Elachi profile of shadowy raids, and the Elachi had become bolder of late, not hiding behind the tartared cloak of Tal Shiar ‘governence’ of their activity. Even at Starfleet’s epicenter of the concluded war, there were other science vessels scattered amongst the escorts, but Great Owl probably had more experience with the Iconian’s slaves than anyone else at K-7. Her mind raced. And - her own reluctance to get involved in the Federation’s war with the Empire helped as well - a science vessel doing warp scans of the Neutral Zone would otherwise be inflaming tensions no one could afford.

    “With the speed of the attacks,” Wildman continued, “We believe they may be using an active gateway somewhere in the Neutral Zone region - hiding it in subspace. Some of our Intelligence analysts have been working on a new program for identifying that sort of subspace activity, and it arrived in this morning’s data packet. I’m sure you’ll get more out of it than I did-” Wildman, An’riel recalled was tactical track.

    “Operationally it requires a ‘quiet’ portion of space with little warp activity. With the falloff in action on the Neutral Zone, there are several strategic points that are now quiet enough to qualify, and we’ve got one picked out. The downside is the repeater stations haven’t been replaced yet, you won’t have realtime subspace back here, but we know you can take care of yourself, and if you do find anything,” Wildman smiled, somewhat ferally in An’riel’s opinion, “Come on back and we’ll find a task force to go knock on any gates.”

    An’riel gave a relieved smile and spoke, “I’m more than happy to share the honor, Commander Wildman. The Elachi threaten the entire Beta quadrant, Commander - Great Owl and the Republic are honored to assist. We will leave once we are able.”

    “We’re transmitting the operations folder now - we have a spot picked we’ll try and keep traffic diverted around. The freighter captains are mainly a bit spooked right now, but we’ve already got independents headed over the Neutral Zone.” An’riel checked her console that the download had started, and Wildman signed off - off to the next crisis. Once again I am happy my rank in a sinecure, An’riel thought to herself, 1500 lives is almost more trust than I can bear.

    ******

    It’d taken Starfleet only a day or two once the convoy was in motion to set out, and fuel had been doled out. Many ships were leaving to other fronts, and the injured were headed for a long refit in the shipyards. D’tan and Obisek were not the only ones planning a Delta expedition, clearly. Great Owl was now approaching its destination at a graceful speed of Warp 8 so An’riel and the science department could reach the particulars of their orders.

    After some discussion with specialists - gravimetrics and the exotic particles of normal space were a stronger area for An’riel. Satra was, while an excellent doctor, more the science department’s administrator than an actual science officer in the usual sense, and Hiven had a good grasp of theory, but was a computer theorist and operations specialist in the end. They’d decided the new ‘technique’ was really just a more standard in-depth subspace tracking scan with some new frequencies. Still, it wasn’t a bad idea, they might get lucky and spot some Elachi in transit, and it might even work. Maybe.

    “Warp travel will cease in ten seconds,” reported Hiven. . “Preplanned power reconfiguration ready and diagnostics show clear. Ship secured at action stations” Her main crew and friends were on the bridge, Veril overseeing her department from the repeater station while D’vex, that old campaigner, kept an eye on impulse. The Reman gave a quick thumbs-up as the singularity bled off power, and the ship’s light and tone changed upon entry to real space. Lateral sensors showed a fairly typical swatch of space, some long-cold asteroids orbiting a common point. That was expected, the large mass would provide some shielding against backscatter from the warp trails of more inhabited space and would make for an ‘emptier’ view.

    “Normal procedure,” An’riel ordered, “Give me a scan for anomalies and perform a concentrated sensor sweep of the surrounding area. When some processing is freed up, get me a rundown of those asteroids.” She may be young, and lived far from Rator, but it hadn’t taken Virinat to make An’riel cautious or curious. Only we can know our own honor, she’d once heard as a quote, as the only one Rhinnasu can see truly is ourselves. It was too easy to consider multiple angles - an asset in space, but it had nearly poisoned her people’s politics and sold them all to worse-than-slavery. And she hadn’t been one for long, but once a rockhound, you can’t help but see potential rewards at any rock that large.

    Later, in retrospect, she’d considered that even with her ‘plotting’, she was not expecting anything to appear. Still, let the Vulcans consider it ‘logic’ or ‘calculating odds’ with their better press, it had certainly saved their lives this time.

    “Admiral,” reported Hiven urgently, “I’m getting an anomalous material return near the asteroids - certainly refined duranium, but I’m having trouble holding the signal.”

    “Battle alert! Accelerate to full impulse and give me tactical,” she ordered, as the klaxon briefly chimed. The view of the black blinked off - a hazy signal indicating poor return showed up. She observed the distance markers with a chill - it would have just been in weapon range if she’d proceeded at full impulse. Or if she relied on a normal sweep, the crew may not have spotted it. It could be some lost derelict, but it was also possible An’riel would get a call from the Tal Shiar, with a polite request for her to become Empress.

    “Do not cloak,” she said, “Get that trace solidified and begin analysis,” she said. Satra nodded and contacted her teams as An’riel continued, “Proceed into weapon range, and prepare to issue challenge on standard frequencies.” They’d be in range shortly but the asteroids were apparently slightly radioactive, and with the ship moving relative to the original sweep, Hiven’s tracking was degrading, and cloak would muffle most of Great Owl’s sensors. And, she had a suspicion -

    “Energy flare from target!” Hiven interrupted as the shields, held in readiness at this alert level snapped on as an arc of energy blazed across them. Meanwhile, the target snapped into relief on tactical -the blazing red of an enemy contact - it had, indeed, been actively damping its signature. Satra reported, “Initial contact indicates a force beam of unusual composition - appears to be a modified cutting beam of Borg origin.” An’riel nodded. That was on the edge of not being unusual, many of the best ships on all sides had been refitted, but if they’d been cloaked without shields, they’d already be in trouble. The enemy ship was starting to accelerate relative to them, and, she noted, was beginning to enter tactical maneuvers they didn't have the tactical systems to match.

    “Torvan - ready torpedoes for immediate firing. Jeral, deploy tactical teams to computer priority - get me good shots. Work with Hiven and get targets on their engines. Satra, ready deflector teams to generate a Tyken’s Rift and -” she paused, and whirled on Hiven as the tactical icon began to flutter between a friendly green and an enemy red.

    Hiven shrugged and reported urgently, “Transponder contact as U.S.S. Hestia - Federation starship, Vesta-class. Warp signature matches transponder identification!”

    “Tactical, do not shoot, Torvan, hold fire,” she repeated unnecessarily, “Hiven, broadcast our clearance codes and IFF again, pull up anything we have on the ship and captain.” She leaned forward, maybe that ship had been awaiting Klingons and didn’t know the war was over. It had only been a week. “Prepare message: Federation vessel Hestia, this is R.R.W. Great Owl, we are a Republic vessel aligned with the Federation operating on a Starfleet mission, please cease fire.” Hiven nodded again, and she studied tactical. In a minute, she’d know whether or not it had worked.

    Instead of a bridge popping up on the viewer, her bridge lurched as fiery red bolts burst out of the Hestia’s forward weapon points and she winced. Starfleet had been quite pleased to show the specs for their newest science craft, and she’d expected its captain had refitted it with cannons, but antiprotons were a cut above. That level of cutting-edge meant a lot of pull with somewhere in Starfleet, and her status repeater showed abrasions developing in the hull from what had leaked past the shields.

    “Enemy ship has begun blanketing subspace frequencies!” Satra reported. They could not call for help - at least with the shields up, at this range from any friendly transmitter. Short-range should have still been open, but...

    “We cannot wait for a response. Please note in the ship’s log we our engaging in an effort to drive down her shields and ascertain the Hestia’s quantum signature - it may be very lost,” she said. “Deflector control, prepare Tyken’s Rift. Torvan, prepare to target enemy impulse drivers.” Her oldest allies nodded, and with a slight thumb, Great Owl’s heavily refitted paired navigational deflector and long-range sensor system, her most powerful and flexible broadcast device, combined with the measurements made by her science staff… and they made space twist. The Void of Elements practically screamed as a hole opened in nothing, a hungry maw for power. Torvan’s plasma beams went into action, causing spot failures in EPS conduits and making the ship decelerate.

    She nodded. A few more seconds and the ship’s power should be reduced enough to let her peer through Hestia’s shields. If not, she still had a few tricks. One of her secondary screens blinked as what Hiven had gathered came through, and she spared it a glance. A porcine Tellarite face was attached. Captain Bem Gev, apparently. Had clearly been fast-tracked, judging by the service dates. Even captained the Academy water polo team. But according to Great Owl, he and ship should be deep in the Solanae Sphere. No information on configuration, sadly.

    “Starting to read fluctuations,” Satra reported, “Sensor analysis being passed for tactical review.” Which is when the Hestia suddenly blinked off tactical, to reappear immediately behind the giant warbird, at perfect range. Great Owl’s shuddering grew with intensity as enemy weapons regenerated their power. Satra’s composure continued without a beat, “Ship has moved without gravimetric distortion - not a singularity jump. No warp field detected, subspace field detected!”

    An’riel cursed, “Subspace jumper - I’ve heard of it but that’s rare this side of the border.” The ship lurched again, and sparks flew as the Warbird struggled to disperse the firepower brought to bear.

    “Rear shields at fifty percent!” Veril reported, “And dropping fast - overall shielding at 30!” She punched a button and cursed, “We’ve not had enough time to generate singularity charge!”

    “Warp shadow?” An’riel asked. That was an unusual ability, but gravity was the Republic’s artform. They could confuse the enemy sensors for a few seconds, enough to avoid the cutting beam and cannons, and cloak away without dropping their shields first. She was angry yes, but it was not worth 1500 lives to strike back.

    Virel hesitated, “Barely, limited effect, I can get maybe one signature.” An’riel nodded. The Reman sighed and tapped into the power bleeding off their core. An’riel waited - timing on this was critical, into the realm of captaining rather than a system, and she waited to utilize the proper cloak and drop their shields. Before she could, however, a wave of charged particles left their shields glowing - and a tractor beam reached out to slow them to a crawl.

    An’riel growled. They had not been able to ascertain their enemy’s identity, but she would not let her crew's throats be cut silently, “Open the dampener manifolds - emergency maneuvers authorized, bring us about, maneuver plan four as soon as we can break the tractor. Tactical, you are authorized to return fire as weapons bear.” Her crew nodded and busied themselves in preparation, before the ship’s shuddering switched tones. An’riel spun her chair as the engineering repeater lit up with red.

    Veril reported urgently, one hand in her ear in a transceiver as she relayed reports. “Targeted damage to engines.”

    “With a cutting beam?” Torvan asked in disbelief.

    “Target utilized a targeted antiproton array - probably the miniaturized versions from the Solanae - I have a count on forward weapons,” Satra reported. An’riel blinked, she’d figured it had been loaded for kill after hearing it had been deployed in the Solanae space, and traded off the beam arrays.

    She cursed, rear shields were about to collapse, and they’d barely begun to cut through Hestia’s - it would be a few seconds more before they had a good enough picture of the current EPS routing to try another subsystem attack, and they were being herded against the asteroids, and now fighters began to emerge. She nodded in sick appreciation at her enemy. Her ship’s usual gravity well and multifire tactics against swarms would not be as effective. She had lost. An’riel’s mouth dropped open and she nodded as her mind caught up with its last thought. She had lost, her ship’s configuration and usual moves, and how she had trained her crew, had all been accounted for expertly.

    “Hiven - signal my surrender - open call. Prepare to secure combat systems if they respond,” An’riel requested, calmly, tapping her armrest.

    “Admiral? A false surrender-” Jeral began, and stopped at the look An’riel gave.

    “There is nothing false!” she snapped, the bridge settling into silence. “I cannot win this battle in its current form. We have been carefully planned against, and our heads are in the snare. Subcommander Hiven, signal our surrender!”

    “Yes, Admiral,” The Romulan tapped briefly at his console. “Audio-only response.”

    “Jolan tru, Admiral, this is Captain Gev” came a husky baritone, sounding pleased. “I have no wish to destroy your ship at this time. Please lock down your weapons and place your ship on the heading I will transmit, I will open negotiations in a moment.” An’riel looked around at the crew, and nodded slowly. The voice had not sounded mad.

    After a brief, if lingering pause, the main screen came on, showing a Tellarite in Starfleet uniform. Judging by the trophies haphazardly placed on the shelving behind him, this was probably a ready room. And it was Starfleet, no dagger insignia of the mirror universe present, or the barbaric splashes to their uniform design.

    An’riel rested her head in one hand as one rested on the console, and tapped out commands. Hiven, please confirm appearance matches, and zoom on shelving to my screen. Aloud, she spoke.

    “Captain Gev, I protest this unprovoked, random, intemperate attack on your government’s ally,” she began, though Gev gave no real reaction. “My ship, however, is at your mercy from this unprovoked and unexplained act of aggression.”

    “Yes,” replied her Starfleet(?) opponent, “That was clever with the open call - I could not merely continue the attack with no reaction after my bridge crew heard. They do not yet understand, but,” he leaned forward, “You do show, or ape, tremendous compassion. I can entertain your curiosity for this piece of agg-”

    Unprovoked,” she interrupted.

    The Tellarite laughed lightly, “Ah, Captain, that is truly a lie. I am sending transporter coordinates to one of the asteroids. I guarantee it is not simply rock, but you would, I believe know. Your vessel will transmit its computer codes to my ship and its first officer, leaving it under their control. You will beam down alone. You will see, and if you are not what I believe, which I suppose is still in projections,” he mused aloud. An’riel ground her teeth greatly. This was not the first TRIBBLE who enjoyed letting you know when someone was in their power, and their delight in it sickened her. But at this point, it was what she had to count on. He shook himself, “Anyway, meet me at the coordinates. You may bring weapons if you wish, it will not matter.”

    The screen cut off with finality. An’riel turned to her science crew, holding up a hand to forestall Torven for a moment. “Follow instructions, tell the armory to prepare my usual ground gear. First: Satra?”

    Satra nodded, “Facial profile matches that of Captain Bem Gev - we were able to get a retina scan, and it was Tellarite, eighty-five percent probability of match given family history and Tellarite genetics.” An’riel nodded, impressed. They didn’t have Starfleet’s biometric database, and that was a fine piece of work.

    Hiven popped the zoomed image on screen, of several dusty Academy and high school water polo trophies. “This is what you asked for, but I don’t see…” he shrugged, “Admiral, we can send a virus over with the codes with a little work, we have all those Tal Shiar matrices we’ve kept evolving.” Hiven pressed a few buttons, “No follow-up, but we’ve still got a carrier wave on Hestia, they’re not answering.”

    An’riel smiled, “No, the Tal Shiar’s favorite little devils have come in handy before, but I think this,” she pointed at the trophies, “is enough to start a working theory. If I’m right,” she said after a pause, “Torvan, just to tilt the scales - can you see any advantage of not firing all weapons from ambush?”

    The old security hand thought a moment and shook his head, surprised at the question. “Except in mattters of weapon timing or range, but that’s limited more by sensors, and ECM/ECCM - the kinetic beam doesn’t cost ammunition, so even if it doesn’t do much against shields, it’s still useful, and it doesn’t have the positioning problems of a torpedo,” he answered.

    “Last time you switched weapons, how long did it take you to get used to it at the firing range?” An’riel asked, mind racing.

