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  1. Greetings, everyone! Want to read the Challenge entries, but don't have time to sit down at your computer? Need a way to take them with you on your tablet or mobile device? Now you have it! Please enjoy this full compilation of the May and June Writing Challenge, available with all the entrants' stories and judges' comments. This is a PDF document with interior hyperlinks to each story for your ease of navigation, so do please read at your leisure. Let me know if you enjoyed this easy way to read! It's available here!
  2. Welcome to our first summer 2014 Writing Challenge, everyone! For this round, and as the heat begins to creep up, we'd like you to consider a potentially divisive topic: Do what is right, not what is easy As chosen by the winner of our last round, Travis -- aka Lt. JG Tyler Kelly -- this may be one of Starfleet's guiding principles, or it might be a justification for atrocity. He writes: I think it would be interesting to write about a time when you have to make a choice between the greater good and simply 'going with the flow.' Maybe a superior officer gives an order that you have a moral objection to. Maybe there are people dying of a curable disease on the planet below but the Prime Directive tells you that you can't intervene. As Starfleet officers our characters face these kind of decisions from time to time and it can be a very interesting idea to explore. What do you think? Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you as a writer or any of your characters? How can you take this idea and apply it beyond what you might expect? We look forward to finding out! As of today, Monday, May 5th, this Challenge is open! All entries must be received by Tuesday, June 24th in order to be considered for this Challenge. As always, please remember:*Your work must be completely original.*You must be the sole author of the work.*Your story must take place in the Star Trek universe, but may not center upon canon characters. *Sign your final draft as you would a post on your ship.*Your story must be between 300 and 3000 words. For any questions you might have, remember that you can always post questions to this thread or visit the Writing Challenge website. Good luck!
  3. The Wind Knows a Song for the Ages Hot sand stung her face, and she pressed onward. Prohibitive gusts blowing in from the east set the whole group staggering, digging heels into loose sand, waving arms for balance, squinting desperately against searing, ancient, wind-tossed grit. The hoversleds rocked and tipped dangerously. Roupo, her timid lab assistant, looked around nervously, hoping Dr. Atell would call for them to turn back. Unless she made that call, no one else would dare. Dr. Atell pressed onward. The eastern desert plateau on Qor’na’Krinn stored the secrets of a long-dead civilization, of that Mina Atell was certain. It was the ion storms that had, for decades, prevented a closer look. Ions meant no beam-ins from orbit, and for anyone trying to get close to the planet’s secrets, no beam-ins meant a long walk across treacherous desert landscape in impossible conditions. To add trouble to trouble, the journey had to be made in a window of time when the storm broke and lifted partially from the atmosphere. Netrebkov had tried once and failed. So had Syrek years ago, and he had that heat-ready Vulcan constitution to draw on, beside the vast resources of Daystrom at his command. Dr. Mina Atell had none of that, but she had a passion, a deep, heart-breaking desire to see what was in that desert, and decades of research that bore what she thought was a new approach. She might have been nothing more than a fool, if her colleagues were to be believed, or Gregg, who had said it to her too, and whom she always believed, when she wasn’t tuning him out. It began a career ago, before those war years with their requisite sacrifice and complication, back when she wanted nothing but a rough shelter and a good dig under the twin umbrellas of Daystrom and the Archaeological Council. Mina was a graduate researcher then, working on i’Ttwan proto samples for Syrek. It was that famed Vulcan’s other project that interested her. She fought him to get on the Krinn study, but he refused her. She’d had to find her way back to it on her own, years later, after her career was made. After she’d left Daystrom for a research position on Trill, and said goodbye to Gregg one time too many, and finally did the work she wanted. She had found the gap in the storm, the way through. She could predict it, measure it, determine the longest interval and take a team in and out before it closed. She’d already gone further than Syrek ever had. Her team of eight was following her dutifully across a brutal landscape, pressing ever on into the unknown. This time, Qor’na’Krinn’s secrets would be revealed. “They want to go back.” Roupo appeared next to her, his big eyes bulging, even through the goggles. A glance behind her confirmed that the team had stopped. Mina continued to walk, Roupo at her heels. “No. Tell them to move.” “I’ve tried! Atmospheric conditions are worse than our models predicted. They’ve gone as far as they’ll go.” She stopped and turned on them. Half a dozen students and research assistants, the best and the brightest. Cowards all. It was a little more wind than expected, a negligible deterrant. From the distance, she stared into Hul Peregrist’s deep brown eyes. Hul, who had begged her to let him come along, as she had once begged Syrek. Hul had given up a lucrative position on Alpha Centauri when she said yes. Now he was quitting. All of them were. They’d crawl out of this desert into academic obscurity, their failure widely known. Mina tapped Roupo on the shoulder. “You pull one hoversled, I’ll pull the other. Let the rest go.” They weren’t worth the withering look or the words she might waste on them. Let them all go. Roupo did as he was told, and the pair, burdened with sleds, pressed onward. Qor’na’Krinn’s surface was mostly desert now. It had once been something else, a living, breathing ecosystem of infinite variety. No living person on any modern world could attest to that fact, other than the researchers whose job it was to know the life cycles of planets. It had once been a candidate for Genesis testing. It had long been written off as useless, far from any well-worn spacelanes, out past 53 Verentis and hang a left at Alandor. Chuck the map and put the top down. Mina Atell knew every inch of the planet, outside the ion storm. The majority of it had been scanned and sensored, charted and categorized. She’d spent years poring over every micron of data. There had been life here once. Sentience was likely. And only here, in this desert, under the shadow of the storm that hadn’t lifted in recorded history, was there a chance to find some remnant of the Krinn people, or whatever they called themselves in that distant, crumbled-away time. She walked a stretch of desert that may once have been a field, a highrise, a bathroom for all she knew. What forgotten individual had paced this same ground, shared this space with her on a distant temporal plane? She wanted to know. Roupo stopped, and for a moment Mina thought she was going to have to go on alone. He pointed to his tricorder, barely functional under the storm. “A chamber,” he said, under his breath, under his shock, too low for her to hear. The howl of the rising desert wind was all that met her ears, but she knew in her gut what Roupo said. The Krinn chamber, that theoretical stronghold of forgotten culture, was before them, buried in the wind-whipped sand. She had found it. It was real. It was hers to uncover. ======== “Confirmed. A sealed chamber, 20 meters below the surface.” They had found shelter from the wind under one of the rocky outcroppings that punctuated the landscape. Roupo carefully unpacked the hoversleds, preparing to enact Atell’s plan even without the rest of the team. He pulled out the long-distance sensor rig, and the portable transporter pattern enhancers. He left the phaser cannon where it was. “My hunch was right. It’s sealed.” Mina set her tricorder on a ledge and took charge of the pattern enhancers. Roupo fumbled a bit with an amplifier, attaching it to the sensor rig. “We have less than two hours to get our readings, Doctor. We have to depart before the gap in the storm closes.” “I’m aware. The tricorder’s not reading any other chambers in the vicinity. Get that scanner up. We’re central enough now to scan the entire storm region.” She slapped the side of the large rig. “Get going. I want those scans.” “It’s scanning.” Mina wondered at the stone shelters, the only feature of the ancient landscape to survive the engulfing desert. How had they looked then? Was this the last of someone’s favorite oceanside view? Was it the heart of a mountain? “No pockets showing on sensors,” Roupo reported. “As far as I can see, this is the only chamber to retain its seal.” “That’s bittersweet.” She’d made it in. She’d found the way. She’d located the only source of pure archaeological data on the planet. At this age, unless they were sealed, any remnants of sentient life were gone, destroyed when exposed to the elements. One sealed chamber was a prize. More than one would have sealed her reputation for generations to come. This something was better than the nothing Gregg had insisted she’d find. His voice was on the wind. It said “Don’t go, Mina…” It commanded her to be reasonable. It pleaded with her to come home. Why she still thought of him, she couldn’t say. Except when she could. She looked Roupo up and down, the last remnant of her team. The dregs. With only the two of them, there was still enough time to get what they’d come for. She pulled open one of the transporter enhancers and planted it in the sand. “You’re going in, Roupo.” He blinked. She pulled open the second enhancer. “It was supposed to be Hul.” She tried not to balk at his protest. Had it not occurred to Roupo that he would be the replacement? Did he imagine it would be her, transporting blind through 20 meters of rock into who knows what? She didn’t have much time to convince him. “Hul turned back. You made it here. You’re the brave one, the one who didn’t quit. Roupo, you’ll be the first to see inside one of the most magnificent finds of the century. You’ll be as famous as the discovery itself. Generations will remember you, and envy you this moment.” He didn’t buy a word of it, but did what he was told. Roupo took the third and final pattern enhancer, opened it, and planted it in formation with the other two. Glancing at the storm readouts on the scanner, he moved to the center of the triangle. “Okay. I’m ready.” “Scan everything. Don’t touch anything. Don’t touch anything, Roupo.” “I know.” He was terrified. This wasn’t the high-level technology billions of people trusted their atoms to every day. This was a frontier gum-and-tape job, transporting him with little advantage into the somewhat unknown. There was a reason Mina wasn’t going herself. Roupo swallowed hard. “Ready to transport.” Mina’s last view of her assistant Roupo was mostly eye. They’d opened so wide the whites showed all the way around. He was terrified, excited, regretful of coming with her. His gaze darted to the enhancers in the last moment, wondering if they would do the job. Knowing somehow they would not. He winked out of sight, blue glow leaving behind only darkness. Mina’s jaw tensed. Roupo was experiencing the moment she’d dreamed about for years. She gave it to him. She was here, making the discovery, but she’d handed the real moment of truth to her flake of an assistant, a shy little thing, more nerves than gumption. She’d barely bothered to learn anything about him, other than if he knew how to write grants and analyze data. A clattering sound caught her attention. Looking down, she cursed. One of the pattern enhancers was blown over and clattered sideways against solid rock. That foolish Roupo. It was the enhancer he’d planted, and he’d endangered his own life in getting it wrong. If it had fallen a moment before, while he transported, it would have gone badly for him. Her hand moved to the comm on her wrist. “Roupo?” No answer came. She grabbed the enhancer and planted it upright again, then turned to the scanner. Useless readouts. No lifesign, but nothing else either. Her calculation couldn’t have been wrong. Comm malfunction through the chamber walls? That was possible. Or too much dust blown in on the journey, or manufacturer defect. “Roupo, come in.” Mina fussed with the comm, trying to raise him. Nothing, nothing, only time slipping away. This was obnoxious, but there was protocol. No comms meant she pulled him out. If he was fine, he could go in again. That was the protocol. Otherwise, the surface team, now only her, would sit there risking life to the desert, while he was dead inside a wall. She brought up the transporter controls. There was his signature, alive, but in what condition she didn’t know. She fixed a lock and engaged the beam. For the first time, a pit dropped out in her stomach. For the first time, she thought Gregg might have been right. The transporter wouldn’t function. The pattern enhancer that had blown over crackled and fizzed out, dead as any Krinn that ever lived. She spoke into her wrist comm one more time, knowing it was useless. “Hold tight, Roupo. The amplifiers are down. I’ll try to fix them. Hang on.” She had no hope of his survival. ======== Mina had spent nearly two hours trying to fix the amplifier, all the while eyeing the weather readouts. Roupo had to be out of the chamber soon. The ion storm’s jagged edge was coming for them. If they left soon, they’d make it out alive, though without the data she’d come for. She could press the time, and they could travel faster by leaving the equipment behind. If they missed the window, they’d be stuck, and Roupo, if he did make it out of the chamber without suffocating, would die of exposure alongside his mentor in the unforgiving desert. She had to get him out. She hoped he wasn’t touching anything in there. The pattern enhancer clattered to the ground again. It was hopeless. She’d begun to think it was one of the two she’d planted, but surely not. She wouldn’t have endangered him that way. She could hear Syvek’s voice telling her she was untrustworthy in the field. Careless he’d called her. Overeager. She could hear Gregg telling her to be safe, as if he knew what it took to be daring. She could hear the Krinn singing the history of their race on the wind, and her failure was the final note. There was another way to save Roupo’s life. The phaser cannon was their alternative to transporters. Twenty meters was a long way to go, but she could blast through that distance fast enough, so long as the weapon’s power cell held out. They’d be down to the last second ion-wise, but they could make it out alive, together. Only, the chamber would be opened, and all would be lost to the elements, no time to study it or gather comprehensive readings before the window closed. Those dead Krinn or whoever they were would be erased from history, the last few traces of their long-ago culture gone from the record. She began to unload the phaser from the hoversled. It was too heavy for her to lift alone. It was as heavy as genocide. The comm broke to life on her wrist. =/\= Please, Doc--- ---ll, don’t ----- -- here. Please, don’t leav- -- zzzt. =/\= She called into it. “Roupo? Roupo, come in!” Nothing more. That was all. The panic in his voice was as wide as his eyes had been. He knew he was trapped, abandoned, dying. Mina couldn’t think of Roupo’s first name. It hadn’t been important so long as he turned in data analysis on time. Was he from Malaysia? Or was it Indonesia? Who was going to mourn Roupo if he died? She had no idea who she’d call. Gregg might mourn her, when it came to that. She would mourn the Krinn. The phaser cannon clanked and groaned as she rolled it off the hoversled and into position. It activated easily, though Roupo was the one who’d studied the manual. The sensor rig was tied to it, and would automatically adjust as it dug down, down through the dead earth, tunneling through solid rock, burrowing into the chamber. Destroying her work forever. This was her moment to prove Gregg wrong, put someone else first, choose living flesh over cold, dead bones. This was her moment to snuff out the last Krinn voice, ending their age-old song for all ages to come. She thought of them, of their long-ago deaths, of their lives, of their right to be remembered for who or what they were. She couldn’t do it. It was wrong. She shut down the machine before the phaser blast got anywhere near the chamber below. “I’m sorry, Roupo.” She didn’t bother saying it into the wrist comm. The words bounced dully off ancient stone and echoed through hot, stale air poor Roupo would never breathe again. Mina collected her tricorder and downloaded what scans she could from the rig. She took a canteen and little else. A static sound came through the comm for a moment, but she ignored it. It was a long walk back, and time was already short, even without dragging the equipment behind her. Next one to find their way in through the ion storm would win a free phaser cannon and sensor rig. To the victor the spoils. Gregg had told her it wasn’t worth risking her life for people who had been dead too long to thank her. He was wrong. Whoever they had been, whether noble or honest or petty or cruel, scientists like her, or murderers, or failures, or sacrificers on the altar of history, they were worth remembering. When the authorities came for her, or Hul Peregrist turned her in, founding his career on her broken back, she would tell them it wasn’t easy to leave Roupo there. It wasn’t easy to lay awake nights dreaming of suffocation, of Roupo’s little hands scrabbling on stone, his distant, silent voice whispering horrors in her ear. They would vilify and crucify her. If she wasn’t imprisoned, she’d be a pariah to the end of her days. The killer archaeologist, the murderess, splash page in every paper in two quadrants. One day, when another archaeologist traced her path to the stronghold of Qor’na’Krinn, when the ion storm lifted just long enough for some other poor fool to attempt a claim on the chamber again, they would see how she had preserved it, left its secrets safely frozen in time, undisturbed but for Roupo’s sad, dead presence. They would thank her. She had sacrificed one man. She had saved the Krinn people from oblivion. Dr. Atell made her way out of the desert. The wind was at her back now, howling with Syvek’s condescension, Gregg’s disapproval, and most of all, Roupo’s mournful, unheard pleas for life. Someone else could decide if she had done what was right. The Krinn still sang, quietly, in the distance. Mina held her head high against the desert before her, the open labyrinth, the barren gauntlet, the terrain of former glories, and she pressed onward. ======== LtJG Rendal Rennyn Helm Officer USS Atlantis NCC-74682
  4. Reality of command "Yes Admiral, I did disobey two sets of direct orders and through my negligence to my duty as a Star Fleet officer I caused the deaths of three crew members as well as the destruction of my ship." Commander Arden Cain said without a trace of pride in his voice. The truth of course was more complicated or at least more detailed but the essence of the story was correct. And while he knew that he faced court marshal and even prison for his actions, right then in the Admiral's office wasn't the time for Arden to start defending himself. In a way, as far as Arden knew, the admiral was only the messenger not to mention the one that rescued Arden and his crew off of that sorry excuse of a planet. For that Arden was deeply grateful so he showed a little extra appreciation. Although that "extra" appreciation was quickly fading in the face of an unnecessary and annoying line of questioning. It seemed as though this Admiral was taking the whole incident personally even though she had no stake in the issue as far as Arden was concerned. He, like the rest of his crew was tired so all he wanted to do was to see to his crew’s well being and then get some much needed rest on the ride back to Star Base 75, even if that was to take place in a brig. After a week in a wet and overcrowded cave, the prospect of even staying in a brig felt like being in a Risian hotel. "And yet you still disobeyed your orders. I have review the logs and I can't help but get the impression that you planned on disobeying. Is that accurate Commander Cain?" the female Trill Admiral asked pointedly. "If I had planned anything Admiral, the rescue and subsequent escape might have gone smoother. No, planned, isn't a word I would use. I knew very well before I even heard the distress call that my career was hanging by a thread and yet that had nothing to do with my decision. I would have made the same call no matter what my personal situation was because I was in a position to help those civilians and I was able to do so, so I did." Arden said keeping irritation from his voice but not caring what else slipped through. The Admiral simply stared at Arden but this was the part that Arden didn't care about. While he deeply regretted the fact that the Altamira was destroyed and devastated at the loss of those crewmen despite not really knowing any of them or showing his grief, Arden was absolutely proud of the fact that he and his crew had saved all the civilians that were still alive when they had arrived on site. What's more was that because of his decision; a supposedly renegade Klingon war bird had been destroyed. That too was a little regrettable to Arden but he hadn't lost any sleep over the matter. "Out of interest commander, do you have the slightest idea why you were ordered not to engage the, at the time, unknown hostile?" The Admiral asked in what Arden was quickly seeing as her typical manner. "Because I was ordered not to deviate from the Altamira’s assignment being that of cargo hauling. The other reason, which I would be more inclined to follow, was because the 'unknown hostile's' apparent technological superiority meant that it would have the clear tactical advantaged. Statistically speaking of course." Arden replied. Arden then paused for a moment deciding how best to continue as it was apparent that that was what the Admiral wanted. He didn't quite know what the woman opposite him expected Arden to say or which answer she wanted to hear but it didn't matter as Arden had already had the time to think through them all. Ultimately though in that moment Arden decided to approach the matter as he had been trained and not as rashly as when he made the decision in the first place. "Somebody at Sector Command probably looked at the stats for a Miranda class vessel and came to the conclusion, based on that alone, that any attempt would fail probably in a dozen different ways.” Arden said before calmly continuing. “Tactically speaking such an assessment isn't wrong especially considering the outcome. If I did follow either of those orders, however, I would have condemned two dozen civilians to their deaths and Star Fleet would have been none the wiser about supposedly rogue Klingon activity." "As distasteful as it is to face, being a Star Fleet command officer sometimes means having to do things that run counter to the principals that our organization represents. And by extension there are times when we must set aside personal opinions and instincts. That is the reality of command and not some fanciful notion of doing what’s right. I would have expected you to have learned that lesson before now." The Admiral told him. Even though Arden didn’t take his eyes off the Admiral or say anything aloud he sighed inwardly. In a very real sense, it was that same reality that the Admiral spoke of that was the reason why the Altamira had been reassigned as a cargo freighter in light of another decision Arden had made. Another poor decision if Arden was to judge against the Admiral’s “reality” of command. "I have learned that Admiral and it’s something that I have accepted because I could see the reasons why those distasteful things, as you put it, had to be done.” Arden replied plainly. He could have gone into more detail or give dozens of examples on either side of the argument but there was no point. There was no need to be drawn into an ideological debate over something that couldn't be changed at that point. "Was there anything else you wanted to know Admiral?" Arden asked reluctantly. "Well you certainly seem eager to be done with me which is rather rude to begin with. But to want to leave before listening to my request, well that is something else." The Admiral said in a slightly playful tone. Or at least her tone wasn’t as stern as it had been up until that point. That knocked Arden off guard. He didn't understand what he was doing there in the first place or even why an Star Fleet Admiral had come to his crew’s rescue, let alone what request could possibly be made of Arden at that point. Surely it went without saying that the Admiral could get whatever she wanted from people that weren't about to be court marshalled. Arden couldn’t help but be intrigued if for only a few of those reasons. He wasn't foolish enough to think that the admiral represented a way to bypass the consequences faced. Just like many times before curiosity got the better of him so he stood silently and patiently. "Before