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  1. Post your questions, comments, and other discussion here!
  2. For this year, following along with the themes of the recent newly released series of Star Trek: Picard, and the current situation many of us are facing at home, the chosen theme is one of Star Trek's most beloved storytelling mechanics — Echoes of the Past. "The view screen snaps into focus on an impossible sight, and a voice from your past speaks to you and you alone..." How would your character react in this situation? What's going through their mind? What scene immediately pops into your head? Is there a word-fire kindling? Does it transport you somewhere? If so, bust out the virtual pen and paper, brew that Earl Grey and get cracking! One judge will be chosen from each ship to help select the winner. Rules & Guidelines: Word count should be a minimum of 300 and maximum of 3000. Members are welcome to submit solo stories, or team up with a buddy to submit a collaborative epic. Your submission should be in the format of a short story. Prose, not sim formatting. (See here for examples.) All members are welcome to submit entries for the community to read, but only those from active simmers will be reviewed by the judging panel for the final winners selection. Submissions are, by default, non-canon – if you find a way to shoehorn this into your own backstory, you're free to use it if you wish, but certainly not a requirement. To that end, you can create whatever characters make sense for the story. You don't have to use or reference any of your current characters. Also, rank is not an issue here – write as an Ensign or a Captain, civilian, whatever makes sense for your story! And you're free to use characters that you've already written for in sim, but please don't include anyone else's. Submit your story directly into the first post of a new thread. Use the following format for the thread title: [Primary Character Name(s) of author(s)]: "My Story's Interesting Title" Tristan Wolf: "Five Ways to End Your Starfleet Career" All stories must be submitted by Sunday, May 17 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Good luck!
  3. The tall, dark haired stranger pointed the weapon at Hayley. The young cadet stared at the barrel of the distruptor with fear and gulped. Sweat poured down her brow. Swallowing her fear, she bravely responded, “Please. Let me go and I will leave.” The stranger grinned with coldness and shook his head, “No. You don’t get out of this. Poor little girl. Fresh out of the academy, huh? Such a shame.” Without a second, he fired. The hot beam of the disruptor caught her flank thrusting her backwards. The back of her skull hit the metal post of the lamp. Clutching to her side, Hayley fell to the ground. Fighting the overwhelming darkness, she listened to him bark orders. “Men, take her body out and dump her with the others at the end of the colony. You know where it is. Do it. No one will know the truth of all this.” With her tongue stuck inside her throat, Hayley gasped with pain as darkness overcame her senses. Her life slowly ebbed away as his men carried her away. “Dev” A voice spoke in the back of her head. Hayley stood with her hands on the railing. She watched the shuttle fly from the port in a town in Ireland. She smiled watching and waiting. Already seventeen and full of promise, she waited for the shuttle to take her to the academy to begin her first studies in San Francisco. It was her life-long dream. “Devon” “Huh?” Hayley wondered. Turning around, she listened again and recognized the tone of her father. She smiled leaving her place against the railing to meet him. A barking sound followed him as she exclaimed seeing her favorite Irish Settler, “Mackie!” Her three-year-old puppy ran up to greet her as she opened her arms and exclaimed hugging her, “Father! You brought Mackie! I thought you left him to be cared for.” Mackie barked and slobbered all over her. Stroking her fur, Hayley stood and hugged her father. They embraced as he spoke, “I couldn’t let her alone without letting her say goodbye.” As Mackie sat awaiting her next command, she watched her two favorite humans watch each other. Hayley kept her smile and spoke, “Father. Thank you.” He stood there grasping her hands. He smiled and inquired, “Are you ready?” Hayley closed her eyes. Thinking to herself and feeling an overpowering feeling of emotion, she opened her eyes and nodded. As her green eyes stared at her father, she felt his happiness. Being only half Betazoid as she got half her abilities from her mother, the half Human shook her head, “I don’t know, father. I studied a lot. I learned many things. I thought I would be ready and yet.” “What?” her father inquired, “What is it,” Hayley gulped. Feeling pain on her side, she swallowed harshly and responded in a low, raspy voice, “I still feel this darkness inside me. An emptiness. A void left behind my mother. She,” Struggling to prevent her tears from falling, she turned away. Her father touched her face and responded bringing her to face him,” I know. Things were never the same for both you and your brother since your mother disappeared thirteen years ago. She left without warning and her disappearance made no sense.” Mackie watched them both and whimpered turning her head sideways. Hayley closed her eyes and nodded. Stroking Mackie on her head, she exhaled. Her puppy licked her hand. Her father placed his hand on her head and inquired, “It is part of why you joined Starfleet, isn’t it? To find your mother?” Hayley opened her eyes and nodded, “Yeah.” He sighed, “And I can’t persuade you to let go?” The young girl shook her head and swallowed her response, “No. I have to do this, father.” He nodded assuring her with a kiss on the forehead, “Okay. Be careful. Know that I love you, wherever you are.” That brought back a confident smile to her as Hayley replied, “Thanks. Love you too.” She hugged him and knelt before Mackie to kiss her. Her dog barked as Hayley turned away. The shuttle she waited for had come. Walking toward the plank, she turned to give her father a wave. Following several people, she boarded the shuttle. Halfway across the plank and entering the waiting shuttle, she heard that voice on the back of her mind again. Dev… “What?” Hayley turned around. Searching for the voice, it sounded familiar. It came again via a sudden ringing in her head. Devon… Hayley groaned. Grabbing her head, she fought the ringing pain. Stumbling against the passengers of the boarded shuttle, she banged the wall with her hand. The occupants ignored her apparently unaware of her sudden pain as the voice echoed but louder DEVON! Another groan escaped her throat as a sudden pain arched across her side. Clutching her flank, she felt something wet. Withdrawing her hand, she gasped seeing blood dripping from her hand and wound. Falling to her knees, she groaned closing her eyes as the painful voice lashed at her head like an electric whip. DEVON! Opening her eyes, Hayley gasped feeling around her. She was on her back with someone else atop her. Feeling herself whisked away from a familiar setting, she found herself on her back with a bunch of bodies around her. A man knelt over her and held her down as he tended to her wound, “Dev, stay with me.” “Huh,” Hayley groggily attempted to speak. Feeling her system filled with drugs to keep her pain in bay, a nagging ringing in her head just won’t quit as she groaned, “Captain?” The man holding her down appeared dark and clouded. Hayley’s eyes played tricks on her. Feeling her mind taken down, she muttered, “No. It can’t be. The captain is dead.” “Devon. Hey! Dev,” the man tended to her wound spoke. Soon his voice became familiar as she inquired, “Seth?” Her brother was here? That couldn’t be. He was halfway across the quadrant. No way he was here. She groaned, “Seth. What?” “Hey,” Seth spoke as she tried to get up. Keeping her down, “Dev, I’m not here. But, as your brother, I have to tell you. Don’t give up now. Devon!” “What,” Hayley groaned. Fighting to keep her eyes open, she flailed on the ground. Feeling the corpses of the dead near her, she went into a panic and screamed. Her brother yelled, “AWAKE!” Hayley stood up and gasped. Feeling a sudden rush of the smell of the dead crossing her nose, she gagged. No longer sensing her brother, she cried, “Seth!” It was all in her head as the medication was giving her hallucinations. Setting herself back against the only wall nearby, Hayley hissed with pain and groaned. Touching the bandages covering her side, she felt hot, sticky blood on her hand. Feeling nothing but silence in her mind, the half Betazoid cried softly. Realizing that she felt very much alone, Hayley gasped softly, “No.” Sitting alone among the dead colonists for a bit, Hayley felt herself drifting off. Shaking her head, she gasped, “No. Must stay awake.” Her professors had warned her that she must not sleep when she’s hurt bad. Hayley felt the darkness. It gnawed at her. It drew her in. It wanted her sweet embrace. Closing her eyes again, Hayley cried out in pain when another nerve struck her side. “Please, Dev. Stay awake.” She whimpered softly as her eyes slowly closed. The young twenty-three-year-old muttered, “Must. Stay. Awa-“ Sleep tugged at her as darkness embraced the young cadet. [End – To be continued…] Cadet Hayley Devon Caden, “Dev” In training (HCO) Unassigned
  4. The courtroom was a taciturn affair, bland and uninteresting. Indeed, it was room modified by necessity; its purpose had been to hold spare deuterium tanks and spent parts, not to house the practice of law. And yet, the addition of several pennants on the walls- sigils representing Starfleet, the Federation and the starship Quin’lat added a sense of propriety and nobility to the otherwise dingy affair. For all its patriotic imagery, the room was taut. The seating was packed with people. Beings from across space had packed themselves into the cramped accommodations, rejecting the admiralty’s strategy of limiting the audience by moving the hearing to the Quin’lat from the nearby Starbase 773- the place from which this entire debacle had begun. Merchants, scholars, and- somewhat concerningly- a small contingent of purple-bedecked prylars, had taken up a vigil near the front. It was clear from Admiral T’Lara’s unusually pursed lips that this was already a poor start to what would likely be at best a grueling day, and at worst… one that might well live in infamy. Before her and to the left sat the prosecution. Commander Snow carefully addressed his already immaculate work space, smiling peacefully, but all the while bearing heavy eyes. Several feet away, the defense stewed. One of the men, identified by his four-pipped collar of red and his stolid, terrifyingly calm features, was Captain Dolame Reager, commanding officer of the Quin’lat. The other man, similarly human and composed of a softer disposition, was Lieutenant Argyle Mallon. His hands were folded before him, and he bore the confidence of a guaranteed victor. The gentle tapping of a bell, three tones of two, brought the quiet rumble of hushed conversations to an end. Admiral T’Lara cast her eyes about the room, and spoke in a clear, melodious voice. “This hearing, convened on Stardate 239601.23, is now in session. Commander Snow, you may proceed”. Snow stood slowly, spreading a dignified hand over his already smooth uniform. “I would like to call Lieutenant Mallon to the stand”. On cue, as though nothing else could have been said, Mallon stood, and airly made his way to the witness stand. He sat comfortably, and eyed Snow with vague curiosity as he extended his hand toward the verifier. A warble of electronic noise heralded the arrival of a man’s condensed accomplishments. “Verified. Lieutenant Argyle Mallon” The computer asserted. “Current assignment; USS Quin’lat. Starfleet Command decoration for valor and gallantry. Beta Serpentis Expedition Medal, Daystrom Institute Commendation for Scientific Advancement…” The list continued for some time, each success seemingly more relevant and vast than the others before it. When it concluded some seventy seconds later, Commander Snow smiled. “An impressive career, made more extraordinary by your age and experience, lieutenant. A career based in honor and intelligence, but more than that… choices. Would you agree, lieutenant?” Mallon considered Snow for a long moment before smiling. “It is… a valid perspective, Commander.” “I’m pleased you feel that way, lieutenant”. Snow genuinely did sound glad. There was an unconventional sort of openness about him, well away from the dogged determination that many prosecutors elsewhere might display. “We are, after all, products of choices. Indeed, we are here now as a result of a choice- another fair characterization, lieutenant?” This time, Mallon was slower to respond. “Perhaps, sir. The topic of whose choice is still up for much debate.” Snow puckered his lips and nodded thoughtfully. “Well stated. Allow me, then, to clarify- and do feel free to interrupt me if I make an error here. On stardate 329512.02, the entire crew of the starship Quin’lat, yourself included, received certain orders from Starfleet Command. These orders, dispatched from Starfleet Medical, included instructions for a new round of inoculating medications to be administered to all hands.” Snow drew himself out, and tilted his head in confusion. “Mr. Argyle, as I understand it, you refused those orders”. Argyle nodded. “Yes, sir. That is correct.” “Hmm. And… your reasoning for this action was spiritual in nature, was it not?” Argyle again paused. “Technically, sir, yes. My spirituality, however, is far more present in my life than that of most other humanoids. My roots stem from the Ty’bek mountains of Terra Nova.” T’Lara was listening intently to the peaceful discourse before her, but out of the corner of her eye, she could not help but notice the expression of quiet fury on the face of Captain Reager. “Yes- most present, I gather. Of particular note is your aversion, shall we say, to certain plants and medications?” “Yes, sir”. “Plants and medications that were present in the new vaccine Starfleet Medical ordered for all hands aboard the Quin’lat?” “Yes, sir- precisely.” Snow wrapped his hands around his back and began to pace before the witness chair. “Are you familiar, Lieutenant Argyle, with the circumstances regarding this order to innoculate?” Argyle nodded slowly. “Yes, I believe it was an outbreak of Rigelian Fever”. “Rigelian Fever- damned nasty”. Snow paused, swallowed slightly, and continued. “What would you, in your expert opinion, deem as the most dangerous feature of this particular illness?” Argyle perked up. “The rapidity with which it reaches the terminal stage. Those with Rigelian Fever either improve drastically or perish approximately twenty-four hours after infection.” “Damned nasty indeed.” Snow’s hands were clenched. “And yet… you refused the inoculation all the same”. “Yes, sir, I did”. Argyle was placid. Saved. But the upper hand was enjoyable to indulge. “Ingesting those ingredients would certainly see me denied entry to the Holy Resplendence after my death. I chose not to contaminate my body with such pollution. A choice, I might add, granted by the Federation Charter-”. “I would advise that you leave the intricacies of Federation law to me, Lieutenant”. Admiral T’Lara’s tone was icy but impartial. Argyle nodded towards her deferentially and returned his gaze to Snow. “That was my reasoning, and my choice.” “Then what?” Argyle sighed after a moment’s pause. “The situation was brought to the captain’s attention. Soon after, I was charged with disobeying the order of a superior, and sent to the brig. When not here, I am confined there, as I have been for approximately one standard week.” “An… unfortunate turn of events, to be sure”, said Snow, his voice filled with regret. “You then decided to challenge the charge?” “Yes, sir- and I should like to point out that, in defense of this attempt, I am enjoying the counsel of Captain Reager himself.” Argyle extended a hand to his captain and bowed his head. Reager’s eyes were intensely focused ahead of him.” “Most noble of the captain.” Snow nodded respectfully toward the glowering superior. “He protects his own. He has been doing that since he took command. It’s his job. You understand that? You understand that diseases like this kill in days? You understand that if he did anything but lock you away, and insist that everyone take the vaccine, he would be endangering everyone aboard? And everyone the Quin’lat came into contact with?” “To a degree.” Mallon leaned forward conversationally. “I’ve researched this disease and many others. Most are completely treatable with our technology today. Yes, a few may die of complications, but we are not immortal, nor are we designed to be. Plants and herbs and things overrule my feelings, my beliefs, all for what you say is the common good. Even if I don’t take it, the rest of the crew will. They will be protected! I don’t interact with many other people besides. Call me whatever you wish- delusional, irresponsible- but I do not deserve to lose my commission, and I do not deserve to be discriminated against in this way!” His voice was now high, angry, strained. The sudden attack was as close to real as it needed to be. The prylars near him kept a quiet gaze on Mallon, but murmurings from the crowd again began. “The gallery will return to order”, Admiral T’Lara confidently declared, and quickly, it was so. Snow moved toward Mallon suddenly, and the lieutenant nearly recoiled. “Argyle. I know you. I’ve known you since the Serpentis Expedition. You are brilliant. You don’t deserve to lose your commission, but least of all over something like this! You must accept that vaccine, for the good of us all! One more sacrifice to be made, but you and your life and those around you are worth it- please, Argyle! A personal favor if nothing else!” “Objection.” The tone was strong, and somber. Captain Reager was now standing, his impressive size and aura placing a blanket over any mutterings that may have resumed from behind. “The defense is influencing the witness”. “Sustained”, ruled the admiral, raising an eyebrow at the unusual statement. Snow, for his part, looked at Mallon with a genuine sadness before turning to address the audience, and Admiral T’Lara. He opened his hands and spread them to the audience, before lowering them and smiling ruefully. “I tried. I really tried. I rest, your honor.” Snow returned to his seat, now more disheveled and weakened by his performance. Admiral T’Lara looked to Reager. “Your witness, Captain.” Reager stood, and the rage in his eyes was suddenly directed precisely at Mallon. He wasted no time. “I declare that Mr. Mallon ought to be allowed to stay in Stafleet without taking the medication. Allow me to explain. Lieutenant. You were a part of the Serpentis Expedition?” “Yes, captain, that is correct.” “Describe it”. Reager’s reply nearly clipped the end of Mallon’s statement. Mallon, for his part, was ready. “Beta Serpentis was a medicinal research colony under the flag of Starfleet. Though the colony was designed to be remote in its construction, over the centuries it became larger and more general, transitioning to an active hospital facility as Federation civilians began to move there.” “And what happened there?” Here Mallon hesitated slightly, but spoke clearly. “Five years ago- in fact, on this very day- an act of terrorism partially destroyed the Beta Serpentis Medical Complex.” “Cost?” Reager’s business-like tone and apparent callousness stirred ire in the crowd behind him. Admiral T’Lara’s gavel again silenced it. “One hundred and thirteen dead, three hundred others wounded.” “Would you agree that it was a tragedy?” Mallon nodded somberly. “Yes, very much so”. “I wouldn’t.” Now the rage from behind the hearing stage swelled powerfully. The security officers flanking both sets of doors placed hands on their phasers. Admiral T’Lara stood, and gazed at the assembled masses with such insistent vigor that those that noticed advised their more irate comrades to calm themselves. “This will stop, or I will hold the next disruptor in contempt”. A muffled cough was the only response. Reager continued unabated. “Hundreds dead, yes? A sad thing to be sure. But- and this is merely my opinion on the subject- the casualties that followed were the real tragedy. Would you care to enlighten us to your experiences there?” Mallon’s eyes had gone from righteous, to startled, to utterly confused. He shook his head. Reager grinned. “Well, allow me. Beta Serpentis is a thriving world, a world with every sort of microbe and bacteria and animal. Thousands of disease samples from across the Federation and beyond were kept in cold storage and studied there, and thanks to the technology designed to maintain it, when the attack struck the hospital, the hazardous material was harmlessly destroyed. But… the illnesses on Beta Serpentis, native to that world and partly responsible for shaping it into the cruel vision of greenery it is today… change. They change quicker than most.” Reager moved toward his desk, and picked up a PADD. “In the words of the Head of Starfleet Medical at the time, ‘it is my opinion that the loss of these disease samples and equipment with which to synthesize effective antidotes to that year’s particularly egregious viral season contributed to the otherwise preventable deaths that occurred during that time- a number approaching nearly two million people.’” Reager wasn’t even bothering to hide his intensity, and Mallon continued to implore his captain for answers with his eyes. “Now… with that all said and done, answer me this, Lieutenant; In your professional opinion, why might someone keep such lethal materials so close at hand?” Mallon considered, and then responded. “To study, of course. There exist… certain occasions where maintaining a dangerous item, in order to learn from it and defeat it, is wise.” Reager allowed himself another small smile before turning toward Admiral T’Lara, who’s expression told of a dawning understanding. “I rest my case, your honor.”
