"A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

UF: Stories written by users, both fanfics and original.

Moderator: LadyTevar

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

"A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-05-09 02:20am

The following is a reboot of a fic I used to write a long, long time ago. One that eventually evolved into TGG as we know it, hence some of the characters that appear. I almost changed them, honestly, but decided that would be treating my audience like idiots (I was remembering the infamous Bat-Embargo that ruined story ideas for the Justice League series, as the powers that be at WB forbade Bruce Timm and co from using Bat-villains and Bat-characters, save Batman himself and one appearance by the relatively minor Clock King villain, because of the new Batman animated show in a new continuity that they didn't want viewers to get "confused" over).

And while the original version of this evolved into TGG... it has little in common with it besides a basic foundation point and some characters names. TGG is a serious setting that examines socio-political ramifications of an existing Multiverse and the resulting astropolitical issues. This.... this is going to be a fun romp with the rule of "If I can make it work, then by God it's going in!".


A large fallow field stretched out as far as the eye could see from the two story house that stood in its midst. Once the grains of the Midwest had swayed in the wind here. Once the barn had been full of the sounds and smells of animals, pigs and chickens that could complement the income of the farm. There had been laughter, cries of joy and irritation, and everything else that told of it being the home of a family.

Now there were only memories.

A lone figure stood in the summer sun. Habits of a lifetime urged him to get to work, to find chores to do, but the emptiness in his heart threatened to overwhelm him just as the paper in his hand made it all moot.

The barechested young man stepped back up to the porch and put the paper down on the table. He stared into a mirror that his mother had put up years ago. Stubble was forming on his jawline and chin. His green eyes looked hazy and unfocused, red from nights of crying in his sleep. His athletic build was starting to decay from lack of exercise and proper eating.

The light on the answering machine for the house's landline was on. There were five messages waiting for him.

"Mister Robert Dale, this is Adam Miller from the Kansas Farmer's Bank. We understand the tough times you are currently going through and you again have condolences from the Bank. We would like you to come in to discuss the remaining balance on your family's property and to arrange a new payment schedule or sale that would best benefit you..."

An angry hand smacked the skip button. "Hello, Mister Dale, this is Herb from Johnson Farming. We went over the list you sent and, well, I'm afraid the price you asked for is just too high. I...."

Another smack on the skip button. This time he only allowed the caller to get as far as "Mister" before he hit it again. "Oh Robbbb... It's Zack, buddy. C'mon, pick up man," the voice pleaded, its tone and sound comfortably familiar. The barest hint of a smile crossed the young man's face. "Tom and I are going to come and drag your ass out of that house if we have to, Rob. I know it hurts, but you've got to have a life and moping around your empty family house isn't going to cut it. We're your friends, man... we're worried about you."

The message ended. This time it was a female voice that came in, an alto that was just as familiar. "Robert, this is Angel. Julie and I have talked about it and we're coming over soon to check up on you. We can and will kick your ass if we need to, Robert. Don't you doubt it. I mean it. You're shutting us all out and it isn't right. We're all here for you, so stop being a hermit already!" There was a sigh. "Okay, like I said, we're coming over, and we're not taking 'no' for an answer."

The machine beeped again and went dead. Robert just continued to stare at the mirror until he forced himself to look away.

His eyes settled on a picture. It was ten years old, at a harvest festival. An old man with a balding head of white hair sat in the center, a wide smile on his face. On the one side was a man just shy of his 40s and a brown-haired woman in his arm. On the other was Robert, so much younger, and a little girl who shared the same hue of dark hair as his clutching his hand and smiling at the camera. The memory made him smile; his family, his closest family...

And now they were all gone.

Robert shook his head. He had to leave the room, before the memories drove him mad with grief again. Over and over the phone call from the county sheriffs replayed in his mind. The accident. The long-haul trucker with the heart attack. A sedan versus an eighteen wheeler.... his family never stood a chance. His parents and sister all died at the hospital. His grandfather... they'd lost him years ago. And his grandmother even before that photo.

He found himself walking the property, along the path leading to the mound. It was an aberration to say the least; their region of Kansas didn't have hills or mountains or anything of the sort, but the mound had always been on the family land. His grandfather had reluctantly allowed people to use ground-penetrating radar on it once, looking to see if it was some ancient Native burial mound or the like, but there had been nothing of the sort within. It was just a fun little mystery here, barely thought about, barely considered.

Robert clambered to the top of it. He looked out at the farm he'd grown up on, the place he knew as home, the fields where he'd led his little sister on so many chases.... and he simply fell to his knees. With tears streaming down his face, he felt like his heart was about to implode, like there was nothing to keep it going, nothing....

Then came the flash of light.

The roar of an engine reached the walls of the Dale home. The motorbike that came up was adorned with red and blue coloring, a sport competition model with a lone rider wearing a blue helmet. The bike came to a stop near the family car and the rider stood from the bike, a young woman in a light black rider's jacket and blue jeans that were flattering on her. When the helmet came off, blond hair cascaded down past her neck. Her green eyes looked toward the house. All she could do was sigh heavily. She went up to the door and knocked. "Robert?" When there was no answer she reached for the door handle and found it open. She walked in and looked around at the living room. She glanced toward the mirror for a moment and then to the family pictures. She was in a few of them, from the time she was little to a picture of her and Robert side by side, holding awards from school.

Looking around she spotted a piece of paper. Curiosity prompted her to pick it up even as she overheard the crunching of gravel down the road. The text of the paper made her draw in a pained breath and close her eyes, setting the paper back down. Tears were starting to form when the door opened. "Hey, Julie, I see you beat us."

Julia Andreys looked up and into the hazel eyes of Angel Delgado. Angel's light bronze complexion was a few shades darker than Julia's tanned Caucasian, an indication of her Latin descent. As was fitting Angel, she was in a green sleeveless shirt that was almost a tank top, baring finely muscled arms, and the insignia of the county's only martial arts gym emblazoned on the front. While Julia had full blue jeans, Angel had jean-material shorts that ended above the knee, showing part of her muscled thighs as well. She looked around the empty house. "So, where's Rob?"

"Probably out on the farm somewhere." Julia looked past Angel to a figure standing in the doorway. "You brought Cat?"

Angel looked back and smiled. "Yeah."

Caterina Delgado waved at Julia with more than a touch of the shyness Julia knew her for. The slight smile of greeting made dimples form on the corners of her mouth; considering the eyeglasses over her hazel eyes, being barely past one hundred pounds even when soaking wet, and being about five foot four to her sister's five nine and Julia's five eleven, it made her look like a cute geek girl.... which, of course, she was, as proven by her dark blue shirt and the decal on it of a lab-coated silhouette holding a bubbling beaker with the caption: "Stand back! I'm using SCIENCE!"

Before anything more could be said the sound of a vehicle backfiring resounded through the air. They all looked out to see another vehicle, a beat-up sedan, pulling up behind the smaller coupe that Angel had driven. A well-built, brown-haired young man jumped out of the driver seat, looking at the rising smoke coming from the hood. "Oh God dammit!", he shouted angrily, kicking the wheel.

The other doors opened. In the front seat a thinly-built figure jumped out, his red hair cut to the nape of his neck. He gestured wildly to the driver. "Well, open the damn hood already! I told you I heard...."

Angel broke out laughing. "I see Zack's car is finally giving up the ghost. Do you think Tom can get it working again?"

"Bet you ten dollars he does," Julia replied with a smirk. "But only after someone goads his ego. Otherwise he'll just gripe that he's an engineer, not a mechanic."

"Engineering student, I thought?", Caterina asked quietly.

"Try telling him that," Angel said.

By this point the third occupant of the broken down car had gotten out. He was closer to Zack in build, wearing a plain T-shirt with a medical school logo on it and long shorts to the knee, his dark hair cut close to his scalp. Unlike the fair complexions of Julia, Zack, and Tom, or the tanned bronze of Angel and Caterina, his dark complexion spoke of his African ancestry, not a common sight in the Midwest. "Leo?", Julia asked, walking out toward them. "My God, Leo, you're back already?"

Leo Gillan looked over and grinned at them. He accepted a hug from Julia. "Yeah, my classes are out. Three years down, five to go."

"'Doctor Gillan' has a good ring to it." Julia stepped back and let Angel have a hug as well.

"Hey Cat." Zack looked over to Caterina, who was standing further back. "It's been a while."

"Uh, yeah," Caterina answered.

Zachary Carrey gave the young girl a smile and stepped up to her. "You're looking good. Still the brainiest, cutest girl in the county."

Angel crossed her arms. "Zack, I know you can't help yourself around girls..."

Zack looked back to her, a gesture of surrender. "Hey, just saying 'hi'."

Their exchange was interrupted with a hoarse, "Your belt is shredding and you've got an oil leak, why the hell are you still driving this thing you dumbass?!" Thomas Barnes pulled his head away from the hood of Zack's car.

"Well, because I usually have a best buddy and wingman who fixes it for me," Zack answered, smirking.

"Oh, yeah. Because you seem to think 'engineer' means 'mechanic'", Barnes retorted angrily.

While that exchange continued, Leo shook his head. "Some things never change, do they?"

"Unfortunately, sometimes they do." Julia looked back at the empty Dale house.

Leo saw where her eyes went and nodded. "I heard. I... I just can't believe it. Rob's family were great people, I can't imagine how much pain he's in."

"I can," Julia sighed. "But what's important is finding where he walked off to and...." She saw Leo look past the house and looked that way as well.

Soon everyone was, as they watched Robert run up to them. He was almost breathless when he reached them, an almost wild look in his eyes. "Jeez, man, are you alright?", Zack asked.

As Robert leaned against Angel's car, catching his breath, Leo moved up to him and examined him. "Robert, look at me," he commanded. When he did so, Leo checked his pulse. "Okay..."

"Come with me," he wheezed. "I need to show you something."

Julia stepped up. "What? What is it, Robert?"

"I don't know. I... I just need to know I'm not losing my mind," he answered.

The others all looked at each other. There was sympathy in their expressions as they each gave a nod. "After you've had some water," Leo said. "I don't want you dehydrating."

Caterina ran ahead of them into the house, coming back a moment later with a water bottle from the fridge. Robert drank so greedily from it that streams of water went around his lips and ran down his neck and chest. Leo pulled the bottle away after a couple of moments. "Okay, show us whatever this is," Julia said to him.

Everyone followed him across the farm. Everyone knew what it should look like at this time of year; the fact that it was mostly fallow was just another indication of how terrible things had become. There were no words to be had.

They were all familiar with the mound. Robert led them to the very top of it, from which they could see the entire farm and adjoining properties. He got on the ground and looked like he was looking for something. "It's here. I know it. I... I triggered it."

"Rob?" Julia was the first to go up to him. She knelt beside him and put a hand on his shoulder. "What are you looking for?"

"I don't know what it is. But I know it's here."

She got closer and gripped his arm. "Robby, please..." He looked up at her at the use of his childhood nickname. "Talk to me. I know what you're going through, but you're starting to scare us."

Robert stared at her for a moment and looked down at his dirty hands. "I... I think I might be going crazy, Julie."

"What did you think you'd find up here?"

"I... I don't know what it was. But...." He reached a hand over and adjusted his knee. "It was...."

His weight shifted onto the knee he just moved.

Light erupted from the ground at the base of the mound. Everyone cried out in shock as the light formed a ring around them. Energy seemed to surround them all....

And suddenly they were somewhere else. Lights came on around them, showing a sterile gray chamber and a sliding door at the far end. Everyone was looking around with astonishment. "Okay.... that was crazy," Zack muttered.

"It's like some kind of... teleporter, like in sci-fi shows," Caterina murmured. She was the first to step outside the circle. "We must be deep underground, too deep for ground-penetrating radar. Maybe even under the Aquifer."

"Well, I've got good news Robert." Leo patted him on the shoulder. "You're not crazy."

"Or we all are," Angel murmured.

Robert gave a nod and a smile to Leo and walked past the others toward the door. As he walked up to it a pair of green lights converged on him, running over his body. There was a series of chirping and beeping noises from a module above the door. They ended with a loud tone and the door light turned blue. He looked back to his astounded friends. "So, want to come in with me?"

A couple of eyes glanced back toward the ring in the chamber. Julia kept her eyes on Robert. He'd been almost wild-eyed before, but now there was a calm sense in his eyes. A cool confidence, a realization that he was not insane and that there was something wonderous inside. "Let's go," she said firmly.

"This is already beyond awesome," Caterina said, stepping forward beside Julia. Amazement had removed all of her habitual shyness.

"Hell, I want to know what else is down here too," Thomas insisted, stepping forward.

"I'm behind you." Angel stepped up between her sister and Julia.

Zack and Leo each gave a nod and a grin. They stepped up too. "Let's see where this rabbit hole takes us," Leo remarked.

"Hopefully to something that won't eat us," Zack added.

Robert grinned widely. "Well everyone, let's see what's in there." He stepped up to the door and it slid open without a sound. After a quick collective breath to gather their courage, the seven friends stepped into the unknown.....

Big Steve Presents....

Undiscovered Frontier
"A Time For Heroes"

The chamber had been a closet compared to where they were now. The space inside was enormous, with pathways and catwalks criss-crossing everywhere. Tubes containing lifts met every major crosswalk and ladders were placed along the walls. "No damned way," Barnes muttered. "This... this isn't possible."

They walked along the path before them and found a stairway up to what looked to be a central command station. Chairs had been bolted into place at the major stations, each of which was covered in characters from some unknown language. Multiple monitors adorned the walls as well, showing various empty chambers. Some looked to be living quarters or storage rooms for equipment. Others were just empty.

But one wasn't. Inside was a structure. Not just a structure, but something that made everyone present think "ship" from the size. It looked to be the length of a naval warship and wider and even taller than such, with a hull of dark blue coloring and swept-back wings that made it look like a hawk or eagle diving. "Okay, either I'm crazy, or that's some kind of spaceship," Angel remarked.

"It is one," Robert said softly. "It's a spaceship."

"But, if it's supposed to be in space, why is it underground?", Angel asked. "What, does it fly through tunnels or something to get to the surface? Wouldn't something like that be easy to find?"

Robert gave a shrug and walked up. He set a hand on the controls. "I just wish I could understand these...."

Suddenly all of the control surfaces seemed to shift. Where alien characters had once confronted them they now saw them in English. Above the center of the room an image blurred into existence, a bipedal form with deep orange coloring and a high skull that was clearly non-human. It appeared for only a moment before being replaced by a well-kept Human in a nice suit. "Central systems are now online. I.... well well..." The image looked around at them. "I didn't expect this. I figured our people had come to man the station again. Are you Aterrans? Wait, no.... your language has too many differences. You're... you're native to this world aren't you?"

"Who are you?", Robert asked.

"I am the Control System for Emergency Facility A Universe Designation H1E4, created by the Darglan, native to Universe Designation E5B1 . Before you ask, my appearance is tailored to fit certain mental imagery found in the mind of the one who activated me. In this case, you." He looked to Robert. "You seem to have genetic structures that my sensors saw as Aterran. That would explain how you triggered the surface entrance and activated me."

"How does this place fit underground? There's no damned way something like this would be missed...."

The hologram turned to Barnes. "You are an interesting one.... oh, a mechanical mind, I think you'll enjoy the data you can be provided with. To answer your question, young Terran, the Darglan made many allies in their time exploring the universes of creation, and with those allies came technologies. A friendly alien in one of those universes demonstrated the use of dimensionally transcendental objects that the Darglan replicated in these facilities. This facility, as large as it is on the inside, on the outside occupies barely ten percent the space of the command center."

Caterina clapped her hands together. "So... it's literally a pocket dimension? Your people could make pocket dimensions?!"

"Not easily, mind you. And I cannot. These facilities were meant for emergency use. And I...." The hologram stopped. "Oh... oh dear. I...."

It was Leo who asked, "What?"

"I...." The holographic figure seemed stricken. "I just found a queued message in my receivers. It's.... oh my dear." The figure ran a hand on his head. "It appears my creators are... extinct. Destroyed. This is terrible, so simply terrible." He looked to them. "My young Terrans... please. I would ask your help. Please don't leave me here alone. If you man the facility, I can fulfill my purpose."

Everyone was looking around in wonderment as Control's pleading words reached them. "Well... I kind of understand what you mean and all... but what would we do with it?", Zack asked. "I mean... maybe we should have our authorities come and work with you instead?"

"Yeah, Zack, I'm sure that we'll find someone who believes us about the teleporter built into the mound that leads to the magic supertech underground base," Angel said, smirking in amusement. "And even if we did... they're just as likely to lock us up somewhere so they can keep it a secret."

"That's a bit paranoid of you, Angel."

"But she's right," Robert pointed out. Besides..." He inhaled slowly. "I've got nowhere else to go. I'm losing the farm."

Julia lowered her head, the only one not surprised by the news. "What?", Barnes asked increduously.

"They still call and talk about arranging a voluntary sale, but they've already started the foreclosure," Robert answered. "Dad had been keeping things afloat, barely. Now he's gone. And losing my family cost so much. " He sighed and blinked back tears. "Too much. I can't save it. I'm even going to lose the house."

Angel set a hand on Robert's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Rob."

"Maybe it's for the better," he continued. "The house is so empty now. Everywhere I look I think of Dad and Mom and Susan. So.... yeah, I've got nothing better to do."

"Aside from take care of yourself," Leo remarked. "Have you looked in a mirror lately, Rob?"

Robert smiled thinly. "Yeah, I have." He turned to the control system hologram. "So, just what do I do? I mean, besides living here. And I hope you have a way for me to get food..."

"I do have a supply of raw food material that our systems can produce into food items for your benefit," Control answered. "As for the more pertinent question... I am programmed to assist the personnel of this facility within the confines of rather broad ethical restraints."

Robert gave a nod. "What would they be?"

"Don't use this facility to embark on conquest and enslavement of other sapient species," Control answered matter-of-factly. "Do not commit genocide or xenocide. Do not use me to inflict harm outside of necessary defense of yourself and others."

"So don't be a murdering asshole," Angel answered, summing things up.

"Yes, a crude summation I suppose," Control conceded.

"Okay, that's cool." Zack stepped up to the hologram. "But just what is all this for? What will you have Rob doing? Sweeping the floors?"

"Oh, not at all. I have maintenance drones for that. Rather.... you could resume the Darglans' work. Recommence studying the Multiverse. That is what the ship is for; it is a specialized scout and combat vessel," Control explained. "Though I would recommend not getting into trouble without the full trained crew of forty sentients."

"Plus we don't know the first thing about how these ships operate," Caterina pointed out. "I mean, we don't know how to fly a spaceship, or how stuff in space works. I... I can theorize a bit..."

"Ah, no worries there. You Terrans, given the bioscans I'm getting, should be compatible with the data infusion system. The necessary data can be installed into your minds. I don't recommend trying to understand all of it, mind you. Too much data infusion has been recorded as causing mental trauma, even unbalance. Specializing may be a more sound approach. And training afterward of course." The control hologram put his hands together. "Shall we?" He seemed to step off the viewer, though the flicker made it clear that the internal hologram systems were simply changing projectors. "Follow me."

After a sight-filled trip down a transport tube and a contained deck, they were shown to a large room with a multitude of beds, each with a device hanging over it. "So, Robert is it? Please sit and I will give you a basic information download as a test."

"Are you so sure about this, Rob?", Zack asked. "All that stuff about mental trauma...."

"I'll risk it," Caterina suddenly declared, stepping forward. "I mean, I want to know more about this place. And the science. And all the astrophysics these Darglan must have known...!"

"Cat!", Angel called out with concern.

Robert smiled at the girl. "Thanks for offering, Cat, but I'm the one who volunteered. You'll need that big brain of your's for college if this doesn't work." He got onto the table, ignoring the sensation of cold on hia bare back and arms.

Julia leaned over him. "Robby, are you sure about this?", she whispered.

He looked back to her. "I am. Trust me." He reached for her hand and gripped it. "Thanks for being here for me, Julie." He stared up at the device and watched it begin to glow.

Suddenly he was tired. "Your brain is being coaxed into a sleep state," Control explained. "This will permit you to more easily process the new information."

"Been having trouble sleeping as it is," Robert yawned. "A little sleep might..."

His eyes fluttered close while a beam of light came from the device above, shining on his forehead. "This is ridiculous," Leo said. "You can't just download knowledge into someone. Knowledge comes from experience."

The heat in his voice made Zack look to him. "Are you okay?"

That led to a chuckle. "Oh, swell. I'm just being told that after thousands of dollars and my parents working themselves to death to make sure I could get through school, I can just get a light beam flashed over my head and be an instant doctor. I've apparently wasted three years of my life."

"No," Julia answered. "It actually gives you an edge over us. We're still going to have to train, you've already got some of it."

"Julie... when did we decide we were all going to do this?", Zack asked pointedly. "I mean, we do have lives to go to."

"Are you dense?" Caterina glared at him. "There's.... would you really turn this down?! I know I'm not."

"You're supposed to go to school," Angel insisted, jumping into the conversation. "You promised Mama."

"Angel, seriously? This.... look around you!" Caterina raised her arms. "This is beyond anything we could have imagined when we talked about our future. This... this is something far beyond what Mama had in mind when she asked me to go to school. She'd be with me on this!"


"Woh, time out!" Julia raised her arms. "Listen.... we all have to decide what we're going to do. Let's see what happens with Robert first."

Everyone was quiet until he started to stir. Leo was the first by his side, barely beating Julia to it, and was looking intently at him as Robert sat up and opened his eyes. "Sounds like you're breathing well," Leo said. "So... how do you feel?"

Robert blinked sleep out of his eyes. "No different. I'm not about to start laughing like a comic book villain." He rubbed his eyes. "And I think I can fly and fight with spaceships now."

"As stated, it was a basic packet that was not too taxing. The information necessary to understand starships and this facility's basic operation. It will be useful." Control put his hands together. "I am pleased that you were so compatible with the system. I would recommend against more than two more infusions over the next year. It's best if you use the baseline of your current knowledge for more conventional training. If I might inquire as to if any of your friends are interested?"

"I want one!", Caterina called out. "I want to understand the basics of your science!"

"Cat!", Angel growled.

Robert slid off the table and raised his hands. "Listen, this is my choice, it doesn't have to be your's."

"I want this though!", Caterina protested. She stared her sister right in the eye, even if it looked almost comical given their physical differences. "Angel, this is so much more than just going to university and studying a science field. This... this is light years beyond us. Literally! And I want to do it!"

Angel looked down at her little sister for several moments before setting her hands on her hips and breathing in a sigh. "Fine, fine. I'll be doing this though, then. Someone has to keep you and Robert from hurting yourselves."

Robert let out a low chuckle. "I'm reminded that you've hurt me quite a few times...."

The look on Angel's face turned mischievous. "Yeah, but sometimes you enjoyed it."

At that Zack snickered while a bemused smirk crossed Julia's face. Robert allowed himself a grin and looked up to Julia. "You're not the only one. There are times I think you used to invite me to your gym just to put me in my place."

"Maaaaybe," Julia joked. "Though I think Zack needs it more often." She took in a breath and looked to be thinking of what to say. "I shouldn't have to say I'll be going with you wherever you go."

"Getting to work on starship engines sounds a lot more fun than having to fix Zack's crappy car all the time," Barnes added.

This left Leo and Zack. The latter looked to be deep in thought while Leo was staring at the tables. "You're all serious about this. Really?" When he received nods, Leo drew in a sigh and ran a hand through his hair. "God, I must be crazy.... okay, fine. You're going to need me, and I admit I'm curious about just how crazy this is going to be." He looked to the hologram. "I'm going to need to know how your medical technology works."

"I'll prepare a data infusion package immediately. Ah, there." Control nodded. "It is ready. I will welcome any more requests for specialized information..."

Zack sighed. "So you guys are all really going to do this? Really? The lives we have now aren't good enough, you're going to just jump into... whatever this leads us to?"

"Zack, it's your choice, if you want to go back..."

There was a look of consternation on his face, like he was seriously considering that offer but couldn't bring himself to be the one who walked away. "I just... I just want a normal life sometimes, you know? But if you guys want to do this... I'm not going to let you do it alone. We do it together."

Robert stepped up and put his hand on Zack's shoulder. "Whatever comes, we're going to need each other. I don't think we could go without you, Zack."

"Oh, I'm sure you could." Zack smirked and patted him on the shoulder. "I'm just the skirt-chasing jock of our group."

"That's where Angel and I come in. We keep you in line." Julia looked to the tables. "So, if we're all doing this, we should decide just what we want to learn."

"I await your decisions," Control answered.

Among them Caterina was the first to get into a table and the first to awaken again. Robert started toward her as she sat up, wide-eyed. "Cat, are you okay?", he asked.

She stared at him for a moment. "I know four different ways to break the lightspeed barrier!" she said, her mouth spreading to a wide grin. "Maybe five! Not sure how the gravitic slips will work.... Oh, and quantum mechanics! I know quantum mechanics! I know subquantum mechanics! And subspace physics!"

Caterina's enthusiasm was infectious. "That's awesome, Cat," Robert said. "It'll come in handy, I'm sure."

The others began to wake up as well. "It's kind of... tingly," Zack remarked. "So what next oh fearless leader?"

"Well... he did say that spaceship was around to fly..."

After a quick return by Robert to his home for, of all things, a red polo shirt, they followed Control to a transporter room. The transport was slightly different this time, a tingly sensation with the transporter room disappearing and the bridge of the ship appearing around them. The control systems were already displaying in English, the stations arrayed around a center chair for the commander. Robert stepped to the station in front and found it to be the helm. "I recommend a short flight only," Control said over the comm system. "Without a full crew you will be unable to deal with emergencies."

"It's just a quick spin," Robert assured Control. He settled into the helm. "So, Julie, want to be the Captain?"

She smiled at him. "Sure, but I think I'll be needed at ops. Zack is going to have to help Tom in Engineering."

"Come on, wrench wrangler," Barnes called out as he headed to a door in the left rear of the bridge. "I'll be needing that second set of hands."

"Coming," Zack sighed.

"I'll check out the ship's infirmary," Leo offered. "I want to double-check things."

Caterina was already at the ship's main sensor station taking a seat. "Sensors ready for SCIENCE!", she giggled happily.

"That leaves weapons for you, Angel," Robert remarked as he checked the helm. "I've got helm control on standby. Just waiting for Tom and Zack to get the engines going."

"It shouldn't take them too long." Julia went over the controls. "Ship systems all good. What are we going to name the ship anyway?"

"Control, does it have a name?", Robert asked.

"No. The Darglan left it no designation."

"I see." Robert seemed to think a moment. "Okay.... how about the Kelley?"

"Just where did you get that from?", Angel asked.

"Just popped in my head. My parents knew someone with that name I think. Besides, it's nice and unpretentious."

"I've got no objections," Julia said.

When there were none, Control's voice returned over the intercom. "Kelley it is, then. I shall mark this in the data."

"Aren't you coming?", Caterina asked.

"Oh, I'm afraid not. My program is too large, to keep more than a few bare scraps of my code would be to take up crucial data space in your ship's library systems."

"I'll have to work on that," Caterina said sadly.

"You'll get your chance," Robert assured her. He saw indicators on his system confirming that Zack and Barnes had the ship's main reactors on. "Okay, we have main power. Preparing to initiate drives. Releasing all moorings."

"I'm linking our jump drive to the facility gate, space jump set for the dark side of the moon." Julia looked up. "We wouldn't want to be seen by the Hubble, I'm guessing."

"Oh, the Hubble isn't our worry, it's the many telescopes on Earth that would see us," Caterina corrected.

"Well, either way, she's right." Robert keyed the engines to pre-launch readiness. "Don't we have some kind of invisibility or stealth system?"

"The data infusion makes me want to call it a cloaking device." Julia tapped her control. "I'll cloak when we're through and secure. Jump gate activating now."

A circular shape in front of them flashed to life, creating a field of blue and green. Robert turned on the thrusters and the craft lurched as it came to life, moving forward into the swirling gate. There was a brief feeling of cold and dislocation and they were through, the silhouette of the moon's dark side on their viewer.

They were in space.

"This is so cool," Caterina murmured. Her fingers were running quickly over her controls. "And the sensors on this ship are awesome. I can read the surface composition of the moon! Actually, even here I can detect some of the stuff in Earth orbit!"

"Settle down, Cat," Angel urged, though it sounded more like she was just responding by habit. Even she was staring at the moon in disbelief.

Julia turned away from the screen long enough to operate her board. "Cloak operational. Nobody on Earth will see us."

"Then let's see what she can do." With a grin, Robert turned on the newly-christened Kelley's main drive. The moon disappeared quickly, replaced by open space as they began their maiden flight.

After a few hours, and everyone getting their chance at the helm, the Kelley's jump drive connected to the facility and they returned to their dock. Robert maneuvered the ship back into launch position before allowing the facility's umbilicals to reconnect. When all was done a touch of a button alerted Barnes to power down the main reactor. "Well, that was fun."

"We should have tried out the space-warp engines," Caterina sighed, looking as mopey as she sounded.

"We need a proper engineering crew for that," Julia remarked. "Not that I'm sure where we'll get one."

"We'll think of something," Robert remarked, standing from the station. "I'm guessing everyone wants to run home?"

"Well, some of us have jobs," Leo pointed out. "I've been doing volunteer work at the local clinic, just because we're flying spaceships doesn't mean I'm going to back out."

"Hey, I'm alright with that."

When they all emerged from the ship dock, taking that route this time, Control's hologram was waiting. "I hope you enjoyed yourselves," he said. "I believe I overheard something about work?"

"Some of my friends have obligations that mean going to their homes and getting rest," Robert remarked.

"Ah. Well, if you need to I believe we can arrange a beaming...."

"Oh no, my car is back at Rob's place," Zack said. "And..."

"....and it was smoking when you were last running it," Julia pointed out. "I doubt you'll be getting home in that thing."

"Crap. Alright. I guess Leo, Tom, and I need beaming then."

"I will program coordinates based on the maps I have found on your public networks."

Control led them off, leaving Robert with the girls. "I'd better get started in moving my stuff in here," he said. "That way there won't be anything left in the house."

"It's not too late yet, we'll help you pack," Julia said. Angel and Caterina gave nods.

As it turned out, Robert wasn't interested in the furnishings so much as the family keepsakes. His paternal grandfather's military papers, pictures, and medals, the gifts of books he had gotten from his mother's family, things that had strong connections to what had been.

After several boxes were accumulated and the sun had disappeared over the horizon, Angel reached over for her car keys. "Come on, Cat, it's time to go home."

"I'd rather stay," she said. "That place is so big, it'll take forever to explore."

"Hey, I'm not hauling your stuff too, so if you don't come none of your books or clothes will be coming back with me," Angel warned.

With a face in full-on pout mode, Caterina waved goodbye to the others and followed her sister out the door.

This left Robert and Julia alone in the kitchen, going over photos from his family pile while the local news played for background noise. "Hey, look at this." He brought up a picture from the county fair when they were kids, his grandfather sitting between them and joining them in eating cotton candy. "Grandpa always had a soft spot for you."

"I know." She let out a little chuckle. "He asked me to take care of you when I saw him last."

"He asked me to care for you too."

"'Just be ready for when Robby finally works up the nerve to get on his knees and show you the ring,'" Julia quoted, mimicking the late Grandpa Dale's voice as best as she could.

Robert chuckled. "Granddad is why you call me that sometimes, I swear."

"That and the fact I've known you long enough to remember when everyone called you 'Robby'. And a few even called you 'Bob', even if you hated it." She giggled at the pained look that came to his face. "So... you're just going to live down there? Alone?"

"I don't have anywhere else to go. I'm losing the house anyway. So why not?" Robert shrugged and put the picture in a box. "I've got nothing better to do. What about you? School is off-semester, there's no work around here anymore. You could join me."

"You and me, alone, in that place?" Julia raised an eyebrow. "That's a lot of space."

"Assuming the others don't move in full-time," Robert said. "Anyway...." He reached for the box and looked toward the TV. And froze.

It was a local report, showing a suited man emerging from a courthouse smiling. The caption read "Local Landowner Released: Charges Dropped". "Oh, there's a surprise," Julia sighed. "Old Duffy got away with it again. Angel's probably wailing away at her punching bag."

"Dad always said he had half the County Commission and the Sheriff in his pocket." Robert became quiet to hear Mr. Duffy's statement, asserting the case as a continued effort from "Washington liberals" in the Justice Department to attack his successful business. "There's not a farmer in this county who looks at his prices and doesn't know he's using illegals as slave labor."

"No proof." Julia shrugged. "And there's nothing we can do..." The look in her eyes made it clear that a thought had interrupted the habitual lament of helplessness in the face of something wrong.

