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Old October 17 2012, 09:52 PM   #61
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Thanks for reading and commenting. Sorry for the wait everyone, but I'm still experiencing some computer problems.
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Old November 5 2012, 12:14 AM   #62
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Hey everyone,

This is a short section, but a hopeful sign that I will be able to finish this story.

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

Rim of the Calderan Corridor

Fear paused at the gaping, coruscating mouth of great pathway, roiled by momentary doubt. It could be that some caravan was inside of the space tunnel at this very moment, pulling pulled inexorably to what they might feel is a new life.

The device resting within Fear’s folds would destroy them as it collapsed the corridor. He could be the cause of thousands, millions, of deaths. As much as he hated outsiders, as much as he wanted to keep Caldera pure, Fear was not sanguine about the prospect of what he was about to do, now that the moment had come upon him.

The act would brand the Calderans pariahs on a galactic scale, destroyers of one of the great wonders of space. It would be isolated, but of such a reviled sort that the name of his kind would be sullied perhaps for eternity.

Swarms of doubt scuttled across his mind as he gazed into the maw. His form began to waver as he wrestled with the decision, ashamed that his resolve was weakening. But it was one thing to destroy actual interlopers, quite another to slaughter innocent refugees.

Uncharacteristically he laughed, a harsh, scraping sound even to his own auditory senses. It was as if a tiny Hope had manifested inside his head with all of these doubts. There could be innocent refugees inside the corridor, but there could also be invasive species, like the Borg. And for those ‘innocents’ how long might it take them before they had designs on Calderan space? Or brought more quadrant powers to Caldera’s door in an effort to help or fight them?

If there were any species inside the corridor they were well aware of the risks of space travel. He pulled his form away from the device, grabbing it before it drifted into space. With metallic fingers he activated it and threw it into the gigantic gullet before him.
************************************************** **************

Shuttlecraft Oyekan

“Great Bird!” Ensign Kittles’s gasped, her eyes widening at the spike in polaric radiation. The disruption had occurred in the opposite direction of her trail, but her gut was telling her that it was tied to the bastards that had killed Roland.

Biting back miniscule doubts, she whipped the shuttle around.
************************************************** ***************
Jov’k Tholis
Calcite-class battlecruiser
Caldera Expanse

“It’s started,” Narskene muttered, as the crystalline bulkheads flashed an variety of colors as ship’s sensors detected the polaric radiation pulse. “We don’t have much time!” he snapped at his pilot. “Get us to the cause of that disturbance at once!”
************************************************** **************
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Old November 11 2012, 11:55 PM   #63
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

USS Erickson
Main Bridge

Captain Redfeather swept onto the bridge from her ready room. She glanced at the main viewer before turning to her first officer. Commander Donar was already out of his seat. The large man had a grim expression on his face.

“Status report Mr. Donar,” she curtly requested, standing in front of her seat. The larger Angosian hovered over his.

“Sensors have detected a massive increase in polaric ion radiation,” he said, turning slightly in the direction of the science console on the upper deck of the bridge. Lt. Jilicia rattled off the location. The Boslic woman took a quick breath before adding, “Scans are also detecting the emergence of several subspace ruptures emanating near the Calderan Corridor.”

The captain’s stomach tightened. She knew there could have only been one thing that would cause such a massive spike in polaric ions or those spatial ruptures. She eyed her XO. The man’s lips drew into a thin line, and his dark eyes alit like burning coals.

She nodded at him, reluctant soldier to bred one. And then she turned around to gaze at the starscape streaking past them. Out there somewhere, beyond the stars, was the polaric ion regulator and a hell that it had just created. And they were galloping headlong into it.

“Do we know the status of the corridor?” She asked. The Boslic looked down at her console before answering, her features screwed in displeasure. It was all the answer she needed to know.

But the dutiful young woman answered anyway, “No sir. There is just too much radiation, the polaric ions in addition to the normal radiation stew to get definite readings.”

“Alter our course,” Redfeather ordered the Aurelian flight controller. For once, she glad it wasn’t Tim at the helm. He would surely have tried to leaven the moment with a joke, and the serious import of what was about to happen didn’t need any inadequate attempts at levity. The gravity of it needed to be appreciated and the calm of the storm needed to be reverential. Because soon everything, and everyone aboard Erickson would change, and Wyoma couldn’t promise for the better.

“Red alert,” she added, “and modulate our shields to account for intense polaric ion radiation.”

The captain took her chair. Commander Donar sat down seconds afterward. She leaned over to him and lowered her voice. “Do you think the corridor was damaged?”

“Impossible to say,” He quietly replied, “However with the polaric ion eruption being so close to it, as well as the ruptures…”

The captain wistfully shook her head, “One of the great galactic wonders, possibly destroyed, an avenue of exploration perhaps closed forever.” She paused, her gaze and tone becoming mournful, “and if the Calderan Corridor itself couldn’t withstand…”

She didn’t finish, but she could tell that Donar got her meaning. She was a bit taken aback that his expression didn’t become sorrowful, but predatory. He replied to her with soft, harrowing, lethality, “If such a tragic fate has befallen our crew, I promise you that an accounting will be made for it.”

Redfeather merely nodded uncomfortably and sat back in her seat. There was much to do before they reached the center of the disturbance, and it all needed her full attention. However her worries about the radiation and ruptures were now joined by her fresh concerns about the man sitting beside her.
************************************************** ******************
Rim of the Calderan Corridor

Fear hung transfixed by the beautiful destruction. The regulator had fractured the corridor, spreading coursing orange ruptures like fiery spider webs through space, chasing the shockwave that roared in all directions. Fear had assumed the guise of the Romulan Bird-of-Prey he had helped destroy a century ago. He felt it appropriate.