    “Well, the new split beam from New Romulus looks a little different, but it wasn’t like I switched gun types-” he stopped, eyes narrowing. “You don’t think he’s who he says he is.”

    “I think perhaps, yes, he is not - I do think he may be from this universe though, and I do not think he has gone after such a great target yet, but he has been at this duty” An’riel allowed. “And I have bought us a few more minutes, at least, by the Elements,” she sighed, “Veril, see if you can prepare a cloaked log buoy if nothing else. Starfleet knows where we are. There will be questions, there will be Rihannsu seeking answers.” The Reman nodded, saluting with hand to her chest, as An’riel stood.

    “An’riel,” Hiven said urgently, “A new signal has come on-line - we’re getting a transporter signal receiver antenna at the coordinates.” An’riel studied the tactical plot briefly and shook her head.

    “Well, I will not become one with earth yet, I suppose,” she said. No one laughed, but she’d tried the joke before. She shrugged, and patted Torvan on the shoulder. “You have command - see if you can get them to talk over there. They are Federation, they usually enjoy it. This was a trap for me,” she said, frowning briefly, “Perhaps its jaws will close empty on you. If not, you know the transference procedure. Get the ship to New Romulus if you can. D’tan will confirm your command.”

    Torvan, her oldest ally, with all the blood they’d shed, shook his head, “We’ll get you out,” he promised.

    “No, Torvan,” she said urgently, “This isn’t lurking around, biting off pieces of the Tal Shiar - this was set up for me, and we don’t know if every one of our friends in Federation service is having the same thing happen.” Her eyes blazed briefly.

    Torvan paused, concerned, “You really think the Federation would turn on us like this? The Vulcans-” he stopped, “You’re right - just, be careful.”

    An’riel nodded, “I’m carrying full rig - even if he’s prepared for me, I’ve got a lot of tricks customized into my armor by now. And Torvan - keep trying to raise the Hestia until you can get our people home. I was watching the tacfeeds. Not a flicker of energy on that rock until the transporter came on. No cloak, and no evidence of subspace comm through all that rock - that means at least unusual and may mean old.” An’riel headed to the turbolift, but its screen came on. Her first officer apparently wasn’t quite done with the conversation.

    “We found you last time - or time before last,” Torvan amended.

    “True, but this doesn’t feel Iconian, too blatant after all the work to get us here. I would expect them to attack directly in a follow-up if they were trying to eliminate witnesses, I’ve frustrated their pawns enough.” An’riel mused, “Tell Hestia I’ll be down in two minutes, even if they aren’t answering.”

    ****
    A minute later, An’riel found her vision clearing from the blaze of transporter effect to be standing in a transporter pad at the end of a dug-out rock shaft. She dug her tricorder out immediately, leaving her pistol at her hip. The walls were polished, so probably energy weapons of some kind long ago. No radiation left. The wall conduits looked Federation standard between the lights. She focused a scanner on one, these were much newer - the bore-holes for the mounting brackets hadn’t abraded at all.

    Ahead of her was a standard airlock, again from a Federation pattern, and she shrugged, keeping an eye on the signals. As she approached, but before the usual pickup range for an automatic door, it swung open. Her lips thinned. “Parlor games,” she stated, and glanced at the tricorder. No one appeared or tried to defend their dramatics.

    All that was immediately visible was rock - apparently an airlock set up built into a corner. Definitely energy fields ahead - probably set up as dampeners, she’d used a few of the same force configurations before. She shrugged and continued.

    As she stepped through the second lock, the lights briefly flared - and cleared, as An’riel found herself staring at herself. Or at least a hologram, hovering on a small projector on a conference table. Beside it leaned Captain Gev. More importantly, behind was an active Iconian gate, flipping between various points - she spotted at least K-7, what looked like a Klingon space dock, and several subspace transmitters.

    Gev gestured dramatically, “I’m sorry to have to give your crews this hope unnecessarily, but you’re the first Romulan I’ve gotten, and I needed to confirm - you know how Romulans are at plotting. Starfleet is easy, but you could be playing a deep game.”

    “Any plotting is purely tactical,” she replied, half-automatically, “What confirmation? I could have beamed over a blood sample.”

    “Confirmation this was indeed you in this Iconian database! Admiral An’riel tel’Riessei she’Virnat. Listed as person of interest and prime manipulator on their behalf. A traitor to your people and mine on a mind-boggling scale. If you’d been Undine or a Changeling - well, that I could drag back to Starfleet Command and perhaps spare your ship, but who knows what dark things you have brewing aboard?” Elements help her, he actually smiled, “I actually had an Undine - this thing is very good at spotting the threads, but I’m sure you’ve noticed how this room dampens energy, it wasn’t ready for that.”

    An’riel later wondered if this was the part where Starfleet captains had stammered in sheer shock at the insanity, but she’d spent the last few years being vilified by her former government, “I am not an Iconian collaborator - I have spent my entire career as a captain defending 'Romulans', and your Federation from their pawns. If you are trying to make me angry, you are doing a poor job.” She glanced at the data playing - it even had when she had her mourning tattoos removed in the physiological data, though it seemed notably more complete from the point she’d gotten on Hakeev’s kill-list. Still, this was not some simple lie.

    Gev waved it away, “Oh yes, so many ‘heroes’ and ‘star captains’. I had thought at first when I found the place, but the more time I spent here, the more obvious it became. The same names, showing up at crisis after crisis! Keeping your thumbs on the events. The Federation encountered two gates in thirty years. You rose from some dustball to one of the Republic’s finest fighting admirals, encountering almost every major threat the Quadrants have faced in the last quarter-century along the way, and have seen what, five?”

    “I have often admitted I lead an eventful life,” An’riel said, trying to move around the light towards the portal. Gev paced parallel however. He seemed very confident - probably a sword somewhere around or another melee weapon. “I would argue by your hypothesis that the very qualities of a strong captain are recognized by both our governments, and I have a tendency to be placed into harm’s way. And naturally, with a pattern of success, the Iconians would also be interested in tracking those individuals - you may, however inadvertently, have done them a great service.”

    Gev, finally to An’riel’s mind, exploded, “Oh yes, the common argument. Look at the successes! But even as the Tal Shiar is destroyed, Sela is captured. Your efforts helped us see the scope of Iconian manipulation in fluidic space, but both did not stop it and allowed an Undine agent to be placed at the heart of our advanced technology research. And-” he held up a finger, “You can be no true Romulan - the very architect of your people’s death slipped through your hands twice. The second time, just ‘happening’ to be a situation that led her out of the Federation’s most secure prison”

    An’riel’s hands flexed as she continued to walk, “Taris was in no situation to be captured initially - I did not by any measure consider that mission a success, and given the situation in the Facility, I was not checking people who were apparently staying in their cells. My priority was restoring the situation at Deep Space 9 to avoid opening another war.”

    “Yes, yes, I’ve seen the report - your word, a Changeling’s, a Vorta, and one of your henchmen what with the entire computer system collapsing at your visit. And you’ve killed the Jem’hadar you consider the orchestrator. Very convenient. But your ship has been effectively neutralized, and I know you don’t have Starfleet’s close combat training - literally better beings than you have tried,” Gev said dismissively, tapping a few triangles on the console between them. The gate shifted view to her bridge - her crew desperately rebuilding the shields, and then what looked like his own. With a crackle, plasma began to vent to either side of the gate. An'riel blinked at the sudden heat.

    “It’s very simple - confronted by the evidence, you engage in a suicide charge. What’s left of your body will be unable to make any signals to your masters. I control this facility, and then your ship will be another accident put down to Klingon raiders - and as the cease fire extends, I’ll get access to the signalling codes to arrange the same for your friends on the other side of the border.” He laughed contemptuously, “The Hestia’s not quite convinced, so I had to do this the hard way,” he gestured behind him, then pointed at the pistol An’riel had unstrapped when he mentioned her ship’s destruction had not yet been ordered. “I guarantee you can’t burn through this shield rig in time - all I have to do is knock you back into the path of those,” he said, pointing at the plasma spewing, “And wait.”

    An’riel hit the overcharge settings on her best compression pistol and threw the dice, triggering a bolt. Commissioned on New Romulus, there had certainly been more devastating weapons available, and definitely larger ones, but she’d always preferred pistols for the quick shots when relaying data to the big guns. And as an extra thumb on the scales, this one had an extra-tight compressed stream. Gev’s shield barely flared, but without being braced, the force knocked him back through the gateway, appearing to his shock on his own bridge.

    “I couldn’t agree with you more, Captain,” she remarked, and walked towards the gate, unstrapping her tricorder. There was no chance yet of beaming down a team, and as risky as it was - if she didn’t leave the gate, she was dead, the Owl was dead, and far too many others who had done nothing but excelled were at risk.

    Wondering, exactly, where her life had gone from investigating vengeance to just odd, for at least the fourth time in her life, Admiral An’riel, jumped through an alien gateway built by a hostile species into the technically unknown.

    *****

    The bridge of the Hestia was all soft greys, blues, and an immense diversity of aliens united by their uniforms and the dumbfounded expressions on their faces. An’riel was more interested in her tricorder as she kept it aimed at the Tellarite sprawled in front of the captain’s chair.

    “Much easier without the dampening field,” she commented, “But thank you for setting the gateway here - it’ll avoid some awkward questions from Starfleet. Now… when did you kill the captain, and who are you?” A quick press of a button, and a quick tachyon burst fired in a shower of Cherenkov radiation. The Tellarite in front of her blurred, tried to solidfy, and collapsed into a dark-skinned human or near-human. The bridge crew, which had been bringing sidearms to bear, spun them to cover the changed figure, and then wavered to cover the other two. An’riel merely folded her arms.

    The figure stood up, and brushed his uniform, “Federation Intelligence, Alonzo Sidonia.” He looked around, “I can guarantee you, that the removal of your captain was necessary for the safety of the Federation, and our actions may save millions.” The intelligence agent looked squarely at the Romulan, “How did you find me.”

    An’riel laughed, “Not that easy. Commander,” she stated, finding the cranberry-shirt with the most rank pips, “I’m assuming our two government are not, in fact at war, and would like to charge this man with crimes up to murder, high treason, and barrity.” The commander nodded, but to An’riel’s horror, Alonzo actually laughed.

    “Don’t be confused! All these miraculous victories you’ve had - the strings to reach such a powerful ship, Gev was just as much a threat as the others. They have it all documented - they’re just waiting to activate. Who knows what havoc they’ll wreck now that our guard is down?”

    An’riel rolled her eyes and rubbed her forehead ridges, “Yes, all documented. I am a puppet of the Iconians, just waiting for the demons to grab the strings again and leave us all helpless before our dread masters,” she said, “Or… I’ve been lucky enough, and clever enough to survive dangers long enough to be tapped for my experience with crazy. But you know everything, so… what’s my true name?”

    Gev/Sidonia stared blankly. An’riel smiled triumphantly. Literally everyone who knew the name that went to her core was dead - with all the disappearances and piracy of the Tal Shiar, she’d not told anyone else. And her life was insane enough now that it was more dangerous to tell her closest friends, since it was way too obvious a trust password. Any duplicates who suggested it were, therefore, to be shot on sight. Standing orders.

    “I am myself, not the Iconians’ pawn. They don’t know everything, they’re not omnipotent, and the Federation doesn’t either. Commander, may I have control of my ship back and the prisoner? There’s a base down there that needs a forensic team very badly.” The Commander moved his phaser squarely over the intelligence officer.

    Alonzo spat, “You’re all fools - this is just a setback! Computer, code Trojan-Omega” and tapped a button on the side of the captain’s chair, vanishing with transporter effect, before power suddenly cut out on the bridge. An’riel whirled, but Great Owl’s bridge vanished from the screen, and she tapped her communicator to no effect.

    “They’re still locked out of the control systems,” the Commander said ruefully. “Give us a few minutes and we should have it back up.” He nodded to two in operations who began pulling open panels on consoles.

    An’riel sighed and said, “He could literally be on the other side of the galaxy. I suspect another round of offices back at K-7.” She walked past the commander and slumped in Hestia’s command chair, staring up over ridged brows, “Get me back to my ship commander - there’s a lot of questions we need to answer.”

    ******

    A few days of very odd questions had followed. An Iconian gateway had to be shared with the Alliance, and the database was proving very useful for figuring Iconian intelligence techniques. Loss rates of ‘elite’ ships were still being matched up and the damage was proving to be extensive. Now, An’riel sat in a small lounge with a pot of tea and waited one final interview.

    True to form, he announced his presence from behind her. “So, was it one thing, or did you just gamble the Federation hadn’t launched an elaborate snare from circumstantial evidence?” She didn’t turn. Franklin Drake, a distressingly unidentified member of part of the Federation’s intelligence apparatus, had tapped her for missions before. She didn’t care personally for the man, but her honor over his intrusion onto her ship in the Devidian matter had been settled.

    Once the debt is paid, you move on to new business. She enjoyed playing it up since it told her liaison officer that his government and its institutions were not perfect… and reminded her crew they weren’t either. She hadn’t figured out why Drake seemed to enjoy the appearance of rivalry - maybe it was his own hair shirt.

    Regardless… she turned and held up fingers as she listed, “Personal, tactical, and scientific evidence. Enlightened or no, people react to stereotypes, and I was leaning on the Tellarite ‘argumentative’ one pretty hard, and he simply refused to engage. Very unusual.” She chuckled, “And all the recent emphasis on captain’s personalizing their ships, and uniforms, and he hadn’t bothered to dust his trophies. Starfleet is usually more fastidious.”

    Her eyes hardened and she continued, “His tactics were uncertain in a ship that had not engaged in a refit in six months, and should have been known like the back of his hand, and should have been more flexible. I think I could have made a fight of it if I desired sudden war between our governments. And he didn’t want to risk energy fields near his body and so wasn’t armed with ranged weapons, his expression matched exactly his picture in our files without any changes, and I couldn’t get a clear life sign on him, even though there was some sort of bio-scanner set up.”

    She shrugged and said, “If I was wrong, then I’d bought more time for my ship and K-7 to wonder what was happening, and I’d seeded the seeds of distrust with his crew when his anti-Iconian crusade was using Iconian systems. Thin, but I didn’t have much setup time.”

    Drake nodded and said, “The Council is sending an apology to your government, and we’ve got a forensic team that has a decent idea where the last gate settings were set to before he randomized them. We also know where he should have been and what he should have been doing, and will work to eliminate those resources.”

    An’riel nodded and said, “Yes, but those resources almost certainly be tied to Starfleet in some way, so be careful.” Drake looked mildly surprised and she explained, “All the power of some very good infiltration gear and a magic door, and he was after field officers, when he could have hit admirals, strategists, communication points - affect whole fleets.”

    “He may have been trying to avoid capture or build a case before doing something so high-profile,” Drake suggested.

    “Or he may have been right, and the Iconians have data feeds from our Headquarters,” An’riel countered, “Those records had to come from somewhere. Stay safe, Mr. Drake.” An’riel smiled and stood up to walk out, “And remember to keep saying please - I doubt you’ll see many captains wanting to just obey strange orders in Erdiani for a while.”

    “We’ll root them out. My organization is very thorough,” Drake said, “I will not let the Federation fall.”

