[nUF] Season 1 - "Seeking The Past"

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Re: [nUF] Season 1 - "Seeking The Past"

Post by Steve »

Sladen moved into place in low orbit, just above where the atmosphere would start interacting with her, and signaled the all-ready to the shuttle Marsh.

Said shuttle dropped from the opened hanger door of the Sladen. The shuttle wasn't running any lights, indeed, had barely any power going. It was quickly gripped by the planet's gravity and plummeted downward.

In the shuttle Caterina was holding both her hands together and going white with fear during the rapid descent. The turbulence jostled her around in her harness and added to the discomfort. "I can't believe we're doing this," she said. "This is insane!"

"That's what Commander Kane said," Lucy answered. She kept her hands on the controls and ignored the screaming warnings about their descent. The systems demanded she power up their systems and fire the engines. But she couldn't do that, not yet. Not until they were low enough that the planet completely masked their energy signature.

"Are you sure about this?", Jarod asked nervously from the co-pilot seat.

"Completely," Lucy insisted. She breathed in and felt the same feeling as before on Abydos. Her instincts again sung to her, telling her she still wasn't too late, that she could remain inactive a bit longer.

Cat started breathing more and more quickly. This is crazy this is crazy I can't believe we're…

"Take a breath."

Cat looked across the back of the shuttlebay, where Shepard was strapped in. She looked completely confident and cool. "It's scary, yeah. But have faith in your friend. She knows what she's doing."

Cat swallowed and nodded. And closed her eyes to try and keep her stomach from heaving.

Lucy felt it when it was time. She triggered the shuttle's power systems with one hand while the other activated the thrusters. The shuttle lurched underneath them as its engines generated thrust to counter the gravity of the planet below. "I'm landing us in a clearing, a semi-arid part of the planet. Hold on."

They all held on. But they still felt the impact. It was bone-jarring in its violence. Cat cried out in surprise at the feeling.

After a moment, Lucy let out a breath and exchanged a smirk with Jarod. "See?," she said. "And that was easier than Abydos. I did that in a runabout."

"I remember…" He stood up. "Alright everyone, let's get set up. The longer we're here, the more likely they might detect us."

"Can I throw up first?", Cat asked wearily. "Because I think I might throw up."

"Nothing like a high speed insertion, it can get the blood flowing." Shepard released her harness. She immediately reached over and pulled out a brown plastic bag. "And for our science specialist here…"

"Thank you," Cat murmured.

When they transported, it was into a darkly-lit cargo bay. Everyone activated the personal cloaks they were wearing. They could still see each other with the help of optical gear - in Shepard's case, the visor on her helmet, in which similar gear had been installed by the quartermaster department on the Aurora. As soon as they were in place Shepard pulled the shotgun magnetically attached to the base of her back. The weapon machinery slid out into ready positions. "I'm on the door," she whispered to them. "Let me know when you find anything."

"Let's get to work." The three pulled out scanners tied to their multidevices and began scanning.

Commander King was waiting with quiet, tried patience for a report from Jarod and his team. Their plan had been riskier than she preferred and she had almost decided on the direct attack instead. What had held her back was, at least she thought, her own dislike of the idea of attacking a civilian ship like this. Like a pirate. As much as it might be necessary for them, it was a contradiction to her own principles and those of the fleet she represented.

King was not so lost in her own thoughts that she was startled by the young Ensign Skarsgard's sudden report. "Sir, we're picking up a gravitational disturbance. Consistent with the locals' jump drives."

"On screen," the Englishwoman ordered. The screen shifted to show the blue vortex forming in space. A dark vessel emerged, a circular hull on what looked like ion engines, without markings to show any allegiance. There were visible weapon ports on the hull. The profile didn't make King think of a combat starship, though, and she considered it more likely that they were self-defense weapons.

"It looks like they're taking up station-keeping beside the Pedicarus."

"So it would appear. Mister Trymi, set torpedoes to wide yield and target their sensors."

"Yes Commander," the Dorei weapons officer replied.

"Do you want me to change position, Commander?", Caldwell asked.

"Give Mister Trymi an attack angle against their sensors, Mister Caldwell." King put her hands on her command chair's arms. Alarm klaxons went off and lights flashed red. "All hands, Code Red, man battle stations. I repeat. We are now at Code Red running status, man your battle stations."

"They are launching a shuttle," Skarsgard said.

King watched the winged vessel emerge from the port near the middle of the circular ship. It moved in toward the Pedicarus.

And given the scans of that ship, it seemed to be heading toward the cargo bay.

The warning sounds gave the team just enough time to activate breathers before the atmosphere in the cargo bay was drawn out by the Pedicarus' life support systems. "Sladen to Commander Jarod." King's voice came over the headset Jarod was wearing. "Another vessel has sent a shuttle over."

"I see. Standby." Jarod frowned. With their cloaks on they couldn't be seen, but if they jostled something outside of the cloaking field… "We need to hurry this up."

"I'm picking up traces," Cat answered. "We've got something over this way."

"Confirm it so we can get out of here." With that said he went back to work.

The external doors of the bay opened. Without atmosphere there was no worry of getting sucked into space, thankfully, meaning there was no need to secure themselves and they could keep working. The winged aerospace shuttle flew in on retrothrusters and settled in the bay's open receiving spot. By the time the shuttle shut down the doors were already closing. The faint hiss of the air circulators told him they were pumping an atmosphere back into the cargo bay.

The shuttle door opened and several black-garbed Humans stepped out; three men and two women. One of the women was African, one man Semitic, the second male Asian, and the two remaining ones were Caucasian. They looked around pensively but said nothing.

Jarod felt his heart start beating faster. Something was wrong. It was as if they knew something was wrong, that they knew he and the others were here…

They drew weapons from holsters. Small silver pistols. Three started spreading out. One, the Caucasian male, turned to face Jarod. His face betrayed some bewilderment. But his eyes seemed to…

There you are.

It took Jarod a moment to realize that the voice in his head was not his own.

That was all the time the other man needed to raise his pistol and open fire.

King felt apprehensive at the entire situation. The arrival of this other ship jeopardized their entire plan.