Her eyes met Robert's. The thought passed among them silently, but it was Robert who spoke it aloud. "The hell I can't do anything about it, I have a starship buried under my house."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Padawan Learner
Posts: 162
Joined: 2009-07-10 11:46am
Location: Aurora, CO

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by ZGundam » 2013-05-09 03:54pm

I am liking this. Here is hoping for more...

Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-03-20 12:27pm

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Satori » 2013-05-13 07:01pm

The last line made me giggle. Needs more fleshing out of the various characters though, don't have enoigh to keep em all straight.
Given the respective degrees of vulnerability to mental and physical force, annoying the powers of chaos to the point where they try openly to kill them all rather than subvert them is probably a sound survival strategy under the circumstances. -Eleventh Century Remnant

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-05-14 08:35am

Writing that last line made me giggle. And there's more story coming to flesh them all out.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-05-18 05:14pm

The next day it was well into the afternoon before everyone gathered again. Nothing much was said as things were brought to the mount and, by the transporter, down into the facility. It was only when they had put stuff away in the living area that Robert called them into the facility's command area. "So, I take it everyone's heard Duffy was let go again" Robert tapped the table in the middle. "And he'll be free to continue ruining everyone else in the county because he's a slave-driver, unless someone does something about it."

"And you think that should be us," Barnes remarked.

"We have a starship and super spacetech. Yes, I think we can do it. I think we should do it."

"You'll get no fuss from me," Angel announced.

"Just because we have a starship doesn't mean we can just hit a button and win." Julia shook her head. "We need to plan for this."

Angel nodded. "And just getting the workers out won't be enough. We'll need to do something more, get evidence on what he's done."

"So we need scans of his property, the likely location of his work force, and access to his computers." Robert tapped the central station. "Control?"

"Online, yes." The hologram flashed to life.

"Would bringing down a guy who uses virtual slave labor to make lots of money and undercut his non-slaving competition fall within your ethical guidelines?"

"Oh, absolutely. The Darglan were aghast at sentient enslavement. My programming will give me joy to undermine it."

"Then we'll need your help. We need a means to download everything on a computer in record time. And equipment to sneak around." Robert touched his chin. "I hate to say it, but even guns might be necessary."

"Understood. Give me the particulars and we will determine the best way to meet your requirements."

"The facility beamed us home, why can't we just bring them in that way?"

Barnes shook his head at Zack. "Yeah, it's a bit different when we're talking about that many people. And we need to know what we're transporting, I don't think we want Duffy or his employees in here."

"Yeah. We're going to have to go in." Robert leaned over in his chair. "And I have a plan for that."

Night had fallen, as intended, when Robert drove up to the Duffy property's main gate. Duffy had an armed guard at the entrance, the only major landowner in the area to have such. His grandfather's old truck backfired, drawing an angry look from the guard as he took down their names and waved them in.

After they were inside Robert looked over to the empty passenger seat. To someone else it looked like he was looking at something outside. But he wasn't.


He couldn't see the nod. "Yeah," Julia said. "I look invisible?"


"Alright, I'm ready."

Nothing more was said. Robert stopped the truck just outside the house. He saw security men checking it as he went up to the door, where he was patted down. He stood a few seconds at the front door when it opened, as if collecting his thoughts and soothing his nerves. He remained quiet until he was brought into a sitting room. Duffy was seated there, a glass in one hand, dressed casually. He stood and offered his hand to Robert. "Young Mister Dale, a pleasure. My condolences yet again."

"Thank you, sir," Robert answered. It had honestly been years since he had set foot in the house and it was clearly different than it had been with Duffy's father, a friend and fellow vet of Robert's grandfather. "I hope I'm not keeping you from anything?"

"Oh, no no, not at all. We had our celebrations earlier, I'm just... enjoying myself." Duffy put his glass down. "Having Washington bureaucrats constantly trying to wreck my business can get tiring, so I enjoy my victories when I get them."

"I remember plenty of Grandpa's rants about it," Robert said amiably.

"Yet the old man voted Democrat every year, until Reagan at least," Duffy laughed. "Mister Allen was a hell of a character, that's for sure." After sipping on his glass, Duffy sat it down and leaned forward a little. His blue eyes focused on Robert and an expression of curiosity came across his thin face. "Okay, young man, what brings you out here? Ah, let me guess..." Robert frowned at getting cut off, but said nothing of it. "You want to talk about selling me your family property."

That, of course, was the cover story, and so Robert nodded. "I remember you'd come to Dad a few times."

"I did. But times change. I don't mind charity where I can afford it, but my business has to be considered too. It would be cheaper just to buy it from the bank after they finish foreclosure."

And I wouldn't be surprised at all if your friends in the bank were behind the bank starting the proceedings so early. Robert shrugged. "Well, sir, if I may... if you buy it now, I won't have to sell all of the equipment and the grainseed. It could cost you thousands when you actuallly get the property."

Duffy scratched at his chin. "Good reply, good. Well, let's negotiate these things, shall we?"

"Yes sir." Robert hid his feelings on the subject; he had to buy time for the others to get their parts done.

Julia had been careful in slipping inside. It was astounding how many guards Duffy had, way too many to fight through if this 'personal cloak' that Control had provided failed. The eyepiece displayed the remaining power and estimated remaining time; she had about ten more minutes before the device failed. That should, at least, be plenty of time.

A quick check of the first floor revealed only the living room, den, kitchen, but no computer. Julia went to the stairs and the upper floor bedrooms, listening as Robert began his pitch to sell his property. A part of her regretted that they hadn't just transported in, but between inexperience with the transporters and people hearing it.... this really was the best way.

The first bedroom was vacant, as was the second. She got to the third and found a bedroom converted to what looked to be an office. "Bingo," she murmured. Julia went straight for the desktop computer, finding it on standby. She didn't dare turn the monitor on, the light might be seen in the hall or the window. She reached into her pocket and found the small case Catarina had given her. Inside was a small device with a USB connector. She found a USB port for it and plugged it in. She tapped an item on her wrist. "Cat?"

"Setting up connection now, Julie," Caterina answered. "Computer is password protected, but we have a supercomputer up here with enough computing power to outdo the entire planet, I'll be through the protection in moments. Want me to have Tom bring you up?"

"Not yet, I want to be down here if something goes...."

And that was when she heard the scream.

Angel had been hiding in the bed of the truck, activating the cloaking system only when Robert pulled up. As soon as he stopped the vehicle she jumped out and began moving toward the large work buildings near the house. She was invisible, but she made sure to walk quietly and softly to minimize footprints. She brought her wrist up and tapped the device on it. "Cat, are you there?"

"I'm here, sis," was the cheerful respnse.

"Guide me, Cat, there are a whole bunch of buildings here."

"I'm scanning for life forms now... Okay, do you see that utility shed? Northern-most building? I'm picking life signs there."

"Alright." There was a distance to cover, and Angel had to be careful not to make loud footfalls or anything that might draw attention to the pair of footprints appearing out of nowhere in the prairie grass and dirt below. It took a few minutes to cover the distance and get to the building. It was locked, not too surprising, but the windows were open. A sole security guard was patrolling the exterior. Angel could tell he wasn't paying much attention, absorbed in his thoughts and the boredom of his work. She waited for him to go past before looked back to the high window. It was too high to leap to. "Sis?" She hit the comm again, bringing it up to her mouth so she could whisper into it. "Can you transport me inside?"

"Tom says he's not sure he's used the transporter enough to do that, not with everything else inside."

Angel cursed and looked around. She found a crate that had been left out. When she went to pick it up she found that it was supremely heavy, filled with heavy objects of some sort.

Even worse, it was far noisier than she thought it'd be. Something instead clattered and did so loudly. She turned and saw the guard who'd passed whipping around. He caught sight of her holding the crate, though to his vision it was the crate being held in mid-air. His eyes widened and his mouth hung open in shock.

"Dammit." Angel set the crate back down, not wanting to make more noise, but the guard wasn't writing it off as his imagination. He approached, one hand reaching for the pistol in his holster and the other taking hold of the microphone. She was out of time.

So she shot him.

The poor guy probably had only the glimpse of a blue beam coming from nowhere, then blackness. The weapon was on what Control called a stun setting, a low level blast that did not kill but shocked the body enough to induce unconsciousness. Angel watched him crumple and went over to pick him up and pull him a bit further out of sight. It wouldn't last long; any further patrols or missed check-ins would cause an investigation.

"Ah, to hell with it," Angel muttered. She kept her gun out and went up to one of the double doors, closed with a bar held in place by a padlock. She fired it and watched the blue beam begin to turn the lock red. She halted firing long enough to raise the power and fired again. This time the lock fell off, creating small embers of flame as the superhot metal met the prairie glass below. She pulled the door open.

The stink hit her first, followed by shocked expressions and fear. The people inside were packed together closely, with very little living space. An angry frown crossed her face as Angel reached for her comm. "Kelley, I can confirm, it's them."

"Standby for beaming."

The people were milling around her, all curious and scared. "Be calm, you will be safe in a moment," Angel assured them.

Soon enough they were enveloped in light.

Robert had been discussing the cost of one of the machines on the farm when the scream came from upstairs. "What....?" It didn't sound like Julia, but it had clearly been female...

Duffy looked agitated and rolled his eyes. "Turn that movie down, Phil!", he called out. "Sorry, but you know Phil nd his movies..."

Robert gave a nod, not at all convinced with the claim.

Julia was quick to investigate the scream, leaving the office. She saw a figure stepping out of one of the doors she hadn't checked yet and recognized him as Phil Duffy. She stepped out of his way and tried not to give in to the temptation to hit the little bastard from behind. He went into another room, clearly a bedroom, and a bathroom beyond.

She checked the door he had come out of. The door looked reversed; the latch to lock it close was on the outside and not the inside. Why would....?

Julia swung the door open and stood, stunned, in the doorway. Her eyes focused on the figure in the center of the room, or rather taped to a pole in the center. A barely-dressed, curvy young woman with a light bronze complexion and curly dark hair that cascaded down around her eyes. Blood was running down her nose and mouth and had welled up at other parts of her arms, visible belly, and legs. "Oh my God," Julia rasped. Looking around she saw a full assortment of knives, blackjacks, sticks... enough to see what the room was meant for.

She'd known Phil Duffy was a skirt-chasing misogynist prick, but this.... this was beyond the worse thoughts she'd ever had about him.

Julia pulled out a small knife from her pocket and began to cut the duct tape holding the woman's wrists against the metal pole. The woman fell, forcing Julia to catch her. As she shifted her around, the hair fell from the woman's face and made Julia realize she recognized it. It was an old classmate, Lucilla Lucero (Or "LL" as she was sometimes teasingly called), one that had been appreciated and friendly even if she was never really with their group. Blue eyes looked up at Julia, hazed with pain, and Lucilla murmured, "What...?"

"Oh my God," Julia muttered. "You'll... you'll be okay Lucy," she said, re-assuringly. She reached around Lucilla to hit her comm. "Teddo, I need you to beam her up, now."

There was an inarticulate growl, making Julia realize she'd used Barnes' now-hated childhood nickname, but before she could correct it a reply came of, "Beaming now..." The weight vanished from her grip as white light coalesced around Lucilla and whisked her away.

Julia stood up and went to leave.... just to see Phil Duffy standing at the doors, eyes widened in shock. "Oh shit," Julia muttered as the young Duffy sprinted off shouting.

"....the harvester's engine," Robert said, finishing a summation of the repairs he'd done even after his family's loss. "That's why...."

"Dad! Dad!" Phil came stumbling down the stairs, almost out of breath, with one of Duffy's security people following. "She's gone!"

Robert took a breath and waited as Duffy almost barked, just to hold himself back. "Excuse me, Mister Dale," he sighed, standing up and movin toward his son. "Phil, we'll talk about this..."

Phil, however, was focusing his gray eyes on Robert. "You!", he spat. "I heard her up there, Rob! I heard Julia in the room! What are you up to?!"

Duffy raised a hand. "Phil, shut up now."

"They took that bitch Lucilla, Dad!", Phil declared, pointed an accusing finger at Robert. "She's been freed!"

Lucilla? Robert took a second and realized who Phil was talking about. LL?! What.... Then he remembered that she'd taken a job with Duffy's company over a year ago. And at the back of his mind, the pieces began to fall into place.

As they did so, the receiver in his ear came to life. "Oh God, Rob," Leo said, horror evident in his voice. "They... the bastards... I've got Lucy up here now and she's just a mess..."

That was when Duffy reached into the drawer of the nearby stand and pulled out a revolver. A gun he pointed directly at Robert. "Well, young man, I'm afraid to say that whether Phil is right or not.... you have heard far too much."

"What have you done with Lucy?", Robert asked quietly. "She was the reason you almost got caught, wasn't she?"

"You know, sometimes you think a few of them are normal Americans like the rest of us," Duffy replied. "But then they go and do something and remind you that they'll never be like us. I should have never hired that wetback bitch. She almost cost me everything. So... I'm going to ask kindly, what are you doing here?"

"Having a gun pointed at my face," he answered flippantly. It looked like wry sarcasm... but Duffy of course couldn't know that they were being overhead.

"If you're wearing some kind of wire, I know it's not transmitting," Duffy answered. "I'm very careful with these things these days. Don't know what the Feds will pull to try and destroy my business."

"You don't deserve your business," Robert shot back.

Julia had pulled the transmitter out of the computer when an armed security man ran into the office. He couldn't see her, of course, and quickly finished his sweep. "All clear, no sign of the subject," he spoke into the radio.

The subject. Not the prisoner, the captive, the torture victim.... the phrasing was too much. Julia pulled the weapon in her belt out and fired. The blast struck him in the back and left him unconscious.

"Julie, Zack here," a voice said over her comm. "Duffy's got Rob, he's got a gun on him."

"Bring him up then."

"Tom's not in favor of that, he thinks that if they shoot the bullets might be brought along in the 'matter stream' or whatever.... he thinks they can still shoot Rob if he beams."

"Can't he just screen a bullet out?"

This time Barnes cut in. "With time and practice, yeah. But I've just started to learn this goddamned crap!"

"Then be ready, I'll go help Robert out." Julia left the room and went back to the stairs.

She found Robert standing toward one edge of the living room, Duffy pointing a gun at him while Phil and a security guard watched. Julia knew she had to get Duffy's attention. Moreso, she knew how, and it was a way she would resolutely enjoy.

She walked up behind Phil, turned off her cloak to make sure they could see her, and took him by the shoulder. He cried out in surprise and couldn't react before her fist found his nose. The security guard went for his gun, but Julia's right leg came up in a quick snap kick that caught him in the belly, allowing her to follow up by slugging him in turn.

Duffy turned to face Julia, and that gave Robert his opening. He lunged forward, grabbing Duffy's wrist and twisting it until he dropped the gun. Duffy slammed his elbow into Robert's jaw, knocking him back slightly and allowing Duffy to go for the gun. But Robert recovered too quickly and grabbed Duffy before his hand could grip, throwing him to the side and clear of the firearm. He reached down and scooped it up.

Duffy screamed in rage and lunged at Robert. Robert twisted and, without even thinking about it, pulled the trigger. The gunshots were thundercracks that made every ear in the room explode with pain. Blood erupted from Duffy's chest and back as the round went into his chest. The older man dropped, his eyes wide in shock and terror, and was dying as he hit the floor.

"Dad!" With blood pouring from his nose, Phil scrambled over to his father's side. "Dad, no!"

Julia stepped over and helped Robert back to his feet. She pointedly ignored Phil's grieving and looked out the window at the gun-toting men beginning to circle the house. "Time to get out of here."

"Agreed." Robert tapped his ear. He thought his heart would erupt from his chest as he said, "Bring us up, Tom."

Phil had turned away to cradle his dying father, so he didn't see the white light gather around them and make them vanish.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-05-21 09:37pm

The night wasn't over.

When Robert and Julia re-materialized on the bridge, Zack was at the helm and Cat at sensors. "We got everyone?"

"Yeah, and that's the problem," Zack replied. He pointed to the door. "Angel has them in the main cargo and shuttle bay trying to keep them from going crazy. I don't think they're too happy."

"Crap. Let's get down there then."

They took the lift to the bottom deck of the ship and on to the rear. The large bay was for cargo and the small two man "shuttles" tht they'd found in their first tour of the Kelley. There were about sixty people gathered around, yelling in Spanish alongside an irate Angel. She threw her hands up in exasperation. "We just rescued.... ugh!" She looked to Robert. "They want to go back Robert!"

Robert and Julia looked at each other. "What, go back home?"

One of those in the crowd stepped forward, an older man with grizzled hair. "I am Gabriel and speak English, please let me explain. If we are considered runaways, the coyotes' friends will hurt our families. Please, you must return us."

"Even with how badly those bastards treat you?!", Julia demanded. "I saw their torture room!"

"Worse will be done to our families," Gabriel insisted. "I know you want to help, but... this is the life we have, You only cause us hurt."

"And that's it?!"

Everyone looked to see Caterina enter the room. She looked irritated, almost upset. "So you're going to go back to being abused because that is 'the life we have'?" Switching to Spanish she continued. "You worry for your families? Fine! Let's go get them too! The place we got this spaceship from has lots of room! And we can even find a way to give you a new home! That has to be better than working hard so people like Duffy can get wealthier! This is the opportunity of a lifetime, don't throw it away!"

"Wow," Robert mumbled. He never thought he'd seen Cat as agitated, as full of fire, as he did now.

There was silence from the assembled. A few started to step forward from amongst them, then more, each asking to join. Angel put an arm around her sister's shoulders. "Way to go little sis."

Cat blushed. "Thanks Angel."

"Get a hold of Tom, let him know he'll be doing quite a lot of beaming over the next few hours," Robert said, grinning slyly. "But first, I'd better get down to my house."

Julia looked at him with concern. "Are you so sure? I mean, you know Phil has probably called the police and blamed you..."

"Yeah, he has. But I have a few things left there to grab real quick, then the police can turn it over all they want." He winked. "Just have Tom keep a lock on me, if you pick up cops coming for me beam me right up."

Julia gave him a smile and nodded.

Things had already changed.

Oh, the Dale house was as quiet as always. The family pictures removed from shelves and nightstands made it moreso. But the oppressive, crushing silence was gone. For as much as Robert's heart still ached for them, as much as he'd miss them, things felt better. He felt better. He had hope again.

As tense and fearful as the night had been, the showdown with Duffy and fighting for his life, he knew this is what he wanted. He felt more alive than he had in months. Seeing those people freed made him feel good. He wanted to do it again. He wanted to be the one who stepped in and saved those rendered powerless to save themselves.

The last items he wanted were quickly rounded up. Robert was moving with a new pace, a pace that belied the return of his optimism and drive. His old life was gone now, gone the moment Duffy turned on him, but a new one awaited with so much promise. All that remained was keeping that connection to his old, more mundane life that would remind him of where he came from and what he ultimately stood for.

There were no siren lights when the police pulled up. He heard them through the open window nonetheless, the soft crackle of the gravel driveway a dead giveaway. Odds were they were good people, even if their boss was a corrupt man; he didn't want to fight them and possibly hurt them. "Dale to Kelley, one to beam up please," he said into the comm.

"A freaking moment," Barnes answered, clearly exasperated.

"I don't have it," Robert replied testily, watching the first police officer approaching the door. "I've got the cops here." He heard a knock and a call for his name, which he didn't answer.

"Okay.... everyone off the pad now!.... Alright, locking and beaming."

The sheriff deputy at the door put his shoulder into smashing it open. As he did so, white light enveloped Robert and the bag of belongings, the last ones he needed from this empty house.

His old life was now and truly gone. It was time to start the new one.

The facility wasn't quite so quiet now, not with nearly two hundred people milling about, children shouting in Spanish and very bad English while the adults made use of the fabricators to make food and furnishings for their quarters. In the command center volunteers from the group were meeting with Angel and Caterina to discuss their data infusions and potential roles as crew on the Kelley, while on the ship herself Barnes and Zack were busy inspecting the engines and machinery after their spaceflights.

The medbay of the facility had several occupants, mostly the workers with injuries. A couple of the young women in the group were getting the attentions of Leo's volunteer nurses - like Lucilla they had been to Phil Duffy's private room - while Leo attended to Lucilla. Robert and Julia looked on quietly. "You should be fine within the day," Leo assured her. "The technology here let me repair the damage to your body, now it's just about rest."

"Thanks, Leo," Lucilla answered. She looked over to Robert and Julia. "I can't believe this...."

"Nor could we."

"What are you doing about Duffy?", she asked angrily. "He and that bastrd son have a lot to answer for."

"We e-mailed all of Duffy's computer files to the federal prosecutors and several press outlets," Robert revealed. "With Duffy dead anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if Phil ends up in jail. Even if not, when the government's through with that company they'll be ruined."

"Good." She drew in breath. "So where do we go from here?"

"Well, you can just claim you were knocked unconscious by us," Julia pointed out. "Then return to town and be recognized only as our 'victim', not as our friend."

"Or you could join us," Robert added. "No pressure, but having you along... what you did, informing on a bastard like Duffy, took courage. We could use that."

"So just what are you planning to do?", Lucy asked. "Save the world?"

Robert allowed himself a grin. "Something along those lines, yeah.... maybe not the world, but there's a whole lot of people we can help."

"Well then.... count me in!"

Later that night Robert was trying to get some sleep in the quarters he had claimed for himself. He seemed to fade in and out of it as his mind wandered and refused to lie still. For all he felt the need for sleep he also felt himself animated like never before. He had real power at his fingertips here, power to do good in the world. To save people who would otherwise suffer hideously from the brutalities of the evil-hearted amongst them.

Or, at least, that's how he saw it.

As he turned again he heard his door open. He looked up to see Caterina standing in the doorway, in her dorky glasses and her equally dorky, if adorble, pink pajamas with the statement "Princess of Dorks!" written in light purple over the torso. "Cat?"

"You're never going to believe this!", she cried out. "Come on!"

Robert let out a breath and motioned for her to look away, giving him time to pull shorts on. "You'd be surprised what I believe now." At least before following Cat into the corridors. They met only a couple of people who were up lte, receiving waves as they did so and making Robert self-conscious of the fact that A) he was shirtless and B) his physique was hardly as good as it had once been.

Barnes was waiting for them at the lift. "This better be good, Cat," Barnes warned.

"Oh, it is! I found it in the schematics!" They took the lift to the lowest level, so low that the "ground" of the facilitty disapeared. They emerged from the lift and into an observation room.

It was a launch deck and command rooom with views of various confinement values in the system. Beyond them, through transparent metal windows, was a surprise for Robert. "That's...."

"Another ship!", Catarina boasted. "And it's a big one!"

Indeed it was. It looked enormously long, a sleek blue sheened two-part hull with a wide front part that tapered to a thin point at the bow. There were four engine nacelles arrayed in a flat X around the aft part of the hull. Dark windows marked parts of the hull.

"Oh wow," Cat whispered.

"You said it, Cat," Robert agreed.

At that moment Control shimmered into view. "Ah, you found the emergency vessel."

The three looked to the hologram. "Emergency vessel?", Robert asked.

"Yes. The ship you dubbed Kelley is primarily a scout vessel, with a small crew but limited combat capability. If a threat presented itself the vessel would be inadequate. So the basic structure of a vessel was included. It was a late addition, admittedly. Not all facilities were given vessels, and those that were received incomplete ships such as this."

"Looks pretty complete to me," Robert remarked.

"Internally it is not. There are no weapons, no generators for navigational and defense deflection, indeed even the engines need to be completed. It will take you quite a while, I'm afraid, and quite likely require more data infusions for Mister Barnes and others trained for it to complete. But it is an option for the future..."

"Yeah." Robert sighed, a sigh that turned into a yawn. "Anyway, time to go back to bed. We have a lot of work to do starting tomorrow..."

End Act 1
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-05-29 02:54am

Act 2

From space, Egypt at night was one long string of light following the Nile River. These lights represented millions of people, living together in close proximity as they hd for ages.

Sometimes they didn't get along well.

There was a building in an outlying area of Cairo that was barely lit and did not seem at all hospitable. It appeared to most as a vacnt apartment building between owners. But it had residents.

Not all of them were willing ones either.

The majority of Egyptians followed Islam, but there remained through the ages a minority who kept their Christian faith; they were the Copts. Many of their Islamic neighbors left them in peace. Sadly, not all did, and there remained a those who believed it was their divine right to take from the Copts what they pleased.

Things like their daughters.

In a quiet part of the building, there were two brief shimmers of light. When they ended, someone wtching might have briefly seen two figures, a male and femle, before they wavered out of sight.

"No splitting up this time." Zack checked the scanner display on his wrist device. The timer on his cloak was steadily ticking down while real-time sensor information from the Kelley showed him lifesigns.

"You're still mad about that dig site in Togo," Angel muttered, following him. Both were holding energy pistols out and ready should things get dicey.

"I got my jaw broken, so yeah," Zack pointed out irritably. "We're lucky Leo can fix things up so quickly...."

"Shhh..." Angel was concentrating as they neared a door. She saw that there were a handful of lifesigns within and gave Zack a nod. He stood watch while she pushed the door open. Within were four figures wearing local clothes, curled up on cots. She walked up to them and, checking on the nearest, glowered at the prominent acid burn on her right forearm. Most were asleep, but one was staring at the ceiling.

Angel turned off her cloak, drawing the girl's attention. "I'm here to help get you out," she whispered, hearing an echo of her voice that sounded in Arabic. "What's your name?"

"I'm... I'm Anaise."

"Are there any more girls here? Or is it just you four?"

"They brought in two more," she murmured quietly. Angel frowned, seeing she couldn't be older than fifteen. "We're to be sent off to be married tomorrow."

"No, you won't be." Angel tapped her wrist device. "Angel to Kelley. Lock on four life forms in this room for transport."

"I read you," an accented voice said on the other end. "Engaging."

The Coptic girl was looking at her in bewilderment, then shock as the transporter took hold of her. A small smile of wonderment was crossing her face as she disappeared in the white light.

Angel reactivated her cloak and left the room. "There are two more here," she told Zack. "We need to find them...." She was interrupted by a sudden outbreak of screaming.

"Looks like we have." With that wry remark he took off, Angel following. The screaming grew louder until they came to another room, this one slightly smaller, with chemical fumes in the air. There were two more girls present, one struggling and screaming as a pair of men held her down while another held her arm out with a cross tattoo pointed up, a fourth going for a pot of liquid. "Okay, let's...."

Before Zack could finish his suggestion for a plan of attack, Angel was already moving. She let out an angry battle cry and smashed the fourth man's jaw with her fist. She took the pot from him and tossed it into his face, causing him to scream in agony and writhe around as he fell. The other three men were staring in shock at this, only beginning to move when Angel flipped off her cloak and kicked the third one in the nose, freeing the girl's arm. The two remaining men took their hands off of her and let her slip away. Angel's fist found one, sending him to the ground. The other threw a punch that she avoided; instead she grabbed his arm in mid-air and hurled him over her shoulder and into the wall.

The third man, blood dripping from his nose, got to his feet and charged Angel. Blue light lashed out from nowhere and struck him, sending him down. Zack decloaked and fired into the other men, knocking them all out one at a time. "Zack here again, bring us up."

"Standby, we're transporting more rescuees from North Korea."

"We've got a few minutes," Zack answered, even as a walkie talkie in the room came alive with static-crackled Arabic.

Another gaggle of emaciated people materialized on the transporter. The man at the station was one of the "second batch" of rescuees named Miguel. He waved for them to get off with one hand while his other hand hit the controls to switch back to the signls from Zack qnd Angel.

"This is Suun, that was the last run, we need extraction now!"

"Standby, Suun," Miguel said as he worked on getting the lock on Zack and Angel. When he had it he activated the transport. Four figures coalesced from white light on the platform.

They had to immediately take cover as sparks erupted from the ceiling. As they jumped off the floor went nuts with sparks as well before the entire platform went dark. "No, no," Miguel cried out. He hit a key. "Engineering! Transporter is shorted out!"

"Suun here! They have RPGs! We need extraction..." There was an explosion in the background.

"Standby! Transporters have gone down!", Miguel shouted back.

It had been Lucy's turn to run Engineering, with Thomas Barnes off-shift and resting back at the Facility. Now she wished they'd swapped rotations as she went over every display, every control surface. "Shortout in the transporter systems, it'll take a mjor repair to get transporters back online!" She looked to Kwang, from their first batch of rescuees from North korea,, and pointed at the central table. "Watch the engine systems! I'm going to the main cargo transporter!"

"Yes ma'am!"

Lucy dashed off, as far as her legs could crry her. Thankfully the ship's small design put the cargo bay on the same deck as engineering, allowing her to avoid the lifts or the ladder tubes. The cargo bay was thankfully empty when she scrambled in and went to the trnsporter. Her fingers ran over the controls with blistering speed, aided by both the data infusions and months of practice. She locked on to the signatures of Suun and his team and triggered the transporters. "I've got them!", she crowed triumphantly as the figures materialized on the platform. "I've got...."

They finished materializing. And all Lucy could do was call for a medical team.

When the Kelley emerged from the dock's transport gate and latched onto the umbilicals, Julia couldn't get the ship into standby quickly enough. She handed over command to one of the "first group" rescuees and went straight for the command center, or rather a repurposed office nearby it.

It was with dismay, but not surprise, that she found Robert sitting at the desk, a holoscreen showing live television. He had clearly been asleep for a time, but even then dark circles had gathered under his eyes. A scruffy beard had appeared on his face and, after so much improvement the prior months, he was again starting to look like he was wasting away. "You're supposed to be off-shift," Julia said accusingly.

"I was looking up the media reports. Our op in Saudi Arabia got a little attention. How are the Briindleys setttling in?"

"Just fine." Julia walked up to him and forced the chair to spin. She stared him in the eyes, feeling hurt and upset and angry all at once. "God damn you, Robert," she hissed.

He looked at her like she'd gone mad. "Okay, should I be worried that Tom is playing around with the holo tech?"

"You're doing this again." She waved a hand over her face after taking too deep a breath. "And when is the last time you washed?"

"I don't remember." Robert tapped the table and some notes. "Anyway, with Control's help I think we've found China's new prison for dissidents, and the arrests that crazy Turkmenistani leader has made could bear some attention..."

Julia slammed her hand on the table, turning off the screen and making it vibrate from the harsh impact. "Robert, we have Control and otherr analysts compiling that stuff."

"I'm helping, though, it helps us compile targets faster," Robert replied. "And that means rescuing more people."


"I know, I know, I need rest," he continued. "And a shower. I... I just feel like every moment I spend doing something like that, another person is suffering horribly, in a way that I can prevent if only I were involved."

Julia took in a sigh. "You're not doing anyone any favors here, Roobert. We need you to stay fresh. And that's not all we need...."

"I know, I know," Robert said dismissively, as if being lectured by an aunt.

"Suun and his squad are dead, Robert."

The news made him visibly jolt. He looked at her with some confusion. "What? Their protection....."

"Not good enough against RPGs. And our main transporter went out, by the time Lucy hit the cargo transporter it was too late."

"Why wasn't anyone..."

"Because we're undermanned! Because we're only Human and we can only do so much. The Kelley needs maintenance work badly, not getting sent out every day with half crews when it's not ferrying people to Liberty." Julia gripped her shoulders. "You're... you're going too far with this. Yes, we want to help people. But we can't help them all. We can't. And if you can't accept that.... maybe you shouldn't be in charge."

He remained silent for a moment. After breathing for a moment he asked, "Tough love?"

"Oh no, this is soft." Julia grinned. "Tough love would be bringing Angel in here and letting her kick your ass."

He had to smirk at that. "Should I be worried that my dearest friend and ex-girlfriend are conspiring against me?"

"We're just keeping you from starving yourself." Julia stepped away from him. "You're doing good things, just remember that you can't let yourself go to waste trying to do too much. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a shower anyway and you need one even more than I do."

"I stink?"

"You rank with stinkiness," she clarified. "Your clothes are encrusted with sweat and BO."


"I'll make sure to have the cleaning systems wipe this place down, in fact, so the stink doesn't set in permanently."

"Double ouch."

"No." The denial echoed in the facility infirmary.

Caterina held her hands together. "Pleeeeease? It's the last one I'll ask for..."

"Doesn't matter, because you're not getting it," Leo insisted. He finished patching up the acid burn on one of the Coptic girls' arms. "You've already had your second data infusion. Given the size of the first one you can't take anymore for now, not without risking brain dmage."

"But there's so much to..."

"...to learn, yeah," Leo replied gruffly. "Same thing for me. And that's why I went to school for three years."

Caterina's eyes narrowed. "Angel put you up to this, didn't she?"

"She didn't have to." Leo looked up at the girl's vitals and, seeing they were well, smiled at her and bid her to go back to sleep. He moved Caterina away and towrd the side area he'd set up an office in. "Listen, I already know you're spending every waking moment not on duty reading library materials from the computer. Why do you want another infusion?"

