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Old April 27 2014, 06:09 PM   #16
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Nice little interlude with Juanita and Tai as they discuss Aldebaran's current mission. Juanita is right to be suspicious. Something odd is going on here. Of course if this wasn't a Dark Territory tale, perhaps I would attribute their behavior simply to the characteristics of their race. I can't help thinking there's more going on than that.
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Old May 10 2014, 03:38 PM   #17
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Thanks CeJay,

While this story isn't turning out as much about Juanita as "Stealing Fire" did about Tai, I wanted to throw a scene in there for her.

************************************************** ****************
Quantum Café
USS Aldebaran

“I think I’ll try the Saurian brandy now,” the bright-eyed Eonessan said.

“I-I told you this wassssn’t a g-good idea,” Lt. Kenule Dryer stumbled over his words. The stars outside had suddenly become brighter and were pulsing like strobe lights, forcing him to squint. And his head felt like it was being stuffed with cotton. He would thoroughly castigate himself later for getting tipsy, though he had to admit that he had been intrigued by the idea.

“You’re on your third drink,” a disbelieving Lt. Shibata said. “Ilerd here is on his sixth,” the communications officer clapped the back of the smiling Eonessan.

“I find Federation concoctions tasty, if a bit mild,” the reptilian said.

“You call this mild?” Now Kenule was disbelieving. He pointed at his Makara fizz. “You could clean warp coils with this.”

Shibata laughed, “I think you’re overstating things a bit Ken.”

“It’s Kenule,” Dryer said sharply. That prompted a deeper laugh from Shibata. Kenule stewed. Shibata got the attention of the waiter and put in Ilerd’s order.

Once the quick waiter returned with the drink, the Eonessan went to work, imbibing the potent alcohol in one gulp.

“My, my, very pleasing.”

“Another?” Shibata suggested.

“I think so,” Ilerd said.

“You’ve both got to be kidding me,” Kenule pulled back from the table.

“Where are you going?” Shibata asked. Both he and Ilerd looked disappointed.

“I’m going to sleep this off,” Dryer answered, “Some of us have work to do in the morning and I would prefer not to do that hung over.”

“You’ve really got to build up your tolerance,” Shibata advised.

“Gee, thanks for the tip,” The Science Officer said, dipping his head at both men.

“Leaving so soon?” Kenule’s back stiffened at the voice. He turned around slowly to a smiling Lt. Juanita Rojas. The moment he had been dreading, yet strangely anticipating, had come to pass, and with the alcohol loosening his tongue he didn’t know what he might say.

Clamping down on his thoughts, he looked at the woman coolly. Sensing his coldness, she took a step backward. “Is everything okay Lieutenant?”

It was surprising, at least to him that he had been able to avoid her this long but even a Galaxy-class starship was only so big.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Kenule said brusquely, and sidestepped her, with only a little give in his step. He was proud that he had kept his mouth shut. Dryer didn’t know if he would be able to do so the next time the helmswoman talked to him. He kept walking toward the door, feeling the eyes of his drinking companions and Lt. Rojas on him. He could imagine that his abrupt behavior had prompted all kinds of questions and looks, but at the moment he didn’t care. He didn’t know if it was the liquor which accounted for his present feelings, but he embraced them.

He owed it to the ghosts in his head.
************************************************** **************

Sickbay
USS Aldebaran

Doctor Xylia resisted the urge to plop into her chair. It had been another long day, and she chided herself for returning to her office and not heading for the refuge of her quarters. Or maybe even the Quantum Café or the planet below.

She hadn’t spoken with Silane in a long while, the engineer extremely busy with helping rebuild the capital city, as much as she had been in repairing bodies. Spending some time with the Medusan would have been a welcome respite.

Alas, Xylia couldn’t pull herself away from a good medical mystery. She pulled up the data on the Eonessan brain fever. On her screen, a helical virus appeared.

The affliction was a viral hemorrhagic fever that dissolved the brain into goo and one symptom was bleeding from the facial orifices. It was a vicious, nasty disease. And it was a mystery because it hadn’t appeared until a year ago and had quickly reached pandemic status.

The Eonessans had been fortunate that the Vaphorans had come along. The Delta Quadrant denizens had extensive medical knowledge and had been able to create a cure. Xylia almost salivated at the prospect of getting her hands on the Vaphorans medical database.

However they hadn’t been so forthcoming in sharing information. The data she had on the brain fever had come from the Eonessans.

