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Old July 13 2010, 10:53 AM   #31
CeJay
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

The liberal use of commas aside, I really enjoyed this chapter.

Maren and Icheb together again. It's about time. And it's a good thing that she came clean with him about what she has done and said in his absence. Iceb is taking it well so far, even while the repercussions of the truth are not quite clear. That there will be repercussions, for both of them, is obvious.

For now Maren needs to get her head on straight. She seems awfully distracted and could become a liability on a mission that can't afford any mistakes.
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Old July 13 2010, 02:48 PM   #32
mirandafave
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

The ‘drone’ is Starfleet
That's something all of them could do with remembering. From Malik, to Icheb himself and to the Admirals such as Nechayev. The reaction to the past from both Maren and Icheb in regards the attitude of some Admirals is very telling. It speaks of a time when Icheb as it can be easily imagined was not so welcomed among the ranks of Starfleet.
A lot in this chapter to take heed of. Firstly, beaming over to the Resistance Borg ship is going to anything but uneventful. I can feel it in my waters. Malik's attitude to it is less than co-operative and like Adele [wisely] I wouldn't be so keen to trust him. The Captain and Malik have a very strained relationship. Considering Malik is the one normally in charge and the one who escaped the control of the Borg Collective, it is easy to tell that he does not take being dictated to or having terms dictated to him very well. How far will he be willing to co-operate. And even with the brains of Icheb and Maren at hand one wonders at the trickery the former drones could pull, especially once their ship is onboard.
As for Icheb and Maren. The see-saw relationship continues into Book 2, but it seems that the two of them or making some sort of progress and share some connection still, whihc both are beginning to realise even as they are tested by circumstances and one another in their relationship - whatever it is. But it seems they are able to work together. And they will need to be able to do so as things continue. There can but only be trouble ahead.
Oh and I just loved Maren's rant. It seems she really has a lot to say and affording herself the chance to tell Icheb just one thing she lets loose with her tongue and lets as much information spill out. That was fun to watch. And it shows how much has indeed been going on. And that despite some secrets at long last revealed, there are some, like whatever the resistance Borg have as their weapon and like Icheb's offer from Malik, that are yet to be laid out on the table. How these secrets play out will continue to intrigue and thicken the plot.
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Old July 14 2010, 02:07 PM   #33
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

CeJay -- But I LIKE commas! (Just for you, I went back and took a couple out, though. You're right, not every sentence has to be a compound one.)

Seriously, though, I'm so glad you enjoyed the chapter. Icheb and Maren are still light years from getting things back to the way they used to be between them, but then again, so much has happened that things may never really be the same. That's growing up for you. But yeah, it's definitely nice to see Icheb touch her and not get slapped, and to see her hold his hand instead of trying to run away.

You're right about Maren -- she's extremely distracted. We'll see what happens with that. Thanks for the review!

Miranda Fave -- Thanks so much for the review! You're right, Adele and Malik are not instant buddies. Adele is still pissed off about the "you kidnapped my first officer" incident, and Malik does not like trusting or giving control to anyone else. Besides all that, these two are a just match made in hell, personality-wise. If nothing else, maybe Adele will appreciate Icheb more now that she's getting to know some other ex-drones.

As far as Icheb goes, yeah, he had a rough start with Starfleet for sure. Good thing he's stubborn, plus he had Janeway and the rest of the VOY crew (and later Maren ... and John, in his own way ) advocating for him and encouraging him. A less stubborn person might not have stuck with it.

I have no idea why you think things will be anything but smooth on the resistance ship. As for Icheb and Maren and their relationship ... see-saw is one way to describe it. I think I'd compare it to a yo-yo. Rather than a straight back-and-forth movement, it's sort of two steps forward, one step back, like what happens when someone isn't very good with a yo-yo (that'd be me). And with that, I'm off to find coffee, because clearly my metaphors start to suffer with lack of caffeine.

Thanks again for reading and reviewing!
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Old July 14 2010, 06:49 PM   #34
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

I too have unconventional ideas about commas. That is to say, I have no real idea about when/where/how/why to use them. I just do.

I am a little worried O'Connor is not quite up to what is in store for her. I know Starfleet is made of sterner stuff than we ususally see but things are getting soooo interesting!

