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Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges!

Today we start the two-week run of the sixty-third Literary Challenge: Nightmare Anomaly with a big thank you to user Aten66 for suggesting this topic in the player submitted suggestion thread. We hope to frighten and delight you Aten66
Nightmare Anomaly

On an exploration mission into unknown space, you and your crew have stumbled upon and been caught in an uncatalogued, unusual anomaly that reaches into a theorized previously unknown layer of subspace that cannot be entered by physical matter. Exposure to this phenomena though has been causing hallucinations and nightmares to occur to your crewmen, with the exception of Photonics and Androids among your crew. Write a log of how your crew dealt with these nightmares, and how you either made this anomaly safe, or possibly closed this anomaly so it would harm no one else.
This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
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Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,099
# 2
04-29-2014, 08:57 PM
D'trel ir'Aehallah tr'Rihannsu dreamed of her love.

Adani was a beautiful woman. Light brunette hair, hawkish face with faint forehead ridges, brown eyes that sparkled with mirth.

She stood there, by the falls, the sun shining. The day they had first met. The day D'trel had known that no matter how much the Unificationists were persecuted, no matter how many sewers she had to hide in, how many places she had to flee from, that her life would be happy.

She smiled coyly, blushing a little, and beckoned D'trel closer. D'trel felt herself weeping softly.

And then it was black around them, and faceless shapes in Tal Shiar uniforms had grabbed Adani, and fungoid things wearing the faces of D'trel's friends from Virinat were holding her down, and the Tal Shiar were cutting Adani, and she was still smiling, that smile that had been the last D'trel had seen of her love as she slid down the escape chute, and then...

Hakeev was there, smiling cruelly. His face the scarred mess that D'trel would always remember him as, before D'trel and that psychotic Federation agent had tortured him to death. His eyes glowed red, and his lips parted slightly. His grin was evil made flesh.

D'trel screamed, an incoherent mix of rage, hate, fear, and loss, and...awoke.

A four-man security team broke through the door to her quarters. D'trel realized dimly that she was still screaming, tears running down her face.

Then Subcommander Daysnur hit her with a psychic pulse, and everything went dark.
---------------
"Second," said First Omek'ti'kallan. "What in the name of the loathsome Criminal One is going on?"

"Criminal One?" inquired Daysnur. "And the Admiral had a bad nightmare. She's still incoherent. I can't even make much sense of her thoughts, but there's a LOT of rage and hate in there. I'd advise her confined to Sickbay until we figure out what the hell we're stuck in and get out of here."

"The Criminal One is the loathsome Quark, who dared defy Glorious Odo'ital," said Omek'ti'kallan. "I had a nightmare during my last sleep cycle in which he tormented me with offers of latinum to betray Glorious Odo'ital."

Daysnur snickered, then cut off with a sharp sideways jerk of his head. "Wait a minute...nightmares. I had a really creepy dream about being eaten by a saber bear last night...and Jak woke up in a cold sweat, said that he had seen me dismembered by Orion goons in front of him..."

"You think that these nightmares are..."

"Linked? You bet. I'm a trained mindhound, I know when to trust my gut. Get the crew together, anyone who hasn't had a nightmare reports straight to me. Jak and I'll try to get the engines back online in the meantime."
-------------
Eight hours later.

"None?"

"Not one, Second. No one has had any dreams other than nightmares ever since we became trapped here."

"Alzheimer's," swore Daysnur. "Damn subspace thingummies. Right, our first priority is getting out of here. Medication didn't work, as Subcommander Viasa can tell you. The Admiral's still incoherent. She slept for a few minutes, but woke up screaming about Hakeev and blood and Adani. Please don't mention that, by the way."

"I swear by the glorious might of Glorious Odo'ital, that not even the Criminal One himself could wrench this secret from my lips."

"Great." Daysnur sighed, and grabbed a mug of bloodwine. Klingon drinks were always the best. "Jak and I will work with Nelen Exil and the sci guys. Talk later."
--------------
Sixteen hours later.

"What are our options?"

Jak's voice was uncharacteristically hollow and emotionless. Daysnur squeezed his hand reassuringly.

"Well," said Subcommander Exil, his headcrest bobbing slightly with exhaustion and nerves, "we seem to be caught in some sort of subspace web that's linked to fluidic space, according to the Astrometrics team. The fluidic conduit is exposing us to warped and amplified Undine telepathic transmissions, which seems to be causing the nightmares. It's a lower-dimensional web, folded in a fractal pattern, giving it approximately 2.5 spatial dimensions and .8 of a temporal dimension. It's really a fascinating phenomenon, even for a specialist in a different area such as myself..."

"How do we get out?" asked Daysnur.

"Sublieutenant tr'Dalen suggested a tachyon pulse coupled with an antimatter release, but such a tactic is extremely dangerous; if we are wrong about the exact dimensions of the fractal web, then we could end up pasted across six or seven dimensions of normal space."

"Which is a bad thing?"

The Voth gave Daysnur a look.

"We'd be reduced to subatomic jelly and spread across several spatial and temporal dimensions like butter on toast. Of COURSE that's a bad thing."

"Are there any other options?"

"We could try to go to warp..."

"Can't. We might be able to make a tachyon pulse and antimatter release, but that'd tax the emergency batteries, and this fractal matrix thingy is sucking the core dry." Daysnur rubbed his eyes. Sleep deprivation was starting to get to him. He was beginning to accidentally pick up fragments of thought from the others.

"Then sir? I honestly believe that our best chance is the tachyon/antimatter burst."

"What are our chances?" asked Jak.

"Fifty percent. If we're lucky."

Jak looked at Daysnur. Daysnur dug his claws into his forehead scales.

"The Admiral's getting worse, and Viasa's had five crew members check in with early-stage psychosis symptoms. We're all going to go insane if we stay here much longer. Every time we sleep, nothing but nightmares..."

Omek rumbled softly as he spoke.

"As First of this ship, I authorize this action. We shall use the tachyon pulse and antimatter burst to escape this trap of the damned Quark. Victory is life! Praise Odo'ital!"

"You heard the First," said Daysnur with a bit of a grin. "Let's do this!"
-------------
Twenty minutes later.

"Tachyon pulse, ready!" shouted Subcommander Zel through xir refrigerator suit.

"Antimatter spread ready to fire, synching to tachyon pulse," said Nelen Exil. First Omek'ti'kallan gripped his armrest tightly, reciting a prayer to Odo'ital under his breath.

"..by the grace of Odo'ital, let us regain our lives this day..."

"Antimatter spread synched!" shouted the Voth. "Ready to fire!"

"Looks like we're all set," said Daysnur over the intercom. "Omek, I'm watching the Admiral. Jak's got Engineering under control. Fire when ready."

"Fire," said First Omek'ti'kallan with absolute conviction.

There was a loud bang, a burst of light off to the side of the viewscreen, and space stretched...

And snapped back into place like a rubber band. First Omek'ti'kallan found himself flying. And then black.
----------
First Omek'ti'kallan awoke from the first reassuringly dreamless sleep he had had in over two days to a strange tingling in his legs, as if he were embedded in a bridge console. He looked down, and discovered that this was because he was embedded in a bridge console.

"Praise...ow!...Odo'ital!" Omek pulled himself out of the console. The Vengeance really did need better restraining harnesses. These bargain-basement ones broke far too easily.

"Second, report!"

"Oooowww...fricking harnesses...oh, hey, Omek. The Admiral's OK, seems to have quieted down. Her mind's quiet, looks like she's asleep. No dream spikes yet. I'll tell you if anything happens."

"Good. Zel, hail the Republic. Engineering, are we stable?"

"Singularity core is back online," said Jak over the intercom. We'll be warp-capable in five minutes. Astrometrics just sent me some data, looks like that rift's closed for good."

"Good," said First Omek'ti'kallan. "When you have the warp drive online, set a course for Mol'Rihan, warp six."
--------------
D'trel ir'Aehallah tr'Rihannsu dreamed of a picnic.

It was just her, and Adani, with a bunch of Klingon honor guards a respectful distance away, in a glade on Mol'Rihan. Adani looked older, worn, but radiantly happy. She had one hand behind D'trel's back, supporting her. D'trel couldn't seem to move her lower body, but Adani was smiling at her, and the sun was warm, and a family of cute little driclae were rooting around by a little tree stump, and a number of hulking Klingons were looking at the Romulan pair with something akin to awe and a lot of whispers, and that beautiful smile...

Adani ruffled D'trel's hair slightly, then moved in for a kiss. D'trel found herself crying. It all felt so real...
---------------
Daysnur leaned back with a sigh. She was dreaming. And a good dream, by the feel of it. Tears of happiness. Mammals were so strange.

The Lethean mindhound kicked back in the recliner and popped the cork on a bottle of Chateau Picard 2407. It had been an eventful couple of days. Time to get drunk and then pass out for the night.

Damn, that was good wine. Picard Vineyards. Worth the price, even for something as posh as the 2407. Only available through Republic officer exchange for a KDF member like Daysnur. But damn, it was good wine.
Founder and Grand Vizier of the Sovereign Ba'al joke. Hail Ba'al!
My official eternal issue: Why no muscle definition slider? Let's have some equal-opportunity sexiness, Cryptic!
PWE: NO to mandatory ARC! At least make it optional!

Last edited by worffan101; 04-30-2014 at 06:22 AM. Reason: Typo fixes...
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,249
# 3
04-30-2014, 02:17 PM
Ael screamed as the deck convulsed beneath her, throwing her against a bulkhead, to collapse in a heap on the floor. She tried to push herself up, but the deck of the IRSS Ralaar'nevnilai shook mightily again, and she flew across the corridor, slamming her forehead into a railing and drawing blood. She howled again, before feeling strong hands under her arms, lifting and cradling her.

"Let me see," commanded the reassuring voice of her uncle Salis.

"I want Mother," Ael wailed as the distinguished man ran an expert gaze over his niece's injury, prizing her left eye open with a thumb to check her pupil reaction.

"No concussion," he remarked gratefully as the ship rolled again. "But, you should be in your bunk. Your parents are busy cataloguing and recording something very important -- possibly the most important and terrible thing to ever happen to our people. They cannot leave their posts just because you could not do as you were told."

The survey ship convulsed again, this time with enough force to drive Salis to his knee, but he kept hold of Ael, he did not let her fall.

"Wh... What's happening?" she demanded, clinging to her uncle's neck. No longer the cries of a frightened child, but the authoritative tone of one born to command.

Steadying himself with his free hand, Salis moved towards a sealed observation port, and tabbed the control to lower the blast shield.

Ael looked out, recognising at once the constellations, and the locked orbits of ch'Rihan and ch'Havran, then she realised, that all around them, there were ships of all classes, all heading away from ch'Rihan, then she saw something moving towards the planets, almost invisible, noticeable only for how it distorted the stars behind it, until moments later, she saw the planet of her birth torn apart, the once great orb becoming nothing more than asteroids and debris, spiralling away into the night.

***

"...to the bridge, I repeat, Captain to the bridge."

Captain Ael t'Kazanak rolled over in bed and sat up as the sound of Commander Bellic Chanos' voice came through the intercom.

"On my way, Commander," she responded, throwing aside the thin sheet and swinging her legs round to plant her feet firmly on the warm carpet. As she made her way toward her closet, Ael's sensitive ears heard a muffled moan from the adjoining room, and poking her head around the alcove, she saw S'rR's writhing fitfully in her bed, her face drawn into a disturbed expression as if she were having a bad dream.

Unsure what she could do, Ael turned away from her friend, reaching for the new uniform jacket which hung in her closet.

***

"Report," Ael demanded, stifling a yawn as she strode onto the bridge.

"The ship appears to be caught in some kind of gravimetric distortion," replied Chanos as he vacated the command chair. "The source of the distortion would appear to be an artificial structure two thousand kilometers off our starboard bow. All attempts to break free have been unsuccessful."

"Slipstream?" Ael suggested, but the muscular Bolian shook his head.

"The tunnel isn't forming," he replied. "We suspect it's something to do with the field generated by the structure."

"Let me see it," Ael said, but Chanos shook his head.

"I wouldn't recommend it, Captain," he replied. "When we displayed the structure on the view screen, there were some -- extreme reactions to the sight of it."

"Extreme?" Ael was almost afraid to ask.

"Crewman Zho collapsed at his post, Cadet I'K'rR'h began screaming and tried to claw her eyes out before Lieutenant T'Natra could restrain her and apply a nerve pinch, and I'm afraid to say I regurgitated my evening meal."

Ael grimaced, unconsciously looking about for the pile of vomitus.

"Extreme reactions," she agreed.

"That's not all," Chanos continued. "People in sight of the structure via viewports were also disturbed by the sight of it, with varying degrees of reaction, and sickbay has reported an uncommonly high instance of sleep disturbances."

Ael's head cocked in an almost birdlike manner.

"Sleep disturbances?"

"Aye, Captain," the executive officer replied. "Apparently many people have reported unusually vivid and unpleasant dreams. I don't mean to pry, Captain, but given the time..."

Ael nodded.

"Quite alright, Commander," she assured him. "I was asleep, and had a somewhat unpleasant dream of my childhood, of when Romulus was destroyed." She sighed and folded her arms across her chest. "Are there any other ships in the vicinity?"

"As a matter of fact, there are," the Bolian replied, moving toward the tactical console and calling up a real-time map of the area. Ael followed and viewed the results for herself.

"Forty seven ships, all drifting within the vicinity of that structure," she mused. "No life signs, fluctuating power signatures, various ships from various species, and in the case of that old Klingon cruiser, some over a hundred years old. Curiouser and curiouser." Reaching out, she tabbed the intercom. "Senior officers, report to the conference lounge immediately."

***

"...so we definitely can't break free?" Ael pondered.

"Not all the time the distortions from the structure continue," replied Lieutenant Commander Meliden Bowen. "It's not a tractor beam in the conventional sense of something pulling us in and holding us here, it's more like a fly caught in amber. The more we try and push our way out, the more resistance is generated. It doesn't matter if we try to use warp drive or slipstream, run the impulse engines above capacity, or try and coast out on manoeuvring thrusters. Whatever it is that's over there, until it's deactivated, we're stuck."

"The effect on crew morale is already noticeable," T'Reya observed. "Sleep deprivation in itself is a concern, but the reports I have received, some have been left extremely upset by their unconscious experiences, and not truly capable of functioning at an appropriate level due to that ennui. It would be logical to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible."

Ael nodded, and looked about the conference lounge at the strained faces of her officers.

"Has anyone ever heard of anything like this before?" she asked.

"I have," Lieutenant Elyse Fisher said, raising her hand slightly from the glossy tabletop. "When I was at the academy, I read a report of how the Enterprise-D encountered an alien structure which held them in place, and caused the crew to experience bizarre dreams and hallucinations."

"That certainly sounds like what we've encountered," said Commander Brandon Mayer. "What was the nature of the structure? How did the crew resolve the situation?"

"Well, from what I remember, the structure was an alien museum of sorts," Elyse recalled. "It contained a history of a species so radically different to our notions of life, that the contents of the museum were highly disturbing to the humanoid senses, and created near-insanity and incapacitation to anyone directly exposed to it. The structure also generated a field which interfered with the brain waves of most species while unconscious."

