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Old August 8 2010, 06:45 PM   #61
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

CHAPTER FOUR

USS Tesseract – Deck 8 Corridor


As Adele walked the deck 8 corridor on her way back to the bridge, she tried to sort her thoughts about everything that was happening around her. The missing Sol and Luna. The arguments she had heard during their initial meeting with Malik and the Borg Resistance. One of Fifteen’s emotional breakdown in sickbay. What to do about her first officer and chief engineer.

She also tried to keep an empathic read on her away team. She was thankful that they had only transported a few hundred meters -- close enough to allow her to sense them. She found the emotional wreck that was Maren O’Connor easiest to track, so she focused mainly on her, but she also found she had to try hard not to allow the young woman’s overwhelmed state of mind to overwhelm her, too. She wondered, not for the first time, if sending the young woman over to the resistance ship had been a bad idea. Adele was so lost in her own thoughts that she didn’t notice Admiral Shane Beckley walking briskly to catch up with her.

“Captain Oyugo, may I have a word?” he asked politely. Adele barely covered her surprise at his presence. Given her empathic senses, she wasn’t used to people being able to sneak up on her, but as usual, the admiral was an emotional blank to her – more like an android or a hologram than a human.

“With all due respect, Admiral, I’m a little busy right now,” Adele said. She tried hard to keep the irritated edge from creeping into her voice, but she failed.

They arrived at the doors to the bridge together. “I realize you’re very busy right now, Captain,” he replied. “I only need a few minutes.”

Adele looked at him warily. “We can talk in my ready room,” she assented.

“Thank you,” the admiral replied, apparently oblivious to her reluctance.

Inside Adele’s ready room, she sat down at her expansive desk and offered Admiral Beckley a seat, which he accepted with another of his cold, emotionless smiles. “I’ll make this short,” he said. “I wouldn’t dream of intruding like this if it weren’t important, but I just want to ensure you’re giving due thought to the course of action Mr. B’akhti has proposed, despite Commander Icheb’s reservations,” he said.

Adele narrowed her eyes. “Admiral, I don’t have enough information to make any kind of decision about that yet. All he said is that he wanted to combine Commander Icheb’s DNA with his technology to create a weapon. He refuses to elaborate on what that technology is, and Commander Icheb seems less than inclined to hand over his genetic material for experimentation. Frankly, I don’t blame him.”

Admiral Beckley seemed to consider this for a moment, then leaned in close – too close for Adele’s liking. She was thankful for the sheer surface area of the large wooden desk that prevented him from getting any closer. He dropped his voice. “I know I don’t need to tell you what an opportunity this is, Mrs. Oyugo,” he said, emphasizing her former marital status.

Adele’s blood ran cold. He was manipulating her in the most obvious way possible, she knew, but the problem was, on some level, it was working. The thought of bringing the Collective down once and for all was incredibly tempting to her in a very personal way, and Admiral Beckley obviously knew it.

“Any chance to bring down the Borg should be explored to the fullest. You can order him to submit to any test you like,” he continued. “It’s not as if he’ll be damaged. Are you really going to let this option remain unexplored because one officer is uncomfortable with it?”

Adele met the admiral’s gaze. “I just told you I haven’t made a decision yet,” she said levelly. She sighed heavily. “We’re all just reacting to this situation right now, Admiral. The commander was held hostage by Mr. B’akhti. It may take more than a few hours for him to recover emotionally from that. I plan to give him that opportunity before ordering him to do anything against his will.”

“That’s all well and good, Captain, but what if he says no?” Beckley asked, eyebrows raised slightly.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Adele replied calmly. She tried to turn the tables on him. “What does the rest of the advisory board think of all this?” she asked him.

The admiral leaned back in his chair like he was getting comfortable there. “Drare and Alvarez say they’re behind you 100%, whatever you decide … but if it were them, they’d take the chance to damage the Collective at just about any cost. As for Gentry, she doesn’t trust the Borg Resistance for a moment, but then again, she doesn’t trust your First, either. She’s also a lawyer, not a starship captain,” he added with an unfeeling, but almost conspiratorial smirk.

“What about you?” Adele interrupted before he could continue. “Do you trust the Borg Resistance?”

Beckley smiled, which Adele again found chilling and emotionless. “Of course not,” he replied calmly. “When you’ve spent as many years in SI as I have, it’s rare you trust anyone. But I think the potential gains outweigh any risk of working with them. What does Commander Icheb say?”

Adele sighed. “I’ve barely had three uninterrupted seconds to speak with him. He got back, we checked to make sure he was okay, we had our meeting, and then the Collective drone in sickbay had some sort of emotional meltdown and we had to deal with that. Then Lieutenant Nix reported we’d lost contact with the Sol and Luna and I sent Icheb and O’Connor over to the Resistance ship. So you know as much as I do about his opinion.”