The plan. What is the plan? What are we doing here?

King blinked at that. That thought… that thought couldn't be hers. It didn't feel….

"Commander. Commander, they've got mindwalkers," Trymi said.

"What?", she asked, confused.

"Mindwalkers," Trymi repeated. "Can't you feel?"

"Feel…" King shook her head. She swallowed and focused. Something, someone, was in her mind? Her mind?

"I'm… picking up a weapons charge." Skarsgard's voice sounded strain. Like she was fighting just to be able to speak.

"Evasive maneuvers," King demanded. Even as she demanded this, a part of her seemed to be fighting back. No. Don't. Just stay still. It will be fine...

"Now!", Trymi shouted to Caldwell, his voice desperate. "Focus! Force your mind into action! You must throw the mindwalkers out!"

Caldwell's hand was trembling as he reached or the controls of the Sladen. He triggered the thrusters and engines, throwing the ship into an evasive maneuver.

A moment later, particle fire ripped through space they had been occupying.

Lucy felt the minds probing for them before any of the others realized what they were facing. Meridina had trained her on facing mental incursions; mathematics, nursery and rhymes. She started playing music in her head while calculating the warp mechanic profile of a starship, sludging through the numbers.

Unfortunately, this seemed to only confirm her presence to the mind-reading attackers, who were circling around her through the boxes. One was clearly heading toward Cat.

Well, if you want to read minds...

Lucy reached her hand to the nearest of them, the Asian man. She reached out with her life force and grabbed him. He led out an audible shout of surprise as he flew upward in the air and slammed into the ceiling of the cargo bay. She brought her other arm up and tore the gun from his hand.

The other, the Caucasian woman, turned away from where she was hunting Cat and brought her weapon up. Lucy's arm swept her way. The first man cried out again as he went flying helplessly in that direction and slammed into his ally. Lucy took out her pulse pistol and fired a wide-arc stun bolt at both.

Her hair stood up on her neck. Every instinct in her body demanded she moved, and she did… just as red energy flared up right where her head had been. Their weapons, particle guns of some sort? High speed, too… She started to scramble away. She heard a cry of pain.


Lucy turned back to his aid. In the distance she heard the roar of a mass effect shotgun. Shepard, of course.

She found Jarod nursing a shoulder and visible. Another male, Caucasian, was standing over him with a silver gun pointed at him. Jarod's face was twisted into a rictus of effort and agony. Lucy felt the sense of violation and anger from him; the man was tearing into his mind.

The mind-reader had sensed her coming and moved just as she shot. She fired again and again but couldn't land a hit. He was quick, but only humanly-so. He was using her own mind to determine where the shots were going to go.

He lunged toward her, an ungloved hand reaching out to grab her by the head. Lucy saw the strike coming and ducked under it. She summoned her power and threw it all at him. The man cried out in pain as the raw force from her will slammed into him and sent him flying back into the cargo bay's dock door. She shot him with the stun bolt as he tried to stand up again.

"What's… what's going on?!", Cat cried over the radio.

"Cat, have you found the Darglan computers?!", Lucy shouted back. She knelt beside Jarod to check his injury.

"Um… I think…. it's somewhere here, definitely most of these crates."

"Tag them for transport!"

Jarod nodded. "It's fine," he muttered. "Just a shoulder hit." He grimaced and cradled his left arm with his right. Lucy helped him to his feet.

And then she felt it. A powerful force tore into her mind, brushing away her distracted efforts to block them. Lucy cried out and dropped to her knees.

What are you?, the voice demanded. It was a woman, African, wearing the same dark suit and a silver pistol in her hand. Your mind is too stable to be a teek…

"Get out of my head!", Lucy cried out.

I think I'll take you back. You might just be the breakthrough that we're looking…

There was a surge of energy in the air. It was… different, at least to Lucy, and with a component of unrealness to it. As if the fabric of everything was warped by its presence.

A figure wreathed in blue light shot out from the crates and slammed into the mind-reader so hard that she was sent flying into the shuttle she and her allies had flown in on.

Commander Shepard brought her shotgun up. A loud thundering filled the cargo bay. Blood erupted from the torso of Lucy's attacker from the slivers of metal accelerated to lethal velocity by the mass effect field generated by Shepard's weapon. Lucy dwelled for a moment on how nasty it was to see death that way. I'm getting too used to energy weapons.

Jarod cradled his head with his right hand, his left arm still limp at his side. "Telepaths," he groaned.

"I've heard Asari can do something like that," Shepard said. "But only if they have physical contact."

"How did you get away from the one that came after you?", Lucy asked, rubbing her own head from the headache she felt.

"With a big damned headache and the poor bastard not knowing I'm a biotic," she answered. Shepard's omnitool flashed into existence as she ran her hand over Jarod's wound. "Looks like some damage to the joint. We should probably get you to the medbay."

"I'll second that." Jarod nodded and reached for his multidevice. "But first things first. Jarod to Sladen." He waited for a response; given their situation the system would have automatically activated the channel with his voice command.

There was no immediate reply.

"Jarod to Sladen, please respond," Jarod said, urgency creeping into his voice. "We need pickup."

After a couple of moments King's voice came over the line. "Commander… we are under mental attack… and the ship is being fired on. It's taking everything… to fight off the mind control. I'm not sure we can beam… you back."

Jarod pursed his lips. "Damn. You can't even lower shields?"

"... perhaps… but our operators… most of the crew is debilitated."

"I need to get back there," Lucy said. "Meridina taught me how to fight these kinds of attacks, I should be able to use the transporters."

Jarod thought on it. "Commander King, I'm going to get Lucero back over there. Lower the shield in ten seconds. We just need five seconds from then and everything will be ready."

"...I believe I understand. Counting now."

Jarod nodded and smiled. "Right." He started counting while his hand moved over his multidevice control. "Three… four… five…"

Lucy was suddenly whisked away by the transporter. The Sladen transporter room materialized around her. Nearby the operator was leaning against the controls, moaning from an apparent pain in his head. Lucy could feel that there was nothing wrong; the pain was in his mind.

She started reciting a poem her uncle had taught her as a little girl, and just in time. A mental power began to descend on her, trying to force her into inactivity.

