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Old November 1 2010, 02:57 AM   #91
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Limis was still reading the padd she was handed when she heard Admiral Jellico’s voice on the comm. “Captain Limis,” he called. “Report to your ready room.”

Jellico and the Constantinople were light years away. Still, Limis shoved the padd into Kozar’s lap and headed for her office as if being summoned before the school principal. Upon reaching the ready room, someone else was occupying the chair behind the desk. He was a youthful-looking blonde man with a slightly bigger build than Jellico.

“Commander Johns,” Limis gasped. “Where’s Admiral Jellico? Does Captain Lenaris know you’re missing?”

“You needn’t concern yourself with that right now,” the commander replied with triumphant grin. “What’s important is the safe return of your medical officer and stopping the Augments.”

“You won’t get any argument from me. How did you get in here anyway?”

“I’m here, aren’t I? And I got the good doctor into this mess.”
It all made sense to Limis now. He was the Section 31 agent who visited Markalis in her quarters in the middle of the night one day. Limis had a hunch that he was Cole when first seeing him as Lenaris’s first officer. Now it was confirmed. “You’re Cole,” she said plainly.

“Guilty as charged,” he quipped, nudging a padd to the end of the desk. “This will help you slip aboard Darcen’s ship.”

Limis rolled her eyes as she whisked the padd off the desk. “A single person inside a Class-eight probe?” she read aloud.

“With specifications for scrambling sensors,” Cole added, standing up and heading for the side door. “Do you think we go into places we’re not welcome just by evading ‘stupid questions’? You feel personally responsible for the peril she’s in. And you don’t want to risk any more of your crew.”

Cole confidently strode out the door. Limis sauntered over to a drawer behind the desk to grab a phaser. She walked through the same exit into a corridor. But no one was in her field of vision in either direction. Returning to the ready room, Limis was left to ponder a similarly dangerous effort save Rebecca years back.


2361

Vircona's head landed softly on the table-top after her son left for school. Between her long shifts at the manufacturing plant and her undercover missions for Starfleet Intelligence, she was only getting two to three hours of sleep a day. She was grateful for a quick cat nap until her next factory shift.

A rhythmic pounding on the door shook Vircona awake. Maybe Yanith forgot something, poosibly his house key if he was knocking. She slowly trudged towards the door and unlatched all three locks. Upon stepping outside after opening the door, she found no one at her doorstep or down the street in either direction.

Vircona was about to close the door when she heard a chirping noise from the doorstep. The sound came from a padd waiting for someone to activate its message. She picked up the padd and pushed the activation key with her right thumb.

The blinking red letters reading "Activate" were then replaced by a message in blue capital letters.

We have your friend Rebecca. If you wish to see her alive again, then deliver thirty kilos of rhodium nitrite to us by 1700.

Vircona hit the activate key again to read the rest of the message, which instructed her to make the delivery and warned that failure to comply would result in Rebecca's death. Such instructions left Vircona confused since rhodium nitrite was an abundant low value substance used to protect humanoids from the radioactive properties of deuterium. Whatever the reasoning, she certainly could not take a chance with Rebecca’s life.
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Old November 5 2010, 06:33 PM   #92
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Four

Erhlich Tarlazzi reviewed the padd that Cole gave Limis while seated at the main engineering section’s master situation console. He was comparing the specifications with library computer schematics. Limis looked over his shoulder while discussing this daring rescue plan with Kozar, Morrison, and Sullivan. “It all checks out,” Tarlazzi declared, interrupting the hushed words of the other officers.

“You still wish to proceed with this insane plan?” Kozar huffed. “We have no way of knowing where they are since they certainly altered their course to the Ventani system.”

“Our passive scans as well as other ships they might have passed can provide more and more information about that ship,” Limis retorted, taking the padd back from Tarlazzi. “Some sensor genius could still come up with a neat trick for tracking them.”

“How will get yourself and Markalis off that ship?” Morrison inquired.

Limis hadn’t really thought that far ahead, but these officers were right to be concerned for her safety as well as that of the officer she was planning to rescue. “One thing at time, people,” she replied. She raised her hand when Kozar was about to speak. “Any rescue mission carries risk, but we have to try. That’s the whole point. And I’m going to risk any more lives other than my own. Is that clear?”

“Perfectly,” Kozar said almost inaudibly.

“I’ll be damned,” Tarlazzi mumbled as he continued scrolling through the data transferred from the padd.

The others stepped over to the console to learn what piqued the engineer’s curiosity. “This virus the Augments plan to use,” Erhlich continued, “it was engineered by Section 31 partially based on a pathogen first developed by Doctor Sarina Kaur of Project Chrysalis four-hundred years ago, possibly for use during the Eugenics Wars.”

“Forget the history lesson,” Kozar impatiently interrupted.

“There’s more,” Tarlazzi replied with a pleasured smirk at his specialty for antagonizing his superior officers, as that topic did hit a nerve in Kozar. “It is also based on a gene disruptor used by the T’Lani and Kelleruns called the Harvesters.

“They were determined to eliminate whoever knew about these weapons after their centuries-long war, including the Starfleet officers who assisted them. Looks like their worst fears were realized when Section 31 had Doctor Julian Bashir in their custody on Stardate 51698.”

Limis rolled her eyes, remembering that Cole’s rationale for wanting to prevent the use of this weaponized virus was the potential astro-political fallout. That never stopped such agencies before. This new information now added even more pieces to the puzzle. “And now Section 31 wants us to clean up their mess,” she groaned. “Lovely.”

The computer chimed, getting everyone’s attention. “Access denied,” said a nasal feminine voice.

“I knew I was getting greedy,” Tarlazzi quipped, as he was still scrolling through all the new data.

“I want that probe ready to go in an hour,” Limis said. “And don’t tell me it’ll take longer.”

She walked away, ending the meeting before Tarlazzi had a chance to respond. He just mouthed a barely coherent, “Yes, ma’am.”

Sullivan was completely silent during the mission briefing, possibly because Kozar and Morrison were already voicing the concerns that were already on her mind. Rebecca kept her gaze on her friend while weaving her way through the crowd of officers and technicians. Along the way, she did see Morrison give her an approving squint, meaning he was either imagining her naked or assuming she and his former love interest Sara Carson were more than friends. Yes, Sara was an attractive woman and Rebecca was mildly infatuated with her, but that was hardly Mandel’s concern. Rebecca returned his gaze with a derisive snort while continuing towards the main entryway to catch up to Limis.

While Vircona was looking straight ahead as she paced down the corridor, she could still see Rebecca’s approach form the she could still see Rebecca’s approach from the shadow being cast on the deck. “You were awfully quiet back there,” she curtly remarked.

“I hadn’t noticed,” Rebecca retorted. “Those Starfleet vets couldn’t dissuade you, but maybe I can as your friend.”

“You’re welcome to try,” Limis said avoiding looking at Sullivan, hoping any further discussion on the mission even with her closest of friends.

“It isn’t so much about stopping these fanatics now,” Rebecca offered, “as it is about punishing yourself for sending Aurellan on this possible suicide mission in the first place.”

“’Punishing myself’?” Vircona repeated, stopping to face Rebecca. “Wouldn’t that involve putting myself in harm’s way for no conceivable reason?”