Even though he was eager to return to Caldera, to be lauded as a patriot for closing the corridor and keeping the Great Tide pure from contaminants, he couldn’t take his sensory organs away from the device. Its crystalline shell floated unscathed in the midst of the devastation.

He was half tempted to retrieve it, once it was safe to do so. A weapon of such power would be of great value to his people…but also to others.

Fear decided against it. What he had done here was cut off Calderan space to interlopers and potential settlers. If the Alpha and Beta Quadrant powers were foolish enough to attempt to claim the device, let them fight amongst themselves to do so; if anything they would bypass the Calderans.

Satisfied with his logic, Fear arced around slowly, gathering his power to return home and to immortality.
************************************************** ******************

The Burning Claw
Command Deck

Captain Deoch dug into his armrests as the ship came roughly out of warp. The entire framework of the bridge shuddered as a structural integrity alarm went off.

Normally that would concern him, but his eyes narrowed instead on the sight before him. “A Romulan warship?” Nadeen asked, disbelieving, “and old one at that.” Splayed across the viewer was an old style, silvered warship, with two nacelles jutting from its saucer primary hull like wings, hence its namesake. The old bird seemed to roost over the hell surrounding it, riding the waves just before catastrophe. Well, it appeared that the Romulans’ luck had just run out.

“But still dangerous,” Deoch hissed, “Power weapons.”

“Why would the Romulans be here?” First Mate Gedrik asked. “And why would they be in such an ancient ship?”

“What does it matter?” Deoch barked, “Where there is one Romulan there are bound to be more. We must stop them from contacting compatriots.” He jutted his chin in the direction of the operations console, “Gotash,” he called on the slender female Venturi occupying the station, “Jam their communications.”

She moved to do so, frowning seconds later. “They aren’t attempting to send any messages…in fact, I’m not getting any readings that the ship possesses communicative capability.”

“I’m also getting anomalous readings,” Nadeen replied. “This is a most unusual vessel.”

“I…recommend we hail them,” Gedrik said, “And find out what they are doing here?”

Deoch pounded his armrests. He didn’t like being second guessed. “And give the Romulans time to attack us, or even worse, slip away and alert a bigger ship or a group of them?” He shook his thick head, “Nadeen, aim our weapons at the vessel and fire at my command!” The large Capellan grunted but complied.

“Ship is turning!” Plask, at engineering, gasped, stating the obvious as usual.
“What’s the status of their weapons? Shields?!” Deoch asked, doing his best to tamp down his fear. Even if the Bird-of-Prey was over a century old, who knew what kind of tricks the Romulans had up their sleeves. And he really didn’t want to find out.

Before Nadeen could answer his questions, he jabbed a finger at the screen, “Fire! Fire! Fire!”
************************************************** **********
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Old November 14 2012, 03:46 AM   #64
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

Shuttlecraft Oyekan

As a reflex, Ensign Kittles threw a hand over her eyes. The bright flash dissipated by the tint on the forward shuttlecraft window, but it still left spots in Karen’s eyes. She tried to blink them away rapidly as she brought the tiny vessel’s shields up.

Oyekan had come out of warp to the unexpected sight of a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, an old one that had been around in her grandmother’s day and a low slung, lethal vessel moving in on it. And then, seconds later, space had become ablaze, and now only the menacing ship remained.

Sensors detected that the ship had locked weapons on her. Kittles knew in her gut that hailing them would be a waste of time, and she also was certain that this ship was responsible for murdering her colleagues.

Part of her wanted to run, but she knew her colleagues deserved more than that. Ronald deserved more than that. Karen set her jaw and poured all power into her engines. Biting her lip, pushing down her fear, the ensign engaged warp drive. She would get them, before they got her.
************************************************** ***************

The Burning Claw
Command Deck

Deoch nearly jumped out of his seat. He was dumbfounded. “Wha-what is that madman doing?” He hadn’t even had a second to savor the destruction of the Romulan warship before more prey showed up. But this time, the Venturi didn’t know which would be prey or predator.

“It looks like they intend to ram us,” Nadeen calmly replied, a hint of admiration in her voice.

“Evasive maneuvers!” He hissed, restraining himself from bounding out of his seat to the helm. He blinked furiously as he watched the smaller craft getting larger in the main viewer. Gasps and hisses filled the suddenly claustrophobic room.

“The shuttle’s impulse engines have just been activated,” Nadeen replied, still calm, “It’s at full impulse now.”

Deoch’s heart thudded in his chest as Krendt pounded furiously at his control panel. The ship creaked with the strain as he attempted to move out of the way. Burning Claw’s struts howled in protest, but the ship lifted just above the barreling shuttle.

The sigh of relief had just left his chest, on the way to his lips, when the ship shuddered so violently that it nearly pitched him from his seat. The bridge filled with a horrific screech that made him clamp his hands over his ears. He shivered, as if feeling the skin of his beloved ship being shorn off. Lights blinked maddeningly as the deck plates trembled and klaxons joined the cacophony. Aft consoles sparked with smoke and fire, prompting quick thinking personnel to grab fire extinguishers hanging from the walls. Within seconds the calamity was over.

“What happened?” He asked, choking on the thin film of acrid smoke now permeating the bridge, “Where’s that shuttle?” Deoch wiped tears from his eyes as he waited for a response. He was hoping that its foolhardy pilot hadn’t gotten himself killed because the captain dearly wanted to shred that space scow.

Gedrik looked up from the hood of his console, his eyes brimming with tears. He sniffled, before answering, “The shuttle…is gone.”

“Status,” Deoch barked, standing up. He wiped snot from his nose. “How bad did it hit us?”

“The initial reports are not good,” the first mate said after looking down again.

“How bad?” Deoch clenched his fists as he stomped over to his second’s station. He really had the need to throttle something, or someone right now. Sensing his mood, Gedrik took a step back before answering.

“We avoided a head-on collision but the shuttle accelerated before we could bypass it completely.”