Oh no you don't. 'I love you, you love me…' Mentally she recalled that godawful theme song to "Barney the Dinosaur" from her childhood and played it in her mind. Lucy kept that song up while she used the controls to beam Cat straight to the cargo bay, where she could use the cargo transporters to retrieve the crates they'd identified.

As she went to beam the others back the ship rumbled; a strike on the unshielded armored hull. But not a severe one; their foe wasn't a heavily armed ship at least. She had no trouble beaming Jarod and Shepard back. Both reached for their heads upon return. "Think nursery rhymes, annoying earworm songs, math problems," she urged them. "Things like that can cloud mind-readers. I'll get to the bridge."

On her way there, running down the hall, she called up Caterina. "Cat?! How is it coming?!"

"I've gotten most of it."

"And the mental attack?"

"My head hurts. But I keep thinking up the math problems I use when I'm bored. Do you think they're good at space-time field variations in a warp field under gravitational influence of a nearby star?"

Good one, Cat. "Just get that stuff off."

When Lucy got to the bridge, they shook again. "Damage on Deck 3," Trymi reported.

Lucy could tell he was the only one functioning. "Don't we have any more Dorei for the bridge?"

"No. There are only four Dorei aboard. Two engineers and Doctor Liushan's nurse." King was starting to look better. "It feels like they're weakening."

"They're probably focusing on our people using actual stations." Lucy could see that Skarsgard was completely nonfunctioning at ops. Caldwell was working at the helm, but only with massive effort. "Lieutenant, give me the helm."

"...no...I can…"

"That's them talking," Lucy insisted, even as she felt the pressure on her mind increase. She thought up a new musical theme, from some 80s show her mother had liked and which she thought was an annoying earworm. "Please, move."

Caldwell clearly had to force himself up and away. Lucy slid into his chair and ran her hands over the controls. "Evasive maneuvers."

"Take us out of here, now," King demanded.

Lucy operated the controls with care and precision, all forced on her by the sustained mental attack. Sladen broke free of her tormentor and moved toward open space. The first moment she could, Lucy hit the warp drives. Sladen shot away from the Venir system. Everyone present could breathe a sigh of relief as the mental pressure abruptly vanished.

While Lucy left Caldwell's seat and allowed him to resume the helm, she turned to King. "I gave Cat enough time to finish her transports. We have what we came for."

"Excellent. Lieutenant Caldwell, set our course back for Babylon-5, best speed."

After getting King's leave to depart from the bridge, Lucy went down to Deck 2 and the ship's small medbay. Doctor Liushan was looking over Jarod, who had removed his uniform jacket and shirt so she could get to the blackened, reddened wound on his shoulder. Shepard was standing nearby. "Are you going to be okay?", Lucy asked. The wound looked nasty.

"I'll live." Jarod winced as Liushan applied a medical solution. "So, this universe has Human telepaths. Or is this another situation like the Gersallians? Aliens who look Human?"

"They scanned as Human." Lucy raised her arm to show the display on her multidevice.

"We'd better tell Robert so he can report this." Jarod nodded at Lucy. "You look like you went through it pretty well."

"Meridina's taught me some mental defense tricks. Things like repeating nursery rhymes and doing math. I go for bad music earworms myself. The idea is to distract people looking into your mind." Lucy smiled at him. "You should be even better at it than me with that powerful mind you've got."

"I'll keep that in mind for next time. And I hope it's never." Jarod looked over at the wound. "Those particle guns are nasty."

"Most weapons are," Doctor Liushan remarked. "Please hold still."

"I'll talk to you both later. I'm sure Commander King wants a report on everything that happened."


Lucy left the medbay and found Shepard was following her. "Hey." The other woman stepped up, moving in the combat gear like it was no heavier than a casual set of clothes. "How were you throwing people around like that? Is that the 'life force' stuff Commander Meridina occasionally brings up?"

"It is. I… have the same potential she does, so she's been teaching me to use it," Lucy explained. "Your biotics are different. They feel different."

"It's probably the dark matter." Shepard nodded. "Anyway, I'd better go stow my gear and get to work on the report. I'm sure Anderson and Admiral Hackett will just love to hear about people who can read thoughts and take over minds."

"Yeah. It's… pretty nasty, when you think about it." Lucy sighed. "I just wish we knew more about what they wanted."

"I doubt it had anything to do with us."

"Probably not. At least, not until now." Lucy checked her multidevice. "I'd better get that report ready for Commander King. See you for dinner?"

"Well, it's not like there's a lot of options on this ship," Shepard pointed out. "Sure. We can see if all of this trouble was worth it, I hope."

"I hope so too."

They turned away from each other. At the last moment Shepard looked back. "Wait, what was done about that shuttle we took down?", she asked. "It's got some of your technology aboard, doesn't it?"

"I set the remote auto-pilot before leaving the bridge," Lucy answered. "They should be bringing it aboard soon."

"Right. Clever." Shepard nodded. "See you at dinner."

Lucy answered with a nod and resumed her walk to the bridge of the ship. As she did so she felt a sense of unease. What, indeed, were those telepaths looking for? What was their interest in these excavations?

The unease turned to dread at the prospect of what the answer might be.

Captain Padilla of the Pedicarus tried to fight back the terror he felt as the second shuttle landed in his cargo bay. Nearby his crew members were taking an inventory while the ship surgeon, Ruslov, was draping the second dead telepath with a sheet.

The reason for his terror stepped out of the shuttle. The man was in a black uniform, black gloves, and the only thing breaking that up was the bronze pin on his chest; a pin with a Psi letter insignia.

Padilla swallowed as his guest surveyed the dead and checked on the injured. Finally the man looked at him with a curious look on his face. "Captain, you're rather frightened. Why?"

Convinced he was about to die, or suffer something worse, Padilla explained, "Your people died on my ship. Under my watch. I know you hold me responsible."

The shrugged. "Well, that depends. Did you take all reasonable security measures?"


"Did you abet this attack?"

That question stung. Suicidal pride and anger surged from underneath the terror. "No! Never! Never on my ship!"

