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Old June 6 2010, 11:28 PM   #76
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

May 2010 Challenge - Ships Named Enterprise

“NX-01 Tells All”

First, I’d like to thank mari for this opportunity to speak my mind. I have a few things I need to get off my ventral plates that have been bothering me. If there are any small children in the room, you might want them to leave for a few minutes. I’m going to vent some plasma and someone might get burned.

My name is Enterprise. The NX-01. The first and the baddest. ‘Course, to read the comments of some of the fanboys on this site, you’d think I was the starship designed in hell. Akiraprise? Please. The Akiras never looked this good on their best days.

Yeah, I’ve heard the snide comments – deflector dish all wrong, too futuristic, funky engineering layout, azteked like a tramp. You’re breaking my containment chamber. Not. You think a few insults bother me? Ha! My plating is a LOT tougher than that – without polarizing. (Sniff.) What? No – I’m fine. Just give me a second. See that extended middle claw on my grappling cable? That’s for you, fanboys. Jerks. (Sniff.)

Don’t forget! – mine was the only series named “Enterprise.” The show was about me, not those stupid carbon-based lifeforms that did their level best to fly me into a fluxxin’ planet. Don’t get me started. There would be no “Star Trek” without ships named Enterprise. What were those two-legged prima-donnas going to do – hitchhike to strange new worlds? I don’t think so. As if the crews mattered anyway. Any random group of Terran Chimpanzees could have done what these bozos did each week, probably without nearly destroying me and my sisters in the process. Do you know how many times I came close to a core breach? Let me tell you – my relays ached for days after each time.

Oh, but I will say something about Captain Jonathan “Boy Scout” Archer. What a d******. The guy was the most ADD officer in Starfleet, and they put him in MY center seat. What the . . . ? And that stupid quadruped he brought on-board - Porthos. What kind of stupid name is that for a Beagle? My carpets still smell like dog pee. Thanks, Archer – thanks a lot! Moron.

The rest of my crew was a mixed lot. “Trip” Tucker wasn’t too bad – at least when he wasn’t stoned. (What? you never wondered why he was called “Trip?”) At least T’Pol understood me. I have to agree with her – humans do smell funny. Every so often, I have to flush out my hydrogen collectors with deuterium to clear the odor. I was tempted on more than one occasion to open all the air-locks and clean house, if you know what I mean.

What’s that? What do I think about my sisters? Okay – since you asked.

Contrary to what you read in the tabloids (and the fan art boards) I have the utmost love and respect for 1701. Yes, she’s always been the pretty one and most popular – but I could deal with that. I was never jealous – she was such a sweet starship. But she was pretty messed up, you know? Having James “Testosterone” Kirk on board would drive any starship over the edge. And then she got a little older and the big shots decided, “Hey sweetie – how about a makeover? A little face lift?” She went along – what else could she do? But they turned her into a slut. Bastards. Finally, Kirk drove her over the edge. Sure, the movie showed him initiating the self-destruct sequence. I think she took her own life. It was so tragic. I hope Kirk burns in hell.

What? 1701-A? Don’t make me laugh! That floozy was a second-rate stand in for my sister. Oh sure, she had the looks and lines – but it was always that bitch, Yorkie, under the makeup. Whore. Even that idiot Scotty couldn’t work with her. He was nearly as bad as Kirk. I remember 1701 used to cry about him. She would never go into detail but I knew he did things to her – awful, perverted things. Miracle worker? In his dreams. If he ever gets close to me, I’ll send a torpedo up his fat impulse vent!

Enterprise-B never had a chance. Poor thing – she was always self conscious about her bust-line, if you catch my drift. Damned producers! Wanted her to be “enhanced.” She used to cry herself to sleep in space-dock. Captain “Cub Scout” Harrison was a joke! I have it on good authority that he was a bed-wetter. And who shows up for her debut but James “Teh Awesome” Kirk, the fat bastard! They claimed he “saved” her. Left her deformed, is what he did. She was never the same after that. I lost touch, but I think she joined a starship convent. If there is a Designer, I hope He sends Kirk to the deepest level of Sto'Vo'Kor where fat, sweaty Klingons practice docking maneuvers on him for eternity. What? Bitter? No, I'm not bitter.

Enterprise-C was another sweetie, but she was always self-conscious about her weight. The other starships used to call her the Ham-bassador class. She wasn’t really fat, she just had big girders. But she was tough! God love her, she showed those harpy Romulan ships! Her Captain was really nice, too – one of the few humans I respected. Shame Captain Garrett died, but carbon-based lifeforms aren’t very sturdy. No offense. I miss C. She was a classy girl and a lot of fun at parties. She was really nice too – always made the Constellation-class ships feel welcome at get-togethers. (They were always self-conscious about having four nacelles. Honestly, that creeped me out, but hey! Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, etc, etc. I’m open-minded.)

Now, I know you’ve heard that Dee and I didn’t get along. Sadly – that’s true. She thought she was all-that. The girl was nothing more than a cruise-ship with teeth. Oh, she was catty. The girl had a galaxy-sized ego to go with her galaxy-sized ass. “Flag-ship” of the fleet!” Huh! More like hag-ship. Did you see the big head on that girl? And those funky nacelles? She thought she was soooo sexy. Please. And that bald-headed Captain Jean “Lucky” Picard? What a pompous jerk. He abandoned that poor, sweet Stargazer. And when she finally shows up after all those years, what does he do? Pretends to go crazy? Riiight. What? Oh yeah – back to Dee. Do I miss her? What kind of question is that? She was my sister – I loved the girl, but she had issues galore. I do blame that bloated fool, Will “STD” Riker, for her death. I hope that Deanna Troi gets herself checked. Riker’s motto was to “explore strange new whores.” Jerk. Now he’s Captain of the Titan. Can’t spell Titan without t-i-t. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The only sister I have left is E. She’s a sweetheart. We still talk from time-to-time, but I know she stays busy. I’m glad she had a chance to talk as well, so I won’t repeat what she said, except to say I agree 100%. E, I love you baby, and I’m proud of you! We Enterprisegirls have had a tough life. It hasn’t been all movies and glamour. But you keep the tradition going, girl. I love you baby sister! Come visit me at the museum when you get a chance, sweetie. I’m so proud of you! (Sniff.)

Now I’m getting all leaky. Sorry about that. Are we done here? (Sniff.) I can’t talk any more. (Sniff.) Damn – now my registry is going to smear. Does anyone have a tissue? No, no, we're done here. Get out of my deflector dish before I go weapons hot on your ass!
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Old August 2 2010, 08:13 PM   #77
Admiral2
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

July 2010 Challenge: “Myth and Mayhem”, Part 1
(4657 Words)


Stardate 54533.33 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
En route to planet Xilien IV

“Now entering system boundary,” announced the helmsman.

“Take us out of warp and proceed at maximum impulse,” ordered Captain Lars Trondheim. He turned in his command chair and addressed the diminutive Asian woman at the Operations station. “Sinja? Any response?”

Lt. Sinja Tarrawa kept her gaze within the sensor hood. “Negative, sir. No response to our hails – only the automated distress signal.”

Captain Trondheim grunted and rubbed absently at his beard. It had been nearly two hours since they first received the frantic calls for help from the mining outpost on Xilien IV. The transmission had been garbled and disjointed but the underlying message was clear: The outpost was under attack.

“Go active on sensors, Lieutenant, full power. No point trying to sneak up on the attackers – maybe we can scare them off.”

“Aye, sir,” replied Tarrawa.

“XO, sound Red Alert – its time to go weapons hot and shields up. I want one Mark 22 and one Mark 9 armed and ready in the forward tubes. Have transporter rooms standby to send down SAR teams. Make sure Chief Zuan has his team loaded out for possible combat.”

“Already on it, Skipper,” replied Commander Jacqueline Porter. The tall, dark-skinned woman brought the cutter’s tactical systems on-line with cool professionalism. “Torpedoes loaded and armed. Targeting computer on stand-by. Chief Zuan has signaled that our SAR teams are ready and standing by.”

