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Chen

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  1. I just tried the link to the main website for the Writing Challenge page and it didn't work for me, so just in case it's broken for anyone else here's a vague summary from what I remember... You're writing something trek based, but it does not have to be based on your main character for the SB118 groups. It could be your main character if you wanted it to, or any of your PNPCs, or it could be a completely different character that you made up purely to fit the topic, such as an Orion Pirate, a Ferengi female recently freed from oppression, or a green Ensign starting his first assignment on the original Enterprise. The sky's the limit as far as imagination is concerned, and I'd advise a quick browse through some of the more recent stories if you feel like you need more guidance. Also, it's worth mentioning that as far as "trek-based" goes, remember the show covers nearly every genre you can think of, from sci-fi adventure to historical political, to horror, to romance. The word limit is around 3,000 words. This is so that the judges don't need to give up a week to write up feedback and decide a winner! Although if your story is 3,004 words you won't likely be disqualified, just aim for around there. On the old forum we used to mark posts with a right arrow icon to show that they were ready as a final submission. I haven't figured out if we can do that on this beautiful, brand-spanking new forum yet, so don't worry too much about it. We'll read all new submissions before the closing date. It might be helpful to include (Jul-Aug) somewhere in your post's subject though, as I don't have admin privileges to delete the old entries. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me by PM! Tallis
  2. Hi everyone. It's time we got this show on the road! As a reminder, Thomas Gregory was the winner of our May/June competition, and he has decided on this topic: “Universal Rights” - On December 10th, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. - What does the future have in store for us when it comes to ‘Universal Rights’ in your minds? This looks like an excellent topic choice, and I'm sure that there's a lot for people to get their teeth into, across all eras of the Star Trek franchise. The closing date for this round's entries is Friday, 27th August. Remember that final submissions need to be marked with an arrow to be considered. Good luck all, and the team is looking forward to seeing your entries! -Tallis
  3. Apologies for the considerable delay. Some of the usual Writing Challenge organizers have been having trouble accessing the forum and/or have been tied up in real life issues. Results for the May/June round follow. As there were only few entrants, the decision has been made only to declare a winner on this occasion. First, the reviews as submitted by the Writing Challenge judges. The Circle By Thomas Gregory Review by Tallis Rhul For me, one of the things that flags up a good story is the inclusion of sentences that are memorable in some way. It’s either because they are a clever twist on something else, or because they have a striking emotional impact. There were several instances of such a sentence in this story. “Like star crossed lovers their story was each other”, and “Ryan, we’re already married” are two that leap out in particular. In fact, the concept of the whole piece is very cleverly thought out, and contains a wonderful degree of ambiguity. Is the runabout crash actually reality, or is the Miranda after all? Reading as we do from Ryan’s perspective there’s just no way to tell. This was a thought-provoking read, and I particularly enjoyed the character characterisation, which was executed most effectively through the use of dialogue. You also used structure to good effect; the runabout scene was used at the beginning and end to neatly tie the story together. Redemption By Tel Tal-ar Review by Toni Turner Over the time I've been judging the Writing Challenges, one thing has remained consistent in Tal Tel-ar's stories ... Action. And true to form, he has delivered another action packed story that takes your adrenaline levels higher simply by reading his well-crafted words. His lead-in back story sets the stage, making you feel the pain suffered, and realizing the long battle back to recovery, then BAM!... You're wheeled into a fast paced zig-zagged race for your life. Few writers have the finesse to accomplish the rush of excitement that Tel creates, and he's getting better and better at putting the reader right smack dab in the middle of the conflict. "Redemption" is by far his best effort. Bring it on, Tal! And so... the moment you've been waiting for: this month's winner is... Thomas Gregory's "The Circle" I'll be contacting Mr. Gregory as soon as possible to ask for a topic for next round, and watch this space for the subject to be posted. I don't have the Mighty Hammer of Mjolnir, or whatever else the powers that be use to sticky topics, so I may have to pull some strings behind the scenes to beg a favour from people I know! In the meantime, we're all looking forward to next round - please spread the word aboard your ships. I for one really enjoy reading the submissions when the time rolls around, and I know that the judging team aren't the only people who enjoy it! Until next time, sayonara!
  4. ((Holodeck 1)) ::With Commander Frazier's blessing, Tallis had left the anniversary gathering with Lieutenant Lawn to continue working on the EOSA simulation. The trip through the ship had been quiet, and other than small talk he hadn't conversed much with Jesse on the turbolift ride down to the holodeck. As soon as the doors whirred shut behind them, Tallis got the simulation up and running.:: Tallis: Computer, open EOSA simulation along with operating parameter file. ::An acknowledging chime heralded the arrival of a change of surroundings, and a compact bridge with consoles that closely resembled those found on an old NX-class ship could be seen.:: Lawn: ::enthusiastically:: Wow! Just look at this bridge. Tallis: Don't get excited yet, none of these things work! ::He patted one of them as if it were a pet.:: They may look nice, but shuffling the bridge controls around was the easy part.:: Come take a look at this. ::He indicated the helm console.:: Lawn: Not the largest work station, is it? Tallis: It's a bit more cramped than the Challenger but it's... a functional design. It seems like the Captain was the only one who got any leg room on these ships. Lawn: ::jokingly:: Always gotta’ take care of the skipper. :: taking a closer look at the details of the simulation :: You,ve really done great job here, lieutenant. It appears as though there are still a few features that are not fully programmed in yet, but the overall program is remarkable. Tallis: Yeah, we still have a way to go. I think Helm will be relatively easy, I've written holoprograms for things as early as 20th century aircraft before. It's things like their scanners, main computer and power grid that will be tricky. It's tough to get the right balance without making everything unrealistically useless. ::He indicated the Science console, which had a visual interface a little like a microscope.:: This, for example, has been annoying me since we started. Lawn: ::trying not to look overly perplexed:: What is it, exactly? Tallis: It's the telescope attachment, or whatever the hell they called it back then. I don't understand why the Science Officer didn't get a normal display like everyone else. Plus there's the fact that it's so compact. This was a battleship, there wasn't much need for a Science station, so they just made it tiny. Lawn: Perhaps we should bring in one of our current science officers to give us some insight. I’m sure they would have a more thorough knowledge of this type of interface than either you or I. Tallis: Not a bad plan, I'll see if Lieutenant Ethelwin or Commander Dickens can help out tomorrow. Lawn: Great. So where would you like me to get started, LT? Tallis: OK, why don't you see how much of the armoury console you can hook up? You can get the specs from the computer. Lawn: No problem, I’m on it. ::Jesse retrieved his hand held computer pad from inside his