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CaptainSarine June 9 2013 07:28 PM

Star Trek Restoration - Darkness
 
Prologue

Bridge
USS Benjamin Sisko
Zeta Alpha Gamma 12
6th April, 2631


The Laurentii had brought them here to witness a miracle.

Perched on the edge of his chair on the bridge of the USS Benjamin Sisko, Captain Theodore Robau gazed at the viewscreen and the nebula represented there. Three Behemoths hovered in space before it, their vast bulks creating shadows on the crimson and violet swirls of gaseous matter. Located in the direct centre of the nebula were five oval objects, elongated and covered in uneven bumps. As Robau watched, one of the ovals vibrated violently, causing the nebula to swirl into motion.

"Sensors are picking up massive electrical disturbances within the nebula, Captain," Lieutenant Ro Gavel, his Bajoran science officer announced. "The eggs seem to be drawing particles from the charged matter, almost like plants drawing up sustenance from earth."

"Is there any danger to our ships?"

Gavel shook his head, eyes never leaving his holographic screens. "No, sir. The energy readings are well within safety parameters."

Robau nodded, turning his attention back to the screen. All around him, he could sense his crew doing the same. In all the years of the Occupation and the Rebellion, Robau had never imagined himself as an explorer. He had always been a military man, ready to lay down his life and that of his crew in order to see the job done. He had fought in more engagements than most of his generation, and more importantly he had seen his ship and a large number of his crew through all of them. He had survived. Now, to find himself out here on the edge of known space, on what was plainly and simply a scientific mission... Robau could hardly believe it.

Commander Nivara M'Roa, his Caitian XO, stepped away from her place at tactical and stood next to his chair. Although the Sisko had gone through a complete overhaul in the years since the end of the war, Robau had insisted that the basic configuration of the bridge remain the same. So although the ancient stations salvaged from pre-Occupation hulks had been replaced by more user-friendly modern holographic displays, the captain's chair remained on its own in the centre of the bridge.

Just so that you never forget that the buck ends with you, Teddy. Robau almost smiled at the sound of his wife's voice echoing in his head.

"We have yet to hear back from Redemption on the status of the talks," M'Roa whispered, her clawed hand coming to rest on the back of his chair. "So far, our attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful."

Robau felt a slight tightening in his chest, which he forced away as on the screen he saw one of the eggs begin to drift away from the others. He turned his head slightly towards his XO.

"I'm sure they're busy, Niv. Relax. Enjoy this. It isn't every day we get to watch the birth of a starship."

M'Roa tensed up slightly at the overly jovial tone he had forced into his voice, but after glancing at the screen her shoulders dropped somewhat. She smiled. Forced, but still a smile.

"Of course, Captain."

As she moved back to Tactical, Robau bit back a sigh. M'Roa had been assigned to the Sisko in the aftermath of the end of the war. Most of his command staff had been reassigned to other ships - their experience too valuable to be wasted as someone's subordinates. Robau had fought the new brass tooth and claw to hold on to his old XO, a crusty old Klingon called Kar, but it all had come to naught. M'Roa, who had served aboard a Caitian only ship during the Rebellion, still found it hard to adjust even though they had been together for a couple of years now.

Not that Kar would have liked this any better, Robau admitted. He would have been itching to be on the front lines in the war against the Klingons. In fact, Robau realised, he was probably commanding one of Starfleet's ships out there even now.

Thoughts of his former crew and the dangers they might be facing were banished as the egg he had seen earlier reached the edge of the nebula. The three Behemoths that had led the Sisko and her sister ships out here to this nursery cloud eased forward.

"The Behemoths are broadcasting on a theta-band," Gavel explained, his head bobbing as he looked from his display to the viewscreen and back again. "It is not in any language found in the Hegemony database. If I had to guess, I would say that it is the Behemoths' own language."

"So the Laurentii don't have anything to do with it?"

"I can't be sure, Captain, but I don't think so."

"Get me the other captains. I want to make sure they're catching this, as well."

His operations' officer, an Elasian male named Kael, manipulated the holographic matrix before him with practiced ease. The view of the Behemoth egg reduced slightly, allowing room for four other images to appear. Robau nodded to each of his fellow captains - Olivia Rhodes, a stern faced human woman of Native American descent, Trog, a Ferengi male with tattoos covering his prominent brain lobes, Mortan, a Klingon, and L'vok, a Romulan with the impassive countenance of a Vulcan. Each of them stood or sat in front of their respective bridges - Robau was especially interested to see the dank crimson-hued bridge of a Klingon battlecruiser behind L'vok. Although he knew that the man's ship had once been a battlecruiser, he had assumed that Starfleet would have changed the decor somewhat when it was re-purposed.