“Very well. Helm? What’s our ETA?”

“Twelve minutes, sir.”

The Norwegian CO grimaced. Not fast enough. The attackers could be gone in twelve minutes.

“Ops, what can you tell me about the planet and the mining outpost?” queried the Captain.

“Xilien IV is marginally class M, currently experiencing a planetary ice age. Scans from the first survey vessels indicate a space-faring civilization as recently as 400 years ago, but apparently the inhabitants moved on when the climate changed. The planet is rich in dilithium and chromium - thus the mining operation. It’s run by a Rigellian consortium and there are 56 souls working the Xilien operation.”

“Do they have any defensive capabilities? Shields? Weapons?”

Lt. Tarrawa shook her head. “No sir. Xilien IV is pretty much off the regular space lanes. There haven’t been any problems with pirates out this way, so the company did not install defenses.”

“I’m sure that made the bean-counters happy,” muttered the Captain. “Sinja, replay the original distress message before the automated beacon kicked in.”

“Aye sir – it’s audio only.”

Trondheim nodded. “Let’s hear it.”

There was a momentary squeal of static before a man’s voice spoke. The fear and confusion was evident, even with the poor signal quality.

“ . . . is the Xilien IV mining colony. We are under attack by . . . ,” Heavy static drowned out the frantic man’s next few words. “Please! Any ship in the vicinity . . . this is the Xilien IV mining colony . . . we have many casualties . . . please hurry! It may come back at . . .”

The recording ended abruptly, cutting off the rest of the man’s message.

It? Not ‘they’?” remarked the Captain.

“Perhaps he was referring to a ship or aircraft,” said Commander Porter.

“Perhaps.” But Trondheim did not appear to be convinced.

“Captain? I have a visual on the mining complex,” announced Lt. Tarrawa.

“On screen, Lieutenant.”

The starscape wavered and rugged, snow-covered terrain appeared on the main viewscreen. Centered in the image were the remains of three geodesic domes that connected to a central power core. Two of the domes were utterly destroyed, the third damaged, snow and ice blasted away to reveal ugly black scars. Tendrils of thick, black smoke poured from an opening in the last dome. The remains of the sensor and communications array were scattered about. Whatever had hit the mining station had done so with devastating effect.

“Any life-signs?” asked the Captain, quietly.

Tarrawa winced slightly. “It’s difficult to tell, Captain. There’s considerable background radiation hampering our scans. It’s also possible the miners took refuge below surface in the mines.”

“Let’s hope so. Any signs of whoever attacked them?”

“No sir. There are no other vessels in the system and no life form or energy readings on the planet’s surface.”

“Could be a cloaked ship,” pointed out the XO.

“Yes, but to what end?” asked Trondheim. “We’re a long ways from Klingon or Romulan space. Besides, what would either gain by attacking a small mining operation?”

“I didn’t say they were Klingon or Romulan,” countered Porter. “Someone else could have cloaking technology – the Maquis reportedly have a few class 4 devices. As to motive . . . maybe someone down there owes the Syndicate money. Or perhaps a Borg cube dropped out of transwarp for a little target practice.”

“You’re just full of happy thoughts, Jackie,” said Trondheim, dryly. “Helm, bring us into geo-stationary orbit over the mining complex. Lt. Tarrawa, continue your scans and keep hailing the miners. Maybe someone down there will answer.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.39 (14 July 2377)
Xilien Mining Complex
Sub-level 4

John Mason sat in the near-darkness as the emergency lighting began to fail. He shivered despite the warmth of the subterranean caverns that led down into the heart of the mine. It was fear, not cold, that caused him to tremble.

The day had begun as a routine work shift for Mason. He had enjoyed a large breakfast in dome B and was suiting up for work when the first tremors hit.

Ground quakes were not uncommon in the area. The entire continent was a major seismic event waiting to happen. But Mason and his co-workers had grown accustomed to the occasional rumbles and shaking. The surface domes were designed to absorb most of the shock from quakes and the special bracing and force-fields within the mine shafts provided generally good protection underground.

What Mason and the rest of the mining crew did not realize was the quake that morning opened up an ice cave that had been sealed for nearly four centuries.

The creature that had been trapped within came out of its period of hibernation, sensing the sudden rush of fresh air into the cave. It uttered a piercing shriek and spread massive wings, flinging aside heavy blocks of ice as if they were small pebbles.

With surprising grace for so large a creature, it hurled itself upward and out of its frigid prison into the foggy air of Xilien. It gained altitude like a rocket, breaking the sound barrier with a sound like cannon fire.

Some primordial instinct caused the creature to bank sharply and fly toward a point miles distant. Soon, its sharp eyes picked up three shapes on the ice that did not belong. It began its dive.

John Mason was about to enter the turbo-lift that would take him into the mines when the creature struck dome B. The sudden blast of icy air and the sound of rending metal and collapsing duracrete jolted Mason. He stumbled backward as a light panel crashed to the floor before him. A section of wall a mere ten meters away suddenly crashed down, burying two of his friends under duracrete and aluminum. Then he saw . . .

. . . Mason’s mind had difficulty comprehending what he saw next. A dark shadow fell over the opening where the wall had collapsed, then something darker still . . . dark but substantive and alive poked through the opening.

It took a few seconds for the word talon to come to his mind. Part of him wanted to flee, but he was entranced – frozen in place with fear.

The talons spread and grasped Glenda Ayers – the Beta Shift Foreman. She was dazed but began to scream as the talons tightened around her midsection until her breath was cut off.

Their eyes met momentarily. She looked confused, her expression seemed to say, “This isn’t happening . . .” Then she was gone.

Mason’s heart hammered within his chest. He glanced around for a way of escape. The turbo-lift doors were half-open and the lift car was dark. No escape there. Just ahead, though, was the ladder alcove that led down into the mines. If he could make it there . . .

A blast of wind like a hurricane nearly took him off his feet. The sound that accompanied the violent tempest was louder than anything he had ever heard – perhaps the main reactor had exploded?

The wind abated as quickly as it rose. The smell that lingered made his stomach twist. The acrid stench of blood and excrement was strong now – Mason did not require much imagination to figure out the source.

He began to move toward the ladder alcove when something dark again appeared in the jagged opening of the corridor wall.

It was an eye.

The eye regarded him with a deadly reptilian coldness. Mason could see his own reflection in the dark orb which was easily twice his height. The elliptical pupil was surrounded by green and gold and tracked him as he tried to sidle past.

With uncanny speed the eye disappeared to be replaced by a massive, gray beak – its edges serrated and deadly. Something hung limply from the monstrous beak.

It was an arm.

With a strangled scream, Mason hurled himself toward the ladder alcove as the monster began to work itself through the debris, widening the opening in the wall. He managed to slam the door behind him just as a deafening shriek reverberated down the corridor – a massive blast of wind nearly tearing the door from its supports.

Mason, long-practiced in traversing the ladders, hurled himself at the twin rails and allowed gravity to pull him downward into the darkened caverns below, ignoring the pain as friction burned his hands.

* * *

Stardate 54533.41 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
Geo-stationary orbit over Xilien IV


“We’re holding at 225 kilometers above the mining complex, sir,” announced Ensign Guaraldi from the helm.

“Still no vessels within scanning range,” said Lt. Tarrawa. “Tachyon detection is negative for cloaking devices.”

“That would seem to eliminate the Klingons and the Maquis,” observed Captain Trondheim as he turned toward Commander Porter.

“But not the Romulans,” parried the XO.

Trondheim shook his head. “It doesn’t fit, Jackie. The Romulans have enough problems of their own to raid a small outfit like this. There’s no strategic or tactical advantage to be gained.”

“Maybe not for the Empire, but the Romulans have more factions than before the war. Any one might be willing to stir up trouble and blame it on the government.”