“On the contrary, Captain,” Beckley protested. “You’re an empath. You know many things I don’t. What do you sense from him concerning the Resistance Borg?”

Adele hesitated for a moment. What she sensed was that Icheb was conflicted. She could tell he was holding something back, something important to him. She wasn’t sure what it was, though, and for all she knew, it might be the same thing he had been hiding since the beginning – the failure of his implants, which she hadn’t yet confronted him about. But she didn’t want to share any of what she was thinking with the admiral. Regardless of her current frustration with her exec, her first loyalty was to her crew, not this creepy, emotionless member of the advisory board.

“He’s difficult for me to read,” she finally lied.

The admiral quirked his eyebrows up slightly at this. “All the time?” he asked.

Adele deflected the question. “This mission is still new and I really haven’t been around him much, between my away mission and his abduction,” she said. “I don’t have the answers you’re looking for. I wish I did.”

Beckley looked at her for a long moment, then nodded. “Very well. Thank you for your -- ”

Adele didn’t listen to him finish his sentence. She was suddenly distracted by a marked change in Maren O’Connor’s mood. In an instant, the young woman’s emotional state had moved from tense anxiety to sudden shock and anger. Quickly, Adele tried to expand her read to the others, and realized that the entire group shared Maren’s alarm. Something’s wrong, she realized.

“Captain?” Beckley asked. “Is something wrong?”

Adele shook her head quickly. “No, sir. I just … felt something. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to check on the away team.”

“Of course,” the admiral replied.

Adele tapped her combadge. “Oyugo to Icheb.” When no response was forthcoming, she tapped her badge again. “Oyugo to O’Connor.” She and Beckley exchanged a glance as they were met with more silence.

*****

Resistance Vessel 1473 – Control Center


So far, so good,
Maren thought to herself as the odd mix of Starfleet officers and Resistance Borg materialized in the control center of Malik’s vessel. The beamout hadn’t killed them. That was one potential disaster avoided … now they just had a seemingly infinite number of unpleasant possibilities left to go before they could secure the resistance vessel and leave the nebula. As soon as the transport was complete, security immediately moved to take up positions around the room.

“Stay where you are. Touch nothing,” Malik protested sharply, before turning to the technical drone, Jeytl, standing beside him. The two appeared to communicate via neural link for a moment, while Icheb and Maren exchanged a glance.

“Unacceptable,” Icheb told Malik. He turned to Lieutenant Commander Ryzal. “You may continue.” Ryzal nodded and motioned his officers into place. “Our orders are to secure this vessel, with your assistance,” Icheb continued, turning back to Malik. “That is what we agreed upon. If you are unwilling to cooperate, I will have you transported back to the Tesseract and we will complete this assignment without you.”

Even as Icheb spoke to Malik, Maren couldn’t help but study their new surroundings with interest. It seemed that everything on the resistance vessel appeared exactly the same as the schematics on the data chip she had been studying for the past few days.

It was fascinating to see it in person, but there were really no surprises here … and yet the same question that had plagued her since they had decrypted the schematics kept running through her mind: How the hell do they power all of this?

No warp core. No fusion reactor. No obvious power cells. It had seemed to her like the ship in the diagrams ran on magic, and seeing it in person gave her the same feeling. The power reserves needed to run a ship this complex were incredible, yet even standing here on the bridge, she felt nothing – no throbbing hum of a propulsion system, no ultrasonic whine of an EPS … just cold stillness and silence. Without waiting for Malik to answer Icheb, she opened her engineering bag, still hanging from Icheb’s shoulder, and took out her tricorder. Without asking permission, she began scanning the room.

At the soft sound of the tricorder’s beep, Malik’s head snapped over in her direction.

“Put that away,” he demanded sharply.

Maren gave him an incredulous look. “Why?” she challenged him.

“Put it away,” Malik repeated, staring her down with all the intensity of a typical drone. Maren was unfazed. Malik terrified her for other reasons, but she found his glare rather unintimidating after five years spent associating with Seven of Nine.

She shot back a glare of her own, almost as intense. She hadn’t learned nothing from her years spent hanging out with a couple of ex-drones. “I will not comply,” she said coolly. She suspected she was pushing Malik’s buttons, and she didn’t care. She was tired, her head was pounding, she was worried about John and the other missing crewmembers, and she just wanted to get this over with -- quickly. Malik was the only thing standing in between them and going to find the Sol and Luna.

