Former PWE Community Team Lead
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 9,046
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges!

Today we start the two-week run of the fiftieth Literary Challenge: Redux 2.0
Over the past couple of years, we've had some awesome Literary Challenges. As of late, more and more have been participating, and I've been receiving requests if authors can write an entry for a past challenge.

For the next two weeks, feel free to write an entry for one of the past Literary Challenges -- a complete list of previous topics can be found here. IMPORTANT: Please post your entry to this thread, rather than the old challenge thread, and include the title of the past literary challenge at the top of your post. Have fun!
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!!**
Brandon "BranFlakes" Felczer | Former Community Team Lead for Perfect World Entertainment

Last edited by pwebranflakes; 09-17-2013 at 03:27 PM.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 976
# 2
09-17-2013, 06:51 PM
Removed and reposted, forum is cutting my post off after an edit.

I don't know if there is a character limit after the initial post, but when editing my original post, I could not get the full thing to post again.
Vice Admiral Aznia Deet, Federation Ambassador, U.S.S. Federalist

Last edited by azniadeet; 09-19-2013 at 09:29 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 11
# 3 The path not travelled.
09-17-2013, 09:29 PM
Literary Challenge #49 : The Return of The Traveler

The cool metal of the phaser rifle pressed comfortably against her cheek; through the sight Octavia carefully scanned the corridor. Two strips ran down either side of the corridor slowly pulsing a deep red.

"Clear", the voice of Lt Hernandez whispered from the com unit nestled snugly in her left ear. He crouched quietly in a shadowed alcove nearby, his form appearing and disappearing with the alert lighting. His voice carried to her ear from the sub-vocal receptors built into the neck of his Polymorphic Armour. She wished the Captain hadn't decreed that all senior officers weren't to wear body armour while on the ship.

*Scares the new people, yeah right. What about the rest of us*

Hernandez's face emerged from the shadows looking expectantly at Octavia. She nodded slightly.

"Forward" again the whisper, presently three forms faded briefly into view as they moved down the corridor ahead. Squad three were "her squad" and Hernandez was their Sgt. No matter where Octavia found herself it always seemed that Squad Three were somewhere nearby. Officially attached to the Republic's MACO detachment they, as did a number of squads have a special assignment as security detail to the senior staff.

"Clear" a different voice, McNab, this time informed her. Hernandez was already moving forward down the corridor. Charlie would be behind them somewhere but with his stealth unit active he would be incredibly difficult to spot, but she could feel his presence behind her as she moved quietly but much less silently after Hernandez.

They arrived at the door, behind which sensors indicated the intruder had been detected.

*The new standard intrusion alert seems to be working*

She mused absently as Hernandez scanned the door with his tricorder. The captain had instituted the protocol after the third borg intrusion of the Republic. Red Alert indicator, no klaxon, a silent alert and the closest member of senior staff and the detail tasked with investigating the disturbance. She worried about the long term effects on the crew, operating on such a high level of vigilance but the fourth incursion had more then proven the effectiveness of the protocol.

Hernandez nodded and moved to one side of the door, raising his rifle to his cheek. Behind her she felt all emotion drain from team three, being replaced with a cold resolve and focus. She also felt their concern, one of sometimes uncomfortable situation she found herself in as Ship's Counsellor. The team thought of her as everything from their kid sister to something far more intimate in the case of Hernandez.

*Sigh, men*

She reached forward with her mind into the room beyond the door. The focus increased, they'd danced to this tune before and the team knew they were approaching the finale.

She sensed a mind in the room, but it was elusive, indistinct, much like trying to grasp smoke. It certainly wasn't Borg or any other race that she had encountered for that matter. She withdrew from the mind and opened her eyes. Hernandez, looked at her with a mixture of inquiry and concern. She nodded slightly, taking it as a signal he tapped the door control, the focus behind her like a laser as team three sought the target beyond with their scopes.

"Well hello Counsellor,"

The voice was strong and calm; she heard it echo in her mind as he spoke.

"I apologize if my method of arrival has caused any trouble."

If thoughts could kill she assumed that the alien sitting cross legged in the middle of storage locker 5 would have certainly been slain by team three. Opening his eyes, it was clear that he could also feel the weight of their focus.

"I'm known to your kind as 'The Traveller' and I must speak with your captain.

She lowered her rifle, as a sudden surge of memories flooded her mind and she knew who he was.

Standing slowly, her legs reminded her just how much adrenaline had been coursing through her veins she tapped the comm badge on the left side of her chest.

"Stand down from condition red"

Hernandez relaxed slightly but the focus from further up the corridor remained.

Turning she continued "Stand down". Moments later three forms resolved from the shadows of the corridor moments before lighting returned to its normal intensity. All wore combat armour and slightly sheepish expressions. Hernandez watched the Traveller, appraising him much as he would an opponent before combat.

"Octavia to Captain Fenton,"

Her badge chirped.

"Yes Commander," The captain's voice never failed to impress her, full of calm confidence tinged with cold resolve and a hint of implied violence.

"We have a guest captain, someone named 'The Traveller' I believe that his last contact with the Federation involved the USS Enterprise D."

"Jean Luc Picard?"

"Aye, sir".

The pause stretched, the squad moved forward with a look from Hernandez who moved to cover the intruder and protect Octavia should his intentions prove less then beneficent.

"Bring him to conference room one, Commander".

"Very good sir," The badge chirped again as the channel closed.

Stepping toward the alien she felt concern spike from the team, mcNab's rifle rising slightly almost of its own volition.

Raising an eyebrow and shooting a sideways glance at mcNab whose face immediately coloured, his mood changing to one of embarrassment, Octavia stepped closer to the alien and extended her hand to help him to his feet.

"Welcome to the USS Republic"

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

The turbo lift came to a stop, the doors opening with a hiss. The only thing Chisom hated more then Security drills was security incidents, they took him away from Engineering and his attempts to rebalance the Quantum Slipstream drive. As he moved around the edge of the bridge the crew seemed to sense his surly demeanor which only served to make him more grouchy.

*Damned telepaths!*

A young slip of a girl, Betazoid of course stiffened as he passed.

*Serves her right for not keeping he mind inside her own head*

The remainder of the crew flowed out of the Engineer's way has he moved to the door separating him from conference room 1.

The last encounter with the Borg had compromised over 40% of the ships distributed Anti-matter reactor network. It was a brilliant design and something that, even once they had adapted their tactics had slowed their assimilation of the Republic sufficiently for the crew to destroy their vessel and beam the remainder into open space.

*Good to see Alpha squadron got some target practice in* he thought, a grin tugging at the edge of his lip.

The door whisked open and he strode into the conference room. He was last of course, he always was these day. A place had been left for him near the door. The odd electronic speech of Kal zeth picked up as the door closed.

"Captain, we have no record of this 'Traveller'."

You didn't have to be an expert in body language to realize he saw the alien sitting across from Captain Fenton as a threat. Fenton's eyes, uncanny black orbs drew in the light but his gaze bore into the alien. To his left Commander Duchene glanced in his direction, an eye brow arched, silently commenting on his tardiness.

*Great another one*

She returned her gaze to the alien, her mouth twisting with a wry grin. Chisom felt uncomfortable on the Republic, he was terran, No, Human, on a ship where his race was in the minority. It wasn't something that he had ever experienced on a Federation star ship. The crew had a much higher proportion of Betazoids and Vulcans then he would have expected. His gaze moved over the captain.

*Then there's Fenton*

The captain was an alien, not of any species that he'd encountered, not that he'd travelled wildly but the captain was close to human physically, but far enough away to leave you with an uncanny chill in his presence.

"The traveller is an alien that the Federation last encountered quite a while ago. I believe that you were recruiting from Star Fleet's finest back then". Captain Fenton responded to the Breen officer's comment, his gaze locked on the Traveller and sporting a gin almost the mirror of Ailena's.

"Well it wasn't exactly like that, but it does explain my arrival here. I knew that, as a Federation star ship, you'd be privy to the records of my last meeting with your people. So, a more direct approach was called for."

*Ok, so he's a grey alien we've met before*

Chisom didn't see the appeal, the creature seemed to be a little taller than he was, grey skinned but otherwise humanoid in appearance, certainly nothing to draw such attention.

Aliena was looking directly at him; there wasn't even a hint of warmth in her eyes.

"The Traveller and his people share a preternatural ability for warp travel. They can manipulate warp fields, amongst other things using only the power of their minds".

She had him at Warp travel, he remembered now that he's read some older reports from a former Star fleet engineer, Fe'Forge maybe? He fell into the empty chair and worked on organizing the myriad questions he had for someone with such an intimate knowledge of subspace.

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

The plump one fell into the seat closest to the door. A moment later the translation circuits confirmed his understanding the Captain's response to his question.

*Hmm, yet another alien whose existence the Federation has concealed from the Confederacy.*

Aliena, the first officer returned her gaze to their "guest". He's seen that look from her before, not for the first time he was grateful that his physiology made it difficult for her to read his mind. He felt the gaze of another pair of eyes on him from further down the table, following the feeling he locked eyes with the ships' counselor. Well would have, had see been able to see through the visor of his environmental suit. While not all Breen required the suit to do more then obscure their appearance his species needed the suit for more then keeping up appearances.

The silence stretched before finally the "Traveler" continued.

"Yes, we have an affinity with warp travel. But we also seek out others with .. unique abilities, also places and events that are similarly momentous".

He, if it really was a he, was looking at him as he spoke.

"I'm uncertain as to what has drawn me to you at this time, but I am certain it will present itself soon enough. If you would extend me the courtesy of your company for a time captain we both may just witness something wondrous."

The environmental suit creaked slightly as he twisted to see the captain. He was considering, his black orbs seemed to be staring down the grey alien.

"Star fleet's mandate is one of exploration; we have a few days worth of additional repairs to complete before we move back into contested space. During that time consider yourself our guest."

The captain looked beyond him, his focus on someone further down the conference table.

"And since Ms Vaughn first made your acquaintance I am sure she will be more then happy to be your liaison while you are aboard."

The trilling voice of the young Betazoid Lt Commander responded from behind him.

"Certainly Captain."

The Traveler nodded slightly in appreciation.

"If that's all, we are adjourned. Mr Chisom if you could meet me in my ready room and update me on the status of our repairs"

The captain stood, and strode confidently through the door, followed closely by his clearly disappointed Chief Engineer. The other members of the Republic's senior staff broke up into small groups and gravitated toward the various exists of the conference room. Commander Vaughn stopped briefly to chat with the alien before she also departed.

He once more took stock of the alien and marveled, not for the first time how trusting the Federation was of alien species that it had only briefly encountered. That trust had afforded him the opportunity to serve on the Republic. His reverie was broken by another officer, the ranking wing commander of the Republic's Fighter Squadron passing him a PADD and waiting expectantly for him to review its contents.

*Back to work I guess*

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

The last of the officers exited the conference room, leaving the Traveler alone with his thoughts.

He had been certain that one of the eclectic collection of alien beings that made up to the Republic's command crew was the reason for his visit. But the sense still lingered, elusive but overpowering in it's intensity.

An ensign stepped from the alcove where she had been hidden, the PADD that she had been reviewing dropping to her side. The PADD was a ruse of course, he felt that immediately. He looked on her not only with his eyes and felt her uncanny nature well before he noted the way the green light roiled where here iris' should have been.

To the others she would have seemed completely normal and almost completely non-descript. But he, only sensing a sliver of her true nature knew better.

"So it is you who has brought me here"

It was a statement of fact, one "she" didn't even attempt to contradict.

"I have heard of your kind but it was been quite some time since I encountered one of you." her voice as sultry, he skin olive and her eyes burned with emerald light.

"You're the one the Q fear" again a statement, but even he was momentarily concerned by any being that gave the mercurial Q pause.

She laughed, her voice like chimes "They have good reason, although it isn't me personally that they fear".

He looked at her quizzically; she actually believed what she said. She took note of his confusion and only the hum of the ship's systems filled the growing void. Looking deeper he saw the difference, it was subtle, something the Federation crew would call a "Phase variance".

"You aren't from here, you're from somewhere else".

"How nice of you to notice." her response was tart and a little sarcastic.

Her confusion was clear now, as was the reason that he was drawn here.

"You are not unique here, once such as yourself exists in this universe. I can see that her story is different to yours. You are as light as she is dark, like two sides of a coin".

The realization slowly spread across the face of the body she wore, no not wore this one would have created it rather than stealing it.

"She is all that survived those events on this side of the mirror, as you are the survivor of yours. I have not met her, I only know of your and your kin. But she is vastly different both in form and countenance."

*The Q are wise to fear them*

She was quiet for a time, contemplating his words.

"I thank you, you have given me much to consider. This isn't something that I had anticipated."

He sensed the weight of her obligation then virtue of her calling and the depths of her despair in a moment. But only a moment before her control returned and her resolve solidified.

"But your presence here complicates matters." he could feel her gaze weighing alternatives, some of which clearly would involve his destruction.

"Might I make a suggestion?" he replied. Sensing his plan she raised an eye brow, a wry grin the only hint of assent.

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

Octavia reached forward with her mind into the room beyond the door. The focus increased, Team three had danced to this tune before and the team knew they were approaching the finale.

She felt nothing, her eyebrows furrowed and she looked toward Hernandez. Seeing her confusion he looked back at the tri-corder. She saw her expression mirrored on his face. He tapped the panel and the room to storage locker 5 sprung open. Hernandez was into the room before the door had even completely opened. McNab faded into view in the space he'd just vacated his rifle raised to his cheek.

"Clear", the voice was not augmented and came clearly from the storage locker. McNab flowed into the room as the last two members of the team took up flanking positions in the corridor.

"I was certain there was something there ma'am", Hernandez's voice was laden with suspicion. "Maybe we missed a Borg on the last sweep".

He had a point; the USS Enterprise had encountered a similar tactic used by the Borg in the past. The report that had become required reading at the academy.

She taped her badge.

"Computer scan this deck and report unauthorized bio signatures." A few chirps issued from her badge followed by the calm voice of the ship's computer.

"No unauthorized bio-signatures detected"

"Secure from condition red", taping her badge she then focused on Sargent Hernandez "Sweep this deck again it could have been a glitch but let's not take any chances.

With a nod Hernandez and his team split up and began a sweep for the deck. Turning to a section on the wall Octavia scheduled an engineering team to investigate the storage locker and surrounding corridors. As she worked an idle thought crossed her mind.

*I always thought mcNab had Blue eyes, why did they look green?*

Last edited by jaelk; 09-18-2013 at 01:41 PM. Reason: Correcting formatting and "Cut & Paste" errors.
Ensign
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Captain?s Log Stardate 91228.61

U.S.S. Saintchrist NX-94238-F

What should have been an easy patrol quickly transpired into a scenario I thought could never happen, an ambush by the Tal?shiar with small Breen elements while patrolling the outer fringes of the newly established Romulan Republic territory. We were light years away from the nearest Starbase or Republic ship taking the time of patrol as a brief respite from the problems with the Borg and Tholians. The Saintchrist survived but barely, I can still remember the events after we won that ambush.

Location: Bridge of the U.S.S. Saintchrist

Much of the Bridge is in shambles; consoles dead or flickering, everyone on the bridge are exhausted.

