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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: StarCrossed PostPosted: 2002-10-25 07:55pm
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Table of Contents

Star-Crossed
Chapter 1: The Opening Gambit



“What was that?”

The bridge crew was quickly looking about, many looking down at their consoles. Commander Branna steadied himself.

“Unknown sir. We’re checking now.”

Branna shook his head, fighting the brief sense of vertigo. It seemed that the entire bridge crew had felt the same sudden shift. He did not have any idea what had happened but he hoped he got a report before –

“Admiral, what happened?” The voice was soft but cold. A small hologram sprang up by his command post.

“Lord Nemesis, my apologies, Admiral Kittaine is –“

“Just arriving on the bridge, Lord Nemesis.” Kittaine interjected as he stepped in behind Branna.

The hologram looked past Branna. His eyes were cold and they seemed to cut right through you. Branna tried to avoid Lord Nemesis as much as possible. Of course, there were worse assignments. He had lost many class mates in Lord Vader’s fleet.

Kittaine was a tall and imposing figure, hard eyes and aristocratic features, including a proud hawk like nose. Despite the fact that the admiral must have been interrupted in the middle of his sleep cycle his uniform was perfectly kept and looked unmarred. Even his hair was neatly combed and not a hint of stubble on his face.

Kittaine never seemed to flinch under Lord Nemesis’ cold and steady gaze. That is why Branna admired the man. He was like a shield for the others against this unknown dark cloaked stranger who had stepped aboard a month ago and had kept mostly to himself. The crew had been under Kittaine’s command since the turbulent days surrounding the Battle of Yavin. Despite the destruction of the Death Star, Kittaine had never once faltered in his dedication to the New Order. He had hunted rebel ships through nebulas and asteroid fields. He had gone toe to toe with those damnable Mon Calamari ships and had walked away victorious.

His crew had seen him hold them together under some of the most withering assaults, never once raising his voice even in the heat of battle. He was a rock and the crew loved him for it.

“What has happened, Admiral? I feel a disturbance in the Force.”

“I am about to get a report, Lord.” Kittaine did not look up; instead he held out his hand and waited. Branna rushed over to the sensor crews and they handed him the report. He quickly passed it on to Kittaine and waited obediently by his side.

Kittaine stared down at the report for a long moment, paused and then passed it back to Branna.

“My Lord, I believe that your presence is required on the bridge.”

“Oh?” There was a quiet threat to the word.

“According to the report we are no where near our galaxy. All star charts report negative. Hyper space and gravitic sensors also report negative.”

Nemesis was silent for a long moment.

“Are you certain?”

“I am having the report double checked but –“

Nemesis suddenly straightened and pointed to Kittaine.

“Bring the fleet to battle alert. We will be under attack very soon.” Nemesis turned away from the holo projector and disappeared, the flourish of his cloak the last thing caught on the hologram as it vanished.

Kittaine did not hesitate. He turned to face the bridge crew.

“Bring us to battle stations. Raise combat shields and give me a detailed sensor sweep of the area, now.”

“Aye sir.”

Kittaine pointed to the report in Branna’s hand as he stalked over to the main screen.

“Have those readings double checked. I want to make sure that it is accurate.”

“If it is, Admiral, this could mean we are thousands if not millions of light years from home.” Branna commented darkly as he followed his commander.

“One thing at a time, Captain, let us find out where we are before we jump to conclusions.” Kittaine responded softly as they reached the view screen. Beneath them, the massive yet elegant bulk of the Emperor’s Will dominated the lower half of their view. One of the Super Star Destroyer class ships, it was a command ship second to none. Around them, several dagger shaped ships were in various escort positions around them. Their pearly white frames shining in the interstellar void. The Star Destroyers were slowly fanning out as their command ship called for battle stations.

Branna noted with pride the string of TIE fighters flowing out along side the Emperor’s Will, small almost insignificant dots against the enormous frame of the powerful warship. They flew with precision into flowing walls around the warships.

“Fighter screen in place, Admiral.” Branna reported.

“Admiral, we’re picking up an odd disturbance to the starboard.”

“Can you endeavor to be clearer?” Kittaine asked coolly.

“I apologize sir. We’ve never seen anything like it. It seems to be objects out of phase with our space, they are approaching at super luminal speed, but it is definitely not hyperspace travel.”

“That’s odd.” Branna noted curiously.

“What seems odder is that they are using some form of propulsion we are unfamiliar with.” Kittaine added with some concern.

“Those objects are the enemy. Their intent will be very clear soon.” Nemesis spoke as he strode into the bridge. He wore a long flowing black cape and a black tunic. His black boots clicked softly on the metal floor. His sandy blonde hair was kept short giving accent to his eyes. The blue eyes were cold and sharp. His face was in a constant dark cloud of suspicion and anger.

He was followed by a lithe young woman dressed in nondescript gray tunic and pants. She was beautiful but looked dangerous. The crew had taken to calling her Nemesis shadow, as she was never seen far from him. She rarely spoke to anyone and when she did it was always about business, Nemesis’ business. Her gaze was more than enough to unnerve even a veteran officer.

As usual she stood by Lord Nemesis, quietly and trying not to draw any attention away from him. Kittaine knew who she was, or at least what the Imperial high command had deigned to tell him. She was a special operative from Imperial Intelligence, assigned to be Darth Nemesis’ bodyguard and liaison with the Emperor. He suspected much more than that but had no evidence other than his experience and gut feeling about her.

He could not remember exchanging any pleasantries with her. His sole conversation was simple. She walked into his quarters at his request and attempted to engage her in conversation, in a subtle attempt to find out more about his new charge. She smiled coldly at him and spoke, “Admiral Kittaine, I am here to serve at Lord Nemesis’ pleasure. I am merely an agent, anything you have to say, you can say to Lord Nemesis.” With that she politely smiled at him and stepped out of his quarters.

“We will be ready for them.” Kittaine replied.

“Do you have any more information regarding your assertion that we are no longer in our galaxy?” Nemesis asked stepping in to face Kittaine.

“Not my assertion, my lord. Our sensors are telling us that these stars do not appear in our charts, even the charts of neighboring galaxies.”

“Could they be Ssi Ruvi ships?” Branna suggested.

Nemesis frowned.

“No. They are something else. Something cold.” He answered in a quiet voice, as if his attention were drawn somewhere else. The young woman watched Nemesis intently.

“Track all weapons on inbound trajectories.” Kittaine ordered. He looked out the view port and seemed to be weighing something. Nemesis watched him closely.

“Have the Adjudicator move out to greet the newcomers. I want the Executioner and the Inexorable to fall back in support positions.”

“The rest of the fleet?” Nemesis asked quietly.

“We will see what unfolds. We may not need them.” Kittaine answered.

Nemesis nodded slowly.

“Objects now within range, slowing…we are receiving communications being broadcast on all possible frequencies, trying to filter one out.”

10 huge green cubes seemed to flash into existence out of nowhere. They quickly spread out, nearly encircling the Adjudicator. They glowed menacingly.

“Adjudicator looks exposed out there by herself.” Branna whispered to Kittaine.

Kittaine nodded sagely.

“Captain Tarsi is a capable man. He’s survived more first contact situations than you have read about.” Kittaine answered.

“I have a transmission isolated, putting it on speakers.”

“-ARE THE BORG, YOUR TECHONOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL DISTINCTIVENESS WILL BE ADDED TO OUR OWN. LOWER YOUR SHIELDS AND PREPARE TO BE ASSIMILATED.”

“It seems we have our answer.” Nemesis stated evenly.

“Open a channel to Captain Tarsi.”

“Tarsi here Admiral. I’m standing by on all weapons. We’re picking up energy spikes on all these cube ships. Something happened a moment ago, seems they were trying to beam some form of energy to us, we’ve picked up multiple impacts along our shield grid.” Tarsi reported smartly. “Orders?”

“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

Kittaine paused at the ridiculous statement.

“Captain, show these would be conquerors that the Empire always resists.”

Tarsi smiled coldly, nodded and the holoimage disappeared.

A heartbeat later, the Adjudicator suddenly fired all her weapons at the cubes. Half of them disappeared into exploding debris and hot gasses. The other cubes, huge gaping holes and gashes in the armored hull slowly rotated and released a storm of green torpedoes. They impacted against the Adjudicator. Green flashes of energy splashed along the ship’s entire hull.

Without having to be ordered to, the Inexorable and the Executioner opened fire on the remaining cubes. They exploded under the new onslaught. Within a few moments, the cubes were gone and the space they occupied was littered with debris.

“I want bodies brought aboard for inspection. They managed to send out a signal, Kittaine. Be ready for a counterattack.” Nemesis ordered.

“Of course, Lord.” Kittaine answered neutrally.

The young woman paused before following Nemesis off the bridge.

“Lord Nemesis is to be informed immediately when you have completed preliminary analysis.” She added coolly.

Kittaine watched them leave his bridge. Branna felt relief after they stepped off the bridge. Those two deserved each other, he mused.






The buzz of the alarm awoke him from fitful sleep. He slowly sat up on the edge of the bed, trying to shake off the sleep. The buzzing was incessant. He wanted to ignore it but duty, as always drove him to get up and flip open the panel of his personal comp.

“Picard here.”

“Captain Picard? I’m sorry, did I wake you? I forget about the time difference between Earth and the Neutral Zone.” William Riker answered hesitantly.

Picard gave him a wry grin.

“Is that where they have you these days?” He asked and slowly sat down at his desk, moving the comp screen to face him as he did.

Riker shrugged.

“We go where we’re told. I thought we would have had some sort of decision by now.” Riker added softly.

Picard nodded and held a hand up to his chin.

“Unfortunately, Number One, it seems that Starfleet command no longer has control over the issue. The Federation Council now has jurisdiction over the matter. The media is still having a field day with the incident.” Picard said incident with just the right touch of sarcasm to let Riker know precisely what he thought of it.

“The entire crew has sent Starfleet command after action reports, completely backing your story and stating that we had no choice.” Riker sighed, knowing how much good that did in the end.

“It seems Number one, that this matter is now in the hands of politicians.”

“God help us all.” Riker smiled. But it was a sad smile. His commanding officer’s fate was in the hands of people that had created the situation in the first place.

“Now, Will, you did not place a subspace call to me just to ask about this case.” Picard noted with a smirk.

Riker nodded and suddenly grew serious.

“I thought you should know it seems that our long range patrols have picked up frenzied transmissions from the Borg.”

Picard stiffened. Wouldn’t he have felt them if they were coming for them again?

“The new transwarp sensors we’ve been putting up these last few weeks have been picking up transwarp conduit activity increasing eight fold in the last hour.”

“They are on the move.” Picard breathed.

“Looks that way, but they’re not coming for us. All the transwarp activity is centered deep in the Delta Quadrant. They’re moving like mad into the center of their own space.”

“This is odd. What else do you have?”

Riker smiled at Picard’s intimate knowledge of how his mind worked. He knew that this alone would not be enough to move Riker to call Picard in this manner.

“Starfleet ordered a special consultant to warp out to the border and investigate.”

“Special consultants?”

“A civilian scientist.”

Picard sat back pondering for a moment.

“I would have thought they may have called me.”

“We all know how Starfleet feels about your connection to the Borg. Actually, they were smart enough to use a Borg to find out about the Borg this time.”

“Annika?”

“That’s right; they tell me she still goes by Seven of Nine.”

Picard nodded slowly. He had met her once, at the welcome home party for the crew of the Voyager. She was more than what he expected, but was slightly taken aback by her pride in her drone past. Was it pride though? He should know better, the scars that assimilation could leave behind, and she had been a drone for most of her life. He had only had to suffer the nightmare for a few days.

She left Starfleet shortly afterwards to pursue a career in science. He had read her last paper on Transwarp Conduits. Very informative if a little cold.

“She’s on her way on the Defiant.”

“Then it is a little more than a simple survey.” Picard concluded.

“My thoughts exactly. The Defiant’s cloaking device and armament make her a perfect choice to go poking around in the fringes of Borg space.”

“So the rumors I hear that some of the transwarp technology Janeway brought with her made it on to some of our ships.”

“I don’t think I can confirm or deny that.” Riker stated straightfaced.

“Having only played poker with you a few times, Will, I have no idea what to make of that.” Picard replied wanly.

Riker remained noncommittal.

“I thought you should know sir. It’s not right what’s going on here, but I understand Starfleet’s position. The Federation council is investigating Starfleet for corruption and willful misconduct in violation of our charter and they are trying their best to cover their asses. When we finished off that damned converter and blew the Son’a straight to hell, for some reason I thought it would be over.”

“It’s never over Will. There had to be repercussions for what happened. We betrayed our principles at Baku. It will take sacrifice and pain to stand back where we were.” Picard replied solemnly.

Riker remained silent for a moment when he was interrupted somewhere off screen by someone’s voice. He looked past the screen.

“From whom?” Riker asked incredulously.

The reply etched surprise across Riker’s face. Picard was intrigued.

Riker nodded then quickly glanced back down at the screen.

“Captain, you’re not going to believe this, but we just received a transmission from the Enterprise.”

“What?”

“The transmission is an old Federation code, the voice has been positively identified as that of Captain James T. Kirk.”

Picard was speechless.





He slowly moved the piece forward and pondered it for a moment. It was a Constitution class cruiser. The 3D chess board was made out of a crystal that changed colors constantly. There were more pieces strewn across the board. One was the Emperor’s Will, the other was a piece consisting of several Borg cubes melded together. Many more pieces still sat in there starting positions. This was just the opening move.

He quietly watched the board, it seemed as if he were looking deep into it, lost in thought.

“Brilliant opening move, a tad dramatic and overstated but I like the flamboyance.” A voice intruded.

The player turned slowly, a cold smile crossing his face like a knife.

“You would like the dramatic, my friend. Disappointed that I thought of it first?” He asked in a strange voice. It seemed to boom out from behind him, as if he were not truly speaking out of his mouth but the voice erupted from somewhere else.

“Moi, dramatic? I prefer the term, excitable.” Q replied and flashed out of sigh of the briefest moment before reappearing in a seat opposite the player.

The player regarded Q with a cold detachment, as if he were observing some minstrel show and looking to critique every mistake, every misplayed note. Q smiled in return but his eyes also seemed to measure the man across from him.

“This is unnecessary, you know. You are playing games at a very dark time.”

“The continuum sent you?” The player asked absently as he contemplated the next move. His fingers stood poised over each piece, slowly moving back and forth down the line.

“No.” Q admitted.

The Player smiled and for all intents and purposes it resembled a shark.

“Then why do I care whether you think I’m wasting my time.”

“Time can’t be wasted, you should know that.” Q put a hand up to his mouth in mock surprise. “Oh, I forgot, you’re human, what can you know of space time?”

The player’s hand paused and his eyes flashed up at Q.

“I WAS human, Q. Now I am no longer. I have achieved apotheosis.”

Q smirked.

“What you have achieved is an ego the size of the universe. I always told the others that it was a bad idea to give you sanctuary.”

“Some sanctuary, just when I was getting used to things, you go and have a civil war that nearly reduces the universe to ruin.” This time the player put his hand up to his mouth in mock surprise. “Oh, I forgot, the universe is about to go into ruins.”

“That wasn’t very funny.” Q replied dryly. He looked around for a moment and frowned. They were sitting together on a high rock mesa, the sky above them was pitch black, save for the occasional silent lightning that arced across the sky. Below them was rolling mist and shadow.

“You sure know how to pick a place.”

“Considering what the Continuum was like, I find this place far more to my liking.”

“I came on my own accord because I was a little disturbed by the turn of your game. You seem to be toying with people, places and things that should be well enough alone. They will have their hands quite full when the universe starts to crash down around their ears.”

“You assume that they will know. There are many that believe that when the time comes, it will be swift and dark. There will be no time to save anything.”

“Those people are what we in the Continuum call pessimists.”

The player paused and glanced up at Q.

“I was talking about people in the continuum.” He replied.

Q shrugged.

“What can I say? When you’ve been around and seen what we have seen, you can’t help but be pessimistic.”

The player stopped, sat back and crossed his arms across his chest. Q noted with some distaste that he still had some distinctly human habits for one that had achieved Apotheosis.

“You’re here because I’m toying with people you care about.”

Q flashed out of his chair and reappeared on the other side of the small mesa.

“What?! Don’t be ludicrous, they’re human beings…barely out of the trees, they have not even begun to fathom the mysteries out there. I have thrown back the curtain over a thimbleful of the vastness of the universe they wish to learn so much about and they have been utterly amazed.”

The player nodded in agreement but he was smiling softly.

“They’re foolish little creatures that seem to think the universe owes them a favor.”

“You wouldn’t have perhaps, fostered that belief by getting them out of some scrapes, would you?”

“Pha!” Q waved the words away in disgust.

“Well, I happen to know your propensity to help these humans out, and I for one am rather looking forward to the big lights out. This universe has been chugging along for far too long. I want to see the end.”

“And?”

“You should not interfere. The Continuum gave strict orders to all Q, not to help the humans or anyone else in anyway with the coming end. They brought it on themselves after all.”

Q sighed.

“They did at that didn’t they. They took time to be their personal little playground and now look what they have done. You would think they would have learned by now.”

“So, my warning to you, don’t interfere in the game. Its all I have to keep me entertained in the end.”

“Petty revenge is all you have this close to the end. You can travel the universe, bend the laws of nature to your whim and instead you sit here and craft some intricate little revenge against everyone that hurt you, or so you thought.” Q replied coldly.

“Revenge?” He eyed the Constitution Class cruiser with particular interest before returning his gaze to Q. “Perhaps, but this will be more than that. A grand experiment, shall we say on the nature of man. How far has he come along, eh? How far from the trees are we?”

He eyed his pieces and touched the Borg cubes.

“Is man nothing more than an advanced biological machine and is the way of Unity above all else really the answer.” He passed a hand over the Emperor’s Will. “Can a man come back from the dark road he is on, can he fight the urge of millions of years of evolution, and can he ignore the siren call of rage and fear to transcend?” His hand brushed the Constitution Class Cruiser. “Can a man come to terms with his own mortality and admit that maybe, losing is a valuable part of life?”

“You don’t believe in any of those ideals.” Q noted with disdain.

“I know.” The player smiled. “But your precious humans are going to prove me very right indeed.”

Q frowned. The player returned to his game, his silver eyes gleaming as if enjoying a private little joke.



Wherever you go, there you are.

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Last edited by Mr Bean on 2002-10-26 11:59am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 07:56pm
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Chapter 2: Strange Meetings


Lord Nemesis was in a meditative pose, legs crossed over each other as he sat, arms extended out along his legs, hands open with fingertips touching. His head was bowed low, eyes closed and the only movement of his body was the slow rhythmic heaving of his chest. He had cast aside the long black cape and wore only his black tunic and pants. He was floating a meter off the ground.

She watched him with guarded interest.

“You know, I’m glad that you decided to stop brooding. It’s good that the men see you in action. Your very presence inspires them and brings fear into their hearts. Fear breeds out incompetence.”

“Really? It has been my experience that fear stagnates a man. Those officers will not take the initiative on anything. They will simply do their best to carry out my orders and take no risks whatsoever to accomplish any other goals.”

She smirked.

“That’s not the way the Emperor sees it.” she paused for a moment. “Or Lord Vader.”

Nemesis opened up one eye and stared at her. She returned the gaze without flinching.

“How well do you know Lord Vader?” he asked softly.

She shrugged.

“One does not know anyone in the Emperor’s service, particularly a Lord of the Sith. I merely served with him on some assignments that required stealth and finesse. Lord Vader is more on the brute force side of the equation. If you want something done quietly with no questions asked or created, you come to me or one of the other Hands, that is what we’re here for. If you want to subjugate a planet or crush the rebellion, you go to Lord Vader.” She paused. “Or Lord Nemesis I assume at this point.”

Nemesis nodded and remained silent. He closed his eye again and there was a stillness in the chamber for some time. She slowly stretched out on the sidelines, keeping an eye on him but working on her muscles and tendons, she needed to be ready to defend him at a moment’s notice.

“I know the real reason why you are here. I am not a fool.” he spoke suddenly in that soft voice of his. Quite a contrast to Lord Vader. He did not look much older than the boy that she knew he was, only some lines around the eyes and cheeks betrayed the anger that welled in him constantly. It did not look as if he had a face that suited such a lifestyle.

“I’m not sure I understand, Lord?” she replied evenly.

“The Emperor, my master, is uncertain of his latest Sith Lord. He wants to make sure that I do not stray a whit from the Dark path. Should I falter, it will be your blade in my back, I’m sure.” he answered coldly, but did not open his eyes.

“My lord, my duty is clear, to protect you, advise you and assist you in anything you need.” she protested. He did not open his eyes, did not even look in her direction. She was guarding her thoughts. But he was a Sith, he was powerful and her thoughts betrayed her. He made no move or sign to betray that he had learned the truth.

Inevitability weighed on him like a cloak.

“They are coming.” he said casually. She moved like a tigress across the chamber and stood by the door as it opened.

Kittaine strode in, followed by Branna and chief of security Dorin. Dorin was a fat man. This was odd in Imperial ranks, as there was a strict fitness regimen among the officers but Dorin had friends. He also had a gift for interrogation and torture that made him indispensable.

Nemesis opened his eyes and looked down at the men, he floated slightly higher now, slowly rising as if on an invisible wind.

“What is it, Admiral?” he asked.

“Lord Nemesis, I have the report you requested.”

“We were attacked again?” Nemesis asked casually.

“Yes, Lord. This time there were forty cubes. We destroyed them with no or little damage to ourselves.”

“There will be more.” Nemesis concluded.

Kittaine remained silent on the matter. He knew better than question Nemesis’ intuition in these matters. He had so far proved infallible.

“Go on, Admiral.”

Kittaine nodded to Dolin who stepped forward, eyeing Nemesis suspiciously as he started speaking.

“Lord Nemesis, my men have finished analyzing the relevant materials we recovered from the wreckage of the first battle. We have managed to ascertain the following. Dolin took out a small holoprojector from his pocket, only Nemesis noticed his bodyguard tense for the briefest moment, ready to kill the man.

She eased as he activated the projector. The body of one of their fallen enemy was projected for all to see. It was a human, no doubt but it was covered with cybernetic implants, grotesque implants.

“They call themselves the Borg. They are a cybertnetically enhanced species the likes of which we have never encountered before. The tech level of the enhancements is inferior to our own but serve their utilitarian purposes rather well. They have enhanced strength, endurance but due to inferior construction and neuroprocessing, they are a bit slow and cumbersome. Of particular interest to us are two things. Each of the corpses we recovered had special units that contained a transmitter of very high power that kept in constant contact with each other and a central processing core believed to be half a galaxy away.”

“They have long range communication technology very similar to our own holonet.” Nemesis added.

“Yes, Lord. They also had, implanted just under the epidermal layer a series of energy transmitters, the smallest I have seen in use for a living organism that allows them to generate a personal shield of sorts. We have been unable to activate this property and we believe that it is somehow linked with their vessels, with the vessel providing the power to the shields.”

Nemesis nodded for Dolin to continue.

“We have no way of noting the power and strength of this personal shield, save that by extrapolating the power levels of their shields to date in our two encounters, it is likely that a standard Stormtrooper side arm can probably penetrate the shield.”

“I sense some concern regarding that statement.” Nemesis interjected, glancing at Kittaine.

“I have had my tactical crews run extensive analysis of their attacks and there is a danger.” Kittaine stated gravely.

“Go on.”

Kittaine took out his own holotransmitter and activated it. The first battle played back, save that this time there was a host of technical data streaming along the top and bottom of the screen as well as detailed sensor data superimposed on every object on the screen.

“Note, my lord, that when the Adjudicator opens fire for the first time in a standard ripple fire mode, the first cubes hit are instantly destroyed, the power of our turbolaser batteries proved to be too much for theirs shields and hull. Note however the time display above.” The image was enhanced and the playback slowed significantly. The first two cubes hit exploded instantly. The next two exploded as well, but there was a brief time lag and the power level displayed over the cube increased slightly.

Nemesis’ eyes narrowed on this.

The next cube also exploded but it did not do so for a fraction of a second later, and its own power level increased. The last five cubes took tertiary hits, and instead of instantly exploding as the others, great gashes were made in the hull.

“The Borg seem to posses a technology that allows them to adapt to any form of attack, particularly energy weapons. Their cubes increased in defensive capability with each strike of our weapons, so that in the end, the last cubes were struck by light turbolaser batteries and were not destroyed, only damaged. Even in this damaged state they were able to release a powerful attack, in fact we calculate that these cubes can continue to function at almost 100% combat effectiveness with 75% of their vessel damaged severely.”

“They will eventually become dangerous even to this fleet.” Nemesis concluded.

“Correct, my lord. Although they are starting from a significantly lower power and technological level than our own, they will eventually adapt to the point where they will be able to bring us down through sheer numbers.”

“Have we calculated their fleet strength?” Nemesis asked.

“We have a very rough estimate, Lord. Using calibrations made to our sensors we can now see this area that they call subspace. There must be hundreds of those cubes converging on us as we speak and we can only detect Borg signals around us for hundreds of light years.”

“Is this galaxy solely composed of these beings?” Nemesis asked pointedly.

“No, Lord Nemesis. We recovered what we believe to be a computer core or information node from the wreckage of one of the cubes. It has a very detailed database that we have only begun to download, from a isolated computer work station for security purposes, and have been able to deduce that while the Borg control an expansive area of this galaxy, there are several smaller empires along the fringes of their territory. One would be of particular interest to us.” Dorin answered, glancing furtively at Kittaine in annoyance. If anyone was going to curry favor with the new Sith Lord it would be him not the Admiral.

“How so?”

“According to the Borg data, this empire has had the most experience with spatial and temporal anomalies in this galaxy.”

“How much experience do we have?”

Dolin frowned. “Quite frankly, Lord Nemesis, from the amount of incidents catalogued by the Borg alone I would say it is a wonder this galaxy has not fallen apart with the anomalies and wormholes that criss-cross this area.”

“Then it is imperative that we immediately cease any further hostilities with the Borg and make our way to this empire to gain from them the knowledge that we need to return home.” nemesis concluded.

“You mean to retreat from this cybernetic scum, lord?” Dolin stammered.

“Are you questioning me, commander?” Nemesis asked darkly and he stopped floating, slowly settling back to his feet until he stood face to face with Dolin. Despite Dolin’s greater bulk there was something about nemesis that made him seem larger somehow.

“No lord, I am sure that Dolin misunderstood.”

Nemesis glanced over at Kittaine, genuinely surprised that the admiral had come to Dolin’s aid. He hid the surprise however and instead turned his attention back to Dolin.

“What is the name of this empire?”

“The United Federation of Planets.” Dolin replied, trying not to be cowed by this young boy and failing miserably.

“Do we have any navigational information at hand?”

“We are endeavoring to download a usable coordinate system for our hyperdrive calculations. We should have some within the hour.”

Nemesis seemed to be looking somewhere else for a moment, somewhere far away.

“They will attack us before then, be prepared for a major assault, Admiral.” Nemesis snapped at Kittaine then returned his attention to Dolin.

“We are leaving this system as soon as possible. Alert all commands to be prepared to make the jump to hyperspace even if we are engaged in battle. I feel time is slipping away from us while we engage in fruitless combat.”

“Of course Lord, Nemesis.” Kittaine answered coolly.

Nemesis turned from them and began to walk away. Kittaine and Branna also turned to leave, Dolin glared at Nemesis and also began to leave. Nemesis stopped.

“Your thoughts betray you, Dolin.”

“Lord?” Dolin stammered. He suddenly felt his throat become too tight. He started gasping.

“You think that I am a coward at worst or I am still stained with my rebel past.” Nemesis spoke coldly, his back still to the assembled officers. Kittaine held Branna back. He had served long enough in the Imperial Navy to know when a man’s career had come to an end in the service of the emperor’s agents.

“You bloated fool. Can your addled mind even remember what our original mission was?” he hissed and Dolin suddenly lurched off his feet and hung suspended in the air several feet. He clutched desperately at his throat, eyes bulging.

“Admiral Kittaine, what was our mission when we left orbit of Coruscant?” Nemesis asked casually. He remained back turned to them.

“The Emperor charged us with the utter destruction of the Ssi Ruvi. We were also ordered to field test the new weapon system installed on the Emperor’s Will.” Kittaine answered without hesitation. He realized that they were all being tested at this very moment.

“A weapons system of vital importance to the Empire. A new super laser that can be mounted on a new class of Star destroyer. We have been granted the distinct honor and privilege of using it on the Ssi Ruvi homeworld. Instead we find ourselves here, in this forsaken galaxy far from home. It is my intention to carry out the Emperor’s will to the best of my ability. I am a servant and an agent of that same will and you will not question that, do I need to explain myself any further?” His voice was ice.

Dolin was black now, his gasps and struggles slowed as he slowly slumped down, still floating a meter off the ground.

Kittaine shook his head. “No need at all, Lord Nemesis. We are all servants of the New Order.”

“Remember this object lesson well, gentlemen. I am loathe to waste any more of my time or yours with nonsense. Loyalty is expected and demanded and now you know that in this fleet, even your thoughts are under scrutiny. There can only be absolute loyalty to the Emperor.”

He turned finally to face them. His face was stony and his eyes lanced into each of them with a frightful intensity.

“Absolute in thought and action.” There was a loud sick wet snap and Dolin’s body completely slumped, lifeless. The body hovered for a moment then landed with a thud on the metal floor.

“That is all.” he started to wave them away when his eyes fell on his bodyguard.

“Admiral, unless I am mistaken, you will need a new security officer?” Nemesis asked.

“Yes, Lord.” Kittaine answered slowly. His eyes did not move an inch to see the body of his dead officer. He ignored the two stormtroopers who quickly whisked the corpse away.

“She will do quite nicely.” he indicated with an inclination of his head his bodyguard. She hid her surprise well.

Kittaine looked uncomfortable for a moment then cleared his throat.

“If she is to be head of security, might I the know her name?” he asked and looked intently at her. She glanced to Nemesis who nodded.

“Mara Jade.”

“Very well, we have much to do, Lord Nemesis.”

“Yes, Admiral, do go on, and don’t forget, the Borg will attack us again. Get those coordinates.”

“Yes my lord.” Kittaine bowed his head slightly and left with Branna. Nemesis regarded Mara with detached interest.

“Lord Nemesis?” She asked, a little uncomfortable with his sudden attention.

“Don’t just stand there Mara, you have a job to do. Get those coordinates, I want to be in Federation space as soon as possible.”

She bowed slightly and started to walk out. She paused at the open door and looked back. He stood stock still, back to her.

“What if this Federation doesn’t want to share their knowledge?”

“Share, Mara? No, that would require too much time. Talking and debating, no. We will take what we wish.”
She smiled in agreement and walked out.






James T. Kirk was accustomed to mysteries and even a surprise or two, but when circumstances put both his ship and his crew at risk, he was never amused. Just a moment ago, they were orbiting the planet Antara IV, on a routine survey when everyone felt a sudden sense of nausea or vertigo and the planet had disappeared and now they seemed to be floating in deep space. A quick check of the charts indicated that they were only a few light years away from the neutral zone and that could never be a good thing. He leaned forward slightly in his command seat.

“Mr. Sulu, any indication of what happened?”

“There’s just nothing showing up on the helm displays, sir. The warp drive definitely did not engage and the impulse engines are on standby. Whatever happened, we didn’t move.” Sulu answered.

“Chekov?”

“Keptain, readings from the navigational systems indicate a definite change in position relative to where we were just a minute ago. This corresponds with a change in star position.”

“Considering we were orbiting a planet only a second ago, I would say that we have indeed moved, Ensign.” Kirk replied wanly. Chekov blushed in spite of himself. Sulu smiled to himself.

“Captain, the highly volatile state of quantum particles in the immediate vicinity as well as a cascade of theta radiation would seem to indicate some sort of wormhole or spatial anomaly.” Spock reported as he looked up form his sensor hood.

“How did it happen and we didn’t have any warning at all?” Kirk asked curiously.

“Unknown. Most phenomena of this nature don’t have such a short duration and usually announce themselves in some way that our sensors can detect.”

“Do you think it was somehow artificially created?” Kirk pressed.

Spock shrugged.

“If this were possible the power and technological requirements are beyond our science.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve run across something beyond our science.” Kirk replied with a smile.

Spock merely nodded.

“Indeed Captain.”

Kirk shook his head and was about to say something else when the turbo lift doors snapped open and Dr. Leonard McCoy stepped out, face twisted with worry.

“Jim, I’ve got a sickbay full of disoriented crewmen.” He griped and stepped down to stand by Kirk’s chair.

“Bones I have a ship that has jumped several hundred light years in less than a second. In case you were wondering, we’re hovering within spitting distance of the neutral zone and we have no idea what happened to us.” Kirk replied dryly.

“You mean to tell me that our science officer over there hasn’t conjured up the reason yet. Why Spock, I’m disappointed in you.” McCoy said with a grin.

Spock raised an eyebrow.

“Captain.” Kirk and McCoy faced Uhura. She was holding one hand to her ear and with the other she was expertly working her console. “I am picking numerous Starfleet transmissions. But they are encrypted in a manner I’ve never encountered.”

Kirk’s bow furrowed.

“I’ve tried making contact with the local relay station but it won’t allow me access. It keeps telling me that our codes are out of date.”

“Good heavens, Jim, are we out of time – again?!” McCoy exclaimed.

Kirk exchanged a questioning glance with Spock.

“Fascinating.” Spock replied.

“Is that all you have to say?!” McCoy grimaced.

An alarm beeped on Spock’s board and he quickly activated his scanning hood. Jim turned and waited impatiently.

“Captain, I am picking up an incoming starship. Odd. It’s design materials and warp signature are consistent with Starfleet design, but the power consumption curves are several times greater than any starship we have on record or even in the planning stages.”

Kirk rubbed his chin for a moment, staring out at the view screen.

“Let’s play along. Uhura, send the ship a hail. Mr. Sulu, keep the phasers on standby.” He flicked a combutton on his chair’s armrest. “Scotty, I may need emergency warp power at a second’s notice.”

There was a brief sigh on the other end.

“Aye, sair. You will have it.”

Kirk smiled softly and turned his attention back to the screen.

“Mr. Sulu, give me maximum mag on viewer. Show me our mystery ship.”
“Aye, sir.” Sulu replied and adjusted the main viewer. It shimmered for a second and suddenly the ship sprang up to fill a quarter of the screen. Kirk stared dumbfounded.

The resemblance to Starfleet vessels was clear, but this seemed so much…sleeker…elegant than the utilitarian designs he was accustomed to. The organic looking nacelles were swept back like wings and the hull seemed to be designed by an artist more than an engineer. The secondary and primary hulls were blended together. He also did not miss the lettering.

He whirled around to Spock.

“Spock, that ship says that it is the Enterprise?”

“It would seem so, Captain. I believe that the initial assumption that we are out of our time seems to be correct.”

“Spock as far as I know, we’ve only been able to travel to the past.” Kirk noted.

“Our experience with temporal travel is severely limited, captain. If indeed we passed through a spatial anomaly, then it must have also doubled as a temporal one as well.”

“Is it even possible that we’ll be able to interact with the future?” McCoy mused.

“I think we’re going to have to be careful.”

“Captain, I am receiving a hail from the Enterprise.” Uhura felt strange about saying that.

“On screen.”

A man in a gray black jump suit stared back at Kirk.

“Those uniforms look like glorified workout suits.” McCoy whispered to Kirk. Kirk flashed him an annoyed glance then spoke.

“This is Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise, but I suspect you already knew that.” Kirk stated and flashed a boyish grin.

Riker returned the smile. Kirk thought he noted that the captain was gazing at him with an odd expression, almost like he was being admired.

“Captain, you’re quite right. I’m guessing you know who we are by now.”

“You can say that I am just a bit curious.”

“I’d like to beam over and explain the situation.”

“Of course. I’ll meet you in the transporter room…captain?”

“Sorry, Captain Kirk, I am Captain William Riker.”

“Well then Captain Riker, I’ll see you soon.”


In the transporter room Kirk, Spock and McCoy stood waiting. Scotty stood by the transporter controls.

“We are going to have to be careful, lord knows what we are currently doing to the time line.” McCoy cautioned.

“In this instance, I will have to agree with the Doctor. There is no precedence for this kind of interaction between timelines.” Spock added.

“Sair, the Enterprise signals that they are ready.”

“Go ahead, Scotty. Let’s open the door to the future.”

The transporter shimmered with a golden stream of light and Captain Riker and another figure appeared on the transporter pad. Kirk and Spock stared at the newcomer. He was golden skinned and yellow eyes coolly regarded each of them.

“I’ve never seen that species before.” Kirk whispered.

“Captain Kirk, a pleasure and an honor sir.” Riker said grinning and shaking Kirk’s hand. He had a firm grip, Kirk liked that. Riker looked over at Spock. “Mr. Spock.” He said almost as if he could not believe it. Spock nodded. “Doctor McCoy.”

McCoy eyed Riker suspiciously.

“Just why are you looking at us like that?” he asked.

“I’m sorry it’s just that…well…you are living legends- “

Data cleared his throat.

Riker smiled coyly.

“I’m sorry, believe it or not we have rules about polluting timelines and I really should watch what I say.”

“So then it is true.” Kirk replied.

“Captain, is there somewhere we can talk privately?” Riker asked.

Kirk nodded.

“My quarters will do nicely. And your guest?”

“This is Lieutenant commander Data, he will be joining us as well, your command staff is more than welcome, what I have to say is important to them as well.”

Data walked up to them.

“A pleasure to meet you gentlemen.”

McCoy’s eyes narrowed on Data.

“You’re not quite…human are you?”

“No sir, I am not. I am an android.”

“Android?” McCoy smiled mischievously and glanced over at Spock. “Then you two should get along divinely.”

Spock raised an eyebrow and Data blinked and looked over at Riker who was smiling broadly.

“Come on, gentlemen.” Kirk guided them out of the transporter room.

“And so there you have it in a nutshell.” Riker finished.

“The twenty fourth century.” McCoy sighed.

“You act as if this is something you have had to do before.” Kirk noted with interest. Riker shrugged.

“Unfortunately, time travel has become a reality in our world. It started back in your time I might add but it has consistently grown more prevalent.”

“Is this not an indication that there is something amiss with the space time continuum. By all theories of our time, time travel should be extremely rare if not impossible.” Spock added.

“Indeed, Mr. Spock is correct. We have had an upswing in temporal and spatial anomalies in the last hundred years, in fact in the last six months this activity has increased by more than 67%.”

“That is a troubling statistic.” Spock replied.

“Do the both of you get any joy from sucking the fun and adventure out of time travel?” McCoy deadpanned.

“Doctor, does it not trouble you that the space time continuum is in some state of flux?” Data asked innocently.

“Lieutenant Commander Data, if the good doctor even understood the simple basics of temporal and spatial mechanics he might have a rational answer for you, but he unfortunately does not. Instead regaling us with his emotional outbursts as if they were a substitute for rational discourse.” Spock interjected in a calm voice.

McCoy turned to Kirk.

“Jim, I don’t believe it, it’s love at first sight for those two.” McCoy drawled.

Riker tried his best to hide the smile and suppress the laughter, made even more difficult by Data’s look of confusion and Kirk’s martyr expression. He could see why this crew had faced the challenges that lay ahead for them so well. They genuinely cared for each other.

“Temporal and spatial mechanics aside, we have to get you back home before you do something that does hurt the timeline. It has been our experience that it is best if you remain exactly in the vicinity of the suspected anomaly so that it can be used to return you home. We have a science vessel, the Sagan, on its way, escorted by the USS Thunderchild. They will rendezvous with you in the next four hours. Until then sit tight and good luck gentlemen.”

Riker rose from his seat and thanked the assembled officers, having one last drink of the Saurian brandy that Kirk had offered him. He eyed the drink with a smile.

“They don’t make them like this anymore. Sure beats Synthahol.”

“Synthahol?! What kind of future do we have to look forward to?” McCoy asked a little dismayed.

Riker smiled.

“Gentlemen, it’s a future that you helped create, allowing us to go where no one has gone before.” Riker answered. He was saddened to leave this room, the company of these men, but there was no choice. He was sure that he had violated all kinds of temporal regulations but there was no way that they were going to stop him from at least meeting with the men that had helped make the Federation what it was today.

“A pleasure, captain Riker. I’m pleased to see that the future still has the best men at the helm of a starship. Treat her well captain, there are few ships like the Enterprise in any time.” Kirk replied and gave Riker a solid handshake.

“I agree captain.”

“Thanks for stopping by, hope we lived up to your expectations.” McCoy added.

“More than that sir, I assure you.” he answered, shaking McCoy’s hand.

“Live long and prosper.” Spock gave the traditional split hand salute of his people. Riker returned it as best he could.

“Data.”

“Spock I would have liked to explore the problem of the temporal and spatial problems we are currently experiencing with you. I find it difficult to find a mind disciplined enough to understand some of the complexities of the underlying the equations.”

“Oh, I bet you do.” McCoy said wanly.

“Mr. Data, as you can see, the same can be said for myself.”

McCoy frowned and Kirk smiled as he shook hands with the android and escorted them out to the transporter room.




His door chimed. Picard peered over his well worn copy of the Odyssey. Who could it be at this hour?

It chimed again.

Picard put his book down and rose as he said, “come.”

The door slid open and four men filed in. Three were wearing Starfleet security uniforms and one was wearing civilian clothes, a black leather jacket and dark gray pants. He moved silently and his eyes betrayed that he was a dangerous man. Picard knew the sort, you did not spend your entire life in Starfleet and not recognize the predators among the herd right away.

He pegged him for Starfleet intelligence.

“What is the meaning of this?” he asked neutrally.

The civilian smiled easily, holding up his hands.

“Captain Picard, my name is Max Adare. I’m a special consultant and we have need of you.”

“Really? Well I am supposed to appear at a hearing tomorrow before the Federation counsel.”

Adare grimaced as if he had tasted something sour.

“Are they still giving you trouble about Baku? Personally I’m glad you spaced those Son’a bastards. Their actions however have brought much unwanted attention to some activities Starfleet would prefer remain out of the public eye.”

“I’m sure you do. I know your type, Mr. Adare. You like to think that the law and rules don’t apply to you.”

“Quite frankly, they don’t. But where has your slavish devotion to rules and regs brought you, Picard? Sitting in this lonely apartment,” he paused to take a quick glance around. “Rather Spartan, wouldn’t you say? Your starship is out there patrolling the neutral zone and you’re here. You saved an entire world from being decimated by the Son’a and now here you are trying to explain yourself to a group that is just trying to find a way to save themselves from public ire.”

“Get out.”

Adare smiled. It was not so nice anymore.

“Picard, your Federation needs you. You have some unique insights into a problem we have and I’ve been ordered to bring you.”

“Are you threatening me?” Picard asked dangerously, briefly considered running to his phaser in the other room but decided that he wouldn’t make it past the first few steps. The other three had their hands hovering close to their holsters.

“No. Think of it as reasonable discourse. We need you and we will get you. The question is whether you come willingly or whether I have to use this.”

He held up a strange looking weapon. It wasn’t a phaser, the design, form and look of it betrayed its true origins.

“That’s a Romulan weapon.” Picard spat.

“Well, yes. Unfortunately Starfleet doesn’t issue a weapon like the Neural disruptor, essentially it sends an anaphasic charge through your central nervous system. The effect is instantaneous, but rather painful. You are paralyzed for a few hours but fully aware of what’s going on around you.”

“What kind of agent are you?”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Picard. You think I’m Starfleet intelligence, but that’s not quite right. I’m a lot deeper and darker than that. I don’t exist, on any record in any data bank. I’m here to take you down the rabbit hole. We’re going to a place that does not exist, will never exist and cannot exist. But we need you and I do as I’m told.”

Picard suddenly flung the table up at the security guards and raced for his bedroom. He ducked low and the first phaser discharge missed him, striking the far wall. He reached his bedroom and went straight for his personal locker at the foot of his bed. A shadow loomed in the doorway and he whirled around delivering a kick to the security guard’s solar plexus. The guard let out a “whoof!” of exhalation and fell back but Adare was right behind him and he fired.

The green bolt struck Picard in the chest and sent him to the floor screaming, as wispy green tendrils of electricity danced along his body. Picard could suddenly no longer scream as the muscles in his jaws refused to work and he stiffened on the floor, curled up in a tight ball.

Adare motioned to the guards who quickly picked Picard up.

Adare peered down into Picard’s eyes. They were wide open and staring straight ahead.

“I’m sorry to have had to do this captain, but we all have our duties.” Adare stated solemnly then looked back up at the guards.

“Take him to the shuttle and don’t let anyone see you.”

Picard watched it all helplessly as they carried him away and despite his best efforts, he found himself thinking about the Borg, and his assimilation as he watched helplessly while they carved into his flesh. He raged against his condition but no one was listening. No one cared.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 07:59pm
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Chapter 3: By the Numbers



The explosions activated the automatic shading on the view ports as another cube evaporated under a direct volley of the Emperor’s Will. Four cubes skimmed by, firing a wall of green plasma torpedoes that erupted against the massive ship’s shields. A storm of green turbolaser fire filled the top portion of the view port, as three Star Destroyers formed a wedge against the new wave of cubes that arrived firing straight from transwarp space.

“This would be much easier if we had fighter and bomber support.” Branna muttered to himself. He watched four more cubes explode as they dared cross the main forward guns of the flagship.

“I will not order pilots of the empire to expose themselves to being left behind at the mercy of these soulless things. Don’t forget once we have the coordinates we have been ordered to make the jump to light speed, whether we are in the middle of combat or not.” Kittaine reminded the captain. He watched with a growing sense of unease as another wave of cubes arrived. Despite the valiant effort of the Adjudicator, Executor and Inexorable which formed the forward wedge of his fleet formation, too many cubes were squeezing past their veritable wall of turbolaser fire.

“How many cubes is that now?” Branna asked his tactical officer.

“That last wave makes 600, we’ve managed to destroy 1/3 of their fleet so far, with most of the others badly damaged, but they’re starting to strain us. The Adjudicator reports forward screens are buckling, we also have reports from the lighter ships that the Borg weapons have had an increasing damage to them. One Carrack, the Izman, that her shields are failing and engines are damaged. She does not know if she’ll be able to make the jump.” the tactical officer stated the last part with some concern.

“Inform the commander of the Izman, that if they are unable to use their hyperdrive he is to scuttle his ship immediately and get his men to escape pods. Have the Relentless drop back from picket duty to stand overwatch and recover survivors. Tell them they have little to no time. My orders are clear on the matter of jumping.”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you think they’ll make it?” Branna asked.

Kittaine remained quiet and instead watched as the Borg sent in yet another wave. They were coming on without fear of losses or death. They knew that they were outclassed in weapons and defenses but still they came. The sad part was that despite all their advantages and his tactical skills, the weight of numbers may still carry the day. He was slowly beginning to understand Lord Nemesis’ insistence. He had a way of seeing danger before it happened and he obviously saw grave danger to them if they remained here. Unfortunately jumping blind was not a good idea at the moment. They could lose everything if they ran into anything. Even the great Emperor’s Will could be crippled if it bounced too close to a sun or other stellar object.

Mara Jade suddenly appeared. She stalked up to Kittaine and handed him a data pad.

“We extrapolated a hyperspace route into Federation space. It is in an area near one of their militarized borders. Lord Nemesis expressed an interest in capturing one of their warships for interrogation and inspection. There must be a reason why the Borg have not assimilated them. I figured we would find plenty of warships there.” Mara explained, completely ignoring the thermonuclear storm just outside the main view screen.

“Excellent, have navigation enter these into the nav computer and alert all commands, we are jumping as soon as we give the signal.” He handed the data pad to Branna. Branna nodded, paused for a moment and asked in a low voice.

“The Izman?”

“What is the status of her evacuation?” Kittaine asked stoically.

“The Relentless reports that they have only recovered the first wave of escape pods, over 60% of the Izman’s crew is still onboard.”

“How long will it take them?” Branna pressed.

“Admiral.” Mara warned. “Our orders were clear, we are to jump. Now.”

Kittaine stared at her for a long moment. There was silence on the command deck for a few seconds, despite the raging battle.

“Give me the commander of the Izman, set coordinates and transmit to the rest of the fleet.” He ordered stonily.

The image of the commander of the Izman appeared before Kittaine. He looked haggard and behind him they could see men rushing about.

“Admiral.”

“Captain, I have orders to jump now. We cannot wait for you.”

“Admiral, we have a large warp signature approaching, mass and density suggests 1,000 cubes inbound.” the tactical officer reported loudly. The worry in his voice was clear.

There was only a heartbeat’s hesitation. “Understood.” The captain of the Izman replied. He looked about his bridge for a second and then reached beyond the transmitter’s view and touched a few controls. He looked back up into Kittaine’s eyes.

“I have set the reactors to overload in 30 seconds. It was an honor and a pleasure serving with you admiral.” He said and switched off the transmission.
Kittaine nodded to himself.

“Hyperdrive standing by.”

Suddenly the stars ahead of them were blotted out by a sea of green cubes.

“Jump to hyperspace now!”

The cubes positioned themselves to fire but then they vanished into the familiar blue tunnel of cascading light that was hyperspace. Branna noticed several bridge crewmen give audible sighs of relief. He could not agree more.

“Excellent, Admiral. I will inform Lord Nemesis that we are enroute to Federation space.” Mara said and began to leave.

“A good man gave his life for the empire today.” Branna said. She paused. “If Lord Nemesis had given us a few more minutes we would have rescued the crew of the Izman.”

“Ask yourself something, captain. If we had remained behind for even one second longer, how many more ships would we have lost? Remember, all officers and men are expected to die for the greater glory of the empire. In the end, we destroyed over 400 enemy ships in the engagement while only losing 1 light cruiser. I would make that exchange any day.” Mara answered icily and left the bridge.

Kittaine remained silent, despite Branna’s obvious fuming. He knew that in the end, Mara Jade was correct. In the cold language of numbers she was absolutely correct, and in fleet engagements numbers were the overwhelming most important factor. That did not mean that he had to like it. The captain of the Izman had died far from home and that hurt him. He loved his men, he had served with them for years and they had never failed him. He never wanted to fail them.

“Have tactical commands immediately begin sending us status reports on all ships. I want detailed reports before we emerge form hyperspace on our own damage and the Borg’s weapons and defenses. Begin emergency repairs, focusing on our defensive systems first. If these empires have held off the Borg then they may be even more dangerous than those cybernetic monstrosities”

“Yes, admiral.” Branna nodded and went about doing his duty. Kittaine hoped the work would keep his mind off his rage and bitterness. Branna was a competent officer, he would hate to lose him because he thought the wrong thing in Nemesis’ presence.





The Defiant moved silently through the void, cloaking device active, thus making her completely invisible to sight and most sensors. She was a small ship by Starfleet standards but considered the most heavily armed ship in the Alpha Quadrant for her size. Pulsed phaser arrays and quantum torpedo launchers gave her a powerful punch. Ablative armor and the latest in phased array shields gave her a near legendary ability to absorb punishment.

She was currently encased in black ablative armor, adding to her stealth, even with the cloaking device inactive she was difficult to pick up visually in the depths of space. Special baffles were added to her warp nacelles and impulse engines, they scattered the heat and energy signatures of the engines, making them fade into the regular background noise of space. Anything that could help her elude detection was used, since despite her armament, she was no match for a Borg cube.

These thoughts dominated the mind of Captain Jason Archer. He was worried not only about his first real mission but by his passengers. Standing off to his left in the small cramped bridge was a beautiful woman, tall with a long mane of blonde hair. Over her left eye was the only sign of her Borg past, a small metallic couple that he could not surmise what it could be used for. Her full red lips were pursed in thought, as she stared out at the great expanse on the view screen. In the upper left hand corner was a small tactical display showing Borg positions relative to theirs. They were currently threading their way through the gaps in the Borg lines.

Not that the gaps were very large, in some cases nonexistent. The Borg were if anything, efficient. Their cubes were in constant monotonous patrol patterns. The odd part was that if timed correctly, the Defiant could make her way through gaps as cubes passed their extreme sensor range before the next cube came on station. These gaps could last anywhere as long as an hour or as short as 15 seconds. It was easy to time and exploit. The Borg were like clockwork. That did not surprise him.

What did surprise him was Seven of Nine’s reaction to their success so far.

“This is most disturbing. To think that we have penetrated this far into Borg space without detection.” She said in her cold monotone. God she was beautiful. He had to be very careful. He was young and a captain. He could not be seen to be a simple mooning teenager. Besides, he had a lot to live up to. He had the unfortunate coincidence of being related to Jonathan Archer, captain of the first Enterprise and a founding member of Starfleet. This created some very high expectations that he feared he could never meet.

It didn’t help that there was a very senior officer on board as well. Captain Katherine Janeway was standing at the science station, what little there was on what was essentially a warship. She should have been in command but Starfleet assigned her as a special consultant for some odd reason. She seemed to have almost as much knowledge about the Borg as Seven of Nine did. She was the only Starfleet captain to actually have negotiated a treaty with the Borg and she had defeated the Borg Queen, destroying a vital transwarp hub that had crippled Borg traffic for an unknown amount of time. Many thought that she had saved the Federation and rumor had it that she had also brought back some very advanced technology.

She had not contradicted him in any way, she tended to keep to herself, but he knew that if things got hairy and she wanted to take command there was little he could do. After all this was the Katherine Janeway that had led her ship through the Delta Quadrant without any support or even hope of getting home anytime in their lifetimes. She had beaten the odds and was a hero back home. Who the hell was Jason Archer?

He sighed to himself. It did not help that it seemed that Seven of Nine and Janeway were not getting along. He had noticed it at their first meeting before they got underway. Seven of Nine refused to look at her and Janeway had clumsily tried to reach out several times only to be spurned. Archer had his guesses as to why but kept it to himself.

“Don’t be so negative, Seven. We’re 15 light years in Borg space, I believe that this is some kind of record.”

Janeway smiled to herself while analyzing the real time data coming in from the passive scanners.

“Well, excluding Voyager of course.” He quickly corrected himself.

“Don’t be too sure of yourself, Captain Archer. The Borg will eventually find us, particularly if you intend to probe deeper into their space. I do not see the point. The disturbance is too far into their space to safely investigate.” Seven replied coolly.

“Well, so far so good. According to our last readings the sudden surge in transwarp activity has finally ceased. Maybe they got what they were looking for and we just take a quick scanner snapshot and head home.”

“I do not share your optimistic appraisal of this mission.” Seven answered.

“Then why did you come.” Janeway walked softly from her post. Seven did not look at her, instead she started to walk off the bridge.

“I will be in the mess hall if anything should occur.” She stated grimly and left. Janeway seemed to be debating with herself and suddenly followed her out. Archer slumped into his seat. Things could get worse, he had to think happy thoughts.

“Seven.” Janeway called after her as she followed her into the tiny mess hall. Seven was pouring herself some coffee, the replicators had been powered down to cut down on their energy signature. Even the perimeter lighting had been dimmed. Starfleet was taking no chances with the Borg. Whatever had stirred up that hornet’s nest, they did not want one of their starships getting caught in it.

Janeway stood in the entrance staring at the woman she thought was a friend.

Seven paused, staring into her mug and finally looked up.

“I thought I made it clear that I did not want to have any contact with you. If I had known you were going to be on this mission I would have turned Starfleet down.”

“Seven, what’s happened to us? You were a valued member of my crew, someone I could rely on..” Janeway paused and her voice dropped slightly. “and a friend.”

Seven glared at her.

“Friend? I may not be as experienced as you in the matters that make us human, but friends do not do what you did.”

“He made his decision. I wasn’t going to stop him.”

“He loved me.” She whispered and Janeway could tell that the words had hurt her, as if she had pulled an arrow from her flesh.

“Seven, if he loved you, he would have stayed.”

“How dare you!” Seven exploded. A crewman was walking in at that point. He stopped, turned on his heel and walked away.

Janeway shook her head and took a few hesitant steps towards seven. The ex Borg drone could probably kill her with her bare hands if she wanted to, but Janeway could not turn her back on this. This had been festering for months.

“Seven, Chakotay knew what he was risking when he left. He never forgave Starfleet for what happened to the Maquis in the Dominion war. He felt violated and betrayed and he was not in a good place emotionally. He left before he did something he would regret.”

Seven breathed hard, staring at Janeway with unbound fury. This woman who had brought her back from the Collective and gave her back her humanity. Yet she could not help her with the emotions she had been suffering with since Chakotay left.

“He did not even say goodbye.” She whispered.

Janeway frowned.

“Seven, he didn’t say goodbye to anyone. He said he had to go on a Vision quest, he had to find himself again. Lord knows where he is now. I tried tracking him several times but he disappeared into the Badlands.” Janeway slowly reached out to the young woman she had embraced like a daughter and touched her shoulder.

“I am so sorry this happened. But that was no reason to leave Starfleet. No reason to punish the rest of us. Harry has taken it very hard. Tom and B’elanna wanted you to be the child’s godmother but you severed yourself from us. After all we had been through.”

Seven looked up at Janeway, tears welling in her eyes, but her face was set like stone.

“You could have done something. You could have stopped him. You could have asked him to take me, I would have gone anywhere with him. I had nothing back on Earth. My family was dead, I was alone and everyone looks at me like I am some sort of freak.”

“Seven.” Janeway whispered, her face betraying the agony she felt, knowing that her friend had been in this much pain all this time. Damn Chakotay, she was right, he should have taken her with him. He had failed to see how deeply she felt for him. He was, after all her first true love, and all first loves are forever.

“Seven, I am truly sorry. But please, let me in. Let me sit here with you, let me talk to you, like we used to do. Debate me, you were the one who said I should not have given Starfleet the schematics for the new weapons. You warned me about sharing too much of the transwarp technology. Tell me again why, remind me in that simple yet compelling Borg logic of yours.” Janeway pulled out a chair.

“Please?”

Seven stared at Janeway for a long moment. She stared into the woman’s eyes and she saw so much reflected there. She saw the pain, the pain she had felt tearing her apart inside reflected in those eyes. She remembered a determined captain telling her that she would teach her what it was to be human.

“Sometimes being human is about pain. You told me that once.” She whispered, her voice thick with emotion.

Janeway nodded as she guided Seven into the chair. She sat in an opposite chair and rested her head on her hands, looking right into Seven’s eyes and she smiled softly.

“And sometimes it means sharing pain as well.”

Seven blinked several times then nodded, her tears gone, her jaw set and she spoke louder and more emphatically.

“You will regret tampering with the timelines by giving the Federation this technology.” She began. Janeway smiled and sat back.

“Do go on.”





Picard groaned loudly, it was his first realization that the neural disruptor had worn off. He slowly raised his head and blinked his eyes. It had bothered him nearly to the point of madness how dry his eyes had become from being forced open for hours. He did not know where he was save that it was dark and quiet. He assumed he was still in the shuttle’s hold.

Slowly he unfurled from his curled up position and groaned again as his muscles protested their abuse by his rigid position for the last few hours. He did a few stretching exercises and tried to surmise where he was. He had not heard a single sound since being placed in here by the security guards. No one had come to speak to him or gloat or interrogate. It was all rather odd.

The door he did not know existed slid open and the lights to his chamber simultaneously lit up. He was in a small cell, one metal bed and a wash area. A single clean mirror hung on the unadorned wall. Two security officers walked in followed by Adare.

Adare smiled at Picard and one of the security guards calmly placed a Starfleet uniform on the bed.

“Put that on. You have a meeting with someone anxious to meet you.” Adare ordered and turned to walk away.

“Where am I, Adare?”

Adare looked over his shoulder and smiled.

“The rabbit hole. Or Never Never land. Whichever you prefer. I’m giving you precisely 5 minutes to get dressed and cleaned up. The man’s time is not to be wasted, particularly when the Federation is in trouble.”

“You still expect me to believe that nonsense?” Picard replied hotly.

“No, Picard, I expect you to be dressed in 5 minutes.” Adare replied and walked out.

Picard reluctantly dressed, finished well before his 5 minute deadline and waited. Adare stood at the entrance and motioned Picard to follow. Picard left his cell and was immediately flanked by two security guards. Adare led them through winding sterile corridors. They looked like the corridors of any Federation facility or starship. He was still clueless about where he might be.

Adare led them into a turbolift which they stood in for a long moment. It seemed to be the same amount of time he stood in the enterprise’s turbolift when he traveled from main engineering to the bridge. At the very least he was in a ship or facility that had multiple levels. When he stepped off the turbolift he quickly decided that they were on a facility, he simply could not hear the usual soft hum of the warp core running through the deck plates.

Adare nodded to a secretary sitting at a desk outside of a large office.

“Carla, is the man available?” she asked.

“Yes, Mr. Adare. He has been waiting.”

“Good, let’s not keep him waiting.” Adare stated and motioned for Picard to follow. The door opened and he turned to the two guards.

“Don’t worry boys, if he and I can’t handle Captain Picard then we don’t deserve to be where we are.” Adare said with a wry grin aimed at Picard. The guards nodded and each stood on the opposite sides of the doors. “You gotta love ‘em. They weren’t hired for their conversational skills.” Adare added and slapped Picard on the shoulder, leading him into the office.

Picard quickly examined his surroundings. It was a standard admiral’s office, large and spacious, there were sparse decorations, a Starfleet academy diploma but absolutely no medals or citations. There was a hologram of a beautiful young red haired woman sitting on the desk. The desk itself was covered by neat piles of data pads and a scaled model of a class of starship he had never seen before. It had four warp nacelles and was built like some sort of floating fortress.

The man behind the desk was middle aged and slim. His sharp eyes certainly never missed much but he had an easy smile. His uniform indicated a rank of captain.

“Captain Picard! It is a distinct pleasure to meet you.” The young man exclaimed and stood up, offering his hand. Picard shook it reluctantly. The fact that the young man had pronounced his name Pickerd did not win him any points in Picard’s eyes.

“Please have a seat.” He magnanimously waved Picard over to one of two seats opposite his desk. Adare quietly took his place, standing behind Picard. “I’m Captain Mark Durant.”

“I’ve never heard of you. According to that diploma back there you graduated the academy only 20 years ago, so what ships have you commanded?” Picard asked pointedly.

“I like him. He’s straight to the point, no nonsense.” Durant replied, looking over Picard to Adare.

Adare shrugged.

“Captain Picard, I have commanded ships for the last ten years, I’ve been in charge of this institution for the last 8.”

“I find this all hard to believe.” His eyes suddenly caught sight of a starship docked close by. There was a large picture window behind Durant, it revealed a massive shipyard where dozens of starships were in various states of repair or construction. The vessel docked closest to them was a replica of the desktop model Durant sported.

“I’ve never seen that starship before.”

Durant smiled proudly.

“That is the USS Bunker Hill, she is my flagship and first of the new Federation Class Dreadnoughts.”

“There’s no such ship.”

Durant nodded.

“On that point, you are quite correct. This ship and her sister ship under construction in yard 12 do not exist and never will exist just as that ship,” he turned and pointed to a starship that was slowly leaving the crowded shipyard passed by their window. It strongly resembled one of the Akira class starships, save that there were three huge torpedo banks along a roll bar above the primary hull, and the usually saucer shaped primary hull was more arrow headed shaped like the Intrepid class. “The USS Wasp, a long range torpedo ship, doesn’t exist.”

“I’m at a loss.” Picard admitted.

“Picard, this shipyard doesn’t exist, most of the ships in this shipyard don’t exist. We are a fleet that works and builds in the shadows. We have no existence on paper or any databank. Our oversight is done by a secret troika of admirals in Starfleet, most of who don’t know who the other is.”

“How is this possible? Where do you get the materials? Where do you get the funding?”

“There are advantages to living in a money less society, my friend.” He replied and paced back and forth, hands clasped behind his back. “But seriously there are secret back channels and we have our hands in just about every Starfleet project, we siphon a little here, a little there. The materials are also easy to explain. Starfleet always tries to keep reserve hulls and equipment in storage in case of emergency.” He smiled grimly and opened his arms to point to the window beyond. “We are that emergency. Didn’t you always wonder where Starfleet put all of that equipment, where were those extra Galaxy class hulls put in storage? They are right here. Put to good use, defending the Federation.”

“This is a shadow Starfleet and you expect me to be happy about it? This is a crime, this is treason, and it goes against every ideal that the Federation stands for.” Picard protested bitterly. The magnitude of this place was slowly sinking in.

“Picard, the Federation has wonderful ideals, but they are just not practical when it comes to defense. Democracies have always been ripe for conquest, never willing to do what it takes to defend itself from the nasty things out there. We exist to act as a security blanket, a sword and shield that strike where no one is looking and allows our precious Federation to continue on living the way it has, enjoying the freedoms it espouses and never once having to question why the enemy is at the gate. We keep the barbarian horde at bay.”

“You fight secret wars then?” Picard accused.

“Let us say that the Romulan healthy respect for Federation firepower was won by this fleet over the span of many decades. The Gorn? They haven’t bothered us in over 75 years because they lost very badly to us in a battle that can never be reported with heroes that will never have histories written about them. The Tholians? Those bastards haven’t so much as spun a strand in our space in 20 years thanks to a particularly successful mission. Think of us as the Federation’s avenging angel”

“This is an abomination!” Picard exclaimed.

“Easy captain, no one here is your enemy. We are all Federation citizens, some love her despite her flaws.” Adare interjected and placed a restraining hand on Picard’s shoulder.

“Well some of us love her and see the so called flaws for what they are.” He shoved Adare’s hand away. “Her strengths. I did not spend my entire career exploring strange new worlds, discovering new life and civilizations so that you war mongers could spend yours staining the stars with the blood of others. The Federation is nothing more than the Romulans with better attire, the Klingons with better manners if this shadow fleet is what you think is necessary.”

“Captain Picard.”

“No, Captain Durant, you will listen to me, I’ve heard the complaints, and I’m not blind. Many in Starfleet think that the Federation compromises her security because she is as open as she is, because we believe in the person over the collective, because for us there is no more valuable word than freedom. We just came out of the bloodiest war in Federation history because we realized that peace was another word for surrender, so don’t sit there and tell me that we are weak. We have a strength, it is in our individuality and freedom that you find so weak and flawed. I am disgusted and insulted by this place.”

Durant nodded slowly, he was obviously not expecting such a strong answer.

“Captain, I knew you would not be thrilled, but please listen to me. The shadow fleet is just one aspect of an entire organization that has been in place since the formation of the charter. We have been protecting the Federation nearly as long as Starfleet has. When Starfleet launched her first starship, we were building our first warship to protect while you explored. I don’t think the Federation is flawed. Perhaps I misspoke, but this organization allows us to protect her without worrying about public backlash or political interference. Let’s face it Picard, if it had been one of our missions at Baku, the Son’a would be just as dead, the converter destroyed and you would still be at the helm of a starship instead of answering the questions of some politicians who haven’t been where you and I have been.”

“That is a dangerous assumption to make Captain. Political oversight makes sure that Starfleet does not become what the Klingon Defense Force and the Romulan Navy is, a strong arm against its own people.”

“Mark, let’s just cut to the chase.” Adare suggested.

“I so wanted you to understand me, Picard. Wanted you to think of joining us. We could create a convincing cover story you know.” Durant was sincere. He truly was reaching out to Picard.

“That’s actually my department.” Adare added.

Picard glanced back at him suspiciously. Adare smiled.

“I’m with the other guys.”

“You’re Section 31.” Picard accused.

“Never heard of them, and if I was I would have to kill you.”
Picard smirked.

“I have heard the rumors out of DS9, but I never really believed.” Picard shook his head.

“Then don’t. Quite frankly it’s all a nice big brotherhood. The Shadow fleet gives us the ships we need, or ferries us where we have to go and we do what must be done, and Picard, before you think that this is bad, I’d like to tell you, there are darker organizations out there.”

Picard frowned heavily, jaw set.

“Enough, Picard, I want to give you a small tour then we can talk about what needs to be done. It is in regard to the Borg. Starfleet has its own mission out there but we have some more relevant information. You would be extremely helpful to us.”

Picard suddenly smiled.

“You’re not fooling me.”

“Oh?”

“I just realized something very damning about this show of yours. I’ve counted over 20 starships out there, with signs of more around this facility, yet where are you getting your crews? How do you man so many starships? Starfleet would eventually notice a manpower shortage of Starfleet Academy graduates.”

Durant nodded.

“You are quick on the uptake. Your answer will be leading the tour.”

The door behind him hissed open and someone stepped in. Picard turned and his eyes widened.

“Data?!”

Data stood in the doorway, wearing an all black jumpsuit, it resembled a Starfleet uniform, but it had a harsher edge to it, more militaristic and intimidating. He cocked his head in that strange way Data used to do when he first came on board the Enterprise.

“R-7 Reporting for duty as ordered, Captain Durant.” He said in Data’s voice.

Durant nodded to Picard as he looked back at him in surprise and confusion.

“Not quite, captain Picard. Not quite.”




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:00pm
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Chapter 4: Shadow Play

All he could hear was the wind. It was always the wind, and the long gaping abyss below. He leapt. He always leapt. He always fell, tumbling through the darkness.

Why did he always fall?

YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR WHAT HE SAID.

The voice was his. He fell further, accelerating to some unseen bottom. He usually saw nothing save the darkness, but sometimes, when he least expected it, he saw his face, his teacher, his mentor.

“Lord Nemesis?”

He stopped falling and found himself kneeling, low and there were a pale of sickly yellow eyes looking on him like a predator.

“Lord Nemesis?”

He looked up. The yellow eyes flashed and a smile appeared beneath them under the dark hood.

“Rise then, my young apprentice, rise Lord Darth Nemesis and bask in the shadow of the Dark Side.” The emperor spoke in that soft whisper of his.

“Lord Nemesis, are you alright?”

There was something else. A sound, the deep bass rumble of a respirator. He wanted to turn around, to look and see. Always the breathing, always the cold monotone. He wanted to look upon him with his Sith eyes and see the truth.

Lord Nemesis awoke.

Mara Jade was leaning in close, her face wrinkled in worry. His hand flashed to her throat and held it. Mara’s eyes widened but she did nothing else. She instinctively knew that if she said a word, struggled in anyway he would snap her neck with ease. Instead she controlled her breathing and her fear as she was taught and stared into his eyes, silent.

Nemesis stared at her, fighting the panic in his heart, the fear was quickly replaced with anger. He squeezed and she gasped but remained still.

“Have you come to kill me?” He asked softly.

Mara shook her head very slowly, fighting against the unyielding hand at her throat.

“Why are you here?” he asked.

She tried to speak but only strangled gasps came out. Nemesis slowly eased his grip on her throat and the rage within him slowly subsided. He held on to part of it, fanning it and feeling the cold grip at his heart. He would need the rage. It made him powerful.

“I’ve come to tell you that we are only an hour from Federation space. Our long range sensors have detected three ships close to our hyperspace emergence point. They match the Borg description of Federation vessels.” She reported evenly, not betraying a whit of her anger and fear.

“What is the Admiral’s threat assessment of these ships? Are they superior to the Borg vessels we’ve encountered?” he asked and completely released her from his grip. He slowly rose from his meditation chamber and wrapped his cape around his shoulder as he walked away from it.

Mara followed, watching him closely. He had been sleeping, not meditating and unless she was completely mistaken it looked like he was having a nightmare.

“Actually, they are far inferior. Their power generation seems to be less than 10% of a Borg cube, and that is combined. Weapons are hard to tell at this range.”

“We should not assume too much. Arrogance is a flaw, one that endemic of our empire.”

“There’s every reason to be arrogant when you are the premier power in the galaxy.” Mara replied.

Nemesis smiled softly.

“Indeed. Well, tell the Admiral that I want one of those ships captured, their crew brought onboard and interrogated. I want to know all that there is to know about this United Federation of Planets. I want any information on wormholes and these so called spatial anomalies.”

“Understood, my Lord.” She replied.

He removed his cape and loosened his tunic, taking his lightsaber and walking towards the back of his quarters. She knew that his workout room was built in behind the meditation chamber. He did not say another word as the doors hissed open and he entered. She followed.

She watched as he stood in a calm pose for a moment.

“If you are going to watch, you can at least make yourself useful.” He stated and indicated the table on the far side of the room. She nodded and moved over to it. He watched her, her muscles moved, taut under her skin.

She was beautiful.

She stopped at the table and saw four remotes sitting on the table top.

“How many do you want to train with today?” she asked, turning her head to face him. Some of her hair fell in her eyes and he took a breath, pushing the thoughts away.

“All of them.”

She smirked.

“Showing off?”

“Just turn them on.” He replied.

She shrugged and activated the remotes. The cold black orbs leapt away and buzzed towards Nemesis like a pack of wolves. Nemesis’ lightsaber activated with a snap hiss and the ruby blade was up in the high guard position between the blinks of an eye. The orbs paused just out of his reach and they slowly fanned out around him, encircling him.

She watched his foot play, as he expertly positioned himself with the blade at chest level, his eyes weren’t really watching the remotes.

They fired. Four needle like beams flashed at him and he whirled round, flashing his blade across and deflecting each bolt with ease. He flipped over one of the remotes and as he passed overhead he slapped it with his lightsaber, the crimson blade neatly bisecting it.

He landed and turned at his waist, bringing his saber around and blocked the next three bolts. The saber made a quick vroom sound as he back flipped gracefully, the green needle bolts chopping up on the floor one second behind him. She watched him in motion and was awed by his raw speed and agility. She had seen Vader in action a few times and he was powerful and unstoppable. This was different. There was a grace and speed that she had never seen before.

He stopped, flicking his wrist out, the blade hummed loudly as it flashed out of his grip and took out one of the remotes in mid-flight. The blade swung back towards him but he was already in motion again, racing beneath the two remotes which stopped and spun on their axis as they tracked him, their green bolts missing him by a hairsbreadth. One suddenly zoomed out ahead of him in an effort to cut him off.

It had forgotten about the lightsaber. It sliced right through the remote and Nemesis leapt up into the air, catching his lightsaber and as he flipped in a tight ball his lightsaber blade out at an angle caught another volley of shots.

He landed and stood in the classic guard position.

He was not breathing hard. Her eyes narrowed on him. There was something on his face she had not seen before. Joy.

The last remote ducked in fast, almost a blur of motion and fired off a series of shots low then high in quick succession so it looked like a wall of laser shots. Nemesis’ smile broadened and his crimson blade flashed into a wall of light, the bolts all bounced away save one. The last one he casually flicked away form him and it struck the remote, bringing it down at his feet with a crash.

She clapped.

He seemed to notice her again at the sound. He smiled, some sweat beading on his forehead but no other sign of exertion.

“That is what we Sith call a warm up.” He said and there was a hint of the boy that he most obviously still was in his voice. Mara cocked up an eyebrow at the remark.

“Oh?”

Nemesis touched a control at his wrist and eight remotes hissed out from behind Mara. They floated hungrily around Nemesis.

“You have got to be kidding.”

“I recommend you leave, and see to the capture of the Federation ships. I want prisoners and I want them alive.”

“Of course.” She replied and started to walk out, paused by his side and eyed his saber. She ignored the heat coming off of him.

“Your saber, that’s an odd design, it doesn’t look like your old saber, or Lord Vader’s.” she commented and looked up into his eyes. He returned the gaze steadily for a moment.

“It is my own design, but an homage to an old friend.”

“Oh?” she replied curiously.
His face softened for a moment as his memories crept into his mind like timid children. He almost smiled. But then there was the betrayal and his smile turned into a sneer.

“Call it a reminder of how the light side is pitiful, weak and lies.” He added darkly. He brought the saber up to his face at a classic en garde position and Mara felt the chill settle over her as he closed up.

“See to the capture personally Mara. Consider it your first test.” He ordered.

“Of course, my lord.” She bowed slightly and left the room, wondering what memories she had dredged up.





James T. Kirk, Leonard McCoy and Spock sat around the conference room table. Each one seemed relaxed as they spoke, a bottle of Saurian brandy sitting on the table, Kirk and McCoy obviously enjoying a small drink at the end of their shifts.

“So let me get this straight. This science ship is going to find the anomaly and then we go through it and return to our time?” McCoy asked incredulously.

“That is the offer from the Captain of the Sagan. He states that this can be accomplished easily, the Sagan has the most experience with temporal and spatial anomalies out of any science vessel in the Federation, although he did note that we were a special exception.” Spock replied.

“Oh?” McCoy pressed.

“It seems, Bones, that we are something of a legend in the time travel department. In fact he confided in me that there is a special division and file regarding the Enterprise.” Kirk added with a mischievous grin.

“You have got to be kidding. By the way,” he dropped his voice to a secretive whisper. “Did you get any tips about the future, maybe some stock options, hmmm?”

“Odd that. The captain of the Sagan was very clear that money was no longer in use. Seems that the Federation credit is the only thing out there and the market’s just gone.”

“Now THAT is an odd step. All I know is, Starfleet better honor our pensions.” McCoy griped.

“Well, we do the one thing I don’t like to do.” Kirk frowned. “Sit and wait.”

“I for one, PREFER the sitting and waiting.” McCoy interjected. “Less of a mess and maybe, just once, we can have a normal mission. I mean honestly, what could possibly happen waiting around?” McCoy replied with a satisfied grin and poured himself another glass of Saurian brandy. Spock eyed him critically. McCoy held the glass out to Spock for a moment.

“It’s medicinal.” He answered Spock’s unspoken question. Spock’s eyebrow arched.

The communicator beeped.

Kirk flipped it on.

“Kirk here.”

“Captain, we have a strange reading on our sensors, it looks like some odd spatial distortion relatively close by – “ there was a pause. “Sir, the Thunderchild just went to battle stations and they want us to follow suit.”

“Go to Battle stations! We’re right on our way up.” Kirk snapped and slapped off the communicator. He got up quickly nodding to Spock who followed. McCoy shook his head sadly.

“Can we have just one damned mission without-“ The red alert klaxons went off and the small red panels flashed above the doors to the conference room as Kirk and Spock raced out. “that god awful racket!” he shouted to no one in particular. He slapped the communicator on.

“Nurse Chapel, have sickbay prepped for possible casualties, I’m on my way.” McCoy ordered and suddenly seemed more grim and determined as he walked out of the conference room, hoping that his skills would not be called upon.

On the bridge, Kirk walked in followed by Spock who took his post as Kirk slipped into his command chair.

“Status?”

“Thunderchild has just accelerated to full impulse. The Sagan is hanging back, their using their sensors to find what triggered their defenses.” Sulu replied.

“Captain, I’m receiving a hail from the Thunderchild.”

“Put it through Lieutenant.”

Spock was busy adjusting his sensor hood, searching for the unknown danger.

Captain Armando Ochoa appeared on the screen.

“Captain Kirk, we have one contact inbound on an intercept course, they look big and well armed. We’re going to try and verify their intentions. Hang back and protect the Sagan. We may need to run.”

