"Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-08-29 10:20am

The Koenig had crossed the border into hostile territory and was coming up on the scan point. Zack kept glancing toward Lucy and Magda, waiting to see if they saw anything.

"I'm beginning the scan." Caterina leaned over her console. "We should have a fix soon."

"Any ships on sensors?"

"We've got at least three warp signatures on long-range sensors," Magda stated. "With two possible signatures. All are consistent with anti-matter pulse drives."

"Keep an eye on them all."

"Okay, scan complete." Caterina's voice picked up from excitement. "I'm checking with the other scans. This should narrow down the search field."

"Put it up on the main viewer, Cat." Zack saw the image appear; a cube of space with Koenig in the middle. It rotated around, showing the signatures Magda had spoken of.

A blue sphere appeared in the map, not centered on it but still contained within. "Okay, our initial long-range scans indicated this area." Caterina continued to operate the console. "We're getting these returns now."

The sphere shrunk down greatly. Where it had previously contained half a dozen systems it now held only two. "I'm bringing up information on S4W8-29DR and S4W8-33LA."

"Two systems is at least narrowed down quite a bit."

"Yes, but depending on interference, it could take us hours, even days, to thoroughly scan either." Caterina remained fixed on her results. "But we know the Darglan would put a Facility on a world that could bear life. We can use that to narrow it down."

"Unless neither system has a garden world," Zack pointed out.

"Well, yeah..." Caterina sighed. "Then we've got a long... aha!"

"Good news?"

"33LA has a garden moon."

"Well there we are." Zack smiled thinly. The sooner they found this place the better. "Apley, set our course, best speed. Magda, send an update to Aurora."

"Yes sir."

A lone engineering crewman walked down one of the corridors in the aft section of the Koenig and spotted, to him, the peculiarity of a Dorei security officer. "Sir?" The young light-skinned Human stepped up to him. "Can I help you?"

The officer turned from where he had been examining a console. "No, Crewman, you cannot."

"We normally don't get security in this area, there are no living quarters, so I was just..."

"...doing your job. Yes. Don't worry yourself, crewman, I'm just doing an inspection of ship's systems. You may resume your work."

The crewman nodded and went to the accessway where he would be doing standard in-flight maintenance checks..

The door was marked "Cloaking Device".

Julia arrived in Draynal's quarters to discover it crawling with security guards. Meridina was busy speaking to Commander Kane. "...dangerous than anything you've seen yet," she was busy saying. "Make sure your subordinates are prepared."

"Yes ma'am. We'll break out the DEWs, wide beams and pulse settings. If this thing is hiding, we'll find it."

"Report contact immediately. And never let one of your people out of your sight."

Kane nodded and left, saluting to Julia as he went. She nodded at him and moved on to Meridina. "What's wrong? Where's Lieutenant Draynal?"

"Draynal is dead," Meridina informed her. "Murdered months ago on Deep Space Nine and replaced by a shapeshifter. A Dominion Founder."

Julia gasped in shock and dismay. "Have we found it? Can we find it?"

"I am not sure, it was fooling our internal sensors this entire time."


Julia noticed Jarod was in the room as well, sitting at a computer terminal. She went over with Meridina to speak with him. "Jarod? What is it?"

Jarod pointed to the workstation. "He left in a bit of a hurry, or he didn't care for scrubbing the ways he had been using his intrusive program. I've got several access attempts for the control systems of the IU drive on this log, as well as a number of access logs for... just about everything. Security, Main Engineering, the Bridge, the Conference Room, every vital area is covered by this. He knows everything we plan."

"He's got all sorts of sensitive material then," Julia pointed out.

"Yes. And it gets worse. His last commands into the system were a general signal to something in the engineering hull and a set of orders." Jarod zoomed in on the latter.

Julia read them and her eyes widened. "He has my signature code!"

"He probably has everyone's," Jarod pointed out. "Nobody warned Zack about him so Zack wouldn't have questioned these orders. He wouldn't have a reason to."

"So he's on the Koenig." Julia reached over and pressed her multidevice. "Andreys to Bridge. Get a priority message to Koenig, they have a Changeling infiltrator aboard! Repeat, there is a Changeling infiltrator aboard Koenig!"

Julia's report made Robert cringe inwardly. I made the wrong call he thought to himself. "Hail Koenig," he ordered. "Give them the abort code. We are aborting the mission!"

At Ops Lieuenant Jupap swiftly enacted his order. The Alakin male made a worried clicking noise from inside his beak after several key presses, and seconds, passed. "Sir, we're not receiving any response from Koenig."

Dread filled Robert. "Send the emergency code, make sure they know it's a priority transmission."

The Alakin quickly typed in the commands. "Still no response."

"Run a full diagnostic on communications, make sure we're transmitting and receiving properly," Robert insisted.

"Communications is functioning completely, sir. It must be on their end."

"When did they last update?"

"Just a little while ago, sir. They're on course to System LA33."

"Plot a course then, maximum warp. We have to get to them."

Locarno turned back. "Sir, if we go in the Reich ships will detect us coming."

"I know," Robert said. "But we need to get into sublight communication range with the Koenig and hope the Changeling didn't knock that out too."

"Sir, all you'll do is ruin any chance we have of making this work."

"I know that, dammit!" Robert was surprised with himself at how loud he shouted. "But I'm not going to sit back and do nothing when that thing could be murdering my friends right now! We have to go rescue them."

"With all due respect, sir..."

"You got your orders, Lieutenant," Angel chimed in from Tactical, her eyes narrowing. "Get to them."

Locarno's jaw clenched. Before he could say anything Julia stepped out of the turbolift. Seeing the scene before her Julia crossed her arms and asked, "What's going on here?"

"Lieutenant Locarno was..." Robert let the sentence trail off.

Locarno picked up on that. "I was recommending that instead of opening violating Nazi space and starting a war, we could try to get a long-range probe into sublight communications range."

Robert swallowed. He hadn't thought of that.

Julia looked between them, noticed the tense look on Angel, and smiled thinly. "A great idea, Lieutenant. Can the probe hit a high enough speed?"

Lieutenant Al-Rashad at Science spoke up. "Yes, Commander. We have four probes capable of sustained Warp 9 flight."

"Have them loaded and launched," Robert said, looking at Julia. He could see she knew what had happened, and it made his cheeks burn with embarrassment. I was screwing up there. Dammit, why didn't I think of the probes? "How is the investigation into the computer problem going?"

"Slow. Jarod has crew checking out the plasma conduits for the warp nacelles, he found indications the Changeling hid sabotage charges for when we tried to go to warp again." Julia frowned. "This thing compromised all of our secure areas, it knew what we were going after."

"So how's it going to get away?", Robert wondered aloud. Another thought made the burn in his cheeks grow. "So, if I had ordered us to warp..."

"It would have blown up our warp drive."

"Oh." Robert lowered his voice to a whisper. "Remind me to thank Locarno later."

"Will do," she whispered back.

Koenig made orbit over the garden moon in system LA33. The gas giant it was orbiting was made of hues of red and orange, a contrast to the blue and green of the moon itself. "Atmosphere is breathable," Caterina said. "23% oxygen count, no poisonous gases."

"So we can beam down without breather gear. That's a relief," Lucy said.

"Do we have a spot to beam down to, Cat?", asked Zack.

"I'm running another scan to get a better fix... I think I have it." Caterina blinked. "Yeah, I think so." She hit a couple keys to route the image to the viewscreen.

It was a clearing, about twenty square kilometers, in the middle of a temperate forest. In the middle of the clearing was a hill.

"Another mound," Zack said. "That's got to be it."

"That was my thought. I can't pinpoint anything exactly, but this is near the middle of the effect field." Cat hit a couple of keys and brought up a circle on the shot. "It's somewhere under this area."

Zack pressed the intercom key on his chair. "Security and analysis teams to the transporter, now. Lieutenant Draynal, establish the quarantine drive on the computers." With Lucy and Tom already rising, Zack turned his chair to face Caterina. "Cat, do you think the Ratzis can see this...?"

"I can't be sure," she answered. "From what I could see, their sensors don't have the same capabilities as our's, but they might have better sensors on other ships. And it also comes down to sensor operator and whether they're interested in it."

"So we can't be sure they're not seeing this. Terrific." He nodded. "Alright, head on down with the others."

Caterina nodded and went out the side door of the bridge.

The mound looked to be at least sixty feet high when Lucy and the others materialized. Caterina's equipment was now equally shared amongst everyone. She held up the one box she was still carrying. "This moon is at .95Gs, just like our gravity field on the ship."

"Great, I always hate how going planetside makes me feel like I've gained weight," Barnes remarked, heading up to the mound alongside the small engineering detachment he'd brought from the Aurora.

"Well, technically, you do gain weight when you go into a higher gravity field. It's your mass that doesn't change." Caterina hefted the container a few times.

They began scaling the mound. The yellow star of the system warmed them all on what appeared to be a sunny spring day for this region of the moon. Lucy asked, "How does a garden moon have gravity that close to Earth's anyhow?"

"Oh, plenty of possibilities. Most likely denser materials composition. The moon's mass is greater than what it would be if it had Earth's composition."

"But it still has a breathable atmosphere."

Caterina shrugged. "Yeah. But it can happen. It has happened. I'd need a lot more data to figure out how though."

"Not exactly in our mission parameters, Cat," Barnes reminded her.

That caused Caterina to sigh. "Yeah, I know."

Lucy hid a grin. The fact that Caterina was not employing the Pout said something about how far she had matured lately. As they got to the top of the mound Lucy remarked, "You seem rather accepting of that. Didn't you pout more when you weren't allowed to go down and see the Stargate on Abdis R4A1?"

"Yeah. But..." She swallowed. "Facing that admiral, it made me think. If guys like that find out about me pouting or sometthing..."

"They won't take it well, yeah."

Nothing more was said until they were at the top of the mound. "What do we do know, sir?", one of the engineers asked Barnes.

"Hell if I know. We never did figure out how the mound back at the Facility turned on." Barnes raised his multidevice and checked the scan readings it was giving. "No sign of any control surface."

"It could be cloaked in some way," Caterina pointed out.

"How did you guys end up in the Facility anyway?", Lucy asked. "I heard Robert went in before you did."

"Yeah. And he found a way back out. We thought he was nuts until it snagged all of us." Barnes moved the device around, tapping keys. "Nothing on the exotic bands either."

"There's got to be some way," Caterina insisted. She began checking her own readings. "Maybe if we put the scanners up..."

Lucy watched them work and took in a breath. Her thoughts were on the extraordinary things she'd done in the prior year. Flying a runabout to a landing her instruments decreed impossible, pulling a gun out of someone's hand... maybe this would count too?

She suddenly wished she'd asked Meridina about what she'd done with the gun.

"....vated it somehow." Lucy found her atention drawn to a discussion between Caterina and Barnes. "He was kneeling down, right?"

"What, you think it was some switch in the mound? But we're not picking up anything," Barnes replied.

"Yes, but we're using standard scanning. Here, let me try something." Caterina held up a scanning device from her pack and ran it over the mound. "This is one of the surviving scanners from the Facility. I've only used it for standard stuff, but maybe..." It beeped and Caterina let out a triumphant cheer. "Here!" She ran over to a part of the mound near the drop and dropped to her knees. Everyone came after her and looked down as she cleared the grass at the top. "It is cloaked, but the Darglan scanner says there's a plate of some sort embedded in the mound."

"So how do we activate it?"

Caterina pressed her hand against it. Nothing happened. She stood and put her foot on it. "Here. Polenko!"

Polenko, one of her warrant officers, stepped over, a beefy Russian of about six feet three inches height. He put a foot on it. "Sorry Lieutenant," he said. "It's not working for me either."

"Well this is just great," Barnes grumbled.

Lucy stepped up to it. She had a sense that she could make it work. "Let me try."

'You're a lot lighter than Polenko, Lucy...."

"I don't think weight has anything to do with it," Lucy answered. "It's something else. Maybe it's why the thing on the farm mound back in Kansas never worked until Rob touched it." She brought her foot over and pressed it on the ground.

"Well, if it's not weight, what could it be?" Barnes threw his arms up in frustration. "This is really..."

Lucy shifted her position over the plate. "I think I've almost..."

Light erupted from the base of the mound, creating a ring around them. Each felt the familiar sensation of a transporter effect and found themelves under ground. For Barnes and Caterina, the gray chamber they materialized in was very familiar. "Looks like the one we found," Caterina said quietly. "Or rather the one Robert found."

Barnes stepped up to the door. A pair of green lights converged over him from a module above the door, making beeping and chirping noises as they did so. A light above the door went yellow. Barnes took a step forward but the door did not open.

"Guess it doesn't like you." Caterina tried the same, but it rejected her as well.

Feeling the hairs on her neck standing up, Lucy said, "Let me try" and stepped up to be scanners. When the green light finished sweeping over her there was a tone and the light above the door turned blue instead. "I think that did it," she said, walking up to the door.

It slid open.

"So it only opens for you and Rob," Barnes noted as they entered.

As lights came on around them, Caterina murmured, "I don't think this is another Facility."

Instead of the catwalks and pathways they'd expected they walked into a large chamber. "It looks Darglan," Barnes remarked. He walked toward the center of the chamber and was the first to arrive at a circular control station. He tapped keys on one end of it, but nothing happened.

As Lucy approached the station lit up. Lights overhead came on and they could see the full chamber now, lined with even more data stations. "Aterran genetic signature detected. Systems online."

"It's... are you another Control?", Caterina asked urgently.

"Negative. System is not designed to be a Control. System exists for sorting of data and proper recovery only."

Lucy could literally feel Caterina's mix of relief and sadness.

Barnes pressed the comm key on his multidevice. "Barnes to Koenig. We're inside, but it's some sort of data center, not a Facility. There's no docks for you to jump into. We'll set up enhancers so you can beam us in and out as needed."

"Alright. Keep me posted," Zack replied over the comm.

Barnes motioned to his engineers, who followed him to the side to begin setting up the transport signal enhancers.

Caterina pressed a hand to a control panel, switching all of them into English. Above their heads a massive holographic starmap descended. "It's showing the Alpha Quadrant of this universe," Cat explained. "I think... I think it can show them all." She raised her head. "Computer, please describe the nature of this place."

"This is a Class A Data Backup Facility. The purpose of the facility is to maintain off-site backups of Darglan databases. It has been offline for approximately twenty-three hundred and ninety seven point six solar cycles."

Caterina gasped. "Almost three thousand years?"

"Um, ma'am?" One of the science crew looked up. "Didn't that thing just say twenty three hundred?"

"Almost twenty-four," Caterina corrected. "But that's because it's going by Darglan solar cycles. The Darglan year is a quarter longer than Earth's." She brought up another display. "Does this data include the locations of other Emergency Facilities?"

"Only the one for this universe. Other Facility locations are kept only on Pasanan."

"The Darglan Homeworld," Caterina sighed. It had been too much to ask for, but she had to try. "Okay, Computer, be ready to begin data transfer."

"Darglan technology detected. Aterran geneic signature detected. Permission granted. Preparing for transfer of archive and backup data."

"There we go," Caterina said, pressing keys on the controls to begin the transfer.

"Data transfer enabled."

"Now if only I could look through some of this data now..."

"Business first, Cat," Lucy reminded her.

"Oh, yes." Caterina brought up her multidevice and nodded to her assistants. They lowered packs to the ground. "We'll use these as a quarantine, just to make sure no harmful code goes on to Koenig." She looked back to the controls of her multidevice. "I'm patching a data stream through my system now. Begin download of data."

An indicator appeared on the screen of her multidevice as the computer core data flowed through it and into the waiting drives, from which they could be uploaded to the Koenig. "This is going to take a while," she said.

"How long?", Lucy asked, looking around.

"At least six hours, and that's just the newer universe list and associated cartography. There's a ton of data in here that has to be moved." Caterina pressed a key and brought up a schematic. "They even have designs for newer reactors and a more efficient IU drive."

"Encrypt it," Lucy urged her. "Heavily."

"Uh... okay." Caterina looked at her. "Are you okay?"

"Something's wrong," Lucy answered.

"Oh? What?"

"I'm not sure. But I know something's wrong. It... it just doesn't feel right."

In the transporter room on Koenig, the operator saw the board light up with the connection to the enhancers. "We have the link to the enhancers," she said aloud. "Preparing to transport second teams."

Amongst the waiting officers, Lieutenant Draynal stepped up to the transporter pad, taking a place in the rear. While others stepped up, he set his hands behind his back and put an appendage against the multidevice on his right forearm. He pressed the transmit key when the operator said, "Transporting now." A faint smile crossed his face as the transporter beam whisked him away.

Six figures appeared inside the hexagon of transport enhancers Barnes' crew had set up near the entrance to the facility. "Okay everyone," Barnes began to say. "I need...."

"Threat detected. Threat detected."

Alarms began blaring in the structure. Yellow beams of light appeared from the ceiling and centered toward the rear, where Lieutenant Draynal stood quietly.

"Verified signature. Universe S5T3 Shapeshifting Being, Dominion Founder. Locking down all data systems."

For a moment there was simple confusion and chaos, some looking toward "Draynal", Caterina checking the now blank data transfer screens.

Lucy had already drawn her pistol, but she was the only one to do so before the Changeling struck. The humanoid form melted into amber liquid. Trendrils lashed out and took enough solidity to strike the heads of the other officers who transported down. Blue bolts came from Lucy's pistol, but they missed as the Changeling zipped along, a fast ooze that slammed into Barnes as he went for his pistol.

The security team went for their rifles and began firing, driving the Changeling into the corner. It vanished into the shadows.

"Lucero to Koenig!" Lucy got on her communications. "One of the officers you just beamed down is some kind of shapeshifter! We need help!"

Zack had slipped into his office for a cup of coffee when he felt the rumble through the ship, followed by a second one a moment later. Immediately he knew something was wrong and was at the door in seconds. "Report!"

"There were explosions on Decks 2 and 3," Magda answered. "It took out the power conduits feeding the cloaking device and the warp nacelles."

The single word that went through Zack's head was "Dammit!"

But he kept himself from saying that. "Set the ship alert to Code Yellow. And get me the Aurora."

Yellow running lights appeared on panels around the bridge. Magda went to work on her console. After a couple of long, deep response sounds came she shook her head. "Something's wrong with long-range communications. I'm not getting a response from the..." She stared at her screen. "Oh no."


"Something triggered a lockout in long-range communications, I can't send any hails. But the system is transmitting anyway!"

Zack felt his heart speed up and his stomach churn. "We're transmitting live? Openly? It's not a directional beam transmission?"

"No sir. It's a general one." Magda drew in a breath. "One of the contacts on long range sensros just changed direction. They're on course to our position."

Oh no. Oh crap. They saw us. They know something is here. "Bridge to Engineering, we need the cloak back, and we need it now!"

"The entire conduit is blown out, Commander, it's going to take hours to install a new one.", Derbely answered. "And the explosion damaged the bracings on both nacelles, we're going to need at least ten hours to safely go to warp."

Zack swallowed. We can't run and we can't hide. "ETA to the contact?", he asked.

Magda shook her head. "They just hit Warp 9. Twenty-six minutes at best."

Frustrated and angry at what was going on with his ship, he bellowed, "What the hell happened?!"

"Sabotage," Apley answered.

"I can confirm that," Magda said. "Someone uploaded a jammer program into our communications system. It's locked up long-range communications, we could be getting signals every second and the board wouldn't show it."

"Sherlily, weapons?"

April Sherlily checked her board and nodded. "Weapon systems showing no problems."

"Then we have less than half an hour to solve this." Zack looked to Magda. "Beam the explosives down. Tell them to get what they can and prepare for beamup in twenty minutes. We're going to have to blow that place sky high." He stood up and put his hand on Apley's shoulder. "Ap, go get security, I want the entire ship searched."

Barnes picked himself off the ground while some of the science officers went for the fallen officers. Most were breathing, but an Alakin did not move. "Crushed her skull in," Barnes muttered, looking at his display. "Just like that. Just what the hell is that thing?!"

"A Changeling," Caterina whimpered. "It's... it's one of the Dominion Founders. I... I read the report... oh God, I'm going to..."

"Cat! Focus!"

"Nobody into the shadows!", Barnes shouted. "Keep sight at all times, it could replace any one of us!"

A tone came to Caterina's multidevice. She tapped a button and Magda appeared as a holo-image. "We're preparing to beam down explosives, Commander Carrey wants them set in twenty minutes so we can beam you out."

"What?" Caterina stared at the image of Magda on her multidevice. "Twenty minutes?! We can't get anything in that amount of time!"

"I'm sorry, but it has to be that long. We've got a Nazi ship bearing down on us within half an hour. And we have no warp drive or cloak."

Caterina's eyes widened. "What's going on up there?"


"We've got our own problems," Lucy said. "You beamed a Changeling down here."

"So where is it?!", one of the security officers demanded. "I've got nothing on my sensors!"

"We can't set explosives effectively if we can't go around the structure," an engineer pointed out.

"And that thing can pick people off if you do," Barnes countered. "We need another option."

Having overheard all of this, Magda go back over the comm. "We're sending down another security team. Standby..."

A moment later, columns of energy coalesced inside the enhancers.

The Changeling struck like lightning. It fell from the ceiling in the form of a four-legged, two-armed beast, all claws and fangs with a mottled blue look to is flesh. It hit one enhancer with the full force of its mass and knocked it out of place.

The enhancement field collapsed.

Barnes was already shouting into his own multidevice. "Cancel the transport! Cancel!"

But the figures didn't simply disappear like a canceled transporter beam. They flickered, coalescing just long enough for six stunned faces to form through the light.

And then the light beams fell apart and there was nothing.

Energy fire coalesced on the Changeling, but it was already shifting shape again, squatting low as a four legged creature that zipped across the distance. One of their security officers screamed as a metal blade plunged into his belly and came back out. It made a mighty leap afterward and slammed into another, knocking her over and leaving multiple wounds in her torso. Tendrils with blades attached lashed out and sliced into the shoulder of one officer and the throat of the next.

In less than ten seconds, the Changeling had wiped out their security detachment.

The engineers had found their defensive sidearms now, but their aim was off; the terror of this killer in their midst was too great. It went after Caterina, who was fumbling for her own sidearm. She let out a scream as it lunged for her with a mass of blades.
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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-08-30 02:25pm

On the bridge of the Aurora, Jupap's voice ended the uncomfortable quiet. "We've just picked up a transmission from the Koenig, Captain. It's... just general identification data?"

Robet and Julia exchanged worried looks. "That's it?" Julia's face showed she had just considered something further. "Was it a narrow-beam transmission?"

"No," Jupap confirmed.

"Status of those Nazi ships, Lieutenant?", Robert asked al-Rashad.

"They're all on course to System LA33, sir," al-Rashad replied.

Robert felt his heart stop. I should have aborted the moment we found that virus. Oh God, what have I done?

Julia got to the comms before he did. "Commander Meridina, status of the sabotage charges?"

"We have removed two. Three more must be removed before we can go to warp."

"Can they go any faster? Koenig has been compromised and there are Reich ships imbound to their position."

"Not safely, Commander. These were carefully planted and must be removed delicately."

Julia nodded. "I understand. Bridge out." She tapped the comm button on her chair again.

"I...." Robert fought through his panic and found his voice. "I have to go inform Admiral Maran. Jupap, status of the probe?"

"It is ten minutes out from LA33," the Alakin answered.

"As soon as it arrives, use it to contact Koenig. Make sure they know what's going on and let them know we're coming as quickly as we can." Robert stood up and went to his office. "And get me Harris Station on subspace."

Lucy had intended to go for her sidearm as well, out of pure reflex. But she stopped. Something inside of her, some deep feeling that was more than instinct, told her that she'd never beat this thing with a gun. It was too fast, too mobile, and too clever. She needed another approach.

She remembered the hostage situation with the killer Lyle when he tried to take Jarod. She could remember that feeling as she reached out with... something... and pulled the gun from his hand. Could she do that again? The energy difference, the mass to be effected... it seemed too great a gap to cover.

But she had to try.

That thought flashed through her head as the Changeling charged on Caterina, the blades emerging from its form threatening to cut her apart. Lucy forced a breath in and remembered that invisible force inside of her she had called upon. She called upon it, pleaded with it, insisted on it coming forth. She needed it.

And she felt it.

Before she hadn't, but now she felt... something. A well of energy within her being, a power that felt warm and natural to her, like it had always been there, ready to be used and never called upon. But she needed it not and it was ready.

With every fiber of her being, Lucy pushed her open palm forward and threw the energy outward.

There was no flash of light, no visible burst of energy. There was just the energy within her rushing out, not just from her arm but her mind and soul.

To everyone else, it looked like the Changeling had been struck by a truck. An invisible one at that. The mostly amorphous mass of amber and its glittering silver blade appendages flew violently to one side, slamming into the wall of the facility with enough force that the entire thing slurped into a puddle.

"Holy crap." Barnes' voice was hoarse with shock. "Jesus, Lucy, how the Hell did you do that?!"

Lucy sucked in breath. "I... I just... it's..."

"Carrey to away team!" Zack's voice echoed over their multi-devices. "Status!"

"Security team's down, at least three dead," Barnes replied. "That thing is still around, and we can't set explosives without risking it picking us off. There's just not enough time!"

"Well, think of something! You've got ten minutes before I'm up to my neck in Nazis!"

Caterina picked herself up and went back to the controls. "System, please respond!"

Lucy joined her, hitting one control. "Listen, if you unlocked for me, do so again!"

The systems came back online. "Warning. Dominion Founder present. Cannot restore control access without override."

"Then you've got the override," Lucy replied. "Do you have any provisions for self-destruction?"

"The dimensionally-transcedental field can be disabled."

Lucy pressed the comm key on her multidevice. "Zack, how long until we have those visitors?"

"Seven minutes."

"System, do you understand our time units?"

"They are comprehended, yes."

"Then set the dimensional-transcadental field to collapse in eight min..."

Lucy felt deep forboding and danger. The energy she'd begun to feel within tingled and wavered, spurring her to move. She looked up and raised her arm, directing the energy above her.

The Changeling was caught in mid-air, in the form of the same vicious predator as before. The blast of energy that Lucy felt come from within her sent it flying back toward the shadows. The moment it landed the engineers began peppering it with fire. Blue bolts coalesced on the form until it got back into the shadows, melting back into its natural state in the process.

Caterina was staring at Lucy in shock. "How did you do that?"

"I... I'm like Meridina now. I thin," Lucy explained. "Have you gotten that data?"

"Well, some, yeah. But twenty minutes isn't nearly enough to even load a...."

"Focus on the astrographical data, anything that will lead us to the other Facility that this location is supposed to support."

"Good idea." She went back to work.

Lucy turned to Barnes, who was already getting the enhancers back on. "Tom...?"

"We'll get the enhancers back up and evac the security guys," he answered.

"I need one of those explosive packs." Lucy looked to the pile and extended her hand. She felt the energy within her stir and saw one begin to wiggle. She focused, straining to control it....

She felt the Changeling coming even earlier this time. Her focus dispersed shifted direction, creating a general wave of force that pulled the satchel along and slammed it into the middle of the Changeling's mass as it surged toward Barnes. It slurped it up. "Get one of the packs!", she shouted. "And get those drives beamed up."

"Five minutes until we're up to our necks in Nazis!," Zack's voice announced.

"System, drop dimensional field in five minutes!"

A scream came from Warrant Officer Polenko. He had been dutifully carrying one of the explosive packs to the door. But now the Changeling was surging through and around him. Blood erupted from wounds where it turned itself into blades to slice him. Caterina cried out "Polenko!" and sobbed as they watched the gentle giant get sliced to death.

But the Changeling was just killing him as an extra. It had been pursuing the explosive instead, grabbing it and slinging it to join the others. It surged over the pile and went beyond.

Each was now lit up.

"Everyone take cover!", Barnes shouted, leaping and pulling one of the engineers down.

It wouldn't be enough. Lucy knew those packs would probably vaporize anyone caught in the open explosion. "Koenig, target whatever is in the enhancers and beam into space!" She called upon the energy that was stirring inside her, growing stronger through use, and pressed it against the pile, pulling them over into the midst of the enhancers. White light whisked them away.

"Now what are we going to do?", Barnes asked. "Even if the DT field collapses, the structure remains and the Ratzis might find somehing."

Lucy had already thought of it, but didn't want to say anything. "Get the drives beamed up. Cat, do you have the data?!"

"Most of it!", Caterina answered. "Bu there's just so much stuff here we could..."

"Forget it!" Lucy took her by the shoulder. "Get into the enhancers, now! Take a full drive with you!"

"B-but.... why?"

"Because your sister will murder me if I let you get blown up," Lucy pointed out, pushing her on. "Now go."

On the Koenig Zack was literally sweating the minutes away. "Three minutes until contact drops out of warp," Magda said. "Going by the profile it looks like a light warship, Z-2500-class."

"A destroyer then." Zack nodded. "We could probably take them."

"The second contact out is cruiser-sized, ETA five minutes. Profile matches..." Magda turned. "It's a Lutzow-class. A battlecruiser."

"And we probably can't take them." Zack felt his stomach twist. Warp out, cloak out, all we can do is run at sublight. "Are there any asteroid fields we can fit in?"

"None," Magda answered.

"Any luck getting signals out?"

"Long range communications are still jammed up. We have a crew trying to purge the jammer from the computers, but they're not done..." Magda's board made a tone. "Wait. We just picked up a sublight communication. It's... it's from Aurora!"

Zack let out a gasp of relief. "What? Put them on!"

"Audio only."

Robert's voice came over the speaker. "Aurora to Koenig. We're coming as soon as we can, but the Changeling planted charges on our warp drive and we're not able to go to warp yet. Hold out as long as you can."

"We've got a battle cruiser coming in, Rob, I'm not sure how long we can last," Zack pointed out.

"We'll be there as quickly as we can, I promise."

"One minute!", Magda warned.

"Koenig to ground party, we need you up in sixty seconds!", Zack shouted.

As soon as Zack said that, the Changeling charged again.

The last of the science and engineering team disappeared into white light, carrying the last drives with them save the ones in Barnes' hand. Lucy called on the energy inside her again, but this time the Changeling zipped around Barnes and she hit him too, knocking him flat. It twisted around his legs and there was an audible snap followed by a scream, hobbling Barnes.

A tendril struck out from the amber mass, going for the enhancers again. Lucy realized what this meant; it was trying to get to the transporters and to beam back to the Koenig. She couldn't let that happen, no matter what else came.

She pulled her pulse pistol and fired. Blue bolts of energy struck the devices and made them explode with sparks, their light gray surfaces turning black from each shot. The Changeling recoiled and quivered from the result. "Take the transporter back up!", Lucy shouted to Barnes, motioning toward the door.

He struggled to his feet but stumbled forward again with a growl of pain. "Dammit! My leg! I think he broke it!"

"Thirty seconds!", Zack cried over their multidevices.

Lucy ran toward him, beating the Changeling by a few seconds; more than enough time to rally the energy she felt within her and blast the creature with it again. It was thrown back, giving her room to scoop up Barnes and put his right arm over her shoulder so he could support his injured leg. "Come on!" She pulled him along to the opening of the data facility.

The door opened for them and they went through. Something snagged Lucy's ankle and she looked back to see the Changeling forming an appendage, trying to pull her back in. "Let go!", she cried out in frustration, kicking at the amber tentacle gripping her left ankle. But it was like trying to stomp play-do; it just absorbed every blow. Beyond the door the rest of its mass came up.

"Ten seconds!"

Lucy reached into the power she was feeling inside and pushed with it, with all of her might, making a push motion with her free hand. The Changeling's main mass took the hit and flew backward.

But it still held on.

On the bridge of the Koenig Zack saw the Nazi destroyer decelerate from warp. It was a more compact vessel, a dagger-blade with twin nacelles built into the rear section that were only slightly angled upward. The peculiar sight of the nacelle ramscoops being blue and the nacelle field generators red stook out as starkly as the swastika emblem emblazoned on the ship's forward hull. "Reich vessel hailing," Magda said. "I have them on sublight audio."

"Time to weapons range?"

"Entering range now." Magda looked back. "We need to raise shields."

That would leave Tom and Lucy trapped. They'd get captured. I'm not leaving them to whatever Nazis might do! Zack pressed down on his intercom key. "Transporters, do we have transporter lock on the last of the ground team?"

"No. We've lost the enhancers."

Zack swallowed. Over his speakers a voice spoke with the hint of machine translation. "Alliance Vessel Koenig, this is Fregattenkapitän Kaempfer of the Reich vessel Jaeke. You are in violation of Reich territory. Stand down and prepare for inspection and boarding."

"They're arming weapons," Magda warned. "They're trying to get a target lock!"

Lucy howled in anger and let loose with the energy within her again, but the Changeling wouldn't let go. "Let go of me!", she screamed.

Instead it drew ever closer.

Inside her, Lucy felt the energy shift. It became colder as her fear and anger built. She felt like she wanted to destroy the Changeling. Not just kill, but destroy. Tear apart. Annihilate. Punish this thing that was assailing her, that had killed her comrades and was trying to kill her! She wanted it to die and die and...! As these feelings washed over her the energy took form from her hand, crackling like lightning and covering the Changeling.

The sound of a pulse pistol echoed in the small chamber. Barnes had his pulse pistol up from where he was laying on the ground, blasting away as he did. At that range he couldn't miss. Blue bolts slammed into the offending tendril of the Changeling's mass repeatedly until an inhuman shriek came from within and the tendril turned black. Some of it disintegrated into black ash and the rest withdrew inside the doomed data chamber. The door slammed shut with finality.

Lucy watched it go and looked back to Barnes with a cold feeling inside of her. Barnes looked back at her and briefly looked concerned, even terrified, before shouting, "Come on!"

That snapped Lucy out of it. She pushed the coldness away and helped him back to his feet. They went up to the transporter and she slammed her hand on the blue control in the middle.

Just as the energy pulled them away, a horrible sound came from within the data facility, a sound of rushing air and a screech. The dimensional field within was shutting down, and the entire volume of the facility was being forcefully shrunk to the volume it took up in normal space.

With the Changeling inside.

Once they materialized on the mound tremors came from within. The process of eliminating the data facility seemed to extend to the mound. "Koenig, beam us up!", Barnes shouted. "Fire on our location!"

The mound collapsed beneath their feet. As they started to fall, the Koenig snatched them away with its transporter system.

"We have them aboard, Commander," the transporter chief said.

"Raise shields! Sherlily, are you ready to put torpedoes into that mound?", Zack asked.

"Shields up," Magda confirmed.

"I have a lock through the aft launcher, sir," she replied.

"Good. Now let's see if I can prevent us from having a shooting war. Hold fire until I say so" Zack drew in a breath and nodded to Magda, who hit a key and caused the familiar chirp of an opening comm channel. "Reich vessel Jaeke, this is Commander Zachary Carrey of the Koenig. We apologize for our violation of your space. We have suffered several system failures and are still trying to restore warp capability. As soon as we have it, we intend to withdraw."

The door at the rear of the bridge opened, admitting Lucy. "Tom is with the medics, the Changeling broke his leg."

"Are you sure he's...?"

"He was inside the data facility when it went crunch," Lucy said. She had just regained her breath, but that coldness she'd felt was still fresh to her. There was something terrifying about it. "If you want to make sure he's dead, a solar torpedo into the mound should do the job."

"Not until I deal with them," Zack said, pointing to the Reich ship.

"Alliance vessel, cut all engine power, lower your shields, and prepare for boarding. Do not resist or we wil open fire."

Zack swallowed and turned back to face Caterina. "Cat, any ideas?"

"I've got nothing," Caterina said from the rear status console. "I'm still trying to see if that thing left us any gifts in the computers."

Zack almost asked how many people they lost, since so many were from his crew. But he forced himself to concentrate on the situation in front of him.

And with it, the terrible knowledge that he might be the one starting a war.

"Koenig, you have ten seconds to comply. If you do not stand down you will be fired upon!"

On the bridge of the Aurora Robert was still managing to hold down lunch. Sensing his impatience, Julia was the one who hit the intercom. "Commander Meridina, status?!"

"We are removing the final charge now, Commander. Standby... standby...."

The bridge was tense as Meridina's words came through.

"....standby.... the charge is removed!"

"Mister Locarno, maximum warp, engage!", Robert shouted. Hitting his own intercom key, he called up Engineering. "Mister Scott, remember those warp records we set? We need to beat those."

"Aye sir, ye'll nae be let down."

By that point Locarno had finished double-checking the course and was hitting the warp key. In the space of a second Aurora was racing through the stars at a speed she had never matched before.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-08-31 11:16pm

The ten seconds ticked down slowly, an eternity between each. Zack watched the timer as he lost that precious time. His instincts demanded he attack first, that if he got the first shot he stood a better chance of winning.

But his heart reminded him that if he fired first, the war would be his fault.

It already is. You're here, in their territory, aren't you?

"Sir...." Apley was looking back from the helm.

"Reich warship is locking on," Magda warned. "Weapons powering up."

"I have a shot," Sherlily added.

"Sir, we need orders," Apley reminded him.

Zack ran his fingers on his temples. "Evasive maneuvers, Plan Indigo, Lieutenant."

The Koenig's impulse drives powered up in tandem with the maneuvering systems. As the ship made a twist and a turn, green energy streaked by it. The ship rocked slightly under them. "They've opened fire," Apley said.

"Shields still at ninety-eight percent, it was a glancing..." The ship rocked harder this time. "Now ninety-three percent."

"Sherlily, put a solar torpedo the location of that mound, now," Zack ordered. "I'm not going to have them find any trace of the Darglan technology."

"Yes sir." Sherlily hit a key. "Torpedo away.... impact. Complete destruction of the surrounding area."

The ship rocked hard again. "Anti-matter missiles acquiring," Magda warned. "Shields at eighty-six percent."

"Evasive Plan Charlie!" Zack looked back to Caterina. "C'mon, Cat, tell me you've got something we can try."

"I'm re-setting the navigational deflector to try and jam their missiles' targeting systems," Caterina said. "But I don't think it's going to work well."

"Every little bit we can get, Cat." Zack turned back to the screen and drew a breath. "Alright, they fired the first shot. April, full spread, hold nothing back! Apley, Attack Plan Bravo!"

