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Old December 7 2012, 01:42 AM   #76
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"


Thanks. Your comments and insights are always welcome. When I thought more about the Burning Claw crew and Nadeen especially, I just couldn't see her taking orders from Gedrik for long. I think she sat back, got a feel for the situation and when the opportunity presented itself, she took it.

Throwing Helen on the team I thought was a good way to get back to that struggle between her and Tai which I had moved away from as I started writing or fleshing out the other characters.

I liked Shashlik but when I started looking at it, she was a redundant character when I've got a guy like Tai on the ship, even if he is an executive officer now. Plus I had already taken away the person Shash really wanted to get revenge on already, IMO, and that was Deoch. So removing her I thought made sense from a story and character perspective and I am glad that it has shocked-hopefully-some readers.

Erickson is Intrepid-class. I was toying with the idea of making the Erickson crew analogous to the Voyager crew but that mainly resulted in Tim French (Tom Paris). Also A'nurd is somewhat inspired by Neelix. And there's the female captain. Though I had created Erickson and Wyoma as largely throwaway characters for an old story and I can't remember if I was planning any Voyager homages at that time. I did get to put in the Hazard Team and a few other mentions.

************************************************** *************
Jov’k Tholis
Calcite-class battlecruiser
Caldera Expanse

Narskene skittered onto the bridge, hir eyes flashing as s/he took in the scene unfolding on the main viewer. A massive whipcord of twisted cosmic energy lashed into the planet Caldera slicing it two before the planet broke apart in large chunks. S/he stood in stunned silence, along the rest of hir crew, as the terrible hand of fate had swept the planet and what had been the life there to the astral winds like so much dust.

Slamming into the planet had not slowed the energy ribbon’s course. It was headed right for them!

“Reverse engines!” Narskene was so frightened that s/he didn’t use telepathy. Jaskeel, at the helm, clicked a rapid reply and the ship jerked around, engaging the warp engines seconds later.

“Full warp,” Narskene spoke again, hir eye on the screen and the quickly advancing ribbon. “It is gaining on us!”

“It will overtake us if we continue on the present course,” Jaskeel replied, also forgoing telepathic communication.

“What are the physical dimensions of that anomaly?” The weapons officer asked. Narskene turned to pin the lead scientist with a scalding stare. The science officer quickly replied.

Narskene next turned hir withering gaze on the weapons officer. “Well, Kokara?” The weapons officer calmly met hir captain’s burning eyes.

“If we can’t outrun the anomaly, perhaps we can fly above or below it.” Narskene nodded, appreciative of the logic of Kokara’s suggestion.

“Make the necessary adjustments Jaskeel,” s/he commanded without asking if it was feasible. With a more deliberate pace, Narskene left the bridge. Once inside hir domicile she collapsed in a shivering mess of jointed limbs, her entire frame quivering.

S/he wanted to project an air of confidence, but s/he really didn’t want her crew to see how badly she was rattled. Even if they survived, the secret that the High Magistrates had ordered hir to protect at all cost.

It was all s/he could do to keep her mental guards up while the bridge watching the destruction of Caldera. Narskene knew exactly what had caused the extinction level event and the Federation and the other quadrant powers would figure it out as well once they came to investigate what befell the Calderans.

The best way Narskene felt s/he could salvage the situation was to first survive and then find the culprits responsible for the cataclysm before anyone else did.
************************************************** ******************
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Old December 8 2012, 02:04 PM   #77
CeJay's Avatar
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Norrbom actually has a lighter side to her. So if she just gets over her apathy for Donar, she might be quite the pleasant person to be around. That is if she survives the coming mission. I know, big if.

Gedrick gets what he deserve. I still feel a tiny bit bad for him. Nothing worse to be tortured just for the sake of it. His desperation was palpable.
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Old December 9 2012, 07:48 PM   #78
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Thanks CeJay,

I did want to show that Norrbom isn't a bad person. She and the captain have been friends for a long time and I think their friendship can weather this rough patch. Of course it remains to be seen who will survive this story.

I'm pleased to hear that you feel bad for Gedrik. He's a bad guy, but he does have some sympathetic aspects. I'm glad you have seen them. I think his ultimate goal is a good one, he's just going about it the wrong way and also perhaps for the wrong reasons.

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

The guards pushed Gedrik through the doors. Legs still rubbery from the torture, the deposed ship’s master stumbled across the threshold and fell to the floor. “Oh, how the mighty fall,” the mocking voice drew his attention.

While clambering to all fours, Gedrik looked up. Mavaar, now in a skintight, V-necked lavender catsuit, leaned against the crystalline device, stroking its dull orange exterior tenderly. Gedrik’s eyes shifted to the device, unable to resist its mesmerizing pull, as he stood up.

“What are you doing? Don’t touch it!” He snapped, lurching towards her. The Nuvian threw back her head and laughed.

“What a foolish snoot you are,” she replied. “You think I’m merely a plaything for whoever controls this vessel? I’ll have you know that the Alshain lord that first purchased me sent me to some of the finest academies in the quadrant. He liked his harem well educated, better to show off at his parties,” she added, her eyes darkening, her laugh turning bitter.

“He thought the tracking device and the poison capsule he had implanted inside his slaves was enough to keep us under his thumb, and it was, for most of them,” she shook her head, her focus on the past. He pondered rushing the distracted woman at that moment and slashing her throat. It would not help him escape, but it would certainly make the scientist feel better.

“But not me,” she snapped back to the present. “Oh no, during my studies, I also took courses on medicine and anatomy, I performed surgery on myself, removed both shackles and force fed my master his own poison. Stealing one of his shuttles, I sold myself to the Orions. I knew the last place the Alshain would look for a murderous runaway was an Orion slave processing station.”

“Touching biography,” Gedrik sniffed, forcing his claws to retract. “But none of that equips you to toy with a device of such…” his words caught in his throat as he gazed upon its jeweled casing, “immense power.”

Mavaar, completely nonplussed, chucked a thumb toward the back of the room. “That’s what he’s here for,” she said, “and now you.” Gedrik tore his eyes away to follow where the Nuvian pointed. Ramlo hung in a darkened corner, cradling the stump where his hand used to be. The man was bent over, broken.

“The death of his compatriot has stricken him profoundly,” Mavaar said, “It has been like squeezing blood from a stone to get him to cough up as little as he has thus far, so I suggested to the captain that perhaps you could pull him out of his shell.”

“And what if I can’t?” Gedrik asked, his mind flashing back to severing the man’s hand with a borrowed knife. The digits had continued twitching even after the hand fell to the deck.

“Then you will die, most painfully,” the Nuvian promised. Gedrik gulped, knowing she meant every word. “If you had been able to divine the secrets of this contraption alone you wouldn’t have kept the prisoners alive. Both of your intellects are necessary, and I’ll be here to assist.”

“And to insure that we don’t escape?” Gedrik asked.

“Ah, your wits are returning,” Mavaar smiled, pulling a small controller from the cleft in her ample cleavage. “I would so hate to activate the neural servos…on either of you.”

“I’m sure you would,” Gedrik didn’t hide the sarcasm he felt. Their Nuvian overlord chuckled, while tucking the controller back into her bosom.

“You and the Arkenite need to get to work,” she ordered, “because your lives really do depend on it.”
************************************************** **************

Jov’k Tholis
Calcite-class battlecruiser

In deep solitude, away from the madness just outside the too fragile hull, Commander Narskene’s thoughts leapt far beyond the Caldera Expanse. Hir thoughts rushed across the mindline of the Lattice and into the deepest reaches of the Ruling Conclave’s Castemoot. Narskene sent an update, but also s/he requested information in return. S/he wanted the truth, the whole of it.

