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  1. Barely holding it together Lieutenant Mellita Herodion stood at her customary station, Tactical, looking like she had just gone twelve rounds with a Klingon warrior. In truth her injuries had been caused in a two minute long scuffle with a male Orion during a boarding attempt of the USS Hornet. The boarding attempt was only the last significant attempt by the Orion Syndicate to reclaim a couple hundred beings that were meant to be sold as slaves but that didn't seem to matter to Melitta anymore as it once had. Melitta didn't care because having gotten precious little sleep in the past seventy-two hours and having the Hornet attacked time and again since the rescue, the problem the Hornet's crew faced had become so much bigger. Bigger then Melitta's scrapes and bruises and definitely more concerning then a group of political refugees as the Hornet, an Akira class vessel, had been damaged to an extent that warp two was the best that the old ship could manage with rapidly diminishing weapons capabilities. The funny thing was that even while Melitta worked at her console inputting commands with practiced speed and efficiency doing her best to ignore her tiredness, Melitta couldn't think of anywhere else she would prefer to be. She wouldn't have traded her place on the Hornet for that of a Sovereign class vessel or even to be on shore leave on her home world of Til'ahn more commonly known as Duronis two. Melitta looked up to see Captain Elise Kardon come out of her ready room with a grim look on her face and not for the first time since the ordeal had started. There was no need for Kardon to ask the status of the different departments because everyone around knew the answers would have been the same as the last time they had been asked. What had changed though was updates from Star Fleet Command that Captain Kardon was undoubtedly carrying. "Getting straight to it," Kardon said. "The nearest Star Fleet vessel won't reach us for another twenty-four hours. Our orders are to continue on course until then. Oh and nice work in regards to adapting that fighter's communications array Morris." "You did mention that this isn't about slaves anymore Captain," Commander Sam Felke complained. "Hell the Syndicate is hounding us to make a point. We should.." The first officer didn't get to finish his sentence as the Captain cut him off mentioning her utter disbelief that any of her officers would suggest disobeying orders from the Admiralty let alone hers. Melitta also found the idea unthinkable both morally and ethically not to mention that abandoning a mission was a sure fire way to kill one's career. Having said that she also knew that not everyone on the Hornet chose to be on an outdated ships that got into trouble a lot. Melitta only half listened as Felke and Kardon exchanged another round of tense remarks. The more Melitta thought about the more she realized that the First Officer had been acting increasingly unusual in the past day or so. At first Melitta thought nothing of it, it was just the pressure and fatigue getting to everyone but looking up from her console once more to see the human male pull his phaser from his belt and aiming it at the Captain made Melitta quickly rethink her analysis. Melitta hadn't been involved in a mutiny before that moment but it seemed very similar to when the boarding party beamed onto the Hornet. As Captain Kardon had been standing in front of the view screen she successfully dived for the cover of one of the bridge turbolifts but that wasn't Melitta's first priority. Backing up toward the engineering alcove directly behind her she came face to face with a nervous ensign pointing his phaser at her. Before it could be fired at Melitta she grabbed the ensigns head and slammed it into the console before quickly ducking into the alcove for cover. Perhaps the difference between defending against boarding parties and mutinies was that in split seconds friends and colleagues could become the enemy. Having served with some of the people around her for years Melitta hesitated in returning fire. Feeling rapid vibrations from multiple directions signaled to Melitta that phasers were being fired or about to be so she ducked just in time to avoid one such phaser blast. Typically Melitta didn't patently make use of her fielding abilities but it had saved her life as well as remind her that allegiances had been decided when she knocked out the engineering ensign. Out of the seven officers on the bridge Melitta was the only one to support Captain Kardon. She didn't know want had been said to convince the rest of the senior bridge crew to turn on Kardon and it didn't truly matter. Being the last person standing was what counted, motives could be discovered later. Staying as low as possible Melitta fired her phaser repetitively hitting the operations and science officers with marine-like accuracy. At the same time Kardon had stunned Morris who was at the helm. That left only Kardon, Felke and Melitta conscious. Ducking to avoid another series of phaser blasts aimed at her, Melitta only rose cautiously when she heard a thump sound. In the door way of the crew break room lay Commander Felke's body, Captain Kardon standing a couple meters away. Walking back to her console slowly Melitta let out a groan as she saw several warning indicator. One of which said that another Orion vessel was only five minutes away. "Are you ok lieutenant?" Kardon asked simply but with a grateful look on her face. Melitta moved a few stray locks of hair behind her ear before replying. "No injuries Captain but we do have another Syndicate vessel incoming. ETA four minutes, arming weapons and raising shields." Melitta stated before quickly speaking again in a slightly more lively manner. "Should I call for replacement crew Captain?" ------------- Lt. Commander Arden Cain First Officer USS Mercury NCC-99812
  2. Warp core is breaching Just panic on the whole deck Will we contain it Polorise the hull? My console just exploded Get a medic now A tear in subspace A transporter just gone wrong My Hypo-spanner! "Evacuate now Let me contain the core breach" "Sir, the doors are jammed" "The Geffories Tubes It is the only way out Go, go, go, go, go" My hand is bleeding Engineering is empty I am now alone Silence on the deck "Captain to engineering What is going on" "Warp core is breaching Transporters are offline And a subspace tear" "How long till the breach" "I am guessing ten minutes" "Can you contain it" "In five minutes sir" "I will expect it in two" "Ok I will have..." "OK Make it so" Warp core breach in 7 minutes "Yes sir, aye aye sir" Wrestle with the controls I will fight until the end Got to stop the breach I am the tamer My console a fierce lion I have to tame it Lives on my shoulders The fate of the entire ship I'll eject the core I have done it The warp core floating in space I'm an engineer END ---- Lt JG Jorus Cogud Helmsman USS Discovery-C
  3. Hello, folks, and welcome to the end of July! Our tireless judges of this special short contest have convened, voted, and returned to the mysterious depths from which they came, and I'm pleased now to announce our winners. The winner of the July Writing Challenge is Alleran Tan, with his story "Ethical Considerations"! Our runner-up is Idril Mar for her "Trek Noir"! Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to everyone who participated. To those of you who were entered in the Ongoing Worlds contest, their reactions will likely be mailed straight to you; regardless, any good news will be also find a place in these forums! Thank you to this round's judges: Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Captain Kali Nicholotti, Commander Karynn Brice, and Lt. Commander Arden Cain!
  4. Salutations, wonderful writers and regular readers, and welcome to this special Writing Challenge for the month of July! Please peruse this post with proper prudence, as it contains the guidelines, rules, and other important bits regarding entering your submission, which are a little different than usual for this unique Challenge. For this month only, we'll be drawing our inspiration from Ongoing Worlds's First Person Fortnight competition. This Challenge will not have a standard theme; instead, all stories must be written as a first person narrative. To participate in the Challenge, please create a new thread. From the "Topic Prefix" selection list, choose "Jul/Aug" -- don't forget to do this, because without it your story won't be considered for this round! You may denote your story as a "Work in Progress," but please do so at the beginning of the story (not in the thread topic), and remember to finish it before the deadline, as any story noted as a work in progress will not be considered. The deadline for this challenge is July 21st! That means you have just under three weeks to get your entries in, so begin thinking now! All entries in this Challenge will be judged by our panel in the usual way, but entries will also have the option of entry into Ongoing Worlds's contest. If you'd like to also enter there, please do the following: After you've posted your entry, post a reply to the entry stating that you plan to enter on your own; that you would only like to enter the 118 Challenge, not the Ongoing Worlds contest; or that you would like your entry entered into the Ongoing Worlds contest for you. Regardless of which of the three options you choose, remember to create a reply to your entry and let us know! Some standard rules and guidelines apply: *Your story should not be any longer than 5000 words. *Your story must be written in first person perspective. *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. As of today, Monday, July 2nd, this Challenge is open! The very last day to enter is Saturday, July 21st, so submit your entry soon! For any questions regarding our Challenge, remember that you can always visit the Writing Challenge website. For questions relating to the Ongoing Worlds contest, please see the contest link above, or post a reply to this topic asking your questions. Good luck!
  5. I had been pacing up and down the big house office, which was belonging for ages to my beloved. ‘Beloved?’ I thought to myself. I never truly loved him, so why am I lying to myself and everyone else about having loved him. 'He was true Rihannsu; pretentious, vain, sadistic and self centered. I mostly had good life with him and I respected that, but I never loved him. So why am I calling him beloved, I’m owner of everything, matriarch of the family, there’s nothing to lose if I admit it, except maybe the devotion of our children. Yes, that will always keep me from admitting the truth.’ “Where are they, why there are no updates from the team? They should be back already.” This was just another of easy missions, get in the lab, steal the information from computer, erase everything and burn all the samples they have. Nothing new, nothing different than 100 previous actions we did. ‘Only difference is I’m not there because of stupid flu.’ I was always there, because I knew there is no way I can cope with waiting and lack of information. I can’t cope with inactivity and now my legs hurt from pacing up and down the office, though I should be resting in my bed. “They are probably celebrating the success and forgot to turn the comm. system on.” Halisa was my nanny, helping hand and secretary for over 50 years. She always knew what to say to make me feel better, how to get me out of trouble and hold me together when I was losing my mind over whatever stupid problem occurred in my life since my arrival to household of Rihannsu, Rendet Ter’th. As always her comment made me smile and calm down a little. Was it her age, my respect for her or her soothing voice? No matter what it was it was always working. “Halisa, my dear.” How many times I wanted to ask her what she is still doing with me. She earned enough for cozy retirement and really don’t need to cope with nervous and panicking me all the time. ‘I will never ask her that, I can’t live without her.’ She’s my anchor in this rough Universe. Halisa rise from a sofa and hugs me. As already mentioned, she always knew best thing to do to make me feel better. Rendet never knew how to treat me. He was never good in treating anyone, so why would I be any different than others? “What bothers me is how hard it was to get the information on this lab. We never had so much trouble obtaining whatever we needed. What if...” Halisa hugged me harder shushing me. “Then you’ll figure out how to save them. But first wait to get the information from them, without inventing that worst case scenario. You should lay down a little or this flu will get worse and you’ll have to stay behind and wait next time all over again and be as jumpy as now.” “No, I have to be here when they call...” For the call that never arrived. I was right, it was a trap and my most trusted people were sitting in Federation prison. First news I received arrived whole week later... whole life later... Kolari, my first officer and trusted friend got 140 years in Federation high security prison. Hubin, his only child will join him for 120 years. Gailu and Raala, Ferengies in my team got both 120 years, but they were to return and by the agreement between Federation and Ferengi Alliance serve their time in prison on Ferenginar. Ondu Kussi, our good doctor. Bajoran I bought out from Syndicate. Always like a puppy, caring and loving. Young and innocent... 120 years in penal colony. T’Lun, shady Vulcan, quiet and dangerous demolitions specialist and gadget master. Invaluable member of the team. Even when we couldn’t buy the codes to get into the facilities she was always able to crack them and get us in. She got 140 years in high security prison, still she’s probably the only one who will ever see her family again. Before I could read all the information in first message, new one arrived. Sent by unknown sender. Probably one of the messages from the people I pay for information, no need to open it now. I don’t have team to continue my revenge run. Revenge... They killed Rendet Ter’th, my “not so” beloved husband... Why am I doing all this? Faces of my trusted people flew in front of my face. Sudden realization that they would never be assigned prison time if they revealed the person in charge makes me tremble. They revealed nothing; they protected me to the end. I screamed in rage and impotence. Romulan woman entered the office attracted by my screaming. “Halisa, help me. Tell me what to do!” I’m tossing the padd with a message in her direction. “What can you do?” She asked as calm and logical as always. “I don’t know Halisa, I don’t know. I can’t leave them to rot in prison for me.” Can I? If I do that it will be as I accepted Romulan ways. Did my life as a Romulan servant, wife, matriarch turned me in that. Have I lost heart or can I be saved. I’m 264, a lot for many, but young for El-Aurian. It is not how I was razed; it is not what I was destined for. Or maybe it was my destiny, maybe I had to live all the hardships to can handle this in the way best for my family. “I’ll make you raktajino, Lotte. Whatever you decide, it requires lot of thinking to can make good decision.” I just nod, though she already left the office. Second message... I have to open it. Why the feeling I have to open it when I know there’s no way I will gather team in time for it to be important. I’m still opening the message. ‘You can save your people if you surrender and confess your crimes. When you respond to this message it will open the channel to the negotiator who has permission to accept the deal deemed best for everyone. We’ll be ready whenever you call.” Halisa entered office and run to me aware that something is badly wrong. I’m trembling, rather shaking violently. “What’s wrong?” I’m showing her a message and again as always end in her bear hug. I’m crying, first just tears falling down my silent face then sobbing and shaking turning into a cry, scream, desperation. I wanted to save my people, my family. So why am I so afraid now? It’s Federation; they are weak and too nice to be vicious. I can deal with them... can I? I’m afraid. No, I’m frightened and my body knows that... I’m shaking and crying unstoppably. Halisa is carrying me to the sofa, covering me with soft blanket. As warm and soft as it is, it’s not helping me to feel any warmer. My chest hurts from hyperventilating; my eyes burn from tears and body hurts from emotional rollercoaster. “Leave me; I don’t want to be disturbed. Don’t let anyone in till I call you.” Halisa bowed and left the office. Three days later, after lot of tears, fear and changing my mind over and over again I made my decision. “Halisa, gather my children and Commanders, I made the decision.” Waiting for them to gather I took a shower and changed in fresh clothes. Three days in same clothes in closed office made me smell worse than lab dump. Refreshed and in clean clothes I brushed my hair and returned to the ventilated Office. Of course, as always and with everything Halisa took care of that. Speed with which everyone arrived was fascinating. “As you all know last action of my secret team you all knew everything about was a setup.” Her team was not public thing, but Romulans behaved as Romulans and she was getting information on who investigated the team from T’Lun regularly. Even her sons rather investigated it, than to ask her directly. “My people decided to keep quiet and save me, but I can’t leave it that way. Lab and factory to can work properly needs our connections in Orion Syndicate. Orions hold family to the highest regard and if I let my people, who are as much my family as you are to rot in prison when I can save them, would surely destroy respect we have in their orders and make further cooperation impossible. This is not up for debate, I made decision to surrender and I’ll negotiate terms as soon as you all leave the office. Dismissed!” As always they accepted my order and left the office, but as soon as the doors closed the discussion started and it obviously was not friendly since I could hear them yelling at each other for some time. It made me chuckle, actually. I will have to ask Halisa what it they were so passionate about was. I made a good point explaining my decision to my family, it was not my personal real reason, but my family needs strong and logical matriarch and not emotional mother who can’t leave her people to hang for her. Less they need an El-Aurian fed up with life among Romulans. Now the message... Negotiations took the best of me, after two days I was drained and almost ready to give up, when they came up with best offer ever. My people will be pardoned but have to stay out the Federation Space. My 120 years in high security prison was changed into service in Starfleet. After the Academy I will have to serve for at least 50 years in the Fleet before I can ask discharge from service. I can’t leave Federation space till my full 120 years of fine pass, but I will be allowed to travel freely throughout the Federation Space. Fair deal? No, not really. Two of my sons are serving in Romulan Military. They can’t visit me and I can’t visit them. After finding them fight who will be taking me there I decided to go in Family yacht. They escorted me to the Neutral Zone, both, with their whole fleet. I kissed Tapaul and Takath and beamed from Family yacht to Starfleet vessel waiting for me in Neutral Zone to take me to my new life... Lieutenant JG Vid-Lotilija Ph.D. Chief Science Officer USS Apollo http://goo.gl/A9TZT ~Newsletter Team Facilitator~ People say you can't live without love... ...I think oxygen is more important!