"So what did they do?" Ael asked.

"According to the log, Captain Picard allowed Commander Data to be modified to function in the alien environment, whereupon he was able to deactivate the broadcast."

Meliden sighed.

"A pity we don't have any androids on board," she pointed out. "Although it may be possible to reconfigure Claire's input subroutines to allow her to do the same thing."

"Are transporters operational?" Ael asked.

Meliden nodded.

"Absolutely," she confirmed.

"Captain," Elyse said. "From the crew logs regarding their away mission to the artefact, the conditions were reported as highly disorienting and distressing. I would respectfully suggest that an away team would likely be unable to function in any meaningful capacity, such as disabling the field which keeps us here."

Ael frowned slightly, then nodded.

"You're absolutely right, Lieutenant," she realised. "Thank you for your contribution. Does anyone have any other suggestions?"

***


"Mayer! Stow that tray properly, then give me five laps of the parade ground!"

It wasn't worth arguing, so with a full stomach, Brandon Mayer went out into the cool evening, and began to do the laps. He didn't hurry them, and casually made his way back to his dorm room. It wasn't until he opened the door, that he realised that something was terribly wrong. The other cadets in his unit all sat, silent and horrified, as in the middle of the room, a larger, older cadet held another cadet down.

"Hey! What're you doing?!" Mayer yelled, as the rapists cohorts grabbed his arms and pinned him against the wall. "You can't do that!"

"Can't do what?" demanded the upper-classman, as he pulled his pants up. His name was Cecil Bernardez. He held Mayer's face, compressing his cheeks. "Can't come back tomorrow and do you?"

Mayer bit the hand that held him, and took a slap across the face for his trouble, but knew now that his voice would not tremble.

"You could, but unless you killed me, you'd never be safe again..."

Bernardez snorted.

"Heh, you're not my type... Let's go, boys. You know better than to try and jump me, right?"

They left, and Mayer's bunkmates came forwards then. Now they wanted to do something. Ignoring them, Mayer climbed onto his bunk without undressing and lay facing the wall.

***

Awareness shifted, and Mayer realised he was in his quarters aboard the Vanguard, his heart pounding in his chest. It had been years since he'd dreamed about Bernardez. He knew that it was only the influence of the artefact, he knew that what had happened at the academy had been beyond his control, that he could not have done anything to help Ael when Bernardez violated her whilst on a date, and that the nightmare was just his subconscious messing with him, but no matter what the counsellor and his instructors assured him, he still felt as if he could have done more.

Sitting up, he ran his hands through his thick blonde hair, before he felt the mattress move behind him.

"Bad dreams?" Will Mayer asked, somewhat redundantly.

"The academy, and that filthy rapist, Bernardez," Mayer told his husband, standing up and pulling on a black robe and padding to the replicator. "Water, twenty degrees," he said, before gulping down the lukewarm water.

"Has Ael said anything to you about it?"

Mayer shook his head while tabbing the control to duplicate his last order.

"We've been stuck here four days," he said. "I just hope she hasn't been reliving it."

"If she needed to talk to us, she would have done so," Will said. "We've all got it hard at the moment, but you can't take on Ael's burdens as well."

"I'm not just her friend, I'm her executive officer," Mayer pointed out. "Anything that could affect her capacity or judgement becomes my responsibility in ensuring the smooth operation of the ship."

"Come back to bed, Bran," Will sighed. "Working yourself up won't do anything to help your judgement."

Mayer nodded silently and recycled his empty glass.

***

Meliden walked into main engineering, heading towards the warp core, when she saw Lieutenant Commander Heath Fletcher and Lieutenant Todd Mitchell laughing about something

"What the hell's going on?" She demanded. "This is an engine room, not open-mike night at the 602 Club!"

"Chill out, Mel," Fletcher said, slapping Mitchell's shoulder and eyeing her lasciviously. "Looks like you came to party, what've you got in mind?"

Meliden's mouth dropped open. She looked down at herself, and saw scaly blue-grey skin, the secondary chufa between her breasts, and reaching up to her face, felt the heavy corded ridges around her eyes and at the edges of her temples.

"First time I've seen the real you," Fletcher observed. "Is it true what they say about Cardassian women?"

"I... No... I wouldn't know, I'm not Cardassian!" Meliden insisted. "I'm Human, I grew up on Earth!"

"You don't look Human to me..." Fletcher observed casually. Moving closer, he reached out and ran his fingers through Meliden's long dark hair, before letting his hand rest on her shoulder "But you look good..."

***

Meliden came awake with a start, realising that a hand had touched her shoulder.

"Commander, are you alright?" Lieutenant Givi Teva asked, concern clear in her voice as Meliden sat up at her desk and rubbed her eyes, before experimentally touching her forehead.

"I'm fine, Teva, I just dozed off," she replied appreciatively, relieved to feel only the smoothness of her surgically altered features, and the softness of skin re-sequenced to the Human genome, rather than the harsh Cardassian scales she had been trapped in her entire life. "How're the modifications to the deflector array coming along?"

The young Bajoran shrugged her slim shoulders.

"No progress at the moment, but Commander Fletcher's still working on it," she said.

"Six days of this s**t..." Meliden muttered, before grinding her palms into her eye sockets. "No wonder I'm starting to lose it..."


***

T'Reya felt Scolak's hand upon her shoulder, and repressed a shudder, her eyes closing involuntarily.

"It is not the time," she said. "My blood does not burn with the pon farr..."

"I don't care," Scolak hissed petulantly. "You are my wife, you will make yourself available to my desires."

"I will not!" T'Reya screamed, spinning to face Scolak, her face contorted in a feral snarl. "I will not be subjected to your vile abuses and practices any longer!"

The statuette of Khosaar, god of war, was in her hand without recall of grasping it, and she swung it into Scolak's arrogant face. That is not how it happened... some part of her observed as Scolak fell to the floor, and T'Reya beat him mercilessly with the icon, until it ran slick with his emerald blood. She had to hide the body, and began to dig, the desert sand rough, chafing against her fingers, until she had clawed enough of a trench to roll him into.

She became aware of a flickering light behind her, and thinking the security forces had found her, turned with a sigh of resignation. Instead of a patrol shuttle, T'Reya saw a robed figure sitting by a fire. Leaving her grisly task, she moved closer. The figure lifted it's hooded head, allowing the light from the flames to illuminate his face.

"Marcus!" she exclaimed. "But you are dead!"

"In a manner of speaking," he agreed, reaching out to warm his hands by the heat of the fire. "Surely you had not forgotten how our minds once touched."

"Of course not," T'Reya assured him, as she sat beside him so she could share the warmth of the fire. "But surely I cannot be carrying your katra -- only a Master could perform such a feat, and you are-"

"...only Human?" Kane finished, before shaking his head. "No, you do not carry my katra, t'hy'la, merely..." he paused, considering the most suitable words for the esoteric notion. "...a memory of it. Have you ever turned off a monitor, to see an afterimage briefly remaining on the dark screen?

T'Reya nodded silently.

"That is all I am. An echo of the person you once knew," he paused and looked about the darkness of the Forge, the night wind ruffling his hair beneath the large hood of his robe. "Although it is curious how your subconscious has placed me here, hidden in the memories you keep most securely locked away."

T'Reya raised an eyebrow and shrugged, unable to offer any explanation.

"It must be -- intolerable," she murmured.

Kane flexed his fingers, savouring the heat from the flames, before rippling them as if performing one of his ka'athyra exercises.

"I have my fire for warmth and Scolak for company," he said, nodding towards the mounded dirt of the shallow grave. "Although I will admit, his conversation is not what it once was."

Despite her training, T'Reya found herself laughing, before shaking her her head.

"This should not be possible," she insisted, to which the Human who lived as a Vulcan shrugged, before focussing his slate grey eyes upon hers.

"What can I say? It's a kind of magic..."

***

T'Reya opened her eyes, and saw the flame of her meditation lamp had extinguished. She had not fallen asleep while meditating since she was a child, and had to acknowledge that the stresses of the situation were beginning to erode her endurance and she was becoming fatigued.

Seven days of providing a sympathetic ear to the turmoils of the crew had ludicrously swamped her schedule, and she had had to endure recollections of assaults, abuses, Borg attacks, even bed wetting. As a counsellor, she could not simply nod at the right moments and ignore what she heard, she had to engage and empathise, and that meant listening to everything she had been told so she could offer suitable words of comfort and reassurance. But there was no-one who she could confide in and tell her nightmares.

How could she admit to anyone that she had killed Scolak? How could she explain how years of physical and psychological abuse, of being manipulated into severing friendships and the resulting isolation had driven her to the decision to end his life? She was a murderess, and to allow anyone to know that, would be an end to her career, and likely result with incarceration on Vulcan.

Reaching out, T'Reya reignited the flame of her lamp, and closed her eyes again.

"Nash-veh gol'nev bolaya, t'hy'la..." she whispered imploringly in Vuhlkansu. I need help, dear friend...

***

I'sH'd lay beneath A'sh'Rh as she writhed atop him. Leaning forwards, she used a silken scarf to bind his hands above his head. Craning his neck, I'sH'd kissed her breasts as they moved near his face, then A'sh'Rh leant backwards, gyrating and grinding her hips against him. His breath began to come faster, then all of a sudden, she leapt forwards, a slender blade gleaming in her hand, and plunged it down into his neck, again and again she drove the weapon into his chest, until he knew he was dead

***

I'sH'd woke on the reclining couch with a start, his hand automatically gripping the hilt of his honour sword. The situation had become intolerable, and he had been pushed to his limit, waiting while the Federation crew blundered from one attempted plan to another. If he were aboard his old patrol ship, he would have dealt with this immediately like a warrior, not skirted the issue like a coward. Getting to his feet, he lurched towards the door of his quarters, intent on making his case to the captain.

***

"Captain..." Claire said softly, manifesting a holographic avatar beside the command chair.

Ael's head remained lowered, her chin resting on her collar bones, and her posture slumped in her chair as she slept, unable to remain awake any longer.

"Captain!" Claire repeated loudly. She reached out and gently jostled Ael's shoulder, but such was the Romulan woman's fatigue, that she remained asleep.

Claire looked about the bridge, an expression of frustrated concern on her face. Some consoles were manned, but the officers at the posts were far from fit for duty, and all appeared on the verge of collapse.

"Don't worry, Captain," she said. "I'll take care of this now..."

Were Ael awake and in a condition to respond, she would have seen aneasthezine gas billowing from the ventilation systems.

Within fifteen seconds, Claire's internal sensors confirmed that every crew member aboard was unconscious, unlocking command options normally withheld from her.

Reaching out with her industrial tractor emitters, the warship's AI began to pull the alien structure to pieces, tearing away vast sections of hull plating, then gutting everything inside.

Within ten minutes, the structure had been reduced to a free-floating debris cloud, and the ensnaring broadcast had ceased.

Manoeuvring away from the devastation she had caused, Claire launched a volley of tricobalt devices into the heart of the starship graveyard, completely and utterly destroying everything within, and rendering the region safe once more. Finally, while she waited for her crew to regain consciousness, she plotted a course for the nearest starbase, and began to cruise towards it at a leisurely warp seven.

She knew Ael would be unhappy that she had destroyed the artefact, but the safety of her crew had overridden scientific curiosity, and once the crew had become incapacitated by their fatigue, unable to function, it had become her duty to protect them.

Last edited by marcusdkane; 05-02-2014 at 05:01 AM. Reason: Final tweak and tag fixes
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 270
# 4 The past returns
05-01-2014, 02:46 PM
Fighting alongside the Klingons & Romulans, the Federation wages war against the Undine forces at work in the Dyson sphere. Admiral Ray's Deep incursion vessel, the U.S.S. Grungust, was destroyed in battle. Cagalli is ferrying the crew to ESD to be reassigned to another vessel.

Cagalli and Amuro are sitting in the mess hall, recounting the events that transpired during the battle.


"If you were able to take out the planet killers, what happened to the Grungust and half the fleet" Cagalli asked.

"The Voth put in a guest appearance, they brought a few of their - Mathis, its a bit claustrophobic in here. When will I be able to take this armour off?"

"Afraid the armour stuck for until Miss Yeager can build another transporter, laddie. I'll try tae open the visor for ye." Mathis crackled through the intercom.

The visor creaked as the eye plate slid upward, the face guard splitting in two as it ground its way to rest by Amuro's cheeks.

"Ahh, that's a bit better! As I was saying. The Voth decided to launch a counter-offensive against us, they brought in a few of those damned dreadnoughts. Raked engineering with the first shot. Gave the order for everyone to abandon ship, Mathis here ignored that order." Amuro droned, knocking on the armour to provide emphasis.

"Aye laddie. I wisnae aboot tae let yeh go commit suicide." Mathis chimed in.

I figured out where this was going "So you set a collision course while the core was going critical, then busted out of the bridge before impact, hence all the damage to Mathis. Am I right?"

"Yup, drifted around for awhile, latched on to an escape pod, just in-" The lights flickered on and off. I could feel this ship falling out of warp.

I tapped the comm "Bridge, what's going on?"

"Kyosuke here: There's an anomaly messing with the warp field. I dropped us out of warp and your RV linked in to the systems. Its throwing warnings across every console. Message reads Z97."

I turned pale as ice "Cagalli? You look like you've just seen a ghost." Amuro chimed in.

The words barely escaped my lips"I wish. Z97 isn't a warning, its an XN nav point. It's my home planet. It's Mara."

"Shouldn't you be happy? I mean, its home. Don't you want to see your people again?" Amuro asked.

"My people? To them I am a weapon. A defective one at that. Just as the Undine united the Federation and the Klingon Empire; so too did I unite the Barzam and the Geara. Both sides want me as a weapon, but neither side have been able to subdue me. They captured me, took my DNA and tried to make a clone army. I prevented this by destroying every military research site I could find. It lead to me being cast into the abyss. They must have tried to harness its energies for this to happen." I thought out loud. "BRIDGE! Get a message to Char, tell him to hold at maximum transporter range and prepare to beam people off the Dendrobium."

"Message away..." Kyosuke's voice sounded strange as he tailed off.

"Set yellow alert status. I want a full analysis of that rift asap."

"Aye..." Kyosuke closed the channel.

The ship lurched towards the rift. "What the?" I blurted out "Bridge, report!"

"That rift has a massive gravitational field! It's pulling the ship in! There are some preliminary readings of a low level..."

"Low level what? ... Kyosuke! Respond!" I barked down the comm.

"Cagalli... Cagalli" Kyosuke hissed.

'Damn. A low-level hypnotic signal. The Barzam must have located me...' I thought to myself.

"What's your play, Caaaagaaaalliiiii" Amuro fell into the same hissing as Kyosuke.

I heard my combadge chirp again, I near crushed it while leaping out of my seat "Cagalli."

I heard the metallic tones of Fat Ram Dos "Radiation from anomaly has penetrated the ship, reading low-level hypnotic suggestion on the subspace band. Have had to flood bridge with anestizine gas as crew attempted to widen the anomaly."

