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Old January 21 2012, 08:52 PM   #166
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 1

Day 11, 1100 hours

Inside the shiny, white and gleaming weapons testing lab, onboard the station, Coplin examined the rifle which he held in his hands.

The station’s chief of research and development, dressed in a dull grey uniform, was explaining to Coplin about the weapon. “-And the modulating thoron radiation cuts through organic flesh in milliseconds.”

Coplin nodded slightly in appreciation, before handing back to the researcher the rifle. “Making most armour plating obsolete. Impressive, order the weapons division to build ten thousand of these KM8 thoron rifles. This weapon is going to be a real money maker.”

At that moment Nemoltz entered the lab, and he made a beeline for Coplin.

“Leave us,” Coplin told the researcher.

Nemoltz passed by the researcher, as if he was not there. When the researcher had left, and the lab doors were closed, did Nemoltz finally speak. “Coplin I've received intelligence reports that a massive Starfleet and Klingon armada is positioned around Deep Space Four inside Federation space.”

There was a surprising lack of reaction on Coplin’s face to hear such calamitous news. “How many ships?”

“At least 2500, if they leave from Deep Space Four it will take at most four days to arrive.”

“Is the second Apocalypse station ready?”

“Yes,” said Nemoltz, though he did not appear too pleased with this. “But it will take about ten days to evacuate all personal and vital equipment from this station.”

Coplin though cut through Nemoltz’s subtle protest with a clear and cold voice. “If this armada arrives within five light years of the Pushui system then you will evacuate all personnel and civilians to the second station.”

Nemoltz looked at Coplin with something agape to disbelieve. “What about the equipment on this station, are we just going to leave it?”

“The second Apocalypse station is fully equipped and ready to use at any time, I see no reason why we need to retain this station's equipment.”

“Even with just transferring all the personnel and civilians it's still cutting it short on time.”

“I want the evacuation of this station to be a last minute decision,” said Coplin forcibly, he looked a little mad, with his wide staring eyes. “If we evacuate now our enemies armada may split in two, and go for both stations!”

“No my friend…” continued Coplin, with a shake of head, and he gazed confidently at Nemoltz. “They don't know about the second station and that's the way I want to keep it, until the very last moment.”

“As you wish...” said Nemoltz, who sounded slightly exasperated.

Coplin though seemed to take Nemoltz’s approval for granted. “What about the defence strategy is that fully implemented?”

“Affirmative, the defences can be activated at any time…”

Nemoltz hesitated, and looked slightly awkward, clearly he had bad news for Coplin. “There's also a fiscal problem... The Ferengi Alliance has withdrawn all of its funding. This could seriously dent Apocalypse's profits.”

“No surprise's there,” answered Coplin rather dryly. “One of my contacts on Ferenginar warned me about this. It doesn't matter as we don't need the Ferengi Alliance's latinum anymore. It'll be up to you Nemoltz to increase revenues as my time as head of this organisation is coming to a close.”

“Are you sure you want go through with this?” asked Nemoltz, there was a powerful sense of warning in his voice. “What you are doing is suicide!”

“Your concern is touching but unwarranted,” replied Coplin, and his face had become oddly expressionless. “The task the Tren assigned me to do is something I have to complete for personal reasons... If I survive then I intend to retire entirely from this life of crime and business.”

This did not satisfy Nemoltz, who continued to look rather dubiously at Coplin. “Are you sure the armada won't branch off in two and go for both stations?”

“Of course not!” exclaimed Coplin, and he looked very sure of himself. “The armada will go for this station because that is where they'll see the bulk of our ships deployed.”

“And once they take the bait, they would have fallen right into the trap…” finished Nemoltz.

“Precisely,” said Coplin, giving Nemoltz a wicked smile. “By the time they realised what has hit them it'll be too late. The whole armada will be destroyed!”


***


It was in the afternoon and Max worked away on his console, carefully travelling through the lines of code that represented the Apocalypse computer database. He had some skill when it came to hacking into databases, and most of what he had learnt was from hacking into computers with his customised tricorder. He knew how to navigate through a computer database without getting caught, and the Apocalypse one proved to be no different.

However covertly changing the code and the subroutines inside a computer was far more difficult. For the last hour or so, his specially designed code avatar had been scouting around the main systems interface. This was exceptionally well guarded, and the key systems like weapons, shields and controls to the fusion reactors had the tightest security of them all.

Max had already designed the virus which would, when placed inside the fusion reactor interface, rapidly spawn code to activate a fusion reactor overload. The problem was getting the virus inside, so he had to scout with his code avatar to find out what obstacles were ahead.

Deciding that he had stalled for long enough, Max decided to do a tentative approach into the fusion reactor interface. His code avatar passed the first firewall, and as expected he detected security protocols disguised as command codes, they were drifting around the final access portal which lead into the fusion reactor interface.

He had to admit that Nemoltz was good, very good at cyber-security, but even Nemoltz could not stop the most skilled and determined hacker. Max directed the avatar through an input feed towards the portal. Then for no particular reason his code avatar got stuck, literally stuck. Something had blocked it and to his horror he realised this input feed was a fake.

On his console screen, red lights flashed around the schematic of his code avatar. The security protocols were closing, there tendrils of code coming dangerously close to the code avatar. He ordered the code avatar to emit a code termination wave, and finally the code avatar managed to free itself of the input feed. Just briefly one of the tendrils from a security protocol snagged the code avatar.

Fortunately though Max managed to direct his code avatar out of harm's way and back into safe cyber-space. That had been close, and Max was relieved to see that the computer database's security systems had not been activated. Yes his code avatar had been detected but it had escaped. So surely it could not be traced back to his console...

Max felt worried though because he was not exactly sure how Nemoltz traced back hackers, and perhaps the moment when the code avatar became snagged could have been the moment when Nemoltz's security programs would find an intruder and follow the code all the way back to the source...

It was a possibility and Max grew more worried. If the code became traced back to the source, his console, then Nemoltz's security programs would automatically hack into Max's computer and examine all the files he stored, shared and created. For a moment Max considered deleting the virus, but that was to risky because all deleted files had to go through the Apocalypse computer database first.

No he would place additional encryptions around the files containing the virus, that should do the trick and keep Nemoltz off his back. Still the danger remained of being caught red-handed, however Max tried to push that unpleasant thought out of his mind. He was only panicking, but just to be safe he sent a self-destruct signal to his code avatar, destroying it in nanoseconds.

That should have done it, and Max convinced himself that his involvement in the computer database trespass had gone undetected...


***


Coplin looked up from his console when a padd was thrown onto his desk. He saw a very angry and almost apocalyptic looking Nemoltz standing there.

“I warned you about your twin brother,” Nemoltz hissed. “Now it looks like he intends to blow up this station...”

A horrible wave of worry crashed over Coplin, and his guts squirmed uncomfortably. Though he kept his emotions hidden, he still could not stop his hand shaking slightly as it reached over for the padd.

When he read the padd’s contents, his worst fears were confirmed. “This changes things...”

“Max has been using you,” said Nemoltz in seething tones, “and pretending to be working for you when really he was going to stick a very long dagger into your back. Give me permission to arrest him and I'll get a confession out of his treacherous mouth.”

Coplin though kept looking at the padd, the hand holding it shook with anger. “I gave him the benefit of the doubt when someone sent a transmission to the Federation. But he's crossed the line one to many times, no one gets in the way of Apocalypse. Not even my brother…”

He gave Nemoltz an angry and fierce stare. “Arrest him and team UFP, if Max doesn't cooperate then kill his friends. That'll get him to talk.”

“With pleasure...” said Nemoltz who sounded almost happy, sadistically so.

While Nemoltz walked away, Coplin continued to hold onto the padd. Finally when Nemoltz had left did Coplin let out his emotions. Standing up, he screamed briefly in rage while chucking the padd far across the room.

How had it come to this? How could he have been so foolish into thinking that Max could be trustworthy? He had forgotten his golden rule and that was trust to nobody except yourself. The drugs in his system seemed to make him even more angry, and Coplin realised how much he hated not only his family but his entire race. All of them did not see that power was the only true ideal, and the need to be supreme, to accomplish something meaningful and make ones name known seemed lost to his race.

Never in all these years had he felt so enraged, he did not care if the drugs were altering his personality because he never wanted to be like his brother. But he could not keep on living this life either, the drugs he was taken were slowly removing his sanity and his personality. If he had to end this life that he would rather do it in a blaze of glory and notoriety. All that mattered to Coplin was sealing his place in galactic history, and what better way to do that than to be the first person who destroyed Earth?


***


Max had dinner later than his team mates, part of this was because he had been checking over the Apocalypse database to make sure his illegal hacking had not been traced to him. He did not feel convinced he had avoided being caught red-handed. Though he had tried to explain to Ezri about his reservations, she seemed convinced that there was no real danger of being caught.

Still this did not reassure Max, after all Ezri had far less knowledge of computer systems than he did. Even Holo and Nog seemed to believe that Max was panicking about the close shave with the Apocalypse computer database. Now if Nemoltz and his security did not come poking around his quarters in the next week or so, then Max thought it would be safe to assume he had not been caught.

He was half way through his soup when the front door suddenly opened, and several station troopers dashed inside. Max froze and watched the scene unfold; the station troopers went through the living room and forcibly moved Max against the kitchen wall. One of the troopers picked up Nog, and manhandled him, dragging him to where Max was standing.

Some moments later, Ezri, Jake and Holo were forced over by the troopers to stand by the kitchen wall.

Max could not think straight, and he knew exactly why the station troopers were here.

“All of you are under arrest,” said the station trooper, the one who outranked his comrades. “Get your hands behind your heads now!”

With several guns being pointed at them, the team slowly placed their hands behind their heads.

“What are we being arrested for?” demanded Ezri, looking at the station trooper in an unfazed manner.

“Questions aren't allowed!” hissed the trooper. “You'll be placed in separate detainment cells, where you will face questioning. Licum get these five into hand-cuffs!”

Finally Max managed to quell his numbness and fear, and started to think about a way out of this situation. “You can't arrest me! I'm Coplin's brother and if he finds out that I've been arrested-”

“From what I'm told Coplin gave the order to have you and your team arrested, that's all I know.”

The trooper smiled in a nasty manner, as if gloating at Max’s misfortune. “Now be quiet and don't do anything stupid!”

“Search for weapons or gadgets,” he ordered to his men.

There was silence, punctuated by the occasional protest, as the troopers searched Max and his friends for hidden items. The station trooper pulled out a hidden phaser from Max’s trousers, and Ezri’s hidden knife, but they found nothing else.

Finally satisfied, the commanding station trooper signalled to his men to follow him to the station’s detention area.

As Max walked along he realised there was no way out of this situation. If Coplin really had ordered his arrest then there was nothing Max could do, and his last potential source of help was gone. He felt so bad as he had let his colleagues down. Because of his sloppiness they were now facing interrogation, possibly torture, and afterwards near-certain death.

Of all the ways for it to end, Max wished it was not this way. He did not mind dying trying to escape, or blowing up the station, but being arrested and executed had to be the worst option of all. Briefly he caught glimpses of some of his teammate’s eyes, and he thought he saw disappointment in them, but he could have been imagining it.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 21 2012, 08:52 PM   #167
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 2

When the device attached to Max's neck sent a powerful electric impulse through his spine and brain, he cringed in pain. For a moment he felt like his body was on fire, and a soft moan of pain escaped from his mouth. The pain felt twice as worst because he strapped to a chair, with his arms, legs and hands bounded, and he was completely at Nemoltz’s mercy.

Still Max would not relent, though he had been caught he could perhaps convince Nemoltz that only he was to blame.

“Don't lie to me human,” Nemoltz snarled, offensively close to Max’s face. “I can always tell when someone lies...”

“Someone has framed me,” stuttered Max, he could barely speak because of his burst lips and broken jaw. “It's so obvious even you should realise that!”

One of Nemoltz’s hands extended through the air and gripped Max’s throat tightly.

Max could not even breathe, let alone struggle, and he watched those cold murderous eyes drill right into the core of his being. If he had to die then so be it, he would never give Nemoltz the satisfaction of giving up.

“If you don't tell me the truth I'll kill all of your friends, starting with Ezri.”

“Your getting nothing from me!” gasped Max, his words barely distinguishable as Nemoltz’s grip further tightened.

“I've always wondered what a Trill symbiont looks like...” said Nemoltz, pretending to be curious before casting a threatening glare at Max. “If you don't cooperate I'll rip it out of her body by force, and if I know anything about a humanoid’s anatomy it'll be very bloody and very messy.”

“Alright!” pleaded Max, and he changed tack as he could not let his team members die. “I’ll tell you the truth!”

At once Nemoltz’s hand released itself from Max’s throat, though Max noticed it was still dangerously close to his neck. “So I was going to destroy this station, but Ezri and the others didn't realise what I was going to do-”

Nemoltz punched Max hard in the mouth, the punch was so hard that Max’s head convulsed backwards and his upper spine felt ready to snap under all the force.

“Liar!” shouted Nemoltz, his gaze was daggers on Max. “You told your friends what your were planning to do, so stop trying to protect them! Now what I can't understand is why you would blow up this station without some means of getting out it?”

Those Max was in considerable pain, and his face had been used as a punch bag, he still could see some humour left in the situation. He could not believe what a stupid question Nemoltz just asked. “Ha! There are no means of escape on this station!”

Max put as much contempt and derision into his voice as possible, he expected the crap to be beaten out of him, but what he did not expect was a slight expression of surprise on Nemoltz’s face.

“Of course...” breathed Nemoltz, with a shake of his head. “It's so typical of humans, nobility is bread into your genes. I underestimated you, I should have realised you would attempt something stupid like this.”

With one last contemptuous look at Max, Nemoltz signalled to the guards to take Max away. “Your ordeal isn’t over yet human! When Coplin gives his approval for me sentencing you and your team to death, I’m going to make sure your last few hours are a living hell!”

“Oh are you going to torture me?” said Max sarcastically, while two guards roughly undone the chains binding him to the chair.

“No, I’ll make you watch as I kill your friends one by one. I’ll save Ezri for last, though I think I won’t remove her nanites, she can die painfully and as slowly as possible.”

Max was on his feet, and though restrained by the guards, he still managed to lunge a few feet closer to Nemoltz. “You fucking bastard!” he screamed. “I’ll kill you, I swear to God I’ll kill you!”

“Take him away,” said Nemoltz seemingly oblivious to Max’s screaming and cursing.

As the guards dragged Max away, he continued to scream and curse inarticulately. He felt totally enraged, and he had lost all control. Though he shimmered down considerably once he was out of sight of Nemoltz and out of that interrogation room. Now fear and horror gripped him, as he thought about what would happen to his colleagues.

They were going to be killed horribly, and Max felt unbelievably guilty. Because of his sloppiness he had condemned his friends to a painful death, but his self-pity did not last long. He found a new person to blame and that was his brother Coplin.

Before being abducted Max did not like Coplin, then when he was abducted and found out what his brother did for a living, he felt both shocked and ashamed. Now after being arrested, Max positively despised Coplin, he hated his brother with all his heart. What he would not give to a one-on-one fight between himself and Coplin. He would rip Coplin to pieces for all of his crimes…

Max had reached a threshold of tolerance with his brother. But now he had been hurt too much by his brother, so much so that he felt his brother was beyond redemption or forgiveness…


***


Coplin sat by his desk, he was supposed to be reviewing the Apocalypse monthly accounts, but his mind was not on monthly accounts. All he could think about was his brother, and what Nemoltz must have been doing to Max. It had been over two hours since Nemoltz started the interrogation, and Coplin waited impatiently for Nemoltz to finish and tell him the results…

Either Max had far more endurance and steel than Coplin ever imagined or Nemoltz was going soft on Max, both options seemed unlikely.

When the office doors opened, Coplin glanced up and was glad to see Nemoltz.

“Well did Max confess?” he asked, when Nemoltz was standing resolutely by his desk.

“He did, should I have him and his friends executed?”

“Not yet, I'll decide that,” mused Coplin, only he wanted to be the person to completely determine Max’s fate. “However I have a better way of killing Max.”

“You do?” said Nemoltz disbelievingly, in a rare slip of his composure.

“I was intending to send Tesla X to fight his last battle on the portable arena, but I decided that honour should go to Team UFP.”

Nemoltz then looked at Coplin as if he were insane. “This is the match that can't be won right?”

“It doesn't matter if they win or not, they will still lose.”

“I like it...” said Nemoltz as a rather cruel expression formed on his face. “I must admit you are quite imaginative and vindictive when it comes to killing people you don't like.”

“I suppose I am,” said Coplin lightly, and in a perverse way he felt touched by Nemoltz’s compliment. “Now I need some privacy as I'm contacting that Tren general, Vestrap.”

“Are you certain that once you complete his task, he will ask no more of Apocalypse?”

Coplin sighed, he had explained this point to Nemoltz many times before. “The Tren want Earth destroyed, once it is destroyed they will ask nothing more of Apocalypse. Though if they do ask you for help, turn it down. I had no idea things would get so messy and complicated for Apocalypse...”

“I'll be sure to do it,” said Nemoltz with a slight bow to his head.

Nemoltz then walked away, and only when Nemoltz had left the office, did Coplin contact general Vestrap.

Coplin did not like the Tren, there was something about them he simply could not trust. They schemed like Romulans, were more arrogantly aggressive then Cardassians, and seemed far more treacherous than the Vorta. Combined together these three traits made Coplin very weary of talking to Vestrap.

He got the very strong impression that Vestrap was not only more powerful than he, but also had far more military assets that Coplin could only dream of. In some ways he was impressed by how much strength and power this old general possessed.

When he got a transmission through, he brushed aside all of those thoughts as he had to be absolutely on his toes with Vestrap. The general was as usual giving him a penetrating stare, and Coplin sought to repress his emotions and feelings. “General there's been a change of plan concerning operation Judgement Day. It's going to be carried out a week earlier.”

There was no visible reaction on Vestrap’s face upon hearing this, indeed he looked almost nonplussed. “How do you intend to deal with the Federation armada that is coming to your station?” he asked in that soft but commanding voice of his.

“I've rigged the star in this system with a dozen cloaked trilithium mines, the moment the entire armada arrives in this system, the mines will be remotely detonated from a safe distance, and voila no more Federation armada!”

“Very good,” said Vestrap, looking slightly satisfied. “As I’m sure you know if operation Judgement Day succeeds, the Sol System is destroyed and you manage to escape, the Tren will pay you a very substantial amount of gold-pressed latinum.”

“Don't worry I intend to stay alive...” replied Coplin though he wondered how sincere he was in that intention.

He brushed that aside and thought about the question he had repeatedly asked Vestrap, a question that Vestrap constantly evaded. Maybe now on the eve of the operation Vestrap would answer this one question that Coplin wanted answering. “May I ask why you want to destroy Earth?”

“That doesn't concern you,” said Vestrap sounding absolutely resolute. “But let me ask you a question. Why are you going to exterminate your race? The Federation will be after your head!”

Coplin smiled very coldly at Vestrap, he could play just as well this little secrecy game of Vestrap’s… “Well likewise that doesn't concern you either, I have my reasons suffice to say... Coplin out.”