Narskene waited agonizing minutes before a flood of shared memories flooded into hir cortex…

S/he inhabited the mind and body of Ambassador Lelrene as s/he stood in a great, yet chilly, alien hall, surrounded by a gamut of other sentient beings as held a special stylus to commit the Tholian Assembly to the Polaric Test Ban Treaty more than a century ago….

.…Those thoughts swirled into those of High Magistrate Pernox reporting before the Ruling Conclave, hir spindly arms held wide, in her oft noted dramatic fashion, “Though the non-aggression pact has been signed, I fear it only a temporary measure. After the Alpha Quadrant organics have been defeated, the Dominion will turn all of its might on us…and it is not a war we could survive,” s/he had concluded to thunderous reaction, both verbally and telepathically. Pernox had withstood the mental pummeling to conclude, “We must be prepared for the imminent victory of the Dominion.”

“And what would you propose?” The typically skeptical High Magistrate Zezrene, sitting back comfortably on hir haunches, had interjected. Pernox didn’t hide hir distaste for hir old rival.

“That we continue developing polaric ion energy,” Pernox had replied, causing another disruptive row across the Conclave.

“You cannot be serious?” Zezrene had scoffed. “To do so, to violate the treaty we signed with the Federation, the Romulans, it would unite them against us.”

“The Federation is already against us,” High Magistrate Cylax had replied.

“No, the Federation is fighting the Dominion,” another Magistrate, Mokena had then interjected. “We are out of this conflict.”

“It is foolish to think that we can stand by and remain untouched from the conflagration,” Pernox said.

“We are not alone in being foolish then,” Zezrene had riposted, “The Miradorn, the Romulans, and even the Bajorans have all taken the same action that this assembly has.”

Pernox had pinned hir rival with a blazing stare. “The Miradorn only seek to side and reap the profits from the Dominion since their tide is currently cresting. The Miradorn are a short-sighted species. The Bajorans have little choice but to remain neutral, since their planet resides near the wormhole and would doubtlessly be the first conquered or razed by any invading Dominion force. As for the Romulans…they are merely biding their time, studying the Dominion for weaknesses, as we should do. I spent years serving on Romulus, I know its people and its leaders well.”

“Then perhaps we should seek their counsel, to form a secret alliance with them against the Dominion?” suggested Magistrate Bethor.

“As I said, I know the Romulans…and they cannot be trusted, not at this stage of the conflict,” Pernox had replied. “We are in this alone and only we can defend ourselves.”

“I have not seen enough of the purported prowess of these Jem’Hadar to believe they our Chakuun warriors would fall so easily against them,” Zezrene had declared.

“Then your eyes have been closed,” Pernox had shot back. Laughter had filled the chamber. Even Zezrene had nodded hir head in acknowledgement that s/he had been bested.

Holding hir arms forth again, Pernox had implored the conclave, “We must begin polaric ion energy exploration and we must begin posthaste!”….

….Magistrate Pernox had pressed hir hands against the frigid window, gazing out at the sleek, crystalline vessel hanging in front of the space station. High Command had named it the Eye of Tholia. Hir eyes had traced along the triangular vessel’s three tapered nacelles, and imagined the power from the polaric ion drive that would soon flow through them and propel the ship’s pilots into galactic history.

All of hir efforts of the last several years had led to this moment. Despite the relatively rapid conclusion of the war, the project had continued. Too many resources had already been invested in polaric ion energy exploration for it to stop, and so many of her compeers had been seduced by the power residing within polaric ions that even more funding and support had come after the Dominion collapsed.

Now all the weakened powers were scrambling to hold on to their empires while reasserting themselves. In this chaotic situation, the Tholians were primed to step onto the galactic stage in a way never before seen. Further who could stop them, even if they brazen broke the test ban treaty? Neither the Romulans nor Federation was in any position to oppose them. Certainly the foolish Klingons might, and they would snarl and charge their way to their destruction.

“Your pride radiates through your carapace,” Arezene’s voice had trilled in hir mind, before the Tholian spoke aloud. “The deep orange flush quite suits you.”

Pernox had turned from the window slowly, to try to appear unruffled by Arezene’s sudden appearance. “What brings you from the bowels of Chronological Defense Corps Headquarters?”

The temporal agent’s eyes had narrowed to slits. “You know exactly why I am here.” The Chronological Defense Corps, charged with protecting against temporal incursions, had opposed her push for polaric ion usage. They had argued that the temporal properties of the energy could have unforeseen and destructive consequences. Wisely, the Ruling Conclave had ignored the hysterics from the self-important pseudo-scientists.

“This is a proud day, for all Tholians, even the naysayers,” Pernox had offered, with as much charitableness that she could muster, which wasn’t much.

“The sun has not set yet,” Arezene had replied. “May I watch the disembarkation with you?”

“Do I have a choice in the matter?” Pernox had asked.

“There is always choice,” Arezene had said, with some good humor. “What happened between us Pernox, we were once hive-mates.”

“We were…of one accord, before you chose temporal investigations,” Pernox had spat, not hiding her scorn. “All of that breeding, for naught.”

Arezene had shaken his head, “I wish you understood how important my work is.”

“You never let me,” Pernox had rejoined.

“Perhaps that was my mistake,” Arezene had offered. “A mistake that can be corrected. As we say in the Chrono Corps, ‘there is always time.’”

Pernox had shuddered. “I see that you have not lost your penchant for questionable humor.” Arezene had chuckled. As the sonorous computer voice of the countdown began, the two former hive-mates quieted and turned their attention back to the ship.

Pernox had allowed Arezene to touch her hand as the ship broke from the docking ring, gracefully turning to face, and acknowledge Pernox for hir efforts. The High Magistrate had beamed with pride as the assembled guests joined in congratulating her. Pernox turned from the ship to bask in the praise. Even a begrudging Zezrene had bowed in respect.

Unable to mask her rush of color throughout her body, Pernox had barely heard Arezene. S/he had continued soaking up the adulation, until he roughly pulled on her arm. “Something’s wrong,” Arezene had declared.

Pernox had rounded on him, pulling her hand out of hirs. “How dare you!” S/he had hissed. As a member of the Ruling Conclave s/he could have anyone, even one of the protected professions, executed on the spot. Four-legged Chakuun soldiers, dressed in dull green environmental suits, tensed, their hands reaching for the ceremonial disruptor rifles slung over their shoulders.

S/he had quickly waved them to stay back. “Something is wrong,” Arezene had repeated, completely oblivious to how close he was treading to execution. S/he had pointed out the window.

Violent colors clashed within the transparent strips of the nacelles. The ship had stopped, and even from this distance, Pernox could see that it was shaking badly, as if the structural integrity field had collapsed. Pieces of hull blew from the ship, venting plasma. Some of the brave and curious had rushed to the windows to view the tragic malfunctions. As the ship had imploded, Pernox could only liken it to her career.

“Grand Admiral Gadol, what’s happening?!” S/he had whipped around, to pinion the project lead. The heavy limbed Tholian had lumbered forth. He didn’t immediately answer, instead he cocked his head to the side.

“The command center is trying to hail the prototype,” s/he had replied, “But the pilots are not responding…to either verbal or telepathic entreaties.”

“There must be some way to stop this!” Pernox had declared, “We must save the lives of the pilots and prevent the ship from being destroyed. We can salvage this.” S/he left unsaid that Pernox hoped the actions would also save hir career.