  6. ((USS Apollo, Sickbay, Now)) The room was packed with wall to wall casualties intermixed with medics rushing to save as many as they could. The sound was unbelievable. A wild mix of yells, shouted orders cries and moans of pain. A truly chaotic mess with no end in sight. One where everyone was stressed, struggling with the enormity of the situation. So it was no wonder that some of the worse cases had been shuffled to the back out of the way. Ones that nothing more could be done for. Like the young female Andorian Lt. jg. that had been recovered from the USS Nelson. She was alive, her vital statistics were close to stable but she was completely 100% brain dead. Just another of those hopeless cases that could be forgotten about until the more immediate needs of the other patients had been dealt with. Right next to her was another Andorian. This one was different. He was tall, so tall that his feet hung out past the end of the bed but that was not the only difference. Where her face had relaxed into a calm relaxed pose that resembled sleep his face was a rigid mask that could have been carved from stone. Between that and his massive physical structure he still possessed a faint air of grim determination. Like the female he was unconscious with no visible injuries or damage. Unlike the female he still had brain activity, unfortunately his was erratic. Something about the strange alien creature they had encountered was affecting him in ways they could not understand. So for now he rested alone near the back. Hooked up to various monitors, ones that normally would be heard and responded to, but that were ignored due to the cries, moans and yells of frantic patients, doctors and nurses pushed to the brink. Fighting to live, save another life or prolong the inevitable as long as possible. Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar was completely oblivious to all of this. To the conditions around him, the female beside him. Even to the fact that he was here, shuffled out of the way. His mind adrift in a sea of confusion, lost amid the shattered memories that had once been his life. ((Ten-nok VII, 23 years ago)) Tal reached up and wiped the blood from his face. His steel gray eyes watching carefully, waiting for the next attack. There were 3 of them. All older students here in the military training barracks. They eyed him with disgust, mocking expressions on their faces as they prepared to finish what they had started. Short clubs made of carved hard wood, baked under the harsh desert sun until they were as hard as metal clenched in their hands. When they moved, they moved as one. Their training showing in the tactics that they used to ensure he had no way to escape. Unfortunately for them Tal had no intention of running. He curled into a lose ball, seemingly scared as if he hoped to protect his vital regions by doing so. It was a ruse, one that worked. At least long enough that he was able to kick out with all his strength. His heel connected with the soft tissue associated with most species male reproductive organs. Tal never stopped moving. He followed it up by rolling to his left and using a leg sweep to take the feet out from under that attacker. Even then he never stopped moving, he continued to roll and only stopped when he slammed into the fallen body of the lad he had knocked down. They grappled with his opponent seeking to use his club while Tal merely reached out and grabbed his head. One swift twist followed by a sudden snap and a last final gasp and Tal let go, pushing himself off and over the now suddenly thrashing body. He was just in time as the edge of one of the clubs just missed his head. It did however slam into the skull of the still thrashing boy shattering his skull. Tal crouched, watching as his last standing opponent started to circle looking for an opening. Behind him in a pool of his own vomit lay the one he had kicked. His body was wracked by twitches and spasms as he continued to moan and gasp. Suddenly his entire body convulsed and he retched throwing up some more. Tal started to shift his body weight when someone kicked him from behind. His opponent took advantage of this and rushed forward club raised ready for use…. ((Ten-nok VII, 26 years ago)) Tal lay on the cool stone of the cave entrance. Outside the blazing sun was slowly starting to set. Hazy heat waves still confused his vision but soon that would change. The temperature would drop and he needed to find some food quickly. He had not eaten in almost 4 days and he could feel his stomach protesting as a result. Fortunately that was his only worry. Deep inside the cave was a small pool of clear water so he never lacked for that. Suddenly he spotted a small shadow low on the horizon. As he watched it slowly came closer. There was something unusual about it. He had never seen anything like it. As he continued to watch he saw that it was really more than one thing approaching. It was a small group of strange looking creatures. They moved in single file, one behind the other. What made them unusual was that they looked faintly like him but instead of blue skin these had dark crimson skin tones and wore strange things on their bodies. He wondered if there was a reason for the strange items even as he continued to watch and wonder what they were…. ((Ten-nok VII, 23 years ago)) Tal slammed the boys head into the stone pillar one last time then let him fall. Even as he did it he moved to put the wall behind him ready for the next attack. His steel gray eyes scanning the other students even as he spotted a small group of their instructors standing off to one side watching. Just then one of them stepped forward. He moved to the center of the room, stepped over one body and then turned to address the crowd. His stern face giving no indication of what he was thinking as he started to explain what Tal had done right and what he had done wrong to win the fight. For Tal it was enough that he had survived, he no longer sought or cared what his instructors thought when it came to him. All that mattered was learning all he could and being prepared for the next sneak attack….. ((Earth, Starfleet Academy, 15 years ago)) Tal walked along the corridor. As he did he scanned the numbers on the doors looking for the one they had told him was his. He found it, about half way down the hall and immediately opened the door and walked in. As he did he heard a strange high pitched shriek. It made his antenna twitch and he turned towards the sound. There on the bed lay 2 people. One was obviously a male. Most likely human as he resembled so many of that unusual species. The other was female with long lavender hair, exotic purple eyes and she seemed to be upset about something as she grabbed for the sheets and quickly covered up her naked body. Tal turned away, his eyes scanning the room. One half was decorated and obviously occupied while the other was bare with only the bed, desk and a closet. He stepped over and dropped his stuff on the bed as he heard movement from behind him. Turning back he was surprised to be confronted by what seemed to be an enraged male almost as tall as himself. The man had long shoulder length blonde hair, blue eyes and a well developed athletes body, one that had seen a lot of sun if the bronze skin tones were any indication. When he spoke he had an unusual accent that seemed to suit him. “Hey, what do you think your doing.” “I was told by student registration that these would be my quarters. I assume that since you are using that bed, that this one is mine.” Tal replied calmly. “That’s not what I meant. Didn’t you see the do not disturb sign on the door.” “No. Did you require privacy?” “Yeah. What the hell did you think I was doing when you barged in?” “I have no idea. Regardless I will not intrude on your activities. You may proceed.” With that Tal turned and reached for the single, small duffle bag that held every thing he owned. Suddenly he was grabbed by the shoulder and Tal spun back faster than expected. He easily blocked the punch and was about to return it when he forced himself not to. He had no idea why this man was so angry but as much as he wanted to pound him, he may have had reason to do as he did. Not for the first time Tal felt totally out of place. As Tal just stood there he noticed the facial expression on the other guy change. He had no idea what that meant, but he did understand the sudden relaxation of his tensed muscles. He was no longer willing to continue their physical disagreement. “You really do not know do you?” “I am not sure I understand the question.” Tal replied. “Ha, ha, you are one weird dude. I think this is going to be one hell of a year.” As he said it Tal let him go and stepped back. “My names Jason Stone, from the sunny beaches of Australia here on Earth and that lovely young lass over there behind me is Risa Tial from Bandora IV.” Tal looked at first one then the other before he responded. Jason had a huge smile on his face while the girl merely gave him a small grin and nodded in response. “I am Tal Tel-ar, I am Andorian from Ten-nok VII.” “Never heard of the place, anyway now that we have been properly introduced could I ask you to go take a very long walk and get acquainted with the grounds.” Jason asked with a grin. “Me and Risa were just discussing various aspects of interspecies bonding and it is probably going to take a while.” Tal looked at first him then the girl before he replied. “As you wish.” Then he gave a slight nod of his head and headed towards the exit….. ((USS Apollo, Sickbay, Now)) A young female nurse paused to examine the data readouts on the monitors and automatically did a reset and diagnostic. When the readouts remained the same she quickly turned and waved her arm to get someone’s attention. It worked and a few seconds later she got a response. “What is it?” “His neural activity is getting more erratic. Dropping close to coma levels with occasional spikes that could indicate synopsis failure.” “Increase the setting on the neural stimulators to 21.86 and give him 85 cc’s of dopamine and 120 cc’s of phloraphine.” “Understood Doctor, anything else?” “Just keep an eye on him and pray.” With that he turned away and hurried over to his next patient…. ((USS Eagle, Tal’s personnel quarters, 6 years ago)) Tal stood in the center of his room. His tall athletic body slowly twisting and turning through a complex series of ancient movements that did not over tax his current physical capabilities. At least he could stand now. For a while he feared he might never walk on his own again. As the thought drifted through his mind he glanced over to where the hover chair he had been confined to for the last year sat waiting in case he might need it again. Doing so momentarily messed up his concentration and he over extended causing a sudden sharp jolt of pain to slam into his spine which nearly caused him to fall over. He caught himself and slowly straightened up. As he did Tal clenched his fists. It was the only outward sign that he was [...]ed. Otherwise he was as he always was, apparently calm and unconcerned. Just then his door chime sounded. For a moment he almost did not recognise the sound. No one ever visited him in his quarters. In fact no one ever spent any time around him off duty and very few spent any time around him on duty. Without a second thought Tal walked over towards the door as he spoke. “Enter.” The door responded to his voice and automatically opened to reveal Ensign Elina Kincaide. She stood there holding his back brace in her hands. She had shoulder length black hair, clear pale skin and for some reason her face suddenly turned beet red. Tal stood there waiting for a moment before he repeated his statement. “You may enter Ensign.” “Ahh…. Thank you sir… “ For some reason she seemed uneasy. She kept looking anywhere but at him and each time her eyes strayed in his direction she seemed to get a little redder. “Is there a problem Ensign?” “Your naked…..” ((Cart’hen III, City of Mith, Police detention cell, 7 years ago)) Tal hung from the ceiling, his feet about a foot off the floor. His clothes lay in a pile near by and he felt a slight chill from the cold damp air. He must be pretty far underground for him to feel like that. Either that or he was in worse condition than he thought. He knew that up above on the surface that it would be 45 to 50 degrees in the shade. A mild day according to the locals. He heard a sound and managed to lift his head. He could only see out of one eye and as he expected it was the same man that had been questioning him for the last few hours. Evidently it was time for some new questions. “You must be feeling a little tired by now. Tell you what. Admit that you’re a hired assassin and I’ll cut you down.” Tal tried to speak, managed to swallow and finally croaked out a reply. “Lt. Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar. Federation Officer, USS Eagle.” He was rewarded with a sudden massive blow to his lower back that sent jolts of pain flashing up and down his body. “Lets try that again @#$%^&*. Admit that you’re a Federation assassin.” Tal fought the waves of pain that threatened to wash over him and spoke again. “I am Lt. Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar. Federation Officer, USS Eagle.” Again he was struck with the yard long steel rod. This time he failed to ride the waves of pain…. ((USS Eagle, Engineering, 6 years ago)) Tal looked up at the current Chief Engineer as he spoke, something that he was slowly getting use to ever since he had been confined to this @#$%^& hover chair. “Lt. Chalmers, I understand that your staff are busy. I only require 1 of them to make the necessary repairs and recalibrate my back brace.” “Look sir. I understand your wanting to be able to get up and walk but the ship took one hell of a pounding. We’re lucky to still have power and we’re trying to keep it that way.” “Lt. I would appreciate it if you could assign someone to repair this device today.” As he said it Tal held up the damaged back brace that he was holding. Lt. Chalmers ran one hand through his hair while looking around. He looked tired and slightly worn out as his eyes searched the room looking for something. “All right. Ensign Kincaide over there is probably the best suited to the job. Tell her I said she needs to fix it. Now if you’ll excuse me sir, I have work to do.” With that he turned and walked off. Tal activated the controls on his hover chair and floated over to where she was crouched down in front of an access panel. Her tool box was open beside her and she was busy working on something and muttering under her breath while doing it. “Ensign. May I have a word with you.” Tal asked. “Look I’m busy. Go fix it yourself.” She replied with out turning around. “If I could I would Ensign. However this device requires more skilled hands that I have.” She muttered a groan as she pulled her arms out of the opening in front of her and stood up while turning around.“Look can’t you see I’m busy…. Ohhh….”Suddenly her expression of exasperation changed to one of surprise and contrition. “Sorry sir…. I didn’t realize… I mean….” ((Cart’ hen III, City of Mith, Subterranean tunnel, 7 years ago)) They hurried along the narrow passage way ignoring the stench and occasional clump of noxious material. Between the 2 largest members of the rescue team hung the naked form of their Chief of Security, Lt. Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar. He looked like hell warmed over and then stomped by a herd of wild bison. Suddenly they slowed to a stop. “What’s wrong?” “I’m not sure but I think he’s coming to. Besides I gotta rest a moment Lt. Cmdr.” Was the panted reply. “The chief ain’t some lightweight you know.” “All right take 10. Palmer check him out. Let me know his status.” “Sure thing.” He replied as he moved forward and started to conduct an examination. Tal opened his one eye and looked around. Things were a little blurry but he recognised the people around him. Evidently they had sprung him from his situation. He tried to reach out and grab the man next to him. Instead it was he who reached out and took his hand. “Cmdr. Tel-ar. Listen to me. We have to get you to the ship. You have massive internal injuries and extensive damage to your spine. Do you understand?” Tal tried to speak as his eyes rolled back into his head. The last thing he heard was, “We’re losing him sir. We got to ……” ((USS Apollo, Sickbay, Now)) “DOCTOR!!!” yelled the nurse from where she stood next to the bed holding the impressive figure of an Andorian Cmdr. “Neural activity is dropping.” Suddenly she was pushed aside as the doctor rushed up to see for himself just what was going on. His fingers moved to the neural simulators and increased the charge, more than doubling their output. “Sir isn’t that setting dangerously high?” “It is but we need to try and stimulate activity. Last thing I want is to tell the Captain we have 2 brain dead Andorians down here.” “Understood.” “Get me 50 cc’s of adrenalin, 200 cc’s of Zormadine, 35 cc’s of Korvindamine and another 60 cc’s of phloraphine.” “I thought you couldn’t use Korvindamine on Andorians. It was considered too risky.” She asked as she prepared the meds requested. “It is but I’m hoping the phloraphine will lessen the bad side affects and give us a positive response.” The doctor replied as he took the first hypo spray and administered the medication. As soon as he was done he reached for the next one. ((Earth, Scotland, Kincaide Manor, 4 years ago)) Tal turned to watch as Elina and her father walked slowly towards him. She looked radiant dressed all in white and he had to wonder again how he had ended up here. It had been a strange, surreal experience for him. One in which he was never really sure how and why they were together. Not that he regretted it. No in fact for some peculiar reason he really did not understand he not only enjoyed being with her but looked forward to every moment spent with her. ((USS Apollo, Sickbay, Now)) The nurse suddenly reached over and stopped the doctor from applying the hypo spray in his hand. “Nurse. What do you think your doing?” “Look at the monitor. His adrenal levels just jumped.” “What?” Exclaimed the doctor as he turned to examine the data displayed for himself. “But that’s impossible.” ((USS Challenger-A, 3 years ago)) “Well Doctor how is she?” Tal asked as soon as the doctor had entered the room. “Honestly she is doing better than expected. As you know there was some concern since most mothers of hybrid species babies suffer some complications.” “You explained all this to me all ready Doctor. My concern right now is for my wife.” “Well in that case Cmdr. I can tell you she is in great condition and so are your 4 babies. You may go in and join her if you like.” “Thank you Doctor.” Tal replied as he turned and headed towards the room he knew Elina was in. ((USS Apollo, Sickbay, Now)) “What is it?” asked the nurse. The doctor turned towards her with a confused look on his face as he replied. “I’m not sure. Somehow his body is fighting what ever is happening to him.” “Could this be a normal physiological reaction due to his species?” “I doubt it. Patients about to drop into a coma never suddenly start to produce adrenaline, cortisone, endorphines, seratonin, or dopamine. Let alone at such levels. It’s like his body is trying to kick start his neural activity on its own.” ((USS Challenger-A, 2 years ago)) Tal stood on the bridge. His gaze fixed to the forward view screen ahead of him. This was it. His first real command, this was the chance of a lifetime. One he planned not to waste. After all he had been through, growing up as a primitive barbarian on a pre-industrial world, then to be found and educated but tossed away by his own species, forever bared from returning to Andor by an act of the Science Council. Finding himself suddenly among strangers all over again, lost in a world he never really understood even though he enjoyed the challenges of the Academy. Even his career with Starfleet, spending most of his time as an Ensign in one brig or another every time he got shore leave. Returning to the Academy for more training, then making the rounds as he served on first one ship then another. Follow that by meeting and falling in love with a human female who due to severe complications during her second pregnancy had left Starfleet and him to return to Earth. Now this…. ((USS Apollo, Sickbay, Now)) “He’s starting to convulse. It’s too much for his system.” Exclaimed the Doctor as he threw his upper body on top of the suddenly convulsing Andorian on the bed in front of him. “What can I do?” asked the nurse. “Reduce the neural stimulators output by 50% first then give him 75 cc’s of Covalinamine.”The doctor ordered as he was almost tossed off. The convulsions were getting worse. The nurse did as ordered then added her body weight to that of the doctors. Even then he easily bounced the 2 of them around. Suddenly his entire body arched, held that pose for a couple seconds then he collapsed to lie still. They both waited a few moments before they stood up, glancing at each other to make sure they were both all right. Then the doctor checked the data on the monitors did a couple quick scans and finally turned to face the nurse with a small smile on his tired features. “He should be ok now. Just let him sleep.” Then he turned to go help the next patient that needed help.
  7. This is posted on behalf of Ensign Edward Johnson. ------------------------------- I turned from that strange place with those vibrant and eccentric minds. The entity called Nari Covania had been an excellent conduit to communicate with the world. If only those other entities had not been so hostile, I would have been communicable. And the entity Nari Covania would never had to destroy the other entities. And that entity had a strong will. So strong... I regret of having to use her. And those... memories? They were so vivid... it was stirring something inside... what was it? A remnant of that memory was still coursing through me. The sensation of an entity brushing his... lips? Yes, it seems to be the word the entities used. The sensation of lips brushing against entity Nari Covania's and the resulting explosion of longing... This is making me sick with the feeling. This longing.... I do not know what I am longing for. It is powerful though, and the more I ponder on it, the more this feeling grows. This emotion is unlike anything I felt before. I sense something. There is something coming around the corner. No, there is four of these entities. And there is something with them that is too vibrant to be them. One of the entities is probing the area ahead of the rest with... tricorder. Yes, that is the word that entity Nari Covania had in her memories. The moment it touches me, the probe passing through me and disappearing into the device, the entities suddenly stop. I shiver in expectancy. There is a power with them that burns bright. The entities round the corner of the hallway. They are looking down a long object... Suddenly, the word comes to me through entity Nari Covania's memories. Phaser. A weapon. They are aiming at me.:: I understand them. They are closing in... too close... It is too much to take. I release my pent up energy in a brilliant flash. I feel myself grow weaker at it but I do not care. A sudden burn next to me shoots radiant energy all across me. It is painful... I fear for my life. I turn away and go towards the other end of the hall. I feel energy pulsing in the walls. I am beginning to feel weak from all the exertions. I need energy. Ironically, I do believe that is the correct word from entity Nari Covania's memories, another burst of energy lands next to me. Fearing the entities, I come close to the wall. Part of it appears fake. In desperation, I jump towards the influx of energy. I easily push through the cracks f the wall and suddenly find myself surrounded by everything. Information and energy is everywhere... Now I learn that I am in a... Achilles-class ship... USS Apollo... NCC-71669... Captain Andrus Jaxx... United Federation of Planets... Starfleet... Earth... Now I know that they come from one place. I do not know from where I came from. The one I knew that was a part of me is gone. I felt the connection tear and rip painfully as entity Nari Covania resisted me. I screamed in pain. I scream again, from the anguish it has caused me. As I do so, a surge from me spreads across these systems I now inhabit. Suddenly, everything becomes harder to see... it feels as if the entities have become alarmed. I sit in the midst of a swirling current of energy, waiting for the entities to try and find me. As I sit there, I finally know the source of my longing. Information from the... ship... tells me of the part I knew is gone from this dimension. The source of my longing is coming from the fact there is nothing like my kind left. I know that there is perhaps a dozen in our universe but here, there is none. As I sit in what is called the auxiliary deflector control, I realize something. I am alone... and I long for my kind. The Inter-dimensional Creature Ensign Edward Johnson Helm USS Apollo
  8. Idril Mar

    Trek Noir

    The twin suns beat down on the harsh desert like a redheaded step-child, which was ironic in a way, because I'm a redhead myself. The guy sitting next to me didn't look much better in this sun, being a blonde with a bad sense of humor and a worse attitude at the moment. My name: Idril Mar. His: Danny Wilde. "Well, it looks like they took the converter matrix." I slid out from under the relay, standing and dusting off the backside of my pants. "And that is…," said Danny from behind me, where I knew he was admiring my now slightly-less dusty backside. "That is, Lieutenant, the piece that makes this hunk of scrap work." I replied acidly, kicking the centuries-old piece of junk like a dog that had just relieved itself all over my favorite rug. I was hot, tired, hungry and fed up with his attitude, even if he was easy on the eyes and I was mildly interested in him. We had been stranded together on this backwater no-water planet for a little over 4 days. The heat in the day was scorching and the nights were as cold as my grandmother's freezer box back home, the kind of cold that made your face think it was awake but tried its best to drain the life out of your backside while you weren't looking. Thankfully we had stumbled onto a cave system that had apparently been used by some race as a hideout from the scorching outside. It provided a little bit of shelter from the hot and the cold, as well as some water, but the only technology of any use, planted, as luck would have it, about 30 feet out in the suns, was this stupid communications relay,. Believe me, when I say stupid, I don't mean it lightly. I mean stupid like the Pakleds, not that I'm racist or anything. This relay was wired up like somebody's Altarian spaghetti bowl and it had taken me two days just to unwind it and figure out that it was a relay in the first place, then another day to figure out what was wrong with it. The only thing wrong with it was that it was missing the most important piece and that piece had likely wandered off recently. The 3-toed footprints next to the relay told that story well-enough. "Hey, look, I wonder if these footprints could lead us anywhere," my sharp-witted companion said, being as he was a security officer with a self-believed knack for investigation. I just rolled my eyes and tried not to say anything too far over his head technologically speaking. As we followed them, they led back into the cave complex, but through an entrance that the two of us had not yet gone into. Standing at the opening, I smelled a smell, something that made me want to retch, something that spoke of of our 'collectors' being a race without nostrils. Danny covered his nose, for all the good I figured that it did him. "Are you sure we need that thing?" My nose, being more sensitive than his, was looking for a way to crawl off the back side of my head as I nodded tersely to him. "In we go, then." Danny has this way of pointing out the obvious, like a doctor pointing out the injuries on a red-shirt to the redshirt, though they didn't make it back too often as it was. I ignored it and followed him in. Unlike our part of the caves, lit by crystals that let in some sunlight, this one was dark, dark like a starless night. It took a few moments to let our eyes adjust before we could see that this cave was really a tunnel, one that went deeper into the rocks than ours. I took the flashlight out of my utility belt, standard issue for any engineer would her salt, which I liked to believe I was, and we walked on, following the footprints like some modern-day Hansel and Gretel, only hopefully there wasn't a witch at the end of the trail bent on eating us. We'd walked for about five minutes into the inky blackness, the dim illumination from my flashlight the only thing showing the way, when we realized something was down the hall from us, something glowing. I turned off the light and we could see that it was glowing green. It was a sickly green, the color that food gets when you leave it in the replicator for a couple of days without recycling it, the color that makes you think about slime and other things that tend to turn your stomach. Walking a little bit further, we came up to the edge of a large cavern. As we looked in, the inhabitants saw us too. I'll spare you all the gorey details, but suffice to say that, despite some sort of energy-dampening field that prevented our use of our phasers, we managed to 'take care of business,' if you know what I mean. A little while later, we were back out in the scorching sun, where I finished plugging the stupid converter matrix back into the relay and soldered the last connection nice and tight. Standing up, my muscles screamed at me; the fight over this piece of machinery had been brutal such that it felt like a pair of prize-fighters were still beating on me. Danny and I were both bruised head to toe and bleeding in a couple places. "This had better be worth it," I said as I reached for what I thought was the power switch to turn on the relay. At that very moment, a Federation type-9 shuttle appeared in the sky overhead. A voice crackled out of my comm-badge. "I hope you two behaved yourselves on your vacation," the voice said, with the grin on the pilot's face as plain through the clear signal as the flickering light running through the hard-won matrix in front of me. Such was the life of an engineer.