"Captains. I trust you are seeing what I am seeing."

"Indeed," L'vok replied. "Most illuminating."

"Can you imagine the latinum we could make with these?"

Robau smiled at Trog - he assumed the Ferengi was making a joke. Although after spending a meal with Admiral Qwert, he supposed he shouldn't jump to conclusions too quickly.

Most of his attention, though, was centered on Captain Rhodes. Of all of them, she had the ship the most well equipped and suited to a scientific mission. The Highland, a pre-Occupation Galaxy-class starship, had been refitted with the latest sensor equipment and a full laboratory section. Rhodes, however, did not seem impressed.

"I do not see what Starfleet hopes to accomplish by having us out here, Captain."

Robau bit back a sharp retort, reminding himself that the chain of command was much more clearly defined now than it had been in the Rebellion and that according to that chain, every single one of them were on an even keel. He couldn't go around browbeating his fellow captains like he had before the Dominion fell.

"I believe they were hoping we would learn something about our allies, Captain. And perhaps uncover some new technology that could help with the recovery. For now, though, I would like to suggest that we all put the full power of our sensors to work recording what is about to happen."

As the words left his mouth, the egg began to spin rapidly. Without needing to be asked, Kael increased the magnification on the screen, eclipsing the other captains, until the egg was all that could be seen, a few wisps of the brightly hued nebula just visible behind. The uneven bumps that Robau had noticed earlier began to pulsate as if something within was trying to escape. Ridges appeared, only to break apart, releasing dark liquids out into the void. As those ridges tore further, Robau and his crew - and the crew of the other Federation ships - got their first glimpse of what was beneath.

The infant Behemoth seemed to be rolled up into a ball within the egg. Its flippers and tail began to bat frantically at the egg surrounding it, smashing through the fragile material and freeing itself. As it came more fully into view, Robau realised that it looked exactly like the parent creatures, just smaller. And lacking the modules that were implanted on the larger creatures.

"The infant Behemoth is projecting along the same wave length, Captain," Gavel almost crowed. Robau hid a smile at how excited the young Bajoran was. "It is answering the adults."

On the screen, Robau saw the three adults move in towards the child, manipulating their bodies to bring themselves into a circle around the newborn.

"Lieutenant, see if you can broadcast the communication lines you are picking up."

Gavel nodded, his fingers dancing in the air as he called up the necessary commands on his holo display. Moments later, a deep throbbing filled the bridge. Interspersed within the throbbing sound were three keening whines, each pitched at a slightly different tone, that overlapped and interlaced themselves. As Robau listened, a higher whine entered the fray, tentative and tremulous.

The Laurentii really had brought them here to witness a miracle.

"Lieutenant, see if you can-"

Robau broke off as the ship shook around him. To his side, he heard Commander M'Roa stumble to her knees.

"Report."

"Captain, we have five more Behemoths exiting slipstream space behind us. One of them just fired on us!"

What?! "Raise shields, bring weapons online." Robau flipped a switch on his chair, swinging it around so that he could see M'Roa. "What the hell is going on?"

Back on her feet, the Caitian had brought her holodisplay down and spread it out into a desk-sized map of the nebula and surrounding space. Her deep red fur rippled with fear or anger at the sight.

"Confirm five Behemoths, all of them with their weapons active."

"Hail them."

A beat, and then M'Roa shook her head. "No response, Captain."

"Hail the other ships."

All four captains reappeared on the screen as Robau spun round again. Robau could see red lights flashing on each of their bridges.

"We are betrayed," Trog shrieked, his hands clenched into fists. "The Hegemony have lured us here to destroy us."

"Let's not jump to conclusions," Robau snapped, trying to meet each of his fellow captains' eyes. "We have no idea what is happening here. Have any of you been able to reach the Laurentii?"

Each of them confirmed that their attempts to reach the Laurentii captains had failed. In the meantime, Robau felt the Sisko shake three or four times, and he saw the images of the other bridges shake as they too come under attack.

"What are our options?"

"Fight or flee," L'vok replied, his hands turning almost white as he clenched the arm rests of his command chair. "I suggest we make a decision quickly. I am not sure how much longer my shields can stand this."