“Captain, if the ship is approaching on an intercept course under strict sensor and radio silence I think that their intentions are fairly clear.” Kirk replied and kicked himself. He did not want to question a fellow officer, especially one he did not know.

Ochoa hesitated for a moment. His boyhood idol had just told him something he had not considered. But pride pricked him and he smiled casually.

“Don’t worry captain, the Thunderchild saw plenty of action recently, we’re up to it.” He replied. “Ochoa out.”

Kirk frowned. He had seen that look before, the right mix of smugness and recklessness. He had been accused of that before himself.

“Sulu keep us within 5,000 kilometers of the Sagan, arm the torpedoes and charge the phasers.”

“Aye sir.”

Kirk hoped that Ochoa knew what he was doing.

“Captain, I’m getting another distortion in space. Opening up right between us and the Thunderchild.” Spock warned.

“Evasive, Mr. Sulu!”

The screen flashed for a moment and a ship seemed to explode into view. Kirk froze for a moment as he saw the kilometer long vessel. The design was completely unfamiliar. Its arrow shape and obviously armored hull made her look dangerous and predatory.

“Sir, I’m picking up a transmission on a frequency we’ve never used before.”

“On speakers.”

“In the Name of the Emperor, cut your engines and prepare to be boarded.”

Kirk slowly turned to Spock.

“Captain, the vessel is sporting armament the like of which we have never encountered before.” Spock looked up at Kirk. “We are no match for this vessel.”

“That makes up my mind, inform the Sagan to follow our lead.” Kirk replied and turned to Sulu.

“Mr. Sulu, we run.”

“Aye sir.”

“Captain, the Thunderchild is attacking.”

“Oh no! What is he doing?” Kirk exclaimed.






Picard walked alongside the android that was introduced as R-7 but was obviously an exact replica of Data. He kept eying him in disbelief and wonder. They were left alone together, but that was no surprise, if R-7 wanted to he could tear Picard apart with his bare hands.

They walked through a long corridor that connected one area of the base with another. The corridor was clear, allowing anyone to look out and observe the shipyard. It was an enormous affair, rivaling the great shipyards of Utopia Planetia. Dozens of starships were gathered, most were undergoing some major refit.

“We are now moving into the D Section of the Control center. This is the disembarkation for starships and armory section. I will caution you to be careful as live ordinance is constantly being transported through this area to be loaded onto starships.”

“R-7, why are all your ships being refitted?” Picard asked.

“We have recently received new weapons, propulsion and defensive system upgrades that Captain Durant has ordered to be installed in all our warships as soon as possible.”

“New upgrades?”

R-7 paused.

“Captain Catherine Janeway of the USS Voyager returned from the Delta quadrant with new technology. This fleet procured those plans from Starfleet command and have incorporated these designs into the fleet.”

“Are you aware that your actions could pollute the timeline?”

“We have made the proper calculations and it is doubtful that this could occur, besides, Captain Durant is adamant that these new advancements gives the fleet an edge we have never had before.”

Picard watched R-7 closely, but there was no sign of emotion at all. This was Data, at the time of the Farpoint Encounter, not having grown at all. What did this all mean?

“How did they come about another Soong type android, R-7? I was led to believe that Commander Data and Lore were the only ones out there.”

R-7 nodded as they passed through the corridor and entered the new section. Picard stopped as he took in the new sight. They were standing on an upper level that was railed off. A small workbee tug was floating ahead of them over a large assembly area below. He slowly peered over the edge and saw quantum torpedoes neatly stacked below in piles, the workbees were gently taking then into another area. Phaser coils were being lined up and carried off as well. He noted several shield generators being inspected by technicians in dark blue overalls.

There was a clockwork feeling to it all, an organized chaos down below of workbees, technicians, and automated loading systems that were filling small barges with ordinance and equipment. This was impressive and scary at the same time.

“The plans and schematics for the Soong type androids were procured by this fleet at the time of Data’s admission to Starfleet academy. It took a few years but we were able to find a way of mass producing the current production line.” R-7 answered as he motioned for Picard to follow him to another area.

Picard did a double take.

“Did you say mass produce?” Picard asked in shock.

“Right this way, Captain. It will all be clear to you in the troop disembarkation section. Please be careful, it is a rather long drop.” R-7 added thoughtfully. Picard followed him, uncertain that he actually wanted to know what R-7 was about to show him.

“This is the troop disembarkation area. Here mass transporters beam our crews over to their ships.” R-7 explained. Picard stepped into another massive chamber and below there were huge transporter pads, the size of the Enterprise’s cargo bay each, and men were marching on them in neat rows, too neat. No human could march that tightly and with perfect coordination. As he looked closer he saw that they all looked the same. They all looked like Data.

There must have been hundreds milling around down below him.

“This is unbelievable. How did you overcome the positronic brain problem?” Picard breathed, horrified at what he was looking at. This was the realization of a nightmare, one that he had argued vigorously against during Data’s trial to establish his rights as a sentient being.

“Simple actually, captain, there was no need for a positronic network as complicated as Data’s. We needed androids to run starships and fight battles, we did not need science officers or androids that wanted to be human. We are machines in service of the Federation.”

“You say that with absolutely no hesitation.” Picard replied in disappointment.

“I am what I am, Captain.” R-7 replied without an inflection in his voice, as if he had said that space is black.

“This is more monstrous than I ever imagined.” Picard hissed.

“Before the Soong type we used androids successfully thanks to James Kirk.” R-7 continued as he led him to a turbolift that took them down to the disembarkation area.

“Kirk?”

“One of his missions led him to a world run by androids, androids under the supposed control of a one time felon called Harry Mudd.”

Picard nodded slowly, hazily remembering the mission from his reading.

“Those androids were deactivated by Kirk’s clever use of logic problems, but our fleet went in and took some of the androids for further study, and began mass producing them for use of our warships. Before the android solution we were forced to field a much smaller fleet due to man power limitations which you readily noted in Captain Durant’s office. We have a limitation on the amount of graduates we can, disappear with or appropriate. We experimented with automation but it simply was not feasible, automated starships did not fight nearly as well as human run ships, plus we had the fear that we may have another M-5 situation on our hands.”

“M-5?”

“Yes, the supercomputer installed on the Enterprise many years ago. It malfunctioned and killed the crew of the Excalibur and damaged two other starships. The M-5 project run by Richard Daystrom was partially funded by our fleet in the hopes of installing them in our warships. Ever since the incident we have looked for other options.”

“And you find this a viable alternative?” Picard asked as they walked out of the turbolift and traveled down the disembarkation area. Picard felt as if he were in a dream as he walked by hundreds of Datas all waiting patiently for their turn. A human in blue overalls was standing by the transporter controls of one of the mass transporters.

“All crewmen for the Indomitable, please prepare for transport!” he shouted. Lines of Datas suddenly moved as one and marched to the pad. They were eerily silent. He noted that some carried the latest Federation assault phasers. Others were in engineering gear.

“This is madness.” he muttered.

“The androids from Mudd’s planet served us well for nearly a century. The fleet expanded to nearly three times its size and we won major victories against the Gorn, Tholian and Romulans, as well as some other races you never encountered. However, their processing skills were simple. When the Soong type arrived command felt that an upgrade was necessary.”

“What did you do with the other androids?” Picard asked.

“They were relegated to guard duty and construction. They are the ones building the warships that we now crew.”

“Any humans on these ships? Are they sharing the risk when you go into battle?”

“Yes each starship has a human captain as well as several other key posts.” R-7 answered without a hint of any dissatisfaction. Picard frowned as they seemed to be walking forever to cross this disembarkation area.

“What I find interesting is that while your fleet claims to want to protect the Federation I did not hear of it fighting in the Dominion War. Where were you when all looked lost?”

“We were fighting the Gorn and the Tholians. What Starfleet did not know and Section 31 discovered was that the Dominion had actually formed a pact with the Gorn and Tholians to attack Starfleet simultaneously with them. We barely got the fleet out to the main staging area in time. We destroyed the Gorn/Tholian invasion fleets while the Dominion War raged back home. If they had attacked you, the Federation would have lost the war as it almost did simply facing the Dominion. And there was also the Battle of Cardasia. No one ever thought to ask why it was so easy for Sisko’s fleet to fight all the way to Cardasia when you considered the overwhelming advantage in numbers the Dominion had. We kept six Dominion fleets occupied while Sisko made his run to Cardasia and secured his victory. In my estimation we played a significant part in the war, but you just do not understand our main objective, we defend the Federation in secret, if Starfleet were to discover us, then this fleet would be shut down or put under civilian oversight. That cannot be allowed.”

Picard paused as they finally reached a large vault like door. He turned and looked back, seeing hundreds if not thousands of Datas ready for transport. Many of them armed. Something was bothering him about this whole show and it dawned on him.

“You’re planning some sort of attack aren’t you? That is why Durant is refitting his whole fleet, that is why troops are being prepared, ordinance loaded. I am a fool. You’re planning an assault, and unless I’m mistaken as to why I am here. You want to attack the Borg.” he turned around suddenly to face R-7.

R-7 nodded.

“H-Hour is a mere day away and we are launching a preemptive strike on Unimatrix 001. We finally have the weapons which will allow us to eliminate the Borg threat forever.”

Picard felt his heart sink and a sick feeling in his gut as the vault like doors hissed open.

“We will need you to lead the fleet Captain Picard. Please follow me to the C&C.” R-7 stated in that matter of fact voice.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:01pm
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Chapter 5: Applications of Force


“Standby on all weapons, track them!” Captain Tarsi snapped. Mara Jade stood behind him, watching the tactical displays and glancing out of the view ports. One of the Federation ships was flashing underneath their bow, angry red beams slashed out at their shields, followed by a series of small missile weapons that exploded against the prow of the Adjudicator in an impressive light show.

“Their torpedoes are inferior to the Borg weapons we encountered, sir.” Tarsi’s tactical officer reported.

“Keep them in range, set the heavy turbolasers to flak mode, and don’t give them time to use this warp drive of theirs.” Tarsi glanced back at Mara. “My troops are assembling in the hangar bay, will you want to join them?”

“Of course, captain, but I want to see this Federation in action. So far I am not impressed.” Mara replied coolly.

“Sir the other two Federation ships are moving away from us at high sublight speed. Should we destroy them?”

“Focus on this foolhardy soul. Prepare a barrage from our ion cannons, I want him disabled as soon as possible before he realizes that he is outclassed and outmatched.”

“I believe he is covering for the other two ships to escape.” Mara commented.

“They will not escape us for long. The flak is pretty thick out there, it should provide enough of a disturbance to keep them from initiating their super light engines. Besides, I have a surprise for those two.” Tarsi replied. She watched him, he was like a sentry dog let loose, and he roamed his bridge like some predator, overjoyed at the prospect of combat. Lord Nemesis and Admiral Kittaine had chosen the right man for this mission. Captain Tarsi and the Adjudicator had the most kills of Borg cubes since they arrived in this place, and back home he had made a name for himself on the rim, hunting rebel ships, single handedly destroying a Mon Cal cruiser that had tried to ambush them. He was vicious and single minded, with a penchant for flashy strategies that more often than not worked spectacularly.

“We have the Federation ship bracketed.”

“Bring down his shields and hit him with the ion cannons.”

“Aye sir.”

The Federation ship pirouetted gracefully over the Adjudicator, firing her weapons in a continuous mode and doing nothing against the Adjudicator’s shields. The impotent display would have taken the heart out of any Imperial crew yet these Federation ships did not seem to falter in the face of defeat.

“They are impressive in their courage and grace.” Mara said quietly.

Tarsi sneered.

“Courage and grace do not win victories, Ms. Jade. Power does.”

With those words a volley of turbolasers struck the Federation ship. The shield bubble flashed an angry red for a brief moment then failed. A stream of white ion blasts cascaded over the ship, tendrils of electricity jumped around from nacelle to hull and the Federation ship seemed to darken, its movement slowed.

“The ship has been disabled sir.”

“Bring her in close with the tractors, get the assault ship ready, and inform the troopers that I want that ship intact.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“The other two ships?”

“Relay their positions to the Executioner, bring her into this fight.”

“Aye captain.”

“Ms. Jade, the assault ship leaves momentarily.” He reminded her. Mara nodded and stalked off the bridge.






“What happened?” Captain Ochoa demanded as he waved some of the smoke that choked his bridge out of his face. His helmsman was futilely working his controls and he slapped them in frustration.

“I have negative helm control, even the manual systems are out.”

“Science?” Ochoa barked, afraid that one more volley would destroy his ship any second.

“It appears we have been struck by some form of pulsed ionized energy sir. I think it’s specifically designed to damage or disable control systems by overloading them. It’s going to take a few minutes to flush the systems and reboot the core.”

“Why would they disable us…” his question drifted off and he slapped his communicator on his chest.

“Security, I want cordons around vital areas of the ship, prepare to repel boarders!” He ordered sternly, never thinking that he would ever have to issue that order.

“Captain, engineering here, we have some serious problems with the warp core, with our safety systems fried by this ion charge, the core is running very hot, unless we can institute a shutdown in ten minutes we may have a breach.”

“Engineering, I may want that breach.” Ochoa replied darkly.

“Sir?”

“We have hostile boarders on the way, we may not be able to repel them. We cannot allow a Federation starship to fall into the hands of an enemy.”

“Understood sir.” The reply was stern but quiet.

Ochoa got out of his command chair and walked over to the science station.

“I’m going to want to initiate a self destruct.”

His science officer frowned as he tried something on his console.

“It’s doubtful we can initiate one right now sir, the main computer core is down, it cannot be accessed let alone do any recognitions. We are completely dead in the water.”

“How long for a hard reboot?”

“At least five minutes.”

“Do it!”

“Sir, security reports sighting a transport inbound, they’re heading for the shuttle bays!” His communications officer reported.

“Depressurize the shuttle bay and vent all oxygen into space, let’s not make things easy for them.” He replied and turned back to his science officer.

“Do whatever it takes, but I want a self destruct running as soon as possible.”

‘Aye sir.”

“Weapons?” he turned to his tactical officer.

“Sir, there’s nothing.” He pressed several buttons on his touch pad with no effect. “Besides, we didn’t even put a dent in their shields. According to my last reading on their shields, they were operating several orders of magnitude higher than our own shield ratings. These guys put Borg shields to shame sir.”

“Who in the hell are they?”

The ship rocked for a moment.

“Security reporting, we have boarders.”






Security personnel raced for the shuttle bay access doors and positioned themselves along the corridor, some hanging in open doorways for cover others kneeling or crouching at the end of the corridor, aiming their phaser rifles with grim purpose at the doorway.

Security chief Hanson frowned. This was not a good fighting position, but there was nothing else to do. Starships weren’t meant to be fought in and they relied on intruder control systems like containment fields and paralyzing gas. Unfortunately these systems were now out because of the enemy ion charge attack. He only hoped that their troopers weren’t as obviously advanced as their ships.

He shook his head as he felt the impact of the enemy troop transport against the outer door of the shuttle bay. Of course, that was all wishful thinking.

“Ok, boys, stay frosty. Remember shoot what you can see and make sure your enemy is down before moving on.” He called out to his men. Many shifted nervously as they heard the shuttle bay doors blasted open and the sound of heavy machines moving beyond.

Hanson looked up at the sounds, trying to decipher what they meant, what were they doing on the other side of the door. Unfortunately they were as blind as a bat and crippled.

Then he heard something against the door. His face hardened as he knew what was coming next.

“Here they come.” Someone muttered behind him.

The shuttlebay doors suddenly flared up as a storm of sparks raced along the outer edges of the door then they exploded outward. The security troops closest to the door were downed by flying shrapnel.
Angry crimson bolts exploded out as several white shapes burst through, heedless of security’s return fire. Hanson took aim and fired, his phaser bolt caught one of the white armored shaped right in the chest, lifting it off his feet and it flying backwards. He heard the screams of his men, as they were cut down by the enemy’s guns.

As the smoke cleared, he could clearly see that they were white armored humans, several of them were lying strewn across the floor at the shuttle bay doors but there were more coming, storming into the corridor, heedless of losses or enemy fire. They were like the Borg that way and Hanson hated the Borg.

Even the shots that missed, struck walls or ceiling and the resulting shrapnel from the blasts were slicing through his men like flechette rounds.

“Fall back to secondary defense point, Marquez, Swanson, lay down some suppressing fire!” He shouted.

Marquez nodded and began firing in a spread across the corridor, Swanson took a bolt to the face and his head disappeared in a cloud of blood and bone. Hanson watched some of his men begin to break and panic, the enemy troopers did not hesitate to surge forward and continued firing, some into the backs of his fleeing men. Hanson took several more carefully aimed shots and fell back.

The troopers followed like hungry wolves, always keeping the Starfleet security personnel in sight, always firing, once again, even missed shots proved deadly for his men as hot shrapnel cut through flesh and bone.

The security troops were starting to panic and Hanson was afraid that by the time they reached the second defense point they would not be in any condition to fight. Fortunately they made the sharp turn and most if the men stopped at their next position, many turning and firing a steady stream of phaser fire back at the corner. The first few white armored troops turned the corner and were felled by a hail of phaser fire, several got snap shots off, downing more of his men.

He noted grimly that more than half of his defensive force was down or dead. The enemy troopers stopped coming, and he heard their running steps halt, his grip on his phaser tightened. The sharp turn at this junction gave them a slight advantage in that the enemy had to make the turn blind, essentially giving his men a free shot at their attackers.

A small silver globe suddenly bounced down the corridor towards them. Hanson’s eyes widened and he started to shout a warning when the thermal detonator exploded. The concussion knocked the tightly wedged security troops down and the blast was immediately followed by enemy fire as the troopers raced around the corner. One in particular was fast and deadly, his fire was deadly accurate and three more of his men struggling to rise were cut down.

“This position is untenable, fall back to defense position three.” He shouted, trying to get a bead on the lead trooper that was causing so much carnage, moving amongst the other troopers like a pack leader. Position three was their last position before the boarders would gain access to the main turbolifts and the rest of the ship. Position three was known as Alamo position and he did not expect to be heading there within minutes of the boarding action. He cursed the lack of containment fields as he hauled one of his men up by his arm and shoved him down the corridor, firing blindly over his left shoulder as his men scrambled to get out of the corridor, and hopefully out of sight of the enemy fire.

Hanson knew as they rounded the next corner that this battle was lost, less than 15 men followed him out where he had led 40 to the shuttle bay. As they ran Hanson slapped his combadge as a blaster bolt missed his head by inches, exploding further down the corridor.

“Security to Bridge, we are being overwhelmed by boarders, some kind of storm troopers breaking through lines, advise engineering that they’ll have company very soon. Hanson out.”

The leading element of Stormtroopers eagerly followed the fleeing Starfleet security personnel, but the lead trooper held up a closed fist and the main body of troops halted obediently, many dancing on the balls of their feet like dogs ready to be let loose.

The lead stormtrooper removed her helmet. Mara Jade’s hair was plastered to her head with sweat and she was breathing heavily. She hated stormtrooper armor, particularly the helmet. Despite all the wonderful features, she felt like she was buried alive, and blind. Peripheral vision was shot to hell in this thing. Of course, in boarding actions, there was nothing like the protection the armor afforded so she suffered the discomfort because at least she wouldn’t suffer the fate that some of these Federation troops experienced. She noted with a detached interest the numerous shrapnel wounds inflicted on the bodies of the dead enemy security personnel. She dropped the helmet to the ground.

“The lead element will continue to hunt down the rest of the defenders. You all will follow me to the nerve centers of this vessel. Lord Nemesis wants prisoners so from here on set your weapons to stun. Lord Nemesis assures me any bridge officer killed in the boarding action will result in the offending trooper’s death as well as his squad mates. Are we clear?”

“Yes ma’am.” The troopers responded in unison, many diligently switching over to stun mode on their weapons.

“Squad Gamma, you go down and take Engineering, make sure that we stop any act of sabotage or self destruction. The rest of you follow me to the bridge.”

The troopers quickly split up and raced through the winding corridors, crewmen huddled in their quarters or stations, hearing a sound that they did not think they would ever hear, the march of invading troops in their corridors.






“Raise security, I want to know what’s going on.” Ochoa ordered over his shoulder then returned his attention back to the computer console where he was working with his science officer.

“How about a self destruct using this access way?” He asked.

“That isolinear system looks fried sir, we would have to actually get into the Jeffries tube here.” He pointed to a Jeffries tube several decks down. “And directly access the explosive controls from there.”

“Doors sealed sir.” One of his men reported as he finished fusing the turbolift doors together with his phaser.

“How long until the hard reboot is done?”

“Still need three more minutes. The ion charge was more powerful than anything we have encountered, even our hardened systems were overwhelmed. We’re lucky the core wasn’t completely fried.

“Sir, we have unauthorized access in the turbolift.” His tactical officer reported.

“Everyone, check your weapons.” Ochoa ordered. He stood away, knowing that trying to get to the Jeffries tube was near impossible at this point. The internal sensors were out but judging by reports trickling in, the enemy was everywhere.

“Engineering, Can you force a warp core breach? We need to destroy the ship ASAP.” He asked.

The sounds that came in on the communicator were a chaos of explosions and shouts of surprise and anger. The line went dead. Ochoa stood silent for a moment. Then he heard the sound of heavy equipment moving in the turbolift.

“Initiate a complete core dump. I want every scrap of data gone.”

His science officer frowned.

“Sir, with the core in hard reboot, we can’t do anything.”

Ochoa shook his head. Suddenly the turbolift doors exploded outward knocking him over the railing of his bridge. Several of the bridge officers fired into the gaping hole that remained of the turbolift. Three troopers leapt in and fired. White rings flashed by, whenever they struck a person, the target crumpled to the floor unconscious.

One of the troopers was struck by a phaser, knocking him back into the turbolift but more flooded in simply firing continuously, the stun bolts taking down the rest of his men. Ochoa stood up and stared at the enemy troops. They swiveled their blasters in his direction but he did not raise his weapon.

A woman leapt in followed by another phalanx of troops. She looked around the bridge and nodded to one of the lead troopers.

“Good work, commander. Secure this bridge and coordinate with hangar control to get technicians onboard as soon as possible. My men are telling me that their reactor core seems to be in some form of meltdown.”

“Yes ma'am.”

“This is an act of aggression against the United Federation of Planets. What is the meaning of this attack?!” Ochoa protested.

Mara slowly walked down into the lower level of the bridge. She examined the young captain with a critical eye. Ochoa returned the gaze steadily. He ignored the moans of some of his wounded men as the troopers roughly pulled them up and started to line them up along the far side of the bridge under the main viewer.

“Captain, you and your starship are now under the custody of the empire. We do not explain ourselves, we do not answer the questions of prisoners of the empire. We simply take what we wish. You will be a guest of Lord Darth Nemesis. He is most eager to meet you.” She smiled coldly.

Ochoa felt a cold grip around his heart. He found himself wondering if at least Kirk got away.







The Enterprise lurched to the starboard as the heavy flak increased.

“Sulu, can we initiate warp?”

“The energy cascades caused by these explosions are not allowing us to form a stable subspace warp shell. We need to get more distance.” Sulu answered, grimly evading another ripple of explosions.
“The Sagan is right behind us sir. Their scanners indicate that these flak bursts can destroy us both, the enemy is obviously trying to take us alive.” Uhura reported.

“The Thunderchild has been disabled sir. I’m picking up activity in the enemy warship, it looks like an assault transport is on the way to the Thunderchild.” Spock reported.

Kirk rubbed his chin.

“Spock, what is the status of the other warship?”

“They are still closing fast.”

“They’re going to squeeze us between them. We need a diversion to get us out of here.”

“It seems that they are inexperienced with subspace. Their mode of super light travel is very different from our own. My analysis of their combat scanning proves that we may be able to use that to our advantage.”

Kirk nodded.

“What are the chances that we can generate a subspace fold around the ship, making us disappear to normal scanning.”

“The effect will only last for a moment.” Spock cautioned.

Kirk smiled.

“I just need a second.” He activated his comboard. “Scotty, I’m going to need a quick subspace burst through the main deflector dish.”

“Captain, it may burn out the deflector, there won’t be time to properly calibrate.” Scotty replied.

“It’s either a blown out dish or a captured ship.”

“Aye sir.” Scotty replied.

“Uhura, send a tight beam transmission to the Sagan, tell them what we’re planning.”

“Aye sir.”

The Enterprise shook violently. Some lights around the bridge dimmed.

“Mr. Sulu, those last few bursts were awfully close.” Kirk commented dryly. Sulu turned a weak smile on his face.

“Sorry sir but that ship out there seems to be covered in guns.”

“Captain, the Sagan respectfully suggests that they have a more powerful emitter and they should fire off the burst.” Uhura reported.

“Tell them we need one now.”

“Aye sir.”

“Space distortion ahead. Possible enemy emerging from unknown dimensional interface.” Spock warned.

“Sulu, full evasive, standby emergency warp.”

“Aye sir!” Sulu barely replied as he sent the Enterprise diving away from the Executioner which jumped out of hyperspace almost on top of them. It fired a series of heavy flak bursts, white ion blasts hungrily hunting for the Enterprise and the Sagan.

“Sagan firing the burst in three..two..one!” Spock reported.

“Sulu, emergency warp, opposite direction from current trajectory now!”

Sulu complied as the Sagan’s main dish flashed and sent out a powerful subspace shockwave. Normal starships would have picked up the shockwave and sensors would have automatically adjusted to the sudden shift in the subspace field. The Imperial sensor nets, still new to the variables of subspace suddenly lost track of the two tiny ships. The sensors automatically recalibrated, searching along new frequencies, but the Enterprise and Sagan were for all intents and purposes, invisible.

The two ships quickly slipped away form the Executioner’s flak bursts, the mighty Stardestroyer began firing along the Enterprise’s last known trajectory.

“We are out from under the flak bursts, subspace fields stabilizing.”

“The Thunderchild?” Kirk asked pointedly.

“Captured by the enemy, I’m picking up boarding parties all through ship.”

“Get us out of here, maximum warp to the closest starbase.” Kirk ordered stonily, staring at the enemy fleet on his screen. He swore that he would avenge this attack. Whether he was out of time or not, this was his Federation and he would be damned if he would let an enemy take what was he had sworn an oath to defend and protect.

“Sagan is following us sir.”

Kirk sat back and sighed deeply. Things were not going to be easy any time soon. His thoughts turned to Captain Ochoa and his crew. He wondered darkly what the enemy had planned for them. Of course, the greater question was, what did the enemy plan for the Federation?







“Now this is something new.” Jason Archer commented. The Defiant had slowly approached a strange energy signature that had popped up on their sensors. They were currently 50 light years into Borg space. A record for a Federation starship, save for the Voyager.

“I believe that I was correct. That is a transwarp hub.” Seven of Nine stated coolly as she stared at the great gateway that was glowing brightly in the deep void between worlds.

“But it’s unguarded…relatively speaking.” Archer replied noting the single cube standing watch at a distance from the hub.

“Recent subspace ripples, as well as excited quantum particles indicate an extremely high volume of traffic only a few hours ago. I would estimate hundreds of cubes passed through here less than 6 hours ago.” Janeway reported.

“Hundreds? Does that explain the lack of Borg activity in this sector?” Archer asked as the Defiant coasted to a stop several thousand kilometers away from the hub. His eyes kept drifting up to the small tactical display on the upper right hand portion of his screen. It indicated the status of the cloak and the current level of Borg scanning. If the scanning strength spiked red, the cloak was likely compromised. Currently the scanning strength was a low steady green. They had once or twice drifted into the danger yellow area during their journey.

“Most likely the Borg of this area were called into battle at short notice, giving little time to rotate ships and assets from other sectors. Make no mistake however, the Borg will rotate ships back into this sector shortly. No sector is left with less than 1200 functioning cubes, not counting tactical cubes and scout spheres.” Seven replied.

“But, unless I’m mistaken, we can use this hub to get us to sector 2856 in under two minutes.” Archer said with a twinkle in his eye.

“You can’t be serious.” Janeway interjected.

“One minute 37 seconds.” Seven replied.
“If we continue on in this manner, even with the transwarp upgrades you gave us, Captain Janeway, it will take us at least a week to get to the target area. We can cut our transit time to one minute 37 seconds.”

“Do you realize that if we attempt to activate the hub, the Borg will know that we’re here, they may even know that we’re coming.” Janeway protested.

Archer nodded.

“We gate in, take a quick scan of the area then bug out. The Borg won’t even know what hit them.” He answered with a boyish grin.

God, was Starfleet graduating these captains younger every year?

“That is a reckless plan.”

“Captain Archer has a point.” Seven interjected.

“Oh?” Janeway replied.

“If we continue on this course we will eventually be discovered. The density of Borg ships increases the deeper we enter Borg space. The odds of traversing the light years between here and the target area without discovery are slim to none.”

“Why Seven, that was a colloquialism wasn’t it?” Janeway replied with a shadow of a smile.

“I adapt quickly to my environment.” She replied with a shrug. Archer quickly glanced between Seven and Janeway. Whatever had been between them at the start of the mission seemed to be resolved. That made him happy. He did not relish getting caught in any crossfire on his bridge. Bad enough he had to worry about the Borg.

“Captain, if you don’t mind, I think we’re going to do it my way.” He turned in his command chair and looked expectantly at Janeway. She frowned slightly, knowing that he had left the door open for her to step in and countermand him. She did not relish doing that to any captain, but it was her life he was risking on a plan that she did not have a lot of faith in. But then again she had sponsored plans that were just as risky. Who was she to step in on this captain’s plan?

“Let’s hope that we remain as lucky as we have, Captain Archer.”

He smiled. There was relief in his smile as well.

“Helm, plot a course, take us in at full impulse, Seven please take the navigations station and standby on the transwarp controls.”

“Understood.” Seven nodded and took her place as the Defiant leapt forward, racing to the transwarp hub.

Janeway prepared the sensors for a quick scan and processing, she thought that they would only have a few seconds before they had to retreat. The hub loomed ahead and the Cube suddenly slowed and rotated in their direction. The tactical display above suddenly blinked and the sensor strength readout rose steadily, quickly going into yellow and rising.

“Captain, Borg scanning increasing, they are in search mode.” His tactical officer warned.

“Seven, standby on my mark.” Archer ordered, leaning forward, willing his ship to fly faster.

The tactical display suddenly went to red and the Cube loomed in the left half of the screen, the hub was directly ahead.

“We’ve been spiked! Borg scanners in tracking mode….reading weapons arming.” The tactical officer announced.

“Now Seven!”

Seven activated the transwarp hub controls and the hub opened like a storm of light. The Defiant raced into the open hub and passed into a transwarp conduit.

“Whoa!” Archer exclaimed as the Defiant bucked beneath him like a wild animal. “What was that?”

“The cloak is dropping, we have fluctuations across all power systems!” Janeway reported.

“Seven?”

“I am attempting to ascertain what is wrong. The conduit is stable, the transwarp hub itself was in working order.” She answered running down the options, her hands a flurry of action on her console but never once did she look panicked or afraid.

Archer was nearly flung out of his chair as the Defiant almost seemed to do a barrel roll, at least it felt that way in his gut. He held on to the armrests of his command chair for dear life.

“Status?”

“The cloak is down, we have a dangerous build up of chronaton particles in the starboard nacelle, plasma venting in port side nacelle. Power grid is fluctuating!” Janeway shouted over the din of alarms and shouts.

“Seven, what is going on?”

“I believe the answer is about to pass us.” She answered coolly.

Archer looked up on the screen and suddenly four tactical cubes roared by like hawks. They did not slow down, merely continued on and disappeared as quickly as they came. The Defiant slowly leveled out and alarms quickly died down.

“What was that?”

“The Borg cubes’ passage through the conduit coincided with ours. The subspace turbulence was almost enough to destroy us. If they had passed a hundred meters closer we would have been vaporized.” Seven replied.

“All systems returning to normal, save the cloak. Engineering is investigating.” Janeway added.

“Where were those cubes going, and why didn’t they stop to kill us?” Archer asked.

“We were probably not considered a threat to them.” Janeway answered.

Seven glanced down at her board.

“We will emerge from the conduit in 25 seconds.”

“Standby on all systems, I want to be able to get out of here at a second’s notice.”

“Emergency warp power on standby.” The helmsman responded.

“I’ll try to get us as much data as possible.” Janeway said and stood over the sensor display, ready to work it as quickly as she could. They may only have seconds.

Archer took a deep breath and waited patiently. Now was the time. It had all led up to this.

“Emerging from transwarp conduit now.” Seven reported emotionlessly and the screen winked as they exited the white storm of light into normal space.

Archer’s face fell and Janeway blanched. Seven looked up quietly and remained impassive. A great shadow fell over the Defiant.

“I have a bad feeling about this.” Archer muttered.

Thousands of cubes were floating serenely in the space that they had just exited from. The uncloaked Defiant sailed past a hundred tactical cubes clustered together. Soon they were in the center of an armada of cubes and spheres.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:02pm
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Chapter 6: The Best Laid Plans



The Emperor’s Will plowed through a cloud of ever-expanding fire and debris as another wing of Romulan warbirds disappeared under the withering fire of the fleet’s turbolasers. The Emperor’s Will’s escorts were leading the charge, mercilessly ripping through the Romulan fleet’s defensive lines. There were no strategic or tactical niceties. This was raw firepower applied against an inferior defensive force.

Kittaine watched the dance of death outside his view port with the interest that a doctor gives his a patient. He noticed one of the massive warbirds drifting to port, power systems destroyed and one of the nacelles reduced to glowing slag.

“Have recovery teams launched to that warbird. I want some functioning models of their cloaking devices.” Kittaine ordered. Branna nodded and quickly relayed the order.

“Seven more warbirds have decloaked to the extreme right flank. They’re concentrating their fire on the Relentless.” Branna reported.

“Ignore them, keep pushing for their home world.” Kittaine ordered. He paused for a moment. “Have our sensors been calibrated yet to pierce their cloaks? It is becoming tiresome to keep having these ships appear in our lines.”

“We’re having trouble compensating for the subspace portion of their cloak, but we have started to detect them partially through simple grav shadow analysis.” Branna responded.

Kittaine nodded as another warbird erupted far off to the port side. His fleet was moving as quickly as it could, bulling its way to the world that was slowly looming ahead.

“Admiral. It is time for a demonstration of our power.” Nemesis spoke for the first time since the engagement began. The entire campaign, if this several hour attack could be called such was Nemesis’ idea. The fleet had emerged from hyperspace near a militarized portion of the Federation border. While Nemesis dispatched two stardestroyers to capture Federation ships and prisoners their sensors had picked up another empire operating on the other side of the border.

Nemesis had watched an analysis of the communications they had intercepted as well as tactical data. They called themselves Romulans. Nemesis, with that odd intuition of his stated quite firmly that they were ripe for conquest. The destruction of the fleet and occupation of their space would provide the Imperial fleet with a base of operations and raw materials to supply their needs.

Kittaine could find nothing wrong with the desire to create a base of operations. Frankly, he was growing concerned that the fleet would remain baseless, drifting through this galaxy like ghosts searching for the way home. But to steal away an entire empire’s resources seemed a bit…ambitious. They were a powerful fleet, of that there was no doubt. Nearly an entire sector fleet devoted to the destruction of the Ssi Ruuvi. But to attack and hold the amount of space that Nemesis was proposing troubled him. They had an overwhelming advantage in firepower and defensive equipment. But they did not have the raw numbers to hold much of anything. A few worlds perhaps, and if there was a concerted resistance, how long then?

Of course there was also the unspoken thought that perhaps by establishing bases, a mini-empire, that hope of returning home was lost.

“Your orders, Lord Nemesis?” Kittaine asked.

Nemesis eyed Kittaine for a moment, and a chill passed down his spine. The man may have heard his thoughts, they were not treasonous, but then again, Kittaine knew nothing of this Sith Lord. He may kill just for the thrill.

“Prepare to fire the superlaser.”

“Lord?” Branna stammered, turning his head sharply to look at Nemesis.

“Target the Romulan home world of Romulas, leave Remus alone. If I recall correctly, Remus has the resources?”

“Correct, my Lord. There seems to be heavy mining throughout the planet, our probe droids are reporting Tibanna gas in many of those mines.”

“Excellent.” Nemesis replied with a nod.

Kittaine nodded to Branna.

Branna hesitantly turned to the weapons officers.

“Reveal the Iris.” He shouted down to the pit.

“Aye captain.”

“Target the largest metropolitan area, maximum population density.” Nemesis ordered. His voice had dropped slightly as he spoke. Kittaine did not look back. It was almost as if the Sith lord had not wanted to say that. Almost.

“That would be on the night side of the planet, my lord. We will need a few more minutes to maneuver into firing position.”

“Excellent. Admiral?”

“My Lord?”

“Order all fighters and bombers recovered. As soon as the last of our wings is back in the hangars, order all ships to cease firing as we move into firing position.”

“My Lord?”

“Let the Romulans fire on us at will, Admiral.” He ordered tersely. Kittaine blinked several times. It went against all his instincts as an Imperial officer to allow an enemy to fire on his fleet.

“All will be revealed to you in time, Admiral. Until then I demand absolute obedience.” Kittaine felt phantom fingers brush against his throat and ice formed in his belly.

“Of course, my Lord.” Kittaine turned on his heel and walked over to Branna who was busy overseeing the deployment of the superlaser.

“Recover all wings.”

“Admiral?”

“Captain, I want all wings back in their hangars as soon as possible.” Kittaine

“Of course, Admiral.” Branna replied and nodded to his squadron commander. Kittaine watched the battle again. Slowly the fighters began to breakaway. Many of them had spent the last few hours jinking and weaving through the green hulled giants that were the Romulan warbirds. Their fire constantly peppered the capital ships and many fighters formed wedges, protecting the tight Tie Bomber formations that were scoring impressive victories, many taking down these ships in a single pass.

Now the fighters were peeling away in a uniform retreat back to the base ships. The Bombers first, many electing to fire one last wave of torpedoes before winging it back to their respective ships. He smiled softly. His men never ceased to amaze him. They did their best to damage the enemy even in retreat. That is why we’ll win. He thought to himself.

“Recovering fighters and bombers, superlaser has been unveiled. Reactor cores are charging the emitter.” Branna reported.

The nose of the Emperor’s Will slowly opened, armored portions sliding back into the hull revealing a flat iris, with several smaller emitters forming a perfect circle around the central iris. The smaller emitters swiveled around three times in a pre-firing systems check before locking into firing position.
The fleet continued forward, slowly turning as the Emperor’s Will slid into firing position, facing the night side of Romulas. More warbirds were decloaking, some obviously just coming out of warp. Orbital defensive batteries that had remained silent until now opened fire. Hundreds of plasma torpedoes suddenly flashed over to the fleet, splashing in whitish green explosions on the fleet’s shields.

“All ships recovered. Sir, intensity of enemy fire has increased significantly.” Branna warned.

“We have our orders.” Kittaine replied frostily and watched as his fleet continued onward, explosions beginning to increase in number and intensity as dozens of warbirds started to slash their way towards the Emperor’s Will.

“It did not take them long to take advantage of the lack of fire.” Branna muttered as the warbirds began attacking the Emperor’s Will en masse.

“Time until we are in firing position?” Nemesis asked.

“Four minutes and we will be in optimal range.”

“Good.”

“Lord Nemesis, the bulk of their warbirds are now ignoring the rest of the fleet and concentrating all fire on us.” Kittaine commented hoping that perhaps he could sway the dark lord.

Nemesis smiled in cold satisfaction.

“So much the better, Admiral. So much the better.”

Kittaine turned back to look out the view port. The Emperor’s Will was literally bathed in green fire. Dozens of Warbirds were flanking her hungrily, firing continuously into her shield grid.

“Main energizers near capacity.” The tactical officer reported.

“Superlaser is now fully charged.” Branna relayed to Kittaine.

“We will be in primary firing position in two minutes.” Navigation reported.

“Admiral, when we achieve primary firing position, hold your fire until my order.” Nemesis said coldly and continued staring out the port over Kittaine’s shoulder.

“What is our shield status?” Kittaine quietly asked Branna.

“Holding, but there is an awful lot of energy getting poured into the grid.” Branna answered.

The bridge was silent as they continued on towards Romulas’ night side. The warbirds now ignored the fleet and simply swarmed the Emperor’s Will. The great flagship slowly rotated and faced the planet.

“We are in primary firing position.”

“Hold, Admiral.”

Kittaine held his breath as the orbital platforms started concentrating their fire on the Emperor’s Will as well. It seemed to him that the entire Romulan defense network was firing on them as one.

Nemesis remained silent, watching the pyrotechnic display outside with a cold gaze.

Another minute went by and Kittaine briefly considered suggesting at least some counter fire. He remembered Darlin’s shattered body and decided against it. Branna was far less calm about it, he kept pacing over to the tactical station and checking the shield status.

Another minute and Nemesis finally spoke.

“You may fire when ready, Admiral.”

Kittaine turned to Branna.

“Lock the superlaser on target and fire.”

“Aye sir.”

“Commence primary ignition.” The tactical officer stated and displays lit up all along the weapons pit. The nose of the Emperor’s Will began to glow as power flowed to the iris and the attendant smaller emitters. The Romulan fire seemed to intensify as they sensors picked up the enormous energy spike.

Nemesis stared hard at the screen, as if willing something to happen. Kittaine and Branna both leaned forward slightly, ready for anything.

The blast from the Emperor’s Will erupted forth in a green beam of raw destructive power. It lanced into the planet. On the night side of Romulas, for the largest city on the planet, night became day. The green superlaser burned through the air, literally igniting it with its passage and struck the earth with the sound of Armageddon. Instantly, the city was vaporized, millions died before they could utter a sound. The blast continued on unopposed into the planet’s crust, thrusting through the rocky outer layer of the planet and exposing the molten mantle beneath. Huge geysers of molten rock spewed forth into the atmosphere. The blast shockwave began rippling along the surface like a monstrous thing, completely obliterating all in its path, cities, mountain ranges, even oceans boiled away at its passage. Several hundred million instantly died with the shockwave, many more would perish as the resulting earthquakes and fires damaged vital matter/antimatter reactors, causing a chain reaction of core breeches throughout the planet. White flashes of core breaches slowly appeared, circling the night side like a string of pearls.

Kittaine stared in awe. Branna looked down at a readout.

“Admiral, the superlaser discharged the full effect, no deviation from simulated results. The weapon has preformed precisely to expectations.”

“Can you feel it now, admiral?” Nemesis asked quietly as he suddenly appeared standing right behind them. “Can you feel the fear swelling in them now? They have fired on us with all of their weapons, every defensive system, all their warships for over five minutes without us firing a single shot and it accomplished nothing.” He smiled coldly as realization slowly dawned on Kittaine’s face. “They are now faced with the awful certainty that they can do nothing against us. I will offer them an alternative.” Nemesis strode past them and stalked over to the communications section.

“I want a transmission broadcast to all the Romulan ships, beam my image to the surface of Romulas and Remus.”

“Aye My lord.”

Nemesis wrapped his cape around his shoulder and stared intently at the holoimager. It suddenly lit up.

“Transmitting My Lord.”

“People of the Romulan Star Empire. I am Darth Nemesis, leader of the advance forces of the Galactic Empire. You have seen a small demonstration of our power. As I speak, we are transmitting to the rest of your empire a full playback of the battle to control the space above your home world. It will clearly show that your defense forces fought a valiant but useless battle to stop us. The end result is the destruction of a major continent or your planet Romulas. I am prepared to offer a truce between our empires. The Romulan Star Empire will be allowed to survive as a client state of the Galactic Empire and her emperor. You will surrender your arms and your fleets will now belong to us to do with as we wish. If the Romulan Star Empire does not accede to this demand, then I will fire the superlaser again, and this time Romulas will be nothing but rubble and I will not stop until Remus is laid waste then I will continue on outward, eradicating every world that harbors your people. I will sterilize this space of your kind and in the end there will not be a single monument, placard or even ruins to say that you ever existed at all. Your space will be filled with the rubble of your dead worlds and the shattered hulls of your ineffectual warships. No cloaking device can save you now. You either bow to the will of the empire, or be exterminated like vermin. Make no mistake, there will be no second chances, I will not make this offer again. Once I start the great slaughter it will not be stopped. This is your sole chance at life. You have precisely 5 of your minutes to comply.” Nemesis nodded and the holoimager shut off.

“Lord, it will take longer than five minutes to recharge the superlaser, and it will certainly not shatter their world in the next shot, it will take many shots to imitate the true effects of the Death Star superlaser.” Kittaine warned.

Nemesis smiled.

“Admiral. I know fear. Fear and I are intimate allies. Fear attracts the weak and the powerful. We will use fear throughout this campaign to win a new empire for our emperor and to get our brave fleet back home.” Nemesis answered.

Branna was watching the destruction of the Romulan planet’s major continent. Slowly, great cracks marked with crimson molten rock were spreading along the continental shelf, large portions of the center, the initial impact site of the superlaser was breaking open like the opening of a rose blossom. Enormous chunks of the crust were sinking into the molten mantle until several hundred square kilometers of crust disappeared leaving what looked like an angry red eye staring back at him.

“It is beautiful.” Branna whispered.

“Careful Captain. We are Imperial officers, this is a duty not a pleasure.” Kittaine responded coolly. Branna glanced back at his Admiral and nodded.

“Of course, Admiral.” Branna replied respectfully. He noted the celebrations amongst the weapons crews, they had successfully fired the first ship mounted superlaser. He could imagine what it would mean for the empire once they had one on every command ship. No world would be safe, none could hide from the New Order.

“We have seen the dawn of the end of the rebellion.” Branna said emphatically.

“Once we are home and the rebels lay down their arms, I will agree with you my friend, but for now, let us focus on the task at hand. How long until Lord Nemesis’ ultimatum runs out?” Kittaine replied, watching the warbirds slowly circling them. They had stopped firing the moment Nemesis began speaking.

“Two minutes.”

“Are you picking up communication?” Nemesis asked.

“Yes, my lord, there are hundreds of tight beamed transmissions between the ships and the planet. There are also furious transmissions between the central command and the various political centers that remain functioning.”

Nemesis nodded.

“Prepare to launch fighters and bombers. Make sure the bombers are all reloaded before sending them out.” Kittaine ordered as he prepared to assume the worst.

“That will not be necessary, Admiral. Unless I am sorely mistaken, we will receive the answer that we are looking for very shortly.” Nemesis interjected. Kittaine nodded hesitantly.

“Captain Tarsi is going to kill us when he finds out we have been engaged in a battle of this magnitude without him, particularly that he was not here for the firing of the superlaser.” Branna commented with a wry smile.

Kittaine smiled softly in return.

“Captain Tarsi will be most displeased indeed.”

Time passed swiftly.

“The ultimatum runs out in 5 seconds.”

“My lord?” Kittaine asked.

Nemesis raised a hand in a waiting gesture.

“We are receiving a transmission from the Romulan flagship.”

“Put it through.”

“This is Admiral T’vor of the Romulan Defensive Fleet. We are complying with your demand, Lord Nemesis. The Romulan fleet is standing down, defensive batteries are shutting down. We await your word.” The voice was cold and there was real anger brewing beneath the surface. Nemesis smiled.

“They are not happy.” Branna noted with a smug smile.

“They are a practical people. They know when they are beaten and they are survivors. They will do anything to survive, even surrender.”

“Cowards.” Branna replied bitterly.

“Don’t be so sure, my friend. They have lost millions of lives in a matter of moments and they are impotent against us. It was a reasonable conclusion to accept life under Imperial rule than oblivion.” Kittaine replied softly. Nemesis’ eyes narrowed on the Admiral, but Kittaine did not notice because his back was to him.

“Admiral, I will leave the logistics to you. Start immediate landing, we need to let these people know immediately that we are in control. Begin calling in Romulan ships from all corners of their empire, I want no ships functioning independently away from us. Once we have a firm logistics train established we will prepare to extract the information we need from the Federation.”

“Of course, my lord.”

“And Admiral, bring me all data files from their military, I want to see all their secrets and what they know. Perhaps they have things to offer us that we are unaware of. You have free reign to do what you need to restore order.”

“Anything my lord?” Kittaine asked pointedly.

“I will ask no questions, just restore order that is my only commandment.”

“Of course my lord. It shall be done.”

“Lord Nemesis, Captain Tarsi is signaling that he has secured a Federation starship as well as its crew. He is ready to jump to our coordinates.” Branna reported with satisfaction.

Nemesis nodded.

“Inform Captain Tarsi that he is to proceed here immediately. I want to personally attend to the interrogations.”

“Yes my lord.”

Nemesis stalked off the bridge, his long black cape flowing behind him like the wings of some dark creature. Branna sighed softly as he imagined what awaited the miserable bastard that fell into Nemesis’ hands. He smiled coldly for a moment as a thought occurred to him.

“Let me speak directly to Captain Tarsi.”

“Aye Captain.” The tech handed him a headset.

“Tarsi, it’s Branna, was it a tough battle against the Federation ship?” He listened and nodded. “I see, no challenge at all….mmm..rebel freighters have given you more trouble? Mmmm…I thought you might like to know that we have just conquered one of the empires bordering the Federation border….it was glorious, hours of intense mortal combat against hundreds of ships…” Branna suppressed the laugh as Tarsi’s outraged voice drifted over the headphone. “And we test fired the superlaser on their home world.”
Tarsi’s outrage became a shout of anger and the line went dead. Branna’s face became calm and professional again as he handed the tech back the headphones.

As Branna turned Kittaine was standing right behind him.

“Are you quite finished, Captain?”

“Of course, sir. I was just endeavoring to keep our fleet elements appraised of our status.” Branna replied with a straightface, looking straight ahead at attention.

“I’m sure you were, but I would be careful if I were you, Captain. Captain Tarsi is not one to be toyed with. He once had to chase a rebel ship through five star systems and an asteroid field before finally capturing the ship. What he did to the rebel crew has gone done in the legends of Imperial interrogators for years afterwards. Don’t toy with the Gundark or you will get the fangs.” Kittaine replied just as straight faced.

Branna nodded.

“Begin landing operations immediately and I want you to see to the occupation personally captain.”

“Yes Admiral.” Branna replied and stepped away.

Kittaine watched him leave and could not help but smile. Tarsi was going to skin Branna alive if he caught him. Funny that, even in this dark, forsaken place far from home and order, they could still find time to smile. Behind Kittaine, the great angry red eye in the center of Romulas glared at them all in accusation.







Picard stood in the C&C of the Shadow fleet and watched in awe as massive holographic displays lit up all around him. There was a full representation of Federation space. The level of detail was on a planetary scale, small holographic representations of Starships blinked constantly with tactical data superimposed over each one.

“How in the world did you get all of this information. I doubt that even Starfleet command has this level of detail on ship deployment.”

“We have our ways, Picard. Let’s just say that every time your ships go in for repairs, refits. shore leaves, we tend to find a way to leave a little reminder on the ship, a low level transmitter that periodically transmits data in bursts to our relay stations throughout Federation space.” He ignored the look of horror on Picard’s face as he continued. “We use that data to create this real time representation of Federation space and starship deployments. This star chart is vital to the shadow fleet, since we can tell if a starship is in trouble, whether a system has necessary defensive resources should an invasion occur, etc. It also allows us to move through Federation space undetected because we know where everyone else is.”

“The star chart was first instituted 15 years ago, after several unfortunate incidents where our secret deployments were nearly uncovered by other Federation starships. The chart proved invaluable during the first Borg incursion as we were able to relay Borg positions through back channels.” R-7 added helpfully. Picard eyed R-7 with a mix of regret and anger. He represented precisely what Picard had been afraid of regarding Data all these years. Yet he reminded him so much of his erstwhile officer.

“I tell you Picard. It was a tragedy to watch the Battle of Wolf 359 on this chart. I watched as dozens of starships slowly winked out of existence on this board and we could do nothing about it. We were deploying then, hundreds of our starships were en route to Earth but we were still too far. We would have arrived an hour after assimilation began. Imagine my surprise when the Borg cube simply blew itself straight to hell.” Durant commented. Picard remained silent but he did frown slightly. Couldn’t the man pronounce his name correctly? Everyone else said it correctly, including R-7 but he insisted on pronouncing it Pikerd.

“The Borg have been our staunchest enemies since then, Picard. But there was little we could do to stop them. Best we could do was destroy any cubes that incurred on our territory and we have been lucky that they only send a cube at a time.”

“The last incursion was a tactical cube that tried to come in on the opposite side of their usual invasion route four moths ago.” R-7 added.

“I hadn’t heard of this.” Picard challenged.

“That’s because we engaged them on the outskirts of Federation space, we lost a few ships in that engagement, and it was also the reason that spurred us on to acquire the secret technology that Janeway brought back with her.” Durant answered.

“Thus putting our entire timeline in jeopardy.” Picard countered.

Durant shrugged.

“As far as I can tell the universe is not coming to a sudden halt, Picard. These weapons are going to give us the edge we need. The armor technology is going to allow our ships to survive long enough to actually do some damage. Once we take down Unimatrix 001, the game is over. The Borg have only one major weakness, over centralization.”

“You think they’re just going to let us waltz into the Unimatrix? There are thousands of cubes there at any one time.”

“The Voyager survived attacks by several cubes long enough to destroy a transwarp hub. Our fleet will last long enough to deploy the Little Boy.”

“The Little boy?” Picard asked bewildered.

“A strategic weapon we’ve been toying with for some time. It’ll make sure that all that remains of Unimatrix 001 is scrap. We’ll bomb them into their component nanites, Picard. Aren’t you in the least bit interested in freeing the galaxy and the Federation of this evil? You have been the most vocal proponent of confronting the Borg wherever they appear. Your speech before the Federation council last year after the Borg incursion that reached Earth was inspiring.”

“I am not reluctant to destroy Borg, captain, I am reluctant that this secret fleet will be treading lightly where angels fear tread. I was a drone once” he nearly stumbled at this part. It always triggered a wave of shame and pain that he had not yet fully grappled with. He would be damned if he let some peacock like Durant notice it however and he pushed on. “I vividly remember the tactical data regarding the Unimatrix. We will be entering the most heavily defended space in the entire galaxy. It will make the last stand at Cardasia look like ensigns in formation. This is not some mission that we should regard with any sort of levity. Most likely, none of us would be returning.”

“We are prepared to make that sacrifice, Picard. We are all aware that at any time we will be called upon to give our lives for the Federation.”

“But not needlessly, Captain. Our lives are valuable to the Federation. This fleet has obviously done much good for the Federation despite its misguided notions that the Federation needs protecting that it itself cannot provide. Why throw it away on an attack that has very little chance of succeeding?”

Durant frowned and leaned on the star chart for a moment, as if debating something difficult. Adare was sitting behind him, feet up on a console and staring at Picard with a critical eye.

“Are you afraid, Captain?” Durant asked softly.

Picard felt his face flush. His hands gripped the edge of the star chart.

“You are a child, Captain Durant. A child playing with toy fleets. You have not seen or done a tenth of what I have. You have not seen the wonders I have seen or experienced the horrors. I have touched death enough times so that we are on a first name basis.” Picard spoke in a steely whisper, the anger thick in his voice. “I will tell you what I do see. I see a young captain eager to go into battle, eager to see blood. You think of the destruction of Unimatrix 001 as the be all and end all of your existence. These new weapons are not miraculous, they are powerful, yes. They are potent against our foes, but in the end the Borg ADAPT and they RESPOND and you will find yourself in a world of pain that all the bravado in the universe will not save you from. I merely wanted to share my wisdom that you obviously need so much. As Locutus of Borg I would tell you simply this…your actions would be futile, your new weapons irrelevant. The Collective does not fear, the Collective does not care about such trivial things as casualties or losses. They only care about assimilation, and your pretty little fleet out there becomes a very tempting target for assimilation. It is not fear that tells a warrior that his foe is superior.” Picard turned away and began to stride out of the C&C.

“Captain, wait, I want to apologize.” Durant called out after him and started to follow.

An alarm went off in the C&C.

“What’s going on?” Durant snapped and turned right back to the Star chart.

“We have an enemy incursion into Federation space, approximately one light year off the Romulan neutral zone. Sector 1075, the USS Thunderchild is reporting enemy ships threatening the science vessel Sagan and Enterprise.” R-7 reported dispassionately.

“Enterprise?” Picard stopped and slowly turned around.

Durant nodded to Picard who quickly fell in besides the young commander. He watched as the holographic representation of the Thunderchild, an Akira class starship, began blinking and the star chart fell away, so that the sector where the Thunderchild was located took up the entire holographic chart. The tactical data streaming over the Thunderchild changed suddenly as shields went up and weapons began to fire.

“What is that?” Durant asked in shock as an enormous warship shimmered into view.

“We are receiving telemetry from the Thunderchild’s sensors. This is a rough translation of what we are receiving.”

“You do realize that the computer has assigned that ship Ragnarok status?” Adare interjected softly. He was obviously disturbed by what he was looking at.

“What does that mean?” Picard asked.

“Each threat is given a certain status indicating level of threat to the Federation. Borg Cubes are assigned Omega status, the second highest threat, meaning that our fleet can handle it with heavy losses and the ship represents a dire threat to the Federation.” R-7 began.

“Ragnarok status was last used to tag the V’ger probe 70 years ago. Ragnarok means that this threat represents an end of the Federation level of threat.” Durant finished, his eyes suddenly hardening as he watched the Thunderchild’s telemetry suddenly flash and the ship remained motionless.

“They’ve been disabled.”

“They’re getting boarded!” Someone else reported with surprise.

“What about the Enterprise?” Picard pressed.

“The Enterprise and the Sagan managed to go to warp. However there is something odd about this Enterprise –“ R-7 was cut off by another tech behind him.

“The Thunderchild has been secured by the enemy ships, last sensor log indicates two warships, each one rated Ragnarok threat level.”

There was silence in the C&C for a long while as they watched the Thunderchild’s holographic representation slowly fade from view. Durant took a breath and turned to Picard.

“I’m going to need your help, Captain. The Federation needs you. It seems that the assault on Unimatrix 001 is going to have to take a backseat.”

“You’re going after this threat?” Picard asked pointedly.

“It’s what we’re here for Captain. Any of our other starships runs into this thing and they’ll be just as dead as the Thunderchild. Right now, the Shadow fleet is the only viable force that can oppose a threat ship like that with any hope of survival.” Durant replied and locked eyes with Picard.

“What say you, Captain?”

Silence in the C&C as everyone paused to look at the exchange. Picard looked over at the star chart and back to Durant.

“When do we leave, Captain?”








HYPERBEAM TRANSMISSION FROM UNIMATRIX 001 TO TACTICAL FLEET TA900887. TIMESTAMP: 0:205:36

INITIAL FLEET DEPLOYMENT 89% COMPLETE. REMAINING FLEET ELEMENTS EXPECTED IN 9.2 HOURS. DEPLOYMENT OF STRATEGIC CUBES EXPECTED, WEAPONS LOADOUTS UNDER REVIEW. EXPECTED DECISION IN 2.3 HOURS. REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL REPAIR DRONES DENIED, CURRENT DEPLOYMENT OF 150,000,000 DRONES EXPECTED TO BE SUFFICIENT FOR INITIAL ENGAGEMENT.



HYPERBEAM TRANSMISSION FROM TACTICAL FLEET TA900887 TO UNIMATRIX 001. TIMESTAMP: 0:206:12

ATTACHING REPORT FROM TACTICAL CUBE 5221K56: INTRUDER VESSEL DETECTED AT 02:00:02 HOURS STANDARD. INITIAL ANAYLSIS REVEALS: FEDERATION STARFLEET VESSEL, [FEDERATION IDENTITY MARKER NCC 75633 FEDERATION CLASS DESIGNATION: DEFIANT. WEAPONS LOADOUT: PULSE PHASER ARRAY, TWIN QUANTUM TORPEDOE LAUNCHERS, MAXIMUM YIELD PER SALVO: 200 MEGATONS. DEFENSIVE SYSTEMS: ABLATIVE ARMOR CLASS 7 , MULTIPHASIC SHIELD GRID OF CLASS 6 GENERATION CAPAPCITY.] THREAT ANALYSIS TO TACTICAL CUBE 5221K56: 1.0258% THREAT ANALYSIS TO TACTICAL FLEET: 0.0000% (THESE FIGURES ALSO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT RADICAL PROBABILITY SHIFTS THAT OCCUR WITH REGULARITY WHEN ENGAGING STARFLEET VESSELS) OVERALL THREAT ANALYSIS: VESSEL’S PRESENCE IS IRRELEVANT, ANY ACTION WOULD BE A WASTE OF ENERGY AND RESOURCES. SCANNING LOCK WILL BE MAINTAINED, THE DEFIANT WILL BE MONITORED IN CASE FURTHER ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN. [SECURITY CROSS REFERENCE PROBABIBILTY THAT THIS VESSEL IS THE SAME VESSEL REPORTED BY CUBE 98H200096 OF USING TRANSWARP CONDUIT J-12: 98.77%]



HYPERBEAM TRANSMISSION FROM UNIMATRIX 001 TO TACTICAL FLEET TA900887. TIMESTAMP 0:207:00

AGREE WITH TACTICAL CUBE 5221K56’S ANALYSIS. MAINTAIN TARGET AND SCANNING LOCK. DEFIANT REPRSENTS NO THREAT OR ADVANTAGE TO TACICAL FLEET. CURRENT MISSION PARAMETERS ARE: 1) ENGAGE IMPERIAL FORCES WHERE POSSIBLE, ATTEMPT TO BOARD AND ASSIMILATE ONE OF THEIR STARSHIPS. [CROSS REFERENCE NOTATION: PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO TRANSPORT DRONES ONTO IMPERIAL WARSHIPS HAVE PROVEN IMPOSSIBLE. SHIELD STRENGTH IS RATED CLASS 10, NO KNOWN FREQUENCY MODULATION IN SHIELDS SUGGEST A SHIELD GENERATION TECHNOLOGY THAT IS ADVANCED BEYOND MULTIPHASIC SHIELDS. COUNTERMEASURES BEING DEVISED.] CONTINUE BOARDING ACTION ATTEMPTS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. 2) ASSIMILATE CREWS TO DISCOVER LOCATION OF IMPERIAL HOME SYSTEM. [ASTROMETRICS CROSS REFERNCE FILE: EXTENSIVE SCANS OF SURROUNDING SYSTEMS AND DEEP PROBES HAVE REVEALED PROBABIBILTY OF IMPERIAL SHIPS ORIGINATING IN THIS GALAXY: 4.09%. ] [METALURGIC CROSS REFERENCE: EXTENSIVE ANALYSIS OF HULL MATERIAL FROM WRECKAGE OF IMPERIAL SHIP INDICATES METALS AND POLYMERS NOT NORMALLY FOUND IN KNOWN STAR SYSTEMS. PROBABILITY THAT THE METAL ALLY COULD HAVE ORGINATED FROM THIS GALAXY: 1.25%] 3) EVENTUAL ASSAULT AND ASSIMILATION OF IMPERIAL HOME SYSTEM. PRODUCTION FACILITIES HAVE BEGUN IMMEDIATE CREATION OF NEW VESSELS. PRODUCTION INCREASE OF 300% WILL BE SUSTAINED UNTIL CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES.
ATTACHED DETAILED REPORT OF IMPERIAL FORCES TO DATE.

ALL OTHER PRIORITIES RESCINDED



HYPERBEAM TRANSMISSION TO UNIMATRIX 001 FROM TACTICAL FLEET TA900887. TIMESTAMP 0:207:09

ORDERS TRANSMITTED AND RECEIVED. TACTICAL FLEET TA900887 WILL COMPLY.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:03pm
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Chapter 7: Message in a Bottle


Ochoa groaned. He remembered something. What was it? It was hovering just on the edge of his consciousness. There was a flash of something else. A child’s laughter…his daughter. Rachel. He smiled. His sweet little girl who always watched the skies to find the star where daddy was.

There was a shadow on his face. His daughter’s smile faded as a shadow loomed over them, blocking out the sun on his immaculate green lawn. Somewhere to his side, his wife rose from lounging on the small swing set up on the side of the house.

“Ricardo?” She called out in worry. His daughter’s smile turned to a frown.

“Daddy?”

He reached out to touch her, comfort her.

The cold steel of the restraints bolted to his wrist snapped him back into focus. He was strapped to a platform. Numerous small devices hung off to the side, including needles and small saws. The restraints were strapped tightly around his wrists, waist, neck, thighs and his feet were slapped into tight stirrups that cupped them in a cold metallic embrace. He wore his Starfleet uniform, damp with his sweat.

He remembered what it was he trying to focus on.

“Ricardo Ernesto Ochoa, Captain, USS Thunderchild, United Federation of Planets, Service Number 44AA9885.”

“Yes, Captain Ochoa, I’ve heard this tale before.” the cold voice drifted in the darkness of the room. His bed was bathed in a sharp white light, the rest of the room was dark. At best, he could make out some shapes moving in the darkness but otherwise it was as if he were alone, save for the voice.

The speaker stepped into view again. He looked so young, sandy blonde hair kept in a short crew cut and a nose that looked as if he may have been in a brawl in his youth, slightly pushed to the side, otherwise a young handsome face. His intense blue eyes regarded Ochoa with sympathy.

“I am trying to save you, Captain. This troublesome tendency of yours to repeat information that I can discern by reading your identity chit is hardly what I am looking for.”

“Ricardo Ernesto Ochoa, Captain, USS Thunderchild, United Federation of Planets, Service Number 44AA9885.” He replied more forcefully now, putting more emphasis on each word. He stared hard at the young man dressed in black.

“Perhaps we did not make ourselves clear earlier, hmmm?” the young man gestured with a finger and one of the small attachments suddenly came to life, it buzzed like a drill and slowly swung over to his arm. Ochoa’s eyes widened and he stared at it.

“Pain is such a terrible thing to have to endure.” The drill bit into his flesh and he threw back his head against the metal frame of the bed and screamed. There was no blood, only pain. He could feel it, tearing through his flesh but his uniform remained untouched.

“The phase needle is just one of the many implements I have at my disposal. There are more…invasive methods I could apply. Perhaps you would like to have a look at your insides, Captain? There are drugs I can give you that would keep you awake and completely lucid even as I slowly extracted your intestines and handed them to you.”

Ochoa’s screams stopped as the needle buzzed back away from his arm. The young man leaned in closer.

“You do want to talk don’t you?” He touched his forehead. His skin was dry and cool, Ochoa’s hot and damp with perspiration. Ochoa began to nod and stopped himself suddenly. Something within him wanted to respond to the young man, wanted to tell him everything but he grit his teeth and centered himself.

“Why endure this?” He asked seriously.

“Ricardo.. Ernesto.. Ochoa,.. Captain.., USS Thunderchild.., United.. Federation.. of.. Planets, Service… Number.. 44AA9885.” Ochoa replied, ignoring the dimming of his sight.

“I can take so much from you, Captain. Not just your sight.”

Ochoa found himself plunged in darkness. He struggled vainly. He could not see and it panicked him. He had never liked darkness, ever since his father lost his sight in an engineering accident he had been afraid of blindness. To live in a world of darkness was greater than any pain.

“I know about your father.” The young man whispered in his ear. “I can give you back your sight with but a thought.” Suddenly Ochoa could see again. The young man hovered over him, face impassive like that of a surgeon. “There is nothing to gain from suffering any more Captain. I am trying to spare you the agony that will undoubtedly come if you continue to deny me.”

The young man pursed his lips for a moment and nodded to himself.

“I can imagine that you are trying to be strong for the sake of your crew. But I must tell you that they have all spoken, they were all quite malleable to our will. Why remain strong if they have refused to be as resolute as you?”

“Liar.” Ochoa spat through dry cracked lips.

The young man smiled. It was as if Ochoa’s response was precisely what he had been waiting for.

“Captain, allow me to adjust this table slightly.” The young man moved his hand gently along the top of the table, he did not touch any controls but the table suddenly slipped down and pivoted, putting Ochoa in a semi-standing position. A hologram fluttered into being. He recognized the face. Security chief Hanson was hesitantly looking up at the imager.

“You killed my men.” he accused, eyes locked on the unseen observer in impotent anger. He was in a similar table, strapped down.

“They resisted the empire, their fate was sealed the moment they took up arms against us.” The voice was not the young man’s it was a woman’s voice and Ochoa recognized it as the voice of the woman who had stormed onto his bridge.

“They surrendered to you in engineering and you gunned them down in cold blood you heartless bitch!” Hanson shouted.

“Let us begin.” She said emotionlessly.

The hologram fluttered, obviously an edit and then Hanson seemed to be unconscious on the table. A woman’s hand drifted into view and touched a control on the table. A small needle jabbed Hanson in the thigh and he awoke suddenly as if he had been slapped, his eyes wide with fear and breathing hard like a jackhammer.

“Stop!” he shouted.

“I haven’t begun, yet, Mr. Hanson. I was just awakening you for the next step in the interrogation. You remember these, don’t you?” Two large saw like devices sprung out at chest level and hovered menacingly over Hanson. His eyes betrayed absolute terror.
“Our medical droids had trouble keeping you alive last time because of the amount of adrenaline you already had in your system, but with the new drugs we’ve administered that should not be a problem….would you like me to begin now? Perhaps this time we will simply explore the nerve endings before plunging right in, hmmm?”

“Stop it! Stop! This is inhuman!”

“No, Mr. Hanson. Inhuman is the next stage of the interrogation. This is simply the preliminaries.” The voice replied coolly. Hanson’s eyes widened as far as they could, nearly bulging as the soft whine began and the blades slowly descended towards him.

“Stop please, I’ll tell you what you want to know but stop it!” He screamed with an agonizing mix of utter despair and shame.

The blades stopped an inch form his flesh.

“That wasn’t so hard, now was it, Mr. Hanson? Let us discuss the tactical layout of your starship’s security grids. Leave no detail out because I will know.”

Hanson nodded and tears of shame welled in his eyes and his head fell back against the metal frame of the bed in utter defeat.

“Turn it off.” Ochoa asked.

Hanson started to sob softly and the camera focused on his tormented face.

“Turn it off!” Ochoa shouted.

“As you wish.” the hologram shimmered and disappeared. The young man turned to regard Ochoa neutrally.

“You broke him down, tortured him. What are you people, animals? Humans don’t do this to each other.”

The young man looked genuinely surprised for a moment.

“Your crew all clung to that notion until we started being inhuman as you put it. We are very much human and we will get what we want, Captain. This is my last plea to you, save yourself. The agony that I have in store for you will make your security chief’s pain insignificant. There is no hope, there is no way you can stand against us. Your communications officer was a member of a race you know as Beta Zeds. He tried to shut his mind away using psionic trickery.” The young man smiled coldly. “I disabused him of the notion that his psionic talents were any match for the dark side of the Force. Unfortunately his mind could not stand the stress of my probes and he is no longer…sentient, I believe the term is.”

“You took Lieutenant Jerjor’s mind?” Ochoa gasped in shock and revulsion.

“Took is a difficult word, I prefer the term tear. I tore it out from him. He has been executed as a mercy. I do not think your crew would want to see the twitching, drooling mess that remained of that young man.”

“Monster.” Ochoa spat.

“Why this loyalty, Captain? You are defending an institution that routinely discards its citizens as if they were nothing more than spare parts, In believe that you had a war with a race known as Cardasians. To seal the peace, your government sacrificed hundreds of thousands of colonists and the worlds they called home. The colonists that refused to leave their homes were summarily expelled from your peace loving empire and left to the mercies of your enemies.” The young man leaned in closer, anger in his eyes. “Then when the colonists, no longer your citizens actually started winning their insurrection against your former enemy, your government cravenly began to assist the Cardasians in hunting them down, opposing their bid for life and freedom, despite the fact that you knew they were supplying their own colonists with weapons….shameful really. To give up territory for peace is unthinkable in the New Order. You see, Captain, in my galaxy, the Empire actually PROTECTS its citizens. We do not barter away their worlds and their lives because we fear any more bloodshed in battle. We do battle and die for the citizens of the Empire because it is expected of us.”

Ochoa stared in shock, where had he gotten such detailed information in such a short time?

“I would have very much liked to have met these Maquis, they must have had such steel, passion, but then again, they conveniently all died in the war against the Dominion. I do believe that they requested assistance from your government and again were ignored. Is there no shame?” the young man asked pointedly.

“I don’t have to explain myself or the Federation to the likes of you!” Ochoa replied bitterly.

The young man looked down at him and his smile was one of ice.

“Won’t or can’t, Captain. I wonder which one it is.” The young man paused and sighed softly.

“Tell me what I wish to know.” His voice had a strange quality to it, and again Ochoa nearly responded, as if he wanted to reply to please him, but again he reigned himself in and grit his teeth.

He locked eyes with the young man.

“Ricardo Ernesto Ochoa, Captain, USS Thunderchild, United Federation of Planets, Service Number 44AA9885.” he stated stonily.

The young man remained frozen in place for a moment, blinked, then nodded. He turned away and suddenly a strange floating globe drifted into view. It was spehreical, black and a single red eye regarded everything with a detached calm. He also noted the gruesome attachments along the body of the sphere - Sharp, wicked attachments.

“Break him. Break his body, do with it what you will, but break him physically. Once he is broken I will come for his mind…spare him no pain, the only authorized drugs are the ones to keep him awake and lucid.” He ordered. The droid slowly floated towards Ochoa.

“Oh, and one more thing Captain.” The young man raised his hand and made a cutting motion. A curtain of darkness dropped across his vision. Ochoa struggled then he heard the buzzing of the vibroblades.

He stopped and let his mind flash back to his yard. Rachel stood, hands clutching his wife who knelt by his daughter. A storm broke overhead and big fat drops of rain cascaded down on top of them, staining Rachel’s immaculate white dress. She reached out for him.

“Daddy?”

He tried to reach out to her.

“I love you, honey.”

The buzz became a hiss as it touched flesh and then there was only the pain and the darkness.



Nemesis strode out of the interrogation chamber, his face clouded by anger. Kittaine hesitantly stepped up to him.

“My Lord?”

“What is it, Admiral?” Nemesis asked voice tight.

“Admiral T’Vor of the Romulan defense fleet. He has been appointed by the Praetor of the Romulan star empire to be our liaison with the government.” Kittaine introduced the tall gaunt Romulan commander with eyes like steel. There was still anger in his eyes as he grimly sized up the young man in the black tunic and cape. T’Vor thought it had been a trick of the holograms that this young boy could be leading such a mighty armada. If he were from the Federation, T’Vor guessed he would just be entering Starfleet academy at this point.

“I consider it a sign of ability and power more than age, Admiral.” Nemesis replied with a ghost of a smile on his lips. T’Vor was taken aback but his face betrayed nothing.

“Lord Nemesis. I have come at your fleet’s request. I understand that you had a question for me?” T’Vor replied coolly.

“Indeed I do Admiral.”

Suddenly they heard the sound of running feet and Branna rounded the corner. He stopped short and snapped to attention as he saw Kittaine and Nemesis standing before him.

“Captain, what is the meaning of this? Officers do not run on Imperial warships, certainly not Captains!” Kittaine snapped.

“My apologies, Admiral, Lord Nemesis. But I have news.”
He sounded out of breath. Had he run all the decks from the bridge to here? Kittaine wondered.

“Well, what is it, Captain?” Nemesis asked testily.

“We have just received a transmission from the emperor.”

Kittaine stiffened and Nemesis’ eyes widened slightly.

“The emperor?”

“It has been verified.”

“I will take the message in my chambers, immediately!” Nemesis ordered and stalked away. T’Vor watched the exchange with interest.

Kittaine turned to the admiral.

“Wait here, Lord Nemesis will want to speak to you as soon as he is done.”




Nemesis strode into his chamber. Mara Jade smiled as he entered and bowed slightly.

“My Lord I’m ready to give you my after action report on the boardi-“

“Leave me now.” He snapped and stalked over to his holonet receiver.

“My lord?” Mara asked, confused.

“I am about to receive a transmission from the emperor, leave me.” He said the last part with a dangerous gleam in his eyes.

Mara nodded and quickly left, torn by the fact that she would not be able to see the emperor. As the doors slid shut behind her the holonet transmitter sprang to life and a very distorted and faint image wavered on.

Nemesis knelt and bowed his head.

“What is thy bidding, my master?”

“Lord Nemesis, this message has been dispatched in the hopes that you will receive it wherever it is that you have found yourself. Your fleet disappeared from our sensor nets more than two weeks ago.” Two weeks ago? They had only been gone four days? The image wavered and almost broke up, lines of static snow constantly flashed across the image. “Despite attempts by probe droids and our fastest ships, we have been unable to find you within the confines of Imperial space. The time grows near when the Empire will embark on its greatest mission, the destruction of the Alliance. I am loathe to do so without my newest Sith Lord at my side, my young apprentice, but it is obvious that you have stumbled upon something we have never encountered before. Bevel and some of my scientific advisors have analyzed the data our ships returned from your last location and theororizes that you may have fallen into a wormhole. You may be on the other side of the universe.” The emperor paused, anger clear on his desiccated face. “The fates have conspired to take you from our side, Lord Vader and I are anxious that you find a way to return, until that happens trust in what I have taught you, use your aggressive feelings and hold on to your anger, let it feed you, let the dark side grow within you and it will bring you back to me.”
Nemesis nodded, feeling the soothing touch of the shadows. But the message had stirred more in him than he had hoped. How could it be possible that they were receiving a message from two weeks into their future?

“I am departing for Endor tomorrow. Lord Vader will meet me there. If you are on your way back, meet us at Endor, there we will crush the insignificant rebellion and you will be raised as an equal at my side. Together, we will restore order and crush the pitiful lying light side once and for all.” With that, the Emperor’s image faded.

Nemesis remained kneeling for a long moment. How was this possible? He slowly rose and activated a comlink.

“Admiral?”

“My Lord?”

“The quality of the transmission was abominable. Either have your communications officer disciplined or give me an explanation.”

“Actually, My lord, I was waiting for you to finish hearing the message. Our Communications station was running an analysis on the message, in the hopes of discovering the source so we could at least have a general idea in which direction our galaxy lies, the analysis of the transmission has provided some very disturbing information.”

“I have no time for games, Admiral.”

“The message is date tagged two weeks after our disappearance, however, the signal decay and other factors peg the age of the transmission as being…over three thousand years old.”

Nemesis blinked.

“And considering the speed at which holonet transmissions travel…the distance must be nearly impossible to comprehend…at least three thousand years at our fastest hyperspace rate.”

Nemesis shook his head. The words were refusing to sink in.

“In other words my lord, it seems that this transmission originated a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.”







“And that is my report.” Kirk finished. He was standing in the office of Commodore William Chang. Chang was staring at Kirk for a moment too long. Kirk leaned in a little.

