Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,550
# 51
05-25-2014, 07:48 PM
LC 16 redux ("First Contact"). This is a tie-in for "Invasion".
-------------------
Fedepedia.org article on the Ha'ni species, retrieved 9 May 2412.

The Ha'ni: Biology and society

The Ha'ni species is a parthenogenetic reptilian race from the planet tr'Akh'ss, or Earth, which apparently evolved from varanid lizards in several parallel timelines. All Ha'ni societies encountered thus far have been capable of superluminal travel, although they lack warp drive. Two Ha'ni states in two separate timelines have been encountered so far; the zhirat, or Ministry, known only from the testimony of Starfleet contractor [Nemesis unit designation Three, and the Khizhat, or Suzerainty, a militaristic state that invaded our universe and was repulsed after a brief but violent political turnover thanks in part to the efforts of unit designation Three and Captain Ael t'Kazanak. Following this incident, all Ha'ni forces left for their own universe, leaving one scientist, S'lin Ta'kat, behind as an exchange officer. The rest of this article assumes discussion of the Khizhat government.

Ha'ni bear a strong resemblance to bipedal Komodo dragons, with powerful prehensile tails and broad but surprisingly dexterous digging hands equipped with heavy claws. The scales vary in color and pattern by the individual, but broodlines generally share a similar appearance. The dorsal scales are darker and rougher than the ventral scutes, which are generally kept smooth.

Ha'ni reproduction is similar to that of the certain teiid lizards; Ha'ni reproductive individuals (or jian) engage in copulation in order to stimulate ovulation. Meiosis and mitosis followed by self-fertilization results in eight identical gametes fusing into four zygotes; this helps perpetuate the genetically-determined Ha'ni caste system. The soft-shelled eggs are incubated for an average of six months before hatching. Jin and zin do not reproduce; neither show sexual desire, and zin are considered to lack gender identity (which has raised some interesting sociobiological questions, given the unisexual nature of the Ha'ni.

Hatchlings are separated by caste at birth, due to the specific care requirements of young jin (soldiers) and zin (scientists). Juveniles are fed regurgitated food by caretakers (other members of their caste) until they are capable of eating solid food unassisted. Juvenile jin are often genetically augmented shortly after this point if a senior Ha'ni deems them worth the effort.

Ha'ni names have two parts; the personal name, given to each hatchling by a caretaker, and the broodline name, similar to a Human family name; it is considered highly insulting for any Ha'ni other than a close friend, lover, or confidant to use the personal name of another, especially if that other is a high-ranking official. A broodline (khrnit) is a Ha'ni social structure consisting of a large number of Ha'ni all descended from a certain, renowned Ha'ni. If a Ha'ni is particularly exceptional, she (or her closest jian relative if that Ha'ni is not capable of reproduction) is declared the first member of her own broodline, which is given her name. Some broodlines have died out, due to random meiotic chance, and according to zin Ta'kat some had lost the capacity to produce jin and zin before the development of easy genetic modification. Most broodline members have similar personalities, and some similarities are usually visible even across castes; for example, Nivat broodline Ha'ni have a well-deserved reputation for wisdom and strategic thinking skills, while Akh'sat broodline Ha'ni tend to be simplistic and obedient, and Warat broodline Ha'ni are conservative and xenophobic.

Ha'ni also show personality differences across castes. Jian, who make up most civilian and bureaucratic roles as well as non-combat military roles, are largely similar to Humans in their psychology. Jin, who make up all combat roles in the Ha'ni military, are highly intelligent but very militaristic in their thought processes; a savvy opponent can often use this to gain an advantage. Zin, who perform all duties related to scientific research and weapons development, are easily as intelligent as the most renowned Human scientists, perhaps as intelligent as artificial life-forms such as former Enterprise-E captain Data, but show almost pathological congenital attention-deficit disorder symptoms. Ha'ni have dedicated guards for zin laboratories, and most Ha'ni officials have standing policies of not using zin-designed technology without extensive testing, due to the high propensity of such technology to explode.

Ha'ni do not salivate, and so consider spitting to be tantamount to regurgitating; a terrific insult. Furthermore, they consider kissing to be deeply perverted, because the only time in casual life that two Ha'ni mouths will touch is when an adult regurgitates food to feed a juvenile. If for any reason Federation forces are serving with Ha'ni, it is imperative to remember this cultural taboo, as it may permanently jeopardize relations and result in the deaths of all personnel involved.

Ha'ni do not commonly wear any clothing other than armor and a hip cloth to cover the cloacal region. Zin often wear vest-like arrays of belts and pockets to carry half-finished experiments and tools, however. Instead of uniforms, Ha'ni soldiers and officers usually wear necklaces or armbands to indicate their rank and assignment.

The Ha'ni state is a militaristic and expansionist society called the Khizhat, a Ha'ni word that means "Suzerainty", run primarily by jin military personnel. Jian make up 99% of the bureaucracy and about 30% of the military, mostly in support roles. The Ha'ni may or may not have access to replicator technology, but their society seems to operate without money, like most replicator-based societies. The military is mostly meritocratic, although according to Ha'ni troops who worked with Captain t'Kazanak and her crew during the attack on Earth, some political infighting resulted in promotion discrimination against relatively non-xenophobic Ha'ni.

The Ha'ni take extreme pride in their civilized status. "Uncivilized" actions, such as pre-emptive strikes, breaking treaties, and certain degrees of treason, are treated with the same harshness as the most dishonorable or cowardly Klingons. Ha'ni "civilization" does in fact bear some resemblances as a concept to Klingon honor; in fact, the Ha'ni have, in a similar fashion to the Klingons, declared certain members of other species effectively equal to their own kind (see below).

The Ha'ni have an extremely advanced understanding of wormholes, certain exotic particles, and materials science, but have not developed conventional transporters or energy shields. For more information, see the article "Unusual alien technology: Ha'ni".

Ha'ni invasion: Roots of the conflict.

In late 2411 (Terran Gregorian calendar), a Ha'ni scout frigate captained by a jin augment named Ar'tana Nivat entered our universe through an experimental wormhole device, where it encountered and destroyed an Undine dreadnought. The frigate (designated Ha'ni Khizhat zar'tanae Naarat, which translates as "Ha'ni Suzerainty Destroyer Vindication") then returned to the Ha'ni universe.

The Ha'ni supreme leader, Za'raess Rugon, deeply concerned about the stagnation and corruption of Ha'ni society, ordered another incursion, this time with a large fleet, in the hope that the exploration would revitalize the Ha'ni state and provide her with the opportunity to replace particularly xenophobic officials with more moderate Ha'ni. A force of over three hundred Ha'ni vessels, including one hundred and fifty scout frigates, thirty mid-sized exploration vessels, over one hundred battlecruisers, and several dreadnoughts equipped with light-focusing planet killer weapons, entered the Vorn system in early 2412, annihilating a Borg Collective strike force and installation in seconds. The supreme commander of the Ha'ni military, High Admiral ty'Lea Warat, a fanatical Ha'ni supremacist, then attacked and destroyed a Starfleet strike force that had been engaging the Borg, violating several Ha'ni military protocols and direct orders in the process.

