Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 140
# 11
07-25-2013, 02:10 AM
In the end, when we were back in the ready room, Jenn won. She convinced me to give the planet Risa a try. That was when a new circle of problems reared its ugly head. "I'm not sure on how to tell you this, Jenn, but I think I've got nothing to wear."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you off to, Veril?”

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded my thanks and headed straight for the room.

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


Two days later,

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

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

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

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

In the meantime Jenn looked around the viewscreen until she found the general direction to the Tau Dewa sector. “May the stars tell you all their secrets, Eris Shalvon.” Then she returned her attention to the bridge. There was a ship to get ready for a new mission.

Last edited by rextorvan36; 07-28-2013 at 02:46 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 612
# 12
07-25-2013, 11:45 AM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding, USS King Estmere NCC-92984

"How many?"

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

"Do you have a fix?" I ask.

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

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

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

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

Movement up ahead. I freeze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nod. "Got comms to them?"

"Of course."

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

"Holodeck. Pause program."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What?"

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

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

---

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

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

"Good to know, anyway," I mutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My combadge chirps at me. "Shohl here."

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

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

"Sir, if our system security is compromised -"

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

---


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

"About what?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

"All ready?" she asks me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T'laihhae nods. "Energize."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"OK, go!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

"Access to what?" I ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do the scans and get to work!"

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

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

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

"There are drugs which boost blood production -"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

"Vice Admiral Shohl?" the Romulan asks.

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

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

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

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

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

"Not a chance," she says firmly.

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Prisoners." He spits the word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Let me know what you decide - great-grand-uncle."
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 237
# 13 46 Rules
07-25-2013, 06:06 PM
There are 46 *Edited by the Captain* (47) Rules when serving with Captain Son'aire...

General Ship Rules:

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

Tribbles:

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

Q-tinuum

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

The Captain:

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

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

Time Travel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

******

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

Written by Ani'Tara, 'Anitara', Ros'luk Sovor
Edited by Gregs Son'aire
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,084
# 14
07-26-2013, 06:14 AM
"There are 47!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Go ahead Commander."

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

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

"They're Eggs!" she said excitedly.

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

"There are 47 of them!"

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

"I put them there!"

This time I DID spit out my coffee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was Undine.

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

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

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

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

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

Now or never.

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

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

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

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

"Tin Man?" I asked.

"Tin Man." she responded.

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

"This was just a test." I asked.

"A field test maybe." Q smiled.

"Field test?" Edison asked.

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

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

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

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

I'm sure Admiral Aviess would have a few questions for us as well.

Last edited by wraithshadow13; 07-26-2013 at 06:27 AM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 146
# 15 Goodbye
07-26-2013, 06:47 PM
My mind started to wander as I waited for the runabout to launch. I recalled the spontaneous call from my grandmother when I was a second year student at the Academy. Without any introduction, she told me about her first husband. I was shocked to find out that she even had a first husband - Vulcans can keep secrets, but this was a bit much. What she said next shocked me even more.

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

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

I almost quit the Academy that day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I laughed for the first time in many weeks.

---

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

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

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

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

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

---

Historian's note: the destruction of the U.S.S. Malacca at Starbase Vanguard occurs in the novel Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack.

Last edited by superhombre777; 08-01-2013 at 07:04 PM. Reason: explaining the cadet
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 419
# 16 Ghost of a Memory
07-27-2013, 02:32 PM
-


"All preparations complete, Commander."


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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



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

"Commander Keras."

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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



No.



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

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

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



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



"We must do our Duty."



__
"I am your leader, I am in command. The fate of all my followers lies in my hands. The burden of what is right or wrong, decisions have to be made. I have to take you all into this burning Gate." - Iron Savior, 'Never Say Die'.

Last edited by danqueller; 07-28-2013 at 04:58 AM.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,030
# 17
07-27-2013, 11:19 PM
The Last Vestiges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Vaguely, ensign. Why do you ask?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Make it so." demanded the Captain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Holoemitters?" Span inquired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ship shook violently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Deet to Federalist, three to beam up."
Vice Admiral Aznia Deet, Federation Ambassador, U.S.S. Federalist

Last edited by azniadeet; 07-30-2013 at 02:03 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,856
# 18 Outpost 47
07-29-2013, 09:55 PM
Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748
Commander Grunt recording.

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

"Anything yet, Ruben?"

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

"Rock?"

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

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

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

"Ms. Shelana, is Security ready?"

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

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

"Aye, sir."

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

"Acknowledged."

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

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

"Higher life forms, Rock?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What is it?" Grunt demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"So what did happen?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Excellent. Vov, still there?"

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

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

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

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

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

----------------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Energy beams and torpedoes filled the space between the two ships. As the Elachi craft erupted in flames, the Hephaestus peeled away, twisting space around itself as it sped off into nonspace.
-------------------------------------------
I'm old enough not to care too much about what you think of me --
But I'm young enough to remember the future, the way things ought to be...

- Rush, "Cut To the Chase", Counterparts

Last edited by jonsills; 07-30-2013 at 07:13 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,671
# 19
07-31-2013, 07:49 AM
"The are forty-seven!" The gruff Andorian responded to the demand. Kathryn looked forward to face the Nausicaan but looked unfazed by the revelation.

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Indeed,” S’Rel nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathryn smirked. “An arm?”

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

"Yes, Captain, I believe so."

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

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

---

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

"How are they able to do that?!"

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

"Thel, What about the ship?"

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

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


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

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

---

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

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

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

---

Kathryn expected the final move. "Karl -"

"Already on it, sir!"