Vice Admiral Balthos: Two what?s the ships Status? I want a complete damage report.

Chief Engineer Two of Five: Much of the ship has taken extensive damage, we have hull breeches across the ship with force fields in place, the port nacelle has been completely destroyed and the warp core as you know was ejected to prevent a warp core breach when the port nacelle was destroyed. We are running on reserve generators to make up for the loss of the core.

Vice Admiral Balthos: send out a distress call to the nearest starbase or ship relaying our current status and situation report.

Two of Five: Unfortanely all out source communications from the ship is impossible, the Communications Array was also destroyed in the battle.

1st officer Takerra: Admiral with us on reserve power and our current power consumption were going to be dead half way to Starbase Sierra.

Vice Admiral Balthos: I see then I have no choice, I thought I?d never have to issue such orders as these: shutdown all non-essential equipment including the astrogation lab, All access to the turbo lifts are restricted and all personnel must travel through the Jefferies tubes, Evacuate and restrict access to sections of the ship with extensive damage. Reduce Sensor coverage to short range sensors; reduce life support to minimal use. As of this moment the entire ship is on replicator rations no more than one per day.

The Entire Command staff on the bridge nodded their assent of the orders and began to disperse all except 1st Officer Takerra who took a seat in the Admiral?s command chair.

Vice Admiral Balthos: Notify me if anything happens?

Takerra just nodded her ascent, she alone had served with the Vice Admiral since his command of the NX-Class Sangrail and knew entirely the pain he felt seeing his ship in tatters barely able to keep her crew alive.

That very evening the crew were gathered at the mess hall and the Admiral formally notified them all of the situation, many of the crew were crest fallen some of them were cadets fresh from the academy while others were veterans who survived the Saintchrist?s tour of duty against the Borg. The surprise to the Admiral was the crew?s determination and faith in him to bring them back home, they completely trusted him; after all he?d gotten them out of worse situations.

Week 5 Stardate: 91319.81

Location: Two months away from the nearest Federation Listening Outpost

Captains log: It?s been 5 weeks since the Tal Shiar and Breen ambush, Two has been able to patch up some parts of the ship using the supply?s from the cargo bay?s but she says the damage is too severe for her to fully seal all the hull breaches with the ships limited supply in the cargo bays. We?ve begun using the Hydroponics bay to increase our food rationing but so far it hasn?t been too much affect since only so much food can be produced from the bay?s vegetation. So far not a single ship has found us yet especially with communications out. Helm projects that at our current speed under Impulse power, 4.5, we should reach a federation listening post in the next two months. I?ve found myself extremely-

The Admiral?s Com-badge chirps and Takerra?s voice comes out of it along with the ship going to red alert.

Takerra: Admiral to the bridge

Vice Admiral Balthos got up from his chair in his ready room and walked out onto the bridge just as Takerra vacated his command chair for him and sat down next to it. As he sat down in his command chair he noticed the tension amongst his bridge crew.

Vice Admiral Balthos: Report.

Commander Loran Ecklat, the ships tactical officer: Short range sensors just detected a vessel de-cloaking directly ahead. What we can tell from our limited sensor coverage, their Romulan vessel but without boosting power to the sensors I can?t verify whether their Tal Shiar or Republic.

Vice Admiral Balthos looked to Two: What?s our Combat status?

Two of Five: Were not fit for combat, at best I can guarantee you 25% shields and limited Phaser fire up to 15%. After that?s exhausted we?ll be completely defenseless.

Vice Admiral Balthos chewed his bottom lip, the situation was a complete disadvantage and he could see from the view screen that they were facing something that he wished had not choose to find them, a Reman Scimitar.

Vice Admiral Balthos: Takerra I need suggestions

Takerra: For once sir I can?t offer you any, back on Andoria we?d ram our ships into the enemy when our own ships were this damaged and at a tactical disadvantage or flee if we could.

Just as the Vice Admiral was about to make up his mind the view screen started to flash in a series of bright lights each with a different interval.

Loran Ecklat: Sir it appears that the vessel is sending us a message but through Morse code. From what I can tell it say?s ?U.S.S. Saintchrist stand down, this is the Romulan Republic vessel I.R.W. Qortacis, if you can understand please lower your shields and allow us to dock with your ship.?

Everyone on the bridge was quiet and eventually it started out as a soft murmur but grew to an ecstatic cheer.

Vice Admiral Balthos: Loran send a reply by dropping our shields and standing down weapons, if we still have the forward overhead lights signal to them to dock on the starboard side of the ship. Takerra you have the bridge until I come back.

Takerra and Loran both smiled and nodded their assent. The Vice Admiral carefully made his way to the Starboard Docking hatch to greet their rescuers. When he arrived he found security already posted to the sides of the hatch but many of them didn?t have their weapons at the ready. The Hatch silently opened and it was the Vice Admiral who gasped for standing before him was someone he had not seen since his Commanding of the U.S.S. Mattaguchi and the days that Admiral Quinn Ordered him to work with the lady.

Vice Admiral Balthos: what in the hell are you doing here you Romulan Bastard?

Instead of a frown or scowl all that was on the admiral?s face was a smile as he completely hugged the lady.

Vice Admiral Balthos: It?s good to see you again Commander Elise.

Elise was surprised, she hadn?t expected this reaction from Balthos nor had she even expected him to even hug her.

Vice Admiral Elise: That?s Vice Admiral Elise, and yes it has been a while Balthos. Starfleet notified the Flotilla of your failure to rendezvous with Starbase Sierra at the end of your five day patrol of the edge of our space. We surmised that you most likely had been either captured by the Tal shiar, which Starfleet quickly disregarded saying that an Odyssey Class was too powerful to be captured unless by extreme measures. The other possibility we had was that your ship was somehow severely damaged with long range communications inoperable and warp drive offline. So the Flotilla dispatched me to find your ship and render any assistance.

Vice Admiral Balthos was still reeling from this and the smile never left his face even as they left the port docking hatch and headed for Main engineering through the Jefferies tubes.

Vice Admiral Balthos: To be honest many of us suspected that we?d run out of power even before we reached the nearest listening post to relay a distress call. It?s actually a miracle that you and the I.R.W. Qortacis arrived. Much of the ship is down in fact I believe you?ll see from the master ship display in Engineering.

Vice Admiral Elise simply nodded as the crawled through the Jefferies tubes; it wasn?t until she saw the main engineering that she saw the extent of the damage. Main Engineering was extremely damaged; there were chard patches of bulkheads and some of thoughs bulkheads were hanging from the ceiling. The warp core which should have been humming was gone which meant an event of dire circumstances nearly happened. She looked at the master Ship display and saw many sections of the ship were red, most especially at the port nacelle.

Vice Admiral Elise: Elise to Qortacis Beam over all repair supply?s to the Saintchrist and assists their engineers in any way possible. Set course for Starbase Sierra at warp 5 with the Saintchrist in tow.

Elise hadn?t even touched a com-badge; she simply spoke to her wrist and a voice most likely her first officer spoke out from it with their acknowledgement.

Vice Admiral Balthos: Thanks Elise, once again I owe you another one.

Stardate: 91327.45

Location: Starbase Sierra

Captain?s log: Were finally home at Starbase Sierra, it took us three days under the I.R.W. Qortacis?s warp power. Elise?s crew helped seal much of the Saintchrist?s Hull Breaches through temporary repairs; I?ve granted the crew two months shore leave while the ship is repaired. They?ve earned it with the things we?ve faced so far. As I make this log I find myself looking at the ship models of the classes I commanded and feel a source of pride, Each ship survived an encounter that almost destroyed it and each time brought the crew together stronger each time. I?ve requested with Starfleet Command to allow the Saintchrist to serve with the I.R.W. Qortacis as a liaison of the Federation given my Diplomatic authority as a federation ambassador. My request gratefully was approved and Starfleet has also dispatched some small fleets to help patrol and secure the Republic?s borders from the Tal Shiar. I can only hope that these engagements with the Tal Shiar don?t escalate to something far worse than piracy attacks on a legitimate and newly established Republic government.

The Com-badge Beeps: Admiral you?re going to be late for our match in the Holodeck and if you?re late then you?re going to have to face Kuroh?s wrath.

Vice Admiral Balthos: I wouldn?t miss that Takerra nor would I want our Klingon Chief of Security in a foul mood, I?ll be there shortly.

Vice Admiral Balthos got up from his chair and looked out the window for a brief moment and thought he saw a cloaked vessel but immediately disregarded it as his imagination setting course for the Holodecks.

Unbeknownst the Admiral that was a cloaked vessel specifically an alien cloaked vessel that hid itself in Subspace. Dire things were awaiting this galaxy and the Saintchrist.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 138
# 5
09-19-2013, 01:51 PM
literary challenge 38; we'll always have New York.

It was always a discussion I dreaded during the admirals table night. Engineering versus science versus tactics. And it always boiled down to a split in the senior staff, with science holding its own in the debate.

Yet right here and right now, that debate was rather moot as the question on every mind would entail just one thing which I summed up rather nicely. "Just where the hell are we?"

I found the utter silence on the bridge rather telling. But then, it isn't every day that a routine stargazing mission finds a star that causes subspace folding, which seems to have never been observed or quite understood before. And it isn't every day that subspace fold like that passes through your ship. Other then some bumps and bruises we were fine. Location wise it was another matter though. There was nothing there to remind us that we were in the Sol sector, one of the busiest sectors of the Federation.

And that was the reason the bridge wasn't silent anymore. It was Alouda, the deputy science officer. "Sir, we seemed to have been moved into another reality. And I'm cannot confirm this yet, but we seem to have been temporally displaced as well."

"Oh joy, quantum displacement and time travel in one package, how convenient." I didn't admonish Sil for his sarcastic comment since he was right anyway. I sighed, I knew of the headaches that involved time travel and I thought that whoever figured out the expression that when it rains it pours had obviously never been in command of a starship before.

That was when the navigational sensors started blaring a proximity alert.

That proximity alert turned out to be something huge.

That huge thing, turned out to be a Klingon Vo'Quv carrier! As she came on the screens I could only marvel at her size, especially when all of us on the bridge got to see it up close and personal, and without getting shot at in the proces.

I could also marvel at the ease by which she was handled. Like a swan she effortlessly passed over the Limburg, her bulky shadow doing nothing else then drowning the Limburg quite literally, and continued on for a short distance before coming about. Her bow was soon aimed in our general direction. Nothing else happened.

She didn't launch her fighters, nor did she power her weapons. In fact, the huge Vo'Quv just stayed there and did nothing. Only then did the com panel ping.

"We're being hailed, by the I.K.S Tor'Che." I knew that name a little too well. Her master and commander would be the Klingon equivalent of me, no matter which way you looked at it.

"That's an improvement, they wanna talk first instead of shooting us. On screen." I remarked to no one in particular.

"Ah, I see the Federation has run into the same problem as we have. How very fortunate." The certain sarcastic undertone surprised me. The sender of said message was someone I didn't expect to see as the intelligence reports had put her and her vessel at least three sectors away. The voice of the Klingon female wasn't as gruff as some of the male voices I had heard. In fact, I figured B'Valla to be rather intelligent for a change.

"General B'Valla, I thought you weren't anywhere near this bit of space."
"Ha! Admiral Torvan, it seems the fools at your Starfleet should send dedicated science officers to do a scientists work and not engineers." She almost snickered.

I wanted to bring the discussion back on topic before we got anymore creative on our insults. "Now that we have exchanged the usual pleasantries, would you happen to know where or when we are?"

"What's the date on your ship chronometer?" The question surprised me, yet I decided to answer it.

The answer didn't really surprise B'Valla "hmm, it seems we have been here about 4 hours longer then you. Perhaps this could be of some use to you."

Sil then reported from the tactical station that we were receiving a data package. The package turned out to be clean, and was soon rerouted to the science station. Here, Ozloe and Huey and myself studied the package with interest.

The stellar phenomena that the general had recorded didn't interest me as much as some of the old audio recordings that played. "What the hell?" I recognized the recordings a little too well.

Finally from the helm panel, Takerra chimed in. "Admiral, I think I have a fix on our position."

"Just how far from Earth are we?" I casually asked.

Takerra could only gawk. " How did you..."

I could only smile. "Did you catch that, general?"

"I did. I know you people know about quantum realities and all its assorted problems. I take it you checked that as well?" That question seemed odd for a science officer, even if it was a Klingon. But if B'valla had never been to a different quantum reality other then the Mirror 'verse before....

I nodded and motioned for Ozloe to transmit our own findings. B'valla briefly glanced sideways. "Grrr, just as I figured. You and me, we've been displaced in both time and space, and from the looks of things its about a 400 year displacement.?

We spoke the next words at the same time ?Now what??

B'valla had her answer ready first. ?If we do find a possibility to travel back, we'll need a reference.?

An audible groan escaped my lips. Earth, blending in and not mucking up a timeline....and keeping the Klingons under control at the same time... when it rains it definitely pours. I sighed, this would take some rather delicate maneuvering, but, I figured B'Valla had already figured that if we wanted to get out of here, we would need to cooperate. So I was sure she would go along with what I had in mind.

"I think I know the place where we can get that reference. There are however some conditions."

When there was no response, I gave B'Valla the conditions and added that we were in this mess together, and that it would be better if we cooperated. All I got in reply was a smile and yet another question.

"Wouldn't it be a little dishonorable to blow you and your vessel to atoms at a time like this? Its obvious the galaxy threw us both a curve, I think we may need each other to get out of this."

B'Valla closed the com link before I could answer.


To make a long story somewhat shorter, the voyage to Earth was boring. There were a few stellar oddities here and there, but these weren't interesting enough to study yet. In 400 years this would be different though.

Getting into the solar system was an entirely different matter though. Oh, the Klingons had their nifty gadget in the form of a cloaking device but we didn't have that luxury. Instead, we found a way to use the shields to diffuse any kind of early space monitoring devices of which I was sure there were plenty already in orbit.

We were scanning like crazies though. Most of the broadcast channels we picked up were transmitting gibberish entertainment programs. We had a fair sized group of amateur holo novel writers aboard and a smaller group of historians aboard. I was sure they would be thrilled about this. After all, it isn't everyday you get a chance of add to the historical databanks in such a way.

Then there were the data streams. The volume and content were staggering in their own way. Games, movies, data on anything and everything. Again we recorded what we could. I was pretty sure that B'Valla was doing the same over on her ship.

I did not expect her to call, but she did. I didn't expect to see that kind of facial expression either. There was a seriousness about her as if she had heard from Chancellor J'mpok himself out here.

"We have something you should look at." A light in the armrests of the command chair indicated a data transmission. The contents of that data transmission made me shiver, I didn't bother looking or asking why the Klingons had been scanning for that sort of thing exactly as I pretty suspected that they used their chance of learning about Earth without any kind of Starfleet vessels shooting at them.

"What do you propose we do about this?" her question seemed valid.

"Joint operation?" I chided myself for asking the question without actually thinking about it "I know from the file we have that you detest bio weapons rather intensely. I don't fancy the thought of something like that going of in a population center in this day and age."

B'Valla smiled "I'm glad you see it my way. I do indeed find it dishonorable to kill an enemy with a bioweapon. Although the Federation and thereby Earth are an enemy it would bring dishonor to attack in this fashion."

