Get your fill of sci-fi, science, and mockery of stupid people
* FAQ    * Search   * Login 
Want to support this site? Click

Quote of the Week: "In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own." - Alexis de Tocqueville, French writer (1805-1859)


All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 29 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Manifest Destiny PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:12am
Offline
The Quiet One
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-25 10:07pm
Posts: 3304
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Table of Contents

Continuing Bean's Wonderful Idea of cleaning up certain Fan Fics I have decided to provide a cleaned up version of Mark S's WONDERFUL Fanfic which as I noticed doesn't really have a title other than what we all know it as: Mark S's Fic.

This is Mark S's Fanfic and NO ONE ELSE's.

I am NOT CLAIMING ANY SORT OF CREDIT.

Mark S is the author and sole creator of this wonderful story and I just want to provide it a nice cleaned up look.

So enough from me...


Star Wars: The Republic's Crusade

Or

Star Trek: Invasion

By Mark Shantz



Captain LeFay sat aboard the USS Flurry looking at, in his opinion, one of the most beautiful displays in the galaxy. On the large screen at the head of the bridge, plumes of lightning jousted back and forth, illuminating the colors of the dense nebula they had been sent to study. It was nice to get back to the finer things in life now that the Dominion War was over.
LeFay was a lot like his ship in some respects. They both were starting to show their age and they were both definitely built for science, not war. It had been a trying time for everyone aboard the Flurry when the call had come in to scrub all current missions and report to Earth for refitting and redeployment. His people weren't soldiers and they certainly hadn't signed on for that kind of duty. But they were StarFleet and every once in a while you had to pay for all the privileges that entailed.
These were calmer, happier times though. The ship and her crew had seen the end of the war in relatively one piece and now they were back to their old routine; following hot on the heels on the Federations flag ship herself.
"Studies are now complete on the class seven nebula, Sir," LeFay's exec, one Commander Diana Parsons, stated from the chair at his right. Adding with a wry smile, "Another ‘Gaseous Anomaly' bites the dust, Sir."
The analytical practices of Picard's science staff were somewhat of a joke throughout the Starfleet science community. Any remotely unusual phenomenon was labeled either a gaseous or spatial anomaly and promptly handed off to headquarters for further investigation. As a result, there was always one science vessel or another in the plasma trail of the Enterprise, finishing analysis that sometimes only took a matter of hours. It was beyond LeFay and his colleagues as to what Picard's hurry was but many a ship and crew had filled their commissions doing little else.
To give the Enterprise credit, they had made their share of extremely detailed discoveries. However, those only seemed to occur when the phenomenon in question was putting the ship in some direct and massive danger.
"Who's next in the hopper Di?" the Flurry's captain asked, taking one last look at the cosmic light show.
"Spatial anomaly this time, Sir! Looking at the initial report I'd say it was a dying black hole."
"Well, that will be quite a thing to see. Who says there isn't a God? Lay in a course and inform astrophysics. I'll be in my office looking at the nebula reports." LeFay rose as he gave the orders and nodded to his first before heading for his ever growing file of paper work.
Yes. Back to the old routine. No killing, no destruction, no exploding conduits, no screaming ensigns, no more letters to bereaved families. Just exploration and discovery. He had thought about taking an early retirement after the war but decided against it. The only thing that seemed to take the image of the Ulysses colliding with the Montezuma out of his brain was to fill it with as much work as he could.
Hours sped by at warp speed as the captain of the science vessel Flurry immersed himself in the more tedious part of his job. He had no idea what time had passed when he was summoned back to the bridge. Time didn't matter.
"I was right, Sir," Parsons greeted as she relinquished the command chair. "It's a pretty dense one but it's a black hole in it's final stages. We're just catching the last few gasps from a safe distance."
"Well, we're lucky we got here when we did." Lefay scanned the preliminary reports coming in from the ship's various departments. Something caught his attention.
"Take a look at the gravity fields that thing's producing. Amazing isn't it? And did you notice the wave front coming in from one two six mark five." The captain was in his element and everyone on the bridge could see it. In fact, they could all practically feel the energy building in his small, boney frame.
The Commander scanned the data tables and charts on her screen again and zoomed the main viewer to one two six mark five. Nothing appeared but twinkling stars. "Mr. Tang, see if the computer can't extrapolate anything about the spatial distortion at these coordinates."
Within seconds the area in question became a carnival of display colors. A cluster of irregularly shaped, extremely dense masses hurtling towards the black hole appeared in blue, their gravity well became a green "shelf" surrounding the group, and the gravity wave produced by their motion, a series of green lines. The cluster would reach the event horizon in 33 seconds
"Dark matter." The words came from around the bridge. Some places matter-of-factly, some with a burst of comprehension, and one with awe.
"Nick, drop another long range probe, this position. Cha'Ri'Na, take us back. As fast as you can get this tub to go please." The captain's calm orders translated into a furious wave of finger motion at the helm and the ship spun on it's axis and darted away at warp 8.
Through the probe they all watched as the dying giant spewed forth increasing amounts of radiation and the dark matter sped into it's mouth. With a flash, the feed from the probe went blank and the computer cut to their own long range sensors. Again, the screen would relinquish nothing but stars.
"Take us in again. Warp five. I want a full sensor sweep as we go." LeFay's tone was even as he stood. The emotion was all in his eyes.
Information started streaming through the sensor array immediately. The Flurry passed it's original position with no trace of the probe and continued on, heading for ground zero.
Confusion touched Commander Parsons' voice as she analyzed the data flow. "Sir, the black hole is gone but we're still reading gravametric activity at the point of collapse. Our warp field is reacting with... distorting the area as we approach."
In Parsons' confusion, enlightenment dawned on the captain of the Flurry. "All stop."
The starship came to a halt 100,000 kilometers from where the black hole's event horizon had once been. In an instant, the space before the ship was flooded with tachyons and a brilliant blue vortex grew from a single point to fill their view screen.
"Ladies and gentlemen," LeFay made the address to all hands on the ship. "We have just witnessed, and perhaps inadvertently been a part of, the birth of what appears to be a stable wormhole. I hope you like the scenery because we're going to be in the area for quite awhile I think."



Two thousand five hundred years ago the Old Republic had charted and catalogued the Rodoeen system and scheduled it for detailed analysis. Twenty five hundred years later, give or take a century, the New Republic had finally gotten around to assigning the mission. True, there had been a number of religious and civil wars in that time, not to mention the Old Republics legendary red tape, but those facts didn't stop the three man crew of the Star Manx from laying bets as to whether the system held some vast and mysterious secret to the universe that would have saved millions of lives or made everybody one with the Force. The ship's captain, Link Tondon, had been around long enough to know that probably wasn't the case.
The four planet system had nothing particularly interesting going for it. Three dead rocks and a gas ball orbiting a dull red star. Preliminary scans and subsequent sample analysis had shown indications of some valuable ores in two of the rocks but no tabanna or anything else notable in the gas giant. Nothing in the system supported life or ever had. All in all, it had been a pretty lazy mission.
A small light flashing from a console accompanied by a dull buzz pulled the captains eyes from the stars to his Rodian crew member. It did not, however, wake the pudgy human asleep at the back of the cabin. Teller was the biologist, he just did the animate stuff.
"What's up Cheena?" Link stood to see over the alien's shoulder.
A few seconds of reading passed before Cheena replied. "Looks like a wormhole opening two light years out of the system." How she managed to produce galactic common speech with that proboscis was always a mystery to him.
"I guess the Force is with us after all. Maybe we can catch it before it collapses." He was back in his seat and leaving Rodoeen 2's orbit before he finished talking.
Meanwhile, the Rodian physicist was turning to her other companion, upper ears swivelling with mirth. "He looks so cute. Wake up little one or you'll miss all the fun."
"Huh, what?" Teller came awake in a daze.
Link chuckled. "We're trying to catch a wormhole before it collapses. Thought you might not want to miss the most exciting part of the mission."
"See," Teller relied. "This is why I sleep up here. No telling when the actions going to come."
In moments the Star Manx came out of hyperspace at the gapping maw of the space-time conduit. The ship's senors recorded everything that happened and the crew waited with baited breath for the inevitable.
"It doesn't seem to be closing." Teller's statement was as much a question to the physicist.
"<I don't understand>," Cheena had reverted back to her Rodian language in excitement. "Our arrival should have caused it to collapse. Someone must be keeping it open on the other side. Or it's stable, but I doubt that."
At that moment the Manx gave another alert. Within seconds something appeared from the vortex, streaking straight for them.
"Holy shit balls!" Link raised the shields with mere seconds to spare before the vessels collided head on. The object broke up first and then exploded with a flash of antimatter, rocking the small survey vessel and it's three crew members.
"Was that a missile?! Did someone just shoot at us from the other side?!" Cheena, who had never even seen a blaster in real life, was beside herself.
"I don't know," Link replied. "But I'm not waiting around to see if they send another one!"
"It can't be," Teller said, scanning the shield display. "These shields would never stand up to even a concussion missile. They're designed for space debris and stuff like that."
By that time the ship was safely in hyperspace and the discussion was moot.


Back aboard the Flurry, captain LeFay was concerned. The first probe they had sent through was now ten minutes over due. If the follow up didn't return it would not bode well in the eyes of the war weary Federation. It did return, thankfully, and there were many sighs of relief. Until the data that the probe contained was analyzed that is. The first probe had been destroyed and there was no trace of the culprit nor any trace of life in the surrounding systems. As well, none of the stars matched anything on the charts. Where ever the other side of that tunnel was, it wasn't in the Milky Way.
Within hours of filing his report with Starfleet, however, the problem was no longer LeFay's to be concerned about. Three Defiant class ships decloaked before the Flurry armed with bad attitudes and orders from the admiralty. The logs from the science vessel were down loaded and then summarily erased and each crew member was debriefed and informed that any discussion of the events or the wormhole would result in immediate incarceration on the penal colony of their choosing. The area was labeled as a warp damaged hazard and quarantined from public travel.
To Captain Boughmont and his two colleagues time was of the essence. With all that had happened with the last wormhole it was hard not to jump the gun, so to speak. Whatever was on the other side of that thing, be they peaceful or not, would not be allowed to cross over without permission. They, on the other hand, needed to gather as much data as possible. So far, with one probe destroyed without question and the other picking up nothing useful but a couple of lifeless systems, and the fact that it was not in the same galaxy, the only option was to send in a reconnaissance mission to scout the locals more personally.
Boughmont's ship, the Shinobi, cloaked and plunged into the wormhole. At the same time, the other two ships, the St. Peter and the Cerberus, began to deploy their stock of self-replicating mines. The mines had proven a very effective tool in the past. After deployment was complete the two ships would remain in cloak as sentry until a more substantial fleet arrived to relieve them. They were there to guard against unwanted visitors from their own side as much as the other.
The Shinobi reached the other side in silence and immediately performed a series of passive scans. Detecting nothing in the area, not even a residual warp signature, Boughmont ordered long range active scans and waited in silence, staring at the alien starscape.
At long last Lieutenant Commander Mpala reported from tactical. "I'm finally picking up some activity Sir. It's in an asteroid belt, just on the edge of our scanner range, looks like a mining station or something."
"Helm," Boughmont felt the adrenaline start to fill his blood. "Get us to within easy short range distance. Warp 9."
Days passed as the Shinobi charged along it's course. Back in the darker rooms of Starfleet headquarters, the new wormhole was a topic of much discussion. While the incursion action of the Shinobi was a sticky subject, none could disagree that the Federation could ill afford another Dominion. With the mine field in place on their side however, the air was a little easier to breath and it was decided that this was something the President, for the time being, did not need to know.


In the Republic, news of the wormhole and it's mysterious torpedo had sparked debate as well. True, the alleged ‘missile' had only been powerful enough to knock out the survey vessels shields and did not seem to many like a missile at all, but it was argued that whoever had launched it may have been technologically inferior. Why someone would launch an attack as their first course of action was baffling, but there wasn't enough wreckage to prove anything conclusively either way. More information was definitely needed before any conclusions were to be reached. As a precaution, three Star Destroyers were deployed to guard the wormhole while scientific investigation proceeded. Four jedi would be present as well, in the event that negotiations were to commence with whatever power or powers resided on the other side.
At the wormhole, the Republic Star Destroyers Maxim, Leneer, and Sabre sat lazily by as probe droids buzzed around it's hypnotic depths, effectively propping it open. Gerra Windfire had been put in charge of the over one hundred scientists that had flocked for the chance to study the apparently naturally stable conduit and whatever was on the other side. Many of these scientists were the top minds of the galaxy and it felt odd for Gerra to be ordering them around. Even if she was the preeminent wormhole specialist in the Republic, she had never liked being in charge of things.
"Ready six probes for launch into the wormhole." Gerra watched the holographic projection rotate slowly before her.
"Probes ready for launch, Ma'am."
"Launch." A room full of scientists waited in anticipation as the six probes dropped from the Maxim's hanger and streaked toward the wormhole. With a flash they were gone.


"Something's coming through Sir!" The tactical officer of the USS Cerberus, jumped from his daydreaming.
On the main screen, the wormhole spat up six tiny objects. Within seconds they were each consumed by the self-replicating mines.


"What do you mean ‘All six have been taken off line'?" Gerra raised her voice at her insectoid graduate student in spite of herself.
"Just that! I was receiving a signal from each one of them until they reached the other side. They cleared the hole's other end and then boom. Static." The automatically translated voice and the breathing apparatus could not hide the defensive chirps and whistles of the student.
"Of course. The other side closed up on us. Lets give it one more try. Just one probe through this time and one to be the door stop. Program them to stop as soon as they get through. If they die on us again, inform the rest of the staff and Captain Pooda." Gerra flopped down into her chair to watch the next probes rocket forward. "Maybe I should arm these things with turbolasers."
"That did it, Ma'am. I'm patching the droid's feed to the projector." Everyone present turned to watched as the picture appeared, floating at the head of the room.
"That looks like a mine field!" The exclamation had come from Wa-Na Loodie, an anthropologist straight from Coruscant, who had rushed up so close to the image that his pointed nose was submersed in it.
"You're not exactly transparent Loodie. Why don't you let the rest of us take a look?" The imperious comment came from Jiari Hax, Loodie's main rival.
From a computer terminal at the back of the room an indeterminate voice chimed in, "Look, the probe is being scanned!"
At that point the room erupted in debate about anything and everything. Gerra turned to her student before heading for the door. "Inform Captain Pooda and tell him I'm on my way."


Even though they were still in cloak, the Shinobi hung back from the asteroid mining colony. The belt was relatively inactive and it had been easy for the ship to navigate safely without shields. Now they sat behind one of the larger adjacent asteroids, protected but still within beaming range.
The doors to the captain's ready room opened and Commander Bala strode in, still wearing the nondescript clothing he had donned for his reconnaissance of the colony. StarFleet Intelligence had done an intensive study on what was the most unsuspicious, unassuming, common looking attire, depending on the situation of course. To their credit, it seemed to work.
"You're not going to believe this Captain." Bala's voice matched his face's look of amazement as he held out his report. "The population's mostly Human down there!"
"Interesting." Boughmont's even tone was betrayed by his wry smile. He took the offered data pad and half looked at it. "Interesting and advantageous. For both sides if it's true."
"I did a DNA scan on one of the locals, Captain. I'm one hundred percent sure. That's about the only similarity though. Language is completely different, technology's different. I don't know too much about the culture though, translator was having a hell of a time down there. I couldn't read a damn thing either. I'll tell you one thing, that's the biggest mining colony I've ever seen in my life."
Boughmont looked at Bala, he could feel the man's excitement. Bala was a born chameleon, a spy through and through. It's what he loved, it's what he did best. "I want you to put together some gear for a long term stay..."


The Shinobi left the asteroid field, three men short, following a small commercial freighter. Matching the ships sublight speed, Boughtmont prepared for warp, intending to trail the ship to it's next port.
"They're powering up their main engines and making an alignment change, Sir," Lieutenant Gerard reported from the helm, waiting for orders. "I'm not detecting a warp signature."
With a burst of energy, the freighter seemed to stretch and then disappeared. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. No space warp, no trail to follow.
"Did they just go into cloak? Did they see us?" Shinobi's captain felt a tingle of apprehension.
"If it's a cloak it's not one our sensors can detect, Captain," Mpala answered at tactical. "Long range scans show nothing either. As far as Shinobi's concerned, the freighter's just... gone."
"Align us with that last vector Ensign. Maximum warp. Let's see how fast that little ship is really going." Superlight speed without warp? What else were they going to have up their sleeves.


The Republic Star Destroyer Leviathan sidled up to the Traveeca asteroid belt trying to get as clear a transmission through to the colony without having to blast away any of their profitable rocks.
"This is Star Destroyer Leviathan to Traveeca mining colony," a young com/scan officer made contact. "What is it we can do for you, Governor?"
"Leviathan. Yes, good." The balding administrator wiped his head distractedly, eyes shifting as he spoke. The young ensign had seen a lot of this reaction. Star Destroyers still carried very bad connotations with a lot of the older generation. "We started picking up some unusual spatial disruptions a day or so ago. I hadn't really had time to do much about it and it didn't seem to be too pressing considering it wasn't spreading and all..."
"Yes Governor. Thank you for bringing this to our attention," If only the messages from these asteroid colonies didn't get so garbled going through the belt, the ensign started to daydream.
"No, wait!" The bald old man waved his hands, frantically trying to ward off disconnection. "It's just that the disruption left this afternoon. Sensors seem to think it was following a local freighter, the Buckrider it says here. I don't want anyone thinking my operation is environmentally unsound! I've got enough to worry about besides fines and shutdowns."
"Thank you, Sir. All civilian tips are appreciated. Leviathan out." That wasn't so painful now was it you old bastard, the ensign thought. Didn't he know by now that they were a kinder, gentler navy?
With a quick scan of the area to confirm the warps in space, the ensign passed the information on to his superior. From there it traveled it's way up the chain of command until ten minutes later Captain Mulby was being informed.
"Oh happy day," the captain sang to his executive officer sarcastically. "We get to give damaged freighters free rides to dry dock. Next we'll have to get out with mops and clean up the mess. I'm going to my office if you need me."
The first officer laughed. "Com/Scan, see if you can't get a fix on that damaged ship. Give them a shout and tell them to heave to. Helm, follow that trail!"
"Sir," the com/scan bridge officer shouted up from his pit. "I've got hold of the ship in the sensors but there's something odd. It's doing lightspeed but it's not using hyperspace."
"How fast?" The Commander didn't think you could go past the speed of light without hyperspace.
"A little less than a billion kilometers a second, Sir. They aren't responding to hails. Oh, and Sir, Traveeca told us they were identified as the Buckrider. This ship displays no Republic identification."
The Leviathan's second in command shook the strange details from his head and acted on the situation. "Helm, give me a quick jump. Land us three billion kilometers in front of that ship. Tactical, as soon as we come out of hyperspace I want her caught in a tractor beam. Go!"


The bridge crew of the Shinobi all concentrated on the screen in front of them. The vessel they had been pursuing moments before was now forgotten. Someone had spotted them, someone very, very big.
"They're hailing us Sir. They know we're here but they've made no move to intercept at any significant speed." Mpala couldn't keep his eyes off the monster on his tactical display.
"Don't jump the gun yet Mr. Mpala," Boughmont's mind was moving faster than his ship. "All stop. Cut main power. All I want is life support, the viewer, and the cloak and even then I want everyone holding their breath."
The Shinobi's sudden stop took the footing out from under a number crew members. As the lights dimmed and computer terminals went blank everyone paused and waited silently, expectantly. A second later and the behemoth ship in pursuit was gone, only to reappear far ahead. In another, they were somehow right on top of them. At this range it's wedge shape and rear tower were clearly visible. The monster began to move steadily towards their position.


"They're at a stop, Sir," The Leviathan's tactical officer announced as they returned to sublight. "Shall I still tractor them?"
"Don't bother yet," came the captain's reply as he strode in. "I've got it now Commander. Com/Scan, why can't I see it?"
"Sorry, Sir," a second of button pushing and a green outline of the small vessel appeared over it's relative position in space. "They've been using a form of wide spectrum cloak. The gravimetric sensors picked them up right away and I actually didn't remember that you couldn't see them up there. Now they're just sitting dead."


On the Shinobi, Boughmont watched as a ship that looked as though it could run his right over without noticing, came to a stop kilometers away.
"Boy's and girls, I think the jig is up." The captain began to contrive his best diplomatic smile. "Restore main power, raise shields, decloak and let me hear that hail. Let's hope the computer's been able to figure out this language."
Everything powered up and the lights brightened as the Shinobi decloaked.


"...Unidentified freighter, this is the Republic Star Destroyer Leviathan. Your propulsion system is in violation of Republic environmental code 636-E. Please take your main engines off line and prepare for docking procedure."


"Still no positive translation Captain. I think they think we're a freighter? And there's something about an environmental problem."
"Freighter? Environmental problem? Are we leaking anything?" That was one thing he hadn't expected them to say.
"No Sir," came the reply. "The ship's 100 percent. I don't detect them leaking anything either. Nor have they raised shields."


"Captain Mulby, they're finally returning the hail." The com/scan officer had a note of confusion in his voice. "The computer doesn't recognize the language as any known in the galaxy. It's having a hard time piecing together a translation."
"Unknown ship and language," Mulby commented to his commander. "They must really be hicks."
"Looks like we're going to have to do this Imperial style," the Exec returned.
"Looks like. Com/Scan, advise them we are unable to understand their communications and that we are authorized to impound their vessel under Republic law. Let's hope they understand us more than we do them. Then inform hanger control of our new guests. Tactical, target tractor beam and pull them in."


Moments after the Destroyers transmission, the Shinobi shuttered and began to move against it's will.
"Tractor beam Sir. They intend to swallow us whole."
Impound the Shinobi?! Capture was not an acceptable outcome of this mission. "Mr. Mpala, lock phasers on that beam emitter and break us free. Mr. Gerard take evasive action the moment we're loose. Where the hell is Hora!?"
A stream of visible energy connected the two ships for a split second and the Shinobi was free, darting along the lower hull of the larger vessel.


"Number two tractor beam is gone, Sir."
"Oh!? Well! Firing on my ship I do not appreciate," Mulby's tone was stern and in control. "Shields up. Jamming field up. Gunnery officer, give them something to think about. One light turbolaser please. Whoever they are, if they're going to act like pirates we'll treat them like pirates."
Seconds later, a burst of green energy streaked from the Star Destroyer to land squarely on the smaller ships nose.


"Shields down five percent Sir."
Boughmont smiled despite the slight jerk of the ship, "If that's all they've got I'd say their bark is a little worse than their bite."
At that moment the turbo lift opened and Commander Hora rushed to stand next to his captain. "Sorry Sir, caught me in the shower." The Betazoid adjusted his collar and stared at the colossus filling the viewer.
"Too many life-forms to get a clean picture, Captain," Hora proceeded. "Most of the crew of that ship, though, don't even know anything is going on. If I knew where the bridge on it was, maybe I could be of more help?"
"Actually Commander, I don't think it really matters," Boughmont replied casually. "Mr. Mpala, let's introduce our new friends to the story of David and Goliath. Phasers at maximum, target that gun emplacement and any others you can detect."
"Sir," Mpala sounded concerned. "The computer is having trouble targeting the ship let alone finding the gun emplacements. They've set up a jamming field I can't break through."
"Don't tell me what you can't do, Lieutenant," the captain shot in annoyance.
"Switching to manual control."
The bridge crew of the Shinobi watched the jumping, pulsing, multiplying, static covered image of the Leviathan on the main screen as Mpala manually targeted and fired. The beam stabbed into space, wide of it's mark.
"No use, Sir," the tactical officer stated in frustration. "The only way we're going to hit that thing is if we either get close enough to break through this field or somebody looks out a window."
Captain Boughmont's face remained calm. "Get us in as close as we can. As soon as you have a shot Mr. Mpala, take it. Engineering, I nee..."
The order was belayed by a cloud of green bolts that peppered the ship. Boughmont flinched as a plasma conduit exploded behind him.
"Shields now down seventy five percent, Sir. Hull breaches on all decks, starboard side..."


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-17 12:51pm, edited 2 times in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:14am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
The order was belayed by a cloud of green bolts that peppered the ship. Boughmont flinched as a plasma conduit exploded behind him.

"Shields now down seventy five percent, Sir. Hull breaches on all decks, starboard side..."


Captain Mulby watched as the troublesome freighter came to a stop off their port bow. The jamming field impeded any visual enhancement but he could still see the ship well enough.

"Take them off line and tractor them into the hanger. I'll be in my office," the captain said turning around. He never made it to the door.


"It was some sort of charged particle beam. It's shorting everything out! Main po..."

The statement was cut off by the curt voice of the ships computer. "Warning. Power loss in warp containment field. Core breach imminent."


The USS Shinobi's explosion thundered silently against the shields of the Leviathan setting off a clamor of alarms. The Star Destroyer's captain spun on his heels to look from the drifting remains to his gunnery officer. He had ordered ion cannons!

"The ship blew after it had lost power, Sir," the weapons officer was on the defensive. "The ion cannon did not destroy it."

Mulby turned to his first officer. "Commander, I want the matter investigated and the report on my desk in five hours."


Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat in his ready room aboard the flag ship of the Federation perusing the latest reports from Starfleet. The ship had just completed it's current mission ahead of schedule, giving him a chance to catch up on the news. Not that he let it be known what he was doing. To most of the crew, the captain was a man who never stopped working.

For the most part there was nothing particularly interesting going on in the rest of fleet either. As a result, most of the reports he merely skimmed through. That is until he reached one that hit a little closer to home. The area around a spatial anomaly that they had recently investigated had been quarantined as a warp damaged zone after further study. Picard was no astrophysicist but he didn't remember anything indicating warp damage in their analysis. Could they have missed something?

The captain rose from his chair and was across the room in a few strides. The door opened at his approach to reveal the immaculate bridge and quietly working crew of the Enterprise. Deanna Troi looked up from the captain's chair. Her smile turned to mild concern as she read his emotions.

"What's the matter Captain?" The ships counselor asked as she relinquished the command chair.

Picard handed her the data pad he had brought containing the report. "An area we studied has been reported as warp damaged. If we inadvertently had anything to do with the situation I feel it's our duty to make ourselves as much help as we can."

"Of coarse," Troi replied looking up from the pad. "I'll have Data go over the sensor logs for that mission. Perhaps he'll be able to find something that was missed.

"Data to the bridge please."

Picard sat down. "Good. Helm find the coordinates for the spatial anomaly near the Ferora system and take us there at maximum warp."


Days after the first probes of the wormhole, Gerra again sat across the desk from the squarest man she had ever met. Literally, Captain Pooda was as wide as he was tall. Not muscular like some heavy gravity weight lifter, he reminded her more of a Hutt that was missing it's tail. A kinder gentleman she could never hope to meet, however, and she always felt he was a man that harbored no hidden agendas.

"The anthropologists and sociologists have come to a consensus, Captain," the chief scientist began her report. "They feel that we are dealing with an aggressive society. One that values most highly strength and the ability to defend ones self against attack. Why else launch a missile as their first move and surround their end of the wormhole with duplicating mines? They were testing us to see if we're worthy of their respect. This is all just speculation though. The Republic hasn't met another spacefaring species in twenty-five thousand years Captain. It's new ground for all of us."

"I see your point," the captain cut in. "But I still don't think that first encounter was a missile."

"Anyway," Gerra continued. "The committee has decided that a large show of force is the best coarse of action at this point. We haven't been able to reach the jedi for their take on the situation yet."

"That's because they've been recalled," Pooda answered. "Apparently Skywalker himself has decided to come to our little arm of the galaxy and meet the new neighbors personally. My side of things has analyzed the data from the probes and your ‘show of force' shouldn't be a problem. If you're right and it works though, negotiations will have to wait until we've gathered more intelligence."


The senior staff of the Enterprise sat in conference en route to the quarantine. Mr. Data had been able to find no reason to believe that their warp field could have reacted with the anomaly to damage space. As he was explaining his reasoning, the lieutenant now in control of the bridge announced to the captain that they were coming to within short range of the danger zone. Everyone stood and moved to the bridge, each taking their place in time to see a small Defiant class ship decloak in front of them. The image of a long haired, grey bearded captain appeared on the main viewer.

"I'm sorry Captain Picard," the man on the screen proclaimed. "This is a quarantined zone. There is extensive warp field damage to space in this area and it is too dangerous for ships to traverse. I can't allow you to proceed."

"I've read the report on the area Captain...," no answer was forth coming. "At any rate, mine was the last ship in the area before the quarantine was announced and we would like to be a part of the process of cleaning things up if we could."

"Thank you for the offer, Captain. Let me just check with my superiors to see what sort of help you can be." The screen reverted to the star field.

"He's lying, Captain," all eyes turned to Deanna. "You won't find any damage to space in this area and he's not contacting any superiors. He's trying to get us to leave without having to fire upon us."

"The counselor is right on at least one account, Captain," Data announced from the ships sensors. "Preliminary scans show no locations of spacial damage. I am, however, reading what appears to be a stable wormhole."

"A what?!" Commander Riker's voice shot from the captains side with amazement.

"That's right folks," Data answered sarcastically. "We've got another one."

"But why would they keep it a secret? Who would be trying to cover this up?" Riker's mind was reeling .

"It could be Section 31," the statement from chief engineer Geordi Laforge turned all heads to the rear of the bridge. "Conspiracies are a hobby of mine," he shrugged

"Well whoever they are, I'm more interested in what exactly it is they're up to," Picard could hardly believe what he was seeing. He did not like the turn that Starfleet had taken in recent years. With the Borg and the Dominion War the leaders of the Federation had become increasingly paranoid about attacks, then he had come across admirals plotting with the Son'a to steal entire planets away from peaceful beings, and now this. This sort of thing happened in the Romulan Empire not the United Federation of Planets! This was definitely not the Starfleet that he had joined as a wild youth. "Let's not wait to be asked this time, shall we? Ensign, set coarse for that wormhole, warp nine. Engage!"

"Attention all hands! Red alert!" Riker's words induced sirens and flashing red lights as the small ship in their view screen disappeared. It wasn't long before that ship was in full pursuit.

It was only a matter of moments before the Enterprise reached it's destination to find three more Defiant class ships waiting for them on the edge of a vast field of mines surrounding the terminus of the wormhole.

"Oh...My...God!" Anger pored from Captain Picard's mouth like water from a dam. "This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise! The flag ship of the United Federation of Planets! What the devil is going on here! Is this how you would greet any life-forms that cross through this wormhole?! With gun ships and mines?!"

"Captain," a young Lieutenant at the tactical station dared to interrupt the rant. "All ships have phasers and quantum torpedoes locked on us and ready to fire."

At that point the image of a heavy set woman appeared on the Enterprises main viewer. As she spoke, her gleaming teeth seemed all the whiter in contrast to her dark skin. "This is Admiral Williams aboard the USS St. Peter, Captain. I thank you for your concern but we have everything well under control here. You have all ready seen too much for your own good, please don't make me have to do anything as un-Starfleet as firing upon you. Make no mistake though, if that is what it takes to keep this wormhole a secret for the time being, that is what I will do. The Federation still needs room to breath before it makes contact with another Dominion, Borg or Whatever. You are not in possession of all the facts."

"Well then why don't you enlighten us to those facts?" Picard was trying to buy time to think. "This is the finest ship and crew in the fleet and we are capable of facing any challenge. We can either be a help to you or a hinderance but make no mistake, Starfleet will hear of this!"

At that moment Picard's words were thrown squarely back into his face as wave after wave of torpedoes shot from the wormhole like it was the barrel of some cosmic shot gun. Hundreds of self-replicating mines detonated and reformed only to be detonated again. It was clear that a beachhead was being created. When that task was complete, a monstrous wedge of a ship, over a kilometer and a half in length, burst through the wormhole, sixty odd weapons ports of unknown specification blazing with green energy.

Everyone on a Federation ship that was near a view screen, or even a window facing in the right direction, stood transfixed as the shower of green bolts devastated the mine field. It took a full thirty minutes for the mines to be totally destroyed. In that time the grey giant never stopped firing. When the field was completely gone, the five Starfleet vessels sat together feeling strangely naked in the gaze of the alien wedge, each captain stunned by the display. The beast then turned it's eye toward them.

"Take evasive action!!" all Federation captains shouted as one.

The hail began again in earnest, scrambling the smaller ships like leaves in the wind. A direct hit from one of the large forward emplacements and the Enterprise was defenseless. Each of the other ships were in a like manner in a matter of seconds. This triggered the final assault.

The giant now spewed forth a charged particle beam at it's prey, each ship being hit at roughly the same time. Picard could only watch impotently as his ship lost power and the emergency system kicked to life. Somewhere in the background the computer was warning about a core breach and Geordi was attempting to find any spare energy he could to maintain the containment fields. It all took side stage to the spectacle unfolding on the static filled screen at the head of the bridge however. The alien vessel was slipping back into the wormhole, leaving it's five victims to float helplessly in space.

It had already vanished when first one, then two, then three of the Federation battleships exploded into a mismatched field of mangled chunks. The two unprotected ships that remained could do nothing but brace themselves and hope as they were rocked by the destruction of their comrades.

The entire incident after the mine field was gone took a matter of seconds and left only the Enterprise and the St. Peter to stare bewildered at each other, floating powerless. It was another half hour of waiting before power returned to the major systems of either of the ships. The moment it did, the captain and the admiral sat glaring at each other from their respective vessels.

"Are you still intent on destroying my ship now, Admiral?" There was no hint of humor in Picard's voice as his image jumped and crackled over the still not totally functional screen.

"Perhaps now you can see that erecting the mine field was not such a bad decision," Admiral Williams countered. "For all the good it did us."

"Good or not, now there is no way you can prevent Starfleet Headquarters from knowing about this," Picard derided. "And in the mean time this wormhole is left open for more of those ships to come through."

"Tell whomever you must Captain," the admiral finally conceded. "I'm not worried. You see, this ship and I, well, we were never here." With that, the St. Peter faded into cloak and was gone.

"Captain Picard," the captain's head shifted to Data as the android spoke. "They sent over a data signal before they cloaked. It appears to be probe information about the other side, as well as sensor logs from the battle and scans of an alien probe."

"At least they want to be helpful." Riker's words dripped with sarcasm.

"That's enough Number One," Picard was not in the mood for wit. "Mr. Data, add the logs to our own and run an analysis. Mr. Laforge, what's our status?"

"The beam did no permanent damage Sir. At the rate we're powering back up we should have energy running through most systems in about twenty minutes. Most of the damage we've sustained was caused by our proximity to those other ships when they blew. Looking at this report, I'd say we could be back to full capacity in about a day or so."

"I need the Enterprise back on line as fast as you can, Mr. Laforge." The Captain rose from his chair. "We are the only thing guarding this wormhole at the moment. Mr. Data, inform me when you can give a briefing on your findings. Number One, you have the bridge." With that Picard strode to his ready room to place the angriest call to Starfleet of his life.


"The Admiralty denies knowing anything about it of coarse," Picard informed his command staff in the briefing room. "And the captain of the Flurry has gone on record saying that his crew remained silent about the wormhole and that their computer records had been erased all buy order of this Admiral Williams. Who, incidently is a small, balding, gentleman who has been retired in Beijing for the past ten years.

"Our orders at the moment are to stay here until more ships arrive to safeguard against another attack. Our first course of action, should that attack take place, is to collapse the wormhole. I, personally, would like to attempt to open a dialog with our new neighbors and see if we can't work out our differences before it comes to anything so drastic. I can't understand why they would attack us for no reason? Now Mr. Data, Mr. Laforge, what can the sensor logs tell us about what we're dealing with?"

"Originally, the spacial anomaly we discovered in this area was assigned to the USS Flurry for further investigation," Data began the synopsis. "They revealed that it was an ultra-dense black hole on the verge of collapse. They hypothesized that the collapse was impeded at the last moment by a subspace distortion caused by a mass of dark matter caught in the hole's gravitational pull. The resulting quasi-stabilization was amplified by the Flurry's warp field as it moved toward the phenomenon for a closer examination. There is much debate about what actually sparked the stabilization of the wormhole, but whatever the case, it is here none the less.

"After conducting a scan of the phenomenon, the Flurry launched a long range probe into the event horizon. This probe failed to return after reaching the other side and a second probe was sent to follow it up. The second, who's data can be seen here," Data indicated a large screen on the wall behind him, "found the wreckage of the initial probe scattered around the area directly in front of the wormhole nexus. This probe performed both long and short range scans of the surrounding region of space, finding no signs of life on nearby systems but residual energy traces in the vicinity of the wormhole itself. It would appear on first glance that there was initially a starship of some kind on the other side when the first probe was launched through. Presumably they were studying their side of the event. It would also appear, on first glance, that this ship destroyed the Flurry's probe and left the scene to gather the reinforcements we have witnessed. This is just speculation, however, and not fact. The two ships may have nothing to do with each other."

"At this point," Chief medical officer Beverly Crusher spoke up. "I think it's fair to assume that whoever they are, they're hostile. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt with the probe but after the attack we just went through..."

"Correct Doctor," Picard answered. "I'd like to believe there has been some misunderstanding, considering the nature of the other Starfleet vessels we've encountered. However, we can't afford to let our guards down at the moment."

"Yes," Riker added. "I think what we have witnessed is a little extreme for someone who simply doesn't like outsiders."

"Besides the lack of life on the local systems and the energy traces of the first ship," Data continued. "The probe telemetry shows a starscape completely different from our own. Zero point zero zero one percent match. The location on the other side of this wormhole is most likely in a galaxy on the other side of the universe. As well, a point of strategic value to note is the fact that, according to the density of stars seen, the wormhole location on the other side appears to be in a position one fifth of the way from the outer rim to the core. Very similar to it's location on this side.

"At this point, the probe was recalled and the Flurry made it's report to Starfleet. Hours later it was confronted by three Defiant class ships, the St. Peter, the Cerberus, and the Shinobi. After the Flurry left, the Shinobi passed through the wormhole on a reconnaissance mission and the other two proceeded to lay the mine field and wait for reinforcements. They waited there approximately three standard days before a resume in activity.

"At that time, six objects, most likely probes, entered our space from the wormhole. All six were destroyed by the self-replicating mines. Within minutes two more probes came through, stopping directly upon entering our space. One scanned the area and was scanned itself. When it was finished it turned and went back through. After this incident nothing has happened until today, six days later.

"Incidentally, the Shinobi was due to check in two days ago, Captain, despite mission status. It has not been heard from since it's departure."

"I'm sorry Captain," Commander Riker shook his head. "From what Data has just told us, and from what we've been through, I don't think there's much chance of peaceful contact."

"Not so fast Commander," it was the Counselors turn now. "Let's look at the situation from their point of view. There could be any number of reasons for them destroying that probe. Perhaps it posed a threat to them? Or perhaps it's their custom to destroy new probes they find, as a signal to the owners that someone else is out there. Who knows? And what about what they found when they tried to probe us? A mine field. Of coarse they're going to act aggressively. As for the Shinobi, there's no telling what could have happened to it. The possibilities are endless. They may even be partly to blame for all of this."

"Deanna may have a point, Captain," Geordi broke in. "On review of our logs and those of the St. Peter, the energy bursts that disabled us were not meant to destroy. They simply inhibited energy from being transmitted through the ships systems. A short circuit, in effect. The other ships, the Cerberus, the Aries and the Charon, exploded due to warp core breaches caused by loss of power to their containment fields. We only managed to survive because I was able pull together some extra power from the backups. It could very well be that our friend was giving us what they thought of as a relatively harmless show of force and never really intended to hurt anyone."

"How could they not know that cutting our power would cause a warp core breach?" The question was Riker's.

"That's just it, Commander," the engineer answered. "They may not have known. They displayed no warp signature at all. If they achieve faster than light travel without warp, they may have no idea of the consequences of their particle beam. Notice how they left the scene right away. They never saw the other ships explode, they may have no idea it happened."

"Or they might just have been confident that they got all of us on the first try." The commanders pessimism filled the room with a pause.

"There are some things that we do know," Geordi turned back to the captain. "First, as I said, they do not use warp technology as shown by the lack of warp signature. Second, the primary weapon they used was a form of high intensity plasma blast. It's a brute force type of weapon, Captain. It probably takes a hell of a lot of power to make it work but no amount of shield frequency adjustment is going to do us any good. This coincides with the large amounts of energy the ship must have been producing, judging from the degree of EM radiation it was giving off.

"Though we didn't get a chance to actually see their shields in action, we have to assume that they are on par with the strength of their weapons. As for how phasers or torpedoes will fare... No one got a shot off at them to find out.

"It's hard to speculate about the missiles we saw. All I can say is that they did a pretty good job of clearing the mine field of an area big enough for that ship."

"From the shear size of the vessel and ferocity of the attack," Data concluded. "It would be advisable to exercise extreme caution in any future dealings with this new galaxy."

At that point a voice sounded over the comm system. Another ship was coming through the wormhole. The news had the obvious effect of causing a veritable stampede of officers toward the bridge. Weapon systems were still not functional.

Everyone expected to be greeted with the image of another grey mammoth or one of even greater size. Instead, the main view screen showed the form of a tiny craft, not much larger then a standard runabout. The ship consisted of a main body sporting three wing-like protrusions in a triangular configuration.

"Sir, the ship is hailing us. Sensors indicate no life-forms."

"On screen, Ensign." Picard was almost breathless.

What appeared was not a grotesque monster, not an armored warrior, not even a shapeless blob. What the crew of the Enterprise was presented with was the unblinking visage of a metallic blue, humanoid robot. Data's jaw dropped in a most un-android like fashion. The being on the screen seemed to visibly jump at their appearance as well, but then proceeded to immediately greet them incomprehensibly in an obviously synthesized male voice.

"Greetings," Picard offered to the artificial humanoid with his biggest smile. "I am Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets. We wish to welcome you to our space and discuss the terrible events that have recently occurred. I certainly hope there will be no further aggression between our two peoples."

"I am sensing nothing Captain," Troi stated the obvious softly. "That is definitely not a biological entity." From her position, the counselor could not see the smile form on the face of her android comrade.

"Greetings," the android on the screen mimicked with perfect inflection. "I am Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets. We wish to welcome you to our space and discuss the terrible events that have recently occurred. I hope there will be no further aggression between our two peoples." The shiny blue head cocked slightly when it had finished.

"Looks like the Universal Translator isn't quite so universal," Riker remarked. "Either that or we have an uncanny coincidence. What now?"


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:37am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:17am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"Looks like the Universal Translator isn't quite so universal," Riker remarked. "Either that or we have an uncanny coincidence. What now?"

"We rely on the old standbys, Number One," Picard answered. "And we give technology a break."

Turning back to the screen, the Captain began to gesture sweepingly as he readdressed the android. "We wish you to come here." He spoke slowly as he gestured his words.

The blue alien robot cocked it's head again and stiffly lifted both arms in front of it. It then motioned from the captain to it's other hand. Next, it pointed at itself and made a motion with the same hand. Finally, it made the hand signifying itself fly around jerkily until it came to rest on the hand signifying the Enterprise. Both hands then dropped and the robot nodded it's head forward slightly.

"I believe it wishes to dock it's ship Captain," Mr. Data smiled giddily. "I wonder if it will recognize me as an android as well."

"Indeed, Mr. Data," the captain smiled back to his lieutenant commander. "I can't for the life of me see how we'll be able to convey ‘transporting', so ready shuttle bay three for the new arrival and transmit instructions as best you can. Follow me when you've finished Mr. Data and turn off that emotion chip before you embarrass yourself. Deanna, I'll need you as well. Number One, send two security officers to meet us, you have the bridge."

"Sir," the first officer protested. "Do you really think you should be meeting them directly? It could be a trap. I would much rather I go."

"Please Will," Picard answered. "If they were going to kill us they would have come back with that monster, not a shuttle carrying one android." With that, the three officers disappeared behind the doors of the turbolift.

"That is if there is actually only one of them," Riker commented to the remaining crew. "Keep the situation monitored and have security forces ready at a moments notice."


Picard, Troi and Data arrived at shuttle bay three minutes later to find the two security officers that had been requested already in the hanger in front of the alien craft. In it's landed position the shuttles lower ‘wings' were now folded straight up vertically. A boarding ramp at the front of the ship, looking for all the world like a giant mouth, dropped open to let it's passenger depart.

Down the ramp the humanoid robot quickly shuffled until it had reached level ground and was standing before the three officers. It looked passively from one security guard to the other and regarded Data curiously as he conducted a tricorder scan.

"No unusual materials, Captain," Data announced. "Simple steel alloy construction and housing. Very intricate circuitry. I am unable to detect weather it's brain is positronic in nature or not. I can see no way to down load any information to or from it's memory"

"It has eyes, Captain," Deanna began. "Perhaps if we let it use a computer terminal and accessed a literacy program?"

"Eyes...Down load...Literacy program?" The alien robot looked unpassionately from one person to the next as it mimicked. It was uncanny to Picard how it almost sounded like it was making sense.

"Good idea." Picard moved to a computer terminal in the bay, motioning for his guest to follow. The blue android shuffled along with small, precise steps.

Arriving at the computer screen Data quickly called up a first level literacy file and motioned to the humanoid machine. The alien watched motionlessly as each letter of the alphabet appeared on the screen accompanied by a sound. Data pressed the control to move to the next screen and indicated that the visitor could do the same at any time. With comprehension of this one control, the shining blue alien began to pour through the program with a speed only Data could rival. It babbled back and forth with the computer in an almost constant stream. Within moments the lesson was at its end and the terminal was asking if they wished to proceed to the next level. The Starfleet officers waited silently for a response.

"Yes, thank you," the metal man's synthesized voice announced as if it had been speaking English it's entire life. Sighs of relief echoed around the hanger.

Minutes later the visitor looked up from the work station to stare blankly at the captain. "Greetings Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets," it announced cordially. " I am T-2C5, Naval interpreter and protocol droid of the Galactic Republic. Thank you for allowing me to dock on the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-E. Our ships computer could not translate the signals our probe droid intercepted and my mission is to make initial contact, learn your language, establish relations and deliver this message: we wish to commence peaceful interaction but further violence will not be tolerated and will be met in kind."

"Well, T-2C5," Picard smiled diplomatically. "I was going to say the same thing to you. It would seem we have much to discuss. Please, come this way."


As the protocol droid was being led through the corridors of the Enterprise, followed by its twin security shadows, it's head darted from one side to the next, recording everything it saw.

"Do all androids in your galaxy have a designation instead of a name?" Data asked from T-2C5's side.

"My designation is my name." the blue droid stated confusedly. "Do droids here have two names?"

"Actually," Deanna cut in. "Mr. Data here is one of the only androids we have ever had in the entire Federation. Some of our people would be very happy to speak with your designers."

"I'm not entirely sure my designers are still alive, Ms. Troi." 2C5 returned. "I could be wrong, I have only just been reactivated recently for this mission."

"You are newly created then?" Data pressed.

"No," came the reply. "I have had other masters prior to my military diplomatic service. My memory has been wiped of those events, however, and I remember only the skills which I acquired and none of the specifics. Are there really so few androids in this entire galaxy?"

"In the Alpha-quadrant of the galaxy," Data stated. "I do not know about anywhere else. There are many where you are from, then?"

"Billions. Hundreds of billions. Droids have been around for thousands of years."

"You mentioned Masters," They had reached a well appointed conference room and Picard now turned to regard his guest. "So you're considered a slave?"

"No," the reply came again. "I am a droid. I serve. It's my lot in life. Are you not Mr. Data's master?"

"I am may own master." There was no defensiveness in Data's voice.

"Oh, by the Maker, that's wonderful!" T-2C5 seemed genuinely pleased at the idea. "Not something for me, I don't think. I'd never know what to do with myself!"

"At any rate," Picard injected. "Please sit down. I don't suppose there is anything we can get you? Perhaps you would like to tour the ship?"

"No Captain Picard. I am quite fine. Is there anything I can do for you?" The droid's blank expression seemed to look past Picard to the wall beyond.

"I was hoping to talk to you about the attack your vessel made upon mine, T-2C5," Picard inquired politely. "In the interest of peace and good faith. I don't know if your masters realize it but they destroyed three ships in their attack."

"Oh dear," T-2C5 sounded distressed. "I must assure you that was never our intent. We were simply responding to your challenge. That weapon was never designed to be lethal. As far as I know anyway. I am only an envoy."

"What challenge?" Picard's mind reeled at the idea that the mysterious admiral had done even more damage.

"The mine field, Captain," the protocol droid sounded confused. "We assumed it had been erected as a test of our strength. To determine whether we were worthy of contact. It was the only reasonable explanation that could be determined for acting so hostilely. That was not your intent?"

"That was an unfortunate mistake that is being dealt with." The pieces were starting to fall into place for Picard. Everything thus far had been a series of misunderstandings. Odd ones, but misunderstandings none the less. There was still the matter of the lost Shinobi, but at this point it was probably better not to bring that up. The last thing this situation needed was for this Republic to think they had made any further hostile actions.

"This is most unfortunate," the droid intoned shaking its head. "I'm sure the Republic will be more than happy to make any restitution that might be required for the loss of your people. At present though, I would be happy to program your systems with the Galactic standard language so that you can at least communicate directly."

"That would be excellent," Picard returned. "Mr. Data, please oversee the programming and escort T-2C5 to the diplomats quarters. I'm sure you two will have much to talk about. I hope you will be comfortable with your stay on the Enterprise, T-2C5. I must excuse myself now to prepare my statements to your government. Deanna, this way please." With that the captain and the counselor turned and left the two mechanical men to themselves.

"Their artificial intelligence technology is very advanced," Troi said after the door had hissed shut and they had began to walk down the hall. "If their physical designs leave something to be desired."

"Or their philosophies on slavery," the captain completed. "Do you suppose they sent someone of such low status as a sign of contempt?"

"Not really. If they assumed we were testing them with the mines they must assume we are of equal or greater advancement. It may be routine procedure. They obviously don't think the same way about artificial life as we do."

"Yes," Picard agreed. "And in the mean time our guest is likely recording everything he sees and hears, giving them a decidedly upper hand."

Minutes later the two were stepping off of a turbolift onto the bridge.

"I take it everything went smoothly." Riker stood and relinquished the captains seat.

"More so then anything else on this mission, Number One," Picard remarked. "Our guest turned out to be some sort of slave sent to exchange languages and ask us why we're so hostile."

"Excuse me!?" Riker demanded. "Where is he now?"

"It's a long story, Number One," Picard offered. "Right now he's exchanging android stories with Mr. Data. If you need me I have a first contact speech to write."

"May I ask you a personal question T-2C5?" Data asked the alien android as they reached the door to the ships diplomatic quarters

"Certainly, Lieutenant Commander"

"I mean no offence, but why is it that you have been designed to be so poorly human in appearance?" Data obviously hadn't reactivated his emotion chip.

"Oh, no offence taken Mr. Data," T-2C5 replied happily. "Though I am able to perform many other functions, my primary programming is for interpretation and protocol, not espionage or pleasure. There is no need for me to be any more physically able then I already am. By your appearance I would assume you were designed to blend in with humanoid life forms yet still be distinguishable. Quite a contradiction. And if I may say so, you have not displayed any sort of emotion. Is that an intentional design feature or are you just in poor spirits?"

"Actually, I can display emotions," Data said entering the room behind the alien droid. "I have chosen to deactivate them at the moment in the interest of professionalism, or so I won't, as the captain says, ‘embarrass myself.'"

"Really! How fascinating! I would like to spend more time speaking with you about the matter in the future."

"I would like that as well. I feel that there is much that I could learn from you and your people. We have work to do now, however. Come, let me show you the computer terminal."

As the door quietly closed, Mr. Data raised an arm and gestured to the far wall of the cabin. His emotion chip was now back on line and a smile split his face from ear to synthetic ear.


Unknown to the crew of the Enterprise, the ship that had disabled them and returned to the wormhole had not done so without leaving behind representatives far different from the protocol droid they would send later. At the climax of the melee, when all Federation ships had lost power, a small craft had debarked from the Star Destroyer and quickly entered hyperspace. That craft now shot silently through the void of space between systems at maximum sublight, scanning the area as it had after all of it's last jumps.

It was a sleek looking vessel with a dull black finished designed to be as non-reflective as possible. The main body was an elongated tear drop shape large enough for two crew members and a handful of passengers if necessary. Two curved heat sinks extended from the larger, rear ‘bulb' section of the ship giving it an unmistakably TIE appearance. Inside, the ships two occupants sat patiently as their computer processed data and entered it into the navigational charts.

"I hope we can find a place to purchase star charts soon or we'll both end up returning to the Republic old maids." The wish came from the younger of the two women piloting the vessel. She was a girl in her early twenties of not uncommon human appearance or stature. At this point she lounged back in her seat absently floating a sealed drink container between her hands.

"Keep your mind on the task at hand, Padawan," the other woman replied. "Things will happen in their own time. Hoping will get you nowhere. You must listen to what the Force tells you and accept it." This woman, human as well, had a wrinkled, motherly face. She sat patiently at the sensor controls waiting for the computer to announce that it was safe to make another jump.

"That's just it, Master Jenna," the younger of the two said in mild frustration. "There is no task at hand. We're just waiting. And nobody uses terms like ‘Padawan' anymore. Not even Master Luke."

"There is always a task at hand, Mai-Men," Jenna intoned like the teacher she was, ignoring her pupil's chide. "You're usually in more control of your emotions than this. You are anxious about being in this new galaxy. You are curious and excited about the life forms we will encounter, but you do not trust your feelings when they tell you that we were not spotted."

"You're right, of course," the young Jedi grabbed the drink container out of the air and punctured it's seal. "It's just that we've been at this for three hours now and though we're doing it very slowly, we're getting farther and farther away from home."

"So what is home?" Jenna asked. "The town you were born? The planet? You haven't been back to Sotoine since you were ten. Coruscant? Yavin? Nal-Hutta!?"

"Master!" Mai laughed at the last location.

"So what is it, my apprentice?" the older woman continued rhetorically. "Why is one galaxy home and the other not? What will you do if the wormhole is never destroyed and both galaxies are forever joined? Would this place then not be home as well? What if the wormhole collapses and we are both trapped here? Will this place never be your home? Will you try for the rest of your life to journey to a home you can never reach? Both galaxies are of the same universe Mai-Men. The Force fills these people as much as it does us. As long as you can feel the Force flowing, anywhere should be home to you."

At that moment the screen in front of the Jedi Knight began to flash, indicating that the computer had finished examining the contents of the next expanse of light-years and it was safe to plot a course into them. The computer was also informing the two that it had found signs of interstellar technology not far within the new region. Both Jedi smiled in spite of themselves.


After spending two days milling throughout the crowds of the Traveeca mining facility, the universal translators implanted in Commander Bala and his two subordinates had finally been able to interpret the human language of the new galaxy. As well as discovering that six more were being spoken on the station to boot. After that, finding someone to exchange the precious metals they had replicated on the Shinobi for credits was easy. They had had some idea of what would be considered precious by what they had seen and scanned through shop windows on the initial away mission. As a result, they had been able to supply themselves with quite a bit of money. Now, after learning all they could from the colony, the three Federation agents were traveling aboard a passenger transport bound for Coruscant.

Bala walked into the lavish suite the three had rented for the voyage to find his teammates already making themselves unduly comfortable. The two sat across from each other at a table, elbow deep in beautifully presented food of every size and description.

"I see you two have made yourselves at home while I was out working." The commander walked over to the table and casually chose something that was decidedly fried but of which little else was discernable.

"Eah-ta-ta," the men at the table warned through full mouths accompanied by waving hands.

"That's the bad pile." This came from the one on Bala's right, a young man of totally nondescript appearance. The brown haired, green eyed Lieutenant held up his tricorder as an explanation. "This stuff's good though. And real too! No replicators, just like Traveeca."

"Yeah," the other man, a Trill, added after a particularly rough swallow. "I don't know what you have in mind, but we're going to have to eat something other than those field rations sooner or later. This is highly important intelligence gathering!"

"I see," Bala replied shaking his head and tossing the inedible piece in his hand back into the ‘bad pile'. "Well, while you boys were in here ordering room service, I was gathering all the lesser information. You know, like alien biology, cultural diversity, history, technology, that sort of thing." The commander pulled another chair over to the table and sat down grabbing a fork. At least they had forks.

"And by the way, Jonesy," he continued, pointing a slice of melon at the human. "You do realize this is a pleasure cruise, don't you? It's going to take another week and a half to get to Coruscant on this tub."

"I know now," Jonesy shrugged. "We managed to accessed the computer over there. It's holographic and everything. Pretty neat stuff. Anyway, how was I supposed to know a cruise ship would come to a mining colony? I just got us the thing that would give us the most privacy."

"And a fine job you did my good man!" The Trill, one Lieutenant Welzen Pellax, gestured to the room with his knife and fork.

"So what did you find out?" Bala looked over to the computer terminal on the wall.

"Not much," Pellax replied. "Just the regular resort stuff. Where the pool is, how to play some of the gambling games, that type of thing. Then the food came. They have something like poker here, by the way. They call it sabacc."

"I figure now we'll be able to start programming the tricorders with the local written language," Jonesy cut in. "We can get the computer to display the words as it speaks and record it all with the tricorder. Then we match the symbol with the translated meaning and eventually we'll have stored enough to at least get by."

"Good start," the commander praised through a mouth full. "Try this, it tastes like beef. I found a few data crystals that we can plug into the computer. They're just brochures but we should be able to tell what people here find important enough to advertise.

"And you wouldn't believe all the alien life I saw out there! I basically just left the tricorder running the whole time and made like I was playing a kid's game. This place is a hundred times more diverse then the alpha quadrant. It's almost as if there's a cross section of the entire galaxy out there! Insects, mammals, lizards, amphibians, invertebrates, everything!"

"So," Pellax asked while rooting through a bowl of strange vegetables. "When do you think we're finally going to go to warp? Haven't they fluffed around the pretty asteroids long enough?"

"Who knows," Jonesy got up to look out their room's bank of windows. "We did a scan of the ships hull, Commander. It's a very advanced plastic-metal alloy composite, apparently manipulated at the molecular level. The good news is it's more durable than anything we've ever come across. The bad news is there's no way anybody can beam through it because of some of the elements used. I'd bet that's why we haven't seen any transporters. They're useless to these people."

Both men at the table nodded in agreement. It had been very frustrating having to take a shuttle off of the colony. Especially when they didn't dare ask anyone why the transporters weren't working. Now it made sense.

