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[2005: NOV-DEC] And So it Ended


Solan
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Hello, my name is Rick Farchess, and I used to be a Starfleet Captain.

How long has it been since I was a Starfleet Captain? Good question. This may sound strange, but to be honest, I’ve got no idea. Sure, I used to keep track of the date, and remember exactly when everything...changed, but I quit after a while.

That might be the first sign you’ve given up, forgetting the dates, the times. Must be, since I have no idea what the time is now. I’ve pretty well given up at this point.

I know what you’re thinking; I know what everyone will think for the rest of eternity when they read this. You’re thinking that Starfleet Captains never give up! They always find a way out! Captain Picard was assimilated, and he still survived. Captain Kirk had a whole load of s[...]es, but he always won. Why can’t you do the same?

Well, I can’t do the same, because I’m Rick Farchess, and I used to be a Starfleet Captain.

Give me a second to think back to when it all started, it was over a year ago, I know that much. Or two years? Like I said, I don’t keep track of the date anymore.

The Arimaga was on assignment...somewhere, assigned to do some glorious scientific exploration about something, to discover something or other that would benefit the Federation somehow or other. I quit keeping track of that too.

We were cruising at warp four, not too far from a star about to go supernova. It wasn’t supposed to be a problem, since we were at warp, and could easily outrun any trouble, Saber classes are pretty maneuverable. Plus, my Science Chief was going bonkers at the chance to watch a star go under. Never did quite get why.

Anyways, we were cruising along, when, for no apparent reason, we dropped out of warp. Of course, I did the obvious thing and asked for a report. That’s probably when things started to get bad, and desperate.

Instead of a report, I got confusion. My Helm officer said everything looked fine on his end, and it had to be engineering. My Chief engineer said everything was fine on his end, and it had to be some other problem. I said I didn’t care what the problem was, just that I wanted to be moving again. I may have thrown in a few colorful adjectives, I don’t remember exactly.

It was about then that my science officer told me we had a problem. If there’s one thing a Captain hates to here, it’s a Science officer telling him there’s a problem. Engineers tell you about lots of problems, then have them fixed before you can respond. But Science problems, let’s just say they’re always a little worse.

“The star’s going super nova, we’ll be hit by a blast wave in less than forty minutes,” he reported.

That was about when I told my Engineering and Helm officers we should probably move a little quicker on our warp problem.

That parts a little fuzzy, I don’t really like remembering it. Starfleet Captains are supposed to be able to deal with stuff like this. They’re supposed to be calm, collected, and rational, even when facing death. I wasn’t.

One section of those forty minutes is crystal clear. I went down to engineering.

My first site was that of my Chief Engineer, a normally quiet, humorous Scotsman, running back and forth between consoles as though he were in a relay race. He was yelling almost constantly as he did so. His bulk swinging from side to side, knocking equipment and crewmen alike out of his way. It was almost comical.

Zshishak! warp coils fine! Control systems perfect! Every lethnekeging system online!” I wasn’t quite sure what language he was swearing in.

When I managed to get his attention, he was running to the master control console. He whipped around to face me, his massive paunch flying around like it was on a leash.

“Can we get warp drive back?” I asked. I hadn’t talked to him in person since we dropped out of warp.

“Cappin, I dun even know why the bloody thing aint workin’ in the farst place!” his accent more mangled than usual.

“Mr. Bryce, I need warp drive,” and I left engineering, his flustered voice chasing after me.

The star went supernova, and we had a great view. As it exploded, our pilot tried to dodge the fragments. I think he succeeded; I was knocked out with one of the first impacts. Looking back, I’m glad I was. I would have hated to watch my ship get battered, and my crew killed a little at a time.

We survived. I’m not sure how, maybe the Helmsman was better than I thought he was, maybe God liked us, I don’t know. Whatever happened, I wish it hadn’t. If we had died then and there, a lot of sorrow and heartache would have been held back from a lot of people.

When I came to, I was in sickbay. I was out for almost a day, in and out of coma. My senior officers gathered almost immediately to tell me the bad news. I asked for the good news first. There was none.

“Cappin, I dun think you’re gonna like it much,” Bryce said by way of starting. My science chief shook his head.

“You most definitely won’t, sir,” he added.

I waited, not exactly wanting to know, definitely not wanting to be held in suspense.

“Cappin, I dun think we can eva go to warp again,” Bryce said finally. He never was one for smooth deliveries.

It got my attention well enough. They went on to explain that there was something wrong with subspace. I didn’t really get it, can’t say I tried either. I started as a Security Officer, and that’s what I’ll always be at heart, so the technical mumbo jumbo doesn’t really click with me.

The long and short of it was that we were stuck at impulse, and so was every other ship in the universe.

