The first thing she heard upon regaining her awareness was the hiss of the atmosphere equalizing.
Lieutenant Commander Karina Requo took in a deep breath of recycled air and opened her eyes to find only darkness. Her last thought had been that of the crew around her losing their minds. A phaser fight in the corridor. The terrible whine told Requo one thing. They weapons were set to kill. The room she was in was only lit by the faint whisper of light coming from a display monitor. Swinging her legs over the edge of the stasis unit, she planted her feet on the deck and padded to the terminal where an amber light was flashing indicating a recorded message awaited her. Keying the device, it came to life. “Karina,” said a voice masked in a hushed whisper. Requo immediately recognized it as Chief Science Officer Miller. “Everyone’s dead. Captain Regis and Commander Roberts actually strangled each other right on the bridge. Doctor Kaz said he had no idea was going on right before he pulled out a phaser and blew his head off. All I know is that it has something to do with the area of space we’re in. It’s completely disrupting humanoid neural pathways. I found you unconscious on Deck Four, and got you into stasis. You were lucky. Another minute and you would have been infected. I’ve started feeling it to. The overwhelming dread that something terrible is about to happen. I’m going to go to the Armory and get a weapon. I’ll keep you safe my love. Be well.”
Requo felt her eyes sting with tears. Adrian Miller had been her friend for years, her lover for almost just as long. With him dead and the rest of the crew gone, how the hell was she supposed to get home?
Before she could fully order her thoughts the lighting in the room went to full and she gasped at the carnage. Adrian lie on the deck, his throat cut open, his lifeless eyes staring into the abyss. As she moved toward him, she suddenly lost her footing and was pitched to the deck. A half snarl-half hiss erupted behind her. “Do not move, Terran.” Requo ignored the order and spun around and screamed.
Standing before a two and a half meter tall Gorn. Wonderful. Before should could react, the slave master’s shock prod made contact with her face and she dropped to the deck.
Slarr laughed despite himself. To see a Terran toiling alongside the other slaves was delicious irony. Ever since they’d taken over Vulcan and came out into the galaxy, they’d been looking for a fight and weren’t to picky about their targets. The Andorians and Tellarites had banded together along with Orions and just about every other species in this part of the galaxy. The result was the ship he was aboard now. The Tholians had lured a vessel from the future in the hopes of gaining technology that could be used against the Terran Empire. Given their lack of humanoid abilities, they had hired Slarr to gut the ship, called Defiant, and bring all the technology to the Tholian High Command. The plan had worked perfectly, the ship was from nearly a century in the future and from a different quantum reality where the Empire never existed. And his new acquisition the Terran female was the only one left, ensconced in a stasis tube when the interphase weapon and driven the ship’s crew to madness murder and suicide.
Standing on the upper level of main engineering, Slarr watched as the slaves pulled the ship apart and loaded the parts on a hover sled. Afterwards they would take it to the hangar deck and the Tholians would relocated them to the asteroid base in which the ship was docked.
Suddenly the lights brighted and the deck plates thrummed. Slarr spun around and tapped at the main sequence controls. The warp core and primary power had come online. The commands had been issued from the bridge. We deceived life support up there, Slarr thought. Snapping his teeth, he hissed as the impulse generators kicked in and the entire compartment was filled with the twang of discharging phasers. The slaves, the Terran included, looked around in confusion. Slarr pulled this shock proud from his belt and took one final glance at the scanner display. Terrans. Four of them. On the bridge. Along with a single Vulcan. Slarr slid down the access ladder and assembled the slaves. “If any of you tries to help the people invading this ship I will kill you. Disperse throughout the ship and disassemble as much as you can.” He hefted his prod. “I WILL kill you if you disobey me. Go!”
“Grav plating is at 20 G’s.”
Being hit with the gravity forces pinned Requo to the interior of the Jefferies tube. After tracking this sadistic people for the past several hours, she’d finally thought she’d see them killed. Like every officer in the Fleet, she’d read the reports from the Enterprise last year about another quantum reality that crewmembers had crossed in to. From what she could tell, these people were from that same universe but a hundred years in the past. Jonathan Archer was one of the most recognizable figures in Federation history. But his mirror counterpart was a thug, stalking the corridors trying to kill the Gorn slave master that had driven his captives to disassemble the Defiant and prevent it from falling into the hands of the Terran Empire. As the gravity waves pressed on her, she reached for the tricorder slung over her shoulder. As soon as she’d escaped and gotten into the Armory, she’d set the scanner to emit thorons, effectively masking her life signs. Her arms fought her as she tried to keep the device from being crushed.
Outside in the corridor she heard a barrage of weapons fire.
She held her self perfectly still but it didn’t matter. The tricorder lost it’s battle with the intensified gravity field and the sling snapped and it crashed the deck and shattered.
“Sir,” a muffled voice said. “Picking up another life reading in the tube. Human.”
Before she could move, the gravity returned to normal and the access hatch flew open.
“Well well well,” Archer said. “What have we hear?”
“Computer,” Requo shouted, “execute Command Override Omega Nine.”
Strapped the biobed in Sickbay, Requo screamed as another device was slapped across her face. The intense pain shot into every nerve cluster in her body.