He ended the transmission, glad to be rid of Vestrap. “What a bastard,” he muttered, “after all it is your idea to destroy Earth...”
__________________
Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 25 2012, 10:03 PM   #168
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7

Ezri took another glance at Max as they walked to Coplin's office, something had deeply changed in Max’s face. Indeed Ezri had never seen her former science officer look so stony faced, she sensed that Max was keeping a lot of hard feelings to himself. All of this was clearly about his twin brother, and to herself she wondered how this meeting with Coplin would play out. She expected nothing less than fireworks between the two…

Once inside the office, Ezri set her eyes upon Coplin. There he was, looking exactly like Max and he appeared just as angry, as he stood behind his desk.

Ezri came to a stop by the desk, at the non-verbal prompting of the station trooper behind her.

Coplin eyes were fastened upon Max, and a cold hatred burned in them. “You disappoint me brother,” he said rather lightly. “I gave you an opportunity to work in this organisation and instead you tried to sabotage this station.”

“I'll never work with you,” replied Max, his mouth twisted in disgust. “What you are doing is wrong, it's evil. You’re doing it only to get rich!”

“Damn right!” said Coplin, moving around his desk to better confront his twin brother. “Money is power, it took me ten years to build this place, and it has been worth every strip of latinum!”

“Latinum!” spat Max. “That's all you think about isn't it? You greedy-”

Ezri breathed out in an annoyed manner, she was getting sick of this bickering between two grown-up men. “Max would you stop arguing like a toddler and get a grip of yourself!”

“Dax is right brother,” said Coplin rather loftily, though he gazed maliciously at Max. “You do need to get a grip of yourself.”

“I swear to you Coplin I will make you pay for everything that you have done!” retorted Max.

Coplin merely shrugged off such venomous words from his brother. “An empty threat and you know it.”

“Oh you really like this don't you?” said Max, pretending to sound amused, while a forced smile came to his face. “You being the one in control, you being judge, jury and executioner!”

“Are you done?” said Coplin blandly.

“You disgust me,” snarled Max, “and from this moment on I have no brother! And if there is any shred of humanity left in you, that remark will be something you will deeply lament!”

Coplin started to laugh out aloud, and his bouts of laughter sounded horrible, and mirthless. “You think I actually care for you? Are you so deluded that I'm going to show you mercy?”

He advanced menacingly upon Max, all traces of amusement gone from his face. “You betrayed me, I did show you mercy and I rewarded you. But how did you repay me? With grudging acceptance, betrayal and hate!”

“It's no more than you deserve!” spat out Max, his entire face contorted with loathing. “You're a thief! A murderer! A-”

“Max calm down,” Ezri demanded, she knew that Max mouthing off would do nothing to make the situation any better.

“No I will not calm down,” said Max shrilly, his gaze still fixed upon Coplin. “Because I'm not through with you Coplin. We're having a discussion that we should have had years ago! In fact I wish you had died in our mother's womb when there were those complications during her pregnancy!”

This seemed to really shock Coplin, and his mouth fell open slightly. He was shaking with rage, before sending a furiously quick right hook of his fist straight to Max’s jaw.

Max staggered backwards, but betrayed no look of pain or surprise, he simply wiped the blood off his mouth.

The station trooper behind Max instantly took a step forwards, as if expecting Max to lunge at Coplin.

“You keep your filthy mouth to yourself brother!” hissed Coplin, he took some moments to calm down. “Anyway because you broke the rules your team are going to be sent to one last arena, one last battle. One which will be a certain death sentence. From this point on Max you will be stripped of your position as mission controller and will join your friends in detention, where you will await your final arena battle!”

Coplin nodded to the station troopers and they moved forwards, handcuffs being readied.

Max though lunged at Coplin, but the station trooper guarding Max, took out a small taser and zapped Max.

Max fell onto his knees hard, and did not seem able to move. “This isn't over Coplin!” he shouted, while the station trooper slapped on the hand cuffs and then dragged Max out of the room. “Whether through my volition or not you're going to come to a sticky end.”

“I am the master of my own fate!” said Coplin loudly, his eyes were wide with rage. “Not you! Me!”

Max continued to struggle against the station trooper, even when he was outside of Coplin's office.

“What has gotten into you?” asked Ezri, the moment the door to the office closed. “Honestly all that yelling and arguing with your brother!”

“You don't understand,” breathed Max, and he sounded a little incoherent with rage. “And you never will.”

“Understand what? That your brother shames you so much you can never be on speaking terms with him?”

“Something like that...” said Max, though now he had stopped struggling and seemed resigned to his fate.

“Listen,” said Ezri, “I don't care if you want to kill your brother, but right now I need you focused on our situation. Maybe if we find some way out of this mess, I'll let you do whatever you must, but we have to get through this alive!”

There was a moment’s pause as Max mulled this over. “Alright I'll focus on the match,” he said bitterly. “But I promise you if I can find a way to kill Coplin I will!”

This was about the best Ezri could hope for as right now talking with Max was like talking to a Nausicaan. Max could barely be reasoned with, though Ezri could understand why. All of Max’s anger came from being horribly betrayed and hurt by his brother, and placed in Max’s situation, Ezri reckoned she would be just as bitter and as angry…


***


Day 12, 1200 hours

“Dropping to impulse colonel,” said the helm officer, “we're a hundred kilometres from Deep Space Four.”

“On screen!” said Kira, her eyes eagerly awaiting the sight she would see on the bridge’s viewscreen.

The screen revealed Deep Space Four, the core of the station was like the exterior of an Earth Spacedock design. However at the centre, were six massive docking struts, and dozens of Klingon and Starfleet ships were docked. However the more impressive sight was the fleet of ships surrounding the station. Hundreds of Starfleet and Klingon ships were stationed around in a ring formation, while hundreds more were slowly orbiting Deep Space Four, making up a second and wider ring formation.

“Now that's a sight I haven't seen for years,” commented Bashir.

“Helm set a course to Deep Space Four, quarter impulse,” ordered Kira.

The Defiant came steadily closer to the outer band of patrolling ships, and Kira thought it was an impressive display of force. These were the times when Kira felt powerfully reminded of the strength of Starfleet.

“I'm receiving a message from Deep Space Four,” said Tanya from her station. “We're cleared for docking at docking ring four.”

“Guide her in ensign,” said Kira, “nice and steady.”

“Aye sir,” replied the ensign at the helm.

“No doubt admiral Ross wants to talk to you,” said Megan.

“Indeed...” replied Kira, and she knew that Ross probably had a few plans for the Defiant, as it was the most deadliest of all the ships gathered around Deep Space Four.


***


Kira stepped inside the station’s wardroom, to her right standing by a screen, which displayed fleet formations, were admiral Ross and chancellor Martok. They did not seem aware of Kira’s presence, as they were deep in conversation.

Walking down nearly the length of the room, and passing by the long table, Kira came to a stop some feet away from Ross and Martok. “Admiral, chancellor,” she said respectfully.

Ross turned his head slightly towards Kira, before walking a few paces towards her. “Ah colonel welcome… The chancellor and I have been discussing various deployment tactics and means of assaulting Apocalypse.”

Martok gave Kira a brief respectful nod, before a scowl came onto his face. It seemed he was considering Kira for some sort of task he had in mind. “I need someone who can command not only my fleet's shock divisions, but also the Federation fighters...”

“Our plan is to surround the Pushui system,” explained Ross, “while a substantial number of both fleet's fighters will scout the system. We need someone in command of these fighter squadrons, because myself and Martok will take command of the remainder of the armada. The Defiant is the perfect ship to lead the fighter squadrons and we need you to command them.”

“Couldn't you find someone else to do that?” asked Kira, who wondered why there was not another Starfleet admiral or vice-admiral who was part of the fleet.

Ross gave her that usual poker like stare, as always his face betrayed nothing. “You fought extensively in the Dominion war, and you discussed fleet tactics with Benjamin Sisko. So I think that makes you perfectly qualified for this task.”

This made some sense to Kira, but she personally felt she was the wrong candidate. “Sure I will do it, but it's been over nineteen years since I've seen combat on this scale. My fighting skills are a little rusty...”

“Bah!” exclaimed Martok, his moustache hairs quivering with indignation. “You Federation types have become to used to peace! Not only do we outnumber the enemy two to one, but we will have them surrounded. They'll have nowhere to run and victory will be ours for the taking!”

Having dealt with more than her fair share of Klingons, Kira stood her ground against Martok’s almost aggressive confidence. “We may be able to destroy the Jem'Hadar ships but these Apocalypse ships are an unknown quantity. I don't need to remind you both about the Breen and their energy dampening weaponry during the last stages of the Dominion war, and we know what happened there. It is possible that the Apocalypse ships have a weapon that could decimate our ships!”

Such points seemed to mollify Martok a little bit, and he no longer looked so confrontational.

“Those are legitimate concerns,” he admitted, before his Klingon bravado came back in full force. “But some weeks ago my forces had the fortune of capturing one of Apocalypse's ships! We've already stripped it down to reveal its secrets and found shield modulations to protect against this ship's multi-phasic torpedoes and phaser banks! No doubt Apocalypse knows this, and it will be trembling like a frightened coward upon realising we have a defence against their weapons!”

Ross nodded his agreement. “The chancellor was kind enough to provide the Federation with the schematics of the Apocalypse ship, and the information for modulating our ship's shields. Your ship will need its shield grid upgrading, but it should take less than a half day's work to complete. So the Defiant will be ready for tomorrow...”

“That's good,” said Kira a touch vehemently. “Is there anything else I need to know?”

Martok flashed his teeth, in a Klingon-like grin. “Only that when we capture the Pushui system and Apocalypse station, the three of us will celebrate our victory on that station and share out a barrel of blood wine!”

Inwardly Kira blanched at the prospect of all that blood wine, still she was smart enough not to object to Martok’s idea of celebrating after the battle had been won. If the battle could be won… “You sound confident of victory and though we may know how to defend ourselves against Apocalypse's ships, they may have other surprises waiting in store for us in the Pushui system.”

“The colonel is right,” chimed in Ross, who looked a little weary of Martok’s enthusiasm. “There is still a lot we don't know about Apocalypse and we should be cautious in our assault. That doesn't mean we're backing out, but a little caution could save countless lives and ships!”

An ugly frown lined Martok’s face, it seemed Ross had a valid point but one that tarnished a Klingons sense of honour and valour. “I'll admit it is not the Klingon way of doing things, you may avoid more fights than is necessary, but at least when do you go into a battle your hearts are like those of Klingon warriors.”

“I don't take pleasure in killing people,” said Kira a little coldly. “I'm only doing this to defend the Federation, to protect innocent lives!”

“Same here,” added Ross.

“Hmm maybe,” said Martok, looking momentarily thoughtful. “But even you savour victory over ones foes...”

Kira was not sure how to answer that one, and she watched Martok walk over to her, a Klingon style padd clutched in his hand.

“Here are the list of ships that will be under your command, and the battle strategy,” said Martok, passing to Kira the padd. “Qapla'!”

“Qapla',” responded Kira automatically.

At once Martok briskly left without another word.

When Martok had gone, Kira felt it was safe to speak her mind. “It's been a while since I dealt with a Klingon...”

“I wish I was so fortunate...” said Ross sadly, he frowned to himself, before gazing at Kira with tired eyes. “Martok's heart is in the right place, but like any Klingon he's headstrong...”

There was an awkward silence, and Ross then gave Kira a diplomatic smile. “I'll talk to you tomorrow about the armada's deployment, good day colonel.”

When Ross had left the room, Kira walked around the table and came to one of the windows. There she looked out into the depths of space, her mind thinking not about the Klingons but the forthcoming battle…

The last time she had seen a battle of this magnitude was during the Dominion war. Now faced with something similar Kira felt strangely unprepared for this one. Sure she had seen over a hundred lifetime’s worth of battles, but the last nineteen years had been rather peaceful, albeit for the last year where she had been in over four battles.

Perhaps she felt a little overwhelmed by the responsibility of commanding so many ships. Even so she knew that once in the thick of things her instincts and her experience always kicked in when needed. Death and injury had never discouraged her, and she realised she would only feel satisfied when the armada began the assault into the Pushui star system. Waiting around on this station was the problem, though perhaps if she could find the time, some meditation would alleviate her restless nature…
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old January 27 2012, 11:29 PM   #169
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 8, part 1

Bashir and Megan had taken a stroll together and were currently walking in the station’s shopping area. Megan spotted a rather quiet café and she convinced Bashir that they should go inside and have a cup of tea.

After purchasing drinks, the two sat down by a round table. Though Megan had much to talk about, for some reason she was reluctant to talk. What bothered her was this assault on Apocalypse, and though she approved of it something about it did not seem quite… right.

The two sipped their tea in silence, though occasionally, Bashir shot a glance at Megan. Finally Bashir simply started staring at Megan, not in an impolite way, but more in terms of expecting her to talk. “You look a little nervous...” he observed.

“Nervous?” said Megan, trying to pretend nothing was wrong, though she quickly thought better of lying to Bashir. Being genetically enhanced, Bashir could very easily determine her state of emotions so there was no point lying to him.

“Well I am a bit apprehensive,” she admitted. “I've had very little combat experience on starships, I’ve been in a couple of battles and the first battle I was involved in didn't last very long...”

“Are you talking about the Liberty?”

Megan nodded while staring into the contents of her mug, she decided that she was going to tell Bashir everything that happened during her last moments on board the Liberty. Perhaps by talking out aloud it could resolve some of her underlying nervousness about the Apocalypse assault. “The battle was over before it even started…”

Bashir seemed to freeze, possibly because he did not expect Megan to further elaborate upon his question.

Regardless of Bashir’s reaction, Megan continued on. “Cardassian ships launched a volley of torpedoes and a barrage of phaser fire. It only lasted five seconds but the Liberty was totally crippled. I must say I've never felt so scarred in my life, and then the Liberty was boarded.”

An understanding expression appeared on Bashir’s face and he looked deeply sorry for Megan’s plight. “You don't have to answer this,” he said slowly and carefully. “But I was wondering what happened when the Cardassians boarded your former ship?”

Here came the really painful part for Megan, so painful that unconsciously she was gripping the mug extremely tightly. “I was on the bridge the whole time, captain Haydra had given the order to evacuate. A minute later several Cardassians beamed onto the bridge, Bordak included. Haydra tried explaining to them the situation but it was no good... Bordak was looking for revenge after surviving the assassination attempt made on his life. He wasn't going to listen to Haydra, so the guards knocked her out...”

“And you were the only person on the bridge?” said Bashir quietly, though his voice did have a slight quiver to it.

“I was,” replied Megan, and still she continued to look at her mug as she grappled with the painful memories and fought to keep control of her emotions. “I nearly completely lost my head and panicked. But instead I tried to reason with Bordak to let the Liberty crew go and... and...”

She could not say it, but she knew Bashir would be too polite to prompt her, so she forced herself to say the words she was holding back from. “Take me instead,” she finished.

“You can't be serious!” exclaimed Bashir, afterwards he grimaced when he realised how loud he had said that. “Sorry!”

For one brief moment Megan thought of changing the topic, but after glaring at Bashir she was convinced that he would not make that same mistake again. “He thought I tried to assassinate him, he had already captured Jack and now he was about to capture me. I pleaded with him to spare the Liberty crew...”

She now forced herself to look into Bashir’s eyes, because here came the final bit, the thing that had tormented her for three years. “But he wouldn't listen!” she said in anguish. “He just wanted to punish me for a deed I never carried out!”

“You make it sound as if you could have something more to stop Bordak...”

“If I had known what Jack was going to do well-”

That was another topic and something which Megan was even more tightlipped about, so she deviated off from that particular matter. “Let's just say I still feel somewhat responsible for the Liberty's fate, and I've never been able to shake that feeling away.”

“Listen what happened to the Liberty isn't going to happen to the Defiant, I promise you.”

Bashir’s rousing words gave Megan a little comfort. “I hope not,” she replied miserably, “because every time I've been on a dangerous mission on board the Defiant, I have to confront the same fears...”

“Trust me Kira knows what she is doing,” said Bashir with absolute confidence. “She has had considerable combat experience during the Dominion war, and she knows what to expect...”

“I feel better already...” said Megan, though she inwardly winced at her somewhat sarcastic tone. “If we do capture Apocalypse station I hope do we find Dax and our missing colleagues... I mean do you think it is likely?”

She looked at Bashir beseechingly, she was certain that only he could answer that question. “After all you are the one with the genetically engineered brain who can ascertain the probability for such events...”

Bashir paused for a moment, and placed a hand to his cheek, clearly thinking about his answer. “Well giving what we know about Apocalypse, this armada and about Team UFP, I'm afraid the odds aren't good. I predict the chance of finding just one member of Team UFP alive is 9.274% give or take a thousandth.”

“Nine percent?” replied Megan sounding deeply shocked. “I shouldn't have asked you that!”

“It's quite simple really,” said Bashir, with the air of a teacher lecturing a pupil. “The biggest factor against Team UFP's survival is those collars. They will probably be activated because Apocalypse wouldn't want Starfleet getting its officers back. As for Holo I assume that Apocalypse must have designed some sort of self-destruct sequence into his programming as a substitute for the collar.”

Megan swore under her breath. “Those darn collars! I don't know how you sleep at night if you can assign such precise probabilities to future events.”

Bashir though looked a little misunderstood. “I don't try to predict the future, no one can... But I do try to extrapolate the likely chain of events that will take place... I could be wrong about the nine percent survival chance for Team UFP, but I think that is the most likely probability.”

“Well if they're going to die they didn't die in vain,” replied Megan a little sadly. “It was thanks to them that they told Starfleet how many ships Apocalypse had under its command. Without that message this assault may never have taken place...”


***


Kira, Ross and Martok were gathered around a 3D tactical display, it was hemispherical in shape, and at the centre resided the outline of the Pushui star system. While red icons for Klingon ships, and blue icons for Starfleet ships pointed in the direction of the system.

“-the attack strategy is very simple,” explained Martok, and with a few commands to the console, the 3D display animated. “We send our fleets and position them into a wide formation. Then we split them in two, and in a panzer movement approach the Pushui star system. The squadron of fighters under your command colonel will maintain course and scout what is ahead. Avoid combat where necessary, and when the bulk of the armada has arrived then proceed to carry out hit-and-run raids on the ships and Apocalypse targets you detected while scouting.”

“Sounds simple enough to me,” said Kira watching the projected fleet split in two and approach the star system.

“This assault should be simple,” said Ross, though he sounded cautious. “But we expect heavy resistance around the Apocalypse station and any other vital piece of Apocalypse infrastructure, for example shipyards and so forth. Casualty projections come to about twenty percent, though that could rise if the Apocalypse lines are more firmly entrenched then we expected, or if they have other weapons at their disposal.”

Kira looked at the display, for all the fancy fleet movements, all that could come unstuck if Apocalypse ships were positioned in a formation that Ross or Martok had not anticipated. “If we had more ships then we would more quickly overwhelm the Apocalypse defences. Surely admiral Starfleet can provide us with more ships?”

Ross looked at Kira indignantly, and he seemed a little wounded by Kira’s question. “Colonel be grateful that Starfleet Command has provided me with 1700 ships! I requested that 3000 ships be deployed along with the Klingon fleet, but Starfleet Command didn't want to remove too many ships from the defence of key Federation planets. And it was loathe to take ships away from the Cardassian border, the Badlands or in the Gamma Quadrant!”

“Alright,” relented Kira, “we'll make do with what we've got.”

“And it is all we need!” said Martok confidently. “With the two combined fleets, and this armada, we will crush Apocalypse with one resounding blow!”