The telepath clearly noted that surge of emotion. A thin smile crossed his face. "Spoken like a true captain. Captain Padilla, I must say… you're doing me a great disservice. If you've done everything you reasonably could, taken all reasonable precautions, and been completely honest with me… why do you think I'd take this out on you?"

The thought came unbidden. Because you value your kind more than mine.

"Ah. Honesty. How refreshing. I find that it always helps to get to the core of these things, Captain Padilla. It prevents misunderstandings." The telepath came uncomfortably close. "I'm not a monster, Captain. You are under no threat from me as long as you do your job and do it right. You may go."

Padilla didn't need to be told twice. He took off.

The telepath, meanwhile, looked back at his fallen colleagues. Given the others were only injured and stunned, it was clear that the team that raided Pedicarus were a varied group. Isley, al-Susi, double check the inventory. I want to know what these raiders took.

Right away, Agent Bester.

Alfred Bester's smile was not of mirth. Someone had killed his people. He wanted to know why.

And then, he would teach them a very important lesson about killing his telepaths. A very painful lesson, too. An important education, to themselves and others, about the results of striking at the Psi Corps.

The tram running the length of Babylon-5's cylinder moved steadily along the multi-mile span over the station's internal area, creating a vista of gardens and structures and food-growing areas. Nick Locarno let out a low whistle at the sight. "Great view," he said aloud.

"Aye." Scott stood beside him, wearing his favored engineer outfit - a black vest and trousers with a long-sleeved white shirt. "A work of art, she is."

"It makes you think about why we do this." Locarno went over and settled into his chair on the tram. "Half the point of joining Starfleet is getting to see new sights."

"For some, aye. I dinnae join t' go sightseein' myself." Scott looked over at Locarno. "How are ye daein', lad?"

Locarno considered his answer for a moment. "Well enough, I suppose."

"Good. Good. Ye've gone far since we met."

"It doesn't erase the past." Locarno turned and looked out at the open cylinder again.

"Well, of course not. But ye're doin' worthy things on th' Aurora. Ye've made up for it."

"Joshua Albert isn't someone I can just 'make up for'." Locarno swalllowed. "It's not something I can just... "

A hand pressed on his shoulder. "It's alright, lad. Ye dinnae have t' go intae it. I understand." Scott nodded. "Now, there's got t' be a place where a man can get a good Scotch. Want t' help me find it?"

Locarno considered that for a moment. He smiled thinly and nodded after that consideration ended. "I'm up for a drink myself."

"That's the spirit, lad. That's what shore leave is all about, after all."

The morning routine began as usual for Julia. Replicated coffee, Turkish blend, to wake up, accompanied by a replicated croissant. Both were consumed while she went over the reports from the Gamma Shift Watch Officer. There was nothing of key importance in those reports, just indications of the ship running smoothly. The only concern was the backlog in minor parts needed to restore a couple of machine shop replicators to working order; the Quartermaster Division hadn't yet sent those needed parts, just as they were still short a couple dozen crew.

She allowed herself a small sigh over that. It irked her that they were having these little niggling problems.

But there was little time for more. A morning shower came, just a quick one, since after that she went to the nearest holodeck for martial arts practice - Angel's early morning availability had evaporated once she got back together with Robert, denying Julia her typical sparring partner - and after half an hour beating up holographic adversaries and another half an hour jogging through a holographic park it was back to the shower for real and a proper breakfast in the Lookout to follow.

Her mind was full of considering what delectable breakfast Hargert had prepared this time when the morning routine came crashing down from the loud beep from her multidevice. She looked at the door to the Lookout and sighed. So close. Her finger found the comm key on the device and opened the line. "Andreys here."

"Commander." It was Data. "I need to see you and Captain Dale immediately. I am currently in Science Lab 1."

"On my way."

Data's call had interrupted Robert's shower. It shouldn't have; he was running late for breakfast with Julia in the Outlook, actually, but Angel had provided a usual diversion upon their waking up and he was running behind.

Now his stomach was growling in frustration from the lack of breakfast. And given the look on Julia's face, her's was doing almost the same.

Data seemed oblivious to their plight, though. He remained seated at one of the work stations. Raw data was displayed on the screen; it looked like communications wavelengths. "You wanted to see us, Data?"

"Good morning, Captain, Commander." Data was wearing the newer Starfleet uniform with the gold of operations on the shoulders and the main body black. Robert thought of it as the "DS9" uniform, as that was his first encounter with that particular Starfleet look. It looked closer to their own uniforms with the branch colors as trim around the shoulder blades.

"What is it, Data?"

Before he could say more, the door slid open and Meridina walked in, also in standard duty uniform and with her lakesh weapon on her hip. "Commander Data. You wished to see me?"

Robert and Julia exchanged looks. For Data to want Meridina, their security chief, made this summons more ominous than out of the ordinary.

"Yes." Data looked back to his panel. "While I have been running enhancements to the data compiler software that Lieutenant Delgado was applying to the Darglan data from 33LA, I have also been continuing communication with Starfleet for the purpose of keeping Captain Picard and Admiral Nechayev appraised of our progress."

"Understandable" was Robert's reaction.

"In addition to the standard communications, I have also been continuing contact with Commander La Forge on our own ongoing research into improving warp core safety systems, including a proposal to follow the Alliance's example and switching warp core use over to naqia material. This process includes sending significant amounts of scientific and design data through the Aurora's interuniversal communications array. To prevent communications difficulties, I do this during the ship's night periods when activity is reduced. However, on several occasions over the past several weeks, I have noted an unexpected reduction in available bandwidth during these transfers."

"Reduced bandwidth." Julia crossed her arms. "You mean there's data flowing through our IU transceiver. Even in low use periods?"

"Exactly." Data tapped several keys to bring up relevant data. "According to my analysis of your standard communications activity, this activity is tied into standard fleet communications. But the amount of data in the records does not match the activity recorded."

The implications were clear. "Someone's sending that data. Off the record." Julia looked to Meridina. "We may have a spy aboard."

"Or someone using the transceiver for unauthorized purposes," Meridina pointed out gently. "Either way, it is a security breach. I will commence an investigation immediately."