"Because I want to understand this stuff..."

"More quickly?"

Caterina shrugged, sensing the contempt in Leo's voice. "Well... sorta?"

"That's the problem, Cat." Leo tapped her head. "You're a smart girl, but you're getting impatient with this. You've got to learn this stuff naturally. I know it's a lot to take in..."

"Oh it is! Learning all of these disciplines could take years!"

"Then get to it, Cat," Leo answered. "Stop trying to take the easy way out. And, well, I've got a couple dozen starving North Koreans to treat, so can you please resume your studies right away?"

Caterina made a pouty face, but it got her nothing but an eye roll and a sigh before Leo turned away. She sulked out of the infirmary.

The converted gym in the facility worked as training for hand-to-hand combat as well as simple sparring. A number of the people present, many of them young girls from across the globe, watched with enjoyment at the sparring going on in the left boxing ring and the two figures in black sports bra and biker shorts.

Julia gritted her teeth in the plastic teethguard she had as she ducked another kick from Angel. She retaliated with a quick jab that caught Angel in the belly, causing her to stumble back. Julia went on the offensive with a number of jabs and punches followed by a quick mid-level snap kick, the only blow that made contact with Angel.

Her success was explained a second later as Angel's fist crashed into her faceguard, delivering enough power to send her stumbling back. Before Julia could recover she took another punch to the face and a kick to the shoulder that sent her down. Angel descended on her and planted a knee to her sternum. "You're getting slower, Julie," she remarked.

"Not all of us get to do the constant Action Heroine stuff," Julia reminded her. "Someone has to run the ship after all."

"Yeah. And with Robert being stubborn..." She helped Julia stand up. "Is he in bed?"

"He should be."

"Because if he's not I'm going to go kick his butt," Angel continued. They got out of the ring and headed to the lockers and showers. "Sometimes I think we should be doing more, though. I see all of this suffering, and here I am playing around instead of doing something else to stop it."

"I know the feeling too, Angel," Julia answered. Seeing Lucy in the Duffys' torture room had only been the first of a number of horrible sights these past few months. "But we've got to keep our heads on as well. We can't save anyone if we get ourselves killed from lack of sleep or because the equipment fails."

"True enough." Angel sighed. "All I know is that I want a hot shower and a long sleep. We'll let Tom decide when the Kelley is going back out."

"Three days."

Robert, Julia, Leo, and Gabriel were sitting along with Barnes and Lucilla. "Three days before the ship is ready?", Robert asked increduously.

"Yeah, with normal shifts. And that's all we can damned do with how tired everyone is." Barnes tapped the table. "I might be able to shave it to two and a half if everything goes well, but the Kelley needs major parts replacements and a lot of basic maintenance work for her drives and power systems. We can't take the ship back out before it's done."

"We're due at Liberty in five days for the supply run," Gabriel remarked. Having been the leader of the rescuees from Duffy's farm, he had quickly ended up in charge of the handling of both the influx of new rescuees and handling the supply needs for the Liberty Colony. That he had an added benefit of age and wisdom to go with his younger cohorts made him arguably the most indispensible member of the "Oversight Council" for the Facility. "So you have plenty of time, Mister Barnes."

The meeting continued on to other little issues such as ensuring the fabricating of parts and supplies needed for the colony and the announcement that the famiies of the rescued Coptic girls had settled in, providing four recruits for the moment in need of data infusions after Leo vetted them. As it went to conclude, Leo spoke up. "One last thing. I believe we should have Robert take a three day leave effective immediately."

Robert shook his head. "That's not..."

"Seconded," Gabriel quickly said.

"Thirded," Julia added before a further protest could be had. "The ayes have it."

Robert drew in a sigh while Lucilla let out a giggle. "Okay, okay, I get the point. I slept well enough last night, I'll take it easy and get more to eat and all that stuff."

"Good," Gabriel said with the nodding agreement of the others. "If that is all, business is done and we are adjourned."

Robert had lied.

His bed was a mess from tossing and turning. Every second he was tormented by screams, the imagined screams of a world of victims calling out to him, begging for rescue, demanding to know why he hadn't saved them. Why he was laying on a comfortable bed in a climate controlled room while they were suffering in a filthy gulag or a dank dungeon.

When sleep refused to come he got up and hit the shower again, trying to focus his thoughts. This was stupid. He couldn't be everywhere at once. He couldn't keep going. He was Human.

I guess this is how Superman is supposed to feel, he wondered.

When he got out of the shower he laid back down. He felt more tired now and sleep finally seeped in.

As his eyes closed, Robert realized he had another issue. A guilt that had been silently building and, without work to keep it at bay, was refusing to die down.


Caterina was alone in Facility Command looking up the equations for subspace inversions when she saw Robert enter out of the corner of her eye. "Shouldn't you be on leave?"

"I am," Robert asked. "Control?"

The hologram flashed to existence in the center. "I hope you're not going to ask me for work-related information, Julia's orders were quite clear."

"Perish the thought," Robert sighed. "No, I need to know if you can fake a satellite hookup so I can make a phone call."

Caterina turned and looked at him like he was nuts. Control stared for a second. "Ah, yes, your form of telecommunication. I believe it is possible. I will need a contact number?"

Robert easily recalled the number from memory. A dial tone soon sounded over the command room's comm. A female voice answered. "Hello?"

"Hey cousin, how's the rainforest?"

There was a sharp intake of breath on the other end. "Oh my God... Robert?! Robert, where... what...."

"I'm sorry for not calling, I've been busy."

"Busy?! Robert! I have the FBI bugging me about you! People are calling you a murderer!"

"I was defending myself," Robert sighed. "Listen, I'm sorry about all this. I wanted to let you know I'm okay."

"You've got the FBI hunting you down across the country, Robert, I fail to see how that's okay! And you've lost Grandpa's farm too!"

Caterina was listening enough to wince. Robert drew in a sigh. "it was doomed, Beth, even if Dad had remained around. Duffy was ruining every other farm in the county."

"So that's why you shot him?!"

"He was trying to kill me, Beth." Breathing in another sigh, Robert rubbed his forehead. "Listen, I'd love to explain, but not over the phone. I'll talk to you later." He motioned to Control, who cut the line. "Control, you can beam me to the Portland area, right?"

"The Portland.... Ah, I see. Yes. It's outside the effectiveness cone for my systems in the facility so I'm afraid I can only transport three or so persons at the most."

"It'd just be me," Robert answered. "Not tonight. I'll find her tomorrow."

"I will be ready at your command, sir."

Elizabeth Rankin - "Beth" - worked in downtown Portland and tended to take her lunch near the Maritime Museum along the Willamette. She found a bench to sit at, watching tourists and locals walk by as she enjoyed the lunch.

A shadow moved over her, after which a weight settled on the bench beside her. "Excuse me, but..." She looked over at the figure in the hat and saw his face. Her eyes widened. "Robert?!"

"Hey Beth," Robert answered. "How's life?"

"Better when I wasn't being hounded over my fugitive cousin," Beth countered. "What are you doing here, Robert? Wait, no, please don't, I don't want to get arrested for helping you."

"Trust me, Beth, I won't let anything happen to you," Robert replied. "I... I needed to show you something. To show you that something wonderous has happened."

Beth looked at him. "Something like being wanted for murder?"

Robert shook his head. "No. Something truly wonderous. Something...."

A suited man was walking past them as he spoke. Suddenly the figure turned toward them and Robert found himself staring down a gun barrel. "Federal agent!", the man called out. "Don't move!"

Beth shrieked in surprise. Robert did nothing, said nothing, but stared into the barrel and the eyes of the man behind it until other men, wearing federal agent jackets, were on either side of him forcing him to his feet. He offered no resistance as they placed handcuffs on his wrists but did call out when they started to cuff Beth. "Wait, no! She's not involved in this! Let her go! Let her go dammit!"

For all he protested, it was no good, and both of them were soon in a black van being sped away through downtown Portland.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-02 01:19am

"He did what?!"

Julia fell back into her chair in the command room. "Control, you should have told me!"

"I did not forsee any issue," the system answered quietly. "I can, indeed, recover him now if you want?"

Julia rubbed her forehead even as one of the federal agents holding Robert was speaking, his voice carried unknowingly to them. "...right here. You'll want to think of cooperating while you wait, it will make it easier."

"I already told you it was self-defense. I just want to see my cousin and make sure she's let out."

"That's up to the Justice Department, we have her on aiding and abetting."

"Bullcrap, she hasn't done anything to help me...."

"She didn't report the phone contact you made with her, that's good enough for now..."

The door opened and Zack entered. "Leo just told me. Did he really get himself arrested?!"

"He was trying to meet Beth," Angel answered from her chair on the side. "They got picked up almost right away."

Julia stared daggers at her. "You should have also called me."

"There was no need," Angel retorted. "Robert can handle himself."

"Really?! Looking like he does, you think he can handle himself the way his mind is now?!", Julia shouted.

"Woh, hold it, hold it!", Zack called out, stepping between them. "I don't have a camera, so let's not have a cat fight. We'll just beam Robert back."

"He's made it as clear as he can that he doesn't want beamout until he can confirm Beth will be okay," was Angel's answer.

"Alright... so why don't we go get Tom to get the Kelley ready for an emergency launch? We launch, use the sensors to find her too and beam them both out...."

"...and give the Federal Government plenty of evidence of our technological abilities," Julia finished for him, irritated. "Tom already took the sublight engines apart for the repair work, it'll be hours before he could put them back together. And hours more to finish the repairs to the power systems."

"If we wait that long, Robert might get moved. Something might happen and we lose track of him. And no telling what happens to poor Beth. Let me go get him out."

"Assaulting federal offices in the middle of Downtown Portland is not a good way to keep our capabilities secret either." Julia sighed. "Maybe... Robert." She keyed the system so he could hear her through his implant. "Let me know if you're alone enough to get away with a beamout."

"I understand, sir, why you need to hold Beth for the moment," Robert began saying. It was clearly code for understanding Julia's message.

"Our secret's going to be out eventually," Angel remarked. "We should just take him back, let them fret about our beaming technology."

"If it comes down to it, I'll do that, but only when we have no other choice." Julia settled back into the seat. "For now, let's see how things develop."

Robert was handcuffed to a table and alone in the interrogation room for a while before the door finally opened, admitting a dark-and-gray bearded older man in a black "I'm a Federal Agent" suit. He had a folder with him that he set on the table. "You'll understand if I don't remove the cuffs, hopefully you're not too uncomfortable," the man said. "I'm Agent Jones."

"Here I was hoping for an Agent Smith," Robert remarked sardonically.

The older man smirked. "Yes, well... we can't always have what we want."

"My cousin is innocent, please release her. I'll go on trial for what happened to Mr. Duffy but she had nothing to do with it and she hasn't been helping me."

Robert waited for a response, but he only got a blank stare. "Duffy? Who is.... oh." He nodded in understanding. "The man who you shot. Young man.... this is far beyond that." "Agent Jones" reached into the folder and pulled out photos. They were partly grainy in some cases, but all were recognizable for having Robert in them, and all showed him during the rescue missions he'd joined in recent months.

Jones was quick to the point. "How is it that a young, untrained farmboy from Kansas ends up raiding top security prisons and facilities across North Korea, Cuba, China, and a number of other nations?"

Robert remained quiet.

"We have several prominent dissidents from countries all over the world being rescued by a bunch of young Americans, who somehow scare the crap out of all of these governments to the extent that they refuse to hand over the tapes? Who, meanwhile, are accusing the US Government of interfering in their internal affairs, and are threatening action against us as a result. We are understandably concerned, young man."

"Maybe someone should be interfering in their internal affairs, if they're out torturing and brutalizing their own people," Robert retorted. He figured there was no point in denial.

"So that's it? You're mixed up in some kind of international radical society? What's their name? Their purpose? Where is their HQ?" When Robert didn't answer, Jones went on. "Young man, there's no way you are doing this on your own. Someone is overseeing this, someone with a lot of resources who can be very dangerous. We want names or any other information you can give on them. Before your efforts destabilize the world to hell and back." When Robert remained silent, Jones thumped the stack of photos together and put themin the folder. "You need to understand your predicament, son. There won't be a trial. You'll just sit in a cell while we let all the regimes you've attacked fight over you. Nobody will know what happened to you or your cousin."

"We have rights," Robert said through clenched teeth.

"Your rights? The world's quietly reeling because of you. Your rights don't mean a damn to anyone. Now, if you cooperate... we focus on your bosses and you go to Kansas for that whole Duffy thing. We come to bat for you, say you were helping a federal investigation, back your story that Duffy tried to kill you. That's the offer, son, take it or leave it."

He remained quiet for several moments. He had to avoid making it too urgent, and it was only when Jones stood and stepped toward the door that Robert called out. "I want to see my cousin first," he insisted. "Bring Beth here so I can talk with her. Then I'll give you what you want." He tried not to grin; he'd give them what they wanted indeed.

Jones looked at him for several seconds. "I'll see what I can do," he offered finally before stepping out.

In the Facility Command Room, the exchange was overheard. "It had to happen sooner or later," Julia sighed. "They still don't know the extent..."

"Send me and Angel in," Zack urged. "We'll get them out even if we have to shoot the place up."

"Even if we put you in the room with Robert, you'll still have to find Beth and hope they don't move her out of the building before you do." Julia smacked her hand on the station. "Dammit! He should have waited until the Kelley was done with repairs! Of all the times to be without our ship..."

Robert was thinking quietly to himself about this predicament. He didn't doubt the others would get him out.... but this changed things. Knowing that world governments were onto them, even with the Facility's capabilities he found it daunting having to consider taking them all on.

I've been naive. I've been childish. Of course they'd catch on eventually. Even if they didn't know the extent of what we could do, they'd know something was up.

And now he'd gotten Beth into trouble. He'd been arrogant, overconfident, and the lack of sleep and taking care of himself had dulled his mind. What if they didn't bring her in? What if he couldn't rescue her, and she went to prison because of his screw-ups?

For months now he'd agonized over resting because of the people suffering in the world. Now he began to wonder how many he could save if he didn't keep himself mentally and physically fit. And how many would he hurt? He'd already hurt Beth...

"It's going to change," Robert muttered to himself. "I'm going to do better."

After more silence the door opened. Jones returned and Robert's heart lifted when he brought Beth in with him. She was handcuffed to the same bar on the table Robert was. When she looked at him, her anger and frustration was evident, even though it was mixed with clear worry for him. "Robert..."

"If you cooperate, Mister Dale, we'll release Beth," Jones said softly. "Now, I have acted in good faith. I would like to see you do the same."

Robert nodded to him. He looked to Beth. "Beth, despite how bad it seems, something wonderful has happened." He took her hands with his own. "Something I want to show you."

In Facility Command Julia heard those words and nodded. "That's it, then. Control, he's holding her somehow. Get them both."

"And there goes our secret," Zack sighed.

The look on Beth's face turned to surprise as the sensation of the transporter took hold of her. Robert's expression brightened as he looked to Agent Jones, who was staring with a dropped jaw as light formed around them.

The interrogation room dissolved, replaced by Facility Command. Without chairs to sit in they both hit the floor. "What... what was that?!", Beth shouted. She began looking around in a panic, the sudden shift in environment and fall to the floor adding to her bewilderment.

"It's okay, it's okay," Robert urged her. He stood up and helped her to her feet. She looked around at the others. "Welcome to the Facility. It's...."

"I should punch you," Julia said coldly, standing up. "You idiot. And you knew the Kelley was laid up too!"

Beth had been about to ask "What is this place?" when she saw Julia and recognized her. "Julie Andreys? You're here too?"

"Hey Beth, don't know if you remember me..." Zack raised a hand.

She turned and rolled her eyes at him. "Oh, I don't always forget teenagers who hit on me, Zack Carrey" was her reply, causing Robert to smirk. Beth, for her part, looked on to where the Delgado sisters were sitting. "Angel, good to see you. And little Cat?" She turned back to Robert. "Rob... what the hell is going on here? What have you been.... what is this...."

"It's a bit much, I know," Robert replied. "I'll explain it to you."

Hours later, the cousins were enjoying a dinner together. Robert had answered all of Beth's questions as best as he could, the time reinforcing for her that this was "really happening". "So, if you have access to all this technology, why do you look like you're wasting away?", Beth asked pointedly.

Robert remained silent for a moment and put his hands together. "I... I can't sleep, or rest. Not without feeling that I'm letting people down. Honestly, there are times I think I can hear screams when I start to sleep...."

Beth shook her head. "Always the idealist, aren't you?" She smiled thinly. "Robert, you're not Superman. You won't be helping anyone if you work yourself to death."

"Everyone's been saying that, yes."

"And they're right. But if you won't listen to them, then you're damned well going to listen to me." Beth took a bite of her dinner. "So... I guess my life is over too now, huh?"

"I'm sorry, Beth. I... I never imagined..."

Beth stared at the plate for a moment. "Yes, well... my life wasn't exactly going in the direction I wanted it to. I'm a single woman managing a struggling retail store with little hope of advancement. But this? This really is wondrous." She raised her eyes at him and smiled. "Grandpa would be proud, Robert. He'd say you were doing the right thing."

Robert said nothing.

"But there is room for improvement," she continued. "This whole thing with your ship going down? You're not using the resources you have, not the right way. Well, I'm going to change that. You need a manager, Robert."

A small grin came to him. "The Council will welcome that."

"Good. For starters, you take two days off a week, more if you do a lot of rescue work. And we're going to have to see about having more ships built. Having just the one is a recipe for disaster."

"There's a ship in the bottom levels, but Thomas thinks it'll take a year, or more, to finish it," Robert answered. "And that's if we get someone who knows how to build spaceships."

"Then we find another way for the moment. Why not more ships like the Kelley? Presumably you have the plans somewhere...."

"That's a good thought, actually...."

Beth smiled. "And, as one last thing... just how the hell are we supposed to get my stuff? They'll be watching my apartment like a hawk and I'm sure they'll be taking stuff soon enough."

Robert thought for a moment. "Control?"

The hologram shimmered into view. "Yes?"

"My cousin has personal things she'd like to recover from her home. We can bet that police agents will be watching it, and they know we can transport things so I'm not sure we can sneak in and out. Do you think your systems could handle moving non-living items out?"

"Without a signal, sir, it'd be very difficult. But I could attempt wide area transports into a secure containment zone, and remove any unwanted items as needed," Control replied.

Robert grinned. "Go ahead then. We'll meet you at the containment zone."

The next day, Gabriel was introduced to Beth, who sat beside Lucy to listen as she gave the report on the Kelley. It would be ready for the next trip to the Liberty Colony. Afterward, everyone invited Beth to speak.

After going over some of the materials issues, inefficiencies in housing or staffing, she got to the gist of the matter. "We need more ships."

"It'll take us a long while to get the big ship at the bottom of the base going," Lucy remarked. "I mean, the internals have to be constructed and built...."

Beth nodded. "Yes, I know. But why not simply make more ships like the Kelley? Is it a lack of resources? I mean, you have the plans...?"

The assembled looked at each other. When he received nods from the others, Robert called out, "Control?"

The hologram appeared as requested. "Yes? How might I help the Council?"

"I feel stupid for never asking... but I know we have plenty of extra docks. Couldn't we put resources into building more ships like the Kelley?"

Control reacted quickly. "Ah... it is possible, yes. This facility was made to construct at least a few of these ships on existing resources. Eventually we'll need more exotic materials. We only have so much naqia for the reactors, for instance. And protocol dictates that we not hinder the potential development of the emergency vessel. But I believe we can build five or so ships of the Kelley's type without needing more resources."

"I'd like to be able to build more," Robert mused. "What if we just built, say, two more? And used those resources to build mining stations or whatever we need to have higher production?"

"There are some prefabricated parts for space stations and facilities that you have not yet used for the Liberty Colony," Control answered. "That would be an acceptable use."

"Make it three more, then," Beth said. "Four ships. That means that you can have two out of our solar system for whatever missions we need, one in the system should we need it, and one ship in dock for maintenance."

"If that is the will of the Council, I will make the necessary preparations and give Mister Barnes and his teams the assistance they need."

There were nods. Control's hologram faded from view. "I think we need to discuss yesterday on another matter," Gabriel said. "It's becoming clear that several governments are aware of us. They will take measures. We already saw that with what happened to Suun's mission."

"The North Koreans laid a trap for us, even if they didn't know what they were dealing with," Julia agreed. "We have to expect more along this line. And now that the US government knows we have super-technology at our disposal they're going to be looking for us."

"Still, do we have to stop helping people?" Robert shook his head. "We'll need the crews for the extra ships anyway, so I think we shouldn't stop. We'll just be more careful. We were getting careless. I'm guilty of it myself." He shared a look with Beth. "But there's something else as well, something to consider. Control's already showed us that the technology on the Kelley allows it to go to other universes. We haven't even bothered trying that yet."

"And you think we should start?", Julia asked.

"Why not? We might find other worlds with people who need help. Or we could find advanced societies willing to help us do this work."

"Or we could find crazy tyrants who will steal our technology and use it to conquer everything," Beth pointed out.

Robert had to nod. "Yeah, we'll have to be careful. But... I think this is something we should consider. Control even said that much, that these facilities were meant to resume the Darglan exploration of the Multiverse. The Darglan are gone, but we could take up that work."

"It's an idea, at least," Gabriel conceded. "But one we should wait on until we have more ships."

Everyone nodded. "Well, we'll see about building more ships. For now, I think we need to get ready to load the Kelley for our next trip to Liberty..."

Caterina was half asleep at her personal computer in her quarters. The materials of the Darglan computers still beckoned to her, but she was getting so tired, so so tired....

Her finger slipped and she shifted to another library in the system. This one was not science, though, but was clearly Darglan writings in the fields of history, philosophy, and religion. Her eyes glanced over the texts. "Hrm." She let out a yawn as the entries poked at her brain. Some, like "Key of Time" and "Essence Ascension", sounded interesting but not of immediate importance.... while "Mass Relay Network" sounded far more intriguing.

On the other hand.... an entry about "Asgard"? why did the Darglan even care about Norse mythology?

Another yawn came out of Caterina. She could feel her brain demanding sleep and decided to obey it. She quickly slipped into her "Princess of Dorks" jammies and went to bed.

The look of amazement on Beth's face was infectious as Zack brought the Kelley out of warp. Ahead of them an Earth-like planet was hovering, a blue jewel in the void. Robert stood from the command chair and put a hand on his cousin's shoulder. "There it is. We already know of six life-bearing worlds within ten light years of Earth, and there's a moon that could potentially bear life with work."

"It's just... it's like living in science fiction," Beth breathed. She looked to him and grinned. "Are they really ready for me?"

"I talked with all of the community leaders. They all agreed they need someone who knows about managing resources and labor." Robert nodded at her. "And we'll have you on comms to keep us in line on running the Facility as well. But there are now thousands of people here on Liberty who need your expertise. Granted, almost none speak English as a normal language..." He smirked. "But that's where the translator implants come in."

"Yeah." Beth nodded and looked at the viewscreen again. "It's just.... four days ago I was a manager of a craft store. Now I'm.... All of these lives are in my hands now. It's all so big now."

"Yeah." Robert sighed. "But it's worth it. We're helping people. We're building something. In the end, I think that's all that matters." He took her hand. "Here, I'll walk you to the transporter room."

"Yeah.... one moment though." She smiled and looked back to the viewscreen. "I want to watch as we make orbit. I want to see the sun coming up over the planet from this angle, just once."

"One sunrise coming up," Zack said from the helm, smiling as he adjusted the course. "Never let it be said that I disappoint a good looking girl."

"Funny." Beth smirked. "Since I remember a few comments to the contrary when I lived at the farm..."

Zack groaned and clutched jokingly at his heart while, unable to help themselves, everyone else on the bridge laughed. As the laughter died down, Beth took Robert's hand. "Take care of yourself, Robert. You won't do any good if you're sick and worn down. Take breaks when you need them. I'll be keeping touch with Angel and Julia to make sure you're not being an idiot anymore."

"I learned my lesson," Robert sighed. "Don't worry, I'll be fine."

The cousins took a last look at the sun coming up over the terminator of the planet below them. Beth's eyes teared up a little at the beauty of the scene, still almost convinced of its impossibility, before she allowed Robert to see her off to the transporter room.

End Act 2
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-06 04:02am

Act 3

The torrential rains had soaked Angel to the bone, prompting her to growl inaudibly at how miserably wet and soggy she was. And despite it all, the heat was still horrible, altogether making her sweat even under the full-body dark and blue combat suit she had donned. The Darglan-make suit acted as armor while having an inbuilt scanning system that displayed from the left wrist. She looked over to her compatriot; Julia was equally as miserable, but was doing more to hide it. "We should've let Zack take this turn."

"It's Zack's rotation for command," Julia reminded her. "Even if he gripes about it... Okay, they're coming." She pointed to the holo display her suit was showing.

The life signs on the road came soon enough. A family of blacks in tattered, ruined linen cloth, carrying all they owned. "Their timing was lousy," Angel muttered.

"They couldn't know we were coming, can't blame them for trying," Julia whispered back.

The family ran by, at least until the mud gave out under the feet of the smallest, a child no older than six. "Oh Lord, John!", one of the figures cried out, a woman by the tone. The thin figure turned and helped the child to his feet.

There was a louder sound coming down the road, the distinct sound of more and heavier legs pushing through the wet soil. "It's da hounds!", the child cried.

"I think that's our cue," Angel remarked. She pulled out a sidearm she'd gotten from the armory. "Now to try this thing out in the field."

A lean, angry black hound moved into view, heading right for the fleeing group, a cacophony of barking breaking out behind it. Angel held the weapon up and felt the neural link from her fingers on the handle come into place, confirming the firing mode she wanted. Julia smirked and shook her head as Angel jumped out of the trees in a roll. She leveled out and pulled the trigger; bright blue energy pulses followed her aim and knocked the rushing canines back.

A gruff figure led a trio of horsemen who had been following the hounds. They stopped in a moment of startlement, their wide-brimmed hats protecting their faces from the rain. An almost stereotypical Southern accent called out, "What in the devil...?!"

Angel growled and leveled the weapon. This time when it fired it was a beam, and a wide one that struck all three horses and their riders at once. They all went down. But the horses had caught the brunt of the shots, so the riders slowly recovered.

Angel had holstered her pistol, preferring to punch out the slave-chasers, but Julia spoiled her fun with shots from her own gun. All three figures were soon out cold, getting rained on. "Spoilsport," Angel fumed.

Julia stepped out of the trees, holstering her weapon. They looked to the frightened family. "Please, don't run, we've come to help you escape," she said urgently.

They all stared wordlessly.

"Just once I want people to be amazed," Angel sighed. "Just once. If they'd just show some imagination..."

"Not a lot of time for that when you're a plantation slave in the Old South." Julia brought up her comm. "Andreys to Kelley, please tell us the queue is empty."

Zack's voice replied quickly. "Just have one more transport on the board."

"You're just doing this to get us soaking wet!", Angel charged.

There was a chuckle on the other end, allowing them to imagine the same goofy smirk. "What can I say, I'm good at getting girls..."

"Zack, if you say 'wet', I will make sure every eligible girl knows what happened with you and Clara Davis," Julia warned. "Every. Single. One."

"... I was going to say soaked?"

Julia and Angel looked at each other and rolled their eyes moments before the transporter whisked them away.

Robert was standing in Facility Control when the Kelley returned. Zack appeared on one of the screens. "Well, that was a successful run," he said. "One visit to an Earth set at 1852 completed successfully. They're a bit frightened but Kunta has been with them, so it's getting better."

"That's good. I'll hear from you when docking sequence is complete." Robert ended the transmission and breathed in a sigh. It had been hard enough with people from their world; checking out alternate Earths was making the job even more complex. But they're still people. They deserve a better chance. His eyes spied a news report being piped in; a reported mass hostage situation somewhere in Kansas not far from his hometown. He looked intently at it. "Control? Can you check on this news feed?"

"Checking now." Control flashed into place beside him, looking as dapper as always. "Hrm... I'm checking with our stealth probes now. There are indeed unarmed and armed people in that structure. I'm also reading several armed personnel on the floor immediately above. It's not consistant with more logical security plans by such men, and given similarities....."

"Another trap," Robert sighed. "Don't they get tired of this?"

"It is reasonable that the planetary governments of your world look to discover more about your activities. We displayed our technology rather brazenly."

"I know, I know, and my ears still ring with Julia's lecturing whenever I think about it." Robert tapped the table. "And the ships...?"

"The Rodriguez will be ready for launch at the end of the week. The Park and Weaver are on schedule. The Kirby is, however, not. I'm afraid some of our projections on resource allocation were off and we will need more raw trinium, among other rare materials, to finish full part fabrication."

"What the hell is trinium anyway...?" Dale held up a hand. "And no, Cat, I..."

"You should want to know," Caterina remarked defiantly. She was in her favored pink and purple outfit as always, though it didn't match the dorkiness of her favored pajamas. "It's a vital ingredient for starship armor and hull alloys. Even if we can only process alloys with a few parts per hundred..."

"Yes, I know. Thomas bored the entire Council with this talk."

"Given this is about the stuff that keeps us from sucking vacuum..."

"I know, I know..." Robert saw the Kelley had finished docking. "I'm going to go check up on Zack and the others. You're on watch now, Cat."

After an amusing debriefing with Angel and Julia still fielding damp hair, Robert and Zack stood alone in their conference room. The synthetic wood table was a newer addition, something to move away from the drab design the room had before, and Robert enjoyed the feel of the grain on the table even if it wasn't real wood. "So, how was your first command?"

"It went swell," Zack answered. Seeing that his tone had made clear other thoughts, he continued. "Okay, Rob? I'm not sure about this..."

"Why not?"

"I... okay, I do not think I could make the hard choices if it came down to it. And honestly..." He rubbed his forehead. "Okay, look... you've all found things here. You get to fulfill every idealistic fantasy of being the shining knight you've ever had. Julia gets to be the heroine while making sure you're okay. Angel, hell, Angel gets to beat people up who deserve it, that's good enough for her, Cat gets to play with superscience, and Leo is all gung-ho Mister Doctor in curing illnesses and the like. Me? I'm a fifth wheel here. Hell, even Beth and Lucy have found places they enjoy while I'm just... I'm just filling in." Zack raised his hands in frustration. "I don't know what I'm doing here."

It was with the affection of a long-time friend that Robert gave a nod. "I understand, Zack. And I don't want you to feel pressured about this. If you want to take some time off, hell, if you want to simply step away..."

"And do what, Rob?" Zack's voice took a small edge to it. "If they've got your picture they've got mine. I'd be snapped up as soon as they knew I was around. Hell, my old man might sell me out just for reward money. Or a lifetime supply of liquor..." He put his head in his hands. "I've got no life to go back to. Nothing I wanted to do. I gave it all up with the rest of you. And as fun as this is sometimes, and as warm and fuzzy as it can feel to save people from this horrible crap.... I don't know. I..."

"How about some time off then?", Robert offered. "Or maybe some time at the Liberty Colony? I mean, it's not all work there, and since you're with us they'd treat you well." Knowing his friend, Robert grinned and added, "Some really cute girls, I imagine."

"Oh, you know me too well." After that reply, spoken lowly but with some mirth, Zack shook his head. "I think... for now, let's stick with me flying the ship? I'm okay with that. I like flying the Kelley. And I'll think on the rest."

"Sounds like a plan," Robert agreed.

The sight of human suffering still made Leo's blood go cold, even after months of seeing it. He was running a device that the Darglan translator called a "dermal regenerator" over the whip-scarred back of a sixteen year old boy picked up by the Kelley's last run. "How you do dat?", the boy asked. "Not magic?"

"No, not magic," Leo sighed. "And the proper grammar is 'How are you doing that?'...." He stopped himself too late. White slave-owners of the old South didn't particularly care for education of their captive work force. "Keep holding still, the scarring is healing nicely."

Thankfully the boy didn't ask who Leo's owner was. He'd scowled the first few times; no matter how much friendship and even deference Robert, Julia, Zack, and the others showed, it seemed impossible to these poor broken people that a black person could be anything but a slave, or a subordinate. They were stunned enough to see that he was a real doctor, that he could heal wounds and treat terrible illnesses by himself.

A part of Leo was thinking of asking to join the next run to this 1852 Earth. A part that, for good or ill, wanted to do great violence. It was not a pleasant thing to consider. Leo saw himself as a healer, after all. He mended bones, he didn't break them.

Worst of all was the fact that, as a healer, he was capable of inflicting quite a lot of harm too.

The door whisked open and admitted Nasri, a Darfurian woman who, after her rescue and treatment by Leo and his nurses, had volunteered to be trained in the medical arts as well. Leo smiled at her with welcome and let her take over. "Getting the hang of it, I see."

