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Old August 31 2012, 08:07 PM   #18
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twelve

Day 19

And the waters decreased continually,
Until the tenth month.
In the tenth month, on the first day of the month,
Were the tops of mountains seen.
(Genesis 8:5)


Shinar Sh’Aqba was lying down on a biobed, watching Aurellan Markalis standing over her. The doctor scanned the Andorian woman’s abdomen with a wand-like device while glancing at readings on the bed’s primary scanner.

Shinar wasn’t exactly what readings meant, but she gathered from Aurellan’s neutral expression that the news was good so far. Neither she nor her unborn offspring suffered any ill effects as a result of exposure to radiation and thinning atmosphere. That was the prognosis yesterday and the day before. Yet, the doctors were far from finished with all the comprehensive testing. She was completely ambivalent about the results of those tests. If she were in danger of suffering a miscarriage, she would be released from the obligations of motherhood. What was making her excruciatingly bored was being confined to sickbay for the last five days, courtesy of a suicide watch placed on her. Ordinarily, a suicide watch was seventy-two hours, but Markalis insisted on holding her longer.

“Everything still checks out,” Markalis blankly informed her. “Neither you, nor the baby suffered any permanent damage from the radiation.”

Sh’Aqba looked away from the doctor and rolled her eyes. She knew that was true based on the last few exams. Hearing it again was rather redundant with all the rest she was hearing just being medical mumbo-jumbo. “Then can I leave?” she asked with feigned eagerness.

“You’re still on suicide watch for another six hours,” Aurellan replied with a chastising smile.

Shinar propped herself up with her elbows and sat up to look straight at Aurellan. “Oh, don’t be absurd!” she scoffed. “I’m not going to try to kill myself.”

“Not overtly. But taking these kinds of risks is an indication of a death wish. That makes you a danger to yourself and your crew.”

Shinar sighed. Just more medical mumbo-jumbo. “But what’s the point of keeping me here the full five days? I could just slit my wrists after I walk out that door.”

“Andorians don’t have major arteries in the wrists.”

Shinar was not sure whether to be amused or annoyed by that answer. “Really?” she said with widened eyes. “That’s your response? I was making a joke.”

“And grounds for being kept here longer,” Aurellan retorted. “I ran a complete brain scan. And I crosschecked it with the Andorian central medical database. It took exhaustive research considering they don’t let just anyone see the most updated research on psychopathology.”

Shinar shook her head. She could take apart the circuits of this ship in her sleep. But words like “psychopathology” baffled her. “I am not becoming a violent psychopath, Doctor, am I?” she asked.

“Of course not,” Aurellan said with a chuckle. She handed Shinar a padd, adding, “There’s a biochemical imbalance consistent with clinical depression.”

Shinar stared at the padd intently without any understanding of what was on the screen. “But I don’t feel depressed,” she insisted.

“People with clinical depression don’t always ‘feel’ depressed. This imbalance means that certain stimuli can trigger depressive symptoms, including major life changes. I’m going to prescribe anti-depressants.”

“More medicine?” Shinar answered with a sigh. “Great. But if it’ll get me out of here.” She looked around to see no one else in the immediate vicinity. “Word around here,” she said in a hushed tone, “is that you’ve been overdosing on your medication.”

Aurellan sighed, hoping to avoid this uncomfortable topic of conversation. “It’s just a few extra doses here and there to deal with the stress of all the suffering and death,” she insisted, even knowing how hollow that rationalization sounded. “It’s not an addiction. I’ll be able to cut back after the war’s over.”

Shinar had heard this before from a few colleagues overcome by the stresses of the Dominion War and the Federation-Cardassian War. “Addicts think that at the beginning. It’s not something I’ve dealt with, but I’ve seen what it does to people. They eventually find that they can’t live without the drug.”

She seemed to be getting through to Aurellan, as she looked away from Shinar in rueful silence. “My holographic boyfriend said the same thing,” Aurellan said with a tone suggesting she was both confident she wouldn’t become an addict and worried that she would.

“Then if you don’t my word for it, you should take his since he’s a walking medical database.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind. I have to get back to work.”While still averting her gaze away from Shinar, Aurellan just sauntered into her office.

Shinar seemed genuinely worried for Aurellan even if she kept a professional distance from her patients. Through all the visits to sickbay, Shinar had still gotten to know Aurellan as a person rather than the reclusive and introverted young chief medical officer. Aurellan was always very serious, but could still crack a joke now and then. That made Shinar more appreciative of the rigid aspects of her personality. Maybe they were becoming friends, even if Aurellan did not realize it.

She was lost in those thoughts when a red alert sounded. She let out a loud exhale and fell back on the bed, having been reminded she was stuck in sickbay for another six hours. That the rest of the crew was scrambling to their stations and she wasn’t elicited a disheartening, perhaps even depressing, sense of helplessness.