Both Kira and Ross briefly glanced at each other, and she knew Ross was thinking the same thing; it was a little too soon to be calling victory. There were so many unknowns and risks to this assault.

“We should still be cautious,” warned Ross. “Apocalypse could have some hidden weapons or surprises for us.”

“And we will be initially cautious,” said Martok, though the words seemed somewhat forced. “But once we know exactly where the enemy’s positions are, their element of surprise will be gone, and they will be outnumbered and outgunned! Trust me on this one!”

Martok turned off the display, and the green light vanished. He had a confident look as if he had settled a difficult argument once and for all.

With the tactical briefing coming close to conclusion, Ross wrapped it up. “Well now we know the attack plan, there’s nothing more to discuss. I’d say we call it a day, agreed chancellor?”

“Agreed,” said Martok in gravelly tones.

“What about you colonel are you happy with the plan?” asked Ross.

“I am,” said Kira decisively. “I don’t see how we can improve upon it, all I can say is that we should be cautious while advancing into uncharted and dangerous territory.”

The meeting ended on a silent note, and while Ross and Martok left the wardroom, Kira remained. In all truth she thought this assault was hasty and rushed, and with not enough information known on Apocalypse’s tactical deployments, this Starfleet/Klingon armada could run into some nasty surprises…

Still these reservations were not going to stop her commanding the Defiant and heading to the Pushui system.


***


Day 13, 1000 hours

Kira entered the bridge, and no sooner did she arrive than Megan came over.

“All systems are ready colonel.”

“Good,” said Kira, and she took up the commander’s chair, her eyes resting on the view screen. “Lieutenant Blank release the docking clamps, helm set a course for the Pushui system!”

“Aye sir,” said the helm officer, “all I have to do is follow the ships...”

“I wonder if Apocalypse knows we're coming?” asked Megan, from her station at tactical.

“It should, but if it doesn't its about to have a rude awaking... If things go as planned and we capture Apocalypse station, we may find our missing colleagues.”

“Which is another incentive to give those Apocalypse ships a good beating!”

Kira inwardly agreed with Megan on that one…
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old January 27 2012, 11:33 PM   #170
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 8, part 2

Ezri and the rest of her team were being escorted by over a dozen guards. They were walking down a completely deserted Promenade, which Ezri had never seen before. Something was seriously wrong and she could sense a little apprehension and unease amongst the station troopers. Though they looked pretty dour most of the time, today they appeared in an even worse mood.

Something big was happening to Apocalypse, and Ezri wondered if Apocalypse was preparing itself for a massive attack on the Pushui system. Perhaps Starfleet would be soon launching an all out assault upon Apocalypse. However this was just fanciful speculation on Ezri's part and she had no idea what was going on.

When she entered a docking hatch, she looked out of the windows and saw a massive ship loom above her. Beyond the ship were dozens if not hundreds of Jem’Hadar ships floating in space, and they seemed to be already deployed. Another thing that caught Ezri’s attention was a massive structure being tractor beamed by the ship.

This structure was nearly half as big as the ship, and it somewhat resembled a Starfleet designed space station. Though it was far more streamlined and sleek, looking more diamond like in structure. The structure resided beneath the flagship, held in place by a large blue tractor beam. Like the Apocalypse ship, this structure was also clad with the same brown coloured armour plating.

“Isn't that the Apocalypse flagship?” asked Jake, looking at the huge ship with some wonder.

“Quiet!” said one of the station troopers, and he gave Jake a nasty jab in the back with his gun.

“What about our armour and weapons?” Nog inquired.

The station trooper looked deeply annoyed at being asked all these questions. “That is being taken along as well… Now be quiet!”

The silence resumed, and the group came through the docking hatch and out into a long corridor lit up by golden lights. Ezri was not really paying attention to the ship or where she was going, it seemed Apocalypse must have been preparing for a massive attack in the Pushui star system, and with all those ships around the station, Ezri felt certain of this.

What did seem odd were the lack of Apocalypse ships, albeit for the Apocalypse flagship, in this fleet. Ezri could not understand this because if Apocalypse was being attacked by Starfleet, and Starfleet was throwing everything it had against Apocalypse, then surely Apocalypse would ready every ship for the defence of the Pushui system?

Ezri continued to grapple with this question, and this preoccupied her so much she did not realise she was already inside a detainment cell. Suddenly she became aware of her surroundings, and then turned around when she saw a red force field spring up. Now she was back to square one, where three months ago she had been in the exact same situation; trapped and with no idea of what would happen to her.

“I'll telling you something big is happening,” said Jake, breaking the silence. “What with the deserted-”

“I know...” said Max angrily, his arm was outstretched and his hand rested upon a wall. “But where is Coplin taking us, that’s what I want to know!”

There was a moment’s pause, as everyone thought about the question. Holo seemed to be giving the question the most amount of thought, he had sat down and gazed almost dreamily at the floor. “Well I think he's carrying out some sort of massive raid on the Federation. Did you see in the docking hatch all of the deployed Jem'Hadar ships?”

Ezri turned her back to the force field, and joined in with the conversation. “Didn't any of you notice that huge structure which this ship is tractor beaming?”

“I spotted it,” said Max, though he appeared uninterested by the relevance of Ezri’s question. “Why do you ask?”

“I have a feeling that this last battle of ours will be taken place there.”

“But why all the Jem'Hadar ships?” inquired Jake.

“It could be that Starfleet is indeed attacking the Pushui system,” suggested Nog, “and this ship is part of the fleet to defend Apocalypse station!”

“Defend it?” said Jake loudly, he shook his head. “Personally I don't think they are defending the station, all the civilians have literally vanished!”

Ezri thought Jake was right on that observation, but surely if the Jem’Hadar attacked the Federation they would be detected before they came to close Federation territory? Unless-

“Max can the Jem'Hadar ships cloak?”

“Yes they can,” said Max rather seriously.

“Then Holo was right,” said Ezri with conviction, she started pacing back and forth as she thought about the implications of an Apocalypse attack on the Federation. “All of this doesn't make sense, but when you think about the Jem'Hadar fleet, the abandoned station, this ship and what its tractor beaming is carrying then I can come to only one conclusion. This fleet is going to carry out a massive hit and run attack right into the very heart of the Federation!”

“Do you mean Earth?” asked Nog, sounding deeply sceptical.

Ezri stopped her pacing. “It's more than likely!”

“But why?” said Holo, his gaze fixed upon Ezri. “It would be a suicidal assault! What will Apocalypse gain by attacking Earth or some other important Federation planet?”

“It definitely is suicidal,” agreed Ezri, “and I think Coplin knows it as well. The only reason why they're attacking must be to do some considerable damage to the Federation.”

“Are you talking about some sort of weapon?” asked Jake. “Like a super weapon or something?”

“It hast to be!” exclaimed Max, he looked so troubled that his gaze was not fixed upon anything. “It must be some sort of weapon so destructive it could blow up an entire planet!”

The mood in the room darkened considerably as everyone thought the same thing; was Apocalypse going to destroy Earth?

“What if that weapon is onboard that structure?” said Nog so quietly it was a little above a whisper.

“We're getting ahead of ourselves here,” warned Ezri, and she tried to bring some reason to this conversation. “Though we'll only know for certain what is going on when Coplin tells us.”

“And why would Coplin do that?” asked Holo disbelievingly.

Ezri turned around to address Holo. “Because firstly Coplin has some sort of twisted plan involving us, and secondly he's an egotistic megalomaniac! No offence Max...”

“None taken,” replied Max, “that just about sums up my brother precisely...”

“The point is Coplin is trying to punish us, and in particular Max. He is up to some sort of scheme so horrific, that I'm sure he will tell us just to try and shock us!”


***


“From this point on Nemoltz you control all of Apocalypse,” said Coplin, he paused when he realised this would probably be the last time he would ever talk to Nemoltz. “Take care of the new station… You have the detonators ready?”

Nemoltz nodded from behind his desk, in a office very similar to Coplin’s old one. “All the detonators are fully functional.”

Coplin nodded in a satisfied manner, he trusted Nemoltz absolutely not to slip up on arrangements. “It's been a pleasure working with you for the past ten years. Without you I wouldn't be standing here today.”

Just for a moment Coplin thought Nemoltz looked a little sad, but perhaps he was just seeing things.

“I wouldn't call it a pleasure working with you, but it has been productive, Nemoltz out.”

The comm screen on the bridge reverted back to the front view from the ship, while Coplin thought about all those years he spent working with Nemoltz. For Nemoltz to give him such a compliment, made him realise the connection the two had.

Coplin jerked out of his reverie and sat down on the commander’s chair, he had work to do and an operation to implement. “Is this ship's tractor beam fully locked on to the portable arena?” he said to one of the officers at the engineering station.

“It is sir.”

“Good...” said Coplin, allowing himself a small satisfied smile. “Helm set in a new course five-three-nine mark six-zero-five. Signal the fleet to cloak and follow this ship, we're taking a trip to Earth.”

He watched the viewscreen as the stars began to stretch, and some moments later the ship was at warp. Here he was commanding Apocalypse’s flagship and an entire fleet of Jem’Hadar, travelling while cloaked to the heart of the Federation. Almost subconsciously his right hand rested upon a little container attached to the waist of his trousers.

A Tren site-to-site transporter had been hidden away in this container, but he would only be using that when the operation was complete. Coplin did not care about his race anymore, in fact he did not care about anyone now. He had gone past caring what happened to others, just as long as he was safe and sound. The guilt he once experienced had now disappeared, and Coplin felt unusually clear headed as he could see both his destiny and his fate laid out before him. By being in charge of the operation he was in control of both...

To be continued...

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

Well that is the end of High Stakes. 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

Reunion


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 2 2012, 12:28 AM   #171
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Here is the next story: Running the Gauntlet

Summary: Season 2, 14th story. This is the fourth and final part of the Apocalypse story arc.

While the Klingon/Starfleet armada heads into the Pushui system, Coplin's fleet of Jem'Hadar ships make preparations for an all out surprise attack in the Sol system. Team UFP also learn of their fate, and their final match will determine not only their fate, but also the very fate of the entire Sol system...

Warning: Contains strong violence, a torture scene and occassional swearing.

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

Running the Gauntlet, chapter 1, part 1

Stardate: 71582.4 (August the 1st)

Day 1, 1400 hours

Kira shifted herself slightly on the commander’s chair to ease some of the stiffness in her back. For an hour now she had been on the bridge, waiting for trouble to come. Aside from discovering an abandoned Apocalypse sensor relay, that was the only thing of any interest in what had been a rather tense hour for her.

Where were the Apocalypse ships? She felt certain that Apocalypse would put up some sort of resistance with the armada now so close to the Pushui system.

“Any sign of Apocalypse or Jem’Hadar ships?” she asked, directing her question to Megan who was at the primary tactical station

“Nothing,” said Megan, shaking her head a little. “They could be cloaked but then I would detect faint tachyon emissions.”

“It doesn't make sense,” said Kira, though more to herself. “We should have encountered fighters or scout ships.”

“Maybe Apocalypse have concentrated all their ships in the Pushui star system to make a final stand,” suggested Bashir, who was sitting by the console in the aft portion of the bridge.

“There's a Starfleet message for you colonel,” said Megan, “but it's badly garbled, I think it's from admiral Nechayev, I'll try and patch it up.”

“On screen!” ordered Kira.

The viewscreen then displayed a comm channel which had so many lines and blotches of interference that Kira could barely recognise the person who was contacting her. Not only that the audio was just as terrible as the visual, and Kira only managed to hear one barely coherent word.

“Admiral there's bad interference...” she said, “we’re trying to clear it up, can you hear me?”

More static and hissing, and this interference was starting to become very frustrating for Kira. “Commander can you clean up the message?”

“I can’t,” said Megan, who grimaced a little in frustration. “I’m not sure where this interference is coming from.”

“Chief is the communications array functioning properly?” said Kira.

Blank’s hands moved at an intense speed, as he worked his console. “The long-range communication systems are down, I don’t detect any visible damage to the actual communications array so it hast to be a problem with the ship’s computer.”

“Then get down to main engineering and find out the cause of this problem!” said Kira somewhat testily.

The transmission ended, and Kira realised that admiral Nechayev, or whoever it was, appeared to have given up trying to contact the Defiant. “Ms Felpes did you record that message?”

“Affirmative,” replied Megan.

“Good. Go down to main engineering and you can work with Mr Blank on cleaning up the admiral's message, you’ve got an hour to do so because I want to review the message at 1500 hours.”

Megan turned around in her chair and didn’t look to happy to hear this. “Are you sure that’s wise colonel? Apocalypse ships could decloak and attack at any time!”

“At the first sign of trouble I’ll call you back onto the bridge,” said Kira.

This satisfied Megan who then promptly left her station and walked out of Ops.

Kira returned to staring at the viewscreen and resumed her brooding about what Apocalypse was doing.


***


Kira, along with Megan and Bashir gathered around a monitor on the wall, in the Mess Hall, while Blank inputted the message he had recorded on his padd.

“I've cleaned up the audio part of the message as much as I can,” said Blank, “this is the best we'll get.”

Blank pressed one command on the monitor’s touch screen, and the message played.

To Kira’s immense disappointment there was still a considerable amount of interference and nearly all of admiral Nechayev's words were indistinguishable. Sometimes there were a few snippets that sounded coherent, and a few more which were almost devoid of interference. Kira caught a few words, but that was about the best she could do.

The message ended, and Blank stood by the monitor, expecting Kira or another person in the room to ask for the message to be played again.

“There were about a dozen or so words I could distinguish,” said Megan. “The four most interesting were: ‘intelligence, ‘payroll’, ‘apocalypse’ and ‘defect’.”

“Can the message be improved any further Mr Blank?” asked Kira.

“I've afraid not sir,” replied Blank.

“I understand, dismissed lieutenant.”

The moment that Blank had left the Mess Hall, and the door closed, Megan instantly said, “I think the snippet 'intelligence' could mean Starfleet Intelligence, perhaps Starfleet Intelligence is warning us about attacking Apocalypse?”

“It could be,” said Kira, half agreeing with Megan. “But what does Starfleet Intelligence know that we don't know?”

There was some silence as Bashir and Megan thought about this, finally Bashir piped up. “I think Section 31 has covertly warned SI about the assault on the Pushui system. For one thing how would SI know about the Apocalypse agent that was once under Section 31's payroll?”

“That's a big assumption to make,” replied Kira, “but unless Section 31 knows something we don't, which for once is likely, than why would they warn us about Apocalypse?”

While Bashir looked a little stumped, Megan’s gaze suddenly sharpened, and she said, “Kira I think there could be another meaning to the warning and that must be something related to Section 31's rogue agent. For we all know he could be on this ship, or in another Starfleet ship!”

“Felpes is right,” agreed Bashir, while nodding. “The words 'pay-roll' and 'apocalypse' must refer to the agent.”

To herself Kira thought all of this was a little implausible, and she sought to change the topic. “On a different note has the source of that interference been tracked down yet?”

“Not yet,” said Megan, “our chief of operations is still conducting an investigation, though he told me an hour ago that he believes he has come close to finding the source.”

“Good,” said Kira, glad to have heard something tangible and meaningful. “Once we have found the source, then we can determine if it was sabotage, and if this is so, then it provides some evidence to your rouge agent theory doctor. Dismissed!”


***


Entering main engineering, from the transporter room, Kira came down the tight companionway and was facing the Defiant’s warp core. Looking around she saw Blank in the bottom-right corner of the room, who was flat on his back examining the interior of a console he was working from.

Walking around the warp core, as she got closer Kira noticed numerous tools strewn around the console Blank was working from, and the panel below the console had been removed.

“You found the reason for the interference?” she said, when she stood right next to Blank.

“I have,” said Blank, and he straightened up, while a fist-sized device was clutched in his hand. “I found this quantum encoder buried in the communications array. Not only did it cripple our long range-communications, the code spread to all the other ships in the fleet via inter-fleet communications. There's no doubt about it, this was sabotage...”

Blank offered the quantum encoder to Kira who took out of his hand. “As I suspected...” she said, while examining the device. “Keep checking the computer systems to make sure there is no more of this spawning code...”

“There's one more thing sir,” added Blank, and he looked a little thoughtful. “Though this device activated about five hours ago, it must have been planted some time after the Defiant set off from Deep Space Four.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Kira, giving Blank a small inquisitive stare.

“Because of the shield upgrades done to the Defiant. It was a substantial overhaul and every system was checked as a final all-round maintenance. If the quantum encoder had been placed before that happened, then the engineering crews would have spotted it.”

“Can you determine when the quantum encoder was placed?”

Blank nodded once. “I can check this system's logs to find out when the maintenance hatch was opened. This hatch doesn’t appear to have been opened, and unfortunately the logs could have been tampered with.”

“I'm certain you'll find out the time period whence the quantum encoder was placed... Good job.”

Kira walked out of engineering, this time from the exit at the ground floor. The quantum encoder was clutched in her right hand, and she gripped it very tightly. So tightly her knuckles had turned white. Sabotage, and what was worse a member of the Defiant’s crew had sabotaged the communications array.

She felt both angry and worried, angry as she wondered what sort of Starfleet officer would sabotage the vessel he/she worked on. But also worried as she thought about what other devices this officer had planted on other key ship systems. Of course some weeks ago Bashir had made a prediction that the rogue Section 31 agent would come on board this ship when it headed towards the Pushui system.

Was this saboteur and this rogue agent the same person? Kira was not sure, and right now she did not feel sure about anything. She needed answers, which explained why she headed to Sickbay to talk to Bashir about the discovery of the quantum encoder.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 2 2012, 12:28 AM   #172
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 1, part 2

Bashir was running scans on a medical console, next to one of the Sickbay’s biobeds, when he heard the door to Sickbay open. Turning around he saw Kira march inside.

“Guess what our chief of operations found,” said Kira, who showed to Bashir the quantum encoder.

“Another quantum encoder,” replied Bashir, and he stared at the device for a few moments.

“It can mean only one thing,” said Kira, “the same person who sabotaged DS9 has sabotaged the Defiant's communications array.”

Upon hearing this Bashir’s brain went into overdrive, as he started connecting together facts and deductions. “As I correctly suspected our rouge agent has boarded the Defiant.”

Kira looked at Bashir with sombre eyes, as they both knew what this meant. “And our agent hast to be a member of this crew,” she added.

“All together there are 52 personnel on board,” said Bashir, and in his mind the faces of each one of them flashed by. “It could be any one of them.”

“Well it can't be me or you...” said Kira dryly.

“Could it be Mr Blank, the chief of operations?” he suggested. “In each occasion he found the quantum encoders.”

“I'm not ruling out anybody,” said Kira cautiously, she seemed weary of guessing who the suspect was. “Though I'm afraid we have no choice but to question every member of this crew, barring myself and you of course.”

“I can do that,” offered Bashir, eager to question the crew in case he did find a Section 31 agent.

“No,” said Kira firmly, “I want Felpes to conduct the questioning of the crew.” She paused and cast a stern stare upon Bashir. “By the way during the questioning, under no instance should you mention Section 31, unless you're absolutely certain that you have found a suspect.”

“I promise I will not let slip any mention of Section 31,” said Bashir, trying to sound a little jovial to lighten the mood.

“See that you don't!” warned Kira.

“There’s no need to jump down my throat,” he protested, and he stared at Kira with some concern. “You know ever since we set off from Deep Space Four you seem to have become progressively more tense and stressed.”