And Beckely. What mischief is he causing? He is in the back of my mind like that iron/stove/coffee maker you forgot to turn off before you left the house. I do hope he will complicate things horribly!

Another wonderful chapter! Thank you!
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Old July 16 2010, 05:05 AM   #35
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

oldstredshrtevr -- Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Beckley's still around, doing his Beckley thing. We'll see him fairly soon, actually. We'll also see if Maren can pull herself together for the mission she's on. She's sort of at the end of her rope right now ... she's had moments in her past when she's proved to be very, very good in a crisis, but after the events of the last three days, she's just a mess. She definitely needs to get her head in the game again.
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Old July 16 2010, 09:57 AM   #36
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Some wonderful character moments between Maren and Icheb. As usual, more went unsaid between them than was voiced, though both of them are clearly psychologically bruised and aching after recent events. The person each of them wants most in all the universe is right next to them, but they may as well be on opposite sides of the galaxy so large is the emotional gulf between them.

The intensity of that final exchange between Adele and Malik was formidable, and it’s clear the captain has mustered her best game face for the confrontation. Here’s hoping Malik & Company don’t put Adele’s resolve to the test...

Keep it coming, daddy needs his candy!
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Old July 17 2010, 08:23 PM   #37
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Oh that interchange between Icheb & Maren; a primer in what not to do — just like two ships sailing by and flashing code lights at each other; but they’re working from different code books. Maren might be the genius young engineer but right now she seems more like a computer with an antivirus system that’s only half a step ahead of a morphing virus » she unloads a secret that’s been crippling her for years but gains a fear of Borg that she’s never had before; its hot to cold and back again, ad infinitum it seems. Mayhap, Adele and Maren herself have downplayed the extent of her injuries and emotional state overly much as the needs of the mission loom large in front of them; is she going to be sacrificed on the altar of concern for the missing ships? The only good to come of Maren’s vulnerability is to begin to draw Icheb back but it can’t be good at all once they move from emotion to needing effectiveness. Icheb certainly has food for thought when he is put in virtually the same position he had 7of 9 in on Voyager; and it is so neat how well canon backstory is dovetailing into this chapter.

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The last thing anyone needed was another unpleasant surprise.
As if . . .
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Old July 18 2010, 06:37 AM   #38
Timewalker
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Now that I've finally caught up (stumbled across the first thread a few days ago and have been voraciously reading it ever since)... I can ask a question that's been bugging me since then and which I don't recall anybody else asking:

T'Pring. Is she any relation to the infamous T'Pring of Amok Time? Surely she couldn't be that same person...
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Old July 19 2010, 02:21 AM   #39
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Wow, go offline for the weekend and come back to reviews! Gotta love that! Thanks, everyone!

Gibraltar -- This:
Gibraltar wrote:
The person each of them wants most in all the universe is right next to them, but they may as well be on opposite sides of the galaxy so large is the emotional gulf between them.
is so true it damned near made me sniffly. (What can I say? I've been writing these two for over a year now! I can't help but feel for them even though I'm the one torturing them -- and oh yeah, of course, they're not real, either , but you know as well as I do that they feel that way after a while! I remember you saying writing a certain scene with Liana in particular really hit you hard. ) Anyway, they're definitely leaving a lot unsaid for now, and time will tell whether they'll ever be able to discuss the past, let alone the present or a possible future. As for Adele, yes, she's got her game face on. We'll see how it goes ... thanks again for reading and reviewing. I'll try to have more "candy" for you soon, "Daddy."

tau136 -- Thanks for another thoughtful review! I think you may be surprised by how much was actually communicated in that little exchange between Icheb and Maren. The fact that he touched her like that and she didn't run away or try to slap him this time is significant. They may not know quite what to do with one another right now, but they're making some kind of progress. We'll see if it continues -- both of them still have secrets to tell each other that may not be handled well. But the biggest one is out in the open, so we'll see how that goes. Speaking of Icheb's little situation, I'm glad you like the connection to the backstory. I thought the ending of Imperfection was over the line even for Voyager in terms of technobabble reset buttons, so I went ahead and broke the reset button. That'll be something of a theme ... actions have consequences, even if it takes them years to happen.

timewalker
-- Welcome, new reader! Glad to have you along; thanks so much for reading and reviewing! To answer your question -- I don't know. When I named her, I honestly forgot about the original T'Pring (having not seen Amok Time since I was a little kid), and actually failed to even Google the name (a mistake I stopped making early on, but not early enough!). So really, the name is a coincidence. That said, there's nothing in canon to indicate she couldn't be a distant descendant of the 'original' T'Pring. So ... I guess I could leave it to you all to tell me what you think ... T'Pring -- descended from infamy, or just rather unfortunately named? (It won't affect anything but backstory for this book, but it could affect a future story. Any thoughts?)