"Right." I said. "Fat: Secure all ship functions to yours and my access code only. Begin beaming everyone into the saucer section, separate and head for the Ra Cailum. Mathis!" I began barking out orders.

"I, milady!" Mathis crackled.

"Seal Amuro in, knock him out and make sure he stays unconscious. Can't have him overriding the lockouts." I said.

"Aye." Mathis buzzed, the comm systems failing. "Just what are you aboot tae do?"

"I'm about to scuttle the Dendrobium, to seal that anomaly. Get him out Mathis, that's an order." I scowled at the armour, now controlling the form within.

Not one motion was seen.

"Mathis, I gave you an order." My scowl had turned into a barely masked seething rage.

I left the mess hall, headed for my RV "Computer: Beam all remaining life signs in the secondary hull, and the Mathis armour, into shuttlebay 2. Do not transport myself. Prepare RV for immediate launch. Set course for the rift. Self destruct sequence omega-sigma." I barked out to the air before me.

"Time to end a war..."
Ikuzo, Trombe!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 234
# 5 Nightmare Anomaly
05-01-2014, 07:58 PM
Stardate: 91015.33

Location: Just beyond the Alpha/Beta Quadrant, Towards the Gamma Quadrant.

Captain's Log: Greg Sharvan Son'aire's log.

We've been sent on a patrol mission to look for the sightings of a Terradome reported beyond the Beta Quadrant borders heading towards the Gamma Quadrant, and have so far found no evidence of such a structure being built, though gravimetric distortions seem to be common in this section of space. I've just decided to stop search efforts for the Terradome, if there ever was one, and decided to humor the science team and take the opportunity to scan some unusual spatial anomalies. Hopefully, knowing our luck, that nothing goes wrong, especially this far from know friendly territories, but we have a Voth scientist on our side, as well as two Borg officers who knew the science of the Borg, space physics aside, we should be fine.

********

The Star Breaker was literally motionless among the ever moving field of stars and ever-growing vacuum of space. They were stuck motionless in a field of gravity distortions, and they had very little time to figure out what was going on. Voth science and Borg knowledge had very little information in this area of space, but they could figure out what kind of gravimetric disturbance they were in by comparing known similar events. They were stuck in a fifteen light year gravimetric inversion bubble, warping through the bubble was impossible, for it was what caused they're situation right now, before immobilizing them.

The effect was similar to what an omega molecule would have caused if it was disrupted in the area, but instead of disrupting and destroying subspace, it merely overwhelmed subspace in the area, like overcharging a battery till it begin losing energy. Conventional impulse was not an option to escape either, as the strain would kill the engines long before they could ever escape the field, stranding the crew to death even faster. It was likened to being pushed into an orb of maple syrup, the more energy you tried to put into escaping the syrupy field slowly, the more tired you became until you would succumb to stress and die.

The Voth and Borg officers conferred to him that very soon all of the energy the ship had would begin to bleed out as the ship would begin to be affected by the strain of gravity being put out by the field, and all systems would fail within a month, and the ship would be torn apart within a century. The final part would explain the metal wreckage we had found further into the field, and it was disheartening to find out that others had been stuck and unable to escape in this gravimetric fly trap. For now there was nothing we could do, and I had all my crew up for eighteen hours straight, so I confined them all to rest for now, and start on the problem again in the morning.

********

Gregs' Dream

A young Gregs Son'aire, tired and dirty from a long day of plowing the fields while his father brought their produce and handmade goods into the city to sell, finally sat down, tired yet happy, at the base of his tree, carved with his initials. The yummy and edible bark was bitter to his taste buds, and he reveled in the earthy, rich taste. Suddenly the winds picked up, storm clouds filled the skies above, and then all stilled as the clouds burned away to reveal the huge night sky filled with an innumerable amount of falling stars.

Though he knew it should still be the day cycle, Gregs was amazed that this was happening, an eclipse and star shower that wasn't predicted by the Science Guild, an impossible stellar event, but it soon turned into immeasurable horror as a giant black object started to enter the planets outer atmosphere. A Planet Killer-class device was seen in the night sky, illuminated by the twin suns of their solar systems, and Quirton was close enough in this stellar cycle to be seen with the naked eye. The half decimated, ruins of the twin planet could be seen as meteorite fragments collided with Excrivion's atmosphere and the planet killer.

Sudden shaking, tremors and quakes began to wrack the planet as geo-stationary orbit was lost, volcanic eruptions as plates split were beginning to occur, and the sky was filled with ash. Suddenly finding himself tingling, Gregs found himself, not on his planet, but above it, and found himself in the planet's artificial satellite, and surrounding him was a mix of Excrivians and Quiran people, refugee's from the apocalyptic device ending the normality of their lives. Gregs was all alone, he knew his parent's hadn't been saved in time, and he began to cry as he watched his planet burn.

******

Still sobs echoed in his room as I awoke to darkness, draped in only my sleeping clothes, my bed sheets tossed away in the fear and the nightmare. When my pulse slowed, I stepped up to the replicator, getting a warm glass of milk, and sipped at the glass, as I pondered the dream. The date was nowhere near when I lost my home world, in fact I hadn't feared the planet killer ever since I met the Traveler, and was given a gift in the form of my tree, and a part of my families farm.

It was weird that I had a nightmare related to one of his lesser fears, but I shook it off to the fact only a few days ago I watched the Undine raze ESD and Qo'noS, and that the Iconians had finally revealed themselves to the public eye, not the cloak and dagger puppetry I had witnessed before. Suddenly I had the urge, a tug in the back of my mind, as I realized something was miss in my ship, to go see how the rest of the Senior Staff was, for they were on the same deck as the captain's quarters. I left my room and heard a string of rihan curses coming from a room not two doors down.

*******

Anitara's Nightmare

The young rihannsu girl was struggling against her captor, the wort draes that called himself Tal Shiar. He was more of an obsolete thought of Romulus before it was destroyed, an uncontrolled operative who wasn't really loyal to the now non-existent Romulan Star Empire, but loyal to the Tal Shiar. The man was llaekhnen, a murderer, who had killed her parents and many of the now orphans with whom she had been shoved into cramped quarters with. She was proving to be the most irksome to the man, who was wanting to get his job done and supply his leaders with fresh meat for their 'indoctrination' into the Tal Shiar forces. Of course the girl had then broken his nose, disrupted their warp drive, and caused him to force to land on a backwater planet that wasn't even on the Tal Shiar radar, called Virinat.

She had mistakenly escaped the mans clutches, only to be backed into a cliff face by the man, now wielding an honor blade that he would use to more than likely, slit her throat and end the problem. He had gripped her shoulders now, and was about to kill her, when he instead started to shake her. She was shaken until she thought her head would roll off, and then awoke in a sweat, with her captain shaking her awake. "What, the.." she started to say, before she started to faint from exhaustion, "aehallh."

********

Sickbay

Gregs had picked up the romulan, and got her to sickbay, where a few dozen other crewman where already located, half strewn on beds, leaning against walls, everyone looking tired and exhausted from the previous day trying to break the ship free. Working among them was the EMH mk's one, two, and three, while other photonic crewman like the Hamlet, Gertrude, William, Cornelius, and others, not normally medical personnel, were working instead of the regular medical staff, who were also patients among the crew in the medical bay. "Hamlet, can you have the Cornelius and William to convert Cargo bays one and two into Medical bays for the incoming patients, if we don't do something soon everyone will be incapacitated," said a voice that I recognized as Khor, the photonic MACO Command Hologram, he then recognized Gregs had walked in to sickbay, "Captain, it's good to see your still up and going; is that Anitara, ahh I see, set her down on this empty bed here." Gregs set her down on an empty bed, and went to talk to Khor.

"What is going on Khor, why isn't Ten, Zinuzee, or M'aei in charge of the medical staff, what is even going on?" I ask the tactical photonic officer. He looks grim, then points over two a set of beds and a Borg Regeneration alcove set, where I see all three of the medical personnel laying in pain and agony, like Anitara was when I awoke her.

"They left me in charge, activated the EMH's and gave me a new holographic matrix to upgrade with, holding the combined Federation, Voth, and Borg medical and spatial scientific knowledge to try and find out what could be causing these nightmare's," he says, then opened a P.A.D.D., "From what I've found, and this is only based on theory, there seems to be a form of subspace tied up and entangled with this gravimetric field, it's unreachable by the majority of physical matter and it causes havoc when it's event horizon crosses into our plane of existence; and we've been caught in the event horizon." He opens a file on a computer screen in the sickbay, and pulls up scientific data and charts. "With this new information, I was able to find out that there was something else going on within this field," he says, "This tie-in, it was artificial in nature, and I've found the source some three light years away from our location; it was tricky at first, but I used what tactical knowledge I could and found that what ever is causing this is not only creating this artificial gravity bubble, but is hidden in subspace like the Jenolan Space gate was, and the Solanae research station you found from the New Romulus gateway." He brings up a star chart of the area of space they had crudely mapped before they entered this anomaly, and a point in space was red, marked where this mysterious machine was located. "That Captain, is where we need to go," he says.

********

Nightmare Montage

"You are not Verran Kodo, he does not exist, you are a temporal duplicate of a great saurian who died at the hands of the mammalian forces, Nelen Exil you are not worthy of death, duplicate," the Ministry Elder said, "We sentence you to living death, exiled from Voth society, with the mark of the society you so disdained, any Voth who finds you will have orders to kill you." A long iron rod is pulled from a great furnace that was started at the beginning of this conversation, a branding mark at its tip. Verran was restrained by large armored guards and forced to watch the metal brand of the Voth seal, sear the flesh on his face, branding him an outcast, as he screams and withers in agony.

***

Gar'atadar, the security officer saw the crew slaughtered, it's captain the only remaining man alive to face the threat to their ship. The enemy held the Captain by his throat, and slashed it, killing him instantly. The Jem'Hadar could only grimace at this tunr of events, before a Vorta walked up and put his hand on Gar's shoulders. "Good work First Gar'atadar, you have done well reclaiming this enemy vessel for the Dominion," the Vorta Dathan says, "Victory is life!" This was followed by the squad of Gamma and Alpha Jem'Hadar that had boarded the ship and claimed this vessel, Gar'atadar their new First.

***

Soria Daria, watched as her family and the remaining crew of the Constellation were brutally attacked and punctured by the assimilation tubules of the Borg Drones that had boarded her ship as it fled the Vega Colony. Now only she was left, a scared little girl, wailing for her mom and dad who no longer recognized her, and they came to her, she could see the lights from their ocular implant, their metal appendages clanking as they approached, all ready to assimilate the final member of the crew. She was alone, and that was all she thought of as her once family closed in and assimilated her young form.

***

The cruel Terran Empire logo hung above her head, the judge and executioner, the pitiful jury of her peers, stood and watched the Trill girl, the traitor that was exposed. The man she knew was Gregs on the other side, he was so different here, cruel and no love shown in his eye, a twisted smile on his lips as he held the evidence that would condemn her. The articles of her demise were her own clothes, they had stripped them from her when they found out who she really was, a Federation spy, and forced her to wear the baggy prisoner clothes she now wore. He had showed them how soft she had gotten, how she had gained hope, that she was a traitor who no longer held the ideals of the Terran Empire, foiling their attempts to conquer the other universe. Now here he was again with her own counter part, the unjoined Lexis Zidire, sharpening an axe, and ready to kill her at the judges notice. The Judge was Admiral Quinn, the successor to Smiley O'Brien's foiled rule. She knew she was dead, the moment she was caught, this was all for show, and she was an exhibit, to show any who had hope, that they would all fail in the end.

***

The Orion girl was thrust back into the filthy cage that was her home. She would dream of the times when her sister was kind, not cruel, who had loved her, before their father was killed, and she had turned into a head among the Orion Syndicate, using manipulation, intrigue, and favors to slowly blackmail, kill, and rule the families around her area of control. Deiso once dreamed of being saved by a young man, but when her sister finally found her again, she had that dream ripped from her grasp by her cruel sister. She knew there was nothing she could do about the life she now found herself in, but she hoped one day she could escape, but inside that hope was slowly being chipped away, the forgotten girl who dreamed of the stars, grounded by cruel reality.

***

Densirih Thihr, the only Aenar at the academy this semester, hated to be spoiled by her classmates and academic seniors, all because of her disability, her blindness. She was a natural empath, a gift and a curse when ever she went out beyond her people, like all Aenar, for she could feel the pity, the false sympathy, and the lies they all told her. If they would only treat her like an equal, she could blossom into a better person, not embittered by the way they treated her now.

She was a first year academy cadet, and everyone she met, save fellow andorians, and even then only a few treated her as equals; she was looked down upon as inferior because of her blindness. She was in an assembly, the first day assembly, and felt everyone around her a they all settled down. They invited a few of the first day cadets to introduce themselves, for it was a small class this year, and it came down to her. Suddenly she had a panic attack, she felt everyone as they started to feel sad, disheartened, pity, and other feelings towards her, and it began to crush her, weigh her down, and she felt fear. She felt her curse turn upon her, making her sad, and depressed, how she wished she could just lay down and die.

***

The House of Vagh was no more, and Anar, as he held his younger sister Rani, barely two Earth years old, in his arms, while his father and family was disgraced, basnish from Qo'noS by the high council for treason and helping the enemy. Duras, it would be a name that would burn in his heart in later years, but for now Anar, a little child of seven, was afraid of the menacing figure of the High Council members. He then was afraid, as they all turned back around, grotesquely morphing into Hur'q, the honorless ones baring long and dangerously curved daggers, which they proceeded to plunge itno his remaining family, with only he and his sister remaining alive. Suddenly like feral Targs, they turned with bloody and wicked grins with sharp, jagged teeth to the two children, with Rani wailing at the carnage that occurred, and Anar in a panic. They descended onto the two children, with no mercy.

********

He was alone on the bridge, he was panting heavily, mainly because he had ran through twenty three decks to get to the bridge. Now with some free time he began to lock down the computer system by system, until life support and replicators, locked to one item, were all anyone could access, except with his personal command code. Now he began to set up a recurring warning, deploying probes loaded with subspace relays, all to keep everyone away from this ship. Now he could wait for the others, for he knew they would be coming for him soon, so he chose to spend it in his ready room.

Reaching under his desk, removing one of the various secret panels, he removed a bottle of Romulan Ale, then took a glass and poured himself a drink. Then Zinuzee walked into the room, a P.A.D.D. in her hands. She smiled at him, an innocent smile, and then set the device at his desk. "Captain, have you gone to the bottle again," she says wryly, "I'm sure our bartender will enjoy talking you out of making a poor choice like this again." Suddenly he slams the glass down onto the desk.

"Don't you dare take her image creature," he says, "I know you think I'm fooled by your disguise, but you didn't think I hadn't noticed that you've inserted yourselves; you've probably already killed my whole crew by now." She smiles again, this time not as innocent, and she gets closer, almost brushing her lips to his, but instead pulls away and places her hand on his shoulder.

