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Old March 3 2013, 10:44 PM   #136
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Both the descent to the surface aboard the shuttles and the first battle with the Xenarth were expertly rendered, CeJay.

I don't envy Maya being in the thick of things, especially during her first mission as a captain, but she's got a great team of talented people spearheading this mission.

Unfortunately, now it seems that with the discrepancy in numbers, some of the insertion team may be called upon to give the ultimate sacrifice in service of the mission.

Welcome to Starfleet, boys and girls.
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Old March 7 2013, 08:23 PM   #137
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

She squeezed off another shot and watched with a mixture of satisfaction and trepidation the stunned Xenarth warrior collapse.

The beam had been aimed just below where a human’s left collarbone would have been and had been just powerful enough to penetrate the thick exoskeleton and deliver a shock to his system he wasn’t likely to recover from quickly. She was glad to find that Queen Ket’s intel had remained accurate and now gave them the kind of edge they needed if they held out any hope in making this mission a success.

She turned to look at the rest of her team which consisted of herself, Chief Holly, security officers O’Shaugnessy and V’Ner, Wayne Daystrom plus another well armed six Marines and another six security specialists.

Like in the three other teams making up Operation Pandora, hers was the scouting party, the most crucial element of the team, tasked with locating the Omega generator and shutting it down for good. The rest of her fifty-man assault force was to keep their flanks and escape routes clear, ensure that they would not be ambushed and most importantly, keep any Xenarth reinforcements who had been sent to stop them at bay.

The plan had sounded solid when Mer’iab and Sh’Fane had drawn it up initially but already Maya realized that things were beginn
ing to fall apart, most notably due to a much larger than expected hostile force.

“Chief,” she said after they had cleared another room which according to their scans stood between them and the Omega generator. “How are we doing?”

The veteran senior-NCO already had his padd out to provide an update. Maya had initially resisted the notion of having the quartermaster join the assault, having fallen into the ageism trap of falsely believing that the veteran had too many years on him to be part of a strike team. But Holly had been quite insistent after he had learned that she’d chosen to lead the operation herself, claiming that his experience would be invaluable to her. She had quickly found that he had not exaggerated in the least. His reflexes were as sharp as those of a man half his age and he was probably a better shot with the phaser rifle than any of the security officers or Marines. But most significantly, the Starfleet veteran had an undeniable command presence which was not only universally respected by the men, Maya felt it helped motivate them as well.

“We’re encountering heavy resistance on all fronts. The drones upstairs are being taken apart and the Xenarth main force is beginning to shift to the lower levels. Clearly they know we’re here,” he said as he looked over the data streaming into the handheld device before he focusedon her. “Sh’Fane was right, we have a lot less time than we anticipated. “

“How much time do you think?”

“Hard to say. I suppose it depends on how many casualties you are comfortable with.”

She frowned at that. “None, Chief.”

His eyes practically bore themselves into hers, giving the captain a stone-cold look and trying to make her understand that that option was simply no longer realistic.

But she chose to ignore it and instead turned to her science officer. “Wayne?”

He quickly stepped up. “Omega-Two and Three have made contact with the generators and have commenced the shut down process.”

That was some good news at least. “What are the chances that they can do this within the time frame we need this done?”

“I think Altoss has a good handle on it,” said Daystrom, referring to the Efrosian science officer who had been assigned to Sh’Fane’s team in order to shut down the generator.

“What about Omega-Two?”

Daystrom seemed a lot less sure on that one. “They’ve also made contact but Elborough is having some difficulties.”

“Damn,” said Maya. “Was she the right choice?”

He nodded. “She’s the best molecular science specialist on board and she understands the basics of Omega just fine. She’s just never quite expected to having to do this under these kind of conditions.”

“None of us did, Wayne,” she said. “Talk her through it if that’s what she needs. Just get it done.”

He nodded sharply.

“Captain, Lieutenant Meldin reports that his team has located one of the three boronite repositories and they are clearing it now,” said Chief Holly after getting the latest update through the padd.

“That means everybody is on schedule but us,” she said and then quickly turned to head down the corridor. “Let’s double time it, people.”

But before she had even made one step, another Xenarth patrol stepped into their path at the far side of the large laboratory they had just cleared. Maya saw them too late. O’Shaugnessy and V’Ner, who true to Mer’iab’s promise had acted like her shadow ever since setting foot into the facility, did not.

“Get down,” the tall Irishman shouted and pushed the captain roughly to the side.

The firefight was over in seconds.

The three Xenarth soldiers fired their spear-like rifles only a nano-second before the two security guards could respond in kind. Then the remaining team members opened fire, immediately reducing the insectoid patrol to unconscious husks.

“Man down,” cried Holly.

It took Maya a second to realize that it had been the red-haired security man who had taken a hit. One which had been meant for her. Holly and the corpsman were at his side in an instant while the Vulcan moved closer to Donners now that her fellow protector was down.

“Is he alright?” Maya wanted to know straight away.

“I’m fine, sir,” he said quickly after the two men had helped him sit up against the wall, the corpsman already tending to his wound. “Just give me a few stims and I’ll be fine,” he added but Maya was not fooled by the pain he was clearly trying to hide.

The corpsman, a dark-haired Marine, shook his head slightly. “Damn weapon seems to have had an anticoagulant,” he said after referring to his tricorder. “I won’t be able to stop the bleeding here. He needs a sickbay.”

Maya turned to her senior NCO. “Chief, get two men to take him back to the runabout.”

“Captain," said the injured security officer and then shortly gritting his teeth from the pain. “You can’t afford losing three men know, not if we’re already so vastly outnumbered. Not if we’re already running out of time.”

She shook her head. “This is not the time to play hero, Redmond. You need treatment.”

“Just get me a thick bandage and something for the pain and I’ll be fine, sir.”

She glanced at Holly who seemed to nod along in agreement. Maya didn’t like this one bit but couldn’t ignore the fact that he was right. The math simply didn’t add up and everybody knew it.

Despite her better judgment she turned towards the corpsman. “Do it.” And then to her injured bodyguard: “You let me know the moment this gets worse, that’s an order.”

“Yes, sir.”

Within moments the corpsman had bandaged the wound and given him enough stimulants and painkillers to allow him to stand up on his own. Maya admired his professionalism when he once again grabbed his phaser rifle and took her side, giving her a short nod to indicate that he was just fine.

She knew that not to be the case.

“Alright, folks, that all the rest you gonna get for a while. The generator is just three hundred meters ahead. Watch your sectors but keep moving, we can’t afford to stop again until we reach our primary target,” said Holly, already leading by example as he headed out towards where they so desperately needed to get to.


* * *
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Old March 10 2013, 05:12 AM   #138
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

I love how Maya's using the quartermaster as her mobile Ops and Intel specialist, keeping her apprised of the full scope of the mission. That's an inspired use of the man's experience and specialization.

However, Maya's seriously deluding herself as to the lives this mission will cost Starfleet... and the quartermaster knows this.

Redmond likely won't survive the assault, and they all know it. And he will only be one of many to fall for the cause.
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Old March 12 2013, 11:14 PM   #139
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Previous chapters have ramped up the tension, but now the action is firmly under-way! Fast paced and exciting, and very well written.
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Old March 14 2013, 10:41 PM   #140
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

When A.J. Elborough had joined Starfleet, less than five years ago, and graduated the Academy with a specialty in molecular physics and chemistry she had expected to spend the majority of her days sitting in a lab and studying the microscopic details of the smallest particles known to exist. And while this hadn’t sounded particularly exciting to her friends and family, it was exactly that kind of methodical study she aspired to. To learn more about how the universe worked from the safety and comfort of a precisely controlled environment.

“Get down!”

Lieutenant Chi Ling Yuen reached the young science officer just in time to push her down onto the floor before the super-charged energy beam could have separated her head from her shoulders.

The following barrage of phaser fire took out the Xenarth solider who had been able to get into the Omega chamber undetected, eight crimson-colored lances immediately causing his unconscious body to clutter to the floor.