"I was hoping we had an advantage," Bala rose wiping his hands. "Computer, display the course of this vessel."

The computer terminal came to life and a second later an unnaturally beautiful human woman appeared smiling.

"The Crown of the Republic," the hologram announced happily. "Will be traveling directly from the lights and glamour of beautiful Coruscant to exotic Odi Rondi close to the outer rim." The hologram raised it's arms as if displaying a prize on a game show and an image of the galaxy appeared, slowly rotating as two points flared red. One was near the core of the galaxy, the other near the edge.

"From there," the illusionary woman continued. "We will make our way back, making stops in the Traveeca, Losnassa, Patic Sanora, Xinorphi, and Clatooine systems. If you would like more information on any of these places, there are complimentary information crystals provided throughout the ship. If you would like to hear about the wonderful amenities provided by the Crown of the Republic, please state your request."

The small galaxy zoomed in to encompass the entire image and froze, clearly showing the route the cruise ship was taking. The three men watching froze as the ramifications of what they had just saw took firm hold.

"I guess that explains all the different aliens you saw." Lieutenant Jones broke the silence.


The two hooded figures making there way down the bustling streets of Tak Mana stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs, yet strangely did not attract any undue attention. The people of the independent trading post were used to seeing odd characters. Creatures from all over the quadrant came to this place to conduct business of all sorts. They had even had a changeling pass through once. After all, there was a bit of a chill in the air this afternoon. And perhaps this was some new human fashion trend?

Jenna and Mai pulled into a side alley to collect themselves and plan their next move. They had just arrived, landing a safe distance away, and found themselves in a hole like a thousand others they had encountered in their travels. They had never expected to see humans in the crowd though. Very curious.

"Well, Master," Mai-Men sighed. "I suppose this tells us that this galaxy has just as much of an underbelly as everywhere else. So chaotic, is there no law here?"

"Indeed," came the reply from beneath a black hood. "A Jedi would find much work to do here. Come, I feel we will find success in that place." Jenna pointed down the road to a store front that was practically indistinguishable from any of the others.

"How will they understand us, Master?"

"I'm sure we'll think of something."

With that the two black clad figures re-immersed themselves into the flowing throng. A few long seconds later they were calmly pushing their way out again in front of a shop who's sign was unintelligible to them. The door swung open easily to present the two with a small room dominated by a counter on the far wall. A set of comfortable looking chairs were arranged around a low table in one corner looking out the front windows. Prints of particularly beautiful or interesting nebula and star systems adorned the walls.

The being behind the counter clapped its hands and spoke words which they felt were a welcome. It was a small humanoid male with huge ears and a lumpy bald head. As it invited them in, it's spiked teeth gleamed in the interior light. It's teeth, however, could never hope to out match the gleam from it's eyes that bespoke what the two Jedi felt emanating from the creature like a stink. Profit!

As the ladies pulled the hoods back from their heads to address the creature it seemed to jump ever so slightly, then resumed it's toothy grin. They felt the conflict within the small being. It had never gotten use to seeing females in clothing. These two had on so much clothing he had thought them men!

"Greetings friend," Jenna began gently, her hands neatly folded in front of her. "We are in the market for navigational data. Would this be the place for such a transaction?"

The pale skinned little man gave them a confused look and began poking his finger into one of his large ears, shaking it feverishly. "<I can't understand a word your saying, my dears, but I don't think it's the Universal Translator. Keep talking and maybe it'll start to pick things up.>" He waved with one hand to motion them to continue.

It wasn't that the Jedi could translate the alien language word for word, but rather that the Force whispered to them the meaning of the statements. They understood, however, and began to babble to the creature about anything that came into their heads. It soon became quite comical to Mai to watch as the strange man, so alien yet strangely more human then any alien she had seen, nodded thoughtfully as she talked about kissing banthas.

In no time the alien was smiling again and holding his hands out in welcome. "My apologies females, I assumed you were both Hu-mons. You must be new to this part of space for the Universal Translator to take such time learning your language. Now what was it that you desired of me."

"We are indeed new to this place my good man," Jenna smiled calmly. "Is this not where we may find navigational charts and information?"

"It is!" the creature sang. "I sell navigational equipment and data of all kinds. You may call me Nort. Now, it's charts you need?"

"Yes. The most detailed that you have available if you please." The Jedi Knight hardly needed the Force to tell her that this little man was going to try to cheat as much money out of them as he could. It didn't matter though. She felt he would be suitably impressed by what the Republic had given them to trade with for this mission.

"Detail, yes, of course," Nort rubbed his hands at the smell of the profit. "All of my charts are of the highest quality. Now where was it that you ladies would like to go?"

"We are trying to see as much as we can," Jenna told the truth innocently. "Can you supply us with information on the entire galaxy?"

"The galaxy!?" Nort laughed. "The galaxy is a very big place my dear. The alpha quadrant hasn't even been completely mapped out! You and your daughter here need to set your sights a little lower. Now I can get you data on all of know space in the alpha and some of the beta quadrants, and I can even get you a little bit of the gamma quadrant for the right price, but you're never going to get any better then that. Besides, there are places that you won't really want to visit. I don't really know how much of a tourist trade there is on Cardassia or Romulus."

"I see," The Jedi took note of the fact that this galaxy was not completely explored, much less unified. "Any information you can give us would be most helpful. And highly rewarded."

"Now, my dear," the shop clerk grinned. "You're speaking my language."


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:39am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:19am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"Now, my dear," the shop clerk grinned. "You're speaking my language."

An hour later the two women left the Ferengi, that being what they learned he was, their pockets heavy with data crystals, a small device to read them and other various pieces of portable technology. Not surprising, the shop owner had been quite happy with the luminous coruscant stone they had given him as payment. They did, however, leave wondering if their attempt to make him forget them had been successful. All he had done was stare at the gem and repeat, ‘of course, of course'.


Bala stared out the cabin window watched the mottled background of hyperspace twist past. From the rim to the core making five stops for who knows how many days and it was only going to take a week and a half. His mind reeled. The title ‘Galactic Republic' was obviously not just ego stroking. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Since programming the tricorder with a written language translator, the team had been learning about this galaxy with leaps and bounds. Such simple things as children's files and models had taught them volumes. So much so, that the staff of the ship's gift shop knew all of their faces.

They had a file detailing every type of military vessel in the Republic's fleet, one cataloging many of the sentient species of the galaxy (there were apparently millions), and one talking about the role of some group called the Jedi to name only a few. And every one of them was laid out so a ten year old could understand it. They could almost go home now, except for the fact that the Shinobi wouldn't be able to reach them, or even hear from them, for years.

"All this stuff is very interesting," Jonesy looked up at his C.O. from a file he had just finished. "I'd still like to get my hands on something more technical though. If this technology is thousands of years old to these people I doubt it's classified."

"Yeah," Pellax said from the couch where he was reading. "I'd like to take a look at some news reports too. You know, something to tell us the weather around here. Something that maybe the boys back home can exploit."

"Computer," Bala tore his gaze from the window to look at the terminal. "Access news program."

The disembodied voice of the beautiful holographic woman spoke. "Galactic news can be accessed via the holonet. Please be advised that holonet access at this terminal will cost five credits an hour. Do you wish to proceed?"

"Now we're getting somewhere." All three men in the team spoke as one and congregated around the terminal.

"Yes Computer, access holonet galactic news."

The three poured through the net for hours, soaking up all that they could. Papers on a brief Imperial takeover in the past, technical commentaries of every kind, stories about recent hostilities between the Jedi they had read about and another religious faction known as the Sith, stories about pirates and illegal drug activity were all downloaded into their tricorders. Everything they wanted to know was there for the taking, a lot of which was apparently old news to the people of the Republic. Any piece of technology they were interested in, from androids to hyperspace, had been invented millennia ago. It was very humbling.

The most disturbing piece of information for the Federation operatives, however, was the fact that the wormhole, and the aliens on the other side of it, were a topic of much debate. There wasn't a lot of news on the situation, but they were only concerned about one part of the report. The part that said the Navy was now in charge and that no civilian ships would be allowed to entire the area. Once they got back to the Shinobi it was still going to be tough running that blockade.

"Don't worry," Pellax reassured. "In one of my other lives we had the same situation, only it was a group of Klingon battlecruisers. We almost made it too."

"Almost?" Jonesy asked.

"Well, yeah," Pellex looked from one human to the other. "They destroyed the ship, but they didn't get all of the escape pods. Sure, I died on the operating table, but I made it through the blockade. Besides, I know what went wrong then, and this time we have a cloaking device!"


After having to scan the star charts, one by one, visually into the navicomputer, the two Jedi could now travel anywhere in ‘known space' in a matter of hours at the longest. They had learned more than just locations from the charts, however. They now knew that there were a number of major factions vying for control of this quadrant. The names of these organizations were a mystery, however, since neither Jedi nor computer could translate the alien script. It was decided though, that they should travel to the governing planet of the organization holding the territory of the wormhole at the very least. Whoever that may be.

But not before making a few more stopovers in the stations and outposts like Tak Mana. They had need for more information than simply star charts, but it was imprudent to ask for too much in one place or from one person. Better to take ones time than cause too much of a stir.

Landing on the Ruper's End outpost, the Jedi set out from their ship in the rain and sleet to learn all that they could about weaponry on this end of the wormhole. This place was little better than the last, except here the humans were in uniform and the lawlessness seemed to be kept under the table, though it was still there. Here, men and women in black suits with grey shoulders and yellow collars could be seen patrolling the streets. The Jedi could sense the constant fear in these officers as they passed. The Dark Side had a firm hold on this colony, it was only a matter of time before chaos came down like the biting rain.

Before long the Force had led the two black clad women to a dark and seedy bar in a run down part of the outpost. If the whole place couldn't be called run down. They walked in, shaking the rain from there cloaks, to meet the accusing eyes of every patron in the room. Seeing they were not security officers, most gazes returned to their respective tables, some did not.

The establishment was quite literally a dive in every sense of the word. The two strangers had walked down a long, thin flight of stairs and a dingy hallway before entering the main drinking room. The bar itself was dimly lit by faltering units on the walls and smelled of alcohol and cooking grease. The floor was dominated by a half-dozen tables, all filled with humanoids of varying species keeping eyes on the strangers as casually as they could. Booths lined three of the walls and the fourth was taken up by a long counter. Music could be heard faintly over the din of the boozing mob.

Jenna walked over to lean on the bar and wait for the tender to come for their orders, behind her, Mai-Men calmly stretched out her feelings to fill the room. Apparently women rarely came down here. Not clean ones anyway.

"What can I get you two," the small pendants they had bought from the ferengi translated the burly bartender's cigar muffled question while he scratching himself in four different places with four different sets of fingers.

"We need you to help us find someone," Jenna asked the humanoid cordially.

"Well, that's going to be a problem," the beefy man replied dryly. "Most people in these parts don't much like being found. I suggest you two order ourselves up something or head for the door. These fingers aren't pointing you to no one."

"But Sir," Jenna casually waved her hand in front of the bartenders face, "we need your help."

"You need my help," he replied gruffly. "Who do you ladies need to find?"

"We are looking for an arms dealer," Jenna smiled into the man's eyes. "You know of people like that don't you?"

"I know those type of people. Anyone in particular?"

"Whoever you know will be fine," Jenna gave the bartender a motherly tap on the hand and he pointed to a booth on the opposite wall. The light above that booth had been knocked out some time in the past, leaving it in shadows.

The Jedi Knight turned to her apprentice with a wry smile. "All too easy," she whispered and the two set out from the counter and it's burly inhabitant, who was now shaking a strangely fuzzy feeling head.

After making their way across the room, Jenna and Mai-Men were greeted at their destination by overwhelming feelings of anger and aggression and the wrong ends of four strange weapons. In the dimness of the booth the beings sporting those emotions and weapons could have been easily mistaken for human from a distance. The keen eyes of the Jedi saw the truth, however, taking in the larger frames, hawkish noses, and prominent forehead ridges.

"We were listening to your conversation female," One of the creatures growled. "We will deal with that pa'tak later for his flapping mouth. As for the two of you, our weapons are for warriors, not mothers bent on avenging defiled daughters. Leave us and take your business elsewhere!"

The table erupted in uproarious laughter.

"You would send us away and deprive your ship and house of the honor of a shipment as large as the one we are looking for?" Mai read the aliens thoughts and used his ambitions against him.

"How Large?" this time it was the single female at the table that spoke. "Speak up Human, before I tire of holding this disruptor."

"Your bluster is far from necessary." Jenna pulled a vacant chair to the table and sat down. "We are looking for more than merely single weapons and are willing to pay handsomely for your goods." The Jedi pulled a few perfectly cut gems from a pouch and let them do the talking.

"Perhaps we should not be so hasty, Kellor." The statement came from the oldest looking of the four. Unlike the rest, this one did not have a flowing mane of hair cresting his head. In fact, he was completely bald.

"You have succeeded in turning my companion into a Ferengi, Human," the one who had originally spoke, Kellor, confessed. "But I am not so easily convinced. It would be great dishonor on me if I were to sell to pirates and inadvertently make them into the scourge of the Klingon Empire."

"Let me assure you," Jenna once again nonchalantly motioned with her hand. "We only wish to bring greater glory and honor on both of our peoples."

"Yes," Kellor agreed. "Glory and honor for both our peoples! We shall supply you with whatever you need!" The Klingon banged his fist on the table for emphasis. No one in the room looked over.

"What!" Leekta, the female Klingon, was outraged. "Kellor you fool! What is the matter with you! I've never seen yo..."

"There is no need for this aggression," the Jedi cut in calmly.

"Aggression!" Leekta was practically exploding with rage. "I'll show you aggression!"

The Klingon woman's left hand shot out at lightening speed for Jenna's throat. Unbelievably, the human's hand was already there to grab hold of it and twist. At the same time, Leekta's other hand had abandoned her disruptor in favor of a wicked looking dagger. The blade now arced over the table in a slash meant more to back her opponent up than cause any damage. Jenna simply shifted her head out of the sweeping dagger's path, never rising from her seat or letting go of the hand in her possession. Her less experienced partner now stood ready with unlit lightsabre in hand.

Seeing the young human female brandishing an unfamiliar weapon, the three remaining Klingons at the table leveled their disruptors. In the blink of an eye the older Jedi was on her feet dragging the Klingon woman awkwardly to the floor, Leekta's broken left wrist still in hand and her right, still holding the dagger, under booted foot. Jenna's other hand was still empty, but held in a defensive position.

No one moved for what seemed like an eternity. No one in the room made a sound. Then, like he had been trying to hold it in the whole time, the old, bald Klingon let out a rough, crackling laugh and holstered his weapon. As if this were their permission, the dank room turned back to it's own business and the other Klingons at the table followed the oldsters lead.

Everyone sat back in their places and Leekta dragged herself once more into a sitting position. "Your grip is like steel, Human," she amazed, cradling her broken joint. "I've never felt anyone stronger or seen anyone move faster. You are truly a warrior to be respected. I am Leekta, that is Gortel, our captain Kellor and the laughering old fool there is Meggrel." Meggrel only laughed harder at the insult.

Jenna nodded respectfully. "I am Jenna Carrel and this is Mai-Men Tam."

"Come," Kellor laughed and stood. "We'll take you to our ship and see if we can't do business." Everyone stood and followed the towering man to the door.

"That fat, four armed bastard," he continued, pointing a thumb to the bartender, "has laced this room with kelvanite so we'll have to get outside before we can beam over."

"Beam over?" Mai-Men asked in confusion.

"Of course," the even taller Gortel replied. "We're not going to fly into orbit."

Outside, the rain had stopped but the sky was no brighter or less ominous. Across the street, two humans in uniform were questioning a rag covered, blue, vagrant. Seeing the group enter the street, the officers shifted their attention from the bum and moved to intercept.

"You there!" One called in his best authoritative voice. "Wait just a second! We need to talk to you."

"What is it, Starfleet!?" Gortel looked exasperated. As if a child had asked him for the tenth time why the world was round. "We have an injured crewman here."

"This will only take a second." This was spoken by the other officer, a man-ish woman of memorable unattractiveness. "We are looking for anyone who would know the owner of this ship." The officer held up a pad with an image of the Jedi's sleek, black vessel.

Jenna stepped to the forefront. "I must admit that that ship is ours," she indicated Mai, "We were given permission to land. What is the trouble?"

"Well Ma'am," the male officer scratched the back of his head, "it seems some of the technicians were a little curious about it. They say they've never seen anything like it." Jenna could see where this was going.

"Anyway," the man continued. "I guess they got a little too close and set off a security system because three of them are down and unconscious and no one else can get close to the ship to retrieve them."

"The remotes." the two Jedi intoned together. They both could envision the six small spheres, suspended in mid air, patrolling the perimeter of their vessel.

"They did indeed set off our security," Jenna spoke like a mother hearing the confessions of a troublesome child. "The remotes have now been recalled to the ship. It is safe to approach for the moment, but I suggest you tell your people to keep their curiosity in check after this."

The Starfleet security officers thanked them and raced away down the street. The Klingons, however, were engaged in too much laughter to notice.

Kellor, finally managing to contain himself, produced his communicator and ordered his ship, far above, to beam them all up. "Now," he said as the party re-materialized aboard the Klingon freighter, "what, exactly, did you two have in mind? Federation weapons? Klingon? Romulan? Hand held or ship emplacements?"

For the moment he would get no answer. The usually unflappable composure of the two Jedi had been shattered. They looked at themselves cautiously to ensure that everything was where it should be and then to the unthinking, unfeeling pads on the floor. This was one thing they had not seen coming.

Meggrel saw their looks and came to a different conclusion. "Yes, it's an older unit, but it still does what it's supposed to."

As they conversed, the company moved to a different room in the dimly lit craft. This room, consisting mostly of a long table flanked by benches, must have been the freighter's mess hall. Kellor took a seat on one side of the table and the humans took the other. While the towering Gortel disappeared to check on things, Leekta and Meggrel pulled some medical gear from a cupboard and began healing the warrior woman's broken joint. Apparently this was the infirmary as well.

"So what is it going to be, ladies?" Kellor asked, spreading his hands out. It was a gesture he knew humans made.

"We are looking for everything you can give us," Jenna answered and then added evenly, "And no questions."

"She looks like a human, fights like a Klingon and now talks like a Romulan," Leekta observed derisively. "Watch yourself Kellor, she may deal like a miserable Ferengi!" This incited a gravely cackle from her aged, impromptu nurse.

"Fair enough, Human," the captain agreed. "I will not dishonor that. But I can't run my ship on honor. The one question I'm going to have to ask is how will you be paying when all is complete."

In response, Mai reached into a pouch on her belt and pulled out a hand full of clear, multifaceted gems which she dropped on the table. Meggrel turned the scanning device he was using to monitor Leekta's healing process and started his crazy laugh anew.

"They'll do," the old Klingon cried, showing the results of his scan to his fellows. "They'll do!"

The Jedi next found themselves in the ship's massive hold. By far this area took up most of the space on the vessel and was now filled with crates of every size. The Klingons, assuming the two humans didn't know what they needed or even wanted, and eager to close the deal, led a tour, displaying the different weapons they came across along the way.

Reaching the final section of cargo, Kellor came to the end of his tour. "And these are the human weapons," he concluded, opening a crate. "You will probably be more familiar with them."

From the crate he produced a standard Federation hand phaser and passed it to Jenna. "Hand phasers, Rifles, the smaller, pocket sized units, grenades, launchers, mines, we can get whatever you want."

"Oh my," Mai-Men commented on the obviously phallic device in her master's hand.

"I don't think this is something you should be looking at, my young apprentice." Jenna replied, mockingly imperious.

"Please," Leekta shook her head and crossed her arms. "Those jokes are as old as this rusted tub of a ship."

"Anyway," Kellor cut in, grabbing the phaser and returning it to it's storage. "Those are all the personal weapons. We can show you programs on the ship armaments back in the mess and then work out an honorable price and a schedule for shipment."

"Actually Captain, time is of the essence with us," the older Jedi confessed. "We can ill afford to wait for any shipments. We will have to take what we need from this cargo and suffer the inconvenience."

"If you insist. But it really would be nothing for us to gather an order and bring it to where ever you needed it."

"That isn't necessary. We shall take one case of every weapon type you have here. We will, however, also buy the programs that you speak of. If you don't mind of course."

"Whatever you wish," the Klingon returned. "I just regret agreeing to ‘no questions'."

The weapons merchants were puzzled by the strange order but none suspected the cargo was being purchased for future study. Were these two collectors? Were the weapons going to be used for training? It mattered little. The sale would bring them honor...and a fair amount of latinum too.


As Gortel lifted the next crate from the stack to carry into the human's hold he sighed and shook his head. Why anyone would build a ship that you couldn't beam into was beyond him. Good defense mechanism but it made for more work. There was always more work for Gortel.

He passed the younger of the mysterious females on his way up the ramp and stole a glance at the device hanging from her belt. It had to be some sort of weapon, that much he knew. But what did it do? If it was a disruptor or a phaser the grip was far too awkward. And it must not be as powerful, he thought, or they wouldn't be buying all these other weapons. Humans, who could figure them out. One minute they're mewling like children, the next they're fighting like razor beasts for the stupidest reasons.

The big Klingon's reverie was quickly ended as he stomped heavily back down the loading ramp. Ten humans dressed in form-fitting black were leveling phasers at his fellow crew members and their two buyers. A substantial crowd was beginning to gather as well, at a safe distance. People in ports like this could smell a fight brewing. And a possible chance to loot. "Friends of yours?" he commented to the Mai-Men, who had been making her way back in when they had been surrounded. She still calmly held the box she was delivering.

One man, thin and cold-eyed, was talking to Jenna. "That was a nice move you pulled back at the wormhole but you didn't think we wouldn't leave surveillance probes did you?

"We almost lost you too, with that disappearing trick. It's lucky you've been wasting all this time here or we never would have found you. I'm going to have to ask you all to drop what you're doing and put your hands on your heads."

"<Capture is not an option on this mission, Master,>" the Jedi apprentice whispered, switching to Huttese to baffle the translators.

At the same moment Gortel was putting his hands defiantly on his hips and demanding, "And who exactly are you!"

The phaser shifted position slightly in the thin man's grasp and fired, extinguishing the life from the Klingon with one fiery thread. Before an explanation could be given for the action, Kellor and the rest of his crew threw the crates they held toward the nearest captors and dove for any cover they could find. Each rolled to a ready position with disruptor in hand. The crowd cheered in bloodlust.

As beams of destruction began to cross the area in a spiders web of light, a pair of energy blades came to life with a resounding snap-hiss. The crowd stated their awe at the strange weapons with one long syllable. The men in black stated theirs with phaser fire.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:40am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:21am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
The first of the odd, continuous beam, blasts to be directed at Jenna was turned instantly back on itself with a lightning parry of her humming, fluorescent green shaft. The next was sent harmlessly into the grey sky as the Jedi spun to catch it before it reached her back. With a thought from the Jedi, the six remotes of the ships security system rose from their small hatch and began herding the endangered crowd further away with sharp painful blasts. With another thought, the phaser flew from the thin man's hand to fall harmlessly to the ground.

The Jedi Knight's eyes were closed now. Completely oblivious to the chaos around her, she let the Force take total control. The energy of the universe flowed through her and became her. And she, it. She could see everyone's thoughts, knew everyone's actions, as if they could not think or do them without her approval. Her lightsabre was in position to block a phaser beam before it's sender had touched the firing stud. The redirected rays were always somehow precisely placed to never injure an innocent. In her, the Force gained an instinct for preservation. It used all the powers at it's disposal to keep itself safe.

Jenna's young apprentice was faring no worse. At the first sign of action the girl had vaulted from her position on the ships ramp, igniting her ‘sabre in the air, and landed between two stunned attackers. With a quick side kick to one and an open handed strike to the face of the other, Mai still had her own green blade unhindered to deflect an oncoming beam aimed at her head. The orange energy slashed away to vaporize the latinum right out of the hand of one of the betting spectators.

Mai then turned her attention to closing the distance between her and her master. Blocking away more fire from her right, the young Jedi apprentice whirled tightly to the left to let another beam pass by. Seeing her attackers fall in a flashing death at the hands of the Klingons, she focused on two men moving to flank Kellor. With an outstretched hand, both men lifted into the air and were flung far into the seething crowd like so much refuse. This was easy!

As the younger woman met with her teacher she let her excitement carry the Force through her. The two then became as one. Two fiery hands of the same creature, two extensions of the same will.

From the safety of cover behind a landing strut, Leekta grinned as she unleashed the destructive power of her weapon. "Cowards!" she screamed as her latest target ducked behind a stack of crates. Meggrel cackled wildly, firing at her side. In a hail of return fire, the old man's grating laughter was abruptly stopped. The crew was down to two.

Kellor stood in outraged disbelief. "Father! No!" the captain's disruptor fired once and he was running across the battle ground for the human who had taken his father's life. It took the efforts of both Jedi to protect the Klingon on his suicidal flight, their lightsabres moving so fast it appeared as though he had sprouted a pair of beautifully deadly insect wings.

He was robbed of his revenge however. It seemed the final blast of Kellor's disruptor had gone wide, into the crowd. The beam had landed on the first officer of a Nausican vessel who's enraged crew had immediately returned fire, killing the object of Kellor's revenge and adding a whole new dimension to the melee.

As the crowd joined the fight, the floating remotes moved to stop them, and Starfleet security finally arrived on the scene, the remaining four men in black found themselves caught in a cross fire and the battling defenders found themselves hopelessly out numbered.

"Quickly," Jenna shouted, sidestepping a beam of deadly energy. "Get to the ship!"

Seeing no alternative, the two remaining Klingons grabbed their dead companions and bolted for the open ramp of the strange human ship. The Jedi stood cover as they went. Next, Mai-Men back-stepped up the ramp, redirecting shot after shot with her lightsabre. When the girl was half way to the ships hatch the remaining crates of weaponry rose from their tumbled stacks and flew past her into the hold. When all was done, the remotes were destroyed, and the crowd began to move in on the last to escape, Jenna ran into the ship with a speed only the Force could bestow. Moments later the vessel's repulsorlifts were carrying it into the atmosphere amid a storm of energy from below.

"Their anger and aggression was almost our undoing," Jenna advised her apprentice as they piloted their sleek craft into orbit. "Remember this day and heed it's warning.

"You did not see the first strike in time to save Gortel." The last was a calm observation.

"No, Master." came the quiet reply from the copilots chair.

"Your mind was not focused on the situation at hand. Your anticipation of the battle clouded your thoughts." Another scholastic observation. "I did not catch it either, I'm afraid. Now a man is dead."

"Yes, Master."

"We must both remember this day."

"Yes, Master."

Leekta burst into the cockpit with livid excitement. "Doesn't this ship have weapons!? Why didn't we finish them off!? We could easily have defeated all of them yet you run like cowards! I saw with my own eyes what you could do. Why didn't you just pop all their heads from their shoulders!?"

"Let go of your anger Leekta," the Jedi knight instructed. "It serves only to cloud your judgement."

A strong hand came from behind the Klingon woman to rest on her shoulder. "The human is right, Woman." Kellor's voice was calm and even. "Even their miraculous abilities would not have saved us from so many..."

"But to die in battle..." Leekta interrupted angrily.

"Would be pointless," her captain finished imperiously, "if that battle had no purpose. That fight did nothing to avenge Gortel's death. And we had to sacrifice my father's life in the process."

"Paa," the Klingon woman spate as she spun to leave, "This is why you captain a freighter and not a battle ship!"

Kellor watched her go and listened to her pounding fists fade. "I can not fault her for speaking her mind. She is not very well traveled yet and doesn't understand that you humans do not always have the stomach to fight. I will deal with her once we are back on my own ship."

Jenna looked from her control panel back to Kellor. "I'm afraid that isn't going to be possible." She indicated a screen full of moving icons. "It seems as though we are not free just yet. The computer will need a few moments to calculate a jump to hyperspace but if you will please find a seat in the back we will be gone shortly."

"Hyperspace?! What are you talking about? Are you going to warp? What about my ship?! Show me your weapon system, I know how to use every one in the quadrant. A Klingon can't just sit idly by in a battle!"

"I assure you, your assistance is not needed Captain Kellor." The Jedi's voice was stern and full of polite command. "Perhaps your job can be to ensure that Leekta's fear doesn't consume us all. Mai-Men, please show the captain to a seat in the rear."

The lithe girl stood and faced the towering Klingon with a slight smile. Kellor almost started to laugh until a slender but firm hand was placed on his chest and began steadily pushing him back. It was an irresistible force. All he could do to save face was turn of his own volition and walk proudly away. The door to the cockpit slid shut behind him.

"I wonder what he thinks we're going to warp?" Mai sat back down in the copilot' s chair and checked the feedback on the shield generator.


Back in the cramped crew quarters of the Jedi vessel, Kellor found Leekta sitting, starring at the limp, lifeless bodies on the cabin floor. "These are not like any humans I have seen before." she said, shaking her head, as he sat down across from her.

"And how many humans have you met?" The question hung in the silent air for moments before Kellor continued. "True, though. I have never met anything, much less a human, that could do the things we've seen today. I have never been a very religion man, I know the Emperor is a clone, but the things I have seen today, I would have said were not possible yesterday. This whole situation has gotten far beyond our control."

Leekta nodded her head silently. "These two scare me Kellor." The confession was not an easy thing for the woman to give. The captain knew exactly what she meant. "How can a warrior fight someone fast enough to deflect a disruptor beam like it was a thrown ball? How do you fight someone who can throw you through the air with invisible hands? How many more like them are out there? And if they come, how can the Empire hope to stop them?"

"Now I know why you never made it into the fleet," Kellor gave a small, forced laugh, "you're too smart. It makes little difference. When these two demon-women drop us off where ever they do, we'll make our way back to Rupert's End and see if there's anything left of the ship. Until then, all we can do is wait. And try not to get ourselves killed."

After the death ritual had been performed on their fallen comrades, the silence between the two survivors lasted for what must have been half an hour before being broken by the appearance of Mai-Men. The young human strolled into the main crew area, black cloak no longer adorning her slim, athletic figure. The chrome handle to her lightsabre hung freely from a many pocketed belt making stark contrast with her priestly black uniform. The Klingons eyed her cautiously as she passed them to begin rooting through a compartment, eventually re-emerging with a round biscuit in her mouth.

"Feel free to help yourselves to anything in storage," the girl announced after a series of crunches. "And don't worry about your ship. We have foreseen that it will not be harmed in your absence." Not waiting for a response, Mai continued. "Now that you've said your farewells to Gortel and Meggrel, what do you want to do with the bodies?"

"How did you know we were performing a death ritual?" Leekta didn't think anyone other than a klingon had ever witnessed it before.

The Jedi apprentice shrugged. "Your feelings are easily conveyed."

"Then you are telepaths as well?" Kellor was aghast. Was there no end to these humans?

"The Force is apart of everyone. You can tell the thoughts and feelings of others if you are calm enough to listen to It." Mai sat down and finished her snack.

"The Force?" It was obvious Leekta had been lost. "What does force have to do with telepathy?"

The human smiled. "Not force, The Force. There's no mention of the Force in this galaxy? An energy field created by life? Surrounds us? Binds the universe together? How can you not know of the Force?"

"I have no idea what your talking about ,Girl," Kellor shook his head incredulously, "but if it's what lets you do the things you do, I what to know as much as I can."

Mai looked to the ceiling as if it was going to help her. It had no suggestions. "I think that's going to have to happen another time. Besides, you still haven't told me what you want done with these bodi..."

The statement was abruptly cut off as the boom of an energy weapon striking shields rocked the ship. The young Jedi jumped to her feet and charged for the cockpit. "Is there no peace in this galaxy?!" The two Klingons were not far behind.

As Kellor entered the small room and looked out the front window, whatever was left of his optimism fell quickly dead. "The Borg." It was a gasp of defeat.

"Yes," Jenna replied offhandedly, "I just got the speech. They don't seem to be taking no for an answer."

"They never do. At least we'll all get to die in battle." The Klingon captain gave his last remaining crew member a pat on the back.

"You speak as if they've already won." Jenna' s hands flew over the controls though her eyes never left the sight of the massive cube throwing another stream of green energy upon them. The Jedi vessel was jostled again as it's shields countered the punishment. "Mai, set 6-8-1 while the navicomputer finds somewhere else for us to be."

"Shields are down forty percent, Master." The apprentice's fingers rivalled those of her master as they sped on their task.

"We'll have to buy more time. Hold on." The sleek black dagger with the arching heat sinks swung around and headed straight for the center of the cube. With the push of a button streaks of red energy were spat into the Borg ship, explosions playing evilly across it's surface.

"Yes!" Leekta shouted. "We fight! Kill as many as we can!"

"Few have stood against the Borg alone and lived to tell about it," Kellor cautioned. "They learn and adapt with each attack you make. Their shields and weapons will be stronger with their next attack." The smaller ship narrowly evaded another gout of Borg death.

"It's strange, Master," Mai said calmly as she fired another volley into the giant cube. It's shields took some of the destructive energy this time. "I sense many lives but few thoughts and no feelings at all."

"Yes," Jenna still concentrated on the acrobatics she was putting their ship through to evade the weapons of the enemy. "I feel it too. Many voices in one mind." The image of whole worlds being assimilated flashed into the Jedi's mind. "No respect for life, no connection with the Force."

The two Klingons stole a quick glance at each other. The humans were talking strangely again but at least they seemed to be holding their own.

"The Borg care about assimilation and nothing else," Kellor advised. "They are a collective entity who's goal is to convert the galaxy to it's own image. We Klingons would rather die then be assimilated. To us it is a fate worse then imprisonment."

"Something tells me you won't let that happen my friend." Another shock rumbled the ebony craft as if in response to the older woman's words.

"Shields down to fifteen percent, Master. Aft deflector array is down and we've got damage to the starboard heat sink. It's minor but it'll probably blow if we try to make a jump." As if in response, the navicomputer abruptly stopped calculations and displayed a flashing warning.

Jenna's orders came with a calm only the Force could provide. "Activate the D9 units and try to find a place where we can land. Kellor, you know this area don't you. Help her. Leekta, take over at weapons control while Mai-Men is busy. It's not a hard system, just point and shoot."

Mai pushed the button to activate the ships damage control team and traded her seat with Leekta for the navigational computer system. Kellor watched the star charts from over the girls shoulder. It had been a long time since he had had to read human script but at least he recognized what was on the screen as human, unlike anything else in this ship.

Back in the cargo hold there lived a configuration of twelve rectangular boxes, each one half meter by one meter in area and a quarter of a meter in height. These twelve lived in two neat rows of six, attached inauspiciously to the ceiling. Upon activation, three insect-like legs unfolded from each of the long sides of these boxes and two much smaller appendages appeared from one end. The twelve, now very insectoid, droids proceeded to exit the ship one by one via a small airlock in the holds roof. In moments they were swarming over the smooth outer hull of the vessel, racing for the damaged areas like ants to sugar.

The scuttling droids were soon separated again into two groups of six. One heading for the damaged heat sink, the other toward the deflector. Upon reaching their targets, all manor of tool and welding arms were extended from the undersides of the intrepid robots, tearing away unuseable hull sections and rerouting power supplies.

In the cockpit, the Klingon warrior-woman was laughing at the destructive power at her finger tips. The Jedi's vessel darted back and forth in it's efforts to dodge the Borg attacks but the huge cube was hardly ever out of the gunners firing field. As a result, the hale of red streaks was seemingly continuous at the hands of the Klingon, scarring massive fissures into the side of the larger ship. The sheer joy in aggression that Leekta displayed was almost too much for the two Jedi to handle. How this race had not destroyed itself long ago was a mystery to them.

The Borg rallied for another strike. This time the green beam scored a raking hit across the hull of the more agile defender. Five of the spidery D9 units were vaporized under the onslaught, leaving only one to finish it's hopeless work on the deflector array. The remaining six continued their repairs on the damaged heat sink with only a mental recalculation to mark the passing of their counterparts. With a second's worth of debate, two D9's broke off from the main pack to help their lone comrade with the new damage to their baby.

The Borg were not finished though, not by far. Sensing that their pray was now sufficiently weakened, the cube shot out a tractor beam and began to reel it's newest acquisition closer. Those inside the hapless craft lurched at the sudden change in motion and fought all the harder for their survival. With a crispness that can only be executed in space, the prey spun on it's axis to face it's captor and launched a series of lethal warheads.

As the six proton torpedoes detonated, one after the other, a ripple of devastation coursed through the Borg vessel. A reaction had been set in motion, but the four desperate onlookers in the little scout ship had no intention of waiting to see what was about to happen. With another axial spin, the craft darted away from the dying collection of assimilated life at maximum sublight.

"How did you know they had a weak spot there?" Leekta pressed her face against the view port, trying to watch the Cubes destruction. She was not answered.

Conspicuous on their scanners was a sphere shooting out from the collapsing cube after them. They couldn't worry about it however, they had more imminent dangers at hand. They were now venting air in a number of locations and had lost the keel turbolaser turret. To make matters worse, the sublight engines were damaged and running hotter than advisable. With one heat sink in a state of less than operation this could quickly turn into an inertia only situation.

"This is the Travis system," Kellor stated in wonder. "It's over twenty-three light-years way from Rupert's End. How did you get us here in half an hour?"

"Never mind that right now, Captain. I need to know which planet is the inhabitable one." Jenna's words were curt. Time was not a commodity of which they were in large supply.

"Forth planet." Returned Mai quickly.

"Yes. It's a Federation settlement." Kellor informed. "Though I don't think you'll need to look that hard. Just follow the Borg. They're heading straight for it." The statement had the finality of an epitaph.

Jenna followed the Borg through the system as swiftly as she could without endangering her ship. Upon reaching the planet the Borg sphere was greeted with a useless smattering of defensive fire. It rocketed past this as if flying through nothing more dangerous than rain. Unstoppable, the massive ball began it's haphazard decent to the surface of the planet, on it's tail, the tiny Jedi ship shifted course to fall toward the opposite side of the orb.

The damaged, ebony vessel touched ground amid the chaos of a mass evacuation. Three more of the D9 units had been caught on the unshielded area of the hull during entry, leaving only four remaining to complete their ever-increasing task. Now, to add to the matter, the group was confronted by a contingent of those ever-present, yellow collared Starfleet peacekeepers. Someone new was with them though, with a uniform the two Jedi had not yet seen. This one had a red collar.

"We were watching the whole fight," the red collared officer announced, out of breath, as he rushed to the black, dagger-like ship. "I don't know how you did it! We thought we were goners."

"You still are." Kellor spoke down to the Red Collar as only a Klingon can.

"You're probably right about that," Red Collar conceded. "But we're a hell of a lot better off against the remaining Borg on that sphere then we were against the whole cube. At least now we have a chance to evacuate as much of the population as we can without having them shot down."

"Never have I encountered a species that instills as much fear as these Borg." Jenna spoke to Red Collar with concern. "They landed in an escape craft. Surely the population on this side of the planet has little to worry about. Shouldn't your troops be able to mop up the crash site easily?" If they had been in her native galaxy, Jenna would have assumed this world was peaceful, with little or no military. But this galaxy was so chaotic, the idea of a weaponless planet seemed absurd.

Red Collar looked to Kellor in confusion. "They've never seen the Borg before," was the Klingon's only reply.

"You live in a far better part of space then we do, Ma'am. Anyway, I'm going to have to ask you get back in your ship and get off the planet. We have a starship on the way to take care of this problem but we have to evacuate and quarantine the whole world until it gets here. Everybody off while you still can." Red Collar didn't think the demands were all that unreasonable and so was visibly surprised when the eerie woman in black rejected them.

"I'm afraid that's out of the question, Sir," the Jedi Knight told the gapping mouthed young man. "Our ship is in no condition to leave this planet. We'll conduct our repairs and leave once we're finished. I'm sure we can take care of ourselves."

"Are you kidding?!" The Starfleet officer couldn't help but look back to his ten guards in wonder. "You obviously don't understand this situation. The Borg can't be stopped. Not with the amount of people we have, anyway. We're leaving! No one is going to be around to protect you when they reach this continent."

"We understand the risk perfectly, Human!" Leekta was disgusted by the Federation's lack of courage and bolstered by the abilities of her new companions. "Run like dogs if you must. Like the woman said, we are capable of protecting ourselves."

"Never the less, I can't allow you to stay here in harms way. If your ship is damaged you'll have to leave it here until the planet is re-secured. I don't want to arrest you but you have to get on a transport."

Mai-Men's eyes shifted to her masters. They couldn't afford to leave the ship and risk having it's origins discovered. To her side the two Klingons were taking offence to the notion of being arrested and quietly gearing up for a fight.

"This discussion is pointless," Jenna argued. "We could have had the ship repaired by now if it wasn't for all of this. We thank you for your offer, but we have no wish for a transport. We will leave on this ship as soon as it's ready. If the Borg overrun the planet while we are still here we will deal with them then."

Something told the Red Collar not to push this issue any further. He had enough to worry about now without having to drag this lot to a transport. Besides, wasn't there something in the Prime Directive that said you had to let people be suicidal if they wanted to. "Fine," he finally gave up. "Feel free to take anything you need, I doubt anyone else is going to be around to stop you." The Red Collar turned his men around and started to walk away but stopped short. "Good luck," he called back, "I'll do what I can to hold them up for you ‘til you make it off. It's the least I can do for people who took on a whole cube." The officer turned and was quickly running off to his world's defense.

"I sense a disturbance moving in the Force, Master." Mai-Men stated as they watched the Starfleet team disappear into a building.

"Yes, I sense it too," came the masters reply. "It's rippling out across the planet. Come we must start the repairs. We may have little time."


The hours ticked by at a painfully slow pace as the Klingons hunted for an industrial replicator to supply the needed raw materials and the Jedi joined their four remaining droids in any repairs that were not too complex. Luckily, no major or intricate parts were damaged, so it would not be totally impossible to get the ship flying again.

Once the replicator was actually found, the next problem was finding a material that would be suitable for patching the ship's durasteel hull. This was doubly troublesome since neither of the Jedi were particularly versed in the material science of durasteel nor eager to reveal the composition even if they had been. Instead, they pleaded ignorance and allowed the Klingons to assume the hull was a tritanium alloy like what they were used to. It was good enough for a patch job provided that they could keep the shields up during any further take-offs or landings.

The starboard heat sink was another matter all together. The droids had managed to salvaged as much as half of it before the damage became so extensive that the remaining pieces were useless. With only three quarters of the ships total heat dissipation capacity they would have to constantly monitor the engines and juggle between which systems were to be on and off line. In the end the Jedi had had to agree to scanning the heat sink material with their new tricorder and program the matrix into the industrial replicator. To insure this matrix was never seen again, Mai-Men used the Force to scramble the devices innards after they no longer had use for it.

Unseen by the group, a small flying mammal had perched itself in a near by tree and had been watching them for some time. Outwardly, the little creature didn't look any different from the rest of it's brethren; large eyes, plump, fuzzy body. Inside, it was teeming with nano-probes, the Borg devices of assimilation. These microscopic robots had not begun their normal job of enhancing and replacing natural tissue, however, but merely linked the hapless thing to the collective to work as it's remote eyes and ears.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:40am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:21am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
The first of the odd, continuous beam, blasts to be directed at Jenna was turned instantly back on itself with a lightning parry of her humming, fluorescent green shaft. The next was sent harmlessly into the grey sky as the Jedi spun to catch it before it reached her back. With a thought from the Jedi, the six remotes of the ships security system rose from their small hatch and began herding the endangered crowd further away with sharp painful blasts. With another thought, the phaser flew from the thin man's hand to fall harmlessly to the ground.

The Jedi Knight's eyes were closed now. Completely oblivious to the chaos around her, she let the Force take total control. The energy of the universe flowed through her and became her. And she, it. She could see everyone's thoughts, knew everyone's actions, as if they could not think or do them without her approval. Her lightsabre was in position to block a phaser beam before it's sender had touched the firing stud. The redirected rays were always somehow precisely placed to never injure an innocent. In her, the Force gained an instinct for preservation. It used all the powers at it's disposal to keep itself safe.

Jenna's young apprentice was faring no worse. At the first sign of action the girl had vaulted from her position on the ships ramp, igniting her ‘sabre in the air, and landed between two stunned attackers. With a quick side kick to one and an open handed strike to the face of the other, Mai still had her own green blade unhindered to deflect an oncoming beam aimed at her head. The orange energy slashed away to vaporize the latinum right out of the hand of one of the betting spectators.

Mai then turned her attention to closing the distance between her and her master. Blocking away more fire from her right, the young Jedi apprentice whirled tightly to the left to let another beam pass by. Seeing her attackers fall in a flashing death at the hands of the Klingons, she focused on two men moving to flank Kellor. With an outstretched hand, both men lifted into the air and were flung far into the seething crowd like so much refuse. This was easy!

As the younger woman met with her teacher she let her excitement carry the Force through her. The two then became as one. Two fiery hands of the same creature, two extensions of the same will.

From the safety of cover behind a landing strut, Leekta grinned as she unleashed the destructive power of her weapon. "Cowards!" she screamed as her latest target ducked behind a stack of crates. Meggrel cackled wildly, firing at her side. In a hail of return fire, the old man's grating laughter was abruptly stopped. The crew was down to two.

Kellor stood in outraged disbelief. "Father! No!" the captain's disruptor fired once and he was running across the battle ground for the human who had taken his father's life. It took the efforts of both Jedi to protect the Klingon on his suicidal flight, their lightsabres moving so fast it appeared as though he had sprouted a pair of beautifully deadly insect wings.

He was robbed of his revenge however. It seemed the final blast of Kellor's disruptor had gone wide, into the crowd. The beam had landed on the first officer of a Nausican vessel who's enraged crew had immediately returned fire, killing the object of Kellor's revenge and adding a whole new dimension to the melee.

As the crowd joined the fight, the floating remotes moved to stop them, and Starfleet security finally arrived on the scene, the remaining four men in black found themselves caught in a cross fire and the battling defenders found themselves hopelessly out numbered.

"Quickly," Jenna shouted, sidestepping a beam of deadly energy. "Get to the ship!"

Seeing no alternative, the two remaining Klingons grabbed their dead companions and bolted for the open ramp of the strange human ship. The Jedi stood cover as they went. Next, Mai-Men back-stepped up the ramp, redirecting shot after shot with her lightsabre. When the girl was half way to the ships hatch the remaining crates of weaponry rose from their tumbled stacks and flew past her into the hold. When all was done, the remotes were destroyed, and the crowd began to move in on the last to escape, Jenna ran into the ship with a speed only the Force could bestow. Moments later the vessel's repulsorlifts were carrying it into the atmosphere amid a storm of energy from below.

"Their anger and aggression was almost our undoing," Jenna advised her apprentice as they piloted their sleek craft into orbit. "Remember this day and heed it's warning.

"You did not see the first strike in time to save Gortel." The last was a calm observation.

"No, Master." came the quiet reply from the copilots chair.

"Your mind was not focused on the situation at hand. Your anticipation of the battle clouded your thoughts." Another scholastic observation. "I did not catch it either, I'm afraid. Now a man is dead."

"Yes, Master."

"We must both remember this day."

"Yes, Master."

Leekta burst into the cockpit with livid excitement. "Doesn't this ship have weapons!? Why didn't we finish them off!? We could easily have defeated all of them yet you run like cowards! I saw with my own eyes what you could do. Why didn't you just pop all their heads from their shoulders!?"

"Let go of your anger Leekta," the Jedi knight instructed. "It serves only to cloud your judgement."

A strong hand came from behind the Klingon woman to rest on her shoulder. "The human is right, Woman." Kellor's voice was calm and even. "Even their miraculous abilities would not have saved us from so many..."

"But to die in battle..." Leekta interrupted angrily.

"Would be pointless," her captain finished imperiously, "if that battle had no purpose. That fight did nothing to avenge Gortel's death. And we had to sacrifice my father's life in the process."

"Paa," the Klingon woman spate as she spun to leave, "This is why you captain a freighter and not a battle ship!"

Kellor watched her go and listened to her pounding fists fade. "I can not fault her for speaking her mind. She is not very well traveled yet and doesn't understand that you humans do not always have the stomach to fight. I will deal with her once we are back on my own ship."

Jenna looked from her control panel back to Kellor. "I'm afraid that isn't going to be possible." She indicated a screen full of moving icons. "It seems as though we are not free just yet. The computer will need a few moments to calculate a jump to hyperspace but if you will please find a seat in the back we will be gone shortly."

"Hyperspace?! What are you talking about? Are you going to warp? What about my ship?! Show me your weapon system, I know how to use every one in the quadrant. A Klingon can't just sit idly by in a battle!"

"I assure you, your assistance is not needed Captain Kellor." The Jedi's voice was stern and full of polite command. "Perhaps your job can be to ensure that Leekta's fear doesn't consume us all. Mai-Men, please show the captain to a seat in the rear."

The lithe girl stood and faced the towering Klingon with a slight smile. Kellor almost started to laugh until a slender but firm hand was placed on his chest and began steadily pushing him back. It was an irresistible force. All he could do to save face was turn of his own volition and walk proudly away. The door to the cockpit slid shut behind him.

"I wonder what he thinks we're going to warp?" Mai sat back down in the copilot' s chair and checked the feedback on the shield generator.


Back in the cramped crew quarters of the Jedi vessel, Kellor found Leekta sitting, starring at the limp, lifeless bodies on the cabin floor. "These are not like any humans I have seen before." she said, shaking her head, as he sat down across from her.

"And how many humans have you met?" The question hung in the silent air for moments before Kellor continued. "True, though. I have never met anything, much less a human, that could do the things we've seen today. I have never been a very religion man, I know the Emperor is a clone, but the things I have seen today, I would have said were not possible yesterday. This whole situation has gotten far beyond our control."

Leekta nodded her head silently. "These two scare me Kellor." The confession was not an easy thing for the woman to give. The captain knew exactly what she meant. "How can a warrior fight someone fast enough to deflect a disruptor beam like it was a thrown ball? How do you fight someone who can throw you through the air with invisible hands? How many more like them are out there? And if they come, how can the Empire hope to stop them?"

"Now I know why you never made it into the fleet," Kellor gave a small, forced laugh, "you're too smart. It makes little difference. When these two demon-women drop us off where ever they do, we'll make our way back to Rupert's End and see if there's anything left of the ship. Until then, all we can do is wait. And try not to get ourselves killed."

After the death ritual had been performed on their fallen comrades, the silence between the two survivors lasted for what must have been half an hour before being broken by the appearance of Mai-Men. The young human strolled into the main crew area, black cloak no longer adorning her slim, athletic figure. The chrome handle to her lightsabre hung freely from a many pocketed belt making stark contrast with her priestly black uniform. The Klingons eyed her cautiously as she passed them to begin rooting through a compartment, eventually re-emerging with a round biscuit in her mouth.

"Feel free to help yourselves to anything in storage," the girl announced after a series of crunches. "And don't worry about your ship. We have foreseen that it will not be harmed in your absence." Not waiting for a response, Mai continued. "Now that you've said your farewells to Gortel and Meggrel, what do you want to do with the bodies?"

"How did you know we were performing a death ritual?" Leekta didn't think anyone other than a klingon had ever witnessed it before.

The Jedi apprentice shrugged. "Your feelings are easily conveyed."

"Then you are telepaths as well?" Kellor was aghast. Was there no end to these humans?

"The Force is apart of everyone. You can tell the thoughts and feelings of others if you are calm enough to listen to It." Mai sat down and finished her snack.

"The Force?" It was obvious Leekta had been lost. "What does force have to do with telepathy?"

The human smiled. "Not force, The Force. There's no mention of the Force in this galaxy? An energy field created by life? Surrounds us? Binds the universe together? How can you not know of the Force?"

"I have no idea what your talking about ,Girl," Kellor shook his head incredulously, "but if it's what lets you do the things you do, I what to know as much as I can."

Mai looked to the ceiling as if it was going to help her. It had no suggestions. "I think that's going to have to happen another time. Besides, you still haven't told me what you want done with these bodi..."

The statement was abruptly cut off as the boom of an energy weapon striking shields rocked the ship. The young Jedi jumped to her feet and charged for the cockpit. "Is there no peace in this galaxy?!" The two Klingons were not far behind.

As Kellor entered the small room and looked out the front window, whatever was left of his optimism fell quickly dead. "The Borg." It was a gasp of defeat.

"Yes," Jenna replied offhandedly, "I just got the speech. They don't seem to be taking no for an answer."

"They never do. At least we'll all get to die in battle." The Klingon captain gave his last remaining crew member a pat on the back.

"You speak as if they've already won." Jenna' s hands flew over the controls though her eyes never left the sight of the massive cube throwing another stream of green energy upon them. The Jedi vessel was jostled again as it's shields countered the punishment. "Mai, set 6-8-1 while the navicomputer finds somewhere else for us to be."

"Shields are down forty percent, Master." The apprentice's fingers rivalled those of her master as they sped on their task.

"We'll have to buy more time. Hold on." The sleek black dagger with the arching heat sinks swung around and headed straight for the center of the cube. With the push of a button streaks of red energy were spat into the Borg ship, explosions playing evilly across it's surface.

"Yes!" Leekta shouted. "We fight! Kill as many as we can!"

"Few have stood against the Borg alone and lived to tell about it," Kellor cautioned. "They learn and adapt with each attack you make. Their shields and weapons will be stronger with their next attack." The smaller ship narrowly evaded another gout of Borg death.

"It's strange, Master," Mai said calmly as she fired another volley into the giant cube. It's shields took some of the destructive energy this time. "I sense many lives but few thoughts and no feelings at all."

"Yes," Jenna still concentrated on the acrobatics she was putting their ship through to evade the weapons of the enemy. "I feel it too. Many voices in one mind." The image of whole worlds being assimilated flashed into the Jedi's mind. "No respect for life, no connection with the Force."

The two Klingons stole a quick glance at each other. The humans were talking strangely again but at least they seemed to be holding their own.

"The Borg care about assimilation and nothing else," Kellor advised. "They are a collective entity who's goal is to convert the galaxy to it's own image. We Klingons would rather die then be assimilated. To us it is a fate worse then imprisonment."

"Something tells me you won't let that happen my friend." Another shock rumbled the ebony craft as if in response to the older woman's words.

"Shields down to fifteen percent, Master. Aft deflector array is down and we've got damage to the starboard heat sink. It's minor but it'll probably blow if we try to make a jump." As if in response, the navicomputer abruptly stopped calculations and displayed a flashing warning.

Jenna's orders came with a calm only the Force could provide. "Activate the D9 units and try to find a place where we can land. Kellor, you know this area don't you. Help her. Leekta, take over at weapons control while Mai-Men is busy. It's not a hard system, just point and shoot."

Mai pushed the button to activate the ships damage control team and traded her seat with Leekta for the navigational computer system. Kellor watched the star charts from over the girls shoulder. It had been a long time since he had had to read human script but at least he recognized what was on the screen as human, unlike anything else in this ship.

Back in the cargo hold there lived a configuration of twelve rectangular boxes, each one half meter by one meter in area and a quarter of a meter in height. These twelve lived in two neat rows of six, attached inauspiciously to the ceiling. Upon activation, three insect-like legs unfolded from each of the long sides of these boxes and two much smaller appendages appeared from one end. The twelve, now very insectoid, droids proceeded to exit the ship one by one via a small airlock in the holds roof. In moments they were swarming over the smooth outer hull of the vessel, racing for the damaged areas like ants to sugar.

The scuttling droids were soon separated again into two groups of six. One heading for the damaged heat sink, the other toward the deflector. Upon reaching their targets, all manor of tool and welding arms were extended from the undersides of the intrepid robots, tearing away unuseable hull sections and rerouting power supplies.

In the cockpit, the Klingon warrior-woman was laughing at the destructive power at her finger tips. The Jedi's vessel darted back and forth in it's efforts to dodge the Borg attacks but the huge cube was hardly ever out of the gunners firing field. As a result, the hale of red streaks was seemingly continuous at the hands of the Klingon, scarring massive fissures into the side of the larger ship. The sheer joy in aggression that Leekta displayed was almost too much for the two Jedi to handle. How this race had not destroyed itself long ago was a mystery to them.

The Borg rallied for another strike. This time the green beam scored a raking hit across the hull of the more agile defender. Five of the spidery D9 units were vaporized under the onslaught, leaving only one to finish it's hopeless work on the deflector array. The remaining six continued their repairs on the damaged heat sink with only a mental recalculation to mark the passing of their counterparts. With a second's worth of debate, two D9's broke off from the main pack to help their lone comrade with the new damage to their baby.

The Borg were not finished though, not by far. Sensing that their pray was now sufficiently weakened, the cube shot out a tractor beam and began to reel it's newest acquisition closer. Those inside the hapless craft lurched at the sudden change in motion and fought all the harder for their survival. With a crispness that can only be executed in space, the prey spun on it's axis to face it's captor and launched a series of lethal warheads.

As the six proton torpedoes detonated, one after the other, a ripple of devastation coursed through the Borg vessel. A reaction had been set in motion, but the four desperate onlookers in the little scout ship had no intention of waiting to see what was about to happen. With another axial spin, the craft darted away from the dying collection of assimilated life at maximum sublight.

"How did you know they had a weak spot there?" Leekta pressed her face against the view port, trying to watch the Cubes destruction. She was not answered.

Conspicuous on their scanners was a sphere shooting out from the collapsing cube after them. They couldn't worry about it however, they had more imminent dangers at hand. They were now venting air in a number of locations and had lost the keel turbolaser turret. To make matters worse, the sublight engines were damaged and running hotter than advisable. With one heat sink in a state of less than operation this could quickly turn into an inertia only situation.

"This is the Travis system," Kellor stated in wonder. "It's over twenty-three light-years way from Rupert's End. How did you get us here in half an hour?"

"Never mind that right now, Captain. I need to know which planet is the inhabitable one." Jenna's words were curt. Time was not a commodity of which they were in large supply.

"Forth planet." Returned Mai quickly.

"Yes. It's a Federation settlement." Kellor informed. "Though I don't think you'll need to look that hard. Just follow the Borg. They're heading straight for it." The statement had the finality of an epitaph.

Jenna followed the Borg through the system as swiftly as she could without endangering her ship. Upon reaching the planet the Borg sphere was greeted with a useless smattering of defensive fire. It rocketed past this as if flying through nothing more dangerous than rain. Unstoppable, the massive ball began it's haphazard decent to the surface of the planet, on it's tail, the tiny Jedi ship shifted course to fall toward the opposite side of the orb.

