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Admiral Harmon

Star Trek: Peacekeepers (S1E2: The Ruins of Empire - Act 1, Part 2)

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Set 10 years after the Shinzon Crisis*, Captain Lillian Traz is tasked to patrol the borders of Federation space. With her Norway-Class USS Wayne her crew and she will keep the peace by making sure Romulans stick on their side of the Neutral Zone and that their own planets play nice.

Episode List:

1: A New Peace (Pilot) - Lieutenant Commander James Enviro, one of the few survivors of the doomed USS Perspective, is assigned to be the First Officer of the USS Wayne, just in time to help bring an end to an allied world's terrorist problems.

2: The Ruins of Empire - A Romulan ship declocks in Federation territory, and the Wayne investigates what it is doing there.

3: Sessions

4. Unexpected Bells

5: Cat and Mouse

6: A Time and Place

7: Hollow Realities

8: The Other Woman

9: A Holographic Defense

10: Stepping into Shadows

 

*Note- This is set in a universe that more closely follows what most likely would have happened post-Nemesis then my own Invincible Series would have.

Edited by Admiral Harmon

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Episode 1: A New Peace

 

Teaser

 

Captain’s Log – Stardate 65978.128: The USS Perspective has made it to Betazed just fine. The dilithium chamber is continuing its downward spiral, but Starbase 19 does have the parts that’s needed to replace the crystals.

 

The small bridge of the Perspective at times felt claustrophobic, especially at times there were problems with the engines. The chief engineer liked to oversee his engineering team from the bridge, to keep out of their way. Yet, it added even more people to the bridge and Lt. Commander James Enviro always felt like there were too many hands on deck as there were, especially since the Chief Engineer liked to talk…..and talk he did!

His current target was the Lt. Commander, who was just trying to focus on his science station. There was an unusually high amount of a chrotonite radiation about a thousand kilometers off the port-bow. Yet even as his hands scanned the new data, he couldn’t focus on what was on the screen.

“I’m really serious,” the Chief Engineer was saying animatedly, hovering over the science station, patting the top of the console station. His fingers kept falling the top of the screen, obscuring the data.  “You can really see the change in technology over a very couple of decades in Earth history.”

“Uh-huh,” James said, his eyes jumping back to where he had just read a few seconds ago. Why couldn’t the man just shut up?

“Oh yeah!” the man said, continuing his patting on the consoles top. “Especially in car engines. While they remain same in concept, within about….oh….sixty years, they were lightyears ahead in elegance! All you need to do is come to the holodeck sometime and we can really get into it! I can show you all….”

“As much as I am sure that we are all delighted by your conversation with the Science Officer,” Captain Gett said, swerving in his chair to face the science station, “I would appreciate you confine your conversation to official ship business. I realize we are coming up to the space station but there is no need to bother him.”

“Aye, Captain!” the Chief Engineer said with a snap of his finger. “I’ll get right on down there. Nothing like the personal one over. How are those repairs going and all that, see if we can further along the repairs when we get into space dock.”

James didn’t look up as the other man hurried off the bridge, the door whooshing open to allow the man to make his way to the turbolift at the end of the corridor. The readings were becoming stronger and more stable, yet he wasn’t sure it was anything that needed to be worried about.

“Helm,” the Captain called out to the helm station at the front of the bridge. “How much longer until we can surrender control to the base?”

“Four minutes sir,” the young ensign reported, his purple hair and flat ears indicative of his race.

“Very good,” the Captain said, “Commander Enviro, what status on the radiation you picked up?”

A quick look showed that it was now all but solid. “It’s become more solid sir,” he replied, “But it is well away from us sir. I do not think it is a problem.”

“Very good,” the Captain said, “Number One, what do you say we go ahead and…..”

“Transwarp conduit opening!” Tactical suddenly barked.

“Where?” the First Officer demanded.

“Mark 4.9.002 sir.”

Wait…..wasn’t that the area the chrotonite buildup was? James looked over the data, and saw as the radiation seemed to part, creating a large circular disc in the fabric of space. How was this happening? Surely that wasn’t the radiation that preceded the opening of a transwarp conduit.

“Onscreen,” the Captain ordered.

James glanced up at the screen as everyone else did. His heart stopped in his chest. Helm cursed, the words not translating in the Universal Translator. Yet a few words came to mind for him as well, some that wouldn’t translate as well.

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ship. Your biological and technological distinctions will be added to our own. You will service us.”

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Act 1

 

Two months later….

 

“Captain Lillian Traz,” Admiral Nechayev said, the screen showing her face perfectly. “I want to congratulate you.”

“Admiral?” the thirty-seven year old captain asked. She had out of the blue gotten a priority message from Starfleet, which generally didn’t happen to her. Her ship was not exactly the Enterprise.

“The Captain of the Jonestown was wounded in battle with the Borg during the Battle of Vulcan and is retiring,” the Admiral said. “He has requested your First Officer replace him.”

“Commander Mead has been itching for the chance to get a ship of her own,” Traz replied, “I will pass along the offer, but I do not suspect she will have any objections.”

“You have a record amount of First Officers that are requested to take over ships when their captains are leaving,” the Admiral mused. “It’s at what, seven so far?”

“Eight actually,” Traz corrected.

“What is your secret?” the Admiral asked.

“It’s quiet simple ma’am,” the Captain said with a disarming smile. “A good mixture of motherly advice and Starfleet regulations will do that for a person.”

The Admiral laughed, her crisp voice sounding commanding even as she laughed. Traz liked Nechayev, a woman of pure business and didn’t need to be told her duty. She hoped she could be like that someday, perhaps without the reputation of ice that had grown around the other woman.

“Sector Admiral Davees will be rendezvousing with you in three days and he will be informing Commander Mead of her assignment,” the Admiral informed her. “He’ll also be giving you the current list of eligible officers to be your new second-in-command.”

“Understood, Admiral,” Traz said and with that, they communication ended.

Traz stared at the black screen for a few seconds. She was a 37-year-old Betazoid, having grown up with humans her entire life, as her adopted parents were from Luna Colony. She didn’t need her telepathic powers, which were undeveloped for the most part, to read how her First Officer would react to news of the offer. She did have a good record of getting officers into commands of their own. However, just once, she wished these first officers lasted more than a year.

With a sigh, she tapped the commbadge on her chest. Well, there was no use putting it off.

-----------------

Admiral Davees had a face that screamed that he hadn’t been loved as a child. It drooped from both sides with more then enough extra skin that one could make a face-mask out of it. Combine that with the massive paunch that threatened to breakout of his dress tunic, the newer uniform of gold pauldrons sewn into a red command vest and he looked like a human elderly-Ferengi. He rested in the chair opposite the desk that Captain Traz sat at, a broad grin on his face.

“Well my dear,” he said affably. “It has been far too long since we last talked.”

“Indeed, Admiral,” she said genially back. “Not since I graduated from the Academy.”

The older man nodded his head. “You were the brightest cadet I ever had the pleasure of seeing graduate,” he said with a satisfied sigh. “Not the top of your class but by far the brightest. Pushing the boundaries of acceptability, but not in the worst way. And you have produced excellent first officers who have served as good captains. You must be very proud.”

“Thank you, sir,” Traz replied, although she didn’t feel quiet as happy at the compliment. “I hope that all my officers show just as much promise as my first officers.”

The Admiral didn’t realize that she had become defensive as if implying her other officers weren’t up to the same quality as her first officers. He waved his hand vaguely in agreement. He pulled out a data PADD and placed it on the desk, pushing across to her. She picked it up, and saw a long list of Commander who were ready replacements.

“The list of a dozen officers that are all ready to make you good first officers,” he said, “I’ve arraigned them with the ones I feel would serve you best at the top of the list. Very good records and good service.”

“Commander Jennifer Pennyworth of the Offspring,” she said, reading them aloud, “Terry Breaks of the Farpoint. Dax Verry of the Outpost. These are the ones you feel are the very best for my ship?”

The Admiral nodded, a broad smile on his face. “You may choose someone else on the list, of course, but as you know, the better the record, the better they are able to serve,” Davees said.

She nodded as Davees stood up. “It was good to see you Captain,” he said with his broad smile stuck on his face, “Now, if you will excuse me, I must brief your First Officer on her new assignment. I’ll be leaving tomorrow, so let me know by 0830 hours of your selection.”

“Very good, sir,” she said, standing up as he did. “I am also glad that we were able to speak. I promise you I will have my selection by tomorrow.”

------------------------------------------

“We have Borg on all decks,” the Tactical officer shouted from his console. “Heavy fighting reported, but our crew is giving ground pretty fast.”

“We might have to separate the saucer section from the main hull,” the Captain said. Enviro could hear the edge in the Captain’s voice and turning to him, saw the sweat that was beginning to fall from the other man’s impeccably cut grey hair. “I want the option.”

“Sir,” James said, “I believe that if we were to send out a blast of white noise, it would hold back the Borg, perhaps severing their connection to the Borg sphere and their adaptive capabilities.”

“I like that idea!” The Captain slapped the comm button and they heard it chirping. “Bridge to Engineering. Engineering, respond!”

“Engineering has been overrun!” a very haggard voice of the Chief Engineer shouted back. “We fought as hard as we could but we weren’t able to hold onto……no….No….Stay away from….ARGH!”

“Mr. White?” The Captain inquired, repeating the words when no response was forthcoming. “Respond!”

James lowered his head into his hands and wiped the tips of his fingers hard against his eyes. It was so difficult not to have these flashbacks to that disastrous day. Every hour it seemed he was visited by those blasted images!

The Perspective was a Himalaya-Class Heavy Cruiser, with a crew compliment of 568. They had gone to Betazed with 560….and by the time they had escaped, only twelve had been left unassimilated or dead. The ship had been shattered, and what was left had been torn apart and shelled out to other Himalayas that needed refits. The Sphere had been destroyed, but not before taking out three Starfleet vessels and gutting most of Starbase 19.

However, James Enviro was doing well. He didn’t care that he kept getting flashed with images of that dreadful day, he was fine! He wasn’t going to tell those stuffy councilors about these! They were merely memories, nothing to cause them to pyscho-babble an analysis about how he had a fractured mind or some other nonsense.

“Jimmy!” a woman’s voice called out and he looked up, a smile breaking over his face. He stood up and taking three steps forward, threw his arms around the woman who had come running up to him. She stood a head shorter then he did, which was fine. He closed his eyes and breathed in the earthy scent of her dark hair, which was tied into an elaborate bun on the back of her head.

“Thanks for coming,” he said, leading her to the bench he had been sitting on. “I wasn’t sure you were going to come, Leslie.”

“I will always come for you,” she said with a smile, allowing herself to be pulled down. “So, what is it, love?”

“I have wonderful news!” he said excitedly.

She raised an eyebrow. “Oh?” she asked.

“Yeah!” he said, handing her the PADD that he had been reading. “Read this!”

She took the Padd with a confused look. She began to read, and James could feel himself on the edge of his seat. He was so excited, not sure he could contain himself any longer. She kept reading, her own smile dropping slowly as she read the words, turning into a frown. Yet his expectations were high, they were in love, and she would be able to join him on the ship!

She finished reading and looked up at him. “What is this?” she finally asked, her voice hard.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked laughing, mistaking her question as a joke. “I’ve been offered a position as First Officer. In three days the Wayne will show up here and pick us up. That’s right! I want you to come with me! We will explore the….”

“You can’t accept it,” she said, almost too soft to hear.

The glee in the Lt. Commander died out. “What?” he asked with a small giggle.

“Every time you go out to space it always ends in disaster,” Leslie said, shaking her head. “Turn down the promotion and stay here on Earth with me!”

James wasn’t sure he was hearing correctly. He was a Starfleet Officer. He had been since he joined the Academy at 18. For fifteen years he had served faithfully. He enjoyed being in Starfleet, no matter the risks involved.

“I’ve already sent my acceptance to the offer,” he said. Leslie stared at him in amazement. Then, she stood and began to walk away. “Wait!” he called out, confused by this reaction. “Leslie, what are you doing? Where are you going?” He caught up to her and grabbed her by the arm. “What is it?”

“What is the matter?” she asked as if he were being stupid. “This is the matter!”

She waved her hand all around, as if encompassing James in a magical wave. “You nearly died! You had the Borg all over you! It’s a miracle you even survived and you want to go back out there? DO you have a death wish, James Enviro?”

“You know full well the price that we might be called on to make,” James remarked, surprised by this emotional response. “In Starfleet we….”

“You are in Starfleet, I am not!” she retorted. “Look, I can’t go through this again. Twice now I’ve nearly lost you. It tears me up so much and you don’t seem to care. I’m sorry, but choose me or this assignment. You can’t have both.”

“But I do….” James said although he wasn’t sure what he was going to actually say. But the hesitation was all Leslie needed. Tears streamed from her eyes as she tore from his grasp and ran away from him, leaving him standing like a fool, not knowing what had just happened.

----------------------------

“Wake up! Wake up!”

The young human Ensign grunted, pulling the pillow from underneath him and flattening it on his head. He had a massive headache, between the very chesty Bajoran he had bedded the night before and the strong Romulan ale he had consumed. Why hadn’t the Federation kept it banned?

“Come on, Tyler!” another voice called out to him. “It’s our first day post-Graduation! We should be celebrating!”

“Go away!” he grumbled, his voice muffled by the pillow.

As if the Hand of God smashed into his bed, two heavy sets of feet landed on the foot of his bed, jumping up and down at different rhythms. He had no time to process this before the pillow was ripped off his head. He cried out, putting his hands to his face to block out the sun that seemed intent on murdering his brains with its rays.

“Come on,” one of his assailants said, poking him with a bony finger. “Spill the beans!”

“W-w-what beans are y-y-you talking abou-ut?” he stammered, hating every single one of the people in the room at the moment.

“’What beans’ he says,” the first voice, who was actually a woman said, at the same time as the words were said one of the feet stopped jumping. “You know exactly what he’s talking about. That Bajoran you scored with last night, silly!”

“Yeah,” the other person, still bouncing on his bed, “I saw a ring on her finger! That female was married, yes?”

“Y-y-yeah,” he finally said, squeezing his eyes almost shut as he finally pushed himself back away from the bouncing person. “So?”

“Honestly,” the second voice, who he could distinctly make out as a Trill male of about the same age. “You have to let me in on your secret. Every woman, and I mean every woman you decide to sleep with, always succumbs to your charms.”

The woman tisked. “I really don’t know how,” she said, her pointed ears and a little prominent brow showing a Romulan heritage. “You stammer like nobody’s business. I don’t know how you do it.”

“Hewmans should never have the same success with females as Ferengi,” the last person said, stopping jumping on the bed, instead moving to sit cross-legged on the bed.

Tyler grunted, his hang-over fogged brain not making connections to everything that was being said. They had decided to go clubbing after the graduation ceremony and he had indeed seen a woman at the bar. He had seen the ring on her hand but that hadn’t stopped him. There was a secret to his success with women, but he would never share. It wasn’t….appropriate to be that nice to even his best friends.

Yet the one that had just talked, who just so happened to be the second Ferengi to ever join Starfleet, seemed to take the grunt as an admission of the superiority of his race.

“That’s right!” he proclaimed, “We might have allowed them trading rights, but Ferengi females understand there is no profit in wearing clothing and resisting male advances. But you….you put even my father, Morg, to shame!”

He looked up at them, risking opening his eyes a little wider. They all looked at him expectantly. His mind still wasn’t working one hundred percent, but the longer his head was up, the clearer things became. Although, at this pace, he would finally be completely free only after he had grandchildren of his own!

“You all r-r-really didn’t j-j-just come to h-h-he-hear about my l-l-love life?” Tyler stammered out, “Wh-wh-what are you really d-d-doing here?”

The Trill male picked up a data PADD he had been carrying, although only now did the hung-over ensign notice it. He held it up triumphantly as if it were a prize most valuable. He didn’t need to ask though as the Trill was more then eager to say what it was.

“We got our duty assignments!” he said, and his grin was almost as bad as the murderous sun beams. “Drum roll please, Deatr!”

The Ferengi at once went into a drum roll on the bed, and the vibrations hit Tyler’s slush-feeling brains like a tidal-wave. Both hands went up to the side of his head and grabbed both sides of his skull, trying to keep his brain held in place. He gritted his teeth, hissing.

“Really?” he hissed, only to see the sharp-toothed grin of the demon-faced little toad.

“Ensign Tyler Daarth,” the Trill said, his voice taking on an announcer voice. “You have been assigned to the USS Wayne as Helmsman. Ensign Deatr, you have been assigned to Starbase 31 in Engineering.”