And so the preparations began.

Since the Klingons had the cloaking device it was soon decided that we would use the Vo'quv to get to transporter range of Earth. We would both provide tactical and support teams. I had to swallow my pride a little bit. The Klingons had the bigger crew so they would play the bigger part. B'Valla had one other surprise in store. She, and two of her officers wanted to be part of the away team. I told her she would have to do her best to look as human as possible to fit in.

About four hours later I got to see the results.

By then, we were aboard the Tor'Che, in one of the conference rooms, waiting for the Klingon part of the team as the larger main entrance door finally opened to reveal B'Valla and her two officers.

“Oh boy!” Sil, who had been my tactical choice for this mission recognized the Orion woman as soon as I did. Her dress choice didn't help that much with the need to blend in. It was a dull black low cut affair that exposed bits that wouldn't normally be exposed. Her skin had a somewhat tanned complexion instead of the usual green.

Both B'Valla and her own tactical officer, which was a Klingon male that seemed to be 7 foot tall or thereabouts, were rather more successful in their attempts at blending in. The male wore a long leather jacket and seemed to have a full set of matching hair that covered his ridges. He also had a pair of sunglasses on his head. B'Valla had her hair in the same way, a full head of it that covered her ridges, and was wearing a short leather jacket, jeans and sneakers, just like I was. She too had a pair of sunglasses on her head. I couldn't really tell if the general was even wearing make up or not.

Luckily both Sil and Ozloe knew better. Sil had chosen jeans, sneakers and a parka coat. Ozloe was wearing a business suit, without a tie and had the top two buttons of her blouse undone. On her feet were low heels and she had removed her Trill spots.

“Nice choice, although your Orion leaves little to certain imaginations.” Even the Klingon male had to laugh and answered in B'Valla her place “Since Neela is a bit of student of Earth history, mostly the entertainment, or so I believe, she figured this wouldn't attract all that much attention.” My thoughts were already heading in the opposite direction. Neela would attract too much attention.

From the corner of my eye I could see a little speck of doubt by the general, but something like this would be her job to correct, not mine.

I eyed my replicated watch. It was almost time. Further thoughts were interrupted by the ships PA system. My Klingon wasn't as good as Sil or Ozloe so I had to look to them for a translation. “ That was the helm. We're almost at our destination.”

I knew B'valla meant business. I never knew just how much business she actually meant.

The conference room was equipped with a large screen. I was a little surprised to see the general walk up to the screen and activate it with a few swipes of her hand. She noticed my astonished face. “What? You guys are not the only one with tech like this.”

With little to no effort at all a grid came up that displayed a group of buildings that seemed to have a glass facade. The general adjusted the display until the resolution was as sharp as any of the images we could display on our own screens.

“The scans show the weapon to be inside of the central building. Unfortunately neither we nor you have been able to do much more then determine a general location. Scans of the general area have been somewhat obscured through a larger combination of human life signs and exhaust fumes amongst others.”

She was right. Although my knowledge of the 21st century was rather scant, I knew that aerial pollution was a bit of a problem back then. Esspecially in the big cities.

B'Valla went on “We've managed to glean some information from earth's data net about the area its self. It seems our target is a convention center, in a city called New York.”

“Interesting” I muttered it half aloud.

“Oh, that isn't interesting. The really difficult stuff is in getting to this convention center and getting in.” B'Valla then proceeded to fill me in on the rest of her plan.

Our first step would be to beam down to a nearby filled to capacity parking lot. From there would make our way on foot to the center where we would begin our search. From the pictures I had my doubts about our beam in point. If there was something happening there, our arrival in a show of light could also attract unwarranted attention, and that was the last thing we wanted.

After beaming in we would make our way into the convention and spread out for the search. When we found what we were looking for, we would relay coordinates to the Tor'Che which would beam out the object. After that we would leave the convention and 'disappear into the night'. For some odd indescribable reason it sounded a little too good to be true.

It wasn't, up to the part where we would make our way into the convention, everything had gone according to plan. What happened next, even Lieutenant General B'Valla couldn't have forseen.

As we stood in line to get in to the center I was surprised at first that Neela wasn't oggled any more then she already was. It lessened when she 'attached' herself to the 7 foot Klingon tactical officer. Since she was also the only one who had some experience with money, the Orion woman also paid our entrance fees.

After that, we split up and went off to search.

I found myself partnered with B'Valla, who asked me just one question “ If you're an engineer, how would you enhance the spread of a bio weapon?” She looked at me with an intensity that told me that I'd better have my knowledge prepared.

I looked up briefly and soon spotted what I was looking for. An air conditioning duct. “The usual way, through the environmental systems.”

A somewhat toothy smile was my answer. “Very good. Now shall we find an access?”

I didn't reply as my attention was caught by something, or rather someone else that came out of a door somewhere to our rear. “What the...” My mouth almost fell open at the sight.

And as curious as she probably was, the Klingon general turned around to see what I was looking at. She was in time to see her own surprise, or rather, two of them.

Klingon warriors. And just in front of them was a Starfleet captain, as he would have looked during the time of either admiral Sulu or the last commander of the Enterprise-C, Rachel Garret.

“Isn't that captain rather out of uniform?” B'Valla seemed somewhat perplexed or was it surprised by the two Klingon warriors. She halted her step. I could see her other surprise as the two Klingon warriors and the captain struck up a rather friendly conversation that I could follow easily. B'Valla was still a little perplexed and I was pretty sure her curiosity was getting the better of her. I felt her eyes upon me. I nodded. My curiosity was getting the better of me as well.

So we did it, we followed the three people. We followed them until they entered a room. As we wanted to enter the room we were prevented from doing so by some one that looked and acted like security. As it turned out we needed to either have tickets or be in some kind of uniform. B'Valla was a little shocked and surprised. I managed to steer her back to our own mission with very little effort.

For a brief moment I wondered what was going on in that room. And this time, I was pretty sure that B'Valla wondered the same. “You know, we could always beam back in uniform after we've dealt with that bio-weapon.”

The response was the Klingon variant of a chuckle. “Are you sure you're not a Klingon, admiral?”

That made me chuckle. In this way I didn't notice B'Valla tense up. That stopped as soon as the Klingon general put an arm on my shoulder. “Look at that.”

That, was a young woman, wearing her dark hair in a ponytail and wearing something that identified her as belonging to some sort of service company. She was also carrying a mobile device and was holding it to her ear. She seemed to be rather tense. Maybe even a little to tense.

“Shall we?” as casual as possible we began to follow the woman. I started to tense when we followed her into the basement, away from anything that looked like either locker rooms or control centers or the like.

Within a minute I realized we found what we had been looking for. Two men about the age of the woman were providing security and look out whilst two others were fiddling with a container. B'Valla was already going for her 'phone'.

“That would be a little useless down here, don't you agree?” the rhetorical question froze me in my tracks. It was the sixth man, a man that we hadn't seen. And he was carrying a weapon, a slug thrower, something that were we were from would be outdated beyond belief but not here. Here, at this short distance, a weapon like this would be dangerous. I had my hands hanging to the sides and slowly put them in my jacket pocket and reached for the 'phone'.

The phone that we had would be a little different then the usual thing these people would be used too. In both mine and B'Valla her case, the phones would double as a communication device and a tricorder amongst a 'few other functions'. One of those functions would be considered a subspace ELT. Once activated, this beacon would alert any and all members of an away team that one of their own was in trouble.

I was able to activate the ELT by pressing three times on what on a normal phone would be a photo button. Then I handed the phone over.

Number six, as I thought of him, now seemed a little more happy. “Good, good. This way.” The woman we had followed now opened a door and motioned us inside. B'Valla and I walked into a room that contained a single desk, undecorated brick walls and a lot of piping. Near one of the pipes was the access required for what I thought was the bio weapon that was brought in behind us by the two men that had been fiddling with it. The phones were laid down on the desk and the door was locked behind us.

Number six seemed ecstatic. “To think that all I had to was wait for some pigs to fall into my trap.”

“Pigs?” I could see B'Valla didn't quite understand.

“You don't fool me with that, you Federal types are all alike, wanting people to conform like you do.”

Right there and then I suspected that our number six had a few issues.

“Conform? to what?”

I didn't expect six to answer, but he did. “To your school of thinking, that the government is always right. It isn't.”

“So, resistance is futile and we all need to be assimilated?”

That remark got me a full on hit on my left cheek and a curious eyebrow from the Klingon general. It was hard enough to make me taste blood. Other then that I didn't flinch. Neither did B'Valla. She growled instead. I caught a few words. Dishonor was amongst them.

For a brief instant I thought the hit on my cheek had done more damage as I heard a beeping sound off in the distance that was getting louder by the second. And just as I looked at the table and six was about to hit me again, the world turned white.

Last edited by rextorvan36; 09-26-2013 at 03:15 PM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 147
# 6 Redux - LC45, Freestyle
09-19-2013, 04:14 PM
Present day.

I can't open my eyes.

I'm trying...really trying.

But I can't.

Wait...am I breathing?

Am I dead?

No...I can feel something...somebody's holding my hand.

Wet.

A tear drop? On my cheek?

How the hell can I feel that?

Why the hell can't I OPEN MY EYES?!?!


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

Tripler Starfleet Medical Center, Oahu

L'naa gently kissed Nico's forehead, whispering tenderly, "I know what to do." She smiled and wiped another tear from her eye. "I promise things will be alright."

A cough sounded from the doorway. "Don't make promises you might not be able to keep, youngun." Doc Irve slowly walked over to her, arms crossed. "I can tell you this...when you make a promise you can't keep, you'll regret it. Trust me on that."

L'naa stood up and faced him. "I do trust you, Doctor," she said, still holding Nico's hand. "I would not have asked for your assistance in this matter if I did not."

He frowned, quietly saying, "I know you do. I don't like what yer asking." He sighed. "But I don't have to like it...and I like seeing these two in a coma even less," he added, motioning to Nico and Sotek lying motionless on the two biobeds. He looked at the readings on the wall mounted display, shaking his head. "You sure about this?"

She smiled, nodding, "Yes, Doctor. Of this I am sure."

"Ok then...I'm as ready as I'll ever be," Doc Irve growled.

L'naa looked up, calling out, "Q? I know you can hear me." The room went deathly quiet, and a cloud chose that moment to cross the sun, darkening the room. "I need your help."

Nothing.

L'naa lowered her head and closed her eyes.

"Please."

And the room dissolved into a bright nothingness.

*************
Doc? Doc? I can hear you! What don't you like?

L'naa?

L'naa? Help me!

Damn it...why can't I OPEN MY BLOODY EYES!?!


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

The brightness dimmed, and the world came into focus. L'naa opened her eyes, blinking hard to chase away the spots. She squinted as her normal vision returned, looking out a set of windows at a Class-M planet she didn't recognize. Turning around, she saw what looked to be the observation lounge on a Galaxy-class starship. Doc Irve stood at one end of the table, mouth agape as he stared at the wall. L'naa looked over to the wall, and her jaw involuntarily dropped down.

Tradition on most Galaxy-class ships held that models of previous vessels bearing that ship's name were displayed on the wall opposite the observation windows. Sometimes there was a single starship, sometimes a veritable fleet of sea-going and orbital ships from Earth's history.

Instead, 47 portraits covered the wall...all of members of the OG.

The portraits were what Nico called the 'hero pose', a ship's senior officers lined up on the bridge. The people were the same...but different. Nico was absent in one, Sotek in another. Uniforms were different...and L'naa suppressed a blush at one picture that portrayed her in a barely-there version of what she knew as the Mirror Universe standard. There was no logical order to the way the pictures were arranged...ones of her as an Ensign were mixed with those of her as an Admiral. She looked towards the one that Doc Irve was staring at, and was horrified: half of Nico's face was twisted in a hideous burn, while Sotek was missing an arm. Sara's innocent face was also covered in terrible scars, and Arky's antenna were replaced by evil looking Borg-type facsimiles.

Doc Irve's voice was barely above a whisper, "My God."

A bright flash at the other end of the table popped Q into the room, stating, "God? God has nothing to do with this." Q was wearing a Fleet Admiral's uniform from 2290, with dozens of medals pinned on both sides of his chest. "And neither did I. This?" he asked, motioning to the portraits, "...this is...well....it is what it is. Or may be. Or was." An impish grin appeared on his face, and he continued, "But that's not of much help now, is it?"

Doc Irve glowered at him. "Damn you...are you going to keep playing games? What the hell give you the right--"

And Doc Irve disappeared in a flash, where a tribble the colour of his hair popped down on the table.

L'naa shook her head. "Please Q. Don't do this."

Q pointed at the tribble. "You ask for my help, then curse me? That's not very nice now, it is?" He looked at his reflection in the window, pointing at one of the ribbons on his uniform. "Did your Starfleet really once give out medals just for passing Basic Training?"

L'naa lowered her eyes. "Q...I do need your help. We need your help. We are," she said, motioning to the screeching Tribble, "just very tired. I apologize for the doctor. Please."

Q snapped his fingers, and the tribble vanished. "Since you asked so politely. Manners count, you know. Do you really want him here? He's not necessary for what you're asking."

"Doc Irve has earned the right to be here. He has always been there for us. He has earned my respect countless times over." She paused, sensing that emotion was creeping into her explanation when she needn't explain herself. "Yes. I do want him here."

Q caught that pause, and smiled. It seemed like a genuine smile, not his usual smirk. Was he pleased that L'naa was regaining her usual control?

"Well," Q said, "if you're sure, you're sure." He again snapped his fingers and Doc Irve popped into existence once more. "Hopefully he'll play nice...or next time I'll turn him into a targ."

Doc Irve pursed his lips and tilted his head forward, hooding his eyes, but he kept silent.

Q pulled out the seat at the head of the table, saying, "Good enough." He sat, undoing the clasp at the right hand corner of his uniform. "I don't quite get the fashion choice here...but I like the look of it."

Doc Irve opened his mouth, but L'naa spoke first. "Q...please." She swallowed, wondering how to proceed. "The uniform is fascinating, as are the decorations. But I need your undivided attention to solve this problem."

Q looked offended. "Solve?" he asked. "Do you think you can solve this? Because you can't. You can just accept it. That is the main problem...you and your Captain, always trying to *solve* things that just *are*." He played with the clasp on his uniform. "And I can multitask very efficiently...just like you have, in the past, within the training pods at the Vulcan Science Academy." He frowned. "Haven't you figured it out yet that distracting you with questions not related to current events broadens your perception? Improves problem solving?" Q sighed, continuing, "Even Klingons play plasma-mine-find on their PADDs when thinking of whom to fight next."

L'naa took a seat at the center of the table. "I apologize."

Q smirked at her. "Hmmph. Accepted." He looked at Doc Irve, who took that as an invitation to join them at the table. Q waited for the doctor to sit, then asked, "So...how do you wish to proceed?"

L'naa again swallowed, her mouth dry. "I have come to the conclusion that our entire group is required here to address the issue," she said, avoiding saying that she wanted to solve the problem. "It appears that the Captain and Sotek are in comas because their minds have fragmented due to the anomaly we experienced."

"Ah yes...the mirrorred mirror room at the Academy." He raised an eyebrow, stating, "a most interesting chain of events." He lowered his voice, asking, "are you surprised at the lengths that other you went to? What she did?"