High Admiral Warat was confined to the brig of the Ha'ni command ship for several days, in which time the Ha'ni fleet was attacked by another Borg Collective force and what appears to have been an Iconian fleet, both of which were defeated in seconds by Ha'ni weapons and planet killers. Ha'ni scientists under the command of Captain Ar'tana Nivat scavenged the wreckage and recovered Borg shield emitters, possibly in addition to other technology.

UFP response.

Starfleet Command ordered a four-ship task force led by Vice Admiral Alec Hammond to negotiate with the Ha'ni and find an acceptable solution. Admiral Jorel Quinn insisted on assigning his personal "fixer", Nemesis unit designation Three, to the situation due in part to her prior experience with the Ha'ni or another timeline. To counterbalance Three's well-known and self-admitted psychosis, Admirals Jac Chelliss and Kathryn Janeway (herself beset by allegations of psychosis and war crimes) suggested the assignment of Captains Ael t'Kazanak and Adam Pearson to the task force.

Arriving in the Vorn system, the task force entered into a formal cease-fire with High Suzerain Rugon, who wished to give the "mammalian" forces the opportunity to flee the galaxy before what she saw as the inevitable Ha'ni conquest. The revelation that the Ha'ni offer of unconditional surrender was actually an unprecedented "gift" caused consternation among the task force members, and enraged High Admiral Warat, a religious and xenophobic fanatic who wanted to "cleanse" all potential universes of non-Ha'ni.

Treachery and attack on Earth.

After meeting with Admiral Hammond and Pentaxian ambassador S'rR's, Rugon declared a temporary recess of negotiations. While the task force discussed the situation, Rugon was murdered treacherously by High Admiral Warat, who declared herself High Suzerain. Faced with a dearth of suitable candidates, Warat was forced to name Ar'tana Nivat as a High Admiral.

Warat then invited Admiral Hammond and Ambassador S'rR's back to the command ship for further negotiations; unit designation Three and Commander Pok Raban went as bodyguards.

The "further negotiations" were a sham, however, and Warat ordered her most loyal troops to kill the Starfleet agents after tearing Admiral Hammond apart with her bare hands. After the survivors beamed out, Warat fired on the USS Concordia, killing Captain Pearson and all aboard instantly, then opened a wormhole in order to attack Earth.

This breach of the cease-fire constituted an unforgivable act of barbarism to the Ha'ni, and High Admiral Nivat declared a formal alliance with the Vanguard, the only surviving, combat-ready ship of the task force. Meanwhile, Warat destroyed Earth Spacedock and prepared for a planet-killer strike on Earth.

Assisted by the Vanguard and Klingon Ambassador Worf's bird-of-prey, the Hegh Da, and using a scavenged Borg shield emitter as a barrier field generator, Nivat's ship managed to stop the command ship and disable its planet killers. Assisted by Ambassador S'rR's, unit designation Three, and Commander Pok Raban, High Admiral Nivat boarded the command ship and killed High Suzerain Warat, then declared herself supreme leader of the Ha'ni.

Aftermath.

The Ha'ni invasion incident is currently considered to be a draw by the United Federation of Planets. While a considerable number of Borg, Elachi, and Iconian vessels were destroyed by the Ha'ni, the loss of Earth Spacedock for the second time in two years, not to mention four fully-crewed warships and the command experience of Vice Admiral Hammond, constitutes a major loss for the UFP.

The Ha'ni retreated completely to their universe, with the sole exception of a zin-caste researcher, S'lin Ta'kat, currently stationed on the USS Patagonia as chief science officer. High Minister Nivat officially promised that no Ha'ni military personnel or starships will enter our universe for a century, in the same peace ceremony in which she declared Ambassador Worf a civilized being legally equal to a Ha'ni.

Starfleet Command has attempted to interview zin Ta'kat about Ha'ni technology, but so far she appears to be operating under a Prime Directive-like requirement to not share her native technology. Captain Ael t'Kazanak, Commander Pok Raban, and Ambassador S'rR's were awarded medals of valor by Starfleet Command, and Vice Admiral Hammond was ordered a posthumous Picard Medal for exemplary conduct above and beyond the call of duty.

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Captain
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4,147
LC 42 Redux: I Am the Legacy of Romulus

A Day on the Farm
Part One of Four

It was hot. Damn hot.

Not unseasonably hot for Virinat’s southern hemisphere in early January, understand, but hot enough you don’t want to be out in it unless you have to be.

Morgan t’Thavrau had to be. It was late in the growing season, almost time for the harvest. The satla and kheh, analogs to Terran wheat and rye or so Morgan had been told, weren’t going to irrigate themselves, and she couldn’t handle the irrigation without being out on the tractor. And she couldn’t be out on the tractor if the Elements-damned thing broke down on her on the other side of her 230 hectares. It was hot enough that she’d probably end up with heatstroke if she had to hike back to the house.

And that meant a trip down to the garage.

Morgan parked the tractor under the overhang, cut the power, and hopped down, taking off her hat and wiping her sun-browned brow on her sleeve. Luckily they had a strong wind coming off Mount Hyjal today so it was cool in the shade. “Alatra!” she shouted into the machine shop. “Get out here!”

“Alatra’s out sick,” came a gravelly baritone voice from inside and old D’Vex tr’Hllauyin came out, wiping his hands on a rag.

“Morning sickness again?”

D’Vex nodded. “Mm-hm.”

“What’s she on now, number five?”

He nodded again. “Mm-hm.”

“She sure didn’t waste any time.”

“No, she didn’t. What’s the problem?”

“The blinkenlights are coming on.”

“The—” D’Vex gave an angry grunt and glared at her. “Could you be any less specific?”

“Hey, I’m a farmer, not a mechanic. I can change the lube and the brake pads; that’s about it. It’s the ‘check engine’ light, same as the last five times.”

The older Rihanha gave a heavy sigh. “All right, let me have a look.” He grabbed the railing and hopped up into the saddle. Morgan tossed him the keyfob and he slid it into the ignition. “Thought as much. It’s that number two fuel cell again. I keep telling you to get that thing replaced.”

“Well, if I replaced it I wouldn’t get to see your shining face every other week, now would I?”

“Flattery’ll get you nowhere, Morgan. If you had any more Earth in you, you wouldn’t be able to move.” D’Vex hopped down off the tractor and opened the engine compartment.

“Well, I have to have Earth in me, I’m a farmer. Seriously though, I’ve ordered the part but it won’t get here until two weeks from now at the earliest.”

“Where in the name of Fire did you order it from? Eight-mil hyperspanner.”

Morgan grabbed the tool off a nearby workbench and put it in D’Vex’s hand. “Crateris.”

“Ow! Crateris? You ordered Havran?”

Morgan looked at the back of his head. “You got a problem with Havrannsu, D’Vex?”

“Hrmph, I’m old-fashioned. Bloody goblins are all right but I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one.”