“I think we have bigger problems than that now,” Arezene had projected the thought into hir mind. Seconds later the station rocked and a blinding light overpowered the dimmers on the viewport windows. When Pernox’s eyesight returned she saw nothing where the ship had been. The explosion had been all consuming….

…. “Or so they had thought,” Narskene replied, breaking free of the past memories. She accessed those of the Chronological Corps next, to confirm what s/he suspected.

“The Eye of Tholia hadn’t been destroyed,” she surmised, “It had merely fallen through the cracks of time.”

The High Magistrates were so desperate to possess the alien device because it wasn’t alien at all, it was Tholian.
************************************************** **************
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Old December 9 2012, 11:54 PM   #79
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Location: US Pacific Northwest
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

At least Mavaar has the foresight to keep Gedrick and Ramlo alive to continue their research into the device.

And now we discover the truth behind this whole series of events, the damn thing is Tholian, after all! Fantastic reveal here, and it serves to add even more tension to a situation on the cusp of collapsing entirely.

Ah, the tangled Tholian webs we weave…
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Old December 15 2012, 02:01 PM   #80
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Ok, I'm not going to pretend to understand everything that's going on here but the revelation of the Tholian's involvement sure is interesting and bound to complicate matters even further.
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Old December 16 2012, 03:54 PM   #81
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

Chronological Defense Corps Headquarters

The temperature chamber was held aloft by a hover sled. It coasted quietly into the room. Trapped within the chambers tight confines, the former High Magistrate Pernox shifted hir head as best s/he could, trying to absorb as much information as possible, to better effect hir release.

Deep down s/he knew it was futile, but what else could s/he do? S/he had been bred to be a survivor, to triumph. And what should have been hir crowning achievement, the decision that propelled hir to first among the Magistrates, had led to hir downfall.

“Sled stop,” commanded the solemn voice of Commissioner Onnorax, the head of the Defense Corps. The sled complied immediately to the voice command. Pernox groaned. It was frigid inside the chamber, hir cramped joints hurt, hir breathing was restricted and each breathe drew as much ache as it did methane. Hir jailers could’ve easily transported hir from hir dungeon to the Chronological Defense Corps Headquarters, but they chose a slow and painful form of transportation instead.

Through the small translucent screen, Pernox saw Onnorax, colored a deep crimson standing in front of a large display screen, with an energy web splayed across it. With the commissioner was High Magistrate Zezrene, trilling with barely contained glee, and a far grimmer Arezene. Zezrene burned with a confident solar orange while Arezene’s carapace was a sorrowful gray. Pernox was certain that the hover sled had been Zezrene’s idea.

Nearly beyond Pernox’s vision, blending with the shadows were the night colored Assessors. S/he could not tell how many there were, their dark forms indistinct and ran together, mixing with the dimness ringing the room. Hir crystalline form tingled at their appearance. It was always a fateful sign whenever the law bringers appeared.

Making sure s/he was within Pernox’s eyesight, Onnorax pointed one long arm back at the screen. “Do you have any idea what that web represents?”

Pernox took a few moments to answer, biting back an insolent retort. “No,” s/he finally said.

“It is time,” Onnorax replied, “Or better, it represents time,” s/he paused, tracing a skeletal finger along one temporal strand. “Do you see this strand here? It is not perfect, there are small, very small fractures between the strand. It is like this across the web, broken lines…everywhere. Do you know why that is?”

“No, I do not,” Pernox said, not hiding the disdain in hir voice.

“Each fracture represents a disruption in the space-time continuum, a rupture caused by us,” Onnorax hissed the last word. S/he paused, shivering noticeably as hir coloring turned from red to a deep violet. “Something I have sworn to prevent, your arrogance forced me to abrogate. We altered time because of your hubris, committed multiple temporal incursions to hide our violations of the test ban treaty.”

“Will it be enough?” Zezrene asked. Onnorax shrugged hir shoulders.

“Only time will tell,” Onnorax soberly answered.

“May I speak?” Pernox interjected.

“Your words have already led us to the precipice of intergalactic pariah status,” Zezrene ripped, “Haven’t you spoken enough?”

“Let her speak,” Arezene said, with force. S/he finally looked at Pernox, hir gray pallor lightening. “Say your piece Pernox.” She was stung that Arezene no longer prefaced her name with her title. Before her fall, to commit such a faux pas would have been inviting harsh punishment, maybe even death.

“I will never regret or apologize trying to put the Tholian people first,” Pernox declared. “The ship was lost, along with its entire crew; there was no need to destabilize the timeline. Your actions have likely drawn the attention of your counterparts from the other powers.”

“We were surgical, precise,” Onnorax declared, with utmost assurance. “Our incisions were small and only involved episodes concerning our people.”

“Unfortunately the commissioner was not allowed to merely erase you from the time stream,” Zezrene interjected, none too pleased, “The other Magistrates remain pleased with your service on Romulus and your negotiations with the Dominion that kept us out of the war.”

“But nearly everything else has been revised,” Onnorax reasserted hirself. “Except here,” s/he scuttled over to the screen and tapped the center of it. “The locus of the disturbance.” Pernox’s eyes followed the commissioner’s finger to the starburst within the center of the web. “There was too much temporal disruption. We could not simply erased the failed mission from time itself, the chroniton fallout was too great to get our agents close to.” A sickening green overtook Onnorax’s raging violet. If Pernox didn’t feel such discomfort s/he could sympathize with the commissioner for having to betray his oaths to preserve the timeline.

“So there is a possibility that Starfleet’s Department of Temporal Investigations will intervene?” Pernox asked.

“They already have,” Onnorax flushed red again.

“I spoke with two of the humans, Lucsly and Dulmer via subspace,” Arezene said, “I tried to allay their fears about the disturbance and the minor ripples. We doctored data to make it appear like a naturally occurring phenomenon. They seem mollified…for now.”

“Then all should be well,” Pernox said, “Release me at once so I can continue serving the Assembly.”

Zezrene’s laugh screeched through the chamber’s audio receiver. “You are not getting off so easily.”

“If you think this imprisonment is easy, why don’t we switch places?” Pernox retorted.

“It’s far from over,” Onnorax was now colored obsidian, as black as a starless void; as pitch as the Assessors. “The Jov’k Tholis has uncovered a massive polaric ion energy outburst in the Caldera Expanse…of Tholian manufacture.”

“That’s…that’s impossible,” Pernox shuddered.

“The Eye of Tholia wasn’t destroyed,” Zezrene couldn’t stop from gloating, “It was hurdled backward into time, and across space. Now evidence of our furtive activities has returned to the Alpha Quadrant, literally at our doorstep.”

“If we do not recover the polaric ion device, the Federation or another power will and they will discover who created it and falsified readings will not suffice the next time they seek an audience,” Arezene said sadly, still not looking up.

“Commander Narskene is capable,” Pernox threw out, after searching her cortex for information about the military officer. “Narskene’s record is most impressive. From the Expansionist campaigns to testing the Federation’s mettle this midcentury, Narskene had proven hir worth. S/he will not fail.”

“S/he will not,” Zezrene dipped her head, “you on the other hand…”

“Your consciousness will be deleted,” one of the Assessors had slithered forward, so quickly that Pernox had not even seen or sensed movement. S/he blotted out Onnorax and the others. “Your memories will not be available to your successors.”

“That is unconscionable!” Pernox bellowed. If her consciousness was not placed in the crystal memory upload to enter the Lattice that meant that not only would all of hir knowledge be denied future generations, but also the wisdom that she had received.