What made it extremely dangerous was that it was transmitted by respiratory routes. However that had proven beneficial to ending the plague quickly when the Vaphorans spread the cure by aerosol dissemination. She wished that Romulan authorities had been as quick acting and as compassionate as the Vaphorans. When there was an outbreak of the Gnawing on her native Khazara the Empire had quarantined the colony first and had been slow to send medical personnel. Xylia’s family had been taken refuge among one of the plague ships that escaped across the Neutral Zone to Federation space.

During the trip Xylia watched many of her family, friends, and neighbors succumb to the horrific disease, their internal organs liquefying. By the time Starfleet intervened Xylia was an orphan. A kindly Vulcan medic took guardianship of her, and Xylia life path was set. She couldn’t help thinking of her Romulan and Vulcan family as she studied this disease. Her heart went out to the Eonessans for their courage. She hoped to do her part to prevent brain fever or something similar from ever happening again.

Taking her eyes off the virus to replicate a coffee, the Romulan retrieved the cup and this time did plop down. It was going to be long night.
************************************************** **************
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Old May 10 2014, 03:41 PM   #18
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

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

Fringill Park
Eonessa Prime

Captain Banti Awokou walked slowly with his wife. Together they watched the denizens of the recovering city catching the waning rays of sunlight before dusk settled in. Rozi paused to smile at a father playing with his two hatchlings.

Banti’s smile was tinged with sadness. They had never had children. There had been no time for it, and it was at times like these he regretted that decision. He wondered if Rozi did, but he was too afraid to ask.

It wasn’t too late for either of them, though Banti doubted he had the energy to corral young children these days. He barely had enough to manage his starship. And he wondered, somewhat facetiously, if the nanites holding him together would meet their match courtesy of his progeny.

Rozi leaned in close to him and wrapped her hand in his. Banti sniffed her air. “This park is beautiful,” his wife said. “And the people, so peaceful, even after all the tragedy that’s befallen them.”

“Yes,” Awokou said. Some xenophobia at the presence of aliens wouldn’t have been unexpected, especially since the capital was still recovering from an alien attack. However the captain had experienced nothing but graciousness from the Eonessans. The Vaphorans were another matter. His dealings with them had thus far been polite, but noticeably distant.

The Eonessans weren’t as put off by their coldness as Banti had been. Of course, with the Vaphorans saving the Eonessans from the brain fever, the captain could see why the Eonessans would be so accommodating of their standoffishness.

Soon the Vaphorans wouldn’t be a concern. Banti was expecting Starfleet Command to issue new orders for the Aldebaran any day now. The mysterious assailants hadn’t returned in two months and it was a growing likelihood that they would not return.

With mixed feelings the captain looked forward to returning to Federation space. He didn’t like not completing his mission to the Delta Quadrant, but he also didn’t mind returning to more familiar territory, which actually wasn’t so familiar due to his being out of commission for so long. It would still be exploration and he was fine with that.

“You know the Eonessans remind me of us,” Rozi said.

“How so?” Banti asked.

“Well, there level of development is roughly analogous to 22nd century Earth,” his wife pointed out. “But I was thinking more so of their social strides. How they evolved beyond a caste based society, similar to how we overcame all of our divisions.”

Rozi had been spending a lot of time with Eonessan historians and they had been delighted to share their history with her. Rozi had been equally as forthcoming, and as standard with his wife, she had made several friends. Banti knew parting from them would be difficult for his wife, but she was a veteran enough to understand the nature of the business.

“Yet they did it without a first contact situation,” Banti said, recalling his history lessons of Earth’s first contact with Vulcan and how that unified humanity in ways still hard to fathom.

“Yes,” Rozi nodded, “They did it without that prompt. Impressive.”

“I can only imagine where the Eonessans can go next,” Banti speculated.

“And how the Vaphorans will play a role in their future development,” Shadows crossed over Rozi’s face, and they weren’t all caused by the fading sun.

“That troubles you,” Banti surmised.

“It’s just that we know so little about them,” the first contact specialist admitted. “And they have such an outsized sway over the Eonessans. What if they use it in exploitative ways?”

“Do you think they’ve done so thus far?”

“No,” Rozi admitted. “I can’t say that. They’ve mostly kept to themselves, but still the degree that the Eonessans revere them borders on religious fervor, and I don’t think that’s healthy.”

“Maybe,” Banti said.

“Maybe? That’s all you’re giving me?” Rozi cocked an eyebrow.

“The Vaphorans did save them from a pandemic,” Banti allowed, “And with the Eonessans being an effusive people, from what I can tell, the esteem in which they hold the Vaphorans seems in keeping. Besides, religious fervor doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Consider the Bajorans and their Prophets.”