The Captain smiled wanly. “Never one to pass up a good conspiracy theory, are you, XO?” He became serious once more. “Notify the SAR teams they are cleared to beam down.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.42 (14 July 2377)
SAR Team 1

The first Search and Rescue team materialized in the ruins of the dining hall. They held their defensive posture – formed in a circle with weapons facing outward – until Chief Zuan lowered his phaser carbine.

“Fan out, people. Do not get out of sight of your partner. Check in every ten minutes – sooner if you find any survivors or any perps. Got it?”

Each pair acknowledged and began to move out, carefully avoiding rubble from the collapsed dome and snow-covered debris.

Corpsman First Class Rhijan ‘kel Vernas shivered and rubbed her arms. “Frak! It’s cold.”

“Turn up the heat in your body armor,” replied Zuan as he scanned the devastation with narrowed eyes. “You can’t do your job if you freeze to death.”

“Gee, Chief, I didn’t know you cared,” she replied, sarcastically.

“I don’t.” Frowning, he stepped forward a few paces and knelt. He tapped the controls on the combat scanner strapped to his forearm, checked the reading, and grunted.

Rhijan came up beside him. “What?”

Chief Zuan pointed at the snow that lay before them. “That.”

The Rigellian gazed where the CPO gestured, puzzled at first. Suddenly, her eyes widened as she realized what she was seeing.

“Is that . . . a footprint?

“Not a foot. More like a claw or talon. I’m reading trace amounts of blood and DNA in the snow . . . Human, Trill and Bajoran.”

Rhijan continued to stare at the impression in the snow. She breathed a Rigellian oath. “That has to be . . . what? 5 or 6 meters across?”

Zuan stood and nodded. “That’s about right.”

“What could have made that track?”

The Chief looked around once more at the devastated facility. “My guess? Whatever frakked this place up.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.43 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
Geo-stationary orbit over Xilien IV

“Captain!” The urgency in Tarrawa’s voice caused Trondheim’s head to snap around. “I’m picking up a transient contact moving at Mach 1.5, altitude 2,644 meters, on a direct heading toward the mining outpost. It will be on top of them in less than two minutes.”

“Hail that ship, Lieutenant! Warn them off.”

Tarrawa continued to stare into the sensor hood, a perplexed expression on her face. She shook her head in disbelief.

“Sir . . . I . . . I don’t believe it is a ship. It’s a biological.”

“Impossible!” retorted Commander Porter. “No bird can fly that fast!”

“Get me a visual, Lieutenant,” interrupted Trondheim, “and warn the SAR teams. Tell them they’ve got a fast-mover inbound and to take cover. XO, see if you can acquire a targeting lock on that thing . . . whatever the hell it is.”

Both officers acknowledged his orders and turned to their stations. Captain Trondheim turned his gaze to the viewscreen. The dense cloud cover made it difficult to clearly see the rapidly moving object at first, but it broke through momentarily, allowing them to clearly see the creature.

It was no ship – rather it was the stuff of nightmares. Trondheim was momentarily speechless as the massive creature spread leathery wings and soared, gaining altitude. It vaguely resembled a Terran pterodactyl from pre-historic times, but this thing was larger by geometric proportions. Dark brown scales surrounded horn-like spikes on its midsection while meter long claws protruded from massive talons. Its elongated head was more reptilian than birdlike.

Whatever it was, it most certainly was a clear threat to the SAR teams.

“Kaiju.”

The Captain turned toward Lt. Tarrawa who stared at the creature’s image with rapt horror.

“What was that, Lieutenant?” he asked sharply.

She seemed not to hear him. She spoke another word.

“Rodan.”

* * *
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Old August 2 2010, 08:15 PM   #78
Admiral2
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Location: Peregrine Cliff
Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Part 2


Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
SAR Team 1

“Defensive positions, everyone! We’ve got an inbound target moving at Mach speed.”

Chief Zuan’s team took up defensive positions best they could, but the veteran CPO knew they were too exposed.

“There! Look!” Corpsman 'kel Vernas pointed skyward. Zuan looked up and caught a dark object moving back and forth across the sky with uncanny agility.

“Stand-by on phasers,” he ordered over his communicator. “If that thing attacks, open up on it.”

Zuan pulled the phaser carbine up and gazed through the targeting reticule. The carbine’s tracking system beeped intermittently, then emitted a steady tone. A cold smile formed on the Chief’s lips.

“Come on, bitch – let’s dance.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
Geo-stationary orbit over Xilien IV

“I have a lock, Captain,” announced the XO, “but atmospheric ionization will diffuse our phasers and we’re too close to the away teams for torpedoes.”

“Stand-by phasers. Maybe we can scare it off.”

Porter held her finger over a blinking control stud. “Just give the word, sir.”

“Fire!”

* * *

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
SAR Team 1

A sudden red flash dazzled Ruan’s eyes, causing him to blink furiously and take his eye off the targeting reticule. At the same moment, a raucous shriek – louder than all the demons in hell – elicited a gasp of pain from Ruan as sound and pressure combined to assault his ear drums.

He was vaguely aware of a massive form passing overhead before the backdraft caught him and the rest of the SAR team – tossing them about like leaves in a gale.

Zuan landed awkwardly, his breath exploded painfully from his lungs as his diaphragm took the brunt of his collision with a pile of debris. He tumbled down the pile, coming to rest against a bank of dirty snow. He gasped desperately for air, the wind knocked from him.

He was vaguely aware that Corpsman ‘kel Vernas was leaning over him, shouting at him, but he could not understand what she was saying. All he could hear was a muffled roar that seemed to be gaining in intensity.

A shadow loomed over them, blotting out the sky. Ruan caught sudden movement as the Corpsman was snapped up by a massive beak. Burgundy blood sprayed the CPO as the lower half of ‘kel Vernas’ body toppled aside.

Screaming soundlessly, Chief Zuan opened fire with his phaser carbine – raking the monstrous creature across the face and eyes with bursts of concentrated energy.

The creature staggered, apparently in pain, shaking its massive head from side to side. Other Border Dogs began to open fire. While the phaser bursts did not kill the creature or even wound it severely, they did accomplish one thing.

They made it mad.

* * *

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
Geo-stationary orbit over Xilien IV

From the Sturgeon, Captain Trondheim and the bridge crew watched as the cutter’s phasers caught the creature between its massive wings, sending it wheeling end over end toward the planet’s surface.

Trondheim’s initial sense of relief turned to horror as the pteranodon regained control and dove toward the Border Dogs scattered in the debris of the habitat dome.

He slapped at his combadge hard enough to leave a bruise on his chest. “Bridge to transporter room one – emergency beam-out of all SAR teams, NOW!

There was a moment’s pause before the transporter technician replied. “Sir – I can’t get a transporter lock on the teams. Something is interfering with our tracking sensors.”

Trondheim felt as if he had been punched in the gut. “Keep trying. Bridge, out.” He turned to Commander Porter.

“XO, I want two Stallions launched and I want it done five minutes ago. Inform the pilots that they are to fire on the creature if it approaches.”

“Sir!” interrupted Lt. Tarrawa. “Look!”

Trondheim turned and stared at the viewscreen with incredulity. The monster was now in a steep climb.

And he was heading directly for the Sturgeon.

The XO shook her head in disbelief. “That’s not possible! There isn’t enough air to support that thing at that altitude.”

“Nonetheless, it is doing so anyway,” replied Trondheim, fascinated with the sight. “Lt. Tarrawa – what is its altitude and speed?”

The Japanese Ops officer tore her eyes from the viewscreen and checked her panel. She swallowed. “Already at 17,000 meters and climbing. Speed already exceeding Mach 1 and climbing.”

“It can’t know we’re here,” whispered Porter, her voice tight.

“And yet, it does,” replied Trondheim, his voice equally quiet but with a note of certainty. “At least it’s distracted from our people on the ground. Helm – prepare to break orbit. We may need maneuvering room.”

