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Old August 19 2014, 08:03 AM   #31
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

The Viidians in action. You do a good job at keeping us somewhere between sympathy and outrage even if what Lareth is doing here is just completely wrong.
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Old August 19 2014, 08:33 AM   #32
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Damn, but that's cold. The horrors love and desperation can unleash.
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Old August 23 2014, 03:00 PM   #33
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Thanks for reading CeJay and Gibraltar. I wanted to show how the Vidiians might have felt or what could drive them to do the terrible things they did, at least for Lereth. I think it adds a bit more complexity to the situation where it isn't just black and white.

************************************************** ***************

Conference Lounge
USS Aldebaran

“He struck my father first,” Fontin recalled, anguish contorting his features, “with a terrible weapon, one that lit up like a sun, blinding me. I still remember….and I remember my father falling, on the ground, clutching his sides, grasping for breath.

My mother ran to him, cradled him, and then the man, the demon, approached her. He…he held the weapon over her. I charged him, and he batted me away. He looked at me, and I’ll never forget the expression. It was part appraisal, part sadness.

‘Too young,’ he said before returning to my mother. I later learned that he stole both of their lungs.” His eyes watered, but his face was stone cold.

“Fontin’s family weren’t the only ones,” Sesban spoke up, “The Vidiians attacked many of our species, in addition to other races. They thought that once a cure had been found for their affliction that all would be forgiven, that they could go on living their lives on the bones of others, but that will never happen.”

“Yes,” Fontin nodded, “We joined with others, routing them from the planet Vaphora, and following them all the way here. We will have our revenge, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

“I see,” Captain Awokou stroked his chin, taking in everything the men said. He gazed at his senior officers. There was a mix of troubled and horrified looks on their faces.

“You might want your revenge, and certainly the Vidiians have to account for their actions, but what about the Eonessans? They are innocents, victims of the Vidiians as well. Doctor?”

Xylia explained how the Vidiians had inflicted the neural disease, the ‘brain fever’, upon the Eonessans. Fontin shook his head sadly while Sesban stared daggers.

“The Eonessans have been harboring these criminals,” Sesban said, “They will suffer the same fate.”

“I can’t allow that,” Awokou declared. “The Eonessans are bystanders.”

“And the Vidiians deserve to be tried,” Commander Thayer interjected, “How can we know which among them are innocent as well?”

“Commander Thayer is correct,” Awokou said, “There needs to be due process.”

“ ‘Trials’? ‘Due process’?” Sesban sneered. “There was none for Fontin’s family, or so many others. The stain of the Vidiians will be wiped from the galaxy!”

Awokou was taken aback by the man’s hatred. While the Vidiians’ crimes were monstrous, he could no more countenance genocide as a remedy. He struggled to find a way out of this, and finally arrived at: “We will take you back to your fleet. There I will explain our situation to your commanders and hopefully arrive at a solution that spares the Eonessans and insures that only the guilty among the Vidiians receive justice.”

“Good luck with that,” Sesban scoffed, sitting back in his chair.

“Captain, your attempt is noble, but is doomed to failure,” Fontin said. “There has been too much blood shed. Our peoples cry out for rectification.”

“And they can have it, in a way that is just, that doesn’t stain you as the Vidiians have been tainted,” Awokou urged.

“Our commanders may listen,” Fontin said, “But it is doubtful they will be swayed.”

“We have to try,” Awokou stated. Fontin nodded and Sesban did so reluctantly. Awokou started to get, but fell back to his seat as the ship rocked.

He looked at Commander Thayer and the woman had a similarly perplexed look.

“Someone just fired on us,” Lt. Loto got out right before the ship went to red alert, washing the conference room in red.

Awokou jumped out of his seat and thundered to the bridge. The duty officer hopped out of the center chair, a tight expression on her face.

“Lieutenant, what just happened?” Awokou demanded.