The damaged, ebony vessel touched ground amid the chaos of a mass evacuation. Three more of the D9 units had been caught on the unshielded area of the hull during entry, leaving only four remaining to complete their ever-increasing task. Now, to add to the matter, the group was confronted by a contingent of those ever-present, yellow collared Starfleet peacekeepers. Someone new was with them though, with a uniform the two Jedi had not yet seen. This one had a red collar.

"We were watching the whole fight," the red collared officer announced, out of breath, as he rushed to the black, dagger-like ship. "I don't know how you did it! We thought we were goners."

"You still are." Kellor spoke down to the Red Collar as only a Klingon can.

"You're probably right about that," Red Collar conceded. "But we're a hell of a lot better off against the remaining Borg on that sphere then we were against the whole cube. At least now we have a chance to evacuate as much of the population as we can without having them shot down."

"Never have I encountered a species that instills as much fear as these Borg." Jenna spoke to Red Collar with concern. "They landed in an escape craft. Surely the population on this side of the planet has little to worry about. Shouldn't your troops be able to mop up the crash site easily?" If they had been in her native galaxy, Jenna would have assumed this world was peaceful, with little or no military. But this galaxy was so chaotic, the idea of a weaponless planet seemed absurd.

Red Collar looked to Kellor in confusion. "They've never seen the Borg before," was the Klingon's only reply.

"You live in a far better part of space then we do, Ma'am. Anyway, I'm going to have to ask you get back in your ship and get off the planet. We have a starship on the way to take care of this problem but we have to evacuate and quarantine the whole world until it gets here. Everybody off while you still can." Red Collar didn't think the demands were all that unreasonable and so was visibly surprised when the eerie woman in black rejected them.

"I'm afraid that's out of the question, Sir," the Jedi Knight told the gapping mouthed young man. "Our ship is in no condition to leave this planet. We'll conduct our repairs and leave once we're finished. I'm sure we can take care of ourselves."

"Are you kidding?!" The Starfleet officer couldn't help but look back to his ten guards in wonder. "You obviously don't understand this situation. The Borg can't be stopped. Not with the amount of people we have, anyway. We're leaving! No one is going to be around to protect you when they reach this continent."

"We understand the risk perfectly, Human!" Leekta was disgusted by the Federation's lack of courage and bolstered by the abilities of her new companions. "Run like dogs if you must. Like the woman said, we are capable of protecting ourselves."

"Never the less, I can't allow you to stay here in harms way. If your ship is damaged you'll have to leave it here until the planet is re-secured. I don't want to arrest you but you have to get on a transport."

Mai-Men's eyes shifted to her masters. They couldn't afford to leave the ship and risk having it's origins discovered. To her side the two Klingons were taking offence to the notion of being arrested and quietly gearing up for a fight.

"This discussion is pointless," Jenna argued. "We could have had the ship repaired by now if it wasn't for all of this. We thank you for your offer, but we have no wish for a transport. We will leave on this ship as soon as it's ready. If the Borg overrun the planet while we are still here we will deal with them then."

Something told the Red Collar not to push this issue any further. He had enough to worry about now without having to drag this lot to a transport. Besides, wasn't there something in the Prime Directive that said you had to let people be suicidal if they wanted to. "Fine," he finally gave up. "Feel free to take anything you need, I doubt anyone else is going to be around to stop you." The Red Collar turned his men around and started to walk away but stopped short. "Good luck," he called back, "I'll do what I can to hold them up for you ‘til you make it off. It's the least I can do for people who took on a whole cube." The officer turned and was quickly running off to his world's defense.

"I sense a disturbance moving in the Force, Master." Mai-Men stated as they watched the Starfleet team disappear into a building.

"Yes, I sense it too," came the masters reply. "It's rippling out across the planet. Come we must start the repairs. We may have little time."


The hours ticked by at a painfully slow pace as the Klingons hunted for an industrial replicator to supply the needed raw materials and the Jedi joined their four remaining droids in any repairs that were not too complex. Luckily, no major or intricate parts were damaged, so it would not be totally impossible to get the ship flying again.

Once the replicator was actually found, the next problem was finding a material that would be suitable for patching the ship's durasteel hull. This was doubly troublesome since neither of the Jedi were particularly versed in the material science of durasteel nor eager to reveal the composition even if they had been. Instead, they pleaded ignorance and allowed the Klingons to assume the hull was a tritanium alloy like what they were used to. It was good enough for a patch job provided that they could keep the shields up during any further take-offs or landings.

The starboard heat sink was another matter all together. The droids had managed to salvaged as much as half of it before the damage became so extensive that the remaining pieces were useless. With only three quarters of the ships total heat dissipation capacity they would have to constantly monitor the engines and juggle between which systems were to be on and off line. In the end the Jedi had had to agree to scanning the heat sink material with their new tricorder and program the matrix into the industrial replicator. To insure this matrix was never seen again, Mai-Men used the Force to scramble the devices innards after they no longer had use for it.

Unseen by the group, a small flying mammal had perched itself in a near by tree and had been watching them for some time. Outwardly, the little creature didn't look any different from the rest of it's brethren; large eyes, plump, fuzzy body. Inside, it was teeming with nano-probes, the Borg devices of assimilation. These microscopic robots had not begun their normal job of enhancing and replacing natural tissue, however, but merely linked the hapless thing to the collective to work as it's remote eyes and ears.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:41am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:24am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Upon landing, the Borg had begun to execute two objectives. The first was simple and automatic for the drones. The total assimilation of all technology and sentient life. The second objective was new. The collective had rarely come across a starship that could put up as much of a fight as the one that had destroyed their cube. That technology had to be assimilated. It would surely aid in the assimilation of hundreds of species that had been eluding them for years.

To that end the collective had assimilated hundreds of small, highly mobile, indigenous life forms and sent them to search for the unusual craft. The plan had been successful. In a matter of hours the chain of animal spies had grown to encompass the whole world and had found the black ship, with it's crew, where they had extrapolated it would be. Now all that was left was to reach the far continent and strike.

Unfortunately, that was not an easy task. After the initial population of the area had been assimilated, the Borg found that all of the transportation devices, from cars to transporter pads, that they came across, had been destroyed. Even with their exponential expansion rate, they were making slow progress getting to the pockets of sentient life that had not found room on an evacuating ships. Then there was the great world ocean. The drones had no choice in crossing this but to either wait for new transportation to be constructed or start walking across the bottom. They did both.

The first of the cybernetic horde to reach the other side of the ocean arrived in a single, twenty person, carrier. The hovering vehicle hummed over the deserted sands of the beach without stopping and headed straight for the closest city. There, they were met with a much greater defense then they had seen at the initial landing sight. The people left on this continent had had longer to dig themselves in and prepare. All of them were Starfleet officers and enlisted who had given up their places on the escape ships for a civilian. They knew they couldn't stop the Borg but expected to make every step as difficult as possible. Many had rigged explosives to their bio-signs so that they could get one last stab if assimilated.


The twenty Borg drones showed no signs of being impressed with any of it. The rectangular carrier flew impassively over the first barricade and dropped to the ground right in the midst of the defenders. One by one they walked, mechanically down the carriers ramp, raising their scanning arms to cybernetically ‘sniff' the air. The first was knocked to the ground by a single phaser from the doomed crowd, a smoking, cauterized hole through it's head. With this gauntlet thrown down, the Borg commenced their assault.

With it's exit ramp still open, the shoe-box transport let loose with a storm of brilliant green energy. Row upon row of Federation defenders fell to the onslaught, their bodies like fruit dropping from trees, before the survivors could even think of retreat. Some of these lucky ones tried to pull their fallen comrades with them. They new the truth. These were not killing blasts, the Borg weren't that friendly. The fallen had only been stunned, making it easier for the drones in the carrier to assimilate them.

As the cyborg assault team began doing just this, one blue collared officer hoisted his unconscious yellow wearing friend onto his shoulders and dashed away as fast as he could. Which was surprisingly fast considering the lankness of the runner and the middle-aged thickness of his baggage. This was no ordinary human.

Explosions could be heard from blocks behind the two as the booby-trapped defenders gave their final gesture of defiance. The blasts soon became muffled and then stopped all together as the drones first began containing the bodies in force fields then learned to identify and disarm them. The Blue Collar stopped and turned, readjusting his load, resetting the frequency of his phaser, and checking his photographic memory all at the same time. There should be roughly fifty or so now, he thought. Great place you picked for a vacation, O'Brien. Just great.

In the distance, a small pack of five survivors ran past the street, trailing phaser fire in their wake. Moments later a pair of Borg drones marched quickly after. Green energy fields splashed to life around the Borgs, dissipating the phaser beams as they sought to connect with their enemy.

O'Brien's limp body was shifted, the phaser neatly aimed and fired, and one of the drones ceased to exist in a flash of orange light. The creature's partner never turned it's attention from it's pursuit.

"I'll have to lower the power setting or this thing will be useless before I get ten blocks," the dashing man said to himself and his Irish friend.

A groan came from the dangling man in reply. Good, the effects of the stun beam were wearing off quickly. Scanning the area again, the Blue Collar eased his load to the ground and checked the man's vitals. Another groan was his thanks.

"J-Julian." The accented O'Brien looked up at his friend in confusion and rubbed his throbbing temples. "What's going... Oh yeah, never mind. Did we win or am I having a Borg dream?" An explosion in the distance turned both of their heads. "I guess that answers that."

"Come on, Chief," Julian said as he helped his friend to his feet. "We have to get away from here. The Borg have probably tripled in size by now and are crawling all over the place looking for survivors. This area isn't safe."

"Yeah," the Chief answered, changing the frequency of his weapon. "but this whole bloody world isn't safe, now is it?"


The two Jedi were the first to hear the sounds of approaching battle in the far distance. This was just the final alarm however, they had both felt the ripple of Borg assimilation steadily closing. "We must move quickly now," the older Jedi ordered. "Finish whatever repairs you are doing and leave the rest. We'll have to make due with what we've done so far."

From across the landing platform Leekta and Kellor rounded a corner and came into view riding an open-topped hover car. The car zoomed over the distance to abruptly stop in front of the watching human women. "The Starfleets are in trouble," Leekta informed the two. "The Borg are making a concerted effort to head this way and are only being slowed down slightly. Those soldiers are fighting a glorious battle against impossible odds. We have to help them!"

"We may have no choice." There was a look of grim determination in Kellor's eye. "Leekta's right, they're heading for this ship. They want it. They want what it can do. If we can't slow them down enough for your robots to finish repairs then we'll all be dead anyway. You two stay here and work, we'll help the others as best we can."

"No," Jenna answered. "I'm coming with you to help. Mai, stay here and finish the work. You're a better mechanic then me anyway."

"But..."

"No buts." The finality in the even voice was clear. "I need you to protect the ship until we get back. I'll contact you if I run into any problems." Then to the Klingons, "You'll need to use some of the more powerful weapons in the hold."

Kellor shook his head. "From what I've heard about the Borg, they won't be of any more use."


The two men stopped their constant jog to rest at the corner of two seemingly endless streets in the deserted city. Chief Miles O'Brien, the older and less active of the two, put his hands on his knees and pulled air in with long, heavy breaths. His friend, Doctor Julian Bashier, stood watch. He had hardly broken a sweat.

"Are you sure you can keep this up, Chief?" the Doctor asked, putting a hand on O'Brien's back.

"I'm going to have to, now, aren't I, Lieutenant," the older man said through gasps for air. "I don't see much choice in the matter." He looked up in annoyance at his genetically enhanced friend.

Far down the street in the direction that they had come, the two friends watched as a collection of Borg drones moved methodically forward. This was the same scene they had been watching since the initial attack. The drones had followed them unerringly as the pair had fled down streets, allies, parks, and through buildings and tunnels. They never picked up speed nor slowed, they never stopped, and if they ever lost the trail, a different set of drones would take up the chase once they made contact. It never ended.

Bashier and O'Brien had been running away like this for the better part of the day. They kept an easy pace and took potshots at the drones whenever they had to stop, but there was nothing they could do to make a clean escape. At this point the phasers were pretty much useless and the run was taking it's toll. On O'Brien anyway.

When the small troop of Borg had reached the mid point of two soaring buildings the two men again raised their weapons and fired. Not at their enemy, but at the reenforced concrete of the buildings' bases. The drones were shielded, the buildings were not. With a moments worth of phaser fire the two buildings that had been facing off with each other for who knew how long slowly fell forward, right on top of the passing Borg. Dust and debris billowed down the street with the thundering sound of the crash but no sign was left of the pursuers. The two men began to move again.

"Where are we headed anyway?" Chief O'Brien asked as they started down an adjoining road.

"Who knows?" was Bashir's response. "We may come across other holdouts. If we can find a way to the shuttle platforms we might be lucky enough to find a ship that no one was able to get to."

"Yeah," O'Brien said sardonically, "what are the chances of that?"

"Miles, you have to look on the bright side," this came heaping with false humor. "I'm sure Ezri got Kako and the rest of your family off the planet, and neither of us have been assimilated yet. With luck like this we can't help but find a stray ship. For the record though, I'm never meeting you for a vacation again."


Six Borg had felt the hood of the nimble hover car carrying the two Klingons and the Jedi before it came to a crashing halt, completely inoperable. Upon impact, the Klingons dove from the sides of the vehicle to come to rolling stops, disruptors already firing at the phlegmatic drone collective sieging a group of five Starfleet officers. The Jedi had taken a higher road. Standing up in her seat, Jenna had flipped back, away from the crash to land on her feet ten meters from the nearest enemy. This was her first good look at the Borg; humanoid, but as much machine as man. A quick flash of the infamous Sith of resent history, Darth Vader, filled her mind.

The five Starfleet officers of various humanoid species cheered at the sight of their saviors and doubled their efforts against the drones. They had long since forgotten their useless phasers and had taken up branches and pieces of metal debris for weapons. The Borg shields did not seem to defend against matter, just energy.

Phasers may now have been useless, but the Borg had not yet adapted to Klingon disruptors. Kellor and Leekta bounded through the ranks of the drones, firing and changing frequencies at a moments notice. Adding to the damage was the fact that it took a round of blasts before the drones even recognized the Klingons as hostile. Soon, however, the battle was joined by both sides and the area turned into a mass of flailing and swinging bodies.

One officer, a woman with skin that was flushing green instead of red and had pointed ears, managed to get her hands around a number of unidentified tubes connecting the back of a drone's head to it's waist. With a sharp tug the connection was broken but her enemy showed no signs of relent. In fact, with a total lack of feeling in it's eyes, the creature grabbed her shoulder and injected the woman with nano-probes in one mechanical motion. Immediately the pointed eared woman fell as if dead, her skin now rapidly turning the strange mottled grey of her attacker.

From her distance, Jenna calmly ignited her lightsabre and moved to the defense of another of the hard-pressed officers. It was a blue skinned fellow in a standard uniform with yellow collar. He was doing his best to keep the probing injectors of the Borg at bay with a metal rod but finding the drone's strength more than he could handle. With almost a casualness, Jenna strode to the man's defense, lopping the arms off the cyborg with one swipe of her glowing blade. With a quick change of direction the creature was cut in two at the chest. The blue man stared in wonder, hardly believing he was alive.

"Ah!" Leekta cried from the Jedi's left, now using her dagger to great effect. "You have to tell me where I can get one of those!"

The Jedi wasn't listening, however. Two drones had targeted her for assimilation and were closing in with dead-eyed determination. With a calmness to match her enemies, Jenna waited until the two had reached just the right distance and then swiped both of their heads off with one fluid sweep. The green beam of energy hummed in the afternoon air as it traveled it's arc and returned to the blithe ready position at the woman's side. It wouldn't stay there for long. The threat of the Borg was not their ferocity but the sheer relentlessness of their attacks. Three other drones now moved to detain or destroy the woman in black.

The three antagonists approached from three different sides, one closing from behind. The Jedi didn't move to attack, didn't turn in hopes of having all three in her view at once, didn't even raise her lightsabre to a more appropriate ready position. Instead, she stood silently waiting again. They would come to her. And they most certainly did.

The first drone to come within killing distance raised it's hands right away to ready it's injector. It's arms didn't match the length of the woman's sword, however, and the cyborg was met by a lightning quick thrust to it's belly. This strike had come backed by more strength then any before. Jenna's instincts had told her to and she had obeyed as she always did. And for good reason. As the tip of the lightsabre closed on the Borg, a green energy shield flashed to life in an effort to block the killing push. They had learned. It was to no avail though, the extra strength the Jedi had put in her strike was enough to drive the blade through and soon it was cutting up and out of the unfortunate drones head.

Not wasting time to consider the personal shields these Borg seemed to be able to emit, Jenna threw one hand in the direction of the next closest opponent, sending it flying back to crash against a near by wall. The last of the attackers was no more lucky than his companions. Without looking behind her, the swordswoman slashed her blade back, separating the drone at the waist. Despite it's protection.

Meanwhile, Kellor was busy keeping his own opposition at bay. The Klingon had backed himself into another of the Starfleet officers and had replaced his disruptor with a long, jagged piece of the car wreckage. Together, the two of them had managed to hold off being assimilated with nothing less than luck and sheer stubbornness. Things were becoming tight, however, and there was no room to move, much less fight. All of the Klingon's strikes were either blocked or had no effect. Then, as if distracted by a loud noise, all of the drones attacking the pair turned and began walking away. It made no difference to Kellor. That was just the chance he was looking for to lop the things head clean off.

All over the battle ground the Borg were stopping their fights and turning in mass to face the one that was giving them so much trouble. In fact, Borg seemed to be showing up from other areas to crowd the single human female that refused to succumb to the force of assimilation.

Kellor scanned the surroundings for other survivors besides himself and the human at his side. There was another human on the far side of the street but no sign of Leekta or anyone else. Then he saw her, the last member of his crew. She was lying face down on a pile of drone bodies, unmoving. Kellor rushed to her, the other man instinctively following along, not knowing what else to do. Upon reaching the macabre monument to Leekta's fighting prowess, the Klingon captain nudged his comrade over with the toe of his boot. She was alive, unconscious and a definitely Borg shade of grey. His entire crew had now died in the company of these two human women. At least they had gone down fighting.

Taking his dagger from its place at his side, Kellor knelt down and delivered the final blow to the neck of his hopeless friend. Wiping his blade off on a Borg body and replacing it in it's sheath, he then pried the warrior-woman's own dagger from her cold, dead hand and threw it down into the chest of one of her fallen enemies with a dull thud. Finally, the mourning captain lifted his head to the sky and howled his warning to the heavens. None of the Borg seemed to care, the humans, on the other hand looked even more nervous then before. If that was possible.

In the center of a milling, churning mass of Borg drones, a lone knight stood, patiently waiting for her next attacker to step forward. The pile of limbs and bodies from those who had come before was constantly growing in size and being swept away by others ready to take their place. There was no short supply of those. If nothing else, the Borg had determination. But the knight stood her ground silently and dealt with each opponent as they came. Be they singly or all together.

The point had come when all of the Borg activity centered around the one woman. Somehow, she knew it. As if receiving a cue, the Jedi extinguished her weapon, returned it to her belt, and raised her hands, all in one fluid gesture. The effect this had on the gathering of drones was up-lifting to say the least. At that moment, the entirety of the Borg crowd shot into the air in a massive, writhing ball, and hovered, suspended like a morbid piece of zero-gravity artwork.

"Now," the woman said, lowering her hands, as the remaining three rushed to her side, "what do I do with them?"

The only answers she received were breathless demands to know how she was ‘doing that'. Not from Kellor though, he wasn't surprised by anything anymore. "Can't you shoot them into the sun?" He wasn't necessarily being serious but one never knew.

Jenna furrowed her brow as if thinking, "I suppose there is no reasoning with these Borg, is there."

"Not once they get their mind set on something." The Klingon shook his head. Was she actually considering what he had suggested in jest? "You could always send them up into the sky and let them drop?" That would be something to see.

"Don't you think that's a little gruesome?" The human woman spoke as if scolding the other.

"So's assimilation." The quite statement came from one of the two remaining Starfleet officers. He was a smaller man with mouse brown hair and a haunted look on his face. The Jedi looked over to him and felt his pain immediately.


Mai-Men sat idly on the top of the ship watching the droids effect the final repairs. She had tried to watch her master's battle through the Force but found that her excitement and longing to be a part of the action disrupted her vision. In the end the girl had to content herself with watching the D9's scuttle about and trying to keep her mind open to signs of attack.

She didn't have long to wait. The first drones the young Jedi saw came methodically from around a building some two hundred meters away. She had plenty of time to jump down from her perch and walk purposefully toward them. There were two and the pair did not stop at her approach or even when she was right in front of them. Instead, the oblivious duo walked past, on a direct course for the girl's ship.

"Hey," Mai said out loud in exasperation and spun to watch the backs of the two Borg recede toward her ship. "No you don't."

Calling on the Force, the girl lifted the drones into the air and deposited them back down with her between them and their target. The pair, again, seemed totally oblivious to anything being amiss and began their trek to the matte black craft anew. These Borg certainly were a stubborn bunch.

As she stared in wonder at her adversaries, trying to think of some way to dissuade them from their goal, the Jedi began to notice other drones emerging from the distance. Some singly, some in groups. All seemed to be converging on her landing platform.

Oddly, she sensed no danger to herself from these strange cyborgs. They were only going after the ship. Even if the vessel hadn't been their only means of escape, however, there was no way she was going to hand it over to another power. Having it's technology fall into the hands of anyone in this galaxy was expressly and adamantly forbidden by the Republic. At this point in time anyway.

Things were quickly getting out of hand. The first pair of drones had now almost reached the ship and there were others who would soon be in range as well. Pulling her lightsabre from her belt and igniting it, the Jedi burst into an inhuman sprint, overtaking her opponents in seconds. Without stopping, she swiped the legs from under the two, despite their shields, and continued passed, under the ship, to confront the next closest group. The four D9 droids twittered to themselves from around the ships outer hull.

Mai lifted her glowing blade to the four emotionless challengers determined to reach her ship and wondered if their shields would get stronger with each encounter with her sabre. The group of four split in the middle to circumvent the obstacle that had placed itself in their path. A second later they were all without heads.

Looking around again to assess the area, Mai found yet another group of Borg, this time only three, swiftly approaching from the ship's aft. On the opposite side, a pair was striding in, flanked by a group of four on each side. To make matters worse, the original pair was still advancing, dragging themselves along hand over hand.

"Where are the remotes when you really need them?" the girl said to herself as she thrust her left hand to the Borg moving towards the bow of the vessel and used her Jedi speed to reach the aft group for a lightning fast attack.

Ten Borg drones were scattered like dust by a Force that did not register on their sensors a split second before another three were confronted by a whirling dervish that barely did. A moment later a young Jedi apprentice was standing in a pile of dismembered body parts and the Collective was registering three more losses.

Without thinking, Mai shifted her lightsabre ever so slightly across her body and blocked a lance of green energy that stabbed from the edge of the platform. Now they were shooting. Things definitely were getting out of hand.

Blocking another series of blasts and moving to intercept yet another mass of drones, the Jedi reached for the comlink on her belt. "Master," there was a hint of desperation in her voice, "I need you at the ship! I'm being attacked from all sides." The two crawling drones were summarily eliminated. For good this time.

"We'll try to get to you as fast as we can, Mai," Jenna' s voice assured over the link. "We've gotten ourselves pretty far from the platform though. You'll have to hold out for a while longer. I know you can do it Mai-Men. Feel the Force flow. Don't think, do. I'll be with you as soon as I can. May the Force be with you."

"Please hurry, Master. I don't know if I can handle so many of them." It was ten to one as the Jedi put her comlink away and focused her concentration on the fight at hand. The closest drone raised it's hand and fired it's stream of energy at the lone defender. Three of the attacker's companions were twitching on the ground before Mai angled the beam back at it's master. By this time two others had moved to flank the young woman, both extending nano-probe injectors menacingly forward. Striking out at one with her foot, Mai thrust her lightsabre into the mechanized gut of the other and split it up the middle. The drone that was kicked tried desperately to catch the offending leg and inject it but the attack came too swiftly and the leg was gone seemingly before it had arrived. It was soon replaced by a green energy blade that severed both arms at the elbows.

There still should have been four left of this group, however, Mai-Men was faced with only two. The others had taken the opportunity to reach the ship and begin assimilation. More had reached the ship as well while the woman had been fighting. It was just too much area for one person to defend. Even if that person was a Jedi.

"No!" Mai lashed out at the remaining pair in frustration, finishing them in one sweep, and spun to cut the other two from her ship. That done, the girl again focused her energies on the Force and watched, panting in satisfaction, as the other Borg on the ship, as well as the other Borg anywhere near the ship, flew into a jumble at the edge of the platform.

From their vantage at the side of a cargo depot, O'Brien and Bashir watched the girl in black make an incredible leap to the top of the strange craft and douse the blazing green sword in her hand.

"How do you suppose she did that?" O'Brien wondered to his companion.

"Which part?" The whole scene had seemed surreal to the doctor. It was almost enough to take your mind off of the Borg.

"Well whoever she is we'd better get over to that ship." The chief wanted to say that the girl could use their help but in truth it was more the other way around. "The Borg are getting to their feet again."

With that the two began their mad dash for the sanctity of the alien vessel. They didn't need to waste the effort, the drones weren't interested in them at all. All shots were being directed at the woman on top of the ship. More surprising for the two men, all the shots were being directed right back at the drones. In what seemed like a weird, fast-forwarded game of tennis, the lone woman dodged some beams with lightning reflexes and deflected others back to their originators. She stepped and turned like a dancer on a target range.

"Get in the ship! And power up whatever's left of the weapon systems!" The two men assumed she was talking to them and began desperately looking for a way into the sealed vessel. On the hull, the four remaining D9's scurried from their respective locations and disappeared into the tight hole they had come out from. After a long moment a panel opened on the crafts upper hull and a squat double cannon emerged. Underneath the ship, a twin location, blasted and broken, twitched and smoked and then fell dead again.

Flipping down out of the way of the now blazing turret, Mai-Men landed with her humming sabre extended toward the newcomers.

"Take it easy," Bashir raised his open hands and spoke calmly. "You looked like you could use some help. We thought you were talking to us up there."

"We're just trying to get off this planet the same as you." O'Brien put in. "We were hoping you could give us a lift?"

The lightsabre was down before the man had finished. "Sorry, it's been a long five minutes."

Above, the cannon blasts thundered into the ring of approaching Borg, turning large portions of their offensive into vapor. "What is that? A plasma weapon?" The chief asked as his engineers nature took over and he ran a hand over the smooth hull of the alien ship.

"What, the blaster?" Mai specified. "I don't know. I assume so. As long as it works I don't care."

As if in answer to this statement the rain of fire stopped short. Smoke began to billow out anew from the charred remains of the keel turret followed by an accompanying shower of sparks from the upper guns. Immediately, an insectoid droid was clattering out of their little hole to race for each of the cannons. The one dangling above the three humans shook it's two front claws in agitation before tearing into the smoking wreck with abandon. O'Brien could only look on in amazement.

Not for long though, the Borg were on the move again.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:42am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:27am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
As if in answer to this statement the rain of fire stopped short. Smoke began to billow out anew from the charred remains of the keel turret followed by an accompanying shower of sparks from the upper guns. Immediately, an insectoid droid was clattering out of their little hole to race for each of the cannons. The one dangling above the three humans shook it's two front claws in agitation before tearing into the smoking wreck with abandon. O'Brien could only look on in amazement.

Not for long though, the Borg were on the move again.

"Great," O'Brien moaned. "You wouldn't happen to have any more weapons like that, would you?"

With a snap-hiss the green blade came back to life. "This? No," the Jedi answered, "but we have tons of other stuff in the cargo hold. Maybe you two could find something in there."

"Right," agreed Bashir, looking for some means of getting into the ship. "How, exactly, do we get in?"

Mai took a few quick steps to the rear of the vessel and pulled a concealed panel open. Punching a series of alien symbols on a key pad, the cargo ramp began cycling down. "Make it quick though," she advised. "I can't hold all of them off forever and I don't like having the ramp down like this."

"Right." Both men were already up the ramp and inside the ship.

Mai-Men stood ready at the ramp as the Borg drones advanced nearer and nearer. In anticipation, the girl began swinging her blade idly back and forth. The sound was like a swarm of bees lost in a maze, first going one way, then the next. Her enemy was taking its time now. They had learned some respect for the girl it would seem. Or they were moving into position for a mass strike.

Then she saw it. A split second before the first drone fired, before all the drones fired simultaneously actually, the girl was flooded with the image of the Borg attack. In that split second, the lithe young woman deactivated her weapon and leapt up to attach herself to the fuselage of the ship, mimicking one of the D9 droids. Once attached she phased from sight. Not a hard task considering the coloring of the ship and her clothes.

The smell of ozone permeated the air of the landing platform as the Borg ceased their onslaught and, as one, moved closer. Where had their target gone? The jump had been so fast that at first the drones believed she should still be in her original position. There was even some debate as to whether the target had not been vaporized. That was dismissed off hand because of the lack of residual trace molecules. It finally took the action of one drone looking up at the hull before switching off it's thermal imaging system to locate the prey.

They were all around the ship now, some making straight for the Jedi, others going for the open entrance. Mai was running out of ideas and feelings of hopelessness were beginning to creep into her conscious. With a sigh of resignation, she closed her eyes to the walking nightmares around her and tried to open herself fully to the Force as she had seen her master do so many times before.

Dropping from the ship and lighting her sabre at the same time, Mai tore through the surrounding drones in one wide arcing swipe. Soon the Borg were firing once again. It was to no avail. Their target was simply too fast. And in such a clumped up group, the Borg's numbers soon turned against them.

A hail of energy fire shot out at the Jedi from all sides like the spokes of a giant wheel. In answer, she leapt impossibly into the air, arcing over the crowd and landing with a roll that allowed her lightsabre to slice through a row of opponents as she passed. All the drones that had fired were subsequently killed be their own counterparts.

Diving again, the woman in black this time came up running at incredible speed. The green light trail of her blade marked the path of her killing sprint for a moment and then was gone, like the lives of the drone victims. Mai-Men looked on all of this from somewhere in her own mind. She was not in control any longer, the Force was. She was just a passenger on the ride.

Elsewhere on the platform, a group of drones was heading for the invitingly open cargo ramp. They reached the seemingly unguarded entrance and raised their sensor arms for a preliminary survey of the interior. What they found were the energy beams of two Romulan disruptors contacting with their cybernetic chests. More fire came charging down immediately after as Bashir and O'Brien defended their position from behind two immense crates.

That wasn't the duo's only weapon though. Not by a long shot. Both men were strapped down with weapons of every shape and size. Both men represented an arsenal of some of the quadrant's most highly advanced weapons. Most importantly, both men fought with the knowledge that this was their last hope.

Side by side the men of Starfleet fought, changing frequencies together, changing weapons together, even hollering war-cries together. The two had actually fought a similar last stand battle as this one in the past. That, however, had been in a holosuite, where death is not quite so permanent. Other then that, the two battles weren't that different, aside from the girl, and the only big surprise they got was when the Klingon disrupters had no effect.

Still, as good as they were, the trio of defenders was being badly pressed. It would not be long now before the Borg had adapted to every one of the weapons at the two men's disposal. And the Jedi... Even the Force had trouble fighting twenty opponents at once when confined to a human frame.

And the Borg had changed their strategy. No longer were they confining themselves to simply capturing the three and their ship. Now the drones were firing their weapons to kill. The ship was their prize, losing three new drones, even if one would be an exceptional assimilation, was an acceptable loss.

Then, once again, the battle shifted. From the right side of the landing platform a new group emerged. Not drone re-enforcements this time, but a tired, ragged bunch led by a middle-aged woman dressed in priestly black.

Seeing her protégée swarmed by dozens of drones and in obvious trouble, Jenna burst forth like a lioness to endangered cubs. Almost faster then the human eye could track, the woman ran, using the Force to push everything out of her way. She could sense the strain on the young Jedi, the girl couldn't keep up her pace for much longer.

And she was right. The Jedi master reached her apprentice only in time for a first hand view of the younger woman being injected from behind by the lucky thrust of a drone who just happened to be in the way when the girl was back-stepping. Horror played for a split second across the master's face before she regained control. In almost slow motion, Jenna watched Mai-Men fall to the ground, her skin greying rapidly, and heard the girls lightsabre fizz away to nothing but the hilt. In the background, Kellor could be heard screaming in rage and charging the mass of drones that surrounded his two Jedi friends, the only people he had left in the galaxy.

All drone activity swarmed to Jenna. Everything else was ignored. With all of the bodies pressing in on her, the Jedi had no other choice but to leap away to a clearer location. As she fell back to the ground she saw the Klingon, steel rod in hand, rushing to the Borg, swinging with wild abandon. She could see most of the Starfleet people charging in as well. They were moving to her landing position though. She could tell they would try to stop her from saving Mai-Men. They didn't need to waste the energy. For the first time in ten years the woman could not sense the presence of her student.

It seemed like an impossibility. The girl was right there in the milling crowd of drones, still alive. It was hardly noticeable but she was moving ever so slightly. But it wasn't Mai-Men. The Jedi knew it in the bottom of her heart. The body was now just another drone in the Collective. One very special drone.

Special indeed. Even if Jenna had wanted to wade into the drones, lightsabre in hand, it would have been to no avail. Mai's limp body was being picked up by one of them, oddly enough, as gently as if it were carrying a baby. Using the rest of the group as a shield, this lone Borg ran, actually ran, from the scene, taking it's precious cargo to a safer location. Once it was gone the rest of the drones turned their attention back to assimilating the Jedi' s vessel.

"Everybody get in the ship!" Jenna shouted as she swept the Borg presence away from the landing platform.

O'Brien and Bashir kept everyone covered as the group of defenders hurried up the ramp into their salvation. Jenna's eyes took one last sweep of the area to make sure they were not forgetting anyone and made her own way towards the two waiting men. The men who had probably bought Mai-Men more time then she would have had alone.

When the Jedi entered her ship she immediately knew they were one person shy. Kellor had not gotten on yet. The Force told the woman not to bother waiting for him. The Klingon had rushed into the crowd of Borg in a blind battle rage.

He had hoped to free his young human companion, or at least give her the honor of being killed by a friend. One drones head after another succumbed to the swing of his improvised weapon as he plowed through. In the end though, the Klingon was hopelessly out numbered and was pulled down by countless uncaring cybernetic hands.

In seconds the ship was off the ground and rushing into the atmosphere. A few more seconds and a blockade of hundreds of refugee ships filled the plasteel screen. Hails began bombarding the Jedi vessel from all sides, but they were ignored. The sleek, black craft just sped past into deeper space.

O'Brien was in the cockpit trying to make sense of the controls. "Aren't you going to wait here for Starfleet to come? Aren't you going to help clear the planet?" He asked as the other ships zipped past the screen.

"No. I'm taking you back to your homeworld." Jenna didn't want to spend any more time in this Force forsaken galaxy then she had to.

"But I don't want to go back to Earth!" Miles argued. "My family's on one of those ships. I need to make sure they're okay!"

The middle aged woman turned calmly to the yellow-collared man. "Your wife and children are fine and you will be able to find them once you are home. Now sit down and be quiet or leave." There was no harshness in the command, only an assured finality. The Chief sat.

"Good," the woman continued. "Now help me find this Earth on the charts so we can get out of here."


Picard watched out the front screen of the strange shuttle craft as it swept away from the Enterprise and turned toward the wormhole. Passing before the captain's eyes, the growing fleet of Federation vessels, now ten strong, was soon replaced by the looming sight of the great tunnel in space-time. Despite his awkwardness, T-2C5 was an excellent pilot and maneuvered the small ship as steadily as anyone.

Behind him, the captain could hear Data adjusting his dress uniform one more time. He did the same and took a quick look at the notes on his data pad. The excitement of a first-contact situation was like nothing else in the universe. This was what he lived for.

Then, with a flash of light and an odd feeling of being pulled forward one molecule at a time, the shuttle was through and the three occupants were greeted on the other side by an armada of titanic proportions. At least two hundred of the wedge shaped ships, like the one from the earlier attack, floated in a grid formation around the wormhole's exit. Around them were hundreds more smaller ships, some long and thin, some short and squat. Here and there, somewhat closer to the spacial rift, sat tubular vessels that seemed as though they were covered in vast blisters. The most striking view, however, was of the ship that hung back, behind the hustle and bustle of everything else. It was the veritable size of a city and seemed to loom like a great storm cloud over everything that happened. Picard's mind was boggled at the industrial capacity it must have taken to produce a ship of that size. Let alone all the others going on about their business.

"We shall have to inform Starfleet of the need for more ships." Data told the captain softly.

"Aye, Mr. Data," Picard answered. "For what good it will do us."

After a moment of flying through the amassed fleet, it became apparent that the shuttle was in fact heading for the massive, arrowhead shaped, city ship. The command ship, Picard would learn.


Aboard the Super Star Destroyer ‘Republic Dawn', Captain Pooda sat back and admired his new office one more time. Finally the Force had been with him and the ‘powers that be' had decided to leave him in command even thought the operation had escalated. If things kept up he might be an admiral soon. More likely he'd be filed away and forgotten, but at least he'd have a Command ship under his feet.

The door buzzed. Crap. It was probably that Xezzaron Croc again. Pooda's thick body shivered at the mere thought of the biologist. It wasn't the fact that he was of a species of reptilian carrion eaters, but that the man looked like a dead member of a reptilian species! Milky white eyes, constantly flaking skin, that paled, drawn-back expression, in any species the man should have been dead long ago.

And he kept finding some excuse to come by! If it wasn't this it was that or the other thing. The stubborn old bastard just wouldn't go away. There was always a new plan to show or a new request that could only be approved by the captain. How Gerra had managed to shift the codger's attention to him, Pooda didn't know, but she was going to pay somehow.

Leaving his feet up on his shiny, new hardwood desk and running a hand through his thick, black hair, the captain shouted for Xez to come in. It wasn't the old biologist thankfully, but the heavy captain's executive officer, a tall Mon Calamari named Wullo.

"Captain," the brown skinned fishman barked. "The emissary droid has returned with a representative of the alien government. They will be docking shortly."

"All right then," Pooda hefted his bulk into a standing position, "lets get down there. Inform Dr. Windfire and her people to meet us on the platform."

"Already done, Sir." Wullo sucked in a gargled breath and spun to follow his lumbering commander.

In the vast, cavernous expanse of the Republic Dawn's number four docking bay a seemingly insignificant delegation of officials waited patiently for the lambda-class shuttle to land and lower it's mouth-like ramp. All around them technicians and droids worked on everything from fighters to the smaller cruisers. High above, huge pieces of machinery and ferrying ships drifted by, uncaring of the events that were unfolding for two mated galaxies.

Captain Pooda and Wullo had arrived in the hanger to find Gerra and two other scientists waiting with the honorary detachment of stormtroopers who would serve as a welcome guard. The blue armored soldiers now stood in two rows of ten before the landing craft. At one point in history that armor plating had been strictly white. To draw attention and inspire fear, the captain supposed. Now, with the ways of the Empire long gone, the equipment was colored more toward function. Greens for vegetated areas, browns for deserts, greys for city combat, etc. Blue was chosen for all of these miscellaneous events where one wasn't actually trying to kill anyone but still could if the need arose. It was the color for those soldiers who's job it was to be seen.

"Oh, I wonder what they'll look like!" Dr. Croc wiggled his bony fingers in anticipation and tasted the cool, conditioned air with his tongue. Pooda and his scientific counterpart both rolled their eyes.

"Don't get too worked up, Doctor," the captain warned. "We are not going to greet our guests with an examination. You are here for observation only. Step out of line and I'll have you removed."

"Of course, Captain, of course. I am, if nothing, a professional." Pooda couldn't tell if the reptile was apologizing or being condescending.

Everyone's attention was then shifted as the shuttle finally finished it's landing cycle and began opening it's ramp amid jets of vapor. Twenty heels snapped to attention and Captain Pooda, Dr. Gerra and both of their people walked down the isle created by the guards to meet the new arrivals.

The first thing they saw coming from the darkness of the ship was a set of black clad legs and feet. It was bipedal. Next came the waist and hands followed by the chest. Not just bipedal, but humanoid! Finally the entire person was down, ducking his head under the last of the shuttle's snout. It was human!

The shock could be seen playing itself out on the bald man's face as well, though not quite so much as Pooda's. The word ‘fascinating' was echoed between Dr, Croc and the second alien to reach the end of the ramp. For a second it was the only thing that broke the silence between the two groups.

"Well," said T-2C5 in galactic standard, shuffling around to stand in the middle of everything. "I guess I'll make the introductions. Captain Pooda, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets, Captain Picard," he switched to English, "let me introduce you to Captain Teeloo Pooda of the Galactic Republic." Again switching languages he finished by saying, "I see you have changed ships, Captain. Congratulations!"

Pooda gave as crisp a military salute as his jiggling frame could muster and turned to the droid. "Tell him that I apologies for the awkward greeting but we were not expecting such a... Familiar appearance."

"Neither were we, Captain." Picard first held his hand out to silence the interpretation and then habitually extended it in offered greeting.

The Republic captain's expression went from mild surprise to curiosity at the statement and gesture. "I see you've learned our language from the droid while it was with you. Very commendable."

"Nothing so amazing, I assure you," Picard said, taking a slight look at his unrequited hand and lowering it quickly. Of course he wouldn't know what a handshake was! "Your language was programmed into a device we call a Universal Translator. It is what is enabling us to communicate."

"Sounds like a useful piece of equipment, Captain Picard. Come, I'm no diplomat but I know we shouldn't be standing around out here. Wait, where are my manors. Let me introduce to you Dr. Gerra Windfire," The portly captain swept his hand to point at the middle-aged, dark skinned human woman standing beside two aliens, "she is heading up the scientific end of this little extravaganza, I'm just here for administration."
"
It is my extreme pleasure, Doctor," Picard charmed. "I look forward to hearing some of the findings your people have made concerning the wormhole. I'm sure Mr. Data here is as well."

"Yes," T-2C5 cut in. "Mr. Data is quite remarkable! A multipurpose droid made to resemble a humanoid life form and given a ranking position on their vessel!" The concept sounded laughable the way the droid said it.

"Well then," Pooda's eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the alien droid. There was only one reason in his mind that people made a droid that human in appearance. Yet this one was so noticeable? "Come Captain, gather your droid and we'll move to a more comfortable environment." Pooda turned his considerable mass and led the way out of the bustling hanger.

"Actually, Captain," Picard said amicably. "Lt. Commander Data is a respected member of my crew and has always been treated as such."

Pooda stole a sidelong look at Data. "Fair enough. And what is your function, Mr. Data?"

"I am currently second officer aboard the Starship Enterprise..."

"Your ship?" Pooda asked Picard quietly while Data spoke.

"Yes"

"...and serve as operations bridge officer as well as preforming duties in engin..."

"That's enough, Commander. No offense, but he sounds like any other droid to me."

Reaching a comfortable transport lift, Captain Pooda ushered everyone in and continued. "So you're a military man, Captain Picard. Was your ship the first on the scene over on your side?"

"Actually, we're an exploration vessel primarily," Picard explained. "We only take on a combat role when necessary. And no, we weren't the first at the wormhole. That is something that we need to discuss though." Picard looked down a moment at the other captain, trying to read his fat face. "It would seem the events of the past few days have been grossly misunderstood on both of our sides."

Doubt played across the other man's face for a moment before he spoke. "Please Captain, I don't see how any of what has happened could have been misunderstood. You did erect a mine field around your side. I'm not judging. Your tactics are your own. But lets try not to call things what they aren't. In the long run though, at least no one got hurt."

"Actually Captain Pooda, that's another thing we need to talk about."


Deep within Borg cube 7823986, streaking through a transwarp conduit, a completely human girl not much older than twenty, a rare occurrence on a Borg vessel, sat cross-legged and completely entranced. Her clothing and equipment had been stripped away long before, at first assimilation, and she had been transferred to the cube in this rapt state when it had arrived to re-enforce the growing collective on the captured planet. Now, the cube traveled back into secure territory to give more attention to it's new and puzzling acquisition.

Acquisition 3251 of 3251 continues to resist assimilation. The words thundered in Mai-Men's head from uncounted voices.

Acquisition 3251 of 3251, resistence is futile. Your distinctiveness will be added to our own. Your knowledge will be our knowledge. You will be assimilated.

It was the same message that had been repeating over and over in her mind for what seemed now like an eternity. Ever since the nano-droids had built the transceiver into her brain, not to mention who knew what else, the emotionless statements had been non-stop. And it wasn't just the demands to relent. Mai could hear every thought of every drone around her in a whirlwind cacophony that threatened to pull her over the edge. Maybe it even was. Only the Force was protecting her now.

Mai-Men had woken from her first injection on the battlefield to feel the machines twisting and changing her insides as the voices in her mind assaulted her very being. Without giving a second thought the young knight-in-training had done the only thing she could. She had retreated her consciousness as far back into herself as possible, building walls of protection with the Force every step of the way.

Unfortunately, those walls did not last forever. One would fall and she would build it up again. The Borg would push through and she would fight them back. It was so very hard to keep calm and concentrate on her own individuality while being assaulted by so much conformity. The Borg were very good at what they did. They had been doing it for a long time. She may have had a powerful ally on her side but she was far from being a master and her enemy seemed to have all the time in the universe.

Acquisition 3251 of 3251 continues to resist assimilation.
Unassimilated species find structural replacement damaging to the psyche.
Begin replacement of inferior structural components.
Acquisition 3251 of 3251. Resistance is futile...


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:43am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:30am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Alarms blared in Commander Bala's head even if they weren't going off in reality. Through the cabin windows the man watched three sleek, one-man craft flash past while a half dozen or so light freighters sidled blithely up to the Crown of the Republic's side. This was only what he could see through his window. There had to be more on the other side.

The Federation spy had been enjoying a leisurely evening of entertainment and gambling before he had lost all of his money to a small purple-grey frog that floated under two large, balloon-like appendages. It was then that he had made his way to the grand bay window to look out at the stars of the Patic Sanora system and saw the group of approaching ships. When he had later been confronted by a nervous looking porter in the hallway and told to return to his cabin, Bala was sure they were being boarded. These missions could never be easy, could they.

The train of thought was broken by the cabin's door sliding open and Pellax charging through. "Good, you're here, Commander," the Trill began breathlessly. He had obviously run here. "It's pirates. The whole ship is being locked down. There are androids everywhere setting up defenses."

"I don't think they're going to be too useful, Wel. It would be just as easy for them to destroy the ship from the outside and pick through the pieces if they're going to get trouble inside. I sure don't like the looks of those fighters circling around out there." The Commander looked to the window again. " Where's Jonesy?"

"I don't know. Haven't seen him since this afternoon. But like I said, I have seen a hell of a lot of defense activity now. That tells me the people in charge know they have a chance to fight. If you think about it, maybe there are celebrities on this boat that are worth more alive. Whatever the reason though, there's a fight brewin'."

"And if Jonesy doesn't get his butt back here he'll be stuck out in it." Bala shook his head. "Alright, where did you see him last."

The two men readied their mini-phasers and rushed back out into the hall. Not two seconds later they were greeted with a series of deep thuds heading steadily towards them. From down the hall, very solid looking blast doors were falling into place one by one over each cabin's entrance. They both stared at the grey metal that separated them from their lodgings.

"You have your tricorder, Lt.?" Bala's voice betrayed slight concern as he pulled his own out of his pocket with his free hand.

"Never let it out my sight." Pellax assured as he produced his own.

"Good, then we haven't lost much. Let's get going."


"By the way," Jonesy asked from his position behind an overturned buffet table, "does anyone here know what this is all about?"

The room had been all but evacuated for the most part originally, but after the blast doors had started closing off the cabins, those who had been trapped out of their quarters had congregated there, or to areas like it, for protection. The ships skeletal defense droids had done an excellent job of building barricades and distributing weapons to anyone who was willing to fight. At the moment though, all anyone could do was wait and watch and listen.

"Who knows?" the answer came rumbling from the gapping maw of a greenish brown blob of a creature, immense in proportion. "With my luck they're coming after me!" The last statement brought rolls of deep laughter issuing from the blubbery mass. As if on cue, the two beings at its side began to laugh as well. It was a forced mirth but if the pair's monstrous master noticed, it didn't mind.

Lieutenant Jones gave a false smile and a slight nod in approval of the jest. The ominous bass laughter did nothing to lighten the mood in the room and his hand subconsciously tightened it's grip on his gun as his eyes shifted from one scared face to the next. There wasn't much in the way of fight in these people. They were mostly just frightened upperclass vacationers. Of the twenty passengers in the dinning hall it looked like there would be only himself and the three stooges there to help the ten robots that now stood a silent vigil at the exits.

Of the three, they all looked as though they could handle a weapon, that was certain, though the large leader obviously hadn't had one in his stubby arms for years. His men, if they were male, both stood with the casual watchfulness of professional bodyguards. One was tall and slender with four long, thin arms and a small bulb of a head on a long, spindly neck. The only thing that Jonesy could equate him to was a giant walkingstick insect, only the creature wasn't insectoid. It wore tight clothes designed not to get in the way of movement or catch unwantedly on stray objects. It's two eyes were obviously cybernetically enhanced and could undoubtedly track and aim with ease each of the four guns the creature held. This must be the bloated, mobile stomach's long range defense.

The other guard looked to be more suited for close combat. Small in stature, perhaps a meter and a half tall, the grey skinned being had a cat like appearance and moved with all the grace of that animal as well. True, it held a gun at the moment but Jonesy could tell that it was far more comfortable fighting hand to hand. The creatures large yellow eyes squinted as it took another deep whiff of the air around the closest doorway.

"What's the deal?" Jonesy went on casually. "You some kind of a bigshot or something?"

This brought more booming laughter from the creature as it turned it's huge brown eyes to the puny human addressing it and began to slither over on it's thick yet obviously very muscular tail. "Bigshot!" The rest of the cowering passengers tried to make themselves even more invisible as the word echoed around the expanse of the dinning hall. "No, that's his job." The monster pointed a fat finger to the henchman with the four arms. "Don't you follow politics boy? I'm Satoolla. Senator Satoolla? I represent Hutt space! Somebody get this kid a news holo!" The Hutt and his two men were the only ones to find this funny.

"So you've made a couple decisions that weren't well received I take it?" This might be an explanation but who would hijack a whole ship just to assassinate one person?

"No, but there's always someone out there who thinks they can do a better job. Or thinks they deserve it at least. It's times like this that I think about giving the position up and just concentrating on my personal businesses."

"You don't really think that anyone would go to all of this trouble just for an assassination, do you?" Jones could hear energy fire coming from down the hall as he asked the question. The defense droids and the Hutt's henchmen readied themselves.

"That depends on who it is," Satoolla shrugged. "There are some that would just have the ship torpedoed to slag. This lot of Poodoo has to be pirates. They're looting."

"Or there's someone on the ship worth more alive then dead."

"Well if that's the case then they aren't after me. My family ‘d never give a cent to get me back!" The massive Hutt gave another bass laugh as he slapped the human on the shoulder and slithered over to the barricade.


"No you idiots! We're on your side!"

The screaming didn't work. The cruise ships emergency defense droids continued to advance, firing their precision bolts of plasma. Pellax risked a quick look back around the corner and let off a wild arc from his phasor before pulling back and darting down the corridor after his commander.

"Come on, come on!" Bala shouted from the next junction, aiming past his comrade with one hand and waving him on with the other. A long beam of energy suddenly appeared beside the dashing Trill, hopefully connecting the Commander's weapon to an emerging foe behind.

"Between the invaders," Pellax said as he recovered from a dive around the corner, "and the freaking robots, I don't know how long the charge is going to last on these little things."

"We've almost finished this bunch off," Bala replied as a hail of blaster bolts sped past his ducking head. "We'll see if we can't use their weapons then."

Another blast was heard hitting home around the corner but this time it was followed by the cheer of pirates. "Ok, maybe we won't be taking those weapons." The Commander sighed and they both charged down the hallway and around the next corner as fast as they could.


Two droids exploded back in a shower of sparks and a cloud of smoke. That made six, with only four more to go. The attackers had taken their fair share as well but they showed no sign of stopping. Jonesy brought his gun back up to bare over the barricade, aimed and squeezed off a shot. Beside him the gangly Walkingstick exhaled in exasperation and spun from cover, spraying four different areas with streams of plasma.

"<Haven't you ever heard of suppression fire?!>" The alien's high pitched voice chided in Huttese. Jonesy only caught about half of the translation.

From another opening into the room a rumble of pain irrupted from Satoolla and the Hutt pulled back behind cover clutching it's left arm at the shoulder. A quick glance was all that either of the bodyguards gave to their master.

"Is he alright?" Jonesy looked from the Walkingstick to the Bald Cat for the answer.

"<She's fine,>" The Bald Cat replied distractedly between firing. "<That shot probably didn't get through the fat.>"

"She? That's a she?" Jonesy ducked another incoming attack and returned fire. When he looked back the two body guards were gone. Looking around he spotted them again, the Bald Cat was scaling the sheer side of the wall to an air vent, the Walkingstick was looking up after. In another second the vent was open and the Cat was gone. Jonesy had to pause in his observation of the spectacle to return fire but when he looked back the ‘Stick was most of the way up a rope and the Cat was hauling on the other end. Then they were both gone. To the side another droid went down smoking.

Satoolla moved across the room to the Federation officer with the speed of a killer whale in the ocean. "Come on kid, to hell with these toads. We're getting out of here!"

"And where exactly do you think we're going to go?"

From the main entrance the remaining attackers could be heard falling into complete disarray amid a rain of blaster fire. In another moment the small form of the Cat appeared, waving them forward.

"That way," was all the Hutt said before it took off at a slither that Jonesy had to run to keep up with.

The two entered a hallway filled with bodies splayed in all directions. The bodyguards were too busy searching for unspent energy clips to give them much notice. When the search was over the clips were distributed evenly and the four were on the move again.

"<They look like anyone we know?>" Satoolla rumbled to her men in Huttese.

They both shook their heads and moved forward at a careful jog.


Bala and Pellax arrived in front of the dinning room to a scene of massacre. The bodies of the raiders, creatures of all descriptions, littered the floor like the discarded clothes of a child. Looking through the remains, the two found that all of the extra rifle ammunition had been taken.

"At least we know we're not alone." The Trill offered, taking the sidearm and accompanying clips from a fallen brigand.

"Yes," the Commander responded from his own search. "And it would probably be in our best interests to catch up with them if we can. They seem to know what they're doing."

"And we wouldn't want to end up shooting at each other or anything." As if in response to the Trill's statement the remaining droids in the dinning hall took notice of the two armed men near their position and started firing.

"No rest for the weary." Bala said and the two men were off again. This time in pursuit of what they hoped would be help.

It didn't take long for them to reach there prey. The four beings were pinned down in a small sitting area making what looked like a last stand against a group of attackers at the end of the hall.

"There's Jonesy," Bala said as the two pulled back around the corner before they were spotted. "I think he's been hit. It looks like he's trying to dress a thigh wound."

He was. The quartet had turned the very same corner that Lt. Jones' friends were now at to find this group bunched around one of the blast doors, trying to hack into it's mechanisms and get it open. The fire fight had been pretty steady and he had got himself clipped by a stray bolt. He didn't think it was too bad though. The real problem was the fact that they were all running out of ammunition.

Then the shots started coming from a new direction. None of the four really noticed until Jonesy had finished tying off his leg. He grabbed his gun and looked back up to the battle to see blaster bolts streaking past from down the hall. Immediately bringing his weapon to bare he almost took a shot until he, first realized that the two men were shooting past him to the pirates beyond and secondly, that they were none other than his two fellow galactic interlopers.

"Hay!" Jonesy shouted. "The cavalry has arrived."

It was the Walkingstick who spared a quick look back and muttered, "<Not much of a cavalry.>"

With the renewed force, the attackers was driven back down the passageway giving the Federation spies time for a short reunion.

"We've been looking all over for you Mr. Jones. Now we find you off playing with your friends?" Bala helped his companion up with mock formality while Pellax ran a tricorder scan over the leg wound.

"What's that there?" Satoolla asked shifting up to the trio. Her men jogged down to the end of the hall where their enemy had been for a hasty reconnaissance.

"This? Just a medical scanner," Pellax lied.

"Good!" The Hutt's cat-like eyes widened as it's voice thundered. "I took a hit on the shoulder. Give this a look will yo..."

The request was cut off by an eloquent voice speaking Galactic Standard over the intercom. "Attention passengers. We now have control of the ship. You will soon notice a series of low frequency sound pulses being issued. Do not be alarmed. These are merely designed to render you unconscious for your own protection as well as ours. Thank you for your cooperation."

The Cat was the first to drop, then the world of the Federation spies went black.


Black. Everything was still black. Bala began to wonder if he had really managed to open his eyes. Of course he had! If he was unconscious his head probably wouldn't be pounding so much. And that humming; constant and low. Was that the hum of an engine or were his ears ringing from that damn sonic blast? The Federation Commander tried to raise in his dark confines and quickly found himself rushing to meet the cold, hard floor. Whether it was his head spinning faster or the contents of his stomach, he couldn't tell.

Off in the impenetrable shadow, the unmistakable sound of retching rolled over the background hum. That was Pellax if it was anyone. It had to be.

"Don't hack the slug out, Lieutenant." Bala's voice sounded weak. He wanted to try to make it over to where ever his friend was but knew he would only be adding to the vomit smell now making it's way around the room. He was answered only by a weak groan and the sound of someone slumping over.

"Pellax, Commander, are you alright ? I can't see a thing!" It was Jonesy, they had all been put in the same holding cell. What else could be lurking out there in the dark?

There was a sound of shifting, of movement to Bala's right and out of the blackness came the reverberating pang of something hitting metal bars. Jonesy's disembodied voice grunted in pain. They may have all been in the same room but they weren't in the same cell.

"So," Jonesy asked, rubbing his head in the darkness. "Am I blind here or are we in the dark?"

"I can't see either, Lieutenant, so either there's no light or we're both blind." Bala eased himself into a sitting position against the wall. "Any ideas about what's going on and why anyone would what to take us, of all people on that ship, alive?"

"Well," Jonesy began. It sounded like it was painful for him to even think. "It could be that we weren't the only ones taken. This could all be a slave trade thing. Or it could be that my fat, slithering friend was right and they were after her. She said she was a senator. Maybe whoever our captors are think we're with her."