“Not necessarily. You sent one of your crew on a dangerous mission and you feel saving her is your responsibility and yours alone.”

“More is at stake than one person’s life. But I owe it to her to get her off that ship alive. I did the same for you fourteen years ago. Believe me, I’ve considered all the alternatives and this is the best one.”

“Good luck then,” Rebecca relented. “Especially after what you did for me then.”

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Vircona replied putting a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. She then continued down the corridor lost in recollection of the lengths she was willing to go to in order to save Rebecca all those years ago.
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Old November 8 2010, 04:09 AM   #93
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

2361
That Vircona was assigned to work the loading docks at the factory on the same day she got a ransom note was hardly a coincidence. The factory had just gotten a new shipment of rhodium nitrite, so Starfleet Intelligence must have made arrangements for her to be there for the off-loading. Part of Vircona’s job was to make sure the seals on the refrigeration units were intact. The rhodium nitrite needed to be held at a very low temperature. Otherwise, it would be rendered inert.

Each of the inspectors held hand scanners to the refrigeration units. If the unit passed inspection, it was carried on an anti-gravity harness. The ones that failed were left behind to be disposed later. The first of the units Vircona scanned passed inspection. As other factory workers were bringing in the harnesses, Vircona surreptitiously placed a transporter tag on the unit. Rebecca’s kidnappers had included specifications for replicating a device in their ransom note.

I should not have told Becca about the bio-weapon, Vircona thought to herself. The bottom line now was she felt responsible for Rebecca’s situation and only she could rectify the situation. What worried Vircona the most was how Rebecca’s crazy mother would react to her kidnapping.


Vircona arrived at an abandoned warehouse at 1700 hours as instructed. She stood near two different rows of cargo containers waiting for Rebecca’s captors to show themselves. During a wait that seemed to take an eternity, she secured a phaser pistol in a holster on her right hip and a control pad in a holster on her left hip. As she was hearing footsteps near the main cargo door, she fidgeted at something hanging from a back pocket on her trousers, and then untucked her black tank top make sure that object was concealed.

Two middle aged human males in black leather jumpsuits sauntered into view at the other end of the rows of cargo containers. They were flanked by two burly Orion guards armed with phaser rifles. Vircona made sure the control pad was still accounted for, not wanting to show her hand until she knew that the innocent victim in this whole affair was safe.

“Throw down the gun and kick it over to us,” the agent on Vircona’s left instructed.

She did as instructed, anxiously waiting for the next move.

“Do you have our merchandise?” the other agent asked.

“Let me see Rebecca first,” Vircona firmly replied.

The agent on the left looked to his right and nodded. Rebecca was shoved into view, her wrists in shackles. Now that Vircona was satisfied, she grabbed the control pad in her other holster. The pushed an activate key and the refrigeration unit materialized between her and the agents. One of the agents then walked over to the container, scanned the unit, and nodded to his colleague.

The agents removed the shackles from Rebecca’s wrists, allowing her to go free. Rebecca hurriedly ran towards Vircona. Fighting back tears, she wrapped her arms around Vircona’s shoulders. They held each other in a long embrace; giving the human agents and the Orion guards the impression the two women were something other than friends. That impression was validated when they kissed on the lips. Vircona then quickly pulled away when she remembered that gawking men were watching them.

One agent was in the process of securing an anti-gravity harness on the refrigeration unit when Vircona slowly walked towards the container, with Rebecca clasping her left hand. “What exactly is this for?” she demanded. “Rhodium nitrite is harmless. It’s of very little value. You can find it anywhere.”

“We have someone here who can answer,” the agent replied. He looked to his right and motioned someone towards him.

A tall heavy-set human male with gray hair sauntered over. He was none other than Agent Chadwick grinning smugly. Vircona knew almost immediately from various clues from her meeting earlier that day that he was lying about having her infiltrate this rogue agency. He was in on the plan all along.

His grin became a smile when he came face-to-face with Vircona. “You’ve certainly done your homework on this,” he answered. “It’s not your concern. Just take your Lolita and get out of here.”

Vircona had vaguely recognized the name Lolita as a character in old Earth literature, but she was uncertain how that name applied to Rebecca. “But why put me through all this?” she impatiently asked.

“Rhodium nitrite by itself is harmless,” Chadwick said slowly.
Vircona gritted her teeth impatiently, ready to deck the man in the face if did not make his point very soon.

“To humans,” Chadwick continued. “And Bajorans, and most mammalian humanoids. But mixed with selenium, it produces a gas deadly to Cardassians. We learned that much from the DNA samples we got off of you. Your little trick forced us to move up our plans.”

“Good for me,” Vircona sarcastically replied.

“You’re not afraid we’ll report you to the authorities?” Rebecca asked. From her understanding of these situations in fictional tales, the bad guys were determined to make no one who could rat them out was left alive. Perhaps that was a difference between fiction and reality.

“As far as Starfleet is concerned,” Chadwick triumphantly replied, “we don’t exist. But we are everywhere, Vircona. This whole ransom demand was to let you know that once you join Section 31, you join for life.”

Vircona suddenly felt chills from Chadwick’s cold stare. She said nothing else and walked away with Rebecca. Chadwick and his group headed off in the other direction. Once she reached the door through which she came, she stopped. “Agent Chadwick,” she called.

Chadwick turned around with a pensive stare wondering what else his newest recruit wanted to say.

“You forgot about the backup gun,” Vircona replied. She removed a pistol from her back pocket and fired a lethal energy projectile into Chadwick’s chest. Rebecca reacted with horror at seeing her Bajoran friend take a life. The other agents and the guards began shooting back. Rebecca grabbed a few lighter containers one at a time and throwing them at the shooters. Vircona laid down cover fire and managed to hit the two guards. Then fired another blast at the refrigeration unit. Gas seeped out of the container. Its exposure to room temperature, as expected, made it inert. They would certainly find rhodium nitrite somewhere else, but at least Vircona’s conscience was at ease knowing she wasn’t a part of it.


Rebecca was still shaken up about an hour later over Vircona having killed Chadwick. Of course, she knew about Vircona’s long history of murdering Cardassians in the name of freeing her planet. But Rebecca had never seen one person take the life of another until now.

Meeting Vircona’s son did calm Rebecca’s nerves for a time. Vircona did tell her child Rebecca was a friend. She was still hesitant to say they were anything more at this point. Rebecca did admit to being romantically attracted to women as well as men. Vircona was by no means willing to say the same just yet with the idea never having really occurred to her until meeting Rebecca. Maybe these feelings were the product of anger towards the male gender.

Rebecca stood outside the back of the house staring at the sunset and ruminating over the day’s events. She wondered if this day would forever influence how she viewed the universe. Her own idealism was certainly humbled today. She felt two hands stroke both her shoulders. She smiled at the sight of Vircona holding her for a moment. Then she sighed walked away from the woman’s grasp.

“What’s wrong, Becca?” Vircona anxiously inquired.

“Just how you killed that man in cold blood,” Rebecca replied. “I know you killed Cardassians in self-defense and in defense of your homeworld. But killing people is still wrong.”

“Who says?!” Vircona bellowed.