“No scans. No sensors. No tricorders, no coming over here without supervision,” she said, trying hard to keep her volume from increasing with her frustration. “Surely you don’t really think you’re going to be able to keep hiding whatever it is you want to hide?” she demanded incredulously. Malik didn’t immediately answer, so she continued, “Whatever it is, I assure you, we are going to find it – and quickly. And let me tell you, I know from personal experience that Captain Oyugo is not in the mood for surprises today. So if I were you, I would come clean, and the sooner, the better.”

“Lieutenant O’Connor is correct,” Icheb spoke up. He stepped forward slightly, putting himself in between Malik and Maren. “Our assignment is to ensure the safety of our vessel when we bring yours aboard. That means we will scan every system, and either deactivate it or secure it. We will not fail in that mission. If we have to do it without your assistance, we will. I can easily have you transported back to our brig.”

“You’re likely to destroy us all if you attempt to secure this vessel without our assistance,” said Malik.

“I’m willing to take that risk,” Icheb snapped. He tapped his combadge. “Icheb to Tesseract,” he said. “Lock on to the two resistance Borg and prepare to transport them to the brig on my mark.”

“Acknowledged, Commander,” came the quick reply, then after a moment, “We have a lock.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Malik interjected angrily. “I’ve already expressed my willingness to cooperate.”

“Excellent,” Icheb replied dryly. He tapped his combadge again. “Tesseract, maintain lock on resistance Borg. Stand by for further instructions.” He looked from Maren to Malik and back again. “Take Commander Ryzal and three security officers and go to engineering,” he instructed Maren. “You may take Jeytl if you wish.” Maren nodded and reached out to take her bag from Icheb.

Malik’s reaction was both predictable and prompt. “You will not enter any section of this vessel without my supervision,” the cyborg snapped, stepping forward as if to stop them. Maren froze despite herself and turned to look at the angry drone.

Icheb turned to face him, as well. “I thought you were willing to cooperate.”

“I am,” Malik said darkly. “You’ll get your opportunity to see everything.”

For a moment, Malik looked slightly distracted by something. Maren realized a moment too late what it was. “Icheb, he’s interfac -- ”

“ … -ing with the vessel,” Icheb finished in unison with Maren, sounding rather defeated as force fields went up around all around the Starfleet members of the away team.

I really should have seen this coming,
Maren thought to herself miserably. She shot a glance at Ryzal, the Saurian chief tactical officer, who looked as if he was thinking the same thing. Then she looked over at Icheb, whom, she realized, looked incredibly angry.

“What are you--” he started.

Malik cut him off. “It’s merely a precaution,” he said, sounding much calmer now that he clearly had the upper hand. “You will not be harmed. I have something to show you. It’s necessary that I have your undivided attention.”

Maren couldn’t stop herself from sniping back, “I think it’s pretty safe to say you’ve got it.”
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Old August 8 2010, 08:01 PM   #62
mirandafave
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

My, what a chapter. Of course, any chapter that features the Admiral is of course a winner. But throw him into a meeting with Adele and being so bold as to try and manipulate her! He really will try anything. That strikes me as an out and out calculated move to try and see how much he can push it will Adele. He hits upon a really sensitive area but doesn't get his own way thanks to the awesomeness that is Adele.

But it serves to show that he is willing to go to some lengths to meet his agenda. And it seems he would only be too happy to go experimenting on Icheb. Yipes! Scary. Little does Icheb realise that Adele is the only one standing between Icheb and a test lab - if ever the Admiral took over!!!

We now we have Adele keeping track of the away team empathically. Brilliant way to use her abilities in such a nuanced and tactical manner. Of course, it stands to reason that Maren is the easiest to track empathically! Ha, ha! So funny and so obvious really when you think about it. But boys did she have cause to end up feeling in a worse way!
It starts off with a lot of tense standing off between them all, with sparks flying almost between Malik, Icheb and Maren, with Maren getting in his face. Then Malik pulls what he does. He really hasn't assimilated any social guidelines books has he! Wow. What's next? And when?
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Old August 9 2010, 01:00 PM   #63
tau136
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Well it seems the back & forth about Adele’s tough captaincy is playing out — she’s made her decision & stood by it firmly but inside (once we see there) she is as conflicted as anyone by her decisions. Just the wrong time for her to be waylaid by the Admiral so, inevitably, that is the moment he picks. This really is an abrupt, upfront approach from him; very direct & obvious in what he wants to get from Adele but his clumsy subtlety doesn’t seem to be getting him far — it works to an extent but she picks up on it and is still disenchanted with the man on just about every level. It isn’t his best play at all . . . ah but we’ve seen him in the wings and seen how he can wear whatever face suits his needs of the moment, helped along by all the insider knowledge he has. So now; he is being pretty much what most people (Adele included) would expect him to be — a man with an agenda he’s willing to force his way onto people for and to push to a manipulative level, but no very sophisticated level. Overall the facade is one of a guy you can get a handle on, as he isn’t as able as he imagines himself to be; that could be a fateful misreading. Against all that; circumstances have put him and Adele jointly at point in a moment of crisis. It will be interesting to see if they are forced to work together under fire and how the Admiral will balance holding up his mask against working effectively.