jacket pocket. He dutifully began to enter commands into the device as he walked over to the armoury console:: ::Tallis hadn't really calmed down any, and was hoping his all-business approach was masking it somewhat. He hoped his friend wouldn't be able to tell.:: Tallis: I'll get started on the Comm station. You would have thought they'd route it through Ops like us, but they have all sorts on it. Bio-scanners, back-up Science displays... you name it. ::He got to work, disappearing under an open panel at the bottom of the console.:: Lawn: ::in jest:: How’s your claustrophobic working environment suit you? ::hearing a bunch of clunking and muttered curses:: Everything alright down there? ::It was difficult to see the intricacies of the console's mechanisms in shadow, but there was no way to remove any more of the panel without physically sawing it off. While trying to recouple one of the power coils Tallis soon found that removing it wouldn't be easy.:: Tallis: [...] thing... no wonder these ships ended up floating adrift when they made them so hard to fix... ::Squirming around, trying to pull out the component it must have looked like he was trying to escape a Ceti Eel or having a violent muscular spasm.:: Lawn: ::chuckling:: Tallis, you need a hand? Tallis: ::Faintly hearing Lawn chuckling.:: It's fine! I think I've got it... I just need to... ::Sparks flew out from underneath the console, followed by black smoke, which poured in thick billows from the thin gaps in the metal casing. Coughing and spluttering, the Bajoran pushed his way out of his crawlspace and sat a little too quickly, violently banging his forehead on the opening. He didn't cry out, but he did rise to his feet, his face set into a tight snarl. Raising his arms above his head, he brought both fists down onto the console hard, cracking the plexiglass that covered the display. Lawn looked a little shocked, but not overly so.:: Lawn: ::trying not laugh:: LT…you seem a bit flustered. :: taking a more serious tone:: I know rigging that console is a frustrating chore, but are you sure there’s not something else bothering you? I wouldn’t press you to talk about something you really don’t want to…but you don’t typically throw your work station a beatin’ . Tallis: I do when it's this [...] frustrating... ::aggressively:: I only wish I had a hyper-spanner so I could clobber it a bit more. Lawn: You seemed a little out of sorts at the party too. I’m concerned about you, that’s all. If you want to talk… Tallis: ::Whirling round a bit faster than he meant to.:: It's Tel-ar, and his god-daughter. Let me give you a piece of advice. Don't dance with anyone at a party, not even if you see it as innocent, because otherwise you just end up in over your head. Lawn: ::crossing his arms and leaning back against the nearest console:: Ahhhhhh…I see. Tallis: ::Taking a deep breath, aware he was berating Jesse for something that wasn't his fault.:: Sorry, this is just so... annoying. Computer, repair damage to communications console. ::The computer added a conciliatory beep to the situation before repairing the glass. Tallis leaned back on the console and rubbed his forehead, smearing holographic soot over it without realising.:: Tallis: Ordinarily if I had a problem with someone I'd just march right up to their quarters, hammer the door chime until they answered and thrash it out there and then. It's not pretty, but it works, and it's never once failed to get whatever problem I was having to a resolution one way or another. And by resolution I mean either things ended up back to normal or me and whoever it was just stopped speaking. Lawn: Well, that’s certainly one way to manage conflict. Tallis: I guess it's not the best way, but it works for me. Last night I would have loved to march up to Tel-ar's quarters and do the same, but it's just not that easy. Lawn: ::rubbing his beard thoughtfully:: So, you want to tell the Commander what’s on your mind, but you’re concerned that he’ll get bent and that potential conflict will affect your recently upgraded professional situation…right? Tallis: For one thing, yes. I worked hard to get where I am, and I don't think Commander Frazier's one to give out promotions without people earning them. The ironic thing is I know that as my department head Commander Tel-ar will have had a hand in it too. That makes me feel ungrateful. But d'you want to know the worst part about it? Lawn: Tell me. ::Tallis became aware that he hadn't exactly explained what "it" was...:: Tallis: It's that I know he didn't even do it on purpose. So here I am, ready to pop like overripe kava fruit, and I don't have any way of letting off steam. Lawn: Your response sounds to me like this is a female issue, not a Tal-ar issue. You want to start at the beginning? Tallis: He came into the Ops office yesterday, right before I started working on the simulation. He said that Annie had taken an interest in "things Bajoran", and I was a little apprehensive. We talked about what exactly he meant, and he kept giving me advice on how to handle women. It's the most open I've seen him since I joined the crew, which in a way was good because if nothing else it shows we've built up a decent working relationship. The moral of the story was that I mentioned I was worried about how young Annie is, and that I didn't want her to get the wrong idea. Lawn: ::nodding:: Uh-huh. She’s only like 15 or 16 right? Tallis: Exactly. She's not even old enough to get into the Academy yet. I know we're on a ship where there are wide and varied cultures, but back on Bajor people would be asking questions, believe me. Lawn: ::with a serious tone:: On Earth too my friend. Tallis: That evening, as I'm leaving the Holodeck, Annie marches up to me, grabs me and kisses me. ::He was gesticulating wildly now, his annoyance building again.:: Apparently it was supposed to prove how mature she is. When I realised what was going on I pushed her away, and then got a lecture about how I should seize the day before she went back to her quarters, utterly humiliated. And despite how angry I am about the whole thing, I felt sorry for her. Lawn: Well, I can totally understand why you would be out of sorts. You’ve been placed in a difficult situation. You’re a good guy, so it stands to reason that you’d be concerned about her feelings…but you did the right thing. She’s probably a wonderful person and she’s certainly a lovely young lady, but your discomfort with the age difference, not to mention the customs of your people, simply preclude the feasibility of that match. I can understand that you are experiencing some frustration, but why are you angry? Why are you upset at Tal? Tallis: Well, if Tel-ar hadn't said anything then we could have at least talked about it without her getting so up tight and feeling like she had to prove something. Lawn: ::smiling and patting Tallis on the arm:: She probably gave you the “lecture” as a defensive response. It sounds to me like she was justifying the whole thing to herself, not just to you. Her feelings were hurt. Don’t take that personal. She was just doing the best she could in a difficult moment. As for Tal, I really don’t think he meant for this to be such a traumatic experience for you. Rhul, Andorian’s are betrothed to their lifemates as children. They are introduced to their union as teens. Perhaps Tal didn’t stop to think that it’s very different for Bajorans. Tallis: ::Rubbing the back of his head.:: You're right, I shouldn't blame him. It's not like he walked in with the intention of putting me and his god-daughter in a position like the one we're in. Lawn: Perhaps not. However, If I were you, I’d take it as a compliment on two fronts…a beautiful young woman showed a romantic interest in you, and the First Officer of the flag ship had no objections to a man of your character spending time with his god-daughter. Tallis: Well, when you put it like that I guess I am taking quite the pessimistic view. I just can't believe that things were going so well and now I can't walk the corridors without second guessing myself. Lawn: Don’t worry. It will cool off. Honestly, I’d just give her some space. I don’t think there really needs to be a lot more discussion. Rejection is a rough thing. Believe me, I know! I wasn’t always happily married ya’ know. :: frowns, but quickly cracks a smile:: If Tal asks, tell him what’s on your mind…but you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. No one has. You don’t need to explain anything, justify anything, or confront anyone. ::Tallis walked round to the other side of the console, considering what Jesse had said and scratching the top of his head. He turned around before answering, and leaned forward on the recently repaired console, supporting his weight with both hands.:: Tallis: You know, it would have been really helpful if someone like you had been around on Bajor. Probably would have stopped me from getting into so many fights as a teenager. ::He looked down at the console and shook his head.:: I guess I have a bit of a tendency to get hot under the collar at times. Lawn: Hey, if you need to blow off some steam, we could start your C.Q.C. (close quartes combatives, aka: hand-to-hand) training. Kicking the [...] out of something always makes me feel better! Tallis: Now that does have its appeal. Though I don't think attacking an injured man would be looked upon kindly by the Prophets... Lawn: Injured man! ::laughs and jokingly taps Tallis on the arm:: I’ve just got battle scars. Are you worried? Tallis: Well, let's just say that I think I've given Nurse Tel-ar enough reason to be mad at me for the time being. Lawn: No worries LT. The offers always open. What do ya’ say we get some work done here, and then we’ll talk about combat training. You think you’re up for engaging this antique? ::snickering:: I promise, it won’t try to kiss you, though, there were sparks! Tallis: I'm glad to hear it! I don't like the sound of a mouthful of computer chips... but yeah, let's give it a try. ::Walking around the front of the console he stooped down to finish the job.:: Tallis: You might want to have a medkit on standby. That or an engineering kit for the console... TBC A joint post brought to you by Lieutenant Tallis Rhul Chief of Operations USS Challenger NCC-12886-A and Lieutenant (j.g.) Jesse Lawn HCO/Investigator USS Challenger NCC-12886-A
  5. ((Tal and Elina's Quarters, USS Challenger-A, 2030 hours)) ::Tal sat at the desk in his quarters. His attention glued to the view screen as he watched the vid play out. Tal had take the liberty to pull a few strings and had a large number of video files of Jesse in action sent to him from the Academy. He had spent a couple hours reviewing his moves and abilities.:: ::After watching them Tal had already made his decision and up dated the ships records to show that Lt. jg. Lawn would be instructing the hand to hand class`s from now on.:: ::Elina awoke, stretching a hand out and expecting to find Tal. It was then that she heard the faint sounds of fighting. The sounds were too hushed and far away for it to be an intruder. Nevertheless, she climbed quietly from the bed and dawned a silk robe over her nightgown, then grabbing the nearest heavy object. Cautiously, she entered into the living area, relieved to find Tal sitting in front of a monitor.:: Kincade Tel-ar: Ye're reviewing Jesse Lawn's personnel file? ::Tal turned to look up at her. As he did he found himself amazed as always that she was his.:: Tel-ar: Just reviewing his style and technique. Kincade Tel-ar: Is that allowed? Tel-ar: When I competed back at the Acadmey we use to review our opponents all the time. It was standard practice. ::Elina watched part of the video, surprised at the man's agility and ability. She figured the young Lieutenant J.G. Lawn could give her brothers a run for their money.:: Kincade Tel-ar: He's good. Tel-ar: He is very good. I have already approved his request to be the new hand to hand combat instructor. Kincade Tel-ar: Well, I certainly approve. He'll do well. ::Tal let a full smile brighten his features as he suddenly reached up with his long arms and pulled Elina down onto his lap. Once he had her there he let his hands wander while he kissed her passionately. Minutes passed and with great reluctance Tal finally stopped, lifting his head so that he could gaze down at her.:: ::As always he found himself drowning in her glorious blue eye's. Her cheeks seemed flushed and she was breathing ragged. For that matter Tal felt a little breathless himself.:: ::It amazed her how this man's kiss was always enough to scatter her wits.:: Kincade Tel-ar: ::huskily:: Dae we hae time fer... Tel-ar: Unfortunately No. I must meet him in the gym in 15 minutes. ::Elina resisted the urge to whine in disappointment. It really wasn't fair of him to kiss her like that and expect her not to want to take him to bed.:: Kincade Tel-ar: ::sighs:: All right. But be careful. Tel-ar: Do not worry. I will be careful. Kincade Tel-ar: ::pauses:: Are you sure that's a good idea with yer injuries? Tel-ar: The Doctors say I am back to full health, however I have not had the opportunity to test myself fully. By challenging Lt. jg Lawn to this fight I can more fully test my recovery in a safe manner. Kincade Tel-ar: Still, is it wise? Tel-ar: I would prefer to learn if they are wrong here in our gym as opposed to in actual combat when my life hangs in the balance. Kincade Tel-ar: When you put it that way I guess I can'na disagree. ::Tal kissed her again, a long gentle kiss that stirred fires deep within him. When he finished he gazed again deeply into her eyes.:: Tel-ar: Do not worry my love. I will be OK. ::Tal easily stood with her in his arms and then with a great deal of reluctance he gently set her down on the floor. Then with a whistful smile on his face he gave her one last gentle kiss while caressing her cheek.:: Tel-ar: I should go. I do not want to be late. Kincade Tel-ar: ::smiles:: Mah da had a saying...you're not late, everyone else is just early. Tel-ar: A wise man. Still I am the First Officer. I should set a good example. ::As he said it Tal let a smile appear on his features. Then he let her go and turned and left. He knew she would probally sneak down to watch. Unless he was saddly mistaken a large number of off duty officers would be doing the same thing.:: ((Lawn’s Quarters, 2030 hours)) :: Jesse quietly slipped past his wife as the kids played a board game on the floor. Heading over to his dresser he pulled out a black tight fitting rash guard, and a pair of combat training pants. As he began to undress, his wife peered around the corner:: Laura Lawn: Hey hon…whatcha’ up to? Lawn: Uhhh ::knowing he was about to be in trouble:: just getting ready to do some training with a colleague. Laura: Oh? Which colleague? Lawn: The First Officer actually. Laura: Commander Tal-ar?!!! The ANDORIAN? Lawn: Well, yes he is Andorian… Laura: What is it with you? Are you insane? I know you love to fight, but do you have to pick fights with non-human beings 10 times as strong as you…not to mention your commanding officer?!!!!! Lawn: Andorians are not 10 times as strong as humans, and I didn’t… Laura: Yeah, whatever… ::walking back into the living room more than a little annoyed:: You do whatever you want “Cadet” ::under her breath:: You always do anyways… :: Lawn finished pulling on his combat training pants. Reaching into the corner, he grabbed his tactical boots and slipped them on. After securing the straps of his boots he stood and faced the mirror :: Lawn oO Maybe I am out of my mind. Never have walked away from a match with an Andorian unscathed. ::cracks a smile:: This should be fun.Oo ::walking past his wife, he leans down and kisses the top of her head:: I’ll be home soon, dear. Laura: Not that I doubt your skill, as you always manage somehow, but try to come home in one piece, okay? Lawn: ::smirking at his wife:: You got it babe. Laura: Good luck. Oh, and Lawn…you better win. :: Nodding to his lovely bride, he stepped out into the corridor. The reality of his situation started to sink in. He began to focus his thoughts with visions of mauling the Andorian First Officer he respected so much. It had never been easy for him to fight people he liked…but then, he never turned down a good brawl either. With confident determination he strode into the turbolift. :: Lawn: Deck 10. ::As the turbolift sailed through the shaft, Jesse began to calm his breathing and relax his mind. Once the lift stopped, and the doors parted, Lawn could see the entry to the gym ahead. As calmly as he could