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  1. Betrayal of Love The rain pattered down gently on the Iraxan trees that spread their long, wide green leaves over the ground below. Nugra leaned up against the soft blond bark watching as his young girl danced and swayed through the rain swinging her stick at imaginary foes. Unlike most children her age, she had skill and grace that was unmatched by many; her body honed and eyes fierce with controlled fury. The tired Gorn allowed his eyes to roam around the dirt road that stretched from one side of the forest to the other, with only the small field carved out of the endless trees. In the north of this open plain a large monastery stood in stony splendor. it's ancient carvings still standing out even from years of weathering. "Father, are we going to head back to the village?" Iria’s voice called to his conscience. Nugra shook the tiredness from his mind and straightened up. "No, dear. There are Tova berry bushes all around. Help yourself." The young girl did not even question how her father knew what was edible on Peska Alora, but with implicit trust, she dove into the thicket to gorge herself on the berries. How could he have taken all that exuberance and turned her into a killer? *** The shuttle closed slowly under the guise of floating wreckage. Much of the orbit around the green-blue planet below was filled with dead ships of the Gorn Confederation and the rebel faction. For one hundred and ninety-six years that had tried to kill each other with a few short years in the middle filled with an uneasy peace. Nugra and eight other Gorns were crammed into a shuttle and they stared at the hatch in a mixture of anticipation and exhaustion. What he did not see was fear or regret. Too long the factions had been at each others throats to allow the hatred fade. Nestled up against him, wearing a loincloth and a piece of fabric around her chest made of old military uniforms, his daughter Iria waited. Her bright sixteen year old eyes watching and waiting. He could feel the tension in her body, but it was not of fear, but of excitement. "Standard exit pattern," Nugra said in a low voice. The shuttle was barely running on any power so it could hide among the ambient radiation of the vessel graveyard. "We hit them hard and go for the throat. Team 1 and 2 have auxiliary control and the engine room. We have the bridge." The other Gorns growled acknowledging and one took a peek out the nearby window. "What do you see Krutak?" Nugra asked. The scarred Gorn quickly got down. "The Dragon's Claw is right where we thought she would be, sir. I see they have shuttles out scavenging for parts. Senior Commander Mrr'Sak did hurt them terrible in the last engagement." Nugra nodded silently. Mrr'Sak had sacrificed his frigate to cripple the GSN Dragon's Claw. The Dragon's Claw had become the command vessel of the insurrectionist fleet and though it made him sick to think of the lost lives and ship, it had hurt the only plasma torpedo armed vessel still in service to the point of hiding. Hundreds of years of fighting had pretty much decimated their energy reserves and weapons. Now, most of their plasma beam weapons were given one charge for one shot like ancient human gunpowder weapons called muskets. Everything was now hand to hand. "Breaking through the wreckage." his helmsman called. "Go to dead power now!" The last of the computers shut down and went in to a fast reboot mode. The shuttle immediately darkened and went silent. Only the light of the stars coming through the window and the singular red button blinking of the shuttle dashboard gave them an light to see by. The shuttle began to tumble and drift looking just like the other debris around. Nugra waited for Krutak’s command. He was still watching out the window. "Now, Senior Master!" Nugra immediately tapped his commbadge three times and the helmsman slammed his scaly fist on the reboot button. The shuttle came alive and the burst of acceleration caught them all. It was now a race to connect the grapple and cutters before the insurrectionists realized they were under attack. The attack team held their collective breath until they felt the ship connect to the hull and the cutters fire. *** The giggles and laughter woke Nugra up from his idle nightmare and he quickly located Iria. She was running around with a couple village children wielding sticks. He relaxed and watched them play happily. The taking of the Dragon’s Claw had been hell, the teams had been originally pinned down, but it only succeeded because of the young girl running about and playing. Iria had developed a method of hamstringing attacking Gorn troops by racing and bobbing around them while strike at their heels with her knives. She had gotten to good. The sound of her laughter as she cut them made him shiver. Though she was seventeen in age, her mental age was much younger. All she had known was war and blood. ‘What have I done?’ Coming back had put in to light how much of a monster he had become. How could he have done so much to such an innocent girl whose world was caught in the crossfire? Iria had become an excellent killing machine. A little murderess that delighted in destroying the enemy. The doors of the monastery creaked open and immediately the kids took off running. Iria instead turned, brandishing her stick ready for a fight. “Iria, come.” Nugra said softly. Immediately, the girl was by his side ready to strike. Four women wearing elaborate dresses of scarlet with violet trimming, their faces were obscured from the veils across their faces. They approached with a graceful, but a walk full of purpose. The exquisite decoration spoke of their years of tradition and dedication to their creed. The people of Peska Alora were used to them, but to strangers unfamiliar with the outer rim of the galaxy, they would have found them strange and obsolete. “Father. They are trained,” Iria said not removing her eyes. “How do we proceed?” “We don’t. Stand down, daughter.” His words caught her by surprise and she broke her gaze to look at him for some sign of his meaning. She obeyed though without hesitation. “The celestial mother sends you her greetings, Nugra son of Moong.” Nugra bowed his head to the leader and placed his left hand on his heart. “and I accept them with open heart, sister.” The Gorn could not see the expression from under her veil, but even if he could see her face, their thoughts and decisions were enigmatic. “The celestial mother has reviewed your request and has accepted. She has also accepted your offer in trade. We shall take her now.” Out of the corner of his eyes, Nugra watched Iria’s expression and to her credit, she understood what they meant. Her curiosity changed to hatred and she dashed forward with a battle shriek. From under her tunic, she drew a short sword and it flashed out towards the throat of the lead sister in a blur of silver. It was met by a small, decorative blade and easily deflected. Two of the other sisters stepped forward and intercepted Iria’s erratic and ferocious blade. Together they cornered her, batted her weapon from her hand and subdued her. Iria found herself caught in an interlocking hold that pinned her arms behind her back and placed pressure on her spin. “Father! Help me!” Iria shrieked. A darkness descended on Nugra’s heart as he did something he knew would [...] him for the rest of his life. He turned and began to walk away. “Father? FATHER!” he heard the agonizes screams of his daughter as the Sisters of Conscience and Fidelity began to drag her to the monastery doors. “DADDY!” the sobs called. “Daddy! Please save me!” Tears welled up in Nugra’s eyes as his continued to walk down the path away from the estate. The doors thundered shut and silence descended on his walk. He had just betrayed the one he loved to those who could help her become a proper member of society. His love for her had burned any chance of being loved back ever again. The betrayal was complete. He had become a monster. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Captain Nugra Commanding Officer USS Victory, NCC-362447 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  2. On the sixth day in orbit around Coralla Prime, it was decided that first contact with the Corallans had progressed so excellently that the crew of the Apollo would be given restricted shore leave. A draw had been made, among the officers of the ship who were off duty, to participate in a cultural exchange on the surface and Ensign Maxwell Traenor had been lucky enough to draw a slot. Once on the surface, the ensign had been drawn in to an establishment where he joined at a table with a Corallan, and polite conversation ensued. Maxwell, being a physicist and not at all a xenoanthropologist, had been initially concerned, but fell into comfort fairly quickly. The Corallans were an amphibious race, but despite their cultural and physical differences, Maxwell and Siath, as his counterpart was named, found much to talk about. The only issue was the universal translator, which infrequently stumbled upon deciphering the odd word in either language. Tilting her head, Siath addressed Maxwell. "Would you like to try our food?" It had been noted that the Corallans tilted their heads quite frequently in conversation. The cultural debrief had stated that it was a physical quirk of the species, with both physiological and social implications. It either depicted deep thought processes or an emotional entreaty, depending on the situational context. Maxwell found it endearing, possibly because of the resemblance to an iconic gesture of domesticated dogs back on Earth. In this context, he assumed it to mean that she felt strongly about him trying the local cuisine, and felt loath to decline. In truth, he was nervous; an adventurous diner he was not, but it was expected of him as part of his involvement in the cultural exchange. "Thank you, Siath, I would really like to try your cuisine." Siath tilted her head again, the nictitating membrane of her eyes rapidly moving back and forth. This as well was covered in the cultural debrief, as a signal of confusion or fear. It was not nearly as endearing as the head tilt, but Maxwell had seen it before. It most likely meant he had said something that the universal translator couldn't decipher into the Corallan tongue. "Please say again, Tray-e-nor, I do not understand." "Um... I would like to try your food?" That seemed to work, because Siath perked right up. Apparently 'cuisine' had no analog in her language. "Excellent, Tray-e-nor! There is a food that we are proud of, I will serve you. It is called *ktckkk*." It was now Maxwell's turn to sport a look of confusion, for the universal translator commonly stumbled over proper nouns in the Corallan language. The species' gravelly, guttural vocal intonation was hard enough to follow when the translator worked, but when it didn't, the sound was especially jarring to Traenor's ears. "I'm sorry, Siath, can you try again?" "Our food, it is called *ktckkk*. I cannot explain, it is *tchrrkl*... It is sweet after meal food." "Oh! What we call dessert, perhaps?" Again with the look, and if she had lips, Maxwell would assume she would be sporting a bemused smile. "I do not understand your word. But no concern. I bring now." Maxwell Traenor waited patiently while Siath went into an adjacent room. After only a few moments, she returned with a plate. The scientist watched her approach with morbid fascination, worried about what he might see. What if it was live grubs, not unlike Klingon gagh? Cultural sensitivity or not, he was unsure if he would be able to stomach such a dish. As the deep bowl was placed before him, he peered over the lip of the dish. It was chocolate! The smell that permeated the air above the bowl was heavenly. Floral and berry notes wafted forth on a strong undercurrent of an earthy vegetal scent, sweetly caressing his senses with its sugary headiness. The more he drew the perfumed air deep into his lungs, the more it enticed and intoxicated him. "This looks wonderful, Siath!" His spoon crackled through the sharp brulee crust, leaving slivery shards of caramelized sugar spidered across the top. Inside, the utensil swam through a creamy mousse, interlaced with ribbons of viscous fudge. Maxwell drew a spoonful of the delightful confection up to his lips, and let the taste tingle on his lips and tongue. The wonderful nutty, woody base flavor carried an exotic song of spice, citrus and vine fruit across his palate. It was like the best chocolate he had ever eaten, except more vibrant and intense than any that had come before. He blocked out all else, letting his being immerse in the experience of that dessert. It sang in his brain, it swam in his veins, it lifted him to the heights of euphoria. He absently scratched at his face as he devoured another spoonful of the manna in his bowl. "Siath, this is the most wonderful food I have ever eaten. It... it completes me... it's fantastic... The spice in it is heavenly, though a bit strong. It makes my lips and tongue tingle so much that they almost feel numb..." Yet another spoonful, though it was thicker than he had originally thought. It stuck in his throat and was hard to swallow, but worth every morsel. He knew he should slow down, not eat so quickly. He was shoveling it in so fast that he could barely catch his breath between bites. He scratched more insistently at the persistent itch on his neck and throat. "Tray-e-nor, you are happy, yes? You bloat with joy and change color because you are pleased?" Bloat with joy? What a strange comment, thought Maxwell. But that thought was hard to grasp, as was any thought. His mind was hazy and unfocused, difficult to grab onto any one topic. He wheezed with difficulty, trying to put but one more taste of that creamy, sugary wonderfulness between rubbery unfeeling lips that could not part... ... ... "...has been treated with adrenaline. I mean, a chemical that reverses the effect of his immune system from overreacting. That is why he couldn't breathe." Coming to and looking up through squinted eyes, Maxwell could discern the comforting blue collar of a Starfleet medical uniform. Beside the doctor was Siath, the membrane over her eyes fluctuating rapidly. He felt bad for putting her through so much distress. "I did not know! Our cultural document stated that flushing of the skin of the species of Tray-e-nor indicated arousal. I only assumed that he was enjoying the *ktckkk*!" O foul temptress! O what terrible fate! The divine dessert had turned on him? He had suffered an allergic reaction to the wondrous treat? How could life be so cruel as to deprive him of a love of which he had just experienced but once? Nothing short of perfection had been introduced to him, and it had tried to kill him? And why was his oxygen-starved brain spinning in addled Shakespearean soliloquies? "Not to worry, he will be fine. See, he is already rising again to his feet. We will mark this reaction in our medical documents, so hopefully this unpleasantness can be avoided in the future." Suddenly, the medic reached out and swatted Traenor's hand. "For goodness' sake, Ensign, drop the dammed spoon already! And don't look so petulant." But it was so good... Ensign Maxwell Traenor Science USS Apollo-A
  3. Love and Betrayal Birthdays It was her birthday. The ship's club was closed now, it was dim and empty. Marianette, the young human bartender, leaned her hip against the bar where a row of glasses stood, each unique in both style and contents. Looking over them, she traced her finger across the rim of each, her face clouded as she sunk deep into her thoughts. She picked up a stemmed snifter of wine, swirling it gently, watching the red liquid beat against the fragile glass. Red like lipstick and blood. Red like her mother’s hair. She studied the wine, mesmerized by the motion. For the most part, Marianette kept her memories locked in a tight box in her mind. A strong, solid box that she only opened once a year. She made a tradidition to let herself feel and wonder and remember for this one night. Then she would lock it away and forget for another year. Marianette rested her arms on the bar and closed her eyes, letting the memories lap over her mind like splashing wine. It was her birthday. Her blond hair hung down her back in unwashed, tangled knots. Marianette tried to smooth out her wrinkled dress as she approached the large door. She pressed the worn door panel, and it opened with a choking hiss. Mama sat at her vanity, painting her lips with deep red color. She spotted the child and turned, beckoning with a slender hand. Marianette loved her mother, that distant ethereal creature, always sitting in her bedroom. The child approached and the mother bent over her, bloodshot eyes scanning the scrawny form. “Hello, baby. I've missed you.” Her voice croaked through scarred lungs. “It’s your birthday right?” “Yes, Mama. Madam said so. She said I could come see you today.” Marianette clung to the trembling hands. She thought her mother was beautiful. Her young eyes didn’t see the desperation in her mother’s eyes or the way they kept glancing towards the door. “Yes, yes, five years old. I remember the day... " She trailed off, her eyes far away, then focused again. "Oh, but I have a gift for you.” She reached up and unclasped her necklace. Marianette recognized it immediately. Her mother never took it off, a silver chain with a conch shell pendant. Mama held it up, watching it spin for a moment. “You know, my mother used to say you could hear the whole ocean in a shell." Her eyes and voice trailed away again. "I’ve never seen the ocean. I’ve heard it’s limitless.” Marianette didn’t understand the words, but her heart swelled with joy as her mother put the necklace around her small neck. The pendant hung almost to her belly, and her small hands cradled it gently. Mama touched her own throat, already missing the feel of her treasure. “You keep that, child. It means freedom, and I hope that you will have that. I never have...” Her eyes drifted off to stare at the wall. Marianette heard a sound and turned to see a large woman with green skin and black hair standing behind her. “Alright, Natla. I'm ready.” Marianette cried out as the woman came and picked her up. She reached for Mama, but Mama had turned back to the mirror. As Natla took her, screaming from the room, she saw her mother lift her hand and touch her red lips as tears coursed down her face. It was her birthday. Marianette squeezed her eyes tight, then opened them again to see the ship’s club surrounding her. The memory faded away slowly, but her mother's face stared back at her from the mirror behind the bar. She raised her glass and called out a toast to her ghosts. “To you, Mama. I hope you're free now.” She tossed back the wine and threw the glass against the wall, shattering it. The pain in her heart eased a little with the sound. Turning back to the bar, she considered the next drink. A shot glass full of amber whiskey. She picked it up and stared into it, letting more memories flood her mind. It was her birthday. Twin moons shone through the window as they young girl wrapped a silk robe tightly around herself. The door behind her opened and the client left without a word. Marianette sat down at her computer and scrolled idly through her personal messages. She brushed her long hair slowly, letting it flow down her back. A soft knock at the door caught her attention, and Marianette hurried to open it. The man kissed her roughly and then sat on the bed, patting his knee for her to sit. "Dreven! Where have you been? Did I tell you it's my birthday?" She grinned at him, but he seemed distracted. He kissed her again and she soaked him in. He was her drug, her life. He made her feel alive. She declared her love for him repeatedly and pretended not to notice that he never responded. Later, as he tied his shoelaces, she spoke to him in hushed tones. “So, have you talked to Natla yet? If she doesn’t agree to let you buy me, I’ll run away with you! We can be together!” “Baby, I don’t think we can. The Syndicate can find you anywhere. And I don’t have the money to