"You have my full cooperation, Commander," Data promised. "I will…"

Data was interrupted by Robert's multidevice. "Bridge to Captain Dale." The voice was that of Lieutenant Luneri.

He pressed the key to open his end of the channel. "Dale here."

"The Sladen just dropped out of warp. Commander King has signaled that the mission was a success but that she needs to see you urgently."

"Excellent news." Robert nodded to Julia. "Commander Andreys and I will be waiting for Commander King in the Main Conference Room. Get all requested personnel to report to the dock for transferring material to Science Lab 1."


"I wonder what happened," Julia said.

Meridina looked at them. She felt Lucy now and, more importantly, felt her perturbed feelings. It gave her some concern. "I believe something may be wrong."

"Human mindwalkers?" Meridina was the first to react to what Lucy and Jarod described. "My people were not aware that Humans could even become such."

"Another mystery of this universe to explore sometime." Jarod was still favoring his left shoulder. "But at least we managed to find and recover the Darglan databanks. Data and Cat are going over them now to see if we can find the data we're looking for."

"Of course, it won't take long for these people to realize the Alliance is responsible for this." Julia was frowning. The possibilities she was considering were not good. "We could have made an enemy."

"I thought it unwise to attempt to destroy the two vessels," King said. "Given the scale of mental control they were exerting, staying any longer risked my entire crew."

"No, you made the right call," Robert agreed. "This is just another complication we'll have to deal with over time."

"I will send your testimonies to the Farisa Genut on Gersal," Meridina stated. "They may be able to determine the best defense measures to take against the threat these mindwalkers may pose."

"if it's not shapeshifters who can pretend to be anyone, it's mind-readers who can make people into puppets." Angel rubbed her temples with her fingers. "This whole thing is just horrifying."

"We'll leave it to the experts to figure this out." Robert tapped the table impatiently. After all this time… they were so close now. So close to getting to the Facility. A part of him felt horrified at the thought of destroying it. If we can take it, hold it… maybe there's another ship like ours that can be finished out. Or examined so we can produce more like the Aurora. The manufacturing technology alone…

"So we've almost done it." Leo was looking pensive. "This means we'll be going back to the war."

"We will," Julia said. "We'll need to be there to break through to wherever the Facility is in that area."

"I'll make sure the medbay is fully stocked then. It's a good thing I've been working with Doctor Hobbs over on B5. They have the means to provide some of the things the Quartermaster's been holding up."

"I don't know how long we'll be here, so stock up while you can." Robert stood from the table. "Alright everyone, we've got reports to make and work to do. This meeting's over."

"Don't forget that you're due for tomorrow's training exercise," Angel reminded him, smirking.

"Oh, I remember that." He hid the wince he felt. Somehow he was certain Worf and Shepard were preparing quite the day for him.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: [nUF] Season 1 - "Seeking The Past"

Post by Steve »

"So you're leaving shortly?"

Leo nodded in reply to Doctor Hobbs' inquiry. The two were sitting in the Fresh Air restaurant, enjoying another meal that Hobbs had insisted Leo try out. "With Emissary Ledosh off to Minbar with your President Sheridan, we really don't have a purpose here," Leo explained. It wouldn't do to remark on the real reason they hadn't left immediately, so he added, "It's just a matter of our superiors deciding where they need us."

"Well, hopefully it won't be too dangerous." Hobbs settled her silverware down and took a drink of the wine offered by the waiter who just left. "I suppose it's a good thing, then, that all of your orders are completed."

"I can't thank you enough," Leo said. "With the ship going back in action, I want to make sure the crew is fit and well."

"Obviously." Hobbs frowned. "Doctor Gillam, can you explain something to me?"


"Your ship is the most advanced starship in the Allied System fleet, right? And you do missions personally decided upon by your President?"

"That's right," Leo said, having put down his own wineglass after a sip.

Hobbs gained a pensive look to her. "Then explain how your vessel can be denied replenishment of even basic medical stocks?"

"Well, the war, I imagine."

"Doctor, you shouldn't underestimate the power of a good quartermaster to find ways to get things where they need to go. You may need to consider other reasons for these materials not getting to you."

Leo leaned forward. He couldn't get the frown off his face as he thought about that and some of his own lingering suspicions. "You're saying you think our bosses are sabotaging us?"

"Probably not your highest superior. But if someone has it out for you in the other high ranks? You may be surprised what bureaucrats can cause."

"Food for thought," Leo agreed. "And while we share those thoughts, our actual food is getting cold…"

Julia decided the others were right. As space stations went, Babylon-5 was a unique place to visit.

The Zen garden was carefully maintained by the look of things, and from the top of its central structure she could look out at the entire cylinder. Buildings, farmland, gardens, everything needed to help sustain a quarter of a million sentient beings in the vacuum of space.

"Quite the view, huh?"

She turned her head and faced Shepard. Both were in their respective duty uniforms, which highlighted their other physical differences. Shepard was a bit shorter, her blazing red hair a shorter cut to Julia's long golden-blond hair, her skin a bronze contrast to Julia's own fair complexion, and where Julia's eyes were a lighter green that tended toward aquamarine, Shepard's were a strong emerald green.

"It is," Julia said. "Not as much as one for you, though?"

"After a while, space stations all start to look and feel alike," Shepard admitted. She took up a place beside Julia and looked out at it all. "It's still a good view, though. And I'll admit that there's no station quite like this one back home."

"There's nothing like this back home," Julia said. "The International Space Station's barely a collection of life support pods compared to this."

"Well, everything starts somewhere." After making that observation Shepard leaned against the edge of the building. "Of course, I grew up in space. You're a Kansas farmgirl."


"Since you're the XO, do you mind if I ask why you haven't volunteered for mission training yet?"

At that Julia smiled. "Oh, I was tempted. I got to go down to Abydos earlier this year and it reminded me of how much I missed being in the thick of things. But someone has to keep the ship running while everyone else is busy."

"Right." Shepard nodded. "I don't blame you for that. We'll need someone staying on the Aurora and keeping their ships occupied while we do our jobs. I was just wondering what your motive was."