“Sir, it’s the Vaphorans,” she said, “They just fired on us and they’re moving to do so again.”
************************************************** **************
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Old August 24 2014, 12:15 AM   #34
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

************************************************** **************

Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

The ship shook again. “Minimal damage,” Lt. Loto, who had taken over at the tactical station, said, his face buried into his console screen. On the main screen the Vidiian ship had come about, its weapons’ ports crackling with charging energy.

“Hail the Vidiians,” Captain Awokou ordered. Lotura seemed like a sensible counterpart. He hoped to talk some sense into her, though he couldn’t quite quell his discomfort that she had attacked Aldebaran.

“The Vidiians are responding,” Lt. Shibata replied. “Onscreen now sir.” The image shifted to the bridge of the other ship. The captain stood up. Awokou put on his best poker face.

“Speaker Vinaren,” he said slowly, “Where is Commander Lotura?”

The dark skinned Vidiian leaned forward in her seat, her expression cold, “Commander Lotura has been relieved.”

“May I ask why?” Awokou inquired.

“She didn’t agree with this course of action,” the Vidiian leader admitted.

“I would concur,” Awokou said, “Violence should be the last resort always. I’m certain we can come to some agreement without an exchange of fire.”

Sesban snorted loudly behind him. The two Neth had poured out onto the bridge with the rushing senior officers. Out of the corner of his eye, Awokou noticed they had taken up position near the turbolift, thankfully out of the way of his crew.

“I see where this is going,” Vinaren charged, “You mean to hand us over to our pursuers.”

“I said nothing of the sort,” Awokou shot back, his cheeks warming at the accusation.

“You will sacrifice my people, likely the only survivors left from our colony, to pay for crimes we didn’t commit.”

“All Vidiians are guilty!” Sesban couldn’t restrain himself. He jabbed a finger at the main screen. “Those that didn’t steal organs received them.”

“That’s not true,” Vinaren shook her head. “Some of us were immune to the Phage.”

“Yet you countenanced the barbarity of our brethren,” Fontin said quietly, the softness more damning than Sesban’s fury. Vinaren blinked.

“The Vidiians are charging weapons,” Loto said.

“Evasive maneuvers,” Awokou ordered, “Full power to forward shields.”

“Vidiians are firing,” Loto said.

“Brace yourselves!” Awokou commanded. He sat back down and gripped his armrests. The ship trembled terribly from the barrage.

“Shields are holding,” Loto replied with unflappable calm.

“Time to return in kind,” Commander Thayer said through gritted teeth.

“I agree Commander,” Awokou said, “Return fire,” he ordered. “Aim for their weapons and propulsion.”

The deck plates shuddered from the familiar, though always unfortunate, phaser fire. Reddish yellow beams struck the Vidiian ship.

“No impact,” Loto said, his voice neutral. If he was disappointed the phasers didn’t do the trick he didn’t show it.

“Fire again,” Awokou said, “With photon torpedoes this time.”

“Aye sir,” the Arbazan replied.

“Belay that Lieutenant,” Commander Thayer spoke up. Awokou’s head whipped toward her.

“Excuse me Commander?”

“Sorry sir,” she conceded, “but look at the screen.” She pointed and the captain acceded. A flotilla of Eonessa vessels were entering orbit, headed straight for the Vidiian vessel.

“What are they doing?” Awokou said, more to himself than any of his crew.

“They’re forming around the Vidiian vessel,” Thayer answered.

“Lead Eonessan vessel is hailing us,” Shibata said.

“Put them onscreen,” Awokou ordered. Rector Chaun appeared.

“Captain Awokou,” he said, his eyes flashing with uncharacteristic anger, “We want you to leave our world immediately.”

“Rector,” the captain began, but the Eonessan cut him off.

“Now,” he demanded. Awokou looked at his bridge crew and found they were all looking at him. He glanced back at the furious Sesban and the sad Fontin. A new idea took root. If the Eonessans and Vidiians could no longer see reason, perhaps the oncoming armada might.

“Fine,” the captain said, “We will accede to your request,” he paused and stared squarely at the triumphant Rector, “But we are not done looking out for the Eonessan people,” he said cryptically.