buy you. Natla says you’re worth a fortune. Can’t we just leave things as they are?” Marianette looked at her hands and murmered softly. "I-I have to leave. And it has to be now, because...I think I'm pregnant.” Dreven stood sharply, and glared at her. “What? I thought you were taking pills. Natla can't have her precious little trinket going all mommy on her. You can't be seriously thinking about having this...baby?" He sneered the word as if it were dirty. Marianette felt cut by his words. “I-I-I don’t k-know what happened. I think I must have thrown up my pills when I was so sick last month. I haven’t told anyone yet, but I'm not getting rid of it. That's why I have to leave now. We’re going to be free!” “You are a slave, Marianette. Just accept that. You're good at what you do, and they're not going to let you go. You’ll never be free. Get rid of it or I’m gone.” He stormed out without another look at her. She sat on her bed staring after him, staring at the wasteland of her future. Was there really no hope of freedom? It was her birthday. Tears stung her eyes as Marianette tossed the drink back. The amber liquid burned her throat as she had burned for him. As he had burned her heart. She looked at her empty glass and sent it flying into the wall after the first one. The shattered pieces glittered on the floor, ready to cut, to draw blood. “That’s to you, Dreven. May you rot in hell.” She slowly turned back to the bar. The third and last glass stood on the table. This one harder than either of the others, but Marianette forced herself to let the memories come. This was the reason she made herself remember, why she couldn't ever let the past go completely. Marianette touched the flute gently, raised it up to the light. The light champagne bubbled and sparkled like stars. Her eyes burned with tears, and she let them fall. This one day she could cry. It was her birthday. It was her birth day. Her first birth day, and the only birthday Marianette would ever see. The nurse placed the tiny infant on her sweat-soaked chest, and he blinding pain faded away as she stared at the perfect little girl in her arms. Tiny lips tried to suckle, and blue eyes blinked in wonder at the lights. A tiny cry slpit the silence, but Marianette felt peace for the first time in her young life. A whimper crossed the infant’s face and Marianette nursed her. She touched the downy head reverently, and counted each perfect toe. She kissed each tiny finger. She whispered a prayer and crooned a lullaby. A lifetime of love was poured into a tiny sliver of time. The nurse came back, and looked at the new mother with pity. Then she held out her arms. “It’s time. Give her to me.” It was the most agonizing choice in her life, but slowly, Marianette wrapped the blanket around her perfect baby girl and gave her away. “I have something I want her to have. Can she keep it?” The nurse nodded, and Marianette took off her shell necklace and tucked it into the blanket. The nurse smiled gently, filled with compassion. “Do you want to give her a name?” Marianette looked up, startled. “Can I?” At the nod, Marianette stood painfully to stare into the tiny face, sleeping now. “Then her name is Lottie." She looked back at the nurse. "It means free.” The nurse nodded and left, taking the young girl's hear away with her. The door slid shut, Marianette crumpled to the floor, her strings cut. Her heart tore into shreds, and tears streamed silently down her face. It had cost her soul and her future, but her child was free. It was her birthday. Marianette raised her last glass and toasted the little girl who lived somewhere far away. “To you, Lottie. My perfect baby girl.” Marianette drank the champagne slowly, letting it sparkle against her tongue. When it was empty, she set it down on the bar. Later she would wash it and put it in its special box. This one never got shattered. It was her reminder of the one thing she never truly forgot. The computer chirped the hour and Marianette shook herself mentally. She picked up a broom to clean up the mess she’d made drinking to long lost love. It was her birthday, but it was almost over. The next day would come soon, with its own work and duties. The ship’s crew liked to get coffee early, so she would need to be ready. It was her birthday. 21 years old now, with a bright future ahead of her. Working a nice bar on a nicer Federation ship, it was a good setup. “At least I’m free.” She lied. By Lt Talia Kaji Ship's Counselor USS Victory
  4. Love & Betrayal A Vulcan Scorned Pon Farr … It is a time of chaos and madness in a Vulcan’s life when Logic and clear thought are as foreign as cowardice is to a Klingon. Every seventh year of a Vulcan’s adult life, a pilgrimage is made home to participate in the Vulcan mating cycle, or die trying. Today is that day for Seltuur. This is the day that he would finally be married to his betrothed, Sivah. The burning fever of his Vulcan blood was rising. He had been meditating constantly to stave off the effects of the Pon Farr. Regardless of his efforts, the chaos would always win over, and logic would fail him. Making matters worse was the lateness of his betrothed. Illogically, she had chosen to join Starfleet. He would change that once he was her husband and could dictate her role in their lives. His views were traditional, and her place was at home. It was logical. He screamed out in brash anger as he grabbed a dresser and flung it easily across the room as if he had tossed a pillow. Grabbing a chair, he tore it apart and began to pound furiously onto the bed with one leg from the chair. His grip on reality was rapidly fading. He needed his betrothed. He needed her now!! “WHERE IS SHE?!?!” he yelled. The priestess who had been tending to him during his time of Pon Farr rushed inside with the crashing sound. She rushed forward to touch his forehead in order to relay calming thoughts. He resisted at first, but she managed to wrestle through enough to get him to listen. “Peace, Seltuur,” she replied, “Peace and Calm … She has arrived. The ceremony will begin within the hour.” It was more her gentle touch, sweet fragrance, and soft voice that calmed him down than her calming thoughts. He steepled his fingers together and nodded quickly as he tried to focus and bottle his rage inside. She helped him into his ceremonial robes and escorted him to the arena where the starting ritual would take place. In the center of the arena, a silvery gong hung. He walked over, picked up the hammer, and struck the gong rhythmically a couple times to begin. The Priestess walked over to the edge and waited for the Betrothed and the rest who would be involved. Within a couple minutes, the entourage had arrived and the ceremony was to begin. Dressed in similar, but more feminine, robes was his betrothed: Sivah. She was strikingly beautiful with brilliant brown eyes, dark shiny black hair, and the figure of a Greek goddess from Earth Mythology. She seemed perfectly calm, however. Not at all like Seltuur, who was deep into his Pon Farr. How she could be so perfectly calm was a mystery to him. Another mystery was the other woman with her. This strange guest was clearly an off-worlder, and a member of Starfleet by the uniform. She was pretty as humans go, blond, with pretty green eyes, and a good figure. Her identity was revealed when the High Priestess addressed Sivah. “Sivah? Thee brings off worlders to thy sacred rite?” Sivah gave a nod to the blond with her, “She is my friend, Angelica Bishop. It is my right to have her here.” The High Priestess nodded and looked to Angelica, “Since thee is an off worlder, we do not expect thee to understand. If thee has any questions, they will be answered after.” Angelica gave a respectful bow, “Thank you, my lady.” The High Priestess bowed her head in return, seeming to appreciate the gesture of respect. She motioned with her hand to begin the Koon-ut-kal-if-fee. Seltuur lifted the hammer to strike the gong and begin the marriage when Sivah marched over, and placed her hand in the way and shouted her choice. “Kal-if-fee!!” Seltuur dropped the hammer and looked to the High Priestess, who raised an eyebrow to Sivah, “who will be thy champion?” Sivah closed her eyes, and silently went over her plan again. Deep down, she didn’t like Seltuur. She barely knew him, but knew his family. As the days of their marriage approached, she kept getting letters from him, dictating his dissatisfaction with her being in Starfleet. She knew this would be the one and only time to finally be away from him. She had to choose her champion carefully. There was only one thing she wanted, but she had to be careful in order to not reveal her plan too soon. When she made her choice, the silent gasps of those present filled the arena. She stood before the Priestess who had been tending to Seltuur, and pointed, “I choose her!” “This is highly unusual,” remarked the High Priestess as she nodded to the chosen Champion. The Priestess stepped forward as she was given the Lirpa by one of the guards. Seltuur was given the other. With a shout from the High Priestess, the challenge began with the collision of both of the lirpa. The Priestess was outmatched and hesitant, but her grace and dexterity gave her an advantage. She was able to dodge and weave Seltuur’s furious blows. Normally, women don’t fight in the challenges. Why was she chosen? What would Sivah see in her as a potential mate? Why would Sivah want a woman as her mate? It was illogical. Sivah watched coldly as the challenge went forward. Seltuur was fast and hit hard. The Priestess she chose as her champion was rapidly losing ground. She gave a subtle glance around to see the looks of confusion on their faces as to why she selected a woman instead of a man. She knew it was illogical, but her reasons would be revealed soon. It was an illogical decision made at the most illogical moment of her life. However, as the saying goes, there was logic behind her madness. The challenge ended as expected. Seltuur bested the champion. It was a brilliant flurry of attacks that started with a blocked downward slash, which was followed through with an upward strike from the blunt end that became a hard smack to the Priestess’s stomach. She dropped her lirpa and grabbed her stomach from the hard blow. This opened up for the perfect finisher, which was a slash across the throat that nearly beheaded the Priestess. The blood fever was over with the winning of the challenge. Seltuur was regaining his logic and his senses, and the consequences of what he had done was hitting him. He hid his feelings well. Now it was time for some answers. Carefully, he approached his betrothed, and took a moment to study her. Sivah stared back with coldness in her eyes. “Explain,” he demanded. “Why choose the challenge? Why choose the Priestess? Why did you not want me?” She raised an eyebrow, “You are not the same man I had been betrothed to, Seltuur. You have become arrogant, traditional, and a dictator. Furthermore, you have betrayed our betrothal.” “Explain,” he demanded. She held out copies of his letters on a datapad. The most recent was a letter she received a few days ago at the start of the Pon Farr. The look in his eyes shows that he recognized it. She handed it to the High Priestess. Sivah went on to explain, “You did not want me, Seltuur. You wanted the Priestess, but she could not be yours because of her oath. In the illogic of your Pon Farr, you sent me the love letter you meant for her. Angelica helped me to come to my senses and see reason. When the time came, I chose the Kal-if-fee, and chose the woman you truly wanted as your bride.” The High Priestess spoke up as she glared at Seltuur, “Thee has disgraced thyself.” She waved a hand to have the guard escort Seltuur from the arena, and then turned to Sivah, “Thee is free from betrothal. Return to thy career.” Sivah bowed respectfully, “Thank you, High Priestess.” Sivah and Angelica quietly walked to the shuttle they used to get there to Vulcan. Sivah stepped in first, followed by Angelica. Once the door was closed and they were alone, Sivah grabbed Angelica and pulled her close. Their lips met in a deep kiss with their fingers caressing together in the Vulcan sign of intimacy and marriage. fin
  5. Out There July 20, 2169 Dimitri was a very happy man. He woke up more content than ever. He and Irina had been friends as long as he could remember, which made sense as they were born only 4 months apart and lived right next door to one another all their lives. This morning was different though, for after 23 years of sharing everything from babysitters and playpens, the barracks at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and everything in between, the one thing they had never shared was a bed. Dimitri had been in love with Irina ever since the first hints of puberty hit, but he had never said or done anything out of fear of losing the girl who was as more of a sister than his real sister was. Irina likely felt the same, as she never hinted at any romantic interest even though she didn’t date much. She was also always locked away in her apartment practicing that violin of hers. It was only the sudden attack by the Romulans that ended her plans for a life of music and found both of them joining the marines together to defend their planet. Even through four years at the academy and the end to the Earth-Romulan war the two had remained the strongest of friends, but neither had had the courage to move things to the next level. It was only when Irina was selected for the USS Columbia and her five-year-mission that she had finally told him how she really felt. Of course Dimitri hated the fact that she had been in love with him all of those years that he had been in love with her, and neither had said or done anything about it. But now, on the morning she was set to depart with the Columbia for parts uncharted, he woke up with a smile, not to mention her face nuzzled on his naked chest. It had been a long and wonderful night, far better than he had ever imagined it could be. November 18, 2169 Dimitri had moved mountains, or at least starships, freighters, lots of red tape and even the Vulcan high command to make this possible. The string of relays was extremely complex. The powerful Luna base transmitter’s signal was the longest-ranged system available to Earth, but Columbia was so far out that the signal needed to relay off the Centauri gateway station, a Bolian freighter, Columbia’s sister ship Enterprise and even a Vulcan battleship to finally reach the USS Columbia’s communications range. It was worth the effort, however, and Dimitri would have even reached out to the hostile Klingons and their vanquished Romulan adversaries if necessary after learning in her last letter that Irina was pregnant with their child. Two more letters back and forth, one for him to propose and the other for her to accept and the plan was in motion. It wasn’t a legal ceremony, but that didn’t stop him. Both the communications room on the Columbia and the one at Luna base were decorated for a traditional Russian wedding or at least a miniature version thereof. The Russian Orthodox chaplain was standing just behind him and both sets of parents were all crammed into the tiny communications hub. It was only the physical placement of the ring and final kiss that stood in the way of the ceremony’s legality as both had digitally signed all of the required documents. It would be good enough for now. Columbia was due to rendezvous with a Vulcan ship for crew rotation, and the now 4-months-pregnant Irina was at the top of the list of reassignment. They could make it legal then, but at least in the eyes of god and their family, baby Katya would be born inside of wedlock. “The link is established Lieutenant” Luna’s communications tech announced and immediately everyone moved into their respective places. May 7, 2172 Dimitri read the headline again. He just couldn’t believe it. Hadn’t the Romulans surrendered over a decade ago? He didn’t care if this meant a return to war, he just focused on the single word “Columbia”. Irina was supposed to be transferred off that ship two-years-ago, but the rendezvous with the Vulcan ship never happened and the decision was made to not make another crew rotation attempt. Katya was born on a starship and was probably talking by now, or would be if the Columbia was not lost with all hands after an attack by three unidentified vessels that everyone knew were Romulan. Dimitri just didn’t believe it. There had to be something else going on. Were they on some sort of secret mission? Had they found something that fleet didn’t want public? He just could not accept that his wife and the daughter he had never met were dead. It was not possible. He’d already closed escrow on the little house outside of St. Petersburg and had put in his separation papers to take effect immediately on expiration of his service obligation in late August. November 18, 2199 As the sun went down Dimitri lit two candles in the window as he did every year on the anniversary of his wedding, and again every year on Katya’s birthday. It was the same routine these last thirty years. Light the candles, pour a very tall and strong drink and then sit out on the porch and look up at the stars until he either fell asleep or the sun came up and overpowered the stars. He knew she was still out there somewhere. No debris had ever been recovered, no acknowledgment of any attack by the Romulans or the Klingons, and never a detailed report from Earth Defense or later Starfleet. Dimitri had never married, never moved from the little house outside of St. Petersburg, and never stopped waiting for the love of his life to return home. He took and left jobs, stayed in touch with Irina’s family, but every night he cried himself to sleep and woke every morning to an empty bed and an empty soul. March 10, 2274 Irina’s grand-nephew Igor stood at the head of Dimitri’s grave as he read the eulogy. Most of it was the usual stuff, descriptions of his accomplishments, his education, his record in the Romulan war and his decades of service at the observatory. It was only when he got to the last sentence that his voice broke. “Dimitri is survived by his wife Irina and daughter Katya, who are out there, somewhere in the endless nothing of space.” Major Irina Pavlova Chief Tactical Officer Duronis II Embassy / USS Thunder A
  6. Thank you to each of our many entrants in this round! The judges were extremely pleased with your efforts, and though we had five judges for eleven entries(!), that didn't make deciding upon a winner any easier. But, just in time for Halloween, I'm proud to bring you the results of the "Run Shivers Down My Spine" Writing Challenge for September and October 2014! Our winner, with his story "Heritage of the Lost," is the writer behind Nathaniel Wilmer! We have a rare situation with our runner-up: Our judges rankings' resulted in a tie, which means we have two stories and two writers who will share the honor: "The Touch of the Sleeper," by the writer behind Della Vetri, and "The Last Night on Lookout," by the writer behind Leland Bishop. Congratulations to these three writers and to the rest of our fine entrants! I'd like to recognize my fellow judges for this round: the writers behinds Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Lieutenant Commander Sal Taybrim, Lieutenant Ren Rennyn, and special guest Lieutenant Commander Akeelah D'Sena. Each of them worked hard to make sure that their reviews were thoughtful and detailed and that their rankings were especially well-considered, given the number of stories, and that they were all submitted prior to Halloween. My thanks to them! EDIT: Please also look out for our free, downloadable Writing Challenge collection, coming on Halloween!
  7. 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 "Run Shivers Down My Spine" 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! Also, if you would prefer to have this as an ePub or .mobi file for your Nook or Kindle, let me know by replying below! The conversation is easy, and I'll do it and post new versions if anyone would like. Thanks for reading! Get yours here!