“True,” Rozi conceded, “Yet the Prophets aren’t flesh and blood. And they reside in a wormhole above the planet. I could see why the Bajorans would come to worship them. I’m less sanguine about doing the same for mortals.”

“Well, the Eonessans haven’t set up any church for the Vaphorans,” Banti said.

“Yet,” Rozi pursed her lips.

Banti smiled, “Yet,” he said. “But really it is their purview to do so if they are so inclined. And it’s not our place to interfere.”

“I know,” his wife nestled close to him and Banti wrapped his arm around her, at the hips. “It just raises my hackles is all.”

“You’ve grown fond of the Eonessans, as we all have, I think,” Banti said. “I don’t want them to be hurt or used either. But from what we’ve seen of the Vaphorans I think it would be unfair to accuse them of such intentions.”

“You’re right,” Rozi said, though with less conviction.

“Everything is going to be alright, Love,” Banti promised. “Not everyone has ulterior motives.”

“I know that too, but I just have a hard time believing it,” his wife smiled. Banti chuckled.

“Look at us, we’ve talked through the sunset,” the captain said. Darkness had fallen across the park and street lamps had come on.

“Perhaps we can just watch the sunset tomorrow,” Rozi said.

“I guess there always is tomorrow,” Banti said. He leaned down to kiss his wife. On the edge of his consciousness he heard a familiar whine and felt a tingling across his skin.

His wife disappeared in his grasp and his lips touched the air. He blinked, surprised, and momentarily confused.

Tapping his combadge, he barked, “Aldebaran, why did you just transport my wife back to the ship?”

A startled Commander Thayer replied, “Sir, we didn’t.”

“Then where is she? What just happened?” Banti demanded. Neither of them had an answer.
************************************************** *********
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Old May 10 2014, 06:26 PM   #19
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

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

Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

“Captain, sensors have identified a transport signature on the far side of the planet,” Lt. Selvin said. “It came from a ship in orbit.”

Lt. Commander April Thayer sat up in the command seat. “After that ship!”

“Captain, Captain Awokou is demanding he be beamed up immediately,” Lt. Shibata chimed in. April was pleased that the awkwardness that had developed between them had evaporated in the heat of action. Shibata likened himself a player but when it mattered he was a professional, and she was glad to see that.

“Belay that,” Thayer said. “We need to get after the ship.” She sensed the nervousness on the bridge at her order. Only Lt. Narcissa had her back. The Orion stood ready at her station, and eager to follow her orders. “You heard me!” She barked. “Dr. Awokou’s life could be in danger!” That snapped everyone back to attention.

“Mr. Shibata, inform the captain that we are on the trail of a possible suspect in his wife’s abduction,” Thayer said, wincing a little as she imagined the man’s reaction, “and we will beam him up once we return.”

“Aye sir,” Shibata said and relayed the message.

“And inform the Eonessan authorities. We might need their assistance,” Thayer added.

“On it,” Shibata quickly said.

“Red alert!” She commanded and crimson lighting splashed across the bridge. “Raise shields and power weapons.” The hunt was on.
************************************************** *************
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Old May 11 2014, 09:44 PM   #20
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

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

Main Bridge
USS Aldebaran

Lt. Commander Thayer gritted her teeth. “Are you sure about that?” She asked.

“Yes sir,” Lt. Selvin coolly said, “The biosignature is Dr. Awokou’s.”

“Hail that vessel,” Thayer ordered. On the main screen one saucer ship was escaping, at the equivalent of full impulse.

“No response,” The Vulcan operations officer replied.

“Narcissa, target their propulsion system,” Thayer said, “Or your best guest for it. I don’t want them warping away.”

“Aye sir,” Narcissa said. Moments later one phaser beam shot out from Aldebaran. The nimble saucer avoided the blast. Narcissa sent five more.

They connected, spinning the ship violently around. “Their shields are down,” Narcissa said. “And so are their engines.”

“Beam Dr. Awokou out of there, right now!” Thayer demanded.

Seconds later the startled woman appeared on the bridge. Thayer ran and caught her before she fell to the ground. April let her down easy.

A shocked, confused expression was etched on the first contact specialist’s face. “It’s going to be okay ma’am,” Thayer promised before standing back up.

She tapped her combadge, “Sickbay, emergency transport. Dr. Awokou.” Before Awokou could speak she was whisked away again.

“Now, what to do about that ship,” she muttered.

“I surmise they’ve made the decision for us,” Selvin said. “I’m reading a massive power build up.”