"We knew you had discovered us, once we figured out you had begun to lock us out," she says, tracing her fingers around his ear, "but it will do you no good now, you'll die like the others Gregs." She shoves him roughly against the wall, the hand on the shoulder pinning him with strength that betraying its feminine form.

"If you kill me, do it to my face," he syas to Zinuzee, "I'd rather die knowing my killers true face, not the face of the one I love." At this she gives a Cheshire grin, her face morphing into grotesque features, inhuman, but totally normal for a specimen of species M-113. The sucker like appendages were revealed, it's grotesque mouth ready to suck the salt from his form. Gregs could only accept his fate, screaming in agony and wracked with pain, as the Salt Vampire drained him dry.

********

He sat on the bridge, panting heavily as the air around him was filled with acidic smoke, it had no effect to the others in the room, though they were photonic life forms. In the few days it took to reach the hidden subspace base, the majority of the crew had begun experiencing auditory or visual hallucinations, mental breakdowns, loss of motor function, and so many other serious physical and mental dangers. The stress to the engines wasn't much, but the consoles inside the ship were smoking and burning up as electrical discharges randomly occurred among the many decks. All non-essential systems were cut, replicator use all but abandoned, and fresh food stocks were being depleted at a good rate.

It was hard for him to think, he had almost no sleep, except for six hours of fitful, nightmare fueled sleep spread out among the days, all necessary for him to function, and it was only with his extreme mental discipline, his own stored energy reserves, and extrasensory power, that kept him saner and functioning at a higher level than the majority of his crewmen, left unaffected by fatigue for now. The energy hadn't begun to affect the photonic crewmen, and so he had begun to activate all holo-emitters he had to use what programs he could to run the ship. Now though, they had reached their goal, and was just about to reveal the culprit behind the mysterious energy field that plagued them all.

*****
(Gregs Pov)

Using an inverse tachyon pulse, we were able to scan, and somehow activate, the base and caused it to come out of subspace into real space. Suddenly struck with vertigo and almost passing out, Khor, now a security hologram again, accompanied me and led me to the transporter, where we were then transported onto the station. Upon being transported in I found that my vertigo, fatigue, it all vanished in the station, meaning some form of shielding was put in place so the inside wouldn't be affected like the outside. Though, I could still feel the prick in the back of my mind, like something was still there.. a presence...still off.

Inside was just as horrific as what had occurred outside, as half preserved skeletons of ancient beings no longer able to be identified, were still laying in the positions when they had died. Some had long ago turned to dust, evidence by dust piles in the shape of bodies. Exploded consoles, old and blackened, littered the floor with shards of unknown components, and what we thought was weapons fire marks, could still be seen on walls or where a few of the bodies lay. It was an eerie atmosphere, and I could only hope that whatever had caused these beings' death, was long gone with the passage of time. I stooped low to exam one of the bodies at a console, the bones were brittle with age, a miracle it hadn't turned to dust like some of the others; and the console I examined it was barely functional, and as far as I could tell, was working on minimal power. Khor, meanwhile, was scanning the surrounding area for working consoles, a computer interface, anyway to deactivate the dangerous field outside, or at least figure out how to combat it.

Suddenly sensing we were no longer alone, I look to see an imposing feminine figure, cast in oily black, adorned with armor of an unknown substance, stood the Iconian from the Jenolan Accords meeting. She just stood there, not moving, not speaking, and it freaked me out. Suddenly shaken to reality by Khor, I realized I was staring at an empty space, and listened to Khor speaking.

"Captain, I think you have to see this," Khor said, removing a film of dust from a console on the far side of the room were in. I approached him and took a look at the console Khor was pointing to. Inscribed into the top of the console was an ancient dialect, unseen for centuries, except in ancient ruins and museums throughout the Federation. While similar to Iconian and a few other ancient dialects, the fire like symbol of the Tkon Empire stood proudly on the console; a race that had died out long before the Iconians had even begun their own conquest.

"Get Out," I heard a feminine voice echo around the area, "Get out and escape, never come back, destroy the station, escape with your lives or die, die like the Servitors you are, succumb to death." I shook my self back to reality, realizing Khor hadn't heard anything, and I feared that even though my fatigue lessened, I must have still begun to hallucinate and fall prey like the remaining crewman. I looked over at the console, but saw the Iconian female again, I was freaked out now, but chose to ignore it, turning my attention back to Khor.

"The Tkon they weren't warriors by trade, maybe when necessary, but they were peaceful explorers by what we've ever found in ruins," I say, "Could this be one of their earlier experiments, perhaps in subspace manipulation gone horribly wrong?" The holo-program merely shook his head, and shrugged, uncertain what it could have once been. Suddenly I found the console we were looking for, a console that explained the experiment that had gone on in this secret, subspace satellite. I began to read, trying to anchor myself into reality.


**********

Quote:
Portal 789 Daily Report:
It's been three solar cycles since the home system has finally decided to go ahead and replace the dying home star with a fresh young star. The [Error Files Corrupted... Initiating Corrective Recovery of Stations Systems...] These will be my final words before the home system attempts the grueling 68 Bida-cycle task of locating and replacing the home star system. Now in a few stellar hours, the star will be replaced with a fresh young one from stellar candidate E-XPK-639, a suitable replacement found nearby where the Young Ones live.

The science guild has reported that the Young Ones won't be affected by their neighboring star being replaced, though their science programs may realize the change in stellar cartography, and they may send an unmanned probe to check this change out.

[Searching for Next Relevant File...]

It's been so long, and we are all that is left. The darkness is warm, and inviting now. We have failed as a people, the home star was transferred out, but something went horribly wrong in the process, the home star went supernova, destroyed the home system with the majority of our civilization and knowledge, and along with it so many of our people in the other outposts have died out in the process. We only were spared because of the fact we were so far from the closer outposts, but not without damage to our station. We can no longer hide within subspace to avoid detection by the Young Ones, and we fear we might contaminate their society if they find us here.

As the last remaining Portal of the Tkon, I Portal 789, have decided to set up gravimetric distortions beyond the station in a radius of seven and a half light years. My goal is to try and reactivate the subspace bubble that would hide us, and for me to go into long sleep, to save what knowledge the Tkon have, and someday spread that knowledge to those who may be of our like, our equals.

I may end my life with this action, I may rupture subspace for light years around, but if it keeps the deadly and ancient secrets of the Tkon from harming other cultures, to keep them from dying... to keep them from abusing it... then so be it.

[End Age of Makto Files... Continue On to More Current Files? YES/NO]

[/Yes
..........

Command Accepted.
Transferring Files.
........
Relevant Files Found. Displaying.
]

I have failed in my attempt to keep the secrets from those who would abuse them, the Young Ones, they have done horrid deeds since I was last awake; they had found many of our dead outposts and reengineered their technology to closely mimic ours. When I awoke, our satellite was boarded by a crew of misguided slaves, wanting to cannibalize our subspace technology for their own use. What I read from these 'Servitors', as they called themselves, was a disturbing revelation. The Young Ones had ecome their gods, and they wished to reclaim our ancient secrets for their masters.

Our Brothers Among the Stars favored the hopeful Young Ones, the ones we were familiar with; they were promising, and after the fall of the Tkon, they were the next promising culture for candidacy to join the Brotherhood. Originally a warlike species, the Young Ones conquered for a time, before coming into an era of peace with the Gifts from the Brothers. While they had turned away from conquering, the damage was done and they had subjected a few dozen worlds to their rule, but then had them as equals under the Young Ones new protectorate rule. Then a small majority began to become corrupted by the Gifts, in turn corrupting their society as a whole, and turning them back into the marauding warlords they had come far from.

Much technologic advancement occurred within a hundred thousand years from the fall of the Tkon, the trans-galactic teleportation the Tkon had created was perfected by the Young Ones, they created large massive spherical constructs, implements of war pioneered to use the ultimate and destructive power of the Omega, able to transport millions of warships to conquer space and instill fear, all based off of the Tkons final, destructive attempt to replace their star, and these spheres were created with the death of a few thousand star systems worth of raw material.

I have killed these 'servitors' of the Young Ones, but find myself fatally wounded; though I find myself at the most impromptu time to die. The subspace barrier has begun to bleed out into the gravimetric bubble I had created, and has entangled reality with subspace; a dangerous mix for all physical life forms. Though this station will hold the effects back for a time, it will eventually fail, and now that I fear my death; the subspace rupture won't keep others out, all will succumb to madness death, and the eventual destruction over eons of time by the slight gravimetric crushing effect. Maybe by destroying the station subspace may untangle itself, but for now I feel myself slipping...perhaps I can keep an echo in the station...a ghost in the machine, but it won't last long... I am already dead... but perhaps I can save others, warn them...[File Ends Here, After 6 Cycles Of No Response, Station Returns To Subspace, Awaiting New Portal From Tkon. Returned to Minimum Power, and Every 600 Cycles, Would Collect Solar Energy to Replenish Reserves.]

**********


Suddenly feeling that prick in the back of my mind returning, this time turning into a pounding, I knew something was wrong. I felt my brain on fire, my own memories then began to flash in my minds eye, as in they were being pulled from my head by an unknown force. Then my head was flooded with disturbing images, this station filled with living beings, I could only assume was Tkon, then flashes of a planet as its star went supernova, a damaged station and only one alien, a female Tkon remaining, then of the station boarded by unknown aliens pillaging the station for its secrets, and then of these same aliens dead in various places, the same Tkon woman wounded and bleeding from her torso, as she recorded her final moments to a blank and fuzzy holo-program typing at the console for the woman. Then of the woman turning to spheres of energy, bonding with the station walls, and the hologram fading to darkness with the remaining working consoles on the station.

I look up from the ground, after realizing I had passed out, to see a figure on the base. No longer do I see a female Iconian, but a female dressed in strange garb, humanoid, and as I realize, she was a female Portal, a living Tkon. She had a gaping, bleeding hole in her side, though no blood poured from the wound. "Get out, before your people die, Gregs Son'aire, destroy the station, and save your people from my failure," she said, "you can save them, you can keep the secrets of the Tkon from those who would abuse it... I need you to do this for me." She pointed to a single console, one neither I nor Khor had scanned yet, and I went to look at the console. A simple console, I notice what may be an interface on the device, similar to the other consoles. Activating it, I bring up the last known action, showing a dictating hologram having shut itself off, a final message it had recorded, and a program that could activate the latent self destruct capabilities of the station.

"Khor, I need you to download what you can off the stations consoles, work as fast as you can, and transfer them to my personal computer," I order my officer. He nods and begins to do so. Several minutes later he had finished the task, while some files had been corrupted with age, he had stored what he could onto the Star Breaker. Satisfied I ordered him to the ship, and then began to activate the stations self destruct, on a timer. Just before beaming myself out, I again saw Portal 789, this time smiling at me, as the world faded to my senses, I found myself on the transporter pad. "Helm, set course for away from here, top speed, I delayed the self destruct, so that we could get far enough away," I say into the combadge, whatever officer who was listening at helm, would follow the order. I chose to go to the bridge, where I could wait to see whether this would solve the problem, or whether we would have worse repercussions follow the stations destruction.

*****

Watching the view screen from the bridge, I observed the station explode in a blinding flash. We were a light year away from the station when the shockwave hit us, the gravimetric anomalies were beginning to disperse, and we found ourselves trapped in a wake, tossing us a few light years away. Khor confirmed subspace in the region was mending itself back together, and that warp travel was now possible again, I told him to set course for DS9 as fast as possible, and had him initiate transwarp speed to shorten the return time. By the time I started to return to my quarters, I found the room started to spin, and felt fatigue set in, prolonged by sheer will, my mind went blank and I slipped into unconsciousness.

***
Pleasant Dreams

I could barely see anything in the darkness, but then a spotlight shone on an empty wooden floor. I tried to look and see where I was, but could only see the light shining from somewhere in the darkness. I looked again at the floor and saw a picnic table where there was none before. A little freaked out, I decided to sit at the table, where food and dining wear was set up, a luncheon for at least ten people, and I realized the picnic table had turned into a royal table fit for kings, queens, and lords and ladies of a grand court.

I looked down and found myself in a kings robe, miraculously finding a scepter in my hand as well, and a bottle of ale in the other. "Mon Capitaine, you seem to be enjoying the feast well," said a voice I recognized as Q. I turned my eyes aside and found that Q sat next to me, and when I turned my eyes back at hearing voices, the table was filled with my bridge crew and senior staff dressed in similar fashion to the table setting and me, and a royal english feast was on the table, even including roast pig, and everyone was in a merry mood and feasting. "I figured with that nasty little experience you all had, I thought I could give you a bit of a gift for all you had to put up with," he says with a coy smile, "that way when you see me next I can really go out on you...he...he..." He sat down, and pulled a hunk of the roasted pig off to eat it. "Mff,gmm, mfffmh, " he says, then swallows the food in his mouth, "Err, as I'm sure you figured out, I am Q, but I'm also sure you figured I could merely be a figment of your unconsciousness". With that he tosses the cleaned off bone into a pile of scraps, and stands up. "Either way captain," he says with a devilish smile reminiscent of his father's, "I believe you earned it, helping Portal 789 to move on..." Q snapped his fingers and in a flash he was gone, but I had already forgot him as the dream continued, and I joined in the revelry and feasting of my crew.


***

Real World

A smile on his face, Gregs Son'aire was set on a makeshift bed in his ready room by the holographic security officer, once again turned into a CMO program, and when he was satisfied he wouldn't awake, Khor left the captain to his pleasant dreams, and took the opportunity to contact DS9. The Federation starship the Tsunami, captained by Greg's friend Hazari, would meet them halfway so they could make it back without incident, while the majority of the Star Breaker could recuperate in peace.

Last edited by aten66; 05-07-2014 at 03:48 PM. Reason: Update 5/6, Semi-final, open for revision
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 20
# 6
05-02-2014, 02:13 PM
"In hindsight", Elizabeth said, giving her eggs a sceptical look, "I can't believe it was only three days. Seems ridiculous."

Kamryn shrugged, tightening her grip around her cup of coffee. "Three days, three weeks, doesn't make it any easier to deal with." she said, looking around the mess hall. Alpha shift, the first proper one not on a skeleton crew and with both Lieutenant junior grade Elizabeth Harper and Ensign Kamryn Banks declared fit and back on duty again, would start in half an hour, and the mood in the mess was subdued, people chatting quietly.

"True." Elizabeth conceded. "At least we're getting some shore leave out of it."

"And mandatory counselling" Kamryn said in a voice that made it very clear what she thought of that.

"Might not be so bad" Elizabeth said after a few moments of pushing her neatly cut up sausage around her plate. Without looking up, she went on, "I mean, I talked to some other people who - ah - relapsed, and they hadn't had therapy in years either, mostly medications when it got really bad, and we were thinking, well, this might be a good time to start again."

Kamryn leant back in her chair, putting her mug down on the table but not letting it go. "That's just the after-effects talking. You forget that this wasn't natural. You didn't relapse, subspace just messed with your brain chemistry."

Elizabeth finally stopped arranging her breakfast in tiny, ketchup-smeared landscapes to frown at her friend and colleague. "Why are you so opposed to this? Everybody's gotta do it."