At Apley's handling the Koenig made a spin in space, shifting up and down and over to make several disruptor bolts miss or barely graze the shields. Koenig turned to face her attacker. Her phasers blazed to life, thick amber pulses erupting from near her swept-forward nacelles and slamming into the destroyer's own deflectors. Solar torpedoes shined with the blue-white fields of their drives before they found their mark, slamming the enemy ship's shields.

"Direct hit," Sherlily said. "I'm maintaining fire. Enemy shields at seventy-five percent and going down."

The ship rocked hard under them, straining everyone against their harnesses. "Cat, I need something done with those missiles!", Zack said urgently.

"Shields holding at seventy percent." The Koenig rocked again as it came around, Apley trying to match the lithe Reich destroyer's movements to keep it in the crosshairs. "Sixty-six percent. Slight armor damage to Deck 2 port side."

"Firing," Sherlily said again. On the screen more phaser fire and torpedoes converged on the enemy ship. The pilot twisted to one side, forcing Apley to adjust, and half of the barrage and torpedoes missed. "Enemy shields at sixty percent."

"We've got an agility advantage, let's use it."

"Aye Commander!"

Under Apley's control the Koenig's maneuvering became more aggressive and agile. G-forces acted against the crew onboard as the inertial dampeners struggled to keep up from the ship's shifting and twisting and turning. With her superior agility and sublight speed Koenig could break off and make attack runs. After the ship shook again - "Shields down to sixty percent." - Apley pulled them up on the Reich destroyer and let Sherlily batter it with the Koenig's weapons. "Pass them. Attack Plan Whiskey on my mark," Zack ordered, keeping his excitement down. In his mind he visualized the maneuvering of both ships, the chance to get his main weapons to bear on weak enemy shields.

The Koenig let loose, pummeling the Reich destroyer repeatedly and degrading their shields. "They're shifting shields to the bow," Magda said.

"Good for them.... brace yourselves!"

Zack noticed the plumes of antimatter missiles erupting from the Reich ship as they made their pass. At this range there was no hope of evasion; an entire salvo pummeled the Koenig, making the ship rock violently. One of the secondary consoles sparked from feedback. "Shields down to forty percent!"


At Zack's order Apley executed a near-flawless turn, bringing the ship's bow to face the aft of the enemy ship. Sherlily had the phasers blazing and fired a full salvo of torpedoes into the Reich destroyer's aft. The ship's shields flickered as their command crew tried to re-direct power back to aft, but it came a split second too late. The phasers blasted through them and made them fail, with the final bursts of energy slamming into bare hull and sending flames and debris spiraling from the impact points.

Four solar torpedoes crashed into the ship's aft. One hit a nacelle and blew it apart; the other three struck various parts of its rear section. The entire Reich destroyer disappeared in a blast of bright white energy.

There were some cheers and joyous sighs, but Zack shook his head. He'd just destroyed a Nazi ship... in their own space. Even if they were bastard Nazis... he was the one who was killing them in their territory. If this became a war, it could end up being his fault.

"Damage report," he asked.

"Shields still at forty percent," Magda answered. "We took armor damage to Decks 1 and 2. Warp drive, cloaking device, and long range communications still offline."

"Time to that battle cruiser?"

"Two minutes. Wait, one minute, they just accelerated."

"Dammit," Zack muttered. "Cat, have any science stuff?"

"If we had time I'd say go for the third gas giant," Caterina replied. "We could mask our energy signature more easily."

"It'd take hours to get there at sublight," Apley pointed.

"Yeah, I know," Cat replied.

"Tell me you can get more jamming on their missiles, Cat," Zack asked.

"Well... I can try," she answered.

"Alright." Zack took a breath to steady his nerves. "Aurora is on our way, we just have to hold out as long as we can." He keyed the intercom. "Medbay, how is Lieutenant Barnes?"

"Tired of getting knocked around," Barnes retorted.

"Talking to the Doc, Tom."

"I mended his leg," Doctor Opani answered, her accent the lilting one of a Mayali Dorei. "He needs follow-up care, but given all of the shaking I'm guessing you need him on duty?"

"That I do, Doc. Tom, can you get me some shield power back?"

"Sure, I know some tricks. There's always some room to shore 'em up even if they've been strained."

"Get to it. Hostile coming in...." Zack almost asked when, but didn't have to. He looked on the screen as the bigger, nastier cousin of the destroyer they'd just vaporized dropped out of warp, bristling with torpedo and missile bays and disruptor cannon emplacements. "Evasive Plan Charlie, Ap, and get us close without going by those missile bays."

"Yes sir."

"Communication coming in," Magda said.

"Go ahead and put them on," Zack answered.

"Alliance warship, this is Kapitän Heydrich of the Scharnhorst. You are in violation of the territory of the Third Reich and have murdered the crew of a Reich vessel. Surrender your vessel immediately or it shall be destroyed or taken, and no mercy shall be shown."

Caterina let out a stifled whimper. Lucy eyed Zack. "They'll probably be worse than Duffy was," she remarked, reminding Zack that Lucy was no stranger to what ruthless men could do to those in their power.

"Yeah, but it might let us stall for time." Zack nodded to Magda. "Kapitän Heydrich, this is Commander Zachary Carrey of the Alliance starship Koenig. If you want someone for the deaths of that crew, I'll beam over and you can hold me, but I won't turn my crew over to you. Let them go with this ship."

"That is unacceptable." There was a sharp click.

"They're locking on!", Magda shouted.

"Evasives, Apley!"

Koenig began to maneuver just in time as emerald beams of disruptor energy lashed out at them. The Koenig drew close, phasers blazing and pounding the shields of the larger vessel. "Enemy shields holding, only down to 94%," Magda answered. "This ship is tougher than the cruiser we worked with in Krellan Nebula, it's got an armored hull backing up its shielding."

Zack watched another large blast of green energy go by the screen, one of many small and large bursts and beams trying to hit his ship. "We're just buying time for Aurora to get here. Put all power to engines and shields."

The ship lurched under them, showing that despite Apley's best piloting efforts they couldn't avoid every shot. "Some of those disruptor weapons are packing a punch," Magda warned.

"Make sure to keep away from those super-disruptors then, Ap,"

"Yes sir," Apley answered.

Under his control Koenig made a tight turn as it came out by the aft of the Scharnhorst, avoiding the aft disruptors as they did. Missiles flew out of their launch bay and started tracking to acquire.

"Cat, we could use..."

"I know." Caterina manipulated something on the control. "I'm sending out interference, but I can only spoof so many!"

The ship rocked violently as a missile found them, followed by a direct hit by a disruptor. "Shields down to twenty-six percent!", Magda warned. "Damage on Deck 2."

"Keep it up, Ap," Zack urged, watching Sherlilly take what shots she could. More torpedoes went out, slamming into shields. "Status on that battlecruiser, April?"

"Their shields are stiill holding at eighty percent." The Koenig shook again. "We're whittling them down but we haven't gotten the shields low enough to make a difference."

"We just have to keep ourselves in the game," Zack said.

The Koenig made another tight turn in space to resume a strafing run along the Nazi battlecruiser's belly. Phaser fire defiantly hammered at the big swastika insignia on the lower bow, held back by the cruiser's powerful shields. The ship twisted and weaved to avoid fire. Missiles pursuing it didn't always hit, missing thanks to Caterina's desperate jamming efforts or even slamming into the Scharnhorst's shields themselves.

It was a shark versus a whale; the whale was big, it could take hits, but it couldn't keep up with the shark.

Zack tried not to hope for too much. He wasn't out to take this ship down, just to survive long enough for the Aurora to get here so they could dock and get away from this mess of a mission.

Apley's job was harder, trying to not allow the missiles to hit them at launch but also to avoid getting too close to the big "super-disruptor" emplacements on the Reich battlecruiser. He did his job as well as he could... but found that one maneuver to avoid a torpedo put him in a position to have to risk either. Seeing the missiles launching he made a split second decision to risk the disruptor, trying to time it between shots. They came up on the weapon.

It fired.

The Koenig shook violently under them. Feedback from the battered shields caused Apley's station to explode in sparks, making him cry out from the burns that resulted. "Shields down below ten percent!", Magda shouted. "Damage on all decks, forward port sections!"

"I've lost the port phasers!", Sherlily added.

That news was bad enough. But there was worse.

For one pivotal moment, there was no helm control on Koenig.

Missiles fired from the battlecruiser converged, along with the other emplacements training on a ship that was not quite so hard to hit as it had been. Despite Caterina's efforts to deflect the missiles, two still went off close enough to do damage. More sparks showered from the Koenig's overloaded power systems.

Zack's spirits fell when Magda told him what he already knew.

"We've lost shields."

Zack nodded. "Apley, you good?"

"Yes sir," Apley answered. "Burns aren't that bad, I still have my fingers."

"Keep the evasives up. This ship was built to take punishment..." The ship rocked violently again as another disruptor slammed into their armored hull, vaporizing chunks off. "...and we'll have to see how much she takes."

Apley nodded. "Maintaining evasive pattern."

"Good. As long as we're shooting at them, they can't risk dropping shields to beam...."

"Sir, the third Reich ship is coming out of warp," Magda warned. "It's another Z-2500. They're en route to intercept us."

Zack settled his head against his hand, ignoring another jostle from a glancing hit. There's no way to win this. Dammit, Rob, where are you?! Zack fumed over that. Where were the others? Why hadn't they gotten here yet? Was there more sabotage? More problems?

They never should have launched the mission. They should have aborted, dammit, the moment those security problems were showing up. Why hadn't Robert done the smart thing!? Why had he gambled on their lives?!

Damn you, Rob was the thought that came to him, not as unbidden as it might have otherwise been.

"Maintain evasive maneuvers as well as you can," he said.

"I'm trying." On the screen the newly-arrived Reich destroyer moved in. They had a clear shot if they didn't mind hitting the Scharnhorst. And he figured they wouldn't.

That was it. He'd lost. There was nothing more he could do. Zack felt helpless, so utterly helpless...

...just as he had when he saw his father was dead.

Looks like I might join you, Dad. Hope wherever we are going has a bar for us to share that drink.


Magda's voice didn't immediately register with Zack so far into his thoughts, thinking about his father and all they hadn't done. It was only when she shouted his rank again that he looked over. "What?"

"New contact!" She looked at him and smiled as widely as he'd ever seen her do so. "The Aurora just warped in!"

Zack had to force the breath out of his lungs at hearing that, just to resume breathing.

Jarod had replaced Jupap at Ops. "The Koenig has lost shields and taken heavy damage."

"And it looks like we've got that battlecruiser's attention," Angel said from tactical. "They're locking weapons."

"Put me on, Jarod." Robert checked the seat harness. "This is Captain Robert Dale of the Alliance Starship Aurora. If you hold your fire, we'll hold our's. We only want to get our ship out of your terri..."

Thick beams of green energy lashed ou from the Nazi battlecruiser and hit Aurora's shields. "I think we have our answer," Julia noted drolly.

"They fired first." Robert sighed. The entire mission had gone to hell. "Lock weapons on both ships and fire."

The Aurora's forward weapons erupted in fire. Phaser fire and the thick blue pulses of the bow plasma cannons hammered at the Reich battlecruiser. A few shots were sent toward the enemy destroyer as well. Both ships turned to face them.

"Tell Zack to get docked ASAP."

"Sending the order."

More disruptor bolts crashed into them, although some missed due to Locarno's maneuvering. As missiles closed the distance the smallest emplacements on the hull fired out at them, destroying some before they could hit the shields. "Shields now at ninety-one percent."

"Status of their shields?", Robert asked Jarod.

"Down to sixty-five, I think. The destroyer's shields are holding at eighty."

Robert nodded. "Alright Zack, we've given you an opening, get over here so we can leave."

There was no premature celebration on Koenig's bridge. They weren't out of danger yet and everyone present knew this. "Head to the Aurora, full speed," Zack ordered. "Get ready for emergency combat docking."

"Aye sir." Apley's hands moved over the control panel.

Koenig broke away from the two ships. Suddenly the ship lurched underneath them. "The battlecruiser locked us in a tractor beam," Magda said.


"Yeah. Shoot it."

"I'm locking with the dorsal phaser array," Sherlily said. "Firing."

On Aurora the ship shook again as the full fury of the Scharnhorst rained on them. "Shields down to seventy-eight percent," Jarod warned. "The battlecruiser's shields are now at fifty percent."

"Keep it coming, Angel," Julia said.

Angel focused on her board. The bow cannons blazed as quickly as the systems allowed, pummeling the enemy ship over and over with their thick sapphire bursts. Phaser fire and torpedoes struck out, some hitting the incoming missiles on their way to impacting on the batlecruiser. Locarno twisted the Aurora and kept the bow pointed toward them, allowing Angel to get another shot from the main cannons. The bursts of sapphire energy slammed into tthe enemy shields again while missiles and disruptor fire made their ship shake. "Shields holding at seventy percent."

"Laurent's ready for launch," Julia reminded Robert.

He shook his head. "Then we'd have to take time recovering them. Hold off on that. Miss Al-Rashad, any sign of further contacts?"

"Just one on long range sensors, at least half an hour away at current warp velocity."

"We have some time, then," Julia mused.

"Still not enough. Angel...?"

"Throwing everything we have at it," she answered. "They're maneuvering, I think they're trying to keep us from hitting their tractor emitter."

"Stay with them Nick."

"Doing what I can," he answered.

On Koenig the ship was rattling as they strained against the enemy tractor beam. "Suggestions?", Zack said. "The phaser isn't doing it."

"There's not much we can do without Aurora's help," Magda pointed out. "With the engine damage we can't pull out fo the tractor."

"Okay, we can't. We improvise. Cat, tell me you have some sneaky technobabble?"

"I' already tried everything we can do on Koenig," Caterina answered.

"Anthing you could do on Aurora?"

"Afraid not. This is brute forced-tech, its not going to be easily broken from technical tricks."

"Come one, Cat, you're giving up on it?"

"Of course not", she angrily countered. "But I can only do so much with the equipment we have on this ship. I mean, this ship wasn't meant for flexibility, she was built to shoot things. All she's really got is good combat sensors to see things with, weapons to shoot them with, and the tractor beam in case it wants to tow something.... around...."

Caterina's expression shifted just as Zack's did, the two minds arriving at the same destination from different paths. "The tractor beam,", they said in unison.


"Magda, lock the tractor beam on their tractor beam," Zack ordered.

"Wait, what? But that will..."

"Ordinarily it wouldn't do much," Caterina agreed. "But I'm already altering the tractor emitter. Instead of a steady graviton stream, this will be a burst. It should go it like... like... something really dense smashing through something not as dense."

"Works for me," Zack said.

"That should do it... activate tractor beam now."

Magda didn't wait for Zack to follow up with a direct order. She triggered it.

The rear tractor emitter of the Koenig sent out a burst of blue energy that intersected the ribbon of red light holding Aurora in place. The enemy tractor beam failed and Koenig, freed from her fight with it, shot forward like a rocket, aimed right at the Aurora.

The ship shuddered violently under them. "They're targeting our impulsors," Magda warned. "Glancing hit on starboard impulsor housing. We're losing some power."

"Evasive pattern, Apley, but get us to Aurora!"

The Koenig shot free after the Nazi battlecruiser's tractor beam failed. As they raced forward, the enemy destroyer loomed up behind them, pouring disruptor fire into their rear. "Clever, they modified their tractor beam," Jarod remarked.

"Angel, get that destroyer off of them!"

Angel nodded and directed the awesome forward firepower of her ship on the Nazi destroyer.

The bols of sapphire energy enveloped the small vessel. Its shields failed and flame erupted as the entire ship's bow came apart. It exploded in a fiery blaze when the barrage didn't cease.

The battlecruiser started focusing fire on the Koenig as well, now on their port side due to maneuvering. "Extend the shields," Julia ordered.

"Doing so." The ship started to shake. "Shield effectiveness is going down, we're at just fifty-two percent now."

Robert nodded. "Broadside fire, Angel."

The phaser arrays and quad-cannon emitters on the port lashed out at the enemy ship, striking its shields and intercepting the Nazi missiles before they could hit Koenig. "They're on docking approach."

"Open the doors, Jarod. All hands, brace for Emergency Combat Docking."

Apley swung Koenig up around the Aurora's nacelle, shifting the inertia of the ship through subspace to avoid overshooting on their course. Zack watched quietly and with a bit of trepidation, but only a bit. They'd trained for this maneuver several times.

The tricky thing was that it still involved docking with a moving starship in combat conditions and getting right on target. The slightest mistake and the Koenig would plow into other parts of the Aurora, damaging both ships severely. A big enough impact could even destroy Koenig.

For a moment, Zack regretted not forcing Apley to let him take the helm, given the burns on his hands. But it was too late; all he could do was show faith in his XO.

Apley fired the impulsors up to an overtake speed, but not too high of one. He gradually reduced them and fired retro-thrusters as they came up to the opened dock door. He twisted the ship ever so slightly to fit the airlock extension and the support struts.


The Koenig shook hard as it slammed into place, but the landing struts and airlock held from the impact.

"We're docked, sir," Apley informed them all, his voice even and level, not at all like he had just threaded a needle at thousands of kilometers per second. "Establishing airlock now."

"Good landing, Ap," Zack sighed, feeling a surge of relief.

It was over.

They were safe.

The impact of the Koenig's high speed landing jolted the bridge too. "Koenig is docked," Jarod reported. "Closing dock doors."

Robert nodded and felt the ship shake again as another antimatter missile hit their shields. "Locarno, get us out of here, maximum warp."

"Getting us the hell out of here... now." Locarno finished laying the course in and triggered the warp drive.

"Are they pursuing?", Julia asked.

"Yes ma'am," Ensign al-Rashad said from Science. "They're at Warp 9.4. 9.5. 9.6."

"We're now at Warp 9.7," Locarno said.

"9.65. 9.67. 9.6.... wait. They're dropping out of warp. I'm picking up a shift in their drive signature. I think they overloaded it."

"Always comforting to know we can always run away," Angel remarked.

"Yeah. But we got what we came for." Robert pressed the intercom. "Bridge to Security. Meridina, Commander Kane, get your teams and sweep the Koenig. Let's make sure our friend isn't aboard her."

"I do not believe it is. But we will check," Meridina answered.

"ETA to Harris, Locarno?"

"At current speed we should arrive in five hours."

"Once we're over the border, reduce our speed to Warp 9. No point in straining the engines even more." Robert wiped at his forehead. "I'm not in any hurry to face Admiral Davies anyway."

"I don't think any of us are," Julia agreed.

Ship's Log: 15 May 2641; ASV Aurora. Captain Robert Dale recording. We have returned to Harris Station for repair work. The mission was a technical success with the destruction of the Darglan data facility, but the cost.... the cost was too high, not just in those killed by the Changeling and the Nazis but in the fact we got into a fight with them. We knew peace was unlikely, but our actions may have made it impossible.

The command crew was sitting around the table in the conference room, including the officers from the Koenig. "Between our losses to the Changeling and the battle, we have twelve dead, fifteen wounded," Doctor Opani said from her seat near the end. The young Dorei woman, her skin a dark teal with light purple spots and dark purple hair, looked like she was going to choke. "I did all I could to stabilize some of the worst cases..."

"We've got them stabilized," Leo finished for her, giving his fellow physician a sympathetic look. "All of the remaining critical cases have a good chance at recovery."

"How long will it take to repair the Koenig?", Robert asked.

Zack looked to Derbely. "Two weeks at normal cycle time, sir," she answered. "The dock is a drydock in miniature so that's not the issue, it's simply having to fix all of the damage."

Julia nodded and looked down the table. "Scotty, do you think...?"

"Aye." Scotty nodded and looked to the younger woman. "I'll assign ye some teams, Lieutenant. We'll have th' girl up an' about again in nae time."

"Thank you, sir," Derbely answered. "I'll also need some replacements. I lost people, and I'm not sure Lieutenant Lopana will recover enough for ship duty."

"We'll speak with fleet personnel. Until then I'll leave Scotty and Tom to see who can be spared for Koenig," Robert said. "Well, that handles that subject. What about the computers? How much data was compromised?"

Jarod looked up. "We can rule out the IU jump drive technical data, the Changeling never compromised our computer security on it. At the very least, it could have sent out some of the data on naqia and non-critical ship information. And unsealed personnel data."

Robert nodded. "Any more surprises?"

"Security and Engineer personnel have been scouring the ship," Meridina said. "No further sabotage charges have been found, and the data we have so far hints that there were no others set. The greater issue is our computer security. The Changeling installed so many bypasses into our internal systems that computer security is completely compromised."

"We'll have to do a complete restoration from off-site backups," Jarod explained. "Which means a lot of systems will need to be brought offline completely. We'll probably require a week in spacedock ourselves."

"I'll forward the request," Robert said. "Caterina, that data... was it worth it?"

"I don't know yet," she answered. The bags under her eyes showed Caterina hadn't slept at all the prior night. "I've been going over what we recovered, sorting technical data and astrographical... all I can tell you right now is that it has more universe designations and a great deal of astrographical data in this universe. I'm hoping it will tell us where the main Facility for S4W8 is."

"I'm hoping it's not on Earth," Julia remarked, her hands together. "If the Nazis get any indication of how to search for these things..."

"We'll worry about that when we confirm it," Robert said. "Is there anything else?" When there was no immediate answer, Robert stood. "Alright, we'll adj..."

"I've got something."

All eyes turned on Zack. He had been quiet during the entire meeting, only speaking when his ship was involved. Now he looked at Robert. Robert could see that his friend's eyes were smoldering and lined with a bit of red. "Zack?", Robert asked.

"Why didn't you warn me, Rob?" Zack put his hand on the table. "Why didn't you tell me about this security leak before I left? If I'd known something was up, I would have been checking our systems, I would've seen the sabotage to our comm systems. Hell, I wouldn't have let that Changeling go one step without escort if you'd told me Draynal was a suspect!"

Robert sighed. "I made a judgement call. We had nothing solid and the mission..."

Zack's fist slammed on the table, startling everyone. "A judgement call?!", he shouted. "Seriously! You don't trust me with vital information because... what, you were afraid I'd abort? Were you so damned dedicating to pulling this mission off that you didn't care about what might go wrong?!"

"That's not what it was, Zack," Robert replied, his voice going up too. "I just... I have my reasons, but I knew that mission had to be fulfilled! And I didn't have enough warning to see what was..."

Zack leaned over and got in his face. "Twelve of my crew are dead Rob!" He brought a finger up so close it almost pressed against Robert's cheek. "Twelve! And I'm the one who has to write their families! I've got to tell a widower his only daughter got turned to vapor! Or maybe you'd like to tell Pammy DeSoto that her husband got flash-fried!"

"I had to make the call Zack!," Robert shot back. "That's my job! And that means people are going to die!"

"Easy for you to say when you weren't the one who's ass was getting shot up by...!"

"ENOUGH!" Julia's shout echoed in the room as she jumped to her feet. She took both and pushed them away from each other with her arms, getting between them. "That's enough, from both of you!" She faced Zack. "I'm sorry, Zack. Rob thought it was the right call." She turned to face Robert. "But he should have told you."

"It is my responsibility as much as Robert's," Meridina offered, standing as well. "You are right to be upset, Zachary. But please do not let your anger control you."

Zack's jaw clenched as he continued to glare at Robert and be glared back in return. "I'm done here," he finally said, turning away. "Permission to be excused, Captain."

Robert nodded stiffly. "Excused."

Zack made a mocking salute and stormed off, joined by the Koenig command crew. The Aurora crew looked around until Robert waved them off as well. "Julia, go inform Harris Station we need spacedock time, please," Robert said. "I'll be in the ready room checking my final report."

She nodded, sensing he needed time alone. Robert walked across the bridge and entered the ready room office. He remembered Farmer telling him about such offices almost two years before. "A place for the Captain to decompress when he's on duty." He felt like he needed it.

Robert found his seat and drew in a breath when examining his report. He had taken full responsibility for what happened, for the decision to launch the operation regardless of the security risk, and for its disasterous result. It was the least he could do.

With the touch of a button Robert sent the report off to Maran. He brought up another document. The casualty list, both the dead crew from Aurora's contingent to the mission and those Koenig lost. The numbers were horrifying; Zack had lost over a quarter of his small crew. No wonder he was angry.

At that point it just hit home. His bad judgement had cost sixteen lives, not counting the hundreds of crew on those destroyed Reich vessels. He'd ruined a clandestine operation, violated the space of another sovereign power, and fired on their ships in their own space.

He'd almost gotten Zack, Cat, Tom, and Lucy killed.

All because of a nightmare.

How in the hell could he put that in a report?!

The stress of the last week finally proved too much with this result. Robert broke down and actually began crying, feeling like he was being crushed.

After her bridge watch Julia decided to check up on Zack. She went to his quarters, saw he was home, and hit the door chime. After several seconds it opened. She stepped in and saw him leaning over on his sofa seat. "How are you?"

"I feel like crap," he said. "I sent off the condolence letters already, so you don't have to bug me about those." He looked up at her with the eyes of someone who had wrestled with his thoughts and was tired of it.

"You... I wasn't coming to nag, Zack," Julia said. "I wanted to make sure you were okay."

"Yeah. I know." Zack stood up. "I'm... I'm just tired of this." He walked up to her, his eyes red from tears and his expression full of apprehension and dread. "I've got to get this off my chest, no matter what happens."

Julia tilted her head. "Zack, are you okay? What's wrong?"

Zack put his hands on Julia's shoulders before she could stop him. "I've always felt this way, Julia Andreys," he said. "I... I love you, Julia."

Those words froze Julia just before she went to pull herself out of his grip.

"I'll always love you...", Zack continued. "I don't think I can ever get over it. You're just... you're... I can't think of how to say it but to say..."

They were so close that his breath actually felt warm on her face. A not-so-unfamiliar odor came across. "Zack... are you...."

He let her go and stepped away. "There, I said it," he said, sighing with finality. As if he knew the answer. "Now, all I want to ask is... would you ever say the same to me?"

Julia's words met her thoughts and jumbled up. "What?"

"Julia, I only want honesty. Please, just honesty," Zack pleaded. "I can't move on without an honest answer. I just... I have to know! Could you ever love me? Could we ever have something together, something more?"

Julia stared at him for a moment, trying to process what he was saying. She remembered how much of a crush Zack had on her in school, but she always figured that was just because she was one of the few girls he didn't have a chance with. But... love? "Zack, what are you saying?"

"I'm saying, Julia, that I am deeply in love with you, that I have loved you for years and that it has become pure torture for me to be this close to you without working up the guts to ask." Zack went over to his table and leaned on it. "And I'm just tired of it. I just want to know if there's any hope of you ever feeling that way about me. I want to be more than your friend."

"Zack, you're kind of putting me on the spot here," Julia pointed out, feeling completely bewildered and off-balance. She'd come to give comfort, not find out... this.

"I'm sorry, I'm just...." Zack had tears in his eyes. "On Adrana. That computer being gave me the world she thought I wanted. She gave me a world where we were married. Where we were together and happy."

Oh God. Julia felt... she didn't know how to feel. She felt sympathy and confusion and even some disgust.

"It wasn't real. I... I realized it. But it made all of that come back. And then I talked to my Dad and to Clara and..." Zack sniffled. "I just can't stand not knowing any more. I just want to know. Is there hope? Is there any chance, Julia, that you could feel love for me, that we could become a family?"

"Stop pushing it, Zack," Julia retorted. "Do you expect me to just, in a few seconds, decide something like that?! We've never even dated before, we've..."

"We've known each other since we were kids," Zack countered. "You know me and I know you. And I think you are the most smart, beautiful, and talented woman to ever exist. And I would move heaven and earth to...." He stopped, seeing the expression on her face. He shook his head. "You don't. You won't."


"Don't." He held up a hand. "I've been around you long enough. You don't feel that way toward me."

Julia swallowed and shook her head. "You're right. You're my friend but I just... that's all I see us as."

"And there's no hope of that changing."

"Well..." Julia shook her head and shrugged. "I don't know, I..."

"Don't you dare," he hissed. "Don't you Goddamn dare do that to me, Julie. Don't you string it out!"

"What is it you want from me, Zack?!," Julia screamed, her patience at an end. "You're a good friend, and you're funny and sweet and kind, but no, I don't see you as a lover or a future husband or anything. I love you to death as a friend, but that's all we'll be. And I'm not sure if that would ever change or not. I don't know the damn future! Now, I don't know what's gotten into you, but I do know this won't solve anything!"

And with that, she lifted the opened tequila bottle from the table by the sofa.

Zack stared at her and at the bottle, its amber liquid within jostling slightly from her movement. The bottle was missing over a quarter of its contents

"You're drinking this stuff, Zack!" Julia put the bottle back down. "Is it really me driving you to this? Why... you rarely like beer, now you're drinking like your Dad!"

"Yeah." Zack held up a shot glass that was on the desk, a bit of tequila left in it. In one move he sent it down his throat. "Yeah, I am. Trying to see if Dad was right. If it'd make the pain go away."


"I'd hoped you'd think about it," he confided. "But I can't beat him, can I?"


"Rob." He slammed the glass on the desk so hard that Julia thought it would break. "He gets you, he gets Angel... he gets to be the Captain too. Robert Dale, the big hero!" He postured wildly, striking a melodramatic pose. "And Julia, the true love who swoons over him and never ever lets him know it."

Julia's face paled. It was the kind of pale that would make a smarter man, or in this case more sober man, stop.

"And there's me, Zachary Carrey. The also-ran. The second-best. The hanger-on." Each term seemed to drip more and more venom. "He gets it all and here I am, in his shadow." He walked by her and picked up the bottle. "He can even send me to get killed and the only thing I can do about it is be his loyal dog or run away. Run away run away run away.... maybe I should. Maybe I should give all of this crap up and go back home."

"Zack, you don't mean that! Rob's your best friend, I'm your best friend! We're all here for you."

"Yeah. All for one and all for one, eh?" He held up the glass and seemed to reconsider that. "Huh. Got that wrong. Must be working. Maybe a few more shots and the pain will go away."

At that moment Julia felt a tear on her own eye. "Zack, we should have breakfast tomorrow. All of us. We should all get together and help you through this."

"Yeah. God knows I need it." Zack poured another shot. "I'm a true Carrey, and you know how hopeless we are if we don't have someone watching over us, making sure we don't screw it up, right? Otherwise we'll go back to the bottle. Cheers."

He brought the shotglass up. Julia shrieked and lashed out, smacking his hand and sending the shotglass and its contents flying into the near wall, where the tequila splattered and the glass shattered. She felt words come to her tongue, but couldn't quite get them out. She looked into Zack's sad brown eyes and the red lines around them and... Julia realized she didn't know what to do. How could she fix this? How could she make it better? When it was clear that every moment she was here, she was twisting the knife in his heart.

His words had struck home too. Julia hadn't realized how much it hurt that Robert was with Angela again while she was still alone.

Maybe I should be getting plastered with him, was the dour thought that crossed her mind.

"I'll... I'll leave you alone," she finally said, trying to fight the tears. "But Zack, please... we're here for you. I know this is something you need to do for yourself, but if you need us we're here."

"Yeah, like always."

And she couldn't take it anymore. The tears were rolling down Julia's face as she stormed out of the room.

Zack watched her leave and the door close. Through the haze in his head his heart was still hurting, aching. He'd confirmed it was as bad as he thought. There was no hope. The woman he loved did not love him and would never love him. "Guess it's time to move on," he muttered, holding the bottle of tequila in his hand. "Hey Dad, havin' that drink." He brought the bottle up like he was toasting. "Let's see if you were right."

At that point, he didn't bother getting another shotglass to replace the broken one. He put the opening of the bottle to his lips and took as big a drink as he could manage.


Meridina had returned to Security and found a message marked urgent. Seeing it was Lucy, Meridina went straight to her quarters. As an assistant department head Lucy had her own quarters on Deck 4, not as large as a department head but sufficiently comfortable. Meridina entered and found it dark. Lucy was sitting on her bed in a nightgown, her knees curled up to her chin. She looked over at Meridina and showed that she had been unable to sleep and was under tremendous emotional stress. "Lucy, what is wrong?"

"What... what's happening to me?", Lucy said, tears in her eyes. "Because it's not making sense. I've got this thing in me now and it saved us but then it got cold and terrible and I ... I..."

Meridina's expression froze. She swallowed and walked up to Lucy, sitting beside her on the bed. She pressed a hand to Lucy's arm and felt the turmoil roiling with her. No, not just the turmoil.

She felt Lucy's swevyra. Where it had once been a small ember, it was a fire now. She had called upon it intentionally, repeatedly, and it had come. But now it wouldn't go away either.

"Can you make it stop?", Lucy asked. "It's..."

"I cannot," Meridina answered. "You have opened yourself to your swevyra, Lucy. It cannot be undone."

"But it scares me," she said, her voice hoarse. "At first it was... it was just useful, it saved our lives, let me fight the Changeling. But then it was trying to pull me back into the facility and I couldn't break free and I just... I was afraid and then angry and I just started to hate it and I wanted to rip it apart and then everything turned cold."

Meridina swallowed and clasped another hand to Lucy's shoulder. "Yes. You're not trained to deal with your emotions when wielding your swevyra. It brought forth the darkness within you."

"Tom said my eyes were turning yellow and that my hand was shooting out lightning!"

"Yes. That is what happens when swevyra is joined with darkness." Meridina found her own mind racing. She had to tell Ledosh about this, she had to share this with the whole Order. "I... I may have done you a disservice for introducing this power to you, and for that I am sorry. This is dangerous. You must learn to control your emotions when wielding your swevyra."

"Can you show me how? Please? Show me how to do this!"

"I..." Meridina lowered her eyes. "I must consult my superiors on Gersal. But you must promise me, do not use your swevyra again, not until I say! This is important, Lucy."

Lucy nodded. "I'll... I'll try..."

"No," Meridina growled, frowning. For Lucy the sight of her frown and the growl in her voice was terrifying, so completely unlike Meridina as it was. "Lucy, you do not try. You just do it. You must!"

"But if I can't...?"

"Then..." Meridina shook her head. "If you use it without training and let your darkness take over... it corrupts your swevyra, your very essence. Few have ever come back from corruption. They... they become murderers and monsters, they lose control and lash out at everything."

"That would... happen to me?", Lucy murmured, still terrified.

"It could. But it would not."

"Why not?"

"Because..." Meridina's face lost all emotion. "....I would kill you first."

It was the middle of the night when the chime went off in Robert's quarters. He shifted in bed, prompting Angel to slide off him in her sleep, and reached over for the comm button on the nightstand. "Dale here," he said, his vision still blurry from being tired.

"Admiral Maran is on comms for you, sir."

Sighing, Robert pulled his uniform jacket on as he went to his personal computer in his quarters and triggered the comm system. Maran appeared, dawn light behind him. "Admiral?", Robert asked.

"Captain Dale, I'm changing your orders. You will report to Fleet Command Spacedock immediately."

Robert blinked. "Sir? is there something going on?"

Maran nodded. "You're being called before the Defense Committee, Captain Dale. You and your entire command staff."

That made Robert swallow. "This is about the mission, right?"

"It is," Maran answered. "I'm doing everything I can to help, but..."

"But what?"

Maran lowered his eyes. "You're facing a lot of criticism here in Portland, Robert. If the Defense Committee finds against you, the President and I won't have any choice. You and your crew will be removed from the Aurora. Permanently."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-03 10:37am


Commander Julia Andreys Personal Log, 17 May 2641...

I'm not much of a diarist. I didn't do the girly diary thing when I was young and this feels like that kind of thing. I do the weekly entry and just focus on business.

But I suppose I need to sound out my thoughts. Everything feels like it's starting to unravel. The mission to find the Darglan data facility in S4W8 was a disaster because of that Changeling infiltrator. Now the Defense Committee is calling us in, all of us, to investigate what happened and judge us.

If that wasn't enough, Zack... where could I begin? He came with us because of our friendships and not anything he wanted to do. He's proven himself over and over, but I think that distance... maybe it made Rob not trust him, maybe not. All I know is that it's grown worse.

And now he tells me that he loves me and wants an answer on my feelings. I want to understand what he's going through, I'm trying to, but it's just... I can't see us working. I don't feel that way about him, and that's killing him. And I...

Julia was interrupted by the tone at her door. She looked up from her desk in her quarters and checked to make sure her blue nightrobe was firmly tied before calling out "Come in!"

When the door opened Barnes limped in. The Changeling had broken his leg on LA33. While Leo's treatments were enough to fix the break and mend it, the damage it caused him would last a little longer. "Hey Julie," he said, stepping up to her table. "Can I sit?"

"Sure. I thought you were supposed to stay off that leg?"

"I am. But I wanted to..." He sighed and briefly looked out the window. Instead of open stars or a planet, it was the dark blue sheen of the spacedock facility the Aurora was berthed in. "Well, you know. Zack's my buddy. He's my best friend, even when he's a pain in the ass. And it sucks to see him hurting like that."

Julia nodded. "Yeah."

"Do you ever think he'd be better off back home?", Barnes asked. "I mean, we all had reasons for doing this. Zack just joined us because we're friends."

The thought brought an exasperated sigh from Julia. "Sometimes. But then I remember he wasn't doing much before this happened. He had to stop playing baseball and after that he was just drifting. I'm not sure he'd be any better if he had stayed."

"Maybe." Barnes shrugged. "I tried to get him to come to the holodeck but he's not leaving his quarters. He wouldn't even talk to me."

"He's... he's just having a bad time," Julia said, trying not to think of that open bottle she'd seen in Zack's quarters and the odor on his breath.

"Any bright ideas to get him out of it?"

"It's something he has to work through himself, I think." Julia looked at the clock on her desk. "We've got a busy day today. We should probably get it stared."

"Don't governments usually take longer to get these things put together?", Barnes grumbled. "It's just been a day and we're already going before the Defense Committee?"

"It's a crisis, Tom. Things move faster."

"Uh huh." Barnes gave her a dark look. "And you don't think that's pretty damned convenient for that jackass Davies? You got to figure a few of the people on it are his cronies."

"I'll remind you he is our superior officer now," Julia remarked. "We were in the center of this mess, so yeah, we're going to get dragged into the mud."

"Heh." Barnes frowned. "Speaking of messes. Julia, why the hell didn't we get warned that Draynal was a suspect? Yeah, Zack is pissed, and he has good reason to be."