“Commodore, I would really appreciate it, if you didn’t do that.” He stage whispered, exchanging a glance with McCoy who was grinning wryly. Spock stood impassively between them.

“I’m sorry, Captain. It’s just..well…you’re Captain James T. Kirk.” Chang replied and kicked himself. He sounded like some teenager gawking at a sports star.

“I am well aware of that Commodore. But I think that my report is far more important than who I am. We are looking at a possible invasion of the Federation by warships the likes of which I have never seen and from what I gather neither have you.” Kirk responded, finding it hard to get used to the reactions from the people and crew of the starbase. He eyed the Commodore’s uniform with some curiosity, how could those things be comfortable? He adjusted his gold shirt slightly.

“Captain, we have our tactical people analyzing your sensor logs as well as the Sagan’s. But from what I could see they pose a definite threat to the Federation not to mention they captured a Starfleet vessel. This is a undoubtably a crisis, but we don’t have much more to go on until we have the data completely analyzed. Then command can send us some reinforcements.”

“Reinforcements? What about the ships on station in this sector? Just pull them off and we can form a small task force, go hunt these ships down and see if we can’t give them a bloody nose.” Kirk replied.

“They will undoubtedly grow bolder if we don’t respond to this attack quickly. There is also the concern that the longer the crew of the Thunderchild is in enemy hands the more information they can extract.” Spock added.

“I’ve known Captain Ochoa for 12 years. He will not tell the enemy anything!” Chang protested.

“Commodore, no man can resist torture for very long, it’s only a matter of time until you break. It is our duty to make sure that Ochoa is not in enemy hands for very long.” Kirk warned.

“Despite the illogic of your contention, Commodore, there is also the fact the enemy has recovered an intact Federation starship’s computer core. It will only be a matter of time until they can download the data.” Spock said.

“Who said anything about torture? Captain Kirk, I know that in your time, things were a little more…rough. But there hasn’t been that kind of treatment of prisoners in this sector for a long time.” Chang said condescendingly. Kirk frowned.

“So you’re answer is to sit on our hands and wait? I’m willing to take the Enterprise out again, we’re on the outskirts of the neutral zone, we recall some of the ships on patrol and we should have enough for a task force.”

“Captain, with all due respect, your Enterprise is over 100 years old and doesn’t have the speed, weapons or power generation to keep up with our ships. It’s best if you stay here at the Starbase until we can come to a decision from command. Besides, there just aren’t enough ships to form a task force available. We need reinforcements from other sectors.”

“Not enough ships?! We’re right by the neutral zone?!” McCoy exclaimed.

“Bones.” Kirk interjected, covering up his own shock at the revelation.

“Doctor McCoy, we just had a war against the Dominion, a power you are not familiar with, the Romulans were our allies in that battle and the Federation counsel has decided that to foster better relations with the Romulans we would pull back the majority of our fleet from neutral zone patrol…besides, the losses Starfleet suffered in the war were near catastrophic, it will take years to replace the men and ships we lost.” Chang replied coolly.

“Commodore, I’ll abide by your decision but I cannot stress further the danger we are in. The power readings Spock took from those ships indicate a weapons power level we have never seen before, they could even take this starbase if they wanted to and we only saw two ships. If they have a fleet tucked away somewhere…I don’t want to think about what could happen. I strongly urge you to do something and soon, or the only one that’s going to have any future in the Federation is my crew, since we’re from the past.” Kirk replied hotly.

“I will take it under advisement, Captain. I cannot stress more that you crew much remain onboard the Enterprise. We cannot risk further contamination of the timeline.”

“I understand, Commodore.” Kirk nodded brusquely and walked away, Spock and McCoy following closely behind. As they walked out of the office, Kirk ignored the gawks and stares from some of the staff and strode out towards the transporter room. As he walked McCoy started talking.

“Jim, we’re not just going to sit on our hands, are we?” McCoy pressed.

“Doctor, the Captain is well aware of his duties to the Federation.” Spock replied wanly.

Kirk began to respond when the entire corridor seemed to flash and there was a slow thumping sound, like the beating of a massive heart. Kirk paused, looking around quickly for signs of an attack. The corridor seemed paler, almost as if he were seeing them through a yellowed lens. Spock and McCoy were standing calmly by his side.

“Did you see that?” Kirk asked.

“I’m sorry Captain Kirk, it took me awhile to get used to it myself.” A voice replied. Kirk whirled around and saw a tall slim dark skinned human. His face was proud and strong, light shone off his shaved head and he had a gleam in his eyes. This person was obviously used to command.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Benjamin Sisko, Captain. I used to be a Federation officer and Captain of a space station called Deep Space Nine.”

“The Sisko spends too much time indulging the Kirk.” McCoy interjected in a flat voice, his eyes vacant and staring at both of them. Kirk stared at McCoy and looked back at Sisko.

“What the hell is going on here?” He demanded.

“Typically, the Kirk grows angry and belligerent.” Spock said in the same flat monotone. His eyes were more intense, they regarded Kirk with an almost distasteful expression.

“The Kirk is like the Sisko, unwilling to listen.”

“Give me a moment to explain. James Kirk is linear as I once was.” Sisko replied calmly. He smiled kindly to Kirk.

“I don’t have much time to explain this to you. Projecting our thoughts this far from the wormhole is never easy and I had to use all my influence to even get them to try.”

“Who are they, Captain?” Kirk asked.

“Prophets, gods, aliens of such advanced state of being that they no longer have an understanding of linear space time. Take your pick” Sisko shrugged. His Starfleet uniform would occasionally melt into a pure white robe, hood draped down. Kirk ignored this and focused on the man’s words.

“I am here to tell you that you must come to Bajor.”

“Bajor?”

“The Sisko is of Bajor.” McCoy/Alien thing said.

“We are of Bajor.” Spock/Alien thing said.

“Where is Bajor? What’s that, a star system?”

“At Bajor you will find the temple of the ancients, in our parlance a wormhole. In this wormhole you must enter and there you will find assistance against your current crisis. The enemy you face is not of this galaxy.”

“The Sisko speaks too much.”

“The Sisko has been told the rules of the game.”

“This isn’t a game! All of reality is at stake, not just the lives of the Federation!” Sisko protested.

“The Sisko WILL comply with the rules.” McCoy spoke.

“Or we will not aid the Kirk.” Spock added.

“You said the Kirk was the key.” Sisko replied softly.

Spock and McCoy glanced at each other with knowing expressions.

“The Kirk is the key, hope rests in him as it rested in you.” Spock rpelied.

“So help me and him. WE can save Bajor and everything else.”

“Your message has been relayed. We will go now.”

Sisko turned to Kirk and gripped his arm tightly, jerking his face close to Kirk’s

“You must come to Bajor or all will be lost, help is already on the way but nothing can be done until you come.”

“I will, I promise.” Kirk replied sternly and returned the captain’s grip.

“You promise what Jim?” McCoy asked curiously.

“Huh? What?”

“You seem in a daze, Captain. Are you well?” Spock asked eying Kirk.

“I’m fine, but we have a mission.”

McCoy and Spock exchanged puzzled expressions.

“Spock do you know of a starsystem named Bajor?” Kirk asked as he stepped into the transporter room. Another man was standing there in one of those odd modern Starfleet uniforms. He was not gawking, but instead was smiling warmly as he saw them enter. His rank seemed to indicate Captain, but Kirk was not up on the latest insignias yet.

“Relatively little, Captain. We have some out of date long range probe data that proved inconclusive. We were planning on dispatching a long range mission into that sector of space but it has been on the drawing board for months.”

“Something tells me we eventually made it to Bajor.” Kirk replied with a mysterious smile.
“Perhaps I can be of assistance, Captain.” The officer replied stepping in beside Kirk.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Captain Entebbe, you saved my ship back there against those alien vessels.”

Kirk brightened.

“Captain of the Sagan?”

“That’s right sir. I’ve been waiting here in the hopes of seeing you, thanking you personally and hell, I juts wanted to meet James Kirk,” he glanced over Kirk’s shoulder to Spock and beamed. “And Mr. Spock, the reason why I went into Starfleet, there’s no better place to sharpen your science skills than here.”

Spock nodded.

“Aren’t we polluting the timeline just by talking to you?” McCoy deadpanned.

Entebbe smiled jovially.

“Seriously, sir. I know where Bajor is and I may know what you want to see. The wormhole, right?”

“How did you know?” Kirk replied.

“That wormhole has been the source of a lot of the Federation’s troubles of late, with the Dominion and all, but it would be an honor to escort you to the system.”

“Aren’t you ordered to stay here?” Kirk asked with a smile.

Entebbe frowned.

“Frankly sir, they’ve forgotten all about us with you being here and all and they’re too busy trying to figure out what to do than worry about a science vessel. If it’s all the same to you, I want to join you on your mission.” Entebbe replied with a emphatic nod.

“Captain, it would be an honor, I just hope you know what you’re doing.” Kirk replied.

“Jim, what in the hell is at Bajor?” McCoy asked in exasperation.

Kirk smiled for a moment.

“Hope.”





The silver eyed player frowned and sat back letting out a small sigh of exasperation. Q smirked as he lounged in the chair opposite the player.

“Didn’t expect them, did you?”

“Who in the hell let the Bajorans in on this?” the player exclaimed.

“Don’t look at me, I’m strictly playing by the rules of the continuum. You’re the one who decided to play holy hell with space time, you know that the Bajorans are masters of non linear thinking and the current crisis this universe is going through is making them more powerful because they understand what is happening. All the twists and turns space/time is making right now is like music to them.” Q made a face as if he had tasted something sour. “They were always an odd bunch.”

“Nevertheless, the game continues, and even the Bajorans know that there are certain rules to be followed.”

“Indeed.” Q replied neutrally and examined the board. More pieces had appeared, some were in motion across the board, the Emperor’s Will had taken the pawn representing the Romulans and was now threatening the center of the board.

“They are going to be hell to defeat you know. I wonder if the Federation has it in them?” Q wondered aloud.

“Doubtful, they’re woefully over matched.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

“Where is he going and what are the Bajorans planning?” the player wondered, rubbing his chin, his silver eyes flashed as they focused on the piece shaped like a Constitution class cruiser.

“He’ll prove to be more difficult than you think.” Q added innocently.

The silver eyes flashed up and stared at Q.

“He’s resourceful and already a living legend.” Q continued and toyed with an edge of the 3-D chessboard.

“I don’t care what you think about Jim, he’s –”the silver eyed player paused for a second as if he had said something he was not supposed to. “Kirk is just human, in the end he is as mortal-“

“As you once were?” Q interjected.

“That is irrelevant.” The silver eyed player responded.

Q was about to reply when they both stopped and seemed to be listening to something, cocking their heads as if listening to a far away explosion.

“Did you feel that?” The player asked. Q nodded slowly. “Two galaxies just like that.” The player snapped his fingers.

“The universe is definitely contracting faster than we anticipated.” Q replied warily.

“The game is going to have to be accelerated soon, or we could just be gone from one breath to the next…the world will end not in a bang but in silence. Absolute oblivion.” The player stated and rested his chin on one hand and stared at the board contemplating his next move.

So did Q.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:03pm
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Chapter 8: Command Decisions


Darth Nemesis stood at the head of the large conference table. Seated around the table were the captains of his fleet. 26 seats were filled, one was empty, the Captain of The Izman had been lost during their engagements with the Borg. The Star Destroyer captains sat together, nearest the head of the table, where Admiral Kittaine sat holding court. Captain Branna sat to his immediate right and to his left sat Captain Tarsi, who was eyeing Branna with barely restrained anger. Branna shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny, deciding that perhaps his little joke at Tarsi’s expense had not been such a good idea at all.

“I will not lie to you, aside from the fact that I am sure that you have already found out the truth from your eyes in ears here on the Emperor’s Will. We are far from home and out of out time.” Kittaine began.

Some of the captains exchanged furtive glances.

“Nevertheless we are Imperial officers and we will act accordingly. Now is not the time to let discipline slip.” Kittaine warned.

“Admiral if I may.” a woman’s voice spoke up. Kittaine nodded.

“Captain Belladonna?”

Belladonna, captain of the Relentless, was the only female captain in the entire room, she was tall and lean, her dark eyes were always calm and cautious. She never spoke loudly, never tried to stand out from the crowd of commanders. Many that had served with her compared her to one of the great cats. She seemed quiet and lazy, but when the hunt was on she was a fury. Belladonna had come to accept the fact that she would not ascend much higher in the ranks, one of the few female star destroyer captains in the empire, she was resigned to never commanding a fleet or ascending to Admiral. However, she was a consummate professional officer and she absolutely refused to ply her charms to get ahead. Not that Kittaine would ever accept such offers, the man viewed them all as family. It would be akin to a beloved daughter attempting to seduce the father.

He had protected her and nurtured her on her rise up the ranks. She owed him much and would, as any other officer here, gladly lay down her life for the Admiral. As for the black clad boy that stood behind Kittaine…he was another matter altogether.

“If it is true that we have been flung 3,000 years into our future and far away from home, is there a point to this exercise of obtaining data from the Federation regarding wormholes and the like? Why not simply conquer this entire galaxy? The natives here are ridiculously primitive, we could destroy their assembled fleets in several engagements, and have a new empire to call our own.”

Several of the captains nodded their heads in agreement. Kittaine frowned.

“Let me answer that question. The emperor’s last message was an order to return as soon as possible so that we could join in a final battle that would destroy the rebellion. I intend to follow my master’s orders to the letter as should you all if you are loyal Imperial Officers.” Nemesis replied sternly, eyeing each commander in turn.

Some of the commanders grumbled, not taking kindly to the veiled insult.

“I was merely pointing out a possibility.”

“There will be time for conquest soon enough. But Lord Nemesis is correct. We must find a way back home. The probe droids we have dispatched in the last few days have begun transmitting. This galaxy, while large and open for conquest, is lacking in some very necessary materials for our technology to continue to thrive. Luckily, tibanna gas is rather abundant here, a byproduct of mining one of their most precious resources, a crystal called Dilithium, so our weapons systems will remain fueled, but there seems to be no raw materials for us to build more dura-armor. Neutronium forges are no where to be found. This will makes thing harder for us as time goes on. The technological base of our foes is such that we will spend decades trying to bring it up to a standard that we can be comfortable about.”

“First thing to go are those damned warp cores.” Tarsi spat. “Did you know that those things are prone to explode for any reason? The Federation ship I captured very nearly exploded before we could secure her and my technicians were forced to baby sit the damned thing until we got here and finally shut it down.” Tarsi complained, shoving a pen away from him to show his disgust.

“We ran across a similar problem when we fired the superlaser, their reactor system on the entire continent started exploding.” Branna added then instantly kicked himself as Tarsi openly glared at him from across the table. He just HAD to bring up the sorest point of all…Tarsi had missed the firing of the superlaser.

“In the end, we will eventually degrade down to their level, our systems will run down, our spare parts will run dry and we will have to start making due with what technology is readily available.” Kittaine added thoughtfully.

“By the emperor I will certainly not serve on a vessel that is essentially a flying bomb!” Tarsi exclaimed.

“I think we are all in agreement with Captain Tarsi.” Captain Jan-Her added. He was the commander of the Executioner and a life long friend of Tarsi’s. They went to the academy together, served on the same ships and now they captained vessels in the same fleet. He was the second part of the triumvirate as many commanders in the fleet dubbed them. The three finest stardestroyers in the fleet, given the duty of always taking the lead in battle.

“Our greatest concern becomes how then do we make for home? I do not relish hyperspacing for three thousand years and arriving six thousand years out of time.” Captain Vash added in a soft whisper. He was the third leg of the triumvirate. Commander of the stardestroyer Inexorable, he never spoke above a low whisper, some said that it was because of an old war wound inflicted by rebels, others said he simply did it for dramatic effect. If labels could be applied to these three capable commanders, Vash was the thinker.

“And I do believe that we have an answer to that problem.” Nemesis replied, waving someone in. Two stormtroopers escorted in Admiral T’Vok and Mara Jade. The stormtroopers snapped to attention and stood by the doors. T’Vok strode up to the table without fear and stood at attention, letting the assembled Imperial commanders stare at him for a long moment. He did not flinch from the attention, only noting a slight ripple of unease form some of them as they recognized that he was not human.

“Commanders, I present to you Admiral T’Vok of the Romulan Star Empire. He is the liaison of the Romulan government and I have just appointed him overall commander of all Romulan armed forces.”

T’Vok nodded to the assembled humans.

“I am here to serve.” he replied evenly. The shame of the defeat was still sending ripples through Command, hundreds of officers had committed suicide over the last two days. T’Vok was trying to stop the flood of such brash actions. He believed in the superiority of the Romulan people and culture, now this empire had arrived out of nowhere and taken from them that pride and sense of purpose and destiny. But T’Vok would not allow them to take his own personal pride. He could bend but he would not break.

“Admiral, please tell us what you told me.”

“There is a race that can help you in your quest for a wormhole back to your world.”

“Oh? I thought the Federation was our best chance at that.” Tarsi replied wanly.

“They are part of the federation and they would be the ones the Federation would turn to if they were confronted with the same question.” Some of the commanders were leaning in, listening more closely.

“They are a race of scientists, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. They are the Federation’s scientist’s caste if you wish to look at it that way.”

“Odd, our current review of Federation records from the Thunderchild’s computer core does not indicate a caste system.” Branna interjected.

“The Federation likes to delude itself into thinking that it is something more than what it actually is, a benign dictatorship that classifies its citizens by the skills they seem to gravitate to. Humans are the warriors of the Federation for example.”

“So, you see, we have a resource to tap. Imagine an entire world of scientists, dedicated to one goal, finding a way back to the empire.” Nemesis declared.

“When do we begin?” Tarsi replied with a wolfish grin after a moment of silence from the assembled commanders.

Nemesis glanced down at Tarsi and smiled in return.

“Captain Tarsi, I have decided to give you the honor of leading the attack that brings this world under our domination.” Tarsi nodded to Nemesis, flashing Branna a smile.

“You and Captain Jan-Her will lead the attack on the planet, I will give you all the ground troops you need. There is one major caveat.”

“My Lord?”

“I want civilian casualties kept to an absolute minimum. I want the planet taken relatively intact, you are not authorized for orbital strikes against any facilities that are scientifically orientated, only military structures may be destroyed with impunity.”

There was a shadow of disappointment on Tarsi’s face that was barely perceptible unless one was looking closely before he nodded in agreement.

“Of course, my lord.”

“If I may ask, where will the rest of the fleet be while Tarsi is covering himself in glory?” Belladonna asked pointedly.

“We will be otherwise occupied, Captain. In reference to this, I want all commands to run battle readiness drills until further notice.” Kittaine answered. The commanders exchanged knowing glances and Tarsi started to look suspicious.

“You do realize of course, My lord that standard Imperial protocol calls for three Stardestroyers to be deployed for maximum effect during planetary assault?” Jan-Her asked casually.

“Indeed, I am well aware of standard Imperial policy, which is why I am giving you extra assets to assist you in the operations.” Nemesis replied coolly.

Tarsi looked up in interest.

“The Romulan fleet is going to make its first appearance as our allies in battle. The Romulans are familiar with the target area and the people so they will provide on site intelligence and advice. Their ships will also help plug any gaps that an extra stardestroyer would have done in their stead.”

Tarsi frowned slightly.

“I’m going on a planetary assault mission with provincial forces.” He muttered to Jan-Her who nodded slowly and eyed T’Vok disdainfully.

“How well do you know the target system?” Tarsi asked sharply.

“It has been the focus of many of our missions in the past. It will be a homecoming of sorts for us all.”

Tarsi nodded slowly.

“I am glad to see we are all in agreement.” Kittaine cut in, giving Tarsi a measured glance. Tarsi took the hint and quieted down.

Tarsi was a good commander, without a doubt his finest warrior, but he had the political and diplomatic sense of a stone. Tarsi was like the family’s favorite guard dog, ready to attack and pounce but knew much of nothing else. Kittaine still loved him like a son, there is no one else that he trusted more to guard his flank during a crisis, which was why he was unhappy with nemesis’ choice of Tarsi for the assault. The other mission was far more dangerous to the entire fleet and he would have been far more at ease knowing that the Adjudicator would be in front guarding the fleet as it always had.

“We shall begin briefing on the planetary assault mission, pay close attention admiral T’Vor, your fleet will be supporting Tarsi and Tarsi does not hesitate to wade into battle, he will need to be certain that you and your men know their part.” Kittaine announced. Tarsi nodded to himself. Kittaine always watched out for him, knew his concerns. Kittaine was letting him know in his far more diplomatic way that he agreed that Tarsi should not be attacking with a provincial fleet guarding his flank. But he was an Imperial officer and he did as he was told.

T’Vor nodded slowly, fighting the urge to scream at this human that he had led entire Romulan fleets into battle, how dare he treat him like a raw conscript. But he held in his anger, he lit it simmer and he watched, because in the end, there would be a final resolution to a question that had troubled his people for centuries.

Nemesis held out his hand and a hologram sprang up on the table. The commanders all focused on the yellow arid world.

“Commanders of the empire, I present to you our new target. The Federation world: Vulcan.” Nemesis declared.






“I can’t believe that they’re not killing us.” Jason Archer breathed. On the screen there were hundreds of cubes, spheres, tactical cubes, more ships than any Federatioon vessel had ever seen in one place.

“Seven?” Janeway asked from the science station, she kept one eye on the sensor readouts. They were gathering more information on this Borg fleet than any other starship before, even Voyager. The Borg were not bothering to jam them at all, in fact the Borg were ignoring them completely.

“A fleet of this size has never been gathered before as far as I know. The fact that they are ignoring us is telling. We are regarded as unworthy to even assimilate. We are not worth the energy or effort.”

“We’re one of the top line Federation warships, what is there about us not to assimilate?” Archer replied incredulously.

“It would seem to indicate that the Borg have found something else far more important or powerful to assimilate.” Seven replied with an arched eyebrow. He found himself staring at her a moment too long and turned away quickly.

“What do you think, Captain Janeway?” Archer asked.

She frowned slightly and looked down at her senor readings.

“I think that this is an intelligence coup for us. I’m getting data we never had before concerning the Borg. It is as if they have just turned all their attentions to their new target and we no longer exist.” She looked up at the screen. A transwarp conduit opened on the far side of the fleet and a dozen more tactical cubes flashed out, coasting to a quick stop. “But whatever it is, it must be powerful beyond belief. The Borg are not ones to worry about losses when it comes to assimilation. This new target must be nearly unassailable.”

“This fleet is larger than any single fleet that ever engaged species 8472.” Seven added, and eyed the captain curiously as he made a diligent effort not to look in her the eye.

“What in the world?!” Janeway exclaimed. On the screen several tactical cubes had slowly gathered together and now they were docking with each other, one tactical cube against the other. More tactical cubes began the docking process, stacking up on top of one another or sliding in to the side. Before long over 100 tactical cubes had merged together and there was an enormous single cube floating nearby.

“Power readings are off the scale on that cube.” Janeway reported, not believing what she was seeing.

Seven however looked more resigned than anything else.

“Do you know what that is?” Archer asked, noticing Seven’s lack of surprise.

“That is a Strategic cube. The Borg rarely need to create one, in fact it has only been created three time in the entire history of the Borg. The strategic cube is designed to obliterate worlds or subjugate entire quadrants. They are extremely power and drone intensive, the Borg have rarely seen need to create more than one or two, One is always on patrol near Unimatrix 001.”

“What sort of weapons are we talking about?”

Seven frowned.

“A tactical cube’s upper offensive capabilities have never been tested. I imagine them to be on the order of several hundred tactical cubes in offensive capability, if not more. The links between ships allow for a greater power generation capability through the use of subspace accelerators than the individual cubes combined.”

“So it’s not as if that strategic cube has the capabilities of a hundred tactical cubes, it is a quantum leap up in power and weapons.” Janeway added.

“Indeed.”

“This is not good.” Archer muttered.

“Why have you never told me this before?” Janeway asked seriously.

“You never asked.” Seven replied calmly. Janeway frowned. “The chances that we would encounter a strategic cube were infinitesimal. I saw no need to alarm you or burden you with useless information.” Seven added.

Archer stared up at the screen, chin resting on one hand, elbow on the command seat’s armrest. He breathed softly for a moment, weighing his next decision carefully.

“I think we should stay. The data that we are gathering is invaluable to the Federation. Who knows what this could lead to? Perhaps this new power is something we can deal with, something we can bargain with and maybe even form an alliance.”

“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.” Janeway warned with a soft smile.

“Of course, Captain.” Archer sighed heavily and rubbed his eyes.

“You could use some rest, you’ve had the con now for over two shifts. Whatever is going to happen, some sleep won’t hurt.”

“Would you have taken that advice if Voyager were in the middle of a Borg armada like this? With those…strategic cubes out there!” Archer replied, indicating the fleet on screen.

Janeway nodded sagely.

“When I was younger, no, but you have a captain here on the bridge right now that is relatively fresh, and I wouldn’t mind holding the fort for you while you grabbed some sleep. Besides, my sensors just picked up more than half the fleet going into regeneration mode. Whatever it is that they’re going to do, they want to be well rested for it.” Janeway replied and gently motioned for Archer to go to the turbolift.

“I’m doing this under protest.” He replied sardonically as he took one last look back at the screen. His eyes drifted over Seven for a heartbeat before he made his way to his turbolift.

“Your protest is duly noted.” Janeway called out after him as he leaned his head against the wall of the turbolift while the doors closed. Janeway watched the turbolift for a moment then looked over at Seven.

“Why do I get the feeling that the strategic cube should be more frightening to us?” she asked her.

Seven glanced back at the screen before answering.

“The fact that they have assembled a strategic cube and they also have this massive armada to assist it tells me one very important thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Perhaps resistance is not so futile after all.” She answered.






The bridge of the Valhalla was immaculate and clean. The crewmen moved around in an odd clockwork like precision, odd until you noticed that they were all replicas of Data. The bridge stations of this Refit Sovereign class cruiser were more streamlined and centralized. The tactical station was by far, the largest of the bridge stations. A panoramic display was built around the station, giving the crewman a holographic 3 dimensional view of the battleground. All sensors were tied into the tactical station giving the crewman unparallel access to information on their target and location. There was no science station. This was a warship, plain and simple. This was not an odd compromise between science and war that had marked the development of Starfleet vessels since nearly the beginning.

Even the captain’s chair had small tactical displays at the ends of the armrests that allowed for a quick 360 degree view of all that was going on around his ship. He took quick note of the changes down to this new class of Sovereigns, or as Durant was found of saying, the “true” Sovereign, the way ity was originally designed before Starfleet got its hands on the design and tried to make it more, acceptable, to the Federation.

Instead of the single torpedo turret positioned under the primary hull, there were three such turrets, one slung under the main deflector dish, one sitting on the aft hull. It gave the Valhalla a definite boost in firepower. There were extra phaser banks placed strategically around the ship and the warp core he had inspected pumped out more power, power that was directed to the offensive systems. This vessel lacked the labs and family facilities that most Federation ships had. It was a weapon of singular purpose. Part of Picard was offended by the design emphasis. He truly believed that the Federation was different than many of their more belligerent neighbors. The existence of a ship of this kind made it seem like they were not so different as he wanted to believe.

“Are you sure about this?” Durant asked him. He was standing by Picard who was sitting in the command chair watching his “crew” commit final checks.

“Yes, I am Captain Durant.” Picard replied.

Durant eyed R-7 and leaned in close to Picard.

“They’re not designed to be…creative. They’re extremely limited in their roles. I have reservations about you taking one of the androids as a first officer.” He whispered.

Picard smiled.

“He is a familiar face, Captain.”

Durant frowned heavily but nodded.

“As you wish, captain. R-7 is fully briefed on all the new weapons and defensive systems we’ve installed. The fleet is gathering and we should be ready to launch in 1 hour.”

“I’ll be ready to Captain. Do we have any more information regarding your informants from Romulas?”

Durant nodded.

“It’s been confirmed by one of our deep range spy probes that the Romulan Empire has surrendered to this new enemy force. They are massively powerful Picard and they have a weapon of mass destruction that can crack continents with a single shot.”

“They could be more powerful than the Borg.” Picard breathed.

“That’s why I’m not charging in, phasers blazing.” Durant replied solemnly. Picard eyed him humorously.

“Really?”

“Let’s just say that I have taken the advice of a man far wiser,” he nudged Picard. “And older than I.”

Picard smirked.

“That is good news Captain. When the time comes, the Valhalla and I will be ready to join you.”

Durant smiled.

“I’m sorry about the name, captain, but the Shadow fleet’s founder had a thing about Norse Mythology.”

“I noticed. It could be worse, he could have enjoyed Aztec culture or all our ships’ names would be quite a mouthful.” Picard replied. Durant laughed and started to walk away, he paused and turned to R-7.

“Watch out for him, R-7. You have a big responsibility.”

“I am well aware of my responsibilities as first officer. I am the first of my model to be given this post. I shall endeavor to complete my duties to the best of my abilities.”

“I have no doubt, R-7.” Picard replied fondly.

“Captain, see you on the flipside.” Durant said and walked off the bridge.

“The flip side, Captain?” R-7 asked innocently.

“Not important, R-7.” Picard paused and smiled mischievously. “You heard everything he said about you, didn’t you?”

“My aural sensors are far more sensitive than the human norm. I’m sure Captain Durant did not mean for me to hear the words. I of course took no offense and in fact agree with him.”

“Oh?”

“I have downloaded a complete database of our tactical systems as well as tactical and strategic treatises and texts. While I can imitate any strategy that has ever been committed to writing, I have no facilities to create one on my own.” R-7 explained matter of factly.

“We never know what we are capable of until we experience it, R-7.” Picard replied warmly.

“I precisely know my limitations, Captain.” R-7 replied without hesitation.

“We shall see, R-7. Now let’s take a look at our fleet.”

“Aye, Captain.”

The view screen activated and Picard stared at the armada that was gathering behind his ship. The Valhalla was nearly dwarfed by the flagship of the shadow fleet, the Bunker Hill. Behind them, hundreds of starships were slipping from their gantries or berths. They were all dangerous, up gunned versions of their Starfleet counterparts, armed with 27th century technology and ready to fight for the Federation. Picard nodded to himself.
When the command came, the Federation would have to let slip the dogs of war and he had no doubt that when that happened, they would indeed be the Federation’s avenging angels, to use Durant’s metaphor.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:04pm
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Chapter 9: Vulcan’s Forge


The planetary defense network of Vulcan did not realize that they were under attack until the long range subspace relay was destroyed by a quick salvo from the Adjudicator as it flashed out of hyperspace, followed closely by the Executioner. The two stardestroyers raced to Vulcan not stopping or slowing down at all.

The planet loomed ahead as well as the small defensive fleet that had been stationed there since the end of the Dominion war. A collection of a dozen starships were now facing the stardestroyers.

“Status?” Tarsi snapped as he stood facing the view port, hands clasped behind his back.

“We are receiving hails from the planet and the fleet in orbit.”

“Let them eat static. Close in on the planet, tell the Executioner to begin the turn now, we will meet in high orbit and squeeze that fleet between us.”

“Aye captain.”

The planet loomed closer, the starships standing out now like bright stars. Targeting data was generated on each ship and Tarsi grinned with satisfaction as he caught sight of the Executioner rapidly swinging in on the other side of the fleet. The starships began to scramble into a tight defensive position. Tarsi shook his head.

“Fools.” He hissed.

“Federation fleet is giving us one last chance before they are forced to open fire.” The communications officer reported, a slight tremor in his voice, as if he were stifling a laugh.

Tarsi smiled viciously.

“Let’s not keep them waiting, open fire.”

The Adjudicator coasted in close to the wall of Federation starships and suddenly a storm of green turbolaser fire erupted from her hull, followed seconds later by a devastating salvo from the Executioner.

Starships were exploding in rapid succession as their shields were instantly overwhelmed by the massive volleys, many of their captains unable to give a single order before the ships were torn completely apart. The defensive wall suddenly broke as the surviving starships pealed away from each other, streams of angry red phaser fire and photon torpedoes exploding out at the stardestroyers.

Tarsi sneered at the explosive display on his shields.

“Now they break formation?” He turned to his weapons pit. They all had looks of barely restrained joy on their faces. Tarsi’s aggressive nature was contagious and his crew soon shared his warlike spirit.

“Teach them what it means to oppose the Empire, boys.”

“Aye captain.” They replied eagerly.

“Executioner reports weapons fire from the surface, it is light and intermittent. Looks like some form of torpedo launchers.”

“Tell Captain Jan-Her to begin orbital bombardment of defensive facilities.”

“Acknowledged.”

Tarsi turned back to the view port in time to watch one of the starships break apart, one nacelle blasted off by a turbolaser strike, another nacelle ripped away by a flack burst from his heavy turbolasers then one last blast dead center destroyed the ship, all shots in rapid succession.

“Status of Federation defensive fleet?”

“Three starships remain, one is badly damaged and limping away, and the other two are breaking away trying to engage their warp drives.”

“Keep flak fire on the fleet, it should keep them from going to warp, deploy the 14th squadron to finish them. Prepare to enter orbit and assist Executioner in the bombardment.”

“Sir! Picking up transmission from provincial forces, eight starships have just come out of warp on the far side of Vulcan. They are using the planet’s sensor shadow to close with us undetected.”

Tarsi nodded.

“Perhaps they are not completely incompetent. It matters not. Tell our allies to deal with those starships. Communications send a transmission to Vulcan.”

“Ready sir.”

Tarsi stood imperiously, hands clasped behind his back.

“People of the planet Vulcan, you are currently under attack by forces of the Galactic Empire. In the name of the emperor, stand down and surrender or we will commence general bombardment of your civilian population centers. Your Federation security forces have proven completely impotent against our might. Resistance will only cause millions of deaths, surrender insures survival.” T’Vok had stressed that any communications with the Vulcans should lay things out logically. Their entire society seemed to be devoted to logic. What did one expect from scientists?

“You have two minutes to comply or the bombardment begins with your capital city and continues outward until the crust of your planet is ripped apart underneath your feet. Feel free to scan the ships in orbit and you will see that we have more than enough power to deliver on this threat. The time begins running as soon as this transmission is over.” Tarsi nodded to his communications officer and the holoimager switched off.

“We’re being scanned, sir.”

“Good.”

“Sir, I am forced to remind you that Lord Nemesis was extremely clear that no attack on population or civilian facilities was authorized.” His XO said lowly. Tarsi nodded.

“I know, but they don’t know that, Commander. If they truly honor logic they will see that they have absolutely no choice. Logical people are not suicidal.”

“Sir, provincial forces are signaling that they are engaging Federation starships.”

“Excellent, let’s see what they can do.”




Eight starships were quickly racing along Vulcan, closing rapidly with the invaders.

“This is Captain Helando, divert all power to weapons and prepare to deliver and alpha strike to the lead starship. Maybe we can knock out their shields if we catch them by surprise. Follow my lead and focus our fire on the same target. It may be our only hope in taking them down.”

As the starships crossed the terminator into day a dozen enormous green warbirds shimmered into view surrounding the Federation ships.

They did not wait, the warbirds unleashed a withering barrage of fire and the Federation starships broke formation, most badly damaged, venting plasma and debris. The return fire was precise and powerful. Several warbirds were forced out of position, one was slowly plummeting down to the planet, power systems destroyed.

“Concentrate your fire on that Akira, Warclaw and Steelwing drop back and cut off the Federation avenue of escape.” T’Vok ordered calmly as he deployed his fleet to counter the Federation attack. He had hoped to have struck a more decisive blow with their first salvo, but unfortunately that was not the case. Federation starships were becoming far more resilient, the D’Derix class warbirds were an aging design. Unfortunately, the Romulan Empire simply lacked the resources to replace or refit the fleet. They had nearly bankrupted themselves building the massive warbird fleet. The praetor who created this fleet had been obsessed with creating the largest ships and largest fleet in the galaxy. He had succeeded but it had crippled the empire for more than a generation.

He secretly hoped that one day, despite their shame, this empire may pull them out of the slow decay they had suffered for so long. But they would have to be taught that Romulans were not just provincials.

One of the starships exploded as the fleet started to find its range. Several torpedoes exploded on his forward screens, rocking the ship. T’Vok held onto his command chair.

“I want this battle over, now!” He spat.

“Calling in reinforcements.” His XO snapped and nodded to the communications officer. Several more warbirds declaoked further out and started immediately firing into the center of the firefight.

Soon enough, the Federation ships were reduced to debris and plasma. One starship limped along, a nacelle destroyed and a massive hole in its primary hull.

“Should we destroy it?” His XO asked.

T’Vok stared at the maimed starship. He briefly considered destroying the vessel, he had the seen the horrors inflicted on the captured starship crew back on Romulas. It would be a mercy. But he also decided that it would gain his fleet a little more respect if they could provide more sources of information for the empire.

“Finish off the engines and board her. I want to present Captain Tarsi with some prisoners.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

To have come to this….proving to another captain that his fleet and people were worthy allies. Why did he lie to himself? We are nothing more than glorified slaves.




“Time is up in ten seconds, captain.”

“Are they going to call our bluff?” His XO asked.

“If they decide to, then we’ll have to do this the hard way. Are the assault transports loaded and ready?”

“Yes captain.”

“Captain, transmission from the planet’s surface.”

“Go ahead.”

“This is Jaren of Vulcan. Your weapons are indeed powerful enough to do as you threaten, our defensive fleet has been destroyed in an unprecedented and unwarranted act of violence.” “Just get to the point.” Tarsi muttered to himself. “We therefore see no other logical alternative than to surrender in order to avoid genocidal actions on your part. We are standing down and switching off all defensive systems. However, I do have one concern.”

Tarsi arched an eyebrow. He nodded to his communications officer who opened a channel.

“This is Captain Toman Tarsi, please relate this concern, and be quick about it. If you are trying to buy time for those eight starships to round your planet be advised that our provincial forces have dealt with them.” Tarsi replied curtly.

“Captain Tarsi, we are well aware of the Romulan treachery in this action, however my concern is more of a long term one. Considering that your society obviously has no care about civilian populations and the casualties your actions may cause we are concerned that our population will suffer horribly when Starfleet counterattacks begin. You must realize that this action will be considered an act of war by the United Federation of Planets and they will react accordingly.”

“I am aware of the possibility of counterattack and in fact welcome the chance to vaporize more of your valiant Starfleet.” Tarsi replied coldly.

There was a brief pause on the other end of the line as if the response had been unexpected.

“The question then turns to retaliation.”


“Ah, you are concerned that we will retaliate against your population should the Federation attack?”

“Correct.”

“Do not be concerned, Jaren, once an enemy system has surrendered to the Empire we consider you part of our territory. Your people and world will be protected by the Imperial fleet from now on. And I assure you, we will do a far better job than your ineffectual Starfleet.” Tarsi replied.

“I see. Then there is nothing else to discuss. Vulcan surrenders to your forces.” Jaren replied coolly. There was no sense of emotion in his inflection. Perhaps the Romulans had not been exaggerating when they said the Vulcans had abandoned emotion in lieu of logic.

“Excellent. Prepare to receive our forces which will commence landing operations immediately. We will have a list of scientists and mathematicians, your world’s finest I believe. They are to report to your largest science facility for a special project that is to commence immediately. Inform your citizens to go on with their lives as they have before, the only thing that will change for now are the flags fluttering overhead, otherwise you are now a protectorate of the Galactic Empire.”

“It shall be done. Jaren out.”

Tarsi stood quietly for a moment, head bowed in thought.

“Sir?”

“Victory, my friend, a bloodless one at that. An entire world taken, our cause advances and we are one step closer to being home.”

“Then why do you look so glum?” His XO asked.

Tarsi scowled.

“There is no challenge. We slaughtered them like children. I’ve had better fights against half starved rebels then against this “Starfleet”.” He spat the word like venom. He turned and looked out the view port at the world he had just won for the empire.

“Is there no one in this galaxy that can challenge me?”







“Captain James T. Kirk of the Enterprise, that’s correct, NCC 1701, no A or any other letter in the alphabet. I am requesting permission to enter the wormhole immediately.” Kirk replied to the skeptical communications officer of Deep Space Nine.

“Jim, quite frankly, that HAS to be the ugliest space station I have ever seen.” McCoy muttered.

“I don’t know, kind of looks like K-7 don’t you think?” Kirk needled.

“You only say that because we were just there a little while ago, I swear, we’re still finding those little fur balls in the damndest places.” McCoy replied.

The screen shimmered again and a beautiful young woman was on the screen, she was short, short black hair, and spots running all the way from her head down her neck.

“This is Ezri Dax of Deep Space Nine. I was informed that you’re claiming to be Captain James T. Kirk. That museum piece of a starship is a nice….touch.” Her voice trailed off as she focused on Kirk’s face. McCoy grinned smugly.

“What in the world is going on? What are you doing here? Sir.” She added hastily.

“Well, Why I’m here is a question that we’re still trying to answer, what I want o do now, is enter the wormhole.” Kirk replied.

People were starting to crowd around Ezri, staring over her at the screen. Some were pointing and whispering loudly. Kirk took it all in stride.

“A guy could get used to that.” McCoy whispered. Kirk shot him an annoyed glare.

Ezri snapped her head around.

“Do you MIND?”

The crowd very reluctantly began to disperse.

“Sir, entry to the wormhole is restricted by order of the Federation counsel. The wormhole leads to the Gamma quadrant and Dominion space. We just had a rather bloody war against them and we don’t want to do anything that could provoke them again. Traffic is restricted to sanctioned scientific missions or errands of mercy.”

“I understand that, Lieutenant Dax, but this is an errand of mercy in many ways. It seems that the Federation has been attacked by an unknown alien menace. I have been in contact with certain parties that have informed me that some answers to this alien menace lies within the wormhole. I don’t have any intentions of passing through the wormhole and entering contested space.” Kirk replied calmly but flashed his infamous smile. McCoy fought the urge to roll his eyes.

She blinked and it seemed like she was blushing.

“Sir, I have no knowledge of these events, but I am under strict orders.” She paused as if just realizing something. “Sir, did you say that you were contacted by someone?”

“That’s correct,” Kirk leaned forward as it dawned on him as well. Sisko had been in command of this very station. “Someone whom you might have known.”

“Benjamin?” She whispered.

Kirk nodded.

Ezri grinned.

“I knew it!” She glanced around suddenly aware that she had said it too loudly. She turned back to the screen. “I know I’m not supposed to do this, thankfully Captain Benteen is down on Bajor doing a survey, so I’m going to turn a blind eye captain, but whatever you do, make it quick.”

Kirk nodded.

“I understand completely, Lieutenant. And thank you so much.”

“My pleasure captain. Maybe after all this excitement is over you can come aboard and tell us a story or two over drinks.”

“Much obliged, I think I’ll have to take you up on that offer.” Kirk replied with a boyish smile.

McCoy grumbled something under his breath.

Suddenly there was commotion behind Ezri and communications officer hurried down to Ezri, handing her a report and whispering in her ear. Ezri frowned.

“Never rains but it pours.” McCoy whispered.

“Don’t you have sick people to attend to?” Kirk stage whispered in return.

McCoy frowned.

“Uh, Captain, I have direct orders from Starfleet command to detain the Enterprise and the science vessel Sagan. It seems that you left Starbase 109 without permission of Commodore Chang. He has demanded that you be detained to halt any more contamination of the timeline. Three starships will be here in six hours to escort you back to Starbase 109.”

“Three? They have three starships to bring me back but none to try and rescue Captain Ochoa?” Kirk replied hotly.

“These are my orders, sir. I’m sorry. I’m sending the runabouts Danube and Rhine to escort you into docking bay 12. There you will hold until the starships arrive.”

“Two small shuttle craft type vessels approaching.” Spock reported evenly.

“Understood, lieutenant Dax. I guess we’ll have that drink a lot sooner than I thought.” He replied coolly.

“I’m sorry sir.” She replied hesitantly and switched off the channel.

Kirk turned to Uhura.

“Get the captain of the Sagan, tight beam.”

“Aye Aye sir.”

“Time until those runabouts get here?”

“They will be in range in two minutes.”

Kirk turned to face the screen as Captain Entebbe appeared.

“The word captain?” Entebbe asked.

“The word is no, I am therefore going anyway.” He replied.

“We’ll be right behind you, sir.” Entebbe replied grimly.

“Captain, I can’t ask you to take this risk with me.”

“Sir, with all due respect, we’ve been with you from the beginning and we’re not going to turn back now. The Federation is under attack and it seems like you and I are the only ones who see the threat clearly.” Entebbe replied sternly.

Kirk nodded slowly.

“Well, I guess then there’s no talking you out of it, make for the wormhole, full impulse.”

“Acknowledged, Captain.” Entebbe replied.

The Enterprise and the Sagan rotated and began advancing on the wormhole.

“Sir, we’re receiving frantic hails from both the runabouts and DS9. They’re demanding that we stand down.”

“We didn’t hear that, Uhura, too much interference.”

“Yes sir.” She answered with a small smile.

“Runabouts closing fast…they’re arming weapons.”

Kirk nodded but his face remained impassive as he watched the spot where the wormhole lay loom on screen.

“We are 20 seconds from the wormhole.” Sulu reported.

“Runabouts are 10 seconds from interception.” Spock reported.

The bridge was silent as they continued forward.

“Shields keptain?” Chekov asked lowly.

“No, Mr. Chekov, let’s make those boys have to fire on an unshielded vessel.” Kirk responded.

“Runabouts sending one last warning, captain.”

Kirk nodded.

“5 seconds to wormhole.”

“Torpedoes inbound!” Spock warned.

The bridge crew braced themselves, but they passed several meters between the Sagan and the Enterprise and exploded. The vessels shook but there was no damage.

“Warning shots.” Sulu surmised.

“We are at the wormhole’s event horizon.”

The screen flashed, nearly blinding the bridge crew as the wormhole opened. The Enterprise and the Sagan plunged into the wormhole and as quickly as it exploded open it flashed close leaving the two runabouts in pursuit to coast to a stop.

Ezri rested her head on one hand and sighed heavily.

“This is going to be a long day.” She muttered.







Archer sat at the mess hall table slowly sipping on his rather strong coffee. He was staring at the table top lost in thought. Janeway’s latest sensor logs were neatly piled by his side. He had read through them and as she predicted absolutely nothing had happened while he slept save that several more cubes had come in to join the fleet. The Borg had continued ignoring them completely.

Someone slid into the seat opposite him at the table. He looked up and nearly did a double take.

“Captain.” Seven acknowledged him casually and started writing something on a datapad.

“Seven.” He answered and seemed to be weighing something. “Uh, how is it that you came by us on this mission?” He asked and winced. Yeah, real smooth, you’re a regular James Kirk.

Seven looked up from her writing and eyed him curiously.

“You requested my presence on this mission.” She replied flatly.

“Oh, yeah. Frankly, I didn’t think you would come. You made it pretty clear you wanted nothing else to do with Starfleet.” He answered with a smile. Seven eyed him critically.

“My position on Starfleet has not changed, however a Borg threat to the Federation cannot be ignored. I know them intimately and I could be of assistance.” She added.

“Hmm, imminently logical.”

“And you?” She asked.

“Me? I’m just a young captain trying to learn the ropes of this business. I was given command of the Defiant after Captain Sisko disappeared on Bajor. They wanted someone to command her other then the captain of the station this time around and so it fell to me.”

“You have performed your duties adequately.” She stated.

He stared into her eyes for a moment.

“Thanks. I guess I’m no Katherine Janeway, but give me a few years and I just might get more than adequate.” He replied wanly.

“Did my assessment wound your ego?” she asked innocently, slowly putting the datatpad down and folding her hands over each other as her attention focused on the young captain.

“Who me? No. I’ve just got a lot of…preconceived notions about me that I have to deal with.” He answered, some shadows clouding his face.

“Because of your great grandfather?” She asked. She cocked her head for a moment and examined him closely. “There is a strong resemblance.”

“Yep, Good old Jonathan Archer, first starship captain in Starfleet history, the first human to go out there and explore the stars. He must not have liked it because he basically ordered my grandfather not to go into Starfleet. Eventually though I guess it’s in our blood. Here I am the first of the Archer’s since to be made captain of his own starship.”

He smiled at her and she suddenly found herself intrigued by the young man.

She began to speak but decided against it.

“What?” He asked curiously.

“It is nothing.”

“No, come on, you’re the smartest woman I’ve ever known, I’m sure you were going to bring up an important point.”

Janeway started to walk into the mess hall and paused as she saw Seven and Archer sitting together on the far side. He was looking intently at her and smiling. She looked for all the world to be shyly ignoring the attention. Janeway smiled softly and nodded.

It should be this way. She was glad. She turned and walked away.

“I hardly think that I am the smartest woman you have ever known!” She protested.

Archer smiled and sat back for a moment.

“Trust me, I don’t know any woman that could write a paper on transwarp conduits and their relation to subspace domains that did not put me to sleep.” He replied and laughed. She smiled hesitantly.

“Was that a compliment?” She asked.

He leaned forward again.

“You betcha.” He replied then noted her discomfort with his closeness. He frowned for a moment and sat back quickly.

“I’m sorry, I guess I should leave you to your work.” He started to get up, taking his mug with him and cursing himself severely.

“Wait.”

He paused.

“I would like to hear more of these…compliments Captain.” She seemed to be searching for more words. “And I promise to listen to you despite your adequacies.” She added and flashed him a weak smile. She felt asinine.

The response was unexpected.

“Of course, Seven.” He replied respectfully and sat back down. His smile was broad and open and she found herself quite unable to look away.

Suddenly the alert sirens wailed and red lights flashed every where.

They heard Janeway’s voice over the com.

“The Borg fleet has gone to high alert, we are picking up a strange spatial distortion coming in, looks like some form of inter-dimensional passageway and it’s terminating at this point. All crews to battle stations! Captain Archer, to the bridge!”

Archer stood up immediately and reflexively reached out and helped Seven stand. At her touch he felt a shock run down the base of his spine and he sighed.

“Right this way Seven.”

She did not look well.

“What’s the matter he asked as they raced out of the mess hall.

“I can hear the Collective’s voice in my head. They are preparing for battle…the enemy they have been waiting for is coming.” She looked up sharply at him. “They are deploying the Strategic cube.”

Archer shook his head as they made their way to the turbolift.

“Their timing is as bad as mine it seems.” He muttered.

“Pardon?”

He smiled at her as the doors closed.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:05pm
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Chapter 10: Fist of the Empire


“Preparing to exit hyperspace.”

“Concentrate all fire ahead of as soon as we emerge from hyperspace.” Kittaine ordered.

“The last data transmission we received from the probe droid indicated a fleet of at least 1,000 cubes.” Branna stated and looked out at the bridge pits. The men were moving about, doing their duty with the cool calm professionalism of Imperial officers. But he could feel the tension in the air. The men were not happy about this mission. Many felt that they had escaped the Borg just when things were going to get difficult, and now Nemesis was ordering the fleet right into the center of an enormous Borg fleet.

“The fleet will be far larger when we arrive.” Nemesis replied coolly, he had that far away look in his eyes again. Kittaine had grown to count on Nemesis’ intuition in battle more than he cared to admit. But the Sith Lord had not been wrong yet.

“Hyperspace emergence in 10 seconds.”

“All weapons standing by.”

“I would feel better if Tarsi were leading this charge.” Branna whispered to Kittaine. Usually the Adjudicator, Executioner and Inexorable were always in front, in tight formation. This time the Inexorable and Relentless were leading in, the other star destroyers were flanking as per Kittaine’s latest deployment.

“Belladonna and the Relentless will not disappoint.” Kittaine replied.

The blue tunnel that was hyperspace suddenly flashed and disappeared replaced by a sea of Borg cubes. The Imperial fleet jumped out and fired continuously. Borg cubes were vaporizing in their path.

“Launch all bombers and fighter escorts, concentrate all fire forward, I want to clear our path. Have the flankers push out, don’t let them encircle us.” Kittaine ordered calmly, ignoring the awesome number of Borg cubes, various shapes and sizes around them firing.

“Launching.”

“Sir, I’m picking up an enormous energy reading to starboard.” A tactical officer warned.

“Let me see.” Kittaine strode down to the pit and looked. There was an energy spike the likes of which he had not seen before in the last Borg engagement.”

“Prepare the superlaser, Admiral.” Nemesis ordered.

“My Lord?”

“This enemy vessel must be destroyed quickly.” Nemesis replied grimly.

“There it is!” Branna pointed at a massive cube that was hurtling towards them. A bright green flash lashed out and struck the Relentless. The Relentless was covered in bright green thrashing tendrils of plasma. The massive Cube cast a shadow over the stardestroyer, several tractor beams lashed out and pulled the stardestroyer closer.

“Captain Belladonna reports massive energy impacting on all screens, shields are buckling.” The communications officer squinted as if trying to hear something over a loud din. He looked up at Kittaine. “There are reports of boarders appearing all throughout the ship.”

“Damn it all, reveal the iris!” Kittaine snapped.

“Revealing Iris. Main energizers charging to capacity.”

Outside the Emperor’s Will hordes of Tie Bombers were streaking through the cubes, unleashing wave after wave of proton torpedoes. Their Tie escorts exchanged fire with the smaller scout spheres. The torpedoes slammed through the armored hulls of the cubes, blasting gaping holes in the Borg ships.

The Borg responded with fusillades of plasma torpedoes which exploded with devastating effect on the unshielded Imperial fighters. Some of the more daring pilots actually flew through the massive gashes in the enemy cubes, using them as cover from the torpedoes.

The Inexorable moved in close and concentrated its broadsides on the main weapon emplacement on the strategic cube, destroying it in an explosion that would have destroyed an entire cube. As the Inexorable passed by, firing another broadside, the bridge officers noted the holes in the hull quickly covered with new wiring and plating. The strategic cube was regenerating its damage at an alarming rate.

“They’re what?” Branna exclaimed.

“The Borg cube is regenerating according to the Inexorable.”

“Status on the Superlaser?”

“Fully charged and ready to fire.”

“Aim at the Borg cube, dead center.”

“The Relentless?” Branna warned.

Kittaine realized that the stardestroyer was dangerously close to the strategic cube.

“What is the status of her shields?” Kittaine snapped as twelve cubes suddenly flashed by unloading on the forward bow of the Emperor’s Will. They realized what the weapon was. He had very little time.

“Admiral, there is not time for this, the Borg are aware.” Nemesis warned, his voice had a tension that he had not heard before.

“They’re failing, Admiral.” Branna replied darkly.

“Tell Belladonna to divert all power to shields and brace herself.” He turned to the weapons bay. “Fire the super laser now!”

As he turned back to the view port he suddenly realized why Nemesis had been so adamant about firing. The entire Borg fleet was now screaming towards them, all weapons blazing. They were ignoring the rest of his fleet and the Emperor’s Will was under a massive attack.

“Commence Primary Ignition.” His weapons officer announced.

A hundred Borg tactical cubes snapped by and unloaded a barrage of torpedoes and beam weapons, all focused on one point, right at the bridge.

“Bridge deflectors have failed…reestablishing.” Branna reported.

“Too late, it seems we have boarders.” Kittaine hissed as a dozen Borg drones appeared in wispy columns of emerald light.

“Admiral look out!” Branna shouted as one of the half machine monstrosities reached out for Kittaine. Kittaine was roughly shoved out of the way and landed flat on his back. He looked up and heard a snap hiss before he saw the crimson blade flash around and heard a sizzle of electronics and flesh being cut in two.

Kittaine pulled himself up by the railing on the command deck and managed to look up just in time to see the superlaser fire. A green glow suffused the nose of the Emperor’s Will a split second before a solid green bolt of energy lanced forth and touched the strategic cube dead center. There was no pause, no brief flash of a shield effect as he had seen from his other ship’s heavy weapons, the enormous cube simply evaporated into a ring of incandescent fire, a wave of debris and hot gasses carried on the shockwave like flotsam on a tsunami.

He watched the Relentless get caught in the shockwave of debris and get tossed to the side like a toy ship. He fervently willed that the ship not explode and watched with breath held as the Relentless toppled end over end then disappear in a cloud of plasma and got gasses.

He turned around and saw a squad of stormtroopers rush in, weapons at the ready. But it was the sight of Lord Nemesis in action which froze him in place. The Sith lord was moving among the Borg like a panther, his crimson lightsaber humming menacingly the Borg clumsily circled him. One raised an arm with a strange box like attachment at the end. It fired a green ball of plasma at Nemesis.

Nemesis pivoted on his left foot and swung the blade round, deflecting the shot right at another Borg. It stopped suddenly and simply slumped down to the floor. Nemesis continued his move and the blade flashed through the midsection of the Borg that fired. The Borg was cut right in half. Its torso fell to the floor and it looked dumbly up at the legs which were still moving. Nemesis held his hand up in a waiting gesture to the stormtroopers. The Borg advanced.

Nemesis smiled and there was a feral quality to it as he charged and whipped the blade around him as his charge turned into a spin. Four more Borg were summarily decapitated. Two Borg remained. Nemesis came out of his spin and waited, saber in a high guard position.

Kittaine noted Mara Jade for the first time. She had been on the bridge the whole time but as usual she had blended in, keeping out of the spotlight. Now there was a tortured expression on her face. She wanted very badly to be doing the fighting, to protect her Sith Lord charge but Kittaine slowly wondered just what the young woman could protect Nemesis from. He was obviously in no danger and Kittaine wondered if anything could threaten the young Sith Lord.

“Debris field clearing up.” Branna noted, tearing himself from the fight with a valiant effort.

Kittaine nodded to himself and stood fully erect, hating that he had to turn his back on the fight, but he had a fleet to lead.

“Have all Bomber squadrons deploy the seismic charges I ordered loaded. Set for, “ Kittaine glanced down at the navigational display. “124 mark 80, remote detonate, give the Emperor’s Will remote command.” He ordered hoarsely.

“Aye sir.” Branna snapped and nodded to the squadron commander.

The remaining tie bombers suddenly spun round and fired small projectiles away from the Borg fleet. They rocketed into position and remained in a tight formation. The bombers then began to unload the rest of their ordinance into the remaining Borg ships.

“Any sign of the Relentless?” Kittaine quietly asked Branna.

“Still no sign, but there’s an awful lot of debris out there.” Branna replied hopefully.

“Sir, I thought for a moment that I picked up a Federation starship but it was there one moment and gone the next.” A tactical officer reported.

“Are you sure?” Branna asked curiously. He exchanged a glance with Kittaine

“Yes sir.”

“The Romulans assured us that the Federation did not use cloaking technology.” Kittaine answered.

Branna nodded but was troubled by the report nonetheless. He was not one to trust provincial forces, particularly freshly conquered provincials. He briefly wondered if Belladonna and her ship had been lost to the Borg, if so, he swore that the fleet would wreck havoc on these monstrosities.




“I want helm control back, now!” Belladonna shouted over the din of blaster fire. Her XO pressed a blaster pistol into her hand as he moved down control pits on the command deck. She accepted it and promptly holstered it. A stormtrooper stumbled backwards, struck by a Borg plasma weapon. He fell at her feet and stopped moving.

Belladonna did not bother to turn around. She had a ship to get under control. The view port was covered in debris, Borg bodies and emperor knew what else. She was as blind as a bat. A casual look around the command pits revealed a cacophony of warning lights and alarms all going off simultaneously.

“Ship status?” she snapped. Her XO was on the other side of the command deck and he rushed back over after consulting with a few technicians. Behind her she heard the sound of a Borg going down hard as more storm troopers flooded onto the bridge, firing their weapons.

“We still do not have helm control. Borg boarders have scrambled all circuits between here and engineering in their attempts to assimilate the ship. We have lost emergency power in some of the lower decks and the hangar bay reports that a massive piece of debris is lodged in the hangar deck, disrupting the force fields there.”

“What about weapons and shields?”

“Weapons are still functioning, scattered reports indicate that they are still firing. The shield grid is online but little power is getting through the grid. Those damned Borg have scrambled everything on this ship.” Her XO spat.

“Focus on the shields, while they are on standby power more of these things are getting through. Try to raise the fleet and inform them of our status, tell them we need assistance right away. Also, seal all bulkheads between here and engineering, I want to limit the mobility of these boarders and scramble every available trooper even if they are on sleep cycle. We have to keep the boarding parties contained.”

“Last report indicated hundreds were on board.” Her Xo hissed.

“Every man fights for his ship, is that understood.”

“Yes Captain.”

Another Borg was hurtled down into the command pit where a stormtrooper fired two more shots into it to make sure it was dead before rushing to halt a new party that just beamed in.

“And isolate all computer cores, reroute all controls to the bridge on my authority.”

“Yes ma’am!”

She turned back to see three more Borg drones go down to concentrated fire from several storm troopers. One walked over to her.

“Captain, we have them contained below decks but they are concentrating their boarding parties on the bridge and engineering. My men are telling me that there are at least three hundred in the engineering section alone.”

“Suggestions?”

“We flood engineering with Syntex gas.”

“It will kill everyone in engineering.”

“It will kill all the Borg as well, Captain. Otherwise you’re looking at gunfights all throughout the engineering sections and I am not confident we won’t hit anything…explosive.” the stormtrooper commander replied ominously.

She thought for a moment. Hundreds of engineers would be killed. Irreplaceable engineers in this primitive galaxy.

“I want your men to redouble their efforts, pull troopers off details where the Borg are contained behind blast doors and push them out of engineering. If the situation becomes critical then I will reconsider. I want my engineering section cleared, commander.”

“Yes, Captain.” He replied without hesitation and turned to follow her orders. She shook her head slowly. This was not going well at all.




“Pull the Strike wings back further, give those Borg cubes room to maneuver, I want them to take that avenue of escape.” Kittaine ordered. He smiled in spite of the frustration. His fleet was well trained razors. They were cutting into the Borg fleet now, the loss of the strategic cube plus all other Borg vessels in the blast wake seemed to have thrown the Borg into confusion. He had to press his advantage now. The fleet knew this and they were instinctively cutting off all avenues of escape, but that is precisely what Kittaine did not want, and like overeager hunting dogs he had to pull on the leash.

“Sir, the Inexorable is offering to make a flanking maneuver to drive more cubes to the center, requesting bomber support.”

“Have wings 39 and 54 move to support the Inexorable’s attack.” He paused as he looked won at his fleet deployment on a tactical display. “Also have the Bombard and Bellicose slide into the center position, we don’t want this to look too orchestrated.”

“Aye Admiral.”

He turned as he heard a strange sound, an electronic gurgling like a machine was being strangled. Lord Nemesis was holding the last surviving drone up by the neck, its arms had been severed. He was holding it nearly two feet off the ground with one hand and squeezing hard enough that even the Borg’s normally pasty complexion was darkening.

“I know you can see me. I can feel your pitiful Collective looking through your eyes.” Nemesis snarled triumphantly. He jerked the Borg’s face closer to his. Its one good eye focused on him, the other, a strange antennae implant was slowly moving back and forth, no doubt providing the Borg with real time intelligence even now. The bridge had Borg cauterized body parts scattered throughout the command deck, a testament to Lord Nemesis’ prowess.

“See the futility of your actions. We have taken down your mightiest warship with a single blast. There is no possibility of victory. You are outmatched, as machines you must realize this, you must see that there is no chance at victory. You have spent the last millennia making yourselves into the demons of this galaxy. Now we have come to bring order to the chaos. Do you see what I am trying to say?” Nemesis whispered as he squeezed herder. The drones face remained impassive but it was obvious now that it was dying, the organic eye was starting to flutter.

Nemesis pulled it very close and whispered.

“In your case, resistance IS futile.”

The drone’s neck snapped audibly and it slumped in Nemesis’ grip. He stared at it for a moment then tossed it aside in disgust. He strode over to Kittaine.

“Admiral, finish this battle now.” he ordered sternly.

“Of course my lord.” Kittaine bowed his head slightly and turned to Branna. “Tell all wings to begin immediate attack, all weapons, all fighters, drive them.”

“Yes Admiral.”

“Captain Branna! One of our fighter wings has spotted the Relentless. She engaged in combat with several cubes, they report thousands of drones cover her hull and are trying to assimilate her.”

Branna whirled to Kittaine.

“We are going to personally assist her, move us in, tell the rest of the fleet to go forward, push them. When they reach position zero inform me immediately.” Kittaine ordered without waiting for

“Yes Admiral.”

The Emperor’s Will roared forward to assist the wounded Relentless as the rest of the Imperial fleet surged forward, blasting the Borg cubes that stood in their way. The cubes were moving sluggishly, some not firing at all. Swarms of bombers and fighters raced between the giant ships, blasting away at anything that was not Imperial.

Massive thermonuclear explosions rippled along the line of Borg ships. Hundreds were vaporized as the remaining stardestroyers concentrated their heavy turbolaser batteries into one devastating salvo. This was the event that broke the Borg lines. Suddenly sluggish cubes began moving backwards accelerating away from the hungry Imperial fleet. The fleet quickly followed, relentlessly nipping at the Borg fleet, always driving them to the center.

“There she is!” Branna exclaimed and pointed to the Relentless. She was covered in a writhing layer of Borg drones. There were numerous deep gouges in the heavy hull, some parts of the ship were exposed to the vacuum, it looked like a Borg sphere, or a large portion of it was jammed into the hangar bay. The bridge tower was covered in the remains of Borg cubes.

Kittaine shook his head sadly. The ship looked horrible.

“Receiving transmission from the Relentless.”

“Put her through.”

Captain Belladonna appeared on the holotransmitter, she brushed back a stray lock of hair and stood at attention. Behind her a stormtrooper could be seen blasting away.

“Admiral Kittaine, Relentless reporting.”

“Status, Captain?”

“We now have at least 400 Borg intruders on board, stormtrooper regiments are containing the boarders. Our control systems are overloaded, attempts by Borg drones to assimilate any open terminal has rendered much of our computer controls useless. We are attempting to reconfigure the system but it will take time. I have zero visibility and all sensors are out due to the shockwave and radiation from the blast.”

“We are going to clean off your hull now captain. You have thousands of drones on your outer hull attempting to assimilate your ship from the outside. We are also loading two assault transports to board and assist your regiments in repelling boarders.”

“Understood Admiral.”

“Don’t worry, little sister, help is on the way.” Branna added with a smile.

Belladonna started to smile but instead scowled.

“Branna, I’m older than you idiot.” she replied wanly and shut off the channel. Kittaine eyed Branna critically for a moment.

“What am I going to do with you, Captain?” he asked melodramatically, sounding like a bemused father.

Branna shrugged then turned to his command pit personnel.

“Set all turbolaser batteries to flak mode, minimum safe distance from the Relentless, let’s clean those things off her.”

“Aye sir.”

“Admiral, assault transports 1025 and 1138 standing by.”

“Send them in, looks like they’ll have to do things the hard way with the Relentless’ hangar bay out of commission.” Kittaine said with a frown.

“Aye sir.”

“Are you well?” Mara asked Nemesis as she suddenly appeared by his side. He was adjusting his cape and was examining the scattered drones with a mixture of contempt and disgust.

“I’m fine, Mara. Look to cleaning up this mess.” he replied absently. She nodded and snapped her fingers at a stormtrooper who hurried over.

“See that this mess is cleared for Lord Nemesis.”

“Yes, maam.”

She looked back at him but he had walked away from her and was standing on the far end of the command deck away from the others. She had watched him in action and she felt excited watching him cut his way through the Borg, there was a certain joy on her face which she had not seen before. His face had lightened for that brief moment and the storm clouds that always seemed gathered over his head parted revealing just how young he truly was.

“Admiral. Borg fleet now in position zero.”

Kittaine smiled triumphantly and strode over to fire control.

“Activate the charges. Order all fleet ships to stand by.”

The fire control officer nodded and flicked a line of switches that sent a signal that tripped the seismic charges sitting out in sector 124 mark 80, now known as position zero.

The surviving Borg cubes were now in a route, transferring all available power to the engines and preparing to engage transwarp engines. They detected the charges but not the danger.

Not until it was too late.

The charges detonated. There was nothing for a moment. Then a deep bass thrumming that signaled the detonation. Massive waves of explosive energy whipped out in two dimensional planes. The Borg cubes were sheared in half. The waves intersected at certain points, utterly vaporizing anything in their path. The retreating Borg armada happened to be in the center of the explosive waves.

Kittaine watched coldly as the cubes quickly became a field of scattered debris. Nothing was left. The Borg fleet was gone.

“Victory.” Branna breathed.

Kittaine nodded.

“Now, let us save the Relentless so we can be on our way.” Kittaine ordered and continued watching the expanse of dead Borg ships.






“What in the hell?!” Archer exclaimed.

“Scans indicate that the unknown fleet is generating power fields beyond our experience. Weapons discharges in the gigaton range.” Janeway reported, trying to disguise the awe in her voice.

Archer turned his head as the Defiant rocked, the unknown fleet’s weapons began erupting around them in thermonuclear blossoms of explosive energy.

“Did you say gigatons?”

Janeway nodded.

Archer turned around and stared at the screen, watching the kilometer long warships wade without fear into the Borg fleet.

“Engage the cloak, full evasive. We’re sitting in the middle of this fleet, we need to get out of here. It’s going to be ground zero in about a minute!”

“Aye sir!” the helmsman replied and the Defiant began evasive maneuvers.

“Cloak active and functioning within parameters.” Seven added.

“What’s going on out there?” Archer asked as he watched a tactical cube evaporate on the screen. He had just seen more cubes die in the last handful of seconds than he had seen the Federation destroy since their first encounter with the Borg.

“The fleet does not match any known vessel, including ships we encountered in the Delta Quadrant.” Seven replied.

“The strategic cube is moving to engage the enemy fleet…I’m picking up a power spike on the largest ship.” Janeway stared at the screen in disbelief. “That ship is generating a twelfth power energy field.”

“Twelfth power? A thousand starships couldn’t generate that much!” Archer exclaimed.

“It seems that the Borg have realized it as well.” Seven interjected. The Borg fleet suddenly surged around them, racing towards the great flagship in the center of the unknown fleet.

“What’s the status of that unknown weapon?”

“Energy is spiking, they’re locking on the strategic cube.”

“Helm, emergency impulse, get us ou-“

The huge warship suddenly fired a green bolt that touched the strategic cube. It exploded with a tremendous burst of plasma and light. A ring of fire sprung forth and screamed outward at stunning speed. The Defiant plunged downward and was suddenly flipped backwards as the bow front of the shockwave passed overhead, carrying with it a wave of wreckage and debris.

A console exploded behind Archer sending a crewman tumbling to the ground screaming. A deep bass alarm went off down below - a hull breach.

“All power to engines, we need to right ourselves!” Archer shouted over the din of the alarms and the fire suppression system that kicked in. Clouds of thick white vapor poured down on the bridge.

On screen the stars were whipping around madly. The helmsman struggled as best he could, transferring whatever power was available. But the small starship was dragged along like a cork on the sea, tumbling in all directions away from the source of the explosion.

“Engineering, we need more power!” Archer shouted into the com.

“Warp core is fluctuating sir, I believe that the core is reacting to a tear in subspace!” His engineer answered, worry in her voice.

“She’s right! That explosion destroyed all the subspace fields holding the strategic cube together. That action has caused a massive tear in the subspace domains of this immediate vicinity. It’s expanding.”

“The subspace tear is not only affecting our power systems but it seems to have disrupted Borg communications with the Collective, most of the fleet has been severed from the Collective!” Seven shouted as she held on to her counsel while the Defiant continued spinning out of control.

“Right now I’m more interested in us, what if we generate a polaron pulse through the main dish?” Archer suggested.

“Sorry captain, but we just don’t have the power to disrupt the tear. It’s massive and growing. The Borg are trying to escape now, their attempts to open a transwarp conduit is only making matters worse.” Janeway answered.

The ship seemed to tumble end over end and Archer felt nauseous. He slapped the armrests down to his lap and locked them in position. He tried to think of a solution.

“Captain, the warp core is in severe state of flux, we have a buildup of plasma in the starboard power coupling that could blow the entire power conduit system.” His engineer warned.

Archer grit his teeth as the Defiant committed another mad tumble.

“Can we flush the couplings?”

“I’ve been trying sir but we’re moving too fast.”

“We need to control our spin.” Archer spat.

The Defiant lurched backwards and sparks exploded overhead. Another alarm went off, a strange warbling one that he had only heard in simulations. It was a collision alarm.

“What did we hit?” he asked. Thankfully, whatever they did hit had stopped their tumbling.

“Looks like we struck a cube.” Janeway answered trying to make sense of the mad jumble of data fluttering on her screens.

“Visual.”

The screen flashed and Archer watched as the Borg fleet was surgically decimated. Hordes of strange bombers launched wave after wave of small missiles that impacted with incredible energy against the Borg cubes and spheres. The huge warships were surging ahead like a pack of wolves, tearing through any pretense of Borg defense.

“Give me reverse viewer.”

The scene switched to an extreme close-up of the familiar tubes and conduits of the outer hull of a Borg cube.

“Luckily we struck their deflector shields at the right angle, if we had hit it head on we would have been destroyed.” Janeway commented.

“Unfortunately the cube is trying to initiate a transwarp conduit.” Seven warned and looked back sharply at Archer.

“Engineering, we need power to the engines now!” he snapped.

“Impossible sir, power conduits are flushing, if we activate engines now we’ll blow up the ship.”

Archer punched the armrests in frustration.

“Transwarp conduit forming.”

“All hands, brace for impact.” He warned.

A transwarp conduit opened and the Borg cube immediately flashed into the conduit, the Defiant followed close behind, sucked in by the violent subspace eddies of the open conduit. Within the conduit, the Defiant was dragged behind the escaping Borg cube.

Archer held on tightly as the helmsman tried to even them out without engine power.

“Where the hell are we heading?” Archer asked as he tried to pull it together. His ship was powerless and helpless in the grip of a Borg cube. The least he could do was find out where they may die.

“According to my analysis of trajectory and heading…our ultimate destination is Unimatrix 001.” Seven answered coolly.

Archer stared at Seven for a moment then turned to look at Janeway. She frowned softly and shook her head slowly.








Picard watched R-7 as he moved among the other androids on the bridge. He walked casually, taking a quick glance over each crewman’s shoulder. The android crew worked incredibly well, each one focused solely on their job and they worked with the interface as if they were directly jacked into their individual console. There was one daunting drawback to the android crew. The utter silence that hung over the bridge like a tomb. The only sound was an occasional beep or alert from a console.

Picard found himself wishing for Riker’s quiet humor or Deanaa’s soft voice as she consulted him on some point of protocol or crew performance. Instead there was the insufferable silence of android crewmen.

“R-7?”

“Sir?” He quickly walked over to Picard.

“Is it usually this quiet onboard?”

“The engine bafflers are excellent, the deck plating is sound proofed as well to avoid the usual resonance that can build up from the warp core below.” R-7 answered.

Picard blinked.

“I meant that the crew is rather quiet.”

“There is no need to speak, we are all linked by a subspace hypertransmitter, a feature we copied from captured Borg designs.”

Picard nodded.

“Well I need to talk so I guess you’re elected.” Picard replied smiling warmly as he saw the confusion on R-7’s face. How R-7 reminded him of Data when he started out on the Enterprise, it amused him to see those same reactions on R-7’s face.

“Go ahead, R-7. I am anxiously waiting.”

R-7 nodded.

“The Valhalla is currently four light years from the Romulan neutral zone, an optimum range to avoid detection from Romulan subspace sensors. We are at station keeping position in support of the Bunker Hill. Current power rea-“

Picard held up a hand and smiled.

“R-7, I don’t need a status report. I know all of this already. Tell me something new, speak to me about anything that is on your mind.”

R-7 stared at Picard for a long moment.

“I have nothing on my mind. I am currently monitoring communications between the fleet elements.”

Picard frowned slightly. He could not believe that R-7 was nothing more than a automaton. There had to be more to him. He had to believe that to assuage the guilt he felt in his chest as he looked out on the bridge and saw the silent, grim faced Datas working at their stations.

Part of him knew that it was completely irrational to feel that way, but there was no denying that the feeling was still there, sitting in his heart.

“Have you ever had an independent thought, an idea, anything?” Picard pressed gently.

“I believe Captain, that even if I had an independent thought I would not be able to recognize it. I was designed as a platform to aid the shadow fleet in overcoming their manpower shortage. I am designed to work at any station to which I am assigned to the best of my ability.”

“Have any of your brothers had to run a starship?” Picard asked curiously.

“There have been several instances where the captain was injured or killed in action and the only available person to take the position was a Soon series android. We took command as it was the logical thing to do.”

“What were the results?”

“The ships survived and managed to make it back to our lines. We performed adequately.”

“It takes independent thinking to run a starship, particularly in combat.”

R-7 cocked his head slightly. Picard could not help but smile.

“I find that combat is simply a problem that needs to be solved. Utilize the correct equation and you find a solution.”

“Plug in the right strategy and you win the battle, is that it?”

“I thought that is what I said.” R-7 replied innocently.

“Combat is far more complex than that, R-7. It is the most stressful time you can experience as a commander, the men look to you for inspiration and support.”

R-7 looked out at the bridge crew then back at Picard.

“I think it is safe to say that this crew will not be looking to you for those qualities, sir.”

Picard laughed heartily. R-7 looked slightly confused.

“You have a sense of humor after all.” Picard replied with a grin.

R-7 suddenly grew serious.

“Receiving transmission from the Bunker Hill.”

“Picard turned in his seat to face the screen.

“On viewer.”

The view screen activated and Durant sat before Picard, his human first officer glanced over Picard’s shoulder at R-7 in curiosity.

“That’s it Picard, I have the signal I needed.” Durant explaioned.

“You’re sure?”

“The Imperial forces all hyperspaced out of the Romulan home system over an hour ago. They left behind only the Romulan homeguard.”

“Only the Romulan Homeguard? Those are the finest crews and ships in their fleet.”

“That may be so, but we’re better.” Durant replied with a grin.

“Do you even have a plan?”

“Yes I do, R-7 should be receiving a copy of my battle plans and orders of battle. The fleet is gathering for the jump to transwarp. We’ll be hitting Romulan space in seconds, from there it is a straight line to our target.”

“Are we sure about this?”

“Indeed we are. Intel is strong and after the Imperial attack and seizure of Vulcan, the Federation needs all the help it can get. It is obvious that they have seized the Romulan systems as a supply base, so we are going to take advantage of the Imperial strategic blunder and cut their supply base.”

“And we have the ability to do so?”

Durant smiled.

“Trust me, Picard.”

Picard frowned. Too many disasters had been perpetrated in his lifetime with those exact words.

The screen switched off. Picard rubbed his chin and turned slowly to R-7.

“Have you received the plans?”

“Yes.” R-7 replied.

“How does he intend to hold on to the target? We can’t have troops to hold on to anything deep in Romulan space without support. Besides, wouldn’t it violate the very tenets of this fleet? We strike from secrecy, we fly in shadow or whatever nonsense it was that Durant was spouting back at base.”