L'naa stood up and walked to the replicator, punching the preset for a cool glass of water. She watched it coalesce, then picked it up and took a sip. "No, Q," she said, "I am not surprised. Vulcan emotions can be quite...powerful. But I do not answer for her. I only answer for myself."

Q straightened in his seat, beaming. "Yes! You're figuring it out all by yourself!"

L'naa ignored the condescension, returning to the table. "We are each responsible for our own actions, not those of others. I cannot control the other realities...I can just do what I can to live in mine." She took another sip of water. "I need your help to stop the anomaly that you started."

"What *I* started?" Q asked. "Me?"

Sitting down, L'naa said, "Yes, you. You did the favour for the oldest version of Nico." She pointed to the corresponding portrait on the wall. "That action with the Red Matter...that cracked open the multiple universes in Nico's mind. And that was the breaking point."

Q frowned, asking, "You believe that if I left it up to you to resolve that day, you would have debated a different outcome? And your Captain wouldn't reach this breaking point?"

With confidence, L'naa answered. "Correct. *We* would have debated it. *We* would have done it. And then *we* could own the choices we made. By interfering...you denied us choice."

"Which *we* are you talking about...*we*, the people in this universe, or *we* the L'naa's throughout the universes?" Q asked.

"Both," L'naa stated. "I appreciate that you did this to help the oldest Nico, but in doing so, harmed so many."

Q scowled, "Yet here you are asking for my help. Won't that bring more harm?"

L'naa raised her head. "The being I now know as T'rvor...The Traveler...repaired the other universes...the other timelines...the other realities...when he met my counterpart. The one who..." L'naa's voice trailed off.

"The one who took drastic measures," Doc Irve said. "That's not you, youngun...just remind yourself that."

"How supportive, Doctor," Q said without a trace of sarcasm. "Interesting euphemism for suicide. Not a choice of a sane being."

Doc Irve seethed at Q, "Don't you get sanctimonious on me. Your kind had their own issues with suicide...or have you forgotten?"

"Quinn," Q said, sadly. "No...I have not forgotten. Again...not the choice of a sane being. But I don't feel like debating that, Doctor. Point taken." Q looked to L'naa, asking, "So...what *exactly* are you asking my help with?"

*********
Damn it, why can't I open my eyes?

<Flash>

I opened my eyes.

And closed them again.

Q.

I sighed, "If I'm dead...then this must be hell if you're here."

An unfamiliar voice cut through the air, demanding, "What is the meaning of this, Q?"

I opened my eyes, and took in the room. It looked like an Observation Lounge, and it was full of people that looked as confused as I was.

Q was standing at the head of a table, arms open towards a bearded Starfleet officer. "Come now, Billy...haven't you learned any manners over the years? Ladies and Gentlemen...may I present Billy Riker of the Titan?"

An attractive brunette placed her arms around Riker, saying, "Will, no. Don't." She stared at Q, lowering her head. "Q, we are in the middle of an important meeting...crucial to the development--"

"Crucial meeting, Deanna?" Q interrupted. "You both got off duty and were playing with your daughter!"

Riker growled at Q, "That *is* crucial, Q. Time with Tasha is *the* most important thing to us."

Q smiled, gesturing to the room. "See, everyone...even Neanderthals can learn something given enough time!"

I grabbed a seat and flopped down. "Q," I said, exhausted, "If you're not gonna explain what's going on, I beg that somebody else will."

"I second that," came a voice from across the room, a voice I had not heard in some time. Arky looked around the room, pausing when he noted his wife beside him. He stepped forward, and made a semi-bow towards Q, saying, "Kindly return Sara and I to our home. We have nothing to contribute here."

Sara's mouth was agape, eyes a mix of confusion and happiness. She was happy to see us, happy to be on a Starfleet vessel...but confused as to the why.

That made two of us.

"I also concur," Sotek groggily said. My friend was in a hospital gown, frowning at the group he stood before. I looked down and noticed I was in a similar gown, and the events of the past few months came rushing back.

Good thing I was sitting.

Q's voice took on an edge, and he loudly proclaimed, "You all have something to contribute...and I will address each of you in turn. Please be seated." When nobody moved, Q snapped his fingers, and everyone was now seated at the table. "Now, please direct your attention to the lady in the middle, and she'll make things clear to you."

I looked over and saw L'naa grabbing at a glass of water. More memories came flooding back to me, and I thought that I would be sick.

L'naa said, "I am sorry to bring you here," she said. "Or rather, that Q has brought you here. But I desperately need your help..."

"An' I'll be happy to help you oot, lassie...but yuv got to tell me what ya need 'fore I can give it." This came from an older man in civilian dress. I tilted my head, recognizing the face. Montgomery Scott! My mouth dropped open in astonishment, and I looked around the table to see who else was at this party.

Q sat at the head of the table, Sara and Arky to his right. L'naa was in the middle, with Sotek beside her. Billy, or Will, sat between Deanna and Doc Irve. An elderly Vulcan male sat next to Deanna, and my jaw dropped more when I recognized him as Ambassador Spock. With him on one side, and Mr. Scott on the other, I was surrounded by legends.

And more confused than ever.

"Please," I croaked, "somebody fill me in before my head explodes."

"I'd pay to see that," spit out Arky.

Sara slapped his hand, "You stop that now, Blue Boo."

Q chortled, "Blue Boo?"

Sara blushed, shrinking down in her seat. She starred daggers at Q, "Yeah. Blue Boo. You got a problem with that?"

"Oooh, I like her!" said Mr. Scott.

Deanna leaned forward, saying, "Please...I believe the Commander was explaining things?"

L'naa took a deep breath. "Thank you Ma'am...my name is L'naa."

"Deanna Troi. This is my husband, Captain William Riker. And Ma'am is my mother...please call me Deanna."

"Thank you...Deanna." L'naa took another drink of water, emptying the glass. She pointed around the table. Captain Sotek, of the Honolulu. Captain Garret, of the Bonaventure. Doctor Irve, CMO of the Bonaventure."

Q interrupted, "Let me speed things along...Mister Scott, formerly of the Enterprise, and Ambassador Spock, formerly of this universe. And little Sara and her Blue Boo round things out."

"Q, please," L'naa said. "Please."

Q waved his hand. "Very well. I will refrain from interrupting, else I cause some other calamity." He tilted his head towards Arky. "Sorry, Blue Boo."

Arky puffed his chest but said nothing. From what I remember, that was a bad sign. He exhaled slowly, saying "Insult me if you wish, Q. Get it over with. I refuse to react, as it wouldn't do any good."

Deanna spoke quietly, "L'naa, please continue. What is this all about?"

Her voice a whisper, L'naa said, "Again, I am sorry that you were brought here. But we need your help. *I* need your help."

Ambassador Spock's voice was strong, and he asked, "What type of assistance do you require, L'naa?"

"Advice," L'naa said. "Guidance. You were brought here because you exemplify the solution to the problem before us."

Q wagged his finger, saying, "Uh uh uh, Commander. No solutions."

"I mispoke," L'naa said. "Rather, your reaction to situations...they are what we need to strive towards."

Mr. Scott's brogue cut the air, "Aach...whut do ya think ya can learn from the likes of me? Unless ya need yer ship fixed, that is."

L'naa breathed out slowly, answering, "Mr. Scott...I ask you to remember the loss of Midshipman Preston."

Mr. Scott sadly shook his head. "Lassie, why'd ya wanna go and bring that up for?"

Doc Irve spoke up. "Loss, Mr. Scott. She wants to know how you dealt with that loss?"

"Aye. A hard loss it was." He blinked away a tear, saying, "I lost my nephew because of a treacherous sneak attack by a snake called Khan. He attacked the Enterprise because of the Cap'n...and for a while I blamed Jim Kirk for it."

Arky hissed, "Sounds familiar."

Mr. Scott looked at him sadly, "Did ya lose somebody close to you, laddie?"

Arky lowered his eyes, saying, "*My* nephew also died because of *my* Captain."

His voice took on a tender lilt, "Laddie...did yer Cap'n kill yer nephew?"

"He flushed him into vacuum. Cut away a nacelle he was in."

"Well, a Cap'n don't cut away a perfectly good nacelle, does he? An accident, I take it?" Arky didn't answer, but nodded. "Like recognizes like, laddie. Yer an Engineer, right?" Another silent nod from Arky. "Then you know better than most...things break. Machines aren't perfect...and they break. If they didn't break, they wouldn't need us ta fix dem, would dey? Yer nephew...another Engineer?"

This time Arky creaked out a barely audible, "Yes." His voice grew stronger. "And a damn good one."

Mr. Scott smiled, "Of that I have no doubt. And as such...he knew the risks. As do you. Rememba when ya first stepped on the decks of a ship? How did ya feel? Did ya care about the risks?"

Arky stared at Mr. Scott, saying, "No. I just wanted to be there."

"As did yer nephew, laddie. As did mine. And we all know that things break, and we do our damned best to fix them. Most of the time we can...but there are some times," he said, nodding towards Ambassador Spock, "that we canna fix them. But don' waste yer time hating someone who didn't break the thing on purpose. Take it from an old man...it is not worth the effort."

Arky sat back in his seat, crossing his arms. He looked down, a tear running down his face. Sara turned and placed her arm around him, whispering something into his ear. Mr. Scott smiled at the display of emotion, as did Deanna and Will.

Riker waited a moment, and spoke to Q. "So if we're abject lessons for these people, what do I teach them?"

Q pointed to L'naa, saying, "She's chairing this meeting, Billy. Do keep up. But wait...she wouldn't know about Tommy, would she?"

Deanna broke in before her husband could retort. "Q, it would be most appreciated if you stop provoking Will."

"Fine," Q said, dismissing her concern with a wave of his hand. "I'm not getting a rise out of him anyways. Seems like you've mellowed in your old age, Captain Riker. Put on some weight, too.."

"Q," Deanna said.

"Withdrawn, Counselor." He smiled at Riker. "Had to give it one more shot."

Riker glared at Q, stating simply, "I wouldn't expect anything less from you, Q." He swiveled his seat towards L'naa, saying, "I'll assume that Q is speaking about my...brother..." Riker frowned, not knowing how to continue.

Deanna took his hand, saying, "Years ago, there was a transporter incident. Will's pattern was divided, and a copy was...left...on a planet for quite some time."

Riker leaned forward, taking over from his wife. "But to him, he was abandoned. And it ate away at him. He changed...became what I could have been. And afterwards, he did some things I'm not proud of." He stood up, and walked towards the replicator.

Q noted this, and snapped his fingers. "I'm not a very good host, am I?" he asked, as flashes of light popped over the table briefly, glasses of water now appearing in front of each person. "I'm out of practice...something Lady Q insists I work upon."

It was Riker's turn to smirk. "Lady Q?" A glare from Deanna stopped him from going further, so he addressed the group. "For the longest time I was preoccupied with what could have been...with a reality that wasn't real for me, but was for Thomas." Riker sat down again, sighing. "It took a while to accept that he did what *he* did. Not me. It's in the back of my mind that I *could* be capable of what he did, if circumstances were different...but you can't live life constantly questioning 'what if." Deanna proudly smiled at her husband, and he took her hand in his. "I learned to live *my* life, not somebody else's."

His words were resonating in my mind, and it felt like a switch was tripped. I blinked...and it appeared that there was one less portrait on the wall then there was when I first opened my eyes.

Q pointed to the wall behind Riker, asking him, "Aren't you at all curious about the 'you' in those universes? About the other Deanna's? About the Tasha's, and the Jonathan's, and the Christine's?"

Riker squared off against Q, not taking the bait. "No. They live their lives. I live mine. What will happen...will happen. And I'd be foolish to try and change it."

Ambassador Spock's calm voice came quietly from beside me. "I too understand this, and commend Captain Riker for learning that lesson while still young." A bemused grin came from Riker, as if to ask the definition of 'young', but he said nothing. Spock continued, "and I can only infer that my contribution to this is to advise you to not try to alter the events of alternate realities." He looked around the table, holding Mr. Scott's gaze longer than the others. "I have a...unique...insight into this. And to further explain may alter this timeline, and cause inadvertent damage. So I will not tell you whether or not one should attempt to alter different realities...I only ask you to do what you feel is right."

Q wagged his finger at the Ambassador, saying, "Now now, Mr. Spock...that's a cop out."

"I beg to differ," Spock said. "It appears that the events this crew is dealing with were caused by interference. Yours. Explaining my experiences after leaving their reality could affect their future choices, creating a predestination paradox." He looked directly at me, saying, "and that would cause more damage than my silence. Do you not agree, Captain?"

I looked at the elderly legend sitting next to me, my jaw agape. I realized that this was my default expression when faced with multiple reality situations, and promptly shut my mouth. I pointed to the portraits on the wall, asking, "Ambassador...is one of those realities yours?" Too late to retract my question, I realized that he wouldn't possibly know.

He looked at me with kind eyes. "Yes, Nico. We have met. One of those realities is where I...reside...now." He winked mischievously, adding, "And I will not say anything other than I recognize the fact that your crew...your friends...they will go to extreme lengths to help one another. As Mr. Scott said...like recognizes like."

Mr. Scott clasped my shoulder, saying, "Amen to that."

My mouth popped open again, and I struggled to shut it this time.

Deanna was next to speak. "Q, it seems that you have brought them here," she motioned to Will, Mr. Scott, and Ambassador Spock, "for reasons that are clear. But why am I here? I don't sense any emotions from this crew that would lead me to believe my presence is also required."

L'naa was the one to answer, "Deanna...may I ask a personal question? I do not mean to be intrusive...but I feel I may know why you are here."

Deanna looked uncomfortable, and Riker grasped her hand more tightly. She looked at him, and he answered with eyes that spoke volumes. "Commander," he said, "we've been though a lot over the years. A *lot* of painful experiences. Is your question really necessary?" He leaned towards L'naa, imploring upon her not to cause his wife any pain.

"Will...it's alright," Deanna said softly. "I sense a...familiar feeling." Deanna blushed as she realized what she was feeling, then gave L'naa a gentle smile. "Go ahead."

It was L'naa's turn to blush, and she cast her eyes down. "Taking responsibility for your own choices...I don't know how to do that with..." her voice went quiet, and she didn't continue.

Q spoke up after a moment. "Come now, Commander," he said. "You asked for my help, so I brought them here. They opened themselves up to some painful memories to answer your questions...it would only be courteous for you to open *yourself* up as well."

Doc Irve jumped up from his seat, yelling at Q, "You leave her alone! You--"

"It is fine, Doctor," L'naa broke in. "It is only fair."

Mr. Scott leaned forward in his chair, whispering to Ambassador Spock, "Remind you of somebody?"

"Indeed," the Ambassador whispered back.

Deanna turned towards L'naa, and spoke softly. "I haven't met any empathic Vulcans with your level of control before. But I can answer your question without you asking it." She took a breath, and smiled. "You care deeply for him...and fear what might happen. You fear what decisions you might make...you fear making the wrong one. But to not act on your feelings...then you will remain in that limbo of 'what if'." She turned to Riker. "And a wise man once said you can't live life constantly questioning 'what if'." Deanna stood up, and Riker also rose. "Q...I believe that we are done."