  5. He hadn’t been back to his childhood home in six years, Pholin realized as he was walking through the blossoming fields of Denobula. It had been the day before he left for the academy, when he met his parents to say goodbye. He remembered the looks on their faces when he told them he’d be leaving for good. So much had changed since then… “I should never have left…”, he grumbled to himself, watching the gravel move underneath him. The planet’s three suns had just appeared from behind the clouds, casting their dawn shadows on the path to the residence. The relationship with his parents had always been shaky, but that day had been particularly bleak. Even though he’d been planning it for months, he’d barely told his parents he was about to leave. They’d always wanted him to continue the family tradition, never leaving the planet as they’d done for over ninety years. When he broke that tradition, as a young and naïve scientist, he’d scarred their relationship for life. On that day, he’d managed to disappoint them once more. Pholin had grown tired of life on Denobula and wanted to explore the galaxy like he did when he was younger. “And look how that turned out…”, he exclaimed into the emptiness around him. He’d missed the birth of his first grandson, he wasn’t there when his wife’s health declined, and he was thousands of light-years away from Federation space when he lost his mother and brother. Pholin felt like he’d turned into the person he hated most growing up, a person who was never there for his family, valuing his career more than his family. His father had been the captain of a submarine for over fifty years, exploring the vast depths of the Denobulan seas. His mother was the biologist on board, and his brother would later study to become its helmsman. It was anything but a part-time job. Pholin’s father especially would be away for months on end – leaving his children alone with his wives. He’d always hated his father for that. “Yet I ended up exactly like him…”, barked the Denobulan. Even though he’d never been close to his parents, Pholin shut down when he learnt there had been an accident on the submarine. His father, the captain, was the only one to escape the sinking ship alive. He lost his mother and his only brother. He’d just been promoted for the first time and started to dive into his work to deal with the pain. His career skyrocketed, while he barely sought therapy. He’d only opened up to a couple of friends but hadn’t shed any tears. He was always tired, always grumpy. He spent more and more time alone – working in his science lab. It wasn’t until the Columbia was decommissioned, that he seriously started to question his future. He more or less forced himself to go to therapy and moved back to his home planet to serve as Research Coordinator at the Miratha Research Centre. It was mostly a desk job, but it gave him some peace and quiet. “Ah, there you are…”, he mumbled with a sense of nostalgia. He looked up to see his parents’ home show up over the horizon, at the end of the lengthy trail. Enjoying the sight of the place he’d once called home, he couldn’t help turning his frown upside down. It wasn’t much more than a small cottage, with white walls and a thatched roof. The Denobulan approached the house, which seemed particularly messy for an abandoned home. Usually, his mother would tidy up the house before going on a mission – they had left the house last June before the accident, if he recalled correctly. He walked up the steps of the porch, seeing they hadn’t even bothered to clean up the dishes. A half-empty glass of Andorr-Loatac Ale was still on the wooden table. “Well, I didn’t come here to clean up after them…”, he said with a smirk on his face. Continuing his journey back to his childhood memories, he entered the abandoned house. He turned on the lights in the hallway and took off his shoes. Just because he hadn’t been back here in half a decade didn’t mean he could forget his manners, he thought. To his left was a gold-rimmed mirror, showing Pholin’s considerably… fuller body. It had grown into a small problem recently, having to replace his entire wardrobe for a larger size. Below the mirror stood a tiny hallway cabinet, which prominently featured one of his favourite childhood pictures. It showed him and his mum, on top of a nearby hill which had taken them three hours to climb. Pholin had been eleven years old for just over a week when his father took that, and he’d loved that picture ever since. It was just him and his mother hugging, their love so clear, nothing in their way. He missed her. A single tear managed to escape the Denobulan’s emotional defence systems. He knew continuing to explore his home would only trigger more memories, but there was something inside him with a raging need for nostalgia. He wasn’t quite sure why. Pholin opened the door to the living room. “…”, there were so many words he wanted to say, but not a single one escaped his mouth. “Pho! I’ve been waiting for you all day!”, she said, getting up and walking into the kitchen. “Would you like something to drink? The tea’s hot already!” He was left speechless, seeing his mum standing right in front of him with the classic Denobulan smile on her face. He blinked, but she was still there. “Oh, come on! Don’t be so shy, now.” The woman approached him, seeing his worry, and went in for a hug. Pholin stood there, frozen, unsure how to process what was going on. She smelled like his mum, she talked like his mum, and she hugged like his mum – although it had been a few decades since they’d last hugged. But… this couldn’t really be her, right? “You look so pale! Why don’t you sit down, sweetie?” She accompanied him to the sofa, where Pholin sat down with his head in his hands. Thousands of possibilities were zooming through his mind. She could be an alien; this could be a trap he walked into. She could have survived, without anyone knowing. She could be a hologram, set up to scare him. She could- “Have some tea, Pholin. I’m so happy to see you again!”, the woman said, chuckling. She sat down in her chair, which nobody was ever allowed to sit in when he was a little kid, and enjoyed her own cup of tea. Pholin was still not quite sure where to begin, but he picked up the cup of tea from the table and took a sip. It was real tea, burning his tongue a little. He looked around the room, seeing some of his favourite childhood toys around him. His teddy bear was still leaning onto the potted plant, where he would always put it when he went to school so it could enjoy the view while he was gone. The painting he’d made in first grade was still hanging on the wall, even though it was excruciatingly hard to look at. It was supposed to represent his family, but they were nothing more than stick figures. He’d always wondered why they’d kept it up there. He looked back to his mother, looking deeply into her eyes, his own eyes tearing up. “Wha-, why, how-”, he tried to speak. “Oh, my darling, you’re a scientist! You must know you’re dreaming, right?”, asked his mother in a worried tone. He did not. Even though he’d been processing their loss for over a year, he’d never actually dreamt of them- except when he’d gone into hibernation in the middle of a mission, when he had experienced the accident on the submarine himself. He hadn’t ever spoken to his mother in a dream. “So, you’re actually… dead?”, he said now having no control anymore over the tears flowing out of his eyes. She nodded, with an understanding face, before getting up to comfort her son. She sat down on the sofa next to him and put her arm around him. Pholin felt like a child once more, crying in his mother’s arms. He let it all out. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there, mum. I should’ve been there!”, he said with a raised tone. “Don’t you dare speak like that, Pholin!”, she looked into his eyes. “It’s not your fault. There was nothing you could’ve done, Pholin.” Of course, she was right, rationally. Even if Pholin had stayed to work on Denobula, he would’ve never set foot on that submarine. He’d always been afraid of the ocean, he never even dared swimming in it, let alone study the bottom of the sea in it. He could’ve never stopped the accident from happening. But his cries were not rational. “But… I abandoned you!” cried the Denobulan turned baby. His mother sighed, “Darling, you only did what your father and I never dared to do. You chased your dreams!”. She chuckled. “Do you really think I liked exploring the exact same chuck of sea for years on end?” “Why’d you do it then? You must’ve spent decades down there!”, Pholin said. “Because I never wanted things to change. I never dared to dream. Son, the step you took to enrol in Starfleet took courage, courage I never had. You should be proud of that.” Even though he knew his mother was nothing more than the figment of his imagination, it felt like a massive relief to hear her say that. He had experienced guilt like never before, and there she was, saying it was alright. “But-”, he managed to get out before being interrupted. “I wasn’t done yet, sweetie.”, she eyed him. “What you’re doing right now, isn’t helping you at all. You shouldn’t be doing this to yourself anymore.” He rubbed his nose, sniffling. Pholin didn’t agree with her – himself? – at all. He had gone home to relax, to take some time off while dealing with his loss. He wanted peace and quiet. His job was inside his comfort zone, something he knew how to deal with on a daily basis. The base’s commander wouldn’t suddenly be kidnapped, and they wouldn’t be led into some trap by space kittens. There were no mysteries, only endless tranquility. He was just filing regular reports about geological findings other people were doing for him, with two feet on his desk in his office while doing it. “Your job is exactly the same as before you left! The one you fled from! The only thing that’s changed is your uniform while doing it.”, his mum continued. “But I was stressed out, mum! I literally passed out in the middle of a mission because I couldn’t sleep at night!”, he responded. “Now don’t get me wrong, darling, you definitely needed some time off. But it’s been seven months…” Pholin hadn’t realised it had been that long… He’d been posted to the Research Centre for a third of his total time in Starfleet, yet it felt like nothing interesting had happened at all. The only exciting thing that had happened was his husband’s promotion, to Petty Officer First Grade, on his birthday. In just one year, he had climbed his way up to be the First Officer of his maiden ship, and in six months, all he had done was sit behind his desk all day. Maybe, just maybe, she was right. “Tell me, Pholin. What did you like more? Being promoted to Executive Officer on the Columbia, thousands of light-years away from Federation space? Or literally watching paint dry on your office walls?”, she asked rhetorically, trying to soothe him with a smile on her face. Pholin chuckled and wiped his tears away. He couldn’t believe he was just having an argument with himself – and was losing it too. “A part of dealing with loss, Pho, is moving on. I think it’s time for you to move on.”
  6. OOC- Maybe not my best work but I wrote this a week or two ago and felt it was time to post it without much looking over, mostly before I forgot, lol. Enjoy. Sheila Bailey had come back to a place of rest after a stressful day treating patients. It hadn’t been her worst day ever but not her best either. She was running on empty by the end of it, her muscles aching. The best cure would have been to rest in the optional low gravity her living quarters provided, however she didn’t seem to have the energy once flopped onto the couch. Instead she had ended up scrolling through the files on her personal data PADD. The scrolling was lazy, without meaning until a small piece of information from her medical file came into view. Sheila had kept copies of her medical file for personal reasons but hardly ever looked at them. This time however it brought her back. The memory as a whole was fragmented. The tropical palms, pink flowers on Elaysia wet with rain. The outside temperature was warm despite the rain. It was a time of year when most of the general population stayed inside due to the heavy rains and humid temperature. However her two sisters had run out of the house. Sheila didn’t remember much else of the event. Maybe that was a good thing. However she remembered the smashed plates and bowls in the family home, done by her uncle. Her sisters had run off in order to get away. In the end so had she. Being out in the rain was not an enjoyable experience. On Elaysia she had been able to run. Each step carrying her several feet. It was freeing yet her vision was and subsequently her memory clouded in red and grey. After running off the only thing she remembered was sitting in the back of some vehicle, a harsh itchy wool blanket wrapped around her. The older woman shook her head, clearing it of the memory. She had broken free of her Uncle’s grasp. No use dwelling in the past. Or was there? Bailey spoke, or at least she thought it was her own voice, into the empty room to no one but herself. “I forgive you.” The statement held no emotion, not at first anyway. After a few minutes she realized it was her voice but it sounded older, wiser. Beep. A chime alerts her to her PADD. A voice recording, however it’s dated from several years in the future. She wasn’t sure how such things could be possible but shrugged it off pressing play anyway. A voice starts speaking. It’s a middle toned voice, with what sounds like years of life as well as wisdom coming from it’s user. “Hello Bird. It might seem strange that this recording is from the future but I’m glad you are listening to it. Yes you, the same you speaking is the same one listening, just from different points in time but hear me out. I know how much you’ve struggled with your past. How much you will continue to struggle. Yes you. I will forgive him one day. Forgive yourself. Forgive myself. Don’t ever give up. Never. It’s as simple as that really. The greatest lesson I ever learned was that he didn’t define me. That I could think for myself. You Bird are smart, kind, a healer, friend, and family to many. The best advice I was ever given was actually given to me by me. No woman should suffer at the hands of men. Ta-er al-Safar Bird.” With that the recording ended leaving Bailey to sit in silence.