“I know what you are thinking,” Zezrene’s thoughts crawled into her mind, “But the Assessors have a way to separate your tainted engrams from your predecessors. They will live on, you will not.”

“You can’t do that!” Pernox pushed against the unforgiving confines of the chamber. The Assessor sunk back into the shadows, oblivious to hir pleas or hir pain.

“The decision has already been made,” Arezene said, meeting her gaze one final time. “I am sorry.”

“Let us begin then,” Zezrene remarked. “Assessors….”
************************************************** *************
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Old December 16 2012, 04:02 PM   #82
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Hey guys,

As always, thanks for reading. Hopefully the following passage will better get at what I was aiming for.

When I started researching polaric ion energy I discovered that it had temporal properties so I wanted to do something with that. I had alluded to the Tholians at the very beginning of the story ("Fire Beings"), but at that point I was thinking they were ancient Tholians. But thinking more about the temporal angle, I decided that they would be contemporary Tholian astronauts who were were flung back into time and space, due to a polaric ion energy malfunction.

Now the Tholians want to erase all traces of their involvement.

I've always wanted to write a Tholian story so I got to thank Gibraltar for coming up with this concept that allows me to do that. Though originally I wasn't planning on involving the Tholians as much as I have, and was perhaps going to save it for a follow up story, I'm glad I included it in this one so that it helps-hopefully-heighten the stakes while making it a bit more personal since a familiar and adversarial nation has such a personal tie to the refugees.
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Old December 17 2012, 10:43 PM   #83
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

USS Erickson
Private Quarters

Commander Donar flinched at the momentary flicker of doubt. He had thought about contacting Juanita, but he didn’t want to bother her, and the idea of calling her merely to vent felt unseemly.

Sighing, he pressed the door chime. The doors swished open immediately. The Angosian stepped from the cool, sterile corridor into a rainforest.

If he didn’t know any better, he would think that Commander A’nurd’s domicile was a holodeck. He touched one of large leaves, hanging from the trees, lining the room. Despite the sophistication of photonic technology, Tai had spent enough time in real jungles to know what real plants felt like. He rubbed the leave’s dampness from his fingers, onto his pants leg. Droplets of warm, wet air splashed his face.

“Hello, hello Mr. Donar! This is a most welcome surprise!” Through the canopy of leaves, somewhere along the ceiling, he heard the Munzalan before he saw him. He caught glimpses of a series of bars spread along the ceiling as he saw A’nurd breaking through the brush and landing neatly on all fours before him. The Munzalan’s uniform was disheveled and he worked furiously to correct that.

“My apologies for my appearance Commander, but I wasn’t expecting company, and I like to hmmm…I prefer to tramp around my quarters au natural,” he said, giving Tai a mental image that was not asked for.

“If I am disturbing you,” Donar began, hoping that the engineer would provide him an easy out.

“No, no, not at all,” the Munzalan replied. “Please, follow me to my living area.”

“Oh, I thought this was your living space?” Tai asked.

“No,” A’nurd shook his head, “This is my work area, I do my best thinking, problem solving and designing here. The living space is more Federation standard.”

Tai nodded in understanding. “Lead the way then.” Once ensconced on a comfortable keres hide couch.” The Angosian patted the sofa pillow. “Keres hide, Chin’toka IV, how did you come by this?”

Sitting on the edge of his chair, opposite of Tai, A’nurd smiled, “I’ve got my ways,” he grinned. “I picked it up after the war, while I was assigned to Engineering Corps crew doing clean up in the Chin’toka system.”

The Angosian ran his fingers over the soft exterior, “Very rare indeed.” A’nurd shrugged.

“I like rare things, reminds me of how rare and unique we all are,” the Munzalan offered. “Care for some refreshments.”

“No,” Tai said after a pause.

“So, how can I help you sir?” A’nurd asked, his large golden eyes gleaming as he waited expectantly.

“I…uh…don’t know how to say this,” Donar found himself stumbling over his words, “Perhaps I shouldn’t have come here.” To that, A’nurd said nothing, maintaining the same serene expression on his face. He was content to let the commander work it out at his own time and pace, or not at all, and Tai appreciated that.

Rubbing his legs and patting his knees, his nerves fluttering in his stomach, Tai croaked, “I needed…to…ah…I needed,” he paused, scowling at himself, “I wished to talk to someone.”

A’nurd cocked his furred head to the side, “I’m all ears.”

“You know what we are likely to face once we reach the location of Ensign Kittles’ last message,” Donar said, referring to the information the captain dispensed at their last briefing. The Munzalan nodded in understanding.

“And you know as well that I will be leading a hazard team to storm the marauder vessel, if need be.” A’nurd nodded again. “Well, it’s…is this a confidential conversation?” Tai forgot to ask from the beginning.

“Absolutely,” A’nurd replied with rock solid assurance.

“I am concerned about the placement of Lt. Commander Norrbom on the team,” he finally admitted, feeling both a weight lift off his shoulders and his stomach muscles contracting at the same time.

“I see,” A’nurd stroked his chin, “What is the cause of your concern?”

“Though I didn’t put this team together, they are a tightly woven unit. They trust each other implicitly, and I had no qualms about taking over from Lieutenants Shashlik or Zaylen,” Tai began, “But with Norrbom on the team now, it just adds a combustible element.”

“So you think she will be destabilizing?”

The Angosian nodded his head, “It is a possibility. She is too much of a loose cannon, and though I trust the rest of the team to follow my orders without question, I can’t say the same of her yet.”

“It certainly doesn’t help that Helen is well respected among all of the crew and that she might sow dissension even among the hazard team,” A’nurd chimed in.

“I had that concern as well,” Tai admitted.

“Have you talked to the captain about this?” The Munzalan asked. Tai grimaced, before shaking his head.

“It was the captain that made the decision to place Commander Norrbom on the team,” Donar replied. “If I approached her with my concerns, it would be like I am second guessing her decision.”

“Which you are,” A’nurd gingerly pointed out. The Angosian scowled at the smaller man before shifting uncomfortably on the sofa.

“I know that,” he snapped, “but I don’t like the idea of voicing those concerns to the captain, of making my…discomfort known. I was trained to follow orders.”

“Ah,” A’nurd sighed, throwing his head back, “I understand now.”

“You understand…what?” Tai asked, with mounting suspicion.

“You were trained to follow orders, in the Angosian military,” the Munzalan began, “and perhaps later as part of Special Missions, and more than likely in the Security Division, but you are no longer in any of those things now. You are a first officer. It is important to share all of your views about things vital to the safety of the ship and crew with the captain, even if they go against what she thinks is best.”

“That is easier said than done,” Tai admitted.

“But yet it must be said and done,” A’nurd pressed. “Captain Redfeather is a great commanding officer, but she is just as fallible as the rest of us. I am certain that she thinks placing Helen on the hazard team will be a bonding experience. But if you feel that it could be too much of a distraction, it is your duty to inform the captain. Lives will be at stake when hazard team boards that outlaw vessel.”

Donar nodded, the tension in his stomach easing. “You’re right,” he said. He gave the wise lemur-like engineer a closed mouth smile. “I guess…I am still adjusting to my new role. I have been so used to following orders, of just internalizing the decisions of my superiors, and been so intent on simply carrying them out, that I forgot how important the advisor role of my position as first officer is.”

“Sounds like you didn’t forget, so much as merely misplaced it,” A’nurd chuckled. He shrugged, “It happens, you got a lot on your mind.”

Tai grunted in acceptance of the man’s characterization. “Thank for this A’nurd.”