"Better to fight than turn tail like cowards," Captain Mortan spat. "My men are ready to seize the Behemoths and drag them back to Federation space."

"Not quite what I had in mind," Robau said. "We need to find some way of-"

"Hull breach!"

At first Robau thought that the shout had come from his own crew. It took him a moment to realise that it had actually come from one of the officer's on Captain L'vok's ship, the Gorkon.

"M'Roa, status of the Gorkon?"

"Their shields are failing. They have come under attack from the three Behemoths who accompanied us here."

Them, as well? "M'Roa, get us into position to protect the Gorkon. Gentlemen, ma'am, I would suggest that we work our way free and escape back to Federation space. We can try and figure out what exactly has happened here and-"

"Captain, the Gorkon's warp core is destabilising."

"What?"

The screen switched to a view of the nebula again. This time, Robau could see the three other Federation ships, each one surrounded by at least two Hegemony Behemoths. Off to the left of the screen, the avian form of the Gorkon was under the most intense fire, suffering a barrage of plasma from the three 'friendly' Behemoths. Robau could not believe his eyes - only hours before he had been communicating with the captain of one of those ships, discussing the event they had come her to witness. What the hell could have happened in that time to make them turn on us?

"Commander, can we-"

Before Robau could finish his question, a huge explosion ripped through the rear hull of the Gorkon. One of the warp nacelles sheared off, spinning out of control, spitting metal and fire. The explosions continued, following the lines of the energy conduits until they reached the bridge module where they erupted into a final conflagration.

Within seconds, the Gorkon was gone.

Robau fell back in his chair, unable or unwilling to believe what he had just witnessed. His stomach felt hollow, as though he had gone days without a meal. At the same time, nausea clawed at his throat, threatening to make him sick. Gone. Like that. For what?

The silence that fell over the bridge was broken mere moments later as the entire ship rocked around them.

"Direct hit. Two of the Behemoths that destroyed the Gorkon are now heading towards us. The others are engaging the Highland and the Tiberius."

"Evasive maneuvers," someone ordered. It took Robau a moment to realise that it had been him. The realisation shook him out of his torpor. "Get us out of here."

"Plotting slipstream course," his navigator said.

"Belay that," Robau barked. "Get us out of here at warp. We don't need slipstream, not to get back to Federation space."

"Aye, sir."

The view on the screen blurred as the ship's pilot brought them around towards Federation space, away from the nebula. Robau felt the Sisko shake around him as their speed increased up through the factors of impulse power, towards their jump to warp speed. They would need to get far enough away, though, for the energy field being emitted by the nebula to stop scrambling the warp bubble. Robau glanced down at his display. The Behemoths were lagging behind so far, but he wasn't sure how long that could-

"Captain!"

M'Roa's astonished exclamation brought Robau's head up. At first, the sight on the viewscreen filled him with hope. Seven Klingon battle cruiser's, each a mirror image of the Gorkon, had dropped out of slipstream space and were moving in to surround the Sisko. Reinforcements were his first thought. He had no idea how Starfleet could possibly have gotten so many ships out here so quickly and how they could possibly have know what was happening but-

But there was no way they could have.

"All seven ships have Klingon Defence Fleet transponder codes," M'Roa announced. Robau looked across at her and their eyes met. He could see in them nothing but despair. "They're Imperial Cruisers."

The Empire. Out here in Laurentii space. Suddenly, everything that had happened made sense. The Hegemony had made an alliance with the Klingons.

"What is the status of the Highland and the Tiberius?"

"They jumped to warp just before the Klingons arrived, Captain."

At least they got away. Robau gripped the arm rest of his chair. All those years in the Rebellion, fighting the Dominion, and he was going to go out against the Klingons. It didn't seem fair.

"Orders, captain?"

Robau stood, as if he could face the Klingons across the gulf of space with his own bare hands. "Charge weapons. Let's take it to them."

The Laurentii had brought them there to witness a miracle. But Robau got the feeling that there were no more miracles to be had.

Sandoval June 11 2013 07:14 PM

Re: Star Trek Restoration - Darkness
 
Very enjoyable.

I liked getting projected another two hundred years into the future. Some of the references felt a bit forced though, like the USS Benjamin Sisko and the never ending "Robau" who appeared for a minute in one film before getting stabbed.

I'll never understand the fuss about him.