“How can I not be tense and stressed?” Kira replied angrily, and she moved forwards a few paces as if trying to walk off her anger, she then whipped around giving Bashir a rather incensed stare. “A member of this crew is the saboteur and for we all know this person could have planted other devices on this ship. The last thing I need is for the Defiant to be internally crippled in the midst of the incoming battle!”

“I assure you, Felpes and I will find that saboteur before we arrive in the Pushui system.”

“You better, and if you can't then may the Prophets help us!”

Bashir watched as Kira strode out of the Sickbay, and behind her back, he breathed out a little in relief. It had not been pleasant being on the receiving end of Kira’s anger, but he could understand why she had to take her feelings out on him. Having never been in command of a starship, he could not begin to imagine the sort of stresses and strains Kira was being placed under.


***


Forty questioning sessions later in the Mess Hall, and Bashir and Megan still had not come closer to finding the saboteur. At first they checked the quarters where the security guards lived, looking for any incriminating evidence, but they found none. So then they proceeded to question the guards, but that produced no results.

Once the guards had finished being questioned, Megan had ordered them to search each crewmen’s quarters, and while that was taking place, the rest of the Defiant crew were not allowed to enter their quarters until the search had been completed.

While the search was continuing, Bashir and Megan continued to question the remainder of the crew. But after the fortieth crew member had been questioned, Bashir was starting to lose confidence in finding the saboteur. “We've interrogated forty crew members, and still no agent,” he told Megan, and he could not help let the disappointment creep up in his voice.

“Patience doctor,” said Megan, “for we all know our agent is one member of the remaining group of crew members yet to be questioned. Who's next?”

Bashir checked the padd he was holding which contained the list of crew members to be questioned. “Ensign Joraz Bolt.”

While he and Megan waited, a few moments later a security guard entered the Mess Hall, and she was carrying a small grey coloured sealed container. “We found this device in Mr Bolt's room commander.”

The guard placed the container down on one of the tables, and carefully opened it up.

“Thank you,” said Megan, and both she and Bashir walked over to look at what was inside. “I think we've found our suspect,” she whispered out of earshot of the guard. “But let's pretend this quantum encoder is the one we found from the communication array.”

Bashir gave a tiny nod in agreement as he caught on to Megan's plan.

Megan closed the container, and turned around to address the guard. “You can send Mr Bolt in.”

The guard nodded, walked back to where she came from, and opened the door. Three more people came in, two security guards and ensign Bolt.

Upon seeing Bashir and Megan, Bolt looked a bit more nervous.

“Sit down ensign,” said Megan, while she took a padd off the table. “There's a few questions I'd like to ask you…” Momentarily Megan checked the padd. “You were assigned to DS9 on Stardate 71406.7 correct?”

“Yes sir,” replied Bolt, who shifted a little on the seat.

“You've remained in this posting for three months?”

“Yes,” replied Bolt, nodding a little. “Three months and 3 days.”

“Where were you three days ago in the time interval 1300 to 1400 hours?”

“In the engine room, I had just finished my lunch at 1300 hours and walked from the Mess Hall straight back to the engine room.”

“Are you certain about that?” asked Bashir, while he gave Bolt a penetrating stare.

“Absolutely,” said Bolt vehemently, “you can check the computer logs where I went to in that time period… But I suppose you already have.”

“I just have to take your word for it,” said Bashir, careful to sound slightly distrustful.

Bolt still looked nervous, and while Megan was checking her padd, he said, “Erm commander, doctor, if you don't mind me asking, just what is all of this about? In the last eight hours the crew haven't been allowed in their quarters, so what is going on here?”

Megan glanced up, pretending to look a little surprised by the question. “Well you see during the interval I mentioned was the time in which the device was planted.”

She reached over for the container, and opened it, showing to Bolt the quantum encoder.

“What is it?” asked Bolt, who did not look surprised at all to see it, indeed he sounded quite curious.

Bashir glanced at Megan, here comes the deception…

“This is the quantum encoder we found from the communications array,” explained Megan. “It was this device that caused the communication problem we were having.”

Bolt's interest in the device then quickly disappeared. “All of this is very fascinating but what has this got to do with me?”

“The security guards found this device in your quarters Mr Bolt, would you care to explain why that would be?”

For a brief moment, a tiny amount of surprise flickered into Bolt’s expression, but that was soon replaced with scepticism. “Wait a moment, didn't you say this device was found in the communications array?”

“That was the first quantum encoder,” explained Bashir, “just recently the security guards found a second one in your room.”

“I don't believe you...” said Bolt in a hushed voice. “This is a trick of some kind!”

“It's no trick,” replied Megan, “this device was found in your room and I want to know why.”

Bolt was starting to look cornered and very strained. “I've never even heard of a 'quantum encoder' before!” he protested. “So how could it be in my possession? Someone's planted it there!”

“A simple DNA and finger print test will determine that Mr Bolt,” said Bashir.

A silence sprung up as it seemed Bolt had no rejoinder for Bashir’s statement. The questioning session seemed to be over, when Megan walked over to the Mess Hall door and opened it. “Take him to the brig,” she told a security guard, “and search his quarters.”

Only when Bolt had been removed from the room, did Megan speak up. “Well I think we've found our saboteur...” She paused, and looked at Bashir as if to watch his reaction. “I thought you would be happy.”

“I should be but I'm not,” said Bashir glumly. “Something isn't right here, Rooter never fully explained to us why we had to find this agent.”

“Well Rooter is the head of Section 31, he's not going to show us all of his cards is he?”

“It might not have been Rooter,” said Bashir, as a growing sense of misdirection built up inside his head. “We didn't have tricorders on us and DS9's security systems did not detect him. How do we know he wasn't some sort of interactive hologram?”

Megan seemed to have been struck dumb by this. “What if the Section 31 mole sent a projection of Rooter?” she asked.

“Of course!” exclaimed Bashir, Megan’s question was the final piece to this puzzle. “Why would Section 31 want us to find their mole? This mole he's very clever; because he has manipulated us into telling Starfleet that Apocalypse should be attacked. But why?”

Before Megan had time to respond, Kira’s voice blared from the ship's comm system. “Red alert, all personal to battle stations.”

“I've got to go!” exclaimed Megan, and she looked both harried and nervous. “When it's all over we will question Bolt some more. If you find the time examine the quantum encoder for any finger prints, DNA...”

“Will do...” replied Bashir. “And Felpes?”

“Yes?”

“Give those Apocalypse ships hell!”
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Old February 6 2012, 10:25 PM   #173
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 1

Kira had her eyes trained on the view screen as the Defiant, two hundred Klingon birds of prey and nearly three hundred Starfleet attack fighters came to the Pushui system’s first Oort cloud. Kira was not sure what would lie in and beyond the field of asteroids and space rocks. “Ms Felpes do the sensors detect any ships or unidentified power signatures?”

“Nothing,” replied Megan.

Though Kira had expected this, it still felt disconcerting. Just where were the Apocalypse ships? “Mr Blank send a message to all Klingon and Starfleet ships to follow the Defiant.”

“Message sent sir,” said Blank.

“We’re entering the Oort cloud now,” reported the officer at the helm.

“Are weapons and shields fully functional?” Kira asked Megan.

“They are,” said Megan.

Kira sat back in her chair and continued to watch the viewscreen with attentive eyes. The Defiant passed by asteroids and other rocks, as the helm officer skillfully guided the ship through such treacherous features.

Suddenly the Defiant shook, and it came as a little shock to Kira. “What just happened?” she demanded.

“We’re being fired upon,” said Megan, “let me sort out these sensor readings first… Yes we’re being attacked by what seems to be defence pods, and I'm detecting over fifty of these pods around the Defiant and the Starfleet and Klingon ships.”

Kira tapped a command on her control panel to contact all the ships under her control. “This is colonel Kira to all ships, engage the defence pods, and once they are destroyed rendezvous at these coordinates.”

She punched in the relevant coordinates, and then ended the message. On the left control panel she saw the tactical display, and there were fifty small red dots located around a schematic of a portion of the asteroid field surrounding the Defiant. “Ms Felpes target the defence pod at coordinates two one six mark seven one two mark three four one!”

She gazed at the viewscreen and watched as the Defiant’s phasers repeatedly hit the defence pod’s shields, before the shields disappeared, and one phaser strike later the pod was destroyed.

This continued on for three minutes as the Defiant, the Klingon and Starfleet ships weaved their way around the rocky obstacles to avoid the pod's fire, while then striking from up close and destroying more pods.

Finally when the last pod was destroyed did Kira order the helm officer to take the Defiant to the rendezvous point. “Ms Felpes how many ships were lost?”

“Fifteen Klingon birds of prey and ten Starfleet fighters were destroyed, while 25 more were moderately to severely damaged. They’re falling back to the armada.”

That was within Kira’s expectations, and though she had lost ten percent of the ships under her command, she still had enough to carry out the scouting operation. “Helm set a course for the second Oort cloud.”

She then sent another communication to all the ships under her command telling them to again follow the Defiant. As the Defiant approached the second Oort cloud, Kira expected a similar, if not greater amount of resistance, but instead the Defiant, and all the ships following it, past through the cloud without incident.

“Ms Dawson, are there any ship movements inside the area surrounded by the second Oort cloud?”

“There is,” replied Dawson. “I’m detecting hundreds of energy signatures gathered close to the fourth orbiting planet, and also some sort of massive structure located 50000 kilometres away from the planet.”

So that was where Apocalypse had been lurking thought Kira. Still she had to get a little closer to determine exactly what Apocalypse’s defences were. “Helm set a course to this fourth planet,” she ordered.

Some minutes later and the Defiant arrived at the planet, which looked M-class, with blue seas and green continents.

“Colonel,” exclaimed Megan urgently, “I’m detecting hundreds of Jem’Hadar and Apocalypse ships gathered around some sort of space station!”

“On screen,” said Kira.

Against the backdrop of the M-class planet, was a truly massive space station, and in a long wide horizontal plane were hundreds of enemy ships, and hundreds more defence pods. All of them were pointing in the direction of the Defiant. It was an impressive display of force, one that made Kira wonder if the armada could breach through such defences.

“We’re getting messages from the Starfleet and Klingon ships,” reported Blank. “They’re asking what their orders-”

The Defiant suddenly lurched, and looking at the viewscreen Kira realised that the defence pods were taking pot shots at the Defiant and the ships next to it. There was only thing she could do against such overwhelming force. “Mr Blank, tell all ships to reverse course and head back to the armada!” she ordered.

The view of the enemy ships, and the planet, disappeared as the Defiant turned around, in a clockwise direction, and once more faced the stars and the blackness of space. As the Defiant moved away from the planet at impulse, Kira was glad that the scouting operation had proceeded without too many problems. But it seemed to her that the operation had been completed a little to easily.

Maybe it was because Apocalypse had grouped nearly all of its firepower, ships and armaments to defending the station. But that was an unusual tactic, because if it had been her she would have spread out Apocalypse’s defences and used the Oort clouds as ambush points. It would have been far more effective use of ships and defence pods.

Still Kira was not complaining, and she realised that Apocalypse never had experience of a full scale interplanetary assault. Unlike Starfleet and the Klingons, so perhaps Apocalypse was very shaky on tactical deployments in outer space? Kira hoped this to be the case, and if so, then it would be another advantage to the armada.


***


“All of this waiting around is driving me crazy!” exclaimed Max.

“Calm down,” said Ezri, for what seemed like the hundredth time. “All we can do is wait, and if we have to wait then we may as well try to be as calm and as composed as possible.”

“You sound like a Vulcan!” said Max, who looked a little annoyed at being lectured by Ezri.

“And sometimes it helps to emulate what the Vulcans do and not let ones emotions control you,” she replied, keeping her voice as calm as possible so as to avoid an argument with Max.

She got the desired result, when Max sat down and finally ceased his pacing around.

“It's not that bad,” said Holo, who was sitting right next to Max, “at least they're still feeding us.”

“With something that looks like animal dung!” added Jake.

The whole group laughed and even Max joined in a little halfheartedly. Even now in such a dire situation, sometimes they could all find something to laugh about. Though the laughter soon died down when station troopers arrived outside the cell.

One of the station troopers deactivated the force field, and addressed the team. “Ezri and Max, you are coming with us.”

“See you in a while,” said Ezri to the rest of the team.

Ezri knew what this would be, this would have to be some sort of meeting with Coplin. Though she did not think of it like a meeting and more like Coplin giving out a death sentence on her team. One look at Max told her to expect more angry arguing and trading of insults between Max and his brother. All Ezri knew for certain was that after this meeting she would not like the outcome one little bit…


***


A station trooper jabbed his gun hard into Max’s back, and Max stumbled forwards through the doorway. He regained his balanced, and looked around briefly; this room appeared be some sort of wardroom. The centre of the room was slightly lowered, and a large table resided there, horizontally facing Max. At the end of the room was a massive master display of the Apocalypse flagship, and some consoles placed in front of it. A semi-circular series of steps lead up to that area

Coplin was standing by the consoles looking down upon the scene in front of him.

Max moved forwards, and he noticed at the room’s upper level, Jem’Hadar lining the galleried mezzanine. He thought it was typical of his brother to show such an overwhelming display of force and superiority.

The station troopers bade Ezri and Max to stop by the stairs, and Max looked up, glaring at his brother.

“I suppose you want to know what your final arena battle is?” asked Coplin, while he descended down the stairs. Coplin let the question remain unanswered until he reached the end of the stairs. “Well you'll be fighting on a portable arena right next to Earth's sun, and all you have to do is to get to the arena's centre, cutting through a whole army of Jem'Hadar and station troopers, and finally disable the arena's fusion generators. If you win your team will be free to go. But if you lose the trilithium bombs rigged to the arena will go off, destroying the sun, Earth and the entire solar system.”

For some seconds there was stunned silence both on Max’s and Ezri’s part. The terrible and monstrous nature of what Coplin was planning overwhelmed Max. He glanced at Ezri, and realised he was not the only one who felt totally shocked. The Jem’Hadar and station troopers displayed no reaction, indeed it seemed Coplin’s plan had no significance to them.

Ezri’s mouth had become agape, and she looked completely aghast. “Your insane,” she exclaimed breathlessly. “You think the Federation will let you get away with this?”

Coplin smiled wickedly, and took some paces towards the lower level windows which lined one side of the wardroom. His back was turned to both Ezri and Max, and Coplin’s hands rested behind his back, he seemed to be enjoying every second of this.

“There isn't a thing you can do, the Starfleet armada heading to Apocalypse Station will find it empty, moments later trilithium mines will be detonated destroying the Pushui system and the armada.”

“Why Coplin?” said Max quietly, his voice carrying in the big room. “Why are you doing this?”

Coplin turned his head to the right, and Max saw a little of the expression on Coplin’s face, he expected to see triumph yet there was only blankness.

“Let's just say that you Max, and Ezri, will be influencing events that will have far reaching consequences for the Alpha Quadrant and beyond.”

Max shook himself free of the station trooper’s tight grip on him, so that he could better face Coplin. “This is all about personal glory and pride isn't it?” he hissed. “You were always jealous of the pride our parents had of me when I joined Starfleet.”

This generated a considerable reaction from Coplin, who turned around, looking furious. “My parents never cared for me, they preferred you and not me, they never let me live my life!”

“That's a lie and you know it!” retorted Max, after all these years Coplin still misunderstood their parents intentions. “They loved us both equally! Just because they thought it was a bad decision on your part trying to become a artist, you thought they did not care?”

The anger displayed by Coplin became so strong, it seemed to deform his face. “They never gave me the time to prove myself!”

“You had a tantrum,” said Max viciously, “you got so mad that you went off the rails.”

“And what if I did? Imagine my surprise when I found out that organised crime and this organisation was my calling in life.”

“All of this because of some childhood grudge against our parents!” screamed Max, he could not believe how low his brother had stooped just to prove some twisted point about doing what he wanted to do.

There was some silence after Max’s remark, and Coplin simply remained motionless fuming away. A tic raged in his neck, and it appeared that Coplin was doing some furious thinking about what to do with his brother.

“Guards! Send Max to the torture chambers, give him a thorough beating and punishment. Return Ezri to the detention cells.”

At once two station troopers grabbed Max by the shoulders. He struggled against them, as he fought to retain eye contact with his brother. “This isn't over Coplin!” he shouted. “I'll make you pay for all of this!” he added as the station troopers dragged him through the doorway.

His last few words echoed off the doorway when it closed, and Max continued to struggle as the station troopers lead him down the corridor. Despite his struggles, Max managed to get a glimpse of Ezri who was being taken in the opposite direction to him, and back to the detention cells.

Max’s anger had reached such a fever pitch that he did not even feel afraid of being tortured. More than anything in the world he wished he could kill his brother with his own bare hands.


***


Coplin watched from the bridge’s viewscreen, as his ship pointed directly at McKinley Station. The station had been renovated, and better yet the Enterprise E was in dry dock. It seemed almost comical to Coplin that the Enterprise, the pride of Starfleet, and that station did not have a clue of the danger they were in.

He had to admire the Apocalypse cloak as it was near perfect, and it had done an amazing job keeping the entire fleet undetected while it entered into the heart of Federation territory. Now 1100 Jem’Hadar ships where positioned in key areas: Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, above Earth and tracking patrolling vessels. The argument Coplin had with Max less than an hour ago was now in the back of his mind.

Coplin decided he had enough looking at McKinley Station and the Enterprise, it was time to blow bot of them into smithereens. On the left control panel of his chair, he tapped in a few commands to contact the various Jem’Hadar firsts who were commanding, respectively, one division comprised of a hundred ships.

“Commanders of the first, second, and third divisions are you in position?”

“Affirmative.”

“Commanders of the fourth and fifth divisions are you in position?”

“Yes commander.”

“Sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth divisions are you ready?”

“We are.”

“Finally commanders of divisions ten and eleven, are you also ready?”

“Yes.”

“Then commence the attack plans and don’t stop until every Starfleet vessel has been destroyed! Engage!”

“Fire on the station!” he ordered to the officer at the primary tactical station.

Looking at the viewscreen, Coplin saw dozens of torpedoes strike the Enterprise and McKinley Station. Explosions ripped through both targets, and after a few seconds the Enterprise lit up in a bright white light as its antimatter containment was breached.

“Cease firing,” he ordered when the explosions had faded, revealing the twisted remains of the station, the half-destroyed saucer part of the Enterprise E, and a lot of burnt metal floating in space. “Helm take us to these coordinates.”

The ship moved past the station, and Coplin let himself smirk a little in triumph. In less than ten seconds he had managed to not only destroy the Enterprise E, but also kill its distinguished captain William T Riker. Either Riker had been on the Enterprise or the station, Coplin was not sure which, but he did know that Riker was just other person, out of thousands, who had been killed in the blink of an eye.

Likewise hundreds of other Starfleet ships were meeting fiery ends, the orbital construction facilities in the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards were being blasted to pieces, and Earth’s ground defences were being pummelled.

It was, Coplin thought, the most deadliest surprise attack ever, and the best part was that the Federation had absolutely no warning whatsoever. His jubilation faded as he knew there were another eight hundred more Starfleet ships to destroy, but by the time they had been deployed, less than half that number would be ready to fight the Jem’Hadar.

“This is First Tomenlik of the third division, the Earth ground and orbital defences have now activated, and my division has already lost 12 ships, with ten more critically damaged!”

“Fall back to a higher orbit, and tell the First’s of the first and second divisions to retreat immediately!”

“Understood, Tomenlik out.”