“Are you alright?” asked the Chinese security officer after he was certain the threat had been neutralized.

“I … I think so,” she said as she brushed her damp blonde hair which had come loose from her ponytail out of her face. “Thanks.”

“It’s what I’m here for,” he said with a smile.

She couldn’t quite help herself and returned that smile. In truth this wasn’t the first time she had noticed the muscular security officer with the infectious smile. She had seen him on Agamemnon a few times and even though they had only spoken a few words before this away mission, she had found him immediately likeable. And that smile almost made her forget that she had nearly gotten her head shot off. Almost.

He helped her back onto her feet.

“This … this is not what signed-up for,” she said as she picked up her tricorder which had slipped out of her hand when the shooting had started.

“Ensign, how far along are we with getting this thing shut down?”

Elborough didn’t need to turn to find who had spoken. His high-pitched, nearly screechy voice was quite distinct and truth be told, it gave her a headache. Or rather was making the one she had worse. The imposing security chief didn’t seem to care much, judging by the way he had yelled at her from the moment they had breached the Omega chamber just a few minutes earlier.

She’d barely had the chance to fully investigate the snow-globe like device which stood a good ten meters tall in the middle of the room and pulsated with a steady blue glow.

“I’m … I’m not sure,” she said as she pointed the tricorder at the device.

“Not good enough,” Mer’iab shot back. “We have reports that hostile forces are far more significant than we anticipated and that their main force is heading our way as we speak. We don’t have time for you not being sure.”

Elborough aimed an incredulous look at the avian, her mouth hanging open at the news that they were apparently about to be overrun.

“Ensign,” he repeated after clearly not being happy with her lack of action.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and she turned to find Yuen.

“It’s alright, A.J., we’ll be here to protect you. Just do your job.”

She nodded slowly. Somewhere in the back of her mind she couldn’t stop thinking of handsome Yuen. And also, surprisingly reassuring Yuen. She wondered when he had learned her name. Then she realized how insignificant and inappropriate all those thoughts were given their current situation.

She focused on the Omega generator again before glancing down at the read-outs of her tricorder. Her excitement of learning about this massively powerful particle had long since passed, ever since she had realized that it would be her job to destroy it and that in the process she may very well lose her own life.

“It’s … it’s not yet fully formed,” she said as she analyzed the data. “We can still shut it down by altering the main power flow to the resonance chamber.”

“Find it and pull the plug,” Mer’iab screeched.

She shook her head. “It’s not that simple, sir,” she said. “Just cutting power could cause a massive feedback loop. I need to find the exact frequency and then slowly re-modulate it to reverse the molecular synthesis which will stop the individual atoms to bond with–“

“Ensign, stow the science talk and get it done,” the security chief interrupted.

“Yes, sir,” she said.

Yuen smiled at her. “You’ll be alright.”

She nodded and went to work.

But as much as she tried to focus on what needed to be done, she couldn’t entirely stop overhearing the security chief, Yuen and the rest of the team discussing their seemingly dire situation.

“It’s not good, sir,” said one of the security officers after being prompted for a report by Mer’iab. “All teams are reporting heavy enemy contact. And they clearly know what we’re after. Lansing is reporting that they are striking his position the hardest. He’s already taken casualties. It’s only a matter of time before they’re overrun.”

“Have him regroup here along with Ha’kar’s men. Have them set up emergency triage in this room, we’ve got enough space,” the senior lieutenant said after apparently having consulted a schematic of the facility.”

The officer he had been talking to acknowledged sharply and then set out to carry out his orders.

“It’s not giving us a lot of time,” she heard Yuen say. He was speaking softly and she was grateful for this but the sound traveled easily in the large chamber.

“I know,” he responded.

She heard their footsteps approaching.

“Ensign, have you found that frequency of yours yet,” Mer’iab said before he had even reached her. “We’re running out of time.”

“I think so but ... but I need to run some more tests before I can be sure.”

“What part of running out of time did you not comprehend?”

She shot him a fiery look. “Listen, I can’t work like this, ok. I know we’re in a tough spot and that all these lives depend on my being able to shut this down but honestly that’s not the kind of pressure I need.” She stopped herself to take a deep breath, surprised by the steel and anger in her own voice. The look in the avian’s eyes was making her shudder. “Sir,” she added quickly as if it could excuse her inappropriate outburst.

Before the security chief could put her back into her place, Yuen took a small step forward, subtly putting himself in between the two officers. He gave Elborough a reassuring look. “We have another option, don’t we?” he said and glanced towards two security guards who had taken a seat close by, their sole task to carry transporter pattern enhancers strapped to their backs. “We can beam the molecules onto Cuffe’s resonance chamber.”

She shook her head. “I just checked in with Commander N’Saba. They’re not ready yet. We try to beam into the resonance chamber now and we risk blowing up the Cuffe, not to mention half the quadrant.”

“Tell us what you need,” he said.

She aimed a grateful look at the junior lieutenant. “A moment of peace and quiet would probably–“

“Wounded incoming!”

An entire group of Starfleet security officers and Marines entered the chamber. Their uniforms torn and dirty and most of them were bleeding or badly scratched and bruised. Some had to be carried, some weren’t even conscious anymore.

Yuen quickly gestured toward the far corner were they had set up their temporary triage but the two medics looked as if they were going to be woefully underequipped to deal with number of injuries flooding in.

Mer’iab swiftly found the highest-ranking officer in the group, a stoic Andorian Marine who refused to get treatment before his men had been seen too. “Sergeant, what happened?”

He needed a moment to collect his thoughts. “Our position was overrun, sir. It looks like they threw everything they had at us. We cut them down one after the next but they just kept coming,” he paused for a moment, unwilling to loose himself. “They took us on man-to-man, even unarmed if they had to,” he said and looked the lieutenant square in the eye. “They are vicious fighters, sir. They don’t go down easy.”

“How much time do we have until they get here?” asked Yuen.

“I’m not sure. Ha’kar and his team were covering our retreat. It looked as if they were pushing the Xenarth back again but that won’t last. They’ll try again with larger numbers. And sir, the next time there won’t be any stopping them.”

The avian took the news in stride and gave the Marine a nod. “Have them see to your injuries,” he said. “The sooner you’re fixed up again the sooner you can rejoin the fray.”

The Andorian responded with a curt nod and then joined the rest of his men.

Mer’iab found Elborough again who to his displeasure was watching the injured instead of focusing on the generator and the ominously pulsating super-molecules contained within as they steadily bonded with each other in an effort to become the deadly and dangerous Omega molecule.

“Ensign.”

“I know, I know,” she barked and then quickly turned away from the agitated Aurelian. “Work faster or we’re all going to die,” she mumbled under her breath. “I got the message.”
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Old March 17 2013, 06:10 AM   #141
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

^ No pressure, though!

Excellent installment! The tension's getting thick enough to cut with a starship mounted drilling-phaser.
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Old March 17 2013, 07:12 PM   #142
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Cuffe, 2372

Terrence couldn’t quite remember ever having seen his bridge quite this busy. Most of the aft stations were double or even triple manned with men and women industriously going back and forth, coming and going, passing on padds and information in a seemingly endless stream.

His usually spacious bridge felt packed and the noise level was making it difficult for him to focus on the main screen where he watched with great apprehension a cutaway schematic of the underground Omega facility far below. Blue dots indicated their people while red dots were the enemy. At present there were far too many red dots, swarming all around the scattering blue ones.

“Sir, Meldin reports his team has located and destroyed all traces of boronite in the facility,” said Amanis Bheto from operations, her sharp voice cutting through the background noise on the bridge.

He nodded in acknowledgement even if she couldn’t see that from where she was sitting. “Finally some good news,” he said and focused in on the quadrant of the map where his security chief had led his team to destroy the one substance which was essential in synthesizing the Omega molecule. “Now we just have to worry about the generators. Tell Meldin to have his people assist the other teams to hold off the Xenarth.”