Anyway, thanks to all for the great commentary. Sorry for the slowness on these early chapters, but life has put me through some big stuff recently and I'm just now getting back into a normal routine again. More story soon, though.
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Old July 19 2010, 08:20 AM   #40
CaptainSarine
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Why do I get the feeling that Maren's last thought does NOT bode well for the next chapter...

Another excellent chapter. As usual I am jealous of your character building skills (I think only Gibraltar is on par with creating awesome characters through scenes like these!) The confrontation between Adele and Malik had sparks flying all over the place, and it is nice to be reminded once again why Adele is captain - she can be a hardass when she needs to be as she shows in this chapter.

The following scene between Icheb and Maren... I really feel for these two. As you said in one of your comments, there has been definite progress since the beginning of the story, a testament to how well you have written their arcs. They have both been through a lot, together and apart, it is nice to see that they are finally ready to talk.

Of course whether you will give them that time in the middle of a galactic war...

As usual, a fantastic chapter. So glad to see this back. And can't wait for more!!!
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Old July 20 2010, 12:31 PM   #41
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

It's so fluent with a really developed storyline. the detail you put into it really captures the emotion for me. i can almost feel the resistance from adele as she saw the blood ready to assimilate anything and everything around it. 5 stars!
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Old July 20 2010, 02:16 PM   #42
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

kes7 wrote: View Post
timewalker -- Welcome, new reader! Glad to have you along; thanks so much for reading and reviewing! To answer your question -- I don't know. When I named her, I honestly forgot about the original T'Pring (having not seen Amok Time since I was a little kid), and actually failed to even Google the name (a mistake I stopped making early on, but not early enough!). So really, the name is a coincidence. That said, there's nothing in canon to indicate she couldn't be a distant descendant of the 'original' T'Pring. So ... I guess I could leave it to you all to tell me what you think ... T'Pring -- descended from infamy, or just rather unfortunately named? (It won't affect anything but backstory for this book, but it could affect a future story. Any thoughts?)

I don't recall the book - it may be one of Martin & Mangel's Enterprise era books - somehow Surak is talking to someone who observes that in the many long years of Vulcan history no one had run out of original names - based I think on the premise that the names are combinations of the parent's names and if male start with "S" to honor Surak - so perhaps it is not an unfortunate coincidence so much as somehow honoring a blood relative. Perhaps she is honor bound in some way to regain the faimly honor after the original T'Pring's unfortunate incident!

Of course Vulcans may not view the events of "Amok TIme" the same way humans do - Spock faced a lot of oddly emotional prejudice from his fellow Vulcans . . .
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Old July 21 2010, 03:50 PM   #43
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

CaptainSarine -- thanks for the very kind comments. I don't know if I'm up to Gibraltar's level of characterization or not (he created Pava, after all!), but the fact that someone thinks that is hugely flattering. I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter and the taste of Adele's usually-hidden badassery. She tries to handle people with just the right touch -- and sometimes, the right touch requires a sledgehammer. As for Icheb and Maren ... well, what can I say that hasn't been said already? Slowly they dance toward whatever their eventual outcome will be. We'll see what happens.

di_mar -- Thanks so much for checking the story out, and for the lovely compliments! I hope you continue to enjoy it. I couldn't tell from your comment whether you've read the first book of this or not, so I'll point out that back in the first post there is a link to Part I of Tesseract. If you haven't already, you might want to check it out, as this is all building on that. If you already have ... well, then never mind! Hope you enjoyed!

oldstredshrtevr --
Of course Vulcans may not view the events of "Amok TIme" the same way humans do - Spock faced a lot of oddly emotional prejudice from his fellow Vulcans . . .
I agree, if she's a descendant, then it's a family name and TOS T'Pring is likely regarded as a champion of Vulcan logic. I haven't completely decided yet whether to connect the two characters, but the idea is intriguing and I'm definitely playing around with it in my head. We'll see, maybe a short story will come of it sometime, or a reference in Tesseract.