To top it all off, we’d taken several impacts. Our power reserves were down to 23 percent, our computer and database systems had taken heavy damage, and we had no emergency rations to speak of.

We were still Starfleet Officers at that point, I was still Rick Farchess, the Starfleet Captain.

So we did the only thing we could think of, we went into power saving mode, dropped all replicators to minimum power, and didn’t use anything we didn’t need.

After a while, we began to pick up Starfleet transmissions, they were delayed slightly, but were still over subspace radio, which made my science officer think there was some kind of barrier between us and subspace. That part I understood perfectly. He said we probably didn’t have the power to penetrate it and respond, but we could receive just fine.

The messages told us little. It seemed everyone was suffering from the same problems, warp drive out, subspace radio harder to use. The Klingons admitted to having the same difficulties, the Cardassians, Tholians, Gorn, all were having problems. The Romulans didn’t comment, but that’s not a surprise. Relief efforts were underway, trying to get ships to stranded civilians and Starfleet personnel.

Of course, we were too far out to be reached, and no one would think to look for us with so many other concerns.

My crew took it well. Without question, they began repairs, started looking for solutions, ways to get back home, anything that might help.

I have to chuckle, even as I sit here, waiting to die. Bryce was great. The poor man is so fat he would sweat when he had to climb the access tubes between even one deck, but he never turned the turbo-lifts on. I swear he lost 7 kilos in those months alone.

He joked about it too. It became our little betting pool, it helped to keep the mood a little lighter. I can remember several conversations over minimum rations.

“How much will Bryce loose today?” a security officer would ask.

“At least 0.5 kilos,” an engineer would reply grinning. “We’re doing repairs on the starboard computer core, six decks away from engineering.”

Of course, Bryce would be standing right there, “Aye! 0.5 kilos laddy? It’ll hav ta be more’en that! I need to find me a lass when we get back home.” At that point he would usually rub his stomach critically. “I’ll have to give up me friend here, but it’ll be worth it.”

I swear the man never stopped smiling. Made me want to kill him a few times, but I always ended up laughing too hard to do it. The crew loved him for it.

Anyways, Bryce managed to improve out impulse capacity by almost 30 percent. We had a lot more speed.

Of course, all that effort would have been completely wasted we if hadn’t found out one other detail.

You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned my first officer yet.

“Every Captain has his trusty Number One, right?”

Wrong. Oh, I had a Number One, he just wasn’t trusty. His name was Commander Grethon.

He came forwards and told me he’d done some undercover work a while back, Orion Syndicate type under cover work. He also told me he’d seen data on a base in this system. An old trading outpost not that far away.

He said he figured that if everybody was having the same problem we were, we could probably trade for some very much needed equipment.

I may not be the smartest man in the sector, but I’m no fool.

Some things are just plain stupid. Trading at a Syndicate outpost is one of them. Odd? Yes. Risky? Yes. Downright foolish? Yes. Did we have any other options? No.

“Captain, times are desperate right now. And when times are desperate, the desperate men get moving, and live. We’ve got no choice but to risk it,” was Grethon’s answer to the risky issue.

The area he was talking about had been wiped from out database by the star, but he was a Starfleet Officer, and I was a Starfleet Officer. We trusted each other.

So we set a course. I had to ignore the little voice in my head telling me this was very, very stupid.

It took us 6 months at maximum impulse. I don’t know how exactly we survived.

When we came into the vicinity, we hailed them. They admitted to having received reports from some ships of theirs that they were having the same problems.

We informed them of our needs, and they said they could help. In return, they wanted some subspace transmitting gear. They had the power to try and transmit, but didn’t have some of the necessary equipment. We said we could help them too, and headed in.

We approached like idiots, shields down, weapons unpowered.

We were just within transporter range when everything went wrong. Almost all power died on us in an instant.

Bryce started running around between consoles again, I yelled at him to tell me what happened. Bryce just shrugged that he had absolutely no idea.

“Tactical, can we get any power to weapons or shields?” I asked, not looking back.

“Shields are out of the question, sir. They require too much power to activate, we’re running on bare minimums right now. Besides, their weapons are powered, they could easily destroy us if we try and raise shields,” he said, rapidly tapping in commands.

“But weapons?” I asked.

He shook his head, “This isn’t going to be easy sir, I’m working on draining power from some of the photon torpedo drive and guidance systems, I might, I stress might, be able to get you enough power to fire a couple shots.”

“Good enough, keep going. I’ll try and stall them as much as possible,” I said.

I just waited, guessing what was coming next. I was right.

We were hailed less than thirty seconds later. The same man I’d spoken to earlier came on screen. I glared at him. “Why?” was all I said.

“Desperate times, Captain,” he responded calmly, if a little sadly. “I’m a desperate man.”

