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Old December 24 2011, 02:02 AM   #136
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

I publish these stories on TrekBBS for the sake of it. On Ad Astra my stories have not fell on deaf ears. I write these stories for my own entertainment, if people read or like them, well hey that's great.

To answer your last question, I do have a rough idea for a different (and new) Star Trek series, but the setting is based upon the one developed when this current series (the one I'm publishing) is done. That is at least two years away...

But I like your frank and direct opinion, and I can answer your response with three words: it's for fun.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 24 2011, 09:27 PM   #137
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3

Day 3, 1100 hours

Being the commander of DS9, meant heavy involvement in Bajoran politics and affairs for Ezri. Today she was having a meeting with the Bajoran minister of agriculture concerning a blight that was devastating wheat and rice crops in the Naureefa province. This was steadily turning into a far more serious problem, as the blight was spreading to other parts of the eastern continent.

“-I'll have my chief medical officer analyse samples of the blight, and ask the Federation Bureau of Agricultural Affairs to get their scientists to study the blight. Hopefully with any luck a cure will be found before the planting season, however-”

This is Max to the captain...

Ezri tapped her comm badge. “Dax here.”

Captain you better get to Ops quick because there's a ship of unknown identification decloaking close to the station, and it’s not responding to my hails!

“I'm on my way,” replied Ezri, managing to keep the irritation out of her voice. “Forgive the interruption minister, but I must be at Ops. This shouldn't take long and afterwards we'll resume this conversation on the Naureefa blight.”

The minister scowled at her as she left, but this was what she expected from Nadon. He was somewhat impatient and ambitious, and Ezri knew that Nadon was simply hoop jumping being the minister of Agriculture. No doubt Nadon was aiming for higher postings in the Bajoran government, like the ministry of defence. She found it difficult to talk to Nadon, and her leaving the meeting abruptly would not help matters.

As Ezri headed to Ops, she hoped that Max’s call was a serious matter. While it was odd that a ship of unknown identification had decloaked, it didn’t necessarily mean it was some sort of heavily armed warship. For all she knew this ship could be a freighter and Max had called her over to Ops for nothing.

She stepped out of the turbolift into Ops, just before the turbolift halted, and came over to Max’s station. “This better be important Mr Weatherby, I’ve had to cut short my meeting with the Bajoran minister of agriculture, suffice to say he is not happy about this.”

Max glanced at Ezri, his hands still on the console controls. “This ship still hasn’t answered by hails, and the unusual thing is that this ship’s hull is deflecting most of the sensors. That ship could be anything, a warship, a freighter…”

This struck Ezri as odd, even ominous. “Mr Paulson have you scanned the ship for any weapons or defences?”

“I have,” said Paulson, while frowning at his console. “But I couldn’t get any clear readings.”

“Continue to hail the ship Mr Weatherby…”

“I’m trying,” said Max, sounding as if it were a lost cause, “but there’s no response, I don’t think these people want to talk…”

“Captain,” warned Paulson, his face full of surprise and concern, “I’m detecting elevated energy readings coming from that ship, they could be charging weapons!”

“Red alert,” said Ezri, “raise shields, activate phaser banks and torpedo launchers!”

Paulson though seemed to be having problems with his console. “I can't captain, the computer won't register my commands!”

“What about shields?” asked Ezri, this was an absolutely nightmarish situation but she kept her head about her.

“It's no good,” said Paulson with a shake of his head. “Not even the backups are working! If that ship comes any closer it could blast this station to bits or it could beam people off with impunity!”

“That ship won't be transporting anyone away from this station,” said Nog vehemently, as he rushed by Ezri and Paulson. He headed down into the pit, carrying a toolkit. He slid down the ladder on his legs and hands.

“Holo access the sensor array and use it to scramble everyone's lifesigns!”

“I'm on it,” said Holo, who was looking downwards at Nog. Holo walked over to the other side of Ops to use the engineering consoles.

“The ship won't be able to beam anyone off this station if it can't pick up our lifesigns,” Nog commented, as he tinkered around with various isolinear rods. “There that should it!”

He stood up and his face was visible protruding just above the level of the floor. “Reconfigure the sensors now Holo!”

“Reconfiguring…” said Holo, his hands worked at light speed across the console. “There it’s done every ones lifesigns are scrambled to the hostile ship’s sensors!”

“Good work chief, Holo,” said Ezri appreciatively, that was one problem now solved. “Now what about weapons and shields we're sitting ducks-”

Ops shook, as the ship attacked the station, Ezri grabbed onto to a nearby handrail to steady herself.

“They're targeting the station's shields generations and weapon's arrays! Plus they're taking potshots at the Defiant!” reported Paulson.

Knowing that there wouldn’t be the time to resolve the computer malfunctions, Ezri quickly thought about her options, and finally came to an idea. “Chief has the Defiant been affected by these computer malfunctions?”

“No it hasn't captain, because it has its own separate computer,” said Nog, who was now back at the engineering station.

This was what Ezri wanted to hear. “Paulson, Nog, Weatherby and Holo, you are with me, we'll use the Defiant to defend DS9!”

Together the five headed to the turbo lift, once inside Ezri said ‘Defiant’. The turbo lift moved downwards and at that moment she started worrying about something else, no doubt the enemy ship would redouble its attack on the Defiant. She could only hope that the Defiant’s ablative armour would hold up, long enough for her and the Defiant’s crew to get on board.


***


Ezri walked at a brisk pace, followed by her officers, to the Defiant. Everything told her that this was an Apocalypse attack, and DS9’s only hope of survival lay in the Defiant. Though the Apocalypse ship was attacking the Defiant, she was confident that the Defiant’s ablative armour would hold until she got their. However it seemed the enemy ship was focusing most of its fire power upon DS9 and not the Defiant.

With each blast from the Apocalypse ship, the station jolted and Ezri and her officers had to momentarily place a supporting hand against the wall to steady themselves. There was a suddenly more powerful jolt, which knocked Ezri off balance. She fell to the floor and the moment she did so, the loud sound of an explosion reverberated around the corridor. Almost immediately afterwards various alarms went off along the corridor.

“What was that?” said Ezri, the moment she got to her feet.

Nog went over and tapped a few commands on a panel to assess the situation. “There's been an explosion in docking ring two! The docking port has been completely destroyed and the Defiant docking hatch took some considerable damage. We can't directly access the Defiant!”

“Then beam the crew over onto the Defiant!” said Ezri angrily.

“We'll go to transporter bay four,” said Nog, “it's the closest to us.”

Ezri and the group walked back up the corridor, and their pace had quickened considerably. The explosion reinforced Ezri’s conviction that this attack, with its unusual precision, was all an elaborate means to abduct people. So far there had not been any boarding parties, but from what she knew about the Apocalypse abductions, this attack matched the general pattern.

As she walked, her chief of security Larry Paulson came to her side. “Sir someone has sabotaged DS9's computer, it is the only explanation for the shields and weapon systems suddenly becoming unresponsive!”

“Of course it's sabotage,” replied Ezri bitterly, “but right now we don't who or what is causing the sabotage. Post additional security around critical areas of the station and tell your staff to comb every station system to look for any unidentified devices which are interacting with the station's systems!”

“Aye sir,” responded Paulson.

While Paulson dashed ahead of them, Ezri and the remainder of the group turned left. A minute later they came outside of transporter bay four, and upon entering, Nog dashed over to the console controlling the transporter pad.

“This shouldn't take long...” said Nog, his hands busy at the controls.

The seconds stretched by and Nog frowned at the console, something was giving him some serious grief.

Ezri who was impatiently waiting for Nog to finish, could not keep silent any longer. “Is something wrong chief?”

Nog disregarded the console, and looked at Ezri in an awkward way. “The transporter controls have gone suddenly unresponsive, I don't understand it! One moment I'm inputting commands and the next I'm shut out of the system!”

The computer problems were starting to drive Ezri crazy, but despite her frustration she started thinking about a plan C. “Someone must be directly accessing the computer and monitoring what we do…”

She continued talking as it allowed her to focus on the problems. “The moment we use transporters they suddenly can't be used... This is someone who has a certain level of command code access, a Starfleet or Bajoran crew member perhaps.”

She tapped her comm badge. “This is Dax to Paulson...”

Paulson here.

“I want you to redouble your efforts to find out who has been sabotaging the station's computer. Restrict computer usage only to authorized personal, get all the civilians into their quarters, and assign all security personal into pairs. Monitor all computer usage, I think our saboteur is a member of the crew.”

Understood, Paulson out.

“Do you really think such measures will catch the saboteur?” asked Holo, every word was dripping with scepticism.

“They better do,” said Ezri grimly. “We're restricting his domain, any illicit computer usage will be detected and all the crew members are watching one and another to make sure no one is deliberately manipulating the computer.”

Momentarily she paused, as she thought about the orders she was going to give out. “Holo and Nog your with me, we'll go to Ops and try to get weapons and shields operational. Mr Weatherby go to the chemistry lab and secure everything inside. That ship may try to send over some boarding parties, and if they do so the chemistry lab is an obvious place to go.”

Just as she was about to walk, the station shook again, and her hands flew to a bulkhead to steady herself. Once the shaking had stopped, she ran out of the transporter bay. Time was of the essence here, every second that DS9 did not have weapons or shields, was another second where everybody’s lives were in jeopardy.

As she ran along corridors to reach the nearest turbolift, she felt a terrible powerless feeling build up inside of her. The Apocalypse ship was running rings around her, it was in near total control of the situation. She did her best to quash the hopelessness she felt, she was still alive, and she may have the time to implement her plan C…


***


Ezri was working at the secondary tactical console, she was continually trying to access the weapons and shields but she had zero luck. The computer lockouts could not be bypassed, but she kept trying anyway. She glanced briefly at Nog and Holo who were just visible working in the engineering pit. For the last five minutes they had been reconfiguring DS9’s main computer, removing and reconfiguring optronic control rods to change the command code pathways.

If it worked, weapons and shields could be activated, though only the back-ups. The Apocalypse ship had disabled all of the primary phaser banks, photon torpedo launchers and primary shield generators. Ezri only hoped that the secondary phaser banks and secondary shield generators would be enough. The only good thing to have happened was the cessation of the attack.

In some ways this worried Ezri even more, because it seemed the Apocalypse ship was waiting for something. There were too many mysteries and puzzles, so Ezri focused her mind on simply getting DS9’s defences operational.

“Captain,” said Paulson, his voice rife with concern. “I'm detecting multiple transporter signatures throughout the station! We're being boarded!”

Ezri momentarily closed her eyes, so this was what the Apocalypse ship had been planning. “Tell your security details to protect and hold key strategic areas.”

“I'm trying,” said Paulson a little desperately, “but communications have gone down!”

That damn virus thought Ezri angrily. “Chief have you had any luck purging the virus from the computer?”

“I'm halfway there,” said Nog, he was concentrating intently on some optronic rods. “I've managed to quarantine the virus to certain systems, and removed it from shields and weapons. We should have shields and weapons operational in a few minutes time.”

“Make it quick,” said Ezri testily, she was on the verge of losing control of the whole situation. She needed some luck, some good news and fast…

“Captain,” warned Paulson, “there are transporter signatures in this-”

He ducked when a phaser round came very close to hitting where his chest formerly was.

Ezri dived for cover behind the secondary tactical console, she pulled out her phaser and briefly looked up to see where the intruders were. They looked like heavily armed soldiers, complete with brown-orange coloured armour, helmets, secondary weapons and a very mean looking phaser rifle.

One of the soldiers was making a beeline to Nog’s and Holo’s position.

Ezri saw this and was about to fire at him, when a grenade rolled close by her. She lurched away at top speed, and jumped over a railing trying to put as much distance between her and the grenade as possible. It made a bang, and there was a flash, but nothing happened to Ezri.

She realised it was a stun grenade of some sort because a few of the officers had their hands to their eyes, obviously disorientated. When she found cover again, she noticed that the soldier she was about to fire at, had already reached Nog’s and Holo’s position. She reached for her phaser but knew she was too late.

The soldier took out what appeared to be a small phaser and fired it at Nog and Holo.

Almost immediately they dematerialized, and Ezri couldn’t believe what had happened. She pulled the trigger, and a phaser round came out of her weapon, hitting the soldier in his chest.

He collapsed to the floor, a hand clutched to his chest, he was still alive but incapacitated.

Ezri dashed over to him, desperate to snatch from him the gadget he had used to transport Nog and Holo off the station. She bent over double to avoid the phaser rounds flying over her head, and ran over to the dying soldier.

She crouched down as low as possible, and she spotted the gadget clutched in the soldier’s hand. She pulled it out of his strong grip with a powerful tug. Somehow the soldier was still alive, and sensing danger, Ezri fired her phaser again.

The round hit the soldier’s head, and blood spurted out, his eyes glazed over and froze.

Ezri raced back to cover, she ignored the horrible guilty feeling inside her. She had to kill that soldier because he could have reached for his weapon. She cast her guilt to one side, she had a station to defend, and lives to protect… Once behind cover, she quickly examined the gadget. It was shaped like a Klingon disruptor pistol, though the barrel was cylindrical with segmented holes. She banged the bottom of the handle, to dislodge the magazine.

Sure enough it dislodged, and Ezri pulled it out. She tipped the magazine upside-down, until a round fell onto her palm. She only needed one round, and she held onto it with one hand, and with her other placed the magazine back into the gun.

Looking around she spotted Paulson a few metres next to her, she dashed over to his position. “You have to keep these soldiers occupied before reinforcements arrive,” she told him.

“Where are you going?”

“To the Infirmary, I'll warn Bashir about these transporter darts, perhaps he can find a way to mask our lifesigns in close quarters. Also I'll be rerouting command controls over to the Infirmary, I'll set up a temporary command base there.”

She gave Paulson the gun. “Take this, it fires darts that transport people away…”

There was no way of getting out of Ops, so Ezri had no other choice but to use her site-to-site transporter placed into her jacket’s sleeve. She hoped this worked because she was counting on the fact that the transporter pads were still able to materialise people. It was a risk, but she had no other choice, she had to found a way to neutralise the transporter darts.

Pressing the device, she dematerialized and all she could to do was hope that she would reform and not scatter into oblivion…
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 25 2011, 10:44 PM   #138
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 1

The moment the red alert had been issued, Megan remained in the astronomy lab. There was nothing for her to do, accept wait for whatever orders would come next. But she could not stand waiting around, so she decided to tap into the station’s visual feeds and monitor what was going on inside of Ops.

She found out that DS9 was being attacked by an unidentified ship, and also that the station’s weapons and shields could not be accessed. This seemed very unusual to Megan, and she could only deduce that this was caused by sabotage. So she decided to do some investigating herself into what was causing the computer problems, but all she could detect were unusual packets of code being carried around in the computer’s database. She could not determine the cause of these code packets, and this made the computer problems all the more mysterious.

She had been so engaged with the computer problems, that she was not noticing what was happening in Ops from the visual feed. However something caught her eye, and looking at the camera image on the screen, Megan realised there were intruders in Ops. They looked like soldiers but it seemed they were having extreme difficulty overcoming Ops defenders.

Megan noticed one soldier pull out a funny looking gun, and aim it at Holo and Nog. He fired twice, and Holo and Nog were suddenly beamed away. Megan did a double-take to make sure she had seen that correctly, but there was no mistaking it. As Holo and Nog were being beamed away they each had some sort of dart embedded into one part of their body.

Suddenly Megan realised she could no longer just stand here and watch events unfold. She had seen similar transporter technology before, and she realised the soldiers were carrying transporter tracer guns. It seemed Paulson and Ezri had no idea how to defend themselves from this device, but Megan knew what to do.

She hurried over to a compartment, embedded into the wall, on the other side of the room. Opening it she removed a toolkit, having done that she then stared all around the room looking for something that would serve as a subspace field generator.

Her eyes fell upon the communications panel close to the entrance. Behind that was a subspace band receiver, with a little modification she could modify the crystals inside the device into a rudimentary transporter scrambler device. It was a little something she had picked up from Jack during her time as an Starfleet Intelligence agent. Hopefully her improvised transporter scrambler should be enough to counter the transporter darts…

However that was only the first step, it guaranteed her safety from the transporter darts, but she needed to find a more general way to protect everyone else from these transporter darts. She decided that when she was finished here, she would find Max and talk to him about finding a measure against the transporter darts.

She then set to work, and the first thing she did was remove the communications panel, and start messing around with the components inside…


***


When Kira felt the first shaking of the station, she thought of only one thing; getting to the console in her living room. Once there she started monitoring the station’s systems. She found out about the unidentified ship attacking the station, the computer virus which was disabling various critical systems one by one. When there were reports of boarding parties, Kira could feel the call to action.

She deactivated her console, and opened up a drawer, just below, revealing two Bajoran disruptors and a tricorder. Taking them out she placed them on top of the console.

“Mother what's going on?” asked Mia, as she eyed up the disruptors.

Kira did not initially respond as she armed her own personal disruptor, she had used this weapon for over 25 years and it had never let her down. “There's an unidentified ship attacking this station, and it has sent over boarding parties.”

She grabbed hold of the second disruptor and offered it to Mia. “Here take it.”

Cautiously Mia took it, and she looked very daunted. “I'm not going to use this am I?”

“Damn right you are!” said Kira fiercely, and she moved around the console. “I've managed to tap into short-range sensors and there are six intruders approaching this corridor, they've stopped running and I have no idea what they are doing. But they may come into this room and we need to defend ourselves. Get over there by the sofa, and take cover.”