“There is no profit in sitting on a starbase,” the Ferengi grunted, “No female wants a starbase bound male.”

“Shut up,” the Romulan said, smacking him upside the head, “What about me?”

“Ensign Jennifer Bakara,” the young man continued, saying the last name all funny, “You have been assigned to Engineering on the USS Transfiguration.”

She uttered a swearword. “They know Science is my strong point!” she growled.

“And the very dashing Ensign Yedrin Perim,” the Trill said, smiling at his own narcissism comment, “Are assigned to Security on the USS Hollow Pursuit…..” he stopped, looking at it with sudden comprehension. “Wait….that’s my sister’s ship! You mean I’m going to have to take orders from my sister?!? She’s never let me forget that she served on the Enterprise!”

As the other talked excitedly among themselves, Tyler could only wonder what type of adventures he’d have on the USS Wayne. And which woman he’d get married to. His plan was to be married within six months of being on board. And with his secret success with women, he was certain he’d have no problems with it.

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Act 2

 

“Why the long face?”

The question didn’t revive James from the out-of-space manner he looked at the tall cup of synthahol. It did however cause him to run his hand through his hair. His mind had been blank, not a single thing going through his mind. It had been nice, until the jerk had started talking.

“I don’t have a long face,” he replied, trying to keep the sourness in his voice to a minimal.

The bartender snorted. He had six arms, four engaged in carrying drinks to patrons and the other two writing down orders on what looked like an actual pad of pen and paper. He had a round head that looked like the glass ball off a snow-globe and his body was long and slender enough to match the many arms.

“I have lived for near four centuries and you don’t live as long as I do and work in the hospitality business without seeing the same eyes in thousands of people,” the bar tender replied, his voice a low growl. It wasn’t threatening or anything like that, it was just how he sounded. “So out with it. I’m not getting any younger and you aren’t getting any prettier sitting around like a moping Telarite house-wife.”

He didn’t know why it was funny, but James couldn’t stop a snort of laughter. Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t any good sitting around moping. Perhaps it was okay to open up just a tiny bit. Just a little bit.

“My girlfriend, well, my fiancé you could say,” he finally shook his head. “We’ve been together that….well, we had been together long enough. She dumped me yesterday.”

“Whatcha do?” the bartender asked, sitting a cup right infront of a human who seemed to actually be drunk.

James raised his hands up in despair. “I got promoted,” he said.

A small pause hung in the air as the multiple-armed bartender hesitated, taking that in. “I guess she wanted you not to take it and you did anyways,” he finally said, moving to the next person with their drink.

“I was at Betazed a few months back during the Borg attack and I survived!” he said, clenching his fists together. “She didn’t want that though. Seemed to think that the job…..well, I don’t know! She knew the risks, she understood them…”

“Hypothetically,” the bartender interrupted.

“Excuse me?”

“Hypothetically,” he repeated. “She understood the risks in a hypothetical way. As something that may happen, but probably wouldn’t. When it was something that was only a hypothetical reality, she could accept it.”

“If she can accept it the one way,” James asked, scowling, “Why can’t she accept it when it really happens?”

“Almost every human I’ve met can accept something when it’s only a possibility,” the bartender explained, sitting the last two drinks down for the customers. “Reality is a lot tougher to comprehend and understand. It actually shows them that the possibility actual is grounded in fact. It’s much harder when you are faced with the fact you can actually have whatever it is happen.”

James rested his chin on his fist, his unfinished drink completely forgotten. “It should be just as easy to accept the two of them,” he shook his head.

“Nah,” the bartender shook his head. He set all six of his hands on the bar infront of him. “That is why it is best to search for a partner that actually is a part of the same line of work. Oh sure, people think they can understand, but only those who are also in the same line of work can ever truly get what is happening in your life.”

James mulled it over. “So what you are saying is that I just need to get off my lazy kiester and find someone in Starfleet as well,” he mused.

“I’m not saying anything,” the bartender gave a tight smile, “I’m just a bartender taking orders.”

James couldn’t help but smile at that. Sure, it had only been a short talk, but he already felt better. Sure, he was still five shades of shock at the loss of the woman he had considered would be his forever, but that was how life went. The bartender made a grunting sound and looking up, James saw the man jerking his head meaningfully. However, what it was for he had no idea.

“Lieutenant Commander?” a female voice asked and he turned to see a human female of about three years his junior step up to him. “Are you Lt. Commander Enviro?”

“Yeah,” he said, turning his full attention to her. He spotted the full third pip on her collar and he straightened. “And you are, ma’am?”

“Commander Laurel Mead of the USS Wayne,” she said, holding out her hand to him. “You are my replacement.”

“Commander!” James said with renewed surge of excitement, taking her proffered hand. She had a firm grip, something he liked. He had never liked those who had dead-fished their handshakes. “I am glad to see you.”

“Soon it’ll be Captain Mead,” she replied, her dark complexion seeming to be much more in place with the dark lighting of the bar. “If you would follow me, I have a booth in the corner that I’d like us to sit and discuss your upcoming assignment on the Wayne. Let you know what to expect from the crew and captain.”

“That’s a little unusually, ma’am,” he said, grabbing his cup and following her. The bar wasn’t exactly crowded that particular evening, and although he had a few inches on her, they were able to wend an easy path, even with her taking the lead. “I was under the impression that it’s the Captain that does that particular duty.”

She shrugged her shoulders, “Trust me,” she said, “It’s usually not the case. But the Commander who was before me, Commander Monitor, he did the same thing for me. And trust me, you’ll be glad that I told you.”

“Why?” James asked. “Is it bad or something on there?”

“Oh no,” she laughed, “But the Captain is an acquired taste to be sure.”

An acquired taste? The last time he had heard that, James had been listening to a rather raunchy holo-novel with Leslie. Although he highly doubted she meant it in those terms. At least, he really hoped not.

“How so?” he asked.

They reached the booth near the corner, and she motioned him to take a seat on the right side of the table. “You’ll find out,” she said slyly, taking a seat as well.

Oh great. He hadn’t even been on the ship yet and he was already getting the ‘you’ll find out’ routine.

---------------

The hard-case luggage-case hung stiffly to his side, all the possessions he ever had in the world stuck into something no more than .61 meters box. He was much more jittery then he had ever assumed. Perhaps it was the fact that less then three days after knowing his first assignment, he was already heading through the corridor to the open air-lock. Two others were walking towards the open door, talking amiably to each other.

If only the young Ensign didn’t feel so jittery. His fingers were clutched in a death grip to the strap of the case and he could feel himself paling ever so slightly with each step. Couldn’t at least one of his friends been assigned to the ship as well? He could have used a friend to steady his nerves.

His feet faltered just outside the open airlock. Was this really what he wanted? He got the feeling that it was a mouth, ready to swallow him whole….

“Get moving, puny human,” a voice growled and he felt a hand push him forward.

He glanced back, very annoyed. Then, he saw what it was. A small, lumpy Tellarite female, with a face that could have soured curdled milk. His anger turned into sheepish mutterings. Turning away, he shuffled into the opened airlock.

“Ensign,” a tall security officer with darkened skin said, looking down at him. “Are you lost?”

“N-n-no sir,” Tyler said, and with shaking hands, handed over the data PADD that he had been clamping to his side with his free arm. “E-en-en-ensign Tyler D-d-daarth. Th-th-these are are my tr-tr-transfer orders.”

“I’m just a security officer,” the human said, his dark skin conflicting with his yellow colored uniform. “You will proceed to the board room on deck seventeen. Head right down the corridor and at the end you will come across three turbolifts. Take the left one, because it goes up to that deck and will put you near the board room. Then wait there for the current duty officer, Security Chief Z’org to see you. Understand?”

“I-I-I understand, sir,” Tyler said, stammering still uncontrollably. “T-t-turbolift at the end end of the co-co-corridor. Me-me-meeting room and, uh um, wait for…..C-c-chief Z’org.”

The human raised both of his eyebrows but nodded. Hoisting the case to his side, he made his way down the corridor. Well, at least he was on board. Now he just had to make it to the turbolift. Not that hard, and once he was stepped in, he took a deep sigh and blew out.

“Deck 17,” he called out. It was so much easier to speak when there wasn’t anyone around that he had to talk to. Machines were so easy and simple compared to the real world and people.

--------------------------

The Commander stepped through the open airlock, and he was greeted by perhaps the singular most ugliest being he had ever seen. Before him, standing like something out of Prehistoric Earth, was a reptilian creature, standing at nearly seven feet tall. His dark scales made his raptor like features all the more dangerous looking.

“Lt. Commander Z’org, I presume,” James said, holding out his hand. “Commander Enviro, your new first officer.”

“Ssssir,” the Gorn hissed, holding out his own hand, the claws retracting just enough to keep him from penetrating the skin of the Commander. Yet his grip was insanely strong and as they gripped, he saw the Gron’s eyes narrow almost to closing. James didn’t look away, but kept the grip as tight as he could to. They stood there for a few seconds, staring at each other, not breaking contact. James could feel the muscles bruising on his hand and wasn’t sure he could hold the grip any longer when the Gorn bowed his head and let go of him.

“Thisss one is honored to have you aboard, Ssssir,” Z’org replied. “The Captain issss expecting you in her ready room.”

“Lead the way, Lt. Commander,” James said, motioning to allow the Gorn to lead them.

With a hiss, the Gorn turned and began to stalk down the corridor, James needing to keep long strides to keep at his side. As they walked, James ran over the information he had been given by the Commander Mead. She had been pretty general with most of the specs and the overall crew.

The USS Wayne was a Norway-class Medium Cruiser. It only had 190 officers and crew although up to 500 civilians could be transported if need be. At 364.77 meters long with a beam of 225.61 meters and only 56.48 meters high, it wasn’t exactly a Galaxy-Class when it came to room. It could push Warp 9.7 for 12 hours, which was pretty standard.

However, it was well-equipped despite its size. With six type-10 phaser emitters and two torpedo launchers, it was capable of fighting against a Cardassian Galor-class and give it a run for its money. Yet, it wasn’t meant for continuous combat, which wasn’t exactly the nature of their missions.

“I was surprised when I found out about you, Lt. Commander,” he said, as they approached a turbolift.

“Oh?” Z’org asked, the turbolift door sliding open for them. They easily fit into the round room, even with the Gorn’s very tall frame. The door slid shut and the Gorn lifted his head and said, “Bridge.”

“I did not realize that any Gorn were serving in Starfleet,” James admitted. “Are you the only one?”

The Gorn shook his head. “No, ssssir,” he replied. “Thisss one issss the only one from Clan L-Jor, but there isss one other. R’Kar from Clan H-Marlo ssserving on the USSsss Kahn Noonien Ssssingh. But no, the Gorn do not sssserve the Federation.”

“Then why you?” James asked, scratching his chin. Where had all these whiskers come from? He’d shave after talking with the Captain. Not the best way to make a good first impression to the Captain. “Why did you join Starfleet?”

“Assss the Vulcanssss would ssssay,” the Gorn hissed, “It wassss logical at the time. Why did you join, Commander?”

An odd expression, but if the Gorn wanted to keep his secrets to himself. That was fine. “It was also logical at the time,” he replied and the Gorn hissed, although it sounded like he was hiccupping. Was the lizard actually laughing.

“Very good, ssssir,” the raptor said, his lips cracking in a wide smile. “You are the firssst pink-ssskin Firssst Officer who wasss male ssssince thisss one joined the ship. Thisss one was afraid you’d be humorlessss.”

Well, a compliment. “I was afraid you’d just eat me on sight, Lt.” he rejoined.

“Not today,” the Gorn said, his voice turning serious. “Maybe tomorrow.”

------------------

“Is that right, Mr. Mclintock? You begrudge us a little free land?”

“There is no such thing as free land. You make these homesteads go, you will have learned every acre of it. But you just can’t make them go on the Mesa Verde! God made that country for buffalo.”

The door chimed and Captain Trez remained seated, watching the ancient Earth movie playing on her wall-console. She continued watching the Ancient West setting, the men in almost exact duplicate hats and the expressions on their faces as they interacted with the environment.

“And even the government should know that you can’t farm….”

The door chimed again and she sighed. So much for relaxation. “Enter,” she called out, not turning her attention away from the movie. The door opened and she glanced at the strapping early thirties First Officer who stepped in. He had a beard growing along his chin but it did nothing to diminish the angular face, the strong cheekbones, the built frame.

“Commander James Enviro, reporting for duty, ma’am,” he said, handing out a data PADD.

“Please Commander,” she said, holding out her hand to shake his other hand. He extended it, and she saw the Borg implant that was two inches long on his wrist, like a sliver of metal. That was why she had extended her hand, so she could see for herself. “I’m Lillian when we are alone.”

“Okay….Lillian,” he said, seeming a tad uncomfortable. He glanced sideways at the movie still playing and he tilted his head. “What is that?”

“One of my favorite parts of this movie,” Traz said with a smile. She sat on the edge of the desk, watching the movie play out.

“Any trouble Mr. McLintock?”

“No trouble Jeff.”

“And you, Douglas?”

“Douglas? Just plain Douglas eh? And you call him Mister McLintock! Why?”

“Well Douglas, I guess it’s because he earned it.”

“Movie?” he asked, frowning. “I am not sure I follow.”

Traz looked at him skeptically. “Please tell me you aren’t one of those Terrans who grew up without ever watching a movie!” she said, staring at the screen. “The old art of movies from Earth showed a time when people could have fun, making entertainment that wasn’t involving a holodeck. The time and effort put into them were amazing by our standards of immediate gratification. Humanity I feel lost something when it ditched the cinema.”

She could feel that Commander Enviro wasn’t getting what she was talking about. “I mean, just look at that man there!” she said, pointing to a man on the screen. “You will never find a more perfect specimen of the Terran form then the Duke.” She looked at him, to see the Commander turn to her with a blank look. “The Duke…….John Wayne? One of the greatest actors of the 20th Century? Acted, produced and directed in the same film?” When he still gave her a blank look she rolled her eyes.

“Computer, pause movie,” she called and the screen froze. “Honestly Commander, why do you even think this is called the Wayne? Did you think I named it after that emotionally disturbed bat-crusader Bruce Wayne?”

“Bruce Wayne?” James asked and Traz’s head fell forward in shame.

“Let me guess,” she sighed, her head hanging, “You never read any comicbooks or played any video games either.”

James shrugged. “By the Rings of Betazed!” she exclaimed, throwing up her hands, “I would just like once for a Terran to actually know their own pop culture that wasn’t set in this century. I mean, I only grew up on Luna Colony with human adoptive parents and yet I know more of Earth’s pop culture than most Terran’s do.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” he said.

“What ever,” she waved her hand. “So, are you ready to join us on our mission? You know what the mission is, yes?”

James nodded. They were to patrol the border along the Romulan-Federation, keeping the peace while exploring if they had the chance. She liked how he was already on board.

“You must be wondering why I choose you,” she said, sliding back into her chair. She motioned for the other chair, and waited until he had seated himself.

He shrugged. “I was surprised,” he admitted, “I don’t exactly have a track record of having ships outlast my service on them.”

“Even Admiral Davees tried persuading me that you are not that good an officer to have, that you are a Jonah,” she said, then stopped. At least let her First Officer understand the reference! “You do at least get what a Jonah is? Good. The fact is, you have outlasted doomed ships. You are charmed and I hope some of your good luck will rub off. With the Borg incursions having increased to every couple of months and the Romulans getting a little too antsy, I need someone who has been in a lot of combat situations and can keep cool under fire. I admit, my own combat experience is far less than yours, but I know I can count on you.”

Commander Enviro has a smile that broke across his face. He had a very nice smile, it worked wonders for him. “I’ll do my best to be worthy of that trust, Captain Traz,” he said, “Is that all?”

“I do want you to meet with the ships Councilor,” Traz said. He was about to object but she raised her hand. “Your councilor down at Starfleet Medical in San Francisco forwarded her findings and said it would be best that you meet with Council Ziz. You have been through a lot and I don’t want you being unable to perform because you haven’t been seeing her. It will be a condition for your serving onboard the Wayne.”

She could see the annoyance in his eyes. The warring emotions. She knew such things could be hard to talk about, but she had a crew to think about. She needed her First Officer to be emotionally capable of doing his duty. There was no room for pride on her ship.

“Alright, ma’am,” he said finally, his nostrils flaring. “Anything else?”

“Yeah,” she said, with a sly grin. “Keep the beard.”