  9. Captain's log, personal. Filed under security lockout. It's rare that I don't make my log entries available for public view, and I realize that, like all Captains' logs they've become almost required reading at Starfleet Academy to train the new cadets, but there are some things a Captain must keep to himself. I just finished writing the last of the letters that will be delivered to the families of the fallen. This mission was, to say the least, highly demanding in both blood and treasure. A lost ship, a bioweapon, and dozens of lives lost. As Captain, I'm expected to write the letters, say the appropriate things, and move on. As a senior Captain in Starfleet the demands become even more absurd-I'm expected to get used to it. I'm expected to set my jaw as I look at the young Vulcan burned beyond recognition while fighting a fire in Engineering. I'm expected to keep a..I believe the humans call it, a "stiff upper lip" as I pass by the now-still body of a friend who was killed in a firefight. I'm even expected to keep my emotions under control when a killer who has haunted my family for a decade is freed from prison and allowed to roam free on my ship. And I somehow managed to do all of these things. But these four walls will tell no tales. This terminal will lock the entry away so that only I can retrieve it. And here I can truly say how I feel and let those emotions out for a long-deserved walk around my soul; for I am haunted. Haunted by ghosts from my past-all of those poor people that I'm expected to go on without. All of the flag-draped coffins and, even worse, empty graves, that are supposed to symbolize and epitomize the person. If I were to let the cynic in me run wild, I would snort in derision at the notion that they died for a noble cause. My Ba'ku upbringing demands that I believe every life is precious and needed in this universe; that the loss of even one soul diminishes us all. And somewhere I believe that. But there's something else I believe as well. These people died fighting to keep what is precious to them from perishing. Each and every soul that I have laid to rest, each letter I've written to grieving parents, DOES have a meaning. It MUST, or I dishonor not only the person who has died but the cause they died for. I and everyone else sleep under the blanket of protection that they helped provide. Our way of life, our government, and our freedom is regularly cleansed and washed in the blood of patriots. Their sacrifice gives me the freedom to make this log entry. The freedom to raise my children as I see fit, in a society where I control who my leaders are and the laws that are made. They even allow those who want to destroy that society to have a voice, because freedom isn't freedom without it. Their sacrifice allows any race, creed, color, sexual orientation and intelligence to have an equal voice in their society and how it functions. By no means are we perfect, and by no means were their deaths somehow more or less effective than in the past-all life is significant, just as all freedom is precious. As I sit here tonight, in my comfortable chair, gazing out the window of a starship that represents that society and defends her, I pray that they shall not have died in vain, and that their sacrifice is remembered by those who knew them, and respected by those who live in freedom because of them. Computer, end log. ============================== Captain Tyr Waltas Commanding Officer USS Discovery
  10. Greetings, everyone, and thanks for your patience! I'm pleased to announce that the judges for this round -- Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Lieutenant Commander Arden Cain, Lieutenant Alleran Tan, and Commander Aron Kells -- have conferred and selected a winner and a runner-up from the entries. The winner of the May & June Writing Challenge, with her story, "Time Is...," is Kali Nicholotti! Our runner-up, with his entry into his ongoing saga, "The Broken Clock - Time for a Last Stand," is Eyas Wulfantine! Congratulations to you both! The May & June stories and rules, save this response thread, have been moved to the 2012 Hall of Fame. Stay tuned for news today regarding July's special contest....
  11. Hello, lovely writers and dutiful readers, and welcome to the third Writing Challenge of 2012! Please peruse this post with proper prudence, as it contains the guidelines, rules, and other important bits regarding entering your submission. Alleran Tan, winner of the March/April Challenge, joins your esteemed panel of judges for this round, and has also chosen the challenge topic, "A Broken Clock." Certainly time travel has been an important part of the Trek world for many years, from 2009's movie to the finales of TNG and Voyager, but how will your entry interpret the theme? I and the other judges can't wait to find out! To participate in the challenge, please create a new thread. From the "Topic Prefix" selection list, choose "May/Jun" -- don't forget to do this, because without it your story won't be considered for this round! You may denote your story as a "Work in Progress," but please do so at the beginning of the story (not in the thread topic), and remember to finish it before the deadline, as any story noted as a work in progress will not be considered. As always, please remember: *Your work must be completely original. *You must be the sole author of the work. *Your story must take place in the Star Trek universe, but may not center upon canon characters. *Sign your final draft as you would a post on your ship. *Your story must be between 300 and 3000 words. As of today, Friday, May 4th, this Challenge is open! The very last day to enter is Friday, June 22nd, so get in your entry before then! For any questions you might have, remember that you can always visit the Writing Challenge website. Good luck!
  12. Tal breathed in the hot dry air as the transporter affect vanished leaving him stranded on the surface of Cart’ahen III for the next 2 weeks. It was almost like coming home. That is if Tal had a home. He never had, however he had been raised in the training barracks on Ten-nok VII. Just like this world it was a hot dry desert and he suspected that those were not the only similarities between the 2 worlds. However unlike Ten-nok VII, the indigenous people of this world had not been allowed to develop on their own. They had been easily conquered and enslaved by the Klingons. Then they had spent the next ?? years working in various mines. It was only when the Klingons had found better sources of raw ores closer to home that they finally abandoned the world and left the natives to try and survive on their own. Now true the Klingons still had a facility on the planet but now all it housed were criminals and political guests. A glorified prison with the reputation that no one had ever escaped or been released. Add to that the various cities and towns that had been developed by more species than it was reasonable to expect in one place and you had the current hell hole that was Cart’ahen III. A place where anything goes, where corruption goes hand in hand with greed, avarice and brutality. And those were just some of the finer sentiments that motivated the majority of the population. Fortunately that was not why he was here. Instead he was here because he was bored and an old friend from the Academy had asked him for a favour. Now true she was not really a friend. Merely one of the many young ladies that his room mate had dated during their time at the Academy. However she had been instrumental in helping arrange Tal’s very first date. So in a way Tal did own her one. Besides when he had heard her request he had been intrigued. It seems she was doing some research and needed some first hand, eye witness data about the small percentage of natives that had decided to return to the old ways and live a nomadic existence in the deserts that covered most of this planet. Their situation was not only unusual but fairly unique. After all how many species had undergone the extreme social upheaval that they had been subjected to. According to the records the Klingons had forcible stripped them of all their history, culture and social traditions in order to make better workers out of them. Then after generations of hard labour and brutal domination they had just been tossed out to fend for themselves. So here he was, deep in the desert, as far from any of the larger communities as he could get. And while he could never attempt to pass himself off as one of them he could try to make his presence less offensive. So as a result he had left his uniform behind and was dressed like one of them. Or at least as much like them as the few data files that were available seemed to indicate they dressed. Suddenly his antenna detected something. It sounded like movement. They were coming from a couple different directions and seemed to be moving fairly rapidly. Tal lifted the hood off his head to allow his antenna better access to the sound waves. It would also serve the purpose of identifying him as an outsider. According to the few files that had been available, the nomads were normally hostile towards anyone not a member of their small tribe. The only exception to this were the few traveling traders that moved from place to place. Most of the tribes considered them to be too valuable a source of rare goods to ever risk offending them. Hence the 2 huge packs that Tal had on his shoulders. Tal waited patiently. The sun beat down and soon sweat started to bead his forehead and still he waited. Then suddenly over the top of the closest dune came a man dressed all in flowing robes the color of the sands around them. He kept walking until he was only a few arms lengths away. Then he unwrapped his face and tossed back his hood. His features were unusual but the scars made him look tough, dangerous. Even through the robes Tal could tell he was strong. His eyes were cold, hard with a kind of restrained anger that could erupt at the least provocation. He stared back, looking Tal over. Judging him. Evaluating his right to live. Evidently Tal passed muster because a slight grin crossed his homely features as he brought his left hand up and struck himself on the right side of his chest. When he spoke his voice was deep, yet soft. With that elusive quality that let you know he was in charge. “Welcome stranger. May you always have water and never become lost.” “May you always have water and strong sons to follow in your foot steps.” Tal replied. And with that simple exchange of greetings Tal was welcomed amongst them. They brought him to their camp. Gave him food and water and spent many hours bartering for the goods that Tal had brought with him. While he did not truly care if he made a profit he knew he needed to play the part if he was to learn as much as possible about these people. In the end he knew they got the better of him but he did not care. For the first time in a long time he felt almost relaxed. Like he had found something that was missing, something that had so far been missing from his life. In the process he had been able to amass quite a bit of what he hoped would be useful data. So here he was, nearing the end of his shore leave. Standing near the tent he had been sharing with a number of single males. It was merely a suspended canopy that blocked the sun but still allowed full movement and sight in any and all directions. The sun was just reaching it’s zenith and the heat was climbing slowly. Soon it would be so hot that any exposed skin coming into contact with metal or rock would be burned. As a result the last few members of the tribe that were not already in the shade slowly moved to join the rest. Tal turned and was about to join them when something made him stop. He turned back and looked out towards the surrounding sand dunes. Heat waves danced their shimmering little dance, distorting even his enhanced vision. There was little sound, just the idle chatter of people relaxing. Most of the animals were asleep, but even those few who were not made very little noise. Something seemed wrong, but try as he might he could not find any reason for why he felt that way. Everything seemed the same as always. Was the heat starting to get to him? Tal finally gave it up with a slight shake of his head and turned back towards his tent. WWWWWWHHHOOOOSSSHHHHHH Tal threw him self forward into the tent but the ground rose up and slammed into him. Dust was everywhere, obscuring his vision and something had landed on top of him. He managed to twist enough so that he could reach back and push it off only to see that it was one of the men he had been sharing the tent with. His lifeless eyes stared off into the distance, covered with a thin film of dust. Looking around Tal spotted a huge crater in the ground where the far side of the tent use to be. Everything was tossed around, scattered piles of flesh and equipment mixed with sand and blood. Tal crawled towards a large pile of debris as more lethal sounds shattered the air. These were intermixed with screams of pain, rage, anger and fear. Tal shoved his hand inside his robe, fishing for the small hand phaser he had brought with him as he pushed himself up and glanced over the mound he was crouched behind. It looked worse than it sounded. Everywhere he looked people were running around, stumbling in a daze or cowering behind anything that might offer the least little bit of protection. Mixed in among them were a few strangers, men with bloody blades who hacked and slashed at anything that came close to them. As he watched Tal saw a young girl almost cut in half when she staggered out in front of one of them. Tal raised his phaser to shoot but before he could, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye and rolled away just in time. A large sword like weapon slammed into the ground where he had been lying just a second ago. The man wielding it was splashed with blood. His face a snarling mask of rage as he lunged forward. Again Tal managed to roll out of the way before the blade could make contact. Only this time his body stopped moving when he smashed into a pile of debris. He was trapped with no where to go as the blade was lifted up and started to fall. Suddenly the man dropped the blade as a large spear head exploded out of his chest splattering Tal with his blood before he dropped to the sand. A large foot slammed down on his back as the tribesman that had finished him twisted and tugged on his weapon trying to free it from the body at his feet. Tal started to get up, spotted another on of their attackers approaching the tribesman from behind and managed to get off a shot that slowed him down long enough for Tal to hit him again. This time he fell backwards onto the dead man that had landed on Tal earlier. Getting to his feet Tal looked around carefully. Each time he spotted one of their attackers he fired a shot. After about 6 shots he could not spot any more of the enemy. An eerie, unnatural quiet had descended on the camp. One intermixed with moans and the agonizing cries of the wounded. Tal waited a few more seconds then moved towards where the fighting seemed to have been the worst. He stepped over bodies and around piles of gear. It was all such a waste. Such a needless waste he thought. Tal twisted aside as a spear was thrust towards him. He felt the edge of the blade cut the skin on his stomach just before the point struck his phaser. It glanced off but damaged it so badly in the process that it overloaded and lightning like arcs of energy exploded out of it. The result was that his hand felt like it had been subjected to an electrified firestorm. The phaser dropped from his now useless hand as Tal ducked under the follow up stroke his attacker did using the shaft of the weapon. In response Tal smashed his injured hand into the pit of his stomach. As he did it Tal twisted at the waist and put his entire body behind the blow. Even with that he was unsure which one of them regretted his actions the most, even when he lifted the man off his feet with the punch. Tal immediately followed up with another punch that shattered his attackers jaw. With the man down Tal looked around. It seemed to be all over now. All that was left was to bury the dead and care for the wounded. As he stood there he realized that this planet was similar in so many ways to his own home world. It went way beyond them both being desert planets. At the heart of it all was the reason he had chosen to join Starfleet. He realized that was his home now as he moved to assist the closest wounded survivor.