"Sometimes I wonder about it too. But when it comes down to it… the Aurora is my responsibility. It's more important to me than getting to run around punching people."

"Even Nazis?"

Julia smirked at that. "Even Nazis."

"Because… you know, Nazis. Who doesn't want to punch Nazis?", Shepard asked. "They're just special that way."

"That's what holodecks are for." Julia leaned against the edge as well now. "And the rest of the time, I get to be the responsible one."


The new voice caused them to turn. Captaiin Lochley stepped out of the stairwell leading to the bottom of the building. "Commanders." she nodded at them. "I see you're enjoying the view?"

"It's a good view," Julia said. "One of many I've enjoyed since coming out into space."

"I'm glad to hear it." Lochley continued walking until she was on the other side of Shepard from Julia. Now the older woman - Julia guessed she had to be in her mid-40s - was leaning against the edge right alongside them. "I haven't been here a year yet and it's already grown on me."

"A place like this can do that," Shepard said.

"I hear you might be leaving us soon?"

"We're just waiting on new orders," Julia replied.

Lochley nodded. "Well, while you're here, would you ladies like the full tour?"

Julia and Shepard exchanged curious glances. Technically they had places to be. Shepard had to finalize the next training exercise with Worf. Julia had a ship to run.

"I've got no objection," Shepard replied.

"I don't either." Julia stood to her full height. "Lead the way, Captain."

It was late again when the encrypted call came through to Commander King. She sat at her desk and accepted it. Admiral Davies appeared on her screen. "Commander." He nodded. "I see you had quite the adventure."

"Mental attack, Admiral, is not something I would recommend enduring. It put my training to the test."

"And it held. That's good. We'll find that useful information when we begin training officers for resisting mental attacks." Davies leaned forward in her chair. "Now this mission to Venir. This may be what we've been waiting for. An unauthorized rogue operation that risks putting the Alliance into another conflict? I'm ready to go to the Committee with this."

At that, King shook her head. "Admiral, it won't work. I'm afraid my testimony would undermine that purpose."

"Pardon me, Commander?"

"I advised them to launch the mission, Admiral."

An interested look crossed Davies' face. He was irritated, certainly, but more curious than mad. "Well. Alright. Why?"

"Because, sir, it is vitally important that we find that Darglan Facility. The black ops mission to Venir recovered the Darglan databases that can give us the answer we need." King kept her voice tone solid. No emotion, just fact. "I recommended the mission be launched. And I persuaded Captain Dale to authorize it without informing Command."

King waited for Davies' reaction. It came with a nod. "I can see the reasoning. Very well. We'll wait for another chance. Hopefully we'll get one before the Koenig can finish escorting the Kobolian refugees to the frontier."

"Why do we have such a deadline? Certainly Koenig can be re-assigned to another command."

At that Davies made a displeased look. "President Morgan and Admiral Maran are directly involving themselves in that affair. The moment that President Roslin signals that they're settling a world, Koenig will be sent back to the Aurora and you'll be re-assigned. And since the aid to the Refugee Fleet is being routed through the Gersallian and Dorei government, we can't cause any delays to buy you time. It's all up to you, Commander. Find me something useful."

King considered that. "Admiral, what if there is nothing? I admit that, to my surprise, Captain Dale and his people have proven capable with the missions they've been given. If, perhaps, a tad informal…"

Davies' tone turned harsh. "That is unacceptable. You know as well as I what's going on behind the scenes. They're a part of something, something that we need to expose for the safety of the Alliance. Find it, Commander. Soon. Davies out."

The transmission ended. Silence reigned in King's office. She knew what Davies meant. She knew what was going on.

But she had become more and more convinced that the Aurora crew did not.

And if that was true, Admiral Davies' mission would be literally impossible.

It had been a long time since Robert had been pushed as much as he was being pushed today. He was with a team that included Commander Meridina, Lucy, and several of Kane's Marines. The simulated halls and rooms of a Darglan Facility were near perfect, if not entirely in order. Again, Worf and Shepard were messing with their expectations.

Which meant more Panzergrenadiers.

They had caught their team in a trap in the control room for the Facility. There was no way to go out but one door. Lucy's attempt to use the transporters had failed; the simulated Nazi forces had already taken over and locked them out. Simulated weapons fire filled the doorway and several grenades had flown in, just for Lucy and Meridina to bat them back.

"Fire in the hole!", one of the Marines shouted. Private Hakimzade, an tall and powerfully-built Uzbek woman, raised her arm. She was in heavy power armor, a Marine Assault Suit, and as her arm came up a compartment shifted open. A missile erupted from it and flew out the door, where it exploded with tremendous force.

This caused a slight cessation in the shooting. "Follow me!", Meridina cried, and the Marines followed her out as her lakesh swung in the air. Between Meridina's powers and the Marines' fire, they cleared the way forward. Robert moved with them, firing his pulse rifle and spraying sapphire pulses wherever a dark Panzergrenadier suit appeared in his vision.

It was strange and exhilarating and, despite it being a simulation, still utterly terrifying. Robert unloaded his weapon's full fire mode at one of the armored troopers approaching them from the side corridor. At that power and fire mode even a powered armor suit wasn't enough. The attacker collapsed.

Robert checked his weapon as they rushed on. He'd exhausted the power pack. He ejected the spent pack and reached for his belt for a replacement. It was like an old walkie-talkie, save no antenna, and he started pushing the hefty battery into place.

That was when Lucy went flying into him.

They both fell over and became a sprawled out tangle on the floor. Lucy shifted under Robert's legs and he started to sit up.

Just in time for a large Panzergrenadier suit to loom over him. A big armored fist moved across his eyesight, joined by the large anti-personnel auto-cannon above it. His personal shield could only hold out for a couple of seconds, then it would turn him and Lucy into something more like hamburger than people.

It was a simulation. They were on the holodeck. There was no real danger.

But while his rational thoughts knew this, something inside him reacted to the visceral nature of what was unfolding. It didn't care that they were in a training simulation. All it cared about was that he was about to die and messily and he needed to do something and just make this thing go away...

And something inside him resonated with that thought.

Robert threw his arms out and cried out, "Get away!"

The enemy did.