Malik sure has chosen being effective for himself over anything else it is a wonder that Maren and Icheb were both caught out by his link to the ship as both are familiar with Borgability but, then, both are somewhat off key thanks to recent events. Their live are pretty much on parallel track right now: both have had physical trauma in their own ways (Borg Target / Borg Captive) and each are emotionally overturned and some of the issues they face they share with the other so they are mirrors to each other and in the same critical situation at the same time — relying on each other and playing off each other; not something they can afford right now.
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Old August 9 2010, 03:34 PM   #64
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

mirandafave -- Thanks for reading and reviewing! Yeah, I think Beckley is definitely testing Adele's limits with his open attempt at manipulating her. He wants to see what he can get away with. As for whether he'll get his way ... we'll see. Just because she's not a pushover doesn't mean she can't be swayed. You're certainly right that Icheb does not have a friend in Beckley. Beckley's said (thought) before, back in book one, that he would happily hand Icheb over to the Borg himself if he thought it would be advantageous. He may like the "kid," but not enough to keep his best interests at heart or anything like that. Glad you liked the bit about Adele 'tracking' them. Adele won't always be able to pull this trick, but she did this time. She's just lucky they're so close by. And Maren would be the easiest to track! Like a flashing beacon of angst and internal conflict. As for Malik, he is clearly horrible with people. Maren's not in the mood for his crap, but she gets put in her place pretty quickly. So we'll see what he wants to show them, and why he feels they need to be confined for him to do it. Thanks again for the awesome review.

tau136 -- Thanks for the great observations. Yes, this was a much more aggressive approach than we're used to seeing from Beckley. Like MF noted, he may be testing his limits ... or he may think whatever payoff is worth the risk ... his motivations aren't what you'd expect, so it's hard to judge his actions. Underestimating him would not be a good thing for Adele to do. Then there's Icheb, Maren and Malik. Malik is another one whose thinking is just not what we're used to at all. So judging his actions by typical human standards might not give the best picture of his motives. Icheb and Maren, of course, are very much not at their best. You make a lot of good points regarding their almost parallel situations. The fact that they are together right now actually worked against them for probably the first time in their lives, here. They used to make an awesome team ... they need to get back to that, or they just might prove to be each other's undoing. Thanks again for reading and commenting!
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Old August 9 2010, 08:51 PM   #65
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

The admiral, usually so very subtle in his maneuverings, really started blatantly trying to manipulate Adele here. I've got to say, having the advisory board in an after-action review capacity might be helpful, but having their membership present to try and sway the captain's judgment prior to her making a decision is far from beneficial.

Somebody needs to put a cortex bomb in Malik's head for the next time he pulls a stunt like this. I'd love to see Icheb pull out the key-chain fob of death, press the button, elicit a double honking sound from Malik's mouth as his eyes flash... and then *BOOM*!

And yes, Icheb should have seen that coming. Malik didn't have to do anything overt in order to commune effectively with his vessel. He made Icheb, Maren and the others look like a cadet review.

If you're going to play with the Borg, even the Borg Resistance, on their own turf... you'd best bring your A-game. Otherwise, stay home. Here's hoping Malik's just trying to make point with all this rather than anything more nefarious.
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Old August 10 2010, 06:23 PM   #66
CeJay
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Well, good thing my views on the advisory board are already on record.

It's bad enough to have them on board to give you a blow-by-blow breakdown of how you've done things the wrong way after the fact, but for Beckley to show up during a crucial mission to share his two cents with the captain is extremely lousy timing on his part.

But oh boy, how useful is it to have a Betazoid captain? Even as a half-Betazoid, Adele clearly has a leg up on her more conventional colleagues thanks to a almost flawless spidey-sense. Now that's handy.

And I better hope that whatever Malik is doing, was so incredibly unlikely that a top-notch Starfleet engineer and an ex-Borg drone could not possibly have foreseen it. If not, Adele needs to have another serious conversation without our favorite (non)-couple about their private life and issues being a dangerous distraction and leading to careless with the safety of their mission and the ship. And I mean serious.