"Yes," she said, her accent thick. She was endeavoring to learn English beyond the translator implants. She gave him a thin smile. "There are more in the other ward. I have talked to the young girls about what has happened to them, I think they are calmer now."

Leo's heart felt cold about what had been discussed; he'd treated far, far too many cases of such in these months. The tortures and violations he'd had to mend and heal sometimes made him feel doubt, doubt about the supposed innate goodness in people, or even if there was a benevolent higher power in the world. He found he'd stopped praying as of late.

Nasri finished treating the boy and looked over to Leo, seeing the stony expression on his face. "Are you okay, my friend?"

Leo shook his head. "I... I don't know if I'll ever be okay again, Nasri. I don't know if I'll ever be okay again. I'll be in the office."

His office was a nearby room set up with a desk, a personal comp, and displays on the walls for files. He'd put a few personal items in it, but a lot of his things were still in his quarters. Leo checked his requisitions requests to the staff manning Facility Command and the incoming requests from Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Huang on Liberty. He went on to looking over reports when the door opened. He looked up and saw Barnes standing there. "No."

Barnes looked at him. "What?"

"You're here to ask me for a data infusion. You've had two infusions inside a six month period, and I'll remind you that the last one left you with headaches for four days. Your brain can't take on the extra stress right now. You need more time."

"But I'm this damned close, Leo! I'm almost skilled enough that I can start work on the big ship in the bottom of the Facility!"

"It'll still be there in four months. That's the soonest I'll okay another infusion," Leo insisted. "Now, I'm busy, and you're supposed to be busy too as I recall."

"Yeah, yeah." Barnes walked off, grumbling.

Watching him go, Leo shook his head. His friends were the only light in his life; he'd be damned if he let them melt their brains from their own impatience. He went back to work, this time checking to see if everything was ready for Dr. Rheem to take over so he could join the next trip to the Liberty Colony.

When Barnes returned to the engineering chamber of the Weaver, Lucy was not waiting for him but already overseeing the teams installing the naqia reactors. He walked up and leaned against the wall. "Going good?"

"Yeah." She looked back at him. "He said no?"

"He said no."

"And I've already had my limit." Lucy sighed. "Oh well. Plenty of work left. I've been thinking of using some of our leftover materials for another project. A series of, well, not full ships, but they'd have the space-warp drives so they could run about for us, take supplies to Liberty and the mining stations and bring stuff back."

"Just how many people would these 'runabouts' of yours need?", Barnes asked. "Even with the new volunteers we'll be full up crewing the new ships."

"No more than a half-dozen, and only on long runs. Short ones could be as few as two or four."

"Hrm... bring it up with Rob, Julie, Leo, and Gabe then," Barnes said. "Now I want to check those drive plasma lines..."

"The ayes have it then." Julia smiled at Lucy, who was beaming. "The runabout production is authorized. You'll still have to do your scheduled shifts with the Kelley for our next trip to Liberty, but when you get back you'll focus on that instead."

"Of course," Lucy answered.

"If that's all our business..." Julia noticed Robert move his hand. "Yes?"

"I think it's about time we stopped ignoring the constant attempts by the US Government to trap us," he replied. "And I don't mind springing one just to humiliate them, I mean trying something to make them realize we're not a threat."

"They won't be happy unless we accept direction from them, and I'll be damned if we do that," Leo responded.

"On the other hand... trying to open talks should make them less paranoid," Gabriel pointed out. "Did you have an idea for that, Robert?"

"Not at the moment. But I wanted to broach the idea, and have a discussion on what precisely we're willing to offer to make them feel better."

"We could always offer them a seat on the Facility Council," Julia said. "What do you think?"

"I think this is stupid," Leo muttered. "Any US government agent we admit here is going to be a spy and will turn on us the moment he's ordered to. My vote will be no."

"I think it best we discuss this further before doing anything. Perhaps after we get the input of the Assembly on Liberty."

"Agreed," Robert said, nodding to Gabriel. "If that's all, I'll go get prepared for the mission."

They voted to adjourn.

The Kelley was coming out of warp past lunar orbit as it always did, fresh from a run of rescuees and supplies to Liberty. For the first time it was returning with cargo as well; the fruits of a mining outpost in the system with trinium and other rare metals they needed.

On the bridge, Robert was at command while the piloting was in the hands of Peter, one of the rescued youths from Togo. "Bringing us into orbit on the far side of the moon, sir."

"You're a natural at this, Pete. I should take lessons from you." Robert smiled and enjoyed the sunlit side of the moon passing below them. He didn't think he'd ever get tired of this. "Alright, prepare to link the drive to..."

"I'm picking up an emergency relay from Probe A4P5," Magda, a rescued girl from Colombia, said from Ops.

"Which universe is that again?" Robert got up and went over to Ops, on the left side of the bridge, to get a look. Several universes they had mapped had orbital probes seeded into them to let them know if something was up.

"The only one equivalent to our timeframe," Magda reminded him. "Relaying the signal."

On the viewscreen, a CNN feed popped up. "....reports of a bioweapon release at the Rose Bowl here in Pasadena. We're not sure of the extent...."

Robert knew he was paling, as were many others. "There must be thousands...."

"Over ninety thousand," Julia said from tactical.

Robert found his seat. "Okay.... okay. Magda, trigger the jump drive. We're going to deal with this."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-12 10:39am

Here's part 2, but I have an issue now; the LCD screen of my netbook cracked. I can't use it at work anymore, and so my writing time has been sharply reduced until I can replace it. And, well.... I might not be able to for a while. :oops: Finances are tight right now for me, really tight.

The ship was cloaked as they achieved orbit; below decks Leo, Julia, and a couple of other crew members were putting on isolation suits. "We've converted the cargo bay into a quarantine zone for you, Leo," Lucy informed them. "Air circulation has been turned off, air pressure altered, and all the other instructions you left in the system."

"Good." Leo checked his suit's display. "I'm green."

"Green," Julia said. Two more nods were given. As one they stepped onto the pad. Lucy was running a scan from the main console to find a place to put them down. "We've beamed down a couple of probes that didn't detect any agents in the air of the outside stadium, so it's got to be somewhere on the inside. I'm beaming you into what looks to be a main center for ventilation, that should work."

"Send us in."

Lucy nodded and hit the control. White light enveloped them. There was the usual tingle effect and they were in a darkened room, a number of vents around them, and three figures laying on the ground. Leo brought out his scanner. "I'm getting concentrations of a bioagent. Preliminary readings say it's airborne, so make sure you use only internal air."

"Any idea what it is?" Julia nodded to their compatriots, who began inspecting the fallen figures.

"It's not in the database. Though it's already killed them, that's for..." Leo saw a blip on his scanner. "Wait a minute... this one is alive!" He knelt down over one of the figures, one wearing a rather plain jacket and pants. "He's got vitals, but I won't know if he's fighting off the illness or not until I get samples."

"Make sure Lucy has containment ready and beam up." Julia looked to one of the young crewmen, Kwang, who was checking the ventilation systems. "Find any dispensers?"

"I found two," he answered. He held them up; one looked fairly sophisticated, the other however looked like someone took common materials and scrounged one together. "Scans are showing distinct differences in what's left of the contents."

"Give those to Leo, we're going up into containment together."

Robert was out of his seat and pacing nervously on the bridge. A bioweapon... that was something new. Something he'd never thought of dealing with. I should have. This isn't a game. Oh God, what if...?

"Bridge, this is Andreys." Julia's voice came over the comm. "We've completed scans, no signs of the weapon, whatever it was."

Robert almost fell into his seat with relief. His hand reached onto the arm and hit the intercom key. "Julia, thank God."

She gave no sign of noticing the evident relief in his voice. "Someone put a second dispenser in that nullified the agent."

"Do we know the role of the survivor in this?"

"Scans confirm his fingerprints and skin cells are the only ones on the second dispenser, so it's pretty clear it's him. We'll have Cat confirm our findings when we get back, but I'd say we've got the good guy."

"And he's damn good too,," Leo added. "By our century's standards this science is beyond cutting edge. Man's a savant."

"How is he?"

"Concussion, a few bruises, some internal hemorraghing and organ damage. It looks like the agent was attacking his body before the counter-agent cleared it. He should be fine, but I want to do tests back at the Facility."

"Confirmed." Robert looked to Peter. "Take us out of Near Earth space. Prepare for jump."

"Moving us out." Peter's hands moved over the controls. The Kelley pulled away from Earth and accelerated away at high sublight speed. They moved past the moon.

"Bringing jump drive online," Magda reported.

The navigational deflection array on the nose of the Kelley lit up. Seconds later space tore open with green energy. There was a sense of dislocation as they went through; once on the other side Peter was quick to bring them to a stop inside the Facility. "Securing ship to docking bay," Magda reported.

"Excellent arrival," Robert said. "Let me know when docking is complete."

In the infirmary Leo looked over the reports from his medical staff. Aside from the survivor from A4P5 there were no occupants, allowing him to focus on logistics and give his nurses some time off. As he finished paperwork he kept looking back to the samples of the bioweapon from A4P5, inert in stasis. The computer simulations and the scans of the dead men made clear how horrible the contagion was. That people made such things...

He heard noise from behind him. Leo turned in time to see the door open... and the one occupied bed occupied no longer. He cursed himself for not securing the door. Leo's hand hit his comm. "Facility Control, our guest is up and running. I need security now."

He didn't know where he was. He remembered getting his dispenser working, seeing it spray the solution into the air and stop the attack... the pain of the beating he was taking, and of the plague working its way into him. When he fell unconscious he figured he only had a 50/50 chance of surviving. Even worse... he figured similar odds on getting taken by his pursuers.

It had been to his surprise to be unguarded, and to have only one person, a doctor possibly, looking over him. He took his chance and ran, hoping to find a way out and a chance to escape again.

He'd been expecting ceilings and halls or some kind of warehouse. Finding a sleek blue corridor was not what he'd anticipated. He ran on until he came to a portion where there were viewing ports. He looked out and froze, seeing what looked to be... a ship? No, not a ship for water, okay, some weird aircraft....

No. A spaceship. An actual spaceship. It looked to be at least a hundred meters long and the dock containing it was large enough to fit it three times over, minimum. The structure he was in had to be at least fifteen stories high as well...

There was noise behind him, driving the figure on. He found an elevator or lift of some sort and jumped on. But there were no buttons or controls.

He was about to speak when the door opened again. A tanned young woman stood at the entrance wearing a pink and purple suit with the phrase "Geek Girl!" written across the front. She looked up at him. "Are you okay? Do you need help?"

He swallowed. They'd have someone saying things like that. Or someone who didn't know better. "I... I want to leave."

"Wait... Oh! You're that guy Leo's caring for!", she said. "Please, just..."

Not waiting he pushed her out of the way, using his size to overwhelm her. She hit the ground with a cry of surprise and pain while he vaulted back out. There was a crosswalk he noticed, another path to...

As he got to the crosswalk a fist came around the corner, smashing into his jaw and sending him spinning. He fell against the wall and tried to get back to his feet. Another woman stood over him, of similar complexion to the first, with a fierce and angry snarl on her face. She brought her fist back just to have the first girl grab her arm. "Angel, no! I scared him! He's scared, it's not his fault!"

"He hurt you," Angel growled. "Nobody hurts you, Cat."

"Angel, please....." Cat didn't budge. She smiled thinly until Angel's arm came down. She looked over at him. "I'm sorry for scaring you. You're not a prisoner, we just picked you up when we were investigating the bioweapon report. Please, whoever you're afraid of... we're not them. My name is Caterina Delgado, and this is my sister Angel." She tapped Angel's shoulder. "My big sis is a bit protective."

"A bit?", he asked, a dubious look coming to his face.

"Well... okay, more than a bit." Caterina offered her arm. "You're with friends here, Mister...?"

For a moment he considered his options. There was something going on here, with the starship and the massive facility that seemed impossible to hide. And he had no idea of an exit, so the risks of going along for now weren't that great. "Sorry for hurting you, Caterina," he said in apology. "You can call me Jarod."

Robert was sitting by himself when Julia walked in, hands at her sides. "Angel and Cat found him. His name is Jarod."

"Jarod?" Robert nodded and looked back to a video screen showing the latest reports. There'd been another trap laid for them, this one by the Chinese. It was well-done too, with artillery guns dialed in on an apparent prison facility. Control's scans made it clear just how elaborate the governments were getting. "Leo says that what he did should not have been possible with the resources his dispenser device used. He wants him for our medical staff."

"Yeah, well, we have to see if he wants to stay first. And get his story."

"Did Cat confirm...?"

"Just before she met him, yes. Jarod's clearly the one who kept that bioweapon from getting into the crowds." Julia sat down. "I've asked him to tomorrow's Council meeting to explain what was going on."

"Good idea."

Julia saw his eyes drift back to the screen. "Okay, what's going through your head now?"

"What if I met with Jones? On open ground, with the Kelley observing from orbit?," Robert asked. "Just to arrange a communication line and try to smooth things out?"

"I think Leo's right, honestly. They'll just try to take us over. And if we don't let them, they'll keep trying to catch us."

"Maybe, but if we can reassure them to what we're really doing?" Robert tapped the desk. "We've got so many worlds to help anyway now..."

"Just so long as you don't go running off again," Julia remarked pointedly.

He cracked a grin. "Yeah."

Robert, Julia, Leo, and Gabriel all listened closely as Jarod laid out what had happened and where he came from. He kept the information simple to avoid trying their patience.

"You've got a place with us," Julia said when he finished. "You don't have to go back on the run."

Jarod nodded silently. "I'm not sure.... the Centre is still active, and I have questions about my past that they can answer."

"Given your descriptions of them, they do sound like the kind of people we're meant to go up against." Robert folded his hands together. "I hope you consider staying, though. I think you could more good with us. And it'll give you some security. Nobody hunting you."

"The thought crossed my mind." He looked at Robert and to Julia. Jarod folded his hands in front of him. "I'd like a few days to make up my mind."

"Sure," Julia said. "Take whatever time you need. You're a guest."

"Thank you."

They watched him leave. "I'm not sure he'll take us up on it," Gabriel remarked. "He seems fairly distracted."

"It's his choice," Robert remarked. "Anyway.... I was thinking about our prior topic concerning our relationship with the world at large. What if we simply make one contact? Just to test the waters? No guarantees made."

"It's a waste of time, Robert," Leo sighed.

"Maybe. But if we can at least make them feel a little less threatened..." Robert drew in a sigh.

"Might be worth doing." Julia tapped her hand on their table. "I'd vote yes."

"As do I," Gabriel added. "No commitments made, just an attempt to communicate."

Leo looked at each in turn. "Alright, I'm all for it too. Make the call."

Caterina didn't take long to find where Jarod was. He'd gone to the bottom floor and was looking out at the large yard where the incomplete "emergency ship" was still waiting quietly. "Are you okay?", she asked.

"Fine," he answered quietly, staring out at the ship. "It's just.... it's a lot to take in."

"Yeah, it is," Caterina agreed. She stood beside him and stared out. "I noticed that there was some unauthorized computer access a couple of hours ago. Someone tried to access the transporter."

Jarod remained silent.

"Don't worry." She tried to grin at him. "Word's getting around about what you told the Council. You've been on the run so long.... I guess it's habit to look to escape if you feel confined."

"It's not just that," he said. "I've been looking for my family since I got out. It's not easy when you're on the run, but I've still had success."

"I understand." Caterina set her hand against the window. "Angel and I... we lost our father when we were young. And then Mama... she passed a few years ago. Angel was just out of school, I was still in school, so it was rough. She... she knew how much I loved learning things about the world and wanted me to make the most of it." A sniffle escaped from her despite Cat's best efforts. She felt like an old pain in her heart was coming back. When she finished suppressing another one she looked up to see Jarod's brown eyes focused on her. "I'm sorry. I don't know how..."

"It's fine." He put a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry for hurting you earlier."

Through the few tears that had formed in her eyes, Cat looked at him and shook her head. "Don't worry about it. I know you didn't mean anything. i just.... I know you want to find your family, but I hope you consider joining us anyway. We can help with that, we would, and you'd... you'd get to see so much. Seeing alien worlds and stars, I mean, and all the other sights..."

"It does sound wonderful." He looked back to the ship. "Is that...?"

Cat shook her head. "No, it's got to be finished. And we don't have the experience yet. We.... there are devices, data-infusers that put information right into the brain. But you can only take in so much in any given amount of time, and we haven't been able to learn enough."

He nodded. "So you use the other ship I saw?"

"The Kelley? Yeah, she was the one already built when we found this place," Caterina explained. "And we have three more ships now. Maybe even more as we rescue more people and get more volunteers."

Jarod nodded silently. He looked from the ship back to her. "Thanks for coming by. I'm going to get some rest, I think."

"I'll show you to the guest rooms then." Caterina led him to the lift.

The next day Robert and the others were assembled, planning Robert's meeting with, he suspected, "Agent Jones", when Jarod entered the room. He had a look about him that told the assembled he'd made a decision, or at least had come to a likely one. "I've been thinking about the offer you made," he told them. "I have a few questions."

Julia nodded at him. "Of course."

"As I said yesterday, I've been looking for the whole truth of my family for a long time. I don't want to give that up. Would you give me time to follow leads if I get them?"

"Of course." Robert nodded slightly. "And I think we all agree we'll give you whatever help you ask for, as much as we can give."

"Thank you." Jarod nodded to them. "If I join you, I'd like to go home first. I have some things hidden away that I'd like to keep. And I have a call to make."

Robert looked to Julia. "You were going to take the new volunteers from Liberty out for a training run, right?"

"Yes, we're going to leave tomorrow, as soon as Tom finishes checking everything," she answered. She looked to Jarod. "Making a training run to A4P5 will work just as well."

He nodded at her. "I've seen the people you've helped. I've been working for years to make up for the horrible things that were done by the Centre with my help. I think I can do even more with you."

Robert stood and extended his hand. "You'll get plenty of opportunities to help, don't worry." He waited for Jarod to take his hand. As they shook, he smiled at the older man. "Welcome to our family, Jarod."

Jarod was grateful when the sensor scans from the Kelley confirmed no stakeouts or guards at his hiding place, an unused warehouse not far from Pasadena. Nevertheless Angel had insisted on coming down with a personal cloak and a gun to watch his back as he gathered his things. The discs that held years of his sessions with Sydney, mementos from people he'd helped, and personal effects.

Angel looked around, partly to see if there were any threats but also out of genuine curiosity. "You stay packed I see."

"I have to. The Centre keeps me on my toes," Jarod answered, using a container provided from the Kelley for his electronics. He had only a few things left. "I make sure I can be packed up and running in the space of a couple minutes."

"Nasty life." She drew in a breath as she looked at a picture. It was a newspaper clipping of a little girl, announcing her death. "Do you always pick up on bad news?"

Jarod briefly looked over to what she was looking at. "The girl died in the hospital because an administrator replaced real medicine with watered down meds for anyone who didn't have health insurance. All to save money. I joined the staff as a clerk in the pharmacy and spent days getting the evidence together to make him confess."

"Wow, you study medicine then?"

Jarod grinned and shook his head. "They call me a Pretender. People like me... we can be anything we want to be."

Angel crossed her arms. "Anything?"

"Just about. I can watch people do their jobs and do them myself. It's a useful habit."

"Explains how you were getting into our computers your first day," Angel remarked. "And how you put together a counter-agent to a super-bioweapon in a warehouse."

"Oh, that was just chemistry work I'd already done before," Jarod explained. "I'd made the counter-agent years ago." The grin on his face was faded by this time. "As well as the weapon itself."

Angel stared at him. "You made that bioweapon?"

"When I was with the Centre," Jarod answered hoarsely. "I was given a simulation on the capabilities of modern facilities to make newer and deadlier strains of existing biological weapons and viruses. We called it the Annihilator. Then I made the counter-agent because that's what I was told was the goal." By now he was frowning. "As it turned out, the Centre wanted both."

"You should point out their HQ to us," Angel muttered. "We'll go in and clean house."

He shook his head. "They're bigger than that. They're spread out all over the place. It'll take more than attacking their main offices to put them out of business." He looked back to his boxes, almost done. "I'm hoping that with the technology and resources you've made available, I can help put an end to them."

"I hope so too." She saw him go to a phone. "Last minute phone call? Really?"

"It's necessary," Jarod explained. He dialed a number from memory. When he heard a voice on the other end answer, he replied, "Hello Sydney."

"Jarod? So you made it out?"

"Not without help." Jarod looked to Angel and gave a small smile. "Sydney... you and Miss Parker don't have to keep working for the Centre. I can get you both out now. Somewhere far away from them."

There was silence on the other end. "Jarod, it wouldn't work."

"Yes, yes it would," he insisted. "I'd do more to prove it, but... I don't want to cause you trouble if you say no. If the Centre realizes what I've gotten access to, if they think you've betrayed them for me..."

"Jarod, I'm telling you, the Centre has power you don't realize. It won't work. You've got to let it go."

Angel was watching as his expression fell. "It'd be so easy to just..." He bit down the word down painfully. "Goodbye Sydney. It might be a while before we talk again, but I'm not giving up. I'm going to finish putting together the pieces about my family, and I'm going to destroy the Centre. Whatever it takes." He hung up.

"Old friend?" Angel walked up to him.

"Closest thing I had to a father." Jarod reached over and hit the recall buttons on each box. They disappeared in shimmers of white light. "I thought about using the ship's transporter right in front of him. Or to bring him up to the Kelley and let him see...."

Angel nodded in understanding. "But if he says no, and this Centre finds out... they might come after him."

"And his family," Jarod added. "And I can't do that to him. Even if it means leaving him behind for now." Drawing in a sigh, Jarod took a final look around. "I meant it, though. I'm not giving up."

Angel gave him a grin. "Good, I'm not big on quitters." She reached over and touched her comm. "Delgado to Kelley, two to beam up."

The wind was chilly as raindrops splashed against Robert's windbreaker. He looked down at the empty Pacific beach and then over to the rusted iron structure settled in the sand, all that remained of the 19th century sailing barque Peter Iredale. Normally, even with the weather being what it was, some locals or tourists might have been expected, but they had the radio signals to confirm that the police had cleared the area at the request of federal authorities.

He stood at the edge of the tide and watched a lone black-clad figure walk down from the parking lot, not losing stride even in the soft sand. "Everything okay?", he whispered.

It was picked up by his comm, as a moment later a voice came back in his ear. "Yeah, they're being cautious. You've got quite a few vehicles with armed agents closeby, but they're not moving toward you."

"No snipers?"

"No snipers."

Robert nodded and waited until the figure got close. They recognized each other immediately. "Mister Dale," the older man said.

"Agent Jones," Robert answered. "I'm sorry for the rain. But I thought the scenery would be good." He looked up to the wreck. "My cousin showed me this a few years ago. A big change from Kansas to see all these hills and mountains."

"Indeed." Jones allowed a slight smile to come across his face, even if it wasn't genuine. "You called for a meeting?"

"Yes." Robert looked back to him. "We got off on a bad foot. I think some assurances are in order."

"Young man, you disappeared from my interrogation room," Jones pointed out. "Under active recording. And we've found further evidence that you have some kind of teleportation system. And you want to give assurances? You could use your teleporter to put a bomb in the Oval Office and there's nothing we could do about it, assurances aren't going to deal with that."

Robert nodded. "I can't argue with that. What would deal with it?"

"You're a smart young man, I think you know," Jones replied. "I can have a team put together to oversee your operations within a few hours."

"'Oversee'." Robert chuckled.

Jones shrugged. "I admit we'd want some control. Do you blame us, Mister Dale?"

"I guess not." Robert crossed his arms. "But we don't want to become an arm of the US Government."

"Then we have to consider you a rogue operation," Jones answered. "And you're already considered terrorists by other governments. So will every other state on this planet. And I'm not sure where you get your support, but do you think it can be sustained if the world's governments consider you little more than criminals?"

Robert crossed his arms. "We'll handle it."

"Young man, do not be a fool." Jones kept his hands at his sides. "You think you can just keep going without some kind of political framework? All these people you're snatching up... they're not going to accept having you and a couple other people governing their destinies. They'll want a voice and power to make decisions. You'll have to accept oversight from them, if not from us, and if you don't.... you might as well accept you've made yourself a dictator. And, Mister Dale, you don't strike me as the type to be a dictator." When Robert didn't answer, he continued. "If you were... you'd be far more violent than you are. So accept your limitations, young man. They're good qualities. Let us help you."

Robert took in a breath. "So that is your term? You want government agents working with us? Keeping us from doing things the US government doesn't want us doing?"

"I'm afraid we must insist," Agent Jones answered. "Make the right decision young man. Convince your friends to accept it. We'll be ready to hear from you whatever your choice." He nodded and walked off.

Robert watched him walk off. "Go ahead and bring me back," he mumbled. A moment later the Kelley pulled him away.

In the Kelley's engineering section, Barnes was giving orders and looking back to seeing Jarod watching. "Ready for your first data infusion?", he asked. "I hear you're a genius, but this stuff is so far beyond..."

"You might want to alter the field harmonics on the port nacelle," Jarod cut in. "It looks like it's slightly off."

Barnes gave him a glare. "Yeah, because you know so much about warp drive mechan..." He looked at the display. A surprised look came to his eyes. "How the hell did you... Hey Ramirez! Take Yoon and get the nacelle's field generators tuned! Harmonics are off!" He looked over to ensure they heard him and looked back to Jarod. "Okay, how?"

"It's what I do," Jarod answered, grinning. "Though there's a few things that I'm not sure of yet."

"Seriously, you haven't had your infusion yet?"

"Not at all. I just have a... gift for learning new jobs quickly."

"Really." Barnes frowned. The frown disappeared as a thought came to him. "Want to try your hand at starship construction?"

Robert was sitting at his desk in thought, Jones' words going through his head. He heard a noise at the door and looked up to see Julia standing there, leaning against the door. "Hey."

"You've been moody since meeting the government man," Julia said to him. "What is wrong?"

Robert shrugged. "Oh, he made some points. Leo's right, they want to run us."

"Yeah, when hell freezes over," Julia grumbled.

"He made some points I've been mulling over." Robert looked at the screen. "We're dealing with symptoms, not illnesses."

"Yeah. But nothing we can do about that."

"Can't we?" Robert scratched at his chin. "I mean.... we could do something. We could launch the ships and fire their weapons to take out military bases, government facilities.... anything. All of the rogue states doing horrible stuff, we could put them down in an hour of firing."

"We could." Julia gave a nod. "But then we'd hurt other people too. Innocent ones. And... we'd have to do something about the result. Do you think we could run a country? A real one? And we'd be the conquerors too. Do you want to be a dictator?"

"Yeah, I know." Robert smirked. "Hrm, President-for-Life Robert Dale? Or Emperor Robert, maybe?" He grinned at her. "I'd need an Empress."

"I'd kick your ass first," Julia retorted. "Robby, we can only do so much." She reached over and took his hand. "Don't let what he said get to you. We're doing fine as things are. If we have problems, we'll deal with them together. And I know it'll work out."

"Yeah." Robert drew in a breath. "Want to go get some food? Lucy fine-tuned the food replicators before she started working on her runabout project."

"Oooh, a date? Angel will be jealous." Julia winked at him. "Sure, I'm hungry. Let's go."

They stepped out side by side.

End Act 3
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-20 03:57am

Act 4

Facility Control was quiet, which was quite alright for Robert while he took a watch there. Reports from the field were coming in every hour; the Rodriguez was in orbit overseeing another operation - this time raiding an identified human-trafficking ship in the Mediterranean - and the Weaver was making a run to the new mining colony at Epsilon Eridani. That left Kelley - finishing another engine check - and the completed Kirby, which....

"Any word from Julia yet?", he asked Angel.

She gave him a nod. "They're still off in S5T3. We're getting some interesting relays from them, S5T3 looks like our first 'future' universe. Humans traveling with spaceships and everything."

"We'll have to go over that sometime." Robert crossed his arms. "When are Lucy and Jarod due back?"

"Two hours," Angel replied. "You're looking pretty restless."

Robert let out something of a sigh. "I just suppose I'm feeling nervous. I mean.... fifty thousand people, Angel. We're responsible for the livelihoods of fifty thousand beings."

"Yeah." Angel looked back to the computer station she was at. "It's intimidating."

"Very." Robert leaned back in his seat. "And every time the Liberty Colony gets a bit bigger... I don't know, I just feel like this whole thing is starting to get away from me."

"Or that we're becoming, well.... not as important?" Angel chuckled. "I actually like it a bit. We have more volunteers than we know what to do with. Leo and his medical staff are swamped dealing with the brain infusion requests. It's not just people who want to go off rescuing, it's just people who want the knowledge."

"It won't make up for practice though," Robert muttered. "And there's a lot of stuff we've infused into our heads that we still haven't done."

Angel looked to him. "Like?"

"Fighting an opposing starship." Robert tapped the screen showing the status of the Kirby. "S5T3 is the first, but there may be more out there. What if we end up running into trouble? We've done some practicing but we don't have any practical experience in starship combat. And that's something that could get us killed."

"True." Angel allowed a bit of a curl to come to her right cheek, almost a half-smile. "Maybe that will tell us how brave we really are. Are we going to risk getting blown to bits or will we chicken out?"

"I honestly don't want to find out anytime soon."

Mars was spinning quietly in her orbit through the bow windows of the Rio Grande, the first of Lucy's "runabout" spacecraft. She manipulated the touch controls with precision, testing the small vessel's maneuverability and systems, while beside her Jarod was monitoring sensors and the power systems. "The portable naqia reactor is working like a charm," he said.

"I thought that the warp flight was a bit bumpy, though," Lucy answered.

"Yeah, I think we might have to recalibrate the field again." Jarod checked the readouts. "We might have overpowered the ship a little."

"Yeah, well... it's a rough balance. The cold fusion systems the Darglan developed for their backup power aren't good enough for a ship this size, but the naqia reactors are overkill at normal size." Lucy chuckled. "It might have taken me months to get the reactor design trimmed down without your help, Mister 'I Don't Need A Data Infusion'."

Jarod let her see an amused smirk at that. "It's a gift. So.... why did you name it for a river?"

"Oh, the Rio Grande?" Lucy shrugged. "I'm half-Mexican through my mother, crossing the Rio to come to the US was the biggest decision of her life. For a lot of people it's a barrier, but it's... it's kind of like the Jordan River. You look at it and know there's something better on the other side." Her expression darkened a little. "Of course, that something might be working for slave wages on a farm.... but the hope is still there."

That prompted a quiet nod from Jarod. "I've been catching up on everything that happened before I joined. I'm sorry for what happened to you."

Lucy showed no immediate visible reaction. She looked at him with a very still expression. "Yeah... I mean, I knew Duffy was horrible. But what he had that brat of his do..." She swallowed. "I sometimes have dreams of it. Even now. Even when Julia came in like a phantom and rescued me, showed me this wonderful, wonderful world they stumbled into...."

Jarod nodded silently. "I know what it's like to dream things like that..."

"Kept captive until your mid-30s, I'd imagine so," Lucy responded. She swallowed. "Well... let's get back to business. We'll finish recalibrating the nacelle generators and try another warp flight."

"Getting back to business..."

The Kirby moved quietly as she slipped around occupied space, her cloaking device keeping local traffic from seeing her. On the bridge Zack Carrey was not content to remain sitting in the command chair, choosing to move about and watch everyone at their stations. The oldest of the Coptic girls they'd rescued, Nasira, was at the helm, but Zack was still having trouble remembering the names of the tactical, science, and ops officers (in fact, he had to honestly say he only knew Nasira's name because he'd been considering asking her out).

The man at Ops looked back. He was African, though whether he was from the contemporary rescuees that came from Africa or a rescued slave Zack wasn't sure. "You're making us nervous, sir." The accent was enough to say he was from one of the contemporary era worlds they'd found.

"You're all doing fine," Zack mumbled. "I'm the one nervous. I told them I don't like getting command..."

"Then perhaps you should offer to give it to someone else," Ibraham, a Lebanese Christian sitting at tactical, commented.

"Tempted," he muttered in reply. Nevertheless he forced himself back into the command chair. "I'm sorry. So, anything new?"

"Just the usual reading, plus lots of comm chatter," the older woman at science reported. Zack turned just to remember voice and face; it was a woman from one of the alternate universes they'd visited, Hava, a Russian Jew rescued from a pogrom detected from orbit. "Mostly on the subspace bands."

"Oh, nice. Cat will love it." Zack leaned back in the seat. He was simultaneously bored and irritated; he hated having nothing to do but watch. After thinking about this for a time he shook his head; if he wasn't careful something worse might....

The officer at Ops turned his attention to something. "I'm picking up a subspace signal... a distress code? I'm putting it on speakers."