“Anytime,” the Munzalan said, “Sure you don’t want something to drink or eat? I have tulaberries, lightly chilled in the refrigeration unit.”

“Perhaps some other time,” Donar said, meaning it. “I need to speak with the captain.”

“Understood,” A’nurd said, standing up. Tai followed suit. The Munzalan held up his hand and Donar grasped it firmly. Before either man could disengage, the lighting in the room flashed red seconds before a klaxon blared from bulkhead speakers.

“Red alert! All hands to battle stations!” Captain Redfeather’s voice commanded, “Red alert! All hands to battle stations!”

“I guess the talk is going to have to wait,” Donar said, now all business.
************************************************** *************
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Old December 17 2012, 11:57 PM   #84
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

The Burning Claw

Still cradling his injured arm, Lt. Ramlo held the spanner aloft, contemplating whether he should crack it into the base of Gedrik’s skull. The lanky Venturi was hunched over the polaric ion regulator, completely entranced by each groove in its crystalline shell and completely oblivious of the danger he was in.

Of course the horned reptilian feared Mavaar far more than he did Ramlo. The sultry Nuvian stood propped against a wall near the entrance, arms folded over her sculpted midsection, the position only making her cleavage more noticeable.

The Arkenite science officer was far beyond any base feelings the woman’s suggestive pose could elicit. Shashlik’s head flying through the air ran through his mind on a constant loop. He couldn’t block it out; it filled both his sleeping and waking hours, a scream that could find no release building within him.

He briefly pondered unleashing that scream on Mavaar first, to eliminate her as a threat before turning on Gedrik. Then his wild thoughts went to the device itself, cracking open its plating, igniting its fire, and consuming all within its flames.

“Spanner,” Gedrik rasped, holding up an insistent hand, fingers waggling. The man wasn’t even looking at him. But Mavaar was. Her violet eyes narrowed and she pushed off from the wall.

“Something wrong Lieutenant?” She asked. Ramlo gulped, his throat bone dry.

“Scanner,” Gedrik demanded, his eyes now raking over the science officer. He snatched the device from Ramlo’s hand. “What’s your problem?” He grumbled, arching back over. Mavaar continued to approach, and Ramlo found himself rooted in place, buffeted by fear, hate, and revulsion at his own cowardice. While his emotions surged, Gedrik ran the scanner along a seam on the regulator’s hull, and gasped with delight seconds later. “Ah success.”

This drew both Ramlo’s and Mavaar’s attention. “Soon the secrets of the regulator, of my people’s salvation will be known to me,” Gedrik promised, seemingly more to himself than the others in the room.

“It’s kind of like stealing fire, wouldn’t you say Lieutenant?” Mavaar asked, suddenly beside him, her voice melodious.

The Arkenite didn’t respond, instead he stared dully at the circuitry behind the open paneling. “What is that Mavaar?” Gedrik looked up, clearly annoyed that someone had spoken and broken the spell the regulator had on him. Ramlo was surprised that the Venturi had seemingly forgotten the torture he had just recently endured, but agony was all Ramlo could think about, when he wasn’t assaulted with memories of Shash’s death or the blood drenched thoughts of vengeance.

“I thought the Starfleeter would catch the reference,” Mavaar said, not hiding her disappointment, “Since he has spent so much time among the humans. It comes from one of their myths. Prometheus was a deity who stole fire from his fellow gods and gave it to mortals. A seminal event, the discovery of fire, explained in a religious parable.”

“I see, a primitive tale for a barbaric species,” Gedrik sniffed. “What does that have to do with this regulator?”

“The danger of knowledge and the destructiveness inherent even in great engines of progress,” Mavaar replied, “Especially in great engines of progress.”

“Only if they are in the wrong hands,” Gedrik replied, “which they no longer have to be.”
“What do you propose?” Mavaar asked.

“There’s still a way for you to make this right, for us to save a world,” Gedrik pleaded, standing up again. Mavaar moved a hand to her bosom. The Venturi flinched and stepped backward. “Please, there has to be more to life than money. Help me save my home.”

Mavaar laughed, “You silly, sentimental fool. There is more to life than money that is true. It’s called leverage, which a lot of money buys a lot of. And you have neither.”

“I will no longer help you,” he declared.

“Oh really,” her fingers inched closer to the crevice. But this time Gedrik stood his ground. Ramlo, wracked with torment, numbly aware of the exchange.

Gedrik balled his fist around the spanner. Mavaar smirked at the gesture. “Try it,” she challenged. “Get back to work,” she said, turning her back to him. A raw cry ripped from Gedrik’s lips as he charged the Nuvian, the spanner held high.

Mavaar moved quickly, her boot arcing around to connect with Gedrik’s chin. His neck jerked back with a sick snap and the man crumbled to the floor. Her eyes widening in surprise, the Nuvian rushed to check the man’s pulse. After a few moments, she looked up at the barely sensate Ramlo. Her eyes had clouded over. “He’s dead,” she announced calmly. “Nadeen is not going to be pleased.”
************************************************** *************
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Old December 20 2012, 03:14 PM   #85
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

The Burning Claw

Nadeen indeed was displeased. Ramlo stood against the wall, watching the large woman fuming; anger building inside her like a pressure cooker.

“You killed Gedrik?” Her broad nostrils flared as her eyes took in the man’s corpse, crumpled like discarded trash at her feet. “The only person who could divine the secrets of that infernal device!” She jutted a dagger-like finger at the crystalline regulator.

“We still have the Starfleet scientist,” Mavaar offered, from the other side of the regulator, smartly out of punching range. Nadeen’s smoldering gaze found Ramlo next. The man wanted to both shrink from it, and also put her eyes out.

“Look at him, he’s almost catatonic,” she scoffed. “You’ve screwed us over majorly Mavaar,” Nadeen declared. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to get top dollar for a device we can’t even explain how it functions.”

“Leave that to me,” Mavaar’s voice took on a calculated sultriness. “I’m well versed in speaking a language that any Orion slaver or merchant can understand.” She stroked the device and purred.

Unfazed, Nadeen glared at her again, “You better.” She warned before activating the door panel. Turning around, in the threshold of the door, she pointed at Ramlo, “And do something with that,” she said, “If he is of no use to us, then jettison him like the rest of the trash.” She glanced at Gedrik, shook her head, and spat on the dead man before leaving.
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USS Erickson
Main Bridge

Captain Redfeather forced herself not to sit on the edge of her seat. Her body strained against the comfortable back of her chair, but she forced herself to stay there. She had to look cool, not only to her crew but to whomever mastered the marauder vessel.

“Increase magnification,” she ordered ops again. Lt. Commander Norrbom quickly complied. Wyoma still squinted through the thick haze of gases veiling the cruiser. “So, that’s an Antares-class freighter eh?”

“Yes sir,” Helen replied. The ship’s tan bumpy hull was attached to a singular circular warp nacelle.

“I’m not going to even ask what the standard weapons and shields are for it, because I know that they’ve doubtlessly made changes,” Redfeather surmised.

“An apt decision,” the taciturn Commander Donar said from her side. Wyoma briefly regarded him. She was surprised that the man had spoken at all. His focus seemed completely on the ship before them, his dark eyes gleaming with predatory anticipation. It reminded her of a Le-matya she had once seen in captivity on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet; a bound animal hungry to break free of its cage and devour. She shivered slightly at the comparison.

The captain couldn’t help but look back at Norrbom. Momentary doubt struck her about the decision to put Helen on the hazard team. She had thought that if anyone besides herself could rein Tai back, if he broke his leash, it would be the operations officer. Now the captain wasn’t so sure. But there was no going back on her decision. She needed to trust both Helen and Tai that they could pull this off.