Sorry for all the highlights. And I liked this chapter. Hey, if everything went right and there were no complaints, you wouldn't have much of a story now, would you?
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Old August 12 2010, 02:38 AM   #67
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Gibraltar -- OMG! Remind me not to mess with you. CORTEX BOMB? Keychain fob of death? You're right though, Malik's been making fools of the Tesseract crew so far. We'll see what his endgame is (or if he even has one). As for the advisory board, yeah. They're an issue, and particularly the admiral. It's not so much just that they're there and present -- that's the whole point of them being on the ship. It's the fact that this has never been done before, no one knows the etiquette, people are testing and overstepping boundaries, and Adele has a limited window in which to establish her dominance over that ship or she will be in big trouble. All this in the midst of craziness no one expected. Have fun with that, Adele. Thanks for the review.

CeJay -- Yes, your views on the advisory board are long established, and being validated as we speak! I'm glad you liked the chapter, and yes, Adele owes her First and her chief engineer a very. Long. Chat. Hopefully they survive long enough to get their asses chewed out by their captain.
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Old August 15 2010, 05:25 PM   #68
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

So, even though no one has complained, I feel the need to apologize for the slowness of getting these chapters out lately. All I can say is that work is crazy, life is crazy and I'm splitting my free time between Tesseract and another project. I've been aiming for a post a week, but I don't think I'm going to make my self-imposed deadline this time. I plan to write tonight, though, and hopefully have another chapter up in a day or so! Thanks for your patience, everyone, and thanks for continuing to follow the story!
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Old August 16 2010, 10:18 AM   #69
CaptainSarine
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

No needs to apologise, I'm right there with you! I've taken a week off to get a good three chapters written in draft form so that I have something to work on and get more chapters posted. I know entirely what it is like. Just good to see you keeping on posting (unlike me who went AWOL for five months... )

Can't wait for more, but I will since I know when it does arrive it will be awwwwwesome!
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Old August 24 2010, 07:21 AM   #70
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Watch this space. I've been up late tonight writing and editing and there should be new Tesseract tomorrow.

ETA: And now there's more.
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Old August 24 2010, 09:17 PM   #71
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

CHAPTER FIVE

USS Sol – Cargo Bay

One hundred sixty-eight people. That was how many were supposed to be on the USS Sol – how many lives John Quigley now found himself responsible for. He kept a mental tally of the dead he had seen with his own eyes – Borux, Lang and Chelsea on the bridge, and five more in engineering, including Specialist Herk. Another one in the corridor on the way from engineering to the cargo bay. That made nine. One hundred fifty-nine people left to account for.

The cargo bay was impressively organized chaos. Ensign Par Renn, the ops officer-turned-acting-XO, had done an admirable job of controlling the situation as dazed, frightened and injured passengers – that was really what most of them were, John realized – made their way into the blessedly environmentally-controlled chamber.

It had taken only minutes for John and Anit to move from engineering to the cargo bay, now that the automatic doors were operational. Anit still had the medkit, so once they arrived, John sent him to check for injuries and try to treat what he could. I’m a pilot, not a medic, he had protested, looking anxious. You are now, John had replied, utterly unsympathetic. If John could play captain, Anit could play doctor, even if it was simply in the interest of keeping everyone calm.

John looked for Par Renn, and found the Bajoran standing at a console, wearing an EV-suit with no helmet on and staring intently at the display as he tapped away at the interface with still-gloved fingers. John walked up to him and took his own helmet off, then spoke quietly. “Do we have anything resembling a damage report yet?”

Renn looked up, startled. He quickly recovered. “I didn’t see you come in, sir,” he observed, then looked back at his screen and shook his head. “Other than, ‘it’s really bad,’ I couldn’t begin to tell you, sir,” he said. “Main computer’s still offline. I’ve got limited access to emergency systems thanks to whatever you two did down in engineering, but slaving everything to this auxiliary console has been a total pain in the ass. Excuse my language.”

If it hadn’t been for the gravity of the situation, John would have smiled at the absurdity of anyone apologizing to him for use of foul language. “Do your best,” he told Renn. “Any ideas about what’s going on with that tractor beam?”

“I’m 99% sure it’s the Luna,” Renn answered, looking slightly relieved. “External sensors are still offline, but we’ve got eight tricorders in here that detect no sign of active alien energy signatures, and I don’t think we’ve been boarded or anything. I’ve been trying to establish communications, but the whole transceiver array is gone.”

“Nice,” John said with a roll of his eyes, momentarily unable to contain his sarcasm. He thought for a moment. “Did you try the shuttles?” Provided they hadn’t been too badly damaged, each of the Sol’s two shuttles should have sensors and full communications capability -- not to the extent the Sol herself had once had, but certainly enough to contact the Luna and maybe get a better look at their surroundings.

Renn blushed. “No, sir. I hadn’t thought of it.” Renn was clearly embarrassed at the oversight, but John waved him off. The ensign had been occupied with the survivors. It was probably better that he stayed with them, anyway.

“It’s okay,” John replied. “I’ll go check it out in a minute. Do we have a head count in here?”