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I do actually have the entire episode completely written. I'll uploaded the entire thing tonight after I get home from work!

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Act 3

 

Captain’s Log – Stardate 66139.79: Our next assignment from Starfleet Command has come in. This will be a very good way for the crew responds to my new first officer and how he gels with the rest of the senior staff. I look with great anticipation to the outcome.

 

“This is our first meeting as a senior officer staff which works since this will be Commander Enviro’s first full day with us,” Traz said to the gathered officers. “I won’t go around and introduce you all to him, as he has read all your files and knows who you are, even though you haven’t met before. This morning we received orders from Admiral Picard. Japori II has for a couple of months now undergone terrorist activities. They are not members of the Federation, but we have been asked to intervene.”

“Sounds simple enough, Captain,” James said, shrugging his shoulders. “Seems a menial task. We should be able to get in and get out pretty quickly.”

“Commander, you simply are underestimating terrorists if you think it’s a walk in the park,” the Chief Engineer, a Bajoran male that looked to be in his mid-twenties said. “Terrorists are like rocks. The more rocks you pull out of the ground, more rise to the surface. My father always said, the only way to kill a terrorist is by burning the forest around them and hoping they are stuck in the middle.”

“What type of terrorism are we talking about?” the Science Officer a Terran of Greek descent asked, her earlobe length hair five degrees of curls.

“Japori II has been suffering from a plague the past two years,” Traz said, pointing to the main console screen behind her. Pictures began streaming of the suffering of the people, in all manners of the stages of illness. “Roughly fifteen percent of the seventeen millions inhabitants are sick. The plague is lethal and they have no cure yet. Part of the problem is that the targets of most of the terrorist attacks are hospitals and CDC centers on the planet. Shipments of medicine are targeted. They’ve begun having to put the research centers in military bases in hopes that the armed presence is enough to dissuade them.”

The Chief Medical Officer, a Vulcan of about thirty-seven years, put her fingers together in confused contemplation. “There is no logic to attacking the very places that could cure them of the plague,” she said. “Would the terrorists not wish to keep the researchers off limits?”

The Bajoran snorted. “Terrorists? Logic?” he balked at the idea. “Doctor T’Lal, dealing with these scum can only be done by throwing out logic.”

Traz glanced sideways at her second-in-command to see his reaction to these proclamations by the Bajoran. She knew well the history of Sele Kol, and that he had little love for his fellow Bajorans. It made him an outcast, along with his alternate upbringing. That was not in his official files, and she wondered how he’d interact and approach the topic with Lt. Commander Sele.

“They are much like Gorn in thissss regard,” Z’org interjected. “The Gorn consssider everything the enemy hasss asss fair prey. If it can help the enemy fight, it mussst be dessstroyed.”

“Look,” she held up her hands to forestall any other discussion on the virtue of terrorism or lack thereof. “The Red Arrow has arrived and Gondor has called for aid. We ride out to assist them.”

“Red Arrow and Gondor?” James asked, frowning.

She was saved from having to reply by the Science Officer. “She is making a reference to the Lord of the Rings,” she replied. “The Red Arrow was a summons from the country of Gondor to its closest ally.”

He nodded his head, although Traz’s empathic abilities (which were far more developed then her telepathic ones) could tell he was still confused. She would have to give him a reading list or something if they were to serve together.

“Doctor T’Lal,” she said, turning her attention to the Vulcan. “I want you to get in contact with their head researchers and start working on the cure for the virus here on the Wayne. The terrorist activities are on the ground so you won’t need to worry about them blowing you up.”

The Vulcan nodded her head. She was a handsome woman, and if Traz was so inclined, she would have found her very enticing. Except for her cold detachment. She wasn’t sure that she could last such unfeeling in a relationship. Nope, she liked her men like she liked her stakes, warm and dripping red.

“It will take us how long to get there?” she asked.

“At Warp 8 we should be there in about seven days,” Traz answered.

“Lieutenant Commander,” she moved on to Sele, “I want you to work on a way to make sure that all communicators for any away team will have constant feed to the ship. As you can see from these other images,” she pushed a button and images shifted to those of terrain, “it’s a pretty stony covered planet. Much of the planets cities are underground and that’s where it’s assumed the terrorists are operating out of.”

“That won’t be a problem Captain,” he smiled, eager for the challenge. “I am sure I can find an EM band that can cut through the rock up to a kilometer into the surface.”

“Mr. Z’org,” she fixed her gaze on the Gorn. “I want you to study the footage of the terrorist attacks and all data they so far provided and see if you can find out a way to anticipate and counter them. Also, run your security through a few anti-terrorist drills.”

“Asss you wish,” the Gorn replied, “Yet my Ssssecurity officccersss do not ssspecializzze in thessse sssort of operationssss. Perhapssss we could bring on a company of MACO….”

“This is not a military vessel as I have told you multiple times!” she cut him off. “I don’t want no gun-ho cowboy wannabes on this ship. Understood?”

The Gorn hung his head in submission. She really hoped that was the end of the matter. He had only mentioned it at least once every pre-mission briefing. She really didn’t like it, because they weren’t technically at war with anyone and she didn’t want her vessel becoming a ferrying boat for those military types.

“Okay then,” she said, “Let’s get to it.”

-----------------

Tyler sat on the recliner, his body rigid and turned slightly as if he were about to be attacked. His hands trembled slightly and he wasn’t sure whether he was going to fall apart or liquefy. If there was any one who tried to shoot him, they’d find it difficult, because he was to skittish to hit.

“It’s okay to relax,” the young woman said, smiling at her skittish patient. “I don’t bite. My third host did bite people, it’s true, but what can you expect from a woman who married a Klingon!”

“I I I’m not nervous, Co-co-councilor!” Tyler said, looking sideways at the woman.

As part of his induction into the crew, it was mandatory he visit with the ships councilor. As soon as he had seen it was a woman, he figured she’d be easy to use his charms on. That was until he saw the spots that ran down both sides of her face and neck. She was a Trill and that automatically made him uncomfortable. His charms were strangely unaffected by Trills, especially Joined.

“Okay,” she said with a disarming smile, “If you say so. Well, ‘not nervous’ tell me then what you are wanting to get out of this.”

“O-o-out of what?” he asked, frowning.

“Your service in Starfleet, Ensign,” she chuckled. “Please, I’d like to hear. I read here that you are an orphan from Hamburg, Germany. Does that have any influence on what you wish to attain by Starfleet service?”

“W-w-well yes,” he said, working hard to unbend his rigid back and make himself comfortable. “I h-h-have always b-b-been an outsider, never r-r-really part of a-a-anything. So y-yeah. I g-guess you could say that I want to be part of something. I’d really like to get married.”

“Do you?” the councilor asked. “I am sure you have lots to offer but marriage? That actually doesn’t mean you will automatically will get married because you are in Starfleet.”

“I have a way with women,” Tyler said defensively. She raised an unbelieving eyebrow. “I do! Infact, I plan to be married within six months of being onboard ship.”

“My, aren’t we ambitious,” she said. “Well, I can say one thing, you are much more relaxed. It’s nice when you are.”

Tyler frowned, not sure what she meant. “You don’t stammer as much when you are talking about yourself,” she explained. “It’s an indication that you are comfortable.”

“O-o-oh,” he said, stammering again. “Y-y-you don’t s-s-say, C-c-counciler? I-I-I have always b-b-been more c-c-comfortable around w-w-women. T-t-to be sure.”

----------------

Traz looked at the young councilor, hardly believing she was only twenty-five. Traz had always been overwhelmed by the idea of trying to understand a woman who despite her age was the host of a symbiont that had already lived six lifetimes. Yet despite the young woman’s contradiction, literally a young person with an old soul, she found her to be a very good addition to the staff, even though she wasn’t senior staff.

“I have met with Ensign Daarth,” she explained, the Trill said, drumming her fingers on the table. She always had done so when talking with Captain Traz, and it was something that even after two years she had failed to stop herself. Traz assumed it had to be a carryover from a previous host.

“What is your impression of him?” she asked.

“He does stammer quite a bit,” the Councilor admitted, “Yet I think it’s defensive mechanism then anything else. A way to underplay his own intelligence. Infact, there came a point when he was talking about himself that he actually completely stopped. When I drew attention to that fact, he automatically reverted to it.”

Traz frowned. “Well, if it doesn’t interfer with his duties, he can stammer as much as he wants,” she shrugged.

“He thinks of himself as a lady killer and that somehow being onboard this ship will allow him a fast track to getting married,” she said.

“This isn’t some Twilight love story or love boat,” Traz said with a sniff. “As long as keeps his mind focused on his work when he is supposed to be working, I don’t care what his end goals are. So tell me Judy, what are your thoughts on our new First Officer?”

The councilor’s drumming stopped and she reached up and scratched her chin. Usually a sign that she didn’t exactly have the best of news. Traz raised an eyebrow, wondering what could possibly be so bad about James. He seemed a very devoted person, she really hoped his prior experiences aboard his prior ships hadn’t damaged him, at least not too badly.

“He actually hasn’t met with me yet,” she finally said.

Traz frowned at that. She had told him to meet with Councilor Ziz, why did he not? Perhaps he did not think that the Captain was serious. If he thought not, he had another thing coming. Traz was a very serious person. Handsome fool!

“He’s been through a lot,” she said finally. “Give him some time.”

Judy Ziz raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Time?” she said in surprised astonishment, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but it’s exactly for the reason that he’s been through a lot that has me concerned. On three ships, fifteen hundred crew, he is one of only about fifty survivors combined. We need to make sure he is component.”

Yes, yes, Traz knew all this. Yet this was not someone who struck her as derailed mentally. She would keep a close eye on him and at first sign of trouble, she would pull him out. But there was no time to push him, making him feel she did not trust him. She needed him comfortable with everyone, even the councilor.

“Give him a month,” she finally said. “If he doesn’t approach you by then, tell me. I will then make sure he sees you.”

The Councilor closed her eyes, her frustration clear to anyone with half a good eye. Luckily, she had two good eyes. Judy ZIz would do what she did best, be a good shoulder to lean on and a good whack around the forehead for those who thought too highly of themselves.

All Traz needed was a crew who would follow orders and do good jobs.

Act 4

 

“They’re heading for the turbo----ack!”

“I want all turbolifts locked down immediately!” the Captain shouted.

James was trying really hard. He was trying hard to keep his cool. This was not a time to panic. The entire bridge was now covered in a thick layer of smoke, but it stopped nothing from them seeing out of the cockpit to the USS Ro spiraling through space, parts of its saucer section ruptured. The Borg Sphere could be seen, trading fire from both the USS Darmok and the single remaining phaser bank of Starbase 19. However, they were all but out of the fight. All thirty-nine of their photon torpedoes had been fired and they were down to only two phaser banks left.

“I can’t shut them down!” the engineering officer on the bridge reported with his panic level rising with every second. “I’m locked out of turbolift control.”

“Here they come!” the relief security officer barked aloud. The Security Chief had gone down below…..and that was the last they had heard of the man.

James turned to the two turbolifts at the back and saw the lights glowing as the turbolifts made their ascent. He grabbed the phaser and pointed it at the one to the right. This was really going to suck.

The Commander gasped, shooting up in his bed. The dream had been so vivid, so frightening, that he had forced himself awake. It was something he had learned to do as a child. And was he ever so glad that it still worked now.

His heart was racing, so with hand pressed against his thundering chest, he stood up and made his way to the sink next to the bathroom. The cool water and the splashing against his face helped fight off the wave of nightmarish images that had plagued him that night.

James stared down at his hand, and the sliver of Borg tech that stuck out from his wrist. One two inch long piece, with two smaller half-inch ones, one to either side of the long one. He closed his eyes, pushing his fingers against his eyes. So many dead. So many….

“No!” he growled, clenching his fist.

He soon found himself in the corridor, wandering the quiet lengths of the late night. Few people were up and about, and as such he didn’t see too many people who would question his off-duty clothing. It was the modern style silk tunic that showed a good amount of his chest and the knee length shorts. He had decided to go without shoes, not even socks. He wasn’t going to need to run or anything, and he always had enjoyed the feeling of the hard carpets of Starfleet ships on his feet.

The Commander hadn’t been an insomniac as a child. He had been one of those who could never be woken up. His parents had joked that he was a walking zombie, because even when he had been awake, he had always been daydreaming. Daydreaming about space. The adventures that he would have.

What he had found was a lot more terrifying then even the worst horror holonovels he had read as a child. His first ship, the Redemption, had been lost at the Battle of Tyra in 2375, with only sixteen crew being saved by the Destiny. Less than a full year on the ship, he had lost six hundred crewmates. His second ship, the Disaster had been damaged beyond repair in 2380, when the ship had been ambushed by three Romulan warbirds during a border war fought between them and the Federation. He had been one of sixty to survive, although the ship had been mothballed because of the damage to her. Then there had been the Perspective, eight long and good years. Until that day….

James at length found himself Engineering, where he was surprised to find someone else up that late. “Lt. Commander Sele,” he said, the younger man bent over a work station. “I didn’t expect to see you up this late.”

“Commander!” Sele said, standing to his feet. “I could say the same for you, sir!”

“Couldn’t sleep,” he admitted. He looked down at the man’s mess. There was half a dozen communicators that had been torn apart, the inner chips exposed for all to see. “Working on the communication problem?”

“Oh yeah!” he said, the Bajoran’s lips widening in a toothy grin. “Take a look, Commander. As you will see, I have rearraigned the chips a bit to give them more space to communicate to one another. I figure that doing this will allow any calls made on them underground a bit more wider in range, at least, more so then the condensed version gives us.”

“Won’t that make the communications fuzzier?” James asked, although he was no engineer. Oh, he remembered the Engineering Basic Course he had taken from the Academy. Yet he had never understood most of the mumbo-jumbo and was all thumbs when it came to this stuff.

Sele nodded his head. “The communicators system was designed by Starfleet to allow for crisp, compact signals,” he explained, “Yet it doesn’t allow for much flexibility. By moving the chips around a bit and making the signals on a wider band, while not as crystal clear, will allow for more diversity and be able to get around the heavy metals that are in the rocks.”

“Hopefully we won’t be stuck down there too much,” the First Officer muttered. “This is all theory and I wish not to need test your theory.”

“Oh, trust me Commander,” the Bajoran snorted derisively. “We will. Terrorists have a way of putting a test to every theory. I won’t be surprised if many of our people die, just to make a statement that they can do whatever they please! No regard for innocence.”

James looked at the Chief Engineer with more than a little bit of uncertainty. Considering his Bajoran past, he should be on the side of terrorists. They would be freedom fighters, not criminals. Did not Bajoran terrorists help push off the Cardassians off of Bajor?

Sele noticed his commanders confusion and sighed. “Let me guess,” he said, “why does the Bajoran speak badly about terrorists? Is that correct, sir?”

“Your attitude towards them is surprising, yes,” he admitted.

“Well, frankly sir,” Sele said, leaning back in his chair, “I am more Cardassian then I am Bajoran.”

James was no utterly confused. Why in the world would his Chief Engineer, a Lieutenant Commander in Starfleet, a Bajoran by race, ever consider himself to be Cardassian? There was some madness to all this, surely right?

“See this wristband?” Sele asked, holding up his wrist. The jewelry wasn’t exactly part of the Starfleet Code of Dress but James at once recognized it. “This is a family wrist-band. It marks me as being part of the family of Commander Jero Nerroa from the city of Mon’clea on the southern Cardassian continent. I was adopted by Commander Nerroa when I was five years old. When the treaty called for the return of all Bajoran children, I stayed with my family. I saw the results of terrorism from the other side, sir. So no, I have no love for the Bajoran terrorists, any more then the Bajorans love me.”

“That must make it difficult,” James remarked.

The Chief shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just the way things are,” he replied.

----------------

“I have received the information you transmitted yesterday,” T’Lal said, looking at the console screen. A Japorria Disease Specialist looked at her, his wide human eyes that were twice the size of normal eyes. Beyond their large eyes, the resembled humans in almost every other aspect.

“Have you made any headway on your end?” the Specialist asked.

“I have my own team working on a cure on our end,” she assured him. “The main problem with the cure seems to be the inability for it to bound with the diseased cells, thus allowing it to contain them, then purging them without destroying the cells. Is that a correct assumption?”

The Specialist nodded, letting out a slow breath. “Our research keeps getting knocked down with these terrorist attacks just as we seem to be getting close to solving the mystery,” he informed her. “We simply aren’t able to make enough inoculations fast enough to replace our destroyed stock. Without them, there is no way to keep our people strong against the plague.”