With that, he ended the communication. He stood up and glanced again at Sesban and Fontin, “I would like to see you two in my ready room,” he said, gesturing toward it. He leaned down, “Commander Thayer take command and get us away from here. I’ll tell you were we’re going shortly.”

The woman was skeptical, but she wisely kept her opinions to herself. “Aye sir,” was all she said.

Awokou led the two Neth into his office. Once the doors were shut, he turned to them. His mien became serious. And his voice commanded compliance, “You are going to tell me how to reach your armada and how to get them to leave the Eonessans alone.”

************************************************** ************
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Old August 24 2014, 05:52 AM   #35
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

A lot of understandable and deep rooted hatred here. But Awokou & co are right, genocide is never okay and he's likely going to do whatever he has to try and prevent it.

This is going to be one fine, beautiful mess with Aldebaran stuck right in the middle of it all. Can't imagine this one is going to end well.
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Old August 24 2014, 10:18 PM   #36
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Hey CeJay, the captain is in a bind. We'll see if his solution doesn't make things worse.

************************************************** **************

Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

The Galaxy-class ship cut through space at full warp. Within, the bridge was silent and tense, each hour more constricting. In the center chair Captain Awokou pondered what he would say, rewinding the speech again in his mind, hoping that it would be convincing enough. Flanking him, were Fontin and Sesban. Both Commander Thayer and his wife had given up their seats to the two Neth.

Awokou wanted the fleet they were heading toward to see their missing crewmen were well and were not prisoners. He hoped the gesture would go a long way to establishing goodwill.

“Long range sensors detecting a massive collection of vessels,” Lt. Narcissa said at the tactical console. She had relieved Loto.

“Here we go,” muttered Lt. Rojas, at the helm.

“Alter our course,” Awokou ordered. He felt the ship shift slightly as the young woman translated his command into action. Awokou stood up and glanced aft. Rozi was sitting at an auxiliary console. She nodded in support. Awokou nodded back. He tugged down on his tunic and faced the main viewer.

“Are we within communication range?” He asked.

“We will be within thirty minutes,” the Algolian ensign at the communications station promptly replied.

Lt. Commander Thayer stepped down into the command well. She stood at rigid attention. “Captain, if I may have a word?”

“Of course Commander,” Awokou said. He gestured toward his ready room.
************************************************** ***************

Ready Room
USS Alebaran

Once both officers had been seated, Commander Thayer asked, “Permission to speak freely sir?”

“Of course,” Awokou allowed.

“Sir, I think you should reconsider the use of the Alpha Weapons,” Thayer said, reviving an old argument.

Starfleet had outfitted the taskforce with powerful weapons such as subspace fractal inversion fields, Genesis torpedo bombs, and zero-point singularity initiators. It was a horror show of armaments that truly reflected the dark roads Starfleet had turned down after decades of conflict against the Cardassians, Tzenkethi, Borg, and Dominion.

These were weapons of last resort in Banti’s mind and should never have found their way onto Starfleet vessels, much less been cooked up by the Federation minds. He sighed and shook his head, realizing the folly of his beliefs. The first Intercept Group Four had not possessed Alpha Weapons and they had been decimated by the Kothlis’Ka armada. It is no doubt the weapons would’ve made an impact, could’ve saved lives, and maybe even been enough of a sufficient show of force to alter the Kothlis’Ka’s inexorable march.

Admiral Glover had told him that the first IG-4 had not received the weapons due to their proximity to the Romulans and the Tholians. Starfleet Command didn’t want to ruffle feathers. The tragedy that ensued made Command change its policies.

“Sir, a show of force could be exactly what we need to show that armada that we mean business,” Thayer pressed.

“I understand that,” Awokou nodded, “But I will not engage in needless saber rattling or potentially add to loss of life. I want to defuse tensions, not increase them, and if we go in waving our big weapons around I don’t think that’s conducive to conducting a peaceful dialogue.”

“I get that sir,” Thayer said, “But from what the Neth have told us, this fleet has been chasing the Vidiians for years now, hunting them down, hell bent on revenge. What can you say, or anyone say that can get them to change their ways now?”