“No need,” she said. “Donners has already given the order.”

He couldn’t help himself but smirk. There had been a reason the rookie captain had practically demanded to be part of Operation Pandora’s Box on the ground. She had wanted to be close to the pulse and lead it from the front. She certainly was doing just that.

The Andorian ops officer turned in her chair to make eye contact with her commanding officer. “Sir, Meldin is reporting three fatalities.”

Terrence Glover nodded. The notion that he wouldn’t lose people on this mission had been an unrealistic fantasy. It certainly hadn’t been the first time he had lost people under his command and he knew it wouldn’t be the last. Right now he had no time to mourn. “Tell him to bring them back onboard, Commander. We’re not leaving anyone behind.”

“Aye, sir.”

Kojo walked up on him, studying a padd. “It’s not looking good down there,” she said.

“I’ve got eyes, Nandali, I can see that.”

She went on as if he hadn’t spoken. “Omega-Three has seventy percent of the molecules destroyed but team one and two are behind schedule and judging by the enemy troop movements they may not have enough time to complete the shut down procedures, scuttle the generators and make a clean exit.”

“Leave it to the Marines to get things done right, huh?” he said. “Get hold of Lieutenant Sh’Fane and let her know to speed things up any way she can and then have her people support the other teams holding back the Xenarth. That should buy them some time.”

The beautiful Kriosian warrior woman glanced up from her padd. “Donners is not going to like you armchair quarterbacking this.”

He aimed an amused look at her. “Armchair quarterbacking? Really?”

She looked momentarily confused. “Is that … not the right term?”

“I just didn’t know you knew football.”

“What’s football?” she said with a straight face.

“Relay the message, Commander,” he said. “She can get mad with me when she comes back out of this alive.”

She nodded with a faint smirk on her lips.

“Captain, I have the Agamemnon hailing,” said one of the three officers currently manning the tactical station.

“Put them through,” Glover barked.

An inset picture at the bottom of the screen showed the blue-skinned Bolian currently in command of the other starship while its captain was battling on the surface. The man’s brow was furled into thick worry lines and Glover couldn’t blame him for it. He could hardly hear him when he spoke over the noise all around him but the few words he did catch were not promising at all.

“Can I have some quite please,” he said.

Absolutely nobody on the bridge seemed to have been listening.

“Everybody shut up for one minute,” he barked, his booming voice momentarily freezing everyone to the spot. “Better,” he continued and looked back at Texx who looked slightly stunned himself. “Commander, you were giving me more bad news?”

He nodded slowly. “We’ve detected a vessel entering orbit around the moon.”

That captured everyone’s attention on Cuffe’s bridge. Terrence massaged his temples, fighting the urge to shout at somebody for not having been told this already. “More Xenarth reinforcements?”

Texx shook his head. “It’s not Xenarth. The design doesn’t match anything in our database but we’ve tracked its course and it seems to have originated from Hugh’s vessels last known position. It looks like a smaller version of his ship. A shuttle, most likely.”

“Son of a bitch is making a move,” said Glover, instantly regretting the fact that they had not kept closer watch on the liberated Borg who had already made their designs for the Omega particle unmistakably clear. After their ship had been torn apart, he and Donners had foolishly written them off as a potential threat. It was a mistake that was going to cost them now. “Please tell me we can intercept.”

But the apprehensive look on the Bolian’s face made his answer obvious even before he opened his mouth. “We’re out of position to get to them before they can enter orbit.”

Terrence glanced towards Jean Hajar but his helmswoman was already shaking her head. “I’ve got them on sensors. They’re entering orbit on the far side of the moon. We have no chance to intercept in time,” she said and then turned to look at him with an apologetic look on her face.

He uttered a heavy sigh. “Somebody get a hold of Donners and let her know that her life just got a whole lot more complicated. And I want four sets of eyes on the goddamned sensors twenty-four seven. No more surprises people.”
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Old March 17 2013, 11:01 PM   #143
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

And just when things couldn't get any worse...

... Holy *&(#!
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Old March 24 2013, 07:10 PM   #144
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Zenith, 2372


“I’m not willing to go down that route just yet.”

Maya had temporarily retreated to a quiet corner of the Omega generator room, not far from where they had set up their triage area, to touch base with Glover on Cuffe.

“I have about twenty very smart people up here, watching and analyzing every single move the Xenarth on the ground are making and every one of them agrees that we have to start pressing them harder or your teams will not last long enough to complete the mission.”

Not to far from where she stood, she found Chief Holly appraising her through his intense eyes, a concerned frown on his face made it clear to her that he was of similar conviction. In fact it had been the Chief who had made the suggestion to switch to a more aggressive tactic first.

She looked back at the padd which provided her the exact same data and troop movements that Glover and his officers were seeing from orbit. There where far too many red dots compared to their blue ones. “Meldin’s people have successfully reinforced the other two teams and holding the main Xenarth force at bay for now,” she said. “Some of the drones of the initial assault have survived and we’re getting them to outflank the Xenarth.”

“It’s not enough Maya, and you know it. In fact the way things are going, I’m not even sure if enacting lethal force at this point is going to give us enough time.”

“Then why are we having this discussion?” she said angrily. “What’s the difference?”

His voice responded with similar steel. “The difference is losing a handful of people or dozens.”

She had no immediate response to that and decided to change track. “How much time do I have until Hugh makes planetfall?”

“We just lost him on sensors so he’ll have to be close,” he said. Glover continued in a softer tone. “Listen to me, Maya, Hugh wasn’t exactly a happy Borg the last time we ran into him and I don’t know how many friends he’s bringing to the party. We have to assume his main goal is to secure Omega for himself.”

“I’m not going to let that happen,” she said.

“My point is, the stun setting may work on the Xenarth but it won’t do you much good against shielded Borg drones. Even if they’re no longer part of the collective.”

“I know.”

“Give the goddamn order or I will.”

“It’s my mission and my call,” she shot back. “I’m the one down here putting my life on the line.”

“It’s not just your life, Maya.”

“Keep me updated on any changes,” she said coolly. “Donners out,” she added and tapped her combadge to close the channel.

Not a moment after she had finished up with Terrence, Holly approached her. “That did not look like a pleasant conversation.”

A look was all Maya needed to confirm that theory.

“So I take it we continue as is for now?”

She considered the veteran Starfleet NCO for a moment. He hadn’t questioned her orders, had actively supported them in front of the men even after he had suggested they abandon their non-lethal tactics making it obvious that he was firmly in Glover’s camp on this. But it was clear to her that he was too loyal to his captain to even entertain the thought of siding against her on this issue.

“I’m just not ready to give the order to kill these people, Chief,” she said. “No matter how we want to justify it, we’re the invaders here. We’re the ones who came here looking for a fight. The Xenarth are just defending what is theirs.”

“What is theirs could end up destroying half the galaxy,” he said.

“Perhaps,” she said. “But do you think the grunts know that?” she added and shook her head. “There is something very wrong about this picture and I’m not going to be the one punishing Xenarth rank and file for the mistakes of their government.”

“One could argue that that’s exactly the definition of war.”

“Exactly. And we’re not at war.”

Holly nodded even though he couldn’t entirely hide the doubt in his eyes. “I have a suggestion to make which may buy us some extra time.”

“I’m all ears.”

“We’ve got more than enough tri-cobalt to obliterate half a dozen Omega generators,” he said, referring to the explosives they had brought to scuttle the generators once they had successfully destroyed the volatile molecules within. He gently asked for the padd Donners was still holding and she quickly handed it over. He manipulated the device so it displayed a schematic of their current surroundings and then pointed at the main corridor which led into the generator room and from which most of the Xenarth attack had originated from. “We could set up some of the explosives in this passageway, which I would imagine would slow down any Xenarth force trying to reach us significantly.”

Maya smiled. “Best idea I’ve heard all day,” she said. “Get on that, Chief, will you?”