“That much is obvious!” The captain shrugged his broad shoulders before sweeping an arm around the room. His temperature began to rise as he looked at the blackened, burned out terminals. It would cost a lot of credits to replace them, and he shuddered to think about additional repairs.

“The collision took out part of our nacelle ring, we’ve lost warp power as a result,” he answered, his voice cracking. “Impulse engines are also offline.” Deoch flexed his shoulders, trying to hold on to his calm.

“How long for warp?” The idea of being stuck in this maelstrom, not to mention the regular dangers of the chaotic expanse, twisted a knot into his stomach.

Gedrik shook his head, “Engineering says they will not be able to restore them. Serious repairs are needed and they don’t have the tools onboard to do it.”

“Engineering?” The captain sneered, “Patch me through to Grebinold,” he demanded, “I have no time for his obfuscations!” Though the Pakled engineer was one of the best Deoch had ever hired, as typical with his kind, he his childlike speech and behavior masked a deceitful, cunning mind.

The first mate swallowed hard enough for Deoch to hear it. “Grebinold is dead.” He said.

“Well, who in the Five Hells is down there running the show?” Fear bubbled just under the cauldron. Grebinold understood the ship’s cantankerous propulsion system thoroughly.

“What about the Zibalian?” He asked, hoping that Grebinold’s assistant was still alive. He had bought the boy on after finally acceding to Grebinold’s demand for more skilled expertise than the brutes doing the dirty work he required.

“Yes,” Gedrik replied, breathing easier. Deoch’s hand swung out, ripping into the man’s too forgiving pebbled skin, his claws tearing easily through his cheek. Their soft skin was another sign of Horned weakness.

Clutching his cheek, blood seeping through his fingers and running down his arm, Gedrik stifled a cry, but his eyes blazed anew with old resentments. He saw the man’s eyes flick to the disruptor hanging from his holster. The captain smiled, daring him to.

“Do you know what that was for?” Deoch asked, wiping his blood stained hand across the chest of his tunic. The first mate wisely didn’t reply. “Don’t think you can breathe easy around me, not when this ship is in shambles.”

Gedrik bit down a retort. Deoch wished the first officer had the guts to speak his mind, because he really wanted to let loose. “Stay on the Zibalian like I will on you if you don’t get impulse back online as quickly as possible.”

“But captain,” the first mate gingerly ventured, “what about the polaric ion device? Readings indicate that it is nearby.”

“This vessel was nearly cleaved in two by some psycho and all you care about is that damned regulator?!” Deoch fumed, holding up his bloodstained hand, his razor claws protruding. Gedrik shrank back. “Your first duty is to me, to this ship! Do your duty, and then we’ll see about your littler regulator. For all this trouble you’ve put me through, that regulator better earn its weight in latinum!”

“But…I thought we were going back home?” Gedrik said, his face falling along with his faltering voice.

Deoch laughed, a discordant, grating sound even to his own ears. “Nobility has its place and all, but it doesn’t pay for new nacelles or whatever else we’ve lost. You can run your studies on it, see if you can replicate it, I don’t care, but I’m selling that piece of trouble to whoever can cover our expenses.” Done with the absurd scientist, the captain turned his back on him.

Deoch stepped away, to check the rest of the ship, when Gedrik’s voice pulled him back around.

“Captain?” He called, after clearing his throat. Deoch snorted as he turned.

“What is it now?!”

“You’ve been relieved,” Gedrik said, clutching his disruptor in his shaking hand. Deoch looked at the barrel of the weapon and then up into his eyes. Their color had changed, as had their intent. He had survived enough duels and brawls to recognize that look anywhere.

“So, you’re finally one of us now,” he chuckled before lunging. Gedrik pulled the trigger.
************************************************** *****************
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Old November 14 2012, 05:31 PM   #65
Gibraltar
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Location: US Pacific Northwest
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Gah, so many questions! Is Kittles dead, or did she somehow survive the suicidal collision?

And I’m glad to see the Burning Claw’s first officer stand up for himself, finally, though it’s likely to become his last decision.

Wonderful stuff, keep it coming!
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Old November 18 2012, 02:14 PM   #66
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

So the power play is on. Considering how cruel Gedrik treated their prisoners, I'm not so sure if a change of guard will bring any improvement.

And oh yeah, I too want to know what happened outside? The fake warbird isn't just destroyed, is it? And what about Kittles daring maneuver? Answers need to be had.
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Old November 19 2012, 01:48 AM   #67
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Thanks guys for reading and commenting again.

Gibraltar, I'm glad you enjoyed Gedrik standing up for himself. Deoch had been bullying him since the beginning of the story so it was good for him to get his comeuppance. Now we'll see how long Gedrik lasts without Deoch's protection.

CeeJay, in response to your comments, and to somewhat answer my own reply to Gibraltar, Gedrik does have a mean streak and he is fanatically committed to saving his homeworld. But the question remains will that be enough.

I'm finally hitting the homestretch here and I hope you enjoy what I have left in store.

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

Shuttlecraft Oyekan

Was the universe spinning or was it just her head, Ensign Kittles wondered as she blinked rapidly and swallowed just as furiously to keep her gorge from escaping her lips. Soiling herself was the last thing she needed right now.

Chancing vertigo, she opened her eyes and peered out of the front window. The galaxy was spinning, the shuttle was out of control. She breathed a sigh that Oyekan was still in one piece before her fingers flew over her terminal, desperately trying to right the ship. The young woman was grateful that her seatbelt was keeping her from being slammed all around the shuttle’s environs.

Karen glued her eyes to the console, her mind racing, her heart thundering, as she scoured the status of the vessel’s systems. It wasn’t looking good. Structural integrity was almost shot, shields were nearly gone, the ship was venting plasma, warp engines were offline, but the warp core was on the verge of breaching. Behind her she could see cosmic tendrils from the sheared ceiling. Only the thin, fading bubble of the shields were keeping atmosphere inside the cockpit.