“Ninety-four, sir. I sent ten people back out to look for other survivors. There are another twenty-two in Sickbay, but Doctor Duggal needs help moving them, so I sent five men up there, as well.”

John forced himself not to react outwardly to Renn’s report.It’s a start, he told himself. Given the condition of engineering, it was a damned good start. But ninety-four accounted for in the cargo bay plus twenty-two in sickbay and nine dead left forty-three people whose fate was yet unknown. That number was too high for his comfort.

“All right,” he told Renn, “you’re doing a great job. Stay here and keep doing what you’re doing. I’m going to go see about contacting the Luna and maybe use the shuttle sensors to try and figure out where the hell we are.” And as soon as I’m done with that, I’m going to find those forty-three people, he vowed silently to himself. He was still reeling inside from everything he had witnessed in engineering, and trying hard not to think about it. All he knew was that he was determined not to see it happen again.

“Yes, sir,” Renn replied, but lost in thought, John didn’t reply. He put his helmet back on, sealed it, and left the cargo bay.

*****

USS Luna -- Bridge


“Status report.” Lieutenant T’Pring of Vulcan kept her expression carefully stoic as she questioned her command staff on the damaged bridge of the USS Luna.

She wasn’t asking for a status report for their own ship. That much was already known -- they had sustained heavy damage when the cloaked ship had attacked, and they were barely hanging on to life support. Of course, that was partly because they were using precious power to hold on to the USS Sol with a tractor beam, trying to keep it from drifting uncontrollably, propelled by the plasma and gases it was venting.

The Sol’s condition was much worse than theirs. From the limited information the Luna’s sensors were giving, their sister ship had no life support except for in the cargo bay, and plasma radiation had leaked throughout the ship, threatening any survivors with a most unpleasant death if they weren’t treated in time. T’Pring had noted with alarm that of the life signs left on the Sol, none were Denobulan, which meant it was likely John Quigley, the young tactical Lieutenant she had been coordinating with during the attack, was now in command. That worried her somewhat. She didn’t know much about the young officer, but she knew he was on probationary status for making a rash decision based in human emotion on the away mission to Aris 4 -- and their present situation was obviously far worse than that one.

Ensign Julia Han, the officer assigned to ops, looked intently at her display. “They’ve got limited power back up, probably from emergency power cells. Warp, QSD, impulse and thrusters are all offline. Sir, we need to get them out of there,” she said. “Radiation levels are still critical, life support is severely compromised, and they have multiple hull breaches. The ship is incapable of sustaining life for more than a few hours at best.”

T’Pring nodded slowly. She reached up to brush a lock of black hair away from her forehead, then looked bemusedly at her hand, sticky with green blood. The Luna had its own problems. Other than thrusters, propulsion was offline. Two had been killed, seventy injured – and nineteen of those injuries were life-threatening. Everyone on the bridge was bleeding and bruised. Sickbay was too busy to bring up a dermal regenerator. But at the very least, they weren’t in immediate danger of losing life support or other critical systems, and repairs were already underway.

“Can we communicate with them?” T’Pring asked.

“Negative,” was the reply. “Their transceivers were destroyed in the attack.”

T’Pring tapped her combadge just to see if it would work. Normal range for a personal communicator was several thousand kilometers, but that was when everything was properly calibrated and being boosted by the ship’s communications array. Unless someone on the Sol had thought to calibrate their combadges to use the Luna’s signal instead of the Sol’s, it was unlikely they would get two-way communication through all the radiation and residual interference from the explosion that had destroyed their attackers’ vessel.

“T’Pring to Quigley,” she said, but there was no response. She turned back to Julia. “Do we have enough power to transport a team over to the Sol?”

“Maybe one person,” was Julia’s halfhearted reply. “It’s taking everything we have just to keep them in one place.”

One person. T’Pring’s first thought was that it should be her. With repairs already underway on the Luna, there was nothing for her to do here but give orders – which she could easily do from the Sol, if she could manage to get communications working. The Sol needed her experience and expertise more than the Luna did. The logical choice was for her to go.

Unfortunately, she was in command here. She hesitated. Her internal debate was interrupted by the ensign.

“Lieutenant? We’re being hailed.”

T’Pring looked down at her command interface to look at the data the ensign was seeing. Her single concession to the surprise she felt was to arch an eyebrow slightly. “On screen.”

Lieutenant John Quigley’s young face filled the main display, which was flickering oddly and slightly distorted. T’Pring was unsure of whether it was due to radiation interference or lack of sufficient power flow, but it was irrelevant -- she could hear the lieutenant fine, and see him well enough to conclude that he was in one of the Sol’s two small shuttles. He’s well-trained, she noted. She had seen much more senior officers than John forget about the shuttles during an emergency. She recalled him saying that he had served on the Titan, where Commander Tuvok was chief of security. Surely it was Tuvok’s influence, she thought.