Q smirked, saying, "Yes...I suppose we are." He snapped his fingers, and Will and Deanna vanished into a flash of light, as did Mr. Scott and Ambassador Spock. He looked smug, pleased with himself. "Thought that they'd be the right ones to talk to you. Picard and Crusher...well..." he paused. "I've pestered Picard enough in this lifetime."

I had to break the awkward silence that followed.

"Ok...what now? I mean...I've been through counseling before. Seems like this point is what a counselor would call a good starting point for us..." I glanced up, and met Arky's eyes. They weren't filled with hate this time, none that I could see.

"We move on," L'naa whispered. "Move on with *our* lives."

I looked to Q, squinting, "So...why is it that you brought those people here?"

Q glanced around the room. "People tend to take advice from those they respect. You may have not met them before...but you know of them. Of their deeds. And you respect them. So their words, coming directly from the source, have the weight necessary to break through that thick skull of yours."

"That's not all, is there?"

"No," Q said. "Look...I have meddled where I shouldn't have. Interfered for nothing other than my own amusement. But believe it or not...the Q can learn from mortals. Can admit when a mistake was made. And have the courage to own that mistake, and correct it."

"Your correction...will it affect the other realities?"

Q looked out the window, deep in thought. "No. My action at the Academy broke *you*. The other 'you's'...none of them had gone through the trauma you had. Your friend here," he said, motioning to Sotek, "broke when he melded with you. And she," he said, pointing to L'naa, "broke a long time ago, but managed to hold it together. Very impressive, my dear."

I closed my eyes, saddened that my friends were being called 'broken' by this omnipotent being. "Can we be 'fixed', then?"

"You'll work at it," Q answered. "As you put it, this is a starting point. Have you had closure to where you can proceed from this point? I won't answer that. Only *you* can. But do you at least know what *needs* to be fixed? I think you all do." He stood up, motioning for us all to rise. "What say you, Blue Boo?"

Arky slowly stood up, glaring at Q. His antenna twitched in agitation, and I thought he was going to throw a punch. But he didn't, and he looked down, whispering across the room, "We'll call you in a while...pinkskins." Sara jumped up with a huge smile, grabbing her husband around the waist. She winked at us, and then Q flashed them back to their summer home in Yellowknife.

Doc Irve stood up, muttering, "I'll never figure their kind out." He pointed to Q, hissing, "And you? I don't *want* to figure you out."

Q smirked, waving his arms, "The feeling is mutual, Doc." A flash, and Doc Irve vanished.

Sotek rose and spoke quietly. "This will take some time to process."

"I suppose it will," I said.

"I will be there to assist you."

"And I for you, my friend."

Q broke in, "How touching! I wonder what I'll have to do to get Sisko to drop his guard? Ah...not your concern." He snapped his fingers, and the room dissolved to white. Before it did, for just a microsecond...I looked at the wall opposite the windows. A single picture was flanked by a dozen gleaming bronze ships.

********

Why the hell can't I open my eyes!

My chest was screaming in pain, as if I was impaled upon a white hot spear. I opened my right eye...


Huh?

I can open my eyes?

A voice cut through my agony, "Hold on...hold on..."

A felt a hiss at my neck, and the pain receded. Not fully...but enough to stop gasping for air.

"Welcome back," came the gruff voice of Doc Irve.

I blinked multiple times, my eyes aching. Hold that...*everything* ached.

"Wha.." I gasped out.

Doc Irve laid a hand on my shoulder. "Don't talk. Rest. There's gonna be lots of time for talk later." He patted my shoulder the way he had many times. "Rest now." He walked away, pointing a finger at Sotek in the other biobed in the room. "You too...rest. And if you try to get *him* food he's not supposed to have, I'll skin you alive."

Sotek winced in pain, yet managed to throw a shaka at Doc Irve.

"He's getting better already," Doc muttered to himself, walking out the door.

I looked to the other side of the bed to see L'naa sitting next to me. She held onto my hand, and was smiling shyly. "Hey you," she said.

"Hey," I croaked back. "Dream?"

"It wasn't a dream. But now you must rest. Sleep. We will talk later. Know this, Nico. Things will be alright."

My throat was killing me, but I rasped out, "How...Q...did..."

"Shhh," L'naa said, placing a finger on my lips. "What Q did isn't important to *us*. I will be back tomorrow. Just sleep." She slowly stood straight. "You too, Sotek."

"I would be easier for me to sleep if you would be quiet," Sotek said with a sly grin.

Her hand grazed mine as she stepped back. I closed my eyes, feeling the meds Doc Irve injected starting to take effect.

I thought I heard her voice as I drifted away.

"Goodnight, Imzadi."

Imz-what? What the hell does that mean?

I'll ask her tomorrow.

I fell deeper into the black, peacefully realizing that this was the first time in a long time that my thoughts were not of yesterday, but of tomorrow.

Last edited by masopw; 09-19-2013 at 05:38 PM.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 976
# 7
09-19-2013, 09:24 PM
Literary Challenge #26 : Senior Officers
(In the spirit of literary challenge 26, this story explores the background of the Federalist's Tactical Officer, Quallo. It was actually written some time ago, but I haven't had a good reason to post it 'til now.)

The Prize Fighter

He pulled the lever to open the maintenance hatch on the torpedo. It was the 44th torpedo in the ship's arsenal of 50. He tapped a few buttons on the hidden access panel, and synched his tricorder to it's onboard computer system.

"Targeting functions within acceptable parameters. Photon warhead stable. Propulsion unit tests optimal." The computer reported its diagnostic findings.

Quallo sighed softly, "Just six more to go. Then I can call it a night."

The door to the torpedo bay opened. Captain Deet entered.

"Captain, is there something I can help you find?" Quallo asked, dropping what he was doing.

"Actually I'm here to speak to you." the Captain replied.

"Oh, you didn't need to come all the way down here, I would've come to your ready room." Quallo wondered why she hadn't.

"I've got two working legs. I know too many captains who forget that they have an entire ship of moving parts underneath their bridge, and they never come down to see it- yet they always expect for it to work perfectly... What are you doing in here anyway? Your shift ended at seventeen-hundred."

"I just wanted to run an inspection on the photon torpedoes. I'll be sure to finish in the next 15 minutes. I've got an hour of holodeck time at twenty-hundred hours that I don't want to miss." Quallo explained.

"See that you don't." the Captain shot back, concerned that her officer was overworking himself, "Do you need more help with the weapons systems? I'm sure we can move some personnel to help you get these diagnostics done."

"No, Captain. Thank you. It seems like Ensign Anderson has done a fine job with recent torpedo maintenance, I just wanted to double check."

"Do you have reason to believe his work was unsatisfactory?"

"Not at all, he's a fine officer... but... I'm ultimately the one who will pull the trigger to fire these torpedoes. So I'm also ultimately responsible for making sure they work right when I do. There could be a lot riding on these." he paused, "I hope I'm not overstepping my authority here; I know it's redundant, and that's why I do this on my free time."

"I certainly applaud your commitment and dedication, I only hope you're not working yourself too hard. Just make sure you don't miss your holodeck time- that's an order." The Captain smiled before turning to walk out.

"Oh, I almost forgot why I came down here." she added, "The Federalist has been asked to change course in order to bring some medical supplies to Dessica II. We should be entering orbit shortly. I know you grew up there, so if you'd like to catch up with some old friends, I'd be willing to stay in orbit for a few days."

Quallo suddenly looked alarmed. "Thank you Captain, but I hope I never go back to that planet. I don't have fond memories or old friends there."

"Very well, Mr. Quallo. Let me know if you need anything." The Captain left Quallo to his work, the doors sliding shut behind her.

Quallo returned to his work. "Computer, when was the last diagnostic on our phaser array?" He queried.

"The phaser array underwent a full diagnostic 3 days, 14 hours ago." the computer immediately answered.

"Prepare another diagnostic..."

---

The next morning, Aznia Deet entered the bridge at zero-seven-twenty hours, she walked into her ready room directly to the replicator: "Bolian Tonic, 2 degrees Celsius, large." A cold, fizzy, transparent purple drink appeared in a clear tall glass, which she eagerly sipped. She never started the day without her ritual pick-me-up, and a quick glance at the ship's status report.

several minutes later, Aznia returned to the bridge with her drink, dismissing Lt. Atom from command of the Delta Shift. The android officer returned to his post at the science station.

Giving her first order of the day, Captain Deet ordered a hailing frequency be opened to the Dessican administrator.

After a moment he came on screen, "Administrator Bort, have your facilities received all of the medical supplies?"

The rotund Bolian bureaucrat responded, "Yes Captain, we are in your debt. These supplies will save lives here." He paused, a curious look coming over his face. "Is... Is that a Bolian Tonic you're holding?"

Captain Deet looked down at her drink mildly confused. She then looked back up at the administrator with a smile and answered "Why yes it is. I'm quite fond of it actually."

The Bolian chuckled, "It just so happens that I've got an entire case of tonic here, fresh from Bolarus- the genuine article too! I would be very pleased to have you and your staff join me for a drink and a meal. I know Dessica II has an old reputation for being a lawless, dangerous place; but we've made great strides under my administration. I'd love to a chance to show a Federation representative some of our reforms and accomplishments."

"Certainly. I'm looking forward to it."

"Splendid. I'll make preparations! Say... thirteen-hundred hours? I'll transmit beam-down coordinates shortly."

Aznia nodded, smiling. The communication channel closed. She turned around to face her crew, noting that Ensign Bohannon at Tactical was the only officer still present from Delta Shift. "Computer what is the time?"

"Zero-seven-thirty-three hours, seventeen seconds." The precise instrument responded.

"Ensign Bohannon, has Lt. Commander Quallo informed you that he would be late?"

"No sir, I just haven't been dismissed yet." the Ensign alertly responded.

"Deet to Quallo, report." Aznia tapped her comm badge.

There was no response.

"Computer, locate Lt. Commander Quallo." Aznia demanded, as concern filled the bridge like rising water.

"Lt. Commander Quallo is not aboard the Federalist." The computer stated, mater-of-factly.

"When was he last aboard, how did he leave, and where was he located?" A subtle panic set into Aznia's voice.

"Lt. Commander Quallo was last detected in Jeffries Tube 52-a at twenty-hundred-thirty-seven hours, 54 seconds. Unable to determine method of disembarkment."

"Deet to Lt. Dewoh, meet me with a security team at the entry to Jeffries Tube junction 52-a." she ordered. "Span, you're with me."

---

The Trill and Vulcan senior officers marched quickly through the lower corridors of the Federalist toward the junction. There they met the imposing, tall, maroon skinned Saurian security officer; "Lt. Dewoh, we have a situation. Lt. Commander Quallo has vanished from aboard the Federalist, and we need to know how he's left and where he's gone." She demanded.

Lt. Dewoh's awkward mannerism and stoic stature remained unchanged, he simply gave an exaggerated nod of acknowledgement to the captain, stating "Aye, ma'am." before rapidly getting his team to work. He was always an unusual character aboard the ship. Very dedicated to his work, but socially alienated from the rest of the crew. "Level five sensor scans of all these conduits on the doubles!" He pitifully tried to mimic a more typically 'humanoid' mannerism, as he pushed his mostly-human security team to work.

It was a matter of moments before the security team found a tool kit unattended in the Jeffries Tube with diagnostic systems engaged. Ultimately, they were unable to find evidence of tampering or sabotage. There was also no evidence of any standard transporter technology having been employed.

Aznia waited outside the corridor as the security team conducted their continuing sweeps. It was about an hour before she heard Lt. Dewoh's unusual voice declare "I've got it! I've got it!" as he crawled out of the cramped access tunnel.

"Folded Space Transport!" He proclaimed.

"I'm sorry, what?" The Captain required clarification.

"It is a technology that has been abandoned for years. It is very dangerous to organic tissue- prolonged use will kill you; but it transports individuals undetected, long range, even through shields. Very sneaky, ma'am."

"Are you sure?" Aznia probed.

"Sure as sure is and will sure be." The awkward Saurian botched the saying, "After removing the impossible, only a Folded Space transporter remains the improbable."

"Very nice work, Mr. Dewoh. I want you to stay on the trail, report any findings to me."

"Aye! Here to be service! We will find him!" Dewoh stated with sincere enthusiasm.

---

Captain Deet returned to the bridge. Sitting in the Captain's chair, Aznia found herself more uncomfortable than she's ever been in that seat before. "Open a channel to Starbase 39-Sierra, Admiral Edward Park."

The viewscreen flickered on, an old, grizzled officer stare back at the young Captain. "Deet! It's been far too long. How've you been?!"

Aznia softly smiled at her old friend, "Things have been better, Admiral."

"Admiral?" the old commanding officer responded with surprise. "Drop the ranks, Deet. What can I do to help?"

"One of my officers has gone missing. He was pulled from the ship with a Folded Space Transporter. I need any information you have on this technology. I also need a detailed personnel file on Lt. Commander Quallo, including his history on Dessica II. I have reason to believe someone in his past is behind this."

The admiral's tone turned somber, "Absolutely Deet. I'll have it transmitted over immediately. Is there anything else I can do?"

Smiling, Aznia finished the conversation "I don't think so, Eddy. thank you for your help. I'll buy you a drink next time I'm around."

"I'd like that." the old friends ended their call.

"Get Administrator Bort on screen." Aznia jumped from one thought to the next.

The fat Bolian's smiling face again appeared on screen. "Our meeting isn't for another hour, Captain. Is there something I can do for you?"

"I'm afraid we might need to cancel our plans, Administrator." Aznia's stated seriously, "A crew member has gone missing, abducted by a Folded Space Transporter, and we have reason to believe that it may have something to do with his history on Dessica II."

"That's just awful, I will alert our authorities to be on the lookout. I like to think that this planet has made great strides in stamping out the presence of organized crime, but there is still a healthy criminal element on this planet. What is your crewman's name?"

"His name is Quallo, he is a Ferengi who grew up on the Travisian Coast of the Ketral Continent." The Captain informed the Administrator.

"I'll look into it right away, I'll let you know if I find anything." Bort closed the channel.

"I'll be in my ready room." The captain stepped into the privacy of her office.

---

At her console, the Captain began to sift through the information streamed from Starbase 34-Sierra. Quallo's history was spotty. His location and date of birth were recorded, as was his date of enlistment in Starfleet. Starfleet seemed to have no detailed or relevant history on him prior to the date he stepped off the transport to Earth.

Information on the Folded Space Transporter was more detailed. It explained a process to detect a transport in progress. An Adaptive Supspace Echogram would be able to detect the location of such a transport if another one occurs. "We just need to get them to use it again." she quipped to herself.

Aznia immediately communicated this information to her crew. After a short wait, a communiqu? came in from the Dessican Administrator's office.

"Captain, your officer had an interesting history on Dessica II. Have you ever heard of Wawu Stickfighting?" Administrator Bort asked.

"No, I'm afraid not." Aznia responded somewhat impatiently.