“I’ve got to right this ship,” she muttered, not caring that she was talking to herself. She would rather hear her own voice than the shrieking of klaxons or the rending of alloys as the integrity field failed and Oyekan folded in on itself.

“What a way to go,” she sighed, crushed inside a can like a sardine. “I’m so sorry Roland,” she shook her head, tears sprouting from her eyes. “I tried,” she blubbered, “I-I really did.” She had almost gotten revenge for Ensign Fryer’s death, she had almost died with dignity. But the pirate vessel shot upwards at the last minute. Unable to stop the shuttle from spinning, Karen devoted some of the ship’s dwindling power to a wide sweep for the marauder vessel.

She hoped that she had clipped something vital at least. “Damn,” she spat, as the scans revealed that the ship was still intact. She quickly did another scan to ascertain its status and was at least pleased to know that she had damaged it enough that it wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

“Maybe I can still make amends,” she thought, inputting the location of the enemy ship into a communications buoy. Kittles grunted with some satisfaction after ejecting it. Perhaps Erickson could finish the job she started.

Her moment of relief was short-lived. Seconds after the buoy plunged into space, a new alarm joined the chorus. The structural integrity field had collapsed.

Karen shrugged, surprising herself at her calm. It was over, truly over, and she hadn’t done nearly any of the things she had wanted to do, she would never sit in the captain’s chair, she would never make first contact with an alien species, she would never become a Starfleet legend. And she would never fall in love or raise a family.

“I tried,” she said, her stoicism starting to crumble, “Damn it I tried.” Another alarm sounded: the shields were gone.

With admirable serenity, Kittles unbuckled her seatbelt, and let icy fingers pull her into their cold cosmic embrace.
************************************************** **************

The Burning Claw
Command Deck

On unsteady legs, Gedrik stepped from away his console. He felt the eyes of the crew on him, the air heavy with expectation. The horned Venturi struggled to meet their gazes. He continued to be drawn to the dark patch where Deoch had just stood, had just been alive, minutes earlier. The man’s anguished screams would echo in his ears forever, as would the horrific sight of the watching him writhe briefly before the beam dissolved him. Later perhaps his scientific mind would look at the event with dispassion, but at the moment his emotions were too raw.

Realizing he was still aiming the disruptor, now at empty air, the former first mate placed it at his side. He didn’t want to put it back in the holster because he might need to wield it again soon. He inhaled, taking in the thick smell of ozone and a whiff of fried flesh. Coughing, Gedrik stepped over to the captain’s vacant chair.

He was hoping that no one else could hear his heart thudding against his chest. It pounded so fiercely that it thought it would rip free from his ribcage. With dark humor, the image reminded him that there were doubtless others among the crew that would gladly do the honors. The scientist stood in front of Deoch’s chair, unwilling to claim it just yet. He had to establish his authority clearly first.

Gedrik pinned his stare on the most likely candidate. “Nadeen,” he injected as much authority in his voice as he could muster. “I want you to rouse the prisoners. Bring the Arkenite to me and then I want you and the Kaylar to retrieve the device.”

All eyes shifted to the hulking Capellan. The dark-skinned woman glared at him. Gedrik’s trigger finger twitched. He wasn’t sure he would be fast enough to get off the first shot; even if she didn’t have a pistol within easy reach, she was lethally fast and accurate with the kligats adorning her belt.

Time stretched into infinity. It started to weigh on Gedrik’s shoulders like boulders. He would have to force a response soon if she didn’t obey. The longer he allowed the silence the deeper, the greater the level of disrespect and insubordination he could expect from the rest of the crew. “Well,” he finally asked. He had been able to hold the woman’s gaze, knowing if he failed to do so he would have no chance to survive the next few seconds, not even contemplating returning to his homeworld as its savior.

The woman silently shrugged and turned toward the bridge’s exit. For the briefest of moments the new captain thought about shooting her in the back. But even among thieves there had to be some honor.

Besides he had just won a victory here, his biggest threat had acceded to his wishes, the mighty, fearsome Capellan had obeyed him. Perhaps… He looked at one of the unadorned Venturi standing idle at a ruined console. “Assist Nadeen,” he commanded, “make sure she cares out my orders explicitly.” The man jumped to attention, nodding as he rushed to catch up with the Capellan.

Gedrik eyed the bridge personnel once more, as if daring them to challenge him. Many broke their gazes, looking down or finding something suddenly interesting on their consoles, even the broken ones. He smirked, the rush of power flowing through his veins like fresh oxygen. So this is what Deoch felt, Gedrik wondered.

But still there was one more threat. He lifted up in his chair and pinned the Dopterian at the communications terminal. There was no need for anyone to man that post. Who were they going to call for help? “I want you to go to Deoch’s quarters, and bring Mavaar here, to me.”

“Aye sir,” the Dopterian replied with an appropriate level of obsequiousness. He scampered from the bridge. Finally Gedrik leaned back in his chair, squeezing the armrests and breathing easier. Soon the device would be his and he would make history.

After that he would gladly give the ship to any of the vultures strong enough to possess it, but not before. First he had to consummate his date with destiny.
************************************************** *************
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Old November 23 2012, 12:36 AM   #68
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

************************************************** ****************
Outside The Burning Claw

Lt. Shashlik wanted to break from the tether that yoked her to the accursed pirate ship, and use the cord to choke the woman floating beside her. She had been holding back her rage, quietly stoking the fires within. Only Ramlo being held hostage by the brigands aboard stayed her hand, as it had since they had first been accosted, but the Kaylar didn’t know how much longer even her concern for her friend could still her warrior’s blood.

“I know what you’re thinking,” the Capellan’s voice sounded smug, even though the helmet’s tiny receiver. “I can see your body twitching, your muscles tensing, you want to strike at me, and you want to kill us all.”