R-7 looked down at Picard and his answer chilled him.

“I don’t think he intends to hold onto Remus at all, captain.”




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:06pm
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Chapter 11: Terrible Swift Sword


Nemesis waited patiently in his meditation chamber as he heard the voices beyond. Mara was welcoming the newcomer in and he heard the sharp click of stormtrooper boots on the deck plates outside his door. He allowed his thoughts to roam free for while longer. He was in no hurry.

He followed the visions as they came. The emperor had taught him that the force would guide you were it wanted you to go, there was no fighting it, and to force the dark side to show you what you wished to see was utter folly. It would show you your own doom, or a false vision and you would be led into ruin.

He let his vision float free and there he saw something he did not expect.

He was standing in a chamber, cold gasses were seeping in everywhere, and he heard the sound of heavy machinery moving somewhere above him. He slowly turned around, trying to peer through the smoky air. He could feel eyes on him but there was nothing he could do. He was trapped in the chamber and there did not seem to be a way out. His hand went to his lightsaber and it activated with a snap hiss.

What was it about this chamber that tripped warnings in the back of his head?

A figure was moving in the mists ahead of him and he waited patiently as it approached. He was Darth Nemesis, lord of the Sith, he feared no man or thing.

Mara Jade walked out of the mists and stopped as she saw him. He stared for a long moment, in awe of her beauty. She stood naked before him, only her long reddish blonde hair draped over her breasts covered her. Otherwise she stood completely revealed and she was beautiful.

“What is it my lord?” She asked innocently and she moved, sinewy muscles uncoiled under her taut skin. His eyes remained focused on her face, but he was aroused by her magnetism.

“Even here, in my visions you haunt me.” He replied hoarsely.

She smiled seductively and edged closer.

“You haunt mine as well, but I’m so strong, my lord. The emperor has crafted me to be devoted to him and him alone.” She purred and one of her hands touched his shoulder. There was an electric jolt on contact that made him breathe deeper.

“That disturbs you doesn’t it?” She asked and leaned in closer, her full supple breasts pressed on his chest. A bead of sweat broke on his brow.

“No. You are merely a tool.” He replied coolly.

She looked into his eyes and there was a smile on her lips.

“Ah, you lie well, my lord. But you want me. You want me so much it burns.” She whispered and her lips now hovered agonizing inches from his. He tried to center himself but his heart beat in his ears like thunder and one of his hands slowly rose to slide around her waist.

Mara’s eyes twinkled as she leaned in closer, past his lips and her own soft lips pressed against his ear. He felt his blood rushing through him like a storm.

“I will betray you.” She whispered right into his ear. He gasped as the blade entered his sternum and jolted upward into his heart. His fingers went numb and his lightsaber dropped from his grip. It sounded far away, as if he had dropped it down a long shaft as it clattered to the ground.

She gently pushed him backwards and his legs failed him. He collapsed backwards onto the heard metal grating.

“All too easy.” She whispered.

He stared up at her dumbly, seeing the blood rushing from his wound, each beating of his heart sent a new crimson gush of blood up into the air. Each beat sent him deeper into the darkness and cold gripped his limbs.

“Mara…” he gasped through a mouth filled with blood.

She smiled down on him victoriously. Suddenly her beautiful eyes were replaced by pale yellow orbs. Her sweet voice replaced by an old rasping one, ancient and corrupt.

“Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

Mara laughed and it was a throaty raspy one and as the last of his vision failed, he heard it, deep and resonant in the background, the mechanically precise breathing.

His eyes snapped open as Mara led Admiral T’Vok into his meditation chamber. T’Vok nearly froze as he saw Nemesis floating above the floor, legs crossed.

Nemesis eyed Mara suspiciously. She did not seem to notice.

“Lord Nemesis, as you requested, Admiral T’Vok has been brought to you via shuttle.”

T’Vok knew that the distances they were talking about, a warbird would take months if not years to reach this deep into the Delta quadrant. His trip by shuttle had been a handful of hours.

“How can I be of service, my lord?” T’Vok asked softly.

Nemesis slowly descended down to his feet and casually pulled his cape around him as he strode towards Admiral T’Vok.

“Admiral, I have been reading with interest these intelligence reports from your Tal’Shiar.”

T’Vok said nothing but walked with the Sith lord as he strode past T’Vok towards the back of his meditation chamber. Mara remained a respectful distance behind.

“I was particularly interested in Project Risen Phoenix.”

“Risen Phoenix?” T’Vok repeated neutrally.

Nemesis smiled grimly to himself.

“You heard me Admiral. As I understand it, the project came about as a result of some rather fortuitous turn of events in battle against the Dominion near the end of your war with them. You recovered an artifact. A sample of their technology that they always found a way to destroy before any of your forces could get their hands on one.”

“I am aware of the Project. During the last engagement against the Dominion, our forces managed to over run a Dominion held moon in the Cardasia home system. Our ground forces captured a fully functioning lab and we quickly disassembled it and brought it to Romulus.”

“Ah, you dance around the issue like a harem girl, admiral.” Nemesis replied wanly. T’Vok did not take kindly to the comparison.

“Very well. It is a fully functional Dominion cloning tank. We have yet to decipher all of the technology and we were certainly not going to start cloning Jem’Hadar.”

Nemesis stopped and turned. He stared into the admiral’s eyes.

“I believe that we can decipher the technology of the cloning tanks. And we have a very good use for them.”

T’Vok frowned.

“Do not be so sad, Admiral. The Romulans will be carried forth upon our victorious shoulders. Your people’s place in the Empire’s ultimate victory will not be forgotten. When the Federation and your enemies grovel at your feet, you will have us to thank.”

“What is to be done then?” T’Vok asked. The very last secret they had was now revealed. His people had absolutely no weapons against them now. And what use could these people have with the cloning tanks?

“You will return and I will place you in charge of a new project. It will ensure our dominance forever in this galaxy. I have the utmost faith in you, admiral.” Nemesis replied and motioned for the admiral to leave. Mara instantly appeared by the Admiral’s side.

“Right this way, T’Vok.” She instructed gently. T’Vok took one last look at Nemesis and followed Mara Jade out. She returned and stood passively by nemesis’ side.

“You know what must be done. Find the finest specimen among our stormtroopers. I want only the finest stock.”

Mara nodded and a slow smile appeared on her face.

“I think I have precisely the one in mind, my lord.”

“Oh?” He asked warily.

“He is hiding out in secret among the troopers assigned to this vessel. He is the commander of the Emperor’s Personal Guard.”

“Why wasn’t I aware of this?” Nemesis asked hotly, turning on Mara. Mara took several quick steps backwards.

“My Lord, the emperor deploys his guardsmen throughout the fleet on a regular basis. It is to keep their combat training fresh. The hands are aware of several in any fleet in case we require assistance from someone whose loyalty is above question. But you are a Sith Lord, the personal envoy of the emperor himself. What need have you to know of the deployment of guardsmen?” She answered without hesitation.

Nemesis stared at her for a long moment, eyes peering into hers. She had no idea what he was doing, whether he could see into her mind as clearly as he saw into the others.

“Leave me. I have much to think upon.” He replied curtly and motioned her away. She quickly left after bowing slightly. He watched her leave and stared at the door for a long moment. He turned away with a flap of his cape and strode deeper into the shadows.

Save that this time, they did not soothe him.





He had not eaten in a long time. He could not remember how long it had been. Sometimes, a droid would come, he could always hear the near silent hum of its repulsorlifts and it would administer what he guessed were vitamin shots or some such. They took the edge off the aching hollowness in his belly but never quite filled it.

The irony was that his hunger was not due to lack of food. They brought him simple rations every day, he simply chose to ignore them as he sat, knees up to his chin and eyes closed in thought in the corner of his smallish cell.

He did not want the aching emptiness in his belly to go away. He wanted it to grow and eventually consume him. The shame ate at his heart like a worm inching its way through earth.

He heard the door open. He did not raise his head. Maybe they would come and end it for him. It would be such a blessing.

“Still won’t eat, eh?” The young quiet voice asked.

“Is it you?” He asked hesitantly.

“As always, I come to bring you a new plate only to find that the last one is untouched. It’s not healthy for you, Captain.” The voice replied warmly. He heard him lift the tray that had been sitting in front of him and replace it with another.

“Healthy.” He laughed but it came out more as a rasp.

“Please captain. At least drink something. The vita shots can’t be very satisfying.”

“Who are you anyway? You come, you talk, but I don’t know your name.”

The young man remained silent for a moment.

“I’m Han. I talk to you because you seem rather lonely in here.”

“How does a trooper in this bloody dictatorship care about anyone, particularly an enemy?”

“Dictatorship? I guess. But they’ve been broadcasting on ship entertainment systems some of the history of your enlightened society. Seems that order is not exactly what you’re best known for. And loyalty…they keep mentioning this Cardasian war and these rebels called Maquis. Unfortunately, I know about rebels.” The young man replied neutrally.

“So do I.” He answered stiffly.

“Oh?”

“You know, it’s ironic. I’m growing a beard, at least as best as I can tell.”

He felt the young man lean in closely for a moment.

“Yeah, you are working on a beard there. Why is that ironic?”

He sighed. Why is it that all he wanted to do was it here in silence and wait for the end, but Han always got him to talk, always got him to open up?

“My father grew a beard in a Cardasian prison camp. He died there right before the armistice. The Cardies returned my father as he was in the prison camp. I remember looking at his body wondering what he had suffered through.”

“Did you miss him?”

He nodded slowly.

“Terribly. I got my first post as an XO while he was in prison camp. My father was not an officer, he was a noncom. It made him so proud to know that his son was an officer.”

“I wonder how he would have felt knowing that you’re a captain now.”

He remained silent for a long time. Han was silent as well. They sometimes spent hours in silence in the cell. Han never pressed him for anything.

“I miss my father very much.” He whispered.

“I never knew my father.” Han replied.

“Oh?”

“He just wasn’t in my life. I spent half my youth idolizing his memory.”

“Then what?”

Han sighed deeply.

“Then I grew up.”

He nodded slowly.

“You think your beard is ironic because your father grew one in a prison camp and he died there? You think the same will happen to you?”

“Han, let’s not kid ourselves. You’re a nice guy, I appreciate your visits and these chats, but the fact of the matter is that Lord Nemesis is a stone cold killer and he doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything. Once my crew and I are no longer useful to him, I have no doubt that he’ll space us.”

Han shifted uncomfortably, he could hear him moving about slowly, shifting from his sitting position on what he thought must have been a bed.

“Sometimes we have to look at the big picture. Lord Nemesis does as he’s told.”

“Sometimes, the freedom to say no is all that we have. Besides, many of the great holocausts of my people have been committed by men who were just following orders.” He replied sharply.

“Well, I must be going now, you’re not the only prisoner I have to feed. You’re just the most interesting.” He heard the tightness in Han’s voice.

“Han.” He called out. He could feel the young man stop from rising.

“I didn’t want to say anything to hurt you. You’ve been kind to me, and I appreciate that.”

“That’s alright, Captain Ochoa. Sometimes the truth does that to people. You have been nothing but truthful since I met you and I respect that. Now please…eat. The food looks delicious.”

He could almost hear the young man kick himself.

“You know what I mean.”

“I do, Han.” He replied softly. He thought that Han wanted to say something else, he could feel the tension in the air, the intake of breath before speaking, but then Han simply left the room.

Captain Ochoa remained sitting in the darkness.




The angry red eye of Romulus stared out into the stars. A flotilla of warbirds cruised along menacingly, patrolling the system that had once been theirs but was now firmly in the hands of an enemy power. The people still looked up at the Imperial symbol fluttering overhead on every flagpole, humming in the center of every idle holoscreen. Everywhere there were signs of the occupation.

The warbirds, once the mightiest and proudest warships in the Romulan navy, had proven completely impotent before the might of the empire.

They did not nor could not expect what happened next.

A Galaxy class and two Sovereign class ships decloaked in the middle of one of the flotillas on patrol. The ships immediately unleashed a deadly barrage of phaser and quantum torpedo fire. The phaser emitters of the ships unleashing up to three full powered blasts simultaneously along different planes, some severing warbirds in half or burning through an engine nacelle. The torpedoes detonated with awesome might, most in the depths of the great open spaces between the warbirds’ hulls, evenly distributing their explosive force.

The warbirds returned fire.

Several more warbirds decloaked in optimum position to encircle the Federation ships. However they were struck by torpedoes that seemed to spring out from nowhere. Then a dozen more starships decloaked around the warbirds surrounding the original three starships. Before long Federation starships were decloaking along the Romulan lines.

The home guard fleet was stunned by the sudden appearance of dozens of Federation warships.

“This is Bunker Hill to 2nd and 3rd wings. Fan out and engage all Romulan warships. Punch a hole for the 1st, 4th and 5th wings.”

“Acknowledged, Bunker Hill, moving to engage.”

“Essex, this is Bunker Hill. I have a feeling that our Romulan friends still have some assets in hiding, activate tachyon net, let’s light ‘em up.”

“Copy that, Bunker Hill. Initiating tachyon bursts.” The Captain of the Essex replied.

Picard listened to the entire exchange with a growing sense of wonder. The shadow fleet was far more disciplined than he had imagined. Everyone had a job and they did it without question. Durant, despite his age, was orchestrating the attack with the calm demeanor of an admiral twice his age.

The Essex was an ancient Oberth class science vessel, but there were some key differences. Instead of one secondary hull there were two. One hull was packed with delicate and sensitive sensor equipment, the other with subspace warfare equipment. The Essex was a class of ship Starfleet simply did not have, an intelligence and subspace warfare vessel.

The Essex fired a series of torpedoes. Instead of the usual red these torpedoes had a cool blue hue to them and they detonated a set distance form the rapidly growing shadow fleet. Upon detonation a shower of blue sparks spread through the area, within moments the outline of warbirds became sharp and distinct where none had been before. The tachyon bursts defeated the cloaking devices making cloaked vessels visible for short periods of time.

“Torpedo gunners, lock on the Essex’s ranging data and fire for effect.” Durant calmly ordered as the Bunker Hill led the invasion fleet into the breech. The massive warship was firing spreads of quantum torpedoes, its phasers slashing everywhere. Romulan return fire splashed against the ship’s shields and it looked as if nothing could stop the dreadnought as it continued on its way.

The long range torpedo ships were parked several hundred thousand kilometers away from the war zone. Their multiple torpedo launchers were constantly firing in rapid ripple fire mode. The torpedoes would travel at high warp and cross the distances in a matter of seconds. However, the ships were out of range of the Romulan warbirds, thus Durant’s torpedo ships were confronting the Romulan commanders with a thorny dilemma. They could divert ships away from the desperate defense of Remus to deal with the torpedo ships, or they could concentrate their forces to oppose the assault force.

The Romulan commanders were currently deciding to ignore the torpedo ships and focusing on shoring up their lines. They were paying for that however as dozens of quantum torpedoes exploded among their lines in rapid succession without letup. Some of the inbound torpedoes suddenly switched targets to the revealed warbirds, guided by the Essex’s powerful sensors.

The explosions lit up the stars around the rapidly growing Federation fleet. The Romulan commanders’ alarm grew into near panic as their planet bound scanner arrays reported nearly a hundred starships had now decloaked near their home worlds.

“Bunker Hill to 1st wing, engage planetary defenses on Remus, clear us a nice landing zone. Planetary assault ships stand by for my order. Valhalla, we’re picking up reinforcements from Romulus, you’re on.”

“Acknowledged, Bunker Hill, engaging.” Picard answered.

He turned to R-7.

“Inform the attack wing to decloak and engage on my command.”

“Aye sir.”

On screen, dozens of warbirds which had been defending Romulus were racing towards Remus as it soon became evident they were completely ignoring Romulus. Picard was unaccustomed to attacking from a cloaked vessel. It went against every instinct. But there was no other way to thoroughly infiltrate the Romulan lines. Besides, as Durant pointed out, the irony was quiet delicious.

“Move into primary attack position, prepare a full barrage from all torpedo turrets.” Picard ordered as he watched the warbirds grow quickly on screen.

Behind his attack wing he knew that the 1st wing was now engaging the orbital defense platforms around Remus. The 1st wing was led by a crusty old Texan named Jeb Maxwell and his twang was loud and proud as he announced that his wing was now engaging the planetary defense system.

Jeb’s starship, The Alamo, was a heavily modified Nebula class. The sensor pod was replaced by what Durant casually called the tactical pod. It was essentially composed of as many torpedo launchers and phaser banks that could be jammed into the space available. When the Alamo fired its full weapons spread it was a truly awesome sight as dozens of torpedoes and four or five phaser blasts lanced out at individual targets.

The orbital platforms were under heavy attack by several dozen heavily armed starships. The platforms’ shields were soon collapsing, several of them exploding in massive blasts of hot gasses. Several starships from the 1st wing were overwhelmed by the heavy plasma torpedoes. One of them exploded, another two slowly fell back, tendrils of plasma and electricity running along their blackened hulls.

“Uh, Bunker Hill, we lost the Fitzpatrick and the Savannah, the Tobruk is heavily damaged, I’ve ordered them to fall back to position six, request heavy torpedo back up, this might get hairy in a few more minutes.”

“Understood, Alamo, heavy torpedo support in bound, prepare to switch to armor on your next pass.”

“Acknowledged, Bunker Hill, switching to armor.”

Meanwhile, Picard gave the order to decloak just as the warbirds passed underneath his attack fleet’s main guns. Twenty starships decloaked and unloaded their primary weapons in a matter of seconds. The warbirds, were all struck, many of them heavily damaged as their captains had ordered power diverted to engines to clear the distance between Romulus and Remus, leaving little for the defensive systems.

The relief fleet was thrown into disarray as Picard’s attack fleet tore into them without mercy. Warbirds were stalked and hunted down, phaser fire rippled along their great green hulls, leaving blackened gashes. Torpedoes streaked into the warbirds’ formations, exploding and sending their hastily gathered lines into disarray.

“This is the Valhalla, Romulan relief force intercepted and neutralized.”

“Uh, come again, Valhalla, I read Romulan relief fleet still active.”

Picard paused. The Romulans were now in a route, half their force shattered, many ships just hulks in space, the rest were retreating back to the safety of Romulus and the still active orbital batteries there.

“Bunker Hill, Romulan force neutralized, they are no longer a threat to the task force.”

“Valhalla, this assignment calls for complete destruction of enemy forces. Neutralization means destroyed, nothing else is acceptable. Please comply.”

Picard stared dumbly at the communicator.

“The shadow fleet operates under slightly different rules of engagement than Starfleet.” R-7 added helpfully.

“You are not seriously suggesting that I destroy those powerless ships out there?” Picard breathed staring in muted horror at R-7.

“Our orders are to neutralize all opposition forces with extreme prejudice.”

“Listen to yourself, R-7. You’re callously talking about destroying lives that do not need to be taken. They’re utterly defenseless and not a threat to this task force.”

“This is Bunker Hill to Valhalla, comply immediately.”

Picard’s jaw set grimly. He would not take lives needlessly like this. Suddenly several ships from his attack fleet peeled away and attacked the disabled Romulan warbirds, destroying them with well placed torpedo and phaser fire. His face darkened.

“I did not give the order for that attack!” Picard boomed.

“Captain Durant did on the private channel, sir. I suspect he did not want to embarrass you on an open channel.”

As Picard was about to reply he saw several Klingon warships join the strafing runs on the disabled Romulan ships.

“What is that? Why are they here?”

R-7 cocked his head.

“The Klingon warships are actually Shadow fleet vessels. I believe that it is part of a disinformation campaign of Captain Durant’s.”

Picard whirled back to look at the Klingon ships as they cloaked again after attacking.

“He means to implicate them in this attack.” Picard accused.

“That is standard procedure when engaged in an operation of this magnitude.” R-7 replied evenly.

Picard stared at his android first officer and started to feel that perhaps he was in over his head. Simultaneously, as he looked into the utter emotionless eyes of R-7 he suspected that he had over estimated the android. Perhaps there was nothing in there at all, and he was alone on a ship of machines.




Meanwhile the assault on Remus was almost complete. A section of the orbital defense batteries had been destroyed by the 1st wing. The 3rd wing was setting up a perimeter around the assault area.

“Bunker Hill to Layette Gulf, I want a CAP over the assault area immediately.”

“Copy that Bunker Hill, deploying squadrons.”

The Layette Gulf was a converted Galaxy class vessel. It was an experimental warship for the shadow fleet. Four huge hangar bays had been grafted on to the hull of the Galaxy, giving it the capability of carrying four squadrons of smaller vessels. In the case of the Layette Gulf, her load out consisted of two squadrons of Delta Flyer class fighters and two squadrons of Runabouts.

The Layette Gulf launched one squadron each of Delta Flyers and Runabouts, which immediately deployed over the assault area to provide close air support and escort for the incoming planetary assault craft.

“Bunker Hill to Sword and Juno…you’re on.”

“Roger that Bunker Hill, we are inbound. Estimate planet fall in two minutes.”

Two Intrepid class ships decloaked and raced towards the open gap in Remus’ orbital batteries. The Intrepids began firing as they descended through the atmosphere, counter battery fire against the planetary disruptors whose fire was rising up to meet them as they descended. The Intrepids were heavily modified for planetary assault. Janeway would not recognize the inside of this ship. All living quarters, labs, holodecks, etc had been torn out and replaced with barracks and shield generators. The planetary assault Intrepids could take five times the damage that her non-refit sister ships could take.

As they approached the planet’s surface, enormous landing gear slowly descended from armored bays on the underside of the secondary hull and the Intrepids slowed. Some disruptor fire danced along their shields but the roving Delta flyers and Runabouts quickly descended and took out the batteries.

The Intrepids finally landed, their phasers lashing out with pinpoint accuracy against Romulan ground defenses. Heavy troop concentrations were quickly incinerated as the Intrepids fired torpedoes into them, the detonations flattening anything in their blast radius.

The shuttle bays opened and out rushed hordes of Datas, holding phaser rifles. Mass transporters were also beaming the Datas all over the perimeter of the battle field. The Datas moved with uncanny precision, firing and advancing expertly.

“Juno to Bunker Hill, we have secured beach head. Standing by.”

“Acknowledged, Juno, prepare for special delivery. Set up transporter enhancers.”

“ETA for set up, 4 minutes.”

The Datas were exchanging fire with the survivors of the Romulan defense forces, those that managed to survive the multi megaton air bursts over head from the assault Intrepid’s torpedo launchers.

“What are they doing?” Picard asked quietly, sullen and resigned to the fact that there was not going to be a way out of this without more blood.

“Setting up transporter enhancers for delivery of the strategic weapon.” R-7 answered.

Picard stiffened in his chair.

“The strategic weapon? You mean the little boy?”

“That is correct, Captain. The little boy must be beamed down into the planet itself. The transporter enhancers are necessary to do so.”

On the surface of Remus, Datas and Romulans were fighting viciously for any ground that either could gain. The androids were heedless of losses or personal danger, sometimes intentionally placing themselves in harm’s way to expose an enemy position. The androids were also merciless, killing Romulans, whether they were wounded or surrendered.

They would sidestep their fallen brethren, if the damage was too great an automated self destruct would be triggered destroying the android utterly. Those that were salvageable would be quickly picked up by follow on teams and tagged with special transporter transponders. The mass transporters, once done disgorging troops would then beam the damaged androids back.

In the center of the beachhead, between the two assault ships, the androids were setting up large transporter enhancers. Picard watched them on his screen, the androids, all with Data’s face, grimly mounted the large tripod assembly and checked all the components. One took a hit in the shoulder from a disruptor blast, it was nearly thrown off its feet but recovered and continued working without skipping a beat.

The leader activated a power switch and the enhancers began to pulse.

“This is G-99, Pattern enhancers activated and working well within parameters.”

“I read you, G-99, Juno, Sword, begin recovery operations of your troops. This is Bunker Hill moving into transporter range and preparing for delivery of Little Boy.”

Picard leaned forward in his seat as he watched the phalanxes of Datas methodically get beamed away from the frontlines. The Romulans pressed forward, unsure why their enemy was beaming out but not willing to let this opportunity escape them.

“G-99, this is Bunker Hill, set up defensive perimeter around pattern enhancers.”

“Acknowledged.” G-99 replied and he and his team quickly took up positions around the pattern enhancers, firing their phaser rifles with deadly accuracy as the advancing Romulans.

“This is Juno to Bunker Hill, recovery operations complete. Guardian force set around enhancers, requesting permission to pull back.”

“Permission granted. Bunker Hill to all fleet elements begin pullback, one AU minimum safe distance.”

The fleet quickly began to break up. The heavier ships lumbered away, cloaking themselves as the shattered remnant of the Romulan defense force tried to give chase. Flights of Defiants zoomed by, exchanging fire with crippled warbirds as they cloaked themselves as well.

As the Intrepids lifted off, they fired one last salvo of torpedoes at Romulan heavy weapons and troop concentrations, their phasers fired, gouging deep canyons in the earth around the pattern enhancers creating a makeshift earth works that kept the Romulans at bay as they lifted off and disappeared up into the sky.

“R-7, get us out of here.” Picard spat and slumped in his chair.

“Yes sir.”

The Valhalla pulled away, cloaking itself as it did so.

Within moments, the great Federation armada was gone, cloaked and under way. Only the Bunker Hill and the Alamo remained.

“Alamo, to Bunker Hill, last of our attack wings is gone.”

“Deploying little boy.” Durant replied. The pattern enhancers flashed as they caught the transporter signature and carried the signal down deep into the bowels of Remus.

“Bunker Hill, bugging out.”

“Right behind you boss.”

Both ships went to warp immediately.

Picard watched the screen, intent on the dwindling shape of Remus. He was about to say something when it became obvious to him that there was no detonation.

There was a flash of light that erupted from deep within Remus, a great geyser of earth and atmosphere exploded into space and there was a strange pattern of light that quickly spread from ground zero of the explosion and outward. The pattern of light looked like small balls of fire, each one weaving into the other, spreading like waves on an ocean, soon the entire surface of Remus was covered in the small balls of interlocked fire and then there was a brighter flash than the initial detonation.

“I’ve seen this before...” Picard whispered horrified by what he saw.

R-7 remained silent as Remus came back into view.

“What have we done?” Picard asked. The planet was nothing more than a barren rock, glass smooth surface with no sign that it had ever been a thriving capital world of a star empire.

Picard turned to R-7.

“I HAVE seen that effect before, in history class. It was the genesis device that Kahn Noonian Soongh detonated 70 years ago.”

“Indeed. The Little Boy is an extrapolation of that device.”

“This is not what that device was meant for, besides it was supposed to bring life, this only brings death, a perversion of the genesis device just as this fleet seems to be a perversion of Starfleet itself.” Picard replied hotly.

“We could not duplicate the life generating effects of the true genesis device, however we could duplicate the destructive wave. The developers call the new wave the Shiva effect.”

Picard slammed his fist down on his armrest in utter frustration, anger and desperation.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:07pm
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Chapter 12: The Summons

“They did this to an Imperial held world?” Nemesis asked darkly as he stood on the vast glassy plain of what used to be the largest city on Remus. Nothing remained, not a single building, no wreckage, no sign at all that this world had been inhabited for thousands of years and home to a thriving empire. The glassy plain stretched on for the entire planet, there was not a hill, mountain, nothing that deviated form the single flat monotonous vista.

“Probes and sensors confirm that the entire planet is composed of this same glassy silicate all the way down to the core.” Kittaine replied. They all wore environmental suits, the atmosphere of the planet had been burned away, exposing the world to the harshness of the void.

“That would include all the dilithium deposits as well as other resources that Remus was providing us. It was the economic heart of the Romulan province.” Branna added shaking his head at the waste he saw around him.

“Is that all you can say?!” T’Vok exclaimed, furious at the detached interest the Imperials were taking to a holocaust of epic proportions. Billions of Romulans had died this day.

“Calm yourself, Admiral. This is not a time to act from emotion.” Kittaine replied coolly.

Nemesis stared down at the ground for a long moment. He had felt the disturbance in the force nearly immediately when the action took place, the death of an entire world in the matter of instants. The ripples this action had sent throughout the force had nearly stunned him in their intensity.

“Tell me more about these Klingons, T’Vok.” Nemesis asked quietly, eyes still focused on the ground beneath his feet.

T’Vok took a moment to compose himself. His aide was at his side as usual, handed him a data pad that had a complete report from the home guard concerning the battle. The populace on Romulus had been kept in the dark regarding the loss of Remus. He did not know how they could break the news to his people. They had suffered so much in such a short amount of time, and the armed forces whose pride and joy it was to defend their great empire had proven completely incompetent in stopping the twin holocausts that had been visited upon them: The destruction of Romulus’ greatest continent and cities, and the loss of Remus.

“The Klingons were involved in the attack. Although numerous sources indicate that there were only scattered confirmed sightings of Klingon ships, we do know that the Klingons are fond of attacking and cloaking as soon as possible to confuse the enemy as to their numbers. The fact that the Federation ships were using cloaking devices further implicates the scum, they obviously shared cloaking technology or even outright gave them cloaking devices to under take this attack.” T’Vok replied, his voice tight with anger.

Nemesis could feel the anger raging within him and he was comforted by it. He continued listening, but his thoughts were also out in the void. There was another disturbance in the force, it was close, very close.

“This tactic is more like the Klingons, the Federation simply has no stomach for this kind of warfare.” He added looking around in disgust at the smooth, lifeless plain.

“They obviously have the technology for it.” Kittaine replied.

“What you fail to understand about the Federation is that they have the technology to do many things, but their insipid belief in their moral superiority would not allow them to use that technological edge to its fullest benefit.” T’Vok commented.

“Obviously that’s not true in this case.” Branna replied dryly.

“These Klingons, they are considered a warrior race?” Nemesis asked, his mind focusing on the disturbance. It was very close indeed.

“If howling animals who stupidly board ships and assault planets armed with edged weapons is what you consider a warrior race, then yes, you can say that. Their culture is bent to war; subtlety and intelligence are beyond their understanding.” T’Vok answered with some disdain.

“You’re people hate them?”

“We have been enemies for nearly a century.” T’Vok replied icily.

“Excellent. Then it is time the Empire stretch forth its mighty hand and crush the warrior race of this galaxy for their participation in this direct attack on one of the Emperor’s worlds.”

“But, Lord Nemesis, it was clear from our scans that the Federation fleet itself was directly responsible for the attack on Remus, the Klingons were only involved in the periphery of the battle. Vengeance must be sought against those that are directly responsible for this atrocity!” T’Vok protested. His aide nodded in agreement.

Nemesis slowly turned his head to face T’Vok, his cool blue eyes bore into the old but proud Romulan admiral.

“There will be vengeance against the Federation. I am no fool. I saw the reports for myself, but I have something special in mind for the Federation. For now, you will content yourselves with mastery over the Klingons.”

“What?”

“Your fleet will assemble and be led on a general assault on Klingon space. You will engage every Klingon fleet that you encounter, until you arrive at the Klingon homeword. When you arrive there, you will signal me for instructions.”

T’Vok was uncertain how to proceed.

“Once the Klingons are conquered they will be placed under your direct control as a province of the Romulan empire as payment for their unwarranted aggression.”

T’Vok frowned.

“And the Federation?”

“Leave that to me.” Nemesis smiled triumphantly as he finally located the source of the disturbance.

“Admiral Kittaine, I want you to signal Captain Tarsi, he and the Executioner will be pulled off duty on Vulcan and be given the assignment of conquering the Klingon empire. He will have all the resources of the Romulan provincial forces at his discretion.”

“Who will replace him on Vulcan?”

“Deploy the Relentless and several support ships, including a wing of warbirds. Tarsi will not be gone for long, I can assure you.” Nemesis replied with a grin.

“The Relentless is currently undergoing extensive repairs in the shipyards.” Kittaine warned.

“Admiral, I am well aware of our current tactical and strategic situation, the Relentless, though badly damaged is still a dire threat to anything but a full fledged Federation fleet.”

“What if they do decide to deploy a fleet in a counterstroke against Vulcan? It’s what I would do after an attack such as this.” Branna interjected.

Nemesis’ smile broadened.

“Captain Branna, the Federation will be deploying many fleets in the coming days, but they will not be to retake Vulcan, it will be to protect itself against our assaults.”

“Then we will be moving against the Federation as well?” T’Vok pressed.

“Indeed, Admiral. In fact, I want you to have all warbirds closest to your neutral zone to begin immediate offensive action against all Federation ships and bases. The Imperial fleet will be deploying soon thereafter.”

“Our goal?” Kittaine asked curiously.

“There can be only one goal. But that will be revealed to you in time. For now I have a far more pressing question.”

“My Lord?” Kittaine asked after a moment of uncomfortable silence where the only sound was the air coming into their environmental suit’s helmets.

“Admiral T’Vok?”

“Yes?” T’Vok replied.

“How long have you had a Changleing as your aide?” Nemesis asked.

T’Vok whipped around as his aide suddenly drew a disruptor and aimed at Nemesis. Kittaine cursed himself as he tried to draw his own sidearm, he should have ignored Nemesis’ insistence that there was no need for stormtrooper escort on the surface. Even Mara Jade was moving a beat too slow, drawing her weapon and firing, the first shot missing the aide’s head by less than a hand’s breadth. She was cursing loudly as she fought against the natural clumsiness of the environmental suit’s gloves.

The aide sneered and fired two quick snap shots from the disruptor.

Nemesis moved without anyone seeing him do so, between the blinks of an eye, there was snap hiss and his crimson lightsaber ignited deflecting one disruptor bolt into the ground next to him and then swung his blade in a flash of movement form his wrists, taking the next bolt and whipping it back at the aide.

He screamed as the bolt sheared off his arm. The aide collapsed to the ground, clutching the stump of its gun arm. Mara was by the aide’s side in the next moment and pointed her blaster at his head and began to pull the trigger.

“Hold!” Nemesis barked and strode over to the stricken aide, whose wound was now oozing strangely, as flesh gave way to some odd golden liquid. Kittaine grimaced in disgust. T’Vok stared dumbfounded at the sight.

“So, you thought you could blatantly hide among us, eh, shapeshifter?” He noted with contempt as he deactivate his lightsaber.

The changeling did not look up, instead it was massaging the stump, the liquid gelatinous substance was slowly solidifying, but oxygen was clearly running out of the enormous tear, ice crystals forming on the clear shield of the helmet’s face plate.

“Struggle all you want but your treachery has been discovered. Your people have been oddly silent since our arrival. Considering you nearly brought this quadrant to its knees I was wondering when we would begin to see the Dominion.”

“For a solid, you have a firm grasp of strategy and tactics, but you are as flawed as all of your kind. You act from baser instincts which we have surpassed long ago. You come to impose order on this galaxy. Order? What do your people know of order?” The changeling laughed, looking up at Nemesis with unconcealed contempt.

Nemesis smiled.

“Death is the only penalty for spying on the Emperor’s minions. However, if you tell me what I want to know I will make sure that you will live long enough to join the great link again.”

The changeling’s face was difficult to gauge for emotion but there was no doubt that Nemesis’ revelation of his knowledge of what was going through its mind disturbed it.

“This cannot be, even the most powerful Betazed telepaths cannot pierce our mental discipline.”

“Beta Zed telepaths? I am no simple mind trickster. I am a Sith and the dark side will not denied. Now, what say you? Your oxygen is running out and it looks as if you are having trouble with the lack of pressure here. How long before you boil away to nothing, I wonder.”

“I will tell you nothing, foul one. I have seen what you call order and it is nothing more than the application of force to deal with a problem. That is infantile and pathetic. Your weapons may be impressive but I have seen enough to know that you are far from home and lacking support here. The Federation surprised you here and my people are just waiting patiently for any weakness. We will not fold as easily as these fools.” He replied hotly, jerking his head in T’Vok’s direction.

Nemesis stared intently at the changeling for a moment. The changeling returned the gaze without flinching. Nemesis suddenly pressed his lightsaber against the faceplate and there was a snap hiss. The changeling stiffened as the blade passed through its head and emerged on the other side. The body began to boil away, lumpy gelatinous golden liquid spilled out of the suit.

“Burn it all. Leave no trace of the thing.”

Mara nodded and commenced to burn away the liquid with her blaster. Nemesis whirled and stalked over to Kittaine. T’Vok still shook his head in disbelief.

“The Dominion has been spying on us since we arrived here. The changeling was alone, there were no others, to its knowledge nonetheless, but begin immediate screening of the population.” He paused and a slow smile crept across his face. “And tell Tarsi that he has to make a stop before proceeding on his invasion of Klingon space.”

“My Lord?”

“His mission will be to collapse the wormhole at Bajor. Without it, our patient friends will indeed have to be patient because it will take decades for their warp drive to get them here.” Nemesis sneered.




“Let me get this straight now, because logic is not my strong suit, you are saying that we were brought here by an outside force?” Tarsi asked the cool quiet Vulcan standing opposite the table of Tarsi’s office. He had set up a command post on the planet where he acted as temporary military governor.

“That is what we have been able to ascertain so far from the data you have provided us.” Xon answered. He was the head scientist in charge of the group that Tarsi gathered at Vulcan’s most prestigious university. They were 100 of the planet’s finest minds, experts on temporal and spatial mechanics, theoretical physicists and Experts on subspace fields and theories. They worked around the clock for the last week, using data provided by Tarsi as well as their own materials. There were two shifts 18 hours each, with no meal breaks. Tarsi had heard of the Vulcan’s near legendary stamina and was using that to its fullest.

Those that provided beneficial data to the Empire were rewarded with hours of free time and family visits. In Tarsi’s opinion this inspired a sense of competition that would speed up any breakthroughs. The 100 were simply the top minds, the head of the entire effort. Thouands of scientists were aiding the cause, many were simply carrying out the calculations and mundane research while the committee poured over the data to try and find answer.

Xon had come to him after the committee had decided on a working theory as to why the Imperial forces were here.

“If you read our report it is extremely detailed and simplified.”

“I prefer you tell me.” Tarsi replied, a dangerous edge in his voice. He did not take kindly to provincials telling him what to do.

“As you wish,” Xon bowed his head slightly after arching an eyebrow. Tarsi found the habit irritating.

“After extensive analysis of the data provided by your people and our own knowledge of the wormholes that have been encountered in this galaxy, several conclusions have been made. One, the wormholes and temporal anomalies encountered by both Starfleet and other space faring races in this galaxy have been localized to this galaxy or its local cluster. There has never been a single recorded occurrence of an extragalactic entity, object, or material appearing through a wormhole or anomaly in space time. Two, your sensor readings showed absolutely no changes save for precisely .45 seconds of ‘lost’ time. Extensive reworking of your databases by our and your technicians has found absolutely no way of accounting for this lost time. There is not a single recorded instance of such an effect happening with regard to any temporal or spatial anomaly. Usually the ship’s sensors pickup strange readings and the crew even feel slightly disoriented by the experience, yet at no time do any of your sensors pick up anomalous readings. Three, the anomaly usually remains active for a brief period of time, some for an extended period, but we have never had any experience with an anomaly that has had an instantaneous duration. Four, the vast differences in distance and time between our galaxy and yours, make it nearly impossible to conceive of the energy requirements needed for such an event. Wormholes that cross such vast distances and simultaneously act as temporal anomalies is unheard of and unnatural. We therefore conclude that the anomaly you encountered was wholly artificial.”

“You’re trying to tell me that someone brought us here?” Tarsi snapped in disbelief.

“Someone or something. There is precedence for this conclusion. There are many beings in this galaxy which Starfleet has catalogued with vast powers over time and space, chief among them the Q. There is also evidence of extremely advanced civilizations such as the caretakers, who used their technology to bring ships across thousands of light years in mere seconds.”

“Tell me about these Q.”

“They are powerful entities, we do not believe that they are life forms in the strictest sense of the word, they seem to have transcended the need for physical shapes. Their powers have never truly been tested but there are catalogued instances of mass changes on a planetary, even galactic scale. They have even claimed to be able to change such things as universal constants such as gravity. They bend space time to their will.”

Tarsi nodded, very interested.

“Any why have they not conquered this galaxy then?’

“It has been theorized that they have certain rules against interference with other species and they seem to relish the role of tricksters or watchers, walking among us and studying us for a purpose we cannot fathom.”

“Foolish fops, eh? Where might we find these Q?” Tarsi asked, smiling at the thought of introducing these supposed gods to a BDZ operation.

“They do not seem to exist on this plane of reality. Their home is an extra dimensional construct they simply call the continuum.”

Tarsi frowned and sat back in his chair.

“So, in the end, what you are telling me is that beings who have godlike powers and live in a faraway place that is inaccessible to us have decided to drag our fleet trillions of light years across the cosmos and millennia out of time?” He asked snidely.

“That is our logical conclusion.”

“Xon, do you seriously expect me to believe this nonsense?” Tarsi sighed.

“What other explanation do you have considering the evidence? It is immanently clear that this wormhole was an artificial construct.” Xon stated firmly.

Tarsi eyed the Vulcan suspiciously.

Tarsi picked up a pen and jabbed it at Xon.

“If I find out that you have been wasting the Empire’s time with these fairytales about alien beings who choose to call themselves by a single letter and live in a place that does not exist, you will find yourself wondering what it will be like to live without pain.” Tarsi growled.

“There is no need to become antagonistic, Captain Tarsi. If I may be so bold, you must learn to govern your passions, they will be your undoing.”

Tarsi’s jaw dropped and his face reddened. Xon had spent little time interacting with humans but he recognized raw rage when he saw it.

“Why you green blooded, pointed eared-” Tarsi began to thunder. An aide cleared his throat as he entered.

“What!” Tarsi snarled.

“Orders from Admiral Kittaine. You are required to read them immediately.” His aide stated uncomfortably and handed Tarsi a datapad. Tarsi snatched it away and began reading it, eyes snapping along the electronic symbols and with each line he read, his rage quickly subsided and a smile crept across his features. He placed the datapad on his desk and looked up at Xon and his aide. The smile was unnerving, like a wolf that had spotted prey.

Xon briefly wondered what poor world would suffer at his hands.





“Station keeping.” Kirk ordered.

“Aye sir, but the subspace and gravitational currents in this wormhole are very strong, its taking nearly all of our power to maintain position.” Sulu reported.

Kirk nodded as the Enterprise came to a stop in the center of the wormhole. Around him cascades of light erupted around them. The Sagan was taking up position directly next to the Enterprise. Kirk waited for a few minutes as the ship rocked steadily.

Nothing.

Perhaps there was something more.

“Maybe we should announce ourselves.” Kirk turned in his command chair to face Uhura.

“Uhura open hai-” he stopped as he noticed the bridge was plunged in a yellowish light and there was a sound of a very slow heartbeat. Uhura faced him and her face was a blank for a moment, then her eyes focused on him.

“The Kirk is impatient.” She stated flatly.

“The Kirk is restless.” Spock noted from his place on the bridge.

“The Kirk is much like the Sisko.” Sulu added.

“Who are you? I came like you asked, but there is little time. The enemy is about to over run the Federation.” Kirk replied, standing up and walking around his chair eyeing the bridge crew who were all turned and watched him with the same blank expressions.

“The Kirk is not the Sisko.”

“The Kirk is not of Bajor.”

“No, I’m not. But you called me, remember? I came as you asked and risked my ship, my crew and my command, because I believed that you had an answer for me.”

“The Kirk seeks answers?”

“No, The Kirk seeks intervention.”

“The Kirk could never understand or respect the rules of the game.”

“The Kirk has lived his life disobeying the rules, violating codes, because he believed that his heart knew more than his head.”

Kirk frowned. This was not going as he anticipated.

“What is it about god like aliens and the need to be so damned cryptic?” He muttered.

“I’ve asked the same question myself many times, Captain.” Sisko replied with a smile. He was standing right under the viewscreen in a Starfleet uniform.

“Thank God, Captain Sisko, I was beginning to feel unwanted.”

“Actually you are unwanted, they are not happy about you being here but at the same time they seem to be angry about something. Space time seems to be unraveling around us captain, but we are linear beings so we don’t exactly feel it, but the prophets live their lives in multiple dimensions and times simultaneously and they are not happy about what they see.”

“These enemy ships are the source of this unraveling?”

“No, more like a symptom. They come from a galaxy far away and long ago.”

“The Sisko tries our patience.” Sulu interjected.

Sisko smiled.

“Sorry captain, let’s get this over with. I am opening a portal to another place, I need you to send a distress call, tell them everything that you know and hopefully we will get a response.”

“Hopefully?” Kirk replied sharply.

“I can’t make any promises. I am just an emissary.” He pointed to his bridge officers. “They run the show.” Sisko smiled warmly as he walked over to Kirk and held up his arms over him. Suddenly Kirk seemed to be in a bright white spotlight and the bridge faded into shadows so that there was only Sisko and Kirk.

“Go ahead, captain.”

Kirk cleared his throat and looked up at the light.

“This is Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise. I am a representative of the United Federation of Planets, a peace loving organization that has recently been attacked by a fleet of warships from another galaxy. They claim to be representatives of a Galactic Empire. We need assistance. Please, if anyone can render aid please do so, our situation will grow dire very quickly.”

Sisko lightly brushed against Kirk’s arm and Kirk felt a rush of electricity and the next words out of his mouth were not his own.

“The Imperial Fleet is led by Darth Nemesis.”

Who in the hell was Darth Nemesis?

Sisko lowered his arms and the spotlight dimmed. Kirk was back on his bridge. The bridge officers watched him intently but the Spock and Sulu entities were staring hard at Sisko.

“The Sisko has influenced the Kirk.” Spock accused.

“The Sisko knows that such violations are anathema to us.”

“I know, but I also know that he needs all the help he can get and the aid he needs will not come without the message being clear.” Sisko replied sharply.

“The Sisko grows belligerent.”

“The Sisko has not learned much in the temple.”

“It’s my hope to teach you some day.” Sisko replied coolly.

The prophets exchanged puzzled glances.

“Captain, you have to know that sometimes, the help you call for and the help you receive may not be what you expect.” Sisko warned.

Kirk frowned.

“Now what is THAT supposed to mean?”

“Ah, I see your help has arrived!” Sisko exclaimed and clapped his hands good naturedly.

Kirk looked over at the view screen. A strange ship had entered the wormhole and was slowly approaching the Enterprise.

“What is that?” Kirk asked.

“You can say that again, Jim. It looks like my granddaddy’s outboard motor on his boat.” McCoy muttered.

Kirk looked around. The bridge had returned to normal. Everyone was going about their business.

“Spock?”

“Scanning, the vessel does not match any known configurations. Its power core is similar to the warships we encountered in the neutral zone. It seems to also be carrying several fighter type space craft. Weapons are superior to our own but no where near as numerous or as powerful as the Imperial warships.”

“Captain, I am receiving a hail from the ship. It’s called the Reckless Hope. The captain is requesting a meeting with you on board right away. They heard our distress call and have come to help.”

“Curious, we sent no distress call.” Spock noted.

“Mr. Spock, I wouldn’t exactly say that.” Kirk replied with a mysterious grin.

Spock raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“Inform the Captain of the Reckless Hope that I will be beaming aboard right away and to provide coordinates.”

“Aye sir.”

Kirk rose from his chair and smiled.

“Gentlemen, shall we?” He indicated to Spock and McCoy.

“You seem mighty sure of yourself.” McCoy stated eying Jim suspiciously.

“I feel like luck has turned to our side, for once Bones. You can say I’m high on hope.”

McCoy turned and looked over at the odd starship floating off their bow and smirked.

“Let’s hope it’s not a reckless hope.”

Kirk groaned as the turbolift doors hissed shut.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:07pm
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Chapter 13: Revelations in the void

Nemesis watched the fleet assembling and nodded to himself in satisfaction. This was the beginning of the end for the thorn in his side. The Federation had proven to be a more resilient foe than he could have imagined. Small, insignificant, a mere 150 member worlds with a Starfleet that could not challenge a single sector fleet of the empire on paper. But they had just destroyed one of the Empire’s sole supply bases in this miserable galaxy and had embarrassed them in the eyes of their provincial subjects.

Word had reached him of a small riot that had broken out on a small island to the south of the main continent. Thousands were burning him in effigy, cursing the empire and threatening revolt. News of the loss of Remus had been impossible to keep secret for very long. The sister world could be seen on a clear night and it was obvious that it was now a dead world. Silent and glassy hanging low over the horizon.

Nemesis had been tempted to order a full scale retaliation for the riot. But an idea struck him. If he ordered the rioting civilians to die, the military could turn on them and it would be a pointless waste of a battle, time that the empire did not have. So he decided to do something no other Sith lord had ever even attempted.

He decided to inspire the people.

Nemesis transmitted his holographic image across the entire planet.

“My Romulan subjects, we have all suffered a horrible blow at the treacherous hands of the Federation and the Klingon empire. While our fleet was away engaging a Borg fleet that was on the cusp of launching a full scale invasion on the Romulan provinces your valiant home guard was surprised by a fleet of Federation and Klingon warships, bent on destroying billions of lives and ripping the economic heart of the Romulan provinces. I am sorry to report that our fleet although victorious against the Borg,” simultaneously a hologram of the battle against the Borg was playing in the background of his transmission. “the Home guard was unable to prevent a horrible attack that ended with the death of over 6 billion of your fellow Romulans and our loyal subjects. What is the empire’s response to this unwarranted and savage act?” He looked down on the worldwide audience. Many of the rioters had stopped, most looked up in a mix of sorrow and anger as images of the Battle of Remus played out in the background, ending with the detonation of the device that ended all life on the planet. Many of the Romulans fought back tears as the hologram focused on the now dead world.

“Revenge!” Nemesis shouted. “We will descend upon your enemies like a tempest, they have sown holocausts and deaths now they shall reap the whirlwind of our righteous rage!” Nemesis snarled. Some of the Romulans began shouting encouragement. “The Klingons will learn to lick your boot heels, they have lived their lives by the sword, now they will most assuredly die by that same sword.” More Romulans began shouting, many chanting. “The Federation will be taken down from their high and mighty lofty towers and we will burn their so called superior culture to the ground and salt the earth where it lies. In the end, Remus’ blood will have brought the future of a Romulan empire that spans the entire galaxy.” The holographic background depicted a galaxy and the insignia of the Romulan Empire coupled with the Imperial seal, great green fingers slowly unfurled form the center of the twin seals, clutching the galaxy in a fist. “And our empire will never know an end.” Nemesis whispered he final part like a solemn vow.

There was absolute silence for a long moment all throughout Romulus. It was as if the entire world was holding its collective breath. Nemesis stood towering above them, arms crossed across his chest, waiting.

“Nemesis! Nemesis!” the chant began. It started with several Romulans scattered throughout the cities on Romulus but soon the chant rose in strength as the hologram switched to an enormous armada orbiting Romulus, Stardestroyers flanked the Emperor’s Will like great ivory war hounds. Wings of warbirds stretched out around the entire fleet, like a sea of green. They flashed along, quickly moving among the massive stardestroyers like remora on a shark. Hundreds of warbirds gathered together with the mighty Imperial fleet. The citizens of Romulus had not seen a sight like this even during the height of the Dominion war.

“Nemesis! Nemesis!” The chant rose like a war cry as hundreds became thousands, many with fists raised in the air in time with the chant. Raw fury was on the eyes and lips of those that called for Nemesis to be their avenging angel.

“Point the way to our enemy, show us the way to vengeance!” Nemesis shouted, and as one, the crowd roared, pointing to the heavens, to the cluster of stars where the tiny Sol system lay nestled. They were no longer a million disparate voices, but one unified voice, and then, unbidden, another chant began, it was the Romulan anthem. The masses began singing it as they watched their armada slowly break from orbit.

They knew now that blood would be exacted for what had occurred on Remus. Nemesis, the avenging angel as he was slowly becoming known, would not allow this crime to go unpunished.

“As we leave you, be happy, for already, your valiant forces have begun striking blows for freedom and justice. The neutral zone has collapsed, the Klingon border posts which had stood imposing for so many decades are burning.”

The hologram shifted to various views of different battles. Warbirds swarmed around lone Federation starships on patrol. They decloaked and opened fire without pause. Wings of warbirds flashed by Klingon outposts, plasma torpedoes exploding with a cascade of fire that embraced the entire outpost. Klingon ships fled, not conceiving that such a force was flying against them. And the hologram returned to the sight of the great war fleet as it departed.

“We shall return victorious and we shall not rest until all the war criminals are brought back to Romulus for trial. We are in this together now. Your brave sons and daughters stand side by side with your Imperial brothers as we bring the galaxy under our wing. Work hard, build quickly and help your fellow Romulans as we embark on the Grand Offensive.”

The hologram shifted again back to Nemesis.

He looked down on the people like some black robed god of vengeance.

“There is no other way than victory.”

The crowds roared their approval as his image wavered and turned off.

He stood proudly for a moment before the holotransmitter before turning away.

“Masterful, Lord Nemesis. You were as inspiring as the emperor himself, why you yourself would make a great emperor of this backwater!” Branna exclaimed.

Nemesis paused and turned his head slowly to regard the young captain with a sharp penetrating glare. Kittaine was uncertain what was going to happen, but the sour look on Mara Jade’s features told him that Branna had certainly said something wrong.

“Because your service to us has been flawless and loyal and because I can glean that you meant nothing by those words I will let you live, Captain.” Nemesis replied, voice like a tomb.

Branna blanched.

Nemesis stalked off the bridge. Mara remained behind for a moment.

“What did I say?” Branna stammered.

“You insinuated to a Sith Lord that they could or should supplant the Emperor. You even went so far to suggest that he begin his own empire here and place himself as emperor. The Sith are extremely sensitive to such suggestions. The last man to suggest something like that to Lord Vader found himself in Vader’s private fortress watching bore worms eat his vital organs and then have the process begin all over again as medical droids regenerated the organs.” Mara smiled coolly. “I do believe you can still hear his screams if you walk down the right corridor. Be thankful, Captain, Lord Nemesis was uncharacteristically merciful.” Mara added then turned on her heel and left.






The cavernous hangar bay of the Reckless Hope was filled with troops and pilots as three shimmering columns of light appeared in the center of the bay. Kirk, Spock and McCoy materialized. Captain Entebbe was waiting for them, his female Vulcan first officer stood by his side.

“Captain Entebbe, a pleasure sir. Good to see that I have some company on this first contact.”

“My pleasure captain Kirk.” Entebbe replied with a warm grin. “This is my first officer, T’Rees.”

“I must say Captain Kirk, that I filed a formal protest against the captain’s actions of late. We have violated Star Fleet regulations because of a simple case of hero worship.” She added coolly.

“Oh?” Kirk replied.

T’Rees suddenly caught sight of Spock and she straightened slightly.

“Mr. Spock. It is an honor to meet you.” She stated formally.

Entebbe and Kirk exchanged knowing glances while McCoy openly smirked.

Someone cleared his throat and Kirk and company turned. Standing in the center of the gathered troops was a young man, black hair kept short, obviously a military man, but upon closer inspection, Kirk surmised that he was a pilot. He had the same look in his eye that Sulu had. They seemed to see farther and they were sharper. Very little escaped this man’s notice.

“My name is Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. I’ve come as a representative of the United Federation of Planets.”

The young man nodded and smiled softly.

“A pleasure Captain. I’m Commander Wedge Antilles.”

“Are you the commander of this ship?”

“No sir.” He replied and shook his head. “I am a squadron commander for rogue Squadron, finest starfighter squadron in the rebel alliance.” He answered and pointed to the dangerous looking fighters in the background of the hangar.

“I’m in command here, captain.” A young woman interjected. Kirk regarded the newcomer. She was short but her eyes belied a passion and force of will that could not be overcome. She was also extremely beautiful, her brown hair was up in a set of buns on the top of her head, with several braids interlinked between the two. She wore a light blue uniform that had a distinctly ceremonial cut to it, it was not a military uniform. It looked more like a gown or casual wear for a noble woman.

Behind her strode an imposing companion, well over two meters tall, thick brown fur covered the thing’s entire body. Kirk thought back to the big foot legends he heard while growing up in Iowa. He wore a silver bandolier strap and carried a wicked looking crossbow. He never strayed more than an arms length away from the woman and she seemed quiet comfortable with his presence.

Standing to her left were two androids or robots, he was not sure. One was a tall slim golden robot, obviously humanoid in shape, his companion was a short squat blue and white robot that seemed to be whistling quietly, as if the whistles were a language.

“I’m princess Leia Organna. I am a duly appointed representative of the Rebel Alliance. I’ve come to help.” She answered with a soft smile and an inclination of her head.

“This is Chewbacca my aide and bodyguard, and these are my droids, R-2 D-2 and C-3PO.” She added.

“A pleasure Princess. If you don’t mind my asking, where is the rest of your fleet?” Kirk asked.

“Pardon?”

“Well, my distress call was very clear that we had an Imperial fleet running rampant in my galaxy,” Kirk glanced around the hangar. “You’ll excuse me if I say this does not qualify as a fleet to me.”

“You’re very direct.” Leia replied sharply.

Wedge frowned.

“Do you have any idea what is going on back home for us? We have been fighting this Empire for years, our resources are extremely limited. We are embarking on the largest and riskiest battle in Alliance history that could turn the tide of this conflict. It took all of my powers of persuasion and calling in almost every favor I had with the Alliance to take my flagship into the wormhole that had suddenly appeared near Sullust to come help you.” Leia explained.

“You’re not here to help us are you?” Kirk replied softly as realization flashed in his mind. Sisko’s words in his mouth, the subtle warning. He had expected a fleet of ships that could stand up to the Imperial forces. Instead here was this lone ship and it was beginning to look like this was the extent of his help.

“Of course we are you ungrateful-“ Wedge began to protest but Leia shot him a warning glance and he quieted down but continued glaring at Kirk.

“Jim, I didn’t know that part of your negotiating tact was to insult potential allies.” McCoy muttered, gripping Kirk’s shoulder.

“Indeed, Doctor, it seems that the Captain is correct. Logically if you were here to help us you should know that this ship is wholly inadequate to fight against the fleet we have seen. Judging by the power consumption curves on their reactor system, size and armament load out, in comparison to the Imperial warships we saw, this vessel could be considered no more than a destroyer, or frigate perhaps.” Spock commented eyeing the hangar bay with a critical eye. He turned his attention to Leia. “The captain is correct, you have not come to give us direct military assistance. Logically there is another agenda at work here.”

“I must say that for people asking for help they are rather rude, your highness.” C-3PO commented in a British accent. Kirk and McCoy exchanged coy glances.

“What does the name Darth Nemesis mean to you?” Kirk asked. Leia suddenly looked uncomfortable and Wedge shifted on his feet slightly. It was as if Kirk had conjured some ghost before them.

His eyes narrowed on Leia.

“This is personal isn’t it?” Kirk pressed.

“Captain, you can either accept our help or we can return back to our fleet. The alliance is going to need every ship it has in the coming battle.” Leia replied frostily. Kirk watched her for a moment. He thought he caught something in her gaze. Upon closer inspection this beautiful young woman looked slightly haggard, circles under her eyes and lines along her cheeks that indicated stress. He was no doctor but this was a woman who was suffering about something.

“I need every ship I can get my hands on for this battle in my galaxy, but I will not accept help from people who have secret agendas. If this Darth Nemesis is the real reason why you’re here then let me know that and I’ll be on my way. I won’t parlay the Federation’s hopes for someone’s personal quest for vengeance.”

Wedge began to protest.

“You see because I personally don’t care what this Nemesis has done to you, all I know that he is ripping a path of bloody destruction through my galaxy and the Federation is firmly in his sights. You try to exact revenge and all that you will accomplish is get yourselves killed and many of my people in the process. I have no time to deal with so called allies that view as a necessary evil to complete some personal goal. This is about saving a galaxy, not your personal feelings…if you can’t understand that, then I’ll go this alone.” Kirk continued then forcefully pulled out his communicator and flipped it open.

“Kirk to Enterprise. Prepare to beam us back up.” he stated stonily, eyes boring into Leia’s.

“Aye sir.”

“Tell him.” Wedge demanded of Leia. She frowned slightly but the mask of control remained. She turned and exchanged a quick look with Chewbacca. She took a deep breath.

“Captain Kirk, you’re right.”

Kirk paused, communicator still open.

“We came here because your distress call mentioned Lord Darth Nemesis. He is a minion of the emperor, the man who rules the Empire which we have been fighting a civil war and have now invaded your galaxy. We don’t intend to kill him however, you see,” she paused and it was clear that this was uncomfortable for her, perhaps even painful. “Darth Nemesis was a friend of ours. He was a hero of the Rebel Alliance.”

“He was the best damned pilot I ever met and a good friend.” Wedge added sadly.

“I’ve come because I want to confront him here, while he is away from the emperor and the influence of Lord Vader, another Sith Lord that turned him into the man you know now. I want to see if we can bring him back with us, return him into the light as the man we all knew…and loved.”

Kirk slowly nodded.

“And you think this is possible?” he asked seriously.

“Yes, Captain. I’m staking my life on it. We will help you fight the empire, we may not be much but we will do what we can. But in the end, my true mission is to return Darth Nemesis back to then man he used to be.”

“You really think you can do this? This Darth Nemesis is responsible for some vicious acts back in our galaxy and he is about to invade the Federation.” McCoy added.

“I have to try.” she replied sternly. She looked over at Kirk. “I owe it to him.”

Kirk nodded.

“Believe me, I understand, this is about friendship and loyalty.”

“Above everything else.” she added.

“Believe me captain, I know this does not exactly sound like what you wanted or expected, but this is the help I can offer you. I know that if I can face him, he will return to the light, I cannot believe that the hero I knew could forget all that he was. I knew him before he accepted that damnable Sith title, before he gave himself over to the Emperor and the vile machinations of Darth Vader. I knew him when he was nothing more than a farm boy with fantasies of adventure, who struck a mighty blow against the empire and could not fit in Storm trooper armor.”

Wedge smiled softly.

Leis locked eyes with Kirk.

“I knew him when his name was Luke Skywalker. I won’t abandon him to the shadows.” she stated grimly.

There was silence in the hangar bay as both parties regarded each other cautiously.

Kirk broke the silence with a boyish grin.

“Princess, welcome to the war effort.”

She nodded and there was a wave of relief and gratitude on her face.

The pilots and soldiers all grinned and laughed as they walked over to Kirk and the others, slapping their shoulders and exchanging handshakes. The joy of the meeting was contagious as McCoy was soon laughing as well as Entebbe. Spock and T’Rees kept a distance form the others but politely exchanged pleasantries.

Leia walked up to Kirk and they faced each other.

“Captain, I take it you understand what I was talking about.”

Kirk nodded solemnly.

“I understand loyalty and friendship well enough princess. I also understand a saying that my logical friend, Mr. Spock would call a fallacy, the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.”

Leia smiled and nodded.

“I am C-3PO Human cyborg relations, my facilities are at your disposal.” C-3PO proudly announced to Kirk.

“What facilities would that be?” McCoy asked with a wry grin.

“I am fluent in over nine million forms of communication.” C-3PO answered matter of factly. McCoy nodded.

“Great, Jim. It’s a walking universal translator.”

“Pardon me?” C-3PO asked bewildered.

“I’m glad to see our crews getting along. We’re going to have to make a bee line for Earth and hope that you can provide us with information we can use in trying to halt the Imperial invasion, then you have my word that I will personally get you to face Skywalker.”

Leia sighed.

“Thank you, Captain. This has been hard on all of us. The Alliance lost some of its greatest heroes in the last few months just when we needed them. I can only hope that we can recover Luke in time to help us in the assault on Endor.”

The jubilant atmosphere soon vanished as the hangar shook violently. Some of the pilots immediately scrambled to their gear and ships.

“Princess, Imperial heavy turbolaser fire is penetrating the wormhole’s event horizon. I don’t think we’re directly under attack but they are definitely blasting away into the wormhole with some unknown intent.”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

“They intend to collapse the wormhole.” Spock answered.

Kirk turned quickly to his first officer but suddenly the hangar deck was bathed in a soft yellow light and a slow heartbeat filled the air.

“The Kirk must leave.”

“The temple will close now.”

“Captain.” Sisko appeared by his side, concern on his face. “The Imperials are trying to collapse the wormhole, but the prophets are going to close the wormhole anyway. The celestial temple must shut its doors as it did in the past until this crisis abates.”

“What do you mean captain?”

Sisko smiled softly.

“We’re not going to see each other again, Captain. It was an honor and a pleasure to help you in this task. Know this captain, you hold the keys to victory, you simply must find them and unlock the door to the answer. It is all on you now. We have provided you with one vital key,” he paused to look meaningfully at Leia. “It’s up to you to find the others.”

“That won’t be easy if I don’t know where to look.”

“Nothing worth doing is ever easy captain. But take heart, you’re James T. Kirk. The universe has a way of making things reveal themselves to you.” Sisko replied with a wink. He stood up straight and snapped off a perfect salute.

“Thank you, Captain.” he stated and disappeared.

The hangar bay returned to normal.

“We have to get to our ships.” Entebbe urged.

Kirk held up a hand.

“Hold on. We have to think clearly. The Imperial ships,” “Stardestroyers.” Leia corrected. “The stardestroyers,” Kirk continued without pause. “have a way of laying down energy flak that disables our warp drives. When we pop out of this wormhole, they’ll simply stop us from escaping. Your FTL drive is the same as theirs?”

“Yes, we use a system known as hyperdrive.” she answered as the hangar shook again.

“And they cannot be impeded by their flak?”

“No, Captain, we will be able to get away, but what about you?”

Kirk smiled slowly.

“I noticed some docking ports on the sides and bottom of your ship, what’s their weight limitation?”

Leia smiled in return as she understood what he planned.





“Now that was unexpected.” Q smirked.

The silver eyed player stared down at the board, face impassive but the fury could be seen twitching in the corners of his mouth.

“Why her?”

“Afraid that she may have some power over your Darth Nemesis?” Q asked.

The silver eyed player stared up at him and sneered.

“If I were you, I would be fearing for her final fate. Never underestimate the desperation of a man trying to forget a past life.”

“Really?” Q asked pointedly and stared at the player.

A gamut of emotions played across the silver eyed face and finally settled into a carefully crafted sneer of derision.

“At least the continuum hasn’t declared me brain damaged due to my association with humans.”

“Come now, brain damaged wasn’t exactly the phrase.” Q protested.

“Ah, yes. Retarded, I think it was.” the player answered without pause, a cold smile on his face.

Q shrugged.

“It matters not, bring whatever the fates have in store, James Kirk will learn the bitter taste of defeat. The forces arrayed against him are insurmountable. He will learn about betrayal and weakness.” The player fingered the piece that resembled a Constitution class cruiser. “And when he stands alone, among the ruins, all that he has ever cared about or loved gone and victory snatched from him, he will be broken. And I will be there. And he will beg me for death.” the silver eyes slowly tracked up and locked with Q’s eyes. “And like a merciful avenging god, I shall grant it to him.” the smile on the player’s lips was like ice. “Slowly.”

Q shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“And here I thought this was a grand experiment on the nature of humanity and heroism.”

“This is about a great many things.” the silver eyed player answered.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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Chapter 14: A Pretty Lie


Tarsi smiled grimly as another volley of heavy turbolaser fire ripped into the swirling bright light of the wormhole’s event horizon. Explosions rippled deep within after each strike, confirmation of the Adjudicator’s power and accuracy. He pointedly ignored the pyrotechnic display outside of his ship, port side aft. The Federation station Deep Space Nine had warned them several times to not approach the wormhole.

The Adjudicator continued on, observing radio silence as they slid into firing position. The station then threatened a violent response if the Adjudicator did not immediately withdraw. Tarsi nearly laughed out loud at the utter emptiness of the threat coupled with the voice of the one issuing the warning, she sounded like an unsure child.

As soon as their weapons began powering up the station suddenly revealed hidden phaser arrays and torpedo launchers. The station began firing on them. Tarsi contemplated blowing them out of the stars for the insolence and defiance. But instead, he decided that his silence and the Adjudicator’s utter lack of response as Deep Space Nine concentrated all its fire on them was a powerful statement on its own.

His tactical officer and his new Vulcan liaison, Xon, both concurred that two more volleys would be more than enough to collapse the wormhole. Tarsi was impatient. He had dispatched the executioner ahead of him to begin the offensive in the Klingon empire. He wanted to be there when the fleet finally bulled its way to the Klingon homeworld.

He understood the importance of the target and why the wormhole needed to be closed. It denied one of the most powerful military forces direct access to this quadrant of space. But it still irked Tarsi that he had been relegated this duty. Kittaine assured him that it was a sign of the supreme confidence Nemesis had in him that he was assigned the vital assignments. Tarsi did not see it that way. Conquest of the Klingon empire was something that interested him, controlling Vulcan, rebuffing Federation counterattacks, they were the meat of his interests. Collapsing wormholes and doing battle with inconsequential space stations, alone, without a fleet was definitely not what he wanted.

He would bring distinction on himself during this Klingon campaign, he promised himself.

“Sir, we’re picking up an energy spike within the wormhole. It looks like something is emerging out of the event horizon.” His tactical officer warned.

“Standby on all tertiary weapons, we may need to get a snap shot off.” Tarsi warned and stalked over to the view port just as an object flashed out of the swirling maelstrom of light.

“By the emperor.” Tarsi breathed as he recognized the familiar shape of the Nebulon B frigate. “What are those?” he demanded pointing to two vessels latched on to the Nebulon’s dorsal and ventral main couplings.

“They are Federation starships, one of them is an ancient Constitution class starship…fascinating.” Xon replied and arched an eyebrow. Tarsi shot him an annoyed glare before turning back to his tactical officer.

“Verify she is not one of ours.” He ordered.

There was very little doubt in Tarsi’s mind that this was not one of their ships. The frigate was quickly accelerating away from them. But Tarsi had a reputation to maintain. Many claimed that Tarsi was a berserker, a warrior who believed in firing first and asking questions later. However, the incidence of friendly fire in his command was nil. It was one of the many reasons why Tarsi inspired such near fanatical devotion from his men. He was not a stardestroyer commander that simply waded in, turbolasers blazing, casualties be damned.

“Confirmed, sir. The ship’s Id matches that of a ship we lost back at the Maw. I’m also detecting alliance starfighters in her hangars.”

Tarsi smiled and to Xon it resembled a satisfied smirk. A hunter preparing to chase the prey.

“Commence bombardment with all batteries, I want her destroyed or disabled before she can make the jump to lightspeed.”

He could feel the Adjudicator starting to rumble under his feet as the engines switched on to pursuit mode, accelerating the leviathan of a warship towards the rapidly retreating Nebulon. Within seconds flashes of deadly emerald beams lanced out after the frigate.




“We’re taking fire!” Sulu warned.

“I see it, Sulu, Spock how are those modifications coming along?” Kirk asked as he kept an eye on the screen. The massive Imperial Stardestroyer was rotating and beginning to surge ahead after them. He noted with some dismay the utter lack of effect Deep Space Nine’s volleys of fire were having on the warship.

“We will need a few more moments to replace the fuses.” Spock reported dispassionately.

“Scotty?”

“I’m working as fast as I can, Captain!” Scotty replied breathlessly on the intercom.

“Captain, any time now would be nice.” Leia’s voice came on the com.

“Give me a minute, princess.” Kirk replied. A salvo of turbolaser fire exploded directly overhead and shook the Enterprise violently. Kirk knew they just did not have much time left. The Adjudicator had their range, now they would be bracketed.

Sulu grimaced and his hands hovered uselessly over the helm controls.

“Are you alright?” Chekov asked, fighting the nervousness he felt as the ship shook around them.

“I hate to be helpless, Pavel. We’re docked to this rebel ship and I can’t so much as execute a single evasive maneuver. We’re totally dependent on those rebel helmsman and I don’t trust anyone with my life except me.”

Chekov nodded.

“I know how you feel. I don’t trust any other helmsman with my life except you as well.”

Sulu smiled warmly at his friend.

“Torpedoes, active and recalibrated.” Spock reported.

“Princess standby, we are firing in four seconds…mark.” Kirk nodded to Sulu who immediately lined up the shots and fired.

“Sagan firing remodulated torpedoes as well.” Uhura reported.




“What are they doing? Worthless fools.” Tarsi sneered as the Federation ships piggybacking on the Nebulon B began launching torpedoes at them.

“Desperation often creates abnormal responses.” Xon noted coolly.

“Do you have any feeling at all, Xon? Those are your people out there that I am about to blow out of the stars.” Tarsi snapped.

Before Xon could answer, the first wave of torpedoes exploded several hundred meters before striking the Adjudicator. The torpedoes’ explosions were like small stars, bright flashes of light blinded everyone on the Adjudicator’s bridge, moments before the auto shading activated on the windows. Tarsi blinked his eyes furiously.

“Track them damnit, all heavy turbolasers on flak mode, blanket the area!” Tarsi ordered.

He could feel the great guns directly near the base of the bridge tower firing, it was always a comforting feeling for him, but now he felt helpless as white blobs slowly faded from his field of vision.

“Sir, picking up an energy spike, looks like the Nebulon jumped to hyperspace.”

“What happened? I want a report.” Tarsi roared as his vision finally began to clear up. Soon his bridge officers were not just indistinct blobs moving around a hazy field of white, Xon stood still, hands clasped behind his back, he did not look as flustered as the others.

“Why aren’t you blinded, Xon?” Tarsi asked suspiciously.

“My people have a nictating membrane to protect us from bright light. Obviously it protected me from the worst effects of the blast.” Xon replied.

Tarsi smirked and turned around.

“Do we have a heading based on their last unknown trajectory?” Tarsi demanded as he stalked over to the navigation station.

“Sir, the Federation torpedoes exploded on two specific frequencies. Visible light,” “Obviously!” Tarsi snapped. “And the exact same frequency our passive scanners use to track targets going to hyperspace. We lost them for only a few seconds until the computer compensated, but that was all the time they needed to make the jump.”

“Rebels. That scum must have given them the frequency.” Tarsi muttered.

“Federation weapons technology has always proven very mutable.” Xon added dryly.

Tarsi eyed the tall cold Vulcan with a mix of contempt and anger. He briefly considered shooting the bastard where he stood. He decided against it. Barely.

“Mutable or not, that is the second time that particular vessel has escaped me.” Tarsi hissed.

“Which one?” Xon asked curiously.

“That Constitution class cruiser you mentioned. I am almost certain she was at our first encounter with your Federation.”

“Interesting.” Xon stated neutrally.

“I want that ship found. He will not escape me again.” Tarsi snapped.

“And Lord Nemesis’ orders, sir?” his XO asked cautiously. “The Executioner is waiting for us, the offensive in Klingon space has begun. We have our orders. That Federation ship can wait.”

Tarsi glared at his XO.

“You know I’m right sir. Nemesis will not brook personal feelings interfering in his plans.” His XO continued quietly.

Tarsi took one last look back at the space where the rebel ship had just been only moments before.

“There will be another time and a place. But for now, finish collapsing the wormhole, then set course for the Executioner’s current position.” Tarsi relented and waved everyone away.





Captain’s Log. Stardate 18747.2

Acting Captain, William T. Riker Reporting:

The Enterprise is underway to Starbase 342, we have just come out of pitched battle with a wing of Romulan warbirds that have tried to cross into Federation space. The Enterprise, Comanche and Farragut engaged the Romulan intruders. Unfortunately we lost the Comanche and the Farragut, but managed to drive off the Romulan attack. The Enterprise has suffered extensive battle damage, over 40% of the crew is wounded or dead.

I am proud of the Enterprise, we accounted for over half the destroyed or crippled warbirds in the battle. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Romulan warbirds have crossed the neutral zone in force. As far as we know, they have penetrated in most cases deep into Federation space. The Romulans have gained almost complete tactical and strategic surprise.

After the Dominion War, the vast majority of the Federation fleet has been concentrated in the heart of the Federation for repair and refit. The fringes have been left to the ships kept out of the war like the Enterprise. The Federation hoped that the goodwill generated by the alliance in that war would help keep formerly volatile borders like the one the Federation shared with the Romulans under control, thus limiting the amount of ships needed on patrol.

It seems that the Romulans waited for precisely this occasion to launch a strike into Federation space. Though their initial blows were met with heavy casualties against the Romulans, they are driving deep into Federation space. The majority of Star Fleet is mobilizing but we don’t know how far the Romulans will get until we can begin to repulse them.

I am also worried by reports from Earth. Reports that Captain Picard may have been the first victim of this Romulan aggression.


Captain’s Log Supplemental:

The Enterprise has diverted from Star Base 342. Starfleet has sent a general order on all subspace bands and frequencies. All starships are to divert to Earth. It seems that forces allied with the Romulans known as the Galactic Empire are converging on Earth. The 7th Fleet, newly rebuilt and refitted just went to battle against the Imperial forces in the Typhon sector. Not a single ship survived and the Imperial Forces are not making any secret of where they are going. Earth.





“Hold it sir.”

“You can’t go in there, sir.”

The doors to Captain Durant’s ready room slid open and Jean Luc Picard barged in, two Data type androids were trying to hold him back, but they had to be careful, one small twist or pull the wrong way would cripple Picard instantly.

Durant looked up from the computer where he was reviewing the current strategic maps.

“Please, let captain Picard pass.” Durant ordered.

The androids hesitated for a moment, eyeing Picard critically before releasing him and walking out of the office. The doors quietly slid shut.

“Captain, can I offer you a drink, some tea perhaps?” Durant asked casually and indicated an open chair opposite his desk.

“You are a cold blooded and callous murderer, Captain Durant. You should be ashamed to wear that uniform.” Picard snapped not moving from his place standing by the doors. His face was dark with rage

“Excuse me?” Durant asked quietly.

“You are responsible for the death of billions of Romulans, not to mention the deaths of untold Federation citizens when the empire responds to our attack. Do you any idea what you have done?” Picard demanded.

Durant slowly sat back and folded his hands over each other as he regarded Picard with a cool gaze.

“I know that I have severed one of the Empire’s vital supply lines, as well as crippling the Romulan economy beyond repair. They relied on Remus for over 70% of their energy output. It’s Praxis all over again. The Klingons never really recovered from that fiasco you know. They are still an energy poor empire, they’re just lucky that there’s nothing really worth having in Klingon space.”

“Don’t change the subject. You deployed a strategic weapon to do your dirty work.”

“How else would you have me sever the supply base? Orbital bombardment would have still killed millions and it could be repaired, Picard. Are you objecting to the amount of damage and death caused in relation to the Shiva effect?”

“No, I am aghast that you would so callously slaughter billions and leave a world utterly uninhabitable. As a Starfleet captain you should know that there is nothing more valuable in this galaxy than a class M world. We not only slaughtered those people we denied them a planet to ever settle again. They will hate us forever. Remus will be a monument to hatred for all eternity and you are responsible for that.”