It was an old argument April made, but still a good one. “I don’t know if I can save the Vidiians,” he admitted, “But hopefully the Eonessans can be spared.” It pained him to make the admission, but he was a hard-eyed realist. The Vidiians had to pay for their crimes, and unfortunately some innocent Vidiians might suffer too.

“Maybe that wouldn’t be the case if we used the Alpha Weapons,” Thayer declared. “It would tell the Neth and their friends hands off.”

Captain Awokou sat back in his chair, and weighed his options. He rewound the speech in his head again and found new doubts. It was wanting, but it had to be made, didn’t it? He had to try diplomacy first? To go in, brandishing weapons, bullying their point, was not the Starfleet way, at least the Starfleet he had signed up to serve.

However things had seemed to change since the Dominion War and there was a crop of younger, more aggressive officers, baptized by fire, like Commander Thayer. Was he simply a man out of time? Or a man past his prime? Maybe he shouldn’t have returned to the Fleet, or taken a less prestigious assignment. Maybe he just didn’t have it anymore.

These thoughts wrapped around his mind like albatrosses, threatening to pull him into despair. But that was a luxury he couldn’t afford right now. His crew needed him, and so did the Eonessans, and Vidiians as a matter of fact.

“Talk to Chief Silane,” he said quietly, “Prepare the subspace fractal inversion field.”
************************************************** *************
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Old August 24 2014, 10:21 PM   #37
Gibraltar
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Ugh, things just keep getting more complex as the chance of reaching a non-violent resolution fades. I don't envy the choices Awokou must make in the coming hours and days.
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Old August 25 2014, 07:11 AM   #38
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

What a deliciously awesome predicament this is, now complicated even further by the introduction of those Alpha Weapons. Their sole existence is creating another moral dilemma and I love Awokou's observation about the changing times and his place in them.

These weapons almost seem like an additional burden now, instead of a an ace in the hole and something tells me that if the captain is forced to fall back on them, it's game over. And not just for the incoming fleet.
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Old August 25 2014, 08:17 PM   #39
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Thanks guys for continuing to read and comment. This story has been a struggle for me. We'll see how the Alpha Weapons play into it and how Awokou gets out of this mess, or not.

************************************************** **************

Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

As soon as they were within communication range, Captain Awokou hailed the alien fleet. While waiting for a response he took in the breadth of the assembled armada. Far beyond the Neth saucer ships were over a dozen starships of varying sizes and compositions. One massive warship, with its nacelles built into its sides, broke from the pack. The warship stopped short of the three shuttlecraft in front of the Aldebaran.

“A Kazon Predator-class warship,” Lt. Dryer said softly, “Interesting.” Awokou had had the science officer scouring the Voyager database to identify any starships or species they might encounter.

The announcement put Banti on edge. The Kazons had been antagonistic toward the Voyager crew, and if they were in the lead of this makeshift fleet that could pose problems.

He waited, a bit impatiently, until the hail was finally answered. The image focused on several aliens standing around what appeared to be a master display console. The aliens were all of different species. None of them appeared to be Kazon from what he recalled of their appearance. The captain hid his surprise. The aliens appraised him as hard as he appraised them. A fair-skinned man that could easily pass for human spoke first.

“I am Vebbis,” the man introduced himself. His blue eyes shifted from Awokou to Sesban and Fontin. “I demand the release of our crewmen at once.”

“Of course,” the captain said. “I will need you to lower your shields so that we can transport them to your vessel.”

Vebbis looked at the others. They debated. A pebble-skinned reptilian woman seemed the most suspicious.

“If you scan our vessel you will see that we don’t have our shields up,” Awokou said. And that had been a matter of contention with Commander Thayer. He glanced at the woman and gave a tight, awkward smile. She nodded in acknowledgement.

The reptilian ordered for someone to initiate a scan. Almost a minute later, the woman said, “Lower shields.”