we get to that though I would like to know how you got to the surface of that planet." The Admiral stated leaving the question implied but not expressly asked. "I have read the preliminary report but I want to hear it from you." Arden gave a sigh; he had had plenty of time to draft the report while waiting to be rescued but knew that he wouldn't escape having to retell the story. Some part of him did hope that he wouldn’t have to though. Whether he was proud of certain portions of the outcome or not, this particular story wasn’t one that he wanted to dwell on more than necessary. Taking another breath he began to speak in order to describe the events in the most concise but thorough way he knew of. "The idea was to drop out of warp in system just inside of transporter range and start beaming the civilian survivors out. We kept our distance from the civilian ships but did what we could to shift the attacker's attention to us. And all that worked until we made our escape from the system by jumping back to maximum warp." Arden said pausing for a moment to think before continuing. "The Klingon's closed the distance quickly and started taking pot shots at the Altamira's shields. They must have got in a lucky shot to because one of the EPS conduits running directly from main engineering blow out and I was told that it wouldn’t be long before we'd lose stability in the warp core. Firing the last of my photons torpedoes and detonating them early to hopeful blind the enemy's sensors I had my pilot drop us out of warp, we then dumped the warp core and ran like hell before it too detonated. We weren't far from the planet when the shock wave caught up with us and we went crashing into the planet below. " Arden paused having told the Admiral the first half of the story in order to give her a little time to process what he had said. In a way Arden also made use of that time to consider how he managed to take a string of the hairiest moments of his life and condense them into a minutes worth of dull story telling. Something in all that just didn’t sit right with him. "It goes without saying that the Altamira's landing was rough but she held together long enough to touch down on the planet’s surface with quite a few minor injuries. In that regard we were extremely fortunate. That fortune however didn’t last as after we recovered from the landing we couldn't have been planet side for more than twenty minutes when we spotted the war bird coming in for an emergency landing a couple kilometers away. After that we followed standard procedure: tend to our wounded, find better shelter, open lines of communication with the Klingon which was shot down almost immediately, and then activate a distress beacon as soon as it was safe to do so." Arden concluded listing each item off one by one. "I also read that after you defeated the last of the Klingon that you investigated their crashed vessel and proceeded to destroy what was left of their communication system. It strikes me as odd that you would destroy something that could speed up the time it took for rescuers to find you." The Admiral said completely unfazed by what Arden had said before that. "By that point we had a functional beacon and a shuttle that we could get into orbit if need be so I wasn't concerned about being found. What did concern me however was the very real possibility of more Klingon showing up and recovering what little data was left in those systems. My Klingon is a little rusty, but it wasn't hard to work out that the data that survived detailed attempts at improving the Klingon cloaking device. If I had to guess I would say that the Klingons were having a lot of success with those efforts. As much as I am sure that there are those in star fleet that would love that data, I felt it best that it didn't survive to be found. Off the top of my head I can only think of one other planet that I have been to that was as bad as that one. The last thing it needed was more Klingon." Arden said speaking honestly. "Besides the ionic disturbances that prevented my ship from locating you initially, the planet didn't look all that bad." The Admiral commented. "You forgot to mention the frequent and long lasting storms as well as the incredibly dense jungle. That planet certainly wasn't Risa but definitely survivable if you don't mind dark and foreboding environments." Arden commented almost in a sarcastic manner. "It’s of little consequence but since you brought it up, what planet do you think is so much worse than this one?" The Admiral asked curiously. "It was a small mining colony known as Dusters Range. Well that was until an unidentified Borg variant appeared there. More to the point, between those Borg-things and sand storms common to that world it goes without saying that I don't have pleasant memories of my time there." Arden told her. This time Arden didn’t wait long to continue. The events of Dusters Range were long behind him but that didn’t mean that Arden wanted to spend any amount of time reliving those memories after the last few days that he had had. "My life in Star Fleet has never been dull," Arden said pausing briefly. "even when it was meant to be. I suppose that is one thing that is never really covered at the Academy." "Yes one of those concepts that needs adding or revising but all things have a time. Perhaps it is the way it is for a reason." The Admiral said dismissively. "Speaking of time, the time has come to end this conversation which means you have a decision ahead of you. Orders from sector command are that you are to be held in custody pending a formal trail and court marshal. In light of certain facts it is highly improbable that you will be imprisoned for what happened but your career will be over. Have no illusions to that." The Admiral told him so plainly. Arden of course had come to the realization that it probably would come to such an outcome but found it a little hard having someone else say it. Before Arden could comment the Admiral spoke again. "That however would be an unfortunate and wasteful end in my opinion as I happen to be looking for a few good commanders for my task force. Given everything that I have learned about you, I'd say you'd fit in well.” The Admiral concluded. "And if I work for you, you make these charges disappear. As lovely as that sounds it doesn't sound legitimate." Arden replied almost instantly. As much as the offer sounded appealing and even desirable, it wasn't Star Fleet that taught Arden not to be taken in by something that sounded too good to be true. "It is absolutely legitimate, political but legitimate none the less. It is much the same as the formal hearing that you will attend, it’s all political. In that case though someone is using politics to get rid of you. I'd be interested in finding out why but that is a conversation for another day. I am not a member of Star fleet Intelligence nor is this a setup." The Admiral told him with more conviction then Arden had seen in the woman previously. "So what would you have me do in this task force of yours?" Arden asked seriously. "See that ship being towed out the window?'' The Admiral asked to which Arden stood up to get a look at it.”That will be your ship if you accept the position." "And get it operational by the looks of it" Arden commented. "The USS Cressida is a ten year old nova class but has been in dry dock collecting dust for the last two. More importantly is that she is yours if you still want to be on the front lines exploring the galaxy, making it a better place and all that." The Admiral told him but even though her words might have seemed more than a little sarcastic, her tone and face told a completely different story. Arden certainly had more questions in mind then he possibly wanted to deal with at that moment, the least of which was whether or not he wanted to accept the offer. Whether or not he should accept considering recent events also came to mind along with why a rescue ship would be towing a Nova class vessel during a rescue mission. As he took one more look out at the USS Cressida though Arden knew that perhaps the first of those was the easiest question to answer just as it had been when he was first offered the USS Altamira. So he turned back to the Admiral and spoke knowing that at least one question had been settled. “When do you want me to start Admiral?” Arden asked. “My crew will be set to leave this area in six hours. You have that long to get your ship operational or to arrange for another ship to tow the Cressida back to the Star Base.” “Of course Admiral, I will get it done.” Arden said simply. Ensign Atherton Grix Counselor USS Gemini
  5. ((Robert Falcon’s Ready Room; U.S.S. Yorktown – Earth Year 2385)) Captain Robert Falcon gave a long stare at the PADD he held, containing the results of Yorktown’s latest long-range scans. He did not want to believe them true, but knew he could do nothing else. Yorktown’s science officer, his eldest daughter Alice, knew exactly what she was looking at. This was not her first time encountering these beings, after all. Nor was it Robert’s. Alice’s report was kept very factual, nearly clinical in its objectivity. At 0800 hours, long range sensors detected faint energy signatures with a close match to previously observed Fury patterns. Further analysis and additional scans have given us a 75% confidence of the presence of multiple Fury warships in the vicinity of the Hor’Chak system. While interspace weapons technology has not yet been detected, it cannot be ruled out. Robert set down the PADD, leaning back in his chair. He was keeping news of this discovery as silent as he could until he figured out what to do about it. Many of his crew had fought against the Furies three years before. Those who had come to the ship the years following had all heard the stories, Robert was certain. He wasn’t sure if the news would be taken well that the enemy had somehow returned. To be honest, Robert himself wasn’t taking it all that well… Still, he knew what he had to do. While his orders did not permit him to talk to anyone else about it, they didn’t prevent him informing Starfleet. He tapped the comm controls. “Jiana, open a channel to Starfleet Command, priority one secure.” A moment later, his XO/Helm Officer/Wife Jiana replied, “I’m on it. It’ll take a few minutes to establish the secure connection from here.” A priority one call to Starfleet Command… He’d never thought he’d actually make one in his career. The Furies, however… THAT was important enough. Of all the things he had encountered in his career in Starfleet, none matched the level of fear they could inspire. He remembered the class everyone had to take back in the Academy, learning about their involvement with the peoples of the Alpha and Beta quadrants. More importantly, they learned of the two attempts made, at that point, to return, as well as the events which pushed them to a far part of the galaxy. Robert had left that class with a bit more trepidation about what he might find when he ventured out to the unexplored regions of the galaxy. Years later, the long lost starship Voyager made contact with Starfleet Command and reported a great many things. One of the reports Robert had been most excited to see was their encounter with the Furies, mostly due to its ending. For all intents and purposes, the Furies could be considered no longer a threat. Gone for good! Others had not taken the news with quite the same optimism as he had… Admiral Kyle Colt, stationed in one of the further reaches of the Federation, felt that Starfleet should not rest on their laurels and had taken matters into his own hands. He’d led the ships under his command in an attempted coup against the Federation, with few people standing in his way. Robert’s ship, with him as Executive Officer in temporary command, was in the right place at the right time to see what Admiral Colt was planning and stop his attempt cold in its tracks. However, Colt was able to remain several steps ahead of everyone. He’d always had a backup plan in case he was stopped. Though his ship was under the guns of what few ships Robert was able to draft into an impromptu defense, Colt was able to cloak and escape, leaving behind only a message for Robert that he could hear from Colt again one day. “Robert, I have Starfleet Command over priority one secure.” Shaken out of memory, Robert looked up and tapped the comm. “Thank you, Jiana.” He took a deep breath, turning his chair to face his desk terminal and activating it. For a moment, it showed the Starfleet symbol, the words Starfleet Command written above it, Priority One Secure Transmission written below. Then, the image changed. A gray-haired human male with sharp blue eyes and an admiral’s insignia on his collar appeared at dead center. The room was dark, though Robert was not sure if it was simply night where the admiral was or if he had moved to a more secure room. “This is Admiral Vellan, Starfleet Command. Captain, what have you got for me?” Robert straightened in his chair. “Admiral, we’ve picked up energy readings giving a strong possibility of Fury presence approximately 30 lightyears from the Federation border. We’re too far out to get a size or disposition of the force at this time. My intention is to close the gap and gather more intel to verify what we’re detected so far.” Admiral Vellan blinked hard, mentally processing the report. “You wanna run that by me again, Captain?” Robert did so, this time slowing down and giving the admiral all the details he had. Admiral Vellan nodded as Robert spoke, taking in all the information as it came. When Robert finally finished, Admiral Vellan spoke again. “I’m going to have to call for an Admiralty meeting to go over this. I need you to stand by and stay put, got it son?” Robert nodded. “Got it, Admiral. We’ll be standing by on this channel. Yorktown out.” The transmission ended, Robert leaning back in his chair and taking a deep breath to keep his calm. He’d expected that a problem of this magnitude would take a bit of time to get a response. He was a patient person by default… but in this case he really hoped Admiral Vellan got an answer to him quickly… The door chime beeped, Robert looking up toward it. “Come,” he said. The doors swished open, admitting one red-haired human. His wife looked to him, some concern on her features as her brilliant green eyes met Robert’s blues. Robert figured she had seen the transmission end, with Robert not immediately returning to the bridge. The doors swished shut behind her as she started over toward him. “What’s the word?” “Stand by,” he replied with a bit of theatrical tone to suggest it was their current order. “Admiral Vellan has to talk it out with the other high pubahs so they can figure out how they’ll respond to it.” Jiana grabbed one of the chairs opposing him, spinning it to sit on it backwards. “Well, at least he believed you that we saw what we saw.” Robert shrugged. “Or decided to give be the benefit of the doubt. It could still bite me in the butt later on.” He gave a soft sigh. “I thought we were done with this…” “Me, too,” Jiana said, reaching out to grab Robert’s hand atop the desk. “If nothing else,” she offered, “this time we know they’re coming ahead of time, instead of getting randomly ambushed by them.” “True,” Robert admitted. He sighed, shaking his head. “But last time, we also didn’t get much Starfleet support… Can’t believe I’m admitting it, but I wish Colt were around…” Colt had been true to his word. About three years ago, and two years after their previous encounter, a strange transmission had come in. Admiral Colt had come to recruit Robert for his real mission, stopping the Furies at the edge of the galaxy. Robert had been skeptical at first, but Colt gave sufficient evidence of their impending arrival, along with the tech he’d developed to allow a fleet of ships to burrow through the Galactic Barrier. Robert, one of the few people to outthink Colt, was the one person Colt trusted to find the holes in his plan. Between the two of them, they managed to make a plan that worked. Robert sighed once more. “I don’t see much chance of him coming around this time, though. He’s still a fugitive, after all.” “True,” Jiana replied, “but Starfleet has to see the problem this time. It’s right in our backyard, plain as day.” Robert turned to look out the viewport at the expanse of stars. “I know,” he said, seemingly distant. “Yet… why do I get the feeling they won’t?” A long silence fell in the ready room, the pair passing the time with hands linked for mutual comfort. Finally, the intercom came alive. “Dad,” Alice’s voice spoke, “we’re getting a call back from Starfleet Command, priority one secure.” “Thanks, Alice,” Robert responded. “Put it through in here.” “Got it.” Jiana pulled her hand back as Robert got situated back in his chair, giving his uniform a quick tug to remove a few stubborn wrinkles. He reached out to tap his terminal. Moments later, Admiral Vellan reappeared on his screen. His expression was… neutral. “Captain Falcon,” he started, “the Admiralty has decided that, for the time being, there will be no response to the alleged Fury presence.” Robert’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Sir?” “Furthermore,” he continued, “you are not to speak of the energy readings you detected with anyone. That goes for your entire crew. Do you understand, captain?” He was silent for a moment as he attempted to process what he’d heard. “I… I understand what you’re saying, Admiral, but not the reason. Why aren’t we reacting to this?” The admiral’s expression broke, betraying his own annoyance. “Most of the Admiralty want to ignore it, pretend you didn’t see what you thought you saw. The overall opinion was to wait until they show their hand, if they ever do, and muster forces at that time.” He shook his head. “I can’t say I agree with that opinion, but the head of Starfleet herself made the final call. Those are her marching orders. Do you understand, captain?” Robert barely contained a sigh. “Yes, admiral, I do.” The admiral looked at Robert for a moment longer. “I know it isn’t what you wanted to hear, son, but it’s what I’ve got. Get clear for now and be ready to fight another day. Command out.” The admiral’s image was replaced by the logo once again, Robert slumping back in his chair and fighting to hurl the terminal across the room. It wasn’t the terminal’s fault, after all. It was just the messenger. Jiana was a bit more vocal about her frustrations. “Those… Those pig-headed morons! Do they have ANY idea what’s about to happen?” Robert looked up at her, a tired expression on his features. “Maybe. Maybe they’re just scared stiff, or think that if we don’t move the Furies won’t see us, or figure we’re too tough for them to take down.” He shook his head. “And by the time they see that they’re wrong, it’ll be too late.” “Will it?” Jiana asked. “What if we do something about it?” He looked to his wife, eyebrows furrowed once again. “Ji, we’ve got our marching orders. Get our butts out of here and back on patrol.” “Rob, you know how bad this could get,” she countered. “WE know how bad this could get.” Robert’s eyes closed as he thought. “Do you really want to go through that again?” he quietly asked. “You know what we went through last time, and back then we had backup. Do you really want that again?” ((Bridge; U.S.S. Yorktown – Earth Year 2382)) The bridge rocked as another volley of enemy fire impacted the shields. Jiana held on to the command seat tightly. “Damage report!” From the left side of the station before her, Jacen Tharen spoke up from tactical. “Shields down to 54% and recharging slowly. Port-engineering hull phaser array has been knocked out by the power feedback from the wedge.” Another report came from the engineering station. “I’ve reports of power failures on decks 18 and 19, repair teams responding.” Jiana swore under her breath. Yorktown’s refits were extensive, and she was a tough ship, but she hadn’t been designed with Furies in mind. Their jury-rigged shields, reformed into a wedge shape known to deflect the interspace-based fear inducing weapons the Furies favored, had wreaked havoc with their power systems. “Where are our escorts?” Jiana asked, looking at the science station. She could see a flurry of dots, red and blue, dancing around the console’s readouts. Admiral Colt’s ships were providing as much cover as they could to allow Yorktown and her crew to do their jobs. “Chasing down other ships,” came the reply. “One’s working back to us, the other’s a little occupied.” It was an ambitious plan. The Furies had managed to use their artificial wormhole technology to get close to the Milky Way, getting their planet in orbit of a rogue star outside the galaxy. They planned to use the tech again to move back into the Alpha Quadrant, now that they were close enough to get an actual target to jump toward. Robert and three of their grown children, James, Alice, and Rebecca, had gone to the surface to try and sabotage the system… and send the Fury’s planet into the rogue star. It was very risky, as the team could well still be on the planet when it fell. It was also drastic, as it was highly likely none of the Furies would be able to escape. Jiana had little sympathy. They could have taken the hint by now that they weren’t welcome in the Alpha Quadrant anymore. “Status of ERRS dishes?” she asked. “Dorsal dish is aimed at the strongest interspace source. Ventral’s at the ground team.” They had found that Yorktown’s new sensor technology, when properly configured, could disrupt the Fury interspace weapon. One of their dishes covered the fleet as best as they could. The other gave the ground team a safe haven to work from. As an added benefit, Yorktown could hear their comm chatter. Robert’s voice came over the intercom. “Rogue, we’re at the base of a large structure. Believe it to be their command center. Door is heavily reinforced. Think you can provide a key?” A moment later, another voice came over the intercom. “I think a spread of micro-torpedoes will do the trick,” Kaitlyn, their fourth grown child, replied from Robert’s shuttle. “That should do nicely, thanks.” James’s impassive voice came next. “We sure this is going to work?” “Don’t you remember anything from the stories I told you as a kid,” Robert replied. “The plucky group of heroes is always the enemy’s greatest weakness.” ((Robert Falcon’s Ready Room; U.S.S. Yorktown – Earth Year 2385)) They had survived that day. Yorktown beamed the team to safety while Rogue fled from the Fury planet as it plunged into the forming artificial wormhole. It popped back into normal space only a few light-seconds from the surface of the star and was quickly destroyed by tidal forces, falling into the fire. What few Fury ships remained fled, leaving Yorktown and Colt’s remaining fleet to burrow their way back through the Galactic Barrier. Starfleet had scarcely believed it, but in the end simply ordered them to remain silent. None liked it, but all accepted the order. Of course, all had been certain that the battles were done, and that the Furies were defeated. Robert looked back to his wife, his expression sober. “You realize what might happen if we do this, right? Starfleet might decide to court-martial us for disobeying orders, if we even survive long enough for them to do it. We’ve got only whatever supplies we can muster and no allies.” Jiana looked back, reaching out to take his hands in hers. “I never said it would be easy. Or smart. The easy, smart thing to do would be follow our orders, get out of here, and wait to see if Starfleet does something about this later… when it might be too late. What’s the RIGHT thing to do?” The right thing… Robert sighed. “To gather up whatever resources we can, get out there, and take the Furies down before they can threaten our home.” His wife nodded, squeezing his hands. “Now, whatever you want to do, I’ll support you. You say no and the worst comes, I won’t even say ‘I told you so’. Just tell me, Rob, what do YOU want to do?” That’s what it really came down it, wasn’t it? What did he want to do about it? His orders were clear. Turn around, get back to his patrol, and forget he ever saw anything. However, if the Furies were given time to build up and attack, to make this war happen on their terms, it became more likely that it would be more than Starfleet could handle. He hadn’t built Yorktown for this… He hadn’t put this crew together for this... He hadn’t meant for HIS FAMILY to do this… His family… There was a good chance that any who went would not return. Was he willing to sacrifice them all for this mission? Could he even make that kind of call for them? Would they ever forgive him if he never let them have the choice to join on a hopeless mission? Could he forgive himself if anything happened to them? They had been a team for a long time, forged in their years as a family on the Freedom and tested during their last battle with the Furies. Of anyone Robert knew who might be able to stop these… Demons… He knew that he and his family stood the best chance. And if they couldn’t do it… who could? Robert met his wife’s eyes. “I want to stop them. Here and now. Take the fight to the Furies, and stop them at the door.” Jiana nodded, giving his hands one last squeeze before releasing them. “I’ll make some calls, see what kind of resources I can drum up.” “I’ll figure out how to tell everyone,” Robert replied. “Whatever happens from here, they need to hear about this from me.”