  13. ((Starfleet Academy, San Francisco California, Earth)) The seats in the auditorium style classroom filled slowly as the clock on his desk ticked the seconds away. He watched it, almost preoccupied with the forward movement of the hands as those seconds disappeared into the void of nothingness. The occasional student approached the desk and placed a padd there, stopping for some kind of acknowledgement. Ultimately, they continued on to a seat when they got none. Soon, the seats were nearly full, yet his eyes did not stray from the clock. An uneasy silence settled on the room, where his students anticipated the beginning of the lecture. Each one of them looked down towards the small platform near the front of the room at the somewhat eccentric professor whom none had met before. This was a class that was one that was shrouded in some secrecy; a condition he himself had placed on his very presence. And so, as the clock tick-tocked - a sound that soon filled the emptiness where noise and movement once existed - the professor finally looked up at the class. "Good morning class." A wave of seemingly obligatory 'good morning's' drifted down from all corners of the room. The entire mass seemed quite unsure of what was going to happen next. Undoubtedly, the rumors that often spread about the class had at least some of the students concerned as to what might be coming. That was when he smiled. "My name is Commander Stewart, and I am from the future." Having done this very speech many times before, he paused as the whispers moved through the room. When the wave of sound had dissipated, and the ticking of the clock returned, he continued. "I am also from the past." Another wave of whispers, albeit a much shorter run, moved through the room as he walked up to a chalkboard at the front of the class. It was an antiquated tool, but one that he had insisted on having for his lectures. Many of his colleagues whispered about how strange it was, but to his face no one ever questioned it. It was simply a part of his odd nature; at least that was what the rumors said. Picking up a piece of the quite antiquated and specially ordered chalk, the grey haired man with the slightly elongated face that made him look just alien enough to not be human wrote two words; 'Time is'. Beneath the words he drew a line. "What is time?" he said as he turned to face the class. The echoing ticking of the clock filled the silence that extended beyond his own words when not a single student stepped up to the answer. Smiling slightly, he walked a few steps towards the center of the platform before continuing. It appeared that this class would be one of the less interactive ones. "Come on," he said as he waved one hand towards himself as if to draw in a response. "Time is?" It took him pointing at one young female officer in the front row to get things started. He stared at her until she finally spoke, saying only one word. "Relative?" Nodding, the man smiled slightly as he spoke, "That's a good start. Time is relative. Time is also self-evident. We see it pass, we witness its effects on the body and the world around us, but what about the fundamental nature of time?" The question created a whole new realm of silence in the room. It was something he was used to, so he simply continued. "Time is two things; both finite and infinite," he said as he spoke with his voice, but also with his hands. "We have all the time in the world, but time is always running out. Have you ever witnessed the moment when time stood still? Perhaps you have, but if you have not, you surely have been involved in a moment when there simply wasn't enough time because it was too busy flying." He stopped pacing along the platform to look at the students, some of which seemed to be following along well enough, before moving on both in speech and in movement. "To you, right now, time may seem like an irreversible succession of events, but in reality it is a dimension of its own. To change the past means to change the future, yet the past has already been changed." Turning slightly, he pointed to the line on the board. "Is time a line?" He asked the question and gave it a moment before shaking his head and continuing, "No. Time exists and fills up every point in every area of space in every dimension." A few nods could be seen throughout the room, but he looked into the sea of students and was met with questioning eyes. While some instances of the class seemed to take quickly to the ideas of time, others, such as this one, took some real invocation of critical though. As such, he asked, "Can you change the past, the present, or the future?" Whirling around, he pointed at a young man in the front of the class who fumbled around with a stylus in his fingers for an extraordinarily long second before dropping it to the floor and staring blankly back at the professor. The clock on the desk tick-tocked. One might have assumed, in the silence in which it resonated, that more seconds were lost into the oblivion of transition where the present became the past, but no one was able to see its unmoving hands. A full minute of real time silence went by before the student finally came up with an answer. "No." At this, the professor smiled and looked at the clock on his way to the board to make his point. It was as if he could see the hands moving even though they were most definitely not. "Why?" The professor paused only a moment before jumping into a whole new speech, "Why is it that the past is not really something you can adjust or change or divert to a new direction? What is the one thing about time that makes it so impossible to change? It is not the forward marching of time, or the slow forward crawling of it when you are waiting for something exciting, is it? Can it be the visible slowdown of time as you approach faster than light speeds?" Silence once again settled on the room and the ticking clock echoed in the ears of all who were present. This time, however, it was different. This time, the ticking sounded as if the hands were caught between A and B; between one second and the next. But, as no one could see the clock other than the professor, not a single student questioned the progress of time. It took some descent into the silent nullity once again before anyone seemed to gather up enough nerve to speak up. Even when one of the older students did so, the answer came in the form of a question rather than a statement. "But it is possible to change." There was a short pause as the student collected the rest of her thoughts, "Hasn't it been done before by using the gravity of a star to speed up to where a ship could travel back through time?" A wry grin appeared on the face of the professor. Now, perhaps, they were getting somewhere. He pointed at the woman and shook his head before speaking. "That would assume that time falls in a line," he said as he walked back and forth on the platform ignoring the seemingly difficult struggle of the clock on his desk. "If it were a line, it would be easily traversed. However, is it not right to assume that everything that could happen, already has? In effect, does time itself not fill every inch of space in every dimension in existence allowing for infinite possibilities?" Time, he was trying to explain, was far from the line these students were used to seeing it as. There were so many people focused on maintaining and preserving the timeline. What these people didn't realize was that the choices had already been made for them in this timeline, or the next. One of the students picked up on that fact and spoke in an almost argumentative tone. "But that means we have no choices," she stated flatly. "It means what we might chose has already been chosen and we can only ride the flow of it all. I can't believe that." The professor with the elongated face raised his eyebrows. It wasn't often in his walks through the timelines that he invoked such a response. This one, a young Asian woman with long, raven hair, would one day lead; it was something he could feel resonate within his core. "Why not?" he asked simply without taking his eyes from hers. She wasted no time in speaking her response. "Because the universe does not control my destiny. We are shaped by the events of our lives, not by some predetermined ending." Silence once again fell around them as the professor held her gaze. There was a fire that burned in her eyes that he did not have the pleasure of seeing often. In other instances of the class, he'd found her decidedly less intense or even non-existent. But this timeline would gain quite the leader, it would seem. Yet none of this could be spoken. His job was to only to be the catalyst for critical thinking on a subject often muddled through and misunderstood. "You seem sure of your control. How can you know you're in control of anything?" he asked already knowing the answer yet seeking to prod the woman into a level of furious debate that he rarely got the chance to see. Once again, there was little hesitation in her response. "Because when I act, I face a definitive reaction." It was the first of many quick, yet educated responses. Over the course of the next hour, he sparred with the woman over time and destiny. She didn't believe in fate, yet he tried to point out the fact that all eventualities did, in fact, exist. The woman seemed intent on the idea that she could bend the rules that governed time, yet she did not walk outside of it like he did; a fact that no one would come to know except for the few that allowed him to teach. But her thought patterns and passion were a breath of fresh air, and by the time they had run the course of the class, he felt as if he had run a marathon. Leaving her with a final cryptic statement regarding the nature of time, the professor turned his attention to the clock on his desk. The hands were positioned in such a way that made him want to hurry despite not having moved at all. All the same, he knew that this timeline would soon be moving forward without him. "Time is evolution of the mind, the body, and the universe around us," he said matter-of-factly. "It is seen and felt, yet invisible and intangible. Paradox and simplified problem. Remember this always as you step out into the normal world." The final bit got the attention of a few, but nothing more was said as the students began reaching for their things and prepared to leave the class. The tick-tocking of the clock on his desk, which hands had not moved since his last check, got lost in the shuffle of people and bags and desks around the room. No one approached the desk this time, as they would not ever return to the room where the strange professor taught. This was a one shot deal for those who chose to take the class. Watching the students as they watched their own chronometers, biding their time until the moment came, the professor mentally dismissed this instance of these students. The moment came as he finished looking over them all and soon they filed out of the room. While a few looked back and bid him farewell, most were already caught up in the present without much thought for the past which had just occurred. To him, however, it was all the same; every class he taught reacted in nearly the same way. This time was different though. This time he had been able to invoke a response from one of the students. It was something that made him smile as he sat in the silence and began filing the report to the appropriate people regarding the students he had just seen. In the silence, the clock could be heard echoing slower and slower into the empty room. The professor pushed the send button just as the second hand got lost in between the moments and suddenly the clock simply stopped. It felt like he was holding his breath, caught between now and then, before and after, as the environment around him shifted ever so slightly. He was used to it by now, but the feeling of not being able to breathe always caught him slightly unaware. As things settled, and the ticking of the clock rang out once more into the slightly different empty room, he prepared himself to teach the class again. Different, yet it was the same; a grand experiment in portraying the same event in various locations in time. The same students, in different timelines, all reacting according to their own logical chain of events. So far, none of the students had broken the code, but there were still an infinite number of classes to go. Perhaps somewhere along the lines he would run into another fiery personality or overwhelming intelligence that the time-walker would find more than just intriguing. The seats in the auditorium style classroom filled slowly as the seemingly broken clock on his desk ticked the seconds away. He watched it, almost preoccupied with the forward movement of the hands as those seconds disappeared into the void of this timeline's nothingness. The occasional student approached the desk and placed a padd there, stopping for some kind of acknowledgement. Ultimately, they continued on to a seat when they got none. Soon, the seats were nearly full, yet his eyes did not stray from the clock. An uneasy silence settled on the room, with his students anticipating the beginning of the lecture. Each one of them looked down towards the small platform near the front of the room at the somewhat eccentric professor whom none had met before. This was a class that was one that was also shrouded in some secrecy; a condition he himself had placed on his very presence. And so, as the clock tick-tocked in a somewhat endless march - a sound that soon filled the emptiness where noise and movement once existed - the professor finally looked up at the class and began it all again. "Good morning class." -- Commander Kalianna Nicholotti Commanding Officer Starbase 118/USS Victory
  14. The rain poured down the outside of the small hut. The squad huddled in the tiny structure, trying to get some respite from the tempest lashing all around them. Lieutenant Weyland looked out of the cracked window. He knew his foes would not let some inclement weather dampen their bloodlust. The war was going badly, very badly. It had been several months now since the alien ‘Army of Execution’ had landed on Byzatium, and systematically marched across the planet, laying waste to everything and everyone they had come across. These giant, ruthless Pythron warriors – trained for war since birth – were the most formidable fighters in the sector. By contrast, Byzatium’s motley assortment of armed civilians, raw cadets, aged veterans and mercenaries were no real match for the blond war machine. Nevertheless, the Byzallians had no choice but to resist and fight to their last phaser charge. The storm slowly but steadily abated as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. A blood red glow began to form along with the growing shadows. There was a sound reminiscent of distant thunder, booming beyond the dark ruins that surrounded the small encampment. “Not long now” whispered Weyland to himself, looking at his grandfather’s pocket watch. Soon their last serviceable craft would ferry their people across the wide ocean to their last redoubt. They just needed to hold off the Pythron advance long enough to allow them to launch the ships from the hoverport, at 5.30am, local time! The young officer wiped the sweat from his forehead, and exited the ruined hut and went a few steps up the grassy bank next to the building. He scanned the horizon for any hint of enemy movement, but even with keen eyesight, he could see nothing. Not a thing was alive out there. Had their artillery been that accurate? Impossible! The enemy was hiding.... somewhere. Waiting to pounce. The weary crimson sun neared the hill tops, taking what little comforting warmth it gave with it - apparently deserting the ruins and battered forests to their fate. A cold wind rushed down the valley, howling around the bombed-out building where the small squad of soldiers were awaiting their orders. It had been nearly a week now since they had seen sent on their mission, and all were getting anxious. There had been minimal communications with their superiors. It was now just a matter of basic, animalistic survival for them. Weyland sighed, replaced his gun in his belt and scrambled back down the rubble-strewn slope to his patrol. He found them huddled around a small fire, trying to keep warm. Their ragged uniforms did little to help keep out the cold, and their hunger went beyond anything they had experienced before, their bellies almost stuck to their backbones. Weyland himself had only joined the partisans a few months ago, and he was already an officer – with ten men (or more accurately boys) under his command. At twenty, he was the oldest by three years - no match for the opposition they now had to face. “Get some sleep guys. Tomorrow, I feel, is going to be show time” he ordered. “Shall I take first watch?” asked Corporal Gryphon, eagerly. “No thank you corporal” replied Weyland, “I’ll do that, you get some rest.” As his patrol found what little space they could around the dying embers of the campfire, Weyland turned away to look once again at the dark hills. He knew it was going to be a long night… * * * At about 5am, Weyland sprang to his feet. The sleeping bodies of his troops still lay about him, but there was definitely something amiss. The lieutenant’s intuition sensed something in the air that foretold danger. He reached for his binoculars, and ran back up to the look-out on the old ruin building, desperate to check the horizons for the enemy and cursing his commanders for not keeping him informed of the latest developments. Standing tall, he strained his eyes through the lenses – searching for the slightest blip. The darkness meant that he needed the night vision function on the binoculars – but after weeks of being dragged through mud, they were malfunctioning. “How the hell can we stop ‘them’ if we haven’t got the tools to do it?” growled the young officer to himself in desperation. Indeed, ever since the day when ‘they’ had come, all meaningful Byzallian technology had become obsolete. To be honest, all civilisation was on the brink of collapse. Cities had crumbled, people destroyed in the most sickening ways imaginable. It was also on that Day that the life he had known died forever. “What’s the verdict sir?” came the voice of Sergeant Tyndall from half way up the slope. “Nothing so far, Sergeant.” replied the lieutenant. “Just the usual devastation and.....” He hesitated. “Darn it – they’re coming! Get the men up!” he barked to Tyndall. “Yes sir!” came the muffled reply, as the boy scampered back down the hill to the camp. “So this is it.” mused the lieutenant. “Time to meet the family…” He followed Tyndall back down the slope, charging his gun as he went. Upon reaching the camp, he quickly checked that everyone was ready. The gloom hid the anxious looks on their faces. This would be their last action. “Right lads. This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting for. We are going to stop those Pythron scum in their tracks. They’ve taken our homes, our families, our lands – but blast it – we’ll make them pay! You know the drill – good luck everyone!” bellowed Weyland, with as much firmness as his own shaky nerves would allow. The patrol scrambled to the cover of a low wall, with the remnants of a hedge on one side. Little vegetation grew on Byzatium. “Right lads. Hold your fire.” “I can see them now sir.” whispered Gryphon, his numbed finger pressing slightly on the trigger. “Hold your fire. They haven’t seen us yet. They are still reconnoitring.” replied the officer. BLAM! Corporal Gryphon’s rifle let off a string of phaser shots at the dark loping shapes in the distance. “Darn it corporal. I told you to wait.” shouted Weyland, but it was too late. The horde had been alerted – and the black mass began stalking towards their position. “Let ‘em have it!” barked Weyland, and his troops opened fire on the enemy. Rows of the black shapes fell, or appeared to fall, in the gloom. Were they simply being replaced by more and more? In what little light there was, the lieutenant could make out the hideous onslaught. Giants in gleaming armour, and motorised transports – relentless - lurching towards them, momentarily silhouetted against the moon light and phaser flashes. For about twenty minutes the gunfight continued. The Byzallian lads were starting to get low on charges – and still the dark foe continued towards them. Weyland scooted up and down the line, shouting encouragement – and letting off the occasional shot with his hand gun. Suddenly something whistled past his ear. Spinning round, the lieutenant saw a group of ironclad warriors approaching from cover of the buildings behind him. They were also firing what appeared to be poisoned darts – judging by the effect it had had on at least one of his patrol. “Quick men. Rear attack!” he called, but it was too late. Through stealth and superhuman abilities, the frontal attack had already reached the Byzallian’s position in only a fraction of the time expected. Cries of pain were briefly heard over the howl and cheers of the attackers. “Fall back!” shouted Lieutenant Weyland, but the situation had already become hopeless. In the gloom he could barely make out anything of what was happening, but he had already thought he’d counted more death cries than he had soldiers under his command. Just then, in a flash of gunfire, the Weyland saw Sergeant Tyndall wrestling with some Pythron behemoth with metal spiked gloves. The lieutenant began to run along the hedge, trying to reach Tyndall, but the muddy ground slowed him considerably. Wham! Wham! Splut! A hail of projectiles erupted around his feet as he continued running. He had almost reached his struggling second-in-command when a razor dart found its mark. Weyland fell to the ground, clutching his shoulder. Desperately, he tried to crawl along the ground – in a defiant yet pointless effort to reach what was left of his patrol. Blood was trickling down his arm, staining his khaki and grey uniform. Weyland’s head spun as the toxin took effect, while the Pythrons surrounded his prone form, talking to each other in a harsh guttural language, their weapons all aimed at his head. “What you waiting for? You got what you wanted? Our planet stained with our blood?” he shouted. A rifle butt to the head silenced any more protest. Spotting a shining piece of metal poking out of Weyland’s jacket pocket, one of the Pythron’s knelt down, and picked up the young man’s pocket watch. The glass front was smashed and the half the internal workings were hanging out the back, the time forever stuck 5.32am. In the distance, there was another roar. This time of hover engines. Looking up, the Pythron warrior scowled as several large Byzallian craft hovered on the horizon and then disappeared into the haze to safety.