  8. As we leave summer and move towards the cool fall (for some, at least -- it was still over 100ºF for me today!), I ask you to throw your thoughts toward the future, and in the spirit of the maybe-not-so-distant-now Halloween, consider our newest Writing Challenge: RUN SHIVERS DOWN MY SPINE Writes Jess, the writer behind Jalana Laxyn and the winner of our previous Challenge, For the next challenge I would like to see something that would run shivers down our spines. Be it something unbelievable, something so touching one gets goosebumps, something so cruel you want to scream, or is it something spooky? What causes shivers for you? Surely there are no shortage of things to trigger your fears from Trek, whether you tend toward the bombastic villains of TOS, the body horror and loss of freedom that the Borg bring, or the frightening clash of political ideology in DS9. But what else might you write? What other fears lurk in the shadows of Trek? As Jess asks, what makes you shiver? We look forward to finding out! As of today, Wednesday, September 3rd, this Challenge is open! We'll ask that all of your submissions come in by Saturday, October 25th -- enough time for the judges to convene and to reveal our Master of Chills and Shivers on Halloween itself! 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. Please also take a look at our new wiki page! And don't forget to get your copy of our mobile compendium of the July & August Challenge! Good luck!
  9. Do you have any general questions about the Writing Challenges, the Hall of Fame, Challenge Champions, or anything else? Please ask here!
  10. (( A Memory )) He had no memories before the age of five, and those memories were of smoke, rock dust, and blood. All of his memories of his early childhood were gone. For the boy, his memories began that dark, choking night on Lookout. He didn't remember birthdays, or the wonder of leaving Earth for a distant world. He didn't recall the pride he knew he must have felt in his parents for leaving everything that was familiar behind and making their destinies in the far reaches of space. He didn't even have a sense of what his parents looked like – other than the last picture that was burned into his right eye before the murderers brought a sharp rock down on it. The picture of his parents bodies mutilated beyond any description a five year old boy could ascribe to it. He did remember the last words he would ever hear his mother say to him. The words she screamed to him as she stood silhouetted in the doorway of their home, back lit by flames and underscored by the screams of the dying... “Lee! Stay here! Hide, Lee! I need you to hide! You are not to come out of this house, do you hear me? No matter what... Whatever you hear outside... Stay here, sweetheart... I love...” His fathers arm had pulled her through the door before she could finish. Into the night and into death. The killers came to Ceres IX shortly after the sun had set. The long shadows of their hulking forms blotting out the faces of their victims as their long blades closed in. The shadows... and then the wet sounds and screams cut short. Little Lee could not know why his parents had gone out into that dusky Hell. Only later could he speculate that were trying to lead them away from him. At that moment however, and forever in his memory... His parents left him alone with monsters at the door. He hid in a small dark space between his bed and the wall and listened as Ceres IX – Called Lookout – became a slaughterhouse. He wouldn't know until later that the monsters were Klingons, they very people who his father had come to negotiate with on that barren rock. In the fading light, they had become nightmare shapes barking in their strange language as they moved among the huddled homes of the colony. He saw them moving past the doorway... Past the window... Moving with their cruel knives and hunting down the people who's only crime was to be living on a planet that had suddenly become valuable overnight. He vaguely recalled a discovery... Or the talk of a discovery... In the mines. The adults had talked about it only a few nights before. It was something exciting... He remembered that. His parents friends were celebrating it... They thought that all their hard work would be rewarded. It was rewarded. With pain. Only later would he learn that these particular demons weren't the gruff, swarthy people his father had traded with for months. They were outlaws. Pirates who had intercepted a stray communication about the mineral strike and were looking to make a quick profit. He only learned it later, after years of studying their harsh and brutal language and reading Starfleet after-action reports. Reports that made what happened that night seem so... clinical. Lee had been a quiet little boy who loved his books and played games in his own imagination. Now he saw the children he would never get to know being pulled behind their captors. By their hair... By their legs. Sometimes to a dark corner, but more often simply to the center of the main road. He watched them being cut down and left in a growing pile. Children he would never know or laugh with. If he ever laughed again. The crashing, breaking, and screaming night seemed to last forever. More likely only an hour or more. An hour that ruined the innocence of little Leland Bishop (he would never be called Lee again) and set him on a bitter course that would twist him and tear at him for the rest of his life. His mother came to the door one last time, but he would never be sure if she could see his face in those final moments. Her face was a mask of blood. One side almost completely burned away by the green flame of a disruptor beam. For the last time in his life Lee allowed himself the luxury of tears, the luxury of screaming... He crept to the door with one last desperate hope that his mother might hold him again. But his movement caught the eye of one of the monsters. His hand had only brushed her hair when a grip like iron came down on his neck. All he wanted was to die in that moment. To be free of all this horror. His captor tried to oblige him. His feet scraped they gray rock as he was pulled by his hair to the pile of bodies in the center of town. When he was hurled atop them he landed cheek to stubbled cheek with the body of a burly man his father had known well... One of the geologists... Leland lay there screaming against the dead man watching as the dark creature above him put it's knife away. He could not see it's eyes but he could still feel their gaze. The beast had put its knife away because it didn't feel Leland was worth the stroke... Somehow he knew that. The shadow picked up a jagged rock and raised it over the little boys head. As it came down on his right eye to blot out the world, Leland Bishop thought: How sad it was that the poor man beneath him hadn't had time to shave. Leland Bishop Diplomatic Attache USS Victory
  11. Dawn's Early Light by Lt. Commander Hannibal Tiberious Parker (( Late 2373, Fire Base Sierra, Planet TR 144, Tyra System )) ::The planet wasn't much... Class M, smaller than Earth, similar gravity...unremarkable in its natural resources or of much importance other than a beachhead against the Dominion. It was here the 282nd of the Starfleet Marines had engaged Dominion forces for the previous two weeks. Time after time, they drove off the drug-addled monsters, managing to keep their base camp from being overrun. Neither side had managed a clear advantage over the other, and in the skies above, Starfleet and Dominion forces engaged in a deadly cat and mouse game of survival. There had been talk of a major engagement by the fleet, but as far as Sargent Hannibal Parker was concerned, it was all talk. They had supplies, comms, and ammo. Power for the base camp kept the Jem'Haddar out due to the force fields they had put up...but they had to go outside the force fields to engage the enemy.:: ::The Marines held the high ground, with the Jem'Haddar camp three clicks away. The land between them was a rabbit warren of scorched earth, craters, and destroyed foliage. Smoke rose from the gulf between the two camps, and from their vantage point, Hannibal and his men could see the beginnings of some sort of structure. Intelligence told them it was a ketracel white facility, and their job was to eliminate it.:: ::Going into the communications bunker, Hannibal went to speak to the commanding officer, Colonel Sampson. The look on his face never seemed to change...he would have been a good poker player, his grey eyes set into his head with a way that would look right through you. They had been on this rock for three weeks, and he had not ever seen the man smile...but there was not a great deal to smile about. There were once two hundred and fifty Marines here..they were down to one hundred and twenty five. Looking down on the much smaller man, the Colonel spoke, raising his voice over the whine of a fighter squadron swooping down on the Jem'Haddar..:: Sampson: Looks like those fighters are going to do the job for us, Sargent... ::A thunderous explosion, felt more than seen, rumbled through the bunker. Looking outside, four mushroom clouds, flecked with flame and smoke, rode their way ominously skyward, the booms from sympathetic explosions rocking the void between them...:: Parker: We'll see, Sir...those [...]s are proving to be quite hard to kill. Sampson: That should take care of them. Indeed it should. Starfleet at the moment ruled the skies and the space above it, which could only mean one of two things...the Dominion was busy elsewhere, and losing the facility was the cost of doing business, or they really were going to keep a grip on the sector...which meant the Sovereign Class USS Charleston would be back to pick them up in short order. No doubt he could use a shower, as could everyone else in the unit by then. ::Sitting at the Communications console, a Starfleet Lieutenant... Carlson? turned to speak to the General...his flushed face told Hannibal that whatever it was, had to be important...:: Carlson: Sir..this just came in from Admiral Ross. The fleet is engaging the Dominion. The Charleston is recovering their fighters and going to join the fleet. ::Hannibal didn't like that one bit. Sure, the Jem'Haddar had been dealt with for now, but there was always a chance there were survivors, or something would put them back in the fight. Without air cover. Looking back at the Colonel, he spoke..:: Sampson: All we have to do is sit tight till this thing is over, Sargent. ::Turning to a subordinate, Colonel Sampson issued another set of orders...::: Sampson: Stand down from alert status, and lower the shields. Save the power for when we need it. ::The subordinate nodded, and the hum from the shield went away. Something in the back of Hannibals' mind told him it was a very bad idea, and that feeling of dread only increased as the hours passed.:: :: Eating chow in the mess tent four hours later, Hannibals' worst fears were realized as the Starfleet Lieutenant raced out of the command bunker, his face white with fear and shock. The Colonel, sitting at the head of one of the mess tables, stood up as the man approached.::: Carlson: Colonel! The fleets' gone! :: All conversation stopped dead with the news. If what he was saying was true, they were marooned, behind enemy lines...:: Sampson: What the hell are you talking about? There were over a hundred ships in that fleet! Confirm that last report.. Carlson: I did Sir...I'm only getting ID's from ten ships. Ten out of 112......... :: Their worst nightmare was coming true. They were trapped, behind enemy lines, and it was only just beginning. One hundred and twenty five Marines on the verge of being slaughtered by a relentless enemy. The Jem'Haddar were not interested in taking Marines as prisoners, and everyone in that tent knew it. Colonel Sampson stood up, his face resolute, his voice calm..:: Sampson: Hannibal, get your men ready to fight. Set the perimeter. Carlson, get those shields back up and get an inventory of our supplies. Make sure our sensors can track incoming ships, friend or foe. ::Before Hannibal could answer, Carlson spoke again, his voice tinged with fear...:: Carlson: General...should I send a distress signal? :: With a finality as solid as permacrete, he spoke...:: Sampson: The only one who will hear it will be the Jem'Haddar, Lieutenant....on your way...Hannibal, you too. Lock this place down. Parker: Aye, Sir... Carlson: Will do, Colonel. :: Picking up his rifle, making sure it had a fresh power cell, he spoke to the Marines in the room...:: Parker: Get all the water, ammo, rations and grenades you can carry. You know the drill. We got company coming. Pass the word. Move it! :: The scraping of boots and clang of weapons as the Marines gathered their weapons and made their way over to the makeshift armory, all the while passing the word to the other Marines on watch. Marines took extra ammo, food and water to their compatriots on the line. Hannibal took his position forward, looking out over the now burned out Jem'Haddar position. The waiting game had now begun..::: :: Day turned to night, and with no moon and no lighting, the Marine camp was black as a tomb. The occasional shimmering from the shields was the only light, its brief illumination just enough to temporarily ruin his night vision. A light on the horizon, too low to be a ship, arched high into the sky, followed by a shriek that sounded like ripping heavy burlap...:: Parker: INCOMING!!!! :: The warhead slammed into the shields, the sound of the explosion cracking against his ears. Another. Then another. Screams from the Marines, holding their ears as those closest to the impact point had their eardrums shattered by the impacts. With each succeeding blast, the shields flared less and less blue, and began to flare red. The shields were failing, until one final fusillade took them down for good. The sounds of explosions now replaced by darkness and calls for medics, who rushed from the command bunker to treat the injured.Hannibal could hear the Colonel calling for status reports, wanting to know how fast they could get the shields back up. The reply was cut off as the assault began anew, this time the first shell slammed into the command bunker, the concussion knocking Hannibal off his feet, debris raining down upon the besieged Marines.:: :: Hannibal was furious. They were being methodically chewed to pieces by long range artillery they somehow managed to get to the surface. The command bunker, along with Colonel Sampson, was gone, consumed in the fire started by the artillery barrage. The power supply was gone. So far, their stocks of food and water were unscathed. They still had plenty of ammo, but no one to shoot at. The surviving medics did what they could, patching up the wounded, and those who could not be saved were given a lethal dose of painkiller. Fortunately, they still had medical supplies, so they could at least survive until the bitter end, which Hannibal knew was coming.:: :: A quick survey of the medics and surviving Marines told the tale. Hannibal and one other Sergeant, Thompson, were the only surviving officers. Twenty nine Marines, including the Colonell, were dead, with another nineteen wounded. That left only seventy seven fully whole Marines out of two hundred and fifty they hit the rock with. He didn't know if any would be left by morning:: :: There was no place to hide, no place for cover. Those who could fight stayed on the line, phaser rifles at the ready. Others were collecting weapons and supplies from the dead, and placing the dead in body bags.. They worked quickly, never knowing when incoming fire would interrupt the process of collecting the dead. Hannibal knew only one thing...if he was going to die on this rock, he was going to die like a Marine. He didn't fear it...he embraced it...The only possible good news was that they knew that they were facing Cardassian artillery, thanks to a few fragments they found...which meant that this part of the system the Dominion allowed the Cardassians to control. Now, if they would only come out and fight. Cardassians were brutal, but at least you could see them coming and they stayed down when shot.:: :: Working his way around the camp, Hannibal found one man, a Starfleet Ensign. He had dove into a shell crater to escape the bombardment. Curled into a fetal position, he was almost hysterical, shaking as though he was being electrocuted. Babbling to himself, Hannibal first felt pity for the man...then anger. Kneeling down into the crater, Hannibal jerked the man up, the Ensigns' eyes filled with terror..:: Parker: Ensign...ENSIGN! PULL IT TOGETHER! :: The young man tried to pull away, but Hannibals' grip only tightened on the mans’ uniform.::: Ensign: THE FLEETS' GONE! WE'RE GOING TO DIE HERE! THEY ARE GOING TO COME IN HERE AND KILL US ALL! WE GOTTA… :: Before he knew it, Hannibal backhanded the Ensign, then slapped him again, splitting his lip. Drawing his Bowie knife and placing it under his chin, Hannibal spoke to him in a voice more chilling than the enemy itself…:: Parker: WE are going to fight until we can’t. To the last man. WE are going to stay here and DO OUR JOB! If you try to run, I will kill you myself. IS THAT CLEAR!!! :: The young man was still shaking, but the haunted look in his eyes began to fade. Hannibals’ lip was quivering in anger, and only then did he realize his outburst had drawn a crowd. With Sergeant Thompson watching him from a distance, Hannibal continued…::: Parker: Fear is a choice, Ensign. Choose to live. Choose to fight. Choose to die. Now. :: Hannibal had no use for cowards, and he had decided if the young man wanted to die, his knife would make quick work of him right here and right now. Slightly moving the knife away from his chin, the man nodded..:: Parker: Good. Now get your [...] on the line. When they come over that hill, just keep pulling that trigger until you’re dry, then snap in a new clip. Can you do that? Ensign::nodding:: Yes sir…… :: Watching the young man take his place, Hannibal took his, and waited for daybreak. It wasn’t long before the sounds of incoming fire drew their attention…:: Parker: HERE WE GO MARINES!!!!!! :: Checking his combat tricorder, he could see it was being jammed. As the rounds began to fall around the compound, the explosions were smaller,which meant mortars..which meant a ground assault was imminent. They still had mortars, but because they could not see exactly where their enemy was, they could only guess in the darkness before dawn. The Marines lit the sky with their mortars, pounding the positions they thought the enemy was located. A bright flash from the former hilltop held by the Jem’Haddar told them they had hit paydirt. Round after round dropped on the enemy position, fanning out from that position, until enemy fire stopped falling. Lighting off a tracer round, they found what they were looking for as dawn broke above the embattled forces. Cardassian soldiers were moving through the no mans land between the two positions. This was the moment of truth. There were at least three hundred Cardassians moving towards them, spreading out so they were not such easy targets. Surprised by being lit up, they began to run towards the Marines. Thompsons’ voice rang out…:: Thompson: Wait for my signal. Make every shot count! Grenades at the ready! Let ‘em have it! :: The thump of grenade launchers put up a wall of shrapnel, slicing into the Cardassians, but they were not enough against them. Inside phaser range, Thompson sang out again…:: Thompson: It’s been an honor...FIRE AT WILL!!!! Parker: YES SIR! :: From behind their sandbag barricades, the Marines cut loose, the blue beams from their rifles contrasting the the red beams from Cardassian weaponry. It seemed like the more they dropped, more took their place. Shots hit the sandbags around Hannibal, one slicing through and catching him in the hip. He was grazed pretty deeply, but he ignored the pain and fought on. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Ensign who had been cowering in a shell crater, drop his rifle and began to run away..:: Parker: ENSIGN! GET YOUR… :: It was too late. A disruptor blast caught him in the back, and as he spun around, another caught him in the head. He was finished..:: :: Only seventy five yards separated the Cardassians from the Marines. Most of the Marines had grenade launchers attached to their rifles, but once they had expended them, the fire was too intense to reload them. Throwing them from behind the wall blind was their only option as the enemy crept even closer. A Marine next to Hannibal went down, a perfect hole blown in his chest. Running between positions, Thompson was cut down. It was now only a matter of time before the Cardassians would move to outflank them...they still had superior numbers, and if they managed to accomplish it, game over. The Cardassians would pay dearly, but the Marines would lose the battle. Slapping another clip into his rifle, Hannibal was making his superior marksmanship work for him, cutting down the reptilian troops with abandon. Above the din of dead and dying men and women, a flash of light and heat blew Hannibal back off the line..:: Parker:Oo This is it..Oo :: Hannibals’ greatest fear was to die a dishonorable death. When he was younger, his father told him the greatest thing a warrior could do was to die with honor. There was nothing more honorable than dying in a last stand against innumerable odds , and he only wished that his day to honor his father would come a little later than today. If anyone found his body, there would be no doubt about how he died, facing his enemies, gun or knife in hand.:: :: Another blast..then another. Either the rounds were falling short and the Cardassians were cutting down their own men, or...hope beyond hope, there was a Federation starship up there providing fire support. Whatever it was, the rate of fire from the Cardassians was easing, and the Marines poured it on between the blasts. In another ten seconds, all firing had stopped coming from the Cardassians... the battle for Fire Base Sierra was over. An eerie quiet settled over the battlefield, and as the smoke cleared, it revealed a sea of dead Cardassians mingled with the previously killed Jem’ Haddar. Out of that quiet, a voice Hannibal thought he would never hear again came over his commbadge..it was Captain Taylor of the USS Charleston.:: Taylor: =/\= This is Captain Taylor of the USS Charleston. Any commanding officer please respond.=/\= :: Thinking it was a trap, Hannibal responded, and asked a question only the captain would know…:: Parker: =/\= This is Sargeant Parker, Captain. How many days did I get in the brig for drunk and disorderly at Starbase One?=/\= Taylor: =/\= None. The charges were dropped. You’ve got ten minutes to get your people together and get off that rock before we need to bug out. We’ll destroy what you can’t take from orbit.=/\= Parker:=/\ Copy that, Captain, and thanks for the air strike. Parker out.=/\= :: It was indeed Captain Taylor all right. Looking around at his spent Marines, he yelled out to them..:: Parker: We’re bugging out! Get the wounded ready to travel! :: In short order, the wounded, the dead, and the surviving Marines were back on board the Charleston. His first stop was Sick Bay, where he could get his hip tended to. They still had to make it out of the occupied area and into Federation space, but he felt confident that if Captain Taylor could escape the carnage of the battle, he could certainly get them home…:: Sargeant Hannibal Tiberious Parker Starfleet Marines Lt. Commander Hannibal Tiberious Parker First Officer Embassy, Duronis II/USS Thunder
  12. ( USS AMAZON ) ( IC ) -Captain’s log, stardate 240108.7, we’ve arrived at Romu’in space and we’ve detected one of their ships waiting for us. Starfleet had just a dozen of contacts with this species, they’re still a mystery to us, but other sources catalog them as strange creatures with even more strange ways of being. We just know that they’re bipedal reptiles whose population is mostly composed of male adults and most of them are dedicated to the military branch. The Columbus will be the first ship to be allowed to get to their home planet so I’ll need all my diplomatic skills to cause a good first impression.- :: Captain Rashuu stood from the captain’s chair and moved to the center of the bridge :: Rashuu: Open a channel :: The audio signal indicated that the channel was open. :: This is captain Rashuu from the Starfleet vessel Columbus to the Romu’in ship in front of us. Do you receive us? Romu’inan: Starfleet vessel Columbus, this is the vessel Krillari, we’re here to provide escort to our home planet. You’ll follow us and abstain to do any active scans as we progress in our territory. Rashuu: Understood Krillari, we’ll follow your lead. :: The channel closed and Rashuu returned to his seat. :: The probe is in place, right? Sheridan: :: The FO turned to his captain:: Yes sir, half light year away, ready to be activated upon need. :: The Saurian has always been one to be bold to get to combat but years of experience showed him that it’s better to have an ace up his sleeve, just in case. For about twelve hours they get inside the Romu’in territory at warp three. In the way, ships were gradually adding themselves as escort, first two, then two more, this way until there were ten ships enveloping them at a distance of about two hundred thousand kilometers. The Saurian didn’t like it, but he can’t do anything that would jeopardize the talks.:: :: Finally they get to their destination. The escorts left and remained on the outskirts of the system and the Krillari was the only one left. They guided them to a low orbit where they waited. Finally they’re given the transport coordinates. Rashuu moved towards the lift and was met on the transporter with his team and then beamed down. :: :: The reception hall was a bit somber, but enough to see clearly the group that was waiting for them. The place has a lot of holes on the ceiling and walls and some trees passed through those holes, he wasn’t sure if this could be an issue if a storm arrives at the place, but the place was humid enough for the Saurian to feel comfortable, unlike the standard Starfleet environments that were a bit dry for his taste. His gaze fell then on the group waiting them. There were four of them, Rashuu made a step forward. :: Rashuu: I’m captain Rashuu. Torka: I’m primer Torka, I’ve been assigned as your liaison with our people. Those are my assistants, Saruin minister of medicine and Lel’otep minister of external affairs. Rashuu: My pleasure. This is my Chief medical officer Dr. Scott , my Chief science officer Baldwin and the Lieutenant Shar’wyn. :: Rashuu avoided saying that it was a security officer, the woman nodded politely with his right arm just in front of the weapon holster, hiding discretely the weapon.:: Torka: I must say that I’m surprised that you’re the captain of a ship of this Federation. Rashuu: Really? I hope it’s a good surprise. Torka: You must say that. So far the only contact we had with Federation Vessels was with the ones called humans and two called Vulcans. Seeing that there’s someone with… a reptile ascendance… is good. At least you’re more… easy to see than those mammals. Rashuu: :: he looked at his companions :: I used to think the same when I first saw them after leaving my home planet, but what they may lack in that field, they compensate with a wide variety of attributes. Torka: I see… You may follow me, I’ll give you a tour of the province. I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to guide you to the main province, but the Master Leader believes that my province can show you how we are and teach you what you might want to know. Rashuu: I’m sure that your province is perfect for us. Given that we have never been here, I’m honored that you accepted to receive us. Torka: It’s not that I asked for it, I just follow the Master Leader instructions. This is how things work here. Rashuu: Similar to Starfleet. Being the military branch of the Federation we follow a chain of command. For example, they follow my orders as I follow those of my commanding officers. I understand that your people follow a military life. Is that for everyone or just the males? :: They walked through the building to an open street :: Torka: We all do military service and train for that since we are a child. Our jungles are dangerous so everyone must be ready to fight for their life’s. That’s how we live since we are born. Scott: You mean that since birth you’re ready to take some military training? Torka: :: The primer looked at the human that slowed its pace as it was being looked :: Kind of… our newborns fight for food since they hatch the eggs. The weaker ones either die on the fight or if they manage to survive and get food are relegated to simpler tasks. That’s how we become strong. Scott: I see… :: The doctor looked at the group with a different look. Obviously if they’ve reached those important positions, others may have suffered a worse destiny. It could seem cruel, but obviously it depends on the crystal you look through. Saruin: Maybe the good doctor would like to have a look at our medical station. We have a hatchling about to ‘bloom’. It should be interesting for him to see. :: The female looked at the doctor, to whom she was about a quarter of a feet taller. :: Torka: Are you interested? :: said the primer with a grin drawn in his smile:: Scott : :: gulping a bit :: I will, as long as my captain agrees. Rashuu: :: He looked at the good doctor and understood what was between lines. :: Yes, I have no objection, but I’m sure that Lieutenant Shar’wyn is also interested in that. Shar’wyn: :: she grinned at the comment but the look and years of serving with Rashuu allowed her to understand his statement :: Of course, they are an awesome species and I’d like to know more about them. Rashuu: Good, Baldwin, you’re with me. :: The good doctor along with the Security officer moved away with the female Minister of medicine while Rashuu accompanied the primer to a tourist visit and Baldwin tried to know more about their technology, given that they seem to be quite integrated in their environment. :: :: On their way towards another complex they could see the vast vegetation of the planet and how the Romu’ians developed their infrastructures bordering the natural ways of it, using the trees as part of them. They saw a clear in the forest that was used as instruction site, but only as a starting point. :: Saruin: We start learning to live in the jungle since we are very young. There you can see some kids, they are about seven rotations, but they already know how to survive in our jungles. Scott: What’s that? Is that a monkey tied up there? Saruin: Yes,… an anatomy lesson. They must learn how to hunt them and how to quicken up the resistance. It’s what makes us the greatest of this planet. Scott: But,.. It’s still alive… Saruin: Of course… :: She looked at the mammal surprised that such a fearsome creature was in the military of the Federation :: Shar’wyn: Nothing like a live prey to teach the youngling, right? Saruin: Exactly. It’s the fastest way to teach them. Shar’wyn: I see your point. We use holodecks for that kind of training. Saruin: Holodecks? Shar’wyn: Yes, holographic representations with physical form. Allows you to study whatever you want. You can see a body and pay attention to details. In your case you could have one of that augmented to show them clearly how their bodies work and then make a moving one or a hundred for them to practice. Saruin: mmm… interesting. Unlimited numbers of test subjects… I… doubt that the training could be the same, but we’ll have to see. Now come, they’re starting to pay attention to us, and they don’t like to be observed by outsiders. :: The group moved along but the instructor along with the kids followed them with their eyes and the gestures of the instructor weren’t exactly the most pleasing ones, and even less when he signaled the monkey-like creature and used his nails to open up wounds on major arteries… blood splitting the floor and then throw it to the kids to watch and… who knows, maybe have a little snack.:: :: Doctor Scott was amazed by the birthing bay, underground, with metal structures holding the place but with the humid soil being the resting place of the eggs. Some of the workers looked at them and hissed between them words that he didn’t understand, but soon he saw something that called his attention. :: Scott: What’s this man doing in there? :: It was a man, sitting on the ground inside a kind of cell, with only one door. He seemed to be waiting, barely dressed with some kind of pants and a light T-shirt. :: Saruin: Oh, this one comes to make a final service to our community. Shar’wyn: Final service? What do you mean? Saruin: Well, it’s a tradition of our legal system. This man was found guilty of continuously having diverted food and materials to his own benefit and of others around him. That made part of this province to have to endure hard times during the winter and some of our youngers died because of that. His sentence was to make a final act or repairing to the society. Shar’wyn: What does have to do with this place? Saruin: He… serves to two purposes. You’ll see… it’s about to start. I… hope that you’re not easily impressionable as we’re told that you are. :: Then a sound was heard and almost all the workers surrounded the cage where the man was waiting. He stood and looked at the door that started to open from downwards, there were a few moments of silence when the presents started to say something in their own language. It was repetitive and escalated in sound. A few moments later, a young Romu’inan appeared from the dark and looked at the man. A second later it let out a shrieekk sound and dozens of the little creatures appeared behind and all of them launched towards the man. They were ferocious and despite that the male started by kicking one, two, three of them, soon about four of them jumped over him and he started to grab them, but then three more jumped on his back and others on his legs. They started to bit him and despite that their fangs weren’t large, they were sharp and bits of blood started to taint the male’s body. He continued to spin around trying to get rid of them, but simply there were too much of them. Soon a pair of them crawled to the head and the man get rid of them, but not before one of them bites him in one eye, what made the man yell. The public began to chorus another word and the little Romu’inans overwhelmed the man’s legs, making him put one knee on the ground. Scott ceased to look at the scene and looked at the others presents in the room, almost making a step back, but Shar’wyn put his arm on his back to make him stay. :: Shar’wyn: Doctor, if you leave now, you’ll look weak to those people. This is not the time for that. Scott: But that’s… a carnage. Shar’wyn: Look anywhere else, but don’t leave. :: Shar’wyn knew that looking weak in front of predators was the last thing to do, less when you’re surrounded and in number inferiority. His gaze returned to the place where the man knelt the second leg and all the little ones started to cover him. It was a classical example of Death from a thousand cuts. Soon the shouts and yellings and shrieks muted to just a mumbling of the flesh being devoured of a corpse with no life. :: Saruin: Mm… :: she said finally looking at them. :: You were lucky, those cases are rare lately. As I told you this is a last service for the dishonored and punished for big crimes. They serve as food four our little ones, showing them to fight for their food if needed and second, it shows the little ones that a group is stronger than an individual, no matter how big and strong it might seem. This unity is what forges our strong community. Does your Federation have a similar ritual? Scott: I think… I don’t… :: Without being able to avoid it the good doctor vomit poured out of him. Saruin made a step back and Shar’wyn moved to help the good doctor not to fall on the ground. :: Shar’wyn: :: Trying to appear to be in one piece after the show :: I told him not to come. He wasn’t feeling well, but he wanted to do his duty nonetheless… Sorry for that. Saruin: Oh…:: suspiciously :: I see… very.. dedicated to be coming in that state. Don’t worry about that,… We always try to see the good point of everything. In this case, we’ll clean it and will help us to know the… human physiology. Specially their digestive system. :: She made a gesture with her fingers and a group of workers collected the contents of the vomit the doctor had just spilled around him in a container and cleaned the residual remainings as the doctor and the security officer moved away. :: Saruin: Perhaps this will be a good moment to get back with your captain… Shar’wyn: Sure. Saruin: Please this way… :: The two followed the female minister of medicine and entered a darker corridor of the underground very humid and with the roots of some trees showing up through the walls. Shar’wyn was not all relaxed as she didn’t like those corridors. Too dark, becoming narrower each corner, his sixth sense calling him to grab his phaser but his rational side telling him not to do it yet. :: Saruin: Take care of the roots. We try to co-exist with the fauna and respect them the most we can. You can easily trip over some of them. :: Then she turned a corner and when the two officers did something hit them in the back of the head and fell unconscious to the ground. :: :: Saruin turned and approached the two humanoids and drew a smile in her big toothy mouth. Calling up two other Romu’inans instructed them on how to proceed. :: Saruin: You know what to do. And make it quick! :: Meanwhile Rashuu and Baldwin were talking with Primer Torka and enjoying some delicacies freshly made for them. :: To be continued? Cmdr. Marcus Dickens 2nd officer & CSO USS Atlantis NCC-74682