  6. Note: This story was inspired by the song "River of Time" by Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane fame. I've long been obsessed with stories dealing with the passage of time and my character, Major Irina Pavlova was created around that obsession. Combine that with me being a Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna (Kautonen's other band) fan and this practically wrote itself. There is a link to the song at the bottom of the post. It was the same dream every night. A ragged, worn and wild-eyed Irina Pavlova walking into the sanctuary at P’Jem doing her best to look confused. The Vulcan monks always rushed to her aid and that of her 4-year-old daughter, wondering how two humans could suddenly appear at their doorstep, no starship in orbit and none on the landing pad. Just the two humans, both tired, dirty and confused, neither with any idea of how they got there. Of course that was the dream version. The reality version involved a detailed plan, and Irina tried to have every contingency covered. The small scout ship would land on the planet only thousands of miles from the sanctuary, and then using its transporter Irina and young Katya would transport to roughly halfway up the long mountain pathway. The ship would then follow its programming and fly itself to the bottom of the ocean and power down, hopefully not to be disturbed, at least not until the 24th century from whence it will have come. P’Jem was selected carefully. Irina needed to find a place that in the 22nd century could at least call for a ship to bring her home, while being remote enough for her to slip in unnoticed. The P’Jem of the 2170s was the perfect spot, with only a few monks and one transmitter remaining after the monitoring station was dismantled by the Andorians in the 2150s, and not yet the mining colony that would would be founded there in the 2210s. In 2175 it was just an uninhabited rock, with a small sanctuary, four or five Vulcan monks and one powerful transmitter. The plans were months in the making. Her assignment as chief of strategic operations at Duronis II made things easy. The runabout was one of many available for the embassy’s senior staff to use, and as a marine major and department head Irina was in such a position that checking out the runabout for a week’s leave was little more than a routine requisition. She would have a full week before anyone started looking, and unless they looked more than two centuries in the past, she would never be found. Every night it was the same dream, and every morning the same reality. Everyone she had ever known was long dead. It didn’t matter what she did, their faces haunted her every night when she closed her eyes. Her father telling her that military service was a waste of her talent. Her brother who promised that grandpa’s old Mercedes would be running by the time she came back from her first tour. Most of all it was Dimitri, the boy next door. Clumsy, awkward Dimitri, her sidekick, shadow, best friend and worst enemy for as far back as she could remember. They had joined the marines together, and the night before Irina shipped out on Columbia, they had progressed from friends to lovers. Dimitri had been dead for 150 years now, never married, never meeting his only child. Much of his life was lost to history, but Irina was able to find out that he left the marines just months after her ship was reported lost, and the only other references to him are a college degree in astronomy, a retirement ceremony from the Moscow observatory and his obituary, which had little more than the dates of his birth and death, and that he was engaged to Irina Pavlova in April 2170 and had a daughter named Katya, born the same month. Irina saw his face every night, imagining him working everyday at the observatory, studying stellar data, but always really looking for just one thing, the NX Class USS Columbia, missing longer and longer as he grew older and older. She could imagine him an old man, no longer working, but still always looking upward and hoping against hope that somehow she was still out there. Of course he couldn’t possibly have known that she was doing the same thing, and continued to do so long after he had breathed his last. Stranded on the planet Kjenta II and essentially immortal while there, Irina had no clue regarding the true passage of time. Days blurred into weeks, months, years and ultimately decades as over two centuries passed her relentlessly by. Lan Treng, Columbia’s science officer told them that it was radiation from the planet’s upper atmosphere that prevented cellular decay and kept them young, but everyone, including Irina, didn’t believe it, thinking only that they had lost track of time. Irina woke in a cold sweat as she did every morning, but today would be different. Today she was on leave, had a runabout reserved and her bags packed. She and Katya were traveling light, with just some civilian clothes, her old uniform and a few of their possessions that had come with them from the old USS Columbia. Her modern uniform, commbadge and everything else that wasn’t made before 2175 would be left on the runabout, powered down and abandoned beneath the ocean of P’Jem. After a week, Starfleet would probably go looking for her, perhaps if they looked hard enough they would find a 2-year-old runabout that had spent the last two centuries at the bottom of the ocean. As Katya woke up, they ate breakfast as usual and made their way to the docking ring. Everything was in order, the runabout was ready and Irina logged her flight plan for P’Jem. In addition to meeting her needs, P’Jem had a few other points in its favor for Irina’s plan. It orbited a star of sufficient mass to make the slingshot calculations possible with a smaller ship and the radiation of that star was such that even the weak shielding of a runabout was more than adequate. Most important of all was the lack of curiosity it had as a destination for Irina and Katya in their 24th century existence as it was the place of retirement of one T’Sal, a Vulcan girl who was Irina’s roommate when she went through security/tactical branch training at Starfleet Academy back in 2168. T’Sal was one of the very first Vulcans to attend the brand-new academy, and was the last surviving member of Irina’s class. Irina had contact T’Sal a few days before, and nobody would possibly question her motives for visiting. The trip to P’Jem was uneventful and accomplished in just over two days. Irina and Katya passed the time on eduational activities and Irina even taught the little girl how to pilot the runabout, at least the real basics, and let her do so under close supervision. The normalness continued as they arrived at P’Jem and had a lovely dinner with T’Sal. Irina had never liked Vulcans and she and T’Sal were not friends all those years ago, but the passage of time had changed a great deal of things for both women. The two talked about time and timelines, and it was T’Sal who introduced Irina to the concept of time being essentially a river, with people wading in, swimming to the other side as the current pushed them until finally they would emerge on the opposite bank and end their journey. The current only moving in one direction, and no matter how hard one fought, one could never swim backwards. Irina told T’Sal about James Kirk and the slingshot maneuver, and how she was going to swim backwards to where she belonged. To her credit, T’Sal did not try and talk her out of it, but rather just asked her to be mindful of what might happen downriver. The next morning Irina and Katya woke up on the runabout, got dressed and ate breakfast as usual, only this day Irina was back in uniform, only it was her 22nd century uniform. The old flip-open communicator and first generation phase pistol were at her belt, both clearly showing the wear and tear of 219 years on Kjenta II, while the uniform was crisp and new, preserved in Irina’s closet on the Columbia in the cold of space. The runabout was programmed for the slingshot maneuver and Katya’s bag was filled with books carefully selected from the 22nd century with a science fiction theme all the better to explain the four-year-old’s inevitable comments about the 24th century as mere products of an active imagination. The runabout broke atmosphere and Irina put it on course for the P’Jem star, then engaged the slingshot program and sat back. She closed her eyes and thought of Dimitri waiting by his window. She did the calculations for an arrival date in June of 2175, 2-years after Columbia was reported missing. She had the wild-eyed look already, and figured if she just pretended ignorance, to have no clue how she ended up at P’Jem or where the Columbia was, nobody would be any the wiser for it. By the time USS Discovery found the Columbia in 2390 she would be long dead anyway, and hopefully history would just repeat itself. To Irina’s chagrin, Dimitri’s face didn’t remain in her mind for long. She thought about her 24th century commanding officer, Fleet Captain Toni Turner, and her mountain of an XO Lieutenant Commander Hannibal Parker. There was Colonel Tyr Waltas, who one year before as Captain Tyr Waltas was the main actor in her rescue from Kjenta. There were others, the Vulcan science officer T’Mihn who had helped Irina with the calculations, the marines and startfleet officers she had gotten to know at Duronis, and finally the little boy Bolt who had become Katya’s playmate. What would happen to all of them if Irina swam up instead of downriver? Would she disturb the waters of their lives? “Why are you crying mommy?” Katya asked as the P’Jem star grew larger and larger in the runabout’s viewer. “Because I can’t go home” Irina replied as she tearfully changed the runabout’s programming for a return to Duronis II. “Why not? I like Donis embsy. “I know, that is why we are going back. Its your home.” “We live together?” “Yes Printzyessa, we live together, but everyone swims in the river alone.” “What river mommy?” “The river of time." Major Irina Pavlova Chief of Strategic Operations Duronis II Embassy / USS Thunder-A
  7. Happy midsummer, all! I'm pleased to bring you the results from our May & June Writing Challenge "From the Past." Our winner for this round is Ed, aka Captain Diego Herrera, for his short story "Not Until This World Burns." Close on his heels in the rankings was Marissa, aka Captain Kalianna Nicholotti, with her short story "Lessons from the Past." Congratulations to both of them and to everyone who entered! A new Challenge will be up early in July and will run through late August. Until then, I would like to thank my fellow judges for this round: the writers behind Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Commander Jhen Thelev (Lieutenant Sinda Essen), and Commander Melitta Herodion.
  8. Welcome, my friends, to the May & June Challenge for 2013! For this Challenge, Chris -- the writer behind Sinda Essen & Jhen Thelev and the winner of the last "Do Unto Others" Challenge -- would like you to consider the topic "From The Past." I will note that this is a particularly apropos topic as it coincides with the release of the new Trek movie, Into Darkness. Perhaps you'll interpret the Challenge literally and explore time travel. Perhaps you'll look at those little monsters that haunt your character's past. Perhaps you'll interpret the Challenge in a completely unexpected way! However you do it, make sure that your entry wows you, as well. The deadline for this Challenge is Monday, June 24th, which gives you the better part of two months to consider this topic, watch the new movie, and produce your story! As always, please remember: *Your work must be completely original. *You must be the sole author of the work. *Your story must take place in the Star Trek universe, but may not center upon canon characters. *Sign your final draft as you would a post on your ship. *Your story must be between 300 and 3000 words. As of today, Thursday, May 2nd, this Challenge is open. For any questions you might have, remember that you can always visit the Writing Challenge website. Good luck!
  9. (( Stardate 237308.15, the planet Ba'kei, in Dominion- controlled space )) :: Starfleet said the planet was important, and the Dominion seemed to think so as well. Second Lieutenant Hannibal Parker had already received his first battlefield commission during the earlier assault on the facility, and the resulting firefight had chewed up his detachment and the Klingon troops who were also fighting by his side. The fighting had been brutal, with neither side giving ground. No prisoners were being taken, no quarter given. Not that the Klingons were interested in prisoners, anyway. All of them were dirty, and a hot meal none of them had seen in weeks. The Starfleet Marines had been reconstituted for just this kind of conflict, a fight like this no living human had ever experienced. :: His father Ryland, captain of the USS Sitak, had told him this day was coming, and the starship captain prepared his son for that eventuality...but even Ryland could not foresee the absolute brutality being visited upon Hannibal, the Marines under his command, and the Klingon Defense Forces which fought alongside him. The Klingons were used to war, but even they knew they had to break out before they were eventually all chewed to pieces by the huge numbers of Jem' Haddar they were facing. Sitting under a makeshift shelter, Hannibal sat with his platoon..each of them the definition of the walking dead.... looking defeated, worn out, exhausted. But not him. No matter how bad it got, the Jem' Haddar were going to have to kill him. Not fear, not fatigue...and the Klingon commander seemed to sense that as well in him. The massive Klingon commander, clad in armor, his eyes fixed on the Second Lieutenant. Hannibal rose from his seat to greet the man, whom Hannibal remembered being named Ha'Rouque. He wore no rank, but there was no doubt he was in command. They stepped outside, where they could talk privately...:: Ha'Rouque: We must attack their emplacements. We cannot continue to allow them to throw themselves at us like so many targ off a cliff.... :: The Klingon had a point. Ever since the USS Charleston had dropped them off, they had been fighting just to stay in the same place, and while the stink of dead filled his nostrils, they were not one inch closer to their objective since they landed two weeks ago. They needed a break out..but Hannibal was apprehensive..:: Parker: We need to take that facility..but we don't have... :: The Klingon flashed anger unlike Hannibal had ever seen, and his eyes looked through the young Marine..:: Ha'Rouque: HA! DON'T TELL ME WHAT WE DON'T HAVE! WE ARE WARRIORS! :: Hannibal knew the vaunted history of the Marines...how they turned sure defeat into victory..and this new incarnation had not yet made their mark on the pages of history. Hannibal felt a change in him...a shift into another mode...he was no longer just a Marine, trained to fight...he had truly heard the call, the call his father had told him about, the one that would come in the most unexpected of places...and that time was now. Hannibal looked into Ha'Rouques' eyes, defiantly declaring his warrior intentions...there was no going back now...:: Parker: It's time to drive those pe'taq off this planet, and claim it as ours.... :: As quickly as the anger flashed in the Klingons' eyes, it was replaced by a glint...the steely glint of one warrior to another. The Klingon clasped Hannibals' shoulders as they prepared to walk back inside...:: Ha'Rouque:: smiling:: Today is a good day to die.... Parker:: Returning the smile:: It is...for them.... :: An hour later, the combined forces of the KDF and Starfleet Marines began moving towards their objective. There were no tricorders, as they were being jammed, on both sides. In the predawn darkness, they moved down to the building they had spent two weeks trying to take. With the rising sun at their backs, they waited. Both sides had expended their mortars a week ago, and bazookas were no more than heavy clubs. Power packs were almost gone. Even the Jem' Haddar weaponry they had managed to scavenge was less than optimal. The Jem' Haddar no longer saw a reason to shroud themselves, so confident they were that they would finally crush the Starfleet/ Klingon contingent. Out in front stood Hannibal and Ha' Rouque, eyeing the entrance to the facility. They could see their enemy, massing towards the front, readying for their assault. It was game time..:: Ha'Rouque: Can your vessel replicate blood wine? Parker: I guess we will find out once we return.... :: The big Klingon smiled, and nodded..:: Ha'Rouque: Qapla', Lieutenant Parker.... Parker: Nodding:: Quapla' , HaRouque..... :: With that, a hush fell over the future battlefield. Hannibal could hear his own quiet breathing...even the morning birds with their annoying early morning chatter had stopped...until his ears were assaulted by the roar from his Klingon counterpart, and night turned into day as Starfleet phasers and Klingon disruptors lit up the predawn sky. The two forces raced towards each other, the air filled with the sounds of weapons fire, the screams of the wounded, and the collision of bodies as the two forces slammed into each other, both sides abandoning their now empty rifles and began to slash with their edged weapons. The screams of wounded and crashing metal filled the air as the desperate battle continued. Hannibals' only edged weapon was his Bowie knife, and he was using it to effect, slashing at the Jem'Haddar and the Klingons were now in their element, their bat'leths whistling through the air, barely missing some of their Starfleet allies by not much..their weapons making a thudding sound as they found their way into the bodies of their enemies. Picking up a bat'leth from a downed Klingon, Hannibal used the weapon brutally, remembering the lessons he had learned not so long ago from his father. Ha'Rouque was to his left, taking on two Jem' Haddar..but he did not see the third as he buried his blade deep within the back of his Klingon counterpart...he watched as Ha'Rouque went down to one knee as the drug- fueled enemy was about to administer the killing blow. A roar came from Hannibal, a roar which even he himself did not know where it came from...:: Parker: H'ROUQUE!!!!!!! :: A rage grew within him, one which flared like the heat from a exploding sun. It washed over him like a river, filling him with a murderous resolve as he closed on the enemy who had downed his compatriot. roaring and cursing, he swung his bat'leth, catching the Jem'Haddar squarely in the neck, completely severing his head.. Hannibal never saw the body drop as his bat'leth cut down one after another . His surviving Marines and Klingons were a swirl of flashing blades and falling bodies, until the ground was slick with blood and gore. He didn't know how long he fought..he didn't know how many they had killed..but he realized there were no more of the reptilian- looking [...]s standing. As Hannibal looked around, there were only a few Klingon and Marines left able to fight. Each of them had undergone their own personal hell to survive to this point, and for them, defeat was a would no longer part of their vocabulary. They were the living embodiment of the Jem' Haddar mantra of "victory is life", and they had turned it on its ear. Caked with blood, gore and mud, they had never looked better..or more fearsome. The combined forces of one hundred Marines and Klingons had taken on one hundred and fifty of the enemy..sixteen now stood before him. Gripping his bat'leth, Hannibal needed them to harness the darkness one more time..:: Parker: COME ON YOU MISERABLE PETAQ'! YOU WANNA LIVE FOREVER? LET'S FINISH THIS! :: With a thunderous roar and Hannibal leading the way, the surviving Starfleet/ Klingon soldiers stormed the facility. They did not know if anyone would be inside, but it would not have mattered...they were going to take that building...nothing would stop them...:: :: Inside, the combined forces found what they were looking for...a ketracel white facility, fuel for the hated and now dead enemy they had just defeated...and one Vorta, who sat cowering in the corner. As Hannibal looked around, he also noticed he was the senior officer present...no Klingon officers had survived, and he was already the senior surviving Marine officer. Hannibal approached the cowering Vorta, who was shaking his head slowly from side to side. Hannibal had never seen a Vorta before, and the pale skinned humanoid stood up to face the massive Marine. Hannibal could hear the rushing feet behind him, the Klngon and human curses being hurled at the one time commander of the feared Jem'Hadar. After this day, Hannibal would never fear anyone...or anything...Holding up a fist, Hannibal stopped the encroaching troops and faced them, his voice echoing off the walls, bat'leth in hand....:: Parker: THE VORTA IS MINE!!! IF ANYONE DOUBTS THAT, FACE ME NOW! :: Not a Marine or Klingon moved..:: Parker: Find what you can and destroy this place. :: seeing one of his Marines:: Baker...get on the horn and see if you can raise the Charleston or anyone in Starfleet. Tell them we need emergency extraction.. Baker: Yes, Sir! :: Turning his attention back to the still- cowering Vorta, who was now defiantly standing...and speaking....he looked as though he was in shock at the fact that the most feared warriors in the Gamma Quadrant had been defeated.Since the Dominion had invaded the Alpha Quadrant, they had suffered precious few defeats in the opening stages of the war..in fact, they were actively pushing back the Federation and the Klingons, which made his outrage and shock all the more real to him..this was the first time in known history the Jem'Haddar had been defeated in ground combat, and the realization that the Alpha Quadrant might not be as easy pickings as the Founders led them to believe. He had proof, should he survive to deliver it to them...Staring the massive Marine in his cold eyes...and a cold chill ran up his spine, and fear gripped him like a vise..:: Vorta: You will die for this..all of you will die for this! :: Hannibal [...]ed his head, then let fly with his Bowie knife, right across the Vortas' throat...:: Parker: You first..... :: The Vortas' hands reached up to clutch his throat, gurgling was the only sound he could make as he first sank to his knees, then falling forward into a circle of his own blood...Hannibal stood over him, watching the ever expanding pool, then turned his back on the scene. The battle had changed him, deep down. He felt different. He knew he was different. He was a true warrior, a warrior who had met the most merciless enemy in the quadrant, and defeated them, up close and personal..and he had led the Marines into battle. They had truly written one of the first pages in the new continuing story of the Marines, but it was not something he thought about as he could hear the whine of Starfleet runabouts and shuttlecraft touch down to begin evacuation the dead and wounded..:: :: Hannibal walked back out side the building on the opening light of day, and he could see the magnitude of the battle and all its gruesome details. Medical personnel walked among the dead and wounded Starfleet and Klingon personnel, and Hannibal could only watch as they were loaded up, or beamed directly into sick bay. Only then did Hannibal realized that the wetness he felt under his flak jacket was not sweat...it was blood..his blood. He waved off a medic who was trying to examine him..his men had to come first, but he needed to check on his fallen friend. He knew the Klingons would take care of their dead, but he wanted to do something for him, other than watch him be loaded up and taken to the morgue aboard the Charleston..but then, he heard Ha'Rouques' voice as a medic was beginning to treat him. Hannibal made his way over to him, and the Klingon, even through his pain, managed a smile to the Marine. Hannibal kneeled down next to him, glad that he had survived..:: Ha' Rouque: They will sing songs about this day, Parker...I saw you...you fought like a Klingon....a true warrior.... :: There was no higher praise anyone could offer him, even if Admiral Ross himself had pinned a medal on him personally....:: Parker: As did you..as did all of us..... Ha'Rouque: Tell them to have a barrel of blood wine ready for us.... Parker: Consider it done... :: A medic tapped him on the shoulder, and informed him that the Charleston needed to bug out, and quick. The surviving Klingon and Starfleet personnel were almost completely loaded, and he needed to be attended to. Before he knew what had happened, Hannibal felt the tingling of a transporter beam, and he was back on board the Charleston, just outside her Sick Bay. He was told more Jem' Hadar ships were on the way, and the Charleston destroyed the entire valley with a volley of quantum torpedoes, which also had the benefit of ripping away the planets' atmosphere..leaving the place uninhabitable. It was a small victory, one which the Federation and Klingon Empire solely needed. While the Dominion lost a ketracel white facility they needed, Hannibal had gained something more important..the ability to harness the darkness which lives in every man, and even now, it worked his way through him, and he embraced it. To win this war, to survive it, he must embrace the darkness like a lover. His father told him war would change him in ways he didn't know were possible, that it would amplify feelings buried deep inside. Once they surfaced, there was no way to put them back,,,and Hannibal had no intention of doing so, ever. Major Hannibal Tiberious Parker 2nd Officer/Marine Commander/ Chief Of Strategic Operations USS Thunder-A/ Duronis II Embassy