T’Lal raised an intrigued eyebrow. “You did not send us data on any inoculations,” she pointed out. “May I ask why?”

“The Government trusts you Federation types,” the Specialist said, “But not enough to allow you access to those files. And besides, even your replicators can’t make effective enough inoculations. Believe me, we’ve tried. No, this only has the strength it does when made the old fashioned way.”

T’Lal wasn’t sure why the inoculation data wasn’t sent to her. Details on the Plague, how people were infected, whom were the highest at risk and their status of the cure was all sent to her. But nothing on this. However, if indeed it could not be replicated, then there would be no logical reason to forward it to her.

“Alright,” she finally said. “As you wish. We should be arriving at Japorri II in about three days. I will contact you again upon our arrival.”

“Thank you, Doctor T’Lal,” the Japorria said, a weary smile spreading across his face. “Japorri II out.”

Three days to get the research further along and get closer to a cure. It would not be easy, but she had faith in her team of doctors and nurses. They were extremely competent, almost Vulcan-like in their dedication.

Act 5

 

Captains Log – Stardate 66158.97: After seven days of travel, we have finally arrived at Japorri II. I have every expectation that we will be able to resolve the situation without much difficulty.

“Welcome to Japorri II, Captain Traz,” the Protector of the Planet said, standing and holding his arms out wide to both sides of him. “I only wish your arrival was under better circumstances.”

The Office of the Protector was a large, ornate office with hard-wood floors, a table of very fine marble and more than a few solid metallic statues stood along the walls. The entire bridge of the Wayne could have easily fit into the room, with space to spare. Traz couldn’t help but be unimpressed by the grandeur of what she saw. No, it was a way for a small man to feel important about himself.

“I as well wish that it was under better circumstances, Protector,” she replied, mirroring the language of the other. She waved back behind her to the two others with her. “This is my First Officer, James Enviro and my Chief Tactical Officer, Z’org.”

“A Gorn?” the Protector said, his large eyes growing wider. It was actually quite a feat, to tell the truth. She didn’t realize his Baby Blues could get any bigger. “In Starfleet? You must be joking.”

“The Captain never jokessss,” Z’org said with an edge to his voice.

The Protector opened his mouth to say something. He held his mouth open for a few seconds, debating whether he should or not but decided in the end to let it be. The man indicated the seats infront of his desk. Traz did not glance back to James, keeping her eyes fixed ahead as she took a seat. Enviro followed suit but Z’org remained standing. How he reminded her in that instant of a Tyrannosaurs Rex, standing in the ruins of the Jurassic Park reception center. By the Seven Gods! She really needed to watch that series again.

“The situation has remained the same since we called for assistance,” he said, jumping straight to business. “I cannot think of anything else. We lost a whole cargo ship that was going to transport six hundred cases of medicine to the Gallo Continent to the east of us across the ocean. They blew it up right in the harbor itself!”

“How many were lost by the attack?” the Captain asked.

The Protector lowered his head to his desk, resting his temple on his raised hands. “Six dock workers were injured and three of the cargo ships crew have been unfound, we assume vaporized by the explosion. The dock has had to be closed to clean up the debris and property damage is going to run at least a couple million of our Colle, our form of currency.” He lifted his head, his large blue eyes mournful. “I am really at a loss. These terrorists only attack medical centers and anything related to the cure for the Plague. I have no idea why they are so determined to have people suffer and die.”

“We don’t know much about your Plague,” Traz shrugged. “We know the hows and whys, but the exact nature of the Plague eludes us. Like what it does to the body. You say it is 100% lethal? What does it do exactly?”

“It varies from person to person,” the Protector sighed, leaning back. “Once infected, it actually processes through your system. It goes through all the things your body is likely to get sick by, finding any defects in your DNA, takes it and kills you with whatever you are prone to get. If you have a history of blinding headaches, it increases it tenfold, until you get an aneurysm and die. If you have a high chance of breast cancer, it accelerates it, and within 48 hours you are dead. All our efforts to combat it have failed.”

“And thessse terrorissstsss make it harder,” Z’org nodded his head once. “We will help you ssssweep the lower levelssss of the city, eliminating all of thessse cowardssss.”

“My First Officer will remain along with my Security Chief and a squad of our finest Starfleet officers,” she agreed. “They will coordinate with…..”

A distant thunder-clap caught their attention. The Protector shook his head, letting out a sigh. “I wonder what they hit now,” he said with a grunt. “Alright, Captain, I will take any help you can give. And perhaps your Doctors on your starship can help further along the cure.”

Traz smiled. They could do that. She stood to leave and with a wave of her hand. Enviro stood up as well. She glanced at his face, and saw a look of contemplation, perhaps distrust on it. They moved off to a short distance, heading to the transporter pad near the front of the main chamber.

“Number One?” she asked.

“I have a gut feeling that there is more to this than meets the eye,” he explained. “Captain, I’ve never heard of terrorists groups with this much activity that focus so much on one thing. ISIL of Earth, the Vulcan breakoffs, the Bajoran terrorists. They all went after anything of importance and even nonimportance. Yet only medicine? It makes no sense.”

“Unless the terrorists released the Plague and then they wouldn’t want it to get cured,” she said.

“But in two years they have made almost zero progress against this?” he asked doubtingly. “This isn’t exactly a Dark Ages society. They should have made some progress.”

Z’org hummed. “Not all enemiesss are ssso easssily overcome, Commander,” he pointed out.

Traz understood what Z’org was saying, and she was inclined to agree with her scaly friend. Yet, she didn’t want her First Officer to ignore his gut. If he thought there was something more, she wanted him to act on it. Cautiously and without too much rashness.

“Alright,” she agreed. “Keep an eye out. Keep me updated every three hours. I’ll be on the Wayne.”

“Yes ma’am,” James nodded his head.

Like everything in this building, the transporter pad was made of rare materials on this planet. Gems stones lined the walls of the transporter pad, like pebbles in a river of yellow shiny material that surrounded her on every side. The waste nearly made her vomit.

“Traz to Wayne,” she said, “One to beam up.”

A blizzard of white and blue filled the pad where she was standing. The sounds of the energizing beam filled both her ears with white noise and suddenly she was gone, leaving her dashing First Officer and strong, brave Gorn on the planet alone.

-----------------------------

“Ensign….ensign….Tyler Daarth, yes?” the Asian woman said, standing in the Ops Room. On most starships of the Federation, the Flight and Operations officers were under the same head commander, and on the Wayne the Operations Manager oversaw both. The Ops Room basically acted as meeting room and office for the Ops Manager and was located on deck three.

“Y-y-yes ma’am,” Tyler said, keeping his answers short and to the point. It was a way to keep his stammering to a minimum.

“I am Lieutenant Commander Yoshi Tano,” she said. They stood of near same height, so either Tyler was a short Caucasian male, or she was a tall Asian woman. Tyler couldn’t figure out which one it was though. “I realize it’s been a week since you got on board and I apologize for making you wait this long before giving you an assignment. However, there wasn’t a Flight Control position and I doubt that you wanted to be a shuttle pilot.”

“I-I-I would r-r-rather not, ma’am,” he agreed. He hadn’t joined Starfleet to pilot shuttlecraft. No, he wanted to pilot the starship itself.

“Well you are in good luck, Ensign,” she said, punching a few orange buttons on the console before her. “Alpha Shift for weekdays on the bridge has opened up. Ensign Tendok wanted to transfer over to Engineering. Give him more of an expanded role and widen his skill set. So, you will report tomorrow at 0700 hours. You will be working alongside Ensign Mary Crest who is our weekday Alpha shift Ops officer. Any questions?”

“I-I-I think I u-u-understand, ma’am,” he said, trying to suppress the rising giddiness.

He understood that they did three shifts on this ship. He was going to be able to pilot this Norway-class ship eight hours a day, forty hours a week! What was there not to like? He couldn’t wait to tell his friends from the Academy about this! How he’d love to see the smug-face of Yedrin Perim fall as he was again forced to realize that he was stuck with his big sister watching his every move!

“I do have a question of my own though,” she said.

“Ma’am?” he asked.

She looked a tad uncomfortable as she was about to say whatever it was. “Look Ensign,” she said, holding up hands he felt more looked like they fit on a large man then a slender woman like Lt. Commander Tano. “I am not one to criticize people’s natural shortcomings. However, I must ask. Your speech impediment. Is it going to get in the way of your doing you duty? Because if so, I can’t have you being on the bridge if that is the case. You need to be concise and able to make quick response. Can you do that?”

It was a valid question. He wasn’t so sensitive as to get bent out of shape over it. He shook his head three times.

“D-d-do not w-w-worry, ma’am,” he said with no small amount of pride in his voice. “I a-a-always pull t-t-through.”

Tano stared at him a few seconds longer. Her slanted eyes squinted even more so as she scrutinized him. He kept his back straight and his posture correct. Projection of confidence was key to any situation.

“Okay, then,” she finally said. “I would go ahead and meet up with Ensign Crest. You two will be working together all the time so best get introduced before your shift. Hit it off, as it were. Dismissed.”

“Y-y-yes ma’am,” he said, inclining his head and turning towards the door. He got to the door, then stopping turned to her. “Ma’am?” She glanced up at him. “M-m-mata ashitane.”

Perhaps his thirteenth….or was it fourteenth?….conquest in the Academy had been a Japanese girl. She had become attached to him and that was one of the few things he had remembered of the encounter. He had used a translator to figure out what ‘mata ashitane’ was and had learned it meant “See you tomorrow.” No, he hadn’t seen her again. That wasn’t the exact point of a one night stand, as the Superintendent of his Orphanage had called them.

“I’m Korean not Japanese, Ensign,” she said with a small smile. “What you mean to say is ‘naeil bwayo’.”

“S-s-sorry,” he said, flushing a little bit, then inclining his head, turned and headed out of the door.

He liked the idea she had given him. It would be far better for him to meet up with Ensign Crest before they met on the bridge for work. It would give them the benefit of being off on the best foot, and there was no better way of doing than knowing the person beforehand.

“Computer,” he called out to the all-seeing Big Brother computer. “What is the location of Ensign Mary Crest?”

Ensign Mary Crest is in Exercise Gym 7,” the computer said.

Exercise Gym 7? “And where is that located?” he asked.

Deck 17, Section C-10.

Tyler nodded. Okay, that would be easy to find. Section C was the left hand rear part of the ship. It would be easy to get there and he was sure that he would be far more then capable to make a good impression. No, he wasn’t out to bed her or anything. Nope, he was determined to keep it strictly professional.

He passed by a dozen crewmen on his way to Exercise Gym 7. It was actually a pretty dumb name. Exercise Room or Gym would be appropriate by themselves. Anything else would seem really awkward and unwieldly. This thought still plagued him as he stepped up to the room. He actually hoped that wasn’t the name on the door plate.

Yep. It was.

The door slid open to accept him and he stepped into a Yoga class. He blinked at the seven women and three men doing Yoga poses. The instructor sat at the head of the class. Her eyes closed, legs crossed and hands held together over her head like a church steeple. Everyone else was doing this at the same time.

“Just a few more seconds,” she said to the class. “A few more, with good measured breaths. Good, very good. Okay…..that will do it. Thank you all for you attendance and I hope to see you again tomorrow.”

The class began to break up, slowly rising from their cross-legged positions. Most of the class were humans, but there was a Vulcan and a Bolian in the mix. Tyler remember being told by a Vulcan friend at the Academy that he actually found it rather pleasing to do Yoga. It was very, what was the word he had used? Ah yes, ‘logial’.

“E-e-excuse me,” Tyler said to the first person heading to the door. A human about his height, but with a thicker body. “W-w-which one is-is-is Ensign Crest?”

“Oh, you mean Mary?” the man said with a quirky smile. He turned his head to the group, most of them in the process of wiping themselves down with towels. “Hey Mary! Someone looking for you.”

“Oh?” a woman said, lifting her head as she padded herself down with a pink towel. “Who is it?”

“Dunno,” the man called back, giving Tyler a hard pat on the back. With that, he stepped outside, and the class began drifting towards the door. The woman was among the last to leave, but she stepped up to Tyler, wrapping the towel around her neck, holding onto each end.

And Tyler was thunderstruck. She was….well….amazing! She was about his age (which in his case was 23) and she looked like a goddess! Sweat still glistening off her athletic frame, her brown hair fell to about the bottom of her shoulder blade. With a sleeveless white top that was drenched in sweat and light blue yoga pants, he could barely think straight.

But that was barely. He still could and to heck with his wanting to keep it professional! Professionalism was for losers anyways. He reached down to his arm and rubbed just below the tendons that connected the triceps to the wrist. It was a good luck charm of his.

“H-hi,” he said, holding out his hand. “M-m-mary Crest?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” she said, taking his hand in hers.

“M-m-my name is Tyler Daarth,” he introduced himself. “I-I-I am the n-n-new flight officer for A-a-alpha shift.”

Her grey colored eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, very nice to meet you!” she said giving him a full smile.  “I just wish that you hadn’t have met me when I was all sweaty and icky. Not a very good first impression.”

“F-f-first impressions I-I-I find are o-o-overrated,” Tyler shrugged.

“You are too kind, Mr. Daarth,” Ensign Crest said with a small laugh. “Hey, I am heading to the Rec Room for some lunch. Wanna join? Give us a chance to get to know one another a lot more.”

“T-t-that sounds like a p-p-plan,” he replied. “I w-w-was hoping to g-g-get to know the p-p-person that I-I-I will be w-w-working with a lot. M-m-much better at effectiveness.”

The woman smirked at that. Yes, Tyler thought to himself, they would get along just nicely.

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Act 6

 

The remains of three vehicles, with four wheels apiece, stood smoking. The nearby rocks were scorched by the heat and intensity from the blasts that had destroyed them. Medical personnel moved among the wreckage, collecting the dead and dying. One survivor screamed, his entire face having been melted away by the heat of the blast.

The Commander knelt by one of the destroyed transports, looking at the blast pattern on the ground. His tricorder was out, sweeping very slowly back and forth. His lungs were burning slightly and there was an odd scent in the air. Everything he was picking up on it made little sense, and he was a scientist! He didn’t like things not making sense, it messed with his world order.

“Mr. Z’org,” he called out. He didn’t need to glance up to know that the Gorn was standing over him. His shadow was very pronounced. “Take a look at these readings. What do you think?”

The raptor bent down, and a primordial fear seemed to jump up at him. He was reminded of a snake about to strike. Okay, maybe not. More like a Tyrannosaurus about to attack cavemen.

“Very curioussss, Ssssir,” the Gorn replied. “Dessspite the dessstructive power, the chemicalsss ssseem to be very concccentrated.”

“Absolutely what I was thinking,” he said. “It’s also not just that. I thought when we first arrived here that there was an odd smell. Now I know from the tricorder readings. There was chlorine in the explosive devices.”

“Chlorine?” the Gorn frowned. “I am not familiar with that.”

“It’s a bonding agent that was used back during the mid-20th Century to the mid-21st,” James explained. “You see, it bonds onto acid and other corrosive materials in water and dispose of it. It was considered a hazardous material to breath in. You might have noticed your lungs are burning a little. It was banned in 2056 as part of the Global Climate Change Initiative.”

“If it wasss banned and was an Earth sssubssstanccce,” Z’org hissed, musing as he thought about the implications. “What isss it doing here? Chemical warfare perhapsss?”

James thought about it. No, no. It didn’t fit the modum operandum of these terrorists. They didn’t seem to be a chemical warfare type of group. Yet, there was this evidence. What did it mean?

He was stilled bothered by the fact that only medical transports and research facilities were being targeted. Why not the cities themselves? Sure, the capitol city, Prefect Prime, only had seven hundred fifty thousand people in it and there wasn’t much to be gained by it.

“There has to be a message, a clue we are overlooking,” he said finally, standing to his feet. “I just can’t figure it out. It is very elusive, Lieutenant Commander.”

Z’org made a sound similar to a thoughtful humming of a human. James walked around the destroyed vehicle, a Starfleet Security officer keeping a very close eye around them. They were not there alone as a medical transport picked up the last person for medical care back in the city.

He didn’t really like watching the last victim of the attack, an elderly man with almost no hair and his big eyes showing the dark red of blindness among the Japorri race. His burnt garb seemed to suggest he was a doctor or something. Yet there was no way to tell. Enviro was still watching them as the door to the transport closed.