  7. The small computer screen snapped into focus, a familiar sight in the background. Her Zhavey’s office, and taking up the foreground, Ejherenna zh’Qynallahr, her Zhavey. Piravao sighed and sank back in her seat, antennae flicking away to focus on some other part of the small shuttle. “What do you want, Ejherenna?” Her tone was dismissive, uninterested and mildly irritated. “Is a Zhavey not allowed to call her child from time to time?” Ejherenna’s antennae flicked in a way which indicated her feelings had been hurt by Piravao’s dismissiveness. “Last time we spoke you tried to convince me that I needed to come home and form my bond with those three you picked for me.” Piravao’s antennae flicked forward, posturing aggressively toward her Zhavey. She knew the names of the three selected for her, she had spoken with them numerous times in letters and the occasional subspace call, yet her Zhavey need not know that. Ejherenna’s antennae flicked to a defensive posture “Yes, but it’s for--” “I don’t want to bond with them,” Piravao cut her off ”and I’m confident they don’t want to bond with me either.” That was something she had learned in their letters. Like her, they all came from old families, and like her, they had been told that they would bond with people they had never met. They were all nice people, and Piravao considered the three of them her friends, yet there was no love between any of them. She had experienced love, Ezitesh zh’Reiji, the zhen she had shared a wild winter with on the shores of Emarnl Lake. Her hand strayed up to her shoulder, stroking the fabric above the tattoo she shared with the zhen. Ejherenna noticed the movement, her antennae curled in disdain “You still hold feelings for that nomad? You would rather court that barbarian than those whose bloodline is as noble as yours?” Piravao’s antennae lashed about in anger at the comment. “There is nothing ignoble about clan Reiji, they honour the ancient ways of our people. You could learn a trick or two from them.” Ejherenna’s expression hardened, her antennae moving together and angling toward Piravao. Then she sat back, her antennae relaxing as she did so. “I...apologize, that was rude of me.” Piravao relaxed her antennae too “It was” “I’m trying to meet you halfway here my Shei, but you have to give me something to work with.” Ejherenna’s expression was one of sadness, her antennae drooping over her forehead. “I don’t want a repeat of the day you left.” “I regret my actions that day, but I do not regret the outcome.” Piravao’s eyes met her Zhavey’s, her antennae flicked forward as her Zhavey’s flicked up, they wobbled back and forth, measuring each other up. “You broke Jhozahosh’s nose, Zartholh, Ashryvoss and I were quite upset when you left.” Ejherenna’s antennae sank down again, her expression mournful. “Jhozahosh has survived worse, and I’m sure Charan and Thavan got over themselves soon enough” Piravao saw her Zhavey flinch slightly at her choice of words, calling her Shreva by her name, while referring to her Charan and Thavan as her parents. It was deliberate, yet also unconscious. Her Shreva and Zhavey had been absent for much of her childhood, and as such she had formed a much closer bond to her Charan and Thavan. “She wanted to come after you. Ashryvoss spent almost three hours talking her down. I had to call the families of your bondmates and explain why--” “They are not my bondmates!” Piravao yelled, her antennae flicking up aggressively “When will you get it into your head that I will not bond with them.” “I had to talk them down!” Ejherenna yelled back “They wanted to go after you too! Were it not for me you would have been dragged back to the keep kicking and screaming!” “Oh, well thanks for letting me live my own life Ejherenna!” Piravao’s antennae lashed back in anger, almost burying themselves in her hair. “Did it perhaps occur to you that I might want to form my own bondgroup? Perhaps with people I love rather than people who were chosen for me?” “That is not our way. There are traditions that must be followed.” Ejherenna’s tone was much calmer, however her antennae were angled forward, a sign that she was ready to fight her position. “Traditions which are hundreds of years old! Traditions, which predate our people discovering warp travel. Traditions, which in times gone by would have involved blood sacrifices of Shens and children to try and prevent the snowmelt from drowning towns!” Piravao’s face was flushed a dark blue, verging on purple. Her antennae had almost vanished into her hair at this point. “Don’t compare the Spring Water Festival to your Time of Knowing Ceremony.” Ejherenna’s antennae flicked as though she found this comparison amusing. “They are nothing alike.” “Not any more, the Spring Water Festival has evolved. We’ve grown wiser and realized that blood sacrifices change nothing. Yet we still cling to thousand year old traditions when it comes to bonding.” Her antennae relaxed slightly, her face returning to its more natural shade. “And why? Because we are ‘the old blood’. So what? There is no real advantage to that in this age. All we are doing is clinging weakly to the glory of our ancestors and telling the rest of Andoria that we are stuck in the past. The rest of Andoria woke up when we helped to found the Federation, they discarded outdated notions and advanced. They started bonding for love, not power. So why should I bond with people whom I do not know simply to increase your standing in parliament. Your career is yours, what I do has no bearing on that. If I wish to bond for love then I shall, and if you have a problem with than then you--” Piravao paused for a moment, her Zhavey’s antennae were focused on her, yet her eyes had drifted off to the left, and Piravao could hear the faint taps and beeps of a PADD “Are you working while I’m talking to you?” Ejherenna’s eyes snapped back to Piravao “Oh, um, no. I wasn’t working, just, ah, checking a message from the council.” Anger flashed through Piravao’s eyes. “Don’t lie to me Ejherenna! If you cannot honour me with your full attention then there is no point in us continuing this debate. Goodbye!” Piravao slammed her finger down on the console before her, ending the call in a flash of anger.
  8. The Dome on the hostile planet was lit up with the bright light from the nearest sun, rays breaking through the glass in infinite shades of yellow and red. Parker sat outside one of the many bars they had around here, or what the locals referred to as sprinklers. At least they had a sturdy seating situation here. It would not be the first piece of furniture his enhanced muscles crushed under their weight. Just one more cup of coffee, and he will have the pleasure to finally get away from this dump. Granted it was a good looking one, but he did not shy away from looking behind all that sparkle and greatness around the place. “Yo.” He knew what was happening even before he turned around. “Harlow, what a pleasure.” It was not, and Parker got his point across by flipping the young and slimy man off. What a paper pusher he was, standing above him with his nice suit and that fancy Borsalino on his head. His face was way too smug and clean for Parkers taste, he almost had to gag. “I wanted to ask you something.” His gesture was ignored, and he waited for the man to finally reach the point of his visit. “I need to know how you got your hands on that automated puppy. Price and everything. The Burgomaster loved it, and I’m sure his daughter wants one for herself soon.” He anticipated that someone would ask and produced a data stick from his pocket. Without resistance or a word from himself, the tiny thing exchanged hands. “Thanks, Parker.” He waved the man away from him, leaving the scene not shortly after. The coffee was still steaming, but his appetite was ruined. Time to get away. His shuttle was waiting for him, and the transition ship will be entering the system soon. Korala was the name of the warp capable ship, and he hated that place too. At least no one bothered him in his shuttle as he waited for the massive warpdrive of the ship to spin up. No one, except his best friend of course. The little pet dragon crawled over the instruments of the pilot compartment and jumped on Parkers arm. Watching him patiently with googly eyes. Typical. He knew that his defense would not last long and before he knew it, he was petting the cursed reptile. A rumble went through the ship and they signaled the passengers that a jump will commence soon. Little Paolo managed to fall asleep on his arm in a new record time and he had to bend over to activate one of the many polished screens around him. The signal was hooked into the net of the planet and with that he had access to the local news. They focused on a recent explosion in the local refinery that spanned half the planet. Their lifeblood had an accident, something blew the grav-engine to pieces right as the Burgomaster was visiting the top engineers. Parker lit a cigar and listened to the extra fans around him kick into action. What a marvelous investment. Back at the display, they feared that the incident will plunge the planet into economic disaster. No one out here wants to get bought by some big corporation. It was only natural to fear change, but without that refinery spitting out profits there will be no choice. They feared some sort of tampering, maybe even a conspiracy. He could not keep that ugly grin off his face. Whoever was responsible for that chaos is going to get a lot of credits for it. The ship leapt into warp speed and he shed his name away from him and the logs like a snake. Parker ceased to exist in that moment and all that made him up dissolved into nothing. The man will be called Ridor from now on. And he did not even get to see if the people back at Parkers last known location managed to find the mini nuke in the puppy he brought to the planet only a few days ago. Only the death toll. And that was something he was not even the slightest bit interested in.
  9. As the white light consumed the screen, Chythar instinctively raised a hand to protect his eyes until the light faded. When it did, there was nothing -- he was no longer the bridge of his ship, there was nothing on the viewscreen in front of him. It looked like a big, blank space for a moment before it shifted to Skyfire Beach. Near the waterline, the only occupant of the shore was a redhead in a red Starfleet uniform. It wasn’t until she turned around to face him that Chythar made the connection in that he’d seen this woman before -- captain’s pips, red hair, eyes of a similar color to his own. His mother, Captain Kyrethia Angelica Skyfire. He was only a small boy when she died, and his pulse skyrocketed when he considered he might also be dead. As the question “am I dead?” burned around in his mind, he swallowed roughly and closed the distance between himself and the captain, his muscles tensing a bit as he did so. As he stepped forward, she smiled softly at him. “CD. You wear the teal uniform well. Starfleet life isn’t too rough on you, I hope?” “Mom. I...Am I dead?” She moved close to her son and pulled him into a warm embrace, the sort of familial contact he had missed out on for his entire adult life. Everything else vanished away, and there was nothing else that occupied his mind. Even though this was only a holodeck program, he was willing to accept the fact that he might, in fact, be dead if it meant that he could hold a conversation with his mother for the first time in over twenty years. “What have you been up to? Last time I saw you, you were up to your ears in linguistics and learning Russian with your uncle.” Chythar attempted to come up with an answer. He wanted to answer with confidence and conviction, but his words came out in a jumble of a summary. “Overall? Let me nutshell it. I’ve experimented in the realm of love, had my heart broken and mended, provided myself as a role model to a few medical officers and a little girl I’ve become a godfather to and will probably never see again, become CMO of a few vessels, became a lieutenant commander, well decorated officer, and finally a barista for Uncle Chris. Now I’m slinging coffee aboard a starship because my clearances have been suspended.” Ky smiled softly and took his hand, walking with him along the shore line near the water. She loved the beach, and even though she was probably only a figment of his imagination at this point, he fell in step beside her. “Love is a tricky realm. It’s never the sort of thing that comes easily. Even with your father.” “Dad’s dead, Mom. He took the supernova rather hard, and I was basically raised by Uncle Chris after your funeral.” She seemed unsurprised, and nodded sagely. She seemed, to his eye, almost jaded by the news. As though she knew Calvin was already dead. “So these officers and the little girl you inspired are colleagues of yours, then? Friends you’ve made in Starfleet?” CD nodded slightly. “The little girl is currently on Earth with her father, but she did a marvelous science project on pain medication absorption by different species based on reading my SFMJ back-issues.. She wants to become a medical officer when she grows up. Some of these colleagues have read my work that was published in the SFMJ, and have served with me for a number of years now.” Ky smiled again, and the warm, motherly pride in her son was evident in her eyes. She stopped and gave him another hug, pride and love washing off of her like tidal waves of a tsunami. As the emotional overload hit him, he tensed completely under her grip and did his best not to flinch. However, due to motherly instinct, she noticed and let go almost immediately. “You didn’t flinch the first time I hugged you...you’ve changed….” This was a conversation he hadn’t ever envisioned having with his family, especially because he had no real family to speak of. He felt isolated from the Moonsongs due to his connection with Raissa being so tenuous and his biological family being dead, so he nodded slowly and took a breath. “I’ve had my DNA scrambled, Mom. I’m a T2/E6 now, and I’m still getting used to the empathic overload. Series of freakish accidents.” The smile quickly disappeared, replaced by one of concern. Having one’s DNA toyed with was never a fun experience, but to have it stated so bluntly was an unusual experience for the captain. “Indeed? Well. We have no reader ancestry, so this is...very different.” CD just nodded. “Yeah. I’ve been getting training in how to deal with it.” She nodded and ran a hand along his bearded face. “That’s good. So...you mentioned your love life is not anything special?” “Not really, no. Nobody special right now. I have a dog, though. Given to me by a pair of colleagues because I’m a high stress depressive. Devlin’s an adorable beagle.” She glanced over his shoulder to see the five year old beagle running toward them. “You always were good with dogs. And yes, he is quite adorable. That’d be him, I trust?” CD turned and patted his leg. “Come here, boy.” Devlin ran up and gave a yip of greeting as he approached. The captain knelt down and extended her hand to him, which was sniffed for a moment before being given a friendly lick. The moment was picture-perfect. Mom, Chythar, and his dog. A moment of serenity before a sudden burst of gale force wind came in and disrupted everything. The world went black, and Kyrethia and Devlin faded from view, ~~~ Chythar woke suddenly, the sudden wind from his dream sending a chill through his body. The abrupt motion disturbed the dozing beagle beside him, who noted his master’s distress and gave a whimper, nuzzling up against the doctor’s chest and licking his face reassuringly. “It was just a dream, boy… just a dream…” END ==== Chythar Skyfire, MD Brew Continuum Barista USS Veritas NCC-95035 O239002CS0