More coming soon! I've almost got chapter three complete. I'm hoping to post it here late tonight/early tomorrow morning.
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Old July 23 2010, 04:57 AM   #44
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

CHAPTER THREE

Beta Quadrant, near the border of the Delta Quadrant
Uncharted Space
USS Sol -- Bridge


The thing Lieutenant John Quigley knew he would never forget was the smell. The smoke-filled air on the bridge of the the Saber-class USS Sol stung his eyes, obscured his vision, and impaired his breathing, but by far the worst thing was the smell. Burning plasma, burned plastic, superheated metal, and worst of all, burned flesh. With data communication down shipwide, he had no idea what the total casualty count was, but there were three dead bodies on the bridge alone – including his commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Borux, who hadn’t made it through the last explosion, leaving John definitively in command of a broken ship and one-hundred-sixty-eight people ... most of them civilians.

After everything had gone dark, he had spent precious minutes fumbling with the command interface trying to get it online and assess their situation before he had realized they literally had no power at all. Emergency backups had failed, and engineering had yet to bring them back online. Without communication, there was no way to know how bad the situation down there was. So he had decided to accompany the ship’s helmsman, Ensign Anit Gopal, to engineering, and Ensign Par Renn, the only other conscious officer on the bridge, had stayed behind to try to get something – anything – up and running again. John wasn’t optimistic. If engineering hadn’t brought emergency systems back online by now, things had to be even worse than they seemed.

“We need to get environmental suits on,” he choked out to Anit, as they completed the procedure to force the bridge doors open and looked both ways before entering the eerily empty corridor. John realized that with the Sol dead in space, everyone was locked in like they had been. On a ship full of trained Starfleet officers, it wouldn’t have been a problem. On a ship full of civilian evacuees, it was most definitely a problem.

The smoke was much less thick outside the damaged bridge, but it still wafted through the narrow hallways, unfettered by filters or scrubbers. Environmental controls were clearly offline, and John knew life support probably wasn’t far behind, if it wasn’t gone already. With the ship at nearly maximum emergency capacity, the polluted air they were breathing would run out fast, and they would eventually lose artificial gravity as well, making it nearly impossible to get anything done. At this point, bringing weapons and engines back online seemed like a distant dream. Right now, he mostly just wished he knew whether the tractor beam now holding the ship in one place was the prelude to a rescue, or an invasion.

It’s a good thing the
Sol is tiny, he thought to himself, as he and Anit made their way down the haze-filled corridor using wristlamps to illuminate their path. Back on the USS Tesseract, the massive ship they had launched from earlier that day, the trip from the bridge to main engineering was over a kilometer. Turbolifts and site-to-site transports made the journey quick and effortless, but with main power off, he couldn’t help but wonder if it would even be possible there. At least here on the Sol, he was reasonably sure they could make it.

As he pried open the doors to an emergency supply closet, he motioned Anit over to the adjoining weapons locker. “Just in case,” he said, gesturing toward the ceiling and beyond, to outside the ship, to where the ship he hoped to God was the USS Luna – but really had no idea -- had taken hold of them several minutes earlier. Anit nodded and grabbed two rifles out of the locker while John got the EV-suits and a tricorder.

They had drilled for this weekly when John had served on the Titan. He could get himself into an emergency EV-suit in less than sixty seconds, but Anit obviously wasn’t as practiced, and struggled with it. Finally, John helped the smaller man, who gave his superior officer a weak smile and a slightly embarrassed ‘thumbs up’ once he was properly dressed. After a moment, they both heard a faint static hiss as the suit comm. systems automatically activated.

“You good?” John asked over the comm.

“Yes, sir,” Anit replied. John picked up his tricorder off the deck, and both men picked up their rifles. John tried his best to keep a poker face as he stared briefly at the tricorder readings. Whatever had happened to their ship was not good. Radiation levels were so high they were interfering with the device’s sensors. He couldn’t get a clear reading on life signs or anything else. Not that there will be much life left if we don’t get everyone treated for radiation poisoning soon, he thought to himself with a small sigh, then he shoved the nearly useless tricorder in an external pocket of his EV-suit, took one last look up and down the empty corridor, and led the way toward engineering.

“You think the Luna has us tractored?” Anit asked nervously as they walked.