“Filthy animals!” a voice cursed, a thick growl in it. “If I had my way, we’d have purged the tunnels with nestrizine gas. Smoke out the filthy arsonists where they would meet my men, ready and waiting. Give them whole new holes with which to breath.”

“Middle Prefect Mizzier,” James said, pushing himself into a standing position. “I still find it rather odd that all they target is medicine. They fit more of environmental terrorists then just straight up terrorists.”

Middle Prefect Mizzier waved a stubby hand. He had the look of a man who had eaten too many sour grapes in his life and the effect had been to twist his features. His large eyes had a very cranky look to them, and it seemed to accent his uniform. Dark purple ran down the right side of his pants and tunic and black ran down the other side. A strip of dark blood red went down the middle, parting the two main colors. He wore a beret of light blue that signified his rank, which was the middle of the five officer ranks.

He had about a dozen of his men at the terrorist site. They were all of similar stock, hulking men that were nice and round. They seemed more of weekend warriors then actual soldiers. Yet their weapons looked soldierly enough. Each man carried a square rifle with four chambers. Each carried a plasma slug chamber that had enough power to melt holes into even durasteel.

“Whatever they are,” Mizzier said grimly, “We’ll find them and show them how we of the Japorri Republic treat those who keep us from helping the sick and fatally ill.”

“Commander?” one of the security officers called out, “Can you come over a second? I found something.”

“If you will excuse me….”

“Absolutely not!” the Middle Prefect snapped. “I’m going with you. I want to hear whatever your man has to say.”

There was no need to be hostile about the request in James’ mind. He shrugged and said, “Be my guest.”

The last medical transport took off at that time, allowing unresitricted access to the area that the security officer had called out. They walked over to him, an Andorian thaan (as the males were called) name Lieutenant Nerla Neer’shka. He usually was assigned to the command of the Saucer Security Team. He had very light blue skin for an Andorian, but he was of average height for them.

“Report,” Z’org ordered, coming up behind the two other officers.

“Sir, I overheard you say something about chlorine being used in the explosives,” he said, not even showing any apology over it either! “And so I set my tricorder to look for any traces. I figured that such a toxic chemical would cling to them like a Targellian blood fly. And….”

He didn’t say anything more, but held out the tricorder for the Commander’s inspection. He took it, and looking at it, saw what he was meaning. There was definitely a strong residue here. This particular road way was in a small ravine, so there was no way that the chlorine could be blown so far over. He waved it back and forth, and soon he could see it. A trail!

“What?” Mizzier demanded, “What do you see, Commander?”

“We have their trail,” James said, a tight grin on his face.

--------------

“We have their trail, Captain,” the Commander’s voice said over the bridge’s intercom system. “We are going to go in hot once we find them.”

Jillian smiled. It hadn’t taken him more than a couple of hours to find the trail. It was either that Starfleet training was that good, his experiences were that good, or he was that good. She preferred to think the latter. It would vindicate her trust she had put in him.

“Do you need me to send additional security officers?” she asked. “Because we can.”

No,” Z’org cut in before his superior could talk. “We have five security here and the Japorrians have a dozen as well.

What he said,” Enviro’s voice came in, and she couldn’t stop the smile spreading over her face at how annoyed he had sounded just then. The Gorn wasn’t known for his keeping his sharp-tooth mouth shut. “But in all seriousness ma’am, more people will just be a bother.”

“Understood,” she said. “Number One, let me know once you reach the terrorists hideout.”

Acknowledge,” he agreed. “Enviro out.”

She leaned back in her captain’s chair after the communication was closed. The anxiety levels of the bridge crew were suppressed with more of anticipation, growing by every second. Doctor T’Lal was in the right chair, the left chair absent it’s occupant. Jillian envied at times the cool detachment of the Vulcan, how she was able to suppress all emotions.

Although, most of the time, she felt that was probably a hindrance to them then an actual blessing.

“What progress have you made with the Medical Director?” she asked, turning her attention to the rigid back Vulcan.

“I will admit the going has been slow and even with the additional week study, we’ve only been able to amplify the inoculations, but not make them more effective,” the Vulcan admitted. If she was annoyed by that lack of success, she certainly didn’t show it. “I have been able to isolate the particular DNA strand that the virus has been attacking, but I’m not able to strength it’s resistance, more of buffering the DNA around it.”

Jillian frowned. “Have you tried frog DNA?” she asked.

“Excuse me?” T’Lal asked, “What would amphibian DNA have to do with anything ma’am?”

“They can make dinosaurs out of frog DNA,” Traz said with some heavy levels of excitement. They just use it to fill in any gaps in the cloning process.”

The Vulcan stared at her, on of those very proper and prim Vulcan eyebrows rising up in confusion. The Captain put her hand up to her head and dropped her forehead onto it. Must she be plagued by these culturally inept people?

“Shouldn’t you be going back to sickbay?” she finally said, not looking at the Doctor, too annoyed at the lack of response to her Jurassic Park reference.

The Vulcan shrugged. “Not really, the seem…..”

“Shouldn’t you be getting back to sickbay?” Jillian said with a slight edge, turning to bear the full weight of her annoyance on the emotionless Vulcan.

The Doctor might have the emotional range of a teaspoon (she probably wouldn’t have gotten that reference either) but she was observant. The Doctor nodded and standing up, heading for the aft port-side turbolift that would take her to sickbay.

“I-I-I understood the r-r-reference, ma’am” The flight officer said, glancing back at her. “J-J-Jurassic Park.”

“Ensign Daarth,” she said, the butt-kissing only annoying her further. She could sense his smugness, as if he was going to earn brownie points with her. “If I wanted you to kiss my butt, I would shove my hand up your butt and move your mouth like a puppet. That understood?”

“Yes ma’am,” he said, and she could feel the deflated balloon of his ego.

-------

That didn’t go so well.

He pushed the send button, and the silent mode of console-to-console messaging made sure that the Captain didn’t hear the message as Mary Crest got the message. He rubbed his arm, again in the same spot he had found gave him good luck. No, no witchcraft or anything. He just found it always gave him a boost of confidence. He needed one after that smack down from the Captain.

He waited for a few seconds, spending the time checking the readouts on the console. They showed the speed, latitude, power output of the engines. He was just checking the relative position of the away team in relationship to their own position when he got a message.

Don’t worry! She’ll warm up to you. How did you know that reference anyways?

My grandfather loves all thing dinosaurs and even has a few of the really ancient DVDs of them. But I guess I’ll keep my knowledge to myself unless asked for.

I’ll make you feel a lot better after we get off work. My quarters!

He smiled at that new message. Yes, his luck with women was holding just fine. As she sat there, he had the odd feeling of pressure in his mind. He shook his head once, then twice, but it didn’t go away. He glanced back, and saw the Captain looking straight at him. She had an eyebrow raised and he suddenly understood.

The Betazoid captain had just read his mind! Wasn’t there something against that?

“Ensign,” the Captain said, her voice with a sweet yet unmistakable edge to it. “I try to make it point not to read my officers mind but really! I would prefer it if you focused on your work and not romantic rendezvous.”

“Y-y-yes ma’am,” he said, feeling himself blush. There was an inordinate amount of snickering from around the bridge. He turned himself back to his work, but could see in his peripheral image the smile that had spread across Mary’s face.

-------------------

Jillian looked at the messages that had popped up on her own arm console. What most people didn’t realize was that any communication on the bridge was not only sent to the other stations, but it was also sent to her as well. They came as documents with the station it had originated from to the receiving station. She could open them if she wished and she had when she had seen the two designations, back and forth.

No, she hadn’t read his mind, only had given him the impression of it. If the young man wanted to be a smart-aleck, she would give him a taste of his own medicine! Especially after she had read the messages and felt the heat of lust that had rushed out of the Conn.

Yep, that young man was going to be trouble!

“Z’org to Wayne! Z’org to Wayne! Get usss out of here!”

What is it, Lieutenant Commander?” she asked, never having heard so much distress and anger in her security chief.

Beam ussss up, now!”

“Transporter room 2, beam them up now!” she called out, standing to her feet.

Transport complete,” came the response a few seconds later. “Umm…Captain? We are missing two of them.

“What do you mean?” she asked, her heart suddenly thudding very fast in her chest. “Where are they?”

I couldn’t find their signals,” came the reply.

Commander Enviro and Crewman Zekstra were captured!” the Security chiefs voice roared in anger and embarrassment. Anger at what had happened and embarrassment at his own inadequacy. And Captain Traz felt shock rushing through her, threating to overwhelm her.

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Act 7

 

Captain Traz stood in the sickbay as Z’org paced the small space. Doctor T’Lal was trying her best to get the large lizard to sit down, but she was having little luck. He easily towered over her by .45 meters. His tail agitatedly thrashed back and forth, knocking against saudered down beds and the walls of the small sickbay. Red blood had congealed in three spots where he had received new scars. One across his elongated muzzle, and two along his left arm.

“They had lain in wait for usss,” he hissed angrily, turning as he came to the right side of the sickbay. “Commander Enviro wasss in the lead. He and that big-eyed flesh sssack who called himssself Mizzzzier were arguing about sssomething. Thisss one doesss not remember what about. Thisss one wasss busssy keeping thisss onesss crewmembersss together and alert. Next thing thisss one knew, a flash of bright light ssstunned usss. Thisss one wasss ssspared becaussse of the inner eyelid of the Gorn. But thisss one wasss unable to rally our officccersss to ssstop the Commander and Crewman Zekstra from being abducted.”

“Sit down, Z’org,” T’Lal said, trying to grab him. He angrily threw off her hand. “I can’t treat you if you don’t stop moving.”

“Thisss one will carry the ssscar to remember the priccce of thisss onesss failure,” he said mournfully.

“Lieutenant Commander,” she said sternly, yet not unkind. “Did you do your best? If your team had not been stunned, would you have tried to retrieve those two officers?” Okay, one wasn’t an officer. She was only a crewman, but that wasn’t the point. “Would you have kept them out of harm’s way?”

“To the bessst of thisss onesss ability,” he said, slowing his steps a little as he hesitated. The Vulcan doctor at once began to wave the dermal regeneration scanner over the lower of the two long cuts. Yellow beams crisscrossed this arm and had Traz paid attention, she could have seen the pinkish meat underneath the green scales begin to worm toward each other.

“Then you did not fail,” she said. “As long as you did your best, you have not failed. Were you able to tag any of the abductors?”

“Thisss one thinksss he phasssered the shoulder of one of the terrorrissstsss,” Z’org shrugged. The motion pulled the recently started healing muscles out of the way of the Vulcan Doctor.

T’Lal grunted in something that one might have mistaken as impatience and reaching up, clenched him near the shoulder. At once the raptor began to grow weak, his legs beginning to tremble. Traz had never seen a Vulcan Death Pinch being used on a non-human. Z’org did not pass out. Insteed, two nurses had to rush over to him to help him stagger/drag himself to a bio-bed.

“Now that you are sitting down,” she said in something very akin to sarcasm. “I can fix your scars.”

There was so much she wanted to say and do. Even as she stood there, watching the Doctor work, she knew that there wasn’t anything she could do. She would try to get back her first officer, but she had other things she had to attend to as well. Part of the antu-terrorist operations she had going was having Sele and his Engineering teams building a sensor net around the areas where the medical research and medicine was being produced. It was strong enough now that at most of the thirteen different sites, anyone could be scanned above and below ground with a kilometer to spare.

“Have you been able to get any further on the cure?” Traz asked at last.

“Not much more then when we last spoke,” T’Lal answered, moving the skin regenerator up to the scar across the muzzle. Z’org’s head bobbed slightly, his thick pink tongue lolled out in a stupor. Yet not enough that she couldn’t do her work. “Frankly Captain, there is no logical need to rush this. If after two years they haven’t discovered a cure, it is highly unlikely we would get closer to a solution in a much shorter time.”

That Vulcan cool logic. Lillian couldn’t help the small smile that tugged at her lips. She turned and headed out of the sick bay, knowing that hovering over T’Lal’s shoulder wouldn’t endear her to the Vulcan. She exited, to find the Deputy Protector, a young woman with not so much larger but instead longer eyes, standing with a dark purple suit dress.

“I am sorry for what happened down on the planet,” she said, and fell into step behind the Captain. The Captain wasn’t exactly in the mood to just stand around. She had to go do….something. Anything! “They don’t take too many hostages.”

“And what about the times they have taken hostages?” Lillian asked. “What have they done with them?”

The Deputy Protector squirmed uncomfortably as they headed to the turbolift. “We don’t have a policy for getting hostages back,” she admitted as the doors whooshed open for them. “We haven’t had any real need for it, as it’s almost nonexistent. We had no kidnappings or hostage situations the first two hundred years of our settlement, which was settled at the time the Federation was founded. After that, the last one hundred years, two kidnapping. And that was it.”

“Bridge,” Traz called to the computer as the doors shut. She felt the turbolift began to move, felt the slight shift in gravity as the turbolift began its ascent. “So what happens then with the captives?”

“They make no demands, these terrorists,” the other woman said. “Nor do we have a way to communicate with them.”

“Wait….” Traz said, frowning at the older woman. “You are telling me that for two years you’ve had these terrorist acts and yet you can’t communicate with these terrorists? So again I ask, what happens to the captives then?”

The older woman shrugged. There was a feeling that the older woman was holding out on Traz. As if she wasn’t being completely honest with her. It was really annoying Traz to no end. Was the real reason they were called her was simply because the Japorrians were incapable of actually doing anything themselves? They really had never tried reaching out to them?

“The only time we actually tried to open communications with them was shortly after the terrorist activity began,” the Deputy said. The turbolift came to a gradual stop and the door slid open. Traz stepped out, with the Deputy following behind her. “We sent our Medical Director to try to explain to them what was going on. Three days later, Director Menare was killed, having been tortured by the terrorists. Trust me, these people can’t be reasoned with.”

------------------

“Wakey, wakey,” the Japorrian said, kneeling by the bound captives. “No more sleepy time.”

James glared at the terrorist. The man had all the looks of an earth pirate about him. He wore a silver bandana, his face was covered in enough stubble that a horse could walk through it unseen, and he actually had an eyepatch over his left eye, scars running up and down from where the patch covered. He wore a sleeveless vest that did nothing to hide his muscular arms or the scars from both plasma burns and cuts.

“We weren’t sleeping, you dolt!” James snapped. He knew that antagonizing their captors wasn’t the best thing to do, but he believed that showing fear was the last thing they wanted to do.

“Good,” the man gave a broken toothed grin. “Then you won’t mind a visitor.”

“Do we have a choice?” James remarked snidely.

“Of course,” another man said. “All men have choices. It’s what we do with the choices is what matters.”

A man just shy of two meters stepped out from behind a group of six terrorists that had been watching them. They were underground, in what seemed to be a cave. Much of the cave was interlaced with columns of natural stone and it was between two such pillars that the man stepped through.

There was nothing….cruel about the man. James looked at him, eyed the man and saw much of what he felt was a parental air about him.

“Are you the leader here?” Enviro asked, not letting up his glare.

“One could say that I am,” the man said. He stopped just a foot out of reach of James’ boot, had the other decided to kick him. “I’m merely a humble servant of the people.”

“A servant who destroys the very thing keeping them alive?” James asked incredulously.

The man chuckled. “You got it all wrong, Commander….that is what the rank is correct? I’m not so good with Federation ranks. It’s much easier with our own Japorri ones. Minor Prefect, Little Prefect, Middle Prefect, Upper Prefect, Superior Prefect. It might have a feeling of repetitiveness, but it’s not hard to remember.”

The man turned to Crewman Zekstra and frowned. He got closer to the young woman, who was sitting with her own scowl. He squatted close to her and stared at her, his eyes roving over her features.

“Forgive me, but I am not familiar with your race,” he finally said. “You have pointed ears like a Vulcan but your brow is too pronounced. What else are you?”

Zekstra turned her eyes to James, looking for a directive. Seeing as there was no harm to it, the Commander inclined his head. There wouldn’t be any harm in it.

“I’m half-Vulcan, half-Romulan,” she finally said, turning her scowl back to the terrorist leader.

The man’s face brightened. “Ah yes!” he said, clapping his hands together. “I see the Romulan in the stink-eye you’re giving me. I once operated on Romulan male during the Dominion War. His ship had crash landed in the Zebr Forest. Although, his brow was all smashed to pieces, which I assume is the prominent Romulan feature in you, my dear. I’m afraid I had no idea how it was supposed to look. That might be why the man gave me such a nasty glare after we revived him from surgery.”