CaptainSarine September 2 2013 09:22 PM

Re: Star Trek Restoration - Darkness
 
Chapter 1

Deck 9
USS Redemption
7th April, 2631


Doctor Malok was dead.

Standing in the shattered remains of Jasto Dax' quarters down on Deck 9, Prin Ly'et could only shake her head. Two security guards dead, along with the ship's chief medical officer. All of them killed by an unknown assailant who had seemingly escaped without a trace.

How had this happened?

Three murders in the space of half an hour. And two officers left in some kind of self-induced coma she only barely understood.

When she had left the bridge, Prin had been sure that Jasto had been behind whatever had happened, or rather the former Dax host Jasto had claimed was able to take control of his body. Instead, it seemed that Jasto had been a victim here. As she had arrived at his quarters, a group of medics had been rushing Jasto and Ensign Q'sar off to sickbay.

Leaving her without a navigator as well as a CMO.

"The causes of death are different," Vareen said from her place next to Malok's body. "Ensign Chin seems to have received a fatal dose from a poison administered by that hypo." She pointed one chitinous limb at a gleaming medical hypospray lying next to the young human officer. "Ensign Varta was killed by a phaser blast. Ensign Chin's phaser is missing."

"And the doctor?"

"He has multiple contusions to the groin, temple and chest. The cause of death appear to be a broken neck."

Prin swallowed. "You mean to tell me that whoever did this to him did it with their bare hands?"

Vareen emitted a clicking sound that Prin took to indicate assent. "A formidable opponent."

Who, though? That was the question no one had been able to answer yet.

"Do you have any idea who did this?"

"Not yet. However, I cannot imagine they will get very far. We are in a closed environment, sir. There are only so many places they can hide."

"What are you doing to track them?"

"I was about to run a sensor sweep for Ensign Chin's phaser. If the assailant still has it with him or her, we should be able to locate them."

Unless he or she has thrown it down the nearest refuse chute. Prin waved a hand, though, indicating that Vareen should continue with her search. The insectine Xindi stood, towering over Prin, the antennae on her head brushing the ceiling. Her two compound eyes glowed silver, a sign Prin had learned to recognise as excitement.

Without waiting for further orders, Vareen darted over to the ruins of the room's single desk. Using her raptorial legs, she lifted a small personal computer out of the shards of plast, setting it on the bed. Two smaller limbs located just below began to manipulate the controls, bringing up a search pattern.

While Vareen began her search for the missing phaser, Prin looked around at Dax's quarters. She had not been down to see the former Ops officer since he had been relieved of duty. Now she berated herself for that lack. She knew that Doctor Malok had been looking into alternative ways to help him, other than drugs, but she did not have a clear idea of what that entailed. As much as she tried to tell herself that she had been busy - with the mission, with the situation with Kalara, with the battle they had only just escaped from - she could not help but feel guilty. As if her presence might have changed the fate of the five officers caught up in this dark event.

A series of clicks brought her attention back to Vareen. The security officer shook her head from side to side, making a buzzing sound.

"What is it?"

"The murderer... They knew what I would do. The phaser, Ensign Chin's phaser, is right over there."

She pointed a forelimb at Ensign Varta. Prin studied the dead Romulan for a moment and then shook her head.

"He or she switched the phasers. Run a search for Ensign Varta's phaser."

"I am. I have also located the recording from the cabin's holo. I am accessing the minutes before the phaser fire."

"Let's see."

Prin moved over to join Vareen in front of the small screen. Within moments, a view of the very room they were in appeared. Prin frowned. She saw Jasto and Q'sar in one corner, facing one another, each of them with a hand on the other's face. Stood in the doorway was Doctor Malok and between them...

"Doctor Keene."

Prin knew very little about the human doctor. He had made little impression on her during her time in sickbay when she first came onboard. What was he doing in Dax's cabin? More importantly, where was he now?

Vareen seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "Computer, located Doctor Keene."

"Unable to comply."

Prin frowned and tapped her comm badge. "Prin to bridge."

"Bridge here, Commander."

"What is happening with the sensors, Lieutenant?"

Barani took a moment to respond. "It looks like one of the last attacks knocked out most of the sensor relays on Decks... 8 through 12. Engineering are on it."

Vareen and Prin shared a glance. Perfect. Their assailant could be anywhere, perhaps with Doctor Keene as a hostage, and they had no way of finding them.