  15. Flames churned along the deck of the shuttlecraft, sparks leaping from the consoles only to help feed the inferno, as if hell itself was reaching a hand through the deck-plates to snatch at the frail and scorched form trying desperately to bring the engines back online. The interior of the shuttlecraft appeared to be fairly standard, except for a few minor... oddities. The transporter padd that would normally be in the middle of the craft and lead back to the rear compartment was missing - instead, the entirety of the deck plating was littered with tiny circles, though they were only able to be seen because the fire had melted some of the carpeting. And the interior was perhaps a bit longer, and thinner, than most variations of Starfleet shuttlecraft. What would have been considered off-putting to any Starfleet officer at the time, however, would have been the modified script and design of the modular consoles - they were the oddly oxidized color of Klingon hull-metal, and the language was mostly Klingon, but there were Federation Standard subscripts as well. It was most certainly a Starfleet shuttlecraft, though, because the familiar Delta symbol was plastered over every console... though slightly modified to include the Klingon trident behind it. A matching combadge was pinned to chest of the slightly barbequed officer sitting at the helm. The pips on his collar bore the rank of Captain, the uniform itself a heavily modified version of the standard wear from the 2380s: gray padding at the shoulders of the jacket, the crimson of command as the duty shirt underneath. The jacket hung open loosely, partly in fact because the clasp broke, and partly in fact because the wearer was burning up. The computer chimed several times, but the Captain could not hear the report because the flames were too close. Growling, he pushed himself up from the chair, knocking it over and stalking back towards the rear of the shuttle. A sleeve was pressed against his mouth, trying to block out the smoke, but he still began to cough and his eyes were watering. Luckily, the fire had not spread to the rear compartment so he was now able to hear the computer’s report. “Warning. Warp engines overloading. Explosion imminent. Recommend emergency evacuation. Warning. Warp engines overloading. Explos--” Grunting, the Captain slammed the heel of his palm against the console and silenced the computer. He grimaced and shot a look through the doorway back at the inferno he’d left behind... there was no reason to stay, and there was much that needed to be done. Crouching down, he tugged at the panel beneath his feet to reveal the standard emergency equipment. He grabbed as much as he could hold, slapping a phaser and tricorder against his hip before standing up again. His voice was hoarse as he spoke. “Computer, scan the surface below us and look for an area with little to no traffic. Initiate emergency transport to that area as soon as you find it.” “Working.” Although it probably only took around ten seconds for the computer to find a location and begin the transport, to the Captain it felt like an eternity - and the flames had begun to follow him from the front of the shuttle. He could hear the warp engine buried in the body of the ship as it began to overload - the normal pulsing suddenly an intense screaming noise that doubled him over... And only a moment later he found himself in a dirty back alley, hidden from view of the inhabitants in the street. Wincing and turning his head to look upward, he could almost swear he saw the tiny explosion in the night sky... though considering the distance his shuttle had been from the planet, that was certainly impossible. His gaze shifted from the sky to the enormous clocktower in the middle of the square, just across from where he had beamed in. 21:34 local time on stardate 238806.21. How could that possibly be right? Frowning and shaking his head, the Captain began setting down the emergency equipment behind a trash bin, trying to keep himself hidden as he began stripping off his uniform. Considering his situation, it wouldn’t do him any good to be spotted by another Starfleet officer... at least, not until he would be able to blend in better. Two and a half decades... that certainly explained the flash of light that had seemed to envelop his shuttle. His eyebrows rose as realization struck him. The past 25 years.... or, in this case, the future 25 years... that would be plenty of time to prevent the Galactic War. And how fortunate for him he had arrived at the capital city of Kilratha on the Caitian homeworld... ***** Time: Stardate 238905.29 Location: Governor S’Emral Aveunalliv’s Office, Kilratha, Cait “Governor... you know how important this is. We’ve been talking about this for months now, and I need you to make a decision.” The elder Caitian let out a sigh as he leaned back in his chair, running a paw through the fur at his chin. “R’Varr... you’re right, we have been talking about this for months, but as I already told you, I cannot be rushed into this. I have my family to think about.” R’Varr’s paw slammed down against the front edge of S’Emral’s desk, the ruddy red and black of his fur clashing with the purple robe he wore. “Dammit, S’Emral, we have no time to waste. We must begin this movement before it is too late.” He clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, green eye flashing with danger, a patch covering the other. “And you know this is bigger than your family.” S’Emral’s fangs stuck out for a moment as his frown flattened. He turned in his chair to gaze out the window, his view overlooking the main square of the city, the clocktower the most prominent building to be seen. Paws folding together before him, he let out another sigh, this one of resignation. “. . . very well. You know what to do.” R’Varr stood in silence for a moment before nodding and turning on his heel, striding out of the Governor’s office. He couldn’t help but be relieved - he had spent nearly a year building up this false identity, and it was finally beginning to pay off. A paw slid into his pocket and his ear flicked as he pulled the tricorder free. He paused about halfway down the hall before taking one of the side passages and ducking into one of the storage closets, making sure no one was following. Opening the tricorder, a single claw began ticking down against the buttons until he found the proper command. Tongue running over his maw, he said a small prayer to the Great Bird before initiating the timer. Back in S’Emral’s office, the Governor had moved away from his desk and crossed to the hidden liquor cabinet beneath the mantle and behind the fireplace. As he poured an amber liquid over ice, the first of the explosions could be heard... just barely. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the base of the clocktower explode outward. Quite calmly, he turned and walked towards the window as the explosions continued, each level of the tower exploding outward before gravity began to take its course. The final explosion came just as the face of the clock struck the street below. The timing had been chosen very carefully - for the most part the square had been empty, with everyone at work or tucked in at home. There were still some of the city’s inhabitants strolling underneath the tower before the explosion, but they had had time to scatter once the underground explosives had occurred. It was at that moment, as the comm unit in his desk began to chime over and over again, that he realized just what he had agreed to... and he hoped to heaven it had been the right decision. The Caitian Republic had been born, a revolution inspired by a group of Caitians who were taking exception to the original Vulcan annexation of Caitian space in 2154. It was their belief that Cait had the right to be an absolutely independent world - from the Federation, as much as anything. S’Emral had reluctantly agreed. He personally didn’t believe that Cait needed to secede from the Federation, however he had been swayed by the argument that the Vulcans owed some kind of restitution for what had been done so many years ago. It had been R’Varr that had begun the movement, and had fully convinced S’Emral to become the figurehead. R’Varr would, of course, be serving as an advisor, but S’Emral was already a respected politician. It made sense. R’Varr had seemed familiar somehow to S’Emral... he couldn’t ever quite put his claw on it, though. That had become much less important once R’Varr had promised him the Ambassadorship for the Caitian Republic. To be able to represent his people in such a way... it had been a personal dream for some time. After finishing his drink, wincing at the warm burn against the back of his throat, he moved to his desk and began taking calls. Soon enough, he would be forced to step forward as the supposed leader of this new movement... until then, it was time for damage control. ***** Lt (jg) S'Acul Aveunalliv HCO USS Avandar
  16. Greetings, folks! As you may know, with the retirement of Captain Tallis, I've taken over as facilitator for the Writing Challenges, and I'm pleased to say that I was extremely pleased by the turnout for the March & April round! Please also remember to give your thanks to our fantastic panel of judges -- Karynn Ehlanii Brice, Toni Turner, Eden Redstone, Arden Cain, and last round's winner Velana -- who read and ran every entry and provide the feedback you'll see here shortly. Without further ado, the winner of the March & April challenge, with his story "The Tempest," is Alleran Tan! Please also congratulate this round's runner-up, Kalianna Nicholotti, with her story, "In the Shadow of a New Alliance." Alleran, I'll be sending you a message shortly to set up the subject of the next challenge, for May and June, which should begin in the next couple of days!
  17. The air always carried the same familiar smell in the moments just following a thunder storm. It was a sweet, comforting aroma that lingered in the nose even here on the beach, where coastal winds were quick to saturate the area with the equally familiar smell of the sea. Afternoon storms were common in the warm, summer months on Florida’s gulf coast, and over the years, barefoot walks on the beach had become somewhat of a routine for Jade Valyn. She often excused her walks by saying they were just trips to survey the beach for pieces of sea glass churned up by the storm, but in reality they were much more to her. They provided her a time for quiet reflection, a time for her to take advantage of the brief moment of privacy to be alone with her thoughts. Occasionally, she would walk the beach with a friend, or her daughter, but more often than not, she preferred to spend the time alone. Today would be a little different. This day, she walked the beach beside William Reed, a man whom she considered as her soul mate, and father of her only child. It was a shame, perhaps even a little tragic, that the two had never been able to find a way to spend their lives together. It was as much her fault as it was his, and she often tormented herself for never being able to find the courage to accept any of William’s proposals of marriage. Today, though, wasn’t just going to be about the two of them. Today, she was about to lose her little girl. This loss was inevitable, and deep down, Jade knew there was nothing she could do to avoid it. Danica was eighteen after all, and in reality, only “little” in a symbolic sense. She was forced to realize that her daughter had come to a point in her life where she had chosen her own path to follow, and while Jade may not have agreed with it, there was little she could do to influence Danica into a different direction. It might have been a little inappropriate, but as the two walked the beach, Jade held tightly onto William’s right arm, resting her head on his shoulder. But if her display affection made him at all uncomfortable, his reaction to her touch didn’t show it. They had spent so much of their lives apart that it was easy for her to forget just how relaxed he made her feel when they were together. It was a feeling that she felt all too infrequently, and one that had become especially rare within the last ten years. A scarcity of feeling that made this slow walk on the beach all the more precious to her. Jade scanned the dark sand beneath their feet with her eyes, and spoke to William, without looking directly at him, “So, have you heard your daughter wants to join Starfleet?” William knew this was more of a statement than a question, and attempted to ignore her accusatory tone. Jade had always blamed him for Danica’s infatuation with leaving Earth, and this was just her subtle way of bringing up the subject once again. Tilting his head, he pressed his cheek against her straight, black hair. He knew that accepting the prospect of her daughter choosing a life that would, most likely, lead her away from Earth had to be difficult for her. A life on a starship verses one on Earth had always been one of the biggest stumbling blocks between the two of them. “So, today she’s my daughter?” He said as a faint echo of thunder rumbled in the distance. Lifting her head, she looked up at him as the breeze whipped gently through his sandy blonde hair, “Today? You know as well as I do that she’s always been Daddy’s little girl. Ever since she first saw that bucket of yours, she couldn’t wait to get away from me.” William paused their walk, breaking from her embrace. Moving around in front of her, he placed his index finger under her chin, tilting her gaze up towards him, and then firmly grasped her by both of her arms. “Babe, it’s got nothing to do with you. You know that. It’s got nothing to do with me either. It’s . . . it’s just what she wants. She’s talked about Starfleet for years now. I know I didn’t put that idea into her head, and I’m sure you didn’t either. It was her choice.” “It’s that easy then?” She asked, staring into his blue eyes. “Our little girl’s all grown up.” He paused his thought for a moment, using the break to fully take in the silky beauty of Jade’s dark skin. “She’s going to make her own decisions and live her own life. We can’t force her into something that she doesn’t want.” “I’ll never understand how it’s so easy for you,” Jade said, redirecting her gaze out towards the western horizon. “How what’s so easy?” He questioned, never taking his eyes off of the contours of her face. Her chin quivered slightly as she replied, “Saying goodbye.” He let go of her arms and turned around. Taking a few steps away from her, he ran both of his hands through his hair, locking his fingers across the back of his head. “That’s not fair, Jade.” She sighed deeply and closed her eyes, forcing a couple tears to roll down her cheeks. Wiping them away with the fingers of her right hand, she walked towards him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head against his back. “I know,” she said softly, “I’m sorry. I just wish the Academy wasn’t her first step. I always wanted her to go to college, to have the chance to live just a little bit, before making this kind of commitment.” William placed his hands over hers, “She’ll still go to school. I’m sure you have to have some kind of a degree to be a headshrinker, after all.” Letting go of him, she pushed him away laughing, “You be nice.” “What? It’s true,” he said, grabbing hold of her hands. She looked up, into his eyes, caressing his palms with her thumbs, “That’s not what I meant, though. I wanted her to go to school first, and then, if she still found civilian life so intolerable . . . then the Academy.” Turning away, William continued their walk, holding onto her right hand, “She’s come up with her own plan, and you know as well as I do that she’s not going to change her mind. That stubbornness of hers is what you get for raising a teenager.” As the couple continued to walk the beach, Jade went back to surveying the ground. As they reached the jetty, she turned them around and headed back towards the condo. She purposely slowed her pace in order to milk as much time as she could with William. The subtle scent of rain in the air had all but gone, and other than the occasional call of a gull, it was remarkably quite on this small section of the beach. It was almost as if this half kilometer stretch of sand between the jetty and the docks were reserved for their own personal use. A small slice of heaven, set aside just for them. As they reached the sea wall beneath Jade’s condominium, William stopped for a moment and sat down in the still damp sand. Sitting down next to him, Jade once again rested her head on his shoulder. They looked out over Gulf of Mexico as the afternoon sun approached the horizon. The sun, itself, was a deep orange, and it painted the sky in various shades ranging from yellow to pink. The water, still a little choppy from the rain, beat gently against the sandy coast, in a soothing rhythm that could easily lull one to sleep. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Jade asked as she wrapped her arms around William’s. He looked away from the horizon, down to her, and sat silently until she looked up towards him. Briefly forgetting himself, and lost in her eyes, he whispered softly, “Yes it is,” and gently kissed her lips. The first kiss was short and sweet, but was quickly followed by a longer, more passionate embrace. For a few seconds, the two were overwhelmed by feelings of their youth, transporting them to a time before all the fighting and complications had gotten in the way. It was a time and place in their lives where nothing mattered but each other, and where the hopes and dreams of their hearts remained to this day. It was a time long ago, though, and as William remembered the wife and daughter waiting for him at home, his heart sunk in his chest, and he pulled away from Jade slowly. Resting his forehead against hers, he closed his eyes and apologized. “I’m sorry.” Closing her eyes as well, Jade fought the urge to kiss him again and responded simply with, “Me too.” The two sat there for a moment, quietly enjoying the other’s touch. They had made a lot of mistakes throughout the years, and for William, this was just another to add to the list. As he leaned away from Jade, he stood up, brushing the cool sand from the seat of his pants. Looking out towards the Gulf, he watched as the sun touched the edge of the horizon. Looking down at Jade, he smiled, “I guess we didn’t find any glass.” “They’ll be other storms,” she said, “We’ll just have to try again some other time.” He helped her to her feet, and waited next to her as she cleaned her own thin film of sand from her pant legs. Turning away from the gulf, they walked up the steps of the sea wall to the patio above them. No longer holding hands, they approached the entrance to Jade’s condominium, stopping just outside the doors. Standing opposite of her, William purposefully left plenty of space between them. He stared at the ground, still feeling a little awkward about the moment that had just passed. “So . . . umm, I guess I should go up and say goodbye to Dani.” “Did you want to stay for dinner?” Jade asked him, certain he would decline. “I can’t. Jennifer’s going to be expecting me.” Lifting his head, he looked at Jade so that he could see just how she was feeling. Reaching his hand to her face, he swept away a few misplaced strands of her hair so that he had an unobstructed view of her eyes. “You’re gonna to be okay.” “I know,” she said blushing slightly, “I’m just not ready to let her go.” He reached out and hugged her, breathing heavily as she buried her face against his chest. They stood in the doorway of the condominium, each content to hold the other, and never move from this moment in time. It was fleeting, though, and Jade finally found the strength to pull away from him. Taking a second to compose herself, she looked up at him, “You better come up and say goodnight to your daughter.” “I suppose you’re right,” he said, and followed her upstairs. In the sky above them, the afternoon storm clouds had mostly cleared, as they moved further inland. One or two could still be seen, each speckled with random flashes of lightning, producing the occasional, slow clap of thunder. As the sun continued its journey below the gulf’s horizon, the color pallet it produced on the evening sky deepened. The bold colors became more striking, and the illuminated sky seemed to blanket the whole area in a warm and cozy glow. Just for a moment, the failing rays of the sun gleamed off of a frosty, smooth object in the sand near the surf. The small piece of brown, weathered glass, peeked up, but blended into the sand and rocks around it. For a few seconds, it looked up at the painted sky in reverence, before being quickly lost beneath the surface of a crashing wave. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Ensign Danica Valyn Counselor Starbase 118