John shrugged inside his suit. “Your guess is as good as mine. We won’t know until we get some power back on. One thing at a time,” he said in a deceptively calm, almost casual tone. He was keenly aware of the fact that it was up to him to set the example right now. He tried to remember the worst thing that had ever happened on the Titan, and how Captain Riker had handled it. One thing was for certain -- Riker hadn’t ever shown fear in front of his crew. John wondered if he could prevent himself from showing his fear, too.

As they reached the access hatch for the nearest Jefferies tube that led to engineering, John went first. He pried open the panel, then slowly climbed down the ladder, one deck, two decks, three decks down. Anit followed closely behind. When they reached the access hatch on the engineering level, John checked his tricorder again and warned Anit bluntly, “There’s a ton of plasma radiation down here.” Almost under his breath, he added, “Hope sickbay is prepared for this.” A moment later, he clumsily released the access panel with his gloved fingers and shoved it open. He wasn’t at all ready for what he saw next.

“Oh, shit,” he breathed in horror, as all thoughts of bravery and setting an example were blown away by the scene in front of him.

He had expected to see injured engineers busy working to bring systems back online. Possibly a dead body or two, even though he hoped not. Damage, yes -- but something fixable. This was not that. The carnage was incredible, and for a full second, all John could think about was how thankful he was that he had not tried to convince Maren to come along.

There didn’t appear to be a soul alive in engineering. The entire chamber was wrecked, littered with the severely burned and broken bodies of what had once been the Sol’s engineering crew. Screens were blown out, plastic console housings were melted and charred, and broken paneling hung from the ceiling, letting wires hang like vines from the openings.

As John took in the sight, he didn’t know whether to be thankful for the EV-suit that protected him from the smell, or worried about what would happen if he threw up inside of it. His eyes stung with hot tears for an instant before Anit’s voice on the comm. snapped him out of it. He took a deep breath and pulled himself together.

“What is it?” the ensign asked, stuck on the ladder above John’s head, still unaware of the horror below.

John swallowed hard. “Everyone’s dead,” he told Anit flatly. “It’s pretty horrible down here, try to keep your head together when you see it.”

Being careful to avoid the remains of the engineers, he stepped over to the controls for the EPS grid, set down his weapon, and opened up the access panel beneath the console.

Bhenchod,” he heard Anit gasp over the comm. from behind him, as the young pilot got his own first view of the destruction. To his credit, the ensign didn’t lose his composure.

“Forget environmental control for now,” John told him. “We need to get the safeties back online in here and get whatever’s leaking under control or we’re all going to die of radiation poisoning way before we run out of air. Find me a power cell or ten, will you?”

“Acknowledged,” Anit murmured weakly, obviously subdued by the situation and the grisly destruction around them. Still clutching his rifle, he headed off in the direction of the emergency supply stores.

Under the EPS control console, John was greeted by a thousand wires and conduits, all dark, and only half of which he had any clue about their function. “What I wouldn’t give for your help right now, Maren,” he muttered under his breath.

“What’s that?” asked Anit, having heard him over the comm.

“Nothing. Talking to myself. Just get the power cells.”

“Right,” Anit replied.

Within a few minutes, Anit had returned with three of the small metal cylinders. “This is all I could find in the supply closet,” he said.

John grabbed one. “It’ll have to do,” he said. “Let’s hope this doesn’t blow us up,” he added wryly, almost to himself. His engineering rating was a level 2. He could fix easy things. Blown relays, shorted out displays, off-kilter sensors. There was nothing easy about this. The entire EPS system was heavily damaged, and he was well aware of the risks involved in trying to repair it. All you have to do is turn the power back on, he tried to reassure himself. And get environmental systems back online. And get the doors unlocked. It’s one thing at a time. And if you fuck up, well, at least we’ll probably all die instantly. That last thought was somewhat less comforting than he had hoped.

With a heavy sigh, he activated the small spotlight on his helmet and located the emergency port for the power cell. “Here goes nothing,” he whispered, and shoved it in. He waited for the console to come to life, or blow up in his face, or something – anything. Instead, nothing happened. “Fuck,” he swore under his breath. He reached up and tapped at the controls. Nothing. He pulled the power cell back out.