“They’re going to destroy themselves!” Lt. Rojas said excitedly.

“They’re not getting out of this so easily,” Thayer said. “Beam as many of them as you can get a lock on and send them to the brig.”

“Aye, aye,” Narcissa said.

“Helm, move us away from that explosion,” Thayer said.

“Yes Captain,” Rojas said, expertly shifting Aldebaran away from the destructing vessel.

“Transport complete,” the Orion informed her. “Permission to leave the bridge?”

“Of course,” April knew the woman would want to oversee the handling of the new prisoners.

“Reinforce aft shields,” Thayer told Selvin. The Vulcan complied, and not a moment too soon. The shockwave from the exploding ship buffeted Aldebaran, rattling the bridge.

“Damage report,” the first officer ordered.

“Minimal damage to aft sections, shields down ten percent,” Selvin replied.

“Mr. Selvin, you have the conn,” Thayer strode to the turbolift and got in. Once hidden from the bridge crew she a tremor ran through her. She hoped it looked easy to them because she had been on edge the whole time. April knew they wouldn’t always be this easy so she was thankful that things had seemingly worked out so well this time. Or had they?

She looked up beseechingly, a new question occupying her mind, “Now, which to choose: Sickbay or the brig?”
************************************************** **************

Sickbay
USS Aldebaran

Captain Awokou was running even before he finished materializing. Once the transporter beam had given way, he rushed to the biobed. He nearly knocked over Dr. Xylia as he swept Rozi into his arms. Both women were taken by surprise, but at the moment he didn’t care.

Rozi had been sitting up on the bed. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and held her close. The captain buried his lips into her hair and kissed the crown several times before pulling back from her, just slightly.

“Rozi are you okay? Did they hurt you?”

His wife shook her head, “No, they didn’t hurt me.” The captain looked to the medic. She held up her scanner.

“She’s fine, just a bit shaken up,” the Romulan woman said.

“And I’m probably not helping matters,” Banti realized. He forced himself to pull away from his wife.

“What did they want with you?” He asked.

Rozi screwed her face. “I don’t know. I was beamed into what I assume was a cell. I didn’t see them.”

“Why you? Why not both of us?” The captain pondered.

“Those are good questions,” Rozi said. She started to get off the bed, “I think we should go find out. Commander Thayer told me that she had beamed the ship’s crew to the holding cells.”

“I don’t know if that’s advisable,” Banti said, “for you I mean. Don’t you think it might be too much excitement?”

His wife looked at him dourly. He took a step back and gestured toward the exit. “After you dear.”
************************************************** ************
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Old May 13 2014, 07:04 AM   #21
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

These are some interesting developments and I'm burning to find out who these abductors are and what they were or are still planning. So far it looks as if their plans have been foiled. Of course appearences can be misleading.
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Old May 28 2014, 02:08 AM   #22
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

CeJay,

I don't know if this next passage sheds much light on what's going on, but maybe it just might.

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

Detention Center
USS Aldebaran

By the time the Awokous stepped into the brig, the room was filled with other members of the crew. Both Narcissa and Loto were there, as was a full security contingent. Science Officer Dryer was nose deep in his tricorder. Lt. Shibata was consulting with Nurse Beacham. The two seemed to be sharing a joke.

The captain cleared his throat and it caused both of the junior officers to jump. He tried to frown but couldn’t hide his smile. Shibata nervously rubbed the back of his head.

“Are you two conferring about the aliens?” Awokou asked.

“Ah,” Nurse Beacham opened her mouth. The violet-haired woman reddened terribly.

“Not…uh, quite sir,” The communications officer admitted.

“Personal business on personal time,” The captain injected as much sternness in his voice as he could muster.

“Of course sir,” Shibata said. Awokou roved his eyes over the rest of the room. Some of the other crew was trying hard not to laugh. He did catch Lt. Narcissa in mid-eye roll. He smiled at the Orion.

“Lt. Shibata have you established communication with the aliens yet?” Rozi stepped forward. Banti’s eyes finally found the aliens. There were two of them.

He had never seen the species before, which wasn’t really a surprise to him. They were both tall, with spindly appendages. Their skin tone was light blue, with darker blue stripes running across their faces and exposed hands. Three fingers on each webbed hand and their boots accommodated three toes.

Their jutting faces were vaguely humanoid though squat, with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Two long tendrils bracketed their mouths. And two sharp ridges ran along their chin lines from the opposite sides. They were hairless, the ceiling lights glinting off their bald damp heads. Their eyes were as black as obsidian. Banti inspected both beings. He couldn’t tell what sex they were, or even if they had different genders. The captain took special note of the slick black space suits each being wore. Within them, he saw a network of tubes, with fluid sluicing through them.