The captain looked at both Neth. They regarded him just as silently. There were no words that needed to be said. The truth would will out in the next few moments. “Activate,” Awokou ordered. The two aliens disappeared within transporter beams. And reappeared on the bridge of the Kazon vessel seconds later.

“Are you unharmed?” A Neth female, standing at the master display, asked the two Neth. Both swore to their being unmolested. They took up positions behind her.

“I would like to meet with your leadership to discuss your attack on the Eonessan homeworld,” Awokou said, standing up. He felt more confident on his feet.

“Don’t you mean our pursuit of justice,” hissed the reptilian.

“Gixia,” Vebbis held up a hand. “We should at least listen to what Captain Awokou has to say.”

“No, we shouldn’t,” Gixia said, “This could just be a stalling tactic.”

“For all we know the Vidiians could be escaping now,” A blue skinned man, with prominent facial tissue, spoke up. “You can’t trust beings in league with them.”

“Captain Awokou is not in league with the Vidiians,” Fontin said, and Sesban nodded. “He is trying to find a peaceful solution that saves the Eonessans and insures justice for the Vidiians.”

“There can be no justice for those who harbor mass murderers,” spat a golden skinned man.

“Jaleth is right,” Gixia said. “Captain Awokou,” she said, as if it weren’t his real name, “If you are so concerned with justice, you will move out of our way. We only want the Vidiians, but if these Eonessans intercede, they will get what is coming to them.”

“I can’t allow that to happen,” he said with calm, deadly certainty. “I will not tolerate mass slaughter. As the victims of the Vidiians’ crimes it would certainly make you no better to engage in similar behavior.”

“No, but at least they will pay the price for their cruelty,” Gixia declared.

“Colc, what do you think?” Vebbis asked the female Neth.

“They didn’t have to bring back our crewmen, and unharmed,” she replied. “I think we should listen to what the captain proposes.”

“We should put this to a vote,” a pale man with an elongated head suggested.

“We will resume communication shortly,” Vebbis said before ending the communication.

It left Awokou waiting again. He was disappointed that the alien war council hadn’t acceded to his request immediately. “I guess we’ll just have to wait on the jury’s verdict,” Commander Thayer said dryly.
************************************************** ************
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Old August 26 2014, 07:26 AM   #40
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Not getting a good vibe from this mishmash armada at all. A vote just to hear them out? I suppose that could go either way but a peaceful solution to all this appears to be a long shot indeed.
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Old August 29 2014, 12:34 AM   #41
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

CeJay,

Captain Awokou doesn't have a good vibe either.

************************************************** ***************
Captain’s Ready Room
USS Aldebaran

“Enter,” Captain Awokou said, pleased for the interruption. The door to his office slid open and his wife entered. Awokou brightened immediately. He stood. Rozi walked around the desk and wrapped her arms around him, pressing her face against his chest. The captain held his wife tightly.

“How are you doing?” She asked, gazing up at him.

“I’m…well,” he said, finding it hard to muster up the enthusiasm. The alien flotilla had kept them waiting for hours, so long in fact that Awokou had finally retreated from the bridge into the ready room to contemplate his next move.

But mostly he had dealt with the ghosts of the past and how they were too similar to what was occurring now. He had also been weary before the attack that had crippled him and the Phoenix, he had also underestimated the stakes.

Had he foolishly put the Aldebaran in the jaws of a le-matya? Rozi, sensing his distress, stroked his wrinkled brow. She rubbed his knotted shoulders.

“You need to relax,” she said, taking him by the elbow and gesturing toward the day bed set up in his office.

“What do you have in mind?” He was at least able to come up with a saucy smile.

“Not that mister,” she replied with a grin. “But a little massage followed by a light nap might do the trick.”

He stopped, leaving her tugging on his arm. “I can’t take a nap. I need to be ready when the war council hails us.”

“You’ll be no good to anyone this tensed up,” she gently chided. “You need your rest.”

“You’ve never told me that before,” he said suspiciously. “Are you doubting I’m up to this task?” He pulled out of her grip.

“You’re the one doing the doubting,” she fired right back. “And it’s unnecessary. You’re being too hard on yourself.”