“According to the ships records you are a watch commander,” a voice said. strapped to the table and unable to look around, she couldn’t see who was asking the question. In her field of vision should could only see a badly burned man in a red security uniform lying unconscious on the bed across from her. “Tell us everything you know about this ship’s tactical array.”
Requo bit her tongue to shake the pain away and tasted the metallic tang of blood as it seeped down her throat. As her vision cleared she saw the form of a Denobulon over her. “Believe me, Commander, it will be much easier to answer my questions. She isn’t as lenient as myself. Given our recent actions it would be best for you to tell us what we want to know before we reach Earth. because when we do a great many people will die. You can help prevent that.”
Requo fought for consciousness. They’d beat her, shocked her, threatened to vivisect her. All they wanted were the access codes to the Defiant’s weapons. The codes that she had constructed and used in her final moments of freedom to lock out. The codes that had also locked down the helm. She knew they were headed towards Earth, defenseless, and stood a good chance of being blown out of the sky. She could tell by the vibration of the ship that they were running upwards of warp nine.
The doors to sickbay hissed open. “Doctor. Leave this one to me. There’s something in the captain’s quarters you need to take care of.”
She could see Phlox bristle. “At once, Majesty.” he bowed and left the medical bay.
Above her the mirror counterpart of Hoshi Sato, Empress Sato, if the declaration over the ships comm system was correct. Archer was dead, Sato was in charge now. And warping towards Earth to take her place on the throne. “You’ve been quite resistant to our methods,” Sato said, her breath tickling Shull’s ear. “Perhaps we’ve been going about this the wrong way.”
Requo eyed her carefully. Her entire crew was dead, she was the lone survivor, and lost in this twisted nightmare of a universe. She blew a sigh between her parched lips. “How can I serve you?”
Their lips parted and Hoshi Sato smirked with a feral grin. “You’ve not given me what I need, Commander. What more is it going to take to get your cooperation?”
Lieutenant Commander Karina Requo shivered and shook her head, pulling her uniform tunic more securely around her. “I’ve given you everything I can,” Requo said.
Hoshi sighed and turned around to the computer terminal on the desk. Flipping on the com grid, she averted her eyes. “You know what will happen if you don’t help us. We are nine hours away from Earth. Once we arrive I’m going to have to obliterate Starfleet Headquarters if they don’t acknowledge my claim to the Empire. That’s going to enrage Fleet Admiral Robinson. He’s going to throw everything he has at us, and with our systems down, we will die.”
“Then we’ll die and yet another murderer will be put down,” Requo said. “You’ve done your best, Majesty. Despite your rather voracious appetite in the bedroom you’re still something of an amateur.” She crossed her arms. “You’re going to have to do your worst.”
“Tucker to Sato.”
Sato didn’t avert her eyes as she flipped on the com united embedded in the desk. “Go ahead.”
“We broke through the decryption, Majesty. Phasers and torpedoes are back online. Helm’ll be up in ten minutes.”
Requo felt the blood drain from her face.
Sato smiled and took Shull’s chin in her finger tips. “There isn’t a man on this ship, or woman for that matter who wouldn’t give their left arm to experience my ‘amateur appetite.’ And since you did provide a brief amusing diversion, I’m going to let you choose how you die.” Suddenly her fingers tightened into a fist and was driven across Shull’s face. “You have five minutes to decide, Commander.”
The doors to the captain’s quarters hissed open and Travis Mayweather and Corporal Chang entered and grabbed Requo by each arm. “What will it be Commander?” Hoshi said coldly.
Requo shook her head. “You can’t be serious. I’ve done nothing to you. And you can’t imagine I’m going to walk willingly to my death.”
“No, I suppose you won’t,” Sato said. “Looks like we’ll have to be creative. Doctor Phlox has been chomping at the bit to try out some of your 23rd century medical equipment. Looks like it’s time he got to work on you.”
“Empress, I cannot thank you enough!” Phlox beamed with his unnatural Denobulon grin, stretched across his entire face. “This technology is miraculous.” he picked up a small cylindrical device. “Laser scalpel, watch!”
He moved towards the strapped down form of Commander Requo on the biobed. She stared off into space, trying to remain calm, knowing full well what was coming. Phlox took her right hand in his. He activated the device and moved it across her knuckles.
Requo howled in agony as her digits dropped onto the metallic blanket, the cauterized stumps of her fingers smoking.
“And this!” he said, picking up a hypo. “It’s called cordrazine! A single drop can restart a stopped heart. It’s going to be amazing to see what forty cc’s will do.” He prepped the hypo, thumbed off the safety pin and held it a centimeter from Shulls neck. “Any last words?”
Requo closed her eyes. She felt the cool his of the hypo. Her eyes bulged open, her heart began racing, sweat pouring from her brow. Sato moved to her side. “You could have ruled an empire at my side. But you chose to be a stubborn coward. The very kind of Terran that would doom us all against a galaxy full of inferior aliens.”
Requo tried to speak, but it only came out as a muffled scream. Her chest heaved and contracted. She clawed at Sato, her nails digging into the Empress’ face, drawing a thin stream of blood. Sato laughed, kissed her one last time.
Requo didn’t register the tenderness of the kiss as her heart exploded.