"It is a barbaric martial art that this planet's natives used to practice. In the ancient version of this event, competitors would be armed with a wooden shield, and a burning stick. A fire would be lit on each end of a rectangular field of combat. The competitors would wait until their weapon's end was red hot; then the objective was to burn your opponent with the hot end. The first competitor to impose three scarring burns on their opponent wins the contest. A modern variation on this sport had become popular on Dessica II several years ago, it combined a modified Klingon Pain Stick and digital scoring. Three years ago, my administration banned the activity, as it attracted the attention of all of this planet's organized crime. Gambling, drinking, violence, injury... it all followed these events. Anyways, two decades ago, your officer was quite the competitor. He was a professional, and he appears to have had a an undefeated career that included 25 consecutive wins... until..." The administrator paused uncomfortably.

"Until what?" The Captain demanded.

"It seems that in his 26th event, the opponent was killed after Quallo landed his first strike. Quallo left the scene immediately. He hasn't been seen on Dessica II since."

"Aren't these weapons non-lethal?" The captain asked with alarm.

"They're supposed to be!" The Administrator said with a scoff tone. "Now you can see why I've banned the practice! It seems someone tampered with the combat stick. Either your officer, his trainers, or gamblers. The authorities at the time declared the case closed. Unfortunately, justice meant very little to my predecessors. A full investigation was never conducted... but If you want my opinion, you need to find out more about his opponent if you want to find your officer's kidnappers. He was an Orion named Gevish-Nar."

"Thank you for your information, Administrator Bort. You've been a great help." Aznia finished the conversation.

"Contact me if you need anything else." the channel closed.

---

Aznia walked onto the bridge. "Orions." she sneered. "Span, Atom, you're with me." she tapped her comm badge, "Lt. Dewoh, meet me in transporter room 1."

Span stopped the Captain, "We can take care of this, Captain. Your place is on the bridge."

"No. Under normal circumstances, I'd be inclined to agree. But it's the job of a captain to safeguard their crew. I need to be there. I need to help find Quallo."

Span relented. They organized in the transporter room as Ensign Keesa transported them to Travisian City.

---

Quallo sat quietly in a small, dark room. "I didn't kill him! He was my friend!!" He pleaded through the door, unsure if anyone was listening.

Painful memories flooded the Ferengi's head. Since his final fight, he'd always assumed he was a wanted man. Revenge could be sought by Gevish's family, fans, and even friends- though he counted himself among them. He understood why people wanted him dead, sometimes he felt that way himself.

Quallo thought back to his life before that fight. He trained with an Orion gym, Gevish was one of his best friends and sparring partners. The Orion clan had taken him in like family. The skills built between the two fighters in that gym reflected the greatest strengths of mutual respect and understanding. Between the two of them, they had trounced the greatest opponents from all of the region's best gyms. The Wawu, the Yridians, the Romulans, none of them could find an opponent worthy of the competing against the boys from the Orion gym. It was only a matter of time before promoters and fans realized that Quallo and Gevish needed to compete, as they were together in a league of their own. It was billed as the greatest event in the history of the planet.

There were nearly 50,000 in attendance. Gambling money flooded the arena as hustlers and bookies worked to shave every slip of gold-pressed-profit they could. The event was abuzz with energy. Nothing fazed either fighter. They stared eye to eye before the referee brought each fighter his pain stick. Quallo shifted the grip in his hand, noticing that this was not his favorite stick; but the fight was about to start, and neither fighter was about to break the energy flow in the arena.

When the fight started, Quallo found himself unprepared for the ferocity of his opponent. He was on his heels far more than he'd ever been. He'd always been a careful fighter, waiting for the opponent's aggression to show, then striking at weak points systematically. It was unusual to see Gevish taking such aggressive tactics, he'd clearly changed form to take Quallo off guard. Gevish raised his stick at a downward angle indicating a lunge at the legs, so when Quallo moved his shield to block, Gevish backhanded his stick, slapping it across Quallo's shoulder instead, scoring the first strike of the match.

For the first time in his professional career, Quallo felt that he might be out of his league. His confidence was shaking. He wondered if the preparation and cunning of a Ferengi could possibly defeat the strength and size of a finely tuned Orion. The fighters retook their relative sides on the arena. Quallo decided to stick to his guns, he couldn't let Gevish throw him out of his comfort zone. Gevish came out of the gate with an extremely aggressive running swing, and this was the exact opportunity Quallo had waited for; he slid to the ground just as the stick swung over his head, and before Gevish could recover, Quallo jabbed at his shoulder, which had been left exposed by the over-aggressive move.

Quallo felt an enormous sense of satisfaction as the impact fell, his attitude instantly turned more upbeat. He jumped to his feet with vigor before realizing that something was very wrong. Sparks had flown upon impact, and the end of his pain stick had discharged so violently that its capacitors had burst. Gevish still stood upright, every muscle in his body tensed to it's fullest. Green blood trickled from the corners of his eyes, which stared lifeless and straight toward Quallo. His body seemed to take an eternity to fall. Quallo froze while referees, attendants, and trainers all rushed in. Quallo dropped the broken pain stick, slowly walking in to see his fallen comrade. Death was pronounced very quickly, so Quallo ran. Before reaction could set in, before anyone could realize what had happened; Quallo's flight instincts escorted him from the arena.

Amazed that he escaped, he boarded the first departing transport shuttle he found. Quallo booked transport to the Shorahn continent. By the next morning, he was on a freighter to Benzar. Along the way, he considered several new career paths. He needed a fresh start, and he wanted nothing more than to get away from fighting. The most peaceful people he could think of were the people of the Federation. He bought passage aboard a trader's vessel on a trip to Earth, where he applied for admittance to Starfleet Academy.

Now Quallo sat in the dark, his past having finally caught up to him, he couldn't run anymore. He didn't know who'd taken him, but he definitely knew why.

---

Captain Deet had found her way to a back alley bar in Travisian City. She'd been told that it was a popular Orion hangout by a trustworthy source. She stepped around the corner into the alley, and instantly came face to face with two large Orion men leaving the bar. Aznia reached for her phaser, ready to draw down on them. Commander Span put his hand on her arm to stifle her overreaction.

"Excuse me ma'am." one of the Orions said before walking past. She eased up after the irrational moment of fear. Span shot her a look as if to say 'I expect better', and she knew he was right. She regained her poise quickly.

They walked into the bar, where Commander Span drew the attention of the Orion Bartender. "Do you know anything about Wawu Stickfighting in the area?"

The bartender was unhappy with this use of his time. "Look. If you want to talk, buy a drink... I'll think about it."

Lt. Dewoh stepped up to the bar. He removed a gold pressed latinum 10-sided die from his pocket. It had alien symbols on each side of it. "Lucky charm... You get luck, we get knowledge."

The bartender looked at the die, then looked up at the Starfleet officers. He put the die in his pocket. "The two guy who runs the local gym just left. You must've walked right past him." He pulled over a napkin, removing some kind of pencil from his pocket, and drawing a crude map of their gym's location. "Now buy a drink, or get out of here... and you never talked to me."

Aznia led the way out of the bar. She turned back only to thank Dewoh for the die. "I'm sorry you lost your lucky charm."

"It was just a die. A charm is no value if you don't use it for the benefit of reality." Dewoh responded rationally. "Just glad I used it well."

---

The away team followed the crude map to a quiet building nearby. "Perhaps we should just handle this directly." Span knocked on the door. Several armed Orions emerged from around the corners of the building, the away team found themselves ambushed.

"Why are you asking our bartender about us?" The lead Orion inquired hostilely.

"We're investigating the disappearance of one of our crew." Aznia responded frankly.

"We've got no business with Starfleet." the lead Orion lowered his weapon. "What makes you think we know anything?"

"Do you know the name Gevish-Nar?" Aznia asked, as the lead Orion became visibly upset.

"My name is Tellis-Nar. He was my brother. If I ever find out who's responsible for his death, I will kill them with my bare hands." He insisted. "I lost two brothers that day. There was another fighter from my gym that was tricked into killing him. We never found out what happened to him. I miss those boys every day."

"So you don't believe Quallo was responsible??" Aznia asked with some surprise.

"You know Quallo?? Where is he!?" Tellis' mood lifted. "Of course he wasn't responsible. He was family!"

"Quallo's the missing member of my crew." Aznia informed Tellis.

"I'd look at the Yridians. They lost a lot of money on that fight. If they believe Quallo cheated, he could be dead by now."

"What do you propose we do?" Span asked.

Tellis invited the away team inside his gym, they followed him through a hidden door in a back room of their facility. After going through a long tunnel, they found themselves in a concealed hangar bay. There, they found a massive arsenal: rifles, cannons, and even two Scorpion Fighter Ships.

"The Yridian Clans dominate an area of the continent called Balastrade. With your help, we could storm their headquarters and deal a crippling blow to their leadership once and for all! Maybe we can find someone there to tell us where Quallo is."

"...as the planet erupts into gang warfare? No, we can't be a part of this." Aznia rejected the plan.

"In the years following the fight, the relations between the Yridian and Orion clans deteriorated. When stickfighting was eventually banned, the only common ground we had was erased... Captain, if you want to see your crewman again, you need to help us!"

"I'm afraid I can't interfere in your conflict, Tellis. I'll let you know if anything changes." Aznia wouldn't budge. "Deet, to Federalist. Beam us up."

---

Back aboard the Federalist, Captain Deet felt as if no ground had been made. Certainly she couldn't involve herself in the middle of Dessica II's prominent gang war. She felt like she'd uncovered more questions than answers. "If you need me, I'll be in my ready room." She retreated to her quiet sanctuary, ordering herself another Bolian Tonic.

"Captain, we're receiving a hail you may want to answer." Commander Span's voice chimed in just as Aznia relaxed in her seat.

Deet hung her head for just a moment before returning to the bridge. "On screen."

A wrinkled Yridian face appeared on her viewscreen. "Captain, we are not your enemy." he instantly pleaded.

"Why would you assume that you are?" Deet played coy.

"Let's drop the pretense. We deal in information. We have eyes everywhere. We don't know where your crewman is, but we know we don't have him."

Aznia was intrigued, "What reason do I have to believe you? If you have informants everywhere, then why don't you have answers for me?"

"If you want my best guess, Tellis has your officer somewhere. He's not at their gym, or in that secret bunker of his..." Aznia raised an eyebrow at the Yridian's knowledge. "Yes. I know about that. As far as I can tell, Tellis was willing to kill his own brother in the name of profit. How do you think he financed that arsenal of his? I would assume that he's kidnapped his 'old friend' in order to create a situation where he could put that arsenal to use!" The Yridian made a strong case.

"He made money on the fight?" The story started to click. "...He made money on the fight." Captain Deet paused the conversation for just a moment. "Lt. Atom, see what you can do to verify this information."

"...and here's another free piece of information. Two days after the fight, he got his hands on those Romulan Scorpion Fighters from a Reman arms dealer named Nevvik. Is it simply a coincidence that he found the income to afford something so advanced?"

"If he's got such advanced firepower, why hasn't he attacked you yet?"

"In this cold war, you don't only need the firepower to defeat your enemy. You need the firepower to push back the authorities who will capitalize on the opportunity to crush two weakened powers at the same time."

Aznia looked down at her drink. "I've got an idea, and I need your help."

---

Aznia sat down in her ready room, "Computer, open a hailing frequency to Administrator Bort."

The Bolian face appeared on her console. "Have you had any luck, Captain?" The administrator questioned.

"I believe so, administrator. I've been in contact with a Yridian information dealer who claims to have intercepted information about where my crewman is being held. He hasn't informed us yet because he insists on making the transaction in person. Security is a great concern for him. He'll be beaming aboard shortly to explain the situation, and he's agreed to stay aboard until our crewman is recovered."

"Wonderful news. I just suggest that you may want to rethink your meeting plans incase the Orions are monitoring our channel. I'd hate to see something happen." Administrator Bort warned.

"I'll take your advice into consideration, administrator. Thank you for all your help."

"Any time Captain." The Administrator closed the channel quickly.

Aznia walked down to the transporter room briskly, meeting Ensign Keesa at the controls. "Energize"

A figure began to appear on the transporter pad. Upon materializing, the Yridian vanished in a flash from the transporter pad.

"Deet to Dewoh, they've taken the bait!"

"Coordinates are routed to your console now! The Adaptive Supspace Echogram reflects a holding area under the Administrative capitol!"

A security team flowed into the transporter room to meet the Captain, "Beam us to directly to the administrator's office."

---

The team materialized in front of Administrator Bort's desk.

"You're under arrest, Bort." Starfleet officers beamed in on every level of the facility. "Where are my men being held."

"What do you think you're doing, Captain?" The Administrator disregarded the charges. "You have no basis to make such claims!" The Bolian became visibly nervous.

She turned to the Administrator, "What I didn't tell you is that we found a way to track your Folded Space Transporter. We just needed to give you an excuse to use it again."

"I... I have no idea what you're talking about. You have no business being here! You'll pay for these accusations!" The petulant leader bargained.

"Quallo and the Yridian informant are secure Captain." A security officer reported in on a comm channel.

"Huh. Look at that." Aznia taunted the Bolian.

"You've ruined everything. I was on the brink of destroying these vermin clans once and for all!! I got rid of their little barbaric sport, I've been instigating them for years, I've pushed them to the brink of destroying one and other, and I would've been there to clean up the remnant mess once they were gone! You've done this planet a disservice, Captain!" The Bolian turned cerulean with anger.

Deet didn't care about his agenda. "You're a kidnapper... and you're coming with me." she demanded.

Bort lunged at a control panel at his desk, activating a Folding Space transport. Before the security team could react, the Administrator had vanished.

"Deet to Federalist! He's used the folded space transporter!" Aznia alerted her ship.

"He's gone Captain. He transported to a ship that just cloaked and left orbit. We've lost him."

Quallo entered the Administrator's office with the Yridian leader. "Captain, I'm so glad to see you."

Aznia's face was stern, "I'll have you court martialled for this." Quallo was taken aback. "I ordered you not to miss your holodeck time." they both smiled.

---

Before the Federalist left orbit, Captain Deet beamed to the Orion gym, where there was one last piece of business to attend to. Again, she was were greeted by the Orion clan.

"Tellis, I thought I'd let you know that this situation is diffused, and Quallo is safe aboard the Federalist." she informed the large green man.

"That's wonderful news." he answered.

"There's just one thing..." Deet made sure that several of the Orions were within ear shot, "I looked into some financial records, and it seems that your financial accounts came into a windfall after Quallo's last fight. In fact, my crew was even able to contact the Reman arms dealer who sold most of the arsenal to you." Tellis began to look very nervous. Several of the other Orions began to turn their eyes angrily toward Tellis. "It's all right here in this report... awful coincidence, don't you think?" She tossed the PADD onto the ground, as the enraged Orion clan slowly surrounded their leader, backing him up against a wall. One angry Orion reaching down to pick up the report.

"This is... a... misunderstanding. I can explain this..." Tellis pleaded.

"I'm sure you can." Deet acknowledged. She tapped her comm badge, "Deet to Federalist, beam me up."

Dominique McElligott as Captain Aznia Deet
Edi Gathegi as Commander Span
Quentin Jackson as Lieutenant Quallo
Krysten Ritter as Lieutenant Commander First of Eight
Sean Murray as Lieutenant Atom
Christopher Heyerdahl as Lieutenant Dewoh
Vice Admiral Aznia Deet, Federation Ambassador, U.S.S. Federalist
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 20
# 8
09-21-2013, 12:55 PM
Part 1 of 2 - Literary Challenge #41 - Call to Arms
[First mention of a main character will be a link to their picture.]


x

The distress call came in shortly after Vice Admiral Joanne Roslyn had returned to the bridge after lunch. She had already resigned herself to an afternoon of maintenance reports and crew evaluations when Ensign Banks spoke up from where she had been quietly working at her station.