“Please, Picard. I have no time to think of the DIPLOMATIC repercussions when the very Federation is about to be overwhelmed by a superior foe.”

“I’ve seen the reports. They’re coming, in force, and they are driving straight for Earth. You saw what their superlaser could do to Romulas. Now it is on your head that the same fate will befall Earth.”

“What makes you say that?” Durant asked sharply.

“When you deploy a strategic weapon like the Little Boy, you leave the enemy no other alternative but to deploy their own strategic weapons in response or face extinction. I thought you as some sort of military genius would understand that. They have no choice now but to use the superlaser on Earth.”

“They won’t.” Durant answered, gaze boring into Picard.

“What makes you so sure?”

“Because they have a scapegoat. They have someone they go blow straight to hell without remorse. They need the Federation. It is obvious from their treatment of Vulcan. They want our scientific know how, not to mention the fact that we are the richest and most advanced empire in this quadrant. They don’t want to lose that. The empire is aggressive and powerful but they are not fools, Picard.”

“The Klingons.” Picard breathed as his eyes widened slightly at the revelation.

“You’re a smart man.” Durant replied wanly.

“You’re bringing down the wrath of the Empire on the Klingons and they are completely innocent. Is there no end to your depravity?” Picard shouted and took several steps towards Durant.

Durant calmly held up a hand.

“Picard, the others told me it was a mistake to pick you for our fleet, but I felt otherwise. Usually we pick our candidates from the academy or on their first assignment, before the Starfleet indoctrination can really take a firm hold.”

Picard stared at the young man, aghast at the words coming from his mouth. He also felt a sense of creeping shame. The same system that had created him had created this young dictator in the making. His moral relativism would mean the end of all of them.

He was not sure precisely when he decided that he would have to kill Durant.

“But someone like you, who has been a bastion of Federation thought and philosophy would never accept our rather gray operations. We work on the fringes of everything you believe in, but here is the kicker, Picard. I am ready willing and able to lay down my life for you and your beliefs. I am a patriot, Picard, as is everyone else in the shadow fleet. We lost some fine men in that battle, men you did not know but whom I learned from. I mourn them deeply but they died fighting for what they believed in. I also believe in one very simple formula. The life of a single Federation citizen is worth more to me than a million Romulans. So when you point to Remus as an example of our cruelty and inhumanity, I point to it as sign of our fierce devotion to our cause. Take one world from the Federation and we will reduce yours to glass.”

Picard blinked.

“You’ve learned nothing your whole life. You claim to be a patriot but in order to love the Federation as you claim to do, you must love everything about her, including her ideals. The Federation is not a cafeteria, Durant, you cannot pick and choose what you like about her. A true patriot loves everything about the Federation, blemishes and all.”

Durant smiled.

“That is precisely the attitude they warned me about, but I thought I had a keener insight on your mind. You were a rebel, Starfleet was always trying to reign you in. You’ve violated the Prime Directive more times than even Kirk, I think, and your recent actions on Baku point out to me that although you would fight and die for the Federation you do not always agree with what she has to say.”

Picard stared back at the young man. What could he say? His record could be interpreted precisely in the manner he just described.

“You thought wrong.”

Durant smiled softly.

“I don’t think so, unfortunately you have come at a bad time and have seen a rather ugly side of our work.” Durant paused and put a finger to his chin. “I wonder, would you be in this office as angry as you are had I deployed the Little Boy against a Borg world?” he asked.

Picard’s jaw tightened.

“That is a different matter altogether.”

“Really?”

“I will not debate this nay further with you. I want you to return me to Earth where I can take part in her defense.”

Durant looked genuinely surprised.

“You can’t go back.”

“What?!” Picard exclaimed.

“Did you really think I showed you the inner workings of the shadow fleet so that you could return to Earth and tell everyone about us?” Durant asked incredulously.

“What are you saying?” Picard whispered, feeling his stomach drop out beneath him.

Durant turned his computer around so that the screen faced Picard. He tapped a few keystrokes and the image flashed to a news article. Picard’s face was on the front page. It was a standard face shot that all officers took every few years so that Starfleet had it on hand in case a newsworthy event happened.

He leaned in closely and his eyes narrowed on the headline.

“Starfleet Legendary Captain Jean Luc Picard Believed Assassinated by Romulan Agents.”

Picard shot a glance up at Durant who was watching him.

“I’m sorry Picard. But Adare staged your kidnapping using a Romulan weapon so that we could set up the cover story if you worked out. Your actions in the war so far have been acceptable to me. The Valhalla performed well in the battle, you’ll fit right in.”

“I don’t believe this.”

“I’m sorry, Picard. But as far as the Federation is concerned, you were killed by Romulan agents in your apartment, the energy signature of the weapon was lifted off the floor and wall panels of your bedroom. Many believe that it was a prelude to the war now, others theorize you were killed because you knew something they didn’t want you to know, and some conspiracy theorists say you were killed by the Federation to silence you before you exposed the whole Baku matter to the world.”

Picard stared at the young man as he felt his world changing all around him.

“Adare is really quite good at this. If you want I can give you holotapes of your state funeral.” Durant leaned in close. “I’m sorry, Picard. There is no out, there is no through. Once you join the shadow fleet, it’s for life.”




Kirk groaned as he lay back in his bed. McCoy had griped that he needed sleep and despite his protests he knew Bones was right. He had not slept since this crisis began and Leia assured him that they would reach Earth in under 6 hours, enough time to catch a quick nap.

He insisted on briefing her what to expect, but she smiled and explained that she had been the Alliance’s de facto ambassador at large for over 10 years and she had met with all manner of aliens and cultures, she would know how to react to the Federation. Kirk noted the very brief flicker of a glance between her and McCoy and knew that Bones had spoken to her in private.

“Bastard.” he muttered as his eyes slowly fluttered closed.

He was standing at a hilltop, he could see as far as the horizon in every direction and the sun was slowly setting. There was a quiet peace here. He slowly slumped against a proud oak tree and watched the clouds unfurling over head.

“Your dreams are far more peaceful than your real life. I always wondered how you kept sane, this must be it.”

Kirk jumped up.

Standing on the opposite side of the tree was a middle aged man, thinning hair and prominent nose. His lips were pursed in a smirk.

“Who are you?”

“A figment of your imagination?”

“I’ve had my mind prodded and poked enough to know when I’m being telepathically scanned.” Kirk countered.

The man shrugged and snapped his fingers. He vanished in a flash of light and reappeared sitting where Kirk had been sitting before he leapt up.

“You and I have a connection that goes way back, Kirk. You can say that you inspired me throughout much of my life.”

“I don’t have a clue in hell what you’re talking about.” Kirk replied sharply.

“Come now, Mon Capitan, look closely at me, surely you see some of the young child I once was. I’m not THAT old you know.” the mysterious stranger replied with a hooded smile.

Kirk stared hard and had to admit there was something there.

“Something about is familiar. Something about the eyes, that stupid smirk of yours.” Kirk admitted.

“My parents were very cross with you. They blamed you for instilling me this attraction to humanity. My people find the obsession a tad, embarrassing.”

“Your parents?” Kirk replied and something flashed in his mind. The smile, that insufferable twinkle in the eyes.

“Trelayne!” Kirk exclaimed.

The man smiled and suddenly he vanished in another flash of light and reappeared behind Kirk dressed in that silly Napoleonic era uniform he wore when they first met/

“The squire of Gothos at your service.” he mock bowed. “My parents were not thrilled by the title so when I grew up I took the far more proper and boring title of Q.”

“Q?” Kirk repeated.

“I know, I know, you think I sold out, but let me tell you, you think peer pressure is horrible amongst you humans, it’s an absolute bitch amongst gods.”

Kirk smirked.

Q held up his hand and nodded.

“I know what you’re going to say, Captain. You don’t believe in gods but I’m just using a term you understand. Your species has so much trouble grasping some of the more ephemeral qualities of reality, yet you certainly have no problems toying with it.”

“Get to the point, Q. What do you want?” Kirk looked a little annoyed for a moment. “Damn it, I’m calling you Trelayne! What kind of name is Q?”

Q smiled.

“That’s my boy, Kirk. Always railing against the universe, whether you have a chance at winning or not.”

“I don’t like to lose.” Kirk replied.

Q nodded sagely.

“Above all else, this trait will either be your downfall or your saving grace.”

“How about telling me what this is all about.” Kirk replied, crossing his arms.

“The universe hangs in the balance, Kirk. I come here to your dreams because he cannot see into your subconscious. Unfortunately, he is watching all other avenues so I am forced to become nothing more than a dream in your mind. Not a comfortable position for one who spans space and time.”

“You always had a penchant for hyperbole, Trelayne.” Kirk replied with a smirk.

Q smirked as well and snapped his fingers. There was a flash all around them and now Kirk stood on an asteroid in deep space. Q stood by his side, looking on grimly at a massive spiral galaxy slowly spinning beneath them.

“What the hell?!” Kirk exclaimed and looked around quickly, prepared to feel the crushing cold of the void, but he stood on the asteroid in his uniform and not a strand of hair moved in the stillness.

“Trust me enough not to want to kill you.” Q added wanly.

Kirk frowned but then something caught his eye and he whirled. The spiral galaxy that had stretched out before them suddenly slowly split asunder, the stars flaring up like candles in the wind and it seemed to be caught in some horrific whirlpool as stars, worlds, the entire galaxy itself swirled violently and vanished in an explosion of light and matter that streamed around them like a storm.

The space was now completely empty. Kirk looked upwards and saw the vast expanse of galaxies. Just as he always imagined, clusters of them swirling together in a universal dance of order and life. Except great swirling darkness was creeping across the bright expanse.

“Those are dead galaxies.” Kirk breathed.

“The universe is slowly being ripped asunder.” Q answered coolly.

Kirk looked at him in confusion and his fists clenched at his sides.

“Did you cause this?” he asked bluntly.

Q shook his head.

“I could give you an answer, but you won’t like it.”

“Don’t play games with me Trelayne. I spanked you once I’ll do it again.”

Q smirked.

“You are incorrigible, Captain. You’re nothing like Picard. He was my favorite, but you were always different, you were my first and like all great romances, we always remember our first.” Q suddenly appeared in a southern belle’s dress and clasped her hands together to his chest and blinked at him.

“Stop it! The universe is dying and I want to know who did it.”

Q sighed and crossed his arms as he switched into Kirk’s yellow shirt and black pants.

“You did.” Q replied.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:09pm
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Posts: 20907
Chapter 15: Perchance to Dream

“There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. You do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover you power. Join me and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.”

“I’ll never join you!” He retorted angrily.

Nemesis heard the sharp wind. It was all he could hear for a moment as he hung off the utility station at the end of the catwalk. The pain flared in his right arm. He could not feel his hand.

His hand was gone.

“Obi Wan never told you what happened to your father.” The dark cold voice boomed over the howling wind that whipped around him like a living thing.

“He told me enough.” He spat as he swung over to the far end of the utility vane. He was balanced precariously with one hand. His right arm was stuffed under his left armpit, desperately calling upon his wizened master’s training to make the pain fade away. But training sessions were one thing. Fighting the pain of rigorous training and torn muscles and ligaments were one thing. His hand had been severed from his arm. The pain was almost maddening.

He looked up at the fearsome apparition. The dark cloaked, armored giant stood at the end of the catwalk, cape flapping behind him. He remembered all he had been told. This thing had turned on his own, had slaughtered the noble Jedi knights, betrayed his father and helped give rise to the Empire that now squeezed freedom from the galaxy.

“He told me enough, he told me you killed him!” He retorted sharply, smiling triumphantly at the Sith Lord.

There was a brief pause. He wondered for a moment if Vader could feel the hate he felt for him. He had slain the only real hero he had in his life – his father.

“No. I am your father.”

There was disbelief. Utter disbelief as his world tumbled around him.

“No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!” He screamed as he ignored the sudden stab of acceptance. He had relied on these feelings to destroy a death star, guide him to Dagobah, reveal the truth about the force, but now these same feelings were telling him that this awful revelation was true.

“How did my father die?” He asked the wise old wizard. The old man looked uncomfortable for a moment and he immediately knew that the truth was not going to be good.

“A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil helped hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father.”

He stared at the old man, feeling a prick of anger welling within him. His father had been slain in cold blood.

His father had taken his hand and stood before him as the greatest villain in Galactic history.

“Search your feelings, you know it to be true.”

A flash of something else.

Betrayal.

Obi Wan. Yoda. They all wanted him to train and fight. To kill the dark lord of the Sith and his emperor. To kill his father. They spent their entire lives dedicating him to slaying his own father.

They never told him. They wanted him to hate and murder his own father and they never trusted him enough to tell him the truth. He was nothing more than an instrument, a tool. They did not tell him what the price would be.

Anger, lament, disbelief and shame tore through him like his father’s crimson lightsaber.

“No!!!!” he screamed, resting his head against the utility vane. He wanted to run far away. He wanted to run all the way to Tatooine and forget himself in the great wastes. He wanted to disappear forever and forget the force had ever come into his life. His entire life had been spent looking for someone like his father, his last few years had been spent training to be like his father. Now he realized that he had been duped…like his father.

“Luke. You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is
your destiny. Join me, and we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
Come with me. It's the only way.”

Vader held out his hand and Luke looked at him for a long moment. There was so much going on beneath that mask. He could feel the yearning in the dark lord’s mind. There was no hidden agenda. There was no hate, no trap.

He had told him the truth. He had opened himself to his son and in the end, he had not lied.

Nemesis looked down briefly at the yawning abyss below. He turned back to his father, holding out his hand. Nemesis could not fully grasp the depths of his despair. He had been used from that first day. They had always known the truth.

“Father, Powerful Jedi was he, powerful Jedi.”

Nemesis felt the cold grip of fear as well in his belly. The only other option was oblivion. To throw himself to the void to protect those that had betrayed him, used him.

He reluctantly held out his own hand and the cold glove wrapped around his hand, gingerly, almost tenderly and upon contact he knew the entire truth.

“You are my father.” he whispered as Vader pulled him back onto the gantry. Vader’s mechanical breathing seemed to slow as he looked down at the wounded young Jedi.

“Yes, Luke. I have been looking for you for a long time. Now, let us undo what damage the liars have done, let us rebuild that which was lost. Come, my son.” Vader wrapped one arm around the weak Nemesis and his black cape draped over him like the night and there was only the soothing darkness and the slow burning anger of betrayal.

His dreams always ended here.

They did not end. He suddenly seemed to trip and he steadied himself on a rotten tree limb. He froze.

“No.” he whispered.

A long figure stood leaning against a great twisted tree that rose up into the misty bog around them. The sound of life was almost deafening as birds flapped overhead and various animals called into the darkness around them. Splashes were everywhere as all manner of beasts moved through the murky waters around them.

He slowly walked up to the figure, dressed in the traditional brown robes of the Jedi knights, hood dropped down over his bowed head, hands clasped in a meditative pose.

“Ben?” He asked cautiously, ignoring the stirring in his heart. He missed the old Jedi. The soft smile, the stoic nobility. His lies.

The figure raised his head suddenly as Nemesis slowly reached to touch his hood. Nemesis snapped his hand back and stood in amore defensive pose. His right hand immediately searched for his lightsaber.

“Who are you?” he hissed.

The figure smiled at him, it was not the kindly smile of Ben Kenobi but a more sarcastic grin. He was not Ben Kenobi.

“You can call me Qui Gon, but my friends call me Q.” the stranger responded.

“I’ve never heard of a Qui Gon and I certainly never heard of anyone named Q.”

“Really Luke, this whole dark cloak and angry demeanor is not you. What happened to the wide eyed farm boy we all knew and loved.” Suddenly Q disappeared in a flash and instead of Jedi robes, he wore a white tunic and pants, exactly like the ones he had worn on that fateful day when the droids came into his life.

“My name is Darth Nemesis.” he replied coldly and activated his lightsaber with a snap hiss.

“Darth, schmarth, you have so much potential and you waste it in this tantrum.”

“What are you?”

“I am a messenger, a figment of your imagination, an echo from your conscience.”

“You are an alien presence in my mind.” Nemesis interjected coldly. “Why bring me here? Did you think to unbalance me?”

Q smiled.

“I didn’t bring you here, you brought us here. This is your mind after all, not mine.”

“This place is the source of my strength. It is where I had the last vestiges of my innocence stripped from me by a lying ancient Jedi master whose sole goal was to forge a weapon against my own blood.”

“You really believe that?” Q asked wanly.

“Get out of my mind.” Nemesis hissed and took a step forward.

“Remember your failure at the cave.” an old voice drifted over the din of wild life and rotting vegetation.

Nemesis whirled around and his eyes narrowed as he tried to spy the unseen speaker.

“I came with a simple message. Something for you to dwell on.”

“Enough! Say your peace and leave my mind. You and yours shall pay for this affront to a Sith Lord.”

“Luke, is that what you wanted in your heart. The Jedi code spoke to you like an old comforting lover. The Dark side, it snaps to your whim but it has teeth, does it not? How long before your soul is corrupted beyond repair. How long before you can no longer walk on the path of light?” Q asked seriously, his clothing changed to a brown tunic and pants. The clothes he wore at Bespin.

Nemesis was about to snarl a reply when he heard that same voice again.

“Once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny. Beware the Dark side, eager to join you in a fight. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

“How am I know the good side from the bad I asked you!” he roared into the misty shadows. Q seemed to fade slightly.

“You lied you ancient bastard! You lied to me!”

“She is here.” Q whispered in his ear. Nemesis froze. Q was standing right by his side, head cocked in close to Nemesis’ ear. “Can you feel her? She has come for you.”

“No.” he whispered.

“Yes. In the end the Dark side can only have one master and it will demand blood for its power. Blood of the most beloved.”

“She wouldn’t.”

“She loves you idiot. She believes that you will turn.”

“I will not. I am my own man.”

“Are you?” Q asked pointedly. Nemesis whirled but Q was no longer at his side. He was at the far end of the clearing standing on a moss covered rock.

“Are you indeed?” Q asked through a breath mask. The slow rhythmic breathing seemed to banish all other sounds in the swamp. Nemesis stared at the apparition.

“I won’t turn!”

“Always with you what cannot be done.”

“I am strong, I am powerful, the truth has made me rise above petty Jedi tricks and nonsense. I am one with the Dark side.”

“That is why you fail.”

The lights around them dimmed and all he heard was the breathing then there was nothing but silence.

Nemesis shot bolt upright in his meditation chamber, sweat beaded on his brow and slowly dripped down his chest. He controlled his rapid breathing and quickly calmed himself before he realized with slow horror that he was using an old method Yoda had taught him. He was clearing his mind, putting himself at ease.

He quickly shoved those thoughts away and embraced his rage like a cloak. he rose from the chamber and strode over to a comboard. He flicked it on and waited. Within seconds, Mara’s face hovered into view. She looked as if she had just been awakened, hair in disarray, but her eyes were still sharp, and beautiful.

“What is our progress into Federation space?”

“Admiral Kittaine has reported that we engaged and destroyed the Federation Seventh fleet, 220 starships, no losses to our own forces, but we lost nearly 3 wings of warbirds.”

“I do not want to dally any longer. I want them to know we are coming but I want to be in Earth orbit as soon as possible. I feel a disturbance in the force and I need to crush this Federation before I turn my attention to this new threat.”

“Understood my lord.” She bowed her head and paused as she examined him closely.

“Are you well, My Lord?” she asked cautiously.

He stared at her for a moment. She was so beautiful, dangerous.

“Mara, Are you free for dinner tonight?”

Mara blinked.

“My lord?”

“I thought the question was rather clear.” he answered with a soft smile.

“Of course, my lord.” She answered hesitantly

“Excellent, bring all your tactical reports with you, we’ll make this a working dinner.”

“Yes my lord.” She replied, even more confused but hiding it well. Nemesis looked into her eyes for one more second then flicked off the com. He sighed softly and walked back to his workout chamber. He had anger that needed to be released.






“Stand By.”

“All engines preparing for emergency stop.” Janeway replied.

“All hands, brace for impact.” Archer announced then held on to his command chair’s armrests.

“Transwarp conduit collapsing in five..four..three.two..one.” Seven reported loudly over the various alarms and warning lights flashing throughout the bridge. On the view screen ahead a single Borg cube suddenly vanished as it dropped out of transwarp. The Defiant, pulled along by the intense subspace current followed the cube out of the transwarp conduit and flipped into real space.

“All power to engines, bring us to a full stop!” Archer ordered.

The Defiant shuddered violently as its warp engines tried to compensate for the suddenly shift in position and trajectory. The small starship tumbled end over end madly for a moment before the engines finally stopped the wild spiral.

“We have come to a complete stop.” His helmsman announced.

“Activate the cloak now.” Archer snapped.

“Cloak active and functioning within parameters.” Seven reported.

“Captain?” Archer turned in his command chair to face Janeway.

“I’m relying solely on passive sensors right now, but without a doubt we are in a vital Borg cluster. I’m picking up thousands of cubes. Power readings are off the scale.”

“On screen.”

The screen flickered and soon Archer was faced with a sea of Borg cubes. Thousands of them floating serenely among the stars. Beyond the massive waves of Borg cubes was a world. The planet was covered in the fine green metallic mesh that seemed to cover all Borg cubes. Strange emerald lights flashed in strange synchronized patterns. Enormous metallic spires stretched up into the void above the planet. Each of the spires sprouted a dozen smaller tributaries as they rose up into the stars. Each tributary intersected with another, forming what resembled giant intricate metal spider web that encircled the world. Within each strand power coursed along conduits and large factories constructed all manner of equipment. The top most strands were obviously the shipyards. Borg cubes and spheres were emerging from the web structures at an astonishing rate.

A single moon was frozen in place above the planet, two of the longest spires punched right into the moon’s surface and a lattice work of metal work and conduits spread all over the moon’s surface and huge crystalline blocks were sunk into the surface at regular intervals.

The crystalline blocks were blinking or flashing furiously. Some seemed to contain storms, roiling clouds of various colors swirled within, sometimes punctuated by a flash of electricity or light. The crystalline blocks were all linked by thick conduits that flashed at odd intervals and all met at the moon’s southern pole. At the southern pole a tall spindly spire dropped down into the void, directly above a transwarp hub. The spindly tower flashed in a steady monotonous beat.

“Is that?”

“Unimatrix 001.” Seven replied coolly as she regarded the Borg home world with a strange mix of interest and apprehension.

“I’ve heard so many things, but this is beyond imagination.” Janeway breathed.

“The great crystal banks are the Borgs’ central processors, they make up the main core of the central consciousness and transmit on hyperlink frequencies to the rest of the Collective. There are many more below on the home world, sunk deep into the crust. There is more computing power in one of those crystal hubs than in all of the alpha quadrant combined.” Seven stated with a touch of pride.

“Any idea if they’ve picked us up?” Archer asked cautiously as he eyed the enormous fleet around him. Looming over the planet, right above the northern pole was a strategic cube.

“None, yet.”

“It is highly doubtful that they have not detected our presence, more likely we are not seen as a threat.”

“Considering that their great fleet just had their asses handed to them by that strange enemy force, I would say that the Federation has fallen considerably low on their list of threats and priorities.” Archer mused.

“Let’s not get too cocky captain. We are in a place that no Federation starship has ever dared tread. I think whatever we do, we should do with extreme caution. We are woefully overmatched.” Janeway cautioned.

Archer nodded and stroked his chin.

“Seven, what are the chances of an away team getting on Unimatrix 001 and not being instantly assimilated?” Archer asked.

“Captain.” Janeway cautioned.

“Unknown. There is no record of any species ever setting foot on Unimatrix 001. We would be the first.”

“Seven, don’t you encourage him. Captain. That is a VERY bad idea.”

“What do you suggest? We simply pull out and hope that the Borg don’t assimilate us on the way home. We are thousands of light years from anywhere resembling home. We are in a position no Federation crew has ever been in before. Imagine the wealth of knowledge we could find down there.”

“Imagine the horrors when you, the away team and this ship are assimilated for daring to set foot on their home world.”

“Unless I’m mistaken, they will react as they always react when a small team beams on board their ships, they will do nothing unless we become a threat, and I fully intend not to become a threat. Sometimes we have to take risks, captain.” Archer urged.

“Don’t talk to me about risks and being far from home, I have more than enough experience in those matters, captain.” She replied frostily.

Archer and Janeway stared at each other for a long quite moment.

“Perhaps it would be best for us to do so for another reason.” Seven interjected quietly. Both captains turned and faced her with stony faces.

“The Borg data systems are all linked to the Unimatrix, there is nothing that happens to even a single Borg drone that is not instantly relayed to the Unimatrix. Perhaps we can discover more about this new alien force with a quick download. Just two or three people beam down to a location I can determine is relatively unimportant so as not to arouse Borg suspicion and I will attempt the quick download.”

Janeway frowned slightly but Archer nodded.

“You know she’s right captain. Our standing orders were to penetrate Borg space and discover what has them so frazzled. It could be a preemptive measure. Imagine what would happen if that battle fleet we just saw tear through the Borg decided to set their sight s on the Federation? We need as much knowledge as we can get.” Archer stated firmly.

Janeway looked between both Seven and Archer and shook her head slowly.

“I can’t agree wholeheartedly with this idea, but I don’t see another alternative other than running and gaining nothing from this.”

“You can stay onboard captain and Seven, myself and a security officer will beam down and secure the data.”

“You know, I should be the one going down there, this is your ship after all and I’m just visiting.” Janeway noted wanly.

“Captain, I would consider it a personal favor if you let me go on this one.” Archer whispered to Janeway and looked up at her expectantly.

“Let’s get this over with before I change my mind.” She muttered angrily.

Archer smiled.

Seven could not help but glance back at the Unimatrix with an odd sense of anticipation and fear.





“Me?” Kirk replied flabbergasted.

“Yes, you. Did you think that all those trips through time were free of charge? Did you think you could toy with the very fabric of space time at a whim and not have repercussions?” Q asked indignantly. It was distracting to Kirk that Q was wearing Kirk’s exact uniform.

“What are you talking about? It’s not like I’ve made it some kind of habit.”

“There was one moment where you shone as a species, back in your depression era United states.”

Kirk’s face immediately darkened.

“That’s enough, Trelayne. I won’t listen to you anymore and if you mention her I swear I’ll-“

Q held up a hand.

“I will say no more. But there was one instance where you saved a timeline compared to all the others where you fumbled about like blind men in a darkened room, not having a care in the world to what you were doing.” Q held up a hand and there was a small flash of light.

A galaxy floated in the palm of his hand, an elliptical one, dense with stars and dust.

“For every paradox you create in your travels, the universe tries to correct itself. Some corrections are slight and barely perceptible.” There was a brief flash within the galaxy, a star had flashed out into what was obviously supposed to represent a super nova of some kind. “Others are more elaborate.” The galaxy exploded into a field of stellar dust and debris.

Q lowered his hand.

“I tried to teach Picard this not very long ago, but as usual, as soon as the crisis was diverted, there was no more memory or thought put to the gentle lessons of Q.”

Kirk stared at him for a while, puzzled by Trelayne’s words. Was it possible, could the paradoxes they had created in some of their travels have caused this cataclysm?

“Kirk, it’s not just you, however. You are the starting point, the origin of the crisis that grips our reality. But others have built upon it. And there is one who has put the final push on our slide to oblivion.”

Q flashed and appeared right next to Kirk, he rested a hand on Kirk’s shoulder.

“The universe is loaded down with the weight of your paradoxes, each one like a millstone around the neck of poor reality, the rules it lives by cannot accept paradoxes, but the universe is an incredibly malleable and resilient thing. It can bend its own laws in order to maintain existence. But there is only so much it can take before.” Q pointed above to the growing patches of darkness spreading across the ocean of galaxies. “Phfft!”

“Captain Katherine Janeway is the final nail in the coffin. Bringing with her technology centuries ahead of anything in the present, she has, in the quaint phraseology of your people, polluted the time line. Every time someone uses the technology, even looks at it, another paradox is created. Her actions alone have created thousands of tiny paradoxes that have brought reality to its knees like a swarm of bees. They have stung it over and over and now, reality, in a desperate attempt to rectify the situation has lashed out and tried to settle the issue.”

Q leaned in closer, his voice a whisper.

“Unfortunately there is only one solution when faced with a million impossibilities. It all must come to an end.”

“How will it end?” Kirk asked darkly.

Q stared at him for a long moment, the impish smile gone, the twinkle in his eye replaced by a dark foreboding.

“We don’t know.”

Kirk looked shocked.

“It’s a sad fact but how the universe will end, whether in a whimper or in bang is unknown to us. There are some in the continuum that believe that the universe will simply wind down like some old toy and just fade away into oblivion. There are some that believe that the universe will not allow itself to simply fade away and this universal cataclysm is actually the universe hitting reset and starting the whole process over again, perhaps hoping that it will not create beings who are arrogant enough to toy with the very fabric of space time.” Q answered.

“How do I stop it?” Kirk pressed.

Q flashed him a mysterious smile.

“Who said you could?”

“I refuse to accept that the universe will end and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it!” Kirk protested.

“Just because you hate to lose doesn’t mean that losing is not an option. We all lose Kirk, and there are such things as no win scenarios.”

“I don’t believe that you would bring me here, show me this, admit your own ignorance just to spite me. There is a reason why I am here and if I’m the cause then I want to be the cure. Let me end this, just tell me what I have to do.”

“I gave you the answer. There is nothing to be done. Do you honestly think that the Q want to end? If the continuum cannot halt the erosion of the universe then what makes you think that you glorified monkeys can do it?” Q replied haughtily.

Kirk frowned and took a step forward.

“You need me to stop this. I think I know enough about you Reliance to know that you would not taunt me with this if there was not a solution. You played a game with me once, and I beat you. Let this be another game then, you set the rules and I’ll play along but let me save reality, let me set things right.” Kirk demanded.

Q watched him with hooded eyes.

There was a deafening silence on the asteroid where they floated.

“A game? How ironic. You already are part of a game. But I digress. I will tell you this much and we will see how well you do Captain. The continuum has given up on humanity, you caused this mess after all. But I have a spark of hope. Let’s see if I’m as big a fool as some would make me out to be, hmmm?”

Kirk waited, staring at this child god. Not so much the child anymore. There was a definite wisdom to Trelayne that had not been there before.

“This is a temporal problem, it needs a temporal solution. The answer is in your past, in your adventures, the others have forgotten much but you are a wealth of information. Defeat the empire, and you may defeat this problem, but you will not be able to win this game if you cannot defeat them.”

“Defeat the empire? That’s hardly fair, we are overmatched.”

“Since when has that stopped you before?” Q shot back.

Kirk scowled then sighed heavily.

“Think of it as your no win situation. It is a test of character Kirk, the question is, do you have what it takes to save reality?” Q asked darkly.

Kirk began to reply when the void and asteroid began to quickly fade. Q looked a little annoyed as he faded as well.

“This is why I hate talking to you creatures in your dreams, one never knows when you’re going to wake up.”

“Trelayne, wait, I need more-“

“Your past will save us all Kirk, but so could it doom us all as well. He is playing against you.”

“Who is playing against me?! Trelayne!”

Kirk awoke with a start and quickly scanned his quarters. Nothing. he was alone in his room, the blanket was crumpled up and thrown to one corner of his bed and sweat cooled on his bare chest.

“Bridge to Captain.”

Kirk hesitantly reached over and switched on the com.

“Kirk here.”

“Captain, we’ve dropped out of hyperspace and we are in Earth orbit. You should come to the bridge. There are some questions that Starfleet needs answered immediately.” Spock reported.

“I’m on my way.” Kirk replied and switched off the com. He started getting dressed. As he slipped on his uniform shirt he stopped to see the three dimensional chess board. The pieces had been moved. Someone had started a game. The opening move was very familiar. Disturbingly so.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:10pm
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Chapter 16: The Calm Before the Storm


Captain Ochoa sighed softly as he tipped his king. Another gambit had failed.

“You’re a fast learner.”

“It’s essentially a game of strategy, we soldiers have to live and breath this stuff.” Han replied.

“You know, I’ve only known you for a week now, but I can tell when something is bothering you. Want to talk about it before I whoop your ass in the next round?” Ochoa asked with a smile. He deftly began reorganizing the pieces as he spoke. Despite being blind, he knew his way around his own 3-D chess board. He had asked Han if he could recover it from the Thunderchild in exchange for eating again. Han agreed only if Ochoa taught him how to play.

Han had become a 3-D chess junkie and Ochoa enjoyed it. Han had a sharp mind and was a quick learner. There were many enjoyable hours spent over the board these last few days, punctuated by some battle alerts.

“If I were a betting man, I would say that your worry has to do with those battle alerts which have grown more constant in the last day or so.” Ochoa continued nonchalantly as he laid out the last few pieces.

Han was silent for a moment.

“How would you feel if I told you that we are going to invade Earth in the next hour?”

Ochoa froze.

“What?” he asked softly.

“My unit has been called up to serve, I serve in a front line planetary assault division which tells me that we are actually going to land troops on Earth.”

“We’re attacking earth and you never told me?” Ochoa demanded angrily.

“Ochoa, please, this reaction is precisely why I haven’t old you. Have you been listening at all to me these last few days? The Empire is here to bring order to this galaxy, how do you think we do that? We impose order where it must be imposed.”

“You conquer innocent worlds that want nothing to do with your empire. The last time I checked, earth was the heart of the Federation, a legitimate government that imposes its own order and its population, we certainly don’t need any of your help to do that.” Ochoa spat.

“Are we going to get into this again?” Han sighed.

“You’re invading my homeworld, Han. What in the hell did you expect my reaction would be?” Ochoa exclaimed.

“Alright, its obvious that I made a mistake telling you. I have to go.”

He could hear Han get up from the floor opposite him and gather his things.

“Aren’t you going to wish me ill? Maybe hope that one of your people gets a shot off at me?” Han asked, almost sounding as if he hoped Ochoa would say so.

Ochoa stared into the darkness, in the general vicinity where he thought Han was standing.

“No. I don’t wish you any ill. You have been nothing but kind to me.”

“I wouldn’t blame you. We can be quite…harsh during a landing. It will not be pretty for your world.”

“Why are you baiting me? Is there something bothering YOU? You sound as if you NEED me to hate you, to wish you ill.”

“Don’t be foolish.” Han replied in a snort. He did not sound convincing to Ochoa.

“I do not wish you ill at all. I want you to come back in one piece. But maybe you can do something for me.”

Han remained silent.

“If you can, can you get a message to my wife?”

“Ochoa, I’m a soldier of the empire, not your personal messenger. If I were you, I’d hope that my wife is no where near the drop zones.”

Ochoa frowned.

“I’m just asking you to let her know I’m OK. Even if you just post it at a message center, she can receive it. I can give you my personal code. If you can just let her know that and that I love my daughter very much.”

Han shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

“I’ll do what I can.”

“Han, sometimes I think that no one cares anymore. That the universe died around me and I sit in this darkness without solace, wondering if I’m already dead and this is it. I just want to let the universe know that I still care, that I love my wife, my daughter and that I care. Sometimes I think the universe forgets that.” he said suddenly in a burst of emotion and sat back, head down into his chest, ashamed for having spoken so before an enemy soldier.

There was silence and darkness.

“Ochoa, I care.” Han replied and started to step out of the cell.

“Han!” He could hear Han standing in the doorway. “Keep your head down. I haven’t had a good 3D chess partner in a long time. Come back in one peace, compadre.”

“Do you want to know something, Ochoa? You sit there, in the darkness and you still believe. I don’t know if I have that kind of strength. I don’t know if I have that kind of faith. I have had many lies in my life, so you’ll forgive me if I’m a little callous.”

“No need to forgive, Han. You are who you are. Sometimes, you have to believe even in the darkest hole in the world. Once you stop believing, you’re no longer a human being, you’re something a lot darker.”

“More machine than man?” Han asked curiously and left.

What did that mean?

He remained seated for a long time in the cool darkness. Then he heard a soft rustle of satin on grass. He turned and smiled into the warm sunlight on his face. his daughter skipped up to him and landed in his lap. He groaned at her weight and laughed as she curled her little stubby fat fingers under his arms to tickle him.

“You be careful honey.” he whispered to her and held her close, smelling her hair, like summer grass in the rain. “I love you.” he whispered and the sun was gone and his child’s weight lifted and he found himself in the darkness again. The first patters of wetness on his lap were the only sign that he had begun to sob.








“I honestly don’t know how you do it, Mr. President. Your Federation seems to enjoy becoming the prime targets of the most powerful foes in this galaxy, us, the Borg now this Galactic Empire. We happen to know that they conquered the Romulan empire in a matter of hours. It will be a difficult but glorious battle!” Chancellor Martok growled, his image hovered in a hologram over the Federation Council’s Main audience chamber. The president nodded to the image of Martok.

“Then I take it the Klingon Empire will be lending their support to our war effort against the Galactic Empire?” The president asked.

“You assume correctly, however, our fleet is not as large as it once was, we will not be able to devote the numbers that we did against the Dominion. We will need to keep the heart of our fleet close to home, to counteract the Empire’s obvious FTL advantage. Our strategists believe that they can deploy ships anywhere within the Alpha Quadrant in a matter of hours.” Martok replied sourly.

“Our experience is that the Imperial forces are limited in the speed of their advance by the Romulan ships in their fleets. They can only move as fast as the slowest Warbird which gives us a slight advantage. Currently our fleets are trying to slow the Imperial advance by focusing our attacks on the Romulan contingents. This forces the Imperial warships to stay behind and protect their picket ships.”

“A wise strategy but one that will not last long, I fear. Once the Empire sets its sights on a target very little will slow them down.”

“I need to know, Chancellor, how many Klingon ships can we expect in our defense of Earth? Starfleet has managed to deploy three fleets with elements of two more fleets arriving within twelve hours. We hope to have close to a thousand ships ready to make a stand here.”

Martok frowned and rubbed his chin.

“I cannot deploy more than a single Klingon fleet at this time. We will have 300 Klingon warships at Earth in 48 hours.”

“48 Hours is cutting it very close, our worst case estimates put the Empire in the Sol system in under 52 hours.” Admiral Ross interjected.

“Ah, Admiral Ross, good to see you again, however, I cannot promise you anything else. It takes time to warp to Earth and we have to secure our own flanks now that the Romulans have taken to joining with this enemy. I am not at Quo'nos right now, my flagship is currently touring the outer empire, this does not help the situation as it will take time to relay the proper orders.”

Ross nodded reluctantly. Martok was right. The Empire was simply moving too fast to erect a viable defense.

“On behalf of the Federation I would like to thank you for your help, Chancellor.” The president stated.

Martok was about to respond when an aide stepped into view and started whispering fervently into his ear. Martok’s face betrayed anger and surprise. He nodded to his aid, shouted something in Klingon and turned back to the Federation president and council.

“The Empire and Romulan forces have started an offensive into Klingon space. The Empire is making it very clear that they are heading straight for Quo’nos. I can no longer promise those ships, Mr. president. It seems we face the same danger and the Klingon fleet will need every ship it has to protect the homeworld. If we survive the battle, we promise to join the Federation in defeating this Empire and sending them back to wherever it is they came from. Until then Mr. President, we will meet at the other side of battle, Kaplah!” he saluted and the hologram winked out.

Murmurs swiftly flashed through the assembled audience.

“It seems that the Empire has been one step ahead of us. They deprived us of valuable support for the defense effort.” Ross whispered to the president.

The president nodded slowly.

“Bring the others forward. Let us hope they have some good news for us.”

Ross nodded and motioned to several people standing out of view.

Princess Leia, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock all stepped into view of the assembled Council and the President. Leia noted the stares. Ever since they had arrived on Earth and Kirk had been receiving the queerest stares and double takes. Many were outright awe and worship, some were shock and disbelief. She was not quite sure why it was but she assumed he was a very important man in their command structure.

So far, things did not look good for this federation. Their weapons and defensive systems were simply not up to the challenge of Imperial technology. Their weapons were primitive and low yield. Their defensive shields were nearly as useless. She had seen civilian craft with better shielding than their top of the line warships. Their warp drive was incredibly slow, obviously keeping them from expanding much further out than a quadrant of their galaxy. She had not seen much in their favor against a well organized Imperial strike force, the size of a standard sector fleet.

They were simply outmatched.

But then again, wasn’t that the Rebel Alliance’s current situation. With only a handful of true capital ships and some daring starfighter pilots they had fought the Empire and were still alive. How could she denigrate their chances?

There was one obvious advantage. Their leadership. So far, if James Kirk was the standard Federation officer, the Federation stood a chance. Perhaps they could pull this through sheer hope, determination and courage.

Her thoughts briefly flashed to Luke and his twisted new found path. Vader must have torn his mind apart. She understood, out of all the Alliance top officials, only she had been in the hands of the empire and had experienced first hand the horrors they could visit on another human being. She had felt the pain of the probes, the mind altering fog of the drugs, the hot cut of vibro blades on flesh. She had very nearly broken under Vader’s torture. He did not know how close he had come to making her tell him everything.

But then he came. Young, dashing, slightly confused. He had rescued her, along with Han. She stopped and bit her lip, fighting the tears that threatened to well up in her eyes. She would not think of him.

“I love you.”

“I know.”

She would NOT think of him.

“Gentlebeings of the Federation, I am Captain James Tiberius Kirk, I have come here with a representative of the Rebel Alliance of the home galaxy that our new found enemy the Galactic Empire originates from.”

“We are well aware of who you are captain. With all due respect, do you realize that your very presence here is polluting the timeline?” Admiral Ross asked.

“Yes sir, I am well aware that I do not belong here, but as of now, I am the only Federation starship captain, save for captain Entebbe of the Sagan who has survived a direct encounter with the Empire.”

“Actually, if I may, we survived two direct encounters with the Empire.” Spock added.

“Be that as it may, Captain, I realize that now is not the time to worry about timelines and other esoteric concerns. Right now a massive enemy armada is less than three days from Earth and they wield a firepower greater than a thousand Borg cubes. Considering the stress a single cube’s incursion causes on our defenses you can imagine that we are on the verge of panic in may quarters. Is there anything you can add to these proceedings that will help shed light on our options?” The president asked sternly.

“I believe that Princess Leia is far better qualified than I am to answer that question.” Kirk responded and motioned to Leia. She cleared her throat and looked up at the assembled Federation officials. In many ways they reminded her of the Alliance government in exile. A variety of aliens and humans that spanned a hundred star systems all working together towards a greater good.

“Gentlebeings, my name is Princess Leia Organa. I am a representative of the Rebel Alliance. We have been struggling against the Empire for over a decade and we are intimately familiar with their strategies, tactics, weapons, everything that you will need to know to prosecute a war with them.”

“Let me help the princess with a quick rundown of our current deployment.” Ross interjected and rose pointing to a screen behind them. It winkled on and there was a representation of the Sol system and several surrounding star systems. Several fleets were deployed within the Sol system, elements were inbound from all corners of the screen. At the extreme left corner of the screen was a massive red threat symbol. The symbol for the Seventh Fleet was crossed out beneath the threat display.

“The Seventh fleet engaged the Imperial fleet five hours ago. The fleet was ordered to draw as many Imperial fleet elements into the fight as possible, their main priority was to slow the advance.”

“They used the Seventh fleet as a delaying force, an entire Federation fleet to just slow them down, unheard of.” Kirk whispered to Spock.

“Using their warp drives they managed to survive the initial engagements and draw the battle out. Despite the Empire’s overwhelming firepower and FTL advantage they are still inexperienced with fighting warp driven craft. They are still uncertain as to the full capabilities of our warp drives, added to that the seventh fleet had recently been upgraded with some of the transwarp technology that Captain Katherine Janeway brought back with her.”

Kirk’s ears perked up at this. “Spock remind me to get some information on this Captain Janeway as soon as we get out of here.” Kirk whispered.

“Thus even the Romulans were in the dark as to the full capabilities of these drives. The ships were able to warp in and out of the field of engagement at will. By doing this we were able to drag the entire Imperial fleet into battle, inflict heavy casualties against the Romulan elements of the fleet. Only now has the fleet gotten underway again to earth.”

Ross pointed up at the Alpha Centauri system.

“The 12th and 3rd fleets are contributing to the defense of Proxima Centauri. We believe that the Empire will engage the fleets at Proxima Centauri giving us some more time to shore up our defenses here on Earth.”

“In other words those two fleets are supposed to be a trip wire force to slow the enemy down and let us know that they’re coming.” Kirk replied sharply, aghast at the use of Federation ships and crew as simple delaying devices.”

“We have no choice captain. Command needs time to get our defenses in order and time is one thing the Empire is not giving us.” Ross replied darkly.

“Sir, if I may, I have looked at your deployments and examined the schematics that Captain Kirk and Captain Entebbe have provided me in terms of fire power and defensive technology and I can only recommend one course of action.”

The council and President all leaned forward with anticipation.

“You need to evacuate the leadership from this planet and quickly displace into deep space, away from Imperial scanners and redeploy in secret locations.” She stated evenly.

There was stunned silence in the chamber.

“Are you seriously suggesting we abandon the seat of the Federation government?” The president asked in shock.

“I am sorry, but quite frankly there is no way that your Starfleet as it is currently deployed is going to be able to stop the Imperial advance. There are over a dozen Imperator class stardestroyers in bound, with a Executor class command ship that happens to be deploying a superlaser that can shatter continents in a single shot. They will be merciless in the attack, they will not stop until they have victory and they have leading them a Sith Lord.”

“A Sith what?” One of the council members asked annoyed. He looked to Leia like a great big pig, with snout and all staring down at her with beady little eyes.

“A Sith Lord. They are beings that can manipulate the Force.”

“What kind of force, electromagnetic? Antimatter?” Another counsel member asked.

Leia realized that they did not have the time to completely fill in these people on the facts of Imperial power. She had to convince them to do precisely what they did not want to do. Run.

“Think of it as an extrasensory ability. A Sith lord can predict an enemy’s actions and inspire his troops with terror, he is after all the direct representative of the Emperor himself.”

“Extrasensory? You’re telling us they have some form of spiritual power?” another representative asked slightly annoyed as well.

“More superstitious nonsense.” The pig like alien spat.

“I would remind the council that Vulcan religious beliefs have been denigrated as such before. We take offense to hasty generalizations.” The Vulcan council member interjected coolly.

“Isn’t taking offense, emotional?” the pig like alien replied glibly.

Leia noted Kirk roll his eyes and shake his head.

Obviously this Federation’s government shared more with the Alliance than she had first guessed.

“Please, if we can get back to the point, Princess, we have been in existence for centuries, we are not about to run and hide. We are going to make a stand here.”

“That is precisely what the Empire wants, Mr. President. They want you to make a stand so that they can deal with you in one battle instead of a thousand smaller battles.”

“What you are describing is a guerilla action. We have been a proud Federation of star systems for centuries. We have been a legitimate government with a Starfleet for defense. We are not guerillas skulking about afraid to make a stand against a greater foe.”

Leia smiled softly.

“The Rebel Alliance has survived against the Empire, precisely because we do skulk about. We are facing a foe that has usurped the legitimate government of a body that spans an entire galaxy and has stood for many millennia, so you can see why I don’t see why you are so averse to accepting reality. My plan assures your survival. Your government will still exist, so will your Starfleet and they are the most precious commodity you have now. Every starship that the Empire can destroy in this hopeless battle is one less starship that they will need to face in the future. You will need numbers to bring their capital ships down.”

“If we cannot defeat them here, why will we be able to defeat them later?” another counsel member pressed.

“There are certain basics you have to face. One, victory will not come in a day or even a year. You are facing a long term battle but one that you can win because the Imperial forces are far from home, cut off from supplies and every Imperial ship you destroy is one that they cannot replace. Two, you need to learn when to fight, you set the initiative, you have to make them react to you.” As Leia spoke she realized that’s he was repeating the same words that Mon Mothma shared with her when she joined the Alliance so long ago. She remembered looking up at the older senator with a mix of reverence and impatience. She was so fiery back then, she could not wait to tear the empire down with her own bare hands.

“Three, certain compromises have to be made in order to survive. Secrets must be kept, lies must be told. The Empire will have all the advantages save one, they will not know everything about you. They are like a mailed fist, they can crush any opposition but lack the finer dexterity and grace that is needed to rule. That leads to my final point. Their own weaknesses must be used against them. They are a dictatorship and as such, their subjects will be ruled by fear, you must inspire those under their rule to rise up. If you get the entire galaxy to rise up they will not be able to function. Quite simply, their first instinct is to squeeze tightly, and you must make sure that the harder they squeeze the more star systems will slip through their fingers.”

The council members exchanged troubled glances. The president stared down at her stoically. Ross looked solemn. There was one thing he could not deny. Even the most optimistic strategists in Command were extremely doubtful they could stop the Imperial attack on Earth. But Starfleet had been ordered to hold the line and Starfleet would do as it was told as it always did, without complaint and with honor.

He hoped that this young woman from another galaxy could influence these men before it was too late.

“I cannot accept that we have no hope.” The president sighed, but the slouch in his shoulders betrayed that he may have suddenly realized just how untenable their position really was.

“Mr. president, if I may, we’re not talking about defeat here. We are talking about survival. By retreating from Earth and setting up the Federation away from the Imperial reach we put ourselves in a position to strike back. From our secret bases we can build up our forces and push these dictators from another galaxy back to where they came from and show them that the Federation does not surrender. Freedom is not easily set aside and only taken with blood.” Kirk interjected. Leia watched him as he spoke and he reminded her of Garm Bel Iblis, the same defiant stance, the proud toss of the head, the cool calm but inspiring tone. He was a leader and she would need him if they were going to carry out this campaign against the Empire. This Federation would have to survive if she was going to face Luke.

“A fine speech, Kirk, but this is not your Federation. We have slowly built something grand since your time, something that spans more than three times the world and space that you knew, we cannot simply walk away.”

“I find it hard to believe that a Tellarite does not want to see the practical side of an argument. Your people have always been the level headed species of the Federation.” Kirk replied seriously.

The pig faced council member, that Leia now knew was a Tellarite seemed a little taken aback by Kirk’s words. She eyed Kirk with admiration. He was a deft manipulator, not only a captain but a diplomat. He would have gone very far in the Alliance.

“Sir, we have close to a thousand starships in orbit, defensive batteries are being deployed in orbit and fleet elements are being brought in from all corners of the Federation. We need to make a decision now.” Ross pressed.

The president nodded after a moment.

“Princess, it is your belief that our position is untenable?”

“I have it all outlined in the report Mr. Spock is handing out. I detail the estimated firepower of an Imperator Class Stardestroyer as well as upper limits on shield strength. I compare it to ship figures given to me by Captain Entebbe using the latest Starfleet database, as well as factoring in the Romulan fleet elements and it becomes painfully clear that your Starfleet simply cannot stand against the Imperial fleet. Your only and best option is to retreat and set up your government away from any known worlds in your Federation and defeat the Empire form underground. I can help you do this. The Alliance has decades of experience against the Empire and I am more than willing to help you in this struggle. Your fight becomes my fight.”

“Just out of curiosity, Princess, where is the rest of your Alliance? Your ship in orbit, though impressive is admittedly a light warship, a frigate or destroyer. If your Alliance has been so successful, I would have thought that they would have sent a greater contingent to help us.” A new council member spoke in a soft near whisper. He had a pair of antennae at the top of his head and soft powder blue skin.

“My ship is all the Alliance could spare. We are currently about to engage in a battle that has taken all our resources in the hopes of killing the Emperor and destroying a weapon of mass destruction all at the same time. It is our hope that his death will spark a power struggle within the Empire and leave it vulnerable to further attacks.”

“I see.” The council member nodded.

“Princess Leia has come has come a long way on her own to a galaxy that she does not know to help us. They could have ignored our plea for help.”

“Funny thing is Captain Kirk, I don’t recall us sending out such a plea.” Ross replied.

Kirk looked a little chagrined.

“It’s all in my report, Admiral.”

“Yes, the Prophets of Bajor and Captain Sisko, who was reported missing in action after the Dominion War both helped you set up a wormhole to Princess Leia’s galaxy.” Ross replied with a note of incredulity.

“That’s all true, gentlebeings, and if you please, now is not the time to nitpick at details that at this moment are not as important as the survival of the Federation. All of you know me, I have lived my life by a code of honor we all share. The Federation is the most important thing in my life, I would give my life for her and I certainly intend to fight for her, but if you indeed hold me to be a paragon of command as many of you seem to do, then believe me when I tell you that now is not the time to fight. This is not cowardice talking, I have never run from a fight in my life…that is a fight that I can win. This is a fight we cannot win, not now. We need to regroup and approach this enemy from a different perspective.”

“So you advocate that we run?” the Tellarite asked tersely.

“I advocate that we survive. The Federation will die this day if we stand and fight now. The ships above us will be destroyed and the leadership captured by the enemy, Starfleet command will be destroyed and then what good will that do for the rest of the Federation? If indeed this Federation has grown so much since my time, then surely we can see that one world, even if it is Earth cannot be indispensable. We will return some day and liberate her, but we accomplish absolutely nothing if we stand here and die.” Kirk replied sternly, looking into the eyes of each counsel member and the president.

“The counsel will deliberate this matter. The rest of you are dismissed.” the president announced.

Kirk nodded and strode out of the conference chamber followed closely by Leia and Spock.

“Do you think they will retreat?” Leia asked. If they did not then this entire journey was for nothing.

Kirk sighed softly as they stopped in an antechamber where other dignitaries and officers were gathering, waiting impatiently for a decision that would impact all their lives.

“I honestly don’t know. This is not my time, I don’t know any of these people and this Federation seems different somehow, bogged down by bureaucracy and the like. I just hope they make the right decision.”

“Everyone keeps talking as if you don’t belong here.” Leia asked curiously.

“I’m a man out of time. Trust me, you don’t want to know, just thinking about the paradoxes I’m creating by standing here gives me a headache.” he replied with a boyish grin. Leia could not help smiling in return.

Suddenly captain Entebbe bulled his way past a phalanx of officers and stood before Kirk.

“Captain Entebbe, I’m so sorry you weren’t part of that.” Kirk said with a smile. He genuinely liked the man, quiet but confident. Considering all that they had been through, to think the man commanded a science vessel made Kirk admire him even more. Never once had he faltered during their mission to the wormhole or during their flight from the empire.

“Never mind that Captain Kirk, I found it!”

“Excuse me?” Kirk asked a little confused by the sudden change in gears. Entebbe’s first officer appeared beside him, her cool Vulcan demeanor untouched by the excitement around them.

“That thing you were looking for.” Entebbe replied meaningfully. Kirk’s eyes widened slightly.

“Can we get it without anyone knowing?”

“That is unadvisable sir. We would be stealing Federation property.” Entebbe’s first officer interjected.

“We’re talking about the survival of the Federation.” Kirk replied.

“You know what? Why don’t you go stand over there and find out what the Vulcan mission thinks about the upcoming vote.” Entebbe ordered. She arched an eyebrow and slowly walked away.

Kirk grinned. Leia looked between both men confused and turned to Spock.

“What are they talking about?”

“I am not at liberty to say other than it is a delicate situation but one that could help us in the coming battle.” Spock replied.

“You guys are worse than Alliance intelligence.” she muttered.

“I think we can, but it will take precision planning. I’m having a mock up replicated to be exchanged at precisely the moment their field sensors realign.” Entebbe stated. Kirk nodded. He was indeed a good man.

“Captain, I have no idea what I would have done without you.” Kirk replied and clapped Entebbe on the shoulder. Entebbe smiled sardonically.

“High praise from my boyhood hero.”

“Do you mind, you’re making me feel old.” Kirk replied with a wink.

Murmurs suddenly erupted from the front of the room. Admiral Ross stepped out into the antechamber.

“Gentlebeings, the counsel has voted, due to the emergency nature of this crisis there was no time for debate but the decision is as follows.” Ross looked over at Kirk and Leia.

“Evacuation of Earth begins now, all Starfleet personnel report to your posts and as of now, 0900 hours, all ensigns and trainees of the Academy have been given field promotions and mobilized with duties to perform, mainly, we must hold the line until all command craft and key civilian personnel are evacuated. This announcement coincides with another,” Ross paused. “The Imperial forces have engaged elements of the fleets in Proxima Centauri, however, the commanders of the Proxima defensive fleet make this very clear. No Imperial warships are among the fleet elements at Proxima. This means, officers and delegates, that the main body of Imperial ships has bypassed Proxima and are heading straight for Earth.” The murmurs became shouts of alarm. “We have less than 10 hours before the Imperial fleet arrives.” Ross declared.







Acting Captain William T. Riker watched the fleet assembling around Earth, hundreds of starships were circling the planet like a string of pearls. Many more were out by Luna orbit and large tugs were pulling orbital batteries up from storage spaces on Earth into high orbit.

“Mr. Data, how long until the main line is up and running?” Riker asked as he saw a flight of Defiants deftly weave through the assembled fleets and rocket out to beyond Luna’s orbit. Within their holds, they carried the self replicating mines used at DS9 during the Dominion War. The Defiants would seed the most likely approach routes with the mines, in the hopes that they could deter aggressive action into the fleet. Riker had seen their ships in action from the transmissions during the battle of Typhon with the Seventh Fleet. He sincerely doubted that the mines would do much against those behemoths.

“Three more hours and all orbital batteries will be in place, the main mine fields will be active and Starbase 1 will have all weapons emplacements fully charged. Earth’s defensive lines will be active.” Data replied.

“I wonder if it will really be enough.” Riker murmured. He glanced over at the Deanna’s station. She was at Bet Zed on a long term assignment, helping to rebuild there after the Dominion invasion. He needed her now, someone to talk to you, to alleviate his concerns that this battle would be nothing more than a last stand.

“Computing the relative strengths of Imperial warships and are own, using the Battle of Typhon as a benchmark I would have to say that there is extremely little chance of repelling the Imperial attack.” Data replied.

Riker smirked.

“Data, has anyone ever told you that you are a wonder for morale.” Riker commented sardonically.

Data looked slightly confused.

“I was endeavoring to answer your question, sir. I did not mean to offend.”

“It’s alright Data. I guess we’re all a little on edge these days.”

The doors to the bridge hissed open and Geordie walked in. He was sporting a regen patch on his arm. It had been shattered in several locations from a fall he took in Engineering during their battle with the Romulans at the neutral zone. In fact, the Enterprise herself was a little worse for wear, burn and scorch marks were interspersed throughout the bridge, one station was being replaced, the housing destroyed by a ruptured plasma conduit.

“The majority of our battle damage in engineering has been repaired, just like I promised, our shields and weapons our back to maximum effectiveness.”

“Thanks, Geordie. Sorry about the lack of support we’ve gotten from Starfleet but we simply don’t have the men to spare to replace the ones we’ve lost. Right now every available person is being used to shore up our defenses and man ships that our being pulled out of dry-dock. They even have ensigns and trainees down on the surface digging trenches…trenches, can you believe that?” Riker replied with a sad shake of his head.

“One thing’s for sure, Captain, it’s not going to be pretty.” Geordie glanced around and took a step closer to Riker. “And I wish we had Captain Picard with us, it just doesn’t seem right what happened to him.”

Riker nodded.

“Let’s just hope that as usual, reports of his death prove to be exaggerated.”

An alarm sounded on Data’s board. HE glanced down and turned to face Riker.

“Captain, perimeter alarms at Pluto have detected subspace turbulence caused by the bow front of interdimensional eddies we have previously identified as hyperspace travel.”

“Now?! How much lead time does that give us before they arrive.”

Data did not hesitate to answer.

“One hour.”

“All hands, to battle stations.” Riker slammed his fist down on the command chair’s armrest.

“The Empire is early.”




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:10pm
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Chapter 17: Battle of Sector 001 Pt. 1


“Standby.”

“All power to the main weapons grid, all gunners standby for targets of opportunity.” Kittaine ordered.

“Standby.” Branna repeated.

The bridge was absolutely quiet, save for the quiet movement of hands on control panels. No one spoke, no one made any unnecessary movements or sounds. The cascading blue tunnel of hyperspace filled the view port. Nemesis stood at the navigation station, eyes staring straight ahead into the hyperspace tunnel. He was as rigid as a statue, hands hovering over a makeshift control panel.

It was a slave unit, the entire attack fleet’s navigational controls were linked to this one control, giving Nemesis absolute control over the attack fleet’s hyperdrives. When he activated the control, the ships of the fleet would drop out of hyperspace. He assured Kittaine that he could guide the fleet into less than a planetary diameter of Earth, in fact, Nemesis was absolutely certain that he could guide the fleet into an exact spot within the Earth defensive lines.

Kittaine recognized the advantage of such a maneuver but was extremely hesitant to entrust his fleet to Lord Nemesis’ intuition. Tactical advice that aided them in battle was one thing, putting his entire fleet in the hands of the Sith Lord was another.

If the fleet jumped out of hyperspace into the Earth itself, or more likely, clipped the large satellite that orbited the planet, they could be ripped apart before the battle had even begun. Such maneuvers were usually the province of desperate commanders – that usually translated into rebel commanders. There was no need to take such a risk. The Imperial fleet was in a position of absolute strength.

Even though the Federation had assembled more ships than the Empire had faced so far, save for the Borg, the battle was as bound to be one sided as all the others. But Nemesis was now obsessed with defeating the Federation as soon as possible. He had also sent orders to Tarsi in Klingon space to accelerate his conquest of Klingon space. Obviously, Nemesis’ intuition had warned him against another threat.

Kittaine found himself wondering what could worry a Sith Lord.

“The perimeter alarm just went off, we’re within their star system, in seconds we’ll be within earth’s gravity well, what is he waiting for?” Branna muttered nervously.

“Mind your station, Captain.” Kittaine replied quietly.

“Aye sir.” Branna replied morosely.

Suddenly, Nemesis flicked a switch and hyperspace vanished all at once. The great blue green orb of Earth loomed up to fill the entire view port. The gray-white moon flashed by them.

Hundreds of starships were swarming around them.

“Launch all fighters, scramble bombers. Have the Bellicose and Bombard move to protective station around the hangar bays.” Kittaine ordered without hesitation.

“All gunners, open fire!” Branna snapped.

The Imperial fleet had come out of hyperspace right in the center of the Federation defensive fleet around Earth. Several starships had the unfortunate fate of being clipped or outright rammed by the Imperial ships as they exited hyperspace. Several of them exploded immediately upon impact, a few flipped end over end flying away on impact trailing debris and plasma.

The Imperial fleet immediately began firing into the stunned Federation fleet. The starships reacted sluggishly at first, many still reeling by the appearance of a fleet in their midst.

“A wing of Galaxy class cruisers is moving in to attack our hangar bays.” Branna warned.

“Have the Bellicose concentrate all fire on the approaching ships, direct heavy turbolaser batteries to lay down flak. Have the first Bomber squadrons set up defensive perimeter until the rest of the Bomber squadrons are launched.”

“Acknowledged, sir.”

“Admiral, I want landings to commence immediately.” Nemesis ordered as he strode back up to the command deck.

“Lord Nemesis, we have not secured the space over the landing zones. Federation resistance is only now starting to stiffen.” Kittaine responded with a hint of surprise. Dozens of starships were converging on his fleet, engaging whatever they could. Angry red phaser fire was lancing out at the assembled Imperial ships, quickly followed by fusillades of torpedo fire. He noted with a hint of chagrin that the Federation fleets were focusing their attacks on the smaller picket ships and the fighter and bomber wings. They had learned from their previous encounters. They were concentrating their attacks on what they could hurt and ignoring the Star Destroyers.

“This is not the battle we intended to fight. The Federation is trying to evacuate their leadership and vital personnel.” Nemesis replied darkly, glancing back at the beautiful planet. “I can feel their fear, their panic. They are desperately trying to cover the retreat, and this battle is all a farce. We can destroy this fleet but their leadership will have escaped. We need ground troops at the rally points to cut off all retreat.”

“I cannot guarantee that the landing ships will be able to drop without casualties.” Kittaine replied sternly. He did not need to tell Nemesis that the Empire’s ground troops were an extremely valuable commodity. They cold not be replaced, at least not yet and any military commander tried his best to protect his most valuable assets. He did not relish the thought that some of his ground forces would be destroyed before they could even land on the surface, particularly when he could secure the space in a matter of time reducing their casualties to zero.

“Their casualties will be worth it if we can capture the Federation leadership intact. We can end this conflict today if we capture the leadership and completely demoralize the enemy.” Nemesis replied coldly.

Kittaine frowned.

“Sir, we’re detecting a planetary shield grid activating on the surface. It is covering the entire planet.” Branna reported. This was new, so far they had not encountered any planetary shields in their assaults.

“Overall strength?” Kittaine asked, as outside his heavy turbolaser batteries began ripple firing. Their explosive thermonuclear flak laying waste to the waves of Federation ships trying to close the distance, many of them disappeared in the flash of energy, not to be seen again, some were limping in closer, trailing plasma and wreckage. They did not stop coming, pouring fire at the Imperial ships.

“Not strong enough to repel a standard bombardment. It will be simple to over come the shield grid at the key landing zones.” Branna replied with a satisfied smirk.

“What is the status of the Federation defensive fleet’s deployment?”

“We have over half of the fleet collapsing on us.”

“Good.” Kittaine nodded. “It is time to start closing the noose tighter. Send the signal to Captain Belladonna.”

“Aye Admiral.”

“Admiral? The Landings?” Nemesis interjected darkly.

“A few more minutes, My lord and I will secure the space above the landing zones.”

“We don’t have time. We must press them without respite or they WILL escape.” Nemesis hissed.

Kittaine stared into the young Sith Lord’s eyes.

“My Lord, we will lose many landers. We must maintain our army strength, particularly if we fully intend to hold on to these worlds. I will set up a blockade that will not allow any Federation ships to escape.” Kittaine was surprised by his bravery, normally a Sith Lord’s orders were as inviolate as the Emperor’s.

Nemesis did not seem to be surprised, an expression more akin to respect crossed his features very briefly.

“Set the superlaser to flak mode.” He ordered.

“Sir?” Branna gasped.

“You heard me Admiral. If you are unwilling to commence landing operations until we secure the space over the landing zones, then I have found a way for you to do so.”

“My Lord, a superlaser has never even been test fired in flak mode, it has rarely even been simulated on computer.”

“Good, then we are putting it through its paces as the Emperor commanded. I am not in the custom of having my orders questioned, Admiral. I trust this will not become a habit?” Nemesis replied icily.

Kittaine felt phantom fingers gently stroke his neck. Kittaine froze, his face a mask of quiet calm.

“Of course, my lord.” He replied stoically.

Kittaine nodded to Branna.

Branna paused then turned to the weapons pit.

“Reveal the Iris!”

“Aye sir.”

“Set charge for flak mode.” Branna added.

The weapons team paused in action, several turning to stare up at Branna.

“Sir?”
“You heard me, mister!” Branna snapped.

“Aye sir!”

Outside in the battle Federation starships were beginning to accelerate to attack speed, many finding their paces and range. Mirandas spun away as they swarmed around the Imperial Carracks, pelting them with torpedo fire and phasers. A wing of Galaxies stood off and fired continuous beams of phaser fire into the Imperial Strike cruisers, volleys of burst fire quantum torpedoes chased down and exploded among the Imperial fighters and bombers.

Federation Tac Fighters were hunting their Imperial counterparts, concentrating their fury on the Bomber squadrons which had yet to unleash their proton torpedo payloads into the defensive fleet. The survivors of past encounters with the Imperials knew full well the damage that they could do against starships.

One Tac fighter was clipped by a flight of TIE Interceptors that dropped down out of nowhere, firing their weapons in precise bursts that tore through the Tac fighter’s shields and sheared off a wing. The Tac fighter spun out of control and exploded against an Excelsior class ship that was trying to avoid a picket screen of Carracks to try and get in closer to the fleet. A quarter of the ship’s saucer disappeared in a flash of antimatter and matter annihilating itself, the starship slowly began to tilt forward and drop down.

Two Tac fighters immediately came in to avenge their fallen squadron mate and blasted the Interceptors into fragments.

Meanwhile at the edge of the battle field, Star Base one had finally cleared the curvature of the Earth, using its engines to race around to the point of contact, the Starbase suddenly unleashed a barrage of phaser fire. An experimental new weapons platform, the Star Base’s phasers were based on the Defiant class’ pulse phaser cannons, only much larger and obviously far more powerful.

They opened up with devastating effectiveness on the lead picket ship closest to the Starbase, a Strike cruiser that suddenly found itself under a withering barrage of pulsed phaser fire just as it began trading fire with several Akiras.

The Enterprise moved among the fleet like a messenger of the gods, flashing form one hot point to the next, shoring up battered wings, covering the retreat of shattered starships and lending her fury to an attempt to overwhelm a floundering Imperial warship’s shields.

Riker held on to his command seat as they took a broadside from a Stardestroyer far to the port. It had moved in to support a Strike cruiser’s attempt to break up an assault by a wing of Exelsiors and Mirandas.

“Status?” he asked a s conduit erupted somewhere behind him.

“Shields are holding but we can’t take much more of this sir. We need time to recharge the shields and shore up flagging systems. The structural integrity field is at its absolute maximum at this point trying to hold us together.” Geordie reported from Engineering, the worry and concern in his voice very clear.

“Time is a luxury we don’t have Geordie. Right now the Enterprise is the only starship that seems to be holding this wing of the fleet together. If this defensive line collapses we’ll have no escape corridors for the transports.” Riker replied, smiling triumphantly as a Carrack exploded far to his starboard, a victim of a concentrated burst from a wing of Galaxies and Excelsiors that had moved in after a flight of Mirandas seemed to have partially overwhelmed her shields. It was the first Imperial casualty of this war and he was there to see it.

Of course, as if reminding him how overmatched they were, a swarm of proton torpedoes flashed by the Carrack’s debris and slammed into the Galaxy and Excelsior wings. Several Excelsiors exploded, one of the Galaxies slowly listed to port, her starboard nacelle gone replaced with a glowing stump of molten metal.

“It looks as if this part of the line is stable.” his tactical officer reported. He was a good man, but Riker would have preferred Worf at that station. Unfortunately, Worf was stationed on Quo’nos and if he had heard things correctly, Worf would soon have his own hands full with the Empire.

Three ships flashed into view at the extreme outer edge of Luna’s orbit. Three Stardestroyers were now in their rear.

“Where the hell did they come from?!” Riker exclaimed as the stardestroyers began raking the rear of the Earth defensive fleet with devastating effectiveness. Starfleet had painstakingly kept the heart of their fleet away from the stardestroyers, focusing their strikes on the lighter warships and fighter wings. Now the entire fleet had slowly closed in around the Imperial fleet and were encircling them.

With the bulk of the fleet closing in around the Imperial fleet, the rear was exposed and the empire had just dropped three stardestroyers into their exposed flank. Riker watched in horror as dozens of starships exploded under a barrage of devastating fire.

“Admiral Ross is ordering the fleet to break into attack wings and spread out.” Data stated as the Enterprise was rocked by several near hits.

“Data commence firing on the nearest Stardestroyer, see if we can’t draw some of their fire away from the fleet as it pulls back.” Riker ordered, noting that several of the starships closets to the Enterprise were in serious danger, plasma venting from the nacelles, many of them sluggishly moving to fulfill the last order. He needed to protect them until their engineers could fix the problems. He quickly glanced down at the tactical display on his armrest. Hundreds of starships were either destroyed or damaged. This was not good. The battle had only just begun and the evacuations were still underway. Not a single transport had been able to lift off yet.

This could very well be turning into an absolute disaster.




“This is turning into a route.” Ross grimaced.

Ross was on the bridge of his personal flagship, the Achilles, a newly refit Galaxy class cruiser. He was watching the death dance on his main viewer. Dozens of starships were dying in flashes of green turbolaser fire as they tried to keep their distance from the lethal stardestroyers.

“Have Luna unleash their weapons. As soon as the first missile is away, send the signal to the Reckless Hope.” Ross ordered.

“Aye Admiral.”

The three stardestroyers that had jumped in on their rear were advancing hungrily, weapons sweeping the space before them. They were passing the surface of Luna when several flashes of light erupted from deep within several craters of the ghost white satellite. Missiles rocketed from the surface, paused at a high orbit and engaged small warp drives. The missiles crashed into the rears of the three newcomer stardestroyers at high warp speed coupled with a warhead of enriched Neutritium used with such devastating effectiveness by the Federation during the Dominion war to destroy fortifications and asteroid bases. There was not much to be found after the war, and it was always an unstable substance, but the Federation managed to scrape enough together to load onto a fusillade of missiles. The missiles exploded with an epic blast that nearly scarred the surface of the moon even more so than it already was.

One of the Stardestroyers slowly began to list to port, dropping out of formation. Upon closer inspection, one of her great engine nozzles was blasted apart and another was flickering wildly. The stricken stardestroyer seemed to have seen better days, great gashes were gouged into its armor and battle damage was evident throughout the mighty warship.

The other two continued onward, but trailing glittering particles of damaged hulls and engine components. They began disgorging Tie Interceptors and Bombers.

Suddenly several ships flashed in on an angle beneath the stardestroyers and their slowly launching fighter wings. The Reckless Hope led a small wing of Nebula and Defiant class ships, acting as pickets for the fleet were two squadrons of X-Wing fighters. The X-wings immediately began to peel away from the Federation formation and attacked the Interceptors. The Reckless Hope poured fire into the small cloud of fighters and bombers that had been gathering in the relative safety of the shadow of their base ships, finding to their horror just how relative that safety was. The nebulas fired rippling volleys of quantum torpedoes with proximity fuses that detonated on the outer edge of the gathered squadrons, driving the debris into the center of the fighter and bomber formations.

The Defiants accelerated and passed the Reckless Hope and Nebulas and began to engage the fighters and bombers, making a hard pass at them before passing on to the larger stardestroyers and unleashing their fury. They bobbed and weaved in between turbolaser fire, firing pulsed phaser blasts in coordinated strikes with the nebulas to tax the Imperial shields.

Several Defiants split off from the main body and provided fire support for the X-Wings as they waded into the main body of Tie Interceptors.

“Watch it Rogue Three we’ve got a wing of bandits trying to sneak through the back door.”

“Copy that Wedge, I’ve got two right above you!”

“Roger that, Hobbie, you see that?”

“Right with you boss, an element of TIE bombers trying to make a run on the Hope.”

“Rogues five and six, see if you can’t dissuade them.” Wedge ordered as he managed to avoid a steady stream of fire and fired off a snapshot at a passing Interceptor, shearing off a wing and sent it tumbling away.

“This is a lot thicker than I usually like it.” He muttered as he sent his fighter into a tight spinning dive to avoid several Interceptors.

Wedge suddenly found himself spinning through a steady stream of crimson pulsed phaser fire. The phaser fire splashed through a flight of Tie Interceptors that were about to follow him down. The Interceptors exploded upon contact and a Defiant flashed over Wedge’s X-Wing.

“We have your back, Rogue Leader.” A clam voice filtered in his ear.

“Roger that!” Wedge replied with a grin. “We could use a few of those on a strike mission.” He commented as he swung around and lined up a shot on a Tie Bomber.

“Looks to me, boss, that they could use a lot more of us too.” Hobbie added sarcastically as they passed through another wave of fighters. Wedge didn’t say anything after that as he became entangled in a fur ball involving close to a dozen interceptors. He did note however the disturbing amount of wrecked Federation hulls he had to avoid the deeper he moved into the battle.




“We’re picking up a massive energy spike on the Emperor’s Will.” Data warned.

“The super laser?” Riker asked, edging forward in his seat.

“I believe so.”

“Captain Riker to Admiral Ross.”

“I copy Riker, I know what you’re calling about, but we simply don’t have the ships to make an attack run on the Emperor’s Will. We’re having a hard enough time dealing with their picket and light ships.” Ross replied wearily.

“Admiral, that superlaser can crack continents, one shot is all it would take to disrupt our evacuation efforts.” Riker countered.

“Captain Riker, half of the defensive fleet is gone, the other half is having the hell pounded out of it, how do you propose we make an assault on the Emperor’s Will without passing through the flotilla of stardestroyers flanking her?” Ross snapped.

Riker took a breath and shook his head.

There was no other way. The Empire was going to get a free shot at Earth and there was nothing they could do. More turbolaser fire suddenly rained down around the Enterprise, the Hornet, an Excelsior class ship fighting alongside them, had one nacelle sheared off by the fire and then its saucer section was torn away by another. The ship slowly drifted down and crashed against a Strike cruiser deep in a shooting match with a half dozen Akiras.

“Full Evasive, try and get us in close to the Emperor’s Will.” Riker ordered. He did not give damn. The Enterprise would not stand idly by and let Earth suffer such an attack.

“Captain, the odds of the Enterprise penetrating far enough into the Imperial lines to directly attack the Emperor’s Will are-“

“Data, never tell me the odds.” Riker snapped.

Data paused for a moment, looked slightly bewildered and turned back to his station.
The Enterprise moved deftly among the shattered remains of their front lines. Over a hundred starships lay wrecked in this small area of the battlefield alone as they traded fire with Strike cruisers and Carracks. Riker noted with some satisfaction that a Strike cruiser was limping back deeper into the lines, pursued by a hunting party led by a Nebula that kept pouring fire into the wounded Imperial ships. Small saber class ships pivoted around the cruiser like hounds.

As they moved deeper through the lines he noted a stark change as they soon became the sole Federation starship in the lines. Massive stardestroyers, lending long range fire support to the fleet, some slowly inching forward, only to have the main line of Federation ships pull back accordingly. It was painfully obvious that the Federation did not intend to stand toe to toe with the big ships.

The Emperor’s Will loomed on the screen and Riker slowly began to wonder just how in the hell he was going to even get that behemoth to notice him.

An alarm buzzed incessantly on Data’s board.

“The superlaser is about to discharge.”

Riker closed his eyes for a moment and imagined how many millions would die.

The Emperor’s Will’s nose suddenly flared green and a beam lanced out an angle, somewhat away from Earth and more to the extreme right flank of the Federation lines. The beam suddenly splashed open like a wave crashing on the shore and there was a green flash that blinded everyone on the bridge.

“Brace for subspace shockwave.” Data warned, eyes not affected by the super laser’s flak burst.

“All hands, brace for im-“

The Enterprise lurched hard downward and more alarms wailed, lights winked out on the bridge and for a moment, it seemed that they had been plunged into oblivion.






“It worked, the Federation right flank is just…gone.” Branna breathed.

“Excellent.” Nemesis replied with a hint of satisfaction. He turned quickly to face a newcomer on the bridge. The general snapped to attention.

“General Ithis, you may start your landing. Your objectives have changed somewhat. The majority of your forces are going to be landing on or near rally points where Federation transports are loading men and material for evacuation. You are to destroy these transports, leave no survivors.”