“Be that as it may, I order Havran, I know it’ll work. They know their machinery.”

“How’d you afford the shipping? Last season’s tomatoes weren’t exactly anything to write home about.” As much as they tended to scorn anything not Rihan in origin, the Rihannsu had developed a definite taste for the Terrhain vegetable when the trade embargos were briefly lifted during the Dominion War.

“Well, you know Pel, that Feh’renga who runs the spaceport in Ahalris? She owed me a favor from about a dozen years back. Before you and Malem turned up in that old T’liss of yours.”

“You just better hope the part’s compatible with the old girl. This tractor’s had so many parts replaced on it I think the only original piece is the chassis.” He slammed the access panel closed. “Try it now.”

Morgan clambered into the saddle and hit the ignition. No harmonics, no blinkenlights, just the familiar reassuring thrum and whir of the fuel cells and gearbox. “Thanks again.”

“That’s six you owe me, t’Thavrau. You planning on paying me back anytime soon?”

“Just as soon as we get the harvest in, then we can crack a barrel of the ale from last year. My treat.”

“Oh, no, no, no,” D’Vex said, waggling his finger. “You’re not getting off that easy, young lady. I’ve worked hard enough keeping that tractor of yours running this season I deserve the good stuff.”

“Wine from ’04? I’ve still got a few bottles left.”

He nodded. “Ie. It’s a plan.”

“All right, then. I have to get those crops watered in the south field or they might catch fire if it gets any hotter out here.”

“The aithaen vr’faeoh says it’ll cool off later in the afternoon. It’ll probably even rain tomorrow.”

“The aithaen vr’faeoh says a lot of things. I’ve noticed it tends to be wrong two times out of ten. Y’hhau, D’Vex!” She released the parking brake and hit the accelerator, gunning the tractor out onto the main thoroughfare through i’Haanikh, making a left turn towards her home and her fields.

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

No matter how many modern technological conveniences were applied to it, farming never really got any easier, and Morgan knew she looked older than a Rihanha of forty-nine standard years should have done. Not much older—a few crows’ feet here, a few laugh lines there, a couple touches of silver in her obsidian hair, and the kind of weather-beaten skin that only comes from years of hard labor under a not-always-forgiving sky—but older than she actually was.

But it made her happy. As hard work as it was, she loved growing things, and she loved the land. This far from town on an early autumn day, she felt peaceful, at one with the Elements. Earth was all around her. As dry as it had been this week, Water was still in the Earth, making the lehe’jhme vines in her western pasture fragrantly fruit. The Air was in the cool breeze coming off Mount Hyjal, carrying the scent of the fruit to her nostrils, making her mouth water in anticipation of jams, jellies, and wine. Fire was in the blazing star 141 million kilometers over her head, and though it beat down horribly at midday it was bearable as long as the wind didn’t rob her of her hat.

She loved it all. It made her feel a part of something again. It was a feeling she’d lost in those terrible first years after …

It was just after midday, fourteen-fifty hours by local reckoning, when Morgan finally turned the tractor towards home. Her cottage was Spartan even by Rihan standards, but it was the right size for an unmarried woman and four farmhands. A cool shower, a light lunch of hlai’hwy and cheese, and an afternoon nap in her air-conditioned living room beckoned.

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

First Interlude

The bridge of the warbird is abuzz with activity as a huge ship, over two kilometers long, looms out of the blackness. Dark-colored and shaped like an in’hhui nnea aehallhai, a nightmare fish from the darkest depths of ch’Rihan’s oceans, with dozens of spiny tentacles sweeping forward as no race anyone aboard knew of would ever build their vessels.

“Hail them again, Arrain,” Commander t’Ethian orders.

“Unidentified vessel,” Centurion t’Yalu says into her microphone, “this is the Imperial Warbird Albintian. Identify yourself and state your intentions.” She waits. “No response, Riov t’Ethian.”

“Keep trying, but remember our priority is to get Fvillhu tr’Chulan and the survivors of the Deihuit across the Outmarches. That ship is 10,000 kilometers out. If they come within 4,000 kilometers you are to assume hostile intent and react accordingly. Amnei’saehne, do you have a firing solution?”

Ie, rekkhai,” the tactical officer, Lieutenant tr’Khellian, confirms.

Ih’hwi’saehne, what’s the status on the rest of the escort we asked for?”

“I don’t think they’re coming. The entire subspace relay network is a mess,” Subcommander Morgaiah t’Thavrau answers. “We haven’t gotten a response from anyone since the USS Nobel two days ago. Barring some miracle, we’re it until—”

Leih,” tr’Khellian interrupts, “target is changing vector. They’re coming straight towards us. Time to intercept, one minute twenty.”

“How long before tr’Chulan’s runabout can go to warp?”

“Two more minutes to repair the warp core.”

“Unidentified vessel has answered the hail,” t’Yalu announces.

“Onscreen.”

The in’hhui nnea aehallhai vanishes from the screen and is replaced with a Rihanha who’s standing too close to the camera. He’s smooth-foreheaded, a recessive trait that still occasionally makes itself known in the Rihan phenotype. T’Thavrau thinks he can’t be older than a century, but he’s shaved bald, with dark eyes filled with bottomless sorrow and rage, and a huge pre-Imperial tattoo of mourning taking up the center of his face. “This is Riov Saeihr t’Ethian of the Imperial Warbird Albintian. Identify yourself, now.”

“Hello, Saeihr, I’m Nero.”

T’Thavrau quickly freezes the image on her console and runs a facial recognition search. Perhaps there is something in the Albintian’s internal records.

And there is. “Riov. Nero ir-Benheris tr’Sihalian, age 69, skipper of Mining Guild vessel Narada. Stationed at … at Hobus.” She can barely bring herself to say the name: The pain is still far too fresh.

Leih tr’Sihalian, what in the name of Fire happened to your ship?”

“A few upgrades. The better to avenge our people with.”

“Missile separation!” tr’Khellian screams.

“Shields up!” t’Ethian barks. “Dorsal disruptors to point defense! Helm, interpose us between that abomination and the Deihuit’s transport, now! Tr’Sihalian, self-destruct your warheads immediately and this incident will be forgotten.”

But the mad Rihanha has vanished from the screen already. T’Thavrau hears the muffled thrum of the old Raptor-class warbird’s dorsal disruptor banks going into rapid fire.

Impact. The noise is deafening and the entire ship bucks. T’Thavrau is thrown from her chair. A console detonates to her right. The ceiling over tr’Khellian’s station shatters and pelts him with debris. A structural member explodes out of the floor and the operations officer vanishes in a fountain of copper-green.

“Returning fire!” tr’Khellian shouts. The wounded warbird wheels and lets fly a salvo of plasma torpedoes.

“Damage report!”

“Dorsal shields at 41 percent!” an uhlan yells. “Hull breaches on decks one through four, casualties unknown! Medical teams responding!”