  10. “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” - Ambrose Pierce The first rays of liminality shone through the parting clouds of rage and intoxication. The dull ache in Chen’s back and neck was a souvenir from having spent the night propped up against the bulkhead. The not so dull ache in his head was a souvenir from the amount of glow ale that he’d consumed. His parched mouth craved water just as his head craved solace from the memories of the previous night that were ranked along the borders of his conscious mind. An invasion was looming. The computer recognised the scratch of his desiccant voice and obediently produced a glass of clear, cool liquid. Today would be a day where the world would stop crashing down around him, leaving confusion and shame in its wake. Once again, his mind leapt back to his childhood, reinforcing the bridge that had been built the previous night. He’d felt this way the morning after his talk with Dar, his charan; the emotional blow he’d taken that day had not led him to a bottle of ale but had instead shaped his life up to this point. The memories that had pooled behind the [...] came bursting forward, overwhelming his defences and threatening to drown him in an irresistible tide… The blue-green grasses of the Irimari plains sighed in murmurs of a youth of too quick a passing. Laughter from a distant farmstead carried on the breeze in recognisable peals. Chen and Dar had been walking in silence for some time, the reason for their stroll along the plains driven between them like a wedge. Chen’s antennae twitched as he concentrated on preventing them from indicating the full extent of his anger; his heart was heavy in the knowledge that the parent to whom he was closest was so disappointed in him. Each footfall brought with it the temptation to break the near silence, to goad his charan into saying what he had brought him here to say. Yet, out of respect, Chen waited. He was resentful that Dar had chosen this particular time, a visit to see long standing family friends, to confront him on this issue. Escape was impossible; it had been a long time since their last visit and Chen had no intention of causing their current hosts any worry or acting in a manner that might offend them. That left him with no other option than to weather the incoming storm. Finally, Dar stopped, turning to look back at the farm rather than Chen as he laid down the first brick in what Chen already knew would grow to become an insurmountable wall between them. “I heard that you have broken your bond.” The older chan took in a slow breath. His sombre tone was laced with bitter dissatisfaction. “That there is to be no shelthreth.” It was a decision that Chen had not taken lightly. The woes that befell an Andorian that broke his bond were well known to all after the media had blown every incident involving ChariVretha zh’Thane’s chei, Shar, out of all proportion. He had been forced to live with the disgrace of reneging on his obligation to further the Andorian genome for every minute of his Starfleet career. Chen was eighteen, the right age to tread that same path. Pursuing a career in the fleet, however, was not the reason for his withdrawal from the bond that had been prearranged for so long. “Even more disturbing than that,” Dar continued, still refusing to face his chei, “are the alleged reasons behind your choice.” Chen nodded grimly. “You’ve been talking to Shalla.” Dar was the only one of his parents with whom he had not discussed this matter; it was not that he respected them less but simply that he knew all too well what Dar’s reaction would be. He had made the mistake of thinking that leaving him until last would give him time to prepare more carefully what he might say. Of those that remained, his shreva was the one he considered most likely to have passed on his reasons for breaking his bond. Dar’s antennae swept backwards dramatically as his rage flared. “It doesn’t matter who told me!” Just as quickly, he forced his temper back under control. “What matters is that it is not too late for you to reverse your decision and fulfil your obligation to your people, despite what you believe your personal rights to be. The Whole comes first, Chen, always.” The younger of the two chan was shaking his head before his elder could finish speaking. How could he just change a fundamental aspect of who he was? He had never been attracted to zhen or shen; the only other member of his bond for whom he had feelings strong enough to perform the shelthreth was Toren, their thaan. He understood tradition. He understood obligation. They were things he took very seriously but he could not understand why Andorian culture would mandate him to perform a sexual act with which he was not comfortable, in violation of his own personal wishes. In truth, he was also struggling to understand why his charan, with whom he had always been close, would force him into honouring that custom. His antennae roamed in confusion and disbelief. He had planned his defence, for want of a better word, since the moment the bond had been broken, yet no part of it seemed appropriate. How should he justify himself where no justification should be warranted? How should he rationalise that which ought not to be rationalised? “I cannot put the Whole first, Charan.” He struggled to contain his own anger. What right had anyone to make him feel ashamed of who he was? “If my being Whole requires me to mate with three others in violation of who I am then I have no other option than to break my bond.” “Violation?” Dar laughed at the idea. “Violation of who you are? You are an Andorian, my chei, and bound by the same obligations as are we all. If your current obsession with only one other gender causes you to miss this opportunity, think how you will regret it in later life. Think how we all will regret it.” Chen was deeply insulted that Dar could think that his expression of sexual preference was based on some whim that would fade, as fickle as the chill breeze that whistled across the plains. He knew better than that. “Had I remained with my former bond mates, it would be me that regretted it. I have no such obsession, and my interest is not limited to thaan. It extends to other chan as well.” A terrible silence fell. Dar looked up to the sky as if searching for answers from Uzaveh himself, his antennae parting in an expression of… concern? Chen’s feelings began to coalesce into something he hadn’t imagined he would ever feel while talking to his charan: despair. Dar pitied him. This was worse than he could ever have thought. “We have contacts who could put us in touch with some very good psychotherapists in Laikan. I’ll place a few calls and we can…” “There’s nothing wrong with me.” Chen interrupted. How could he make Dar see that? Rather than listening to him, the elder chan raised his voice, insistent on completing what he had to say. “…get you the best possible therapy. We’ll find out exactly what the problem is, then the family will pool together so that we can have you treated…” “There’s nothing wrong with me!” Chen’s despair was mounting. What were they going to do? They could dig around in his head as much as they wanted, peel back every last layer of his defences. He would be the same, right to the core. There was no switch he could toggle on and off. Dar’s voice raised yet another notch. “…and help you to return to a point where you are willing and able to contribute to the future of your race in the way that all Andorians are expected to contribute: to address the continuing issue of our shrinking population…” “THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!” Despite the force behind his assertion, Chen’s antennae were not flat to his skull in the usual expression of rage but hanging forwards as a sign of his anguish. The outburst had finally been sufficient to cut Dar off, who stared at him through cold eyes, looking deep into his heart, searching for a way to force his point home. “You are a sexual deviant. You have already brought disgrace on our clan by dissolving your bonds. Do not make this any worse than it already is. Accept the help that you are being offered.” “And then what?” His voice was pained, but he refused to back down. “Live the rest of my life as a lie? The bond means nothing to me. Would you have rather had an automaton for a chei? Someone that you could program to follow your every command? Someone who could not be identified among a crowd as the individual that they are?” Dar’s face betrayed his disgust. “If you must defy the will of Uzaveh and turn your back on your people to be individual then yes. Perhaps I would prefer that. Our concept of the Whole is the foundation on which our civilisation is built, Chen. It represents strength through the unity of the four genders: thaan, chan, shen, zhen.” “And as a concept it is flawed,” the youngster interrupted. Evidently there was still a measure of bravery left in him as he went so far as to challenge Andorian culture itself. He knew how much that culture meant to his charan, but the rift between them was widening by the second. If he could not make him see sense now then perhaps he never would. “Our world is dying. We refuse to explore scientific means to prevent that from happening. We refuse to take real steps to save our race. Tell me now which you think is more perverse. A chan whose sexual preference does not fall in line with your expectations or a society that willingly dooms itself by refusing to bring itself out of the past?” Dar closed the distance between them in an instant, grabbing Chen roughly by the wrist and twisting until his chei’s face was just inches from his own. His teeth were clenched as he leaned in to hiss the words that would cause Chen to form his resolve once and for all. “Not until this world burns in the fire of our sun will I stop loving you but, as long as you hold such an opinion, you cannot be my chei.” He hurled Chen to one side, the pain from whose bruised wrist could not compare to the agony of his shattered heart. It would be hours before he could gather himself enough to return to their hosts, by which time everyone had retired for the night. Within a few more weeks, he would take the decision to leave Andoria for good in search of a life that he could live as his true self. The uninvited memory, stirred by comparable pain that had been caused by the breakdown of his unexpectedly strong relationship with Greir Reinard, reminded him of how grimly resolved he had been when he had left his homeworld. The previous night, he had questioned whether or not Dar had been right, whether he should have taken him up on his offer. It was easy to believe that he was broken somehow, flawed more profoundly that he could ever imagine. ‘Easy’ was never something he had subscribed to, however, and that was not about to change. He would do what was right. He wasn’t a statistic, a failed experiment unworthy of inclusion in society. Nor was he a lovesick fool, too naïve to charge blindly into a situation where he would be vulnerable again so soon. He was what he had always been: himself. No matter how painful that made things for now, that was how things would remain. “I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.” - Drew Barrymore Captain Diego Herrera Commanding Officer USS Vigilant NCC-75515
  11. “Questions and answers from the past.” “Captains log, Star date 239006.08. We have completed our sensor sweep of the southern plasma storms in the badlands and are now preparing for the trip to Deep Space 9 to take on supplies and get some well deserved R&R on both the station and Bajor. Life as a Captain certainly differs from how I envisioned it all those years ago but I have a good crew and a good ship.” “If I am honest, the crew was a little disappointed that mission went so routinely. When you speak of the badlands, it conjures up an idea of turmoil and strife. And why shouldn't it. After all, this is where the USS Voyager disappeared and where the Maquis made their stand against both the Federation and the Cardassians. Of course, that was long ago.” “I for one look forward to partaking in a few games of Dabo in Quark's bar and maybe using one of the holosuites. I hear they just took delivery of several programs based on various vacation spots on Risa. Maybe I might be able to strike a deal to obtain some of those programs for the ships own holosuites. Computer, end log.” The computer chirped it's acknowledgment of the command as Captain Barnabus put his feet up on his desk. He was short for a Terran male, around 5 feet 2 inches and quite stocky as well. His jet black hair was trimmed and well groomed. It shone in the dim light of his ready room. He took a sip of his orange juice and let out a heavy sigh. For most of his career he had dreamed of commanding a top ship of the line like a Sovereign class or an Intrepid. However, with his history in the sciences, Starfleet had decided that his talents would be best suited to the USS Hawking, a Nova class vessel that had been designed for short range research missions. At first he had detested the idea, but over the months he had come to love the ship and her crew. They had been through some grand times together, and the odd unfortunate mishap. But as his former commanding officer Alison Rowe had once taught him, “The good times bring happiness, the bad times bring you all together.” He took deep comfort in those words. Only two weeks prior the ship had lost an ensign to a transporter malfunction caused by a previously unknown subspace distortion near Gamma Hirolis. Although the transporter officer managed to abort the transport saving three other members of the crew, the ensigns pattern had been damaged beyond recovery. ============================================================================== Barnabus had been amazed at how fast the crew rallied around each other to provide comfort, support and empathy. They gave Ensign Theras one hell of a send off before her body was transferred to the Kyoto to be returned to her family. It was moments like the funeral and wake that helped him realize just how fortunate he was to have received this post. As he went to take the final few sips of his orange juice his thought process was broken by an announcement from the bridge. He was of course used to such announcements when he was in his ready room but what he heard piqued his interests as a scientist. “Captain, the ships sensors are picking up a massive spike in neutrinos approximately 2 light years from our current position. Of note is the fact that the area of space they have been detected in is unusually benign with no stellar phenomenon of any interest known to exist there.” It was the voice of Commander Tolath, a tall stick like member of the Vulcan race approximately 6 feet 7 inches in stature and weighing only 12 and ½ stone. There was of course no emotion in his voice as he spoke but Barnabus knew that the Vulcan was just as interested in these new readings as he was. He spoke calmly into the communications line. “Understood commander. Lay in a course at warp six. Please notify Deep Space 9 that we will be delayed and inform the crew that shore leave has been postponed for a short while. I shall join you on the bridge momentarily. Barnabus out. “ He closed the line and stretched out in his chair letting out a short yawn while he did so. Sleep could wait, it wasn't everyday that your ship detected a massive spike in neutrinos in a relatively benign area of space as the Vulcan first officer had so eloquently put it. Deciding that there was no rest for the wicked, the 53 year old man stood from his chair and walked from his ready room onto the bridge. Where the bridge had been silent maybe 5 minutes ago, it was now a hive of activity. Every station was manned and all personnel were going about their tasks without needing any input from their commanding officer. This brought a smile to Barnabus' face. They knew him well enough to understand their roles. Lieutenant Bathor, a Bolian sat a science. He was the chief science officer on board the Hawking and proud of his job. He relayed information regarding the neutrino levels as more became available. Lieutenant commander Holmes sat at the helm constantly making minor adjustments to the vessels trajectory to ensure as smooth a ride as possible. Barnabus always thought his skill as a pilot was wasted as the chief of operations on the ship, but he was glad to have him and to count him as one of his close friends. Barnabus took his seat in the center chair and looked out at the view screen. It would be a while before they arrived at their destination and Barnabus hoped this little detour would be well worth their while. ============================================================================== The journey to their destination was uneventful. Barnabus could understand why Tolath had described this area of space as benign, especially when compared to the plasma storms in the Badlands which they had only just finished studying. The bridge was still a hive of activity when the Vulcan first officer spoke up. “Sir, we are approaching visual range. Bathor has informed me that the sensors are detecting matter/antimatter signature, possibly Federation in origin.” Barnabus took a few moments to process the information in his mind before speaking up. An increased neutrino level was one thing, but a Federation matter/antimatter signature. There were no Federation ships, civilian or other wise scheduled to be passing through this sector. “Put it on the screen commander.” Nothing could have prepared them for what appeared on the screen. In the left corner was a wormhole. This of course being what they were expecting. However, in the center left was what appeared to be the remains of an Oberth class starship. Barnabus broke the almost deathly hush on the bridge. “Can we magnify the image on the center right of the screen.” “Negative at this range Captain.” Tolath replied in his normal emotionless tone. “However we should be able to increase magnification in approximately 5 minutes.” Commander Holmes spoke up almost immediately. “If we increase speed to maximum rated, I can have us in the general vicinity In the same amount of time Captain.” He looked back to Bathor at science. “Are the neutrinos likely to cause any problems with navigation?” Barnabus listened to his officers with intent. They really were a well oiled machine, making the right suggestions and asking the right questions at the right time. If the situation weren't so serious, he might have actually taken pleasure in it. Bathor spoke up. “Unlikely, however, there seems to be some sort of temporal distortion emanating from the wormhole. I do advise caution and suggest we maintain a distance of at least 250 thousand kilometers from the anomaly.” “Understood.” Barnabus replied. “Make it so. I want a constant sensor lock maintained on both the wormhole and the ship at all times.” As estimated, five minutes later the vessel dropped out of warp at the site of the wormhole. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Flashes of amber, crimson magenta and violet intermixed with radiant blues, reds and yellows. Sitting 300 thousand kilometers from what appeared to be the mouth of the incredible phenomenon were the battered bruised and broken hull pieces of an unfortunate Starfleet vessel. Only partial identification markings remained on what had once been a fine ship of the line. Barnabus and the crew sprung into action. “Tolath. I want you and Holmes to work on establishing which unfortunate ship this was. See if the computer can't piece together a complete registry number and name from what we have.” The acknowledged as he turned his head to face Bathor. “Mister Bathor, I would like you to ascertain where and indeed when that wormhole leads, how stable it is and if it poses any threat to shipping in the area. The rest of you monitor the ships systems. The moment anything changes, notify your superiors immediately. Am I clear?” There was a brief pause before a unanimous “Yes sir” was spoken. Barnabus retired to his ready room and prepared to write a supplemental Captain's log. ============================================================================== For three hours the ship had remained at it's position near the edge of the previously unmapped anomaly. It had felt like an eternity. Progress was slow on all fronts through no fault of the crew. The computer was having a hard time deciphering and matching the markings on the vessel whilst the sensors were unable to penetrate to the other side of the wormhole. The science department had proposed sending a probe to the other side but the idea was quickly mooted owing to the gravitational sheer being read inside the anomaly and the presence of various temporal distortions. The last thing the ship needed was 'Temporal Investigations' poking their noses in on them. As if on cue Bathor spoke up from his console with a slightly agitated tone to his voice. Normally this wouldn't phase the Captain however with what was beginning to transpire on the viewscreen and the groaning coming from the hull he could only imagine it was bade news. “The Wormhole is collapsing violently and at an alarming rate Captain. It is sending out massive pulses of neutrinos and deuterium particles. Shields are holding but at this rate, the ship will be torn apart by the shock waves in less than 7 minutes.” Barnabus didn't even need to think about his next response. “Helm, move us away from the wormhole at full impulse, yellow alert” He tapped his comm badge. “Commander Tolath and mister Holmes to the bridge immediately please.” The ship shook again as the ship turned to fly away from the anomaly. All eyes on the bridge were glued to the screen as the wormhole continued it's demise. Bathor continued to scan the anomaly. It was highly unusual for a wormhole to collapse in such a violent manner but then, by the looks of the wreckage they had found and the temporal signatures, this was no ordinary wormhole. Tolath and Holmes arrived on the bridge to witness the wormhole in it's dying moments. They had been held up by a power issue in the turbolift which nearly left them stranded 3 decks down. Fortunately the auxiliary backup systems had kicked in before full power to the lift was resumed. Holmes relieved the ensign at helm, much to her obvious relief. She had no experience outside of a holodeck of maneuvering a ship in such conditions. The view screen flashed a brilliant white as the wormhole finally collapsed sending out a final wave of neutrinos that buffeted the ship causing minor damage to the sensors. The shields had held and engineering was reporting no damage to the primary systems. “All stop.” came the order from Barnabus. “Tolath, Holmes, Bathor. I would like to meet you in my ready room in five minutes. Commander Tolath, you have the bridge.” With that, Barnabus took his leave from the bridge and retired to his ready room. He walked straight to the replicator ordering a tall glass of orange juice and a slice of melon, still unsure as to what exactly they had just witnessed. Oh sure, they knew it was a wormhole, but where had it led? Why had it never been discovered before? Had it collapsed or just shifted to another point in time and space. Hopefully his senior staff would have some of the answers. ============================================================================== Tolath, Holmes and Bathor entered the ready room as requested. The looks on their faces told Barnabus that they probably had more questions than answers. No matter, Starfleet would be interested in the information they had managed to gather and would more than likely investigate the matter thoroughly. Bathor was the first to speak up. “Captain. As you are well aware, wormholes can be conduits through time as well as space. From the information we managed to gather from this particular anomaly before it collapsed, and the age of the hull fragments we found drifting, I postulate that this wormhole originated at a point some 30 to 50 years in the past.” Barnabus and the other officers mulled over this information for a few moments before Tolath chimed in. “The computer has finished analyzing the data we were able to retrieve from the hull of the vessel. It seems we may have stumbled across the answer to a long standing mystery.” He paused for effect, gauging the reactions of the gathered officers. “The ship remains we encountered appear to belong to the USS Tycho, NCC -1977 listed as missing presumed destroyed in 2357 during the Cardassian war. Her Captain at the time was Martin Richards, a Starfleet scientist. They were mapping anomalies along the border.” Barnabus took a long drink from his orange juice whilst contemplating the information he had just received. The USS Tycho. Starfleet had all but given up on ever finding the vessel or any signs or clues as to what had happened. At least now, closure could be brought to the families of the souls lost on the vessel. Holmes broke up, breaking his train of thought. “If I may Captain. Although we don't have the proper equipment on this this vessel to perform a full analysis of the debris, we could store it in our cargo bay and transfer it to a ship or facility that does. I am sure Starfleet will perform an in depth investigation based on what we have found and perhaps find the answers we can't.” “A wise course of action Holmes. Make it so.” Replied Barnabus. “Once the debris is in our cargo hold, lay in a course for Deep Space 9 at warp 6. I will join you on the bridge shortly. Dismissed.” The gathered officers departed the ready room leaving Barnabus to quietly contemplate the recent events and think of his family. What would they do if anything happened to him in the line of duty? How would they cope if a similar fate befell his ship and crew? He wiped those thoughts from his mind and prepared to send a message to Starfleet command. ============================================================================== “Captain's log supplemental. Following the discovery of a massive neutrino outburst a few light years from our course to Deep Space 9, I ordered my ship to investigate. Nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered. I have sent a detailed report to Starfleet Command regarding the discovery of the remains of the USS Tycho, NCC – 1977, an Oberth class starship that went missing some 33 years ago on a routine science mission during the Cardassian conflict.” “Our brief investigation has left us with more questions than answers although myself and the crew have chosen to take comfort in the fact that a lot of families will finally be receiving an answer as to what happened to their loved ones. This chance occurrence has left me questioning life in Starfleet. What would my family do if something happened to me? How would they feel if I went missing? How would they cope without knowing my fate? I have chosen to put these thoughts to the back of my mind. My first duty is as a Starfleet Captain is the safety of my ship and and that means always focusing on the task at hand, rather than the meaning of life.” “Now, more than ever, I plan to use my upcoming downtime to enjoy myself and explore facets of my life away from the pressures of the Captain's chair. Do I regret ever having joined Starfleet rather than becoming a family man? Not for one moment, though I do sometimes find myself wondering, when I am alone, what if? Computer, End log.” END. Lieutenant (JG) Richards Chief of science USS Mercury (at time of submission)
  12. The darkness slowly gave way to the pale light of dawn, coupled with the untroubled calls of perching birds. Into this acoustic garden, the heavy grunt of a brawny man’s awakening burst forth, not shattering its beauty so much as giving it purpose. Hector’s eyes opened to the familiar quarters he had called home since his arrival on Starbase 118 all those years ago. The light panels glowed, slowly intensifying as his eyes adjusted to them. It has taken months to settle on a lighting program to which he wanted to awaken; the audio back then had been news, not birds. But so much had changed – had changed him – since then. One heavy foot after another landed on the ground as he sat up and filled his lungs with that first deep breath of the morning. Oxygen was again coursing through his arteries, rushing to their destination with fervor of the day. Moments later he was on his stomach, toes gripping the hard floor and hands pressed flat. He pushed himself up, a gruff exhale commanding his body into its rapid motion. One. Now resting on his outstretched arms, he let his body slowly down again, and repeated the motion. Two. He continued his morning routine, pushing up again, and again, and again. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. His mind wandered back, as it always did during this ritual, to the off-season with his high school parrises squares team. He was such an old man now, looking back. His time with them, though, was what had pushed him toward enlisting Starfleet to begin with. “You’ll never win if you’re afraid to get hurt,” Dak had said. Yes, the team captain, always looking out for the safety and morale of the group. But day after day of hearing it had its effect. Eventually Dak wasn’t admonishing “it’s just a scratch” as he rolled his eyes; he was soothing Hector with “the doctor says you’ll only be here a week” as a tears of guilt rolled from his eyes. But Hector hadn’t minded, once he was out on the field again. He was in the best shape of his life, he felt vibrant, and they had finally started to win. Not just here and there – their team was recognized as a force to be reckoned with. Seventy-four. Seventy-five. Hector held his position for a few extra seconds, gauging how tired he had become. Time had taken its toll on his body since his days playing parrises squares, but his whole outlook had been changed by it. Physical vitality was critical to a full life, he’d learned. Activity and competition could fill a person with sensations otherwise unimaginable. That love of experience and dynamism was what had brought him together with Karla. So in the end, any injury, any scar he had gotten from the game had been well worth it. His heart held captive by memory, he struggled against the weight as he stood up. Minutes later, he was stepping out of the sonic shower, and staring at himself in the mirror. There used to be another face beside his, here. Karla’s visage in the glass was as familiar as his own they prepared for the day together. More than that, her playful touches and endearing laughter had been as much a bathroom fixture as the sink. They were things he would never experience again. There had been a time, as he grieved, that Hector had considered programming her voice into the morning alarm. Only as he went through their recordings to find a good clip did he realize that her illness had passed on a disease of his own. Using Karla’s favorite bird calls was as close as he dared – perhaps as close as was healthy. Hector shuddered as the memories flooded back. He looked in the mirror; he was the only one there. Everything was normal – it was all as it had been for years now. He stood alone in the bathroom, looking at his face in the mirror. His clean-shaven face – a practice he had meticulously maintained since … well, for as long as he’d lived alone – revealed the scar under his chin. He scoffed at it. That was the scar that had given himself shaving for the first time after her death. It had been months since he’d last seen the skin beneath, and they had told him that shaving would be like peeling away the sorrows and allowing himself to move on. Well, he had never missed a day since then; they’d even told him they were impressed by his courage. But they didn’t understand that he had worn that beard as she lay in the biobed. He would never wear it again. That scar was the first step in his healing process. The wave of remembrance passed as Hector stepped out of the bathroom; the physical reminders of their daily preparations were behind him. His uniform hung, as it always did, beside the wardrobe, waiting to be put on for the day. And yet it struck him in a new way. The pip of the Chief Petty Officer, gleaming as it always did, was not glinting any differently in the light. The uniform remained clean and crisp, as usual. But something seemed different. It just looked so strange there, hanging empty, with no person inside of it. Hector stood staring at it for minutes on end, trying to decide why it bothered him. Oh. Oh, no … it’s me, he thought. The empty uniform was not just him … it was what he had become. He had filled it once; his career gave him pride, but there was so much more beneath it. That uniform had once been bursting at the seams, trying in vain to contain his joy, his energy, and all the wonderful days he spent with friends and family. And yet today … today he was getting up and going to the lab. Once there, he would wonder with which junior officer – whether Cody or Orionar or some new face – he would do battle in his crusade to keep the Science labs running as they ought. In the evening, he would have a quiet meal alone, read a few reports, and turn in. This uniform – this shell – was all that was left. With a sigh, he tenderly took it in his hands and dressed himself with it. Ready for the day, he passed through his quarters toward the door. Next to the exit on a small table was an inverted glass vessel on a base. Within it hung suspended in midair their two wedding rings, clasped eternally together and interlocked as were their souls. He smiled and stayed a moment longer, letting the floating remembrance imprint itself again upon his mind, as it did daily. ----- Lieutenant Ben Livingston Assistant Chief Engineer Starbase 118 Ops