  10. The view screen snapped into focus on an impossible sight, and a voice from my past spoke in a way that I knew could only be for me. My vision was blurry even with my ocular implant, gripping the console with the view screen I did my best to focus on the voice. “David! I need you to focus! Sta……. “The voice faded away I couldn’t stop my head from swaying with disorientation. Trix? Where am i? What happened? I tried to stand from the console, but a set of straps held me down. Why am I strapped in? The memory was fuzzy, but I had the vague recollection that came back slowly. I was on a mission for Star Fleet Intelligence, Merch…..Merchant was defecting. That’s right, my source a merchant on a Valcarian planet wanted to defect and wouldn’t deal with anyone else but me. Which explained the shuttle, I must have been going to collect him. Wait what happened to Merchan……ohhhh. I remember now, the rendezvous with Merchant did not go as planned. It had been a set up and I was greeted by Valcarian soldiers with kill or capture orders. Thankfully they had more of a mind to capture than kill, otherwise I might not have made it out. My escape was concluded when I jumped back in my shuttle and took off as fast as I could. The cloak! I must make sure the cloak is up or a Valcarian patrol craft can intercept me! Undoing the straps, I grimaced as one of the straps brushed the side of my head and I felt a twinge of pain. That shouldn’t have hurt so much, touching the side of my head again I felt the moist feeling of blood and looked at my fingers. The sight of the bright red blood on my own fingers was not exactly comforting, especially considering how easily the tips of my fingers had become completely covered. Walking over to the piloting console clumsily I checked and breathed a sigh of relief. I had apparently had the good sense to engage the shuttles cloak. Slumping down into the pilots chair I took another breathe and realized it was becoming harder to breathe. Something wasn’t right. Looking over to the command console I found the reason why, the life support was damaged. Levels put it as still functional but less than optimal. Enough to live but not enough to keep a clear head. “David!” The voice made me stand from the pilot’s seat reflexively and my head swam. I took a step to try and regain my sense of balance and fell to the floor. I knew that voice…..that was Trixx. There was not a chance that the female Rodulan could be on or in contact with the shuttle. The last I had heard she was commanding a small Science vessel somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant. I was set to be reassigned to that region so I could be closer to her, but first I had to close out things here in the Expanse. Which meant dealing with the Merchant. “David!” looking over to the console I had been strapped in at before I saw her face with the trademark black eyes indicative of Rodulans. “I need you to focus! Take a deep breath and slow everything down, just like I told you what do you need to know? What do you need to do?” Right, what do I need to know? It would probably be good to figure out where I am, looking around the shuttle the obvious answer was apparent. I’m on the shuttle, but where is the shuttle? Doing my best to get back into the pilot’s chair with my head giving the least amount of protest I looked over the readouts. Cloak….life support (still damaged)…..engines….navigation! That’s what I want to see, now where am I? Pressing few commands, a fair bit more difficulty than I would prefer I finally got a three-dimensional display to appear in front of me. Looking at the display my vision blurred again, the floating icons becoming a jumble of colors. Closing my eyes for a minute I sat in the pilot’s chair until I felt a little bit better and opened my eyes again. At least I’m out of orbit, still a good way from where I need to be though. I set the ships navigational computer take me back to federation space as fast as it could while staying under cloak at warp 3.5. I tried to do the mental math to see how long it was until I got back, the thoughts just wouldn’t come together. Computer, how long until arrival at destination? A moment of silence passed, and I feared the computer was damaged until came back breaking the silence. “Seventeen hours and twelve minutes” Computer, set auto pilot and engage. The computer chirped an affirmative and the navigational display disappeared replaced by the viewscreen with the disorienting sight of passing stars. Looking away I thought to myself. That’s what I needed to know, now what do I need to do? Maybe do something about this bump on my head. Computer, activate EMH. “No such program exists on this shuttle” That is right, this is purpose built SFI shuttle. EMH probably wasn’t high on the list when it was built. Looks like I will just have to suffer through until I reach some where a bit more friendly. Closing my eyes again to try and regain my focus so I could see clearly but just as soon as I tried to reopen them, I found I was drifting comfortably to sleep. “Captain on the bridge!” The words startled me, and I reflexively called carry on. Looking around I saw I was lying on top of a towel on the beach on Risa in a pair of board shorts and a PADD on my chest. I must have dosed off while reading. “Good Morning Captain” said a voice that clearly was putting more emphasis on the captain part of things. You know you seem more excited about that than me I said in reply. “Well its not very often that I get to call you that, ever since I was posted at DS9 I’ve had to make do with subspace messages and Holo exchanges. “ It does have a nice ring to it I said with a bit of enthusiasm, my career in Starfleet had been a different one. Starting out in intelligence with a stint as a Tactical officer and then back to Intelligence. It had even taken me a year longer than normal to reach the rank, a fact I was reminded of every time I saw myself in a reflection. My hair still had most of its color, but I could tell my hairline was beginning to recede just a little. My companion on the beach however had aged beautifully, she had all the charm of her younger years when I first met her and had gained at most one gray hair. Which I liked to bring up jokingly from time to time. Aren’t up for promotion soon? “I am, its bittersweet thing though” How so? “It comes with an assignment to the Gamma Quadrant, which means I’ll be farther away. Which means that outings like this is less likely to happen when there is a worm hole between us. “ I smiled at the thought, not because I didn’t want to see my favorite helmsman again. Because I had a surprise, I pulled a few strings and got my own assignment to the Gamma Quadrant. It wasn’t on the same ship, but it would be a lot closer than current circumstances. And besides Star Fleet Intelligence wasn’t just sending me out of the kindness of their hearts, it seemed they had a new listening post they wanted me to get off the ground. You know I have been meaning to talk to you about that. Do you remember Jaynes friend Yartane? I made a few subspace calls and he was able get me on an assignment in the Gamma Quadrant on Cearious IV. Trixx laid down next to me on the towel and looked at me with slightly concerned. “I don’t want you to do this for me if it hurts your career. “ Don’t worry, SFI doesn’t promote ship captains. They promote what they like to call organizers, this will be a step up from running the intel lab on DS26. My companion smiled at me and moved the PADD off my chest so she could get closer. “I’m happy to hear that, how long until join me on the other side of the worn hole?“ She gave me a sly look that hinted at something we both enjoyed, and I couldn’t help but smile back. Couple weeks, tops. The dream subsided and I awoke in a brightly lit room with row of tables on the far wall, I was in the center seated in a chair. My arms and legs were held in place by force fields I could not see, an attendant was doing something with a set of tools I could not see. Looking at the rest of the room in closer detail I could see it was built in a cube shape with a doorway of some kind to my right. The wall to my left was bear and plain colored in the same pattern as the rest of the room. The attendant had not noticed me yet and I was hardly inclined to draw any unwanted attention to myself until I figured out where exactly I was. Testing each limb, I confirmed that I was trapped in the chair. None of my limbs budged so my options were extremely limited, however my vision was not as hard to focus, and I could breathe easily. Wherever I was at least It had working life support. The doors slid open and a Valcarain walked in the room. An evil smile played out across his face and I did not like the look he gave me, a few of the hairs on the back of my neck started to tingle. “Mr. White Knight himself! I was worried those lackies would botch the trap I had so masterfully set, but lucky for them they managed to damage your shuttle before you tried to escape. I would have killed them if they had failed. I’m told you had a nasty head wound at the time so i understand why you didn’t notice the damage from your failed attempt at running caused a flood of tachyons that was easy to spot. But I do hope you’ll forgive me If use real names since we know each other. It has been a long time though hasn’t it, ten years at least? I do hope you’ve not forgotten me.” Sover, the Valcarian assassin I saved from a certain execution by the Caraadains. I had heard you escaped from that penal colony, though I am curious how you convinced your countrymen not to execute you. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten that, I wouldn’t be here today without you. But I do hope you understand….i will not be returning the favor. “
  11. Serala sat in the First Officer’s chair staring at the viewscreen. The Captain was off somewhere and she had been left in charge today. The shift was turning out to be fairly routine, and to her mind, boring. She found herself hoping for a little excitement today, but she really should have heeded that old adage: “Be careful what you wish for.” Several weeks ago, Serala had experienced what she was still calling Hell Week. An ironic nickname considering that Serala had no religious beliefs of her own, outside of a regard for The Elements. The only good thing to come out of that week had been the birth of her beautiful daughter, T’Saara. But other than that one wonderful event, she had experienced crashing into a frozen wilderness and being stranded with government sanctioned assassins hunting her and the other survivors; the rather brutal death of her husband which she had felt through their shared telepathic bond; and the rather unexpected return of her deceased father from the grave after nearly thirty years. Two weeks later, the Captain promoted her to First Officer. Life was just starting to settle down, and here she was wishing for more excitement. Suddenly, the viewscreen began to shimmer and the stars faded out to be replaced by the image of her husband’s face. He looked straight at her and began to speak. “Serala. What are you doing, e’lev? Why have you not taken me to Vulcan?” Not sure that what she was seeing was real, and confused by the question since she had sent his body home, she hesitated briefly before answering. “But how are you here? And what do you mean? I sent you home?” “But, e’lev, I do not live in my body. I am in you. My katra is in you. You must take me back to Vulcan. To Mount Seleya.” “Stevok Deyhhan? What do you mean? How can your katra be with me? We were nowhere near each other when you died.” “My wife, we were bonded. We did not need to be together.” Of course! How could she have not realized that. Stevok had told her about katra and that they were usually transferred to someone if they could not get home. There, the katra was taken to their holy mountain, Mount Seleya, where the priestesses would store it. How that was all done was a mystery to Serala. She had always believed that physical contact was necessary for the katra to transfer to another, but the nature of their bond would have changed that. On their very first meeting, Stevok was in the early stages of his pon farr and had instinctively chosen her as his mate. Somewhere along the way, they had bonded telepathically. It was not uncommon for Vulcans to bond with their mates, but it was usually done in a ritual ceremony as so many things with Vulcans are. But occasionally, it could occur as an instinctive action on the part of one Vulcan partner or the other. Such had been the case with Stevok and her. Ever since that day, they had never been apart even when separated physically. “But I felt you die! I felt the bond sever. How is that possible if you were still with me? He smiled that knowing smile of his that often irritated her. Like he was sharing some private joke at her expense. “Yes, Serala. The bond was severed. My body was dead. But my katra needed a place to go, so I clung to that bond and was flung into you when the strand was severed. And I have been here since. I am just now recovering enough to be able to reach you again.” “Then I must take you home at once!” Stevok seemed to consider it for a moment before responding. “I have reconsidered this, ailhun. I can remain this way for years and I sense that you still need me. But when the time comes, I need you to promise me you will take me home.” “I promise, Stevok. On my Honor!” Anyone who knew Serala knew how much that honor meant to her. “But, how will I know when it is time.” “Another will come to take my place in your heart. You must let him. And when he does, then it will be time.” That was never going to happen. She was sure of that. But Stevok had said it with such certainty that she wondered. When she next spoke it was whispered, barely audible. She was making a solemn vow to the love of her life. “Jol-ao au deyhhan. There will never be another to take your place.” “E’lev, there must. You must continue to live, and love is a part of life. It is not logical for you to remain so. Grieve for me as you must, but do not refuse to live your life because of a memory. For that is all I can ever be for you now.” Serala doubted such a thing would ever happen. She had loved before, but none ever held her heart like he had and none ever would. Sensing her thoughts, he laughed that most wonderful laugh of his. “Of course, e’lev, none will ever hold your heart in the same way. For each, love will be different. But it does not mean it will be less. Only different.” She still doubted his words, but Stevok had always had a way of reaching that stubborn part of her that few could ever breach. So, she conceded the possibility, though she didn’t think it would be for years to come, if it ever did. “If such a time ever comes, e’lev, I swear on my Honor that I shall return you to Mount Seleya.” “Then I can ask nothing else of you, Serala. I wish that I could have remained for you and our child, but it was not meant to be so.” Tears began to creep into her eyes. More than anything, she wished he had lived to see his beautiful daughter. “I wish you had been here to see her, Stevok. She is so beautiful. And she has your eyes. I named her T’Saara after your grandmother.” “But Serala, I have just told you that I am with you. I have seen her and she is beautiful, just like her mother. And you will be a wonderful mother to her. I am so proud of you both.” She cried in earnest now, and part of her worried that the others on the bridge were witnessing this private moment. She did not want to be a spectacle for her crew. But the love she felt, and the loss, once more rose up to overwhelm her. She was so unsure of so many things. How was she going to raise a newborn and yet remain as First Officer on this ship? Yes, so many had stepped up to offer their assistance. She knew Little Bean was never going to be unloved or uncared for. But there was just so much even she could handle. And with Stevok gone…. She was feeling overwhelmed again. With love, with loss, with loneliness, with responsibility. She had friends, but Stevok had always been her confidant. The one she could turn to when she needed to talk, to work things out, or just to be vulnerable for a few minutes. “I am still here, e’lev. And I will not leave you until another has come to take that role from me. But you must let me go when that time comes. Live, Serala. Love.” The smiling face of Stevok vanished at that and Serala noticed that the others on the bridge seemed to not have realized anything had just happened. “I Swear It.”