James frowned at what the man was saying. If what he was saying is true, then this man had no right being here! “You are a doctor?” he asked.

“The term we use is Healther,” the man said.

“Then why are you keeping medicine from the people suffering from Plague?” the Commander demanded. “Is it not your job to preserve life?”

“That’s what we are doing,” the Healther said, standing so he was towering over the two.

“Destroying medicine?” Zekstra asked snidely. “Destroy the help keeps the needing fixed? Is that it?”

“It’s not that…”

“Come on man!” Enviro nearly shouted. “How can you justify what you are doing?”

“Because the medicine is the Plague!” the man snapped, looking hard at Enviro. The two Starfleet officers fell silent, and glanced at each other. “Yes, the medicine is a form of ethnic cleansing. The Japorri Government has decided to eliminate a third of the population to cut back on the demands of food growth and other things.”

“Impossible!” Enviro shook his head. “Our doctors are very good and they would have detected something was wrong with it. Heck, I even looked at the research our Doctor was doing into it and I didn’t see anything wrong with it!”

“That’s the beauty of it!” the Healther said in a horrified excitement. He got on one knee before the Commander and held up his index and thumb. “The inoculations single out the individual cells that disease resides in. In every living being, there are parts of the DNA that have tiny traces of life-threatening diseases that the person themselves has either had or is part of the family history. If your great grandparent had cancer, there remains a very tiny strain of it in the DNA. The inoculation hunts these trace-markers of the diseases.”

“The medicine would purge it of that,” Zekstra said, unable to hold her silence. “Look, I’m no doctor or anything, but even I know that.”

The Healther laughed. “Oh my child,” he shook his head. “The medicine is actually a…..changeling. That’s the best word to describe it. Upon entering the bloodstream, it reads the information gathered by the inoculations, then changes into the disease.”

That was….actually pretty ingenious. Oh, to be sure, the Commander felt that it was on the level of mad scientist genius. But there was no way that that could be true. The ability for medicine to change into a disease simply wasn’t possible. Not even 24th Century medicine had ever achieved that.

“You’re lying,” James said, “It simple is impossible.”

“No, it’s very much possible,” the man said with a shudder. “And it’s real. Infact, the Plague only becomes active in areas that have been visited by the Healthers with the medicine and inoculations. One point five million are already dead because of it.”

“And how would you know it could do this?” James asked.

The man closed his eyes and put a hand to it. He took deep breaths, shuddering like a man who has a terrible secret. Something that was tearing him apart. Sometimes Enviro saw that same look in his own eyes when he looked in the mirror during unguarded moments. Guilt, whether it was warranted or not.

“Because I created it,” he said, his voice soft and so very tired. “I created both the first generations of the inoculations and the first generation medicine. Every death is my fault.” 

Act 8

 

There was a ton of stuff Commander James Enviro could have expected or at least understood after such a revelation. The terrorists giggling at what their leader said. The Healther pushing him playfully around and saying ‘Just kidding!’ Himself snorting at that and saying it was impossible, even though there was enough historical examples, such as the Klingon Augment experiments back during the 2150s.

When Crewman U’lyrk Zekstra threw back her head and exploded in raucous laughter, rocking back and forth as she was unable to contain her fits of belly-laughters, that was most certainly not on his list of expected things. He frowned and glanced sideways, at the same moment the terrorist Healther did so, to see tears beginning to well in her eyes and her face turning a deep shade of red. Even the other terrorists were passing interesting looks back and forth.

“What is so funny?” the Healther asked frowning. “Geonicide is not a laughing matter.”

“I’m-I’m sorry,” she gasped for breath. Zekstra tried hard to breath but bursts of giggles cut her sentences off. “But you-you backwards bumpkins? Creating a well-haha-sorry- a bioweapon of that nature? That’s too far-haha-advanced for you.”

The Healther scowled, his pride clearly taking a hit. He bristled, standing and throwing his chest out in inflated pride.

“My name is Menare and I was the Medical Director of the Center for Disease Control in Japorri City for sixteen years,” he rattled off his credentials as if they had weight outside his own little niche within his community. “I cured cancer, for crying out loud! I created medicine that immediately stops watery and explosive bowl movements. I will thank you, young lady, to not make snide comments about what you know nothing about! Like how you can tell a blood disorder from a migraine headache.”

Humans had all but eradicated headache. So no, the Commander was quiet certain that the security officer wouldn’t have known what the difference was. Yet there was no need for the Healther to rant and rave against his officer.

“I don’t think she meant anything by that…..” but James wasn’t able to finish his defense of her.

“You don’t believe me either?” Menare said, wheeling on him in disbelief. “Why would you assume I would be unable to?”

“Nothing personal I assure you,” James said, holding up his bound hands calmingly. “However, my crewman makes a good point. I have seen your level of technology and it’s roughly where Earth was at three hundred years ago. And while I am not saying you’re not bright, you certainly caught us to prove you are, you must understand that our experience has suggested that you wouldn’t be able to with where you are at.”

The terrorist leader’s face turned red from frustration. He turned away from them and began to pace back and forth, mumbling to himself. James had always had pretty good hearing and he could pick up most of what was being said. He listened as the Healther ranted angrily to himself about these high-minded and self-righteous Federation types. What were they going to do now? He wanted Federation assistance to stop the genocide but it was obvious they thought so little of his people’s abilities. It also seemed to center on a lot of butt-hurt pride.

The man stiffened and pointed to a female in the terrorist group. “Go get two doses of the inoculation, Jezze,” he ordered. The woman melted back into the group as he pointed to a man. “Bring me the medical reader. And you, Barek, get me two doses of the medicine.”

“Righto, Healther,” Barek said, the only man that verbally acknowledged his orders as he moved off.

Menare turned to look at his captives and he had a grave look in his eyes as he looked down on them. As the large eyed man looked down on them, James was reminded oddly of footage he had seen of Vorta interrogators when they interrogated prisoners. He had never been at the reciving end of such, but the look of grave detachment was something that had always stuck with his since he had seen it as he waited for a new ship after the Tyra Campaign.

Jezze returned, two large needled syringes in each hand. With that stubborn grave look on his face, the Healther turned to face the second runner as he returned with a data PADD. He held it out to the Healther, the screen facing towards him as he pushed the two syringes into the PADD and pushed a few few buttons. The PADD chirped once and James could have sworn for half a second there was a green flash, but it was so fast he couldn’t be quiet sure.

“I really need the Federation to help me stop the monsters who are continuing to spread the Plague,” the Healther said. Sighing, the man stepped up and two terrorists swarmed to either side of Crewman Zekstra. She at once recognized what was going to happen so she tried backing away. Even as the two men grabbed her, she struggled as much as she could. “You leave me no choice. At least a hundred people die every six hours on this planet from the poison they are being fed. I am sorry for any discomfort this will have on you.”

“No, no!” James yelled at him, a feeling of anger and horror rushing through him. “You want someone? Use it on me! I’ll be your guinea pig, but just let Crewman Zekstra be!”

“I don’t know what a ‘guinea pig’ is Commander,” the Healther said as he grabbed the Romulan-Vulcan hybrid’s arm and pulled it closer. “Yet without this, you will never take us seriously.”

The needle plunged into the still resisting frame of the young woman and her cry of pain lanced out throughout the cavern. James couldn’t see what was happening clearly as one of the terrorists was blocking his view of his officer. With a grunt, the Healther pulled back. James could see a very small amount of liquid falling from the now empties syringe.

“Now you,” the Healther said, the terrorists swarming Enviro as the leader approached him. James was not so easily taken, and he wrenched free his arm before they could fully grab it. He shot up, slamming his forehead into the other man’s nose. The nose crumpled and hot blood gushed out all over the Starfleet officers forehead. The man grabbed his nose, crying out but his comrade’s fist crossed James’ chin, and he felt his head snap sideways. He had no time to react as the needle plunged into his arm.

The fluid burned hot as it was pumped in and he gritted his teeth. He tried to kick Menare, but his legs were bound in such a way all he could do was nudge his with the side of his calve. The needle was already out before he knew it and the Healther stood up, backing to where the PADD was still being held up.

“Vulcan-Romulan,” the man said, reading the screen. “The inoculation sends the info back to this screen here on what it finds. It looks like you had a strain of a very rare disorder among hybrids. Your blood ran unusually hot as a child, nearly killed you. What was it called, if you don’t mind the question?”

Zekstra said nothing, glaring sullenly at their captor. The Healther shrugged his shoulders. “No matter,” he said, returning to the screen. “Commander Enviro, it shows that most of your ancestors suffered from cancer. Also heart problems. Honestly, I don’t know what the medicine will do to you once I administer it.”

James shook his head. “There is no need to do this!” he argued desperately, “You do this, the Federation will hunt you down and kill you.”

“I would do anything to save my people,” the healther said, grabing the other two syringes. He turned and approached the Commander. As he moved forward, a memory of Borg wrenching open a turbolift door came unbidden into James’ mind. “If that is the cost,” he said, bending down, “So be it. But I need your help to do so. And that is why I must do this.”

The syringe plunged into James leg.

-------------------

“Are you sure about the distribution between the sensors and the defense grid?” Sele asked, looking over a series of gaphics and schematics that were before him. One of his team leads had returned from the surface, bringing with him all the data they had so far gathered. “I’d really hate to think that you were even so much a fifteen percentage off. Below that threshold, we will be good.”

“Absolutely sir,” the Rigelian said, pointing out a few parts of the digital blueprints that had been produced. “As you can see, the way we have it set up, we’ve already caught a dozen terrorists outside of the military base at Jappy Town.”

“Very good, Lieutenant, and if that is all….” The Bajoran said but the Rigellian shook his head.

“With your permission sir,” the man said, his nostrils flaring and the frontal ridges flexing. “My team, as we have already completed the work around Jappy Town, we’d like to assist in the search for the Commander and Crewman. The other five teams on the surface will do fine without us, but the Security team would benefit from the additional hands.”

The Bajoran stared at the other man for a few seconds. The Rigellian seemed really eager to get to it, but wasn’t sure if it was such a wise decision. Engineers were not nearly as trained in combat situations. Besides, a team of engineers counted for five people and those five could have been used to bolster the other teams.

“I think it would be a splendid idea.”

Lillian Traz had stood off in the corridor, waiting from the Chief Engineer and the Alpha Team leader to wrap up. She had always found Sele Kol to be attractive when he was in his element, although not nearly as cute as he looked now as he was both surprised and annoyed at the sudden and unexpected arrival of the Captain. But now as she heard the volunteering of the team, it was time to step out.

“That is of course, if Mister Sele says so,” she amended her statement.

“I don’t know, Kreeg,” he admitted, shaking his head. “Zeta Team was hoping for the additional help. The frequency resonators are having a hard time with the crystalline structures near Janna City. They were hoping you could give them a hand, as you have some of the top frequency specialists on the ship.”

“I can send Crewman Vargas over,” Kreeg said, “Besides, I don’t want her part of the overall helping. Even though she is eager to, I’d rather not have her messing up the rescue by being too eager to get to her fiancé. But trust me, sir. We can finetune the tricorders to be able to lock onto the combadges of our captured comrades.”

Traz saw Kol biting his tongue, something he liked to do when he was thinking. Truthfully, if the Wayne’s externally scanner couldn’t penetrate to find their missing crewmen, how would tricorders with less then 1% power be able to find them? But Kol finally nodded, and Traz felt relief seeping through her.

“Alright,” he finally said. “Contact Lieutenant Neer’shka once you get back to the surface. I believe he’s in charge down there while Z’org is stuck up her. Only if he agrees to let you join in the hunt.”

“Thank you sir,” Kreeg nodded and headed towards the corridor to lead to the transporters on deck 15. “Ma’am.”

Kol shook his head. “So what brings you around here Captain?” he finally asked, turning to face her.

“Do I need a reason to visit the Bat-Cave, Kol?” she asked with a wry smile.

The Bajoran rolled his eyes. “I really wish you’d stop calling it that,” he shook his head. “This is Engineering, not some part of some stupid comicbook series.”

“You read it!” the Betazoid exclaimed in delight. She didn’t read his mind, no his annoyance would have been clear for even a nontelepath to see. “Trust me, when you get your own ship, you can call it whatever you like. But on the Wayne, I call it what I want.”

The Chief Engineer shook his head. “So what did you need, Captain?” he asked, letting the subject drop.

“Is there any way we could penetrate deeper into the rock formations?” she asked him. She had given up trying to talk the Deputy Protector into helping them get their people back. “I am sure we could…..”

The Bajoran shook his head. “Our sensors are working at 115% power and that is as good as it well get,” he said. “The Norway-class sensors aren’t designed to take on more power. Nor is the design such that it can be tinkered or modified to get more. I’m sorry Captain, it’s just going to have to do.”

She shook her finger in mock threatening at him. Traz had started off as an Engineer and she understood the problems they faced. Despite the more elegant frame of the Norway-class, it suffered diversity for efficiency. It couldn’t even handle the futuristic anti-Borg armor that had been brought by the Admiral Janeway, although Lillian had always disliked that woman. If she had been in charge of Voyager, she would have set a timed explosion for the Caretaker Array and gotten her people back home before blowing it up.

“You should go out there and tear it off yourself and redesign it yourself,” she joked with him.

Kol’s face broke in a small grin. “Perhaps,” he said, “As soon as you get out and push this ship.”

“Nope,” Traz shook her head. “I don’t wanna chance of messing up my perfect hair.”

“Ha!” Kol fake laughed.

----------------

The phaser had stopped working, the Borg having adapted to it. Screams all around the bridge as each bridge crew was grabbed and assimilated filled his ears. Cocking his arm back, he threw it as hard as he could at the drone that advanced on him. It didn’t even try batting it aside, the phaser nicely bouncing off the chest-plating.

“Mister Enviro!” the Captain was shouting. His hands were gripping the Borg drones arms, keeping them up and away, shrinking into his Captains chair as far as he could go. He turned his eyes at him, backing around the Conn as the drone kept its advance on him. “Set a collison course. Ram……ack!”

James cringed as saw the tubules shoot forth from the Borg. It had adapted to the resistance, and the tubules shot across the two feet between its wrist and the Captain’s neck. The Captain slumped in his chair and James saw the Borg implants working their way through, crisscrossing his body like a virus.

“R-r-ram the ship! R-r-ram the ship!” the Captain ordered, his voice suddenly becoming horse and very harsh as the Borg nanites began to immediately work on his vocal cords.

James looked around, seeing his comrades falling one by one. No, no! He ran forward, and rammed the Borg drone that had been moving forward unstoppably full in the chest with his shoulder. The drone was sent toppling backwards, unable to stand. He turned back to the console that he had just abandoned. There was no time, he jumped on it and began to type in the desired course. He would avenge…..the pain flashed from where the neck connected with the shoulder and he collapsed to his knees, gasping for breath.

“You refused to take me seriously,” the Healther was saying, James coming out of the hallucination he had been having. He had been back on the Perspective, reliving when he had been…..assimilated. “Now, you will have to. You see what this medicine and inoculation has done to you! Now you can see we need your help!”

“Your voice has a very hollow sound to it,” James said, cutting into the other mans’ rants.

He didn’t see the man, his eyesight was blurry and foggy, he assumed it had to be the cancer that the medicine had accelerated. He had wanted to say that the man had been lying. Yet, what type of people would make such cruel medicine? Nothing had been wrong with it, as far as he knew. His gut was on fire, and it felt like spiders were crawling up his arms.

James nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a body squirm up to his. The touch had been like needles flashing through his body. “Co-co-commander?” Crewman Zekstra said, her voice not the proud and defiant voice that had laughed at her captors. It was small, almost childlike. “I don’t feel so good.”

The Commander’s arms had been unbound when his vision had started to go. He wouldn’t have been able to escape if he had wanted to. His arms felt very weak, and leaden. Yet he forced himself to raise his arm up and wrapped around the shoulders of the crewman. The heat from the Romulan-Vulcan was intense and he could feel the sweat even as he rubbed her upper arms.

“I know, Crewman,” he said, refusing to give into despair. He had survived the Borg, Romulans and the Jem’Hadar. He could beat these fools. “But don’t focus on it, focus on something else. Tell me something. Tell me anything.”

“Sir?” she asked, her voice soft and confused. The boiling of the blood could be felt underneath her skin, seeming to be roiling through her.

“How do you like your first mission with me as your First Officer?” he asked.

“P-p-permission to sssspeak free-eely?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said. He couldn’t see anything but he could feel the wry smile spread across her face.

“Missions with you….they….suck sir,” she said.