“Their outfits serve as some kind of hydration units?” He asked.

“I believe so sir,” Lt. Dryer answered.

“Lt. Shibata, I’m still waiting for an answer,” Rozi demanded.

“We have been able to establish communication with them ma’am,” a chagrined Shibata said. “Though they aren’t saying much.”

“Elaborate,” Captain Awokou commanded.

“They’ve said they will have no congress with butchers, or something to that effect.” The communications officer replied. Banti looked at his wife askance. The first contact specialist was similarly puzzled.

“Butchers,” Captain Awokou repeated.

“Perhaps I should take a crack at it,” Rozi offered.

Shibata didn’t look convinced, but he said, “I’ve already adjusted the universal translator for their language.”

“Thank you,” Rozi said. She was about to step forward when the captain placed a hand on her shoulder.

He leaned in close to her and whispered, “Are you sure you want to do this? These people just kidnapped you.”

Rozi looked at his hand and Banti removed it. More gently, she said, “I should want to know the reasons why more than anyone on this ship Banti. Let me do this.”

Banti nodded. Sometimes he had problems letting go. Sometimes he foolishly thought her too fragile. He stood firmly behind his wife as she approached the force field. The aliens focused on her. One of the beings stepped forward. The captain noticed gill slits on the lead alien’s neck. The way the creature glared down at his wife gave Banti the chills.

He steeled himself not to intervene further. He hopefully hadn’t undercut his wife too much already.

“We mean you no harm,” Rozi said, with open arms. “So why did you abduct me?”

The alien continued glaring at her. “Harvest us and be done with it.” His voice was deep, masculine. Banti assumed he was male. The alien turned away from her.

She looked at her husband, this time seeking his assistance. The captain stepped forward and with his best stentorian voice, declared, “I’m Captain Banti Awokou, commander of this vessel, and I demand to know what you mean by that!”

The lead alien spun around quickly, “I don’t know how much the Vidiians are paying you, but it won’t matter once our fleet gets here!” He hissed. “Your blood money will be as worthless as your lives.”

“What are you talking about?” Awokou took a step back, perplexed. “Vidiians? Blood money?” He looked at his crew. “Does anyone have any idea what he’s talking about?” Everyone looked at each other, confusion reigning in the room.

Lt. Dryer snapped his fingers loudly and began rapidly typing on his tricorder. He frowned, and held it up. “Sir, I don’t think you are going to like this.”

The captain took the proffered device and looked down at the tiny screen. He shook his head, “Son, I think you’re right.”
************************************************** **************
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Old May 28 2014, 04:10 PM   #23
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

I'm admittedly not the sharpest tool in the shed so I'll probably need some more explanation in the coming chapters to figure out what Dryer has apparently already discovered. So far the alien's behavior appears to be based on some sort of misunderstanding. I think.
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Old May 29 2014, 01:16 AM   #24
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

CeJay,

I don't know if this next scene will help or not.

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

Captain’s Ready Room
USS Aldebaran

Captain Banti Awokou looked at the image on his desktop again. He shook his head, his mind still reeling as he processed the information that Lt. Dryer had conjured from the databanks. The picture was of a beautiful, smiling fair-skinned humanoid woman that looked like she belonged to the same species as the Vaphorans.

However it was a holographic recreation of Vidiian hematologist Denara Pel recorded and sent by Voyager’s chief medical officer, as part of his notes on the Vidiians and the vicious phage that afflicted them. The real Pel’s visage was a horrific, discolored patchwork of grafted skins. According to the Doctor’s notes and Voyager’s logs, sent through the Pathfinder Project that had been established to maintain contact with the far flung vessel, the starship had encountered the Vidiians several times.

Once a peaceful, cultured civilization, they had resorted to acts of unthinkable barbarism to survive the ravages of The Phage, a disease that consumed and killed thousands daily for two millennia. Some of the survivors had resorted to forced organ removal from unwilling participants and had sought to ensnare Voyager’s crew for their life preserving aims.

It was ghastly and Awokou shuddered at the Voyager’s crews’ encounters with the vile organ thieves. What could turn an artistic society into such monsters? What froze his insides even more was wondering if there was anything that would reduce the Federation to such despicable acts. How precious was survival?

Thankfully the door chime took him away from his darkening thoughts. “Enter,” he said. The captain stood up as Rector Chaun crossed into the room. He gave a short bow.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet me on such short notice,” the captain began.