A male voice crackled over the speakers in English. "This is the private shuttle Starrunner requesting immediate assistance, we are under attack from...." The signal died out.

Zack looked to Ops. "What happened?"

The man there shook his head. "I think it was cut off at the source."

Zack nodded and felt like letting the chair swallow him. This is not what he wanted, it was a decision he shouldn't be making.... He swallowed audibly. "Can you tell where it came from?"

"An adjacent star system, I can give coordinates."

"Then feed to Nasira," Zack ordered. "Set course, maximum speed, and engage drives when ready."

"Setting course now," Nasira answered. Her hands moved over the portion of the controls for calculating faster-than-light travel. The computer fed course data back and she put the data into the helm control. The Kirby changed relative orientation in space, never dropping from warp as their direction finished changing. Quiet descended on the bridge as the range ticked down.

"Coming into range...."

Nasira brought the Kirby out of warp. The screen shifted to show a vessel almost the size of the Kirby hovering in space, a single hull shape painted brown and orange, with a blue-toned energy beam gripping a small boxy white spacecraft that looked like a shuttle. "We'll have to decloak to fire," Ibraham reminded him. "I have weapon lock."

Zack nodded. He put a hand to his face and tried to control the beat in his heart. This wasn't busting into some slave plantation or work gulag with a personal forcefield, a cloak, and a transporter waiting to whisk him away to safety. If they attacked, and if he was wrong.... they could all die, or be captured by God knows who. This was no longer a game.


Zack was fully gripped in indecision. But it was soon clear someone else wasn't, with Hava calling out, "We have another ship coming in!"

The ship, as it turned out, was little more than another shuttle, even boxier-looking than the first. The small craft veered in and red energy erupted from its nose, peppering the larger ship at the base of the beam linking it to the captive shuttle. The beam winked out of existence and allowed the other ship to begin to maneuver free. The newcomer dodged a shot and let loose a repeated series of blasts that peppered the larger vessel, or rather said ship's shields.

The other ship was quick to maintain return fire, green energy erupting from emitters and striking both shuttles. The escaped captive took the hit badly, all acceleration ending with a direct hit totheir engine, but their rescuer evaded several of the shots. The one shot that did hit terminated against a field of blue energy. The rescuer shuttle came back around and fired its weapon again, striking at the shields of the ship in question. The last shot seemed to break through the shields and sent a plume of flame erupting from the attacker's hull.

"Wow," Zack mumbled. "How did he...?"

"It looks like that second shuttle has their power systems running at maximum possible capacity," the man at Ops answered. "But the other ship's shields are regenerating quickly. I don't think he..."

A series of shots lashed out again at the rescuer shuttle. Again a few missed, but two hits struck home. The first dissipated against the shields.... but the second lasted just long enough to slice along the hull, creating a fracture. The rescuer shuttle began to fail.

Zack had been mentally cheering for the second shuttle; seeing it fail made him smack the arm of the command chair. He swallowed and shook his head. "Okay, that's enough. Sound combat alert, Code Red! Ibraham, lock weapons! Ops, I want the people on those shuttles transported over!"

"We can't transport through shields, sir," the man at Ops reminded him.

"Nasira, get us between them, we'll put shields to one side for protection and the other can be used for transport," Zack answered quickly, his mind starting to race. "Drop the cloak and fire!"

Firing weapons in anger was something they'd never done before. There had been training exercises, simulations.... but not this. Ibraham was nevertheless quick to obey, as was the officer at Ops. Nasira maneuvered the Kirby to give Ibraham a good shot as the Kirby dropped her cloak. For the first time her cannons blazed in anger, sending pulses of blue energy crashing into the other ship's shields. Ibraham followed up with one of the "solar torpedo" launchers, sending a sparking projectile of blue-white energy forward to crash into the shields of the other vessel. A follow-up burst of fire tore through hull plating, creating gouges of flame and atmosphere to erupt from the wounds.

Nasira turned the ship slightly and presented its strong shields to the enemy craft while, on the other side, the shields dropped. "Transporting now," Ops reported. "I'm sending them to Dr. Rosenbaum."

"Alright, as soon as the transport...."

Hava looked up. "Something's appearing on sensors! It looks like a...."

The Kirby suddenly rocked violently. From their weak side, a vessel shimmered into view, a small green-colored ship with wings of green and red. Weapon mounts on the wing-tips began firing, sending bolts of emerald energy to crash into the unshielded hull of the Kirby. "Re-distribute shields!", Zack shouted.

Before that could be done, an overload in the ship's systems triggered a shower of sparks at the helm. Nasira fell back screaming, burns covering her hands and face. "Get a medical team up here!", Zack cried out, jumping from the command chair to the helm. In a second he had Nasira free and pulled her out, giving himself access to the helm. He triggered the controls and rotated the Kirby while triggering its drives, moving out of the line of fire.

At that moment the door slid open and Julia rushed in, her blond hair in tangles and her jacket top barely on. "What's going on, ZacK?!"

"Picked up a distress signal from a shuttle!" The ship rocked hard again, causing Julia to catch herself against the arm of the command chair. She slid into it and found the harness buckles. Zack didn't look back, as busy as he was trying to maneuver the damaged Kirby. "We intervened to help, but they had a cloaked ship waiting in ambush, opened fire on our unshielded side when I rescued survivors!"

"Make that two cloaked ships!", Hava cried out. On the screen another ship decloaked, the same as the first ambusher. Zack moved his hands on the controls and tilted the Kirby enough to take only glancing blows while its nuclear-disruptor arrays slashed at the ship with ruby light, making its shields flicker.

"Mbusa, did we get the people off the shuttles?", Julia asked, looking at Ops.

The man there nodded. "Yes, they were taken successfully."

"Okay. Do we have warp power? Cloak?"

"Warp is offline," Zack answered, seeing the red indicators on his controls. "We've lost the main power conduit to the port impulsor, I can't get us enough speed to break off."

Julia swallowed and nodded. "Okay, we can't run. We can't hide either, they'll hit us when cloaking.... can we jump?"

"We'd have to drop shields, if they get another big hit it could knock out or destabilize the drive," Hava pointed out.

"Okay.... Zack, keep up evasive maneuvers, and try to give Ib some shots from the main guns! Mbusa, send a distress signal back to the Facility! Now!"

Robert was turning in his seat reading an update on the Liberty Colony written by Beth when a tone came from one of the stations. Cat went over to it and hit the key. "Rob, it's from the Kirby. It's.... it's a distress signal."

Robert sat up in the blink of an eye, spine ramrod straight. "Put them on?"

The holotank displayed Julia, completely disheveled, shaking in the command chair. "Three enemy ships, maybe more. We've lost engine power and warp, we can't cloak without taking more hits. We need help!"

Robert was out of his seat. "Control! Send out an alert, all Kelley crew prepare for immediate transport to their combat stations!"

Control appeared in his usual holographic guise. "Implementing transport now."

The sensation of the transporter system filled Robert. He materialized with Cat and Angel on the bridge of the Kelley. Seconds later Jarod and Peter materialized, both going for Ops and the helm respectively. Robert found the command chair and buckled himself in. "Give me a status report."

Jarod was quick to check over things. "We're almost ready, a few people are still out of place. Engineering is fully staffed..."

Barnes' voice cut over the intercom. "Ship checks are already done. Naqia reactors online. We're ready to go."

"Set running status to Code Red!", Robert called out. Alert klaxons sounded four times while running lights shifted to red. "Jarod, do we have a link to the Kirby's drive?"

"It's inside the spatial aspect zone for the Facility," Jarod answered. "One AU margin of error."

"That's still like 93 million miles," Angel muttered.

"Uh, sis, for interstellar distances, it's massively close," Caterina retorted.

Ignoring them, feeling massively worried for Julia and Zack and the others, Robert put his hands on the chair arms. "Lock the wormhole generator on then, get us there now."

The Facility's wormhole initiated, carving a tunnel through time, space, and dimensions to the beleaguered Kirby. The Kelley moved through it quickly. As they came out Jarod hit the cloak while Cat scanned. "I've got them! Sending warp jump calculations to Peter!"

"Warp jump in 3... 2... 1!" Peter hit the control. The ship lurched as its warp systems engaged for just a moment. When the warp jump ended the viewscreen showed the damaged, nearly-crippled Kirby trying to dodge hits from three ships. They had it boxed in, giving it no reprieve or escape. "Lock on the nearest enemy ship, Angel."

Angel nodded and worked her controls. "I've got a lock, as soon as Jarod decloaks..."

"Decloaking now," Jarod confirmed.

The Kirby shook violently again. Mbusa checked his indicators and cursed. "Shields at twenty percent! Cohesion is breaking down!"

Julia cursed under her breath. But before she gave any orders Hava called out, "New contact decloaking! It's the Kelley!"

The Kelley was still shimmering into view when her weapons began to lash out in anger. Blue energy bolts hammered one of the green-winged ships, making its shields flicker. A pair of solar torpedoes struck the ship next, blasting its shields into brief collapse that let another barrage hammer the winged ship in the neck connecting its body to its head. Ibraham added shots from one of the nuclear-disruptor arrays, slashing at the enemy ship and blasting one of the wing-mounted weapons off. Badly damaged, the ship twisted out of their firing arcs and shimmered until it disappeared.

"That's it! We're free!" Julia smacked her hand on the chair. "Full speed, Zack! Get us out of the trap and prepare the jump drive!"

"Aye aye," Zack murmured in response, trying to keep the smile off his face as the Kirby's acceleration picked up. Her other foes were turning to face the Kelley.

"Connect me to the Kelley," Julia ordered Mbusa. When he nodded and hit a key, she called out, "Rob!"

"Julia, good to see you're okay. We'll cover you, jump out as soon as possible."

"You're still outnumbered two to one, Robert," Julia pointed out.

"You're in no shape to fight, you need to get out of here, now. If we have trouble we'll cloak and hide until help can arrive. Now get going!"

Julia let out a grumble of frustration. "Okay, we're getting out of here. Mbusa, connect the drive to the Facility, now!"

The Kirby's shields went down as it diverted power to the jump drive system. The deflector array at the bow lit up with energy as the jump drive opened the green, energized jump point that would take them back to the Facility.

Peter maneuvered the Kelley to avoid a shot from the larger of the two remaining vessels, keeping Angel on target to hammer away at the winged ship they were facing. Said ship had come around and was facing them as well, sending green bolts of energy and red-sparking projectiles into their shields. The Kelley shook as it took these hits. "Shields at seventy percent," Jarod warned them.

Just before the other ship broke off Angel let loose a final barrage and torpedo spread, a point-blank hit that overwhelmed the other ship's shields and inflicted damage on its main body. Peter dipped the ship "down" and avoided hitting the enemy ship, after which he put the drives to full. Angel sent out another torpedo with the aft launcher that hit the maimed enemy ship square in its engine. The main body of the ship burst like an egg, a fiery explosion engulfing the body and then the rest of the ship. "First kill!", Angel crowed.

"Status on the Kirby?", Robert asked.

"She's out, she's safe," Jarod answered.

"Good, we can go now." The ship rocked from a hit by the non-winged single-hulled vessel, now in pursuit. "Get us some space, maybe we can get around a nearby moon and have a few seconds of freedom to cloak or open a jump point."

Peter acknowledged with a nod. The Kelley's drives went to full, shields shifting toward the rear to deal with the battering they were taken. Angel used the aft launcher and array to swipe at the ship, but nothing dissuaded it. Peter made several maneuvers. "They're on us too strongly, I'm going to try to give us an opening to cloak safely." He maneuvered with a hard turn and direction change, throwing the aim of the enemy ship off.

Robert didn't say anything more, letting Peter and Jarod do their work. After several more sharp maneuvers, Peter got them sharply below the enemy ship. It appeared to have worked flawlessly.

Which, Robert realized, was too good to be true. "Don't cloak!," he called out.

But it was too late. Jarod had already hit the key.

The crippled winged ship reappeared from another angle. Even with one of its wing-cannons gone the remaining weapon, plus its torpedo launcher, still left it deadly. It fired as the Kelley began cloaking, its shields down in the process and rendering the ship helplessly. The bolts smashed into the bottom of the ship, vaporizing and blasting away hull material and exposing part of Deck 4 into space.

Then the torpedoes hit. The Kelley rocked so hard that Robert almost thought the ship was coming apart. "We've lost cloak!", Jarod cried out. "Jump drive not responding! Main power is going down!"

"Warp drive inoperable," Peter added. "I've only got twenty-five percent effectiveness on impulsors!"

"Tom!" Robert hit the comm button on his chair arm. "Engineering, we've lost main power! Engineering!.... Tom?!" The ship rocked again as his answer.

Barnes knew something had gone hideously wrong with the first rocking of the ship, but the blast that followed literally threw him on his ass.

Which, in the end, saved his life.

Across engineering the blast tore through the bulkhead. A horrifying whistle began to sound and a powerful force pulled at Barnes, dragging him across the floor toward the blast hole. One of his engineers screamed and flailed, trying to find a hand-grip, but all he managed to do was hit another engineer holding onto one of the naqia reactors and knock his unintended victim from his grip. Both men cried out for help as they were sucked through the hole.

"Engineering, we've lost main power!" It was Robert's voice, shouting over the comm. "Engineering!.... Tom?!"

I don't get paid enough for this shit, Barnes thought to himself. Struggling against the pull of vacuum, Barnes reached up and over to grip a console. He pulled himself up to it and, one-handed, hit several keys, routing emergency power from the small-scale fusion reactor on the ship to an emergency forcefield. The pull of vacuum ended, allowing him to stoop over the controls. He hit the comm on his wrist. "We just lost Abbas and Ramirez! Both naqia reactors are down!"

"We need to jump, Tom!"

"It'll take me time to get these things working, dammit!" Barnes wiped his brow, not thinking about how close he'd come to being sucked out into space as he tried to get at least one naqia reactor going again.

A hard enough task as it was.... and almost impossible with the ship rocking repeatedly.

On the bridge, Robert was trying to avoid the feeling of panic welling up within him. This was stupid, stupid! He wasn't trained for this! Not properly! And now he'd gotten some of his friends killed, or worse...

After another hit, Jarod cried out, "Shields down to fifteen percent, we've only got a few hits left!"

"We're not getting out of here," Robert muttered to himself. "Angel, Cat, Jarod, Peter.... I'm sorry. I'm sorry, dammit. Just.... send a message back to the Facility. Do not send a rescue mission, I repeat, do not send a res-...."

A torpedo crashed into the battered Kelley, interrupting him and sending feedback into some of the consoles. Peter cried out and pulled his hands back, too late to avoid getting burned as an electrical fire started on the helm console, quickly spreading to him. Robert yanked off the harness and went for an emergency fire extinguisher, grabbing it and dousing Peter and the console with it. He was knocked to the ground by another hit.

Jarod was quick to confirm the worst. "Shields at five percent! Next hit and they're gone!"

And then, to make things worse, Caterina began shouting. "I've got a new contact coming out of warp! It's..... it's big!"

Robert looked up to see the new arrival slip down toward their attackers on the viewscreen. It looked patently different; light gray hull color, multiple thin windows and plenty of running lights, and plenty long and wide. Each of its warp drive nacelles looked almost as large as the Kelley - they were certainly longer - and were connected by pylons to a hull that thickened as it grew forward, connected there by a wide, forward-tapered neck to a very wide saucer hull. The ship seemed to pull downward compared to the Kelley, showing the many running lights on the top of its main hull. There was writing there, but he couldn't make it out.

Two points of red light formed on a black strip that nearly circled the top of the saucer. They raced across the strip and met, form there emitting a beam of red, almost orange-tinted energy that lashed out at one of their attackers. The red beam played over the enemy ship's shields, joined moments later by a second beam that punched through the faltering shields and sliced into the ship.

One of the winged vessels, the damaged one that had crippled the Kelley, was coming up on the big ship's rear. Two beams lashed out from a point at the end of the ship's hull, between its nacelles, both striking the ship and draining its' shields.... leaving it helpless as two red projectiles raced out from a launcher at the end point of the rear hull and smashed into the winged vessel, blowing it to atoms.

The surviving attacker lashed out again, its green energy beam lashing into the big ship. Blue shields met and absorbed the shot harmlessly. The ship pulled "up" a bit, revealing a second energy fire strip on the underside of the saucer and a squat deflector array that seemed similar to the one on the Kelley and her sister ships. Both strips lit up, sending two beams that sliced into the enemy ship. Its shields failed again, multiple points of damage showing up across its hull. It twisted away, clearly seeking to escape now that its compatriots were gone. Another red energy beam played across its aft, taking out an engine. An explosion flowered up from the enemy ship's hull, toward the middle, followed by further explosions that traveled along the ship and seemed to gut it.

There were sighs of relief on the bridge, and Robert couldn't help but take in. But he wasn't so sure they were fine just yet. The Kelley was helpless, and this new ship looked far more powerful than the vessels that had been giving it and the Kirby fits.

"They're trying to hail us," Jarod reported. "Looks like an audio and visual channel, I can route it to the viewscreen."

"Sure," Robert breathed.

The figures that appeared on the screen were Human.... or so Robert thought until he saw a humanoid figure with a distinctly non-human forehead. His eyes settled on the central figure, who appraised him with an understanding grin before beginning to speak.

"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise. We would like to offer you our assistance."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12258
Joined: 2003-02-02 04:04pm

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by JME2 » 2013-06-23 11:16pm

Finally finished catching up on this.

Very nice cliffhanger, Steve. Now I'm definitely hooked. :twisted:

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-25 01:41pm

Uuuuugh, I really shouldn't have stayed awake so late to finish this. Frankly Act 4's second half is almost a full Act in of itself.

The man's accent sounded like a refined English one similar to the handful of distant relatives Robert had occasionally met on his mother's side, almost in defiance of his French name. His uniform was predominately red with black as a secondary color, and the four gold pips on his collar was clearly rank insignia. The arrowhead insignia worn on the right side of the chest seemed more than just decoration. And the uniform, in total, made Robert immensely self-conscious of his distinctly civilian, unauthoritative brown jacket and blue pullover polo shirt with blue jean pants. "Captain Picard," he said politely, standing from his chair. "I'm... Robert Dale, commanding the Starship Kelley. Thank you for saving our lives."

"We received a distress signal from a Federation-registered shuttle, the Starrunner,", Picard explained. "My operations officer tells me it is here but abandoned. Can you tell us what happened to its crew?"

"Our sister ship, the Kirby, answered their distress signal and rescued them," Robert explained. "They were damaged by an ambush and called us in for help. We were able to help them escape before we were crippled."

"I see." Picard nodded at him. "Your vessel's damage appears extensive. Will you be able to make repairs or will you require towing to a Starbase?"

As much as Robert was grateful for the rescue, that's something he didn't want. "Allow me to ask my engineer, Captain." He looked to Jarod, who took the hint and killed the audio. Robert reached down on his chair and hit the intercom. "Tom, I could use an update."

"And I could use two more pairs of hands, Goddammit," Barnes retorted. "It's going to take me six Goddamned hours, minimum, to get the damned reactors back online and the Goddamned drive stable for a Goddamned jump!"

"Not what I want to hear, Tom."

"Send Mister 'Learn Warp Mechanics In Twenty Goddamned Seconds' down and I might shave it to four."

Robert looked over to Jarod. "After we're off the comm, go ahead."

Jarod nodded. "Ready?"

"Yeah." Robert looked back to the viewscreen. He heard Jarod hit a key and smiled. "We're going to need at least six hours to get underway again, Captain. Thankfully we won't need towing."

Picard nodded. "Understood. The Enterprise will remain until you have completed repairs. In the meantime, Captain Dale, I hope you will accept my offer of a visit to the Enterprise. I admit to a great deal of curiosity about you and your ship."

At that Robert felt his mind pick up. They seemed nice enough... but on the other hand, what was to stop them from raising shields and holding him as a prisoner? On the other hand, if they were going to do something like that, they'd just be taking the Kelley.... "Give me half an hour, Captain, and I'll get back to you on that."

"Very well. Picard out." The screen changed to show the Enterprise hovering in space quietly.

By now the medical staff on the Kelly, led by Nasri, had arrived on the bridge. A nurse gently took Peter off the bridge, leaving the helm station - completely disabled anyway - unmanned. "Jarod, do we have interuniversal comms?"

Jarod checked the station. "Barely. Without the naqia reactors, and without killing vital systems.... I think I can get you audio."

"Okay, hail the Facility. Julia should have secured the Kirby by now, I need to talk to the Council. And fast."

Julia had Leo, Gabriel, and the three new members of the Council - Song Tae-Woo from the North Korean population, Sally Freeman of the liberated slaves from C1P2, and Ba Aye Yee of the rescued Burmese dissidents - together when Robert came over the radio and explained the situation. Julia remained quiet while Aye Yee asked the obvious question. "Can we trust them?"

"They did rescue us," Robert answered. "But I'm not sure, if they've detected anything about our technology, they might do something about it."

"What if we came in with both the Weaver and the Rodriguez?", Gabriel asked. "If it comes down to it..."

"The Enterprise made short work of those ships, I wouldn't want to take it on even with all four of our ships. I think it's better if I take the chance. If things go bad.... I'll have Tom blow up the Kelley."

"What if we brought just one ship to evacuate you if things go wrong?", Leo asked.

"Too much risk." Robert clearly sighed on the other end. "I just want to hear any directions you have for me. They could be of great help."

"They'd end up demanding the same thing the US government did," Leo remarked sullenly. "I think we need to be careful about that."

"I will be. Anything else?"

"Yeah, be careful Rob."

"I always am. It's been almost half an hour, so I need to get ready to transport over. I'll have Angel keep you updated as we go along. Kelley out."

After the communication was shut down Julia stood up. "i'll put together a crew for the Rodriguez right away."

"I'm not sure that's wise," Song remarked. "We're down to two functional ships as it is, and if we're afraid of them getting our technology sending another ship in is just adding risk."

Julia looked to him and frowned. "My friends are there," she said, her tone low and cold. "I am not going to abandon them."

In a moment Robert went from being in the Kelley's transporter room to one on the Enterprise. There was a woman on the other end of the controls present while two figures stood between the pad and the controls. Robert recognized the ridge-foreheaded alien he'd seen on the screen earlier as well as the bearded man who'd stood near Picard. He glanced toward their uniform collars, seeing the bearded man's rank was three gold pips while the alien had two. The different colors - the transport controller and the alien being in gold instead of red - made him curious. Before he could speak, the bearded man stepped up. "Welcome to the Enterprise. I'm Commander William Riker, First Officer. This is Lieutenant Worf, our Chief of Security."

Robert had to make himself look away from Worf and back to Riker. He remembered the brief glimpse Control had once shown of an orange-skinned and high-skulled figure, but for the first time he was with an actual alien. For that matter, his reaction made that clear to them. "Captain Picard is waiting for you in the ship's Conference Room."

"And he sent you to bring me up?", Robert asked. "Shouldn't you be on your ship's command bridge or CIC if he's not?"

"We have other officers who can maintain bridge watches for us," Riker explained. He gestured toward the door and led Robert out, Worf behind them. Robert thought he could sense a bit of anxiety from Worf, surprising since he was an alien, though Riker clearly considered himself in control of the situation. They came to an elevator. "Bridge," Riker said. The lights began moving and the lift had a very subtle sensation of movement. Seconds later they stepped out onto the bridge Robert had seen before. The various officers on the bridge were all at stations, though one gold-uniformed one was quick to move from the station at the top of the wooden horseshoe arch, allowing Worf to reclaim it. Riker led Robert over to the opposite door. On the other side of it was a conference room with a long, wood-paneled table. A viewscreen was on the far end, one side having windows of some sort to space outside while the internal wall had multiple golden models of various ships of similar saucer-neck-drive hull aesthetic, the top one representing the Enterprise while each model below it was smaller in turn. An aircraft carrier was at the very bottom. "All ships named Enterprise," Robert murmured.


Robert looked over to see Picard waiting for him at the head of the table. On the table's right side - Picard's left - was a dark-haired woman in a v-cut top and pants, violet-colored with darker trim, on the other another gold-uniformed man.... but on second look Robert realized he wasn't human given the pale gold skin and golden eyes. His rank insignia was three pips like Riker's, but one was black instead of gold. Lieutenant Commander, I guess. "Well." Picard smiled gently. "It does help explain more of where you're from."

"That's a long story, Captain Picard," Robert answered. "It's going to take me a while, and I'm not sure how much you'll believe of it."

"I would surmise your ship uses some form of wormhole-orientated drive system in addition to warp drive," the gold-skinned Lieutenant Commander said abruptly. "There is a distinct neutrino signature on the Kelley."

"This is Lieutenant Commander Data, my Operations Officer," Picard said, introducing the gold-skinned man. "And Deanna Troi, Ship's Counselor."

"Counselor?" Robert looked to her. He had to admit she was attractive, even gorgeous, but that she wasn't in uniform flummoxed him. "A psychiatrist, you mean?"

"Yes," Troi answered. "Does that unsettle you?"

At that he gave a small smile. "No, it simply reminds me of all the times my friends have told me I need one." He slipped into a chair at the middle of the table. "I'm sorry if I sound offensive, but can I ask what species you are, Commander Data?"

Data showed no emotion at the inquiry, merely shifting his head slightly. "I am an android," he answered.

"Android? As in... a robot? Well, not just a robot, but..."

"It would not be inaccurate to say that I am an artificial being of metal," Data clarified.

Note to self: Keep Cat off this ship, we'll never get her away from him. Robert answered with a nod. "I understand. Now, when it comes to what we are, well..."

Robert spent some time explaining to them where he was from and finding the Facility. Occasionally Picard and Data would glance to Troi, who would nod slightly. Picard seemed a little more interested as Robert explained what he and his friends generally did, though none spoke until he caught up. After he was done, Robert noticed they looked not as incredulous as he was used to. "Usually I have people questioning my sanity when I explained this story."

"In Starfleet we're rather used to the incredible," Picard replied.

"I would be most interested in observing this 'Interuniversal jump point drive' you speak of," Data remarked.

"I'll have to talk to the others." Robert put his hands in front of him. "Is there anything else?"

"I would like to arrange the return of the survivors from the Starrunner before you depart," Picard replied.

Robert felt it reasonable, but there was a tiny voice of suspicion in his head. Could this be an effort to trick him into pulling another ship in? Or something about the people on that shuttle? "I'll call over to the Kelley for that," he said, his tone guarded. "Is there any reason in particular...?"

Troi was giving Picard a look, one full of concern, and Picard kept his expression neutral as he explained, "They are Federation citizens, and as a Starfleet captain I am obligated to ensure their well-being."

"Yes, I understand." Robert nodded. "I will make the call."

Bringing the comm on his wrist up Robert opened a channel to the Kelley and asked for a connection through to the Facility. Soon enough Julia's voice, with some static, was coming from the other end. "Can you give me a status on the shuttle crews?"

"Leo is checking them over now. They were roughed up pretty badly, so Leo's keeping a close eye on them in the medbay. Do you want me to connect you?"

"Yes." Robert waited until Leo's voice answered. "Leo, can you give me a status on the people the Kirby rescued?"

"I've stabilized them for the moment, but I want them rested for a while. Their shuttles suffered from decompression..." He went on to list the injuries sustained. Picard listened intently, occasionally glancing to Troi who remained silent.

"How long until they're fit to travel? The people on this end want us to return them."

"Depends. Should they be returned?"

That brought a clear reaction from Picard, showing clear concern, but Robert quickly reacted. "They're not bad people on this end, Leo. It's not like returning freed slaves or people."

'"Well, if they want to go back that's fine. I'd say they'll be stable for a ship transit in about five hours."

"Good to hear. Talk to you latter, Leo." Robert hit the device again to cut the channel. "If it makes you feel better, Captain, I'll stay here until they're brought back."

Picard raised his eyebrows slightly. "The gesture is appreciated, Mister Dale."

"Can you tell me anything about our attackers? It looks like we stumbled into an ambush."

"They appear to have been renegade Klingons from the House of Duras," Picard answered. "The losing faction in the recent Klingon Civil War. We suspect they were trying to draw local patrol vessels into a trap."

"So we were just the unexpected patsies," Robert muttered. "I lost two people because of them."

"You have our condolences." Picard put his hands on the table. "While you are here, I would like the time to ask you more about this... organization you lead. Commander, Counselor..."

Data and Troi stood up and left the room quietly, leaving Robert with Picard. "I can understand what you've gone through this past year," Picard remarked quietly. "And finding the Darglan Facility you speak of.... very few could resist the temptation to make use of that, and you and your friends have been more responsible with that power than others might have. But I am concerned nevertheless." He leaned forward and put his hands together. "You say that you have spent these months... rescuing people. Political dissidents, victims of sentient trafficking or ethnic conflicts, and such. I find your devotion to helping others to be commendable."

"But you don't approve?" Robert blinked, a little puzzled.

"The issue of approval is not the issue. Rather..." Picard drew in a breath. "For every action, there is a consequence. That is a fundamental element that we must always face. And no matter how noble or well-intentioned an action can be... the consequence it yields could be disasterous. Your actions have the same, and I fear you have not considered those consequences when you have embarked on this mission of imperial kindness."

"Imperial kindness?" Robert showed his bewilderment at this term. "You're comparing us to some kind of Empire?"

"By your own admission, you are applying your vast superiority in technology to impose your will upon lesser-advanced societies," Picard pointed out.

"Only to help people who are powerless," Robert countered. "To protect them from governments and criminals who oppress them."

"And in turn you put fears into them. A strange and unknowing force comes in and whisks people away while their forces are undermined and destroyed?" Picard's expression became almost grim. "These people will react, and when they do, other people will be harmed. Tell me, this one universe you spoke of, the one before the North American Civil War, when slavery existed in the Southern states? How do you think your snatching of so many slaves, with such technology as you've shown, will go over in the South? Have you even been paying attention to what has been going on there?"

"We maintain some overflights," Robert answered. "Once and a great while we transport newspapers up with orbital scans. We do the same in Europe for our operations there. The Jews in Russia, for instance..." But even as he brought that up he remembered the last bits of news they'd picked up, and he stared blankly past Picard.

Picard was quick to pick up on this. "So what has been the reaction?"

"A push for a Constitutional amendment protecting slavery," Robert said quietly. "One that wasn't historical. And growing threats to secede if the Northern states reject."

"If you hadn't interfered in the natural course of that world, odds are good that they would have developed along the lines we know. Now... you have diverted them onto a new path, one that might not be as beneficial."

"Or maybe not," Robert remarked. "Maybe I can intervene and stop it."

"You would destroy their entire social system. They would resist you with force. Your intervention would become a war to impose your will, your kindness and good intentions, upon those who do not see them as such." PIcard moved his hands slightly, a gesture to fit his words. "At that point, you cease to become a liberator and are instead a conquerer."

He had heard those words before. These things had dwelled in his mind as he thought about the future of the cause he and the others had taken up. "So what is your solution? How do you handle these things? With this ship you can do even more that my ships can."

"We do not 'handle' them."

"Then how do you solve..." Robert realized what Picard meant. "Wait, you mean you do nothing?"

"Starfleet General Order Number 1 states that we cannot interfere in the affairs of other civilizations and cultures," Picard explained. "We call it the Prime Directive."

"So you don't get involved in anything? No matter how bad it is?"

"It is not our place to interfere in the development of others."

"Okay, so not normally... understandable." Roberrt nodded. "You don't want to get mixed upin a war that both sides are to blame for. But what about innocent people caught in the middle? What about campaigns of ethnic cleansing or extermination? Mass enslavement?"

Picard shook his head. "Any involvement at all can have a negative effect on a society's development."

"More negative than the suffering and dying of millions?", Robert retorted. As much as Picard's words had earlier made him doubt himself, to hear Starfleet's view was kindling a deep sense of anger in him. "Consequences or not, you have to do something."

"It is impossible to know how an intervention, even for noble reasons, can result," Picarrd pointed out. "You could make things worse, far worse."

"Then you do something about that too!"

Picard could sense the emotional momentum of the discussion shifting, Robert becoming more involved, more alive. "And where would it end? That would inevitably result in a broken culture."

"So maybe they change. But they're not dead."

"You have no way of knowing how things will turn up."

"They're probably damned well better than dying!" Robert slammed his hand on the table. "Are you telling me, Captain, that if you saw a world where innocent people were being thrown into gas chambers by the thousands, where children were being shoved into mass ovens, you would do nothing?"

"It wouldn't be easy," Picard retorted. "But I am duty bound to uphold the Prime Directive and to not interfere. Otherwise who is to say what would happen? My interference may keep the planet's societies from become more enlightened from tht horrible lesson."