James couldn’t help but laugh at it. He could feel the young woman also want to laugh, but instead it became a grunt of pain. He winced in sympathy for her. They were both in a bad strait, but he would hate to think of how bad the crewman had it. She was being boiled to death.

“I-I am so-so-sorry,” she finally said.

“For what?” James asked.

“My fiancé and I, when…when we heard about your….re reputation, we were going to tr-tr-transfer,” she said at long last. “Every ship you…you served on….dead. She wanted us to---to go immediately. B-b-but I-I-I said no….not yet. A-a-after this---this mission. Yet….you shared the da---danger de—despite all that. I only wi---wish I was as s---strong as you. Forgive…….”

She took one last shuddering breath…..and slumped in his arms. He closed his eyes, anger filling him. No, he was weak, stupid. He wasn’t worthy of the forgiveness that she had given him in the end. Everyone around him had died, and if he had any sense, he would have left Starfleet. He could have been with his girlfriend, perhaps have become married. Leslie had been right to leave him, he was a curse to all around him.

“I am sorry it had to come to this,” the terrorist leader said, sounding small and pathetic. “Now you understand our plight so much more.”

Even as he held the lifeless body, steaming hot as the body processed its last blood as the heart completely stilled, Enviro couldn’t help but feel an anger. He didn’t care if Menare had felt he was somehow saving his people. This had been cruel, and even now, James’ legs were going numb. He could feel the Borg nanites so long dormant, being activated and his body beginning to be ravaged by it.

“Look, you son of----“ he began, but caught himself in the end. Insulting the man wouldn’t help anything. No, he needed to be smart. “You want help? Okay, you certainly have made a point. The Federation will listen, but I am only the First Officer of a ship. No, you want to speak to Captain Traz, she’s my superior. She can get you a meeting with Starfleet Command.”

“How?” the man said suspiciously. ”I have no way of talking with her.”

“On my uniform jacket you took off me,” James explained, all of a sudden a massive headache beginning to erupt. The pressure was beginning to swell and he felt like a balloon was beginning to inflate in his skull. “There is a…a….combadge. Tap it and say…..”

A flash of pain shook his very frame. It was like lightning was erupting through his body. He couldn’t think, he was losing all focus. His body began to go into a massive seizure, unable to take the trauma any longer. What was happening, was he dying? Was the darkness that was taking him the end? Would he met God? Or was he doomed to Hell for being the only one to survive when so many others should have. Blue and white light filled the darkness, and he knew no more.

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Act 9

 

The chest of Commander James rose and fell raggedly. His skin was clammy, pale and had a waxy complexion. The surgery pod was pulled over his body, and Traz looked at the scene from behind a forcefield that had been erected. Within the field, the air was purified of all airborne filth that even the scrubbers of the air recyclers were unable to filter out. Her arms were crossed, watching her Chief Medical Officer working hard, currently using a laser drill for some type of procedure to extract as many of the Borg nanites as possible without causing him to go into cardiac arrest.

Supposedly they were running so rapidly that using an EMP would not have necessarily just stopped them, but instead it would have shut his body down. Even as T’Lal worked on this, one of her nurses was using a hypospray and pressing it to various parts of the naked body, injecting medicines to neutralize the cancer cells running rampant throughout his body.

She shook her head, turning away from him and looking at the silver blanket that was pulled over the body in the only occupied bed this side of the forcefield. A young woman sat next to it, sobbing as she held a hand that she had pulled out from underneath the blanket. Even looking at it now, hours after death, she could see the dark ruptures of the blood vessels as they had literally been burned away. She would have to put Crew Vargas on suspended duty until she was able to get over her fiancés death.

I can’t lose my new First Officer on his first mission, she thought to herself grimly. His out-of-the-box thinking was the only way we found them. I need his resourceful mind, now more then ever!

Lt. Commander Z’org to Captain Traz.”

The voice cut through the thoughts that fogged her brain and focused her. No, she couldn’t dwell upon the possibility of loss. She tapped her commbadge and heard the satisfying chirp.

“Go ahead, Lieutenant,” she replied.

Our visssitor wishesss to ssspeak with you,” he emphasized the word ‘visitor’ the way a hunter focus his attention on prey.

“On my way,” she said, “Traz out.” A quick touch to the commbadge and the communication closed. She turned towards the Doctor. “Keep me informed, T’Lal.”

“Would I do otherwise?” the Vulcan asked, not turning back to her Captain, keeping all her attention on her patient.

Traz supposed not, so leaving her competent doctor to her work, she exited into the corridor outside. Security was one deck below where sickbay was, so it didn’t take her too long to get there. But the walk was long, filled with thoughts and anger. She very rarely had lost people under her command. It was one of the perks to working a peacekeeping assignment and border patrol. They very rarely had run-ins with bad-guys and she had always likened her ship to its namesake, John Wayne. He could ride into a situation, gun down all the bad-guys and get away almost scot-free.

Okay. Maybe not quite like that. John Wayne always had seemed to die in a ton of his films. But not without a whole ton of baddies going with him.

So every death was felt just as much as beforehand. She had once reads a report that Commander Data, the android that had served on the Enterprise. He had been talking about the different experiences he had encountered when people had died and he referred to at one point a conversation he had with Commander William T. Riker. After being told that closeness makes death felt more keenly, Data had made the observation, “But should not the feelings run just as deep, regardless of who has died?”

Well, she always felt every death just as keenly. And she hoped that never changed.

The doors to Security opened and she was greeted by the site of all three security cells being filled with seven terrorists per cell. Once the Commander communicator had been activated, they had been able to penetrate the rocks and teleport everyone out. By the sounds of it, this was the brainchild of the terrorist activities and without them, the terrorism would lose momentum.

“Middle Prefect,” a man said, standing and calling to her. She…..knew this man! The Deputy Protector had shown his picture to her and had talked so admiringly of him.

“Actually, it’s Captain Traz,” she replied, stepping up besides Z’org. She saw a dangerous gleam in the Gorn’s eye. Best not to drop the security force field! “You are Director Menare.”

“You heard of me?” the Director’s eyes widened, which Lillian considered a feat in and of itself. It was hard to imagine those eyes getting any wider than they already were.

Traz nodded. “You were killed by terrorists,” she said.

“The government would have executed my family if they had realized that I had joined the cause of life,” he explained. “How is the Commander? I do hope he is going to be okay.”

Okay? Okay?!? That sudden question and concern made anger flash through her. “You dare ask how he is doing when you poisoned him?” she demanded angrily. “What would you do that for? What did you poison him with that would cause this to happen? What did you do to my crewman that killed her so brutally?”

The Director sighed, grabbing the top of the holding cell’s deceptively open looking door and bent his head, sagging a little bit. “That. My dear Captain, is what you have been trying to help the Japorrian Government keep,” he said sadly, but with something that sounded like hope.

“What are you talking about?” she asked snappishly. “We aren’t trying to save poison…”

“But that is exactly what the medicine is that the Government had me create,” he interrupted her, lifting his head and staring straight at her. “Check all records on the spread of the Plague. You will see that the Plague didn’t even start in a region until the inoculations were distributed. Not one case has been reported in any of the cities, but only in the countryside.”

Traz frowned. She had not been allowed to see that data. Only the medical research done. The timeline of the spread of the disease was not a top priority of information shared.

“Have a team of your scientists grab the medicine that is in the caves you captured us from and study the chemical composition and the sequencing of the fluids of the inoculations and medicine,” he urged her. “You will see that it was not meant to cure disease, but to cure unwanted people.”

She didn’t want to believe him. She stared in those large eyes, and while they were different in shape to hers, they were human enough that she could read only sincerity. She reached out with her empathic skills and brushed his emotions. Certainty, steadfastness. A feeling of righteous vigor. Confidence in the virtue of his cause. And not a single iota of deception.

Reaching up, and tapping her commbadge, she waited for the chirp to acknowledge her touch. “Traz to Away Team,” she called.

“Sele here, Captain.” The response was a little fuzzy, and sounded like it was from three people speaking at once, all with the Bajorans voice.

“Mr. Sele, please collect and bring up any medical supplies from the terrorist caves,” she ordered.

That might be a problem ma’am,” the Chief Enginerr said, “The Japorrians already have all the cases loaded onto their transports. Didn’t let us touch them.

“Then throw a commlink onto them and we’ll beam them out as they move them,” she said, “But I want those supplies.”

Will do, ma’am. Sele out.”

The wave of relief that flooded through her was not from her. All around her, in every cell, every person had released a wave of euphoric relief. As if the battle was already won for them. She staggered slightly from the intense wave of emotions. Z’org reached out to her, “Captain?” She waved him off, but looked at the Director. Tears of exhaustion and joy were beginning to fall down his face.

-------------------

“I must say I am grateful for the chance to actually do something during this mission,” Commander Mila Greks admitted. “I was getting utterly board being stuck in charge of the bridge during this entire trip.”

The Deputy Protector glared angrily at them. She had voiced her objections this entire time, and now she was sulking, arms crossed her flat chest and huffing like a billows. Traz had allowed her here in the Main Science Lab, only because of the fact they were messing with Japorrian governmental property. She had never much cared for bureaucrats, Federation or otherwise.

“The hazards of being the Second Officer,” Lillian assured her. “So what have you discovered with the inoculations and medicine?”

“Well, Ensign Andi here made a rather….interesting discovery with the inoculations,” Mila said, nodding her head to a Bolian male.

“Explain.”

“The inoculation acts more like a searcher then a protector,” the Greek female said. Traz had always been amused that the Greek woman had a last name called Greks. “He tried it in a Tribble we were transporting from Wayne’s World during the last mission there.”

“That tribble?” Lillian asked, pointing to a rather large ball of fur that lay on the table before them.

“Yeah,” the Ensign said, in his excitement forgetting his station. “It broke into several groups and went searching, found some DNA and connected with it! It acted like our probes, ma’am, looking for specific things!”

“Like hidden rebel bases?”

The others looked at here oddly. Even the Deputy Protector raised her impeccably plucked eyebrows. She guessed none of these people had watched Star Wars. She nodded her head, indicating the explanation continue.

“It locks onto the DNA strands it finds, which always has one thing in common,” the Ensign continued.

“And what is that?” the Captain asked.

Greks put her hand on the Bolian, indicating she wanted to take the lead in finishing the explanation. The Bolian hung his head in embarrassment and stepped aside. Greks flashed him an encouraging smile. Lillian had always felt that Mila had always been a very good people person. A good quality to have as a department head.

“They all have strains of the worst disease you’ve either experienced or that are in your family history,” she said, “Once you put the medicine in, it transforms into whatever will kill you in your own DNA and then proceeds to kill you at an accelerated rate. That is why this Tribble no longer is with the living. It was neither large enough or healthy enough to keep itself alive.”

Indeed, the Tribble was stone cold dead. That was why Traz had needed to be pointed out it was there to actually take notice of it. No cooing, no throbbing body. Just dead.

“Did you all create a biological weapon?” Traz asked, turning to the Deputy Director.

“No we didn’t!” the older woman snapped. “You obviously weren’t paying attention to us. If you had, you would know that it just isn’t good enough to stop the Plague from spreading!”

“Then why did my officers become infected only after they were injected with the medicine?” Traz demanded. She stalked around the table, approaching the woman very slowly but menacingly. “The Plague shouldn’t have affected them at all correct? Then why did my officer become infected and only after they were injected with the medicine?”

Fear, almost blinding flashed through the Protector. Extremely strong emotions were not easy to hide, especially from someone who used their empathic abilities as often as the Betazoid captain did. She could feel the fear of discovery, the need to lie and deceive. She hadn’t actually thought that there was any truth to the conspiracy theory. Yet this reaction could only point to guilt.

“Anyone can be infected by the Plague!” the Deputy Protector retorted. “Not our fault if they came into contact with a bad batch of medicine. Besides, even if your wild accusations were true, what makes you think….”

Because I am telepathic and I know you are lying. I hear your very words. Tell the truth or I will fry your brains!

“We can’t allow the scum of the earth to bring Japorri under!” the Deputy Protector was suddenly shouting wildly, ranting and raving. “They were eating all our food, taking all our money. Giving refugee to Romulans and all other sort of alien scum. We had to stop them to save ourselves but we couldn’t risk the populace turning on the government by roundups. Just don’t read my mind anymore! Please!!!!”

“Actually,” Lillian Traz said with a sly smile. “I lied. I didn’t read your mind. “

The Deputy Protector actually swooned and fainted as the realization of her self-inflicted career suicide had been voluntary on her part.

 

 

Act 10

 

Captain’s Log – Supplemental: It is our last day here on Japorri II. Now that the Federation is aware of what has happened here, they will be severing diplomatic ties with Japorri unless they change government. On a personal note, I am glad for the return of one of my officers after nearly a week recuperating in sickbay.

 

“First, write me a letter.”

“A letter?”

“In Spanish.”

“Of course….To whom is the letter addressed?”

“To the Honorable Day Crockett Esquire.”

“You want a letter written to yourself?”

“Yep…..”

The door chime beeped as someone pushed the outer door chime. Lillian didn’t glance away from the movie, as enwraptured as she was by John Wayne. However, she was no so blinded by the film that she couldn’t answer her own door.

“Enter,” she called out.

The door slid open and in stepped a very refreshed looking James Enviro. He seemed to have lost a couple of pounds, and as she glanced at him, she noticed that the small Borg tech that had originally been on his left write had grown into something close to a bracelet. He stepped through, and glanced sideways at the movie.

“What’s this?” he asked, his voice a little horse from inuse.

The Alamo,” she grinned. “John Wayne is playing as Davy Crockett and right now, he is trying to get the senorite that is his heartthrob to write a letter to himself. You see, he wants to get his Tennessens all rield up and the only way he can think to do it is by faking out his men into thinking that the Dictator of Mexico is being a bad guy to them.”

She saw the glazed look in the Commander’s eyes and sighed. Why did she even try? “Computer, pause playback of film.” The order was followed with the movie freezing, John Wayne bold as brass and twice as handsome. She was laying on her very nice couch but swung up to a sitting position and patted the cushion her leg had just vacated. “Take a seat, James.”

“Thanks, Captain,” he said, seeming to be extremely grateful for the proffered seat. He sat down, sinking into it. He leaned back against the seat involuntarily, seeming to melt.

“You look tired,” she commented.

“Yes, ma’am,” he agreed, nodding his head. “It’s been a very intense first mission together.”

“That it has been, Commander,” she agreed. She lifted her leg so she could turn more fully to him, crossing the couch with it. “I must say, I like your final solution to capturing the terrorists. Getting them to use your own communicator against them. Good thinking.”

He sighed and shrugged. “Well, I am not sure that I can honestly take credit for it,” he said with no small amount of modesty. “I was dying and I guess my rather developed self-survival instincts kicked into high gear at the end.”

Lillian nodded. “But in the end. It was an overwhelming success and we were able to stop the genocide of that world. I don’t think they’ll come back.”

“They always come back,” James said, his voice becoming hollow. “They change and adapt. There is nothing we can do about it.”

His words drifted into silence and his eyes became unfocused. Traz looked at the slightly older Commander and wondered where he was at that moment. Was he on the Perspective, fighting for his life against the Borg? Or was he in the Tyre System, fighting the Jem’Hadar?

“Well, I look forward to our next mission,” Lillian said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Until then, we will patrol this sector of space. Make sure no Romulans are sneaking to our side of the Neutral Zone.”

“Let’s hope not, ma’am,” James said.

Lillian nodded and standing, walked next to the door. “Dismissed, Commander.” James glanced up at her, nodded once and stood. It seemed to take a great effort to do so, but once he was up, he made his way to the door. “Oh,” she said, as he got to her, “One more thing.”

“Ma’am?” he asked, looking down at her. Man, he really was talk compared to her.

“After our first successful mission,” she said, “I make it a point to have my First Officer make a weekly appearance for dinner at my quarters.”

“Ma’am?” James frowned.

“And bring a topic of conversation.”

----------------

Ensign Mary Crest snored softly in her sleep, as Tyler lay next to her. They had the weekend off of their duty shifts, which they could spend every moment together. It was nice to see his charms were not wasted on this woman.

He had always suffered from a little insomnia, but he refused treatment. He didn’t want to get dependent upon medication, but he’d soon be able to sleep. As soon as he got his mind cleared of everything. Yet, with the body of the beautiful woman next to him, it was hard to do so, because she represented the culmination of everything he wanted.

Adventure, love and advancement.