Mia looked completely out of her element. “How do I use this weapon?” she asked sounding super nervous.

With a painful jolt Kira remembered that Mia had zero combat training or experience. Indeed it was probably more risky getting Mia to defend this room, than if Kira just defended the room by herself. But she needed a second person to ambush the intruders if there was any chance she could succeed. “It's on kill setting,” she explained, “aim down the sight, pull the trigger and fire. There's hardly any recoil, so if your aim is right you won't miss. I'll be over here.”

Mia simply nodded, seemingly to frightened to say anything.

Kira slowly moved over into position, and she inwardly cursed herself for her unresponsive muscles. If she had full mobility, she could have single handedly taking on those intruders. When she was in position, she trained her disruptor at the door. “Computer dim the lights by ninety percent!”

The room became nearly pitch black, Kira had wanted to deactivate the lights, but she feared that if Mia could not see her weapon at all, then her daughter would misaim horribly.

With her other hand, Kira removed a tricorder from her trouser pocket. She scanned the corridor and watched on the tricorder screen as the intruders come steadily closer, before coming to a stop outside of her quarters.

It was just as she feared, and she calmed herself and let that sense of purpose descend upon her. “They're right outside,” she whispered to Mia. “Keep quiet, and when those intruders come in, you fire that disruptor as if your life depended upon it!”

Kira was certain that Mia was absolutely terrified, as Mia’s breathing was absolutely erratic and ragged. She only hoped that Mia would keep her head and fire when the intruders came bursting in. Disregarding the tricorder, she focused solely upon her disruptor keeping it at chest height level, the setting was on kill.

The door then opened and a grenade rolled in, Kira tried to lower herself but her legs refused to comply. She then saw Mia dashing towards the grenade. “Mia no, take cover!” she screamed.

Mia though dived to the floor, and chucked the grenade through the still-open door.

The grenade went out of sight and made a loud bang. To Kira’s intense relief none of the explosion came through the door. Kira was in shock, she could not believe what her daughter had done.

Mia lifted herself off the floor, there was a deeply relieved and victorious expression on her face. “There are no more intrude-”

Suddenly two of the intruders came dashing through the front door, their phasers trained on Mia.

Without thinking Kira discharged a phaser round for each soldier.

The soldiers dropped to the floor dead.

“Now there's no more intruders...” said Kira quietly.

She walked over to Mia, and she wondered how Mia would react to seeing dead bodies.

Mia though simply stared at them in a dazed manner.

Kira was impressed by how calmly her daughter was taking this in, she had expected her daughter to panic and freeze but Mia had done the exact opposite. This deeply surprised Kira, especially the suicidal dash to chuck the grenade out of the room. The grenade… she was going have to reprimand Mia severely for that insane action.

“You stupid girl,” she shouted, “you should have taken cover when that stun grenade rolled in! It could have been anything, it could have gone off and you would have severely injured if not dead!”

Mia averted her gaze from the dead bodies, and looked at her angry mother. “I was saving you,” she protested, “you wouldn't have gotten to cover quick enough.”

“Well that's a brave thing to do,” admitted Kira, “but it's still incredibly stupid. Come on help me remove these bodies out of our home.”

Such bravery on Mia’s part meant that Kira couldn’t stay angry with her daughter for long. Without Mia’s action they could have both wound up dead or captured, and she should be grateful for Mia's bravery.

“I’m proud of you by the way,” said Kira, as she assisted Mia in carrying a body. “What you did back there was very brave… and in that situation you exceeded my every expectation…”

Mia smiled slightly, but still looked shaken. “I came close to absolutely panicking, but I looked at you and saw how composed you were... I found courage in that, and when the grenade rolled in, all I could think of was saving you.”

“Well you were lucky,” said Kira, when she was outside of the quarters, “because it was only a stun grenade. Even so it was still a really stupid thing to do.”

At that moment six security guards arrived, they looked nervously at the whole situation.

“Are you all right colonel?” asked a guard in Bajoran uniform.

“I’m fine, as is my daughter. She is a little shaken but she will be all right.”

“We’ll take these four intruders to a holding cell,” replied the guard.

While his companions picked up the intruders, the guard stayed where he was, and looked at Kira with a mixture of puzzlement and awe. “If I may, how did you manage to hold off against six heavily armed soldiers?”

“I’ll explain to you later what happened. Right now you have to defend this station, that’s an order!”

The guard nodded. “I’ll post two guards for your protection.”

“That’s much appreciated,” said Kira.

The guard then walked over to his companions to help them carry the knocked out enemy soldiers.

Kira was surprised by how readily the guard had accepted her order. Technically she was on medical leave, and did not have the authority to give orders to other officers. She then looked at Mia and saw the disturbed look on her daughter’s face. No doubt Mia was coming to terms with what had happened, and it was best that Mia did so in the privacy of her quarters…


***


Ezri had her eyes tightly shut, she only knew that she had materialized when her feet made contact with the transporter pad. Opening her eyes she looked downwards at her torso, arms and legs and was pleased to see that everything was where it should be. She realised she was in cargo bay five, and thirteen levels below the Promenade.

So she left the cargo bay and headed to the nearest turbolift. She could only hope that the ship’s soldiers had not transported onto the Promenade, otherwise it could be next to impossible to safely reach the Infirmary.

“Promenade,” she said when inside a turbolift.

As the turbolift moved upwards, Ezri gripped onto her phaser rifle, her finger ready at the trigger, and she stood close to the side of the door. That way once the turbo lift door opened, she would have some cover in case anybody tried to fire at her.

The turbo lift came to a halt, and the door opened. Ezri could hear phaser fire, and peaking her head slightly out of the door she looked at what was happening. To her left were the soldiers taking cover behind various bulkheads and store fronts, and Ezri deduced that the station’s security was to her right.

A phaser round came within inches of hitting the side of her head, and Ezri quickly moved her head back into cover. She recognised where exactly she was in the Promenade, and realised that Jake’s restaurant was only a few metres to her right. All she had to do was run out of the turbolift, go a couple of metres and she would have some cover.

But she needed a distraction, a big one. She then noticed her phaser pistol in a holder attached to her waist. If the phaser pistol were to overload, it would cause a big enough bang to momentarily distract the guards. Taking out the phaser pistol, she reconfigured the circuitry and rigged the phaser to overload. The phaser began to make a whining sound, that became steadily louder.

Knowing she did not have much time left, Ezri took aim, and threw the phaser pistol at the soldiers. Some seconds later there was a colossal bang, and Ezri burst out of the turbo lift, running at full pace to Jake’s restaurant. She jumped over the low front wall, where the top was covered in broken glass, and landed onto a floor full of slippery glass shards.

She lost balance, and fell forwards grazing her knees, she managed to get her left arm out and she used it to take some of the fall. Her jacket sleeve was torn to shreds against the glass, and the glass also dug into her flesh ripping it to pieces. She came to a stop, her face just centimetres from the floor. Standing up, she felt pain erupt all over her left forearm and knees. Examining her arm there were deep cuts from where the glass penetrated.

Ignoring the pain, she crouched down and cautiously approached the front wall again. None of the soldiers seemed to have noticed her, but Ezri could see that the station’s security guards were less than ten metres away from her. She tried to wave her left arm to catch their attention, but she desisted when some enemy phaser rounds hit a bulkhead she was sheltering behind.

However her motions had done the trick, and she noticed some of the security personal looking at her. Their lips were moving but Ezri was not sure what they were saying over all the din of the near constant phaser fire. Two of the security guards then chucked a grenade each, Ezri recognised the grenades as Starfleet standard issue smoke grenades.

The grenades landed some metres away from the soldiers, and began billowing out smoke. A few seconds later the smoke had screened the soldiers from view, and Ezri took her chances and ran out of the restaurant. She kept close to a wall, as the soldiers were still taking random pot shots.

Finally she made it to the security guards, who were taking cover behind various store fronts and bulkheads.

“Captain are we glad to see you!” said one of the guards, whom Ezri recognised as one of Paulson’s security deputies. “Communications have been down and we have no idea what’s going on. What are our orders?”

“Maintain your position,” said Ezri. “I need you to continue defending the Infirmary at all costs!”

“Understood captain,” said the guard.

While the guard gave out orders to the personal under his command, Ezri headed to the Infirmary. She saw Jake in the first room giving basic first aid to some of the newly arrived patients.

“Captain,” said Jake, leaving a patient and hurrying over to her. “Do you mind telling me what’s happening?”

“We’re under attack by an unidentified ship,” said Ezri quickly, coming to a stop. “Weapons and shields are down, but it seems the ship has no interest in destroying the station, just capturing it. Listen Jake I really need to talk to doctor Bashir, just promise me you’ll keep your head down and stay safe?”

“I know the drill Dax,” said Jake, and he returned to his patient.

Ezri moved onwards and entered into the patient’s ward, in there she found Bashir who was talking to two doctors. “Doctor there you are, I need your help!”

Bashir turned around, and he did not look too pleased. “In case you hadn’t noticed I have patients to attend to!”

He then frowned slightly when he saw Ezri’s tattered and bloodied jacket sleeve. “What happened to your arm?”

“I fell on some glass, and it cut my arm up, it’s nothing.”

“Nothing my ass!” exclaimed Julian. “Those are some seriously deep cuts. Shaster get a dermal regenerator and run it over the captain’s forearm!”

Doctor Shaster approached Ezri with the dermal regenerator, and ungratefully Ezri allowed Shaster to proceed. “Julian I need you to find a way to scramble everyone's lifesigns, against this transporter device.”

While Shaster was busy on her left arm, she placed her rifle on an empty bed, and removed the transporter tracer gun which was attached to her belt. She handed the gun to Bashir.

“What exactly is it?” asked Bashir, his eyes were all over the gadget, and he was turning it around in his right hand.

“It fires some sort of dart,” explained Ezri, “which has an inbuilt transporter device, the moment the dart hits a humanoid subject the person is beamed away.”

“Ingenious...” said Bashir, looking at the gadget in a somewhat awestruck manner.

Ezri though was disgusted to see the interest which Bashir displayed for this weapon, so she decided to tell him just what this weapon had done. “I snatched this gun off one of the soldiers, he had used it against Holo and Nog in Ops. They were beamed off the station the moment when a dart hit them.”

Now Bashir looked horrified. “But if there other enemy soldiers with this gun…”

Ezri decided to ram her point home to Bashir. “If you don't find a measure against this, any number of officers could be beamed out of this station!”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 25 2011, 10:44 PM   #139
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 2

Megan ran along the corridors, the sooner she got to Max the better. She wondered how many more officers had been beamed off this station, in the same way as Holo and Nog. Dark thoughts circulated around in her head, and she was relieved to see the door leading to the chemistry lab.

She burst inside and saw Max and Tanya moving equipment. “Max we have a major problem,” she said, while breathing deeply. “The intruders have some sort of gun that fires dart shaped transporter devices. Once the device hits a person they're beamed over.”

Pulling the belt on her trousers she showed to Max the device on her waist. “This device here jams any transporter signals, but there is no way of replicating enough of them. What we need is a general transporter jamming device!”

Max placed a fist against his nose, and closed his eyes. When he was done, he opened his eyes and lowered his hand. “If we could block the transporter locks from the enemy ship that might do the trick, but we would need to generate some sort of field to block transporter beams. Some modifications of the station's deflector array may produce the desired results!”

It was a decent idea, and Megan followed Max and Tanya to the exit.

Suddenly there was an explosion at the exit, and the door was blasted to pieces. Max and Tanya were blasted backwards, hitting the consoles hard upon landing. Six enemy soldiers came bursting into the room, and Megan dived for cover behind a sturdy looking console. She looked to her left and saw Max, crouching down next to her, and looking past Max she saw Tanya standing behind a bulkhead. Both it seemed did not seem to hurt by the blast.

They were all pinned down, and could not even raise a hand above cover without a phaser round hitting whatever they were hiding behind.

“We'll never get those intruders off our backs!” said Max.

“What we need is more firepower,” shouted Megan to make herself heard above the raucous made by the phaser fire.

“I don't see any weapons lying around here.”

“This is a chemistry lab!” said Megan disbelievingly. “Don't you store all sorts of dangerous and explosive chemicals and substances?”

“Yes but they're all locked away, and to unlock the security door I'll need at least ten seconds to punch in the unlock codes.”

“Tanya and I will give you a diversion,” replied Megan, she looked over to Tanya. “You got that Tanya?”

Tanya nodded, her phaser pistol pointed upwards, she was bracing herself for action.

Megan gave the countdown. “Three, two, one... Now!”

Both she and Tanya came halfway out of cover, and fired repeatedly at soldier's positions. It sort of worked because the soldiers hid behind cover.

However Megan knew she could not keep firing like this at the soldiers, soon one would take a pot shot at her. There was a clicking sound, and suddenly her left forearm stung painfully. At once Megan lowered herself, and examined her arm, one of those transporter darts had embedded itself into her arm. She had to pull it out, and gritting her teeth, she pulled the dart out with her right hand.

There was a sudden burst of pain before it subsided, while a trickle of blood came pouring out of the wound. She chucked away the transporter dart, and suddenly remembered with a jolt about covering for Max. Looking around she saw that the storeroom door was open, so Max must have made it safely inside.

Tanya occasionally fired, keeping the soldiers at bay, and this gave Megan the time to tend to her wound. She ripped a portion of her shirt sleeve off and bandaged it around the wound to staunch the blood flow. Once she had done that, she resumed taking pot shots at the soldiers.

She was so busy holding off the soldiers, she did not even notice that Max had returned to her position. Only when she took cover again did she spot Max, his arms were bulging with jars and tools.

“What have you got?” she asked to Max.

“A fiery surprise for these bastards,” said Max, as he bared his teeth. “Nitrideloxigen mixed with ammonia crystals, quite a flammable mix when combined together and given a spark to set it off. What happened to your arm?”

“One of those transporter darts struck me, looks like my transporter jamming device worked.”

Megan took another pot shot, and as she lifted her head above the console she noticed one soldier advancing closer to her position. She fired at the soldier, who took cover, but she knew she could not hold them up indefinitely. “You better hurry up with the mixing, because those soldiers are advancing on us!”

“I'm working as fast as I can,” said Max tensely, he was mixing two compounds together in a jar. “If I make the wrong mixture it will blow up and we'll be burnt to cinders!”

The fire fight continued, and the soldiers steadily gained ground, they were only five metres away from Megan.

“Now are you ready?” asked Megan impatiently.

“Yeah,” said Max. “You cover me while I chuck the two jars over.”

“This substance explodes if you shake it?” said Megan in a surprised voice.

Max nodded. “A good knock would do the trick, enough talking the substance is already-”

A transporter dart hit Max’s shoulder and he dematerialized. At once Megan fired her phaser at the flanking soldier who had fired the transporter tracer gun. By the time he keeled over, Max had already disappeared.

“Max!” screamed Tanya.

Now though was not the time for grief, there were still five soldiers and Megan knew the only chance of defeating them was to chuck the two jars of flammable liquid at them.

“Tanya cover me!” said Megan.

There was no response and Megan looked at Tanya whose face was contorted in pain and grief. “Now Tanya!” shouted Megan desperately as if her life depended upon it.

Tanya’s face stiffened up and she went out of cover, firing round after round.

Megan went up from cover, holding a jar in each hand. She took aim and chucked both jars at the soldiers.

The jars landed within three metres of each other, and upon contact with the floor, they exploded releasing white fire. The soldiers were enveloped in flames, and they made hideous cries of pain as the fire consumed them. Such screaming caused the hairs on the back of Megan's neck to stand up on end. However it was what those soldiers deserved, because they were hell bent on killing her and her colleagues.

Now the fire was starting to spread, and Megan dashed over to get a fire extinguisher. She returned to the fire and sprayed it profusely with the extinguisher’s air mixture. Tanya joined in and after some moments the two had successfully extinguished the fire.

Looking downwards, Megan saw the charred and twisted bodies of the soldiers. Even though their faces were blackened and unrecognisable there was no mistaking the frozen screams of pain etched onto their mouths.

“Tanya come with me,” said Megan, “we need to get the deflector grid and modify it.”

There was no response and turning around, Megan saw Tanya slumped on the floor, silently crying. “Tanya?”

Tears leaked from Tanya's eyes, and Megan walked over and stood beside Tanya. “Tanya we have to modify the deflector array otherwise more people will be beamed off the station like Max was!”

“He's gone,” said Tanya in a choked voice. “And those bastards took him from me!”

Megan felt exactly what Tanya was feeling, but now was not the time for grief… “You can grief for Max later, but I need you Tanya, and you can't let your personal feelings get in the way of your duty.”

“You're right...” said Tanya, once again she pulled herself together and got onto her feet. Even so she still looked horribly wounded and defeated.

Sensing Tanya’s low morale, Megan sought to find the words to encourage the woman. “We'll stop this attack, capture that ship, and rescue Max I promise you...”

Tanya looked marginally more hopeful, but it was the best that Megan could hope for. As the two walked Megan could not begin to imagine what Tanya must have been thinking and feeling at the moment. She knew that Tanya deeply loved Max, and this love must have only compounded Tanya’s pain…

Megan herself was in deep pain, her insides were screaming at what had happened. She loved Max to, but she could not let her grief and pain get the better of her. When this whole situation had been resolved, maybe later in the privacy of her quarters she could think about what had happened. But not now, there were lives to protect and people who needed her...