He gave her a firm nod and headed out.

Donners’ next stop was the reason they were here in the first place, the massive, snow-globe like Omega generator at which Daystrom and a couple of technicians were currently working on. The sooner they managed to shut the device down and neutralize the molecules, the sooner they could pull back out.

She found her science chief deeply involved in a comm. channel conversation. “Sounds to me like you’ve go the right frequency, what’s the molecular integrity look like now?”

“I’d say around sixty-seven, sixty-eight percent.”

“Good, good,” he said. “That should give you enough time. Now, remember the power drain has to remain constant but should not exceed point zero zero two megahertz to allow the molecule to naturally destabilize. And keep an eye on the phase variance.”

“Okay, I think we’re good. Integrity is now at a negative rate, point two percent per minute.”

“We need to find a way to get that up.”

Overhearing their conversation, Maya was pleased to find that Elborough was now well underway to have her reactor shut down. With the news that Sh’Fane and Altoss had already neutralized the third device, she felt renewed hope that they were back on schedule to complete the mission.

Just before she was about to turn around and leave her science officer to do his job she froze, suddenly realizing a painful truth. While Daystrom was talking the younger officer through the process step-by-step, he was not actually tending to the generator in this room, instead keeping his eyes focused on a data padd and taping away as he spoke to Elborough.

The generator in the background was pulsating with barely contained power just as intensely as it had the moment they had arrived.

“Lieutenant,” she said as she stepped closer.

The young officer looked up.

“Progress report,” she said.

“Uh, yes, sir,” he said, clearly slightly taken aback by her sharp tone. “Team 3 has successfully shut down their generator. I expect the second generator to be shut down within the next twenty minutes at this rate.”

She gave him a short nod. “How about this one?” she said, looking at the throbbing device behind him.

He turned and then stared at it as if he had seen it there for the first time.

“Wayne, what’s going on?” asked a clearly concerned Elborough.

Donners stepped next to the man. “Ensign, this is the captain. It sounds to me you’ve got things in hand. I need you to close the channel and proceed on your own.”

“Yes … yes, sir,” she said. “Elborough out.”

“She needs my help,” he said without really taking his eyes of the generator he was supposed to be tending to.

“Never mind, Elborough, what’s happening to this one. How close are we to shutting it down?” she said, keeping her eyes peeled on the science officer.

“I’m not sure … I can, sir.”

Maya massaged her temples. She didn’t need this. Not now. She had been so busy focusing on the assault and their quickly diminishing chances of mission success that she had entirely neglected on checking on Daystrom’s progress. Considering his early and vocal protests in regard to this mission, she mentally berated herself now for this grave oversight. “What do you mean?”

He looked at her gingerly. “Molecular integrity is already well passed eight-eight percent and they are beginning to bond at an ever accelerating rate,” he said. “Captain, it’s amazing and a far more controlled synthesis than we ever expected. When I first ran my simulations back at the Academy I never anticipated such a smooth bonding process even in my most optimistic predictions. It’s almost as if they want to come together naturally. A billion pieces, desperate to form a whole.”

“Wayne—”

“Captain, listen,” he said, sounding almost euphoric now. “This isn’t at all what we thought it be. Omega is supposed to be an artificial construct, never before observed in nature. But what I’m seeing here, it’s almost as if its … well, intelligent.”

She shot the pulsating mass a suspicious look. “You’re telling me these particles are alive?”

He shook his head quickly. “No, not in the traditional sense. But they behave in such a perfect pattern, it’s as if they are coming together naturally and not artificially. It’s as if the Xenarth inadvertently discovered a missing link in the fabric of the universe.”

“This all sounds very interesting but I don’t see how—“

“It’s a natural phenomenon, Captain. We might very well be looking at not just a missing link but the missing link. This could be the force that created our galaxy. Strike that, the universe. This could be the intelligence behind everything we know.”

Maya’s head was beginning to spin, not having expected the sudden introduction of metaphysics and existential philosophy while in the middle of an intricate assault mission. Then she remembered the hundreds of lives she had placed into harm’s way and which would depend on the decisions she’d make over the next few minutes. “How long to shut it all down, Lieutenant.”

He aimed an incredulous look at her. “Captain, I don’t think you understand—“

“Maybe I don’t, but what I do understand is that we’ve come here to destroy Omega before it has a chance to destroy us. And if we can’t do that within the next few minutes, we’re all going to die on this rock,” she said and her hand actually moved towards her phaser. “Don’t lose focus on the mission now, Wayne. I beg you.”

His eyes grew wider when he realized the veiled threat in her tone and movements. Cleary he didn’t expect her to become aggressive, in the short time he had known her she had never given him the reason that she’d be capable of it. But her entire body language had changed now. He actual took a step backwards and towards the generator, almost as if trying to protect it from her growing fury. “If … if you discovered a new form of life … would you simply kill it? Would you not have a moral responsibility to preserve it no matter what?”

“You just told me that this is not a life-form,” she nearly barked.

A few security officers and Marines nearby now turned their way and closed in, Chief Holly first among them, now that the captain was clearly becoming agitated by the science officer's growing defiance.

He shook his head. “It isn’t. Not really. It’s … it’s more like the beginning of all life.”

Maya took a deep breath, for the first time realizing that her frustration had gotten he better of her. “The beginning or the end, Wayne?”

“Sir?”

She took a quick look around the room and all the faces now focused on the confrontation between her and Daystrom. Between science and command. Then she turned back to look the man square in the eye. “I’m no scientist, Wayne, but tell me this, if Omega was truly behind the Big Bang, how can we possibly know that it won’t do so again? We’re looking at a massively powerful force here which is inherently unstable and according to you may have had the power to start all life. By that definition, does it not have the power to end all life? Ask yourself a simple question, Wayne. Do you want to be responsible for that? For starting another Big Bang?”

Daystrom looked momentarily mystified as if he hadn’t considered that possibility at all. No doubt thoughts of his great-grandfather’s fanatical obsession which had driven him near insane now crossed his mind. “Captain, I don’t—“

“Incoming.”

Maya whipped around, her phaser in hand before she had completed the turn, expecting a horde of Xenarth soldiers to come flooding into the chamber. Instead she saw something far worse.

Borg.
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Old March 25 2013, 12:06 AM   #145
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Wow, Holy Existential Angst, Batman!

Things finally come to a head with Daystrom, who’s proving just as obsessive as his grandfather did. The tactical situation is growing worse by the minute, and now Maya’s butting heads with Glover in orbit.

Oh, and now there’s the Borg to worry about, too. Maya’s lost her team’s early advantage of surprise, and now it’s going to come down to a bloody, bare-knuckle brawl with the Xenarth and the Free Borg.

Place yer bets…
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Old March 26 2013, 07:43 PM   #146
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Dayum! That's unexpected. In the middle of combat operations things start getting all metaphysical. That always complicates things.

Daystrom's obsession is entirely believable, especially with Omega acting the way it is. Indeed, I can see his point of view. Perhaps destroying Omega is the wrong thing after all...
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Old March 30 2013, 05:45 PM   #147
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Hugh and his fifteen-man strong landing party materialized in a swirl of green energy, their transporter clearly able to overcome the Omega radiation which had not allowed the Starfleet assault teams to enter the facility in the same manner.

The former drones, covered from head to toe with dark, black cybernetic implants, wires and tubes, immediately took on defensive postures, raising their arms and their wrist mounted weapons at the startled Starfleet officers and Marines in the room.

The hesitation didn’t last long. Seconds after the Borg party had fully materialized, every single rifle was promptly pointed at the new threat. Maya already knew that it wasn’t going to be enough. While never having faced the Borg before in ground combat, she knew enough that this was not a battle she could afford. Not with a horde of Xenarth soldiers just around the corner, trying to wipe them out before they completed their mission.

