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Old May 25 2012, 10:42 PM   #226
Rear Admiral
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Location: US Pacific Northwest
Re: Star Trek: Restoration - Onyx

I’m unsure if the ‘cure’ applied here wasn’t worse than the original disease. That was an awfully big gamble, especially seeing as how seductive the station’s power and abilities were to the Free Borg, and how narrowly a newly awakened Collective was avoided.

I thought Qwert was done for, but the cagey old Ferengi had a few surprise left for his captors. As for Benjamani’s demise, I find myself unable to mourn the passing of that caustic witch.

Terrific stuff! I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed this story, nor how quickly your gripping narrative could draw me right back in.

Now, to paraphrase an immortal video-game warrior, “FINISH IT!!!”
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Old May 26 2012, 11:53 AM   #227
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: Star Trek: Restoration - Onyx

It appears that being in a Borg collective and bringing "peace" to the galaxy is a tempting a drug. The station followed the instructions, but what now? What will happen to it, full of Borg nanoprobes?

At least there are some good things about this gamble.
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Old May 30 2012, 02:48 PM   #228
Location: Lyon, France
Re: Star Trek: Restoration - Onyx

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
I’m unsure if the ‘cure’ applied here wasn’t worse than the original disease. That was an awfully big gamble, especially seeing as how seductive the station’s power and abilities were to the Free Borg, and how narrowly a newly awakened Collective was avoided.

I thought Qwert was done for, but the cagey old Ferengi had a few surprise left for his captors. As for Benjamani’s demise, I find myself unable to mourn the passing of that caustic witch.

Terrific stuff! I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed this story, nor how quickly your gripping narrative could draw me right back in.

Now, to paraphrase an immortal video-game warrior, “FINISH IT!!!”

Thanks for the comment, means a lot. Especially glad that you were drawn back into the story, considering how long it has been since I updated!!!!

The consequences of the "cure" will become much clearer in the next chapter, and they may not be what you are expecting.

I don't know whether I feel sorry for Benjamani, but she did prove herself towards the end. Plus the full consequences of her death may not become clear until Volume IV.

New chapter coming at the end of the week, and then there'll be one more to round off Volume III before the beginning of Volume IV.

Thanks again for the comment!

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
It appears that being in a Borg collective and bringing "peace" to the galaxy is a tempting a drug. The station followed the instructions, but what now? What will happen to it, full of Borg nanoprobes?

At least there are some good things about this gamble.
Thanks to you too Gul Re'jal. As to what now, that will be dealt with very quickly in the next chapter!
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Old March 4 2013, 11:13 PM   #229
Location: Lyon, France
Re: Star Trek: Restoration - Onyx

So... One week turned into almost a year! Still plugging away at this story when I have the time and the final chapter is almost finished. In the meantime, here is the penultimate one. Thanks to any who are still following the story of Ba'el, Kalara and the others onboard the USS Redemption!

Chapter 27

Hornet Fighter

Data scrolled up on Turner’s primary monitor and her sensors confirmed what she had hoped. Onyx Station’s shields were down.

Turner smiled. The mission had succeeded, so far at least. With the shields down, Redemption would be able to begin transporting off the remaining Starfleet officers and ambassadorial aides onboard. Including Ba’el. If everything proceeded as it should, the next time she heard from Redemption, he would be the one sitting in the captain’s chair.

She dismissed the stray thought as her sensors showed two of the Laurentii tadpoles breaking off from a writhing mass and zeroing in on one of her men.

“Nine, you have two tadpoles coming after you.”

“I copy Lead… I could use some help.”

Turner checked her screen and saw that no one else would be able to make it in time. Breaking to port and pulling back on her stick, she came around in a wide turn. Inverting, she dived to starboard and kicked in the fighter’s burners, making a run straight for the fleeing Hornet and the two pursuing tadpoles.

The chase took her back towards the space station and the heart of the battle. She could see Redemption, still taking a beating from two Hegemony Behemoths. A couple of friendly Behemoths had broken through and were coming to her assistance, but Turner could tell that if the ship did not recover their people off the station fast it was not going to make it back out again.