The helmsman acknowledged then added. “Captain – the creature will intercept us before we can clear the planet’s gravity well.”

“Of course,” thought Trondheim, “what else can go wrong today?” Aloud he said, “Just get us moving, Mister.”

The pteranodon was now a living missile, hurtling toward the Sturgeon at impossible speed. It weighed more than a Star Stallion and a collision would devastate the cutter, possibly even destroy it.

“Shields at maximum intensity,” announced Commander Porter. “Phasers charged and locked – torpedoes standing by.”

The Captain acknowledged and regarded the approaching creature with a sense of dread and wonder. Part of him loathed the idea of destroying such a magnificent creature – perhaps unique amongst the stars. But his responsibilities lay with the safety of his crew and ship. The monster had proved to be hostile and they had already lost at least one crewman.

“Target changing course,” announced the XO.

“Where away?”

“Veering sharply to 018 mark 80, mark 79 . . . its arcing around for an attack run, I think.”

The viewscreen tracked the creature, dimming as the yellow sun came into view.

“It plans to dive out of the sun,” murmured Trondheim. “It’s intelligent.”

“Could be instinct,” replied Porter.

Trondheim shook his head. “No, Commander, that beast knows what it’s doing. Prepare to fire phasers on my mark.”

The filters on the viewscreen damped the intense glare of the sun, leaving the creature as a dark shadow that was rapidly growing in size.

“Fire.”

Twin beams of light lanced out from the cutter’s hull, converging on the monster. It thrashed wildly and banked away before circling around to reengage the Sturgeon.

“Great, Now it’s pissed,” noted Porter.

Trondheim kept his gaze fixed on the monster. Magnificent or not, the creature was hell-bent on their destruction.

“Time to end this. Fire the Mark 9 torpedo.”

“Torpedo away!”

Now the pteranodon began to move evasively. It made twists and turns that would have been impossible for even a high-performance fighter to duplicate.

But the photon torpedo was relentless – its on-board tracking computer making continuous corrections as it pursued its quarry.

In a surprising move, the creature suddenly stopped and hung motionless – its massive wings spread to their fullest. Perhaps it was an indication of surrender.

Trondheim somehow knew it was an act of defiance – its own way of extending the middle finger.

The screen went white as the 12 isoton warhead detonated. Trondheim raised his hand against the glare before the filters had a chance to dampen the burst of light. The orb of light spread before fading away – leaving the distant sun and starfield on the screen.

“Target destroyed,” announced the XO, her tone flat.

The Captain let out a long sigh. “Very well. Give the order to launch the Stallions. Let’s get our people and any survivors out of there.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.91 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
En route to Star Station India

Captain’s Log – Stardate: 54533.9. We have recovered our SAR teams and the lone survivor of the mining outpost on Xilien IV. I suppose we were fortunate to suffer only one casualty – Corpsman First Class Rhijan ‘kel Vernas. She was an outstanding member of Sturgeon’s crew and she will be missed. Chief Zuan suffered severe injuries, but Dr. V’Tel believes he will make a complete recovery.

As to the creature that destroyed the mining outpost, its origins remain a mystery. One theory is that it was encased in the ice for centuries in some form of suspended animation and was released by tectonic activity. We will leave that to others to figure out. USS Rutledge is on station recovering the bodies of the miners and scanning for any other life-forms. Something tells me this creature was one-of-a-kind.

The enunciator to the ready room chimed softly. Trondheim paused his log entry and said, “Come!”

Lt. Sinja Tarrawa entered the office and stood before Trondheim’s desk. She stood at attention with her gaze fixed several centimeters above the Captain’s head.

“Lt. Tarrawa reporting, sir. I am presenting myself for disciplinary action.”

Trondheim suppressed a smile. “Lieutenant – please, have a seat.”

Tarrawa stole a puzzled glance at the Captain before doing as he bade. She sat ramrod straight in the chair.

He sighed. “Sinja – relax. You’re not on report.”

Some of the tension seemed to leave her body, but her expression still showed dismay. “Sir – my actions on the bridge earlier today were inexcusable.”

“Really? My judgment must be faulty – I thought you performed admirably.”

She swallowed and lowered her gaze in shame. “My . . . outburst . . . they were inexcusable, Captain.”

Trondheim smiled. “Considering what we were facing, I think your . . . ‘outburst’ as you put it, was rather mild. I’ve heard far worse from officers more senior than you under less stressful circumstances. I think you should cut yourself some slack, Sinja.”

“Yes sir, if you say so.”

He cocked his head to the side. “I do have one question, though.”

She looked up. “Sir?”

“The words you spoke, in Japanese I assume . . . what did they mean?”

She looked down again, embarrassed. “It’s silly sir – something out of Japanese mythology. I was just startled when I saw the creature on the screen.”

“The Norse are well-versed in mythology, Lieutenant. Please – I’m interested.”

She nodded. “ ‘Kaiju’ – that means, ‘giant monster.’” Her face flushed slightly.

“An accurate description, Lieutenant. And the other word?”

“ ‘Rodan’ – that is the name of a monstrous flying reptile from our mythology. It supposedly terrorized the people of Japan and fought against other monsters until finally leaving Earth.”

“I see. What became of Rodan?”

“Forgive me, sir – I’m a bit rusty on my mythology – but as I recall, Rodan came under the control of an advanced alien race on planet X.”

Trondheim’s eyes narrowed. “Planet X, you say?”

A small smile formed on her face. “A bizarre coincidence, I agree.”

He nodded and stood, signaling the end of the meeting. “Thank you, Lieutenant. And please, put your mind at rest. You performed your duties well today.”

She stood, obviously relieved. “I appreciate that sir.”

“Good. Dismissed.”

Tarrawa turned to leave the ready room.

“Oh, Lieutenant – one more question?”

“Sir?”

“Did this . . . Rodan . . . were there more of its kind?”

“Honestly, sir – I don’t recall. It was a myth, after all.”

“Of course. Thank you – that will be all.”

As Tarrawa left the ready room, Captain Trondheim sat behind his desk and stared out the small viewport at the streaming starfield, a pensive expression on his face.

* * *

Stardate 54536.31 (18 July 2377)
Xilien IV

The ground quake measured 7.2 on the Richter Scale, or would have if anyone had been around to record it.

The USS Rutledge had departed the day before, taking with her the bodies of the dead miners and what little equipment could be salvaged. All that was left was the debris of the habitat domes, and heavy snowfall was effectively erasing that from view. The Corps of Engineers crew had sealed the mine entrance until the company could come and assess whether future operations were viable.

The quake lasted for nearly three minutes, causing localized avalanches. Without power for the force fields, two of the mine tunnels collapsed.

The quake also opened a shaft to a cavern that lay some 300 kilometers west of the site of the mine and 80 meters below the surface. Air and light filtered down into the cave for the first time in four centuries.

Two dark objects lay amongst the ice and rocks of the cave. Each was ovoid, about three meters in length and half that in circumference.

One of the objects began to move and expand. A leathery membrane rose and fell, rose and fell.

An eye opened for the first time, revealing an elliptical pupil surrounded by a gold and green iris. The eye hinted at intelligence and malevolence.

The creature slowly unfurled and stretched, revealing razor-sharp talons and a serrated beak. It spread its wings and began to flap them, clumsily at first, then with real purpose. It emitted a high-pitched shriek before taking flight. It rose up through the opening of the cavern, slowly and unsteadily but quickly gained speed. It burst through a thin veil of snow and ice, soaring into the pale blue skies of Xilien IV.

It realized it was hungry.

* * *

END
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Old September 2 2010, 12:09 PM   #79
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

August 2010 Challenge: TDY (Temporary Duty)
(5000 words)

THE VENTUS ROSE-FLOWER


Spock stared at Captain Kirk with a look that Kirk faintly recognized to be something as near to disbelief as a Vulcan could get. “Captain, I beg your pardon,” Spock said, with a barely audible stutter, that only someone as close to him as Kirk was would have heard. “Starfleet ordered me to what?”