  13. Blunt Forces She felt herself falling backward more then what she stumbled on. As she fell her mind seemed to be processing information at warp speeds which made time seem to stand still but in reality it only took seconds for her to hit the ground. Adrenal coursed through her body, training raged in her mind attempting to dictate her actions and fear fought to quash both of those survival mechanisms and more. As she touched the ground she immediately rolled to her left amazed she hadn’t broken either of her arms in her descent but in truth all she cared about was avoiding the black blade that landed where her head had just been a second earlier. Her eyes went wide in a terror that surpassed every feeling she had had since arriving in that ancient supposedly abandoned monastery. She felt like screaming but couldn’t get a peep out as she watched a second blade plunging toward her with unquestionably lethal intent. Though the monster, or automated weapon system drone, before her knew no other way. She didn’t want to think of that though just as the bladed weapon that was about to kill her seemed to be as black as the void of space and being swung with a force that would make even the most brutal of Klingon warriors fearful. No, if that was to be her last moment she wanted something else, anything else. She knew after everything that she had seen on that training mission that a pleasant thought wasn’t something that was so easily conjured to the point that she would have had an easier time reciting the temporal prime directive word for word. Despite her desire to defy the mental images plaguing her it seemed rather pointless as the blade was still being thrust toward her and it was too late to move again even if she could think of a direction or better yet a plan of attack. Time seemed to slow again dragging out the inevitable. But at the last second a brilliant flash of red light struck the beastly attacker pushing it back. Then another blast hit it and she found herself thinking more and succumbing to the terror less as if suddenly things weren’t so bleak. So without another second of hesitation she rolled to her belly and crawled away before getting to her feet turning to the newcomer feeling slightly relieved once the monster that had attacked her was render to a pile of incinerated flesh. That relief barely lasted a second though as her savior, who took the form of her commanding officer, spoke and not to kindly at that but she knew this wasn’t the time stand on formalities or niceties. "If you’re done sitting around waiting to be killed, grab your phaser cadet. We are still far from the objective and I don’t have the time to continually save your rear end." her CO said sternly. Looking around she saw the charred remains of several of those monstrosities and about a meter from where she was standing she saw her borrowed hand phaser. As she quickly knelt down to pick it up she found herself remembering the events of several hours before that when she had been given the weapon. As she grasped the weapon to stop her hands from shaking or at least hide the fact she found herself allowing the memories from when she had first been given that particular phaser to overcome her for the moment. *** Cadet Ellen Cain sat in the field laboratory tent feeling, well; she was trying not to feel at that point. In the wake of the first attack and the realisation that she, Commander Melitta Herodion and several civilian scientists had become trapped and besieged by creatures that Ellen could barely identify was becoming too much for her. In fact it was the first time since leaving the Academy on her “cadet cruise” that she wondered if her decision to accept the real world posting, instead of a standard placement on one of SB118’s holo-ships, was the right choice. For the first time she found herself without any answers and struggling to know what path to take as she stared at the analysis on the computer terminal in front of her. Despite that though Ellen jumped to her feet as she heard Commander Herodion approach who almost instantly said “at ease” then in her customary way requested a status update. “This equipment is designed more for imaging and text translation so I haven’t been able to do a full medical analysis.” Ellen said regretfully. Even though the work terminals offered more processing power over that of her tricorder which she patched into the terminal to gain access to its programming and functionality, what she could achieve was still extremely limited. She continued on anyway. “That said I haven’t found a match for the species in my medical tricorder. I would assume they have been genetically engineered based on observations during the attack. Also I have detected extremely high levels of nanites and the remains of other cybernetics.” “And the purpose of that would be?” Commander Herodion probed. “Control over the individual creature, self repair when injured and if I had to guess the limited shape shifting that we witnessed. Hands that turn into swords and the like. It would also explain why phasers had such little effect Sir.” Ellen replied. “I ask this because you are the most competent individual I have at hand, would you be able to form a counter measure to this nanotechnology?” Commander Herodion said simply obviously without a thought as to how Ellen would respond to such a comment. Ellen knew exactly where the Commander was coming from and accepted that but somehow it still felt like an insult. “This really is my brother’s area of expertise, not mine unfortunately. That said though we don’t have the resources on hand or the time to develop a solution even if I did possess the knowledge Commander.” Ellen replied somberly. “I have already reconfigured all available phasers so they should be more effective based on your preliminary data. While the scientists seek shelter in a nearby cave that is still accessible, we are going to find the source of the force field trapping us and destroy it.” Commander Herodion told Ellen. “Once the shield is down we will be able to call for help but it stands to reason that whoever is behind this scheme is also at that location.” Something must have been showing on Ellen's face because Herodion leaned against another nearby workstation and started to talk again but this time without that ice cold edge of detachment that she prided herself on carrying around. Ellen had never seen the woman like that and rarely heard of it either so she didn't know what to expect next. "You know when I was still a marine I went on a training mission which turned out very much similar to this one." Herodion started to say. "My CO hated the idea of using holodecks for training so I lead my squadron on what should have been standard practice manoeuvres inside an asteroid belt. On our way back to our ship, the USS Hornet, however we discovered that our ship had been boarded by pirates." Herodion told Ellen. "Star Fleet command decided that the Hornet could not remain in enemy hands and ordered all nearby forces to intercept which included my squadron. I lost more than half my fighter squadron before we regained control of the ship and it was hours later that additional reinforcements arrived to assist. Most would say that the Galaxy and Sovereign classes are the titans of the fleet but I don't having seen the far outdated Akira class shred a squadron of Star Fleets best star fighters.” The older woman paused to allow her words to sink in. Ellen saw at least on the surface where the Commander had been going with the speech. It was a stereotypical and dearly needed "nothing is impossible" speech. Though Ellen still wasn’t encouraged because in the simplest terms she wasn’t a super soldier like her commanding officer, or at least that was the perception she got from her CO. Ellen was simply a star fleet cadet who happened to be gifted with a photographic memory. "I am not telling you this story to encourage you." Herodion said which caught Ellen off guard. "I am telling you this because we both have a job to do. You may be a cadet but this is what it means to be an officer in star fleet. If you can’t hack it then stay here with the civies but I am not going to pretend that I don’t need your help today." "So you’re saying that the needs of the many...." Ellen started to say only to be cut off by Herodion. "Never ever quote Vulcan logic to me unless you are a Vulcan. We might put our lives on the line, sometimes futilely, for others but that is never a reason to pretend that you can approach these situations without emotion, the gods know I can’t." Herodion said sharply, her hand dropping to her waist holster where she withdrew her type II-D phaser pistol and offered it to Ellen. Ellen stared at the pistol for but a second before taking it. As a cadet she may have been in her rights to turn her CO down but despite everything Commander Herodion struck a chord in Ellen making her realize that she needed and wanted even more to help even if that meant traveling to the belly of the beast where she would probably die. *** A creaking sound was what brought Ellen back to the present as if a new wave of fear overrode her flashback. The sound while faint and coming from a far distance away was probably caused by a rodent or insect or maybe even the wind but in that near pitch black corridor sneaking behind Commander Herodion every sound seemed to set alarm bells off in Ellen’s head. As the pair moved as silently as possible through the narrow corridor Ellen couldn’t help but feel that another one of those monsters would leap out of the next alcove of which there were many. Her senses were going into overdrive again and it wasn’t helping. Knowing this, Ellen tried her best to focus on one thing so she chose to focus on her movement lest she bump into Commander Herodion or stub her foot and give away their position. In any other situation she might have allowed herself to joke that she was focusing so very hard on putting one foot in front of the other. It wasn’t the time or place for that though even if she could bring herself to make that joke. Thankfully that technique helped just as Ellen and Commander Herodion reached a T-juncture. Peering down one side of the new corridor Ellen saw natural light in what appeared to be a courtyard but in the other direction she saw several shadowy figures. Looking to her CO Ellen knew that Commander Herodion also saw them too. Herodion flipped closed her tricorder and returned it to her belt then readied her rifle before turning to Ellen. In the quietest of whispers Herodion spoke to Ellen. Despite the volume of her words Commander Herodion’s tone was dead serious. “Power readings suggest the generator for the force field is in that courtyard. On my signal run to it and disable it by any means Cadet.” Commander Herodion said firmly ensuring that there would be no confusion over her orders. Ellen’s mind was screaming to fight that order. Perhaps it was the safer role to take, or on the other hand what if there were more of those things out in the courtyard or maybe the better plan was to stick with Commander Herodion. Ellen liked that last one the most as she figured her CO would be able to watch out for Ellen. And there is truth to the adage that there is strength in numbers. Instead though Ellen nodded to Herodion signalling her agreement and readiness to Herodion’s plan. They each had a job to do and Ellen was going to play her part. She figured she came that far so she might as well see the job through. It wasn’t as if she was in the best location to argue with her CO anyway. Herodion was the first to move to a standing position in the middle of the juncture already firing her weapon. Ellen ducked past her, getting to her feet she started to run and didn’t stop until she had left the confines of the corridor and entered the courtyard. Rising the phaser pistol she scanned the courtyard waiting, expecting someone or worse to jump out at her. When it didn’t immediately happen and she eyed the power generator, she ran to it. Maybe it was rather convenient that the generator was there unguarded but Ellen didn’t care and didn’t think of the possibilities of an ambush. Kneeling by the inbuilt control console Ellen dropped her weapon as she furiously tapped commands into the generator but no matter what she tried she was unable to power the [...]ed machine down. Panicking she struggled to remember what Herodion had told her, she said to do the job by any means necessary. So taking a page from her CO’s book Ellen’s hand dropped down to the ground where the phaser pistol laid and picked it up as she moved back toward the corridor entrance. Ellen was a fraction over two meters from the corridor archway but she saw the red flash streak straight toward her. Her eyes went wide in terror but the instant later when she was still alive and a second shot again narrowly missed her, going an inch over her right shoulder, she turned to see another one of those things with a gaping hole in its abdomen. Even with that hole the drone didn’t look like it was going to fall over and die, they never did. Ducking behind what must have been the remains of a pillar; Ellen took aim and fired her phaser at the power generator which the humanoid monster was standing next to. Even though she shielded herself, as much as she could, as the power generator exploded she was still knocked backward into a wall ringing the outside of the courtyard. With her ears ringing and vision slightly blurred she noticed a human figure stalking toward her with great speed. Ellen shakily raised the phaser again trying to steady her aim fully intending to pull the trigger. “Careful with that Cadet,” Herodion said outstretching her hand to help Ellen to her feet. “Getting shot with my favorite phaser is not on my agenda tonight.” Taking Commander Herodion’s hand Ellen pulled herself rather shakily to her feet feeling her vision and hearing returning to normal levels or normal for her current condition. “You’re not usually one to act so bluntly Cadet.” Commander Herodion said, a faint smile could be seen on her face. “Finding the off switch was taking too long!” Ellen replied also smiling despite feeling as if the battle was far from over. The pair had done what they had set out to do, they might not have found the master mind yet but the shield was disabled and no more of those things appeared to be near. And yet Ellen eyes darted out into the darkness, expecting the worst. Ensign Atherton Grix USS Gemini
  14. "It started as flashes. At the time I wasn't what they really were. Perhaps it was just my imagination running wild, filling in gaps I hadn't been able to fill since I was a child. But as time passed, the flashes morphed into more in depth, clearer images. Whispers became voices," Rune said, her voice soft and quiet. She drew in a slow, steady breath. "The panic attacks began soon after the memories began to surface." She swallowed hard, not able to make eye contact. "Fits of sudden nausea, cold sweats, shaking hands, blurred vision, heart racing so fast I thought it would burst through my chest. I couldn't breath. I couldn't move. I became utterly paralyzed by fear." ((10 Years Ago - Sabahnuor Attitude Readjustment Center, Leya-I)) 16 year old Rune's heart began racing as soon as they stepped through the doorway. A few more steps and she got a sudden sick feeling deep inside her stomach. A few more steps and she stopped. Her mentor, Dura Refa, stopped a step ahead of her and turned to look at her. Looking up at the older woman, "I changed my mind," Rune said. "Runica..." Rune shook her head. "I don't need this," she said, forcing a nervous smile. "Really... I will try harder. I promise." Dura gave her a saddened look, her eyes scrunching into a frown. "Runica, you've tried. No one faults you for needing help." The woman's voice was gentle, yet firm. The doors at the end of the corridor opened. Rune's heart nearly stopped when she saw the two attendants emerge. One male, one female. Both dressed in standard white uniforms. The closer they got, the more panicked she became. She started to back up but Dura grabbed her arm. "Please, Dura..." Rune said, pleadingly as she tried to pull free. Dura's fingers dug into the girl's arm, holding tight. Her heart was racing, pounding deafeningly inside her chest. She struggled harder to pull away but it wasn't enough. Before she knew it, the two attendants were there. They grabbed her arms, one on each side. "I'm sorry, Runica. This is for the best," her mentor said, showing none of her earlier compassion. Rune kicked and screamed and pleaded but it was all for nothing. Two sets of hands held fast, their fingers digging deep into her arms. She couldn't break free. They dragged her towards the doors. Her screams and pleas completely ignored. Once beyond the threshold, the entire atmosphere changed. It was colder and her screams echoed off the metallic walls. She was taken into a small brightly lit room and stripped down to nothing, all the while fighting them. An elbow caught her in the mouth sending her head slamming back into the wall. Her vision exploded into a kaleidescope of colors and confusion. She could taste the blood in her mouth as hands grabbed her again and slammed her onto a cold, steel table. The lights overhead were blinding. Of course that was all part of the process to wear down the "patient". Her head, arms and legs were strapped to the table, making it impossible for her to turn her head away from them and it didn't matter how tightly she clenched her eyes shut. The light still penetrated her eyelids and the nectating membrane beneath. She was cold... freezing actually. Her heart was racing again and in spite of freezing, she was sweating. She could feel the tiny beads of sweat roll down the side of her face, mingling with the tears that escaped her eyes. She struggled against her bonds but she couldn't move. Her muscles tensed as she heard a ripping sound and then something damp brushed against her forehead. She tried to jerk away but it was pointless. All of this fighting was pointless. Then she felt it. Needles pierced her skin at various points around her body, along her spine, back of her neck and forehead. Pin [...]s turned into stinging, then burning and then excruciating pain engulfed her entire body. She tried to scream but the sound caught in her already raw throat. ((Present-time)) "Fear of what?" Nikki Ryan asked, her voice calm and soothing. Tears rolled down her face as her head rested against Nikki's shoulder. She took comfort from the arms wrapped around her as they lay in the dark. Rune's softly glowing eyes flicked up to meet the other woman's crystal blues. Her question hanging between them. "Of being taken back and having my memories ripped out of me again," she said, her own lightly accented voice trembling slightly. "Of not being allowed to be here with you, to feel what I feel and to love who I love." --- Lt. Rune Jolara Chief Counselor - USS Apollo-A
  15. "So this thing was found in a lab?" The question was asked plainly enough, but something about the wording had Professor Yuri Malenkov shooting a frown at the woman stood beside him. Like himself, Doctor Helena Kerr was one of the Daystrom Institute's resident archaeotechnology specialists, and she'd leapt at the chance to get in on a project like this one the very moment she'd returned from her extended holiday on Risa. It wasn't often that they were called upon to exercise their particular field of expertise, but when they did the reason was usually pretty compelling - and the humanoid figure laid out before them definitely ticked that particular box. "The artefact," he replied, stressing the way he preferred to think of it, "was indeed discovered in the remains of what appeared to be a cybernetics lab of some kind. It's hard to be certain, of course, given the age of the ruins, but the survey team made a reasonably educated assessment." "If that age is as big a number as I'd heard, I'm happy to cut them a little slack." Shoving her hands in the pockets of the lab coat she habitually wore, the Alpha Centauran red-head began prowling around the work table the artefact on question lay on, studying it from every angle as her brow furrowed in thought. Whatever it was, it was the right size and shape to be able to pass as most humanoids - if it weren't for the fact that it's exterior shell was nothing but a layer of smooth, featureless sliver. Internal scans had told them that it was more than the inert statue it seemed at first glance, and the sheer complexity of some of what those scans had revealed had led to the archaeological team that had discovered it shipping it off to the Institute as fast as they could arrange for it to happen. Which was where Yuri and his team had come in. For almost a week, they'd studied the figure as closely as they could without getting invasive, and they were starting to get a little frustrated with the limits of what they'd been able to establish. Quantum dating had confirmed the age, and from the data the discovery team had sent there was a good chance that where it had been found was where it had been built. Unfortunately, there'd been no hints at all as to what it had been built for, and if the theories about the last inhabitants of those ruins were right, there was no way at all anyone was going to be able to ask them. "You tried a HiMRI scan to get a look?" Given that Helena hadn't taken her eyes off of the subject of her scrutiny, Yuri's nod went unnoticed. With a wry little smile, he opted for a more obvious response. "High resolution MRI, quantum imaging, EM pattern analysis, even an old-fashioned radar scan. Everything comes back the same, and tells us that what we have here is the body of some form of synthetic life-form." Helena grunted and straightened up from where she'd been studying the artefact's 'face'. "Never seen anything like this one before, though." "Oh, it gets better." Lifting a padd from one of the workbenches nearby, Yuri handed it over before standing back to watch the reaction that he was pretty sure was going to be coming. One of the biggest puzzles they had faced was on the materials side of things, and what Helena had just been handed was a breakdown of the scan results gathered from tests on that silvery coating. Metallic, it might look, but... "It's organic?" And there it was, just as surprised as *they'd* been when the results had first come back. "You're telling me that shiny crap all over the thing is-" "Possibly," Yuri interrupted smoothly, heading off a singularly Kerr-esque head of steam, "the most advanced synthetic organic polymer matrix anyone has every seen. The hardware underneath it is impressive enough, but that shell..." He shook his head, lips twitching in another wry smile, and leant up against the workbench. "Terk nearly wet himself when he saw that data, and we almost had to threaten to nail his lobes to the ceiling to keep him from trying to find some way to sell