Coplin knew that the Jem’Hadar division would only manage to destroy a third of Earth’s defences, including orbital defence pods, ground based phaser bank and torpedo installations. Still massive damage had been inflicted, furthermore many of Earth’s power facilities had been crippled.

He could have ordered the Jem’Hadar firsts to continue the assault, and they would have destroyed Earth’s defences but it would be at a heavy cost. Most of the ships in those three divisions would be destroyed, those were ships that Coplin needed to protect against Starfleet sending in more ships to the Sol System. He looked up from the report screen located on his chair’s right hand rest, and at the viewscreen.

There were over fifty Starfleet vessels scrambling to depart from the Bernoulli* space station, and Coplin knew less then ten of them would be ready by the time his ship, and the tenth and eleventh fleets began their attack. He got a huge sadistic buzz as he knew those Starfleet vessels did not stand a chance, and thousands of brave officers, fighting impossible odds were about to get slaughtered…

*See this link to see what it this space station looks like: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Earth_Spacedock
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Old February 6 2012, 10:26 PM   #174
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chaper 2, part 2

Nemoltz stood over the officer who was in charge of the detonation of the trilithium mines. All the time Nemoltz's eyes were trained on the massive screen in the operations room. It showed the positions of the armada in the Pushui system. So far about half of the Klingon and Starfleet ships were past the First Oort cloud.

If all went to plan when he gave the order to detonate, it would take about ten seconds for all the ships to realise what had happened, but by then it would be to late. The powerful subspace wave emanating from the detonated trilithium bombs would disrupt subspace, making it impossible for ships to form a warp bubble and jump to warp.

This effect would last for at least an hour, and by that time every ship would be destroyed by the resulting supernova. Of course all of this relied on the armada not realising it was a trap, and for this reason did Nemoltz have a bad feeling about the massive booby-trap he had set up. If there was even one commander smart enough to deduce what was happening, then he or she would no doubt tell all the other ships to leave the area.

This would force Nemoltz to detonate prematurely, but then the full potential of his trap would be squandered as most of the enemy ships would have jumped to warp before the subspace wave struck them. If this happened then the armada would remain largely intact and pose a serious threat to the second Apocalypse station.

Still Nemoltz doubted that they would attack his station, because the armada would soon have their long-range communications restored and would realise what was happening in the Sol System and promptly leave the Pushui system. Though Nemoltz knew such an action would be futile because Coplin would have destroyed the Sol System by then.

For some reason Nemoltz doubted whether Coplin really would destroy the Sol System. After all he would be killing billions of his own people, and Nemoltz knew that Coplin may have been a bad, selfish and scheming man, but he was certain that even Coplin had some moral restraints. He had these doubts because he accidently discovered, while rummaging through Coplin's old office, medication for depression.

It seemed clear to Nemoltz that Coplin could only be suffering from depression if he was not happy with his job, his life. Since Coplin liked money, fame and power, Nemoltz deduced that the only possible thing which could bother Coplin was possibly a guilty conscience. It had to be the only explanation...

While he thought about all of this, Nemoltz noticed that over three quarters of the armada had passed the First Oort cloud. So far so good he thought, and he knew the time was fast approaching when he gave the order to detonate the trilithium mines.


***


Kira waited impatiently as the rest of the armada arrived into the Pushui system, this had taken a little longer than expected due to other defence pods scattered around in the first Oort cloud. Once all the ships were in position the assault on Apocalypse station could begin. Still something seemed to irk Kira, and she could not quite put her finger on it, but for some reason this whole situation appeared to be wrong.

Perhaps it was the unusual tactics she had witnessed Apocalypse display as it defended itself. She would only feel happy when the final assault had commenced, and when she did not have to constantly stare at the Apocalypse fleet, their station, and the planet behind it.

“Ms Felpes is the armada past the first Oort cloud?”

“Almost,” replied Megan, “the outer wave of a thousand ships will be past the Oort cloud in a minute's time.”

“Tell the fighters in the squadron that once all the ships are in position, they are to follow the Defiant and head for the Apocalypse station!”

“Colonel,” said Dawson, who was frowning considerably at a screen. “I’ve been scanning these enemy ships quite carefully, and I detect faint electromagnetic readings.”

This did not sound right to Kira. “What sort of readings?” she asked, desperate for clarification.

“I’m not sure,” replied Dawson, her frown growing. “But I would hazard a guess that such readings could be generated by holograms.”

“No...” said Kira, more to herself. “No, this isn't right!”

“Colonel?” asked Megan, who looked confused by Kira’s reaction.

Kira though failed to hear Megan, as her brain was working away trying to figure out this puzzle. There was this minimum resistance on Apocalypse’s part, the sense that all of this was to easy and now holographic readings. Then Kira had a eureka moment. What if the Apocalypse ships were holograms? But this meant…

Suddenly Kira closed her eyes in horror because she had seen a situation like this years ago. It was during the time when the Dominion, after the Cardassians had allied with it, faked sensor readings to indicate that DS9 would come under attack. And all of this just to distract all the ships defending DS9 from the Dominion’s real goal; to destroy the Bajoran star with a trilithium bomb, to wipe out DS9 and an entire Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan fleet.

The same applied here, Kira felt certain of it, this whole armada had walked into a colossal trap and the Pushui star had been rigged with trilithium explosives. There was zero evidence to support this theory, but Kira had a hunch so strong that she felt convinced that her theory was correct.

At once she sprung to action. “Mr Blank signal the armada to leave this star system at once at maximum warp, tell them the star has been rigged with trilithium bombs!”

“Trilithium?” asked Blank, looking totally confused. “What trilithium-”

“Just send the message!” said Kira forcibly. “Helm plot a course out of here maximum warp!”

“But what about the other ships?” asked the helm officer.

“Just do it, trust me!”

///

Martok sat in the commander’s chair as he prepared himself for the battle which was about to come. It had been so long since he had last been in battle, but this was an opportunity he could not pass up. He waited for all the ships to arrive, and the wait only made his anticipation grow.

“Chancellor,” said the officer at communications. “The Defiant is signalling to the whole fleet to leave this system immediately at maximum warp as the Pushui star has been rigged with trilithium bombs!”

In a split second, Martok had to come to a decision, and his overwhelming instinct told him to trust the Defiant’s commander on this one. He had been loosely acquainted with Kira Nerys in the past during the Dominion war, and he knew that she was no fool and had a far superior tactical awareness than most of his field commanders. If Kira thought there were trilithium bombs then there had to be trilithium bombs, even if all the evidence pointed otherwise.

“Helm take the Targ's Glory out of this system maximum warp! Communications send a message out to all ships telling them to retreat from this system at once, without delay!”

Though Martok felt disappointed at leaving in such an unceremonious way, he was not blinded by the lure of combat and valour. At heart he was both a warrior and a tactician, and his tactical side was the one that made him make sound decisions like the one he had just made now.

///

Nemoltz watched in aghast, when first he heard reports of the enemy armada signalling to each other to retreat, and then ships turning away from the Pushui system. His worst fears were coming true, the trap had been detected and he now had no choice but to prematurely detonate the trilithium mines. “Officer, detonate the trilithium mines immediately!”

At the very least a small proportion of the enemy ships would be caught out, but that was little comfort to him as he realised that his and Coplin’s plan for Apocalypse’s defence had catastrophically unravelled…

///

“Colonel,” said Megan her eyes wide with surprise. “The Pushui star is going supernova!”

“Mr Temsley get us out of here, maximum warp!” shouted Kira.

A second later, and the Defiant was at warp, and seeing the streaking stars was to Kira the most reassuring sight of all. Suddenly the Defiant lurched, the bridge lighting faltered, a few sparks burst from some consoles and a weird vibration could be felt. However some seconds later the vibration stopped and the lighting returned to normal.

“Report!” demanded Kira.

“Minimum damage,” replied Bolt, “a few fried deflector grids nothing worse.”

“It seems the Defiant caught the leading edge of a massive subspace shock wave,” reported Dawson. “We’re out of the woods now because we are adding distance between the ship and the leading subspace shock wave. If we had stayed only a more few seconds the subspace shock waves would have knocked out this ship's warp field, we would have been dead in space.”

Kira’s relief further grew when she realised just how close a near miss it had been. “How many ships were lost?” she asked Megan.

“Checking...” said Megan, as she brought up reports of numerous starship positions. “About four hundred,” she finally answered. “They couldn't establish a warp field in time and they'll be destroyed by now. We got that message out just in time, otherwise more ships would have been caught by surprise.”

“All of this was just a ploy to lure Starfleet out and destroy a huge number of their ships!” said Kira. “The holographic ships, the empty station, the lack of resistance.”

Megan turned around in her chair, looking at Kira with intense curiosity. “How did you know it was a trap?”

“Because I saw something similar a few months before the start of the Dominion war. The Dominion provided fake sensor readings, just to bait as many Klingon and Starfleet ships to DS9, while the Dominion's true intention was to blow up the Bajoran star with a trilithium device!”

///

Nemoltz looked at the screen with a very dour expression. All the little pale yellow markers, indicating ships, were moving away from the Pushui system. The trap had failed, destroying at most about four hundred ships, less than a sixth of what Nemoltz expected. The tension in the room had grown palpable, as all the officers looked shocked, or dazed, to witness the defence plan fail in such a manner.

Still Nemoltz knew that Apocalypse’s only trump card was that the armada would be recalled to Earth. That would give Apocalypse a few days breathing room, but if Earth was destroyed then the Federation would undoubtedly seek to wipe out Apocalypse. This meant only one thing to Nemoltz; the armada would return, and this time there were no traps or decoys to level the odds.

The second Apocalypse station and the five hundred strong Apocalypse fleet would be decimated, and Apocalypse as an organisation would be destroyed. Despite knowing this Nemoltz was not about to flee, he was going to stay to the bitter end. Lesser men like him would have fled, but Nemoltz was no coward and a firm believer in seeing things through no matter what the cost…

///

“There's a sub-space communication coming from admiral Nechayev!” said Blank suddenly.

“On screen!” said Kira.

The view screen, showed a rather shaken looking admiral Nechayev, who was standing by a table in some sort of meeting room. In the background were other Starfleet officers, admirals and other top brass engaged in very serious and dire conversation.

“Colonel, chancellor,” said Nechayev, a little tremulously. “I want the Defiant and the entire fleet to return to Earth immediately as there has been a full-scale assault on the Sol system. Over a thousand Jem'Hadar ships have captured the Sol system, most of the ships are concentrated around the Sun. Sensors detect some kind of portable space station and...” She paused, as if trying to find the courage to say something really horrendous. “Traces of trilithium were detected, it seems the Jem'Hadar want to destroy the Sun.”

Everyone on the bridge went deathly silent, all the human officers seemed frozen from shock. Kira though managed to find her tongue. “How many other fleets are coming to the Sol system?”

“Only the fourth fleet is ready to be mobilised, it will arrive in the Sol system in two days time. But even then it could be to late...”

Kira quickly did some quick calculations in her head, and realised the armada would not have to travel for twelve days, not if it went at a higher warp speed. “This fleet will be able to arrive at the Solar System in no more than five days,” she promised. “But that’s if we constantly maintain a warp speed of 9.5.”

“We'll arrive as quickly as possible,” came Martok’s voice, “rest assured Apocalypse will pay for their treachery! Martok out!”

Nechayev now looked at Kira with desperation, as if Kira was her only hope. “Do what it ever takes to reach the Sol system as quickly as possible. Let's hope the Jem'Hadar stay put for that long... Because Earth is virtually defenceless!”

This was another shocking revelation, and Kira could not believe how the news kept getting worse. “The Jem'Hadar destroyed the fleet protecting the Sol system?” she asked incredulously.

“Nearly all of the 1400 ships guarding the Sol system were lost, it was a complete surprise attack, the Jem'Hadar ships literally decloaked out of the blue and overwhelmed nearly every position! They even destroyed the Utopia Planitia shipyards!” Nechayev had said all of this quite fast, but she paused and seemed to calm down a little. “What has happened to admiral Ross as I couldn't contact his ship?”

“His ship's communications must still be down,” explained Kira. “Chancellor Martok will relay everything you told him to Ross.”

“Thank you colonel, Nechayev out.”

The moment the channel ended, Kira rose to her feet. “Felpes you command the bridge, Bashir you are with me.”

“It's time we asked ensign Bolt some more questions,” she added, as Bashir followed right behind her to leave the bridge.

Once outside the bridge, Bashir walked by Kira’s side, he looked a little dazed. Some moments later he burst into speech. “Apocalypse must have baited Starfleet to send a huge number of ships into the Pushui system, straight into a trap, while launching a surprise attack on Earth decimating the Sol system's defences and so leaving Starfleet very stretched!”

“It's bad alright!” agreed Kira. “But I think our ensign Bolt may have some idea of what Apocalypse is planning, and I also think we need something to get Bolt to talk...”

“We're going to torture Bolt?” asked Bashir sounding somewhat horrified.

Kira stopped walking and gazed into Bashir’s worried and shocked face. “To hell with the Prime Directive and Federation laws!” she shouted straight into Bashir’s face. “The fate of Earth rests upon this fleet! And we need to know if Apocalypse intends to detonate the trilithium bombs next to the sun! If that means torturing one person to do so then so be it!”

She walked off, and for a moment she thought Bashir was not going to follow. But she then heard his footsteps and she took it as a sign that Bashir would be going along with her plan. After hearing such calamitous news, Kira was desperate to do something, anything to somehow work out a way of saving the Sol System, and she was convinced that Bolt had the answers she so desperately needed…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 8 2012, 12:15 AM   #175
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 1

Kira stormed into the make-shift brig, a storage room now emptied of everything except for the table, with a heart full of anger. She, as had admiral Ross and chancellor Martok, had been duped into believing Apocalypse would defend the Pushui system. Four hundred ships had been lost because of this deception, and thanks to her timely action that number could have increased considerably.

She wanted answers and she firmly believed that the man sitting on the duranium chair had them. With a motion of her thumb Kira signalled the two guards inside the room to leave.

While the guards left, Bashir stood on the right side of Bolt, glaring down at him.

Finally once the last guard out closed the door, Kira rounded upon Bolt, gazing at him with all the loathing she could muster. She placed her hands on the table, and leaned forwards a bit to try and spook Bolt. “Alright Bolt we know you're an agent of Apocalypse, so tell us what Apocalypse is planning to do in the Sol system?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Bolt, looking bewildered and a little distraught. “I've been framed here! First for the supposed sabotage of the ship and now you're accusing me of being some sort of spy! Where is your evidence for these allegations when I've done nothing wrong?”

“You're right Bolt,” admitted Bashir, “we have no evidence, the fingerprint/DNA test proved inconclusive, and by all accounts you seem totally innocent, except for one thing.”

Bolt’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What's that?”

“You once worked for Section 31, but you betrayed them.”

“Tell me something colonel does the doctor always see conspiracy theories?”

Kira moved herself away from the table, and fought hard not to betray any surprise on her face. She thought she had agreed with Bashir not to mention Section 31 in front of Bolt. “I'm puzzled myself doctor, where are you going with this?”

“Here me out,” said Bashir, raising his hands briefly in some sort of pacifying manner. “Some weeks ago the head of Section 31, Timothy Rooter, had a surprise secret meeting with me and he asked me to find a Section 31 agent gone rouge, one who was supposedly on board DS9, but Section 31 had no proof of this.”

“I don't what you're talking about,” said Bolt, and he was practically fuming.

Kira herself did not feel sure where this was going, and like Bolt her patience was starting to grow thin. “Doctor, if you have a point then say it.”

“Alright...” said Bashir after giving a brief angry stare at Kira. “Though I know Bolt knows exactly what I'm saying... How did Section 31 know its rouge agent was on DS9? And why would it ask me to find their agent?”

“Beats me...” said Bolt with a shrug, his voice was rife with irony. “After all this Section 31 is a figment of your imagination.”

“I'll tell you why...” replied Bashir, who brimmed with aggressive smugness. “Because you got sloppy Bolt. Why would Section 31 reveal it has an agent who has defected to anyone outside of the organisation? They would keep the matter quiet, and if they did track down the rouge agent they would do so very quietly and then covertly silence him. All this time I've been feeling that this mission of Rooter's was wrong. But now after some considerable thinking I realised Section 31 lost track of you months ago, otherwise they would have caught up with you on DS9!”

Bolt looked at Bashir with sheer disbelieve, but that expression did not last long, because Bolt then gave Bashir a cold smile. “Bravo doctor!” he exclaimed with much gusto. “With such reasoning and cunning you should be a member of Section 31! But you are too late, your fleet will never arrive at the Sol system in time.”

At the very instant of Bolt’s confession of guilt, Kira’s anger towards this man ratcheted up a few more notches. His casual disregard for other people’s lives disgusted her, and in a fast move, she strode around the table, grabbed Bolt by the collar and slammed him against the nearest wall.

“You evil little...” she hissed, and a few Bajoran swear words escaped from her mouth. “Nine billion people are about to die because of Apocalypse!” she shouted at Bolt.

“That's too bad,” said Bolt, who shrugged.

Kira anticipated that Bolt would not talk, but she had something that would make him talk. She gave a quick glance to Bashir, and with a little cock of her head, Bashir removed a hypospray from a medkit he was carrying.

She did not care how uneasy Bashir looked, because she was not bluffing with Bolt, he was going to get injected if he did persisted in not loosening his tongue.

“You see the hypospray which Bashir is holding?” said Kira in a low and dangerous voice. “It contains a nerve agent that produces excruciating pain when injected into a humanoid, if you don't answer my questions, you'll get injected with this nerve agent!”

Despite her threat, Bolt looked deeply amused, almost gleeful. He then started laughing in a horrible manner before calming down. “Starfleet doesn't torture its prisoners because it's against your beloved Prime Directive!” he replied gleefully.

Kira had just about had it with Bolt, and she nodded to Bashir to get this over with.

Walking over, Bashir opened his medkit, and removed one of the two hyposprays contained inside. He then placed this hypospray to Bolt’s neck, and for a moment he paused.

Briefly Kira wondered if Bashir was going to back out of this. But she needn’t have worried because Bashir discharged the hypospray’s contents.

Bashir stood back and looked at Bolt with rather dispassionate eyes. “This nerve agent stimulates the pain receptors and electrical activity in your nervous system, the pain will get steadily worse as your nervous system hyper-stimulates.”

Already Bolt was starting to wince in pain. “I don't know anything about Apocalypse's plans to attack Earth,” he replied, but his confidence waned with each word he said.

“Liar!” hissed Kira, she pretended to look angry but really she felt a little self-disgusted by the measure she had taken to force Bolt to talk. “You have the counter-agent don't you doctor?”

“I do but if I don't apply it in two minutes time he'll go into neural shock,” explained Bashir, and it sounded like he was more warning Kira than Bolt.

For some moments there was silence, as Kira watched Bolt suffer. Now there were tears in Bolt’s eyes and he began to mildly convulse, while his breathing became ragged and shallow.

Kira instinctively knew that to display a reaction like that of Bolt's, a person would have to be set on fire to feel the pain Bolt was suffering from. With each passing second a voice grew in Kira's head telling her to stop this. She had clearly lost the ruthlessness which she once had when she was that young resistance fighter.

Back then she would not give it much thought torturing someone if they could provide useful information. But what she was doing was wrong, and the words had almost formed in her mouth when-

“Alright!” screamed Bolt, who was now convulsing in agony. “Stop the pain, I'll tell you... everything.”