he navigated the hall and tapped the command switch on the entry panel. As the doors opened before him, he saw the muscular First Officer stretching out.:: ((Gym – just before 2100 hours)) ::Tal walked into the Gym. As he had expected word had gotten around and a large number of off duty personnel had taken up space to watch and see what would happen. Tal walked over to where the extra large sparring mat that they used for such training was and started to do some light stretch's.:: ::Just then Lt. jg. Lawn entered the gym and walked over towards him.:: Tal-ar: Good evening Lt. jg. Lawn: Good evening, sir. :: Jesse casually walked over to the far corner and began to stretch out as well :: ::Tal watched as the younger man started to stretch and warm up. His steel gray eye`s taking in the relaxed, limber, quick movements. Obviously he felt confidant and considering what Tal had read in his file and seen in the vids he had every right to be.:: ::Tal allowed the ghost of a smile to appear on his face as he stripped off the shirt he was wearing. As he did he flexed his muscles, stretching and loosening them up. He knew what every one was looking at. Andorians were generally fit, Tal was the exception.:: ::Even after the long period of recovery from his back injury Tal knew what they were seeing. The Andorian version of one of those professional body builder types. Just not as massive and slow moveing.:: ::Finished with the intimidation part of the contest as well as the stretching Tal advanced towards the center of the mat.:: Tel-ar: Ready Lt. jg. Lawn. ::Tal asked as he looked down on the shorter man. He was interested in how Jesse would deal with the 8 inch height difference and the longer reach available to Tal thanks to his long muscular arms.:: Lawn: Oh, I’m ready sir. I live for this! I get the feeling, so do you. Tal-ar: I will admit to a certain amount of enjoyment from such encounters. Altho I prefer the more realistic combat training versions. Lawn: That works fine Commander. I figured as much. I didn’t even bother bringing safety gear. It’s not like you get any in a real hand-to-hand situation anyway. Since I’d like to train my crewmates for the real thing, I suppose it would be best for me to prove my skills to you on that level. Any rules? Tal-ar: Since we are both familiar with competetive earth rules for extreme combat simulations I would suggest that we use them. As for ending the match, since this is just for fun I would suggest that we use common sense and stop before either of us become injured. Is that acceptable to you Lt. jg. ? Lawn: Of course that’s acceptable, sir. Tal-ar: Excellent. ::Tal responded in his normal cool, unemotional tone.:: Lawn: ::finishing up his stretches:: I admit you surprised me a bit with this “challenge”, but I’m honored to engage you in battle, Commander. Your reputation precedes you sir. Tal-ar: As does yours Lt. jg. I truly enjoyed the vids of you in action. Especially your Jujitsu match against the Vulcan Sotel. A very close match considering the natural advantages he had over you. Too bad he won the trophy. ::Tal finished saying as he turned to walk towards the center of the training mat.:: :: The two Starfleet officers sauntered out into the middle of the matted room and faced off against each other. Each looking the other in the eye, they cautiously shook hands and then took a full step backward. A slight nod from Tal-ar began the match… Deliberately circling, Lawn stalked the towering blue officer, obviously looking for his opportunity to attack.:: ::Sensing a rhythm to Tal-ar’s movements, the lieutenant lunged forward in an attempt to clinch with the Andorian. With blinding speed and agilty, Tal-ar side stepped the incoming assault while seizing Lawn’s right arm. Using an Aikido “Shiho-Nage” four-corners throw, the First Officer spun 180 degrees, and flung Lawn upside-down into the nearest padded wall. Bouncing hard off of the bulkhead, Jesse met the floor with surprising grace as he performed a flawless roll that brought him back to his feet, once again.:: Lawn: oO Ooowwww! Oo ::Tal-ar decided to take advantage of the lieutenant’s defensive recovery, and launched an intense barrage of rapid hand strikes. Blinding blue blurs exploded in the helmsman’s face. Lawn had all he could do to parry them away as fast as they came. In the midst of the fray, a set of blue knuckles connected against the left orbital bone of the smaller officer, causing his head to snap backwards sharply.:: ::Realizing the angle of impact, Jesse used the recoiling motion of his upper body to drop beneath the powerful Andorian’s arms. Driving off from his legs, the little human tackled the First Officer with a wrestler’s double-leg takedown, slamming him squarely on his back. The Commander winced and made a slight groaning noise that resembled something between pain and frustration.:: Tal-ar: oO uhhh... Seems the Doctors may not have accurately assessed the full extent of my recovery. Oo ::Quickly scrambling into a cross-mounted position, the lieutenant positioned his body horizontally atop Tal-ar’s chest. Granting his superior no quarter, Lawn grabbed Tal’s antennae and began to dump heavy knee strikes into the stunned Andorian’s skull. The cunning first officer immediately pressed hard against the face of his mounted opponent.:: ::This action, coupled with the shooting pain from his now completely swollen shut left eye, caused the lieutenant to jerk his head away and release his grasp…opening up just enough space for Tal-ar to get a foot up on Jesse’s chest and cleanly shove him away.:: ::Falling harshly on his butt, Lawn hurriedly jumped to his feet. Shaking the cobwebs out, Tal rose to his feet as well. Seeing that Tal looked a little dazzed, Jesse rushed forward slamming a hammerfist square into the Andorians thoracic region. As his strike found its mark, Lawn felt his hand give way as two of his metacarpals clearly fractured against the bony surface.:: Lawn: oO [...] Andorian organ plates! Oo ::Commander Tal-ar quickly returned the favor, landing a solid right hook into Jesse’s gut. The devastating punch dropped Lawn to his knees. He could taste the vomit that had hurled up his esophagus. Gagging, he forced himself to swallow the foul stomach bile…determined not to puke in front of such a noted warrior.:: ::Springing back to his feet, the lieutenant kicked the inside of the Andorian’s knee. As the Commander bent forward out of shear autonomic response, Jesse grabbed the back of Tal’s head and plowed another knee flush into the Andorian’s jaw. To his credit, the Commander simply backed away and shook his head in a defiant gesture.:: Tal-ar: Interesting manouver. I take it that it works better against humans? Lawn: What? Have you got tritanium in there? Tal-ar: Something better. ::Smiles.:: Dense Andorian bones. ::In an explosive motion, Tal leapt into the air, unleashing a wicked crescent kick that narrowly missed Jesse’s head. As the Andorian’s body began to settle back to the deck, Lawn again closed for a clinch. Underhooking the inside of Tal’s thigh, Jesse lifted him high in the air with a Wrestling style single leg. At the apex of the lift, the lieutenant intentionally flopped himself to the mat, brutally slamming the Commander’s back against the floor once again.:: ::In one fluid motion, the Jujitsu master swung a leg over Tal’s face and hooked the near arm with a tombstone grasp, thus extending the Andorian’s arm in a straight armbar. As Jesse began to press his hip forward to apply pressure against the hyper extending elbow joint of the First Officer, the agile Commander scooted his hip out, rolled to his knees, and ripped his arm free of the hold...leaving Lawn vulnerable on his back. Now kneeling over his helmsman, Tal smashed a series of hammerfist strikes down at the aggressive little human. Several of the blows caught the lieutenant in the chest, and one landed firmly against the right maxillary ridge of his cheek, leaving an instant hematoma.:: ::In a desperate attempt to regain position, Lawn drew his legs under Tal-ar’s body and scissored them around the Andorian’s waist. In a calculated effort to snuff out Tal’s crushing strikes, Jesse grabbed the Commander’s arms and pulled him close in a tight upper body clinch. While this position may have looked weak, it’s actually a great place to pull off some sneaky Jujitsu attacks.:: ::Feeling Tal relax a little to catch his breath, the devious human ducked under Tal-ar’s right arm, and slid himself up onto the Commander’s back. Grapevining his legs like a pair of arm around Tal’s torso, Lawn snatched at the Andorian’s antennae again. Yanking up on them with a forceful pull, the lieutenant sunk in a rear choke. With his face pressed into the back of Tal’s neck, he inhaled the sweet smell of flowers.:: Lawn: oO Lucky Andorian’s! I probably smell like a waste conduit! Oo ::Squeezing with all of his might, Lawn suddenly realized why this was a futile attempt.:: Lawn: oO Andorian’s have four carotid arteries! [...]