“Hold you fire,” she said and stepped forward, Master Chief Holly and Chief V’Ner immediately flanking her. She shot Hugh a wide smile. Charm had worked on Glover, maybe it work on a former Borg drone. “Nice of you to drop by. Next time I’d appreciate a bit of a heads-up.”

Hugh and his right-hand man, Goval, shifted their arms to draw a bead on the starship captain which in turned caused a nervous reaction by the assembled Starfleet team.

Maya did the opposite. She holstered her phaser and raised her arms. “You wouldn’t shoot an unarmed woman now, would you?”

“Captain, we don’t have the time for this,” Holly whispered. “The Xenarth are almost on top of us.”

She ignored the well-founded advice for now and much to his chagrin took another small step towards the Borg. “We’ve covered this already, remember? We’re not enemies here.”

The tactic seemed to work. Hugh lowered his arm.

Goval and the others did not.

“You plan to destroy Particle 010. We will not allow this,” said Hugh’s chief lieutenant.

“And you are willing to go through all of us to get it?” she asked. “What about the Xenarth. Would you risk for it to fall into the hands of a race clearly not prepared for this kind of power?”

“The Xenarth are irrelevant,” Goval said. “And so are you.”

That caused another murmur to go through the Starfleet teams. Now even the injured at the triage point were trying to get up, ready to face what seemed like an inevitable showdown with the Borg. Every Starfleet officer’s worst nightmare.

“You notice how you started sounding just like your brothers in the collective? Is this all it takes to revert you back to being a mindless drone?” said Maya, her voice taking on an edge.

It only made Goval angry. “You will not be able to stop us by talking us down, human. Particle 010 will be ours.”

But Maya kept her eyes on Hugh, realizing that he had not said a single word yet, choosing instead to silently watch and appraise. She couldn’t be certain if it was because he was considering what she was saying or perhaps to figure out the best assault strategy while surrounded by Starfleet troops.

Maya had no illusions. If it came to a fight now, they’d lose before the smoke would get a chance to settle. Taking down the Borg would be difficult enough, but even if they survived this, they wouldn’t the Xenarth onslaught in their weakened state.

“It does not have to be like this,” Hugh finally said.

Both Maya and Goval glanced at the Borg leader, not fully understanding what he had meant by this.

Then he focused on Donners. “If you just step aside and allow us to take what we came for, we will remove it from this place and ensure the Xenarth will never be able to attempt to synthesize it again. We will take it far away from here.”

It was a damn good argument, Maya had to agree. Just let the damn Borg have it and be done with it. And it would certainly solve one of her problems. Her mission would be over and she could get her people out of harm’s way. And it wasn’t as if these were real Borg, who’d use Omega against innocents. Hugh, from all she had heard and read about him, was a conscientious individual, able to reason and use his power responsibly.

She was tempted to give in. All she had to do was to stand down and let Hugh’s Borg take what they wanted and this nightmare would be over.

Patience was clearly not one of Goval’s virtues. He took another step forward. “You will comply.”

Maya turned to look at Chief Holly just behind her. He still had his rifle up but he was looking at her, almost as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. He shook his head marginally.

Then she spotted Wayne Daystrom, also holding a phaser now. The man had been her most vocal advocate for the preservation of the Omega molecule. He took a step towards her when he noticed her eyes on him. “This … this is not right,” he said, his voice small and without real confidence.

“You will comply, now.”

The Borg’s firm voice seemed to change something in the science officer. His expression grew more tense and his voice firmer. He clutched his weapon tightly. “Captain, we can’t let them have it. I’d rather see it destroyed.”

“Enough talk,” the former Borg drone said and moved forward.

“Goval,” said Hugh.

“No,” he shot back, aiming a quick glance at his leader. “Every second we talk we further delay the inevitable. Particle 010 must be ours. You know that.”

When Goval turned back around, he did so firing.

“Captain, watch out,” Chief Holly cried and pushed her down just in time to avoid being struck by the ugly green bolt of angry energy.

Starfleet and Marines did not hesitate after seeing the Borg taking a potshot at their captain.

In the opening moments of the firefight, two former Borg drones were immediately cut down, one Marine was hit by the Borg returning fire and three Starfleet officers went down with injuries. After the initial exchange of weapon’s fire, everyone scrambled, using the many bulky computer consoles and equipment crates littered throughout the chamber for cover.

“Watch you fire, watch your fire,” a panicked Daystrom cried form the top of his lungs as he hid behind a console near to the Omega generator. “If you hit the containment field we’re all dead.”

Thankfully both the Starfleet team and Hugh’s Borg seemed to understand this and limited their fire, shooting only when there was no chance of hitting the one thing they were fighting for.

Maya had found cover behind a large crate and listened intently. She heard the telltale sounds of phaser burst and disruptor blasts all around her. She recalled her ground combat training. Rule number one: Avoid at all costs to get into a ground combat situation.

She almost laughed out loud at the thought. Long passed that.

Another rule that training officers had tried to drill into cadets at the Academy was to listen carefully. If you couldn’t avoid getting into a battle, good chances were you’d sit behind some sort of cover without being able to see who is firing and in what direction. The last thing you wanted to do was to pop out at the most inopportune moment and be rewarded with a phaser blast right into your face.

A mistake many impatient young Starfleet officers made, too eager to try and hit an enemy than considering the tactical soundness.

Phaser blast. Disruptor. Phaser. Disruptor. Disruptor. Phaser. Disruptor.

There was almost a beautiful harmony to this battle for life and death. And very soon it became predictable.

She waited for the inevitable lull just after another set of phaser blasts had been unleashed. Then she made her move, coming up from behind cover and immediately noticed the sole Borg trying to return fire on the Starfleet position.

Maya held her breath, steadying her type-III phaser against her right shoulder and gently depressed the firing stub. Her aim was true and her enemy stumbled backwards. Three more phaser blast caught the now unprotected Borg and slinging him to the floor, hopefully unconscious.

Chief Holly used the distraction to make his way to Donners’ position, firing his rifle as he went to discourage somebody trying to take him down as he stepped into the open.

Maya was back behind cover when he joined her. “Thanks for that earlier,” she said.

He simply nodded before peeking up to once again return fire. When he came back down, he aimed a serious look at the captain. “We cannot keep this up.”

“Casualties?”

“Beck is down, not sure yet how bad,” he said, referring to the Marine who had taken a blast right to the chest when the shooting had started.

“Damn it.”

“It’s worse than that,” he said. “Last we checked the Xenarth were less than ten minutes away from making their—“

The veteran NCO didn’t get to finish his sentence. As it turned out, ten minutes had been a far too optimistic an estimate. The Xenarth were coming right that moment, streaming into the chamber in full force, determined to take back what was theirs.

Hugh’s men and the Starfleet contingent were not prepared to face a third party, too busy trying to take on each other. The Xenarth used their spear-like weapons to impale three unlucky Borg near the main entrance and another Starfleet officer before they could scramble out of the way.

Maya watched in horror from her position. There were at least two dozen insectoid warriors storming the chamber and probably a few more right behind them. “Fall back, fall back,” she shouted to her people nearest to the entrance and fired at the incoming horde. Then she whipped around to look at the Chief. “Do we still have the option to detonate that hallway?”

He shook his head sharply. “Didn’t get the chance to set up the detonator.”

She frowned and returned to firing her weapon. The effect was negligible even when Holly and a number of other Starfleet team members joined in. Their phasers, set on heavy stun, caused most of the Xenarth streaming in to stumble, some fell and others seemed to lose consciousness but a many did not. And their numbers simply refused to go down. For every soldier they managed to take out of the fight, two more appeared.

Matters were made worse by the fact the battle had turned into a massive free-for-all. Starfleet fighting the Xenarth, Xenarth fighting Borg, Borg fighting Starfleet, everyone and anyone was apparently fair game now.

The only constant so far was that everybody was going out of their way to keep the battle as far away from the pulsating Omega generator as possible, apparently fully cognizant of the immense power it could unleash if an errant blast would take out the protective containment shielding.