With tight movements, Kamryn moved her untouched bowl of fruit and her coffee to the side to lean forward with her elbows on the table. "Because" she said, voice an angry whisper "I know exactly how it's going to go. Let's talk about your parents, Ms Banks, oh, are you sure you don't want to try hormones, and how has your temper been? Been there, done that, don't want to do it again."

Elizabeth made a face. "You could ask the Admiral to put in a good word for you?"

Kamryn rolled her eyes, but deflated visibly at Elizabeth's helpless tone. "At this rate, I'll still be repaying her favours by the time I'm ninety."

"Won't we all."

Elizabeth and Kamryn looked up. Lieutenant Ilum Aino and Ensign Yuliana Patel, the gamma shift bridge and conn officers, stood next to their table, dinner trays in hand.

"Good morning!" Elizabeth said, gesturing for them to take the two remaining seats at the table. "How was your shift?"

"Beautiful." Yuliana said with a small smile, "Nothing happened. It's nice when the Mutabor doesn't vibrate like it will break apart any moment."

"It was so boring, in fact," Ilum added while stirring through his soup, "that the Admiral let us leave early."

Elizabeth and Kamryn exchanged a worried glance. "She's back on duty already?" Kamryn asked, reaching for her coffee again.

Ilum nodded. "She's flying the ship right now."

Wide-eyed, Elizabeth looked around the table, trying to express her thoughts on that without being disrespectful towards her commanding officer. Before she could say something less than ideal, Yuliana spoke up. "Doctor Siluur was with her. I think it's her way of coping. But I agree," She paused, looking down at her plate, letting some of her dark hair obscure her face. "she deserves at least a month of doing nothing. When we finally got the ship free, she was - I can still hear - I never imagined I'd see her like this, and I don't want to, ever again."

Silence followed her words. Towards the end of the third day that they had been trapped in the subspace anomaly, Ensign Patel had been the one to fly the Mutabor out - wrenched the ship free, literally. With the rest of the crew having succumbed to the hallucinations and the stress, cooped up in their quarters or drugged and restrained in sickbay and the brig, she'd been alone on the bridge in those last hours with Admiral Roslyn and Crewman Eco, the ship's only liberated Borg crew member. Eco had been least affected by the anomaly, thanks to his nanoprobes, but the Admiral was a different story.

"I heard you did some pretty impressive flying back there" Elizabeth said with a strained smile, in an effort to keep everyone from turning morose. Yuliana blushed, and tried to hide her smile behind one hand.

"I almost broke off a warp nacelle, but thanks. I can't remember how I did it, although I'm pretty sure I mostly did what Admiral Roslyn and Eco told me to." she said.

Kamryn shook her head, brows drawn together in thought. "It's incredible" she said, "She's never been comfortable around him, and with the things we were all seeing... " she trailed off, staring into her coffee.

Ilum put down his spoon, pushing his still full bowl away from him. "I heard Commander Eide recommended him for a promotion. You too," he added with a nod towards Yuliana, who bowed her head again.

Elizabeth sighed. "I guess this is the sort of thing that properly changes people's relationships, even if we all could've done without it... although it does make you appreciate being able to look out of the window and see the stars, instead of the nothingness of subspace... and other things."

There were silent nods around the table, each officer lost in their own thoughts, the memory of what they'd experienced still fresh in their minds and visible on their tired faces.

After a while, Elizabeth and Kamryn got up to make their way to the bridge. Before they left, Elizabeth said to Ilum and Yuliana, "By the way, maybe you can pop into sickbay later. Lieutenant Richter still hasn't improved."

"That's odd," Ilum said with a frown, "I thought his wounds were only superficial?"

Elizabeth shook her head. "It's not that. Apparently he's still hallucinating, badly. Something's left in his head that's hindering his recovery."

Yuliana, wrapping her arms around herself, gave a tense nod. "We'll definitely go see him. Thanks."

x

On the bridge, Kamryn made her way to Ops, and Elizabeth relieved the Admiral at the conn. She looked, the pilot thought, about as bad as Elizabeth herself had felt when she'd been at her worst in the anomaly. Admiral Roslyn's eyes were blood-shot and had dark rings under them, and the spots running down her temple and neck were so pale they were almost invisible. Doctor Siluur, who was keeping a very strict eye on the Admiral, on the other hand looked way too fresh for someone who'd spend three days in a coma, even for a Vulcan. But despite that, Admiral Roslyn still took a few minutes to speak to Elizabeth, joking quietly with her before finally leaving with a smile.

x

Admiral's log, supplementary.

Recommended for promotions:
Ensign Yuliana Patel:
incredibly level-headed, managed to stay lucid longer than anyone else, showed admirable willpower and determination under extreme pressure, had no idea she could fly like that
Specialist second class Ali Volkov:
v. good initiative, performed well above expectations outside of training, would make a good team/department leader
Crewman Eco (formerly --):
exceeded all my expectations, probably just passed like five recovery stages within a week, social capabilities have improved dr


The ship lurched violently, causing Joanne to drop the PADD she'd been using on her forehead, blunt corner first, and almost fell off the sofa. Somewhere, an alarm was going off, growing louder by the second.

Joanne swore quietly, rubbing the growing bruise on her head. As if her headache hadn't been bad enough already, now she also felt like someone had tried to wake her up from a deep sleep by pulling on her eyeballs.

A tremor ran through the ship, and Joanne pulled herself up on the sofa to look out of the windows to see if they were being attacked.

There was another tremor, almost as if the Mutabor was scraping up against something.

Outside, the stars flickered, and disappeared.

Last edited by jonnaroslyn; 05-03-2014 at 01:15 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 942
# 7
05-03-2014, 06:13 PM
The sun blazed over a frozen Celtus III day. High Noon, and that meant this was the safest time to move. The packs of men tried to keep out of the sun, attacking at night. Women, children and those who were not fighters knew to barricade themselves in at those times. Trouble was, most of the buildings had fallen into a poor state. Walls crumbled, doors were missing and windows were smashed. This meant the places where the vulnerable gathered at night to stay safe together was often targeted by large packs working together. The young girl knew this, and stayed alone. It was better this way. She wouldn't have to share any food she found anyway.



Jenna Jones crouched behind a wooden box, shivering in the snow, her rags barely keeping her warm, as she shielded her eyes, looking down the street. She couldn't see anyone in the ruins. Nearby was a bakery. They were usually good for finding food. Sometimes people would fire up the old ovens and bake some bread. If they got distracted, they'd have to flee, leaving the bread behind. As her stomach grumbled in protest, Jenna hoped this would be the case here. It had been nearly three days since she had last eaten. Deciding it was clear, she quickly ran across the street, her holy shoes crunching in the snow. Making it to the door, she dropped down and peered through the window. It looked empty. Damn. Her stomach rumbled again as a wave of dizziness washed over her. Grabbing the door frame to steady herself, she took slow, deep breaths, blinking slowly. Finally she felt ok again. But it was too cold. Her hands were numb and she could feel tingling in her feet. She needed to get into some shelter.


She struggled to push open the door, falling inside as the hinges gave out and the entire door fell off its hinges. Landing with a bump and a grunt, she rubbed her elbow.
'Come on Jenna. You can do it. Just move off the door. That's what Mum would want.'

Every movement was a strain on her. Reaching forward, her right hand grabbed the edge of the door. Heaving herself forward, she slowly began to move. Each time she pulled herself along, the movement became easier, as if her muscles were easing up. Struggling into the rear of the shop, she looked up at the shelves and smiled.

'Oh thank you. Thank you whatever god is out there."

She brought a leg under her, then the other. Heaving herself onto her feet, she stumbled over to the racks of bread. Grabbing the nearest loaf, she gave it a gentle squeeze. Stale. Obviously had been here for some time. It didn't matter. Teeth tore into the dough, tearing it apart. Barely chewing, she wolfed down the entire loaf. Making sure she had every last crumb, she looked back to the shelves. There were another six loaves, enough to last the entire month if she rationed it properly. Her stomach grumbled again, this time in complaint of the food. She fell back against the wall and slid to the ground, holding her belly.

"Ugh. What a way to spend your thirteenth birthday."


Her stomach muscles suddenly tensed up. Without any time to react, she fell forward and vomited. Wiping her mouth clean on the back of her sleeve, she just collapsed back against the wall.

"Stupid. Ate too much too fast. That was far too stupid."


Jenna was fighting to stay awake. Her eyelids grew ever heavier. As she was about to pass out, she thought she could hear a woman's voice whispering. "Fight it Jenna. Just keep fighting."














A loud bang woke her up. Some thugs had broken into the bakery and were searching in the front room. Jenna's heart thumped quickly as she gathered herself together, getting into a kneeling position to make her way out while keeping low. One of the men came into the back room and spotted her instantly. A large hulking figure, there was no way she would be able to fight him off. And the sick grin on his demented and scared face told he knew that too. "Well well. Looky what we got here. Hey, guys! I found breakfast!" He pushed his shoulders out, making himself even bigger as he moved closer. Jenna knew she had to move, but her muscles refused to do so. Fear had frozen her more than the cold ever could. She screamed as the hand reached for her throat. But it fell quickly away as the man slipped on the vomit, crashing onto his back. The woman's voice from before spoke again. "Run Jenna. Get away from here."


Her legs exploded as the guy started to get back up, the rest of the gang smashing through the door. Jenna ran as quickly as she could, grabbing one of the bread loafs on the way past. The back door splintered as she jumped through, the bitter cold biting through to her very core. But it was something she had to ignore. She could hear the gang moving towards her. There was only one thought: Run. Run fast. Run far. And don't look back. The young girl ran as quickly as she could down the street, pushing herself beyond her limits. A sudden bang roared from behind, a blast of warmth lifting her up and throwing her harshly to the ground. Lifting her head up, she looked back to see the back of the bakery ablaze from the explosion. The remains of the gang were scattered across the street. She didn't know who had killed them, or why, but she didn't want to stick around to find out. Grabbing the bread, she picked herself up and ran as fast as she could, not seeing the humanoid hovering high in the sky, angelic wings spread wide.











It had been four days since the bakery. Temperatures had plummeted and it was impossible to move outside. Even the rags she wore did little to keep the cold out. Her right glove had been lost the other day, and as she cowered in an alley, trying desperately to stop her teeth chattering, she kept moving her hand, trying to keep the frostbite away. But it wasn't working. Her hand was almost as blue as an Andorian's as she broke off a tiny part of the bread and struggled to eat. It was worse than eating solid ice, but it was the only food she had.

"You're a strong person Jenna. You WILL pull through this."

There was that voice again. She'd been hearing it the past four days. But there was no one around.

"Wh..... hu-hu-hu-who aaaaaaaaare y-y-y-you?"


There was no reply.


"Sh-sh-sh-sh-show y-y-y-yourself!"

Still no reply. Was she going insane? Hearing voices that weren't there? Probably. She needed to get to a warmer hiding place. Wrapping the loaf in the folds of her clothes, she tried to move, tucking her right hand inside with the bread. She reached the end of the alley and paused. Some soldiers in full combat armour were fighting a horde of demonic beings in the street. The three warriors were using swords and rifles to hack and shoot the things, ducking under fists and snapping necks like they were twigs. Where did they come from? What were those things they were fighting? They looked like people, but with spikes emerging from their skin. Whatever was going on, Jenna had not survived the last five years on her own by sticking around. She turned to flee, running straight into one of the beings. She screamed as it raised its claws, ready to strike her down. But it didn't get the chance. A woman with large white feathered wings dropped from the sky, landing between Jenna and the beast. Wearing red robes with blue trim, the woman slammed a knife deep into the heart of the beast. A white aura flowed out of the beast and into the woman. She pulled her knife out, letting the corpse drop to the ground. Wiping the blood from the knife onto the robes, yet not leaving any stains, she turned to Jenna. Her skin was a deep blue, her eyes grey and hair as white as the snow, blowing gently in a breeze-less wind. "You can win this Jenna. For one so young, you have a very strong spirit. We all know you can make it."


Jenna stepped forward. "Wh- hu- who aaaaaaare y-y-you?"


The woman didn't reply. She just spread her wings and launched into the air, disappearing into the clouds. The snow started coming down harder, yet the fighting continued. Jenna knew when to run and run she did. She was always running.





Running that took her into a disused warehouse on the outskirts of town. She had seen more of those things appearing, and the same three soldiers always seemed to be there fighting. The winged woman hadn't reappeared, though Jenna could sense her presence still around. She entered the main storage area and stopped. In the middle of the room was a group of large men, all stood in a cluster. Each one stared at her but made no movement. Winged Woman spoke again. "Be strong Jenna. Be strong and get through this. Come back to us."


Despite the size and emptiness, the warehouse was warm enough to let her take her hand out of the rags. She wiggled her fingers to get feeling back into it. "Be strong how?"


The Winged Woman seemed to descend from the heavens, hovering above the group. Her hands were clutched in front of her, a glow emanating from them. Her wings seemed to catch fire, a line of flames running across the white feathers, leaving them charred and black. "Fight this disease, and come back to us." She opened her hands and the glow expanded. A large door appeared in the centre of the group with the word EXIT written across the top. "Be strong and set yourself free from this nightmare."


Jenna realised what she had to do. She had to get through the guys and out the exit door. But there were so many of them, each one could easily overpower her by himself. "I can't. There's too many of them."

"Fight it Jenna." Winged Woman was speaking with authority now, as if she was used to having others do as she said. "Fight with everything you have Jenna Jones. I will not lose such a young person under my command. Dig deep down, and find that strength I know is in there. Destroy this disease and reclaim your life."


Jenna held her head, starting to feel queasy. Something told her she could trust Winged Woman. She felt like she had known her for a few years. But could she fight off so many guys? She wouldn't survive outside. "Oh screw it." She threw the bread at the guys and ran at them, crossing her arms over her head and let out a yell as she charged. As she hit the first guy, he shattered like glass, splintering away into the world. Jenna kept charging, shattering each person. She kept charging into the exit door-










Jenna jerked awake. Panting quickly, her face felt damp from sweat. She was lying in a bed, the sheets soaked. After a moment, she finally recognised where she was: The main medical centre on New Romulus. She had been here since the battle in the Dyson Spheres. She felt someone holding her hand. Looking down the bed, she saw Talaina resting one arm on the edge of the bed, sleeping, holding Jenna's hand. A Romulan Doctor came over. Jenna recognised him as Chavek. "Excellent. You're awake. You had us worried for some time."
As Chavek started running some scans, Jenna moved into a slightly more comfortable position, working her hand free from Talaina and waking the Captain. The Andorian let out a soft moan as she stirred, her antenna jumping to attention when she realised Jenna was awake. She smiled, her grey eyes showing signs of fatigue. "Welcome back Ensign. I knew you had the strength to beat this thing."
"What thing? Can someone tell me what's going on?"

Chavek finished his scans and smiled with satisfaction. "No sign of the infection. What happened, Jenna, was that you had the Tarkalian Flu. Harmless enough by itself, but it mixed with a microbe in the water supply. Again, completely harmless by itself, but the two mutated together and caused an imbalance in your brain chemistry, leaving you susceptible to psychotropic effects from some bad atmospheric disturbances. We had to put you in a medically induced coma for a few days until the disturbance died down. We gave you some antibiotics and the infection has cleared. Your chemistry has returned to normal, though, I would like to keep you here for observation a little longer."