  13. ((First Officer's Quarters, USS Apollo)) ::A puff of steam rose from the plain white mug that sat alone on the small dining table. It lingered for a moment, as if testing the air around it, before finally dissolving into the nether of the recycled atmosphere of the ship. In a chair that matched the architecture of the table, with her chin on her knees, her knees pulled up to her chest, and her arms around them, Cayden Adyr sat in the silence of her quarters and found herself simply watching the steam as it rose and disappeared. The simplistic nature of the moment, in a dimly lit room that was supposed to mimic the luminosity of the early dawn, caught her mind somewhere between the delicate fantasy of a dream and the much harsher way of reality. And it took her to a place where she walked with herself.:: ::There were no sounds, save for those of the breaths she took and the subtle hum of the ship, as it too breathed around her. So often these days, noise filled the air around her. So often, her mind was filled with the darker simulacrums of her past, or the brilliance of her future, but rare was it that she found herself caught within a moment in time. Rarer still was it that she found herself between the two ends of the vastly capacious spectrum. And yet here, as another puff of white steam met the cooler air that hung just above her table, it was in that existence that she now found herself lost.:: ((Flashback, 195 Years Ago, Trill)) ::Having rolled up the legs of his pants and tossed his shoes to the side, a rather good looking man grinned somewhat mysteriously at an equally stunning woman as they walked, arm in arm, down the length of an empty beach. The waves lapped softly up to them as they walked, missing their bared feet by only a few inches. White spray, filled with the scent of salt, splashed up around them as if responding to the tiny grains of dark brown sand that their own steps were tossing haphazardly into the same wind that blew their hair back. In the distance, the sun was just beginning to fall down beneath the horizon, giving off the distinct impression that the star itself was dying, as rays of yellow, red, and orange bled into the water and spread in the waves.:: ::The chill of the night was already upon them, and though the scene on the beach would lead onlookers to believe something else, the only warmth that existed in that moment was that caught within the fragile flesh that walked between the ever growing night breeze and the cold winter ocean. But the two continued to walk, unfazed by the chill or the growing darkness. Indeed, all light that was needed was provided by the stars, and as Rodan would have said, the look in her eyes.:: ::This was life! Of all that existed and all that his mind and body would experience, it was the moments between the moments that mattered. Now, after half a life lived, after having spent most of it making beautiful music, he realized that the most beautiful song paled deeply in comparison to her face. It was the first hints of love, and something that he would pass on through the ages by way of the symbiont that rested deep down inside. But, as the moment passed and another came, he did not think of posterity, but found himself drawn in and captured by the woman on his arm.:: ::Even the beach faded away to him now, as it would in the years that would pass after he was long dead. He was Trill, and his thoughts would hail from the past for as long as the symbiont lived. And yet, it would only be on his death bed that he would pass on to the next host what he considered most important in all existence; love.:: ((Flashback, 121 Years Ago, Aboard a Small Research Station in Low Planetary Orbit of Trill)) ::One day, she dreamed wistfully, the barriers that existed would fall. One day, the mind would understand far more than it did now and the stars themselves would be theirs to hold in the palms of their hands. There wouldn’t be the need to pick and choose between one way of living and another; both would be able to thrive within a rapidly growing exosphere that only expanded as knowledge moved forward. Diseases would be vanquished, pain would fade, and questions not even asked yet would have answers.:: ::A sigh escaped her as she stared out into the darkness of planetary night. It was the only period of an orbit where she could see the stars in all of their brilliance and glory. As such, she’d stop her work for just a moment each time the station passed into the darkness and let her thoughts travel along the very same cogitation. The future seemed so incredibly far away, and yet, it was something she was reaching for anyways. And while, in the end, she knew that it would not be her that was able to walk among those points of light that were the stars, at least she would be there in some manner of thought.:: ::Subconsciously, her hand moved to the area of her stomach where the symbiont had recently been placed. Still working on integrating the previous hosts memories into her own, she had requested this assignment, but now she wondered. Just how much isolation could she take? It was a question that she asked herself; one that mirrored the one her boss had asked her just before launch.:: ::Yet somehow, the answer she had given then – that she’d always have Rodan to speak with – held much less water now than it did then. For every bit of emotion, love, and spontaneity that Rodan had been known for, Eliza offered science, method, and logic. They were nothing alike, and yet, he still had lessons in store for her. In a way, she hoped that her own lessons would offer something to the next host, even if they were as vastly different as she and Rodan were. But the day to pass on her experiences was still a ways off, and for now, there was work to be done.:: ::The first glimmer of the sun could be seen as its light scattered across the atmosphere of the planet below. Within seconds, it would return to its complete blinding brilliance, and so, Eliza turned back to the terminal and began to run the numbers of the experiment again. Under the microscope, tiny nano probes began their workday all over again.:: ((Flashback, 64 Years Ago, USS Andromeda)) ::The darkness around him swirled and coalesced into images created by his own imagination. Beneath him, the bed seemed far softer than the chair he spent most of his time in during the day and when coupled with the soft tones of the ‘music’ he’d heard since the ship entered the area of space known as the Typhon Expanse, his body simply let the trappings of the day fade into nothingness. It was this time of the day he enjoyed the most; when the neoteric quiescence of night allowed the voices of the past to whisper directly into his mind. The very epitome of being Trill, it was in this experience that everything existed.:: ::Sleep, itself, never came easily, but he didn’t mind. He had freed himself from the constrictions associated with the uniform that lay draped across the back of a chair in the corner of the room that he could not see, but knew was there. And in his newfound freedom, deep contemplation danced a complex waltz with introspection. Intuition wrapped itself up in the ruminations of whatever situation faced them and answers were found, while lessons from decades before were spoken softly.:: ::The dance continued long into the hours that constituted night aboard the tiny, when compared to the universe it explored, vessel, that drifted nearly silently deeper into the perpetual night of space. With the continued backdrop of music, provided by the Expanse itself, Alaryc found a chance to really listen, and learn, from the history that had come before.:: ::Deep whispers from within rose up to speak of solitude and of the stars. They drifted without direction or set destination and spoke of things he'd not focused on in his life, like love. Though the experiences came to him, not always making sense, he found himself learning and growing with each lesson from the past. It was a path that would ultimately lead to the center chair, and a life full of things to pass on to who came next. It was a legacy that would live on.:: ((Flashback, 17 Years Ago, USS Valor)) ::On the padd that was firmly grasped in her hands scrolled the words that answered every wish and prayer that she had ever had. They were simple, and they explained only what her next steps were, but it was one word at the top of them all that had her literally jumping for joy. Accepted. The word created ripples of elation within her entire body, instigating the intense flow of endorphins and bringing her to a level of jubilation she had never experienced before.:: ::Still tightly holding the padd, the young girl ran out of the quarters that she shared with her parents to share the news that she would not be staying there for much longer. Everything she had worked for, and everything that she had wanted was finally coming true; having been accepted to the University in Medara, soon she knew that she would be leaving her current life behind. There would be no more red alerts, or danger, or stuffy air that was simply recycled through the ship. No more warp core centered discussions at the dinner table, and no more going over emergency procedures that would take her to the lifepods; Jazra was about to set out on a new course.:: ::It was a course that she had been striving for ever since she had first set foot on a starship. Having lived there most of her life, she had thrown herself into school, excelling past those that shared her age, and never making friends. Now, her long nights spent studying, and her lack of a social life, were finally paying off. And while she knew that her parents were still on duty, she didn’t care. This was something she needed to share, even if her running through the halls of the Valor brought quite a few strange looks. Even if the whole ship found her odd, or troublesome, or anything else. It didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered were the words; words etched into history on her padd.:: ::But fate, as it would have been, had a different path in mind. Change was coming, and soon, Jazra's mind would be open to the history Adyr granted to her, even if she didn't know it yet. Sure, she'd get her chance and attend the University on Betazed, but not without growing pains that would add her own experiences to the long list of lessons held for the hosts of the future. Not without making some attempt at keeping her from leaving.:: ::And in time, even her girlish excitement would fade into the teachings meant for someone else.:: ((Flashback, 14 Years Ago, Trill)) ::It was funny how things often came full circle.:: ::Standing in the courtyard in the capital city of Mak’ala, Norah let his eyes take in sights the Adyr symbiont had not seen in quite some time. Around him, people came and went, busy in their lives and wandering about their business. Each of them seemed too caught up in the moment to think about what might come in the next, but that didn’t stop him from contemplating his own end. Having just been joined, the susurrations of Jazra, and those that had come before, were bubbling up in his mind. Together they sang, as if in a chorus of voices that gave him insight into his own end; an end that was coming towards him faster and faster, with no brakes available to slow inevitability down.:: ::And though the idea might have been disturbing to some, the old diplomat simply smiled at the oncoming cliff. His time had been long ago in days that were remembered with pleasant thoughts. Now, at least, he would be able to pass those moments on through the eyes of the symbiont he never thought he’d have. Perhaps, somehow, his experiences as a peace seeker, negotiator, and overall diplomat, would bring knowledge and patience to a place and time where it would really matter.:: ::Though pained by the circumstances of her death, and the intense feelings for a certain Betazoid man that echoed from the young woman who had met her end, Norah knew that it was all part of the grand scheme. Together, Jazra’s short life would coalesce with those that had carried Adyr prior and build a legacy unlike any seen outside the planet on which he now stood. It was in that legacy that he found peace. Death was certain to come find him, and soon, but with a legacy like he had now, what more could he ask for? He would not die now, but live on, in the mind and body of another. :: ((End Flashbacks)) ::A final puff of steam floated towards the ceiling as the most recent host of Adyr looked on. History danced around in her head, coming together into stories that were far better than fiction as her coffee fell inevitably to an undrinkable temperature. Perhaps it was the lack of steam, or the fact that her legs were cramping from how she had been sitting for so long, but she suddenly knew that it was time to go.:: ::Standing, Cayden left the dining area and moved to the room to prepare for her day. In her wake, on the small dining table, sat a now-cooled mug of coffee that had not been consumed as one might have expected. Though it remained in the mug, and the mug on the table, it had become the catalyst for so much more.:: ::It had brought her mind to the more important lessons from the past; lessons that would serve her well as she stepped away from the moment, and into the rest of her life.:: -- Captain Kalianna Nicholotti Commanding Officer Starbase 118/USS Victory
  14. Greetings, everyone, and thanks for your patience! I'm pleased to announce that the judges for this round -- Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Lieutenant Commander Arden Cain, Lieutenant Alleran Tan, and Commander Aron Kells -- have conferred and selected a winner and a runner-up from the entries. The winner of the May & June Writing Challenge, with her story, "Time Is...," is Kali Nicholotti! Our runner-up, with his entry into his ongoing saga, "The Broken Clock - Time for a Last Stand," is Eyas Wulfantine! Congratulations to you both! The May & June stories and rules, save this response thread, have been moved to the 2012 Hall of Fame. Stay tuned for news today regarding July's special contest....
  15. Hello, lovely writers and dutiful readers, and welcome to the third Writing Challenge of 2012! Please peruse this post with proper prudence, as it contains the guidelines, rules, and other important bits regarding entering your submission. Alleran Tan, winner of the March/April Challenge, joins your esteemed panel of judges for this round, and has also chosen the challenge topic, "A Broken Clock." Certainly time travel has been an important part of the Trek world for many years, from 2009's movie to the finales of TNG and Voyager, but how will your entry interpret the theme? I and the other judges can't wait to find out! To participate in the challenge, please create a new thread. From the "Topic Prefix" selection list, choose "May/Jun" -- don't forget to do this, because without it your story won't be considered for this round! You may denote your story as a "Work in Progress," but please do so at the beginning of the story (not in the thread topic), and remember to finish it before the deadline, as any story noted as a work in progress will not be considered. As always, please remember: *Your work must be completely original. *You must be the sole author of the work. *Your story must take place in the Star Trek universe, but may not center upon canon characters. *Sign your final draft as you would a post on your ship. *Your story must be between 300 and 3000 words. As of today, Friday, May 4th, this Challenge is open! The very last day to enter is Friday, June 22nd, so get in your entry before then! For any questions you might have, remember that you can always visit the Writing Challenge website. Good luck!
  16. Tal breathed in the hot dry air as the transporter affect vanished leaving him stranded on the surface of Cart’ahen III for the next 2 weeks. It was almost like coming home. That is if Tal had a home. He never had, however he had been raised in the training barracks on Ten-nok VII. Just like this world it was a hot dry desert and he suspected that those were not the only similarities between the 2 worlds. However unlike Ten-nok VII, the indigenous people of this world had not been allowed to develop on their own. They had been easily conquered and enslaved by the Klingons. Then they had spent the next ?? years working in various mines. It was only when the Klingons had found better sources of raw ores closer to home that they finally abandoned the world and left the natives to try and survive on their own. Now true the Klingons still had a facility on the planet but now all it housed were criminals and political guests. A glorified prison with the reputation that no one had ever escaped or been released. Add to that the various cities and towns that had been developed by more species than it was reasonable to expect in one place and you had the current hell hole that was Cart’ahen III. A place where anything goes, where corruption goes hand in hand with greed, avarice and brutality. And those were just some of the finer sentiments that motivated the majority of the population. Fortunately that was not why he was here. Instead he was here because he was bored and an old friend from the Academy had asked him for a favour. Now true she was not really a friend. Merely one of the many young ladies that his room mate had dated during their time at the Academy. However she had been instrumental in helping arrange Tal’s very first date. So in a way Tal did own her one. Besides when he had heard her request he had been intrigued. It seems she was doing some research and needed some first hand, eye witness data about the small percentage of natives that had decided to return to the old ways and live a nomadic existence in the deserts that covered most of this planet. Their situation was not only unusual but fairly unique. After all how many species had undergone the extreme social upheaval that they had been subjected to. According to the records the Klingons had forcible stripped them of all their history, culture and social traditions in order to make better workers out of them. Then after generations of hard labour and brutal domination they had just been tossed out to fend for themselves. So here he was, deep in the desert, as far from any of the larger communities as he could get. And while he could never attempt to pass himself off as one of them he could try to make his presence less offensive. So as a result he had left his uniform behind and was dressed like one of them. Or at least as much like them as the few data files that were available seemed to indicate they dressed. Suddenly his antenna detected something. It sounded like movement. They were coming from a couple different directions and seemed to be moving fairly rapidly. Tal lifted the hood off his head to allow his antenna better access to the sound waves. It would also serve the purpose of identifying him as an outsider. According to the few files that had been available, the nomads were normally hostile towards anyone not a member of their small tribe. The only exception to this were the few traveling traders that moved from place to place. Most of the tribes considered them to be too valuable a source of rare goods to ever risk offending them. Hence the 2 huge packs that Tal had on his shoulders. Tal waited patiently. The sun beat down and soon sweat started to bead his forehead and still he waited. Then suddenly over the top of the closest dune came a man dressed all in flowing robes the color of the sands around them. He kept walking until he was only a few arms lengths away. Then he unwrapped his face and tossed back his hood. His features were unusual but the scars made him look tough, dangerous. Even through the robes Tal could tell he was strong. His eyes were cold, hard with a kind of restrained anger that could erupt at the least provocation. He stared back, looking Tal over. Judging him. Evaluating his right to live. Evidently Tal passed muster because a slight grin crossed his homely features as he brought his left hand up and struck himself on the right side of his chest. When he spoke his voice was deep, yet soft. With that elusive quality that let you know he was in charge. “Welcome stranger. May you always have water and never become lost.” “May you always have water and strong sons to follow in your foot steps.” Tal replied. And with that simple exchange of greetings Tal was welcomed amongst them. They brought him to their camp. Gave him food and water and spent many hours bartering for the goods that Tal had brought with him. While he did not truly care if he made a profit he knew he needed to play the part if he was to learn as much as possible about these people. In the end he knew they got the better of him but he did not care. For the first time in a long time he felt almost relaxed. Like he had found something that was missing, something that had so far been missing from his life. In the process he had been able to amass quite a bit of what he hoped would be useful data. So here he was, nearing the end of his shore leave. Standing near the tent he had been sharing with a number of single males. It was merely a suspended canopy that blocked the sun but still allowed full movement and sight in any and all directions. The sun was just reaching it’s zenith and the heat was climbing slowly. Soon it would be so hot that any exposed skin coming into contact with metal or rock would be burned. As a result the last few members of the tribe that were not already in the shade slowly moved to join the rest. Tal turned and was about to join them when something made him stop. He turned back and looked out towards the surrounding sand dunes. Heat waves danced their shimmering little dance, distorting even his enhanced vision. There was little sound, just the idle chatter of people relaxing. Most of the animals were asleep, but even those few who were not made very little noise. Something seemed wrong, but try as he might he could not find any reason for why he felt that way. Everything seemed the same as always. Was the heat starting to get to him? Tal finally gave it up with a slight shake of his head and turned back towards his tent. WWWWWWHHHOOOOSSSHHHHHH Tal threw him self forward into the tent but the ground rose up and slammed into him. Dust was everywhere, obscuring his vision and something had landed on top of him. He managed to twist enough so that he could reach back and push it off only to see that it was one of the men he had been sharing the tent with. His lifeless eyes stared off into the distance, covered with a thin film of dust. Looking around Tal spotted a huge crater in the ground where the far side of the tent use to be. Everything was tossed around, scattered piles of flesh and equipment mixed with sand and blood. Tal crawled towards a large pile of debris as more lethal sounds shattered the air. These were intermixed with screams of pain, rage, anger and fear. Tal shoved his hand inside his robe, fishing for the small hand phaser he had brought with him as he pushed himself up and glanced over the mound he was crouched behind. It looked worse than it sounded. Everywhere he looked people were running around, stumbling in a daze or cowering behind anything that might offer the least little bit of protection. Mixed in among them were a few strangers, men with bloody blades who hacked and slashed at anything that came close to them. As he watched Tal saw a young girl almost cut in half when she staggered out in front of one of them. Tal raised his phaser to shoot but before he could, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye and rolled away just in time. A large sword like weapon slammed into the ground where he had been lying just a second ago. The man wielding it was splashed with blood. His face a snarling mask of rage as he lunged forward. Again Tal managed to roll out of the way before the blade could make contact. Only this time his body stopped moving when he smashed into a pile of debris. He was trapped with no where to go as the blade was lifted up and started to fall. Suddenly the man dropped the blade as a large spear head exploded out of his chest splattering Tal with his blood before he dropped to the sand. A large foot slammed down on his back as the tribesman that had finished him twisted and tugged on his weapon trying to free it from the body at his feet. Tal started to get up, spotted another on of their attackers approaching the tribesman from behind and managed to get off a shot that slowed him down long enough for Tal to hit him again. This time he fell backwards onto the dead man that had landed on Tal earlier. Getting to his feet Tal looked around carefully. Each time he spotted one of their attackers he fired a shot. After about 6 shots he could not spot any more of the enemy. An eerie, unnatural quiet had descended on the camp. One intermixed with moans and the agonizing cries of the wounded. Tal waited a few more seconds then moved towards where the fighting seemed to have been the worst. He stepped over bodies and around piles of gear. It was all such a waste. Such a needless waste he thought. Tal twisted aside as a spear was thrust towards him. He felt the edge of the blade cut the skin on his stomach just before the point struck his phaser. It glanced off but damaged it so badly in the process that it overloaded and lightning like arcs of energy exploded out of it. The result was that his hand felt like it had been subjected to an electrified firestorm. The phaser dropped from his now useless hand as Tal ducked under the follow up stroke his attacker did using the shaft of the weapon. In response Tal smashed his injured hand into the pit of his stomach. As he did it Tal twisted at the waist and put his entire body behind the blow. Even with that he was unsure which one of them regretted his actions the most, even when he lifted the man off his feet with the punch. Tal immediately followed up with another punch that shattered his attackers jaw. With the man down Tal looked around. It seemed to be all over now. All that was left was to bury the dead and care for the wounded. As he stood there he realized that this planet was similar in so many ways to his own home world. It went way beyond them both being desert planets. At the heart of it all was the reason he had chosen to join Starfleet. He realized that was his home now as he moved to assist the closest wounded survivor.