Shashlik said nothing; instead she kept her eyes on the device drifting before them. Even though the device was roughly the size of a photon torpedo, yet far more crystalline in appearance, she found it hard to believe that it contained the kind of power Gedrik gushed about. But she had no reason to doubt it, far too many people had died because of it, and Shashlik knew that she couldn’t let a weapon fall into the hands of outlaws.

The Capellan, Nadeen, chuckled. The harsh sound made Shashlik wince. “I know, I know,” she said, “You’re a warrior like me. And to do the bidding of one such as Gedrik…” She slid beside her, “It curdles the blood. I promise you though that when this is over, I will give you the warrior’s death you deserve.”

“Should I be grateful for your promise?” Shashlik couldn’t help but scoff.

“No, just prepared,” Nadeen replied, before roughly pushing off Shashlik’s shoulder. The Kaylar fell back while Nadeen shot forward. She reversed the thrust on the ill-fitting space suit to stop her descent. The Capellan grabbed the tip of the regulator, to stop her forward momentum. Shashlik reached her moments later. She didn’t hide her glower. Nadeen laughed. “Oh, our battle will be one for the ages,” she declared.

“You can count on it,” Shashlik promised.
************************************************** *************

The Burning Claw
Command Deck

This was going far easier than Gedrik had anticipated. “I told him all along, that the honest profit that could be made from becoming heroes would be far more than what we could get from the Orions, Valerians, or other scum,” Mavaar said smoothly, the picture of sincerity.

If Gedrik had any sense he would knew it would be best to unload another disruptor bolt right into the center of her gentle forehead ridges. But the woman offered no challenges to him, her words might even convince the still skeptical among them. Plus she practically was prostrating before him, the zipper of her skintight violet tunic parted just so tantalizingly.

And it had been so lonely since his wife…Gedrik cleared his throat, as well as thoughts of his beloved Berae. He stood up, to better look down at the supplicating Nuvian. “As always you speak with wisdom Mavaar,” he said charitably, “and I look forward to you…serving me…as ably as you did the previous ship’s master.” If he could afford her, he did intend to keep Mavaar with him. He didn’t care about the rest, though he said loudly, “Continue to do your duties as you have before and I promise we will all continue to reap profit, in fact, more profits than you could dare dream to imagine!”

Not known for being a boaster, his words dissipated the fog that had enveloped over the bridge in the wake of Deoch’s demise. The crew went back to repairing damaged stations with renewed vigor.

“Mavaar,” Gedrik said, with a shot of new confidence himself, “Move your things to my quarters, and I will be there when I can.”

She gave a curt bow, making sure her cleavage was prominently displayed, “Of course my captain.”

Satisfied, he sat back down and swung his head opposite of the departing Nuvian. A morose Lt. Ramlo stood beside him, his anxiety evident. His iris less green eyes were glued to the main viewer. Before them both Nadeen and the Kaylar clung to Gedrik’s glittering jewel. The horned Venturi smiled, hoping it would reassure the man, but certain that it wouldn’t.

Pleased that at least the grapplers still worked, Gedrik ordered, “Haul them in.” His stomach fluttered as the device was slowly reeled back in. Unable to sit still, or bear his excitement, Gedrik leaped from his seat. “We have to go down to the cargo hold, to see it with our own eyes,” he said, grabbing Ramlo’s arm and pulling him forward.

The Arkenite’s boots remained planted on the deck. Gedrik gave another encouraging tug, and then a frustrated snort. Whipping around to glare at the recalcitrant fellow scientist, he made certain the man saw him reaching for his disruptor. Still unmoved, Ramlo matched his stare.

Gedrik didn’t need this test of wills, not after he had just scored a major psychological victory with Mavaar. The Arkenite needed to be reminded of his place. “You will accompany me to the cargo bay now.”

“Or what?” Ramlo asked, disdain reeking from his pores. “You aren’t going to vaporize me like you did Deoch, you need me.” After the Starfleet officer’s brazen admission, Gedrik realized his mistake. He had been too kind to the Arkenite, he had treated him too much as an equal, and that simply wouldn’t do on a buccaneer ship. There had to be one law, one voice of authority, and it must never be questioned.

“I do need you,” Gedrik admitted, “but not in one piece.”

“What?” Ramlo blanched, a terrible recognition dawning in his verdant eyes. He took a step back. Gedrik advanced on him, issuing orders.

Ramlo looked around him, realizing he was cornered. Two colossal Venturi were closing in on him. “Vorvi, Nolun,” Gedrik said softly, smiling all the way in spite of himself, “Grab the good scientist by the arms, and one of you, hand me a knife.”
************************************************** **************
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Old November 25 2012, 08:19 PM   #69
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Sorry to see Kittles go out like that (if in fact, she's really gone out). She wasn't the smartest officer around but the girl had moxie.

And it appears the suffering is not yet over for those unlucky enough to have gotten themselves prisoner. About time somebody put together some sort of rescue mission before there's nobody left to rescue.
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Old November 25 2012, 11:00 PM   #70
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Always good to hear your comments CeJay. Yeah, Kittles did have heart, but she was a bit too overambitious. As for our prisoners, the suffering has just begun.


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

USS Erickson
Captain’s Ready Room
Lt. Commander Norrbom barreled into the captain’s office. She pulled up right before ramming Wyoma’s desk. Breathing heavily, her voice ragged, her bangs askew, the red-faced woman said, “Captain, you’re going to want to hear this!”
************************************************** ******************

USS Erickson
Main Bridge

Captain Redfeather stood behind Norrbom, looking over her shoulder. One hand was behind her back, the other tapped her chin as she listened to the message again. A tense Commander Donar stood to the side. Wyoma still couldn’t believe it. Ensign Kittles was still alive, or at least she had been long enough to give them exactly what they needed, the location of the bastards who had started all this trouble.