  12. Cadet Romyana Casparian stood at the back of the bridge of the long distance federation transport vessel from where she could see the spectacular Trojan class Starbase growing bigger and more beautiful on the large view screen. The ship moved carefully closer toward the upper section of the base, preparing for the docking maneuvers. She was totally amazed by the enormity of the structure as it quickly occupied the entire view screen and continued to dwarf the entire ship. Then the view screen snapped into focus on an impossible sight - a blue planet she immediately recognized as Earth - the Starbase was nowhere near Earth! How could this be? A voice from her past spoke to her, and when she turned to look, she saw her good friend Cadet Nommi Jarr suddenly standing next to her. He sure wasn’t there before, he couldn't be, he was back on Earth. Then Romyana remembered how only a little while ago they stood, exactly like this, side by side watching the view screen on their voyage towards Earth. “We will beam down to the Academy directly from the parking orbit?” Nommi asked. “Yes. To San Francisco, the city. And finally we will take the monorail to cross the campus grounds.” Romyana whispered to not disturb the bridge crew. “Oh, I hope we don’t make any mistakes and get lost.” the Cadet worried. “Don’t worry, I’ve done it before. I’ve lived in this city for 2 years. We won’t get lost.” Romyana reassured him. For him it was the first time, though Romyana was returning from her cadet cruise to finish her fourth year. They had met on the deep space station and during those months became inseparable companions - two young and naive students whose mission seemed to be to give their mentoring superiors headaches, while enjoying a carefree life. She'd been ecstatic when he got the news that he was accepted to the Academy. *** “Well, this is it, the first year student dormitories. My room is in the thin high building way over there. The petty officer will fill you in on the rest.” Romyana said to Nommi when they had arrived at the entrance of building FD3 on the Starfleet Academy grounds. “So, where are you going now? You still have some free days left. How will you spend them?” “I haven’t thought of that yet.” “Maybe you can visit your family. They live in this city, you told me once.” “Hmm, maybe. Though, I think they are not very eager to see me.” Romyana said somberly. “And you? You must have missed them. Just go and see them... while you can.” Nommi tried to convince her and placed a hand on her shoulder to convey the importance of the last couple of words. Romyana decided to follow Nommi’s advice. He had lost his father a few years ago and he used to say that ‘you don’t realize how much you love a person until he is gone, then it will be too late’. “All right then. See you tomorrow!”. So Romyana put aside her stubbornness and went to see her mother and father. They both had positions at Starfleet Headquarters at the moment, so that is where she went first. It was right next to the Academy campus, she walked there through the park. It was a calm and sunny December day and it had been snowing the day before, so the grass was all covered in snow. It had been a long time since she had seen snow and her nose felt cold and tingly in the freezing air. At that moment she felt very content being back on Earth. It took the Ensign a while to find the whereabouts of her father and mother. Father had a free day and was at home, in the center of San Francisco. Mother was in her office, some floors up in the Headquarters building. Romyana went to see her first, as it was nearest. When she announced herself to the secretary, she was told to wait. The Ensign took a seat in the waiting lounge, but it took more than an hour before she was called inside the office. “The Captain will receive you now.” the secretary said monotonically. Anxiously Romyana stepped inside the office and approached the desk. While doing so she noticed the stern expression on her mother’s face didn’t change. The Captain didn’t show any sign of gladness for her daughter’s return. About halfway to the desk Romyana halted and croaked a greeting. “Hi mom.” “Have you forgotten how to salute an Officer, Cadet?” her mother said sternly, with the emphasis on Cadet. The young Cadet knew her mother was never one to show much emotion due to her Vulcan upbringing, but she was also half human and had been able to show some kind of tenderness when Romyana and her brother were young children. This certainly was not quite the welcome she’d expected. She stood at attention to salute her mother, who was a Captain in rank. “So tell me, they have sent you back home because they couldn’t use any inexperienced students out there.” mother said nastily and without any kind of expression on her face. “No, Ma’am. I have returned to finish the last of the fourth year classes, Ma’am. And I thought I might as well come and see you again.” Romyana said hopefully. “You might as well. Ah, has it been a year already then?” mother replied dryly. “More.” Romyana corrected. After a short tense pause, her mother spoke. “You have seen me now. Thank you for the announcement, you are dismissed, Cadet.” She wondered what had changed for her mother to become so distant like this. Was she still angry at her for what she did over a year ago? Despite the insecurity and hurt that Romyana felt due to her mother’s cold words she kept her head high, saluted and calmly left the room. Her mother remained ever emotionless. As soon as the Ensign closed the office door, tears came to her eyes. Partly angry, partly disappointed, she marched out of the building into the park and sat down on a bench, in a quiet corner near the water. There she sat motionless for a while, staring across the water's calm surface. She wanted to scream, throw something or maybe even punch someone - instead she counted slowly to seven. It was a trick her grandmother taught her on one of the rare occasions that the Vulcan relative left the home world to come see her -mostly- human grandchildren. “Romyana?” she heard a familiar male voice say in the distance. “What a nice surprise and wonderful coincidence to see you here!” The Cadet looked back over her shoulder and to her delight she saw her father approaching. She quickly wiped away her tears on the cuff of her uniform sleeve before he’d see she was crying. A smile came back to her face and he gave her his typical cheerful grin. Also a Starfleet officer, her human father had always supported and encouraged her to achieve the best in life. He sat down next to her on the bench, blew a hot breath on his hands to warm them up and folded them in his lap. “Well.” he said curiously, “How was it out there? Did you like it?” “Oh yes! It was wonderful, just as you had always told me. I met many people and different cultures, most are very kind. And I’ve learned so much.” Romyana said, her joyfulness had returned immediately when thinking back to her cadet cruise days. “The adventure you have been waiting for for so long, hey? I am glad it was as you expected.” “It was better than I expected!” “So you are finishing your fourth year classes now. Have you prepared well?” “Yes, I am confident about them.” “You have had a lot on your mind there, I’m sure. But you must try to score highest.” her father encouraged her. “Yes, I know. I will still go for top grades.” Romyana said reluctantly and produced a thin lipped smile. “Oh I’m sure about that. I don’t expect any less.“ he said, which only increased the pressure for Romyana to do well. “Why are you out here? You don’t have to work today.” “I thought I’d come and see your mother. I was planning on taking her out to lunch, and it is so beautiful to stroll through the snow.” father explained while looking out across the lake and the snow covered campus grounds. “Oh, well. I have to warn you then, she is in a bad mood today. She still hasn’t forgiven me.” “You have paid her a visit then? In that case, a good lunch is just what she needs.” father laughed the matter away. Romyana laughed too but she was not amused. “Well, I must be going now. I don’t want to anger her too. Oh, and do come by to have a drink or something. Your brother will be pleased to see you again. Goodbye.” he said whilst getting up from the bench. Then he marched away along the yellow path in between fluffy white and sparkling snow. Romyana sneezed. She thought it’d be best if she went inside her dormitory before catching a cold. She sneezed again and stood up from the bench and strolled through the snow, making the bottoms of her trouser legs cold and wet. She sneezed for the third time and found that she was suddenly back on the bridge of the transport vessel again and there was no-one standing next to her. It has just been a very vivid memory. On the view screen the Starbase’s huge dry dock area was revealed as the docking bay doors slowly opened. It was a captivating sight, and she stood gazing wide eyed, smiling from ear to ear of excitement. *** The ship had arrived at the station and it was time to disembark. Usually Nommi would be waiting for her just outside the airlock when she’d come back from a field trip, but now that would no longer be the case. Admittedly, they could always write or call, but she'd still miss him and his ever present positive attitude. The young Cadet would have to build herself a new life with new friends now, but Romyana knew she could do it, because she’d done it during the cadet cruise and she’d do it again on the Starbase. -END-
  13. He had done this six times. "Who are you?" Captain Gunner finally voiced a question he had been keeping in his mind since a random woman had suddenly appeared on his viewscreen. The Captain was alone, he remained on the ship whilst the rest of the crew left for shore leave. "How can you not remember me Captain?" The mysterious female answered back, insinuating that they had met before and that the Captain should be fully aware of that fact. "Why would I? I've never seen you before." Captain Gunner believed this to be true, his mind couldn't find anything related to this woman. Her curly brown hair and ocean coloured eyes didn't seem familiar at all. He continued to focus on the unfamiliar face as she answered back. "Alice." That rang a bell. The Captain stood up off his chair and calmly approached the viewscreen, the high pitched noises, that were common ear fodder on the bridge, played in the background as the Captain got closer and closer to the woman in front of him. "Alice… Gunner?" It was a shot in the dark, but one he believed would hit. "Yes" she replied. Everything now made sense. The Captain was definitely not a forgetful man, he remembers everything and everyone, but someone he purposely forgot was his daughter, a baby that didn't make it. All logic flew out the window as tears trickled down the Captains face, the impossibility of this situation didn't matter to him anymore. A broken man laid face down on the floor, banging his hands against the floor of the bridge whilst crying his eyes out. "How could you let me die daddy?" He continued to cry, until he couldn't bear it anymore. Bang He had done this seven times. "Who are you?" Captain Gunner finally voiced a question he had been keeping in his mind since a random woman had suddenly appeared on his viewscreen.
  14. Jona ch’Ranni was dead bored. There was no other way to express the intensity of what he felt sitting in the pilot’s chair of the Type 2 shuttlecraft. An empty starfield was splashed across the [...]pit windows. Dabbles of starlight - so often the source of poetry for anonymous writers spread among countless worlds – taunted the normally good-natured Andorian. It wasn’t the stars at fault themselves. In fact, he hadn’t met a star he didn’t like. Except for Betelgeuse - it was a jerk. It was the tedious and menial work of waiting for a rendezvous with a supply freighter that had Jona on the wrong end of the joviality wagon. For the hundredth time, his thin cornflower-blue fingers tapped out the activation sequence on the control panel that would initiate a refresh of the sensor data. Jona sighed heavily and wondered who he had angered on the ship to pull such an assignment. No doubt the rest of his shipmates were making first contact with some genial species on a lush planet. They would regale him with the exquisite foods and picturesque scenery he had missed out on. “Well, they can just stow it.” The lanky Andorian stretched his arms above his head, working the kinks from his lower back and repositioning his frame in the seat. He ran his hands down his face, rubbing his palms into his tired eyes and tried to shake the weariness from his brain. He tapped the key sequence on the panel again – for the hundred and first time – and the gods answered his unspoken prayers. A ship. “Computer, put approaching vessel on screen.” The computer focused on a sleek Bolian freighter that exited warp, leaving a trail of luminescent super-excited particles in its wake. It bore down on the tiny shuttle like an unsuspecting insect. Jona came from a race of aliens that counted insects among their evolutionary progenitors, and so, he found the analogy a little on the nose. Nevertheless, the arrival was expected … even if a bit delayed. “Shuttlecraft K’Tang to Bolian freighter. Welcome. Lieutenant ch’Ranni, here. Ready to receive the supplies.” With any luck, Jona could be on his way back to the ship within the hour. He might even make it back in time for the springball tournament scheduled for 1800 hours the next evening. A small lopsided grin crossed his face as things suddenly didn’t seem so bad. The viewscreen activated and the face on the screen made his heart leap into his throat. The azure skin and pale, curly locks of the woman were etched in his memory. It had been years since he had last seen her. Time had been kind to her and now she was more beautiful than even his rose-colored memory allowed. The scientist with the impish smile that he had fallen head over heels for at Dehner Base was the last person he expected to see again – especially with how they had ended things. “Hello, Jona. It’s good to see you.” “Vexa.” The one word was all he could croak out before the air left his lungs with the cheap shot that reality delivered to his gut. After a few seconds Jona realized that he was not breathing and consciously inhaled again. What would it look like if he fainted at the sight of his former girlfriend? “Why are you here?” Apparently, he was now able to form complete sentences, which was a marked improvement. The Andorian girl sat back in her chair, the curls of snow white hair framing her face and bouncing in response to her movement. Her ice blue eyes seemed to search the screen, piercing straight through his shields and searing the hull of his heart. Her antennae bobbed forward as her voice took on a pleading tone. “Jojo, I need your help.” “Of course, what can I do?” The words were spoken without hesitation. Both knew that Jona would be unable to refuse whatever she asked. When they had parted ways, it was as if his heart had been shredded by a dull knife. After his reassignment far from the Sagittarius Reach, they had tried for months in a vain attempt to make things work. But they had drifted apart on the ocean of time and space. At the end, he had made a renewed attempt to solidify their relationship only to find that she had moved on. Jona’s face flushed a darker shade of blue as the pent-up feelings came crashing back on him. He truly missed her and now would do whatever she required, if only to get her back into his life in some small way. His heart swelled as he realized she had tracked him across the quadrant. It could mean only that she had realized the error of her ways. They could regain what they had lost and rekindle the spark they had shared together. “I need you to kill someone.”
  15. Prison wasn’t so bad, Tillul mused. The worst part of it were his fellow prisoners; many of whom were uncouth, angry monsters. But then, they were all in for murder. Tillul had been here about a year, a long year of slowly acclimatising to incarceration, but he’d made what they laughably called his “accommodation” his own. He’d taken to carving small anatomical models of fauna from bits of wood and stone that he’d purloined from the yard during their daily exercise, and he used a small toolkit they’d allowed him from the workshop classes. He’d attempted to be a model prisoner, gaining the guards’ trust, or at least refraining from earning their ire. He sat on his bed, reading the PADD that was a standard prison issue. It contained a variety of Betazoid literature, and he was currently engrossed in the works of Toman Chaa, a romance novelist of little consequence, but whose writings were deemed of having no qualities that might arouse a prisoner to undesirable emotions (such as rage) or mount an escape. He ran a hand through his thinning steel hair as he read, a slight frown on his face. No matter how many of these he read, they didn’t get any better. He was about to throw the book at the wall in a bout of aggressive tedium when a voice shattered the quiet. "Hello, Tillul” Tillul jumped up with a start, his ageing frame showing surprising speed as he rushed to the cell door. There was nobody there. "Over here, love of mine” Tillul’s blood ran cold, the icy fingers of fear playing his spine like a human xylophone. He swallowed once as he turned around. There, on the viewscreen normally reserved for meetings with his lawyer or the warden, was Fumiko. Her almond eyes stared at him from not just across the room, but also across the heavens. She was supposed to be dead; she should be dead. He had pushed and she had fallen, and that was the truth. So how was she here? Tillul was a man of science, he knew there were no ghosts. It was possibly a mental trick, a faulty neuron firing the wrong impulses into his brain, or maybe a new delicious form of torture developed by the race of telepaths. The voice spoke again. "What’s the matter, targ got your tongue?” Tillul shivered as the syrup of her voice ran over his soul. This was impossible. His mouth was arid, as devoid of moisture as the desert wastes outside the prison. He opened his mouth to speak, his voice barely louder than a whisper. "Y-y-y-you’re dead” he rasped, a stutter forming on his lips, a trait he had ironed out of his son with harsh words and tough love. Fumiko tipped her head back to laugh, a brutal mockery of the warm tinkle that he remembered as her expression of mirth. This laugh was cruel, and high and cold and turned his blood to iron in his veins. She turned her eyes to face his, her chilling blue gaze meeting his ebony eyes. The corners of her mouth twisted into a glacial expression of amusement. Tillul felt his knees go weak and he slowly slumped back down onto the bed. "Dead or not, I am here, aren’t I?” She blinked slowly, as Tillul hung on her every word. “My my Tillul, you did very well didn’t you? What, nearly thirty years of freedom after ending two lives in one fell stroke? An enviable achievement. And you would have got away with it too, if not for that son of yours. How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child, eh? After everything you did for him, and still he squeals on you like a pig, revealing your deepest darkest secrets. Sure, you suppressed his abilities, made him a cripple, what, two times over? But at least you were safe. Until you weren’t.” "It wasn’t like that,” Tillul hastened to interrupt her unstoppable train of thought. “It was for his benefit as much as mine” Fumiko scrunched up her face into an expression of extreme doubt and disbelief. In what felt an eon, she shook her head, maintaining eye contact the entire time. "You and I both know you only did it so he wouldn’t accidentally stumble upon your dirty laundry Tillul, and frankly it’s insulting that you would believe I could swallow that pill. I’m not one of your animals; I’ve seen the size of some of the things you gave them” Tillul’s face assumed a mask of purest, undiluted hatred. This woman, this stupid woman, had ruined his life twice over. First of all, she’d had the audacity to get pregnant, to make leaving her even more difficult than it was already. Then her death had come back to bite him in the rear, ruining his chance of a perfect family. Laxe had loved him, and his son had loved him, and then the revelation of one little secret had brought it all down like a house of cards. He pointed a short, bony finger at the face on the screen. "How dare you, how very dare you! You ruined my life! If it weren’t for you, I could still be happy. Still be free!” Fumiko’s face took on a patronising glare that needled into Tillul’s brain as she raised both her eyebrows at him. "I don’t remember forcing you to push me down those stairs. In fact I seem to remember feeling a jolt of shock before the sudden nothingness. So please don’t be blaming me for that, thank-you-very-much” Tillul’s eyes narrowed to thin slits through which his ebony eyes blazed. He considered throwing something through the viewscreen to gain himself a moment’s respite, but a feeling of some kind stayed his hand. Perhaps it was fear, perhaps it was the unsaid knowledge that this wasn’t a physical manifestation and breaking the screen wouldn’t do diddly. Instead he rearranged his face into a softer look of contrition that was as false as his testimony on the stand. He’d tried to argue that it was an accident, that guilt had rewritten his memories to pin the blame on him, because he had felt so anguished at his inability to save her. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t fly. "I am sorry. I am sorry for what happened to you. I - “ She interrupted him before he could get any further. A red rose of rage blossomed in the pit of his stomach, but he clenched his jaw and stayed quiet. After all, he had all the time in the world. "You’re not sorry that I died, you’re sorry that you got caught. Please don’t insult my intelligence or my memory in saying that. You deserve this though, and you know it. You are a murderer, Tillul, a murderer of your wife and her unborn child. Every minute you serve here brings her another moment’s peace, you know that?” Tillul raised an eyebrow at the face on the screen, her calm, docile eyes boring into his, as the face took on a more neutral expression, one that made her look less like Fumiko and far blander. In fact she could now be anyone. If it even was a she - the features had become a nondescript androgynous humanoid face and it was that which scared Tillul most of all. The face winked once at him before disappearing with a soft ‘pop’ leaving Tillul alone on his prison cot, shivering with his penitence. Over the next few days, Tillul frequently noticed a slight tremor in his right hand, often getting more violent as the day progressed towards night, and sleep. He had not slept well since the visitation from Fumiko’s ghost, or whatever it was. At first he had believed it was a manifestation of one of the many deities, some of which were vengeful and some were just and it could have been any of these. However he had dismissed that summarily when he reasserted his atheism to himself strongly in the mirror. Gods and demons simply did not exist and even if they did, he was sure he would be beneath their notice when compared to the grand scale of the universe. So instead he started to think that it was a dream, or rather a nightmare, a mental ordeal of torment that had visited him when he was asleep. That had to be it, he assured himself as he tossed and turned in his bed. And yet the screen in the corner of the room glowed a little brighter when he wasn’t looking...