“Of course my lord.” Ithis replied huskily. Ithis was a short man, nearly a head shorter than most men on the command deck, but his stature was overshadowed by his face, a cold mask of professionalism and a steely metallic eye that stared straight ahead, a cold green gleam in the mechanical pupil.

“You are to personally lead the main body of troops and take Starfleet command. That is the central rally point for their leadership and command staff. I want the senior commanders and politicians taken alive if possible.”

“Should they resist?” he asked coolly.

“Do not hesitate to slaughter foes of the Empire. But I think you will find their civilian leadership at least willing to surrender with a sufficient show of force, I can already feel their fear coursing through them like poison.” Nemesis replied with a cold soft smile.

“As you command my Lord.” General Ithis bowed deeply.

“One last thing, general. I am sure that Admiral Kittaine has urged you to be cautious in battle, to watch out for casualties and the like. I am telling you that speed is of the essence. Crush them without mercy, drive through them like a storm.” Nemesis ordered darkly.

Kittaine shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

“There is no other way for a soldier of the Empire to fight, My Lord.” Ithis replied with a casual smile.

“Excellent. I expect success.”

“You shall have it, my lord.” Ithis snapped a sharp crisp salute and strutted off the bridge.

“Kittaine, provide fighter escort for the landing barges, then have TIE Bombers begin attack runs on key planetary power and defensive structures.”

“The shield grid?” Branna asked.

“Bring it down, immediately.” Nemesis replied with a sharp smile.




Riker managed to clear his eyes and focus on the screen as the Enterprise slowly righted herself.

“Status?”

“Engines are coming back online, everything else shows nominal.”

“Sir look!”

Riker glanced up and saw the first of the massive landing barges slowly floating out of the Emperor’s Will’s hangar bay. Several other flanking stardestroyers were also following suits and wings of TIE Interceptors were slowly forming up around the barges.

“They’re landing troops.” Riker breathed.

“It would appear that the Empire means to take Earth whole.” Data surmised.

“Then why fire the superlaser at all?” Riker asked.

“Sir.” The voice was quiet behind him and Riker glanced back at his tactical officer. His young face was ashen.

“What is it lieutenant?”

“The entire right wing of our fleet is gone.”

“What do you mean gone?” Riker pressed, feeling dread slowly clench his stomach.

“The super laser blast was fired in a flak mode and the resulting energy blast completely vaporized our right wing.”

“That’s over three hundred starships. Lieutenant! Are you sure?”

“They’re just not there, sir.” He replied weakly.

“Sir, Admiral Ross is demanding that we return to the lines, he is forming up the fleet into a tight phalanx and is preparing to secure the escape corridor for the transports.”

“We need more time.” Riker replied dumbly.

“According to Admiral Ross, we just ran out of time. The transports leave with what they have, or Starfleet is doomed.” His communications officer replied hesitantly.








The ensigns all exclaimed when they saw the bright green flash in the sky that blotted out the sun for a brief moment. They were standing around hastily dug in trenches and fortifications. Most were carrying heavy assault phasers and looked very young and scared. The experienced officers and men were still prepping the positions, many of them ignored the fireworks overhead and getting ready for the assault they knew was coming.

Large turreted phaser cannons were calibrated by technicians and pointed down to the only viable approach to the imposing structure of Starfleet Command behind the battlefield. Artillery was slowly put in place, pre-sighted coordinates were loaded into the targeting computers.

On the sprawling south lawn of Starfleet command dozens of Delta Flyers were lined up neatly, pilots walking around each ship personally inspecting it as most pilots are wont to do. One pilot in particular was speaking fervently to a woman.

“Tom, I won’t leave you!” Belanaa protested.

“Belenna, you’re not leaving me, you’re just getting on that transport and getting the hell of Earth. I’m staying behind to fly cover for you and as soon as you’re away, we’re flying up to rendezvous with Starfleet in orbit.

Belanna eyed the sky for a moment, streaks of green would occasionally light up the sky, sometimes red fire arced like lightning in return, explosions constantly rippled like stars in the day time sky.

“Do you really think anyone is going to be left up there, Tom?”

Tom Paris took a firm hold of Belanna’s shoulders and looked into her eyes.

“I have to believe that we’re going to survive this. If someone would have told me six years ago that I would be flung across the galaxy and come back a decorated officer, having met and defeated the Borg and win the heart of a half Klingon Maquis I would have laughed in their faces. My adventures on Voyager taught me two thing, anything is possible.”

“And the second?” she asked quietly.

“That I love you.” he replied with a grin and kissed her.

They held each other for a long moment then Torres pulled away and fixed Tom with a harsh gaze.

“I’m going to get our child and I’m getting on that transport, but your butt BETTER be on its way after us or I swear you will regret the day you decided to abandon me to the tender mercies of Starfleet.” she replied caustically, her Klingon ridges flaring slightly to show that she was not kidding.

Tom decided against countering her venomous hatred of Starfleet, she would never forgive Starfleet for what happened to the Maquis during the Dominion War. Chakotay had left without saying a word and for some time, Tom had been terrified that Belenna would leave as well. It ate at him that he realized the only reason she did not leave was because of their child.

Instead Tom nodded and gave her a wry wink.

“I’ll see you on the flip side.”

Belanna stared at him for a moment, as if trying to commit his features to memory and turned away and stalked off to the Western lawn were great transports were being loaded and ready for lift off. Delegates, ambassadors, council members and Starfleet brass were milling about like ensigns on parade detail.

“Quite a gal you got there, Mr. Paris.” Wes Janson interrupted.

Tom turned and smiled softly at the young man from another galaxy.

“She is at that. Now, you are the Alliance’s liaison with us for ground operations against the Empire?” he asked as he walked over to his Delta Flyer.

“That’s right. Princess Leia and Captain Kirk thought it would be best if one of us was here to help you guys out should the empire make the landings we assume they’ll make.”

“So, can you tell me something straight?” Tom asked pointedly as he opened the hatch to the Flyer.

“Shoot.” Wes shrugged.

“Do we stand any chance at all of stopping them even for a little while?” Tom asked directly.

Wes fought the urge to glance away.

“Anything is possible, Mr. Paris.”

Tom frowned.

Wes nodded slowly.

“Quiet frankly, Mr. Paris, I wouldn’t have given you guys much of a chance of holding off the fleet above us but you have so, let’s just say that your Federation seems to be full of surprises.” Wes added and joined Tom in the Flyer.

“Why do I get the feeling that we’re not the only one full of surprises.” Tom muttered and as the hatch closed he saw green fire dance above them like St. Elmo’s fire.

“The San Francisco Shield Grid is down, repeat, the San Francisco shield grid is down.” The computer’s calm female voice announced on loud speakers.

Tom watched as large shadowy shapes dropped down from the clouds several miles east of Command. Wes peered over his shoulder and frowned.

“Imperial landing barges. This is just the beginning.”




“Captain Entebbe, I don’t think that subtlety is going to be required at this point. Grab it and secure the objective then get into position to support the Enterprise.” Kirk said as he eyed the defensive operations.

“Which one?” Entebbe replied playfully on the small communicator pin that Kirk had slapped on his sleeve. Most of the Starfleet personnel had the small devices in place of the Starfleet insignia on his uniform at the chest. He did not want to obscure his own, he was rather proud of his so called antiquated uniform but did not deny the usefulness of such a small communicator so he slapped it on his sleeve and was holding up his right arm to his mouth as he spoke.

Leia was busy on her own com link relaying orders to the Reckless Hope which was now in the thick of the battle. R2D2 and C3PO stood by her side, a strange metallic entourage.

“Captain, the one with the funny dish on the secondary hull.” he replied with a smirk.

“Copy that Captain. I’ll secure the objective now.”

“How is the battle going?” Kirk asked quietly.

“Not good, Captain. I’m looking at the greatest single battle losses Starfleet has suffered, ever.” Entebbe replied bitterly.

“So we’ll make every shot down here count. Hang tight Captain. Kirk out.” Kirk slapped the small communicator and it gave that funny little sound of deactivation.

“I take it you’ve heard.” Leia interjected seeing the dark cloud forming over Kirk’s face.

“It’s going as badly as you predicted.”

“I’m not proud of that.” she replied with a frown.

“Hold on Princess, I’ve been watching a situation develop that needs to be rectified right away.” Kirk suddenly replied and walked over to the assembled ensigns helping the hold the center of the lines.

“Ensigns! What is this? A military review? Let’s get in those trenches.” Kirk ordered stalking over to the front of the first line of trenches. The ensigns hesitated, many staring at him in that same mix of awe and disbelief that many had given him since he got here.

“I know you’re afraid, why? Because we’re all afraid, but that’s nothing to be ashamed about, nothing to hate about yourself. Fear is a healthy thing even for a Starfleet officer.”

“Sir! Have you ever really been afraid?” One ensign piped up hesitantly.

Kirk peered over at him.

“Why do you think I’ve never been afraid?” he asked directly.

“Because you’re James T. Kirk.” the ensign replied without hesitation.

Kirk smiled softly and shook his head.

“Ensign, do you have any idea how many times I’ve felt my heart pounding in my chest, the sweat collecting on my palms, the cold palpitations in my gut? I’ve seen some truly horrible things, I’ve faced enraged Klingons who would want nothing more than to hand me my own beating heart, gods that wanted me to worship them, super computers that could fry me without a moment’s hesitation, so was I afraid? YES. But do you know what makes me Captain James T. Kirk and proud to wear this uniform and honored to stand with you young men? It’s the fact that I worked beyond that fear and did my duty, because duty is what we are about, and risk, gentlemen, risk IS our business.” Kirk replied proudly.

Ensigns quickly began pouring into the trenches or taking up support positions with the artillery units, many of them nodding to themselves confidently. Some even cheered Kirk as they went to their stations.

Leia slowly walked over to Kirk with a wan smile on her beautiful face. Kirk noted that her face had not smiled in a long time. There were worry lines along her eyes and mouth and dark circles under her eyes.

“I salute you captain. You are a leader of men. The Alliance could use a man like you.”

“Once we kick the Empire out of our galaxy, I’ll be sure to consider returning with you to finish the job.” he paused and looked down at her. “You really should smile more often princess.”

Leia shook her head and there was a sharp pain in her eyes.

“I must be going Captain.”

“Leia, wait!”

“Imperial Walkers on the East slope, repeat, Imperial walkers on the East slope.” the calm computer voice announced.

Kirk and Leia looked to the east where all they could hear was the thundering boom of walking doom.

“Here they come.” they stated simultaneously.

R2 began whistling frantically. 3PO looked down at his companion and shook his head.

“Exciting his hardly the word I would use.” he replied.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:11pm
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Chapter 18: Battle of Sector 001 pt. 2

Nemesis closed his eyes as he felt the ebb and flow of the darkside. He could feel the anger, hate, fear and aggression flowing all around him. The fleet battle had become a great vortex of darkside power and he fed from it, took comfort in it and followed its flows. His consciousness drifted down to the pathetic world sprawled beneath his mighty armada.

He drifted on the clouds of fear that dominated the Federation lines as troops, some no older than he was on Tatooine when the lying old wizard appeared in his life began to prepare for battle against his mighty war machines. A brief flicker on the edge of memory of endless fields of white snow and trenches full of friends and allies prepared to hold off an enemy they knew could not be beat.

“I feel like I can take on the empire myself.” a soft voice drifted in on his thoughts. He slammed the memories away like one swats an offensive bug crawling across a table.

He felt something else, a presence he had not felt since…Bespin. His eyes flashed across the Federation lines and there he spied a beacon of light, so pure, so bright, warm like the fires of a home’s hearth, inviting like a warm bed in the middle of a cold desert night. Standing by the beacon was a young man, dressed in a gold shirt and black pants, light shone from him as well.

“The Force is strong in this one.” he surmised with a smirk. Then he peered past him as he rallied the troops. Someone else stood behind him, the source of the light and the warmth, It called him like home.

“Leia!” he gasped as he saw her for the first time since Bespin. She was as beautiful as he remembered, her hair was up in a tight bun and her face had that same determined scowl. Her eyes betrayed the weariness, the sorrow.

He slowly reached out and touched her cheek, brushing it with a careful calm like a sculptor touching a masterpiece, feeling the cool soft alabaster skin.

“They have all lied to you, my young apprentice.” the cold reptilian like voice cut in.

“Not her, not ever.” he responded without thinking. There was truth in his words. It armed him.

“For luck.” he felt the phantom kiss on his cheek and his brash smile as he took a firm grip of the rope and swung across the yawning chasm beneath them.

“Leia.”

She paused as if she had heard a voice on the wind. Her eyes slowly tracked around her and stopped as they locked with his.

“Luke?” She replied hesitantly.

He drew back, the world flashed away like an illusion of smoke and mirrors and he stood on the bridge of the Emperor’s Will.

“Move us closer to the Federation fleet, we must press the advantage, they are obviously trying to protect the route of escape of their transports.” Kittaine ordered, smelling blood. The Federation fleet had suffered more than 50% casualties. Hundreds of starships were destroyed or dead in space, the rest of their fleet was damaged to some extent, many were obviously crippled, they would not be able to withstand a full assault.

“Sir, the Federation starbase has moved to an interposing position between their fleet and ours, its weapons suites are damaging our lighter fleet elements.” Branna reported.

“Move us in closer, the Emperor’s Will will deal personally with this starbase, have the stardestroyers form up into assault wings, I want to hit them all at once for maximum effect. I don’t want any of these ships escaping this day.”

“Aye sir.”

“Admiral.”

“My Lord?”

“Prepare my personal shuttle.”

Kittaine paused.

“Lord?”

“I am landing on Earth, I want a contingent of your finest stormtroopers waiting for me in assault transports, I am personally leading an assault on Starfleet command.”

“My lord, General Ithis reports that his AT-ATs will be in firing range in a matter of moments. He reports little resistance so far. It is not necessary for you to risk yourself on this endeavor.” Kittaine replied.

“I have to agree with the Admiral on this point, Lord Nemesis.” Mara interjected stepping to Nemesis’ side.

Nemesis smirked.

“Your protests are duly noted, now prepare my shuttle.” he strode away from them, but as he was about to enter the lift he paused and turned his head over his shoulder.

“Admiral, destroy that fleet, I want there to be no survivors. The Federation must learn today that resistance to the Empire will only garner death and desolation.”

“Of course, My Lord.” Kittaine snapped. He swore he would never understand the Sith Lord.

“I don’t ever think you will, Admiral, but I don’t require your understanding, merely your obedience.” Nemesis replied icily, but there was a wicked smile on his face and he entered the lift.

“Mara, to my side.”

“Of course My lord.” she bowed slightly to Kittaine and quickly joined Nemesis in the lift. Kittaine watched the pair as the doors slid shut.

He shook his head slowly. They certainly deserved each other, but the thought of having them on his fleet for the rest of his life was daunting.

“Sir, we’re in range of the starbase.”

“Let them show us their mighty weapons.” Kittaine replied snapped out of his reverie.

Starbase One’s fire began to concentrate on the Emperor’s Will. Angry red crimson pulsed phaser fire splashed over the mighty ship’s bow. Torpedoes were streaking in and exploding in an impressive light show on their shields. Kittaine watched the firepower dancing along the hull of his ship with cold satisfaction.

“Have heavy turbolaser gunners all lock on to that starbase.”

“How many?”

“A single broadside will be sufficient to show these fools what they are facing.”

“Of course Admiral.”

“Also, have our fighter squadrons escort our bombers in an attack run in the center of their fleet, it’s time we cut them in half and send the assault wings in on my mark.”

“Of course Admiral.”

Kittaine stared out his viewport as the base grew in size. They approached closer and closer, the weapons were brighter, striking repeatedly. He admired them for their courage. They were not even trying to escape.

“Fire.”

The heavy turbolasers lanced out and the mighty emerald beams slashed through the starbase like scythes, tearing it into pieces, punching through the armored hull like paper. Explosions, hot plasma and debris tore through the deep gashes in the starbase. The weapons fire faltered and suddenly died as a massive explosion tore through the heart of the base, the great spinning top portion suddenly came loose, spinning away into the darkness trailing molten metal and hot gasses. The lower portion exploded like a roman candle, the very lowest stabilizing rod rocketed downward, driven by the force of the violent matter/antimatter reaction like nail into Earth’s atmosphere. The massive chunk of debris trailed through the atmosphere like a flaming arrow and descended into the clouds.

A wave of Tie Bombers and their fighter escorts charged the assembled Federation fleet. White trailing wakes of proton torpedoes soon streaked into the Federation fleet. The stardestroyers, packed in solid wedge formations inched in like hungry hounds.



“Leia are you alright?” Kirk asked. He reached out to touch her shoulder when suddenly a massive paw fell around his hand, dwarfing it and closing around his like a vise.

“Rarraggh.” Chewbacca grunted and pushed Kirk away none to gently.

“Sorry.” Kirk replied massaging his sore hand. The Wookie towered over Leia protectively and eyed Kirk suspiciously.

“It’s alright, Chewie.” Leia replied hesitantly and patted the Wookie's enormous fur covered arm. She looked over at Kirk.

“We have to get out of here. Luke is on his way, I felt it.”

Kirk frowned.

“I thought you wanted to confront him.”

“I do, but not as a POW. We need to get out of here fast.”

“The battle hasn’t even begun yet and-“

Suddenly there was a flash and several red energy bolts screamed over head and crashed against the far side of the defensive lines. Huge geysers of hot earth erupted upward as the bolts exploded into the ground. Phaser cannons began firing and there began a slow thumping sound. The thumping came from the auto loaded photon launcher. The big mortars were set up at the back of the lines, an automatic feeder belt loaded a photon canister, essentially a miniature photon torpedo and launched it overhead at the approaching enemy.

The photon canisters passed over the Federation lines with a loud whistle sound and detonated over the oncoming Imperial Walkers which were now slowly coming into view. Their enormous heads slowly swinging back and forth like prehistoric beasts, pausing long enough to spit out a steady stream of heavy blaster fire that exploded along the Federation lines with devastating effectiveness. Troops screamed as they were blown clear of the trenches they hunkered down in, many of them blown clear with just their upper torsos, the rest of them were left behind in a twisted steaming pile of earth and entrails.

Delta Flyers flashed overhead, firing continuous streams of phaser fire into the advancing Walkers as more of the Federation’s heavy weapons began announcing their presence in the battle.

“No effect!” Tom Paris shouted in anger and frustration as he sent the Flyer between the legs of the lead Walker after firing two steady bursts at the knee joint and the lower back part of the main body. Wes nodded slowly as he tried to make sense of the readings on his sensor array. The Federation sensors were actually very good, but he noted with some distaste that they tended to give too much information, there was alot of extraneous information on this so called tactical display that he could do without.

“Try to hit the neck joints like I told you. Its really the only weak spot we were able to verify at Hoth. Otherwise there’s always harpoons and tow cables.”

“Are you serious?” Paris replied as he sent the Flyer up through a cloud of Flak and brought Flyer to the rear of the assaulting AT ATs.

“How the hell do you fly like that?” Wes asked sardonically watching Tom’s fingers moving over the keypads like mad. He had no idea how Tom was keeping this thing flying around so well with such a cumbersome interface.

“Practice makes perfect. I suppose you guys use antiquated joysticks.”

“Antiquated doesn’t mean they don’t work.” Wes replied, starting to like this young Federation pilot. The Flyer commenced an attack run on the rear of the Walkers. one of the Flyers further ahead suddenly went up in a ball of flame and crashed into the ground. Another Flyer was making a snap shot at a Walker and was clipped by rapid fire light guns, it slowly began descending across the battle field, trailing smoke.

“This is Flyer six, maybe we should switch attack patterns.” Paris flipped on the com. Wes’ eyes widened.

Two more flyers exploded on opposite end of the battlefield.

“Make that definitely change the attack pattern, they’re on to us somehow!” Paris exclaimed.

“You’re using attack patterns? Imperial predictors can sniff out computerized attack patterns in mere moments! Go manual, repeat fly manual or we’re all dead.” Wes interjected.

The Flyers began to split away from the fight, trying to gain distance to recover. Wes noted with some alarm that they were no longer flying so straight and true. Even Paris seemed to be having a more difficult time, his hands moving even faster over the keyboard. So that was it, the Federation relied on computer backups to help their pilots fly. That was too dangerous. They were going to have to break them of the habit. The predictors were simply too good for a computer to fool.

“Ok, let’s do this right, Wes, do you mind taking over the weapons station so I can focus on not running us into the ground?” Paris asked.

“You got it, just tell me which button does the firing and we’re in business.” Wes replied with a grin.



“Hold that line boys, fire into them.” a sergeant shouted over the din of the dead and dying. Cadets stared dumbfounded at the carnage around them. Half dead men clawed their way out of half buried trenches. An artillery piece exploded behind them, showering hot shrapnel down upon the men.

Some of the ensigns were firing their phasers at the approaching Walkers and noting with dismay the little effect they were having. The Walkers were almost on top of the first line of trenches now. Many were shocked just how quickly the massive beasts moved. Before they knew it, the Walkers were nearly across the Eastern slope and entering Starfleet Command itself.

“This is not good.” Kirk muttered as he watched another Delta Flyer explode as it tried a direct assault on the head unit of one the Walkers. He did note however the pale red glow on the armored head as the Delta Flyer’s phasers finished striking it.

“The phasers ARE having an effect on the armor.” Kirk muttered.

“That looks like thermal damage to me.” Leia added.

“No, our phasers don’t work that way, they actually attack the molecular structure of the target that they strike. I’m willing to bet…” Kirk’s voice trailed off and he stalked over to a communications unit in the rear of the artillery park.

“You! What’s the frequency to the Flyer squadrons!” he shouted to the communications officer on duty.

“Uh.” suddenly a blaster burst exploded over head dropping Kirk to the floor. He caught his breath and slowly looked up. The communications array was wrecked, and the officer on duty had most of his vital organs wrapped into the array’s structure. Kirk frowned and activated his communicator on his sleeve.

“Kirk to Enterprise.”

“Please specify which Starship Enterprise you wish to contact. I detect two starships with the same designation in range.” the Computer replied calmly.

“Enterprise, no A, B, or C, just NCC-1701!” Kirk shouted down at the communicator as another burst exploded overhead. Suddenly there was a deep rumble and a transport slowly began to lift off, it hovered over Starfleet Command for a moment then gathered force and rocketed upwards. Some of the Walkers lighter guns fired after it, but the transport was already clearing the clouds overhead and disappeared from sight.

“The first transport is away, repeat, the first transport is away.” the computer announced. Some of the men actually cheered, their sacrifices had not been in vain. This fueled Kirk. He could not let them down.
“Uhura here, sir.”

“Uhura! Thank God, listen, see if you can patch me through to the Delta Flyer squadron’s communications net.”

“Aye aye sir.”

“And Uhura, have Mr. Spock commence orbital bombardment of Starfleet Command.”

“Sir?”

“Just do it, he’ll know what to shoot for.”

“Aye sir.”

Kirk suddenly heard the chatter from the Delta Flyer Squadrons on his communicator.

“This is Captain James T. Kirk to all Delta Flyers, phaser fire IS effective on Imperial armor, but you need intensity and duration to cause a molecular breakdown, you need to focus your fire on one point, maximum intensity and try to keep it on the same spot for as long as possible.” he said.

“We copy that Captain Kirk.”

Kirk smiled and his eyes drifted down to one of the last functioning photon mortars. He saw a combat transporter set up by the mortar. Every few minutes the transporter activated, beaming in a new belt of photon canisters and the loaders would feed the belt into the mortar. Kirk stared at the transporter then looked over at the advancing walkers.

“Jim, you’re pilots aren’t going to be able to stop them. Even if your phaser idea works it will still take time to work through that armor, even our technology finds it difficult to punch through that hide.” Leia interjected.

Kirk accepted her help as he got up from his prone position.

“Then we have to find away to get through that armor and directly attack the walkers.” Kirk said with a wink and ran to the transporter. Leia glanced over at Chewbacca who shrugged.

“If I may say so, your highness, this James Kirk is a highly excitable character.” Threepio added.

R2 whistled in agreement.

Kirk reached the transporter and looked at the loader and his assistant. the loader was a gruff older man, enlisted, his assistant looked like one of the ensigns drafted for duty in this meat grinder. The first of the Walkers had already stepped over the first line of trenches and was advancing through the rest of the field nearly unopposed. He noted with a growing sense of horror that not much weapons fire was coming from the trenches.

“We need to commandeer this unit right away.” Kirk said.

“Excuse me? Last time I checked you weren’t listed on the chain of command. My duty is to keep loading this mortar until they blast me to smithereens and that’s what I’m going to do. In case you haven’t noticed there’s a battle going on!” the loader replied sourly. Kirk was taken aback.

“Excuse me?” Kirk exclaimed in shock and indignation.

“Hey, that’s James Kirk.” The ensign interjected.

“So, who’s he think he is? The Second coming or something. This transporter is our only link to the armory that keeps feeding us these babies and without it this gun runs dry.” he grunted.

Chewbacca suddenly towered over the loader and howled in his face.

“Then again on the other hand, he is a Captain and what am I, a lowly chief, he’s welcome to it.” the man replied without skipping a beat.

“Thanks, Chewie.” Kirk said with a grin and Chewbacca nodded.

“Leia, bring over one of those canisters.” he pointed to one of the photon canisters and started examining the combat transporter’s controls. Their range was limited, but the Walkers were right on top of them so that shouldn’t be an issue. He tried to judge the distance and speed and noted with some disgust that he didn’t have a tricorder, nor did the transporter even have a simple scanning array.

He eyed Artoo.

“You have scanners and sensors?” he asked.

Artoo whistled affirmatively.

“I’ll take that as a yes, get plugged in here and give me range and distance for that lead walker.” he ordered pointing Artoo to the transporter. Artoo happily obliged and plugged into the transporter controls, a small dish antennae quickly rose from a slot in his dome.

“This is heavy.” Leia grunted and handed Kirk one of the canisters. She eyed the set up. “Just what are you doing?”

“A little surprise for our Imperial friends.” Kirk replied and set the canister on the transporter pad.

“Got that range and distance.”

Artoo whistled.

“Are you compensating for the walk?”

Artoo spat something insulting.

“I take that as an up yours.” Kirk replied wanly and activate the controls. The canister faded form view in a column of light. Kirk quickly glanced over to the lead Walker. It was lowering its head to fire at a concentration of troops desperately trying to get out of its way. Suddenly it shuddered hard, explosions could be seen lighting up the interior of the Walker and it slowly ground to a stop, smoke pouring from every open vent.

The men who had been under its guns began cheering and celebrating.

“One down.” Kirk crowed.

“Amazing.” Leia breathed.

“Good work, little guy! Give me range on the next one!” Kirk exclaimed slapping Artoo on his domed head. Artoo whistled happily.



“I have breached their main line of defense my lord, you may start your landing.” General Ithis reported to the small holographic representation of Lord Nemesis on his communications array. Nemesis nodded.

Ithis looked back up at the battlefield and his eyes narrowed on one of his Walkers. It had stopped on the highest slope of the defensive lines, nearly past their defenses, now smoke was billowing from it. He glanced down at his tactical display. The computers were listing it as destroyed.

“What in the name of the Emperor just happened?” he demanded.

“We don’t know sir, one moment Walker S-23 is making an assault and the next she explodes as if struck by artillery.

“Nonsense, Federation artillery has proven useless against our armor.”

“It looked to me like the explosions were coming from within.” his gunner reported uncertainly.

“Within?! How did they get past our armor…” Ithis’ voice drifted off. he remembered the initial briefing before hostilities with the Federation began, the Romulans had given them information on a teleportation system that the powers of this galaxy used.

“Transporters!” he slammed his fist down on the controls. “Have all Walkers commence immediate jamming, speed up the offensive and find me their power core, I have to shut down this threat before-“

Another Walker right on his left flank suddenly shuddered to a stop, explosions definitely issuing from within, this time the side of the armor burst open like an overripe melon and the Walker slowly toppled over.

“Find their power core now!”



“Okay, lining up for the shot, you with me Flyer 9 and 12?”

“We copy that 6, commencing fire.”

The Delta flyers flew in a tight wedge formation and their phasers lanced out simultaneously striking the lead knee joint of a Walker. They were coming in low and slow, trying to maintain fire on the same spot for as long as possible, flak exploded around them mercilessly but Tom kept the Flyer steady and Wes poured on the fire without hesitation. Just as they were forced to break the attack the knee joint suddenly exploded and the Walker shrieked as metal crunched on metal, the joint gone. The Walker toppled forward, all the momentum it had built up during the attack forcing it forward while the front leg failed miserably.

“That got him!” Wes exclaimed.

“Good shooting, Wes!” Tom replied and slapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey guys, looks like the Second transport’s getting away!” one of the Flyer pilots announced joyfully as the transport slowly lifted off. Walker fire struck it several times but the shields held, the transport rocketed away.

“That leaves one more and we’ve accomplished our mission.” Tom breathed with relief.



“Scooter, what do you see?”

Robert Scott Anderson, Scooter to his buddies, was staring out the window of his apartment across the bay, watching the deadly confrontation with a joyful expression.

“You should see this Timmy, they’re letting the Empire cross their lines of defense so that they can spring the trap on them. Once Starfleet has them where they want them, they’ll bitch slap them back to where ever it is that they come from. I mean come on, who are they to think they can conquer the Federation with LASERS?!” he answered derisively. “How’s the space battle going?”

“Well, according to the latest reports, the fleet is getting hammered.” Timothy Jones chuckled. “You have to love Starfleet intelligence, this disinformation campaign is really working. By making the Empire think that they’re destroying our fleet it lulls them into a false sense of security.” Jones replied with a braying laugh as he munched on some Doritos and stared at the holovision.

“To think, that asshole Wong said we should evacuate before the battle started.”

“What an ass, and give up these primo seats for Starfleet’s impending victory?” Scooter replied haughtily.
“Hey after this is over, maybe they’ll finally accept my application to the academy.” Scooter wondered aloud as he glanced back at his best friend.

“Why not, they’ve only rejected you twice before, you know what they say, three times the charm.” Jones replied holding up a can of Soda to toast his buddy.

A low whistling sound slowly grew in volume.

“What the hell is that?” Jones asked.

“Maybe it’s the Starfleet smack down about to go into effect.” Scooter replied with a gleam in his eyes and quickly glanced out the window again. The whistling was definitely getting louder and now the building was shaking.

“What the hell?!”

Scooter slowly looked up and his eyes bulged as he saw the great fireball descending down on them. He turned to his friend, tears in his eyes.

“Timmy?”

“What?”

“Hold me.” Scooter begged.

The stabilizing rod from Starbase One plunged right through the tenement house and impacted into the earth in a multi megaton blast of fire and smoke. The blast leveled most of down town San Francisco.



“Fire in the hole!” Kirk exclaimed as he beamed another canister. The target Walker kept on firing as the canister materialized several meters to the east of it and exploded.

“Hey! What happened?” Kirk asked looking back at Artoo. Kirk had single handedly just knocked four Walkers out of commission and watched with glee as the Imperial advance seemed to be faltering as the Flyers had knocked out another two.

Artoo whistled a long plaintive string.

“Okay, now I’m lost.”

“He said, sir, that the Imperial forces are jamming his sensors, he has to try and make his best guess.” Threepio interjected.

“Well, my little friend, try to guess better.” Kirk said with a nod.

A long explosion ripped through the area, throwing Kirk and the rest to the floor. Kirk felt hot shrapnel pelting him. He slowly looked up and saw a sight he never thought he would see. Starfleet command was in ruins, the main building had been leveled by the monster blast that had passed over them. The building that had stood since the dawn of the Federation was gone.

Phaser fire began to shower down on the battlefield from above. It struck one Walker square one, shearing off the head and one of the hind legs. It exploded where it stood.

“Nice to see that Mr. Spock always likes to announce his presence with a bang.” Kirk smirked.

“Luke.” Leia whispered as she saw the lander slowly descending into the center of the ruined command center, flanked by two squat ugly assault transports she knew was filled to the brim with stormtroopers. She quickly glanced back and saw several walkers kneeling down, disgorging their own troops as well.

“We have to get out of here now!” she urged. Kirk looked down at the combat transporter, but it was dead, obviously the power core in Command had gone up with the building. He slapped on his communicator.

“Kirk to Enterprise.”

“Please specify which-“

“Enterprise, NCC-1701!” Kirk snapped as he watched the pitiful band of survivors scrambling away from the Imperial advance and desperately making their way to the West Lawn where the last transport was loading.

“Uhura here sir.”

“Patch me to Scotty.”

“Sair?”

“Scotty have you finished doing what I asked you to do.”

“Aye sir.” Scotty replied mournfully.

“Scotty, we don’t have time for this now, just make sure everything is set, we’re getting the hell out of here and I have a feeling that the Empire will be making damn well sure we don’t!” Kirk snapped, ignoring the sorrow building in his own heart. “We may be the only hope the Federation has of getting out of here.”

Kirk noted the Walkers were getting close to the lawn and white armored stormtroopers were swarming like army ants towards the transport.

He switched frequencies.

“Transport, get out there, I’m going to get out of here on my own! Get out!”

The transport was slowly lifting off when one of the Walkers leveled its head in its direction and a full salvo struck the transport. The transport shuddered hard and small explosions rippled across its surface, it slowly began to list to port as the pilot was obviously trying desperately to get it to fly when another burst from another Walker struck it and the transport seemed to hang suspended in the air for a moment before plunging downward, exploding into a bright white blast of plasma. Kirk put his arm around Leia and covered her with his body as the shockwave sent them all scattering to the ground.

Kirk slowly got up, groaning as he felt the pain of landing all wrong in his muscles.

“Oh no!” Leia exclaimed.

Kirk looked up and saw an intense young man striding towards them dressed in black, with a flowing black cape. Who in the hell wears a cape in this day and age? Kirk wondered.

“Nemesis I presume?” Kirk asked looking at Leia who nodded sadly. She had not seen him since she saw him on Bespin, trying to rescue them. He looked as if he were in pain, the anger etching his face like acid.

“Master certainly looks angry.” Threepio commented.

Chewie howled sadly at the sight of his friend and knowing what he had become.

“I see you’ve brought the company together for me. Good, you make this much easier for me.” Nemesis stated coldly. Stormtroopers quickly fanned out surrounding them and training their weapons on the group.

“Luke.” Leis began.

“That name, no longer has any meaning for me.” Nemesis snapped.

“Sounds like that’s not the case to me.” Kirk replied sharply. Nemesis eyed the young man, noting his arm still protectively around Leia.

“And who might you be?” Nemesis asked.

“Captain James T. Kirk of the United Federation of Planets. I am personally going to kick your asses back to the galaxy and rock you crawled out from under.” Kirk answered, eyes boring into Nemesis’

“You certainly doing a great job of it now.” Mara interjected sardonically, as if punctuating her point, a flight of TIE Interceptors roared overhead. Leia watched her intently, the way she moved, like some stalking cat, always close to Luke, the way she eyed him.

Kirk smiled at the assembled Imperials, eyes still locked on Nemesis.

“You’ll find I’m full of surprises.” he stated simply and they were suddenly replaced by columns of glittering gold light.

“Stop them! Leia!” Nemesis roared but they were gone. Nemesis stared at the empty space where they stood only a second ago. Mara stared in shock. How could they have missed that avenue of escape? Despite the prevalence of this teleportation technology it was till hard to factor it into the tactical equations.

Nemesis stared up at the sky, black rage filled him. She had been close enough to touch. She had been within his grasp.

“Order Kittaine to blow them all up, spare no one, I want the Federation fleet completely destroyed. NOW.”

“As you command My lord.”

Nemesis stared out at the bay and wondered whether he would ever see her again. He also found his thoughts turning to this Captain James T. Kirk. Something was stirring in his breast. A warning. The Dark side was rippling around him telling him that this would not be the last he would see of the young captain.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:12pm
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Chapter 19: Escape and Confrontations


Nemesis stared up at the sky, feeling the anger and fear storming overhead out of sight. However the stars were starting to peak through the blue canopy of the sky. The sun was setting and he watched it off the waters of the bay. It was really quite beautiful.

“Admiral Kittaine reports that the Federation fleet will be destroyed. He has them cornered and is positioning the fleet for the final assault.” Mara reported.

Nemesis nodded.

Mara watched him intently for a moment. He looked calm. There was still the shadow of anger on his brow, but his eyes kept looking skyward. Behind them, General Ithis was directing his troops as they moved through the wreckage of the battle field, collecting prisoners and capturing any salvageable equipment. Reports had come in across the globe of the Imperial invasion forces successes against the Federation’s defenses. The vast majority of the transports had been downed or captured. Resistance was pathetic, all save here. The Empire had suffered the most casualties in their assault on Starfleet command. Six AT ATs had been damaged or destroyed, many with troops still onboard. Three times the number they lost at Hoth, and that was against prepared defenses against a roughly technologically equal foe.

The Federation had destroyed their command center before it could be captured. Imperial computer experts and salvage teams were combing through the rubble looking for any data that could be recovered.

“If I may be so bold, my lord, it was unwise for you to come down here personally and confront the rebel leader princess Leia Organna. She is a dangerous person.”

“Precisely why I should have over seen her capture personally.” Nemesis snapped.

“Considering your past, I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Nemesis.”

“What did you say?” Nemesis asked his voice cold and dark as a tomb. Mara felt the force starting to wrap around her. She started exercises in her mind to help her resist the coming attack but held no illusions as to her ability to fight off the Sith Lord’s coming attack.

“The Emperor made it very clear to me that as your servant I was to watch you for any wavering in regard to Leia Organna, Han Solo or the wookie. He is well aware that you all shared strong bonds and thus it may confuse you.” She answered quickly. Suddenly she was jerked off her feet and floated above the ground by almost two meters. Nemesis watched her with eyes like ice.

“He said this to you?” He asked softly.

“I am merely fulfilling my duty to the emperor. I may be your servant by I am his Hand. Read my mind if you do not believe me.” She replied calmly, fighting the natural fear and panic that rose in her. She could feel the phantom fingers slowly pressing in on her throat.

Nemesis stared in her eyes for a long moment. The silence was occasionally broken by the sound of TIE Bombers and their Interceptor escorts flying overhead. Sometimes an explosion ripped through the sky far off past the horizon, indicating a Federation stronghold that had met its demise by TIE bombers.

Nemesis slowly brought her down to him. She hovered six inches off the ground and his eyes bore into hers. She could feel his breath on her. He watched her for a moment and suddenly leaned forward and savagely kissed her. Her eyes widened at the contact and she found herself hesitantly returning the kiss. Just as suddenly as it had begun, when she felt the passion stirring in her breast and her own heart beating hard in time with his, he broke contact with her and stared into her eyes again.

She slowly floated to the ground. She caught her breath as he gathered his cape around him.

“I believe I’ve made my feelings clear, Mara. Don’t you?” He asked and stepped away from her striding over to the makeshift command center set up on the ruined field where the battle that had destroyed Starfleet command had taken place.

Mara stared after him for the first time since this had begun unsure of herself or her mission.

“Lord Nemesis, Admiral Kittaine has relayed a message to us from Captain Tarsi. He has fought his way to the Klingon home world of Quo’nos. He is standing by awaiting orders, my lord.” A communications officer reported.

Nemesis smiled coldly.

“Relay this order to Captain Tarsi.”

The communications officer slowly nodded gravely as he heard the order and hesitantly relayed it.






“We’re getting slaughtered.” Ross spat as his ship was rocked by the death throes of another starship on his port bow. The Imperial fighters were weaving between the rapidly dwindling Starfleet task force. Ross did not want to look down at the tactical display on his command chair’s armrest. The last time he had looked, hundreds of starships, commanded by men he knew and cherished were dead.

Tac Fighters valiantly followed after the Imperial fighters, doing their best to keep them away from the big ships, but the Imperial fighters outnumbered the Tac fighters and they were simply saturating the Federation lines. TIE Bombers were making standoff attacks, attempts by Federation starships to intercept incoming proton torpedoes with explosive bursts from the quantum torpedoes were meeting with some success, however they were running into a serious problem, their torpedo bays were rapidly running out of warheads. Some starships had fired off their total load out and were relying solely on phasers. Even at the height of the Dominion war Ross had not recalled an entire fleet running out of torpedoes.

The turbolaser bursts were becoming more accurate and deadly. The Stardestroyers had been relentlessly creeping in on the Federation fleet until it became nearly impossible for Ross to order another retreat. The transports would be running right into the Imperial fleet.

The first bit of good news in a long time was announced by his communications officer.

“Admiral Ross, we have confirmation that the transports are away. They will rendezvous with us in two minutes.”

“Good, inform the fleet to form up in an attack wedge, we’re going to punch our way through the Imperial left wing and warp out of here.”

“Sir, the Imperial left wing just got reinforcements, four star destroyers have formed up in the center and fighters are beginning to fall back to standby positions at the extreme left of the wing.”

“They know.” Ross muttered, feeling the first irresistible cold talons of defeat digging into his gut.

“The Enterprise is warning us that the Imperial right wing is beginning to collapse on us sir.”

“They mean to squeeze us. We have no choice but to run that gauntlet.” Ross concluded with a somber tone. “What’s the status on the transports?”

“The transports have formed up in the center sir.”

“How many?”

“Thirteen, sir.”

“Thirteen?!” Ross hissed in utter horror. The Federation had over a hundred transports ready for liftoff when this attack began.

“We lost the presidential transport as well sir.”

Ross lowered his head slightly. The president insisted on being on the last transport out. He took a breath and stood up, taking a place between the helm and navigation station, putting his hand on the backs of their seats he stared intently at the daunting Imperial wall of ships, particularly the four stardestroyers in the center.

“Sir, I’m receiving a transmission from the Enterprise.”

“Put her through.”

Jim Kirk stood in the center of his bridge, crew men were gathering equipment and checking over their stations as they began filing out of the bridge. Kirk stood with Princess Leia and the enormous furry Wookie.

“Kirk?! I thought captain Riker was hailing me.” Ross sputtered.

“Sorry about that Admiral. I have a plan that will get us through that gauntlet. Mr. Spock tells me that a hole I was hoping for has appeared in their left wing. I plan to exploit that hole.”

“How? I don’t know how closely you’ve been following this battle, but we have less than three hundred starships, and half of those are effectively combat inoperative.” Ross replied.

“I’ve had my share of the battle admiral, I happened to see the presidential transport go down and I met the warlord leading this expeditionary force, but leave that for my debriefing. Right now I have a plan and I’m not about to lay it out on an open channel. Just follow the Enterprise out and stay as close together as possible, the breach will only be open for a few seconds and we are going to have to risk going to warp in the center of their fleet.”

“Kirk, that’s insane. Their heavy turbolaser bursts are making it impossible to form a stable warp field.”

“I realize that, sir. But I’m counting on the fact that the Imperials have been very careful to not go bursting off these babies in the center of their own ships, so please, either fight your way through that wing and lose it all or follow me and take a chance at getting away with minimal casualties.”

“Admiral, I cannot stress any further that those stardestroyers will be able to repel an assault by three hundred starships and all they have to do is hold you here awhile longer before their turbolaser bursts simply do their work for them. Your fleet has been defeated, we have to look to escape now.” Leia pressed.

Ross stared at Kirk who returned his gaze with cool calm, despite the black smears of smoke and dirt streaking his forehead, Kirk looked in control. Damn him. He was beginning to see why the brass of his time had looked on him with a mix of trepidation and awe. Could he trust this relic from the past with the fate of his fleet?

“Time is running out Admiral. We need to commit now.” Kirk said quietly.

This man had saved the Federation more times than Ross could count.

“Captain, it seems that the Federation is going to need your help one more time.”

“It is my honor to serve, Admiral.” Kirk nodded and the view screen winked back to the battle.

“Prepare to follow the Enterprise, order all ships to close in as tightly as possible and to go to warp as soon as we breach the wing.”

“Aye sir.”

Ross did not sit down, instead he leaned in closer on the backs of his helmsman and navigator’s seats. Their fate was now in the hands of a man that did not belong in this time. Could their situation become any more dire?




“Captain Riker.”

“Captain Kirk?”

“I’m going to need to ask a favor of you. I need you to beam my crew to your ship.”

“Sir?” Riker asked slightly confused.

“They’re no longer needed on this ship. I will need you to keep a transporter lock and myself, Mr. Spock and Mr. Scott.”

“Understood.” Riker replied, lying since he had no clue what Kirk was planning.

“Commence beaming now, we’re not going to have much time.”

“Energizing captain.”

Riker watched as the Enterprise slowly began to pull away from the fleet. He remembered building a model of that ship when he was a young child, admiring the smooth lines, the rounded nacelles, she looked as if she truly belonged among the stars. Now, like a ghost from the past, she was taking the lead of the battered Federation fleet and leading them on a desperate endeavor to flee. He silently urged the small ship onward.




“All crewmen are away, sir.” Spock reported.

“Are you sure about this Kirk?” Leia asked.

Kirk looked around the bridge, slowly taking it all in for the last time. He would never hear the familiar sounds again, never feel the deck plates creaking in time with the warp core.

“You know, I could tell you precisely at what warp factor we were traveling just by the feel of the deck plates.” Kirk replied absently as he ran his hand along the helm. On the view screen ahead, the Imperial fleet loomed and green turbolaser fire began to hammer around them.

“Jim.” She replied softly and put a hand on his shoulder. Chewbacca’s eyes narrowed on the motion but remained silent.

Kirk smiled softly and looked back at Leia.

“It’s alright. I’m a Starfleet officer and my first duty is to the Federation and her citizens.” He answered and looked into her eyes. “That’s the first time you called me Jim.” He added and avoided her suddenly uncomfortable expression as he turned to Scotty.

“Mr. Scott?”

Scotty frowned sadly as he flipped open a panel at his engineering post. He sighed and flicked a series of switches.

“Captain, the tricobalt charges have been armed. The warp core is running at 115%, running in the red.” Scotty answered sorrowfully.

“Arm all torpedoes.”

“Aye captain.” Scotty replied and worked on the weapons panel for a moment. An alarm sounded deep in the ship.

“Torpedo containment system is critical.” Spock reported dispassionately. He was watching his sensor display very closely.

“That hole still there, Mr. Spock?”

“The stardestroyer is in position. I have estimated blast radius, we should clear a hole in their lines that will allow the fleet to pass through.”

“How are you going to get past the stardestroyer?” Threepio asked curiously.

“We’re going to hit them with the most powerful projectile weapon currently in the Starfleet arsenal.” Kirk replied wanly.

“Sir?”

“Scotty, set for position alpha, prepare for emergency warp speed.”

“Aye sair.” Scotty replied and there was the slightest hesitation as he flicked several more controls, the usual thrum of the warp core became a low moan and the deck plates began to vibrate. Scotty patted his control station.

“There lass, ye’ll be getting the send off few starships ever get. Just give us another moment of luck and you’ll strike a blow worthy of your name.” He stated solemnly.

Kirk looked over at Scotty who returned the gaze. If anyone could understand Scotty’s feeling for the ship, it was James Kirk.

“Tricobalt devices now linked to the warp system, the moment we go to warp, and the devices begin detonation.” Scotty reported.

“Spock?”

“Time lapse is well within parameters. I have programmed the warheads to detonate precisely on impact.”

“Yield?”

“Sufficient to penetrate the Imperial shields and do the damage we require.”

“Let’s hope you’re right Mr. Spock.” Leia replied.

“Excuse me, but it definitely sounds as if we’re planning something more than launching some warheads at the Imperial fleet.” Threepio protested.

“We are, Threepio. We are launching the most powerful projectile weapon in the Federation arsenal.”

“So why are we talking about impacts, and where is your crew?”

Kirk smiled.

“Kirk to Riker.”

The Enterprise began to shudder violently and some lights on the bridge dimmed. “

“Heavy enemy fire concentrating on us, sir. We won’t be able to take much more of this.”

“Warp core at critical sir, we’ll be past the point of no return in five seconds.”

“There’s no turning back now, Scotty.”

“Riker here.”

“Captain, beam Princess Leia and her entourage out now. Keep a lock on us and beam us out precisely before the Enterprise goes to warp.”

“Understood.”

“Wait!” Leia protested and disappeared in a column of light.

“Okay, gentlemen, let’s guide her in on the last leg.” Kirk stated and sat in his command chair one last time.

“Warp drive now online. Emergency warp speed at your command.” Scotty reported.

Kirk glanced back at Spock who took one last look into his sensor hood and turned back to Kirk, nodded grimly.

Kirk hit a button on his command chair. The Enterprise lurched to the left, suddenly pivoting in space to face its true target.

“Now Mr. Scott.”

Scotty without hesitation hit the warp drive controls and simultaneously faded from the bridge. Kirk took one last look around.

“No beach to walk on.” He whispered and he disappeared in a column of light.





The Enterprise lanced forward, driven at speeds exceeding light by many hundreds of times. It screamed straight at the Stardestroyer Relentless. Traveling at nearly Warp 8, it crossed the distance in nano seconds. The Enterprise struck the bridge tower with a thunderous explosion, the tricobalt devices stolen from the Starfleet arsenal by the Sagan detonated simultaneously on impact as well as the Enterprise’s entire photon torpedo payload. The explosion tore through the Imperial stardestroyer’s shields and vaporized portions of the bridge tower in moments, debris tore through the upper portions of the tower and ripped through the bridge itself.

The already damaged stardestroyer, limping from the damage received to its engines by Luna’s special missiles lost all control and quickly drove downward into a supporting carrack, the smaller ship did not stand a chance to avoid the floundering juggernaut, shields damaged by the battle, and the Enterprise’s blast failed as the bow of the Reckless tore the tiny ship in half. The Relentless continued its dive through the Imperial left wing, clipping another stardestroyer and causing the wing to collapse as ships dove out of the way, fighters found themselves desperately trying to avoid the panicking capital ships, some unfortunate enough to get caught by the Relentless in its inexorable fall from the lines as controls failed and the already stricken engines simply began misfiring.

The Federation fleet did not hesitate and surged forward as one, impulse engines pushed to the limit, the fleet tore through the gaping hole opened in the line. The Imperial fleet’s fire slackened just as Kirk suspected it would when they penetrated deep into the Left wing. Several Imperial warships within the wing began firing at the retreating Federation fleet but the surviving Galaxy wings poured withering barrages of fire into those ships and Tac fighters swarmed around the fleet, intercepting as many Ties as they could.

“Engage warp drive now.” Ross ordered as the fleet began to emerge from the other side of the wing. The Imperial fire was increasing now and the rest of the fleet was blasting their turbolasers in full flak mode on the other side of the left wings in the hopes of catching the Federation fleet as it emerged on the other side. Ross marveled at Kirk’s military mind. He had predicted all the Imperial actions so far in this desperate plan and he realized as the fleet went to warp just as they emerged from the left wing that if the Federation intended to win this conflict, James T. Kirk was going to have to play a significant role in that drive to victory, polluted timeline or not.

The Federation fleet flashed out of the left wing into warp.

Earth was left behind, stripped of the last of her defenders, a floating graveyard of starships attended to by the mighty Imperial armada.





Kirk appeared on the bridge beside Riker.

“Captain I have to thank y-“

“No time, Captain Riker, I need a channel to Admiral Ross.” Kirk interrupted.

“Uh, Ok.” Riker replied nodding to Data.

“Captain Kirk.” Ross appeared on screen looking haggard but happy as his fleet managed to escape a trap they were obviously meant not to.

“Divert this fleet to Proxima Centauri immediately, we need to rescue the fleet elements engaged with the Romulans.”

“What? Kirk we’re barely escaped with our own lives and we have hundreds of starships that are on the verge of warp core breaches.” Ross protested. Riker eyed Kirk with a growing sense of respect. They had just come out of one battle and yet he was ready to go into another one.

“Admiral, I know my Romulans. They like to strike from a position of strength. If this fleet appears in their rear they will retreat and reorganize, giving us the time we need to pull the Proxima defensive fleet out of there.”

“Kirk this is not as easy as it sounds.”

“Admiral, we’re going to need every single starship from now on. If I understand the numbers I’ve scanned off Riker’s tactical display correctly we just lost over 600 starships in an engagement in which we lost Earth, the president, a good portion of our civilian experts and politicians and the Empire did not lose a single stardestroyer. You’re seriously telling me that you’re going to leave those men to die when we’re less than an hour away?” Kirk pressed. The bridge crew of the Enterprise stared at Kirk. Riker was amazed. He did not even think he had ever seen Picard talk to an admiral that way.

“That’s bordering on insubordination, Captain. I’m thinking of the bigger issues here.”

“Admiral with all due respect this is the biggest issue of all. Every starship we have is one that we can fight with. We let those fleet elements get crushed by the damned Romulans we are slowly sealing our own fate. We’ll need those ships and every other ship Starfleet has for the counterattack.”

“Counterattack?! Are you serious Kirk? We’re in no position to counterattack.”

“The Empire is going to think so sir and that is precisely why we’re going to do it. I’m already drawing up plans with Mr. Spock for the mission.”

“Kirk, in case you haven’t noticed I’m in charge of the fleet here.” Ross spat.

Some of the bridge officers shifted uncomfortably. Some bridge crewmen behind Ross on his own ship exchanged uneasy glances. They all were sharing the same unspoken thought. Ross may have been in command but it was Kirk that had gotten them out of that hell.

“For God’s sake man, save those people. They are our fellow officers and crewmen. We need them.” Kirk replied hotly.

Ross stared at Kirk, a bevy of emotions played across his features.

“Helm, set course for Proxima, maximum warp.” He ordered turning away from Kirk and the screen winked out.

“Thank you sir.” an ensign told Kirk with a sharp salute.

Riker glanced around and noticed that all eyes were on Kirk and he seemed to grow in stature before his eyes.






Four columns of light appeared in the alcove off the main walkway of one of the core matrix’s service areas. Captain Archer, Seven of Nine and two security officers appeared. Archer quickly glanced around. Seven had guided them true. No Borg in the immediate vicinity, the security officers quickly checked their phaser rifles and nodded to Archer.

Archer glanced over at Seven. She sported no weapon save for a tricorder. She claimed that this deep in Unimatrix 001, weapons would be of no use. The Borg would kill them in mere moments so she saw no logical reason to carry weapons. Archer was not so sure of that statement. He felt comfortable holding his own phaser rifle.

“There is a data node 25 meters to the south. Be cautious, there are Borg drones in the area.”

“Do they know we’re here?” Archer asked softly as they began to slowly emerge from the alcove and follow her down one of the walkways.

“There is no doubt that they detected our transporter beam.” Seven answered calmly as she glanced around them. Enormous green conduits flowed all around them; some had dancing wisps of St. Elmo’s fire that raced down towards the center of the control matrix.

“Sir.” one of the security officers warned. Several Borg drones were marching towards them.

“Steady.” Archer ordered holding his rifle at the ready.

The drones did not even glance at them. They strode past and continued on down the walkway and out of view.

“We are not seen as a threat, I suggest we not make ourselves one.” Seven replied coolly and continued down the walkway, following it through a large overhang that led up to one of the processing matrixes. Thousands of drones were lined up in exact intervals along the matrix, all plugged in by cybernetic implants in the arms. They stared blankly at a small monitor that hung at eye level, random geometric patterns were displayed, occasionally broken up by a burst of encrypted text.

“Theses drones are acting as routers on all incoming data transmissions. Data seen as crucial or curious are passed on to the central matrix itself where the core processors analyze the data.” Seven explained as they passed them by and stopped at another alcove. A small pyramid shaped object stood in the center of the alcove. It glowed dull green and hummed lowly.

“The information node?” Archer asked.

“Correct. It will take me a few minutes to set up a transfer with my tricorder; I will endeavor to make sure that the Borg do not detect the data transfer.”

“How?” Archer asked.

“By making the node believe that I am a drone.” she replied and casually placed an implant over her left eye and another on her right hand. She hooked herself up to the node without hesitation and linked the tricorder to the implant over her eye. Archer opened his mouth to say something but Seven was already starting to work the node, moving her hands along its glass smooth surface, it responded with varying pulses of green light, each pulse carried with it enormous streams of data.

“Is this wise?” he asked her kneeling beside her.

Seven did not look at him, her eyes were intent on the node, her free hand running over the tricorder controls. He noticed the streams of images and shapes flashing by the tricorder screen at dizzying speed.

“Your concern is…appreciated.” She replied in that matter of fact tone he had grown accustomed to.

“Hmmmm.” He smirked. He leaned in slightly closer. “Did anyone ever tell you you’re gorgeous when you interface with a Borg data node?” He asked soto voce. Seven paused for a mere second and there was a shadow of a smile on her lips.

“Captain, you are distracting me from a crucial assignment, please stand at your post.” She replied haughtily.

“As you wish.” He answered with a wink and stood up.

“Sir.”

Archer hesitantly walked over to the security guards. He was reluctant to leave Seven plugged into that thing, but she obviously knew what she was doing.

“What is it Lieutenant?”

“Look over there.”

Archer followed his finger and saw images floating overhead, images of those same massive triangular shaped warships he had seen earlier. They were involved in a battle but certainly not the one they had just escaped from.

“I think they’re fighting Starfleet vessels.” The lieutenant commented warily.

Suddenly, as if on cue an Excelsior class ship flashed by on the screen.

“What the hell?” Archer breathed.

“The Borg have dedicated over 75% of their computing power to solve the mystery of this foe. The last time such resources were dedicated to a single species was when species 8427 began offensive actions against the Collective.” A calm female voice intruded on their thoughts. Archer whirled around, rifle poised to fire. The guards followed suit.

“But I see that you are as in the dark as we concerning those Imperial vessels, we have tentatively classified them as species 9977, however they are undoubtedly human, so there is considerable debate within the Collective as to the true designation for these new comers.”

“I know that voice.” Seven interjected trepidation in her voice. She slowly turned around and saw her standing in the alcove between her and Archer.

“Seven, it’s good to see you putting the skills you learned as a drone to such a productive use.” The Borg queen stated coolly.






Tarsi watched the shattered remnants of the Klingon defense fleet around Quo’nos. Hundreds of ships were shattered in his wake. The Klingon home world lay sprawled before him, an ugly blackish red world that was begging to be destroyed just for defying Tarsi’s sense of aesthetic.

“The space around Quo’nos is secured, Captain. However, our sensors are detecting an incoming Klingon fleet, probably about 500 to 600 ships strong.”

“How long?”

“Four hours.”

Tarsi nodded.

“Sir, orders from Lord Nemesis have just come through.” A com officer reported handing Tarsi the data pad. He glanced down at it and did a double take.

“Have these orders been confirmed?” Tarsi asked seriously.

“Yes, sir. Lord Nemesis’ personal code attached as well as a voice print.” The com officer replied, glancing at the XO nervously. Tarsi’s XO peered over Tarsi’s shoulder at the order. Tarsi nodded.

“Commence operations, immediately.” Tarsi snapped and handed his XO the datapad. His XO stared down at the pad. There were only three words.

BASE DELTA ZERO




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:13pm
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Chapter 20: Desolation


The stardestroyer Adjudicator took up a close orbit around Quo’nos, wings of TIE Interceptors roared through the star filled void in roving packs. Probe droids were returning from the surface of the planet carrying vital sensor information. The Executioner took up station on the opposite side of the planet, its own TIE fighters were forming up into hunting packs. Further out, beyond the low orbit of the stardestroyers was an emerald armada of Romulan warbirds, over two hundred strong.

The wreckage of the Klingon defense force’s fleet ringed the planet like a crown. The orbital defense batteries were slowly falling back into the atmosphere, blasted into hundreds of pieces by turbolaser batteries. Surface fires raged on the surface, particularly on the outskirts of some of the larger cities where planetary defensive guns and torpedo launchers had been vaporized by a rain of plasma torpedoes from the supporting provincial forces of warbirds.

Tarsi watched the subtle dance unfolding before his eyes. As a captain of the Empire’s finest warships, he was expected to carry out certain orders that solely his class of ship could accomplish. One of those missions was currently underway and it was one of the most devastating attacks an Imperial warship could make. A Base Delta Zero operation meant quite simply the utter destruction of a world. The entire civilization, the entire surface of the planet was to be wiped clean leaving nothing but the molten mantle beneath as a beacon to all other worlds of what the empire was capable of.

The empire was loathe to commit such operations on core worlds or strategically vital planets, it was usually reserved for Rim worlds and planets that had nothing of vital importance to the Empire. Obviously, Lord Darth Nemesis had decided that the Klingon homeworld was such a world, devoid of any importance but able to play a crucial role as an example to all. A new wrinkle was also added to the plan, Nemesis wanted the entire operation holotaped and played to the populace of the Romulan provinces. He promised them revenge for Remus and he was going to give it to them.

Tarsi nodded to his XO when he handed him a report. Tarsi glanced down at the datapad. An extremely detailed analysis of Quon’nos’s surface and geographical features had just been collated from the Adjudicator’s own sensor sweeps plus the more thorough and detailed analysis of the probe droids sent down to the planet. Major fault lines were clearly identified as were any volcanic areas or other areas of tectonic instability. It also identified and gave precise coordinates to underground facilities and bunkers. There was no escaping the Empire’s complete analysis of the planet.

Rebels especially liked to paint the utter barbaric nature of a BDZ, but it was anything but the simple slagging of a planet. This was a very organized and procedural operation involved in destroying a world and making it utterly useless to anyone. Planets were incredibly resilient things and it took an incredible amount of energy and force to render it lifeless.

“Are we certain that this is the deepest structure on their planet?” Tarsi asked pointing to a schematic of a mine shaft that drove several kilometers into the planet.

“Yes, sir. We have rechecked the sensor probes, they have very little in the way of subterranean military structures, there are many bunkers but most of them are on the surface. They obviously rely on their fleets and energy shields to protect them.” his XO replied.

“Have we been able to determine whether their cloaking devices work in an atmosphere? It would be quite an embarrassment if we fry this world only to discover later that several structures were buried deeply under cloak.” Tarsi stated gravely. He was well aware of the consequences to his command should a Base Delta Zero operation fail. One only failed a Sith Lord once.

“The Romulans have informed us that cloaking devices do indeed function in an atmosphere but they would be able to determine whether one was active. It seems that their cloaking fields are optimized for space combat and travel, not for atmospheric use.”

Tarsi nodded.

“Double check their probes, I trust our provincial allies as far as I can throw them.”

“I would like to point out sir that they have been completely reliable in combat. The Romulans have taken extremely heavy casualties since the offensive began.”

“Of course they have, the Klingons are better warriors, have better ships, that means nothing. They are also fighting to avenge their fallen world, not for the greater glory of the Empire. Never forget we are the intruders here, not them.” Tarsi quietly pointed out. His XO remained silent. They looked out the view port together.

Minutes passed as ships formed up and final analysis were made.

“Commence Base Delta Zero operations.” Tarsi ordered quietly. His XO nodded and smartly strode over to the weapons station.

“Commence operations immediately.”

“Aye sir.”

There was silence and stillness, as if the universe itself were collectively holding its breath. Then the Adjudicator unleashed a barrage of emerald turbolaser fire into the surface of Quo’nos. Fire rippled on the surface a second later as the bolts impacted with devastating effectiveness along the world’s most unstable and largest fault line. The Romulans began a systematic plasma torpedo bombardment of the major cities and population centers. TIE Interceptors quickly snapped around in tight formation as the first desperate transports began lifting off, fleeing the awesome bombardment that in its first barrage killed 37 Million Klingons instantly.

The Interceptors dove on them like hungry wolves, green blasts tearing away the shields and destroying the transports’ engines, sending them plunging back down to the dying planet, soon it looked like a dance of fireflies as hundreds of transports from small one and two man shuttles to large passenger liners were sent plummeting back into the atmosphere, trailing fire as they burned through the air.

“Jamming complete, all communications have been effectively cut off even emergency subspace boosters.” the communications officer reported as the heavy turbolasers fired for the first time in sequenced blasts that tore up the crust around the most volcanic region on the planet, exposing most of that area to toxic clouds of gas and red hot magma.

“Have provincial forces continue urban bombardment, begin deploying TIE Bomber squadrons for attack runs.”

“Aye sir.”

Tarsi watched another broadside lance down towards the now shattered world, the crust in most of the northern hemisphere of the planet was slowly blasted away revealing angry red lakes of magma and fire. He noted with pride the precision of the turbolaser strikes, each one walked up the planet’s geological stress points, pummeling them with gigatons of raw destructive power until they either broke or released the energy in shockwaves commonly known as earthquakes. It was the most efficient way to have the planet help them in their mission, by letting its own instabilities help them in stripping the world of its rocky crust.

It was impressive and chilling at the same time as an entire continent literally fell apart before his eyes, sinking with explosive force into the fiery mantle below, the rock splintering like so much rotten wood by the stress caused by the planet itself.

TIE Bomber squadrons formed up at the bow of the Adjudicator and began slow and deliberate diving attacks on the southern hemisphere, using special burrowing bombs that delivered their payload into the weak points of the planet’s crust in the south, preparing the way for the Adjudicator’s own turbolaser strikes. Completely unnecessary, of course, the Adjudicator could complete the job on its own, without the Bomber support but it sped up the process, gave his Bomber pilots valuable experience and most importantly of all it sent a statement. Nothing would be spared in striking back at the criminals that had destroyed Remus. He eyed out of the periphery of his vision the holocams steadily recording the entire operation in preparation for transmitting it to the Romulan empire.

“We have a dozen Birds of prey decloaking near the terminator trying to beam survivors aboard.” his XO warned.

“Who’s closest?”

“The Executioner.”

“Have her…no” Tarsi corrected himself. “Deploy a wing of warbirds and concentrate the holocams on the attack, I want the Romulans to see their fleet in splendid action.” Tarsi ordered cagily.

“Of course sir.” his XO replied with a soft smile.

Tarsi was not one to overlook the value of propaganda.

“We have complete and total destruction of the northern hemisphere, 47% of the total surface area destroyed or about to be destroyed, tectonic activity increasing significantly now.” his XO reported. Tarsi checked the chronometer.

22 minutes.

Excellent, well ahead of schedule.

“Standby for full weapons burst on Southern hemisphere.”

“Status of any escaping ships?”

His XO glanced down at a constantly scrolling tactical readout.

“Significant drop in activity. Picking up numerous distress calls.” He glanced up at Tarsi. “Not one call for mercy, sir.”

“They have fire and iron in their blood. These Klingons would prove to be fine additions to the Empire, unfortunately, I do not think that they will submit. A shame though.” Tarsi commented with a soft sigh as a full barrage lanced down to the planet again. He could see a distinct line between the northern and southern hemispheres now, the crust of the northern hemisphere was all but peeled away revealing the roiling sea of molten rock beneath.

An explosion of sparks and electricity blossomed off their far port bow. A string of transports appeared for a moment, outlined in tendrils of pale white energy. Tarsi sneered.

“The tachyon field we erected seems to be catching the cloaked fools rather easily. It seems our Romulan allies may not be so useless after all.” He commented dryly. His face suddenly darkened. “Blow them all into the void.”

“Aye sir.”

The Adjudicator picked off the transports that were still visible with turbolaser fire, switching to flak mode as soon as they knocked down the last visible transport. They could see dozens of explosions, large and small quickly follow the flak burst, a testament to their accuracy and the determination of the Klingons to escape.

“Operations on southern hemisphere underway, sir.”

Tarsi nodded as he watched the surface boil away under the merciless barrages of heavy fire. Entire mountain ranges were shattering like glass under the explosive force of the heavy turbolaser blasts. The oceans were in the process of boiling away, replaced by the relentless march of magma from the dying world.

“Casualties estimated at 3 billion, another 300 million have just died on what remains of the coast. The oceans are producing massive steam clouds that are boiling them alive where they stand.” His XO reported casually.

“Executioner’s status?”

“She is on schedule on her side of the planet. Estimate 12 more minutes before primary operations are complete. The Klingons are no longer transmitting anything, global power grid has been destroyed, massive damage caused by core breeches from their matter/antimatter has destroyed several urban centers. Ambient temperature has increased more than 150 degrees in the last 10 minutes. Atmospheric dust and debris are making the air poisonous.”

“If you don’t mind, stick to the status of the operation and spare me the gory details.” Tarsi said curtly. His XO nodded.

The rest of the operation continued apace, the Klingon transports and escape attempts simply ceased as Quo’nos was covered in thick black dust and smoke. He could no longer see the last of the southern hemisphere disappear into the hungry molten mantle of the planet.

It was over.

“Base Delta Zero primary operations are complete. Beginning reconnaissance and launching probe droids to detect success of operations.” His XO reported. Tarsi nodded.

He stared out the view port at the now lifeless world. A black cloud draped across it like a curtain, occasionally the angry red glare of molten rock peaked through the cloud cover. A world that had once provided life to over 7 billion Klingons was now reduced to a smoke choked world of ash and fire. There was no honor in this, no glory. Tarsi was feeling a dark anger gnawing in his heart. He was a warrior and he had come to this galaxy ready to conquer all in the name of the emperor.

Instead, he was laying waste to worlds, and acting as military governor to a world of scientists.

“This is the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my entire life.” A voice spoke for the first time on the bridge since the beginning of the BDZ operation. Tarsi turned his head slightly to gaze on Xon, the Vulcan that had been brought aboard as his liaison with the Vulcan government. He thought it a valuable object lesson to those under Imperial rule to see what they had avoided by surrendering and what they faced should rebellion ever come to their minds.

“This troubles you, Xon?” Tarsi asked coldly.

“It is a waste of material and lives. Logic dictates that it would have been far easier to bomb them into submission than commit genocide.”

Tarsi shook his head.

“When we entered this system, they reduced themselves to crashing their warships against is us in the vain hope that they would harm us in the act of self destruction. They are a warrior people, even at the height of the BDZ operation they did not send a single message pleading for mercy. Do you really think that bombardment would have changed anything?”

Xon did not reply immediately.

“I’ll tell you this one sad but very logical fact, Xon. These Klingons are brave warriors, great fighters and tenacious, and it is these same qualities which have doomed them.

Xon raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

Tarsi glanced back at the shattered world.

“This is merely the beginning. We will not waste time and troops on pacifying a race that will not be pacified. They’re stubborn courage and unyielding resolve has spelled the doom of their people.”

“You would entertain xenocide so casually?” Xon asked stonily.

Tarsi nodded.

“Xenocide, Xon? You have merely seen the beginning of what will happen to those who oppose us.” Tarsi answered.






“They have conquered Earth, shattered the back of the Federation and sent Starfleet into full retreat. Just what in the hell are you waiting for?” Jean Luc Picard thundered.

The rest of the assembled captains turned to look at Durant who was calmly sitting at the head of the conference room table on board his flagship the Bunker Hill. The conference room was enormous, easily housing the hundred or so captains sitting around the table comfortably.

“Calm yourself Captain.” Durant replied coolly.

“No I will not. I have been stolen from my previous life and forced to work amongst this shadow fleet only to see my precious Federation, the Federation that you claim we were built to defend and protect, fall apart to this savage invader.”

“Picard, how exactly do you propose we face off against this threat? A single one of their stardestroyers is rated as a Ragnarok level threat.” One captain at the other end of the table interjected.

“Picard, please sit down. This is not the Federation high council where debate and a sharp tongue will win the day. Passionate speeches will not dissuade me from one undeniable conclusion.”

“And what is that?” Picard asked sharply but slowly sitting back down.

“That we cannot directly oppose the Empire.”

Picard began to open his mouth.

“Yet.”

Picard closed his mouth and instead sat back and regarded the young man with a mixture of suspicion and exasperation. He had watched in horror as Imperial forces leading a vanguard of Romulan ships began a general invasion of the Federation. It quickly became obvious that the main target was Earth. The Empire drove straight to Earth, making it a point of blasting any Federation fleet that opposed them. Their drive had been brutal and swift. None could oppose them and the battle for Earth itself had been a route. Hundreds of starships had been destroyed, thousands of civilian and military personnel trying to escape killed or captured, including the Federation president.

It was a dark time for the Federation and this shadow fleet that Durant was so damned proud of had done nothing after their daring raid on the Romulan homeworlds. They retreated back to their secret base and watched as the Empire ran rampant through the quadrant. The Klingons were facing near certain extinction, thanks in most part to Durant’s tactic of using captured ships as a decoy to lay blame on the feet of other powers.

Picard felt impotent and guilty at the same time. He had not felt clean since Baku and this seemed to be another trial he had to face, a term in some twisted purgatory and he did not know if he would ever climb out of this place.

“What is the current political situation?” Durant asked one of his aides. The aide stood up and a holographic representation of Federation space flashed up on the screen.

“Unfortunately, the fall of Earth has triggered a near panic among Federation member worlds, particularly the new ones, there is a stampede to declare themselves neutral in the conflict, a handful of worlds have even gone so far as to offer their worlds to the Empire in exchange for protection.”

“I assume we have marked those worlds for later reference.” Durant interjected icily.

“Of course sir. Special operatives have already been dispatched with orders to destabilize those worlds as much as possible.”

“Wait a moment. Why are you marking those worlds?” Picard asked suspiciously.

Durant looked down the long table at Picard. He had admired this man when in the academy but it was difficult not to want to shake some sense into him. Those high Federation ideals he was clinging to were obviously not going to get them out of this situation. He fervently hoped that Picard would eventually come to his senses. Many of the command ranks were questioning his worth at the moment. Some had even slyly suggested that perhaps he should meet some form of “accident”. Durant had vehemently opposed such actions and forcefully reminded them of their own adjustment to this new life and way of thinking. Picard was the paragon of Federation thought and philosophy so of course his adjustment period would be more difficult.

Durant did not want to admit even to himself that he viewed Picard as a hero. Even now, he admired him for standing against them and their collective decisions.

That did not mean that he was not annoyed at Picard.

“Those worlds are traitors to the Federation, Picard. Would you deny that?” Durant asked pointedly.

“They are reacting from terror, Durant. Can’t you see that? Some of those worlds have only joined six months ago, in the wake of the Dominion war’s end. They joined for peace and stability, I should know, I brokered many of those treaties during the Dominion War.” Picard replied.

“I can see that they are unwilling to make stand when one is called for, I can see that they have betrayed the Federation in both action and deed and as such they have been marked for these actions to be dealt with by us at a later date.”

“You can’t possibly mean to make military strikes against them.” Picard breathed.

“Picard, they themselves have declared that they are on the side of darkness. They want to be Imperial worlds, well, they’ll be treated like Imperial worlds. They are now valid targets for attack.”

“You would rather attack former member worlds of the Federation that are acting out of a sense of self preservation than the true threat? That Imperial fleet is the cause of this chaos. We need to be focusing on destroying them, not bombing some world that had no choice but to join or face their own last stand.” Picard exclaimed.

“Picard, you really are a frustrating man!” Durant snapped in a rare loss of control.

“I am making my own stand, Durant. This fleet is needed now more than ever and we sit here in conferences debating when we should be out attacking.”

“Picard, a wise commander looks for weakness before striking. The reason why Starfleet had its ass handed to them in the Battle for Earth is because they did not know their enemy. But I am not going to make the same mistake. Believe me, when the time comes we will strike, but until then, we will bide our time. Or would you prefer we be destroyed in some futile gesture of defiance?” Durant replied hotly.

Picard stared at the young man, feeling the heat rising on his face. Durant was right on some level. Picard wanted to act out of an urge to strike back and avenge the losses he had seen so far. But that would not win them any victories. The sad fact was that they were woefully outmatched and Durant was painfully correct. They had to wait for a moment of weakness.

He sat back in frustration.

“Which brings me to the next point. Picard, I have a mission for you.”

Picard glanced up slowly.

Durant smiled.

“You’re going to love this, it plays right to your strengths.”

“This I have to hear.” Picard replied cautiously.





The Federation fleet had come out of warp on the far side of the Arcadia system. Hundreds of light years from Earth. It was a testament to Starfleet’s caution that they had waited until now to finally drop out of warp where they were relatively safe and enter normal space. They were not taking any chances with the Empire’s obvious FTL advantage. It was a further sign of their caution that they had waited this long because so many of the fleet’s ships were so badly damaged, their warp cores in serious danger of breaching. It was a difficult fact that two starships had indeed been lost in out of control warp core breaches while in transit and a half dozen others had fallen behind as their warp drives simply failed to keep up with the rest of the fleet.

Hundreds of starships slowed as they slipped in the shadow of the largest gas giant of the system. Repair crews were moving throughout the ships in a flurry of activity. Shuttle craft, runabouts and a handful of Delta Flyers quickly moved in to dock with mother ships, many of the smaller ships had nearly burned out their warp drives to keep up with the fleet, functioning far beyond their designed standard endurance range. The exodus of starships had finally paused long enough to take a breath and rest.

Admiral Ross watched this sight unfurling on his screen and he shook his head slowly.

“Any sign of Imperial pursuit?”

“None sir, looks like we lost them.”

“More likely they simply lost interest in pursuit. They have what they wanted.” Ross muttered.

“Sir, the transports are signaling, the Federation High Council members as well as ambassadors are demanding the use of our facilities for an emergency meeting of the Federation High Council.” His communications officer reported.

Ross nodded.

“I suppose it is only proper. We have to continue the functioning of the government in order to let Federation citizens know that the Federation has not been destroyed. We’re wounded but not out.” He sighed. “Prepare to receive the High Council members and representatives.”

“Sir, Captain Kirk also wanted me to remind you that he wanted to address the fleet captains as soon as we were secure.” His Xo whispered to him beside his command chair. Ross frowned.

“Kirk.” He muttered. He rubbed his chin slowly and stared at the fleet on his view screen. “What the hell are we going to do about Kirk?”






Leia sat up suddenly. She caught her breath The terror and pain were still strong in her heart and she glanced around quickly, aware that she was not in familiar surroundings. She was sitting up in the middle of a cargo bay. Hundreds of people were lying around, most sleeping, some were being tended to by doctors and nurses and some were simply sitting up or leaning against crates reading or staring off into the distance. The lights in the cargo bay were dimmed and she could only clearly make out those that were closest to her.

She slipped back the standard survival blanket she was given and rubbed her legs as she examined her surroundings. Chewbacca was sitting back against a crate, watching her intently, bow caster draped across his massive legs. He grunted something quizzically.

“No, it’s Okay, Chewie, just a bad dream.”

Chewbacca nodded slowly. He could guess what it was that she had dreamt of, he had the same dreams from time to time.

“Take care of the princess.” the voice asked him intently.

Chewbacca shook off the memory.

Leia turned her head slightly and noted Artoo sitting right beside her, his small squat body was dark, save for a single red light on in his main optical port. He turned his domed head to regard her and he beeped something.

“Yes, Artoo, I’m fine it was just a dream.” she replied with a small yawn.

She could still here the heavy mechanical breathing in the background. The cold clutches of the Imperial troops as they roughly pulled him away.