###

Montage of 2010 HBO miniseries “The Pacific” (listen and watch for a familiar DS9-alum) featuring “The Good Die Young” by The Scorpions ft. Tarja Turunen

A vast armada of Jem’Hadar and Breen vessels of varying sizes ambushed the 273rd tactical wing while it was en route to a rendezvous with the 272nd at the Tong-Beak Nebula. Trios of Jem’Hadar fighters in single file formation quickly took out Nebula and Miranda-class light cruisers and Klingon Birds-of-Prey, while the Breen fighters were more spread out, firing plasma charges that destroyed even more light cruisers and fighter shuttles. Jem’Hadar attack cruisers and battleships fired disruptors and plasma torpedoes at a large number of Akira, Steamrunner, and Excelsior-class vessels. Those Starfleet ships were able to destroy attacking ships just as quickly as they were being destroyed. Some swarms of torpedoes did heavy damage to the forward hulls of the Lambda Paz and two outlying Luna-class ships.

***

“Return fire!” Limis barked. “All forward phasers.”

The captain sat in the command chair keeping a close eye on her tactical display while the bridge was shaking in all directions. Morrison tightly gripped the tactical station with both hands as the bridge lurched forward for a brief moment, and he quickly keyed a targeting sequence once the shaking stopped. “Direct hit on one ship’s starboard nacelle,” he reported. “It’s moving off. The other two ships to port are locking on.”

Kozar rose from his chair and slowly sauntered towards the helm. “Helm, evasive pattern gamma five,” he instructed Carson. With a quick glance towards Huckaby at ops, he added, “Auxiliary power to number two shield.”

The bridge rocked in both directions as the attack cruisers fired disruptors and the battleship fired more barrages of torpedoes.

“We’ve got hull breaches on decks three, four, and five, forward section eight through thirteen,” Carson reported while practically hunched over her station.

Limis jumped up from her seat as well and looked in Morrison’s direction. “Status of forward shields?” she inquired.

“Back up to forty-eight percent, sir,” Morrison calmly replied.

“Keep firing all forward phasers,” the captain ordered. “Helm, move us in closer to that battleship.”

“How much closer?” Carson apprehensively wondered.
“Right up his throat, full impulse,” Limis emphatically stated. “Prepare another spread of quantum torpedoes. Dispersal pattern foxtrot. Fire on my mark.”

Carson then began counting down from one thousand meters in two hundred meter increments. “Eight hundred meters, six hundred…four hundred…”

“Captain?” Kozar nervously gasped, knowing that any closer would most likely destroy them as well.

“Fire!” Limis barked.

The swarm of torpedoes destroyed the battleship and one outlying attack cruisers while quick phaser bursts inflicted considerable damage to two other attack cruisers. The three attack cruisers to starboard swing around and laid down additional fire at the stern of the Lambda Paz as it emerged from the fireball of destroyed ships. The onslaught of weapons fire damaged the aft torpedo tube on the upper sensor pod. The other two Lunas alongside Lambda Paz and a Prometheus-class vessel formed up closer, taking out three fighters and damaging one of the attack cruisers with phasers. The Lambda Paz then did a near full one hundred eighty degree turn and fired back and forth rounds of phasers and torpedoes.

Kozar headed back to his chair and saw a flashing blip on his side control panel moving closer to a Starfleet delta that represented the Lambda Paz. “See those three heavy cruisers hovering just outside of our weapons ranges?” he asked Limis and Morrison.

Limis nodded to Morrison, signaling him to be ready at a moment’s notice. “I see them,” she said while hovering over the control panel next to her chair. “They’re closing in. All power to dorsal shields.”

“It might be tough with starboard EPS lines out of commission,” said Huckaby, “but I’ll do what I can.”

***

A Dominion heavy cruiser, flanked by two Breen heavy cruisers swooped in on what was left of the Alliance fleet, firing quick barrages of plasma torpedoes. Allied light cruisers and fighter shuttles continued dropping like flies while bigger ships sustained moderate to severe damage from enemy fire. The heavy cruisers then moved back upwards with smaller ships gathering alongside it on the port and starboard sides. Once clear of the Federation Alliance fleet, all the ships streaked into warp.

“I don’t believe it,” gasped Morrison. “They’re all moving off.”

“Heading?” Limis asked.

“Deeper into Dominion territory.”

“Do we pursue?” Kozar inquired.

Limis shook her head and sat in the command while letting out a sigh of relief. “Negative,” she said. “We need to dress our own wounds before deciding our next course of action.”

She stared at the viewscreen, watching the backs of the attacking ships as they moved further and further away. They’re sudden withdraw could not have come at a better time even if it was not consistent with how thorough the Jem’Hadar were in destroying a target. As Limis was speculating five days earlier in the Daxura system, they were simply trying to soften them up for a major offensive.

The unexpected lull in combat was certainly welcome, but Limis was certain that sooner or later, the worst was yet to come.
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