    An’riel stopped and drew herself up, “I’ve heard that before, Mr. Drake, just as confidently, and when it proved not to be true getting rid of them has hurt many, many people,” she said calmly after a moment to center. She started again towards the door and finished, “But those who thought themselves above reproach were brought down, and the Republic will work to make sure the same happens to the Iconains, and… others if need be.”

    Drake didn’t respond, but she doubted he saw the need. Whatever spider’s web he thought himself the center of wasn’t a problem for herself or the Republic, at least this week. Outside, Great Owl waited to head back to New Romulus, and more straightforward problems. If the Federation couldn’t finish its housecleaning, then Duty would demand her return, but that was only a potential problem. The Spheres and the Iconians, meanwhile, beckoned.
    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!
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    Transwarp Gateways were gigantic constructs and simply looked like a large tube bent at six angles. They floated in space, held into a fixed position relative to nearby stars by RCS thruster assemblies and basically automated. Only a few work crews from varying factions arrived for scheduled maintenance and repair.

    Kathryn Beringer looked at the viewscreen on board Solaris at one of the few that sprinkled the known galaxy. The one she marveled at in particular was still under construction and projected to be completed within weeks. In the background was the Solonae Sphere. Being four AU away, she could see it as a massive black dot that blocked out the stars.

    A console nearby chirped, adding to the many beeps already present on the bridge. Chief Engineer Thel Ythysi received the message and looked to Kathryn. "Captain, the gate engineer has sent the passcode. The shuttle is enroute and will be requesting docking clearance with five minutes."

    Kathryn nodded, "thank you Thel." She looked to her First Officer and smiled. "Just enough time if we run."

    Anthi Ythysi grinned, "I could use the exercise."

    "Commander Omazei, you have the conn."

    "Aye, Captain," the Trill replied and stood from the science station to sit in the Captain's chair as Kathryn and Anthi entered the turbolift.

    +++

    The Tellarite handed Kathryn a PADD. She was trying not to breathe heavy from the jog needed to arrive in the shuttlebay before the Gateway Engineer could disembark.

    "Be careful with that information, this data transfer is not typical and I'm not interested in formalities."

    Kathryn took a deep breath before responding. "Sounds like a personal problem, but following orders is what we do in Starfleet, right?"

    The Tellarite rolled his eyes and waved off the remark. "Unless we have other business, then I'm already late to fix something else of galactic importance."

    "Of course, safe journeys." Kathryn internally winced at the comment and braced herself for the retort.

    The Tellarite had already walked back toward the shuttle. "Yeah, yeah."

    Anthi and Kathryn waited for the shuttle door to close before walking out of the shuttlebay. Anthi turned to Kathryn and said, "I think he likes you."

    Kathryn shrugged then tapped her combadge. "I'm busy. Captain to Senior Staff, meet in my ready-room in ten minutes."

    "Thank you for not making me run again."

    "Although this is important, I'm not running over my crew to get started."

    +++

    Please enter passcode.

    Kathryn looked from the PADD and entered the alpha-numeric code onto the wall MCD in her office. The screen darkened and was blank. Kathryn expected it per the instructions from the PADD, but it was still atypical. She turned to her Senior Staff.

    "So, that's it?" Thel's hands was open.

    "That's all I know. Being one of the few Excelsior-class ships left in the fleet, Solaris was chosen to test the first drop-off point out there for the new Gateway using our own T-Drive."

    Omazei spoke up next, "where is there?"

    Kathryn shook her head. "It's classified to me, but Admiral Quinn did say it would be a safe spot within Janeway's Road. Once we get there, we will know more, yet I presume we'll follow SOP. Quinn also ordered us to do a little exploring while we're out there."

    The staff all smiled at that comment, which made Kathryn smile as well.

    "I know, exploring before fighting. It's going to be a little exciting around here."
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,946 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    Okay, time for my entry in the Great Kazon Bake-Off. :D
    Aen’rhien Vailiuri

    In the blackness of space, there was nothing.

    And yet there was something. There was a pocket of nothing that moved in the nothing at speeds greater than what little light there was.

    Within this pocket sailed a thousand-meter double-hulled warship, almost as wide as it was long, with a beaked prow like some enormous predatory bird over eighty stories tall, majestically silent in the nothing and appearing as nothing to any observer. On the side of the great beak, painted in stylized High Rihan script five stories tall, unlit by floodlights with the giant vessel cloaked, were two words: ch’M’R Aen’rhien.

    To the solitary human aboard, the great words meant RRW Bloodwing. At the moment Lieutenant Commander Jaleh Khoroushi, Federation Starfleet, was the el’saehne khlu’enh, the officer of the watch in her native service’s parlance. Her official title was elsaenen ch’temivhen, operations officer. Six months ago the Iranian-born logistics officer had been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As part of the Federation’s alliance with the Romulan Republic, she would take part in an unprecedented exchange program wherein she would serve aboard a warbird as a department head, tightening the ties between the Federation and the newly recognized Romulan splinter state. Jaleh was a natural choice for the assignment: She’d minored in Romulan Studies during OCS and spoke the language fluently, and her name was known to some of the Republic crews from Starfleet humanitarian work over a decade earlier. People back home sometimes joked she must be part-Romulan herself.

    Of course, the job had its downsides. There weren’t any other humans on the ship and sometimes she missed the company. And very occasionally it meant assignments like this one, which everybody aboard agreed made no military sense. As Khre’Riov t’Thavrau had so eloquently put it at dinner after receiving the orders, “the Khre’dhhokh Mol’Rihan needs to focus on its own people for a while, not foreign adventurism, and certainly not on the other damned side of the galaxy.” But the Proconsul was determined that the Republic should get its name out there and build some outposts in the Delta Quadrant, even if all they could realistically spare for the op was two warbirds sent in opposite directions. (D’Tan had wanted five, minimum, but Khre’Enriov tr’Kererek and the Central Command had fought it down to two.)

    It was the middle of the “night” shift and the bridge was quiet as the retrofitted Dominion War-era D’deridex-class vessel, stolen from the Imperial shipyards in the Dimorus system, approached a binary star system detected from the Jenolan Dyson sphere. The Undine had been mysteriously quiet for weeks now, so with some reservations tr’Kererek had finally given the mission the green light. That was nine days ago.

    An uhlan passed by with a tray of tea and Jaleh retrieved a mug of the steaming, highly caffeinated Rihan brew. Funny how roughly every single culture and species in the entire galaxy had at least one version of a hot beverage with stimulant properties. The tea was bitter by itself but Captain t’Thavrau’s blend was flavored with khellid honey and spices, a practice she had picked up on her adopted homeworld of Virinat. “Khnai’ru rhissiuy,” she thanked the uhlan, who continued on her rounds without a word.

    The turbolift door quietly whined open to her left and a slim green-eyed Rihanha with a dark red-brown ponytail stepped out and snagged a cup of tea off the passing tray. Arrain Sahuel i’Tlhira t’Khnialmnae, the warbird’s tactical officer, yawned and sipped her tea, grimacing. “I don’t get what Morgan sees in this stuff, I really don’t.”

    “I think it reminds her of home, t’Khnialmnae.”

    “It’s too sweet.”

    “You could always, I don’t know, order it yourself,” Jaleh suggested, flicking a thumb at the replicator set into the back wall of the bridge.

    “Rekkhai, as bad as this is, replicated just tastes fake,” the tactical officer answered, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her face.

    “Well, you’re going to have to get used to it eventually. At the rate we go through the stuff the tea plants in the greenhouse won’t last the length of the trip.”

    “Enarrain Khoroushi,” the helmsman interrupted, “we will be arriving in two minutes.”

    “All right.” She pressed the intercom. “Attention, this is Enarrain Khoroushi. El’arahtih tr’Yalu, please report to the bridge.”

    The turbolift door slid open again. “I was already on my way, Jaleh.” Braeg ir’Nequencia tr’Yalu, head of sciences, stood a little taller than Jaleh, with Asian-looking features and more Rihan-typical jet-black hair. Auburn hair like t’Khnialmnae’s was even rarer for Rihannsu than it was in humans, and blondes like the helmsman were practically unheard-of. “Siurrhan’saehne,” he addressed the sensor officer, “begin initial scans.”

    The viewscreen flicked to a layout of the star system. Not exactly an inviting place, even to Jaleh’s limited understanding of astronomy. One red giant, and … “Braeg, is that a pulsar?”

    The Rihanha nodded. “Clear as day. Classic accretion-powered pulsar with a severe axial tilt. Orientation explains why the astronomers at the Dyson sphere didn’t spot it.” He shook his head. “We will find nothing intelligent in this system.”

    “Nothing that’s supposed to be there, anyway,” Jaleh agreed. “Helm, bring us out near that rocky planet five AUs from the primary. We’ll do a cursory scan for mineral content and on the off chance there’s anything interesting, but I don’t think we need to wake the leih or Riov tr’Sauringar.” She shook her head and ruefully muttered to herself in Farsi, “Another day in the great history of the Bloodwing

    She took a seat at her console and t’Khnialmnae sat next to her. “Rekkhai, would you mind a personal question?” the Rihanha asked as she programmed in a diagnostic routine. The warbird’s engines rumbled as the ship dropped out of warp. Jaleh shook her head. “Do you have children?”

    “Sort of. I was the second of five. My brother Ehsan and I were backup parents. Why?”

    “Because my sister’s having a baby and—”

    A ping from one of the computers interrupted. “El’saehne khlu’enh,” the communications officer, Erein Vanlhir t’Siedhri, addressed Jaleh, “broadwave subspace message coming in in the clear, audio only.”

    “Let’s hear it.”

    The audio was broken up by a frequent static crackle. She managed to make out, “…axian merchant vessel … under attack by K…questing aid! Mayday…”

    Now Jaleh recognized the static. Interference from enemy weapons fire. “Lanat bar sheyan, that’s a distress signal.” She reached overhead for the intercom and bellowed in Rihan, “All hands to battle stations!”

    “Khhae’saehne,” Sahuel ordered as klaxons began to wail, “isolate the source location and patch it to the helm!”

    The intercom crackled and a soprano voice stated in lightly accented English, “t’Thavrau to bridge. Talk to me, Commander Khoroushi.”

    “We’ve detected a distress signal from a civilian starship located—Sahuel! Where are they?”

    “Looks like one system over, three-point-four light-years deeper into the nebula!” Jaleh repeated this to her commanding officer.

    “Commander, you are to respond with all available speed. I will join you as soon as I’m dressed. Have a cup of tea waiting.”

    “Ie, rekkhai! Gonaiih, set course!” She hit the intercom again. “Bridge to Engineering! Veril, I need maximum warp power immediately!”

    In the nothing, a pocket of nothing moved onto a new heading and accelerated.


    “Saxis, we can’t stay here forever.” The Axiana was safely hidden for the moment in the rings of a large gas giant. They’d managed to lose the Kazon raiding party with a dangerous low-altitude pass through the atmosphere of a Class L moon and were now lying powered down among ice and rock chunks, from specks of sand on up to floating boulders the size of a house. They’d been there for four hours.

    “We don’t have to, Baz,” Saxis answered. “We just have to wait for the Kazon-Tarrik to get bored and leave.” He looked hopefully across the scanboard, then grumbled, “Rrrgh, bloody hairballs don’t know when to give up.”

    “They’re getting closer, Captain.”

    “Don’t you think I know that!?” he yelled back. “Damn it, what in the name of the Great Forest is in that crate?”

    “Hey, wait a moment,” Sil’Ta Dror, the ship’s Haakonian scan tech, interjected. “Did you see that?”

    “See what, Sil’Ta?”

    “I don’t know. Some sort of flicker on the subspace scanners. It’s gone now.”

    “Where was it?” Bazor, the Hirogen mercenary that Saxis had hired a few months back as muscle, looked over the scanboard as Sil’Ta swung the view around. The screen went staticky from a nearby detonation. “Kazon are still getting closer, Captain!”

    “Maybe you’d prefer to be back in that thill-dung bar I dragged you out of on Daxus II.”

    “Well at least I wouldn’t be facing a dishonorable death by the hand of unworthy prey—”

    “Hey, there it is again,” Sil’Ta interrupted. “It’s on the other side of the Kaz—and now it’s gone again.”

    “What are you seeing?” the Hirogen demanded.

    “Look, here’s the playback.”

    “Where?”

    “There!” The Haakonian pointed at what a less-trained eye would’ve considered a glitch in the screen, which Sil’Ta supposed was still possible now that he thought about it.

    “What is that?” Saxis asked.

    “I don’t know!” the Haakonian yelled in frustration. “Okay?” There was another detonation. “Captain, if they get any closer they’ll pick us up just on passive infrared!”

    The Talaxian grumbled something unintelligible and scratched his head, then pushed a button on the console in front of him. “Vanka!” he barked to the young female Rilnar in the engine room. “I got another idea. You think we can handle a deep dive into that gas giant?”

    “How deep?”

    “Deeper than the Kazon, hopefully.”

    “Yeah, gonna have to go with ‘no’ on that one. Those old Trabe ships have pretty good cross-bracing. They can probably go deeper than we can.”

    “All right, get ready to—”

    “Captain,” Sil’Ta interrupted, “we’re being hailed. It’s that guy Maje Tillih again.”

    “Broadwave?”

    “No, tightbeam. They found us.”

    “Power up! Run for it!”

    Then for the third time in five minutes, the Haakonian saw something on his monitor. Only this time it wasn’t a small fluctuation. The disturbance was huge, over a kilometer across, as if space itself was ripping and tearing, and out of the purest nothing, something was forming.

    And then that something opened fire and all hell broke loose.


    “Arrain,” a slim, weatherbeaten-looking Rihanha with long ebon tresses with a couple patches of silver at the temples, calmly addressed Sahuel t’Khnialmnae from the chair at the center of the Aen’rhien’s bridge. “Target the lead Kazon vessel. Commence attack.”

    “Deactivating cloak!” the younger redheaded Rihanha confirmed. “Firing forward battery!” As reality itself was tortured by the fall of the giant warbird’s fading cloak, triple eye-searing streams of confined plasma snapped out into space at relativistic speeds from the mounts on the vessel’s nose and the leading edge of the upper hull. The plasma bolts raced across the 150 kilometers separating the Aen’rhien from its target and slammed into the broadside of the older and much smaller Kazon raiding ship, not even as large as one of the warbird’s own warp nacelles, blasting straight through and continuing on into the distance.

    “Allāhu akbar,” Jaleh murmured, squirming in her seat as the Kazon vessel disintegrated, its death coming as suddenly as the strike of a cobra. One of the hardest things to get used to about serving with Rihannsu? A Federation starship was supposed to try to defuse a situation without first resorting to violence. But Rihan tactical and strategic doctrines revolved around the surprise attack, had for centuries, and Khre’Riov t’Thavrau was old-school.

    That meant she shot to kill. Every time.

    “Imirrhlhhsenen nnea ri’nanovai didn’t even have his shields up!” Sahuel crowed.

    “Language,” the older Rihanha chided her subordinate, then ordered, “Helm, take us straight past! T’Khnialmnae, target the Predator-class—it’s the only ship in that formation that represents a threat! Fire as she bears!”

    Pale blue weapons fire spat from the side of the teardrop-shaped vessel, longer than the Aen’rhien but not as wide, as the warbird screamed past. The phaser fire splashed harmlessly across the warbird’s shields; those on the bridge felt nothing. Return fire blew glowing craters in the side of the bronze-colored ship. “Damage report?” t’Thavrau asked.