“Lieutenant Quigley,” she greeted him, carefully maintaining a perfectly serene demeanor.

“Good to see your face, T’Pring,” John replied. T’Pring chose not to chastise him for his omission of rank title. “This is probably a stupid question, but are you holding us in a tractor beam?”

“Yes,” T’Pring acknowledged. “You were venting plasma and it was causing you to drift. We are holding you in place for now.”

“Thanks,” John replied with a tired almost-smile. T’Pring thought he looked very fatigued. “We’re in rough shape over here,” he told her. “Nine dead that I know of, including all of our engineers. Dozens injured, forty-three unaccounted for. We’re still waiting on Doctor Duggal to get down here with radiation meds. We’re going to have a lot of sick people on our hands.”

T’Pring nodded. “Acknowledged. We are aware of the radiation problem. It is imperative you evacuate immediately. Your ship is no longer capable of sustaining life. I don’t anticipate you will be able to repair the systems on the vessel before your backup power is exhausted. According to the Luna’s sensors, you have lost twenty two people already. More will die if we don’t act quickly.”

John sucked his breath in sharply. Twenty-two people. He quickly did the math. If she was right, that meant there were still thirty people alive and unaccounted for. “What’s our tactical status?” he asked. “Our attackers?”

“A single ship,” T’Pring informed him. “Destroyed by a transphasic torpedo.”

“That was one ship?” John asked in disbelief. “Evading them was like evading five ships!”

“Their weaponry is formidable,” T’Pring agreed. “As is their cloaking technology. Their destruction was a fortunate act of chance.”

“A lucky shot?” John asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Indeed,” T’Pring acknowledged him with a short nod.

“How’s the Luna?”

“Better, but not much,” T’Pring replied. “We have life support, limited sensor capability and enough power and attitude control to hold you in a tractor beam, but little else.”

“Understood,” John nodded.

“You must begin evacuation,” T’Pring reiterated. “Time is short.”

On screen, John sighed heavily. “Normally, I’d agree, but to where?” he asked. “We don’t even know where the hell we are; this is uncharted space. Have you got a star chart for this region I don’t know about? And are your long-range sensors working? Because the ones on this shuttle aren’t.”

T’Pring shook her head. “No. We also lack long-range sensors. I believe the explosion caused by the destruction of the hostile vessel damaged subspace.”

“I have thirty missing people to track down before I can even think about evacuating,” John said. “I’m not leaving anyone here. Can you use your sensors to find them? Beam them out?”

T’Pring frowned slightly and tapped at her interface. “I may be able to assist you in finding them if we re-route additional power to the sensor array. But we cannot beam them out. We lack the necessary power for transport.”

John looked displeased, but answered simply, “Acknowledged.”

T’Pring had an idea. “We can guide you by voice.” She turned to Julia. “Ensign Han, reroute any available power to the sensors. Apportion some from environmental control, if necessary. See if we can get the exact locations of the life signs aboard the Sol.”

“Yes, sir,” Julia replied, and set about carrying out T’Pring’s orders.

“Our comms. aren’t working,” John reminded T’Pring. “The only way I can talk to you is in this shuttle, and I can’t exactly fly it through the corridors.”

“Nor do I expect you to,” T’Pring said coolly. “I want you to reset your personal combadge to use that shuttle’s comm. system as its primary signal booster and keep the system active. Are you familiar with the procedures?”

John made a face. “It’s been a while,” he admitted. “I think I can do it, though.”

T’Pring nodded. “Good.” She waited as he tapped at his own interface for a few moments, and politely ignored the single Terran curse word she heard him mutter as he fumbled with the unfamiliar comm. controls. She was a moment away from offering assistance when she heard him give the computer his codes.

“Done,” he finally said, cheeks tinged red with what T’Pring assumed was a combination of frustration and embarrassment. “Now what?” He looked up at her on the screen for direction, and she again noted how young he appeared to be. She herself looked not far from him in age, but she was Vulcan, and fifty-one standard years old. Young for her species, very young – but probably nearly double John’s age, she guessed.

“Now return to the cargo bay,” she told him. “We can coordinate both the evacuation and the search effort. You may want to have other officers link their badges to the shuttle, as well, to facilitate communication.”

“Acknowledged,” he replied tersely. “I’m going to test it. I’ll end this transmission and go to combadge only.”

“Understood.” T’Pring waited as the screen went blank, then a moment later, her combadge chirped.

“Quigley to T’Pring.”