Or rather, the enemy went flying.

It went flying into the nearest enemy, knocking him over and stopping that foe from firing, and both of them got blown apart by Private Hakimzade's own heavy armaments.

For another five seconds the firing continued, then ceased. They had defeated the enemy team. Robert started to lift himself off of Lucy. He looked down at her and offered her a hand. "Here."

She continued to stare at him. Her blue eyes were wide with shock.

"Lucy?", he asked.

"You… you…" She swallowed. "Robert, do you know what you just did?"

In the heat of the moment he hadn't thought of it. He just knew that something had knocked the enemy back. He looked on at the other Marines, who were all staring at him.

And Meridina too. But she wasn't staring. Instead there was a bright intensity in her blue eyes as she stood there, lakesh glinting with its protective EM field around the memory metal blade, looking every bit the knight in her dark purple armor and blue robe.

And then it came to him. He'd… he hadn't even touched the armored soldier. He'd just…

"Robert." Meridina's voice was calm and still. "We need to finish the mission. And then, we need to talk."

The simulation was a success. They took a couple of losses, including a very irritated Lucy, and afterward had their debriefing with Shepard and Worf. Neither of the experts made any comment about what Robert had done. Apparently they were leaving that for Meridina to handle.

When it was all said and done, Robert returned to his quarters. Babylon-5 was still spinning outside of the window, and it gave him something to look at.

His mind kept flashing back to that encounter. The sudden thing that had happened, that feeling within him.

There was a beep at the door. He ignored it at first. But it didn't stop. Finally he said, "Enter." The system unlocked his door.

Meridina and Lucy entered. "Robert…" Lucy spoke first. "Robert, there's something you need to know."

"I already know," he said, in a small voice. "The dreams… I guess they were the first sign, weren't they?"

"Yes." Meridina's voice was calm and gentle, as usual. "You have the gift."

And indeed, he had dreamed that too. "I think I've known for a while," he admitted. "But… I didn't want…" He turned toward them. He faced both; Lucy and her concerned look, Meridina's calm expression. "I don't know if this is something I want," he said. "This is…"

"You still have that choice," Meridina assured him. "Lucy had intentionally called upon it, which is why it awoke for her. Your use of the power was instinctive and unprepared. It has not awoken yet. It might never, if you refuse to use it. Over time, it might even quiet. Particularly if you are not exposed to its use in others."

"What do you mean by that?", Robert asked.

"She means that being around it makes you more receptive to it," Lucy answered. "It's… it's the Flow of Life, it's around everything, and use of the power can make you feel it within yourself. It's how it started for me. Being around Meridina and knowing it was there."

"Yes." There was something soothing in the way Meridina's voice remained level and calm.

Robert considered that. "Which means that the more you two are around me, the more likely I'll start to use this… ability. This 'life force' stuff."

"Exactly." Meridina nodded. "The true question, Robert, is this. Do you wish to learn?"

The question was direct and to the point. He thought about it. Did he want to learn how this stuff worked? To wield whatever this was?

Do I want to have nightmares every night? was one thought that went through him. He'd been following Ledosh's advice, trying to remain positive as he fell asleep and to dream of good things. But the nightmares still came. Not as often as before, granted, but they hadn't gone away.

"What do you two think?", Robert asked them. "Do you think I should?"

Lucy's response was first. "I think… I think it has to be your decision, Robert. I can't tell you whether you should or not. It's different for each of us."

"I will not be untrue to you. I do believe there is great good you can accomplish if you did learn, Robert," Meridina admitted. "It can never be anyone's choice but your own, and I cannot advise you either way. Listen to your heart and decide if you can trust yourself with the power. It is a heavy burden. Darkness and corruption will tempt you. But I know you are meant to have it. I believe it is your destiny. But you must be willing to do so. It is your choice, not mine."

Robert had heard those words before, in the depth of his dreams. He swallowed. "I…" His mind went through all of the possibilities. If this was something he wanted. Something he…

There was another chime at the door. Robert called out "Come in" and the door slid open.

Angel stepped in. She gave a look to Meridina and Lucy before looking at Robert and rushing up to him. "Rob, what happened in that training simulation?!", she asked, her voice insistent. "I mean, I just saw the recording, you… you…"

"I've got their power," he said. "And… I have to decide whether I'm going to use it or not."

Angel looked back to the two. "Can you give him some space?", she asked them. "This isn't something he can decide on the spur of a moment."

"Of course." Meridina looked to Lucy. "Let us depart."

After they went out the door Angel embraced him closely. "My God. This is… those nightmares, right? Those nightmares are from this?"

"Apparently so."

"Then we need to find a way to make it stop," she said. "So you can sleep again."

He thought on that. Was that the way to go? Make the power go away? Could he make it go away? "Maybe, I… Angel, I don't know what I'm going to do about this." He sat on his bed. Angel sat beside him. Her hazel eyes burned with protective concern. "Maybe this is something I'm meant to do."

"Robert." Her voice was firm and disapproval was evident. "This stuff is torturing you every night. You've woken up screaming how often in the past few months? And then there's all the pressure you have as the Captain. You really think you'll be able to do all of the weird training and stuff Meridina will require? There aren't enough hours in the day for it, Rob. This thing… you've done enough, okay? You're doing enough, you're doing your part, you don't need to take that on too."

Robert considered that argument. The truth was that he did feel fairly exhausted often. The sleep interrupted by nightmares, the stress of captaincy, the monotonous boredom of the need to sign requisition orders and personnel directives and action reports and everything else… How could he find the time to learn this life force stuff on top of that? He'd stretch himself so thin…

Angel was right. It wasn't something he could do.

"You're right," he said to her. "So don't worry about it. I'll tell them no."

Angel nodded at that. "Good." She nuzzled his neck. "You do so much already, Rob. You're always doing so much to make this work, to make things better for people. But you've got to look out for yourself too, enough to keep yourself sane. Don't let all of this crush you, okay?"

He nodded at that. His full answer came a moment later when he kissed Angel on the lips.


Robert had decided he wanted one last look at Babylon-5.