“My apologies for that unpleasant business with Dr. Awokou,” Chaun said, shaking his head vigorously. “Is she alright?”

Awokou nodded tightly. “She is well.”

“I apologize that we couldn’t be of quicker assistance,” the Eonessan leader replied.

“No need,” Awokou waved it away. “Please have a seat sir.”

Chaun cautiously took the proffered seat. Once seated, he said, “I assume this is about the aborted kidnapping.” The captain nodded.

“What about it necessitated that I meet with you privately, aboard your vessel?”

“The statements made by the abductors,” Awokou began and then paused, momentarily at a loss for words. “I don’t think the Vaphorans are who they say they are.”

Chaun’s head crest shook and he snorted in disbelief. “Excuse me captain?”

“The abductors called the Vaphorans Vidiians. Have you heard that name before?” Chaun repeated the word, sounding out each syllable.

He shook his head, “No. Should I?”

Awokou grunted. “Perhaps I should show you.” He turned the desktop screen around for the rector to get a look.

Chaun leaned forward in his chair. “This looks like a Vaphoran. But one I don’t recognize.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to. This is a person named Denara Pel, encountered by one of our ships in the Delta Quadrant. She belongs to a species called the Vidiians. However this isn’t her actual appearance.”

“Oh?” The Eonessan didn’t try to hide his confusion. Awokou tapped a button. Chaun shrank back in his seat.

“The Vidiians suffered from a disease called the Phage. To combat that disease they engaged in all manner of criminal activities, including organ stealing.” The rector shuddered at the thought.

“What does any of this have to do with the Vaphorans?” Chaun was genuinely baffled.

“The abductors accused the Vaphorans of being the Vidiians,” Awokou answered, “And I think it bears investigating.”

“That’s absurd!” Chaun said indignantly. “How dare you accuse the saviors of something so immoral!”

“Rector Chaun, you can’t deny the similarities in the physical appearances.”

“Of course not, but are you going to tell me that humans have never encountered other species that look just like them or near enough?”

The Eonessan had him there. “You’re right,” Awokou could do nothing but admit the truth. “However, the Vaphorans came from the Delta Quadrant, same as the Vidiians, and they’ve been very circumspect. Perhaps they are hiding something.”

“Those people saved my people and now you want me to believe that they are organ stealers?” Chaun stood up. “I think we are done here.”

“Sir,” Awokou stood up as well. “The abductors said a fleet was on its way here. I think we need to get to the bottom of this before they arrive.”

“And you think it would soften the blow to accuse the Vaphorans of such perfidy if it came from me?” Chaun scoffed.

“Well, I wouldn’t say it in such a way,” Awokou looked squarely at the man. “But yes.”

“I’ll take my leave of you now Captain.” Chaun said, turning abruptly and storming out of the office.

“What else can go wrong today,” Awokou muttered to the empty room. As if granting his wish, his compin chirped.

The captain tapped it. “Go ahead,” he said grudgingly.

“Captain, I need you in Sickbay,” Dr. Xylia said, “I’ve discovered something about the Eonessan brain fever that you need to see.”

“On my way,” He withheld the sigh until the link had been broken. Squaring his shoulders, refusing to let the bridge crew see how weary he was, Awokou strode out of the office.
************************************************** *************
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Old May 29 2014, 04:22 PM   #25
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Ah yes, the pieces are beginning to fall in place. I knew there was something circumspect about the Vaphorans. Are they Viidians in disguise? Or maybe a minority sub species which has not contracted the Phage? And if true, could they be targeting the Eonessans as unwilling organ donors for their sick brethren?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm curious to see where this is going to lead.
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Old June 30 2014, 09:00 AM   #26
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Just catching up on the reboot of this marvelous story, DarKush. I'll post more later when I have access to a decent keyboard, but suffice to say this tale is outstanding!
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Old July 22 2014, 10:39 PM   #27
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

CeJay and Gibraltar,

Thanks for the continued interest for this story and the kind words. It's been a little tough keeping this one going, but I appreciate the encouragement.


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

Control Room
Vaphoran Starship Rirata

“Speaker Vinaren, perhaps we should verify Captain Awokou’s inquiries,” Commander Lotura recommended. The community leader sat opposite her, in the station normally reserved for the chief surgeon. As a precaution against the phage, Vidiian ships were built with isolation in mind, including control rooms that only needed to be peopled by two persons. “They have proven themselves worthy of our trust.”