Wyoma knew in her marrow that apprehending them would get her one step closer to securing the regulator.

She turned slightly, regarding the big Angosian. He nodded tersely, the lines etched into his face deepening. Without even being told, he ordered the helm to alter course. Wyoma nodded with satisfaction before squeezing Norrbom’s shoulder. “Good work Helen.” She faced the main viewer, her breath catching as the stars started to streak by. Beyond the dashes of starlight was a gathering storm of chaotic space, made more so by the release of the polaric ion energy. “Mr. French, make sure not to drive us into one of those spatial ruptures will you.”

“Do my best ma’am,” he swiveled around, to grace her with one of his devilish grins.

“Eyes forward Mr. French,” Lt. Jilicia said, stealing the words from the captain’s mouth. The helmsman looked wounded, for all of a second, before his smile broke through again. But he did turn back around to face his console. The captain looked, with some surprise, at the usually quiet Boslic. The woman blushed, her cheeks a slight shade of purple.

“Lt. Jilicia, I couldn’t have said it better myself,” she remarked, punctuating the statement with a laugh.
************************************************** *************

The Burning Claw
Cargo Bay

The bay doors closed with a loud clang. Shashlik felt eyes on her back, and she was certain disruptors were aimed there too. Fighting her instincts, she didn’t turn around. She detached the seal of her helmet instead, gulping in the cold, fresh air. “Don’t make another move,” Gedrik commanded.

Shashlik bit back a retort. She couldn’t wait to have her hands around his head. She would crush it like a melon. Beside her she saw Nadeen flinch. “What did you do?” The woman asked.

Ignoring his warning, the Kaylar turned around. The surprise, and reproach, in the other woman’s voice drew her like a magnet.

“No,” she snarled; anguish robbing her speech, as she saw Ramlo, being propped up by two burly pink-skinned Venturi. Her eyes scoured every inch of him, his rubber legs, his pallid complexion, the dull green of his eyes, before alighting on what had prompted Nadeen’s question. His left hand was missing. It it’s place a mauled stump, being attended to by a scowling Tandaran medic.

Reading her expression, Gedrik waved his disruptor. “Don’t worry Kaylar, our good scientist will recover. He just had to be taught a lesson. Now that it has been learned, we can…”

The roar that ripped from Shashlik’s lips even frightened her. But it didn’t slow her down. Despite the weight and bulkiness of the suit, she charged the still talking gray Venturi. She threw herself at him.

The man stopped with a start, blinking profusely as realization dawned. He aimed his gun at her, but for him it was too late. Leading with a shoulder, she crashed into him, pleased to hear the satisfying crunch of bone and the wet sound of emerging blood. Her hands wrapped around the man’s spindly throat while she straddled him.

Shashlik began pounding his head onto the deck plate. Unable to get a shot on her, he feebly began hitting her shoulders and then the back of her head with the all but useless disruptor.

His blows lessened in severity and then frequency, his body began to go limp. Though Shashlik could puncture his throat with her gloved fingers, the Kaylar had another idea in mind. Seizing both sides of his head, she began to squeeze, prompting another round of wheezing gasping cries from the man.

Shashlik felt the bone starting to give way and she threw her head back in triumph, finally pleased to release her pent up rage. She heard the whistle and barely caught the blur as it descended down at her, neatly removing her head from the rest of her body.

There was a sting of pain and then the world swirled around her, as blood and life sprayed from her severed neck. And then she bounced against the deck. Before the darkness smothered her, Shashlik saw a grim Nadeen standing above, a circular, bladed weapon in one hand. It dripped her blood, her life.

She tried to reach out, but her hands wouldn’t respond. She tried to speak, to call Ramlo’s name. But there was no answer. She tried again, but her lips wouldn’t work, her lips had gone numb, her tongue swollen. She closed her eyes, to concentrate on making her lips move again, to let Ramlo know that she was his last thought. Shashlik never opened her eyes again.
************************************************** *************
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Old November 29 2012, 03:30 AM   #71
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

USS Erickson
Captain’s Ready Room

“Enter,” Captain Redfeather said, not bothering to look up. Hands clasped in front of her, Wyoma’s attention was riveted to Ensign Kittles’s message playing on her desktop computer. She shook her head, pained at every strain of desperation and fear she heard in the woman’s voice. And beneath that was an expectant, clinging desire for revenge.

Wyoma knew in her gut that the woman was dead, that she was lost to them, but perhaps more tragically, by the anguish in Karen’s voice, she had been lost long before her physical demise. Too many good people, her people had died already. And she knew that more would likely perish when they found the marauder vessel. Those deaths would be on top of the innumerable refugees already slaughtered.

The true immensity of that genocide would never be known since they had scuttled the remains of the ship, on Sullivan’s orders. Redfeather rubbed her aching eyes; they felt dry, grainy, as did her mouth. Her shoulders slumped with the burdens of command. She hadn’t faced this much death since the Dominion War ended. When Wyoma had first heard that the Founder had surrendered, she had hoped, foolishly perhaps, that it would usher in a new era of peace, but the Alshain, Talarians, Son’a, Cardassian extremists, and too many other belligerents had already burned that dream into ash.

If she couldn’t save the galaxy, Wyoma resolved to do her best to protect the people in her charge to the best of her ability. To that end, she finally glanced up. “Helen,” she said, punctuating it with a curt nod.

Concern was evident on Lt. Commander Norrbom’s face. “Captain,” she ventured. Redfeather held up a hand, and Helen stopped talking.

“Kittles is gone,” Redfeather said, disappointed at how detached she sounded.

“You don’t know that for certain Captain,” Helen couldn’t keep herself from interjecting.

“Call it captain’s intuition,” Redfeather glumly replied, briefly touching her stomach, and wishing she could untie its knotting entrails. Enduring the discomfort, the captain replied. “Just like I feel that some of our crew might still be alive. I want them back, still alive.”