The plasma torpedoes slam into the leviathan. A few of the huge tentacles snap off but the core of the ship is largely unharmed. The Narada won’t be dissuaded. Another volley of missiles erupts as the two vessels close and trade disruptor fire.

The bulkhead on the left vanishes in a fireball and t’Thavrau, barely back on her feet, is thrown free and slams into the far wall at over eleven meters per second. There’s an ungodly howl as air begins to rush out into space in explosive decompression, taking the screaming t’Yalu with it before the emergency force fields can raise. “We’ve lost main engine power!” tr’Khellian yells.

The pain is incredible.

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

Author's Note: So, we meet my third toon, Morgan t'Thavrau. This story ended up being much longer than I intended so I'm breaking it into four chapters. If any Rihan experts read this I'll accept feedback on the language use (there's a couple spots I constructed my own phrases).

"Aithaen vr'faeoh" is a Romulan phrase I constructed myself from a couple of sources. It's a weather-forecasting computer program (lit. "computer program for rain").

RIS Albintian is one of the random names for Romulan Raptor-class cruisers in Star Trek: Armada II.
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Last edited by starswordc; 06-29-2014 at 01:04 PM. Reason: corrected Rihannsu phrase
Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 497
# 53
06-22-2014, 01:39 PM
LC #45: Freestyle



Adim th'Zarel had a secret, one that he had guarded jealously from his shipmates and friends for quite a long time. It was the sort of secret that could have cost him his rank, his posting, and his self-respect if it had ever come out.

A year ago, when he had first got his commission as Chief Engineer on the Da Vinci, he had been caught in the midst of a terrible accident. It had been a rookie mistake, one that he had been kicking himself over ever since. In the middle of a level 5 diagnostic of the main power converters in Engineering, he had accidentally left the nearby electrical compression grid running. The resulting high-powered discharge had sent thousands of volts running through his body, shorting out his nervous system and leaving him unconscious for an entire day. Thankfully, the incident had been written off as a freak accident, and nothing had blemished his otherwise spotless record. After a day in sickbay, he had gone back on duty with a clean bill of health and a smile on his face.

And he had that clean bill of health because he had lied and cheated to get it. The truth of the matter was while the electric discharge hadn't done any permanent damage, a wider analysis revealed that he was suffering from the initial stages of Zhell Syndrome. A hereditary disease that usually affected Andorians, Zhell Syndrome caused the systematic neural degeneration and atrophy of the body, usually starting in the digits and then working its way up the limbs. Sometimes, if a person was lucky, the degeneration would just leave one limb dead and useless and leave the rest of the body alone. Other times, it caused crippling, body-wide paralysis which left the afflicted person an immobile, drooling vegetable for the rest of their natural life. There was no known cure for the degeneration other than genetic tailoring at birth or a mercy-killing, and it only afflicted one person out one hundred, usually in the later middle ages.

But he had it. By that point, the signs of neural degradation were already visible in his legs, and it would be a matter of weeks before both limbs became weak, numb and useless. Before he was numb, weak and useless.

Zimmerman, the MkV EMH serving in the absence of an actual doctor on the Da Vinci, had recommended that Adim should be removed from active service due to the severity of his condition-- even with the latest in nervous regeneration technology, Zimmerman had said, it looked doubtful if Adim would ever walk again once the atrophy set in, and there was no guaruntee that the degeneration would stop there. But Adim had spent the better part of his life in Starfleet, and he wasn't going to be retired early. And so, he had permanently silenced Zimmerman by coding a block into his program, effectively prohibiting him from ever mentioning the truth of Adim's condition to another living soul.

Adim had gotten by, since then, by jury-rigging a pair of medical leg braces with an auxiliary battery and motor servos, and coupling them with a neural interface to give is legs mobility. This not only got him up and walking again, but it also completed the illusion that there was nothing wrong with him, and that he could walk normally. It wasn't perfect, of course. Even with extensive modification too the leg servos, Adim couldn't run if he wanted to, and from time to time he would suffer intense spasms of lingering nervous trauma in his legs. Zimmerman had always tended to these pains with short-term nervous fixes and medication, forced to keep things a secret by Adim's coding. But despite Zimmerman's constant insistance that he do so, Adim refused to go in for long-term treatment, not wanting to be parted from his duties or his ship. The only alternative was nano-reconstruction, and after witnessing the horrors that the Borg had unleashed on Vega Colony, the last thing Adim wanted was to have a swarm of wriggling nanobots injected into his bloodstream.

Now, though, Adim was on a new ship, with a new doctor on the roster. An actual, flesh-and-blood doctor who could not be programmed into silence. And Adim's first mandatory checkup was today.

He lay flat on his back on a sickbed, his antennae twitching uncomfortably as he waited for someone...anyone...to show up. A nurse had already given him a preliminary antibiotic hypo and told him to wait for the Doctor to arrive. From what Adim knew, all of the medical files and systems from the Da Vinci, including Zimmerman, had been re-uploaded onto the Archimedes. Hopefully, he would get the hologram again, and no one would discover the irregularity in his nervous system. Or, hopefully, whoever was serving as the Archimedes doctor would take the medical files for granted, and follow up on Zimmerman's false recommendations. At the back of his mind, a part of him knew that he should have come clean from the beginning. If it was discovered that he'd been concealing his condition this whole time, it would end his career for good...

"Ah, Lieutenant Commander th'Zarel!" A cheerful voice suddenly exclaimed. "Nice to see that you could make your appointment. How are you feeling today?"

The next thing Adim knew, a tall, matchstick-thin Bolian in a blue Medical uniform stepped into view, a big, friendly smile running perpendicular to the dark ridge that ran from his crown to his chin. Adim's antennae could feel an slight chemical aftertaste of antigens in the man's presence, mingling unpleasantly with the acidic tang of Bolian perspiration. And he was smiling. Adim had to double check that, but yes, this Bolian was actually smiling at him.

Adim blinked. After dealing with Zimmerman's caustic attitude for so long, this doctor's friendliness was off-putting. "Um...good, Doctor..."

"Choll." The Bolian shifted his PADD he had been holding under his arm and shook Adim's hand firmly. "Dr. Velnan Choll, Chief Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Archimedes, pleased to make your acquaintance." Releasing Adim's raised his PADD again and looked over it briefly. "I see you're our new Chief Engineer from the Da Vinci? Fantastic. The warp core hasn't been purring like she used to since Chief Mgembe was transferred, and the replicators have been a bit spotty lately. I'm sure you're the man the Archie needs, and I'm doubly sure you'll love working in our Engineering section." He set the PADD down and added, with a conspiratorial grin and a nudge, "Besides, it's great not to be the only blue-skin aboard, eh?"

"Er..." was all Adim could say in response.

Setting the PADD down, the Doctor pulled a small, thin, metallic object from one of his medical pouches. "By the way," he said, "please open your mouth and say 'aaah.'"

Adim opened his mouth, to ask what the hell was going on. The next thing he knew, the metallic object was rammed into his mouth almost all the way to his tonsils, and began beeping very loudly. "AAAAAAH," he found himself saying, involuntarily.