! Oo ::Not wanting to completely fatigue his already burning muscles, Jesse released his hold and hopped off the burly blue combatant like he was a burning plasma fire. Instantly, Tal-ar spun around and leapt to his feet.:: Tal-ar: I believe a remedial course in the differences between various species vulnerable zones may be in order Lt. jg. That is if you were attempting a manouver that would have normally incapasitated a human. ::This time, Tal rushed forward, body slamming Lawn into the wall. Tal could hear the last bits of breath knocked from the lieutenant’s lungs as Jesse’s back impacted against the matted bulkhead. Tactically disengaging from the close quarter’s clinch, Tal swung a wicked Muay Thai elbow that sliced through the air and caught Lawn across the frontal bone of his cranium. As the lieutenant’s brain sloshed around in his skull, a nasty gash opened up on his forehead. Blood ran freely from the wound, and crimson blood covered the elbow of the Andorian fighter. With a mighty shove, Tal-ar pushed Jesse to the floor.:: Tal-ar: We can call it quits if you would prefer to end this now? Lawn: It’s just a scratch…I’m just getting into this fight! ::Tal-ar smiled, nodded, shrugged and suddenly stomped at his downed opponent.. Lawn rolled out of the way just as the heavy calcaneous of the Andorian’s heel stamped a divot in the matted flooring. Using a Jujitsu style sweep, Jesse rapidly scissored the First Officer’s lead leg. Torquing him to the mat, Jesse ensnared Tal’s ankle in a heel hook and ripped hard against the small joint.:: ::Grotesque snapping and popping noises filled the gym, as Tal-ar yelped and tumbled to the floor. The Andorian’s opposite foot began to jackhammer into the lieutenant’s core, forcing him to abandon the hold he had on Tal-ar’s foot…but the damage was done. As Tal-ar tried to stand, he collapsed back to the ground. Carefully withdrawing himself from the range of Tal’s vicious strikes, Jesse crouched low on his aching quadriceps and faced his Commander.:: Lawn: ::worried:: How’s the knee and ankle, sir? Tal-ar: I believe that it would be wise for me to refrain from putting any weight on them. That is unless I wish to infuriate my personal nurse. Lawn: Completely understandable sir. Perhaps we should both take a brief trip to sick bay? Tel-ar: I am agreeable to that Lt. jg. Besides I already approved your position as the new hand to hand combat instructor an hour ago. Lawn: ::chuckling to himself:: Thank you Commander. :: quietly laughing and wiping a hot stream of blood and sweat from his face:: It looks like we have two choices. I can help you walk, and you can be my eyes…or we could just beam to sick bay and avoid the stares. Your call sir. I’m good either way. Tal-ar: In this case I believe beaming is both the logical as well as more efficent method of transport. Besides the corridors do not require a complete decontamination due to the loss of our bodily fluids. ::Tal said calmly as he waved over one of the junior officers standing near by.:: Lawn: ::grinning at his commanding officer:: That was fun…we’ll have to do this again sometime. Tal-ar: I agree Lt. jg. Maybe after the completion of this mission. ::Then Tal turned to where the junior officer stood and he reached out and activated his comms badge.:: Tel-ar: =/\= Transporter room 1. Lock onto my biosignature and that of Lt. jg. Lawn and beam them both directly to sickbay. =/\= Male: =/\= Understood sir. Lock on established, Transport in 3... 2... 1 =/\= ::As he finished speaking the 2 men shimmered and were beamed away.:: ******************** A Joint Post brought to you by PNPC - Laura Lawn Wife to Lt. jg. Jesse Lawn as simmed by Lt. jg. Jesse Lawn & Lt. jg. Jesse Lawn HCO Officer & Lt. Elina Kincade Nurse & Lt. Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar First Officer USS Challenger-A
  6. It had spread through the air filtration system like wildfire. She knew it had been a mistake to bring it aboard. The doctors had been the first victims, as after all, they had been the ones analysing it. How had there been any way to know what effect it would have had on them? It had seemed as though the analysis should have been straight forward, but this could not have been farther from the truth. Quickly, the crew had succumbed, one after another. After the doctors and medical personnel, the captain had quickly become affected, followed by most of the rest of the senior command staff. Perhaps it had been the briefing that he had called to try to solve the problem. They had already been fighting a losing battle. In the absence of medical personnel it had fallen to the scientists to take over. Despite one or two botanists or exobiologists amongst them, the science teams were ill-equipped to deal with a dilemma that involved such a degree of medical specialism. They had managed to arrive at the revelation that whatever it was had reached the air recycling systems only in time to realise that just one deck remained free of its control. Just one deck, out of eight. Teams had sealed off the area and begun to reroute the ship’s command functions to Main Engineering, which was at least a small mercy. That was cold comfort however in the knowledge that Life Support had to be taken offline as there was no quicker way to ensure that the crew’s final safe haven would not be corrupted. Lex Menar had not seen any of the Affected, as they had come to be known, firsthand, but she was spending her time in Main Engineering acting as the Senior Security Officer. The other security officers had been killed at the hands of the Affected or joined their ranks. All that was known of the results of succumbing to the agent that had infected the ship was that those who fell under its grip became irrational. It was as though their ability to function as rational human beings had somehow been compromised. It was clear from Lex’s survey of the rest of the ship that at least some of the Affected still retained a part of their previous personality, as she had seen one of them access a computer panel and begin to work at a frantic speed. The woman, if that was still the correct term, had quickly begun to access the environmental controls to bring them back online, and Lex had spent the two most panic-stricken minutes of her life laying down a detailed encryption pattern to lock her out. Whatever it was that had the crew in its grip wanted the rest of them, and she couldn’t help but think it was going to find a way to get them before they could do anything about it. The chill atmosphere of Main Engineering wrapped around its inhabitants like an icy veil. The acting captain, Lex’s old friend Derren Collins, had initially ordered that the crew don environment suits, until it was pointed out that there were not enough to go around those who remained. Of the eighty people who had been assigned to the ship, only seventeen had been sealed onto deck seven, and there were only six on the deck. After a protracted and heated debate over who should be allowed to wear them, Lex herself had pointed out that each had only four hours of breathable air, and so they should only be deployed in an emergency. “What about flooding the other decks with a neural agent?”, Crewman Wilkes, an engineering technician, volunteered to the ongoing struggle to rid themselves of the unknown contagion. Lieutenant Collins sighed heavily. “There’s no way to do that without bringing Life Support back online. I’m not prepared to risk it.” Wilkes looked deflated. “It could be our only shot to retake full control of the ship, sir.” “Yes, Crewman, and