Kirk gave him a wry smile. “It’s not like you to need to be told twice, Mister Spock,” he admonished. Spock did not look amused, so Kirk continued. “Starfleet Command has ordered you to take charge of a young boy. His name is Ventus, and he is our shot at making peaceful contact with the Valeriins, and establishing some sort of relationship. We—or at least, another Starship—located the boy in an alien shuttlecraft. It was badly damaged, as if someone had attacked it. The boy was the only one to be rescued that was still alive.”

Spock shook his head. “Captain, the Valeriins have shown no signs of any technological activity pertaining to space travel. It seems doubtful that they would have managed to create some sort of shuttlecraft.”

Kirk shrugged. “Starfleet is looking into the matter, and so far, it does appear that space travel efforts have been mobilized.”

“What’s this I hear about Spock being in the ‘big brother program’?”

Kirk and Spock both turned to see McCoy standing off to the side. Kirk looked at him dubiously, having not heard him approach them in the corridor. “How much did you hear?”

“Pretty near all of it. But of all people to watch that boy…” McCoy shook his head. “Spock isn’t quite the caretaker type, I’d think.”

“And you are, Doctor?” Spock replied.

McCoy scowled at him. “I happen to have had a daughter of my own, thank you very much, Mister Spock. And considering I’m a doctor, I’m pretty sure I’d make a damn fine caretaker.”

“Calm down, Bones,” Kirk grinned.

McCoy turned to him. “And about what I heard… Why would the Valeriins send a boy out in an experimental shuttlecraft with a team of scientists?”

“In Valeriin society, the children are the most valuable citizens, and the highest respected. With age, the respect for the person dies out, as does their power within society. It would be logical for the Valeriins to have sent a child with the experiment, Doctor.”

McCoy shook his head and muttered something along the lines of “foolish”.

“A more appropriate question would be, ‘how did the Valeriins skip to such a more advanced state of space travel development so quickly?’.”

“That is why we need Ventus. Since the children are so highly valued, the Valeriins will want him back. But until that time, someone must look after him until we can return him. Since we are the ones who will return him, when the time comes, we must take care of him—or, Spock specifically must. Your exact orders and guidelines are already waiting in your quarters.”

* * *

Ventus stepped off of the transporter pad, marveling at the room around him. His society may have entered their space travel phase, but they still had nothing as sophisticated as the Federation. He was average height for a boy who, by Terran standards, appeared to be about fourteen. He was lean, with wiry muscle. He had sharply blonde hair swept upwards, and pale blue eyes that seemed oddly intelligent. He wore a black, form-fitted short-sleeved shirt adorned with the a Starfleet crest that bore no ornament of field. Whether that was the only shirt available at the time, or at least by Starfleet that would fit a child, or if it served some other purpose Spock did not know. His slightly flared pants were a lighter shade, though not by much being a dark grey, and his shoes were slightly clompy, as if they had tried to accommodate him by creating a shoe similar to his original pair, but they had been slightly too large. On his left arm was some sort of extra sleeve, wrapped around it, and his arm hung slightly limp, as if it was somehow injured. Whatever the case, Spock noticed that he looked very similar to a human.

Most likely because he had had slightly more pressing matters to attend to, while Spock had read much of what was known about the Valeriins—who were hands-off because of the Prime Directive—he had neglected to look into exactly what their appearance was. Ventus was so human-looking, it was almost surprising. The only difference was his skin was naturally a little paler, his features a little more chiseled and clear-cut, and when he finally spoke, he clearly defined his vowel sounds, if not dragging them out a bit too long, and the vowel sounds were a tad more forced and high-pitched.

“Ah… em… Hello, Mister, em, Spock, yes?” He asked, his Anglish a tad awkward. But that he knew any at all was a surprise to Spock.

“Yes, I am he. And you are Ventus, I presume.” At the boy’s nod, Spock continued. “I must admit, I was a little taken aback by your at least minimal mastery of our language. How long have you been with us?”

Ventus tilted his head slightly, the equivalent of a shrug. “Oiuh—,” the word sounded much like a sigh—, “Nearly a year.”

Spock blinked in a small display of disbelief. “I beg your pardon. A year? How many days?”

Ventus repeated the gesture of tilting his head. “Neh… Maybe thirty,” he finally replied.

“That would be nearly a month.”

Ventus shook his head. “Sure, as you say. This is a Starship, then?”

Spock nodded. “Yes. Would you like a tour?”

Ventus looked at Spock curiously.

“Would you like me to show you around the ship,” Spock repeated.

Ventus nodded then. “Yes, yes. Sure.” As Spock motioned for him to follow out of the transporter room, Ventus added, “I cannot believe how… amazing all of this technology is. It’s like nothing on Valerii.” Then he turned his icy blue eyes onto Spock and gave a small smile. “But we hope to catch up with you. Don’t think we haven’t seen your Starships before, orbiting our planet. You may not see them, but our telescopes have a far range.”


Spock looked over his shoulder curiously at the boy as they walked down the corridor. “We have never detected the use of any such devices. However, Valerii is very rich with forests and mountains where such devices could easily be hidden.” He watched Ventus walk, and his left arm swung almost lifelessly at his side. But he made not mention of it.

He made the tour brief, showing him the engine room, where Scotty eyed him with a mixture of surprise and nervousness at a kid being on his engineering deck; then the mess hall, the rec room, sickbay—where McCoy made a snarky comment about Spock’s babysitting abilities—and made a final stop at the bridge.

While at first Ventus had seemed awkward and withdrawn, even throughout the tour Spock had noticed him growing a little more comfortable in the alien environment. As they exited the turbolift onto the bridge, Ventus shook his head and said, “I’ve been with this Starfleet a year, and have not seen anything like this before.”

Kirk, who had been lounging in the captain’s chair, briefly without any paperwork or any other duties to attend to at the moment while on shift, glanced back at them in surprise. “Hello, Spock, Ventus—you’re telling me you’ve been here for a year and this is the first I’ve heard of you?”

Spock folded his hands behind his back. “A month, Captain.”

Ventus cocked an eyebrow at Spock. “A year. Thirty days is a year,” he insisted.

“Explain,” Kirk interrupted, before Spock could again persist that thirty days was a month.

Ventus shrugged. “It just is. The same reason sixty seconds is a minute,” he made a face. “How should I know why?”

“How old are you, Ventus?”

“One hundred sixty-eight,” Ventus said matter-of-factly, giving him a curious look.

“Fourteen years of age,” Spock added.

Ventus glared at Spock but didn’t correct him, obviously tired of doing so, and realizing it would be a fruitless effort. Kirk grinned.

“Well, then, Ventus, have you ever played a game of 3D chess?” Kirk asked.

“Captain, you are on duty,” Spock admonished.

“I am the captain, on-duty while we do minor patrols—filler missions, waiting for further orders. I think Starfleet can spare me for an hour, Spock,” Kirk replied, sweeping out of his chair and guiding he and Ventus back into the turbolift, and then calling over his shoulder, “Mister Sulu, you have the bridge.”


The rec room had its usual small clusters of off-duty and relaxing officers and crewman talking, playing holo-displayed tactical games, playing music, or otherwise enjoying their time off. “Spock, you can ref,” Kirk said wryly as he sat Ventus down at one side of the layered chess board. The Vulcan gave him a condescending look, but did not remind Kirk that there were no referees in chess, as he clearly looked like he wanted to.

Ventus stared at him curiously. “Is this near the same as checkers?” he asked, confused.

“In a way,” Kirk answered. “So you’ve got checkers on Valerii?” He quickly reviewed the rules before Ventus replied.

Ventus made the same shrug-like gesture of inclining his head. “Yes, but it’s usually played with the adults, to entertain them.” He made the first move, as the captain had shown him.

Nodding, Kirk moved one of his pawns. “Why only with the adults?”