"Don't ask me," Julia answered. "I didn't know they were suspecting him until Meridina told me he was a Changeling in disguise."

Barnes looked at her and rolled his eyes. "Jesus Christ, what the hell has gotten into Rob? Sending us off despite the security breach, not even warning you about what was going on..."

"Rob has a lot on his mind these days," Julia said delicately.

Flames were devouring the New Liberty Colony as Robert ran through it, a gun in his hand. The dead bodies of the colonists, many of them people he knew, were scattered around the streets. "Beth!", he called out. "BETH!"

He heard a scream in the distance. He ran through a body-choked street, picking up speed until he tripped. He fell and looked into the vacant eyes. Gabriel, one of the first people he and his friends had ever helped, lay before him, the back of his head a burnt mass. The scream came again, jolting Robert and making him get back to his feet.

He stormed into Freedom Square, the site of so many happy celebrations, and found it full of bodies. There were still living people here, though. Men in black combat armor, their faces partially obscured by visor plates, and carrying terrible weapons. The swastika emblem was visible in a red band on their upper right arms.

Before them was Beth Rankin, his cousin, bloodied and bruised and on her knees. "Rob, help me!", she shouted as one of them pressed a disruptor pistol to the back of her head.

He brought his pistol up and fired on them. But he was too late. With a flash of green from the pistol she fell over, dead.

Robert screamed in rage and hate at her death, firing his weapon repeatedly into the mass as they scattered. One went down, two... a third... His weapon ran out and Robert tackled the last one, the one who shot Beth. He brought his fist down on the man over and over again, ignoring the pain in his hand from hitting the visor. "I'll kill you!," he screamed, punching again and again and...

A cold feeling was swelling up inside of Robert as punches landed on the Nazi who had shot Beth. When he took the time to notice, he could see his reflection in the visor. He saw his own face twisted into an expression of hate and rage. And his eyes were all wrong now, going from green to a golden-yellow hue.

The visor on his enemy opened. "We meet again, Kapitän." It was Fassbinder, the SS officer he'd met in the first contact with the Reich.

His eyes were also glowing yellow.

Pain shot up through Robert's side from the knife Fassbinder had plunged between his ribs and into his heart. He toppled over, feeling only the bizarre cold rage as he...

...woke up with a start, screaming.

"Jesus Christ, Rob!" Angel sat up beside him, putting a hand on his chest. "Another nightmare?"

He nodded and swallowed. "Yeah."

"What's happening to you? It's like you have a nightmare every other night now." Angel reached over to the nightstand they'd set up on her side of the bed. She poured a cup of water from a pitcher she kept there and offered it to him. "You've never been like this before."

"Things have changed," he answered. "It's... I can't describe it right now."

The truth was, he didn't want to. His nightmares of the Reich destroying New Liberty had spurred him to go for the LA33 facility despite the security issues. That decision had, yes, allowed them to destroy the facility so the Nazis could never use it... but it had also led to a fight with the Nazi forces in their own space. He had committed an act of war over a dream.

"Maybe I deserve to get court-martialed," he sighed.

"Hey! Don't get like that." Angel kissed him on the cheek. "We had to do it. It was just bad luck. Monstrously horrible luck."

"Maybe." Robert took her hand and turned his head enough to kiss her on the lips. "But it doesn't change the fact that I didn't do enough. Meridina didn't have strong evidence about Draynal, so I used it as an excuse. If I'd told Zack about him... what if it had been enough? Zack never would have let him board."

"Or he would have snuck aboard a different way," Angel pointed out. "That whole 'shapeshifter' thing. Listen, Rob, I get that Zack's pissed, but it's not going to do any good moping about it. We've got to deal with the jerks on the Committee now and they're going to snap at any weakness they find. So don't dwell on it. Lay out the facts and why you did things, it should turn out fine."

"I hope. I'd hate to lose the ship." Robert shifted on the bed to face Angel directly. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Angel."

She smirked. "Hey, we gotta stick up for each other, right? Just don't ask me to do too much of this touchy-feely stuff. It's not me."

"I know. You're more into hitting than touching." Robert allowed himself a slight smile at that. "Or so experience tells me. Although you're not bad at the touching either..."

Angel laughed warmly at that. "Depends on what's being touched." They kissed again. When it was over, Robert exhaled strongly. "Well, let's get this over with. Let's go keep the Aurora."

Undiscovered Frontier
"Past Mistakes"

Zack was in pain.

And now I know why Dad was always in a sour mood even after he sobered up.

He looked at the quarter-full bottle of tequila on the table opposite his bed and moaned. His head ached terribly and he felt starved. He managed to focus enough to pull his clothes on and was on the verge of ordering a replicated breakfast when his door chime went off. "What?!", he cried out, irritated. "Come in!"

The door swished open. Leo stepped in and looked around. "Well, you look refreshed. Booze go straight to your head?"

Zack looked at him darkly and felt enough shame to lower his eyes. "Julie?"

Leo shook his head. "No, I didn't even know she'd visited you. Hargert was worried."

Zack blinked. "Hargert?"

"Yeah. Seems you actually took the bottle of tequila Albert offered you yesterday," Leo remarked.

Zack looked back over to the table. A second bottle had... half? Maybe three-fifths of the content left. "Oh," he muttered.

Leo found a seat, shaking his head. "Zack, man... what's wrong?"

"What isn't wrong?", Zack asked. "Everything's wrong. Everything." Zack stood up and went to the table. Leo grabbed the tequila bottle he was reaching for before he could take it. "I was just going to put them up, man."

Leo's expression betrayed his thoughts. "Were you?"

Zack looked at him for a moment and sighed. "Yeah, if you weren't here I probably would've had another drink."

"Why, man? You saw what this stuff did to your Dad."

"Saw it, lived with it..." Zack shrugged. "I just... I wanted to see if it worked for me too. Do you know what he told me, Leo? Before he died? That it made the pain go away."

"Zack, it's a depressant, it doesn't cure depression," Leo reminded him bluntly.

"Yeah. We knew that too." Zack shook his head. "But it works anyway. You get to that point when everything's in a haze and you're not feeling it anymore."

"Is this about Robert, Zack? About your fight with him?"

"Yes and no. It's about more than us. It's about..." Zack drew in a sigh, unwilling to bring up the other pain he was feeling. "Okay, yeah, I'm getting a little tired of Rob right now. This thing's changed him. He's acting like this invincible white knight now and it got twelve of my crew killed."

Leo shook his head. "You can't blame him for the Changeling, Zack."

"No, but I can damn well blame him for not telling me anything!", Zack retorted.

"He had his reasons, I'm sure." Leo softened his expression. "Come on, man. He's your best friend."

Those words made Zack's eyes focus on Leo's. "Yeah? Well I wish he'd act like it. Best friends don't send you out without warning you what's up. Best friends don't decide you should be risked because they think the mission is more important!"

Leo opened his mouth to speak and stopped. "It's not like that."

"The hell it isn't!" Zack got up and paced around his room. "Now I know what you're going to say next, because I was there for Admiral Maran's fancy lectures. He's my superior officer too. He has to give orders to fulfill the mission even if it means getting any of us killed."

"That's how things are when you're in a miltiary service," Leo pointed out.

"Yeah. Well, maybe we should decide what's more important then. Our friendship or the service." Zack stopped and looked down at an old photo of him and Robert in the baseball uniforms of their high school team, smiling at the camera and holding the state championship trophy. "It's getting about time for the trip down, right?"

"Yeah. Locarno is firing up the Susquehanna."

"I'll be there."

Leo went to say something but thought better of it. It was clear this was something Zack had to work through himself.

It had been two nights since Meridina last enjoyed her own bed. She sat in meditative posture on the floor of Lucy's quarters, Lucy sitting across from her. Lucy's breathing was growing faster. "Don't force it," Meridina urged her. "Just... allow the energy to settle."

"I'm trying," Lucy said. "But it's not going away."

That made Meridina sigh. "Lucy, it never will. Your swevyra is awakened. It is a part of you."

Lucy shook her head. "But I didn't want this," she protested.

"I know." Meridina swallowed and drew in a frustrated breath. "But it is not about what you want any more."

"Can't you train me to use it? I feel like I'm about to burst."

"No!" Realizing she'd barked that like a command, Meridina reached forward and set a hand on her scared compatriot's shoulder. "I'm sorry... unless my Mastrash authorizes it, I can only show you basic calming techniques. Anything more must be done with my Order's approval."

"Does that mean I would have to join it?", Lucy asked.

"It is a... difficult matter," Meridina answered. "My people had the same experience with other races like the Dorei, but there were issues that have made us very cautious about expanding the knowledge of using swevyra."

"So they'd rather leave me untrained until I go insane and become a psychotic?" There was an edge in that question.

"No. No, Lucy, not at all." Meridina smiled thinly. "I am certain some training can be authorized for you. The extent of it will have to be determined by my Order's Council, though. I cannot make that decision."

"Alright." Lucy sighed and looked up. "We're due to go down to Portland in an hour. We should probably get ready."

"I would prefer another day of working with you, to make sure you have control," Meridina remarked. "But we do what we must with the time permitted." She stood up as Lucy did. "I will meet you at the shuttle bay."

The Susquehanna had been cleared to land directly at Defense Command. It was a new structure erected on the northern side of the Columbia River, between its junction with the Willamette and Lake Vancouver. Towering azure structures formed a five-pointed star around a central building, walking bridges connecting them all together complete with a circle that rounded the middle of the bridges.

The top of the central structure contained a large bay for shuttles and other small craft. Locarno set the Susquehanna down under guidance from the traffic controller and secured the runabout while everyone filed out. The officers of the Aurora and Koenig were met by MPs in light combat armor, a Dorei and an Alakin, who motioned for them to follow.

Robert exchanged a glance with Julia when they stepped into a large lift, meant for carrying over a dozen people, and squeezed to the side. The Dorei MP pressed a key and the lift rumbled, lowering them into the structure's middle stories. "I'm surprised this isn't at Council Hall," Leo remarked from the other side of the lift.

"The Defense Committee meets in Command HQ for the added security," Robert pointed out.

"Never knew we had one," Barnes muttered. "What do they have to do with the Defense Staff?"

"The Staff is made up of officers," Julia answered. "The Committee has a mix of officers and legislators from the Council."

"Three Senators, three Councilmembers, Admiral Maran and the senior service chiefs, the Intelligence Director, with the Defense Minister chairing it all," Robert specified.

"So Admiral Davies will be there," Caterina said, frowning.

"Yes he will," Robert said, and that was all he said. He looked over at Zack, who was staring into the distance. Feelings of guilt stirred inside of him. Whatever was about to come his way, Robert knew he deserved some of it.

They were escorted into the Committee chamber gallery. A long desk curved inward was near the end of the room. Tables across from it were for those providing testimony to sit along with, Robert suspected, legal counsel. "I should have asked Borja to come along," he mumbled.

"Conflict of interest," Julia reminded him. "She was already assigned to defend Liton against you and Meridina, remember?"

"But that didn't go very far..."

They were directed to tables. After this happened, an Asian man in an Army formal uniform went through the side door. When he returned, he was followed by the Defense Committee. Davies and Maran were at the front, along with the other service commanders. The men and women behind them were in civilian dress suits of varying types. Robert recognized Senator Sriroj of the Sol System Republic but the others he was not so immediately familiar with. The mix was rather fair, with the other senators being a teal-complexioned Dorei and a bronze-feathered Alakin. One of the Congressman was openly a Gersallian given his garb was more like robes than a business suit.

At the end came the Defense Minister. Robert and the others had met Minister Hawthorne before. The assembled felt the slightest of chills when he exchanged whispers with Davies before finding his seat. Was it just a passing comment or a sign that the Minister was going to side with their strongest critic?

Hawthorne gave no indication of either when he took his seat and smacked the gavel. "We are convening this emergency session to determine what occurred on the 14th of May in the classified operation to determine the existence of a Darglan base in Universe S4W8. While said operation succeeded in the goal of denying Darglan technology to the Nazi German Empire of S4W8, it also caused over a dozen casualties and damage to both vessels involved, as well as instigating an international incident with Alliance vessels being found in Reich territory and firing upon Reich ships within that territory." Hawthorne put his hands together on the stand before him. "In short, your operation has quite possibly thrown our new Alliance into an intersellar war and thus has threatened the stability of the Allied Systems. Now, we are not here to place blame but to discover what occurred and determine if there is blame to be placed. It is my intention to call each of you up in order of rank, beginning with..." He consulted a list openly. "...Lieutenant Doctor Roliri Opani of the ASV Koenig. Lieutenant, please step forward."

Opani stepped up and took the first table before the Committee.

Hawthorne stumbled for his notes for a moment. "Before we begin, the Committee wishes to see each of you separately. Everyone else will await their turn for testimony in the antechamber. Sergeant, please show them to where they can wait."

Robert and Julia looked at each other. "We're going to get railroaded," Julia whispered. "They're trying to turn us against each other."

Robert found he had no response to that.

Meridina was quite aware of what was going on as they filed out of the committee chamber. But she had other concerns. She had hoped they would let her be present when Lucy gave testimony, should it become heated. But now... Lucy was going to be facing their inquisition alone.

She caught Lucy's attention and brought them over to beside a window looking out at the Columbia river and the buildings of Portland beyond. "Lucy, can you do this?", she asked.

"I... I think so," Lucy said. "I've been grilled before by prosecutors and defense attorneys."

"This may be worse. And they will certainly ask about your swevyra and the use of it."

"What should I say about it?"

"Be honest," Meridina urged. "Do not hide it. It is nothing to be ashamed of."

"Okay." Lucy nodded. "I get the feeling the deck's being stacked against us."

"Yes. Admiral Davies has laid the groundwork well," Meridina conceded. "But do not despair. Hearts and minds can be swayed, particularly with the aid of the truth."

"I hope it's enough."

"It will be. Now, I expect you will be called first, so remember; keep your breath calm and focus on your control. Do not let anything they say disturb your emotional center." Meridina put her hands on Lucy's shoulders as she said that. "You can do this."

After Lucy nodded and agreed, Meridina let go and saw her walk back to join the others. She did not; she expected she would be one of the last called, which gave her time to do what was needed. And so she returned to the Susquehanna.

The officers on Koenig, up to Apley, had all gone first. Apley stepped out of the room looking on the bored side. He went over to stand with Sherlily and Zack. Zack nodded to him and looked over to where some of the Aurora crew were congregating.

Barnes walked up to him at that point. "Hey Zack, don't you think you're giving them ammo?"

"Huh?" Zack looked at his friend.

"Keeping your crew away from the rest of us, these guys are trying to divide us and now it looks like it's working," Barnes pointed out.

"Huh. Yeah." Zack lowered his head. "Maybe we are divided."


"We're the ones who got sent into the fire. We weren't told who to watch out for or what to look for. Our ship got sabotaged under our noses because Robert and Meridina didn't tell us anything," Zack pointed out.

Barnes shook his head. "He screwed up, okay, but you're carrying this really far, man. Just go talk to him."

"I will, when I feel like it."

Barnes blinked. "What? Dude, you've known him longer than me, you've been friends for..."

"Don't." Zack shook his head. "I'm... Tom, yeah, we're friends. We'll probably still be friends. But right now, I'm really pissed at him for a number of reasons. And I need time to process that."

The door opened. "Lieutenant Caterina Delgado," the sergeant-at-arms called. "Please come with me."

Caterina stood up from between Angel and Jarod. Angel gave her a pat on the shoulder and a last vote of confidence.

"Poor Cat," Zack sighed. Nothing else could be said as Caterina quietly followed the sergeant-at-arms into the room.

"So you were proceeding with the data download when the Changeling appeared," Minister Hawthorne asked, looking down at a report.

"Um, yes... yes Minister," Caterina answered.

"A Changeling that happened to annihilate an entire security team in a couple of seconds," he continued.

"Um, yes. Yes, it did. It was hor..."

"And yet you're still with us," Hawthorne said, interrupting her. "Half a dozen well-trained security officers go down but you're still here. How?" There was evident skepticism in his voice.

"Um..." Caterina swallowed and fidgeted with her hands. "...Lucy.... Lieutenant Lucero fought with it."

"Lieutenant Lucilla Lucero, an operations officer with engineering background but no major combat experience?", Senator Kepal, the Alakin, asked.

"Yes sir. S-she... saved my life, Mister Senator s-sir." Caterina knew she looked like she was abou to curl up and die, and she knew this because it was about what she wanted to do.

"How?" The question was from General Gulinev, the head of the Army, his voice a low growl.

"The Changeling was a-attacking me. A-and she stopped it. She held her...her hand up a-and it just went f-flying."

Most of the looks were incredulous. The Gersallian representative from the Council leaned forward. "Lieutenant, you are describing the use of swevyra. Are you saying Lieutenant Lucero had such a swevyra?"

"I'm not sure what a swev-eera is, s-sir," Caterina answered, trying hard to focus and stop the stutter in her voice. Having a dozen sets of eyes glowering down on her was not making that easy. "But it... it was like w-what Meridina does."

"Commander Meridina, the swevyra'se serving on your ship?" The Gersallian sat back and looked to Hawthorne. "Has this Lieutenant Lucero been trained to use it?"

"Um... I... I don't know, sir," Caterina replied.

Hawthorne eyed the Gersallian Councilman, who sat back and indicated he had no more questions. Hawthorne turned his head back to Caterina. "Lieutenant, there is something on the record I would like cleared."

"Yes sir?"

"Were you, or were you not, responsible for the incursion of the species known as 'Daleks' that forced the destruction of the Darglan facility on your homeworld?"

Caterina blinked and allowed her confusion to make her face shift. "Sir?"

"The question is pretty straight-forward, Lieutenant. Are you responsible for the Dalek Incursion?"

"I... I..." Caterina found trouble getting her voice to speak. She felt like she was being driven into a trap. "Well, I did bring...."

Hawthorne, clearly fed up with Caterina, raised his voice. "Lieutenant Delgado, were you not in command of the vessel Weaver when it went on the survey mission in Universe W8R4? And did you not bring a load of debris and artifacts back into the Facility itself, in violation of common safety precautions when dealing with unknown alien technology? Did your science team not open the artifact containing several Daleks, which proceeded to attack the Facility and require its destruction? Because all of my records say the answer is yes. Perhaps the records your own friends wrote are wrong."

"Well... yes, I did bring that back... b-but..."

"In other words, you showed a disturbing lack of common sense and recklessness, on top of ending your survey mission without authority to indulge in your personal whims of curiosity." Hawthorne leaned forward further. "Can you tell us why you were given such an important role in such a critical and sensitive mission despite this proven history of reckless disregard for procedure and failure to properly follow orders?"

At that point, all Caterina could think of was Simon and the others on her team who were gunned down by the Daleks. And Control... he had showed her so much, and he was gone too. She broke down and started weeping. "I... I..."

"Lieutenant, you will answer," Davies barked.

"Perhaps we should give the Lieutenant a moment to recover," Maran suggested.

Caterina tried to hold back the sobbing. "I... I studied the Da-Darglan tech f-from the m-moment we had it. I knew w-what to.... to look for." She sniffled. "I'm s-sorry about the D-Daleks. I n-never thought it'd hap-happen like that. I pro-promise it w-w'on't happen ag-again."

Hawthorne waved a hand in disgust. "You're dismissed, Lieutenant."

"I'll tear his head off."

Angel was pale with rage while holding her weeping sister. Beside her Robert had a hand on her shoulder while Julia paced around. "I don't think it'll solve anything, Angel," Julia pointed out.

"It'll make me feel better."

"So that's what he's doing? Dredging up every mistake we've ever made?" Robert sighed. "Try to make us look stupid and hope that sways the others?"

Julia didn't look back immediately, keeping her focus on the door. "That kind of thing works. Especially if you let them goad you into outrage. We just have to keep it cool."

The doors opened again. "Lieutenant Lucilla Lucero," the Sergeant-at-Arms called.

Lucy stood up and nodded at them before walking into the Committee room.

Once before the Committee, Lucy didn't have long before the hard questions came. "Lieutenant Delgado testified that you used some sort of special psychokinetic powers to fight the Changeling," Hawthorne asked her bluntly. "We are aware that such abilities exist, but your record shows no indication of them. Would you please demonstrate?"

Having seen how Hawthorne and the others reduced Caterina to tears, Lucy briefly pondered using it on him. But at the slightest sensation of cold within her she changed her mind, remembering Meridina's warnings. "One moment." Lucy swallowed and sucked in a breath to focus herself. She looked at the desk in front of her and extended her hand. The energy within her surged.

It surged too strongly. She had been looking to pick it up. She couldn't get the focus right and, instead, the desk toppled over and slammed into the committee's long desk. "Lieutenant!", Davies barked at her at the clatter.

Fully rattled by her failure to control what she'd done, Lucy swallowed. "Sorry sir, I'm... I'm still getting the hang of it."

The Gersallian Councilman looked ready to say something, but he was in awe for the moment and could not interrupt as Hawthorne glared at Lucy. "Perhaps some more forethought should be taken with how you choose to demonstrate this... this power." He overcame however much the incident had rattled him fairly quickly. "And you used this to fight the Changeling?"

"Yes sir. The control wasn't so much an issue then. I was just trying to knock it around."

"I see." Hawthorne checked the materials in front of him. "Lieutenant, I would like to ask about some of your missions aboard Aurora over the past year. To start with, a few weeks ago you were assigned as pilot to the Rio Grande for an unspecified mission?"

"It wasn't a mission," Lucy replied. "Commander Jarod asked for some leave time to assist old friends. He asked for a runabout and I was assigned as pilot."

"I see. Then, if it wasn't a mission, can you explain why the records show a firearm discharge during this... excursion?" Hawthorne put his hands together.

Lucy swallowed and took a breath. "We had a hostage situation. A kidnapper was holding a child hostage. Lieutenant Delgado, as in Angel Delgado, shot him with a stun setting after I disarmed him."

"I see. Yet transporter logs also confirm that Lieutenant Delgado had beamed into what sensor logs show was a secured facility. And I will add that we know you returned several individuals from Earth A4P5 to New Liberty, which is clearly more than visiting old friends."


"Lieutenant Lucero." Davies spoke up now. "Answer this question simply. Did you or did you not participate in an unauthorized extraction mission to an Earth that falls under the Contact Limitations regulations?"

Lucy swallowed. "I wasn't aware that Earth A4P5 fell under that regulation, sir."

"As your organization never officially revealed your existence to their governments and societies, it does," Davies pointed out. "So the answer is yes?"

Lucy nodded. "I suppose it is."

"And who authorized this excursion? Commander Jarod would have needed authority from a command officer."

Lucy shook her head lightly. "I don't recall," she replied.

"That answer is unacceptable, Lieutenant," Hawthorne said. "It was barely two weeks ago!"

"I don't recall, sir," Lucy repeated.

"Think carefully on this. You can be charged for perjury and obstruction of this Committee."

"Then charge me," Lucy answered.

Davies' nostrils flared at seeing her defiance. Hawthorne shook his head and checked his notes. As he did so, the Dorei senator leaned forward. "Lieutenant, according to these records, you accompanied Captain Dale when he boarded the Mayala three months ago."

Lucy nodded. "Yes. We were on a covert mission to undermine Captain Potana's rampage in the Cardassian DMZ."

"The same mission where your captain sabotaged one of the most advanced vessels of the Dorei fleet and allowed the Cardassian Empire to capture vital Dorei technology?", the Senator asked pointedly.

"I wasn't told everything as I'm not an official senior officer," Lucy reminded them. "All I know for sure is that we blew the Mayala up after enabling the Cardassians to remotely disable her systems."

"Who authorized this?", the senator demanded.

"I am not aware."

"Your claimed ignorance is becoming tiresome," Hawthorne said. "Now, we have some questions on the first contact with the Nazi German Reich at Krellan Nebula, and I suggest you answer them..."

It had taken some time for Meridina to navigate the bureaucracy of her own Order, with an active Council meeting giving the clerks reason to deny or delay her request to speak to Ledosh. Finally he appeared on the screen. "Meridina. Are you well?"

"I am. But I have much to discuss." Meridina took a calming breath, subduing her nervousness and energy at what she had to report. "Lucy Lucero's swevyra has fully manifested."

"What?" Ledosh leaned forward. "Did you...?"

"No," Meridina answered. "I have not shown her anything. She has called upon it herself. The first two occasions were minor usages, but she recently was forced to defend herself against a Changeling of S5T3. She called on her swevyra repeatedly and actively."

"And has she shown any darkness?"

"Briefly. At the end of her fight with the being, when her fear and anger swelled. But it has not taken hold of her."

Ledosh let out a sigh. "Very good. It is well you have reported this. I will inform the Council. Have you taught her emotional focus?"

"I have started. But I am also concerned. The leadership of the Alliance military has brought us before their Defense Committee, and it is clear that Defense Minister Hawthorne is one of those who oppose Robert and the others."

Ledosh drew in a breath. "I see. I shall have words with Senator Kaam."

"Mastrash, what of Lucilla's power? She needs training."

"Do not commit to such yet," Ledosh warned. "Karesl and Goras would gain too much of an advantage. If Lucy is to be trained, the Council must approve it."

"I understand." Meridina looked at the chronometer. "I should return to the others, I will be testifying soon."

"Mi rake sa swevyra iso, Meridina. I will do what I can to assist."

"Mi rake sa swevyra iso, Mastrash," Meridina answered. Her finger tapped the comm button and ended the call.
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American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-04 12:39pm

"Lieutenant Delgado." Hawthorne looked back briefly to the Dorei senator before returning his gaze to Angel. "Do you mind explaining to us the authorization Captain Dale cited in turning over critical technical data to the Cardassians?"

"He was ordered to do everything short of giving them IU drives," Angel replied, keeping her patience low. But all she could think of was how these bastards had reduced her poor sister to tears.

"By whom?"

Angel looked past Hawthorne. "Admiral Maran."

Hawthorne looked over his shoulder. "Admiral?"

"President Morgan's orders were explicit," Maran replied. He looked over to the stunned Dorei delegate. "I also conferred with the President-General of the Dorei Federation, Princess Syrina, to make sure she understood the ramifications of Captain Potana's actions. She accepted the idea tha we would have to provide the Cardassians with technical data on the Mayala."

The Dorei senator nodded and put his hands together. "I see," he mumbled.

Hawthorne frowned and turned back to her. "You went along with Commander Jarod on his unofficial excursion to his native Earth in defiance of regulations, did you not?"

"I went to protect him," Angel replied. "There's a criminal organization that was looking to abduct him. They'd already kidnapped two people and we had to rescue them."

"So you misused Alliance Stellar Navy resources in a private action that violated regulation?", Hawthorne answered.

"And we saved five innocent people from a criminal organization," Angel shot back.

Hawthorne and Davies glared at her from their seats, as did the Russian general to Davies' side. Hawthorne looked around and seemed irritated that some people had begun to smile or seem amused. "Reports say you brought six back," Hawthorne pointed out, as if happy to catch her in a lie.

"Yes, we did. I said five innocent people. I didn't count Miss Parker." Angel folded her arms and sat back. "Is there anything else?"

"The Committee does not appreciate your tone, Lieutenant," Hawthorne growled.

"Actually, I find her entertaining," a Human Councilman stated from one wing, earning a glare from Hawthorne and Davies. Angel didn't recognize him or his accent. "Please, do continue with your interrogation, Minister."

Hawthorne looked back to Angel and checked his datapad. "Lieutenant, several years ago, did you participate in an infiltration of the Saudi city of Dammam on your home Earth of H1E4?"

Angel blinked and nodded slowly. "Yes, I did. We were helping Sarah Brindley get her daughters and son back."

"Yes. It says here that the Saudi courts had awarded custody to the father, Fariq."

"After he abducted them from US soil and took them to his home country, where his ex-wife had no standing to sue for custody," Angel retorted. "They even arrested her. The US government wouldn't help her, nobody would until we did."

"Still, you violated Saudi territory, injured several Saudi citizens, and..." Hawthorne checked the report. "Apparently you personally, as a distraction, stepped out into the open street without a hijab and provoked the Saudi vice police into trying to arrest you, at which time you brutally beat them, causing two broken arms, four broken legs, and several severe injuries among a group of four."

Angel at that point smirked. "What can I say? I don't appreciate assholes who treat women like scum and property."

"You will watch your language, Lieutenant, or I'll have you on charges," Davies thundered.

"Pardon me, Admiral, but what does this have to do with what happened during the LA33 operation?", Angel asked heatedly. "You're just digging stuff up that's not relevant."

"We decide the relevance, Lieutenant, not you," Hawthorne said. "Now, there is another operation during your time running the Facility that I wish to bring up...."

"Before you do, Minister, I have my own question." Davies leaned forward in his seat. "Lieutenant Delgado, please answer this: are you now in a personal relationship with your commanding officer?"

Angel glowered. "As in a friend or..."

"Don't be coy, Lieutenant." Davies put his hands together in front of him. "To be more exact, Lieutenant, are you in a sexual relationship with Captain Dale?"

Angel simply stared at him for a moment before choosing to respond. "Who I sleep with is none of your damn business."

"Oh, but I think it is," Hawthorne remarked. "It would explain why your sister was sent on a highly classified covert mission despite her history of disregarding orders and reckless endangerment of herself and others."

"Robert sent Caterina on that mission because she is smart, smarter than the lot of you put together!", Angel shouted. "Who the hell do you think you are..." Even as she shouted, Davies demanded she stop, but she ignored him. "...to attack us like this, over and over?! We're out there tring to hold the line and protect the Alliance!"

"Sergeant-at-Arms, escort Lieutenant Delgado to the brig," Hawthorne ordered. "You're going up on charges, Lieutenant."

"Maybe someone should charge you," Angel said.

Hawthorne and Davies looked ready to explode, and they nearly did so when they realized that the Councilman who had earlier supported her was chuckling. "Councilman Zoral, sir, I insist you refrain from undermining this proceeding or I will have you removed," Hawthorne demanded.

"I call the Defense Minister to order," Senator Sriroj declared from her own seat, standing. Three other legislators stood with her. "It is not his place to remove a sitting member of this Committee. And to be blunt, this interrogation of a woman's private life is out of order as well, and she has every right to express that contempt."

Hawthorne looked like he had been struck. "Senator, I must protest, you are undermining the Committee!"

"You undermined it when you ventured into that line of questioning."

"It is legitimate questioning," General Gulinev insisted. "Fraternization by a superior officer with his subordinate undermines the discipline of the service. Military personnel must sacrifice many things in the name of their duty."

"Then maybe the military needs to change," Councilman Zoral mumbled audibly.

"Minister, I will withdraw my motion if you strike from the record the entire exchange regarding Lieutenant Delgado's personal life and rescind your order for her jailing," Senator Sriroj said. "Otherwise I move for a vote to adjourn so that I can bring the issue of your conduct before the Senate Military Operations Committee. If I must, I shall seek your full censure."

For a moment Angel felt like gloating as she saw Hawthorne grind his teeth in frustration. But despite her temper she held back, knowing it would make things worse. Hawthorne nodded finally. "Very well. All questions relating to Lieutenant Delgado's fraternization with her commander are stricken. Sergeant-at-Arms, belay my last order." Hawthorne directed his gaze at Angel. "Lieutenant, to return to your time in the Facility, I would like to ask about an operation in Syria several months after the Damman op..."

Meridina returned to join the others as Angel walked out. "How did it go?", she asked.

"They're throwing everything at us," Angel complained. "Hawthorne tried to arrest me because I wouldn't talk about my relationship with Robert. And he brought up Damman. Damman. And that time in Syria where I left those assholes hanging from the lamppost in their undies!"

Robert looked at her in confusion. "We didn't even keep records back then, how did they know about it?"

"Maybe someone wrote an unofficial one," Meridina proposed.

"No." Julia shook her head. "That's not it at all." She looked down the chamber to a new arrival.

A man with dark gray hair, well combed and dressed and with his beard equally trimmed had stepped in. His eyes, a light brown in shade, scanned the area and, as he looked at them, his face curled into a slight smile. He walked up to them and said, "Hello. I'm Lawrence Smith, United States National Security Agency." He offered a hand. "Congratulations, Mister Dale. Or Captain, I should say."

Robert didn't accept the hand, since he was focused on the face. He'd seen it before. He could even remember the first time he'd seen it, the first time he'd met this man, in a very different Portland than the one they were near right now. "Agent Jones," he said, making the name sound like an accusation.

Smith nodded and smiled. "My little alias, yes. Turns out I was an Agent Smith after all."

"What are you doing here?", Julia asked.

"It should be obvious. I've been asked to offer testimony," he answered. "And since the United States government of our little Earth is very concerned to keep good relations with the Allied Systems, the President was quick to agree to sending me. Excuse me."

Smith walked past them and to the door, where the MPs allowed him in on seeing his paperwork. Julia sighed. "I guess that explains how they knew about Damman."

"I need to speak to the President," Robert mumbled. "There's got to be a way for him to stop this witchhunt."

"Lieutenant Nicholas Locarno!", the Sergeant-at-Arms called out.

Locarno sat at the table and waited for Hawthorne to finish looking over his paperwork. The man Robert had called "Agent Jones" was sitting near the rear of the chamber now, watching quietly. "Lieutenant." Hawthorne put his hands together and looked toward Locarno. "Did you defy Captain Dale's first orders to violate Reich space?"

"I did not immediately obey them," Locarno answered.

"Because you knew they were against orders?"

"Because I believed there was no justification yet," Locarno clarified. "It would have ruined the mission as well as nearly starting a war. I suggested probes be used to regain contact with Koenig and Captain Dale agreed."

"Very well." Hawthorne shifted in his seat. "Lieutenant, I took a moment to look over your file before calling you in. True or false; were you given a dishonorable discharge from Starfleet?"

Locarno frowned and leaned forward. "False."


"I was expelled from Starfleet Academy. As a result I was no longer a member of Starfleet. I was not given a discharge."

"You are being semantical," Gulinev remarked dismissively.

Hawthorne smirked. "Yes, I see the distinction in words, but in spirit? You were kicked out of Starfleet, Lieutenant, for what?"

Locarno lowered his eyes. "I convinced the cadets in my flight squadron to train for a flying maneuver banned under regulations. We had an incident when training for it and one of them died."

"And when the investigators came, you lied to them and encouraged your subordinates to lie?", Hawthorne asked.

Locarno drew in a breath. Having this starched suit drag his dirty laundry out like this brought the memories of that failure roaring back. The pain was fresh again. "I did," he admitted.

"What happened then?" This was from Sriroj.

"One of my subordinate cadets, Cadet Crusher, decided he was going to tell the truth. Once he'd done so, I... I couldn't just continue to avoid responsibility. So I confessed to the inquiry."

"So, you admited your transgressions?", Maran asked.

"I did."

"And you were expelled for this?"

"I was."

Hawthorne cut in again. "And yet you were given a position of trust almost from the moment you met Captain Dale and his organization? Despite your past failures in judgement?"

Locarno nodded. "I was. They were willing to give me a second chance."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Hawthorne said. "We need no more of your time."

Robert sat in the cockpit of the Susquehanna, staring at the blank screen. Seeing "Jones" again had him thinking abou all the choices made in those days. What if they had taken that offer from "Jones" aka Smith and allowed the US government to move in on the Facility? Rescue ops might've stopped on their world, yes, but they could have continued elsewhere. And they might never have brough the Daleks in.

And you might not have met Picard and rescued Scotty and Locarno and Farmer. You wouldn't have met Meridina. And who knows what nasty things the government might have asked us to do.

The screen blipped and Robert watched one of President Morgan's aides step into view. "Miss Boronov?"

"Captain Dale." Her Russian accent was not very thick but still discernable. "I'm afraid the President can't see you now."

"Does he know it's important?", Robert asked.

"He does. He also knows its important that his authority does not weigh in on the Committee proceedings. And that it can't be said you've spoken with him." There was sympathy on the woman's face. "I'm sorry, Captain. But you can't see him until this is over."

Robert lowered his eyes. "I think we're losing this, Miss Boronev. Hawthorne is in league with Davies and the military heads are going along wih it. They're bringing up everything."

"Yes. It is politics. It can't be helped. If you want to help yourself, Captain, cooperate with them fully. Do not let it be said you tried to evade the Committee. The rest will attend to itself." With that final remark Boronev terminated the call.

Barnes was in with the Committee when Julia stepped up to Locarno, sitting by himself. "How did it go?"

"They brought up my time in Starfleet," Locarno answered. He looked up at her. "It's not a time I like to remember."

"I understand that." Julia sat beside him. "Everyone's got mistakes in their past."

"Sometimes I think of Joshua. I got him killed. Then to protect myself I tried to ruin his memory." Locarno rubbed at his forehead. "Just one lie after another. And it didn't get me anywhere."

"So you tell the truth." Julia shrugged. "And then they turn it against you."

Locarno remained silent for a moment, going through his thoughts. "I almost said no."

"Hrm?" Julia turned her head to face him.

"Back when you offered me a place in the Facility. I was ready to say 'No, just take me back. You don't want me.'" Locarno seemed to be looking beyond her, into the past that was in his thoughts. "But I realized what you were offering me. It was a second chance to be something. I could redeem what I'd done to Josh."

Julia smiled and nodded. "Yeah. I get that."

The door opened and Barnes came out, frowning. "Lieutenant Commander Doctor Leonard Gillam," the Sergeant-at-Arms called.

Leo stood up from where he was with Caterina and Angel and walked in.

"Doctor, please explain for the benefit of this Committee your behavior during the mission to Abdis of R4A1," Hawthorne asked. "Specifically, your insistence on putting a woman through a dangerous procedure without proper facilities and without a full knowledge on the parasite within her."

"We were short for time," Leo explained. "When she gave birth the creature inside was going to re-assert control. It had to be done there."

"According to records, the woman nearly died," Hawthorne continued. "Doctor, I am no medical expert, but I can quote at least three surgeons who described your operation as reckless and inappropriate. One even told me you should have your license revoked."

"It's the nature of the medical community that some will believe in excess caution," Leo replied. "Because I've received notices from a dozen surgeons who congratulated me on the operation. Doctor Andja Layl, who I shall point out is the most distinguished neuro-surgeon on Gersal, went as far as to publish a paper supporting me."

The Gersallian Councilman nodded at that. Hawthorne scowled. "No further questions, Doctor."