She heard something to her left and she glanced down. Someone was wrapped in his own survival blanket and was slowly tossing and turning, a small moan escaping their lips. She peered down and simultaneously remembered what had happened to bring her here. In the confusion of the escape, the Reckless Hope had already jumped into hyperspace to escape the Imperial fleet, they would reach the rendezvous point in a matter of hours, it would take the Federation fleet days to get there.

Kirk had her beamed over to the Enterprise, not his Enterprise but another one, one that was obviously more advanced. She was still a little confused as to the state of Kirk and his ship. He was a man out of time, the thought still fascinated her. Such things were an impossibility back home, but these people had obviously found a way to tamper with the very fabric of space time.

During the escape the fleet had picked up many refugees from the shattered remnants of the fleet defending Earth. Escaping starships would try to beam as many survivors from dying starships as possible. It was only after they were underway that the fleet realized they were facing a crisis of space. Each starship had beamed over hundreds of survivors, well over the usual limit of passengers and crew. Some starships had over five times the number of people they could comfortably hold.

Cargo bays, empty storage lockers, anything that could cram a few people in was opened to the newcomers. There was also the inevitable medical issue. Every sickbay was filled to overflowing, with many more patients stacked out in the hallways leading to sickbay. The sea of humanity that was flooding the ships was a testament to the losses suffered in what many were calling the Battle for Sector 001.

Kirk was offered a quarters of his own by Captain Riker but Kirk adamantly refused and instead decided to bunk out in the Enterprise’s cavernous cargo bay with the rest of his crew. Leia quickly followed suit, she would not be able to get to her own ship for the next few days while they were in transit.

During that time, Kirk and Spock had been huddling together planning some sort of counter attack. It was obvious from watching the pair that they were accustomed with working with each other. Leis detected true camaraderie and even friendship between the two men, well one was a Vulcan. McCoy had disappeared at the start of the flight, spending all his time in sickbay tending to the wounded.

These were remarkable men, it was a sad fate to think that they were facing nearly certain defeat at the hands of the Empire…and Luke. She had seen his face, anger and hatred were etched across his features like acid. He desperately needed to escape from the shadows that were so obviously consuming him.

Kirk moaned again. This time it was a name.

“Edith.” His face twisted into a strange combination of pain and determination and suddenly his eyes snapped open.

“Edith!”

Leia quickly placed a cool hand on his forehead and gripped his shoulder.

“It’s alright, Jim. Calm down, you’re among friends.” she whispered, not wanting to disturb the others. There were many shell-shocked people in this bay and most had not slept in days. Those that were finally sleeping needed it desperately.

Kirk looked around for a moment, eyes wide with shock and pain. He slowly shook it off and slid into a sitting up position.

“Where are we?”

“We have just reached the rendezvous point. They’ll probably start getting people reassigned to ships with more space. I’m sure the Reckless Hope will be taking on some of your more seriously wounded, we can use some of our medical technology to help you.”

Kirk took a deep breath,

“I haven’t had that dream in months.” he muttered.

“Was Edith…your wife?” she asked hesitantly, not wanting to hurt him anymore than the dream had obviously done.

“No.” he answered slowly. “No, she was a woman I loved…and lost.” he answered.

“I’m sorry, Jim. I guess that gives us something in common.”

“Oh?”

“I’ve lost someone I loved too. I don’t know if I’ll ever get him back.” she replied surprised at her sudden honesty.

Kirk stared into her eyes for a long moment and she returned the gaze steadily.

“Captain.” Spock appeared by Kirk’s side.

“Mr. Spock.” Kirk replied, not taking his eyes off Leia.

“Admiral Ross has informed Captain Riker that permission for us to address the fleet captains has been denied.”

Kirk frowned bitterly.

“He also requests our presence at a meeting of the Federation High Council commencing on his ship in 2 hours.”

“What in the hell can they possibly discuss?! We need action now! Unless command is blind morale is pretty much at rock bottom, we need a victory if we are to keep on fighting!” Kirk snapped angrily.

Leia slipped a hand on his shoulder.

“Calm down, Jim. We’ll get through this. Perhaps if we put some pressure on your government we can get some results.” she added helpfully.

Artoo trundled over to Kirk and beeped a few encouraging tones. Kirk smiled absently and patted the droid on his domed head.

“Thanks, little buddy, I could use some encouraging right now because I’m starting to have a sinking feeling as to why the Federation High Council is having a meeting.” Kirk replied darkly.

Spock arched an eyebrow but Leia peered closely into Kirk’s eyes and she could tell precisely what he was thinking. If that was true, the war was over before it had begun, and she was stuck in a galaxy with no hope for return.

Kirk suddenly stood up as if he had been stung.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen, I want an emergency meeting with my command staff right now.” Kirk ordered.

Spock nodded and began weaving his way through the crowded hangar deck, gently tapping the shoulders of Kirk’s command staff.

He glanced over at Leia.

“This is not over, not by a long shot.” he vowed.

Somehow, she knew he was right. He would see things through. The question that hung over her heart was whether it would make any difference.







“Check the list again.” Tom Paris urged.

The crewman nodded slowly and glanced back down at his datapad.

“I’m sure everything is alright.” Wes Janson assured his new friend. They had flown in the cramped quarters of the Delta Flyer all the way from Earth. Four days of constant warp travel with no breaks. The rations had barely lasted as long, and Wes slept well enough, he was used to less than ideal conditions as a rebel fighter, but Tom had suffered gravely, mostly because he was worried about his wife.

“Everything better be alright. I told her to get on those transports. I don’t want to think that maybe she decided to remain behind with my son. It would be horrible to think of her behind enemy lines, especially when it looks like we’re not going to heading back to Earth anytime soon.” Tom replied darkly.

“Which reminds me, “ Wes began. “We have a lot of weird names for worlds back home, but this is your homeworld and you call it dirt?” Wes asked curiously.

“Earth.” Tom replied stressing the word.

“Yeah, I know, but doesn’t that essentially mean dirt?” Wes asked.

Tom rolled his eyes.

“The official name is Terra.”

Wes paused for a moment.

“Oh, OK.”

“Actually, Terra is a Latin word meaning Earth.” a Vulcan standing behind them in line interjected.

“Do you mind? We were having a private conversation, I didn’t realize that butting in was a logical thing to do.” Tom replied hastily.

Wes smiled.

“So you know that it means dirt, why?”

“Can we discuss this another time.” Tom replied in exasperation.

He turned to hurry the crewman up but froze as he caught the look in the young man’s eyes. He was holding a different datapad than before.

“Sir, I checked the crew manifests for the transports that came with us and she does not appear sir, but to be thorough I had the computer check all the transport manifests…”

Tom felt his blood turn to ice and his heart stop.

“Sir, I’m sorry, she was on the presidential transport when it went down. I’m afraid she is dead.”

Tom did not remember fainting or Wes catching him before he hit the deck.






Captain Ochoa did not stir from his place in the corner of his cell. He rarely slept on the metallic slab provided for him as a bed. He felt far more comfortable on the cold metallic floor, feeling the draft of the environmental systems slowly circulating air through the detention block. The alarms that he heard earlier had finally stopped and the rush of people through the halls had dwindled to nothing.

That had been hours ago.

Now he sat in the corner, legs drawn up to his chin, he stared at the door, or at least where he thought the door was and contemplated the darkness around him.


He heard someone approach the door, and his ears perked up as some words were exchanged and the door slowly slid open. Someone entered the cell. They were quiet for a moment, just the sound of breathing.

“Han?” Ochoa asked reluctantly.

“It’s me.” the young voice replied slowly.

Ochoa remained silent for a moment.

“I guess you kept your head down.” he added.

Han slowly moved to Ochoa’s left, where he knew the slab of a bed was opened out of the wall. He heard Han slowly take a seat on the edge of the slab. He heard the soft rustle of clothes and thought it sounded as if he were searching for something in his jacket or shirt.

“I did. The battle was short but intense, your people accounted well for themselves, particularly those defending Starfleet command.”

Ochoa waited impatiently. He had been on edge since the battle began.

“I managed to get a message to your wife.” Ochoa sighed softly. “She was no where near any of the drop zones so as far as she was concerned, an invasion was not underway.” he paused. “She also sent a reply message.”

Ochoa paused.

“A reply?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes. She responded quickly, as if she were expecting to hear from you. A remarkable woman, and your daughter as well. She knew full well that she was communicating with a soldier of the empire, but she did not care. She merely wanted to know about you.”

Ochoa slowly looked up in the general direction of his friend.

“Will you please read it to me?” he asked.

“No.”

Ochoa froze, mouth open in astonishment.

“No?” he whispered feeling a sharp pang of betrayal.

“Not until you tell me something.” Han asked hesitantly.

“What?” Ochoa asked suspiciously.

“Why do you still believe?”

“What?”

“You’re sitting in a holding cell, no chance of rescue, you will most likely die hear, you will never see your family again, you most likely will never SEE again, and your government has been exposed as a liar and a fraud. You have fought and suffered for a government that has lied to you and betrayed your citizens and members of your own family.” Han pressed.

“You sound awfully desperate.” Ochoa answered after a moment of silence that almost hummed in the small cell.

“Answer the question or I’ll erase this message.” Han replied bitterly.

Ochoa held up a warding hand.

“Fine, fine. You want to know why I sit here and still believe?”

“Yes.”

“Because there is nothing better out there. Because if I do not believe in the Federation then what do I have to believe in? I believe in the ideals we stand for, because I believe that men and all sentient beings have a right to freedom, equality and justice. I believe that we were born free and no government, entity or person has a right to strip that freedom from us, because I believe that our thoughts and beliefs should not be controlled by outside forces. Freedom, Han, is the right to believe what you want to believe and not be punished for it. To quote an old Earth text, it is the right to say 2+2=4. Were I to abandon those beliefs then I would have to embrace the way of the warrior, like the Klingons who believe that honor and death should be what controls life. Or I would have to embrace the idea of governmental control of all thoughts and actions as the Cardasians and Romulans believe. I would have to look to profit and greed to be my guides if the Ferengi are to be believed. Or I can look to the Dominion and see that I am nothing more than a child that needs to be guided by mysterious gods that know what to do with us, that will guide us from crib to grave because we don’t know any better.” He paused. “Or I can look to an autocratic government that flings young men and women into battle to conquer worlds that have no need or use for them all for the greater glory of an emperor who views his subjects as tools and means to an ends.”

Stony silence from the other end of the cell.

“Because, Han, no one is perfect. You are not the perfect soldier of the empire, for you question your own mandates and rules and you fraternize with the enemy.” There was an uncomfortable shift of weight on the metallic slab opposite him.

“I am not perfect because in my eagerness I attacked a foe that I thought I could defeat, and in my arrogance I allowed them to strip me of my beliefs and reduce me to a shadow of my formal self, but here in the darkness, alone with nothing but my thoughts I have found myself again and I found that because I am not perfect and no one else is, how can I expect my government to be perfect? The Federation is an ideal. It fails many times to live up to that ideal but the struggle, Han, is not in achieving that ideal, but in learning from the mistakes in getting there. How can I blame them for failing, Han.” Ochoa reached out and touched Han’s knee, squeezing it gently as his voice dropped. “Han, at least the Federation TRIES. Freedom is not an easy thing to live with or defend, it is an awful mistress that taunts and challenges us, but at least we try to reach those lofty heights. We have not taken the easy way out, we have not embraced our darker natures, we embrace the light we hold ourselves up to an ideal that we can never achieve PRECISELY because by trying to achieve it we better ourselves. In other words, my friend, even in failing we achieve some greatness in ourselves.”

Ochoa stopped and sat back, waiting for what response he would get, have expecting to hear the holotape erasing at the flick of a switch.

He heard nothing but their breathing for a long time, he could not measure the passage of time but the tension was palpable.

“I use to believe, Ochoa. But they lied to me.” he heard the whispered answer.

“Who lied to you?” Ochoa asked.

Han cleared his throat.

“You’ve been an honorable man, Ochoa. you said what you really felt instead of saying what you thought you wanted me to hear…for that, I will read you the message.”

Ochoa smiled softly.









“I do believe that I am threatening the King.” he announced to no one in particular, but his silver eyes flashed dangerously as he finished placing the piece in the center of the board.

Q smirked as he looked out over the board.

“As long as we have this piece, I don’t think your threats carry much weight.” Q replied wanly as he placed the Constitution class piece in a defensive position away from the piece represented by the Emperor’s Will.

“He is becoming irrelevant.”

“Really?!”

The silver eyed player stared at Q for a long moment. Q returned the gaze with a smile.

“He’s supposed to be dead!” he snarled slamming his fist on the board. It cracked at the impact sending some pieces flying and the stone stand on which the board was laid out shattered down the center.

“Many have claimed such before.”

“He should have died when he first met the Imperial forces, at the very least it should be him in the holding cell, blind and faith shattered, not some fool captain no one has ever heard of!” he boomed. “He should have died when he went into the wormhole searching for help but instead he escapes and brings an outside player into the mix.” he hissed as Q fingered a piece represented by a princess, resplendent in white gown. “He should have died in the Battle for Earth, but he escapes, in the face of Nemesis himself!!” he roared and the jet black sky above them cracked as lightning exploded overhead.

“Point in fact, my recently omnipotent friend, he should have died on Dimorus.” Q casually stated, not looking at him as he twirled another piece on his finger tip.

The silver eyed player paused in his tirade, mouth slightly open. Q noted with a measure of disdain that despite protestations of godhood, the silver eyed one’s chest still heaved from exertion and emotion, obviously a reflex action from his lowly origins.

“Dimorus?” he repeated the name with some trepidation. Slowly, realization dawned on his silver eyes.

“Dimorus.” he hissed the name as if he were trying to spit something venomous out of his mouth. His hand absently went to his back and a shadow of phantom pain flashed across his face.

“You know those rodent things on Dimorus, those spears they threw, I took one meant for you.” the silver eyed player whispered, as if he were speaking to someone else.

“Powerful venom in those spears…you were extremely lucky to have survived my remarkable friend.” Q stated wanly.

The silver eyed player stared as if he were looking somewhere far off.

“Weeks in a regen tank, days of constant toxic flushing of my blood…I didn’t care…he was safe.”

“He was your friend.” Q pressed softly.

The silver eyed player glanced down at the Constitution cruiser playing piece.

“Jim.” he whispered.

Q remained silent.

Suddenly the silver eyed player’s face flushed in anger and he picked up the piece and crushed it, tendrils of electricity running down his arms. He whirled on Q.

“Dimorus.” he said it like a death sentence.

Q felt the surge of raw power and it lanced by him like a hammer.

“What did you do?!” Q exclaimed without thinking. He simply followed the power strike to its final conclusion with a second’s thought.

“Dimorus’ presence will no longer offend me.” he stated icily and suddenly the board was back in place, the stone stand repaired and the sky was as dark as before.

Q felt it. The death of a planet. The rodent things as he called them, the Xalev as they called themselves died in an apocalyptic flash of energy. He shook his head.

“Have you no sense of decency? You slaughtered the inhabitants of a world that did you no wrong, that could never harm you. The poison you experienced would later be used by your scientists to cure Bergman’s Plague, but it was native to that world so millions will suffer needlessly. They sang songs as their primary way of language, one of those songs would later inspire a generation to look to the stars and join the brotherhood of space farers, no longer. Many years from now, one of them would go on to be the greatest artist this galaxy has seen in millennia, no longer so.” Q said evenly, a dangerous edge in his voice.

The silver eyed player stared at him and a slow smile crept across his face.

“Compassion and godhood are a fool’s mixture, Q. Morality is for humans, not gods.” he boomed.

“What you could never know is that as gods we walk a very fine line, morality is a pale attempt BY humanity to be as gods.”

The silver eyed player slowly looked down at the board.

“I think it will be check and mate in four more moves.” he declared.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:14pm
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Chapter 21: Interludes

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…..


The troops and pilots settled down as chimes sounded in the briefing room of the massive warship. An older woman, dressed in a clean white gown stood at the center of the briefing room and politely waited for everyone to settle down.

When she finally spoke it was with a calm and wise voice, a voice used to being heard on a senate floor debating weighty issues of galactic import.

“The Emperor has made a critical error and the time for our attack has come.”

The assembled troops began to mutter among themselves.

“The data brought to us by the Bothan spies pinpoints the exact location of the Emperor's new battle station. We also know that the weapon systems of this Death Star are not yet operational. With the Imperial Fleet spread throughout the galaxy in a vain effort to engage us, it is relatively unprotected. But most important of all, we've learned that the Emperor himself is personally overseeing the final stages of the construction of this Death Star.”

A volley of spirited chatter erupted from the crowd. Lando turned to Nien Numb and who shrugged at Lando’s expression of surprise.

“Many Bothans died to bring us this information.” she stated gravely, sorrow etched on her face, sorrow for the many millions of lives that had been lost in the terrible civil war that had torn the galaxy apart for so long now. “Admiral Ackbar, please.”

Admiral Ackbar stepped forward and pointed to a holographic display that had sprung up as the lights dimmed in the center of the briefing room. The hologram depicted the Death Star's force field and the Moon of Endor.

“You can see here the Death Star orbiting the forest Moon of Endor. Although the weapon systems on this Death Star are not yet operational, the Death Star does have a strong defense mechanism. It is protected by an energy shield, which is generated from the nearby forest Moon of Endor. The shield must be deactivated if any attack is to be attempted. Once the shield is down, our cruisers will create a perimeter, while the fighters fly into the superstructure and attempt to knock out the main reactor.

There was a concerned murmur.

“General Calrissian has volunteered to lead the fighter attack.”

Lando nodded slowly at some of the comments from the surrounding pilots

“General Madine.”

Madine moved to the center of the briefing room.

“We have stolen a small Imperial shuttle. Disguised as a cargo ship, and using a secret Imperial code, a strike team will land on the moon and deactivate the shield generator.

The assembly began to mumble among themselves.

“That sounds like fun.” Lando drawled.

“I will personally be leading this mission.” Madine announced sternly, many of the rebel commandos nodded knowingly. There simply weren’t enough experienced commanders for such an endeavor. Madine had trained these men, so he knew precisely what to expect from this hardy bunch.

Many eyes slowly drifted to the front of the briefing room, to a row of empty seats, all empty save for Lando and Nien Nub. The heroes of Yavin would normally sit there, but as everyone knew, in no small part to Imperial propaganda, the heroes were all gone.

The briefing quickly broke up and Lando made his way to General Madine.

“Sir, the mission sounds like its going to be extremely dangerous, perhaps I should relinquish fighter command and join you planetside. I’m far more comfortable on my feet.” Lando offered.

Madine smiled grimly.

“General Calrissian, although I appreciate your offer we need someone like you in fighter command. Quite frankly we’re in need of heroes at the moment.”

Lando fought the urge to blush. Instead he smirked.

“Me, a hero. You’re right about one thing, general, the Alliance is desperate if they’re looking to me as a hero.” he laughed and nodded to Madine before walking away.

Lando paused at the empty seats. He wondered what Han was feeling, frozen in a block of Carbonite, floating in Jabba’s palace, nothing more than some obscene decoration for the bloated one’s pleasure.

He had been in that nest of scum for several weeks, trying to find a way to help Leia spring Han from imprisonment. One night when secretly meeting Leia in Mos Eisley, he half jokingly said to her: “Security in that palace is so damned tight, it would take a Jedi to get Han out of there.” As the words left his mouth he knew he should never have spoken them. Leia’s eyes lit up and she nodded to herself as if she had been waiting to hear just that phrase.

She patted Chewie on the shoulder and got up.

“If a Jedi is what we need then that’s what we’ll get.” she vowed.

“Leia, wait! There aren’t any Jedi anymore, the last one was your friend Luke and he’s…” Lando’s voice trailed off as he saw the look of determination on her face. Lando began to shake his head. “Leia that is a BAD idea. He’s become Vader’s right hand, we have to let that go.”

Leia stared down at him, fire in her gaze.

“I won’t abandon him to the shadow, Lando. If you don’t care, then go on your way. I don’t expect you to understand.”

Those words stung him. He knew that despite Leia’s reassurances to the contrary she blamed Lando on some level for this whole debacle. Luke turning to the dark side and becoming a Sith Lord, Han frozen in carbonite in the hands of Jabba the Hutt. It all came down to Lando’s betrayal and he knew that he had much to atone for.

He did not have a chance to say much more as Leia stalked out with Chewie in tow. Next thing he knows, she’s run off with a few ships and Rogue squadron in search of Luke. It was a disaster for the Rebellion as many pilots and men that were more loyal to heroes like Leia and Luke followed Leia in her mission to confront Luke and bring him back to the light side.

A rift had formed in the ranks of the Alliance that were not healing.

Nien Nub stood by Lando’s side and said nothing.

“I guess we’re stuck on this mission. My only problem is that I’ve never flown an X-Wing before? You?”

Nien Nub said something in his sing song language. Lando nodded.

“Yeah, I thought as much.” he replied softly.





“This is not the way it was supposed to happen.” Madine said with a grimace as he watched his men and the pilots filing out of the briefing. To a man, not one of them looked in the least bit hopeful.

“The loss of General Solo, Commander Skywalker and Princess Leia have left a hole in the ranks, a hole that may be our downfall.” Ackbar replied dejected as he watched his men scurrying to their stations. The fleet would be going to hyperspace shortly and then they would face the dreaded Death star.

“Solo would have been perfect for this assignment. He had just the right mix of daring and charisma that might just have pulled this thing off.”

“Not to mention the presence of a Jedi on this mission would have increased our chances of success.”

“Pity about Leia.”

“Gentlemen.” Mon Mothma stated coolly as she stood in the circle between Ackbar and Madine.

“Madame president.” Madine replied with a short nod.

“I assume the talk has turned to Princess Leia and her friends.”

“You have to admit, Madame president that this mission is precisely what the heroes of Yavin are good at.” Madine began.

“General, perhaps you did not understand our position on this matter. But Leia Organna has betrayed the Alliance. She took off on a mission of personal import, taking with her several ships, each and every one a valuable resource to the Alliance, particularly on the eve of this battle. Several of our most elite squadrons, trained by Luke Skywalker, another traitor, who seem to have more loyalty to a single man than the Alliance.”

“Madame president, they are fighting men, you can’t expect them to live up to ideals and philosophies dreamt up in the ivory towers of High Command, they follow leadership and courage, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo had these virtues in great abundance. As I recall, High Command trotted commander Skywalker out every chance they got as a symbol of the Alliance. You got young men and women to join your Alliance BECAUSE they wanted to follow that young man not some murky ideals.”

Mon Mothma blinked. Shocked that Madine would speak so roughly to her, but then again, Madine had once been among the ranks of the Empire and he had little patience for High Command. It was a habit that had exposed the still gaping wounds caused by the defection of one of their greatest heroes, the loss of another and the treason of a born leader and a member of the High Command itself.

“Madame president, General Madine has a penchant for speaking out of turn. Let us retire for now.” Ackbar stated diplomatically.

“That’s alright Ackbar. I have a suicide mission to plan.” Madine said roughly, feeling the pain that many felt when they saw the heroes that had inspired them so rudely treated and discarded by the Alliance they fought for.

“General. You must understand our position. We were the Alliance before Luke Skywalker and his band appeared on the scene, we have been sacrificing and undertaking suicide missions since this rebellion began. We are still that same Alliance now. This movement is greater than one person, it has to be otherwise we are no better than the emperor.”

“If I did not believe that, Madame president, I would not be here right now. But that idea does not nullify the fact that we are going into this final battle without our greatest assets.”

“We do as we always do, General, as we have always done. We persevere.”

Madine did not reply, he merely snapped a smart salute and stalked away.

“Excuse him, he is young and angry.” Ackbar sighed.

“Admiral, the worse part of this whole argument is that I wholeheartedly agree with him.” Mon Mothma replied with a sad shake of her head.







The black garbed giant slowly approached the throne. Behind the throne itself was a massive window that opened up to reveal the beautiful green orb that was the sanctuary moon of Endor. The giant waited patiently, his mechanical breathing slow and rhythmic. Slowly the throne turned to face him.

“What is thy bidding, my Master?” Lord Darth Vader asked.

“Send the fleet to the far side of Endor. There it will stay until called for.” the emperor ordered in his low rasp.

“What of the reports of the Rebel fleet massing near Sullust?” Vader asked cautiously.

“It is of no concern. Soon the Rebellion will be crushed now that young Skywalker is one of us! Your work here is nearly finished, my friend.

“Almost?”

“I want you to prepare the fleet for another mission as soon as this battle is over. You will dispatch probe droids to the Sluis sector and begin monitoring any strange spatial disturbances. As soon as one is detected inform me.”

“I am not sure I understand, my master. Why should we care about spatial disturbances. The rebels much be crushed once and for all.” Vader asked perplexed by the sudden change in his master’s wishes.

“The Alliance faces certain defeat. We must prepare the way for the conquest of a new realm.”

Vader remained silent. His master often spoke in riddles, sometimes he would say things that only became clear years later. It was the awesome power of his foresight. It was a gift Vader was not privy to. None of his training had included such methods or techniques.

“Also send a signal to the Wild Space, I want to recall one of my grand admirals. He shall carry my banner into a brave new world.”

“As you wish.” Vader replied the barest hint of dissatisfaction in his voice.

“Do not fret my old friend, you shall accompany him and there you shall return Lord Nemesis to us.”

Vader’s breathing actually paused for a moment.

The emperor smiled.

“All is proceeding as I have foreseen.”

Vader paused as he spied something or someone standing behind the emperor. It was a human figure concealed in shadow. He could sense great power from this one, great enough that it nearly blinded him if he looked upon him solely using the force. The figure seemed to remain invisible to everyone else in the throne room, the only sure sign that he was there was an odd silver glint from his eyes.

“Go out to the command ship and await my orders.” the emperor ordered tersely.

“Yes, my Master.” Vader replied and bowed lowly, keeping his eyes fixed on the mystery figure. He turned slowly and strode out of the throne room.






IN THE 23rd CENTURY



The sand was everywhere. It had even filtered its way into the hermetically sealed canisters of supplies. The wrecked hulk of the once proud and modern space ship was half buried in the earth. Any electronic components that could be used to repair the ship had been stripped from it and the engines had been removed, replaced with standard cargo container. Small gardens were growing in well ordered circles and a primitive but functioning hydroponics garden was gurgling softly in the shadow of the fallen ship.

He remained kneeling on the hard ground, the wind tussling his hair as the sun set behind him, a low orange orb that beat down on his shoulders like an angry god. His hands were bruised and bloodies, one fingernail had been torn away. His knees were ground into the hard rock and sand, blood slowly seeping into the soil around him. He cared not for any discomfort.

She was gone.

That is what mattered at this moment.

“My lord.”

There was only silence. He stared down at the body, carefully wrapped in a metallic blanket, hair gingerly brushed down as the hood was pulled over her head. He could not bear to not see her face, even now.

He gently pulled back the hood and saw the beauty that had won his heart. She had the will and the grace of a goddess. She had defied a captain and him in the space of hours. He honestly believed in those heady moments together, when they stood watching the stars unfolding on the night tapestry overhead that nothing would touch them.

“My lord, may I speak.”

He remained silent, lips pursed in a thought. He could not pray. There were no gods, there could be nothing more than man in this universe. He had seen death too many times, had inflicted so much suffering to think that there was nothing else but his own will.

He thought that she would have liked a prayer.

He could not grant her this sole wish because he did not know any prayers. Such pathetic superstitions had been abolished under his rule. A quarter of the world’s population under his control and he had very nearly driven the all powerful god from their hearts.

Now when he least expected it, he needed to know something about this silent useless god. Something to ease the pain, something to give to his beloved wife as a parting gift.

The young man cleared his throat.

“My lord, we greave with you. She was a remarkable woman. But you cannot debase yourself thus. You cannot be reduced to this.” the young man pleaded.

Joachim had campaigned with him across a continent. They had warred on the others in their band, but in the end, when the inferior ones had risen like a mob of rodent vermin they knew that only in unity was there strength. Together they fled to the stars, together they defied the mob, fate and death itself. Together they nearly took control of a starship and had started a new empire among the stars.

Now he knelt in the earth, in his own blood and he wondered why he could not pray for the only woman he had ever truly loved.

“My lord, please, let some of the others-“

He held up a hand and it was like a thunderclap. Joachim snapped his mouth shut and stared down at this man they he would have followed to the very gates of hell.

He slowly reached down into the funerary cloth and fished out the small emblem wrapped in simple leather chord. She wore this every day, a talisman, a link to a past that she would never return to. It would be his link to her. The Starfleet emblem flashed in the waning sunlight.

He slowly draped it over his neck. The cool touch of the metal on his bare muscular chest flashed him back to the cool touch of her hand on his flesh. The look of devotion and love in her eyes as he coolly regarded her in the setting sun.

“I loved you.” he whispered and kissed her lips. They were cold. not at all like the hot blooded woman he had grown to know even more on this harsh world.

He turned slowly and his eyes locked with Joachim’s.

“Leave us.” he said.

Joachim began to speak but his eyes betrayed that there would be no protests allowed, he would brook no defiance of his will.

Joachim slowly nodded and hesitantly walked away joining the circle of super men and women who gathered on the outskirts of the ship. many were mourning the loss of their own loved ones and friends.

He deliberately began digging again, his hands scooping out dirt and stones. The grave would be finished, but it would take time, he would be digging well into the night, his penance and his blessing. This small act would purge the impotence that wracked him.

“How the mighty have fallen.”

He stopped and slowly looked up.

“I must say, I have heard of you by reputation alone, but I don’t see much now. You nearly killed James Kirk and here you are on your hands and knees like some beggar from Calcutta digging a makeshift grave.”

He said nothing but coolly regarded the young man with silver eyes. He wore a Starfleet uniform, a little out of date, the cuffs and collar were a sign of this, but a Starfleet uniform nonetheless.

“I shall kill you where you stand.” he said with ice cold calm and determination.

“I think not. It will take more than the product of 20th century genetic engineering to kill a god.”

“A god.” he snorted. “Is that what you think you are. I use to know men like you, they were part of the first batch of engineered superior men. Many had to be put down for mental damage and paranoia.” He sneered.

The silver eyed stranger shrugged.

“I guess then I shall take my delusional self and leave you here in the earth to bury your wife and let you rot on this dying world.”

“I want nothing from the likes of you. I will find a way out of this as I have always done.”

“Ah yes, I would not insult your superior intellect with an offer of escape, but what I offer is revenge.” the silver eyed one said lowly, eyes flashing hungrily.

“Revenge?” he asked quietly, eyes narrowing on the stranger.

“Against the man that left you here to die. The one who left her here to die.”

“Kirk.” he said the name like a curse.

“Indeed.”

“There is a price for everything, and I fear that I will not want to pay this price. If I am to avenge myself on Kirk, I will be the sole instrument of that revenge. James Kirk will rue the day he crossed Kahn Noonien Singh.” he countered.

“Obstinate fool, you kneel there in the earth like some worm and you have the gall to deny yourself and your wife vengeance.”

“All I see is that I am denying your wish. I will have my revenge, I assure you.” he replied stonily.

The silver eyed stranger suddenly smiled and it even chilled his own stony heart.

“But what a fool I am. I am appealing to your pride and that is unyielding. Instead I shall appeal to your heart.”

“You will find that even more sterner than my pride. I have no room in my heart anymore, the only one that I shared it with lies at my feet, a testament to my failure as a leader and as a superior man.”

“Allow me to enlighten you.” the silver eyed stranger replied with a cold smile. His eyes flashed and suddenly Kahn found himself lying in a bed, fire in his head. He struggled but could not move, slowly an object came into focus in his field of vision.

It was his own face, worry and anxiety stamped on his proud features as another person was trying to administer some makeshift anesthetic, made from the crushed leaves of a plant not far from the landing site.

What is this? he thought.

The fire in his brain raged. He screamed in agony but the voice was not his own. It was her’s. He realized what was happening and it chilled him to the soul. He was experiencing Marla’s death. The final moments as the things hatched in her brain, as they finished devouring what was left of who she was leaving her nothing but an empty husk. No longer would she paint dashing historical figures. No longer would she hold him in the night as the worries and weight of leadership weighed on him like a mountain.

She would no longer be Marla McGivers.

She would be dead and he would be alone.

The hardest part of all was playing before his eyes.

His own blasted impotence before this threat. He would have crushed a hundred men single handedly to protect her. He would have conquered cities, entire continents to please her. He could do nothing now as the parasites finished killing her. And he felt every agonizing moment, he could feel them writhing in his head. The expression of horror and frustration on his face maddened him.

He reached out to touch her, at least he saw this for he was now Marla and all he could feel was the fire and pain.

“Kahn!” he heard himself call out as the final burst of fire blazed across his vision and he heard the agonized squeals of the birthing parasites as everything went black. They were the only things she ever gave birth to. They had always wanted to have children. This was an abomination of that dream.

Kahn stood alone in darkness, the fire in his brain gone.

The silver eyed stranger suddenly appeared, stepping out of the inky darkness.

“So you see what she felt, and you refuse to avenge that?”

The accusation hung in the air. Kahn stared into the stranger’s eyes. He could see his won face staring back at him in those silver orbs.

“She suffered greater than I could have imagined.”

“At least she died quickly.” the silver eyed one said with a hint of scorn.

“Leave me.” Kahn said and started to turn away.

“She was with child.”

Kahn froze in mid turn.

“If you don’t believe me, check. She won’t mind, she’s dead.”

Kahn looked up at him with a steely gaze.

“It was a boy.” the silver eyed one stated with finality. Kahn closed his eyes and lowered his head as if he had been stabbed.

“I will leave you now.” he stated quietly after a long moment of silence.

“I will avenge myself on Captain James T. Kirk, and I will do so even if I have to make a deal with the devil.” Kahn stated gravely.

They locked eyes for a long moment, neither one flinching.

“So be it.” Gary Mitchell said with a nod.







Four pieces materialized by his side of the board. One was the bust of a proud looking man with glowing red eyes, carved out of sapphire blue stone. One was an onyx stone breathing mask, one was a cracked Starfleet insignia wrapped in a leather thong and the last piece was a small representation of the death star.

Q noted this without any expression of surprise.

“Overkill?” Q suggested.

“In the old earth sport of baseball, one would say that Nemesis was up at bat and I have my new batters on deck.” Gary replied icily.

“Are you so afraid of him that you would array such powers against him?” Q pressed.

“Q, I fear no man. I could reach out right now and stop his heart with a thought.”

“But you won’t.”

“It would be beneath me.”

“Instead you array these odds against him, hardly fair you know.”

“You miss the point of the game.”

“I thought this game was about exploring human nature?” Q replied wanly.

“It is. I find that Starfleet had a wonderful way of teaching command staff about human nature…it was called the Kobayashi Maru.” Gary grinned as he deliberately placed each new piece on the board. He glanced up at Q. “The no win scenario.”

Q nodded. He glanced down at board and a shadow of a smile crossed his face.

“Wasn’t Jim Kirk the only one to ever beat the no win scenario?” Q asked innocently.

Gary stared hard at Q. A frown slowly crossing his face and somewhere far away thunder crashed in the distance.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:15pm
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Chapter 22: Closing the Ranks


“Are you sure about this, Lord Nemesis? Defeating them will not be an issue. I have driven them from every stronghold in their pathetic empire. The Adjudicator is personally responsible for over 600 Klingon kills.” Tarsi stated passionately as Nemesis adjusted his black tunic. Mara held his cape draped over her left arm.

“This is not a reflection on your command, captain. In fact, I did not think that you would be so successful with the few resources I have assigned to this mission. However the Base Delta Zero operation of their homeworld has not had the desired effect I was looking for. The Klingons have become more obstinate and it has become painfully clear that they fully intend to fight to the last man if need be. We cannot afford a three front war.”

“Three my lord?” Branna asked.

“You may have forgotten the Borg but I have not. We crushed their fleet but they control a vast portion of this galaxy and I can feel the beginning of a new threat from them. We will be hard pressed to defeat them and fight off dissention from within our own new empire. The Romulans are currently content with this war against the Klingons but that will evaporate should the Borg begin assimilating worlds that we promised would remain safe under Imperial rule.”

“I thought you should know that the Romulan senate has voted you as Praetor for life. You are the first non-Romulan to hold this title in their history.” Mara added softly.

Nemesis spared her a glance. She had been very quiet of late, lost in though. He was quite sure what it was that she was contemplating.

“I am no emperor, there is only one emperor.”

“My lord, if I may, we are from home and our own time, for the sake of political stability, perhaps you should accept this honor, even if it only is temporary.” Kittaine pressed.

Nemesis stared darkly at Kittaine but Kittaine felt no menace in those eyes, instead there was an almost sad acceptance.

“We shall discuss this after I return. What is the Klingon status?”

“Four hundred warships have come out of warp and are taking up orbit directly opposite our position.”

“How many more cloaked?” nemesis asked with a cold smile.

“The Romulans believe that there may be as many as another 400 ships cloaked in close proximity, our own grav shadow analysis concurs with this opinion.”

“So much for Klingon honor. It matters not. We shall prove to them the utter futility of this exercise.”

“Putting your life at risk is hardly what I would consider safe and necessary my lord. Allow me to take your place.” Mara asked.

Nemesis shook his head.

“I can feel it, they are desperate, they either wish to embrace death or find a reason to live with their precious honor intact. Tarsi would like to grant them that honorable death.” Tarsi seemed to stand up taller at the statement. “But I fear that we do not have the time to give it to them without putting ourselves at risk. My alternative gives us the advantage of ending this war today, right now.” Nemesis replied as he checked his saber, clipped it to his belt and nodded to Mara.

She led him to the small shuttle.

“At least let her pilot you down to the surface my lord.” Kittaine suggested. He found Nemesis’ plan disturbing. Wars were not fought like this. These Klingons were acting like savages and he did not like that Imperial forces were stooping to that level. To actually engage in melee combat on which the outcome of an interstellar war would be decided was mind boggling to him.

“I’m quite a good pilot myself, Admiral. I will be well. I will not give the Klingons a single solitary reason to think that I am breaching the agreement.” Nemesis replied as he visually inspected the shuttle.

“Then there is nothing more to say than good luck my lord.” Branna interjected followed with a smart salute.

Nemesis smiled and it was ice.

“Luck has nothing to do with this captain. This battle was over before it has even begun.” Nemesis replied.




“They are without honor.” Worf stated gravely as the image of Quo’nos’ destruction played out again on the large screen in the Nehgvahr’s assembly area. 100 of the Klingon empire’s finest warriors stood proudly beneath the screen watching it, horror and anger on their faces as the last of Quo’nos’ continents sunk into the flaming hungry mantle.

“Worf, the home of Kahless, the heart of the empire itself was reduced to flaming ruin. Never again will I walk on the soil of our home, never more will I swim in the lakes of Tragala, never more will I look upon the tombs of the emperors. I will not breath the air that sustained me, the cool refreshing waters that quenched my thirst, the solid stone of my home. It is all gone. Our people have been reduced to homeless vagabonds, searching for meaning in an increasingly hostile and merciless universe and the best you can come up with is that the Empire is without honor?!” Martok hissed.

Worf shook his head sadly.

“Your melancholy has grown greatly chancellor. To accept this offer from a people that would do this to a world is insane.”

“I don’t happen to see it that way Worf. I see it as a way out of this war without anymore slaughter. Our people are suffering, we have lost our home and our way. Many warriors have taken to engaging Imperial warships alone in single ship engagements so that they can join their relatives and family in Stovohlkor. I am the chancellor of the Klingon Empire, Kahless is gone, lost to us in that contemptable bombardment. There is no one else to lead our people, to tell our warriors that honor demands that we live not die in futile gestures.”

“You think this will be an answer?!” Worf replied as the screen winked out replaced by the symbol of the Klingon empire. The warriors snapped to attention, many of them holding Batleths to their chests.

“Worf, the other alternative is for us to simply die out as a race because we cannot accept the guilt that eats at us all.” Martok snapped. “This way there lies honor, the other way there is simple suicide, you tell me what other option I have.” Martok stormed away from Worf before he could reply and stood on a podium over the assembled troops.

“Soldiers of the empire, the time has come for you to put your wits and courage to the ultimate test.” The assembled warriors roared as one, holding up whatever weapon they had in their hands.

“The Klingon heart cannot be overcome, as long as we have the courage and dedication to face the adversities that face us. We have lost greatly in the last few days, the emperor himself was lost to us but fate is a fickle mistress and she has handed us the possibility of victory. Not more than a day ago, the leader of the despicable Galactic Empire has offered to face one hundred of our finest warriors in single combat. If he is defeated then the empire will withdraw from Klingon space and sign a treaty assuring the Klingon Empire’s sovereignty for perpetuity. Should all our warriors fall to him, we shall surrender to the Empire and offer no more resistance to their invasion. It is with a heavy heart that I consulted with the High Council and our surviving generals and we decided that in order to save the empire and its people, we would accept such a challenge in the spirit of our people. We firmly believe that our warrior’s courage and skill will carry the day.”

The warriors shouted encouragement. Worf watched the exchange from his post behind Martok. He demanded to join the warriors, despite the fact that he did not agree with this plan. But Martok had vehemently denied him permission.

“Darth Nemesis has landed on the surface of Goromar.” a voice announced over the speakers in the assembly area.

Martok nodded.

“Warriors of the Empire. KAPLAH!” He roared.

“Kaplah!” The warriors shouted in return.

“Worf, chorri chu.” Martok snapped.

Worf activated the troop transporters in the assembly bay of the Neghvar. Designed to mass transport troops into battle, the hundred warriors disappeared in a cloud of red light. Martok’s shoulders slumped slightly as the transporter lights dimmed. Worf slowly approached him.

“Chancellor?”

“Worf, I wish I was going with them.” Martok whispered.

“You would do no good. This is a job for our finest and they are that and more.”

“Kind words, Worf, but empty nonetheless.” Martok replied coolly.




The planet Goromar had been one of the first worlds settled by the Klingon people after they took to the stars. It was a barren and rocky world, but suitable for a people whose homeworld was as harsh as their warrior ethic. The shuttle was at the top of the crater that dominated the eastern plains of the main continent. The crater itself was over ten miles wide, caused by an enormous asteroid that had crashed into the planet long ago.

The wind was hard and bitter, carrying thick soot and dirt picked up from the carter floor. There was no sound at all, as if any life had suddenly retreated from this place in anticipation of what was coming.

Nemesis had finished stretching when the hundred warriors materialized around him in a semi circle. many of them locked eyes with him and shifted their weapons eagerly. Nemesis slowly stood up straight and began to grow angry, angry that this race of warriors had disrupted his plans so far, angry that they would not bow to the inevitability of their loss, furious that they had forced him to vaporize a planet, expending valuable resources for a cause that had failed. This anger burned in him like an inferno and in one smooth motion he drew his lightsaber and activated it with a snap hiss.

The first warriors roared and charged, batleths swinging, eager to take his head. The second line of warriors fanned out to close the area around him.

Nemesis did not care. He smiled at them as they closed the distance and suddenly crimson flashes of light whipped around him. Batleths exploded into a cloud of sparks and molten metal as the lightsaber cut through the bladed weapons. many of the warriors stared dumbfounded at their weapons, most cut in half, each end a useless fused metal lump.

Nemesis waded into them, his lightsaber flashing around him like lightning strikes, each stroke took a Klingon warrior’s limb or head. The screaming warriors fell away from him as he moved among them like a stalking panther, black tunic stained with the cold gray soil of the crater. His crimson blade was constantly moving around him, striking anyone that came near.

He brought his blade back, stabbing it backward under his left arm and to his rear and it burned through a warrior coming up behind him. Meanwhile, with a snap move of his free hand he held out a fist and a pair of charging warriors were suddenly thrown back as if they had been shot. They landed twitching as their internal organs burst from the pressure wave of the force push.

He reveled in his anger, feeling it flow over him like a primal wave, never threatening to drown him for he was a Lord of the Sith. The Sith had discovered long ago how to control the primordial urges, the near limitless power of the darkside. Dark Jedi were prone to madness and death as they delved deeper into the darkness. The Sith rode the wave, feeding off of it, but never allowing themselves to be consumed. They were masters of their own anger, not mastered by their anger.

He flipped over a charging warrior, his lightsaber jabbing downward as he passed overhead and pierced the Klingon’s brain. It toppled forward as he landed and nemesis dodged a series of rapid strikes by an older more experienced warrior. Nemesis danced between each lightning strike of the batleth and was driven backwards.

Nemesis let go of himself, allowing the force to attune him to the warrior’s attacks and he suddenly stepped in precisely when the warrior lashed out. His lightsaber ripped through the Klingon’s belly and he casually pushed upwards, cutting the Klingon in half. He pushed both ends apart and stepped through the gore lashing out with the force, crushing another warrior’s windpipe as he set himself for a strike.

Nemesis felt the warning in the back of his head and he ducked down just as the Batleth sliced overhead and he kicked out connecting solidly with his attacker’s ribs, crushing them with his force enhanced strength and sending the warrior tumbling away. He rolled as another warrior drove his own weapon down on him. It connected with the soft packed earth. As the Klingon paused long enough to recover his weapon, Nemesis flicked his blade up and connected with the warrior’s chin, slicing his head open.

Nemesis kipped up and turned at the waist as another warrior drove in close with dagger weapons. Nemesis took a firm hold of the Klingon’s left wrist and turned it savagely, breaking the bone like old wood and plating his feet firmly he sent the warrior screaming through the air, propelled by the force he knocked into a phalanx of warriors, knocking them down like bowling pins.

Nemesis flipped his saber up and waited patiently for them to stumble back to their feet. He smiled and laughed as they did and launched his saber at them. The saber spun like a scythe its crimson blade humming hungrily as it swept through the tangle of warriors followed by screams and slaughtered warriors collapsing to the ground.

Believing him bereft of his awesome weapon, a horde of warriors charged, deciding to bring him down by weight of numbers. Nemesis waited patiently as they closed the distance, suddenly they heard the hum and the lightsaber came swooping back through them. Many fell away clutching ruined limbs. Nemesis caught his lightsaber and watched the Klingons regroup.

He knew that the battle was being monitored by both sides. He looked up at the sky.

“You may be thinking that this is probably unfair, that I use a weapon that you cannot defeat. I think that those are foolish thoughts but to show you my good faith…” Nemesis doused his lightsaber as he watched the Klingon warriors slowly regroup. many were lying dead or maimed in the crater, some moaned for death, others were deathly quiet as they felt their life spill away.

Nemesis deliberately clipped his lightsaber to his belt and hefted a batleth up from one of the fallen. He tested its weight and frowned. This weapon was not ideally suited for agility and speed. This was a brute force weapon, the exact opposite of his precious lightsaber.

It would have to do.

A half dozen warriors approached, more cautious but determined. Nemesis spun the weapon in slow steady arcs as they drew closer. There was a moment of stillness then an explosion of motion. Three batleths came in at varying angles, two more were sweeping in low for the feet. The last warrior circled around for a strike at his rear.

Nemesis spun the batleth with a furious speed and parried the three batleths coming in high and pushed them away as he simultaneously leapt over the ones sweeping his legs. He landed on his right foot, pivoted hard and buried the batleth in the sternum of the Klingon coming to his rear.

He back flipped away from the falling Klingon and dodged a series of strikes, many coming within a hairsbreadth of his body. The blades whistled by him as he flipped and landed at the rear of the assembled Klingons. He called a dagger to his hand and held it in a defensive posture.

The Klingons glanced at each other and attacked again. Nemesis watched as three older Klingons watched the entire exchange, measuring him as he moved among the younger warriors, severing an artery here, slicing a tendon there. He moved with skill, grace and precision, the dagger flashing like silver death among the Klingon warriors, none able to match his speed.

Soon ten Klingons remained, Nemesis paused to catch his breath. Sweat had begun to bead on his brow and his tunic was torn in several places, blood was welling up on a strike that managed to gash his right shoulder. Other than that, he was untouched. The bodies of 90 Klingon warriors littered the crater, some were still alive, barely, but most were dead, growls and scowls frozen on their faces. many limbs lay scattered across the field. Purple blood was everywhere, Nemesis’ hands were slick with it.

Nemesis saluted the ten Klingons, the three older warriors among them.

“So, we stand here, the greatest of your greatest, and here I stand alone…and unarmed.” Nemesis held out his right hand and let the blood soaked dagger fall to the soft earth. He kicked it away and stood hands at the ready.

“Come then, and kill me, if you are able.” he challenged.


Back on the Neghvar, Martok watched in absolute horror as this young child, no older than a Starfleet midshipman or a Klingon child ready to ascend to manhood would be, soundly defeated a hundred of the empire’s finest warriors.

Now he had dropped his weapon and stood facing the remaining ten. He recognized the three older warriors. Two were Dahar masters. This could prove to be the turn of fate they needed. The expression on Worf’s face spoke otherwise.

“He is too good. We are lost.” Worf whispered.

“He is tired and worn out. The Dahar masters will prove his undoing. They are fresh and our finest tacticians.”

“We were overmatched before this battle began.” Worf replied darkly.



The Dahar masters nodded to the younger warriors and they slowly approached him from all angles, weapons in static positions as they approached. The two masters drew daggers and came up on the rear. The last older warrior remained standing back waiting,

Nemesis paused as he assessed the situation and opened himself to his anger and frustration at these moronic savages. He had slain their finest warriors and still they came. He wanted them to truly feel how ludicrous this battle was, how useless all their courage and strength was in the face of the empire.

He would show them. Now.

Nemesis launched himself in the air and landed behind one of the warriors, taking a firm grip of his head he snapped it around with an audible crack, he lashed out with his left foot with a hammer kick that shattered the spine of another warrior that was starting to turn. He blocked a strike with a batleth by catching the Klingon’s forearm with his own and he dropped down on all fours as another drove his own batleth into the spot where Nemesis still stood, driving his weapon through empty air then into his ally’s gut. The stricken Klingon howled as Nemesis rolled away in a tight ball, coming out of the roll between two other Klingons. He smashed his elbow into the Klingon’s nose, driving the cartilage deep into his face and whipped his opposite hand out, with an open palm broke the jaw of the opposite Klingon. The stunned warriors were crashed together by Nemesis and allowed to drop unconscious to the ground.

“Come then! Come to your death!” Nemesis roared at the remaining Klingons. The rest of the warriors attacked simultaneously, save for the older warriors. Nemesis ran at them, leapt over them as they charged and landed behind them. One of Klingons was already turning as he leapt and drove his batleth at Nemesis’ head. Nemesis caught the blade between both hands and held it. Blood slowly ran along the blade but no matter how hard the Klingon pushed he could no longer move his weapon.

Nemesis smiled and snapped the point off with a savage flick of the wrist, caught the point and drove it into the shocked Klingon’s neck. He sidestepped another strike, a batleth sliced across his back as he continued stepping away and caught the Klingon off balance, driving his leg into the back of the Klingon’s off foot and wrapping his arms around the Klingon’s shoulder he drove it down ward at an unnatural angle, the back broke with a loud crack and he forward rolled over the fallen warrior as another took a long swipe with his Batleth, intending to decapitate him.

Nemesis kipped up and stood in a defensive crouch as he watched the last three remaining Klingons. The two Dahar masters were in combat positions, one had tried to decapitate him with a batleth but now stood in a more aggressive stance. The other held a dagger in each hand. The last one stood slightly behind them and remained silent and weaponless.

The Dahar masters nodded nearly imperceptibly to each other and they advanced in a flash of motion on exact opposite ends of Nemesis’ peripheral vision, Nemesis was in motion as well, he stepped into the one to his left, blocked one swipe of a dagger and slapped another away as the opposite Dahar master swung in, grazing Nemesis’ side. Nemesis lashed out with a kick that ruptured the attacker’s knee joint. The Dahar master expertly recovered, shifting weight to his good leg, knowing that retreat meant death instead launched a vicious series of stabbing attacks. Nemesis twisted his body out of reach of each strike as he simultaneously held down the other Dahar master with the force. The Dahar master moved as if he were underwater. He stared at his won actions in horror as a strike form his dagger that should have been lightning fast slowly lumbered towards Nemesis. Nemesis waited, watching the quick series of blows and the force suddenly urged him and he lashed out with a closed fist, striking the Dahar master ion the throat. The Dahar master sputtered as blood foamed at his mouth. He stumbled backwards, his shattered knee no longer able to hold his weight he crashed to the ground. Nemesis surged forward, easily dodging the slowed attack by the other Dahar master, and drove his foot into the fallen Dahar master’s chest, he pressed and the Klingon roared in pain as his chest collapsed inward, crushing his heart, piercing it with the broken shards of his very own ribs.

The Dahar master stared into Nemesis’ eyes as the last of his life fled and purple blood flowed freely from his nose and mouth. Nemesis turned on the other Dahar master and released his hold on him. The master noting the sudden change in his circumstances launched an attack of speed and fury. Nemesis smiled as he felt the anger flowing from the Dahar master, he allowed the anger to wash over him like a hot rain and he allowed the Dahar master to exhaust himself. Nemesis simply turned, ducked, dodged as the daggers flashed in at all angles and speeds, to no avail.

Nemesis was untouchable.

Then as the Dahar master stopped, breathing heavily, Nemesis smiled and slapped the daggers away. The Dahar master was speechless as Nemesis lifted him by the neck and began to squeeze. He could feel the last Klingon watching him but detected no threat from him.

Nemesis looked up at the sky, knowing full well that each fleet could see precisely what he was doing.

“This is the fate of the Klingon Empire and her people should they continue to oppose us.” Nemesis snarled and with a vise like squeeze, the Dahar master’s neck was ground to powder and he slumped in Nemesis’ hand. Nemesis flung the body away like a rag doll and turned on the last Klingon.

“Will you fight?” he asked.

“I have no desire to expend the last of my strength in a hopeless battle.” the Klingon responded coolly.

“A pity that your people have not come to the same conclusion.” Nemesis stated as he stalked towards the Klingon.

“I would prefer death to living under your tyranny.” the Klingon replied evenly.

“What did you say?” Nemesis asked softly and stopped in his tracks.

“Death before surrender. I will not join you to avoid death.”

Nemesis blinked.

Suddenly he was holding on to the gantry on Bespin, the wind howling in his ears.

“Join me…there is no other way.”

He looked down at the yawning abyss below him, torn by the lies that were revealed and by his utter helplessness before the black armored giant that had been the same man that he worshipped growing up.

He could not see any other way than flinging himself to the abyss. Death. It chilled his heart and he looked to the man that was his father, holding out a hand. (How long had he wanted to touch his father, to know that he was loved?) He decided that death was not an option, why die to protect those that had lied to him from the beginning. (Because you were afraid)

This Klingon was doing what he could not.

It enraged him. The fury exploded out of him like a storm and he roared in anger (and pain) and the Klingon took a step back in fear and surprise as the darkside vomited out of Nemesis tearing the Klingon apart until there was nothing left but gristle and gore.




Martok stared at the blank screen for a long silent moment. His eye glazed over in shock and grief.

“Your orders, Chancellor. The Imperial fleet is demanding that we stand down.” Worf asked putting his hand on Martok’s shoulder.

“He was but one man…a boy at that.” Martok whispered.

“Do we surrender?” Worf pressed.

Martok slowly looked up at Worf.

“The Klingon empire is finished. I have seen the end of our glorious heritage, it ended on the sands of Goromar. What will they say of Chancellor Martok, will they call me the greatest traitor in Klingon history?”

“Chancellor, there is still time to run. Our warriors never stood a chance against that thing. Let us retreat to safe areas on the rim of the empire, perhaps link up with Starfleet and see if together we cannot drive them from our galaxy.” Worf urged.

Martok smiled for the first time and gripped Worf’s forearm.

“Worf, my old friend, you still believe that we can beat these devils? You still have faith in Klingon honor and courage. You’re right, we will do just that, but I will not be joining you on this journey.”

“What?”

“I have seen enough suffering and death to last me a lifetime Worf. My home, my beloved wife, my homeworld is gone. Quo’nos is nothing more than a ball of magma, you will carry the banner, Chancellor Worf, you will see us to victory.”

“Chancellor?! No, come with me!” Worf protested.

“It’s alright Worf, your brother Kern and I already discussed this. Farewell old friend.” Martok said and Worf was suddenly engulfed in a pillar or swirling red light. Martok nodded to himself.

“It is finished.” he whispered, straightened his armored tunic and stood up.

“Signal to the Imperial fleet that the Klingon empire formerly surrenders to the Galactic Empire.”

“Yes, Chancellor.” his communications officer replied, grief thick in his voice.

Martok nodded to his chief engineer who activated several controls. A warning sounded deep within the bowels of the Neghvar.

“The Imperial forces accept our surrender and ask that we immediately stand down.”

“My answer is forthcoming.” Martok replied and smiled. “Kaplah, Worf.” he whispered.

The Neghvar exploded as its warp core ruptured. The matter antimatter explosion was incredible as the massive warship tore itself apart like a small sun.






“I guess you’ve come to say that we’re about to be assimilated is that it?” Archer asked hotly as he readied his weapon. The Borg queen smiled coolly as she regarded him as one would regard an ant crawling across a table.

“No.”

Seven slowly rose from her place by the alcove. The data node pulsed at her feet, she was able to download as much as she could before the queen appeared. Seven noticed something different about the queen. She could not quite make it out.

“Then why are you here? You do not expect us to believe that you are merely observing and are going to let us leave with the data we’ve recovered.” Seven said coolly.

“Seven, you of all people should know that whatever data you recover from the Borg can never really hurt us. We are forever, we are eternity. We have always been here, and we will always be here. Data changes with time, we adapt and overcome. Why would you think that we would stop your data tap?”

“You knew?” Archer asked skeptically.

“Of course we did.” she smiled knowingly. “How could we not? Even this insignificant data node is part of the great Collective. We are all the same, tapping this data node is exactly like tapping a data node in the central core of the unimatrix. We knew the moment your vessel entered our space, we detected your matter/energy stream as it penetrated the outer surface of the unimatrix we detected your life signs as you walked through these halls. I followed and here I am.”

“You? Where is that army of drones that always follows you around?”

“Seven, they are from outside our galaxy and they mean to destroy us.”

“That is supposed to motivate me into action? In case you didn’t realize it, we’d like it if you were gone.” Archer interjected.

“This is why your species is doomed to extinction. You cannot grasp the full picture, you cannot see all the scenarios. Your narrow vision will keep you from seeing the abyss until you’ve already walked out into it.” The queen sneered.

“What do you want with us that the Collective cannot already provide?” Seven asked suspiciously.

“Who says that I want anything from you?” the queen replied coyly.

“You would not be wasting time and effort talking to us if it were not so. Why would you need us, we are a single starship, far from home, what could we possibly give you that the vast resources of the Collective could not?”

“This smells funny to me.” Archer noted.

The queen began to reply when Seven’s eyes narrowed on her and she realized why she felt so odd about the queen. She did not hear the myriad voices coming form her, she could not hear the voice of the mighty Borg Collective that seemed to surround her like a choir.

“You are no longer part of the Collective, are you?” Seven asked in shock.

The queen looked at each of them and reluctantly nodded.

“Unfortunately, the Collective decided that due to my past failures, particularly with our incident with Janeway and the loss of a transwarp hub that I was more of a liability than an asset to the Collective so I was forcefully severed from the many.” she actually sounded devastated.

“Why not just kill you?” Archer asked pointedly, not liking this one bit.

The Queen smiled.

“I made sure that the Collective was hardwired with the inability to directly strike against me.”

“You manipulated the Borg to insure your own survival.” Seven breathed.

“What I did happened a very long time ago, Seven. Longer than you can guess.” the Queen answered with a mysterious smile.

“So now you are trapped here, powerless. What do you want from us then?”

“Your help in defeating the Galactic Empire.”

“I guess that would include reinstalling you as queen?” Archer added.

“Correct. In other words, Seven. You must decide whether to defeat your newfound foe and reinstall me as queen of the Borg, assuring our ascendance in this galaxy, or allow your precious Federation to fall into ruin.” she replied icily.

“Talk about your deals with the devil.” Archer muttered to Seven.

Seven nodded slowly.

“Unfortunately, I believe that this is a deal we cannot afford to deny.” she replied staring at the Borg queen. They exchanged cool glances in the Borg alcove.





“So the decision is finalized and ratified by a near unanimous decision.” representative Togray announced. There was some hushed mutters of discontent in the room. The Federation High Council, or what was left of it had just finished debating a very weighty issue. They were seated in a makeshift mockup of the High Council chambers back on Earth. The council chamber was located in the cavernous shuttle bay of the Achilles, Admiral Ross flagship.

“If I may be heard.” representative Loen started.

“We have already heard your words, Loen. Your sole voice is not going to be enough to deter the will of this council.”

“Have we asked the brave beings that we have put in harm’s way time and again whether they will accept a surrender at this juncture?” Loen, the Andorian representative asked in the cold whisper that was common among Andorians.

“They are Starfleet, they will do as they are told.” Togray huffed, puffing out his chest a sign of aggression and asserting dominance common to Tellarites.

Many of the assembled officers, essentially the captains and command staff of each ship in the fleet that had escaped the massacre of the Battle of Sector 001, exchanged troubled glances, many were obviously angry.

“May I be heard.” a lone voice spoke up from the back of the assembly. Everyone turned as one to look back, all save Admiral Ross who knew exactly who the speaker was.

Captain James T. Kirk stood up at the back, his command staff seated around him in their distinctive bright colored uniforms from an era long gone by. Sitting next to him was a regal looking Princess Leia and her Wookie companion. The droids were standing further to the back.. Kirk stood confidently under the scrutiny of the assembly and the High Council

“Captain James T. Kirk, you do not even belong in this timeline.” Togray replied.

“I recognize James Kirk to speak before this assembly.” Loen interjected. Togray glared angrily at him but Loen pointedly ignored him and motioned for Kirk to speak.

“Gentlebeings, I understand why you are all so frightened, we are facing a threat the likes of which we have never seen before. Imperial forces seem unstoppable, particularly after the Battle of Sector 001, but we saw the very best of what they could do and we’re still standing, this tells me that we have a chance. As long as the Federation has a chance at victory how can we not take it?”

“Because Captain Kirk, this so called chance you speak of is most likely infinitesimal. We barely escaped with our lives.”

“Some of us did not.” Loen added.

“Logically Captain Kirk, we cannot see another way to victory without taking losses that we do not believe the Federation can bare.” the Vulcan representative added.

“What are the losses in men and material compared to what we will suffer as a slave race to the Empire?”

“Slave race? Most likely you Earthers will rise to prominence in this Empire, they are human after all!” Togray spat.

“What did you say?” Loen hissed.

“Is the representative trying to imply that humans are somehow in collusion with the Empire? That’s very brave of you to say when the Earth representative is dead along with the president and the vats majority of Starfleet is human, the ones who fought and died to bring you here alive and well…sir.” Kirk pressed acidly.

The assembled officers began nodding, many whispering angrily to each other and openly glaring at the council.

“Strike that! I spoke out of frustration, the point remains Kirk that there is no way to defeat this empire without losing more ships, men and worlds.”

“That’s what war is all about, Representative Togray, people die, ships are destroyed and worlds are laid waste but we fight because we believe in who we are, we believe in the foundations of this Federation. To surrender now is to spit on the memories of all those that died in defense of the Federation over the centuries and particularly those brave proud souls that died in the face of the Empire’s might so that our so called leadership could escape.”

“I refuse to listen to such inflammatory language!” Togray exclaimed.

“You are trying to appeal to the emotions of the audience, Captain. Such inflammatory language is not looked upon with favor by the Vulcan assembly.” The Vulcan representative countered.

“If I may, logic dictates that an Empire that casually destroys worlds as they have done to Quo’nos will not be a tolerant regime. Logic would show that the long term suffering of Federation citizens under that rule will exceed the short term suffering of a war to keep those citizens free.” Spock added as he stood up by Kirk.

“Gentlebeings I would also like to add that in my galaxy which is suffering directly under the rule of the Empire, millions of our citizens are killed in purges and oppression, millions of worlds live under the tyranny of the empire, trillions of non humans are no more than chattel on many worlds. It is a horrible system that grinds its citizens up like so much waste and views them as nothing more than cogs in a machine. Your people value freedom as we do, to surrender now is to assure your enslavement to the New Order forever.” Leia added.

“Your friends are very persuasive Kirk, but passionate appeals do not an argument make. I can show you the losses we have suffered in the last week, hundreds of starships, thousands dead. Those are just for the initial Imperial attack. Should the war continue we are looking at the total and complete destruction of Starfleet and the dismemberment of the Federation.”

Kirk smiled grimly.

“If we do surrender, representative Togray, we are looking at the total and complete destruction of Starfleet and the dismemberment of the Federation.”

Laughs began in the back of the assembly and soon they swept through the officers like a wave. Togray stared hard at Kirk, fury in his eyes.

“If its plans you want, then its plans you’ll get.” Kirk nodded to Sulu who stood up and activated a holographic chart.

“I currently have a four fold strategy in mind for dealing with the Empire. First we must mount a counterattack as soon as possible, my plans call for one in three days, two if my resident miracle worker can outdo himself whip up what I need in record time.”

“Your will be done sair.” Scotty replied with a solemn nod.

“Two days?!” Togray sputtered.

However, many noticed the assembled officers quickly leaning forward and listening, some captains had even begun to take notes.

“Two days sir, any longer and the morale disaster started on Earth will spread like wildfire throughout the Federation. News of the loss must be quickly followed by a victory or we will have a demoralized fleet and then we have lost.” Kirk replied. He returned in his business like briefing mode.

“The counterattack will involve elements of this fleet, the Rebel Alliance forces and any ships we can get to warp here in time for the assault. The goal will be two fold, sabotage Imperial efforts in this quadrant,” Kirk paused and looked at the assembly meaningfully. “And I mean to kill us a Stardestroyer by any means necessary.”

Some of the men actually cheered, many captains exchanged hopeful glances.

“Where do you plan to commit this miracle?” Togray demanded.

“That’s classified for now, sir. The full details will be released right before we go to warp. If the Empire even gets a whiff of where we’re going this party is over.”

“Classified?! We’re the Federation High Council.”

“There is precedent for Starfleet security to allow the Council to remain ignorant of attack plans before an actual attack commences…latest case would be the battle of Taurian shipyards, when a Klingon/Federation task force struck preemptively at the Dominion shipyards at the start of the war. I do believe that the High Council was not informed of the details until the strike had already commenced.” Spock noted. Kirk smiled at his first officer. They had only been in this timeline for a week and he was already an expert on current events. Spock never ceased to amaze him.

“What are you smiling at me for? I’m a doctor not a databank.” McCoy griped.

“Second prong will be to grab as much advanced technology as possible, hopefully we will be able to use Rebel Alliance resources to bolster our own technological base, but that’s a long term solution, for the short term I have a solution for our firepower gap.”

“What is it?” Loen asked.

“There was a device that I ran into during one of my missions that could boost our offensive capabilities greatly. As soon as we finish the counter attack I plan to mount an expedition to recover it.”

Togray stared in stunned silence at the detailed briefing, he also noted the interested expressions on many of the officers’ faces. He was winning them over without even trying. This was dangerous, very dangerous.

“Third we need to begin all out research to discover a way to link our galaxies in the hopes to either banish the Imperial forces back to their home galaxy or at the very least we can bring over more reinforcements and technology from the Rebel Alliance.”

“You are assuming that we will be able to reverse engineer this technology?” The Vulcan ambassador asked.

“Do you want to give up without even trying?” McCoy countered hotly.

“Who is that?” Togray demanded.

“Just a concerned citizen who’s wondering just what in the hell happened to my pension plan.” McCoy deadpanned.

“Gentlebeings, if you please…go on Kirk.” Loen interjected, impressed with this young Captain from another time.

“Fourth, we need to begin immediate assembly of bases and industrial centers in out of the way sectors. Currently Spock and I have identified several locations from which we can begin building shipyards and secret bases, among them the Badlands and an area known as the Briar Patch.”

“You think we can keep up the war effort with the heart of the Federation in Imperial hands?”

“I have always thought that we, as individuals are the heart of the Federation gentlemen.” Kirk replied seriously and many of the officers nodded emphatically. “As long as just one of us still draws breath, the Federation lives.”

Togray noted the quick change in the audience, many were standing and simply ignoring the council and beaming at Kirk.

Loen was about to speak but an aide rushed up to him and handed him a report. Togray decided to seize the initiative.

“Be that as it may Kirk, we do not believe that the Federation has the wherewithal to continue this war. To do so subjects billions of citizens to the horrors of war and starvation.”

“As opposed to the horrors of tyranny and oppression?” Leia countered.

“Admiral Ross?”

Ross stood up.

“Yes?”

“The High Counsel is directly ordering Starfleet to lay down their arms and begin operations to surrender to the Imperial Forces.”

Ross seemed visibly stricken by the order but he nodded slowly.

“Then I’m on my way.” Kirk announced and motioned to his staff which rose as one and began following him out.

“Where are you going?” Togray demanded.

“Sir, I am going to do what I swore an oath to do. I am going to defend the Federation to my dying breath and if that means cramming my staff into a shuttle and heading out, then that’s what I’m prepared to do…but I’ll be DAMNED if I’m going to lay down my arms when there is still life in these hands and love for the Federation in this heart.”

“This is the Federation telling you to surrender!” Togray thundered.

Kirk locked eyes with the Tellarite and shook his head.

“No sir, this is not the Federation. This is a group of tired and scared beings trying to stay alive. My Federation is here.” Kirk pounded his chest where his heart was.

“I demand that you halt this now!”

“Captain Kirk, the Sagan stands ready to assist you in this mission. It would be my honor to be your flagship sir.” Entebbe announced from the other side of the shuttle bay. The assembled captains began murmuring in alarm.

“What did you say?!”

“Captain Entebbe, your words are a court martial offense.” Ross warned.

“Sir, there won’t be a Starfleet in a few days if these council members have anything to say about it, so I say, tough.” Entebbe replied.

“Captain Kirk is going to need an escort for his flagship, the Endeavor stands ready, sir.” another captain rose up in the audience.

“The hell you say, the Georgetown is ready willing and able to defend the Federation sir!” another rose and soon dozens of captains were offering their ships. Kirk smiled softly, fighting back the tears in his eyes for the swelling pride in his chest was nearly overwhelming. This was the Starfleet he remembered.

“All of you are committing treason!” Togray bellowed.

Ross turned to Riker.

“Damnit Riker, the men respect you, do something.”

Riker nodded slowly and rose up, turning to face the assembly. He cleared his throat and looked out over the gathered captains, noting instead the absences, how many were not here that had started out on this journey, hundreds, dead or captured. He saw their ghosts sitting with them, staring at him expectantly.

“With all due respect to Captain Entebbe, I believe there is only one starship that Captain James Tiberius Kirk should EVER command from, and that is the USS Enterprise. I hereby resign my commission as captain and offer my ship as Captain Kirk’s flagship.” he announced.

Pandemonium broke out as the uncertain ones were suddenly galvanized and rose as one to join with Kirk.

Ross grabbed Riker’s arm.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?” he demanded.

“Yes sir, I’m saving the Federation.” Riker replied, for the first time since Baku, he felt clean.

“If I may.” Loen announced. The officers eventually settled down. “I hold here in my hand a statement from my government. I will summarize it thusly: The government of Andor hereby secedes from the United Federation of Planets.”

Togray’s jaw dropped and many other High Council members sat in absolute silence, the shock also included the assembled captains and officers.

“I have been authorized to give sanctuary protection and succor to any Starfleet forces, elements, ships and personnel for the war effort. Andor stands ready against the Galactic Empire. Come what may, we shall stand as one with Starfleet and we shall drive these black hearted bastards form our stars.”

The roar nearly tore the roof off the shuttle bay as Captains and officers shouted their approval. Togray screamed in anger and frustration and slumped into his seat in utter defeat.

Kirk nodded to Loen. Loen smiled in return.

“You see what he’s doing don’t you! He’s building a cult of personality!” Togray bellowed. “He’s as bad as the Empire, he is nothing more than a dictator in the making, mark me!” Togray continued.

“I see a hero from our past come to save our future, my Tellarite friend.” Loen answered and retreated from the High Council.

“Admiral.” Kirk asked.

Ross looked at Kirk.

“Come with us, we could use a commander like you. Don’t turn your back on us.” Kirk asked gently.

Ross smiled weakly.

“Captain, my place is here, with this Federation. I took a solemn oath to uphold the Federation and obey. Not MY concept of what the Federation should be, but what it is. What you did today, right or wrong, took us a step backwards to when our race believed might meant right and we nearly killed ourselves.”

“I respect that Admiral. But the way I see it, surrender is just another word for suicide in this context. I’m fighting to save the Federation.”

Ross nodded.

“I understand, but I will not be a party to this.”

Kirk nodded slowly understanding where Ross stood and respecting it. Kirk snapped Ross a sharp salute which he returned. As Kirk began to turn away, followed by a throng of Captains Ross called out.

“Kirk.”

He turned his head.

“All our hopes rest with you.”




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:16pm
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Chapter 23: Plans within plans


“We have confirmation that the vast majority of Klingon fleet elements have stood down ever since Lord Nemesis’ masterstroke of diplomatic genius won us the day in a single battle.” Branna reported.

Tarsi rolled his eyes. He glanced over at captains Jan Her of the Executioner and Vash of the Inexorable. The triumvirate all nodded to each other and smirked. Branna was renown for his ability to kiss ass with the best of them. I guess being flung across the universe and out of time had not effected that ability.

Tarsi knew better. He had served a brief stint under Vader during the blockade of Tatooine, one did not kiss up to a Sith Lord, one hoped that they survived a Sith Lord. He glanced down at his datapad. he was supposed to be writing notes on this briefing but he knew the situation all too well. He led the offensive on the Klingon empire, he had defeated every fleet they fielded against him. It was a route and despite their courage he hated them for their obstinence. Courage was one thing, suicidal resolve was another altogether. Even rebels surrendered when the battle was won, they did not send their ships into death dives against the enemy’s ships. He shook his head in disgust.

“However there is word that a small group of Klingon ships has fled into uncharted space and are massing. We believe that a rebellion is brewing within the Klingon empire. Small fleet elements have openly broken with their government and refused to accept the terms of our surrender.”

“Usually such defiance would earn the destruction of the capital world.” Mara added softly from her place at the back of the briefing room. Nemesis sat beside her quietly watching the proceeding. One of his eyes was black and blue, a bad bruise from his fight with the Klingons. Mara insisted that he get treatment and have it heal before many of the men saw it. She worried that the bruise would be seen as a sign of weakness.

Nemesis ignored her, despite the fact that using the force he could have healed the bruise in an hour of meditation. He understood these men better than she did, he also had his own plans in motion. The bruise was not seen as a sign of weakness, but many officers and particularly enlisted saw it as a sign of his unity and devotion with his crew. He had gone down there and faced a hundred raving Klingon warriors, some enlisted men had started a rumor that Nemesis had actually faced 500 Klingon warriors because they had ambushed him dishonorably, by the time the story had filtered back to the rear echelon and Romulan provincial fleets, the word was that the Klingons had emptied entire starships of crews to try and bring Nemesis down.

He was no longer the dread Sith lord who strode the halls looking for ways to kill people, he was one of them, a leader that cared enough for his men that he would rather face the threat alone than risk anymore Imperial lives. The first barest whispers had begun on Romulus. The emperor would not have done the same, Vader would not have done the same. Nemesis was a Sith lord of the people.

These whispers were quickly crushed by a ruthlessly efficient Imperial security, but the whispers were becoming persistent.

The bruise was not a sign of weakness, it was a declaration. This is what I have suffered for you and I would do so again without complaint.

Kittaine found himself admiring this young man from his seat directly to Nemesis’ left. He had united this fleet through some very dark times and they were tasting the sweet nectar of victory. A good portion of this galaxy was now in their hands.

“What news of the Federation collapse?” Nemesis asked quietly.

Branna nodded for a moment, shifting gears in his head from the Klingon situation to the Federation. The map on the wall winked to a close-up of Federation space. Wide swaths of green representing Imperial control filled up most of the cool blue Federation map.

“With the fall of Earth and the destruction of her central government, there was an initial wave of surrenders from some of the outlying worlds as well as some worlds in the center. We have absolute control of two of the founding worlds, Earth and Vulcan. The fall of Earth in particular triggered the seeming collapse of the Federation.”

“Seeming?”

Branna cleared his throat.

“It seems that there are rebel elements within the Federation that have refused to surrender to us. Chief among these is a world called Andor.” The map lit up to highlight the system in question. “Andor is currently providing rogue elements of Starfleet with supplies and ship building capabilities.”

“I see we have our new target.” Jan-Her smirked.

“Unfortunately this will not be as simple as we first thought.”

“Go on, Captain.” Kittaine urged.

“Andor has turned itself into a fortress world, they have laid mines between the main planet and its outermost worlds. Hundreds of system patrol craft are on constant patrol and there are numerous missile emplacements as well as a new type of drone ship we have never encountered before, essentially a flying bomb it is programmed to collide with a target causing maximum kinetic and explosive damage.”

“We also believe that much of their defenses are cloaked.” T’Vok spoke up for the first time in the briefing. He was looking happier and more content in his role. Victories had a way of doing that to men. Kittaine mused.

“Curious, T’Vok, I thought that there was a treaty with your government that did not allow the Federation to develop this cloaking technology.” Vash asked in his low whisper.

“The treaty of Algeron has been violated more times than we can count, many elements in Starfleet and Federation intelligence were never happy with the treaty, they realized that they were giving up an enormous tactical and strategic advantage. I always assumed that the deeper we probed Federation defenses the more of these supposed violations we would find. What troubles me is that we found no such examples until now.” T’Vok replied.

“The Andorians were planning to secede from the Federation.” Nemesis replied.

“My Lord, indeed they did. They seceded before issuing the proclamation that any Starfleet vessel seeking sanctuary would be welcomed in Andorian space.”

“No, Branna, the reason why they ARE a fortress world is because they were planning to secede from the Federation before we arrived.” Nemesis explained. Several of the captains exchanged puzzled expressions. Kittaine knew better. Nemesis intuition had proven 100% accurate so far in this little war and Kittaine had grudgingly accepted it as a valuable asset.

“Uh, I see.” Branna replied nonplussed.

Tarsi snorted.

“What is your strategic assessment of a strike against Andor, Admiral?” Nemesis asked.

Kittaine rubbed his chin slowly.

“It will be difficult, we would sustain heavy losses, particularly among our lighter ships which suffered heavy casualties during the battle for Earth.”

Some chairs were empty, a testament to the losses suffered among the lighter ships. Some stardestroyer captains nodded to themselves, there but for the grace of the emperor…but some like Tarsi shrugged. Such was war and if they were truly competent commanders they would have survived or they would have been commanding stardestroyers.

“Currently we are also facing a looming crisis regarding our starfighters. Our losses have been appalling, the enemy has quickly realized that our fighters do not have shields and have been concentrating much of their torpedo fire on our fighters. Some stardestroyers have lost 50% of their total fighter inventory.”