    “None. Starboard shields holding at 97 percent,” Jaleh answered. “That was rather pathetic, actually. Their weapons are about as good as what we were using a hundred years ago. Shields are even worse.”

    “Target his forward weapons array,” Riov Sarsachen tr’Sauringar, the executive officer, ordered. “Fire aft battery, then cloak and bring us around for another pass.”


    “What in the Great Forest was that thing?!” Saxis yelled.

    “I’ve got no clue!” Sil’Ta yelled right back. “I’ve never heard of a ship of that configuration before, never mind one that can turn invisible!”

    “They fight well,” Bazor remarked, cracking his knuckles. “Worthy prey at last.”

    Sil’Ta looked at the Hirogen incredulously. “They’re on our side, you idiot.”

    “Damn.” Baz looked crestfallen.

    “I think,” Sil’Ta amended, and the big guy started looking a little more hopeful.

    “They vanished again.”

    “Hey, listen to this,” Saxis said, hitting a key. “Tillih’s going thill-dung!”

    The broadcast came through. “Where’d they go? Where’d they go? Who was that?” There was a pause. “This is Third Maje Tillih, calling for additional vessels!”

    “Oh, wonderful.”

    Then the console pinged. Incoming hail. “Merchant vessel Axiana, this is Optrican Assemblage Vessel Watchkeeper. We have received your signal and are eleven minutes out.”

    Saxis grabbed the microphone. “OAV Watchkeeper, this is Axiana. Somebody beat you to the party, no idea who. Appeared out of nowhere and blew a Kazon raider to bits in one shot, then smashed up a Predator-class and vanished again. I’m sending you a screengrab. You recognize these guys?”

    There was a pause. “I’ve never seen anything like it. They hostile?”

    “To the Kazon, yeah, but they don’t seem interested in us. Oh, by the way, we just overheard the Kazon calling for reinforcements.”

    “Captain,” Sil’Ta interrupted, “that disturbance is back!”


    “T’Khnialmnae, target their engines with the forward battery. Other weapons, targets of opportunity. Commence attack pattern Valdore Three.”

    “Decloaking! Firing main battery!” Again reality was tortured. Again, triple streams of green lanced out into space from the warbird’s bow and wings. This time the Kazon vessel had had the forethought to boost power to their shields, blunting the assault, but the plasma blasts still tore deep into the heart of the teardrop-shaped vessel. A secondary explosion tore a hole out the port side, shattering the nacelle. The D’deridex-class vessel’s secondary arrays went into rapid fire, swatting down a pair of fighters that managed to launch from the vessel and smashing the hangar bay; a fireball belched out from inside.

    “We’ve got one trying to get on our tail!” the sensor officer announced.

    Morgan barked, “Aft torpedoes! Fire!” Glowing green plasma torpedoes belched from the tail of the warbird; the Kazon raider firing at their engines quickly broke off and went evasive.

    “Long-range sensors detecting several more ships entering the system! One from vector three-zero-three by one-two, unknown configuration, nine minutes out! Six from vector nine-two by three-five-four, definite Kazon or Trabe, thirty minutes out!”

    “Helm, t’Haramliu Turn! One more pass on that Predator-class with the forward battery!”

    The warbird pitched hard up, twisting to port as it did so to present a marginally smaller target. No sense taking unnecessary risks. The nose passed ninety degrees and into what had been upside-down from where they were, and the enemy entered the forward firing arc. “Firing, main battery!” t’Khnialmnae announced, and again streams of plasma lanced out at the enemy. They cut through the damaged forward shields with ease and ripped deep inside. Secondary explosions rocked the vessel, laying huge rents in the outer hull that belched debris, atmosphere, and bodies. Escape pods began to pop off the vessel’s flanks as more explosions shook the ship. Then the impulse drive failed, main power went out, and its orbit began to decay. The hulk would eventually spiral down into the gas giant or one of its moons, or be torn apart in the rings.

    “They’re rabbiting, Captain!” Commander Khoroushi said of the remaining five raiders.

    “Let them. See to the survivors. Lock transporters and bring them aboard, and see to it any weapons are lost in transit.” She signaled for a refill of her tea and pressed the intercom key. “Leih to tr’Khev, we have some unexpected guests about to come aboard. Have your troops ready to escort them to the brig, and be prepared to set up a temporary holding pen in one of the spare cargo bays.” She released the key without waiting for a reply. “Get me a full readout of that ship they were attacking.”

    “Looks like a freighter, ID transliterating to Axiana,” Jaleh said, reading off her console. “Basic navigational weapons, phaser-equivalent. Decent shields, though, Federation military-grade a few generations ago. But their engines are pretty shot up—I don’t think they can go much faster than warp 3 right now.”

    “Hail them.” T’Siedhri hand-signaled her. “Merchant vessel Axiana, this is the Republic Warbird Bloodwing, responding to your distress signal. Do you require further assistance?”

    There was a pause and then a trio of humanoids on a dim, somewhat ramshackle bridge appeared on the viewscreen. At the center, a dark-skinned Talaxian. Morgan tensed upon seeing a Hirogen in the background but the presence of a Haakonian confused her. Based on Voyager’s records the Haakonians were conquistadors, the local equivalent of the pre-revolution Cardassians, and had taken over Talax and glassed its moon Rinax. A Talaxian working with a Haakonian seemed strange at best. “Uh, Republic Warbird Bloodwing,” the Talaxian said uncertainly, “we’re safe for the moment but we could use some re…pairs… I’m sorry, who are you? I’ve never heard the term ‘Republic Warbird’.” He turned and whispered something over his shoulder to the Haakonian, who nodded and walked out of the frame.

    Morgan’s XO stepped into the picture, leaning his arm on the back of her chair. Sarsachen i’Amriel tr’Sauringar was tall, stout and powerfully built, ruddy-skinned and blue-eyed, with boyish good looks marred by a scar on his face from an honor duel he’d fought against another Republic officer who had taken exception to the former’s fifteen years in Starfleet. He came off needing stitches, the other guy spent a week in the hospital. “We are Rihannsu, most of us, anyway,” he explained. “We’re on an exploration mission and represent the Republic of ch’Mol’Rihan.”

    “Nice to meet you, Mister Rihannsu. I’m Saxis, that’s Bazor, and the other guy was Sil’Ta.”

    Morgan nodded. “I am Khre’Riov Morgaiah ir’Sheratan t’Thavrau, commander of this vessel. We detected your distress signal and responded in accordance with mnhei’sahe and international law.”

    “In accordance with what

    Khoroushi broke into the conversation. “Where we come from, international agreements require ships to answer any distress signals from groups we are not currently at war with.”

    “It’s the same over here. I was talking about the ‘naysay’ thing.”

    “‘Mnhei’sahe’,” Morgan corrected him, pronouncing it carefully. “It is difficult to explain to non-Rihannsu, but it is the single most important code of social conduct in our culture—”

    “Rekkhai!” t’Siedhri interrupted. Morgan turned her head and glared at him, annoyed. “Forgive the interruption but the Axiana is in contact with another party!”

    “Explain yourselves,” Morgan commanded, calmly but forcefully.

    The Haakonian stuck his head back into the frame, leaning backwards for the camera to catch him. “Yeah, sorry about that. I was apprising the Optricans that you didn’t seem to be hostile. They should be here any minute.”

    “Rekkhai,” Khoroushi added, “unknown vessel coming out of warp, three hundred klicks off our port bow.”

    “Tactical analysis, please.”

    T’Khnialmnae answered, “Looks like a patrol vessel, unknown configuration. Approximately 150 meters long and 180 meters wide. Very powerful impulse drive, six fixed-position weapons emplacements comparable to the spinal mount of a Jem’Hadar attack ship, four omnidirectional turrets covering the after arc. Secondary and tertiary shields, overall strength comparable to an early Ambassador-class Federation starship.”

    “That’s a lot of juice. How in the hell are they powering that thing?” Khoroushi wondered.

    “These emissions signatures are consistent with a polaric ion power source,” tr’Yalu replied.

    “We’re being hailed, rekkhai.” Morgan acknowledged t’Siedhri and ordered him to put the other ship up on split-screen.

    The other captain had a body configuration Morgan had never even heard of. He resembled a picture of a Terrhain centaur she had seen once, except he had six legs and was bright purple. “Khre’Riov t’Thavrau—I hope I am pronouncing that right—I am Senior Captain Shalbar of the Optrican Assemblage, requesting you to stand down.”

    “Negative. I don’t know you, therefore I cannot automatically trust you.”

    “It’s all right, Miss Rihannsu,” the Talaxian said. “The Optricans are good folk.”

    “Khre’Riov, I am not interested in fighting you. Clearly we have a mutual enemy in the Kazon-Tarrik, and while their vessels are little match for our warships they are threatening civilian shipping. This independent trader was fortunate. Usually nobody arrives in time to do anything but collect the bodies. We suspect they have a supply base in a nearby system but we don’t know where.”

    Morgan nodded. “We took some of them alive. I may be able to acquire that information for you.”


    Tovan ir’Hfihar tr’Khev, the Aen’rhien’s chief of security, greeted them by the cargo bay door. “I took the liberty of putting the guy in charge in the cargo bay manager’s office. Somebody named Third Maje Jal Tillih.”

    “Very well, I’ll handle this,” t’Thavrau said. “Make sure the interrogation is audible and visible to the others.”

    “Rekkhai, are you sure that’s a good idea?” tr’Sauringar asked. He read off a datapad. “‘Strongly patriarchal culture’, ‘women are second-class citizens’, et cetera. I think your presence will just insult him.”

    Khoroushi snorted. “Sounds like my homeland four hundred years ago.”

    “Well, I guess we’ll just have to hope that his sense of self-preservation overrides his chauvinism.”

    The four of them stepped into the cargo bay, where a dozen heavily armed Rihannsu and Havrannsu in riot gear stood watch over about fifty Kazon sitting cross-legged on the floor. They looked even more ridiculous in person than they had in the briefing materials. “Is that all of them, tr’Khev?”

    “No, we’ve got sixty-two hot-bunked in the brig and about two hundred more in Bays Four and Six. I hope these ‘Optricans’ you mentioned have a transport handy; otherwise we’ll have to haul them off ourselves.”

    Tr’Sauringar shook his head. “No, we’re playing prison barge for a little while. The ship they brought’s about the size of a Federation Defiant-class.”

    “Fvadt,” tr’Khev cursed.

    Morgan approached the quartermaster’s office. It was unused at the moment, since Cargo Bay Seven hadn’t needed to be stocked for this mission, and tr’Khev had put a folding table and two chairs in the empty room. A particularly hairy Kazon in a drab green vest with fur trim sat handcuffed in one of the chairs, staring at her in what looked like a combination of abject surprise and utter disgust. “They sent a woman

    “I sent myself. I am Khre’Riov Morgaiah t’Thavrau, commander of this vessel.”

    He made a dismissive grunt. “You lie like a fur rug.”

    “Do I look like I make a business of lying, you mogai-faced buffoon?”

    The Kazon launched into a rant of which her universal translator only bothered to translate about every third or fourth word, although the gist was pretty clear. While she waited for him to finish she idly wondered if the length of their hair and the strength of their stench had some correlation to their societal rank.

    He was at the point of a description of the various ingredients of which she was supposedly composed, none of them hygienic and some she wasn’t sure actually existed, before she lost patience. “Are you finished?” Morgan interrupted in a disinterested tone, inspecting her fingernails. “Let me tell you how this is going to work. Your race has met people from my side of the galaxy once before. But they represented the Federation. I do not. I am Rihannsu. You will tell me the location of your base and the rest of your ships”—she suddenly looked him straight in the eye—“or I will take it from you.”

    The Kazon began to tremble slightly. Briefly Morgan thought she was having an effect, but then quiet laughter started to echo through the room. She was decidedly nonplussed at this development. “Ha ha ha! Ha-hahaha! Yet another woman far too small for the role she claims!” Suddenly he stopped laughing and spat on the table. “You dishonor your ship by claiming a position that isn’t yours by right—”

    Morgan shot to her feet and before Tillih could do anything more than jerk backwards in startlement she had thrown the table aside. As it hit the wall with a crash her left arm shot across the gap and grabbed hold of the Kazon’s neck, wiry muscles bunching as the furious Rihanha lifted the larger humanoid clear off the floor. “You dishonor yourself,” she icily told Tillih. “You prey on the weak and the innocent. You kill for glory like the worst kind of Khe’lloann’na. And now you dare to insult my honor?” The Kazon grunted something inaudible. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear that.”

    “Die … in a fire.”


    Through the window Jaleh saw t’Thavrau’s hand twitch. The human gasped and flinched away and heard a wet crunch through the speakers, louder than it actually was. She looked back as the commander dropped the maje to the floor, where he landed in a motionless heap. “Tr’Khev!” she barked. “Dispose of him and bring in the second-in-command.”

    The second Kazon practically fell over himself in his rush to tell where the rest of the fleet was. T’Thavrau told tr’Khev to hand the prisoners off to the Optricans when possible, then strode briskly out the door.

    Jaleh followed her. “Captain, what in God’s name was that for?”

    “What was what for, Khoroushi?”

    “What do you mean, ‘What was what for’? He was an unarmed prisoner!”

    Without breaking stride, t’Thavrau matter-of-factly responded, “He was guilty of piracy and attempted murder, and likely murder as well considering the honorific ‘jal’. As an officer of the Galae s’Kreh’dhhokh Mol’Rihan I am authorized to deal with pirates as I like. Moreover he insulted my mnhei’sahe and my ability to command. One or the other, I would have let past.”

    “You murdered him!”

    “I executed him.”

    “Kire asbe abi too koonet!” Jaleh snapped at her in Farsi.

    The commander rounded on her and shot back in Rihan, “Urru Areinnye!” Her hands twitched again but she took a deep breath, visibly forcing them to remain still. “Are you finished, Enarrain

    “Yeah, I’m finished,” she answered, grudgingly.

    “Good. I’ll take the next watch.” She stepped into the turbolift and requested the bridge.

    Tovan came up behind Jaleh. “Technically she’s right.”

    “Tr’Khev, I may be elsaenen ch’temivhen on this ship but I’m still a Starfleet officer.”

    “And I’m a cop, by training anyway. I don’t always like what Morgan does, either. When she’s acting as leih she’s a completely different person than the woman I knew on Virinat for ten years. But I could tell you easy that maje was never going to break, and the penalty for piracy under just about everybody except the Federation is death anyway.”

    “Rekkhai, I’m not allowed to be judge, jury, and executioner. It violates Federation law and it’s immoral.”

    “This isn’t a Federation ship and Morgan isn’t Lloannen’galae, or Terrhaha for that matter. And you didn’t kill him—she did.”

    “I know that!” She spun away and started studying the wall. Finally she said, “I love serving with the Republic. I get to actually use those Romulan Studies courses and I learn more every day. I’m even putting out feelers with the Diplomatic Corps to see if they’d be interested in having me whenever I get out. But every once in a while she does something that I can’t possibly ever agree with and it just hits me that she still thinks of me as a guest, not a full member of her crew.”

    “That’s not true.”

    “Isn’t it?” She turned around and waved a hand. “She actually listens to tr’Sauringar and he’s been in Starfleet almost as long as I have!”