"Just to be clear, Commander Scott..." Hawthorne made a show of checking his paperwork. "You were once charged by Starfleet for sabotage of a starship and theft of one?"

"Aye." Scotty had a bemused look on his face.

"And what became of those proceedings?"

"Th' charges were dropped, Minister Hawthorne," Scotty replied.

Hawthorne had a bemused look on his face. "Can you tell us why, Commander Scott?"

"We saved Earth, sir," Scotty replied. "Went back in time with that Klingon ship, picked up a couple o' whales, and got 'em tae talk tae th' alien probe."

"Really." Hawthorne had a blank look on his face. A number of the others were clearly bewildered, although some of the legislators were clearly amused. "Tell me, Commander, was anyone punished for your crew's transgressions?"

"Nae a single one of us, sir," Scotty declared.

"Oh really?" Hawthorne smiled and looked at his records. "Because I see here that the Federation demoted your superior officer."

"Oh, aye sir." Scotty grinned widely. "Captain Kirk was nae enjoying being an admiral. They demoted him back tae Captain an' gave him back th' Enterprise. He was happy as a clam, sir. Wasnae a punishment at all, 'twas a reward."

Hawthorne had nothing to say to that. "You are dismissed, Mister Scott."

Scotty stood and walked back toward the door. As he did so, the old engineer couldn't help but smirk.

Behind him, Hawthorne called out, "Sergeant, please bring Lieutenant Commander Jarod."

As Jarod stepped in to the committee chamber, Robert walked up to Zack. "Hey, Zack."

Zack looked at him and nodded to Magda and Derbely, who walked off to join the other Koenig crew. "Yeah?"

"Listen, I know you're upset about what happened."

"Upset doesn't begin to cover it," Zack said. "You didn't trust me. You were so wrapped up in completing the mission and being the hero that you didn't trust me with anything that might make me call it off."

"That's... that's not it," Robert insisted. "It was... dammit, I don't know how to explain this. I didn't know he was a Changeling, okay? And we thought Liton could be it. I had nothing in the way of proof that Draynal was an imposter."

"But you knew enough to see that he could have been something!", Zack retorted. "If you'd just told me, I could've stopped him from coming aboard, or kept an eye on him. He sabotaged my damn ship under my nose because you didn't give me any warning!"

Robert pursed his lip. "I know," he answered hoarsely. "My God, Zack, if I could change it I would, it was a mistake and I'm sorry."

Zack remained quiet for a moment. "Rob, your crew lost how many people?"

"Seven," Robert answered.

"Did you know them?", Zack asked.

"I'm afraid not."

"Thought so." Zack shook his head. "I know the names of every member of my crew, Rob. Don't know their favorite sports or drinks or who is dating who, but I know their names. Including the people who died. I knew some who were married or had kids back home or just parents who loved them. And I had to write the letters."

"Zack, I'm sorry..."

"Sorry doesn't cut it anymore!" Zack's shout echoed through the antechamber. "Sorry is when you forgot to pick me up for the prom! Sorry's when you screwed up that catch in the division semi-finals! This is waaaay beyond Goddamn sorry! Nineteen people are dead because of your decision, Rob!"

"What do you want, Zack?!", Robert hissed. His voice was full of tension as if he were ready to explode as well. "I made a mistake. And I can't take it back!"

Zack bit into his lower lip for a moment. "I... I don't know," he finally said. "I want... I want to know you won't pick your missions over your friends. Because that's what this felt like. Like you were picking your precious mission over our safety."

"Zack, it had to be done," Robert stressed. "We couldn't let Nazis of all people find Darglan technology."

"Someone else could have done it," Zack pointed out. "Don't tell me it was impossible. Harder, yeah. But not impossible."

"And if you're wrong, the Nazis could have found that site eventually," Robert pointed out.

"Rob, don't dance around it. What's more important to you, your missions or your friends?"

"My friends," Robert insisted.

Zack nodded. "Alright. So this isn't going to happen again, is it?"

Robert opened his mouth to agree but stopped. "Zack... I, I don't know."

"Yeah, I figured." Zack shook his head. "What if it was Julia you were sending to die? Or Cat? Actually, it was Cat this time too, so I guess that question is answered."

"Dammit Zack, you know what this job entails! We have duties and at any time I might have to give orders like that again!"

"Yeah. The mission comes first, right?" Zack's expression turned pensive. "I love the Koenig."

"Yeah." Robert smiled thinly and nodded. "I know."

"But Rob... I honestly wonder if even my ship is worth this. You're talking about putting missions ahead of us, of your friends." Zack shook his head. "Maybe we should just go tell Hawthorne to take the ships then. Take them and boot us out of the Stellar Navy. We can go back to just being friends."

Robert stared at him in shock. "You don't mean that, Zack."

"Maybe, maybe not. It's a thought. And it's a damn powerful one, because I hate thinking that my best friend will send me to die," Zack said.

"I didn't..."

"But you might." Zack stepped back. "It's clear where we stand, Rob. I'm not going to talk about it anymore." He turned and started to walk away.

"Whatever happens, you're still my friend, Zack," Robert insisted.

Zack looked back. There were tears in his eyes. "Yeah, I know. And that's why it hurts so damn much." He continued walking on his way.

"So, Commander Jarod, would you care to explain why you borrowed a Navy vessel for an unofficial mission to a planet under no-contact regulations?"

Jarod had been ready for the question from Hawthorne before his testimony had begun. "Years ago, when I joined the Facility staff, they promised to help me with my family and the threat of the Centre. Commander Andreys followed up on that pledge."

"A pledge made by a stateless organization that folded itself into the Alliance, an organization that is supposed to be bound by Alliance law and command authority," Hawthorne countered. "Do you have any defense against the fact that you misused Navy equipment?"

"Yeah." Jarod crossed his arms. "I rescued a little girl from kidnappers that were going to murder her."

Hawthorne didn't respond. "Tell me, Commander, what did you do before you were recruited by the Facility staff?"

"I was on the run from operatives of the Centre," Jarod answered.

"And that was it?"

"I helped people where I could. The Centre had used me to create things that hurt people. I wanted to make it up."

Hawthorne nodded. "And what kind of assistance did you get with this?"

"Very little," Jarod pointed out. "I was on my own."

"I see. SO you acted outside of the law," Hawthorne remarked. "You were a vigilante."

"I suppose that's one way of putting it."

"So it can be said that you have contempt for the law?"

"I never said that," Jarod answered.

"But you admit you were not a law abiding citizen," Hawthorne countered. "You acted outside of legal authority."

"Only when I had to. I dealt with people who slipped through the system."

"There's a reason the system exists, Commander," Councilman Zoral stated.

"And it's a great comfort to the victims of the people who get away with their crimes," Jarod replied.

"I believe that will be all, Commander Jarod. You have provided all the testimony I need." Hawthorne looked to the Sergeant-at-Arms. "Call in Lieutenant Commander Meridina."

Meridina met the gaze of Councilman Palas, the Gersallian present, before taking her seat. Hawthorne checked records. "First off, Commander, I understand you possess psionic abilities?"

"I am a farisa - a mindwalker that is," she confirmed. "And as a swevyra'se I am capable of other things."

"I see. Well, I hope you understand if we have taken precautions." Hawthorne motioned to another figure, a Dorei man in simple garb. Meridina nodded to him and received one in reply. "Might I ask why you failed to detect the imposter on your vessel?"

"I do not go about casually mind-walking my subordinates," Meridina answered politely.

"I see. And there were no other warning signs?"

"I knew there was something unsettling, but I had no proper evidence. And I was not sure whom I should focus my concerns on."

"Yes, you arrested an Ensign Kyle Liton for hacking the ship's computers the morning of the LA33 operation." Hawthorne leaned forward in his seat. "Commander, according to testimony from Koenig personnel, you did not inform Commander Carrey of any concerns or suspicions over an imposter."

"I was not sure what we were dealing with. It would have been irresponsible to make accusations or statements without further evidence."

"Still, a simple warning to Commander Carrey to be concerned about Lieutenant Draynal could have prevented the incident from happening."

Meridina shook her head. "Or the Changeling would have slipped aboard another way. Or he would have murdered Commander Carrey and replaced him instead. The future is made of many paths, to insist on one path's outcome is foolhardy."

Hawthorne smirked. "I'm not here to debate Gersallian philosophy with you. Tell me, Commander, what is your precise relationship with the Aurora crew?"

Meridina looked at him for a moment, contemplating the question more than the honest answers she had. The agenda of Minister Hawthorne was clearly greater than the issue at hand. "I am their security officer. And I provide advice for them where their own experience lacks."

"Really? This includes showing them your... powers?"

"If you refer to Lieutenant Lucero, I am merely assisting her in mastering the basics of control so she does not endanger herself and others," Meridina replied delicately, eying Councilman Palas as she did so. "Any of my order would do the same."

"I see. Tell me, Commander, why you requested assignment to the Aurora?" Hawthorne held up a printout. "Because according to records, you accepted your commission for the explicit purpose of serving with the ship."

"I believed I could do the most good with them," she answered. "I am not sure what your concern is, Minister?"

"I will be asking the questions, ma'am," Hawthorne said bluntly, causing Palas to frown. "Commander, did any of your superiors in your... 'order' give you any command to join the Aurora?"

Meridina stared at him blanky. "Sir?"

"Did any of your fellow swevrassie..." Hawthorne's mispronunciation caused Palas to wince. "....give you an order to serve on the Aurora?"

"No, sir," she answered truthfully.

"Because I admit to great concern, Commander, at the influence you might have over this inexperienced crew," Hawthorne continued. "And whether you are prompting them to act in ways that follow your interests instead of those of the Alliance."

"I swear to you on my soul and my swevyra that I am not. Like them, I believe in the cause of the new Alliance, and I wish to help defend it," Meridina insisted.

Hawthorne glanced back to Davies, who shook his head. Meridina could sense his disbelief, his suspicion, and how it was infecting Hawthorne. Are they working together or is one working for the other? Meridina pondered at seeing this.

"Commander." Palas stood. "What are you going to do about Lieutenant Lucero? My swevyra is not very strong in connections, but I could feel her power. She should be trained by your order."

"I have informed Mastrash Ledosh, Councilman, I leave it to the Mastrashs of my order to make the decision on whether I should train her. To do otherwise would be inappropriate."

"I hope they have the wisdom to say yes," Palas said.

"Councilman Palas, I fail to see how these questions are in order," Admiral Davies remarked.

Palas fixed a look on him. "In terms of the fitness of the Aurora crew, they are far more relevant than your rooting about for mistakes to throw at them," the Gersallian countered.

This caused some mumbling amongst the Committee. Meridina sensed there was a growing tension, an obvious clash of interests and faction. "Does the Committee have any further questions?"

"Actually, we do, Commander," Hawthorne stated. "We have serious questions about several operations by the Aurora since the New Year began, and we must have answers...."

When Meridina left the committee chambers, she rejoined the others. "How did it go?", Julia asked.

"I spoke truthfully and weathered the Minister's more hostile remarks." Meridina shook her head. "There is great tension and fear in that room. This is more than the mere whim of Admiral Davies."

"I wish i knew what," Robert mumbled. "Who's next?"

"They recessed," Meridina said. "They will resume in an hour."

"It's going to be night-time before they're done." Robert looked out of the window, where the sun was getting lower in the sky. "We'd better get something to eat, I'm not facing Hawthorne and Davies down on an empty stomach."

Being a military base as well as a structure, it was not surprising that Defense Command had a mess hall. It actually had several, ranging in size to the large food court maintained on the fifth floor of the central structure to small break rooms with replicators on every floor.

Zack had decided on neither. He'd brought the Koenig officers with him to the tenth floor officers club. Meals were on high discount here and he wasn't interested in mess hall food or replicated food this time around.

After some eating and a talk with the others, Zack went to the bar to sit alone and think. He eyed the fine drinks lined up and wondered just why so much booze was allowed in a place where the defense of the Alliance was crucial. His eyes passed a fine bottle of tequila and a type of bourbon he knew his father had loved.

It was probably best that he had kept his soda filled.

"You'd be surprised how much booze we flag officers go through."

Zack heard the voice and turned to face Admiral Davies. The older man settled into the stool beside him. "If not for the committee meeting, I would recommend the spiced rum."

Zack turned his head. "Can I help you, Admiral?", Zack asked.

"I was going to ask you that, Commander," Davies replied. "I know we didn't get off to the best start on Harris Station, Commander. But I have to say that I was wrong. By the testimony of your officers and the logs from the Koenig, you performed admirably given the situation you were in."

"Oh? Because from what I've heard, you've been dragging my friends through the mud."

Davies shook his head. "Has to be done. There are forces at work that go beyond this botched operation." Davies put his hands together in front of him while leaning against the bar with his elbow. "Commander, you've got a lot of talent, I'll give you that. I've looked through your command decisions and I haven't found one thing you've done wrong as commander of the Koenig. You're the diamond in the rough here."

"Oh yeah?" Zack sipped at his soda.

"I think you have real potential to be a damn fine commander. I don't want to see that lost if you get dragged down with the rest of your friends."

"You're that sure the Committee's going to rule against them?", Zack asked.

Davies smirked. "I can't be certain, of course. But the testimony so far hasn't gone well for you and your comrades. And there are other factors at play."

"More than the fact we might be at war with the Nazis soon?"

"Yes and no. Because there's a pattern of behavior here that the people of the Alliance can see when it comes to Captain Dale and the others. And there are concerns about just why President Morgan granted them such high commissions and gave them the most advanced vessel in the Multiverse."

"Probably because we don't have special loyalty to any one state or group in the Alliance," Zack pointed out.

"A good answer. But that doesn't explain why the Aurora gets called in for operations like that mess with the Cardassians. Or this one. It's one thing to send them on survey missions or that trip to Adrana, another to put them on the frontlines of a fight with the Dominion."

Zack took another drink. "'They' and 'them'. You don't count me with them?"

"You clearly don't," Davies pointed out. "Which is good. Because this mess means that something's finally going to be done about it, and if you're with them, you'll get hit by it too. I'd hate to see that. I think you're fine where you are. Maybe even up for something more..."


"If you turn out as good as I hope you will, I can see you being a Captain in a few years. Perhaps even Captain of the Aurora yourself."

Zack smirked. "Ah."

"The important thing is that you need space to grow. You won't get that by being strapped to Robert Dale and that little band. I can get you re-assigned, put you somewhere that will let you be your own man. And from there, who knows? You could end up in my position one day." Davies laughed. "Better booze."

"Not too interested in that."

"Maybe." Davies leaned in. "But I know a boozer when I see one. Maybe you haven't started yet, maybe you have, but I know that eye. I'd hate to see it get to you, because it's the other thing that can wreck your career, even more than being close to the Aurora's crew when they are brought down."

"Don't." Zack tried to hide the fact that the words struck home; he had, after all, just pulled a Gerald Carrey-level bender, hadn't he? "My life's been hurt enough by booze."

"Spoken like a boozer." Davies stood and clapped him on the shoulder. "Keep in mind what we've talked about. I'd hate to lose good talent like you because you remained too loyal to your friends."

"One moment." Zack took another drink and looked up at him. "I might have problems with Rob right now, but the fact is that he and the others are still my friends. And I'm not going to forget what you've done to them. You and your friends even made Cat cry, and that honestly pisses me off."

Davies shrugged. "Yeah, we were rough on her. But we had to be. There's no room in this crisis for sympathy."

"Cat's a sweet girl, and she's brilliant," Zack continued. "She didn't deserve to get hammered."

"Maybe not. But let's be honest here. Caterina Delgado is a brilliant young girl, but she shouldn't be in a uniform and you know it. And when you think of it that way..." Davies continued walking off, but made sure to finish by calling over his shoulder, "...then maybe Minister Hawthorne and I are doing her a favor."

As he walked away, Zack finished his soda and peered back at the tequila. He could barely remember what it had been like to finally fall into insensibility, but it sounded better than being dreadfully sober and having to deal with his feelings.

He'd just ranted at Robert for putting a mission ahead of friends. Now Davies was asking him to do even worse. To put his career ahead of his friends.

The part that really made Zack long for the drink was that he wasn't sure he'd say no.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-05 09:25am

The crew of the Aurora followed Julia and Robert back to the Committee antechamber. "Are you sure? It's been a long day, you could go back to the ship," Robert asked.

"We're leaving together," Leo replied, speaking for everyone given the nods.

Heads turned as the Koenig crew entered the antechamber as well, Zack in the lead. They walked up as a unit and stood with the Aurora crew. Zack looked at Robert and Julia and nodded. "Well, let's get this over with, huh?"

"Yeah, that would be good," Robert agreed.

Julia nodded in agreement and briefly met Zack's eyes. Zack forced himself to smile. This was not the place to show how he was feeling inside.

The door opened. "Commander Zachary Carrey," the Sergeant-at-Arms called.

Hawthorne wasted no time, going straight into the heart of the matter when he opened questioning. "Commander, were you ever informed of the suspicions regarding Lieutenant Draynal being an imposter or some form of security risk?"

"I was not."

"How much did you know about the security problems on the Aurora?"

"I was informed about the breach of computer security and the spying software," Zack answered. "Commander Jarod and Lieutenant Navaez concurred that there was little risk on Koenig due to keeping its network separate, but we did a thorough search anyway. No problems with the database were found."

"Yet your vessel suffered sabotage?"

"Explosives were used to disable our cloaking device and warp drive," Zack explained. "And a malicious command was inserted into the communications system to lock out our subspace and interuniversal communications."

"I see." Hawthorne nodded quietly.

"Commander." Davies was now speaking. "What do you think of the decision to keep you ignorant of suspicions about Draynal?"

Well, here it was. Zack knew this was the question Davies had set him up for with tthe conversation in the officer club. "I think it was a mistake," Zack answered honestly.

"A negligent one?"

"No." Zack saw the look on Davies' face. This was clearly not what he wanted to hear. "I think he just made a mistake. A small mixup of priorities. But not negligence."

Davies let out a sigh and shook his head. "You're certain?"

"Yes. I think he was too worried about the Nazis getting their hands on Darglan data or technology. He thought it was more important to prevent than anything else." Zack swallowed. "To call it negligent or anything else is overthinking things. He just... he decided his priorities that way."

"I see." Davies looked to Hawthorne.

And here it comes, Zack thought.

Hawthorne made a show of looking over reports. "Commander, when did you decide to fire on the Reich destroyer?"

"After it shot at me, sir."

"Did it occur to you to negotiate first?", Hawthorne asked.

Zack blinked and stared at him for a moment. "Well, sir, I tried to talk, but they demanded I stand down and permit boarding. It was clear they were intending to seize my ship."

"You could have scuttled the Koenig," Hawthorne pointed out. "Or destroyed your sensitive technology beyond all chance of recovery."

"And then my crew would have been captured, sir," Zack pointed out. "Captured by Nazis, I'll add."

The Alakin Senator raised a gloved hand. "Surely they are a civilized people and would have treated your crew appropriately."

Zack turned his head slightly. Others were looking at the Alakin with extreme skepticism. "It's just as likely that they would have murdered most of my crew as 'inferior beings', Mister Senator."

"Surely you exaggerate," the Alakin said, persisting.

"He does not," General Gulinev growled, glaring across the circle. "They are monsters. And I do not blame Commander Carrey for keeping his crew out of their hands." His glare settled on Hawthorne.

Hawthorne seemed to get the message. "Yes, an understandable concern," he conceded. "But the fact of the matter is, Commander, that you may have started an interstellar war. This Alliance has not existed for a year yet and you may have just forced it into a conflict."

"I understand that, Minister, but I wasn't going to let my crew get taken by Nazis."

For the non-Humans in the room, a surreal sense of discomfort came at seeing the instinctive reactions of every Human in the room to that word. Revulsion and disgust, anger and fear, like the word itself was the foulest curse one could say. The other Human Councilman across from Zoral, Pensley, brought up a hand. "Commander, couldn't you have just evaded until repairs could be made and you could flee?"

"That would be putting my crew at risk, sir," Zack asked. "Not shooting back just means they're hurting you and not getting hurt back."

"But you've caused us to be facing a war," Pensley replied. "Started on your own initiative? And how do we know this wasn't planned?"

"Excuse me?" Zack blinked.

"Before the formation of the Alliance, you were in an organization of stateless radicals," Pensley charged. "We've heard that in testimony and seen it in the records. You repeatedly invaded sovereign countries that didn't live up to your ideals. How do we know this wasn't some kind of conspiracy to force the Alliance into a war against the Reich to continue your radical...."

"I call Councilman Pensley to order!" The Dorei Senator stood up. "These accusations are preposterous."

Even Hawthorne seemed irritated at Pensley, but he was continuing. "....continue your radical agenda? Are you expecting me to believe that you and your cohorts prompted this incursion of sovereign Reich space and fired on Reich ships without it occurring to you that it could force us to destroy the Nazi Reich, if we even can?"

"With all due respect, Mister Councilman, that is bunk."

"Is it? That's all you have to say about it? That it's 'bunk'? Because it doesn't..."

"Minister Hawthorne, please call him to order!", Senator Sriroj shouted.

Before Hawthorne could, Zack jumped to his feet and slammed the table in front of him. "Twelve of my crew died!," Zack shouted. "They were good men and women and they left behind families that loved them and.... and how could you think for one damn moment I'd get them killed to start a GODDAMNED WAR?!"

"You are out of order, Commander!", Hawthorne shouted in turn.

"I'm just supposed to sit here and..."

"In your seat, Commander, or I'll hold you in contempt!"

Zack frowned and sat down, fuming.

"Now Commander, I...." Hawthorne noticed Davies stir. "Yes Admiral?"

"I believe Commander Carrey's testimony has been adequate for the Committee's purpose," Davies replied. "Do any disagree?"

There were no nods, although not all outright agreed.

"Very well." Hawthorne nodded. "You're relieved Commander. Sergeant, please summon Commander Andreys."

Julia kept her spine straight and her face clear of emotion as she faced Defense Minister Hawthorne. "Did you ever consider informing Commander Carrey about Lieutenant Draynal?", Hawthorne asked.

Julia shook her head. "I wasn't told he was a suspect. I didn't know until Lieutenant Commander Meridina revealed he was a Changeling."

"Captain Dale kept this information from you, Commander? Despite being his First Officer and your responsibilities for the crew?"

"He had his reasons, I'm sure," Julia answered. "You would have to ask him."

Councilman Pensley spoke up. "Commander, I'm confused as to why this mission was proposed. We had no indications that the Reich even knew about that Darglan facility, correct?"

"That is correct, sir."

"Then why did your crew push this risky operation? You courted disaster and you succeeded," Pensley remarked. "You have brought us to the brink of war."

Julia didn't show any irritation at the Councilman's words. "Sir, we didn't know either way if the Reich could find that facility. What we did know is that we only had a small window of opportunity to move in, or we'd never find out what it was and remove the threat it posed in Reich hands. If we hadn't moved in and if the Reich knew to find it, then the first inkling we would have that they had done so was when their ships started jumping into our other universes."

"You don't know that would happen," Pensley insisted.

"No. But do you really think we should take that chance, Councilman? Having Nazis of all groups, loose in the Multiverse? Doing God knows what?"

Pensley frowned and nodded. "Point taken."

Hawthorne waited for him to sit back before resuming. "Commander, you were in the field during the operation on Abdis R4A1, correct?"

"Yes sir."

"So you made initial contact with the United States of that universe through their space-faring contact team SG-1?"

"I did."

"You are aware that technically they would fall under Contact Limitations, correct?"

Julia shook her head. "That is not how I read the regulation sir."

Hawthorne blinked. "Really? You have your own interpretation of regulations?"

"The regulation specifies a lack of interplanetary travel, sir," Julia remarked. "And no prior exposure to higher technology. But R4A1 Earth doesn't fit either. They have the Stargates. They've seen advanced technology. One of the members of SG-1 was not a baseline Human, he was a race called the Jaffa. Clearly Contact Limitation did not apply to them."

"During that mission, you engaged in hostilities with an alien power of unknown strength," Hawthorne asked. "Didn't it occur to you that the Alliance may not be capable of facing such a threat?"

Julia took a moment before she answered. "At the time, we were stuck on the planet. Even leaving would have revealed our presence to a hostile alien power."

"So you just decided to commence hostilities?", Pensley asked pointedly.

"We were trying to protect an innocent woman and her unborn child," Julia pointed out, a frown appearing on her face. "We were doing the right thing."

"By dragging the Alliance into a conflict?"

"The Goa'uld would attack us eventually anyway."

"You can't possibly know that...!", Pensley began.

"Councilman, please." Hawthorne smacked his gavel. "It's been a long day, and the Committee has more questions to address to Commander Andreys."

Pensley frowned and backed down.

"Commander, earlier this month you approved the use of the runabout Rio Grande to Commander Jarod. Did you know what he was going to do with it?"

"I knew he was going to go to his home world and look into the people he cared about," Julia replied.

"You are aware the Contact Limitations regulations extend to Earth of A4P5, correct?"

"I was, but I did not think Jarod would initiate any kind of contact as defined by the regulations, sir," Julia explained. "Anything he did there was done without my knowledge, although I do not believe he did anything wrong."

"Really?" This was from Davies.

"He rescued three people from a criminal organization, Admiral," Julia pointed out. "And he did it without alerting the wider world to our existence. I don't see how that is a bad thing."

"It shows a flagrant disrespect for regulations, Commander," Davies replied.

"With all due respect, sir, regulations permit exceptions to save life," Julia countered. "By doing so he was upholding the spirit of the Alliance's most noble intentions."

"We should have been consulted, Commander," Hawthorne existed.

"I'll keep that in mind for next time, sir."

"Are you being cheeky with me, Commander?"

"No sir," Julia answered promptly.

"I must say, Commander, I'm not impressed with your crew's behavior today. From where I sit, the Aurora has major discipline issues, and as First Officer that is your department," Hawthorne said. "This is a concern."

"With all due respect, Minister, my people do their jobs. And they do them to the best of their ability. The things being questioned in this Committee are being brought up as character assassination."

"Commander, I will not brook disrespect," Hawthorne warned.

"I didn't intend to disrespect you, sir," Julia replied. "But I will defend the crew from these complaints. They are groundless. No, the operation at LA33 didn't go as planned. Yes, we've provoked the Nazis. It couldn't be avoided. We tipped our hand the moment Aurora arrived in the vicinity. The Nazis would have known something was there and they would have searched for it too. And they might have found it. And that risk was too high." She shook her head. "And I'm honestly scared to death we'll end up in a war, but we have to face the fact that a war might be inevitable. I was there when we made first contact. They hate us and they'll come after us sooner or later. The best thing to do now is to prepare for it instead of pointing fingers!"

Hawthorne let her finish and took a moment to think. "Well-put, Commander," he conceded. "Before we go, I want to ask you some very sensitive questions."

"I'm at your service, sir," was Julia's humble reply.

"How much of a role does Lieutenant Commander Meridina play in the decisions of the Aurora crew?", he asked.

Julia remained quiet for a moment. "She... well, not very much, I have to say."


"Yes. Her place is security and she sticks to that, sir."

"So you and Captain Dale do not seek her counsel even on issues outside of ship security?"

Julia shook her head. "No more than we do any of the others, sir. Sir, what's...?"

Hawthorne seemed displeased, almost. "Did you allow a Mastrash of the Gersallian religious orders to tour the Aurora recently, Commander?"

"Yes, it was requested."

"Including sensitive areas of the ship?"

"Some, I suppose. Captain Dale handled the actual inspection, I merely arranged the quarters for Mastrash Karesl."

That seemed to get Councilman Palas' attention. "You had Mastrash Karesl on your vessel, Commander?"


"Why did you permit this, Commander?", Hawthorne asked. "The Gersallian orders have no authority to tour Alliance vessels."

"He was a visiting dignitary, sir. I followed proper protocol."

"I see." Hawthorne scribbled something down. "Last question. Who requested the tour?"

"Meridina, sir," Julia answered, becoming more and more suspicious of what was going on.

Hawthorne smiled. "I see. Well, thank you, Commander. You are dismissed."

Robert had expected to be called back when Julia came out, but the Sergeant-at-Arms hadn't appeared with her. He remained seated while Julia walked up, everyone gathering around them. "How did it go?"

"They're really interested in Meridina and the Gersallians," Julia remarked.

"I believed so as well," Meridina said. "I am unsure as to what their concern is, however."

Scotty nodded. "Aye. They dinnae know what they're lookin' for, so they're scroungin' fer anythin' they can find. Ah've seen it before."

"You couldn't get ahold of the President, Rob?", Julia asked.

"He refuses to talk to me," Robert said. "Whatever politics are going on, he thinks that being in contact with me would make things worse."

"Davies was telling me there was more going on," Zack said. Seeing their looks, he added, "He approached me in the officer's club during the recess. He was trying to get me to side against the rest of you."

"Did you?", Angel asked bluntly.

"Angel, that's not fair," Caterina protested. "Zack wouldn't say something to hurt us."

The look on Angel's face showed she wasn't so sure about that. Zack shook his head. "Whatever arguments I've been having with Rob, I'm not turning on anyone for that bastard. Especially not for someone who makes Cat cry."

Caterina smiled softly at him. "Thanks."

Robert walked away from them and looked out the window at the twilight sky. It would be dark within the hour. Julia stepped up beside him. "Are you ready for this?', she asked.

"No," he admitted. "I get the feeling everything they've hammered you and the others with was to gather ammunition against me."

"Well, from what the others said, Sriroj, Palas, and Zoral are on our side. And General Gulinev hates the Nazis enough that he might be sympathetic."

"Or he might be pissed at me for working with them at the first contact," Robert pointed out. He looked down at the Columbia River. Even in an era of faster-than-light starships and matter transporters, ships still moved along the river below. A cargo barge sailed quietly below. Shuttles flew in all directions around Defense Command, the setting sun glinting off of their surfaces. "You ever think we took a wrong step, Julie?"


"How did we go from helping people to running around in uniforms? I mean, this lifestyle, is it even something we wanted?"

"Maybe not originally," Julia conceded. "But it feels good to know we're still making a difference."

"Are we? I've probably started an interstellar war." Robert sighed. "Sometimes I wonder if we should have just stayed on New Liberty and made lives there. We could have left this to someone else."

"I suppose we could have." Julia shook her head. "But then we wouldn't be, well, us. Whatever happens, Rob... this is what we are, this is what we want to be. We all believe in this new Alliance and we want to protect it."

"Even if it means dying young?", Robert asked quietly. "Or if we have to send our friends to die?"

Julia reached over and took his hand. "Rob, this is the life I want. I... I like being a part of this." She prompted him to turn and meet his eyes. "Maybe I'll get hurt by it. Maybe it'll kill me. But if I gave it up now, I'd regret it."

"Yeah." Robert closed his eyes. "I..."

The door to the committee chamber opened. "Captain Dale," the Sergeant called out. "The Committee is ready to see you now."

"Well." Robert sucked in a breath. "Here we go..."

"Go kick their asses, Rob," Julia said, smirking. "We're all rooting for you."

Robert took his seat at the table facing the Committee and immediately noticed he wasn't alone in facing them. At a second table was Smith who gave him a blank look as he took his seat. "Captain Dale." Hawthorne checked over his notepad. "Captain, you were called before this committee to ascertain your actions regarding the Darglan facility found in System LA33, Universe S4W8. And going by the records and testimony we have seen today, I must say I am not impressed with your performance."

Robert remained quiet as Hawthorne eyed him, apparently waiting for a protest. When none was offered he continued. "You commenced a highly sensitive mission despite a grievous breach of security on your vessel. You withheld vital information from your subordinates. And because of your actions, nineteen personnel are now dead and we are facing a potential war provoked by your actions. Before this committee rules on your actions, I would like to hear your defense of your actions."

Robert nodded. "Well, sir, all I can say is that I made judgement calls. Scrubbing the mission at the stage we detected the security issues would have come too late to hide what was attempted from the Reich. They would have known we were up to something. They would have doubled their patrols and investigated the area themselves. They might have found the Darglan base there."

"We have heard that defense already, Captain," Hawthorne remarked dismissively. "I find the supposition of it unconvincing. Still, this does not explain your failure to inform your subordinates at the suspicions regarding Lieutenant Draynal."

"Are you saying I'm supposed to spread suspicions about other officers, sir? We didn't have any proof, nothing beyond Meridina's concerns that there was more to it. And despite her abilities, even she didn't know the truth of whether Draynal or Liton had done the deed." Robert shifted in his seat. "As far as I knew, we're not supposed to accuse a man of anything without proof of actual wrong-doing."

"So you defend the fact you didn't warn Commander Carrey?"

"No, I simply believe I have a viable explanation," Robert finished. "I know full well that I made mistakes. I should have told Commanders Andreys and Carrey. I accept full responsibility for that decision."

"And what of the Reich?" Pensley stood. "Captain, do you expect me to believe this is all a coincidence? You and your crew are composed of radicals who have repeatedly conflicted with other states before. Now you have violated Reich territory and destroyed their ships. They're going to want blood."

Robert frowned and nodded. "I know that, sir. If I could change my decisions I would have changed what I did about Draynal."

"So you say. But what I wonder, Captain, is if this isn't what you wanted?"

"Excuse me, sir?"

Pensley frowned. "Your history ever since you gained access to the Darglan technology is that of a militant radical. You provoke other nations with little regard for the damage you cause. In the past half year you've provoked the Goa'uld, the Cardassians, the Dominion, and now the Nazis...."

"That's ridiculous, I've...."

"...in short, sir, it was a disaster the day you and your radical friends were given anything but a swift trip to a jail cell," Pensley declared. "Every bit of testimony today has served to reinforce this in my mind."

Robert remained speechless with surprise at the intensity of Pensley's words. "Sir, I have not mindlessly provoked enemies as you claim, and these accusations are incredible."

"You serve a radical agenda, Captain, and I am out to dismantle it," Pensley pledged.


Robert was interrupted by Hawthorne's gavel. "I think that will be quite enough, Councilman, Captain. The Chair still has questions." When Robert's head moved to face Hawthorne he checked his notes. "Captain, did it ever occur to you that taking the Aurora into Reich space would only make things worse?"

"We'd confirmed Koenig was engaging," Robert replied. "The damage was done. I wasn't going to leave them behind."

"Yes. I believe you invoked a similar reason for entering the Gamma Quadrant in January, defying orders to maintain position at Deep Space Nine. This caused thirty-eight deaths amongst your crew and the near loss of the Aurora to Jem'Hadar ambush." Hawthorne put his hands together. "You nearly lost your entire ship for one vessel. A vessel that is, in the grand scheme of things, not valuable enough to justify this cost."

"On the contrary, sir, we needed every indication of Dominion capability we could get, and losing Koenig could have compromised the IU drive."

"I'll remind the Committee that under Captain Dale and his crew, Aurora fought off a dozen attackers," Admiral Maran pointed out.

"And I'll remind the Admiral that this was because Koenig and the USS Defiant arrived to assist," Davies retorted. "Without their arrival the Aurora would have been destroyed or captured by the Dominion."

There was murmuring among the assembled at seeing the subordinate counter his superior. Hawthorne ignored it. "When assigned to the mission to chase down Captain Potala of the Mayala, you kept the Cardassians and the Federation ignorant of your plans, creating a situation where the Cardassians suspected you of duplicity and nearly started the conflict you were supposed to prevent."

"If the Cardassians had known, my plans might have been compromised," Robert said.

"Why did you choose such a high-risk solution, then?"

"Because it seemed the best way to stop Potala with a minimal loss of life," he answered. "If we'd had to destroy Mayala, the entire crew would have been killed."

"Why didn't you recover what was left of Mayala?" This was from the Dorei senator. "You allowed the Cardassians to recover the debris."

"There was nothing in that debris that the technical schematics we provided wouldn't have told them," Robert pointed out.

"And who authorized that? Who told you to compromise Dorei starbird design to a potential foe?", the Senator demanded.

Robert looked to Maran, who nodded. "Admiral Maran and President Morgan."

The Dorei Senator glared at Maran. "Under what justification?"

"That we couldn't risk a war with the Cardassians. My orders were to provide any support insisted upon, short of providing them with IU drives," Robert answered.

"And why did you rescue the terrorist captives liberated by Potala?", Pensley demanded.

Robert felt an involuntary shudder. Thanks to Meridina he knew what those "terrorists" had endured in Cardassian custody. "The alternative would have been to blow them up. And since I'm not that confident in the Cardassian judiciary, I wasn't going to condemn them based solely on what the Cardassians claimed."

Robert scanned his eyes briefly over the committee. He didn't have Meridina's senses, but he could see there was something going on given the looks being exchanged. He and the others were getting pulled into a larger issue.

"Captain." Sriroj stood. "You initiated first contact with the Nazi German Reich, did you not?"

"Yes," he answered. "During a search for the pirates responsible for attacking the colony on Grodni III. We encountered a Reich cruiser, the Reich's Glory, under Captain Joachim Lamper. With Captain Lamper's assistance we found the pirate base in the heart of the Krellan Nebula and destroyed it."

"How many pirates did you take prisoner in this operation?", Hawthorne asked.

"None. They were all killed and their ships destroyed. Their carrier vessel was successfully seized by Captain Lamper's boarding parties, so any surviving pirates ended up in his custody."

"So for all we know, this was a Nazi operation," Gulinev grumbled. "They could have tricked you."

"The thought crossed my mind," Robert admitted. "But if it was a Nazi op, Lamper didn't know about it. His behavior and actions were sincere."

"You know this for a fact?"

"It's my judgement, yes." Robert shook his head. "Minister Hawthorne, members of the Committee, everything that has happened was because I made a judgment call. It's what the job calls for. Thankfully I've usually been right. This time... well, I was probably wrong. I'm sorry. And the consequences are grave. If you want to punish me for that, fine. But it's just the nature of what we do. When we're out there, on the firing line, we have to make these calls. We're going to mess some of them up. All we can hope is that we're right more often than not."

The Committee sat in silence for a moment. Robert stole a glance over at Smith.

There was a smile on his face.

Davies crossed his arms and nodded at Hawthorne. The Defense Minister turned back to Robert and a smug look came to his face. "Thank you, Captain Dale, for that enlightening little speech. But I'm afraid we can't simply accept 'it was a judgment call' with you. Not given your history. Mister Smith?"

"Yes, Minister?" The NSA man stood.