Nemesis nodded.

“Have we investigating retrofitting the fighters with shields?”

“That would be a good solution but time and resources are against us, to fashion shield generators small enough to fit on our fighters without significantly effecting weapons and speed performance is a task best suited for a dry-dock or research facility, not our limited hangar bays.”

“Not our shield systems, this galaxy’s shield systems. Their shuttles and small craft are all shielded.”

Kittaine wrinkled his face in distaste. “Their shield grids are primitive and frequency based, it would be utterly useless against rebellion starfighters.”

“But NOT against their own weapons.” Nemesis replied softly.

Kittaine slowly nodded.

“I see.”

“The fighters only need to be protected from the weapons systems that this galaxy sports and if their shields can protect their own craft from weapons, even limited protection is better than none. These ‘primitive’ shield grids would draw little power from our fighters’ reserves thus eliminating the problem of adverse impacts on their performance.”

“I will see to it that a squadron is retrofitted and field testing commence right away, my lord.”

Nemesis nodded and waved Kittaine to continue.

Mara watched him closely. When they had first come on board this fleet, Nemesis made it very clear that he wanted nothing to do with the officers or crew. He sealed himself in his room, appearing only in the most important briefings. But when they were brought into this galaxy, he seemed to flourish. He became the leader that she knew he was. As Luke Skywalker, he was one of the most important and visible leaders of the insipid rebellion. He was becoming as visible and as important to this fleet. She was uncertain how to feel about that.

There was a danger in this new attitude. She understood that in order to stabilize this infant Imperial province Nemesis needed to take the place of the emperor, but there was a difference here. She had worked with Vader, Vader never allowed anyone under his command forget who was truly in charge. Nemesis had barely mentioned the emperor in the last few days. At Romulus he was hailed as a hero of the people. She had seen holovids of rallies where thousands gathered and watched the replays of the BDZ of Quo’nos and the capture of Earth. They chanted his name and statues were being erected across many worlds.

This was not the way a servant of the empire should act. Oh, Nemesis made his show of protesting against the actions but there was never any violent reaction, never an order to arrest those that spoke his name as leader instead of the emperor. She could not accuse him of anything, because what he was doing made political sense. It just made her uneasy. Obviously she was the only one. Many of these officers were resigned to the fact that they were far from home and out of time. Many had made peace with the fact that they were never going to return and this galaxy was their new home…and how many were looking to Nemesis to be their new emperor.

Why was she so angry? Perhaps this was the only way. If everything was correct, they were thousands of years from home. The emperor was most likely long dead by now, the empire may have even collapsed. Why be angry at Nemesis fro creating a small piece of home in this galaxy?

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. He looked dashing in his black tunic and cape, he seemed to grow in stature since they arrived here. He was a natural leader and she had seen the way he tore those Klingons apart, the speed, the ferocity, Vader could never have done that.

She also remembered the kiss.

It sent a strange flutter through her belly. She fought down the feeling and pointedly ignored him.

“Our lighter ships have suffered heavy damage, quite frankly some require dry-docks to be brought back to full operational status.” Kittaine continued. “The Relentless is heavily damaged, her bridge was nearly destroyed, repair crews are trying to get the tower back in operational service, but current Federation shipyards are simply unable to handle such a project to my satisfaction.”

“What of Captain Belladonna?” Tarsi asked.

Vash glanced at his old friend. He knew that Tarsi and she had been lovers. He did not know whether they still were.

“She is still in the medical ward. Her injuries were quite severe.” Kittaine replied. “The Relentless will have to be pulled off the line until she can be repaired.”

“That is unacceptable.”

“My Lord, the Relentless has suffered extensive damage from our last engagement with the Borg, her engines were crippled and bridge tower nearly destroyed in the Battle for Earth. She is in no condition to keep on fighting, at least until there are some extensive repairs.”

Nemesis stared hard at Kittaine.

“We cannot allow the people of this galaxy to see any weakness, real or perceived, it will be destructive for us. We must use our greatest weapon, fear. Fear of this fleet will keep the other systems in line. Should we show that our ships can be taken off the line and we are afraid about losses then disorder will only grow.”

“What do you suggest we do, my lord?” Kittaine asked.

“Shift the Relentless to less stressful duty, have her patrol Vulcan space. Our lighter warships will split between Earth and Romulus. They will be repaired in the Romulan shipyards, the ones on duty at Earth will only have superficial repairs committed.”

“You don’t trust the Terran system?”

“Would you show your recently conquered foe how badly you’ve been hurt?” Nemesis asked pointedly.

T’Vok nodded.

“A strike against Andor is inadvisable at this time. Let us consolidate our holdings, regroup and repair then we will take that world by force.”

“I want a plan for an assault in my chambers by the end of the day. I will decide when we strike. I want to make one thing clear, we will not have a repeat of the diaster that Mon Calamari became. I will not allow the rebel Starfleet to find a safe haven in this galaxy. Is that clear?”

The assembled commanders nodded.

T’Vok cleared his throat.

“There is another matter which my government has asked me to relay to you.”

“Go on.”

“We realize that your fleet’s mobility is severely limited by our warp drive, Captain Tarsi could have advanced faster and further into the Klingon lines were his Romulan lines not forced to advance via warp drive.”

“Yes.”

“We are making a formal request of the Empire to provide us with some form of hyperdrive so that we can become a fully integrated portion of the fleet.”

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room. T’Vok forged ahead.

“Think of how differently the battle for Earth may have gone if you had our warbirds at your side, how fast tarsi would have cut through the Klingons with hyperdrive capable warbirds.”

“Frankly, Lord Nemesis, I could have been at Quo’nos in a single day instead of four.” Tarsi added.

Nemesis glanced between the men and exchanged a hooded gaze with Kittaine. Kittaine frowned slightly.

“I will grant your request. It is time the Romulans become true partners in this conquest.” Nemesis replied, there was shock on many commander’s faces. Tarsi nodded softly. He had no doubt that even if they gave these pointy eared bastards the finest hyperdrives in the galaxy, he could still destroy an armada of their so called warbirds with just the Adjudicator.

“Thank you my lord.” T’Vok replied and bowed his head deeply.

“There is something else that we may need to focus on quickly.” Vash added.

“What is it captain?”

“This prize is quickly becoming too large to hold onto. The fact is that many of these worlds that have surrendered to us do not have a single Imperial or Romulan soldier standing on their soil. This needs to be rectified immediately. It will become extremely difficult to maintain order, especially if this nascent rebellion gains any support.” Vash warned.

Nemesis smiled coolly.

“That will soon be rectified captain. Admiral T’Vok what is the status of Project Phoenix?”

“The first units will be operational in a week.”

“Excellent.”

The captains exchanged puzzled glances. All save Kittaine. He knew what this project Phoenix was and if it was successful, victory would be assured and a new province of the Empire would be secured forever.

“Admiral, I want one thing from our intelligence branch.”

“My lord.”

“Find out everything you can about a Captain James T. Kirk. I sense a threat growing from him.”

“We did some preliminary checking my lord…”

“And?” Nemesis pressed.

“According to all our inquiries and searches on surviving Starfleet databases Captain James T. Kirk has been dead for close to a hundred years.”

“What does that mean?” Mara asked incredulously.

“It means that we are facing a very dangerous thing.” Nemesis answered.

Mara and the others waited for Nemesis to complete his thought. Nemesis looked each of them in the eyes.

“We are going to be fighting a legend. Legends have ways of inspiring people, they have a way of growing, they are notoriously hard to kill.” Nemesis replied.

There was silence in the room. Tarsi grinned and turned to the rest of the triumvirate.

“I’ve never killed a legend before.” He stated with a hungry grin.






There was a bustle of movement in the large hangar bay. Troops and crewmen moved throughout the massive hangar bay, prepping shuttles, delta flyers and runabouts. Crates of supplies were quickly stacked and taken away by hover pods. Spray painted across the far wall of the hangar bay was a new slogan that had caught fire with the fleet. It was a slogan taken from Kirk’s impassioned speech, a speech that had grown to take epic proportions among the enlisted men.

There were three simple words painted in blue on the neat hangar bay walls. THE FEDERATION LIVES. No one knows who started the spray painting, but soon it appeared everywhere. The spray painted slogan was in engineering Jeffries tubes, turbo lift walls, and recently began appearing on the hulls of the starships.

In the large conference room of the Enterprise, James Kirk stood at the head of the table, a collection of officers filled the room to standing. A battle plan was projected on the wall behind Kirk.

“So our mission will not be easy, it requires precision planning, courage and a little luck.”

“Are you sure we can hold our position for as long as you need us to?” Riker asked.

“We have to hold it, Captain Riker. There is no other way. If this works, we will have delivered three simultaneous blows to the Empire. We’ll cripple their plans in the Alpha quadrant, particularly their research in wormholes, we will destroy one of their invincible warships and we will bring hope to those without it. We all know what’s going on in the rest of the Federation. The only world in the entire Federation that supports us fully is Andor. We need to provide more victories. The sad fact is that no one is going to support a cause that seems hopeless. Only victories bring that kind of support and the Empire has gone out of its way to project an aura of invincibility.”

“Considering that they have conquered the Romulan Empire, crippled the Klingon Empire and have captured the capital of the Federation, without suffering significant casualties I believe that this aura of invincibility is not a simple perception.” Data interjected.

“Thank you commander, Data.” Kirk replied wanly.

“He’s a wonder for morale ain’t he?” McCoy drawled from the back of the gathering. This drew some laughter from the assembly.

Data looked slightly confused.

“I was merely trying to show that the Empire’s perceived strength is not just a simple matter of luck or skill. Their technology is many orders of magnitude ahead of ours.” Data went on to explain. Riker put a hand on Data’s shoulder.

“Thanks Data, I think we grasp that.”

“Engineers, the key to our victory is in your hands.” Kirk went on and the battle plan behind him changed to a series of engineering schematics.

Geordi frowned as he took in the full depth of Kirk’s plan.

“That’s quite an order you’ve put in Captain. You want this done in two days?!” Geordie asked incredulously.

“Ours is not to question why…” Scotty muttered to Geordie with a good natured smile.

“Indeed I do. If we don’t have this done in two days, then we miss a window of opportunity. The Empire will have a full week to indoctrinate the population of the Federation on the Battle of Sector 001. A victory now will give us something to rebut the Imperial propaganda with.”

“Sir, if I may, it’s going to take a lot of engineers, men and equipment to build that many warp cores, adapt them to those objects…in fact, I’m not even sure a stable warp field will be able to form over that.”

“Captain, Commander LaForge is right, we are going to need more than just the engineering teams we have in this fleet.” Scotty added seriously. No one had ever done what Kirk planned, but doing the impossible was what Starfleet engineers were best at.

“What will you need?” Kirk asked.

“Every able bodied man in the fleet to help set this up.”

“You will have whatever you need. This.” He pointed to the schematic, his finger jabbing right into the hologram. “is the key, the very crux of our attack. If you can’t get this to work we might as well call this operation off now.”

“Captain, you have my word, if I have to haul them on my own back, it will be done.” Scotty vowed.

“Good. I’m also open to suggestion regarding the delivery service. I need a ship that is relatively small, atmospheric capable and can take a pounding. I’m not as familiar with the new class of starships available to me so if there’s something I’m missing.” Kirk asked looking out over the assembled officers.

“Looking at the objectives this ship is going to have, the only vessel that I think can even begin to do this job is our Defiant class escorts. They’re small, fast and they take a helluva beating.” Riker suggested.

“It is doubtful that the Defiant could survive multiple hits from Imperial weapons.” Data replied.

“This will be a difficult part of the mission, but we have found a way to help the vessel going in for the extraction.” Spock replied and held up a large rounded device. It was a clear globe with glowing lights and a control rod descending down from the globe.

“What is that?” a captain asked from the back.

“That is a Romulan cloaking device.” Captain Entebbe answered.

“How in the hell did we get our hands on one?” another captain exclaimed.

“Well, its actually not a new model. This cloaking device was liberated by me and my crew in a classified mission.”

“THAT cloaking device.” another captain breathed.

“Well, it WAS classified.” Kirk smirked.

“Captain Entebbe was kind enough to liberate this device from a Starfleet museum during the battle and passed it on to me.”

“You’re turning into a regular thief there Entebbe, first the tricobalt devices from the Starfleet Central Armory now this.” someone leaned in and whispered into Entebbe’s ear. Entebbe merely grinned. He was not an exciting man, he rarely took any chances, he liked things to remain status quo, but there was something about Kirk that made you want to do the unthinkable, to be daring. He never felt more alive than he did in these last few days.

“Although this cloaking device is not as advanced as the ones currently fielded by the Romulans it should provide the vessel with some protection during insertion.” Spock added.

“We’ll still have to drop the cloak to commence transporter operations.” another captain noted with worry.

“Correct. That’s why we need a ship that can take a pounding and still function.”

“Captain, we may not be dealing with standard planetary defense systems. The Empire could have upgraded their defenses, particularly around the facility.” Data pointed out.

“Captain, may I make a suggestion.” Leia spoke up for the first time. She was seated to the right of the head of the table. The gathering had given her a wide berth, partly out of respect, mostly because an eight foot tall Wookie was seated next to her.

“Go ahead, Princess.”

“I have a ship that should be able to suit your needs perfectly. Its fast, tough and has taken more of a pounding than you can imagine.”

“Oh?”

“She’s called the Millennium Falcon.” Leia replied. Chewbacca stiffened and his head whipped down to glare at her. Leia ignored him. “She’s one of the fastest ships in the Alliance fleet and she has military grade shielding and armor.”

“Sounds like what the doctor ordered.”

McCoy snorted.

“I doubt the ship has transporters.” Riker pointed out.

Kirk looked over at Scotty. Scott rolled his eyes and muttered angrily to himself.

“I’m sure Mr. Scott and Mr. LaForge can install transporters and the cloak onto your ship.”

“Is he always this demanding?” Geordi whispered to Scotty. Scott glanced over at the young engineer and smiled warmly.

“Lad, this man has not even begun to task us. Wait until he starts asking us to break the laws of physics.” Scott replied.

Geordi stared at Scott waiting for the joke, his jaw dropped as it became very clear that Scott was being totally serious.

“Then it is settled.”

“Not quite, sir. We’re going to need a pilot for the Falcon and I think that Lieutenant Tom Paris would be ideal.” Wedge interjected. Chewbacca barked something that sounded very negative.

“The universal translator having problems?” McCoy asked dryly.

“I’d say he’s intimidated it to leave his words as is.” Kirk muttered out of the corner of his mouth.

“Chewie, please.” Leia asked putting a hand on Chewbacca’s forearm. Chewbacca sighed deeply shaking his furry head.

“In the interests of cooperation between our people it would be best for all of us of Starfleet personnel began working alongside us in all aspects of our missions, even flying some of our ships.” Leia continued for Wedge. Tom sat next to Wes and he was suddenly in the spotlight. He looked as if he had not slept in days, but there was a smoldering anger in his eyes.

“It would be my honor to fly in this mission.” Paris replied mechanically. Wes glanced at his newfound friend with some concern. He had talked it over with Wedge and assured him that Tom had talent, real talent. Many of Rogue squadron were appalled by the Federation’s pilots use of touch pad controls and over reliance on computer assisted flight systems. It took a lot for Wes to convince Wedge that Tom was real pilot material. Wes just hoped that Tom snapped out of his funk in time for the mission.

“Alright.” Kirk replied, a little concerned by Paris’ demeanor.

“I think our briefing is adjourned until 0900 when we begin prewarp checks and final mission briefings to all departments. Captains, be honest with your crews, a lot of us are not coming back from this mission. The current threat level of the Imperial vessels is simply to high to believe that we will not suffer heavy casualties in this mission but I believe that it’s worth it.” Kirk said seriously. “Remember what we are fighting for, we took an oath to protect and defend the Federation and that’s what we’re doing. Nothing less can be asked of any of us.”

The assembled commanders nodded grimly and filed out of the room. Kirk sat back and sighed heavily as the last of the men were leaving.

“Mr. Paris?”

Tom stopped at the door and slowly turned around. Kirk motioned for him to come over. Tom did so.

“Let me give you some advice son. Get some sleep. In two days you’re going to be flying a ship you are unfamiliar with into the teeth of some planetary defenses with little or no support from any of us because we will be too busy trying to stay alive.” Kirk said softly.

Tom stared into Kirk’s eyes for a moment before replying.

“Sir, this mission is going to hurt the Empire, right?”

“Yes.”

Tom smiled softly. It was a shadowy smile, one Kirk had seen too many times from men that no longer cared about much of anything. “Then that’s all I need to know, sir.” Tom turned and walked away.

Kirk decided against saying anything else. Wes paused by Kirk’s seat.

“Sir, he lost his wife and child on Earth. It would not be the first time and certainly won’t be the last time the Empire has destroyed entire families, but Tom is a good pilot and he will do what he needs to do. I’ll see to it personally.”

“Friend of yours, Janson, is it?” McCoy asked.

“Yes sir.”

“I would see to his emotional well being more than his piloting and military skills right now. Anger and revenge have ways of making sure you get things done, but it leaves you empty inside, and that young man needs a friend right now more than he needs a combat mission.” McCoy counseled.

Wes nodded and left. Leia, Wedge, Spock, Riker, Data and McCoy remained in the room. Scotty and Geordi were the last to go and they were debating fiercely.

“No, we’ll need to bypass the plasma conduits at the junctions here and here if we want optimal warp performance.”

“Ach! That will make them nothing more than bombs waiting to explode!” Scotty snapped as they exited the room.

“So, what do you all think?” Kirk asked finally sitting down.

“It’s daring, but there are a lot of things that could go wrong, not to mention your method of destruction of a stardestroyer is…shall we say…unique.” Wedge offered.

“It has the virtue of never having been tried, so the Imperial forces won’t know what to expect.”

“It is also a fact that we don’t really know what will happen, we don’t know if it will crack their shields.” Riker countered darkly.

“I’ve run the equations several times with the help of your Mr. Data and it has more than enough energy to do so.” Spock replied.

Riker looked a little skeptical. He had gone toe to toe with these monsters and seen them take an enormous amount of punishment. It was hard to think that this simple plan would lay one of those behemoths low.

“I believe that we simply have no choice. Kirk is right, we need a victory and we need one now.” Leia added.

“I could use a little time alone. By the way, Captain Riker, thank you for letting me on board this ship. She is in every way as fine as the ship that I had in the past. She’s worthy of the name.” Kirk commented.

“The honor is mine sir, although I feel a little funny taking Mr. Spock’s place as your First Officer.”

“You proceed from a false assumption, Captain Riker, I am a Vulcan, I have no ego to bruise.” Spock replied.

“Just circuit boards and memory banks.” McCoy muttered.

“If you please, I have some things to discuss with my officers before I see to an inspection of the ship, I have a whole century’s worth of technology to get acquainted with in two days time.” Kirk said with a soft sigh.

“Of course Captain.” Riker said with a nod. The others said their respects and left. Leia lingered and smiled softly at him but Chewbacca suddenly grabbed her and dragged out of the room.

The doors slid shut leaving the three old friends alone.

“What is it, Jim? Something eating at you?” McCoy asked leaning in closely to see his old friend’s eyes.

“My God, Bones, what have I done?” Kirk asked in pain.

“What do you mean?” McCoy pressed. Spock did not look concerned, but his eyes narrowed on his stricken captain.

“I’ve read the reports, I’ve seen the combat footage from the battle, I’ve read Spock’s and Data’s analysis of their technology. This battle could be hopeless. I could be sending these fine people to fight and day without any hope.” Kirk lamented angrily and slammed his fist on the table.

“It’s one thing for me to go on and challenge these bastards by myself, but to ask millions of these people to fight and die for a cause that we may have no chance of wining?”

“Jim, you’re doing what you’ve always done, you’re turning defeat into a fighting chance at victory.” Kirk did not look convinced. McCoy gripped Kirk’s shoulder. “Jim, we need hope, these people need hope. They were ready to surrender last night and you turned them around. I’ve seen that damned slogan painted everywhere, even on some of my diagnostic sheets. Its contagious, its powerful and you brought it to them. Whether we live or die is no longer important Jim. Military victory may not be possible, but at least we have not gone meekly to the slaughter, we’re not going to simply fade away. You did this through sheer force of will.”

“Jim.” Spock began. Kirk glanced over at his old friend. “They know.”

“What?”

“They know that there is little chance at victory. These people are not children easily swayed by rhetoric. They are seasoned Starfleet Captains. They know when victory is just out of reach. This is not a test of our military mettle, this is a test of who we are. Perhaps Jim, this is the Federation’s Kobayashi Maru.”

Kirk and McCoy stared at Spock, not expecting the words from their solemn friend. Spock slowly rose from his seat and gathered his datapad.

“When the time comes and we stand together on the bridge for this battle, I will know that whether we live or die, whether we win or lose, I stood with my friends and no force in the universe can stop that fact.” Spock stated and promptly turned on his heel and strode out of the room.

Kirk stared after Spock for a long moment.

“Could you believe it? That old hobgoblin out talked me. He came up with a more stirring speech than I did! That green blooded son of a bitch, he’s been holding out on us all these years.”

Kirk smiled in spite of himself.





“Do you realize what you’ve done?” Scotty asked in shock.

“What is it? Oh you mean compared to your warp core on the old Enterprise. Well, Mr. Scott there was a revolution in warp propulsion in the last twenty years. We found that if you shunt the matter stream directly through the core intermix chamber without the plasma manifolds acting as buffers, warp power increases 15% compared to the standard warp cores of your day.”

Scotty stared up at the massive intermix chamber, exposed for all the world to see rising up through several decks.

“And the plasma blowback?” he asked sullenly.

“Well, we deal with the ionization differently, we allow some of it to fill the core and keep the core superheated at all times, thus allowing us to do a cold restart in less than 5 minutes compared to the half hour it took in your day.”

“Let me get this straight, lad. You’ve stripped out every back up, every safety feature so that you could gain a 20% boost in warp power and you allow super heated plasma to remain suspended in the core, I can also see that the heat is an issue from all the coolant leads going into the core.” Scott noted with disdain.

“Yes?” Geordie asked not sure where Scott was going with this.

“You’ve got more power than we could generate in my day but I guarantee that you have warp core breaches.”

“Well, they do happen on occasion.” Geordie conceded.

“Lad, back in my day, a starship could have had every part of its hull blasted away and there would never be a danger of a warp core breech. In fact I have only seen a warp core breech twice in my entire career, BOTH were created in a lab for experimentation purposes. There was a reason why we did not do what you did. We knew the risks. You think this set up is a revolution in warp propulsion, lad? This is a design routinely rejected by Starfleet’s corps of Engineers for over ten years in my time.”

‘There was a change in thinking.” Geordi replied weakly.

“Obviously.” Scott grimaced. “Safety was no longer a concern.”

“No, we simply developed the safety features needed to finally fully realize this design.”

Scott frowned. Some things had not changed for the better.

“Well come lad, we have some warp cores to build and set up.”

“Not to mention a transporter system to install in this Millennium Hawk.”

“Falcon.”

“Huh?”

“I believe the wee lass said Millennium Falcon.”

“What kind of name is that for a ship.” Geordie asked as they passed into the next access way.




Jim sat alone in the cool darkness of the conference room. Only a single light illuminated his place as he thought long and hard on what Spock said.

The doors to the conference room slid open. A small figure walked in.

“Yes?” Kirk asked softly.

“Jim, we need to talk.” Leia replied. Kirk nodded to an empty seat beside him. Leia slid in and examined him in the low light. He seemed tired and worn. She had seen that face on so many rebel commanders on the eve of a great battle. The last time she saw that face was on General Riekeen when it became obvious that they would have to abandon Hoth.

“What is it, Leia?”

“I want you to have something.”

Kirk looked at her expectantly. Leia hesitantly slipped a hand into her tunic and pulled out a strange object. It was a silver handle, it resembled a flashlight. Kirk’s curiosity was peaked.

“This is for you.” she slowly placed it in front of him. The silver handle had several buttons on the side, some scratches were clear on the surface indicating some heavy use but otherwise it looked pristine and new.

“What is it?” he asked slowly picking it up, surprised at how light it was.

“A lightsaber.”

“Lightsaber?” one of his fingers slid over to what looked like an activation button.

“Careful.” Leia cautioned. “It’s a sword.”

“A sword?”

He touched the button and there was a snap hiss. A cool blue blade lanced out of the handle and hummed. His eyes widened as he moved the lightsaber slightly and was rewarded with a strange resonant humming with each stroke of the blade. He felt no weight from the blade but it was obvious that the blade itself was solid.

He deactivated the weapon and reverently placed it back on the table.

“I’m sorry Leia, but we don’t use melee weapons in Starfleet, I would have no idea how to use this thing without killing myself.”

“No, its not for you to use as a weapon, it is for you to use as a symbol.”

“Come again.”

“The lightsaber is the symbol of the Jedi knights. They were guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic, before the Empire took over. My people look to them as a symbol of freedom and the lightsaber is a strong link to that past. They are rare objects. This one belonged to Luke.”

Kirk froze.

“You mean nemesis?”

“No, I mean Luke. Nemesis is NOT Luke. He is a creature, a slave to the Emperor. Luke Skywalker, Jedi knight and hero of the Alliance wielded this lightsaber in the name of freedom. I want to see you wear this saber as a testament to the hero that Luke was and the hero that you obviously are.”

“I’m no hero, Leia.”

“I said those exact same words long ago, Jim. I’m asking you to do this to help seal the alliance between our people.”

“This would have nothing to do with the fact that Nemesis might see me wearing this?” he asked suspiciously, eyeing the weapon.

“I have my reasons, but it would do well for you to wear this. My people would be more attached to you as a commander.”

“I have never been one to attach much value to things granting anyone anymore ability to command than their own will.”

“Please.” Leia pressed.

Kirk slowly looked from Leia to the lightsaber.

“I’ll do it.” he finally answered and took the lightsaber off the table. Leia smiled.

“Thank you.”

“I take it you don’t like to lose.” Kirk noted with a wry smile.

“You don’t know the half of it, Captain.” Leia replied wanly. “Just getting that saber took a lot of trouble. I personally led the commando raid on the ship carrying this back to Coruscant.”

“Maybe you can tell me the story over dinner. I’m famished.”

Leia smiled hesitantly.

“You know there’s a certain Wookie who would tear your arms off if he knew you were asking me to dinner.”

Kirk smiled a boyish grin and offered her his arm.

“This is one instance where I just might not let the Wookie win.”

Leia laughed feeling happy for the first time in a long while. Kirk hefted the lightsaber hesitantly and clipped it on his utility belt. He wondered what the future held in store. As they stepped out of the conference room large blue letters were sprayed across the corridor.

THE FEDERATION LIVES




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:17pm
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Chapter 24: Where Angels Fear Tread Part 1


Nemesis floated serenely in his meditation chamber. He was alone in the cool darkness. He ignored the part of him that wished that Mara was with him. He missed her eyes, the way they regarded him with a confused mix of anger suspicion and growing attraction. Those thoughts were shoved away like so much flotsam into the void of his mind.

His thoughts were focused on a search.

His will was loose, moving through the stars like a predator, stalking among worlds, silently creeping through nebula. He would find his prey, the dark side was not be denied. There was no one left to hide them, no one that could oppose his will. The last of the Jedi was gone.

“Why wish you become Jedi, hmmm?”

“Mostly because of my father.”

“Father? Hmmm..powerful Jedi was he…POWERFUL Jedi.”

He flashed through a binary system, passing over a barren lifeless world. Only mounds of fine yellowish sand and harsh granite mountains.

“You know I think my eyes are getting better, instead of a big dark blur I see a big light blur.”

“You’re not missing much, I used to live here you know.”

“You’re going to die here, you know. Real convenient.”

He paused. This was not a memory.

“Always in motion is the future.”

He continued, feeling the light pulling him close, calling to him now. He was very close. He passed through a maelstrom of comets in a thick cloud of primordial gases. He could feel it moving now relative to him and his eyes pierced the interstellar distances.

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”

He froze at the cold reptilian voice. It was so close. Closer than he had ever felt it. Why?

Suddenly he found looking at a man he had never seen before. Light blue skin and red eyes, red like blood glowing in the darkness, a pressed white uniform, so white it hurt to look at it.

“Lord Darth Nemesis I presume.”

The stranger was lost in a whirl of fire and smoke and he was thrown clear into another dark void where he heard a soft singing, like a child’s.

“This one a long time have I watched.”

“Something about this place…like something out of a dream.”

“Always looking away, never his mind on where he was…”

“If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”

“I hate the sand.” Something about that voice.

“What he was doing.”

“This is Red Five I’m going in.”

“Master Qui Gon told me to stay in this cockpit and that’s what I’m going to do.”

The singing stopped and he heard a soft voice speak in the shadows.

“Must they be separated?” the sorrow was palpable and there was something soothing in the voice, but there was steel there as well. Why did he think of Leia when he heard this voice?

“It is for the good of us all, senator.” he KNEW that voice. The lying one, the old wizard without honor.

Then he felt her. Closer than ever, close enough to touch and his eyes locked on the light. It was sailing through the stars like an angel. He approached.

“Why are you moving Leia? Where are you going?” he asked softly.

His vision focused on her, she was standing in the void moving quickly, stars flashing around her. She was not alone. He stood in the center of a swarm of fireflies, they were all moving as one through the darkness, racing to a destination. He looked around himself, bathed in their eerie light. They flashed by intent on their target.

“Where are you going?” he asked. She seemed to hear him and turned her head slightly. She was so beautiful. He wanted no harm to come to her.

“You will have to kill them all. They lied to you, they tried to forge you into a weapon of patricide. Their fear ruled them and in their fear they made you hate your own blood. They all must be made to pay.” the cold voice whispered to him as he stood before the throne, his father at his side, the hand still fresh, he kept clutching it reflexively, uncertain that it could be real. It felt like his old hand. His father’s hand on his shoulder. His father’s black gauntleted mechanical hand. Like mine.

“She never lied to me.” he thought to himself, they would all pay, the lying old wizard, the half crazed Jedi master in his awful muck encrusted world, the leaders of the Alliance that used him like a puppet. Everyone but her.

He held on to this through all the training, throughout his descent into anger and darkness. Her face always hovered just within reach.

“Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?”

“Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

“Who is she, she’s beautiful.”

He paused, realization slowly dawning as the swarm of light shifted vectors and closed in on a world, a harsh arid world. A world firmly in control of the Empire.

“You don’t dare!” he hissed and snapped out of his meditative trance. He dropped down from his floating position and his bare feet slapped against the cold metallic floor as he raced to the comlink. He punched the combutton.

“Admiral Kittaine!”

“My Lord?” The Admiral’s face flashed up on the screen.

“Have the Adjudicator, Executioner and Inexorable jump to hyperspace immediately. Tell them to set course for Vulcan!” he snapped.

“Immediately my lord.” Kittaine replied without hesitation and began issuing the recall orders for the fighters and shuttles.

“No Admiral! Do not issue recall orders, just tell them to jump NOW.”

“But My lord, they will need their full fighter complements, it is standard procedure.”

“Admiral if the triumvirate is not in hyperspace by the time I come up on the bridge you will be replaced…permanently.”

Kittaine swallowed softly.

“At once My lord.”

The screen winked out and Nemesis cursed to himself. Damn them. Damn Starfleet. Didn’t they know when they were beaten?




“All systems are go. We have a lock on Vulcan’s nav beacon. Picking up a single Imperial warship tentatively identified as the Relentless, also picking up a fleet of Romulan warbirds, tentatively identified as the 47th Tactical fleet.” Data reported.

“One of the elite Romulan fleets, they butchered the Dominion in the few engagements they were in.” Riker warned Kirk.

Kirk nodded. He glanced down at the tactical display on the armrest of his command chair. It certainly beat leaning over to look at the display by Sulu’s station back on his old ship. Sulu was at the helm, Chekov at the navigational station. It was comforting. His men had been trained for their stations with the new displays over the last two days. He would not go into battle without these men.

“Send to commanders of tow wing, have them drop out of warp and deliver their payload.”

“Acknowledged.”

Even Uhura was at her post. Kirk suspected that no one wanted to say no to a request from his crew to take their traditional station even though this was not his ship. He could feel the ship’s power rattling slightly in the frame of his chair. It was not the same as his Enterprise, where the deck plates creaked with each warp factor, this ship was far more solid.

A dozen starships dropped out of warp, their tractor beams immediately winked off and their payloads slowly coasted through space at a set speed and trajectory. The starships immediately went back to warp, eager to stay with the rest of the fleet. One of the ships, a Nebula had a large painted message on its sensor pod. THE FEDERATION LIVES. At this point, even the Captains were quietly giving permission to the men to do as they wished with the signs.

“Payloads delivered.” Riker reported proudly. So far the fleet was gelling together like clockwork, despite the fact that they were currently comprised of a hodge podge of three different fleets. Kirk had drilled them mercilessly over the last two days, and word had it that the engineering staff was completely exhausted but exhilarated. They felt like they were finally accomplishing something.

“Time to attack?”

“One minute, sixteen seconds.”

“Spock?”

“All systems are nominal. The Relentless has picked us up on her scanners, they are going to red alert, I am detecting fighters scrambling.”

“Alert all commands, deploy our own fighters.” Kirk ordered.

Riker nodded and inputted the command codes. Along the wall of moving ships, hangar bays opened and Delta Flyers and Runabouts suddenly swarmed out in organized wings.

“Picking up tachyon emissions, I believe that there are more Romulan ships cloaked in near orbit, perhaps another wing at least.” Spock warned.

“Makes the party much more interesting. Signal the Reckless Hope, they are to crash the party as scheduled as soon as we transmit relevant telemetry.”

Riker nodded. This was a different command style then Picard’s. Kirk’s mind was working on several levels at once yet focused on the overall goal. There was a quiet confidence from him that put Riker’s mind at ease. Despite the fact that they were going right into the teeth of Imperial defenses.

“Picking up heavy weapons fire from the Relentless.” Spock glanced up at Kirk with some alarm. “They are heavily saturating the space of our entry point with heavy fire.”

“We adapt our plans Mr. Spock, we come out on the far side of Vulcan.”

“Captain, we don’t know what’s on the far side of Vulcan.” Riker warned.

“I do know what’s waiting for us at the insertion point.” Kirk countered.

The fleet continued on and emerged from warp space on the far side of Vulcan. Hundreds of starships wheeled around and released a devastating volley of fire all concentrated on the warbirds nearest them. They erupted in a storm of dying warp cores, plasma clouds expanded outward.

The fleet quickly formed up into attack wings, the fighters moving out in aggressive pincer like formations.

“Relentless is slowly turning to engage, her weapons fire however is switching to us quickly.”

“She looks hurt.” Riker noted.

Kirk nodded slowly watching the massive warship turn slowly, one of her large engine nozzles was completely dark and the other two were flickering strongly as she moved. Green turbolaser bolts streaked from her numerous turrets which were swinging around and acquiring the fleet far faster than he had anticipated.

“Let’s get into the action, wings 4 and 6, begin attack on Romulan left flank, fighter wings gamma and theta move in support, keep their fighters away from our big guns. Galaxy wings commence long range attack on Relentless.”

“Acknowledged.”

“Copy that Enterprise.”

“Spock, do we have a clear picture of the battlefield?”

“Yes sir, I have the site locked in.”

“Uhura, tight beam transmission to the Reckless Hope, tell them to standby on my command.”

“Yes sir.”

“Captain, a wing of warbirds is coming around from the other side of Vulcan. They are engaging rear elements.” Riker reported.

“Have rear guard elements engage, detach the Venture and the Farragut from our Galaxy wings for support.” Kirk glanced at his tactical display, noting the quiet ballet unfolding as ships began moving in intricate patterns to his plan. The Romulans were collapsing around them quickly.

“I see they haven’t changed their tactics much in a hundred years.” Kirk mused softly.

“Sir?” Riker asked.

“They’re using a variation of the Typhon englobement, I hear that they even used this type of strategy back during the Earth-Romulan war. It works wonders but when you know it’s coming…” he paused. “Uhura, signal the Reckless Hope. All Sovereign and Nebula wings, target lead elements in sector 1138.”

The fleet elements engaged the Romulans closing the englobement, walls of torpedo and phaser fire exploded among the lead elements of the Romulan wing. Warbirds exploded under the withering assault, as they tried to regroup, the Reckless Hope, guided in by the precise telemetry from the Enterprise, flashed into position directly in the center of the reforming lines. Her weapons fire rained down on the Romulan fleet elements as Rogue squadron raced through the hole and began engaging smaller Romulan ships with proton torpedoes.

“Okay, they now have to make a decision, continue the englobement, or try to drive the Reckless Hope off before our lines can get through their defensive perimeter.”

Riker watched Kirk’s mind at work, his eyes casually drifted down to the strange object clipped to his belt. The silver handle gleamed softly. When asked about it, Kirk shrugged and said it was a lightsaber. Whatever it was, the Alliance troops and pilots seem to react differently to it. they seemed to respect Kirk more, sit up straighter, many began looking on him as many in the Federation fleet did. Whatever this lightsaber was, it worked wonders for the Alliance morale. many had privately told Riker that they had little hope the Federation would survive for much longer, now they kept asking him who Kirk was.

“While they’re deciding,” Kirk glanced over at Spock.. “What’s the status of Falcon 1?”

“They have begun to enter the atmosphere of Vulcan and are beginning their descent to the target area.” Spock reported.





“Whoa!” Tom Paris exclaimed as the Millennium Falcon bounced hard on an air pocket. Chewbacca seated next to him grumbled something as he adjusted a few switches.

“You know, the universal translator works now, I KNOW what you said.” Tom replied tartly.

Chewie barked something obscene.

“Yeah, well no one told you to come along!” Tom retorted. Chewie turned to reply when his eyes widened and he jabbed a big hairy paw at the cockpit window. Tom turned and his own eyes widened. The Falcon was descending fast, right into the path of a weather station suspended on antigravity beams.

Tom yanked the controls hard and the Falcon skimmed by the surface of the station and continued down to the planet surface, the Vulcan capital was looming up on the screen. White puffs were appearing far off to their starboard. At first they seemed like clouds but they were far more ominous.

“My word, those look like plasma bursts.” Threepio commented as he stuck his head into the cockpit.

“You’re perceptive. Those are planetary defense batteries.” Tom clicked a comlink button. At least he thought it was a comlink button. In fact pressure dropped in the starboard plasma conduit sending an alarm signal buzzing incessantly in the cockpit. Chewie snorted and switched it off.

“There’s a lot of buttons and switches in here. If you had a computer interface or an ergonomic cockpit, maybe these mistakes wouldn’t happen.” Tom replied slightly embarrassed as he flipped the right switch.

“Mr. Scott, is the cloak working? We’re getting some planetary defense fire up here, that tells me that they at least suspect we’re inbound.”

“Lad, this cloak is nearly a hundred years out of date, even with Spock and my calibrations, military sensors are going to pick something up.” Scotty replied.

“You’re a comfort.”

“Sir, if I may be so bold, perhaps if you attended more of the briefings over the last few days, this would not be an issue for you.” Threepio suggested helpfully.

Tom turned his head back and glared at the protocol droid.

“You know…I DON’T like you.” Tom spat and turned his attention back to the flight. The Falcon’s steep descent leveled off now as they approached the city low and fast. The puffs of plasma bursts were slowly marching down to them.

“They have a bead on our position, they’re adjusting fire AND it looks like Wedge was right, the Impies have set up plasma anti air batteries around key sites.” Tom muttered.

Chewie reported something as he adjusted engine power and began cycling transporter controls. It was a new system installed on the Falcon and Chewie knew that the Falcon was never thrilled about having anything new installed. Scotty nearly had a fit when he was first shown the inner workings of the Falcon. Aside from being a little overwhelmed by some of the systems he was unfamiliar with, he was astounded at the amount of cross wiring and modifications. Scotty even pointed out that some of the power leads were feeding through the same junction into seventeen different systems. A military grade shield generation was cross wired with a black market sensor network, junctioned to the waste reclamation network. Scotty stated quite seriously that he did not think the falcon would fly.

He was very nearly right.

When the transporter was first installed the Falcon’s hypermatter reactor went into an uncontrolled scram. The second time they brought it online, everything shorted out and they nearly fried the sensor net. Third time was the charm, but Chewie was watching everything, because he knew that when things got hairy, no one had a CLUE what the amalgamation of Starfleet technology and the Falcon’s systems would do.

“Transporter is online.” Scotty reported. The plan had called for the transporter to be controlled by Chewie or Tom at the moment of truth. After installation, Scotty insisted that he be along for the ride. As they crossed into the city under an increasing cloud of fire, Tom was thankful for Scotty’s foresight. The falcon began shaking.

“Chewie, I’m going to try and take us lower, keep the facility sighted, we’re going to need to get right over it if we’re to overcome the transporter scattering field.” Tom stated as he eased the Falcon down, mindful of the responsiveness of the craft. When he was first shown the ship Tom nearly guffawed. He had seen decommissioned Ore freighters with more grace. When he first flew her, only the Delta Flyer was more responsive, and now after more hours in the cockpit, he realized that this ungainly beast could probably out fly any ship in the Federation.

Chewie noted with some approval how low Tom took them. The Falcon’s belly was nearly scraping over low rise buildings and they kept underneath the descending cloud of plasma flak. The facility was just growing on the horizon, the main science center of all of Vulcan.

Chewie noted something and his eyes narrowed on the warning display. He barked a warning and the Falcon shook violently as green laser bolts snapped by them.

“Fighters?! They vectored in fighters?” Tom snapped the right com switch. “Wes, it’s your show.”

“I’m on it, Tom. As you’re fond of saying in this galaxy, I got your back.”

“Scotty, this cloak is officially a stinker.” Tom added.

“Without this cloak lad, we would have been scrap back a few hundred kilometers during our descent. Now stop whining and fly this ship while I tend to our coming guests.” Scotty replied.

The guns of the Falcon came to life, Wes Janson was in the dorsal gun bay, and he swung the quad laser cannons over at the two pursuing TIE fighters. They were obviously not clear on where the Falcon was. The fighters were firing down a blind pattern in the hopes of hitting the Falcon.

Wes carefully lines up his shots, he knew that if he started spraying blindly, the TIEs would simply lock in on his weapon signature. He needed to preserve his advantage as long as possible.

His first shot was right on the money. The TIE disappeared in a cloud of fire and debris. The second TIE quickly peeled away and took cover behind some buildings as they continued their flight down one of Vulcan’s promenades. He could see crowds slowly gathering along the streets and people standing on roof tops to see the battle unfolding in the stars above, oblivious to their own mission.

“Okay Artoo, time for you to do your stuff.” Tom ordered with a grin. He was getting the hang of this as he sent the Falcon pirouetting over a steep embankment that led into a crevice. A long spindly bridge spanned the crevice, considered a landmark of the capital, the bridge stood since the time of Surak. Tom sent the Falcon spinning around the bridge in a spiral. Chewie eyed the young Federation pilot.

He grunted something. Tom did not look away but a soft smile came to his lips.

“Thanks, Chewie, couldn’t do this without you buddy.” He replied.

“Tom, we got more fighters inbound, as well as Vulcan atmospheric shuttles. Do we have permission to fire on the Vulcan craft?”

Tom blinked for a moment. He had not been told what the rules of engagement were on Vulcans. He decided that there was no other choice.

“Wes, hit 'em if you have to.”

“Roger that.”

Artoo beeped a long string of tones.

“Artoo says that he has penetrated the Vulcan science facility’s mainframe and is trying to bring down the scattering field.”

“Never mind that, what about the targets?”

Artoo whistled a short reply.

“He says that they are just all returning from a briefing. Interior scanners account for all of them,” a short sing songy snort from Artoo. “As well as six more life readings that are most likely Imperial troops.”

“The more the merrier.” Tom replied as the Falcon crossed a large open park. A plasma cannon squatted in the center of the park.

“Oh my g-“

The plasma cannon began firing laying down a thick flak nearly on top of itself and the Falcon nearly shook itself apart as some of the blasts exploded directly in the Falcon’s path. There was no time to do anything but Tom grit his teeth and sent the Falcon through the thick cloud of plasma.





The Enterprise shook from more heavy fire as the Relentless advanced in support of its Romulan allies.

“Galaxy wing 27 reports heavy damage, they’re requesting to remain in position to clear the retreat of attack wing 4.”

“Tell Galaxy wing 27 to fall back, it’s time to release the hounds.”

“Aye sir.” Riker replied with a grin.

From the center of the fleet a horde of small starships suddenly leapt forward and raced away from the main fleet formation. They were a mix of Steamrunners, Sabers and Defiant class ships making their way through the shattered Romulan lines and attacking all targets of opportunity, their small size and speed their greatest asset at this point. A wing of the smaller ships, led by several Defiants made a direct attack run on the Relentless.

Sovereigns reigned supreme on the Federation left flank, decimating any Romulan warbirds that dared challenge the Federation left. On the right, The Galaxy’s anchored that line, taking withering fire from the Relentless and the Romulans, but they were holding. The center stood strong, the smaller ships congregated near the center, waiting to exploit opportunities that only the big ships could open. As soon as a hole opened in the Romulan lines, a wing of the ‘hounds’ screamed through the hole and attacked the Romulan rear and flanks.

The Relentless continued closing on the Federation fleet, firing into the lines. The incoming wing of small craft suddenly began attacking the stardestroyer along the areas with least weapons coverage as the rebel pilots had trained them. The Defiants in particular bobbed and wove their way through the Relentless’ superstructure, firing their pulsed phasers in unison at the ship and unloading with quantum torpedoes.

The attack runs were having their desired effect as the Relentless was forced to divert some of its staggering firepower to the small gnats swarming around her.

“Relentless attack wing, this is the Reckless Hope, we’re picking up shield fluctuations along the tower. Concentrate what attacks you can on the tower.”

“Copy that Reckless Hope.”

Kirk watched as a Nebula slowly dropped out of fleet formation, it’s starboard nacelle gone and part of its sensor pod sheared away by turbolaser fire. An Excelsior class ship erupted into a small sun on the lower right flank as a small wedge of fighters and TIE Bombers flashed by.

“Have reserve fighter squadron Epsilon drop off and engage the fighters in our midst. Bring the Tac fighters in closer, tell them to concentrate their attacks on Romulan squadron 12 and 14. Have Captain Jesen fall back to cover the Tac Fighters.”

“Aye sir.”

“Sir, Falcon 1 reports they are in position.”

“Tell them to commence operations.” Kirk glanced up at the screen as a Galaxy class ship, heavily damaged, most of her saucer section on fire and port side nacelle reduced to a flaming wreck, rammed into a warbird that was trying to outflank her. Both ships exploded, but the blast wave and debris caught several more warbirds that were moving to exploit the breech.

“The Romulan fleet is beginning to pull back to the Relentless’ position.” Riker glanced up at Kirk, smile on his face. “They’re going into a defensive stance.”

“We need to exploit that immediately, this battle is for nothing if we don’t inflict more casualties, have reserve wings 9 and 10 commence immediate attack on the retreating Romulan elements, I want more fire brought to bear on the Relentless.”

“Sir, receiving tight beamed transmission from Princess Leia.”

“On screen.”

“Captain, we’re picking up fluctuations from the Relentless’ shield grid. She is more heavily damaged than we thought, we can press our advantage now.”

“Not yet, princess. This was not exactly what I had in mind.”

Leia looked confused.

“They’re shields are failing, we can take her down.” she stressed.

“I understand that, now follow my orders and have the Reckless Hope commence immediate attacks on the Relentless but withhold Rogue squadron, I need them to provide the fleet with a fighter screen.”

“Understood.” Leia replied, uncertain about this strategy. Someone warned her of something right before the transmission was to cut out. Leia turned back to the screen in alarm.

“Jim, we’re picking up multiple hyperspace emergence signatures. It looks like-“

Three stardestroyers emerged from hyperspace directly behind the Federation fleet. They exited hyperspace firing, their turbolaser fire rippling up the line of Federation ships, dozens exploded in waves.

“We have Imperial ships in our rear!” Riker exclaimed.

“Reorient fleet elements, attack vector sigma-Kirk. I want the Sovereigns front and center, tell the hounds to continue their attacks on the Relentless.”

“Sir, we’re receiving a signal from the Stardestroyer Adjudicator demanding that we stand down and surrender.” Uhura reported as fighters began to disgorge from the stardestroyers.

“Give them this message Uhura. From commander of Federation Task Force to commander of Imperial invasion fleet. Nuts.”

Sulu hid the smirk on his face. Riker’s face was twisted in confusion.

“Aye sir.” Uhura replied with a smile.

“Captain, we’re under heavy attack, I recommend immediate withdrawal to position 3 and cover the fleet as we go to warp. We did not count on facing four stardestroyers.” Riker whispered to Kirk as the fleet began to quickly reorient itself to Kirk’s new found orders. No one complained, or asked why. They simply did as they were told, confident that James Kirk would pull them through.

Kirk smiled at Riker.

“That’s where you’re wrong, number One, this is precisely what I’ve been waiting for.”

Riker blinked.

“What?”

Kirk frowned slightly as more starships exploded under the horrible fire of the stardestroyers.

“The only question becomes, can we hold the line long enough?”




“Woo Hoo!” Tom exclaimed and dodged another laser blast from a pursuing TIE fighter as they flashed between two enormous buildings on final approach to their objective. Chewie was busy keeping track of the various systems that needed an eye on them as they prepared for the most difficult part of their mission.

“Are they still there Artoo?”

Artoo whistled his reply.

“Artoo says that the Imperial security net has locked them in the main chamber.”

“Excellent, keep up the good work Wes! Scotty, it’s just about your turn to shine.”

“Ready.”

“This is going to get hairy in a second Chewie.” Tom glanced at his copilot for a moment. “No offense.” Chewie smirked. “We’re going to have to drop the cloak to start transporting.” The falcon roared over a weapons emplacement recently built on one of the science center’s observation towers. Tom frowned. “And they’re going to be able to get a good bead on us for a few seconds. So let’s try to keep this thing together.”

Chewie growled something as he began working some switched over his left side.

“Angle the deflectors? You can do that?”

Chewie went into a brief explanation as the Falcon finally coasted over the science center.

“Sir! Artoo has managed to disrupt the scattering field.”

“Well then, we’re in business.” Tom pulled a switch to his right and the Falcon suddenly shimmered into view hovering over the science center.

“Scotty, you’re a go!”

“What about the shields?”

“Chewie angled the deflectors to allow you to transport but still keep us covered.”

“Commencing transport.”

Suddenly the Falcon lurched to starboard with two hammer like blows that drove Tom into the cockpit’s side and Chewie howled in despair as the Falcon lurched again with another pair of hammer like blows.

“Defensive batteries aren’t wasting any time!” Tom exclaimed.

“Keep it still up there, I’m trying to energize the transporter.” Scotty shouted.

Another pair of hammer like blows and sparks jumped from one of the controls over Tom’s head.

A flashing caught his eyes.

“What’s that flashing?” he asked pointing to the warning light. Chewie slapped his hand away and howled something as he desperately got up and started flicking banks of switched to his left.

“That’s not good.” Tom replied and stared out the window as the defensive battery prepared to fire again.

“I’m having a problem with the transporter!” Scotty yelled.

Tom shook his head.

“It never rains but it pours.”

“Oh my, this is getting dangerous.” Threepio exclaimed in dismay.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-10-25 08:18pm
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Chapter 25: Where Angels Fear Tread part 2


“Nuts?!” Tarsi hissed as he glared at his XO.

“Yes sir. It was the single word response from the Federation fleet commander.” His XO explained hesitantly. He had the communications officer check three times before he approached Tarsi with the response.

“Do you know what this may mean?” Tarsi asked Xon.

Xon remained silent for a moment, lips pursed as he watched his homeworld filling half the viewport.

“My people and humans have had relations for over two centuries, yet there is much about them that we do not understand even now, and one of those is their use of language. It can be most frustrating.” Xon answered.

Tarsi stared at the cool Vulcan for a long moment. He did not trust the bastard, but he respected the intelligence.

Outside the battle played out through the viewports on the command bridge. An armada of starships was currently engaged in a vicious battle with the combined Imperial and Romulan forces. So far, the Federation forces had inflicted heavy casualties on the Romulan 47th Tactical Fleet, over 60% casualties at last check. The Relentless was in danger as well, her shields were currently failing and she was being swarmed by Federation light warships, most moving too fast for her guns to easily track.

Tarsi and the triumvirate were ordered to hyperspace by Nemesis himself and they had arrived just in time. Tarsi had seized the initiative and was currently ordering his fleet into the thick of the actions, using their overwhelming firepower to blast their way through the Federation lines.

“I want the flagship captured, identify it and immobilize it with a tractor beam.” Tarsi ordered.

“Of course, captain.”

“Sir, Federation lines are switching again, formation is wheeling around to 3747 mark 23.” The navigational officer reported.


“Match position and close with them damnit!” Tarsi strode over to the viewport and stared out at the Federation lines. Their ships were retreating in tight well disciplined formations. The line that was preparing to retreat covered the retreating line, ignoring the casualties inflicted by the advancing stardestroyers.

“They have suffered heavy losses since we arrived sir. Why don’t they break?”

Tarsi watched them finish their retreat and regroup. They had done this twice before already, trying to stay away from the stardestroyers and still inflicting casualties on the Romulans. The commander was smart, his fleet well disciplined. But he would not carry the day.

“He won’t let them.” Tarsi answered lowly as he watched turbolaser fire ripple down the federation lines, leaving a wreckage of dead and dying starships but still they fought on.

“Who sir?”

“Our mystery fleet commander.” Tarsi replied with a sneer. “We will break him of this right now. I want to close the gap, more power to the engines.”

“Aye sir.”

Tarsi watched his stardestroyer formation, the three of them as they had always done, in a tight wedge formation waded into the enemy, heedless of losses or challenge. He smiled softly. Nothing could stop them, he had Jan her to his left and Vash to his right and together they were unstoppable.

“Sir! Federation fleet is displacing again. 5712 mark 1.”

Tarsi grit his teeth.

“You are not getting away from me, you little bastard. Match course change and close us damn it. I will not let a flotilla of primitive warships outmaneuver us.”

“Of course captain.”

Xon noted something in the last coordinates and quietly calculated something in his head. He nodded slowly as if understanding and stood with hands clasped behind his back, staring out at his homeworld.







“Not Good, Chewie.” Tom reported as more warning lights sprang to life across his board. The falcon was rocked by another hammer blow. A fire erupted somewhere further into the ship, Tom could smell the acrid smoke of burning wiring.

“Scotty!”

“Energizing lad, this takes time ye know.”

“Scotty, just beam the whole room up, wide angled beam we simply can’t stand much more of this!” Tom ordered. A volley of bright red fire rippled down from the Falcon itself and struck the defensive turret that had been pounding on them. Its shields flared up.

“Sorry, Tom. But that defensive battery is too well shielded, it’s going to take a while to punch through.” Wes reported from the gunnery station.

Chewie started howling something and pointing to the sky, then to the ground. Tom followed his large hairy paw and saw a flight of TIE fighters followed closely by atmospheric shuttles descending on them. Below he saw white armored figures racing into the courtyard below. Some were toting large tubes that Tom had no doubt were actually anti aircraft weapons.

“Scotty things are about to get a lot more –“ The lights on the Falcon dimmed considerably and the engine noise died down. The ships seemed to quiver in the air for a moment and then just as suddenly everything was back to normal. Normal that was, for a ship under heavy attack.

“Transport complete. All targets accounted for including six Imperial troops.” Scotty reported with a soft sigh.

“Whatever you did, Scotty you are a miracle worker.”

“Lad, this whole mission is a miracle.”

Tom whirled around to Artoo just as the fighters made a pass on the Falcon, showering her with heavy fire. Wes responded in kind.

“Artoo, deposit Captain Kirk’s surprise package.”

Artoo beeped happily and his input jack spun excitedly as he accessed the science facility’s mainframe and deposited the gift.

“Scotty?”

“Beaming message beacon down…Alright lad we’re clear.”

“One more thing.” Tom said with a flourish and pulled a control. A small canister was launched from the Falcon and exploded against the front of the Science facility. The canister released a horde of nanites who instantly sprayed paint all over the wall where they landed in precise programmed patterns before they deactivated. The painted message blazed proudly on the front of the building in bright blue letters.

THE FEDERATION LIVES

“Chewie, let’s get out of here!” Tom exclaimed and pushed several controls forward. The Falcon responded admirably and rocketed forward. The defensive turret fired off another pair of shots that caught the Falcon in mid-flight as it began its ascent.

Tom was thrown forward in the cockpit and more warning lights, if that were possible, lit up. Tom groggily recovered and checked his status board. Every warning light he had been trained to look for, including some he had never seen before were brightly lit and flashing.

“Chewie?”

Chewbacca was busy keeping the Falcon steady. He howled his response.

“No shields? Damnitall, we’ll have to do this the hard way.” Tom replied and wrestled with the controls for a moment. The TIE fighters roared by, Wes’ guns following in a lethal stream of red laser fire.

“Everyone, hold tight, this is going to be bumpy.”

“Sir, you’re not going to do anything…rash are you?” Threepio asked hesitantly. Artoo whistled with encouragement.

“Don’t encourage him!” Threepio snapped.

Tom grinned and pulled back on the throttle and aimed high. The falcon suddenly rocketed straight upwards like an arrow. Chewie began adjustments to some controls and an eye on the threat display. The city fell away beneath them and there was only the harsh yellowish sky of Vulcan. Tom leaned forward in his seat, urging the Falcon to climb faster.

“We got company following us, I think I can keep them off our back.” Wes reported.

The Falcon shook violently and something exploded in the back. Chewie glanced at Tom.

“Mostly.” Wes apologized.

“Chewie, I need you up here, Artoo, go check out what’s still in one piece back there.”

Artoo whistled and immediately rolled towards the back. Threepio glanced from Tom to Artoo and deiced to follow Artoo to the back of the ship.

“Adventure, he said…excitement…what does a droid want with these things.” Threepio griped shaking his head as he disappeared into the bowels of the Falcon.

“She’ll hold together, right?” Tom asked. Chewie eyed him and did not reply as he started adjusting plasma pressure and trying to coax power into the shattered shield grid.

“Hear me baby, hold together.” Tom whispered as the stars began to fill the sky. He also saw the thermonuclear fireworks exploding in huge patterns of bright green and white. He knew that many of his friends were in the middle of the mess.

Suddenly several TIE fighters dove down from the shadows of space and began a series of strafing runs on the Falcon as she cleared the atmosphere. The cockpit rocked back and forth, the only response was Wes’ sole gun firing wildly at the swarm of TIE fighters they just ran into.

“This is Falcon 1 to attack fleet, we are under attack. We have completed mission but request assistance immediately.” Tom called frantically on the comlink as he sent the Falcon spinning along its axis and dodged another volley of green laser fire.







“Status?” Kirk asked with a rasp. Smoke was choking the bridge and he absently wiped blood from his brow with the gold sleeve of his uniform shirt. The bridge was on fire as damage control teams swarmed around the area and automatic fire suppression systems kicked in.

“We’re nominal, shields down to 35%. Engineering reports that main power is failing and we need time to reinforce the shields.” Riker reported.

“Time is a luxury we don’t have.” Kirk replied hotly. He glanced down at his tactical display.

“One more displacement and we’ll have him.” he whispered.

“Captain we’re losing starships by the dozens with every broadside of those stardestroyers, we must withdraw.” Riker urged.

“This mission, this war will be all for naught if we don’t hold the line. Just one more pass, Riker.”

“Sir, frankly I don’t know if this fleet will hold together for one more pass.”

“Captain, the Relentless’ shields have failed in the tower section, the hounds are concentrating their fire there.” Data reported.

“Excellent.”

“Captain, Falcon 1 is requesting immediate assistance. They have completed their objectives but report they are under heavy fighter attack.” Uhura reported holding the transceiver in her ear and squinting to listen. Despite the pandemonium on the bridge, Kirk could catch snippets of Tom’s harried pleas for help.

“Kirk frowned. His whole fleet was under heavy capital ship attack. He could not move ships off the line now, not when they were at the edge of victory.

“Rogue squadron.” he muttered as he realized he had that one untapped resource. “Pull them off the line and have them escort the Falcon until she jumps. Order the Reckless Hope to standby.”

“Aye sir.” Riker responded grimly.

“Fleet displace to…” Kirk glanced down at another display, a telemetry readout from the Sagan. The science vessel was currently tucked away at the launch point of his plan, using her powerful passive sensors to monitor the battle and give him a readout of where he was and where the Imperial fleet was. They were dancing together, he led the tango, the Imperial ships followed and so far they had been admirable partners, the wedge of ships was intent on closing with his lines and finishing them. He was intent on lining them up in a certain part of space, marked by a glowing red X on his display. One more displacement would bring them right in the middle of the cross hairs.

“6632 mark 90.”

“Aye sir.” Sulu responded without hesitation.

Kirk nodded grimly. He turned to Riker.

“Now we hold on.”

“For how long?” Riker pressed.

“Until we can drop the hammer.”







“Alright Rogues, we have our marching orders, let’s get over to the falcon.” Wedge ordered.

“Copy that Rogue leader.”

The X-wings quickly broke from the furballs they were involved in and began rocketing towards the Millennium Falcon which was desperately trying to claw its way out of Vulcan’s gravity well. The TIE fighters were simply not allowing it, all avenues of ascent were being cut off and the fighters were doing their best to hit the Falcon’s unprotected engines. They had not counted on the military grade hull plating that Han Solo had stolen from an Imperial scrap yard early on in his career and welded it onto vital parts of the Falcon. Despite how ugly the mismatched hull plating made his ship look the plating had saved his life and Chewbacca’s more time than he could count.

Now Tom Paris was quite glad that the plating was there as the falcon was rocked again by a strafing run.

“Wes, we could really use some marksmanship up there.”

“Funny that, I was about to say we could use something called evasive maneuvers down there.” Wes replied wanly without slipping a beat.

“Scotty, you wanna help Wes back there and take a gunnery station?” Tom called back.

“I’m an engineer not a fighter…but I’ll be damned if one of these Imperial sinners downs us after all the trouble I took putting this together.” Scotty replied and Tom could hear him climbing down into the belly guns.

“What are our chances if we try to hyper out of here now?” Tom asked.

Chewie howled something very negative.

“Well, what if we find a crack in the gravity well and hyper there?” Tom suggested.

Chewie glanced at him as if he were insane.

“Don’t look at me like that, I’ll have you know we once found a crack in the event horizon of a black hole.”

Chewie began chuckling in spite of their dire situation.

“What’s so funny?” Tom asked but his attention was drawn by a flight of TIE fighters trying to slip to the rear for another shot at the engines.

Tom yanked the controls hard and sent the Falcon into a controlled diving spin and whipped the freighter up and out of the dive at the last possible second before skipping off the atmosphere. The fighters were forced out of their attack trajectory.

“We can’t keep this up forever.” tom exclaimed.

Suddenly a TIE fighter exploded into a fiery blossom off to their starboard. Another had its solar panel sheared off by a crimson blast that sent the fighter spinning helplessly into Vulcan’s atmosphere.

“The cavalry has arrived!” Tom hooted.

“Falcon 1 this is Rogue leader, we are here to provide escort. Kindly get your butts into hyperspace as soon as possible. We have a fleet that is getting slaughtered back there and needs our help.” Wedge explained.

“Copy that Rogue leader, but before we can go, we have the little problem of a TIE fighter squadron inbound.” Tom explained bringing the Falcon back into an escape trajectory out of Vulcan’s gravity well.

Wedge smiled softly as his threat display picked up the fighters and tagged each of them for easy identification and weapons lock. He brought his fighter around in a high intercept trajectory.

“Just one squadron? They must have not heard of us.” Wedge said with a short laugh and half the X-wings peeled off as one and engaged the incoming TIEs, the rest of the Rogues were in tight formation with the Falcon.

“Chewie get us ready for hyperspace.”

Chewie nodded and slapped the young human on the shoulder.

“Yow!” Tom exclaimed but laughed as he rubbed his shoulder and grinned at the Wookie.

“You watch it furball or I’m going to put this foot up where no man has gone before.” Tom replied.

Chewie barked a short laugh.







“Falcon 1 is almost away. The package has been delivered into the Vulcan Science Institute’s mainframe.” Spock reported.

“Good, time for total penetration?”

“Three minutes.”

“Alright, prepare for final displacement, standby emergency warp drive, we’re getting out of here in an awful hurry.”

“Sir with all the heavy turbolaser flak fire out there, it will be difficult to engage warp drive.” Riker warned.

“I estimate that 40% of the fleet will not be able to initiate a stable warp field.” Data concurred.

“Soon those turbolaser blasts will not be an issue. Chekov, current position of Imperial stardestroyers.”

“Stardestroyers at 4727 Mark 12 and closing fast.” Chekov reported.

Kirk nodded and glanced own at his display. The stardestroyers were marching steadily and the first one was entering the cross hairs. They were closing fast, he needed to entice all three and there was only one way.

“We hold position here, transfer all power to weapons commence alpha strikes on the lead stardestroyer.”

“Sir?” Riker asked.

“You heard me Number One. Do it. Now.”

Riker nodded and nodded his head to the tactical officer. Soon the entire fleet started firing waves of Quantum torpedoes and concentrated phaser fire on the Adjudicator. The weapon detonations caused her forward shields to flare up.

Kirk grit his teeth as the stardestroyers began to return fire and more starships died but his eyes remained riveted on the tactical display. The second stardestroyer was in the cross hairs.

“Hold this line.” he ordered grimly as a console exploded behind him sending a crewman over a railing onto the floor.








“So he has finally lost his nerve. Now he decided to hold the line and stand toe to toe with us. The fool.” Tarsi whirled to his weapons officer.

“Tell all gunners to make each shot count, we will utter vaporize this line. Signal Jan-Her and Vash. I want the Inexorable and Executioner to continue the attack, bull into them, break their pathetic lines.”

“Aye sir.”

Tarsi felt the electric thrill of immanent victory. The Federation fleet commander was no fool, he knew that he was outmatched and he had maneuvered his fleet masterfully, keeping just within their own weapons range and forcing Tarsi to maneuver his ships for optimum fire coverage only to have the Federation fleet disengage again and start the whole dance over again. But Tarsi knew the bitter truth. This fleet engagement would be won or loss by numbers and the Federation fleet was currently being decimated and soon he would have no more fleet to displace.

He had no choice but to either run or make a stand. Unlike other Federation fleet commanders, this one had decided to make a stand. Tarsi would make sure he would pay for it.

He watched the tactical display as more of the Federation line vanished in balls of fire on the viewports. Computer generated lines indicated where they had displaced and the Imperial response. Tarsi’s eyes narrowed. There was something about the displacements, they were not simple maneuvers to get away from his ships. His head lowered as he leaned in closer to examine the display more closely.

Each displacement had positioned his fleet in a certain location, each location was brining him further away from Vulcan. Each displacement had slowly had him drift off the planetary plane. The last displacement now had his ships completely off the planetary plane and away from Vulcan altogether with only the void behind him. A competent commander would want to at least force Tarsi to fight with his back towards a gravity well, namely Vulcan to somewhat limit his maneuverability and of this fleet went to warp, it would limit Tarsi’s ability to pursue this close to a planetary gravity well.

The more he examined it the more he was convinced this was an orchestrated action on the fleet commander’s part. He was using his own fleet as bait, luring Tarsi into position. Into position for what was the primary question.

Tarsi traced a line between the Federation fleet and his own. He slowly continued the line back from his fleet into the empty space behind him.

“Xon? Would the Federation put your world in danger in order to win a victory?” Tarsi asked quietly, his wheels turning as he desperately tried to formulate why this was being orchestrated. Why was his fleet being maneuvered? There was no weapon that could hurt him…was there?

“Even during the height of the Dominion War, when several worlds were under occupation including Betazed, the Federation never undertook actions that would endanger the lives or property of Federation worlds.” Xon answered, his eyes strayed down to the tactical display.

Tarsi’s eyes widened.

“Tell Jan Her and Vash to break formation, emergency power to the engines!” Tarsi shouted.






On Vulcan another attack was taking place. A special virus created by Mr. Spock and Data was inserted into the Vulcan Science academy’s main computer by Artoo. The virus quickly spread through the entire memory core of the main computer hunting for any data that was even remotely connected to the wormhole project that the Imperials had initiated on Vulcan. The data was instantly consumed and a corrupted data stream was left behind. The virus moved quickly through the data cores and jumped from one system to the next, using Spock’s intimate knowledge of Vulcan computer architecture and Data’s storehouse of knowledge on how computers worked, they created a virus that was intelligent enough to mimic a far more inane bit of programming allowing it to jump through data portals and cores.

Soon the virus had expanded exponentially throughout the planet’s interconnected network, slicing and erasing all data concerning the project. Within a few minutes, an eternity in computer time, two thirds of the entire planet’s computer network had all relevant data wiped clean.

By the time the battle would be over, there would not remain a single portion of data or information regarding the research team’s work. The virus would enter a dormant stage and hide within various data nodes as an inconsequential bit of programming until a new data port was logged into the system that may have the data and the virus would launch itself again.

If the Imperials truly wanted to destroy the virus, Data and Spock made sure that the only reasonable way to make sure would be to commence a core dump of ALL of Vulcan’s computer systems. The loss in productivity would be enormous and so the blow against them would continue.







The three stardestroyers were in the center of his glowing crosshairs. Kirk turned to Spock.

“Mr. Spock. Drop the Hammer.”

Spock nodded and activated a series of controls on his panel. Lights lit up and a hyperbeam transmission was sent by the Enterprise.

“Sulu, prepare for emergency warp speed on my mark, inform the fleet to follow us out.”

“Aye sir.

The hyperbeam transmission was picked up and relayed by the Sagan to twelve control systems several thousand kilometers away. The control systems were slaved to a warp core. The warp cores were hastily constructed affairs, built for essentially a one way trip. The warp cores were built into a sturdy frame on the surface of a large asteroid. The smallest of the twelve asteroids was 150 meters in diameter and was composed of dense iron ore.

They were floating 63 million miles away from Vulcan on a set trajectory towards the planet. They were deposited there by the tow squadron of starships at the start of the battle.

The warp cores on the asteroids were powered up by the transmission and the only orders on their simple computer cores was ENGAGE.

The warp cores flared up and twelve asteroids went to warp towards their intended target. They crossed the distance in seconds as they accelerated to warp 9 and flashed into the battle field.

Kirk had positioned his fleet to be just beneath the incoming trajectory of the asteroids and the Imperial stardestroyers were right in their target path. Sitting right in the center of his bulls eye, the stardestroyers were now in the path of a hail of asteroids moving at supra-light speed.

They were under the hammer as Kirk called his invention.

The asteroids lacked even a rudimentary navigational control, there was no time, and to do so would require the construction of thrusters and impulse engines on the asteroids for what was to be a one way trip. The asteroids simply needed the momentum that the warp drive would grant them. The asteroids were positioned to travel in a straight line. It would be up to Kirk and his fleet to get the Imperial warships into position.

After several displacements to get them to follow, the Imperials were finally in position and Kirk dropped the hammer on them.

The asteroids flashed over the Federation fleet and struck the Imperial lines like stones from the sling of god. The Executioner was struck amidships by several asteroids, each one walked up the mighty vessel like machine gun bullets, exploding through the shields and tearing the hull open in a titanic explosion as irresistible force met immovable object. The last asteroid rocketed over the main hull and sheared off the control tower. There was a series of explosions that wracked the stardestroyer and it exploded into a blaze of divine light as the hypermatter reactor exploded, sending rings of fire out that tore through the Romulan lines, vaporizing the hapless warbirds in its path.

One asteroid cleanly missed the three stardestroyers and the Romulan lines only to crash into the bow of the Relentless, the very tip of the wounded warships arrow head shaped bow was utterly vaporized in a flash of plasma. The Relentless was slowly pushed to starboard by the blow, the mighty vessel’s damaged engines unable to compensate for the sudden change in momentum imparted by the blow.

The last of the hammer flashed by, one asteroid crashed into the belly of the Inexorable, her hangar bay disappeared in an explosion of twisted metal and molten rock. The Adjudicator, lit up by dozens of phaser blasts and quantum torpedo detonations was grazed by an asteroid over its first forecastle structure, shearing off part of the roof as the remnants of the shattered asteroid continued on into the void beyond.

The triumvirate was broken, the surviving stardestroyers broke formation for the first time in the many years they had fought together and a gaping hole had been opened in the lines.








“I said full evasive! All power to the engines, break formation as wide as possi-“ Tarsi was silenced by an awesome explosion to his left. The Executioner, which had been proudly protecting his left was gone, replaced by an enormous fireball. Huge rings of fire were emanating out in waves that were igniting the Romulan warbirds too close to the blast.

Tarsi had seen big ships explode, there was no doubt in his mind that the Executioner was gone.

“Jan-Her!” he shouted.

The Adjudicator was rocked by an enormous blast that sent Tarsi to the ground and the lights on the bridge dimmed momentarily. Alarms went off all over the ship and on the bridge, a deep warble that Tarsi had never heard before in live combat. A collision alarm.

“What happened?” he shouted as he got to his feet, looking to his right and saw the Inexorable’s belly engulfed in fire but the ship was still intact.

“Still trying to ascertain, sir!” his XO shouted over the alarms, many of the crews in the control pits were still struggling to get up, Tarsi could see the warning lights on many of their boards lit up.

He strode over to the viewport and saw a huge gash torn open on his forward forecastle, much of the top part of the hull had been scraped away, a trial of molten rock and glittering hot gasses were all that was left of whatever struck them.

“As best we can tell, captain, we’ve been struck by an object, a massive one at that.”

“A mass driver? Are you telling me we were struck by Federation mass drivers?!” Tarsi shouted anger welling up inside of him as he refused to look out the left portion of his viewport at the rapidly expanding cloud of debris and plasma that was all that was left of the mighty Executioner and his friend of over 20 years.

“The Federation lines?” he suddenly asked. He whirled to his tactical officer.

“I want all weapons fire on the Federation lines now!”

“Sir, the Federation fleet is going to warp.”

Tarsi wanted to strangle his tactical officer and his face turned crimson as he turned back to the viewport.

“Fire anyway, blast them before the rest go to warp.” Tarsi reached out and gripped his XO’s shoulder.

“I want recovery teams sent out to the Executioner’s position right away.” Tarsi asked, voice thick with emotion.

“Of course sir.” his XO replied softly.

“And raise Captain Vash.”

“Aye sir.”

Tarsi stared out at the screen as the last of the Federation ships leapt away at warp, leaving behind a shattered Imperial line.








“Yahoo!” Tom exclaimed as the destruction of the stardestroyers played out on his viewport.

Chewbacca grinned. Even in their galaxy, seeing the death of a stardestroyer was a rare sight indeed.

“I told you, Chewie! I told you Kirk would do something. That man is a legend. Not only will he kick Imperial ass up and down this galaxy but I’m sure he’ll have a lovely lady on each arm while he does it!” Tom crowed.

Chewbacca’s celebration paused as he heard those words and he innocently asked a question as he prepared the Millennium Falcon for light speed.

“Lady’s man? You have NO IDEA, Chewie, if you read his logs, this guy was meeting women across the galaxy. It’s an accomplishment I can respect.” Tom answered with a lecherous grin.

Chewbacca snorted softly as he indicated that they were ready to go to light speed. He ad Kirk would have to have an understanding. Chewbacca considered himself quite an adept diplomat. He chuckled to himself.

“What’s so funny?” Tom asked.

Chewie shrugged.

Tom smirked and pulled back the hyperdrive controls and the Millennium Falcon leapt out into a cascade of stars.






“Are you certain?” Vash asked in that quiet whisper of his. Tarsi nodded slowly. Vash was standing before him as a hologram.

“There were no survivors so far and the recovery teams hold no hope for finding any at all.” Tarsi answered coldly.

“Damn them.” Vash hissed.

“And you?”

“Our hangar bay is gone as far as we can tell, most of it was simply vaporized and I lost a lot of good men. Our damage control teams have everything under control. The Relentless is even more damaged now than she was before, I don’t know what is keeping that ship together.”

“She’s like her Captain, tough as neutronium with a heart of fire.” Tarsi answered softly.

“What do we tell Nemesis?” Vash asked pointedly.

Tarsi gripped his hands behind his back for a moment in thought.

“First thing’s first. We need to know how badly they hurt us. Find out why they were on the surface of Vulcan. If there is going to be bad news I want to give all to Nemesis at once. Secondly we need to regroup and find out more about this Federation fleet commander.”

“And then?”

“We tell Nemesis everything and hope that he is in a merciful mood.”

“That is reassuring.” Vash replied darkly.

“The thought of our deaths, particularly mine should be reassuring for that federation fleet commander.”

“Oh?”

Tarsi smiled like ice.

“Because if Nemesis does not kill me, I intend to hunt that bastard down to all ends of the universe, and when I am done…he will pray for death, Vash. I assure you of that.” Tarsi replied.








The cheers that erupted on the Enterprise’s bridge was a sharp contrast to the grim silence and moans of the wounded that pervaded the bridge during the tense moments near the end, when Kirk had ordered them to hold the line no matter the cost. When the hammer fell and the first stardestroyer simply vanished in a ball of plasma, there was shock, when the second stardestroyer was struck immediately afterwards, the shock turned to smiles of joy and the last of the stardestroyers was hit and the gaping hole in the lines opened the smiles became cheers as Kirk nodded to himself. He would have wanted all three stardestroyers destroyed but he was playing the odds, fill enough space with asteroids and he was bound to hit something, fortunately enough hit that he managed to take down one of the Empire’s supposedly invincible warships.

But he could not afford to celebrate. There were other things on his mind.

Data turned to Sulu, perplexed.

“What’s the matter, Data?” Sulu asked smiling broadly and clapping Chekov on the arm.

“I do not understand why we are celebrating.”

“Data, we took out one of their invulnerable warships, we damaged two others and we stole the heart of their wormhole research teams, I’d say this pretty much qualifies for a victory.” Sulu explained.

Data stared at Sulu for a moment, as if analyzing what he said.

“According to the last transmission from the fleet we estimate over 270 starships destroyed. If the casualties we have suffered in this single engagement are any indication of how the rest of this war will proceed I am doubtful that we can sustain this level of conflict.” Data explained. Sulu frowned slightly.

Kirk watched Data intently over fingers steepled on his chin. Riker smiled at Kirk.

“Congratulations, Captain!” Riker said exuberantly.

Kirk nodded absently. Data had spoken what occupied his mind. He had looked down at the tactical display. If they were going to call this a victory, then the war was going to be longer and bloodier than anyone could imagine and the dark question looming in Kirk’s mind was cold and simple.

Would they be able to last that long?




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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