---

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

At the speed his ship was traveling, he couldn't steer away fast enough and couldn't even see the last moments of his forty-seven years of life.
Kathryn S. Beringer - The Dawn Patrol

Solaris build - Veritatum Liquido Cernene

Last edited by cmdrscarlet; 08-01-2013 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Rewrite due to feedback
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 14
U.S.S. Aviator, En route to the Briar Patch

Captain's Log Stardate 86532.96:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zedona smirked, "Why thank you, Captain."

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

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

Scott nodded, "Alright, go ahead."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---------------------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

"On screen."

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

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

Scott sighed, "Yes, Admiral."

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

"I'm all ears, Admiral."

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

Scott nodded, "Understood, Sir."

"Very well. Fantasy Nature out."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Aye, Sir."

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

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

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

Scott nodded, "Open a channel."

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

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

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

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

"Aye, Sir!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Alright," Scott said, his hands wringing together, "continue our course to the Briar Patch. Ready transphasic torpedoes, we may need them soon enough."

"Aye, Sir."

The group of cruisers and their escort continued their flight, continuing their trek through the Concordium and Breen fleet. However, they didn't go unnoticed. A nearby Concordium cruiser fired a duo of golden beams, scanning one of the Excalibur cruisers. The beams met, and soon after the Federation ship was ripped apart by a trio of horrifyingly strong waves of plasma.

"Sir," R'Elama shouted over the chaos of the Aviator's bridge, "we've lost the Swan Song!"

"Keep moving," Zedona shouted back, "we can't stop now!"

Scott's hands formed into fists, his knuckles ghost white, "Maneuver Scott delta one. Keep us away from any guidance beams."

"Aye, Sir."

He looked over to Zedona, "You're right, but we don't want to get hit by one of those plasmatic pulsar devices, hm. Otherwise we'll be getting to the Ba'ku homeworld in pieces."

Zedona nodded, her cheeks almost as red as her hair, "Right..."

"Don't worry about it, Commander," Scott said back with a smile, "just gotta stay on your toes around the Concordium."

----------------------------------------------------------------------

The bridge of the Valoor was live with chatter. Officers all over the bridge shouted status reports and other important information on the chaos developing around the Interstellar Concordium's flagship. Forty seven of the Federation's best captains were sent here. They were arrogant, hoping for an easy surrender yet secretly fishing for an excuse to "pull their triggers." But instead they merely be examples. Examples of how their days of blind barbarism were coming to an end.

"Prepare the enveloping plasmatic pulse," he said, his large lips twisting slightly, "fire on my command."

"Yes, Sir!"

A deep blue hue flooded the bridge, the deck jostling slightly as the Valoor's wide wings began to spread vertically.

Back on the Aviator, Sula scanned her console. Something wasn't right, "Sir...something's going on."

"You're going to have to be more specific than that, Lieutenant," Scott replied.

"The Valoor's wing's are undergoing a geometric shift, Captain."

"A geometric shift?"

"Yes, Sir. The Valoor's wings have separated into several vanes, spreading approximately forty-seven degrees in the last thirty seconds."

Sula's station emitted a series of loud beeps, "Sir! The wing tips, they're emitting numerous guidance beams!"

"On screen."

The image of the Valoor painted the viewscreen. Intimidating could be a word to describe the scene, but that would be a catastrophic understatement. It was like a giant curved spider spinning a conical golden web.

Within that spider, the Pronhoulite helmsman nodded his light green saurian head, "Guidance beams are set, plasma charge is ready," he turned toward the Grand Admiral, "we are ready to fire on your word, Sir."

Jyromec tilted his amphibian head back, reflective black eyes narrowing at the viewscreen, only one word was needed now and there was no need to add more to it, "Fire."

"Captain!" R'Elama cried, her feline eyes wide.

But she was to late. An enormous wave of plasma crashed through the fleet of Federation ships in front of the Valoor, leaving behind a wake of burning devastation.

Scott stood from his chair, shaky legs just barely supporting himself, "My God..."

The bridge of the Aviator fell into silence. Nobody knew what to say, what to do. Scott could literally feel the eyes of his bridge crew pinning themselves onto him. He sank back down onto his chair, "Status report..."

R'Elama tapped her console, "Shields down to thirty-three percent, phaser relays are functioning at fifty-six percent, we're down to thirty transphasic torpedoes and sixty-one photon torpedoes. Sensors indicating that the Patriot, Avalon, Merlin, Castillo, and Opportunity are still with us. It also appears that Concordium corvettes are beginning to take up patrols within the fleet."

"How long until we reach the Briar Patch?"

"We will enter in less than five minutes."

Scott nodded feverishly, "Bring us in, Lieutenant."

"Aye, Sir."

And thus began the longest five minute journey Scott ever experienced.

We will finish our mission, he thought to himself, no matter what. Those lives lost to the Interstellar Concordium will not be lost in vain.

"Captain..."

Scott looked to his first officer, "Yes, Commander?"

She never took her eyes off the viewscreen, "You know what I said earlier, about something big was going to happen?"

Scott nodded and Zedona continued, "Sir, before we do anything in the Briar Patch, I think it would be a good idea if we organize a meeting between our commanding officers. Something happened, thirty ships don't suddenly appear out of nowhere, and especially not a mixed fleet!"

Scott nodded, "That is a good idea, Commander, but first I want to make sure we hold a meeting with the senior officers once we enter the Briar Patch. Right now we have to make sure we at least get that far."

"Yes, Sir."

They sat back in their seats, waiting to finally reach the orange cloud before them.

Last edited by patchouli19; 08-10-2013 at 03:47 PM. Reason: This ending seems to be more IC
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