***


The last fifteen minutes had been the longest of Ezri’s life. She was commanding the security guards who had been defending the Infirmary. Without her orders, the security lines would have collapsed under the relentless onslaught by the Apocalypse soldiers. Most of her mental energy was focused upon defending the lines, while in the back of her mind was Bashir's plan to release a mildly radioactive grendium isotope throughout the station.

She could have assisted Bashir in reconfiguring the station's atmosphere controls to emit the isotope, and got the job done in a fraction of a time. But in that time the Apocalypse soldiers could have broken the lines and stormed into the Infirmary.

Huddled against a fallen bulkhead lying on the Promenade, Ezri decided it was time to check up on Bashir. Bending over double, she ran over into the Infirmary. Once inside the relative safety of the Infirmary she headed over to the surgery room where Bashir was working.

“Are you making any progress?” asked Ezri, while she rested her phaser rifle on top of a console.

“I'm getting there,” said Bashir in a self-absorbed voice, as he tinkered with the insides of a console. “But I need more time, besides I'm no engineer, Holo and Nog could do this in the fraction of the time it's taking me.”

“In case you haven't noticed Holo and Nog aren't here to help, and we don't have any engineers nearby. We're running out of time, the soldiers are advancing on our position, and I don't know how much longer the security guards can keep them at bay!”

She picked up her phaser rifle, and returned to the patient’s ward. She could see just outside the entrance to the Infirmary the phaser beams coming from the Apocalypse soldiers. They were coming to close to the Infirmary, scarily close. Walking along the rows of injured she spotted Jake lying a person down on a bed.

“Hang in there Jake...” she said when she was close to him.

Jake looked up from the person on the bed. “Don't worry about me, just keep those soldiers off our backs!”

Suddenly four of the Apocalypse soldiers came bursting into the Infirmary. One of them pulled out a transporter tracer gun and fired.

Instinctively Ezri looked to see who the soldier had aimed for. Her eyes came to rest on Jake, who had a transporter dart embedded into his right shoulder. He did not seem aware of what had happened, and he dematerialized.

“Jake!” called out Ezri desperately, though there was nothing she could do.

She came back to her senses when a phaser beam came within inches of missing her, she dashed back into the surgery room. “Julian are you nearly done?”

“Almost...” he said tensely, he seemed to realise the dire urgency of the situation.

Ezri took cover behind a console, and fired her rifle keeping the Apocalypse soldiers at bay. “They took Jake,” she said, in an attempt to spur Bashir on.

“I'm nearly there,” said Bashir.

Once more Ezri popped up above cover and discharged a few phaser rounds. There was something odd in the soldier’s behaviour in that they seemed intent upon either killing or capturing her.

She lifted herself upwards to take aim when she felt a transporter dart hit her shoulder. “Julian!” she shouted desperately.

“No!” shouted Bashir.

The last thing Ezri saw was Bashir’s stricken face. As she dematerialized all she could feel was numbness, DS9 really was at the mercy of the Apocalypse ship…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 28 2011, 01:13 AM   #140
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5

Day 3, 1135 hours

Megan worked feverishly in the deflector array control room reconfiguring the EPS feed. She was the more skilled at engineering than Tanya was, so she worked while Tanya passed her the tools. What she was doing was to get the deflector array to generate a multiphasic force field, strong enough to block transporter signals.

“There, that should do it,” said Megan, placing the panel back onto the EPS feed controls. “Computer activate program Megan 01.”

“Program initiated.”

“Did it work?” asked Tanya.

“The multiphasic force field is active, it should work as the energy output is above 6500 gigahertz/joules equivalent.”

Megan started to tidy up the mess she created modifying the EPS feed controls, she was halfway there when Bashir called.

Bashir to Megan.

Megan tapped her comm badge. “Megan here.”

Dax has been abducted,” said Bashir grimly. “The only good news is that the soldiers have left the station, and communications have been restored. You are the highest ranking and technically most senior officer, so you are in command now.

For a heartbeat Megan was frozen in shock, the captain, Ezri Dax, abducted off DS9... she could not believe it. However her sense of duty soon overrode any impulses to react to her emotions.

“Understood,” said Megan, her voice devoid of emotion. “Tend to the wounded doctor, I'll be in Ops. Felpes out.”

She double tapped her comm badge. “Felpes to Ops.”

Lieutenant commander Paulson speaking.

“What has happened to the enemy ship?”

It has broke off its engagement and is about to decloak.

“Tractor beam the ship!” ordered Megan while the anger coursed through her voice. “It is not getting away, not with the captain on board!”

It's no good commander!” replied Paulson frustratedly. “The tractor beam arrays were also affected by the computer virus. The enemy ship is decloaking... It's out of range of this station's sensors, there's nothing more we can do!

All Megan could do was simply fume, the enemy ship had literally run rings around all of DS9’s defences. It felt like she had been mugged, the attack had been so sudden, and the abductions took place so fast… “Stand down from red alert. I regret to inform you that the captain was abducted, I’m in command now.”

The captain was abducted?” exclaimed Paulson sounding immensely shocked.

“I’ll explain to you later what precisely happened. Right now I want your guards to carry out a head count, I want to know just how many people were beamed aboard that ship!”

Understood commander.

Megan tapped her comm badge to end the transmission, she knew that Paulson felt just as bad as she did about Dax’s abduction. It was horrible but she would not let her feelings affect her duties. Now that she was commander of the station she had a whole host of tasks to deal with, starting with Tanya.

Tanya was no longer crying, she just looked lost and utterly dejected.

But Megan needed Tanya, as she was a valuable officer. Megan crouched down, her head level with Tanya’s, and she decided to broach her order to Tanya as gently as possible. “Tanya I know this a bad time for you, but I need you to analyse the transporter darts. I'll also promoting you to chief of science for the time being, until we get Max back.”

“He's not coming back,” replied Tanya with a terrible tone of finality to her voice. “We have no idea where that ship is heading, or what those soldiers are going to do to him.”

Megan did not know what to say to this, so she decided to keep to business. “I want a report on those transporter darts in the commander's office by 2100 hours today.”

Tanya got to her feet and simply nodded, before leaving the room and stepping into the conduit.

As Megan watched her go, she could not help but admire the dignity which Tanya held herself. There were no more tears, just a grim determination on her face. The only indication of Tanya’s pain was how rigidly she held herself.

For a brief moment Megan watched, before following Tanya into the conduit. She was only a few feet behind Tanya, as she went on her hands and knees against the metal floor. There was an absolute silence between the two, and Megan was privately glad that she did not have to talk Tanya anytime soon.

As Megan crawled, she thought about the tasks she had to do to restore the command structure on board DS9. Her first priority was to get to Ops, and assess the situation from there. Next she would call an emergency meeting for what was left of the senior staff and for the officers who she had already selected, in her mind, to replace the vacated positions left by Max, Nog and Holo.


***


After the battle and the immediate aftermath, Megan had not given much thought about Kira and Mia. She had spent the last hour in Ops helping to repair the station's computer. The good news was that weapons, shields and communication commands had been fully restored, however some of the more minor systems still had problems. But the engineering crew in Ops had promised her that all of these problems would be fixed in two days time.

Now though with everything under control, Megan needed to know what happened to Kira and Mia. She had an attachment to Mia, and a friendship with Kira. She hoped that nothing had happened to those two.

Arriving outside of Kira’s quarters, Megan tapped the door chime. A moment later the door opened revealing Kira.

Kira was tentatively on her feet, unsupported, and from a first glance Megan thought Kira looked unharmed. “Are you are all right?”

“I'm fine,” said Kira, sounding a little out of breathe. “Mia is a little shocked... Before I talk to you anymore I’ll just sit down, I’ve been on my feet for far to long.”

Megan took a chair, and waited patiently for Kira to sit and rest herself.

“That’s better,” said Kira after she had positioned herself on the sofa. “What happened to this station? I tapped into the sensor array and I got all sorts of conflicting information.”

“An unknown vessel decloaked and attacked the station, they seemed to have considerable access to our systems, because the transporters and communications were down the moment the ship started firing at us. Then as you know those soldiers came on board, they abducted Dax, Nog, Max, Holo and also Jake.”

“By the Prophets!” exclaimed Kira, she looked stunned to hear this, and her eyes were bright with hurt. “Do you have any idea why they were abducted?”

“No,” said Megan a little untruthfully, she wondered how much she could reveal to Kira. “But I do have a hunch...”

“Go on,” said Kira, who was on tenterhooks to hear Megan’s hunch.

“This was a matter between Dax and me, though now Dax is gone I'm going to have to discuss this with admiral Ross.”

Kira looked disappointed to hear this. “Well secrecy or not, I know it must have something to do with Apocalypse. After the attack it didn't take me that long to put it together, Ezri's warning about an Apocalypse attack on this station two days ago, and now there was an attack that had many similarities to previous Apocalypse attacks. All I want to know is what you're going to do to rescue Ezri and the others?”

“I'll be contacting admiral Ross very shortly, but I doubt he will authorise any sort of rescue mission.”

“Rescue mission?” said Kira incredulously, her voice going up by an octave. “From all that I've read up about Apocalypse, you would need a full blown armada to take on that organisation! Personally I don't understand why Starfleet doesn't raze Apocalypse to the ground, giving the threat it poses to the Federation!”

“You known full well that Starfleet wouldn't take such an aggressive and reckless course of action! Starfleet is about defending the Federation, it's not in the habit of looking for fights or conflicts!”

“I know...” sighed Kira, and she scowled at the carpet.

There was a silence between the two, and Kira looked up from the carpet, now she was staring in a sad manner. “I still can't believe it,” she said softly. “Ezri gone, she was one of my best friends, and Jake, the Emissary's son. For him to be abducted...”

All Megan could do was stare sadly into her friend’s eyes, there was a lot of hurt and raw feelings to go around. “I know you were close to him, it must be hard to lose him in such a manner...”

Kira nodded slightly in a glum manner. “I'll be praying for him, and asking the Prophets to watch over him, including Ezri and the three other officers who were abducted... Who is in command of this station?”

“I'm in temporary command,” said Megan with little conviction. “Admiral Ross will officially approve it. However when you are fit for duty you'll be in command.”

“Well I guess that's another reason to get better…”

“One more thing Megan,” added Kira, and she was now gazing very intensely at Megan. “Promise to me you'll do everything you can to find Ezri and the others? No matter what it takes, you will try?”

“I promise,” said Megan solemnly, holding her gaze despite the intensity of Kira’s expression. No matter what sort of opportunity arose, Megan would take it, if it meant rescuing Max and the others. This was not some half-hearted sort of promise, she really meant it and Kira knew this. They were both forthright towards each other, and Megan figured this was why Kira was so friendly towards her…


***


Ezri materialized in a detainment cell, she looked around and saw Max, Holo, Nog and Jake sitting down on metal benches. All four of them glanced at Ezri when she arrived.

“Captain,” said Max, “are you all right?”

“I'm fine,” said Ezri distractedly, she looked all around the cell. It was cramped with three bland metal walls, and a red coloured force field containing them all. “Is that it?” she asked, more to herself.

“What do you mean?” replied Holo, looking confused.

“I expected to see more people in this cell.”

“Well maybe there were other people abducted but they're in different cells,” suggested Max.

“Then it's just us five...” observed Ezri. She moved her hand to the force field, extended her hand and was about to touch it-

“Don't touch it captain!” warned Max. “It gives you a very nasty electric shock, just look at Nog.”

Nog showed to Ezri his burnt fingers, and he grimaced in pain.

“Listen everyone,” said Jake, “let's start asking ourselves who these people are, I mean why have they abducted us?”

Ezri turned her back on the force field, having realised there were no means of escape. “They're from Apocalypse, I'm certain of it.”

“I doubt that,” said Max dismissively.

“You were there in the senior staff meeting a day ago! I explained to you how Apocalypse abducts people, and how recently their abduction method has become more violent. The attack on DS9 follows the same pattern as other attacks on ships and installations by Apocalypse. You have the unidentified cloaking ship that suddenly opens fire on us, then you have the boarding parties and the abductions!”

Holo though shook his head in disagreement. “But in the previous instances of abductions there was no computer sabotage!”

“Well maybe,” retorted Nog, “that's because this ship couldn't take on DS9 all by itself!”

“Alright,” said Max admitting defeat, “even if Apocalypse has abducted us simply because they want to recruit us into their gladiator army, why abduct Jake? He isn't in Starfleet, he's not trained in combat or how to fight people?”

Max glanced at Ezri in a question manner. “How do you explain that?”

“I can't,” replied Ezri frustratedly. “But I have a feeling that when we get to Apocalypse station, we'll find out.”

Nog did not look happy to hear this. “There's no way Apocalypse are going to force us to become gladiators. We're Starfleet officers, we don't kill for fun!”

“What choice do we have?” said Holo loudly. “Either we comply with their demands or they kill us!”

“Holo's right,” said Ezri wearily. “I'm afraid survival is more important here, we follow Apocalypse's demands, and that is an order!”

There was a prolonged and depressed silence after Ezri’s words. Everyone knew that Starfleet ethics and rules had been thrown out of the airlock in this situation. Ezri herself wondered to what lengths she and the people under her command would go to survive.

“Do you feel that?” said Jake, when the ship vibrated slightly. “I think this ship has gone to warp.”

“Do you ever think we'll see DS9 again?” asked Max sadly.

“Forget about DS9,” replied Ezri harshly. “I don't see how we can escape out of this situation. Right now our top priorities are survival and founding out more about Apocalypse. The fact that we have been beamed here all into the same cell, suggests that Apocalypse wants us together. If that is so then we do our damn hardest to stick together and look out for each other!”

She looked around at Jake’s, Holo’s, Max’s and Nog’s faces. “Are you with me on this one?”

She held out her hand, palm facing downwards.

“I am,” said Holo firmly.

“Same here,” replied Max.

“Yes,” said Nog.

“Count me in,” said Jake.

Jake, Holo, Max and Nog each placed a hand on top of Ezri’s. In that moment Ezri knew that they were all going to watch out for each other, through thick and thin. Ezri made a personal vow not to let down the lives of the four people, standing next to her, who had entrusted their lives in her hands.


***


Day 3, 1245 hours

With the situation under control in Ops, Megan walked into the commander’s office. It was formerly Ezri’s office, but now Megan would be using it for some time in the foreseeable future. Above all else she was incredibly angry, Max had been abducted along with four other people. It all seemed so senseless to Megan and she could not understand why in particular Max and the others were picked for abduction.

She walked around the desk, slammed herself into the commander’s chair and activated the laptop. She wanted answers, and all she knew was that the attack on DS9 had some sort of connection with Apocalypse. Looking at the whole attack, she could see the similarities to previous Apocalypse attacks. She only wished she had made the connection sooner, because she was certain that Ezri had during the battle.

Some moments after she sent a comm link to starbase 74, admiral Ross replied and appeared on the laptop screen.

“Admiral this is commander Megan Felpes speaking, I've taken over command of this station due to a surprise attack on DS9 and the abduction of captain Dax.”

Shock briefly flitted across Ross's face, before he quickly kept his face calm and neutral.

“Does Starfleet know about the attack?” Megan asked.

“It does,” said Ross, looking particularly grim. “We received preliminary reports about ninety minutes ago, I tried to contact this station but there was no response... Aside from Dax, were they any other people abducted off the station?”

Megan nodded. “Five people were abducted. Four of them were members of this station’s senior staff: Ezri Dax, Holo, Max Weatherby and Nog. The fifth person was Jake Sisko, he ran a restaurant on the Promenade…”

She momentarily paused, wondering if Ross would answer her question. “Admiral I need to know who was responsible for the attack on DS9?”

Everything on Ross’s face showed no inclination to answer Megan’s question, indeed he looked considerably harried. “I'm afraid commander that I’m rather busy at the moment, I have to report to Starfleet Command and-”

Megan was not going to take this rebuff for an answer, Ross had to a lot better than that, and she had to up the stakes a little. “Captain Dax asked me to do a bit of inquiring, and having contacted a source in Section 31, this source promised us to provide someone who had insider information about Apocalypse.”

Now Ross was interested in what Megan had to say. “Just one moment...” said Ross, he then tapped some commands on his console. “This transmission is now encrypted on both ends... All right commander you have my attention. How did Dax know that Section 31 had an insider in Apocalypse?”

“She had a hunch...” said Megan simply.

Ross puffed his face up in anger. “God damn that woman! She is incredibly headstrong, poking her nose into classified matters!”

“And it seems it’s becoming harder to keep Section 31 a secret,” retorted Megan. “So what exactly does Section 31 know about Apocalypse?”

“I'm afraid commander I don't know because Section 31 hasn't told me what it knows. What I do know is that 1100 Jem'Hadar ships arrived in the Pushui star system five months ago, and they haven't left. This means the Jem'Hadar are working with Apocalypse, and facing that number of ships a Starfleet assault is out of the question. Too many officers and ships would be lost, and we still don't know what Apocalypse's defence capabilities are.”

Megan felt the last vestiges of hope for rescuing Max burn up in flames. “Do you mean to say that we're not going to rescue Ezri and the others who were abducted off DS9?”

“Out of the question!” exclaimed Ross. “It is far to dangerous. I'm sorry commander but there is nothing we can do for them…”

He paused and looked just as discontent about the situation as Megan did. “On a different note when colonel Kira becomes fit for duty she will be the new permanent commander of this station. For now you will take temporary command of this station, and take on all the responsibilities that come with it.”