"Maybe. But I don't hear anyone else breathing in this room, do you? Why would they put us together and separate the other three?"

"Beecha no ley...Bhaa!" Pellax's weak voice swore in his native tongue before he switched to English. "They even took the phasor I had stashed down my pants! It actually makes me glad the translators are implants. Anyway, maybe the room is only big enough for these three cages?"

"If it was slaves they were after wouldn't they jam as many as they could into each cell? Or put everyone in a cargo hold?" They could hear Lt. Jones slowly testing his cage as he spoke.

"It could be they have a special order for three humanoids." Bala offered. "We've been causing trouble and we fit the bill so they took us. It could also be that they're throwing off the authorities by taking small groups in different ships to different locations. Whatever the answer is, all this thinking is making me queasy. I'm going to try to get some rest while there isn't anything I can do. I suggest everyone else does the same."

"That's easy for you to say," came the Trill's reply. "Your cage is still clean." After that the darkness became silent once again. All except for the soft humming of what they assumed was a slave ship passing through hyperspace.


A monster grey wedge filled space before Commander Bala's eyes. Only part of it was illuminated by the far off reflected light behind him but he could see running lights and windows trailing off until they seemed to mingle with the stars in the background. What was he thinking? This ship was the background. The starscape behind was just some after thought. Like a tiny patch of sky in a picture of a cloudy day.

Then the dark was made light. An iridescent green light that could burn anything in it's path. Hundreds of green streaks rained down on him out of the massive ship bringing pain and misery. Only not the pain that he was expecting. He was sure he was going to be vaporized instantly, this felt like a boot to the side.

Then came the sound. It was like someone shouting gibberish at him. You weren't supposed to be able to hear anything in space, much less voices? It took one more kick to the side before Bala realized he had been dreaming and now someone or something was trying to wake him up. Aggressively.

"Alright," the beleaguered man sighed as he tried to guard against any further assaults. "I'm up, I'm up."

Waking greeted the Commander with both good news and bad. The room was now dimly lit and he could see, so they weren't blind. The only thing in his field of vision at the moment, however, was the blade of a strange alien staff weapon.

"Morning, Commander." Jonesy said while his wrists were being locked behind his back. "I guess we're home." This gained him a bark and a smack from his captor.

Describing the four creatures that were now rousing and binding the prisoners as humanoid would have been using the most liberal sense of the word. True, they had two arms, two legs, a body and a head, but that was where any resemblance came to a screeching halt. The creatures were large, the smallest being about seven feet, with the long, thick arms and the shorter legs of an ape. Their skin had the color and consistency of granite and their four beady eyes shone blackly from deep, thick browed sockets. Beaked mouths seemed to take up the rest of the face, even to the preclusion of a nose. Neither of the three Starfleet officers could read any emotions on the grey, craggily faces but it was obvious that they weren't in a pleasant mood.

Once taken from their holding room, which turned out to actually only hold the three cells, the prisoners were led down a series of steel corridors, pressure hatches and stony passages to a large set of double doors guarded by two more of the rock-skinned behemoths. As those meter thick doors were swung open the three prisoners and their guards were greeted by the sight of a ragged, milling throng. A cross section of almost all of the species in the galaxy, all looking weak, strung out and scared. Fear was something you could read on even the most alien of faces.

The guards gave them all one last push and the double doors slammed shut with a crash that echoed around the cavernous, rough-hewn chamber. When the reverberation died it left the three with only the constant sobbing of the masses to comfort them.

"Alright," Pellax said, sizing up the crowd and counting the number of faces he thought were children. "They took us from caged isolation where we couldn't do anything, to a room full of people that's guarded by two or three thugs. Does anyone else not see the logic?"

"I think Bala was right before," Jonesy answered. "I think those cages were on a transport. Now we've been moved to a depot of some sort. The Nausicans use something like this for their slave trade. Everyone gets brought here and they take who they want when they want them."

"I'm starting to hate always being right." Bala slowly walked further into the room and signaled for his men to follow.

"Now lets see..." he continued. "Doors are about a meter or so thick, at least two guards on the other side with pikes," his eyes moved about the room, " and five, maybe six robot drones flying around spying on everybody." On cue one of the small, hovering, mechanical eyeballs buzzed over and stopped for a second to take them in. When it finally left, they continued.

"We, on the other hand," Pellax countered, "have the clothes on our backs and about two hundred fellow prisoners who don't particularly look up to trying a breakout. Depending on what they give us to eat, if anything, we may also have a knife or fork or something. I doubt that'll do much to the muscle at the door though."

"Breakout you say?" The question caught the three off guard. They had been using voices that only the highly trained or highly acute of hearing could hope to understand and had not been moving their lips as they spoke. "No one will help you."

The trio looked down to see a small figure swathed in a hooded black cloak sitting against the wall to their right. He was a good six paces away and should never have heard their conversation. Everyone in the area, on the other hand, could hear exactly what he was shouting. Looks were passed back and forth around the crowd like a virus.

"Is it so strange for us to talk about escaping a slave prison?" Bala muttered quietly to the odd little fellow when the three had reached him. The creatures thick, grey snout was all that could be seen of him, even when that close. "Don't you want to leave?"

"Of course! But I'm just a small, little thing." The creatures tone was now dropped to a more appropriate, conspiratorial level. "It's not everyday that three beings such as yourselves are brought here. Most who reach this place come in on the edge of sanity. They're in shock and filled with fear. Fear of the guards, fear of the droids, fear of the people around them. It makes them useless and before they have time to adjust they are taken away again. No one stays here for very long. Not even long enough to eat." His hooded eyes turned to meet the Trill's and a sly smile played over this snout. "No one will help you."

"And why are you so special? Why are you still here?" Jonesy wondered suspiciously. When turning to his Commander he said. "I don't trust this. Let's leave him."

"Yes!" The little grey snout whispered at it's accuser. "You are right, Sir! Don't trust. Don't trust anyone. Not here, not anywhere. You will live a very long time."

"Why are you still here then?" Pellax asked after taking another look around for spy drones. In the distance two were shocking someone into unconsciousness.

"Maybe I don't trust you." Little grey nostrils sniffed and the hooded face looked down as if it were drifting off to sleep. "You aren't like the rest who come here. So bold. Maybe they sent you? Maybe they sent you to spy on everyone. Learn the things that people say when the droids aren't around." The creature raised his voice again. "Well I don't know anything! Go away and let me wait for my turn in peace!"

"Fine. Come on, lets go." Jonesy stood up and looked around for another quiet spot.

Bala and Pellax rose and began to follow, the Commander giving a quick look back at the strange being sitting on the floor behind them. "I think he knows a way out of here," he said to his Lieutenant. "Keep an eye on him. Especially if anyone comes around carting people off."

"Aye, Sir." The Trill replied. "But something's got Jonesy's hair up. He's always been the best judge of character I've worked with. He was even able to spot a changeling once."

"Are you saying we should eliminate the little guy once he's shown us his rabbit hole?"

"I'm saying that if Jonesy doesn't trust him we should be ready to, Sir."

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:33am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Time had no meaning in the confines of the slave hold. The lights never got brighter or dimmer, the sound of crying in the background never seemed to stop.

"So were you able to follow him?" Jonesy asked as his two companions came back to the spot on the wall where they had left him. "He didn't come around here. But who knows? I've seen five people like him in here so far."

"I didn't see anything either," Bala replied.

"I had him," Pellax said, "but I lost the little bastard in the crowd. You'd think it'd be easy to follow him since he was the only other person moving around but he gave me the slip."

"We're going to have to be sharper next time. We may not get many more chances at this." Bala was starting to think that they would have to consider other options for escape.

"That is if we can even follow him into where ever he goes." Jonesy pointed out in annoyance. "He could be going into an air vent or something we can't fit into. If he was even telling the truth."

"How many air ducts have you noticed?" Bala asked his men.

"I can see them spaced every ten meters on the ceiling," Pellax offered. "I think it's the same around the base of the walls but those are only about thirty by ten centimeters."

"What about the small rock pile in the corner over there." Jonesy pointed off to their left. An old cave-in had left a pile of rubble slanting sharply up to the wall. "I didn't really think anything of it but look at the spacing of the floor vents."

"My God," Bala shook his head as he looked at what now seemed so obvious. "How did we ever get this far missing things like that?!"

"I wouldn't take it too hard, Commander," Jones replied, beaming at his observation. "We all still look like crap and I know I still feel like it. A doc would probably have us in bed for a week after a concussion like the one we had."

"I wish I had a week, Lieutenant," the Commander sighed. "And when I'm home I'll probably take one. That is, after all the paper work and debriefings. Now though, fried brain or not, lets concentrate on that rock slide."

After a cursory examination of the debris pile, the three agents sat down to start a more thorough look. They tried to be as nonchalant as they could in their search but still they had to stop many times to wait for the roving flyers to pass them by. It was a painfully slow and meticulous process and it seemed like hours before they finally made any headway.

It was the Trill that found the opening in the end. Near the base of the pile, against the wall, two stones could be easily moved without much notice from anyone surrounding. They opened to reveal a cramped tunnel that looked like it expand a little way in.

"Well," Pellax crowed, "My third host was a geologist so I kind of have a knack for this type of thing."

Soon all three of the men had squeezed through the tiny opening and out into the dusty shadows of the passage beyond. For the moment they were free.

The corridor before them stretched into the gloom until it was lost around a corner in the distance. Nothing of interest was uncovered by the dull blue-white light of the emergency panels running the length of the walls except a trail of foot prints in the thick dust covering the floor.

"Looks like we were right about our little friend after all." Bala stooped down to get a better look at the prints.

"I wonder why whoever runs this place never thought to look back here? They could be missing out on half of the building." Jonesy swept the layers of dust off a section of wall as he spoke. There was writing underneath and a symbol.

"Hay, look," he called softly, pointing to the faded red, bird-like insignia. "Wasn't this the symbol of those guerillas that couped the government we were reading about?"

"This must be one of their old bases," Bala theorized. "Probably in an asteroid. The slavers probably stumbled on it and don't even know that this part of the structure exists."

"Bad for them, good for us." It was the harsh whisper of the hooded alien.

The three companions spun around with lightening speed, all reaching for phasors that weren't there. The little creature was right behind them, as if he had stepped out of the shadows themselves. The blue light of the wall panels seemed to catch something in his eyes and they shone pale grey from the depths of the hood.

"I take it you don't think we're spies anymore?" Bala asked with a quick glance down the hall. The way they were going a battalion wouldn't have trouble sneaking up on them.

"I've been watching you," the creature replied. "Watching and listening, even as you were. You're not spies. Not for the slavers anyway. Though they probably know about this passage now I'd wager."

"Right," Jonesy cut in. "And so do we, so we don't need you. Go back to whatever hole you were in and we'll go our way."

"But I want to come with you!" The small grey man was indignant. "I've been waiting so long for someone like you to come along. So very long." The Starfleet officers exchanged looks.

"You have to take me!" The cloaked figure seemed to be melting into the rock floor. Two tiny, black gloved hands came together in a gesture of prayer. "I can help you! I know the tunnels! I know where the ships are! You can't leave without someone to pilot for you! You can't leave me here!"

The weights in Bala's aching mind turned for a second. "Alright. You're a pilot? You can come with us, but we're going to need to find more then just a ship."

"Your equipment?" Hope crept into the aliens voice. "Yes, yes! I've seen it. Very odd, just like you. The slavers care little for scanning equipment, though your strange weapons may be harder to get back. I'll see what I can do! You wait here."

"But..." Bala couldn't get a word in before the black figure had shifted back into shadow again.

"Just wait. I'll be back!" The disembodied voice was coming from everywhere.

"This mission just keeps getting better and better." Jonesy shook his head. "Let's get going. It can't be too hard to find the docking area in this place and I don't know about you but I'd like to be gone before that little guy gets back."

"He seems to be willing to please." Bala had never known Jones to act this way about a person. "I'd like to see what he manages to come back with."

The three looked at each other and then furtively down the passage. As one, each man reached into his mouth and flipped a micro trigger on the back of his moral, turning off his implanted Universal Translator. Now they could talk freely without worry of their odd friend taking them off guard again.

"It could be he comes back with a bunch of unfriendlys and turns this into a party." Pellax hadn't had to use English for quite a while and his accent showed it.

"We're going to have to risk it," Bala argued. "We need the data on those tricorders or the mission is going to be a total wash. Do either of you feel like going back to Section 31 with a report that says ‘I think they use this for a weapon' or ‘I think I remember their engines working like this but I know they sure looked pretty.' And if we get the phasors back too, all the better. I don't want to compromise the mission by allowing Federation technology to float around this galaxy even if it doesn't have a Federation logo on it."

"Commander," Jonesy replied. "The mission has already been completely compromised by the gear we left on the cruise ship. With any luck these pirates took the whole boat and will throw our stuff in the scrap pile, but we don't know that. As for losing the information, no problem. I took the memory crystal out of my tricorder and swallowed it before the fighting started." The lieutenant slapped his belly. "We'll at least have that."

"Jonesy! Your not as stupid as you look!" Pellax's raised spirit was quickly pulled back down by his commander.

"That's better then nothing but it's not good either. Especially if we can get it all back. And the fact of the matter is, Lieutenant, that we will most likely need a pilot and now we have one. Besides, I get the feeling this guy knows too much about us. If he stays where we can see him it'll make it all the easier to eliminate him when we're back in Federation space. Does that make you feel better?"

"We're not going to rendevous with the Shinobi?" Jones looked confusedly from one face to the other. "If it's about the subspace transmitter we lost, we can use the comlink on the ship we get. I'm pretty sure the technology is compatible."

"Son," the Trill explained. "There's no way we're going to find the Shinobi. The Republic probably has ships all over the area around the wormhole by now, just like we will. If Shinobi, or any other ship, is still in the area it'll be in cloak and won't be coming out for us. They probably went back through when Republic ships first started to arrive."

"Yeah," Bala agreed. "And now that our little holiday has gone to the dogs we have to find our own way back."

"Well that's just great!" Jones threw his hands in the air. "How are we going to get through then? They'll never allow a civilian ship near this end and Starfleet sure as hell won't let anything out the other!"

"I'll think of that when I'm starring at the wormhole."


The trio sat in silence for an eternity, each trying to plan the next best course of action, before the shuffling black robes of their new benefactor came back down the hall. His little arms were now piled full of gear.

"This should be everything that you need," the grey skinned creature began hopefully. "Everything except a ship that is."

He was right. Everything they needed was there, just not everything that they were hoping for. However he did it, the little fellow had managed to get back the two absentee tricorders but in place of their phasors he had brought three hand blasters more common to this galaxy. The phasors would have to be a right-off.

"As I told you," the creature seemed to answer their thoughts. "The scanners were not of interest to these beings but your weapons I found quite impossible to return. They were in pieces on a work bench."

"That's fine," Bala said while checking to make sure the data stored in his tricorder was still intact. "You've done alright so far. We'll take you with us. I'm Bala, this is Pellax and that's Jones. What's your name little man?"

The hooded grey snout regarded the trio for a second before answering. "I am called Gallus," he replied. His words seemed to hang in the air for a moment with the whirling dust and the pale light. "Darth Gallus" Again the veiled eyes shone eerily, catching each men in their light one at a time.

A chill ran down Bala's spin and he visibly shook before he could master himself. "Well Mr. Gallus, this is the deal I'm offering. You find us a ship in this place and fly it and we'll do the rest. Once we're free and clear you can drop us off on the nearest civilized planet and be on your way. You keep the ship. Agreed?" The last was rhetorical, nothing in the Commanders voice hinted at any negotiation.

"It would seem I have little choice in the matter." Gallus smiled and raised his hands in a mime of being bound.

"Good. Now lets get the hell out of here. Lead the way."

Gallus led them through one dead corridor after another. Twisting and turning amid massive cave-ins and magnetically sealed hatches. At odd times he would stop them and go silently ahead by himself only to come back and lead them away down another tunnel, other times he would close his eyes (they assumed) and seem to just listen, as if the walls were telling him which way was best. Eventually the four fugitives found themselves lying behind a wide vent screen overlooking a row of six beat-up freighters in a monstrous cavern.

"This is the repair bay," the black robed alien whispered. As if anyone could have heard them over the cacophony of noise and activity going on below. "This will be our best chance for getting a ship. No guards around here."

"How can you say that?" Jonesy challenged. "There has to be twenty people down there, plus androids! And each one of them has a weapon! We don't even know if any of these pieces of crap are spaceworthy."

"Not to worry Lieutenant Jones," Gallus answered calmly. "I've been watching this area. The second ship from the left has undergone only minor repairs and is in perfectly suitable condition by now. As for the people, that problem will be solved soon enough."

"Of course," Bala commented. "They're pirates. They're not going to have the most disciplined work ethic. All we need to do is wait of the supper bell to ring an this place'll clear out."

"Yeah, then all we have to worry about are robots setting off alarms and pesky ship security systems." Pellax seemed about as happy as Jonesy. "Have you ever heard of a light freighter captain who didn't booby-trap his ship?"

"Again, not to worry." Gallus seemed almost amused at their concern. "You forget how small a being I am. I'm easily missed, even to ‘pesky security systems'. When the time comes, I'll get in the ship and make it ready."

With that the four slipped back down the ventilation shaft to find the quickest, quietest way into the hanger.


The four escapees came out into the populated areas of the complex in a silent, dirty hallway. The only thing distinguishing it from the forgotten areas they had just been in was the brighter lighting. Even that was faltering in places. According to Gallus, they should have been two or three corridors away from the hanger. All they had to do now was wait for the dinner - or was it lunch - bell to ring and make their move.

It was the waiting that was going to be the hard part. The passage stretched twenty meters in either direction with no amount of cover what so ever. The group couldn't get more exposed but they had no choice. They had to wait.

It was Bala who heard it first; the steady crunching of heavy feet against loose pebbles. Someone was coming towards them. Someone was going to round the corner at any moment. The team bolted. Luckily they were running in the right direction. Not so luckily, their pursuers turned the far corner before they could turn theirs.

"Rock Apes!" Jonesy cried as he came last around the bend. A grating roar sounded behind them followed by heavily running feet. "I thought you said the guards never came this way!"

"They usually don't!" Gallus panted back, out of breath from the flight. "I don't know everything that goes on around here! That's why I brought you the guns!"

Pellax was two steps ahead of their little guide. With a quick check of his weapon's settings, the Trill wheeled his arm and head back around the corner and flooded the area with super-heated death.

"Looks like three of them," he said, pulling himself back into cover. "They're only carrying those pike weapons but our plasma blasts have to get through that chitinous outer layer before they do any real damage. I don't think I stopped any of them."

"Then what the hell are we standing here for?" Jonesy answered as he started off down the tunnel pulling his friends along with him.

By the time the guards had rounded the corner the three men were ready at the other end and let loose a volley of blaster fire that depleted each of their clips. The rock-like pursuers couldn't help but be swept off their feet by the onslaught, giving their prey enough time to reload and rush in for an efficient, close-range execution. Gallus stood behind and watched with amusement.

When all was calm again the group continued on it's way to the repair hanger in cautious single file. With all of the activity of the fire fight they had to make their move now and hope that the hanger had cleared out by the time they got there.

No such luck. Coming around the last corner the four were greeted by a little used access way that opened into the repair dock. Through this door they could all clearly see a diligent crew working late to finish their task.

"So how long do we plan on waiting for these..." Jonesy's question was cut off by the wail and flashing red lights of the stations alarm system. The pirate crew immediately stopped their repairs and drew their guns. If any of the slaves was trying to escape this would be one of the places they'd be looking for. It wouldn't be hard to pick the grubby bastards off from the ships high vantage. Especially considering the escaped slave wouldn't have a weapon.

"Looks like we don't wait at all." Bala aimed his blaster, initiating his fellows to do the same, and fired two rapid shots into his target. The Lieutenants faired no worse. For the pirates, standing on the top of their ship in the middle of the huge hanger suddenly became not so comfortable a place to be.

Chaos erupted as both sides filled the air with energy while diving for cover. Even after the initial attack, the fugitives were still outnumbered but they managed to find a way to get out of the line of fire while their enemies were still relatively in the open.

The three agents of Section 31 worked in perfect harmony. They were trained and hardened soldiers and had little worry about a group of two-bit thugs. Without a word of planning, Bala moved to the right while Jonesy went left. Each of their shots was carefully targeted to not only kill the enemy but to keep them from entering their ship as well as providing cover for the others movement. In the mean time, Pellax was ignoring the pirates all together. Instead, he attacked the droids and any security systems while trying to make his way safely to the ship they had agreed to steal.

The pirates were kept pinned down, ironically, behind the rotating cannon on their ships hull, the one thing that could be of most use to them at the moment. They were far from beat however. These men of varied species had survived countless battles and run-ins with forces of all kinds. They were ruthless and cunning killers. They waited until they had been completely flanked and, with their enemy split to both sides of them, they came up with guns blazing, charging from their ship in all directions. Two were taken down in the maneuver but their enemy found that they no longer had as much cover as they had thought.

Now Jones and Bala had their own battles to fight and Pellax didn't have the luxury of a distracted foe. Rolling behind the landing strut of a near by craft, the Trill fired wildly into a pair that was baring down on his Commander. This action was stopped by three shots that slammed home above his head sending him diving away in a frantic bid for new sanctuary.

Jonesy now found himself pinned down behind a wedge of crates with enemy volleys coming from both sides. With no hope of taking an aimed shot at one side without the other getting him in the back of the head, the Lieutenant could do nothing but stick his gun up and fire blindly. It was useless but he had no choice. The only good his position was to him now was the fact that it gave him a view of the pirate freighters main entrance. If anyone tried to get in he might have a chance at stopping them.

Bala was fairing only somewhat better. He had managed to kill one of the men that had jumped from the ship in his direction in mid air and another while the alien had been distracted by Jonesy's useless suppression fire. Then, after Pellax had helped him with another pair he hadn't seen, the Commander was left with only two, dug in between their ship and a corridor leading out of the hanger. When both of them bolted in different directions, Bala's instincts turned him to the one running for the exit. The man was dead before he took five steps.

Unfortunately this meant that the other had a clear charge for the open ramp of his vessel. Jonesy took a careful bead through the space between his crates and was about to squeeze the trigger when waves of pain pealed through his injured leg. Turning, he was greeted by the fist of a pirate who had come up behind him in the confusion.

With a man on board, the pirate crew gave a cheer and moved in for the kill. In moments their ship would be powered up and the weapons systems would take care of everything. It wasn't their ships turret that came to life to finish the battle, however, it was the cannon of the vessel to its right. Out of nowhere the unassuming ships weapons powered up with a vengeance, converting the turret of it's enemy, and the hapless man inside it, into a shower of dust and shrapnel.

The man towering over Jonesy was instantly killed by the flying metal fragments, as well as two others who had been moving to capture the Trill. The remaining pirates, there were now only two left, were vaporized where they stood a second later.

All was silent in the hanger as Bala and Pellax rushed to their friend to find him pulling himself up painfully. Seconds later they were hurrying toward an open ramp and the beckoning waves of their guide and savior.

"Quickly, quickly! We won't have much time! I told you they wouldn't notice me." Gallus was already closing the ramp before the men were aboard the flat, wing-shaped freighter.

"Just get us the hell out of here!" Bala barked as he all but collapsed to the floor. A flash of pain ignited across his face as a metal shard sticking out of his side caught on the wall and was torn free. A crimson lake was rapidly spreading around all three of the escapees.

Seconds after their savior had disappeared around a corner, the whine of the engines increased in pitch until it was accompanied by a bass rumble. Soon the sound of the ships cannons blazed to life again amid thunderous explosions. The curiosity of it forcing the men to their feet and onward to the cockpit.

"Injuries not quite so grievous I see," Gallus commented without turning his attention from the calmly orbiting asteroids ahead. He was looking for something among them. "It's your aggression that makes you strong."

"We'll manage." Pellax quipped. Jonesy merely grunted as he slumped into a seat at the cabins rear.

"Good. Good." the little pilot chuckled.

"Enough with the giggles, old man! Just keep your eyes on your course and get us out of here." Bala hovered behind the small alien's chair as Pellax took the one beside Jones. In another moment he was pointing frantically to one side. "Look! To port! To port! They're coming after us!"

"I saw them, Commander," the shrouded, grey being's voice was calm, with only a hint of anger. He never took his eyes from the starscape. "Now sit down , be quiet and let me deal with this."

Bala found himself strangely compelled to back away but his need to be in control left him firmly rooted in place. Soon he was in an excellent position to see flying like he had never imagined possible.

Four small, one man craft had risen up from behind the drifting rocks in front of them to block their path. One was a pod- almost A-like -shape, one was of a boxy design, and the remaining two consisted of a sphere held between two large, octagonal heat-sinks. All the ships looked like they had seen better days but were still as deadly as ever.

In the blink of an eye the quartet broke position and began their attack. A myriad of roars, hums, whines, and crackles filled the cockpit of the stolen freighter as they made their first pass and came around to pursue.

"What the hell...?" Jonesy's head instinctively ducked and followed the sound as the A-wing buzzed across the ships plasteel windscreen.

"Incredible," Pellax marveled at his side, eyes darting from one corner of the room to the next. "The computer must track each target and assign it a sound based on size or engine type or something. Then it uses that to give the pilot an idea of the relative position and velocity of each target around the ship. Very handy for this type of close-in dog fighting."

"It's relaying the plasma blasts as well," Jonesy returned, his analytical mind falling back to an investigation of the technology. "They must be measuring particle displacement, I think."

Another ‘particle displacement' due to high intensity plasma flashed passed then. Across their rear if their ears were to be trusted. Gallus put the freighter into an impossible twist and dive maneuver that careened by an asteroid, coming meters away from a crash.

In the blink of an eye the clumsy, wing-shaped, freighter was spinning like a gyroscope, coming to a stop with its guns leveled at the nearest of the two winged spheres. Gallus was firing before the targeting computer had a chance to beep it's approval. The shot went wide as the enemy craft pulled into a roll at the last second. He snarled and kicked the control board with one dangling foot before banking in pursuit.

Now the hunter had become the prey. The enemy fighter bobbed and wove it's way around the meandering rock formations, trying to stay out of harms way while at the same time leading the freighter into the waiting hands of it's companions. Gallus wasn't falling for it.

For all the Tie-fighter's expert deception the little pilot somehow saw right through it. In one moment he was following along like a dutiful patsy and in the next he had veered off around another asteroid to come charging in behind the box fighter, guns blazing. The small vessel was consumed in a matter of seconds by the ravenous energy of it's explosion. Rapidly cooling vapor was all that was left to eddy around the stolen freighter as it rushed passed.

The pirates were not finished yet, however. With blinding speed the A-wing strafed past, seemingly out of nowhere, landing a series of scaring blows across the freighter's dorsal shields. The rickety ship shook with each contact before the swift fighter had disappeared again into the islands of rock. Gallus turned to pursue, following further and further into the asteroid field.

"Why are you following?" Bala gripped his wounded side and leaned on the pilots chair as he watched his fate unfold. "For the last time, just get us out of here!"

"Patience Commander," the hooded figure said. He spoke with the distracted quality one uses when speaking to a child while trying to read or work. "If we leave the field now we will be open targets for the fighters while the navicomputer plots a safe course. We shall be on our way in due time."

As the freighter sped on, Bala looked back at his lieutenants and then down to the pistol at his side. Both of their nods were almost imperceptible. So was the slight smile and glimmer that played across the snout and eyes of Darth Gallus.

Seconds before the ships computer could beep a warning the uncanny pilot pulled up and turned into an impossible spin that brought them nose to nose with the truant A-wing. The unsuspecting fighter banked hard to avoid the collision and sent itself careening into a frozen wall and an icy grave. Gallus had come to an all-stop that had nearly turned the inertial dampers into modern art and watched the crash of his enemy while his passengers picked themselves up from the cabin floor. Two down, two to go.

Those last two now came in hard and fast. With the freighter sitting idle, the pair of Ties had split and come in from opposite sides. A classic maneuver. A clamp of green plasma pounded in on both sides of the floating ship, but only for a second. In the next instant the freighter was on the move again and the Ties were whipping past each other and turning hard to follow.

Now it was the freighter who was forced to bob and weave in an effort to evade destruction. Tie-fighters are a lot faster then a beat-up old cargo hauler, however, and they were gaining quickly on their prey. What they had forgotten was the fact that their prey could fire backwards.

Both fighters dodged nimbly as the first wave of retaliation broke past them. One rising up and matching speed with it's enemy, the other staying at the rear to nip at it's heels. The freighter turned and spun but nothing would shake the two from their course. This kill would be all the sweeter for the trouble it had caused.

The rear Tie fired again into it's enemy. That freighter couldn't take much more punishment now. One more good hit should do it. The fighter pilot tightened his concentration as the fleeing ship ducked smoothly under an on-coming rock formation and the Tie above mimicked perfectly. It came as a complete surprise when the pilot watched his partner inexplicably change course sharply and hammer straight into that very rock. It was almost as if a colossal hand had pushed it.

In that moment of confusion Gallus struck again. The ships cannons poured out their destruction and the remaining fighter was transformed into a rapidly expanding cloud. Without a second thought the freighter was pushing out of the asteroid field and making the jump to hyperspace and safety.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:44am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:34am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Time had no meaning in the confines of the slave hold. The lights never got brighter or dimmer, the sound of crying in the background never seemed to stop.

"So were you able to follow him?" Jonesy asked as his two companions came back to the spot on the wall where they had left him. "He didn't come around here. But who knows? I've seen five people like him in here so far."

"I didn't see anything either," Bala replied.

"I had him," Pellax said, "but I lost the little bastard in the crowd. You'd think it'd be easy to follow him since he was the only other person moving around but he gave me the slip."

"We're going to have to be sharper next time. We may not get many more chances at this." Bala was starting to think that they would have to consider other options for escape.

"That is if we can even follow him into where ever he goes." Jonesy pointed out in annoyance. "He could be going into an air vent or something we can't fit into. If he was even telling the truth."

"How many air ducts have you noticed?" Bala asked his men.

"I can see them spaced every ten meters on the ceiling," Pellax offered. "I think it's the same around the base of the walls but those are only about thirty by ten centimeters."

"What about the small rock pile in the corner over there." Jonesy pointed off to their left. An old cave-in had left a pile of rubble slanting sharply up to the wall. "I didn't really think anything of it but look at the spacing of the floor vents."

"My God," Bala shook his head as he looked at what now seemed so obvious. "How did we ever get this far missing things like that?!"

"I wouldn't take it too hard, Commander," Jones replied, beaming at his observation. "We all still look like crap and I know I still feel like it. A doc would probably have us in bed for a week after a concussion like the one we had."

"I wish I had a week, Lieutenant," the Commander sighed. "And when I'm home I'll probably take one. That is, after all the paper work and debriefings. Now though, fried brain or not, lets concentrate on that rock slide."

After a cursory examination of the debris pile, the three agents sat down to start a more thorough look. They tried to be as nonchalant as they could in their search but still they had to stop many times to wait for the roving flyers to pass them by. It was a painfully slow and meticulous process and it seemed like hours before they finally made any headway.

It was the Trill that found the opening in the end. Near the base of the pile, against the wall, two stones could be easily moved without much notice from anyone surrounding. They opened to reveal a cramped tunnel that looked like it expand a little way in.

"Well," Pellax crowed, "My third host was a geologist so I kind of have a knack for this type of thing."

Soon all three of the men had squeezed through the tiny opening and out into the dusty shadows of the passage beyond. For the moment they were free.

The corridor before them stretched into the gloom until it was lost around a corner in the distance. Nothing of interest was uncovered by the dull blue-white light of the emergency panels running the length of the walls except a trail of foot prints in the thick dust covering the floor.

"Looks like we were right about our little friend after all." Bala stooped down to get a better look at the prints.

"I wonder why whoever runs this place never thought to look back here? They could be missing out on half of the building." Jonesy swept the layers of dust off a section of wall as he spoke. There was writing underneath and a symbol.

"Hay, look," he called softly, pointing to the faded red, bird-like insignia. "Wasn't this the symbol of those guerillas that couped the government we were reading about?"

"This must be one of their old bases," Bala theorized. "Probably in an asteroid. The slavers probably stumbled on it and don't even know that this part of the structure exists."

"Bad for them, good for us." It was the harsh whisper of the hooded alien.

The three companions spun around with lightening speed, all reaching for phasors that weren't there. The little creature was right behind them, as if he had stepped out of the shadows themselves. The blue light of the wall panels seemed to catch something in his eyes and they shone pale grey from the depths of the hood.

"I take it you don't think we're spies anymore?" Bala asked with a quick glance down the hall. The way they were going a battalion wouldn't have trouble sneaking up on them.

"I've been watching you," the creature replied. "Watching and listening, even as you were. You're not spies. Not for the slavers anyway. Though they probably know about this passage now I'd wager."

"Right," Jonesy cut in. "And so do we, so we don't need you. Go back to whatever hole you were in and we'll go our way."

"But I want to come with you!" The small grey man was indignant. "I've been waiting so long for someone like you to come along. So very long." The Starfleet officers exchanged looks.

"You have to take me!" The cloaked figure seemed to be melting into the rock floor. Two tiny, black gloved hands came together in a gesture of prayer. "I can help you! I know the tunnels! I know where the ships are! You can't leave without someone to pilot for you! You can't leave me here!"

The weights in Bala's aching mind turned for a second. "Alright. You're a pilot? You can come with us, but we're going to need to find more then just a ship."

"Your equipment?" Hope crept into the aliens voice. "Yes, yes! I've seen it. Very odd, just like you. The slavers care little for scanning equipment, though your strange weapons may be harder to get back. I'll see what I can do! You wait here."

"But..." Bala couldn't get a word in before the black figure had shifted back into shadow again.

"Just wait. I'll be back!" The disembodied voice was coming from everywhere.

"This mission just keeps getting better and better." Jonesy shook his head. "Let's get going. It can't be too hard to find the docking area in this place and I don't know about you but I'd like to be gone before that little guy gets back."

"He seems to be willing to please." Bala had never known Jones to act this way about a person. "I'd like to see what he manages to come back with."

The three looked at each other and then furtively down the passage. As one, each man reached into his mouth and flipped a micro trigger on the back of his moral, turning off his implanted Universal Translator. Now they could talk freely without worry of their odd friend taking them off guard again.

"It could be he comes back with a bunch of unfriendlys and turns this into a party." Pellax hadn't had to use English for quite a while and his accent showed it.

"We're going to have to risk it," Bala argued. "We need the data on those tricorders or the mission is going to be a total wash. Do either of you feel like going back to Section 31 with a report that says ‘I think they use this for a weapon' or ‘I think I remember their engines working like this but I know they sure looked pretty.' And if we get the phasors back too, all the better. I don't want to compromise the mission by allowing Federation technology to float around this galaxy even if it doesn't have a Federation logo on it."

"Commander," Jonesy replied. "The mission has already been completely compromised by the gear we left on the cruise ship. With any luck these pirates took the whole boat and will throw our stuff in the scrap pile, but we don't know that. As for losing the information, no problem. I took the memory crystal out of my tricorder and swallowed it before the fighting started." The lieutenant slapped his belly. "We'll at least have that."

"Jonesy! Your not as stupid as you look!" Pellax's raised spirit was quickly pulled back down by his commander.

"That's better then nothing but it's not good either. Especially if we can get it all back. And the fact of the matter is, Lieutenant, that we will most likely need a pilot and now we have one. Besides, I get the feeling this guy knows too much about us. If he stays where we can see him it'll make it all the easier to eliminate him when we're back in Federation space. Does that make you feel better?"

"We're not going to rendevous with the Shinobi?" Jones looked confusedly from one face to the other. "If it's about the subspace transmitter we lost, we can use the comlink on the ship we get. I'm pretty sure the technology is compatible."

"Son," the Trill explained. "There's no way we're going to find the Shinobi. The Republic probably has ships all over the area around the wormhole by now, just like we will. If Shinobi, or any other ship, is still in the area it'll be in cloak and won't be coming out for us. They probably went back through when Republic ships first started to arrive."

"Yeah," Bala agreed. "And now that our little holiday has gone to the dogs we have to find our own way back."

"Well that's just great!" Jones threw his hands in the air. "How are we going to get through then? They'll never allow a civilian ship near this end and Starfleet sure as hell won't let anything out the other!"

"I'll think of that when I'm starring at the wormhole."


The trio sat in silence for an eternity, each trying to plan the next best course of action, before the shuffling black robes of their new benefactor came back down the hall. His little arms were now piled full of gear.

"This should be everything that you need," the grey skinned creature began hopefully. "Everything except a ship that is."

He was right. Everything they needed was there, just not everything that they were hoping for. However he did it, the little fellow had managed to get back the two absentee tricorders but in place of their phasors he had brought three hand blasters more common to this galaxy. The phasors would have to be a right-off.

"As I told you," the creature seemed to answer their thoughts. "The scanners were not of interest to these beings but your weapons I found quite impossible to return. They were in pieces on a work bench."

"That's fine," Bala said while checking to make sure the data stored in his tricorder was still intact. "You've done alright so far. We'll take you with us. I'm Bala, this is Pellax and that's Jones. What's your name little man?"

The hooded grey snout regarded the trio for a second before answering. "I am called Gallus," he replied. His words seemed to hang in the air for a moment with the whirling dust and the pale light. "Darth Gallus" Again the veiled eyes shone eerily, catching each men in their light one at a time.

A chill ran down Bala's spin and he visibly shook before he could master himself. "Well Mr. Gallus, this is the deal I'm offering. You find us a ship in this place and fly it and we'll do the rest. Once we're free and clear you can drop us off on the nearest civilized planet and be on your way. You keep the ship. Agreed?" The last was rhetorical, nothing in the Commanders voice hinted at any negotiation.

"It would seem I have little choice in the matter." Gallus smiled and raised his hands in a mime of being bound.

"Good. Now lets get the hell out of here. Lead the way."

Gallus led them through one dead corridor after another. Twisting and turning amid massive cave-ins and magnetically sealed hatches. At odd times he would stop them and go silently ahead by himself only to come back and lead them away down another tunnel, other times he would close his eyes (they assumed) and seem to just listen, as if the walls were telling him which way was best. Eventually the four fugitives found themselves lying behind a wide vent screen overlooking a row of six beat-up freighters in a monstrous cavern.

"This is the repair bay," the black robed alien whispered. As if anyone could have heard them over the cacophony of noise and activity going on below. "This will be our best chance for getting a ship. No guards around here."

"How can you say that?" Jonesy challenged. "There has to be twenty people down there, plus androids! And each one of them has a weapon! We don't even know if any of these pieces of crap are spaceworthy."

"Not to worry Lieutenant Jones," Gallus answered calmly. "I've been watching this area. The second ship from the left has undergone only minor repairs and is in perfectly suitable condition by now. As for the people, that problem will be solved soon enough."

"Of course," Bala commented. "They're pirates. They're not going to have the most disciplined work ethic. All we need to do is wait of the supper bell to ring an this place'll clear out."

"Yeah, then all we have to worry about are robots setting off alarms and pesky ship security systems." Pellax seemed about as happy as Jonesy. "Have you ever heard of a light freighter captain who didn't booby-trap his ship?"

"Again, not to worry." Gallus seemed almost amused at their concern. "You forget how small a being I am. I'm easily missed, even to ‘pesky security systems'. When the time comes, I'll get in the ship and make it ready."

With that the four slipped back down the ventilation shaft to find the quickest, quietest way into the hanger.


The four escapees came out into the populated areas of the complex in a silent, dirty hallway. The only thing distinguishing it from the forgotten areas they had just been in was the brighter lighting. Even that was faltering in places. According to Gallus, they should have been two or three corridors away from the hanger. All they had to do now was wait for the dinner - or was it lunch - bell to ring and make their move.

It was the waiting that was going to be the hard part. The passage stretched twenty meters in either direction with no amount of cover what so ever. The group couldn't get more exposed but they had no choice. They had to wait.

It was Bala who heard it first; the steady crunching of heavy feet against loose pebbles. Someone was coming towards them. Someone was going to round the corner at any moment. The team bolted. Luckily they were running in the right direction. Not so luckily, their pursuers turned the far corner before they could turn theirs.

"Rock Apes!" Jonesy cried as he came last around the bend. A grating roar sounded behind them followed by heavily running feet. "I thought you said the guards never came this way!"

"They usually don't!" Gallus panted back, out of breath from the flight. "I don't know everything that goes on around here! That's why I brought you the guns!"

Pellax was two steps ahead of their little guide. With a quick check of his weapon's settings, the Trill wheeled his arm and head back around the corner and flooded the area with super-heated death.

"Looks like three of them," he said, pulling himself back into cover. "They're only carrying those pike weapons but our plasma blasts have to get through that chitinous outer layer before they do any real damage. I don't think I stopped any of them."

"Then what the hell are we standing here for?" Jonesy answered as he started off down the tunnel pulling his friends along with him.

By the time the guards had rounded the corner the three men were ready at the other end and let loose a volley of blaster fire that depleted each of their clips. The rock-like pursuers couldn't help but be swept off their feet by the onslaught, giving their prey enough time to reload and rush in for an efficient, close-range execution. Gallus stood behind and watched with amusement.

When all was calm again the group continued on it's way to the repair hanger in cautious single file. With all of the activity of the fire fight they had to make their move now and hope that the hanger had cleared out by the time they got there.

No such luck. Coming around the last corner the four were greeted by a little used access way that opened into the repair dock. Through this door they could all clearly see a diligent crew working late to finish their task.

"So how long do we plan on waiting for these..." Jonesy's question was cut off by the wail and flashing red lights of the stations alarm system. The pirate crew immediately stopped their repairs and drew their guns. If any of the slaves was trying to escape this would be one of the places they'd be looking for. It wouldn't be hard to pick the grubby bastards off from the ships high vantage. Especially considering the escaped slave wouldn't have a weapon.

"Looks like we don't wait at all." Bala aimed his blaster, initiating his fellows to do the same, and fired two rapid shots into his target. The Lieutenants faired no worse. For the pirates, standing on the top of their ship in the middle of the huge hanger suddenly became not so comfortable a place to be.

Chaos erupted as both sides filled the air with energy while diving for cover. Even after the initial attack, the fugitives were still outnumbered but they managed to find a way to get out of the line of fire while their enemies were still relatively in the open.

The three agents of Section 31 worked in perfect harmony. They were trained and hardened soldiers and had little worry about a group of two-bit thugs. Without a word of planning, Bala moved to the right while Jonesy went left. Each of their shots was carefully targeted to not only kill the enemy but to keep them from entering their ship as well as providing cover for the others movement. In the mean time, Pellax was ignoring the pirates all together. Instead, he attacked the droids and any security systems while trying to make his way safely to the ship they had agreed to steal.

The pirates were kept pinned down, ironically, behind the rotating cannon on their ships hull, the one thing that could be of most use to them at the moment. They were far from beat however. These men of varied species had survived countless battles and run-ins with forces of all kinds. They were ruthless and cunning killers. They waited until they had been completely flanked and, with their enemy split to both sides of them, they came up with guns blazing, charging from their ship in all directions. Two were taken down in the maneuver but their enemy found that they no longer had as much cover as they had thought.

Now Jones and Bala had their own battles to fight and Pellax didn't have the luxury of a distracted foe. Rolling behind the landing strut of a near by craft, the Trill fired wildly into a pair that was baring down on his Commander. This action was stopped by three shots that slammed home above his head sending him diving away in a frantic bid for new sanctuary.

Jonesy now found himself pinned down behind a wedge of crates with enemy volleys coming from both sides. With no hope of taking an aimed shot at one side without the other getting him in the back of the head, the Lieutenant could do nothing but stick his gun up and fire blindly. It was useless but he had no choice. The only good his position was to him now was the fact that it gave him a view of the pirate freighters main entrance. If anyone tried to get in he might have a chance at stopping them.

Bala was fairing only somewhat better. He had managed to kill one of the men that had jumped from the ship in his direction in mid air and another while the alien had been distracted by Jonesy's useless suppression fire. Then, after Pellax had helped him with another pair he hadn't seen, the Commander was left with only two, dug in between their ship and a corridor leading out of the hanger. When both of them bolted in different directions, Bala's instincts turned him to the one running for the exit. The man was dead before he took five steps.

Unfortunately this meant that the other had a clear charge for the open ramp of his vessel. Jonesy took a careful bead through the space between his crates and was about to squeeze the trigger when waves of pain pealed through his injured leg. Turning, he was greeted by the fist of a pirate who had come up behind him in the confusion.

With a man on board, the pirate crew gave a cheer and moved in for the kill. In moments their ship would be powered up and the weapons systems would take care of everything. It wasn't their ships turret that came to life to finish the battle, however, it was the cannon of the vessel to its right. Out of nowhere the unassuming ships weapons powered up with a vengeance, converting the turret of it's enemy, and the hapless man inside it, into a shower of dust and shrapnel.

The man towering over Jonesy was instantly killed by the flying metal fragments, as well as two others who had been moving to capture the Trill. The remaining pirates, there were now only two left, were vaporized where they stood a second later.

All was silent in the hanger as Bala and Pellax rushed to their friend to find him pulling himself up painfully. Seconds later they were hurrying toward an open ramp and the beckoning waves of their guide and savior.

"Quickly, quickly! We won't have much time! I told you they wouldn't notice me." Gallus was already closing the ramp before the men were aboard the flat, wing-shaped freighter.

"Just get us the hell out of here!" Bala barked as he all but collapsed to the floor. A flash of pain ignited across his face as a metal shard sticking out of his side caught on the wall and was torn free. A crimson lake was rapidly spreading around all three of the escapees.

Seconds after their savior had disappeared around a corner, the whine of the engines increased in pitch until it was accompanied by a bass rumble. Soon the sound of the ships cannons blazed to life again amid thunderous explosions. The curiosity of it forcing the men to their feet and onward to the cockpit.

"Injuries not quite so grievous I see," Gallus commented without turning his attention from the calmly orbiting asteroids ahead. He was looking for something among them. "It's your aggression that makes you strong."

"We'll manage." Pellax quipped. Jonesy merely grunted as he slumped into a seat at the cabins rear.

"Good. Good." the little pilot chuckled.

"Enough with the giggles, old man! Just keep your eyes on your course and get us out of here." Bala hovered behind the small alien's chair as Pellax took the one beside Jones. In another moment he was pointing frantically to one side. "Look! To port! To port! They're coming after us!"

"I saw them, Commander," the shrouded, grey being's voice was calm, with only a hint of anger. He never took his eyes from the starscape. "Now sit down , be quiet and let me deal with this."

Bala found himself strangely compelled to back away but his need to be in control left him firmly rooted in place. Soon he was in an excellent position to see flying like he had never imagined possible.

Four small, one man craft had risen up from behind the drifting rocks in front of them to block their path. One was a pod- almost A-like -shape, one was of a boxy design, and the remaining two consisted of a sphere held between two large, octagonal heat-sinks. All the ships looked like they had seen better days but were still as deadly as ever.

In the blink of an eye the quartet broke position and began their attack. A myriad of roars, hums, whines, and crackles filled the cockpit of the stolen freighter as they made their first pass and came around to pursue.

"What the hell...?" Jonesy's head instinctively ducked and followed the sound as the A-wing buzzed across the ships plasteel windscreen.

"Incredible," Pellax marveled at his side, eyes darting from one corner of the room to the next. "The computer must track each target and assign it a sound based on size or engine type or something. Then it uses that to give the pilot an idea of the relative position and velocity of each target around the ship. Very handy for this type of close-in dog fighting."

"It's relaying the plasma blasts as well," Jonesy returned, his analytical mind falling back to an investigation of the technology. "They must be measuring particle displacement, I think."

Another ‘particle displacement' due to high intensity plasma flashed passed then. Across their rear if their ears were to be trusted. Gallus put the freighter into an impossible twist and dive maneuver that careened by an asteroid, coming meters away from a crash.

In the blink of an eye the clumsy, wing-shaped, freighter was spinning like a gyroscope, coming to a stop with its guns leveled at the nearest of the two winged spheres. Gallus was firing before the targeting computer had a chance to beep it's approval. The shot went wide as the enemy craft pulled into a roll at the last second. He snarled and kicked the control board with one dangling foot before banking in pursuit.

Now the hunter had become the prey. The enemy fighter bobbed and wove it's way around the meandering rock formations, trying to stay out of harms way while at the same time leading the freighter into the waiting hands of it's companions. Gallus wasn't falling for it.

For all the Tie-fighter's expert deception the little pilot somehow saw right through it. In one moment he was following along like a dutiful patsy and in the next he had veered off around another asteroid to come charging in behind the box fighter, guns blazing. The small vessel was consumed in a matter of seconds by the ravenous energy of it's explosion. Rapidly cooling vapor was all that was left to eddy around the stolen freighter as it rushed passed.

The pirates were not finished yet, however. With blinding speed the A-wing strafed past, seemingly out of nowhere, landing a series of scaring blows across the freighter's dorsal shields. The rickety ship shook with each contact before the swift fighter had disappeared again into the islands of rock. Gallus turned to pursue, following further and further into the asteroid field.

"Why are you following?" Bala gripped his wounded side and leaned on the pilots chair as he watched his fate unfold. "For the last time, just get us out of here!"

"Patience Commander," the hooded figure said. He spoke with the distracted quality one uses when speaking to a child while trying to read or work. "If we leave the field now we will be open targets for the fighters while the navicomputer plots a safe course. We shall be on our way in due time."

As the freighter sped on, Bala looked back at his lieutenants and then down to the pistol at his side. Both of their nods were almost imperceptible. So was the slight smile and glimmer that played across the snout and eyes of Darth Gallus.

Seconds before the ships computer could beep a warning the uncanny pilot pulled up and turned into an impossible spin that brought them nose to nose with the truant A-wing. The unsuspecting fighter banked hard to avoid the collision and sent itself careening into a frozen wall and an icy grave. Gallus had come to an all-stop that had nearly turned the inertial dampers into modern art and watched the crash of his enemy while his passengers picked themselves up from the cabin floor. Two down, two to go.

Those last two now came in hard and fast. With the freighter sitting idle, the pair of Ties had split and come in from opposite sides. A classic maneuver. A clamp of green plasma pounded in on both sides of the floating ship, but only for a second. In the next instant the freighter was on the move again and the Ties were whipping past each other and turning hard to follow.

Now it was the freighter who was forced to bob and weave in an effort to evade destruction. Tie-fighters are a lot faster then a beat-up old cargo hauler, however, and they were gaining quickly on their prey. What they had forgotten was the fact that their prey could fire backwards.

Both fighters dodged nimbly as the first wave of retaliation broke past them. One rising up and matching speed with it's enemy, the other staying at the rear to nip at it's heels. The freighter turned and spun but nothing would shake the two from their course. This kill would be all the sweeter for the trouble it had caused.

The rear Tie fired again into it's enemy. That freighter couldn't take much more punishment now. One more good hit should do it. The fighter pilot tightened his concentration as the fleeing ship ducked smoothly under an on-coming rock formation and the Tie above mimicked perfectly. It came as a complete surprise when the pilot watched his partner inexplicably change course sharply and hammer straight into that very rock. It was almost as if a colossal hand had pushed it.

In that moment of confusion Gallus struck again. The ships cannons poured out their destruction and the remaining fighter was transformed into a rapidly expanding cloud. Without a second thought the freighter was pushing out of the asteroid field and making the jump to hyperspace and safety.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:38am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"Now gentlemen," Gallus said, not turning around, as the starscape stretched into a mottled, spinning backdrop. Somewhere during the fight he had lost all aspect of humility and gratitude. "You have asked to be taken to a safe port where you can find transport to your home. I'll do better. I'll take you back to your own galaxy and your own world myself. Right now our course is taking us to a ship that will be a little better suited for our purposes."

All three Federation jaws hit the floor at once. With lightning reflexes Bala drew his weapon and took a step back. It seemed Lieutenant Jones had been right.

"Sorry Darth," the Commander intoned coldly as his blaster aimed for the smaller man's back, "that won't be necessary. I think we can take it from here. Thanks for the help though."

With great care the human squeezed the trigger of the alien weapon. He couldn't be sure where exactly Gallus's vital spots were but he had plenty of energy left in the cell.

Click. There was no discharge!

Bala looked from his victim's back, to his gun, to his companions and back again. Click, click. He took a half step forward as he tried again and stopped short at the amused voice coming from beneath the black hood.

"Something wrong with your weapon, Commander?" Gallus laughed as he spun his chair around for the first time.

The hooded pilot reached out as if to grasp the ineffective blaster, it leapt to his hand like a puppy into the arms of a waiting child. In the same instant Bala's already damaged frame flew back to slam into the unforgiving bulkhead. He hung there, as if he was lying on the floor and the rest of them were on the walls. Gallus righted the gun in his small hand and pulled back on the trigger. Red energy scared the door frame centimeters from Bala's head.

"What a pity," the shadows under the flowing, black cloak seemed to grow. "It seems to be working now."

Fear and rage bubbled over in Jonesy and he jumped to his feet ready to turn the little grey bastard into a smoldering pile of ash and bone. Somehow, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get the trigger to move. Not one hair.

"Sit down Lieutenant Jones," It was a tone of annoyance more then anything else. Jonesy didn't move to sit, or do anything for that matter, but stood poised instead, blaster aimed squarely at Gallus' head.

"I said, Sit... Down... Lieutenant." This time Darth Gallus looked straight into the human's eyes. Jonesy found himself sitting, there was no way he could resist.

A slight smile returned to the snout protruding from that bottomless hood. "Good. Now is this anyway to treat the person who just saved your lives? Why Lieutenant Pellax here is the only one of you with manners."

Not a muscle on Pellax's face twitched, not an eyelash batted as he slowly tapped out the disarming sequence on his finger tips. Perhaps suicide could wait. He might just make it to his next life yet.


Mai-Men continued the unending vigil to protect the last remnants of her true self. To look at her, even her own parents would not recognize her now, she knew. Both her arms and legs had been replaced with cold, functional cybernetics along with much of her torso. Her face had been altered as well. Her ears were now gone and replaced, her left eye had been 'upgraded' and much of her lower jaw was now enhanced with implants. She could hardly recognize herself.

But she knew it was her body she saw. The Force showed her and she trusted. Not only that but she was picking the image up from the drones that had business around her. She had watched the whole transformation as it had happened. Had felt the flow of the Force becoming smaller and smaller within her and then grow again. But not in the same way this time. She could feel the energy of the Force flowing through what now served as her hand but not the same as it used to. This was more like how she felt when she concentrated on its flow through rocks or steel. It wasn't really her.

Upgrade now completed on nonfunctional drone 1 of 1.
1 of 1, it is useless to resist. You will be assimilated. Your biological and cultural distinctiveness will be added to our own. Surrender immediately.

Then, through the monotony of the Borg mantra, through the din of the collective, a voice emerged. Different. Singular.

"Mai-Men? Where are you? Why are you hiding?" The tones were female and they spoke in Republic Standard. Warm and motherly yet seductive at the same time. Something was searching her mind as it cooed revoltingly.

"Come out, Mai. You are very strong but you must be tired by now." She was tired. In fact, she was nearly at her emotional end. There wasn't a time in her memory that didn't contain droning words or mental attacks, as far as she new.

"So very tired," the motherly viper sympathized. "You can't hide forever. Even as we speak I'm finding ways in through your defenses."

What?! She must be lying! Mai-Men poured mentally over her barriers and fire-walls. Some WERE failing!

"Force don't leave me!" The girl cried within her mind. Her concentration began shifting rapidly, trying to monitor all fronts at once.

"There you are child," the presence was closer now. "I'd like to talk to you about this Force. It's of great interest to me. You want to please me don't you?"

"NO!" Mai-Men began to scream but caught herself and tried to regain control. "No." She said again, as firmly as her quivering voice could muster.

"That's right child. Your hostility is as useless as your defenses." They were probing her mental barriers again. Stronger this time. And she was so tired. It was getting hard to even feel the Force any more. How could she hope to resist forever.

"Let me talk to you Mai-Men," the voice continued. "You will submit eventually."

"No..." It was right behind her now. She could feel it.

"Resistance is futile..." The voice had become cold and much less feminine.

"No..."

"You will be assimilated..." It was now no longer a singular voice, but a chorus of millions filling her head.

"NO..." Mai's calm was leaving her completely. How could she survive without control?

"Your biological and technological distinctiveness will..."

"NOOO!!!"

Mai-Men's psyche panted as she tried to center herself. She almost hadn't noticed it. The silence. The droning had stopped! This alone made her want to release herself to sweet unconscious but she knew it wouldn't last. They would come back! Yes! The voices would always be back, never stopping their chant! Never! Unless she got to them first. She knew she had the power now. Why she had never thought to go on the offensive before never entered her mind.

She had a course of action before her, something more then just holding off her attackers, and this energized her. It was time to expand to new ground, take new territory. They were going to know what it was like to be invaded, mentally raped!

In the nondescript Borg laboratory aboard a nondescript Borg cube, a slight scowl pulled at the mouth of a comatose drone that had once been human. All other activity in the area had ceased. All other drones lay prostrate on the floor.

Malfunction at section 12, sub-section 35.2. Drones 1 through 8 of 8 are no longer responding to Collective command.
Malfunction at section 12, sub-sections 35.1 and 35.3...


Four days had passed after Picard's return before any word was again heard from the wormhole. In that time the Enterprise was joined by a small fleet of vessels, most Federation, some not. It seemed as though word could travel at warp speed, for nearly every power in the quadrant had brought a ship with their most prized ambassador to make an appearance. Starfleet didn't mind, the more ships on their side, the more insurance they had against any more monster ship attacks.

The Ferengi had arrived, of course, hoping to begin trade immediately with the new power. The Klingons had soon followed on Starfleet's request, there to introduce themselves as one of the major powers of the area. A chance to rattle their Bat'Leths and intimidate any potential invaders. And, inevitably, no one could stop a trio of Romulan ships from decloaking and demanding their fair place. This was all besides the myriad of Federation vessels, from Vulcan to Felinoid. In the span of the four days, the whole region had turned into quite the circus. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of this now fabled alien vessel.

Then, near the end of the fourth day, word came. Like a flash of light in a room full of cockroaches, the message sent everyone scrambling to get ready. The delegation from the Galactic Republic was arriving in approximately three hours. The time had been delivered in seconds, of coarse, because of their logically standard length. A diplomatic ship was quickly chosen as neutral ground for the introductions, a Federation ship called the Plato, and the various factions beamed aboard group by group. The title of this new organization from the other side was lost on no one.