“I’m sorry,” he relented, “It’s just…this is all new to me again, and I’m afraid I’m frinxing it up.”

“You’re doing nothing of the sort,” she shook her head. “You’re trying to find a peaceful solution to this mess.”

“Do you think the war council will see reason?” He asked, eager to hear her thoughts.

“I don’t know,” she shook her head, “The atrocities they’ve must have endured, it would harden any heart.”

“I know,” he admitted. “I find little sympathy with the Vidiians, however I can’t sit idly by and allow innocents to be killed, no matter how tainted their associations might be, and the Eonessans definitely don’t deserve to pay for the Vidiians’ crimes.”

“And you won’t,” she said confidently, “You always find a way.”

“I didn’t at Lakesh,” he replied, stone-faced.

“You can’t beat yourself up about that Banti,” Rozi squeezed his hand. “There was nothing you could do.”

“I should’ve, I should’ve,” he struggled to find words. He turned from his wife and ambled back over to his desk. Beyond it he looked out of the port window.

“I failed my crew,” he lowered his head, tears threatening. “What if I’ve led this crew, if I’ve led you, into another slaughter?”
************************************************** ************
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Old August 29 2014, 07:14 AM   #42
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

The ghosts of the past can be damning, and Awokou is allowing them to live rent free in his head right now. It's only natural, given the circumstances, but it's not going to make his job in the here-and-now any easier.
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Old August 29 2014, 07:31 AM   #43
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Agreed. For a captain to lose a ship is bad enough, but to lose it under the circumstances Awokou lost it, he pretty much lost a part of himself in that incident. And this is bound to inform and effect his future decisions. It's going to be interesting to watch how he manages to get passed this, if he does at all.
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Old September 2 2014, 11:29 PM   #44
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Thanks for reading and commenting again guys. I think you both have a pretty good grasp on Awokou's emotional and psychological turmoil.

************************************************** **************
Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

Captain Awokou returned to the bridge unable to be alone with his thoughts anymore. Rozi had done her best to comfort him before he insisted he needed time alone. He had been embarrassed that he had nearly collapsed in his wife’s arms, ashamed of his tears. He had never been so emotional before, never given into his doubts and fears, never craved another’s support where the captaincy was concerned.

Surviving Lakesh, awakening from his coma, he was a new man, and Banti wasn’t sure he liked him very much. But he still had a job to do and a crew, ship, and planet to protect.

He noticed his wife sitting up in her care, a concerned look on her face. He gave her a tight smile, and hoped that its falseness didn’t shine through. He retook the command chair. “Commander Thayer, any change with the alien fleet?”

“No sir,” Thayer blew through her teeth, not hiding her frustration. Her emotions were raw and to the surface as well. Normally Awokou would pull her to the side and suggest she rein them in, but at this moment who was he to judge. “This council meeting sure is taking a long time.”

“It’s an important decision,” Awokou intoned sternly. “One that could affect the lives of millions.”

“I understand that sir,” Thayer said, a bit chastened. “Still we’ve been waiting for hours. Perhaps we should just ask them?”

“I am not unsympathetic,” the captain smiled, putting a bit of warmth into the gesture. “But we shouldn’t rush them.”

“The captain is correct,” Rozi spoke up. “We are unfamiliar with the debating or discussion rituals of these beings. If we request an answer they might think it impudent or a sign of aggression.”

Thayer shook her head and shrugged, not convinced but also not willing to push the issue further. That troubled Awokou a little bit. He had wondered what it would be like with his wife serving aboard as first contact specialist. He hoped that the crew wouldn’t assume that he would take her side automatically, or that Rozi would do the same where he was concerned.

In this case he couldn’t argue because Rozi was right. And he hoped that Commander Thayer didn’t see it as the married couple ganging up on her. With time and trust he was confident that if any such suspicions were present they would be dispelled.

That is, if they survived the next few hours.

The bridge settled into a tense silence. The captain was reviewing the status of the ship’s weapons systems for the umpteenth time when an excited Lt. Shibata said, “Captain, we’re receiving a transmission from the fleet.”