Before he could make another attempt, he was startled by Anit’s sudden shrill cry. The younger man’s screaming was automatically dampened by the comm. output in the EV-suit, making him sound strangely far away. John instinctively dropped the power cell, grabbed his rifle and whipped around to see what was happening to his colleague.

(continued below)
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Old July 23 2010, 05:07 AM   #45
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

(continued from above)

He immediately saw the cause of Anit’s fright. One of the charred, twisted bodies on the floor of engineering had grabbed hold of the ensign’s ankle. Horrified that someone could have lived through that kind of injury, John dropped his rifle and rushed over to the fallen engineer.

“I’m sorry sir, I just--” Anit stammered, sounding embarrassed but still badly shaken.

“Don’t worry about it,” John cut him off. “Just find a medkit. Now.” Anit rushed off to comply with John’s order as John knelt down beside the injured officer – a Tellarite, he could see, based on the half of the man’s face that wasn’t burned beyond recognition. The rank insignia on his collar indicated he was a petty officer first class; probably a specialist of some kind, John guessed. He looked up at John, his eyes surprisingly focused for someone in his condition. The clarity that comes when you know you’re about to die, John thought ominously, before shoving the thought aside.

“What’s your name?” he asked, as he visually assessed the man’s numerous injuries.

“Herk,” the man wheezed. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” he added bluntly, in between gasps for air. “Drag me over to that console before your incompetence kills everyone on this ship.”

John was oddly encouraged to see that the man’s uniquely Tellarite charm hadn’t been lessened by his injuries. “We can’t move you,” he replied calmly. “Your injuries are too severe. As soon as we have transporters back online, we’ll get you to sickbay.” He was fairly certain there was no way any of that would actually happen before Herk succumbed to his injuries, but he didn’t want to sound as pessimistic as he felt.

Herk coughed. “You krught,” he spat derisively. “I’m going to die long before that happens. Don’t you think I know that?” He paused to take a labored breath. “But I’m not dead yet,” he added defiantly. “Now … drag me over to that console and I’ll … try to make sure you don’t make us into flotsam,” he said, his words punctuated with wheezing. He coughed again, and this time, a bit of blood trickled from the side of his mouth and disappeared into his thick, singed beard.

At that moment, Anit returned with the medkit. He looked down at the Tellarite’s broken body and then over at John as if to ask, ‘where do I start?’

Herk turned his head, wincing as he did. “Polyadrenaline,” he said hoarsely. “60 ccs.” Anit looked at Herk in surprise, then looked back to John for confirmation.

John stared down at Herk for a long moment. Pumping the engineer full of polyadrenaline would buy them some time to work with him, but it would also probably result in worsened injuries or eventually, even his death. John didn’t particularly want to have to make that choice. The problem was, the Tellarite was right -- John didn’t really know his way around an engine room. Herk did. He could risk Herk’s death and maybe have a shot at saving everyone, or he could try to stabilize Herk for the long-term and lose the ship in the meantime. Grimly, he nodded at Anit. “Do it,” he said in a terse voice.

Anit fumbled with the medkit until he managed to open it, then pulled out the hypospray and the appropriate cartridge. He pushed aside Herk’s beard and pressed the hypo to the part of the engineer’s neck with the least amount of damage. Herk jerked violently for a moment, then instantly seemed to perk up. He nodded at John, wincing again with the effort. “Let’s go,” he said.

John and Anit each took one side of the Tellarite and tried to be gentle as they lifted him and half-carried, half-dragged his stout body over to the EPS controls. Herk remained stoic through the rough transport – or at least stoic for a Tellarite.

“Ignorant as tube grubs, and just as skilled! Yet you’re in charge here,” he complained bitterly to the two young officers. “If you don’t kill everyone on board it will be a miracle.”

John tried not to take the older non-com’s weakly voiced words to heart, even as his cheeks flushed bright pink behind the faceplate of his helmet. “You’re not helping,” he told Herk a little more harshly than he intended. “Why don’t you save some oxygen for telling me how the hell to get this mess cleaned up, all right?”

Herk only grunted in reply. He groaned as they laid him in front of the open console so he could see the innards of the intricate machinery.

“Do you want painkillers?” John asked him.

Herk grunted again. “No. Clouds the mind. Need to think. Can’t feel much anyway,” he admitted. John nodded. He had no idea if the man was telling the truth or just trying to be a hero, but even if it was the latter … well really, they could use a hero right about now. He didn’t press the issue.