She tapped her badge. “I can hear you,” she said. “Good work.” She glanced down at her command interface and forced herself to remain perfectly calm as she noted how much time had passed. “Proceed quickly. Radiation levels are still critical,” she reminded him. “At this rate, any survivors may not be survivors for long.” She delivered the warning with a calculated edge to her voice. She found that when working with officers from less controlled cultures, it was sometimes necessary to purposefully emote when speaking to them over audio channels, lest they not catch one’s full meaning.

“Understood,” came John’s equally terse reply. “Then let’s do this.”
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Old August 24 2010, 09:19 PM   #72
KimMH
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

oooooh! saw that coming a mile away.

*Grins* so not! Love the - what do I call it? Juxtaposition? Irony? Adele gets blindsided by Beckley (I was hoping to see him skulking about!) and they both (?) get taken unawares by Malik. It's one of those things where you knew in RETROSPECT you should have been more cautious. But that won't help right now - huh? Oh yeeesh!

I can't help but be struck by the fact that Malik was the name of one of Dr. Sung's human augments in Enterprise.

Completely off-topic - I also love Ryzal.

I've been so swamped by RL it's wonderful to peek in and find this lovely nugget! Fewer calories and guilt than chocolate! Unlike chocolate - carrying it around in your head as you mull things over - it won't end up on your butt or thighs!

Thank you for another wonderful chapter Kes7!!! Love your new av!

^

didn't even see the newest chapter! it's like freakin' Christmas around here!

I won't say JQ is a surprise. We've known him a little while and know he wouldn't be where he is if he wasn't made of stern enough stuff - but it is great to see him come into his own; as it were. You never really know how you'll handle a catastrophe until you handle a catastrophe! Bravo JQ - we knew you had it in ya!

Funny/sweet/odd that T'Pring sees Tuvok's influence in JQ's command of the situation at hand! Even Vulcans believe what they wish . . .
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Old August 24 2010, 09:32 PM   #73
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Hey, good to see you back here, oldstredshrtevr! I'm sufficiently unfamiliar with Enterprise (working on it, though!) that I didn't realize the Malik thing until it was too late. Oh, well. *shrugs* There are other duplicate names in Trek, too, so at least I'm in good company. So glad you liked the chapter, and Ryzal (who played little more than a bit part here, but I love that you love him). As for their lack of caution ... one of Icheb's greatest strengths AND weaknesses is his innate confidence. Sometimes life sneaks up on him because of it. Unfortunately, this time, it sneaked up on eight other people right along with him.

Thank you so much for the enthusiastic review ... and you cross-posted with a new chapter, so now there's more for you to enjoy (guilt free)!
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Old August 24 2010, 09:47 PM   #74
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

I continue to admire John who seems to have taken to leadership quite well even if I'm sure he himself would probably disagree. But it's about time he gets to do something right for a change. It's interesting to see how he continues to try and account for all of his missing crewmembers. I can see a lot of young officers in that position not keeping that in mind. Having said that, it could become a liability and he might find himself having to make another one of those "the needs of the many" decisions.

I also like T'Pring. She is the kind of refreshing Vulcan who can stay true to her nature but still manage to relate to those pesky emotional species.

Great stuff all around here.
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Old August 25 2010, 12:01 AM   #75
tau136
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract -- Part II

Finally we learn something of what has been going on; tho not who or what the mysterious attackers were. Tesseract might be a heavy hitter but losing both your starships in one go is going to put a wrinkle in anyone’s day. That’s regardless of them sort of scraping; by thanks to, as our Vulcan nicely described it, a lucky shot. Doesn’t T’Pring come across as the typical Vulcan though. JQ’s aplomb has to be down to his training at the hand’s of another Vulcan (Tuvok) not anything else.

JQ is tracking his learning curve well — from the immediate catastrophe and ruthless response (with about the least crew possible) in the last chapter to him beginning to marshal a coherent response and pick up on a larger team thru to the linkage and interaction with the Luna. After we have been left to draw our own conclusions about JQ for at least a chapter and a half we begin to see him thru another’s eyes; one who has no hesitation in analysing his entire history quite dispassionately. What a study in contrast he is for sure; highly effective in a highly charged situation and holding onto essentials that slip by others (the shuttles) yet at the same time hamstringing himself by making a running tally of The Missing and taking each one his personal charge.

In the supermarket here one magazine is doing a special on Ryan Tubridy (chat show host) and, in some ways, the chapter is another magazine piece . . . on JQ. There’s the teaser of A Hard Day at The Office thru to A Workmate’s View. JQ seen thru all possible prisms.

Oh and — Kes; nice job in balancing exactly what works, what's damaged and what's a goner on each ship. I can imagine you, almost, with a pile of little pieces on your desk. That's for Sol ... That's for Luna ... Leave this bit out ...
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