“Put it on screen,” Awokou didn’t hide the relief in his voice. The image of the flotilla shifted to a Neth female: Colc.

“Captain Awokou, you extended a courtesy to my countrymen and now I will do the same for you.” Without pause, and looking lethally serious, “Leave now and leave the Vidiians and their protectors to their fates.”
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Old September 4 2014, 01:23 AM   #45
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

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Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

“Alien ships are powering propulsion systems…and their weapons’ systems,” Lt. Loto said. Captain Awokou tensed as memories of old battles flashing through his mind. He had survived scrapes against the Cardassians, Tzenkethi, and Dominion, along with a few other adversaries, and he was grateful that he was still able to close the spigot on his fear like he used to do.

“Hail the Kazon vessel,” Awokou ordered.

Vebbis appeared after a few moments. He had a regretful look on his face. “Captain Awokou, we have made our decision. The Vidiians will be brought to justice.”

“What of the Eonessans? What if they intercede?” The captain asked.

“Then they will be dealt with,” the man said coldly. “As you will be if you interfere.”

Staring hard at the man Awokou commanded, “Raise shields and aim weapons at that ship. If you attempt to leave I will fire upon you.”

Vebbis grimaced, “Captain, don’t be a fool. You are vastly outnumbered and overpowered. We would slag your vessel.”

“Don’t be so sure about that,” Awokou said. He turned his head to catch Loto on his periphery. “Activate the fractal inversion field.”

“Field activation in one minute,” the Arbazan security officer said.

“Am I supposed to be afraid?” Vebbis scoffed.

“If you go to warp you will find out,” the captain promised.

“You won’t survive that long,” the other man declared.

“Several warships have joined the Kazon vessel,” Loto said, “All our powering their weapons and aiming them at us.”

“More power to forward shields,” Awokou said, not backing down.

“Subspace fractal inversion field activated,” Loto added.

“Maximum spread,” the captain commanded.

“Captain I suggest we utilize the unmanned warp combat vehicles,” Commander Thayer said. “It will even the odds.”

“Not yet,” Awokou put up a hand.

“Warships are encircling us,” Loto said.

“Captain,” Thayer pressed.

“Not yet,” he snapped.

“Other warships are angling away from us, preparing to go to warp.” The Arbazan said.

Awokou held Vebbis’s gaze. “This is your final warning.”

“You can do nothing,” the man shook his head. “While we demolish you our other vessels will have brought justice to the Vidiians.”

“The majority of the fleet is going to warp,” Loto informed him.

The captain spoke again, “Don’t do this Vebbis. Tell your ships to power down their weapons.” Vebbis cut communications. The starfield shifted from the Kazon bridge to the flotilla of ships.

As the warp effect took hold of a majority of the vessels, Awokou closed his eyes and prayed. The ships were sheared in half as they came into contact with the cosmic string Aldebaran had laid out before them.

“Shields, full power,” Awokou said as a series of explosions erupted around them and the ship was buffeted with debris. Lights blinked on and off and a terminal or two exploded. In the clash of klaxons, Awokou heard Thayer yell about multiple hull breaches. Banti gripped his armrests fiercely and tried not to think so desperately of his wife. He couldn’t help looking at her and was relieved she was also hanging on in her seat. From the shaky view screen he saw that some pieces of ship were colliding with the warship’s boxing them in, destroying some vessels in the process. Ironically the alien cruisers that were supposed to be restraining them kept them cocooned from a majority of the destruction.

Once the tumult died down, only a handful of vessels were left. Without being told, Awokou sensed Aldebaran was in no mood to fight, but he would give it his all if pressed. “Hail the Kazon ship.”

The large warship was battered but still intact. A shaken Vebbis, a large gash running across his forehead, stared at him with a shocked gaze.

“What did you do?” He asked, half in astonishment, half in accusation.

“What I had to,” Awokou said with steeliness. “Now, if you’re finally ready to listen, let’s talk.”
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