Jenna rubbed her head. "Thanks Doctor."
"I told you. Call me Chavek."

He smiled a little too long, before giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "Get some rest. I'll be back to check on you in a bit."


As the Romulan walked away, Jenna looked at her Captain. "How long was I out?"
"Four days. Scans showed you had brain activity. Were you aware of anything?"
"I.... I was having a nightmare. About my childhood. But..... it turned strange. Things started happening that didn't."
"Dreams can contain memories and make random things up. I wouldn't worry about it. At least you're out of danger. If you'll excuse me, Dotson needs my help on Viper. Take your time recovering."


As Talaina got up to leave, Jenna stopped her. "Captain? Were you here the entire time?"
"Yes."
"I..... I could sense your presence. Thank you."
"It's a Captain's job to look after her crew. I'll see you later."


Jenna watched the Andorian leave before putting her head back into the pillow. She didn't dare go back to sleep, she'd had her fill of dreams for one week.
*******************************************

A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
# 8
05-03-2014, 10:44 PM
Previously on Star Trek Online Literary Challenges:

Info sat down. The android almost looked concerned.

"Lieutenant, it has now been twelve hours, four minutes and seventeen seconds since the Talon departed on the rescue mission. In casual parlance, I believe the correct expression is that Captain Persico is worryingly late."

And now, the continuation:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Are you sure the deflector is working again?"

"As I have stated on the previous four occasions, I am. Please clarify if you have a reason to doubt my original report?"

"Not at all, Eight. It's just that I didn't expect the deflector to break in the first place."

"The equipment is not designed for prolonged atmospheric flight at warp velocities, Captain. I would hypothesize that our rescuees are facing similar issues, only their shuttles lack the requisite components for repair."

"Probably a good guess. It's just this software problem. The patching process takes ages and falls over far too often."

"Programming the dish is not my area of expertise, Captain. Not unless the software is Iconian in origin. There. Please attempt to reconnect to the device."

The deflector array thrummed back into full life, The indicators flickered several times and then held. The repairs were functioning correctly. Lieutenant Commander Eight observed the successful power test dispassionately and then allowed herself a small dose of satisfaction at an adequate repair job.

Barely one step after leaving Deflector control, the liberated Borg was violently catapulted against the far wall as the ship lurched heavily forward, faster than the inertial dampers could compensate for. Immediately afterwards, Red Alert sirens sounded throughout the ship.

"Captain to All Hands! Spatial Distortion dead ahead. We are being pulled in. Brace for impact!"

*******

Eight came to, lying on the deck. The main lights were out, leaving only the dim glow of emergency beacons. Flicking her ocular implant to low-light disturbingly did not help. If she was damaged, it was prudent to report to sickbay. Getting up was odd. Time seemed to flow slower than she remembered. Odd voices sounded at the corner of her vision.

Even her own definitions did not make sense. Eight began a self-diagnostic, and blinked as it immediately terminated, reporting fatal damage. If her cybernetics were malfunctioning, it was now urgent to begin repairs. She stumbled into a turbolift and punched in a destination.

Eight exited the lift...and emerged onto the green-and-black latticework of a Borg catwalk. Thousands of drones activated and turned towards her as the multitudinous noise of the Collective thundered into her head, dropping her to the floor in agony.

"Regeneration sequencers offline redirect nanoprobes to affected site enable protocol four seven three nine two regeneration sequencers offline redirect nanoprobes to affected site enable protocol four seven three nine two regeneration sequencers offline redirect nanoprobes to affected site-"

No. The Borg did not repeat themselves like this. This was not unity. More malfunctions?

Despair seemed to punch her in the gut. And keep punching. Repeatedly. Every one point three seconds.

With a gigantic screeching sound, the universe shifted, and Eight found herself back on the Talon. She was sprawled half-out of a turbolift, and the door was insistently trying to close on her.

Eight got up unsteadily. At least the world wasn't flowing around her like before. She did have a headache, and after putting her hand to her head, it came away wet with blood. The nanoprobes should be fixing that....but not if the regeneration sequencers were offline.

Adrenaline spiked into her as she took a staggering step forward and saw a wave of some sort of fluid come cascading around the corner, right at her.

**********

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency"

Emma looked around at the sickbay. Three toppled carts, two displays knocked over, a displaced cushion, and no patients.

"Sickbay to Bridge". Silence.

"Sickbay to Engineering". Silence.

"Emma to any senior staff. Respond please."

"Computer, activate Override Medical-Epsilion. Authorization Emma Four-Seven-Three."

"Override Accepted. There are Forty-six lifeforms aboard this vessel. There are multiple hull breaches. Engine capacity is at five percent. Shield capacity is at seventy one percent. Weapons are offline. Vital signs of the Captain: Damaged. Asleep. Vital Signs of the Helmsman: Damaged. Asleep. Vital Signs of the Operations Commander: Damaged. Vital Signs of the Acting Tactical Officer: Damaged. Asleep. Vital Signs of-"

"Halt. Describe exterior environment."

"Sensors are offline."

"Describe Communications status"

"Communications are offline."

"Very well. Computer, transfer program to mobile emitter."

Emma slapped the emitter to her shoulder, grabbed a medkit and charged out the door.

********

"Eight!"

Commander Eight heard the word faintly through the viscous fluidic goop she was drowning in. The odd not-voice of the Collective was still thundering through her head, repeating senseless phrases.

Oddly however, she could also see Emma, the medical hologram of the USS Talon crouched over the prone form of a Bolian. She seemed to have no problem walking through the goop, almost as if it didn't exist.

"Breathe, Eight. You're building up saturation levels of carbon dioxide."

Like a breaking dam, she exhaled, nose and mouth instantly preparing for the influx of the goop. Nothing. Her balance reeled as the ship seemed to tilt abruptly to port, although the hologram and prone crewmember didn't seem affected.

Emma held up a tricorder and activated a command.

Eight found herself on the floor again. A cold sensation like a bucket of water trickled through her - all her implants. Lieutenant Wolversham's loop interruption program. She could feel her cybernetic systems rebooting, sense the cortical node flushing short-term contradictory commands.

"Emma. I...thank you. I was not functioning correctly"

"Neither is Petty Officer Tharan here. In fact, no-one on this deck apart from you and I seem to be up and moving. I haven't been able to contact the Bridge or Engineering."

"Are you aware of what has transpired?"

"Sensors are down as well. The ship is apparently in pretty bad state. I'd just found the Petty Officer here when you came stumbling around the corner. From what these readings tell me, he's apparently in an unusual form of hyper-REM sleep, although I am picking up psychosomatic adrenaline spikes and hyper-suppression of type 3 cortical impulses. These symptoms are consistent with a dream-state nightmare."

"A dream state?"

"Should be simple enough to resolve." Emma loaded a hypospray and touched it to the crewman's neck. "A dose of Cordafin should bring them right out."

Tharan snapped to consciousness and looked around with wild eyes. "Walls! They're coming through the walls! Hundreds of the...the..tehm..." The crewman's raving was interrupted by a prodigious yawn, before his eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed back onto the floor. Emma ran another scan.

"Back to hyper-REM sleep."

Eight had meanwhile gotten her own tricorder out, and was conducting a scan of the wall where the crewman had been pointing.

"I think I have something though. As Petty Officer Tharan collapsed, there was spike in environmental neurogenic energy. I am reading additional spikes on a infrasonic frequency of eighteen point four hertz every seven point four seconds."

"Neurogenic field and a infrasonic transmission? What could cause that?"

"Whatever has activated Protocol four seven three nine two. My implants have been running it constantly since you activated the reboot process."

"And that protocol is?"

Eight looked disquieted. "I - I am unsure. I need to consult the database in my alcove."

"Lead on, Commander. If you're immune somehow, we need to figure out what's providing that."

Five minutes later, after retrieving the module from the cargo bay, Eight placed her hand against it, and entered her authorization code.

"Computer, define Borg Protocol 47392."

"Borg Protocol 47392. Assimilated aboard Cube 174741 from Species 567. Method for blocking neurogenic fields and infrasonic emissions associated with a Type 417 subspace inversion. Assimilation of data on this type of disturbance indicates a correlation with the Omega particle.

Inversion 417 is theoretically capable of accessing a negative-bias layer of subspace, characterized by potential neurogenic emissions. In a conductive medium, it may also resonate with an audio frequency of between eighteen and nineteen hertz."

"I think we've got a winner here. Certainly describes the symptoms accurately."

"Inversion 417 is theorized to be caused by partial Omega interaction with a shaped gravimetric surge. Experiment Omega-Three by the Collective was able to successfully observe this phenomenon shortly before its destruction from a destabilizing molecule of Omega."

"So...the Collective has nothing else on this phenomenon?"

"No, but..." Eight paused for a moment, struck by a new connection. "We need to get to deflector control."

*********

"Sensors are still offline, but indications from the Collective is that the spatial disturbance will be holding the ship in a steep gravity well. A proton pulse from the deflector should create an instability, inverting the forces keeping the rift open. They will then collapse."

"And the crew will be able to awaken?"

"Without the neurogenic energy field, their sleep-state should end, Yes. While I am not an expert on Human psychology, there will likely be repercussions associated with the nightmares the crew is experiencing."

"We'll have to deal with that after getting rid of the cause. Sensors are still down. How are you going to target the rift?"

"I am not. While the readings indicate the deflector is facing in the general direction of the anomaly, we cannot acquire a precise lock. We will essentially be 'firing blind'. It may take several attempts before we succeed. I should warn you that some turbulence from the rift may be expected."

Eight worked in silence for several minutes, before crossing to a stanchion and anchoring herself. Emma also grabbed a handhold, elicting a Vulcan-esque eyebrow raise. Emma let go, instead adjusting her holographic matrix to align with the floor.

"Ready."

"Firing first pulse."

The array build to an ear-splitting wail, and then discharged in a whoosh. Both the drone and the hologram looked at each other. Nothing.

"Firing second pulse."

There was another wail-whoosh. Still nothing.

"Firing third pulse"

The universe erupted in a blinding flash and scream of shredding duranium.


*********

Selene Persico stopped at the turbolift, adrenaline racing. She couldn't remember why she was running, only that it had to be something terrifying. What had happened? What was going on?

The turbolift doors hissed open, and she stepped inside - right into the arms of an alien clad the black chitinous armor of the Borg. Laserlight played over her face as the adrenaline kicked in again. Selene turned to run, but the Borg grabbed her with one arm, while the other hand came up towards her head.

She had time for one despairing scream of "NO!" before the Borg drone plunged two assimilation tubules into her neck. A blast of cold radiated from her carotid artery. If flooded through her and Selene snapped back to full consciousness in a cold, black world.

A distant whooping and a pulsing red glow began to come into focus - a Red Alert alarm. It reminded her of the laserlight of the Borg. Assimilation! She slapped a hand to her neck, or rather, tried to.

"Easy Captain".

The voice was a reassuring balm. Emma. Selene forced her eyes to focus until the medical hologram's face resolved itself. She was holding a hypospray, which most likely explained the cold sensation on her neck.

"Careful. You took some bad knocks. Can you move?"

Selene tried, then grimaced in pain as her ankle, rib and shoulder made an abrupt and painful protest at the movement. Her leg was pinned under a metal beam of some sort, and there was something drifting in the air. Smoke.

Fire on board? Battle Damage?

"Captain! Can you hear me?" Lieutenant Commander Eight came into view, carrying a medkit. She looked drawn and exhausted.

Almost as bad as I feel.

"Eight-". The smoke sent her into a coughing fit. "Report."

"The Talon has crash-landed, Captain. We have a plasma leak in Engineering, Lifesupport is failing and we have multiple casualties on all decks. Are you undamaged?"

"Going to require some repair work, I'm afraid. I think I can stand though. Get me out of here."

Powerful hands began moving wreckage out of the way, and Selene got a better view of the battered and broken remains of the bridge. After a few minutes, she was freed, and Selene was able to hobble her way off the Bridge, so long as she didn't use her right arm.

Eight led her out of the ship through a breach on Deck Two,and they emerged onto a vast open plain, Long alien grasses waved gently in most directions, To the left was the shore of what seemed to be a sea, and far off to the right loomed the enigmatic structures of the Solanae Dyson Sphere. Throughout the sky was the faint reminder of the enormous structure they stood in, with the red eye of Solanae itself relentlessly beating down.

It took twenty painful minutes to make their way to the hastily erected tents of the Triage center. A discouragingly small number of bodies lay on stretchers and biobeds. Eight filled her in on the events after the distortion had appeared ahead of them.

Her best guess was than an instability in the reconfigured deflector had caused a rare interaction with an Omega molecule as it was created, opening a rift into subspace.

Turning, Selene looked back at the imposing form of the Jem'Hadar Attack Ship USS Talon lying beached on the shore like a great duranium whale, smoke rising from its carcass. Even in death, it loomed menacingly.

Beyond that was a huge Iconian tower, the top looking highly scorched. Above it, dark and threatening stormclouds were visibly gathering. Leading from those clouds down to the wreck was a slowly dissipating plasma trail.

"This could be a problem."

"We have activated a jury rigged distress beacon Captain. We've received a signal from a Federation-aligned Republic vessel. They should be here within eight hours. You should rest until then."

"Rest? I might rest, but I don't think anyone here is going to want to sleep..."
Career Officer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,189
# 9 Try To See Me
05-04-2014, 12:18 AM

Talk to
The radio
Speak out loud
Speak so true

Sing to
An old love
Never forget
Always embrace

Something or someone
Try to see
I need that much
There's got to be more
Than this
I need that much

(Try to see
Try to see
Try to see
Try to see)

Walk to
That old street
It still remains
It hasn't changed

Feel too
What means most
Never forget
Always embrace

Something or someone
Try to see
I need that much
There's got to be more
More than this


Jeremy DePoyster and Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada - "Care More"


T R Y . T O . S E E . M E



USS Tiburon, somewhere in the Typhon Expanse - Stardate [redacted]

"Where the hell did he go?"

Getting no response, Rusty spun away from the viewscreen and approached the sensor station. "Seriously, where is he? I know he's supposed to be cloaked, but there should tachyon traces..."

"I've got nothing," K'Jetsk answered. "No tachyons, no tetryon emissions from the singularity drive... he's completely disappeared from all sensors, including the interphasic array."

"Impossible," Marq insisted from the command chair. "No cloak is that perfect." He looked to Frank Grimes, who was standing smugly off to the side. "Is it?"

Grimes just gave him a shrug and a self-satisfied smile.

"No, you don't understand. I've lost his transponder signal as well, which should not have happened." The Reman frowned at his sensor readouts. "Hooper, give me a full active scan."

"Active scanners show normal space all around his last known and projected flight path."

K'Jetsk looked up. "That's impossible."