    “Okay, point, and I even think I know why. Sarsachen’s Rihannsu, born and bred, and Morgan grew up pre-Shinzon, before the Havrannsu started pushing for equal rights and we all lost everything. I mean, look at you. I’ve studied Terrha’s history a little bit. How long did it take before those last holdouts in your part of the world stopped treating women like property?” She grunted noncommittally. “See?”

    “So, what, she doesn’t trust me because my ears aren’t pointy?”

    “I wouldn’t go that far, but she’s not going to go out of her way to court your affection because she doesn’t think it’s worth her effort to try and convince you. And ultimately she’s leih of this warbird and she’s going to run it the way she wants. If you want to change her, you’re going to have to work at it.” He reached out and touched her shoulder, hesitantly at first. “You want a drink? I could use a drink.”

    “Ie, rekkhai,” she said out of habit.

    “Call me Tovan. She doesn’t do it anymore and I kinda miss it.”

    “All right, Tovan it is. Ale?”

    “Better. I’ve got the last three bottles of the ’04 from Morgan’s winery on Virinat.” The tanned Rihanha grinned. “When we went back last year we managed to find some crates in her cellar that the khellids didn’t break.”

    Jaleh laughed. “So your crazy ex-girlfriend actually did some good?” Tovan looked slightly crestfallen. “Sorry.”

    He grunted. “It’s all right. Come on, it’s in my office.”

    Around them the warbird, largely oblivious to the turmoil inside it, thrummed with power as it tractored the Axiana and followed the Watchkeeper into warp.


    Author’s Notes: Yeah, I couldn’t resist getting in on the ground floor of the Kazon killing spree. :D

    I sort of envisioned the Axiana as the Delta Quadrant equivalent of Serenity. Old, underpowered, crewed by a ragtag bunch of bickering misfits, but loved.

    I’ve also decided to go with a bit of Idiosyncratic Episode Naming for short stories featuring Morgan’s crew. Starting now, all the titles are in Rihan.

    What Morgan calls a “t’Haramliu Turn” is the Romulan equivalent of an Immelmann.
    "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/
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 9,359 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    The advanced escort USS Pournelle sped through the void, bound for the gateway to the Solonae Sphere on a mission to survey the Delta Quadrant. Its decks bustled with people of various species, mostly humanoid, preparing for the unknown.

    Deep within the bowels of the Engineering computer systems, a trojan quietly set to work. It wasn't truly intelligent, nor self-aware, but had it been, it might have felt a moment of pride as it expertly sliced into the control circuitry for the warp core and altered certain parameters...

    "Admiral!" the helmsman called out. "We're experiencing a fluctuation in the warp drive!"

    Admiral Sajak pressed the comm stud. "Sajak to Engineering. What is your situation?"

    "I don't know, sir! A runaway reaction just started - antimatter injectors are jammed full open!"

    "Power down the warp drive. Mr. Emerson, please prepare for sublight."

    "No good, sir - it won't shut down!"

    "Eject the warp core."

    Swearing came over the intercom. "Ejection systems aren't responding! And the manual systems are jammed!"

    Decisively, the Vulcan admiral pressed another stud. "All hands, this is Admiral Sajak. Abandon sh--"

    A new star bloomed briefly in the darkness, then faded. Aboard the cloaked vessel that had been following, a Human nodded to himself. "One more down. Only a few left." He looked tenderly at the hologram on the control console. "Soon you will be avenged."

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

    Grunt's personal log, June 23, 2410

    Just ferried some supplies and personnel to Starbase 104. Taking a little shore leave now - the Ferenginar has state-of-the-art equipment, but sometimes the holodeck just isn't enough, you know? I practically had to hit Rock over the head - he doesn't like leave, says it's "not the warrior's way". Kept telling him he's a scientist, Shelana's our warrior, but I don't think he's convinced. He's probably shopping for a new d'k tag or something right now. Oh well, as long as he's not at work for a little while...

    "Admiral! Admiral Grunt, sir!"

    Grunt had been heading for a nearby restaurant - he'd heard they had fresh gree-worms, and he was getting hungry - but turned at the shout. A brown-haired, tanned Human in a well-tailored civilian outfit was pushing toward him through the crowd. As the man made his way to Grunt's side, he continued, "Admiral, sir, we need to speak privately. There's some information you need to - GET DOWN!" The Human jumped on Grunt, shoving his smaller Ferengi frame to the floor, and triggered a personal force field around the two of them. An energy beam snapped against the shield. The Human got to his knees, pulling out an odd-looking pistol and sighting on a nearby floating device. The weapon bucked and roared, and the device exploded, showering the cringing crowd with sparks and bits of metal.

    The Human got to his feet, and reached down to help Grunt up. "Sorry about that, sir. Special Agent Weatherly, SCIS. I came to warn you about assassination attempts. Looks like i was almost too late."

    "SCIS?"

    "Starfleet Criminal Investigative Service, sir." Weatherly held up one hand, and a small holoemitter flashed up a hologram of his SCIS ID card. "You heard about what happened to the Pournelle last week?"

    "Yes, and I was very sorry to hear about it. I liked Sajak. He pulled my lobes out of the fire a couple of times."

    "It was no accident, sir. Dr. Perrette, one of our top forensicists, completed a study of the remains of the warp core, and-" Weatherly looked around. "I'd really prefer to continue this somewhere else, sir. Somewhere less... public."

    "I know just the place." The Ferengi tapped his commbadge. "Grunt to Ferenginar. Two to transport directly to my ready room."

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

    Captain's Ready Room, USS Ferenginar NCC-94204

    Weatherly, Shelana, Roclak, Zoex, and Grunt sat around the desk, where Weatherly placed a holoprojector. He pressed a stud on the side, and a head appeared over the desk, an older Human with a MACO haircut. An identifier under the head read, "HARMON, SPECIAL AGENT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR SCIS". He opened his mouth to speak, when the image abruptly dissolved into static, then reformed into another Human, this one with close-cropped blond hair and a scar running down one side of his face.

    "Drake," Shelana hissed.

    "Good morning, Commander Weatherly," Drake began. "My apologies for hijacking this recording, but Mark's conclusions, while accurate so far as they go, are based on incomplete information, and I owe the Admiral a favor or two."

    "'Or two,' he says," Grunt said, rolling his eyes.

    "Do you know this man, sir?" Weatherly asked.

    "His name's Franklin Drake. He's with Section 31, and if you've never had to deal with him or his people, I envy you."

    The recording had paused, as though Drake knew there would be conversation at this point. Now it restarted. "For example, impressive as Mark's intelligence apparatus is, he was unaware of the nearly identical incident aboard the IKS Ch'Bug, which was in orbit around Qo'noS when its reactor lost containment. Fortunately, General Malthit and most of his crew were on leave at the time, as the Ch'Bug was due for maintenance and upgrades to her systems. Also, Admiral tr'Keiniadh of the Romulan Republic reported to his superiors last week that he intercepted a software package that had been inserted into his ship, RRW Emerald Soul. It would have had the rather unfortunate effect of disrupting the quantum singularity in the engine core, destroying the engineering section and flooding the rest of the ship with Hawking radiation." The recording paused again.

    "Pournelle... Ch'Bug... Emerald Soul..." Shelana breathed. "I smell a pattern, sir."

    The recording resumed. "I presume someone there has noticed something about those names. The Emerald Soul was the ship you interacted with to defuse the conflict with the Sheliak Corporate earlier this year. You've had a number of dealings with the Pournelle over the years, notably when you joined her battle group during the Undine assault on Earth Spacedock. And the Ch'Bug guarded your flank during the Battle of Qo'noS. This is not a coincidence. Donald Witzick, one of our top men, had family aboard ESD when it was destroyed. He never was all that stable - we have to have somewhat looser strictures regarding mental health than Starfleet, for obvious reasons - and this drove him all the way into full-blown paranoid delusion. He's come to the conclusion that anyone who survived that battle was either Undine, an Undine sympathizer, or an Iconian puppet - and since you, Admiral, have survived so many encounters with the Iconians and their associates, he seems to have concluded that you are in fact their leader. He wants to destroy everyone who he thinks threatens the security of the Federation, especially yourself and Admiral Quinn, and while we have taken his access to our files and materials, it's only reasonable, especially given the highly technical nature of his attacks so far, to presume that he has managed to take some data with him. We already have several layers of security around Quinn, of course, but there's only so much we can do for you out there. I sincerely hope that this warning is sufficient to enable you to protect yourself, Grunt - despite everything, I find that I genuinely like you. Good luck." The recording dissolved into static again.

    "Well, that's, ah, more or less what I was coming to tell you, Admiral," Weatherly said, grinning sheepishly, "although with considerably less detail, of course. Dr. Perrette found traces of malware in what remained of the Pournelle's computer core - not enough to figure out the 'fingerprint', the distinctive style of the attacker, but enough to know it was deliberate."

    "Wonderful," Grunt said, leaning back. "So we've got a madman with Section 31 skills and equipment, a top-notch hacker, gunning for us because he think's we're Undine or Iconians or something. No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose."

    Roclak growled. "And what are we supposed to do to counter this? If he has Thirty-One's files on the Ferenginar, he knows more about this ship than we do. How can that be stopped?"

    "Worse," Shelana said. "He has our psych profiles, too. Between that and the ship files, in combat he'll know what we're going to do. We'll be - predictable." She spat the word out like a curse - and to an Andorian, it probably was.

    Lt. Zoex looked up. "So, we're basically in deep, deep frinx here."

    "Unless someone can come up with more secure countermeasures for our systems than Admiral Sajak, yes, Zoex, that's a pretty fair summation."

    "Well, sir," Zoex said, "all that depends on us following our usual patterns - playing his game. That makes me think of second-year tactics classes--"

    Grunt smacked his forehead. "Of course! Kirk's Dictum! If you don't like the rules--"

    "--change the game!" the younger Ferengi finished.

    Roclak had been watching the two of them, puzzlement growing. "A warrior never runs from a fight," the Klingon rasped. "Is that what you propose?"

    "Not at all, Rock. Running will just make us die tired. But facing him on his battleground would be foolish indeed. We're going to have to find a way to change the game. And I think I know what we need to do. This may be the least pleasant duty I'll ever have to perform, but - well, Rule of Acquisition 261: 'A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience.'" Grunt leaned over his comm console. "Grunt to bridge. Mr. Manalang, please transmit on the following frequency..."

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

    Main Conference Room, two hours later

    "Let me get this straight," Vovonek said. "You want us to work for Drake??"

    "Not for Drake. Profits, no!" Grunt replied. "I just had to call in some favors he owed us. We'd be working for Starfleet Intelligence. Well, to outward appearances, you'd be working for me, but..."

    "There's a difference?"

    "For one thing, Vov, SI is part of Starfleet, and takes the same oaths. We might be asked to do some things that aren't strictly aboveboard, but nothing that violates any treaties or directives, nothing against the Charter or our duties."

    Roclak cleared his throat. "And this is your 'game changer'."

    "It does have the advantage of being unexpected. Officially, Rock and I are being cashiered due to irregularities discovered in the wake of the Battle of Qo'noS, and anyone who comes along resigned their commissions in solidarity and loyalty to us. Really we're being transferred to SI for undercover intel gathering, but that's going to be highly classified. SI's cobbling up records to that effect as we speak; they're just waiting to hear how many of you are coming with me to the new ship. Witzick will think we're hanging out there with no protection from Starfleet. Rule of Acquisition number 129, after all: 'When you have to lie, tell a lie they want to hear.'"

    "And you're buying a cruise liner?"

    "It was a cruise liner once. The registry claims it still is. SI's been setting up a deal like this for a while now, just looking for the right personnel - they actually made the offer to me over a year ago. They've outfitted the ship with state-of-the-art weapons and defensive systems, and a sensor suite that nearly matches the Ferenginar's. Some interesting electronic countermeasures, too. So, who's in?"

    Roclak drew himself up. "I want to go on record as disapproving of this - but a Klingon does not send a friend into danger alone."

    "You'll need me," Vovonek put in. "They got this ship from the Risians, which means environmental systems will adjust to anybody, but I guarantee the drive systems are nowhere near as efficient as they can be."

    "I won't let you go where I can't see you," Shelana said. "Besides, if it turns out this Witzick character's right, and you really are working for the Undine, I'll want to take your head myself."

    "I wouldn't have it any other way," Grunt smiled. "Anyone else?"

    "Areinnye, Grunt," tr'Dalen said, "you know most of us wouldn't fit in anywhere else in the Fleet anyway. Besides, if you want to go practicing skulduggery on the fringes of the Federation, you'll need a Rihanha along to help - you Ferengi aren't underhanded enough. Been associating with the Federation too long, if you ask me."

    Zoex simply nodded.

    "Okay," Manalang said, "as long as everyone else is going - you're sure one massive transfer won't look too suspicious?"

    "Like I said, the official records won't show this as a transfer - it'll show we got fired or quit, and I hired you all to work for Grunt Mercantile, researching new markets. Brel looked Witzick's psych profile over, and says that this is all going to be something he wants to hear. He'll be too pleased at my seeming discharge and separation from safety to look too closely at the deal - which is what Rule 129 is all about. The only ones who'll know the real deal will be our new superiors at Intelligence, Special Agent Harmon's team at SCIS, and Drake himself. He claims he's not even going to tell the rest of Section 31 about this, and for once I actually believe him. Mycroft's cloning off his subroutines, so there's still an AI in Ferenginar's systems - Harmon's computer expert, a fellow named Murray, is working with him on that, and will be with us aboard the new ship as a liason until this Witzick situation is resolved. After that, we'll remain as Starfleet Intelligence agents, and we'll look like a Ferengi-registered trading vessel. I plan on running a few cargoes to make it look good, and to keep my hand in. It's got to look like a clean break, though. Minimal traces for Witzick to find. As long as he knows where we are, he's got the upper hand here - so we need to be hard to locate."

    "What about the Ferenginar's new command crew? Will they know where we've gone? Or why?"

    "That all falls under 'need to know' - and they don't. Good thing I didn't stay here long enough to get too attached."

    "Speak for yourself," Vovonek grumbled. "I just got those impulse drivers humming just right..."

    "You're welcome to stay if you want, Vov. This whole deal is strictly on a volunteer basis."

    "Hey, now, I never said I didn't want to work on a ship with luxury cabins!" Vov said quickly.

    Grunt grinned. "Then it's settled. We're now the command crew of RXS Latinum Princess, registered to Grunt Mercantile out of Ferenginar, all bribes paid in full. Now let's go catch us a nutjob."

    To be continued...
    Lorna-Wing-sig.png
  • catriecatrie Member Posts: 0 Media Corps
    edited September 2014
    Journal of Lieutenant General Riv'na
    I.K.S. Kalten

    A new business opportunity has opened up. The High Council has determined that a select few of us should go to the Delta Quadrant, on a small "scouting" mission. Rumors have spread that the Federation and D'Tans Republic are doing the same. We can't let the others have all the fun now, can we?

    As we really don't want Starfleet to find out about our little excursion,those of us chosen have been given very open ended instructions. Find out what is in Delta Quadrant, see if we can make any new friends, and make some very lucrative trade agreements. Anything else we want to do is solely up to us. The High Council is by no means stupid. What they don't know, they can't acknowledge.

    I would say they've only chosen the best of the best for this little "mission" , but I'd be lying. Each of those chosen were done so because we're liabilities. We know too many embarrassing secrets about those on the High Council. We all know they are using this opportunity to get rid of us. At it's best, it's a highly profitable "diplomatic" scouting mission. At the worst, it's a suicide mission. One that none of us have any intention of dying from.