Nearing Starburst Nine – piloted ably by a Cardassian male named Lemec – Turner flicked her finger over the screen in front of her, cycling through the weapon-selection choices and settling on the twin phaser banks on either side of her cockpit. Nudging the ship around – the sight of Onyx Station vanishing off her port side – she dropped the aiming reticule hovering in the middle of her cockpit window over the lead tadpole’s squirming outline. Waiting a breath, she depressed the fire control button, unleashing the full power of her phasers.

A steady burst of crimson fire scored the green living hull, tearing at flesh and releasing effluent into the void. Immediately, Turner switched weapon-control to primary and sent a quartet of focused laser bursts into the ship.

Flesh bubbled and evaporated, turning to fluid and then to molten ash. The tadpole careened out of control, gore hardening to rock in the cold. A tight spiral curled the tadpole back down toward its fellow tadpole, forcing it to juke and dive away from Starburst Nine.

“Thanks for the save, Lead.”

“It’s not over yet,” Turner replied, checking her screens and seeing a handful of other tadpoles heading their way. “We’re going to have-“

Turner broke off as a screech filled the cockpit. Wincing at the feedback, she cursed and slapped her hand down on the red wash that had suddenly invaded her screens. Turning off the alert, she cycled back to her main sensor screen. What she saw there seemed unbelievable at first, so she broke hard to port, bringing her Hornet’s nose up and back around to face the station again.

A terrible explosion had ripped apart the starboard side of one of the Behemoths coming to Redemption’s aid. As Turner watched, a glow suffused Onyx Station, gaining in intensity until it was unleashed in a focused burst of charged particles that smite the already stricken Behemoth.

“Son of a bitch,” Starburst Nine whispered over the comm.

Turner could only stare. Whatever advantage they had gained with their nanite attack had just been erased.

The Laurentii had regained control of Onyx Station.

USS Redemption

Through the tactical holographic display that surrounded them, Prin Ly’et and the rest of Redemption’s bridge crew had a clear view as Onyx Station began its assault.

The massive living space station, up until now a bystander in the midst of the chaos of battle, had already taken out one of the Behemoths. From the energy gathering in crackling electricity around the station’s outer bulk, it was minutes away from another attack.

“Evasive manoeuvres,” Prin shouted. The Redemption lurched to the side, tossing the bridge crew as the inertial dampeners struggled to keep up. The station vanished from the forward view, but Prin knew that she only had to twist her head around to see it.

Instead, she could see the massed ranks of Behemoths and other Hegemony vessels, locked in a fraternal struggle for control of the fate of their people. There did not seem to be any way out.

Reaching out, Prin slapped her comm badge. “Bridge to engineering.”

There was silence for a moment and then an unfamiliar voice sounded, backed up by the steady throb of the ship’s engines. “Engineering here.”

“Where is Commander Kane?”

“He’s… I’m not sure, Commander. He’s here but he… None of the Borg are responding.”

Prin stood in the middle of the Pit, her eyes unfocused. Damn it, Kane, what the hell is going on down there?

Before she could press the unknown engineer for more information, the sound of a scream tore from the open comm. line.

Main Engineering
USS Redemption

Kane felt the moment that the Laurentii gained access to Ispaoreai Hyps’rat’s brainchamber. The single mind not only communed with the station’s neural structure, it subsumed it like a parasitic symbiont that had the capability to overthrow the host. Kane realised that the sensation was familiar – he had felt something similar the day he became Borg.

Kane’s heart pounded in his temples, louder than the sound of Ispaoreai Hyps’rat’s systems had been moments before. After experiencing the glory of being joined to such a being, of accepting it into his homehive, he found it difficult not to give in to the swell of anger that threatened to overwhelm him at being so summarily dismissed.

We cannot give up without a fight.

Leyeta’s voice brought an unexpected calm to the link between the Free Borg. Kane embraced it, realising that his companion was right. Not only had they embraced Ispaoreai Hyps’rat into their link, but allowing the Laurentii to regain control of the space station could spell the end of the Redemption and her allies.

We fight, he told his fellow Borg.

Taking a moment, Kane accepted the strength of will being fed to him by the others, storing it up while maintaining his connection to Ispaoreai Hyps’rat with every ounce of strength still remaining to him. The Laurentii who had seized control fought back. It was almost like hanging from a ledge on the top of a building with one hand while someone prised his fingers away, one by one.