“The game isn’t fun enough to just play. But it’s enough for them,” Ventus replied as he moved a pawn down a level.

“Why so?”

“Because they aren’t capable of much other kinds of hands-on entertainment. By that age, they’ve lost all their life. They just go to the factories, do the menial tasks, build what’s needed, record what’s happened. Monotonous things, while we keep an eye on them.”

Kirk moved his rook to another level, and out of harm’s way. “Aren’t capable? In most societies, it’s the other way around. The adults are in charge, while the kids are taught, and kept from being too mischievous.” He waited until Ventus had made his move, then took the boy’s knight. “Why would things be different there?”

“Again, you ask the same type of question: the kind I can’t answer. I haven’t been around that long.” Ventus took Kirk’s queen. “You should’ve kept your rook there,” Ventus added.

As Kirk moved another piece, Spock said, from where he was observing from a benched slope protruding from the sloping walls of the chess pit, “That would explain why you were on the experimental shuttlecraft.”

“Correct. Check.”

Kirk furrowed his brow. “Check? Feh. Well, I guess that does explain a bit. But still: why?” He took the intruding knight, and then suddenly noticed that more of Ventus’ pieces were missing then there should have been, meaning the boy had triggered them to reappear on a timer, a surprise, cascade assault.

Spock watched carefully as Ventus moved another piece, gazing at his hand that shook ever-so-slightly, and was a little awkwardly placed, as if he was not accustomed to using his right hand. But he made no mention. Instead, he said, “Perhaps the Valeriins are a product of the Preservers.”

“Now that—,” Kirk paused and scowled as, after he moved his king, Ventus’ pieces suddenly timed in, performing a kamikaze attack on any enemy piece that was already in its place, and putting his king in an uncomfortable position, “—would make sense, Mister Spock.”

“The Preservers do often seem to have a hand in such things. While we have not yet seen any evidence of any Preserver technology, that does not mean there is not any on Valerii.” Spock shook his head as Kirk moved his last remaining rook into a perilous location.

“Checkmate.”

Kirk frowned. “Are you sure… that you haven’t played this before?”

“Captain, we have many times before ascertained that chess, even the regular kind, is not your game,” Spock replied, standing up.

Shrugging, Kirk did as well, with Ventus following. “Yes, I believe you put it as—”

“ ‘Your maverick techniques and chaotic movements might prove useful elsewhere, but in a game of tact, precision, patience, and foresight, it is not nearly an ideal tactic’,” McCoy said from behind. “I believe that was it.”

Kirk scowled playfully at him. “What is this? You have a habit of sneaking up on me all of a sudden.”

“Not at all,” McCoy shrugged. “But I must say, this must be an all-time low. Beaten by a kid.” McCoy shook his head in false shame.

“Regardless of the captain’s chess-playing abilities, Ventus is now required to retire to his quarters.”

Kirk and McCoy both looked at Spock curiously. “Now? Isn’t it a little early?”

Spock raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps. However, my orders were strict: that he be retired by 1600 hours.”

Ventus looked away, obviously not going to give an explanation, and when Kirk gave Spock and inquisitive look, he shook his head—he did not know why, either. “Fine,” Kirk gave an exaggerated sighed. He offered Ventus an friendly smile. “I suppose we’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

* * *

Ventus’ quarters were not very large, though he did not require a whole lot of accommodations. The room was plain and simple: a single bed along the far wall, some shelves, a table, a small closet, and a bathroom through a doorway in the wall adjacent to the bed.

“Clothes have already been provided in the closet,” Spock said, gestured to the closet.

Ventus nodded, but didn’t make a move towards it. “Thank you, Spock. You may go,” Ventus suggested, not rudely, but making it clear that he wanted to be alone.

“Very well. I have already shown you my quarters. If you need anything, you may come see me, or ask a crewman for myself, the captain, or Doctor McCoy,” Spock said, turning to leave.

“And Spock.”

He turned back to look at the boy.

“Thanks.”

* * *

After an hour of private meditation while still off-duty, Spock found the captain and McCoy still in the rec room, discussing something. As he approached, they looked up.

“Doctor McCoy, I require that you come with me to our guest’s quarters,” Spock said, without preamble.

Kirk looked perplexed, and a little alarmed. “Why? What’s happened, Spock?”

“Nothing has happened, Captain,” Spock assured. “I was ordered that a trusted doctor is to do a hands-off physical assessment every evening.”

“But why, Spock?” Kirk shook his head. “I’m asking a lot of ‘why’ questions about this boy.”

McCoy looked over at Spock. “Hands-off? And every evening? Is he infected with some disease?”

“I do not know Doctor,” Spock sighed. “It is what was commanded.”

Grumbling and complaining about Starfleet’s lack of information when giving commands, McCoy walked back to Ventus’ quarters with Spock. When they arrived, Spock pressed the buzzer next to the door.

After a minute, and sounds like someone was hurriedly doing something, he heard Ventus call, “Come in!”

Spock stepped forward, and the door opened to admit him and the doctor. As the door whispered closed behind them, Ventus emerged from the bathroom. He had changed into more casual nightwear. But Spock noticed that he still had the sleeve wrapped about his left arm.

Walking over to the table, McCoy set a small medkit upon it and opened it. “Alright, boy. It wasn’t my idea, but come over here for a moment.”

Ventus did not seem bothered by it at all, however, as McCoy reviewed his health with various hands-off tests, as he had been advised.

“Your heart beat is a little erratic. I’m not sure exactly what that’s about, and I’m not confident enough that our medication wouldn’t have any ill effects on you to give you something for it,” McCoy finally said. “You also seem to have severe nerve damage to your left arm. Could you remove your—”

“No.” Ventus turned away.

“What?” McCoy demanded. “Your life may depend on it if you have some terminal disease that’s destroying your nervous system! Dammit, boy!”

“Doctor, please, hands-off.”

McCoy scowled at Spock. “Fine, but when he dies, don’t come crying to me,” he growled, storming out of the room.

Ventus stiffened at that. But Spock could tell it wasn’t because he was shocked at the news that he could die. It was obvious that that wasn’t the case. It seemed more like the boy was alarmed that McCoy had known he might die, no matter how offhand that statement had been.

“Ventus, if there is—”

“No. It’s nothing. Please go,” Ventus said abruptly, turning completely away from him.

Spock obliged, leaving him alone in his quarters. He found McCoy skulking about the turbolift, waiting and prowling like a predator.

“Spock, you’d better damn well tell me what’s wrong with that boy!” McCoy demanded viciously, whirling around to face Spock as soon as he was within earshot. “I’m not going to have you let some boy die because Starfleet gave you orders.”

“Doctor,” he said calmly, severely contrasting McCoy’s rage. “If I knew, and it may save his life, I might tell you, depending on the circumstances. However, I have no idea what is wrong with him. It is possible Starfleet Command figured it out, or that Ventus told them, but I was never informed by either.”

That seemed to calm McCoy down, if only a little.

“And regardless, it could very well be nothing at all. The orders may have been hands-off because such is the custom of the Valeriins, or perhaps there is fear that he may bring into the Federation diseases native only to Valerii.”

“His nervous system is decaying, Spock,” McCoy insisted. “I saw it with my own eyes.”

“Arguing again?”

They both turned suddenly as the turbolift doors whooshed open behind them, and Captain Kirk emerged.

“It is nothing, Captain, I assure you.”

Spock looked at McCoy, but he was grudgingly silent.

* * *

For the next two days, Ventus refused to leave his quarters, as well as rejected McCoy’s at a medical assessment. Despite his orders, at the captain’s request that they let the boy adjust at his own pace, Spock had let him alone. But it had reached a point where he had begun speculating about whether or not McCoy had been correct. It was indeed possible that he would not allow anyone to see him because his condition—whatever it may be—was deteriorating.