Rebecca saw a cold anger in Vircona that she had never seen before. Even when Vircona killed Chadwick, it looked very precise and methodical. “People all over this universe go around killing, Becca,” she continued in a hushed tone. “Killing. Raping. Stealing. And they don’t all get what’s coming to them. The Cardassians think it’s all in the name of a manifest destiny or some shit like that.”

“And Section 31 is just as deluded. They think they hold the power of life and death, which is way too much power for any mere mortal. At least the Cardassians admit to feeling entitled to doing whatever the fuck they want for the glory of their ‘great empire’. But that an organization just as cold and calculating as those spoonheads has weaved it’s way into the righteous Federation. That’s unacceptable.”

Rebecca was shell-shocked. She had never seen a person display this type of anger. Vircona had a lot of good reasons for it. She had kept it bottled up for many years, and it was now boiling to the surface. Rebecca stroked Vircona’s dark hair before resting her head on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” Vircona said humbly. “I shouldn’t take this out on you.”

“No, it’s quite all right.”

Vircona patted Rebecca’s hand that was on her shoulder. They both sat quietly for a few minutes. Rebecca soon wondered if her parents learned that she was abducted. The police would be out searching for her and her mother would probably be blaming Vircona. “My parents want to meet you,” Rebecca said quietly.

“Isn’t your mother worried about my ‘backwards superstitions’?” Vircona retorted.

“She’s only human,” Rebecca answered with a smile. “But we can still strive to do better everyday.”

“What about this business about going with a girl for some school dance?”

Rebecca raised her head to face Vircona. Maybe it was jealousy, but she knew the gist of the question. “My parents are traditionalists of sorts, “ she explained. “A few of us still believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But not to the point where governments make laws saying a man can’t marry another man or woman can’t marry another woman.”

Vircona nodded with a smile. Maybe these Terrans were as great as once advertised after all.
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Old November 8 2010, 06:34 PM   #94
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

2375

Rebecca remembered this tender moment as her captain was loading herself into the probe. She was there to put the finishing touches on the life support system. The warp drive checkup was fairly routine since such probes were designed to travel at warp. Rebecca left that to two human male technicians, who were running scans and securing panels on the right side of the probe. A Denobulan male medical technician scanned Limis with a medical tricorder while making minute adjustments to her breathing apparatus. The med-tech also injected her with a tranquilizer to keep her heart rate normal during the launch.

During the whole process, all Rebecca could do was sit and watch as her friend was being jettisoned from the ship in a container the size of a coffin. She struggled to keep her composure as the engineering technicians secured the last panel on the probe and rolled it towards the launcher.

Chapter Five

“Probe is away,” Morrison reported from the bridge tactical station. He then left his station to a young male ensign and followed Kozar over the primary bridge engineering station on the port-forward corner of the bridge. Logan monitored the probe from a console facing the command chairs while Tarlazzi was at the wall-mounted console behind him. “Probe velocity at two hundred kilometers per second and increasing,” Logan said quietly.

“All life signs read nominal,” Tarlazzi added. He remained silent for a brief moment hoping that was still the case when, “The probe has gone to warp.”

Kozar stared silently at the probe beacon readouts on a monitor at his eye level. Morrison looked over the commander’s shoulder at the same readouts. “Come with me, Morrison,” Kozar whispered, heading for the port turbolift. “You have the bridge, Mister Logan,” he said at normal volume. “Change course to intercept the probe at the very first sign of trouble.”

“Aye, sir,” the de facto first officer compliantly answered.


“You can’t be serious,” the Emergency Medical Hologram grunted. “I’m a doctor, not Frankenstein.”

“Doctor Mora Pol has made several breakthroughs into detecting Changeling life signs,” Kozar replied in reference to the Bajoran scientist who studied Odo, who was now the chief of security aboard Deep Space 9. Kozar held a padd to the EMH in the sickbay office.

The holographic doctor snatched the padd and quickly read its contents. The designers of this newest edition of the EMH felt it could be made more personable by giving him unkempt chestnut hair and dark stubble on his face forming a five o’clock shadow. One problem that still had yet to be resolved was that his sarcasm often came off as demeaning to his patients.

“It’s a still long way from passing off the remains of a dead Changeling as a live one,” the EMH said with a sigh. All he really understood about whatever the two senior officers were planning was where they had gotten a dead Changeling in the first place. Months before the Mark Three’s first activation, a saboteur on the Lambda Paz planted the remains of a dead Changeling in the captain’s ready room in order to falsely implicate another crewmember. But once the destruction of Starbase G-6 and surrounding ships was thwarted, the true saboteur was found to be under influence of a parasitic species that once threatened Starfleet years before.

“Just do whatever you can, Doctor,” Morrison replied. “Leave the rest to us.”

The hologram scoffed in annoyance. “Of course,” he muttered. “I’m always the last to know about what goes on around here.” Sure enough, he had been informed of the full details of why he had been thrust into the role of acting chief medical officer. But his own concern ran deeper than the danger his boss was facing. While not having a full grasp of the concept of romantic attraction, he did find Aurellan an intriguing person as both a medical practitioner and as a woman.


The probe that was ferrying Limis registered as a stray meteoroid on the Phillip Green’s sensors. Once it came dangerously close to inflicting damage to the hull, which would be considerable for a ship traveling at warp, the deflector shields were triggered. However, the probe’s shields were designed to learn any ship’s deflector shield frequency and slip through that ship’s hull.

Once her sensor pad indicated she was inside the targeted ship, Limis shoved open the top access panel. Luckily, she was in a section of the ship devoid of personnel. The probe’s sensors could make those determinations according to the padd Cole gave her. She still felt lucky that feature didn’t randomly fail.

Limis removed a tricorder containing schematics of a Hideki-class vessel from her tricorder. This special wide-screened tricorder immediately alerted her to where on the ship she was. She tapped the red indicator on the ship schematic to magnify that section of the ship while skulking through the dark corridor. After entering a few commands into the scanner to locate the nearest antimatter injector ports.

Snežana struggled to stay conscious. Her skin was pale and flushed. She was coughing and wheezing as the virus continued to consume her from the inside. Darcen placed a cold cloth on her forehead and while Ileana carefully tipped a basin of egg-drop broth to pour small amounts of the liquid into her dying friend’s mouth.

“How long do I have?” Snežana asked weakly.

Rhys and Ileana both exchanged quick glances. They all knew the possible consequences of infecting themselves with sample viruses. They were prepared for death. None of them wanted each other to hide the truth. “A day,” Rhys answered, as a single tear crawled down his right cheek, “maybe two. You will see our crowning moment.”

Ileana brushed the tear off his cheek while she was herself fighting back tears. Darcen had insisted on not letting emotions interfere with what needed to be done. Now, Ileana knew he just said that to Aurellan so that she would not try to turn them against each other. Seamus’s death certainly devastated him, and he was just trying to be strong for the rest of the group. And now Snežana was on her deathbed.

Ileana grimaced in pain while breathing heavily. Rhys was also feeling the same pain in his forehead. The virus was starting to claim both of them as well. “You are both sick too,” Snežana groaned.

“Afraid so,” Ileana replied. “That means the only immune was…”

“Grimaud,” Rhys finished.

“Let Aurellan go,” Snežana mumbled almost incoherently. “She cannot threaten us.”

“Never,” Rhys hissed. “She will pay for betraying us.”