“Of course Captain,” Helen said, a determined cast to her expression. “We’ll do all we can to get them back.”

“I know,” Redfeather replied, with a scant, humorless smile, “and that’s why I want you to accompany Commander Donar on the rescue mission…if one is required.”

“But I thought Donar had a hand-picked team,” the operations officer looked at her askance.

“He does,” the captain nodded, “but even though they are the best we got, doesn’t mean they couldn’t use someone with your skills.”

“You don’t trust Donar yet, is that it?” Norrbom asked. The knots tightened so suddenly in Wyoma’s stomach that she almost doubled over. The captain grimaced. She couldn’t lie to her old friend, but she didn’t want to admit the truth.

Helen was more than happy to fill in the blanks. “You’re still not sure of his priorities, if he will become consumed in fighting the abductors and not ensure our peoples’ safety first.”

More than a little irritated that Helen read her so well, and a whole lot more ashamed that she entertained such feelings, the captain tersely nodded in affirmation.

“Of course I’ll do it,” Norrbom answered, “I don’t think he’s going to like me tagging along though,” she paused, and a mischievous smile spread across her lips.

“Helen,” the captain reproached, frowning. “I thought you two had buried the hatchet.” The operations officer shrugged.

“It’s a work in progress,” she admitted. Wyoma sighed.

“Just get our people back, alright?” The captain wearily asked, the weight on her shoulders now about to knock her to the desk.

“We’ll get them back, sir,” Norrbom said, the mischief in her voice now replaced by steel. “And if anything has happened to them, the ones who did it are going to get it paid back twice.”

“Helen, I want you to accompany Commander Donar to be a check on him if his emotions get out of hand,” she finally admitted. The confession didn’t bring her the relief she hoped for. “Do I need to send someone to watch after you?”

“No Captain,” Norrbom stood at attention, “I won’t do anything that will jeopardize our captured personnel.”

“See that you don’t,” Redfeather snapped, harsher than she had intended to be. “Now, I think you have a meeting to crash.”
************************************************** *********
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Old December 1 2012, 02:10 PM   #72
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

The scene where Shashlik loses her head was just freaky. Also a bit disturbing as I really wanted her to get a chance to kill Nadeen. Well, life is full of disappointments, I guess.

Interesting choice for Redfeather to get Norrrbom and Donar to team up. I can't see that going well. And my fears are rapidly becoming reality. At this pace there won't be anyone left needing to be rescued.
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Old December 2 2012, 11:42 PM   #73
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

CeJay,

As always you have my thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you liked Shashlik's death scene. I got the idea from one of the Fate of the Jedi novels. It was such a cool way to dispatch a person that I thought it would work for this story.

Ramlo is still left aboard The Burning Claw, and pirates are people too. Though I don't know how merciful the Erickson crew would be when they find out what happened to their colleagues.

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

USS Erickson
Armory

Commander Donar slowly walked down the row, eyeing each member of the assembled Hazard Team. The team had been a concept that Lt. Shashlik had suggested, and which Tai had wholeheartedly supported. Though the Kaylar had taken her inspiration from the Voyager logs which detailed how their security chief, Lt. Commander Tuvok had created the Hazard Team to deal with the Delta Quadrant’s myriad threats; the concept also reminded Tai of Starfleet Special Missions.

Looking at each determined soldier, the Angosian nodded with approval. Lt. Shashlik had very good judgment. The biggest drawback, besides her absence was that of Lt. Zaylen, who was blocked from joining the rescue mission by Dr. Narsan. They were six strong. Two humans, a Farian, one Bolian, a Dimoran, and a Tiburon made up the team.

Each stood at rigid attention, bedecked in special black and gray hazard suits that were equipped with tactical eye displays, universal power adapters, personal transporter buffers, and other cutting edge devices. Each also bristled with a variety of weapons, some not Starfleet standard issue.

Donar paused and patted the Klingon tetyron Gatling gun slung off the shoulder of the beefy Bolian. Looking down, speaking more to the gun than he was its owner, Tai murmured, “I haven’t seen one of these things in a long time.” The man beamed with pride.

“I saw these chew up many a soldier during the Tarsian War,” Tai coldly remarked, “Stow the pride Ensign Lott. This is not a prize, or toy, its weapon of war. It kills, nothing more.”

The younger man quickly swallowed his smile. “I’m sorry sir,” he said. Even though the man’s hue was deep blue he was as green as an emerald Orion.

“It’s alright,” Tai said, more gently. He patted the man on the shoulder. “Just being an old warhorse is all. I was eager like you once…wanted to test out all the weapons in the armory until I really got that chance. It wasn’t quite as much fun as it was in practice.”

“I…uh…see sir,” Lott awkwardly replied.

“No you don’t, but you will,” Donar ominously warned. He moved on past the chastened youth. “Lt. Brocc, is the team ready?” Brocc would be serving as Donar’s second-in-command if the hazard team had to be activated. The small, hirsute Dimoran stepped forward. He reached up to Tai’s navel. What the sapient lacked in height, his sniper skills made up for a thousand times over.

“Aye sir.” He replied, his whiskers twitching in likely eagerness. Donar looked at the group again, and nodded his acceptance.

“I believe you’re right Mr. Brocc,” he said. Before he dismissed them, the armory door swished open. Lt. Commander Norrbom sauntered in. Tai wasn’t the only one looking at her quizzically.

“You got a hazard suit in my size?” She asked, with a smirk. Before Donar could respond, the operations officer added, “And if you ask me my size, you won’t live to regret it.”
************************************************** *************

Caldera

The Great Tide roiled with anger…and anticipation. Hope, most of all, awaited Fear’s return. Not only did Hope want to castigate Fear, but he also wanted to believe that Fear would return with the device or at least found some way to dispose of it safely.