Kane reached back down the frequency pathway created between his own cortical nodes and the nanite hubs created by the torpedoes. He delved even further than he had previously, forcing his own consciousness through the intangible conduits until he could actually see through Ispaoreai Hyps’rat’s own internal sensors and ocular flesh. His vision grew to encompass the vast central core where the station’s brainchamber resided.

Through those sensors, he could see the Laurentii who was attempting to seize control. He saw him stood within the hourglass-like chamber, his hands and legs slowly being invaded by the station’s neural tendrils. The Laurentii’s body began to rise, lifted by Ispaoreai Hyps’rat into the position of commander of the station, what the Laurentii called a kruin.

As far as Ispaoreai Hyps’rat was concerned, though, this was not its commander or its kruin. This being was its own consciousness, a part of it that had been lost and had now been replaced. As if Kane had pulled out a handful of his own neurons and had filled the void with replicas.

The new kruin accepted the invasion, his body tensing with each penetration. Kane secured his will to Ispaoreai Hyps’rat’s own soul, temporarily freed from the attacks of the newcomer. Through his link, he sensed as the kruin used his newfound power to launch an attack on the renegade Behemoths. Kane tried to thwart the attack, but his own control over the space station faltered.

What are you?

The voice echoed across the Borg link, a whisper filtering through age-old defences.

Who are you?

The kruin had found some way of accessing the connection. Kane felt a shiver of fear run through the link.

You are not wanted here. You are not needed. Be gone.

And as quickly as that, the new kruin launched his assault. As the pain overwhelmed him, Kane felt Leyeta reach out towards him, her thoughts full of reclaimed love and hopeless despair.

My one…

USS Redemption

“What by the Prophets was that?”

Prin gripped the back of Barani’s chair as the sound of screams faded from the bridge. She could not be sure, but she would have sworn that she had heard more than one voice.

“Engineering? What was that?”

The moment of silence dragged. Prin was just about to demand an answer when the same voice, sounding shell shocked, spoke.

“This is Lieutenant Mithos, sir. Commander Kane and three other members of the engineering crew… They’re dead, sir. Some kind of feedback loop. It looks like their implants were destroyed instantly.”

Prin heard the words. In that awful moment of realisation, she relived years of friendship and regretted all those that had been torn from her. Kane. She allowed herself a brief – too brief – instant to grieve and, with an effort that threatened to tear her soul, moved past the pain.

Kane was dead, but the rest of the crew under her responsibility were not.

“Acknowledged, Lieutenant. Please take command down there until we get out of this. Bridge out.”

As she returned back to her chair, feeling the eyes of every member of the bridge crew following her every step, Prin could feel Redemption’s engine laboring away beneath her feet. Studying the tactical display, she lowered herself into the chair. A gap had opened up in the surrounding enemy Behemoths, an opening that had been carved out in blood.

“Orders, captain?”

Fighting back another pang, Prin bit back her initial reaction. “Take us out,” she said finally. “Follow the Behemoths and get us out of here.”
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Old May 28 2013, 11:29 PM   #230
Location: Lyon, France
Re: Star Trek: Restoration - Onyx

Chapter 28

Hornet Fighter

A communique from Redemption scrolled across her screen and Turner toggled her comm system on. “Starbursts, this is Lead. We’re pulling out. Repeat, we’re pulling out.”

Her remaining pilots acknowledged the order. Turner pulled her own fighter around, boosting her engines in order to close the widening gap between herself and Redemption. The battle had turned into a rout and most of the Hegemony forces seemed to be concentrating their fire on the fleeing Behemoths, leaving her people relatively free.

“Lead to squad, keep your eyes on sensors in case we get buzzed on the way out. Provide cover to Redemption as needed. If you see any of our allies in needs of assistance, run it by me first. Clear?”

A chorus of voices responded.

“Alright, check in.”

Turner mentally marked each of the surviving members of Starburst Squadron as they radioed in. By the end of it, she felt sick to her stomach. Four pilots. Only four pilots left. Then, as the last pilot called the all clear, Turner felt a jolt.

“Where’s Starburst Eight?”

Silence. Turner checked her screens again. Starburst Eight had been with them in the melee and she had not received any update to his situation that might indicate he had been shot down. Turner knew that his two wingmen, Ten and Twelve, had both been casualties, though.

