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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 12 The Devil In the DNA, PT 2
03-29-2012, 08:28 PM
“Hail the Hirogen vessels. Tell them… oh, tell them this is the science vessel Voyager II. That should draw their attention from my poor, idiot of an engineer.”

After a moment the Hirogen vessels broke off and streaked towards the Rage. Sky leaned back in the command chair, relaxed, with a pleasant smile on her face. “Tactical? As soon as they begin firing, drop the holo-image and initiate Quartermain Delta 1. Don't hit their warp cores.”

The Hirogen vessels had closed to what passed for knife fighting range between starships when the false image of a science vessel faded and they realized that they had charged into the jaws of an Odyssey class Starcruiser. What followed could not be even be charitably described as a battle. Two drifted dead in space, broken and gutted while the vessel Tactical had determined to be the lead ship struggled to maintain power.

“Transporter room? Beam Commander Payne aboard. Then scan the wreckage. I want any non-Hirogen remains from their damned trophy walls sent to the morgue. We might know some of them, and those people deserve a decent burial. Then beam up any Hirogen remains you can locate, hold them in the transporter buffer and relay control to Val. Comm? Hail the remaining Hirogen vessel.” The brutish countenance of the Hirogen Alpha appeared. Battered and bloody, he nodded in respect to her.

“A magnificent ploy, Captain-” She cut him off.

“I am Sky Falls In Thunder, Captain of the USS Rage of Angels. I do not care to hear the opinions of my prey. I am allowing you to leave this space for one reason, and one reason only. I find no pleasure or glory in stalking prey as it sleeps, you will see that my prey is roused and alert for my Hunt. Know this… I do not seek trinkets of bone and flesh. My trophy…. will be the silence where once the Hirogen strode boldly. And all who remember the Hirogen will tremble at that silence.”

The Alpha looked surprised for a moment, then a knowing smile creased his face. “You are a human. Your kind does not do such things. You have Hunted well, but now you will negotiate. Your kind always seeks to barter and appease.”

Sky stood and crossed her arms, and Danziger realized why she had left her jacket off. The Alpha’s eyes narrowed appreciatively as he sized her up, estimated the strength of the athletic, muscular physique her halter revealed. And then they widened slightly as he realized she stood at least a head taller than anyone visible on her bridge… tall as any other Hirogen Alpha he’d met.

Her green eyes narrowed and she favored him with a toothy, feral grin. “The humans you’ve met before are dreamers and seekers, builders and makers.”

She snapped her fingers.

“I’m a different kind of human.”

The transporter effect shimmered on the bridge of the crippled Hirogen ship as the remains of the Hunters from the other two escorts materialized around the Alpha.

“I’m done with these. Go now, I give you fair chance to sing of my Hunt before it begins.”

The Hirogen vessel spun about and began limping away at full impulse. Within the hour, their repairs were sufficient for them to go to warp.

Pulling her uniform jacket on at last, Sky commented on their departure. “They won’t stay gone. They won’t be able to resist the notion of hunting me once word spreads to the other Alphas. But they’ll think twice before picking on any more ‘helpless’ vessels.” She glanced at Lt. Danziger who was staring at her with wide eyes and a very, very pale face. Another gentle smile. “Relax, Lt. That little speech was pure Corbomite. Although when Commander Payne gets through explaining how he managed to trigger a power surge that knocked him out, activated the SRSN prototype, and triggered the shuttle’s E&E training routine, he’s going to wish he had brought some Corbomite…” She stood and stretched.

“Val, take the conn. The Thevin’s Stand should be catching up with us shortly. My compliments to Captain Roehe, and have Commander Shaikatra report to me when she comes aboard. See to it that Commander Payne visits sickbay, then have him come to the bridge and await my convenience.” Having no further concern, she ambled over to her Ready Room with all the urgency of a person who’s decided to see if the library has anything interesting.

Commander Payne was waiting stiffly at attention by the turbolift an hour later when the wayward XO stormed onto the bridge, her antennae were back, practically flat against her skull in outrage. She was carrying an armload of horga'hns. She paused to glare at Payne, then stomped off into the Captain’s ready room leaving a hissing string of invective that threatened to eat holes in the deck. “Hirogen… and I MISSED it!”

Commander Payne became aware that he was receiving numerous pitying looks but he kept his gaze fixed stoically ahead. The Captain had a reputation for being fair and even kind, but there were …stories… about occasions where she had actually lost her temper. When her voice finally came over the intercom, it was a small, churchmouse whisper.

T'Sahriv Zhalan... The Whispering Storm.