  17. ((Starfleet Academy, San Francisco California, Earth)) The seats in the auditorium style classroom filled slowly as the clock on his desk ticked the seconds away. He watched it, almost preoccupied with the forward movement of the hands as those seconds disappeared into the void of nothingness. The occasional student approached the desk and placed a padd there, stopping for some kind of acknowledgement. Ultimately, they continued on to a seat when they got none. Soon, the seats were nearly full, yet his eyes did not stray from the clock. An uneasy silence settled on the room, where his students anticipated the beginning of the lecture. Each one of them looked down towards the small platform near the front of the room at the somewhat eccentric professor whom none had met before. This was a class that was one that was shrouded in some secrecy; a condition he himself had placed on his very presence. And so, as the clock tick-tocked - a sound that soon filled the emptiness where noise and movement once existed - the professor finally looked up at the class. "Good morning class." A wave of seemingly obligatory 'good morning's' drifted down from all corners of the room. The entire mass seemed quite unsure of what was going to happen next. Undoubtedly, the rumors that often spread about the class had at least some of the students concerned as to what might be coming. That was when he smiled. "My name is Commander Stewart, and I am from the future." Having done this very speech many times before, he paused as the whispers moved through the room. When the wave of sound had dissipated, and the ticking of the clock returned, he continued. "I am also from the past." Another wave of whispers, albeit a much shorter run, moved through the room as he walked up to a chalkboard at the front of the class. It was an antiquated tool, but one that he had insisted on having for his lectures. Many of his colleagues whispered about how strange it was, but to his face no one ever questioned it. It was simply a part of his odd nature; at least that was what the rumors said. Picking up a piece of the quite antiquated and specially ordered chalk, the grey haired man with the slightly elongated face that made him look just alien enough to not be human wrote two words; 'Time is'. Beneath the words he drew a line. "What is time?" he said as he turned to face the class. The echoing ticking of the clock filled the silence that extended beyond his own words when not a single student stepped up to the answer. Smiling slightly, he walked a few steps towards the center of the platform before continuing. It appeared that this class would be one of the less interactive ones. "Come on," he said as he waved one hand towards himself as if to draw in a response. "Time is?" It took him pointing at one young female officer in the front row to get things started. He stared at her until she finally spoke, saying only one word. "Relative?" Nodding, the man smiled slightly as he spoke, "That's a good start. Time is relative. Time is also self-evident. We see it pass, we witness its effects on the body and the world around us, but what about the fundamental nature of time?" The question created a whole new realm of silence in the room. It was something he was used to, so he simply continued. "Time is two things; both finite and infinite," he said as he spoke with his voice, but also with his hands. "We have all the time in the world, but time is always running out. Have you ever witnessed the moment when time stood still? Perhaps you have, but if you have not, you surely have been involved in a moment when there simply wasn't enough time because it was too busy flying." He stopped pacing along the platform to look at the students, some of which seemed to be following along well enough, before moving on both in speech and in movement. "To you, right now, time may seem like an irreversible succession of events, but in reality it is a dimension of its own. To change the past means to change the future, yet the past has already been changed." Turning slightly, he pointed to the line on the board. "Is time a line?" He asked the question and gave it a moment before shaking his head and continuing, "No. Time exists and fills up every point in every area of space in every dimension." A few nods could be seen throughout the room, but he looked into the sea of students and was met with questioning eyes. While some instances of the class seemed to take quickly to the ideas of time, others, such as this one, took some real invocation of critical though. As such, he asked, "Can you change the past, the present, or the future?" Whirling around, he pointed at a young man in the front of the class who fumbled around with a stylus in his fingers for an extraordinarily long second before dropping it to the floor and staring blankly back at the professor. The clock on the desk tick-tocked. One might have assumed, in the silence in which it resonated, that more seconds were lost into the oblivion of transition where the present became the past, but no one was able to see its unmoving hands. A full minute of real time silence went by before the student finally came up with an answer. "No." At this, the professor smiled and looked at the clock on his way to the board to make his point. It was as if he could see the hands moving even though they were most definitely not. "Why?" The professor paused only a moment before jumping into a whole new speech, "Why is it that the past is not really something you can adjust or change or divert to a new direction? What is the one thing about time that makes it so impossible to change? It is not the forward marching of time, or the slow forward crawling of it when you are waiting for something exciting, is it? Can it be the visible slowdown of time as you approach faster than light speeds?" Silence once again settled on the room and the ticking clock echoed in the ears of all who were present. This time, however, it was different. This time, the ticking sounded as if the hands were caught between A and B; between one second and the next. But, as no one could see the clock other than the professor, not a single student questioned the progress of time. It took some descent into the silent nullity once again before anyone seemed to gather up enough nerve to speak up. Even when one of the older students did so, the answer came in the form of a question rather than a statement. "But it is possible to change." There was a short pause as the student collected the rest of her thoughts, "Hasn't it been done before by using the gravity of a star to speed up to where a ship could travel back through time?" A wry grin appeared on the face of the professor. Now, perhaps, they were getting somewhere. He pointed at the woman and shook his head before speaking. "That would assume that time falls in a line," he said as he walked back and forth on the platform ignoring the seemingly difficult struggle of the clock on his desk. "If it were a line, it would be easily traversed. However, is it not right to assume that everything that could happen, already has? In effect, does time itself not fill every inch of space in every dimension in existence allowing for infinite possibilities?" Time, he was trying to explain, was far from the line these students were used to seeing it as. There were so many people focused on maintaining and preserving the timeline. What these people didn't realize was that the choices had already been made for them in this timeline, or the next. One of the students picked up on that fact and spoke in an almost argumentative tone. "But that means we have no choices," she stated flatly. "It means what we might chose has already been chosen and we can only ride the flow of it all. I can't believe that." The professor with the elongated face raised his eyebrows. It wasn't often in his walks through the timelines that he invoked such a response. This one, a young Asian woman with long, raven hair, would one day lead; it was something he could feel resonate within his core. "Why not?" he asked simply without taking his eyes from hers. She wasted no time in speaking her response. "Because the universe does not control my destiny. We are shaped by the events of our lives, not by some predetermined ending." Silence once again fell around them as the professor held her gaze. There was a fire that burned in her eyes that he did not have the pleasure of seeing often. In other instances of the class, he'd found her decidedly less intense or even non-existent. But this timeline would gain quite the leader, it would seem. Yet none of this could be spoken. His job was to only to be the catalyst for critical thinking on a subject often muddled through and misunderstood. "You seem sure of your control. How can you know you're in control of anything?" he asked already knowing the answer yet seeking to prod the woman into a level of furious debate that he rarely got the chance to see. Once again, there was little hesitation in her response. "Because when I act, I face a definitive reaction." It was the first of many quick, yet educated responses. Over the course of the next hour, he sparred with the woman over time and destiny. She didn't believe in fate, yet he tried to point out the fact that all eventualities did, in fact, exist. The woman seemed intent on the idea that she could bend the rules that governed time, yet she did not walk outside of it like he did; a fact that no one would come to know except for the few that allowed him to teach. But her thought patterns and passion were a breath of fresh air, and by the time they had run the course of the class, he felt as if he had run a marathon. Leaving her with a final cryptic statement regarding the nature of time, the professor turned his attention to the clock on his desk. The hands were positioned in such a way that made him want to hurry despite not having moved at all. All the same, he knew that this timeline would soon be moving forward without him. "Time is evolution of the mind, the body, and the universe around us," he said matter-of-factly. "It is seen and felt, yet invisible and intangible. Paradox and simplified problem. Remember this always as you step out into the normal world." The final bit got the attention of a few, but nothing more was said as the students began reaching for their things and prepared to leave the class. The tick-tocking of the clock on his desk, which hands had not moved since his last check, got lost in the shuffle of people and bags and desks around the room. No one approached the desk this time, as they would not ever return to the room where the strange professor taught. This was a one shot deal for those who chose to take the class. Watching the students as they watched their own chronometers, biding their time until the moment came, the professor mentally dismissed this instance of these students. The moment came as he finished looking over them all and soon they filed out of the room. While a few looked back and bid him farewell, most were already caught up in the present without much thought for the past which had just occurred. To him, however, it was all the same; every class he taught reacted in nearly the same way. This time was different though. This time he had been able to invoke a response from one of the students. It was something that made him smile as he sat in the silence and began filing the report to the appropriate people regarding the students he had just seen. In the silence, the clock could be heard echoing slower and slower into the empty room. The professor pushed the send button just as the second hand got lost in between the moments and suddenly the clock simply stopped. It felt like he was holding his breath, caught between now and then, before and after, as the environment around him shifted ever so slightly. He was used to it by now, but the feeling of not being able to breathe always caught him slightly unaware. As things settled, and the ticking of the clock rang out once more into the slightly different empty room, he prepared himself to teach the class again. Different, yet it was the same; a grand experiment in portraying the same event in various locations in time. The same students, in different timelines, all reacting according to their own logical chain of events. So far, none of the students had broken the code, but there were still an infinite number of classes to go. Perhaps somewhere along the lines he would run into another fiery personality or overwhelming intelligence that the time-walker would find more than just intriguing. The seats in the auditorium style classroom filled slowly as the seemingly broken clock on his desk ticked the seconds away. He watched it, almost preoccupied with the forward movement of the hands as those seconds disappeared into the void of this timeline's nothingness. The occasional student approached the desk and placed a padd there, stopping for some kind of acknowledgement. Ultimately, they continued on to a seat when they got none. Soon, the seats were nearly full, yet his eyes did not stray from the clock. An uneasy silence settled on the room, with his students anticipating the beginning of the lecture. Each one of them looked down towards the small platform near the front of the room at the somewhat eccentric professor whom none had met before. This was a class that was one that was also shrouded in some secrecy; a condition he himself had placed on his very presence. And so, as the clock tick-tocked in a somewhat endless march - a sound that soon filled the emptiness where noise and movement once existed - the professor finally looked up at the class and began it all again. "Good morning class." -- Commander Kalianna Nicholotti Commanding Officer Starbase 118/USS Victory
  18. The rain poured down the outside of the small hut. The squad huddled in the tiny structure, trying to get some respite from the tempest lashing all around them. Lieutenant Weyland looked out of the cracked window. He knew his foes would not let some inclement weather dampen their bloodlust. The war was going badly, very badly. It had been several months now since the alien ‘Army of Execution’ had landed on Byzatium, and systematically marched across the planet, laying waste to everything and everyone they had come across. These giant, ruthless Pythron warriors – trained for war since birth – were the most formidable fighters in the sector. By contrast, Byzatium’s motley assortment of armed civilians, raw cadets, aged veterans and mercenaries were no real match for the blond war machine. Nevertheless, the Byzallians had no choice but to resist and fight to their last phaser charge. The storm slowly but steadily abated as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. A blood red glow began to form along with the growing shadows. There was a sound reminiscent of distant thunder, booming beyond the dark ruins that surrounded the small encampment. “Not long now” whispered Weyland to himself, looking at his grandfather’s pocket watch. Soon their last serviceable craft would ferry their people across the wide ocean to their last redoubt. They just needed to hold off the Pythron advance long enough to allow them to launch the ships from the hoverport, at 5.30am, local time! The young officer wiped the sweat from his forehead, and exited the ruined hut and went a few steps up the grassy bank next to the building. He scanned the horizon for any hint of enemy movement, but even with keen eyesight, he could see nothing. Not a thing was alive out there. Had their artillery been that accurate? Impossible! The enemy was hiding.... somewhere. Waiting to pounce. The weary crimson sun neared the hill tops, taking what little comforting warmth it gave with it - apparently deserting the ruins and battered forests to their fate. A cold wind rushed down the valley, howling around the bombed-out building where the small squad of soldiers were awaiting their orders. It had been nearly a week now since they had seen sent on their mission, and all were getting anxious. There had been minimal communications with their superiors. It was now just a matter of basic, animalistic survival for them. Weyland sighed, replaced his gun in his belt and scrambled back down the rubble-strewn slope to his patrol. He found them huddled around a small fire, trying to keep warm. Their ragged uniforms did little to help keep out the cold, and their hunger went beyond anything they had experienced before, their bellies almost stuck to their backbones. Weyland himself had only joined the partisans a few months ago, and he was already an officer – with ten men (or more accurately boys) under his command. At twenty, he was the oldest by three years - no match for the opposition they now had to face. “Get some sleep guys. Tomorrow, I feel, is going to be show time” he ordered. “Shall I take first watch?” asked Corporal Gryphon, eagerly. “No thank you corporal” replied Weyland, “I’ll do that, you get some rest.” As his patrol found what little space they could around the dying embers of the campfire, Weyland turned away to look once again at the dark hills. He knew it was going to be a long night… * * * At about 5am, Weyland sprang to his feet. The sleeping bodies of his troops still lay about him, but there was definitely something amiss. The lieutenant’s intuition sensed something in the air that foretold danger. He reached for his binoculars, and ran back up to the look-out on the old ruin building, desperate to check the horizons for the enemy and cursing his commanders for not keeping him informed of the latest developments. Standing tall, he strained his eyes through the lenses – searching for the slightest blip. The darkness meant that he needed the night vision function on the binoculars – but after weeks of being dragged through mud, they were malfunctioning. “How the hell can we stop ‘them’ if we haven’t got the tools to do it?” growled the young officer to himself in desperation. Indeed, ever since the day when ‘they’ had come, all meaningful Byzallian technology had become obsolete. To be honest, all civilisation was on the brink of collapse. Cities had crumbled, people destroyed in the most sickening ways imaginable. It was also on that Day that the life he had known died forever. “What’s the verdict sir?” came the voice of Sergeant Tyndall from half way up the slope. “Nothing so far, Sergeant.” replied the lieutenant. “Just the usual devastation and.....” He hesitated. “Darn it – they’re coming! Get the men up!” he barked to Tyndall. “Yes sir!” came the muffled reply, as the boy scampered back down the hill to the camp. “So this is it.” mused the lieutenant. “Time to meet the family…” He followed Tyndall back down the slope, charging his gun as he went. Upon reaching the camp, he quickly checked that everyone was ready. The gloom hid the anxious looks on their faces. This would be their last action. “Right lads. This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting for. We are going to stop those Pythron scum in their tracks. They’ve taken our homes, our families, our lands – but blast it – we’ll make them pay! You know the drill – good luck everyone!” bellowed Weyland, with as much firmness as his own shaky nerves would allow. The patrol scrambled to the cover of a low wall, with the remnants of a hedge on one side. Little vegetation grew on Byzatium. “Right lads. Hold your fire.” “I can see them now sir.” whispered Gryphon, his numbed finger pressing slightly on the trigger. “Hold your fire. They haven’t seen us yet. They are still reconnoitring.” replied the officer. BLAM! Corporal Gryphon’s rifle let off a string of phaser shots at the dark loping shapes in the distance. “Darn it corporal. I told you to wait.” shouted Weyland, but it was too late. The horde had been alerted – and the black mass began stalking towards their position. “Let ‘em have it!” barked Weyland, and his troops opened fire on the enemy. Rows of the black shapes fell, or appeared to fall, in the gloom. Were they simply being replaced by more and more? In what little light there was, the lieutenant could make out the hideous onslaught. Giants in gleaming armour, and motorised transports – relentless - lurching towards them, momentarily silhouetted against the moon light and phaser flashes. For about twenty minutes the gunfight continued. The Byzallian lads were starting to get low on charges – and still the dark foe continued towards them. Weyland scooted up and down the line, shouting encouragement – and letting off the occasional shot with his hand gun. Suddenly something whistled past his ear. Spinning round, the lieutenant saw a group of ironclad warriors approaching from cover of the buildings behind him. They were also firing what appeared to be poisoned darts – judging by the effect it had had on at least one of his patrol. “Quick men. Rear attack!” he called, but it was too late. Through stealth and superhuman abilities, the frontal attack had already reached the Byzallian’s position in only a fraction of the time expected. Cries of pain were briefly heard over the howl and cheers of the attackers. “Fall back!” shouted Lieutenant Weyland, but the situation had already become hopeless. In the gloom he could barely make out anything of what was happening, but he had already thought he’d counted more death cries than he had soldiers under his command. Just then, in a flash of gunfire, the Weyland saw Sergeant Tyndall wrestling with some Pythron behemoth with metal spiked gloves. The lieutenant began to run along the hedge, trying to reach Tyndall, but the muddy ground slowed him considerably. Wham! Wham! Splut! A hail of projectiles erupted around his feet as he continued running. He had almost reached his struggling second-in-command when a razor dart found its mark. Weyland fell to the ground, clutching his shoulder. Desperately, he tried to crawl along the ground – in a defiant yet pointless effort to reach what was left of his patrol. Blood was trickling down his arm, staining his khaki and grey uniform. Weyland’s head spun as the toxin took effect, while the Pythrons surrounded his prone form, talking to each other in a harsh guttural language, their weapons all aimed at his head. “What you waiting for? You got what you wanted? Our planet stained with our blood?” he shouted. A rifle butt to the head silenced any more protest. Spotting a shining piece of metal poking out of Weyland’s jacket pocket, one of the Pythron’s knelt down, and picked up the young man’s pocket watch. The glass front was smashed and the half the internal workings were hanging out the back, the time forever stuck 5.32am. In the distance, there was another roar. This time of hover engines. Looking up, the Pythron warrior scowled as several large Byzallian craft hovered on the horizon and then disappeared into the haze to safety.
  19. Flames churned along the deck of the shuttlecraft, sparks leaping from the consoles only to help feed the inferno, as if hell itself was reaching a hand through the deck-plates to snatch at the frail and scorched form trying desperately to bring the engines back online. The interior of the shuttlecraft appeared to be fairly standard, except for a few minor... oddities. The transporter padd that would normally be in the middle of the craft and lead back to the rear compartment was missing - instead, the entirety of the deck plating was littered with tiny circles, though they were only able to be seen because the fire had melted some of the carpeting. And the interior was perhaps a bit longer, and thinner, than most variations of Starfleet shuttlecraft. What would have been considered off-putting to any Starfleet officer at the time, however, would have been the modified script and design of the modular consoles - they were the oddly oxidized color of Klingon hull-metal, and the language was mostly Klingon, but there were Federation Standard subscripts as well. It was most certainly a Starfleet shuttlecraft, though, because the familiar Delta symbol was plastered over every console... though slightly modified to include the Klingon trident behind it. A matching combadge was pinned to chest of the slightly barbequed officer sitting at the helm. The pips on his collar bore the rank of Captain, the uniform itself a heavily modified version of the standard wear from the 2380s: gray padding at the shoulders of the jacket, the crimson of command as the duty shirt underneath. The jacket hung open loosely, partly in fact because the clasp broke, and partly in fact because the wearer was burning up. The computer chimed several times, but the Captain could not hear the report because the flames were too close. Growling, he pushed himself up from the chair, knocking it over and stalking back towards the rear of the shuttle. A sleeve was pressed against his mouth, trying to block out the smoke, but he still began to cough and his eyes were watering. Luckily, the fire had not spread to the rear compartment so he was now able to hear the computer’s report. “Warning. Warp engines overloading. Explosion imminent. Recommend emergency evacuation. Warning. Warp engines overloading. Explos--” Grunting, the Captain slammed the heel of his palm against the console and silenced the computer. He grimaced and shot a look through the doorway back at the inferno he’d left behind... there was no reason to stay, and there was much that needed to be done. Crouching down, he tugged at the panel beneath his feet to reveal the standard emergency equipment. He grabbed as much as he could hold, slapping a phaser and tricorder against his hip before standing up again. His voice was hoarse as he spoke. “Computer, scan the surface below us and look for an area with little to no traffic. Initiate emergency transport to that area as soon as you find it.” “Working.” Although it probably only took around ten seconds for the computer to find a location and begin the transport, to the Captain it felt like an eternity - and the flames had begun to follow him from the front of the shuttle. He could hear the warp engine buried in the body of the ship as it began to overload - the normal pulsing suddenly an intense screaming noise that doubled him over... And only a moment later he found himself in a dirty back alley, hidden from view of the inhabitants in the street. Wincing and turning his head to look upward, he could almost swear he saw the tiny explosion in the night sky... though considering the distance his shuttle had been from the planet, that was certainly impossible. His gaze shifted from the sky to the enormous clocktower in the middle of the square, just across from where he had beamed in. 21:34 local time on stardate 238806.21. How could that possibly be right? Frowning and shaking his head, the Captain began setting down the emergency equipment behind a trash bin, trying to keep himself hidden as he began stripping off his uniform. Considering his situation, it wouldn’t do him any good to be spotted by another Starfleet officer... at least, not until he would be able to blend in better. Two and a half decades... that certainly explained the flash of light that had seemed to envelop his shuttle. His eyebrows rose as realization struck him. The past 25 years.... or, in this case, the future 25 years... that would be plenty of time to prevent the Galactic War. And how fortunate for him he had arrived at the capital city of Kilratha on the Caitian homeworld... ***** Time: Stardate 238905.29 Location: Governor S’Emral Aveunalliv’s Office, Kilratha, Cait “Governor... you know how important this is. We’ve been talking about this for months now, and I need you to make a decision.” The elder Caitian let out a sigh as he leaned back in his chair, running a paw through the fur at his chin. “R’Varr... you’re right, we have been talking about this for months, but as I already told you, I cannot be rushed into this. I have my family to think about.” R’Varr’s paw slammed down against the front edge of S’Emral’s desk, the ruddy red and black of his fur clashing with the purple robe he wore. “Dammit, S’Emral, we have no time to waste. We must begin this movement before it is too late.” He clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, green eye flashing with danger, a patch covering the other. “And you know this is bigger than your family.” S’Emral’s fangs stuck out for a moment as his frown flattened. He turned in his chair to gaze out the window, his view overlooking the main square of the city, the clocktower the most prominent building to be seen. Paws folding together before him, he let out another sigh, this one of resignation. “. . . very well. You know what to do.” R’Varr stood in silence for a moment before nodding and turning on his heel, striding out of the Governor’s office. He couldn’t help but be relieved - he had spent nearly a year building up this false identity, and it was finally beginning to pay off. A paw slid into his pocket and his ear flicked as he pulled the tricorder free. He paused about halfway down the hall before taking one of the side passages and ducking into one of the storage closets, making sure no one was following. Opening the tricorder, a single claw began ticking down against the buttons until he found the proper command. Tongue running over his maw, he said a small prayer to the Great Bird before initiating the timer. Back in S’Emral’s office, the Governor had moved away from his desk and crossed to the hidden liquor cabinet beneath the mantle and behind the fireplace. As he poured an amber liquid over ice, the first of the explosions could be heard... just barely. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the base of the clocktower explode outward. Quite calmly, he turned and walked towards the window as the explosions continued, each level of the tower exploding outward before gravity began to take its course. The final explosion came just as the face of the clock struck the street below. The timing had been chosen very carefully - for the most part the square had been empty, with everyone at work or tucked in at home. There were still some of the city’s inhabitants strolling underneath the tower before the explosion, but they had had time to scatter once the underground explosives had occurred. It was at that moment, as the comm unit in his desk began to chime over and over again, that he realized just what he had agreed to... and he hoped to heaven it had been the right decision. The Caitian Republic had been born, a revolution inspired by a group of Caitians who were taking exception to the original Vulcan annexation of Caitian space in 2154. It was their belief that Cait had the right to be an absolutely independent world - from the Federation, as much as anything. S’Emral had reluctantly agreed. He personally didn’t believe that Cait needed to secede from the Federation, however he had been swayed by the argument that the Vulcans owed some kind of restitution for what had been done so many years ago. It had been R’Varr that had begun the movement, and had fully convinced S’Emral to become the figurehead. R’Varr would, of course, be serving as an advisor, but S’Emral was already a respected politician. It made sense. R’Varr had seemed familiar somehow to S’Emral... he couldn’t ever quite put his claw on it, though. That had become much less important once R’Varr had promised him the Ambassadorship for the Caitian Republic. To be able to represent his people in such a way... it had been a personal dream for some time. After finishing his drink, wincing at the warm burn against the back of his throat, he moved to his desk and began taking calls. Soon enough, he would be forced to step forward as the supposed leader of this new movement... until then, it was time for damage control. ***** Lt (jg) S'Acul Aveunalliv HCO USS Avandar
  20. Chen

    MAY/JUN May/June 2011 Writing Challenge

    Hi all! Welcome to the May/June round of the Writing Challenge! Please read this post carefully for new guidelines on entering your submissions! Following in challenge traditions, the May/June round uses a single word as inspiration for entries. Joining us on the judging panel for this round is the March/April winner, Lieutenant Alleran Tan, who has decided on the following topic for this round: "Fire" You're free to interpret that however you like for your entries - does the title refer to a raging inferno, or a command to shoot? Maybe it will have a more lateral connotation to your story and manifest itself through a burning hatred? Or maybe someone's about to lose their job! The choice is yours, so let your imaginations run wild! Guidelines: To participate, create a new thread. The subject of the thread must be the title of your story, preceded by the tag [2011: MAY/JUN], which is a new requirement for entries that will be used when we archive the entries at the end of the round. If it is a Work In Progress, denote that at the top of the post itself (in the body text, not in the thread title). As with last round it will be the final draft posted in your topic that will be read and taken into consideration. Any unfinished entries marked as Work In Progress will not be considered for judging and will be moved to the "Character Cafe" forum at the end of the contest. Your work must be entirely your own. No co-authoring. You are welcome to create any character you so desire, but they must be from the Star Trek universe. No "canon" characters allowed. (i.e.- No one who has been on a show.) Length: No more than 3000 words accepted. Beginning Date: Tuesday, May 3rd Ending Date: Saturday, June 25th See Also: the Writing Challenge Website Challenge: “Fire” Good luck everyone!