it also may have no effect on the Affected. In which case, we would be exposing ourselves to the contagion for nothing.” It was difficult for Lex to keep her spirits up. There was no escaping the fact that she was, along with the other sixteen people sealed into this chilling, claustrophobic prison, essentially doomed. Yet Collins seemed to lighten things a little. Knowing she had such a reliable friend nearby kept her moving, searching for a solution to the problem. She was no scientist, but she was intelligent enough to find some way for them to escape, or so she hoped. The debate in Engineering was silenced by the sound of phaser fire. Picking up her side-arm, Lex sprinted out into the corridor, heading towards its source. It took her seconds to arrive, but she was already too late. A dark-haired human male lay dead at the feet of a Vulcan engineer, who still held his phaser loosely in his hand, which lolled limply by his side. Lex pointed her own weapon directly at his head. “Drop it,” she said authoritatively, and the Vulcan did as he was told. More armed officers arrived behind her, including Lieutenant Collins. “Scan him,” she demanded of Wilkes, who quickly opened his tricorder to take readings. “Why in the hell did you do that?” Her voice was laced with despair and disbelief, as she questioned the dispassionate Ensign in front of her. “Why?” The Vulcan remained calm. “I do not have to answer that, Ensign. You are neither the Chief of Security aboard this vessel, neither do you outrank me.” The lack of emotion in his response infuriated Lex even more than his refusal to co-operate. Collins stepped forward. “That may be the case, but she is the acting Security Chief, and I do outrank you. You will answer the question, Ensign.” “Crewman Lazlo was about to open the panel to deck six, despite my insistence that exposing us to its atmosphere would be a dangerously illogical course of action.” He looked Collins directly in the eye as he spoke. “He’s affected,” sighed Wilkes. The words were no sooner out of his mouth than the Vulcan lunged forward, knocking Lex and Lieutenant Collins off their feet. His hands wrapped around Wilkes’s throat like a steel vice, and he began to crush with unstoppable strength. Two members of the security detail seized his arms and attempted to prize him off, but to no avail. Wilkes’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, and his lifeless body went limp as a discarded rag doll. Regaining her footing, Lex aimed her phaser and fired, striking the Vulcan squarely in the back. He slumped out of the security team’s hands and fell on top of Wilkes in an awkward mound of smoking flesh. The officers did not speak to each other as they returned to the command centre. Collins moved to the redesignated science station to conduct an atmospheric scan, and Lex ordered a nearby crewman to scan everyone individually for signs of succumbing to the engulfing darkness. Seconds later, a forcefield hummed into existence around the inside of Engineering, sealing its five inhabitants inside. Lex looked at her friend and commanding officer sadly. “So that’s it? Just the five of us?” Collins nodded, and walked towards her. He reached out and pulled her into a tight embrace. It was ironic that sealed away in the middle of such chaos, Lex had never felt so safe. Sobbing filled Lex’s ears, and she squeezed Derren tightly, hoping to provide some comfort. It wasn’t until she heard the first outraged scream and felt his grip relax that she realised that he had not been in the slightest bit upset. The two of them whirled around, and after waiting long enough for Lex to signal a pincer approach around the warp core, slowly stalked into action. The noise of wailing and screaming grew and grew, and it attracted the attention of the other crewmen, who followed Lex carefully and quietly to a Jefferies tube access point at the back of Engineering. The sight was both unexpected and distressing. A female Bolian was pounding on the panel with her fists, her face a river of tears, and her voice now beginning to crack. She screamed incoherently, producing a sound so guttural and primal that it made the hackles stand up on the back of Lex’s neck. She shivered coldly and gulped down the saliva that had begun to fill her mouth. Anticipation flooded her every fiber as she nodded to the technician who reached out with a tricorder and began to scan. Lex’s gaze was fixed on him as he completed his work, slowly closed the device, looked back at the security chief and shook his head sadly. “She’s gone, sir.” His colleague sighed. “This is ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with her. Don’t you know she has her family aboard? They’re sealed on a higher deck, she’s just trying to get to them.” He strode towards her before he could be restrained, squatted down next to her and began to offer her comfort. He reached out his arm and placed it around her shoulder. The second he made contact, she twisted into action. Cold fury radiated from her eyes as she reared back her head and bit down on his forearm. The man screamed and recoiled in pain and horror, as the Bolian woman returned to trying to dig through six inches of solid metal, tearing her fingernails in her desperation to claw her way out of confinement. Lex’s phaser flashed once again across the deck, putting an end to the woman’s misery. A second beam flashed out from at her shoulder, striking down the wounded security officer, who had no doubt been contaminated as well. She nodded in approval to her last remaining security guard. He needed to know he had done the right thing. He just looked at her and grinned. “I think you have the wrong idea, Ensign.” “Oh?”, she was deeply troubled by his tone, but tried desperately to hide it. Her hand reached for her tricorder to perform a scan. He levelled his weapon directly at her head. “I’ll save you the trouble. I’ve been affected too. It’s quite... liberating.” Lex relaxed slightly as she saw Collins approach out of the corner of her eye. He aimed and fired quickly and accurately, leaving them as the last two survivors of a shipwide holocaust. Flustered, she took a few steps backward, and leaned against the rail that surrounded the warp core. “It’s OK Lex, it’s all over.” Collins’s words wrapped around her like a comforting blanket. Her shallow, irregular breaths floated in front of her like wisps in the frosty air. “We’ll make it,” she was trying to convince herself as much as aiming to reassure her old friend. A sudden flash of inspiration hit her. “We’ll use the transporter. It can beam us aboard a shuttlecraft and we can easily get to safety. You’d better set the ship to auto-destruct , we can’t let this spread any further.” Collins nodded, and tapped away at the Main Engineering console for a few seconds. In turn, she began to work at Ops, setting up a site-to-site transport that would facilitate their escape. “I’ve taken the plasma coolant injectors offline, the core will breach in two minutes.” Her friend’s words provided Lex with the necessary clue. “Initiating transport.” They materialised inside a shuttlecraft, and hurried to the two front seats, initiating the launch sequence. As soon as they cleared the shuttlebay, Lex brought up the countdown to the ship’s destruction on her console. One minute remained. Suddenly, her console chirruped, indicating an incoming message from the ship. It was text only, and Lex scrolled through it at lightning speed. It seemed that not all of the crew had completely succumbed to the ravages of the infection. Her heart almost stopped when she read the last part of the message: it was a report from one of the ship’s exobiologists. According to the final stages of my research, Ktarian physiology is in all likelihood immune to affectation, although the latest scans show that I am in the early stages of infection. I regret that I wil not have time to test my theory. Lex breathed a sigh of relief. Collins turned to look at her and asked what was wrong. “Nothing,” she replied. “Look at this... it looks like I’m safe.” The countdown on her control panel reached zero, but there was no explosion. “Far from it,” snarled Collins, his lips drawn back into a feral grin. Screaming, Lex leapt from her seat at the helm, phaser firing widly...