"Or you might allow the equivalent of the Nazi movement to overcome an entire world and cause even more suffering." Robert shook his head. "I... you want to scold me about not considering the consequences of my actions. What about the consequences of your inaction? How many innocent people have you allowed to die, Captain Picard?! How many people has Starfleet sacrificed to your 'Prime Directive?!"

"The Prime Directive exists to protect less-advanced civilizations from exploitation and destruction." Now Picard's voice began to raise in volume and his speech increase in speed from the calm and measured tones of before, indicating how much Robert's outrage was provoking him. "You are in no position to judge us. Not when you are blundering about in the name of a personal crusade to appease your own ego."

"And you have the right to judge us?!", Robert shot back. "When you freely admit that your reaction to injustice is to ignore it?! I may make mistakes, hell I may even 'blunder about', but at least I'm saving lives and not hiding behind a broad law to justify my own moral cowardice!"

"You are untrained, thoughtless, and arrogant!", Picard charged.

"If you want to call someone arrogant, you damn coward, look in the mirror!" Robert stabbed a finger toward the reflective surface of the nearby display screen. "Your Starfleet may have had good reasons to come up with the Prime Directive, but the way you're using it now... I don't know how people of this era value life, but I value it a damn lot more. Nothing about that law should stand in the way of the basic decency of saving someone from being butchered or degraded. It's okay to be afraid of power and its overuse, but the act of saving people being wrong?" He shook his head. "I'm sorry, I can't respect that. And I can't respect you being devoted to it."

It was clear from Picard's expression that he wasn't about to lose sleep over Robert's respect or lack thereof; the same was true of Robert. They remained silent for almost half a minute before Picard stood from his chair. "I will arrange an escort for you while we wait for your other ship to arrive. I recommend spending time in Ten Forward if you desire refreshment."

"I'll take that recommendation," Robert answered quietly.

Julia entered the Medbay and found Leo examining a little girl, maybe seven years old, with a dark complexion and braided dark hair. A young woman a bit past Julia's age, and of the same complexion as the girl, was fussing over her while an older man stood to the side. He looked back and nodded at Julia. "You're in charge?" he asked politely.

"Julia Andreys," she introduced herself, offering a hand.

"Carlton Farmer," he answered. "This is my daughter Caroline and granddaughter Linda."

"Hi nice lady," Linda said, waving

Julia smiled and waved back. "I'm happy to see you're okay. Are you ready to go?"

Farmer nodded. "Yes, I heard you got the Enterprise herself asking after us. We should be so lucky." He shook his head. "What you've made here is amazing. Dr. Gillam and his staff have explained to me some of this... I'd love to help."

"We'd love to accept it, though it's probably best for you to see Captain Picard first," Julia answered. "We wouldn't want him to think we'd kidnapped you or were coercing you."

Farmer chuckled at that. "Yes, I can imagine that."

"Well, they check out," Leo said, finishing his examination of Linda. "You can bring them along whenever you're ready to leave."

"What about him?" Julia pointed to the unconscious man on one of the beds. "How is he?"

"He should be fine, but he needs more time to recover. Comes with age. Now as for patient five..."

Leo indicated a figure coming up from one of the tables. He was a handsome young man of around their age group, wearing what looked to be a black and gray jumpsuit. "Hello," the young man said, nodding his head to Julia.

"Ah." Farmer nodded. "Julia Andreys, please let me introduce my shuttle pilot Nicholas Locarno."

"Nicholas?" Julia smiled slightly at him. "A pleasure."

"The pleasure is mine," Locarno answered, winking. "And my thanks for saving our lives."

"Oh, those thanks go to Zack more," Julia answered. "And speaking of Zack, he should have the Rodriguez ready. We'd better get going."

The Enterprise's lounge Ten Forward hd a steady stream of activity, all while Robert watched quietly from a window seat. Much like the Darglan base they had food replicators, though the final product felt lackluster compared to what the Facility had to offer.

He sat, nursing a soda drink that had taken him five minutes to help the staff put together, thinking about his argument with Picard. He'd been an idiot, in retrospect. Here was a man who had him and his closest friends at his mercy... and Robert was antagonizing him. It was a betrayal, a betrayal of the good faith that Angel and Cat and Thomas had shown him. Robert looked out the window and at the not-so-distant Kelley, her hull scorched on several spots and, though not visible from here, a hole in the bottom of the hull. It would be so easy for Picard to seize it, or to destroy it... God damn me, I'm an idiot. An absolute idiot...

"Do you mind if I take this seat?"

He looked up and saw one of the lounge attendees standing beside him, a black woman wearing a full purple gown of some sort with a square hat. "Sure," he murmured. "I'm Robert."

"My name is Guinan," she answered. Her eyes glanced out at the ship. "You and the Captain had quite the meeting, I hear."

"The man saves my life and I call him a coward," Robert muttered. "God I'm an idiot."

"You're young. It comes with the territory." Guinan smiled at him before looking out at the ship. "So, you go around being the white knight?"

"I just try to do what's right. I try to save people from being enslaved or massacred or tortured." Robert sipped at his soda. "I guess I just don't understand how someone could not want to stop these things."

"Captain Picard tends to believe in looking at the big picture. And, despite what you may think, he's capable of acting against the Prime Directive if he thinks it necessary." Guinan continued to show interest in the Kelley. "For what it's worth, he's not going to hurt you or your friends."

"I'd understand if he tried to take us. I've made it clear I'm going to continue working as I do. And there's the temptation of the technology we have..."

"Trust me. It won't matter to him." For a moment Guinan remained quiet. "My people used to tell stories about them."

"Your people... and who?"

"My people, the El Aurians." Guinan looked back to Robert. "We're not Human, even if we look it. As for who.... the Darglan, of course. They're orange, yes? Tall skulls?"

Robert thought back to the humanoid form that Control had briefly taken before shifting to his current Human look. "....yes." He stared at her. "You... you knew the Darglan?"

"Oh, I didn't. They were long gone." She sighed. "But we had stories of them. Watchers and learners, always looking for some new wonder to find. A little judgemental, though, and probably too curious for their own good. The stories say they went too far. The end result brought their civilization down. We never heard from them again."

"According to the living computer we met in their old Facility, they sent out a signal saying they were extinct."

"I see." Guinan let out a sigh. "A shame. They were a wonderful people."

Green light drew their attention. They turned in time to see the interuniversal jump point open. Rodriguez emerged and moved toward the Kelley. Robert and Guinan watched quietly as the point closed behind Rodriguez. "That's my cue," Robert sighed. He gulped down the last of his drink and looked toward the door, where Worf had arrived and was standing beside his security escort. "It was nice to meet you, Guinan."

"The feeling was mutual, Robert," she answered, keeping the grin on her face steady.

Picard and Troi were waiting in the Transporter Room when Worf led Robert in. He joined them in standing beside the curly-haired man at the transporter controls. "We've got a lock," the man said, his Irish brogue not too thick but fully evident. "Transporting now."

Four blue shimmers of light coalesced into two men, a young woman, and a little girl. Recognition was evident on Picard's face as they stepped off. "Ah, Mister Locarno," he remarked. "Quite a surprise."

Locarno was clearly not as thrilled, but he kept a neutral expression on his face. "Good to meet you again, Captain."

"Captain Picard." Farmer stepped forward. "Thank you for your concern for me and my family."

"I'll have Counselor Troi show you to your quarters, we'll have you to Starbase 14 soon enough."

"That won't be necessary, Captain," Farmer remarked. "I intend to return with these people and give them my assistance."

Robert said nothing, wondering if Farmer's motivations were fired by seeing the Darglan technology or... well, something else. Picard was clearly perturbed and looked over to Troi. "I sense no compulsion from him or his family, Captain," Troi said. "The sentiment is genuine."

Picard looked to Robert, who remained utterly, completely silent. A very slight scowl seemed to form on Picard's expression as he looked back to Farmer. "Sir, while I understand if you feel indebted to these people for helping you, I must point out that Captain Dale has already freely admitted that his people violate the Prime Directive. If you assist them in those violations it could be held against you upon your return."

"Only if I'm a Federation citizen or break the Prime Directive in Federation space," Farmer answered. "I was on my way out of the Federation when I was attacked, Captain. I was already planning on leaving it. I'm just pleased that we found somewhere better to go."

Picard looked again to Troi. "That was his plan, sir," Troi confirmed. "They're all in agreement."

Robert didn't know what sales pitch Julia or the others had made, but he remained silent, waiting to see Picard's reaction. When it came, it was a sigh. "Very well, sir. I wish you and your family the best of luck." He looked over to Locarno. "I presume you intend to join them as well, Mister Locarno?"

Locarno gave a nod.

"That is your choice, then." Picard turned to Robert. "Please, take good care of them."

"Thank you, Captain." Robert stepped up to him. He raised his hand. "I want to apologize, by the way. While I disagree with you, I insulted you and I shouldn't have. I'm sorry."

Picard considered the hand for only a moment for accepting it. "I accept. And I offer my own apology. You are trying to do the right thing. I have judged you harshly due to our disagreement, and that was not right."

"Accepted." They shook hands. Robert stepped up onto the transporter pad with the others. "Safe journeys, Captain Picard. Maybe we'll meet again."

"Indeed. Bon voyage, Captain Dale."

Robert allowed himself a slight grin. "Honestly, sir, I really don't have that for a title." He reached over and press his comm. "Dale to Kelley. Five to beam over." He nodded his head toward them and received respectful nods in turn before the Kelley's transporter activated.

As this happened, he noticed the wry smile that crossed Picard's face. "Not yet, anyway," Picard said to him as the Enterprise transporter room faded.

Once they were back on the Kelley, Robert led them all to the bridge. Peter was back at the helm, his hands healed, and everything was, if not normal, at least operational. "We have the jump drive online," Jarod said, standing from the command chair. "We're already locked onto the Facility and ready to return home."

"Take us home, Jarod," Robert said. He looked back to the others. "I don't know what lives you were giving up to join us, but I'll do my best to make sure you won't regret it."

"Oh, we won't, and you won't either." Farmer smiled. "I was an engineer and designer at Utopia Planitia for thirty years, young man. I think you'll have plenty for me to do."

Robert grinned at that. As he did so, one particular thought came to mind...

Zack and Leo were sitting alone in the infirmary, save for the comatose patient from the second shuttle. "I almost got everyone killed," Zack muttered.

"You've done what we've all be doing. Acting to save lives." Leo offered him a glass of soda fresh from the replicator before taking a drink from his own. "Did you think it'd always be easy?"

"I never thought we'd go that far, honestly." Zack took a drink as well. "I mean... we were pretty much playing a video game on God mode. Nobody could shoot us, nobody could take us, we just beamed out after doing the hero thing. Why go from the certain thing to the uncertain?"

Leo chuckled. "Yeah, it does seem silly. It's not like our work is boring anyway." He shook his head. "Hey Zack, you want my advice?"

"Leo, you like to give advice whether or not we want it," Zack jibed.

"Yeah, because someone has to keep you nitwits from being stupid," Leo retorted with a wide grin. He kept it on his face as he looked his friend in the eye. "Zack, you were the last to sign on for this. And it might be that... it's not something you actually want to do with your life. Maybe you need to do something else."

"There is nothing else," Zack snapped. "Even before we started doing this, I was just gliding through. Never had a thought but to get away from Dad. Now I've got a job, but I don't feel like it's something I can do."

"Then find another? Beth can always use help at the Liberty Colony." He smirked. "Plenty of pretty girls for a player like you."

Zack answered with a smirk of his own. "Yeah... none as good-looking as Julia though."

Leo chuckled. "Still going there, Zack?"

"Yeah, it's stupid." He sighed. "Julia's way out of my league. I just... okay, I'd like a bit of the old days back. Back when we'd hang out and just have fun. And I think we need to do that again. Just... take a day and have fun."

"That's an idea," Leo said. "God knows we need to get the workaholics under control."

"So says the head workahlic," Zack guffawed.

Leo chuckled at that. He raised a hand and went to speak when a groan came from the far bed. He jumped to his feet and headed to check on the comatose man, Zack standing a distance away. The man, an older and somewhat heavy in figure, opened his eyes and began to sit up. "Woh, hold it there," Leo said, looking at the data readout above the bed to get the man's vitals. "You took some nasty bruises and decompression trauma." He pulled out a pocket light and shined it into the man's brown eyes, checking his dilation. "Dilation looks normal, so no brain damage. I'm Doctor Leo Gillam, by the way. May I have your name?"

The man was still clearly dazed, but he recovered enough to look Leo straight to the eye. "Ah. Hello Doctor," he said in an accented voice. "Th' name is Montgomery Scott. But ye can call me Scotty."

Robert, Julia, Barnes, and Farmer stepped out of the lift and into the control room overseeing the "emergency ship"'s berth in the bottom of the Facility. Farmer's jaw dropped as he looked over the kilometer-long starship. "We don't build them that big in the Federation. And a quadruple nacelle layout? We gave them up from the power issues on the Constellations. I'd love to see what kind of warp core she has."

"'Warp core'?", Barnes asked.

"The main power plant. Oh, sorry, old Starfleet jargon there. Matter/anti-matter reactor, then?"

"Oh, ha." Barnes smirked. "The Darglan data I got says they used to have that, but anti-matter was too unstable. They found this substance, naqia, that acts as an energy amplifier. More energy for engine volume and far more stable."

"I see. Still, that ship will need a lot of power. How finished is she?"

"Barely." Robert brought up a holodisplay that confirmed the ship was mostly an empty shell. "And we can't become ship builders over night."

"A good thing you have me then." Farmer approached and looked over the schematics. "Yes, I could do a lot with this design. But it'll take time. A year, perhaps. At least six months just to get the ship spaceworthy."

"We've got time," Julia said. "We're down to two ships for a while, though..."

"I noticed how badly your ships fared in combat. They're too lightly armed if you're going up against serious opposition. Can you build any more?"

"Maybe one," Barnes answered. "But then we'd not have enough materials for this ship. Our mining operations are taking time to get the ore we need, and even then we don't have the ships to transport large quantities..."

"Transports? Those are easy. If you have sufficient amounts of naqia I can help you put together some cargo vessels with Warp 8 capability easily." Farmer looked back to them. "In the meantime I want to get to work on two projects. This..." He pointed to the emergency ship. "...this will be our long term project. In the short term, we build a proper combat ship for your force. Not too much larger than your current ships, but still... something with teeth."

Robert and Julia looked at each other, thinking of how hard the fight had been. "We look forward to seeing it."

The long day was almost over, and Robert had retired to bed, but Julia saw the message from Zack and Leo and paid a call to the medbay before ending her day. "How is he?", she asked Leo as she entered.

Leo led her up to where Scott was sitting up in his bed. "Are ye in charge here, lass?", he asked as Julia stepped up. "Can ye please have yer doctor let me out of this bloody place?"

Julia smiled and looked back to Leo, who shook his head. "You were almost killed, Mister Scott," she reminded him. "And Leo is a big mother hen when it comes to his patients."

"Aye, all good doctors are." Scott flashed a grin to Leo, showing him there was no real hard feelings. "I have t' admit, it's almost hard t' believe what ye've got here. But I've seen stranger."

"There are times I don't believe it, and I'm here," Julia answered. "So, Mister Scott..."

"Please, lass, call me Scotty."

"Okay... Scotty." She smiled. "You were a bit crazy there, trying to take on that ship with a shuttle."

There was the hint of a blush on Scott's face. "Ah, well. I thought I cud disable the tractors and get the other shuttle out. But my boosts tae the engines didnae hold."

"I was shocked to find out you'd managed to do as much as you did."

"Ah, well... it's a wee habit of mine. Starship engineerin' is my life. Almost thought of retirin', I admit, but....""

Julia allowed herself a smile. "Well, Scotty... if you're looking for a job, we might be able to provide it."

The Council had met and decided to accept Farmer's proposals for the new ships; Robert now stood among them. "Gentlemen and ladies, I've had time to think of this," he said. "After my discussion with Captain Picard, I've come to realize that what we do has unexpected consequences. I won't allow fear of them to interfere in doing good, but we should take them into account."

"Agreed," Gabriel said, with murmuring from the others.

"Thank you, Gabriel." Robert put his hands on the table. "C1P2 sees the United States of that world on the cusp of an early civil war, one that we have engineered. I do not regret this." He nodded to Sally. "But I do think we need to deal with what we've caused. I propose that we put a permanent ship in orbit with one goal; to interfere with the forces of slavery and oppression openly." He noticed the looks that came on their faces. "I'm not talking about raising a permanent military or outright fighting. I'm talking about other measures. We will not become conquerers. But we won't evade responsibility for the consequences of our actions, good or otherwise."

"How do you propose we interfere then?", Leo asked. "We can't just call them up, they have no radio communications."

"We interfere in other ways. We expand liberation of slave plantations to deny them workforces. We use scouting missions and transporters to remove sources of wealth and rob them of the ability to use force. We do everything we can to hollow their power, real or imagined. Because if we don't, we might cause things to get worse from our attempt at good acts."

There were nods, and in the end a vote held. Gabriel and Ba were slow to raise their hands, but in the end they did, ensuring the unanimous decision.

"But this is only for us. We won't force the Liberty Colonists to involve themselves if they don't want to. With your permission I'm going to ask their Assembly to support or reject our decision. If they choose to reject, then we give every person serving with us the choice of whether to help or not." Robert's jaw clenched briefly. "We lost Ramirez and Abbas. And we lost Suun and his team before. Others might die. I don't want their deaths to be in vain."

"Good," Ba said. "I am in agreement."

The others voted and agreed on the message to the Assembly. With that done, business was about to break up when Farmer raised a hand. "What is the name of the ship?"

"Sir?" Robert looked at him. "Which ship?"

"The emergency vessel, as Control calls it," Farmer clarified. "We should name the ship, I believe."

Robert looked to the others, who all nodded. "I guess we have been putting it off. Does anyone have suggestions?"

Julia raised a hand, and when Robert nodded to her she looked at him. "I think it should be representative of what we're doing. Of the hope we're bringing to people, changing their lives...." Her expression showed she'd come to the thought in her mind. "What we do... we give light to people who are alone, who are caught in the darkness of humanity. This ship should represent that new light. That dawn."

There were nods of agreement.

"The ship should be named for the dawn," Julia continued. "So let's call it the Aurora."

There was quiet for several seconds. Leo raised his hand in agreement. Gabriel followed, then Song, Freeman, and Robert. Everyone present was, in fact, nodding in agreement. Robert stood and nodded. "I think everyone likes it," he said. "The Aurora it is."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12258
Joined: 2003-02-02 04:04pm

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by JME2 » 2013-06-29 01:51am

You've got a nice handle on Picard. I could almost hear Sir Patrick. :)

The Prime Directive argument was the highlight for me. You nailed a lot of my feelings and thoughts regarding the TNG-era interpretation of General Order #1.

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-29 03:31am

I've written Picard often enough in various works to have a handle on him (at least IMHO); I'm more concerned with how well I did Guinan, who I rarely write. Thanks for the complement, though.

As for the Prime Directive argument, I wanted to avoid cheap "Hur hur the PD suxx0rs!" semantics, but to show its strengths and weaknesses as envisioned and as implemented. I like to think I did a good job showing two distinct world views that are not very compatible, even if the people holding them are otherwise capable of accepting each other. "Agreeing to disagree" is the limit here and I like to think their scene in the transporter room shows that while Dale and Picard are still at odds on that issue, they're capable of accepting each other's viewpoint, and even have the potential to be friends.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
is a laughing fool.
Posts: 7721
Joined: 2003-04-30 10:24pm
Location: c nnyhjdyt yr 45

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Enigma » 2013-06-29 02:10pm

I love it to bits. I hope you do two things. One, add somehow Doctor Who in all this. Second, avoid Star Wars as much as possible. Your ragtag had trouble against the Klingons, how much more so against an ISD? Or even a Nebulon-B? :)

"Whilst human alchemists refer to the combustion triangle, some of their orcish counterparts see it as more of a hexagon: heat, fuel, air, laughter, screaming, fun." Dawn of the Dragons


User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-06-29 07:17pm

Enigma wrote:I love it to bits. I hope you do two things. One, add somehow Doctor Who in all this. Second, avoid Star Wars as much as possible. Your ragtag had trouble against the Klingons, how much more so against an ISD? Or even a Nebulon-B? :)
When it comes to Doctor Who, I'll remind you the Facility uses dimensionally transcendental tech. And Caterina's look at the Darglan history files did show one term you might find interesting, it's toward the end of Act 2 I believe.... 8) :wink:

Another point should be made that the Kelley and her three sisters are, well, they're not the best armed. One on one they could probably take a B'Rel-class Klingon BoP. OTOH, the Defiant would, as I stated over on SB, beat one up and take its lunch money. :wink:
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-07-02 07:14am

Act 5

It had been almost a year since the seven friends (eight when counting Lucy) had stood together in the Liberty Colony. They had, over time, seen less and less of each other even with work, and far less outside of it.

Now they sat together at a table, laughing and drinking some marginally-alcoholic ale, 'Liberty Ale' as everyone knew it, with every part made right there in the Colony. Spread around the central plaza of the growing colony were other people, of a multitude of nations and ethnicities and universe origins; sixty-five thousand people in all, with banners in a multitude of languages proclaiming the first anniversary of the colony.

"Please, my friends!" The voice filled the plaza, the hearty Yiddish of Menachem Godedsky being auto-translated for everyone's benefit. Attention turned to him as, one by one, everyone looked his way. "A toast, please!" He raised his cup. "To our brave young heroes! For the past year these fine people have given their time and sweat to bring us to freedom! May the next year see more success!"

Cheers erupted, much to the embarrassment of the friends. Caterina blushed deeply and was clearly the most affected, although the smile that crossed Zack's face made it clear how much he enjoyed the recogniton. After joining everyone in a drink and exchanging looks with Julia and Leo Robert stood up. "Thank you sir. It's an honor to be here and see just how well things are going for the Colony. I'm hoping for big things in the following year. Captain Farmer has our new ship joining the fleet this week and another transport is coming off the line. We've had success in C1P2 in undermining the South. We're even planning on expanding operations to Cuba and Brazil, and from there other spots on that world where slavery still rears its ugly head." He let the cheers die down. "Not that we haven't forgotten everyone else. Between Captains Farmer and Scott we hope to have more transports finished that will let us step up our operations. And when the Aurora is finished..." He shook his head and smiled. "Well, that will open up quite a few more options for us. As things stand now, though, I am made humble and, yet, very proud by what the Liberty Colony has accomplished. You all deserve the credit for making this colony beautiful and peaceful. My toast is to you, the people of the Liberty Colony!"

There was another drink and more applause.

As the celebration entered a wrapup period, Zack moved quietly away from the others. He'd traded the ale for a soda to sip on and ignored the festivities, focusing only on his thoughts. He heard a voice call out to him and looked over to see Caterina stepping up, wearing one of her more normal outfits of blue blouse and matching pants. "Hey Cat."

"You never told them why you turned down more ale, they thought you didn't like it," Cat pointed out to him. "Are you okay, Zack?"

"I'm just... thinking a bit," he said. "Shouldn't you be off charming the other kids with your cute, geeky brain?"

"I thought you needed someone." She walked up beside him. "I'm sorry."

He gave her a look while sipping at his soda. "Sorry? What do you have to be sorry about?"

"You... didn't want this," she answered. "But the rest of us pushed you into it without thinking. "

"Honestly, Cat, I don't know what I really want anymore," Zack sighed. "I mean, I like it that we've helped people. I get a thrill out of piloting the ships through space. But I just feel... I feel like I've got this hole in me, and I don't know how to fill it."

"There are lots of jobs if you want to try something else?"

"It's not that, Cat. It's not about the work I'm doing, it's...." He sighed in defeat. "Forget it. Come on, this is our celebration for a year of kicking around douchebags and flying spaceships." Zack put an arm around her shoulders. "Let's go rejoin the party."

"Sure." Cat smiled and looked up at him. "But you'd better pull that arm off, my sister might get the wrong idea."

Imagining Angel's wrath at anyone getting touchy-feely with her little sister prompted Zack to chuckle nervously and pull the arm back. "Point taken, Cat. Point taken."

From its founding onward, the Liberty Colony's housing was made up of re-designed Darglan colonial housing as stocked in the Facility. One such building had been set aside for the attendees of the 1st Anniversary celebration and it was to there that Robert was walking into one of the outward facing corridors, just sober enough not to stagger.

Standing at his door, in fact leaning against it, was Angel. She smiled at him as he approached. "About time. Tried another round?"

"No. Just watched Mister Scott drink everyone under the table," he chuckled in reply. "Remind me to never get into drinking contests with guys like that."

"Always a good rule." Angel put her hands on her hips and remained at the door as Robert reached for the handle. "I'm too buzzed to not be blunt right now."

"You're ever in a mood to be anything but blunt?" Robert smirked.

Angel chuckled at him and promptly pushed her lips against his. Surprise prevented him from returning the kiss. He put his hands on her forearms. "I thought we agreed that it was never meant to be?", Robert asked pointedly.

"We did. But that doesn't mean I can't try," she murmured in reply.

"I...I couldn't. It'd be taking advantage of...."

"Given how much you drank and how little I did, it's arguably me taking advantage of you," Angel pointed. "Listen, before you say no... this isn't a commitment. This is two friends deciding to try again, if just for one night, because they're happy and a little buzzed."

Robert looked at her quietly for a moment. Not just her sharp, lovely face but her lithe, curved body, the tight muscle under her soft arms. An old urging began to assert itself, remembering nights stolen in the barn back home or their bedrooms while family was out. The ale helped, dimming his self-control to the point that he warmly accepted a second kiss from Angel.

Julia was the last to be entering the apartment building where they were staying the night. She'd been a light drinker all her life and tonight was no exception, leaving her fairly sober and alert. She rounded a corner of white plaster and...

Her first sight was Robert and Angel at one of the doors, embraced tightly and kissing with a ferocity that drew a blush from her cheeks. Before she could say or do anything the door beside them opened and Angel pulled him in. The door slammed behind them.

A part of her felt relieved, maybe even a bit happy, to see her closest friend rekindling a companionship that she felt he needed. Something to give him a life beyond this endless crusade. That part hoped that maybe this would become something for them.

Another part of her wanted to curl up and die, as a little envy and jealousy welled within her at seeing them together while she was still alone.

She heard footsteps beside her and looked over to find Leo there. "Something up?", he asked her. There was a faint hint of ale on his breath but, like her, he was clearly sober. "You look upset."

"I'm just..." Julia sighed. "Robert and Angel..."

"Say no more," Leo interrupted. "I saw her look earlier."

"It's good for them," Julia insisted. "It's a life beyond work."

"Yeah." He looked pointedly at her. "Which explains that bit of envy I see." When she looked directly at him Leo smirked. "After Patrick you've stayed away from pretty much everyone."

"Patrick wasn't a good representative of the guy population," Julia answered wryly. "I just... I haven't met anyone else..."

"....except for Robert, of course."

"What? No!" She shook her head. "Robert and I have been friends for so long... it wouldn't feel right. Even then.... I mean, I like our relationship as it is. Trying to make it romantic would complicate everything."

"Romance usually does." Leo rubbed at his head. "Well, that ale went straight to my head and I have some meetings in the morning before we head back. Have a good night."

It was the start of the morning shift in the Facility, which found Jarod and Lucy meeting each other on the lift heading to the Aurora. "I hear you smoothed out the problems with the Rhine's warp field?", Jarod asked, breaking the quiet.

"She runs like a champ now," Lucy boasted. "So now we have two runabouts. How is the work coming along?"

"The Park's systems are all fixed up. She'll be able to join the fleet soon," Jarod answered. "A good thing with all the crewers convinced the ship was cursed and wouldn't work."

"I'm glad we can prove them wrong."

When the lift opened, it didn't do so in the observation deck but further down. A connecting bridge with an electric transport car on it was waiting to carry them into the Aurora. They watched in stunned admiration as the massive starship drew closer, close enough that the window spaces became visible. Phaser strips designed by Farmer were being grafted into the hull by drones along with turreted emitter emplacements.

The car came to a stop at what would be, eventually, the backup starboard airlock entry in the drive section. They entered from there.

At one point this had been the only intact deck on the ship, reasonable since it was the location of Main Engineering and the already-installed banks of naqia reactors. From it one could look across and over to see the rest of the ship's internal structure and inner hull. But the prior months had not been wasted by Farmer and the others; the deck was now fully complete and the other decks were being filled in. They'd long ago memorized the path to take through the corridors to enter Engineering. They found the two deck high compartment as they'd left it, mostly, with generator-powered status displays while engineering crew trained by Farmer went over the banks of naqia reactors.

Farmer was standing at what would become the main status table and display system for Main Engineering. A display of the ship was visible, showing which decks were complete and what systems were in place. He delegated orders with firm hand motions and barked orders, the crew and the automated drones following his instructions expertly. Standing next to him was Control in holo-form. "So you will not be using nuclear-disruptors for the bow armament?", Control asked.

"Aside from the main strips, no." Farmer tapped a finger on the display. "Your fabrication systems let us turn the bow cannons into pulse plasma weapons, at least by the terminology I'm seeing here. Likely to be more useful. With all the energy we'll have from the naqia reactors..." He looked up. "Ah, Mister Jarod, Miss Lucero, good to see you."

"Looks like you're continuing to make headway here." Lucy looked around. "It's amazing how fast this is going?"

"Tell me about it." Farmer laughed. "Even with hull already assembled and the internal structure in place, back at Utopia Planitia this would've taken over half a year just to get where we are. The drone technology more than doubles the manpower and allows for continuous assembly, while the replicators... if only the Federation had this technology. I still have the engineering team double-checking installation, of course, but the internal sensors are helping to speed that along."

"So how long until....?"

He shrugged at her question. "I figure six, seven months. Nine at most. Until she's ready for her first spaceflight I mean. And speaking of spaceflights, our other little project has gone even faster..."

Later that day the Kelley returned to the Facility. The ship settled into its berth under the guidance of Nick Locarno, who put it into place with quiet precision. "And there we are. Establishing docking now, Captain."

"I'm not..."

Before Robert's protest could finish, Locarno looked back. "Starfleet habit, sir, still trying to break it."

That brought a chuckle from Julia, sitting at Ops and finishing her part of the docking sequence. Everyone quietly finished their task. Quietly, that is, until Julia spoke up. "So, I hope everyone enjoyed the anniversary party. I'm sure everyone had a good time."

Robert barely looked over to Angel, who was allowing herself a little smirk, but said nothing. Caterina did not remain so silent. "By good time you mean hooking up? Because I know I didn't get to hook up. Nobody my type."

Hoping to God nobody could see the red forming on his face, Robert went to reply but was cut off by Julia looking behind him to where Zack was checking a station, sitting in his place as emergency backup helmsman to Locarno. "I know some people did. How many girls did you get into your room last night?"

"Two. But only one stayed."

Angel rolled her eyes, but Julia grinned. "Ah, couldn't please both huh? Growing old, Zack?"

"You ladies can be exceptionally hard to please. Though given all the sound coming from Tom's apartment I wonder...."

"Wait.." Somethin ws clearly not computing in Julia's mind. "Tom's apartment? Really?"

"Really. I'm sure I heard at least three." Zack shook his head wistfuly. "Chicks dig the engineers, I guess."

"Before we go more into our lovelife, let's get the ship unloaded," Robert said. "I'm due to take her to N2S7 for our first survey patrol."

"You're going?" Julia looked back at him. "I thought we were giving that patrol to Nunez and the Rodriguez?"

"Had a message from the Weaver this morning, they need the backup in C1P2. And Kirby is still out scouting that desert planet that Cat found."

"Not really me, it was in the computers," Caterina corrected. "The Darglan scouted it millennia ago, apparently it was rich in naqia in this universe and others."

"Either way..... Kelley is going to N2S7. Only taking a few first crew, though so everyone else can stay and relax."

"Or just get piled on with work here," Julia muttered.

Zack watched from a catwalk as the Kelley disappeared into a jump point. He leaned against the railing and let out a sigh.

"It's quite a sight, isn't it?"

The accented voice caused his head to turn. Scott had stepped up beside him to watch the Kelley launch. "It's better on the inside," Zack murmured in reply.

"Oh yes." Silence continued a bit longer. "So, how are ye farin', Mister Carrey? Ye look like ye've lost yer best friend."

"Maybe I have." Zack tapped his fingers on the rail. "Last night was great, I mean, but we used to be like that all the time. Now if it's not related to this work, it's like we never see each other anymore."

"Aye, that's th' way of life, lad. Things change. But not all things." The old engineer patted him sympthetically on the shoulder. "But Ah sense there's more tae this than yer time with your friends."

"Oh, there is," he admitted. "I.... I feel like I'm lost. I've got no purpose here. Thinking about it, I've never had a purpose. Unless you count chasing girls." The older man let out a chuckle at that. "I mean.... everyone else has found their place here, it feels like I'm being left behind."