  16. The battle was over and Nugra was on the way to the galley of the GSN Claws of Blood. It was nowhere as fancy as those aboard Federation vessels. Nugra had served on everything from the small Intrepid-class starship to the beautiful Sovereign-class ships. The Gorns preferred efficiency over design. The heavy tables were anchored down and the roar of the fire from the pits filled the room with smoky goodness. The fires, of course, were holographic but the heat emitting from them was not. They could live like their ancestors and roast meat over an open fire without risking the vessel with real fire. The holograms just added flair to them. “Senior Commander!” Ak’lar called from his place around one of the fire pits. He was holding a large leg of some animal over the fire making it glisten in its own fats. “Come! Sit! Eat!.” Nugra grinned at a lizard that he never thought would be his friend. A Black claw soldier from the wars, his enemy and somehow the green lizard with blue stripes had become a comrade. The ribbons and ropes on his chest and shoulders, the gem-studded Vss’Kot at his waist told of each and every honor he had won. Even those of the old Gorn Empire cause the youngest lizards to stare at him in awe. Starfleet was of science and knowledge, the Gorn were of deeds and duty. Nugra pulled out his plate which the other Gorns snickered. “You have lived with the humans for too long, brother,” another massive lizard said who took up twice the room. He hulked over the fire making the chunk of meat look small. “You need plateware aboard a Gorn ship?” “I like not to look like a beast when I eat.” “So you look dainty like a Romulan?” “Is that not better?” Nugra joked pretending to hold the plate as daintily as possible. There was a mixture of boos and laughter from her comment as Eeska, his friend, playfully swatted Nugra’s head in a sign of affection. Eeshka was a beautiful lizard with her small frame, gently spines running down her back, and small snout. Her topaz eyes glittered at him as she squatted beside him. “Why do you have that flimsy piece of human technology?” Ak’lar asked finally. The way he spoke showed he had been wanting to ask for quite some time. “A gift from my first captain in the Federation. It’s a reminder.” “A reminder of what?” the young Senior Ensign spoke up at his side, feeling safe being closer. “For every great thing, there are mistakes one should never forget.” *** Nugra found his room, tapped in the pass-code and strode into the muggy air. The thick aroma of Abalor plants and incense relaxed him immediately. There was a small, alien scent in his room. The biting but aromatic Jestral root nipped at his powerful nostrils and the memory of a certain Trill captain had come to his mind. The smell was calming and familiar in the muggy wild of his home. He did not make the same mistake as last time, he had sent her a note before he left Federation space that he was heading back to his home-world. The relationship between the Gorn and the Federation had not healed to the point of open communication. It would have been very difficult for him to send anything to her let alone making it there after the censors had looked at it. There was still fear the Federation was going to be out for revenge. Nugra went over to the little pot that held the growing roots of the Jestral plant and checked the soil monitors. The plant glistened in the starlight as the condensation kissed the leaves. He crouched down gently caressing it as if it had been a pet. It was the only thing that he had of the other life of a starfleet Captain. That was probably why Jalana Rajel had gotten it to him before he was too far deep into Gorn space. He had no clue how to make the tea but he planned to take the leaves to her when it was time to go home and have her show him. ‘When do I go home?’ Was not this his home now? There was actually nothing left in Starfleet for him. Since stepping down from his command of the USS Victory he had gone from one department to another, ship after ship. His chances for Fleet Captain dwindling at each move. Starfleet needed people of his experience and the Gorn never thought they hated him but his career had come to an end. Nugra knew he was fooling himself to think that he would ever command a Federation vessel again. Nugra Tk’Moong let the memories of his ship, the Victory, fill his mind from the corner where he guarded the deepest thoughts. The smell of the carpet and plasteel, the humm of the machinery. The quick, exciting talks of Ayiana Sevo, the rich Scottish accent of Alucard Vess, the gentle tones of Talia Kaji. Talia. It had even considered resigning his commission for a while before the request to return to Gorn space had come. Shaking himself of the revelry, he forced himself to the present. He was Senior Commander Nugra, Son of Moong, the High Arbiter of the Defender of the Egg, Holder of the Princess’ Ruby. He was a god among Gorn. Then why didn’t he feel at home? Ignoring the nagging voices, he climbed under the heavy animal hides and curled up to sleep. *** Nugra’s uniform was perfect as usual with his ribbons, medals, and ropes all positioned perfectly. Nugra strode into the room with confidence and certainty. Nugra strode in a crossed his left arm across his chest with hand out in a Gorn salute. “Reporting as ordered, Senior Master.” The older lizard turned to face him from the multitude of floating holographic screens that provided him everything he needed to know about the sector. "I need your experience from the Federation." "Oh? How can I serve?" Master Hrrsh tapped his claw against the duraglass panel and the screen changed to a starmap which he motioned Nugra to take a look at. The Gorn strode over closer and peered at it and recognized the coordinates being displayed. "This is Meeriso sector?" Nugra asked with a tilt of his head in surprise. "It's barren for the most part except for ion storms and a few other unique phenomena." "Yes," Hrrsh said with a nod. "But we picked this up about a week ago. It took our techs three days to piece together the jumbled signal to realize what it was." Nugra watched the string of symbols scrawl across the lower portion of the screen and to his astonishment, he recognized them. "That's a Starfleet IFF frequency." "It is. We had the Guardian's Errant pull the information and it's the USS Constantinople-A, Federation Constitution Class Refit circa 2271s. Under the command of Captain Daphne Pierce. Federation historical records show the vessel went missing in 2274 in the Baretz pass.” "Have you informed Starfleet?" Nugra asked. "No." Hrrsh answered with a finality that caught the younger Gorn off guard. "Why?" "I have an old Federation vessel clear on the opposite side of Gorn space which we have never seen before. I don’t know what we have.” "That's where I come in." "Correct. We are going to have to tell them if the ship is actually there and it will be better with an ex-Starfleet officer was the one investigating." "What is my assignment?" "Senior Commander Tk'Lnn Vss'Kov of the GSN Gorn Talon-A is in charge of the mission and will be heading to the Meeriso sector to see if they can locate the signal." "When do I leave?" "Immediately. Vss'Kov is waiting for you right now." *** The shuttle jolted hard as a wave of energy from the neutron star of the Holdath System made it past the stellar body that they were using as a shield. The jerk through the occupants around though their harnesses kept them in place. "Who thought we would also have a ride?" Burrk chortled from his seat. The massive reptile rattled his metal harness causing Eeska to shake her head in irritation. "I keep hoping something will take you out, you big oaf," she said with a mocking laugh. "Nothing is big enough to take out, Burrk." Nugra was of the opinion to agree. "What's the SOP, Senior Commander?" Ak'Lar asked. "Breach and then search pattern," Nugra said as another wave, just not as strong, rocked the ship. "I doubt anyone is alive by this time but we need to take steps to secure and make sure. Who knows what could have taken up residence all these years." Nugra had enough experience with alien life forms to not take anything for granted. It was easy to die in the void. "There it is!" the pilot called and Nugra tapped the screen on his harness to allow the view of the pilot to be seen. The side of the planet was dark but with massive canyons and mountains. Standing out with it's white hull and wedged between two giant mountains was the saucer section of the distinctive Federation design. "Land on the surface of it. We'll cut our way in," Nugra said. It took about 30 minutes before the team was able to breach the hull. Fitting their helmets on and activating the armor they wore, Nugra went first followed by Eeska, Burrk, and Ak'Lar last. Nugra dropped to the corridor below and moved forward before dropping to a crouch. The corridor and red carpet stretch before them though the hall was only illuminated by his helmet's head lamp. "Clear," Nugra said as the others took up formation beside them. "We'll make our way to the bridge. Look for Jefferies Tubes marked Primary service. Anything else will be too small for our kind," Nugra warned. It was Ak'Lar that spotted Service Tube 2-B which told him that he had access to the bridge. The hatch need breached as the ship was so old, it didn't connect to their external power packs to remote charge the computers. Burrk led the way to breach the top tube and they all soon found themselves in the circular bridge of the Federation starship. The bridge was empty though there was a layer of dust that showed it had not been visited in a number of years. Nugra strode forward and found the tattered remains of a Federation uniform among the last few bones that had not disintegrated. "It appears the ship's captain died in her seat," Nugra mused. He tapped the computer panel on the armchair and it did not respond. It was not like he had expected it to. "Ak'Lar, There should be a power junction under the communications panel," Nugra said pointing to it. "See if you can get it to interface with our power systems. We need to pull the ship's logs." "On it, Senior Commander." "Bring back memories?" Eeska asked as she stood beside him, weapon slung at ease in front of her. "Yes," Nugra said with a nod. She was one of the few she trusted especially since she had started the conversation on their side channel. "I cannot imagine how you could have stood it, Nugra," she said looking at the blank screen too. "Not only is the design alien but to have so many around that were not like me would have been really lonely." "It was for a time," Nugra said with a sigh. "But I had a good captain when transferred looking for my brother and a good crew. Tafaz, Heath Story, Captain Hurne. They are the reasons that I did not return to the Gorn Hegemony until the call of the Princess." Eeska nodded. "Do you plan to go back?" "I don't know," Nugra said with a shrug. A distinctive human trait he had learned. "My career dead ended there after I stepped down from the USS Victory. The Civil War, the loss of my friends...when I went back, I could not get myself to fit in even though I had a lot of friends that I called comrades. I went from being on the front lines to a Captain regulated to administrative work. I...I just couldn't be happy." "Have you been happy being back?" That was a good question. He was on the front lines and fighting for a cause but there were even less familiar faces here. "Senior Commander! I think I got it to work." Nugra turned to look at Ak'lar as one of the computer panels lit up. "You haven't escaped my question, Senior Commander," Eeska snarked at him. Nugra walked over to the panel and quickly tapped in a few commands that came back to him. Command directives had not changed for years; his old command codes would work to access the ship's log and download them. "There we go," Nugra said with a grin as his own tricorder beeped making the interface between the two computers. A copy of the data began to flow in while he began to sift through the writing. The visuals had been degraded and would take rebuilding but the text extracts were still present. "Looks like the Constantinople found an unstable wormhole," Nugra mused as he read through the terran standard he had practiced for years. "She crashed here when the neutron star ripped the lower section apart. Looks like the crew lived for about 25 years before...something happened." "Something happened?" Eeska said shifting her weapon. "I don't like the sound of that." It was at that point, Nugra saw that the data had become broken and the captain of the vessel had not kept up the log. There was a report of something on the ship and then one description jumped out at him. A cold chill went down his spine as he slammed his fist on the computer turning it off. "Everyone. Get your stuff. We are leaving now," Nugra ordered with no uncertainty. The description the captain provided of the assailant in her last logs, the fear it generated told him what he was dealing with. "Nugra to Gorn Talon, come in." "This is Vss'Kov. Go ahead." "Initiate Oblivion Protocol, Senior Commander. confirmed encounter aboard this ship." "Understood. Get out of there. You have five minutes before we're in position and have the plasma torpedoes overloaded." "What is going on!" Eeska shouted as Nugra began to yank out the cords and had Ak'lar wrap them up. "Buurka. Point Alpha. Eeska Point Bravo. If you see anything, no matter what it is, shoot to kill. I don't care what it looks like." To her credit, Eeska did not say anything as she sensed the extreme urgency from her Senior Commander. As soon as they were ready, Nugra began the descent down the jefferies tube with his weapon unslung and facing down. He knew he had a chance thanks to his encounter with a Yeltan so many years earlier. As everyone else climbed down they began to move towards the exit point when he heard Buurk groan in fear. Nugra spun around to see his giant lizard looking down the hallway. Looking back was a pair of liquid black eyes attached to a grotesque body with multiple legs. It had a sadistic grin on its face showing the rows of serrated teeth. The Hunger was here. Nugra did not hesitate as he felt the fear field the creature emitted begin to touch him. The green plasma bolt struck and sizzled by the creature as it dodged. Nugra continued to fire as he pulled Burrk back, breaking his gaze with it. "MOVE. NOW!" "WHAT IS THAT?" Eeska shouted terrified. "Move to the shuttle!" Nugra continued as he continued to lay down fire keeping the quick creature back. "Gorn Talon to Nugra. ETA 3 minutes." his comm said. "Negative, Talon," Nugra hollared. "We've engaged it. We're 30 seconds to egress. Fire now!" There was silence but the Gorn knew Tk'Lnn wouldn't hesitate. Too much was at stake. It made sense now. The neutron star, the dead crew, the wormhole. Nugra had encountered the same wormhole when he was with the Duronis II Embassy. The creature would build a ship in the center of the neutron star and work towards letting it's armada in to consume the galaxy. It was the bright red beams shooting past him that he realized that his pilot had dropped auto turrets into the hallway having heard the conversation. Nugra kept firing as his away time climbed the net ladder back into the shuttle. Nugra hurried up himself and threw himself in as he felt the claws barely miss him. The Gorn slammed his fist on the button slamming the hatch shut. "GO NOW!" The shuttle detached and launched as two burning red giant balls of plasma passed them and connected with the hull of the starship. The rending explosion was silent but the shuttle took the brunt flipping and tumbling out of control. If it had not been for Tk'Lnn being ready with a tractor beam, they would have broken the horizon and been destroyed by the neutron star. *** Once they were sure nothing could have survived, the Gorn Talon left making its way back towards the fleet. Nugra stood in the briefing room with Tk'Lnn and Hrrsh on the screen. "Excellent work, Senior Commander," Hrrsh said a bit paler. "I know we have heard stories of some of them being in our galaxy but I never thought they were in our space." "It's good we found it and destroyed it," Nugra said angrily. "I've seen what they have done to another reality." "I also got your transfer request. Though I do not think it's a wise choice, I understand why you want to go back and deliver the files." Hrrsh said with a nod. "I'm seeing what type of work I can pull off for you." Nugra nodded as the screen died. He had requested to return to the Federation after his encounter with the Hunger again. They had become a dull memory to the point he had forgotten why he had been chasing them and what they were truly capable of. He couldn't defeat them here in the Gorn Hegemony but maybe in the Federation. He had a choice to make. Ignore the threat or go home and stop the threat once and for all. It was his choice to make. -END-
  17. "German, you need to get back to your ship! "Arlil said, "It’s too late for me now…" That was not what German wanted to hear as he entered into the central chamber where the Borg Queen mainly operated in the ship that was surrounded deep inside an enormous Borg city known as the Unicomplex. He was determined as hell to finally lay to rest his obsession with saving his sister. "I’m not going back until you come with me." German exclaimed in a manic state, "You know this!" "You need to or what I’m capable of will be your downfall. I’ve kept the Collective at bay for too long because I am the Collective. What these drones will do to you will be your fault." A drone simply walked past the Denobulan as if he wasn’t even there. German could feel the intensity of Arlil’s words as her head and upper body was lowered from the ceiling and connected securely onto her waiting body with the tubes unfastening from her and slithered back up, as they disappeared from view. He knew that much she was to the point of no return, but was too stubborn to admit it as he approached her into the green hue. "My downfall is not even close to happening. There’s still a piece of humanity in you or else you’d already have me assimilated." "You know as well as I do that your immune system is strong enough to hold off on being fully assimilated, German." She said as she smiled softly to him, "A physical trait that..." It was then her voice turned into the Collective and responded, "We will adapt to. We will add your biological distinctiveness to our own." Being in front of Arlil when she and the Hive Mind spoke together gave him chills as he backed up with one step, but was stopped by a drone as it put its hand on his shoulder and fully grasped it from behind him. His head turned to look at the drone and then quickly went back to glance at Arlil where she was now approaching him and raised her hand towards him. He brought his elbow back with quick force and precision that he connected with the drone’s nose which caused it to fall over. He stepped backwards again and then dodged another drone as he sidestepped it, causing it to stumble forward into Arlil which knocked her down as well. It appeared that the collision brought her back to reality as she presented a worried expression. German went into protection mode and stepped forward to help her back up, but Arlil raised her hand. "No German. Please, leave because there’s Cube ships heading over here. They’ll stop at nothing to protect me." "That’s what I’m doing too! My sole purpose here is to save you, Arlil!" "Save the little girl you once knew. Back in 2377. She’s the one that needs protecting." "Wait, do you mean..." Before he could even finish his sentence, he was transported into a Sphere that was about to fly off into space. He tried to fully grasp what she said and then heard her voice as if she was right there with him. "I’ve set the temporal coordinates to 237710.17. All you have to do is produce a tachyon pulse after you go through the transwarp conduit that leads to Earth. Farewell, German." How he was to even know what to do or even pilot the Sphere was beyond him, but as soon as he sat down in a bulky chair, the space object jolted forward and then millions of streaks of light zoomed past the viewscreen in front of him. In just a matter of seconds, he was now several lightyears away from Earth when all of a sudden, an Odyssey class Starship warped to a grinding halt in front of him. He was being hailed, but German did not want to answer it as a display in front of him appeared with guided instructions on how to out maneuver the enormous ship. He reached for the command to bolt out of there and saw that the Federation ship’s torpedoes were launching towards him, but the maneuverability of the sphere dodged the weapons fire at ease as it took off suddenly. German activated the tachyokinetic device that Arlil had set the temporal coordinates which caused a controlled emission of chronometric particles that generated a temporal vortex to form in front of him. He exhaled softly and remembered what Fleet Captain Sal Taybrim had said to him a while ago that still resonated with the scientist. "German…" Captain Taybrim said as he looked at the Denobulan and spoke softly. Empathetically and yet with a far deeper warning tone than even his last statement, "I’m not worried that your plan won’t work. I’m worried it will." "It’s what I need to do." He said softly as he closed his eyes as he went through the vortex. When he opened his eyes back up, he saw that vortex he generated was still open so he emitted a antitachyon pulse towards it to collapse the vortex so the Odyssey class starship didn’t have the chance to pursue him any further. Seeing that he was successful, he now had to figure out a way to slow the Sphere down, but was unable to cause the speed to diminish quick enough as he entered the atmosphere and saw that he was right above North America. He had enough wherewithal that German knew how to somewhat steer the ship and it started to slow itself when he centered on California. San Diego to be exact as he set the location to his childhood home. What struck him odd was why no ships were coming towards him when he noticed on the display that at some point the Sphere cloaked itself, but as he got closer to the ground, the decreasing speed allowed it to momentarily decloak as his house came into view. Goosebumps formed on his skin when the viewscreen zeroed in on the structure and saw his younger self at 15 years old was approaching his front yard and saw himself approach his little sister. She then ran into the house as expected, but then German shook his moment of distraction away when the Sphere was practically on top of the house. He tried to make it to stop, but it was too late and crashed into the back of the house causing debris of splintered wood and shattering glass all around it as the ship came to a heavy thud. Nearly frozen and shaken to the core, German wobbled his way as he stood up and right when he turned to find the exit, a drone that was hidden from his view came out of nowhere and injected nanoprobes into his neck causing him to collapse and gasp for air. The sense of dread overwhelmed him as he looked on as the drone exited the ship as his veins started to pulse profusely which caused them to bulge out as his skin started to turn dark shade of palish green. It was then that he realized before he was fully linked with the Hive Mind that it was his own doing that caused his sister’s abduction and eventual assimilation.