  21. Guest

    MAY/JUN Prometheus

    Prometheus Joro cursed loudly at the ship's sensor console. He briefly considered hitting the thing but stopped himself in time, thoughts of repair costs floating through his four-lobed brain. Instead, the Ferengi typed the command to begin an emergency dump of his cargo hold before dropping out of warp and waiting for the three Jem'Hadar Attack Ships he'd picked up to approach. Joro's manifest showed he was on a return trip from Cardassia Prime with an empty cargo hold after dropping off a shipment of self-sealing stem bolts - which would lead to some very awkward questions if they'd detected him venting his hold. He sighed, this was likely to be a long afternoon. * * * There was a fire in the sky. Ashom watched with interest as the line of flames streaked across the sky, reflecting on the sea below, before finally impacting into the shoreline with a dull boom and a plume of burning sand. The darkness that followed was almost complete. Ashom waited, listening, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom before he stood up, brushed the sand from his robes, and walked towards the shore. It had been a very eventful afternoon, he reflected as he slid down a sand bank and pushed through the stiff grass. At midday he had been in his temple, telling the old fable about the Flame Lord's steed. His congregation had been small, lost amongst the long benches. He'd been losing people for years, the old beliefs weren't popular now. Most of his flock had turned to the newer religion, the single all-powerful deity. All that remained were the truly faithful, those so devoted that they would never abandon the old ways. Ashom remembered smiling down at them; Tanil, the tailor. Gurthod, the carpenter's apprentice. Pretty little Einsel the bargirl from the taverna. And then it had happened - Thorm had pushed her way through the doors along with a crowd of her followers and demanded that they leave. Ashom had been thrown out of his own temple, usurped by the new faith. The hardest thing had not been Thorm's grinning face as the priestess marched him from the building, rather it was the jeering crowd outside - Ashom recognised them all, many had been in his congregation last year, last month, even last week. The mob had followed him through the streets, easily a hundred strong, as if the entire town had come to see him disgraced. He soon discovered that they'd already been to his house - the place was wrecked, the door destroyed, his belongings scattered across the floor and smashed under boot heels. As he stared in disbelief the first stone had been thrown, bouncing off the earth by his foot. More had followed, striking his arms and back as he fled his old home, ran from the town. He'd run in fear, blindly, until he'd reached the sea and could go no further. Finally Ashom had rested, falling to his knees in the shifting sand. The crowd hadn't followed him this far and he'd felt safer here, the coast had always been a special place in his religion, a border between two realms. And so he had stayed kneeling as the suns set and the sky darkened until, as the last embers of the sunset faded into the ocean, he'd seen the flames in the sky. * * * "Explain why your cargo hold is empty." Joro cleared his throat, making sure he didn't sound nervous when he spoke. He always felt this way around lawmen. The fact that these lawmen were giant cloned killing machines didn't help matters much. "As you can see form my records I'm returning from Cardassia Prime. My ship is empty because I've already made my delivery." "So why didn't you bring anything back to trade elsewhere? I've never heard of a Ferengi with an empty ship." The way the Jem'Hadar First was grinning reminded Joro of pictures of a shark he'd seen once. The Ferengi considered his options; the First looked young, probably one of the alpha clones which made him only a year or so old, tops. The Founders might be able to clone the Jem'Hadar as perfect soldiers, but they lacked the experience of a good policeman. Luckily experience was one thing which Joro had in abundance. It practically oozed from him. "And what do you suggest I trade? Kanar? Damok sauce? If you'd not noticed, Cardassian produce isn't exactly selling well on the open market these days." He paused, and took a gamble. "Or do you suggest I start trading in ketracel-white?" The Jem'Hadar grunted and snatched a datapad from one of his soldiers. "Then explain why the atmospheric levels in your hold were less then ten percent when we boarded you. Perhaps you exposed it to vacuum before we arrived? And why would you do that, Ferengi?" Joro clicked his pointed teeth together. "Why would I bother pumping air into an empty part of my ship? Have you any idea how much energy I save by switching off life support in the cargo bay? My ship runs sixteen percent more efficiently. Sixteen! Maybe you should try it yourselves?" The First glared at him before stomping off to see what else he could poke his nose into. * * * A long finger from the incoming tide crept along the deep furrow on the beach and poured into the hole at the end where it erupted into steam with a sinister hiss. Ashom approached carefully and peered through the veil of vapour at the object half buried there. It was a box of some kind, glowing red like a beaten sword but cooling as the sea water pooled around it. Ashom let out a reverential sigh - clearly this... thing was a gift from the old powers! A box of fire that fell from the air to rest in the place where earth and water met. The old priest waited and waited until the glow faded and the sea no longer bubbled as it touched the metal before he clambered down the wet sand. The box was badly misshapen but it seemed to him that it may have been smooth at one point, like a sailor's sea chest. It was heavy and half buried, immobile. Whispering a quiet prayer, Ashom fumbled for his tinder box and by the light of the small flame he traced the lines on the metal - here the join of a hinged lid, here the remains of a handle, here the depression where a lock would be. He pushed the warm metal and with a click and a s[...]e the box opened. Ashom held his light closer and stared at the contents in bemusement. Most of the objects were obviously melted or broken, cracked and shattered fragments revealing strange things beneath their surface - tiny coils of copper, strange green material dotted with bright metal. Ashom gingerly sifted through the pieces until his hand closed on something solid. The thing he lifted out looked like an unfinished crossbow, although it appeared intact. Ashom had seen one once, when a ship from some far away land had been blown into their harbour many years ago. But this one was long and pointed, with no place for a quarrel to sit and no bowstring. He held it like the sailors had done, his finger searching for and finding the little lever underneath. Pointing it towards the dunes, he applied some pressure although with little expectation. * * * Joro waved sardonically to the Jem'Hadar ships as they vanished at warp speed. It was funny, he thought to himself, how things turn out. He’d made a pretty decent amount of latinum running guns for the Bajoran underground during the Occupation, and now here he was smuggling disruptor rifles for the growing Cardassian resistance movement. Or rather he had been smuggling rifles before the Jem’Hadar had shown up and made him dump the crate. Joro waited a decent interval after the Attack Ships had departed before activating the homing beacon, muttering under his breath when the scanners revealed the weapons had ended up on an M-class planet with a pre-warp civilisation. “Great, that’s all I need. I guess I’d better go find them before they do any damage.” With a sigh he swung his little ship around and engaged the engines. * * * The beam of light was brighter than the suns. The sound as it struck the sand dune deafening. Ashom stayed rooted to the spot for what felt like an age as the distant echoes rolled over the sea and the after-images faded from his eyes. Slowly he lowered his gaze to the object in his hands - truly this was a gift from the old powers indeed! A smile spread over Ashom's face, the powers had shown him the way. It was time to save his followers from those heretics in the town, show them the true power of the elements. this time he wouldn't be the one running in fear. He wondered how Thorm's grin would look as he burned down her church and her house. And maybe the houses of a few stone-thrower's, too. With them inside. Ashom's smile grew as he began to walk through the sand, away from the sea, back towards the town.
  22. kvdbreem

    MAY/JUN The Yellow Envelope

    “...there is not the remotest possibility of dying of this sickness in the straightforward sense, or of this sickness ending in physical death. On the contrary, the torment of despair is precisely the inability to die.” --Soren Kierkegaard, “The Sickness Unto Death” Fengjian: These are people. We can't just reduce them to a bunch of cells in a pitri dish! Breeman: Look, if we want to remain sane while we do this we have to. We can't think of these people as people. They're machines that need to be fixed. --Lt. Kevin Breeman to Dr. Emma Fengjian during the aftermath of Operation Bright Star “There are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will.” --Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charon The pain in his teeth diminished with each passing day, the streaking embers outside whizzing by like parts of the man disappearing forever. His son. His hopes. Gone. The lines in the face that stares back from his reflection in the overhead canopy of the runabout hang there at the center of the rays of fleeting light. Alvin is dying. Alvin is coming alive. He's happy for Kevin, happy in that inexpressible way he has of being happy. Kevin's living the life he wanted, the life Alvin never understood. There was something knowing in Jan's face when they talked about taking part in the Federation rehabilitation program. She looked relieved. He stands a moment, stretches his legs. The kneecaps click a little and the tendons groan. “Computer.” It chirps. It's the voice of Kevin's world, a voice he made his son believe he hated. “Make the gravity like Earth again, please?” Chirping. His legs feel lighter now. A little pain is good for the soul. Tartaros Patri blinked. Solitary, day 42. She'd wanted it. They'd been were more than willing to give it to her. All she'd wanted had been a place to go and to let it all consume her once and for all. She never told them that of course, but she knew eventually she'd die from the inside. Her life was gone now. Darkness. Light. Compensation. Drive. Restraint. Structure. All gone. Words were all that remained after that [...] took everything from her. And all she'd been able to do in return was to kill her. So they'd put her in here, giving her only a bed and an insubstantial sheet. They hadn’t even given her clothes. After all, she could have strangled herself with the bra strap, she figured. The first two weeks had been the worst. Sometimes when she'd wake after another long, dreamless sleep she'd see Jesus at the end of her bed, a hole in his head, eyes drooping with sleeplessness. 'Why do you turn your back on me?' And the ghost would disappear again. Buddha sometimes sat at the end of the bed too, his hair falling in unkempt locks around his face. 'I can't fracking take any more of this!' In the end, she'd forced herself to stay awake for a week. Prophets came and visited her – men mostly. Their faces were scarred, chunks of rotting flesh hanging from their naked bodies. 'It had to go this way. The system hated us. All we've got left is this flesh and all it wants. Can you.... please?' They'd step toward her from out there, in the walls -- shapes behind an outside pattern growing clearer every day. And she'd cling to them, pull them inside her, hold onto their messages so tightly they died of strangulation. At the end of the last week she'd stared at her hands and seen the hazy flecks of dust, seen the crushed dried bones around her bed disappearing beneath the blurred kipple of life as it had been, propped up on vengeance against the enemy she'd forgotten, doctrines she'd squeezed from the soft, dying gasps of thousands of men. “I...” The vibration at the back of her throat had been a sensation she'd almost forgotten. “..hate...” She’d exhaled it into the bitter emptiness. And when her head had finally landed on the pillow she'd breathed one last yawning sound, her tongue falling back into the chasm of her mouth. “you.” The voices had stopped after that. Now she looked around her and the walls were bare. They'd been this way for more than two weeks now. There was no pattern, no design. Only Patri remained, the lone occupant of that singular mind that resided inside a solitary body somewhere in the void. Purgatory The air in the prison is dry. Voices echo through the cavernous interior. Life here is stable. Nobody likes that. Alvin's scared, not because he wouldn't grow to like it here but because it's unfamiliar. Life here is unforgiving blackness – bleak and formless. The port on Pamos was like all the others. News outlets served the usual. Romulus was gone. Hobus. The anchor was a calm man and Alvin tended to like him. Alvin sat in one of the waiting rooms with the man standing his 7-inch height on his lap. “Good morning, Mr. Breeman,” he said. “I see you're curious about the day's events.” Presently his footsteps echo through the occasional silence, clacks absorbed into the din of whispering that comes and goes in waves. The guards look back at him, fixtures adorning each cell. The walk to the prison on Pamos was like a walk into his past. The fields all around him were busy with work – the old kind of work. People used their hands, felt the ground like it was malleable clay beneath their feet. When they treated it well it bore them vegetables, beats, lettuce, trees. Better still, it tilled the workers just as much as they tilled it. The sun rose above them and occasionally a prisoner stood a moment to eye him. Was that face sincere? Reformed? “Good morning, Mr. Breeman.” The uniformed woman studies him briefly. “Hello,” Alvin says. “How was the flight? I know the parking here can be a bit of a challenge.” He nods and grunts. “Quiet. I don't fly too often.” She nods briefly, a smile on her lips, eyes staring out at him from behind an institution. “Did you get a chance to read the files I sent you?” He read them during the flight, while the stars streaked outside. Inside he read about the girl who'd turned to her life of crime. She was a rehabilitated woman now. He read about her immaturity, her uncultivated life, and her brain. “I did. Do you need me to sign anything?” “No.” She purses her lips a little and says, “Your being here demonstrates that you understand you are to take her into custody as a citizen of the United Federation of Planets and as a person whose short-term goals are to be directed toward the betterment of society.” Heavy words. Alvin nods and they walk a little ways into a much quieter area. There's a hiss and he turns to see a thick door closing behind them. Printed in red across the large white blast door are the words “SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.” Eurydice Patri blinked. Something had woken her. The rhythm was all wrong. Her body was telling her it wasn't time yet. Something glowed a soft white, flickering in the periphery of her consciousness. She sat up, the covers falling away from her body. Beeping. It emanated through the room, jogging her memory of what it was that had interrupted her sleep in the first place. “We had to deprive her of anything she might use to harm herself.” It was an explanation, but more than that, a professional opinion – one Patri agreed with. It was hard to look back and see what it had been like. The kipple was gone and all that was left were waning memories, pillars of dust that faded into the winds of a changing mind. The light was brighter now, a definite form like the frame of a picture. Within its bounds stood a man and a woman, silhouettes sculpted out of the the receding darkness. Now she understood. Orpheus Alvin eyes the young woman. There's something weary in her naked form, not quite sure of itself. Jan never looked like this. She always had a confidence that simultaneously frightened and excited him. Maybe it's that insecurity that prevents him from being attracted to Patri. Maybe it's the unkempt hair or the squinting eyes. Or maybe it's just Jan. “We've been monitoring your neurological activity, Patricia.” The voice cracks through the whispering memories. “You've come a long way.” The woman in the bed sits up even more and swings her legs over the side. Divorce When Patri entered the runabout and looked at the wall panels she felt something peculiar. Nothing. All about her were the patterns and the chaos of systems exchanging countless terraquads of data. And yet she couldn't feel one bit of it. She sat down and soon they cleared the atmosphere and went to warp. She could feel the old behavioral patterns in her mind, expectations of rich streams of data, dread at the need to enter into another of her meditative states to keep the noise at bay. The thoughts fluttered a little, scurrying this way and that, and slowly died as the stars outside flew by. They were at warp and she didn't feel a thing. Seated next to her was the man whose name was Alvin. He looked to be in his mid fifties. Patri tried to start a conversation. “Are you a veteran, sir?” “No.” He smiled a bit. It looked forced. But why? “Well... whatever happened to you you don't look too bad.” This time Alvin laughed. “What do you think happened to me?” “Um... It's just your face... and your hands. They look so... beat up and stuff.” She felt something new. Her face tingled a bit and she began to see a reflection of herself in her mind, a picture from Alvin's eyes. Alvin was hurt. He was offended, maybe. The picture seemed to come out of nowhere, within herself. “I spend a lot of time outside working around the house,” Alvin said. “Maybe that's why.” Consummation It's been three weeks since they returned to Earth. His toothache is back again. It's the [...]ed Ontario heat and humidity. The evenings are cooler, easier on the body. Alvin stares across the fire into the faces of the two women. Jan looks back at him, taking her eyes off the flames and locking them to his. She has that half-professional, half maternal look she's had since Patri first arrived and Alvin wonders if he himself doesn't look a little paternal. Patri is looking down into the fire. Her face is calm, her eyes betraying something of a quiet confidence as the shadows dance across her face. Jan looks back into the flames a moment. Each of them lasts only a fraction of a second, a theme and a pattern, pure, self-contained. And then it's gone, like a yellowing image ending of its own accord and freeing the thought trapped inside. Her lips briefly twist into a smile. Alvin has something in his life again, someone to sire and to teach. To father. Alvin reaches into his pocket, grabs the tiny envelope. Jan tilts her head a little. “What's that?” He remembers the last thing the woman in the prison said to him, after Patri stepped inside the borrowed runabout. “Oh, Alvin. If Patricia should ever... you know..” She handed him the small yellow envelope and when he looked inside it he saw three tiny insects. They seemed dead. “What am I supposed to do with these?” “Well if she gets out of hand just open that envelope and put it out somewhere where the...contents can escape. They'll do the rest.” Alvin runs his thumbs over the envelope, feels the three hard objects inside the yellow paper. He tosses it into the fire and watches it burn. It twists into countless glowing flecks, freeing the three tiny embers to join all the others in the blaze. “Just an old s[...] of paper that was lying around,” he says.
  23. Tal Tel-ar

    MAY/JUN To Float in Space?