And with that, Choll took out a medical tricorder and began to scan Adim thoroughly as the thermometer in his mouth beeped. A cold sensation ran up Adim's tongue, and he could have sworn he felt something metallic crawling inside his mouth.

"Hmm...body temperature is about normal, no sign of fever or chill," Choll muttered as he scanned Adim. "Your respiratory system seems to be okay, your circulation is normal, and unless the nanites have developed sentience and a capacity for duplicity, your heart rate is at nice and healthy Andorian levels. Neural emissions, cellular division and toxin levels are all fairly normal as well." The Bolian smiled widely...a smile that suddenly disappeared just as quickly as it came. "Hmm...as for your legs, there shouldn't be any lingering nervous trauma from your accident...hmm, hold that thought..."

Without warning, he pulled another device from a nearby drawer. Before Adim could say anything, Choll pressed it to Adim's knee. There was the quick spark of a minor electrical current, and the Doctor frowned, noting the immobility of Adim's leg. "Hmm, that's not right..."

"I ab meddigal dada..." Adim stammered, the thermometer impeding his speech.

"What?" Quickly, Choll pulled the thermometer free. The crawling sensation subsided, and Adim resisted the urge to spit out.

"I said, I have medical data," Adim said, "from the Da Vinci, regarding my legs. Wasn't it uploaded?"

Choll stared quizically at Adim. "Why yes, it was all uploaded, along with all of the other relevant medical systems," he said. "Why do you ask?"

By way of reply, Adim straightened up in his sickbed and glanced at the nearest panel. "Computer, activate emergency medical hologram!"

In an instant, a familiar, balding Human shape appeared directly next to Choll, staring down expectantly at Adim. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency," the MkV EMH said.

Choll glanced in surprise at Zimmerman, before his brow furrowed. "Ah, of course," he muttered dryly, "I almost forgotten we'd picked up the Da Vinci's EMH as well." He looked at Zimmerman from top to bottom with an analytical gaze. "Outdated program, too."

The words caused Zimmerman to spin around in surprise. "What-- I beg your pardon!" the hologram sputtered.

"Oh, sorry, where are my manners." Choll smiled again, and extended his hand to Zimmerman. "Dr. Velnan Choll, U.S.S. Archimedes."

Zimmerman did not take the extended hand. Instead, he stared incredulously at the Bolian. "Doctor?"

"Well, yes," Choll replied smoothly. "Chief Medical Officer, in fact. I understand that the Da Vinci didn't have a qualified senior medical officer on board, and hence had to make do with your services, Doctor. Rest assured, though, I'm on the case!"

"Zimmerman," Adim cut in, "tell Dr. Choll about my condition."

Choll turned and raised a quizzical eyebrow at Adim. "Zimmerman?"

"A name the crew of the Da Vinci gave me," the EMH said, "in reference to my program's original creator, Dr. Lewis Zimmerman. They felt it...expedient...to give me an actual name and treat me as a physical crew member." Zimmerman folded his arms behind his back professionally and spoke as though in recitation. "Chief th'Zarel has a temporary nervous condition, acquired as a side-effect of Sufflian flu contracted on Starbase 24, which limits his mobility and has caused a slight degree of muscle atrophy. This necessitates the use of the mobile assistance servos that he has attached to his leg. I have been treating it with regular theuronazine injections and physiotherapy, and his problem should sort itself out in a few weeks."

Adim almost breathed a sigh of relief as Zimmerman recited his pre-programmed lie. Choll, however, made no reaction as he turned back to his tricorder. With a sinking feeling, Adim saw that the Bolian was skeptical.

"Hm...an interesting diagnosis, Doctor Zimmerman," he said, "although have you tried any alternatives? Perhaps a bio-receptive cellular regeneration treatment?"

Zimmerman remained silent, gazing stiffly at Choll and then at Adim. A cold sweat broke out on the back of the Andorian's neck when he realized that Zimmerman had only been programmed to give that one excuse, and nothing more. He couldn't lie any more than he had already.

Choll continued to stare at his medical tricorder. "Chief th'Zarel, my scans indicate severe degenerative damage to the saphenous and femoral nerves." He looked up from his tricorder to give Adim a harrowing stare. "A simple flu shouldn't have been that debilitating. Care to explain that?"

Adim fidgeted in his bed. "Well..."

The doctor gave a long sigh, and closed his tricorder. "You're not the first officer to to contract something that would end their career, Chief th'Zarel," he said, "and you're not the first officer to falsify medical records to avoid a discharge. Although I have to hand it to you, you are the first to try to reprogram an EMH to cover it up."

Setting the tricorder down, Choll picked up a PADD and began typing on it. "Come to me tomorrow at about 0800, and I'll see if we can start a regenerative program on your legs. If we start now, we may be able to restore some of your mobility in two months or so, though I can't make any promises."

It took Adim a few seconds to realize he was staring, dumbfounded, at Choll. It took him a few seconds more to realize that the expected doom hadn't come. "What...what is this?" he blurted. "You're...you're not going to discharge me?"

Choll set the PADD down and gave Adim and almost parental look. "While I don't approve of you aggravating your legs further with those servos," he said, "you're this ship's Chief Engineer. We were already on a month-long waiting list after Chief Mgembe was discharged, and this ship needs someone to look after its mechanical needs." He smiled warmly. "You know, the needs of the many, or however that crappy Vulcan saying goes."

Adim was speechless. Sitting upright, he tried to find the words. "I...thanks, Doc," he said. "I owe you one. Really, I do."

Beaming widely, Choll gave Adim a hearty slap on the shoulder. "Always happy to help, Chief!" he replied. He quickly changed his tone as he saw one of the sickbay nurses come in earshot. "Er...come to me tomorrow, and we'll see if that...flu effect is still bothering you."

Nodding, Adim sat up, stretched his legs with a mechanical whine of servos, and stood up. There was still a reflexive tingle of pain near his right kneecap, and both of his feet still felt numb and dead, but strangely, none of that really bothered him anymore.

"Thanks, Doc," he said again, before striding out of Sickbay. His heart was pounding in his chest. The danger had come and passed. He could stop worrying about his career now, he knew, and start worrying about that electro-plasma inhibitor that needed replacing near the secondary containment grid...

As Adim left, Choll turned to the EMH, who had been standing patiently all the while. "So...Zimmerman, huh?"

Zimmerman raised his chin a little. "As I said, the Da Vinci crew found it expedient to give me a name," he said. His chest puffed up a little. "I was, after all, the one who tended to their medical needs for the longest time, and evidently they were pleased enough with my services that they uploaded my program onto the Archimedes."

"Ah." Choll gave Zimmerman a slight smile before turning and sanitizing the thermometer with a nearby matter cycler. "Well, you do understand that all senior medical positions on this ship are already taken. However, since another pair of hands is always nice, I suppose we could take you on as a Nurse."

Zimmerman's face went a simulated shade of beet red. "Nurse? I will have you know, I am fully programmed and qualified for a senior medical position!"