He hadn't come alone either. Angel walked beside him as they went through the Zocalo, just two people among a crowd of various species and Humans as they went about their day. "It's not as big or populated as the Citadel," he observed to her. "But it's got a charm of its own, doesn't it?"

"It does," she agreed. And then she gave him a kiss on the cheek.

They wound up in the station's central corridor. Traffic moved around them, mostly foot traffic, as the station's crew and denizens went about their day. "Captain Dale!", a voice called out.

Robert looked up to a catwalk above them. Captain Lochley was already moving to the side, heading to the stairway down.

Robert and Angel went over and met her at the base of the stairs. "Captain Elizabeth Lochley, station commander," he said for Angel's benefit. "This is Lieutenant Angela Delgado, the Aurora's Tactical and Gunnery Officer."

"Captain, ma'am," Angel said, nodding.

"Lieutenant." Lochley returned the nod. "Are you on duty?"

Robert shook his head. "We just didn't change out of our uniform. I… wanted to show Angel the station before we left."

Lochley had already noted they were holding hands. "Of course." She smiled in understanding. "It's a wonderful place. Delenn used to call it a dream given form."

"I was doing some reading on its origins. It was certainly the result of a lot of stubbornness. The good kind." Robert grinned at Angel when saying that; she was quite stubborn herself.

"After the Earth-Minbari War, we knew that a place like this was needed," Lochley answered. "And in the end, it's worked out."

"Glad to hear it." Robert felt a thought come to mind. "Maybe… well, the InterStellar Alliance has moved to Minbar, but maybe this station could serve one day to do the same for all of the species and governments of all of the known universes?"

Lochley laughed at that. "It would certainly make my job more complicated. But it would be worth it. I've had enough conflict in my life."

"I know that feeling," Angel said. "But sometimes you have to fight."

Lochley gave no answer to that. Before anyone could say more, Robert's multidevice let off a tone. He reached down and accepted the incoming transmission. "Dale here."

"Captain, Jarod and Cat need us all in Science Lab 1, immediately." It was Julia on the other end. "I think they've found something."

Robert nodded at that. "We're on our way back now. Dale out." He looked to Lochley. "Well, Captain, I'm guessing this is goodbye for now."

"Hopefully just 'for now'," Lochley said. "I wouldn't mind getting to see your ship again. It's a lovely vessel."

"Thank you. And I'd love to get to see this place again." Robert looked around. He could almost feel the history here, the gravitas of the station and the role it had played. "Hopefully we'll be back sooner rather than later."

Lochley responded by offering her hand. Robert took it and they had a handshake. When that was over he pressed the commkey again. "Dale to Transporter Station 1. Two to beam out."

Lochley watched as the two were taken away by bursts of white light. "I'm going to have to get used to that," she murmured.

Everyone had gathered in Science Lab 1. In one corner of the room, solid shapes of blue and green had been placed in transparent storage containers. Wires ran around and into them. "It took several attempts to make the databanks work," Data explained, "but after connecting them to your tertiary auxiliary computer core, I was able to use the raw processing power to bypass the security measures and begin decrypting the data kept within."

"So have you found anything?", Locarno asked.

Jarod nodded. "A lot of things, actually. Technical schematics for smaller, more efficient versions of our pulse plasma cannons. Transwarp drive studies. New universal coordinates."

"But what about the Facility we're looking for?", Robert asked. "That's what we need."

Jarod looked to Cat, who nodded. "We found fragments of a transmission stored in the databanks. Here." She hit a key.

An alien voice began talking in a language they didn't understand. "I'm applying our datafiles on the Darglan language… now."

The alien voice became overlaid with a simulated one. "...are going to come for us, you know it, Lamin. We have no choice/decision, we must go back/up to the other places-of-being/cosmos/universe."

"Then they will come for us, Gramul! And the Vorlons will not protect/safeguard our survival in that case. We promised them never to touch/utilize/manipulate this technology again!"

"The Dark Ones will ignore the Vorlons, they want us gone/exterminated, they always have! This is our only hope! Here, I have the coordinates and lists/inventories, all I need is access to the drive design plan/schematic/layout and..."

"Gramul, no! What have you done?! That information is…" There was a low rumble in the background. "...what is that? Why is the sun/star/source-of-light going out, there isn't an eclipse…"

"Ancestors/Revered Ones, no. No. I… I was too late…"

The transmission cut.

Everyone remained silent for a moment. It was Shepard who asked, "Is that when their world was destroyed?"

"We don't know for sure," Jarod admitted. "But given what we were told by Suvall and Delenn about the Shadows killing the Darglan, and the information from the recent Shadow War… it fits."

"The Shadow Planet-Killer is an amorphous cloud formed by what is apparently nanotechnology of some form," Data said. "It surrounds a planet and fires gigaton-scale atomic missiles into a planet's core. Given the description stated by the one called 'Lamin', it would seem to indicate this discussion happened just as the Shadows deployed this weapon on the Darglan homeworld."

Cat shook her head. Her eyes were bright with tears. "It's so horrible. The Darglan were such a nice people, why would these Shadows want them dead?"

"Maybe the Shadows were just evil bastards?", Angel suggested to her sister. "I mean… 'shadow' is kind of a nasty thing to call yourself, I think?"

"At least from our cultural perspective," Data pointed out. "That said, it appears the name 'Shadow' is not their species' name, but rather a designation given to them by the Minbari."

"They were talking about Facility coordinates," Meridina noted. "Were they contained in the data?"

"They were," Jarod said. He hit a key. Three sets of coordinates popped up. Two were of Earth, one for their home universe. "It looks like there was a second Earth to get one," Jarod said. "But the data for that is missing the universe designation. The third set, though…"

It was, indeed, a set of coordinates. Exact coordinates, and a set that they'd seen part of before.

And beside those coordinates were four symbols.


"We did it," Julia breathed. "We have the coordinates." She looked to Robert and grinned. "We did it."

He nodded and returned the grin. "Now we tell Admiral Maran. And we get ready." Robert looked to everyone. "Now…" He thought on what to say.

"Now we have to get around the Nazi fleet and beat them there," Leo finished for him.

Robert nodded. "That's right. This was the easy part. Now the real work begins."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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