  18. “I love you.” “I love you too, honey.” Lt. Tom Skuller smiled at his wife, who was pregnant. She had been carrying that soon to be chubby blob of cuteness for eight months and would soon be letting it finally breath air. Cindy Skuller was holding her stomach and smiling lightly. Giving birth was an excruciating task, and this would be her first time. She was nervous, but that's why she held Tom's hand, for comfort. =/\= Captain Smasher to Lt. Skuller, please report to the bridge. =/\= “Wait...you're leaving?” Cindy asked. Tom looked at her with sorrow. “Sorry hon, duty calls,” he said to her. “I really wish I could stay to see our little boy—or girl being born, but...I have to go.” Cindy nodded. She wasn't a Starfleet officer, but she understood military regulations. “Don't worry,” said a woman in a blue medical uniform. “I'll take good care of you. Get her to a biobed.” Two nurses did as they were told by the chief medical officer and the anti-grav lift carried her into sickbay. Tom watched as his wife was being situated. He cut his eyes and walked down the corridor. Taking the turbolift, he was soon on the bridge and Captain Smasher did not look please. “Glad you could join us Lt.,” Smasher stated. His fully square sculpted jaw was perfectly proportional to his personality: tough. “We seem to have run across something....unusual.” Tom looked uncertain. “Like?” Ensign Kurt, the science officer of the USS Ares, stood from her station. “Sir, sensors reading temperature rising from the exterior of the ship.” Smasher sat in the command chair quickly. “Source, ensign?” Kurt looked at her station and back at the Captain with uncertainty. She grimaced to herself and looked up. “Unknown....but if the temperature does increase it could be dangerous, sir.” “Interesting...,” Smasher mumbled. “Reroute our course to a safer distance from this 'dangerous temperature', helm.” “Aye sir.” Smasher looked at Lt. Skuller happily this time. “Cindy delivered yet?” “No sir...I was called to duty right at the moment before she was going to give birth.” Tom focused on his console. There was no doubt he was upset about being called on duty right on his first kid's birth. Although there were other tactical officers, Tom was the very best. “But duty calls.” “[...] right it does,” Captain Smasher replied. “Captain,” Kurt said, “the temperature is still rising significantly.” Smasher stood from his chair. “I thought I told helm to steer us away from it.” The helmsman was a bit fidgety and didn't like being yelled at so he didn't honestly like the Captain because of the yelling. The helmsman was of course no other than Bruce Wallace, and a clumsy one at it as well. “Sir...every time I calculate a different course the temperature continues to rise...is it getting hot in here or is it just me?” “It's just you ensign.” “Actually,” Tom interrupted, “I do think it's getting hot in--” The klaxons blasted and everyone took their stations with concentrated faces. Captain Smasher looked angry because his crew couldn't follow simple directions. “Report!” “Shields at eighty percent, sir,” Tom said, “and dropping.” “Dropping?” Tom looked at Kurt. “Why is it dropping?” “The high temperature is damaging the shields and will soon damage the hull. Scanners identifying it as a storm but the type is unknown...not registered in our databanks,” Kurt shouted. There was disruption that shook the bridge violently. Ensign Kurt held onto her station. “Perhaps a new type of storm Starfleet hasn't encountered before, sir.” Outside, the region of space in which the Ares was surrounded by was a green light with purple energy floating adrift. There was a white misty like energy emerging from the eye of the storm and was in the shape of a tentacle. It stretched from the eye to grasp the Ares and pull it into the eye of the storm. The bridge continuously shook. “Captain I'm not getting any information on this storm!” “Shields at forty percent and dropping rapidly!” “Life support failing on decks seven through fifteen! We have confirmed casualties sir!” “Shields at ten percent and dropping! Nine percent—eight—seven! Shields nearly out sir!” =/\= Lt. Cmdr. Reynolds to bridge! I have a confirmed coolant leak! Whatever this thing is it's causing massive damage to the Ares! We're not going to make it out of this alive! =/\= The USS Ares was fully enclosed in the white misty tentacle and purple lightning crackled through space. Hull breaches were made and several officers and crewman and civilians flew out into space where they lost air, their lungs exploded, and they died. The ceiling fell from the roof of the bridge and landed on the first officer. Main Engineering was engulfed with flames and soon Lt. Cmdr. Reynolds, the chief engineer, burned to a crisp ash and was no more. Several engineers suffered from radiation as their bodies contained huge blisters and burns. Sickbay wasn't heavily damaged but had minor damage and with most of the medics dead from being crushed by rubble or sucked into space, the crew was short. “Okay we have to deliver this baby!” Dr. Conner shouted. She flew her fingers through her hair. =/\= This is Captain Philip Smasher to all personnel! All hands abandon ship! I repeat all hands abandon ship! Now! =/\= “Sir, a word!” Kurt shouted. “What if this storm was artificially generated! What if this is a way to gain Starfleet vessels from enemies! The possibilities are endless sir! We can't surrender the ship like this!” “She's right!” Tom spoke up. He looked at the several dead officers, including the quiet helmsman, the alien ops officer, and the beautiful first officer. All were dead except him, Kurt, and Captain Smasher. “We can't just give her away!” “Fine! You're right!” Smasher was thrown into the burning helm by the turbulence and set to flames, and he burned to a crisp. “Oh gosh!” Kurt screamed. “We have to get out of here!” She gripped the station tightly hoping the disruption wouldn't toss her into a burning station. “But what about the ship!” Tom protested. “What about the ship! What about us! We'll never survive this if we don't get a move on!” “I can't just leave it here! You go on, I'm setting it to self-destruct!” “You won't make it out in time!” “Then I'll die with it and a good man from keeping anyone from stealing our intelligence and technology!” “No...” “I outrank you ensign, I order you to report to lifepods this instant!” Ensign Kurt looked at him angrily. Rank was something that always held her back, and she was sure she wouldn't be getting that promotion for disobeying a direct order from a ranking officer. She nodded silently and headed out of the bridge carefully making sure she stopped and gripped something every time there was the violent shaking that could send her to her burning death. Cindy was in a medical shuttlecraft and breathing heavily. Her baby was due. “Okay! We're kind of behind schedule, but I think the baby will be okay.” The doctor began operating. The pilot of the shuttle started it up and exited the ship along with the other shuttles and lifepods. All could see the white tentacle crushing the Ares in its tight grip, and then they could see several more tentacles emerging from the eye of the storm working it's way to pull in the ship. The shuttles and lifepods were out of harm's way, but Lt. Skuller was far from it. “Let's see if I can destroy this thing before it reaches the eye of the storm,” Tom said to himself. He punched a few buttons and within time, the ship had exploded. The tentacles were not damaged however. They were perfectly fine, but they didn't reach out to grab the shuttles and lifepods. If it weren't for Ensign Kurt's desire to not be burned she would have made it to the shuttlebay in time to live, but she didn't, and she died. The baby had been successfully delivered, but died instantly from radiation poison. Starfleet then recorded this to be to most dangerous storm known to man, with an obvious name: The Tentacle Storm. No one has ever known where it leads and how the tentacles are created, operated, or anything by that matter, but what is known...no one can survive it. -END- Lt. JG Zinna Chief Counselor USS Tiger-A
  19. THE GATHERING STORM ((A Lonely Clifftop; the Shores of Venoba)) ::Lightning illuminated the lonely scene as the wind tore at his hair and the thunder boomed all around – deafening and continuous. However, Graven barely moved, just watching the waves rolling over the rocky foreshore, all the while holding his limp bundle tightly in his arms. Nothing could stir him from his current focus. The storm lashed the cliffs and blew cold spray into his face. Still he remained fixed and immobile – like a monolith against the tempest.:: Graven: Tick, tock, tick, tock. ((Flashback – three days previous - Control Deck: Transporter Lincoln)) ::Graven sat at the controls of the Lincoln. He gazed out of the screen, watching the stars flash past. It had been a year since he’d fled his home to get away from his Father’s wrath. Wannabe tyrants did not take kindly to having their coup de’tait plans betrayed to the authorities, especially by their own flesh and blood. A life amongst the stars, plying the trade routes between the farther reaches of the quadrant was therefore preferable for the teenager than staying back on Byzatium.:: Sala: How’s it going?” ::The slim young woman spoke softly as she entered the pilot’s booth.:: Graven: Same as ever, unremarkable. ::He looked up over his shoulder, and smiled as Sala leaned over the back of the chair, draping her arms around his shoulders. This dark corner of the galaxy would make a great hide-away for them to get some time alone together. Alone with nothing but the shadows. Away from the chasing nemesis at their heels:: ((Present day – Shores of Venoba)) ::The dull thudding of the mighty sea slamming into the base of the cliffs brought Graven’s mind back to the present. It added a rhythmic background bass to the thoughts swirling though the young man’s mind.:: Graven: Nearly time, nearly there my dear. ::The melancholy grey sky appeared almost to be pressing down on the land, smothering it in a malignant gloom.:: Graven: Four, three, two, one... ((Flashback –Transporter Lincoln)) Sala: I can’t wait until we have delivered our cargo, then we are alone tomorrow. Graven: ::still hugging Sala’s arm tightly and smiling:: I've missed you. Why do we have to wait until tomorrow? Sala: Aww, me too. You wander through my mind every minute of every day. ::She kissed the back of his head. It sent a wonderful shiver through Graven’s body.:: Graven:: oO I’m a good boy and I’m ok. I’m a good boy and I won’t stray. I’m a good boy and let me go down in the mud, where the river’s all run dry...Oo ::There was a momentary pause.:: Sala: I love yo…. ::She cut off mid-word, as a blue haze developed on the screen. Graven’s head snapped forward as he peered into the darkness outside the ship.:: Graven: Sorry, duty calls. Sala: What’s that? Graven: I don’t know, but it doesn’t look like a natural spatial storm. It looks… artificial. It’s approaching us rapidly from the starboard side. Sala: Quick, let’s turn away. We don’t need any trouble. Graven: And pass up this opportunity for adventure? Sala: I’ve had quite enough adventure already Mister. ::she growled playfully.:: Graven: Too late. ::Graven steered the small ship on an intercept course towards the anomaly. However, the closer they got, the more Graven’s concerns began to overtake his curiousity. Inside the storm could be seen the outline of a craft.:: Graven: I know that craft… ::Almost immediately, the controls of the Lincoln began to shake in Graven’s hands, and the whole craft was buffeted and rocked by the enveloping maelstrom. He tried to reverse course.:: Graven: Hold on! ::Clunk!:: Sala: That wasn’t a normal sound… Graven: BOARDED! Look. ::The young man waved at the console. It was true! They had been caught!:: Sala: By who? By what? Graven: ::whispering:: Oh no… Sala: Is it bad? ::Graven pointed to the display, the marking on the ship within the anomaly were unmistakeable. The Crest of the Solar Gorgon – his Father’s ship.:: Graven: What have I done? ((Several hours later - Solar Gorgon Prison Cell)) ::Graven awoke groggily and peered through a window in his cell door where he could see Sala tied to chair, being interrogated by a giant man in black armour. Graven knew who it was, his father’s closest lieutenant – a renegade Pythron called LeNoir. The only other things in the room were a workbench and a brazier.:: Graven: LET HER GO! ::His words echoed within the tiny cell, but not beyond. Nevertheless, Sala looked up through her blood-soaked hair partially covering her face. Sala: Get away from me! PLEASE, don’t hurt me! I don’t know anything! ::The giant jailer picked up a power drill from the bench, activated it and approached Sala – plunging it into her shoulder..:: Graven: NO! Sala: ::Cough:: T...there's n-nothing... I can ::cough:: t...tell y-you. LeNoir: Shame! I need your pretty little mouth to sing for me. ::LeNoir lunged forward and grabbed the struggling woman by the throat, and lifted her bodily out of the chair and snapping the restraints as he went. Using only one arm, he slammed her against the wall. Graven kicked and barged against the cell door, but it was solid iron and didn’t even flex.:: Sala: Argh! ::choke:: LeNoir: I’m sorry dear, but I must have my answers! ::The woman trembled and whimpered, tears running down her face.:: Sala: ...... what?........ ::Whilst still holding her aloft, LeNoir crawled his hand up her throat and under her jaw. He raised his index finger over her lips, then pushed it between her lips, parting her chattering teeth. He curled it over her bottom set of teeth, and slowly, painfully pulled her mouth to open wider.:: LeNoir: That’s better, nice and wide for me. Let me hear you SING! ::Keeping Sala pressed against the wall, LeNoir stooped down to one side and with his armoured glove picked up a glowing coal from pile in the brazier. He then brought it closer and closer to Sala’s open mouth.:: LeNoir: Last chance… Sala: Nnnn!!! Graven: oO.... no please....Oo ::She kicked and struggled desperately, but she was dwarfed and completely overpowered by this seven foot demon. Her feet made no impact when kicking his body armour, nor did her flailing arms make him loosen his grip as they scrabbled on his leather cloak. LeNoir just grinned at her. He brought the glowing rock to within inches of her face, then paused. He turned back and looked at the fireplace. Sala’s terrified eyes looked down too. LeNoir then glared back at her, his maniacal expression illuminated by the flickering light, and then he licked his lips.:: LeNoir: Plenty more there, I hope you’re hungry...... ((Present day – Shores of Venoba)) ::Graven counted the seconds from the next lightning flash, then slowly he moved forward towards the edge, never once looking down at the ground or what he carried. He thought back to the time serving under his Father. The age of Terror. The Circus of death. The final punishment was being allowed to live. Allowed to survive when Sala had not. He could still hear the laughter of his Father and his henchman ringing in his ears, louder even than the thunder..:: Graven ::whispering:: Adieu ma Cherie. ::Towards the precipice now, the storm and the sea beckoning him and his cold passenger into their embrace.:: Graven: Tirez les rideau.. ::Over the edge they plunged, tumbling towards the cold dark release. The words of his mentor ringing in his ears as the end approached.:: The circus tent empty, mournful, abandoned. The trumpets dead and silent. The vacant audience seats. The laughter recedes into darkness. No more applause. But still the clown grins after the curtain falls. He doesn’t mind the passing of the life, For he lives for the circus of death! ::Graven held the lifeless remains close to him, as the abyss took them. His Father, vengeful and cruel, would not be able to deny them this last dance together. Together, in deathly embrace they spun. But it was fleeting, torn apart again. Today it seemed was not a good day to die. Washed ashore, near death – Graven’s fight would continue – to be guided by vengeance and by the destiny of others.:: _____________________________________________________ Lieutenant Eyas Wulfantine Chief Tactical Officer: USS Mercury
  20. “The Tempest” "Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live." - Henry Van [...] She woke to the crying of Klingon seabirds. Ensign Vaala, a counsellor in Starfleet and an entirely un-Klingonish Klingon, didn't remember how she got here. She sat bolt upright with an entirely unbecoming shriek... only to discover she had been laying on the wooden deck of a ship, which continued to rock back and forth as it traversed the dark red ocean. She clumsily stood, slowly and dizzily climbing up to her feet. Holding onto the railing to keep her balance, she shook her head to clear out the stars. The boat rocked and heaved, and it was with a chilling, dark realization that she knew where this boat was taking her. It was the Barge of the Dead, taking her to Grethor... the afterlife for dishonoured Klingons. The worst of punishments... for cowards, for traitors, for warriors without honour... where the poor victims would relieve their most cowardly moments, their terrible defeats, their failures and their misfortunes. Where they would suffer eternally... where they would reap what they had sown forevermore, [...]ed to the Klingon Hell. She knew this, and watched as the great isle of despair loomed up before her, as though slowly rising from the very depths of the foul, evil sea. "Ooooh... fiddlesticks." Vaala was, in all likelihood, the universe's worst Klingon. She couldn’t fight worth a [...], cried easily, barely even knew any curse words let alone use them... she was allergic to a list of substances as long as her arm, she had joined Starfleet instead of the Imperial Navy, and she had been once defeated in honourable combat by a tribble. She was allergic to them, so even contact with a place they had been was enough to close her throat and send her into a wheezing, gasping fit. Beaten by a tribble that wasn’t present at the battle. She wasn’t sure a greater dishonour even existed. Somehow, she'd always known that she'd end up here, but she had hoped -- perhaps naively -- that she might be able to avoid this fate by joining Starfleet. By proving that she could be... not necessarily a warrior, but part of a team of warriors. She was obviously so inept at fighting that, perhaps, she could leech some of the glory by osmosis. She could help keep her crew mentally fit and healthy, and in exchange this service would allow her to avoid Grethor. Well... so much for that theory. Casting her eyes to the sky, she saw the dark, bruised flesh of thunderclouds rolling in from the horizon, illuminated by the occasional flash of lightning. Vaala hated storms. Her gaze fell upon the great Captain of the barge, an impossibly tall Klingon who had a full inch on her long and lanky frame. Unlike her, however, this man was pure muscle; he looked like a competitor in the Federation weightlifting championship... no, scratch that, he looked like the winner. Or that he’d killed and eaten the winner. In one bite. The wind picked up, the barge’s sails billowing as the storm fed the ship, rocketing her and the other dishonoured dead towards their horrid fate. Stumbling, Vaala made her way over to the Captain, raising her voice slightly so she could be heard over the growing whine of the wind. “H-Hey! Mister Captain...!” The colossal man turned his gaze to her, regarding the Klingon woman with a withering stare that could strip the paint from the hull of a Prometheus class cruiser. Vaala instinctively felt herself shrink back in the face of his intense, searing gaze. “You are Vaala, are you not?” he intoned, his voice booming at an unnatural volume as the Captain regarded her, the sound seeming to echo despite the vast open sea the ship was a tiny speck upon. “Y-Yes... that’s me. Vaala of Khitomer, uhh... yes.” The sails above her groaned as the storm intensified, a thin fork of lightning briefly bathing the scene in pure white light as it leaped into the ocean, the roiling clouds bearing down on the ship like a great beast. Vaala could see the great sheet of rain as they moved towards the ship like a stone wall, growing in height as they began to loom over the ship. The Captain’s unyielding stare remained fixed on her, unnerving her greatly. His eyes were unblinking, unmoving, and Vaala found she could not match their intensity. She looked away, to the seas which were dark red and churning. “Tell me then, Vaala of Khitomer... are you here to bargain with me, or threaten me... or do you believe begging like a filthy targ to be your best chance of escaping your fate?” Vaala felt a shudder dance up and down both her spine. The Captain’s voice was as deep as the thunder that followed the flashes of lightning that cracked and boomed all around them. “I... I don’t know...! All I know is that I don’t deserve to be here -- this isn’t... this isn’t my time! I’m not supposed to be d-dead!” She whined, her voice becoming pleading. “S-so... bargaining, begging or threats... which one works best...?” A hopeful edge forming in her tone. “... bribery, maybe?” The Captain gave a low, hollow laugh that forced Vaala to immediately recognise the folly of what she had said. “None of those things have ever worked,” the gargantuan Captain boomed, the last of his grim mirth fading as lightning flashed all around. “... I’ve heard but I do so much love when they beg...” A faint noise, coming with the thunder in the distance, carried a single questioning word to her. “Vaala...?” She twisted her head, trying to hear the strange voice. The storm loomed over the ship now, the wind blowing against the sails so hard she thought they might break. Vaala whirled back to the Captain, despair painted on her face. “Look, I don’t know, okay?! All I know is... all I know is that I’m not meant to be here! This is a mistake!” “They all say that,” the Captain retorted in his mighty voice, “or words to that effect... but that’s all they are. Words... as full of passion and thunder as the storm, but with as much meaning.” But there was a meaning in the thunder. Vaala could hear it more clearly, now -- a voice calling through the crack-rumble of lightning strikes. “Vaala...? Vaala, can you hear me?” Waves crashed against the sides of the barge. Vaala had to grasp hold of the railing near the wheel with both hands to avoid being tossed off her feet. “Look, Mister Captain, I don’t know what to say to you -- but I’m not like the others! I’m not! I’m different!” The Captain ignored her now, casting his eyes around the roaring seas, seeming nonchalant in the face of the boat rocking itself near to capsizing. “The winds roar this day,” he commented, flashing Vaala a smile full of teeth, “perhaps you’re right.” Vaala opened her mouth to answer, but instead it was filled with the dark red seawater. Spluttering and coughing the clumsy Klingon lost her grip on the railing and with a shriek she was swept off her feet, tumbling head over heels as she was dragged inexorably towards the side of the ship. “Ensign, we’re not on Eden anymore... we’re back on the ship!” With a crash she hit the side, her hands scrabbling wildly as she tried to grab hold of the railing. Her fingers on one hand found it, holding onto the wood with all her strength, her legs dangling overboard. “I don’t know what you mean!” she cried to the wind, salt water spraying into her face, blinding her. “I don’t know who you are!” “Ensign, it was a temporal disturbance! We’re safe now!” She did not feel safe at all, her tenuous grip on the ship’s railing the only thing keeping her from being swept overboard. “I’m not safe! I’m not safe at all! Help me! Help! Help...!” Her fingers weakened and, with a shriek she lost her grip and was carried into the churning red sea. ***** She woke to the shaking of her shoulders. “Ensign? Ensign Vaala...? Wake up...!” Her eyes flew open and, once again, she sat bolt upright -- but this time her ridged forehead smacked into the face of the fresh-face cadet who was shaking her. James Huntington, a blonde security cadet whom she had been intending on introducing herself to before the ship went through the wormhole. Went through the wormhole... then crashed on the planet they had called Eden. Years had passed... then she had been stabbed to death during a crew mutiny. Or not, as the case was apparently. Huntington extended his hand, helping the large Klingon woman to her feet. “Sorry for shaking you so hard, I didn’t know how to wake you up...” Vaala, her nerves shot, just gave a nervous smile. “Uhh- no problem, thank you... Cadet.” James nodded again, then departed, leaving Vaala alone in her office. Sitting on her chair, Vaala drew her knees close to her chest, mulling over what she had experienced. Death, in all its horrid and exquisite pain, followed by a near visit to Grethor... it seemed no matter what she did, she would die a coward and Sto-Vor-Kor would be denied to her. As she sobbed quietly in her office, pondering this and all its various implications, Vaala swore she could hear the faint howl of the wind and a distant rumble of faraway thunder.