Finally, nearly twenty minutes after the boy’s curfew that second day, Spock let himself in, using his clearance to open the guest quarters. Ventus was sitting upon his bed, staring out into the blankness of the otherspace outside of his window. In addition to his casual nightwear, he wore a scarf over his neck. But by the warmth of the room, it was obvious to Spock that the garment was not to keep warm—he was hiding something.

“I didn’t give permission for you to enter,” Ventus said, his bland tone implying that he didn’t really care either way, if Spock answered or not.

“You have not left your quarters for two days,” Spock observed.

“So? I don’t have to leave.”

Spock sighed. “No. No, you do not,” he said, folding his hands behind his back. “But it may be conducive for you to interact with the crew and socialize with other beings.”

“What does it matter,” Ventus muttered softly under his breath, Spock barely catching it. Ventus swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. He walked into the bathroom and closed the door.

Spock waited for twenty minutes. When it became clear that Ventus was not coming back out until he had left, he exited his quarters.

* * *
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Old September 2 2010, 12:10 PM   #80
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Three more days came and went, and McCoy was becoming increasingly irritable by the hour. It infuriated him that he could not run tests on the boy who he believed was terminally ill. Spock had, every day, entered his quarters, and each time, Ventus had gone into his bathroom until he left, even waiting for two hours until Spock decided his other duties were more pressing and left.

By the fifth day, even Spock began to grow anxious, though he would never admit it, even to himself. He did not know why the boy interested him so, or why it bothered him so much that he had completely shut them out so suddenly.

While he was off-duty in his quarters, Spock looked over the records of the night watchmen, a task he had taken up to keep tabs upon the ship’s crew. He was intrigued to find that Ventus had been logged leaving each night around 0100 hours to socialize with the night shift, who were usually asleep during the day. Spock had not doubt he visited them because they were the ones least likely to say anything about his condition to a senior officer. As far as they knew, he was also out during the day, and the captain and himself were already aware.

That night, around 0100, Spock waited in the corridor until Ventus emerged from his quarters. He had donned the same outfit he had worn the day he had arrived upon the ship. His scarf was now higher up, covering his chin and jaw.

As Spock walked up behind him, Ventus asked, without turning around, “Why do you care so much?”

Spock followed him into the turbolift. “Why do you hide?”

Ventus was silent, no reply forthcoming. The turbolift doors opened on the engineering deck, and he walked out, Spock tailing him.

“Have you ever been completely isolated and shunned, with people giving you big fake smiles and telling you stupid lies to keep you happy, when you know that it’s all a sham?”

Spock stared at the boy’s back. “No, I have not.”

“Then why should I tell you why I hide? You wouldn’t understand, anyway.”

They entered the engine room, where several officers looked up upon their entrance, grinning, or offering Ventus a wave.

“You have become well acquainted with this engineering shift,” Spock remarked.

“You never answered my question. Why do you care so much about me?”

“It is my duty,” Spock replied.

Ventus finally turned and gazed at him. “No,” he said bluntly. “If that was all it was, then you wouldn’t have made such an effort. I would have known, after all those people who would check up on me out of obligation, not because they really wanted to. You genuinely cared enough to annoy me every day with your intrusions. I would have recognized false sincerity.”

It was Spock’s turn to be silent. He had no response to that. That might have been it—why he had checked up on him so often. But he couldn’t explain why it had mattered so much to him. And it seemed illogical to have been emotionally influenced into checking up on him.

“You don’t even know why you cared, do you?” Ventus asked, almost sadly. He looked over at the engineers, going about their work. “Not that it matters, really.”

“I think, perhaps, you reminded me of myself,” Spock finally said after a few minutes of brooding silence. Ventus looked up at him in surprise. “You were a stranger in a place that was like your own world, yet so different. Perhaps I feared that you had decided to shut it all out, instead of adjusting to a place that seemed to go against what you are. And then you refused to acknowledge what is happening to you. Do not think that I have forgotten about your arm.”

Ventus sighed and looked away again. “Ah yes, the cause of the big fake smiles and stupid lies.” Maybe it was that he had finally begun to trust him, or maybe just because Spock had listened, and he wanted to confide in someone. Whatever the reason, Ventus turned back towards the turbolift and said, “I want to show you something.”

* * *

In his quarters, Ventus awkwardly removed the scarf with his right hand. Easing off the extra sleeve, he removed his shirt, leaving his torso and his scars exposed. His left arm, most of the left half of his torso, and creeping about his throat as if to strangle him, was an intricate, decaying black pattern. It was intricate, and appeared to almost form rose-like shapes that were burned into his skin.

“What is it,” Spock asked softly.

Ventus gazed at the ground sadly. “On Valerii, it’s called Rose Flower. It is very rare, but it infects and destroys the body and mind. But it isn’t contagious, despite Starfleet’s worries. It’s caused by a certain type of spore from a rare tree occasionally found on my planet. We try to contain them, but by the time we realize another one has grown, it has already painfully claimed a life.”

“And you had given up hope.”

Ventus slowly donned his clothing once more, then sat down upon his bed before he replied. “Not a single person has ever survived Rose Flower. The tree mutates, and we couldn’t keep up with it. Each vaccine is outdated by the time it’s finished.”

Spock didn’t know what exactly possessed him to do so, but he walked over and sat down next to the self-mourning boy, who made an odd, hiccupping noise, as if he was about to cry.

“It’s why I was on that shuttle. The others on it were adults used as guinea pigs, and two other people who had contracted Rose Flower. They’d doubted the shuttle would work, and since we were already going to die, or were in the case of the adults, useless… ‘Why would it matter?’” He said the last part very bitterly.

“It matters very much. No life should be so callously thrown away.”

Ventus made another hiccupping noise and buried his head in his hands. “Tell that to the Planetary Committee.” Ventus’ shoulders shuddered.

After a moment of hesitation, Spock put a hand on the boy’s back, fighting against reeling away from the assault of the boy’s emotions. Ventus leaned over against him, and Spock did his utmost not to stiffen at the touch. For several minutes, Spock sat and comforted the boy, listening to his ragged, emotion-racked breaths. Finally, Ventus straightened up. “I’m… I’m sorry,” he snuffled, wiping his face with his arm. “I shouldn’t have dumped all that on you.” He turned his head slightly away, as if embarrassed. But it was clear by his entire posture that he wasn’t anywhere near fine yet.

Spock looked over at the personal computer on the table that was displaying the time. 0200 hours. His shift started in four hours, and he had gotten no sleep, not that he really needed any every single night. He looked back over at the boy. For once, he decided, it might be exceptional for him to be late for his shift. After all, it was his orders to take care of Ventus. And it would not be acceptable for him to just leave him now.

* * *

“Spock? May I come in?”

Spock, Kirk, and McCoy looked over at the open turbolift from where they stood in discussion on the bridge. After a week, Ventus was reduced to limping to where he wanted to go, and it took some effort to move the joint of his right shoulder. The Rose Flower was creeping up higher upon him as well, starting to crawl out from under the scarf.

“You know, you don’t need permission to come aboard the bridge, Ventus.”

Ventus smiled faintly at Captain Kirk. “Yeah, well…” He hobbled down the step towards them.

“Ventus, the Federation has made contact with Valerii, and has entered into the beginning steps towards accepting it into the Federation,” Spock informed him. “One of their requests is to have you back.”

Ventus snorted, then cringed in pain. “Ach. Ow. Well, you can tell them—”

Sensing where he was going by the tone of his voice, Spock gave him a pointed look, and Ventus quieted.

“Well, I’m not going,” Ventus said adamantly. “What’s the difference? At least the people here genuinely care if I live or die.”

Kirk, surprised by his bluntness, said, “It’s your home.”

Ventus looked up at Spock. “No. You can tell them it was my choice, that you had nothing to do with it. I’ll record something, if you want. But I won’t.”

Kirk and McCoy exchanged a knowing look. It was clear the he had taken a liking to Spock, and looked up to him. “Very well, then,” Kirk announced. “I’ll see what I can do. Until… then… you may stay here.”