“Why?” Snežana groaned. “She cannot stop us. No one can. Revenge is so wasteful…”

Rhys began letting out muffled sobs. For all his genetically engineered stoicism, he could bare to see Snežana in this state. Ileana reached a hand out to Rhys’s shoulder to coax him out of the room while dabbing her own tears with the back of her other hand. They slowly walked out as Snežana was now mumbling in Russian about how much she longed for Aurellan.


Accompanied by Grimaud, Rhys and Ileana entered Markalis’s quarters. She was again bound to a chair. Rhys paced over to her and unlocked the restraints. “I need you find out if Grimaud is the one who is immune,” he told his prisoner.

“Why should I help you?” Aurellan snarled, wanting to spit in the face of the man who had threatened to kill her on at least two occasions.

“Snežana is dying,” Ileana replied, setting an instrument tray down on the table. “We’re showing symptoms.”

Aurellan’s instincts as a doctor quickly kicked in as she got up grabbed a hypo-syringe. Or maybe she was also smitten with Grimaud. Despite his compliance with Darcen, he had something of a serene innocence that she could easily identify with. He remained stoic almost endlessly, yet he had to believe this endeavor was wrong for so many reasons. “I told you guys not to play around with that stuff,” she grumbled.

Darcen hurled the chair across the room. “Not another word!” he bellowed. “Just do as your told.”

“The same way your bitch does?” Aurellan retorted. The words just popped out. She put very little thought into having said it. The conspicuous muscular build of Augment women was indicative of wanting to differentiate themselves from stereotypical human women. On the other hand, Ileana also bowed to Darcen’s will.

Ileana gave a hard slap to Aurellan’s left jaw. “Get the antibody sample from him,” she hissed.

Markalis walked over to Grimaud, deeply shocked that he seemed emotionally unaffected. After extracting a sample of antibodies, Aurellan walked over back to the table. That was when the whole room shook.

Darcen frantically stormed onto the bridge demanding answers. His woman was close behind him. His murderous stare at Faroun was enough of a clue as to what he would ask.

“We’ve dropped out of warp, sir,” Faroun said.

“Why?” Darcen demanded of the blonde female helmsman.

“One of the injectors just gave out,” the pilot answered with a confused look.

“That’s your best explanation?!” Darcen growled heading staring impatiently at the controls.

A middle-aged dark haired man with slightly olive stepped onto the bridge escorting a Bajoran woman. Darcen immediately recognized her as the captain of the Lambda Paz. He immediately wondered how she got aboard with her ship well out of sensor range, not that it was relevant at this moment. “Where’d you find her, Diego?” he asked somewhat playfully.

“I found her sneaking around the impulse deck,” Diego replied.

“We have ourselves a more a valuable hostage,” Darcen mused with a smug grin. “I will escort her to quarters,” he said, grabbing Limis by her collar.

“Faroun,” Rhys then called to his tactical officer. Indicating Diego, he said, “Get the warp drive back on line after you’ve tossed this incompetent fool out the nearest airlock.

Ileana stared fearfully as Darcen and others walked off the bridge. To her knowledge, Darcen never resorted to executions for incompetence. Perhaps as a consequence of the deterioration of neurons, spurts of rage were another symptom of the virus. In this mental condition, he could hurt or kill anyone, even her.
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Old November 11 2010, 04:35 AM   #95
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Six

An armada of about six-dozen Klingon warships led by the IKS Negh’Var patrolled the Sheva system. The patrol was to serve the purpose of reconnaissance, or so the captains of many of the smaller support vessels were told. Of course, the reason why such a large was needed for reconnaissance was to attract the enemy’s attention. If the fleet did attract attention, then that meant something of value was in that solar system. If not the fleet would break into smaller battle groups and move on to the next system.

Lieutenant Leskit monitored enemy fleet communications on the bridge of the Negh’Var under the command of General Martok. Leskit’s monitor indicated a large number of Jem’Hadar and Cardassian ships moving towards their position, but not in an attack formation. “Some are breaking off and headed towards our position,” Leskit reported, “while the rest are staying in orbit of the second planet.”

“Hold position,” Martok replied. “They may still think they’re chasing sensor ghosts. Make no offensive move until I order.”

Leskit kept his eye on the monitor waiting for the opposing fleet to call for reinforcements. That signaled the Klingon fleet would be drawing ships away from neighboring star systems. He kept a firm hand on his station until red ripples formed on the monitor. “They’re calling for reinforcements,” he said.

“All ships,” said Martok, “assume attack formation.”

The fleet broke off into battle groups six, eight, and ten. Each Negh’Var class battleships were flanked by two or three Vorcha-class attack cruisers and a swath of Birds of Prey. The Negh’Var’s battle group included the Rotarran and the Ch’Tang.

The Birds-of-Prey moved downward to confront Jem’Hadar and Cardassian fighters. The Klingon ships returned the enemy disruptor fire with multi-targeting disruptor shots. A number of Jem’Hadar fighters and battleships plowed into attack cruisers and Birds-of-Prey in order to buy time for the arrival of reinforcements.

Worf was in command of the Rotarran as its bridge was rocked violently by enemy weapons. N’Garen pulled herself away from sparks gushing from the weapons station. She kept an eye on the tactical readout and saw that the enemy ship being pursued was gaining distance. Two photon torpedoes from the Rotarran tore into the aft a Jem’Hadar fighter.

“Helmsman,” Worf bellowed over all the clatter on the bridge, “come to course three-two-six mark two-five. Maximum impulse.”

“Aye, sir,” Ch’Targh replied. “Closing to within forty thousand kelicams of two Jem’Hadar fighters.”

“Two attack ships approaching from fore and aft,” N’Garen added. “They’re locking plasma torpedoes.”

“All power to dorsal shields,” Worf commanded. “Brace for impact.”

Gray energy projectiles erupted from the attack ships piercing the hull of the Rotarran. The bridge collapsed when steel girders from the ceiling spilled onto the deck.


“We could find no discernible pattern for these hit-and-run Klingon attacks at first.”

Gul Latham presented a tactical report to his Vorta counterpart Diralna. Most Vorta conducted themselves with a quietly professional, but also arrogant demeanor. They usually dressed very casually, yet modestly. And since all Vorta were clones, they had little, if any, need for sexual activity. The Founders did see some value behind having female Vorta dress provocatively, as Diralna was. By all outward appearances, Latham was not at all distracted by her bright red lipstick, her cleavage, her maroon miniskirt that barely reached her thighs and her knee-high black boots.

“But based on reports of fleet movements in and out of the Borias Cluster,” Latham continued needing to concentrate hard to keep his gaze on Diralna’s pretty face, “we’ve found these attacks may have been intended to leave the Ventani system vulnerable.”

“To what end?” Diralna inquired while slouched on a gray armless sofa. “The Ventani system is a civilian colony a long way from any combat.”

“Perhaps they wish to intimidate us with an attack on Ventani Two,” Latham offered. “The Federation has confined itself to hitting military targets, but the Klingons and the Romulans would not give a second thought to such a brazen move. We need reinforcements in that system.”

“No,” Diralna firmly answered, much to Latham’s surprise.

Surely the Dominion was aware by now of Ventani’s historical significance, and to Latham’s surprise, the Vorta were not willing to commit ships to that system. “Maybe my universal translator is malfunctioning,” he said, indicating the communications pad hooked to his left wrist, “but did you just say you would not send reinforcements to Ventani?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, Latham. We will not take the bait by wasting resources to protect a strategically worthless planet.”