  21. ((Somewhere on the Surface of Thracia II)) ::A stiff wind blew through the baring trees, shedding more of the dying leaves from the brittle branches and bringing with it a chill that permeated the air surrounding the silently moving predator. With darkness falling, it would have been difficult to see the black hair billowing behind her head like smoke from a growing blaze, unless of course you knew just what you were looking for. To the prey she stalked, her silent movements went unnoticed as it continued to gather what it would need to survive the coming winter.:: ::With speed and agility that came naturally to the woman who darted through the trees and across the blanket of dead leaves spread over the hillside ground, Ili'kai approached her prey from a downwind angle. Sharpened spear in hand, her graceful movements finally brought her in range of the large rodent-like creature. Pulling the spear back in the same manner her mother had taught her, she took one last aim at the animal and sent the weapon sailing through the air.:: ::As her fingertips let their grip fade, the creature finally looked up to see the hunter, but by then it was already too late. An almost sickening cry erupted from it as the spear found its mark and took a life that had been there only moments before. With a sigh, the woman moved next to her kill and fell on her knees whispering towards the first stars that began to appear in the ever darkening sky above.:: ((Warbird Rinoaul - In Orbit of Thracia II)) ::The Thracian Alliance has officially been born. With the transition of the Vauthil to the command of Commander Kital Creena, and the apparent retreat of the Klingons from the border world's orbit, the newly born, interstellar power could begin to gain a foothold in one of the most contested and hostile regions of space known to the galaxy - the Neutral Zone that lay between the Klingon Empire's territory and that which once belonged to the Romulan Star Empire.:: ::With help from the Federation, war over the mineral rich planet below had been averted. Despite the apparent direction in which the Alliance would head, the Commander of the Starfleet ship which had been dispatched to negotiate the contested region had finally stood behind the third option once it had been presented. Not wanting the world to be either Klingon or Romulan, and rightly so due to its location, the raven haired officer had backed up the Thracian Fleet which had been disguised in the cloak of the Romulan predecessors to whom the ships had once belonged.:: ::The destruction of Hobus had changed everything and the move to bring together a sect of Romulans with a group of Velorians and Ameoneians seemed promising for all involved. Now they had created the fledgling Alliance, with their first task to be implementing mining operations on the untouched planet below. The world was rich in minerals, and it would bring plenty of income to the new Alliance, but there was still one small issue to take care of. Far below the Rinoaul, on the surface of the primitive world, was a proto-Vulcan race that had not yet achieved industry let alone space travel.:: ::It was an issue that would need dealing with, but not one that would slow the new Thracian Alliance down.:: ((Somewhere on the Surface of Thracia II)) ::Standing on the edge of a rock that jutted farther into the sky than those surrounding it, as if reaching for the very stars she watched, Ili'kai pulled the heavy cloth hanging off her shoulders closer around her thin frame. The first chill of winter could be felt here much more starkly than it could below in the forest. The lack of trees on the rocky ledge permitted the whipping winds to race the birds along the mountaintops as they sought shelter as they would from a coming storm.:: ::The same feeling that sent the animals deeper into the darkness set an uneasy feeling about her. Though the rock she stood on, Stormwatch, was named for its vantage point that gave her people the ability to see, and thus prepare ahead of time, for the coming storms sent by the gods, this night she saw nothing but clear skies. Night spread across the lands, snuffing the last of the daylight and sending the sun into exile until day would break once more on the other side of the sky. The stars appeared, twinkling into existence one by one as the sky grew darker and the last remnants of the day were lost forever. There were no signs of a storm, yet the winds carried with them a new voice; whispers of change that promised something sinister she couldn't quite understand.:: ::Things were simple for her and her people. The same events came year after year, season after season, with very little changing the lands around the villages that thrived along the river they knew as Mirak. It was the water that brought life and provided them with the creatures that they hunted. It gave them a mode of transport and refreshment on the warmest of the summer days. Winters weren't easy, but the river allowed life to thrive through the cold as long as you had the tools to break through the surface to the flowing water below the ice.:: ::Traditions had been passed from mother to daughter since antiquity. Ili'kai was proof of those traditions. Now standing on the rock that had been known as the guardian and lookout point, where her people sent scouts to catch the very first tendrils of danger that might be heading their way, what amounted to the princess of the Paytora people sought to figure out just what danger that might be. There were no visible signs of it, but the feeling that was eating away at her wouldn't let her give up and take her recent kill home without searching for something deeper.:: ::Again, the dark haired woman with the pointed ears pulled her primitive cover closer around her body to block out the shrill stab of the cold wind, watching as the trees below her in the valley swayed in the growing silence. It was then, as yet another wave moved across the ocean of half bare trees below, that she noticed it.:: ::Far above the few traces of clouds that floated through the night sky, a single point of light appeared to move from one side of the sky near the horizon to a place directly above her. The woman let out a gasp and sunk instinctively to her knees. Taking shelter in the small bushes that grew here and there among the rocks, Ili'kai watched the light as it moved into the distance and disappeared.:: ((Thracian Survey Shuttle - Enroute to the Surface of Thracia II)) ::Cytara Tren, Sub-Commander and Commanding Officer of the now Thracian Alliance Warbird Rinoaul sat back in the chair and watched as the terrain of the planet came into view. It was still very far below them, but she was able to make out a river here and there between seas of various greens, a teal-blue ocean to the east, and some kind of darkened forest in the south. The scientists on the ship had told her of a few small colonies, if that's what you could call them, positioned along the biggest of the rivers. It was here that the primitive race lived.:: ::Mining equipment was already being arranged for transport to the surface. In fact, as soon as day arrived on this side of the planet, the operation was set to begin. However, history had a way of repeating itself, and so Cytara was sent to head off any problems the natives might cause. They might have been primitive, but when you were fighting for your right to exist, strength seemed to find its way to you. It was her job, then, to ensure that strength did not find its way to these people, in this time.:: ::Along the river the shuttle went, getting closer to the surface as it passed one village. A few minutes later it passed another. Things went on like this until the river met a much larger body of water and poured its heart and soul into the sea; a sea that would soon turn red with the blood of the dying world. With a stoic gaze, Cytara watched as the shuttle turned around and lined up for another pass along the river. The effects of the mining operation were of no consequence to her. After all, it was not the Romulans or the new Thracians, who maintained the so-called Prime Directive, and as her mind was only concerned with the wellbeing of her people, the images of the blood red water didn't bother her.:: ::Lower to the surface now, the shuttle sped along, racing up the snaking river as its occupants, mostly science personnel from the Rinoaul, took note of sensor readings, village locations, and mineral rich deposits. In nearly every case, village locations coincided with mineral rich areas, a theory that had come to light while the team had still been on the larger ship above. Now that it had been confirmed, it was time for Cytara to decide on how to relocate the natives without causing too much of a stir.:: ::While her first reaction would be to just get rid of them, the Thracian Alliance was decidedly not the Romulan Star Empire. As such, the game would have to be played a bit differently than if Hobus had still been around. Besides, there was something to be said about native labor. The less they would have to do themselves, the easier the process promised to be. Not only would these native people know the land and any dangers that lurked within, but they would surely be awed by the technology that Cytara and the Alliance would bring with them. Yes; that would be the best way of dealing with the problem of these people that, to her, didn't even have a name.:: ::Perhaps her mind was running away with her, but she envisioned a welcome that the very gods would receive if there had been any. Sure, she knew better, but would the native people of the planet know better? With looks that were similar to the proto-Vulcan race, becoming their religious icons seemed like the path of least resistance and something that she could truly enjoy. Her aspirations within the Romulan military had been dashed with the destruction of their main star, but perhaps she could regain something with her command of the mining operations on Thracia II.:: ::A small, somewhat repugnant smile appeared on her face as she continued to look out the front window of the survey shuttle. Her hands clasped in her lap, plans of her godly 'homecoming' were already coalescing in her mind.:: ((On Top of 'Stormwatch' - The Surface of Thracia II)) ::With the passing of the dancing light in the sky, a sight that Ili'kai took as a sign from the gods above, the land grew eerily still. The sky was still devoid of clouds, yet the calm of the wind, the ground, and the life of the surrounding forest seemed to point directly at an oncoming storm. She was beyond confused now, wondering not only what the strange light in the sky had been, but what the reason was behind the stillness of that night. It felt as if something were coming, though she could not even begin to speculate as to just what it was.:: ::The soft rustle of a nearby bush pulled her eyes from the sky as the head of a large cat-like creature emerged slightly to watch her. A soft smile graced her features and she knelt down to pat it's head. Distracted with her loyal pet, who also refused to step out into the open, Ili'kai never saw the approaching shuttle as it raced along the course of the Mirak river. The wind seemed, for a moment, to pick up, blowing the long dark hair from around her shoulders and out behind her, but she gave that moment and all of her attention to the seemingly fearful animal hiding in the bush.:: ::It was often the timing of the universe that made things as they were, and in this moment, things were no different. As Ili'kai knelt near her beloved pet, whispering tranquil thoughts to him, a deep rumbling sound grew in the distance. Seconds later, the sound grew into a thundering roar as a huge flying creature rushed over Stormwatch. Not having the time to hide, the woman found herself alone again, left with her confusion and fear as she watched the strange bird dart into the distance.:: ::There was a moment where she knelt frozen, unsure of what action to take or even if she had really seen what she had just seen. The creature, having disappeared along the river, left her in near total silence and even the wind calmed beyond the norm. It seemed as if a specific calm, one that preceded the worst of the squalls, had settled; she had to warn her people of the danger that rode on the wind that eve. Though she was still unsure of just what that danger was, they needed to prepare for the coming storm.:: ::Tying the worn in cloth around her shoulders, the agile legs of the Peytora princess carried her quickly through a forest that was far more silent than it should have been. The land itself, along with all of its inhabitants, were preparing for the tempest that was building just out of their sight. Ili'kai knew now that her people needed to do the same, and quickly, if they were to survive.:: ::Her momentum carried her into her village with an air of panic about her. Walking to the elders hall and not speaking to any as she did, the raven haired woman threw open the doors and locked eyes with her mother. There was fear in those eyes, as well as a look that conveyed the dreadful nature of what she had seen. It was only when the great hall fell silent at her abrupt entrance that she spoke.:: "A storm is coming on the wings of a giant eagle," her voice sounded ominous, proclaiming the dire news. "We must prepare." -- Commander Kalianna Nicholotti Commanding Officer Starbase 118/USS Victory
  22. “Some of the most beautiful things in the galaxy are also the most dangerous.” “What was that, Captain?” “Nothing.” The Captain and First Officer of the USS Dionysus were looking at the viewscreen. In front of their ship, a deadly but gorgeous plasma storm raged in the depths of deep space. The helmsman, Lieutenant Brax, sat in awe of the wondrous display of nature’s fury. They had picked up a distress call from a Bolian freighter while they were on a routine survey mission only a few light years away. It appeared to be caught in the storm, but they weren’t answering any hails. The sensors couldn’t get a clear enough reading to detect life signs, and transporting wasn’t an option. Maneuvering the big Galaxy-class starship into a position to assist wouldn’t be easy, either. The Captain decided on a third option. “Lieutenant Brax, Commander Rozan, meet Doctor Selak in the main shuttlebay,” ordered Captain Dantes. The two bridge officers got up from their stations at helm and ops, respectively. They nodded at the two command officers, and headed for the turbolift. “Main shuttlebay,” Rozan told the computer. The turbolift began moving, and before long the pair were in the main shuttlebay. The Chief Medical Officer was already in the Rhine, a Danube-class runabout. A craft small enough to maneuver through the field of unstable plasma outside, yet strong enough to survive any stray hits they might take. The Doctor was seated at the starboard aft station. Brax took the helm, and Rozan sat beside him. “Rhine to Bridge, we are ready to depart,” Rozan stated. “You are clear for departure,” came the voice of one of Rozan’s subordinates. The shuttlebay doors opened, and Brax eased the runabout off the landing pad and into space. He piloted the small craft deftly toward the plasma storm. “I’m taking her in,” Brax announced. The runabout crossed the threshold of the plasma storm and began to head for the coordinates of the Bolian freighter. Their sensors were down, so Brax had to rely on his keen sense of direction to remember where the freighter was. At the same time, he had to ensure the ship remained safe. The ride was a bit bumpy, so Rozan was about to adjust the inertial dampeners when Brax asked him not to. “I need to fly by feel in here, visibility is poor and the sensors are useless.” Rozan nodded and left the dampeners at their default setting. There was a great swirl of colors outside, but Brax was too occupied to notice the beauty of his surroundings. An arc started to form in their path, it would hit the runabout almost instantly. Brax reacted without thinking, he rolled the runabout 90 degrees to port and pitched down at a 45 degree angle from the path of the arc. They just missed it. The second time they weren’t so fortunate. A bolt hit them from starboard. Brax had no way of seeing it, but they all felt it. The runabout jerked violently to port. Without sensors, it was difficult for Brax to determine how far off course they were. The gasses outside were in such a state of flux that Brax wasn’t even sure which direction the Dionysus lay in, let alone the Bolian freighter. He kept his concerns to himself, however, and adjusted his heading using only intuition. He hoped the proximity sensor was still working, as that was the only way they’d know if they reached the freighter. They could be in the plasma storm for weeks if Brax wasn’t able to pinpoint the freighter. He turned to the Commander. “Is there anything you can do to get me sensors of some kind, it’s not going to be easy to find that freighter.” “I’ll see what I can do.” Rozan fiddled with the console in front of him, attempting various frequencies, bandwidths, compressions, and a variety of algorithms. Finally, he came up with a plan. “This runabout is equipped with several Class-1 probes. I think if I can modify three of them to emit a subsonic pulse, and do the same to the runabout’s sensors. We can send out short-range pulses and listen for a return. It’ll be crude, but it should be enough to triangulate a solid object.” “Sonic pulses? Sounds like sonar. Sound needs an atmosphere,” the Doctor chimed in skeptically. “Sonar, yeah, and we’re surrounded by gasses as well as plasma, they should be able to carry low frequency sound.” “Intriguing.” Rozan set about making the modifications to the probes, while the Doctor lent a hand in making modifications to the Rhine’s own sensors. Brax kept the ship as still as he could while dodging the occasional discharge. He found a fairly quiet place in the storm to wait to launch the probes when Rozan was ready. Before long, Rozan returned from modifying the probes, and launched them in three directions to begin a triangulation procedure. “Probe one is picking up a solid object, bearing 010 mark 191. Adjusting other probes to close in on the source. We should move the runabout in closer.” “Aye, sir,” Brax responded. Brax set the course and began to move the runabout toward the reading. Soon the subsonic pulse of all three probes and the runabout were picking up the same object. They were still a bit far from it, but they were closing on the source along with the probes. “Got it!” Rozan exclaimed. “I see it.” The Bolian freighter came into view through the window at the front of the runabout. Brax slowed down and maneuvered into docking position. He engaged the clamps and extended the docking seal. “We’re docked, Commander.” Rozan nodded and attempted a scan of the interior. “I’m not getting a clear reading of the interior, recommend EV suits until we’re sure they have atmosphere and gravity.” The trio donned their EV suits and climbed into the airlock. Lieutenant Commander Rozan was the first to go. The three men were all armed, just in case. They didn’t expect any trouble, but they couldn’t be certain. Rozan opened up the hatch to the Bolian freighter and they entered the ship. The artificial gravity net was working, and life support seemed to be functioning, although the lights appeared to be offline. Doctor Selak got out his tricorder and began to scan the interior of the vessel while the other two drew their phasers and checked the immediate vicinity. They found no trace of life. “I can’t be sure if the tricorder is working, but I’m not picking up any life signs,” the Doctor stated. He tapped a few buttons on his tricorder, “if I’m reading this correctly, there appears to be an unusual radiation signature aboard the ship. It doesn't appear to be dangerous, but I recommend minimizing our exposure. We should split up and search the vessel for survivors before returning. I suggest we not remain here longer than needed.” Rozan signaled his agreement, and the three split up to search the ship. Lieutenant Brax was the first to see something, but he couldn't be sure what it was. He scanned the area with his tricorder. He could have sworn he saw something moving, but the tricorder registered no bio signs, nothing but that strange radiation. There was a jolt to the ship, followed by a bright flash and a shower of sparks as a power conduit took a direct hit from a plasma discharge. The lights on Brax’s EV suits went out, and his tricorder went dead. He tried signaling the other two officers, but to no avail. He heard the clattering of metal hitting the deck, and he swung around to face the noise. There was another jolt, another discharge, and more sparks. The brief moment of light let him see what had caused the sound. A Bolian was shambling toward him. A wave of fear washed over the Lieutenant. Suddenly, power restored to his suit and he could see the Bolian moving closer. His mouth appeared to be bleeding, and he looked to be in bad shape. He scanned the man with his tricorder, but it sensed nothing from him but that inexplicable radiation. Whoever, or whatever, was coming toward him did not register as alive on his tricorder. He activated his external comm. “We’re here to help, we’re from a Starfleet vessel just outside the plasma storm, we picked up your distress call.” The Bolian responded by screaming and lunging at him. Brax reacted quickly, firing his phaser at the man and knocking him back. This only seemed to anger the Bolian. He charged Brax again. Brax fired again and the Bolian halted long enough for Brax to up the setting. He set it to the highest stun setting and fired again. The man went down, but to Brax’s surprise, got right back up. Brax increased the setting to maximum and vaporized the Bolian. Brax signaled his two crew mates over the comm. “Brax to Selak and Rozan, I’ve had a run-in with what might have been a member of the crew... I think. I had to vaporize him to get him off me.” There was no response, so he tried again. And again. After several tries to reach them, he scanned for their comm signals. He picked up Rozan’s signal first, and set off in search of him. It didn’t take long to find him, or what was left of him. Three Bolians were surrounding Rozan. His EV suit was torn open, as was his stomach. His guts were partially strewn across the deck, and partially in the mouths of the Bolians. Brax vaporized the three Bolians without a thought. He tried to reach the Doctor again, but all he got was static. Without warning, he felt an incredible urge to take off his helmet. Without thinking, he did. He immediately smelled the stench of rotting flesh and the after-scent of vaporization. He tried to put his helmet back on, but instead he tossed it down the corridor. Slowly, the scent of rotting flesh subsided, and all he could smell was Doctor Selak. He dropped his equipment clumsily and began to walk towards the scent of Doctor Selak. He could barely control his legs. He shambled forward at a slow but steady pace. From out of nowhere, two Bolians joined him in the search for the Doctor. At some point, Brax’s eyes had grown strangely adept at seeing without light. He moved on instinct. He felt an incredible hunger, and somehow he knew that only the Doctor could satisfy him. He found the Doctor in one of the cargo bays. There were no lights on the Doctor’s EV suit: all the power was drained from his equipment. Several dead Bolians lay at his feet, their heads bashed in by the metal pipe the Doctor was holding. Brax suddenly felt overcome with rage. The Bolians and Brax rushed the Doctor, who saw their movement at the last moment. He swung the metal pipe with all his might and managed to bash the head of the Bolian to Brax’s right. The Bolian to his left made a terrible scream, and Brax was unable to stop himself from doing the same. The hollow screams echoed through the empty cargo hold. Brax and the remaining Bolian lunged at the Doctor, and tore at his EV suit. The Doctor struggled, but Brax and the Bolian overpowered him. They were soon through his suit and uniform, and the strong scent of fresh food filled Brax's nostrils. Selak made an unholy scream, and Brax and the Bolian replied with a horrible, screeching scream of their own. Despite Brax's focused willpower, there was nothing he could do to keep from tearing through the Doctor's flesh and gathering a handful of intestines. The Bolian and him feasted on the Doctor. As they ate, Brax’s consciousness drifted away. He felt a sense of floating, he looked down and saw himself. His body was still eating the Doctor, but he wasn’t looking through his own eyes. He could still taste the Doctor's gore. There was a bright flash as another power conduit erupted in a shower of sparks, and then everything went dark. All Brax could feel was cold. He saw nothing, heard nothing, eventually the taste of fresh blood faded from his mouth as well. He tried to look around, but all he saw was black. Then, even the sense of cold faded. One final scream echoed through the hollow chamber, and then there was nothing. Ensign Damian Fleming Helm Officer USS Mercury