    William shivered and rubbed his arms. It was getting colder. A lot colder. He hated the cold. He had always hated the cold. Every since he was a little kid and had fallen through the ice back at his grandfathers place in Scotland. Give him a nice beach with warm sands and hot women. For a moment he let the image sweep him away. Unfortunately the cold quickly brought him back. If he did not get some heat soon he was going to freeze as solid as a rock long before anyone found him. He stood and did a few jumping jacks to get the blood moving, then wrapped his hands around his mouth and blew a couple deep breaths into them. It helped a little. They still felt stiff and he was worried about the slight tingling sensation he was starting to feel in his fingers, toes and nose. For a moment he felt a tinge of panic threaten to take control. No. he had to stay in control. He had to keep it together. His only hope was to use his head. If he let his fear take over he was a gonner. He took a few deep breaths. The cold air felt harsh against his throat but it worked. He settled down. Calmer, more able to think practically than he had been able to since the shuttle had shuddered and lost power. He took a couple more deep breaths. No matter how hard he tried he could not think of any other way to save himself. His only chance was if he could reroute some power and for that he would have to crawl back into the freezing air inside the access hatch. Well no point in putting it off any longer. He squatted down beside the open access hatch and reached inside. The warp engine seemed to be totalled. He had already given up hope of ever getting any juice out of it. But the 2 impulse engines seemed to be ok. What ever had destroyed his warp engine had totalled the power relays for the impulse engines as well. If he could just find some way to bridge the gap he would have power again he was sure of it. Maybe not enough to fly the shuttle but hopefully enough to survive. Problem was that in order to try and fix the problem he had to dismantle a number of fairly complex power relays, conduits and what looked like the main computer core. So far he was about half way through. In normal conditions this would not be that hard a job. Unfortunately floating dead in space was not what you could call normal conditions. Added to that was the fact that by removing the access hatch so that he could work on the problem had let a lot of the heat bleed off and now the bitter cold of deep space was slowly creeping in. He crawled out pulling a large section of electronic equipment with him. For a second he was afraid it was to big to fit through the access hatch. It took a little force and one real good whack with the spanner but he managed to get it free. William then shoved it over to the side out of the way before he stood up again. He had to be careful. If he did not take regular breaks to move around he would run the risk of freezing. He paced back and forth, swinging his arms, wriggling his toes and flexing his fingers. After a few minutes he blew on his hands again and then got down and crawled into the open hatch. This time he had enough room that he could just barely reach the damaged power relays. ******* Cursing William yanked his hand back and quickly wriggled back out of the hatch. His hand was stinging like crazy and he sure did not like the looks of it. As soon as he was out of the hatch he reached for the medical kit and fumbled for the latch. This was harder to do with one hand than he would have thought. Still it finally popped open and he reached inside. For a second he could not remember what to do. That worried him. Not only had he just made a stupid rookie mistake and burned himself by forgetting to engage the locking device before exposing an active plasma relay, but he was having trouble remembering how to treat such a burn. Think man. Your [...] life depends on this. In frustration he yanked out a hypo and injected himself with 5 cc’s of adrenalin. He had to get his mind working right or he was a dead man. He felt a sudden rush, followed a few seconds later by a faint feeling of warmth creeping along his limbs. It wasn’t much but it was enough to jog him memory. He could now remember his third year emergency medical training from the Academy. More by memory and almost on autopilot he treated his hand. Hopefully it was not as bad as it looked. Then again if he did not get some power soon it would be the least of his problems. Finally finished he knew he had to take a break. He needed some rest. That and some food and water. He was starting to run on empty and considering the amount of work he had left to do he needed to be mentally sharp or he did not stand a chance of rerouting power back into the vital systems he would need to survive. He rolled over closer to the hatch and struggled to shift the access panel back into place. If he could manage to seal it shut he could slow down the creeping cold. Hopefully between that and the emergency survival gear stored under the passenger seats he would be able to survive long enough to get some sleep and replace his dwindling energy. Finally he managed to get the panel into place but he had to hold it in place with his injured hand and forehead. Even with that he skinned his knuckles sealing it shut again. He just lay there, exhausted. He could feel his eye’s start to droop as sleep fought to claim him. With a sudden surge of energy he forced himself to sit up. If he fell asleep now he would probably never wake up. He slapped his own face to try and get his mind working. It hurt like heck but it seemed to help a little. After a few moments he crawled over to where the emergency supplies were. Opening the first case he took out the mini heating device. Then he set it on the floor and secured it in place before he activated it. He was tempted to put it on high but knew that would burn out it’s power in no time. On low it would be good for close to 48 hours. Besides with the hatch closed he should not lose any of the heat it was putting out. Moving into a sitting position he leaned over it, rubbing his hands as the heat slowly reached out with tentative fingers to caress his hands and face. Bit by bit he could feel the warmth slowly seeping into his body. After a bit he reached over and grabbed some survival rations. He activated the heating element in the silver food container. It started to get warm to the touch. Then he waited till he heard the slight ping that meant it was ready. He could already feel his mouth starting to salivate at the thought of hot food. Strange considering he had eating a full meal this morning before setting out on this trip. Still he was looking forward to chowing down as he ripped the package open. The smell was the first thing to hit him. That and a gentle waft of steam. His stomach churned. Salisbury Steak. Why did it have to be that. It was by far his least favourite pre-packaged survival meal. With a grimace he picked up the spoon that came with it and started to eat. He made a mental note to check the emergency gear anytime he got into a shuttle. No way was he ever going to get stranded with Salisbury Steak again if he could help it. It took him a while to eat, not just because he hated the taste of the stuff. I mean really, Salisbury Steak. It tasted more like boiled shoe leather with some weird fungal growth mashed up into a liquid and poured over it. No it was not just the taste but the bone deep exhaustion he felt. So much of his bodies energy reserves had gone into keeping him warm that he was literally at the end of his rope. When he finished eating he shook out the thermal blanket and curled up on the floor next to the heater. Before he knew it he was asleep. *********** When he woke up he felt a little better. Not so groggy and as he lay there he thought about the work that still needed to be done if he was going to get enough power to survive. After a while he forced himself to get up and eat another ration pack. This time he checked it before heating it. Unfortunately every single ration pack was the same. More Salisbury Steak. Now he was sure. This was hell. No if ands or buts. This was definitely hell. He forced himself to finish the food. If it wasn’t for the extreme cold he would probably have just thrown it away but he needed the energy. Once he was done he moved over to the access hatch and released it. When he did a sudden breath of frigid cold air caressed his face. He was unsure but it seemed colder than it had earlier. He had to force himself to crawl back into the opening. It was like crawling into a freezer. Now more than anything he noticed the tight space around him. When he touched a bare piece of metal with his hand he jerked his hand back. A sudden image of ice all around him made his heart quicken. The freezing cold water was all around him. He started to panic, he wanted to thrash about but somehow he fought back. Forced himself to regain control. He was breathing raggedly, sweat dripped from his brow before freezing against his face. All he had to do was stay in control. He could see the damaged power relay. Once he fixed that he would be ok. It took a few more moments for him to steady himself. Then he picked up the spanner and reached towards the damaged power relay. It was gone. What… he sat up and looked around him. The shuttle was gone and he was not alone. Lt. Cmdr. Turner stood there with another one of his teachers and the room they appeared to be in was a holo deck. How? “Well done Cadet. You conquered your fear.” Said his teacher with a smile. Fear? Suddenly it all made sense. This had been a just another test. With that thought he started to get up. As he did he could not resist saying, “Boy am I glad that was just a test.” “Why?” asked the senior instructor. “Simple,” he replied with a smile. “Just the thought of having to eat another Salisbury Steak was almost more than I could bare.”
  24. AlexV

    MAY/JUN *WINNER* "Mazu's Flame"

    Mazu's Flame - Cmdr Della Vetri “That's it. Last bit of signal just dropped away.” Turning her attention from the swirling darkness on the viewscreen, Vel'na brushed a stray strand of her jewel-green hair away from her face as she looked toward the ship's electronics officer, who's own pale blue skin was bathed in the assorted colours of light from her console. “Already?” “There's a curl of the shell's gas drifting in behind us. It's not cutting us off from home completely, but it is between us and Control. Yet more confirmation that the stuff screws with transmissions as well as blocking light.” “Assuming there's any light out there to block...” The typically cynical tone of that comment had both females sharing a look of silent amusement before Vel'na shifted her attention to the source. “Tol, how exactly did you manage to get onto this mission with an attitude like that?” Smaller and more fragile of build than either of the other two, the male looked almost lost in his seat – which hadn't been designed for one of the Kerrian race's frailer sex – and that impression was only heightened by the slightly nervous look on his face as he found himself the target of his superior’s focus, though that didn't stop the somewhat defiant tone of his voice as he answered her. “Weren't you paying attention to the newsfeeds? With all the fuss the equality movement has been kicking up, Command wanted a male in on this. Turns out I was the only one crazy enough to volunteer.” And the fact you're sterile didn't hurt... After all, if you get killed, it's not like the race looses anything. It was a pretty cold assessment, but that didn't make it any less true. Sighing a little, she shook her head and settled back into her own seat. “Just because we've found no evidence of any kind of star or anything outside the shell doesn't mean they're not there, Tol. Nothing about our understanding of astrophysics tells us that the three suns we do know about have to be the only ones.” “True, but if there are other stars out there, why are they hidden? A four light-year clear area surrounded by dark gas that absorbs energy strikes a lot of people as just too much of a coincidence to be natural.” “If you start on religion again,” came Sa'len's dry comment from the electronics station, “I'm just going to ignore you.” Stopping herself from joining in, Vel'na concentrated instead on the readings of the helm systems in front of her. The pair of them had been acting like that since they'd met, and it wasn't hard to understand that they were doing it even more now as a reaction to how close they were to the shroud that – as far as anyone could prove – marked the edge of the universe. Hell, she was feeling an almost physical pressure from it herself. “Tol, if you can manage to concentrate, please tell me how the drive system is holding up.” Silence reigned for a few moments, then he answered her, sounding far more professional than he had before. “Intermix is stable, core holding steady. Whilst I can't tell you what would happen if we established a warp field this close to the shell, we're fully able to do so.” Nodding, she listened as Sa'len gave her own confirmation of the ship's readiness, then started them drifting a little closer to the shell, closing the gap slowly but steadily. Not that she could be totally certain how far away the dark gas was, what with the way it seemed to just swallow sensor scans with no apparent effort. She was relying on little more than visual reckoning and guess-work at this point, but had no intention of telling the two members of her crew that. Do I want to actually wonder what will happen if we drift in too far? The probes that tested it came back okay, but they weren't crewed... As she kept her eyes on the viewscreen, it took a second or so for what she was seeing to register – a faint, shimmering glow across the leading edge of the ship's prow. Pale pink, it was only a flicker or two to begin with, but it spread rapidly, gaining in intensity by the second. “Oh, that's not good... Tol! Give me as much drive power as you can – I think we might need it!” Fingers flying over the controls, she ordered the craft to turn, knowing full well that the kind of manoeuvre she was telling it to do would push it's agility to the limit. The problem was, nothing whatsoever was happening. “Sa'len, control's aren't responding. Tell me what's going on!” “It's system wide.” Tol cut in, sounding surprisingly calm, considering. As long as you ignored the tightness the betrayed just how much effort it was taking for him to sound like that. “Core just went offline, we're experiencing power drain in almost every system.” Nothing but a steady stream of cursing was coming from Sa'len, which told the story of how things were going at her end all too clearly. Knowing it wouldn't help things if she hassled for updates, Vel'na just stuck to trying to get some kind of response out of the controls as the eerie corona carried on spreading across the hull. * * * “Energised dark matter” is what the nerd herd are calling it. Not a particularly common thing to find, and certainly not in a gaseous cloud over a parsec and a half across at it's widest point. We're not getting that much data as yet, mostly due to the fact that it's being stubborn as hell about letting us learn about it, but we are getting some results, most of which tell us that the nova we were looking at a few light-years away is probably responsible for the excited state of the nebula on this side. It's taken a lot of work, and some creative application of signal filtering, but we've finally managed to get something from inside. Four major neutrino sources within the cloud, and figuring in the level of interference from the cloud itself, we're guessing they're somewhere in the order of full-blown stars. This, perhaps unsurprisingly, has the astrometrics team clamouring for a chance to get a probe in there. Not sure they realise that the cloud would likely kill a probe long before it got to where they want it – the energy levels in the cloud in this area would fry it's systems unless we added a proper shield generator to it... * * * Three days. Three full days since they'd lost both contact with home and most of the function of their ship, drifting deeper and deeper into the dark mass of the shell, only the shimmering glow that clung to the hull giving any form of clue that there was anything out there at all. It was cold now, as well. Heat had been leeching from their environment ever since the life support system had failed after the first day, and the air itself was becoming increasingly foul. It had proved a difficult task to balance just how active they should be to keep warm with how fast they were using up what breathable atmosphere they had left, but they'd managed it this far. We won't last all that much longer though. Not a thought she wanted in her head, but there was no way she was going to be able to ignore it. Breath frosting in the air in front of her, she shuffled along the corridor toward the engineering section. There was little real point in it, apart from the fact that moving helped keep her from feeling quite so cold, but she needed something to do, and running a visual check on the drives was as good a waste of a few minutes as anything else. She couldn't even really occupy herself with random conversation, as she was the only one awake right now... Even the short distance from the [...]pit had worn her out, the chill conspiring with the bad air to rob her of what little energy she could summon – but she still managed a smile when she looked through the hatchway to the drive section. She'd wondered just where Tol and Sa'len had gotten to, and now she knew. The warp core was dead, but it's mounting provided a nice enough little cubby-hole to crawl into, and she could see the pair of them in there, Sa'len's arms wrapped around the smaller male in a distinctly protective way that was very much at odds with the way she usually acted toward him. Figures... She always did tend to get cranky if anyone but her messed with him. Vel'na wasn't sure what, if anything, she should say about it to either of them. Given the fact that there was little apparent way they'd be getting back home, it seemed a little officious to point out to the pair that behaviour like that was against regs, fun as it might be to play with their heads for a little while. No. Not worth it. It would be too easy to provoke Sa'len into something rash by accident, and there was no reason at all to put extra pressure on Tol. Better to just let them be, and hope that they could keep each other as happy as possible in what time the three of them had left. Turning back toward the [...]pit, she started shuffling again, hands tucked tightly into her armpits as she went. The blanket she'd looted from one of the emergency kits helped a bit, draped as it was around her shoulders, but that wouldn't last forever, and did precisely nothing at all to help with the fact that she was also increasingly hungry. Problem was, eating used energy, and using energy used oxygen. “Screw it,” she muttered to herself, “I don't plan on dying hungry.” When she reached the [...]pit again, she dropped into her seat and reached down to the emergency kit that was propped up beside her. Grabbing a ration bar, she ripped it open with quiet determination, and with a general air of defiance toward the cosmos in general, took a bite and started chewing. Settling back in her seat, she watched the vibrant pink flames dancing on the outside of the ship, letting herself admit that the sight was really quite pretty, in a hypnotically ominous sort of way... * * * “Report.” The gravelly voice from behind him might have startled Cmdr Tori Jones if she wasn't thoroughly used to the fact that the Captain of the USS Galatea was incredibly good at showing up unannounced. Giving Doctor Kelwas a quick smile who's cause was safely behind her, she made sure it was gone from her face before turning to face the stocky Tellarite CO. “It looks like it was close, Captain, but all we seem to have gotten to them in time.” “And who are they?” Kelwas decided to field that one, though the Betazoid failed to bother with anything like looking up from his tricorder as he did so. “That will have to wait until they're conscious – which may not be for a while. Major levels of dehydration, borderline starvation, cold exposure and oxygen deprivation tend to have a detrimental effect on most people. I can tell you this, though – they're tough. Most humanoids would likely be a whole lot closer to dead than these three are.” With a grunt of acknowledgement, the Captain stalked a few paces closer to the trio of occupied biobeds. Frowning to himself, he studied the occupants for a few silent moments before turning back to his First Officer. “Their ship?” “Low-tech by our standards, but a solid design. Warp capable – barely – but quite obviously not intended for any kind of long trip. Engineering estimates that if it's systems weren't fried by the nebula, we'd be looking at something with the endurance of one of our shuttle-pods.” “Tactical systems?” “Zip. Polarised hull plating for navigational purposes, but the single most offensive thing it can do is ram someone.” “Which it very nearly did. If T'Mel didn't have such good reflexes, that ship of theirs would have ploughed right into us.” Tori deliberately didn't point out that putting the Luna-class ship so close to the nebula's edge had been done against her recommendation. Her boss knew that, and would no doubt point out his own failing in the report on this incident. He was like that... Instead, she chose a different topic to carry on with. “One thing they do have in abundance on their ship is sensors. Not great ones, but a lot of scanning capacity. I'd say the thing was designed for the same kind of job us the Galatea.” “Boldly going forth and looking for trouble?” “Not quite how I would have phrased it, Doc, but yes.” Only a faint twinkle in the Captain's eyes gave any hint that he appreciated Kelwas' comment, or Tori's dry response, but it was definitely there, at least until he looked back at the comatose figures they'd rescued from what had been shaping up to be a less than pleasant exit from life. Pretty much everything they knew or had been able to figure out suggested the most likely answer to what he was about to ask, but he did it anyway. “So where did they come from?” There was no immediate reply, so he glanced in Tori's direction. As soon as he did so, he caught the look she was giving him, the one she usually reserved for times he was asking stupid questions but she was being polite enough not to say so out loud. With another grunt, this time managing to combine typical Tellarite irritability with a clear sense of pleasure at a new discovery, he turned and headed for the door, trusting his staff to keep him updated when anything changed. * * * Almost the first thing Vel'na was aware of was the fact she wasn't cold any more. Next came the ease with which she could breathe, though the air did seem to taste a bit wrong, and the presence of a low background hum that had been absent from her senses since her ship had died around her. She couldn't actually remember falling asleep – or slipping into unconsciousness, which was probably a better description – but it must have happened, and now she was awake again. Opening her eyes, she made a move to roll off of whatever it was she was lying on, only to come to a frozen halt as she saw the scene around her. Totally unfamiliar equipment, laid out in an equally alien configuration was only the start. From where she lay, she could see at least four figures moving about, their strange attire nowhere near as disturbing as the fact that every single one of them looked.... wrong. She couldn't help the gasp of surprise that escaped her lips, and the sound obviously alerted the strange beings to the fact that she was awake, as two of them started moving her way. Backing off as best she could, she nearly scooted right off of the edge of the bed she was on, with only a quick move from one of the beings saving her from a violent trip to the floor. About the only thing about his appearance – and it was definitely a 'him' – that wasn't wrong were the pointed ears, and even the casual strength with which he moved her back into a less precarious position was nothing like she could have expected. Looking around wildly, she managed to spot Tol and Sa'len laid on beds nearby, and she made a sudden scramble in their direction, only to be pulled up short by a gently insistent hand holding her in place. “Don't worry, they're fine.” That came from the other male that had approached her, earning him an exceptionally suspicious look. This one didn't even have the right shaped ears that the other did, and his skin was a paler, more pinkish colour than that of a Kerrian. Combined with the rest of the evidence her senses were throwing at her, she only had one real conclusion she could draw. “You're aliens.” The accusing tone of her voice was met with a smile and cheerful nod of agreement, followed by a gesture that had the one holding her backing off a little, though he remained close by, lurking in the kind of way she'd encountered mostly in soldiers and guards. Frowning at him, she tried to figure out if the fact that his clothing had a yellowish trim to it meant anything, given that the other one's outfit had a bluer shade instead. “That we are, yes.” the one who had spoken before said, “From your perspective, at least. And lucky for you, too. If we hadn't been here, chances are all three of you would currently be arriving in whatever afterlife your people happen to believe in.” “So where are we?” Opening his mouth to answer, the male stopped instead, looking over toward the doorway that was now sliding closed behind a squat, hairy individual who met her confused gaze with a level one of her own before straightening into a more formal pose as he came to a halt. “You are aboard the Federation starship Galatea, madam. I am Captain Terek, commander of this vessel, the man who's crew saved your life, and the one who gets the distinct pleasure of welcoming you to a much, much bigger galaxy.”
  25. Tressa

    MAY/JUN "Internal Flames"

    He was working at the desk; always working, he would not rest, would not stop. Not until he knew how to destroy them. There had to be a way, you just had to find their weakness; and find it he would. A bead of sweat rolled down his aged face as he leaned closer to the simulation he was running. The flames of time had stolen his once youthful looks. So many days and years locked away in the lab that had become his home. His life had passed so quickly; a constant stream of sequences, DNA, simulations, profiles… but he would have his revenge… oh yes… Time had changed his home, his life, his looks… but it did nothing to extinguish the rage that burned stronger with every failure. Every day was another reminder of what he had lost, and what he would never have again. The memory seared into his mind’s eye. He would not forget, he would not forgive; his need to unleash punishment, the sheer desire to retaliate against those who had taken so much… it fueled his rage; burning deep within him, coursing through his veins and burning away at his core. Tension. His eyes narrowed as the analysis appeared on his screen… another failure… For a moment there was nothing; before a sudden roar of frustration. The fire within him exploded, setting his senses ablaze with a fury that was all too common in the confines of the lab. In a swift well rehearsed movement he swept the PADDs and vials from the desk, they clattered, broke, shattered upon the ground, but remained unnoticed by him as he turned his rage upon unseen enemies. Items were thrown, glass smashed, shards scattered across the every surface, the inferno continued until he had spent his energy. He collapsed in the middle of his rage, his anger nothing more than simmering ambers until the next episode that would fuel the flames of what so many called his madness. From his position in the wreckage his tired, old eyes drifted towards the tiny holographic image which continued to play. The circular projector was always kept clean, and running perfectly. On her circular stage, the image of a young woman danced and laughed silently, beconing to an unseen individual to join her in the fesitivity of her dance. ((Flashback)) "Dartris! Come dance with me!", she laughed and twirled in front of him. Dispite everything the young man laughed as well, and stepped over to the woman, wrapping her in his arms. His eyes though tired sparkled with a love that radiated from his very core. Through everything she kept smiling. The constant running and fear that their species had to endure on a constant basis. They were clever, they kept one step ahead of their pursuers, but in their hearts, they knew their time was running out. And yet she smiled. And yet she danced. "My Farrah", he chuckled as he kissed her lightly on her forehead. She smiled at him, and for a moment, they could forget where they were, and the future that awaited them. For a second in time they were truely happy together... and then the warning claxon. It pierced the moment, and though they looked around in fear, they knew what was happening... what was going to happen. As soon as the claxon started it stopped, and the words they knew and feared blared through the com system. "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile". He swore under his breath in the many languages he knew, "What happened to the plan?!" "It failed!" A man ran into the room, sweat pouring down his face, "A federation ship intervened, we need to evacuate now! Get to the escape pods!" He tightened his grip on her as the colour drained from his face. Their last chance to survive was ruied, and now they had to abadon the vesselt aht had carried them this far. "Dartris, we need your help to spread the word, there's no escape this time!" "No", He held her close, turning his gaze to hers, "I'm not leaving you!" "Dartris!" The man stepped forward ad pulled him away from her, "Go", she smiled at him, trying to be strong, trying to hide the fear and the tears in her eyes, "They need you, I'll see you again" "I love you" "I love you too" ((Flashback Ends)) It was the last time he saw her as his Farrah and the last time she saw him as her love. They stole her... they... There were days when it thought it would have been best if she had just died... those days he cried. Cried for the thoughts in his mind, for the family they had planned for, for the love he lost... she was everything... And they TOOK her! They STOLE her from HIM! They ruined her life, ruined the beautiful woman that was! Her smile, her laugh, the brightness in her eyes when she looked at him... it was GONE, DESTROYED! The fire rekindled, his body alive with the heat, the burning! He punched at a piece of glass under him ad it cracked under the pressure. Standing he turned to the desk, where the PADDs, research and vials had rearranged themselves neatly on the desk as though by some unseen force. The broken shards and machinery from the first dissapeared slowly growing transparent until they no longer existed. He was working at the desk; always working... He did not notice the transparency to his own skin, or how the world was disjointed from him... he was working... ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- "So this is the place?" A man appeared by what remained of the crumbled door. He brushed a cobweb away with a hand and looked around at the empty dust covered lab. "Yep, this is it." A second man had appeared and cast his eyes around the gloom. "So any particular way you want me to do it it?" "Not really, just a safe demolition. We need the foundations ready in a few months, so quick is good." The second man chuckled. "Quick it will be! I can see why you want it out of the way though; what a dump." The first stepped over and brushed away some dust from various vials, anda broken projector. "You said someone use to live here?", he laughed at the obsurdity of the idea. "Yeah. Some guy lived his whole life here. Word was he lost his fiancee to the Borg", he shuddered at the name, "Spent his life trying to find a way to stop them, get revenge as it were..." "And failed?" "Apparently." "So what happened to him?" "I think he died in a fire. The whole place just went up on night. By the time anyone got here it was too late. No one could get in. " The second cast a puzzled look to his companion, "You think he died?" "Well, no one ever found his.. errr... remains. Possible they just got burnt too badly though." The man chuckled, though the motion was quickly cut short by a shattering of glass on the far side of the room. The tow men froze and stared in the direction of the noise before turning their eyes back to each other. "Rodents..." A nevous smile followed the uncertain statement. "Yeah... rodents..." The men shared anther look, before hastily exiting the room and the building in which it sat. Discussions of the plan they had for the forgotten room floated along the path, but no one heard them. ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- He was working at the desk; always working... He would not rest... Would not stop...
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