  18. "Hey, Eleanor." In Marisol's right hand, she jerked her hand up and down. The two slips of latinum clinked together in a beautiful melody against the small table next to her. Clink, clink, clink the latinum went as she twisted it around and around in her hand, the edges clinking against the top of the table. She sat, slumped, in her captain's chair, her dark black eyes staring into nothingness as the viewscreen showed a planet she hadn't seen in eons. She had chosen a white wig that was tied back with a clasp, but a strand stuck to her cheek, just in front of her right ear. She let out a huff, her dark eyes flicking away from the viewscreen. "You know I've always hated that name, idiot." A laugh echoed around her in the bridge, dark and silent except for their voices. "Yeah. You went through a phase with your middle name, right? Cor-" "Don't say that name," her hand stopped for a moment, her eyes slipping shut as she took in a slow breath, then opened again. "Just don't. I don't have the temper, nor the time, to deal with you." "No time for your favorite big brother?" the voice teased, and her left hand swung from where it dangled over the armrest, resting her cheek against her fist with a click of her tongue, licking her dry lips. "You're my only brother, dummy." She paused. "...and you're dead." "Yeah, well." If he was here, she knew he would shrug and do that stupid grin of his that always, always irritated her. It was boastful, gloating, deceitful. Girls his age would giggle and sigh when he flashed that grin, but oh how they were just so very disappointed when he moved on to bigger and better things. Like he always did. Like he had always done. Which, of course, led to his demise. She shifted, grunting as she leaned further on her hand, her eyes fluttering shut again. "What do you want?" she asked wearily to the empty bridge. She was going out of her mind, that's what it was. That happened sometimes, later in life, to Betazoids. Or. So she believed. She didn't want to think otherwise. Perhaps her telepathy was finally attempting to eat away at the lobes of her brain in an effort to self-destruct. That seemed less absurd than the rest of the...everything...going on. "You think I'm only a figment of your imagination," he begun, and she really did not want to go down whatever path he was going. "So I mean, why not chat a bit? Take some comfort in it. Maybe I'm a spirit sent back from Karawati to help you along the way." Marisol snorted, coughing as she covered her mouth before shaking her head, letting her arm lay limply at her side. "I've never believed in that hogwash. Peace and love and on and on until you die pitiful and alone because that's what life is really like." "The pirate life really did you no favors, you know." Marisol peeked an eye open. The planet in front of her grew ever larger the closer they came to it. It rotated in place slowly, and she could see a storm building up over a large body of water. Pity. She had ever so hoped to experience rain on her face one last time. Her hand weakly lifted up, pale fingers skating over her own cheek. "Is this what the afterlife is like, then? Waiting on my ship to crash into my homeworld?" She let out a sharp laugh, coughing harder as her head slumped forward, wheezing slowly. "Truly a fate befitting of my actions these past years. What say you, brother?" "I dunno. Always thought you'd die in a shoot-out. Would have been more...dramatic, that way." His laugh, deep baritone, rumbled through the bridge. It was like she could see him, in her mind's eye, standing in front of her with his arms crossed. He smiled often, but his face always acted like it never knew what to do about it. A permanent resting brooding face. "But ah. Here you are. Ship malfunction. Just a stars-forsaken warp drive malfunction, that's all it is, wasn't it?" Marisol blinked slowly, feeling the want to just lay back and fall asleep. But that would be rude to her guest, wouldn't it? Yes. Just a warp drive malfunction. Something that sometimes just happened, something they thought they could fix. But, no. It took out half her ship. And when the...incident happened, she forced her crew to depart in what little escape shuttles they had. There was no escape for her, she thought, looking down slowly. The large piece of metal pinning her to the seat took care of that. This felt like some ironic fate. Just as he said, she often thought she’d be shot in the streets after a deal gone awry, not this…slow and…almost boring event. Her left hand trembled as she brought it up to sweep the white strand of hair from her right cheek, then let it collapse around her, the energy just not there any longer to keep her extremities moving. “What kind of story will they tell, I wonder,” she murmured, her eyes finally sliding shut as she smiled. “Despite everything, I’ll fade into obscurity as so many have done. What an end to a story.” ”It’s not a very satisfying end, no,” he agreed, the viewscreen flicking a bit before stabilizing into the, what she knew to be, hologram of Betazed. “In fact, if I read a holo-novel leading up to this, I’d sooner curse out the author for killing my favorite character.” She sputtered out a laugh, shaking her head, the white wig slipping a bit. “I was your favorite? How charming, how bold. How naive. You’ve always been that way.” She sighed, smacking her dry lips together, and it echoed loudly followed by creaks of the ship and pops of snapped wires trying to get energy from one to another. “Perhaps you could tell me a different story.” “A story?” His voice carried amusement in it, but not the teasing type, no. She couldn’t place her finger on it, actually, but she felt that, at this time, she shouldn’t have to. “Sure, why not. What kind? You know I’ve always been able to make up some pretty good ones,” he joked. Yes, like the time he’d managed to convince a traveling group of entertainers that he was a juggler, and managed to hitch a free ride across three planets before they found out he didn’t know what juggling was. She sighed, relaxing back in the chair as the ship started to rumble around her threateningly. “Give me…a different story. One with…a good end.” There was a beat, then two, and she figured he’d finally wised up and left before she heard: “On board the USS Gorkon, the new counselor, Corliss, is roughly awakened from an unnatural sleep…”
  19. Ishka couldn’t make any sense of where she was. It was home, and yet, it wasn’t. Something about the scents that assailed her nostrils was off. Most things on Leya-I didn’t give off strong odors like this, especially plants. In desperation, she looked around the meadow of sun-kissed Kazuri for some clue as to why she was here. Scant moments ago, she’d been floating in space in an EVA suit with her oxygen supply nearly depleted. She paused. Was she dead? Is that what this was? Al-Leyans didn’t believe in an afterlife, but if she could imagine one place she’d like to spend eternity, it would be the beautiful landscapes of Leya-I. Though she had wanted nothing more than to escape, that had always been more about the people. Fighting against the sudden surge of apprehension and uncertainty, she took one step forward. And then another. And then another. Before long, she was wandering the field of lovely plants, her feet scarcely touching the ground as she did. She didn’t know how much time had passed, but she didn’t really care. She was home. For the first time in years, she was home. A sound at the other end of the field caused her to tense and instinct took over. Her distant ancestors had once been easy prey for any large animal that sustained itself on flesh, so it was only natural that her fight or flight response would engage in the presence of the unknown. She didn’t truly know anything about this place or what to expect here. What should have been a haven was a strange land to her. She listened, expecting her keen hearing to pick up the sound again. As she strained her ears, she made out the subtle, rhythmic shift of the grasses that alerted her to the approach of someone or something. Not knowing its intentions, she shifted her stance to brace for a fight. With no weapon to help her, she’d have to rely on her strength alone. The feeling of what she believed to be a hand on her shoulder caused her to jump and she instantly grabbed the hand, using the creature’s momentum to flip it over her shoulder. She barely registered the surprised yelp as the creature landed on its back with a resounding thud. Moving quickly, she sat atop it, pinning it with a hand at its throat, the other hand ready to deliver the killing blow. “Ishie?” The familiar voice and pet name made her freeze. Only one person had ever called her that. Her hand briefly tightened around the being’s throat as she grappled with what she was experiencing. No. No, it wasn’t him. He’d died years ago. This was some imposter. Her temper flared. How dare someone impersonate him. “Who are you?” she growled. A soft smile crossed the man’s lips even as his hand came up to the one gripping his throat. “Ishie, it’s me,” the man rasped. She growled louder, warring with what she knew to be true and what her eyes were showing her. Despite the fact that her grip was likely cutting off his air, he made no move to stop her nor did he give any indication that he was afraid. Tears sprang to her eyes, sliding down her cheeks, as she released the man’s throat and stood abruptly. She ran her hands through her hair, tugging hard at the strands, even as the man gasped for air beside her, rubbing his throat. “Wake up,” she muttered. “This is an asphyxiation-induced reaction. Your brain is trying to make sense of what’s happening. Wake up.” Again, she felt his hand, and she tensed. “I’m here, Ishie,” he rasped. “I’m here.” She turned to him, anguish twisting her expression. “No! You died!” The man didn’t respond, allowing them both to lapse into momentary silence as she processed what was happening. Taking a deep breath and exhaling it, she broke the silence, her native Esperanto flowing with ease. “What is this place?” she breathed. A smile that she couldn’t quite discern the meaning of slid across his lips as he studied her. “Home, Ishie. We’re home.” That simple statement held so much meaning that she wasn’t certain she could unpack all of it even given an eternity. There was something about the way he said it that made her believe him without question. For the first time since encountering him here, her gaze met his. What she saw caused her chest and throat to tighten, the tears beginning anew. She could scarcely draw breath, each exhalation requiring supreme effort as she wrapped her mind around the fact that she was looking into her uncle’s eyes the same way she’d used to before. How is this possible? “Uncle,” she whispered. She dropped her mental guard entirely, allowing herself to fully feel his presence even as she stumbled forward to embrace him in one of the tightest hugs she’d given in her years. Burying her face in his shoulder, she smiled as the subtle yet familiar scent of the many blossoms he’d enjoyed tending to invaded her senses. It felt like an eternity that she stood there, embracing him and refusing to let go. She was almost afraid to, convinced she’d lose him again and she’d never get him back. It was soft at first but gradually grew in intensity. A beeping sound that didn’t match her current surroundings had her pulling back and she furrowed her brow in confusion. “Do you hear that?” she asked. Her uncle smiled sadly, cradling her face in his hand as though to bring her attention back to him. “Hear what, Ishie?” She shook her head. “That beeping. I--It sounds familiar.” Gradually it grew louder and she realized that the world around her was becoming fuzzy. In a panic, she reached for her uncle only to watch him disappear right before her eyes. The rest of the scene faded away rapidly and she found herself again staring through the visor of the EVA suit out at the black of space with a splitting headache. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she did her best not to sob because it would only deplete her oxygen faster. “Please,” she whisper-prayed to whatever deity was listening. “I want to go back to him. Please.” But no one seemed to hear her. She remained stuck in the EVA suit, waiting for the Atlantis crew to eventually find her. ====================== Lieutenant Ishkabela Journs Assistant Chief Medical Officer USS Atlantis I238110RH0
  20. The view screen snapped into focus on an impossible sight and a voice from Lorian’s past speaks to him and him alone… He looked in awe as, in front of his very eyes, his cat was sitting on the bridge of another vessel. In the captain’s chair no less! The aptly named Captain Patches had gone missing a year ago, presumably to join the cat uprising. Lorian spoke up, a hint of confusion in his voice. “Captain Patches? This is Captain Lorian Lovar of the USS Doolittle. I-” he was cut off by a loud meowing from his former cat. The universal translator took a few seconds, but was able to interpret his meaning. “Yes, I know who you are, Captain.” The computer had, for whatever reason, given the feline an extremely deep voice, verging on demonic. The cat captain began another series of meows, which the computer translated quicker than before as if adapting to the language.“I am in need of your assistance, one captain to another. My warp core has been damaged. My best engineers have tried and failed to repair it, as they do not have hands. Please, captain, we need your help.” He seemed genuinely concerned about his ship’s safety, and Lorian wasn’t about to leave his former pet in peril. “I’ll… I’ll send an away team over right away. Hang in there, sir.” The Vulcan smiled at the viewscreen and gave a small salute, just like the old days. “End communications.” “Aye, sir” said Lieutenant Commander Digo, his chief of operations. His first officer, Commander Gan, finally chimed in,”So… That was your cat?”