"Aye, sometimes it takes a good while tae figure things out." Scott sighed wistfully and looked on to the other berth, where the Park was still silent. "Ah've always been lucky, Ah ken from the start that Ah wanted tae be an engineer. But daennae ye worry about it, ye'll find something ye want out of life. In the meaantime, lad, ye've got friends. Daennae ye be afraid tae talk tae them."

A day of quiet patrolling in N2S7 had the crew of the Kelley feeling almost relaxed, enjoying the calm and the spectacular sights of space. Robert returned from a sleep cycle to find Cat staring at her sensor screens intently, a display of a nearby nebula occupying her attention. Ops was manned by Francisco of Equatoreal Guinea, Jasmine from Lebanon had relieved Nick Locarno from the helm, and tactical was manned by Jasmine's brother Yousef. "Cat, didn't you take your sleep cycle?"

"Tried, couldn't," she replied, yawning afterward. "Besides, I'm still going over some of thie data. I've picked up some interesting emissions in nearby space, we might be looking at an existing subspace comms relay. Different bandwidths than the one in S5T3 though."

"Any signs of ships?"

"None yet."

"Ah." Robert settled into the command chair, relieving Peter to go get rest. "Well, steady as she goes, I guess."

"Yeah. Uh... speaking of steady?" Caterina turned in her seat as Robert swiveled his chair to face her. "Are you going steady with Angel again?"

Red formed on Robert's cheeks and he had to resist the impulse to shoot a glare at the giggling Jasmine and chuckling Francisco. "Uh... well.... I'm not..."

"Rob, please be honest. With her, I mean. It hurt her more than you think when the two of you broke up."

"That was her decision," he protested, his cheeks burning.

"I got the feeling she only did it to get it over with," Caterina remarked. "It's just.... don't hurt her, please. If you're not going to get together with her, just say so..."

It was about that moment that Robert began praying for an alien to attack. "I won't hurt Angel, I promise," he answered, hoping that would bring an end to this.

"I just wanted to hear you say it." Caterina looked back to her screen. After several seconds she suddenly spoke up. "I'm detecting a clear subspace signal. Patching it to communications."

Francisco was quick to turn it on, leading to a voice talking frantically in an alien language. "Using translators... it looks like the Darglan database recognizes it. It should clarify..."

"...transport Dularan out of Payya, we need help. Under fire from pirate slaver. Engines out. Shields failing. Please..."

Robert's jaw tightened. "Jasmine, intercept course, maximum warp." He reached over and hit a button on his command station. "Code Red, everyone to battle stations." The klaxon went off four times as the running lights indicators turned to red.

Within minutes they were coming out of warp. The bigger ship was clearly the transport, complete with disabled engines and gashes along the hull from weapon fire. The ship attacking them was a bit smaller than Kelley, carrying a single warp drive nacelle on its back with yellow energy erupting in pulses from a crude turret on the bow. "Lock cannons and torpedo," Robert ordered. "Jasmine, bring us in. Fire when we decloak."

The Kelley moved in. At Francisco's command the ship dropped its cloak. Sapphire energy lashed out, the Kelley venting her fury on the pirate vessel. It had deflectors and absorbed the hits. "Enemy shields down to sixty percent," Yousef reported.

"They're tracking us... firing!"

Thanks to Francisco's warning they were ready for the yellow pulses to hit, smashing against the deflector screens of the Kelley. "Shields holding at ninety-one percent," Francisco reported.

"I'm picking up an energy surge, I think they're about to go to warp."


He said nothing. Instead he waited as his sister maneuvered Kelley to give him a shot. The pulse cannons built into the Kelley's bow blazed once more, joined by a solar torpedo. The drive field of the torpedo sparkled blue and white as it followed the pulses of energy that hammered the pirate's shields. When it hit, the shields failed immediately and energy washed over te pirate ship, knocking it around. A follow-up burst from the cannons blasted the warp nacelle off and dug deeper into the pirate's hull. Too deep, as it turned out; the small pirate ship exploded in a white fireball.

"Well, that was quick," Caterina murmured. She checked her sensors. "No pods. I think we hit an anti-matter fuel bunker or something."

"Nice shooting, Yousef. Status on the Dularan?"

"They have power failures and degraded shields, but I think they're all still alive." Caterina went through her various sensor readings. "I'll have to get Lucy or Tom to look on their engine and see if it's down permanently or not."

"Call down and bring one of them up."

"They're trying to hail us," Francisco reported.

"Put them on." Robert watched the screen bring up... well, they looked Human at least. The central figure almost reminded him of Duffy, if looking far nicer and a bit confused. "I'm Robert Dale, commanding the Starship Kelley. We heard your distress signal."

The Duffy-like figure looked at him intently. "You are not Gersallian," he stated matter-of-factly.

"No, I'm not. I'm from a species known as Humans," Robert clarified.

"Yet you have our language tied into..." He was distracted by a figure off-screen. "Thank you for the rescue. Please, we need help with repairs. Do you have anyone to spare?"

Robert nodded. "I'll have an engineer transported over right away."

"Then we will arrange to dock with your ship."

"That won't be necessary. Standby." Robert got back into his chair and hit an intercom button. "Engineering. I need an engineer or two to help this transport with repairs."

"We're a little short-handed, Rob," Barnes answered. "I can spare Lucy, but that's it."

"Have her report to the transporter room, then. Standard kit and prep."

"On it."

Robert looked up at the Dularan's captain. "Our engineer will be beaming over shortly. We'll stay nearby at alert to make sure no more pirates show up."

The captain smiled and nodded. "Thank you for your aide." The transmission cut.

"And now the long wait begins," Robert sighed.

Lucy was thankful for the translation systems when she beamed over. She arrived in what looked to be the ship's main engineering space. A reactor of some sort thrummed nearby while humanoid beings, human-like ones as well as a few other species that caught her attention with their colored complexions, milled around it. One such alien came up, apparently male with almost elven ears and a complexion that was teal of all things; purple spotting ran down the hairline to his shoulders before disappearing into his jacket. The translator had problems interpreting his language, but after a moment he seemed to swap to another one and suddenly broken English came over. "You speak Gersallian? I not good at it. Help with engine?"

"Uh... yes." She smiled slightly and nodded. "Show me the way."

He escorted her to various points. Something about him looked a little on edge; not a big surprise when you'd just survived a pirate attack. There were blown out conduits and messed up internal trunk lines, all sorts of little repairs.

As she helped with them, Lucy felt unease, which only increased when she noticed she was being watched intently. One of the female crewers, the human-looking ones, continued to appraise her with intense blue eyes. Lucy felt a chill in her spine, a sense that she was in danger, even as the little repairs continued.

Too many little repairs, she thought.

"Honestly, I'm not sure why your engines aren't working," she finally said to the teal-skinned elf guy, exasperated. "Your conduits are working, your lines are intact, and I saw now damage to the drive housing. You should have at least minimal warp."

"Engineers say bad plasma field. You fix?", the alien asked hopefully.

"That's something you should easily be able to tweak," Lucy protested, even as her head hurt more from a sense of terrible danger. "You know what? Excuse me." She stepped away and pressed her comm device. "Kelley?"

"Kelley here. Everything okay Lucy?"

"I'm... I'm not sure, Rob. Something's weird here. I'd like to beam back over and consult with-...."

Pain erupted in Lucy's back. Everything went black as she hit the ground.

Robert felt strong unease when Lucy stopped speaking. Was that the sound of an energy discharge...? "Lucy? Lucy, answer me please. Lucy!" Robert turned his head to Francisco. "Emergency beamout!"

Francisco nodded and went to use his controls when he stopped. "Their shields are going up!"

"Picking up energy buildup, they're charging a weapon!", Caterina shouted.

"Shields to full! Lock on that ship and..."

A purple beam fired from the transport vessel's bow. The Kelley shook underneath them as it struck the shields. The screen dissolved into static. "It was some kind of subnucleonic beam, sensors are overloaded!" Caterina worked frantically at her station. "I'm trying to adjust!"

When the screen returned to normal, the Dularan was gone. Robert thought his heart was going to end up in his gut. "Can we track Lucy's comm?"

"No good, it's not responding," Francisco reported.

"I'm picking up a subspace ripple consistant with a spacewarp drive. I'm giving the course to Jasmine now."

"Thanks, Cat. Jasmine, track that ripple, maximum speed!"

The Kelley turned in space and jumped to warp, pursuing her abducted crewman.

All eyes were on Julia and Angel as they went at it again in the boxing ring, and what had become a real apparent fight as the two threw punches and kicks that knocked one another around. After taking a punch to the chin and falling on her rump Angel finally shouted, "Okay, just what is it with you today?!"

"What is what?", Julia asked. "Weren't you complaining before about my competition not being good enough for you?"

"You're trying to break my jaw, Julie." Angel rubbed at her face, keeping her distance. "Is this because of the other night? It was just one night...."

"You mean you got drunk and horny and decided to just set the clock back with Rob." The irritation in Julia's voice was clear. "Seriously, Angel? You were the one solid relationship he had and losing you almost broke him. Now you're just coming back like that?"

"He knows it was a one night thing, Julie."

"But he's going to torment himself thinking it could be more. You've seen how lonely he is!"

"Then why don't you step in, huh?" Angel looked to the others. "And for that matter, why don't the rest of you take a hike, this is none of your...."

There was a beep on the intercom. "Julie, Angel? Zack here, up at Command. Rob just called, they've got a problem and might need some backup."

"Is the Park ready?", Julia asked.

"No, some systems are still down. But I've got Scotty here, he says we may have an alternative...."

When Lucy regained consciousness she found herself shackled to a metal chair in the middle of a darkened room. Her nightmares hit her full force now, making her think of the things Patrick Duffy had done to her. "What are you doing?! What do you want from me?!"

There was no answer. For a while Lucy could do nothing but sit there, trying to hide how close she was to breaking down from fear at what they'd do to her. Horrible scenarios went through her head, each more gruesome than the last, and soon she was on the verge of just crying.

She got the sense that someone was out there, though. At the sound of a door sliding open she looked up and saw a figure enter. She recognized the woman she'd noticed before, wearing a sleeveless vest and trousers of blue and brown color. Some kind of tool was hitched to her belt, as well as a gun of some sort. This close the light brown color of her hair was more easily recognized, brushed backward as it was with a bun at the back of the neck. The woman's bright blue eyes looked over Lucy and gave her the express feeling that her very soul was being scrutinized.

Suddenly there were words in Lucy's head. We must remain quiet. They had a strange harmonic quality to them, as if spoken in English and some other language simultaneously like a note and counterpoint note, and they were clearly not from the translator. Her eyes widened at the realization that this woman was speaking into her mind.

There was bewilderment and surprise on the woman's face. Your people have no farisas/mindtalkers?

Oh God she can read my mind she can read my mind! Lucy's breathing picked up from a mix of surprise and a bit of horror.

Do not fret, Lucilla Lucero. I am a swevyra'rase of Gersal. Seeing that continued use of "mind-talking" was making Lucy more panicked, the woman knelt in closer so she could be heard with a low voice.

"I am sorry for making you scared. My name is Meridina, and I have come to help you."
Last edited by Steve on 2013-07-07 01:26am, edited 1 time in total.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12258
Joined: 2003-02-02 04:04pm

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by JME2 » 2013-07-02 09:17am

The 'Liberty Ale' bit had me cracking up. As a San Francisco native, one of the local breweries -- Anchor Steam -- puts it out around this time of the year.

Very nice, from integrating Locarno to the new developments.

User avatar
is a laughing fool.
Posts: 7721
Joined: 2003-04-30 10:24pm
Location: c nnyhjdyt yr 45

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Enigma » 2013-07-02 10:51pm

The captors are Pakleds?

"Whilst human alchemists refer to the combustion triangle, some of their orcish counterparts see it as more of a hexagon: heat, fuel, air, laughter, screaming, fun." Dawn of the Dragons


User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-07-03 12:17pm

Enigma wrote:The captors are Pakleds?
Nope. Different universe. If you're thinking of Lucy's initial minder and his broken English, remember that he was an alien trying to speak another language he didn't know very well that Lucy's translator had in its records.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-07-07 01:12am

"What are you?", Lucy murmured. "You... you look Human."

"I am Gersallian," Meridina answered. "Human.... Is that what you are?"

"Yeah." Lucy pulled against a restraint. "Please let me go."

"They are taking us to a pirate station, it is best if I let you free there, Lucilla. On this ship you would be easily found and caught." Meridina put her right hand on Lucy's shoulder. "Stay strong. I will not abandon you." She seemed to notice something. "I must go!" She slipped out the way she had come.

No! Whether or not the alien heard her mental scream was something Lucy could not be sure of. On the other end of the door she noticed guards take up places. They're following me. I know they're following me.

They had been on course for hours and in all that time Robert never left the bridge. Locarno was back at the helm, keeping a steady eye on their heading. Caterina had relayed her sensor readings to Operations for the moment, allowing her to approach Robert.
"Don't blame yourself. Anyone you sent would have been taken."

"I should have known better," Robert mumbled. "I should have realized there would be a trap like that."

"You're not all-knowing, Rob."

"Tell that to Lucy. My God.... if they do anything to her...." Robert buried his face in his hands. "And what if it had been you, Cat? How could I ever look Angel in the eye again if I got you hurt?"

"In case you didn't notice, I want to be out here. The risk is something I'm accepting." She frowned and put a hand on his shoulder. "Rob, we'll get to them. I promise."

"Before or after they hurt Lucy?"

"She'll be fine if you stop worrying about it and focus on rescuing her."

Francisco intervened before more could be said. "I've got them on sensors."

Cat jumped back over to her station. "Nick, bring us out of warp on my mark." She fed him the timing data, since that was faster than saying anything. Almost immediately the Kelley came out of warp.

The Dularan appeared on their screens. It was not alone now; it had at least a dozen vessels milling around in sight, all attaching themselves to a long cylinder of a space sttion with two ends that contained a half-dozen extended docking ports. The Durlaran was into one of the ports. "Can you get a lock on Lucy?"

"Whole thing is shielded, we won't be able to beam," Francisco replied.

"Emissions shielding kept me from noticing it from warp," Caterina added. "I can't make out much of its power signature even at this distance."

"We'd have to infiltrate," Robert murmured. "And we can't do that easily with that captain around to identify us.... we'll need Lucy's runabout." He stood up. "I'll take a couple of crew. Bring us to the edge of the system, we'll warp in openly, you can follow under cloak."

"That's risky, Rob," Caterina said. "They won't recognize the ship design and might assume you're an intruder."

"If they're businessmen they're more likely to see me as a new client. I'll move around a bit and find a quiet place to cloak and find a way to sabotage them from the inside." Robert nodded to Locarno. "Nick, you have the bridge."

Jack and Patty Lawson continued the tendencies in Robert's group for family members to crew together. Rescued from the plantations of C1P2, they had volunteered almost immediately. Julia and Angel had taught them hand-to-hand as well as firearms and their training and data infusions had ensured they had basic piloting and operations skills, allowing them to fly the Rio Grande. It seemed fitting to Robert that he was coming to rescue Lucy in the ship she had built. "We're finishing the warp jump," Jack remarked, his voice still showing some of his old accent.

"Bring us up to the station." Robert turned to work communications. "I'll handle the docking request." He ran a request through the translator which transferred it to the one spoken by the Dularan's commander. After several seconds he got an automated response that told him to prepare a docking fee on arrival. "Great, no local currency," he muttered. He sent a reply saying he had precious materials to trade, knowing it was about his only hope of avoiding a fight right at the airlock.

The reply came, requesting, of all things, jade. Robert checked the replicators and confirmed they could make it, so he created several raw chunks of it. He also made a few other bits he hoped would pass him as a materials trader.

On reply they were given docking permission. Jack moved the ship into place and set them on the docking pad. The adjustable airlock conformed to meet the hatch and they were in place. Robert put the raw jade into a spare metal casing and walked.

Like the Dularan's captain he noticed a couple of the men who met him looked fully Human, but their leader was more evidently alien; blue-skinned, purple-haired, and a line of light purple spotting running around his hairline from his brow. Teal eyes met his intently. "Our docking fee?"

Robert brought the case up.

The alien man looked through it, muttering in a language the Darglan translator didn't know yet. "Sufficient, sir. You've been very respectful. I'm on frequency 205 point 5 if you need any assistance."

"I'll keep that in mind." Robert waited for them to clear out before he moved into the docking area and, from that, the station proper.

Lucy trudged along reluctantly, her hands shackled at the small of her back, as she was led by her captors onto a space station of some sort. She resisted the impulse to look for familiar faces and refused to consider the prospects she might be facing.

They kept her away from the central part of the station; instead she soon found herself back in a chair with armed guards. One of her captors was waiting with her while the others were in an adjacent room, their mouths visibly moving.

Nor were they lone, as the figures they were talking to each briefly turned her way. One was a Human (or Human-looking alien) woman with blond hair that went down to her neck. Beside her was a dark-skinned man that seemed a bit older and balder than Leo. They would speak some to her captors, gestures would be made, and a clear argument was well underway.

Just what is going on?

The central marketplace was full of aliens, with a handful of the human-like "Gersallians", moving around stalls and buying or selling things. Some things looked like food. Others Robert were quite sure were drugs of some kind, and yet others had weaponry showing.

But his blood really boiled when he saw the stalls with live video of beings in cells and markings under them, markings that his translator turned into prices. I don't get it. Why would space-faring cultures even need slavery? Slave labor can't be that useful....

He stepped up to one of the slave traders, a yellow and brown-toned humanoid with four eyes. "Say, I'm supposed to meet someone with the Dularan, you wouldn't know where I could find them?"

"Why? I've got better stock than those pirates ever bring in," the being retorted. He motioned to his monitors.

"I already have arrangements with them. But if it makes you feel better..." Robert pressed one of his remaining chunks of jade into the trader's hand. "Here. Some jade, a tip for good services. So long as the service is actually good, because if not..." He lowered a hand to the holster for his pulse pistol.

The trader hadn't been fazed by the gun before; on the other hand, there was no telling what an unfamiliar face might be capable of, so he seemed a little intimidated. He pocketed the jade. "They'll be using the cargo areas near Dock 10. Can't miss it."

Robert stepped away and found a directory. The implant turned one set of the alien script into English, allowing him to figure out which way he was going.

Lucy looked up when the door opened. The captain of the Dularan entered, followed by the two individuals he had been arguing with. The man stood back while the blond moved forward. "And just where did you come from?", she asked. "I hear your ship had some form of... teleporter?"

Lucy stared at her, saying nothing.

The woman looked to the man and nodded. He stepped forward and pulled out a needle and syringe. Lucy was unable to fight back as he grabbed her arm and stuck the needle in. Dark red blood filled the vial at the end of the syringe. When he was done he pulled the needle back out.

The woman looked to the Dularan's commander. "We have tests to run. We'll let you know a final price when we get back."

"Just hope I don't get a better offer."

"You won't," the man said, being the first to step out.

The captain muttered something to himself and looked back to Lucy. "Heh, Maker knows what they want with you."

"We tried to help you," Lucy muttered.

"You bastards killed some good friends of mine and ruined my trap," he answered. "Feel grateful I haven't spaced you." He turned and left.

Robert tried to avoid attention moving into the cargo areas and the vicinity of Dock 10. He patted the pulse pistol as if to reassure himself that he had protection while walking beside tough-looking figures who shot him dirty looks. The old coat he was wearing at least helped make him look the part, or so he hoped.

In the distance he heard a figure murmuring "....human, then...." and moved toward it, just to hear a latch close shut; whomever had been speaking had entered a soundproofed metal door. He looked down the hall they had come from and continued. He had a hand on his pistol while another snaked quietly toward his personal cloak. He'd been reluctant to try it while in a public area, too much chance of someone running into him, but here.... he pressed it and continued on.

Suddenly he felt an impact against his back. A force grabbed him and twisted him around, a firearm of some kind pressed to his chin. Intense blue eyes glared at him. "Turn off your technology, now!", the figure hissed in a feminine voice.

Stunned that he'd been detected, Robert fidgeted for the cloak button and shimmered back into view. "How did you...?"

"It may hide you from sensors or eyesight, but I could still sense your life force and your mind," she answered. "You... you are the commander of the Kelley, are you not?"

"Yes. Robert Dale."

"I am Meridina." She brought the gun back down. Her brown jacket looked a bit more encompassing, with a hood that was lowered to around her neck, a yellow shirt and black slacks - or at least garments that resembled such - beneath it. "You're here for your friend Lucilla. Come, we don't have much time."

Robert followed her, struggling to keep up as he found his breath. "When you say you could sense my mind and.... how?"

"I do not have time to explain," Meridina answered hoarsely. "Now please be silent. And do not use your cloak again, sensors may draw attention to the loss of your life sign reading."

They entered a cargo area that was more like a jail, with doors secured by locks. Meridina walked up to another of the four-eyed aliens, wearing a grungy-looking long coat garment and leathers of some kind below as well as a fairly large gun on his hip. She stared at him intently. "I'm here to check on the prisoner from the Dularan. Please open the cell." She raised her hand and held it toward his head. There was a look of focus on her expression as she did this.

"You're here to check on the prisoner. I'll open the cell," the figure replied. He turned and hit several keys, but Robert didn't get to see the full operation as Meridina led him through the corridors. One set of adjoining rooms, clearly meant for observation, was revealed as their destination. The door was already opened when they got there and Lucy was sitting there. Robert was relieved to see she was okay, no signs of being harmed, though the trickle of blood on her arm made him curious.

Lucy looked up as they entered. "Rob?"

"Feel free to kick my ass later for not giving you an escort." He unlatched her wrists from the chair and helped her up. She rubbed at them. "The [i}Rio Grande[/i] is several levels down." He looked over to Meridina. "Do you need to be evacuated?"

"It might be best," she said.

Lucy frowned a little. "Rob, she can read minds. She could end up..."

"I'm willing to trust her, for the moment," he answered, though only just. He'd seen her mentally manipulate the guard. "Though we'll have to be careful."

"You refer to my mind-influencing?" Meridina showed a half smile. "It only works on the weak of will. You two in particular would prove highly resistant. And now, I'm afraid we must go."

They left the room. As they did so a collection of aliens was entering the area, accompanying a human-looking pair. Lucy recognized them immediately as the ones who drew her blood. "What the...?!" A figure Robert realized was the captain of the Dularan looked on in shock. He began to reach for his belt. "Stop them! Stop..."

Robert and Meridina pulled their sidearms together and began firing. The captain went down in the first volley, along with some of the others, while everyone else scrambled for cover. "It looks like we're fighting our way out. I'll take up the rear..."

"No. Lead us to your ship, I'll be at the rear," Meridina said. She reached her hand out. Robert and Lucy watched in shock as the Captain's pistol weapon left his belt and flew in mid-air to Meridina's outstretched hand. She handed it to Lucy. "Here. You will need this."

"Cat is going to go nuts if she meets you," Lucy mumbled, taking the gun.

Robert brought up his wrist to speak into his communicator. "Dale to Rio Grande. Still no luck with a transporter lock?"

"Afraid not," Patty replied.

"Okay then, change of plans. Break off from the dock and come to the upper ring. Dock the ship's side airlock to...."

On the Kelley, Francisco relayed the message from Rio Grande. Locarno turned the command chair back to the helm. "It might help if they have a distraction. Or if we can take down that beaming field. Mister Delga.... Caterina, any luck?"

Caterina tried not to giggle at Locarno's continued slipping into Starfleet-trained habits. "I've been looking over the field, but if you're hoping for a nifty techy solution I'm afraid I don't have one," she answered. "Their field is stable, there's no weak points I can exploit..."

"What about a cycling phase inverter?"

"Nope..... wait, cycling phase what? Just call it an inversion and be done with it. You're just trying to sound smart."

"'Trying'?" Locarno smirked and looked back to the viewscreen. "Get ready to bring the Rio back on board, then. We may only get one pass."

There was an audible thunk in the frame of the docking platform. Robert brought his comm up. "Was that you, Rio?"

Static answered him, but after a second it cleared. "...complete. We're overriding the airlock control now."

"I think we've got company," Lucy called out, causing Robert to turn and level his pistol. He fired instinctively, almost hitting one of the elvish-looking aliens as he rounded, a sidearm in his hand. The being fired back and forced Robert to jump for cover.

More of them were coming. "We've got no cover!", Lucy shouted, holding her gun up. They were in a killing zone.

"Get to your ship," Meridina shouted. She pulled off her jacket and threw it behind her. Robert expected her to pull guns, but instead she pulled an object that had been fixed to her belt. It almost looked like a hilt of some kind, but...

When her thumb pressed against the base of the hilt, there was a sharp sound. Metal erupted from the hilt shape in a way that was more fluid than solid. When it finished it had formed a blade with a slight blue sheen to it. Fire converged on Meridina, but her arms became a blur. The blue and yellow blasts of energy struck her blade and were deflected, some even hitting her attackers. Robert and Lucy didn't move for several seconds, awestruck by the display of superhuman speed. "It's like she knows where they're going to shoot..." Lucy murmured.

"Yeah." He nodded. "Let's get to the airlock."

They fell back, firing as they did to help Meridina, but it was clearly unnecessary. The group that had engaged them began to flee, shouting in alien languages their translators didn't know. Meridina joined them as they opened the airlock. "Is something the matter?" She slipped her thumb over the bottom of the hilt again. The metal blade became fluid and sucked inward until it settled into the hilt.

"You brought a sword to a gunfight," Lucy pointed out. "And you won. And how does it do that anyway?"

"You mean my lakesh. I shall explain it later, if you desire. But we need to leave, now."

Robert was already at the cockpit when they secured the airlock. Jack fired the engines and pulled the Rio Grande away from the pirate station and toward open space. They started to accelerate when the ship lurched violently. "Energy tractor!", Robert shouted. "Lucy! See if you can boost the engines!"

"On it!" She manned a console and brought up engineering controls. "Routing power to drives!" The ship's shuddering increased. "It's no good, they're increasing power!"

"Get the Kelley!"

The Kelley crew observed the yellow energy beam grab the Rio Grande and hold it in place. "Yousef, lock weapons," Locarno ordered. "Take out their tractor beam as soon as Francisco decloaks!"

On the Rio Grande, everyone saw through the cockpit as the Kelley shimmered into view. Blue pulses erupted from her cannon battery, striking behind them at the tractor emitter. The ship lurched heavily as it was suddenly freed. Ahead of them the Kelley's shuttle bay opened for them. "This is going to be close!"

We'd better look into a commendation for Jack was Robert's thought as he pulled the Rio Grande up into the shuttle bay. The ship popped up over the bottom of the bay and landed beside the closing doors. Robert hit his communicator. "Site-to-site transport, get me to the bridge and Lucy to Engineering!"

He noticed some surprise on Meridina's face as the transporter beam took him. When it ended, he was on the bridge. Jasmine was already heading off to another station to let Locarno reclaim the helm. He slid into place and triggered the engines in time to avoid a direct hit from the station's weapons array. "I'd say three-quarters of the ships in the area are arming weapons," Francisco declared from ops. "We made them very mad."

"They started it," Robert guffawed. "Fire at will, Yousef. Help Locarno get us clear."

As the Kelley came around they faced a pirate vessel, one of the larger ones, with a catamaran hull shape with blue and orange coloring. Yousef let loose with a full barrage from the pulse cannons and a spread of solar torpedoes. The hits were solid, but the enemy ship's shields held. Locarno twisted them in space to avoid the return fire, managing to evade some of the hits but not all. The Kelley shuddered under them. "Shields holding at eighty percent," Francisco reported after the barrage.

"They've got warp, but if we can get clear and a quick head start...."

"We might not need it," Caterina proclaimed. "Jump point forming!"

The green jump point finished forming above the station. A single vessel flew out of it, the same blue sheen and general shape as the Kelley but about a third of the way larger. It moved to target the pirate cruiser that had just shrugged off the Kelley's main battery. When it fired, thick orange pulses of energy erupted from the cannon emitters on the front of its warp nacelles and slammed into the cruiser. The shields fell as the volley blasted through them, the power of the cannon blasts going straight to the hull. Gouts of flame erupted from the hull as the cannon blasts moved along it. Solar torpedoes erupted from the launchers and slammed into the central section of the hull, nearly splitting the ship in two without shields to hold back the torpedoes.

As the ship maneuvered to find new quarry, its name appeared on the screen. Robert allowed himself a grin as he recognized it.


On the bridge of the Koenig, Julia failed to restrain her desire to smile. "Find us another target. We'll make the Kelley a good opening."

"That won't be hard." At the helm control Zack seemed more content than tense, maneuvering the Koenig to face a smaller pirate vessel. "All yours, Angel."

At tactical Angel was already triggering her weapons. The pulse phaser cannons - as Farmer had called them - lashed out once more, their fury ripping the ship apart in the first volley. "Target destroyed." Angel shook her head. "Farmer and Scott weren't kidding when they said this thing was powerful. We've got to be tripling the firepower of the Kelley."

"More than tripling." At ops Jarod was observing their sensor readings. "It looks like we've scared them, the other ships are starting to break off."

"I don't blame them," Zack remarked. "Pursue?"

Before Julia could answer the ship rocked beneath them. "Shields holding at ninety percent," Jarod reported. "They have a large battery on that space station."

Julia pressed the key on her chair. "Bridge to Engineering. Mister Scott, that was a nasty shake, is everything alright?"

"Aye, its nothing tae worry about, just a wee bit of breakin' in for our dampeners."

"And what about that subnucleonic beam that they used on the Kelley earlier? Did you..."

"Aye lass, sensors have already been hardened. They'll nae be blindin' us."

"Good." Julia allowed herself a confident smile. "Open fire on that station's weapon emplacements."

On the bridge of the Kelley, Robert and the others had been enjoying the show. The Koenig had scattered the enemy and sent them running. But he had other things on his mind. How many captives do they have on that station? We've got to rescue them.

The starboard entry door opened. Meridina entered and stood beside him. "May I see your communications staiton?", she asked.

"What for?", he asked.

"I want to keep you from inadvertently ruining months of work," she answered politely.

He seemed to weigh his options for a moment, wondering whether to trust her. But he decided to try it and nodded, directing her to a seat beside Francisco. She slid into it and, with Francisco's help, found the controls to control signals.

She had only been at work for a minute when a surge of new contacts appeared on the sensors, confirmed by Caterina. Several types of ships appeared, with two distinct design paradigms; one favored a color scheme of brown and red, the other purples and greens and blues. The former designs seemed to be of more curved and rounded hull shapes with sublight drive assemblies on the rear while the latter had visible space-warp drive nacelles and were sleek and angled. "They're coming in with weapons charged," Caterina warned.

"I am transmitting them your ships' codes," Meridina said. "They will not harm you."

"Who are they?"

"Anti-pirate ship squadrons from my people of Gersal and those of our allies, the Dorei," she explained.

WIth the arrival of the other ships, many tried to flee the station, but most were caught and disabled by small spacecraft that made Robert think of fighter jets. The station's shields fell quickly when it was targeted and boarding actions began. "I've got an Admiral Maran on for you," Francisco said.

After Robert nodded he stood. An older Human-looking man appeared with graying dark hair and beard and a round, weathered face. "I'm Robert Dale of the Kelley. What can I do for you, Admiral?"

"Is Knight Meridina aboard?"

Robert looked at her with curiosity. She gave a nod and smile and stood up, walking into sight of the viewer. "I am here, Admiral."

"It is good to see you are well. Mastrash Ledosh was right to recommend you for this work," Maran remarked. "Can you tell me who these people are? They look Gersallian but..."

"I am wondering that myself," she remarked, looking to Robert. "Robert Dale, would you be willing to meet with the Admiral at my side? I believe we have many questions for each other that can be answered."

"Sounds like a good idea," he answered. "It's a long story, though."

On Maran's flagship, the cruiser Lightrunner, Robert sat with Meridina and Maran and enjoyed a sampling of Gersallian cooking, something that looked like mashed fruits and a potato-like vegetable. He had explained everything about them and allowed the two to digest this. "I have to say.... you look Human to me. I mean.... I didn't think two different species could look alike like this."

"We have heard of Humanity in our universe," Maran remarked. "But they came and went long ago."

"Excavations of Earth have led to our anthropologists having some knowledge of your societies and customs," Meridina continued. "It was unfortunate that they destroyed themselves."

"Yeah." Robert sighed and took another bite. He supposed he couldn't be shocked to find such a universe. "I don't suppose there are any colonies?"

"None that we have seen. There are rumors and indications, though. But we have never substantiated them."

"Well, I won't bother you with it." Robert let his utensil set on the plate. "We've been doing this for a year, but we've never really permanently dealt with other space-faring countries. You're our second encounter."