“Did anyone see what happened to-“

A beep cut her off and her eyes flew back to her screens. A blue icon had appeared on the furthest edge, back towards Onyx Station. Turner was about to hail the lone fighter when Starburst Eight’s comm line broke through a haze of static. Turner could picture the young human male, his Asian features creased with fear.

“… danger. Repeat… I’m… trapped… side. Need assistance… This is… Eight. Please…”

The static rose to a crescendo and then the transmission was cut. Turner saw three green icons appear on Eight’s tail. More of the Hegemony tadpoles, coming after her man.

Dammit. He had got caught on the far side of the station and had missed the call to regroup. Turner could see at a glance that he wasn't going to make it. Not without help anyway.

“Two, you have command. Get them back to the ship.”

“Negative, Lead. This isn’t your job.”

Turner allowed herself a tight smile at Claf’s harsh voice over the comm. He had always been overprotective. “I’ll be fine, Two. I’ll buy Eight enough time to get clear and then I’ll be right on your tail. Get them out of here.”

“Lead that is a-“

“That’s an order, Two. Go.”

Before he could respond, Turner swung her fighter’s nose back around and kicked energy from her phaser banks to the engines. The inertial gravity struggled to keep up, pushing her back into the seat. She could see Eight now, a lone point of light surrounded by flashing green energy bolts. Come on, she urged the engines, almost rocking back and forth in the seat in an attempt to get the fighter to move faster. Come on.

The ship’s sensor suite issued a strident alarm, echoing with beeps and alert indicators as the fighter entered range of the enemy tadpoles. Sensor locks erupted across her board, red lights vanishing only as Turner veered the ship hard to starboard. Throwing the fighter up, she checked the sensor locks had disappeared before throwing herself back into the fray.

Closer to Eight, the comm static cleared enough for her to get through. She punched the command on her screen.

"Get your ass out of here, Eight. We've been called back to roost."

Eight - Airman Chaiyamo - responded. "Noted, Lead. Thanks for the assist."

Turner did not respond, kicking her fighter up and over an oncoming enemy fighter, phasers spitting red fire at another tadpole. The other fighter disintegrated, reduced to fiery pulp beneath her guns. Checking her sensors, she noted the icon representing Chaiyamo fleeing for Redemption. A single tadpole was on his tail. Turner jigged her stick and brought her fighter around. Risking a quick drain of her port shields, she raced forward until the tadpole came in range. Shunting power back, she toggled her weapons' control to quantum torpedoes. Centering the stick, she waited for the light to turn green before firing off a shot.

The torpedo lanced from behind the cockpit, lighting her screens in a blaze of white. Turner tracked it forward and watched as it punched through the tadpole's rear shielding, bursting into flame when it struck what passed for engines. The tadpole erupted into fire, flesh shriveling and expelling a flight-suited Laurentii into space.

"You're clear Eight, now-"

Turner cut off as her fighter jerked around her. She did not need to look at her screens to know that her speed had suddenly fallen off. What the-

Looking up through her cockpit, she saw the vast shadow of a Behemoth rapidly approaching her position. Glancing down at her screens, she saw the worse possible truth. The ship had her in a tractor beam.

"Coming back for you, Lead," Chaiyamo's voice burst through the comm system. On her sensor screen, she saw his fighter beginning to reduce speed as he brought his nose around.

"Negative," Turner snapped, her stomach dropping. "Do not come back here. There's nothing you can do."

"But Commander-"

"That is an order, Eight. Get the hell out of here or I'll shoot you myself." To emphasize the point, she activated the tracking system on her weapons and settled it over the fleeing starfighter.

There was a moment of hesitation and then she heard Chaiyamo's broken voice over the comm. "We'll be back for you, Lead. I promise."

"Give my regards to the captain," Turner replied.

A feeling of relief washed over her as her airman's fighter increased speed. She could see on the sensor screen that the nearest tadpoles were too far away to catch him. More, a cluster of friendly tadpoles were on their way back to provide him cover. Chaiyamo would get away.

Mission accomplished, she thought wryly.