“Don’t be so naïve Lotura,” Vinaren sniffed. The woman had hastily brought a shuttle up from the planet after meeting with Rector Chaun. “That so-called trustworthiness was predicated on their beliefs that we weren’t Vidiian. You are well aware of our peoples’ encounters with the Starfleet vessel Voyager. I don’t think it is much of a stretch to see the reaction of this crew being similar.”

“We aren’t trying to steal their organs,” Lotura pointed out. “How else would you expect our victims to react?”

Vinaren stiffened at the word ‘victim’. “We did what we had to do to survive. Surely any species can understand that, or should.”

“That’s easy to say if your not on the receiving end,” Lotura rejoined. Vinaren shook her head, unwilling to concede. Lotura shrugged. “At the very least this can show that we are willing to move beyond the past.”

“Haven’t we proven that thus far?” Vinaren whined. “Look how we have built up the Eonessans?”

“And they are grateful,” Lotura nodded, “to a fault. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so grateful if they knew the truth.”

Vinaren’s gaze turned steely. “Vorum was punished. The council agreed to speak no more of it.”

“Still, it shows we have a ways to go, as does our reaction to Captain Awokou,” Lotura said.

“We don’t know what their response could be,” Vinaren smacked the console in front of her, “For all we know they could hand us over to our attackers.” Lotura shook her head in disbelief.

“I find that improbable,” the Rirata commander said, “They have shown a willingness to defend the Eonessans, and us as well, that is admirable. They deserve our honesty.”

“We can’t take that risk,” Vinaren shook her head. “I didn’t come up here to discuss this with you.”

“Oh?” Lotura’s stomach twisted in knots. She suspected the reason for the leader’s visit.

The speaker leaned forward, her brows knitting, her face taking on an even more serious cast. Unbidden, Lotura sat back, anticipating the question. The speaker asked, “Can Rirata survive a battle against the Starfleet vessel?”

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

Sickbay
USS Aldebaran

Captain Awokou felt he needed another explanation, but time wouldn’t permit it. He leaned back in his chair as he wrapped his mind around what the doctor had revealed to him. “Are you saying that the Eonessan brain fever was engineered?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Dr. Xylia replied, a mortified expression on her face. “And I think the Vidiians were the culprits.”

“But you don’t have proof of that,” Awokou replied.

“No, but we do know the Vidiians have the medical know-how to do something like this,” the Romulan asserted.

“You’re right,” Awokou scratched his chin. “It wasn’t my intent to discount your findings Doctor.” The woman dipped her head in acknowledgement. The captain shook his own head.

“This just keeps getting worse and worse. The Vaphorans aren’t who they claim to be and now they might have inflicted a near pandemic upon the Eonessans. I wonder why?”

“I could only imagine to win over their trust,” Xylia offered. “And to seek out refuge. I could see that many of their fellow Delta Quadrant neighbors not being sanguine with them.”

“Like the aliens in our brig,” Awokou said.

“Yes sir,” Xylia added.

“I think we need to learn more about those aliens,” Awokou stood up. “Perhaps we are holding the wrong people.”
************************************************** ************
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Old July 22 2014, 11:11 PM   #28
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

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

Detention Center
USS Aldebaran

“Let’s try this again,” Captain Awokou offered. With him were Commander Thayer and Lt. Loto, in addition to the guard on duty. The Arbazan had insisted on being in the brig with him even though the captain was confident that the force field kept a secure barrier between him and the prisoners. “We looked into your claims. I believe you were correct that the Vaphorans are the Vidiians.”

“As if you didn’t know who you were working for,” scoffed one of the aliens. He charged toward the captain, but wisely stopped before contacting the slightly shimmering field. “Why insult our intelligence before you perform your butchery? Just get it over with. We will be avenged soon enough!”

The second alien placed a restraining hand on the disconsolate one’s shoulder. “Sesban, perhaps we should listen to what this one has to say.” Sesban shook his head and turned his back to the captain.

“However you wish to spend your remaining time is your concern Fontin, but I will not be their plaything.”

“So be it,” Fontin shrugged. He stepped forward and addressed the captain. “You say you were unaware that you were in league with the Vidiians?”

“I am,” Awokou nodded.

“And now that you are aware, what do you intend to do about it?” Fontin charged.

“If possible, find a peaceful solution to whatever your grievance is with them,” the captain said.

Sesban laughed. It was a harsh, scraping sound.

“And the first thing I think I should do is release you,” the captain said, “As a sign of trust.”

“Captain,” Loto protested.

“Sir, I don’t think this is the best idea,” Commander Thayer added.