Holly shook his head and Maya understood why. This was not going to end well. At this pace both Starfleet and Hugh’s people would eventually get worn down by the relentless Xenarth push, especially if they continued to fight each other.

“You will not have 010,” cried Goval, his modulated voice mirroring anger and frustration. Maya watched in disbelieve as he left his cover, firing relentlessly at the incoming Xenarth without a thought to his own safety.

“Goval, no!” shouted Hugh.

But the former drone was determined to stop the insectoids dead in their track, no matter the cost. “Secure 010, I’ll hold them off.”

And he did an admirable job at that. Blasting the enemy soldiers with almost perfect accuracy, taking them down with one headshot after the next, before firing point blank as he got closer and closer. He deftly deflected the spears looking to impale him, using his superior strength to rip one right out of a surprised Xenarth hands, before using that same weapon to slash and stab at the horde bearing down on him.

But the plan was flawed. There were simply too many for one man, even a former Borg drone, to battle head on. Before long he was overwhelmed. He stayed upright even after multiple lances penetrated his body but when his wrist mounted disruptor gave out and his spear wielding arm was dislocated, he found himself defenseless.

Hugh never got the chance to carry out Goval’s suggestion and even though he and his men did their best to keep up a constant spray of disruptor fire, it was far too little to save the former drone.

“This is insanity,” said Maya. “Cover me.”

“Captain, no,” cried Holly but found himself as helpless as Hugh had been when he had watched his man’s self-sacrifice. He let out a little sigh of relief when he realized that she had no intention to follow Goval’s example. And yet he couldn’t help but feel that what she intended wasn’t much less ill-conceived.

She zigzagged through the chamber and right towards Hugh’s position, managing in the process, to avoid a few Borg trying to bring her down, as well as the Xenarth soldiers and her own people’s phaser blasts.

She slid the last few meters until she got behind another crate, just a couple of meters away from were Hugh had sought cover.

The Borg leader noticed her immediately and lifted his wrist canon in her direction. She responded in kind with her hand phaser. But then she flipped the weapon up and away from him. “Truce?”

“What do you want?” he barked angrily. The fact that he had not fired his weapon yet however was a promising sign.

“We can’t hold out against this if we fight each other. Let us combine our forces. I think we can agree that neither of us wants to see the Xenarth getting their hands on Omega again.”

“He … he sacrificed himself for us to get a chance to obtain Particle 010,” he said, his wrist wavering slightly, clearly shook up over what he had just witnessed.

“I know, I saw,” she said.

“You want to destroy it.”

“Right now, I just want to survive the next ten minutes,” she said. “Tell you what, we push back this wave together and afterwards we’ll go back to figure out what to do about Omega. Do we have deal?” Maya had to duck suddenly when one of the Xenarth spears came flying her way, missing her by inches.

Hugh seemed torn.

“What would your friends back on the Enterprise think?”

He glared at her. “This is bigger than my friendships,” he said. “This is—“

“I know, I know, it’s your goddamned Holy Grail. Help me keep the Xenarth from using it to blow us all to kingdom come.”

His nod was barely perceivable but he lowered his wrist before aiming it once more at the Xenarth who by now had made significant inroads into the chamber, taking up cover positions near the entrance.”

The message was quickly received by both Hugh’s men and the Starfleet contingent. A temporary alliance had been struck, allowing both parties to focus on their common enemy.

And yet it was still not enough. The Xenarth kept pushing forward, reinforcements still streaming in.

Chief Holly had eventually followed Donners. His frowned seemed to have been permanently etched into his weathered features by now. “We lost two more,” he said. “Mueller and T’Lok. Mueller is dead.”

“Can we win this Chief, tell me straight.”

His response was immediate. “No,” he said. “Not unless we up the ante. And a miracle or two couldn’t hurt either.”

He didn’t have to explain what he meant by upping the ante. Maya took a couple of seconds to consider this, seeing another former Borg going down as he was impaled by one of the Xenarth spears which they were able to throw with uncanny accuracy.

“The Xenarth are overrunning all our positions, Captain,” Holly continued. “At this point nobody will survive this mission.”

The truth hurt. She had wanted to avoid taking the next step at any cost. Maya had already been devastated over their decision to assault a sovereign Xenarth installation in order to secure and destroy Omega. She had not wanted to play the role of the belligerent party. But over two hundred officer’s lives now depended on her next decision.

She made the hardest call of her life and hit her combadge. “This is the captain to all hands. Use whatever means necessary to push the Xenarth back. I say again, whatever means necessary,” she said. “The use of lethal force has been authorized.”
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Old April 7 2013, 07:07 PM   #148
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

“The use of lethal force has been authorized.”

“Finally, the gloves come off,” said Mer’iab and promptly dialed up his phaser rifle all the way to eleven. It was the setting that had shown to be most effective against the Xenarth exoskeleton during their pre-mission simulations.

He had admired the captain’s initial restraint and her orders not to kill the enemy even if the opposition force clearly had no such scruples. Considering the size of the Xenarth contingent and the scope of the mission, it had been a laudable ambition. He had known it wasn’t going to be tenable the moment after their first contact with the enemy.

He wasn’t even sure if it would make much of a difference at this point. The chamber had come under heavy enemy attack and the only reason they had not yet been overrun outright, he guessed, was because the Xenarth were throwing most of their weight against Omega One, the captain’s team.

As a security chief, he hated the idea that he was nowhere near his commanding officer after she had made the—in his eyes—foolhardy decision to join the ground assault. For now he had to focus to keep the people in this chamber alive and the sooner he was able to beat back the Xenarth hordes, the sooner he could try and check in on the captain.

Unfortunately an end was simply not in sight.

“Keep at their flank,” he shouted at the injured Andorian Marine sergeant who nevertheless had been amongst the first to pick up a rifle after the Xenarth had made their first push. “Keep them from penetrating deeper into the chamber and away from the generator at all cost.”

Mer’iab fired his own, now deadly phaser rifle, one handed even as he shouted out orders to his men. His accuracy didn’t suffer and a handful of surprised insectoids went down quickly after being impaled by red-hot lances of phased energy.

Their assault had been rather unfocused thus far, putting emphasis on their higher numbers instead of on any strategy to efficiently secure the chamber. They were further hamstrung by orders they must have been given to limit their own fire, mindful of the Omega generator in the room.

“Lieutenant, behind you,” Yuen cried out when he saw a Xenarth trying to sneak up on the avian from behind, having somehow managed to slip by their defenses.

Yuen needn’t have worried.

Without even turning Mer’iab unfurled one of his wings which snapped backwards like a released rubber band, sweeping the insectoid clean off his feet. A well placed phaser blast by Yuen made sure he’d never get up again.

If the security officer was holding out for any sign of gratitude by the avian, he was going to wait a long time. Instead Mer’iab shot him the briefest of glances. “Get Elborough to finish this up yesterday.”

Yuen nodded sharply and then went to find the science officer.

He did. She was cowering behind an equipment crate close to the still pulsating, globe-shaped generator.

“A.J.”, he said as he kneeled next to the petrified woman. “How’s it going?” he added with an easy smile.

She looked up at him as if he had lost his mind. “What do you think?”

“We really need you to finish up with that generator,” he said and threw a thumb over his shoulder. “It’s why we’re all here, you know.”

“Can we … can we wait until the shooting stops?” she asked with a very small voice.

“Don’t think it’s going to,” he said and held out his hand to her. “Come on, I keep you covered.”

“Promise?”

“Cross my heart,” he said and then pulled her back on her feet only to watch her flinch at the sound of battle all around her.

She nodded at his reassuringly easy smile and made her way back towards the generator while Yuen took position by the crate, taking a knee and bringing his phaser rifle to bear. He found no lack of targets as the Xenarth made another push to re-claim the chamber.

Mer’iab noticed this as well. Firing his now deadly weapon with pinpoint accuracy and watching dozens of Xenarth warriors fall, the difference it made, it appeared, was negligible.