“Light,” ordered Herk. John made sure his headlamp was flooding the small cavern of the EPS control center with light. Herk reached up as if to try and make the repair, only to discover that he really couldn’t move more than a few centimeters. He winced hard and gritted his teeth to keep from crying out.

“I’ll do it,” John said quickly. “Stay still. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

The Tellarite tried unsuccessfully to nod, and locked eyes with John. “Do exactly as I say.”

John held his gaze and nodded. “I will.” He turned to Anit. “While I’m doing this, check the others to see if anyone else survived, then look through that medkit and see if you can find anything else to help treat Herk. I know we don’t have computer access but there should be a first aid manual or something in there.”

“Yes, sir,” Anit replied, and rushed off to check the others.

As Herk haltingly – between wheezing and coughing -- directed John in making complex adjustments to the intricate systems, John was careful to follow his instructions to the letter. He was grateful now that his own first repair attempt had failed, and that he hadn’t had to try and figure it out himself. This was definitely above his skill level. He decided that if he made it through this day, the first thing he would do upon his return to the Tesseract was ask Maren to get him some additional training in engineering.

After a couple of minutes, Anit returned. “No other survivors,” he reported. John had expected as much – he was amazed even Herk was alive. Not that he thought he would be for much longer. Even as the Tellarite was directing the repairs, he seemed to be fading fast. John had already had to shout at him once to get him to keep his eyes open and focus.

“Understood. Hurry up and find that manual,” John said. Anit dug through the medkit until he found a pocket-sized PADD. He activated the screen. “Got it,” he said, and started scrolling through the contents. With his gloved fingers, manipulating the tiny interface was obviously a chore, and John could hear him whispering a steady stream of Hindi curses under his breath as he searched the database for information that might help them keep Herk alive.

When the repair seemed tantalizingly close to done, Herk’s instructions suddenly stopped coming. “He’s unconscious,” John heard Anit say over the comm. as he was turning turn to look for himself.

“Wake him,” John said without hesitation. “I need him to finish this.”

Anit pulled out a medical tricorder and scanned the Tellarite. “His vitals are destabilizing,” he announced. “I don’t think we can just wake him up.”

“Give him another dose of polyadrenaline then,” John snapped. “I need him awake, now, or we’re all going to die.” The tricorder started to beep – that ominous sound that Anit and John both knew was a sure sign of an impending death. “Do it now, Anit. That’s an order.”

Anit quickly complied, and Herk once again jerked wildly as his eyes flew open. He gasped for air. The sight was disturbing, and Anit cringed. John didn’t feel any better about the situation, but they were running out of time. Radiation levels were rising by the minute, and the EV-suits could only withstand so much. If they were going to get power restored, it was now or never.

“Stay with me, Herk, okay?” John pleaded, looking into the dying man’s eyes. “Everyone’s depending on you to tell me how to fix this.”

Herk blinked, disoriented, then seemed to remember where he was and what he had been doing. He slowly turned toward the EPS control hub again, smiled slightly, and then closed his eyes. “You’re done,” he grunted, sounding deeply satisfied. “Insert the power cell and start her up.”

John took a deep breath and held it as he followed the non-com’s order. All at once, various consoles and other equipment started flickering to life. Across the room, something exploded in a shower of sparks, and instantly, John could see where the radiation leak was coming from – a ruptured conduit on the other side of engineering. The computer’s voice – an otherwise welcome sound – came back to life, issuing warning after warning about the dire state of the systems on the ship.

“Warning – hull breach. Warning – structural integrity is failing. Warning – plasma radiation is at critical levels. Warning – environmental – ”

“Computer, cancel audio warnings!” John shouted irritably, as he stood up to get a better view of the situation. “Activate a level ten containment field around …” he checked the schematic of main engineering on the console in front of him -- “engineering section B-9.” John breathed a sigh of as the computer contained the leaking radiation behind a force field. He quickly turned his attention back to the console to try and figure out how to get the other critical systems working again without losing power to the containment field. He noticed that the computer was already automatically allocating power to certain systems. Without him having to touch a thing, hull breaches on two decks were sealed off and the structural integrity field was reinitialized. Thank God for good programming, he thought with another relieved sigh. Next, environmental control. He waited for a hopeful second to see if the computer would manage that, too, but when it didn’t, he went straight to work. It was like a giant puzzle, trying to figure out where the different systems tied into each other and what could be activated or rerouted without disturbing something else, and it required his complete focus. Unfortunately, the shrill beep of the medical tricorder again interrupted his concentration, and he turned to look at Anit, bent over Herk.