    So, here we are. While the High Council plays nicey nicey with the other factions, we'll slip in, meet the natives and try to negotiate highly profitable deals. We know the others are planning on doing the same. If not, they're even stupider than we thought. We don't dare underestimate them. While we don't know who is being sent, we know they are sending their own spies with the same objectives. Who knows? We might run across them and have a little fun. I've always liked tweaking the tails of the Federation. It's so much fun seeing them unsettled.

    Well, it's been fun Journal. I'm taking over a new type of ship, specifically for this mission. Don't know too much about it yet, so I'm off to inspect it now. I'll update this when I can. Uuugh.. and I haven't even begun to pack.

    Toodles

    Riv'na out.
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,587 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    The Vor'cha-class IKS B'Cnah trekked through space, listlessly and ever so haphazardly. It was the end of his shift and Captain Menchez was turning a corner on one of the living quarter decks.

    He nodded to Chief engineer Tayana as they passed each other; "Captain," she said.

    "Sir," Bekk Rinn greeted eagerly as he passed and Menchez just radiated an awkward and detached stare.

    ---

    The Captain entered his dark quarters to find an incoming message light blinking on his desktop monitor. He tapped a button to accept it.

    "Menchez! It's your Federation counterpart, that one guy and stuff," Seifer appeared on screen, from the Phoenix-X.

    The Klingon Captain nodded, "If this is about the money you owe me from that time on Nimbus III at Shangdu, then the pay back has doubled!"

    "Why would you double it if I was going to pay it back now? Never mind. This is about something completely different; your life," Seifer started. "It's in danger and not in the way those United States Army Air Corps Generals from the 1940s used to smoke cigars into Ferengi faces."

    Menchez slammed his fist into his table, "I decide when my life is in danger! I was planning for another Fek'lhr battle-- despite the fact you keep telling me that was all a dream."

    "I still maintain that; yes," Seifer nodded, "But this is different. Several key people in direct relation to past Iconian and Undine galactic events have been killed and continue to be killed as of late-- That category includes you, according to a makeshift chart of refrigerator magnets on the wall next to my replicator."

    The Klingon ground his teeth, "You know, you did the same missions. And just because we are allies now does not mean you can attempt to save my life! To a Klingon, that is just rude!"

    He cut the transmission off in anger and took a breath to himself.

    "He's right you know," a Human man emerged from the shadows and extended a phaser at Menchez, "About the murdering and such-- It's not like I've been advertising it though, so, perhaps I should re-think my actions."

    In close range, Menchez grabbed the man's wrist and redirected the phaser fire, blowing the monitor. The weapon was dropped and Menchez pulled out a d'k tahg from his boot with his other hand. He swung it around toward the attacker, "You dare confirm Starfleet's careful examinations of patterned behaviour??"

    But the human blocked Menchez's incoming forearm and force-palmed the Klingon in the face. The man then grabbed a kut'luch off a nearby table and stabbed Menchez through the chest, "The name's Rave, and I didn't go rogue from Section 31 to hear lectures about Starfleet, despite that being one of those subjects I enjoy debating about on subspace message boards."

    Rave stepped back and watched as Menchez fell off his chair, to his knees, and to the floor.

    ---

    After ten seconds, Menchez re-spawned outside in the hallway with full health. He got up and walked passed several officers, Tayana and Bekk Rinn again, before re-entering his quarters.

    "Uh, didn't I just kill you?" Rave questioned upon his entrance. He swung the kut'luch to which Menchez stopped by grabbing Rave's forearm. With his free hand, Menchez punched Rave across the face.

    The Captain quickly triple-punched Rave in the chest, with one final blow knocking the rogue Agent over a nearby table and onto the floor behind it, "I am far too angry about dying to process your Section 31 logic!"

    Rave found the phaser from earlier and fired it into Menchez.

    ---

    Ten seconds later, Menchez re-spawned in the hallway back to full health. Passing Tayana and Bekk Rinn, he re-entered his quarters, but this time stopped in his tracks. "Wait. What is going on here? Why can I remember waking up at some 'checkpoint'?"

    Suddenly, Q flashed in, freezing Rave in mid-run-attack, "That's exactly what I'd like to know!"

    "Obviously, I've been messing with your settings," another Q, named Qu, flashed in.

    Q's jaw dropped, "Qu!?"

    "Huh? There's another Q?" Rave said, confused, still-frozen from the neck down.

    Qu shook his head, "There are more than one Q in this universe. Stop being so close-minded! Anyway, old-faced Q, here," he gestured, "put in place a re-spawn-quantum string for select Captains, everywhere, in order to maintain continuity and reduce player frustration. Normally you wake up and those involved, including you, don't remember the hiccup. Events proceed as normal with no awareness of interrupted flow."

    "That is madness! You're saying reality is just a lie?? Also, when is my actual death??" Menchez blurted.

    Q sighed, "Later, for other reasons. You know, Qu, if you want to make a change here, then, fine. I've got all these Organian devs to deal with right now; their Delta Rising movement is going to be a Delta Spas-ing cesspool if I don't modify certain player perceptions. About this whole death thing, don't say I didn't warn you." With that, Q flashed away.

    "Did anything he say even make sense at all to anyone?" Menchez asked.

    Qu waved him off, "Never mind that. He's right about the death thing, though. When and how you die is when and how you die; not when and how you don't. My problem is lying to you guys. I just can't have that on my conscience; and after my mother-in-law's lecture during my whole Amanda Rogers fan fiction obsession and-- well, I don't want to bore you with all the details," Qu maintained.

    Menchez postulated, "So, I may die here, or elsewhere, but the when and how of that must be correct?"

    "Precisely," Qu answered.

    The Klingon waved it all away, "Whatever! You have issues; that's what I will translate from this. Let us just get on with it. A Klingon's death is not to be trifled with."

    "Yeah," Rave agreed, "I have other Captain's I'm supposed to kill. Ever heard of a Captain Seifer? He left an odd, stubby looking man named Jeremy Jacob's to die out in cold space! Wut up wit dat yo?"

    Qu pointed, "That vernacular is not accepted in this universe!"

    The freeze on Rave was lifted and his run-attack continued. Caught off guard, trying to process Rave's odd words, Menchez was shot down, harder, with the increased momentum.

    ---

    Ten seconds later, Menchez awoke. But before returning, he double-checked his purple Solanae tribble buff, "Ugh. 60 minutes of 1% Critical Hit Chance better come in handy."

    Re-entering his quarters, he forced-palmed Rave's phaser out his hand and then multi-punched Rave in the stomach. Rave grabbed the final punch and redirected Menchez into being impaled by a bat'leth he pulled off the wall, "Why won't you just die already?? This rogue endeavor isn't even my primary mission!"

    ---

    Ten seconds later, Menchez returned. He grabbed a Forcas III trophy off a shelf and clashed it with Rave's bat'leth, "Ugh! How can this not be your main objective? You're killing people?? That's a pretty important goal if I recall my early Klingon targ-stab training??"

    "I left Section 31 to work with another alien group," he pushed Menchez off and kicked the Klingon onto his desk. "Not only do I believe the Federation is madly infiltrated, but I want Section 31 to be stronger than ever before."

    Menchez threw the trophy at Rave, and Rave threw his bat'leth at Menchez. Rave was hit in the head and the Klingon Captain was impaled.

    ---

    Thirty seconds later, Menchez returned. "Dammit! I'm like the worst Klingon to ever exist for some larger literary purpose?? This can't be what happens every time in reality? And what the hell with the thirty seconds??"

    "Oh, if you keep dying within a short period, the time interval increases," Qu explained, just watching it all from the nearby window ledge. "It's to encourage you to get better at life. I'm not sure why Q thought people would respond to that positively."

    Menchez then pointed at Rave, "And you; you betrayed your own people for your selfish, close-minded perspectives! How do you think the Duras sisters died??"

    "A horribly-executed battle with the Enterprise-D from both sides?" Rave got up, rubbing his head, "Besides, I have to work with my associates if I want their cooperation," He then took out a Klingon painstick from a drawer and jammed it into a nearby control panel, "I was sent to retrieve a man named Sayjan, but when I realized the truth behind this treaty, I just had to act on it first."

    The shock from the control panel followed a series of circuits behind the walls until exploding another control panel next to Menchez.

    ---

    Thirty seconds later, Menchez awoke in the corridors. "That petaQ???" He took out his purple Solanae tribble and threw it at Bekk Rinn as he was walking by.

    "Ahh! I'm allergic!" Bekk Rinn cried.

    ---

    Back in his quarters, knowing where he left Rave, Menchez flew through the opening doors, knee first, slamming his knee into Rave's face. Following the momentum and landing, Menchez forced Rave against the far wall, "DenIb Qatlh! You're working with the Na'Khul, those vile space TRIBBLE's from the 29th century!"

    "Okay, you know, the TRIBBLE get up was a one time thing. And you know Sayjan?" Rave shocked Menchez with the pain stick, sending him back.

    Menchez grabbed the blood-stained bat'leth, "He time-traveled to 21st century Xindus, attempted to unite the species in perfect harmony and forced my crew to slaughter thousands of Xindi-Avians!"

    Rave processed that for a second, "Ha! Yeah, that definitely sounds like him."

    "Like those awkward humanoid bird things, I should have died long ago! And what is up with me encountering the same crew in the corridors over and over while time runs normal in here??"

    Qu glanced over having been pre-occupied with a finger-trap, "Huh? Oh, the hallway's in a time-loop to bring you back. You don't actually think the Q can control life and death, do you? Wait, don't pursue that subject. I'm not supposed to confirm or deny that."

    "Uggh. This taste of 'reality' is so preposterous I just want you to kill me now," he tossed Rave the bat'leth and approached him, "bIHnuch! This is your primary objective!"

    Rave dropped the pain stick and hesitated on what the perfect kill spot would be on Menchez, "Okay, wait. I want to make this good. Where's your jugular again?"

    "What the hell? Stop it! You're messing with the whole fabric of space-time!" Qu interrupted. "Okay, fine. I'll put things back to the way they were; you won't remember your re-spawns, your checkpoints, or the floating items you childishly maxed out your inventory with from now on-- Why people prefer an augmented reality, I'll never know."

    He flashed away to both men's shock. Menchez then grabbed the bat'leth back, but before he could strike, two Vorgon agents transported in.

    "We'll take this rowdy time traveler, thanks," the lead agent, Crog, said.

    The other agent, Tugh tapped at his Vorgon padd, causing Rave to be transported away, "We've been waiting forever for the Na'Khul to release him on some cockamamie mission of some sort. He's wanted for crimes of murder and mystery in the future against various races and so on. Well, you've met him. You know what he's like."

    "The lesson is, if you're in Section 31, simmer down," Crog assured, quite randomly.

    Menchez held one of them back, "Any chance you guys are aware of my dying of an honourable death at some point?"

    Tugh thought for a moment, "You're Menchez, right? Better you don't see it coming." The two then transported out.
  • allen1973allen1973 Member Posts: 22 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    I’m Starfleet Engineer Commander Darzen Zentron, cousin of Admiral Daar’al Zentron. The Admiral has chosen to align with the Klingon faction, I have chosen the Federation, yet we are both Fleet members of the Honor Guard’s many factions we are both Republic separatists. I have been working on many technical applications on New Romulus since my arrival. Infrastructure and defense networks are more or less in the most proper formation of chronological maintenance scheduling that we can maintain at this time. I have also gained rank from that of an elite engineer with very little military accommodation to full Starfleet Command application. I was initially given ‘lieutenant’ status and put to work on cross generating computational analysis within the infrastructural mainframe of that of New Romulus. After five years of that I was well on my way to command status. One of the many tasks also is the physicality of upgrading the defense grid and patrolling the sector for hostile invaders. My successes here have led to cross engineering the Iconian Gateways in such ways to prepare for new defense strategies and exploration strategies also. Our alliance network is now deemed competent enough by the D’Tan council that we are prepared to take our allies into areas that were formally seen as largely part of Starfleet’s insular extraneous diplomatic efforts. Now with the Iconian Satellite Gateways in alliance control, we are able to move forward with that diplomacy.
    Voyager made many friends and enemies along their route during their now infamous seven year journey across the Delta Quadrant, our new task is to continue with the diplomatic agency that Admiral Janeway had once created in the Delta Quadrant, continue new agency as such, and create new diplomacy there also. We begin with establishing new alliances and fortifications in the Lindo-Rozel quadrant. A gaseous anomaly systemic to ‘dark space matter,’ hides an entire quadrant in Borg space where most all other systems have been eliminated by the Borg expansion in that area. It is a dark oasis in a vast expanse of tyranny, however establishing a mid-station along Janeway’s Voyager route will help ratify support and create if nothing else a safe despot to harbor those in league with our intensions in the Delta Quadrant. I have been chosen to provide the systems in this sector with the infrastructure needed to create way stations of de and employment by way of our eminent virtues there. As it is I’m going to soon be stuck in inner-stellar quantum mechanics command structure of the Lindo-Rozel Quadrant.
    Higher posted commanders such as my cousin and others, especially those tied more directly with the D’Tan council are working with Starfleet and the Empire to send newly configured high-speed Dreadnaught class cruisers [trans-galactic starships,] out along the Voyager line to create an intifada network against the Borg. The creation of De-Borgification stations in the Tau Dewa sector, [originally known as Theta Eridani by the Federation,] and those sectors within easy reach of an Iconian Satellite Gateway are in various stages of completion while in the Lindo-Rozel this process has only begun. Learning from our efforts in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and creating diplomacy with the species here in the Lindo-Rozel has had opportune consequences for our engineering contingency here. We will be ahead of schedule upon my arrival should there be no major infraction with the Borg, Kazan, or more Temporal enemies.
    The last of my duties in my stellar locality had been recon missions to the Dyson Sphere and similar trans-gateway travel. We are expecting to be deployed in the Lindo-Rozel Sector for at least a decade. This will likely include many trips back to the Beta Quadrant to return travelers, the deBorgified, and the injured. It is thought that I would lead a crew to make as many trips back and forth as I am now, however recent command logistics suggest that I would be better suited for infrastructural engagement. Whatever my proxy, my crew and I are eager to finish our non-Lindo-Rozel sector duties post-haste. Rumors of huge battles against the Borg with the new trans-galactic starships have been circulating, certain facilities are already processing the recently deBorgified, of course I’m not at liberty to discuss that, under injury of death or brainwashing. To this effect command has been nice enough to send me modification schematics for a cortical blocker device. Should I be assimilated, all I can provide the Borg is my name rank and serial number, other aliens…perhaps not so much a threat, or so much information either.
    Being Romulan I have been advised of certain Delta species that are hesitant to join with the Federation or the Empire. My espionage training and diplomacy may come into use. It has also been suggested by joint high command that my cousin and I can use a diplomatic ‘bait and switch,’ technique in order to construe the most appropriate alliances. One new development is that biologists have confirmed the physiological eugenics of the Kazan. They are to be considered on advisory to be linked with Klingon diplomacy. Borgified Klingons and Cardasians, tired of lifetimes and lifetimes of reincarnation as Borg, using amazing discipline and will power found a way to create a genetic hybrid of both species, as it turns out this is the Kazan. The purpose for this was that the Borg would find them so incendiary that they would be relieved of encapsulation. Many Borg who were found creating genetic experiments were sent along with them to inhabitable backwaters, or adrift in life rafts. Many now have been found, all sharing the same information. The former Borg known as Hue, has remained an augmented sentient, his non-Borg aligned faction has been quite helpful with intel and defense strategies. The Federation and The Klingons have decided that they should be recognized as refugees of the Borg. A planet in Empirical territory, Kazan, has been designated as a neutral site for those of that species willing to submit to diplomacy.
    My main goal is to finish certain work details regarding my communal colonial outpost project on New Romulus in time for my deployment to the Delta Quadrant. This is a personal goal however, and although my work on New Romulus is important to The Republic it is in no way regarded as crucial to The Federation. Networking and work detail deployment have evaporated all of my free time. My vacations are spent creating hydroponic systems, diverting natural water ways for agriculture, hard-wiring computer systems, and assessing the damages my absence to the new home world will create for my loved ones who cannot for one reason or another join the struggle in the Delta Quadrant. It is expected that our returns will find new marriages and loved ones who will likely complete developments there despite my under-attendance beyond a predicted chronological occurrence.
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,577 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    The IRW Tomalak approached the MS-1 colony. With it no longer being part of the Federation, D'Elon had no fear about political repurcussions. They had been patient, working for a number of months to put this mission together. Starfleet archives had been procured. The head of Lore had been retrieved. And the cargo that was nearly stolen by the Son'a was already rigged to begin transmitting once they arrived at their destination. D'Elon looked at the planet, stroking an eyebrow in anticipation. Satra looked over to her commander. "Sir. We're approaching the coordinates indicated in the Enterprise's logs."