“Strategically useless to you,” Latham spat at the attractive Vorta.

Diralna smiled maniacally at Latham and slowly walked one foot in front of the other towards him. “Did you just imply that Cardassia is no longer part of the Dominion?” she asked seductively.

“Of course not,” Latham stuttered, his voice trailing off from her seductive charm.

“Good” Diralna said running her right index finger down the spoon-shaped ridge on Latham’s forehead. “Because we must look forward, not back if our common destinies are to be fulfilled. The only monuments we’ll need are the ones that celebrate our coming victory.”

Diralna began stroking the middle-aged Cardassian’s graying goatee, a rarity among Cardassians. As she arched her head forward to kiss Latham on the lips, Latham raised both hands and shoved Diralna back towards the sofa. He snorted and stormed out of the briefing room, leaving the Vorta in a sitting position on the floor in front of the sofa.
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Old November 12 2010, 11:28 PM   #96
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Aurellan Markalis was once again tied to a chair in her quarters. She twitched her wrists hoping to loosen the ropes that bound her arms together on the back of the chair. She was still not having much luck and was now conceding that Darcen would carry out his attack on Ventani Two. She was also resigned to the fact that she would eventually cease to be a useful hostage and would be killed in a matter of days. Her only regrets were having embarked on this fool’s errand and never being able to tell her captain how sorry she was for going against her orders.

The doors slid open and Darcen entered with Limis. Markalis’s eyes widened in disbelief at the sight of her commanding officer. That Limis had her legs bound and her hands tied behind her back was in no way a good sign. Limis, herself, had been captured trying to rescue Markalis. “Captain,” she gasped. “How did you get here?”

“Does it matter now?” Limis replied.

Another augment stepped inside and set down a chair for Limis to sit upon. She was shoved down on the silver chair and tied down at the waste. Darcen then leaned on the right arm of the chair so their eyes met. “Now, Captain,” he said curtly. “How many other Starfleet officers are aboard my ship?”

“Dozens,” Limis lied. “You’re gonna have a bitch of a time finding them all.”

Rhys growled in annoyance at the obvious lie. He paced over to Aurellan’s chair and placed a knife on the right side of her neck. “Where’s your ship?” he demanded. “What is Starfleet doing to stop us?”

“My ship is on the way,” Limis confidently proclaimed. “And they’ll blow yours to atoms.”

“Not with the two of you on board.”

“We’re both expendable.”

Markalis looked at Darcen then at Limis. For a brief moment she got her hopes up. Now one of her colleagues was also condemned to death. She wanted to beg for her life, but knew it was futile. Both she and her captain were as good as dead. It was just a matter of when.

Darcen slammed the knife into floor. “Too bad,” he quipped. “You will not see our great triumph. That is why ‘normal’ humans and similarly handicapped races are afraid of us. You are not willing to see that we are the future of humanity. Even Section 31, sworn to protect the Federation by any and all means necessary, tossed us aside.”

“Section 31,” Limis repeated. Now it all made sense. Agent Cole claimed his agency wanted to stop this bio-weapon because of potential astropolitical fallout. The real reason, Limis realized, was that Rhys was proceeding with a plan that Section 31 was unwilling to implement, despite having originally created this virus.

Darcen ignored her continuing his schpiel while squeezing Aurellan’s chin. “You are virtually one of us, my dear,” he said. “You should understand the need to make these hard choices during hard times. We are next of kin to gods.”

“Still with human frailties,” Markalis meekly replied after Darcen let go of her chin. “And devoid of compassion. Of all things, a god needs compassion.”

Limis couldn’t always say she agreed with that statement, but she was now intrigued by Darcen’s statement that Markalis was “one of us.” The only reason Julian Bashir was allowed to continue serving in Starfleet was some closed-door plea bargain. Then again, Limis was once in the Maquis, so Starfleet could conceivably waive the ban against human augments during the Dominion War.


The Lambda Paz was at high warp on course for the Ventani Two. With time quickly running out, the ship no longer had the luxury of dodging Jem’Hadar and Cardassian patrols. In fact, it was on a course that would take it outside of the short-range sensor radius of a Jem’Hadar patrol.

Morrison monitored a set of blips on his tactical monitor while Kozar looked over his shoulder, ready to sound battle stations. Logan strode down the port side of the bridge, monitoring various auxiliary stations. He completed his circuit around the bridge by providing a few last power allocation adjustments to Huckaby at operations.

A Starfleet on the center of Morrison’s monitor symbolized the Lambda Paz. Twelve Dominion logos spread out across both side of the screen indicated squadrons of Jem’Hadar attack ships and fighters moving closer and closer. “In sensor in forty-five seconds,” he whispered to Kozar. “Forty seconds… Thirty seconds.”

“Red alert,” Kozar called. Junior officers on the bridge began scrambling to auxiliary stations on both the port and starboard sides.

Logan sauntered over to the command chairs while tapping his comm-badge. “Bridge to engineering,” he said. “Mister Tarlazzi, prepare to reconfigure our engine emissions.”

Understood, sir,” Tarlazzi answered over the comm. “We’ll look like a Dominion heavy cruiser once it’s done.

Kozar nodded a few more instructions to Morrison while heading for the center seat. “Bridge to sickbay,” he called. “Doctor, are you ready to implement your masquerade?”

As ready as I’ll ever be to rouse the dead,” the EMH retorted.

“Carson,” Kozar said to the alpha shift flight controller, “slow us to full impulse at increments of a hundred million kilometers per second per second.”

“They’re hailing us,” said Morrison.

“Put it on speakers,” Kozar replied.

A soft-spoken, yet confident, sounding voice piped through the ship-to-ship speakers. “We detected a Starfleet warp signature at your position. Now it is no longer registering.

“We noticed the same thing,” Kozar answered. “It was just a sensor ghost, trying to throw us off guard.”

I see,” the Vorta said with a minor hint of skepticism. “Our scans also indicate your subspace field emitters are out of alignment. You risk being mistaken for a Federation ship.

Kozar was beginning to worry. He looked over at Morrison, who shook his head indicating the patrol was maintaining position. Mandel also knew to prepare for a firefight even knowing one ship could not stand against twelve squadrons of enemy vessels.

Slow to quarter impulse and prepare for inspection,” the Vorta continued.

“You wouldn’t want to risk harming a Founder, would you?” Kozar asked, uncertain that bluff would work.

A long pause followed. As each second passed, Kozar and Morrison were hoping they were running scans to verify the commander’s bluff. “My apologies,” the Vorta said. “We did not realize you had a god walking amongst you.”

“They’re getting closer,” Morrison ominously whispered. “Almost in visual range.”

“Close the channel,” Kozar hissed. “Make it look like static. Warp speed, helm. Get us the hell out of here.”

“Aye, sir,” Carson replied, as her fingers danced across the controls to re-engage the warp drive.

“Any sign of pursuit?” Kozar asked, feeling he would not like the answer.

“No, sir. Probably beating their brains out wondering why that Dominion warp signature suddenly vanished.”

Kozar let out a relieved sigh. He sat down in the command chair almost certain they would not be so lucky next time.