“Our readings are inconclusive regarding the full complement of weapons aboard that ship,” Helen remarked, “but it is doubtlessly bristling with them.”

“What about our people?” the captain asked, “Are you picking up any Arkenite or Kaylar life signs?”

“There is a faint Arkenite life sign,” Helen replied, “but it is…flickering…diffused by polaric ion energy.”

“So they do possess the regulator,” Tai stated, grinding his teeth.

“It appears so…sir,” Norrbom answered.

“And what about Shash?” Wyoma asked, her heart in her throat.

“Nothing,” Helen said grimly, “I’m not picking up anything.” A pall fell over the bridge as the possibility that they had lost one of their own began to sprout in their minds. The idea that Shashlik was gone tore at the captain’s façade. Though they had never been chummy, she had personally picked Shashlik to be a part of the Erickson crew and had been impressed with how much the woman had grown in her position and as part of the extended family aboard the ship. The woman had saved her life more than once, and many among the crew could claim the same. After all they had been through, the thought that she would meet her end, here, at the hands of grubby criminals, it was nearly impossible to contemplate.

“Isn’t it possible that the readings could be off, that maybe they have Shash somewhere that screw up our sensors?” Lt. French asked hopefully. Thankfully the man’s question broke the dark cloud forming over the bridge. It was a long shot, but plausible enough for the captain to clutch on to.

“It is…possible,” Helen admitted, with obvious doubt.

Sitting up in her seat, she tugged down on her tunic. It had been a habit since she had saw Captain Picard do it at her commencement. She thought emulating great captains sometimes might allow some of that greatness to rub off on her. “We are in communications range,” she replied, more of a statement of confirmation than a query.

“Aye sir,” Helen replied.

“Hail them,” Redfeather said. While Norrbom followed her orders, the captain coughed to clear her throat. She wanted to sound as in command, as in control as possible.

“The ship is not responding to our hails,” Helen remarked seconds later, with obvious annoyance.

“Try again,” the captain commanded, “And Mr. Holcus,” she addressed the Tygarian manning the tactical console, “power our weapons. Be prepared to fire at my mark.” The rangy, leathery reptilian briskly nodded.

“Aye captain,” he rasped.

“Still no response,” Norrbom said, a pinched tone in her voice. She definitely fuming now, Wyoma realized. Tugging her tunic once more, the captain spoke up.

“Unidentified vessel, this is the Starship Erickson, Captain Wyoma Redfeather in command,” she stated with authority, “We know that you have two of our crewmen. Return them and hand over the polaric ion device, or we will be forced to take more aggressive action against you.”

“No response,” Helen said after a few moments. Tension ratcheted up on the bridge.

“Mr. Holcus,” the captain’s voice felt tight, even to her own ears. “Prepare to fire a glancing blow, off of their bow, at my mark.”

“Captain, wait,” Helen interrupted, “They’ve just ejected something. Something very small.”

“On screen,” Redfeather said, “And more power to forward shields.” Once Helen directed the ship’s sensors to pinpoint the object, at maximum magnification, loud gasps filled the bridge, as did Norrbom’s vocal curse. Tai growled deep in his throat. Unbidden, her hand covered Wyoma’s mouth in shock.

Shashlik’s severed head, neatly sliced off at the neck, rolled endlessly through space, toward them.

“Helen,” Redfeather said, finding her voice again after several seconds. The shields opened up just enough for a shaft of light envelop the murdered security officer’s head. Wyoma pledged to recover the rest of her body. Now she was on the edge of her seat, not caring how it looked.

“It appears that the pirates have given us their answer,” she said coldly, now devoid of doubt…or charity, “Mr. Donar, I want you and the hazard team to reply in kind.”
************************************************** **************
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Old December 20 2012, 04:09 PM   #86
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

The Burning Claw
Command Deck

Nadeen gave into the cheers that broke out across the bridge. She savored the triumph as the antimatter mines exploded like fireworks around the Starfleet vessel. The Starfleeters had been so stricken by their headless colleague and so intent in scanning for the Arkenite that they hadn’t paid more attention to the Klingon antimatter mines that Nadeen had spread around The Burning Claw.

It had been one of her first orders upon assuming command. Deoch had always been stingy in their usage, due to their expense, and Gedrik had been ignorant to their potential. Nadeen knew enough about Starfleet to know that they never left their compatriots behind and that a starship was doubtlessly on their trail.

Thankfully the Erickson had waded perfectly into her trap. And she had made sure to add to the potency of the mines by using all of them to increase their destructiveness. Once the intense flare dissipated, Nadeen jumped from her seat. Still glowing, the crew now looked upon her like they might a deity. Even Deoch had never taken on and defeated a Federation starship before.

“What are your orders now captain?” Gotash asked. Nadeen looked at the viewer. The Erickson listed, it’s battered hulls half darkened by power outages and perforations.

“Gather a boarding party,” she ordered the too fragile Venturi. “We’re going to raid that boat.”
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Old December 20 2012, 07:37 PM   #87
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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

The Burning Claw

Mavaar pushed him against the wall, her body pressing against Ramlo. In the distance he heard a terrible rumbling, but thoughts of what was going on beyond this ship, outside this room, were secondary. With one hand she stroked her inviting cleavage. With the other, she caressed the Arkenite’s bald head. “Pity that Gedrik didn’t implant neural servos in you.” She purred, her breath warm and soft on his ear. Even her smell was intoxicating. “Perhaps there are…other ways to compel you to continue working on the device.” The woman pressed her body against him, her breathing becoming husky. Her hands cradled the back of his head and she pushed him towards her open, moist lips.

“Boarding party to the cargo bay,” Nadeen’s voice squawked through the room’s intercom. “The Erickson is ours for the taking!”

“Erickson,” Ramlo muttered, the name of his ship, the memories of his colleagues breaking through his haze. “They are in danger.” He tried to break free of the woman, but her grip was too strong. His green eyes water as a heavy musk exuded from the woman’s pores. What little scientific mind he had left made him realize that Mavaar was using pheromones to cloud his mind, to weaken his resistance.

“The only thing you can do to save them is finish learning about this device,” Mavaar whispered. “This can be the leverage you need to purchase the life of your friends.” She kissed him forcefully, setting his mind and body on fire. It took all he had to pull away from her. He gasped hungrily for air and Mavaar laughed.

“You have admirable restraint,” she conceded. “But no one, save the most asexual being, can resist me for long.”

“Pheromones,” he said, “You’re using pheromones against me.”

She cocked her head to the side, a quizzical look giving way to one of appreciation. “You continue to impress me Arkenite,” Mavaar replied. “During my time among the Orions I learned a lot about their irresistible ‘slave’ women. Their beauty was obvious, but that isn’t what bent so many of their purported masters into lapdogs. Orion women secrete a pheromone that affects the metabolisms of males of many species, turning them into obedient stooges. One of the Orion women ‘donated’ a gland that I had surgically implanted.” The Nuvian smiled with satisfaction.

“So even your charms are fake,” Ramlo surmised. The woman frowned and the air grew heavy with her scent.

“We’ll just see how well you can resist this time,” she said, her mouth opening again, her ripe lips beckoning. Ramlo’s knees began to buckle. His lips puckered, wanting to join with Mavaar’s. Unbidden, his arms embraced her, and she gasped in delight at his roughness. Mavaar closed her eyes, preparing to sink him with her kiss. Ramlo, not wanting to see the oncoming doom, closed his eyes as well.