"Admiral, a sector-wide automated distress call has gone in, bearing 024-176-009, Deep Space X05. Long range sensors show Borg activity, possibly a single tactical cube. We are 3 hours and 17 minutes away at maximum warp. Acknowledge?"

Joanne stood up from her Captain's chair, turning around to look at her comms officer. To her left, Commander Corspa Eide looked up from the tactical station. "X05, is that −"

"Yes, it is. Acknowledge, Ensign." Joanne said.

Ensign Banks nodded, then paused, and frowned at her console. "We have just received orders to stand down and act as support-on-request to the U.S.S. Pankhurst, an Aquarius Destroyer, that will respond to the distress call." She looked up, puzzled. "Admiral, the Pankhurst is 8 hours behind us."

Joanne nodded slowly, and turned back around to face the viewscreen. "Ensign, please get me the response coordinator for this sector."

After a few seconds, the face of Admiral Holland appeared on the screen. He always looked a bit pained, as if he generally disapproved of just about anything that happened in his sector. His expression grew even more weary as he recognized Joanne, and interrupted her just as she was about to speak.

"I know what you want, Roslyn. The answer is no. I've already given Captain Tean the go-ahead." he said as he leaned forward and laced his fingers on his desk. "And don't give me that attitude."

Joanne made an effort to keep her face neutral as she realized that her expression must have said "well, sod that" very clearly. She took a deep breath. "Admiral, with all due respect, having us sit here and wait for the Pankhurst is completely insane. I appreciate your concern, but we have mastered similar situations before and can handle this just as well."

Admiral Holland shook his head. "This is different. I don't want you there, you are bound to mess up."

It was like the whole bridge crew held their breath as one. Everyone stopped what they were doing to focus on the exchange between the two Admirals, wondering what could have possibly prompted this open distrust in their captain and their ship's capabilities. Sure, the crew knew about Joanne's ...dislike of missions involving the Borg, and the Mutabor was 'only' a science vessel, but they were still good and they had a master tactician in their first officer. Only Commander Eide herself was waiting patiently, unconcerned that Joanne would get her will, one way or another.

When Joanne responded, her voice had gone from business-like to icy, her head held high. "The chances of losing all station crew are too high if we wait. By the time Captain Tean gets there, it will be too late, and that is not something I would like to take responsibility for. I am well aware of the risk to my own crew, but this is our job."

Admiral Holland managed not to wince, and instead just looked tired. "Alright then. Go. But remember, the Pankhurst will be too far away to save you."

Joanne inclined her head in what could barely be called respectful and motioned for Banks to end the transmission. There was silence on the bridge for a moment before the usual activity resumed, with Commander Eide giving out orders to change course and prepare the ship for combat.

"Briefing in 15 minutes." Joanne snapped and left the bridge.

x

The mood in the briefing room was subdued as Joanne walked in, her officers quietly chatting to each other and Commander Corspa Eide working on a padd. The conversations stopped as Joanne sat down in the chair at the top of the table and looked around. On her left, Commander Taallir was looking at her with his typical neutral expression. Lt Commander Hrin Ojhyni next to him was looking at her expectantly (and also a bit confused, since the chief engineer had missed the little show on the bridge earlier), just like Lieutenant Elizabeth Harper to his left, nervously tapping her fingers on the tabletop.
To Joanne's right, Corspa now connected the padd to the table's holo emitters, and next to her, Ensign Kamryn Banks had clasped her hands on the table, looking down. Doctor Siluur was missing, having already been brought up to date by the Admiral and given an assignment.

With a sigh, Joanne nodded to Corspa, who called up a hologram of Deep Space X05's system over the table and stood up from her seat. The miniature station was orbiting a very barren-looking planet, barely illuminated by a weak red star several AU away. The computer had placed the equally miniaturized Borg tactical cube right on top of the station, giving the whole display a rather doomed air.

"We are now 2 hours and 57 minutes away from Deep Space X05, a station conducting classified research for the Omega/M.A.C.O. task force. They were placed as far away from any volumes of space that had previously experienced Borg activity to minimize the risk of discovery, but as you can see, that plan unfortunately failed." Corspa began.
"Long range sensors show that the station is still there, so we can assume that the Borg do want to acquire whatever information they can, instead of just destroying it. We will use that to our advantage."

"Uh, excuse me, but I don't really see what we can do about a tactical cube?" Lieutenant Harper asked, her eyes flicking between her commanding officers.

"We're not going to do anything about it." Corspa replied, prompting raised eyebrows around the table.

"What then?" Lt Cmdr Ojhyni asked. "There is no way the Mutabor can protect the station from the cube long enough for the Pankhurst to arrive."

Corspa gave her fellow Andorian a bare-toothed smile, silently daring him to keep relying on the Destroyer any longer. "She won't have to. Here's what we are going to do."
She tapped a button on her padd which made a model of the Mutabor appear on the edge of the holo display. The tiny ship moved in towards the station from behind the planet, approached it without slowing down, flew straight past underneath it and then winked out at the edge of the hologram.

Lt Harper seemed to want to say something about that, but bit her tongue when she saw the dark, absent look on Admiral Roslyn's face and received a warning glare from Ensign Banks opposite her. Instead she hazarded a guess. "I fly us in from behind the planet to minimize detection time, a team beams over to the station and I hide the ship somewhere in the system?"

"Exactly." Corspa said, zooming in on the station until its hull seemed to dissolve and was replaced by a schematic of the station's interior. Several compartments at the centre were flashing green, with a network of red-coloured pipes surrounding them like a cage.

"The main laboratories and the computer core are designed to function as 'panic rooms', if you will. These are self-contained, plated with a variant of ablative hull armour and have a back-up shield similar to the one used to protect our base and the greater population centres on Defera. As a last resort, huge coolant tanks have been installed at the top and bottom of the station, so that it can be flooded with corrosive material. We're hoping that won't be necessary, but we don't know how long their defences will be able to hold up under constant attack and without specialists working to keep them up. On top of that, we don't know if all station crew made it into the safe areas."

"Finding and getting everyone to safety is our top priority" Joanne now broke in. Her voice was hollow, as if the station had already been under siege for several days, and her officers exchanged worried glances. "According to Admiral Holland, who, honestly, can shove it, our first objective should be to secure the research and relevant data, but that's not going to happen." She got up to stand next to her first officer and pointed to a small marker several decks above the panic rooms.

"This is where Corspa and I will beam in with two teams. We will work our way down towards the safe rooms, picking up crew and picking off Borg as we go. We will then barricade ourselves in the panic rooms and either be collectively beamed to the returning Mutabor, or failing that, wait for the Pankhurst to deal with the cube. Questions?"

She looked around the table once, obviously itching to get going in a way that was completely uncharacteristic of her usual reluctance to engage the Borg. The tension that was a sure sign of her horror of them was still there, but it seemed laced with a blinding anger that was clearly reflected in the plan, and made the whole thing look less and less like a good idea to her officers.

After looking at Corspa and trying to figure out why she was so calm when usually her and Roslyn would spend hours tweaking a plan of attack and still disagree on a crucial point by the end of it, Lt Cmdr Hrin Ojhyni said, "I am very uncomfortable with the idea of you basically locking yourself in and trying to hold your ground for such a long period of time." He paused, expecting some sort of the usual discussion that he always ended up having with the Admiral, but she just stared at him. Hrin realized that she knew that he was right, but simply didn't care, so he tried again. "At least let me be part of the team, you'll need someone to keep the armour and shield up and running for as long as possible when the Borg keep beaming in more drones."

Joanne answered with a flat "no" and looked away from him. "Next."

Lt Harper's discomfort was openly visible as she asked, "What if the Borg spot us and do come after us? If they engage us in combat we won't last long, and then you're stuck on the station for good."

"I was rather hoping that your flying was good enough to evade them for a couple of hours." Joanne said with a thin, unpleasant smile that made Lt Harper look down in defeat. Ensign Banks tried next. "They might not have spotted the panic rooms yet, you might end up drawing unnecessary attention and endanger the station crew even further. It might be safer to wait."

Joanne shook her head. "We will not just wait, Ensign." she almost hissed, taking everyone aback with her sudden aggressiveness. Corspa, still silently backing the Admiral, put a calming hand on Joanne's arm, giving Hrin the confidence to try and talk sense again.

"On that note, they might just decide that the information they could gather isn't worth the hassle, and simply destroy the station." he said.

Joanne nodded slowly. "That is an acceptable risk. I would rather die on that station than sit here in safety knowing that I didn't even try to save all these people from getting assimilated!"

That stunned everyone into silence. It wasn't that they didn't share this notion, but it was so unusual for Joanne to speak in such a manner, with such bitterness that no one knew what to say.

It was Commander Taallir who broke the silence, speaking for the first time. His voice betrayed none of the growing uneasiness of his colleagues and was instead deeply imperative. "Admiral, we have brought forth a number of legitimate concerns that, under any circumstances, would have made you reconsider this plan. Why is it that you are so intent on going through with it?"

Joanne stared at him, looking lost. She brought her hands up to her face and turned away from the table, looking out of the window at the streaking stars for a long moment. When she turned back, hands on her hips, there was a strange vulnerability on her face that none of them had ever seen before.

"It's because... I.. my... the station director is Doctor Imberia Roslyn, my mother."

Instantly, the mood in the room changed. The officers all sat up straighter in their chairs, and it was as if their doubt and apprehension fell away from them, to be replaced by determination and sympathy. Nobody questioned her decision now, and there were no accusations of being "emotionally compromised", as Admiral Holland had put it in his short message earlier. Joanne was so stressed that the relief in the face of such loyalty made tears rise in her throat. Swallowing them down, she sank back in her chair, and watched her officers go at the plan again - this time, offering their expertise and support, making suggestions to ensure that everything would go smoothly and everyone would be safely returned.

We might just make it, Joanne thought.

x

Part 2

Last edited by jonnaroslyn; 09-25-2013 at 04:38 PM. Reason: too. many. italics.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 234
LC 50: Redux 2.0
LC 25: To Boldly Go?

Stardate: 90791.20

Personal Log: After a routine exploration for True Way forces in the Badlands, as well as dropping off supplies for the Lazon II colony, we came upon a Type 8 plasma storm. On the advice of my Chief Science officer and Astrophysics lab, we have decided to risk it, and observe this rare phenomena.

*****
Stardate: 90796.35

Zinuzee has reported to me that the evidence all points to one conclusion. The wormhole that opened a 18 hours ago, is stable enough for one shuttle to go through. Though she did note that the chronitons that were scanned at the other event horizon, didn't match ours, and that tachyon emissions were detected on both ends, which wasn't unusual in wormholes. The conclusion the science team came to was that, from relative data, the wormhole ended up in the Delta Quadrant, roughly 50,000 light years from here.

***

Of course I had to see this, with the Delta Quadrant being my old stomping grounds; I had to see what had changed in the past 100 years since I had been there, with the Borg and many powers vying for control in the chaotic sector. So I put Zinuzee as acting captain, and took off in the U.S.S. Cordius through the wormhole.

*****

Stardate: 256790.35
The sterile cell was bleak and white, though you couldn't tell because of the artificial light through deep, black shadows across the walls. It was a 10x10 cell, small but efficiently placed with a bunk bed, small sink, as well as a small library of books across from it. There wasn't a mirror in the room, so I had to make due with cleaning up the blood from my split upper lip. I hung my face down towards the sink, as I tried to remember what happened after I blacked out.

****

Flashback...

The Cordius had arrived through the event horizon, and the forces of gravity had almost made me pass out, 'so it wasn't here', I had attempted to set course for the nearest planet orbiting a class G star, some 3 light years away. Somehow I failed to notice the three unknown spaceships decloak to my left, before one alien transported on and attempted to knock me out. I had put up a fight, before a second one beamed on and knocked me out with a hypospray of unknown chemicals.
****
Somewhere along the way, I remember being strapped to a bio bed, before breaking free and attacking a few guards in blind rage from the chemical overdose. That must've been where I got the split lip from. After being subdued by a few guards and three telepaths of similar species, I was tossed into the cell I inhabit now.

I groaned, the pulsing in my head must have been the neural suppressants wearing off. With those wearing off, I at least could use my telepathy and psychokinesis. I could feel my body healing from the small scrape faster, now that the drugs were wearing off, and my regenerative tissue began to heal.

"Ahh, awake I see, our mysterious visitor" said a elderly voice from beyond the cell's force field. Approaching the field's perimeter, an elderly humanoid figure in a black, long, robe-like, cloak and jacket. Battle scars adorned his face among the wrinkles of skin on his face, a portion of skin above his right eye was missing; his eye replaced by a facsimile almost Borg-like in nature. The man had different features then those I had witnessed earlier in the guards; almost eerily-familiar facial features I couldn't quite place. He leaned on a wooden cane of warped wood, though his stature showed it was more to lull the enemy into a false sense of security, then for his benefit. Then I recognized his species, he was Ocampa! Or at least he was partial Ocampa, and so were the guards from earlier. He had piercing purple eyes, a rare and uncommon feature to Ocampa people, and gray hair with a white streak above where his right eye was replaced.

"They say like knows like, and I can tell your telepathic, and once you meet a telepath they say you can always find their signature again... and you seem familiar, like I should know you..." he said. He walked in front of the cell, before taking his cane and tapping it on the force field. "Your scans say you're an Ocampa hybrid, one from the lost forty-seven colonies, one of the two founding colonies of the young empire, and yet we know nothing of you," he said, "Who are you?"

I smiled at him, and decided to use my mirror's name. "Sharvan, and that's all you'll get from me," I replied, "Now tell me what this whole empire's about, last I heard there was no '47' colonies; I'm from a planet that's long gone from my point of view."

It was his time to smile. "My boy, it seems either you're insane, gullible, or have been sent forward in time...." He chuckled at this, then turned around. "I'll humor you though with the history of the empire." He grabbed a chair and set it in front of the force field.

*******
The Empire began over 279 years ago of course, but you should know that....

All those years ago, and two men, the founders of our empire, reached out across the empty sky, as two planets met in body and in mind. The two planets passed every two years, for they were in the same solar system. Twin suns of the solar system holding the planet Excrivion and planet Quir'ton held two distinct civilizations, the Excrons and Querons, now subspecies of the main branch of Ocampa. The Caretaker, our once master and enslaver, engineered the two species to survive if the home world couldn't be saved.

And then they learned of each other. For hundreds, thousands, of years we had lost our telepathic abilities, yet two young children, one on each planet, had been born with the natural ability again.

Every two years they would pass each other, and every time, they reinforced their young minds to reach out to meet the other. Now over twenty years past their first meeting, they could finally reach the stars. People beyond the stars had come and shared technology; information about the stars the ancestors had lost long ago when forgotten by the Caretaker.

The day had come for our people to reunify.

Then the Borg came.

They tried to assimilate our people, destroying our civilization, before one man, the founder, the First, sacrificed himself to destroy the cube as it razed our planet.