"For the pleasure of the Committee, please explain the circumstances in which you met Captain Dale."

"I met him in federal holding in Portland," Smith replied. "He had just been arrested by FBI agents supported by the NSA."


"For one thing, he was wanted in the state of Kansas for the suspected murder or manslaughter of Patrick Duffy." Smith coughed. "However, my agency's interest was in Mister Dale's participation in several recorded raids into other nations, in which prisoners of varying types were forcefully removed."

"Which nations were those?", Sriroj asked.

"Kimmist North Korea. The People's Republic of China. Castroist Cuba. And a few other nations of similar stripe."

"He forgot Burma," Robert said aloud. If he was going to be hanged for doing the right thing, he wanted full credit. "And I can't remember if it was before or after we met that we got several journalists out of Putinist Russia."

"Wait." Pensley raised a hand. "What is this about murder? Admiral Maran, didn't you vette this man first? Putting a wanted criminal..."

"President Morgan was fully briefed on what happened to Duffy," Maran replied. "And the investigation has since corroborated Captain Dale's claim of self-defense."

"Has it?", Pensley asked, still openly suspicious.

"It has, yes," Smith remarked.

Robert resisted the temptation to look at Smith. He'd just missed what seemed to be an opportunity to dig the knife in.

Pensley frowned and went to speak further, but he was waved off by Hawthorne. "Mister Smith, can you explain the consequences that Captain Dale's operations had for you at the time?"

"It was a diplomatic fiasco," Smith remarked. "Multiple countries were convinced he was an American agent and we could do nothing to dispel this. He cost the United States significant pull in several nations and nearly provoked a diplomatic break with China."

"In other words, he acted without any regard for the conflicts he caused."


"And he turned down the request of your government to take over operation of the Darglan Facility, even though it was on US soil?"

"He did," Smith said.

"Thank you, sir." Hawthorne looked to Robert. "Do you have anything to say about this, Captain?"

"I was trying to help innocent people," Robert answered. "I wasn't thinking about consequences at the time because I believed they should not overshadow the needs of the people suffering. It was later that I realized our activities had further consequences we were responsible for, and I urged the Facility Council to account for those in what we chose to do."

Hawthorne shook his head. "I think, Captain, that we have heard enough on this subject. Your record speaks for itself."

And here comes the railroad. Robert raised a hand. "Minister Hawthorne, I'm...."

"Before we adjourn, there is something else to ask," Davies said. "Captain, according to testimony, Commander Meridina was the only other person to have suspicions of Lieutenant Draynal."

"Yes. She brought them to my attention," Robert replied, wondering where this was going.

"And you chose not to reveal this to other officers?"

"Commander Meridina and I decided it was safest to keep the information from being shared. We didn't know how far our systems had been compromised."

Davies nodded. "Tell me, Captain, how often do you turn to Commander Meridina for advice in your decisions?"

"When it's a security issue," Robert answered. "I'm afraid I don't understand this line of questioning."

"I have concerns," Davies said. He ignored a look from Maran. "Commander Meridina is the only member of her religious order to be an Alliance officer. She has already been shown to abuse her position in your crew, such as giving Mastrash Karesl a tour without the approval of Command."

"He was a dignitary," Robert answered. "His tour was in line with any other tour we would give to a visiting dignitary. What are you getting at sir? What's going on?"

Pensley looked at Davies and then Robert. "We question, Captain, the chain of command you follow, and I know I'm beginning to wonder if it's being followed from Gersal instead of here."

"That's preposterous," Robert retorted. "I take my orders from the President of the Alliance and the chain of command he laid out for me. Commander Meridina's advice is only at my request, and regards security."

"And this issue of Lieutenant Lucero manifesting abilities like the Commander's? Did that just... happen, Captain? Because that seems to be more than a security issue."

There was an edge to Davies' words. Robert almost responded to it, but held off not wanting to give him another opening. "I'm not sure. But it was probably a good thing." He wouldn't even let himself think about what happened when he'd tried to help Meridina when she was feeling the suffering of the Maquis prisoners. "I'm not sure what the Committee's concerns are when it comes to Meridina, but she's done nothing wrong."

"So you say, Captain." Davies sighed. "It's clear to me, at least, that regardless of this issue you have major issues with your command."

"Agreed," Hawthorne said. "You're dismissed, Captain. The Committee will deliver its judgement in the morning."

When Robert stepped out of the committee room he felt spent. Everyone looked toward him and he shrugged. "I don't know what's going to happen," he admitted. "Hawthorne's definitely going along with Davies, but the rest... it could go either way."

Julia spoke up first. "What's got me worried is how other officials will take it, or the governments inside the Alliance. I thought the whole point of the Aurora being in our command was because we have no tie to any of the Alliance systems?"

"Apparently they already feel we're being co-opted by the Gersallian swevyra'se," Robert sighed. "Sorry, Meridina."

Meridina was shaking her head with sadness. "It is I who should apologize. I asked for assignment with you. I did not anticipate such animosity."

"They'll give a final decision in the morning." Robert motioned to the far door. "Given how late it's getting, I don't imagine there's any point in flying back to the Aurora tonight. I think they have spare officer quarters in the southwest tower."

"Or we could always go get rooms in Portland or something," Caterina suggested. "It's an awesome city."

"Awesomely weird," Angel said.

"That's the fun part!"

"No, it's probably for the best if we stay here," Julia pointed out. "I'll go find a personnel officer to arrange rooms."

As they went to file out, Robert heard the sound of a throat clearing behind him. He turned and saw Smith had left the room as well. He had his briefcase again and carried it along. "Captain, it's... interesting to see you again."

"Oh?" Robert tried to hide his bitterness. This man had threatened his cousin's liberty, his liberty, and in general looked completely untrustworthy. "I'm not sure I'd call it that."

"Well, I haven't changed much," Smith remarked. "Save for giving up tobacco finally. On the other hand, you're a different man now."


"Oh yes. You've learned quite a lot about responsibility since the last time we've seen each other." Smith set the briefcase down on the nearby bench. He turned his head and looked out at the lights of Command set against the dark night beyond. "Ironic to be in Portland again for this meeting. Always did like how crazy this city could be."

"To be honest, sir, you don't strike me as that type," Robert remarked.

Smith chuckled. "I suppose not. I have been careful about coming off as the stern man in government black, haven't I?" A small smile crossed his face. "Do they still have the Peter Iredale wreck? Or did it rust away finally?"

"I'm told it was preserved." Robert crossed his arms. "So you came all of this way just to, what, help them bury us?"

"As I said, young man, the United States is trying to stay on the good side of the United Alliance of Systems," Smith replied. "Don't blame me for that. Actually, you might want to blame yourself."

"Oh really?"

"Had you accepted my offer of patronage, we would have been involved with establishing this Alliance from the get go," Smith pointed out. "I would also point out that you would likely still have your Facility, since you would have never sent that nice young lady Miss Delgado out on a command mission she really wasn't qualified to perform. That's no slight against her, either. Caterina is a brilliant young lady. She's just not command material."

Robert said nothing. Smith was, much to his frustration, pretty right about that. "Of course, we might not have been in place to rescue Carlton Farmer's family," Robert pointed out. "And we wouldn't have rescued Nick and Scotty either."

"Maybe, maybe not." Smith shrugged. "Water under the bridge now. I have no intention of letting our rocky past interfere with the future. Regardless of our differences, I'm not too keen on seeing you stripped of your ship."

Robert almost replied with sarcasm and disbelief, but he held back. He had to admit that Smith had been quick to confirm the death of Duffy was self-defense.

"You're still one of us, after all," Smith continued. "You and your crew have quite the following back home. You haven't noticed it, maybe, given how busy you've been. Visiting for the funeral of Mister Carrey wasn't long enough."

"If we've got a following, how did we avoid getting swamped by reporters?", Robert asked pointedly.

"Good question," Smith agreed. "Maybe someone made sure that the media didn't put two and two together about Gerald Carrey's connection to Commander Carrey."

Robert couldn't hide his skepticism. "Really?"

"Maybe." Smith smirked. "I'd offer my hand, but I know you're not ready to shake it. I just want you to know that you've got friends back home who are watching out for you." He picked up his briefcase. "Good luck, Captain Dale, and many happy voyages to you and your crew."

The bunks given to them were small quarters for junior officers visiting from their normal places of duty. Six officers per room with set of desks, a replicator and common dinner table, and a common bathroom. At the central table, Zack looked at all of his subordinate officers. "It's been a tough day," he said. "And since I didn't sell Rob down the river for Davies, I'm just as likely to end up on the cutting block."

"I just can't believe that," Sherlily complained. "You've been a model commander for the Koenig."

"If they kick you off the ship, I'm going back to Sol service," Apley announced. "We did our job and we did it right."

"It's something political," Zack said, after which he sighed. "I'm lumped in with Rob now. And I don't regret it. I'm not going to sell a friend down the river even if I'm pissed at him."

"It's why we like you, Commander," Doctor Opani said with a smile.

"Thanks, Doc. Thank you all for standing with me. And if we make it out of this, well, I've had some thoughts, and I would like your input on them..."

A few rooms over, Robert was trying to sleep. He could hear soft sobbing from across the room; Caterina, by the sound of it. The day had brought back a lot of painful memories for her... and for everyone, really.

It was something to have all of those mistakes aired out like that. It made Robert realize how far they'd all come, how they'd matured and, perhaps, how far they had yet to go.

Sighing from inability to sleep, he got up and went to the replicator to get a drink and a fruit bar for a late night snack. When he went to the table he looked back and saw Locarno getting something himself. "Everything alright, Nick?"

"We won't know until tomorrow," Nick answered. Getting his own snack, an alien from from S5T3 that Robert didn't recognize, Locarno walked over and sat across from him. "It's gotten me to thinking about everything."

"The past." Robert took a bite.

"Exactly." Locarno sipped at his drink. "I've told you about Starfleet Academy, right? I remember explaining to the Facility Council at some point..."

"It was a past life," Robert replied. "Don't let it get to you."

"I can't just let it go." Locarno shook his head. "They trusted me. And I got Josh killed. All because I let my ego get ahead of my judgment."

Robert nodded silently. "Is that what I did wrong, you think? Let my ego get ahead of my judgment?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

"Yeah. Maybe I just wanted to be the one to accomplish that mission. I didn't want to come back into base and abort the whole thing. Then someone else would've gone in. Maybe gotten it right, maybe not, but it wouldn't be my responsibility." Robert took another drink. "Maybe that's my problem?"

"What?", Locarno asked.

"Trying to take on too much responsibility. Wanting to do everything." Robert closed his eyes for a moment. "When I look back, I get this feeling that maybe... maybe it's that I was finally getting control of my life back after losing my family and having the farm about to be taken. The Facility gave me a purpose. It let me focus myself."

"In Starfleet we're reminded that a good commander has to know when to delegate," Locarno pointed out. "Not that it's followed. Some captains had reputations for being control freaks. Others got reputations for delegating too much. Neither were supposed to end up going very far. Well, except maybe becoming an admiral."

Robert smirked and chuckled at that. Locarno did the same. "Yeah, I guess."

"If we walk away from this tomorrow, just keep that in mind," Locarno continued. "Trust us more. Don't be afraid to give us information, even if Meridina or Julia tell you not to. If you think it's the right call... sometimes you gotta make that call."

"Words of wisdom, Nick." Robert finished last of the fruit bar. "So, it's midnight, and we'd better get back to laying awake in our bunks."

"Speak for yourself, Captain." Locarno grinned. "I added sleep aids to my snack."

"Clever," Robert laughed.

The next morning everyone got up at roughly the same time. Julia took charge of making sure everyone got shower time in the three quarters granted to the combined crews and went last herself. Once in uniform nobody had the stomach for breakfast; with their fates being decided they went straight to the antechamber. And there.... they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As the day drew closer to noon with no call to come before the committee, grumbling stomachs finally got the better of everyone and lunch was sent for. Robert accepted a roast beef sandwich from Angel, who had insisted on making sure he got his food. "I thought Julia was supposed to be the mother hen?", he asked her while looking out the window. He gratefully bit into the offered lunch.

"I can be comforting too, you know," Angel said with a sly grin. "I admit I'm not the doting girlfriend type, but I can't have you going in there on an empty stomach."

"Let's just hope I keep this down, right?"

"You really think they're going to find against us?", Angel asked.

Robert shrugged and finished a bite. "I think Davies and Hawthorne are against us. So is Pensley. Gulinev, i can't begin to think about. And the rest are more scared about the possibility we're going to have an interstellar war than anything. Won't be hard for them to get into a 'blame someone mood'."

"And that blame being thrown at us," Angel said in a bitter tone.

"Yeah." Robert looked back at the door. "I just wish I knew what was going on. Is it really taking them this long to deliberate?"

"They're politicians," Angel mumbled. "Who knows...."

The door opened and the Sergeant-at-Arms emerged. "The Committee will see you all now," he announced.
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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-06 10:00am

They lined up together at the tables, Robert in the middle and flanked by Julia and Zack. There was no division between Aurora and Koenig personnel; they were mixed together, presenting a united front to the Committee.

As the line settled in Robert took the time to look them all over. The tension in the room was palpable. Everyone had worn and tired looks on their faces. Pensley was completely hostile and Hawthorne was almost glaring at Robert and the others as they stood ready to hear the Committee's judgment. Davies' expression was neutral. Robert didn't know what to make of that. "This Committee has reached a formal conclusion as to the operation concerning the Darglan database in System LA-33, Universe S4W8," Hawthorne announced. "Captain Robert Dale, we find that you acted broadly in line with your orders and the requirements of the situation, but we are entering a formal censure on your record for your failure to share critical security information with your subordinates."

Robert nodded. He knew he could expect no less.

"With the censure formally entered, we hereby grant leave for you and your crew to resume your posting aboard ASV Aurora and ASV Koenig," Hawthorne announced, with clear disappointment.

At that point Robert realized he'd been holding his breath. He let it out in a gratified sigh while smiles and cheering came from around him. Julia turned and hugged him.

The display of celebration clearly did not go well with Hawthorne or Davies. The former hammered away with his gavel. "I will have order in this chamber," Hawthorne insisted. "Captain, the Committee wishes to make it clear that we are going to be observing your actions very closely. We hope you recognize the second chance you are getting and act accordingly. Please do not give us cause to bring you before us again."

"Yes, Minister," Robert answered gladly, trying to keep a relieved smile from his face.

"You are all dismissed. The Committee is adjourned for the day." Hawthorne smacked the gavel one last time.

Everyone held back until they got to the antechamber, at which point Barnes was the first to let out a whoop of joy. Zack clapped him on the back, laughing and smiling with everyone else. "Aye, I told ye we'd beat 'em," Scotty said to Robert happily.

"Yes you did, Mister Scott." Robert clapped his hands together. "Alright everyone, let's get to the Susquehanna and head home."

"I'll call head to Hargert and make preparations for a celebration," Julia volunteered.

That brought more cheering as everyone began to leave. Robert noticed, out of the corner of his eye, Agent Smith walk by, briefcase still in hand. He nodded and winked.

Something about that wink made Robert feel very nervous.

A sound came from behind him, a guttural clearing of a throat. Robert turned at the exit and stood at attention as Admiral Davies walked up. Davies made him stand at attention for a second longer than usual before returning it. "At ease, Captain."


Davies' nodded stiffly. "Well done. You're heading back out there. If only..."

"If only what...?"

Davies already seemed to be reconsidering what he was about to say. "Captain, you have no idea what this victory of yours has cost the Alliance. Frankly I don't know how much you know..."

"Admiral." Robert shook his head. "You're not making sense."

"Pray I don't start making sense," he replied. "Or you might just regret what happened today. Now go out there and do your job, and do it right. Don't screw up this second chance, Captain, because next time nothing's going to save you from a court-martial." Davies turned and walked away at a brisk pace.

Everyone returned to the Aurora in time to settle in and get some work done. But this was just to pass the time for 1900 hours ship time. At that point, officers and crew entered the lounge at their leisure for the celebration dinner. Various drinks were served all around while Hargert made use of his unreplicated stocks for fine meals, borrowing from multiple cuisines to accommodate every taste, as evidenced by Caterina's squeal of joy at the "best Jello ever!"

Zack sat at the bar, joining every toast, nursing a soda the entire time. "More soda, Commander?" He turned and saw Albert looking at him. "Just soda?"

For one moment Zack thought about the bottles of tequila in his room and the thoughts in his head, of what he wanted to talk about tonight. He opened his mouth, preparing to ask for another bottle of tequila...

"Just soda," is what he actually said.

As Albert retrieved this soda Robert stepped up toward the front of the lounge and put his back to the windows looking out at spacedock. "Everyone, please!", he shouted.

"Alright everyone, quiet down!" Julia clanged a spoon against her glass. "The Captain has something to say!"

Quiet settled over the assembled. Dozens of faces looked at Robert, who took a drink of water first. "I know everyone wants to celebrate tonight over the Defense Committee's ruling, but there's something we can't forget." He glanced down at a PADD, but it was only a brief glance. "We all lost some comrades a few days ago. They died to stop a horrific threat from gaining the technology to threaten the Multiverse." He swallowed. "Crewman John DeSanto. Crewwoman Aisha Muniz. Crewwoman Beverly Grant. Crewman Mahmud el Fadil. Crewman 1st Class....." As he recited the name, eyes across the room closed and heads bowed as everyone paid homage to their fallen comrades.

Robert had spent the entire day memorizing the names. Every member of the Koenig and Aurora crews killed either by the Changeling or in combat against the Nazi ships. He'd made himself memorize that list; he owed that much to the dead.

The last name was not one who had died on the mission, but was nevertheless a comrade who had been slain. "Lieutenant Pagos Draynal." When he finished reciting the list, Robert lowered his eyes. "Lieutenant Draynal was a victim of the same menace that cost us other comrades earlier this year. It's hard to think that we spent months with his murderer walking amongst us like it belonged here. All while it had the blood of our shipmate on its hands. I hope his spirit has settled, knowing that we have defeated the monster who took his life and then stole his identity." He swallowed. "As for our other comrades. They died for the cause they believed in. And they died because I made the decision to send them into danger. It's possible they died because I did not share information I should have shared. I allowed myself to get distracted by the mission and didn't think things through, and for that I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I made a mistake. The Committee has censured me for that mistake, and they were right to. I will make sure to never make such a horrible mistake again, no matter what it means for our mission. You deserve the truth from me."

Robert scanned the audience. Some nodded in understanding. Others appeared to be less forgiving, but were not being openly upset. He knew he would have to rebuild their trust in him. "All I can ask of you is that we all, together, not allow our past mistakes to get in the way of what the future holds. We face the possibility of war with the Third Reich. And we have to count on each other if we end up in that war." He nodded to Julia, who picked up a glass of wine Hargert had quietly poured amongst others. Robert held the glass up, causing others in the crowd to do the same. "To us, the crews of the Aurora and Koenig. And to our future!"

"To the future!", was the common reply. Glasses of wine (and one glass of juice, in the hands of Caterina) emptied together.

"And now back to the celebration," Robert said. "I don't want to make Hargert stay here all night cleaning up leftovers." At that, there was laughter.

Zack was one of those laughing. He'd already nibbled on a plate, but he wanted to keep his stomach empty for what he was about to do. He got up from the bar and weaved into the crowd. Julia was with Apley and Magda, chatting with them about the Koenig's systems. "...glad to hear you got that sorted out, the inertial dampeners always gave me fits," Julia was saying when Zack made eye contact with her.

"Hello sir," Apley said. "Come to join us? Commander Andreys was telling us how good a pilot you are."

"Best man to ever fly Koenig," Julia declared.

Zack smiled and nodded. "Well, Ap here is giving me a run for my money these days." He kept his eyes on her.

Seeing the look Zack was giving, Julia smiled to the others and excused herself. They walked into a corner of the lounge and found one of the remaining tables. "I guess it's time we had a talk again?", Julia asked.

"While I'm sober, yeah," Zack answered. "I'm sorry for putting you on the spot like that. You deserve more."

"It's okay." Julia lowered her eyes. "I never realized, Zack. I mean, I always saw you as just hitting on me because, well, you're Zack Carrey and I'm an attractive woman."

"Not just attractive. Beautiful. Beyond beautiful. Aphrodite is jealous," Zack insisted.

"Flatterer," Julia replied with a smirk. "I just want to know... how much of that was the tequila?"

"None of it." Zack shook his head. "I meant every word. The only thing the booze did was loosen my tongue. I couldn't hold it anymore."

"I see." Julia breathed in and leaned forward on the table, putting her hands together. "I don't know what you want me to say, Zack."

"Well, in my dreams, you'd admit you loved me too and we'd talk about our wonderful future," Zack half-joked, since a part of him really wanted that to be the outcome. "But I know that's not your answer."

"Yeah," Julia admitted. "I.... you're a friend, the best. But not that way. I'm sorry."

"And it can never be that way," Zack remarked.

"I...." Julia sighed. "I don't see how, no. I just don't see it."

Zack nodded even as his heartache grew suffocating. "Yeah. Kinda figured that. Well, thanks for being honest, Julie."

"What are you going to do, Zack?", Julia asked. "I'm not the only woman out there."

"You're the one I'd give anything for," he answered. "Anything. But that's me, and I'll just live with it. Don't know what'll happen, but I'll get to it when it comes along." Zack stood up. "I've got some paperwork to catch up on. I'll be by tomorrow with a final draft of my AAR and signed requisitions for the repairs, okay?"

"Yeah, okay," Julia said quietly.

Zack nodded and walked away.

For a moment Julia just looked at her glass. When she looked up, she saw Robert and Angel standing together. Robert's arm was crooked around Angel's back and her arm was intertwined with it. They drank from each other's glasses and stole a little kiss in the process.

A part of Julia ached. It almost felt like betrayal even if it was nothing of the sort. Except... it was, wasn't it? Her mind flashed back to the two of them, battered and bruised and so very alive, beside the collapsed mound on his family property and invigorated by their escape from the Darglan Facility before it blew up. She remembered the enraged Dalek that chased them, the final words with poor Control as he helped them escape the Facility he was bound to, and that tumble as the mound fell out from under them.

She remembered Robert's playful grimace as she hugged his broken ribs.

And the kiss. Not just any kiss. One she had unknowingly longed for her whole life and which, at that moment, she gave to him without reservation, without any restraint. The sense of him returning it with equal passion to her own... at that moment, it had truly felt like the world had strangely righted itself.

But that was then. Now... now he was back with Angel. Again. And she was alone.

"Maybe Zack's not the only one who needs to move on," she murmured to herself as she wiped the tear that came from her right eye.

Zack stepped into his quarters and walked up to the table where the two bottles of tequila remained. He picked up the one Albert had given him and took a shotglass. All the while, his heart continued to twist feel like it was going to fall out. For all that he had expected confirmation of what he knew to be true... it still hurt to have that door slammed close on him.

Still, Clara Davis had been right. It was something he had to know. He knew it now. He hated it. It hurt. But the uncertainty was gone.

He tipped the bottle enough to put a little tequila in the shot glass. He picked it up and brought it up to gulp... and at the last moment held back. He looked at the glass and the liquor that was within it. Is this really what I want to be? Get hurt and crawl into the bottle?

No! NO! I am better than this!

He angrily threw the glass and watched it shatter against the wall, spilling its contents out. He picked up the tequila bottles, one in each hand, and went straight to the bathroom where he poured them into the drain. "I'm not becoming this," he muttered as he did. "This was your demon, Dad, not mine. No, not going to do this." Tears began to flow from his eyes as the final contents of one of the bottles gurgled out. "I don't care how much it hurts." Once the bottles were empty he put one in the replicator to be reclaimed and kept the one his dad had given him. He put it up on the shelf. "I'm not you, Dad. I'm going to face my pain. I'm going to deal with it," he swore. "I'm going to... deal... with it..."

Zack couldn't hold it back anymore. "It's not fair," he sobbed. "Why can't it be me? Why can't she love me? It's not fair! It's... not...."

He knew he had paperwork to do. But he couldn't help it. He collapsed into the couch and began crying.

Robert was in his office the next morning going over the repair orders when Zack entered carrying a note tablet. "Hey, got that paperwork for Julie?", Robert asked him.

"Yeah," Zack said. "But I've got this for you, Rob."

"Oh?" Robert took the tablet. His eyes scanned it. As he read the words, his mind began to rebel over what he was seeing. He looked up. "Zack.... what... why?"

"Davies is an asshole and I was never going to side with him against you, but he said something that I'm agreeing with. I need space to grow, Robert."

"This..." Robert shook his head. "Why? I'm sorry about the Draynal thing, but I don't see why..."

"I need space, Rob." Zack sat down across from him. "I need... breathing room. A chance to grow on my own. To stop following you and the others around like a lost puppy."

"Zack, you're not..."

"Hold on, let me finish," Zack insisted. "I've been adrift for years, Rob. Everyone knows that. And if this incident's taught me anything, it's that I need to be my own man. I need to get out on my own. The Koenig is the only thing I have going for me right now."

"And what about your crew?", Robert asked. "Are they okay with this?"

"I asked the others a couple of nights ago and they agreed." Zack smiled a little. "They're looking forward to some extended operations."

Robert sighed and put the tablet down on his table. "Zack, I... are you really that sure of this."

"As sure as anything in my life," Zack vowed.

"It's possibly you'll never be re-assigned to us," Robert pointed out. "If I process this and...."

"I understand. But please, do it. Don't make me beg or go to Maran or anything. Trust me."

Robert looked back at the tablet and drew in another sigh. "Finish one more mission with me, and I'll do it," he finally said. "Just one, because I'll need the extra ship and it'll take too long to get another assigned that can fit in our bay."

Zack pursed his lips. "Yeah, one mission. Sure. But we're already getting one?"

"Later today. Admiral Maran's coming aboard. Apparently it's something that came up after we went off to LA33." Robert put the tablet into his desk drawer. "We're due to see him in the main wardroom in four hours. Bring your staff."

Zack nodded. "Sure, I'll do that."


Meridina returned to her quarters for the first time in days. She had an hour to get ready for Admiral Maran which granted plenty of time for her to do what she needed. There was paperwork, of course, but more important than that...

After several button presses at her main computer system in her quarters, Meridina was treated to the image of Mastrash Ledosh appearing on her screen. "Mastrash," she said politely. "You have heard the good news?"

"I have. It is good to know the Committee showed wisdom," Ledosh answered.

"Yes. I am afraid my presence made things worse. There are those who believe our order is wielding influence over this ship and the Alliance."

"There are always those who fear things they don't understand. We will show caution and patience with them. But I'm sure you called over another matter." Ledosh nodded and smiled. "It took me some time with the Council, but they have agreed to accept Lucy Lucero's training by you."

Meridina smiled. "Excellent news."

"Just be careful, Meridina."

"I will be, Mastrash. Mi rake sa swevyra iso."

"Mi rake sa swevyra iso, Meridina."

Everyone was assembled when Admiral Maran entered. "Hello everyone," he said, smiling slightly. "I'm glad you're still here. I think this is a mission that requires your expertise."

"What is it, Admiral?," Julia asked.

Maran pulled out a data slip and put it into the wardroom's main display slot. A starmap with the label of N2S7 appeared. The extent of Dorei and Gersallian space was visible on the edge of the map. "Years ago, when Meridina first visited the Facility, the Facility's data systems provided her with astrographic coordinates that listed the location of a 'prize' that the Darglan left for the Gersallians."

"Oh, yeah, I remember that!", Caterina said, eagerness in her voice. "It was this system with a blue star. It was months away from the frontier."

"Admiral, have you actually sent expeditions that far?", Meridina inquired.

"Unmanned long range probes only," Maran answered. "And we have quietly re-directed colonization efforts in this direction with the help of the probe findings."

"We could make it in a few months at maximum warp," Locarno said, noticing the edge of the map. "Although it would put us pretty far from support."

"What kind of mission are you looking for, Admiral?", Julia asked. "Exploration or...?"

"Well, we would like you to scan systems en route to the area," Maran said. "But no. Rather, we believe we have a first contact mission in store for you."

Everyone looked at each other. "A first contact mission, ye say?" Scotty grinned. "Aye, havnae had one of those for a while."

"I'm aware of that, Commander Scott. But we believe you are well-suited for this given your prior experience with first contacts. Such as our own." Maran smiled and nodded.

"So the probes have found evidence of a race out that far?", Robert asked.

"Yes," Maran answered. "Long range probes identified ships moving though these star systems." He put his finger to an area. "At least two distinct kinds. We don't know what the difference is so hopefully you'll find out."

"Hrm, two weeks at cruise warp, Mister Locarno?", Julia asked.

"At least twelve days," Locarno confirmed.

"Aye, some good practice fer my engineers tae learn endurance runnin'," Scotty said. "A chance tae stretch th' lass's legs a bit."

"Admiral, do we know anything about them? Any intercepted radio communications?", Angel asked.

"One probe did pick up an old transmission at sublight," Maran confirmed. "At least a month old by the time the probe flew past." Maran reached over to the controls and hit a key. "It's military of some sort so it was encrypted. And the signal seems to have degraded at the range the probe picked it up."

"And untranslated," Julia said. "So I'm not sure..."

"Actually, Commander, no," Maran said. "It didn't need translation. It's in our language databanks."

"Which language?", Meridina asked.

Maran had a bemused look on his face. "By our systems.... Human English."

Everyone stared in silence.

"Here's what our computers managed to decrypt so far." Maran hit another key to bring up the prompted area.

"...sweep is clear?" It was a male voice, although the accent wasn't easy to tell due to the static in the line.

"....no.....clear.... land, Galactica Actual?"

"This... Galactica..... landing...."

Maran switched off the recording at that point.

"Galactica?," Jarod asked.

"Long range sensor probes confirm that this ship is part of the fleet moving through that area," Maran said. "To find actual Humans out that far, Humans who may be indigenous to our universe, is extraordinary for my people and the Dorei. President-General Princess Syrina and Director Anjila requested President Morgan send an expedition to make contact. We want it to be you."

"Humans from N2S7?! This is awesome," Caterina squealed. "This is beyond awesome! The idea that there are Human colonies out that far...!"

Robert nodded. "We're glad to take the mission, Admiral. We're due to leave spacedock tomorrow. And we can finish Koenig's repairs on the way."

"Good to see you're in high spirits over this mission," Maran stated. "I'll inform the President immediately. Just remember, we don't know what these people are like or what the other force in the area is like. Be careful out there."

After Maran stepped out, Robert stood up. "Okay everyone, we're due to leave tomorrow and we're going to be out of port for over a month, so make sure you've got everything stocked that you need stocked. Let's get to it!"

They all filed out of the wardroom.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby jayel » 2014-09-06 04:42pm

Steve wrote:"Actually, Commander, no," Maran said. "It didn't need translation. It's in our language databanks."

"Which language?", Meridina asked.

Maran had a bemused look on his face. "By our systems.... Human English."

Shouldn't it be Greek?

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Borgholio » 2014-09-06 09:46pm

I'm not aware that it's established they speak Greek anywhere in Canon. I think for the sake of storytelling it's just easier to say they speak English, since that's what we hear and see in writing on screen.
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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-07 12:29am

It also will make sense when, later in the series, I reveal the UF take on the origin of the Kobolian civilization.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Borgholio » 2014-09-07 12:31am

Steve wrote:It also will make sense when, later in the series, I reveal the UF take on the origin of the Kobolian civilization.

Looking forward to it. :)
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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-07 03:59am

If only people liked this fic as much as they like my utterly self-indulgent plot bunny over on SB.... :? :|
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-09-07 01:50pm

Whilst I'm thoroughly enjoying this fic, and I'm glad to see BSG appear, I'm always slightly dissapointed when people use the new BSG and not the old one. Oh well, I'm sure Steve will do it justice in his usual impressive style :D
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“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-08 02:05am

Eternal_Freedom wrote:Whilst I'm thoroughly enjoying this fic, and I'm glad to see BSG appear, I'm always slightly dissapointed when people use the new BSG and not the old one. Oh well, I'm sure Steve will do it justice in his usual impressive style :D

In the original version of this fic from 1999 to 2000, someone on SB who liked it was actually writing their own Officially Approved side story that would have had the crew meet the oBSG group. He never finished it though.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-09-08 12:54pm

That's a shame, there are far too many promising and enjoyable fics that never get finished (yes, I am fully aware that I have three unfinished fics up on this very site that I am still tinkering with occasionally).
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-09 09:44am


Ship's Log: 1 June 2641; ASV Aurora. Captain Robert Dale recording. We have arrived in the target area to begin our search for the Human vessel called "Galactica". I'm pleased to report that the Koenig has completed repairs and will be joining us and the runabouts in a search pattern.

In the weeks we've spent coming out this far, I've been wondering just what kind of people we'll find out here. With the Earth of this universe a radioactive ruin we know they are the descendants of survivors of some kind, but we know nothing about their culture or society except that they still speak English. We have to be ready for anything.

Robert sat alone in the crew lounge with a plate of replicated hash browns and sausage with an apple. He sipped at the orange juice and took another bite while reading over one of the most recent examinations of N2S7's wrecked Earth. Earth had been a ruin for millennia according to this, with nearly three thousand years being the estimate for the atomics that ruined the world. The early space-faring Gersallians even detected the atmoic detonations.

"Hey, reading anything interesting?"

Rob looked up and watched Tom Barnes sit across from him, a bowl of cereal and some mashed Gersallian breakfast fruit. "Hey Tom. Looking for another day of work?"

"Tell me about it. Thirteen days at Warp 9.2? Every system is getting regularly checked over."

"I've noticed the reports," Robert remarked, still staring at his notepad. "Scotty's keeping you working?"

"Obviously," Barnes remarked. He shoveled some cereal into his mouth and gulped it down almost without chewing. "This is the longest we've ever run the warp engines continuously. We've had a few issues with it. Looks like the Aurora wasn't the marathon runner we hoped she was."

"We've never had to run the warp drives this long before." Robert tapped the notepad to shut it down and focused on his breakfast.

"Well, man, it's always nice to get where we need to go fast, right?" Barnes chuckled and dug his spoon into his cereal again. "We'll probably need a full yard overhaul to get all the kinks out, though." He looked up and saw Robert staring into the notepad. "Hey, this is Defense Command to Captain Dale, anyone home?"

"Huh? Oh." Robert moved the notepad away. "I'm just reading up on N2S7's Earth."

"You mean the one that was blasted to atomic rubble thousands of years ago?", Barnes asked bluntly.

"Yeah. I'm just wondering what these Humans will be like. I mean, they still speak English, but who knows how different they are?"

"We'll find out soon enough with Cat on sensors," Barnes remarked. "I think she's been bouncing non-stop the last two weeks."

"We're in a barely-charted reach of space, of course she is."

"Heh." Barnes took a bite of cereal. "So you're just letting Zack go? Just like that?"

Robert set down the fork-full of hashbrowns. "Not my choice," he finally said.

"Really? C'mon man, have you even tried talking him into not going?"

"I have. It didn't work." Robert sighed. "Zack's committed to going out on his own."

"And you're just going to let him do it?", Barnes asked, unable to hide the accusation in his tone.

Robert thumped his cup down on the table. "What do you want me to do, Tom? If I tell him no he's just going to send the request up the ladder! And then I won't be able to make sure he's at least getting an assignment he'll do well at!"

"Can't you get Maran to block it too?"

"I'm not sure. Not over something like this. Just because I might want something doesn't mean Maran or President Morgan will give it to me. I'm the subordinate, after all." Robert sipped at the juice. "If you want to talk him into staying, fine. Go ahead and try. But so long as his request stands, I have to let him go."

Barnes grumbled inaudibly. "I just don't want him ending up under some asshole who gets him killed."

"Nor do I," Robert remarked. "But it's his choice." Robert looked down at his multidevice. "I don't want to fight about this, Tom. I've done all I can and it's not enough. Now we'd better get breakfast wrapped up, staff meeting's in an hour."

"Yeah yeah..." Barnes sullenly went back to work on his cereal.

Julia was taking her breakfast in her small office, going over personnel reports in the meantime. She looked up at hearing the door chime go off. "Come in."

Zack stepped in holding a notepad. He set the tablet device down on her table. "I finished the personnel list. The replacements I've gotten from the Aurora are getting their bunks today, Apley will see to it."

"That's good," she answered, smiling thinly. "I'm glad we got your crew back up to full strength."

"I wish we had more time to train them," Zack remarked. "But my people will get them up to speed no matter what."

"I'm sure of that. You've got a good crew." Julia's thoughts briefly went to her command of the ship a couple of months before, when Zack was stuck to the machine on Adrana and she had to command the Koenig to investigate a raid on an Alliance colony. "So..." She put her hands together on the desk. "Is it me?"

Zack didn't have to ask what she meant. He figured this conversation was coming the moment he'd made his decision. "No, I'm not leaving because of you," he said. It wasn't a lie but, of course, it wasn't entirely the truth either. "I lived for years knowing you didn't share my feelings. The only thing that's changed is that you know what I feel."

That made Julia swallow. "Yeah. Listen, Zack... I..."

"You don't have to say anything else," he insisted. "Honestly, Julie, I think Davies was right about one thing. I need the space. I've been following you guys around ever since my baseball career tanked and I've got to move on my own. It's not because of you or Rob or anyone, it's just that..." Zack stopped and struggled for the right wording. "...I need this, Julie. I need to get on my own for a while."

"It might not just be for a while, Zack," Julia pointed out. "You might never get re-assigned to the Aurora."

"Then I don't, but I'd rather try."

Julia saw she wasn't going to convince him and took in a breath. She felt like this was her doing, that he was doing this to get away from her in particular because she had... what, been honest with him about her feelings? Yes, that was it, and it was just a bad situation all around. She couldn't blame him for it, but she couldn't blame herself either.

"Then... just take care of yourself, okay?", she said, giving in.

He smiled and nodded. "You know I will."

As he left, the second thought in her head was And stay away from the tequila. She looked to the time and went back to work, knowing the meeting was just half an hour away.

Undiscovered Frontier
"The Human Condition, Part 1"

The command crews of the Aurora and Apley were assembled in the Conference Room at the right time. Robert nodded to Jarod, who opened the meeting. "We've reached the general area that the long-range probes indicated for Galactica's course through this region of space," he said to everyone. "We already have long-range sensors actively scanning for any trace of them."