it." "What do you expect, letting a [...]ed Ferengi anywhere near something like this?" "Oh, it wasn't that bad. We just reminded him of the pile of latinum he put up as security for keeping to the confidentiality agreement he signed." "Ha. Yeah, that'll do it." The two of them fell into silence again, both looking at the recumbent form that was the focus of this project's work. The vagaries of the Ferengi lust for profit aside, neither of them were ignorant of the potential secrets hidden within something like what they had on their hands, and the sheer scientific drive to know was tempered by an awareness of what that sort of curiosity could lead to. After all, Yrui mused to himself, it was curiosity about what was inside that led to Pandora's Box being opened and the story was quite clear on what had happened because of that little slip. "I could have taken another two weeks vacation, you know." This time, Yuri's frown was one of puzzlement at Helena's comment, apparently unrelated to anything else he could think of right now. "Sun, surf, little [...]tails with umbrellas in them... plus all the exceptionally friendly men with very big-" "Thank you, Helena. I am quite happy to live without that mental image." "Wimp. What I was going to say was that if I had, I'd probably have kicked myself for missing out on this." *** There wasn't enough to be called consciousness. Not yet. What did exist was little more than a reaction to the modulated emissions that had been detected by a collection of specialised nodes. Once that signal had been received, a cascade of instructions had flowed out of those nodes and into others. Induction charging systems tapped into the local power, building up energy within other components at a painfully slow rate. There had been no need predicted for them to have to work faster, and the idea that the cells they were feeding would be so utterly drained had been similarly unanticipated. It was working though, and as power became available it was used. Sounds were detected and analysed, hardwired coding assembling meaning from what was being heard whilst others identified what seemed like hard data and filed it away for future use. None of what was happening was running at the speed it had been designed to, but the tiny node who's sole job was to keep track of time gave an explanation why - once it had checked it's own calculations over thirty thousand times just to make absolutely sure it's count was right. A wait for deployment that ran into millennia had stretched even this mechanism's capacity to hold itself ready. Eventually, everything the system was ordered to do was done and it slipped into a holding pattern, settling in to wait with the infinite patience of a machine for the rest of the signal. Then, and only then, would the second layer of commands be brought into play... *** "Pass me that scanner, will you?" The hand being waved vaguely in Yuri's direction went well with the distracted tone of the question, and he had to smile - at least a little. Picking the device up from the worktop, he handed it over, then went back to looking at the results from the one he'd already been holding. "So you've gotten somewhere on those resolution enhancements?" Helena shrugged, most of her attention on the computer screen she was studying whilst she toyed absently with the scanner she'd just received. "Maybe. A more coherent scan pattern, adapting itself to the general level of... whatever it is that's going on in there, should - hopefully - give us a better picture of how things are set up to work in our little statue's head." "Which," Yuri agreed, "would be nice. The level of activity in there might be almost undetectably low, but it's certainly making things harder when it comes to tracking what's actually going on." And that had been a bit of a running theme over the last little while. It had taken some searching, but once they'd established that the artefact wasn't quite as inert as it had first seemed, they'd ridden the wave of enthusiasm that had provoked straight into a metaphorical brick wall. Now, three days later, it seemed like they might just have a way to get somewhere. "Here." Yuri dragged his frowning attention from the silvery figure and turned it toward Helena, who'd turned on her little stool to face him. Apparently done with whatever modifications she was planning to make to the scanner, she held it out to him and he took it with a murmur of thanks. A quick look at it's readouts showed him nothing new at all, but then there wouldn't have been... until and unless it worked. There was only one way to find out if that was going to happen... At first, there was no change from normal as he began his scan using the newly modified tool, but after a few seconds that changed fast. "Woah!" His startled exclamation had Helena surging to her feet and hurrying to stand beside him, craning her neck to get a look at what might have provoked it. Once he tilted the scanner to give her a better view of the readings, she let out a low whistle of appreciation - and managed to avoid looking even remotely smug. "Okay..." she muttered. "That's quite a result." "Right. But I think you're missing the point..." Which, by playing about with the scanner's controls a little, Yuri endeavoured to correct. Scrolling back through the data the device had gathered, he paused it when he found what he was looking for, then handed the whole thing over to his colleague. "Umm... Yrui? Am I reading this right? From what I'm looking at here, this spike in activity didn't happen until after you started the scan. In fact, the things had been cycling through frequency modulations for nearly thirty seconds before-" This time, Yrui's exclamation wasn't due to surprise at what he was seeing on a little screen. Instead, it was a quite understandable response to the fact that the silvery figure on the work table, totally unmoving and unresponsive for all this time, had just grabbed him. After a second or so, he managed to get enough of a grip on himself again to notice that the only part of the artefact that had moved at all was the hand - and arm it was attached to - that now held his wrist. "Yuri! Are you-" "I'm fine," he replied, somehow a lot more calmly than he felt he had any right to be. "It's not holding me tight enough to hurt, just... I don't know, keeping me here, I guess." "You guess? To hell with that, I'm calling security." There was little hope he could convince her not to do that, even if he felt any urge to try. The Institute's security set-up wasn't as comprehensive as, say, a Starfleet facility's might be, but that wouldn't stop them from reacting to something like this. Helena's voice making the call sounded far more agitated than the woman usually acted, and Yuri knew that someone would be coming through that door within only a few more moments. Which, if this turned nasty, was most likely not going to be soon enough to make any appreciable difference to him. He was considering whether to try and break the hold on his wrist when the decision was made redundant, the metallic-looking hand releasing it's grip and returning to where it had started with just as little warning or ceremony as it had moved to begin with. Absently rubbing his wrist, Yuri backed off well out of reach, eyes firmly fixed on the core of their project, and wondering just what the heck had just happened - and why. *** The signal had come, modulated just as it was meant to be, and when it reached the node that had been patiently awaiting it the results were precisely as designed. Power was routed to higher-order nexus groups, the command routines coded into their fabric coming to life and reaching out to each other. Within moments more, the basis of a command architecture had taken form, building itself further as it confirmed that everything that was meant to be at it's disposal, was. At that stage, there was nothing capable of appreciating the serendipity of having one of the external things it sought detectable literally within arm's reach - but this in no way impaired the system from acting on that proximity. As soon as the required physical contact was achieved, and the subject was prevented from immediate escape, data began to be gathered and analysed, projections of what would and would not be of use forming and being analysed in turn. Finally, a model was assembled and the proper coding assembled for use. One last check for errors, then that self-same coding was sent to the receptors that had waited for it since their creation. There was only enough raw material - and power - for a single activation, but that was part of the design. After all, done right, it only needed to happen once... Suspended throughout the dormant biopolymer matrix of the external shell in their little hives, nano-scale mechanisms came to life, surging out to latch onto the materials they needed to do their jobs. It was a laborious process, with endless repetition of the tiniest pieces of the whole essential to the desired result, but there was no hint of anything but almost mindless dedication to the task at hand and a total disregard of the fact that simply fulfilling their assigned role was going to leave almost the entire population extinct. *** The security guards that had responded to Helena's call had done it fast, and under other circumstances Yuri might have found their adrenaline-fuelled jumpiness amusing. As it was, he was more concerned that they were going to do something... unfortunate to his project. "Gentlemen, do I need to remind you that nothing harmful has actually happened?" That got him a disparaging look from Helena, not that he'd expected anything else, but he was more interested in the reactions of the people with weapons. Luckily, the man in charge of the team was someone who's judgement he respected - and the fact that he was a Betazoid and thus quite able to tell that Yuri was quite sincere in what he was saying - and after a few moments there was a curt nod to the other two officers and a definite, if slight, reduction in tension. Quite what was happening in the lab itself, none of them were particularly sure. Something had disrupted the sensors that might have told them, and there wasn't even a hint of sound to give a clue. This, of course, was not helping everyone stay calm. "Nothing," Helena put in sharply, "may have happened yet, but we have no idea what is going on in there. Tenna's not going to take any chances, and you know it." Tenna, the security chief, looked less than happy to be reminded that he was going to be held at least partly responsible for anything that happened, but since that was part of his job he limited his response to that. Or at least he did until the sound of a heavy thud made it through the lab door. Every hint of relaxation that might have slipped into the atmosphere vanished in an instant, with the trio of security guards immediately moving to take up positions by the door. "Umm... What are you going to do?" Yuri's somewhat hesitant query was ignored. Instead, Tenna gestured to his people to stand ready then, with his weapon in hand, touched the door control. The amount of tension in the air was enough to be almost palpable, and somehow managed to spike even higher as the door slid open. For seconds that seemed to feel like hours, nothing at all seemed to happen, until finally, weapon held ready in a white-knuckled grip, Tenna stepped cautiously through the portal. Yuri was pretty sure he wasn't the only one holding his breath as he watched the Betazoid's slow, wary advance into the lab, but he knew he jumped when Tenna's voice came back through the doorway at them. "Professor, Doctor... Remind me, would you, what you were working on in here?" Yuri and Helena shared a puzzled look, noting the fact that the Betazoid's tone had more than a hint of confusion in it. Carefully, and not totally certain it was a smart idea, the pair edged closer to the door, moving to get a peek at whatever it was that was waiting on the other side...
  16. “Horrifying Flashback” ((Flashback, Stardate 238301.13)) (New York University, New York, Earth) :: A cold, bitter wind whipped around her, lashing itself against AJ’s exposed skin as she she sat on the bench gazing idly up at the stars. It’d been a long day and a long night, and AJ realized how seriously under dressed she was given the weather and the time of year. AJ was sporting a pink tanktop and a blue denim skirt despite the cold and the snow. A man came out of nowhere from the shadows behind her, scaring her half to death as he clasped a cloth around her nose and mouth, instantly knocking her out. This man was large, muscular, and strong. He hoisted AJ up and carried her to his lair...a small underground fortress beneath the school. It wasn’t much, but it was his home. When Aurora woke up she was in what looked to be a locked prison cell. The small cage had iron bars and her wrists were shackled to the wall. The cold room smelled of dirt, grime, and sweat. The man smirked as he came near, he opened the door… he force fed her some bread and cheese with water…. it was all she could do not to choke on it. Then he gagged her. He had no remorse, almost no conscience it would seem, but he was enjoying it. He used whips, chains, and a myriad of other things that led to bruises, broken bones, and cuts all over her torso and inner thighs. He raped her...he tortured her….for seven days and seven nights she endured the same patterns of his malicious intent...then on that eighth day she caught him in his own mistake. He made the mistake of uncuffing her, what he had planned for her, she didn’t know and she didn’t stick around to find out. Aurora in the heat of the moment grabbed the man’s holstered phaser off his hip and shot him with it. It was self defense. She was hurt, violated and hungry, but she made it out alive. That was all that mattered. :: ((End Flashback)) Crewman Third Class, Aurora “AJ” James Counselor USS-Atlantis NCC-74682
  17. (( Club Emporium, Capital City, Orion)) It was a short walk from the hotel to the establishment known as the "Emporium", a combination night club and pleasure palace known in unofficial circles as "The Tenderloin." It was known as the place in the nearly spotless part of town where the locals didn't go...it was a place for outworlders, mostly those who traded in illicit goods and information. The alcohol was real, the women beautiful, and the clientele deadly. It was this environment Kamela Allison was walking into with the express purpose of killing one particular man, Phineas Tredeau, a particularly dangerous weapons dealer. Her choice of outfits was designed to attract his attention, and as she walked along the street towards the club, she noted it had the desired effect on several non- Orion males who saw her walking by...one nearly slammed into a light pole trying to look at her instead of where he was going. It satisfied her that her look was catching...it helped to slow her thumping heart as she approached the front doors of the establishment, marked with two massive wooden doors, muted thumping base pounding through them. The building itself was fairly large in scope, taking up an entire block and reminding her of the warehouses along the old wharves in her native San Francisco. The bottom story was the actual club, which was divided into two halves. One half was devoted to actual dancing and set up like a normal club reminiscent of Risa. The other half was where naked and semi-naked women danced for cash, or walked among the patrons soliciting for more intimate favors which were consummated. This is where her quarry would be. Kamela calmed her breathing as she walked up to the two large two wooden doors. Two massive Orions stood sentry outside, both of them armed with purloined Starfleet hand phasers. Stepping up to them, one of them moved, effectively forming a flesh and blood roadblock. Smiling as sweetly as she could, she looked up at the towering green menace as he spoke to her... " Your purse. I must search it." " Go ahead. Nothing there that would interest you." Kamela gave him her purse, while the other one moved in a little too close for comfort... "Now, I must search you." As degrading and repulsive as it was, she had no choice. Taking out the two of them would be a tidy handful, and it would get her no closer to her mission...in fact, it would end right then and there. As one pawed over her body, the other one ran a scanner over her. She knew better than to be armed. Places like this tended to be heavy on security to keep the real outlaws reasonably secure. From her briefing, she knew Tredeaus' guards were armed, and went through no such scrutiny. She also knew "outlaw" working girls could ply their trade here, and could only be invited to the upper floors after paying a fee, which was sometimes greater than the amount for services...unless it was at the behest of a treasured client, such as Treudeau. Satisfied the only thing Kamela was armed with was a beautiful body, the two guards moved aside, the one who had personally searched her speaking again... "Enjoy yourself." "Thank you, gentlemen. I will." The Orion to her left opened the door, which opened outward towards the street, the music now pounding into her as she walked into the dimly lit club. Strobe lights distorted her vision as she pushed her way through the crowd and headed to the bar. She knew from her briefings that the doors to the other part of the bar were off to one side, at the wall which split the two bars. Eyeballing the crowd, she wanted to see if anyone was paying inordinate attention to her..undercover work was risky enough but she knew it paid to be paranoid. She was alone, with no backup, no weapons, no way to call for help. Her only solace was her pickup to take her back to the Federation Embassy would be outside, a local Orion who had been a good source of information over the years. Kamela, still playing the part of an "outlaw" working girl, walked towards the doors which led to the less savory part of the bar. She knew once she crossed that threshold,there would be no going back, no chance to abort the mission. She was committed, and that sobering thought pounded into her chest like the booming music. Taking a deep breath, she entered the world of the [...]ed... Phineas Treudeau was not a handsome man, with a large Roman nose, bulbous eyes and thinning hair. His clothing was tailor made and he was adorned in only the finest fabrics money could buy. He wore dark green pants with matching shirt, and his feet were adorned with a pair of ornate boots, rumored to be made from the skin of a Gorn who had tried to back out of a deal. He had made a fortune by selling weapons to those who could not easily buy them...pirates, smugglers, the Orion Syndicate. He enjoyed the fact that he could buy anything he wanted, or kill anyone he wanted, or have them killed. Here, on Orion, he could recline in relative safety, away from the Federation and their pesky Starfleet. Sitting on a couch flanked by bodyguards, he sat before a table with enough food fit for a king. Several people were also at the table with him, celebrating another successful deal of selling procured Starfleet photon torpedoes. He didn't care who bought them, as long as they paid his price. Treudeau had only one weakness...beautiful women. By virtue of his money and notoriety, he could have any woman he wanted, and this place allowed him to indulge himself with women from a dozen worlds...but his eyes were drawn to the tall blonde who had just entered.. Dressed in Aqua blue, with a pleasing body and exceptionally long legs, the woman was one whom he had not seen before, and therefore, one he must have. He watched her at the bar, her moves as graceful as a gazelle. Now this...this was a woman! He looked at the women he currently had around him, all bought and paid for. Beautiful they were, but the curly headed blonde was on a completely different level. He watched her have a drink at the bar, demurely sipping it if she had been there a thousand times before, but he knew she had not been...he would have noticed HER. Discreetly, he whispered to one of his guards to bring her over. This woman, he had to have... Kamela stood at the bar, drinking her Centauri Sunrise and trying hard to be not initially noticed. Thanks to the alcohol inhibiter she