He looked desperately into Kira’s eyes. “Please!”

“Give him the counter agent,” she said at once.

With some haste, Bashir opened the medkit once more, and removed the second hypospray and discharged the contents into Bolt’s neck without delay.

Kira gave Bolt a few moments for his pain to die down, finally she decided that Bolt was not suffering to badly, and she proceeded with the questioning. She took up a second chair and plonked it down by the side of the table. Sitting down, she gauged Bolt’s expression and was glad to see that Bolt appeared to be taking her more seriously. With a quick flick of her eyes she saw Bashir take out a padd, which would record the rest of the questioning.

“I want the truth...” she demanded in no uncertain terms.

Bolt breathed out deeply before bursting into speech. “It all starts over three months ago when Apocalypse ordered me to go to DS9. They wanted an agent on that station, so that when an Apocalypse ship attacked, DS9's defences would suddenly deactivate. But to get to DS9 I had to break my cover with Section 31, from the moment I did that I knew they would come after me. So I kept a low profile, falsified various identities, until I came to DS9 under the guise of a Starfleet officer. Two days before the attack Apocalypse told me that DS9 had to be sabotaged, in preparation for the assault.”

“Why was DS9 attacked?” she asked.

Bolt’s eyes briefly went upwards as he thought about the answer. “All I know was that Nemoltz told me that Megan Felpes was to be captured, along with other personnel. Why Megan was such a high priority I have no idea. All I had to do was sabotage DS9's computer and not get caught in the process. So the attack took place, afterwards I was contacted by Nemoltz who gave me instructions to maintain position and wait for fresh orders. So I waited for over two months until I received another set of orders from Nemoltz; I was to persuade Starfleet to attack Apocalypse.”

At that moment Bashir put forth a question to Bolt. “So you sent some sort of projection of Rooter into the station's wardroom, just to manipulate me into telling my superior officers about highly sensitive information which would no doubt force Starfleet to attack?”

“That was the idea,” said Bolt nodding, who now seemed completely at ease with answering the questions. “If the admirals debating Ross's proposal heard about this information, it would convince them to attack Apocalypse, and send a massive fleet into the Pushui system. Where it would be promptly destroyed due to some sort of ambush, I presumed it would involve destroying the Pushui star if the ambush was intended to wipe out the whole fleet while not one Apocalypse ship was used.”

“So all of this was just a lure on Apocalypse's part?” said Kira angrily. “They wanted to draw as many Starfleet ships out of Federation space not only to destroy them, but to severely weaken the Sol system's defences?”

“Precisely,” replied Bolt, “and it nearly worked, the Federation/Klingon fleet did enter the Pushui system. Unfortunately you realised a little too quickly what was going on, you avoided death by seconds you know. If that subspace wave had hit the Defiant it would have been dead in the water, and unable to escape.”

“You would have died as well!” pointed out Bashir, giving Bolt a disbelieving stare.

“Well I might have because of being caught red-handed,” responded Bolt, who seemed to be thinking about the possibilities. “You see I had a site-to-site transporter to beam me out the instance the trilithium bombs exploded.”

Silence sprung up as Kira considered what Bolt had told her, there were still some things that were not explained. Like the sabotage of the Defiant’s communications array for instance.

“Section 31 must have guessed what Apocalypse was doing, and realised you were somehow behind it,” she said though more to herself. “That's why admiral Nechayev contacted the Defiant, to warn the fleet that it was heading into a trap!”

“I anticipated something like that would happen,” commented Bolt, “thankfully I had some spare quantum encoders on me and with some modification I used one of them not only to down this ship's communication array, but also to spread the code via inter-ship communications and that way every ship would incur the same malfunction.”

Anger flared up once more inside Kira, and her guilt over torturing Bolt subsided when she realised just how dangerous and cunning Bolt was. “So you did your utmost to get everyone on this ship and in the fleet killed, got it. Now do you know anything about Apocalypse's plan to destroy the Sol System?”

“I do,” said Bolt, he then hesitated while he rested his hands on the table. “But I'm not telling you anything unless you promise me safe passage out of the Federation.”

“Not likely,” replied Kira, giving Bolt a cold stare. “In case you haven't noticed you are in no position to negotiate.”

Bolt then leaned back on his chair, his hands were behind his head while he put his feet up on the table. He seemed totally confident or he was someone who was very good at bluffing. “Well in that case I'll just let you figure out how the Jem'Hadar intend to destroy the Sol system's star, because by the time you do figure it out you'll be too late.”

“I'm warning you,” hissed Kira, “it is not for negotiation! You either help me or I will throw you out of the nearest airlock!”

Removing his legs from the table, Bolt sighed and folded his arms. “Say what you like but you need me!” he said, throwing in a little hint of warning. “But I am tired of this life as a double agent, constantly watching over my back fearful of assassination. I want out and not out in terms of being a prisoner!”

He looked absolutely serious, and any trace of game playing had vanished. “Section 31 will kill me if you hand me over to the Federation authorities. Likewise I can't go back to Apocalypse because Nemoltz must realise by now that I've been captured. My only hope is to leave the Federation and start a new life somewhere else! And that is my final offer, kill me if you like! But it will be far more quicker and less painful than what Section 31 or Apocalypse will do when they get their hands on me!”

“Don't listen to him Kira,” warned Bashir, “it's a trick!”

“Where can I go to?” asked Bolt, emphasising each word. “You have me totally cornered, and I'm at your mercy!”

“Alright,” replied Kira, “I accept your terms but on one condition; I'm only freeing you once the Sol System has been protected.”

For one moment Bolt did not like this offer at all, but with a quick ‘well it’s better than nothing’ expression appearing on his face, he seemed to warm up to the offer. “Very well, I'll take my chances, that's if your word means anything.”

With a deal struck, Kira decided that the questioning of Bolt was complete. She walked over to the doorway, pressed a command on the door control, and the door swished open.

She stuck her head out of the door. “Take him back to his quarters, and assign four security guards inside to monitor him at all times!” she told the guard nearest to her.

Kira took a few steps backwards to let the guards in. When the guards had Bolt safely secured, she gave Bolt this order. “As for you Bolt, you have one hour to come up with a report on all that you know about Apocalypse's plans to destroy the Sol system, and how to foil such plans.”

“One hour, sure,” replied Bolt.

“Escort Mr Bolt back to his quarters,” she told the guards. “While you are in his quarters, remove every loose item and deactivate every console and panel.”

“Understood colonel,” said one of the guards.

When the guards and Bolt had left, leaving just Bashir and Kira, Bashir rounded on Kira. “Are you really going to stick to your promise if Bolt does help us?”

“I am,” said Kira simply. “If the Sol system is saved thanks to his information, then whatever crimes he committed he will have redeemed himself by saving billions of lives in the Sol system.”

“You'll never get Starfleet to agree to this,” said Bashir with the uttermost scepticism.

“I don't have to,” she replied, and she proceeded to remove her comm badge, and likewise Bashir did the same. “This is off the record, but I'll arrange for Bolt to 'escape',” she explained, while looking at the comm badge held in her right hand. “So when Starfleet asks what happens I'll tell them Bolt managed to break free, and used his site-to-site transporter to beam over to some unknown location.”

“And you think Starfleet will buy this?” asked Bashir, raising a questioning eyebrow.

Kira looked up from her comm badge. “Leave the story to me, I'll let Bolt leave this ship but it is up to him to evade Starfleet and the various Federation law agencies.”

With one last dubious glance, Bashir left the room, while Kira remained. She continued to fiddle with the comm badge in her right hand. Now she was aiding a criminal to escape, she could add that to the other illegal thing she did which was to torture Bolt. Her only reason for torturing Bolt was to get information, and the information she received had the potential to save billions of lives. She could worry about the morality of her actions later, as there was a star system to save…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 8 2012, 12:15 AM   #176
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 2

Kira, Blank, Megan, and Bolt were gathered around a table in the Mess Hall, nearby stood two guards who were watching over Bolt.

“So Mr Bolt how do we disable the trilithium bombs?” asked Kira.

“The simplest way of breaking down trilithium in a controlled reaction is to use a very powerful gamma ray burst. The gamma rays break the trilithium into harmless subatomic particles. The problem is you need to apply the gamma ray burst at very close range, like less than five kilometres…”

Bolt glanced up from the padd he was staring at, and smirked at everyone. “But that's your problem isn't it?”

Kira ignored Bolt’s little jibe, right now she needed Bolt and was prepared to put up with a little intransigence. “Chief how long would it take to reconfigure the deflector dish?”

“About six hours,” replied Blank, “the problem is the Defiant will have to lower its shields for about ten seconds, otherwise the shields would absorb the gamma rays. And the Jem'Hadar will probably detect the gamma ray build up in the deflector dish and focus their attack on this ship.”

“This ship can take a pounding, and other Starfleet ships can protect us when the deflector dish is powering up...” Kira turned her gaze once more on Bolt. “Is there anything else we need to know about Bolt?”

“I don't think so...” answered Bolt, who pretended to look thoughtful.

“Very well, Mr Blank and Ms Felpes get to work on the deflector dish immediately.”

While Blank and Megan walked out of the Mess Hall, Kira absentmindedly clasped her hands and fidgeted with her thumbs.

“Does that mean I'm free to go?” piped up Bolt, the moment Blank and Megan had left the Mess Hall.

In an annoyed gesture, Kira flattened her hands against the table, and glared at Bolt; he was starting to really get on her nerves. “I told you I'll only consider letting you go once the trilithium bombs have been safely neutralised.”

“You consider?” said Bolt angrily, all casualness gone. “That's not part of the agreement we had!”

“Right now I don't give a damn about our agreement, I have a star system to save!”

“You Federation types,” commented Bolt bitterly, “you always put the collective good ahead of your own. That is your greatest strength and also your greatest flaw.”

“I'm a Bajoran!” Kira told Bolt with passion. “A Bajoran fighting the tyranny of Apocalypse, and perhaps trying to protect Earth is a lost cause, but like any Bajoran we fight no matter what the odds are!”

Bolt simply responded to Kira’s statement with raised eyebrows. “I'll add delusion to my list of faulty traits.”

“I'm warning you,” said Kira, while she made her way around the table to get behind Bolt. “If you have misinformed me in any way, I will kill you.”

There was a lengthy silence on Bolt’s part, and Kira could tell that Bolt was taking her threat under serious consideration.

“Though I sense the sincerity in your intention to do so, I doubt you will find the time to kill me. Because by the time you get close to that arena, this ship would have been scorched to a cinder!”

Kira breathed out heavily through her nostrils, as it was the only thing she could do to vent her anger. She did not like Bolt not only because he was a saboteur and a spy, but also because he was a really unpleasant person to talk to.

“Guards take Bolt back to his quarters!” she finally said.

When Bolt and the security guards had left the Mess Hall, Kira started to seriously consider breaking the deal she made with Bolt. He was becoming really irksome and Kira only had to put up with him in small doses… Still he had given her senior staff important information on how to neutralise the trilithium bombs, but that was Bolt’s only redeeming feature.


***


Max was throw into a small square room, and looking to his right he saw a raised up bed, complete with restraints and a whole host of medical equipment. He gulped in fear as he saw two station troopers enter the room. Getting up, Max raised his fists, and readied to defend himself.

The first station trooper advanced upon Max and kicked him straight in the stomach.

Max coiled inwards as pain flared in his abdomen, but the moment he let his guard down the trooper began pummeling Max hard in the face. He felt his nose break almost immediately, and he was so overwhelmed by the ferocity of this attack, that he could not defend himself. His arms were trailing uselessly below his face.

It was agony feeling the troopers fists pound his face, he felt the bones around his cheeks and mouth break, and he could taste massive amounts of blood. After one fierce blow, several of his teeth dislodged and spilt out of his mouth. With each blow Max grunted and moaned in pain.

Suddenly the trooper grabbed hold of Max and threw him to the floor. Max then felt a duranium tipped boot kick him hard in the chest, and all the air in his lungs was knocked out of him. Again and again the trooper kicked him in the chest, and sometimes the abdomen, and each kick produced a more painful impact.

Max was certain numerous ribs were broken, and the pain was horrendous, and at each moment when the guard's boot hit his ribs, Max's chest flared up in agony.

The trooper then stopped kicking Max, and he then signalled to his companion. At once the two troopers roughly picked Max up so that he was standing on his feet. Then the second trooper began stripping Max of his clothes.

His jacket was removed, his shirt ripped open, his trousers cut to pieces with a knife and then removed. While his shoes were pulled off his feet, as were his socks, and finally his underpants were ripped off. Now Max was completely naked, and for a moment he felt terrified that these station troopers were about to rape him, as they seemed capable of doing anything.

But the troopers made no sexual advances upon him, and instead forced him upon the bed, and bound the restraints over his ankles, waist, wrists and neck. He was tied down and completely at their mercy.

“Medic,” one of the station troopers shouted.

At once an Apocalypse medic arrived in the room, and clutched in his arms was a standard issue Apocalypse medical equipment pack.

“Apply the electroshock procedure on this prisoner,” ordered the station trooper.

The medic seemed just as frightened as Max was, but he came over to Max, opened up the container, and began applying thin, sticky like pads over Max’s legs, arms, torso and head.

“I’m ready,” said the medic in a trembly voice.

Max looked imploringly at the medic. “Please you don’t have to do this!” he urged.

“Ignore the prisoner,” warned the station trooper. “Apply the pain receptors, start at level five.”

With fumbling hands the medic took out an Apocalypse tricorder and activated the pain receptors.

The result was immediate; pain, overwhelming pain coursed through Max’s body, and it was so bad he screamed out aloud. The pain then stopped, and Max stopped screaming and then breathed out heavily. He was now sweating profusely, and starting to shake with fear. This was hell, and he wanted this to stop at once.

“Please,” he said to the medic. “Don’t do-”

Another powerful surge of pain jolted through Max’s body, and again he started screaming, and again the pain suddenly stopped, though he noticed a slight tingling sensation all around his body.

And so it continued, each bout of pain became steadily more painful and prolonged. Max screamed and screamed, while the pain receptors activated, until he ran out of air to scream. The pain felt so bad, and so horrific, that he thrashed his body against the restraints, in some desperate, but futile attempt to minimise the pain.

“Please stop,” he pleaded, when the pain receptors were offline.

His face was wet with tears, and he was now begging the medic and the station troopers to stop torturing him. “Please-”

The pain came back in even greater quantity, and Max screamed from the very depths of his guts. At that moment he just wanted to die as it would be the only release against this unbearable and excruciating pain. He had lost track of all time and what were minutes seemed like hours to Max.

“That will be enough,” said the station trooper. “You have ten minutes to treat his wounds and patch up his clothes, before we send the prisoner back to the detainment area.”

Max breathed out in a sigh of relief when the medic removed the pain receptors. Then Max started sobbing as he had lost control of his emotions, all of his self-confidence as a person was for the time being gone. But he had been pushed to the brink so badly, that he now lost the will to cry.

Now numbness and despair consumed him, the type that simply made a person freeze in the horror of it all. This was now happening to Max, and he did not really notice as the doctor roughly put his clothes back on. He did not even notice the guards taking him out of the torture chamber.

After having been tortured the only person Max could think of was Megan, and he finally knew what it felt like. The helplessness, the intolerable pain and the soul-destroying effect it had on ones self. Max thought that his hour or more in the torture chamber-though he was not really sure how much time had passed-had to be the most trying time of his life.

But to be tortured for two years seemed inconceivable to Max, it did not seem possible a person could endure for so long under such impossible circumstances, and he felt a sudden surge of sympathy for what Megan had been put through. She truly was the most resilient women he had ever known.

Slowly though a different emotion filed through Max, one that overrode his distress, horror and self-pity; anger. Anger at his brother for ordering him to be tortured, but for some reason killing Coplin did not seem like the right thing to do. Max’s experience of torture made him reconsider carrying out revenge on Coplin, as revenge was a form of cruelty, and after enduring some cruelty himself he realised that he could never inflict it on others, not even on his own twin brother.

Instead Max made a different vow; to bring Coplin to justice, and to do whatever it took to save everyone in the Sol system from Coplin’s wicked plan.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 11 2012, 11:03 PM   #177
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4

Ezri closed her eyes while she sat down on the uncomfortable cell bunks. She was trying to calm herself down after seeing something horrific, she kept telling herself that what she had seen was not real and that it was all in her head. Opening her eyes, Ezri looked to her right and once more saw a dead Jem’Hadar, a noose around his neck, hanging from the ceiling.

Upon seeing the Jem’Hadar, see felt her fear increase, and her heart started to pound really hard. Ezri looked away, trying to keep her face as composed as possible. But inside her fear and pain raged to the point where it was becoming unbearable. Finally she could not bare sitting here for any longer, she had to remove the noose around the Jem’Hadar’s neck.

She walked forwards, and as she did so, everything seemed distant and quiet. When she arrived at the Jem’Hadar, she looked up and realised the noose was within reach of her hands. Going onto tiptoes, she managed to get some extra height, and her hands started fumbling with the noose and she tried to loosen it.

“Captain?” asked Holo.

But Ezri barely registered Holo’s voice, she had to remove the noose from the Jem’Hadar, but each and every attempt failed.

“Captain?” said Holo, while he was standing right next to her.

Still Ezri did not realise how close Holo was, or that he was watching her fiddle with a noose that did not exist. The motions of her hand became more frenzied, as try as she might she could not lower the Jem’Hadar or loosen the noose.

“Ezri!” shouted Holo, and his hand reached over for Ezri’s shoulder and he gave her a shake.

In an instant the hallucination vanished, and Ezri felt someone's hand on her shoulder. Turning around she saw Holo, but for a moment seeing him induced intense amounts of shock and fear for Ezri.

“What are you doing?” she asked in a hoarse voice.

“I was going to ask you the same thing; what were you doing?”

Ezri finally managed to compose herself, but she knew that the damage had been done, and her condition exposed. “Oh... it's nothing,” she explained trying to sound casual.

“You were staring at the wall, and then doing something with your hands,” replied Holo and he looked at Ezri with considerable concern.

“I don't know what you are talking about,” she said rather haughtily.

There was a little hurt that blossomed in Holo’s eyes due to Ezri’s lie. “You were hallucinating,” he said, pressing on with his point, “and it seems not for the first time... Why didn't you tell me or the team about your hallucinations?”

Everyone was looking at Ezri, and she knew that she could not keep the truth hidden from them for any longer. “Because I thought they would go away,” she answered, and as she talked she felt a wave of humiliation and pain wash over her.

“But they're not!” she said in anguish. “And now they're not just confined to times when I'm doing nothing. These hallucinations now start occurring at anytime, anywhere, and there is nothing I can do to stop them!”

“You should have got a Apocalypse doctor to look at you!” said Holo.

“No!” said Ezri, and rather loudly, but after seeing Holo’s stunned expression, she tried to calm down and she knew she had to explain herself. “You all look up to me, and I didn't want to appear weak and vulnerable...”

Nog though shook his head in disagreement. “Listen you may be our team leader, our captain, but even captains sometimes need help from their crews!”

To hear this eased a great deal of Ezri’s worries, and she was glad that her team didn’t expect the impossible out of her. “So you don't think any less of me?”

“Of course not!” said Nog. “I think you're being too hard on yourself! This has been stressful and painful for all of us, but we're going to get through this because we're a team! We stick together!”

He looked around to address the whole group. “Am I right?”