"'Tis goin' tae be like lookin' for a micro-fracture in a warp assembly," Scotty muttered. "I cannae give ye any better on th' sensors, sir."

"I'm more concerned about our warp drive status, Mister Scott," Julia said.

"Ye dinnae need tae worry about a thing, lass. We've had a few wee issues from th' constant run, but that's just givin' her more breakin' in. A little yard work when we get back tae dock an' me bairns will be better than ever."

"To get back to the search, Mister Scott's right about how hard it is," Locarno said. "The search pattern could take weeks to fully cover everything on their projected course."

"Which is why we're setting up the net. Koenig and some of the runabouts will launch and take up part of our search patterns." Robert looked to one side of the long table. "Jarod, will we have any issues with maintaining a real-time sensor connection between the ships?"

"There will be some time delay at longer ranges, especially for data coming from the runabouts," Jarod answered. "We can get around that by dropping signal boosters at regular intervals."

"A good thing we stocked up on those," Zack said.

"Which runabouts will we keep in reserve?", Julia asked. "Are we really going to commit all of them?"

"The more we have, the better the net," Jarod pointed out.

"Exactly my thought," Robert said. "Put them all out. Six man crews. Even the St. Johns."

Julia nodded. "Scraping together the crews is going to mess with department scheduling, I'll make sure the department heads know what's going on."

"Jarod, make sure Lucy's ready, she'll be in command of the runabouts from the Rio Grande."

Meridina looked up. "Captain, I would request that I join her on the Rio Grande."

"Is this about that training?"

"Yes. She is still very early in it, she will need my presence," Meridina answered.

Robert gave Julia a look. Julia shrugged lightly, as if to say 'You're the boss'. "Alright. Commander Kane, I'd like you to coordinate with Meridina's assistants on ship security."

"Of course, sir," Kane pledged.

"Do we have any idea of what kind of superluminal drive they have?", Julia asked. "It'd help with the search pattern."

"Nothing definite," Caterina answered. "I went over all of the probe records, the probes have picked up bursts in subspace but nothing compatible with a warp drive."

"What about a hyperdrive? Like the Goa'uld have?"

She shook her head. "If they had something like that it'd be showing up on sensors already. This is something localized. I've got some theories, though."

"Oh?", Julia asked.

"Well, there's a few ways to go faster than light," Cat pointed out. "Warp drive is one of the easiest ways. Goa'uld hyperdrive accesses subspace directly, that's why it's so fast. And then there are mass effect fields and the Mass Relays... actually..." Caterina activated the hard-light keyboard for her point of the table and began hitting keys. The main monitors shifted to show readings. "This is a compiled sample of the subspace bursts we're picking up," she explained, showing one reading. "And this is the result of a ship activating a Mass Relay."

Side by side, the two readings were clearly distinct, but Robert and the others noticed not completely distinct. "Aye, I see what ye mean, lass," Scotty said. "Th' principle is different, but look at that profile."

"Are you saying these ships are carrying their own Mass Relays, Cat?"

"Uh, no," Cat answered Julia. "The effect is all wrong. Mass effect fields don't have those ripples in the Groenitz-Hallen bands."

""And the energy profile's still off," Jarod added. "The similarities are the result of the burst sending mass through the subspace domain in a single pulse. I would actually suggest their drive system is some kind of jump drive. Point-to-point, I mean."

"The Darglan had knowledge of those kinds of drives," Caterina confirmed. "They just never used them."

"So we're not going to find them at warp?" Robert sighed. "Well, that makes the hunt harder."

"Yes, but if we can get a bead on where they are, we would have a sphere of space that we would know they were inside. Then the trick is to find out how long they have to go between jumps."

"Well, upload those energy bursts into the runabouts and Koenig," Robert ordered. "Nick, confer with Jarod over the probe records and see if you can find us any point these ships were seen at. We'll use that to start our search pattern."

"Will do," Locarno answered.

"Everyone's dismissed."

Robert went to his ready room off the main bridge after the meeting. It was something Carlton Farmer had adapted from Starfleet when he built the Aurora and Robert found it useful during those times he had to combine a bridge watch with paperwork. For now he sent off a quick report through subspace to be relayed to Admiral Maran, detailing they'd arrived at their target site and would commence the search.

After that he took a moment to look over reports from S4W8. Admiral Lithgon had been giving him regular updates since they'd set out. For all the good it did (and Robert didn't know how much that was), Lithgon had sent a letter to the Defense Committee supporting his decisions over the LA33 mission. After considering the situation for the moment Robert moved his fingers over the controls and opened an interuniversal comm line to the Liberty, Lithgon's flagship. After a minute Lithgon's face appeared on his monitor. "Captain Dale. Any luck on your mission?"

"We're commencing the main part soon." Robert took a breath and settled his thoughts. "Sir, anything new?"

"We've had reports of Reich activity along the periphery of the Krellan Nebula," Lithgon answered. "Several of their battle squadrons have been deployed. I've moved the Fourth Fleet to our side of the Nebula in case they are planning something. So far they've refused all attempts at contact."

"I see. As important as my mission is, sir, I wish I were there. If a war starts it's my fault."

"Don't think like that, Captain. You did your mission under adverse circumstances. Keeping that technology from Reich discovery was worth the risk. Don't doubt that." Lithgon's clipped Commonwealth accent sounded soothing over the communication channel. "And if it comes to war, we'll hold the line."

"Of course, sir. Aurora out."

"Godspeed, Captain." Lithgon disappeared from the screen.

Robert barely had time to look at paperwork for the door chime sounded. Julia walked in and he motioned to a seat for her. "I've made the personnel arrangements. We should be ready to launch in an hour."

"Good. The sooner we settle this the sooner we can be free for other duties."

"You're thinking of S4W8?"

"Yes." Robert lowered his head. "It's my responsibility, Julie. Mine. I mean.... a war because of my decision, how do I live with that?"

"You accept it happened, that it's outside your power."

"Was it?"

"Now's not the time to doubt yourself, Rob," Julia said, her tone a little harsh. "If you start thinking that way you're going to make worse mistakes."

"I suppose. It's just..." Robert shook his head. "Who am I to get to make these kinds of decisions?"

"Someone with a duty, who understood the mission." Julia put her hand on the desk. "I'm going to tell you right now that if it had been me in that chair, I would have done the same thing. I would have launched the mission. It had to be done, you can't get around that. So stop moping about it."

The heat in her voice made Robert look up at her. "Tough love?"

"No. Tough love is when I smack you in the head for this self-pitying horsecrap," Julia responded.

"Yes Mom."

Julia crossed her arms. "And don't 'Mom' me."

He gave up at that point. "Point taken, Julie. I've gotten it out of my system. Now I'll get to my paperwork. Damned paperwork."

"Don't make me get the soap for that potty mouth," Julia teased.

He responded by winking and smirking at her.

The Aurora came out of warp near a solar system with no habitable planets. Everyone was on the bridge now. "I'm picking up trace readings," Caterina said. "It looks like there was a subspace distortion here a few days ago consistant with the burst effects w've been seeing."

"As good a place to start as any," Robert remarked. "Jarod, we're good for launching."

"Yes sir." Jarod pressed a key on his board. "Opening bay doors."

At the back of the neck, where the primary hull flowed downward to the top of the shorter drive hull, the bay doors set into the neck slid open one by one. Koenig detached from her berth under the expert piloting of Creighton Apley under Zack's direction. The smaller attack starship cleared the dock and tilted "upward" compared to the Aurora. The Koenig moved across the bridge viewscreen and, with the flash of its nacelles, it elongaged and disappeared in a burst of white light.

After it had launched, a dozen more craft surged from the rear of the ship. The Rio Grande led the way, followed by the Susquehanna and the other runabouts of varying class. Each went out on a different vector and warped away.

"All ships are away. Communications network up and running," Jarod noted.

"Deploy the comm buoy," Robert said. "And then take us out on our next patrol point."

"Yes sir."

A single comm buoy launched from the aft torpedo tube, deploying as the Aurora moved past. A moment later the Aurora turned in space and warped away as well.

In the living area of the Rio Grande, Lucy grimaced and forced herself to focus on the weight in front of her. It levitated in mid-air in the grip of the power surging inside of her. It really wasn't that hard.

It was doing it while upside down and holding herself up with one hand that was the hard part.

"Keep your focus, Lucy." Across from her Meridina was doing the same thing. Both were in exercise uniform wear; sweatpants and sleeveless sweatshirt with their branch colors of biege for Lucy and brown for Meridina respectively. She was holding a larger object, a toolbox, with barely any effort. Lucy found that unfair, as the notepad computer she was trying to levitate wobbled in her "grasp", threatening to fall.

"I'm trying," Lucy hissed.

"With swevyra, you cannot 'try'," Meridina replied. "You must do. Otherwise it will not happen."

"Yeah..." Lucy breathed hard and redoubled her effort.

"Commander, Lieutenant?"

The sudden talking jolted Lucy out of her concentration. The notepad clattered to the floor before her. As she struggled to grip it again with her power, she lost the further concentration that helped her stay balanced upside down. She tried to get her other hand over to do a full handstand but couldn't get her hand in place in time. She fell forward, knocking the air out of her lungs with a belly flop on the floor. "Ooof!" With murder in her eyes she looked up at the purple-skinned Dorei male standing at the entrance to the doorway. "What, Petty Officer Lagama?"

"I'm sorry to interrupt you, sir," he answered, ignoring her death glare. "But we've got something being relayed by the probe in the area, it's on long range sensors currently."

"Plot a course." Meridina bent her right arm, lowering herself to where her hair touched the floor, and then in a single movement jumped off with her hand and somersaulted to an upright position, kneeling as she landed.

Much to Lucy's dismay and jealousy, the toolbox never touched the ground through the entire thing. Meridina plucked it out of the air with her hand and set it down on the nearby stand herself. Lucy groaned with irritation.

The Koenig moved through space under cloak, although with all interior lights set at standard operation. Zack was going over a readiness report on his new transfers while seated in his chair. Seeing the list of fourteen new names reminded him of who he lost, dead crewmates or those too wounded to keep serving. He wished them the best.

"Sir, we have a subspace burst on sensors," Magda reported from Ops. "It matches the drive pulses from the probe records."

"Which group?"

"Unknown, sir. We haven't been able to tell which pulses are from which group yet."

Zack nodded. "Send out the location over the comm network to the other ships. Ap, set a course and engage, Warp 9.2."

"Yes sir, Warp 9.2."

As Apley changed their course and brought the ship past the cruise speed of Warp 7, Zack hit his intercom. "Enginering, we're going to do a little sprinting to investigate a subspace pulse. Keep us appraised on any issue with the engines."

"Yes Commander," Derbely answered. "I can give you Warp 9.3 if you'd like."

"You heard the woman, Ap."

"Aye sir, 9.3 it is," Apley answered.

Zack could feel the deck plates thrum ever so much as the ship accelerated yet further, moving at an intercept speed. Let's see what we've found.

Lucy and Meridina had switched into their duty uniforms and joined the rest of the runabout crew. Aside from Petty Officer Lagama was Petty Officer Dugan, Crewman Zuk, and Crewman Li, all taking up posts in the rear stations for supporting Lucy as the pilot and Meridina as the co-pilot and gunner of the craft. "We're coming up on the signal," Petty Officer Lagama said.

"Preparing to drop us from warp," Lucy replied.

"Officer Dugan, make sure we maintain the active subspace link to the other ships," Meridina ordered.

The young lily-complexioned woman behind her nodded. "Yes ma'am."

Lucy brought the ship out of warp toward the edge of the system. "We have ships on long-range sublight sensors," Lagama said. "Reading several vessels of multiple sizes."

"Do we make contact, sir?", Dugan asked.

"It is best to hold back for a moment," Meridina suggested. "I sense that...."

"I'm reading a subspace energy signature building up. Dozens," Lagama said. In the distance, through the cockpit, small stars briefly sparked into existence and faded. "They're gone."

"That must be their jump drive system in operation," Lucy said. "Send it on to Aurora. In the meantime, I'll set us on a course to resume patrol."

Koenig dropped out of warp and slowed to a near-relative stop. Magda looked over their sensor readings. "I'm detecting ships nearby. Going by the subspace readings... I think they're our ships that jumped."

"On screen and magnify." Zack looked at he screen and waited for the distant images to zoom in. "What is that...?"

On the screen, a pair of ships twisted quietly in space. It looked to Zack like a pair of three-legged chair bases glued together but slightly off-axis from each other; the result was the top and bottom of the ships spreading out in three arms not directly parallel to each other and a central trunk in the middle. "Those things are huge," Sherlily muttered.

"I'm getting some life sign readings," Magda answered. "Human. But... I don't know. I don't think there's nearly enough life signs on that ship, not unless they have insane levels of automation."

"That would be something," Zack muttered.

"I... wait..." Magda checked a reading again. "They're launching craft. There must be dozens..."

On the screen numerous craft emerged from the ships, looking like a central body with wings to the side. Even larger craft emerged behind them. "I'm not reading life signs on those craft," Magda said. "They've got to be drones."

"Make sure Aurora is getting this," Zack ordered. "Whatever's going on...."

"We've got a subspace pulse! It's another..."

With a button press the screen showed what was empty space... but it didn't stay that way. With flashes of white light ships appeared. They were far enough out that even at maximum magnification sensors couldn't show much detail, certainly not shapes.

"Those fighters and ships are moving on an intercept course toward the new ships," Magda informed him.

"It's an ambush. Great, these people are having a war out here." Zack let out a sigh of irritation. "What do we know about the newcomers?"

"Subspace pulse is consistant with the readings so far. I'm picking up Human life signs. Lots of Human life signs."

"How many?"

"At this range and with our sensors... At least forty thousand," Magda replied. She checked her readings. "Sir... two of the biggest ships are launching fighters and maneuvering to intercept. But most of those ships aren't showing any sign of preparing for combat. From what I see, they don't even have weapons.... and that group of drones is heading right for them." Magda turned and showed Zack how much she had paled despite her rich bronze complexion. "They're carrying high yield atomic warheads."

"Are they raising shields?"

"I don't see any sign of shields from either side. I don't think they have any."

Zack nodded. "Then we take them out, I'm not letting civilians get killed, I don't care who's who. Apley, intercept course, full impulse! Code Red!" With the press of a key red lights switched on around the bridge and a klaxon sounded on every deck, ordering his crew to battle stations. "April, set the torpedoes for proximity detonation, area effect."

"Aye, activating proximity detonators, disengaging charge-shaping measures."

"Magda, inform Aurora." Zack watched the lead flight of drones loom on the screens. "We need to take them out before they fire on those civilian ships. Decloak as soon as we're in firing position."

They gained that position soon enough. The Koenig shimmered into view and fired a full spread of solar torpedoes into the mass of drones. The torpedoes closed the distance as the drones began to react and split apart. Zack watched with satisfaction as the torpedoes detonated with brilliant bursts of light, accompanied by further explosions as the drones were blown away by the blasts.

"First wave eliminated," Sherlily reported. "Second wave is coming on. Those other ships' fighters are coming in now."

"Okay, no more torpedoes like that then. We'll do this with phasers. Apley, Attack Pattern Delta. We need to keep them off those civilian ships."

"What in the gods' name is that?"

Colonel Tigh's astonished remark was the first to come as the new DRADIS contact blipped into existence. Within seconds Cylon contacts began to disappear from the DRADIS screen. "Lieutenant...?!" He looked sharply at Gaeta.

Lt. Felix Gaeta was shaking his head. "It's not matching any known recognition file. And it didn't even jump in. It just appeared."

"What, you're telling me we've got a godsdamned ghost ship out there?"

"It looks like they're on our side." Admiral William Adama looked to Petty Officer Dualla. "Make sure we check fire around that new ship."

"Yes sir. This is Galactica Actual, all Vipers check fire, do not hit the unknown contact, repeat, do not hit...."

On the DRADIS the Cylons were dropping like flies. The second wave was coming in next....

The Koenig came around and came up beside the next wave of drones. Her phasers blazed away blasting one after the other. Several enemy shots struck her shields. "The lack of feedback is a good thing, right?", Zack asked rhetorically.

"Their weapons aren't optimized for dealing with shields," Sherlily said, still focusing on her work.

"Shields still at 98%," Magda confirmed.

"Third wave, sir!", Magda called out.

Zack didn't have to give the order. Apley expertly turned Koenig and brought them around to face the third wave, just as the small dart-like fighters from the "friendly" fleet engaged.

"That thing is frakking insane." From the cockpit of her Viper, Lt, Louanne "Kat" Katraine was coming up to engage the incoming Cylons and was starting to feel like her presence was superfluous. The unknown ship was tearing through the Cylons with impunity, pulling sharp maneuvers while amber light repeatedly struck out and blew Cylon ships to shreds. A heavy raider disappeared in a fireball from one barrage of the other ship.

"You are clear to engage, check weapons on new contact."

"Weapons free, people." Kat brought her guns on line and moved to engage. "Check your fire, we don't want to hit that thing."

"Like we'd do anything to it," another pilot muttered.

"Watch your six, there's still plenty of toasters out there." Even as she said that she watched the newcomer dive into the third wave and start blasting them to pieces. Not for much longer though.

The Koenig's phasers were blazing away, the cannons blasting entire lines of enemy fighters apart while the phaser emitters set into the dorsal and ventral centers of the hull lashed out at others. The Koenig was an eagle among sparrows and Zack almost felt sorry for their unknown enemy.

The third wave was the largest and even with the friendly fighters engaged it was taking time to destroy them. Too much time. "Several drones are through, they are firing missiles," Magda said.

"Sherlily, take out those missiles! Use torpedoes if you have to!"

"Aye sir!"

Koenig shot past the attacking drones, focusing her fury on the white lights of missile engines ahead. Several burst into flame under the phaser fire. "Ten seconds to impact, I can't get them all!", Sherlily warned.

"Apley! Put us between them and the target! Extend the shields!"

Radiological alerts went off in the Galactica CIC. "Missiles inbound on the Faru Sadin," Gaeta warned. "Time to impact twenty.... fifteen...."

On the DRADIS screen Adama and Tigh watched the new contact accelerate ahead. Missiles dropped off the screen. "They're too close, they're not going to stop them all," Tigh said.

The contact accelerated past the missiles and moved beside the Faru Sadin. Adama breathed in a sigh; the unknown ship didn't look large enough to survive the missiles about to impact, and the Faru Sadin might still be lost.

"Impact," Gaeta said. The screen showed the impacts with the missiles dropping off the screen, as did the two ships. The blasts cleared and....

The two ship icons were still there.

Tigh's jaw dropped. "That's not possible. They must have taken five hits."

"New contact is maneuvering again," Gaeta confirmed. "I... I don't know how they did it, sir. I'm not picking up any sign that their hull was even effected by nuclear initiation. It's like they have something protecting their hull from direct fire...."

After Koenig stopped shaking, Zack called out, "Damage report!"

"Shields down to fifty percent," Magda answered.

"I thought their weapons weren't made to penetrate shields?", Apley asked.

"Yeah, well, we extended our shields too, so that weakens cohesion," Magda pointed out. A tone came to her board. "Those two capital vessels are moving into engagement range. I'm picking up targeting systems coming online."

"Yeah, what do you want to bet they've got something that can break our shields?", Zack mused. "Evasive maneuvers, Ap. Get shots in when you can."

"Cylon Basestars will be entering weapons range in three minutes." Gaeta checked his screens.

"How long until the Fleet can jump again?", Adama asked.

"About twenty-five minutes," he answered.


"Ready all weapons," Tigh ordered. "Coordinate with Pegasus on the lead Basestar."

"Yes sir.... wait, DRADIS has another contact!"

By the time Gaeta said that, Tigh and Adama were glancing up and watching the new contact appear "over" the fleet. "Do we know what it is?"

"No sir. It's not on recognition charts."

"They're sending out a signal," Dualla added.

"Put them on," Adama ordered.

"Code Red," Julia ordered from her chair, securing her harness in the process. "All hands to combat stations. Launch all fighters."

From his own seat, Robert finished securing himself as well. "Status of the engagement, Jarod?"

"Koenig is showing shield loss. From residual traces the enemy is using atomic weaponry, comparitively high yield. The other ships show no hull damage, but there is a lot of debris from fighter-sized craft."

"Looks like we found a war," Locarno mused.

"Jarod, put me on, open audio and video." Robert cleared his throat. "This is Captain Robert Dale of the Alliance Starship Aurora to the unknown party engaging the civilian ships. If you do not stand down and withdraw, we will engage. Repeat, withdraw or we will engage."

"I'm not reading anything familiar about either side," Caterina said from Science. "But I am picking up signs of low grade naqia power. Almost every ship around us is unarmed. There's about... 50,000 people, maybe, in these ships."

"That's a lot of people crammed together, given the sizes of some of those vessels."

"Agreed, Nick." Robert kept his focus on the ships. When they were clearly continuing to close he turned in his chair. "Angel, give them a barrage from the forward cannons."

"Locking on now," Angel answered, holding back a temptation towards a feral grin.

The Aurora's forward cannons erupted in sapphire fury. Groups of six large bursts of blue energy hammered into one of the ships repeatedly. Red flame erupted from the battered ship's mid-section and lower body as the pulse plasma cannons hammered it mercilessly. Lights along the lower end went out.

Julia gave Robert a curious look. "Wasn't that supposed to be a warning shot?"

"Quite a warning, too," Jarod noted.

"Looks like it worked," Locarno nodded drolly. "Because they're turning away."

"I'm picking up a power surge inside of those ships." Caterina looked up. "I think they're jumping."

With a burst of white light the enemy ships vanished.

"Are any of the remaining ships the one mentioned in the decrypted message?", Julia asked.

"I'm checking now," Jarod remarked. With the tap of a button he brought one of the remaining ships onscreen and zoomed in on its side, where the text "Galactica" was in view.

"There's my answer."

Adama watched the two Cylon Basestars vanish from the DRADIS board. "Mister Gaeta..."

"I don't know what they fired, sir," Gaeta said, looking over his screens. "It spiked the thermal readings but I've never seen anything like it. I... I don't even think they were rounds."

"Then what else could they be shooting?", Tigh demanded.

Gaeta swallowed. "It might be DEWs, sir. Directed Energy Weapons."

"That's not possible, those never worked," Tigh insisted.

"It's the only thing that makes sense. The speed that their shots crossed the range in and the thermal pattern doesn't match any railgun cannon or chemical propellant I've ever heard of."

"There's one way to find out." Adama picked up the nearest phone receiver. "Put me on."

"Yes sir."

"This is Admiral William Adama, commander of the Colonial Fleet, to Captain Dale of the Aurora. I would like to give you my thanks for your assistance."

On the Aurora bridge the voice of Admiral Adama came over the speakers. It sounded rather older, like a rougher version of Admiral Maran, to Robert's ears. He looked to Julia. "Admiral, I'm pleased we could help protect your ships. Are you aboard the Galactica?"

There was a brief pause. "Yes."

"Ah." Robert allowed himself a small smile. "Well, Admiral, my ship was sent out to find you after we picked up some of your radio transmissions with long-range exploration probes. I'm here to greet you on behalf of the United Alliance of Systems."

"....here to greet you on behalf of the United Alliance of Systems."

Adama looked over at Tigh and the others, every man looking around in wonder as the voice on the other end made his greeting, now being piped into CIC's speaker systems. "I'll inform President Roslin immediately. But I'd like to ask something first."

Robert shrugged, even though he knew Adama wouldn't see it. He imagined they were teeming with questions. "Certainly, Admiral Adama. What do you want to know?"

"Are you from Earth?"

Julia raised her brow and gave him a knowing look. Robert nodded at her in acknowledgement. "Yes, Admiral Adama....."

".....we are from Earth."

Every breath in the Galactica CIC stopped for a moment.

Adama exchanged a meaningful look with Tigh, allowing the knowledge to root through his brain for a moment. The Thirteenth Tribe wasn't just a legend after all. Even then, though... things felt "off". The Aurora and the other vessel were too different. There was something more going on here than finding the lost Tribe from Kobol.

"Thank you, Captain," Adama said into the receiver. "I think it's safe to say President Roslin and I will be very interested to see you."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-09-09 04:40pm

Nice! What period is this for BSG? Clearly sometime between "Resurrection Ship" and "Lay Down Your Burdens," but is Apollo commanding Pegasus now?
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-10 12:21am

You'll find out in the morning when I post the next part. :)
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-10 09:33am

Robert, Julia, Angel, and Cat were met in the transporter room by Barnes. "Do we have a beamover point?", he asked them.

"A shuttle just left Galactica and is headed for what looks like a liner starship," Julia said. "From what they've said, it's acting as the personal ship of the President of the Colonies."

"Well, that's another mark in them being from Earth, right?", Cat asked. "Calling themselves Colonies, I mean."

"Yes, except they call themselves the Colonies of Kobol, not Earth," Julia pointed out. "At this point we don't know anything about them beyond the fact they speak English and that they're a refugee fleet fleeing the other faction who attacked them."

"I hate going in blind," Robert grumbled. "Hell, we knew more about the Reich when we made contact."

"Yeah. We knew they were Nazis," Barnes pointed out.

"Exactly. We have no idea what these people are like. Anything we say might offend them. We're walking in a minefield here." Robert stepped up to the transporter pad. "Well, I haven't gotten my legs blown off yet. So let's head off into the minefield, huh?"

"I still think we should have taken a shuttle or a runabout," Julia said. "We're going to freak them out."

"They're going to find out one way or another," Robert pointed out. "Best not to hide it."

"Well, let's hope they don't shoot us," Barnes grumbled, getting up behind Robert on the transporter.

"We're due over there now," Robert said. "Petty Officer, Commander Jarod should have relayed to you our destination ship and coordinates on board. Find the best spot and beam us over."

"And keep a transporter lock on us just in case," Julia added.

"Yes ma'am," the Gersallian woman at the controls said, making her thoughts of who was giving the right orders evident.

"Always having to show me up," Robert teased, shaking his head.

"Covering your ass is my job, Captain," Julia replied with a smirk.

It was with great difficulty that Laura Roslin had pulled her cancer-stricken body to stand and await the newcomers. She had her best dress on and stood beside Admiral Adama. "So they say they're from Earth?", she asked him.

"Yes ma'am, they do."

"And do you believe them, Bill?"

"Honestly, I don't know what to believe. Gaeta is still trying to get a handle on their technology. The ship they call the Koenig survived three direct hits from Cylon nukes and somehow prevented a fourth from hitting the Faru Sadin. Gaeta actually thinks their ships are armed with directed energy weapons."

"That would make them even more advanced than the Cylons," Roslin pointed out. And Adama - as well as her aide Billy, who was behind her and to her right - could sense the optimism in her voice. "This might be it. We might actually get away from the Cylons. Maybe they'll even help us retake the Colonies."

"One thing at a time, Madame President."

"Yes." Roslin sighed and grimaced. "Are they on their way yet? What kind of vessel were they bringing...."

Before she could finish the sentence, five columns of white light appeared in front of them and coalesced into five humanoid figures. Everyone save Adama jumped back a step and the presidential guards actually put hands on their weapons. "Admiral Adama. And President Roslin, I'm assuming?" The dark-haired man with green eyes stepped up and offered his hand. "Captain Robert Dale, Starship Aurora. My First Officer Commander Julia Andreys, Tactical Officer Lieutenant Angela Delgado, Science Officer Lieutenant Caterina Delgado, and Assistant Chief Engineer Lieutenant Thomas Barnes."

Nothing was said at that moment. "How... how did you do that?", Roslin finally managed.

Julia gave Robert a look, which he ignored. "We use a subspace tunneling effect for site-to-site transport," Robert explained. "I didn't mean to startle, but I didn't want you to think I was hiding this capability from you."

"I see. Well...." Roslin took in a pained breath. "By the Gods."

By this point Adama had gotten over his own shock and was taking stock of the five officers here. They all looked closer to Billy in age than anything. The Delgados were rather obviously related despite their different sizes, close cousins or even sisters. Adama examined their black and color-trim uniforms and noted the insignia on the collar and how the gold stripes worked for signifying rank, with the uniform's color being specialty. "I was hoping to meet the officer who saved the Faru Sadin," he said.

"Commander Carrey is busy overseeing work on his ship," Julia explained. "He may join us later, or for further talks."

"I see. Before we begin, you need to make sure your computer systems are secure." Adama faced Robert directly at this point. "The Cylons routinely upload computer viruses into opposing ships."

"Thank you for the warning, Admiral." Robert held up his multidevice and triggered the comm unit. "Dale to Aurora."

Jarod answered, "Aurora here."

"Run a high level security scan on all computer systems, make sure nothing got past our active firewall defenses. Do the same thing on Koenig."

"Understood, sir. Jarod out."

"Well, now that we've gotten that settled.... Captain, it's a pleasure." With her shock subsiding Roslin took command of herself and led them back to the conference area. Robert and the others noted that it was all clearly rigged up; liner seats torn out and such to make room for the table. Seats were taken on all sides. "I must say it's an honor to meet you all," Roslin said upon sitting. "Our faith has been rewarded. We've been hoping to find the Thirteenth Tribe."

The others blinked, and at that point Adama's thoughts of how the situation was more than it appeared grew stronger. "Thirteenth Tribe, Madame President?", Julia asked.

"Well, yes," Roslin said. "Our texts speak of the Thirteenth Tribe that left Kobol when we did and traveled to Earth."

"I think I understand," Caterina said, looking to her superiors. "Their civilization was settled millennia ago so it's no wonder...."

"It's no wonder what?", Adama asked.

Caterina blushed and looked peevishly toward him and then her superiors. Robert sighed. "Admiral Adama, we have a large gulf of knowledge to make up, and it's not going to be easy to explain. You need to understand that.... there is more than one Earth."

Adama didn't hide his disbelief. "Excuse me?"

"We have a technology in our ships called interuniversal drive," Robert explained. "It's the foundation for how the Alliance formed, Admiral. And... well, I can see this is going to be a long discussion...."

When the Rio Grande came out of warp the view was amazing. Lucy watched several dozen ships gently move by her cockpit view. "That's an entire fleet of ships, the probe data didn't do them justice."

"I can only wonder what drove so many souls into the void," Meridina answered.

"Well, let's find out what's going on...." Lucy noticed a signal coming in. "Hail from the Aurora. Jarod wants us to divert to one of the civilian ships and pick up Robert and the others from a diplomatic meeting when it's over."

"How interesting," Meridina murmured. She felt a sense of unease as the Rio Grande turned toward a long vessel with oval windows.

Lucy looked over at her. "What's wrong?"

"There is darkness here," Meridina answered. "And loss. So much loss. It fuels the darkness I feel." She turned her head. "Do not worry about me. Bring us to our new destination."

Neither of the Colonial leaders were quite believing what they were being told. "Multiple universes? Earth in all of them? Captain Dale, this is..."

"...hard to believe, I know, Madame President. If I hadn't been there at the beginning I wouldn't believe it either."

"But what about Kobol?", she insisted. "Kobol is where we're from."

"It's more likely that..." Caterina noticed the look Julia was giving her and stopped the line of thought she was having on the real nature of Earth and Kobol. "I'd have to know which system Kobol is in, ma'am, to find out what it's like in other universes."

"I'll provide the navigational information for that," Adama offered, noting Roslin's thinning lip. She was already in her final days and now there were strangers who seemed to be questioning everything she - and most of the Colonies for that matter - believed in.

Julia noticed her waning expression. "Madame President, you don't look so good."

Roslin smiled weakly. "I am in the final stages of breast cancer, Commander. I don't have much time left."

Caterina reacted the strongest to that news, putting a hand over her mouth and letting out a pained gasp. Angel took her other hand and explained, "I'm sorry, Cat's still very sensitive about it. That's how our mother died."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Lieutenant." Roslin nodded, looking very worn at that moment.

"Madame President, Admiral, there's still one thing we haven't asked about," Robert said. "Who are the ones chasing you? Our sensors picked up human life signs on the other ships. Are they some... breakaway faction of your society or a second human one?"

"They're not human," Roslin answered. "They're called Cylons. They're machines who rebelled against us years ago. We let them go and they repaid us by annihilating our society."

Robert and Julia exchanged looks. Suddenly the civilian fleet's purpose became starkly clear. "So you're all that's left?", he asked.

"Yes," Adama replied. "We have over 49,000 survivors from the Twelve Colonies in the Fleet."

"What... what happened to the rest?", Caterina asked, her voice growing shaky.

"The Cylons used a virus to disable our military defenses and annihilated our homeworlds with atomic bombardment," Roslin answered. "They killed billions of our people in the first minutes of the attack."

Robert let out a breath. "My God...."

Roslin and Adama focused their eyes on him. And not in a pleasant way. And I think I just stepped on a mine, he thought ruefully. So much for never blowing my leg off before. He swallowed. "I'm sorry, I get the impression that I have just said something wrong."

Julia had already noticed the likely cause, saying, "You used 'Gods' as a plural before."

"Our people worship the Lords of Kobol." Roslin's demeanor was becoming chilly. "The Cylons we've caught have talked about worshipping only one God."

Having been quiet for most of the meeting, and desperately wanting to leave it, that remark finally brought Barnes' attention. "Religious robots?", he said, incredulous.

"A lot of Humans are monotheist in Earth and Earth-descended society," Julia explained in a cautious tone. "The majority hold to one of the Abrahamic faiths. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And a lot of sects and separate churches within those groups."

"Ten thousand Protestant churches," Angel noted dryly. "Or so my Mother always joked about when she was arguing with door-to-door missionaries on why she remained Catholic."

Adama's mouth curled into a sardonic half smile. "I think you understand our concern about that. But I'm not here to talk about religion. I watched a ship smaller than half of our fleet take three direct hits from Cylon nukes and shrug them off. And in the process it stopped a fourth nuke that should have hit the Faru Sadin. I've never seen anything like it, and I'd like to know what it is."

"Energy deflectors," Robert answered. "We sometimes call them deflector shields, or just shields. They protect our ships from weapon fire until they're overloaded and lose strength."

"And the weapons on your ship?"

"Plasma pulse cannons," Angel said, smirking. "I almost wish I'd fired a second barrage, it would have finished that Cylon ship off."

Adama and Roslin exchanged glances.

Seeing a chance to alleviate their concerns over the religious issue, Robert quickly said, "This is why I brought Lieutenant Barnes. We can find ways to engineer shielding generators onto your ships. Your capital vessels at least. It could give you an edge."

"And what will it cost us?", Roslin asked.

"Nothing," Robert replied. "We were sent out here to investigate your people and see if they needed help. You do, so we'll give it."

"We'll have to send people over to see how it would work, mind you," Julia added.

Roslin fixed a look on Adama that showed some skepticism, or so Robert thought. Would she really think we are some elaborate Cylon plot?

"I'll have preparations made for you to tour Galactica and Pegasus," Adama replied.

"Madame President." Julia looked at Roslin. "We have medical technology that can deal with cancer, ma'am. If you like I can have our ship's medical staff try to..."

"Right now that's not important," Roslin interrupted. A diplomatic smile crossed her face. "What's more important is the Fleet. We only have so much food and supplies, if your people could get any more out to us..."

"I'll consult with Command," Robert said. "It will take about a month, at least, for supply ships to make it this far out. Maybe longer since we will clearly need to escort them."

"We'll appreciate any efforts you make," Roslin answered.

There was a beep on Robert's multidevice. He reached over and pressed it. "Dale here."

"The Rio Grande is ready to dock with Colonial One, Captain," Jarod said.

"Thanks, Commander." Robert looked to Adama, who motioned to one of the guards. "There's something more you need to know, and I'm not sure how I can show this to you so I'm going to say it outright. The Alliance is not just made up of Humans."

"You have machines too?", Adama asked coldly.

"No," he answered. "We have, well, from your point of view and mine, we have aliens. As in sentient non-Human species."

Roslin and Adama stared at him. "Really?"

"Yes, Madame President. Aside from our Human members, the Alliance also consists currently of the Alakin, the Dorei, and the Gersallians. The latter will make you feel more comfortable as they are, by all external appearances, Human as well."

"My Gods...." Roslin looked around wearily. "Captain, this is... I mean, you tell us there is more than one Earth but maybe not more than one Kobol. You say that you travel universes. You worship one god like a Cylon. And now you say you have aliens."

"Commander, didn't you assign a Dorei to the Rio?", Robert asked Julia.

"Yes sir," she answered. "Petty Officer Lagama, I believe."

"Then perhaps we should introduce him to the President and Admiral," Robert suggested.

The Rio Grande's side airlock door opened when the Aurora officers arrived with Adama and Roslin, being supported by her aide Billy Keikeya. Lucy and Meridina exited first. "Captain?", Lucy asked.

"Madame President, Admiral Adama, these are two more of our officers," Robert announced. "Lieutenant Commander Meridina, our Chief of Security, and Lieutenant Lucilla Lucero, one of our operations officers."

"Greetings, Admiral." Meridina bowed her head. Her senses told her what her eyes were already indicating from body language and demeanor; he was a formidable man, while the woman at his side possessed a great deal of internal strength even with her body failing. "Madame President."

"They want to meet Petty Officer Lagama," Julia said.

"Of course. Officer, please disembark." Meridina turned back to the door. Lagama emerged. His purple skin was contracted by the dark teal spots and light blue hair pulled back into a braided pony-tail. The long ears of the Dorei rounded out his alien appearance beyond his basic humanoid form.

Sharp intakes of breath and open startlement struck the Colonials, every one of them. "By the Gods," Roslin breathed. "It's..." She limped another step, as if wanting to see Lagama closer.

"He could have undergone extensive surgery," Adama pointed out, maintaining composure slightly better.

"We can provide genetic and biological samples to your personnel if you want to verify we're not deceiving you," Robert offered.

Lagama smiled softly. "Ah, you worship a house of Gods as well? I had worried that most alien species followed the Lushan and Astra obsessions with singular all-powerful deities."

Meridina contorted her face slightly, showing bemusement. "Human polytheists, interesting. I admit to only passive familiarity with the Hindu religion of Humanity."

"I get the feeling comparitive theology is going to be very interesting," Julia remarked drolly.

"I'm sorry..." Roslin leaned more heavily on Billy. "It's been a long day and I need to go lie down."