“Grenades! Give me grenades on the opening right now,” he shouted as he lifted off the ground just in time to avoid a concentrated barrage of enemy fire on his position. He glided back down gracefully near where a number of his men had taken cover.

His order was followed promptly and numerous cylindrical-shaped explosives were lobed towards the entrance which continued to funnel in warriors by the dozens.

“Get down,” he shouted and unfurled his wings over the men around him to cover them from the impending explosion.

The shockwave flattened Elborough. “What the hell?” she said as she tried to get back onto her feet. But before she could turn to see what had happened, she felt a strong hand holding her arm. She turned to see Yuen’s dirt covered face.

“Leave that to us, ok? Just focus on the generator.”

She nodded hesitantly.

“Once this is all over, I’ll take you out for a drink,” he added with a little smirk.

“Sounds … fair,” she responded. “But don’t let them do this again or we’re all going to regret this,” she added and turned back to the Omega device with a smile on her face she wasn’t quite able to dispel.

Mer’iab’s first instinct was to check on the most sensitive machine in the room after he had recovered from the massive explosion and the chamber had stopped shaking. He found the generator no worse to wear and noticed with satisfaction that Yuen was keeping a close eye on their skittish science officer.

He glanced back at the opening but all he could see was dust.

“Cover me,” he said before he easily leaped up from where he stood and glided towards the entrance, touching down just a handful of meters in front of the still settling dust cloud.

As much as he tried, it seemed impossible to see what lay beyond. His solution was surprisingly simple. He unfurled his wings once more and flapping them forward, he used them like a giant fan.

The shape which emerged from the now dissipating cloud caused him to hesitate for a moment as it did not seem to be consistent with what he had come to expect a Xenarth warrior to look like.

Too late did he realize that his first impression had been mistaken. The eight limbs outlined in the haze made it all too clear that he was facing another Xenarth, albeit one much larger than any he had encountered before. He came to regret his momentary hesitation when the massive figure launched itself forward with speed and agility belling its size and hit him with a bone-jarring tackle and with such force that for a moment he felt as if he had been hit by a starship at warp speed.

He went down hard with the massive Xenarth jumped on top of him.

“I will enjoy ripping those wings off your body,” the clearly feminine voice hissed as they struggled on the cold and dirty floor. “You will come to rue the day you faced the Warrior Queen.”

Mer’iab was hardly even aware that the Xenarth leader had not come alone, too preoccupied was he to keep her razor-sharp mandibles from separating his head from his body. He had lost his phaser rifle when she had jumped him and the queen herself appeared to be unarmed, apparently eager to kill her opponent with her bare hands. And the odds were squarely in her favor, considering she not only had the size-advantage, he was also outnumbered by the number of hands she had available to her. Two of which pummeled his midsection, one kept a tight grip on his throat while he struggled to keep the fourth away from his beak, no doubt trying to crush it.

His men were in no position to help. The queen had led another wave of warriors into the chamber which kept the Starfleet assault team beyond occupied.

He was not the last to realize that this wave was perhaps the fiercest yet and judging by the way they were throwing themselves at the assault team, it seemed they had been given orders to take back the chamber no matter the cost, and the cost, it appeared, meant overwhelming the intruder with superior numbers in close quarter melee combat.

Having apparently given up on the idea on taking on the Starfleet assault team from a distance and having been constantly outgunned in the process, the battle was quickly turning up-close and personal.

It was a fight, Mer’iab knew they couldn’t win.

The Xenarth soldiers were simply far better equipped to wage such a battle with their armored exoskeleton, razor-sharp mandibles and multi-purpose weaponry which they were able to wield either as a piercing spear or punishing staff.

They had no choice but to fight.

A few of the Marines had managed to snatch up some of the weapons the Xenarth had dropped and were holding their own for the moment while the wounded were being evacuated away from the immediate combat area.

Remembering everything they had leaned about the Xenarth in their pre-mission investigations, Mer’iab managed to land a quick and vicious hit to the lightest armored part of his opponent’s torso, buying himself a few seconds and just enough time to escape her immediate clutches and get some separation from the ferocious warrior.

He appraised her for a brief moment. She was nothing like Queen Ket or even most of the warriors they had faced so far. This Xenarth stood easily seven and half foot tall, with wide, powerful shoulders and thick arms.

She practically ripped two spear weapons away from a couple of astonished Xenarth soldiers and immediately began to wield them expertly and in a manner which reminded Mer’iab a little bit of a Klingon Dahar master working a bat’leth sword.

Her large compound eyes made contact with his and an immediate understanding passed between them. They were both leaders of their respective factions and for a moment there was an almost unspoken, if begrudging respect between them, even in the middle of this battlefield thrown into chaos. Warrior to warrior, for just an instant, they were the same, regardless of all their differences, physiological as well as philosophical.

That moment passed in a heartbeat, replaced by the absolute certainty that the outcome of this battle could only be determined by whoever was left standing at the end.

Ignoring all her little drones, Mer’iab charged the Xenarth Warrior Queen.

While the avian security chief usually preferred stealth when facing off a formidable opponent, there was little place for him to hide here and she saw him coming from a mile away, fully prepared for his assault.

He deftly dodged the first staff which had been aimed at his head but was less successful evading the second which she wielded like a lance and which struck him in his side, tearing through uniform and plumage.

Pain and blood were nothing knew to the Aurelian and he pressed on regardless. Coming up just behind the giant insectoid, he kicked hard against the back of where he thought her knees were located.

When she didn’t go down the way he had hoped, he wished for a moment he’d spent more time with Ket to study Xenarth anatomy.

The queen merely stumbled and then brought one of her weapons around in a wide arch, designed to strike his neck. The strength of the blow would surely have crushed his windpipe instantly.

Instead he managed to roll out of the way.

When he come up again he grabbed hold of her second spear, hoping to be able to dislodge it from her firm grip.

It was a complete no-go. Her strength was simply too great and the fact that she was able to hold on to it with two of her hands, made it nearly impossible for him to even the odds in that manner.

She high-kicked him into his chest, causing him to fly backwards and land hard against a near wall where he collapsed to the floor.

Her mandibles seemed to turn into something akin to a smirk as she bore down on him, entirely ignoring the battle raging around them.

Mer’iab needed a moment to catch his breath even though he was fully cognizant that it was a moment he didn’t have. She had already raised both weapons, turning the gleaming spikes into his direction, no doubt planning a twin penetration of his torso.

That’s when he heard phaser fire. A lot of it.

He knew immediately it wasn’t coming from his people as they were too busy fending for their lives in close quarter combat.

The Warrior Queen had heard it too and turned her head to find the source of this unexpected commotion.

The security chief noticed the blue blur flying through the air perhaps half a second before the queen did. By then of course it was far too late for her to bring up her defenses.

The Andorian had catapulted herself into the air somehow, probably by jumping on top of a nearby computer station and brought her entire weight down onto the Xenarth leader in a flying, high-body tackle.

They both crashed to the floor.

Mer’iab was both relieved and disgusted at the same time. Had Beatiar Sh’Fane just saved his life? If so he would never hear the end of it.

The Andorian Marine commander however had made the same mistake he had done just moment ago. Underestimating the Xenarth queen’s strength. Using her upper arms, she easily pushed the much smaller female off her and used her lower arms to prop herself back up.

Sh’Fane hadn’t expected that much force but somehow managed to land on her feet nevertheless, landing close to Mer’iab with one boot and one knee on the ground, the momentum causing her to slip backwards across the floor.

She turned her head see the security chief pushing himself up to his full height. “I had this covered,” he said, without ever taking his eyes off his opponent.

“You’re welcome,” she responded, also avoiding eye contact and keeping them focused on the massive Xenarth instead.

“It does not matter how many of you there are,” said the Queen, with angry clicking sounds dotting her words. “You cannot defeat me.”

“Then why do you suddenly sound so desperate?” Mer’iab shot back. Witty repartee wasn’t normally part of his fighting style but right now he needed any advantage he could get.