. “Yup… Good ol’ Captain Patches.” “I assume you’ll want to lead the away team.” “Of course, you have the bridge, Commander.” “Aye, sir.” The Captain walked towards the turbolift as his first officer took her place on the command chair. His tactical officer, Lieutenant Yuri, and Digo followed behind him. He could tell that this would be an interesting mission if nothing else. It was a surprise when the United Feline Federation declared its independence from the United Federation of Planets. It was an even greater surprise when they won that independence through a brutal and bloody war that lasted only six months. Since then the two federations had continued to have close ties with one another, one providing knowledge and engineering and the other providing a vital resource: cute cat videos. The cats had a monopoly on interstellar entertainment. Ever since the early 21st century, watching their crazy antics and cute quirks had been a favourite activity of humans. When the first contact was made, the Vulcans reportedly asked for a copy of the latest viral hits for their own entertainment. Over hundreds of years, this blatant cyberbullying of the cats race had gone on too long, causing a mass uprising of cat kind in an effort to claim the rights to their own images. Quickly the federation, used to a constant stream of new videos, became completely demoralized, putting up little resistance to the massacres orchestrated by the cat council. They had to surrender, they simply couldn’t fight. _____________________________________________ As the turbolift reached its destination, Lorian looked at the two officers beside him, nodded, and walked out. They followed, staying on both sides of him like a security detail. When they entered the transporter room, his chief engineer, Lieutenant Gareth, was passing the time by making conversation with his transporter chief, Lieutenant Li. They saluted almost instantly as he entered. He smiled and nodded as a returned gesture. Over the years that Vulcan smile had become less odd and more natural to him. A familiarity he could only hope was shared by his crew. “So, who’s ready to fix the cat ship?” Lorian exclaimed “Sir! Is it true that your old cat is captaining the vessel?” asked Li. He was a very curious young lad, Lorian saw himself in the young human. They had become quick friends because of this, and of course drinking buddies. The captain chuckled at the remark,”Yes, Lieutenant, me and Captain Patches had some good times together. I got him when I was still in the academy actually.” “It must be exciting to see him again, sir, I know I speak for the rest of us former cat owners that we certainly miss our old pets.” “It’s definitely a pleasure, Lieutenant. Now, onto business.” He walked onto the transporter pad, his company following. He gave Li a brief two fingered salute and spoke,”Beam us aboard, Li.” “Aye, sir, I’ll see you when you get back.” Lorian and the rest dematerialized and were sent onto the feline vessel. When they rematerialized they found themselves in a transporter room not too dissimilar to their own. The only difference being that there was a cat manning the transporter. And another cat waiting to greet them. And a security detail, with weapons trained onto them. Captain Patches was standing with fine posture for a four legged being, and began a series of meows. His comms universal translator was taking its time in translating what the cat had said, but it was already too late. The phasers had been fired before it even began to speak. Lorian expected to be stunned or disintegrate or have a hole in his chest, but none of that had happened. “I’m sorry” his comm blurted out in the same deep voice as before,”The council only allowed me one pet. Fire!” The captain looked beside him only to see no one. Not a single thing. Not a single thing except specs of dust floating down to the floor of the transporter room. Shock set in. He froze up. He was about to reach for his phaser when he remembered that he arrived unarmed. He was trapped. Before he was able to recover from the shock and betrayal of what had just happened, he was put in handcuffs and led into the hall. “Meow meow meow, meow, meow meow meow meow.” exclaimed the cat captain. His comm interpreted the message a moment later as “I am truly sorry, I would have kept all of your men if the council allowed it, but I’m afraid they’re very picky on who lives and who doesn’t.” “Patches… It didn’t need to go this way. The war is over, what reason do you have to-” “Meow! Meow meow meow meow meow. Meow, meow meow.” That last sentence seemed directed at the communicator in the cat’s ear. He wasn’t sure where they were headed, he had never been on this model of ship before, but he assumed a brig or interrogation room of some sort. “Silence, humanoid!” yelled the comm,”I thought you were smarter than that. You lost the war, you surrendered, but you never met our demands. Now we must take the Federation by force! Patches to bridge, fire all photon torpedoes at the Doolittle...” Lorian’s heart sunk to the bottom of his stomach like a brick off a building. His pride and joy, his ship, his crew, his friends. He was about to cry out but he already knew it was too late. In his heart of hearts and his soul of souls he knew his ship… his family was gone. Now, all the Vulcan had left to look forward to was being the pet of pets.
  21. Snapping awake with a painful groan, Lt. Cmdr. Geoffrey Teller tried to re-orientate himself inside the darkened runabout. With no internal illumination and only faint starlight filtering through the viewports, the scene slowly resolved as he tried, and failed, to stand. The runabouts emergency restraints had engaged at some point and, he realized as a loose padd drifted past in zero g and clattered against a dead console, were the only things keeping him from floating freely around the cabin. Something had gone terribly wrong. With a deep breath of air that was already tasting stale, Geoff tried to clear his throat but ended up setting off a series of wracking coughs. “Report...Tomlinson...J’shon…” his words came out as a rasp and elicited no answer. After a few moments, it became clear why. Both officers, strapped to their chairs and still at their stations, weren’t moving. From where he was, Teller couldn’t tell if they were unconscious or...something worse. “Oh, Geoffrey. Did you hurt yourself playing again?” A woman's warm, lilting voice seemed to fill the cabin. Teller’s eyes went wide as they focused on the impossible sight on the viewscreen. Too shocked to be afraid and too confused for anything cogent, he only managed to croak out a single word. “M...mom?” For a moment, he was again seven years old, having skinned his knee after failing to climb the large oak tree near their home. It had been a childish bet with his older sister, whose longer limbs and superior coordination meant she had been climbing the tree successfully for several years already. Never one to back down from a challenge, even at that age, Geoff had made it halfway up before losing his grip and sliding back down, painfully scraping his skin. His mother had been watching the proceedings from a nearby picnic blanket and had rushed over with kind words and a small civilian dermal regenerator. That had been more than twenty years ago, before he’d joined Starfleet, and before his parents had been lost. Somehow, that thought helped ground his thinking. The face on the screen remained placid and calm, the picture of maternal compassion. “But...you died. Years ago….your ship…” He was cut off by a very familiar and very maternal clucking. “Oh, don’t worry yourself about that, Geoffy,” The voice, and the face, were perfect. Every inflection, every mannerism, even the way she brushed her hair to one side were exactly as his mother, June, had behaved. “I’m here now, don’t worry, everything is going to be alright.” Teller felt himself slump back in the runabouts chair as globes of moisture floated away from his eyes. Nothing about this made sense and, in the back of his mind, Geoff began giving serious consideration to the possibility that he was critically injured and just imagining the whole thing. He tried to turn his attention back to the inert console in front of him. There had to be a way to get some power back on. After several failed attempts to bring systems online, Teller thumped his fist against the uncaring composite as the voice gently chided him. “Geoffrey, what did I tell you about letting your frustrations distract you?” His mother had crossed her arms and pursed her lips. She was clearly expecting him to respond. “You’re not real...you’re not real...this is just some kind of...weird brain injury...I need to get back to the ship…” Teller tried to ignore the voice as he struggled with the seat restraints. “Oh, Geoffy, I wouldn’t do….” The warning came a moment too late as he successfully released the restraints and was nearly catapulted into the ceiling. He flailed without purchase for a few moments before colliding with the roof of the cabin. “...that.” “Well if I didn’t have a head wound before…” Teller rubbed his skull and inspected the cabin as his mother's face looked on, concerned. Finding a grip, he rotated and pushed off towards the inert form of Lt. Tomlinson, their helmsman. Without a tricorder he couldn’t tell much, but at least she was still breathing. He pulled the emergency aid kit from beneath a console but found the equipment inside as inert as the rest of the runabout. Whatever hit them seemed to have a devastating effect on all their technology. Geoff spoke aloud, mostly so he could hear something other than his own breathing in the increasingly claustrophobic interior. “That’s alright, Tomlinson...you just take it easy...I’ll get us sorted….That’s a Good Job Guarantee…” Geoff tried to work some hope or vigor into his voice but found it lacked for both. His assurance didn’t impress his other audience either. “Are you still using that ridiculous catchphrase, Geoffrey?” With a smirk, his mother seemed to be needling him slightly, as she so often did when she was alive. Teller ground his teeth in irritation. “Look, I don’t know who you are or what you want, but if you can help, now’s the time. I’ve got two injured crewmen here. I’m not sure how long we were out, but the air recyclers aren’t running and what’s in the compartment won’t last. If you can’t help, kindly shut up and go haunt someone else, I’m busy.” “Geoffrey John Teller, that is no way to speak to your mother!” The image on the screen looked genuinely hurt and, on some emotional level, Teller felt a very real pang of guilt. He turned, sheepishly, to face it. “Uh...sorry…it’s just...I’m not sure what to do right now. I’m not sure what you want...hell, I’m not even sure any of this is real. For all I know, you could be a symptom of hypoxia and I’m just blathering to myself in a broken ship.” Oddly, this admission actually helped Teller calm his racing mind slightly. On screen, his mother was the very picture of maternal concern. “It’s alright, Geoffrey, it’s alright. I’m here for the same reason as always - my son needed me. Now,” the woman clapped her hands before interlacing her fingers and cracking her knuckles loudly, a habit that had always turned young Teller’s stomach, “you, young man, have to start thinking. I bet you can find something in that spaceship of yours to take apart. Just like you took apart everything in the house. Hopefully this time there won’t be as many parts left over when you put it back together.” Geoff was again transported back to childhood, sitting on a kitchen stool and being scolded by his mother for his antics while behind her, his father painstakingly reassembled the home replicator while trying not to grin too openly. “The replicator…” With a flash of inspiration, Teller pushed off the console and floated towards the runabouts small replicator. Like everything else aboard the system was dormant, but Teller was unconcerned. The model on the runabout had a small shielded power cell for emergencies, and while it seemed like the rest of the system's delicate electronics had been destroyed, the power cell itself appeared intact. There was no external indicator and no way to check the remaining charge but it was something. He hoped. “Oh, and what do you intend to do with that, Geoffrey?” By the gentle, suggestive tone in her voice, Teller realized it wasn’t really a question. It was as if an infant had just brought her a light pen, and she was encouraging them to find something to draw upon. There was something obvious he was missing, and his head was beginning to throb. The cabin's air was growing worryingly thin as he exerted himself. He considered the questionable power cell, and the small metal tube he was trapped inside. There were dozens of redundancies, backups, failsafes and emergency systems, but somehow nearly all of them had been rendered useless by this calamity. He wasn’t going to repair the ship with what he had on hand...or with the time he had left. “Remember, Geoffrey, it’s always ok to ask for help when you need it.” Once again, his mother seemed to be prompting him, but it was getting harder and harder to concentrate. The cabin, already darkened, was growing more clouded by the minute. Tugging at the collar of his uniform tunic, his hand brushed against his comm badge and the edge of an idea pushed in against the haze. Removing the communicator from his tunic and disassembling it with shaking hands, Teller could see that whatever had damaged the ship had wrought its destruction on the fragile components inside the communicator. The only element that still seemed intact was the micro-crystalline subspace antenna, a hearty mesh fused with the outer casing of the communicator itself. “That’s my clever boy...but you’ll have to hurry. We don’t have much time left.” There was an unmistakable tone of urgency in her voice and, as the air continued to sour, Teller was certain why. At best he had minutes until he blacked out. Teller let the useless bits of the comm badge drift away in the cabin as he gripped the precious antenna in his teeth. He needed both hands to pry the end cap off his reclaimed power cell, leaving only the exposed power leads. If he was quick, he could tap the housing with the antenna against the leads without destroying it, giving him a brief and very weak subspace pulse. On his first attempt, he forgot the basics of electricity and shocked himself badly, eliciting a loud and colorful expletive. “Geoffrey, language! You’d think I raised a klingon with that mouth of yours!” His mother's chastisement was entirely genuine and he felt his cheeks flush in embarrassment. “Sorry mom.” He no longer cared who or what was on the screen, too fixated on what he was doing to give it another moment's thought. Pulling off his uniform jacket, he wrapped the sleeve around his hand several times to provide whatever insulation it could, and then began laboriously tapping the comm badge against the leads. He could see a small electrical arc lighting up the cabin, which gave him some hope that his call was going out. Short Tap short tap short tap….oO Please hear me. Oo Long Tap. Long Tap. Long Tap. oO I need help. Oo Short Tap short tap short tap...oO Or we’re so screwed. Oo “See Geoffrey, I told you everything would be alright. Now just you rest for a bit and when you wake up, I promise everything will be ok.” The voice was dreamy and far away, but Geoff felt reassured and calmed, as he always had when his mother tucked him in. She began gently humming a wordless lullaby from the furthest corners of his memory, filling his chest with warmth even as the rest of him grew cold. His eyes grew heavier and heavier. His hands still worked, continuing the sequence of taps against the leads, not even noticing the electrical arcs had all but disappeared. Eventually, his hands stopped and his eyes closed, and Geoffrey Teller drifted towards the darkness, comfortably aloft on the sound of his mother's voice. === “Sir...sir! Sir are you alright? Commander Teller, sir, can you hear me?” Snapping awake with a painful groan, Lt. Cmdr. Geoffrey Teller tried to re-orientate himself, expecting to find the inside of a darkened runabout. Instead, he was nearly blinded by bright searchlights directed at him. His mind felt sluggish and confused, but he could fill his lungs again and the air had rarely tasted sweeter. “Mom…?” Squinting against the harsh light, Teller’s eyes were able to focus on the startled officer inside the environmental suit. It took him an overlong moment to work out that they were being rescued. It had worked. “He’s alive! They’re all alive, sir. Advise sickbay to standby for emergency transport.” As the officer passed along an update back to the Thor, Teller blinked and turned his attention back towards the view screen. It was blank and inert, like everything else aboard the runabout, but Teller could see the bits of communicator he had cannibalized floating nearby, bouncing harmlessly off the display. “God damn sir, I don’t know how you pulled this one off….we barely picked up your signal…” Teller blinked again and realized the lieutenant was speaking to him. A warm, kind voice echoed in his mind and he croaked out a response. “Language, Lieutenant.” Geoff smiled and closed his eyes once more before the transporter beam took hold and brought him home. The wordless lullaby went with him. [End] =============================== Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Teller Executive Officer USS Thor Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding V239509GT0
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