Val’s eyebrow went up and Danziger had to look away from Payne. He had always been nice. She’d heard that the last time the Captain had spoken in that tone she had been sealed in a cargo bay with a Klingon boarding party and had offered them a chance to surrender. According to Crewman Snyder who was dating a nurse who knew somebody in Security, when the damage control teams finally got the door open, the Captain was sitting on a pile of dead Klingons munching on one of those old style ration bars she favored.

Commander Payne marched into the Ready Room with his back straight and his chin up.

When the door whisked shut behind him, he heard the privacy lock engage.

“Commander Greyson Payne, reporting as ordered Captain!” Crisp, and Academy perfect.

There was silence for a moment, then a wet thwapp! A red splash appeared on his forehead, and he stiffened, his face a slack mask of disbelief. An instant later there was a second thwapp! Something red and viscous splatted to the floor.

“Was that really necessary? I mean, really, did you have… Oh! Are these real maraschino cherries? Not replicated? FIVE SECOND RULE!”

The engineer snatched the two cherries off of the floor and popped them into his mouth as Shaikatra brought him a Singapore Sling. “You know, your reputation would be ruined if your wrench monkeys down in engineering knew you like these girlie drinks” the shen teased.

The Captain motioned him to the table. “Real drinks and a platter of proper barbeque is the least I can do after the chance you took for me. Did the deployment go as planned, Pain?”

With a grin he tucked a napkin into his shirt. “Yup. It's positioned right where we need it and the replication’s going beautifully. Within 3 days, the Self Replicating Sensor Net will be up and running. Val’s shut off that bogus ‘handshake’ she set up, so they’re in passive mode. Only way someone will find a unit is to fly into it, and then they’ll think it’s space junk from blowed up Hirogen.”

Sky nodded and took a long pull on her thick, dark ale. “Once we get 3 more in place, we’ll be able to triangulate and find the Ghehenna Rift. I’ll be able to liberate my sisters… their daughters. I fear my brothers will never surrender to a “Breed Thing” though. Her eyes flickered to the Vulcan lirpa on the far wall, her gaze caressed it lovingly.

Shaikatra poked her. "Hey. What did you do to scare the hell out of the Danziger kid? Did you have one of your Monster Moments?"

Sky held up her hand, thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart. Shaikatra poked her again. The Augment shrugged and moved her hands about a yard apart.

"I threatened the Hirogen with genocide and beamed the remains of the 2 dead crews onto his bridge. I told her I was bluffing, but I think she's sharper than the average butter-bar."

The shen shrugged. "Just explain to her that you respect the right of members of other cultures to make their own choices, and you're simply being Consequences"

Payne snorted. "Shaikatra, you were Old School Andorian even when you served under Kirk. Which makes you Old Old School, I guess. Didn't the Temporal Displacement Counselors explain that kinder, gentler, more evolved stuff to you? 'I accept and embrace your right to eat my children as an expression of your unique cultural uniqueness, blahblahblah..." Sky, I'll have T'Ren talk to Danziger. Being married to the ship's Counselor has it's perks. Although it might help her accept where your head is if T'Ren tells her a little bit about what growing up in the Augment breeding pens was like."

The Captain took another pull of her ale and considered something harder, not that she could ever stay drunk long. "I suppose. There are enough rumors about me going around a few more won't hurt. And... I don't want her to be afraid of me. And what of our other friends?"

Shaikatra put on an air of suffering martyrdom. "Let's talk about how I spent my 'vacation.' I met with them on Risa. Mandalay and Valour At Dawn are game, so we'll have company. The Hathcock will have to sit things out... too many new crew for her Captain to have sorted out who's a plant and who's just a putz. Thevin's Stand will ghost around here polishing off the odd Hirogen ship so they don't stumble into the Net or, worse, the Rift. And finally, Aegis is willing to play ball. They've accepted your proposal. They owe you too many favors, and they really don't want a group of female Augments just dumped any old place and having babies. It'd do "unpredictable" things to the timeline. They'll keep the uptime Temporal agencies in line, although DTI would choke if they really knew where we're going. Have you thought about bringing in the Ghost Fleet?"

Sky's lowered her eyes and shook her head. "I don't know about that one. They're good people, and I owe a lot to them... I wouldn't have been able to retrieve you two without Project Christopher. But Section 31's got their fingers in too many of their pies for me to be comfortable with bringing them in on this."

Shaikatra scooted closer to Sky and put a hand on her friend’s arm as Payne spoke. “Captain Granger would be proud, Sky. T'Shia told me it always haunted him… that he wasn’t able rescue all those other girls from the hellhole you were born in. We’re doing a Good Thing here, and even protecting the Federation while we're at it. And Val's even cooked up some legal gobbledygook that'll make it sound like we're not even violating the Prime Directive. Much. I wish he could see the woman you've gown into.”

The three friends looked at one another. Shaikatra raised her glass.

“To absent companions.”