“I understand,” said Megan.

Ross looked apologetically at Megan. “I’m sorry I can’t do anything to help you, but you should know that Starfleet will continue to assess the Apocalypse situation. Should it deteriorate Starfleet would consider taking more bolder and direct measures to protect the Federation. Ross out.”

The admiral’s words did a little to raise Megan’s hopes. Perhaps sometime in the near future Starfleet would attack Apocalypse, but by that time her missing friends and colleagues would probably be dead. Once Megan’s hope died down, she did not think it was even remotely likely that she would be seeing Max, Ezri and the others ever again. It was another horrible loss for her, just like the loss of life on the Liberty. She had lost some more friends and fellow officers, and the loss never got any easier…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 28 2011, 11:01 PM   #141
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 1

Day 3, 1500 hours

Nearly three hours after the attack, Megan entered the Infirmary to find Bashir. She had to talk to him about Section 31, because he was the only person who knew as much about Section 31 as Ezri did.

She walked past the first room, and then continued into the patient ward. There she finally found Bashir taking some medical readings of a patient.

“Julian!” she said, “I need to talk to you in private!”

“Now's not the time,” said Bashir, as he frowned at a vial of blood he was holding up. “I have twenty people who are in critical conditions.”

Megan folded her arms in an impatient gesture. “The medical staff can do without you for a couple of minutes. Besides this is really important, it's about the attack on the station!”

“All right,” said Bashir, looking mightily grumpy about leaving his patients. “But five minutes of my time only, and not a second longer!”

Bashir and Megan walked over to the medical storeroom, and when they found it deserted, Megan closed the door so that no would eavesdrop on her or Julian. “Listen Julian there's something you need to know.”

She took a deep breathe, as she thought about what she was going to say next. “I think I know why DS9 was attacked.”

She then launched into an explanation about Ezri’s hunch, Section 31, Apocalypse and the conversation she had with admiral Ross. “-so two days after contacting Jack, this station is attacked!”

Bashir remained silent, and simply looked at her with narrowed eyes.

Megan was not sure what Bashir thought of all this, so she decided to tell him what she had been fearing and suspected ever since the attack. “Julian I think my message was intercepted by the abductors and that they have an agent inside of Section 31!”

“That's highly unlikely,” replied Bashir. “Section 31 have very stringent measures when they recruit their agents, it stops Section 31 from being infiltrated.”

It did not matter how unlikely this was, because Megan was convinced she was right on this matter. “Well it is a remarkable coincidence that only two days separate the time between me contacting Jack and the attack on DS9. I think Jack or a different Section 31 agent is working for Apocalypse.”

Bashir had his fist against his chin, as he was concentrating intently on the conversation. “Admiral Ross would know far more about Apocalypse than we do, have you told him about this?”

“Everything except my suspicions about Jack, something is not right here.”

“Your right about that,” agreed Bashir, and he removed his fist off his chin. “But I don't see what we can do, we can't contact Jack as he may or may not be the Section 31 mole. There are no means to contact or infiltrate Apocalypse unless we go AWOL which is out of the question. No matter which way you look at it there is nothing we can do.”

“I know!” said Megan angrily. “That’s the problem, there is nothing we can do to help Max, Dax and the others!”


***


Day 3, 1800 hours

Megan was walking to corridor seventeen, section five, level nine in the station core, after lieutenant Dieter Blank contacted her and told her that he had found an unusual device in one part of the corridor. One part of her hoped that this device would provide the explanation of how the station’s computer was sabotaged.

Even now her chief of security was still purging from the computer alien code which had proliferated around every system which had deactivated. The only bit of good news was that the weapons and shields could now be accessed. But this was small consolation for the fact that the captain and four others had been abducted.

Megan still could not believe what had happened, and at times she found it strange to be the commanding officer of DS9. When she entered the corridor, she found lieutenant Blank examining the secondary interlink port. Numerous panels were strewn over the floor, while various fibre optic cables jutted out slightly into the corridor.

“What is it lieutenant?” she asked.

Blank looked around, and moved away from the secondary interlink port. He opened his right hand revealing a device. “I found this imbedded into the secondary interlink port...”

He gave to Megan the device, and upon closer examination Megan realised what this device was. “It's a quantum encoder,” she said, sounding a little surprised.

Blank frowned in confusion. “I've never heard of a device like that.”

Megan though had, and with one last look at the device, she wrapped her fingers around it, the quantum encoder explained everything. “Starfleet Intelligence is aware of this device, it's used mainly by criminals, most notably the Orion Syndicate. This device stores a series of algorithms and code, and then when it comes into contact with some hardware, which is part of the main computer, it then interacts with the data flow and produces repeatedly the algorithms and digital protocols it stores.

“Any computer system is quickly fooled by these false set of codes, and so implements what the code is telling it to do. This explains how the station’s computer was sabotaged, and why we couldn’t access weapons or shields”

She then passed the quantum encoder back to Blank. “Give this device to the chief of security, he’ll examine it further… Nice find lieutenant.”

The compliment seemed to lift Blank’s spirits, and feeling that she had done everything she could do, Megan returned back to Ops. She could feel her command skills coming back to her, and she felt marginally more comfortable with her position as commanding officer of DS9.


***


Day 3, 1900 hours

Megan sat down at the head of the table in the wardroom, she sat there waiting for what was left of DS9’s senior staff and two other officers she had called. This was an emergency senior staff meeting, and after everything that had happened during the attack this was most warranted.

Once Bashir, Paulson, Tanya and Blank had arrived, Megan started the meeting. “I've called this meeting because as you know we've lost four members of DS9's senior staff. We've lost our commanding officer, chief of science, chief of operations and chief of starship maintenance. I'm now, temporarily, the commanding officer of this station. When Kira is fit to return to duty, she will be the permanent commanding officer.

“Before I begin there are a few promotions which I must give out. Lieutenant Dieter Blank you are now chief of operations, for the time being the post of chief of starship maintenance will remain vacated. Lieutenant Tanya Dawson, you are now chief of science. With that out of the way, I'll liked to discuss the first matter of the day. I'm afraid Starfleet will not carry out a rescue operation to find our missing officers.”

The mood seemed to have lowered after that statement, and Paulson looked mightily angered to hear this. “Are you saying we just abandon the captain, and the three other officers?”

Both Tanya and Blank nodded their agreement at Paulson's question.

Before Megan could answer, Bashir did and he looked angrily across the table at Paulson. “We have no other choice Paulson, because Starfleet believes it is virtually impossible to rescue Dax and the others.”

“Bashir's right,” agreed Megan, “and I'm afraid we're going to have to accept the fact that captain Dax is never coming back. I know it's a shock to everyone but we'll get through this, and we'll continue to run this station to the best of our ability just as the captain intended!”

She looked around at her fellow officers and her words had managed to lift their spirits slightly. Feeling glad that the matter of Dax’s absence had been resolved, Megan delved into the other matters she wanted to discuss at this meeting.

About thirty minutes later Megan was satisfied with the outcome, and she felt she had reached a consensus on how DS9 should be managed. With nothing more to discuss she dismissed the senior staff.

She got up, and was halfway to the door, when she stopped and realised that Tanya had not moved a muscle. Megan knew what was going through Tanya’s mind, and she wondered whether she should say something to ease Tanya’s burden.

Turning around, she walked over to where Tanya sat, and came to a halt a metre away from Tanya. By that time there was only herself and Tanya in the room. “Is there something else you want to discuss lieutenant?”

Something seemed to tighten in Tanya’s face, and in a sudden motion she rose from her seat and confronted Megan. “You know what I want to discuss; Max. I can't believe we're going to do nothing to rescue him.”

Megan suspected Tanya was going to say something like this, but her decision was final… “Tanya I know this is difficult for-”

“Don't try to patronise me!” replied Tanya, she was literally seething. “You wouldn't be so ready to give up on Max if you loved him!”

Such words made the pain of losing Max all the more raw and fresh for Megan, but she continued to stare as calmly as possible at Tanya. “There is nothing that I can do,” said Megan with a tone of finality. “Max may already be dead, and even if he is alive he cannot be reached. I'm sorry for what has happened, I miss Max as well as he was my friend, but we just have to accept the fact that he is gone.”

Now Tanya look really hurt, it seemed she was only going to admit defeat when Megan told her the cold harsh truth. “It's not fair!” she lamented. “We had one month together, one amazing month, and now he is snatched from me just like that!”

“Listen,” said Megan gently, “if you need a few days off to grieve just ask.”

Tanya though did not appear interested in the offer. “I will grieve in my own time, but it will not affect my duties I promise.”

Briefly Megan placed a hand to Tanya's shoulder and smiled at her. It was a friendly gesture and a way for Megan to convey without words that she understood everything that Tanya was going through. She held onto Tanya’s shoulder briefly before letting go, but it did the trick, as Tanya was no longer looking so angrily at Megan.

With nothing more to say Megan left the room, to give Tanya some much needed privacy. Megan had suffered numerous loss, but she knew that the first loss always felt the most raw. But it was definitely all the more painful to lose a lover, and Megan felt genuine sympathy for Tanya. She no longer had any hard feelings for Tanya, as she had completely accepted that Max was out of bounds.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 28 2011, 11:05 PM   #142
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 2

Day 10, 1000 hours

Ezri had the back of her head against the cell wall, though she gave the impression of calmness, she felt anything but calm. She expected to die but whether it was today, tomorrow, next week, month or even year she did not know. What she did know was that there was no escaping from this situation, and if she played her cards right she could maximise her chances for survival.

She could fully count on Holo, Max and Nog as they were fully trained Starfleet officers, but she was really worried for Jake. He was not prepared for this, he was a civilian, with very little combat experience. Jake was the vulnerable one and Ezri knew she would have to pay close attention to Jake’s morale.

“I hear those soldiers coming,” said Nog, his ears trained on sounds outside of the cell.

Ezri stood up and mentally prepared herself for whatever was going to come. “Remember do nothing to provoke them.”

Four soldiers came into sight and one of them took out a device, pressed some controls, and the red force field disappeared.

One of the soldiers, who appeared to be the leader of this group, stepped forwards. “All right fresh meat,” he growled, “get out of the cell, and don’t try anything stupid. We have the guns, you don’t.”

Ezri walked out first, she put on her best tough-as-nails expression. She noticed that all of Apocalypse’s soldiers were men, and she sensed that they were little more than sexist pigs who treated women like dirt. One of the soldier’s leered at her, and Ezri stared back and she was pleased to see that the cockiness had faded ever so slightly from the soldier’s eyes.

When everyone was out of the cell, Ezri followed the soldier in front of her, while Max and the others followed from behind in single file.

“Move it,” said one of the soldiers.

Ezri heard a yelp of pain from Jake, and she presumed one of the soldiers had struck Jake with the butt of his gun.

“Do you have to be so forceful?” protested Jake.

They walked down an airlock, and through the door which revealed a massive promenade. It had numerous levels to it, and went around in a massive oval shape. The inner part of the oval was lined with lightly blue tinted glass, and the other side of the station could be seen.

Despite the peril she was facing, she could not help but look around at the all the humanoid faces she saw. There were so many of them, and there were races Ezri had never seen before. Intermingled with the crowds were more of those soldiers, there orange-brown uniforms were very distinctive. Ezri now suspected that these soldiers were actually the station’s security, and served dual roles.

There was some commotion to her left and Ezri noticed that the crowds were parting way to a group of three people. The soldier in front of her stopped and Ezri waited, watching the group of three come closer.

Finally the three arrived, two of them were more station guards, while the other one was a shapeshifter. This shocked Ezri, particularly because the shapeshifter resembled Odo, though Odo never had that cold and ruthless look that this shapeshifter did. The shapeshifter was not wearing the guard’s uniform, instead wearing rather drab civilian clothing.

The shapeshifter came to a stop and looked at Ezri and her companions with something close to scorn. “Ezri and Max you're coming with me to the chief executive's office.”

He then briefly pointed to one of the guards. “You take the others to barracks fourteen.”

“Don’t worry,” said Ezri, looking at Jake’s, Holo’s and Nog’s worried faces. “It’ll be all-”

One of the guards gun butted her in the stomach, and Ezri coiled up in pain, though she managed not to utter any sound from her mouth.

“Spare me your emotive sentiment,” said the shapeshifter dryly. “Follow me.”

Faced with no other choice Ezri followed, though she was a little unsteady on her feet giving how winded she felt. Max walked up beside her, and he looked deeply troubled.

“What is a shapeshifter doing on this station?” he whispered to Ezri.

“He could be one of the hundred baby changelings that his people sent out many years ago.”

“Does he know about his people?”

The shapeshifter came to a stop, and advanced upon Ezri and Max. “Know about? I found out about my people during the Dominion war, some time afterwards I visited their homeworld. I even went into the Great Link, and while initially the experience was interesting I soon became put off by Odo’s constant preaching of peace with the solids and about love.”

“You know about Odo?” said Ezri, sounding surprised.

At the very mention of Odo’s name the shapeshifter scowled deeply. “I left the Great Link because I totally disagreed with his views on the solids, and every shapeshifter was seemingly enraptured by Odo’s message. Ha! I wonder if my people are beginning to regret following Odo’s guiding principles now that their Jem’Hadar are raising up against them!”

The shapeshifter jerked his head slightly to the guards, and they immediately pushed Max and Ezri forwards.

It took another few minutes of walking, going along the promenade, standing in turbolifts, and walking along corridors, before the shapeshifter finally came to a stop by a wide and imposing metal door. He tapped in some commands on a panel placed on the doorway, and the door parted sideways in two parts.

The shapeshifter went inside, followed by Ezri. The first thing that caught her eye was the windows of this office, they gave a panoramic view of what appeared to be a series of massive arenas, with massive bent steel frames carrying the lightening that hung above these arenas. The next thing she noticed was the wide and luxurious looking black desk, it had a shiny ceramic look to it, while the consoles seamlessly flowed with the desk.

Behind the desk was a swivel chair with a high back, it was covered in some sort of black leather. The shapeshifter approached the desk. “The prisoners you requested are here...”

“Bring them here,” said a voice.

That voice sounded disturbingly like Max’s voice to Ezri, and when the chair turned around it revealed its occupant. The person looked exactly like Max, the face was exactly identical, the hair cut may have been a little different but that was where the differences ended.

Ezri looked from Max back to the person on the chair, was this Max’s twin brother?

Max’s twin looked amused by the surprise on Ezri’s face, and the horror on Max’s face. “It has been a long time since I've seen you brother.”

Max look totally aghast, his mouth was hung open in disbelieve. “Coplin? You work for Apocalypse?”

Coplin laughed out loud, and shook his head. “Work here?” he said incredulously.

He got to his feet and walked around the desk, his eyes were fixed on Max. The joviality was rapidly disappearing from Coplin’s face. “I helped to found Apocalypse ten years ago. This station, this organisation... is my life... and it can be yours to Max. Now you and your friends have two options; either work with Apocalypse or be executed. Nemoltz, my chief of security, would execute you personally. Trust me you don't want to be killed by a shapeshifter.”

“So you're behind the abductions?” asked Ezri, though she soon regretted it when a guard whacked her hard in the abdomen.

“That was actually Nemoltz's idea,” said Coplin, and his eyes briefly flicked to Nemoltz. “Apocalypse always needs a fresh supply of gladiators. However Nemoltz is more than just my chief of security, we co-founded Apocalypse when we realised how much money could be made.”

Ezri looked at both Coplin and Nemoltz with utter contempt, they were little more than interplanetary crime lords who had more firepower at their disposal than most interplanetary states had. “I didn't think-”

Again she was struck by the soldier’s gun, though this time he hit the centre of her back.

Coplin flashed his eyes warningly at the guard. “Let her speak.”

Ezri glared at the guard before confronting Nemoltz. “I didn't think changelings had any need for money or material possessions.”

Coplin and Nemoltz exchanged smirks, clearly sharing some sort of private joke. “Then perhaps you've met the wrong changelings,” said Coplin with a hint of sarcasm. “Because Nemoltz here is devoted to his job. Setting aside Nemoltz's unquestionable loyalties, you Max have a choice.”

Now Coplin gazed affectionately at Max. “Work with me brother, set aside your distrust of me, and we can be together like when we were children. We shouldn't be apart, we should be working together as we're family.”

There was pure disgust all over Max’s face, he looked at Coplin as if he were something revolting to the sight. “I refuse to work with you,” said Max bitterly, “and you know exactly why.”

“It's an open offer,” said Coplin, shrugging. “Take your time, sooner or later the want for fame and fortune will tempt you.”

“Highly unlikely,” said Max coldly.

Some of the affection on Coplin’s face disappeared, and he smiled coldly at Max. “Nemoltz take Ezri and her friends to barracks fourteen. Locate Max some quarters on this station, and make sure he is comfortable.”

“Wait!” exclaimed Max, and he looked at Coplin pleadingly. “If you're really my brother, then let my friends go, keep me instead!”

Coplin laughed again, it was a cold and derisive laugh, finally Coplin stopped and looked at Max in a superior way. “I'm afraid brother that you really don't know how Apocalypse works. Do you have any idea the amount of gold-pressed latinum expended to bring you and your friends here? It was a substantial amount, and I'll consider your request only when you have really contributed to Apocalypse.”