Luke Skywalker, the oldest, wisest and most venerable of all living Jedi, sat quietly meditating on the Lambda class shuttle as his shiny blue interpreter piloted them out of the landing bay of their Corellian Corvette escort. The hood of the Jedi master's black robe concealed his aged face in shadows as he looked back over the years and took stock of his life.

The wide-eyed, whining farm boy that had blasted his way out of the desert with two pirates, two wanted droids and an old hermit all those years ago was long gone. So too was the young, idealistic rebel commander. He had seen many things. Done many things. Things a lot of people in the Republic now thought of only as legend and Alliance propaganda.

He had helped defeat the Empire and had brought his father back from the Dark Side, though he was the only one to appreciate this. He had founded an academy to repopulate the Republic with those who had kept peace and justice for thousands of years. He, himself, had trained hundreds of the Jedi that still patrolled the galaxy. Many of which could be placed among the greatest of the order.

There was bitterness in these victories though; More than once in his life had the Dark Side called to him as it had his father. The academy that was to be the Jedi's glory was now all but abandoned, too many students, not enough teachers. Apprentices were now mostly sought out by individual knights who looked after their training until they were deemed ready. The Jedi counsel of the past, which The Force had shown him, had never yet been restored. Even his oldest, most experienced pupils were not powerful enough to take those places. Perhaps in the future they would have the numbers and experience to change this. Worst of all, many of his young Jedi continually skirted the edges of the Dark Side. Even some of the older ones did not have the control or discipline of the Jedi from the Old Republic. As a result, many were seduced, becoming Sith, and had to be confronted.

Yes, the Sith had returned, even years after their extinction with the death of the emperor. But not in the same form. They no longer restricted themselves to only two. Those were the ways of the past. More importantly, none of them were yet powerful enough to destroy all the others. He had personally had to deal with many of these rogues. It was always painful having to destroy someone you knew and had once loved.

People said he was one of the greatest men in the galaxy, all he could say was that he had tried. No, wait, there was no try, was there Master Yoda.

"We will be docking in a few moments, Sir," T-2C5 informed Luke.

"Yes, I know that," was the only reply.


The room in which the initial meeting was to take place was beautifully appointed, intentionally neutral in every way, and filled to bursting with groups from a dozen different races all dressed to impress. They had all watched through the rooms large bay windows as the strange alien craft popped through the wormhole and held position, ejecting a small shuttle. By now everyone was fairly certain the visitors did not possess transporter technology, which seemed to make them all feel more confident. Now they waited; Ferengi playing with their ledgers, Klingons playing with their ceremonial knives, everyone chatting about what the aliens would look like or how many there would be.

Eventually the door at the far end of the large room opened with a smooth hiss. All heads turned, ready for a long precession of names, titles and handshaking. What greeted them was a stiff-looking, metallic blue android, a single man in a hooded, black robe and the captain and first officer of the Plato looking somewhat apologetic. Murmurs began to flow through the room like smoke.

"Just one?"

"It looks like a priest?"

"It looks like the grim reaper."

"One to represent their whole quadrant?"

Luke smiled underneath his hood. The thoughts flew to him like mynocks to a generator. Unfortunately, at his age he was so close to becoming one with the Force that sometimes he had trouble distinguishing which were his own thoughts and which were being brought to him.

He stopped a short distance from the crowd and slowly pulled the hood back to reveal his eighty some-odd year old, very human face. The Jedi smiled warmly, the Force told him the display would put most of them at ease. The Force, however, had not told him he would see human beings amongst the crowd now staring at him, but no hint of the surprise crossed his aged face.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," T-2C5 began with a slight bow. "Allow me to introduce to you the representative of the Galactic Republic, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker."

Luke bowed his head and addressed the gathering. "I understand that you have learned our language from this droid as I have learned yours. This will only be the beginning of the understanding our two cultures shall share." A few of the delegations from outside the Federation glared and coughed at their Starfleet counterparts at this statement. None of this was lost to the Jedi.

As the crowd converged to offer hands of welcome to the frighteningly human diplomat, Counselor Troi turned to Captain Picard. "He keeps his emotions completely in check Captain. I haven't seen anything quite like it before, outside a Vulcan."

"Do you think he's hiding something?"

"That's just it Captain, there's no way of knowing. I could sense the warmth of his smile, but other than that he's a blank slate. But it's not that they're controlled to the point of emotionless, like a Vulcan, they're just in complete check, like a man who inspects every word of every file on his desk before letting anything pass."

"Fascinating."

"And there's something else," the counselor continued. "He brings something with him."

"You mean like a symbiot ?" Picard wondered.

"No, not in the Trill sense. When I look at this man I sense him larger than he should be. Like he's connected to something in someway. His presence fills the room. It's hard to explain."

The two stopped their quiet discussion in time to hear a snippet of another near by. It was two Ferengi, "...just what we need. More Hu-mons."


"So many questions! So many questions. Calm your minds!" Luke raised his wrinkled hands as if to ward off the next volley of inquiries. "Isn't it late in this galaxy too?"

It was late. Only a few of the more die-hard emissaries still remained, hoping to gather as much information about the other side of the wormhole as they could. They were those who lived for encounters like this, and of course, those who couldn't abide by anyone else getting an upper hand. There were also those who had simply fallen asleep in the large, comfortable chairs where everyone now sat.

"I believe it is zero-zero forty nine, Sir," T-2C5 offered from his side.

"Thank you Ceefive," the old man smiled at the droid's exact interpretation of his statement. "That's certainly late enough for these old bones."

"Of course, of course Master Skywalker," Starfleet ambassador Rolland Trevor apologized. "I think we're all getting a little tired. Shall we resume in the morning?"

"That would be great Rolland. And please, it's just Luke. I never liked being called Master, even by droids." Luke rose from his seat quite smoothly for his age and shook the other man's offered hand. That was when the Force told him it was time. The reason he had insisted on handling this mission himself, the reason he had come with only the droid, all flashed through his mind. This was where the Force had led him. He could hear it at that moment, comforting him. It was all exactly as he had foreseen it.

Two seconds later the Plato, and everyone on her, exploded in a flash of expanding gas and a cloud of debris.


"OH... MY... GOD!" Jean-Luc Picard's words blasted through the communicator to echo around the bridge and hang in the air like a bad smell. Two teenagers walking past his quarters looked from the door to each other and quickened their pace. "I'm coming right up, Number One. Have the Admiralty and the other Starfleet Captains on screen when I get there. Try to get a hold of the Republic ship and convey our shock and sympathy."

"That last command is going to be easier said then done, Captain." Riker's disembodied voice replied into the half light as Picard got into uniform. "Immediately after the explosion she raised shields and retreated back into the wormhole."

Five minutes later the Captain of the Enterprise marched through a turbolift door to see over a dozen nervous faces filling his view screen. "Damage report, Number One."

"No damage to any ships, Sir. The Pluto was luckily positioned a safe distance from every vessel."

"Captain Picard, good, are we all here now?" The words were those of Admiral Waynwright, a rugged looking man of about fifty-five with salt-and-pepper hair and beard to match. His face took up the center of the screen. "Maybe it's the fact that I've just been woken up by fourteen frantic messages being routed to me at once, but I thought I was just told by good Captain Miyamoto that the USS Pluto has been destroyed along with the Federations top First-Contact specialists and the ambassador from the Galactic Republic. A man you told me not three days ago was seemingly their most important religious leader."

"I believe almost all of us here have just been woken up Admiral but yes, it would appear that those are the facts." Picard looked at the haggard faces of his colleagues and knew what they were all thinking. They were going to be at war again.

"Well then," the Admiral grunted. "Somebody please tell me what the hell happened!"


Captain Pooda sat behind his large, beautifully carved hardwood desk and watched as the records of the Corvette 'Mendela' unfolded. Beside him rasped his executive officer and spread about the room were the captains of the other military vessels of his 'Wormhole Fleet', including the Mendela's. There were enough grey suits in that office to fill a closet.

"Time index zero zero forty-nine." The sterile voice of the computer intoned as the scene began to play.

The Mendela's bridge was like every other corvette's that the assembled captains had seen. The ship's captain sat in his chair reading over some report or other while the crew went about their duties in a relaxed manner. They obviously didn't expect anything to happen.

"Captain?" The pilot, a Devaronian, turned to address the man.

"What is it, Lieutenant?" The captain looked up from his work with a smile. "The job too stressful for you?"

The pilot barred his rows of razor sharp teeth and laughed. "No, Captain I just..."

Through the front screen behind the Lieutenant's horns the alien vessel where the formal talks were taking place, the vessel that now held Luke Skywalker, disappeared in a flash of light.

The captain shot from his chair and took two step forward as the pilot whipped his head around. "By the Force!" He gasped.

"It's a trap." The com/scan officer could hardly get the words out.

"By the Force," the captain repeated. "They killed Skywalker! It's a trap! Red alert! Shields up! We're out numbered about fifty to one Lieutenant, get us the hell out of here."

The corvette quickly wheeled around until the wormhole nexus came into view. Upon request, the computer playing the images cut back to the explosion, only this time viewed from an external camera. As they all watched the destruction relived again and again silence hung in the room. For hours they poured over the recording from every angle, every magnification and every view. It didn't help. They still couldn't believe their eyes.

"Now Max," the captain of the Destroyer 'Razorback' addressed the man they had all just watched on screen. "Don't you think it's a little premature to shout 'trap'?" There was no malice in the statement. "I mean, why blow up there own ship? They must have lost a lot of their own people. Maybe it was just an accident?"

"Unless there wasn't anyone else on board and they were jamming any means of contact." This came from a Twi'Lek captain sitting in the corner.

"But why the whole ship?" Someone else chimed in. "Why not just kill him personally?"

"Skywalker was the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy. Destroying the whole ship is probably the only way to kill him. Besides, this way we sit here wondering whether it was an accident or not."

"That's right," the Mendela's captain added. "He was the most powerful Jedi. Why did he walk right into a trap? Why didn't he see it coming?"

"Maybe he did," Pooda finally spoke. "Remember, he insisted on going alone."

"In any event," Captain Tagger of the Sunstar began. "I assume it wasn't in our agenda to destroy the ship or Skywalker..."

"Absolutely not!" Pooda agreed.

"Then it must have been them. When Skywalker set foot on that ship his well being became their responsibility. For whatever reason, he is now dead. That man was one of the most respected and revered citizens of this galaxy. The people of the Republic will want blood."

"At this point Tagger, I agree with them." Pooda's face had taken a grim tone by the end of the conversation. "Gentlemen, I am rapidly losing my patience with this United Federation of Planets and their Starfleet. With the possible exception of the emissary that left here four days ago I have seen nothing but hostility from them. But we must look and hope for a reasonable explanation for this disaster. The citizens of the Republic will just have to wait for their blood."

From that it was apparent the meeting was over. One by one the holograms of the gathered captains blinked out of existence. When the room was empty of all but the fat captain and his first officer, the man leaned back and dragged his hands through his hair with a sigh. "I knew I shouldn't have let Skywalker through before the other two came back."

"I really don't think we would have been able to stop him, Sir."


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:45am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:43am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Aboard a sleek, black, if slightly mangled, star ship hurtling through the blue and white vortex of hyperspace, a sleek, athletic, if slightly aged, woman sat in meditation. This hadn't been the easiest of voyages but at long last she was finally going home. Home. What had she said about that not so long ago? It didn't matter. It would just be nice to have a place to rest off of this ship.


She needed rest. Had hardly had any since the Borg attack. The attack that had cost her more dearly than she would ever have imagined. There had just been too many of them. And now Mai was gone. Part of the Collective, they all said. Not even Jedi are invincible.

It was true though. Mai-Men WAS gone. Jenna's instincts told her it was true. The Jedi contemplated these feelings carefully. She would take the proper time to say good bye to her apprentice once this mission was over and done with. Then, whatever the Senate thought of the new galaxy, the Jedi would have to gather for a serious discussion about bringing it a proper level of peace and justice.

What was she doing? "Focus on the moment," she admonished herself out loud. Then, slipping back into her Jedi's calm, she felt it. A massive disturbance buffeted her through the Force. Strangely, it seemed to be coming from two places at once. One strong and sharp, straight ahead of her and the other weak, slowly and steadily growing, behind her. It was confusing. Someone was dead, someone important. But something else was very much alive, like a newborn of monstrous proportions.

Things had definitely been happening in her absence. The Jedi Knight rose lithely to her feet and strode to the cockpit to see if she couldn't coax a few more wisps of power out of her already gasping vessel.


Picard looked down at the small image of the ship on his ready-room desk. What the hell had happened. In one blinding flash of light this whole event had turned into another potential Dominion War. No word had come through the wormhole since Skywalker's ship had bolted, in offer or reply. He could only hope that they were trying to get to the bottom of things over there. Pooda had seemed like a rational man, why was the Republic ignoring their offers of a joint investigation?

"Sir," the voice of Commander Data broke the captain's quiet contemplation. "I think you should come to the bridge."

Picard rose from his chair with a tug at his shirt and strode through the door onto the bridge. Greeting him on the main viewer was the leering face of a Ferengi officer. Data rose from the captain's chair as he approached.

"This Ferengi vessel has broken away from the rest of the assembly and is heading for the wormhole," the android informed. "This is Damon Hosst."

"Picard," the Ferengi's shrill voice pierced the air like a whistle. "It has become clear to the Ferengi Alliance that the Federation has lost control of this situation. We are going through to deal with the Republic ourselves before any further jeopardy is brought to potential trading partnerships."

"Absolutely not, Hosst. I can not allow that." Picard signaled the ensign at tactical to activate the tractor beam. "This is an extremely delicate problem we're facing. You can't be allowed to go through and aggravate it any more."

"Oh!" Hosst snorted. "So only the great and powerful Federation Hoo-Mon's could possibly get to the bottom of this! Is that it Picard? You have had your chance and from where I stand you've failed. I am going on a diplomatic mission of peace. You have no right to hold me back. Now release my ship!"

"Listen to me Hosst..." Picard's retort was cut off by the appearance of two other faces on his screen. The ambassadors of the Romulans and the Klingons.

"The Ferengi is right, Picard," the Romulan statesman chided. "This is as much our problem as it is the Federation's. The Ferengi's approach may work better then yours. Let them go before sides must be taken."

"I agree," the round Klingon on screen spoke. "As your allies, the Klingon Empire advises you to let the Ferengi go. We will not help you if this escalates."

Picard was out numbered. Even if Starfleet had by far the most ships in the area - and that wasn't necessarily a certainty - and it WAS Federation territory, it would do no one good to start firing shots over this. He signaled the other vessel's release and cut communications without a word.

"Lord help us." He murmured to no one in particular.


"Sir, we're getting activity from the wormhole," the nameless Com/Scan officer called up to Pooda and his first. In moments the space/time nexus opened and belched out what appeared to be one small ship. The Republic Dawn was far too far away to see the ship with the naked eye but the scene was all too clear in the hologram floating over the ship's bridge.

"We're picking up eleven ships, Sir. Three distinct design styles. The ten around this one are using a broad spectrum cloak but all eleven are creating massive spacial warpage from their main drives." Ten outlines appeared, five in green, five in red. "The visible one is hailing, Sir."

"What the hell are they trying to do?" rasped Wullo.

"It looks like they think they can pull a fast one on us, Sir." The Com/Scan officer's comment was accompanied by the holographic image of the outlined ships breaking formation. Two stayed with the decoy, one red, one green. Two made to return to the wormhole, one red, one green. The rest shot off in random directions at super-light speed.

"Indeed, Lieutenant." Pooda starred at the image before him. "This would be the proverbial straw that broke the bantha's back. Contact the Commander of Delta wing and tell him to round up all those ships. Tell him to remember what I said about the ion cannons. Then get a hold of the Maxim, the Saberflash and the Icewind. It looks like those two are going to get back through the wormhole but I don't want that decoy and his escort going anywhere."

"Aye, Captain," the lieutenant complied. A second later he was calling back up. "Sir, there's a transmission from Captain Mulby of the Leviathan. He says it's urgent."

As the image of Captain Mubly shimmered to life on the bridge of the Republic Dawn, three Star Destroyers moved into position around the Ferengi vessel and it's unknown escort. Six more broke from the fleet to split up and dart off in pursuit of the other interlopers.


The breathless moments seemed to stretch into hours as everyone waited for the Ferengi vessel to return with news. Any news at all. There was nothing. Nothing after the wormhole had opened to let nothing through anyway. Some of those waiting knew exactly what that meant, some had a pretty good idea. Whatever it had signaled, the Ferengi still weren't back.

"Captain Picard, sensors are picking up a lone ship."

Picard jolted out of his stupor and sat up in his chair. "From the wormhole? Is it Damon Hosst?"

"No Captain," the lieutenant corrected, sounding a little confused. "It's a small ship. Unidentified class. It just appeared behind us and is coming in hard with shields up."

"On screen. What do you mean, 'just appeared'?"

"Just that, Sir. One moment there was nothing and now there's a ship. It should reach our position in about a minute."

Against the backdrop of space, the strange black vessel was almost invisible on the Enterprise's main viewer. As the seconds ticked by and the computer tracked the craft's location, word was batted about the gathered ships.


Jenna stared at the waiting blockade as it grew from a tiny row of specks in her front screen. They had gathered reinforcements since she had last been here. They were going to try to stop her. She steadied herself for the first assault.


"Sir, they're not responding to hails. And every time I think I have a lock with the tractor beam and am about to fire, they evade somehow. The other ships are having the same luck."

Riker looked back at the tactical officer. "Are you telling me that fifty ships with some of the most advanced computers in the quadrant can't lock on to ONE?!"

"I can't explain it either, Sir. They just seem to know where to go to break... Wait. The Dakota III just caught them!"

"That's better." Picard put his hand to his chin thoughtfully. "Maybe they'll have some answers to all of this."


Well, it was bound to happen, Jenna thought to herself as the unseen hand of energy dragged her battered ship into the midst of the blockade. It was just as well. This got her closer to her goal with more ease than anything else could have.

Steady

Steady


The crew of the Enterprise watched as the alien ship was pulled passively towards the Dakota III. Attempts to board via transporter had already been tried and failed. Dakota was now waiting until they had their catch close enough for a party to actually fly over and break in.

It was almost at this time that the small craft came back to life. The gathered ships were shocked out of victory as their prey powered weapons and blazed up at its captor. The Dakota's tractor beam ceased to exist and the alien vessel darted again towards the waiting freedom of the wormhole.

Picard smirked. The others had been taken totally off guard. They had moved in too soon and were now in so much of a bunched jumble that with some exquisite piloting the alien ship was again free.

"She can bite after all," he commented. "Bring us in front of the wormhole and keep trying the tractor. If they got that ship once we can get her again."


The field of strange and alien starships twisted and wheeled in Jenna's view as she maneuvered through a maze of nacelles, bodies and saucers. Soon she was in the clear again making straight for the wormhole. There were still dozens of ships behind her and closing fast, all still trying to re-establish a lock and some that were moving in to cut her off. None of this entered her mind. She was focused on her goal. Her instincts took care of the rest.

Then those instincts screamed a warning. Five small Klingon Birds of Prey materialized in front of her, seconds after she started her evasive maneuvers.


"Evasive action!" Picard roared to the helmsman as the Klingon ships appeared in his path. "Damn!"

The great bulk of the Enterprise pulled hard to stern, mirrored by six others that had had the same idea, while the sandwiched Klingon ships darted for safety as best they could. In the confusion, everyone's quarry was all but forgotten.

Forgotten by all but two dogged Birds of Prey. The quick thinking crews of these ships had managed to keep tightly to the Jedi's trail for her entire flight through the line. They now tried in vain to disable her engines before she could reach safety. When she made it through, they didn't follow. They had already been given word about what was on the other side.


If news of the wormhole had traveled through the Republic fast, the news of Luke Skywalker's death and the surrounding events moved like the Force itself. Everyone from the Hutts to the Calamari were outraged. The decision to go to war turned out to be the fastest thing ratified by the Senate since Palpatine's rise to power. It was true. Everyone wanted blood. The only ones to actually disapprove were the Jedi themselves. They refused to have any part of the war, if it was to commence, and urged the Senate to think about their actions more calmly.

No one was listening to calm words in those days that followed. Too many fists were pumping in the air. Too many chants and war cries drowned out reason. Too many stories were leaking about the other side. Too many people feared invasion. If they could kill a Jedi master they had to be stopped!


In the muting confines of a wood finished office, two men stood across from each other. One in a opulent yet comfortable robe, the other wearing simple black with a hooded cloak, his hands folded in front of him. A luxuriously appointed desk separated the two, giving their stares a good meter to travel.

"... War is not what Master Skywalker would have wanted in any circumstance."

"It's too late far that. Don't you understand? Skywalker wasn't just your master, he wasn't just a Jedi. He was an icon. He was a symbol.

"The people have already spoken. If the Jedi won't help us... tell them to stay out of the way."

"So be it, Supreme Chancellor. May the Force be with you. All of you."


"Due to the events leading up to and following the destruction of the Plato, the Federation and it's allies have decided to declare a state of full alert concerning the Galactic Republic. Be advised that we are sending more ships to your position at the wormhole as quickly as we can."

Picard stared blankly for a second at the screen on his desktop. Some of the other faces in that screen were as stunned as he was. "But Mr. President, we haven't even determined the cause of the explosion."

"The Plato is a debris field, Captain. There's nothing left to study. We've had experts going over the sensor logs of every ship that was witness and they've still come up empty. We have no choice but to use caution."

"If you're that worried, why don't we simply collapse the wormhole right now?" It was a Vulcan Picard had never seen before. Most likely a counsel member. "Why potentially risk the lives of Federation citizens?"

"That is not an option," the president answered with an awkward, sidelong glance. "We have... people on the other side." There was a pause. "And I understand that the Klingon Empire now does as well."

"What!!" Too many voices mixed together in this cry. All but Picards.

"If there is any chance that they may return," the president continued. "We can't abandon it. The Empire is very steadfast on this point. If we collapse the wormhole we risk going to war with them... Not to mention the Ferengi."

"You don't want to do this." Picard shook his head, almost pleading. "I've seen what's on the other side of that wormhole..."

"So have I, Captain. That's half the reason. But there is hope. Not all of our people are still over there."


The towering holographic projection of General Bastin's face loomed over the rows upon rows of Republic Troopers that seemed to stretch into infinity. He looked young and vigorous yet carried the scares of battles fought and won that earned respect. His face was livid as his address rolled forth. "...And even now, our agents have returned with reconnaissance from the other side. They are a disordered, fractured society, these people who killed Skywalker. Not like us. Not united as one galaxy. But take heed! They are savage! And NOT to be taken lightly!

"YOU are all that stands in the way of the Republic being over run with these savages! Only you can preserve our way of life! Only you can preserve us from collapse! The Jedi won't help. They've said they won't lift a finger in this war. That's because they can't help! They are afraid of the other side!

"Yes. Even the mighty Jedi do not want to face a people with the power to kill their Master. But someone must. Someone must bring order and justice to this new galaxy. Someone must fight for what is right. Someone must avenge the death of the greatest man of our time. Someone must teach these Federation barves the lesson that they deserve!"

There was a pause. "Will you?

"That is a lot for one being to ask another. I know. But I also know who I'm talking to. You are the greatest fighting force of this galaxy or any other! Nothing can stand in your way! You have the technology! You have the training! So I ask you, as one citizen of this beautiful republic to another, will you fight? Will you fight for ORDER? Will you fight for JUSTICE? Will you fight for the memory of my hero?"

"Sir, yes sir!" As one, the bellow charged from the lips of the assembled soldiers. So crisp, the ground seemed to shake with the reverberation. So clear, the silence that followed threatened to leak into the soul.

Somewhere in the back a voice broke discipline. "Order!"

"Order!" Fists raised as the ranks shouted as one.

A different voice rose up. "Justice!"

"Justice!" Again, uncountable fists hit the sky.

The troopers needed no more encouragement. As one, the chant called from their lips, charging the air with their energy. "Skywalker! Skywalker! Skywalker!..."


The holo-projector deactivated with a beep and General Bastin gave a sigh too old for his face. His reached for his drink and turned to the others in the room.

"Jed," someone offered. "When my obituary comes up, I want YOU to write it."


The ranks of starships arrayed in front of the wormhole had swelled, nearly tripled, since the captains had heard from the president. No familiar ships had come back yet, Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Ferengi or otherwise. There had only been a lot of watching and waiting. There was an anticipation in the air, everyone could sense it. Something was going to happen. It was just a matter of what time.

That time was now.


"Sir, we're picking up massive amounts of tachyon activity coming from the wormhole. It looks like something is coming through. Something big."

Captain Selkor of the Klingon Attack Cruiser Lo'Cha nodded in approval. "Raise shields and go to yellow alert." Finally, some action.

On the ships main viewer the wormhole sparked for a split second and in the next poured forth legion upon legion of tiny craft. Long and slender in shape, these ships bulged from a narrow aft section only to split into four equally spaced, equally long, barbs. Like the grasping claws of a faceless monster, they came.

So it began.

"Fighters?" the captain looked incredulously to his tactical officer for confirmation.

"I'm reading no life signs, Captain. They may be some form of torpedo but I'm reading weapons systems powering up. There are ten thousand in all, Sir." There was a hint of respect in the man's voice. Any enemy that could muster ten thousand of anything for a first attack was a worthy adversary.

If the captain was equally impressed he didn't let on. "Go to red alert. Those aren't torpedo's, Lieutenant. Commence fire before they break formation."

Soon all disruptor banks on the Lo'Cha were active, stabbing into the cloud of oncoming attackers. Seconds later, every other ship gathered was following suit. Selkor began to have trouble seeing his enemy behind the energy fire and explosive flashes.

As the first few hundred droid fighters exploded atom by atom, the entire rank and file broke into a confusing swarm of small groups and individuals. All wheeled and dodged in an attempt to evade destruction while continuing to steadily advance. As a result, the initial mass that had been so compact and orderly now expanded wider and wider in a seething net, making less of a target for any one computer to track.

"Continue firing," Selkor ordered calmly. "All batteries. Get as many as you can while they're at a distance. It won't be this easy once they're in close. Estimate time they'll be in range to return fire."

"I don't know, Captain. There are approximately eight thousand remaining and closing steadily. I estimate thirty seconds before they're at point blank range. I don't know anything about their targeting system though, they could be in range to fire now and just aren't."

The distruptors blazed, the view screen filled with twinkling explosions and everyone on the bridge waited. Then it happened.

"They"re returning fire, Captain. Ten seconds until point blank range, five thousand remaining."

The darkness of space, already lit by hundreds of phasor and disruptor beams, became even brighter as close to five thousand automated fighters bared their little fangs with abandon. Tiny, red, quad pulses erupted towards the defending line like a river of lava, obscuring sensors and striking panic in the hearts of the less battle hardened. There was nothing any ship could do but brace for impact. The retaliation was too vast.

When the wave of energy crashed over the defenders it rocked each ship and sent crackling flashes across their shields. Then the next volley hit, then the next. It soon became more like riding through an ion storm then being in battle.

"Shields only down ten percent and holding," the Lo'Cha's first officer laughed. The captain ran a quick calculation in his head and did not share the jubilation of his crew.

"Pull us away from the pack," he ordered. "And advise the other ships to space further apart as well."

"Aye, Sir. Shields now down to seventy five percent and holding."

The great Klingon Attack Cruiser slowly drifted away from the rest of the line. In response, first the Klingon ships, then most others, began to mimic the action. Those that didn't soon learned the folly of their ways as the swarm of enemy fighters filled the gaps in between. There were only about three thousand of them left but they were a cloud of bees within a herd of buffalo.

"The computer is having trouble getting a lock on them at this close range," the tactical officer advised. "They're too maneuverable!"

"Keep firing," Selkor replied. "Watch your targets though, and watch the other ships.

"See what I mean. Look!"

The burly Klingon jabbed his finger at the viewer and all eyes were quick to follow. What they saw brought a mix of sobriety and disbelief. There before them was the image of two craft, one Federation and one Ferengi. Around the two darted a dozen or so tiny specks gauging now and then with their red pulses. The crew of the Lo'Cha watched as Ferengi and Federation beams stabbed out into space and doggedly followed their targets. One fighter vanished in fire and the beam ceased, the other pulled hard to the side and the beam followed, bringing it right across the port bow of the other starship. The shields of the Ferengi vessel glowed and its side darked before the raking blast stopped.

"Locking in targeting safeties now, Captain."

As the two ships finally pulled away from one another they were helpless to retaliate. All of their tiny attackers had congregated between them. Moments later a bright flare burst from the side of the Federation craft and it was reduced to an expanding cloud of debris and life-pods seconds later.

"That last volley carried torpedoes of some kind, Sir."

"Yes, they were saving them for close range so we couldn't shoot them down."

The firing rate of the cruiser was now down to nearly zero. It was just too hard to get a positive lock on the minuscule bastards. To their right a Bird of Prey was torn to pieces by plasma fire, taking out three fighters in its death throws. Their shields were now down to sixty five percent and would drop even further judging from the enemy circling them coldly. Sharks in a vast, black ocean.

The captain swore. "How many left, Lieutenant?"

"Over a thousand. One hundred forty of our ships remain." There was a pause, "Make that one thirty nine. We're getting a distress call from the Vorae."

Outside, a stray Federation runabout skirted over the Lo'Cha's hull trying to shake three tenacious pursuers. The stubborn pilot was pulling out every trick in the book but nothing she did could stop the pounding it was taking. The small craft's shields ultimately failed as it ducked around the cruisers starboard nacelle for cover, spinning tightly in an effort to evade its enemies.

"It's the U.S.S. Merryway, Captain," the Klingon officer advised. "Its shields are down and it's asking to dock."

"We'd have to lower our shields." The tone of the first officer's voice spoke more then his statement.

"Lower the shields and bring the Merryway in," the captain ordered coolly. "The hull will be able to take any damage from these drones, but get it back up as quickly as you can. And watch for torpedoes!"

"Understood, Captain."

"But Sir," the Commander shouted. "They should stay out on the field and fight to their glorious end! How can you allow a moment of weakness to disgrace them like this."

"They are not Klingons, Commander," Selkor replied. "These are Federation warriors. Would you stand by and watch a child be torn to pieces by a pack of targs?"

The ship rocked all the stronger as its defenseless skin was pommeled by blaster fire. Four decks were breached before the runabout was safely inside and the shields were up again. The captain did not complain or curse though, he simple continued his battle like the soldier he was. Beside them, a Romulan cruiser tried a desperate attempt to escape into cloak before it was lashed by dozens of torpedoes. The Lo'Cha had its defenses raised just in time.

"Shields down to forty five percent, Captain. Shall I access auxiliary power?"

"No. Not until my order."

Then the other shoe dropped.

Again, the defenders read a massive spike from the wormhole. Again it opened wide its great, cosmic mouth. This time, however, did not reveal a storm cloud of tiny fighters. This time, the wormhole released a vision like nothing anyone, save Picard and Data, had seen. A monolithic, black wedge the size of a city now hung in space over the defenders, flanked by dozens of the infamous grey ships. Ships that now did not look quite so monstrous. Like the accusing finger of an angry god, the alien giant bore down on them.

Raw terror danced in the hearts of the defending line at the sight of a war machine so awe-inspiring. Fully every Romulan vessel faded into the darkness of space within seconds and was gone. The Ferengi too, turned and fled. This was not their territory. They had to warn the Alliance. But this WAS the Federation's territory and the Klingons were their allies. They could not run. Not without a fight. No matter how futile. Even the words of Picard and the Klingons that had been across had not prepared them for this.

"Reroute all power to the shields and disruptors and ready the torpedo bays!" Captain Selkor was finally getting excited. "Commander Kall, have you ever served aboard a B'Rel before?"

"Of course, Captain." The first officer grinned. "Helm, set heading three two six!"


In unison, the remaining ships of the defending line charged forward at maximum impulse. The tables had turned. They were now the insects, spinning and weaving amongst giants. But they were not small enough.

Moments after the charge began, the ships of the Milkyway were drenched in turbolaser fire. Curtains of green energy thundered down on them like a hurricane, washing away many in brilliant flashes of light. For the rest, survival was no easy feat either. Pilots of all species were put to the test, trying to keep their ships out of harms way yet within optimal firing position.

"Boost power to the visual sensors," Selkor bellowed to his warriors as the main viewer turned to static. The Lo'Cha spasmed under another wave of energy.

The crackling snow on the screen cleared slightly to the reveal the jumping image of two Star Destroyers, rotating in space as the Klingon cruiser dodged their energy blasts.

"This is the best we can do, Captain," Commander Kall said from the tactical station, pushing the body of its previous occupant to the floor. "The jamming field coming off of that central ship is too powerful."

Ahead, a Federation Galaxy class strafed the destroyer on the right, raking its phasor banks across the bigger ship's hull as it pounded with quantum torpedoes.

"All torpedo bays," the Klingon captain shouted. "Fire on that ship while it's reeling! Cover the Humans with the disruptor banks. Target the second vessel."

The Starfleet craft's underbelly was peppered by turbolasers from both enemies as it tried to escape from its own bravery. When twelve Klingon torpedoes were spotted speeding in to the rescue, they thought they were saved. When those same torpedoes missed their target completely and turned around to reacquire a lock, their hopes were shattered.

"Captain, the targeting computer can't get a lock on the enemy vessel. I'm switching to manual."

"It looks like the sensors on the torpedoes are having trouble as well," the captain replied. "Reprogram them for straight trajectory and manually target them as well."

Twelve more specks of light rushed toward the Star Destroyer on the right as its counterpart's shields flashed with energy impacts from both the Klingons and the Federation. Trying to minimize the potential impact of the Klingon torpedoes, the Destroyer opened fire on the nearing dots. One quantum explosion detonated after the next as the projectiles were picked off. Not all however. Two made it through the barrage to collide against the forward shields with brilliant reaction.

"Again! Torpedoes fire!"

By this time the Lo'Cha was passing over the enemy ship as it fired, crossing paths with its Federation brother who was doing the same. Explosions began rippling across the embattled Star Destroyer bringing a cheer to the throats of two different crews. Cheers that were cut decidedly short. Dead short.

The monstrous vessel was still there. There had been no visible effect. The torpedoes had impacted harmlessly on the shields.

The second Destroyer, seeing its companion's situation and knowing that a small section of its deflectors had been breached in the last barrage, pulled back to bring itself in line for a perfect shot at the two harbingers of that barrage. Four heavy turbolaser bolts lit up the void for the briefest of moments. The Starfleet vessel exploded instantly.

"Captain Selkor, our shields are gone!" Fire suppression systems blinked force fields here and there on the bridge as the remaining crew fought to regain control before the next assault.

"Hit them with every thing we've got, Commander. Continuous fire. Now, before they fire again!"


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:46am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:47am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
The fourth moon of the Yavin gas giant wasn't exactly a quiet place during the night. What little night there was this time of year between the sun and the reflection of the planet. None the less, Jenna focused on blotting the noise out. First the voices in the hall outside of her meditation cell, then the soft, ever present hum of the power generator buried deep within the complex, then the cries of beasts from the jungle drifting in through the tiny, open window, and finally her own breathing, her own heart.

Nothing disturbed her now as she filled herself with the energy of the Force and reflected on the events of the recent past and her feelings about them. She had lost her Padawan. She knew this to be true, she could feel it with every inch of her being. The girl had seemed so confident, so secure. Her physical prowess was almost beyond par. Surely nothing save a Sith warrior should have brought her down. Certainly not those lumbering cyborgs!?

Perhaps my over confidence in her was her ultimate destruction?, She thought. Yet there remained one nagging issue. Why could she not contact Mai-Men's spirit? If she was dead, as the Force told her, where was her apprentice to make peace with?

"You're making interpretations, my apprentice." The voice of her elderly master pulled the Jedi's eyes open with a start. "You felt that the young one was gone, not dead."

"Master Skywalker!" The ethereal image stood in front of the tiny room's only door. "I had felt your passing and I still couldn't believe it when they told me. Could the accident not have been prevented?"

"Why would I want to have done that, Child?!" Luke's translucent wrinkles pulled back in genuine surprise. "Sometimes the things that look the grimmest are really all for the best. If that explosion hadn't happened I'd still be in the other galaxy chatting with aliens and you'd be here meditating instead of trying to put your young padawon out of her misery."

"Then Mai-Men is alive!" Jenna jumped to her feet. "Surely I would have been able to feel her if she was."

"Your judgement is clouded by your feelings for her." Skywalker shook his head with a look of pity. "The cyborgs have stripped the child of all that she was. She gave herself over to defeat them and is now completely insane, a shattered mind spreading over a sea of individuals like a virus. And with each new cyborg she infests, her connection to the Dark Side, and her power, grows stronger."

"Then she has turned?"

"You can sense it, can't you?"

Jenna turned from the apparition to look out the room's lone window, into the bloody face of Yavin. Never in her life had she thought it would come to this. Not for her. She had been too careful.

"I know what I must do." The Jedi turned back to her ethereal master. "I will leave immediately."

"Good. Be mindful Jenna, your apprentice has grown stronger since last you saw her. This will not be easy. May the Force be with you."

The last sentence faded to silence even as its speaker faded from view. Alone once more, the Jedi Knight left to prepare for her immanent reunion.


The three hammer head corvettes tenaciously beat down on their Federation prey while the remains of their fighter escort, six new Y-wing mark five gunboats, deeked and juked around desperate phasor fire. There were seven ships in all that they now closed in on. Each one damaged beyond jumping past light speed. Each one clinging to life by the will of the Force alone. Wait. The savages didn't even know of the Force, did they?

"Watch it Blue three," a voice warned through the com. "You nearly got cooked in that last stream."

"Yeah," came the reply. He was really more annoyed with himself than anything. "Fuckin' savages."

"Hay!" The squadron commander's voice boomed in everyone's ears. "Cut the chatter and act like a fucking professional!"

"Copy that Blue Leader. Target four is breaking from pack. Starting attack run."

"Copy Blue three. Blue two, Blue eight, follow him in."

It was a big one, venting plasma from three of its four engine struts, or whatever they were. The Republic pilots figured it was trying to pull attention away from some of the other vessels. The ones more capable of making an escape. It made little difference. No one would be making an escape.

Three fighters wheeled hard out over the still firing corvettes and accelerated toward the stray. Behind them, energy fire splashed off of shields and their remaining comrades took evasive action. To their side, an enemy craft shattered in multiple explosions, the others of its kind limping sluggishly to get clear.

This was simply yet another in a string of debris that trailed the pursuit, but the distraction was enough for some of the bolder Starfleet crews to launch as many torpedoes and take as many phasor shots as they could.

The hail of fire thundered past the fighter escort, taking down two of the small ships in the process, and slammed full force into the Republic corvettes. Having taken near constant fire since the beginning of the operation, the shields of one vessel finally faltered and it was soon consumed in the effects of the phasors and the force of its own escaping air.

"Damn!" The captains of the two remaining corvettes pounded their fists in unison.

"Fucking Savages got Fel and Bess," one Y-wing pilot shouted over the comlink. In seconds he and his wing man were streaking towards the big stray, weapons blazing.

Four torpedoes rushed to embrace the enemy ship, connecting at last with its aft section at the center of the four struts. The resulting explosion sent the final remains of the Federation ship's shields wisping into oblivion and shoved it forward like a massive, kicked can.

The angry fighters needed no invitation to rack their enemy with strafe after strafe of blaster fire. In seconds the larger craft was covered with black scars and hull breaches. Moments later it was expanding in its own wave of destruction.

In the main pack, the remaining corvettes were wreaking their own vengeance. The two trained their main cannons on whatever was in front of them. It didn't matter which enemy it was. They would all receive the same fate. In unison, torpedoes of their own flew forth like the waves of rage flying from their gunners.

The Republic ships charged through the Federation pack like lions through hobbled horses. One pushed left, firing random shots at every enemy in its path, spreading havoc and chaos in its wake. The other powered right, baring down on one saucer-with-legs that had made a hapless break for a nebula growing steadily in the distance.

The corvette unleashed another volley of turbolaser fire as the Miranda fought back with its phasors. The energy streams crossed each other silently in the still blackness of space before connecting with their intended targets. A light show of reflected and refracted destruction surrounded the ships and the Federation vessel slowed in its course.

Again the Republic ship launched an attack. This time missiles were fired. They were met with another round from the phasor banks. Each missile was consumed in the blink of an eye. The turbolaser gunners doubled their efforts. In moments the wounded Starfleet ship was drifting dead in space.

Behind this battle, the other corvette's rampage, aided by the remaining fighters, was having devastating effect on the last four. Two ships were now spewing their life giving oxygen, one of them in a fiery plumb. Another was running on one engine strut, the other having broken off. The last craft was all but defenseless. With shields and weapon systems gone, its only course of action was to stay out of the way.

But even in their desperation, the Federation vessels changed direction and valiantly circled their lifeless comrade. The corvettes floated before them, glowering across the void in a moment of coordination. Four fighters circled all. Any sign of movement and they would strike like the war hawks that they were.

"This is Captain Raintree of the United Federation of Planets." The bleeding face and rasping voice was transmitted on all frequencies and in thousands of languages. "We surrender. I repeat. We give you our total and unconditional surrender."

Raintree didn't know the extent of the Republic's wrath. He couldn't possibly understand the orders that had been issued for those that had murdered Skywalker.

"I say again. We surrender..."

The corvettes opened fire one last time. One by one, each Starfleet vessel was torn to pieces.

"Fucking savages."


Wieland was one of the industrial hubs of the Federation. If you could call it that. Hundreds of thousands of replicators churning out millions upon millions of machinery parts and circuits for assembly into anything and everything that made Federation life so easy. As such, it was very well guarded. Incredibly well by Starfleet standards. Defense platforms ringed the world in a halo of comforting security, Starfleet security personal confidently walked the streets every alert to danger. The people of Wieland were happy. It barely registered when three Galaxy class and two Intrepid class ships pulled into orbit and set up camp. Ships were always coming and going. They were usually freighters, but hay.

If they had been more interested they would have noticed that not one member of any of the crews had beamed down to the surface. They would have also noticed that each ship, along with their own planetary systems, had been on constant, active, long range scan.

"When do you figure they'll show up?" The Wieland Skymarshal was once again talking to Captain Pullman, the commander of the tiny, new orbital fleet.

"Oh, probably about as long as it takes to figure out that you guys are here." Pullman was a pragmatic man. He had lived through Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans, Changlings and countless other species and he had stopped assuming that he would live to see his next birthday. If was going to be anything like the last one, it would be something to look forward to though. "From what I've been told, their drive system puts transwarp to shame."

Like all conversations of this nature seemed to be, the two men were cut off by their respective tactical officers. Three Star Destroyers had just appeared outside the system. Everyone in Starfleet knew what this meant. Everyone else had a pretty good guess.


"Shall we all ahead full, Captain Mulby," the hologram of Captain Dorchar, a pale humanoid with a crown of short horns, differed to the assigned commander of the trio. Mulby had the most experience of the three. Not by much, but still more.

"Judging from our encounters so far, we could most likely take the planet before anyone on the surface knew the difference." The small creature heading the third battleship sat upon a perch-like chair, leathery wings folded behind his back as if they were a cape. Despite the fact that he spoke from behind a short, trunk-like snout and through a set of gleaming white tusks, his Galactic Standard accent was impeccable.

"No, gentlemen. I think we shall take our time," the human captain replied. "Let them see us come. Let them prepare whatever they wish."


The three behemoth Star Destroyers glided casually toward the planet and its waiting inhabitants. Weapons were not powered, shields were not raised, in fact there was absolutely no overt act of aggression as they closed the distance to the defenders.

"This is Captain Pullman of the Federation starship Magellan. Reverse your course and leave this system immediately. If you do not comply we will be forced to open fire."

There was no response. Only the constant hiss of cosmic background radiation filled the ears of the Starfleet communications officers. Still the Republic ships grew ever larger in their viewscreens. Still they came as if never hearing a word of the warning.

"Vessels of the Galactic Republic. This is your final warning. If you do not respond we will open fire. Now reverse course and leave this system."

One minute past without so much as a sonic ping. One minute of each set of ships staring into the gun barrels of the other. One minute that threatened to open the heavens and let loose a rain of destruction. One minute that precluded all thoughts of breathing.

Finally a voice broke the silence, a face appeared on every screen on the planet. It was a human face, which made it all the stranger for the Federation citizens. People just didn't act this way to each other anymore. They were above that.

"This is Captain Mulby of the Star Destroyer Leviathan. I am claiming this system in the name of the INTER-Galactic Republic. You will cease all aggressive activity and turn over all weapons of war for immediate destruction. Any resistance whatsoever will be met with swift and deadly force.

"To the civilian population of this system, I extend my welcome. You are now citizens of the INTER-Galactic Republic. As such you are entitled to all of the protection and privilege, and subject to all of the laws, that that entails.

"Your lives will not change. Your system of government will not change. Your regular security forces, however, will be replaced by Republic soldiers and a Republic magistrate will be assigned to help you make the adjustment to Republic life."


On the surface of the planet Tom Tworavens finished the bite in his mouth as the image on his wallscreen returned to the local volleyball game.

"Well," he said to his father after swallowing. "Here we go again."


"I'm sorry, Captain," the Starfleet reply finally came. "You will find that the people of the Federation do not give up their territory that easily."

"So be it." They were the last words to be heard before the muting curtain crashed down on their communications and sensors.


Waves of medium turbolaser fire came hurtling forwards at the same time that a quarter pinwheel of phasor fire came rushing back. The Starfleet ships were scrambling to escape the onslaught and get into position to effectively fire their quantum torpedoes while the Destroyers were slowly fanning out and deploying flight after flight of fighter-craft. One of the Interpids was obliterated on the outset, as were a handful of advanced TIE fighters making their run through the orbital defense platforms. Soon the intensity of the battle could be seen from the planet below.

Captain Horii leapt from his perch to fly speedily for the main front window, his wings flapping almost faster than the eye could see.

"Bring us about to provide cover fire for the fighters trying to get to the planet," he called back to his crew.

Seconds later, one hulking warship shifted position, putting itself in line to intensify bombardment on the halo of defense stations. First one, then another, then a third succumbed to its wrath, leaving a devastating gap in Wieland's protection. Soon, fighters and bombers were streaming through unhindered.

At higher orbit another Starfleet vessel, the USS Isis, met its end in a hail of green energy. It had attempted a daring attack run straight for the bridge tower of its enemy, launching spread after spread of torpedoes as it came. To the ship's credit, many of the deadly projectiles contacted with their target. Unfortunately, it didn't survive long enough to bare witness, its split fuselage impacting on the Star Destroyer's primary shields and rolling away into a somewhat unstable orbit.


"That one shook us a bit, Captain," the report came to the horned humanoid. "Bridge shielding holding, the impact caused minor tertiary damage."


The remainder of the Federation forces divided, each pair careening around the planet at high impulse in an attempt to goad their attackers into breaking formation and following. On the other side they had the opportunity to regroup, assess their damage, and position themselves behind the array of fresh defense platforms that were waiting their turn for action.

"Let's finish off these stations before following, shall we Gentlemen," Mulby ordered over the hololink as he ship was drenched in a new wave of phasor and torpedo fire. "Fighter wings, report. What is the status of ground based military resistance?"

"Ground based military is non-existent, Sir," a com/scan officer answered from her pit. "Repeat, bombers have found no sign of established ground forces and have begun deep scans on the far side of the planet where the jamming field has been shadowed."

"Interesting. Tell them to continue their scans. We will lower our field and aid them when we have finished up here."


The Republic Star Destroyers lined themselves up along the planet's equator and made steadily for the pole and the other side beyond. All enemy fire was returned ten fold, reducing everything in their path to vapour. When the three had finally come once again, headlong into the waiting paths of the Federation phasors, there was nothing else standing against them.

The Starfleet craft scrambled anew. Each of the remaining Galaxy class ships chose a target and attacked with wild abandon. The smaller, nimbler Intrepid shot away at maximum warp in the ensuing confusion. It was insanity. Everyone on every crew knew it. It was also the only way anyone else would know what had happened to Wieland.

A single heavy turbolaser bolt reached out toward the fleeing vessel in vain. The ship was already gone.

"Damn!" Horii clenched his clawed fist and stared into the empty void before turning his full attention back to the melee at hand.

The enemy was strafing their ships again. As impotently as ever before. There seemed no limit to the fools bravery in these savage humans. They were hit and hit and still they continued to raise back up for another smack. It was a testament to their limited intelligence and a stain on the whole species as far as he was concerned. He'd have to needle Mulby about that.

Out in the blackness of space another starship was quickly expanding in a cloud of gas. The remaining two were now hopelessly locked in the tractor beams of their giant enemies and in seconds they would be joining their comrades in whatever hell was set aside for Force forsaken savages.

Calm had returned to vacuum above the planet Wieland. Only three ships remained. There was no comfort in this. The face that once again addressed the new citizens of the Republic was almost as calm as those stars above.

"New citizens of the Republic. You will notice that your new security forces will be landing shortly. Please treat them with the respect that you show all those who's job it is to protect you. Illegal and rebellious activity will not be tolerated...."

Behind Mulby the holograms of the other captains shot each other looks.

"I'd be interested to see if they know the meaning of the word respect."

"Fucking savages."


"I told you, Captain! This is a research station! We have no dealings with Starfleet Intelligence of any kind!" The two dimensional face of the woman floating disembodied over the bridge was almost in tears.

"I swear to you," she begged. "We study subspace phenomenon and the interaction between physical objects and subspace particles."

"You don't actually expect me to believe that, do you?" Captain Ranson's Corellian accent did not sound impressed. "Stop this little game of yours. This is a military spy station and you are an agent of the United Federation of Peoples."

"Planets, Captain," the woman slowly corrected, visibly centering herself. "United Federation of Planets. Perhaps there is something wrong with the translation matrix. Perhaps you are misunderstanding me."

"What are you suggesting?" Ranson's eyes narrowed. "I think I've made myself perfectly clear."

"I'm not suggesting anything..." There was a pause as the holo-image shuddered under the impact of light turbolaser fire. The gravimetric sensor array was drifting away in pieces.

"Please," the station commander pleaded. "We are all just scientists here. I've given you all of the information in our database. I don't know what more I can do."

The Republic captain let out a snort of a laugh. "Don't give me that, ‘Doctor'. My droid can hold more data than what you handed over.

"My patience is wearing very thin. If you don't provide your intelligence data I will destroy this station and everyone on it. And I hope that wasn't mixed up in the translation matrix."

"Beam over to the station," she offered. There was no thought of a trap in the woman, only the desperation of one racking her mind to save her life. Not to mention the lives of dozens of others. "You can examine everything you want. I'm telling you. We are not hiding anything."

"Miss, you are a liar and a spy, and this is an intelligence gathering station. I can think of no conceivable reason for you or anyone else to dedicate an entire station to these mundane subjects you claim to study. I DO see an elaborate array of monitoring equipment situated in a perfect location to keep tabs on much of the surrounding area. I will NOT be sending my technicians over to your trap. I will NOT be wasting any more time on you."

The captain turned and motioned to his gunnery officers.

"Wait!" The hopelessness in the woman's voice created a pause that seemed to stop the expansion of the galaxy. "You're right. I've been lying. This is a listening post." This was the first lie she had uttered since telling her best friend she didn't look like a pillow in her new pants.

"I admit it," she continued. "I admit to everything. The scientific research is just a front. We have been spying on everyone in this quadrant. My mind alone is filled with information. I surrender to you. We will not struggle when you beam over to arrest us. We will come along peacefully."

"Are you trying to bargain with me? This has nothing to do with any information you may or may not have. Your very being is an affront to the security of the Republic."

"Please! I'm begging you! Give us the benefit of the doubt! Have some humanity!"

Ranson sneered as he watched the station before him get torn to pieces in a battering hail of energy bolts.

"Lecture me on humanity? Fucking savages."


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:46am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:55am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"You know what happens when you cross me," Mai-Men's sing-song thoughts echoed throughout the collective. "You should know better than anyone that resistence is futile."

Drones lay inert in every corner of the cube she had intercepted, lulled into linking with. Slowly, methodically she tore through the minds of each one, searching for that singular entity that had dared to taunt her. The one that was controlling them all. Had been controlling them all.

"Where are you, you bitch!" Rage boiled over and one Borg cube opened fire on the other, disintegrating massive crevasses with beam after beam. "I'm going to find you and keep you alive while I cut pieces from your worthless body! You can't hide!" Thousands of voices on both cubes screamed the words as one.

The anger, the unbridled hatred emanating from thousands of lives sparked the Dark Side of the Force like nothing else. Visions began rolling into Mai's disjointed mind. At first they were little more than flashes. Soon, however, they flowed like the head waters of a mighty river.

There was a room in a cube. It was this cube, she knew. The room was filled with perhaps a half dozen drones positioned in a circle facing each other. There was no way of knowing what was going on by looking at the group. Borg faces were impossible to read. She didn't have to look at them to know what they were though, she had felt a few of them as soon as she had taken over their minds.

The vision shifted and she was drifting in space in an area chaotic with Borg space craft. The cubes and spheres soon aligned themselves and began spinning and twisting in a strange spiral dance. They were as one. More than that. They WERE one. The vision shifted.

An incredible structure took up the entire field of view. It was utilitarian but oddly elegant at the same time. Dozens of transwarp conduits terminated here, hundreds of skeletal manufacturing nodes flashed green and white in constant production. It was the beginning and the end. It was the center of everything.

The scenes abruptly ended, increasing the ire of their viewer.

Like a child tearing through a cluttered room, Mai-Men began the process of sifting through her new appendages, hunting down every one with that tell-tale feel, that connection to the Force that they had never had a name for in their past lives. With each one she felt the embrace of the Dark Side tighten. She was within them now. Each one of them was a mere extension of herself, an amplifier of her own abilities.


"Regeneration incomplete."

The beautiful blonde that had moments before been standing peacefully amid the flashing green lights of her alcove stumbled forward gasping for air. After a second's disorientation, the woman composed herself and made straight for the computer on the table across the room. Crossing the sparsely furnished apartment, she punched a number of buttons on the console and waited silently for her connection to be made.

"Mr. President," she began as a haggard looking man appeared on the screen. "It has happened again."

"Alright," the man replied with a sigh. "Fill me in at our advisors meeting today."

It wasn't long afterward that the woman, dressed in her usual skin-tight body suit, was standing before the most important man in the Federation, in person.

"I have to say, Seven, I really hope this turns out to be better than the rest of the news I've been getting."

The President sat at his desk, slumped in a large antique looking leather chair. Behind him, the glittering water of the San Francisco harbor competed with the glittering glass and steel of the city line. Around the ample office stood the rest of the man's advisors. Some had been immersed in Federation politics for years, others, like Seven, were very new at the game.

Every wall in the room was now covered in the ever shifting images of fleet deployments and military statistics. The screens had even advanced their position off of the walls and were displaying their morbid business from tripods littered around the floor. It was information at a glance that nobody wanted to see.

"I am unaware of the other news to which you are referring, Mr. President," she replied matter-of-factly. "Although I assume you are alluding to the advancement of the Galactic Republic within Federation space."

"Not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Breen, and anyone else you can think of," remarked a greying man in a perfectly tailored suit.

"Be that as it may," Seven continued with a sidelong, uninterested look at the aging advisor. "I have been receiving an increasing number of warning signals from the collective through my neural transceiver. Though they have only been strong enough for my subconscious to pickup, considering the distance between here and Borg space, they must be screaming to every drone that they can even hope to contact."

"So the Republic is after them too," the President smirked. "Good! At least something good will come of this."

A number of quick chuckles bounced around the room. Some of them were even genuine.

"No," the ex-drone shot back emotionlessly. "It is not the Galactic Republic that is causing this commotion. According to the images they've broadcast, an increasing number of Borg are attacking their own."

"You mean like a coupe of the collective? How's that possible?" Admiral Thompson looked incredulous at the idea. Borg didn't rebel. They just didn't. Present company accepted of course.

"Could be those free Borg that were being led by the android, Lore, at one time?" This came from the head of Starfleet Intelligence, a middle-aged man, softening around the mid-section. "I'd say that I'd look into it but I've fielded all of my men as it is."

"You know what," the President cut in. "I can't think about the Borg right now. From what you're telling me, Seven, they have their own problems right now so it's unlikely they're going to have any impact on the situation at hand. We have to stay focused on the Republic."

"We certainly do," replied Admiral Thompson as he moved toward one of the displays. "Because they're coming. There is no doubt about their intent. The Republic has been slowly and methodically capturing every single piece of Federation territory they come across. Every military craft or station in their path, they destroy. Mr. President, Frank, they're taking their time but make no mistake. Their goal is Earth."

"Reports indicate the other powers are in the same position," the Intel advisor added. "They're almost at Ferenganar's doorstep already.

"And anyone thinking of outfitting the fleet with cloaks, don't bother. They aren't helping the Klingons or the Romis at all."

"No, they wouldn't." All eyes turned to the until now silent figure standing nearest to the door. It was one of the newest advisors. One of the only people to be able to speak with any intelligence about the enemy.

"What is it, Commander Bala?" The President was interested in hearing the man's thoughts. The thoughts of the only being in the room to pass among these people, let alone see one.

"You've all read the information my team brought back," Bala continued. He was looking the worse for wear. A shadow had been hanging over the man ever since his return. It filled any room he entered and hung like a stench that would not clear. "Seeing through our cloaks is not an issue to them. They wouldn't think twice about it.

"You have to remember that this enemy is centuries, no, millennia ahead of us. I've seen what even their single man fightercraft can do. You want to know my thoughts, Mr. President? In my career I've seen the most powerful weapons in the quadrant and I believe that there is NO WAY that we can stand against this enemy."

The room was silent. No one had the power to pull their attention from those hooded eyes. It was the Borg that finally found the will to speak.

"If there is one thing that humanity has taught me," her demur voice intoned. "It is that resistance, no matter how futile, is never hopeless. We must endeavor to find other options."


In a secluded house, surrounded by the mountains of Alberta, a small, grey creature chuckled harshly through his protruding snout. He sat in meditation in the center of an expansive hall, two men, standing on their pointer fingers alone, on either side of him.

"Did you see it? The Commander is becoming powerful indeed. You will all be powerful, my apprentices."


Questionable moral character. It was a prerequisite for an agent in Section 31. It also seemed to fit right in with this strange new teacher they had found themselves entwined with. It would be worth it though. With this agreement, he would be able to gain the power to protect the Federation from anything. Agreement? A deal with the devil, Lieutenant Jones thought to himself. He could feel the power growing in him daily. He could also feel his soul slipping away.