Unknown to us, he was the greatest of our people, a psychokinetc of the likes matched by none. His stellar sacrifice would alert the Caretaker to our presence once again, rekindling his search for the perfect replacement. Then he found the second founder, not as strong or powerful as the first, but a great leader and visionary.

The Caretaker enhanced his life, lengthening his already long lifespan, so once he died, the second could become the new Caretaker. And he did die.

The founder united the people under the example of the First, finding the remaining 45 lost colonies, and creating the young first empire of the Ocampa. He took the name of Emperor for a new title, to lead his people into a new life of discovery.

Then it became a bloody war of conquest. The Kazon and Trabe harassed the Ocampa people, and so they were the first to be conquered by a new empire. Then the Devore Imperium was the next to fall under Ocampa influence; hatred for telepaths drove them to attack the Ocampa and exterminate them, but ended freeing telepaths in the surrounding systems from Devore rule when they were overthrown. The Voth were next, hating the encroachment the Ocampa had on their sovereign territory, only to fall into a treaty with the Ocampa after their twentieth City Ship came under Ocampa control. Then the Krenim joined forces with the Ocampa Empire, using their technology and resources to expand the rule of the empire. Finally the Krowtonan Guard and it's military might came against the empire, only to be absorbed into the fold. Then the Borg began to attack the empire, and a mighty onslaught that would last a century began. Finally the Borg Unicomplex 1 fell to the Ocampa empire, the queen killed under the Emperor's sword, and all Borg freed from assimilation.

Finally after fifty years of rebuilding, the new empire is at peace with the remaining powers in the Delta Quadrant, and now we have begun an new age of expansion for the empire, and have even made contact with another superpower....


*******

"..the Federation, a few 70 thousand light years from here, not to bore you with any details" he said ending the tale he was telling. He got up and put the chair back where it was. "But I'm sure you already knew that Gregs, you've been in the Alpha Quadrant for some time now, haven't you....brother," it was more of a statement then a question, "Now a new war has begun, a civil war because you have returned, and now a rebellion has formed from the ashes of the old subdued powers." The old man sounded more cynical now, a hatred and seething in his voice showing his displeasure towards me, and confirming my suspicions.

"Like recognizes like, Berg, as you said, and I could never forget my little brother and his goals for unification," I said to the elderly Berg Eria'nos, "I had hope that you weren't the Emperor in this story, and I'm sorry to see I died in this universe before I could correct your power hungry fall, but I'm sorry, I am sincerely, overbearingly, sorry I failed you."

The purple eyed Emperor was crazed and hysterical at seeing me apologize. "You left me Gregs, you left and they wanted you to rule them," he shouted, "When the Caretaker came, all I saw was a scared being who wanted to find a replacement, and upon hearing his best choice was dead, he chose second best!" He beat his cane on the force field, trying to reach me. "The blood of all those I killed in rage were all because of you, and now your return has caused all of what I built to crumble beneath me," he turned away, "they worship you because you sacrificed your lives for them, and I'm the ruler who lead them in a hundred year war....they hate me now more then ever, no matter all the good I've done to bring peace to this quadrant!" He slammed his fist on the wall, and rested his head in his arms.

"You're no better then the Borg Berg, you've assimilated and destroyed civilizations because you wanted peace, peace through war!" I shouted back at him. I fumed he could blame me, another version of his brother, to shift hundreds of years of regret onto me. "I'm sorry you did this, but in my world, the Borg never invaded, heck our solar system was destroyed by a Planet Killer in my timeline, we never had a chance to reunification, and you've hated me for years, Berg, you've always hated me for leaving them all behind when we could do nothing!" I yelled, not even realizing the energy coursing through me, nor the fear in Bergs eyes, reducing a leader to a fearful child. I put my hand on the wall, destroying the force field generator's separating me and him, destroying it with my psychokinesis. "I'm glad our planet died now Berg, that this useless universe never existed, you could see it too, if you look past the false wall you've surrounded yourself with." With that I stormed out of the prison, a storm of psychokinetic energy throwing soldiers of varying species across rooms and hallways, until I found my shuttle. I left the planet and returned through the wormhole to my home.

*******

Stardate: -18522.89

A figure, an elderly humanoid in a black, long, robe-like, cloak and jacket walked in the station. He had seen an alien similar to a jellyfish, an artifice intelligence, and a reptilian of unknown origins, and he stood now in front of an unknown life form bioplasmic life form named Bevvox.

They had unanimously agreed with his suggestion, and were to go through with his proposition, to send a Planet Killer from another timeline against a lonely binary pair, to destroy it's system.

The old man looked out to the stars, a tear in his purple eyes, hoping through his destruction, he could cleanse his hands of the blood he shed. He had a long journey ahead, but hopefully he could create a different future then the Empire he had created.

The Krenim Temporal Warship shortly departed the Think Tank Station, it's lone occupant lost in thought, to continue it's long journey through the multiverse.

********

Present time:

I had returned to the Oregon, not explaining anything to my crewman of my experience. I went to my 'stash' and pulled out a glass, it was going to be a long night.

Last edited by aten66; 09-30-2013 at 06:54 PM. Reason: Complete
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,586
# 10 Moving Day
09-21-2013, 09:28 PM
LC #21, "Saying Hello"

From: Admiral T'Nae, Sector Command, Starbase 39-Sierra
To: Commander Grunt, USS
Hephaestus NCC-91748

You are hereby directed to take USS
Hephaestus to Earth Spacedock, where you will report to the office of Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn for further orders. Authentication 793-Alpha-Tangent-Blue-Drift.

"Well?" Grunt asked.

"Authentication checks out, sir," Roclak replied. "Rather terse, even by Vulcan standards, but there it is." The Klingon shrugged.

"Hmmph. You know, Rock, I don't think she likes us. Probably because we're too illogical, but we still get results." The Ferengi sat back in his command chair. "Very well, Mr. Gydap, best speed to Sol system, and take us into Spacedock there."

"Aye, sir. Vector toward Earth, warp factor 8, engaging."

The blunt arrowhead of the Hephaestus turned, then streaked toward a star too distant to see, leaving sluggard Light in its wake.

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

The Ferengi stopped in front of the desk, snapping to attention. "Admiral, Commander Grunt reporting as ordered!"

The Trill behind the desk gestured toward a chair. "Relax, Commander, and have a seat. I saw T'Nae's communique. She apparently didn't see fit to tell you why you were being dispatched here."

Grunt sat, still stiff. "No, sir, she chose not to share that information."

Quinn smiled. "Sounds like her, all right. One of my earlier hosts knew her when she was a girl. She had a stick up her backside even then." He slid a PADD across the desk. "Mr. Grunt, I am pleased to confirm your promotion to the rank of Captain. Congratulations."

Grunt took the PADD. "Thank you, sir."

"You'll also find in there further personnel actions - Roclak gets his commander's pip, for instance. Also, you're to transfer your command from the Herpes- pardon me, the Hephaestus, to a brand-new ship, the USS Bedford. She's a Celestial-class exploration cruiser, and you'll be taking her on her shakedown cruise. You'll be taking most of your senior personnel with you, although your CMO's up for retirement. I think you'll find the ship's new CMO right up your alley, however. Oh, and we'll need to assign you an operations officer - your first officer's going to be far too busy to do that. Would you mind having an android under your command?"

"Beg pardon, sir? Why would I object?"

"That's what I thought," Quinn smiled. "Of course, any other personnel who wish to transfer can go with you. I'm afraid that T'Nae's going to finally get her way with your old ship - the Starfleet Corps of Engineers will be fascinated to learn how your team managed to integrate such, ah, disparate components into such a fine craft."

"I see. Sir, will transfers take place before SCE gets the Herpes? If you'll pardon the expression?"

Quinn chuckled. "I'll assume you mean the ship, not the virus. And yes, all personnel will be allowed to transfer. Just don't forget any personal effects."

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

Back aboard the Hephaestus, Grunt was finishing the briefing of his command staff. "And Rock, Shelana, and Vov - you all get promoted to Commander. Sorry, Gydap."

The Andorian shrugged. "It's not important, sir. It's not like there would be a pay increase or anything - they'd have to pay us first. And I'm just as happy to stay at the helm."

"Thanks, Gydap. One question - Mycroft, are you with us?"

"Yes, Captain," came a voice from the comm panel.

"You have the specs on the Bedford. Can you live there?"

"Yes, I can, thanks for asking. She's got the very latest in bioneural quantum computing systems - she's practically self-aware already, just waiting for an AI package to be inserted. And hey, by sheer coincidence, I'm an AI package!"

"Great. Don't let it go to your head, though - I'm still your commanding officer."

Mycroft chuckled. "Noted, Captain. As soon as you get me the command prefixes, I can begin transferring to her systems."

Grunt tapped at the console before him. "There you go, Mycroft. Okay, everyone, start packing - we start moving to the Bedford at 1200 tomorrow, station time."

He stood, and everyone followed suit and began streaming from the room.

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

The following morning, Grunt could be found walking through the corridors of his new command, dodging junior officers running about on errands or carrying pieces of equipment. Ducking under a hard-to-identify component being moved by a pair of burly young Humans, he slid through a door and into the ship's sickbay. "Hello?" he
called out.

"If you're looking for the doctor, I'm in my office," a gruff voice called from across the room. Grunt followed it, to find its owner, a middle-aged Romulan wearing a Starfleet uniform.

He was momentarily startled, but recovered quickly. "Dr. tr'Dalen, I presume? I'm Captain Grunt."

The Romulan looked him up and down. "Ferengi. Never treated one of you before. Try not to get injured before I can review the literature."

"No promises, doctor," Grunt grinned. "And the one you should worry about is our chief engineer, Vovonek - he's a Pakled, and he's also prone to jury-rigging anything he doesn't have the proper parts for. You'll probably be treating him for plasma burns before the week is out."

"Yes, I heard about him. Understand he put together your last ship from scrap parts?"

"It wasn't quite that bad, but he did do a remarkable job of bringing the old girl back to life. Now, doctor--"

"Just call me Llunih," tr'Dalen interrupted. "And I've heard all the jokes, so don't bother."

"Jokes? What do you- oh, I see. Yes, it does sound vaguely like 'loony', doesn't it? It doesn't mean anything in my language, though. Anyway, Llunih, that answers my question - I was going to ask what you like to be called. A lot of Humans in your position like to be called 'Doc' for some reason, but I didn't want to give offense."

"A man in my position doesn't have a lot of room to be offended, Captain."

"Ah, yes, about that," Grunt started hesitantly. "Your file didn't have much background information. Is there, ah, anyone we need to keep an eye out for? Tal Shiar looking for you in particular, or anything?"

"Nothing like that, no," tr'Dalen replied. "I did jump ship from the Imperial fleet, but that was about fifteen years back, so I can't imagine they're still looking for me. Given the way most of the galaxy seems to feel about Romulans, though, thanks in large part to that faelirh ch'susse-thrai Hakeev, may he rot in Areinnye, it's not like I can just up and change careers, even in Starfleet. But thanks for being delicate about it, I guess. Never been much for delicacy, myself."

Grunt grinned. "I can tell, yes. Well, Llunih, it looks like some new equipment has just arrived, so you're probably going to be busy for a while. I'd best get back to captaining."

"You do that. Just remember, you've got a physical scheduled for next Thursday at 1400 ship time. Don't be late. You don't want me to track you down." tr'Dalen smiled, an expression he didn't look used to.

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

Grunt emerged from the turbolift into the Bedford's bridge, a scene of much bustling about as various personnel completed last-minute checks on equipment; particularly busy was Zoex's weapons console, where the newly-minted lieutenant was installing some of Shelana's personal variations on standard Starfleet command circuits. It all came to an abrupt halt as a baritone voice called out, "Captain on the bridge!"

"As you were," Grunt replied, and the work resumed. He stepped down into the command well to the owner of the voice, a Human of fairly average appearance aside from the bright yellow irises of his eyes. The being stood, turning to face Grunt respectfully.

"Lt. Turing, sir, ship's operations officer," the android said. "I am unaware of the desired level of formality, sir. Did you wish your presence announced on the bridge in the future?"

"Don't bother, lieutenant," Grunt answered. "Things can get a little, well, frazzled from time to time, and the other members of the crew might not appreciate having to stand at attention every time I go through those doors. Thanks for asking, though."

"You are quite welcome, captain. I wish to report that all is ready for departure at your command."

"It is?"

"No, sir, it is not. However, I do wish that I could report it. That was a joke, sir. I am aware that I am not yet very good at them; however, I am informed that one improves with practice, so I shall endeavor to practice this skill. In point of fact, at current rates, we should be ready to depart from Spacedock sometime tomorrow afternoon - all transfer personnel have reported in."

Grunt smiled. "That wasn't that bad a joke, son. Just listen to Roclak for a while - when he's not cursing in tlhIngan Hol, he's got a pretty good sense of humor."

"Thank you, sir," Turing said soberly. "I have also had some fascinating conversations with Mycroft, who has recently finished installing himself in the ship's systems. I am uncertain of the protocol of maintaining a ship's AI that is not a member of Starfleet, however, sir."

"Meaning you don't entirely approve? No, that's all right, lieutenant, you're allowed to disapprove of me from time to time. However, Mycroft's history is - ah - interesting. He certainly has dealt with Starfleet procedures enough to have a good handle on them - he was developed on a classified Starfleet installation. He's been checked out by Mr. Brel, our counselor, as well, else I'd never have let him run the cyberwarfare systems on the Hephaestus. Suspicion can be a good thing, Mr. Turing, but Mycroft can be trusted."

"Ah, I see. Thank you, captain. I shall now trust Mycroft."

"That's good." Grunt looked at the ceiling. "Now, Mycroft, this is not your sign to play practical jokes on the lieutenant."

A hologram of a slightly overweight Human in outdated clothing flickered into existence. "Practical jokes, captain? Me?"

"You. I still remember the time you reprogrammed the replicators so they delivered root beer instead of coffee. Mr. Manalang was in favor of deleting you with a hammer, you know."

The hologram chuckled. "Ah, yes, the look on his face! Very well, sir, out of respect for you I shan't educate my young cybernetic friend in such techniques."

"Good. I'd hate to have to replace you with a vanilla AI from the Fleet database. Well, Mr. Turing, things seem well in hand here. If anything comes up, my combadge is always on. Now I'm off for a quick lunch."

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

The next day, and preparations for departure were completed even more quickly than the android had supposed. Grunt sat in his command chair. Turning to Vovonek at the engineer's seat, he asked, "So, Commander, what derisive nickname are we stuck with this time?"

"The Bedpan. I think it's because of the shape of the saucer section."

Grunt half-smiled. "They're not as imaginative as they used to be, are they? Very well, readiness check."

"All sections report prepared for departure," Roclak replied from the first officer's seat.

"Good." Grunt leaned forward. "Mr. Gydap, take us out."

The nacelles pulsed blue, the impulse outlets glowed fierce orange, and the massive bulk of the Bedford slid clear of Spacedock, accelerating outward. A flare from the nacelles, and she vanished from Earth's skies.
-------------------------------------------
I'm old enough not to care too much about what you think of me --
But I'm young enough to remember the future, the way things ought to be...

- Rush, "Cut To the Chase", Counterparts

Last edited by jonsills; 09-21-2013 at 09:31 PM.
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