Max suddenly lunged at Coplin, but a guard restrained him, and there was fury all over Max’s face. “You lying bastard!” he roared. “You haven't changed one bit have you?”

This outburst of emotion had little effect on Coplin. “Take him to his quarters...” he told Nemoltz. “Give him a station pass as well.”

There was disapproval all over Nemoltz’s face. “Are you sure that's wise Coplin?”

“He's my brother,” said Coplin simply, while he stared at Max who was still struggling. “And we're family, we'll see eye-to-eye eventually.”

Though Nemoltz did not look convinced, he did nod and follow Coplin’s orders. With a click of his fingers, the guard forcibly moved Max out of the room. While two guards put an arm each around Ezri’s armpits and carried her away.

Ezri caught a last glimpse of Coplin, who was staring at her in way that told Ezri that Coplin was in absolute control and that her life was in his hands. She saw Max still struggling against the guard, and she could not believe how stupid Max was in resisting Coplin’s magnanimity. Did Max not realise that if he simply played along he could get into a position of influence and use it to come up with a plan of escape?

She would have told Max what to do, but then that would mean Max would be in serious trouble. Her last glimpse of Max was when the soldier moving him entered into a turbolift. For the time being Max was safe, but Ezri knew what her fate was. She would be forced into a Apocalypse gladiator training program, and if she survived that she would become a gladiator, which then meant almost certain death.

At that moment Ezri did not care what Max did, just as long as he found a way to escape from this station. But as for herself, Holo, Jake and Nog, they were condemned and the only thing that mattered now was survival, survival by any means necessary…

To be continued...

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Well that is the end of Tip of the Iceberg. This is the last story of the first season of this series, and I will publishing the next story (the first one of season 2) here on the 6th of January (new year)

Here are links to the rest of my stories (which are listed in chronological order in terms of my series plot):

Season 1:

Secrets and Lies

Shallow Rights


Vacation

Bad Blood

Outlier

Devolution

Gold Rush

Medical Pariah

Commitment

Ménage à Trois

Tip of the Iceberg


Season 2:

Survival

High Stakes

Running the Gauntlet

The Price of Sanity

Cloak and Dagger, part 1

Cloak and Dagger, part 2

To be Over

Knowing Oneself
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old January 6 2012, 12:20 AM   #143
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Here is the next story: Survival

Summary: Season 2, 12th story. This is the second part of the Apocalypse story arc, and the first story of the second season of my series.

Two months after being captured, Ezri and her fellow colleagues and friends have been put through a brutal and gruelling training regime. Now they must fight for their survival when they face their first arena match on Apocalypse station.

Meanwhile on DS9, things have changed considerably, with Kira finally back in command. As Kira, Megan and Bashir come to terms with the loss of their friends, Kira has more pressing matters as she tries to find a way to persuade admiral Ross to launch a Starfleet attack on Apocalypse...

Warnings: Strong and gory violence, occasional strong swearing, adult situations.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Survival, Chapter 1 part 1


It was dark and Ezri was sitting down on the hard metal bed. No matter what she did the metal bed felt ultra lumpy and hard on her bottom and feet. She managed to find a little comfort with her back against the wall, and her knees resting against her chest. On most nights she barely slept, she felt so restless and she was certain it was the steroids and the nanites that the Apocalypse doctors had given her.

In two months her muscles had firmed up considerably and she had never felt this physically toned up in her life. Still the changes to her body came at the price of restlessness and a more volatile temper. Despite all of this occasionally at night she could somehow daydream about Deep Space Nine. She never realised how much she considered DS9 a home, now the two months away from that place reminded her of what she had lost.

But she knew that returning to DS9 was a near impossible possibility, all she could do was momentarily daydream about the place. In particular her mind strayed upon one person on that station and that was Bashir, she missed him badly and she suspected that was because one part of her still deeply loved Bashir.

When the lights on the ceiling turned on, Ezri snapped out of her reminiscent mood, and lithely jumped off the bed. She turned around and lowered herself to remove her equipment from beneath her bed. She dumped it on top of her bed, and was about to put on her dull golden coloured armour when she noticed Holo waking up. “Back from cybernetic oblivion?” she asked.

Holo simply shrugged. “I don’t have to sleep, but I prefer to do that than lay on my bed all night being wide awake.”

“Did you have any dreams?” asked Ezri, while she brought her hands through the armholes in her torso armour.

“No, perhaps last week I experienced some anomaly in my program.”

Holo got to his feet, he momentarily froze before his visual appearance changed from his Starfleet uniform into the standard Apocalypse gladiator suit. “I'll wake Nog and Jake up.”

He came over to Nog’s bed and with gently nudged Nog’s ear lobe with a hand. “Come on sleepy head time to get up.”

Nog mumbled a little bit before opening his eyes. “I feel like I've barely slept.”

Sitting up, Nog stretched out his arms to loosen up. “But I feel younger, my muscles are more flexible.”

“It's the nanites,” said Holo, “they must be rejuvenating your bone and muscle structure.”

“Pity they don't rejuvenate your skin,” said Nog, as he rubbed his hands over his face.

Briefly there was a small smile on Holo’s face, he then moved over to Jake. “Jake, it’s time to get up!”

“Already?” groaned Jake.

Ezri looked leftwards to make sure Jake was getting up, and was relieved to find that he was. She constantly worried for Jake, as he was being pushed to breaking point, and she could tell that Jake was more scarred than he let on.

She returned to slipping into the tight gladiator suit. It was constructed in five pieces: the torso armour, individual leg and arm armour. While once inside it was flexible, it chafed like mad around her thighs and her armpits. The suit was made of a non-breathable material and when Ezri put it on she felt like she was inside a tomb. The worst bit of putting on the armour was when two pieces connected together. They rubbed against her clothes and skin, and it felt very uncomfortable.

One part of her wondered if this uncomfortable gladiator suit was for the trainee gladiators only. Whenever she wore the suit it felt hot and uncomfortable, even with only wearing her Starfleet T-shirt and trousers the suit simply trapped in her body heat. Of course the suit was on the minor end of the awful conditions she faced. The training was much worse, and she absolutely hated the Apocalypse instructors, who seemed to be doing their utmost to make life as miserable as possible for the trainee gladiators.

Disobedience was out of the question, because she, as did every gladiator in Apocalypse, had a metal collar placed around their neck. It was very thin, but it contained enough explosives to blow off their heads if activated.

When she was finally in her armour suit, she looked around and saw that Holo and Nog had already kitted up. Jake though was still putting on his armour suit, and Ezri knew Jake was taking his time just so that he could avoid the instructors for a few minutes.

“Listen,” said Ezri addressing Holo and Nog. “Why not you two leave? I need to talk to Jake.”

At once Holo and Nog left without another word.

This was good because Ezri needed to give Jake some privacy, and he only really talked to her when there was just the two of them in the cell. She walked over to Jake, and sat down beside him on his bed. “Jake I know you hate it here and I know you are scared but you've got to hang in their.”

“I'm not a Starfleet officer,” complained Jake. “I wasn't trained for dealing with situations like this! I'm not a fighter...”

“If you want to survive you have to toughen up,” said Ezri firmly, she sounded a little harsh to chivy Jake along. “That's an order.”

Jake glared at her. “I'm not in Starfleet you can't give me orders.”

Ezri ignored Jake’s anger as it was his way of masking his fear. “If you want to stay alive you follow what I say understood?”

“Yes sir,” said Jake sarcastically.

“Come on, the training starts in a few minutes, and you don’t want to be late.”

“I’m finished,” replied Jake irately.

Briefly Ezri smiled at Jake in an encouraging manner, before walking out of the cell with Jake following from behind. Ezri wondered if she was fighting a losing battle with Jake, and in her attempts to keep his morale up. Her only consolation was that Jake did respond to her advice, but it seemed only she could encourage Jake.

She suspected that Jake didn’t want to talk to Nog about his concerns, for fear of losing face with his friend. The truth was Jake had already surpassed her expectations because he had endured a gruelling and near torturous training regime for close to two months. But she could sense that Jake was at breaking point, and if he snapped he may not have the strength to continue on.

Ezri was determined not to let that happen, and she felt a certain attachment to Jake. This attachment primarily stemmed from Jadzia’s fondness for Jake, and Ezri knew that if anything had happened to Benjamin, Jadzia would have looked after Jake, treating him as if he were her own son. If Ezri had to be a parent-like figure to get Jake through Apocalypse then she would do it.


***


Day 1, 0730 hours

Walking along the passageway, Holo was being escorted by four station troopers. It was always the same routine, the moment Holo left the detainment cell, there were always four station troopers waiting for him. But this was for good reason, because being a hologram, Holo could kill virtually any humanoid armed or not, with his bare hands.

But he did not dare attack the station troopers because their rifles had been modified to fire electromagnetic pulse rounds. One shot to his form, would severely disrupt his holographic matrix. So attacking was out of the question. Everyday he always walked down the same set of passageways, walking past training courses, firing ranges and barracks. Transparent orange walls, reinforced with black duranium beams, lined the perimeter of each training course and firing range.

Holo could see various trainee gladiators navigating the training courses. The sound of explosions and phaser fire happened each and every second. It should have been louder, but Holo worked out that the walls had some sort of sound-proofing property.

Everything was in the open, and looking upwards was the station looming high above, arcing around in a cylindrical shaped torus. It was a spectacular view, and to the left and right there were views of outer space. Only the training facilities shields kept the atmosphere inside. Holo thought it was a precarious arrangement, because if the power went down and the back-up generators went down, then the shields would go. Everyone not inside a barracks would suffocate and freeze to death immediately.

The guards came to a stop and looking to his left Holo saw the small area where he daily trained in. It was less than ten by ten metres, but there were holographic projectors placed around the walls. Because of Holo’s unique combat skills he had a considerably different training program to everyone else.

One of the guards, came to a door, which had the same transparent orange material. He punched a certain combination of commands on a small black panel, and a moment later the door opened.

Holo slowly walked inside, followed by the guards. Inside the area was one of the supervisors, he was standing inside some sort of control booth. It was a miniature self-sealed room, with consoles inside to access the holographic projector controls.

The supervisor was as alien as you could get with weird dull grey and red stripes all over his skin. While the back of his head bulged out prominently blending into his back, he was hairless and Holo thought he looked like some sort of humanoid fish.

The supervisor had a small thin rectangular device clutched in his right hand. Holo hated seeing that device, because it sent a signal into his holographic matrix which altered his programming.

Holo still remembered being trapped in a force field, in some science lab, where the Apocalypse engineers messed around with his programming. He felt violated because the engineers had added new subroutines into his programming. Subroutines which when activated, transformed him into a killing machine, devoid of a soul and of morality.

He had gotten over the shock of his transformation, but it still disturbed him greatly by the deeds he did under the programming's influence. Every kill he remembered, and sometimes he did not just kill holographic enemies, some of them were people, like Jem’Hadar.

The station troopers placed themselves behind a waist-high wall, with a blue protective screen on top, for their own mortal safety.

“You know what to do,” said the supervisor’s voice, and he was talking into a comm unit.

The supervisor activated the device and immediately Holo felt disorientated as his programming reconfigured. Soon though the disorientation passed, and he felt completely clear headed, cold, calculating and full of purpose. “Who will I be killing today?” he said in a cold voice devoid of emotion.

The door opened behind Holo, and five Jem’Hadar entered carrying rozstokras, their favourite axe-like melee weapon.

“These Jem'Hadar are here to practice their fighting skills,” explained the supervisor.

Holo glanced at the five Jem’Hadar, his programming instantly calculating their fighting strength, and his strategies for defeating them. “I am fighting against these?”

“We’ve heard of you hologram,” said one of the Jem’Hadar, “and from what we hear you make a worthy opponent.”

“You are going to die if you fight me,” said Holo in an utterly cold voice.

“Such confidence,” said a second Jem’Hadar leering. “In case you haven’t noticed you have a weak spot as well. One strike of my rozstokra against your mobile emitter and you are disabled.”

“If you could strike it,” retorted Holo.

One of the Jem’Hadar advanced upon Holo wielding his rozstokra. “Defend yourself!” he said fiercely.

Holo dodged backwards against the first blow, and moved steadily backwards towards the centre of the room. While the other four Jem’Hadar dashed towards him, Holo knew he needed a weapon to level the odds. So he ran to the first Jem’Hadar, twisting his body rightwards to avoid the rozstokra, and then got between the Jem’Hadar’s outstretched arms.

There Holo used his right hand to punch hard into the Jem’Hadar’s chest, knocking the wind out of his opponent, and with his left hand he snatched the rozstokra out of the Jem’Hadar’s weakened grip.

Now that he had a weapon, Holo moved away from the Jem’Hadar, concentrating upon the other four. Two of them approached Holo from opposite ends, and swung their rozstokras aiming for Holo’s mid-rift where his holographic emitter was located.

Holo though lowered himself, and with a lightening fast move, swung his rozstokra around until it made contact with the Jem’Hadar to his right. The rozstokra embedded itself deep into the side of the Jem’Hadar’s chest, and there was a roar of pain from Holo’s stricken opponent.

Turning around clockwise, with his left hand Holo took the Jem’Hadar’s rozstokra, flipped the weapon around with his hand so he was grabbing the handle. Now he had two rozstokra’s, and with all the force he could muster he confronted the other Jem’Hadar, wielding his two weapons so that they sliced through both of the Jem’Hadar’s hands.

Holo could sense the three other Jem’Hadar running towards him, but he still had the time to finish off the enemy in front of him. This Jem’Hadar had fallen to his knees, looking aghast at the stump of his arms. Moving forwards Holo crossed his arms, and brought the rozstokra’s into a scissors like position. His rozstokra blades had the Jem’Hadar pinned by the neck.

In a rapid motion, Holo swung his arms outwards, and the rozstokra blades went straight through the Jem’Hadar’s neck, decapitating him. The Jem’Hadar seemed to have realised what happened, but Holo kicked the Jem’Hadar square in the chest, knocking his opponent to the floor. The Jem’Hadar’s head rolled off and hit the floor.

All of this was too easy for Holo, his reflexes and programming were making light work of these Jem’Hadar. Still the three surviving Jem’Hadar were not put off, and they continued the fight. But it was a short fight though, and eventually Holo struck them all down.

When he was finished he looked at their bloodied bodies, he did not feel anything at seeing them. All he could think of was how superior a hologram was compared to an organic. These humanoids could be killed so easily, like slaughtering an animal, they both made the same mess, the same sounds of pain.

The supervisor walked over, looking a little disconcerted by the bodily carnage. “I must say that was impressive!”

Holo looked around, he did not care what his instructor thought. All that mattered to Holo was following the instructor’s orders. He was about to ask for more opponents when his audio sensors detected some movement from one of the Jem’Hadar. Holo whirled around and threw the rozstokra in his right hand, right at the Jem’Hadar’s face.

It was a perfect hit, and for the tiniest space of time there was surprise in the Jem’Hadar’s eyes. But it was short lived and he fell to the floor, with his eyes not staring, while the rozstokra was still embedded directly along the line between the centre of his forehead and his nose.

Now with the fight over, Holo disregarded the remaining rozstokra throwing it to the floor.

At once the supervisor clicked his fingers, and two of the station troopers, positioned behind the protective screen stepped forth to remove, one by one, the Jem’Hadar bodies.

“What fools,” commented Holo, “they think they can defeat a hologram?”

He glanced at his supervisor. “More!”

“Computer commence program Jem'Hadar three,” ordered the supervisor. “Difficulty level ten...”

Holographic Jem’Hadar appeared, and Holo picked up the rozstokra. This was his purpose to kill people, and with each kill he felt somehow content. It was like some sort of triumphant emotion, but he was not sure of that because he had no emotions…
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Old January 6 2012, 12:21 AM   #144
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 1, part 2

Day 1, 0900 hours

Ezri, Nog and Jake stood in a row, with the other trainee gladiators, their backs against the orange transparent wall. In front of them was their instructor and he stood around the centre of the row. Just behind him were individual walled off bays where gladiators practised their weapons.

The gladiators had all just finished a training program for standard Apocalypse energy rifles. Now the instructor was looking at each individual face as if to try to psyche someone out. “As you have all completed the training course on energy weapons it's time to move on to projectile weaponry. The guns you are holding are your standard .01 metre electromagnetic rifles. A two foot long barrel, muzzle velocity of twelve km a second, low recoil, low noise, twenty round magazine, reload time of three seconds and with non-magnetic adamantium rounds.

“The advantages of projectile weaponry is that they are impervious to energy dampening fields. Remember in the arena there can be all sorts of obstacles, having a diverse weapons kit is the difference between life and death! For the next hour you will practice with these rifles. Remember projectile weaponry has different trajectory properties, vertical shot dispersion and so forth. Aim slightly higher for longer range targets... They are not like energy weapons!”

With a slight jerk of his head, he signalled to the gladiators to get to the firing bays. Ezri, Nog and Jake managed to find three bays, so that they were adjacent to each other. In each bay there was a stand, where a weapon was located. The weapons were beamed in and out, as per the instructors specifications.

Soon the sounds of rifles firing started up, and with each discharge, a whoosh like sound came from the rifle firing. On each individual firing course, holographic test dummies popped up along various parts of the fifty metre long stretch. All the firing ranges and training courses had holographic projectors, so that test dummies, Jem’Hadar warriors, combat droids, and chompers could be materialized at will.

As usual the holographic safety protocols were always turned off. This was for the gladiators so that they actually got hurt when they made a mistake or got unlucky.