Both Jake and Holo nodded in agreement.

Such a show of confidence in their captain did a lot to lift Ezri’s spirits. “Thanks guys, but what I really need is medical treatment...”

She sat back down again, feeling marginally more cheerful, but what hope she had soon faded as she thought of Max. He was probably undergoing excruciating torture, and being exposed to horrific methods of inflicting pain. It did not bare thinking of, and though Ezri felt truly sorry for Max, she felt a much stronger emotion for his brother and that was seething anger.

To order the torture of ones own sibling was inconceivable to Ezri, she could not understand how someone like Coplin possessed such an affection for cruelty and evil.


***


When the force field deactivated, Ezri looked around and saw a station trooper kick a dazed looking Max onto the cell floor. She came over to Max, who was lying face down on the floor, and turned him around. There were puffy bruises and cuts all over Max’s face, but aside from that there did not seem to be further injuries.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

“I'm just bruised that's all,” said Max. “I'm going to make Coplin pay for his crimes, one way or another...”

Ezri stood back a little and gave Max her hand, which he took as he lifted himself back onto his feet. “Your brother seems mentally unstable...”

“He may be a megalomaniac,” hissed Max, “and could even be mentally unstable but I will not let him kill nine billion people just so that he can satisfy his ego.”

With that Max sat down next to Holo, and some moments later they started a whispered conversation.

Ezri had not asked Max what happened when he was tortured, because she did not want Max to have to recant to everyone else about his experience. The only good thing she saw in the whole situation was that Max still seemed determined as ever to complete the arena match and disable the trilithium bombs.


***


Day 3, 2300 hours

Coplin went through padd after padd as he worked in his office. He was incredibly busy checking over the fleet deployments, which he mainly assigned to the Jem’Hadar firsts, arena plans and combat reports. Though the Jem’Hadar ships had decimated Starfleet’s fourth fleet, as Coplin expected, over a hundred ships were lost, and three hundred more were severely damaged.

Worse still most of the Jem’Hadar ships sustained minor damage to their cloaks, which rendered the cloaks useless giving the Starfleet’s ships advanced sensor capabilities. So the element of surprise would not be to the Jem’Hadar fleet’s advantage when the next wave of Starfleet ships came to defend the Sol system.

Still all of this did not matter since at any time Coplin could detonate the trilithium bombs in a matter of minutes. All he had to was to get over to the control room next to the portable arena's fusion generators and arm the trilithium bombs.

But he intended to do so at the last possible opportunity to maximise the number of ships Starfleet would lose as it desperately tried to defend the Sol system. And talking about enemy ships he wondered what had happened to the Starfleet/Klingon armada in the Pushui system.

Coplin presumed it had been destroyed when the trilithium mines were detonated, destroying the star. Still he had yet to be contacted by Nemoltz, telling him if the trap had been successful or not. Finally late in the night, when Coplin was just about to finish his work and go to bed, did he receive a message, displayed on his desk’s console.

Activating the message, Coplin felt glad to see it was Nemoltz on the subspace channel. “Has the armada been destroyed?”

Nemoltz’s expression appeared unreadable. “I'm afraid not, only four hundred ships were destroyed.”

“Fuck!” breathed Coplin, though he composed himself as he did not like swearing to Nemoltz. “What happened?”

“The armada bolted at the last moment, it seems they sensed it was a trap and weren't stupid enough to hang around.”

“Where are the armada heading?” asked Coplin, while he struggled to control a growing sense of unease.

“To your position, and currently they'll be there in just under three days.”

“Three days? Impossible!” exclaimed Coplin, and he clung to his denial and ignorance as it was the only thing keeping him calm.

“They're travelling at warp 9.5,” Nemoltz explained, “and while some of the ships won't be able to maintain that speed during the five day journey, I am still convinced that the armada will retain over two thousand ships when it arrives in the Sol system!”

Coplin though managed to find some relief and reassurance, he realised there was no need to panic, as in essence nothing had really changed. “It doesn't matter, I can detonate the trilithium bombs at any time.”

“Why not just detonate them right now?” asked Nemoltz, making it sound as if it were the most obvious thing in the universe to do.

“Because I want the arena match to go ahead, besides I have the time! Coplin out!”

He ended the transmission, and thought about the portable arena. Today most of the preparations were complete and the arena was almost ready. Coplin reckoned that tomorrow the match could take place, and that would be the day when he finally killed his twin brother in the most horrific of circumstances.

What Coplin wanted was for Max to die having come supposedly close to disabling the trilithium bombs. Coplin knew that under his careful planning, that nothing could disable the trilithium bombs or prevent them from detonating once they had been armed. He had given Max that impression that the trilithium bombs could be disarmed, just to see his twin brother realise the futility of trying to disarm them.

Max would die, devastated and defeated to his very core, as he tried to comprehend the mass genocide that would happen to his race in the last few torturous minutes of his life.

This was the death that Coplin wanted of his brother, however an even stranger thought came to Coplin and that was to confront Max in one final grand battle, and together they would die in front of trillions. Coplin had carefully designed the arena and rigged it with cameras, so everyone could see the spectacle of Team UFP fighting against a lost cause.

Trillions of people would be glued to their holovision sets as they watched the fate of the Sol system play out. It would be an absolute money-maker for Apocalypse, and this was Coplin’s final gift to the organisation he helped to create.

A sudden painful headache interrupted his thinking, and feeling really annoyed by this, Coplin checked his chronometer. It was two hours before he took his fifth and final dosage of drugs for the day. What he took was actually a cocktail of compounds which had gradually developed into increasingly higher dosages of nanites, antidepressants, steroids and now more recently painkillers.

Somehow all of these compounds kept Coplin calm, and yet deep inside him he constantly felt like a volcano about to go off. He had all this anger, energy, excitement and guilt bubbling up inside him, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to suppress these emotions. With each passing day he had begun to feel detached from life, and no sooner did that happen before he reverted back to obsessive brooding about his brother and the arena match.

His whole head was a mess, and by some miracle he had just enough mental effort to organise the arena and command the Jem’Hadar fleet. Coplin was not stupid enough to be in denial about his hidden mental problems, he needed to get out of this job or go out in a blaze of glory before he descended into a psychotic wreak…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 16 2012, 10:53 PM   #178
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5

Day 4, 0800 hours

Kira sat with Megan while they had their lunch in the Mess Hall. In a time like this Kira didn’t feel much like eating, not when she constantly asking herself when the Jem’Hadar would detonate the trilithium bombs. At any moment the bombs could go off and the Sol system would be obliterated, and this knowledge inwardly tormented Kira.

As the Defiant came closer to the Sol system, Kira was torn between hope and fear. It was both good and bad that something was delaying the Jem’Hadar, but what if it stopped delaying them? Every time Kira came to that possibility in her head, she forcibly reminded herself that the Defiant would make it in time as the alternative was to horrifying to contemplate.

She knew she was not the only to be thinking about this. The conversations in the Mess Hall had been rather subdued and with many of the officers being human, Kira could understand what they were going through. To try to carry on with ones job when most of your race was about to be annihilated was to Kira daunting to say the very least. Still she knew she could count on her crew because they would give it their all, including their lives, to save the Sol system.

Her thinking was interrupted when she noticed Tanya standing by her table.

“Erm colonel,” said Tanya, the moment Kira’s attention was on her. “There's a message for you, it was sent by admiral Nechayev.”

Tanya handed to Kira the padd, who promptly took it.

“Dismissed lieutenant,” said Kira as she started to read the top of the message.

The more she read through the message, the more disenchanted and stunned she became. Finally when she finished reading the message she slammed the padd down against the table.

There was a brief hush from everyone in the room, and heads whipped around to see the source of the commotion. Though moments later everyone continued on as normal, except for Megan who was continuing to give Kira a surprised stare.

“Let's take a walk,” said Kira, and she stood up disregarding her half-finished breakfast.

Megan reluctantly got up, gazing a little longingly at her breakfast, and then followed Kira.

Kira walked out of the Mess Hall, and when Megan was at her side, she slowed down her pace.

“Bad news?” asked Megan.

“It's a total disaster!” exclaimed Kira. “The fourth fleet was completely wiped out!”

“All 1300 ships?” said Megan sounding completely shocked.

“Virtually all of them,” said Kira, “only eight ships managed to escape out of the Sol system!”

“And the Jem'Hadar ships?”

“Starfleet reckons at least three quarters-” Kira paused when an officer walked by before continuing on once the officer was out of earshot. “Three quarters of the Jem'Hadar ships have incurred little to no damage, so we're talking at least 750 ships at full operational capacity.”

“What are the Jem'Hadar doing?” asked Megan rhetorically. “They could detonate the trilithium bombs at any time and yet they don't!”

“I don't know what is delaying them, but let us hope they'll be delayed long enough until we arrive!”

“And did admiral Nechayev give the reason why the Jem'Hadar decimated the fourth fleet?”

Kira nodded in a weary manner. “The Jem'Hadar ships were all cloaked, and they then ambushed the entire fleet... It was a massacre. But the only piece of good news is that a majority of Jem'Hadar ships sustained at least minor damage, and this will probably affect their cloaking systems, hopefully to the point where we could detect their ships even if they are cloaked!”

“You do know that we're purposefully walking into a trap here?” said Megan, sounding a little condescending. “The Jem'Hadar could detonate the trilithium bombs from the moment the armada arrives in the Sol system!”

“It's a risk I'm willing to take,” answered Kira, “and if you're suggesting we back out because of the danger, well that is an option I refuse to take!”

Megan looked a little wounded at Kira’s comment. “I never said we shouldn't attempt to save the Sol system, but the odds are stacked against us!”

Kira came to a stop and turned around, while Megan did the same. “I don't care about the odds,” she said angrily while glaring at Megan. “All I care about is trying to save nine billion lives, as their only hope rests with this armada!”

And with that Kira walked off and she felt convinced that she had told Megan in no uncertain terms that giving up was out of the question. As she walked back to the bridge, a little pang of regret sprung up when she realised she had been a little harsh on Megan. But if she had been harsh that was because she had been venting her anger out.

These last few days had been extraordinarily surreal and trying for Kira, but she had to control all of her feelings being the Defiant’s commander. To have detachment in a situation like this seemed impossible to her, but somehow she had found the strength and commitment to do so and get through the last three days.


***


Inside the engine room, Kira made her usual once in every three hour round trip to the engine room to check on the warp core. She found Blank crouching down examining the readings of a monitor placed next to the railing, which surrounded the warp core.

“How is the warp drive holding chief?” she asked, when she was a few feet away from Blank.

“Badly,” said Blank, who then stood up, while a considerable frown lined his face. “It's not designed to maintain such high warp velocities, and we've sustained warp 9.5 for close to three days now! The entire warp drive is overheating, and key components like the deuterium injectors, the matter-antimatter chamber are being subjected to stresses and heats just above their design tolerance.”

“But can we sustain warp 9.5 for the duration of the journey?” said Kira, asking the same question each and every time she came to meet Blank.

“The warp drive should last that long,” replied Blank, though he sounded super cautious about that prospect. “But afterwards it won't be doing anything above warp five. I also suspect that most of the warp drive components will need to be replaced due to premature degradation.”

“I promise you chief when this is all over, and when the Sol system has been made safe, you can have all the time in the world repairing the warp drive.”

“You really mean it?” inquired Blank, lightening up considerably. “No tight schedules or deadlines?” he added in a hopeful voice.

“Well I wouldn't go that far,” warned Kira. “Just keep this engine together until we arrive in the Sol system and you'll have my deepest gratitude...”

Blank nodded and went over to another monitor on the right side of the room.

Kira gave the warp core a little glance, and she noticed the rapid pulsing blue lights, as all that plasma, matter and antimatter mixed at a furious rate. She really hoped the warp core would make it, otherwise it meant a delay in arriving at the Sol system, and each hour missed was another hour where the Sol system was in grave jeopardy.

As she walked out of the engine room and back to the bridge, she realised that she was developing an attachment to this ship, or more precisely a growing fondness of the Defiant. This had to be the bond between ship and captain which she had heard Ezri and Benjamin Sisko talk about.


***


Day 4, 1600 hours

As Coplin finalised the arena match specifications on a padd, his work was interrupted when on the console screen before him, a message came up. Breathing out deeply and sharply, Coplin tossed the padd against his desk and checked the message. It was another communication from general Vestrap. Wearily he opened the comm link. “General now is not the time for-”

“Why haven't you detonated the trilithium bombs?” demanded Vestrap, and his whole face was alight with anger and impatience.

“Listen Vestrap,” snarled Coplin, his temper fraying considerably, “I don't give a damn about your plan to destroy Earth, or attacking the Federation or whatever else it is you're plotting. I can detonate the trilithium bombs at any time I like, but I'm waiting until the arena is ready.”

The indignation on Vestrap’s face grew. “This was not part of the agreement we had!”

Coplin smiled a rather nasty smile at Vestrap, and it felt good insulting the general’s sensibilities. “I don't think you understand what I intend to do, even as we speak there are trillions of people watching on their holovisions concerning the escalating situation in the Sol system. I'm not doing this for money or for you, I'm doing it for personal glory. No one will forget my name once I'm done, I'll be the man who destroyed the Sol system and Earth, something which even the Borg haven't managed to do!”

He broke off the comm link, and resumed his work on the padd he had just disregarded. If he was lucky it would be the last time Vestrap would contact him. Mind you good luck had eluded Coplin this day, as there had been an unexpected problem with the portable arena’s fusion core.

Without the fusion core operational, the arena match could not take place. It would take two days to repair and it would be cutting it very fine as the Starfleet/Klingon armada would be arriving in just over two days and a bit. Still Coplin did not feel too concerned, he could still at any moment detonate the trilithium bombs, and this ace in the hole of his was still there.

For a moment Coplin stopped his work and opened up a draw below his desk. From there he took out the site-to-site transporter device and looked at it. He wondered if he should bother using it. Even if he was successful and he destroyed the Sol system, he doubted that the Tren were going to give him a warm welcome. They struck him as a rather unpleasant race, but still was dying in a blaze of glory really worth it just to avoid them?


***


Day 5, 1500 hours

Kira was on board the Klingon flagship, after beaming over to have a meeting with Martok and Ross about the battle plan for assaulting the Sol system. She met the two in the flagship’s wardroom, where Martok was sat down on a chair by one end of the table, while Ross stood by a screen some metres away from Martok.

She picked a chair opposite to Martok and waited for Ross to begin.

Once Kira had sat down Ross began the meeting, and activated the screen which then displayed an image of the Sol system. “I don't need to remind you all of the dangerous nature of this operation and at all times the Jem'Hadar will constantly have the upper hand against us. But I know this won't deter either of you, and it doesn't deter me either. The Sol system hast to be protected no matter what the cost. Now we know where the trilithium bombs are located and that is in this space station.”

He then tapped a command and the space station was displayed on the screen. “Giving the trace amount of trilithium detected, Federation scientists have estimated that the trilithium explosives have to be detonated no less than 200 kilometres from the sun's corona to cause the sun to go supernova. Any distance greater and the trilithium will detonate harmlessly. Currently the Apocalypse space station is 150 km away from the Sun's corona.

“Any closer and the station's thrusters will not be enough to withstand the pull of the sun's gravity. So we all have to do is get a minimum of twenty ships surrounding the station, and then applying tractor beams, we can drag the station into a safe position, greater than 200 kilometres, in less than half a minute. Of course with more ships that time will further decrease.”

There was a pause after Ross's lengthy explanation, and Ross walked away from the screen and took up a chair next to Kira.

“It will be hard just getting one ship to the station,” mentioned Kira, “as the Jem'Hadar will fight for every cubic kilometre of space.”

“Hard but not impossible,” said Martok, and he briefly gave the displayed space station a mean glare. “My ships will attempt to punch a hole straight through the Jem'Hadar lines, but we're going to need every fighter squadron available if this attack will work.”

“I can command the fighter squadrons,” offered Kira, “the Defiant will lead them, and carry out hit and run attacks on the Jem'Hadar lines. Also the Defiant will attempt to disable the trilithium bombs by launching a concentrated gamma ray burst directed at the station, but to do this my ship will need substantial cover.”

“My ships can provide that cover,” said Martok, nodding slightly in agreement with Kira’s plan.

“Still,” said Ross, “even if you manage to send a gamma ray burst onto the station, we are still proceeding with the attempt to tractor beam the station away from the danger zone.”

“Good idea,” replied Kira, “knowing Apocalypse they must have taken measures to protect the trilithium bombs from a gamma ray burst.”

“My thoughts precisely,” agreed Martok, he then looked rather seriously into Ross’ eyes. “It will be up to you admiral to make sure the Jem'Hadar ships don't try to flank the armada's assaulting divisions as they try to neutralise the threat of these trilithium bombs!”

Ross looked rather thoughtful as he said, “By splitting the ships under my command in two groups, I can keep both sides of the divisions heading for the station safe, and if possible flank the Jem'Hadar.”

“Then it is settled,” said Martok with a tone of finality to his voice. “If all goes to plan then a portion of the armada should arrive at the station, and move it away to a safe area and in doing so saving the Sol system!”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 20 2012, 12:00 AM   #179
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 1

Day 6, 1100 hours

Even though Ezri had done this dozens of times before, she found today was really difficult to put on her armour. The truth was she felt nervous, more than nervous, terrified that her team would not win this match. She knew that winning this match somehow corresponded with disabling the trilithium bombs, but if she and her team mates were the only ones who could save the Sol system, then the responsibility thrust upon her was immense.

She saw herself in an impossible situation because somehow she had to save billions of lives, and yet complete a match which she inwardly knew could not be won. Coplin must have made it like this, because if it had been her she would have made a plan to detonate the trilithium bombs as foolproof as possible.

Finally Ezri managed to get her armour on, and she noticed she was not the only one who looked nervous, or jumpy. By some chance she was the last person to kit up, and even Max had managed to place his armour on before her.

“This armour is so tight,” commented Max, wincing as he tested out his body’s mobility. “How on Earth do you guys move around so nimbly?”

“You get used to it eventually…” said Ezri, as she ignored the mild chafing around her thighs and bust. It was the sort of chafing that required a dermal regenerator to heal the blisters and sore spots. Still she knew that the chafing paled in comparison to be hitting by a plasma round, or getting struck by a blade from a slasher.

“There is one good thing about this match,” added Nog, “and that’s we don’t have to hear Dallas and Juanita commentating.”

“If that is a good thing,” replied Jake, who looked, as usual before any match, pretty dire. “You know if Coplin really is hell bent on destroying the Sol system, he wouldn’t have made this match winnable.”

“I know that,” said Ezri wearily, “but we have to try regardless.”

No sooner did the words come out of her mouth, then did the landing bay hatch open, and moments later Team UFP walked out. They came to a tiny corridor which lead to a door, Ezri came close to it and then raised her rifle when the door opened. She expected trouble but there was none.

Walking inside the circular shaped room, Ezri noticed a wide screen directly in front of her. While her team gathered around it, Ezri quickly examined the touch pad just below the screen and deduced where the activation command was placed. Pressing it she saw the whole screen fill up with a image of Coplin, who was sitting by his desk. Ezri then realised that it was a recording of some kind

Then some seconds later the recording activated, and Coplin’s voice came out softly from the screen’s inbuilt speakers. “When this recording is activated it will commence the two hour countdown for the trilithium bombs which are to be detonated in the control room, adjacent to the fusion reactors. Your objective Team UFP is simple, to reach the control room, and deactivate the fusion reactors. Once the reactors are deactivated the triggering mechanism for the trilithium bombs will be neutralised, and you would have saved the entire Sol system.”