"Oh, its nothing against you or your programming, Dr. Zimmerman," Choll said, "except...well, I'm the ship's doctor, not you."

Zimmerman's mouth gaped for a few seconds before he found the words. "I will not be a nurse!" he protested. "I ought to bring this before the Captain!"

"Oh, I'm sure he'll be happy to know you lied about a patient."

"As did you!" Zimmerman settled down for a bit, and folded his arms behind his back. "Besides, I was reprogrammed. You have no such excuse."

Choll frowned, and folded his arms behind his back in turn. "Hmm, it seems we're at an impasse, then, Doctor."

"Indeed," Zimmerman replied. "An impasse which neither of us can ignore."

The Bolian slumped his shoulders slightly. "Then, perhaps, for the sake of the crew's health, we should put our differences aside, find an amiable solution, and work together to-- computer, deactivate EMH."

Zimmerman's eyes widened. "Why you--" was all he managed to say before he blinked out of existence.

With a satisfied smile, Choll slapped his hands together and looked back at his PADD. "Nurse, could you send in the next patient, please?"
Career Officer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,300

Let go!

Same old situation
Seems it's comin' 'round again
I won't play the fool
I'm not screwin' around
I only play to win

I only want what I deserve
So who are you tryin' to kid?
You can call it
Like you see it
But I call it
Like it is

I'm sick of shruggin' off your petty little ways
The names are always changing
In the end it's just a game

We're runnin' in a circle, never ending chase
You keep on steppin' out of reach
But you won't win the race

(No more) Waitin' around
(No more) Hangin' around
(No more) Draggin' me down
(No more, no more)

(No more) Waitin' around
(No more) Hangin' around
(No more) Draggin' me down
(No more, no more)

Every thing's so easy for you
But I've struggled to get this far
I'm alone in the fight
What's wrong, who's right?
I take it all to heart

Your true colors start to show
You call yourself a friend?
The teams are drawn
You chose your side
You'll get yours in the end

You play along to the same old song
Just as long as you can win
When someone better comes along
You're too cool to let them in

So now I've got you wonderin'
If I've got it in for you
I'd like to tell you different
But I can't because it's true

(No more) Waitin' around
(No more) Hangin' around
(No more) Draggin' me down
(No more, no more)

(No more) Waitin' around
(No more) Hangin' around
(No more) Draggin' me down
(No more, no more)

So now I've got you wonderin'
If I've got it in for you
I'd like to tell you different
But I can't because it's true

Your name here


Davey Havok and Geoff Kresge of AFI - "Your Name Here"



P L A Y . T O . W I N




USS Ray Bradbury, Eta Eridani Sector Block, en route to Otha System - Stardate 68359.94 (2409.05.11.0906)


Lt. Kenzie screamed as the towering Klingon-warrior-turned-Borg-drone seized her neck and readied its assimilation tubules. Pure, undistilled panic overwhelmed her as she stared into the gray face of death.

Then a Romulan tomahawk appeared in the middle of that face, sending the massive drone staggering back... and a small object struck its chest, made a puffing noise, and the drone simply exploded in a spray of circuitry and gore.

The Ferengi tactical officer took several rapid deep breaths and squeaked out, "Is that all of them?"

"END SIMULATION!" a voice snarled from behind her. A Ferengi male stomped past her console and pulled the tomahawk out of the drone's forehead an instant before the hologram faded. "You're useless, cousin!" Lt. Krispen snapped at her, his needle-sharp teeth clacking together. "You could have at least tried to use your rudimentary martial arts training to defend yourself... and you!" He waved the tomahawk at LCdr. Terdiak, the science officer. "Was your phaser actually set to STUN!?"

"Shipboard weapons are supposed to be set to stun by default as a safety measure-" the Betazoid protested.

"Yeah, but when you're shooting at a freaking tactical drone, the recommended setting is Maximum kill."

"Looks to me like you were doing enough maximum killing for all of us," Cmdr. Nanz Downig, the Tellarite first officer remarked. She sat down in the command chair and crossed her legs. "The rest of us barely had to lift a finger. What's the point of a security drill if the security chief is just gonna use it as a chance to show off?"

"Exactly how many different weapons do you carry on a standard duty shift, anyway?" Terdiak wondered.

"I counted nine," announced Starjammer, the android navigator.

"Eight," Krispen told them. "The Honor Guard pulsewave has a built-in grenade launcher... But that's my point! I shouldn't have to defend you all, if you'd just remember basic counter-boarding combat training and not panic like a bunch of lanas rats at the sight of a few drones! Holographic drones, no less!"

"Mr. Krispen," Captain McLain's voice boomed over the intercom. "I will see you in my ready room."

"Yessir!" the security chief said sharply. He folded his tomahawk and returned it to his belt, and turned on his heel and marched to the door in the side of the bridge.

When he was gone, Roos Terdiak looked at Kenzie and said, "Your cousin scares the **** out of me. I'd rather go up against a Borg crossed with a Klingon crossed with a Gorn crossed with a tricobalt bomb than him."

"I'd rather pretend he isn't here at all," Kenzie muttered, straightening her bra top and settling back into her chair.

* * *

Meanwhile, Krispen paced McLain's ready room as he continued to vent. "The crew is dangerously unprepared to handle anything unexpected. We're bound for the middle of a freakin' war zone and they all think we're on a pleasure cruise around Risa - my stupid cousin is actually dressed the part-"

"Lieutenant Kenzie's shipboard attire strikes an appropriate balance between current Starfleet uniform regulations and your people's traditional clothing standard for females," McLain remarked dryly. "I realize you've never been very big on Ferengi traditions, but surely you can appreciate her point of view."

"What she wears is her business," Krispen conceded. "But how she - and the rest of the bridge crew - conduct themselves in boarding combat should be a grave concern to us both."

"Believe me, I'm concerned." McLain reran the replay of the simulation on his wall monitor, watching Krispen move in a blur across the bridge, tearing apart the holodrones with his impressive personal arsenal. "I'm surprised you didn't hit one of them with your Varon-T disruptor."

"I told you, that thing got stolen from me in transit," Krispen grumbled. He froze, and stared at his Captain. "Wait a minute - sir, are you criticizing my performance?"

"Aye. You're a maniac, Krispen," McLain said simply. "I'm not at all surprised the rest of the bridge crew had trouble taking the simulation seriously, watching the way you laid into a bunch of defenseless holograms. Your poor cousin, she was so mesmerized watching you she didn't even see that last drone until it had her by the throat. Nanz was right - you were showing off."

Krispen's usual frown turned into a deep scowl. "I suppose next time I should just kick back and let the crew fend for itself."

"Good idea," McLain nodded. "That way you can save your skills as an Eliminator for something that presents an actual challenge, and we'll get to evaluate how the crew performs without your... help."

Krispen grunted in a tone that indicated respectful agreement. "Will that be all, sir?"

"That's all." McLain watched his security chief leave, and turned to the replicator. "Tea."