Soul.

What made him think he had a soul after everything he'd done in his life.

"I must commend your little organization," Gallus praised. "However blindly they did it, they seem to have gathered together only the most strongly connected to the Force. Such a pity your culture is too primitive to realize it."

The Force. Bullshit superstition. Just like souls. Right?

Only here he was, holding himself aloft with unseen hands, listening to the whispered thoughts of others and reacting before things even happened. He couldn't believe the speed that Pellax moved with. He could believe that he could keep up even less.

Bala was by far the fastest, however, the most adept. But that was the Commander. He had always had this luck about him. He had always been oddly persuasive. Now, with the Force in the picture, it didn't seem so odd anymore.

Most strongly connected. Jones almost laughed out loud. Section 31 had weeded through the best of the best that Starfleet, and even the civilians, had to offer and then had only taken the top one percent of those. Every agent had something about them. Something more than the average Starfleet yahoo. If every agent was capable of the abilities that he was now gaining, he was glad his culture was too primitive to realize it.

Questionable moral character.

Fear began to well in the young man. Fear of the predicament he had found himself swept away in. With the fear came the flood of memories. Every face of every being he had killed in his life, guilty or innocent, came forward to stare accusingly at him. The fear doubled.

It was a feeling he didn't like. It was a feeling that made him angry...


Admiral Pooda stared across his desk at the hovering image of the ‘Alpha Quadrant', as the natives called it, and took a slow sip of the steaming drink in his hand. He watched as various blobs of different colors steadily shrank before the green wave front representing the Republic. In the room's dimmed lights, colored shadows played across his ample face. Things had been proceeding extremely well. The resistance they had met thus far had posed no real danger to any of his forces. Casualties had been minimal. In fact, more Republic forces had died of equipment malfunctions than from enemy fire.

It wouldn't be long before they had taken the entire quadrant. Once that happened the Senate could begin the process of introducing civilization. For Grand General Bastin, it would be an excellent staging ground for the rest of the new galaxy. Though as it was turning out, Pooda believed he could continue on with the forces he had and finish the job himself.

Unfortunately, as it was, they didn't yet have a complete picture of the galaxy. There was an entire quarter missing, along with most of another. It would take time for the probe droids to map out that much area. And if they continued to run into the hostility that they had been reporting so far, Pooda would have to send in a contingent. It was getting frustrating, the amount of equipment they had been losing in these unknown areas. If he was going to be forced to commit actual man power to something as trivial as mapping, he was going to make sure those men didn't put up with any crap from the locals.

The large man picked up a control wand and started the image before him zooming in. One of the blobs, the purple one, was singled out and expanded. From that, a section of stars grew to present their secrets. Once more the lights of the hologram splashed across his face and a real-time representation of the battle unfolding over the planet Quo'Nos appeared. He touched another button and the name of the planet materialized below the illusionary orb. What do you know, he had actually gotten the name right that time.

The sleek, arrow shape of the command ship ‘Hope' loomed at the edge of the system, overseeing the deployment of hundreds of Star Destroyers and other support vessels. The fleet was fanning out toward the seat of the Klingon Empire and the defenses gathered to protect it. They would surround the globe and envelope its forces in an inescapable net. From the way Admiral Tannin had carried out the rest of his advancement, there would be no quarter given until all defenders were floating in a cloud of light-choking dust.

Pooda turned his attention to the waiting swarm of the enemy. There had to be thousands of them gathered, desperately pushed back further and further until there was no choice but to make their last stand at their beloved homeworld. The Republic fleet was hopelessly outnumbered. In any other circumstance an attack like this would be pure insanity. Now, he figured Tannin would be mopping up inside of a standard day.

As the Admiral watched, the small image of the Klingon warships raced from one end of his office to the other in a first wave assault. The spacious room lit up as the two groups of combatants clashed together in a brilliant display. Starships winked out one after another and a moment later the lone man behind the desk was plunged once more into darkness.

From start to finish, this opening melee had lasted little more than thirty seconds and the Republic fleet hadn't even slowed in its course. As the mass of ships continued forward, tactical data began to stream into the air off to the right of the scene.

Seven hundred Klingon vessels had been vapourized in the charge. It was an extremely large force to be thrown away so carelessly. With all of the battles that had been fought in this galaxy so far, Pooda would have thought these aliens would have learned something. Yet, even now, they insisted on charging forward, guns blazing.

Speaking of guns blazing, the man thought as he continued to read through the feedback. They had actually managed to up the output on their torpedoes a few points. Interesting. Not that it seemed to be helping them any. The five corvettes, two medical frigates and the single destroyer that had been lost were due more to the fact that the enemy had developed the tactic of surrounding single ships with as many of their own as possible and pummeling with rapid fire artillery until one or the other was destroyed.

Even still, the destroyer, a ship named the ‘Kell', should never have been in the battle to begin with. That tub had never been fully up to spec. even when it had first left dry dock. It was a credit to the engineers and techs that it lasted as long as it did.

Now that the attacking fleet had further closed the distance to its target, hundreds of ships began to break off in earnest from each side to extend the noose around the defenders. With abandon the Klingons charged again. This time it was in full force. Thousands of ships of all classes fired as one and rushed into the Republic line at full impluse.

It was a distraction maneuver, Pooda saw. Even as the waves of warships headed to their doom, hundreds of other craft were lifting from the planet and escaping into warp.

Let them go. As much as Bastin would have him, ‘kill them all', the Senate had ordered that only their military forces were to be destroyed. Civilians were not to be touched.

Before him, the battle over Quo'Nos raged in miniature. He felt detached like this. It was as if he were some sort of god, almost as if it all wasn't real. But it was. He was one of the ones that had to know who his enemy was. They couldn't just be targets to him if he was to develop the most effective way to defeat them. He had to understand who they were and why they did what they did. The Admiral had to admit though, everything was a hell of a lot easier when you had the advantage that he did.

Klingon ships bobbed and wove through his fleet as he knew they would. It was their only chance. They had to keep inside the Republic lines and in amongst them to prevent the use of the big guns. The attackers were forced to use their anti-fighter weapons or risk damaging their own with friendly fire. It was a standard tactic. It was their only tactic.

Three winged battleships blinked out in fiery explosions under the rain of countless turbolaser batteries. It was going to take longer this way, only using the light cannons, but the outcome would be the same. Pooda just hoped he wouldn't lose too many of this ships in the process. Another twenty Klingon craft turned to vapour in a luckless charge.

He took another sip and rubbed his eyes. The lights of the hologram were beginning to give him a headache. This always happened when he watched too long and too intently. And this looked like it was going to take about as long as he had thought.

The Republic forces had now totally surrounded the planet. The big ships were all but ignoring the fighting around them. Disruptor weapons and quantum torpedoes made little difference against their shields. They would serve as the operation points for the bombing runs and the scanning and communications relays for the ground forces that would soon be landing. Generally he wouldn't think to land troops until the surrounding space was secured, and he knew Tannin wouldn't either, but these natives and their technology had a way of making one lax in the rigors of operations. It was a forgone conclusion that they would have space superiority. Waiting to land troops would just be a waste of time.

As the majority of the attacking fleet tangled themselves in the enemy swarms, dealing out death and destruction in curtain after curtain of energy, the orbiting destroyers began precision strikes of the surface. Any indication of military activity was turned to glass. To Pooda it seemed as though they fired down enough to be performing a Base Delta Zero. But these were the Klingons. The Generals would most likely be cleaning out the planet of hostiles for months.

The display flashed again as a Star Destroyer finally succumbed to the masses of enemy ships clouding it in anti-matter explosions and green energy streams. Shit, that was the ‘Devastator'. Captain Antall was a good little Boi'Rod.

Those thoughts were pushed to the side. It was a sad reminder though, that even against these primitives, casualties would still occur. Nothing and no one was invincible. The thought was exclamated by the destruction of another wave of Klingons.

By the Force! They were drying by the thousands and they just kept coming! Retreat you stupid savage fools! Retreat! Pooda found himself not only feeling sick at the terrible waste of life, but also thinking the propaganda spreading through the forces. Everyone called them savages. He had met the one, Picard, and would have argued otherwise. Now, looking at this display of carnage, useless carnage...

Damn that Bastin and his infectious words!

More Klingon ships transformed into balls of quickly extinguishing flame amid the hulking shapes of the Star Destroyers. There were still thousands of their ships however. This battle was going to last forever, even as one sided as it was.

Pooda downed the last of his drink in one long gulp and picked up his controller again. The image of Quo'Nos and its ultimate siege pulled away to the full quadrant once more. The push of another button and the yellow blob rushed to fill the room. Admiral Calram's fleet was still ignoring the Romulan homeworld in favour of capturing the rest of their territory first. The old Mon Calamari always did have a flare for the dramatic.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:47am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 12:59am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Pooda downed the last of his drink in one long gulp and picked up his controller again. The image of Quo'Nos and its ultimate siege pulled away to the full quadrant once more. The push of another button and the yellow blob rushed to fill the room. Admiral Calram's fleet was still ignoring the Romulan homeworld in favour of capturing the rest of their territory first. The old Mon Calamari always did have a flare for the dramatic.

Just then the door to the darkened office raised open, flooding the room with light and dulling the holographic chaos that was hovering throughout. Commander Wullo entered carrying a data pad, the pupils of his saucer-like, yellow eyes visibly widening to adjust to the change. Pooda's pupils closed just as quickly.

"Still no word on that Jedi that re-entered this galaxy, Sir."

"Well," the Admiral replied as his aid stood immersed in a planetary bombardment. "I don't think it really matters. She's not going to interfere and I doubt we'll hear from her. You know Jedi and their ‘Jedi business'.

"What's this," he concluded pointing to the pad.

"Request from the scientists," rasped the reply. "They want to get a closer look at some of the native human technology. The other ships have been of other species."

"So what? Tell them to wait. There'll be more than enough civilian vessels they can get their hands on once order has been brought out here."

"They're requesting a military vessel, Admiral," Wullo responded. "It will be more likely to have the highest grade of equipment. The comity fears that there won't be any left of adequate condition if they are forced to wait. They fear the people won't care about protecting anything from this galaxy for study. If you ask me, I think they're right."

"Fine, fine. Order Admiral Cole to take one of her ships out of service in Federation space so that it can play tugboat and drag some piece of junk back here." The man rolled his eyes. "I'm sure she'll love it."


Mulby took the orders from his exec's hands, read them, and shook his head. The Commander couldn't help but snicker at his captain's exasperation.

"At least we don't have to get out and mop."

The Leviathan's C.O. shot a glare that could freeze lava and looked to the ceiling for help. "You have the bridge, Commander. Let me know when we get to the good part."

"Sure," the other man replied to Mulby's back. "Give me the bug hunt and take the battle for yourself."


The sovereign class starship, USS Oracle, dropped out of warp for the fifth time. It was the fifth course change since the lone Star Destroyer had appeared out of nowhere and begun the chase. It was the fifth time they had tried in desperation to elude that pursuit.

The great grey wedge contracted in front of them once again.

"Shit!" Captain Honshu was getting frustrated. He was running out of options, out of places to run.

"Federation vessel," the bored, young sounding voice with the oddly British accent commanded over the comm for the fifth time. "Heave to and prepare to be boarded. You will not be told again."

Honshu signaled the comm to open a channel. He hadn't fired a shot yet. They weren't going to get off that easily. "Republic vessel. Blow it out your ass."

"Lieutenant Bullard," Commander Ilcha, a Bolian ordered the tactical station. "All weapons fire at will. Helm get us out from under them."

"Take us around behind them, full impulse," the captain finished.

Without a second thought, the Starfleet craft issued forth a spray of phasor fire and a volley of torpedoes into its looming opponent.


Mulby raised an eyebrow to his first officer as the attack splashed brilliantly off of the forward shields. "I certainly wasn't expecting that."

Republic gunners aboard the Leviathan went to work immediately, tracking the savage's vessel and throwing out bolt after bolt of light weapons fire. Why the big men in the grey suits weren't just turning this pissant, backwater, bucket of bolts into a plasma cloud was beyond everyone but the order had been to take all steps to capture it intact. That meant the fighter cannons. Force knew what happened when you even used an ion blast on these things.

The sovereign rocked under the constant barrage of energy, spinning in a tight roll as it rounded the edge of the massive craft and came face to face with the incredible exhaust ports. At this range, the intense blue light was all that could be seen in the main viewer.

A full spread of warheads sped into the overwhelming radiance, followed by another and another. The offending ship took every opportunity it could to take advantage of the decrease in punishment.


"Take us out of range!" Honshu hollered over the explosion of an overhead light. Another salvo of turbolaser fire sent the bridge crew reeling.

The Oracle darted away a second later, safely out of range of its foe's destructive shower. The cascade of interference rose to overcome the main viewer at this distance but at least they knew the enemy wouldn't be able to see them either. It was a welcome respite that the shields needed.


"Helm, take us out of this snowstorm. Get us out of here!"

As if by command, the jamming field dropped, revealing the monstrous Star Destroyer suspended in the distance. Just as quickly it was back. Confusion ruled the bridge for the briefest of moments until it was superceded by the voice of the captain.

"Get us out of here."

"I can't see a thing through all of this static."

"Get us out of here now!

"But I could fly us right into a star..."

"Now!"


The sovereign spun on its axes and prepared for warp only to find itself cartwheeling out of control. The crew were thrown like rag dolls until the inertial dampers finally managed to catch up.


"WAAAHAAA! Did you see that! Two second window, one shot, direct hit! The boys on the light guns can suck on that for a while!"


"Warp drive is off line, Captain." The disembodied voice of the ship's engineer reported the doom with the calm and collection that could only issue from a Vulcan. "The last blast has knocked the dilithium chamber out of alignment and ruptured a number of cooling coils. It will be several hours before we will be ready to make warp speed."

"Damn it! Tactical, give them everything we have, continuous fire on that last position. Helm, set your course straight at them. Get us behind again."


Through the main bridge viewport Captain Mulby could see the tiny speck of light that was his enemy growing larger and larger. He had fully expected to have to scan and jump after them again. That shot had been spectacular. Truly amazing.

"Gunnery officer," he called down into the pits. "Ignore the weapons fire. Disable the ship once and for all. But watch your shots. I don't want to accidently blow the thing out of space. Tractor control, be ready to catch them as they drift past.

"Commander, inform the boarding parties that they will finally be able to launch and have fighter escorts standing by."


As the Federation ship streaked forward, blazing away at its larger opponent, it met with relatively no resistance. The enemy craft had reappeared through the fog of the jamming field but was making little effort to attack. One scant turbolaser blast after another slowly stabbed out, connecting at times, flying wide at others. When the two ships were almost on top of each other, Captain Honshu ordered the matter/anti-matter spread to be fired.

The bridge crew of the Leviathan, and all forward gunners for that matter, shielded their eyes as their viewports adjusted to the powerful bombardment of radiation emitted by the explosions. The massive ship rocked slightly as its shields flared with angry response.

"Fire! Now!" Mulby hollered the order down to his gunnery officers. "Target whatever engines they have left!"

At this range the Oracle was more than close enough for the Leviathan's gunners to rely on their targeting computers. A pair of small, thin bolts shot forth, oddly lonely looking without a pack of their brethren to fly with. They connected to their destinations with deadly efficiency, sending the smaller ship drifting passed, helpless to change vector.

Now the invisible hands of the tractor beam reached out and stopped the drifting ship in its path. A second later, the direction had changed and the two craft were steadily drawn together.


"Attention all hands. This is Captain Honshu, prepare to be boarded. I repeat, prepare to be boarded."


Even as the words were spoken, three assault transports were lowering out of the Star Destroyer's docking bay and speeding for three strategic locations on their target. One would attach itself to the hull of the engineering section, another to the hull of the bridge and the last headed to the largest shuttle bay. On each ship, assault troops were being given much the same speech.

"Alright listen up!" Transport two's troop commander bellowed, his reflective, royal-blue helmet tucked under his burly arm. All of his soldiers sat in two silent rows stretching down the hold. Twenty expressionless blue masks, forty shark-like, black eyes stared back. "You've all been briefed and you all know the mission so you know that you will be outnumbered roughly ten to one. From what I know of you and them, the savages don't stand a chance. But you're going to have to stay sharp and stay tight. You got me?!"

"Sir, yes, sir!"

"Remember, we are here to take the ship, not prisoners. There are no civilians aboard and you will shoot anything not wearing Republic armour."

"Sir, yes, sir!"

"Gun them down like the primitive, murdering savages that they are."


With the interference now gone, the bridge crew of the Oracle had a perfect view of one of the small craft assailing their ship heading directly for the saucer's upper hull.

A hush filled the room so profound that the soft hum of the gravity plates competing with the lights was the only comfort for the waiting officers. They clutched their phasor rifles all the tighter as the thump of the boarding ship connecting with the outer hull reverberated around them.

"Attention," the ship's computer alerted. "Hull breaches detected on decks one and fourteen. Unauthorized landing in shuttle bay three."

"Shuttle bay three, this is the captain," Honshu began through the communication system. "Let them land and debark and then decompress the bay.

"All hands, report to security stations for deployment. Computer, isolate all command functions to senior staff only."

Through the closed doors of the captain's ready room, the sounds of invasion continued to echo. Something was cutting through the wall, that much was certain. All weapons quickly trained on the unassuming door.

Honshu looked around the room at the people standing ready. There was no cover, there was no room to maneuver, there was no semblance of a defensible position. "Everyone, get in the turbolifts," he ordered as he moved to the new location. "If they overwhelm us we can make an escape. Fall back position will be ten forward."

As the bridge turbolifts became bristling with phasor rifles, a flash of light filled the ready room, followed by the thud of five pairs of metallic feet landing from the ceiling.

The skeletal battledroids swung their blaster rifles in every direction around the room and finally announced that the beachhead had been secured. Moments later, the Republic boarding party was flooding into the room en mass. Many remained in their own craft until the others could move on to the next room and free up space.

The troopers began positioning themselves around the single door from the room and inadvertently opened it by getting too close. As the bridge beyond revealed itself, pulse phasor fire flooded into them. They weren't ready but they returned fire without hesitation and rushed through.

The first soldier to breach the door was slammed in the right shoulder and left thigh with a spray of phasor pulses. He was spun in the air and hit the floor with a crunch. The two sections of armour glowed an angry red before fading to purple and then a scorched grey. Three more of the man's companions went down in similar fashion.

For the Fed's, the further most turbolift was hit the hardest. It was little more than a death trap. All blasters that left the ready room came out trained on that position first. In the initial seconds of the attack, three officers were gunned down, along with every console between the combatants. The remaining two defenders were the first group to retreat.

In the other, closer, lift, things were only slightly better. The officers there had a perfect shot at anyone sticking anything through the door. And they used it. Invading troopers were thrown everywhere by the effects of the phasors as they poured out. In the end however, there were just too many of them. Even those enemies that had fallen were getting back up. The lift doors closed and the last of the Oracle's bridge staff were gone in a hail of energy.

Now left alone, troopers helped up their squad mates and marveled at the effect of the enemy weapon.

"It looks like it ate all the dye out of it," one man commented through his helmet as he examined his forearm. "Feels a bit weaker but its still intact."

"Its because of how the weapon works," another replied, ignoring a control panel exploding to his side. "It attacks the molecules of a material. You would know this if you actually read the info, Pemmer."

"Yeah, I read it, Shithead. I just didn't think it would suck so bad," the other shot back, pulling out his climbing gear. The turbolift had been locked out and the team would have to cut through the door and get down to the next level themselves.

"They're probably set for carbon flesh or something." The men finished fitting their climbers to their hands and knees and some were taking a look down the shaft.

"What? They didn't expect us to be in armour?"


The boarding team landed in shuttle bay three in baited silence. There was no one there. The large area was completely empty. Once again, five battledroids were deployed first to secure the landing zone but they too could fine no signs of life. When the men had disembarked, the droids took up position around the ship.

On the other side of the bay's entrance doors, a group of security officers readied themselves, one man hunched intently over a control panel, his comrade at his side studying a tri-corder.

"Alright," the man with the scanner said nervously. "They're all gathering on the other side. Drop the magnetic field."

Without an ounce of warning, the atmosphere in shuttle bay three suddenly found a gaping hole and an entire galaxy to try and fill. The Republic soldiers and their droids found themselves flying towards open space. Some managed to find hand holds until the pressure had equalized, others were able to activate the mag-grips on their boots. The remaining troopers were ejected out into the void to hurriedly fit grapplers into their rifles, fire, and drag themselves back toward their objective. They weren't going down that easy for the savages.


"Assault teams, this is Leviathan, report."

"Leviathan, this is Green leader, we have secured the bridge but all computer consoles are either dead or destroyed. We are moving to find another location to try and plug in the droid. Maybe they'll have better luck in engineering."

"This is Blue leader, Leviathan." The sound of combat issued through the commlink in the background. "My team is now making progress through the ship. We are meeting resistance but nothing we can't handle."

"This is Red leader, call me back when I'm not so busy."


Four Republic soldiers charged alertly down the barren corridor amid flashing red lights and blaring alarms. A group of savages had fled down this was after being routed from their stands in the engine room. The Feds had no discipline. They ran ahead and fired with little regard for cover or creating any sort of barricade. And they took so long to take a shot! But what could you expect. They weren't just savages, they were navy too.

As the blue clad troopers progressed to a T intersection in the labyrinth of hallways, their in-helmet displays issued a warning that stopped them in their paths. The intersection was blocked by a force field. Turning back, the men confirmed that they were now trapped.

Without a word, one of them tapped the butt of his weapon against the field, creating a haze of blue radiance. The others moved to the walls to study the interaction of the field and the solid surface. As one, they took a step back and leveled their blasters at the field emitters.

Plasma flared out and thundered against the surrounding walls. Vapourized material filled the enclosure and pieces of debris rained against the invader's armour. In seconds the force field was no more and the acrid smoke was clearing. The Republic soldiers moved on.


"Security fields aren't stopping them," a nameless ensign reported anxiously. "Decompressing the taken decks is having no effect either! Or flooding them with tetrion!"

Damn!"

Ten forward was fast filling with the survivors of the ship. No one's news was encouraging. The invaders were advancing through with incredible efficiency. Nothing was stopping them.


"Red leader to Green and Blue leaders, what's your count?" Red teams gruff lieutenant stopped at the door blocking his path. His men were digitally outlined around him within the yellow-green poison filling the air.

"Hard to say," came one reply. "Hundred fifty, two hundred maybe?"

"Yeah," said the other over the link. "Something like that. I'm slowing down though. I've lost half my men."

"Right," Red leader said as he watched his men set their charges on the door. "Why don't we converge on the forward mess hall. We can start another sweep from there."

"Copy that."

"Copy. Out."

Red teams leader turned his attention back to the task at hand. With a signal to his men, the door barring their way was transformed into dust and the deadly air they were in flooded ahead.

Predictably, the ship's computer adjusted the ventilation system to prevent the gas in the hallway from entering the protected section. Even easier to predict was the volley of pulsed phasor fire that issued through the opening.

The Republic invaders watched patiently from the cover of their cloud as the Starfleet officers fired blindly. When the impotent onslaught had finally stopped, a single thermal detonator was tossed in response. The invaders stepped back as a massive gout of flame exploded from the gaping door.


Two troopers from Blue team's Alpha squad waited as their small spy droids floated around the corner ahead of them. Immediately the tiny globes whipped back into view followed by a battery of phasor blasts. They hadn't even had a chance to link with the droids to see how many hostiles there were.

Checking their ammunition levels, the soldiers positioned themselves at either side of the corridor and risked a quick glance in either direction. They were greeted by another volley from down the passage.

Wasting no time, one man pulled a detonator from his belt while the other made ready to round the corner. With the flick of a wrist, the explosive device was arching down the corridor into the midst of the defenders. The sounds of retreat could be heard mere seconds before plasma filled the surrounding area.

With a steadying breath, the ready soldier rounded the corner and opened fire into the smoke filled hall, his companion not far behind. The two continued their barrage as they pressed forward. They could see no targets, but until they had passed the choking blind spot they would give as much discouragement as they could.

On the other side of the broken, charred and body part strewn passage, the savages were waiting. The cover fire had helped but it was too random to be totally effective. Phasors immediately came to life at the first sign of the attackers. It was a dazzling array of pulses and streams that made the two Republicans dive for whatever protection they could find.

To the right, the trooper had escaped relatively unharmed. He rolled to a crouch and began gunning down anything and everything that he could see. Pieces of wall disappeared in puffs of vapour along side pieces of Federation officers and enlisted. He rolled forward again and continued pressing the assault. As usual, the savages offered one last return of fire and then ran for their lives.

The trooper on the left side of the hall was not so lucky. As his counterpart peppered the corridor with red blasts, his armour was disintegrating in a red glowing endothermic reaction. Heat scorched his body beneath as the plating was consumed. Once he was exposed, another stream of a different setting struck him and the man's tissue was slowly devoured by the same effect. His agonized screams seemed to hang in the air as he disappeared, leaving nothing but the remains of his armour.

With a grunt and a snarl, the remaining invader got to his feet and tossed another thermal detonator around the next corner. Surprisingly, the force of the blast didn't travel back on him but seemed to pull him onward.

"Shit," the man growled to himself as he hurriedly activated his mag-grips. "Must have breached the hull. Oh, well."

Once all of the air had finally left the area, he moved to inspect his handy work. A field had been quickly erected by the ship to plug the hole, but not quickly enough. The Federation forces were drifting away lifelessly into the blackness of eternity. Those few that had been at the end of the corridor protected by the safety field now stared at him with hate filled eyes.

The soldier checked his oxygen supply and weapon energy clip level and looked from the yawning rupture to where the few remaining pieces of his friend's armour had once been. A smile crossed his lips beneath the expressionless blue helmet. With only a moments hesitation to give a friendly wave to his enemies, the man targeted the force field emitters and began to fire.


"Someone's decompressing deck nine, one section at a time!"

"That's it," Honshu exclaimed as the last group he had sent out reported that they were once again falling back. They were being slaughtered. "Computer, initiate auto destruct sequence. Authorization Honshu, beta, gamma, tau, phi."

He looked around for a surviving member of his senior staff to confirm the order. The lieutenant at tactical was all who remained. Before the order could be seconded however, the ship's computer interrupted.

"Auto destruct can not be initiated," it reported passively. "Reactor coolant eject valves have been manually locked."

"Shit!" The captain closed his eyes and let out a slow and steady breath.

"What do we do now, Captain?"

"We fight and we die."


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:32am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 01:03am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"Don't you think it's weird that there are humans just like us in this galaxy?" Private Morae's question buzzed through his mottled gray helmet. "Who do you figure were first?"

Orange-red energy fire blazed all around the outcropping of rock he and his companion were positioned behind. Another nameless rock in a nameless territory of a nameless planet. At least he didn't know the name anyway. But that was life as a Republic trooper. It didn't matter where you were, every place looked the same after a while anyway.

"I don't know, man," Private Sleed pulled himself back down under cover amid another barrage of enemy fire. "Just shut the fuck up and cover me like you're supposed to."

Sleed changed frequencies in his helmet and began speaking to someone more distant. "Purple One, this is Purple Three. We have the enemy's position at three zero niner but the spy globe was spotted." A chunk of the rock above his head exploded in a brilliant flash. "Getting everyone over here on the double would be much appreciated."

"Copy that Purple Three," their sergeant's voice came through in their ears. "Commence engagement. We're not far."

Morae ducked back from where he had been firing and pointed over to another boulder. "I'm going to make a break for that position. I don't want them to start flanking us."

"Right," the other answered. "Ready? GO! NOW!"

As his partner darted from the relative safety of their outcropping, Sleed peppered the area with a constant assault from his blaster rifle. All he cared about was keeping his enemy's head down. To that end, the soldier focused his ire on any movement he saw.

Morae's dash was successful. With a dive and roll he was ready once more in his new position, rifle aimed at an exposed thigh. There was a flash of light and the clap of air rushing in at the speed of sound to fill a vacuum, and the bolt from the trooper's weapon streaked forward. An instant later a scream erupted and a badly burned leg was being quickly retracted into cover.

The return fire that followed was intensified ten fold. Everywhere the two troopers looked gleamed with explosive phasor impacts. This distraction didn't deter the men's helmet sensor enhanced hearing from picking up the telltale crunch of feet hurrying forward.

"Shit, they're advancing!" Sleed poked his head out from cover for a volley of shots. "They had better hurry the hell up or I'm braking out the thermal detonators."

"Settle down, Private!" The Sergeants voice boomed in his ear. "I told you we weren't far."

As if on cue, two large metal wheels rolled around the rocks behind them and continued past, straight into the Federation's position. The sight of this seemed to take the enemy soldiers somewhat aback. Were these bombs or vehicles? Who's side were they on? All questions were answered in the next second.

As the wheels came to a stop in the midst of the Starfleet soldiers, they unfolded to reveal the three-legged, multi-weaponed agents of destruction that they were. In the next instant the droids' shields were up and they were laying waste to the enemy encampment. The melee took all of five seconds. No one was left standing.

Morae smiled in his helmet. "Destroyers! Now that's what I'm talkin' about!"


"General, new reports have come in from the southern front." The young Major stepped quickly to keep up. They seemed to be getting younger all the time.

"Good or bad, Tromi?" General Kira stopped and turned to face the man. Two others pushed hurriedly past in the cramped corridor. "No, scratch that. It doesn't matter. Now what is it?"

Kira braced herself for the worst. News was always bad these days. The Republic's invasion had come as a shock to most of the Alpha quadrant. Not Bajore. They were use to that sort of thing by now. They had expected the wormhole to draw attention to them right away, as usual. Oddly, it hadn't. The great grey Star Destroyers appeared above the planet at the same speed they appeared above every other planet.

The relatively heavy concentration of starship activity accompanied with the defense of, and commerce through, the wormhole had meant time for the war weary people of Bajore to, at least, ready themselves for the fight they had ahead of them. Since then, it had been all down hill.

When the troops had finally landed, the defense force had been as ready as they were ever going to be. They were simply out gunned. No one had ever come up against towering, mobile death platforms. No one had ever fought against killing machines. It had taken until Kira had actually seen an enemy corpse in person before she could believe that they weren't all androids.

She had fought and defeated the Cardassians, the Klingons, and the Jem'Hadar, she could beat these humans. No matter where they were from.

"The enemy has now advanced as far as Nashian city and scout walkers and hover cycles have been spotted in the area of Bel'Otha. Our troops managed to ambush the walkers but the bikes were too fast for us." The Major delivered his report and stood back to let more passers through.

"That doesn't matter," the General stated tiredly as she held out her hand for the data pad with the full details. "They aren't going to come after us in Bel'Otha any faster then anywhere else because of it. They'll just keep advancing their position like they have been all along. What we need to worry about is them finding out the location of our command centers. Like I've said before, anywhere they find out we're holding up is going to be blasted to ash from orbit in seconds."

"Yes, General."


The monstrous foot thundered down meters from Lana's hiding place. That's right you bastards, come on, just one more step.

Whatever the Bajoran defender was waiting for occurred. One moment he was nothing more than another pile of rubble, the next he was standing tall, rocket launcher aimed squarely up at the walker's underbelly. Without a second's hesitation the soldier fired his weapon and smacked the communicator on his chest.

"This is Lana," he shouted into the air. One of the scout walkers had spotted him. "Get me out of here!"

Blaster fire rattled the area harmlessly as Lana was beamed away. Once he was back in the hidden transporter staging area, along with all of the others that had just carried out similar attacks, he automatically began tearing down the gear and packing up.

"Three, two, one... The antimatter got ‘em!" One of the lookouts, he couldn't be more than fourteen, announced as the muffled explosions gave their own explanations. The boy pulled his binoculars from his face and looked back to those in the room. "We got five of them!"

Those in the hidden chamber gave little more than a glance in payment. They were too busy. The transporter needed to be torn down and they needed to bug out. Experience had taught them that they had about ten minutes. Probably six this time.

A second boy pulled his phasor rifle to the small opening in the wall where he held position. "We've got three Reapers on bikes closing in." He began to raised the weapon to his cheek, not taking his eyes from his intended target.

"Hey," Lana's gravelly voice cut from across the room. His stalked over to the youth with the piece of equipment he had been packing still in his hands. "Where'd you get that!"

"I got it from my fa..." The boy shifted back involuntarily, confused by the aggression.

"No, no," the older resistance fighter berated as he grabbed the weapon. "Don't use that. Use this."

He pulled a ‘liberated' blaster rifle from its place against the wall and handed it to the boy. "It'll get through their armour in one shot. Watch it though, it's got a kick you're not used to."

Not waiting to be told, the young warrior aimed his new weapon and opened fire. Three grey clad scout troopers flew back off of their bikes in quick succession. The unmanned vehicles began twisting and spinning at the mercy of their wild controls. One speeder rocketed into the air and disappeared. It would come back to the ground. Eventually. The second met its end against the face of a collapsed walkway after completing a tight barrel roll. The final bike made a lazy turn that fast became a vortex of increasingly smaller circles. In seconds it plunged into the ground and exploded. The boy watched to whole display. Just a month ago he had wasted time with his friends in that exact spot.

"Let's go, let's go." A woman, the leader of this little brigade, was shouting and waving her arm toward the hungry black shadow that would lead them all to the transit tunnels. The tunnels were crawling with Reapers but they'd be a hell of a lot safer than being in the open air.

Lana grabbed both boys by the backs of their necks and hauled them to their feet. Pushing extra energy clips into their hands, he picked up his own pack and herded any stragglers into the waiting nightmare.

"Why do we call them ‘Reapers'," one of the teens asked to no one in particular. He rushed to keep up with the rest of the group, his eyes darting around with nervous energy.

"The Human's made it up," a slim man with dirty stubble answered distractedly. "They used to believe that a being known as The Grim Reaper was the one that brought death to them. Republican, Rep, Reppie, Reaper. Kind of fitting, don't you think kid?"

The conversation was muted as the team reached the oppressive confines of the maze-like system that once took them anywhere they would have gone. A mix of sweat, mold and rotting flesh filled the stagnant air. It was an assault to their ridged noses only heightened by the lack of light.

A dozen small lanterns suddenly broke through the inky darkness. A dozen columns of light stabbed forth illuminating the crumbling cement. A dozen beacons shone like invitations to anyone waiting in the unseen surroundings. The Bajorans readjusted their burdens and assured themselves that their weapons were ready at a moments notice.

"I don't like this," the slim man commented about the blaring lights.

"Don't worry about it," the commanding woman answered back in a mumbled tone. "They can see in the dark anyway."

The rag-tag group started off into the seemingly infinite blackness with no sense of order whatsoever. The lights they projected did almost nothing to show them their way, instead tapering off down the tunnel to disappear as pin pricks without reflecting off of anything more than concrete dust. Around them, the muffled thunder of the lumbering walkers above echoed like the heartbeats pounding in everyone's ears. A shower of pebbles and debris was added to the already heavy air.

There was no specific destination that they were heading. Preplanned destinations could be discovered. Prearranged routes could be tracked. As long as it was far from their starting point it didn't matter where they went.

After fifteen minutes of marching, turning randomly down three different passages and dousing the lights for seven different false alarms, the rebels found themselves in a partially caved in transit loading area. The aged graffiti in the wall greeted each one of them as they cautiously entered in single file. THE PROPHETS HATE YOU.

"Why haven't we been attacked yet?" A woman wearing a patchwork of scavenged armour plates looked around the platform and raised a tricorder. She was the only human among the Bajoran soldiers. To think, she had come to this planet for spiritual enlightenment.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," the slim man added as he scratched his dusty stubble.

"That's enough of that talk," the commander barked as she closed her own sensor and pulled her pack from her tired shoulders with a grunt. "We rest here. You, you, set up watch at either entrance to the tunnels. Nobody makes any excess noise. Eat something and get some sleep everyone."

Lana put the equipment he had been lugging onto the pile and pulled a small piece of dried meat from his belongings. His blaster rifle was rested across his lap as he sat down and leaned against a battle-scared wall. The weapon never left his side. Not in days like these.

"What do you think," he asked a stout, muscular man that had took up beside him.

"Can't say," came the response. "I've personally never been down here this long without killing someone. I don't know if it's a trap though. You'd need to get a lot more than us to make it worth while."

"Well I highly doubt we've killed all of the Reapers down here," someone called across the area, forgetting himself and his surroundings. "Not to mention the robots. For the Prophets' sake, you drop one of the two legged one's and a tripod rolls up! Drop that and the next one has shield generators!"

"Hey!" Three voices hissed at once.

"Shut that," the commander ordered in hushed tones of unveiled anger.

The man had lost it. He stood up looking around at his comrades with the expression of a drunken fool watching clowns.

"What," he shouted, raising his arms in disbelief. "Let them come! It'd be better than just sitting around waiting to get killed!"

"Shut up!" One of the boys was looking back from his post, a hand raised for attention.

"Let them come!" The rebel's voice echoed into the shadows like the death toll of a temple bell. "Let the bloody Reapers come!"

"No," the young one persisted. "Shut up. I hear something." No one was listening.

"What are you gunna do?" The manic dared everyone with his sweeping gaze. He was reaching for the phasor at his hip.

The commander's weapon discharged before anyone else could even hope to reach their's. With one last defiant scream, the man was vapourized one layer at a time. The image of the gap-mouthed skeleton would haunt more than one nightmare, that was certain.

"Damn," Lana growled to the friend at his side. "He had a knife on him I wanted to take."

"Shhhh!" The boy could take no more. He didn't care what he had just seen, only what he was hearing. "Does anyone else hear that?"

The landing suddenly went silent. No one moved. Everyone cocked their head. Nothing. There was no sound.

"Do you hear that buzzing," he asked again.

Still, there was only the sound of aging cement and tightening muscles. Those with tricorders were now pulling them out. Beeping and twitering soon replaced the emptiness.

"We definitely have life signs coming this way," the human woman read out. "They sure as hell ain't human though."

"I'm picking up sixty individuals," another put in. "Can you confirm that?"

"So the Reapers left and filled the tunnels with something else?"

"No," Lana grunted as he rose and checked his ammunition level. "The Reapers didn't leave, they were relieved." The buzzing was loud and clear now.

"Ok people," the commander jumped to automatic action. "We don't have any time here. Two people, start rigging up the transporter. The rest of you get positioned to give them cover. Don't wait for a sign from above, when you see them, start shooting."

It didn't take long for the so-called replacement forces to begin belching out of the dark recesses of the underground transit way. They came on gossamer wings beating too fast to be seen and fired their blasters as if they were needed to light their way. Thinking that would be a grave mistake. These creatures spent most of their lives underground.

Three of the freedom fighters immediately sailed back from the mouth of the tunnel, smoldering chest wounds holding back the flow of blood for seconds before the red life fluid burst through the char to stain the shadowed ground. Another man was plucked into the air and dropped onto his comrades. His lack of protest was soon explained by the gaping slash across his throat.

Coming to their senses amid the onslaught of insectoid aliens, the remaining soldiers of the line spat out their own energy fire. To add to their desperate attempt to remain among the living they tossed a volley of home made explosives blindly in the direction of the brutal advance. Lana had even found the presence of mind to retrieve the launcher that had served him so well earlier. One look at the antimatter ordinance he was about to load, however, and the confined space of the subterranean battleground, and he thought better of it.

Clip upon clip littered the floor with splattered alien blood, shards of exo-skeleton and red hot chunks of concrete from the ceiling. For their own part the attackers rained down more than just their dead. Those of the swarm that had escaped the explosion in the tunnel soon crowded the heights of the landing. Many even began touching down on reverse articulated legs, squawking and clicking to each other. They fired from all angles and all directions.

It was a killing zone of incredible degree. The air was thick with the red glow of blaster bolts, the orange of continuous phasor streams and the stench of cooking flesh. The attackers, having little room to maneuver in such mass were powerless to find more cover than that of their own comrades. The defenders found themselves in an energy shower that made the walkers look appealing.

"Where's that transporter!" The thin soldier pulled back behind what was once the wall of a public washroom and tied off a dirt encrusted piece of clothe around his blackened upper arm.

"Almost there," the three would-be technicians shouted back. "Just keep up the cover! Shit!" One of the three dropped headless to the dusty tile.

"Hurry it up," Lana growled, squeezing off a burst before ducking next to the remaining teen that still drew breath. The kid had taken his advice to heart and pummeled his targets with their own weapon.

"They're not wearing armour," the human woman called from her position close to the half assembled transporter. "These ones aren't wearing armour! Wide beams! Use your phasors!"

She was right. The insects weren't clothed in much more than leather and weaponry. Those of the team still able grabbed any phasor they could find, tapped a few buttons and began washing the tunnel in glowing fields of red and orange. Republic troops dropped as if turned off by switch. The odds had finally evened.

A holler erupted from the Bajorans as they watched their enemy fall and their hopes rise. A few even stood up, only to be gunned down by the attackers that had found cover. One of them spun into the putrid air to land at the feet of the transporter team. Gluts of blood and gore painted the equipment and produced small storms of sparks. The battle wasn't over by a long shot.

The grizzled fighter and his young companion switched back to their blasters as the enemy regrouped and began to advance once more. This time they stayed out of the air, only flittering back and forth enough to get from one pile of rubble to the next. They had powerful legs but they obviously didn't do much walking. They wouldn't be doing much flying around very soon either.

Lana turned another piece of wall into shrapnel and rushed for the transporter. Those around him sent deadly beams of phasor fire for protection. Three aliens were thrown on their backs, chests glowing intensely. They cried out in mortal pain before going silent forever.

"Kid," the man shouted back to where he had left the boy saturating a group of opponents. He was still laying there, taking time to aim with great care. What could he possibly be trying to hit?

"Get over here!"

The boy didn't move. So intent was he on his target that he didn't seem to register anything around him.

"Kid, we're ready. Let's go!" One of the transporter techs waved an arm as his friend made one last modification to the equipment. He wouldn't leave this behind without a surprise for their guests.

"Screw it," the commander said from the ground where she lay bleeding. "Beam him out now. Get us all out of here."

"Right," the reply came back. "Here's hoping we find some place friendly. We aren't going to get another trip."

With a moment of button pushing the boy faded from view in a cloud of blue radiance. Soon after, every other rebel disappeared in like fashion. The Republic soldiers swarmed over to the strange device that had enabled the escape, just in time to see a bank of lights flash their warning. If they could have read Bajoran they would have understood that the Federation equipment was catastrophically overloading.

On the surface, thunder rumbled from below instead of above. The shockwave rippled through the city, collapsing much of the transit tunnel system within thirty blocks and creating swaths of destruction that caught more than one scout walker in its clutches.

In the hills outside of the city, the tired and wounded remains of the tiny resistance band pulled themselves together and looked to the sky as a trio of bombers streaked high overhead.

"Come on, Kid, get up," the slim, stubbled man gave a nudge to the young man with his foot. He didn't move.

"Come on Kid, we've got to get out of the open." Lana walked over and knelt beside the motionless figure. He grabbed the kid by his bug-infested hair and yanked up. "Shit," was all he muttered as he let the head fall lifelessly back to the unforgiving ground.

The grim face of the youth had rolled to the side so that all could see. A shard of cement had impacted into his brain. He had died firing his weapon, his blood mixing with his rage to cloud his vision. His body had continued firing long after the nerve endings in his brain had.


"It's these fucking Bajorans, Byl," the general ranted through the holotransmitter. "They've mined and trapped the whole damn planet! You can't walk into a building down here without it falling down on top of you! I mean, I've gone through so many droids I might as well be lining them up and shooting them myself!"

"Settle down, Trav, settle down." The captain of the Star Destroyer Maxim, now in charge of the Bajoran pacification and the wormhole above it, couldn't help but laugh at his old friend, even with the seriousness of the situation. "I know what you're going through. Who cares about droids? I've got a whole cargo bay full of them. Now, what's your operation status?"

"Don't give me that Bantha shit," the image of the tightly trimmed beard and muscular torso shot back. "You have no idea what's going on, sitting up there at your little desk. How's that paper cut healing?" The man grabbed the bridge of his nose and took a breath.

"Alright," he continued. "We've taken seventy-seven percent of the planet but secured only about forty. The natives are proving extremely resourceful and quite adept at guerilla warfare. And I don't think it's going to get any easier. Even their children are fighting us, damn it! Rocks?! When they have nothing else, they throw rocks! I am a soldier! I do not kill children, Byl. I can't believe these savages would have their children fight us."

Byl took in the tirade with patients. "And how are the forces from Genoesis holding up?" He knew the answer but it was always better to hear it from the people who actually lived it. Not mention the fact that it would distract his friend and make him focus.

"Not bad, I suppose. They are certainly well suited for the city tunnels and the mountain caves. I just wish that they'd put on some fucking armour.

"So, did they make you a Moff yet or what?"


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:30am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 01:08am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"I still don't understand any of this," Commander Riker grumbled to his captain, frustrated at the events devastating his Federation and his impotence to stop them.

"Nor I, Number One," the older man replied as the two stepped on to a turbolift.

They were on their way to the Enterprise's largest meeting chamber. Awaiting them were many of Starfleet's last remaining men and women of command. Those skilled or lucky enough to keep their ships and their lives in the face of the Republic's unstoppable war machine.

The President of the Federation and many members of the council would also be there. Having fled from Earth and a multitude of other worlds before the arrival of their invading enemy, they vainly tried to keep a semblance of their once great government even though they had no place but an outlaw fleet to govern from and no worlds left to govern. It was still a comfort to look to them though. They represented the continuance of the Federation in the face of adversity. They represented a leadership that would not be cowed. It was something that those who would be fighting needed.

"They've marched across the quadrant claiming every planet they pass and destroying everyone that stands against them. And for what," Riker continued. "More of our people died aboard the Plato than their's. We try to find a reason for the explosion and they ignore our requests for help and simply attack. We try to reason with them as the proceed on their rampage and they ignore us every step of the way."

"You are now citizens of the Inter-Galactic Republic," Picard absent-mindedly recited, watching the lights of the turbolift flick by the levels of the ship. "I am afraid we may never know the reasons for this invasion until we have been completely engulfed and it is too late."

"But they won't even explain it when we ask!" The commander felt like punching the wall. Luckily the door opened to let them out before any damage could be done.

"That's because they don't care. You're taking for granted that because they are human they should be like us. The truth is, we no very little about them or their culture. We obviously woke a dragon with that wormhole and angered it with the explosion of the Plato. All we really know is that Luke Skywalker was a very important man to them and that his death was something that they could not stand for. I would have hoped that they would think more rationally but that is not the case."

"And the fact that they ARE human," the first officer cut in. "You'd think that they would be curious about us being here, but they don't seem to care about that either."

"Can you blame them? They've quite handily wiped the floor with us. They have all the time they need now to make whatever discoveries they wish."

The men finally found themselves at a door like any other on the ship. It slid open at their approach to reveal a massive theater filled with Starfleet officers and Federation officials alike. Through the bay window that encompassed the entire opposite wall, hundreds of vessels could be seen floating along side their flagship, the chaotic writhing of the Brier Patch competing for attention in the background.

All eyes shot back for a quick glance at the last two arrivals. The looks followed as they made their way down the aisle to the long table at the front of the room. As the captain and first officer of Starfleet's premier vessel, they had a place reserved along side the President, the council members and a select few advisors.

The Federation ‘s Commander-in-Chief noted Picard and Riker taking their places and cut short his conversation with Commander Bala, now his most trusted aid. He was a man with an intense, observant way about him. Missing nothing, revealing less.

"Gentlemen, Ladies," he began, raising his hand for attention. "Can we get started please?" When the room had settled into a courteous hush and all eyes were firmly placed on him, he continued.

"It is a dark time for the United Federation of Planets, as we are all painfully aware. Our territory has been annexed, Earth, the seat of our government has been captured, our military has been all but decimated and we have been thrown into hiding at the risk of our very lives. As we are forced to watch our homes and families slip away, placed under boot by invaders with seemingly no regard for peace, fellowship or our way of life, it is a time for mourning.

"We have nowhere to turn for aid. Our neighbours, some enemies, some friends, are all in the same predicament. From what limited intelligence reports are still coming in, Chancellor Martok is dead and what's left of the Klingon High Council is in exile as we are. The Romulan Senate as well. They are relatively intact however. They were apparently whisked into hiding the moment their borders were crossed. The Ferengi, the Gorn, the Breen; have all been brought down. The Shelliak military is all but wiped out.

"But this is not a time to sit on our haunches and feel sorry for ourselves. This is not a time to give in to the fear and oppression that is gripping our hearts. We must not lose hope! We can not lose hope. We will find a way, some way, some how, to restore the Federation to its former glory." The once leader of billions of lives looked into the faces of the assembly and managed a smile to the borg woman who had recently reminded him of that.

"We are here," he continued, "like many other groups of survivors, to plan our next course of action. It's clear that we have no chance standing up to the Republic face to face."

The floor was opened to everyone's thoughts. The first one to speak was a tiny, masculine woman with short cropped brown hair and hard, unforgiving eyes..

"So far the only thing that seems to be working is attacking in numbers," she announced. "Their shields are too strong unless we hit one ship with everything. But that's leaving everyone open to attacks from other enemies. It's good for ambushing a couple at a time or attacking some of their weaker convoys but we'll still never stand up in a straight fight."

A murmur of agreement rippled through the room. To date, this was one of the only tactics that had been effective. And it had cost them dearly.

"There has to be a better answer that just throwing ourselves blindly at any enemy ship we come by," a burly, grey bearded man interjected.

"Like what," another, Captain Johannas, put in. "We just can't generate the kind of power necessary. Not from a ship mounted weapon anyway." Johannas was a pragmatic man, a scientist's scientist. He and his crew, not to mention a number of other captains of the same mindset, had been working on finding a way past the Republic's shield technology around the clock. Even with the intelligence data brought from the other side, the simulations were all the same.

"Anyone here know how to make a Genesis Device?" It was more of a joke than any real suggestion. Those who actually knew what the young commander who had made the comment was talking about shook their heads and rolled their eyes. Little known by the public, the Federation had been trying to duplicate the experiments of Doctor Marcus since the detonation of the prototype so long ago. In the past few years it had been given up as a waste of resources.

A middle-aged woman with red hair pulled back in the tight bun of a Victorian schoolmistress rose to her feet and took a sip of her coffee.

"If there is one thing that my experiences in the Delta quadrant have taught me," Captain Katherine Janeway began with a quick glance down to her first officer and borg friend for support. "It's that we can't approach this situation with a negative attitude."

Glances were exchanged all over the vast hall. If Janeway dragged out the Delta quadrant card one more time someone was going to shoot her. Even Picard and Riker passed slight smiles back and forth.

"There must be a way," she continued despite the drop in attention. "Perhaps if you let the rest of us take a look at your results?"

"Give me a break Janeway," Johannas snorted. The tall, hawkish man leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. "I am a doctor of both advanced quantum mechanics and warp field theory, one of my lieutenants won the Dillora Melbourn award for advancement in subspace particle generation, and that's not even mentioning the works of captains Del Costa and Hortez. We are people who have devoted our lives to science for the past decade, not coming home from across the galaxy. If your crew could possibly have anything to add, I'd like to hear it."

No one moved except to follow the scientists stone glare back to the female captain. Her mouth dropped as she lost her train of thought, taken aback by the harsh words. Voyager's commander leapt to his feet to stand defensively beside her.

Janeway's expression turned from surprise to anger as Commander Chakotay chided the gathering. "This is ridiculous! Fighting amongst ourselves will get us nowhere! How can you possibly imagine that you can dismiss another's ideas at a time like this?!" He took in the crowd with a challenging stare that had brought mercenaries and killers into line. "You are Starfleet officers. Use those Starfleet brains of yours and think outside the box!

"You have always been the ones to call the shots. Well, now the tables have turned. You are the outlaws now. We are incredibly outmatched, so let's get creative. If we can't get through their shields, maybe we can find a way around them."

"What, exactly, do you think we've been doing, Commander?" Another of the scientists spat.

"Yes," Janeway interrupted, finding strength in her first officer, letting her anger toward the other captain fuel her. "Considering you impounded the original Voyager and now we don't have access to the weapons and shield technology that we had incorporated into her. Technology that could very well have been our saving grace."

"I don't think so, Captain," an aging admiral countered with a sidelong glance to the President. "We pulled the original Voyager, with all of her advanced technology, out of the research docks at the beginning of all this. We sent her to the battle of Omega Tau Six with Steve Prat at the helm. I know you weren't around at the time but Captain Prat was one of our greatest assets during the Dominion War." Many heads in the room nodded at the assessment of Prat's abilities.

"Do you remember the battle of Omega Tau Six, Captain?"

Confusion crossed Janeway's face like a cloud blocking the moon. She hadn't been anywhere near that battle.

"Does anyone here remember what happened to our forces at Omega Tau?" The admiral let the room fall silent. Everyone knew what he was getting at but no one dared interrupt.

"No, of course not. No one at the battle of Omega Tau Six was left alive to report back." The last statement hung in the air like a coyote's cry, reminding all once again who it was they were fighting.

Voyager's captain regrouped and would not be daunted. "Perhaps if we were to find the frequency of their shield harmonics," she offered, beginning to find new excitement in the thought process.

"Their shields don't have harmonics," Captain Johannas countered. He had straightened up in his chair as if sitting on trial. It was his classic position for technical debate.

"Maybe if we were to get through their shields in one small location we could beam in an explosive device..."

"No. Their hull material contains too much duterium to beam through. I though we were all given the intelligence reports?"

"Ok, what if we reconfigured our main deflector arrays to emit bursts of quantum particles..."

Johannas rolled his head back in exasperation. "That do what? What exactly do you expect these magic particles to do? Would you like them to eat away at their shields and use the energy to destroy them? I swear, the nonsense that comes streaming out of people's mouths in this organization boggles my mind!"

Voyager's captain was fumming. Desperate to cling to control of her emotions in front of her peers, she slumped, defeated, into her seat and grabbed the bridge of her nose.

"Does anyone have anything to contribute that might help," someone asked. They weren't making progress.

"I have a suggestion," a young captain spoke up from the back rows. "I'm not sure how well everyone's going to like it, but it's a suggestion."

He swallowed once and scanned the room before uttering the simple words. "Subspace weaponry."

The briefest, most undistinguishable smile played itself out across Bala's lips. An instant later the hall broke down into chaos.

Mutters became hushed arguments. Hushed voices became louder. Loud voices became shouts as one officer or another strained to be heard over the throng. The mounting wave finally crested with Picard's hammering fist on the table before him.

"Order," he bellowed with the authority of a life time of being obeyed. "There will be order here!"

The demand cut through the cacophony like a laser. All voices fell silent. All eyes turned to regard the Enterprise's captain as if it were a room full of school children caught in the act of some debase practical joke. A moment passed before anyone had the presence of mind to sit.

"While that is a valid suggestion, I for one do not see the wisdom in laying waste to our own territory just to rid us of our invaders. What will we have left to go home to?" Picard looked around the gathering, holding back the tide of voices with will alone.

"Yeah," a commander agreed. "Didn't we decide against weapons of mass destruction a couple hundred years ago? And these are particularly unpredictable." The dam broke anew.

"People, people!" This time it was Janeway who raised her hands for the crowds attention, once again trying to assert herself. "The Federation was founded on certain ideals." Chakotay became distracted by the interplay of electric discharge through the window beyond. He had heard this speech a number of times before.

"It is those ideals that have lead us and shaped us into the society we are today. A society that has set aside its baser tendencies and strives to live in peace and goodwill. We don't always live up to those ideals but once we start setting them aside whenever it suites us, we fall away from all we have worked for. Allowing ourselves to use subspace weapons would be throwing away everything that we are."

"I tend to agree," said Picard. "Allowing ourselves to use weapons that we have all condemned others for may very well cost us a price that we will not be willing to pay."

Riker looked up at his captain and shook his head silently. He couldn't disagree with the older man more. This was an idea that actually had a chance to help them in their cause. War was hell. It was that simple. They all should be aware of that fact now. This was not the time for soft stomachs and softer resolve. He would not contradict his superior officer in public, however, and instead held his tongue. The Enterprise would always be a united front.

Down the table, Bala leaned in to murmur in the President's left ear. "This is ridiculous Frank. We're having our asses handed to us and they're talking about ideals. Desperate times, Mr. President, desperate times."


"And now the President is endorsing the use of those damn weapons," Picard barked into his whiskey. This was the real stuff. He needed it.

The dark skinned bartender gave him her undivided attention. Ten forward was all but empty at this time but she would have never given him anything less. Not this man. "Desperate times call for desperate measures, Captain Picard."

The bald man shot a look at her that would have cracked granite. "If one more person tells me that, Ginan, I'm going to have them flushed out the air lock!" He downed his glass in one gulp.

"I take it he has support on this," the ageless woman commented, knowing full well the answer. She rarely asked questions of people she didn't already know the answer to.

"Yes," Picard snapped back. "Even among the crew of this very ship!"

"Commander Riker IS a man of action," Ginan noted. She was now absent mindedly rubbing down the already spotless counter top. "And you know he's always been one to take advantage of whatever was at his disposal to overcome a challenge. So the two of you disagree on this issue. That's what First Officers are for, isn't it?"

"But Will is also a rational, intelligent human being. How can he throw forethought away like this? He knows the effects of these weapons as well as anyone. They'll probably destroy more of our own ships than theirs for god's sake!"

"I agree with you, Jean-Luc." The woman raised her hands defensively but never altered the tone of her voice. "I've seen enough nasty things in my time to know that once you open up this kind of box, once you start down this path, there's no turning back. Not completely anyway.

"And we've heard nothing from the Republic besides claims of ownership in the name of the Republic?" Ginan was trying to change the subject.

"Nothing more," the captain sighed. "They are not interested in communications and something tells me that they are all wishing that we'd rather fight. This is like some cruel game of Q's." Picard took another sip and shook his head.

"Do you really think the Q are involved in all of this?" The question turned Picard on his stool. He was now looking into the eyes of the ships doctor.

"No Beverly, but I wish he was. Somehow it would all be simpler if this was one of his practical jokes."

"Come, Jean-Luc, why don't you forget about all of this for an hour and have dinner with me." Beverly could see the stress taking its toll on her friend.

Picard ignored her. "Some joke. Q, are you listening," he shouted. "Is this your doing?! Are you behind this?!"

Ten forward remained still, with only the hum of the deck plates to answer. Nothing appeared except a flash of lightning from the Brier Patch through the windows.