“I’ll ask again,” Darcen hissed in Limis’s left ear. As she was being interrogated, she continued to twitch her wrists to loosen the ropes. “How many other ships are on the way to intercept us?”

Rhys had asked that question several times before, but Limis repeatedly feigned ignorance, despite having discussed plans with the commanders of the Seventh and Ninth Fleets. Markalis just watched from across the room wondering how long her captain could keep this up before Darcen snapped. He was feeling light-headed at times and becoming increasingly short-tempered. Maybe she could exploit this weakness like she did with Snežana. The question of how was difficult here with Grimaud potentially reading her thoughts while looking over her shoulder.

“If you really must know,” Limis said, “the whole damn Ninth Fleet will be waiting for you at Ventani.”

Darcen chortled while grabbing Limis on the neck. “Whom do you think you’re talking to?” he grumbled. “They wouldn’t leave Deep Space 9 and the Chin’toka sector unprotected even to stop us.”

“That’s my best guess. I’m not included in very many fleet briefings.”

Darcen socked Limis in the right eye and stood upright. “Stop playing games with me, Bajoran,” he huffed. “You should appreciate what I’m about to do to your people’s greatest enemies.”

Before Limis could reply, the comm chimed. “Excellency,” Faroun’s voice called. “We’ve reached the Ventani System.

“Time to make history,” Darcen cheerfully proclaimed. “Faroun, drop us to impulse. I’m on my way.”

Limis lunged towards Darcen, slipping the ropes that had previously bound her wrists around his neck. Having been taken by surprise, he fell backwards as she pulled him down. He was also experiencing sharp pains in his forehead, which made sending him to the deck easier. During that exchange, Limis also fell backwards, allowing her to slip through the rope that had bound her to a sitting position.

Markalis could only watch nervously as her captain flung her chair at Darcen’s head. What was surprising to Aurellan was that Grimaud had not warned Rhys ahead of time to prevent such an altercation. All she did know about Grimaud’s telepathic abilities was how erratic they were. Aurellan then had to remind herself that the reason for Grimaud’s inaction was not important at this moment.

Both Limis and Darcen forced themselves upright at the same time, and they stood face to face. Before Limis could deliver a right hook at her opponent, Darcen lunged towards her, pinning her to the wall. “You got lucky that time,” he gloated. “I still have five times your strength and reflexes twice as fast.” He arched his head around to glare at Grimaud while holding his right forearm to Limis’s clavicle. “You were supposed to warn me!” he snarled.

Grimaud was already put out by Rhys’s anger shortly before that outburst. His shoulders drooped, as he turned around dismayed to focus again on the prisoner he was supposed to be guarding. His eyes widened in surprise when he saw Ileana step through the door brandishing a phaser pistol. His response quickly alerted Rhys. He loosened his grip on Limis to confront his lover.

“Let these people go,” she implored, as they inched closer to each other. “Snežana’s right. Revenge is wasteful.”

“You, too?” Darcen replied. “Why?”

“Ever since you killed Diego, I see now that you have become just as much of a liability. What will killing these two accomplish? It’s more about your legacy, your ego, than about ending this war.”

“I don’t think you have it in you to kill me,” Rhys taunted. He grabbed the phaser from Ileana’s hand and hurled it across the room. He then gave an evil grin.

Ileana pulled a knife from her belt and lunged at Rhys. He grabbed both her wrists. Their equal strengths held their bodies in place. Deadlock. The only deciding factor now was if one of them winced in pain. Limis quietly watched these events unfold and considered this distraction the right moment to grab Darcen’s holstered phaser.

But she could not move. The nerve impulses did not fire. Not even a stray thought was in her mind, as if her brain was in stasis. All she could do was stand frozen while blinking her eyes. Time appeared to stand still. The room was eerily quiet. Not even the sound of breathing and hearts beating could be heard. Markalis looked around the room and saw Rhys and Ileana held motionless. She was still trying to loosen the restraints on her wrists. Maybe Grimaud figured that even if she did escape, she couldn’t fight off three augments herself. Maybe he lacked the strength to hold four people motionless. Or maybe something in his subconscious was holding him back.

“Grimaud,” Aurellan said in a partial whisper. “Let them go.”
Grimaud shook his head while staring at the floor as if embarrassed. His facial muscles tensed, suggesting he was terrified of the consequences of defying Darcen.

“You didn’t warn Rhys of Limis’s escape attempt,” Aurellan persisted. “I think that’s because you know that this whole venture is wrong. If this attack goes forward, thousands of civilians will die. And the Dominion will certainly retaliate. It’ll be just the excuse the Founders need to use biological weapons against us.”

Grimaud looked straight ahead in the direction of Rhys and Ileana. In a split second, Darcen lowered the knife in Ileana’s hand and jammed it into her chest.

“Noooo!” Grimaud cried out to the surprise of everyone else in the room.

Darcen did not have much of a chance to gloat as he watched Ileana collapse to the floor, blood trickling down her torso and abdomen. He felt his phaser pistol being removed from his holster. He turned around to see Limis fire a lethal burst at his shoulder.

He fell to the floor with a look of embarrassment on his face. After all he had hoped to accomplish, he would die by his own weapon. “You can kill me,” he muttered, “but Faroun will still deploy the weapon.”

In a silent rage, Limis shot the dying man three more times in the chest.

Markalis had just been untied when she noticed what was taking place. “Limis, stop it,” she said, grabbing the captain’s right wrist. “He’s dead already.”

“You’d show him compassion,” Limis deadpanned, “after all the times he threatened to kill you.”

Markalis nodded silently.

“We still have to stop the weapon,” Limis said. Indicating Grimaud, she asked, “Can we trust him?”

Aurellan smiled at Grimaud, and he smiled back. “He just gave us reason to,” she replied.

“You head to the torpedo launch bay,” Limis instructed while retrieving the phaser Rhys had thrown aside and handing it to Markalis. ‘I’ll go to the bridge. Two of us against who knows how many augments. Doesn’t look good, but we have to try.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Markalis softly answered.

As the women left, Grimaud just stared at the dead bodies of his colleagues. As eccentric and misguided as Rhys and Ileana were, they were two of his closest friends. A single tear fell down his right cheek in silent mourning of their deaths and of Snežana eventual demise.


Ventani Two was an Earth-sized planet with a copper surface much like Cardassia Prime. It had no noticeable bodies of water leaving a layperson to wonder how it could possibly support humanoid life. The Phillip Green closed in on the planet. None of the orbital patrols gave the small patrol vessel much thought. Right behind it, the Lambda Paz dropped out of warp with phasers firing at its aft thrusters. The Green returned fire with aft torpedoes.

The bridge rocked lightly from that hit. Kozar stood in front of the tactical station as Morrison closely monitored the tactical situation. “Is there a big enough hole in their shields to get a transporter beam through?” the commander inquired.

“Yes, sir,” Morrison answered. “Aft shields at forty percent effectiveness.”

“Assemble your away teams, then.”

Morrison called to a male Benzite ensign at the port mission operations console and motioned him to take over tactical before sprinting to the starboard turbolift.