As the steaming cup of Earl Grey materialized in the replicator unit, a singular figure garbed up like a 19th century whaling captain materialized on the other side of McLain's desk. "The lad grows more troublesome by the day," Ahab, the ship's AI announced. "Krispen's influence on crew morale continues to deteriorate."

McLain retrieved his teacup and stood. "He just needs to learn his way into his position," he declared. "It can't be an easy transition, going from a professional Eliminator to a Starfleet security chief. But lord knows he's trying. He's sincerely trying."

"He was seconded into Starfleet two years ago on your recommendation, spent eighteen months in the Academy accelerated course and barely passed the final exams and the lieutenant's test, then somehow scraped through advanced security training, and now you've taken him under your wing... why exactly?"

"When I first met Krispen, years ago, I had an instant understanding of him. Here was a man of irreproachable honor, who'd grown weary of eliminating other people's petty problems and longed some nobler purpose." McLain struck a Shakespearian pose. "There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust."

"Well," Ahab said, "let us hope your trust is well-placed."

* * *

Lt. Krispen returned to his quarters to put away his weapons. All he wanted was to keep his ship, his crew, his cousin, and his Captain safe. Why couldn't they understand that? Why couldn't they take him seriously?

He looked over his weapons as he put them away. He'd collected them all from the various contracts he’d completed in his career as an Eliminator. The Honor Guard pulsewave rifle he'd taken from a corrupt Klingon General. He picked up his tomahawk while searching the effects a Romulan mining foreman that his client wanted to cut out. And then there was the throwing knife… he'd earned that one during one of his first contracts, when the FCA hired him to kill his former mentor.

They were more than just tools of his trade - they were memories.

He started to close his cabinet, and his eyes lingered on a box on the bottom shelf. He reached for it, paused, and pulled his hand back. That one... I mustn't remember that one.

He locked the cabinet and stood up, and began planning his next drill. He knew the crew would treat it like a game. As long as they play to win...

.


"I won't try to hide behind the Law if what I stand for is what's Right."

The Masterverse Timeline / Ten Forward Fanfics
Career Officer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,300

I need
Someone
A person to talk to
Someone
To care
To love
Could it be you?
Could it be you?

The situation gets rough
And I start to panic
It's not enough
It's just a habit
Hey, kid, you're sick
Well darling, this is it

You can all just kiss off into the air
Behind my back, I can see them stare
They'll hurt me bad, but I won't mind
They'll hurt me bad; they do it all the time

(Yeah, yeah)
Yeah, they do it all the time
(Yeah, yeah)
They do it all the time
(Do it all the time)
They do it all the time
(Do it all the time)
They do it all the time
Do it all the time

I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record
Oh yeah?
Well don't get so distressed
Did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?

I take one, one, one 'cause you left me
And two, two, two for my family
And three, three, three for my heartache
And four, four, four for my headaches
And five, five, five for my lonely
And six, six, six for my sorrow
And seven, seven, and then n-no tomorrow
And eight, eight, I forget what eight was for
But nine, nine, nine for my lost god
Ten, ten, ten, ten
For everything! Everything! Everything! Everything!

Oh, you can all just kiss off into the air
Behind my back, I can see them stare
They'll hurt me bad, but I won't mind
They'll hurt me bad; they do it all the time

(Yeah, yeah)
Yeah, they do it all the time
(Yeah, yeah)
Yeah, they do it all the time
(Do it all the time)
Do it all the time
(Do it all the time)
Do it all the time-time-time-time-time-time-time-time
(Do it all the time) -time-time-time-time-time-time-time-time-time-time-time
(Do it all the time)
Do it all the time!


Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes - "Kiss Off"


P E R M A N E N T . R E C O R D



Starfleet Academy, Central Quad - Stardate 68728.06 (2391.09.22.1747)


"Holy ****, he killed him!"

"Somebody get a doctor!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-"

"I'm taking medical..."

"Somebody stop him! Restrain him!"

"He's still alive..."

"Get a doctor!"

"Are you ****ing kidding!? I'm not touching the freak-"

"-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-"

"Get an ambulance"

"Look at all the blood..."

"Watch it, that ****'s corrosive..."

"Campus security and medical are on their way..."

"Hey guys, what's going on?"

"-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!"

"The demon-freak almost killed somebody!"


Cadet LaRoca Rusty stood in the center of the ring of frightened young people, staring down at Cadet Koel, who was lying on the duracrete bleeding from several long gashes on his arms and a pair of deep puncture wounds in his chest. I did that, he realized, as his senses returned to him.

The Bolian coughed, and bluish blood trickled from his mouth. Jamie Ritter, the med student, crouched over him worriedly. "I think he punctured one of his lungs!"

"Can you help him?" Rusty asked quietly.

Jamie shook her head. "He needs surgery, and I-" she fell silent and stared up at Rusty.

The Deinon stood very still, letting his claws hang limp, ignoring the burning sensation on his hands and forearms where they were covered with the Bolian's corrosive blood.

Campus Medical arrived first - three EMTs and a grav stretcher. Two of them worked to stabilize Ahnzar Koel while the third checked the other cadets for acid burns. "Let me see your hands," the Saurian paramedic told Rusty.

Rusty knew her. Her name was Luni Uligga - she was a grad student at Starfleet Medical School, and she'd been a TA for Rusty's first aid and combat anatomy courses. "I... I did that," Rusty informed her, not moving his arms.

"Then you probably have blood on your fingers," Luni told him. "Let me see."

Rusty numbly extended his hands for her, and let her wipe the neutralized bluish blood off with a swath of damp gauze she held with forceps.

Security arrived, being led by several cadets all pointing at Rusty. They approached cautiously. "You need to come with us, Cadet," Lt. zh'Thoris announced. Her antennae were pointed right at the Deinon and her right hand rested on her holstered phaser.

"As soon as I'm done treating him," Uligga told the security officer. The Saurian medic produced some bandages and an analgesic cream from her field kit. "Dermal regenerators don't work on scales, so you'll have to keep this wrapped until it heals. It should be okay to remove it in twenty-four hours. Try to keep your hands dry in the meantime."

"Arright," Rusty said listlessly.

Lt. zh'Thoris glanced at the wounded Bolian as he was levitated on the grav stretcher. "Let's go, Cadet," she told Rusty.

He fell in step with the security detail as they led him back to their office. As he walked, he tried to remember what he had done. Koel had been mouthing off, as usual, but he'd gotten more aggressive about trying to get under Rusty's skin. The Bolian had started shouting from across the quad, being egged on by his friends. When Rusty ignored him, he stepped over and started to get physical. Everything after that was a blur.

zh'Thoris opened a door to a holding room. "Have a seat, and wait for me," she told Rusty, before locking the door behind him.

Rusty turned a chair around and sat down, leaning on the backrest with his tail stretched out behind him. He stared at his reflection in what he assumed was a one-way mirror, and tried again to recall his fight with Koel. His nose hurt - had Koel punched him? Or had he struck with his pointed snout to try to make Koel back off? He remembered the wounds he'd made on the Bolian, and he was sure he was just trying to defend himself. But Koel was on his way to surgery and Rusty was in here...