A nasty smile then came upon Coplin’s face. “However should the two hours you have elapse, the trilithium bombs will explode, destroying the arena, and causing the sun to go supernova, and destroying the Sol system as we know it. You will find that your helmets have been slightly modified, so that the countdown is displayed on your visor. Furthermore there is no need to navigate this station as the course you are about to start is completely linear in nature. As I speak about a half a minute has already lapsed, so I wouldn’t stand around if I were you.”

The recording ended and Ezri felt stunned; the gauntlet had been laid down, and somehow she and her team had to accomplish the impossible.

There was a shocked silence from the whole group, though Jake was the first one to speak. “How the hell are we going to get to the control room and deactivate the fusion reactors in less than two hours?”

Ezri finally found a little determination and iron-hard grit, it gave her the strength to face whatever the match threw at her. “I tell you how,” she replied in gravelly tones. “We either do all of that or die trying! It is as simple as that!”

Most of the team nodded in agreement, however Holo was looking rather flustered. “Something’s wrong, my Apocalypse programming hasn’t activated!”

“But can you still fight without it?” asked Ezri impatiently.

“I can,” said Holo, who was now regaining his composure. “But my sensory capabilities will be considerably reduced without it!”

“You’ll just have to make do without the programming then, now lets get moving!”

As usual Ezri lead the way, striding down a rather long corridor. The list of disadvantages and handicaps grew: first no mission controller, then a selection of only three weapons, then each team member was allowed to carry only two rockets and four slabs of ritox explosive, then no PCD’s and now finally Holo's Apocalypse programming had not been activated.

Ezri had been counting on Holo, as he was the most deadliest member of her team. As the door at the end of the corridor came closer, she lowered her visor, and as she did so she noticed the red countdown figures on the bottom right corner of the visor display. There was only an hour and 58 minutes left…

When she came to the door, she raised her rifle, and when the door opened and she walked through it, there was this massive cylindrical shaped room that stretched as far as the eye could see.

And there a hundred metres in front of her was an entire platoon of combat droids, Jem’Hadar and other enemies waiting for her and the team. Ezri fired her rifle, taking some pot shots at the hordes of enemies, and ran to the nearest bit of cover she could find. Already this match was turning out to be exactly what she feared…


***


Day 6, 1220 hours

Kira looked at the viewscreen which showed a five hundred strong line of Jem’Hadar ships. This was just the first line of Jem’Hadar defences, and Kira knew it would be an almighty struggle to penetrate through their lines. From the control panel to the left of her chair, she activated the inter-ship communications audio channel.

“This is colonel Kira to all squadron divisions, our mission is simple; we advance straight to the Apocalypse station, and penetrate through the Jem’Hadar lines no matter what the cost. There is no turning back the moment we engage the Jem’Hadar ships, we either defeat them or we do not. Kira out.”

Switching off the audio channel, she then focused on matters on board her ship. “Are all systems fully operation?” she asked.

“Weapons and shields are ready,” reported Megan.

“As are sensors,” said Tanya

“All systems check,” replied the helm officer.

Blank was the last one to report. “Impulse engines and thrusters are at peak efficiency, but this ship will only manage warp five.”

“Good enough,” replied Kira, though in all honesty having decent warp speed was not high on her list of essentials. “Alright people you know what we have to do. Ms Dawson contact chancellor Martok’s ship!”

“Channel open,” said Tanya.

There on the viewscreen, was Martok sitting on the commander’s chair of the Klingon flagship’s bridge. He seemed to be in the process of dismissing an officer handing to him a report.

“Chancellor the fighter squadrons are ready,” said Kira. “I await your command to begin the assault.”

Martok gave a quick flick of his hand to remove the Klingon officer out of sight. “Admiral Ross has told me his ships are ready…” His gaze sharpened up, and his eyes seemed to come alight at the prospect of the imminent battle. “Make no mistake colonel if we win, songs will be sung of this day. Deploy your fighter squadrons, we stop at nothing until we get to that Apocalypse station! Qapla’!”

The channel closed, and this was the order Kira had been waiting for. “This is colonel Kira to all fighter squadrons, begin the assault.”

///

The Defiant was the first ship to move, and then four waves-of a hundred Starfleet and Klingon fighters combined-of ships moved behind the Defiant. Just behind the fighter squadrons were the Klingon ships and they all moved as one towards a stationary line of five hundred Jem’Hadar ships. There were tens of millions kilometres between the two forces, but that distance gradually reduced as the Klingon and Starfleet squadrons approached.

///

Kira rigidly sat upon the commander’s chair, as the image of the Jem’Hadar ships steadily expanded on the viewscreen.

“Approaching the Jem’Hadar ships commander,” reported Megan, “we’re less than a hundred kilometres away!”

“Aim for the Jem’Hadar warships,” said Kira, “we need to destroy them otherwise the Klingon destroyers and battleships will have a right fight on their hands!”

///

As the four fighter squadrons approached, the ships than started to branch out as they aimed for each warship at the front of the Jem’Hadar line. The Klingon and Starfleet fighters came closer, until once they were a kilometre away, fired a deluge of torpedoes at the Jem’Hadar warships. The Jem’Hadar ships then responded in kind, and some of the Jem’Hadar fighters broke out of formation to pursue the tail end of the Klingon and Starfleet fighter squadrons.

The Defiant continued in the lead, followed closely behind by fifty other fighters, with phaser banks blazing and firing at the Jem’Hadar ships on both the port and starboard side. Jem’Hadar torpedo and phaser fire repeatedly struck the Defiant’s, and other fighter’s, shields. But the Defiant, designed to take this sort of punishment, held up.

However five of the fighters following it did not, and they exploded in a blaze of metal shards and billowing plumes of fire.

///

Shaking and the groaning of the Defiant’s frame occurred each time a Jem’Hadar torpedo managed to penetrate through a momentary weakness in the ship’s shields. Kira clung onto her chair’s hand rests, but she felt confident about the Defiant, it would hold together.

“Approaching one of those Jem’Hadar dreadnought class ships!” said Tanya whose hands moved at light speed as she sorted out both sensor readings and sent out communications to nearby ships.

“Ms Dawson,” said Kira, “tell the first, second and forth fighter squadrons to flank around and regroup with the Klingon part of the fleet! Tell the third squadron, our squadron, to loosen formation slightly and that we’re heading for the Jem’Hadar dreadnought!”

“That ship could take out most of the fighter squadrons!” replied Megan, sounding a little worried.

“The Jem’Hadar only have three of these ships,” explained Kira, “and we’ll make one pass around the dreadnought before regrouping with the fleet!”

Kira herself was a little worried about the Jem’Hadar dreadnought, if the fighters could not weaken it sufficiently before the bulk of the Klingon forces arrived at the Defiant’s position, then a lot of Klingon ships would be lost.

///

Over ninety fighters gathered around the Defiant, in a wide formation, and then dived down upon the Jem’Hadar dreadnought. The huge ship fired from its fifty phaser banks, and struck nine of the fighters with crippling blows, either destroying them or taking out a good chunk of the fighter's framework.

The fighters rained down phaser fire and torpedoes at the dreadnought’s shields, while some of that fire penetrated through, and small explosions occurred where the ordinance struck the dreadnought, ripping up a little of the hull plating.

///

“We’ve lost nine fighters!” shouted Tanya to make herself heard above the roar of the ship shaking.

Kira knew it would get ugly assaulting the dreadnought and the Defiant would get a serious pounding, but there was a method to her madness.

“We’re behind the dreadnought now colonel!” said Megan, whose left hand was literally twitching above the torpedo controls as if desperate to fire.

Here comes the crippling blow thought Kira. “Ms Felpes ready two of the flux torpedoes, and aim directly for the dreadnought’s engines!”

///

The Defiant launched from its aft torpedo launchers two green coloured flux torpedoes. They sped through space, penetrating through the dreadnought’s shields as if they weren’t there. Each torpedo hit one engine respectively, and the moment they made contact, a huge yellowish, green explosion burst out of the torpedoes casing and enveloped the back half of the dreadnought.

The explosions were so powerful that the dreadnought pitched upwards by more than twenty degrees to the horizontal, and once the fireballs disappeared, there were two bowl shaped indents upon the dreadnought where the torpedoes had struck. Dozens of decks could be seen, and far smaller secondary explosions still occurred at the edges of the exposed decks. Still despite such damage, the dreadnought continued firing its phaser banks at the fighters.

///

“Direct hit colonel,” said Megan, a little smile briefly appearing on her face. “We disabled both the dreadnought’s engines!”

“Good,” replied Kira, glad that her assault plan had worked. “Ms Dawson signal to our fighter squadron that we are regrouping with the fleet!”

Still the dreadnought was nowhere even near to being overpowered, and Kira wondered just how many assault runs her fighter squadrons would have to complete before that ship was finally destroyed or rendered too heavily damaged to pose a threat to the Klingon and Starfleet vessels.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 20 2012, 12:01 AM   #180
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 2

It had been one long struggle for Ezri, and her team, as they fought their way through corridor after corridor, trap after trap, and a whole wave of other nasties. But finally with 35 minutes to spare, they had made it to the outside of the control room.

“We made it,” breathed Jake, gazing at the massive doors leading to the control room.

“Not quite we've got to get past these doors,” said Holo.

Nog walked over and gave a good look at the central locking mechanism on the doors. “Hmm, magnetic lock...”

Jake raised his gun, and seemed ready to blast the locking mechanism.

“Don't shoot the lock!” warned Nog, and he placed a hand above Jake’s rifle and lowered it. “It could be booby-trapped.”

After shaking his head, Nog returned to the lock, and began fumbling around trying to prise the lock’s panel off with his hands.

While Nog did that, Ezri looked around wearily in case of any further ambushes, but so far it seemed the unrelenting pressure and danger had passed for the time being.

Nog made a little cry of satisfaction when he prised the panel off. “Let's see,” he said to himself, as he lowered down, and moved his head closer to the lock to examine the inside components. “Got it!” he said a few moments later.

Sure enough the doors opened, but then an explosion came from the locking mechanism. At once Ezri dived down onto the floor, and she felt some metal objects hit against her armour suit with tremendous force. She got back up to her feet immediately, realising that no harm had been done to her body, but her attention was instantly diverted to Nog who was now yelping in pain.

Walking over Ezri saw what had happened to him. He had taken the brunt of the shrapnel, and sure enough his arms, torso and helmet were plastered with metal debris. “Jake move Nog behind that bulkhead, when you’ve done that I’ll check this door for any more booby traps!”

Once Jake had moved Nog, Ezri then focused upon the door and noticed the faint outlines of what seemed to be additional explosive devices. Taking some steps backwards to what she thought was a safe distance, she fired a round from her rifle at each of these devices. The moment the round hit the device it exploded and spewed out more shrapnel.

“There I think's it safe to go through now,” she told the team. “Jake take Nog.”

“Leave me captain,” said Nog, “just get to those fusion reactors and deactivate them.”

Ezri walked over to Nog. “You are the best engineer I know of,” she told Nog, and she briefly nodded to Jake to help Nog back up. “Don't you die on me now!”

Her team went behind her, as she took the lead and walked past the tall and thick doors leading into the control room.


***


Coplin watched from the command room two displays, one a tactical display of all the ships deployed in the Sol system, and another one showing team UFP in the arena match. He looked at the counter on the top of the arena match display and saw that there were thirty minutes left before the trilithium bombs exploded.

He braced himself against the circular platform, where the displays were projected, when the ship shook again. The Starfleet/Klingon armada had gained far more ground than he had expected, and team UFP had come close to their goal, to close… It was time to settle matters on his own and he then promptly moved over to the room’s transporter pad.

One of the officers followed him. “Sir where are you going?”

“To cargo bay five,” said Coplin as he punched in the coordinates on the console controlling the transporter.

Without another word he stepped on the transporter pad and stood there as he dematerialized. While that was happening he could not help smiling to himself; he had a little surprise for team UFP…


***


Team UFP slowly advanced forwards into the huge engineering room. Black duranium columns housing plasma conduits were symmetrically placed in the room. Numerous computer consoles were gathered around the columns, while to the team’s right were rather opaque, protective panels trapping in the heat from the fusion core. The panels glowed orange, and bands of light, coming from the fusion core itself, appeared in a sequence going from bottom to top, and then starting from the bottom again.

Ezri glanced around the poorly lit room, and felt a sense of unease descend upon her. One half of the room to her right was fairly well lit, but she felt deeply uneasy about the left half as in places it seemed to be pitch black. Briefly she glanced up at the ceiling and saw that many of the lighting strips had been damaged, more than likely deliberately so by Apocalypse.

“Wait!” said Holo suddenly. “I heard something to the left.”

The whole team froze, and Ezri walked over to Holo. “What's the matter?”

“We're not alone,” said Holo his eyes were constantly fixed upon the left side of the room.

“Max,” said Ezri, “you take up the rear, Jake keep supporting Nog, and let’s slowly advance over to the master control terminals in front of us.”

Ezri, Holo and Max fanned out slightly in a triangular position, with Ezri and Holo at the front, while Jake, who was supporting Nog, took up the centre. There was another disturbance and glancing around Ezri saw some barrels fall down in one corner of the room to her left. This did not feel right to her, because those barrels seemed to have fallen down of their own accord. Something was watching them, whether machine or beast she could not ascertain...

“Show yourself!” she shouted, and she fired a round at some point to the left.

The phaser round streaked through the air, briefly illuminating all that was nearby, and just briefly Ezri saw something shimmer in the darkness. Just briefly she managed to make out the outline of some sort of machine. “I definitely saw something move, it looked like a robot, one which has camo-plating. Max I want you to head to the computer terminals, we’ll cover you.”

Max cautiously approached the computer terminals, and he took his time, he was constantly looking from left to right and back again.

Then the air literally shimmered in front of him, and a three metre high exoskeleton machine appeared, with Coplin on the controls. Only Coplin’s head was visible, but there was no mistaking the triumphant grin on his face. “So after all that effort trying to stay alive through the death course, you now reach a dead-end when you are so close to your objective... It's so poetic…”

“It's over Coplin!” shouted Max. “Have the good grace to surrender!”

“I don't think so. You see those crates over there?” Coplin moved the machine’s left arm to point at the rather non-suspecting crates close to the protective casing of the fusion reactor. “They contain trilithium explosives, once the countdown commences they cannot be disarmed, any attempt to tamper with the countdown mechanism will result in a premature detonation. By my chronometer there are only twenty minutes remaining, and you my brother, and your team, will die on live holovision in front of trillions.”

Pure rage consumed Ezri; evil like this had to be destroyed no matter what the cost. “We'll see about that!” she yelled, raising her rifle straight at Coplin’s face. “Fire!”

She, Max and Holo fired at Coplin’s machine, which was trying to dodge the phaser fire, while Jake moved Nog to cover behind a column.

Coplin’s walker was surprisingly agile and it kept up with the pace Ezri, Max and Holo were running at. Wielding the machine’s right arm, Coplin fired the arm’s double mounted plasma cannons.

Ezri dived behind a column to avoid the four inch wide yellow coloured rounds. Looking around she saw that Coplin’s machine had vanished, and she could not believe a machine of that nature could be so silent.

“There he is!” shouted Holo. “Switch to your infrared vision, you can see the damaged camo plating around the top of the machine!”

Sure enough Ezri switched her visor setting to infrared, and for a moment her heart stopped beating. She saw a mass of orange and red against the blue of the room; Coplin was only metres away from her.

With one massive swipe of the machine’s left arm, Coplin swatted Ezri like a fly.

Pain erupted all over Ezri’s body as she went flying, before crumpling on her back, five metres away, against a console. Her impact was so hard it shattered the protective casing around the console’s touch pad.

Though she felt battered, she did not feel any broken bones, and she realised that the electro-stasis armour had done its job well. Although how many knocks like that it could take she could not be sure of. Jumping onto her feet, she returned back to the fray, where Max and Holo were dodging around Coplin’s machine.

Ezri had no idea what this fight would accomplish, they had ran out of explosives and rockets halfway through the arena. All her team had were plasma rifles, which would barely make a dent on the machine’s armour. She knew her team could not beat Coplin, and that he would overpower them all in the end, but she would fight with her last dying breathe to try and stop Coplin…


***


The Defiant was finally in position by the Apocalypse station, and though it had taken a battering, Kira was proud of the ship has it had endured. “How long until the deflector dish is ready?” she asked Blank.

“Another minute.”

“Shields are down to thirty percent,” reported Megan, “we may not hold together for that long!”

Kira inputted some commands on the control panel to her left. “I'm sending a message to the nearest Starfleet and Klingon vessels, they'll provide some covering fire for us!”

When she completed that, she then simply gritted her teeth, and grabbed her hands tightly on the chair’s hand rests. With each shake of the Defiant Kira gripped a little harder and mentally she told the ship to hang in there and hold itself together for a little longer. She really hoped the gamma ray burst would work, and that all the hard effort to get to the station had not been in vain.

“The deflector dish is ready!”

“Ms Felpes lower the shields,” ordered Kira. “Chief fire!”

On the viewscreen there was no visible indication of anything being discharged, but Kira knew these were gamma rays and invisible on the usual light spectrum. Still she desperately waited for her science officer to report on what had happened to the trilithium bombs.

“The trilithium particles are breaking down!” reported Tanya.

Kira should have felt relieved but she did not, she would only feel happy once the Apocalypse station was more than two hundred kilometres away from the sun’s corona.

///

In the control room, team UFP suddenly collapsed onto the floor, while Holo’s projection disappeared and his holographic emitter fell to the floor with a clunk. Ezri, Max, Nog and Jake where moaning in agony as the intense gamma radiation energised their cells and slowly burnt their skin.

While Coplin’s exoskeleton machine blew out numerous sparks as the machine’s power conduits overloaded due to the gamma radiation. The machine then fell backwards, while inside the machine Coplin writhed in agony as the radiation destroyed his cells.

With a massive crashing sound the machine fell against numerous consoles crushing them. Then there was a hush, a deathly-like hush which enveloped the control room as the machines and remaining functioning consoles hummed and whirred quietly as they were supposed to...

///

“Dawson you do detect any life signs onboard the portable arena?” asked Kira.

“I detect six, they're pretty weak. Looks like three humans, a Trill, a Ferengi and a hologram.”

Kira felt a surge of hope, against all the odds are missing colleagues were still alive, here on this station. It seemed too unbelievable to be true, but it had to be team UFP, because it was comprised of two humans, a Trill, a Ferengi and a hologram. She wanted to send an away team to rescue them immediately but that option, for the time being, was out of the question.

“Has the gamma radiation dissipated to safe levels?” she asked Tanya.

“It's still pretty high, if you beamed over into the arena, you wouldn't last one minute without the radiation breaking up every cell in your body.”

“I'm going in with a security contingent,” replied Kira, and she looked around and saw Bashir, who had arrived on the bridge to see if the gamma burst had worked. “Doctor give the away team your strongest radiation inoculant,” she ordered.

Bashir did not look too happy about her order. “Even then you would only have at most fifteen minutes before the radiation would start breaking down your cells,” he said, sounding somewhat protesting.

“Good enough for me,” said Kira. “Ms Felpes you have the bridge,” she added, and at once she left the bridge to prepare a security contingent.
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Caption contest: DS9
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