Falling back in her seat, Turner took a moment to watch as the fleeing Laurentii forces, Redemption in amongst the giant Behemoth ships, reached the edge of the system and jumped into slipstream space. A handful of the enemy forces joined in pursuit, but it was a small enough number that Turner felt comfortable that it was nothing but a token force. Her people were away.

Time to pay the piper, she thought, as her ship began to shudder. The Behemoth was drawing her in. You better keep my people safe, Ba'el. Cause I won't be able to.

USS Redemption

“Slipstream velocity reached,” Barani announced from her position at Ops. “We're away.”

Prin felt more than heard the sigh of relief that raced around the bridge. She allowed herself a small smile before turning her attention back to the situation at hand.

“I want a damage report from all stations within the next ten minutes.” Remembering something, she added, “And someone get in touch with our support ships and let them know what has happened.”

The Benjamin Sisko, the Highland, the Tiberius and the Gorkon had all accompanied Laurentii forces to some outlying planets as part of a joint scientific and military taskforce. Prin had forgotten all about them in the chaos of the battle, but now she wondered whether they were safe or if the coup on Onyx Station had affected them as well. Prophets, don't let there be any more bad news.

She was half way to the Ops station when the turbolift door swished open. Prin turned in time to see Admiral Qwert stumble out, leaning heavily on his cane. His eyes met hers and she felt a surge of fear and despair.

"Admiral on the bridge," one of the security officers said.

"Admiral, where..."

"Are we clear?"

"We left the space around Onyx Station minutes ago, Admiral."

"Thank the Exchequer."

"Where are the others, Admiral?"

Qwert rubbed a hand over his left lobe. "Ambassador Benjamani is dead." He winced slightly as he said the words. Prin was surprised to feel a little stab of pain at the news. Benjamani might have been a manipulative shrew, but she was still a Federation citizen and duly appointed ambassador. Another person lost under her watch. "The remaining survivors are in sick bay."

Prin took a step towards him before she even realised it. "How is the Captain?"

Qwert's eyes opened wide. "I assumed you knew. He wasn't on the station with us."

"Lieutenant, drop us out of warp, raise shields and-"

"Belay that!"

Prin spun back to face the Ferengi, feeling her face suffused with blood. "We have to go back for him!"

"You have to get this ship to safety, Captain." She went to argue, but he raised a hand. "Captain Sarine must be considered be missing, if not dead. Our Laurentii allies informed me that a ship left the station moments before the battle broke out. They believe that Captain Sarine was on board. Going back to Onyx Station would serve no good purpose.”

Qwert took a step towards her. “That means you are in command of the Redemption until we find him. And the best way to do that is to liaise with what remains of our Laurentii allies. You know that your captain would not want you to send yourself, his ship and his crew back into the middle of a war zone on the off chance you might be able to locate him. Or do I need to remind you of the fire power that station has now that it is under that mad man's control?"

Before Prin could argue the point with him, Barani turned from her place at Ops. "Excuse me Commander, Lieutenant Vareen needs you down on Deck 9."

Prin rubbed a hand over her face. "Tell Vareen that whatever Lieutenant Dax has done she will just have to-"

"She is adamant that you need to go down there yourself, Commander. Doctor Malok is dead."

Prin felt as if the air had been pulled from her lungs. First Kane, then Benjamani, now Malok. What by the Prophets was happening on this ship? She felt Qwert's eyes on her. His words echoed in her ears. You know that your captain would not want you to send yourself, his ship and his crew back into the middle of a war zone. Damn the big-eared Ferengi, but he was right. Ba'el would tell her to suck it up, get on with the mission and do her damned job. And at the moment, her job meant getting Redemption to safety and sorting out the mess down on the lower decks.

"Tell Vareen I'm on my way."

As she stepped into the turbolift, Prin saw Qwert looking at her, frowning. She held his gaze until the doors closed, cutting off his intense scrutiny. Only then did she squeeze her eyes shut, trying to ignore the intense pain that flared in her gut. Ba’el. She couldn’t believe he was dead.

No. There was no body. No one knew what had happened to him. Until someone gave her some proof, she refused to believe he was dead.

Ba’el Sarine was out there somewhere. And with the Prophets as her witness, she was going to find him.

So ends Volume III Onyx
This arc of Star Trek Restoration concludes with Star Trek Restoration Volume IV Darkness
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