The door opened and zh'Thoris came back in, with stocky Human deputy. "I've reviewed the holovid recordings of the incident and I've talked to the witnesses and I think I know what happened," the Andorian announced as she took the other chair, "but I want to hear your side of it before I make my report to the Commandant. Why did you attack Cadet Koel?"

"I didn't," Rusty said softly. "I was just walkin' back to my dorm, mindin' my own business, when he started shouting at me. I tried to ignore him, but he came over and got in my face." Rusty took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. "I was just defending myself," he told her, more confidently than he felt.

Lt. zh'Thoris checked her PADD. "The holocams showed that he initiated the scuffle - he shoved you and tried several times to punch you before the view was blocked by other cadets who had gathered around to watch. But then the cadets I talked to said that you - quote - 'carved him up' and then jabbed your claws into his chest and it - I'll paraphrase here - 'looked like you wanted to kill him.'"

Rusty snorted. "If I wanted to kill him, I would have," he blurted. He clenched his jaw and tried to explain. "I... I didn't go for his throat, or his spine, or his central nervous system, or sensory organs, or major blood vessels. I don't remember actually trying to puncture his lungs, but I know I didn't try to kill him." He looked at the two long fingers on his left hand, now wrapped together in a bandage. "I woulda gone for his throat, if that were the case."

"Maybe you did, and he blocked you," the Human officer suggested.

Rusty shook his head. "Only a Caitian is quick enough to block me, but they aren't strong enough. Look at recordings of my martial arts classes if you don't believe me."

"I believe you," Lt. zh'Thoris said. "The wounds I saw on Koel's arms are consistent with your story. And as for the chest injury... I do believe you were trying to incapacitate him, not maim or kill him." She stood up. "I'll pass this on to the Commandant. This incident will be marked on your permanent record and you will likely draw a suspension, but given the circumstances and the fact that any form of physical contact with you is bound to draw blood, I think you displayed commendable restraint."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Rusty said, feeling relieved. "And I am sorry for what I did to Koel. I won't let it happen again."

The Andorian nodded. "I will advise Cadet Koel not to press charges, as the evidence clearly shows that he initiated and escalated the confrontation. You'll have to wait here until I review the case with the Commandant, but I expect you'll be allowed to return to your dorm tonight."

"Thank you," Rusty said again. He watched her and her deputy leave, then he slumped over the back of his chair.

It was gonna happen sooner or later, he told himself. Without Jesu around to stand up for you, they'd just keep hurting you until you hurt someone back.

I know. People here are worse than they were at school.

No, not worse. There's just more of them. More aggressive, maybe, but no worse. Remember Suzie Lopez, from first grade? The first one to call you a 'freak'? That hurt bad, then.

I don't mind their words, and I don't mind if they try to get tough. But why does it always have to be me? Why am
I the one they all pick on?

Because you scare them. You're faster, stronger, and better than they are. Of course they'll try to challenge you. And you'd better get used to it, because they'll be doing it all the time-


Rusty shook the voice from his mind. He couldn't control the others, but he could control himself. He could suppress his instincts, resist the urges. I won't harm anyone else.

* * *

They let him go a couple of hours later with orders to report to the Commandant in the morning and to stay out of trouble. Rusty walked back to his dorm. He could feel people staring at him. He could smell their fear and apprehension as he walked through the Academy grounds. He entered the common area, where cadets were playing games or watching HV together. The room fell silent, apart from the entertainment speakers.

They knew what he was, now. They'd all seen or heard what the sixteen-year-old Deinon was capable of doing when provoked. They were all terrified of him.

Rusty ignored them. He went upstairs to his dorm room - a double that he'd moved into with his brother halfway through his freshman year. He'd had the room to himself since Jesu left the Academy.

Jesu had programmed the replicator to make a halfway-decent chicken tortilla soup. Rusty asked the device to make him a bowl, and a glass of Coke. He sat down to eat, and noticed that the sleeves of his jacket had burn marks where they had been spattered by Koel's acidic blood. He pulled it off and stuffed it into the replicator and told it to recycle it.

There was a knock on the door a minute later. Rusty swallowed his mouthful of soup. "Come in?"

The door hissed open for Luni Uligga, the Saurian paramedic. "Hi. I wanted to see how you were doing."

Rusty dropped his spoon, pretended he'd meant to do that, and looked at his hand. "Uh, okay, I guess. It doesn't hurt." He shrugged. "I'm doing better than Koel, I guess."

"Koel won't be bothering you for a while," she said. "He'll be spending a week in the infirmary, and I'm pretty sure he's too afraid of you now start sh*t like that again." She sat down on in the empty chair at his table. "What did he do this time to set you off?"

"Same as always, I guess. I don't remember it too well. Maybe he pushed me too far."

"Hmm. You don't remember the fight itself?"

"Not really," Rusty told her. "I remember he pushed me, and then he swung a punch... and the next thing I knew he was on the ground bleeding."

"Maybe he triggered some sort of blind-fight response," Luni suggested. "Some instinctive defense."

"Maybe," Rusty shrugged. "I'm just glad I stopped when I did. I know I could've killed him. Easily. And that... that scares me, Luni. For me to just... black out like that and start hurting somebody..."

"You stopped before anything really bad happened," Luni tried to assure him, "and I don't think anyone else will mess with you and risk a trip to the infirmary."

"I hope you're right."

Luni got up and looked at a holocap Rusty had on his desk - a picture of Jesu on their father's boat, with Uncle Ricky, trying to release a six-foot blue shark that Jesu had accidentally caught. Rusty hadn't been there. He was afraid of the deep water. But he liked the picture.

"How is your brother?" Luni asked.

"Okay, I guess. I haven't talked to him much since he started working."

"You miss him?"

Rusty nodded. "Yeah."

"You should call him. Or visit sometime. Ganymede isn't too far away."

Rusty sighed. "I know."

"Well..." Luni put the holocap down. "If you need someone to talk to... or anything, well... I'm here for you."

Rusty gave her a little smile. "Thanks, Luni. And thanks for checking on me."

"Sure, Rusty. Well, I'd better get to my studies... take care of yourself, kid."

Rusty watched her leave. That's what I've been doing. He had another spoonful of soup, but it started to get cold. He carried the bowl to the replicator and recycled it, drank the Coke and lay down on his bed.

He stared at the other bed on the other side of the room - the one that had belonged to his brother. He lay there thinking about his brother for almost an hour. Then he got up and went to the bathroom.

The hypo was waiting for him in the cabinet. The voices he heard, the memories of his brother, the gnawing feelings of fear and loneliness - the hypo took them all away and replaced them with sleep.

He injected himself, undressed, and lay down in his bed to wait for morning.


"I won't try to hide behind the Law if what I stand for is what's Right."

The Masterverse Timeline / Ten Forward Fanfics

Last edited by sander233; 07-25-2014 at 12:07 AM.
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