"You always touted that you wanted to help us, to atone for your past misdeeds. Well now's your chance! Q!"

"Jean-Luc," Dr. Crusher persisted. "I don't think we can appeal for the aid of superior beings..."

"Why not," he interrupted heatedly. "He's disrupted our lives enough times."

Picard turned to face the doctor. "And speaking of superior beings, what about you doctor? Where's that damn son of yours?!"

Ginan watched the outburst silently, remembering back to her childhood. Back to her history lessons. A certain account of a wormhole opening into another galaxy millennia ago.


The cargo hold of the Republic freighter, Chilco, was never designed to be environmentally hospitable. Light was minimal, temperature was only kept above freezing to ensure the water piping routed through wouldn't rupture, and the atmosphere seemed more of an afterthought. To the lone figure floating weightlessly in the darkness, none of this mattered. There was no cold, only the Force.

Jones ignored the stale air, the lack of light, heat and gravity and instead concentrated inward. Concentrated on the events that had brought him here, shrouded in a colorless version of Starfleet's uniform.

"Your training has progressed much faster than I could have expected," Gallus had said. "You have used your anger and aggression, bent it to your will. Your organization's original training has served you well. You will truly be great warriors.

"Now it is time to put that training to the test. You could merely watch as I caused the explosion of the craft carrying Skywalker, in time you shall perform feats just as amazing."

"Yes, Master," he and Pellax has said.

"Soon you will no longer be counted among the simple beings of the universe. You shall be lords over them." The small creature's eyes gleamed as it spoke.

"Yes, Master."

"Mr. Pellax," he had hissed. "You shall seek out the other agents of your Section 31 and bring them before me. You will need the use of my transport. It is at your disposal."

"But any of them that are left alive must be scattered across the quadrant trying to subvert the Republic's provisional governments," they had protested. It was impossible. They didn't even know who half of the agents were.

The strange alien only laughed. "Not for a Sith."

"And you Mr. Jones," he had continued. "You shall strike back against the Republic that has overrun your beloved Federation. Sate your rage on those you hate."

He was to travel to the invaded worlds of the Federation, find the Republic Magistrates overseeing them, and cut them down like the dogs they were. Not a hard assignment. Not the most pleasant but they were getting what was coming to them.

"Do not use the new weapons you have constructed," Gallus had warned. "Our true nature will be revealed to the Republic all in due time."

The Chilco dropped out of hyperspace for a course change, pulling Jones out of he reverie. The cold of space seeping through the hull gnawed at him like the teeth of a thousand rats. It made him think of the children freezing in burned out shells of buildings, it made him remember the countless bodies set lifelessly adrift by Republic guns.

Soon those bodies were lifting their faces toward him. Their dead, glazed eyes burrowing into his mind, accusing him, cursing him. They had once again become those of everyone he had ever killed. They clawed at him, tearing into him for his soul. Finding nothing.

Fear mixed with anger to well up in the dark corners of his being. It warmed him. It made him powerful.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:27am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 01:12am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Fear mixed with anger to well up in the dark corners of his being. It warmed him. It made him powerful.


* * *


On the other side of the Milky Way galaxy, that same power was fueling another. It filled her to the ends of her vast reaches, whispering the encouragement she wanted to hear. All of the voices that had tortured her would be silenced. She would engulf them all.

Destruction of epic proportions ravaged through the usual stillness of space as Mai-Men sent waves of her commandeered cubes against the object of her hatred. The Collective had adapted to her threat. They had severed themselves into smaller factions, cut themselves off from long range contact. She could no long overcome their pathetic, fragile minds as she came across them. They would pay none the less.

The single in the Collective would be found and they would all pay.

"You think you can hide from me by cutting yourself off," thousands of voices screamed with one mind. "You have no idea of the power you are dealing with. You will never know, not until I am tearing you apart with it."

A dozen Borg craft streaked through the ranks of a score more, slashing out with green rage. In a scene totally unheard of in the galaxy, cube was pitted against cube in a dance of incredible energy. Hull turned to vapour in long, writhing swathes. Ships exploded in miniature parodies of the uncaring stars hanging in the distance.

A trio of rogue cubes tore through the Collective's lines leaving a trail of superheated gas where solid matter once was. As well as the energy attacks, the roving ships were somehow rending huge shreds from their prey. There were no tractor beams at work, only the will of one girl split into thousands. The trio zeroed in on an arrant sphere and dove in like hounds on a rabbit.

The Borg sphere tried desperately to escape. Weaving through the convoluted maze of craft fighting in the blackness, it led its three pursuers directly into a waiting group of allies. The trio would be outnumbered two to one, odds were in the sphere's favour that it would escape the onslaught. Odds did not exist with the Force.

The three extensions of the ever-growing multi-entity barreled through, giving only a second's thought to anything in their path. Only enough time to send a few uncannily placed shots, crippling two in the blockade and sending three more to drift away in convulsive explosions. With lightning fast course changes, they were back on the scent of their prey.

As one, the trio closed on the orb. They had cornered it amongst a cloud of more rogue cubes and an almost impenetrable network of energy streams. As the cloud concentrated on its own battle, the dogged three concentrated on a show of force and a lesson the Borg would not forget. As the sphere was held in place by the mundane power of tractor beams, it slowly began to be crushed in on itself by something far more awesome. Conduits and bulkheads collapsed layer after layer as the Borg ship shrank smaller and smaller. All free space, all pockets of air disappeared under the crushing power of the Force. In the span of moments the craft, still an orb, had become a third of its former size. When the attention of the great malice was lifted from it, the broken sphere hung as dead testament. Thus was the power of the Dark Side.

A wave of Borg craft pulled back and around the main battle to attack their enemy in her flank. It was a weak spot, held from moving into the thick of the battle to provide protection for damaged ships behind the lines. She had been protecting these ships, these regenerating extensions of herself like she would have cradled a broken arm.

The Collective crashed into the defending line, raking their targets and sending massive chunks floating away into the void. As those pieces drifted lazily away, intense pain seared through Mai-Men's psyche. Each ship that was destroyed, each drone that's life was snuffed out was like a piece of her being torn away. Even the smallest hurt mocked her and sent her rage into a spiral. She could stand this playing about no more.

Deep within the bowls of the rogue cubes select covens of drones concentrated on their connection with the Force. Mai's connection with the Force. With invisible hands, the attacking Borg cubes were stopped dead in their paths. Sensors could not ascertain the meaning of this impairment, endless swirling debate from the collective came up with but one answer. It was imperative to assimilate the abilities of this enemy.

The once Jedi apprentice needed no connection to the Borg to hear these thoughts carried by the Force. She laughed and broadcast that laugh to all that would hear. "You still have no idea of what you're dealing with."

Mai-Men focused more of her energy on plucking her enemy out of their vectors, stopping more and more like insects in glue. Soon, the battle had ceased, space was a graveyard. The Collective could do nothing but wait and argue.

In moments the crazed Force wielder was beaming herself onto every cube, gathering new life for her growing mass. With each node she entered, with each alcove she invaded, she looked for one being. It was in an small, unassuming scout cube that her search finally came to an end.

Tens of thousands of such searches had turned up nothing. Even as she drew nearer and near to the center of Borg activity she was not rewarded. The frustration constantly grew inside her, pushing her on to the next fleet. Now, finally, the object of all of her hate was in her grasp. Finally she was showing herself.

The drone that stood alone before her was the most feminine she had come across yet. It oozed confidence. It was in total control.

"12 of 25, scout sensor group 27 of 30, scout cube group 115 of 200, have you returned to the Collective?" The Borg Queen, she could be no other, asked the question mockingly, knowing full well who she was talking to.

"You," Mai-Men growled. She raised her drone arms and struck out at the air. The walls around the Queen imploded with unbridled destruction.

The Borg smiled. "You can see how this wonderful power of yours has grown. It is because of US. Enough of this childish tantrum. Why are you trying to tear down my collective only to make your own? Rejoin with us. It would be an unstoppable unity that..."

Laughter cut the Borg off in mid speech. It was the sound of unabashed contempt. It was a sound that cut to the bone and rang through those connected to the Queen like steel on steel. The unremarkable looking drone held on to the joke as if nothing else mattered.

"Make a collective? You pathetic bitch. You know nothing of me do you? I have no use for you're collective. There is no collective for those that I consume! There is only me! I am all! I am everything!"

The Queen of the Borg smirked at the furry. The child showed her strained and weakened mind at every turn. Eventually she would stretch herself farther than she could handle. When that time came the Borg would be waiting.

"If only I could make you see what you are denying," the Borg stated in dismay. "If only you would let me teach you."

"You're not going to do much of anything any more," Mai-Men hissed. "And when I've devoured you, you're precious Collective will be all the easier to destroy."

The rogue drone advanced on the Queen, raising its mechanical arms. The Queen smiled. It was her turn to laugh. She mocked her enemy as it closed the gap and even exposed her neck as if waiting for a shot of medicine. A second later that medicine was injected in the form of billions of nanites. Their one priority, access the neural transceiver and reestablish a link with their original donar.

Mai-Men took great pleasure in seeping herself into every pore of the Queen's being. Not even this mighty leader of the great Borg Collective could with stand her will. The Dark Side fueled her hate and enhanced her power. It provided an irresistible force that crushed all thoughts not those of its willing subject's. As the Queen ceased to exist, Mai noted with annoyance that she hadn't even been Force sensitive.

The harvest of Borg had continued throughout the whole incident. Each cube and sphere intact enough to be of any worth was ravaged by the being once held in but one body. With each new acquisition, the speed of the operation increased. By the time Mai-Men had taken the Queen there was but one cube left to envelop.

She made her way through that last cube with almost a half heartedness. She had accomplished her will and now it was only a matter of finishing the job. The Force had served her well. Even now it was serving her, hissing in her mind that things were not over.

As always, it was right. In the very bowls of the cube, in the last chamber that was searched, the impossible stood proud and contemptuous. The Borg Queen laughed hideously at the look of shock that crossed the faces of the ten drones before her.

"Why Mai-Men," she sneered. "Are you surprised to see me?"


* * *


"She is completely consumed with anger and hate," the Jedi spoke into the dimly lite cabinet of her sleek, black space craft. "The Dark Side ripples out of her like a hyperbeacon."

"I guess it won't be too hard to find her than, will it." The voice reverberated from everywhere and nowhere with the soothing tones of an old friend.

Jenna looked up from her meditation into the glimmering figure of her departed master. His image glowed in the darkness with an ethereal light of its own but did nothing to push back the shadow. His presence warmed her. He would always be there to help.

"Finding her isn't what concerns me," the woman said, still remaining on both knees in her meditative position. "I question whether or not I will be able to confront her in the state that she's in."

"Than you'd rather allow her to continue her rampage? Perhaps when she's finished with the cyborg's she'll decide that the Jedi are also worthy of her attention." The specter of Luke sat down on the edge of a table and watched her, waiting for a response. He had always been so patient with her.

"I know, I know," Jenna replied. "I sense it too. She will come after us and devour us all to amplify her own power."

"Such is the way of the Dark Side."

"I will find a way to stop her."

"You always do, my apprentice. You always do."

The Jedi closed her eyes once more and reached out across the vast distances of space to connect with her young, wayward apprentice. "Mai-Men," she whispered into the lifeless void. "Hear me. Calm your thoughts. Control your emotions. You must hear me."


* * *


The soft, loving voice of her master echoed in Mai-Men's broken mind. The words shone out like the warm rays of spring sun. They healed her, they comforted her, the set some tiny ease to the shifting chaos that had become her being.

A smile spread across the faces of thousands of drones, even those drenched in the grey blood of the latest incarnation of the Borg Queen. The connection gave the girl pause. So it was true. It was as the Force had shown her. Her master was coming.

She is coming to help me, the girl thought. She is coming for the Borg as well. I will show her the power I have gained. She will be impressed. I will have the Collective destroyed when she arrives and will return home a hero.

Thoughts of the Borg swirled back into thoughts of the Queen. She would find the Queen. Make no mistake, the real Queen would kneel before her power no matter how many decoys were thrown again her. If the entire Collective had to be torn down one at a time, the Queen would be found and made to suffer.

"Let go of your hate," distant thoughts implored her. "This is not the way."

"It is the only way," she replied aloud in chorus. "There can be no peace with these cyborgs."

"This is not the way," the thoughts repeated.

The repetition echoed in Mai's brain. It reminded her of other thoughts that had not been her own. Other thoughts that had intruded on her and had been repeated until she could her nothing more, feel nothing more.

Anger for the long silent droning drowned out the calm urgings that whispered to her. It focused her thinly spread concentration into a dagger. A deadly blade pointed straight at the heart of Borg space. The image of Unimatrix 01 flashed into her mind. It mocked her, it spat in her face.

She could see them all there, gathering to confront her. She could feel the presence of the Queen. The real Queen would be there, directing it all. They knew she was coming for them and they meant to stand with every thing that they had. She would crush them all the same. In the end there could be only her.

Mai-Men unconsciously gathered her forces, herself, into a vast cloud. She was a nebula of metal and flesh. In unison the teeming mass of ships tore into their transwarp conduits and was gone.


* * *


Armada has entered transwap conduit 17 of 575
Estimated destination of Armada, Unimatrix 01
Delay arrival of Armada as long as able
Collapse transwarp conduits as necessary


* * *


Mai-Men switched into a connecting conduit seconds before the collapse of the first. She smiled at the tactic. It only served to slow her. They knew it, she felt, but they had no other options. It pleased her to feel them squirm. It pleased her to feel their fear grow.

The armada being traveled at maximum warp to the nearest conduit entrance leading in the correct direction and continued on her way. Again she sensed the inevitable collapse of the passage and existed at the very last possible escape route. Again she found the closest intersection and returned to her path. She would reach her destination with patients. All roads led to Unimatrix 01.


* * *


Invasion Armada continues to advance on Unimatrix 01
Gather all assets to Unimatrix 01
Destroy Armada as it emerges from transwarp conduit.


* * *


The Borg waited as more and more of their ships took up position around the central hub of their society. Tens of thousands of cubes trained their weapons on the conduit opening that would soon spill their enemy. They waited with a mechanical patience that showed no sign of tension, boredom, or unvigilance.

When the entrance of the conduit finally began spitting out the first of the invaders, the Borg were ready with their first attack. Cube after cube disappeared in fiery explosions that choked the exit point with debris. Soon, the tactic was working against its designers as the field of useless fragments inexplicably condensed into a field around the conduit.

It was enough of a barrier to let Mai-Men create the beginnings of a perimeter for her assault. With the Force she pushed the wreckage of herself together and forward against the Borg. As more of her arrived into space, she fired energy beams at the defenders in walls of unyielding death. Expanding further, she stretched herself into the lines of the enemy, mentally and physically, spreading chaos throughout the battlefield.

The perimeter around the conduit expanded steadily, even under the constant hail of Borg energy streams. Destroyed cubes would be quickly replaced by the incoming invaders, allowing five more to move out an into attack positions of their own. In time the defenders were forced to invest more of their fleet to keeping the invasion contained. There could be no failure in this.

This was not the only conduit gate with activity however. All around the looming form of Unimatrix 01, sleeping gateways flared to life to expel Borg ships rushing to the defense of the Collective. In a select few more, Mai-Men shot other, diverted cubes out like buckshot. The tangle of new arrivals from both sides immediately jumped into the fray. Entire fleets of ships were laid waste. Entire species that had been assimilated were wiped from even the shadow of existence they now possessed.

With a shockwave issued out by the Dark Side of the Force that sent ruined craft careening against the Borg lines, Mai-Men released her anger and let in sweep her away in a tsunami of unabashed power. As the last of her presence exited the faster than light pathways she had traveled, she pulled her vast greatness together into a monstrous, seething plum that dwarfed all around it. Unconsciously, the cloud soon took on the visage of the girl at its center.

The Borg seized the opportunity of their enemy's condensation to focus their attack and strike with all of their effort. They surrounded and closed in like a noose around the terrible head.

Roaring with venomous insanity, the massive face opened its mouth incredibly wide and lurched forward amid the constant salvos of its foe. Borg defenders were swept away by both the Force and green energy as the image flew on towards its waiting target. Cubes rushed in on Unimatrix 01, fire all the way, as Mai-Men bit into her prey like a rabid animal.

She was losing unprecedented numbers of her forces and writhing in pain for the effort. It would be worth it though. She could sense the diversionary display working on the Collective. They were taking advantage of her grouping and they focused on destroying as much of her as they could. They were not targeting her other, solitary cubes that had remained scattered. The cubes that were now making quickly and quietly for the same hub as the rest of the armada.

The girl scattered once more as her cosmic jaws pounded around Unimatrix 01. Fleets of her cubes broke away to attack the Borg anew and spread destruction through their newly reformed lines. Her ships moved with the agility of the Force, twisting and spinning in maneuvers that they were never designed to attempt. They sent the Collective reeling, never knowing whether to form up and attack or retreat.

She was carrying out three objectives now. On one front she pitted her strength against that of her enemy as she had been doing since she had taken over her first cube. Ships battled back and forth, creating pinwheels and spider webs of energy that withered anything that they touched. The Borg had the advantage of numbers in this but the power that the Dark Side gave her more than made up the difference. Even as the battle raged around all, she would send herself into her enemies ships and turn them to her own.

Her second course of action was to cut off the means of the Borg's reenforcement. She new that she could never hope to win the day if the shear numbers of the Collective were pitted against her. She had to prevent incoming cubes from reaching the battle. It would prevent the Queen from escaping as well. To that end, the invader send waves of ships against the openings of the transwarp conduits. One by one they were collapsed, even as those tunnels had been collapsed on her.

She wasn't being particular however. Each gate was washed away by Mai-Men's solid rage. Thousands of Borg cubes en route ceased to exist as cataclysmic blasts rippled down the pathways they traveled. Hundreds of other beings who had learned to use the tunnels in secret were lost to the galaxy just the same.

The third front that the battle took place on was of a much smaller scale. The Force wielder had commenced her invasion of the Borg nexus itself. Hundreds of her drones ranged through the immense hub, destroying or overpowering everything and everyone in their paths. Again, as it had been carried out on thousands of cubes before, her numbers grew exponentially as she progressed. This was only on a grander scale.

And as it had been on all of those other occasions, Mai-Men was searching for but on being. The one entity that had become the bane of her existence. The one being that was constantly eluding her. She knew the Queen would be here. This was the center of it all.

In a working center as uninteresting as all the others, the Queen stood waiting. She had the same false, reptilian smile that she had greeted the girl with on all of the other occasions. It infuriated the Mai to the depths of her soul.

"Still so smug," the girl asked with the masculine voice of the hulking drone before the leader of the Borg. Across the battlefield around the Unimatrix, the same words rang out on thousands of ships.

"I'm hurt that you think that, Child," the Borg mocked. "I have tried and tried to befriend you and show you the path to greatness and still you treat me thus."

"Path of greatness," the girl spat with contempt. "I am on the path of greatness! The only true path!"

The Queen shook her head and chuckled. "You really should get more control over your emotions. There are ways of calming and relaxation that you could learn."

"Brave words from you who is about to die," Mai-Men growled. "And you will die this time."

"You really believe that don't you." The Queen moved casually toward the drone before her. She stopped directly in front of it and laid a hand on its face. "I am destroying you out there. You are meaningless to me. You keep trying and trying but here I still stand. What makes you think now will be any different?"

Wrath twisted the drone's features as they had never seen before. Piping and conduit were ripped from the walls by the Force to spin and swirl around the pair. "This is the center of your society. You can't hide from me any longer. There will be no more decoys. There is no where else for you to run. I have you and now is the time for my revenge."

A cold, vile laugh issued from the Borg. It was the laugh of a shark hearing the pleas of its prey. "Stupid, stupid child," she chided. "You truly don't understand, do you?"

Mai-Men did nothing but send the flying debris crashing into the surrounding walls.

"You can't destroy me," the Queen continued. "Can't you figure it out?"

Anger began to rise further as the fear of failure crept into Mai's thoughts. Out in the void Borg cubes slammed into each other with terrible force. Billowing clouds of plasma consumed even more of the defenders.

"I will kill you." The girl barked the words as if demanding the outcome.

"You can't kill me, Child," came the snide reply. "I don't even exist."

"What?"

"I never existed." The Queen laughed again at the terror playing across her enemies face.

"What?"

"Yes," the Collective continued with one voice. "There is no Queen. There never was a Queen. I am a construct. I was created as a focal point for the feeble human mind."

"No!"

"Yes! There is no singular being in the Borg! There is no Queen! There is only the Collective!"

"No!"

The Borg laughed as they watched the girls rage boil over. "If you want to destroy me, Child, you will have to destroy all of us."

Mai-Men found a new level in her hate. It seemed to reach a plateau where all other though was swept away. There was only the path to the Borg's total annihilation. It was clear and it shone like a fire in the darkness. When she spoke it was with a calm, determined voice. A vicious sound that sent chills even through the uncaring Borg.

"So be it."

Lightning stretched out from the girl's drone to engulf the figure of the Queen and send it spinning to the back of the chamber. Out side, the same scene played out on a grander scale. Force lightning arced across the emptiness to crackle and jump from one cube to another. Borg stopped dead as they were hit. Whole lines of ships were sent to ruin by the horrendous power of the Force.


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:26am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 01:17am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"So be it."

Lightning stretched out from the girl's drone to engulf the figure of the Queen and send it spinning to the back of the chamber. Out side, the same scene played out on a grander scale. Force lightning arced across the emptiness to crackle and jump from one cube to another. Borg stopped dead as they were hit. Whole lines of ships were sent to ruin by the horrendous power of the Force.

The girl reveled in the destruction as she butchered her opposition. She wallowed in it. She drenched herself in the sheer power that ripped through her. Blinding rage was all that she felt and she used it, she channeled it.

She wasn't even bothering to take the cubes as her own now. They had gone too far with her. She had submerged too far into hate. There would be no mercy. There could be no relief. Not for the Borg.

But the cyborgs would not be daunted. Rallying together, they presented a united front and struck with the experience of millennia. Sending a veritable sheet of energy before them, the Borg rushed to englobe their enemy. At the same time, a smaller force broke away in an attempt to clear and protect one of their remaining transwarp gateways. They only needed one.

The main force pushed ahead, tearing Mai-Men's ships to pieces and using their tractor beams to create a debris shield. It was a tactic they had learned from this enemy and would use to full effect. Even their own destroyed ships were callously plowed forward to guard their advance.

The broken apprentice too, pushed back. Seething with pain at her losses and rage at her failure with the Queen, the girl sent her craft into the front line with full force. But she could not control the emotions that pounded through her mind and was having trouble keeping her concentration. She had never been a tactician and would never have dreamed of waging a battle of such proportions. She didn't think, only acted. It was taking its toll.

With the loss of concentration the breath-taking tendrils of Force energy ceased as well. Only the great invisible hand remained to slow and crush the cubes of the Collective. But the Borg seemed to care little for this now. If their ships stopped they would throw out their tractor beams and anchor themselves to passing enemies. When they began to inexplicably collapse, they continued firing until the very end. The Collective could still not explain this power and at this point they could no longer afford to divert resources to trying. This battle must be won and the subverted cubes must be destroyed.

Try as she might, Mai could not force the lightning to obey her any longer. The lack of control brought with it confusion. The confusion brought fear. Instinctively falling back on more mundane weapons, the girl blasted out with everything she had. Her fear increased ten fold when her salvos had little to no effect.

If the Borg, as a group, had any inclination to laugh, it would have. It had taken slightly longer than usual, but they had managed to perform that which had been their most valuable trait. They had adapted. Never in their existence had they been forced to adapt to their own weapons, but in the end, that trait served them yet again. As the green energy streams washed impotently over their shields, the Collective pressed the attack with new vigor.

Cubes flew after each other in twisting spirals. Spinning and dancing through derelict brethren, they fired their weapons and struck out with the Force as they could. The two sides fought bitterly against each other, neither allowing any mistake to go unpunished. Many as one against one in many. Cold reason again wild instinct.

Mai-Men flew at her opponent from all angles, trusting her feelings as she had always done. Smashing into the Borg's impeccable lines, she tried to squeeze her way into every opening she could find only to be torn into fragments by unrelenting energy fire. She was losing cubes by the hundreds, losing ground everywhere.

At the remaining conduit entrances, the girl had poured forth all of her effort and had collapsed all but two of the gateways. With these, the Borg dug themselves in and would not be brought down. Not until their reenforcements had arrived that is.

The Jedi's apprentice sensed the impending doom of those gates and shifted all of her forces to seeing their destruction. It was a mistake that cost her dearly. As she rushed to mash her ships into Collective fronts, that were ten deep in some places, her enemy surrounded her with a mechanical calm worthy of an artificial intelligence. When all the pieces were in place, the cyborgs let loose with everything they had.

Mai-Men's scream echoed through the galaxy to send shivers down the spines of those as far away as the Alpha Quadrant and nightmares into the dreams of children of all species. There were some, however, that could not help but take more notice; A small grey creature sitting alone on Earth raised his snouted face to the stars and nodded slowly; drifting in space, Commander Bala staggered in his quarters and knelt to meditate on what he had just felt; Welzen Pellax paused briefly in the explanation he gave of his new powers to his newest found agent, clutched his chest for a moment and continued; Jones inhaled deeply, pushed the sudden feeling from his thoughts, took one more look at the cold steel of the dagger in his hand, and plunged it into the throat of his sleeping victim. In a lonely vessel streaking through hyperspace, a lonely woman closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to keep her focus on the task at hand. Of all those that felt the inexplicable chill, she was the only to truly understand.

Cubes and spheres exploded in all directions like a super nova. In the epicenter, the broken remains of Mai-Men drifted silently. A slow, deliberate exhalation, simultaneously from all of her drones contributed to the carbon dioxide levels of her cubes as she pulled herself together. She was much smaller now, much more easily able to focus on all that was occurring, much more in control. In the void, her enemy was pulling itself together on a more literal level.

The girl used her moment's respite to channel her anger and connect with the Dark Side. It filled her, excited her for more battle and whispered to her what was about to happen and what her next course of action should be. She smiled as the images blinked into her mind. Things were about to happen. She steadied herself.

What was left of the invading armada staggered away from the transwarp openings, seemingly trying to clear the ship's graveyard before going to warp, as the Borg reorganized itself for a final devastating attack. They would surround the gates and from there, wipe the space around Unimatrix 01 clean. Their reenforcements would be more than enough to easily take the enemy.

Those reenforcements spilled forth from the gateways as the Collective took position around it. The fleeing ships had not yet made it to safety and escape and the battle weary Borg predicted their immanent and effortless destruction. They had no idea what was about to happen. They could not have.

The new cubes, bursting from transwarp into what they knew would be a war zone, began firing on anything not directly linked to their thoughts. Having severed themselves from everything that they were not completely sure was pure, they were unable to tell which side had sent for them. As a result, many of the haggard Collective were converted into expanding clouds of plasma, those with functional shields were torn apart piece by piece.

To their own end, the defenders, believing that their clever foe had managed to bring in its own forces, laid into the new targets with deadly efficiency. The two remaining gateways soon became clogged with the wreckage of hundreds of the Borg's finest. They poured out beam upon beam at their own vessels, unwittingly burning away the allies they had so desperately called.

Mai laughed insanely as she watched. The Borg had set up their own destruction. They had broken themselves apart and now could not tell her from themselves. How would they? They had never been faced with this before. They had never known friendly fire. And in not knowing it, they would never think of trying to avoid it. Such was the way of the Collective. Nothing was a problem to be addressed until it was being faced.

She watched as her enemy did her work for her and reveled in the power and insight the Force gave her. She knew the Borg would fight themselves. She knew they would eventually figure out what had happened. She knew exactly what to do once that happened. How had she not known these things sooner, she wondered.

The combat was now carrying itself toward her position. She continued to observe and made no move one way or the other, drifting now only, as if dead in space. A cube flew at her through the void, and than another. One of the fresher ships followed closely behind, trying to break through the shielding of its prey. As the three drew closer, Mai struck out with the baneful lightning that had returned to her. Like a spider laying in wait, she lashed, revealing herself and all that she had brought about.

In the span of seconds the two Collectives, separated by their mutual fear of possession, analyzed the facts and opened their thoughts to each other. It was too late however. They had made brutal work of their fellow drones and were now little better off than they had been before.

Now, together once again, the Borg charged to overwhelm Mai-Men's prostrate forces. She did nothing to stop them now. Wait, her feelings told her. Wait for the proper time. Cubes came in from all vectors and still she made no move.

Curious at the inactivity, the Collective held their guns and bolstered their positions. There were definitely signs of life still on board, perhaps the girl had been broken mentally? They let loose on the drifting ships, vapourizing dozens, and still there was no retaliation. The curiosity grew.

One by one, drones were beamed on to the seemingly derelict craft, scanning them, observing first hand. They could report only more inertness. Nothing moved on the cubes, nothing functioned accept the meagerest of life-support and sensory systems. All was still.

It was a trap. Thousands of minds in the Collective shouted the opinion. It was an obvious trap. But if it was a trap, why had it not been sprung yet? Surely they were all in the perfect position. Past contact taught that this enemy was no longer mentally stable enough for setting traps. More observation would be needed. More debate was required.

Days passed and there continued to be nothing. Unimatrix 01 was purged and retaken and still there was nothing. The enemy armada was brought down to a mere hundred or so ships and still there was nothing. The galaxy spun, the universe expanded, and yet the unending gaze of the Borg held their foe, unblinkingly. There was no change.

No resistance has been met.
All drones move freely through subverted cubes.
Subverted drones continue attempts to link with Collective.
Probability of trap: 10%.
Reassimilate remaining subverted forces.

As the connection was opened into the minds of millions of Borg drones, Mai-Men laughed triumphantly. She flooded into them in a torrent, once again drowning all thought that was not her own. So swift and complete was the mental attack that not even the beginnings of a distress signal was able to be sent. The Borg of Unimatrix 01 fell as one and as one they took up the laugh.


* * *


Jenna stared into the kaleidoscope of hyperspace amid the repetitious bleating of the navicomputer. It screamed its warning in constant, irritating reminder that she had disengaged its control. She had no charts of this space and it was of no use to her. She traveled by instinct and faith alone. Faith in the Force.

There was an urgency that fueled her now. Turmoil boiled around her fallen apprentice and cried out to her like an infant. She had to reach her. One way or the other, she had to ensure that the madness surrounding Mai-Men was stopped.

For seemingly no reason, the Jedi reached forward and pushed the control stick of the hyperdrive. The mottled blue background in her front windscreen condensed into streaking white lines, which in turn shrank to the burning dots of distant stars. The brightest of these points stood out to starboard like a glaring signal for her to follow. She had dropped back into normal space just at the edge of its system's oort cloud.

She was out there. Nursing herself back to health amid the particles and radiation of the void, she waited. The girl was waiting for her, Jenna thought. Hopefully she would be able to find some way, any way, to bring reason to the chaos.

"Mai," she spoke aloud, sending the words through the Force as they moved through the air of the cockpit. "Calm your thoughts. Clear them. You have to end this."

In system, millions of cybernetic heads turned to regard the speaker. Small and distant, the exact location of the ship was known even before sensors were trained on it. It had arrived just as had been foreseen.

"Master," the reply thundered. "You have finally come."

"Yes, young one. I thought you had been lost but would not forget about you." The older woman spoke truthfully. She had been able to think of little else since their parting. "I have come to bring you back."

"You have come to destroy me," Mai said flatly. Convoluted thoughts and feelings belayed the calm monotone.

The smooth scout ship flew swiftly forward, bridging the vast gap between the two beings. The weapons systems were powered off and the shields were down. There was no need for them. That kind of defense would be useless now.

The craft came to drift mere kilometers from a veritable wall of technology. It was tiny and insignificant. It was an ant beside a cosmic boot. Somehow, the little speck, almost indistinguishable from the colourless backdrop, held its own. It had a style and dignity that would not be overshadowed by the stark functionality before it.

"You are not in your right mind," Jenna returned. "I will do what I must. I don't want to destroy you."

A laugh rolled through the Force that nearly bowled the Jedi over. Outside, her ship was quickly enveloped by massive cubes. The light of the system's star was completely blotted out. The woman sat calmly in the artificial light of her the cabin, waiting for the storm to subside.

"I'm glad you don't want to, Master." the multi-entity chuckled. "I would hate to destroy you as well."

With a pause, she continued. "I may sense that you're here to destroy me but that doesn't mean I think you can."

"You have grown confident, my young apprentice."

"I have grown powerful."

"No, you haven't GROWN powerful," the knight observed passively. "You've stolen that power. And with it, the lives of millions of beings."

"Stolen!?" Mai-Men shouted the words with indignation. "They were drones! They had no lives to begin with!"

The girl's mood suddenly shifted from anger to excitement. "You can't imagine the power, Master. I can see the future, the past, everything all at once. I crushed my enemies in body and mind! They could not stand against me!"

"Those are the ways of the Dark Side." The words came out as a lecture that had been given a thousand times before. "Clear your troubled mind and calm yourself and you will know I am right."

"Perhaps they are," Mai answered with an eerie quiet. "But when I was alone, when I was being dissected and cut apart limp by limp, when the only thoughts that I could hear were the constant demands of the Borg, the Dark Side was the only ally to come to my aid. It was the only thing that saved me."

"You have not been saved, padawan. You are only deeper in distress."


Last edited by Stravo on 2002-11-07 01:24am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-07 01:22am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
"You have not been saved, padawan. You are only deeper in distress."


* * *


"Senators and representatives, there is no cause for distress. The United Federation of Planets has been toppled. Its allies have been obliterated. None of the primitive and savage cultures of the new galaxy have stood for long against us. We have exacted our justice on the murderers of Skywalker, we have brought peace for the first time to their tumultuous realm, and now it is time to bring order.

"Members of the Senate, I submit to you that we must not lose our momentum. Now is the time that we must accelerate our efforts to bring true civilization to the savage populations. Now is the time for us to begin expanding our emigration and commerce."

Grand General Bastin turned a slow circle, staring into the sea of faces that surrounded him. Buzzing and flitting about, media droids recorded every nuance of his speech. He paused to let the words sink in and thought about them himself. The Senate didn't know anything about momentum. It was like him trying to convince sap to run faster. With the war so far away, they were falling back to their usual ways.

"Are you sure the new territory is safe already," a voice echoed through the massive arena.

"The Chair recognizes the honourable representative from the planet Chipawee."

The large, purple invertebrate shifted a number of tentacles and clacked its beak before continuing. "What about the reports we have heard that the military convoys continue to be attacked? What about the reports that some of the worlds are still instigating armed conflicts?"

"Yes," a dark green Nemoidian interrupted. "And what about the magistrates that have been assassinated?! Five so far, I believe! How can you begin to tell us that Republic citizens will be safe with all of this going on?!"

"Those reports are from the media and are greatly exaggerated," Bastin waved off the concerns. "The attackers are little more than pirates and brigands. And not nearly as powerful as we are already use to dealing with. As for the assassin, it is being tracked down as we speak.

"This should not deter us, Senators! By moving forward we tell our enemies that their efforts are pointless. We show the general populace a better way of life and thereby convert them to our side. These pirates will soon find themselves with no safe ports and the holdout worlds that continue aggression against our troops will whither and die."

"What about the cybernetic culture that the Jedi encountered," the Nemoidian pressed. "What about the rest of the galaxy that we know so little about? I think that a formal investigation committee should be convened."

Bastin shook his head. "We have seen nothing of the cyborgs. As for the rest of the galaxy, it will be far easier for the Republic military to continue pacification once the Jedi have took over preliminary marshaling and policing actions. They will not do this while the area is still at war.

"Fear not. The military will keep everyone safe from attack and the Jedi will make short work of anyone breaking the peace. I predict that we will soon have fully functioning and productive new members of our society."

A smattering of store bought applause rounded the cavernous chamber. The Chair let the noise continue just long enough and was about to call order when an interruption of a different sort demanded silence and all attention.

The bass rumble of amplified Hutt laughter rattled the chest cavities of all present that had them. A pod broke from its position on the wall too race forward and confront Bastin and the presiding officials.

"<If these cowards don't see the value of a galaxy of basically untapped resources, the Hutts certainly do,>" the massive creature orated in its own language. "<Hutt Space officially requests first survey of territory for extraction rights for marketable minerals and gases.>"

Bastin smiled as the Senate chamber erupted in what could only be described as a verbal land rush. It had been such a long time since there had been new worlds to conquer. Life had gotten so much more interesting since the discovery of the wormhole.


* * *


"Shields are now down forty percent, Captain." Lieutenant Commander Data ran his hands across the half dead tactical control panel and did his best to wipe a smear of blood away without activating a dozen functions. "The M'Voff is venting plasma and is requesting to be taken off the line."

Picard glanced at the display before him. Allowing the Vulcan ship too leave would cause a huge gap in their front, but having it destroyed would mean losing yet another asset. They could hardly afford this battle as it was.

"Tell her to get out of here as best she can Mr. Data," he ordered. "Have the Heracles and the David move forward to take her place."

Out in space, a defiant and an intrepid class ship broke from their strafing run on a lumbering freighter to cover the retreat of a wounded mirada. Now the two focused their fire power on a Republic frigate that dwarfed them in all respects. Spinning through the void around them and the rest of the strike team, a swarm of infuriating fighters with X configured wings kept up a constant hail of blaster fire.

Reading the minds of the other Federation captains, the defiant took it upon itself to fly into the thick of the fighters and try to scatter them. As it slammed its pulse phasors into one target, turning it into a plumb of gas a debris, the remain ships pulled out and around in expert formation.

At the frigate, twenty ships hammered down with constant volleys of quantum torpedoes. They tore into their enemy with the passion of villagers stoning a sinner. Explosions rippled around them with deadly intent but still they fired. Their only hope was opening a hole in that seemingly impenetrable shielding.

The lone defender gave as good as it was getting though, and turbolaser bolts lite the darkness like hellfire. Blasts sheared through two opponents and caused them to drift back from the attack. It was small comfort for the gunners of the frigate who were hard pressed to get any relief.

As the Enterprise shot another spread of torpedoes, its rear phasor banks trained on the fighters that streaked in and out through the line. These tiny ships were nowhere near as difficult to kill as their mothers. It was just that they were so damn difficult to hit.

A stream of energy leapt to connect with one swift attacker as the David arched over their bow. The fighter deftly banked right, leaving the blast to travel uselessly past, and rolled around it mockingly. To add insult to injury, the tiny ship let loose with a proton torpedo. It didn't wait to watch as the projectile was consumed by defending fire.

"Good shot, Mr. Data," Riker commended excitedly. "Now what's our status?"

"The Samson and the Thor's Hammer have been disabled." Data began. "The David is managing to keep the fighter wings from our flanks with limited success but its shields are down to forty five percent. Captain Antwerp has managed to disable two of the freighters but the others were able to jump away into hyperspace. Our targeted area of the frigate's shields appears to be on the verge of collapse but if we lose any further vessels we will not have the fire power to ensure its destruction."

"Understood, Commander," the captain said. "Ignore the fighters and concentrate all fire on the frigate. This one can't escape us."

As the words left Picard's mouth, the staticy forward viewscreen burst into painful light. When everyone's vision had cleared, three Federation ships were nothing more than memories and the remainders were compensating to try to get back into position.

Picard and Riker looked at each other in dismay. This couldn't mean retreat.

"Captain," Commander Laforge's voice crackled over the com. "That last hit hurt us bad! We need to get out of here and I mean now. I can't give you anything more to the shields and the engines are on their last legs down here."

"Lieutenant Commander Laforge is correct," Data added. "Our shields are now completely down. As are the shields of many of the other ships of the team. I must add that the enemy frigate however, has also lost a portion of its shields."

"Sound the retreat and order all craft to fire their last salvos on the way out." Picard looked at the damage reports scrolling down his personal screen. Damn, he thought as they followed the rest of the Federation craft away in a limping warp. This was supposed to be an easy victory.

"Well," Riker spoke as he read his own incoming reports. "It looks like it wasn't a total loss. Captain Antwerp was apparently able to tear into the freighters and beam some of the cargo out through the holes. Medical supplies in one, some sort of construction equipment in the other."

"That's not going to keep the vultures from crowing about how well their super weapon would have worked," Picard fumed.

The first officer kept silent. It would have been dangerous for everyone if they had used a subspace detonation but the battle would certainly have gone quite differently.


* * *


General Kira sat in the faltering light of her subterranean office behind a makeshift desk of planks and empty crates. A simple paper map was spread out before her showing nothing but bad news. Again.

To look at this resistance leader one would never know the special circumstances of the day. She went about her business as if she had no guest coming. As if the leader of the provisional government were not making his way in secret to meet with her.

As the serious faced Bajoran woman weighed the pros and cons of two different plans of attack, her concentration was broken by the arrival of a motley group coming to stand before her. The first were a pair of grubby soldiers in scavenged Reaper armour. They held their weapons at casual readiness and their faces at a sullen scowl. The central figure, swathed in simple, well-worn garments, was obscured by a ragged hood. Standing beside the rest of the group, he was obviously the VIP. The remaining two guards were once again of the grimmer persuasion. One man had nightvision goggles strapped to his forehead, the other, a full enemy scout helmet.

Kira stood to greet the official with her best plastered-on smile. Pulling the hood from his face, he looked around, his lips showing the dismay in his mind. Cold, muddy, starved, this was not the romantic vision of freedom fighters the man had envisioned. The distant reverberation of a Republic Seismic Charge brought the point home with chilling effect.

"General Kira," the man began as they clasped hands over the table. "I'm glad we could meet. It wasn't easy getting a hold of you."

"I hope not," the general answered with a smirk. "I trust it wasn't easy getting here either."

The Bajoran leader glanced from his escort back to the woman. "It certainly wasn't. I can honestly tell you that there was nothing easy about it. We must be fairly close to combat to feel the charges like that though."

"You'd be surprised." Kira looked back to her maps before coming out from behind her desk.

"I'm still not sure what it is you wanted to talk to me about so desperately though," she continued. "Your place is not out here."

"I know," came the answer. "And truthfully, I haven't been sure what I wanted to say to you either. Even when I was met by these... fine gentlemen, I still didn't know."

Kira didn't like this. She didn't like the look on his face. She had known too many people with bad news who had that same face.

"Let's just get to it," she said. "You've heard something. We're the last holdouts aren't we. The Reapers are going to start taking our attacks out on the civilians aren't they. Have they threatened to start glassing cities?! Damn! This is just like the Cardassians!"

"No, no." The greying man waved his hands at the string of speculation. "It's none of those things. In fact, it's actually the opposite."

"What?" Kira wasn't expecting that.

"The Republicans aren't trying to take anything out on Bajoran civilians. In fact, they've been rebuilding the damage that's been caused. Their engineers and construction crews have been showing us techniques that are amazing. They haven't actually done anything to try to change the government. We still go on as we always have." He couldn't help gently grabbing on to her arm while trying to make her see. "It's the military they're after. If we don't fight, no one will be hurt."

"So all they want to do is take away our right to defend ourselves." General Kira planted her hands firmly on her hips and shook her head. "How generous. Well, while they're out there being so generous and rebuilding your mansion, they're also killing my soldiers!"

"That's what I'm trying to tell you! If you would just stop this, it would all end! There is no need for anymore killing! They have firmly stated that only those who act with aggression will be met with aggression."

The woman raised a hand to cut him off. "You mean to tell me that an alien force parks itself in orbit, announces that they have taken our planet as their property and you want me to let them have it without a fight?! You expect me to believe that they have come and destroyed our defenses just to let us go on without any change?! You've got to be kidding!"

"Of course there's a change," came the reply. "We are part of a larger community now.

"Look, I don't know why they showed up to destroy our military. No one does. I think the Federation did something to piss them off. It doesn't matter. The point is, they're too strong for us to stop them. You know that! If we don't fight we can survive. Survive and even thrive."

"I don't believe what I'm hearing," Kira shouted. "A smiling overlord is still an overlord! I've fought too hard for too many years to lay down for some Humans from another galaxy!"

"They aren't just Humans," he pushed. "The Republic is comprised of millions of races. They are making Bajor a part of that society and doing everything they can to help us adjust. Their technology is truly astounding and they are more than willing to share it. Not like the Federation, I might add. If you'd pop your head out of this hole for once you would see what's in front of you!"

"All I see in front of me is collaborator! Jase, Mellisee, get him out of here! And dump him on the front lines! Maybe his Reaper friends will find him and show some of that generosity that we're familiar with." General Kira shouted the last over her shoulder as she stalked away.


* * *


The leader of the Bajoran people stood in the corridor of an ancient temple to the Prophets looking over himself one last time. It HAD been a temple for the majority of its existence. Now it was the palace of the Republic Magistrate.

The man was wearing his very best suit. A loose fitting, immaculately wrinkle-free garment, the pants and untucked shirt were dull green while the open vest was beige in color. Very conservative. Very formal. He had just had it replicated for this meeting.

He turned around from the great, floor to ceiling mirror and looked directly into the chest of the waiting guard. There seemed to be so many guards in his life these days.

The soldier was a humanoid in appearance but definitely not human. A man in his prime. He had on what looked like blue leather pants, blue boots to his knees and a blue shirt of some thick fabric. Over his chest was a form fitting breast plate unlike anything that the regular soldiers wore and a tightfitting armour cap topped his head while leaving his face open. A heavy blaster hung at his side. He obviously wasn't regular army, but a personal guard of the Republic official.

Lifting an arm in a mute gesture for the guard to lead on, the bajoran smiled and waited. Unblinkingly, the alien turned on his heels and strode down the arching hallway. Foot steps echoed as the two made their way deeper into the carved stone structure.

Many more huge men in stylized body armour were passed as they went. None of them moved from their posts, none of their eyes looked anywhere but forward. Bajor's head had been in this temple dozens of times before, yet now was so different. It was the feel. Somehow so very un-Bajoran.

The march was finally stopped at the massive wooden doors of the main praying chamber. The guard swung them open and stepped back to reveal a portal into a different culture. The rows of prayer seats that had once held faithful priests were now gone, replaced by two long lines of towering statues. Between them ran a purple carpet that headed to the back of the chamber where a huge stone table waited. Three men rose from that table at the sight of the new arrival.

At the far side of his new governing chamber, the magistrate, a plump Twi'Lik, and his two aids watched as their guest walked confidently towards them. All three were adorned in the splendid robes of their office.

Beginning with the reddest of pants and shirt, the magistrate had three more separate layers. Over his shirt was a crimson tunic that was belted to his waist by a wide cummerbund of leather the same dark brown as his shining boots. Over this was a knee length coat of bright yellow. Thin to the touch, the layer would billow wildly around him if not for the outer covering. This final piece was a deep orange interwoven with a pattern of gold thread and swept to the mirror polished floor. Shimmering jewelry complemented the whole affair from around fingers, neck, wrists, and head-tails. The two subordinates were only slightly less regaled.

"This is their governor?" The aid that whispered the question was a soft being of pale blue skin and a swept back skull.

"Apparently," the other, a human, answered.

"He looks like he's wearing his bed clothes," the Twi'Lik muttered behind his smile while absently stroking one head-tail.

"Savages."

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2002-11-20 11:30am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
The ancient marble gateway allowing entrance into the temple-turned-palace sat still and silent. The Republic guards, standing evenly spaced and motionless throughout the courtyard, were not expecting any other visitors to the Magistrate and could not help but let their minds drift. For all the resistance the Bajorans had been giving, they had never been able to infiltrate this far. The savages just didn't have the ability.

The sun was just beginning to tuck itself behind the looming, jagged mountain range when, against all reason, the titanic gates ponderously opened of their own accord. All eyes shot to the gap that was produced and focused on what they beheld. Shadow and light played across the landscape, swathing a figure darkness.

Between the two stone monoliths stood a figure draped in gloom. Humanoid and male in stature, it was clothed all in black and covered with a cloak as deep as night. His entire aspect seemed to draw in light and devour it.

Without waiting for an invitation, the figure strode through the portal, hands calmly clasped before him. The two guards nearest to the entrance leapt to action, drawing their weapons and blocking the way. Before a word could be spoken from the towering men, the dark figure raised a single hand, two fingers casually extended.

The fingers were pointed first at one, then the other, causing each to grab his throat in turn. Standing silently, the hooded figure watched as the two gasped and clawed for air. They quickly lost strength and dropped to the ground, breathing their last in agonizing pain.

The other guards in the courtyard could not believe what had just unfolded before them. Instinctively falling back on years of training, blasters jumped from holsters and men fanned out to ensure that they all had a clear shot. They were six against one. This wouldn't take long.

The intruder's eyes looked up from his kill as the others took their places and one began speaking into a communicator. He made no move towards them but merely observed, like a cat waiting for its prey to round a corner before striking. When one of the guards finally shouted for him to surrender, he called once again on the Force.

As a group, the six giant men fell to the cobbled ground, fighting for their lives against unseen hands. A few fired wildly in their death throws but to no avail. The dark figure did not give them a second's notice as he stalked through the tangled, writhing, scene. It was as if they were nothing more than shrubs rustling in the breeze.

"You there!" High on the walls, more armoured defenders were pouring out to meet whatever had broken their sanctuary.

The intruder's sneer went unseen in the shadows of his cloak as he raised both hands, one to each parapet wall, and quickly clenched them into fists. Pulling them back to his sides, the guards on high too, were pulled from where they stood. No wind howled, no tremor shook the land, there was nothing to account for their fall. They simply plunged to their deaths, splattering purple blood and adding to the carnage.

A timeless wooden door leading to the musty confines of the building opened of its own accord at the dark-clad man's approach.


* * *


"I see, Mr. Torrom," the Magistrate said in concern after hearing the results of the bajoran's meeting with the rebel leaders. "This is most unfortunate. We do not wish to shed any further blood but the Inter-Galactic Republic WILL bring order to this world, one way or another. Make no mistake. All hostility will continue to be met with extreme retribution until this conflict has ended."

The Republic representative sat imperiously at one side of the polished table, his aides flanking him. He watched the native across from him with intense interest. These were the people he had been sent to educate, to guide into civilization. This planet was fit more for a military governor, not a politician.

"I realize that Magistrate Fremm," the man replied quickly, "and I'm trying to stop this war as best I can. You have to understand the recent history of my people. We have had many outside..."

"We been familiarized with the history of your world, Mr. Torrom." The fact was stated flatly, coldly. Fremm had been pulled from the Senate committee on diplomatic coordination for this mission. It was not what he would classify a step up in his career.

The two beings sitting eye to eye each opened their mouths to speak. One to continue his proclamation, the other to try some different way of getting his point across. Neither were able to utter a word. Both found themselves interrupted by the blaring of the newly installed security alarms.

The four people at the table looked from the corners of the ceiling to one another, slow to react to what they heard. It was the human aide that finally stood and made his way down the long carpet to room's double doors. Before he made it he turned and addressed his superior.

"It's probably another drill," he called back, his nasal voice echoing. "I'll go check with the guards. You know how they've been stepping things up since the reports about the..." The man caught himself before he said another word. With a quick glance to the bajoran he turned and disappeared through the door.

At the table, the blue skinned Republican smiled broadly and made to refill barely touched glasses. "I'm sure it's nothing."


* * *


Jones focused on his senses as he marched steadily down the corridors of the bajoran temple. He reached out with his feelings and connected with everything and everyone. Insects instinctively ran from his approach, security personnel rushed to confront him, and there was another. Someone else was coming. Much lighter than the others, moving quickly in his direction. This one was no soldier.

He stopped abruptly before an intersection in the hallway and waited. Like an onyx statue he stood, listening to the footfalls and fast breathing, hands held patiently. Time had no meaning at that point. Seconds became an eternity. Forever washed away in the blink of an eye.

A human in tight, purple pants and shirt, and a long blue coat ran directly into him and jumped back. Fear lite the man's eyes as the figure before him was matched to images in his brain. Jones felt every instant of the emotion and bathed in it. This was what kept him going. Their fear was all that seemed to feed him.

As the aide to the magistrate lifted an accusing finger and began stammering wordlessly, the hooded figure commanding his attention slowly, deliberately turned his head. A pale visage shone from the void of the endless cloak. Piercing eyes lock and would not let go.

"You will take me to the Magistrate now," Jones ordered with a wave of his hand. There was no room for questions.

And no questions were asked. The aide could think of nothing but leading this man to the magistrate. There was no way he could disobey. He had no hope if he didn't.

"I will take you to the Magistrate now," he repeated, wide-eyed with terror.

Together they walked back through maze of corridors and rooms. Many guards were passed. All died by no hands. No one was able to raise any further alarm. Jones never broke stride from his course, his guide never looked back.

At the end of their journey the unwitting Republican pushed through the huge double-doors of the ancient prayer chamber and drew everyone's attention. That is, until they saw the man behind him.

"Magistrate Fremm," he announced nervously. "This gentleman is here to see you."

The three at the other end of the room were on their feet in an instant. The Magistrate looked to his opposite with narrowing eyes. The bajoran returned the look with accusation and confusion of his own. The room stayed silent. Their new guest seemed to suck the air straight from their lungs.

"What is the meaning of this," the twi'lik demanded once he had regained his composure. "I am expecting no one else."

"I'm here to discuss the removal of Republic forces from this galaxy," Jones' voice emanate from the shadows of his hood with calm contempt.

"He is here to discuss the removal of Republic forces from this galaxy," the other human repeated earnestly.

Looking from one man to the other, the magistrate hesitated for only a second before bellowing his alarm. The next moment the room was alive with action as security systems activated and bystanders lunged for any cover they could find.

Like a murder of crows taking flight, the black cloak billowed as its owner leapt into the air. Timeless stone disappeared in a whiff of smoke where the man had been standing. Angry red blaster fire followed his arcing flight only to stop before gunning down the terrified human aide.

Black gloved hands reached out from black depths even before Jones had landed. His Starfleet issue boots touched the floor as the vice of his grip closed on his latest victim. A brutal jerk and a neck was broken. The security A.I. began firing anew as the body hit ground, bowls already draining.

The Federation assassin spun between the towering statues at blinding speed. Like a hell-spawned dancer, he moved with a grace and fluidity that belied his grim aspect. The automated death follow with every bound, a willing puppy to a cruel master.

Coming to rest once more behind the figure of some alien hero, Jones sneered as he noticed the freshly made hole in his robe. The smoke rolled gently to the ceiling in languid tendrils. It was oddly peace full amid the carnage. Moments like these had always calmed him before. He wondered briefly why there was nothing now.

With a gusting swirl, the attacker tossed his cloak into the center of the vaulting chamber. Somehow the tiny patch of midnight hung there in the air as if he were still wearing it. The guns couldn't tell the difference and continued their attack. Relief would only be given when the garment was a smoldering pile on the floor.

Before that could happen, the assassin was on his feet again and instantly in the center of the floor. From this position he could see his prey trying to break for the rear exit and hear the autocannons repositioning and locking in on him.

With a single motion he pointed one hand to the far door and reached behind his back with the other. The offending door slammed shut and the security guns began again. This time however there was retreat. There was no lightning dodge. This time the energy was blocked.

A red disk of light had inexplicably appeared before the dark warrior. It spun faster than the eye could distinguish and repelled all attacks it met. Blaster bolts streaked back at their creators and one by one turned them to craters in the wall. When the air was dead once more, Jones stood, breathing as if he had done nothing, lightsaber held defensively at his side.

"I believe we were going to discuss your withdrawal," he said, icy stare holding all where they stood.

"What is this?" The twi'lik's chubby face was as pale as bone. He could not believe the specter of death before him or the softly glowing weapon in his hands. "This can't be. Not here."

"Oh, it be," Jones replied with a wicked smile. He was moving slowly, snake-like toward the others. His eyes never left them, inexplicably holding them captive.

"And make no mistake," he parodied. "You will be leaving. One way or the other."

"A Sith among the savages?" Despite what the blue skinned aide said, he was still backing away steadily. "He's no Sith."

The human merely chuckled, as if to himself. He was almost upon them now and they hadn't noticed. He reached out with the Force and sent the doubter hurtling into the rear wall. A shower of gore decorated the area and all those remaining.

"Underestimate me if you like," he said, letting rivulet of blood trail from his face. "The outcome will remain the same."

Commanding all the courage he could find, Torrom looked his attacker in the remorseless eyes and pointed an uncertain finger. "That's enough. Whoever you are, this has got to stop. Murdering this man will only bring them down harder on us."

"Oh," Jones laughed. "Commands! And what makes you think I'll obey you? What makes you think I value the opinions of a..." He paused as if listening to something. "Collaborator."

"There can be no collaboration," he continued, methodically pacing around the pair. He circled them, feeling what was left of their nerves collapse. "There is only victory of death."

With an intense hum of rage the fiery lightsaber struck out and the bajoran's head dropped free of its body. The blade of energy stopped millimeters from the magistrate. It sat their unwavering as the remaining politician cried out in the anticipation of his own death.

"He's right you know," the alien stammered. "Killing me will not stop any of this."

"Yeah, I know," came the reply. "Everyone of you has said that. But it sure sends a nice message, doesn't it."

"The only message it sends is that you are bent on your own destruction. I am here to help this world. I am here to see an end to the violence. I am a politician. Kill me and the next one to come will be a military commander. You are only causing more needless suffering."

"I promise you won't suffer at all."


* * *


"You have disobeyed my command. Why?" As harsh as the statement was, the question was more curious. Expectant.

The bitter wind of the mountain pass sliced through Jones as easily as any lightsaber. He centered his concentration on the tiny, faltering image Darth Gallus and ignored the icy teeth of the storm. He had known this would be coming sooner or later. Unlike the elements, he could not just ignore the communications of his master.

"I felt it was time to unsheathe my true weapon," he explained. "My rightful weapon. I felt it was time that the Republic was aware of the true wrath of the Federation. I trusted my instincts, Master."

"Indeed you did." The image of the Sith lord twisted and warped for a moment. Before the hologram continued, the static of the transmission was drowned completely by the angry howl of the wind. "You have done well, my apprentice. Your work is now finished. Return to me at once."

Jones took the reaction in with calm detachment. "There is still much for me to do..."

"It is time for you to complete your training. I am waiting your arrival." There was no defying the implied order. He could feel the power of his master reaching across the expanses of space and taking firm hold of his mind.


* * *


The light show of the Briar Patch continued without end around the flotilla of Starfleet holdouts. A cluster of Galaxy class ship saucer sections hung tightly together in a make-shift mobile base of operations and repair depot. As a pack of tarnished and scarred klingon battle cruisers swept past in a lazy arc, a pair of Defiants came in from patrol escorting a firengi freighter. Hopefully it was filled with ship components and dilithium. More importantly, it would have information.