The instructors stopped by each bay, inspecting the gladiators, occasionally making comments. He then came to a stop at Jake, and positively scowled at him. Walking up to Jake, the instructor bent over him, hissing into his ear. “Your aim is too low human. What did I say about vertical shot dispersion?”

“Aim slightly higher for longer range targets,” mumbled Jake.

“I didn't hear you,” said the instructor.

“Aim slightly higher for longer range targets,” Jake replied in a more louder voice.

“Your turning out to be a lousy gladiator,” snarled the instructor.

He grabbed Jake by the neck of his armour suit, and then pinned Jake against one of the bay’s walls. “You are timid, afraid and weak. You wouldn't last one minute in the real arena!”

“Leave him alone,” snarled Nog, he had walked over and his gun was aimed at the instructors' chest.

At once two station troopers who were lurking by the orange wall, stepped forwards their guns were instantly trained on Nog.

The instructor though did not seem concerned at all, he simply leered at Nog in an ugly manner. “Are you sure you want to do that Ferengi? That collar can be detonated at any time, the moment your finger squeezes that trigger the collar will be activated.”

Nog seemed to realise the futility of his actions because all the fight had drained from him. All he could do was make the Ferengi hiss of contempt, before returning to his bay.

“Smart move Ferengi,” said the instructor.

Now the instructor returned to Jake, who was looking fearfully at him. “As for you I want to see a hundred headshots. The computers counting them, and if there is less than a hundred headshots I might just detonate your collar. It's your choice.”

Jake trudged back to the platform, and he looked utterly dejected and lost.

The instructor though scowled at Jake once more, before moving on to inspect Nog and Ezri.

Jake though began firing, but his hands were shaking slightly, and his eyes were watery. It seemed Jake was on the verge of giving up, but to do that would be fatal. If he gave up now the station troopers would kill him, on the instructor’s orders. Jake looked like a rat on a sinking ship, totally cornered and with no means of escape. He was only carrying on, purely out of fear.


***


Day 1, 2100 hours

Ezri returned to the barracks, with Jake and Nog, back to their cramped accommodation. There was only two bunk beds, some padds, a toilet, and a small holovision set. It may have been cramped but it felt like home to Ezri, and it was a welcome sight after the end of a hard day’s training.

Once she was inside, she turned on the lights, and headed for her bed. They all began taking of their armour and as usual they did so in silence.

All day Ezri had been sweating under her armour suit, she was sweaty and dirty, but there were no real means to clean herself up. The toilet was a near cesspit of vileness. So she, Jake and Nog stank to high heaven, but she had got so used to the smell that after a week or so she stopped noticing. Her clothes were all coloured brown and black from the dirt and dust. The only bit of her body she could clean properly was her face and hands.

So she went to the toilet, her nose still adapting to the sewage like smell. She went over to a grimy sink, turned the tap, and put some of the water against her face and hands. She dried herself with a dirty towel, before turning off the tap, and leaving the bathroom. In particular she was careful to close the door, to keep most of the stench out of the first room.

She sat down on the metal bed, and she became very conscious of her aching body. All of the running around, climbing over obstacles and crawling had taken it out of her. Though she could feel the nanites sooth her muscles they did not seem to do anything for fatigue. She had been put through such a rigorous training regime that she felt genuinely mad with anger and frustration.

Every part of the day was designed to provide discomfort for the trainee gladiators, and it was now starting to really get to Ezri. It was the food, the accommodation, the armour, the instructors, the training, the sanitation, taken together it made her feel crazy. However whenever she felt emotionally trapped or overwhelmed, she closed her eyes and did her form of meditation. It gave her some perspective and clarity on her whole situation.

“I'm wasted,” said Jake. “How long is this training going to last?”

Ezri opened her eyes, feeling a bit more emotionally settled. “I'm not sure.”

She noticed how drawn Jake looked, and she realised that Jake needed more nourishment. “Listen take my ration pack, you need to conserve your strength.”

“Don't worry about me, you have that,” said Jake, his hand pushing away the ration pack. “Besides you are our captain, you're more important than me.”

“Just being a good captain, they look after their own flock you know…”

She looked at Jake in an encouraging manner. “So I'm telling you Jake hang in there, you should be proud that you made it this far.”

“Dax is right Jake,” chimed in Nog, “you're not even a Starfleet officer and yet you've kept your nerve!”

“I suppose so,” said Jake smiling a little.

“I'm serious,” said Nog firmly, “it's pretty amazing what you've done, because people aren't designed to take this sort of regime or punishment! Even with Starfleet training it doesn't make the situation any easier!”

There were times when Ezri was deeply glad that Nog was Jake’s best friend. No one could make Jake smile like Nog could, and Ezri was certain that without Nog, Jake’s morale would be far lower.

While the three started on their ration packs, Holo arrived. He looked flawless and immaculate, but his face looked troubled.

Nog looked up from his packet. “How was your day?”

“Awful,” said Holo quietly, when the door had closed behind him.

He then stood still and reverted into his Starfleet uniform. “Unlike you three when I train I do sometimes kill real people.”

“Who did you kill today?” asked Nog, sounding very cautious.

“Five Jem'Hadar, I cut them to pieces,” said Holo, he looked at Nog in a strangely distant manner. “I just feel strange you know, and this may sound morbid and disgusting but I'm getting used to killing people. Perhaps the Apocalypse subroutines are diluting the effects of my ethical subroutines... I don't know.”

Holo sat down beside Ezri, he continued to look glum.

Ezri sought to find the words to say to lift his spirits up. Holo was sort of like her first officer, he was also the one with the best chances of survival. Whatever they were facing Ezri was glad Holo was with them, but right now she needed Holo on board with their goal.

“You've had it tough for the last two months,” she said, while looking at each face. “We all have. But it's about survival, maybe some opportunity will present itself where we-”

She broke off when the door opened and a station trooper came through.

“You four have been assigned to a team. Your team name is United Federation of Planets or UFP for short. Your first match will be in the main arena onboard this station tomorrow at 1530 hours. You will be called out of your quarters at 1400 hours. Remember the arena is not the only thing that can kill you, if the audience grows bored of you, your collars will be activated. So keep it interesting. You will also have a mission controller assigned to you.”

“Who is the mission controller?” asked Ezri.

“You'll find out just before the start of the match.”

The station trooper left the room, and in his wake the tension had skyrocketed in the room.

Everyone was thinking about what would be coming tomorrow. After two months of brutal training, here came the real test.

“Great,” said Nog sarcastically, breaking the tense silence. “We’ve seen these arena matches, and they're absolutely brutal, most gladiators would be dead in seconds if it weren't for the nanites.”

Somehow Jake seemed to grow pale after hearing this. “How can the gladiators take such horrific injuries, recover, and then carry on? Surely the nanites can’t be that effective?”

“It looks like they are, it’s the only explanation why the gladiators can take such horrific punishment.”

“Thank God I'm a hologram,” said Holo, sounding relieved, “I don't feel pain.”

Jake though was starting to look increasingly nervous, and he was fidgeting around with his ration packet. “These arena matches don't sound like anything we've trained for!”

“A third of all trainee gladiators don't even make it past the first match,” said Nog. “But if you do make it, that usually means your chances of survival are good up to three months.”

“Three months?” exclaimed Jake. “Those are horrible odds!”

“Listen,” said Ezri, raising her voice so that she could be heard. “We could all worry ourselves to death about whether we'll survive tomorrow or the matches after that. But right now all we can do is focus on our training, that is our best means for survival! Now I know none of us feel like sleeping but at least let's try to get a good nights sleep, as we'll need it for tomorrow!”

There were nods all around, and deciding to set down the precedent, Ezri proceeded to lie down in the cold and hard bed. By some miracle for the last seven weeks she had managed to get some sleep, but as always it was fragmented and broken. Her broken sleep cycle was probably contributing to her fatigue and the restlessness she felt.

Eventually everyone was lying down, though Ezri was certain that nobody would be sleeping tonight. Not when they were thinking about the arena match tomorrow. Indeed Ezri wondered if this was the last time she would ever sleep on this bed…
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Old January 6 2012, 08:21 PM   #145
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Re: DS9: A continuation

I'm staggered by the amount of time and effort that must have gone into creating such a large body of work.
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Old January 6 2012, 10:57 PM   #146
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Re: DS9: A continuation

I've written 26 stories in all, 24 of them for this series, plus I've written collaboratively for two other stories (check out Star Trek: More than A Will To Live this is a TOS story). I've spent the last nine months writing and publishing, plus about four years developing this series characters and plot. This series comes to about 130 stories in total (110 of which I haven't got round to completing), and I've finished the first twenty stories.
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Old January 6 2012, 10:58 PM   #147
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 1

Kira stepped off the turbolift when it came to a stop at Ops. She was wearing her uniform, and briefly her eyes moved left to right as she took in the view. It had been four months since she last worked in Ops, but this time she would be working in the commander’s office. Through a cruel twist of fate she was now the commander of DS9, and she had not expected things to turn out like this.

She proceeded to the commander’s office, along the way she noticed some of Ops staff glancing at her. There were smiles on a couple of the officer’s faces, particularly the Bajoran ones. Kira never fully appreciated how popular she was, but she did not care about popularity, but it was nice to know that her fellow officers respected her.

She jogged up the steps to the commander’s office, and went through the automatically opening door.

Megan looked up from the desk, and she smiled warmly at Kira. “It's good to see you back in Ops.”

“Thanks...” said Kira with a small smile. “Shall we get this over with?”

“Agreed,” said Megan with a nod. She picked up a padd from the desk, stood up and came around the desk to face Kira. “To Commander Megan Felpes,” she said, reading from the pad, “Commanding Officer of Deep Space Nine. Stardate 71489.4. You are hereby requested and required to relinquish command of the station to Colonel Kira Nerys, officer of the Bajoran militia, as of this date. Signed, Admiral Jonathan Ross, Starfleet Command.”

Megan lowered the padd. “Computer, transfer all command codes to Colonel Kira Nerys. Voice authorization: Megan-omicron-gamma-6-2-9.”

“Transfer complete,” said the computer. “Deep Space Nine is now under the command of Colonel Kira Nerys.”

“I think we can skip the formalities now,” Megan observed, she then held out a hand for Kira to shake.

Kira took Megan’s hand and shook it.

“Congratulations Nerys you earned this,” said Megan fondly.

Kira though shook her head. “I didn't intend to be the commander of DS9 like this, it should be Ezri sitting in that chair.”

“There's nothing we can do for Ezri, not yet anyway. Starfleet is still deliberating about a first strike on Apocalypse, and I think in a few days time they'll come to a decision.”

“I hope they agree to attacking Apocalypse, they have to agree, otherwise Apocalypse will pose an even bigger threat to the Federation!”

“This is about captain Dax isn't it?” asked Megan, glancing rather shrewdly at Kira. “You want revenge on Apocalypse because they abducted Dax, your best friend, and Jake!”

“Revenge is a little harsh, but yes I want to see Apocalypse pay for it's crimes. I know there's no hope for Dax, Jake or the others, and they’re probably all being trained as gladiators!”

Kira paused, and walked to the back of the desk. “Oh yes I want you Ms Felpes to be second in command of the station. You’ve done a great job keeping this place running despite Dax's absence.”

With a small bow to her head, Megan acknowledged this. “Is there anything else colonel?”

“No,” said Kira.

At once Megan left the office and took up a station in Ops.

Now that Megan was gone, Kira looked around at the desk, and she noticed that Sisko’s baseball was still there. It was Benjamin Sisko’s way of saying he was coming back, and even now Kira never doubted this. Somehow for some reason Sisko would return…

She winced a little when she felt a nasty cramp building up around her right thigh. Despite all the physiotherapy she still occasionally got cramp either around her legs or arms. She sat down letting her muscles rest, even now the virus she had contracted four months ago was still indirectly affecting her. Though she was fit enough to return to her post, Bashir had warned her that her muscles may have been permanently weakened.

The whole experience had changed her, and at times it had taught her a lesson in humility and patience. Now though she had more pressing matters: commanding this station and finding a way to rescue her missing friends and colleagues. Currently her best hopes were pinned upon admiral Ross, in a few days time he would be contacting her, informing her of his decision on what to do about Apocalypse.

Kira hoped Ross had the guts to launch an all-out assault on Apocalypse, because if he did not then Kira’s last hope for seeing her friends again would be quashed.


***


Megan walked into the astronomy lab for what was probably the last time. Now that she was second in command of DS9 her station was now at Ops, issuing duty rosters, directing ships to docking bays and overseeing the various station departments.

She had walked a few steps inside when she heard the faint sound of a tracer pen against a padd. Looking around she saw Mia working in the usual spot by the secluded table. “Mia? What are you doing here?”

“Working what else?” said Mia, she was hunched up, writing rapidly on the padd. “I always prefer to work in here.”

Megan looked around the astronomy lab, from the ceiling lights to the projector in the centre of the room. “It's been good hasn't it? You and me working here together...”

Such reminiscent language seemed to distract Mia, and she looked up from her work. “They were good times, you taught me an awful lot about life...”

“You’re exaggerating,” said Megan dismissively, “those abilities were within you all along...”

Now Mia was packing up her padds, and placing them into a bag. There was a tone of finality in her actions, as if she were appreciating the significance of the moment. When she was done, Mia walked over to the projector, where Megan was working from. “Are you sure you want to close down the astronomy lab?”

“I have no need for it,” said Megan, while she used a console, turning the lab’s systems off one by one. “And nobody has applied to take my post, so I'm afraid this place hast to be closed down. So you are going to have to find some other place to do your work... What are you doing by the way? In these last two months we haven't had the time to talk that much…”

For some reason Mia looked a little sheepish. “Well I'm continuing my studies, but I've been recently meditating a lot and just thinking about what to do next...”

“I still maintain with your skills you could get into Starfleet Academy, or any other scientific post.”

“I know,” said Mia, though she did not sound that interested or convinced. “But I just need some time to think about what I want to do with my life...”

“Sure think about what you want to do, but time has that disturbing habit of flashing before your very eyes.”

Megan then gazed at the subroutines flashing before her eyes on the console screen. She was a little concerned for Mia’s seemingly lack of ambition, it seemed to have plateaued from the moment Megan had stopped working in the astronomy lab.

“What you need,” she advised, “is a goal to focus upon, you find that goal and you would have found your life's calling.”

“It's more than that,” mused Mia, with a puzzled frown on her face. “I'm just more curious about who I am. All of this meditation has made me more aware of myself as a person, I mean one thing I'd like to do is go to the Great Link and experience it.”

“You may be able to link with shapeshifters but that doesn't mean they will welcome you...” warned Megan.

Inwardly she thought Odo’s people would flat out reject Mia for what she was, being only half a shapeshifter. All Megan knew was that the shapeshifter’s were a proud people, and they would probably recoil in horror to see their DNA, their essence diluted in a Bajoran girl.

“It's just a thought...” added Mia. “And by the way I'm not going to be lazing around, I'll be doing the odd job here and there on this station.”

“Whatever you do be sure you're satisfied with your choice in the long term...”

With a final few commands, Megan initiated the shutdown sequence, and the projector, and nearly every console, except the one Megan was working from, shut down. “Well that's it, everything's shut down.”

“There is one more thing,” said Mia. “I was wondering if you would come around to my quarters to have dinner with my family on say Fridays...”

“It's a nice idea,” said Megan, giving Mia a rather fixed smile. “But your mother is now the commanding officer of this station. I just think it is a little inappropriate to be having dinner with her in such a casual manner, it's a Starfleet thing you know.”

“Forget about Starfleet,” replied Mia with a wave of her hand. “How about dinner between two friends? My mum really likes you and I think part of that is what you've done for me...”

When presented that way Megan felt more partial to the idea, because she was friends with Kira. They had at times spoken, in private, at length about various issues, ever since Ezri was abducted. “Alright I'll come, workload permitting of course, but at what time?”

“Say 1800 hours,” suggested Mia. “My mum will be cooking.”

“Lord have mercy...” replied Megan, there was only one person she trusted to cook with real food and that was her mother. “I didn't know your mother could cook...”

“She had to out of necessity to fill in for Odo occasionally... Anyway at the very least I’ll be seeing you this Friday. So er… bye and I hope your day goes well…”

“Yeah thanks…” said Megan.

While Mia left the astronomy lab, Megan lingered for a bit longer, looking around the place. She felt like she had reached a turning point in her life, for close to a year this room had been her life. Fate though had different plans…

Megan hoped she could keep up her friendship with Mia, she really liked that girl, and in some ways Mia reminded Megan of herself when she was younger. Intelligent, curious and a little naïve of the outside world. Aside from Max, Mia was Megan’s next best friend and she hoped that despite the workload of her job she could still maintain her friendship with Mia.

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Old January 6 2012, 10:59 PM   #148
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 2

When Megan entered the Replimat to have her tea, she noticed Tanya sitting all by herself on a table, drinking a beverage and studying a padd. For the last two months Tanya had been avoiding Megan when not on duty, and this irked Megan somewhat. She was off-duty and so she decided to finally get to the bottom of the matter.

“May I sit here?” asked Megan, when she was next to the table.

Tanya lowered the mug she was drinking from and stared coldly into Megan’s eyes. “With all due respect sir, I would like to be left alone.”