Awokou held up a hand. He didn’t like the idea of releasing the men who had kidnapped his wife, but if this was all a horrible misunderstanding that could lead to serious bloodshed, he had a duty to prevent it, and his first item of business was establishing trust with their forced guests.

“Ensign, lower the forcefield,” Awokou commanded. Sesban turned around, and gave the captain a skeptical look. The forcefield crackled before dropping.

Before anyone could stop him, Awokou walked across the threshold. “See, this isn’t a trick.”

Sesban rounded on him, prompting Loto to rush forward to defend the captain, and Thayer was right on the Arbazan’s heels. Fontin pushed Sesban back.

“I meant what I said, I think we should start over,” Awokou replied, unfazed by Sesban’s anger.

“We will take this gesture as one of reaching out,” Fontin said, “And we shall do the same.”

“It won’t save you, not when our armada arrives,” Sesban sneered.

“I hope to save us all,” Awokou calmly rejoined. “But first, I need to learn why you are pursuing the Vidiians.”

“Do you know what a Vidiian honatta is Captain?” Fontin asked. The human shook his head. Fontin’s voice grew hushed as a faraway look came over his eyes.

“I encountered my first when I was just a pollywog…”
************************************************** **************
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Old July 25 2014, 11:50 AM   #29
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Okay, we're starting to get a clearer picture of what we're up against. I wonder why these Vidiian haven't contracted the Phage. I always thought their entire race was affected. I could be wrong though. Or perhaps they have finally found a cure.

Whatever the case, a conflict seems unavoidable now, especially considering the speaker's attitude and the aliens claiming to have a fleet of their own. The only hope may be the fact that there are dissenting voices among them who believe, like Awokou, in a peaceful solution. Yeah, good luck with that.
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Old August 19 2014, 01:28 AM   #30
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

CeJay,

I'm assuming that not all Vidiians suffered from the Phage. And the Think Tank claimed to have cured the Phage in 2375, according to the VOY episode "Think Tank". So I'm taking them at their word.

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

Delta Quadrant
Twenty Years Ago…

Lereth touched his wife’s hand. The woman, sitting beside him, stirred. Her eyes fluttered open, her ragged lips parted, but a wheeze stole her words.

Lereth did his best to smile, to comfort her while shielding his own grief. He squeezed her hand. “Soon, you will have new lungs,” he promised. The woman nodded before drifting off again.

He watched the woman’s tortured breathing for a few moments, a tightness forming in his own chest. He never liked this part, but his duties as a husband, as his wife’s honatta had to come first.

Lereth repeated that to himself as he watched the other ship leave orbit. On that ship was his quarry. In addition to saving his wife, the family within could provide enough organs and skin to sustain several Vidiians. Saving Gyda and making a profit in the process was too good to ignore.

What he did ignore was his guilt as he activated his ship’s impulse drive. He had found the family on the surface of the resort planet, enjoying a vacation. His scanner had honed in on them, its readouts telling him that their lungs would be compatible for Gyda.

He had trailed them for days, even though he didn’t have to. He had even chatted up the father, an oceanographer on their native Nethun. They were good people, they didn’t deserve what was about to befall them, but Lereth steeled himself. His wife came first.

He kept his ship far enough back not to arouse suspicion. He had placed a transponder on the Neth vessel so he wasn’t worried about losing them. He would wait until they were too far to call for quick assistance before he would strike. He settled in for a long hunt.

While he waited, Lereth stroked Gyda’s torn skin. He sighed and touched his own smooth face. Lereth was one of the few untouched by the Phage. He had thought Gyda was also spared, but the disease came later in her life.

His love and survivor’s guilt drove him from his business to the honatta. For the longest he had kept Gyda away from his new venture, only bringing her the organs she needed to live. But her condition had worsened and he felt a need to keep her with him to watch over her.

He reluctantly took his hand from his wife and returned it to the console. He checked the ship’s sensors to see if there were any other vessels were nearby. Satisfied they were alone Lereth activated the ship’s hypothermic charges.

He drove his ship at the unsuspecting Neth, lobbing hypothermic charges at them, encasing the hapless vessel within a crackling cage. Its shields collapsed quickly. The grappler latched onto the benighted starship, holding her steady while Lereth flew beside it.

With practiced ease, he attacked the docking arm to the ship’s airlock. He had taken time to study the ship’s schematics while the Neth family shared their fateful vacation.

Sighing, he touched Gyda’s face once more. Gathering himself, Lereth grabbed the harvester and made his way to the airlock. He hoped it would his work would be quick this time.
************************************************** ***********
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