Morrison and Neeley lead a five person team which also consisted of a human male, a native Rigelian male, and an Andorian zhen from left to right. They skulked through a lower deck corridor dressed in vests designed to absorb most lethal phaser settings and armed energy projectile compression phaser rifles. The three MACO’s bringing up the rear turned around when two male augments began shooting at them from behind. Morrison turned around and pinned himself against a wall in response to the exchange of fire and motioned Neeley to duck against the opposite wall. Those two officers began to lay down cover fire while the other three were crouched down. The exchange of weapon fire went on for about a minute with no one going down. That was until the Rigelian in center took an energy projectile straight in the abdomen, sending him to the deck. The Andorian and human soldiers were clipped by phaser fire in the shoulders. The Andorian quickly gathered herself and fired, stunning the man on the right. The human soldier got his man, so he and the Andorian continued forward.

Down the corridor, two more augments—one male, one female—sprinted towards the team behind Morrison and Neeley. They began firing before the augments could. The female augment took another shot that clipped Morrison in the shoulder. Seeing that the male had a shot at Neeley, Morrison dove across the hall and shoved her to the deck. He shot the man while taking a point-blank shot in the chest. Neeley rolled her eyes as she shot the female augment, not sure whether her male colleague’s action was a display of heroism or just a foolish one of male chivalry.


Faroun silently watched the viewscreen as the ship inched closer to the planet. He was becoming increasingly anxious and impatient as the man at tactical to report. “In range?” he demanded.

“Not enough for the maximum dispersal,” said Aymar, whose dark brown skin and short black hair suggested East Indian ancestry.

“Come on. Come on!” Faroun growled. He was beginning to buckle under his fear that Darcen was dead after he had not yet reported back to the bridge after his announcement that the ship had entered the system. “Prepare a manual lock.”

“Manual?” Aymar repeated to make sure he heard the order correctly.

“Starfleet sensors will detect a weapons lock. With luck, they’ll need more time to extrapolate the torpedo’s trajectory.”


“Anything yet?” Kozar asked, waiting to see what the Phillip Green would do next on the viewscreen.

“No, sir,” the Benzite relief tactical officer replied. After a quick chirp, he looked down at a sensor readout. “Wait, torpedo has been launched at the planet.”

Keeping his calm, Kozar bolted for the helm. “Nothing personal, Carson,” he said, “but should take the helm here.”

“No problem,” Carson deadpanned, relinquishing her seat.

Each second that passed seemed like an eternity. The Lambda Paz arched upward above the Phillip Green and made a hard starboard turn towards the planet. As the torpedo carrying the deadly biological agent crept closer and closer to the planet’s outer atmosphere, the Lambda Paz veered towards it. Three quantum torpedoes erupted from the dorsal sensor pod and closed in on the first torpedo, scattering it to pieces harmlessly over the planet.

Kozar saw this take place on the viewscreen and stared at it as the rest of the bridge fell silent. “Report,” he said, as the minute of silence made him more and more nervous.

“No sign of viral contamination, sir,” Huckaby answered from the Ops console.

Kozar let out a sigh of relief falling backwards into his chair. He and Carson grinned triumphantly at each other and they locked hands in a congratulatory hand shake. True, the lives they saved were Cardassian. But they may have saved many more lives by preventing the Dominion from being provoked into using biological warfare.
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Old November 12 2010, 11:29 PM   #97
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Faroun was in silent shock, now that everything building to this moment for naught. He did not even hear Starfleet and MACO troops enter the bridge from a starboard access hatch. “Stop right there,” Morrison called to him. “Get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers.”

Faroun did exactly as he was told. Darcen was dead, the attack averted, and no way to rig up a second torpedo. Neeley gestured the same instructions to Aymar. Two Capellan male soliders, at least a whole foot taller than the two senior officers, entered from a port turbolift and began arresting the rest of the bridge crew. To Morrison’s surprise, Limis entered the bridge from the same entryway.

“Lambda Paz to away teams,” Kozar called over the bridge comm.

“We’re all here and intact, Number One,” Limis replied. “I didn’t ask for the help but thanks anyway.”
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Old November 13 2010, 07:43 PM   #98
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Epilogue

Captain Limis did not bother to get medical treatment for herself in sickbay. She just changed into a clean uniform and applied a dermal regenerator to the black eye Darcen gave her in her quarters. On her way to sickbay to check on the rest of the walking wounded, she intercepted Ronnie Kozar in the corridor. Kozar stopped and prepared to turn around thinking she would throw the proverbial book at him for ignoring her insistence that she didn’t want to risk anyone else’s life on a rescue mission. Then he remembered the large padd in his right hand.

“Thought you could avoid me?” Limis teased while flashing a devious grin.

“The thought crossed my mind,” Kozar retorted. Handing her the padd, he added, “The damages.”

“I’ll send you the bill,” Limis said while taking a quick glance.

After several seconds of silence, Kozar was hoping the topic of going against captain’s orders would not come up. Since they had assumed their respective positions, their working relationship seemed like a game of who had the longer list of grievances against the other. “And under more ideal circumstances,” Limis continued sounding both jovial and stern at the same time, “you’d get both a reprimand for disobeying my orders and a commendation for original thinking.”

“Yes, sir,” Kozar demurely answered.

“But I’ll settle for the commendation for protecting me from myself. You performed the duties of a first officer very admirably.”


Morrison and Neeley were seated next to each other in sickbay’s primary intensive care unit. Morrison was nursing several massive phaser burns on his shoulders and chest. Neeley’s felt pain in between each breath as a result of fractured ribs. She looked around the medical bay hoping that a nurse would notice her pain medication was wearing off. Morrison was simply admiring her sweat soaked forehead and frizzy red hair.

“If you don’t mind my saying,” Mandel teased, “I’ve never seen you any hotter.”

Lisa rolled her eyes and snickered at his feeble attempt at flirtation. “I should thank you for taking that phaser blast for me,” she said with a sigh. “And then kick your ass for being so foolish!”

Mandel saw a certain appeal in being beat up by a girl as soon as Lisa said that. “I have been a bad boy lately,” he quipped.

“Shut up,” Lisa huffed. She looked away from Mandel straining to say something that had been on her mind since their spontaneous sexual encounter in a cargo bay two weeks earlier. “We really need to define some parameters.”

“D-define parameters?” Mandel nervously repeated, starting to wonder if Lisa wanted something more.

“We’re not a couple. None of that sickening lovey-dovey stuff.”

Mandel sighed, though quietly to hide his relief. “Definitely not,” he said sheepishly. “But the sex is amazing.”

“Absolutely.”

Limis entered the ICU, looking for the EMH Mark Three. Morrison grinned when he saw her, seeing the captain project an air of confidence that he found attractive, even in a woman of early middle age. Neeley noticed how Morrison looked at the captain, hoping he wouldn’t create an uncomfortable conflict of interest.

Limis saw the holographic doctor as he was placing a sheet over Snežana’s corpse. He handed a Denobulan female nurse a padd while saying, “Snežana Ilochko, time of death 2317 from massive cell and hemoglobin degradation.” He turned his head to Limis standing next to him and began to look apologetic. “No fatalities among the crew,” he added.

“Good,” Limis deadpanned. Then indicating Grimaud on the biobed on her left, she asked, “And him?”

“No sign of the virus they were trying to use. Why he doesn’t talk is tough to figure though.”

“Darcen said he was broken out of the Institute because the doctors were hoping to suppress his telepathic abilities."