Even though Hope knew that destroying the Romulan vessel a century ago had been the prudent thing, guilt still ate at him, over any loss of life. Hope couldn’t accept that all gentlebeings couldn’t be reasoned with, with enough time, patience, and respect.

Perhaps it was a foolish notion to expect such behavior from aliens, when even half of his kind didn’t exhibit such probity. Even now the fearful stood apart from the hopeful, cleaving a divide between them of barren rock that Hope didn’t know could ever be traversed again.

It might take decades, centuries even, of contemplation and then argument to restore the Great Tide. But it might be better if the hopeful just left their paranoid kindred to stew in their own isolationism.

The thought had barely surfaced in his consciousness before it was snatched and spread across the entire group. The great expanse undulated in rapid agreement. Hope was barely conscious of it before he felt himself lifting, as part of the great sliver of the tide. Beneath them, the fearful roiled in disbelief and contempt. Perhaps it was better to leave that morass after all.

The hopeful coiled together, forming a great spire, kindred beneath Hope taking on the shape of nacelles. Once they were free of the planet’s pull, they would imitate a warp reaction and soar among the stars.

The hopeful had just broken from the embrace of their home when they buffeted by astral winds strong enough to almost disperse them. The coil held together, forming solar sails to harness as much of the wind as possible. It was rough going.

The coil morphed into a sturdier facsimile, mimicking the Starship Pacifica, and the pelting against their skin was much less thundering. Hope rose from the new deck of the hastily formed bridge, taking on the guise of the barrel-chested Captain Terrell. Other hopefuls had taken on the guises of Terrell’s crew.

“Investigate those winds,” Hope requested of the science officer, now pale skinned, green-eyed, and with a bald elongated head. The subordinate nodded, looking down into the scope jutting up from his console.

“Captain,” the troubled science officer said, seconds later.

“What’s wrong?” Terrell’s brow lined with concern.

The science officer shook his head, “It’s…too late…the subspace fracture will reach Caldera in less than a minute.”

“Subspace fracture?” Terrell’s countenance began to melt.

“Once the fracture impacts the planet…Caldera will be destroyed,” the science officer said.

“We must return,” Hope declared.

“To warn the others?” The science officer still retained his alien form. “To help them escape?”

“No,” Hope replied, shaking his head, knowing there was no time, “To die with them.”
************************************************** ************
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Old December 3 2012, 12:56 AM   #74
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

The Burning Claw

The hand left a stinging mark on Gedrik’s cheek. He awoke with a start, automatically touching the burning cheek. He blinked to clear the cloudiness from his eyes. He tried to speak but his throat felt raw.

“You’re awake, good,” Nadeen stood over him, flexing the fingers of one of her leather gloves; a nasty-looking Romulan disruptor aimed dead at him. Beyond her, he noticed the dull gray walls of the holding cell. His disloyal crew had mutinied on him already.

“What is the meaning of this?” His anger and fear pushed question through the fire in his throat. He tried to stand up, but the hulking Capellan shoved the muzzle of the disruptor into his nose.

He yelped, but kept his place. The indignity of the action hurt as much as the physical discomfort.

“Did you really think I was going to let you run this ship?” She laughed, shaking her head.

“I have the loyalty of the men,” Gedrik protested, “I have Mavaar, and nothing gets done on this ship without those two things.”

“The men don’t respect a brain with no guts for battle,” Nadeen retorted, advancing on him. “A fool who vaporized his only protector.” To his shame, Gedrik scooted back, his claws clicking on the cold metal floor. “And as for Mavaar…”

Beyond the Capellan, Mavaar slithered into the holding cell. She pressed herself against Nadeen, who stood rooted like tree in the middle of the cell. The Nuvian smiled, “Sorry lover but I decided to place my things in Nadeen’s room.”

“Brigands, reprobates, scum! The lot of you!” Gedrik hissed, “I gave you, I gave all of you a chance to be heroes, and you can’t even conceive of how much money you would make off of that!”

“Oh yes, yes I can,” Nadeen replied, “We’re going to sell this device to the highest bidder.”

“No, I won’t allow it,” he declared, “You need me, you need me to operate the device,” he added, playing the only card at his disposal.

“I had a feeling you would draw that line in the sand,” Nadeen replied, a knowing smile on her face. She cocked her head in Mavaar’s direction. “Mavaar,” she said softly.

“Way ahead of you Captain,” the Nuvian pulled out a small controller. Gedrik’s eyes widened. He knew exactly what that device was, what it could do.

He shook his head, waving his hands in obeisance, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it!”

“I had the good doc do a little surgery on you while you were out,” Nadeen grinned, “Mavaar.”

“No,” he pleaded again, as the Nuvian stepped from behind the ship’s new master, thumb over the controller button. “No,” he began, the word stretching out into infinity as the agony took him.
************************************************** ************
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Old December 6 2012, 06:23 AM   #75
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

This story has become downright Machiavellian! The crew of the Burning Claw are turning on each other like a pack of ravening jackals, and the Starfleeters in their midst are being wounded (and decapitated) in the crossfire.

Redfeather & Company have already sacrificed a great deal on this mission, and some of those losses are still unknown to them. I hope having Donar and Norrbom on the same team can help her bury the hatchet (someplace other than in Tai’s back, preferably).

The Calderans' actions have led to a tragic end, and I very much appreciated Hope and its allies’ last conscious decision to sprint back into their burning house, lest they miss the fate befalling the remainder of their species.

Shashlik's death was a painful loss, but her end was befitting her warrior ethos, and I'm glad she got a chance to choke-out that little worm Gedrik before she died.

That’s what I especially love about your stories, DarKush, I never have any idea where you’re going to take the various characters, or who’s going to come out on top in the end!

Oh, P.S., I know I’ve probably asked this before, but what the heck class of starship is Erickson, anyway?
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