"I understand, Madame President. Please, feel free to contact our ship if you need anything." Robert looked to Adama. "The same to you, Admiral. I'll have Commander Scott and Commander Jarod begin assembling teams and preparing our replicators to equip your ships with deflector technology."

"I appreciate the gesture, Captain," Adama replied. With Roslin walking away he leaned in closely and lowered his voice. "And I'll inform Doctor Cottle that your chief surgeon will be calling."

Robert answered with a nod. "Of course," he murmured back. "An honor to meet you sir." Robert offered his hand.

Adama took it and accepted the handshake. He nodded to the other Aurora officers in turn before leaving to rejoin his stricken President.

"Their leader is dying of cancer, they suspect us because the Cylons worship only one god, and they're the last survivors of a society apocalypse." Barnes shook his head. "Yeah, this mission's going to be a doozy."

"Get with Scotty as soon as you get back, Tom," Robert said. "We need to get them on their feet before those Cylons get back with reinforcements."

Adama returned to the President's office to find her laying on the chairs Billy dutifully brought a glass of water over to her. "I thought..." She took the drink Billy offered and returned the glass to him. Her eyes were hazed with fatigue and pain when she looked at Adama. "I thought we had done it, Bill. That we'd found the Thirteenth Tribe and Earth. And now they tell us Earth - our Earth - is a wasteland too. And... and they don't even know about the Lords of Kobol, or worship them!"

Adama found a seat. "It's not what we expected. But we shouldn't let this get in the way of a good relationship with this Alliance. Like it or not, ma'am, we need them."

"Do you think they'll let us settle on Earth?"

"I'm not sure Earth's in any state to be settled in right now," Adama pointed out. "But they'll be able to find us a planet. And once we've had a few generations... maybe then Earth can be settled."

"Very true." Roslin took in an agonizing breath. "I would have liked to have seen it. Earth."

"You may get your chance. Their doctor is going to speak to Cottle. If they're right about the technology they have to offer, maybe he can do something about your condition."

Roslin smiled thinly at that. "A nice hope. I suppose it's better than nothing. See what Cottle says. And make sure to keep Doctor Baltar informed."

Adama nodded stiffly. "I will. Get some rest, Madame President." He stood and left.

In the main conference room of the Aurora, the command crews were meeting again. Robert and Julia went over the conversation they'd had with Adama and Roslin and what was planned. "Scotty, you still need time for the warp engines, right?"

"Aye, a bit of an overhaul. We'll be ready tae go in a few days."

"The warp drives need that much work?", Zack asked.

"It's always hard on 'em th' first time ye put 'em through their paces like we did. It's nae somethin' big, just some part replacements."

"And if we have an emergency?", Julia asked.

"A few minutes' warnin' an' I can give ye Warp 4."

"Better than nothing for the moment," Robert noted. "Cat, how are the long range scans going?"

"I've had to change parameters to track these jump drives. We should know if anyone jumps to within a hundred light years of our position. Two hundred light years' distance is possible, but only with delays from the way the subspace bursts of their drives ripples outward."

"And the long range probes?"

"Still sending us telemetry, but nothing else." Caterina indicated the map and the courses of the probes. "Although within a few days the lead probes will actually be passing through the Helios star cluster on the Galactica's starmaps. It's their home systems."

"Make sure the probes are listening for any sign of survivors." Robert had fel enough dreams of mass devastation lately, to know that it had happened in this universe, and so recently, was daunting. If we'd known about them, we could have stopped it, was the thought in his head. It came unbidden and he pushed it away; he couldn't save everyone after all.

"I think we need to focus now on the assistance we can give." Julia noticed his reverie and stepped in to continue the meeting. "We've sent off our reports to Admiral Maran. Until we hear from him, we're the only ones present who can help. So how will we do that?"

"We only have so much replicator stock, but we could replicate some non-perishable food items for their food stocks." Jarod put his hands together on the table. "And plenty of water."

Leo nodded. "Medicines. I stocked up before we left dock, we have plenty to help with a variety of illnesses. And I can get the staff ready to cooperate with their physicians on learning our equipment."

"Speaking of equipment..." Robert looked to Barnes. "Tom?"

"We don't have the Darglan Facility's super-awesome replicators anymore, so no mass-producing the best stuff," Barnes pointed out. "But we can make some things between the replicators and the machine shops. Particle rifles, phasers, hell, I could probably make their firearms and tools if they need it. Shield generators for their ships will be trickier."

"We still have parts to rebuild our own completely several times over," Julia pointed out.

"Yeah, our own. But they have a different power source, different electrical wiring, different everything. I'm going to need to see how their systems work to finalize any shield generator construction. Which we've started, by the way."

"Good. We'll arrange transport for you." Robert looked to Julia. "Given how badly they took our last beaming, we should probably tone down on that. We'll assign shuttles to take people back and forth."

"If we're upgrading them, maybe we should give them some better sensors too," Caterina suggested. "If their jump range is within forty light years, they would be able to detect Cylon jump signatures and avoid traps."

"We'll need to look over their electronics systems, then," Jarod pointed out.

"That's something you and Cat can do," Robert answered. "Tom can join you in fitting shields on the Galactica. Scotty, does Lucy has enough engineering experience to do the same on Pegasus?"

"Aye, she's capable of it," Scotty confirmed.

"So Cat and Lucy will go to the Pegasus and Jarod, Tom, and Leo to the Galactica?" Julia shook her head. "Aren't we putting too many senior officers on the job?"

"Just for the initial survey and work," Robert said. "Plus I think it will build confidence, they'll realize we're putting real effort into this. With all the differences we have, I want them to see us as friends."

"And try not to use the Lord's name in vain," Julia added drolly. "They get tetchy around monotheism."

That got them curious looks.

"The Cylons aren't just evil genocidal robots, they're religious evil genocidal robots," Barnes explained with a smirk.

"And apparently they are monotheists," Julia continued.

"While these people are polytheists," Angel added.

"Hrm. To each their own," Leo remarked.

"Exactly. Alright." Robert stood. "I've got a shuttle pilot waiting to fly us to Galactica. Get whatever tools you'll need and let's go."

Doctor Gaius Baltar had taken the news of the contact with the mythic "Thirteenth Tribe" as everyone else had, but he had internalized it and began working through the information he was being given. This was made easier when Adama appeared in his lab and gave him the basic details before leading him off to greet the incoming shuttle. His head swam with the implications.

Alien life forms. Multiple universes, and Earth as an irradiated wasteland. It's all so much, he thought.

"Don't forget that they worship God too."

Baltar turned slightly. The blonde-haired Cylon that was somehow in his head looked back at him and smiled. "See, Gaius? God is everywhere."

"I wonder about how their religion works," he said in response. He almost added a "Where have you been?" but held back; too many witnesses.

He had said so out loud, so Adama took it as an invitation to talk. "I'm not sure. What I don't need is people getting scared by it."

"Does the Admiral really think they're just an elaborate Cylon trap?", his head-Cylon cooed.

"You don't think they're really Cylons, do you?", Baltar asked aloud.

"I doubt it," Adama said. "If they are, then...."

"....then you are all doomed," Head Six finished for Adama, at least in Baltar's head.

Tigh was waiting with Adama in the landing area. Baltar watched the shuttle come in. I wonder what those twin engines along the rear of the bottom do? Some form of jump engine?

"So, what are we expecting?", Tigh asked Adama.

"They're young, quick, and eager," Adama answered.

"And they command a ship like that?" Tigh shook his head. "A bit fishy if you ask me. And you want to let them rummage through our engines and scanners?"

"They're very special, Gaius." The sultry voice made him turn his head slightly. He found his head Cylon very distracting in that red dress. "Be very careful."

"It's a risk. But I'm willing to take it. They didn't fake the nukes they shrugged off."

The shuttle door opened and Robert stepped out. Leo and Jarod followed him with Meridina; Cat, Barnes, and Lucy came behind. Zack took up the rear. They all stiffened their spines. "Admiral Adama, permission to board?"

"Permission granted, Captain," Adama responded.

"They don't salute either?", Tigh murmured to him.

"Gersallians and Alakin have differing interpretations of Human salutes," Meridina suddenly said, showing she had heard Tigh. "And the Alakin salute is suspiciously similar to what Humans call the 'Heil Hitler' salute and was considered unpalatable."

Tigh shot a glare at Meridina. She bowed her head. "I apologize, sir, if I was rude. I wished to assauge your concerns about our crew and show we mean no disrespect."

"None taken," Adama answered, ending the issue in his mind.

Baltar looked over the group. Young, indeed. And the women... Meridina was the least directly alluring, being a fairly-average looking brunette, while the one introduced as Lieutenant Delgado was small and didn't fill her suit in to Baltar's taste. The third... she was gorgeous.

"Gaius, be careful with her," he heard his head Cylon insist as he moved his head to look at her. "She sees beyond what normal people can. She is a hunter and pure danger."

Despite himself, Baltar was curious about that. "Oh really?," he muttered.

"This is no game, Gaius. She can reveal me, and your secrets, to the rest of the Colonies. Imagine what they would do to you?"

Baltar frowned. He could imagine.

"And the same goes for that tan girl you are looking over."

That caused a sigh.

"....my CAG and my son, Captain Lee Adama." Adama was finished introducing Lee and Tigh.

"Your help is appreciated, Captain," Lee said to Robert, extending a hand. After Robert took it Lee offered the same to Zack. "And your's too, Commander. Your ship kept my people from taking any losses."

"Glad to help, Captain," Zack answered. "I'm a pilot myself, wouldn't mind getting to fly one of these things some time."

"We've got simulators on the Pegasus if you want to try," Lee answered. "I noticed your ship has some fighters of its own?"

"Yeah, Mongoose strike fighters. They handle pretty well."

"I'm sure there are plenty of things we can share," Robert said. "My crew and I are of one mind on this. Your people need our help, and we're glad to give it. We've already got our replicators making spare food and water for your quartermasters."

"That sounds like more technology we will have to learn about." Adama gestured toward Baltar. "And before I forget, our illustrious Vice President and resident Cylon expert, Doctor Gaius Baltar."

"Doctor." Robert offered his hand to Baltar. Baltar looked at it for a moment before accepting it. "I would like to learn more about these Cylons," he said. "For my report to my superiors."

"Tell him," Six's voice whispered. "Tell him about the prisoner."

Baltar's eyes turned to Meridina breifly. Her expression seemed to shift a little. He swallowed hard and focused himself on Robert. "Ah, yes, of course. I'll be happy to share my information, including all data I have on detecting Cylons who appear Human."

"Given the ones it missed, don't bank on it too much," Tigh groused.

"They appear Human?", Meridina asked. "How?"

"They are, essentially, cybernetically enhanced bodies," Baltar explained. "Organic with machinery components inside."

Meridina shook her head. "And your science makes it hard to detect them?"

"Yes, as we've found out the hard way," Adama answered.

Robert looked back to Caterina and Leo. "Do you think our sensors can do something about that?"

"Well, our ship-mounted sensors only read Human life signs on the Cylon starships," Caterina answered. "It's possible that we could create a direct scanner that would look for cybernetics or whatever else goes into a Cylon. We would need to have one first."

"Tell them Gaius," Six repeated, her voice dropping to a hiss in Baltar's ear. "Tell them about her."

Baltar felt a lump in his throat when Meridina's eyes shifted around. "Um... yes, I think we might be able to help with that." Baltar ignored the look he got from Adama. "We do have one Cylon prisoner on the ship."

"Really?" Robert turned to Adama. "Admiral Adama, do you think Commander Meridina could be allowed to interview this prisoner?"

Adama nodded. "I can arrange it."

"I am most grateful, Admiral," Meridina answered. As she did so, she looked around again. Her swevyra was feeling... active. There was something here that she could not see....

Baltar swallowed and nodded. "If it's okay, Admiral, I have some work I need to finish up on. I wouldn't be much of a guide for these gentlemen and ladies."

Adama nodded, clearly agreeing completely. "I'll see you later, Doctor Baltar."

Baltar left, making sure not to seem too eager to get away.

The tour of the CIC led to everyone splitting up, Adama assigning other personnel to specific groups while taking Robert to his office. "I hope your people understand the issue of how many gods there might be," Adama said while reaching for a pitcher of coffee. "Besides the Cylons, we've had monotheists before, but they were known for fanaticism and terrorism."

"The crew is aware of trying to keep their references low." Robert allowed himself a small grin of amusement. "Technically any Christian is supposed to not call out 'God" for anything anyway. Old Commandmant about the Lord's name being taken in vain."

"Are you a religious man, Captain?" Adama offered him a cup of what looked like tea or coffee.

Robert took a drink. "Not as much as I could be, I suppose. If it came down to it... I would say I believe, but that I'm not a church-going type anymore."

"I see." Adama took a quick drink. "Our people can be the same way. Some believe in the Lords of Kobol to their very souls. Some just do it because its habit. And I suspect there are some like our illustrious Doctor Baltar who don't believe anything."

"I get the feeling you don't like Baltar."

"Don't care for the man," Adama admitted. "There are worse, I suppose."

"I would say so." Robert briefly thought about his own recent problems with government.

"Given your age, Captain, I know there's more to your position and background than you've told me so far."

"You could say that, Admiral," Robert admitted. "There are reports I can provide you if you want more details. To put it simply... the Alliance exists because of us. As in my friends and I on the Aurora."

"Hmm. I suppose it will be interesting reading, then."

Both men took drinks. "It was more interesting living it. Everything I ever thought about the world got turned upside down." Robert chuckled. "Maybe that's why they send me out for these things. I know what it's like."

"People are going to be shaken up by it when we give official announcements. Everyone is convinced you are the Thirteenth Tribe." Adama sipped again. "But we won't forget your help. Our people will warm up to you."

"That's all I can hope for." Robert took his last drink. "Admiral, may I ask a delicate question?"


"I get the feeling, sir, that you didn't want us to know about your Cylon prisoner."

Adama remained silent for a moment. He nodded slightly. "I admit I was concerned about it, yes. Cylons have a way of getting into your head."

"You were actually worried it would convince us to turn on you?" Robert thought about that. "I suppose I can see the point."

"I'm glad you see things my way, then."

"Well, Admiral, I can tell you one thing," Robert said, looking directly at the older man. "I don't care whether they come to me reciting the Lord's Prayer. They're guilty of genocide and that's what matters to me. So I'm not going to let this Cylon get between us."

"Thank you, Captain."

"Hrm. I'd almost think it was low grade naqia," Barnes said while looking over stored tylium. "But you actually make it liquid form during refinement?"

"It's for the best performance," Chief Galen Tyrol explained.

"Maybe it's a related metal?" Caterina walked up behind them. "There are a few spaces left on the periodic table. It'd explain why my sensors thought your power generation was low level naqia."

"I suppose." Tyrol looked at Barnes. "What is this naqia stuff anyway?"

"A solid state metal used in power generation reactors." Barnes followed Tyrol through to another engineering space. "Where's your Chief Engineer? I need to go over things with him, if we're fitting shield generators on your ship I need volume."

"This way, sir."

Leo stepped into the Galactica infirmary and was met by a much older man. "Doctor Cottle?", he asked.

"Doctor Gillam, is it?" The old man offered a hand that was slightly less wrinkled than his face. Gray and white hair covered his head. "Thank you for coming. Admiral Adama was telling me you might be able to assist with the President's condition."

"I heard. Breast cancer." Leo shook his head. "Advanced?"

"Very. She's got weeks left."

Options went through Leo's head. "That rules out several options. Surgery?"

"Too big, and she's too weak."

"I imagine. Do you have any X-Rays....?"

Jarod stood in the Galactica CIC and looked up at the DRADIS screens. "Flat screen monitors, wouldn't be hard to replace those with a holographic interface," he muttered to himself.

"Excuse me, sir?"

Jarod looked over and faced a young man with a Mediterrenean complexion. "Lieutenant Gaeta, right?" Jarod offered his hand. "Commander Jarod."

"Sir." Gaeta finished saluting and took the hand. "Colonel Tigh says you're here to upgrade our electronics?"

"A few upgrades, we're not sure what your power systems can handle," Jarod admitted. "And fabricating naqia reactors for you will take more time and a full supply of naqia."

"Of course." Gaeta nodded. "Sir, can I ask... how did your ships appear like that? There was no sign of a jump, just.... a surge of radiation and you were there."

"We use warp drive for FTL. It doesn't move you to a location immediately like your drives, but it can be constantly used." Jarod looked over one of the panels. "If we get enough power we can turn your displays into multi-function touch pad or hard light displays."

"Hard light?"

"A form of holographic interface, they use them in M4P2. The Darglan favored touchscreen displays with adaptive capability, and Carlton Farmer further modified them with Starfleet-standard systems."

"Wow, I..."

Jarod smiled at the younger man, clearly bursting with questions. "It's a lot, I know. What can you tell me about your DRADIS systems?"

Gaeta nodded. "Yes, um, a lot, sir. Here, let me show you."

Meridina had stayed with Lucy and Zack for the tour, with Lee Adama showing them around the ship. Lee and Zack were talking piloting tricks with Lee discussing Cylon tactics in the process. "There is something here," Meridina murmured to Lucy.

"A lot of grief," Lucy said. "I can feel so much of it around them."

"No, something... else. But I'm not sure." Meridina turned to Lucy. "While things are going well, keep your swevyra open. Something may yet go wrong."

"Do you think..."

"I see no discernable danger at the moment, but I feel an uneasyness in the near-future. Be cautious when you join Caterina on the Pegasus."

"I will," Lucy promised.

Around the next corner they were met by Colonel Tigh. "Alright, Commander, we're ready for you. This way to the special brig."

"Of course, Colonel." Meridina nodded to the others and walked away with Tigh. He led her back through some of the corridors they had already used. Meridina found them stark. Gray was a neutral color to her people as well as Humans and it made the ship feel utilitarian. She would have preferred the light blues and yellow paneling of the Aurora's many corridors.

"I'm warning you now, Commander." Tigh looked back. "These Cylons can get into your head. Gods know how much I wished we'd spaced this one, but the Old Man thinks its still of use."

"Does it actually have the ability to enter minds?", Meridina asked.

"No, thank the gods," Tigh muttered.

"Then I think I shall be fine." Meridina turned her head as they rounded another corner. "Is it cooperating?"

"For the most part. Actually claims to want to help us, and it did save us once from a Cylon virus. Saved its own skin, at least."

"Curious." Meridina decided to withhold further judgement until she saw the Cylon.

They came up to the cell. "Brought you a new visitor today," Tigh called out, opening the door and admitting Meridina. "Play nice. Hit the call button when you're ready to be let out, Commander."

"Of course, Colonel." Meridina looked over at him as he closed the door and locked her in with the prisoner.

Meridina looked the Cylon over. A woman, long dark hair, facial features and skin color were from the East Asian region of the Human homeworld or the Chushallan people of her own world's northwestern continent.

The woman's stomach bulged. Meridina's jaw lowered in surprise even as her senses confirmed what her eyes saw. She could feel the small life force within; an unborn child.

Her eyes met the dark eyes of the Cylon and she could see emotions. Anxiety, concern, fear. Meridina swallowed.

This was no machine. This was a person. She had a mind. She had a heart. She had swevyra of her own.

And she was kept in a cage like a wild animal.

"Have fun." Tigh walked off, leaving them alone.

"Who are you?", the woman asked.

"I am Meridina. A Lieutenant Commander of the United Alliance of Systems' Stellar Navy. And I am a swevyra'se of Gersal." Meridina looked back and checked the door. Metal and glass covering. A difficult obstacle indeed.

Thoughts came to her mind that Meridina pushed away. She would perform the duty that Captain Dale requested of her first. Information about the Cylons.

And then she would perform her duty as a swevyra'se, to the Code she believed in, and give aid to this caged soul.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-10 10:59pm

Everyone not remaining on the Galactica met at the shuttle. "Captain Thrace will be waiting to show you around the Pegasus," Lee said to them.

"It's newer than the Galactica, right?", Caterina asked.

"Yeah. Only other Battlestar to survive the attack," Lee replied. "Any upgrades you put on our ship will work even better with her, I imagine."

"We'll get to work on it," Lucy promised.

"Thank you for the tour, Captain." Zack extended a hand. "If we stick around much longer, we're going to have to swap fighters for a test flight."

Lee smiled at that. "Sure thing, Commander." He turned and walked away as they all boarded the shuttle Moore.

Zack settled into the pilot seat while Robert sat in the back with the others. After they received takeoff clearance Zack eased the shuttle out of the Galactica's landing pod. Everyone looked out the side windows. Aurora was nearby of course, as was Koenig, but they were more interested in the other ships milling around. "Transporters, liners, refinery ships... this is all that's left of an entire culture," Caterina said quietly. "Why?"

"Hopefully Meridina can get us some answers," Lucy said. "Although I'm not sure any answer will satisfy me."

"None will satisfy me," Robert murmured. "Whomever these Cylons are, we need to hunt them down. Especially if they're near that Darglan cache the Facility showed Meridina."

"Oh yikes. We thought Nazis with Darglan tech would be bad, if the Cylons get it..." Caterina seemed to shiver. "I mean, if they want to wipe out Humanity..."

"My thought exactly." Robert looked to the front window. Pegasus was looming ahead. The ship was close enough in appearance, but it had a more refined look to it; clearly a newer ship. They set down in the port landing pod and Zack killed the engines. "Zack and I are due back on the Aurora soon, so I'll leave you two to your work after we introduce ourselves. Check in every hour and keep us up to date so we can send over the new gear when it's ready."

"Yes sir," Lucy answered.

By that point the door had opened. Robert and Zack stepped out with the ladies behind. Waiting for them was an older, heavyset man with light green eyes and a blonde woman with short cut hair. "Captain Dale?" The older man extended his hand. "I'm Commander Fisk of the Pegasus. This is our CAG, Captain Kara Thrace."

"Nice to see another pilot."

"Yeah. You're one too, I see." Thrace grinned slightly.

Zack almost subconsciously put his hand over the "starwings" insignia on the left shoulder of his uniform. Only Lucy had the same insignia. "Yeah."

"Commander Fisk, this is Commander Zack Carrey of the Koenig. He's just flying back with me. Lieutenant Caterina Delgado will look into upgrading your ship's electronic detection systems and Lieutenant Lucilla Lucero here will examine your systems and see how to install shield generators."

"I'll take her to see Garner, our Chief Engineer. Lieutenant?"

Lucy nodded and stepped to follow. All things considered, she didn't like Fisk one bet. He felt... oily.

"Remember Cat, hourly check-ins," Robert reminded her. "Be patient with her, Captain." He looked back to Thrace. "She lets her curiosity get the best of her."

"I'm not the most patient type," Thrace warned. "But she'll be fine."

Robert nodded and led Zack back into the shuttle. When he turned back and saw Zack still staring, he raised an eyebrow. "Zack...?"

"Hrm? Oh. Sorry." Zack smirked. "Just admiring the local scenery."

Robert sighed and grinned. "Don't you always?"

The Cylon in the cell had remained silent for some time. Meridina didn't push the matter; there was no time limit and she felt she could get more by giving the being in the cage time to finish whatever thoughts were in her head.

"You're really a Gersallian," the Cylon stated.

Meridina nodded. "I see they mentioned us to you already?"


"Then..." Meridina blinked. "...you know about us already. How?"

"We've been exploring our portion of the galaxy for some time," the Cylon answered. "We were excited to find other life forms. And surprised to see your people resembled Humanity so much."

"Ah, yes. And this made you fearful of interacting with us?"

"Among other things. It was not in the Plan." The woman turned away. "My name is Sharon, by the way."

"Sharon. Yes." Meridina nodded slightly. "You speak of a Plan. Did it involve what was done to the Colonies?"

"Yes. We were all told that," Sharon said. She lowered her head and shook it. "I can't make any excuses for it. Something possessed us. Fear, envy, hatred, something that made it seem okay to annihilate Humanity."

"Charismatic leaders can cause any life form to turn away from that which is right." Meridina put her hands together in front of her. "If your race knows of mine, then you know what I am."

"A... knight," Sharon answered. "A defender of peace and justice and the innocent."

"We strive to be, yes."

"I wish i could see the world like that now. Everything was so clear before..."

"Before?" Meridina's question was gentle in its probing of Sharon's thoughts.

"Before I..." Sharon smiled gently. "Helo. Lieutenant Karl Agathon. I was ordered to befriend him and seduce him. He... had seen another copy of me that he knew as Boomer."

"Why were you given such orders?"

"Because..." She put a hand on her belly, not able to say any more.

Meridina nodded. She sensed Sharon's feelings. And she felt her mind. She may have machine parts, but she is still a living being. "Your people wish to reproduce. And you were sent to make it work with a Human."

"Yes. And then I fell in love and brought him back to the Fleet." Sharon shook her head. "You can guess how I was welcomed. Especially since my counterpart Boomer tried to kill Admiral Adama."

Meridina didn't ask. She could feel the images coming from Sharon. Hands around her neck. The terror of asphyxiation after being thrown into vacuum. A gun in her face. A man striking her and... "I am sorry if you have been mistreated," Meridina said softly, forcing that last image of what Sharon had almost suffered from her mind.

"I'm sorry that your people will be drawn into this now," Sharon replied. "Out here, between the Cylons and the Colonies, there's so much blood it will drown us all."

"We can fix that," Meridina assured her. "The Alliance can protect this fleet."

"You'll try. And the Cylons will react." Sharon shook her head. "And I don't know how they'll respond, but it'll be terrible. They know so much about you already."

"Their knowledge should give them pause, then." Meridina stepped forward. "Help me understand them, and we could find a way to peace. And you'll be free to be with Helo again."

Hope flared in her eyes for a moment. "We don't get told everything," Sharon said. "To understand us, you have to understand that even if we are machines, we believe in God. Just one, not the Lords of Kobol like the Humanity of the Colonies do...."

Caterina thought the Pegasus looked better on the inside than Galactica while going from the CIC to the access of one of the sensor systems. Captain Thrace - "Starbuck" as the pilots called her - led the way as before. "You command the fighters, so why are you giving me the tour?", Caterina asked.

Thrace clearly bit back an answer. "The Admiral asked me to look out for you," was the answer she gave. Pegasus was on its own for a while and the crew is still getting... used to being under new command."

"Oh? Well, I mean, I hope they know we're here to help?" Caterina frowned. "We just want to help, you know?"

"People don't always like getting help," Thrace pointed out.

Caterina stopped and looked to Thrace. "This isn't about the religion thing, right?"

Thrace smirked. "It could be," she conceded. "I don't mind much so long as you people help us blow up frakking toasters."

Caterina gave her a confused look. "...what does 'frak' me...." Realization dawned on her face and Caterina blushed fiercely.

That drew a laugh from Starbuck. "Well, aren't you the sweetest thing? Haven't been around crew much, have you?"

"Well... I mostly interact with the science division," Caterina answered.

Thrace blinked. "Wait, science?"

"Yes. I'm the Aurora's Science Officer. Sensors too, but that's just part of the job."

Now Thrace began laughing. "Wow, I..." Her face contorted in a mixture of amazement and bewilderment, her eyes growing wide. "Honestly I can't imagine our ships having something like that. This is the Navy, that's outside our usual work. Your people... actually do that?"

"Well... not every ship. The ships that are just there for fighting don't have science departments. But we're a kind of special missions ship and it can come in handy. And I love seeing new space phenomena and planets and stuff."

Thrace said nothing at first. It had been a while since she saw someone so plainly enthusiastic and energetic about, of all things, space exploration. It was another thing the Cylons had taken from them, it seemed. At least the Old Man was getting along with these people. Maybe in time they would have that kind of enthusiasm again.

They came to the access hatch to the sensor hardware. "Well, this is it. I can find a member of the crew to show you more if you need it."

"Thanks." Caterina took the hatch and started to open it. Her face twisted into a grimace as she struggled to twist the wheel. Thrace grabbed the wheel and helped her twist it fully open. "Sorry, I'm... we don't have things like this back on the [i[Aurora[/i]," Caterina apologized.

"Don't mention it." Thrace turned and went to walk away. As she did, a thought crossed her mind. Curiosity that demanded some kind of resolution. "Hey, Lieutenant."

Caterina looked out from within the hatch. "Yes?"

"You said you didn't know who the Lords of Kobol were, but why did you name your ship for one?"

Caterina blinked at her and stepped out of the hatch. "What?"

"You named your ship after Aurora, the Goddess of the Dawn, a Lord of Kobol."

Caterina's jaw dropped. "Wait, you.... who..." An enthusiastic expression replaced the startlement. "Your other Lords, they have names like Zeus and Hera and Apollo, right?"

"Yeah, all of them are Lords of Kobol."

To Thrace's surprise, Caterina let out an enthusiastic little noise, one that her sister and friends knew as the "Caterina squee of excitement". "The Olympian gods! The Greco-Roman pantheon! You worship the Greco-Roman pantheon!"

Now it was Thrace's turn to stare in confusion as Caterina hopped off the deck plates a couple of times. "Who are the Greco-Romans?"

"Oh, they were two different civilizations in Earth's classical period, in the millennium before the Christian Era," Caterina explained. "The Greeks were the founders of Western civilization and they... I mean, they worshipped Zeus and Hera and Athena and Poseidon and stuff, and they colonized the neighboring peninsula of Italy and their pantheon and religious beliefs spread to the locals, including the early Romans, who gave them different names like Jupiter and Juno and Minerva." Caterina blinked. "Wait, you said the name Aurora was in your pantheon, but you use Greek names and Aurora was the Roman name and... oh this is so cool!"

"Okay, now I'm getting a little confused. How could your people know about the Lords' names but not their connection to Kobol?"

"I don't know, and that's what's so exciting. I mean, it's going to take years of study and excavations and..." Caterina brought up her forearm to access her multidevice. "I've got to get some notes for a paper on this!"

Thrace couldn't help but smile; the enthusiasm was infectious. But she shook her head. "You might want to see about doing the scanners first?"

Caterina looked up from where she'd been typing on her multidevice. "Oh, right... yeah." She blushed. "Sorry, I just get kind of... carried away."

"Oh, it's fine. About time someone around here was that giddy."

Ship's Log: 4 June 2641; ASV Aurora. Captain Robert Dale recording. I'm pleased to report that we have had few problems interacting with the Colonial Fleet so far. Food and medicine from our stores is being distributed into the Fleet and brought morale up. Our efforts to look into ways to upgrade the fleet's defenses have gone well and there has been no sign of Cylon activity.

If things keep up, I have considered approving shore leave requests to the Colonial ships.

The morning staff meeting was fully staffed for the first time in days. "I've found the cure for our problem with the power situation," Barnes said to everyone. "We have enough emergency reserves of naqia to cobble together a few small reactors, enough to give each Battlestar a respectable deflector capability. Not as good as our own or of a ship of similar size, but enough to deal with Cylon nukes. Unless the frakking toasters find out how to make shield penetrators." When everyone stared at him Barnes smirked. "Yeah, I picked up some Goddamned vocabulary. I like it. Frak. Frak frak frak...."

His sing-song recitation of the Colonial cursing was halted by Julia clearing her throat loudly. "Tom, I will go get a bar of soap."

"Yes, Mom," he retorted.

"When can we expect to have those ready?"

"Later today," Barnes answered. "I've got the overnight crew finishing up the main work, I just need to take them over and install them. I'll get Lucy a set for the Pegasus."

"Good. Now about their sensors..."

Caterina and Jarod looked at each other. Jarod shook his head. "That's not so easy. The ships would need major yardwork to fit anything useful."

"I think Pegasus could have a subspace sensor suite set into its electronics array," Caterina added. "Not the full set we'd prefer, but it would be something. It would at least give them warning of Cylon ships jumping to a vicinity of ten light years."

"Communications?", Julia asked.

"A little easier. A basic subspace transceiver array could be fit on pretty much every ship in the fleet," Jarod replied. "I'd have to examine the other ships to see if any could be refitted with better sensors."

"Actually..." Robert pointed a finger up. "What about their Raptors? They use them for reconnassiance, they're jump-capable, and they already have a large-scale electronics system. Could subspace sensors be fitted onto those?"

Jarod and Cat looked at each other. "Limited ones, sure," Jarod replied. "They might not get the full forty light year range we want, though. Honestly I think the only way to guarantee them that kind of radius would be to... well..."

"Assign one of our ships to them," Cat finished for him.


Robert nodded. "I'll let Admiral Maran know. He's due to be on subspace when I meet with Adama and Roslin again. Before we finish, how is the distribution of the food and medicine going?"

"It's proceeding." Jarod tapped a button to bring up the list. "They're letting us beam supplies straight to specific points."

"Wow, that's quite a bit of trust," Angel remarked.

"It is. Which is why we're going to live up to that." Robert looked up from where he was checking a tablet. "By the way, Julie, Angel, how did Doctor Baltar's tour go yesterday?"

"Short and not very educational," Julia answered him.

Angel smirked. "Baltar was more interested in us than the ship."

"Oh?" Robert smirked. "Should I be getting jealous?"

"Well, he does have that accent that Julie likes so much," Angel teased, earning her an annoyed glare from Julia. That made her smirk grow.

"Well, if that tour didn't work, maybe having Adama or Tigh visit would work better." Robert looked to Scotty. "Mister Scott, how is...."

He was interrupted by the tone of the ship's intercom. "Captain Dale, we've received a signal from the Galactica. President Roslin.... she's dying."

Robert looked to Leo, who nodded. "Tell them Doctor Gillam will beam straight to their medical center." As Leo stood up, Robert did as well. "I'll be right behind you, Leo."

Leo hit the comm button on his multidevice. "Gillam to medbay. Prep the ICU for an advanced cancer...." His voice faded as the door closed behind him.

Robert stood as well. "I should probably get over there too. If Roslin... well, it's best if we're being as understanding as we can. Everyone else, finish what you have to and get back to it. I'd like to tell Adama we're ready to test the new equipment."

Everyone got up and went their separate ways. All save Meridina. Robert waited for her to move and, when she hadn't yet by the time the room was empty, he asked, "How goes your debriefing of the Cylon?"

"She has proven useful. My reports lay out what I've learned."


Meridina eyed him directly. "She is a living being, Captain. She has the light of Life, swevyra, inside of her. She is carrying a child."

Robert blinked. "Okay, I hadn't read that part of the report yet."

"You mean you focused on the raw data and not the rest of my report?", Meridina asked pointedly.

"Well..." Robert sighed. "Meridina, are you sure this isn't some kind of... of sympathy game?"

Meridina shot a glare at him. "I am sure," she insisted. "I would have thought better of you, Captain. I remember how close you were to the Control system of the Facility."

"Control didn't contribute to the murder of billions of people," Robert replied pointedly.

"Collective guilt is not sufficient reason to deny an individual redemption. She has taken up arms against those who committed those crimes. She has repeatedly aided the Humans of the Colonies against her people. How much must this woman do before she is properly treated?"

"She's being mistreated?"

"She is kept in a cell as a prisoner," Meridina replied. "She was on several occasions physically assaulted despite her condition. Even you have been denying her the basic right of being seen as a living being."

Robert remained quiet for a moment after that rebuke. He felt nothing but horror and anger at the Cylons for the crimes and atrocities they had committed. If Meridina was right, if this one was completely sincere.... "Did she pull the trigger?", Robert asked.

"Pull the trigger?"

"On the gneocides? Did she give any of the orders for the attacks? Carry them out personally?"

"Not to my knowledge. She was part of the Cylon group attempting reproduction."

Well, that makes it easier I guess. "Alright. See how much more you can get out of her."

"I wish to appeal to Admiral Adama and President Roslin for her release," Meridina said.

Robert shook his head. "Probably not the best time, Meridina."

"So I should leave her to suffer in a cage?"

He winced at the sharp point of her question. "Better to ask the question when Adama will be receptive, not when he's worrying about Roslin's condition. If you want the Cylon released or treated better, it's best if we build up enough trust with the Colonials that they'll be willing to listen to your arguments."

"A fair point," Meridina conceded. "I shall return to Galactica today. Perhaps I may be able to bring comfort to Roslin as well."

"Right now I'm wondering if that's all we can do for her," Robert murmured.

Leo looked over the readings his own devices were giving him on Roslin's condition. Her body was failing from the cancer destroying it from within. Seeing her with IVs and a breather tube in her nose reminded him of the medicine he had been learning to practice before Robert found the Facility back home and changed Leo's life. "The only option for you now is surgery, Madame President," he informed her.

Roslin looked to Cottle, who nodded. "Doctor Gillam's technology makes it possible," he said. "But you might not survive it."

When she spoke, her voice was low from weakness. "What are my odds, Doctor?"

Leo and Cottle exchanged looks. "We've been discussing that," Cottle answered. "Doctor Gillam has the optimism of youth, so if we meet halfway... fifty-fifty."

Roslin drew in a breath and nodded. "How long would it take for me to recover?"

"With the right regimen of medicine, a week before you're out of bed, full recovery in a month," Leo answered. "Safe dosages of medicines to bolster your weakened system will be the important part. Too much and the cell regeneration could become cancerous itself. Too little and it won't be enough to heal you."

"I suppose it's better than being dead," Roslin said weakly. "Doctor Gillam." She turned her head and faced Leo. "Doctor Cottle has something I've asked him to show you. I need your opinion on this."

"I am at your disposal, ma'am," Leo replied.

Cottle led him over to a set of blood samples. Leo brought out his medical scanner from his white doctor's coat and ran the scanner over the samples. "You people have quite a lot of those toys," Cottle murmured.

"They save time," Leo replied. His eyes settled on the results coming back. HIs eyes narrowed. "This sample is, well, damned odd. I'll need a closer look at the patient to figure it out."

"That won't be necessary, Doctor Gillam," Cottle said. "I just wanted your opinion."

"My opinion is that the sample is Human baseline with peculiar genetic markers." Leo brought up the genetic information again and began looking it over. "Some of these abnormalities look familiar..."


"I'm not sure where. A mutation possibly. I'll need to run tests."

Cottle nodded. "As I've said, that won't be necessary. Doctor Baltar is already running them."

Leo looked over. "Your Vice President is a biologist?"

Cottle smirked. "He thinks he's everything. I'd rather have your people run the tests myself."

"But Roslin won't allow it." Leo sighed. "She still doesn't trust us?"

"The President can be cautious. At times. Thank you for the consultation, Doctor Gillam. I..."

The far door opened, interrupting them. Baltar and Adama were entering. "This will be a private meeting, Doctor," Cottle said. "You should go."