    "Excellent. Begin sweeping the deflector dish through the frequencies once we get there." Ta'el spoke up from Tactical. "Commander, sensors are picking up three fighters coming from the planet on an intercept course. They're hailing." D'Elon lowered her hand and leaned back in her chair. "On screen." The image of a human male, mid forties and with short stubble appeared on screen. "Romulan vessel. You have entered the territory of colony MS-1. Withdraw, or we will attack you." D'Elon couldn't help but let out a short sharp laugh at that. "Seriously? You want to attack a D'Deridex warbird with three little fighters? Be my guest. We have no quarrals with your colony, and we will leave you in peace provided you leave us alone." D'Elon pushed herself forward slightly, losing all softness in her voice. "But I warn you Human, one weapon strike against this vessel will be considered an act of war against the Star Empire, and will be responded to accordingly. Do not make a mistake your friends and family will regret."
    "Starfleet will protect us. We-"
    "You are nothing. You are not members of the Federation. You are not protectorates. You are unaligned, unaffiliated, and alone. Back off. You will not be told again." D'Elon cut communications and turned to Satra, but was stopped by a very mild shaking of the ship. She spun around to Ta'el.

    "Have they fired on us?"
    Ta'el checked her instruments, then looked up and nodded. "Their weapon systems are ancient. Shields are still at one hundred percent." D'Elon briefly raised an eyebrow as she slowly turned back towards Satra. "Destroy them all." She didn't even bother waiting to hear a report, talking over the three whines of plasma disruptor beams firing. "Satra, take us through the frequencies. Open up that transwarp corridor."


    The Tomalak's deflector started glowing as it shifted through subspace frequencies, finally finding one that tore open a gap in space. D'Elon remained fixed on the viewscreen as the warbird entered, the blue light of the corridor casting it's light over the bridge. The ship rumbled slightly but she knew the vessel could handle it. Finally the rumbling stopped as the ship dropped out of Transwarp. "Report."

    Satra worked her console. "Sensors say we're deep within the Delta Quadrant. Exactly where we intended to be." D'Elon stood up and walked to Satra, reading the sensors herself. "Then it appears these transwarp corridors don't need gates to work. Just the correct trigger frequency."
    "Yes Sir. But they also don't appear to be connected to any other destination."
    "So without the gate to control it, the Transwarp corridor can only ever come here?"
    "The one in the MS-1 system, yes. It does leave me wondering how many of those single target corridors exist in our space."
    "That's a question for scientists." Noting the brief look of dissapointment on Satra's features, D'Elon quickly continued. "Scientists that make Transwarp their area of expertese. You know I consider you a scientist first and foremost." She moved to her chiar, hoping to just move past it. "Activate cloak and set course for the planet." The Tomalak became invisible, heading towards the lone planet nearby.


    Upon reaching orbit, D'Elon hailed the Cargo Bay. "Lolius. Are we ready?"
    "Yes Commander. The Vinculum is powered up and ready to begin transmission."
    "Good. Await my order before triggering it. We need to be certain." D'Elon leaned back in her chair and looked at the planet before them. The coordinates retrieved from Lore's brain, along with the transwarp calculations were so far proving correct. And the Enterprise logs corroberated the planet's position. So, there should be a colony of free Borg down there, just right for the plucking. "Satra. Have sensors confirmed the location of the colony?"
    "Yes Sir. We will need to drop into the atmosphere for the Vinculum to take affect, but this is the right place. Although...." D'Elon narrowed her eyes at her friend's pause. "Speak Satra. This is not the time for second guesses."
    "It's just.... is this the right thing to do? We'll be no better than the Borg. Those are sentient, living creatures down there."
    "They are Borg. They have some twisted illusion of freedom, but all it will take is one cube to enter orbit and that colony down there will turn straight back into the Collective. We are simply ensuring they will serve for the Romulan Empire, instead of against it."
    "But even if that is true.... it's still brainwashing. We're doing exactly what the Borg, the Elachi, even the Tal Shiar have done to our people."
    "Satra. They are Borg. They don't dream. They don't think. They just act. The Undine attack on Earth showed none of us are prepared for what they have. These Borg are the most powerful soldiers available. They are faster, stronger, more adaptable than any other Borg we've seen. At least, up until the Collective killed that planet of Queens. We still haven't found out what that was all about. But having not encountered any Borg since then, those things down there are the best we have. Is this a moral grey area? Of course. But we are Romulans. We put aside any such qualms for the greater good of the Empire. And it's not like they are going to have any families or loved ones to miss them. Helm. Take us down into the atmosphere. Decloak and keep a full sensor scan. I want to know if they have any weapons trained on us."


    The D'Deridex class warbird shimmered into view, her beak glowing from the heat. Passing through the cloud cover, the majestic green ship spotted a tiny settlement ontop of a hill. There was a basic infrastructure set up, enough to sustain a small number of people. Water channels, solar panels, foundries, all indicating a small, yet highly technological settlement. D'Elon squinted at the small black shapes moving around. She tapped the comm panel on her chair's arm. "Lolius. Activate."

    In the cargo bay, the salvaged Vinculum started pulsing. Engineers swarmed the device, making sure it wasn't going to assimilate the ship, or cause any problems. After all, when one has the heart of a Borg Cube in the ship, one must be careful. Lolius tapped at a screen. "Power levels within acceptible parameters. Signal is being transmitted. And confirmed, it is recieving a reply." D'Elon listend to the reports. The Borg on the ground had stopped moving. Every single one stood perfectly still. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. It seemed to be working. How.... fortunate for the Romulan Empire. D'Elon got to her feet. "I'm beaming down. Satra. You have command." Satra shook her head. "Commander, that's a foolish risk. We should verify first-"
    "The Empire will not survive if we don't take risks. I have confidence in Lolius and his crew. Don't you?" She looked at Satra, waiting for a response. The First Officer simply shook her head again. "Fine. But at least take some security."
    "A wise precaution. I'll be in contact."




    The green lights faded, leaving D'Elon and her guards standing on the grass. Borg drones were all around here, unmoving. They were clearly an older version of the drones. Their skin was pale but not mottled. The exoskeletons appeared a little more basic. D'Elon wondered just what species it was that had given them such a widespread and obvious alteration. Perhaps the introduction of the Queen? Whatever it was, these appeared to be normal, pure Borg. D'Elon approached the nearest drone. "State your purpose." The drone continued to stare directly ahead as it replied. "To serve the Romulan Star Empire. To follow the commands of Commander D'Elon at all times. To ensure the survival of the Romulan race." D'Elon smiled. The alterations to the Vinculum had worked. "All drones are to approach this position." Though she couldn't see it, D'Elon knew those orders were being spread through the small hive mind of this colony. As drones approached her position, D'Elon couldn't fight it any more. Everything had come together perfectly. Her own private Borg army gathered before her. "This. Is perfect." She looked up at her ship, hovering overhead. Tapping some commands into her wrist device to open a comm, she imagined the faces of her enemies when she beamed this group into their midst. "Satra. It's worked. Begin transporting the group into Cargo Bay Two."
    "Yes Sir. But... now we've got them, what will we do next?"
    "We will use them against the enemies of the Empire. The Undine. The Elachi. The Iconians. The Klingons and Federation if they betray us. The Dyson Sphere may be destroyed, but they are still sending ships into the Delta Quadrant through the Gateway. Rator III and Mol'Rihan will be defended from such retributions. But first.... I think a small test is in order. Take us back to Colony MS-1. I believe they wanted to start a war with us."
    *******************************************

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • pwecaptainsmirkpwecaptainsmirk Member Posts: 1,167 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    Hello everyone,
    We will be extending this challenge until the end of September so we can time our next one jussst right for October :)

    See you with a new challenge 10/01!

    ~CaptainSmirk
  • ambassadormolariambassadormolari Member Posts: 709 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    There was a spark of light as Ta'nara's eyes fluttered open, and pain. She immediately became aware of three things: the first was that she as lying on an unfamiliar, hard bed, in a room that was dimly-lit. The second was that her head was throbbing dully, as though she'd been left in a compressed atmosphere for too long. The third was that her left eye-- the one that was an augmetic replacement for the one she had lost years ago-- wasn't functioning.

    Groggily, she pushed herself upright, her body resisting stiffly. The dimly-lit room was, in face, a small, spartan alcove of an unremarkable gunmetal grey, set into a larger room of similar coloration. Ta'nara saw a few panels set into the walls, some tables, and what appeared to be a large, arachnine surgical aparatus a few metres away. Not that she could have gone up and inspected it herself, though-- even with one good eye, she saw the telltale glimmer of a forcefield between her and the rest of the room.

    Her mind raced as she tried to remember how she had come to be here. Details of the last two weeks came flooding back-- of how she had been tasked with investigating the seeming murder of a Klingon dignitary on Mol'Rihan. The Klingon had been rendered comatose under mysterious circumstances, but her investigation had led her to other incidents-- acts of sabotage and terrorism, re-written orders, altered command codes and missing cargo manifests. All of it had led Ta'nara and her crew to an isolated, malfunctioning satellite at the extreme polar orbit of Mol'Rihan. And then there had been a brilliant flash, and...

    She sat up on the bed, remaining outwardly aloof as she took in her situation. She was a prisoner here, that much was certain, though she didn't know where "here" was. Someone or something had beamed her directly off of the Aen'Temar's bridge, though it would have taken considerable resources for them to manage that. The limitated range of transporters meant she had to be somewhere in-system-- a cloaked ship, most likely, or an orbital station or asteroid outpost with a sophisticated sensor deflection grid. Somewhere remote enough in the Mol'Rihan system to fall under the noses of the daily fleet patrols.

    She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and tried to will her augmetic eye into functionality. Nothing happened-- the sophisticated replacement remained inert and dead.

    "Don't bother with scans." The voice almost made her jump-- almost. "This room is surrounded by a dampening field. That little augmetic eye of yours is going to be blind for quite a while."

    From one of the dark recesses of the room stepped a short, thin figure, clad in a nondescript black bodyglove. As he stepped into the light, Ta'nara got a better sense of the man. He was Human...or at least appeared to be, with clammy pale skin, a thin, pinched face and a lank mop of reddish-brown hair. He bore no uniform or insiginia, but Ta'nara could immediately tell by the languid, economical movement of his walk, and by the complete and utter absence of feeling in his eyes, that she was dealing with a fellow professional.

    As the Human stepped in front of the forcefield, Ta'nara eyed him from where she sat, running hypotheses and logistics in her head, narrowing down possibilities in the space of a heartbeat. "You're with Section 31," she concluded out loud.

    The man simply gave her a curious, bemused tilt of his head. "What makes you say that?" he asked, his tone remaining flat and untroubled.

    "The fact that you responded with that particular phrase more or less confirms it." Ta'nara stood up so that her face was level with the Human's. "But if you want details...the fact that you're Human, and the fact that you're holding me in this cell. Neither the Tal Shiar nor the Obsidian Order employ Human agents, and if you were from the Mirror Universe, I would be strapped to an agony booth by now."

    The man raised an impassive eyebrow. "An interesting assumption," he said, "but who's to say that I am not from some other Human agency? Or that I've altered my features to merely look Human?"

    "Then I would know." With a slow, deliberate breath, she made the effort to look visibly relaxed. A small part of her was somewhat worried, but in a situation like this, it was imperative that she put on the appearance of being in control even when she wasn't. "Well. I suppose you're going to tell me why I'm here?"

    The ghost of a smile crept at the edge of the Human's lips, and a flicker of genuine amusement was visible in his blue eyes. "I don't have to," he said. "If I so desired, I could just leave you down here in the dark, without telling you why, until your sanity fractured completely."

    "You would have to wait a very long time, then," Ta'nara replied.

    The smile became more definite now. "I'm patient," he said. "We have all the time in the world. Though since we'll be down here for a long time, I suppose names may be in order." He folded his arms professionally behind his back. "You can call me Sharpe, Commander Veral. And yes, I know of your...history with the Tal Shiar, so I won't insult you by trying to trick you into cooperation."

    He turned and gestured at the surgical bed in the background. For the first time, Ta'nara could see luminescent containers at the far wall of the room. Anaesthetics, she guessed, or serums. "That is what all of this is for," Sharpe said. "Less...effective than Centauran slugs, but certainly less intrusive." He turned back to Ta'nara. "Of course, I'd prefer just to talk for a while first. Can you guess why you're here?"

    Ta'nara had been hoping her host would volunteer that information, but clearly, he was in the mood for games. Which suited her fine-- if she played along, he might let his guard down.

    "The Federation is showing its true colours," she said, saying the first thing that came to mind. "For all of your sanctimonious prattling about peace and exploration, you really want to influence and manipulate the Republic as a puppet state. To accomplish this end, Section 31 intends to torture critical information out of me, or convert me into one of your own operatives."

    Sharpe chuckled. "Now that hurts," he said. "The Federation and the Romulan Republic are friends. Allies. And we don't treat our allies like that."

    "Current situation notwithstanding, you mean?" Ta'nara quipped.

    She had no idea if that remark had made any dent in Sharpe's armour, but his smile wavered a little. "Care to guess again?" he asked.

    The first guess, admittedly, had just been an opening jab. Now she decided to go for the jugular. "You're the one who's been behind the latest terrorist acts, aren't you?" she asked. "You're the one who poisoned Ambassador Krom, who left Commander D'Tell comatose, and caused one of our warbirds to have a catastrophic warp core breach in the dockyards." She levelled her eyes at him. Both of them-- her natural one and her dead, bionic one. "I had thought it was the Tal Shiar, at first, but I recognize their methods, and this seemed too incongruous. It was you all along, wasn't it?"

    Sharpe's face was flat and unreadable, but this in and of itself spoke volumes. "And why would I do that?" he asked.