"Our leaders would be interested in meeting with you, and discussing technology exchange and resource sharing," Maran remarked. "Your people seem to have a fairly good sense of moral obligation, one worthy of Gersallians."

"Thank you for the compliment."

"And your hatred of slavery commends you further," Meridina continued. "The Dorei will be especially well-tempered toward you for that."

"Hopefully so. I will, of course, have to consult with our Council before finalizing any deals." Robert put his hands together. "But opening relations with your people will be a big step for us, and I'm hoping to see it taken."

"We're glad you see it that way." Maran folded his hands before him. "I will await your meetings with your Council. Do you have any other questions?"

"Not for you." Robert turned his head to face Meridina. "As for Meridina..."

She had an amused smile on her face. "Yes, I sensed you had many questions for me, Robert."

"I saw you pull things with your mind, win a gunfight with a sword, and with a sword that melts in and out of its hilt at that. And you read minds." Robert smiled thinly. "Yeah, I'm curious. And a little scared."

"We are familiar with how those unfamiliar with psionics and swevyra can be concerned." Meridina put her hands together. "My people believe that all life has an innate connection to the universe. For most this connection is basic. It only provides our basic needs, the power for our souls you might say. But some of us are... gifted. Blessed with a stronger connection to the universe, one that causes the universe to respond to our thoughts and needs. We call such a connection swevyra."

"My translator isn't translating that term."

"The ancient Darglan had no equivalent term in their language. It has a meaning... it is very unique to our people, but to try to explain it... it means vibrancy of life. To wield swevyra, to be a swevyra'rase, is to have an innate connection to the forces of the universe."

"So the universe lets you pull something to your hand."

"Yes." Meridina gave a nod. "It lets me sense the intentions of others and to react to them immediately. By focusing my body becomes faster and stronger, more resilient to injury... indeed, we have many swevyra'rase who can even heal themselves and others. As do the Dorei, though they do not share our particular philosophy and see their swevyra as a result of the influence of divinity, or divinities in some cases. Dorei religion can become... complex."

"So can Human," Robert remarked wryly. Sometimes he found himself thanking God that the Liberty Colony had managed to have such a polyglot population without devolving into religious squabbles. A lot of energy being put into building probably helps.... "And you can read minds from this?"

"To an extent, yes. But I am also farisa. A mindtalker, if you will. A certain portion of Gersallians have this gift. Some have swevyra too, some do not. When the two overlap... it can be a blessing." Meridina blushed a little. "I am one of the youngest of our serving swevyra'rase."

"I heard the Admiral call you a Knight before. What does that mean?"

"It is a translation of a term that Swenya - a great teacher and founder of the current Gersallian institution for swevyra'rase - used to describe a field swevyra'rase."

"So it's.... it's the same as swev-eer'rassy..." Robert blushed at mispronouncing it. "It might be easier for me to just use 'knight'."

"If it pleases you. As for my lakesh." She brought it out. He could see her flip the switch, causing the metal on the hilt to turn fluid and form the blade. She deformed the blade after a second. "The term is 'memory metal', crafted in our foundries for this use. We use a long-life battery to generate a very slight charge that prompts the blade to form from the base. The metal is treated to provide deflective properties. Projectiles, energy fire, even fluids such as blood are repelled."

"Amazing. The Darglan records never mentioned something like this..."

"It is an old technology, and memory metal is not used frequently outside of crafting lakesh blades." Meridina returned the hilt to her belt. "Does that satisfy your curiosity?"

"Yes. Very much."

Days later, Meridina was standing with her wizened superior, Mastrash Ledosh, waiting alongside the Director of the Gersallian Interdependency and the Dorei Federation's Ambassador for the arrival of Robert Dale and his entourage. The Gersallians had prepared very nearly a proper state welcome even if Robert's people were not exactly a full state; news was spreading about the amazing contact and firing the imaginations of the Dorei and Gersallians alike. A Human civilization with ideals and beliefs that so closely matched their's... it seemed incredible, truly a moment for history.

Others were still milling and talking, allowing Meridina to resume a conversation with Ledosh. He looked at her with curiosity as he heard her speak of the others she had met. "That would be very interesting," he admitted. "Are you sure...?"

"I am."

"Something for a later time, then. Much later. For now we must see how things will progress with them. I want you to be quiet about this for the time being, until we get a better measure of them."

"If that is your will..."

the Kelley came out of warp in the company of the Lightrunner. Julia stood from ops as Locarno secured the ship from warp flight and brought it toward Gersal. "Wow..."

The amazement of all but Locarno was clear given the sight before them. Gersal's main moon had an entire ring around it with ships coming and going, while on the surface there were seas of light formed around biodomes. They flew past it and toward the planet, moving with the traffic of smaller and larger vessels toward a large space station, a long block with arms extending out from the center. The planet below was full of light on the side presented to them, the sun coming up over its north pole. "The computer is trying to calculate how many life forms are on the planet below, but right now it's got to be in the nine billion range," Caterina murmured. "And another 100 million on their moon. It's.... wow."

"I forget how new this stuff is to you," Locarno remarked. "Just wait until the day comes you visit the Earth I came from."

"Given how often we break their Prime Directive, I think it'll be a while before we're welcome in the Federation," Robert remarked. He stood up and moved to join Julia. "Ready?"

"Yeah." She smiled at him. "Ba is waiting for us at the Transporter Room already. Shall we let her take the lead?"

"Oh yes. I'm a horrible diplomat." Robert gave her a smile. "An alien homeworld, Julie. Did you ever think...?"

"We were so busy with other things I never even considered it," she admitted. "But it is awesome. And historic. And, if we're lucky, just the beginning. If our relations with the Gersallians and Dorei prove strong, there may be other states we can establish ties with. And with interuniversal jump drives, who knows? Maybe we'll even recreate the multiversal society that the Darglan had?"

"Something to strive for," Robert agreed. "Anyway, let's get going. We have history to make!"
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
is a laughing fool.
Posts: 7721
Joined: 2003-04-30 10:24pm
Location: c nnyhjdyt yr 45

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Enigma » 2013-07-10 08:16pm

One universe you could go to is the one which Skynet rules Earth. :)

"Whilst human alchemists refer to the combustion triangle, some of their orcish counterparts see it as more of a hexagon: heat, fuel, air, laughter, screaming, fun." Dawn of the Dragons


User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-07-10 11:18pm

Act 6

A laugh came from the dock connecting the Park to its home dock in the Facility, after which Robert threw his arms open and let Beth come into them in a tight hug. "It's been months, Beth!"

"Well, you've been keeping us busy at the Colony, Rob." Beth accepted the hug warmly and sat back. "I work 12 hour days as it is keeping everything running."

"You're the one who wanted to be a manager," Robert retorted happily. "We're at what, ninety thousand now?"

"After that last round from C1P2 and the new arrivals from A7R6, we've actually almost hit one hundred thousand," she corrected. "Captain Farmer's bulk carriers are doing their work."

"He's said he'd go faster if he thought the Colony could take it." Robert tried to not think of what that meant; that thousands of beings were suffering longer than they should be.

"Still.... just how far back can we go? We've got 18th Century people too now and have little enough in common, how could we deal with those even older? If we find such an Earth are we going to start snatching Christians from the Colosseum? They'd have nothing in common, culturally... not even religiously."

"And so we should just leave them to die?" Robert shook his head. "We'll think of something."

"I hope so." Beth followed him through the halls toward another of the dock entrances. "So are you ready?"

"No, no I'm not," Robert admitted, looking uncomfortable in his fancy-looking suit. He missed the casual clothes he mostly used. "We've never had visitors like this before.

"But it's a big step. The Dorei and Gersallians have been especially helpful to us in supporting the Colony. And you have to admit their training is helping your crews."

Robert nodded. Admiral Maran had been particularly helpful, showing Robert and his commanders some of the ropes of space combat.

At the airlock they found Caterina and Julia waiting in conservative "church" clothes. Angel was sporting one of their first attempts at a dress uniform, a crisp black jacket and matching pants with her dark hair pulled into a ponytail. In lieu of actual ranks - they still hadn't decided on that, even if the Council was preparing to accept the Starfleet ranking system for any truly organized force - she only wore the torch insignia that the Council had agreed upon.

It was a fairly inspired moment, all things considered; the torch, the symbol of light being carried through darkness, as their insignia. Robert wished he'd thought of it, but it had been Paul Freeman and Juan Perez of C1P2 who proposed it, and as freed slaves he suspected it was particularly resonant with them.

Outside the window they saw the Facility's drive system fire up. The Kelley came out of the portal that appeared and quickly docked. "You realize Zack's going to kill you for making him command the ship for this?", Julia murmured to Robert.

"Likely," he agreed.

When the portal opened everyone remained quiet as the delegates came out. The first figure out was Mastrash Ledosh, followed closely by Meridina. "I have come to represent the Gersallian Interdependency," he informed Robert in a formal, clipped tone. "It is good to see you remain well."

"Thank you, Mastrash. Welcome to the Facility." He nodded to Meridina. "Welcome to you as well."

"I look forward to seeing this place of wonders," she answered. "The Darglan had a reputation among my people for their aesthetics."

They moved on. The next figure was a blue-skinned, teal-haired, teal-spotted Dorei male. "I am Dorm Kardai, a representative of the Daxai Mercantile Republic and Senator of the Dorei Federation," he stated. "I look forward to exploring the trade opportunities made possible by your technology."

Over the prior months Robert had learned a bit of the races of N2S7. Among the Dorei Nations and other races the Daxai were considered the pinnacle example of oligarchic, commerce-centered governance. He gave a friendly answer and waited for the rest of the delegates. Some were fellow humans, from a few universes they'd found with interstellar humanity, others were more aliens from the same universes or N2S7. A man who made Robert think of Woody Guthrie was the Federation delegate from S5T3; he introduced himself amiably as Sonek Pran. A pair of Alakins, essentially humanoid avians, nodded approval to him chirps from their long beaks.

Julia was leading them to the prepared conference room, where the Facility Council and the top leaders of the Liberty Colony awaited, while Robert waited for Zack to step out. "Oh, buddy, do you owe me," Zack mumbled.

When the last delegates were out of earshot Robert gave a nod and asked, "Okay, how do I make it up to you?"

"Give me a long term rotation on Koenig."

"Can't do it if you stick to helm. But if you'll do some command shifts..."

"If I have to."

Robert gave him a careful look. "Okay, who are you and what did you do with the real Zachary Carrey?"

"What? I don't want to command, but if I have too, better the Koenig than the other ships. There's just... something about her." Zack grinned. "Yeah, I know, 'guns strapped to an engine'. But she's got a good grace to her, even if she's a nasty, tough little ship in combat."

"I'll get the arrangements squared away after this meeting." Robert tried not to grin too widely. He'd been hoping for something to catch Zack's eye and settle him.

"You have fun with that."

So much for fun, Robert thought to himself in a sigh, unable to resist facepalming.

One of the delegates, a representative of "the Free Colonies" in Universe D3R1, was smacking his hand on the table and staring daggers at Sonek Pran. The Federation delegate had made a slight reference to the Federation's ideology of betterment and rising above materialism and selfishness.... and that had not gone over well with the fierce libertarians. "Are the free people of the Colonies supposed to endure this claptrap?!", John Morrison raged. "We separated from the centralizing socialists of our Earth to avoid this same doggerel!"

The representative of D3R1's Sol System Republic was quick to retort, "And as always you crazed Colonials act like maniacs whenever someone sees value in a society not built upon grasping for wealth over the bodies of those who didn't succeed!" The tanned Thai woman, Sriroj Thiang, spoke English with a fairly thick accent.

Another uproar was beginning to sound when Julia slammed a gavel on the table. "Gentlemen, ladies, please!"

"Yes." Saka Matanp of the Alakins chirped in agreement. "This ideological squabble is a distraction from the greater issues of application of the jump technology."

"On the contrary, Mister Matanp, it goes to the heart of the matter," the Colonial rep proclaimed. "Any state that first acquires the technology will get an edge over their competitors. And the Free Colonies will not tolerate this technology going to the SSR before we gain it."

"I would hope that served as incentive to sign on then," Julia said. "We're not looking to give one of you the edge over the others. This entire meeting is on fairly and effectively disseminating the Darglan drive technology."

"All well and good, Miss Andreys," Kardai began, "but implementation remains an issue, as does the prospect of some parties here looking to gain an edge to impose their socio-economic systems on the others."

"We're aware of that. We don't want to destabilize..."

"Then you should have kept to yourselves," the Sol System Republic woman pointed out. "This technology changes everything, as does other technologies present in this alien facility."

A hand went up and Julia looked to it with relief. The figure was Peter Morgan of H1E1's Earth Confederacy, that government's Vice General-Secretary (effectively a Deputy Prime Minister). "Secretary Morgan?"

"I understand some of you are afraid of what these technologies mean. And of what it might mean for your home universes. But let's look at the potential here. Exploring other universes provides a means for expanding scientific knowledge and the resource bases we enjoy. It means outlets for colonization to relieve population pressure. And by banding together we can avoid conflict between us and provide mutual security against outside threats. One of us could not attack the other, as it would invite the rest to come down on the aggressor."

Sonek Pran nodded from his seat. "Our worlds had the same motivation when we formed the Federation."

Morgan inclined his head toward Sonek and headed off the inevitable protest by speaking again. "A good point, Mister Pran. Although in our situation I think 'federation' may be too strong. We would be looking at a body with great latitudes toward individual members and only enough central structure to coordinate defense policy and multiversal expansion and diplomacy. An alliance built upon states with very basic points of mutual agreement; the concept of democratic and elected government, going by our attendance."

Robert heard his words and silently nodded. When Morgan finished speaking he decided to speak. "You mean that we should form some... alliance of democratic nations?"

A small smile came to Morgan's face. "A rather direct name, though the abuse of 'democratic'-named states by totalitarians with pretensions of popular rule might leave the wrong impression."

"Yeah." Robert smirked. "Or we can redeem the term."

"It's possible. But I think we need to focus on other matters first."

"It would be prudent, yes," the SSR delegate confirmed, glowering at her Colonial rival. "I suspect we all have ideas on what such an 'alliance' should entail."

The debate started up all over again.

After the meeting ended Robert was in the meal area, enjoying what passed for a meal from the Facility's food replicator systems. Some of the other delegates were around, a handful gathered around Sonek Pran and talking music of all things, while the others were undoubtedly in their rooms preparing reports or making plans.

Beth took a seat opposite from him, a basic meal of replicated turkey slices and rice on her tray. "We've got real food at the Colony now," she pointed out to him.

"I've heard." Robert put a hand to his forehead. "A part of me is wondering if we should have held the talks there."

"It would have been crazy." Beth took a bite and finished it quickly. "We're going to have to deal with our Earth's governments at some time, you know."

"It will be easier when we have a government of our own at our back. Then we're not just some band of stateless renegades."

"No, we're just the people who handed over advanced technology to someone other than our own world." Beth gave him a wry smile.

"Not by choice," Robert muttered. He could remember all the circles they'd made in the Council, trying to consider how to get the benefits of the Facility circulated without triggering problems. "It's good to see you're doing well, Beth."

"Me?" She gave him a sad smile. "You're the one who was coming apart when you introduced me to this."

"I can't argue with that. I...." Robert drew in a breath. "Do you regret the family losing the farm?"

"Of course I do."

"I didn't think you liked it, given how fast you were to leave."

"Robert..." Beth drew in a breath and let out a sigh afterward. "Kansas was... suffocating to me. Portland, the entire Northwest, was something new. I felt better there."

"And Grandpa? I know he had trouble understanding...."

She shook her head. "Toward the end he accepted it. I always liked pointing that out to people who insisted that people couldn't get over their prejudices."

"He always was about family..."

A shape appeared over Beth, causing them to look up. Peter Morgan was standing over them, a polite expression on his face. "Would you excuse me if I sought some of your time, Mister Dale?"

"Of course, sir. My cousin and I were just talking on private matters."

"So I see." Morgan slipped into a chair. "An interesting turn of events today. We came to talk about a general sharing of technology and support for your force of freedom fighters. Now everyone's mulling the alliance proposal."

"You were the one to broach it."

"Yes. And it's something I consider to be the best outcome available. This technology you've revealed to us is too much for any one state or species. If it was ever applied militarily it would give one side a major, perhaps insurmountable advantage. The Alliance is a solid means to coordinate the release of that technology."

"It won't easy to run."

"It never should be," he emphasized. "I'll leave you to your meal, hopefully we'll have a fruitful discussion tomorrow..."

The Aurora's engineering section was the site of a quiet thrum of activity with engineers milling all around on various tasks. "...tellin' ye, lad, the couplings cannae take that much strain, ye need reinforcement!" Scotty called up into an accessway for the impulsor drives.

"Not the standard ones!". Barnes responded. "But I've changed the alloy formula, the strength means it can hold."

"And what about the vibrations? 'Tis nae always strength ye've got to worry about!"

"Coated in a protective material. Seriously, Scotty, I've worked with these systems on the other ships, it'll be fine!"

The older engineer drew in a sigh and went over to the status panels. The Aurora's power systems were a tremendous work of engineering, a marvel that was something to be proud of. The last thing he wanted was to see it brought down by a simple coupling failure. He'd seen far too many projects of similar stature ruined by such things; a guilty memory came to mind, of the Starship Excelsior stranded in Earth orbit, its transwarp drive immobilized by very minor issues caused by him.

When Barnes emerged he went over to a station and brought up the computer simulations testing the coupling stresses. Looking over them, Scotty had to give a nod. "I see. I didnae think ye could get the stresses better."

"Just took me a while." Barnes began checking the other systems. "And we'll do test runs on the impulsors before we actually use them, if the vibrations prove more intense than planned I can always go back in and switch things. But this way the drive system is more efficient."

"Aye, that it is." There was silence between the two engineers. "Ye've got a talent, lad."

"Yeah, well... I had most of this stuff downloaded into my brain, the rest was all trial and error." Barnes tapped several keys to cycle through the systems. "You learned it the hard way."

"Ye wanted tae learn this, though. Ye've got curiosity, a need tae see how things work. Always a good sign in an engineer."

"Yeah, but I always seem to be fixing engines in my spare time. Zack was always bad about assuming that being an engineer made me a mechanic."

"Part of th' job, lad, just another part of th' job."

Julia and Robert each looked ready to die as Sriroj and Morrison continued another exchange, this time over the disposition of an unclaimed star system between SSR territory and the Colonies. The system information was recognizable; it was the system with another copy of that desert planet Caterina had cataloged that was rich in naqia. Before the system had been ignored by the two sides; now, however, the prospect of naqia had fueled interest, and to top it off, the system had some potential strategic placement if occupied.

"If you think we will allow the Colonies to range your fleets so close to Sol, you are mad!", Sriroj proclaimed. "Things were bad enough when you held Proxima!"

"You mean before you stole Proxima and subjugated the Proximans to your stifling government?!"

"I only remember seeing half-starved workers finally getting proper housing...."

"Enough!" Julia slammed the gavel down so hard she expected it to break. "If you're so concerned about one another having the system, we can arrange for someone else to take possession..."

"That is proper territory of the Colonies!", Morrison raged. "Any unauthorized vessels entering will be engaged!"

"If Colonial ships enter the Abdis system, Sol fleets will be dispatched!"

"Then it will mean war!"

"Enough!" Julia's shout upon standing broke up the threats. "Listen to yourselves! We invited you here because this is an opportunity to improve both of your societies, and all you can do is bicker about the past! Is that all you care about?!"

Before either could speak up in defiance, Morgan rose. "I believe our chairwoman has made an eloquent point. There are ways to handle the issue of the Abdis system through demilitarization and common use. And if you care one whit about the peoples you are representing you'll take them. If not, then I ask... why are you here?"

"We're not about to let the socialists of Sol get an edge on us," Morrison grumbled in reply.

Before Sriroj could respond Morgan started again. "We have talked about creating a common union of nations here, one that I will immediately point out is not going to interfere with your internal economic systems. And for all of your mutual disgust of one another, I will point out you both believe in a system of rights and limitations on government power over the common citizen. Your disagreement is how far that power can extend before it becomes tyrannical. That's fine; you're not being asked to merge systems. You're being asked to work together for something better for everyone."

"So we do all the work and then you make us share it?", Morrison charged.

Morgan leveled a gaze at Morrison. "It's a two-way street, sir. You get the same benefits."

"It has some promise," Kardai remarked from his seat. The Dorei man rubbed at his chin. "The Dorei Federation had similar issues at its foundation, given the multitude of our governmental and economic systems. If you are worried about being drowned in a sea of statist governments, Mister Morrison, you need not be concerned; many Dorei have similar views to my own."

Morrison slowly sat back in his chair, hands put together in thought, though he was still clearly worked up. Ledosh looked to Julia. "Might I suggest a recess?"

"That does sound like a good idea," Julia agreed.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9552
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA

Re: "A Time for Heroes" - Reimagined Fic Setting

Post by Steve » 2013-07-12 01:01pm

Caterina was taking a watch in Facility Control that gave her an excuse to go spelunking through the Darglan records again. This time she was partaking of the listing of all the "exotic" materials and minerals that the Darglan had recorded. She'd learned a lot about naqia, and even how its enriched form allowed greater power generation or explosive power at the cost of instability, but there were so many other materials listed to be considered. She'd translated one material as "Quantium-40" and observed its unique effects on space-time and potential for hyperspatial jump generation, then there was dilithium and its ability to not explode when antimatter touched it, and oooh she really wanted to get her hands on some of that element zero stuff...!

The door opened and she looked back to see Meridina enter. "Oh, hey." She turned her chair. "Are you lost?"

"Um... no. I am simply looking around." Meridina looked around the room and to the dock areas beyond, the Kelley at rest in one window and the Park in the other. "And you say this is all in some bizarre dimensional field?"

"It's a dimensionally transcedental object," Caterina explained. "The Darglan got the technology after encountering a member of some ancient race in.... okay, I forget the universe. But it essentially means the inside is bigger than the outside. The space this facility takes up is, on the outside, a box about the size of this room."

Meridina's astonishment showed as she looked toward the central holotank. "Amazing. My people have so many stories of the Darglan."

"Do you know what happened to them?"

"Swenya wrote only that their curiosity was their undoing. That they found something horrible and were nearly destroyed for it; that, in the end, they had to abandon their exploration of the multiverse, and that is why we never saw them again." Meridina walked up to a panel and put a hand on it. The controls, once displaying in German, now switched to an alphabet that Caterina didnt recognize immediately but which she supposed to be Gersallian. "So amazing..."

"I can give you a tour after my watch," Caterina offered. "It's always fun to show this place off."

"If Mastrash Ledosh has no need of me, I will gladly accept."

Robert was taking a moment to try to ease the headache he had from the meeting when he saw Ledosh walk up. He nodded politely to the Gersallian swevyra-user and received one in return. "Master Ledosh? What may I do for you?"

"Given your headache, Councilman, I think you need more help." Robert didn't show immediate reaction to the "Councilman" title. Technically he was, but on the other hand something about that title irked him. "You look rather irritated with your title."

"I am not a politician," Robert sighed. "My inability to deal with Sriroj and Morrison should make that clear."

"It's not really your duty to do so. You brought us here to discuss issues together. It just so happens that those two nations have such enmity with one another that they cannot discuss issues without resorting to their continuing ideological feud."

"Yes, it's like one can't speak without the other reacting, and then you get that loop of reactions that makes it impossible to work with both." Robert stood silent for a moment. "That might be the solution, though!"


"We can't get them to agree in the open session, they're too likely to continue to argue. But we can approach them separately." Robert nodded to Ledosh. "Thanks, Mastrash," he said, smiling. "You've given me an idea." He brought up his comm and began walking away. "Julie, meet me in my room, I think we can approach this Abdis problem differently..."

Caterina had shown Meridina through the living spaces and the armory and the data infusion center since their tour began. Now they were on their way up to the top level of the facility. "I know you have a vessel construction dock in the bottom, but what is up here?", Meridina asked.

"The best part," Caterina said urgently.

The lift stopped and opened. They stepped out into a large and open space, blue-tinted on its surface like much of the rest of the base. Meridina looked around in confusion. "What is... it is an open space?"

"No, it's just not turned on." Caterina cleared her throat. "Oh Control!"

The Facility's AI shimmered into view in front of them. "Caterina, a pleasure. And swevyre'rase Meridina, of course."

"I want to show her what this can do. Please load the astrography program."

Around them the empty chamber became a sea of bright stars. A giant ball of yellow-and-white light shone to their left. "This is our section of the Galaxy," Caterina explained. Using the conrols she focused in on one arm of the galaxy. It zoomed in and, under Cat's control, continued to do so until it arrived on Earth and the Sol system.

Before either could say anyone, the starmap display shifted to show a different reach of space. Control looked ramrod straight and spoke with a sudden and mechanical tone. "A hidden program is becoming active in my systems."

He faded, and the figure that appeared made both gasp in awe. "A Darglan," Meridina whispered.

Caterina remembered the brief glimpse that Control had given them of the species, way back when they first activated the Facility. Now she had a good look. The Darglan was humanoid with three fingers and two opposable thumbs. The orange complexion was on the darker side with dark brown eyes. The skull was twice the height of a human one by proportion. A sharp chin and wide jaw were the main features of this version, which stood at about six foot five thanks to its skull.

And it was looking at Meridina.

Caterina's auto-translator kicked in as it began speaking in Gersallian. "Greetings child of Gersal, bearer of the legacy of the noble Swenya and her wise master Reshan. We are proud that our allies in war and peace have come so far and found their way here. This Facility will aid you in continuing the work we sought to accomplish in the development of a Multiversal society. To further aide you, we have prepared a prize for the Gersallian people." The figure gestured. A star on the map lit up with characters that the auto-translator turned into "Gersal" for Caterina. A distance away, a great distance away, another star lit up. While this part of the starmap remained active, a cutaway cube allowed a "zoom in" to show a star system with a blue sun and diverse mix of planets and moons. "Seek your prize here, noble Gersallians. Let your devotion to the forces of life bring you eternal wonder."

"That looks pretty far.... clear across the Frontier Regions for your people?"

"Yes. We know nothing of any races that dwell beyond," Meridina admitted. "But the prospective discovery is astounding, though it may take us years to get that far."

"Months for you, though the Aurora might make it in a few weeks if we get the max speed Scotty and Farmer have promised." She looked over at Meridina and smiled. "See what I mean? Best part!"

The Darglan hologram wasn't done, however, speaking again when the program detected them going quiet. "But be wary, good friends. Do not repeat our mistake. Content yourselves with the limitations of the drives. To pierce the deepest voids of the dimensions will only expose yourself to the Darkness that dwells there. The Ancient Ones will never tolerate that risk. You would be punished as we have been."

"'Ancient Ones'?" Caterina looked to Meridina who, in turn, shook her head to display her lack of knowledge. "And I wonder what it meant by 'darkness'?"

"Computer?" Meridina looked up to it. "Can I ask..."

The program vanished and Control reappeared. "It seems my creators set that to trigger whenever I detected a Gersallian in this chamber," he explained helpfully. He held out a hand and a data disc appeared in it. "Here, Meridina. This contains the data from the recording."

"Ehmmm.. thank you." She accepted it with a bow of her head.

"I didn't know you could do that!", Caterina exclaimed.

"Oh, a simple matter my young lady. The holo-systems do use replication for some items, reclaiming them as needed and if desired."

Meridina focused on the disc. "Control, can you explain what it meant?"

"What it meant?"

"'Ancient Ones'. The Darglans' mistake, and the 'deep voids' and 'darkness' that dwelled in them."

"I have searched my database and find no clear correlations. It would appear the data in the recording was not kept in my databanks. "

"Check again, please." Caterina moved to the lift. "Because some of what that thing said scares me to death."

"Checking... I am sorry, but it is not there. I am not detecting any memory faults."

"Okay..." Caterina sighed. "Anyway, back to the show, because you've got to see how well this thing emulates environments!"

Julia found Sriroj in her assigned quarters going over notes. "Madame Emissary, I hope I'm not intruding?"

"You are not, ma'am. How may I be of service?" She rose from her chair and looked straight at the younger woman. Her pose was diplomatic, but not entirely a front; without Morrison to prick at her Sriroj seemed genuinely friendly.

"I understand that your relations with the Colonies are very strained now, but I hope you will consider the compromise for the Abdis System."

"We only require a fair share of the naqia found there and no Colonial military presence, ma'am. If this is agreed upon the Sol Republic will be satisfied."

"Then I hope to ensure that..."

"....your concerns are met," Robert finished, speaking with Morrison at the observation deck for the Kelley. "You have to admit, sir, that it will be harder to extract Abdis' materials if you're constantly fighting Solian fleets."

That drew a scowl. Robert remained silent as he let Morrison mull those words. "Your words have merit," Morrison conceded. "I'm just not sure of having those areas under foreign control, even if it's well-meaning."

"You'd be given a proper share of the naqia and other resources. And I'd think that a new mining facility in the system would open things up for other ventures. Someone has to feed the miners and administrators, clothe and transport and entertain them."

Morrison nodded as Robert listed these thoughts. "Yes.... yes, there is opportunity here. Thank you, sir, I look forward to more business getting done."

On the Aurora, Farmer was standing with Barnes and Scotty. "Well, it's done," he said, looking around at their handiwork.

"Aye, it is," Scotty agreed. "What do ye think, Mister Barnes? Should we show it tae them?"

"Tomorrow, definitely," Barnes agreed. "Jarod should be back by then, and he deserves to be in on this as well."

The next day, Robert and Julia were smiling in contentment as Morgan finalized the compromise between the Sol Republic and the Colonies. He gave them an appreciative look; Kardai and Ledosh both showed their own indications that they knew what had happened.

The discussion continued with the parties discussing various particulars. The agreement over Abdis did not prevent Morrison and Sriroj from pecking at each other on other issues, but this remained a minor distraction at most.

When the meeting concluded, Morgan stepped up to them. "I hear you two did some very excellent backroom negotiating," he remarked with humor. "Perhaps you're better politicians than you imagined."

"I'll leave the politics to people like you, if I can," Robert lamented. "I'm honestly starting to miss having Klingons trying to blow me to bits."

At that, Morgan laughed and excused himself. As he stepped away, tones sounded on the wrist units of both Robert and Julia. They each found the same message waiting for them.

It's done.

The runabout Yalu settled into the dock arranged for her beside the Park. When the lock into the craft opened, Jarod emerged with a pack slung over his shoulder. Lucy was waiting for him. "How did it go?", Lucy asked.

"The Centre's hit at least two more of my safehouses," he answered, a bit of a smirk coming to his face. "My sudden disappearance must have Raines and Lyle going crazy."

"Tough for them," Lucy chuckled. "So, want to see it?"

"See what?

"The Aurora's bridge." Lucy smiled widely. "It's finished!"

The turbolift door opened, much to the excitement of those packed within. Jarod and Lucy had squeezed into the spaces around Robert, Julia, and Caterina. When they stepped out, a second lift on the other side stopped and opened, permitting Angel, Leo, Zack, and Locarno to emerge. Both groups moved to meet up, the group on the starboard side missing the door to the ship's main conference room.

Scotty and Barnes were waiting for them. "Welcome to the bridge!", Barnes declared happily.

It was roomier than the bridges on the other ships, that was certain. The rear display screen showed a large deck plan of the Aurora with an accompany LCARS-style control below it. In front of this was a seat and a station labeled tactical. Ahead of tactical was a trio of chairs, the outer ones having small holo-tank devices for control and displays, while the central chair had touch-use buttons for various functions. Ahead of them were two stations side by side, forming a double L shape with the bottoms of the Ls touching and the tops curving slightly inward. To either side were more stations set into the wall while facing forward and toward the inner angle so that those manning them could face the rest of the crew and the viewscreen; the starboard side ones were labeled "Communications" and "Secondary Tactical" while on the port they found "Sensors" and "Engineering Control". Behind these twin sets and on the outer edges of the deck plan screen were further stations labeled "Auxiliary".

"Wow," Caterina said. "This is so awesome!" She ran over to the Sensors station and sat down, looking at the controls.

Angel slipped into the seat behind the central chairs, the Tactical station. Bit by bit everyone found a station to sit in. Locarno got into the helm seat, the starboard of the two front L consoles, with Jarod sitting beside him at Ops. Barnes sat at Engineering. Zack found a seat at Secondary Tactical. This left Robert, Julia, and Leo for the middle seats. Robert and Julia each looked to the middle chair after which Julia slipped into the starboard chair. Robert tentatively, cautiously, sat in the mid and Leo to his left. He looked around. "So this is it?"

"Well, most systems still aren't installed," Barnes pointed out. "but yeah.... this is it. Cool huh?"

"Very," Robert murmured in amazement, settling into the command chair. "And I can't wait until she flies for real."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

Post Reply