Grimaud’s eyes narrowed in annoyance that the two of them were referring to him in the third person. The EMH smirked. “He’s a little frustrated that he can’t sense my presence,” he joked. “No, his file says the doctors were helping master not reading other people’s thought without permission.”

Limis shot a smile at Grimaud to thank him for not reading her thoughts without permission, while noticing over his shoulder that Aurellan Markalis was sorting through the padds that covered the desk in her office.


That expression that doctors made the worst patients was true. What was strange about Aurellan being there was she was still dressed in a turquoise surgical gown, which was adorned with a combadge in its usual location on a uniform. The holographic doctor had repeatedly insisted that Aurellan should be in bed, but Limis guessed she eventually pulled rank on him.

Limis entered the CMO’s office with a wide smile. She found the sight of a patient in a surgical gown working in the office odd, but she was mostly worried for her chief medical officer, who had just gone through the most traumatic assignment in her brief Starfleet career. Markalis looked up to see the captain while still maintaining an ambivalent facial expression. “Captain,” she said quizzically. “Can I help you with something?”

"I was remembering something Darcen said,' Limis continued, "about humans' fear of 'people like us' and that you were one of them. But if you were an augment, you'd be barred from serving in Starfleet or practicing medicine. So you're either a descendant of the Eugenics Wars Augments or... "

"That's classified medical information, Captain," Markalis replied.

"This is off the record," Limis said, removing her combadge and setting it down on the desk.

Markalis did the same. She decided that now was the best time to explain everything—her introverted tendencies, the fact that she rarely ever smiled, and her intense need for consistent daily and weekly routines. And while she repeatedly insisted she was not romantically attracted to other women, Snežana was attracted to her. Snežana’s advances were still a reminder to Aurellan of her history of pushing people away. Vircona was here as a friend, rather than as her commanding officer. "Are you familiar with a condition called Asperger's Syndrome?" she asked.

"I know of it. I'm nowhere near the medical expert you are though."

Aurellan sighed, then got up and walked across the room bracing to share something she had not shared with very many others. "I was found to be severely autistic when I was three years old,” she explained. “I would yell and scream for no apparent reason. My language development was far behind. I didn't even respond to my own name. When the doctors learned what was wrong with me, I began undergoing a series of genetic treatments. I became as close to 'normal' as was possible.

“However, I continue to struggle with basic social interaction. I have an intense need for predictability in my daily routines. Everyday, I take tranquilizers so I don't become mentally overwhelmed. I would still give up my superior mental abilities and my need for structure and order to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise. To love and to be loved."

Limis grinned, considering how chaotic the last sixteen months had been. “Who doesn’t want predictability?” Limis asked rhetorically. “Yet you chose a chaotic way of life.”

“I chose to become a doctor,” Markalis replied. “I later saw an opportunity make a difference in my profession. I bring order to the chaos this war has wrought on all of us.”

“Longing for simpler times,” Limis mumbled, remembering how quickly she had adulthood thrust upon her. One day, she was a child without a care in the world. The next, she was an orphan fending for herself.

“Ma’am?” Markalis asked in confusion.

“I see you as the little girl I once was,” Limis explained, “in what seems like another lifetime.”

Markalis smiled, feeling a measure of contentment that her commanding officer understood her. She spent the last few days certain Limis would have her discharged from the service after such a betrayal. That telepathic manipulation influenced Aurellan’s actions was still of little consolation. Getting over some of her other less than reputable actions, however, would take weeks of counseling and months, if not years, of soul searching. The outcome was still positive, but she still helped create a virus to be used as a weapon and deliberately infect four sentient beings with that virus. Those wounds would not heal in a day or a week.

Limis returned the smile. She picked up her comm badge and headed for the door. “Try to get some rest, Doctor,” she suggested.

“Vircona,” Markalis called the second the doors parted. She surprised herself, having never before addressed a superior by given name. “Thank you for coming back for me.”

Markalis ran towards Limis and wrapped her arms around the older woman. This caught Limis by surprise, as Markalis was not known for such spontaneous expressions of affection. After a second of hesitation, Limis returned the warm embrace.


Aurellan later took the captain’s advice and retired to her quarters for a quick shower. While in the process of disrobing, she felt a chill in the room. Maybe it was momentary draft, but her Russell terrier woke up from a light nap on the sofa in the living area and began barking. “Milady,” Aurellan called to the dog. “Why are you fussy? Calm down.”

She unhooked the back of her brazier, but kept it on when she saw someone in the corner of her eye. Cole was sitting in the same chair he occupied the first time he appeared in her quarters.

“Let me congratulate for a job well done,” he said with something of a triumphant grin.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Markalis gasped, holding both her arms to her chest. She quickly stomped over to her bed to put on a pink silk robe while her back was to turned to him.

“You don’t have to stay dressed on my account,” Cole retorted.

Markalis tied her robe shut and hurled a pillow at the intruder. “’Job well done’?” she scoffed. “I could’ve died during this undercover mission you sent me on.”

Cole gently flung the pillow off his lap. “But you stayed the course,” he said. “You stood by your principles, and you showed great courage that even you didn’t think you were capable of.”

Aurellan sat down at the foot of her bed gritting her teeth. She was not sure whether to be flattered by that positive evaluation or her disturbed that she had taken actions she did over the past two weeks. “But why me?” she asked, still trying to calm herself with slow deep breaths. “Surely, you have more qualified agents for that kind of field work.”

“But none of them have your gift for intellectualizing all the things most of us take for granted,” Cole answered plainly. “You spoke their language.”

Aurellan shook her head deeply troubled someone was comparing her to humans who could so easily trivialize life. “I am nothing like them,” she insisted.

Cole slowly stood up walked towards the bed. “Of course not. But you possess a willingness to take up a cause of greater worth; greater than that of loyalty to the Federation, your ship, your crew. As much as your captain vilifies Section 31, we did a good deed today.”

Aurellan just sat and stared coldly at her uninvited guest. The only thing stopping her from having a complete nervous breakdown was knowing that her anger was not just at Cole. “Get out of here now,” she said in a suppressed rage, jabbing her right index at him.

“For once I’m happy to oblige,” Cole retorted. He strode towards the main entrance and left.

Aurellan walked across the cabin to make sure no one else was in her quarters. She looked thoroughly under the sofa, the desk, and the bed. Once satisfied no other intruders were in her quarters, Aurellan walked into the head and activated forcefields to seal off the main entrance and the head. She finished undressing and set the shower chamber to dispense water.

Cold water poured down on her body. Aurellan suddenly found herself overcome with emotion and slid down the wall into a sitting position holding her legs up to her chest. She wept as many traumatic memories began funneling to the surface of her consciousness. First, of a Jem’Hadar stabbing her in the shoulder, then of firing a lethal phaser blast at a Jem’Hadar who very nearly killed her several months earlier, and finally of slugging Darcen after he threatened to kill her.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime, the recruiter who first encouraged her to join Starfleet told her. She had done a lot of good things for an organization devoted to keeping the peace. Then the Dominion War began, and she found herself facing danger almost everyday.

These were the moments, Aurellan Markalis realized, that robbed her of her innocence.
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Last edited by Enterprise1981; November 13 2010 at 08:20 PM.
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