  7. Not the reckoning! I have to say, this has been a lot of fun and I'm glad someone pointed me in this direction!
  8. It had been a bad idea from the second it had entered his mind. Sure, Rhul had wanted to go and help his brother. Sure, he wanted the stinking spoonheads off the planet as badly as any other Bajoran he knew, but Soban should never have agreed to bring him along. Soban was twelve years old, his brother six. His parents had warned him that leaving the house after dark wasn’t a good idea, that the Cardassians wouldn’t have a second thought about shooting him dead, even if he was still a child. But Soban knew better. He knew the compound like the back of his hand, his father had worked there for many years, and he knew that it backed onto a system of caves through which he could escape after doing what he had planned. And yet there was Rhul, following after him, phaser in his hand like he was some high-ranking member of the Bajoran militia. For a moment Soban almost convinced himself that his little brother would have followed him no matter what he had said, he was fast on his feet, and it was better that he keep him within eyesight, but that feeling was short-lived. He should have locked him in his room, promised to take him another time, come clean to his parents about what he was planning, anything to keep his brother out of danger. The moonlight shone down upon the duo, both fair haired, Soban standing tall for a Bajoran of his age, and Rhul around half his height. He would be able to reach into places that even Soban couldn’t, and in the end, that was what he was counting on. Rhul would be able to arm the device, plant it in a maintenance conduit near to the facility’s power core, and then the escape operation would begin in earnest. The contacts waiting for him on the other side of the tunnels would be surprised to see his brother, but they would no doubt have room for him in whatever transportation they had arranged. If necessary, Soban would sit his brother on his lap, that way he knew no-one could complain. The terrain around the compound was rocky, as it was set into the hillside. Rakantha province was mostly made up of flat, arable land, in which farmers could plant their crops on vast farms that sprawled across the countryside for miles, but there were a few hilly areas and rock formations. The compound had been erected for a number of reasons, the most important of which was to serve as a facility to mine the one such formation to which it was attached, and the Cardassians had certainly put it to full use. Under the soft light of the moon, the rocks took on a strange hue, making the land seem alien. Indeed, it had not felt right since the moment the planet’s occupiers had first set foot on Bajoran soil. The ascent to the fence of the compound was short, and relatively easy thanks to the gentle slope of the rockface. There were plenty of outcrops to grab onto, many of which had clumps of grass growing from them in unruly tufts. Soban was almost at the top of the slope before he turned round to check on his brother, who was only a few feet below, and moving with a quiet determination that could have been attributed to a fully grown militiaman. Hauling himself onto the ledge at the top of the slope, which was tantalisingly close to the compound fence, he turned around and reached out his hand to Rhul. For a second he stared into the boy’s eyes, expecting him to return the gesture so that he could be lifted to the top of the slope, but the moment never came. Instead, Rhul shook his head gently, his blonde hair rippling gently in the night-time breeze, and continued on the last leg of his journey. He had nearly reached the top when his foot slipped on some loose stones, and he fell. It was nothing more than a stumble in truth, the ledge he had been on was quite wide and flat, and Rhul was easily able to stop from overbalancing and tumbling down the slope. He gasped out in pain, however, as he s[...]ed the skin on his hands and knees, blood trickling slowly from beneath the hem of his sturdy shorts. Rhul clutched his knee, clearly in pain, and Soban felt it too, but in his heart like a needle of guilt: he should not have brought his brother here. It was too late to turn back now, and Rhul treated this minor setback with the professionalism he had treated the rest of the journey. In his mind, he was saving the entire planet in one night, and Soban knew that if they made it through to the end of the mission safely then he would feel like a fully fledged member of the resistance, much as his cell would never allow it. They were reluctant to allow him to join, but his agility and their lack of numbers had been more than enough persuasion. Rhul joined him at the top of the slope momentarily, and Soban remarked there were no tears, no more cries of pain, and certainly no more clutching at knees. Rhul was ready. Cutting through the wire fence with a small tool taken from his pocket, Soban quickly created an opening through which they could sneak into the compound. There were storage pods all over the yard between them and the entrance, and so it would be only a few seconds until the two “operatives” were inside. Soban chose an access hatch that was rarely used, one that allowed mining vehicles to deposit ore directly into a storage vault for processing, and unfastened its cladding quietly. He beckoned for his brother to get inside, and followed suit, covering their entry point as he did so. The silence was unerring. Many of the machines that would have been in operation during the day were now quiet. It was not unlike the Cardassians to work their Bajoran labourers through the night, but with the depleted ore reserves in this part of the province and the mining station in orbit there was no real need to use large portions of the plant. The fact that it was any use at all was the reason it was a target for the resistance, that and the fact that there was a Cardassian officer based inside who commanded three garrisons in this area. In addition, Rhul had not spoken since they had left home. Apparently he was taking his brother’s advice to make no noise at all extremely seriously. Soban couldn’t say he wasn’t grateful. It only took a few minutes of crawling through maintenance conduits and sneaking through corridors to plant the device. When they arrived at the required location Rhul accepted the small device that Soban offered him, pressed a few buttons on the top, just as he had been shown, and disappeared for a few moments into a crawlspace in the wall. When he returned, Soban broke the silence. “Did you put it in the right place?” “Mmm,” replied Rhul, nodding. He looked stern, just like their father during a telling-off, which Soban was guaranteed to receive when he returned home. This would take some explaining. “Looks like you’re already a pro.” He forced himself to smile, and ruffled Rhul’s hair in appreciation. Or was it affection? Or reassurance? Any of those would do right now. Heck, it could even have been to reassure himself. Rhul did not utter a word in reply, instead he just stood there, waiting to follow his older brother back out of the compound and to safety. The duo snuck out of the compound every bit as easily as they had made their way in. Soban made every effort to avoid areas of the facility that he knew would be staffed at this late hour, and before long they had climbed through a window in an empty office and dropped to safety outside. There were no fences at the back of the compound, as the walls of the building and the rock surrounding the cave entrance formed an enclosed space. There were also no guards, and there should have been. Soban stood puzzled for a second, hugged against the corner of a wall, before shrugging his shoulders and heading quietly around the edge of the rock face. If the Cardassians wanted to take the night off, he wasn’t going