“Please drop the formality,” said Megan softly. “I’m not on duty…”

She hoped this would reassure Tanya, but Tanya simply returned to staring at her padd. Realising Tanya had zero inclination to talk, Megan decided to force the issue upon her. “I've noticed you've been avoiding me for these last few months and I'd like to know why.”

Angrily Tanya slammed the padd down. “I don't want-” She lowered her voice. “-to talk about this!”

Megan though ignored Tanya’s objections and sat down. “Is it because I'm friends with Max and he considered me a close friend?”

This seemed to strike a chord with Tanya, and her defensiveness lowered considerably. “Listen if we're going to have this conversation let's have it somewhere more private.”

“There's an empty store thirty metres away, we'll go there.”

There was a moment’s silence from Tanya as she considered the option. “Alright then.”

The two women left the table, and walked along the Promenade. When Megan came to the empty store, she deciphered the door lock, deactivating it, and opened the door. In a courteous gesture she let Tanya go through the door first.

With Tanya inside, Megan followed and carefully closed the door.

There was sparse illumination in this room, and the shadows from the ceiling's bulkheads seemed to make Tanya’s face more mask-like.

An awkward silence sprung up between the two, and Megan detected there was more bad feeling going around than she realised. “You go first then,” she suggested half-heartedly.

“No you do,” said Tanya irately. “This conversation is your idea after all.”

“Okay then,” said Megan, she paused as she thought about how she was going to say this. “You’ve been avoiding me for these last two months… Now I can attribute that to not wanting to socialise with me when I was the commanding officer of this station. But ever since we first met, you've barely spoken to me, and I just want to know why?”

“I guess I felt uncomfortable around you because you were one of Max's best friends.”

“Uncomfortable?” echoed Megan.

“All right!” exclaimed Tanya angrily. “I was somewhat jealous of you, because you get along so well with Max!”

“Jealous?” said Megan, she could not believe this. “What's wrong with me being Max's friend?” she asked, sounding a little wounded.

Now Tanya looked super awkward, and her eyes were constantly darting to one side as if she found it really difficult to look at Megan straight in the face. “Well you talked a lot, and Max really liked you in a friendly way, well at least I think his feelings were friendly!”

“Listen to me Tanya,” said Megan firmly. “Nothing happened between myself and Max! I swear to you absolutely nothing!”

She forced herself to look into Tanya’s eyes, because she was not quite telling the whole truth. Nothing did happen, but she did fancy Max. “We were always friends, and I never sensed from Max any romantic inclinations.”

“Oh...” said Tanya, and a red flush rapidly blossomed on her cheeks. “Well I had this conversation with Max two months ago and he told me the same thing. Unfortunately I was a little suspicious of both of you two when you talked on your own.”

Megan shook her head, talk about misunderstandings… “So that explains why you were avoiding me. You thought I was some sort of rival to you, competing for Max's affections!”

“Something stupid like that,” said Tanya, looking deeply embarrassed. “You may not know this but Max deeply cares for your well-being, he talked to me quite a bit about you, and how he wanted to help you rebuild your life. I think he's more fond of you than you can realise.”

“That's nice to know,” said Megan warmly, it gave her deep satisfaction to hear someone else confirm what she already knew: she was one of Max’s closest friends. “I don't suppose there's anything else I need to know about?”

“No there isn't…” said Tanya, the redness from her cheeks started to disappear. “But I think I'll still find it difficult to talk you.”

“For what reason?”

Tanya stared miserably into Megan’s eyes. “Something about you reminds me of Max, you knew him almost as well as I did, and that reminds me of losing Max... So for now...”

“It's best we keep a respectful distance...” finished Megan.

“Yeah that's best...” agreed Tanya, nodding somewhat.

Once again the awkwardness was building up, and Megan realised that Tanya wanted to be left alone. “Well my shift is over, and I'm going back to my quarters, I'll see you tomorrow...”

With a last look at Tanya’s subdued face, Megan walked out of the store. She realised that Tanya was still grieving for Max’s loss. A jolt of worry churned Megan’s stomach as she wondered how well Tanya was coping. Everyone dealt with loss in their own way, and Megan feared that Tanya had not let go and was still clinging to the past in the vain hope that Max would miraculously return to the station. If that was the case then it came as no surprise to Megan why Tanya seemed so upset.


***


Blow after blow Kira struck the punch bag with her boxing gloves. With each blow she tried to vent her anger and frustration out, but it did not really seem to be working. Recently she had been using her holosuite combat program as a means to vent out her temper, rather than build up her physical strength.

She had modified a boxing program, so that instead of boxing on the ring, it was hand-to-hand combat with holographic fighters: Cardassians, Klingons, Jem’Hadar. Already after two weeks of using this program she had broken her nose three times, broke a few ribs, her jaw, and took numerous scrapes and bruises.

That was just at the easy difficulty level, and Kira knew she had her work cut out if she was ever going to return to her level of fitness before the virus.

“You want to take it easy you know,” commented Bashir, who had been covertly watching Kira, below the boxing ring. “All that exertion may give you further cramp and mild muscle spasms!”

“I don't want to take it easy!” breathed Kira, while she punched a bit harder. “My punch is as weak as a child's, I couldn't even break an Jourallian nose, and they're totally brittle!”

Bashir pulled the ropes over his head, and stepped onto the ring. “Jourallian noses aside, I did warn you that it would be highly unlikely for you to regain your full physical strength pre-virus.”

Hearing Bashir’s words of wisdom did little to soothe Kira's temper. She was so distracted by Bashir that she lost her rhythm and desisted from the punching. Her heart was racing and she did not realise how out of breathe she felt.

Still she was feeling cranky and Bashir arriving was not helping matters, however boxing was not doing her any good either, so she took off the boxing gloves.

“Listen say DS9 was boarded by the Cardassians. I'd be lucky to get one decent knock in a hand-to-hand fight. You may not realise this about me but I consider a large part of ones self-confidence to be able to deal with some person's stupid behaviour towards you. If I can't knock out a Cardassian, or any other humanoid for that matter, then I'm a liability in close quarter combat. That's why I'm doing this, to get my fighting skills back.”

“I still maintain that you may not get your full physical strength back, besides I'd thought you would be happy now you are working again?”

“I am happy!” said Kira, though she sounded the exact opposite. “But I'd be happier if I'm back at my physical prime!”

There was that familiar smug look on Bashir’s face, he did not seem to be deterred by Kira’s mood, indeed he seemed to enjoy it. “You know you could always use a phaser pistol in close-quarter situations. I know Garak did because he told me of his distaste of hand-to-hand combat...”

“Whatever you're trying Julian it won't work, I'm continuing on with these combat programs and that's that.”

“Alright,” said Bashir, pretending to back off. “But do take it easy, I mean do you really have to fight with the holodeck safety protocols off?”

“It wouldn't be the same, and I promise to take better care of myself. Happy?”

“Not really,” said Bashir, the smug look was now gone as he accepted defeat. “But I know there's no point arguing with you... This is your form of stress relief and who am I to deprive you of that?”

“Computer deactivate program,” said Kira.

While the surroundings reverted into the inside’s of Quark’s holosuites, Kira turned around to confront Bashir’s rather sly remark. “What makes you think I’m stressed?”

“Well for one thing you were trying to beat that punch bag into submission, and for another someone important, like admiral Ross, has given you some really bad news.”

“Bad news?” she repeated ominously, before shaking her head looking downwards. “I think at times Starfleet has no backbone!”

She paused trying to find the words to describe her meeting with admiral Ross. “Ross told me in the worst bureaucratic jargon possible that Starfleet doesn’t want to attack Apocalypse!”

“What do you mean by bureaucratic jargon?”

“How about ‘putting the matter under advisement’,” said Kira putting on her best Starfleet admiral voice. “Or ‘Starfleet takes the threat seriously, but the threat has yet to develop into a situation which threatens the Federation’.”

“I mean by the Prophets, are they just winding me up?” she exclaimed. “Hasn’t Apocalypse already threatened the Federation? As I said before the Starfleet top brass are spineless wimps more concerned about Earth’s safety, than far flung outposts like this one.”

“But Starfleet may reconsider if the situation deteriorates…” reminded Bashir.

“Oh come on Julian!” said Kira sharply. “Apocalypse wouldn’t be stupid enough to force Starfleet to retaliate back! No, Apocalypse are just going to remain as a nuisance, bad enough to give Starfleet a headache but not really threaten it in any way. There I said it…”

“And do you feel any better?”

“No,” sighed Kira. “This place still doesn’t feel right without Dax or Weatherby, Holo, Nog and Jake.”

Bashir nodded in a gloomy manner, no doubt he was deeply missing his friend Nog. “Do you think any them of will survive?”

“Ezri has a certain as hard as nails quality about her, if anyone can survive it is her. As for the others, one can only hope…”

Hope, Kira had been saying that word quite a bit, to others and to herself. She had no idea what had happened to Ezri, Nog and the others. The best she could do was get on with her life and not be distracted by the absence of her colleagues.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old January 8 2012, 12:00 AM   #149
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 1

Day 2, 1520 hours

Authors note: the bold text was designed to differentiate between the story's first person focus on Ezri and the third person focus on the commentators (which is the bold text).

This was a moment that Ezri had been dreading, she was here with Nog, Holo and Max waiting for the ship carrying them to land in the arena. They were waiting in the ship's small landing bay, watching from a screen, inbuilt into the wall, the live coverage of a match taking place in of the Apocalypse station’s arenas.

This particular match was a one-on-one battle between two famous gladiators Ironman and Hellfire. Ironman was the one in a massive exoskeleton suit slugging it out against Hellfire, who was wearing very simple body armour and carrying a massive rifle in his hands.

Ezri could not believe the ferocity which those two were fighting. Ironman was launching round after round from his plasma cannons, but Hellfire was constantly raising a shield blocking the plasma fire.

Hellfire was advancing along the massive square platform, and finally, literally leapt onto Ironman, while somehow transforming his rifle into a pair of razor sharp dagger-like grips and was climbing up the exoskeleton suit.

There was a terrible fear coming from Ironman’s face, which was the only part of his body visible in the massive machine. For he was stuck in his exoskeleton machine, and Hellfire was climbing to the top. Ironman twisted his exoskeleton machine in all sorts of directions trying to shake Hellfire off but to no avail.

Finally Hellfire reached to the top and began cutting away with his daggers at the machine's protective armour keeping Ironman’s body safe. The metal casing came off, and Hellfire one-handedly pulled Ironman out of the machine. Hellfire jumped off, taking Ironman with him, before hovering slowly downwards from what looked like thruster packs attached to his boots.

When Hellfire reached the crowd, he slammed Ironman hard against the floor. All Ironman had was his suit of armour and phaser pistol to defend himself, but with a sweep of his hand Hellfire cast away the phaser pistol and advanced upon Ironman. With a rapid flurry of motion Hellfire stuck blow after blow with his twin daggers.

Ezri could not believe anyone could move that fast, but through the blur of arms which was Hellfire, she noticed that Hellfire was cutting Ironman’s armour to pieces. After some seconds of this, Hellfire stepped back, and there lying on the ground, bloodied and slashed was Ironman.

There was a cold murderous expression upon Hellfire’s face, and he was egged on by the arena crowd who were chanting ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’. He was going to kill Ironman horribly...

Ezri was disgusted by what she had already seen, but she did not have to watch anymore because the screen suddenly turned off. With a jolt she realised that the ship had landed in the arena, and the landing bay hatch slowly opened, revealing a horizontal slice of the arena which steadily widened as the hatch lowered.

The bright lights momentarily dazzled Ezri, but she looked away to address Jake, Holo and Nog. “Remember stick close together, and follow my orders! We’ll get through this if we work as a team!”

Her fellow team mates appeared a little reassured by this, but Jake looked panic stricken. His eyes were wide with fear and his breathing was erratic.

Now though Ezri could not focus just on Jake, she had a battle to fight and she intended to win. When the hatch was fully lowered, she walked down the hatch and onto the arena.

There was a sudden roar from the crowd from a nearby arena.

“Oooooh and that is it for Ironman, Hellfire's 402nd victim!” said Dallas, the humanoid male commentator.

“Hellfire has been on a year long winning streak,” commented Juanita, the female humanoid commentator, “knocking out some of Apocalypse's finest warriors!”


Ezri glanced up and saw a floating platform-complete with a desk, chairs and safety railings-upon which Dallas and Juanita were commentating. It seemed to float of its own accord without any form of thrust, and Ezri deduced there must be some sort of anti-gravity generator inside.

The platform came steadily downwards until it was just above the top most row of seats in the arena. From the other arena the crowd was still cheering away.

“And listen to that crowd,” said Dallas enthusiastically. “They came here for carnage, and Hellfire is the master of carnage!”

He paused and looked down at the arena he and Juanita were floating above. “Who's next Juanita?”

“Erm...” said Juanita, while she flicked through the contents of a padd. “Some unknown team called United Federation of Planets, UFP for short.”


There was an outbreak of booing from the crowd, and Ezri glared around. It was bad enough fighting in this arena, it was even worse when the crowd was not behind her and her supposed ‘team’.

“Don't worry folks,” said Dallas in an oily manner, “we'll see how long the mighty Federation can last in the face of this arena!”

The crowd cheered in a nasty manner, and before Ezri could even think about what a bunch of jerks this crowd was, a voice sounded in her earpiece.

Ezri is that you?

“Max?” exclaimed Ezri.

I don’t have time to explain, so listen carefully. I've been assigned as your mission controller, you better stay alive otherwise I'm out of a job. I'm here to inform you of the arena's obstacles and booby traps.

“It's good to hear your voice,” said Ezri, there was a silence and she assumed that Max must have been gathering up details of the upcoming arena battle.

“Who was that?” asked Nog.

“Max, he's our mission controller.”

Ezri looked around making sure her team had all the necessary equipment. They were all carrying phaser pistols, plasma rifles, grenades, Apocalypse-issued tricorders, combat knives, explosives and of course they were all wearing the dull orange standard issue armour suits.

All Ezri could do was wait, in a body suit that made her feel like she was in a sauna, and a helmet with facial plating that clung painfully around her ears and the sides of her cheeks. The only good thing about the helmet was the tactical visor, it was bolted onto the outside of her helmet, and when moved downwards it provided a nice tactical display of what she was looking at.

“Tonight,” said Dallas with much gusto, “we have a former Starfleet captain turned gladiator who hates candy, kids and holovision. Let gives up for Ezri Dax!”

Again the crowd booed.

Ezri glanced up at Dallas with disbelieve, talk about misrepresentation...

“What a ragtag bunch,” said Juanita, her voice full of derision. “A Starfleet captain, a technician, a hologram and a cook!”

Now the crowd laughed, and there was an outbreak of more booing and jeering.

“They won't last two minutes,” replied Dallas confidently. “So don't bother to getting off your seats people, this will be short and sweet.”

“We'll see about that,” said Ezri through gritted teeth.

There was a loud siren-like sound, and Ezri realised the match had begun. With a glance at Holo she saw his Apocalypse programming activate, and he suddenly looked like a complete stranger.

She lowered her visor, and ran forwards to red duranium blocks that had sprung up from the floor. Her team followed and they had just crouched behind cover when a dozen armoured robots with rifles beamed into the centre of the arena.

Ezri knew that these robots were standard combat droids of fourth class. While deadly, a little skill and some tactics meant they were easy prey. “On my mark,” said Ezri, her head just against the periphery of the block. “Three, two, one… Now!”

She stood up and fired her rifle at four combat droids who were advancing on her position. The remaining eight droids who were strafing to cover, fired, and she took cover. Holo moved over to the left to flank a couple of droids, and Ezri used this to fire a few more rounds at the droids.

Some moments later and her team had destroyed the droids, but no sooner did that happen then more droids beamed down, followed by robotic chompers; small two legged robots, which resembled a Doralvian swamp crawler. Likewise the chompers had a very wide mouth full of razor sharp teeth.

The chompers beamed down close to Ezri and the rest of her team, and she took out her phaser pistol blasting them. One of them got too close and it sank its mouth around her left shin. She felt its teeth penetrate the armour and into her calve, and she aimed her pistol downwards, discharging a round that blasted the chomper’s head to smithereens.

Suddenly a wave of enemy fire came over her head, and Ezri looked up and saw a wave of droids advancing on all three sides. She shouted at her team to maintain position, and for a moments it was hit and miss, as she ducked above and below the duranium block, firing rounds.

The next wave was destroyed, and this time Ezri ordered her team to advance forwards, to the right of the platform. She was careful to stick to cover but also not to get to close to the platform's edge, where molten lava awaited those unfortunate enough to fall off the platform.

Four more waves came, but again she and her team followed the same tactics of taking cover and flanking, and as such each consecutive wave of enemies were destroyed.

Through all the fighting Ezri did not really notice her leg heal up, but this was because of the nanites. Not only did they heal injuries rapidly but they also provided pain relief.

After the sixth wave, Ezri saw a door, leading to the second part of the course, open up. Cautiously she and her team approached, because they had to cross a narrow stretch of platform, which branched off from the first. Sure enough their caution was warranted as melon sized hovering balls came flying towards her.

These were as Apocalypse fans called ‘slashers’, little floating balls which when in close contact to a gladiator, opened up revealing three equidistant foot long blades. The blades then spun rapidly until they made contact with a gladiator.

Ezri fired round after round at them trying to destroy the slashers but she only managed to hit a few of them. Even Holo with his advanced senses, was having difficulty destroying the slashers while they were in flight.