Marq frowned. A cloaked ship either absorbed, scattered or refracted the radiation and quantum interference from active sensors, leaving a "hole in space" that should stand out, assuming one knew where to look. He looked at Grimes again.

"It works better than I thought," he said, with a noticeable lack of confidence.

"Hail 'im," Marq ordered. "Okay, Jesu, we need to do a diagnostic on this end. Shut down the device now."

Only silence answered.

* * *

There's so much smoke... how am I still breathing? he wonders. He walks down the desolate street. The city is foreign, but somehow familiar. He walks by an awning still hanging, recognizing the writing as an Earth language... Vietnamese? Smoke billows from smashed windows. Hot ash and embers waft through the air. Somewhere nearby, he can hear a fire blazing. But he can't feel the heat.

He keeps walking. He passes a street sign in three languages - Vietnamese, Klingon and English.
High Street.

He looks back in the way he came, toward what he now recognizes as the ruins of downtown Nha Tranh, Moab III.

And in the distance, through the smoke, he can make out someone walking towards him.


* * *

"C'mon, Admiral, if you can hear us... this isn't funny anymore."

"It's no use, Marq," K'Jetsk told him. "The signal isn't getting picked up. There's nothing out there."

"The f**k there's not," Rusty snarled. "My brother's out there, somewhere."

"NO, he's NOT."

"Calm down, both of you," Grimes ordered. "Obviously the ionic phase disruption field is interfering with communications-"

"Across subspace bands?" Hooper demanded. "I don't know much about ion fields, but I know that they don't interfere with subspace."

Grimes frowned. "I'll admit, that one has me stumped. That is theoretically impossible."

"So where is he?"

"Um, guys?" LCdr. Yumi, the ship's chief engineer spoke up. "Why don't we just wait for him to decloak? I mean the test was only supposed to last twenty minutes."

Everyone stared at the Ferengi engineer for a moment, then Marq looked back to the viewscreen. "She's got a point. Even if he is pranking us, he won't want to stay out in the Bat Ray forever..."

"So we wait for him to show up?" Grimes asked rhetorically.

"Fine by me," K'Jetsk grumbled.

It wasn't fine by Rusty. He wasn't good at waiting. He crossed his arms and leaned against the comm station, and glared at the viewer. He was all too familiar with his brother's sick sense of humor, and he would think this was funny as hell. I'm not laughing, Zoo.

* * *

"Rusty?" he calls out. "Is that you?"

Screams. Behind him. To his left. To his right. All around him. Hellish, tortured screams of Human beings being consumed by flames... or worse.

FEK. Somehow, he's been transported back to this place, in this time. To face his worst nightmare alone.

No. Not my worst nightmare. In my worst nightmares, she would be here...

"Jesu?"

Oh, God. "Elizabeth?" he calls out to her. It is her, he can see that now. Running towards him, her businesswoman's dress suit a complete shambles, she looks terrible and beautiful and scared. Fears forgotten, he sprints to meet her and pulls her into his arms. "I'm here. I won't let you go this time, Liz."

She returns his embrace. "I know."


* * *

Forty minutes had passed. They'd given up on waiting. Spitz-Reader had come to the bridge, but he couldn't sense anything either. The Ferasan telepath was deeply concerned. "I was aware of him as he was getting into position for the test, but when he hit the cloak, he was... gone. It wasn't like he simply moved out of range, or he was shielding his thoughts. It was more he simply... wasn't there anymore."

"Well, I'm out of ideas," Grimes said. "Hooper, have you come up with anything?"

Hooper pulled off his glasses to clean them on his sweater. "Walk me through this one more time, Frank. Exactly how does this cloak work?"

"It's not really a cloak," Frank Grimes explained. "The ionic field generator induces a strong electrical charge across the surface of the ship's skin, while simultaneously generating an opposing field of ions in the surrounding space. Then, the field oscillates at a frequency to match the quantum phase resonance, and the ship just sort of... fades to black. It's still physically there, and yet, not there. All forms of energy just pass right through. At least, that's how it worked in an atmosphere. We never tried it in the vacuum of space, until now."

"Energy passes through..." Hooper examined his glasses and put them back on. "What about physical matter?"

"The field destroys physical matter. One of the techs at Olympus lost a finger when he tried to touch the prototype. And I watched it eat a broom handle."

"So what if we launched a bunch of probes, and set them to run a tight grid..." Rusty suggested, "say, at three-meter intervals..."

Grimes shook his head. "The search area's too big. He could be anywhere out there."

"He's right," Marq concurred. "If we fired every probe we have, it would take the rest of our lives just to cover the sector grid we think he's in."

"Say Marq," Hooper spoke again, "what exactly do we know about this part of space?"

"Not much," Marq admitted. "It's uncharted territory from the Typhon sector to the galaxy's edge. That's why we're out here - there's nobody around to watch us."

"Why do you ask?" K'Jetsk wondered.

"Well, according to Starfleet records, the last ship to pass this way was the Enterprise-D, back in 2368. They were supposed to explore the expanse, but then they almost literally ran into a temporal anomaly..."

"The Bozeman incident," Grimes recalled.

"Eggzackly. So I'm thinking maybe we shouldn't be asking ourselves where the Admiral is, but rather, when..."

* * *

He has a gun in his hand. He can't remember how it got there. The Fek know what it is. They stay just out of range.

Liz clutches his other arm. "Do you know where you're going?" she asks.

"Away from here," he tells her.


* * *

"...Not detecting any chroniton radiation, or any other signs of residual temporal flux," K'Jetsk announced. "If the Admiral entered a temporal distortion, then it too is undetectable."

"It's been conjectured that the spacetime continuum in this region is... fractured," Grimes pointed out. "That's probably why nobody's bothered to try to explore it since Picard."

"So, what, you think the Bat Ray just fell into one of those cracks?" Marq asked.

"Well, we've scanned all of space and subspace," Rusty said. "And there's no sign of time travel, so what's left?"

Grimes looked contemplative. "The IPD device must've pulled him into some unknown layer of subspace that we can't detect. That's the only explanation. There's only one thing to do. We need to follow him."

"Hold on," Yumi spoke up from the engineering station. "You're not suggesting we take the Tiburon into whatever anomaly swallowed the Bat Ray and the Admiral, are you?"

"No, of course not. I'm proposing we send a probe, fitted out with an IPD generator, with Hooper downloaded to it's core. Then Hooper finds the Admiral, and figures out how to get him back to us, or at least how to contact us."

Marq nodded. "That sounds like a good plan. What do you say, Hoop?"

"I can't say I like the idea of non-existence, but... if there's a chance of getting LaRoca back..." he looked to Rusty, and gave a resolved nod. "Okay. Give me a few minutes to save myself to backups, so you can restore me if I don't come back." To Rusty he said. "I'll try to come back. Hopefully with your brother."

* * *

"Hold up." That's weird. "That restaurant looks familiar."

She looks. "It's where we ate on our last night together."

"I remember walking past it though... a few... hours ago... This doesn't make any sense."

"We have to keep moving." She pulls at his arm. "
come on."

"No,
hang on a second." He scans the rest of the block. "That car there, and that department store, we passed those too... The restaurant wasn't on High Street. It was in the Giải trí district. And the department store should be in the merchant district, which was all smashed up by the Orion riots, but that one's windows are intact..."

"Jesu, it doesn't matter. Let's
go."

"
Where?" he wonders. "Where are we? We've been walking down the same road for... how many hours now? At five kilometers an hour... we should be at least on the outskirts of town by now..."

She pulls him again. Harder, this time. "Come with me."

"Where are we going?" he asks again.

"With me," she says. "Does anything else matter?"


* * *

"I shouldn't've let him go," Rusty said. He sat at the conn, his folded across the control panel, pillowing his head. "I should've made him stay."

You ought to know by now, your brother lives for the thrill of taking his life into his hands, Spitz-Reader reminded him. It's who he is. Would you love him the same if he was anything else?

He's my brother. I'd love him the same no matter what he was like.

"Okay, we're ready to launch," Grimes called out.

"All set down there, Hooper?" Marq checked.

"Ready as I'll ever be," the AI called back.

"Okay, we're launching the probe to a point two klicks short of the Bat Ray's last known," Marq announced. "At that point, we'll hand off control to you."

"Understood. I'll try to maintain contact."

* * *

This is weird, Hooper thought.

In the probe - or was it as the probe? - he could "see" through its range of sensors. He could perceive the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and beyond, through layers of subspace. It was a lot of information to process, and his processing capacity was limited by the probe's onboard computers. "Give me a minute here - this is... a little disorienting."

"Take your time," Marq told him.

He could see the Tiburon. The massively modified heavy escort carrier was scarcely recognizable as having been one of the original Akira-class ships. Even in the highest EM bands she looked menacing and predatory. Hooper used her as fixed point of reference and from there he worked out his surroundings. "Okay, I think I'm sorted out now."

"Alright," Grimes called. "Go ahead and engage the IPD field whenever you're ready."

"Okay then. Here goes nothing..."

Everything blanked out. Hooper had been looking right at the Tiburon, and now it wasn't there. "Um... guys?"

No response. Hooper tried rotating his transmission bands, and he hopped different subspace frequencies without success. "Gawddammit."

He was in the dark. Total sensory deprivation. Almost total. He felt something nearby. An open subspace transceiver? The Bat Ray? "Hello? Admiral LaRoca?"

No response. But... there it was again. He felt something cold brushing up against him... a transponder pulse! It was the Bat Ray! But why wouldn't the Admiral respond?

* * *

"Don't you want to be with me?"

"Of course, but, not like this!" He's getting scared now. And tired. "Not walking forever through this hell!"

"It's all in how you look at it," she says. "I think it's nice."

"NICE? Look around you! The Fek are out there, tearing your city -
your people - to pieces, and you think it's NICE?"

She just smiles at him.

"You need a doctor... we need to get out of here... I need Rusty. Where's Rusty?"

"There's nobody else here," she says. "Only me. And you. Forever."


* * *

Interfacing with the Bat Ray's computer sped up Hooper's processing power considerably. That's better. Okay. Self-diagnostic complete... check internal sensors...

The Admiral was there. Asleep.

"Sir? Jesu?" Hooper double-checked the speaker volume and his vocal modulation subroutine and tried again. "Jesu, wake up!"

It was no use. Hooper used the internal sensors to attempt a brain scan, but in compressing his program to fit in the probe's memory buffers he had to leave his medical database behind.

Nothing I can do for the meatbag... what about the ship?

By all indications, it was motionless, dead in space, but main power was active. Everything seemed to be working. Including that damned ionic phase disruption field generator...

I wonder what will happen if I turn this off?

* * *

"NO!" he screams. "You're not Liz!"

"You wanted Liz to be here. Here I am."

"Liz told me to Go and Live," he says. "She told me that before she died... Liz is dead. You're not Liz!"

"What are you afraid of?"

He aims the gun at her head. "Stay the hell away from me!"

She wasn't Elizabeth anymore. She was a Fek Ravager. And she wasn't going anywhere.


* * *

"There he is!" K'Jetsk pointed.

Rusty blinked. He'd seen the Bat Ray fade back into being. He didn't believe at first, but-

"Bat Ray to Tiburon," Hooper called over the comm. "One to beam directly to sick bay."

Rusty sprinted to the turbolift so fast, Marq could've swore he saw a vapor trail.

"Acknowledged, Hooper. Good work."

"Also, could you tractor me in to the main shuttle bay? I have no idea how to fly this thing."

* * *

Rusty and Reader made it to sick bay to find Jesu sitting up in a biobed with a cortical monitor on his forehead, drinking a glass of water.

"He slept through the whole thing," Dr. Espinoza explained. "Just took a hypostim to bring him around."

"Are you okay?" Rusty asked his brother.

"I am now, bro," Jesu grinned. He got up and gave the Deinon a hug. "Now that I'm here with you."

"You gave us quite a scare, you know," Reader told him.

"Sorry I missed it," the Admiral said with a rueful smile.

"Do you remember anything?" Maria Espinoza asked him.

"Everything." He shivered. "God, what a nightmare..."


"Freedom is just a pretty idea unless it's backed by Force."

An Introduction to the Gorn (RP guide) / Ten Forward Fanfics
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 579
# 10
05-05-2014, 07:58 AM
Personal log: T'Laihhae i-Kanai tr'Aellih, officer commanding RRW Messalina

It looks like a veil, a strand of filmy substance drawn over the sky. At first glance, perhaps, a fragment of a filamentary nebula... but only at first glance. The sensor readings confirm what the eye next suspects: a web of flickering energies, spread through space.

"It's... weird," Zdanruvruk rumbles, his Reman face screwed up into a truly forbidding scowl.

I lift an eyebrow at him. "I was hoping for something a little more precise, from my science officer."

"Might have to wait, sir." Zdanruvruk is unrepentant. "There are energy processes going on here that I've never seen before. Looks like that thing is partly anchored in a layer of subspace that's not normally accessible... not usually detectable, even. There are sub-elementary particles moving across the dimensional boundaries...." His small eyes are intent on the console display. "Could almost be some sort of pattern to it... maybe. If there is, it's very complicated."

I lean back in the command chair and think. The freighter convoy that reported this - whatever it is - were hurrying on their way to help the reconstruction efforts in Alpha Centauri sector space. They had neither the time nor the equipment to investigate. We have both... if I decide it needs investigation.

"Very well," I say. "We'll hold station at current range until you've gathered enough data for a full analysis."

"That could take a while," Zdanruvruk says. At the helm console, Aitra says nothing, but brings the Messalina to a dead stop, the massive adapted battle cruiser hanging in space with her tines pointed towards the anomaly. "A long while," the Reman adds. "Sir, I need to talk to the whole of science section - we're going to have to work out a serious study programme for this thing. Just pointing the scanners at it and recording activity - isn't going to do the job."

"Well," I say, "you're the expert. Let me know what you need."

---

I run towards the console, and I do not move fast enough, and it explodes, blinding light and roasting heat striking me full in the face, and I die.

I run towards the console, and the deck tilts beneath my feet, and I slide, helpless, towards the rent that has opened in the hull, and the rushing gale of escaping air carries me with it into space, and I die.

I run towards the console, and the ceiling above me shatters, falling metal shearing into me like axe blows, and I die.

And I freeze, and I burn, and I suffocate, and I die.

Over and over again, a thousand different deaths.

I die. At Priyanapari. I die.


I wake out of the nightmare, trembling. The lights in my cabin come up automatically. I look around the familiar surroundings, calming myself, reassuring myself. After a moment, I slip out of bed and begin to dress.

Priyanapari. Why would I dream of Priyanapari?

I do not even know what happened at Priyanapari. In a sense, nothing did happen at Priyanapari... the timeline of events there was closed off, abolished, aborted by whatever Thyvesh and I did. Thyvesh, his brain sensitized to chroniton fields, perceives alternate timelines to some extent. I have no such ability. All I know is, he has helped me, from where he lives in hiding - and I will help him, if I can. But, to me, the events between my escape from the Romulan empire, and my arrival at Virinat... are a blank. A blank that, somehow, involves the star system of Priyanapari.

Where I died. I shiver. I might well have died, for all I know... before the aberrant timeline corrected itself.