to complain. A cold, musty breeze blew from the cave mouth. Soban resisted the urge to recoil at the smell, which was unpleasant to say the least, and instead looked down at his brother. Rhul had screwed up his eyes, and was screwing up his face, darkening the lines across his already wrinkled nose as his brow blocked what pale light there was from his face. Tapping him on the shoulder in silent support Soban strode forward into the tunnel, pulling out a palm beacon from his pouch. He shone it into the darkness, lighting a path for them to travel, closer and closer towards his contacts in the resistance, closer and closer towards safety. They walked quickly, sometimes breaking into a trot, winding in and out of the caverns, sometimes passing an abandoned mining cart, sometimes diverting through narrow crawlways, and sometimes moving as quickly as they could through the wide tunnels that had been hollowed out for the mining vehicles themselves. The lack of Cardassian patrols was beginning to bother Soban greatly. It was a relief to know that Rhul was in less danger, but he could not understand why the spoonheads were leaving the compound unguarded. They knew there had been activity from the resistance in the area, and it was unlike them to allow anything to be compromised without challenge. That was, after all, why the cell had agreed to let him run this mission solo: one operative, and a boy at that, would be nothing like what the Cardassians would expect, and Soban’s knowledge of the compound had put them in the perfect position to strike. Yet still, there should have been guards here, they patrolled these caves and the compound perimeter every day. In a few seconds, Soban hoped, his fears would be assuaged, as the explosion from the compound should have been audible even from inside the tunnels, and that would mark the mission as a success. The Cardassians would have been caught napping. They were on them before he realised. Too much time thinking, too little time watching. One had seized Rhul, and Soban’s heart leapt into his throat, thumping with adrenaline. “Let him go!” He tried to muster as much confidence as he could, ordering the soldier into releasing his brother, but the Cardassian just laughed. He was holding Rhul around the waist, two clear feet from the floor, and Rhul kicked and struggled, squirming and writhing in his grasp. Two more Cardassians flanked him, and Soban could hear footsteps coming from behind them, signalling the approach of more guards. “Well, well, well. What do we have here? Are the Bajorans running so low on men that the send children to perform their terrorist acts?” The voice came from behind Soban, but he would not turn around, his eyes were fixed on his brother, who was still trying to break the grip of his captor. “What is your name?” The words were spoken harshly, the unctuous tone that had previously flowed through the tunnel like honey now chilled him like an icy wind. “I’m not telling you.” He stood defiant. “Oh please,” the voice rang out derisively, “we both know that you don’t want anything to happen to your young friend.” Rhul’s eyes widened slightly. “It would be a terrible shame for you to have to watch him die.” “You leave him alone!” Soban yelled angrily, his voice almost choking in his throat at the realisation that this was all his fault. “Believe me, we will. I would like nothing more than to release him, but I’m afraid I’m unable to do so until you’ve told me your name.” The last part of the sentence was insistent, making it quite clear that any answer other than the information that had been requested would be met with something undesirable. “My name is Rel. Rel Paron.” It was a risky move, but he refused to allow his brother or his parents to suffer due to his actions on this night. “Well, Paron...” the Cardassian paused, the sliminess returning to his tone, “I’m sure you don’t mind me referring to you by your given name, would you mind telling me what you were doing here?” “We were lost... we thought we’d explore the caves and we took a wrong turn.” His voice was shaking, but he forced it to stay steady. Those Cardassian pigs were never going to see him cry. A hand gripped Soban’s shoulder, and span him around unceremoniously. Struggling to stay on his feet, Soban could now see the Gul that had been commanding the unit. He should have been in the compound, and Soban’s fear was now mixed with crushing disappointment that he had failed in his mission, this was all for nothing. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t quite believe you, Paron, you see this entire area is fenced off from both sides. Not to mention the fact that my regiment is returning from wiping out a large number of Bajoran insurgents who seemed to be waiting to release an impounded interceptor at the entrance to the cave system.” He strode towards Soban and stooped down so that their faces were inches apart. “You wouldn’t be lying to me would you? Because that would be a very, very bad idea.” Soban stared into his eyes, trembling slightly. The Gul’s breath smelled worse than the breeze in the cave, but Soban dared not flinch, he was rooted with fear. And then a release came just as quickly as they had been impounded. The cave rocked with the force of the explosion. It seemed it had been much more powerful than Soban had realised. The lights in the cave failed instantly, as they had been powered by the generator back in the compound, and they were plunged into darkness. He hurled himself in the direction of the Gul, trying to grab onto his head or neck, and he felt his target stumble and fall in surprise. A yell of pain rang through the cavern. Presumably Rhul had bitten the Cardassian who was holding him, and he began to cry out too, shouting for his brother. Soban whipped back around, his eyes only starting to become accustomed to the dark. He had only the Prophets to thank for the fact that he managed to grab hold of Rhul’s sleeve, barrel past the Cardassians guards who were behind the Gul as they started to regain their footing, and start his escape down the tunnels. Within seconds, disruptor blasts streaked through the air, exploding chunks of the rock wall and showering the pair in grit. Rhul began to panic. He had done well so far, but this was too much for him. Stopping for only a second, Soban lifted him up, supporting him as best he could in a tight embrace. The adrenaline coursing through his legs granted him the speed he needed to weave through the caverns, led by memory, heading for the cave exit. Bursting from the exit of the cave, Soban caught sight of the interceptor that had formed a part of their escape plan. He carried Rhul as far as the front of the craft, before setting him down and opening the hatch. “Quickly, get in.” He tried to sound as calm as he could, but they both knew that calm was further from their minds than it had ever been. And for an instant, for the first time since they had entered the cave, Soban got a good look at his brother’s face. It was stained with drying tears, while new ones silently streamed down his face. His pupils were wide, and there was no colour in his usually jovial face. He was terrified. There was no time to hang around. Soban lifted him into the craft, stalling only to kiss him on the cheek, and placed him gently into the co-pilot’s chair. Mustering all his strength, he leapt onto the interceptor’s nose, and lunged for the seat behind the helm, the sound of disruptors growing ever louder and ever nearer. As the compartment sealed, he breathed a momentary sigh of relief. The resistance cell was gone, and the Cardassians were on their tail. It wouldn’t be easy flying to safety, but they had a fighting chance. The Tallis family had reached the end of their first gauntlet, and now it was time to run another. ((Tallis Rhul, 23/8/09: 2,829 words))
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