In the darkness of his mind, a towering figure formed: Shashlik. The Kaylar was dressed in gleaming ancestral blue armor and flowing golden robes, her arm-length tattoo resplendent. Her eyes shone like stars as he gazed upon her. She looked down at him, through him. Her lips parted and he waited eagerly to hear what she would tell him from beyond. “Just head butt the whore already!” The fearsome Kaylar bellowed.

When Ramlo’s eyes blinked open, Mavaar’s lips were just brushing against his. He reared back and before the woman noticed, lunged his head at her. The heavy cranium that supported his three-lobed brain cracked into the woman’s head. Even her own ridged forehead provided little protection.

She woman screamed as she fell backward. One hand automatically reached for the bloody indention on her forehead. Her face painted dark red from the seeping blood, Mavaar glared at him, her succulent lips now becoming a violent slash. “I’m going to take that reconstructive surgery cost out of your hide.”

As if hearing a voice in his ear, Ramlo bent low, trying his best to remember the combat moves Shash taught him. To the raging Nuvian, he simply replied, “Bring it tramp.”
************************************************** ***************
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Old December 20 2012, 11:34 PM   #88
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

************************************************** ***************
USS Erickson
Holodeck One

Lt. Brocc was roused by the screaming. The Dimoran had sought to get in just a spot more of training before he was called into action. Accessing his favorite training program, safeties off, the Dimoran had immersed himself in a Tzenkethi War scenario. Perhaps it had something to do with racial memory, but he loved besting felinoid opponents; one of his few regrets being that he was too young during the Tzenkethi conflict to see if the reality would be as satisfying as his fantasies.

Brocc had just been about to separate the Tzenkethi Autarch’s furry head from his equally hirsute body, with the felinoid brute’s own scimitar, when his universe had turned upside down. When he awoke, his whole body was in pain. He blinked rapidly, spots flashing before his eyes. He lifted up, grimacing in pain. His arm hung loose and useless at his side. The lighted grid running crisscrossing the room was dim, which told him the Erickson was running on auxiliary power.

With his good hand, he tapped his combadge. There was no accompanying chirp. “The communications system is down too,” he mumbled. His eyes now adjusted to the wan lighting, Brocc recovered his phaser. Grunting with every movement, Brocc stuck the phaser in the belt of his uniform and stood up on shaky legs, one bruised knee especially protesting. He lurched to the door access panel. First he tried the intercom, hoping that the problem with his compin was localized. Not even getting static, he knew it was much bigger. “Door open,” he tried. Nothing happened. “Damn,” he grumbled, tapping in the code for a manual override.

The door screeched open, and the Dimoran jumped back instinctively as a shaft of sizzling crimson light passed by the door. He heard a sickening sizzle and then a thumb. He didn’t know who had been hit, but the security officer knew right off that the gunman was an enemy. Starfleet weapons didn’t emit red beams.

Yanking his phaser out of his belt, Brocc took a quick peek down the hall before he let off several shots. He had spotted two buccaneers and was pleased to hear two shrieks and thuds. Exhaling, his weapon at the ready, Brocc chanced taking another look out into the darkened hall. Two dark lumps lie before him.

His weapon steady, the Dimoran slowly approached them. They could be trying to deceive them. One was a Draylaxian and the other a stout Attrexian. But as he got closer, he saw that their weapons, one a Klingon-style disruptor, the other a Valerian compression rifle, were just out of reach of both men. To be certain though, Brocc shot them both again, on a harder stun setting. Turning from them, he eyed their victim.

His anger was stoked as he saw that the victim was an unarmed Antaran female, her blue uniform connoting that she was from the sciences division. Brocc said a quick prayer for her. He hadn’t known the fair-skinned humanoid, but she had been one of the nurses that had administered the hazard team’s final checkups in preparation for this mission.

A mission that had come to their doorstep, the Dimoran realized. “These bastards don’t know what they just stepped into,” he promised the dead woman.
************************************************** ***************

USS Erickson
Main Engineering

Chief Engineer A’nurd didn’t hesitate. With a war cry, he jumped on the console, turning quickly and used it to leap at the Gorn marauder. With claws and teeth bared his fingers dug into the startled reptilian’s large eye sockets like he was searching for plumb fruit. The massive lizard shrieked in agony, which only encouraged A’nurd to dig deeper. Ripping the wet orbs from both holes, A’nurd had only a second to celebrate his triumph before he was thrown from the wildly, thrashing, deeply wounded pirate.

He was still clutching the man’s eyes when he slammed into a bulkhead with such force that he could feel his skull cracking. Holding the gristly gift close to his chest, the Munzalan sank into oblivion.
************************************************** ***************
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Old December 21 2012, 03:55 AM   #89
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

************************************************** *****************
USS Erickson
Main Bridge

Lt. Commander Norrbom groaned in pain as the beam was lifted off her. Commander Donar bent down, his eyes roving her body, checking for injuries. “Commander Norrbom, can you move?” Besides a fine scarlet scar running across his face, the man appeared none the worse for wear. Now, she on the other hand…

Helen tested her limbs, grimacing with each movement. “Yeah,” she said after few seconds. “Brace yourself,” the Angosian said, grabbing the woman with surprising tenderness. He stood her up, and when her legs started to buckle, held her firm.

“I’m okay,” she said after too long a period. Helen pushed off from him. He steadied her after her body became wracked with coughs due to the thick smoke on the bridge. “The captain?” She asked, searching the dim bridge. The emergency lighting was veiled by smoke. Even the main viewer was opaque. The fires spread across the bridge provided the most light.

The operations officer halfway didn’t want the few bridge crew on their feet to put them out. Though she saw a harried Lt. French ably doing his best with a fire extinguisher. “The captain?” She asked again, scouring the bridge, before looking squarely at Tai.

The man’s broad chest constricted. He looked away. “Oh no,” Helen gasped. “No.” She saw a pile of wreckage entombing the captain’s chair.

“Commander,” Donar touched the woman’s shoulder. “The captain…is not dead.” He said.

“Oh thank God, where is she?”

“She is propped by her chair,” Donar said. “From what I can tell she’s suffering severe internal bleeding. I don’t know how much time she has.”

“Beam her to sickbay,” she snapped, just remembering to leave off, “You idiot.”

“Shipboard communications are down, almost everything else is down as well,” Donar said, “And the ship and the rest of the crew must be my prime concern.”

“Like hell,” Helen said, limping past the man. She would take the captain to Sickbay herself, even if she had to limp all the way. His hand shot out, grabbing her shoulder, and this time not so gently.

“Your first duty is to this ship as well,” Tai’s voice was like steel. “I’m assuming command and you are now the first officer.”

The woman swallowed her anger. “What are your orders,” she gritted her teeth, forcing out the words, “Captain?”

“Getting this ship’s systems back online, and finding out where that pirate vessel is, and being prepared for what they are going to do next,” he said. “Then we’ll see about Captain Redfeather, I promise.”

Norrbom wanted to argue, but she knew that the man’s logic was sound, and she suspected that Wyoma would be disappointed in her if she bucked the man’s orders.

“Can you walk unaided?” The Angosian asked.

“I think so,” she said, favoring her right leg. “I can hop just fine.”

“Good,” he nodded, “Find an operational console and do what you can to get shipboard communications back. We need to get in touch with Engineering to check the status of warp containment and main power.”

“Got it,” She said, using the consoles to steady herself as she hopped in search of a working console. “Found one,” she said, a bit too relief, because she took in more smoke-filled air. Bending over hacking, her eyes watering, Helen was completely defenseless as several red beams of light whined into existence on the bridge.