Barnes stepped into the CIC, his work uniform crumpled from working around. "Is the Admiral here?", he asked Tigh.

"He's busy," Tigh answered. "Why?"

"I think I have it, I've routed the controls through to one of your panels here," Barnes answered. "I just need to run a couple of tests, get your status screen installed, and the shields are ready for testing."

Tigh nodded and looked to Gaeta. "Lieutenant, give him a hand." The tone of voice made the end of that sentence clear; And keep an eye on him.

Gaeta nodded and followed Barnes. "How is this going to work?", he asked.

"Oh, simple. Just had to tie the naqia reactors into your power system controls and to the shield generators. Your engineering crew is putting the finishing touches on the new power conduits feeding the shield generators. It's not hard with the tools I brought along. Should be done by the time I'm done up here." Barnes got to his knees in front of one of the consoles and consulted the schematic hologram hovering above his forearm, courtesy of his multidevice. "Okay, here we are, this connection is the one. We're going to relay the controls through here and set up a hard light display for you to use it and read off status. It's going to look out of place, but it's the best I can Goddamned do without ripping your controls apart completely and installing control software in your systems." Barnes seemed to consider what he just said. "And sorry about the Goddamned. I know you worship the Greek gods and such, it's just a slip of my Goddamned tongue. Sometimes I think my first words were 'God damn'".

Gaeta stifled a grin, looking over and seeing some concerned looks from the others. "Oh, that's fine. Apology accepted."

"Good. Now..." Barnes pulled out a screwdriver tool. "...let's crack this frakker open."

Robert met with Adama in the infirmary on Galactica at President Roslin's bedside. She seemed barely awake as he reported the progress. "Lieutenant Lucero has already confirmed that the shield systems will work. Pegasus successfully tested them a few minutes ago."

"That's good news. And our own?"

"Barnes is putting them in place as we speak. You should have your own shields within a couple of hours."

"Thank you, Captain." Roslin's weak voice caused them both to turn. "You're doing wonders for our people."

"It's the least we can do, Madame President." Robert stepped up beside her. "We'll do all we can to help. I'm expecting a call from..."

As if on time, the multi-device on his right forearm let off a low tone. He reached down and pressed the comm button on it. "Dale here."

Julia was on the other end. "Admiral Maran is on subspace for you."

"Tell him I'll be right there." He looked up at the others. "I'll let you know how it goes."

"Thank you, Captain."

Robert nodded and hit another key. "Dale to Transporter Control. One to beam back." A moment later white light coalesced around him and he disappeared.

Roslin looked at Adama. "I don't think I could ever get used to that."

Adama nodded. "Are you going to reconsider going to their ship for treatment?"

Roslin took a pained breath. "I may," she admitted. "Cottle doesn't believe I can survive the operation, no matter how advanced their technology is."

"You're a fighter, I don't think you'd go down quietly," Adama reassured her.

"Especially now." Roslin laid her head back, clearly spent of energy for the time being. "How long until Cottle is ready for the Cylon?"

"He said a few more hours."

"I'd like it done as soon as possible. And try to keep our new friends out of it." Roslin took in a breath. "They're a little too idealistic. A shame we didn't meet them earlier. Things might have been easier."

"They're going to know something's been done," Adama pointed out. "Their security chief has been meeting regularly wih the Cylon over the last day."

"Revoke her access," Roslin ordered. "They've learned enough about the Cylons. And make sure to turn on the new shields as soon as they're ready. And I want the prisoner on continuous watch."

Adama put two and two together. "You think our friends would try to take the prisoner?"

"I think that they're idealists." Roslin smiled weakly. "And I would rather not give them the temptation."

Baltar struggled in the grip of the Cylon in his head. As much as she was in his head, the grip of her hands on his tie and the way she was tightening it to choke him.

Abruptly it ended. Baltar looked around and saw a couple people had been staring at him. He coughed and walked on, his agitation growing as he did. He had to do something, he needed...


The voice made him turn even as the hairs on his neck bristled. He recognized the security chief from the Aurora, the plain-looking brunette who, while not unattractive, was a little too plain-looking for his taste. "Commander... Meridina, yes?"

She nodded. "I wish to speak with you on the issue of the Cylon prisoner. I'm told you have studied her."

"Ah, yes... yes I have." Baltar swallowed. The Cylon in his head had warned him about Meridina, and seeing her eyes seem to burrow into his mind didn't make him feel any better. "I have studied her. Did you, um, need anything?"

Meridina opened her mouth to speak but remained silent for a moment. "Doctor Baltar, you seem disturbed and frightened. What is wrong?"

Get out of my head was the first thought he had. It seemed the only explanation for how she could be so exact. "Oh, well..." His mind raced as he realized the opportunity he had just been handed. "I'm just... upset is all."

"Over President Roslin?" Meridina nodded. "Yes, I can understand that. I am sorry your leader's illness has harmed her so badly."

"No, it's not that," Balter insisted. "She's ordered something... something I cannot agree with. Something I cannot in good conscious abide by."

Meridina's head moved slightly. Her expression remained controlled but he could see she was interested. "What is wrong?"

"She's... oh Gods I cannot..." Now Baltar was calling on the acting skills he'd been learning for all this time. "...it must be her illness. I honestly don't want you to think badly of her but..."

Meridina drew closer. "Doctor, given the state of agitation something terrible is being wrought. Let me know and I may be able to prevent it."

Baltar drew in a breath, as if to steel himself. "President Roslin has... she's ordered the termination of the Cylon's pregnancy."

His words caused Meridina's jaw to drop open. "You mean she... she has actually ordered the killing of Sharon's unborn child?"

"Yes. Yes, she has. And she is clearly unhinged by her deterioriating condition, but Admiral Adama will not defy her, and she will not listen to anyone who tells her otherwise."

Horror spread through Meridina, followed by disbelief and anger. Clearly the grief and despair she had felt here had corrupted these people, to make them capable of such an atrocity. There was debate about a mother's right to not be pregnant, but there were alternatives there, and it was at least the mother's right to decide for her own body. To hear that a woman was going to be forced to abort her own pregnancy? That was nothing less than evil.

Too great an evil to ignore.

"Thank you for informing me of this, Doctor," Meridina said. "I will act as is needed. Mi rake sa swevyra iso, Doctor Baltar." She nodded at him and moved on briskly, with a clear sense of purpose.

Baltar watched her go and looked around. Nobody else was present around them... until his friend reappeared. "Do you think..."

Head-Six smiled at him. "I think, Gaius, that you have done something truly brilliant. Our child will be saved."

"I won't let them take my baby!"

Sharon's voice came through the phone speaker loud enough for Meridina to hear as she stepped up toward the cell. An armed Marine stepped into the entrance way, blocking her path. "Sorry, ma'am," he said to her. "Admiral Adama sent orders, you're not permitted access to the Cylon anymore."

Of course he did. But Meridina wouldn't let that stop her. She smiled politely and bowed her head. "I understand." She inhaled and exhaled to gather her thoughts and will and brought an open hand up. "You will not bar my path."

The Marine's expression froze. His will struggled, but it was enervated by hours of quiet guard duty. In the hands of her power, that of her telepathic mind and her own powerful swevyra, he could not resist. "I will not bar your path," he intoned.

"You will open the cell door," she added.

"I cannot, I do not have access," he answered without emotion.

Meridina sighed. "You will stand by the wall."

"I will stand by the wall." The Marine walked away from the opening and stood by the wall, facing it, oblivious to all around him. It would not last long, but it would last long enough.

Meridina entered the immediate area by the cell, looking through the cracked glass at the panicking, enraged Sharon. The brown-haired man outside the cell turned and faced her. "Who are you?", he demanded.

"Commander Meridina!" Sharon grabbed the receiver on her end again. "Commander, help me please! They're going to kill my baby!"

Meridina nodded. "I know." She looked to the brown-haired man talking with Sharon. Even without seeing the name on his uniform, she knew who he was given the feelings of fear and worry and pained love coming from him. "You are Helo?"

He nodded.

"Stand clear." Meridina looked back to the door. "Sharon, get away from the door."

In the time it took for her to take in a focusing breath, Sharon did so. Meridina reached out with her power and gripped the door with it. It was a good door; it resisted fiercely. But she would not be denied. She kept her face locked in a calm expression as she reached into everything that was her, everything she believed in, and pushed against the cell door with it.

There was a loud shrieking of metal. Hinges screeched in protest and screws flew free as Meridina wrenched the door off of its hinged by pushing it inside the cell. A grimace of exertion crossed her It slammed against the opposite door. She motioned to Helo to enter with her. He embraced Sharon, oblivious to their situation, which was made starkly clear when the Marine she had sent away stepped back into the opposite doorway with his firearm raised. "Don't move!", he shouted while grabbing for his radio. "I need backup at the Cylon's cell!"

Meridina tapped the comm button on her suit's multi-device and took Sharon and Helo's hands into her own. "Meridina to Transporter Control, emergency beam out now on my signal!"

"I said don't frakkin' move!", the Marine shouted, raising his weapon. When white light covered them he opened fire, but he didn't seem to hit anything as the white light disappeared, taking all three of his targets with it.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Borgholio » 2014-09-11 08:45am

The part about Sharon's baby I always hated in the nBSG. I'm glad this time she won't have to go through the trauma. But still, this is going to throw a big wrench in the works between the Colonials and the Alliance...
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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Steve » 2014-09-11 09:00am

Robert was in his quarters looking over paperwork while Admiral Maran's image remained on the far panel. The image was a little fuzzy given the booster buoys they had deployed could only boost the subspace signal so much. "The Dorei are putting together a relief convoy, but it's going to take months to get it out there."

"They should be fine for a few months." Robert took a sip from some replicaed grape soda. "We can stay with them until the convoy gets here."

"We can't have the Aurora out there that long, Captain. For the time being continue establishing diplomatic relations with them, but expect a recall order in a week or two."

Robert sighed and put two and two together. "The Nazis?"

"And the Batarians. They made another raid into our M4P2 colonies yesterday. The Poryana and Constellation drove them off before they could cause any damage but the Systems Alliance is warning us they'll keep coming."

Robert frowned. "Slaving bastards," he muttered. "No luck with diplomacy?"

"They're not very friendly to other species, we've found."

"Great. Well, I suppose..." There was a tone from his multidevice. He reached over and pressed it. "Dale here."

Julia was on the other end. "Captain, we have Admiral Adama for you. He says it's urgent."

"Put him through." Robert looked at the device and saw it confirm the line connecting. "Admiral, what can I do for you?"

"What the hell are your people doing, Captain?" Adama's voice was its usual baritone, but now tinged with anger.

Robert looked at the startlement on Maran's face and knew it matched his own. "Admiral, I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about?"

"Your security chief just broke into the cell and transported away with our Cylon prisoner," Adama informed him coldly.

Robert felt his jaw lower. "She what?"

"So you're telling me you had nothing to do with that, Captain?"

Robert noticed the concerned look on Maran's face. "I did not. I have no idea what Commander Meridina is up to but I'm about to find out."

"You do that. Because I expect you to turn that Cylon back over right away. Adama out."

Robert shook his head. They'd come so close and now it looked like all of the trust they were winning was getting thrown out the airlock. He looked at Maran. "Admiral, I have to deal with this."

Maran nodded. "I understand, Captain. Keep me appraised." He hit a key and disappeared, replaced briefly by the seal of the Alliance's Defense Staff.

Robert went to the door. "Computer, locate Commander Meridina."

"Commander Meridina is in the Main Medbay."

He hit the comm key on his multidevice. "Dale to Kane. Commander, get a squad and report to the Medbay immediately."

"Yes, Captain."

In the Galactica CIC, Adama was leaning against the central table. Tigh stood across from him. "Do you believe him?", Tigh asked.

"I would like to," Adama admitted.

"Could they have been working with the Cylons all this time?" Tigh frowned. "We've been letting them frak around with both Battlestars, if they're with the Cylons..."

"I'm not convinced of that. It's more likely that..." Adama shook his head. "It's more likely that Commander Meridina found out about President Roslin's orders and disapproved."

"Which means someone who was there told her," Tigh said. "Or Helo. They took him too."

Adama nodded. As he thought about it, though, he had another suspect in mind. Baltar did this. "What is the status on the new shield systems?"

"Pegasus is ready to turn them on," Tigh replied. "Engineering reported back an hour ago on our's, Lieutenant Barnes has already tested them a few times and is doing final checks."

"Good. They mentioned they can't transport through them. I want more control over who comes and goes from our ships, starting now. Be ready to turn the shields on the moment I give the order."

"Will do. What are you going to do now?"

"I'm going to talk to President Roslin. She needs to be informed."

Robert had worked up a full blown mad-on by the time he got to the Medbay. He found Leo and a brown-haired man in Colonial uniform beside a bed occupied by a young Asian woman; the Cylon, he realized on seeing her face fully. There was a gentle swell in her belly. A pregnant machine?

That thought vanished when he looked into her face. He could feel the relief and fear she was dealing with. The danger was gone for the moment, but in her eyes he could see her fear of him. An acknowledgement of the fact that with an order he could send her back to the Galactica.

Meridina was standing nearby. She faced him with only the slightest hint of regret. "Captain. I see you have been informed."

"When my security chief decides to throw all of our hard work in the crapper, I would prefer getting told about it immediately," he said, trying and failing to keep the irritation and anger out of his voice. "We had these people ready to trust us, Meridina. Ready to let us help them. Roslin was getting ready to agree to surgery over here, where we had a chance of saving her life! And you pi... throw it all way for what?"

"They were going to murder Sharon's baby," Meridina replied calmly.

Robert opened his mouth to speak and stopped as the word "murder" hit his brain full force. He felt his face contort into an expression of utter confusion. "What?", he asked. "What are you..."

"President Roslin ordered Sharon's baby to be terminated," the Colonial man said. "They were going to murder our child."

Robert turned to face him, feeling his mouth growing dry. "And you are?"

"Lieutenant Karl Agathon," he answered. "They call me Helo."

Robert drew in a breath and nodded. "Okay. Okay, so..." His mind raced with the implications. "Maybe I could talk to Roslin and get her to rescind the order."

"She will go back on her word if she thinks it necessary," the Cylon - Sharon? - warned. "When Helo and I returned to the Fleet he got into an armed confrontation with Lee Adama. She promised to put me in a cell so Helo would lower his weapon. When he did, she ordered me thrown out of the airlock. If I hadn't known how to lead them to what they were looking for I would have died right there."

Robert bit into his tongue. He'd noticed Roslin had a tough streak to her and admitted the practicality of that situation; defuse an armed standoff by giving a concession she could withdraw at a moment's notice. "Just like that?', he asked.

"Just like that, sir," Helo confirmed. "The moment I lowered my weapon Roslin ordered them to throw Sharon out of the airlock. 'Put that thing out the airlock', she said. After Sharon got us and her precious relic back to the fleet!"

Meridina gave Robert a pointed look at that point. He realized that just that morning he had been expressing a similar thought process. The Cylons as things, not people. And Robert had seen what happened when living breathing people were relegated to "thing" status. Are we really seeing only one side here?, Robert thought. Have we stepped into two sides trying to exterminate each other and picked a side without finding everything out first? Robert swallowed. "Sharon, what was your role in the attack on the Colonies?"

"I came in after the attack," she answered. "I was assigned to find Helo and seduce him. We wanted to see if a Human and Cylon could reproduce."

"But you had no direct role in the genocide of the Colonies?", Robert asked insistently.

"No," Sharon answered.

He looked at her intently, trying to see if he saw any sign of falsehood there. In his gut, his instinct, he could feel she was being truthful.

"But that doesn't change what we did," Sharon added. "While I was with Helo I realized how wrong we were. What the Cylons did to Humans of the Colonies was wrong."

Robert looked sideways to Meridina, who nodded. "I am a farisa, Robert," Meridina reminded himl "I sense her thoughts even without my swevyra. I am not blind to deception. She is not deceiving us."

"But why?", Robert asked. "I can see Roslin thinking an adult Cylon was a threat, but why order the abortion of a baby?"

"Because she's afraid of what our baby is," Helo said. "I'm not sure why, Adama couldn't explain either."

"The baby has genetic abnormalities off Human baseline," Leo explained. "Cottle showed me a sample. I didn't know who it was and they wouldn't say. I didn't know until I was giving Sharon and the baby a checkup and took a scan."

I can't believe this is happening, Robert thought. Just when everything was working...

Roslin remained still as Adama explained what happened to her and Baltar. She didn't seem angry, she was clearly too exhausted to be really angry, but she did look disappointed. "I was afraid it would come to this," she sighed.

"Captain Dale insisted he didn't know and would find out what was going on," Adama said.

"Possibly true," Roslin conceded. "But it's too late for that now. We need to get that Cylon back."

"Honestly, Madame President, why?" Baltar leaned over beside her. "We've learned so much from her already. And the alliance with these people has to be worth more than one Cylon."

"It's not just about the Cylon now, Doctor," Roslin said. "If we don't react to this, we give up our freedom to these people."

"You can't seriously believe..."

"Maybe Captain Dale and his crew mean well. But have you thought about the people who command them? If we let them dictate terms to us without reacting, they'll continue to dictate terms to us. Where we can settle. What we can say." She wheezed. "What lives we can lead. No. We cannot become their complete dependents. We have to assert our independence."

"You're signing your death warrant, ma'am," Baltar reminded her, looking upset. "These people could save you."

"The cost would be too high," she rasped.

"Then as your successor, I plead for you to consider what I'm going to have to...."

"Leave us, Doctor," Roslin insisted. "You can lead the Colonies as you see fit, but until then I am President and I make the decisions."

Baltar opened his mouth to protest but clearly thought better of it. He turned and stormed out.

"He has a point," Adama said. "Whatever you do, he may undo."

"I'll leave you to handle that, Bill, in whatever means you think are necessary," she answered. "But for now, we need to respond. How long ago did you talk to Captain Dale?"

"About half an hour ago."

"And he hasn't called back." Roslin grimaced sadly. "I think someone told them about my orders for the Cylon's baby. I suppose I can't blame them for doing this. But we have to respond. Are those shield systems ready?"

"Pegasus and Galactica have full shield capability now," Adama confirmed. "Their people are looking into modifying our Raptors and ships with their sensors now."

"Raise those shields. Give him ten more minutes," Roslin wheezed. "If he doesn't send the Cylon back, I want you to..." Roslin licked at her dry lips. "...I want you to take those Aurora officers into custody."

Adama lowered his eyes. "Are you sure? Those people have been working day and night to help us."

"It's for their own good," she said. "How do you think our people will react when they hear that they're sheltering a Cylon? It's for the best, Bill. Ten minutes. And then you arrest the Aurora officers."

Robert followed Leo and Meridina into a side office. "What are we going to do about this?", he said hoarsely. "Do you honestly think Adama and Roslin will just overlook this?"

"Offer them more assistance as compensation," Meridina proposed.

"It's not about that and you know it," Robert hissed. "We just slapped them in the face. One of our's went up to them and took their prisoner, saying we don't trust them to do the right thing. That we don't trust their judgement. That we know better."

"From where I stand, we do know better," Leo retorted. "This is unconscionable, Rob. We can't let them just kill a woman's baby because of a few genetics tests."

"Need I remind you that the Defense Committee is watching us like hawks, that Hawthorne and Davies are waiting for any excuse to throw us off this ship?", Robert blurted out, going with the fear that was bubbling to the top of his head while the mission unraveled around him. He immediately regretted those words as he saw the bewildered looks on the faces of Meridina and Leo.

"I'm going to pretend that one of my best friends didn't just imply that his job was more important than a woman and her child," Leo said, every word deliberate in its tone.

Robert felt his cheeks burn with shame. "I'm sorry," was all he could say.

He felt a hand take his. He watched Meridina take his left hand into both of her's. "Even the bravest of us feel fear. I have felt such from you for weeks now. I understand, Robert. I know what you're going through and all of those doubts and terrors in your heart. But I know that you are still a brave and good man. Within your heart and swevyra is a well of courage that I have come to appreciate since I met you. The only thing I honor more is the well of empathy that resides beside it. Because of these things, out of all the beings I have met, I have never seen a sense of moral awareness as strongly as your's. You know what the right thing is. And I know you will do it regardless of the cost to yourself."

As she spoke Robert thought he could feel something of her essence. This was more than when they'd mentally bonded so he could share the pain of Cardassian prisoners with her. This was something different, something deeper. He could see himself through her eyes; the Robert Dale that Meridina saw, always caring, always willing to be the first to charge into danger to protect others.

He knew that instinct within him well. It was one that had been unlocked by what the Facility offered him. It was the sense within him that said that evil existed, that some things were just wrong, and that anyone who aspired to do good had to stand before it and say "Enough. No more. I will fight you." Regardless of the consequences.

"Evil triumphs when good men do nothing," he murmured, feeling tears on his cheeks. "Thank you for reminding me of that."

"You already knew," Meridina assured him. "I simply helped you push away the fear that obscured your vision of that."

Robert nodded and took in a breath. "Okay. We'll offer Sharon and Helo asylum. Leo, get with Lieutenant Borja, have her draw up the requests. I need to get the others off of those Battlestars in case things go bad." He reached to his multidevice and hit the comm key. "Dale to Transporter Control. Emergency transport, lock onto our people still on the Colonial ships and energize."

"Aye sir."

"Do you think they'd really take them prisoner?", Leo asked.

"At this point, i don't know," Robert admitted. "It's better not to..."

"Captain, Transporter Control here. We can't beam anyone aboard. Galactica and Pegasus have raised shields."

They looked at each other with deep concern. "I need to get to the bridge. Leo, get ready for, well, anything."

Robert rushed out.

"Do you really think this will work?" Chief Tyrol looked up from under the electronics station in one of the Raptors.

"I'm hoping it will," Jarod said, kneeling beside him and checking the lines for the naqia micro-reactor they'd just installed. "Fifteen light year sensor range, anything that has the slightest subspace signature will show up." He looked over to the exit. "Tom, how is that external sensor coming?"

"It's coming along frakking well, man," Barnes called out from under the Raptor.

Jarod rolled his eyes and smirked. "Seriously, Tom? You're using that word more than they are."

"I like the Goddamned sound, alright? It feels..."

Barnes came out from under the Raptor in time to see a squad of Galactica's Marines coming at him at a brisk pace. "Yo, where's the fire...?" he started to ask.

"Don't move!", one voice boomed back as their weapons came up and pointed at Barnes. "Hands on your head! Get on the ground NOW!"

"What the hell are you....?!" Barnes moved a step forward.

Shots rang out. Blood erupted from his left side and right hip and thigh as two shots struck him. Barnes screamed as he collapsed to the ground. He used a word that he tried to avoid and which was rather similar to the Colonials' 'Frak".

"What the frakking hell?!" Tyrol pulled himself up from his workspace in time to see the Marines move closer. "What in the gods' name are you guys doing?!"

Jarod was already on his multidevice. "Jarod to Aurora, we are under attack, we need immediate beamout! We're being..."

Two more Marines came from around the Raptor and pointed their weapons inside. "Hands on your frakking heads now!"

Jarod and Tyrol obeyed and looked at each other in confusion. Jarod fought down the panic he felt even as he was grabbed by the Marines and pulled to the ground. His arms were twisted behind his back and his wrists secured with ties. He tried to fight down the involuntary panic, the panic that said "The Centre has finally caught you!" whenever he even conceived being this helpless.

"What the hell is going on?!", Tyrol demanded, looking for the man in charge.

"Commander Jarod and Lieutenant Barnes?" The sergeant of the Marines stepped up. "You're both under arrest on suspicion of being Cylon agents." He jerked a thumb toward the panting Barnes. Blood was pouring from his untreated wounds. "Call Doc Cottle for that one, and take both of these toaster-lovers to the brig."

Caterina never saw it coming.

She had been working in a cubby space, an access port for one of Pegasus' electronic data lines. Suddenly two hands grabbed her feet and yanked her out from the cubby space and to the hall. Two more hands grabbed her collar and lifted her up. At least half a dozen men were glaring at her, all bigger than her and stronger than her. Caterina let out a cry of fright. "Wh-what is going....?"

The first fist smashed into her belly hard enough to make Caterina puke. She doubled over and felt her head spin from nausea. "Should've known you were toaster-lovers," one of the men grumbled. "Yeah, we're onto you. Just your lucky day, you little Cylon-loving bitch, that you're with us instead of those limp-wristed jackoffs on the Bucket."

Caterina began to stammer through the pain and terror. "I-I do-don't kn-kn-know wh-wh-what-t-t you-you're talk...."

She was interrupted as they hauled her back to her feet and another man planted another punch, this time on her face. Pain exploded thorugh the left side of Cat's face and she screamed. Her eye began to sting. "Too bad Lieutenant Thorne's gone," another said. "He'd know what to do with a frakking toaster-lover like you, wouldn't he boys?" That prompted evil laughter from the assembled Pegasus crew.

Up against the wall and hurting, Caterina screamed for help. Instead she took another punch, this one breaking her nose and knocking out a tooth. Blood streaked from her injured face as she hit the ground again. "We j-j-just w-w-want t-t-t-to h-e-elp," she whimpered, starting to sob. "P-p-plea-a-ase d-d-don't h-hit me ag-again..."

A foot smashed into the right side of her face. With her eyes swelling shut Cat could only see swirling colors as she took another kick to the head and another to the belly. Pain exploded down her entire body and she screamed and cried for help again.

The only reply was being picked up again to take another punch.

Lucy's first warning that something was up was when the Pegasus' shields turned on again without warning.

Still, she worked quietly, monitoring the power flow while checking an open panel of electronics for the sensor upgrade project. All the while she felt that new something inside of her, the swevyra Meridina had taught her to tap into, scream in worry and anticipation. The energy of the ship around her was shifting. Some of the crew was becoming angry.

And then she felt the first surge of pain and a familiar life force within it. "Cat," she murmured.

Boots were clamping down on the metal deck from a distance, growing in intensity. In that moment Lucy knew something was wrong. She left the panel and retreated down one hall to a nearby storage locker. She reached for her belt but was reminded she was unarmed, a concession to friendship that was now proving unwise.

Meridina's voice returned to her mind. You do not need weapons, she had said early in their training. With swevyra all is possible. Your very essence can protect you from an attacker.

Well, I guess I'm about to find out, she thought to herself. Lucy felt another surge of terror and pain and knew it was Cat. They're beating up Cat.... why?! What's going on?!

The door opened suddenly and two armed crewmen stepped in, brandishing firearms. "There you are!", the lead one barked. "Hands on your frakking head or we'll splatter your brains all over the wall, you frakking Cylon-lover!"

Lucy held her hands up for a moment, thinking. She could feel Caterina hurting and more importantly felt their rage, their hatred. They intended the same for her the moment she was in their power.

Lucy had once been helpless in the power of such men. It was not an experience she intended to repeat.

So she moved.

And the guns went off.

Robert stepped onto the bridge and was met by Julia. "Jarod was calling for help and said he was under attack," she informed him. "We can't get ahold of anyone now."

Robert went for his chair. "Patch me through to Galactica."

Jupap, sitting at Ops, nodded. "Opening channel," the Alakin ops officer chirped.

"This is Captain Dale to the Galactica," Robert said. "Please come in. We can't reach our people."

For a moment there was no response. "Their shields are up," Jupap confirmed.

"Rob, what's going on?", Julia whispered.

"Everything's going to Hell," he replied in a similar hushed tone.

After another ten seconds the hail was answered. "This is Admiral Adama."

"Admiral, we received a distress call from Commander Jarod," Robert said. "And your shields are up so we can't beam him over. Do you know what's going on?"

"As a matter of fact, I do." There was something weary in Adama's voice. It was the sound of a man not entirely pleased with what was being done, but he knew he had to do it. "Under the orders of President Roslin, I've placed your people under arrest as Cylon agents."

Julia's jaw dropped open. "You can't be serious," she hissed.

From Tactical Angel stared daggers at the viewscreen. "Cat," she murmured.

Robert swallowed. "Admiral, this isn't necessary. We can work out an arrangement."

"They will be returned to you when you return the Cylon to our custody," Adama responded.

Julia stared at Robert. "So Meridina did..." She stopped when Robert shook his head at her.

"Admiral, I know what you're planning to do to her," Robert said. "I can understand why you hate Cylons, but it doesn't justify forcing someone to abort their baby."

Adama stood in the CIC with the phone to his head. "That's not your place to decide, Captain. She was our prisoner. Our responsibility. You had no right to seize her from our custody."

"But you have the right to kill an unborn child?"

Adama remained silent while Tigh rolled his eyes. "That's not up for discussion, Captain Dale. Return the Cylon and we'll give your people back. That's all that has to happen here." He lowered the phone somewhat and looked at Tigh. Every bit of his expression told his crew that Adama was, in his own way, begging Captain Dale to acquiese and to not kill the hopes they'd been feeling since meeting the Aurora crew.

Robert ignored the glaring look from Angel. He could see Julia's jaw was clenched now that she knew the stakes. "Could you give me a guarantee she won't be mistreated?", Robert asked. "And that President Roslin will rescind her order for the forced abortion?"

There was silence at first. Robert bit into his lip a little. Please, Admiral Adama. Don't do this! We can make it up to you, don't do this out of pride!

Adama kept his eyes focused on the DRADIS screen. He thought about just agreeing. Get the Cylon back and plead to Roslin to change her mind and avoid a rupture that could doom the Colonial Fleet. Right now his only bargaining chips were the four Aurora officers he was holding.

"I can try to convince the President, yes," he said. "But I won't give a false guarantee." He lowered the receiver and checked DRADIS again. The Aurora had, during their time with the Fleet, positioned itself several thousand caroms out to give it room to maneuver in event of a renewed Cylon attack. But now it meant it had room to maneuver to attack his Battlestars. "Four of your people for one Cylon, Captain. I know how much you care about your crew. Please listen to reason."

"Listen to reason?" Robert frowned. "Me? You're the ones throwing our help back in our faces. You're the ones who've attacked the officers I sent to help you because you want to execute an unborn baby!"

Locarno looked back. "Orders, sir?

"We will not be dictated to," Adama insisted. As he did so he knew where this conversation was headed. And it wasn't in the direction he wanted. He put a hand to his receiver. "Have all Vipers ready to launch. Prepare main guns."

Tigh's expression stiffened. "Yes sir."

"And I won't let you get away with using my people as hostages," Robert retorted. "We can offer you so much, Admiral. A new home. Protection from the Cylons. Maybe... maybe one day we could even get our fleet out to the Colonies and liberate them! But none of this will happen if you don't stand down now."

Robert looked to Julia. "Signal Laurent," he mouthed, not even speaking.

Julia nodded with comprehension. She hit a key on her pad, signaling the flight deck to prepare for launch.

Adama clenched his jaw and looked to Tigh, who shook his head. They both knew where this was going. "It's all a waste," Adama lamented. "Such a godsdamned waste." He brought the phone back up. "I'll say it again, Captain. Return the Cylon or your people will stand trial as Cylon agents."

Robert heard the bridge door swish open. Meridina emerged onto the bridge and looked down on him. "You're asking me to send a woman back to your custody to have her baby murdered, and you're holding my people hostage to give me no choice." Robert hit a key to temporarily mute his transmitter, ensuring Adama couldn't her him. "Status on their shields?"

"They're at full power," Jupap reported.

"But they're not very thick," Angel added. "It'll take a few shots but I can destabilize them enough to get a transporter beam through."

"That would require us to lower shields," Julia reminded them all. "We'd need to their weapons too. And if we do that, we could leave their entire Fleet defenseless. The Cylons would slaughter them."

"Or we take our chances and lower our shields too to get Cat and the others out." Angel's voice sounded tranquil, but Robert and Julia exchanged worried looks. They knew that tone of voice. A calm before the storm, and a violent storm of rage it would be. "Or we just give them the damn Cylon back."

"Then you would be condemning Sharon's unborn daughter to an abortion," Meridina pointed out calmly from where she was standing.

Angel bit into her lip. "Bastards, those bastards", she hissed. Tears appeared at the corner of her eyes as her need to protect her sister warred with her beliefs about life and the sanctity of one's own body.

"We're probably going to die, you know."

Adama cast a sideways glance to Tigh. He looked back without apology. "You saw what that thing did to a Cylon Basestar, sir. Those shields they gave us are jury-rigged models. They'll blast through them like tissue paper."

"Which means they can't risk it," Adama pointed out. "If they damage our ships too badly their friends will die too."

"Are you sure of that, sir?", Tigh asked pointedly. "Because this kid doesn't sound like he's going to fold. He might risk it."

"Even if he does disable us... he knows he'd be leaving us defenseless against the Cylons." Adama set his jaw. "He's not going to risk forty eight thousand people for one life."

Robert drew in a breath and swallowed. "You realize that if we do this," he started, "and if we end up crippling those ships.... these people will be defenseless."

"Do you really think Adama would risk that?", Julia asked. "Is one Cylon more important than their entire civilization?"

"I am not sure if he is bluffing or not," Meridina said. "He is a very practical man, but also very capable of standing his ground."

"He's not the only one," Robert murmured. He turned the audio output back on. "Admiral, I'm not letting you hold our people hostage like this. We came to you to help you. And you've betrayed that."

"Your people raided my ship," Adama retorted. "You broke in to a secure section and you stole away a valuable prisoner, all to impose what you decided was right over the decisions of our official leadership. Who are you to say what we can and can't do?"

"I shouldn't have to say that kind of thing!", Robert shouted. The heated tone in his voice was almost startling to those on the bridge. He sounded like he'd been wounded by what Adama was implying. "You should be a moral enough man to know right from wrong!"

Adama's face remained emotionless. In his heart and mind, he felt agreement with that. But he had a duty to perform. And he didn't believe Dale was the kind of man to abandon all that was left of a society like that. "I have an obligation to obey the orders of our civilian leadership," he said, keeping any trace of irony out of his voice. "All I can do is promise you that if you return the Cylon, I'll appeal to President Roslin to allow more time before she mades a decision."

"You and I both know she won't," Robert replied. "She knows she's dying. She won't trust us to save her and she damned well won't leave this for Doctor Baltar will decide. I want your word that no matter what happens, you won't kill that Cylon woman's baby."

Adama closed his eyes. "I can't make that promise, Captain." He looked to Tigh and shook his head.

On the Aurora bridge, Robert closed his eyes and drew in a breath. He looked to Julia and shook his head.

Tigh nodded. "All hands, prepare for battle stations!"

Julia closed her eyes and gave a nod of understanding. "Code Red! All hands man battle stations."

Robert swallowed. "Launch Koenig and all fighters. God forgive us."

"Launch all Vipers," Adama ordered. "Gods have mercy on us all."

From all three ships fighters began to pour out of their quick-launch tubes. The Aurora]'s dock door opened up to permit a quick launch deployment of the Koenig, which came about and took a vector approaching the Pegasus and its fleet of fighters.

On the bridge of the Koenig Zack was closing his eyes and praying. His friends were on those ships.... was it really going to come to this?

Lee Adama moved his fighter into defensive formation and looked at the approaching Mongoose fighters of the Alliance ship. The shape would have been more similar if not for the wings on the Mongoose fighters, engine nacelles visible at the apex of the wings "above" the fighter's main hull.

"Everyone stand by. Do not fire unless we get the order from Galactica," he ordered.

In the Galactica CIC Adama watched the developing tactical situation on the DRADIS. "Have the Fleet jump to emergency coordinates as soon as their drives spool up," he ordered. "I want them out of the line of fire."

"He's going to do it," Tigh breathed. "He's going to attack us."

"Sir..." Gaeta looked up from where he was monitoring, among other things, the new hardlight display showing their shield status and controls. It stood out in the CIC, a stark reminder of what the Aurora crew had helped them with. "Can't we..."

"We cannot, Mister Gaeta," Adama said gruffly, cutting him off. "If we back down now, we'll always back down."

"This is crazy, sir! One Cylon can't be worth..."

"Belay that talk, Mister!", Tigh shouted.

Gaeta paled and nodded stiffly. "I'm picking up active scans from weapons systems. Their fighters are locking on to Galactica and to our fighters."

"Lock our weapons on their fighters, if they shoot at our people shoot back," Adama ordered.

"Fighters report weapons lock on the Galactica. Koenig has locked weapons on Pegasus," Jupap said. "They are waiting for your order to engage."

It was the moment of decision. Robert felt like he was alone in the central chair, the weight of the dilemma starting to crush him. Four of his people, of his friends, were at stake.

And so was an innocent, unborn life, to be snuffed out because of a dying woman's prejudice.

"Sir, I have weapons locks," Angel reminded him. "Permission to fire?"

"There has to be another way," Julia said. She shook her head. "Something better than this."

"If we back down, then what do we stand for?", Robert asked. "We're just saying it's okay for prejudice to do horrible things because it's practical. I... I don't think I can live like that. And I think they'd understand. Tom, Jarod, Cat, Lucy... they all signed on believing in doing what was right. They'll understand." He took in a breath. "They'll understand," he repeated, as if trying to convince himself.

"Aurora, enemy fighters weapons are hot. Do we have permission to engage?"

And so it came down to this. More than his decision at LA33, or at Krellan Nebula, or in the DMZ.... this was the big one for Robert Dale. This was where he had to decide what mattered to him. His friends were being threatened because of his principles, and his choice was to give in on the things he believed or to act to get his friends back, regardless of the consequences.

He looked back to Meridina, who was watching him closely, conflict all over her face. She had set this into motion. Now she had to watch him take up the burden of finishing her action.

He swallowed... and he decided.


To Be Continued....
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-09-11 12:08pm

It's amazing how quickly Roslin can make things turn to shit.
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

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Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby Borgholio » 2014-09-11 12:26pm

I never really liked her character much. They should have had Billy or Lee in that position. Adama should have been smacked several times over the way he obeyed her illegal and immoral orders on several occasions.
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Re: "Seeking the Past" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 1

Postby ThatOneCatC » 2014-09-11 01:47pm

I am very much enjoying this story. I have a question regarding the shields installed on the colonial ships. How were the vipers able to launch through it while it was up? I am under the impression that the fed ships can launch through a shield by matching their fighters shields to the "frequency"(?) of the carriers, otherwise they would impact the shield while leaving. Are the shields they installed different? If so could they cloak, get close enough (under the shields) and beam their people out that way?

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