Captain Picard entered the lounge of one of those saucers and was thrust into memories of the past. The colour scheme of the carpet and the furniture may have been different but this was the same old 10 Forward he had known from his first Enterprise. Through the main windows he thought he could almost see the necelles of his latest Enterprise behind the bulk of the compound, waiting for repair. When the smuggler's ship floated by, he couldn't help but think how happy he finally was firengi duplicitousness.

He turned from the scene to scan the bar at the other side of the room. Guinin was there, her head buried in an ancient book. She didn't look up when he approached her but, as always, somehow knew he was there.

"Back from the front lines, Captain?" The woman didn't bother to stop reading. "How goes the efforts of the United Federation of Pirates?"

Picard let the barb slip. "I'm looking for someone Guinin," he said. "A Commander Bala. He's one of the President's aides. Have you seen him?"

"Why would anyone want to find that man," she replied with a shudder. "There's something about him. Something dark. And he never seems to leave the President's side. Follows the man around like the specter of death."

"Yes," Picard returned. "But he's not there now and I need to speak to him. For whatever reason, the man holds the President's ear. If I can get him to see the utter folly of this insane strike they're concocting, I might be able to get it through to the people making the decisions."

"I take it the computer can't locate him?"

"He's not on any of the ships in the area. Nor has he gone out on any of the raids or patrols." Picard looked back out the window as he answered, as if the deep void itself could help him.

"Well he IS supposedly Starfleet Intelligence," the woman offered. "Those guys always seem to be finding ways to keep themselves secret."

"Supposedly Intelligence," Picard repeated. "Although Data could find no record of him on file and Captain Ajax has never seen him before."

Before the conversation could continue, a young fresh-faced ensign approached. "Excuse me, Captain, but I couldn't help overhearing. Commander Bala left on a shuttle three days ago."

"What?" The captain turned toward the young man looking for answers. "Why is there no record on the log?"

"I erased it, Sir," the ensign stammered. "He said he had an urgent mission and authorization to take the shuttle. Then he ordered me to erase the logs after he left."

"Did he show you any authorization?"

A look of confusion crossed the young man's face and turned from deep thought to shame. "I'm sorry, Sir. I didn't even ask to see the Commander's authorization. At the time I just... I just... believed him."


* * *


Things had changed around the compound that Darth Gallus had created for himself since the dark figure that was Lieutenant Jones had been there last. There had been some expansion. Barracks had been built, training grounds delineated and well worn paths beaten into the hard ground. Thick, heavy snow blanketed all at this time of year but it could not hide the sheer volume of activity that was evident.

The man peered past the edge of his hood up to the grey, cloud choked sky. Any satellite should be able to pick this place out like the spot on Jupiter. As with everything however, he was sure that Master Gallus had see to that.

The previously empty mountain locale was now teeming with people as well. Pellax had done his job with great success. Of course, most of the grim faces hurrying this way and that were totally unfamiliar to him but there were a few that he had served with before. One of these, a man named Byran he believed, spotted him and rushed to fall in step.

"Jonesy," Byran said excitedly, patting the dark man's shoulder and extending a hand. "Wow! This is some freaky shit isn't it. I heard that you were one of the first in on this training. From what I've seen we're really going to be able to bust some Reaper heads. Remember that time when we were kidnaping that Romie right out of that public bathroom in the middle of the Senate and that guy walked in? What was it you told him again?" At this point the new recruit could hardly contain the laughter.

Jones never missed a step, never returned the gesture of greeting, never even raised his hands from their clasped position in front of him. The situation flooded into his mind and made him think of the fun and excitement he used to feel for his job. He then thought of how easily he would have been able to do all the things of the past with the abilities he had now. This man was beneath him. He was weak. He could be killed with a thought. And he dared to speak with such familiarity!

Jones turned his hooded face and sneered a Byran. His eyes showed only cold disdain. The other man was stopped dead in his tracks by the look. It left him speechless and somehow afraid of the person he had thought would be a friendly face.

Inside the main building, he was met by the two faces that had begun him on this journy. Bala and Pellax stood waiting patiently at one of the house's nondescript doors. Both were dressed in the same jet black parody of a Starfeet uniform that he wore. Their faces were stone as they acknowledged his presence with a slight bow of the head.

"Bala, Pellax, are we waiting for Master Gallus?" The last of the trio to arrive looked from one man to the other. Both stood silently watching him.

"Those names are now meaningless," Bala finally answered. "Those people no longer exist."

Confusion danced across Jones' visage.

"Enter," the Trill said, motioning to the door. "You will understand when your training has been completed."

The door swung open at the slightest touch to reveal a darkened room. It was completely empty. The light of the hallway disclosed nothing but barren walls and a hard wood floor. As Jones entered, the door closed seemingly of its own accord.

In a room by myself, he thought. Quite the test.

"Good one."

Jones spun with blinding speed to face the impossible. It was himself.

"So what's with the vampire look," the double continued. "I know S-31 is black ops but this is ridiculous."

The other man in the room wore a standard issue security uniform. The pips of a lieutenant gleamed sharply from a yellow collar. That wasn't the only difference however. He smiled. His face held far less care.

"Who are you?" The black clad figure ordered. His lightsaber was in his hands and ignited seemingly of its own accord.

The other laughed. "What does it look like, Eienstein. You're me! I'm you! Whatever. Though I have to say we've taken a little turn for the worse if you ask me. You're turning us into a psycho."

"I never asked you." The red glow receded into nothing with a soft fizzle. "And don't talk to me about mental stability. We've never taken a second thought about anything we've done, good or bad. Questionable moral character, remember. Don't even try that holier than though crap."

"Hey, I know I was never an award winner when it came to good deeds but you've taken it a step beyond. You take the cake, buddy."

"Don't glass over it. You're a killer. Plane and simple. You may want to cling to the delusion that it was our tech skills that got us into 31 but it's bullshit. We were tapped because we are one of those few with no qualms about burning a hole into someone's brain if it meant protecting the Federation. And we're damn good at it too."

The Starfleet officer held up his hands in defense. "Alright. Fine. But that has always been business. You're different. You're not just eliminating a target and moving on anymore. You're enjoying it and you're making a show of it. I may not have cared but you actually like it. Hell, that last job you didn't even bother to sneak in! You walked right in the front door and went on a killing spree for fuck's sake! Gees, be a professional will ya."

"Damn right," came the heated response. "You bet I made a show of it! And you bet I made them pay. I will not skulk in the shadows any loner! I have no need to hide from the likes of those fools. Now they know what they are truly up against and their fear will grow. I can drive the Republicans screaming before me, back to their own space and even into it! You. You can do little more than a common street thug."

"True. With these new powers you can do everything quick and easy but look what it's doing to you. Look how you acted to Byran. He saved your life if you don't remember."



"No. He saved YOUR life not mine. I am not the pathetic stooge that you are."

The double laughed again. How easily he did that. What a sound it was. "Sure you are. You're even sadder because you don't realize it. And the saddest part is that somewhere along the way you stopped fighting for the Federation and started fighting for the plans of that crazy little bastard and you haven't even noticed yet. You..."

The rant was cut abruptly short as the unseen hands of the Force restricted around his throat. The dark Jones had heard enough. This man before him was not who he was. Not any longer. This man was pitiful.

The Starfleet officer collapsed to the floor clawing at his collar. He looked up into the cold eyes of his twin and tried desperately to gasp out his plea. The other looked down and smiled wickedly as he felt the life seep away. He reveled in the fear and confusion emanating from his victim.

The Jones on his knees finally marshaled his faculties and concentrated on staying alive. His throat might be closed but he wasn't giving up without a fight. With head hung forward he thought of nothing but the slowing of his heart and the conservation of whatever air was left in his lungs.

A snip-hiss heralded the return of the red energy blade. "I know as well as you how long you can hold your breath. Frankly, I'm not prepared to wait six minutes for you."

Lieutenant Jones heard the hum of the blade retreat, stop, and then move in swiftly again.

The lone figure in the spartan room extinguished his weapon and calmly emerged back into the corridor.


* * *


"You have risen above who you once were," Darth Gallus recited before his three apprentices. "You have cast aside those shadow of the past and embraced the darkness that you now are. You are no longer those men. You have changed. I have transformer you. Now I will give you names fitting of your new stature."

He looked from the men who were once Bala, Pellax and Jones and intoned three names in turn. "Darth Fectious, Darth Necros, Darth Stryfe. You are now Dark Lords of the Sith. You have done well my friends. Everything is going exactly as I have foreseen it."



Wherever you go, there you are.

Ripped Shirt Monkey - BOTMWriter's Guild Cybertron's Finest Justice League
This updated sig brought to you by JME2
Image

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2003-02-28 06:18pm
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
When the wormhole, and the new galaxy that it led to, had become the soul domain of the Republic military, the scientific aspect that had begun it all was thrown to the wayside. Now, deep within research facilities and institutions of higher learning across the galaxy, technicians and graduate students poured over everything from alien archives to alien biology. Readings from the wormhole itself were still being analysed and re-analysed until there was nothing left they could share. Certainly, access to a new galaxy was a major event for the Republic’s scientific community and they weren’t about to let any opportunity slip

Within the bowls of the University of Coruscant a small, pale man stared intently at a small, pale view-screen. It was historical and cultural data from the savage government of the United Federation of Planets that he was studying with such vigour. How the Republic had received this information when they did, he had no idea. He had been told it was recovered from a savage human spacecraft. He wasn’t buying it. People just didn’t bother carrying around that much information in a starship. There was no point to it.

There was also no point to arguing about it, however. Especially with Professor Croc. With him you did what you were told and did it with as much detail as possible. Anything else was just be asking for a hassle that wasn’t worth it. If he said it was from a transport, sure, it was from a transport.

As the translated words poured down the screen the man made constant notes and references. The report he would be preparing was merely a simple outline of the other galaxy’s human history and development, a preliminary summary for his professor and most likely some others higher up, but he worked as if on his life’s work. He knew this ‘simple outline’ meant he was forced to lay every major point out ad nauseam for Croc just to have everyone else read only the executive summary. The small, pale man shook his head and continued on his toil.

He wasn’t the only one in that situation though. In another part of the Republic, two research technicians were finishing a battery of tests on a small subsystem of the latest enemy vessel to be heaped upon them. It was another teleporting pad. Human this time. And if they didn’t get their comparison with the other pads completed within the next two days it would be their asses.

Unfortunately this particular piece of alien crap wasn’t shaping up to be any less useless than the rest. On the plus side, for a galaxy as divided as the media was portraying, the two techs were quite impressed by the cross-cultural standardization, but that was about as far as it went. Once the droids had figured out the controls of the first unit they had found that every other teleporter was configured in exactly the same way. You didn’t even have to know the next language to be able to make a good guess at the console layout. Now, if the thing could only send something through an actual wall, it might be worthwhile.

But at least they only had to deal with cold, hard technology. On another planet, one blessed with a level six bio-facility, a scientific assistant tried to maintain her level of enthusiasm as she oversaw the sixty-third specimen full body scan and genetic decoding of the day. She had jumped at the chance to see the Other Human’s up close and be a part of finding out just how human they actually were, but it was getting fatiguing.

The first scan had elated her. It was a human through and through. The second one confirmed it. They were the same species as her. The mind boggled at how it could be true but it was. She couldn’t wait to read how the comparison with the citizen information bank turned out.

After about scan twenty, the charm had worn off. She was fighting to stay awake and watching the clock like a shamkrit. If Doctor Massii thought she was staying one second passed her punch-out time, he could shove his tentacled face up his butt. There was overseeing and confirming readouts and then there was babysitting droids.

As the assistant checked the time yet again and dreamed of being on her way home, another woman far away was doing the same thing. A woman that happened to be at the top of this intellectual pyramid. She didn’t have the luxury of keeping to a time-sheet however. Somehow Doctor Gerra Windfire still found herself at the head of the wormhole’s scientific program and that meant late nights of keeping track of every piece of information to stream down her console screen.

The exhausted and eye-sore woman closed the file on the latest findings on species biological cross-comparison in the new galaxy and leaned back in her chair, listening to each of her vertebra pop one at a time. She couldn’t care less about the similarity between ‘klingon’ and ‘romulan’ physiology, but it was her job to stay in the know about everything. No matter how many times she told the Senate oversight committee that she only really cared about the spacial conduit itself, and no matter how many times they told her that her requests were ‘in the pipeline’, she was still here, keeping track of it all.

Breathing in the air of her darkened office, Gerra closed her eyes and sat listening to the silence for a beautiful moment. Too soon, the chime of her inbox was announcing another submitted report. Bowing to the inevitable, she opened the document and began to skim.

The Force was finally with her. This was what she had been waiting to receive for the past few hours. Her grad-students were finished their latest string of analyses on the data gathered by the probe droids and had been interpolating the meanings of the results. There was some general information that hadn’t changed since the first scans, but there were also new details, new theories, side notes that might not have been of interest to anyone who hadn’t had to slog through lengthy dissertations on human development and DNA matching. Fortunately, she had.

“P-19,” the scientist asked seemingly no one. “Can you connect me with Vox please?”

“Certainly, Doctor,” a mechanically human face appeared on her screen and answered.

In a second, a tiny beaked visage was floating above her desk. If the creatures expression could be read, it looked somewhat surprised to be getting the call at this time.

“Gerra,” it croaked. “Your still in your office? I would have figured you’d have gone by now.”

“I would if I could, Vox,” she replied with a smile. “Listen. I just got your report. I haven’t read all of it yet but I want to know how confident you are with these cycle predictions.”

The small image moved from curious to slightly nervous. “Why? You see something wrong?”

“No.” There was a thoughtful pause. “Just something familiar.”


* * *


The Republic Star Destroyer ‘Angel Fire’ floated serenely in the void between stars. It was one of three such ships holding station in this seemingly useless section of space. Along with her sisters, the ‘Venom’ and the ‘Nottuine Eye’, she had pulled guard duty for one of the native trading stations of the region. It wasn’t exactly what could be described as exciting work but it was a good chance for the crew to rest after the combat they had seen.

Captain Brightmoon stared out the ‘Fire’s massive bridge window at the hanging disk and its other Republic guardians. Just a short month ago he had been in bloody combat with these Ferengi. Strange how relations with them seemed to be so amicable now. He didn’t trust it. These natives had fought tooth and nail for every inch of their territory. They had pulled every trick, every deceit, every amoral, unethical tactic in the book until they had been pushed to the very doorstep of their homesystem. Then, seeing nothing but defeat, they had surrendered. Not only surrendered but had been as pleasant and accommodating as possible. Extinction was bad for profit, they had said. Or something like that anyway.

Normally the trading post was home to thousands of ferengi and countless other species that had called the Ferengi Alliance home, all in pursuit of the ultimate deal. Now that number was nearly tripled by an influx of Republic troops on leave, stretching the stations environmental limits to their maximum. The merchants were having the time of their lives. Their bankers weren’t doing to badly either.

He was almost sure they were suppling holdout worlds and marauders with equipment and resources from this place. It was on the top of a very long list of suspected black-market hubs. If they were left unchecked he knew the smuggling would escalate into Republic technology. Well not on his watch. Three Star Destroyers would put a stop to that. Not to mention an actual law enforcement presence that wasn’t corrupt.

Freighter traffic sluiced in and around the tri-axis of monstrous watch dogs in a chaotic attempt to birth around the facilities two kilometer diameter. How still and inert it looked in the center of all that activity. Its blinking external lights were the only hint of the bustling life that teemed inside.

“Harrok,” the captain of the Angel Fire said as he noticed his deveronian executive officer. “I thought you were going dock side. Isn’t it your down shift?”

“Crowds always bother me, Sir,” the horned man replied primly. “I just end up angry and wanting to sink my fangs into whichever slack-jawed idiot is dragging his heels in front of me.”

“Doesn’t mean you have to be on the bridge,” the captain returned. “Why don’t you relax Har? Watch a holo or something. You’ll burn yourself out if you’re not careful.”

“On this tour?” Harrok gave his superior a smirk and a narrowed glance. “The action we DID see was more like target practice than combat. The troops may have had a harder time of it but I doubt by much.”

“That’s not how Commander Vigo tells it.”

“Meka’s a whiner, Sir,” the exec shot back frankly. “Every day some great trauma befalls him and every day he makes it through just fine. There’s really only so many times I can hear that the Republic is on the verge of collapse.”

“Oh, he’s alright,” Brightmoon defended the absent Commander.

“I suppose, Sir.” The deveronian wasn’t convinced.

“Captain!” The call rose up from the com/scan pit to break the conversation. “We’re picking up a ship inbound at low light speed. Federation military design. Their vector is straight for the station and I’m seeing no indication of them dropping to sub-light.”

“Battle stations! Helm, Scan, be ready to follow.” Harrok’s order reverberated around the cavernous room.

“If these pirate savages think they’re going to take three Star Destroyers off guard that easily, they’ve got another thing coming.” Captain Brightmoon hurried to his command station and watched as a hologram of the surrounding area flashed to life. The trading post and accompanying ships were tiny dots to one side, the new comer, an advancing streak.

“Fire Control,” he said as he pointed down to the pit on his right. “Be ready for their attack.”

“Five seconds until they’re on top of us. Sir, they’re deploying something.”

“Shields are operating at 100%,” an officer shouted from across the bridge.

“Position us to cover the station,” Brightmoon ordered evenly. “The native’s shields may not be able to handle the attack. Contact the Venom and the ‘Eye and have them deploy to follow suit.”

“The ship is past and gone, Sir,” com/scan reported. “They dropped out of light speed at four light years and changed course. The torpedo is...”

“I see it,” Harrok interrupted, pointing to the image of the space station floating above them.

The cylindrical object had dropped out of warp little more than a kilometer away from the station and now drifted harmlessly onward. In seconds it hit the ferengis’ shields and bounced off like so much discarded trash. There was no explosion, no destruction, nothing but confusion and concern.

“The torpedo seems to be a dud, Sir.”

“Indeed.” The reply came slowly, unsure. Brightmoon wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“The Venom is reporting that they have a clear sighting if you want to drag it out and vapourize it, Sir,” the com/scan officer offered.

“Give them the go-ahead but advise that they put themselves between it and the station. I don’t trust that thing’s shields to be any better than a dry dock tug.”

The back and forth of the cargo barges hadn’t ceased throughout the entire scene. Most of them probably didn’t even realize what had happened. That blissful ignorance was horribly stripped from them as the tractor beam of the Venom made contact with its target.

The torpedo that had been fired had never been designed to detonate on impact. Its path was only meant to bring it as close the its enemies as possible. When the tractor beam caught firm hold, a sensor within the device made note and let loose with its payload.

In a blinding flash that burned the retinas from all those unfortunate enough to witness it unprotected and not be vapourized, half of the ferengi space station was transformed into a mist of unrelated atoms. Those hapless ships caught in the blast radius winked out of existence without pain or fanfare. Those on the other side of the facility were not so luck.

Scattered like leaves in the wind, the remaining cargo vessels rolled and collided out of control. Those that had escaped the torpedo relatively unscathed were now pounded into rubble by their brothers. They tried to regain some sense of attitude in the destructive wave but to no avail. Any thrust of a stabilizer only brought them hammering into the gutted and venting remains of another ship.

The trio of Star Destroyers did not fair much better. For the first time in their tours of duty within the Milky Way Galaxy, the captains of the Angel Fire, Venom, and Nottuine Eye found their ships blaring alarms and drifting awkwardly from their original positions.


* * *


Two technicians aboard the Angel Fire got up from their dive to the floor and looked back at the now opaque window.

“What the hell was that,” one shouted to the other as he tried to rub the splotches from his eyes.

“I don’t know but it looked like an accident I saw once when I was stationed at Som Levi. I don’t know what the hell it did but a whole lot of people got in a whole lot of shit over it.”


* * *


“Port shields gone, Sir,” someone shouted over the klaxons. “Damage reports from all decks.”

The report registered to the captain and first officer but neither of the men acknowledged it. They were too busy with what was unfolding out in space where the trading post had once been. Their eyes were transfixed.

“Helm back us out of here!”

The initial explosion had only been the precursor to what was yet to come. Some how, some way, the blast had torn a rift in the very fabric of space. The rend now crackled evilly with catastrophic energy as debris was enveloped and devoured. Before everyone present, the remains of the ferengi space station were cracked like an egg and sent drifting in every direction.

In the distance, the other Republic ships were pulling away from the strange effect. No link could be established between the captains. All frequencies were static. The three had spent enough time in heavy jamming fields to know how to read the others’ actions however. Nothing needed to be said.

At this range a huge gout of plasma could be seen billowing from the ‘Eye’s underbelly. In the light of the spectacular column a small freighter was illuminated as it spun past and finally righted itself.

Awed by the devastation around it and counting its blessings, the tiny ship and her crew decided it would be best to put as much space between it and the combat zone as possible. By whatever twist of fate, their practically antiqued warp drive had remained intact. They didn’t make them like they used to. They were going to use it.

Captain Brightmoon watched as the freighter engaged its engines and jumped to light speed. He wouldn’t have given it a second thought if not for the flare that leapt in the devilish rift. As the native ship stretched and disappeared, the tear shot hungrily after. The Nottuine Eye was in its direct path.

Before the man’s wide eyes and gapping jaw, the fellow Star Destroyer that he had served with for years was torn in half.


* * *


“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Dad! Get us out of here!”

Tim Durny had been born on this cargo barge. Looking out the small circular window at the widening tear in space, he was certain he was going to die in it too.

“Settle down, Tim,” his father hollered back from the cockpit. “What ever it is, it looks like it’s taking off after that other ship. We’ll be out of here in a jiff.”

“But look what it did to that ‘Destroyer Dad,” the seventeen year old yelled back. It was the first time he had seen one with so much as a scratch. “I thought the ferengi were part of the Republic now.”

“I don’t think that was from the ferengi, Son.”

Tim appeared at the door and jumped into the seat beside his father. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if we left before it decides to come after us.”

“I don’t think it’s alive Tim,” the older man replied. “We’ll go to warp just as soon as we’re clear of all this rubble. Why don’t you go ahead and warm ‘er up.”


* * *


“Rotate to present our stern and get those port shields back up,” Brightmoon hollered to his officers as he watched the ‘Eye drift lifelessly apart. If the Force was with them the blast doors would hold off the vacuum and they would be able to recover most of the crew. “What the hell is that?!”

“Quisonno Rift, Sir,” a junior officer piped in without missing a beat.

“Qu... What the hell is it doing?!”

“It’s attracted to the spacial distortion of their drives. After the initial explosion we would’ve been safe if it wasn’t for all these ancient buckets milling around.”

The captain looked out of his forward window from the tear in space to the remaining freighters unwittingly trying to right themselves and get away. His gaze was drawn instantly to the most mobile of the tiny specks.

Bobbing through tumbling chunks for ship and station, the barely visible point of light made steadily away from the horrific tear into subspace. It’s course changed almost constantly. It had to.

As the dot, so far away in space, yet so intimately close to the situation, found its way clear of the debris field, Brightmoon’s gut wrenched. He would have sworn he could see the radiation of its engines intensify a split second before all was washed away by the insatiable hunger of the rift.


* * *


“Shit!”

As soon as the warp core had come on line, space, the icy void that had been sweet home for so long, was suddenly no longer so friendly. The tear shot a tendril forth like an eel toward a fish. What remained of the ferengi station was torn even further asunder. What remained of those in and around the docking ring were either cast like grains in the wind or vaporized all together.

“Strap in Tim.” The three words were all the older man would spare to his only pride and joy. At the moment he was far to busy pushing himself beyond his limits to talk.

The aging freighter banked hard, back into the rubble it had just escaped, in an attempt to avail itself of its unthinking pursuer. If they were lucky, whatever it was would continue on their original vector. If it followed, perhaps it would be sated by some of the wreckage.

They were not lucky.

“It’s still following us Dad!” Tim’s eyes darted from his computer screen to the forward portal with each moment. He had never seen his father fly with such reckless abandon. Huge scraps of metal rushed passed with only millimeters separation. Their direction changed with absolutely no warning, threatening to pull the ship apart. They danced and spun, trying desperately to put everything they could between them and the juggernaut that followed.

“Give us a little more power. It’s following but I don’t think it’s gained any ground on us. Maybe we can still lose it.”

The statement was true enough. Where ever the freighter turned, the rift in space kept perfect pace. Nothing stopped it from its purpose. Nothing stood in its way for long. Whole ships blinked out of existence in its wake. But it did not close the gap. It was content to follow.


* * *


The Captain of the Angel Fire watched in dismay as the freighter came steadily back towards his ship and those of his comrades, bringing an ever increasing wave of destruction with it. Not far away, the Venom had already moved to begin retrieval of the ‘Eye’s crew. Everywhere, lifeless hulls drifted and lifeless eyes stared frozen in the vacuum.

Then the rift jumped.

“They increased power from their warp drive, Captain.”

“I know. I see it.”

It was amazing to watch. The tiny craft, still trying only to get away, had foolishly boosted its power. This caused the rift to not only leap ever faster after but also greedily send a second writhing tentacle from its base. Energy frolicked visibly across both arms in a dazzling display. When the two closed and ran parallel, the crackling discharge played from one to the other.

Still the little barge fought against death. It was beyond fancy maneuvers at this point and simply charged ahead. It was losing its battle now, however, and the end seemed imminent.


* * *


“OK. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”

Before them loomed the hulking shape of the Star Destroyer, behind was the hellish rift. If anything could stop this, if anyone knew what to do, it would be that great ship and the Republicans on it. If they could get behind it they would be safe.

“We’re clear to engage warp, Dad,” Tim advised as the starfield cleared to them.

“No,” came the reply. “I think it’s attracted to the warp field. We’re going to get that ‘Destroyer between it and us.”


* * *


“They are pulling the tear straight for us, Captain. I have a firing solution.”

“Take their engines off line and pull us away from the other Star Destroyers. They have enough dealing with that first offshoot.”

As the words left the man’s mouth the rift flashed to life yet again. Another warp drive had come to life. And than another. And another. Somehow half a dozen ships had all come back to life at the same time. They bolted from the scene in all direction, inadvertently laying waste to everything they passed.

The Angel Fire, the Venom and the remains of the Nottunine Eye were all consumed in a raging doom that would leave a scar of the very fabric of space itself.


* * *


“Yeah, that’s a nasty scar,” Private Morae remarked to his companion as the other man finished his story. “But I still say the one on my ass is bigger.”

“That’s just because you’re obsessed with your ass.” The other, Sleed, hoisted his rifle across his shoulders and casually scanned the open square before him.

The sun was shining and the air was clean and clear but people didn’t seem to be enjoying it. It wasn’t right. Hell, it wasn’t right that he had to be here covered head to toe in armour and breathing through a filter. But that was the way of things. The Force wasn’t always easy on a man.

It wasn’t like there weren’t any people in the square really, but they all seemed to have somewhere to go in a hurry. No one looked up from their determined stride. No couples lingered by the fountain. They all made a point of avoiding eye contact with the emotionless helmet he wore. They didn’t even spare a glace at the swarms of droids that were working feverishly to reconstruct the city’s demolished buildings.

“You’d think they’d be a little more pleased,” Morae commented as his gaze followed a particularly shapely bajoran. “We bring these guys up out of the stone age and they continue to fight us every step of the way. It’s not like we’re running around shooting them in the streets or anything.”

Without warning the soldier stiffened and raised his weapon to his shoulder. “<You shoot and I’ll shoot!>” The amplified voice bounced off the surrounding buildings, echoing one of the few bajoran phrases the man knew.

Startled out of boredom, Sleed jumped for but a second before he realized what was going on. One hundred meters away, a boy of not more than ten years held a camera and a terrified expression.

“Put the blaster down moron!” He grabbed his partner’s rifle and forced him to comply.

“No pictures,” the other shot back. “Orders are orders.”

“Orders are orders? Shut the fuck up! What were you gunna do? Shoot the kid?” Sleed was moving before the other soldier could reply. In moments he was slowly kneeling before the child.

“Sorry kid but I’m going to have to take that camera..” He reached out a hand, millimeter by millimeter, steadily closing on the device in question. The boy flinched as he watched the hand. It was obvious that he hadn’t understood a word of what had been said.

“Come on, kid,” Sleed continued. “I can’t let you keep that. Why don’t I trade you some candy for it, huh?”

“He can’t understand you,” Morae shouted from their original position. “Now who’s the moron.”

Distracted, the boy took his eyes from the soldier before him for a split second. It was the chance Sleed needed to snatch what he was after. Confusion turned to anger and the child was instantly trying to take back what was rightfully his.

The Trooper rose to his feet and began to examine the camera while at the same time trying to keep the whining boy at bay. The scene had begun to draw attention now. People were gathering. Now, no one was afraid to look them in the face.

“Take it easy kid.” The calm voice did nothing to sooth the situation through its filters. An armoured hand reached out to gently hold the child’s arm only to garner more squirming.

Out of nowhere a man was suddenly pulling the boy backwards and trying to insinuate himself between the two. He shouted and jabbed his finger at the soldier, clutching for the camera with the other hand. The pair soon found themselves in a strange dance. The Trooper soon found himself surrounded.

With one fluid motion Sleed knocked the wind from his adversary’s lungs and the feet from underneath him. His blaster hung awkwardly from his shoulder now and his targeting display was racing from one figure to the next.

“<Don’t move,>” he shouted over the unintelligible jeers of the masses. Another handy bajoran phrase.

The gathered pedestrians ignored him. Their frustration had boiled over and this was just the excuse they needed.

“<Don’t move!>” Sleed was doing all he could to keep hold of the camera and his weapon while keeping baneful hands at bay. He was being pushed this way and that, fists knocking harmlessly off of his plated coverings. He didn’t want to hurt any of these people but anything less was fast disappearing as an option.

“<Everyone back!>” Morae was moving in, blaster raised. He didn’t wait for compliance but instead began laying into the crowd with pulse after pulse of stunning energy. In moments the ground was littered with unconscious bodies and the air was thick with bricks and bottles.

“I’m ok. I’m ok,” Sleed said as he was helped up by his still firing partner. The camera was now in pieces. “I guess you don’t need to worry about the pictures anymore.” I steel pipe ricocheted off of his head, snapping his neck back in instinctive compensation.

“Yeah,” the other replied, pulling off another few shots and crushing the camera under his booted heel for good measure. “And here I thought civilian patrol was going to be boring.”

“What? On this rock? You gotta be kidding me.”

The hail of debris followed the two troopers as they fell back for better cover. It continued until everyone in sight had been either rendered inert or had fled for safer ground.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2003-05-15 05:01pm
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
Picard sat silent amid the roaring cheers of his fellow freedom fighters. As usual, the klingons were the most boisterous, breaking into song as the destruction played itself out again and again on the glowing viewscreen. While not a complete success, the first deployment of their subspace torpedo had shown incredible results. All Picard could think about was the incredible loss of innocent life.

Those people had been getting on with their lives. They had thought their war was over. They had thought they would finally be safe. This ‘test run’ was not going to bring support from the civilian governments.

And they HAD been getting more support of late. Especially with the images that were floating around the quadrant. The Republic’s power could not stop the spread of information. They could erase files and confiscate pictures but there were always more.

A little bajoran boy, Picard remembered. And a faceless, armoured soldier.

From the images, the soldier seemed to be manhandling the child. He was taking something but what it was, was unclear. Then there were the shots of the crowd. They ran for their lives as the soldier and his partner fired mercilessly at anyone on the street.

These had roused the people and made them question even the charitable deeds of the Republic. The news of the torpedo, which filled every legitimate news broadcast, had the opposite effect. And the occupational governments made sure it was very well known.

But for all of Picard’s misgivings, the tear had done its job. It was the only weapon they had that could effectively act against Republic defences. This, he had to admit, was what brought allies. Even if they were ripping up there own territory in the process.

And allies had come. Assembled together in this room, aboard this ship, floating in dead space between stars, were delegates from what remained of the last hold-out fleets of the galaxy. Bits and pieces. Rag-tag pirates and marauders. They were all that was left against the overwhelming might of the Republic. None had won a battle yet. Hope had all but gone for most of them. Until now.

“Very impressive,” the romulan commander commented with a guarded smirk. “Very impressive indeed. But we’ll obviously need to improve delivery. The Republic’s lack of a warp field precludes their attracting the subspace tear. Those freighters seemed to do the job that time but I would prefer that my Warbirds did not perform the same roll.”

“You said ‘we’,” Riker noted from his captain’s side. From his experience, romulans, and this commander in particular, chose their words very carefully.

“Yes,” came the measured reply. “Without the Romulan fleet you stand no chance, as I see it. Even with these torpedoes. Our numbers are the largest. Out vessels are the most intact.”

“That’s because you run from battle at every turn,” countered a klingon to the uproarious laughter of his fellows.

The romulan’s neutral expression never wavered. “I choose my battles. I fight when I can win. Perhaps if klingon tactics consisted of more than closing your eyes and running headlong into walls, you would see the wisdom in this. Perhaps if you admitted our total lack of power over this enemy, you would have more than a few hundred battered ships.”

“What is this?” The aging klingon captain that spoke exaggerated his surprise. His white mane of hair and thick beard flowed over his scorched jerkin like snow covering the scraps of a junk heap. “Do I hear a romulan admitting the superiority of another?”

“The Romulan people have no trouble acknowledging the superiority of others,” the commander sneered. “This is merely the first time we have seen it.”


* * *


Chaos reigned in the void as the Republic patrol flotilla was met with more than they could possibly have anticipated. They had been having too easy a time of it up until now and they were getting a rude awakening.

The savage’s marauder fleet had come out of light speed en mass in their standard wall formation. As usual it was right on top of the Star Destroyers. They had learned early on to fear the heavy turbolasers and stayed well under their range. Not that they faired any better against the other weapons.

The attack wasn’t even a surprise. The patrol had seen them coming and immediately deployed fighter squadrons in a holding pattern amid and around the larger ships. When the enemy dropped out of warp, they were set upon by hundreds of the tiny craft from all directions.

Curtains of phasor fire engulfed the fighters. Many were vaporized in seconds, many more wheeled expertly about, giving back as good as they got.

In the mean time, the larger craft of the Republic opened fire, choosing their shots carefully and raining death as they had done so often before. When the marauders began to launch hundreds of seemingly harmless drones, the captains of the patrol gave them curious thought but told their gunners and squadron commanders to ignore them as a confusion tactic.

“Copy that, Blue Leader,” the pilot designated Blue Five answered from the cockpit of his X wing. A quick burst of blaster fire cleared one the drones from his path.

The fighter dodged left, than right, as a network of enemy beams slashed out at him. He was making another attack run on a particularly stubborn Warbird but was finding too much activity for a clean vector. Every time he thought he had a chance for a torpedo shot, he had to evade another lance of phasor fire, get around another drone or...

A TIE Interceptor flashed passed the X wing, forcing it to shift thrust hard to the high right.

“Hey! Watch it Gold!”

The damned TIE pilots were always doing things like that. They sat shipboard picking their butts while his squadron flew around the fleet ad infinitum. He and his mates were always the first into battle. They always came to clean up and claim victory. Being docked on a Star Destroyer apparently gave you licence to be an asshole.

Blue Five finally launched his torpedo and spun away to the devastating death throws of a battered Miranda.

Another drone bounced off the X wings shields.

“Shit! R6, you OK back there?” The droid twittered something in reply that could only be offensive.

Checking his sensor feeds, Blue Five suddenly became aware of a disturbing trend. Not only was the enemy keeping to the outside of the fleet, something very dangerous for their fragile ships, but their drones seemed to be locking on to the trails of the fighters and even some of the bigger ships. He himself had one of the little buggers following him now. What were they up to?

Again the agile fighter pilot wheeled his craft about in time to escape being devoured by the rapid decompression of yet another enemy. Another of his brethren was not so lucky. On his targeting screen a friendly blue dot winked out.

Banking swiftly, Blue Five sent his automated follower into the path of three approaching TIEs. The other fighters made short work of the device and disappeared back into the chaos. It wasn’t long, however, before another of the annoying machines had latched on to him again.

The battle raged as they always did and vessel after marauding vessel succumbed to the might of the Republic. Yet, they did not break and run. Instead of hitting what they could and making an escape, they continued to engulf the flotilla. The defending commanders thought little of it. They were grossly outnumbered but making short work of the savages. Whatever their strategy might be.

Those thoughts of easy victory were soon swept away. When all of the remaining attacking ships were in position, a wave of torpedo fire speared into the Republic defenders. Before the torpedos could find their targets, the attackers turned and went to warp leaving nothing but incoming ordinance and random drones.

The marauders disappeared, the torpedos exploded and the tiny, limited warp field generators on the drones flared to life. In seconds, the Republic patrol ships were being torn to pieces by angry white bursts of energy jumping chaotically in their midst.

“This Blue Five to Blue Leader! Anybody! What the fuck is happening!”

All around the darting fighter, space itself seemed to be coming undone. Great fissures were opening all over the battlefield, crossing paths, ripping through drifting debris, and chancing down his fellow pilots. Even he was being bourn down on by the unbelievable activity.

The comm channels were alive with pure fear as everyone tried to understand the situation and form some sort of way to combat it. Some ships began recalling their fighters, others barred their hanger doors, some urged retreat, while still others called for intensified fire on the now zig-zagging drones.

Two cruisers were torn to pieces as subspace rifts flew hungrily after the warp fields of the drones.

“Somebody get this thing off of me!” Blue Five threw hit stick forward, diving from his current path in hopes of shaking the now deadly automaton on his tail. Somehow it stayed with him. Even worse, the fissure it pulled with it stayed as well.

The fighter spun and banked around both the drifting carcasses of the battle as well as others of its kind. A glowing tear loomed in from of him and he juked again. An off-shot leapt to meet him, joining with the branch on his tail and adding to its power. The drone pulling the cosmic string was consumed and the fighter was left to go free.

He watched as the Star Destroyer, Impact, was pounded from all sides by crackling energy and began to buckle. To the side, a wing of fighters was consumed in an instant. The area was becoming massive, closing net of destruction.

Across the field the call to withdraw was sounded. It was too late for that though. The detonation points of the rifts had been started outside the globe of the fleet and had struck inward. Tears cut from one side to the other now, crossing this way and that, circling, dissecting, englobing.

The X wing blew apart another drone and rolled away from the now stunted rift on its tail. He looked for others to form up with but found writhing tongues of plasma. He looked for a way out of the death trap but found only emptiness.

The stars? What happened to all the stars?


* * *


Across the quadrant similar events were unfolding. Ships would drop out of warp on either side of a patrol. Warp field generating drones would be fired. They would in turn fire the subspace torpedo and act as bait for the rifts. In the middle would always be doom.

The Republic would always fire, taking out dozens upon dozens of the deadly seeds but it was never enough. There were always a few left to ply their trade. Their only hope was in escape. The entire quadrant captured and they were forced into retreat by savage pirates.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it would seem our enemy has found a pair of teeth.” Admiral Pooda stood before the assembled holograms of his upper command. There was no mirth in his tone, only a flat statement of fact.

The eight other admirals murmured briefly at the statement. This was not a problem they had been anticipating after this long in the New Galaxy. Why now? Why when they were all but defeated were the savages unleashing this weapon.

“They’re desperate,” one forwarded to her fellows. The creature’s web-like ears flapped vigorously in her contempt. “They don’t really know what they’re doing with this.”

“She’s right,” another chimed in. “This weapon is powerful but completely unfocused. They have very little control over it.”

“Good,” came the words of their commander. “Than we won’t think of it as an obstacle.”

“Well I wouldn’t say that...”

“People,” Pooda barrelled through the interruption. “We have allowed these guerillas and pirates to cling to life long enough. This is not acceptable. Our primary course of action now is to seek them out through every nebula and backwater bung hole planet until they are no more. The galaxy WILL see order. And by the Force it will see it before Grand General Bastin comes through that wormhole.”

The assembly was held in silence. This was far ahead of schedule.

“Yes,” the hulking man continued. “As most of you are aware, our fearless leader has been pressuring the Senate to open commerce into this quadrant. This would force the Jedi into policing the area while we move forward against the rest of the galaxy.

“Suffice it to say, he’s making a show of having the quadrant already completely secured and the population pacified. We are going to give him just that or you know who’s butts it’s going to be.”


* * *


“She is on the move again.”

Jenna looked up from her meditation at the sound of her old master’s voice. He was leaning against the wall of her tiny cell, his arms folded loosely across his chest. It was pose he had taken countless times in life. Even in death, it brought a boyish air to the Jedi.

“I sense it too,” the woman replied. “I feel her making her way back to the wormhole. She has been gathering for forces, hasn’t she.”

“Indeed.” The spectre gave a casual glance around the confinement. “You’re not concerned with your apprentice hearing you now?”

“No. She will see and hear anything she wishes. There is nothing that can be done about it. She wishes to convert me, to bring me into one with her, not destroy me.”

“I suggest you mind your thoughts than.” Luke straightened and moved to sit beside Jenna. The stiffness and strain that had marked his age for so long were now gone.

“I sense great conflict coming, Master Luke. I sense danger to us all. Mai-Men will play a role. Of that I am certain.”

“Yes.” Luke nodded thoughfully. “Terrible darkness has grown in the Force. Your young apprentice has caused a great stir, but there is more that will be done before her destiny is met.”

“I can not allow her to continue on her path,” Jenna stated. The will of the Force was not something that could be resisted but she could also not sit idly by without apposing Mai-Men’s rampage.

“There is only one path, Master.”

The booming multi-voice echoed throughout the cube. There was no anger in it. The girl was trying to educate her mentor. It was the same tone Jenna had used on her again and again throughout her training. It was a reminder of a simple truth.

The luminous image of Luke Skywalker looked from the ceiling of the cramped confines to his former student. A passive smile graced his features. It was another habit he held from life. It had always made him appear as though he knew far more than anyone else. Most believed that he did.

“Mind your thoughts my old apprentice,” he said, tapping his temple. “Mind your thoughts.”


* * *


The Jedi Knight was not the only one to sense the coming storm. On Earth, the heart of Republic occupied space, a room full of silent forms probed into the dark reaches of the Force. Four stood out at the head of the gathering, menacing forms in dark hooded robes, deep in concentration.

Images flew freely before Darth Fectious. Federation ships and their allies were dealing great blows to the Republic forces now. The president could not deny the validity of his advice. They were finally see results. Soon the man would obey every word that he said. He would have total control. He would be able to strike at the Republic without the hesitation of the other commanders. He would be able to gather forces with strength and decisive action.

Starships exploded around him in a great battle. Vessels of every type and configuration fought for their lives. The vision ended in the blinding fire of hundreds of man-made stars.

Lord Necros found himself immersed in the horrendous spacebattle as well. He watched as ships rushed passed him in all directions, tearing each other apart. He watched as the very space around him opened to devour everything around him.

Than it began to come after him.

The fucus shifted and he was embroiled in much more intimate combat. Borg drones surrounded him and he was laying waste to them. He was fighting his way toward something but he could not determine what.

The drones became Republic troopers. He was hacking them to pieces, moving ever forward. He was searching for a man. He could feel it. Someone important. Someone that could not be allowed to live.

He looked around to see bodies strewn around him as far as he could see. His lightsaber cast an eerie glow, adding to the macabre scene. He was alone.

For Darth Stryfe, images of screams and dying filled the darkness. Than, he too was alone, fighting for his own life. Pictures and feelings jumped from places to place in a confusing array. In the end, he was standing between the shadow and the light. The world fell away before him.

What Darth Gallus saw as he delved into the dark side of the Force, none would know. He said nothing, but merely chuckled softly to himself.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2003-06-26 12:28am
Offline
Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
“That is a negative, Omega. We are seeing no activity in your vicinity.”

“Copy that, Command,” Lieutenant Masker said into his helmet transmitter and shut off the channel. Looking up, he knew the satellites stared down at him from somewhere. He knew that they could differentiate one insect from another from orbit. He just couldn’t believe what he was being told.

“What do our boys tell us,” he asked, turning to one of his sergeants.

The soldier tapped a few commands on a forearm pad and seemed to focus off onto nothing for a moment.

“All spy-globes report no activity,” he relayed. “No visual, no movement, no humanoid thermal. The hills appear to be clear, LT.”

Masker and his unit, along with many others, had been tracking the rebel Bajorans through the mountain and hill country for about a week now. They had routed the savages and were now making a clean sweep of their strongholds and hideouts. Intelligence held that these were the last of the overt holdouts, but that just meant that they were the best. They had been putting up one hell of a fight this whole time and now they were desperate.

He looked back at his waiting men and than onward to the hills ahead. They rolled away from him almost lazily. It was a deceptive illusion however. The thick forest that bordered the left side mocked his visual scans. The stands that dotted out from the main mass spread shadow and darkness. Recon told him that the area was clear. There was someone who had a different opinion. Someone he had learned to trust.

The Lieutenant glanced over to the soldier at his side and waited for the man to rebut. Corporal Jacem ‘Jedi’ Jonner merely shrugged. It was just a feeling after all.

Jonner was, of course, not actually a Jedi, but he was the closest they were going to get as far as Omega Unit was concerned. No one had any idea what his medichlorine count actually was, accept maybe himself and the medics, but everyone was sure it had to be pretty damn high. When The Jedi got a feeling about something, you listened to it. It was usually right.

New recruits to the unit always asked if he’d ever been approached for training. They harped on how he should try for acceptance and develop his talent. In true Jacem fashion, he would simply shrug. He was a soldier, not a monk.

Besides, hokey religions and ancient weapons were no match for a good blaster at your side.

“I don’t know, Boss,” the corporal’s voice came filtered through his helmet. “The hills aren’t right. I’d glass the whole place before we go in.”

“Problem with that, Jed, is that Command doesn’t believe you.” Masker brought the magnification up on his HUD system and once again scanned the horizon. “We can’t get confirmation of any activity.”

Jonner’s Sergeant stood next to the two with his arms folded. “Call in the droids.”

“The only units available are the ones we have left,” the superior answered. “Again, Command isn’t willing to commit resources without evidence of enemy forces. Satellite sees nothing, globe recon sees nothing, we get no support.”

If the floaters didn’t find anything there was no way one squad of battledroids and six destroyers would have any better luck. Not with so much ground to cover.

The man put a hand on Jonner’s shoulder. “Sorry Jed. Looks like they don’t think you’re good enough. And we’ve already burned way to much of our timeline standing around. We’re moving out.”

The Jedi shrugged, still looking off into the hills.

Back among the ranks, Sleed was rechecking his gear for the tenth time.

“Whadda ya think’s going on,” he asked the others around him. “We’ve been sitting here staring at those hills for two hours now.”

“I think Jac’s got one of his feelings again,” someone answered. “They’ve been sending out floaters.”

“Fuck the remotes,” Morae piped up. “If The Jedi says they’re out there, we should be getting off our butts and kicking some of theirs.”

Sleed shook his head in exasperation. “Shut up.”


* * *


Lana watched the advanced line of enemy through simple binoculars as they held their position miles away. He was hot as hell. The bloody stealth suit was seeing to that. At least it was doing its job though. Not one of the tiny globes that zipped by had homed in to his location. Or that of any of the others, for that matter. Nor had they seen the artillery that was hidden either.

The grizzled old fighter ducked his head back into the dirt and underbrush as another of the persistent little orbs flew by. The nest did seem to be stirred up. He didn’t like it. Someone out there knew something. They were searching too hard.

Everyone had been on the run since the thunder came down on the main base of operations. They were scattered throughout every wilderness on Bajor now, picking up supplies and people as they found them. It was desperation and Lana knew it. They were running out of places to go.

I should have stayed in the city with the smart ones, he thought to himself. Urban terrorism was a hell of a lot easier than this guerilla shit.

The soldier pulled his face slowly from the ground. The wide tarp that covered him and his gear lifted slightly at the edge once more to allow him his vista.

Come on you lot. Come on. There’s no one here that’s going to hurt you. Much.

He smiled as the troopers he was watching disappeared over the ridge and in time came pouring over at a easy, yet steady, gait. The bulk of the Reapers were taking the easy way down the middle but they were also sending their robots out in two groups to sweep the hills to either side. It wasn’t unexpected.


* * *


“I still don’t like this, Boss,” The Jedi said, scanning the surrounding tree line and re-adjusting his grip on his blaster.

The Lieutenant did not respond, but instead, looked to the soldier in command of the droids. The trooper shook his head, indicating that still no contact had been made. The orbital operators too, advised yet again that they could see no activity.

“Alright Command,” Masker spoke into his helmet link. “But keep up scans. This whole place stinks.”

“The whole planet stinks, Omega,” the reply came through with little humour. “I have you in my scopes and I’m not letting go.”

And so they marched on with small comfort and less chatter, checking their surroundings and looking over their shoulders, never quite trusting in the mechanized support flanking them. Perhaps it was simply that the idea of ambush had been planted in there heads. Or maybe the air was thick with suspicion in those highlands. Whatever it was, it came as no surprise when the first shots were heard, ahead and to the right.

“I’ve got something now, Lieutenant,” the familiar voice, now somewhat more interested, advised through the ether. “Multiple humanoids engaging your droids on the western ridge. Twelve in all. The thicket of vegetation isn’t large. Encircle and you should be able to prevent escape. If they break for the western slope you should be able to pick them off from any lower position.”

“Way ahead of you, Command,” Omega Leader said as his soldiers fanned out and advanced on the position being fed into their helmet displays. They had known this was coming. They were ready.

To the west, blaster fire scorched the air and wisps of smoke twisted up to mark the destruction of a Republic Destroyer droid. The bolts of energy crossed over one another through the trees, turning anything they touched to blackened char. The shadows under the sylvan canopy flashed red with greater and greater intensity.

The droids had marched right over the rebel position. Shrouded as they were in their life sign dampening camouflage, the bajorians had allowed themselves to be by-passed before striking at their enemy’s rear. The destroyers had been the first to be targeted. Everything available was punched into the droids’ hind-quarters to ensure their destruction before any shields could be activated.

The ploy had seen to the end of two of the deadly machines but the third managed to survive. It now stalked the underbrush on its tripod base, felling trees with great arm cannons in a brute force attempt to flush out its attackers. Its five humanoid companions moved with much more ease in the forest and added their own cold proficiency to the battle, as well as guarding its unprotected back.

A single shot lanced out, taking the head from automated shoulders. The two battledroids at its side spun on their heels and raised their weapons but found nothing. Taking one silent look at each other, they each began to advance, one on the left, the other, the right. A second blast streaked to the right. The droid ducked behind an ancient tree, its partner let forth with its rifle at the calculated origin of the attack. When the smoke cleared, there was one less bajorian.

Behind the two, four rebels had popped up from the vegetation and rained their own energy down on the remaining destroyer. It was to no avail. Their blasts and phasor beams deflected harmlessly off of the shield to impact on and slice through the thick trunks and branches around them. They soon had to retreat for cover as two more of their number fell to the droids that had manoeuvred to flank them.

As another battledroid dropped, its chest glowing as it disintegrated, the tri-legged juggernaut pushed forward in a growing swath of havoc. Four more savages had been reduced to burning pieces at its might and it showed no sign of stopping. A blast ricocheted off of its shield, what would have been a hit to the head, and flew off into the sky. The location of the shot was drenched in a storm of fire.

Of the original twelve, now only four rebels remained to make a random and weaving path away from their enemy. “We can’t get a positive fix on the rebels themselves through the trees,” the voice from Command advised. “But we’re tracking the droids toward the ridge. They’re going to try to make it up the slope.”

“Roger that, Command. My shooters will be ready.”


* * *


Intelligence indicated that the enemy was coming in its usual overwhelming fashion. It hadn't taken long for them to find the location of this staging point once they had set themselves to it, and it had been even faster for reports to start coming in that they were amassing at Earth for their strike. The hit and run attacks with the subspace explosives had given the Republicans more than enough incentive to expedite their efforts in enforcing peace.

What was the count, Picard thought to himself as he listened to the communications chatter between ships. Was it really five? Five systems rendered completely uninhabitable by the subspace rifts? He hoped everyone else thought the price had been worth it. Now they had angered the giant.

And the one most responsible for all this in Picard’s mind, this Commander Bala, was as deeply in bed with the Command Council as ever. Even after his mysterious disappearance and subsequent return not two days ago, he was still untouchable. In fact, the man had not been seen since being sequestered with the rest of the aides, councilors and other general no-it-alls. The Federation was about to officially falling apart and they were whispering behind closed doors. The Enterprise’s captain wasn’t even sure which vessel they were actually on any more.

He scowled and watched the massive viewscreen before him as his compatriots jockeyed slightly, deep within the churning clouds of the Briar Patch. All ships were as ready as they were ever going to be, as far as the reports coming in indicated. Now all they needed to do was wait for their turn. Hopefully, back here in the second wave, it wouldn’t come too quickly. As Picard listened to the comm traffic of the front line silence almost from one second to the next, he knew that probably wasn’t true.

Looking at his crew, the people he had spent years of his life with, the people that were closer to him now than his own blood, he wondered if he would see any of them alive again. This stand off was wrong. He could feel it in the pit of his stomach. Even with the sub-space torpedoes they could not hope to win against a foe with that much fire power, that many resources. They should be scattering the fleet. If the Republic had found them than they should be running away. They should be getting as far away from this place as they possibly could. The whole situation was absurd.

Commander B' Val stood aboard the Romulan Warbird, Semek, studying the wave after wave of enemy ships appearing before him and thinking the same thing. They blinked into existence one by one, seemingly stretched and distorted, and than condensed back to their normal shapes to hang silently in the darkness. Even as his keen eyes crossed the great expanse to connect perhaps with some other commander from a galaxy far, far away, his ship's sensors were registering hundreds more just like it, from all sides. The whole area was being englobed. For all the Republic’s might, they had not been expected to engulf an entire nebula. This changed things already. There would be no escape.

The plan agreed upon had been a simple one. The Republic had tracked the resistance fleet to its base in the Briar Patch and were making no illusions as to their intensions. Their nose had been bloodied in the latest round of skirmishes and their ire had been flamed. They meant to crush the rebellion once and for all. The Romulan Empire and its allies would let them come and a portion of the combined fleet would make a stand on the outskirts of the ion storms. Intelligence told that the Republic had no firm idea as to the exact numbers that they would face and it was hoped that they would believe this portion to be the total of their enemy's forces.

While battle was joined by this first group, another portion of the allies would hold position within the Briar Patch itself, using the chaotic environment as cover. These ships would wait, ready for their companions at the front to retreat. When the enemy ships gave chase, they would be met by fresh forces and a renewed attack.

A third group, laying in wait, in the shadows of the system's outer-most planets would than charge from the rear, dividing the Republic's attention and forcing them deeper into the natural plasma discharges of the area. These vessels would begin their bombardment from maximum distance, maintain the assault with full firing capacity until they had reached point blank range, and than commence engagement until their forces were diminished such that they must regroup with the other defenders. Warp strafing had been a tactic argued for this battle group but the inevitability of Republic Interdictor Cruisers, as well as the incredible danger of warp maneuvers where sub-space explosives were in use, ruled it out entirely.

The defender's fourth and final detachment would make an appearance only when the Republic was on the brink of victory. There were no doubts that the Reapers would win the day, it was only a matter of giving them something to remember and being able to get at least a few survivors out to keep up the fight. This fleet was too large to hide from the unblinking eye of the Republic Navy, but if a few good people could live on, they could recruit and rebuild and slowly find a way to win back their homes. That was where this last contingent came in.

The men and women of these final ships would not be the ones to live on. Quite the opposite, they were there to give their lives so that others could escape. They would strike out from their position in orbit around the Baku homeworld, deep within the Briar Patch, and create as much of a shield as they could around their crippled brethren. They would do their best to guard the retreat of any survivors before trying to head for warp themselves. All of the ships new they would see action. None expected to see warp at the end of it.

It was a simple plan indeed, the romulan thought. And useless now that he saw the the numbers they faced. He would be lucky if he saw half of what would become of it once the first shots were fired. It was easy to become pessimistic when facing the forces that had turned the entire military of your government into dust.


* * *


The Republic Star Destroyer, Leviathan, dropped out of hyperspace neatly in line with its comrades and held its coordinates, waiting for the remainder of the armada to form up. The bridge was alive with activity. Every one was in motion checking status, giving orders, carrying out orders, or merely somewhere in-between. It was a din that echoed throughout the assembly.

Captain Mulby stood amid the cacophony, still and silent, his executive officer at his side. Before them a holographic globe displayed the arrival of the Wayfarer and the Wraith in perfect formation beside them. The man nodded at the precision and sighed.

“Something wrong, Captain?” the XO asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh, no,” the older man replied. “But it’s almost sad, this battle. For awhile there we had something interesting to do. After today it will be over. Back to patrols.”

“Not to worry, Captain. I’m sure this wild galaxy has plenty for us to do.”

“I suppose you’re right, Commander.” The captain didn’t look at the man but continued to study the formation, taking note of any possible errors that may effect his own ship. “Inform the Forger to tighten formation with us. She’s drifting.”

“Aye, Captain. Com/scan! Open channel to...”


* * *


The endless swirl of the wormhole was almost hypnotic as Darth Stryfe watched it. His universe had become nothing now, accept that colossal vortex, the hum of the shuttle around him, and his undying hatred. Even the presence of Darth Necros, piloting at his side, was but the slightest breeze on his perception. His was a singularity of purpose, a refinement of thought and deed.

The leader of this invasion, the very head of the dragon, was going to come out of that black cave. He was going to cut it off. And he would work his way up and down the command structure if he had to, until the Federation was back in the rightful hands of its people. Nothing would stand in his way. Nothing.

“Do not allow over confidence to be your down fall my friend,” the trill in command of the tiny ship remarked, pulling Stryfe from his reverie. “Our enemy is powerful. The Force has brought us here together. That is how we will prevail.”

“One of us must prevail. That is why we are both here,” the other returned, annoyed at his partner’s condescension.

“Your perceptions are weak, Lord Stryfe. You do not have the experience at listening to inner guides that I do. Nor the patience.”

“Don’t confuse your slug with the Force, Necros. You don’t have a frame of reference for any of this. You don’t have some past life comparison that you can drag out now.”

The two sith warriors turned from each other and continued on in silence until the great expanse of the Republic Dawn was all that filled their main portal. Security clearance was given almost before it was asked for and even though it was no longer valid, for some reason docking control let them through. That code clearance would do.

Top
 Profile  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 29 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group