“What in the nine hells?” Donar gasped. Norrbom jerked up, surprised to hear fear in the Angosian’s voice. A tall, muscular dark skinned woman faced him, holding a disruptor dead at his chest.

“Funny meeting you here husband,” the woman smirked.
************************************************** ************
The Burning Claw

Lt. Ramlo refused to cry. Mavaar bit down hard into the stump where his hand used to be, drawing blood. Fueled by pain as much as anger he pushed forward, ramming the woman into the wall. She let go, along with a gush of air and a spray of blood, his blood flying from her mouth.

He punched her repeatedly with the stump, howling in rage and pain each time it connected with her face. Feeling the woman slacken beneath him, he slid the stump under her throat, pressing hard against it while he continued to whale on her with his good hand. Guided by Shashlik’s demanding voice, the Arkenite continued driving his fist into the woman’s face, ignoring the cracking of his knuckles or the blood running between his fingers.

Feral, her survival instinct activating, Mavaar began kicking at his knees and shins, while her fingers raked into his face, drawing blood, ripping skin. But still Ramlo held on, drawing on adrenaline and his formidable strength.

Despite the Nuvian’s prowess, Arkenites were gifted with a natural strength, and coupled with the fighting techniques Shash had taught him, the woman stood no chance. A small part of him hated what he was doing to the woman, demolishing her face as his forearm found her carotid artery.

Desperate, Mavaar released a cascade of pheromones, creating a fog so heady that it made Ramlo’s head spin. He released his hold on her, stumbling backward, trying to clear the air with both hands.

Grinning savagely, moving with feline grace, the woman pounced. She went for his eyes, her fingers digging into one. Ramlo yowled, smacking her hand away, the wild gesture smacking her face. Mavaar fell away from him. The Arkenite’s tears were mixed with blood. Glaring at her with one eye, he approached her.

Mavaar circled him, her beautiful throat bruised from his forearm, her hair askew; the beautiful façade she had constructed had fallen away. “I’m going to kill you,” she said, through ragged gasps of breath, her whole body heaving, “I don’t care whether you figure out the device or not. And if Nadeen has a problem with that, that’s her issue.” On the edge of his vision, Ramlo caught the tip of the device behind him, pointed like a dagger at his back. The Nuvian had carefully maneuvered him into a bad position.

“If you thought I was going to help you, you’re not a complete accessory,” he said, hoping he found the right insult. The woman snarled and lunged at him. Ramlo nodded with brief satisfaction that he had found a sore spot.

Unlike what she wanted, he didn’t jump backward and spear himself on the device. He moved to the side and allowed her momentum to thrust her past him. With a sharp elbow to her back, he assisted in driving the woman into and through the tip of the crystalline device.

Mavaar sighed, gurgling blood as her body twitched spasmodically, pinioned to the device. The Arkenite flinched at the awful wet sound of sliced through flesh.

Ramlo spent little time admiring, or regretting his handiwork. Hopped on adrenaline, he rushed to a computer console and accessed the ship’s main computer. The Arkenite shook his head, not completely surprised by the pirates’ lack of security protocols guarding their central computer. What corsair would expect an attack coming from inside their ship, through their circuitry? “Well, they are about to find out,” he muttered.
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Old December 21 2012, 07:52 PM   #90
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

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USS Erickson

Vorvi slapped the Osaarian plasma charge on the door, thumbed its activation button, and ran around the corridor. Joining Nolun and the others, he covered his ears and closed his eyes as an intense flash and terrible rattling filled the corridor. Nostrils twitching from the acrid smell of scalded metal and burned plastic, Vorvi led his party back into the corridor, toward the room. For him this was the true treasure aboard the ship. He didn’t care about hostages or slaves, but access to Starfleet weaponry would make Burning Claw one of the most fearsome pirates around.

The boarding party gasped with childish delight as they ran their fingers across the assortment of phaser pistols, compression rifles, and Starfleet issue plasma charges, stuffing as many as the could into the large sacks hanging from their sides.

“Hurry, hurry,” Nolun said, “We must return these to Burning Claw so that we can return to procure more bounty.”

“Such as?” Bargan, a pallid Ornaran, asked, as he continued stuffing power cells into his already bulging bag. Vorvi would be surprised if they just didn’t have to beam the man directly from the armory instead of the agreed exit point. “This here alone, should net me, I mean, us plenty felicium.”

“Well, I’m not leaving until I get me a replicator,” huffed Grisso, the Tellarite being as thickset as Bargan was gaunt. “I’m tired of our malfunctioning one.”

“Do you have any idea how long it would take to uproot one of those things?” Chided Rothal, a surly bearded, red Orion. “Do you really think that this crew isn’t going to rally or restore this ship’s power soon?”

“Sindull has taken over Engineering by now, we control this vessel,” Bargan shot back. “Hells, we should just take this ship and leave the Starfleet crew on Burning Claw.”

“They can’t all fit on Burning Claw,” Grisso loudly snorted.

Bargan chuckled, “I know,” he replied. “It would be fun spacing excess crew members. Would insure compliance.”

The Tellarite grunted, “I got to admit, that does make sense, and sounds like great entertainment.”

“Shut up you two!” Vorvi snapped, “Let’s go.”

“Well, look at this?” The hulking Ktarian Najok came from the back of the room, his sack empty, but the man held two stylized duty uniforms in his hands.

“What is that?” Nolun asked.

“Some kind of armor, very high-tech,” Najok said, his eyes gleaming with avarice even in the wan lighting.

“How many more are there?” Bargan asked, his hands twitching.

“A whole locker full,” Najok said. “These are probably worth more than all of the bounty we’ve seized thus far.”

“Let’s get them then,” Vorvi ordered the others.

“Stop where you are,” a voice bellowed from out in the hall. The pirates turned slowly to see a lithe Farian standing in the doorway, his compression rifle aimed and ready. “Drop everything and put your hands up.”

Nolun’s laughter sounded like nails on a chalkboard. “You can’t take us all.”

“Perhaps not,” the dark haired man said, cocking his head to the side. “But my friend Lott here, that’s another story.”

A strapping Bolian stepped into view, a large, multi-barreled weapon hanging from his shoulder.

“Frinx!” Bargan said, dumping his bag as his hands went up. Most of the others followed suit. Except for Vorvi and Nolun. Both Venturi dropped their bags, but grabbed their weapons. They aimed them at the Starfleet officers.

“What are you doing?” Grisso cried at his compatriots.

“Shut up coward,” Nolun barked, “If we were back aboard Burning Claw I would space the lot of you for giving up.”

“That’s right,” Vovri said, his finger curling around the trigger of his Vendikan sonic disruptor. He glared at the Starfleeters, seeking to find their fear, but he found only resolve. Despite that, he still boasted, “It looks like it’s a standoff.”

“No, it’s not,” the Bolian declared before he angled his monstrous weapon and unleashed its fury.
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The Burning Claw

Once Lt. Ramlo gained access to the main computer, he sealed the doors to the lab, and placed a forcefield around them. Feeling secure, he pounded in more commands, his speed slowed because he could only type on the archaic console with one hand.

“Here goes the shields,” he said, deactivating the cruiser’s main defense. “Now, the weapons,” he said, almost gleeful to switch off the ship’s offensive systems. Now the ship was prostrate before the Erickson.

He next took over the ship’s propulsion systems, locking out access from the scow’s engineer. “Now, time to talk to the bridge,” he muttered.
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