That was very odd. I jerked a hand to mute the channel.

“Computer, locate Commander Grethon.”

“Commander Grethon is in comm.-lab one,” the Computer responded.

The picture suddenly jumped into very clear focus, and a few things made sense.

I turned to my Security Chief.

“Lock out Commander Grethon’s codes immediately!” He complied without question. “Tactical, status of those torpedoes?”

“Almost ready, looks like we’ll get three shots,” he said.

“Prepare to fire them all simultaneously,” I ordered. Bryce’s head jerked up suddenly.

“Cappin, I dun believe it! That Grethon just entered a command to transport the entire crew to the base, and several people off the base to here!”

“I believe it. We’ve been sold out. Security, get Commander Grethon to the bridge,” a detachment was sent immediately. “Tactical, get those torpedoes ready. I have a feeling that base isn’t going to like us finding their man.” Fortunately, it looked like the base didn’t know about our plan yet, their shields were unpowered. Unfortunately, we still had virtually no power either, but Bryce was working on that.

Commander Grethon was dragged onto the bridge, his uniform askew, his comm.-badge gone, and his lips very tight.

“Got anything you’d like to admit to, Commander?”

He didn’t respond. He didn’t have to.

“Captain, the base is locking weapons,” my Tactical Chief reported.

“Lock torpedoes,” I ordered.

As soon as he heard that, Grethon looked up sharply. “What!? No! You can’t!”

“They’re preparing to fire,” Tactical warned.

“Them, or us,” I said to Grethon coldly holding his eyes. “I choose them. Fire.”

I swear to you, I may forget dates, I may forget times, but I will never forget the scream Grethon let out as he saw those torpedoes streak towards the station. It seemed they stuck him, not the base, I couldn’t understand why, they had just been Syndicate men.

The base exploded, they didn’t even see what hit them. I advanced on Grethon.

“Let me tell you something,” I was seething. “I don’t appreciate being sold out!”

“Captain?” my Tactical Officer said.

“I don’t appreciate getting back-stabbed, so you are going to tell me everything! From how you disabled us,” I continued, ignoring my Tactical Chief.

“Captain?”

“To how you got those friends to,” I kept yelling.

“Captain!” he got my attention this time. He was staring in horror at his console. I noticed then that the lights had come back on, power had been restored.

He looked up at the screen, and just shook his head, his mouth hanging open. The rest of my bridge crew was having the same reaction.

The security officers had let Grethon drop to the floor, he lay there in a fetal position, sobbing.

I looked at the screen myself. One other thing I will never forget is the feeling of horror that hit me when I looked at that cursed viewing screen.

My eyes found not the wreckage of an Orion Syndicate base, but the remains of a Federation orbital station.

I just stared for well over five minutes, that’s all anyone could do as the station drifted apart.

“God help us,” was all I could gasp out.

Grethon had tricked us into going there, had planned that from the beginning. He had time to create a program to do everything from fooling our sensors, to powering down the ship.

The people he tried to transport to the Arimaga? His wife, his son, and his daughter.

He had planned to leave my crew and myself on the station, and head back to earth with his family. He had calculated out the supplies, they were enough for four people to reach home safely.

Three of them are dead now, along with the other people that were on that station, condemned by fate, and me, but mostly me.

I know what some will say, “You were tricked! You aren’t to blame! What could you do?”

Well, tell that to the families of the officers, and civilians who were working on that station. Tell that to the people who’s deaths I ordered.

What else could I have done? I could have done the right thing. I could’ve taken the moral high-road, and simply left the station in its peace.

But, then again, I am Rick Farchess, and I am nothing more than scum.

Starfleet tracked us down, condemning us as murders and brigands the whole way.

I can’t say I blame them. They didn’t have the whole story, but it wouldn’t have mattered. They had too much to deal with, too many other problems to sort this one through when the answer, that we had intentionally attacked the station for unknown reasons, seemed so obvious.

I set my crew in escape pods so they could get away, and waited. I deserved whatever came, not them.

I’m sitting in my observation lounge, watching an Intrepid class ship power its torpedo launchers from a safe distance. I will be dead within minutes.

Why am I writing this?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not keeping track of that either. Doesn’t really matter.

My one hope is that someday, someone might read this, and see my side of it, and perhaps, in some small way, find a way to forgive my mistake.

And finally, I want to apologize to the families and friends of the people that were on that station. I make no excuse, and I give you no reasoning. I cannot blame another, not even Grethon. Their blood is on my hands. Take that as you will.

This is Rick Farchess, scum bag, criminal, mass murderer, former Starfleet Captain, a failure to his crew, and soon to be dead man, hoping someone will eventually learn from my many errors, my many mistakes. Farewell.

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