“He’s dying,” Anit said tersely. He took a set of cortical stimulators out of the medkit. “I’ve never actually used these outside a holo-simulation,” he admitted nervously.

“It’s no different than the sims,” John told him, trying to sound reassuring. “Just do exactly what it says in the manual.” He forced himself to turn back to the console. He wanted to help Herk, too, but there were God-knew-how-many civilians left on the Sol who needed fresh air more than Anit needed an extra set of hands.

Why isn’t this working? he thought to himself in frustration as he tried unsuccessfully again and again to reroute enough power to environmental control to get the air scrubbers working again on all decks. He finally realized there just wasn’t enough power being routed around the ship to run life support to every level, and decided to compromise. The only place on board big enough to hold everyone was the cargo bay. That worked out well, John decided, because if they decided to abandon ship, the escape pods were right there, in the adjacent shuttle bay. He rerouted all life support to the cargo bay and then routed all remaining power to the lights, doors, and ship comm. system. As soon as he was done, he tapped the combadge he had affixed to the outside of his suit. “Quigley to Par.”

The young Bajoran sounded relieved almost beyond words. “Good to hear your voice, sir. We’ve got limited emergency power up here now.”

“I know,” John replied, forcing himself to ignore the sounds of Anit trying to revive Herk behind him. “Listen to me. Make a shipwide announcement. Get everyone to the cargo bay. You’re acting XO. Try to keep everyone calm. See if you can get a team together to sweep the upper decks for injured survivors. Do we have sensors?”

There was a pause, then Renn’s voice came back. “Very limited, sir. I can tell you we’ve got survivors on all decks, but I can’t tell you much more than that. Radiation’s getting in the way.”

“Acknowledged,” John replied. “See if you can raise sickbay and get Dr. Duggal to bring anti-radiation treatments down to the cargo bay. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Stay in touch.”

“Yes, sir,” Renn answered.

“Quigley out,” John said. He turned to check on Anit’s progress. The ensign was staring down at Herk’s limp body, looking a bit shocked.

“Ensign?” John asked.

Anit looked up at John and shook his head sadly. “He’s gone.”

John blew out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding. “Shit.” The news stung him badly. It wasn’t a surprise. It really wasn’t. But Herk was the first person John had ever lost under his direct command, and it suddenly hurt to breathe.

“I tried three times,” Anit explained. “He was just … gone.” His voice was a little shaky.

“You did the best you could,” John said automatically. He wasn’t sure he believed it himself, but he knew he had to do his part to reassure Anit.

“No, no, we didn’t,” Anit replied, voice rising slightly. “If we hadn’t done that second poly-”

John cut him off. “Stop it, Anit. We don’t have time for this. There’s no use second-”

“But we killed him!” Anit interrupted angrily. “We killed this man to save our own asses!”

John took a deep breath and blew it out. “Yeah. Yeah, maybe we did,” he conceded angrily. “No ,” he corrected himself suddenly, “that’s exactly what we did. Welcome to Command. We did what we had to do. If we hadn’t done that, we’d still be at square one. Thanks to Herk, we now have enough power routed through this ship to have a shot at saving well over a hundred people. But if we don’t suck it up and move on right now, it’ll never happen. The cargo bay has life support. Everyone else is still sucking smoke and chemicals.” He pointed to the lifeless Tellarite lying on the debris-covered floor of engineering. “That man didn’t die so you could sit here worrying about whether it was ethical to use him. He died so all those other people would live.”

Anit stared down at Herk for another moment before shooting John a withering glare. He looked utterly unconvinced.

“Pack up the medkit and bring it along,” John ordered him, ignoring the ensign’s dirty look. “Let’s go.”

Anit nodded quietly and followed John’s order. Together, the two men took one last long look at the destruction in the engine room before heading for the cargo bay.
__________________
"I suggest you surrender. Kes does not have a stun setting!" (KingDaniel)
Ad Astra :: Star Trek Fanfiction Archive

Last edited by kes7; July 23 2010 at 10:49 PM.
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