    She leaned closer to the edge of the forcefield. "Either Section 31 wants to destabilize our alliance with the Klingons...or you're an Undine."

    For a few seconds, Sharpe was silent. Then, taking a step away from the forcefield, he smiled, and clapped his hands theatrically. "Bravo, Commander," he said. "You hit the nail on the head. However, there is one important detail that you missed: I'm not the Undine. You are."

    Ta'nara stared at her captor, trying to determine if he was serious. "I believe I'd know if I was an Undine, Mr. Sharpe."

    Sharpe simply gave a short, dismissive chuckle. "I've been conducting extensive counter-espionage operations in this sector ever since the attack on Earth Spacedock, Commander," he said. "And you know what? There is a mountain of evidence incriminating you. Every altered order, every little act of sabotage, every single body and bloodstain thats been found in the last few months...it all points back to you." He stepped back up to the edge of the forcefield. "You are an Undine. Either that, or you're working with them."

    Ta'nara raised an eyebrow-- a simple gesture that did much to communicate derision. "Why would anyone in their sane mind work with the Undine?"

    Sharpe shrugged. "Why not? The Tal Shiar have already tried allying with the Elachi...and you may be with the Republic, Commander, but you cannot tell me you're not still Tal Shiar at heart." He turned, and began to tap at a panel set into the wall. "That's why we're here. That's why I did what I had to, to draw you out into the open. I intend to find what you are, and where your allegiances truly lie."

    Ta'nara couldn't see any of the readouts of the panel, but she already guessed that her alcove was going to start flooding with some sort of gas soon. She needed to wear Sharpe's defenses down, she knew, and find some sort of weakness she could exploit. "You're either a fool or misled," she said. "If I were truly working with the Undine, then I wouldn't leave such an obvious trail incriminating me." She leaned closer against the forcefield. "This is obviously a set up. Someone else...possibly the Undine you're chasing...is trying to cover their tracks by shifting the blame onto me."

    This elicited a laugh from Sharpe. "I've lost track of the number of people who have told me they've been framed. It's an excuse that never gets old." He stepped back in front of the forcefield. "Incidentally, your chamber should start flooding with modified airborne nanites soon. If you are an Undine, then they should shut down your reactive biology quickly enough to paralyze you for a good ten minutes-- enough time for me to move you onto the biobed securely. If you aren't Undine, well...the nanites won't kill you, but I assure you it won't be a pleasant experience."

    Ta'nara paused and listened. Sure enough, her keen ears could pick up the faint, electonic buzz of nanobots filtering in from spaces in the walls, beginning to swarm around her like locusts. She could try to bat them away, but that would be an exercise in futility-- the nanites would inevitably crawl in through her ears, or her eye sockets, or even her pores, and start circulating into her blood stream. She needed something, and she needed it fast.

    That's when everything suddenly clicked into place. She turned and stared directly at Sharpe. "You aren't operating with Section 31's knowledge, are you?" she asked.

    The briefest look of surprise crossed Sharpe's features, though he killed it instantly. "I beg your pardon?"

    Ta'nara allowed herself the faintest ghost of a smile. "I know Section 31's methods," she said. "I've had to deal with them for a very long time. If they truly believed I was Undine, or an ally of the Undine, then we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we? They would have eliminated me at the earliest opportunity."

    Sharpe stiffened a little. Ta'nara knew that she had just hit a nerve-- she just needed to keep going. "You presume too much about my methodology," he said stiffly.

    Ta'nara shook her head. "No, I don't think I do," she said. "The way I see it, you're a rogue agent. When you committed all those little terrorist acts to draw me out into the open, you were acting without permission, weren't you?" She felt an unpleasant tingling sensation in her ears, but pressed on. "You've killed at least one Klingon dignitary, killed or hospitalized several dozen Republic personnel, tampered with Republic operations, kidnapped a Republic officer...I can imagine that your superiors won't be happy about that."

    The Human was glowering at her now, his superior, self-assured smile gone. "What I've been up to," he said, "is protecting galactic civilization from the Undine threat. You know as well as I that in a war like this, collatoral damage is unavoidable."

    "Except when that damage happens to the Federation's allies." Her ears felt like they were burning now, and her nose and fingertips were also beginning to itch. The nanites, she knew, were forcing their way in. "No, you need to justify what you've done to your superiors. You need to prove to them that I'm an Undine, or working with them. That's why we're here: that's why you intend to interrogate me, or cut me open on a slab and see what I really am." Her cold half-smile returned. "More to the point, you want to have proof, because I don't think you're too sure yourself anymore, are you?"

    Sharpe was doing his best to look impassive, but Ta'nara saw his jaw tighten, ever so slightly, and knew that she was winning. "I don't need to prove anything," he said. "I know what you are, Commander Veral. Treachery is second nature to a person like you, and not a single person in Republic Command is going to miss you when you're gone."

    Ta'nara said nothing at first, but took, a slow, deliberate step away from the forcefield, never once taking her eyes away from Sharpe's. Her one original eye was beginning to water, her fingers were beginning to twitch involuntrily, and she felt like she was breaking into a fever. It wouldn't be long, she knew, before the nanites did their grisly work.

    She glanced up at the alcove around her. "If...you think I am an Undine," she said, "then this dampening field...it must have been specially formulated to block psionic emissions, correct?"

    Sharpe's own half-smile retuned. "That's right."

    "Impressive..." She turned to look at him again. "...but you must have had to downgrade it a bit to compensate for this new feature."

    "Hardly." Sharpe began to pace a little, like a hungry warrigul. "I know what you're thinking, Commander Veral, and forget it. This field will block biometric signiatures and all known wavelengths of communication. No one knows you're here, and no one will be able to find you."

    Ta'nara felt a bead of sweat roll down her forehead, and her throat began to feel dry and itchy. "That...may be so..." she rasped, "but...what about...residual transport signiatures? Or resonating subatomic particles? Can it block out those?"

    Sharpe's half-smile disappeared again. At that moment, he seemed to realize just what Ta'nara was getting at.

    At that moment, he was too late.

    There was dull, bass hum, and several pillars of emerald light shone into existence around Sharpe. The Human spun, drawing a phaser, but he moved a fraction of a second too late. There was a flash of teal light, and Sharpe cried out in pain, dropping to his knees and clutching at his burned hand as his phaser clattered uselessly to the floor next to him. Around him, a Republic away team now stood, plasma rifles levelled downwards at the prone Human.

    Subcommander Taliv, Ta'nara's first officer, lowered his plasma rifle as he noticed her behind the forcefield. "Commander--"

    A sharp spike of pain knifed through Ta'nara's lungs, doubling her over and causing her to gag and retch. "Side panel..." she rasped. "Deactivate..."

    Taliv didn't need to be told twice. He hurried over to the side panel and tapped at it. The pain in Ta'nara's throat and lungs instantly subsided as the nanites were deactivated. She took several deep, relieved breaths, before doubling over and throwing up, her body expelling the foreign intruders in a single unpleasant reaction.

    There was a short buzz as the forcefield was deactivated. "It looks like we got to you in time," Taliv said as he stepped into the alcove and helped Ta'nara up to her feet. "Nalae almost lost you, but eventually we were able to find his ship in the asteroid belt."

    Ta'nara nodded weakly. "Good work," she rasped. She wasn't able to say much more-- given how she felt, she'd probably be spending the rest of the day in the infirmary.

    From where he knelt, Sharpe looked up at Ta'nara in an incredulous mix of shock and fury. "My security was foolproof!" he hissed. "There's no way you should have been able to find her!"

    Ta'nara glowered down at Sharpe. Gently pushing Taliv aside, she walked unsteadily towards him. "Did you really think that I would fall for such an obvious trap?" she asked. "It was obvious that you were leading a deliberate trail for me to follow, that you wanted to capture me or whoever else was sent after you, so I took your bait. But before I did, I had my ship's science officer bombard me with viridium particles-- which, while harmless, do tend to resonate quite rapidly after going through a transporter system." She stood over Sharpe, looking him in the eye. "The moment you abducted me, Sharpe, my crew started scanning the area for viridium particles. It was only a matter of time before they found me...and you."

    Sharpe said nothing. He didn't need to-- the look on his face told Ta'nara enough. Slowly, though, his half-smile returned.

    "Very clever, Commander Veral," he said. "Very clever."

    And with that, he clacked his teeth together, shattering the poison capsule that had undoubtedly been planted in his jaw, and collapsed.

    "Llhusra!" Taliv swore, dropping down next to Sharpe. The Human's body shuddered and spasmed violently for several seconds, before finally going still. He tapped his wrist-comm. "Away team to Aen'Temar, prepare for emergency transport to the Infirmary, one to beam--"

    "Belay that!" Ta'nara snapped, loud enough for whoever was on comms to hear. She looked back down at Sharpe's body, and shook her head. "He's already dead, Taliv."

    Taliv looked up in surprise at Ta'nara. "Commander, if you knew he was going to commit suicide...why didn't you stop him?"

    "Because he knew nothing," Ta'nara replied flatly. "Someone else was doing to him what he had been doing to us-- feeding him lies and misinformation, and getting him to do as they wanted."

    She looked away from Sharpe. There was no point wasting time on the dead, no point mourning those who could never have been saved in the first place. "Prepare to beam back to the ship," she ordered, "and assemble a meeting as soon as we're back on board. Sharpe may have been misinformed, but her was right about one thing: there is an Undine somewhere on Mol'Rihan, and we need to find it and kill it."
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • drajoradrajora Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited September 2014
    Challenge #2

    Captain Koloss of the IKS DaH'ghal sat back at the soaring crescendo of the opera battered at her ears. A bottle of bloodwine sat open on the desk and her mekleth rested beside it. Normally her office on the Vorcha-class starship reminded her of the limitless possibilities, but all it did now was bring into sharp relief the loss of the Councillor.

    Her mentor and confidant, friend and ally against foes political and otherwise. Dead at the hand of some unknown alien. In the council chamber itself! With his death, her affiliation with the House of Antaak was fragile, and she needed something to prove her worthiness to the Matriarch of the House.

    A few months ago, that would have been as simple as heading out on a raid and glorifying the DaH'ghal in battle against the Federation. Now? Now there was peace. Not even the Romulans were acceptable prey.

    The chime from the display took several repetitions to be heard above the roar of the opera, but once she noticed the blinking light, Koloss sighed a final time and brought the message up. Its contents sobered her up faster than a raktijino, and ten minutes later, she strode from the office, mekleth belted on and blood in her eye.

    ****

    "How's the handling now?"

    Info looked up from the refurbished console.

    "Tolerances are well within acceptable parameters. The 'T-6' upgrades are performing flawlessly. I note a 7.45% increase in responsiveness above the Talon's original design."

    "Excellent"

    Captain Selene Persico was glad to be back in space. After the battering the Talon had taken at the hands of the Solanae Dyson Sphere and the subspace anomalies that could be found within, she had been fearful that her beloved Jem'Hadar Attack Ship would be written off and taken to the breakers.

    But that hadn't eventuated. Rescued from her temporary grave on the surface of the Sphere, the Talon had instead been towed to Starbase 234 and given a full upgrade and update. The ship even had that "new ship" smell coming from the brand new life-support systems.

    Of course, it was still crawling with builders reps and an inquisitive commodore or two, all eager to see how the tests for the T-6 fleetwide update program were going. Really, there wasn't enough room for them aboard the tiny ship, but when an Admiral says jump, you don't complain about the lack of headroom.

    The Talon was finally back in space, and even though she was currently parked in orbit around some unnamed Class-L planet, just to be flying again was something. It was....liberating.

    "When are we expecting the Skylark to arrive?"

    "Sixteen hours, Captain. Captain Draj asked me to remind you that there is a bottle of Chateau Picard riding on the outcome of the wargames."

    "Very well, Commander Anthi, you have the bridge. I promised I'd give Eight a hand with the Overload Shunt integration. Wouldn't do for us to lose the prize."

    Selene had barely stepped into the turbolift when a paralysis swept over her, followed swiftly by the faintly uncomfortable tingle of a transporter. The view of the lift shimmered away, to be replaced with the red and brown walls of a Klingon transporter room.

    Selene found herself facing down six disruptor rifles trained on her. The Klingons, Gorn and Orions holding them stared at her with cold expressions, but none were as ice-chilling as the frozen glare of pure hatred that emanated from the warrior wearing a General's rank.

    "Traitor. You will now pay for your crimes against the Empire."

    ****

    Selene stared at the furious warrior, keenly aware of the bone-white mekleth that the General was holding.

    "I-"

    The slash tore through her uniform tunic arm. and blood welled up out of the cut. Selene began attempting to circle away from the crazed Klingon, but the ring of disruptor-wielding crew confined her to the transporter pad itself.

    Still, the long hours in the holodeck training with Mira'Kirren was going to pay off now. Traditional mekleth forms meant that her best bet was to dodge left, and then close in for a uppercut punch. Grab the blade, twist the wrist, and force the General to drop it.

    The opening came when the Klingon dived in again. As drilled, Selene collapsed left - and let out a scream as the wicked blade carved across her ribs. Selene collapsed to the pad, trying to staunch the blood with her hands as the Warrior laughed contemptuously.

    "We're supposed to be allies, you maniac!"

    "Allies!" The warrior's eyes flashed, and she spun the mekleth in a deadly pattern. Selene could recognize the attack forms in there, but they flowed with smoothness and rapidity - the Klingon was almost berserk with rage, but keeping herself back from descending into bloodlust.

    "I am no ally to a pawn of the Iconians!"

    "Pa...pawn of the...the Iconians? Are you out of your mind?"

    "Oh, you were clever, I give you that. You must have been contacted and suborned while you were at that Academy of yours. What did they offer you I wonder? A planet of your own? Riches? Are you some sort of Ferengi, hmm?

    But you weren't clever enough, Pawn.

    Take the incident in the Vega system. Your first cruise. Still a Cadet, and you somehow managed to call the Borg down upon us all - Federation and Klingon alike!"

    Selene's laboured breath caught as the nightmare of that day resurfaced. She could almost see the assimilated colonist leaning closer and closer. Anxiety began to bubble away as the Klingon continued.

    "For an encore, you then took an Undine to the Vulcan system of P'Jem! Transported it luxury aboard your ship!

    Then who can forget your actions in the Vendor system? Slaughtering an entire starbase full of Romulans whose only crime was to work at uncovering your fellow Undine!"

    "It...It...." Selene couldn't get the denial out. The world was beginning to darken, and the wound on her side had grown numb. Her heart was cold as the icy grip of fear clutched it.

    "Then you very nearly gave the Federation battleship Athens to the Undine. What a coup that must have seemed! Oh, but that's not the least of your crimes! Who was there on the Solanae Station when it opened the gateway to the Jenolan Sphere, letting the Undine through?

    And then Qo'nos itself! You were right there in Council chambers when your paymasters showed up!

    Who ties all these events together? What common thread is there?

    You, captain. You. Pawn of the Iconians. Ally of the Undine. Traitor to the Alpha Quadrant!"

    "You've...gotten it....backwards...." It was getting much harder and harder to force the words out. The world was grey and black, and Selene couldn't feel the pain anymore. A paralysis crept over her again as the Klingon warrior raised her blade for a killing blow. Selene closed her eyes.

    *****

    "Captain! Captai- Oh, damn it. Wolversham to Sickbay! Medical Emergency in Transporter Room One!"
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