Malok spoke, bringing her attention back to the recording. "Ensign Chin, please join us."

The two security officers stepped into the room, hands on their phasers. Why had Malok felt the need to call them in?

“Is there a problem, doctor?” Chin asked.

“That is what I’m trying to ascertain. I found Doctor Keene administering some unknown compound to my patient.”

An unknown compound? What had Keene been doing? For the first time, Prin wondered whether he could be the assailant.

As she watched Keene try to talk his way out of whatever he had been doing, Prin's suspicions increased. By the time Keene had grabbed Chin and pressed the hypo he had been hiding in his hand against his neck, she was hardly surprised. What the hell was he playing at?

“What do you think you are doing, doctor?” Malok's voice echoed from the display, an eerie sound considering that the doctor himself lay dead only a few feet away.

The next words Keene said send chills running down Prin's spine. “My job, shuvoth'shu.”

"Shuvoth'shu?"

"A Klingon insult," Prin said, her eyes glued to the screen, while her memory was replaying a similar recording she had watched over and over mere hours before.

“You heard me, shuvoth'shu," Keene was saying now. "I know what you are, what you’ve done. You’re a traitor to your race, dressed in your white coat like a lamb. I may have filed my fangs to pass amongst these humans, but I still have fangs where it counts. In my warrior’s heart.”

"Prophets have mercy," Prin said. "It was him."

Malok echoed her thoughts. "You betrayed the ship to the Klingons?”

“I betrayed nothing. I gave our people a glorious victory.”

The two argued back and forth for a few more moments, but Prin hardly heard it. She paid minimum attention to the rest of the recording, she could guess what was going to happen. Still, she was taken aback by the sheer ferocity of Keene's - or whatever his real name was - attack. Both of them watched as he killed first Chin, before using the young human's phaser to kill the other guard. A brief scuffle brought Malok down and Prin winced as the sound of the Klingon doctor's neck snapping filled the air.

As Keene left the room, Prin turned to Vareen. "Tell me you were able to trace Ensign Varta's phaser."

"I was, but unless the Doctor is hiding in a depressurised shuttle bay, I think he has disposed of it. I have sent a security team to check."

"And with the sensors out..."

"We have no idea where he may be."

"Find him, Vareen. I don't care if you have to use every hand on this ship. Find him before he kills someone else."

Vareen nodded, her antennae clicking together. "I will, Commander."

"Keep me posted."

As she headed towards the door, Vareen called out to her. "You should take a security detail with you."

"Don't worry, Lieutenant. There is all the security I need where I am headed."

"Where?"

"The brig. I need to have a conversation with one of the prisoners." As well as an apology. It looked like Ianto had been right.

Prin had hardly taken a few steps out into the corridor, though, when her comm badge chirped.

"Ly'et."

"Commander, Engineering. I... I think you should come down here."

"Can it wait? I know the repairs are important, but there are-"

"This isn't to do with the repairs, sir. It has to do with Commander Kane. He's alive."

CaptainSarine May 19 2014 01:40 PM

Re: Star Trek Restoration - Darkness
 
Chapter 2

Deck 17
USS Redemption


L'goth, son of Bartok, crouched down and eased his head around the corner.

In a quick glance, he took in the three security officers stood outside the main entrance to the brig. One Klingon, one human, one Ferengi. Ducking back into hiding, he began to calculate rate of approach, points of impact and threat levels of each officer. He had spent too long hiding in the shadows, playing the scared little lamb. It was good to be a warrior again.

Doctor Keene was dead. L'goth was reborn.

After leaving Jasto Dax's quarters, L'goth had fled to the nearest airlock, throwing away the phaser so as to better confuse anyone who might be coming after him. Then he had ducked into a hydroponics bay. Surrounding by plant life, the scent of moist earth and flowers filling his lungs, he had tried to figure out what to do next. His mission had seemed compromised, even impossible. Various scenarios had played through his mind - sabotage the ship, get into the armory and detonate a bomb, get to a communication's relay and try to get a message through to the Laurentii offering them an alliance... None of them had satisfied him. Again and again, his mind had cycled back to the same person.

Kalara. She had been his initial target, the person Lady J'tar had instructed him to replace. Astrid Williams had destroyed any chance of that happening by having Kalara take the fall for the message he had sent to the Klingons. As he had hidden in the hydroponics bay, though, L'goth has slowly realised that his uncovering by Doctor Malok might actually have been a blessing in disguise. If he could get through the next few hours.