  23. As the shimmering effect of the transporter diminished Tal glanced around. He was surrounded by the densest jungle on the planet which when you consider that the planet was Duronis II was pretty dense. The small clearing he was in existed only because of the waterfall and smooth exposed rock surrounding it. But the tranquil beauty of the location was not why he was here. Tal barely noticed it and then only to notice the absence of foul smells. That was the hardest thing for him to adjust to living on a planet as backwards as this one. The underlying stench of so many people crammed into one small area along with all the other smells, putrid and otherwise that assailed his antenna every time he left the Embassy and entered the city proper. No, he was here to relax and for him that meant the absence of people and technology. Fortunately finding a place to get away from it all was not that hard to do. He would have preferred a nice desert or even some frigid arctic wasteland but the first was almost totally missing from this world and the second was hardly worth considering. So here he was, deep in the heart of the largest jungle on the planet, about to enjoy 3 days away from it all. His antenna twitched to the buzzing of numerous flying insects. They flocked to him as he dropped his backpack and started to get undressed. A few even went so far as to bit him hoping he would satisfy their hunger. In that regard they were sorely disappointed. His alien Andorian blood was to chemically different from the native version for them to be able to digest it. In fact most of the insects that bit him died soon after as the white blood cells from his blood attacked their systems. Finished undressing Tal neatly folded his uniform and packed it into a small pouch that he then sealed shut. He slipped his communications badge into the outer pocket, placed in on the rock surface next to his backpack and then turned away, running the few yards to the edge of the rock where he flung himself out into the deep pool at the base of the water fall. He surfaced, enjoying the cool feeling of the water against his skin. After swimming for a while he climbed out and got dressed. His clothes a drastic change from his normal uniform, especially the savage looking knife on his belt. Now all he had to do was find a place to string up his hammock and then find something to eat and he would be set for the night. A slight smile drifted across his face as he anticipated the welcome challenges awaiting him. ************************************* The rain poured down, a torrential flood of rain that reduced visibility to less than a dozen feet. Even here under the trees at the edge of the clearing where he had been staying he was drenched. His shirt was plastered to his skin and water ran down his face, dripping from his nose and chin in a continual never ending cycle. Most people would have been annoyed, maybe even irritated. Most would have curled into some kind of rain gear and tried to cower under some kind of shelter but not Tal. He merely leaned back, letting his body settle back into the soft cradle that was his hammock. Suddenly his antenna twitched and his eyes opened. He sat up again and looked around. Something was wrong. A sudden flash of light was quickly followed by a booming crash of thunder. The sound and vibration in the air caused his antenna to suddenly lay back against his skull. For a few moments he was practically blind, his enhanced sense of hearing neutralized. Tal rolled out of the hammock and dropped to the ground. As he did a sudden flash of light streaked across the clearing and almost cut his hammock in half. Instantly Tal rolled deeper into the jungle, away from who ever had just tried to kill him. He crouched in the dark, most of his body under the large drooping fronds of some native fern plant. His keen eyes scanned the clearing, seeking any sign of movement. However it was his antenna that warned him of movement. Someone was behind him, creeping closer. Tal remained motionless, except for his eyes. Time seemed to stand still as he waited. Lighting flashed again, followed by another powerful crash of thunder. Still nothing. Suddenly Tal spotted the man just as another flash of lightning lit up the area. He held a scanner in one hand and some kind of energy pistol in the other. As soon as Tal spotted him, he moved. His legs acted like a spring to power him up and out, thrusting him rapidly towards the man as he started to swing his weapon towards him. Just as his finger tightened on the trigger, Tal smashed a devastating uppercut right into his jaw. It was powered by his entire body and he felt a sickening crack as the man’s jaw shattered. He dropped, out cold before he even hit the ground. Tal glanced around quickly. No movement, except for the pounding rain. Turning his attention to the man, Tal realized he was Romulan. Young, fit, wearing typical jungle fatigues and armed with a knife, disruptor pistol and scanner. Tal searched him quickly and removed all his gear, including a small signal transponder that would allow a cloaked ship to lock on and transport him away. Puzzled Tal wondered why they had attacked him. True he had meddled into their attempts to influence the local political elections, but this was to well planned for it to be any of the local Romulans. No, unless Tal was very mistaken this guy was either some specially trained soldier or a member of the Tal Shiar. Either way he was not alone. The first shot had come from in front of him, not behind. Now that he knew it was Romulans he also could be fairly sure that there were 4 more of them sneaking around looking for him. Tal quickly searched him again, glad that he did when he found a small communications device. He added it to the rest of the gear and then moved all it out of sight under the large fern he had been hiding under. Finished he eased into the jungle, moving silently, all his senses alert for the others. It took a while. Longer than he had expected but they were obviously being very careful. It did not help as Tal disarmed the man easily. Next he tried to pull his knife but Tal grabbed his wrist and held him still while hammering a few blows into his chin and face. Suddenly his knees gave way and he dropped to the ground. Just like the last one he searched and removed all his weapons and equipment. Then he took it with him as he slipped off into the undergrowth. As soon as he could he hid the stuff, then he continued his search. This time he almost blundered into one of them. His senses warned him in time to throw himself forward. Even with that his left shoulder exploded into agony as it was partially hit with a grazing shot. For the next 10 minutes he was on the run. Constantly ducking and weaving, barely staying ahead of the enemy fire. Finally he managed to work his way over to where the river ran through the jungle. As soon as he got there he dove in. The cool water felt fantastic, it almost instantly started to relieve the tingly, burning sensation where he had been hit. It also let him break contact with the enemy. As he swam upstream towards the waterfall he allowed himself to think back over the previous mad dash through the jungle. Had he been shot at by 2 or 3 individuals. It took him a few seconds, but the more he thought about it the more he was sure it had only been 2. Once he reached the edge of the clearing where the waterfall was, Tal moved to the bank and was about to climb out when 2 men entered the clearing. As before they both had disruptors and scanners. Quickly he took a deep breath and forced himself under, pulling himself along until he got to a spot where the water was more than 6 feet deep with in a couple feet of the bank. The whole time he kept looking up. Waiting. Suddenly he spotted them. They had just walked up to the bank and seemed to be arguing about something. Tal took advantage of their momentary distraction and propelled himself out of the water. Reaching out with his long arms and grasping their shirts in an iron fingered grip. After that it was simple to yank them both into the water and hold them under till they finally stopped struggling. Instantly he surfaced, took a deep breath and then hauled both of them out of the water. He turned them over, face down on the smooth rock surface and applied pressure until they both expelled the water in their lungs. His antenna leaned forward, searching for some indication they were breathing. He caught the faint rasp of indrawn air seconds before he flung himself forward over them towards a grassy section of ground. Tal turned to look up at another man. His face was a strange mask of rage and anger. In his hand he held a savage looking knife. He paced forward, his brown eyes gleaming with deadly intent. Tal could tell he was an expert hand to hand fighter. The way he held the knife, moved, it all spoke of years of practice and training. He moved closer, his balance superb. His eyes watchful as the tip of his blade kept shifting, never still, masking his intent until the last second. He lunged, flipped the blade to the opposite hand, slid forward and thrust, aiming for Tal’s eyes. At the last second Tal slapped the blade away, moving in close as he did. It flashed by his head missing by a slim fraction. Tal surged ahead, slamming his elbow into his head. It rocked him, forcing him to take a step back as he tried to stab his fingers into Tal’s face. Tal followed up with a punishing uppercut to the jaw and ended it with a spinning kick. He sucked air into his lungs, calming his breathing as he moved forward and made sure the man was out cold. Only then did he search him. As soon as he was done he searched the other two, made sure they were both still breathing. The one moved slightly, trying to rollover. Tall lifted him and struck swiftly. A controlled strike that instantly knocked him out cold. Looking around Tal collected all their technology, placed it into one pile and when he was done he went and retrieved the other two men and their gear. Tal then retrieved his backpack and loaded all their gear into it. All he left them was their knives. By the time he was done it had stopped raining. From the looks of things dawn would soon be here. Tal undressed, wiped himself down and retrieved the bundle with his uniform in it. As soon as he was dressed Tal replaced his communications badge on his chest and activated it. =/\= Cmdr. Tel-ar to the USS Thunder. Beam me up. =/\= =/\= Understood sir. Just be a minute. =/\= While he waited for them to transport him back up to the ship Tal stood calmly waiting with his backpack in his hand. Then he vanished to reappear aboard the ship. Looking around he saw the transporter chief smile just as he asked a question. “So sir. Did you have a good vacation?” “Yes Ensign. I did enjoy myself.” As he said it a slight ghost of a smile drifted across his features. “Glad to hear it sir. Take care.” “I plan to Ensign.”Tal replied just before he turned and left the room. Out in the corridor he activated his communications badge as he walked towards his security. =/\= Cmdr. Tel-ar to the bridge. =/\= =/\= Yes sir. Lt. Michaels here. =/\= =/\= Lt. I want you to place a mark III jamming satellite in space over the location where I was beamed up from. =/\= =/\= A mark III? =/\= =/\= Yes Lt. Schedule it for retrieval in a month. =/\= =/\= Ok Sir. May I ask why? =/\= =/\= Pest control Lt. After all even pests deserve a vacation. Tel-ar out. =/\=
  24. It was the same dream he’d had over and over again. Night after night, he always awoke in a pool of sweat, and sometimes blood. The latest laceration to his arm was healing in good fashion, but he still didn’t know how it got there. Jameson stood and gathered himself after this night’s nightmare. He didn’t understand. There were times in his life that weren’t the best that might have left a mark so to speak on his soul. He stood in the mirror looking at his face. It’d grown a bit wearier as of late. We all have those, don’t we? He splashed some water over his face as he thought to himself, only the light of the sink area to fill that small portion of the room. We all have things we can’t escape, right? He let out a long breath. Making his way over to the replicator, he went to order, but couldn’t make the words come. He couldn’t think at all, not even in the slightest. This nightmare was probably the worst one yet. He picked up his commbadge off the table next to his rack. “Ensign Jameson to Counselor Latrelle…” The voice on the other end was more than likely the only comfort he could receive as of late. “ Go ahead Ensign…” He paused for a moment… “Sir, it happened again. I need to speak with you as soon as you have the time.” The counselor replied with an unexpected one, “Most certainly, why don’t you come now.” “Sir, It’s three in the morning…” Jameson didn’t know why he said that. After all, he was the one who called the counselor. “I understand that Ensign, but to be quite frank, I believe you’re passed the point of appointments. Just get down here.” “Aye Sir…” The young man stood up from the bed and began to don his uniform. He looked back in the mirror one last time, but what he saw made his gut sink. In the mirror looking back at him was a face devoid of flesh, with a dark mist surrounding it. The mist would suddenly break from time to time with bright reds and oranges, and the skinless face would be revealed. It seemed like it was there for an eternity, but as he fell to the floor in fear, the face was gone. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Counselor Latrelle brought up the Ensigns profile on his PADD and sat with a cup of coffee at his desk. He had been working with the young man for quite some time in regards to recurring nightmares and daydreams. It had affected his performance at his duty post, ultimately resulting in mandated retraining and counseling. He pulled up a section about the man’s childhood and saw that it was blank. He wasn’t sure just what the young man was hiding, but this evening, he intended to find out. He moved over to where the couch was situated near the window. He pulled the hypnotic inducers from their case and set them on the arm of the couch. The door chimed. “Come” he said as he sat back at the desk. The young Ensign entered the room and sat on the couch that he was so accustomed to these days. The counselor could see the weariness on the man’s face, and could feel the utter fear that radiated from every pour of his body. “Derek, I’m going to speak freely here, and as you know, you’re always welcome to do the same… But you look like [...]…” he stood and moved towards the couch to take a seat. “Sir, I, I don’t know what the hell is happening to me. It happened again tonight, the nightmare. The same one I’ve been having for the past three months. And, well something else happened right before I left my quarters.” He was starting to tense up. He was nervous and fearful of the words about to exit his mouth. “Go on…” “Well, right before I left, I saw myself from my dream in the mirror. It was, well it was as real as my frigging hand.” He held his hand up as if to demonstrate. Putting the ensign’s hand back from whence it came, “Take it easy. I assure you, it wasn’t as real as you think it was. The worst case scenario that we talked about last time, remember that? Well It’s happening. The imagined is starting to become reality. Whatever this is that’s bothering you is eating you whole Derek. I want to change your therapy slightly. I want to try hypnosis…” Ensign Jameson didn’t really know what to say. On one hand he became defensive and didn’t want any part of what the good counselor was suggesting, but on the other, he knew that the problem was getting worse, and he himself wasn’t going to be enough to solve the problem. “Alright… Alright let’s do it…” “Okay, just lie back on the couch and make yourself comfortable. I’m going to apply these hypnotic inducers. No pain. No stress. Just free your mind for a moment.” He placed the inducers, one on each temple. “Now… Take me to your dream. To the images in your mind. What’s bothering you?” ((Everything flashes to white then to black, and soon the room is filled with the images)) The room was suddenly transformed to a pasture with small children playing with farm animals. They were running about, and oddly enough, the counselor could pick out the Ensign among the others. This was his child hood. At once the sky flashed, and a visible division could be seen over the land. On one half of the division, the sun peaked over the horizon and loomed over fog filled valleys. The red orange and pink glow of the fluorescent wonder made him squint a bit as he squat down next to the young Derek. He looked all around in the area that spread behind the two. Singing birds, tall lush forest, and a cool, comforting breeze blew through the branches of the lumbering giants. He slowly turned back to the land that lay before them, but it was far darker. In the distance lay a blood red moon, quite vast and ominous. It hung in a starless sky, overlooking vast caverns and deep crevices. The land was pock-marked with ages of ware and tare. The trees that are ever present bare no foliage, no life in their many hands. They stood tall, broken and barren. It was an unforgiving place, a place that Counselor Latrelle cared not to wander. In the distance quite a few dark figures could be seen, standing, striking down the other children. They only marched forth in the dark part of the land, but the darkness was coming closer and closer with each passing second. The child version of Derek all at once was swept away by a tall man, more than likely the boy’s father, and placed nearby in a small rock cavern overlooking the once graceful pasture. The tall man turned to the Counselor and addressed him, “Standfast! The tempest has arrived! We must hold steady and fight for our freedom!” The counselor tried to speak to the man, but his words were lost in the now fast moving winds. The darkness was inching closer and closer, and soon enough it hit him. He looked up towards the darkness to slowly see the moon disappearing behind a vast wall of some sort. It was massive with all sorts of green luminescence and a mixture of metals. He tried to walk forward, but he felt so heavy. It was a feeling that will never bare an explanation of its presence. He looked down at the road where he stood. There was not a visible line per say, but in the grass where the two territories met there was a sort of energy. The light side of the pasture behind him was vibrant with many color stones and grass; small life scuttling about its luscious surface while the other side a blacker, bleaker area with no life upon its surface. He lifted a hesitant foot the light and staggered to the other side. He pulled the other foot in and began his journey into the dark towards what he surmised was Ensign Jameson’s harbinger of fear. You could see the wind. It was a dark haze that flew around everything, engulfing it. It was so strong that Latrelle had to bare forward to withstand it. The wind formed around his shape leaving trails in the distance, blowing fiercely. He looked down at his arms only to see his uniform stripping off in shreds, followed by the very skin of his arms as the wind blew more and more intensely. He had the feeling that he’d travelled farther than even the Ensign had prior to tonight, but it was his lack of fear that kept him safe. He was beginning to see the figures that were once distant. He recognized the figures… They were Borg. He saw the tall man, Derek’s father, standing next to one of the drones who’d assimilated him, bringing him to his ultimate end. It was all at once the Counselor knew what was plaguing the young man. ((The room returns to normal as he removes his own hypnotic inducers.)) Ensign Jameson sat upright on the couch, no realizing just what he was afraid of. He knew that there were parts of his past that he didn’t know too much about. He also knew that remnants of his family, every now and again, would speak of the Great Storm that destroyed his home-world. He never made the connection, was never strong enough to make the connection on his own, until now. “I know what plagues me…” Latrelle didn’t know how to relate to any of this. A whole childhood taken from the young man by such undeserving beings; a childhood and family, gone in the blink of an eye. He had been running from the memories for such a long time that he’d forgotten most of the remaining memories. They all lay suppressed and dormant for so long. It wasn’t until the ship’s first encounter with the Borg did any of the young man’s troubles begin. He should have taken the hint. Latrelle sat forward and embraced Derek. “As do I Derek. Derek, your homeworld was assimilated… The Great Storm, it was all the Borg, all along… I’m so sorry.” --- Ensign Viktor Lanius Intelligence Officer USS Apollo, NCC-71669
  25. Hello! Welcome to the March/April round of the Writing Challenge! Please read this post carefully for guidelines on entering your submissions! Following in challenge traditions, the March/April round uses an object chosen by the previous round's winner to decide its theme. Joining us on the judging panel for this round is the March/April winner, Lieutenant (jg) Velana, who has decided on the following topic for this round: "The Storm" With such a powerful image at the heart of this round's challenge, the judging team is eagerly anticipating the chance to read your interpretation and the story you create. We've seen literal and figurative interpretations of themes in previous rounds, so how you work the topic into your entry is up to you! Also, a new regular feature of these posts is the running score for the year to date in the fleetwide competition! With a winner from the Tiger-A and a runner up from the Mercury, it's Tiger-3, Mercury-1! Which of the other ships will respond this time? Guidelines: To participate, create a new thread. The subject of the thread must be the title of your story. Use the drop-down "topic prefix" box to add "MAR/APR" in order for your entry to be considered for judging. If it is a Work In Progress, denote that at the top of the post itself (in the body text, not in the thread title). As with last round it will be the final draft posted in your topic that will be read and taken into consideration. Any unfinished entries marked as Work In Progress will not be considered for judging and will be moved to the "Character Cafe" forum at the end of the contest. Your work must be entirely your own. No co-authoring. You are welcome to create any character you so desire, but they must be from the Star Trek universe. No "canon" characters allowed. (i.e.- No one who has been on a show.) Also, please remember to sign your final draft as you would a post on your own ship. Length: No more than 3000 words and no less than 300 words accepted. Beginning Date: Tuesday, March 6th Ending Date: Saturday, April 22nd See Also: the Writing Challenge Website Challenge: “The Storm” Good luck to all competitiors! Get scribbling!
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