had taken, she could pretty much drink as much as she wanted without getting intoxicated...she needed a level head to do what she needed to do. The Ferengi bartender was doing his best to make conversation, but his words were meaningless to her. She was sure if she rubbed his ears a bit he would be in heaven. From her vantage point, she could easily see her quarry, sitting behind a table flanked by several women and two very serious looking guards. Kamela noted they were both armed, and when he leaned down and her target whispered in his ear, she discreetly paid attention as the guard moved from where he stood over to where she was standing...the mark had taken the bait... The guard moved quickly, but easily, his huge size making it seem like he floated instead of walked. As he approached, Kamela focused on breathing, calming herself before the next part of the operation began. Over the cascading boom of music, the guard was standing next to her, but it was she who said the first words... "Hello sailor. What can I do for you?" The guard hesitated for a second, perhaps unfamiliar with one of the galaxies' oldest pickup lines. The Orion was huge, approaching seven feet tall, but he quickly shook it off. His voice gruff, he spoke... "My boss wishes for you to join him." " Really?", she replied coyly." And just who would this boss be?" " That gentleman over there. He insists." Kamela knew she could not say yes instantly. She had to maintain the illusion of distance, of not wanting to go over until she was ready. Her resistance would make him want her more, and allow the arrogant pe'taq to begin to drop his guard. Looking up at the guard, she shook her head... "What if I do not wish to join him?" Clearly, this was something the guard had not anticipated, but as the guard looked over at him, she could see him beckoning towards them with a large, inviting hand, his pig face smiling while doing so. Kamela smiled back, but not in the manner of a working girl gaining an expensive client, but as a predator summoned by prey. Her heart thumped in her chest, duty overtaking her fear as she held out her arm and the guard gently took it... "Well, it seems like your boss does not wish to take no for an answer, so, my big friend, let's go." Treudeau watched the dialogue taking place between the stunning blonde and his trusted bodyguard. He was the gentler of the two when it concerned women, and he wanted to make sure she didn't spook...which meant that sometime during the night if she refused him, his other guard would make sure she and whoever she was with would be dead before sunup. No one refused his offers of companionship, especially an off worlder outlaw whore. As the two approached arm in arm, the weapons dealer stood up and embraced his would be assassin, his hands traveling down to her rear end, offering a slight squeeze as he did so. Kamela almost retched as he hugged, his breath smelling of garlic and othe sharp spices, his uninvited hand on her rear. She deftly removed it and broke the unwanted embrace, disarming him with a smile... "Slow down, cowboy. I don't even know your name." " I am Phineas Treudeau. And you are?" " I am (remembering her cover name) Tara Matthews. Pleased to meet you." " Sit Miss Matthews, and let us eat, drink, and talk." Making space on the couch next to him, Kamela sat down. Making small talk for the next hour, Treudeaus' eyes roamed all over Kamela, clearly only interested in bedding her. He was free with his money, and had pressed several strips of latinum in her hands...clearly a signal to go upstairs. From her files, she knew that once he made his choice, he would take her upstairs, dismiss his guards and would spend the night in one of the opulent suites upstairs. Ruthless as Treudeau was, his guards would have the pick of the girls he didn't want, all bought and paid for. The feared weapons dealer would be alone, drunk, and ripe for his own demise... Making their way upstairs, Kamela played along, laughing at his jokes, allowing his hands more freedom on her body. Kamelas' fear had been turned to focus, remembering every detail of the room in which she now stood. A balcony ran around the back of the suite, with a door opening onto it. It was a short drop to the fire escape, then down to a side street. Waiting on that side street was her getaway driver, an Orion in the employ of Starfleet Intelligence. His vehicle on the street would not be suspicious...he was a day driver for the hotel and it was not uncommon for him to be parked there. Kamela casually looked out the window, and indeed, the vehicle was there in its usual spot. Treudeau watched as Tara took in the suite. It was opulent, with deep carpeting and ornate furnishings, just the way he wanted it. He truly wanted this woman, an he was glad that she decided to join him. A woman as beautiful as this should not have to end up dead, and he would have regretted killing her...at least until the next one came along. Sitting on the bed, he watched as the woman in aqua blue seductively came over to him, her navel ring just about eye height, her perfume intoxicating in its closeness...it only made him want her more, and his thoughts were of bedding her. His initial caution gone, now replaced by lust, he moved in to kiss her exposed stomach... Sensing her opportunity, Kamela ran her hands seductively over his head, then quickly moved her hands...her right hand on the left side of his head, her left hand moving down to deftly grab his jaw and she twisted upward, hearing the snap of bone. The feared weapons dealer slumped forward, then Kamela pushed him back on the bed, his lifeless eyes staring at the ceiling. Making sure he was indeed very dead, Kamela left him where he lay on the bed and looked around the suite, looking for any files, data rods, or computer interfaces which might have been there. Finding none during her quick search, she was on her way to the balcony and escape when a thunderous knock at the door almost made her jump out of her shoes. She knew from its insistence that somehow, her mission was now on borrowed time, and she needed to get out of there now... Kamela knew it would not be long before whomever was knocking would either have a key or knock the door off its hinges, and as the shouting and banging increased, Kamela was out onto the balcony, just as the two Orion guards burst in... Out of time, Kamela did her best to measure her leap to the fire escape, and she hit it with a solid thump...she knew from the sound she would not be able to wear an outfit like this for awhile....too much bruising on her ribs. Fueled by fear, adrenaline, and the sound of crashing wood, she made her way down to the fire escape and to her getaway car. Opening the passenger door, Kamela spoke... "Gatta, we need to go, NOW!" The Orion didn't move. Gatta was not known as a sleeper, so Kamela shook him. The Orion slumped backwards, his throat cut from ear to ear. Fear almost turned to panic as the whine of disruptors and their impact on the street around the vehicle filled he ears. Reaching over the dead man, Kamela popped the door open and shoved the dead man out onto the street, the guards now seeing the door open, peppering the dead man with disruptor blasts and concentrating their fire on the groundcar. One shot shattered the side window, another, the windshield. Another shot came perilously close to her head, spending itself against the door frame. Kamela was now in the drivers' seat, and she fired up the groundcar. Driving it out into the crowded street, Kamela went the wrong way in traffic and quickly darted down a side street. She made sure her headlights were off as she traced a roundabout path back towards the Federation Embassy. She knew she could not take the groundcar there...doing so would point right at the Federation and Starfleet. She had no way to call for extraction, and really no way to be extracted...her navel ring doubled as a transporter/video scrambler so she could not clearly be seen on the many security cameras dotting the streets, or transported against her will. Knowing there was a lake near the Embassy, Kamela headed for it, determined to ditch the car in the water and destroy it. Hopefully, they would think she panicked and drowned...at least long enough for her to get off Orion. It would be a half kilometer swim in the dark before emerging two blocks from the Embassy. She told herself it was going to work...hell, it had to work. Aiming the vehicle at the water, Kamela set the controls and opened the door as the car sped into the water, with Kamela bailing out as the machine hit the lake. Kicking away from it furiously, the car sank, its power cell detonating itself one hundred yards behind and one hundred feet below her, the concussion nauseating her. She swam hard, her fear of capture powering her strokes towards relative safety. Half a click and twenty minutes later, Kamela emerged from the water, barefoot, bedraggled and exhausted. Looking along the shore, she could clearly see the lights of the Embassy two blocks away...and its back door which would give her sanctuary. Guarded by two Marine sentries, they had been told to expect a "delivery" and given the requisite passwords. Picking her way carefully, concealing herself as much as possible, Kamela arrived at the back door of the Embassy. Modesty was not a concern for her at the moment, and it took a moment for the guards to stop staring at her now see through outfit and ask for the password. Once Kamela replied, the two guards quickly let her in, and she slipped down the back stairs to her quarters. Locking her door, placing her phaser on the table next to her bed and contacting her handler. Only then could she stop shaking. Lieutenant Kamela Allison Operative Starfleet Intelligence
  18. Dust in the Wind “What’s wrong mommy?” Katya asked as Irina sat on the edge of the bed unmoving. “I’m scared” Irina replied. “But you aren’t afraid of anything. You said you are stronger than the monsters and bad people.” “I am Printzyessa, but it isn’t monsters or bad people I’m afraid of.” “Then…” Irina placed her finger to the child’s lips and then reached down and picked up her daughter. “Come on Printzyessa, we’ll be late. You want to go down to Ba’ku with the other kids, right?” “Don’t you want to go down to Ba’ku? mommy? “Yes, very much.” Irina walked out of her quarters on the Thunder and made her way to the transporter room. Like her daughter, she wore civilian clothes, though rather than the pretty dress and the correctly matched red socks (Katya matched them), Irina wore a pair of faded bluejeans, a black sleeveless shirt and the same brown leather marine bomber jacket that had survived over two centuries on the harsh planet of Kjenta II with her, patched bullet holes, road rash and all. Black leather boots and dark sunglasses completed her visible outfit, with nobody having a need to know about the 500+ year old Walther PP pistol its holster concealed within the jacket’s lining. She didn’t expect to need it, didn’t expect anything or anyone to remotely care about or even think about her on Ba’ku, but she was still convinced that this was, perhaps, the most dangerous place for her in the known universe. As she stepped onto the transporter pad her eyes caught those of Colonel Tyr Waltas, and right away his words from just over a year ago echoed in her head. The regenerative effects of Ba’ku were very well known to Irina Pavlova despite the fact that she’d never stepped foot on the planet. Ba’ku was a word that just about everyone brought up when they learned Irina’s true age. At 247-years-old, the only frames of reference anyone had was either stasis, or Ba’ku. Ba’ku was an idyllic fantasy to most humans. Eternal life in a place that they imagined as paradise. Gentle climate, lush vegetation and a rustic, peaceful society focused on the arts, philosophy and a simpler way of living. Of course, nobody who thought about Ba’ku could imaging that there were other worlds with similar regenerative effects that didn’t also have similarly paradisiacal climate, vegetation and lifestyle. Kjenta II shared Ba’ku’s regenerative qualities, but that was where the similarities ended. Unlike Ba’ku, Kjenta II was a post-apocalyptic wasteland, barely L class on a good day. 2.8G gravity, frigid winters and merely freezing summers along the equatorial belt, with anything North or South so cold as to be inhospitable. Then there was the near infrared radiation of the Kjenta star, so powerful as to fuse the cones in the eyes of most humanoid species in a matter of weeks, irreparably within a year. To the environmental pleasures of Kjenta II are added the joys of a sentient humanoid species that, five centuries before the arrival of the NX-class USS Columbia in 2171 had blasted themselves back to the stone age in an ionic and nuclear war, the residual ionization of the atmosphere, much like Ba’ku’s Briar Patch, made the planet both impossible to scan and extremely difficult to approach or depart, with the upper ionosphere serving to suck all power from anything and everything that passed through it. No communications, no sensors, and most importantly, no transporters could penetrate that ionization layer, which is why Irina Pavlova and the other 31 members of Columbia’s away team couldn’t leave for 219 years. No, the regenerative properties of Ba’ku didn’t scare Irina Pavlova, nor did the idyllic lifestyle and temperate climate, which she quite looked forward to. Not even the nefarious plans of Starfleet some 40 some odd years ago to claim the planet. No, it was the words of Tyr Waltas, former captain of the USS Discovery, just over a year ago after he had successfully rescued Irina and far too few of her shipmates from Kjenta II that scared her to her core. “My sons are mixed race" Waltas had said, "and somehow the radiation that normally regenerates the cell structures accelerated theirs. They went from infants to teenagers in several weeks’ time. My daughter removed them from the planet when she learned that a Federation Doctor was intent on studying them as they aged. I fully intend on bringing this to Starfleet’s attention as well. My point is, with as much outcry as the Ba’ku, my sons, and now you will create, the Federation will have little choice but to leave you alone. And if they don’t, then I will make sure no one can find you. You have my word.” It wasn’t Waltas’ promise or anyone messing with her that concerned Irina now. The other three survivors from Kjenta II were already dead and at least one attempt had already been made to grab Irina, but she doubted anything like that awaited her on Ba’ku. No, it was his words. “The radiation that normally regenerates the cell structures accelerated theirs” Waltas had said of his sons, aging them from infants to teenagers in several weeks. Irina was 247-years-old, and had lived that long due to the metaphasic radiation of the Kjenta star, as filtered through the second planet’s heavily ionized atmosphere. Would Ba’ku regenerate Irina’s cells like it did almost everyone else’s, or would it rapidly correct her cells to their correct biological age, which would most likely be a quite unpleasant, not to mention instantly fatal experience. “Energize” Fleet Captain Turner said clearly, and then Irina felt the transporter beam take hold. The sensations were very familiar, but somehow far slower, as though she could feel each and every molecule disassembled, separated to the atomic and then the sub-atomic level. Then there was a strange stillness that seemed to last hours as the atomic particles moved between the transporter pad of the USS Thunder and the surface of Ba’ku. Then came the familiar feeling of recombination, but something was wrong. She could feel, and then see the outline of her body appear and was happy that Katya had a big grin on her face as Irina held her in her arms. The tingling subsided, but the five-year-old was getting heavy. That wasn’t supposed to happen as she only weighed 40 lbs and Irina had the strength of a strong Klingon after 219 years in high gravity. Still, it was unmistakable, the little girl was getting heavier by the second and Irina was forced to put her down as the last of the transporter’s tingles faded. Katya looked up at her mother first with concern, but then screamed when their eyes met. Irina was briefly shocked, but as she looked down at her own hands, hands that were withered, spotted and frail, she knew instantly what her daughter must be looking at and quickly turned away. “Take her” Irina said pleadingly to anyone who would listen as she turned away, and saw Tyr Waltas quickly move in and take her child. Looking back to her hands, she saw the skin was cracking now, taught and brittle against aged bones. She felt someone take hold of her and heard shouting, but couldn’t understand the words. Her sight faded, the lush vegetation replaced by the void of the transporter and then the sterility of sickbay, but even that was fading as the damage had been done. She could only see shadow now, her eyes completely clouded, and couldn’t hear anything. She tried to speak, to call her daughter’s name, but even her tongue felt dryer than dust, and as her mouth opened to speak the name, that was the last thing she felt, her tongue crumbling to dust as her conscious did the same. The last thought in her mind was that there was no light, no tunnel. Her lips cracked as she forced them into a smile, satisfied that at least Katya would be taken care, and secure int eh knowledge that the struggle was finally over. It was time to rest. She felt a soft breeze across her face and could literally feel the dry and dead skin blowing away from her skeletal remains, just dust in the wind. Major Irina Pavlova Chief of Strategic Operations Duronis II Embassy / USS Thunder As always, I am inspired and moved by music. This story shares its title with a song that I loved when it first came out in 1977, quickly grew tired of as it was horribly overplayed, and now finally enjoy again almost 40 years later. As with everything to do with my character, it deals with the passage of time.
  19. Thank you to all our entrants in the "Fashion" Writing Challenge! Before I reveal the winner and runner-up of this Challenge, I want to note that the judges had an extremely difficult time declaring a winner this time, and at times it looked as though there would be a three-way tie. As it was, there were single-point differences between our top three contenders, so I want to offer those two who made it to the top with some hearty congratulations! Our winner for this round is the writer behind Jalana with her story "Fatal mistake"! Our runner up is by the writer behind Irina Pavlova with the story "Dress Greens"! Congratulations! I'd like to recognize my fellow judges for this round: the writers behinds Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Lieutenant Sal Taybrim, and special guest judge Lieutenant Ren Rennyn. My special thanks to the judges for writing extra reviews for this round to ensure that every story received two!
  20. 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 July & August 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! Also, if you would prefer to have this as an ePub or .mobi file for your Nook or Kindle, let me know by replying below! The conversation is easy, and I'll do it and post new versions if anyone would like. Thanks for reading! Get yours here!
  21. Welcome to the last Writing Challenge of the summer of 2014! Appropriately, this Challenge is going to be hot! FASHION The winner of our May & June Challenge, Brian, aka Lieutenant Ren Rennyn, offers the following prompt: I'm rewatching TOS, and got to "Is There No Truth In Beauty?", where (spoilers) Dr. Miranda Jones' elaborate dress turns out to be a sensor web that allows her to "see." It got me thinking about how fashion is used in sci-fi, whether as a plot device, or to set the scene, define a culture, or place us in a certain time. There are plenty of ways an entry for this Challenge could unfold, and in addition to Brian's example of Dr. Jones, I'll offer these inspirations from TNG, courtesy of io9: Seasons 1-3 and seasons 4-7. As of today, Tuesday, July 1st, this Challenge is open! All entries must be received by Monday, August 25th 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!