It was good to be him. It had been a very unique first two weeks aboard the USS Wayne. The USS Wayne, if the first mission was any indication, would allow him to have all the adventures and excitement he could have. All he needed was to stay on top of things. Do a good job, keep impressing the girl. That’s all he needed to do. They would recognize just how valuable he was and who knew, he could make Lieutenant in no time.

Tyler wasn’t overly ambitious, no. He had no desire to Captain his own ship or anything like that. He wanted to be high enough that people thought he was a cool dude, as the dad of the foster family he had stayed with called it. You had to be in a foster family at least when you were an orphan to be able to qualify for entrance to the Academy.

The Gruebers had been a nice family, located in a small village near the Black Forest in Germany. Fredrick Grueber had a very long line of fine military men in his family and he had helped the young orphan that stayed with him out of the orphanage near Hamburg to excel for the Academy entrance exams. He and his family had shortly died after Tyler’s acceptance to the Academy. Their house had burned down while they were sleeping, due to a lightning storm that had passed through.

You know that this could all vanish in just a moment. The voice, the one he always tried to suppress in his mind. The one that always came unbidden. He didn’t like it, never had. I am the one who gives you all this. Without me, you have nothing.

Tyler took a deep breath, centering himself. That was his only way to banish the voice when it began to mutter in his mind. It was his worst fears, his anxiety, his uncertainty. All given life. It wasn’t real, all he needed to do was keep it at bay, and there would be no need for further sessions with Counselors.

---------------------

Mila Greks walked alongside James. He towered over her by nearly two feet, but the woman certainly made herself seem much larger. It was the way she bore herself, something he found that he liked. He always had enjoyed fellow officers who could project presence.

She was a delightful woman to be around. She had a fine sense of humor, an impeccable off-duty wardrobe and was a pretty good dancer. She would be fun to serve around.

“I have a question, Miss Mila, if you don’t mind,” he asked. He glanced around the vacant corridor. It was 2300 hours, and almost no one was about. Actually, they had seen nobody the entire time since they had left the Opera that a couple of the Crewman had put on in the Rec Room on deck 7.

“Ask away,” the Greek woman said. “I am an open book.”

“Does the Captain always have her First Officer have dinner with her once a week?” he asked. It had actually bothered him since she had asked. It was a rather unusual request, and he hoped it wasn’t something overtly romantic to it.

“Oh yeah,” she said without thinking about it. “Ever since I joined two years ago at the start of Commander Julius Monitor’s turn as XO, she always has had the XO with her for one night a week. Gives her a chance to meet with them on a one-on-one basis. Same thing with the Second Officer. I always have dinner with her on Tuesday. Why?”

That made James fell far more comfortable. He had noticed that the Captain was far more flirtatious then he had ever experienced in a Captain before, and he had just wanted to know. He shrugged his shoulders, not wanting to appear like he was reading too much into it. “Ah, nothing really.”

They stepped up to a cabin which had a very nice painted glass window facing the hallway. “This is my stop,” Mila said. “See you tomorrow, James!”

“You as well,” he said, watching the little Greek woman all but run into her room, excited to be done for the night. He waited until the door was closed, before turning and heading down the corridor.

Alone in the corridor, he sighed. Glancing around, and seeing no one, he bent over and slid off his duty boots, pulling the both off and holding them in his hand. He stood, feeling the hard carpet underfoot and smiled. He really did like that feel under his feet. With that smile, there was only one place to go, and hopefully, the nightmares wouldn’t follow him. Hopefully not this night at least.

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Next time on Star Trek: Peacekeepers:

The Ruins of Empire: A Romulan ship decloaks above a Federation world, and the Wayne arrives to figure out what they are doing there.

Episode_2_Title.thumb.jpg.c2245d718d0410

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Episode 2: The Ruins of Empire

 

Teaser

 

Lieutenant Commander Beverly Train sat back in the central Captains chair on the bridge of the Wayne. She rubbed her neck just above her pips, where she had developed quiet an itch. Doctor T’Lal said there was nothing wrong, that it must all be in her mind. But she certainly wasn’t making it up! Her skin had been pretty raw the past couple of days. Perhaps she was allergic to the material of the uniform? It was a new one after her last one ripped during a rather vigorous training exercise in holodeck three.

“What is our status?” she asked, calling out to the front. She didn’t care if conn or navigation answered. It was just too quiet on the deck.

“All systems are running within a seven-degree variation,” the conn officer, Ops officer Beela Teeb, a Bolian lieutenant reported. “Our engines are running well-within the green. And life support is working at ninety-five percent efficiency.”

“Great,” she said, rolling her eyes at his report. For seven months she had served on this ship, as the Assistant Tactical Officer, second in the tactical/security hierarchy underneath Z’org. There had been absolutely nothing to preoccupy her time. “Bridge to Sickbay.”

“Sickbay here,” came the rapid reply. Yet the voice that responded, Nurse Beatrix Douerty, sounded a little too eager. “Anything I can do for you?”

“No, Nurse Douerty,” Train replied, “Is there anything that’s happened down there? Anything I can come down and help with?”

An elongated silence followed. A heavy sigh could be heard following: “No, although I really wish I did!” The sound of the Deltan nurses voice sounded just as depressed as it did absolutely bored. Well, that was that. Beverly closed the communication, feeling despair filling her.

Train sunk into the seat even more. She glanced at the digital clock that read on the command arm-rest interface. 03:11. They still had four hours left on their shift and the Commander felt her head would explode from the drag of time.

“Is there an asteroid out there we can pummel with a few photon torpedoes?” she asked, hoping against hope.

“No, ma’am,” Tactical replied.

“Is there a comet that we can tag with a few phasers?” she asked.

“No, ma’am,” came the reply.

“Is there a clocked Borg ship that can assimilate us so we get of this drudgery?”

“Sorry, nothing like that.”

“Come on!” Beverly said, standing to her feet and waving her arms in frustration. She turned in exasperation to the Bajoran male, who stood in his immaculately pressed gold uniform. “There has to be something out there, Crewman Betta!”

“You could always blow up Yallada Prime,” the Bajoran suggested. “Nothing down there but rocks and Romulan ruins, ma’am.”

There was indeed something to be said about shooting up a planet that once was home to the Romulans. It would give her a small bit of excitement and actually give her something to report when Alpha Shift took over from Gamma. To see the planet erupting in a fiery flame, burning the heavens with its glory, although it might be short lived, certainly had a great appeal to the Gamma Shift Watch officer.

No, no. That would be too much paperwork. Maybe not physical but certainly digital paperwork. Then there would be Admirals to talk to, perhaps the Federation DOJ, perhaps even get mind-melded by some jumped-up Vulcan.

“As good a suggestion as that sounds,” Beverly said with a wry grin, “I’d hate to be the one to explain that to the Captain.”

The Bajoran suppressed a grin, but not as successfully as he probably thought he had. Beverly turned away from him, feeling that if she stayed up here, she would go nuts. Well, at least she could leave the bridge. Stretch her legs, do something like that.

“Well,” she said, stretching her back as she said it. She felt her back popping in several places. “I honestly feel the need to talk a walk. Any of you wanting to arm-wrestle for command while I’m gone?”

She could feel more then hear Crewman Betta’s excitement growing at the prospect of a chance to command the bridge, even for a little bit. Yet, he would have to wait! It wasn’t exactly proper for a crewman only a year into his Starfleet service to command the bridge of a newer model starship! Even one a nearly a decade out of space dock.

Train opened her mouth to say something when the computer called out in a calm manner “Collison alert!” throughout the bridge. Train barely had time react when a Romulan ship decloaked right before the ship. The ship was massive in the forward viewscreen.

“Full stop! Full stop!” she shouted. Despite the laxities of the night shift, there was doubt the explosive nature of the response from her bridge crew. The flight officer didn’t even reply as the Vulcan’s fingers moved faster then was humanly possible. Ironically, everything seemed to slow down, although it was just adrenaline pounding through the Lieutenant Commander. Despite the suddenly lack of the essentials of responding to an officers request, she found it oddly comforting in those few seconds that the officer wasn’t taking time to respond verbally but acting without thought.

The ship came to a very sharp stop, and the inertial dampeners failed to catch the almost infinitely rapid shift from three-quarters impulse to full stop. The flight and conn officers slammed hard into their consoles, unable to catch themselves. Yet she didn’t see that, as she lost her footing and slammed chest first into the floor, crying out in pain as her arm connected with the Vulcan’s shoulder, both falling to the floor, the Vulcan on top of her.

The gravity caught up and she felt the gravity take hold. “Raise shields and ‘Red Alert’!” she called out, Ensign T’Pok struggling to get to his feet. He barely got up, and she pulled herself up. Her left arm was clearly broken, red flashes streaking through her vision, making it hard to see. She must have been rattled harder then she thought because she was starting to hear rapid chirping in her ears.

“They are hailing us,” Crewman Betta called out.

Beverly could hear the pain in his voice and glancing back, he was holding his stomach as if it hurt. Not like there was any reason to expect otherwise.

“Onscreen,” she said, turning back to the viewscreen. The Vulcan was holding his face, small trickles of green blood pouring from around his hands. She put her good hand on his shoulder.

The screen switched from the special view of the Romulan ship, which seemed now to actually be a small transport ship, to a view of a bridge. It was small, looking to be the size of a closet then a full bridge. It wasn’t the Romulan that caught her attention but all the equipment that was stacked in the back of the bridge.

“I am sorry to drop in right in-front of you!” the Romulan said, drawing her attention back to the Romulan. He had salt-grey hair, not bowl cut like most Romulans preferred, but his hair came almost to the eyebrows on his predominate brow. “I hope it did not cause too much stuff.”

“You broke my arm!” Commander Train said, scowling at him. “And you’ve hurt quite a few others on my bridge. What is your reason for being here, in Federation territory, Romulan?”

The man raised his hands defensively, as if he were the victim here. The audacity of him! She was tempted to turn those photons that they had Yallada Prime’s name on them on the Romulan intruders.

The Romulan gave an innocent grin. “Trust me, this is a case where asking forgiveness then permission and I can prove it!”

Train really hoped now that she hadn’t been so quick to desire excitement on this shift.

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Act 1

 

His body slumped against the console, his arms barely holding his weight as he leaned against the interface. He could feel the freezing, yet burning sensation of the nanites worming their way through him, cutting deeply into his veins. The whirring of the drone sounded behind him as it withdrew the tubules that had sliced through flesh, muscles and veins.

The violation, the realization that he had been invaded by foreign objects, seemed to burn a rage through him. It took some doing, but he turned to the drone that had stepped back once, and was reaching out with another arm. No doubt to transport him to the Borg sphere, the one his ship was on a ramming course towards. To become one of millions of thoughtless, mindless drones.

No! He leaped at the drone, his pain forgotten even as he began to feel his upper arm and shoulder began to go numb. The drone fell backwards against the unexpected assault. Was that surprise he saw in the drones eyes?

His good hand grabbed the hose that connected the Borg’s eyepiece to the torso. His fingers wrapped around it, hate and rage fueling through him. He was not going to become a drone! He was going to return home and be with Leslie, the woman he loved! No! The hand ripped outwards, and the drone began to seizure violently as sparks flew from the torn hose.

No! The ship rumbled as fire hit it, and even as he savaged the Borg drone, slamming again and again on it, fury driving all thoughts from his mind, he was going to slam his ship into the Borg, killing them all!

James Enviro, science officer of the USS Perspective, was awakened by the sudden slamming of the ship. He was upended, thrown in an awkward arc up over his mattress and his mind hadn’t even processed that he was moving before he slammed down, hard against the floor.

“Damage report!” he cried out, unable to move as his body was still stuck in the paralytical state of slumber. “Did we destroy the Borg ship?”

He lay on the floor, and no report came. He blinked and looked around…..where was he? Where were the Conn and Flight stations? Why was there a potted plant that was leaning precariously against the wall by its edge, somehow not having fallen from the impact.

His eyes swept along the floor, to see a fallen table, books scattered all over the floor. His boots had also been thrown against the wall. That made no sense. Why was his boots thrown against the wall? Wouldn’t they be on his feet?

James shifted his arms to under him, and pushed up, until he was sitting back on his calves. Why was he in taupe colored pajamas? Where was his phaser? What was the door doing right there? There should have been a viewport, showing the Borg sphere they had just rammed. His eyes roved around him, frowning at the alien scene. These quarters, were they his?

What in the name of Hell is going on here? He wondered in bewilderment. Is this how I see heaven? Have I died and gone to the afterlife? Or was that whole Borg thing a dream?

The Lieutenant Commanders arm felt stiff, so he raised he. His eyes narrowed as he saw the bracelet laced around his arm. It looked Borg, but how did he get it?

“All senior staff,” a woman’s voice called over the intercom system. “Please report to the Conference Room. Commander Enviro, go to transporter room one and meet with Z’org there.”

Z’org? James wondered to himself. Who is Z’org……

He had barely thought that when suddenly a lightbulb seemed to go off in his mind. No, he wasn’t on the Perspective, this was the Wayne. He had survived ramming the Borg sphere. It was months in the past. He was now Commander, not Lieutenant Commander, and he was First Officer of the Wayne.

“Commander Enviro?” the woman, Captain Lillian Traz called over the comm. “Are you alright?”

“Yes I am,” he said apologetically. “I got a little jogged by….whatever happened. I’ll meet the Lieutenant Commander in transporter room one.”

-------------------------

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“What happened?” Judy Ziz asked, poking her head out of her quarters as James Enviro walked by. He looked especially disheveled, which was only to be expected from how everyone had been thrown around.

“Have no idea, Councilor,” he replied, reaching up and running through his hair, trying to comb it as best as he could.

She stepped outside into the hallway, falling into step beside him. She pulled at the straps of her more civilian style clothing, tightening it around her petite frame. She hadn’t exactly had time to change into a uniform from her night gown, as the Captain had sounded most urgent in her request for all the senior staff to make it to the Conference Room.

“Sure a heck of a way to wake up,” she remarked, the Human towering over her by a head and neck.

“I’m actually glad,” he remarked, stepping up to the turbolift. They halted for just a second, until the lift obediently opened up, allowing them access to the cylindrical car.

“Oh?” the Trill asked, stepping in behind him. “Bridge.”

The computer beeped once to acknowledge the request. “Deck 15,” the First Officer called to the computer. The computer beeped again and at once began to descend. Most people wouldn’t feel it, but Trills, especially joined ones like her, were far more sensitive to gravity shifts caused by descending and ascending lift, shuttles and whatnot. And the more hosts one had acquired, the more pronounced the changes were. And with her currently on her sixth host, it was quite noticeable.

“I was having a pretty bad nightmare,” he said, in a moment of unguarded honesty that the Commander very rarely displayed. He was guarded at all times; refusing to give way to his inner-most thoughts and feelings. “So being so violently awoken was a good thing.”

“What was the nightmare about?” she asked, “My third host, Gaveree Ziz, was all into reading dreams and I am not so bad at it myself.”

The Commander glanced sideways and down at her, his eyes narrowing. She held her eyes, keeping as easy an air about it as she could. His suspicious stare did nothing to dissuade her from looking away.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Sir?” she asked innocently.

“Don’t pretend like you don’t know,” he dismissed her act of innocence. “I’m not going to open up to you. Talk about my feelings, certainly not on a turbolift.”

“So that means that we can schedule an appointment?” she asked, a big smile spread across her face. She automatically brought up to mind her schedule for the day. Judy wasn’t exactly one of those with a photographic memory, but she had a very good memory for things that were written down. She had always assumed it had actually come from a previous host, perhaps General Adha Ziz, who had a pretty good eye for details, as she had never been too overly concerned about remembering such things before her Joining. “I can schedule you in after Crewman….”

“No,” he said shortly, the lift coming to a slow stop. The door opened and he stepped out, leaving the Councilor all by herself.

The Trill woman shrugged. She knew that he has been ordered to visit with her and despite the fact that it had been a full month since he had first come on board, she was willing to wait for a little while longer before getting the Captain involved.

The car began to ascend, and she leaned back. Only then, with her back against the durasteel frame, did she realize her fingers were drumming on her leg and she assumed had been doing so since she first stepped into the lift with the First Officer.

Okay, you can stop it now Ziz, she commanded through thought. He’s gone.

The symbiont sent her an impression of thought, its understanding if not it’s reluctance. It liked making sure that the other hosts were represented as much as possible in her life, but Judy was a woman all her own, even with the worm (as her human friend Jennifer Rice called it) inside of her.

The fingers stopped drumming.

---------------------------------------

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