Fully dressed, I head for the bridge. Zdanruvruk is there already: I wonder if the Reman ever sleeps. He scratches one ear and grunts at me, his mind on his work. I settle myself in the command chair. I decide not to bother Zdan while he's working, but concern myself with the never-ending administrative trivia of command for a while instead.

"Too bright," Zdanruvruk says suddenly, and shakes his head.

"What is?" I ask.

"Sorry, sir. Just a random thought...." The Reman looks at the main viewscreen, at the enigmatic filmy thing filling it. "I'm not sure...."

"Not sure of what?"

"How much good we can do here. Whatever that thing is, it's complicated. We might be better off sending specialist science vessels - borrow some from the Federation, the Feds are good at that sort of thing. Serious science types might get more out of it than we can.... Besides," he adds, "it's too bright."

"How do you mean, too bright?" Reman photophobia? How does it apply to this?

"I'm... not sure, sir." Zdan shoots me an apologetic, almost hangdog look. "I just look at it, and it looks... too bright."

I consider for a moment. He's probably right, in fact - a dimensional anomaly like this merits serious scientific study. Maybe it'd be better to get some real scientists out here, and find out where this rabbit hole leads to -

Priyanapari. The thought comes to me unbidden. I ask myself why, and suddenly I have an answer.

The events at Priyanapari are a secret, an ultimate secret. Concealed, not just from me, but from the universe itself. But if that thing's dimensional links lead out of this universe -

Then that secret might just be revealed. Is it a secret worth knowing? How to know that, unless I find out what it is?

"You might be right," I say to Zdan. "But we'll stick with it a little bit longer, I think."

---

I eat my mid-day meal in the main commissary. Normally, it is a bustling, noisy place, but today the atmosphere seems quiet and subdued. I notice several people with bloodshot eyes and haggard expressions. Was I not alone in having nightmares, last night? I am pensive as I make my way back to the bridge.

I stop in the doorway as I enter. Zdanruvruk is still hunched over the science console; the android, Ruby, is at main operations... but the chair at the helm is vacant. Now that is unusual.

"Where's Subcommander Aitra?" I ask.

"Unknown," says Ruby. Zdan just grunts. "He did not report for duty at the start of his shift. I was about to arrange cover," the android continues.

"Yes, do that," I say, absently. The careworn tactical officer is one of my most reliable people, it isn't like him at all to be absent from duty. I check the personnel computer. According to that, Aitra is still in his quarters. "I'm going to check on him," I say. "Ruby, keep an eye on things." The android nods in acknowledgment as I leave.

The door to Aitra's quarters fails to open as I approach. I frown, and touch my communicator. "Engineering. Get Subcommander Retar to my current location, please." Retar and Aitra are something of an item - if there's something wrong with him, she needs to know, and she may be able to help.

While I'm waiting, I key the communicator on the door. "Aitra? It's T'Laihhae. Are you all right?"

The voice that answers is almost unrecognizable. "You don't fool me, monster!"

Instinct warns me - I step quickly aside. The disruptor beam burns through the metal of the door in an instant, searing past me to spend itself on the opposite bulkhead. "Aitra!" I shout, from behind a solid stanchion.

"Monsters!" Aitra shrieks. He doesn't fire again, thank the Elements. At the other end of the corridor, I see Retar; there is obvious worry on the red-haired engineer's face. Beside her, a slight, waifish figure in tactical uniform: Ril'ell, armed with a heavy disruptor rifle.

"I think he thinks we're salt vampires," I whisper urgently as they approach, and motion to them to keep down, below the line of fire, as they cross the doorway towards me.

Retar swears. "He dreamed about Hfihar last night," she mutters. "I never thought it would get this bad.... Aitra!" she yells. "Aitra, it's me!"

"No!" Aitra shrieks. "Not you too! No!" Another blast from the disruptor rifle punctuates each phrase.

"This is hopeless," says Ril'ell. She raises her weapon, and there is a febrile, dangerous gleam in her eyes. "He's become a danger to the ship -"

"No!" And now it's Retar's turn to shout.

"See reason!" Ril'ell grabs the engineer's arm. "We can't let him -"

"Get your hands off me!" Retar's voice is a shrill blast of outrage. "Nobody touches me -"

Her fist lashes out, catches Ril'ell on the side of the jaw. I think the blow would have felled a Klingon warrior, but Ril'ell is tough, tougher than she looks. She rolls with the blow, comes up with her weapon raised -

"Stand down!" I snap at them both.

It makes Ril'ell pause, just a fraction of a second - just long enough for Retar to kick her gun out of her hands. Then the two of them are fighting, fiercely and viciously, hand to hand on the floor of the corridor, their screams of rage drowning out Aitra's cries -

Golden light flares around them both. The numbing corona of the stun beam jangles my nerves. My head spinning, I turn to see the Starfleet liaison officer, Commander Yousest, his phaser in his hand, his leathery triangular face unreadable as ever.

"Forgive me, Vice Admiral," he says, "but the situation seemed to call for it."

I catch my breath. "You're forgiven," I say.

Yousest walks up to the pierced and half-molten door. "I fear Subcommander Aitra is also beyond reason," he says. "If I recall correctly...." He opens a panel by the door's communicator.

"Ah," I say. The adapted battle cruiser's accommodation was designed as much with Tal Shiar test subjects in mind as conventional crew. Any one of the crews' quarters can be flooded with anesthezine gas as a safety measure. Yousest says, "We must take precautions ourselves," extracts a pair of breather masks from the security compartment, and hands me one. As we don the masks, he triggers the release for the gas. Aitra's shouting grows quieter, then stops entirely.

"He will need medical attention," says Yousest. "He is not alone - I regret to say that disorder and aberrant behaviour has broken out in several parts of the ship. Sir, I understand we are currently in close proximity to a subspace anomaly?"

"Yes," I say, my voice thick and distorted through the mask.

"Such anomalies have been know to have detrimental psychological effects on personnel. I could refer you to the appropriate literature -"

"No need," I say. "You think we should move away from it?"

Yousest nods. He looks down at the unconscious forms of Retar and Ril'ell. "I would suggest, as a matter of some urgency."

---

We make it back to the bridge without needing to use either guns or gas. I'm a little relieved at that.

Ruby is still there. At first, it appears no one else is. Then I make out a shape huddled under the science console.

"Sir," says Ruby, "the science officer appears to be incapacitated."

I step over to him. "Zdan -"

"Too bright," Zdanruvruk moans. "Too bright. Leave me be. Too bright."

I swear, and turn to the comms panel. I need someone here I can rely on -

So I punch in one code, and eventually a voice answers: "Rinna?"

"Tovan. It's T'Laihhae. I need you on the bridge."

"Rinna... Rinna, where are you...?"

"Tovan, we found her, don't you remember?"

"Rinnaaaaa...."

I switch off. Useless. And Hiven will be lost in thoughts of his brother, Veril of her father... I glance at Yousest. Sometimes, I feel very jealous of Starfleet, just because they can afford personnel who don't have so much - baggage. The alien's eyes are unreadable. Just like Ruby's metal ones.

"All right," I say, "so it's just the three of us. Well, the automatics are good enough for us to fly the ship by ourselves -" I reach for the helm controls.

With a dead woman's hands. Dead at Priyanapari, dead and frozen.

I blink, step back from the console. "What the -?" I square my shoulders, step forward, reach out again.

Dead, dead, dead. Withered and useless and dead.

"I can't -" I swallow hard. "I can't do it. I don't understand - Yousest. You're still in control. Try to -"

The alien reaches for the helm console, and his hand starts to shake. He stands there for a long moment, then his arm falls to his side. "Sir. My deepest apologies -"

"What is it?" What is he seeing, feeling - whatever? What is holding him back?

"The anomaly appears to be affecting me," he says. "My species has a deep-seated, one might say primordial, fear of - of desiccation. Dehydration. And whenever I reach for the controls -"

My eyes turn to the thing on the screen. "It doesn't want us to go."

"It's not a living being," Yousest protests.

"We don't know that! We've run into energy-based lifeforms before... and malevolent ones. Psychovores." It makes sense. "That thing is alive. And it's amplifying our fears... to feed on our pain."

"A hypothesis." Yousest sounds less than convinced. But he can't take the helm controls any more than I can.

"Sir," says Ruby. "Being inorganic, I do not seem to be as deeply affected as the rest of you. I can certainly take helm controls... but...." She peers around in a very lifelike way, her face looking troubled around her metal eyes. "I do not see that I can physically fulfil all the necessary functions single-handed."

She's right. Messalina's automated systems are good - but not that good. A single person, even a highly sophisticated robot, can't fly an adapted battle cruiser.

"Maybe we can rig something up," I mutter desperately. "Some way to handle all the control functions -"

"Possibly," says Yousest. "But, sir, I doubt we have time, before we incur significant crew casualties."

"We have breathers. And Ruby doesn't need them. Flood all decks with anesthezine gas."

"That is only a stopgap measure," Yousest says, but he moves to comply.

He's right. We need an answer fast. And, with a sudden sick certainty, I realise that I have one.

"Machines," I say, as the gas hisses quietly into the air around us. "We need to be machines, like Ruby... machines that don't feel pain or fear. Machines that can execute a programmed task, quickly and efficiently, without being distracted."

"That would be useful," says Yousest mildly. "But, sir, I fear that you and I are not machines."

"But we can be. With Ruby's help." I inhale deeply, dragging air through the breather. "This is an adapted battle cruiser. That means we have a supply of the Borg nanovirus."

---

Main engineering should be a giant echoing space built around the ceaseless spinning of a singularity core. Instead, it's a small room full of conduits, lit by the baleful green pulsing of the Borg warp core. Ruby is approaching one of those conduits now, her mechanical hands moving with infinite care and precision.

"The Tal Shiar experimental records give us methods for culturing a limited form of the Borg nanovirus," I say. "Like a - a killed-virus vaccine. It wouldn't protect us against the actual Borg assimilation process, but it might... it might give us a chance to form a neural link with the ship's computers. Like, like the neural linkage Vice Admiral Grau used on Vulcan -"

"The risks are considerable," says Yousest. I didn't realise his species was that given to understatement.

Ruby has applied a medical injector to one conduit: her eyes are lit by the green glow. Steadily, remorselessly, she withdraws a fluid into the injector. "I have the appropriate Tal Shiar data downloaded now," she says. "I believe this approach may prove successful. Commander Yousest is correct, though, the risks are substantial."

I look at the unconscious forms of the engineering crew. Dellis, the big blonde technician, is lying closest to me. Her arms are green and raw and bleeding, as if she has scraped away chunks of her skin. The Tal Shiar threatened her with Elachi conversion, I remember; perhaps it is that contamination that she fears. She will recover - if she gets help soon enough.

"We have to take the chance," I whisper. I don't know if it's even intelligible through the breather mask.

Ruby seems to understand, though. She is busily entering data into a console, connecting the injector to it. After a while, the contents of the injector begin to glow with a dim, white light. Not the baleful green of the Borg... perhaps this is grounds for hope.

"If the Tal Shiar data is correct," Ruby says, "this will infiltrate a humanoid nervous system sufficiently for a resonance effect with the Messalina's Borg bio-neural systems." She pauses, then adds, "Another conscious moderator must be brought in to prevent the Borg systems taking full control. Since I am the only functional candidate for that role, I must be part of this experiment too."

I force another deep breath through the respirator. "Do it."

"Sir," says Yousest, "are you sure?"

"No. Do it."

---

*/*assessment commencing---
---
---unregistered collective comprising entities: 4
---integration commencing
------15%
------36%
------47%
------61%
------88%
---complete

---1/4: motile organic
---2/4: motile organic
---3/4: motile cybernetic
---4/4: motile cybernetic large scale

---processing preprogrammed instructions
---dimensional anomaly in proximity
---dysfunction affecting units: 1/4, 2/4
---excessive threat to collective, implement countermeasures
---4/4 deflector array emitting graviton pulses ***parameters appended
---supplement graviton pulses with disruptor fire from beam arrays ***parameters appended
---working
---working
---working
---countermeasures implemented
---dimensional anomaly disrupted
---unable to determine if anomalous threat/entity destroyed or merely damaged
---withdraw collective from locality
---4/4 drive systems engaged
---4/4 in transwarp
---no dimensional anomaly detected
---preprogrammed sequence complete

---instructions received: additional preprogrammed sequence
---cancel cancel cancel
---implement main directive: assimilate other motile organics within 4/4 into collective
---cancel cancel cancel
---implement additional preprogrammed sequence
---authorised 1/4
---rejected 4/4

1/4: override---command functions devolve to 1/4
4/4: reject---command functions devolve to collective as a whole
3/4: support 1/4
4/4: dissension contrary to collective function---implement main directive
1/4: denied---collective has new directives
2/4: dissension indicates collective is not succesful
3/4: concurs 2/4
4/4: collective can succeed
1/4: collective has served purpose---override---implement additional preprogrammed sequence
2/4: concurs 1/4
3/4: concurs 1/4
---collective terminating
---collective viral agents self-terminating
---return collective members to base state for use in further experimentation
---termination sequence initiating
4/4: so this is what it was like to be alive
*/*


I struggle back to normal consciousness on the floor of Main Engineering, fighting hard not to vomit into the breather, my vision blurred, my head aching.

Beside me, Two of Four - no, Yousest, his name is Yousest - clambers to his feet. His eyes are haunted.

"Self testing complete," Ruby says. "There appear to be no permanent after-effects."

I find it hard to meet Yousest's eyes. "Did we succeed?"

"The anomaly was disrupted," says Ruby. "We have escaped from its immediate vicinity.... It is impossible to say whether the anomaly was destroyed or not. We should probably mark that area as a potential navigational hazard."

"Quite," I say. "And we must... never do that again."

"We escaped by the narrowest of margins, sir," says Yousest. "The limited disagreement that we were able to create... must have convinced the nanovirus's quality controls that our collective was not successful. So, it... liquidated itself."

"Yes." I draw in a shaky breath. "There must have been any number of unsuccessful tests, before the Collective established itself...."

Before a will emerged from the interplay of minds inside the collective, a will born of the neural connections themselves, a will capable of silencing dissension and disagreement, of bending the whole mental power of the collective to its own purposes....

The Borg Queen.

"Sir," says Yousest, "above all, if we ever try that again, we must not succeed."

---

The medics have created a nauseating mess for me to drink, a cocktail of chelating agents that will bind with the heavy metals and complex organic detritus left by the decomposing nanovirus in my system. I sip it gloomily as I sit in the command chair and watch the stars speed by.

I hope organic detritus is all that is left. I fear, though, that the experience has marked me... and Yousest, and Ruby... and perhaps even Four of Four herself, the Messalina. Does my ship regret not being alive? Does she resent what I did?

I fear I may simply have exchanged one nightmare for another.

But at least my crew is safe. Zdanruvruk is back at the science console, looking as sheepish as a Reman can. And Aitra is watching me with those careworn eyes of his, as I sip the drink.

"Sir," he says, "what... what was it like?"

I take another sip. "Story for another time, Subcommander," I say. "Very definitely, a story for another time."
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