First, though...

L'goth allowed himself another look around the corner. He would need to take out the Ferengi first. Once she was down, the human would be left vulnerable. He could him as a shield against the Klingon. He would need to be fast, though. The ship was still swirling with chaos in the aftermath of the battle, but that would quickly change. He needed to have achieved his objectives before that happened.

Taking a deep breath, L'goth tensed and prepared to attack. The moment before he turned the corner, though, he heard the swish of an opening door.

"... be back in the morning, alright? I'll bring Ianto. He thinks that he will be able to do something to help. You try to sleep, ok?"

L'goth peered around the corner in time to see a scruffy looking human leave the brig, passing between the three security officers. The Ferengi broke away from her two companions and followed the human down the corridor towards the nearest turbolift.

Damien. Kalara's human husband. L'goth felt a twisting in his lower belly at the thought. No matter his hatred of Kalara, she was a glorious specimen of Klingon womanhood. That she was wasted on such a man...

A thought occurred to L'goth. A way that he could achieve his objective in a much simpler way. He allowed a small smile to crease his face. Yes. This could solve everything.

Retreating back down the corridor, L'goth headed for the nearest turbolift. He had an appointment to keep.

***

"Medical emergency!"

Prin hurried after the floating gurney, her eyes never leaving Kane's pale burned features. The medic who had met her in Engineering looked around frantically for someone to help, but the entire sickbay staff seemed to have descended into chaos.

Officers and medics, doctors and nurses, all raced around in a frenzy of ceaseless activity. Voices raised in pain struggled to be heard over the ear-piercing screeches of overwhelmed medical equipment. The sour stench of blood hung in the air, laced with traces of burned flesh and smoke.

Seeing a doctor in a white labcoat with a Starfleet uniform on underneath, Prin swerved around Kane and the medic. Reaching the other man, she grabbed his arm, stopping him in his tracks and spinning him around. A middle-aged human whose short brown hair, beard and moustache were strained with grime and sweat looked back, his eyes wide with surprise.

"Excuse me, I'm-"

"Are you a doctor?"

"I- Yes. I'm Doctor Howard."

"What's your rank, doctor?"

Howard seemed as though he was about to say something, then his eyes slid across the command laurel on her collar and he swallowed. "Lieutenant. Lieutenant Jack Howard, sir."

"Well, Doctor Howard, congratulations. You've just been promoted to Lieutenant-Commander and Chief Medical Officer of this ship."

"What? No, I- I mean Doctor Malok is- And I'm just a-"

"Doctor Malok is dead." She hated to announce it in such a harsh way, but there was no time for anything more. "I need a CMO and you're it."

"No. I can't. This isn't- I wasn't supposed to-"

Prin took a step towards him. "Are you refusing a direct order, mister?"

Whether it was the words, the tone of her voice, or the look in her eyes, something got through to Howard and his back straightened. "No sir."

"Good." She softened her tone a little. "I know this isn't ideal, doctor, but this is an emergency and I need someone to instill a little order in this place. We can sort it all out later and if you still don't feel up to the task, we will find another solution. But for the foreseeable future, I need your help. Can you do that?"

"Of course, commander. Anything you need."

"Good man. You see the man lying on the gurney behind me?"

Howard looked past her, saw Kane and blanched. For a moment, Prin thought he was going to start blabbering again, so she was pleasantly surprised when he nodded firmly.

"That is our chief of Engineering. He is also a Free Borg drone. He was connected to that space station when something overloaded his implants. Your first job as the new CMO is simple."

Prin caught and held Howard's gaze. When she was sure she had his attention, she said, "Do not. Let him. Die."

***

After delivering her orders, the commander turned and walked out of sickbay, leaving Doctor Howard to clean up the mess that had been left by their battle with the Laurentii. Starting with a Borg drone who seemed to have lost all of his implants.

Howard shook his head. This was not what was supposed to happen. When they let him choose this as the place of his punishment, it had been under the strict proviso that he keep out of the way. That he not get involved again. And now, because of one unlucky encounter, he was in charge. All he had wanted was to be left alone.

A female voice echoed in his head. Just do your best. That's all anyone can ever ask of you.

The words forced his head up and his back straight. At the end of the day, when he had asked them to exile him here, it had been because he believed he could help people. And that was what he was going to do.

And to hell with the consequences.

He had a job to do.


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