The slashers landed around Ezri and they clustered around her, there was only a few seconds before the slashers blades burst out, and Ezri had to club some of them backwards with her rifle. This seemed to disrupt the slashers motion and they moved backwards a bit, and Ezri took this opportunity to blast them pieces. She then whirled around when she heard Jake cry out loud, and she noticed that one of the slashers' blades had embedded itself partially into Jake’s abdomen.

“Ooh!” said Dallas, “Looks our chef is being cut up like layers from an onion!”

There was more jeering from the crowd, but Ezri ignored this and was about to fire some rounds at the slashers surrounding Jake, when Nog stepped in firing his pistol at close range.

“Let’s take a look at that injury,” said Nog.

“I’ll be fine,” said Jake, breathing deeply and his eyes were rimmed with pain. “Besides the nanites will kick in and fix me up. Let’s keep moving!”

With one quick glance at Jake, Ezri recognised the look on his face. It was pure unadulterated fear, at any point Jake could simply crack. But Ezri had no choice but to press on, she walked along the thin platform and went through the door.

This revealed a second arena, and at the centre was a massive grey rocky hill. It was lined with craters, and there were a series of windy stepped platforms that lead to the top of the hill. At that moment Max spoke in Ezri’s earpiece.

Ezri at the top of the hill can you see a 20mm plasma turret?

Ezri studied her visor’s display carefully and she just managed to spot the turret as it was 250 metres away. “I can.”

You have to destroy it, unfortunately the turret has a proximity sensor, and it activates when someone is within twenty metres.

“Any suggestions then?” asked Ezri, while she advanced forward, her rifle held up waiting for trouble to arrive

I’m not sure, I’ll think of something when you get to the turret.

“That’s if we make it there,” commented Ezri irately.

You will,” said Max confidently. “Now once the plasma turret is destroyed then the match ends.

“Understood.”

Fighting to get to the top of the hill was a long and arduous task. Ezri and her team would advance to one platform, only for combat droids, chompers, slashers and even Jem’Hadar to beam in. One memorable moment was when Holo had rigged his tricorder to deflect phaser fire. A combat droid had been unlucky enough to fire straight at Holo, only for the phaser beam to bounce straight back and hit the droid square in the chest.

“Did you just see that?” said Dallas, sounding awestruck. “That hologram what's his name?”

“Holo,” answered Juanita.

“He reflected a plasma beam straight back at that combat droid!”


Ezri came to a stop against a tall wall, and to her right was a staircase that lead to the next level. There was a brief lull in the fighting, and she could see that she had climbed a considerable portion of the hill.

Watch out,” warned Max’s voice. “The 20mm plasma turret is up ahead, a direct assault is not advisable.

“I'll think of something,” said Ezri.

But before she did, she noticed Jake and he looked utterly woe-by-gone. She walked over to him, and she tried to think of some words which would encourage him. “Listen Jake this isn't the time to be afraid, we have to survive, do you understand?”

Jake simply nodded, but his eyes were still wide with fear.

“Arrrr... Little Jake is afraid is he?” said Juanita in a horrible mock-baby voice.

At this the crowd jeered again, and through the jeers, some verbal abuse could be heard.

“So typical of humans,” said Dallas, sounding disappointed. “Put them under pressure and they buckle.”

“Don't give them the satisfaction,” said Ezri firmly, while she gestured with her thumb at the crowd. “They want to see you crumble...”

Somehow this seemed to strengthen Jake’s resolve, and the fear receded from his face and his eyes narrowed as if to focus on what was to come next. “Let's move on,” he replied grimly.

“Now this will be interesting,” said Dallas. “Team UFP are close to victory, but only a 20mm plasma turret is in the way. How will they deal with this?”

“They'll probably die trying,” said Juanita nastily. “But they might surprise us.”


Ezri realised that Juanita was not joking, the moment they got in sight of the plasma turret, it turned around and began firing down the gentle slope at herself and her team. They spent a minute dashing to and fro from rocks, before finally finding a metre high duranium barrier to hide behind. By some luck it was withstanding the constant pounding from the plasma rounds.

Looking around Ezri saw that there was more duranium barriers that were placed around in a loosely based series of concentric and broken up circles. “There's plenty of cover,” said Ezri, shouting to get her voice heard above the ear-splitting racket the plasma turret was making. “And that plasma turret seems to focus on one of us, we need to get closer to destroy it.”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old January 8 2012, 12:01 AM   #150
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 2

She and her team advanced up, but stopped within twelve metres when they realised they could go no further. They were stopped by this ugly looking turret, with revolving barrels and cuboid-shaped generators.

“We need a diversion,” shouted Nog. “If one of us draws that turret's fire I can have the time to plant the explosives.”

“I'll do it,” offered Ezri.

“You would be killed,” protested Jake, he seemed to have overcome his fear completely, and for the first time he did not look worried.

“She may be killed,” said Holo in an emotionless voice, “but we would survive. With the plasma turret destroyed the match would end.”

“Holo's right,” said Ezri grimly, she knew what she was getting into but it was the only way. She would rather sacrifice herself then a member of her team. “On my mark… now!”

She ran out of cover, taking wild potshots at the plasma turret. Her strategy worked, and a little to well, as the plasma turret was now boring down upon her.

“What's this?” Dallas observed. “It seems like Ezri is drawing the plasma turret's fire!”

“Look at her dodge behind cover,” said Juanita sounding amused. “But she can't avoid that turret forever...”


Ezri ignored this, and from behind cover she looked up and saw Nog planting the explosives. So she decided to ran out of cover again, this time though the plasma turret followed her at a more quicker pace. A three metre high wall suddenly popped up and Ezri realised there was nowhere to go. She turned around, her back facing the wall. Her heart was pounding, there was no escaping this, but her only consolation was that Nog had successfully planted the explosives and was running back to cover.

Suddenly in a rapid blur of intense pain, she felt round after round cut through her arms, legs and torso. It felt so vicious and she saw the blood spatter out of her body. Her whole body convulsed like a rag doll, but that promptly ceased when the turret stopped firing at her and moved over to Nog’s direction.

“Oooh!” said Dallas, wincing. “That'll leave a mark.”

Ezri was oblivious to Dallas’ commentary and the cheering of the crowd. She slumped downwards against the wall, looking briefly downwards at her bloodied and broken body. Hitting the ground with a thud seemed to increase the pain and her vision fogged up. The plasma turret exploded and Ezri dimly realised that the match was over, but for her she felt it was already over. She was dying, pain was all over her body...

“And that is it folks!” said Dallas loudly. “What a dramatic end to the match! Give up for Team UFP and Ezri Dax!”

The crowd was cheering wildly and despite her being so close to death, she was glad that the crowd approved of her team’s performance. “We did it,” she said weakly, before she fell sideways, the ground was retreating away from her…

“Are you alright?” said a voice.

Ezri stirred, was she dead? She opened her eyes and saw Nog’s face, it was full of worry and concern. “The nanites…” she said distantly. “They must have healed me.”

“You took a horrific beating,” commented Holo, he was looking worriedly at Ezri.

This registered with Ezri, and she realised that Holo’s Apocalypse programming had deactivated. She also felt more aware of her body, and the pain had receded considerably. Though she did look a right mess with holes riddled all over her suit, and the suit being considerably blood stained. “The pain's going away,” she said.

She got to her feet, assisted by Holo and Nog.

“There’s a transport ship waiting for us,” said Jake, pointing his rifle to a ship stationed at the bottom the hill.

So they all walked down the hill, and the crowd were still cheering them on. Despite everything that had happened and the sheer destruction and death that Ezri had witnessed, she could not help but feel uplifted and psyched up to hear the crowd roar for her and her team.

When they arrived at the transporter ship, a station trooper stepped out to greet them. “You’re in luck,” he said gruffly. “The crowd loved you so much, and your performance was so spectacular, that you’ve been bumped up a class to ‘skilled’.”

“Does that mean we get our own quarters?” asked Jake enthusiastically.

“It does,” said the man. “Oh yes here are your winnings and a station pass each.”

The station trooper chucked to Ezri a bag of latinum, and her station pass, which was a small and thin black amulet. She caught it, and feeling that her luck was definitely improving, she gestured to her team to get inside the transport ship. Wherever they were going had to be better than the barracks. They had survived their first arena match, and that was truly a cause for celebration…


***


There on a massive holoscreen placed upon a wall of Coplin’s office, was the footage of Team UFP battling it out trying to destroy the plasma turret. Coplin was laid back on a sofa, and his eyes seemed to be boring into the live feed, as if he were analysing every detail.

“Very interesting...” mumbled Coplin to himself, as he watched the last remnants of Team UFP’s debut match on the holovision.

Nemoltz was busy rummaging around for some padds placed on a shelf. “Are you talking about that match?” said Nemoltz disparagingly. “I thought it was bland, Team UFP approached the whole thing so very timidly!”

With an annoyed flick of his head, Coplin seemed to ignore Nemoltz’s disapproving tones. “That doesn't matter,” said Coplin, his hand briefly waved in front of his face. “What matters is the crowd's reaction, did you hear them? They see something in Team UFP, and in the leader Ezri Dax. If Team UFP last long enough they could be Apocalypse's mascots, the promotional gladiators.”

For a moment Nemoltz paused from his searching. “And replace Tesla X? That's a hard one because he is still a crowd favourite.”

Coplin nodded a few times, before getting off the sofa and quickly stretching his muscles. “In matches perhaps, but when it comes to selling our brand, he's unpopular. For two years now he has represented this company, and for two years sales have steadily declined, they're down forty percent from their peak.”

Nemoltz had finally found the required padd, and when he turned around there was disagreement all over his face. “Tesla X only has his popularity because he was the only person to defeat Hellfire, one-on-one! If Team UFP even has a chance of becoming super famous they have to defeat Hellfire first!”

“We'll get to that problem when it comes,” said Coplin, as he smiled in a placating manner. “But so far they are shaping up to be the best candidates to replace Tesla X!”

A scowl came upon Nemoltz’s face as he considered Coplin’s proposition. “Tesla X won't go willingly, unless of course he was killed...”

“No I have a better idea,” Coplin replied, his eyes were wide with craftiness and smugness. “I'll fix it so that there is a rematch between Hellfire and Tesla X. Hellfire is still smarting about losing to Tesla X, and I'm sure he'll do everything in his power to send Tesla X to an early grave. Besides the audience will love it, two of Apocalypse's greats slugging it out.”

“If Hellfire wins that match and then destroys Team UFP, which is most likely, we'll be left with no mascot! And you know full well that Hellfire cannot be reasoned with, to this day no one really knows why he came to Apocalypse!”

“It's a risk I'm willing to take...” answered Coplin.

There was no reasoning with Coplin, and Nemoltz seemed to realise this, because with one last questioning glance at Coplin, he then walked out of the office.

Coplin had returned to the sofa and with the remote control rewound the live feed, and resumed his intense study of the match.


***


Despite everything that had happened in that match Ezri felt unbelievably high. She and her team mates had all survived, they had received station passes and accommodation. After two months training under a brutal regime she was finally free of it, and this cheered her up considerably.

Initially when on board the transport ship, herself and her team mates had been highly excited. But now the excitement was wearing off as they walked through numerous corridors to reach Max’s quarters. Only Jake still seemed cheered, though Ezri could understand why. Jake had really suffered in these last two months, and now his burden had been reduced considerably.

Ezri was really proud of Jake because he had overcome his fear in the midst of the arena match.

“I still can't believe our good fortune...” said Jake, for what seemed the umpteenth time to Ezri. “We're out of those awful barracks!”

“I know you feel excited,” cautioned Ezri, “but it must be the steroids still in your system. They do more than strengthen your muscles, I think they're designed to make us more moody.”

Jake looked at Ezri in a disbelieving manner. “Trust you to cast a down note on everything! We survived! We got station passes! I'd say our luck is improving!”

Nog who was walking beside Jake, chimed in. “We may have survived one match but they're only going to get harder, so I think your jubilation is premature.”

“The matches may become harder,” said Ezri, “but we have the money to afford better armour and weapons. So in the short term things will balance out...”

“We're nearly at Max's quarters,” informed Holo, who was guiding everyone as he had a map of the station in his program. “It's the tenth door on the right down this corridor.”

“I'm glad that Max is alive…” said Nog, who then bit his lip a little bit because he did not appear too happy by this. “Mind you he's had it so easy, plus he's working with Apocalypse...”

“Are you questioning Max's loyalties?” asked Ezri in a cutting tone of voice.

Nog glanced at Ezri looking a little uneasy. “No...”

“Well good because Max was forced to work with Apocalypse, anyway we shouldn't be talking about this because we're probably being monitored.”

The mood was now a little downbeat in the group, but Ezri thought that was because the reality of their situation was settling in. Just because they now had creature comforts did not change the fact that they would be fighting match after match for many years to come, and that was if they did not die in the process.

“I’ll be glad to have a bath,” said Jake, “and wash off all the stink and dirt on my body!”

“That’s definitely on my to do list!” said Nog vehemently.

Ezri could not help but smile at this, it would be nice to have a bath. At that point she had reached Max’s quarters and she chimed the door. It opened up revealing Max who was standing behind the door.

He looked more relieved than happy to see his colleagues again. “It's good to see you four again! You did an amazing job out their in the arena, and more importantly you stayed alive... Anyway come in and make yourselves at home.”

Stepping inside Ezri looked around at the rather spacious quarters. They had a window which revealed the station, and walking to it Ezri could see right at the bottom the barracks and training facilities she once lived in. It felt strange to be standing here when less than twelve hours ago she was inside one of those barracks.

She stopped looking and turned around, she saw Jake, Holo, Nog and Max talk quite animatedly but she felt strangely detached from their presence. Standing there she simply listened…

“All I can say is that was amazing!” said Jake excitedly. “I didn't even think we would survive masses of Jem'Hadar and all those booby traps!”

Ezri moved forwards towards the group, she had more pressing matters to discuss. “We're all a bit hyped up from surviving, and receiving better accommodation...”

“And the one thousand strips of gold-pressed latinum,” added Holo, shaking a little bit the bag of latinum he was carrying.

“We earned it alright,” said Nog seriously, “after all that training in those cramped barracks.”

Max though seemed to have lost his enthusiasm much as Ezri had. “Don't let winning go to your head,” he warned. “You've won one match, but there are dozens if not hundreds more matches! And Ezri nearly died in this match!”

“Your quite right Max,” Ezri agreed, “and I don't intend to spend the rest of my life as a gladiator...”

There was surprise on everyone’s faces when she said that.

“If you are thinking about escape that is impossible,” said Max.

“Before I say anymore is this room bugged or being monitored in any way?”

“It's not,” said Max, with a shake of his head. “I've checked numerous times but there's nothing, so you can speak your mind.”

“That's good…” said Ezri, she paused as she thought about the things she was about to say next. “As I said previously we're not going to remain as Apocalypse gladiators indefinitely. I know we can't escape, but if we can't escape then we need to think of ways to sabotage Apocalypse.”

“On our own we couldn't do that much,” said Max, with a frown. “But… I could send a message to the Federation calling for help.”

Holo raised a questioning eyebrow at this plan. “That's if the Federation can do anything... Apocalypse as considerable firepower and ships at its disposal, it would take a whole fleet of Starfleet ships to capture this place.”

“2500 ships by my calculations,” said Max, showing off his intelligence. “I'm fortunate enough to be on friendly terms with Coplin, he gave me these quarters and some pretty decent clearance codes. I now know that there are about 1100 Jem'Hadar ships and 500 Apocalypse warships.”

Ezri was looking at the holovision set in the room, and she considered Max’s information very carefully. “How well does Coplin trust you?”

“Well enough,” said Max, a hint of bitterness in his voice. “We haven't made amends but it's more like a working partnership. No doubt he'll trust me a bit more now that I'm Team UFP's mission controller, because I'm contributing to his organisation. However we all have to watch out for Nemoltz, the station's chief of security. He rightly doesn't trust me and he's probably dying to find evidence that we're all trying to sabotage, disrupt or threaten Apocalypse's operations.”

“What about the collars?” asked Ezri, her hand messaging the thin metal collar around the base of her neck. She noticed that Max did not have one.

“They can't be tampered with,” said Max with a tone of finality. “If they are, then they'll explode automatically... Incidentally does Holo have a collar?”

“I don't,” said Holo, who looked weary. “But I have something equivalent which is a self-destruct sequence inbuilt into my programming. If triggered all my memories and programming are destroyed, there would be nothing left of me except for my holographic emitter.”

Ezri looked away from the holovision and addressed the whole group. “Right now we're all here together and we need a command structure. I'm in charge, so here are the following orders: Max send out that message, the sooner Starfleet comes to attack this place the better. As for the rest of you; I ask you to stay alive and be careful. We may have won one match but they're only going to get harder...”

“Even if you do send the message do you think it would be enough to convince Starfleet to attack?” Jake asked.

Max answered that question. “The best I can do is provide to Starfleet the number of ships Apocalypse has under its command, and some rudimentary schematics. Ultimately Starfleet would only attack if Apocalypse were to launch an all assault on the Federation, but that would not happen.”

“I know the chances of Starfleet support are small at best,” said Ezri. “But we have to try, and if Starfleet does not assist us then we take matters into our own hands! I would rather die trying to destroy Apocalypse then continue on this gladiatorial life!”

There was a long stunned pause after this, but Ezri felt satisfied that everyone knew what their objective was: to destroy Apocalypse or die trying.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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