  22. (( A cell, somewhere )) :: The darkness surrounding Claire was heavy on her shoulders. She could grasp it, almost, before her fingers slipped through the thick black soup that embraced her wholly. Raising her hand she could not even see that, so Claire's mind began to wander, wondering if it was even still there. Was any of her body still there or was her spirit just in a void between lives? :: :: A sudden beam of blinding light drilled its way into her eyes, pain flooding through her as she instinctively threw herself to the floor - there was a floor that was a good sign of not being in the void - and covered her head with her arm. Good that was still there as well. Claire had shut her eyes tight to block out any of the light, as light was pain. :: :: Voices came closer, undefined sounds that she could not make any sense from. What language was that? Her badge pressed against her chest, it was still there, why did it not translate? Where was she, that Starfleet had not encountered it enough to adapt to their patterns? How did she even get here? :: :: Last Claire remembered was sitting in the ship's bar of the USS Potemkin, off-duty, having a drink with her colleagues and talking about the mission that did lie ahead. They had noticed some strange energy readings and had theorized - mostly just fooling around - where they might have come from. It had been a while after that she had left for her quarters. A dizzy feeling had made walking difficult and Claire had assumed that she had possibly one too many to drink. But then thinks got really bad and she had hit the floor just a few steps behind her quarter's door, missing the couch by a few inches.:: :: And that was it, she had woken up in darkness, the same unchanging darkness she still was in. Well, the darkness before the light had cut through it. The sounds, or voices as Claire thought they were, had come closer, worry flooded her, the not knowing where she was and who they were. Afraid that the light would hurt her again she kept her head low, maybe nobody saw her when she did not see them. Such a childish thought. :: :: It did not work of course. When Claire felt the touch on her arm she almost jumped. It did not feel like skin, more like leather and it pulled her up without much effort. Squeezing her eyes shut, now that the arm-cover was gone, she could feel cool breath on her face. Curiosity spread in her body and carefully she peeked through a thin slit, as she raised the lids just a little. :: :: The light came from behind the person so she only saw a dark shade. The voice, now only one close to her and coming from the person holding her arm. Would they understand her? She was not sure but she had to try. :: Claire: Where am I? :: Again those sounds. Hissing, gnarling, clacking. Claire had no doubt that he was trying to talk with her, but there was no way she could make sense out of what came out of his mouth. For some reason she was sure it was a he, maybe she was wrong, but she would possibly not find out. When he turned his head she could see scales in the shade that fell on his face. That would explain the leathery feel. :: Claire: Please, I don't know what I am doing here. :: She hated not knowing if he understood her or not, even more than not knowing what he said. Another voice came from behind him, covered by the big face in her view. :: Claire: I do not understand you. Why am I here? :: She had to try, maybe they had heard her language before. What a glimmer of possibility, but she would never know if she did not try. From behind the one in front of her Claire could hear beeping sounds, they sounded familiar, but still strange. Almost like the sounds that came from pressing buttons on consoles. :: Reptile man: Hrane ioan trema. :: Claire's blue eyes darted to the one holding her when she could hear a change in the noises he made for words. They did not sound just as foreign anymore, but still a language she did not understand. The reptile shook his head and she heard more beeping from behind. She looked him over as much as she could, the light not hurting that much any more. He wore something in a steel blue, it looked like leather and metal, but she could not be too sure. :: Reptile man: G'Tak one tira... ::Claire shook her head slightly and the beeping continued while the man spoke more until finally... :: ... will be eliminated. Claire: :: Her eyes grew wide.:: What? Eliminated? Reptile man: This is the right one. ::Turning his head to her:: You will be eliminated. Claire: But... but why? I do not even know how I got here. Reptile man: Your ship entered our territory. It was scanned and violations against the law registered. Claire: Which law? Reptile man: Our laws of course. You broke the law, you will be eliminated. :: A thousand questions swirled in Claire's head like a tornado. When had they entered the territory of these reptiles? Nothing had been on the star charts and they had just been on the way to their mission. Which law had she broken and could she explain them that she had no idea? Would that matter? If she was here, were there more of the ship or was she the only one? She was not a diplomat, she had no idea how to deal with those situations, but she hoped to find answers by asking the right questions. But what were the right questions? :: Claire: I was not aware of your laws. Reptile man: That does not matter. :: He let go of her arm and Claire dropped back to the ground like a sack of potatoes. He stretched his legs and as he raised she saw that he was really big. :: Claire: Please, let me explain... Reptile man: No explanation needed. Your mockery will not be tolerated. You will meet your ancestors within the hour. :: He started to walk towards the door, the place where the light came from. It was so bright it was hard to see something of him. :: Claire: At least tell me what my crime is. :: The other reptile joined him at the door, standing behind to block some of the light, so she could see him somewhat better. He was tall, green scales covering his body, at least the parts she saw, and he wore a steel blue uniform. The other wore a uniform as well, but it was of a pale purple. Maybe to represent their department or rank, Claire thought. His eyes were piercing red and she wondered how she had not seen that before. He watched her for a moment, looking her over and if a reptile could show emotions she could interpret, she could have sworn that his showed disgust. :: :: He took a step back and the door began to close. She almost thought that she would not get an answer, but just as the last gap brought a hint of light into the room she heard him. :: Reptile man: You are mocking us, you will die. Because ... you are wearing green. :: Then darkness came. Not only in the room, pitch black and swallowing, but also in Claire's heart. Who would have thought that choosing this one dress would have such consequences. She stared into the void, into the nothingness that surrounded her, getting a hold of her insides beginning to crush them under the weight of the knowledge what would happen next, because she had chosen a certain completely irrelevant dress to wear:: :: Feeling the salty traces of her despair run down her cheeks she hoped, prayed to any deity that would listen even if not her own, that she was found, so this shimmer of light had not been the last she ever saw. :: ------ Claire St. John Kindergarten Teacher USS Potemkin written by LtCmdr Jalana Laxyn Chief Medical Officer / Second Officer USS Apollo Image Team Facilitator
  23. To: Department of Fleet Logistics, Star Fleet Head Quarters, Earth From: Commander Fia Eckelson, Star Base 118 Star Date: 239108.20 Re: Implementation of a new Fleet wide uniform. Sir, Since the beginning of this year, I have had the duty of commanding the Public Relations and Workplace Efficiency Think Tank based out of Star Base 118. While I will not bore you with the details of the day to day operations of the think tank I would like to bring one of our latest projects to your attention as I believe it worthy of fleet wide implementation. This project centers around a complete overhaul of uniforms that Star Fleet personnel are required to wear while on duty. Before I continue, I will stress that I am recommending a new uniform scheme rather than removing the concepts of uniforms from the fleet. Uniforms play too much of a vital role even in civilian workforces to be discarded by Star Fleet. With that said it is the opinion of my think tank that from both a public relations and efficiency standpoint that the current generation of Star Fleet uniforms is lacking in many regards. With an ever evolving fleet which has many new but sorely implemented technologies at its disposal, it is believed that implementing a uniform scheme along the lines of what the proposal outlines will keep the fleet going strong into the future. Attached to this transmission you will find the complete proposal and supporting research in addition to holographic mock-ups of focus tested next generation uniform concepts. As I quickly came to expect of the Public Relations and Workplace Efficiency Think Tank, the proposal and supporting material is nothing less than completely thorough as well as painstakingly pieced together. For that reason it would be fairly redundant for me to go into too many details that you will undoubtedly read soon so I will just mention the following. The proposed changes are made on the premise that while the current standard day uniform is rather well designed. It was however primarily designed with day to day duties aboard a starship or on an M-Class planet in mind. What it doesn’t allow for is the rapid and unpredictable nature of Star Fleet. One minute three crew men are on a shuttle run, the next they are stranded in a desert dressed in that same day uniform which is rather ill-suited to deserts (the least of which is because the base fabric color is black). Like with most reported cases of such occurrences, those stranded did not have access to the appropriate specifically designed uniform to best much the terrain they would be visiting. No uniform created will ever be completely adaptable to any environment especially when used by members of Star Fleet but advances in bio-polymer based synthetic fabrics and even imbedded technologies such as communication equipment would turn that near disaster that I mentioned above into a not so bleak scenario. In that light the proposal also details other computerized technologies that can built into the next generation uniform that will undoubtedly enhance the way members of Star Fleet operate. During my time with the think tank I have heard some farfetched ideas but this one is something that I can wholeheartedly get behind. I hope that the rest of your department does the same. If you require clarification on any part of the proposal please contact me. I will be more the happy to oblige as will my team. Yours Sincerely, Commander Fia Eckelson Commanding Officer Public Relations and Workplace Efficiency Think Tank, SB118 ----- Ensign Atherton Grix USS Gemini
  24. (( Luxury Quarters, Stargazer Hotel, Orion )) Her feet were exquisitely pedicured in the French style, her long, muscular body tanned honey brown, her curly blonde hair streaming down her naked back to just below her shoulders. A jeweled belly button ring hung from her pierced navel, and aqua blue eye shadow, matching her dress, was meticulously applied. Her long, tanned legs were freshly shaved, and she looked down at the four inch stiletto aqua blue sandals lying at the foot of the bed, giving the six foot woman an even more towering presence…::: She scented her body with a combination of fragrances...one from Risa, one from Earth (Paris, more specifically), combining with a special oil from Orion itself. The fragrance was designed to be intoxicatingly powerful to the right male who took in the subtle fragrance...to others, she would just smell good. Designed to not lose its allure for several hours, the woman was sure sometime that evening, she would ensnare her prey…::: Her aqua blue mini dress lay on the bed. The halter top dress was tantalizingly short, with a deep, plunging neckline which ran down to just below her navel. Her only lament was that she had not been blessed with the most impressive bustline, but the realization that a bigger bust would tend to get in the way of her other activities, it was a trade off she could live with. They were not huge, but constant training ensured that they were perky, divided, and noticeable. Two-sided tape had proved its worth over the centuries, and as she slipped the wisp of a dress over her head, she applied it to the areas needed to keep her breasts obvious, and in place. Her fingernails were also aqua blue, just slightly longer over her fingertips...no false nails here..her hands allowed her to do the occasionally delicate work she did, so long false nails were a burden which was unneeded. A perfect, understated dash of aqua blue eye shadow adorned her eyelids. Standing in her bare feet, she looked in the mirror. Another regret crossed her mind. Here she was, checking in under an assumed name, in a dress she would never wear again, to charm a man she had grown to hate. Months of careful surveillance involving several operatives were going to culminate tonight in her administering the most harshest of penalties to a man who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Federation citizens and Starfleet personnel. That was not her regret...her regret was that she would have loved to have worn it for the massive, brash, but gentlemanly Special Forces Marine Hannibal Parker. A month ago, they met in a bar, took out four Nausicans, then spent a fantastic three days together. Kamela had never believed in love at first sight, but she knew that weekend was special. While they made no special plans, she knew they would find each other again. Putting on her high heel sandals, Starfleet Intelligence operative Kamela Allison was now ready to take on her assignment...a very nasty-tempered human from Alpha Centauri by the name of Phineas Tredeau...but it wasn’t his temper which interested SFI….it was his appetite for his willingness and ability to sell prohibited weapons to those not friendly to the Federation which had to be terminated with extreme prejudice...Tredeau had few weaknesses, but one was his Achilles’ heel...his desire of beautiful, tall, blond women. On a planet of beautiful women, where sex was as easy as saying hello, Kamela was the perfect bait. She knew where he was going to be...cultivated intelligence had made sure he would be in the club across the street soon. He was known to be punctual, but she had planned to make her entrance after he had eaten and was enjoying the scenery of semi-naked women and the opportunity to make a deal...an activity she would circumvent permanently. Grabbing her aqua blue clutch purse, Kamela headed out into the night...she would not return here when the deed was done. No matter how careful she was, she could leave no traces of her presence and would make her escape to the Federation embassy, then off the outlaw planet. There would be no DNA, no fingerprints...only the lingering odor of her fragrance would be the only acknowledgement that she had ever been there. Cutting off the lights, Kamela headed out the door, her heels clicking on the marble floor…….. Lieutenant Kamela Allison Operative Starfleet Intelligence
  25. OOC: Obviously, this is slightly un-canon, but it came out of a friendly speculative discussion when I was in grad school. K'tal looked at the Trill man, his mouth slightly open in shock. "You want to know what?" he said. "I said I want to know about the forehead thing. If I help you, you tell me," Azulay said matter of factly. He was stuck. He had to have the Trill Ambassador's help procuring the wine for his wedding, but the subject of the foreheads was not something that his people talked about ever. The prohibition was especially strict when it came to non-Klingons. He resolved to put it off as long as he could. "Deal, but I decide the place and time." "On your honor?" "Yes." The Trill man died only a few weeks later and K'tal thought he was safe, the secret of his people protected from the deal he had made with the Trill man. He had mourned Azulay's passing, but secretly thanked fate that he did not have to talk about his people's secret shame. That was, until that fateful day in San Francisco, almost three decades later. ----- K'tal suppressed a groan. Whenever he met with Joanna Wilde, the meetings always took interesting turns. This would likely be no different. It wasn't that he disliked her, really, but she was... well... too human. "Liaison Wilde, it has been far too long," the Ambassador said, taking the woman's hand in his own gnarled one. "K'tal," Joanna said with a smile, "I'd like you to meet my future daughter-in-law and Starfleet officer LtCmd Idril Mar." The Klingon turned towards her and nodded in greeting. Why was it that the name sounded familiar? Idril smiled, knowing he had no idea who she was. "Ambassador. You're looking a little older and a little more round in the middle, but good overall." The Klingon responded in his gruff voice. "I'm sorry, you have me at a disadvantage. Do I know you?" "We've met before," the Independence's Chief Engineer said with a smile, "but it has been about 25 years." She could see the recognition dawn on his face. "Mar... the Trill. Ah yes, how could I forget?" He slapped Idril on the shoulder. "You are looking much more attractive these days. Obviously the 25 years have been kinder to you than to me." He patted his rather rotund belly with a laugh. The redhead chuckled. A couple hours later, the two old friends found themselves at the bar, sharing a bottle of bloodwine and memories. The Trill's new host, though, seemed to be a much less capable drinker than the one with whom he had been friends. "Sho... I remember a promish you made to Azulay," Idril slurred out. "Oh? I remember no promise. Enlighten me, Mar." "The shmooth heads," she said. "What?" K'tal make a puzzled face, even though he knew exactly what she was talking about. "A censhury ago, lotsh of Klingons had shmooth heads you know, no ridgeshes or bumpies," she giggled. "How come you guysh had shmooth heads?" His demeanor changed from the boisterous and laughing to much more serious. "That is a complex story, Mar, and one we do not share." “A promish ish a promish, my old frend,” Idril slurred and slapped the Klingon on the shoulder. He sighed and took a long drink off his mug of bloodwine, then poured another. “I know. You must swear to never tell another.” “I schwear.” “Well, it began with the Enterprise.” “Kirksh ship? “No, before that. Archer’s ship, the first one." Idril looked puzzled, but stayed quiet. “The Empire was at war with the…” “The Shooliban. Yesh, yesh but what does thish have to do with the forehead bumpies?” “Well, remember, that Archer was the first human that the Empire had come across. His dealings with the Suliban impressed many on QonoS.” Ktal nodded, almost to himself. “He was seen as cunning and skillful and, incorrectly I might add, it was assumed the Archer was indicative of all humans.” The Trill woman, still a bit fuzzy, repeated her question. “What doesh thish have to do with the forehead bumpies?” “Remember, that only a few years after first contact, war broke out between Romulus and Earth as well.” The Ambassador took a drink of his wine, then continued. “For more than a century, even the Vulcans had been unsuccessful at taming their more aggressive cousins. They were considered one of the greatest threats to the Empire, an existential threat. Now consider that, within a few short years, Earth crushed the Romulan war machine and ended their threat to the whole quadrant. An epic victory. Some, especially among the youth, looked at the humans and saw a mighty warrior culture, one worthy of emulation in every way. Food… clothing… even literature.” The Klingon dropped his voice to a whisper. “Some whisper that the Empire organized a time-travel expedition to plant a translated Shakespeare in our history so that we could claim him as our own.” Idril hiccupped, then giggled at the notion. “Even after we and Earth began our own war, the fascination continued.” By this point, the drink and the heat in the room were obviously getting to the woman, and K'tal reached over to save her from falling unceremoniously off the chair. Joanna Wilde would not have appreciated her future daughter-in-law coming back with bruises. The drunk engineer waved off his help. “Ok, ok... sho the kidsh liked Earth. Why the smooth headsh?” “Then, in the late 2200s, cosmetic surgical practices began to be available on the homeworld. It became popular to… alter one's appearance to look more... human.” The Independence's Chief Engineer just gawked at the Klingon, her mouth open in shock. Then it began, a quiet giggle at first, but slowly building into full-out hysterical laughter. For more than a few minutes, everyone in the bar stared as K'tal shifted uncomfortably on his seat, wishing he was anywhere but in front of the manically laughing Trill woman. Idril fell off her chair and the thump on her backside seemed to sober her up a bit, at least so much as allow her to start catching her breath. “So you're shaying… it… it was a a fad?” she gasped out. “A fad,” the Klingon admitted. “And when you realished that humanity washn't a warrior cultushure…” she started, climbing back into her chair unsteadily. “Imagine our disappointment,” he finished. Idril’s mind was awash with images of dour Klingon warriors in blue jeans and bright orange mohawks and slipped into a fit of drunken giggling again. K'tal sighed, getting up and walking over to the bar to get a new bottle of bloodwine. When he got back, the redhead was passed out on the table. He poured another drink for himself and contemplated the evening’s revelations. ----- The next morning, Idril woke up on a couch that she recognized as one of the ambassadorial suites. Her head, though, felt like it was trying to hold in an out-of-control warp core. “Uuuuuuuugh,” was the only sound she could manage. “Here. Drink.” The voice, soft as it was, still set her head ringing. She took the drink: water with lemon in it. “You handled your wine much better when you were Azulay.” “I was fifty pounds heavier and male,” she replied, wincing at the sound of her own voice. “And I drank more then, too.” She took another sip of the lemon water, and opened her eyes the tiniest crack that she could manage. “I don’t remember anything from last night after we got to the bar. We were talking about something, weren’t we?" K'tal shrugged and responded without skipping a beat. “It wasn’t important.”
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