The other advantage? Sh’Fane’s leaping tackle had knocked both of her weapons out of her hands and they were now lying unused just between them.

All three fighters seemed to notice this at the exact same moment and leaped into action once more.

Mer’iab got there first, scooping up the spear/staff before any of her many limbs could reach it. He got his fingers on the second one as well and threw it towards the Andorian who easily pulled it out of the air as if she had been fighting with such weapons all her life.

The avian had just enough time to bring his weapon up to block a double punch the queen was throwing his way. And even tough deflected at the last moment, the force of the impact was almost as powerful as if she had landed a direct hit.

Sh’Fane didn’t hesitate and swinging with both hands, she struck the Xenarth across the head, breaking off parts of a mandible in the process.

The queen uttered an ear-numbing, high-pitched shriek but instead of letting it slow her down, it apparently only made her stronger. And madder.

She reached out for the staff still being held by the Andorian with lightning speed and to her utter surprise, lifted her clean off the floor and then, unbelievably, right over her head, causing the Marine to perform an involuntary, circus-like leap, flying high into air, going right over the Xenarth and then coming down hard behind her, crashing into the unforgiving floor and landing on her back with a sick crunch and a loud groan of pain.

Mer’iab made the mistake of getting distracted by Sh’Fane’s scary landing, not immediately realizing that the Xenarth had kept hold of her weapon and that it was now coming in fast for his head.

This time his dodge came too late and the staff struck him hard in the right shoulder, knocking him off his feet and causing him to land on the floor, painfully holding on to his dislocated shoulder.

The Xenarth uttered a hysterical laugh from seeing both her opponent at her feet. Or at least Mer’iab thought it was laughter.

He looked over to see if Sh’Fane was still breathing. “Lieutenant, are you still with me?”

The Andorian had somehow managed to roll over onto her stomach but when she tried to pull herself off the floor she just flopped back down when her strength gave out. He was relieved to find that her back, at the very least, didn’t appear broken. “I think … I may need … a minute.”

Ignoring the pain in his side and shoulder, Mer’iab willed himself back onto his knees. “Don’t have a minute.”

As if to stress her point, the Warrior Queen swung her weapon again, once again trying to crush the avian’s head. This time he saw it coming and rolled out of the way coming back up right next to the fallen Marine.

He noted with some satisfaction that the Warrior Queen had slowed down now. Possibly because she no longer saw the two injured aliens as a major threat but more likely because her own strength was failing after the painful blow she had taken to her face.

Mer’iab, still on his knees, placed a hand onto Sh’Fane’s shoulder. “I hate to say this,” he said, “but right about now I could really use your help.”

She actually managed a smile at that, even through bleeding lips and possibly a broken nose. “I think … that just may be … worth it.”

“Can you get up?”

She tried again. “If you’re up … I’m up,” she said and managed to get on her knees with his help, breathing hard and clearly not without sharp pain.

Mer’iab watched the huge Xenarth slowly bearing down on them, still holding on to her weapon and getting ready for a final blow, this time no doubt planning on taking out both her opponent’s in one devastating attack.

“I need you to distract her for a little bit while I try something else,” he said quietly.

“What do you have in mind?”

He shot her a playful look. “Think holodeck.”

She nodded with understanding, responding with a knowing smirk of her own. Then she focused on the approaching insectoid. “Make it fast, will you? This dance is not going to last.”

“Be right back,” he said and took off in a run.

“No you won’t,” the Xenarth hissed, not willing to entertain the notion that one of them was going to get away and deprive her of a justified double kill. She quickly spun her weapon around, ready to throw it with deadly strength and accuracy to perforate the fleeing avian.

Just as she was about to bring her arms forward to release her missile, Sh’Fane charged with a roaring battle cry, hailing back to the ancient warrior days of her forefathers.

This time she went low, tackling the surprised queen around her legs. She managed to get the spear off but her aim was untrue and instead of piercing her target it found a hapless Xenarth who immediately sagged to the ground after being penetrated with a sickening crunch.

The Warrior Queen was unable to keep her balance and dropped like a felled tree. The moment she was down, Sh’Fane jumped on top of her and began punching her repeatedly and viciously in the face.

And had she fought another humanoid, her fists would have made short work of that face. Instead she was up against the hardened exoskeleton of an insectoid and while she managed to do some damage to her large eyes and feelers, the pounding was doing just as much damage to her gloved fists.

The Xenarth intercepted her tireless blows with her lower arms and then responded in kind with her upper hands, smashing the momentarily paralyzed Andorian right into her own face. The third blow was strong enough to get her off her chest.

The Warrior Queen stood once more but this time grabbed hold of Sh’Fane by the collar of her fatigues and lifted her up a good eight feet into the air, holding her above her and considering the bleeding, dazed and seemingly beaten down woman in her grasp.

“You are so soft and fragile,” she said with obvious disgust. “That’s why you humanoids are so weak. That’s why you’ll never stand a chance against the might of the Xenarth Colony.”

The look she was getting in return was apparently not quite what the Warrior Queen had expected. She tilted her head slightly, perhaps an expression of confusion upon noticing that twinkle in her opponent’s eyes and the unmistakable crack of a smile on those blue and busted lips.

She brought up her upper arms to finish her for once and for all. “There is nothing you should be amused about. This is your end, little humanoid.”

Sh’Fane’s response was unintelligible through her broken and swollen lips.

But for some reason the Warrior Queen seemed eager to learn the Andorian’s dying words. “What was that?”

The Marine mustered all the strength she had left to make herself heard. “I said,” she paused for a moment to spit a wallop of cobalt-colored blood onto the floor before she managed with some effort to look above and behind the queen with a widening grin on her face. “Heads up.”

The Xenarth took the bait and turned. At first she must have been confused as there was nothing immediately obvious which could have inspired the Andorian’s bravery in face of certain death. But that was because she didn’t look high enough.

He was gliding so far up, he was nearly brushing the ceiling, his wings fully unfurled and giving him a majestic look as he defied gravity. By the time he was finally spotted, he had already honed in on his target and came down with the speed of a cannonball.

The Xenarth let go out Sh’Fane, trying to whirl around in time to brace herself.

There wasn’t going to be time.

She also didn’t realize until the last moment that the avian had picked up a spear at some point and that the gleaming tip was held out just in front of him as he shot through the air on a collision course.

His loud screech echoed across the chamber and his massive wings flapped exactly once to slow his ascent and ensure this wouldn’t end up as a suicide run.

It was still more than enough speed to ram that spear right through her tough exterior and running it completely through the Xenarth Warrior Queen. The resulting collision knocked her down hard while Mer’iab managed to roll, looking all but a ball of feathers for a moment, knocking down unprepared Xenarth and Starfleeters alike to absorb his momentum which otherwise would have been enough to break every bone in his body.

The queen shrieked again as she flopped helplessly onto the floor, trying desperately to dislodge the spear protruding from her chest with all four hands. But before she could even get a handle on it, Sh’Fane had collected what little remained of her strength, found the other weapon discarded earlier and then put all he weight against it as she drove that one through the Warrior Queen as well.

The second shriek, even louder than the ear-numbing cry that had come before, captured absolutely everyone’s attention and for a brief moment the room fell almost deadly quite as every last Xenarth warrior stopped whatever they were doing at that moment to turn and find their slain queen.
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Old April 7 2013, 07:26 PM   #149
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Never an easy order for a captain to give, especially when she's hoping to salvage something diplomatically when all is said and done.

You've done a masterful job of describing the ebb and flow of this pitched battle, kudos!

Extra points for Mays's diplomatic savvy here, both in her initial approach and argument with Hugh, and later for picking the most opportune moment to restate her case.

However, it's starting to look like it might be too little, too late.
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Old April 8 2013, 12:11 AM   #150
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

That was one hell of a fight!

But will it be enough to slow her fellow Xenarths' advance?
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