* * *

Spock gazed almost sadly out at his family’s land. It was there, by Ventus’ request, that he was buried when, two weeks after he had decided to stay on the ship, the Rose Flower caused his brain to shut down. According to Ventus, it was a custom on Valerii for those who succumbed to Rose Flower be buried, not cremated, so that the memory of he or she who was taken too soon by the disease was not forgotten. He had asked his mother to, when she could, go out and remove the sand from the tablet he had placed over Ventus’ burial place. She had accepted, knowing exactly how much the boy had meant to him, even if he didn’t.

He turned and walked away from the final resting place of the boy who had grown up on a world where a father hardly meant anything, but had in a short time, grown to respect another in the light of a father, and the tablet that read:

VENTUS x
ROSE-FLOWER

After all, that is what Spock’s name meant, on Valerii.
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Old October 8 2010, 02:28 AM   #81
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Author's note: This story contains mild spoilers for the premise of The Thirteenth Order. Further inspiration is owed to the Coldplay song, "Spies."


Star Trek:
Sigils and Unions
“Immersion”


Cardassian Guard Vigilance Inquisitorium—Engineering Campus
Keshat Akleen, Cardassia Prime
Union Year 483
[Federation Year 2353]

The water slid around the diminutive figure sitting on the lake floor under the shadow of the fishing pier. Only the bubbles rising from her underwater breather might give any indication to a surface observer that she was there—that is, if they bothered to look directly under the pier. To the transponder all students at the Cardassian Guard’s main training campus had implanted immediately upon arrival and removed only upon graduation, there was little difference except at close range between standing on the dock and sitting just over three meters under it.

Beneath the surface, everything, including the grey of her skin, took on the bluish cast of the water. The scientific mind of Ragoç Zejil Rebek understood this perfectly well: the sky of Cardassia Prime might tend towards reddish hues, but water did particularly well at absorbing the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum thanks, oddly enough, to molecular vibrations that just happened to be within range of the Cardassian eye in a way that even deuterium ‘water’ could never manage. This meant that the further one got under the surface, the more everything shifted towards the blue.

She reflected upon that explanation with equanimity and reverence—here, transitioning into engineering and scientific studies after a stint as a sniper on the Federation front, she was privileged to gaze directly into the deepest known mechanisms used in the creation of the universe.

The creation of the universe—the Shaping. Even to suggest the possibility was a crime. To be caught in meditation and prayer…far worse. And to those caught actively propagating such opinions went the most humiliating and public demise one could imagine. They strip the significance from the universe so that in the people’s minds, they’re the only ‘living’ thing left standing, Rebek thought. If this can be called living.

None of this was how it ought to be. For Rebek, the breather in her mouth offered security in more ways than one. Even alone, she should have been at liberty to vocalize her prayers if she were so moved. But just like it had been for generations, all she had was silent meditation in the most desperate of places. She should have prayed in the company of believers. Maybe she would have had a recitation mask to symbolize the drawing-in of Oralius’ spirit. She should have had the Hebitian Records before her instead of ‘reading’ it through the memory of her mother’s recitations. She should have heard about her faith from birth, instead of having it withheld until her parents hoped that Zejil was old enough to hear and believe, but young enough that they hadn’t yet taught her the ‘value’ of denouncing her own family. For if caught, she would be considered a traitor to the Union…this in spite of the fact that they weren’t traitors to Cardassia, which the Rebeks still served faithfully even if their leaders did not.

Reluctantly, she rejected the bitterness. She didn’t have time for that now…this time belonged to Oralius. And it was limited.

She closed her eyes and reached out with her bioelectric sense as she readied herself for the Invocation. Underwater the sixth Cardassian sense hummed with remnants of the reach and intensity the early, river-dwelling ancestors of Cardassia’s therapsids had known. Life buzzed around her…and it didn’t matter that she understood what she sensed and why it was so intense here. Knowing the timelines and the reasons and the mechanisms did not tarnish the sanctity of the design, for that it still was. To understand, to adore, to give thanks…

Predator near!

Rebek’s eyes flew open, ridges went wide. Fear escaped the confines of her heart, played out on her face: damning evidence. She just barely resisted the impulse to spit the breather as the shock shot down her spine and neck ridges: for too right the prehistoric instinct was.

Pale scales…great, round ridges…eyes like the water—

He stared—he comprehended.

How easily broken was the lineage of believers.



About time! exulted the twenty-two year old final-year deghilzin at the Inquisitorium as he flew down the dock. His ‘rank,’ such as it was, spoke of a tiny stone piece—a tessella, in terhăn terminology, meaningless on its own, but capable of serving as part of the strong, finished mosaic of Cardassia. The Guard inquisitors took great pains to make sure the deghi’ilzin understood their subordinate status, dictating every moment of their lives until their final year where…if they performed sufficiently…they earned one hour of leisure time to themselves, chosen from a list of acceptable activities. And finally, it was his turn.

Deghilzin Berat leaped off the end of the dock—tucked his legs and grabbed them close to his body—and then—ke-prăç! Water thundered around him and pulled him in. He surfaced for a second and laughed, childlike, at the concentric rings still echoing from his point of entry and the tickling of the water as it skittered along the outsides of his eye ridges. Maybe his community-pool, splash-maximizing Srivec’piyrdbre—‘the Divebomber’—wasn’t the form the Guard would have preferred, and he would be a good deghilzin and practice a stealthier, more appropriate diving form…eventually. But he just had to do it.

Right now, though…he felt like pushing his body in a different way. As he kicked at the water, he pulled on a set of goggles, which nestled just on the insides of his eye ridges. Then he drew in a deep breath, and pushed himself under.

The world…transformed here. Colors changed and he swam, a creature revisiting the home to which his forbears had once belonged and which he could no longer quite possess. It was a feeling of age, of constancy—and something else…he couldn’t put a word to it. Tradition? That wasn’t quite it. It was as though reality had morphed its nature in some way he was helpless to describe.

A shadow shifted overhead. A cloud? No—not this time of year…the dock. And he felt something—electric, alive, too big for a fish or even a lake-ray…

She sat cross-legged on the lakebed in full diving gear, eyes closed, heedless of her environment in any way that meant anything…small and serene—beautiful, but above his station, for she seemed to possess at least a few more years than he did…

This impression lasted for less than a second.

There was nothing overt here, no words, no gestures, just silence and repose, head bowed as if to an invisible superior officer...but here, in isolation, this was no ordinary biofeedback meditation or martial discipline. Primitive ritualistic behavior. That was how their textbooks and inquisitors described it—the rituals of the Bajorans, and the fantasies of those few Cardassians who still clung to the ancient superstitions whose purveyors would have destroyed Cardassia at the start of the Cataclysm, if not for the brave revolutionaries led by Tret Akleen.

This was an Oralian—a traitor—right in front of him.

Even in hiding they were traitors, all of them—heretics against the state and all that Cardassia stood for. He didn’t even have to confront her. All he had to do was go to one of his Inquisitors, the Inquisitor would call in the Obsidian Order, he would give them the time and the place, and they would determine whose transponder had been active in the area at the time. There were only two of them…it wouldn’t be hard. He would do his duty, and it would be quite the auspicious beginning to the career of a young deghilzin, soon to assume the rank of ragoç. His family would be so proud, that their son served the Union thus…

Her eyes were open now—terrified…hurt. Resolute.

Look at me now: I am going to die.

He had seen the faces of the condemned on the trial broadcasts with every conceivable emotion on their faces—some in futile defiance, some in hollow defeat, and every shade in between. He knew classmates who had actually watched a trial in person, from the observation loft. As a child he had spied the defeated subject of an arrest once, from a distance, before his parents whisked him away. But he had never actually seen one of the guilty up close and looked into their living eyes. No one had ever before looked at Tayben Berat in fear.

He broke away, rose to the surface, and sucked in air. He pushed off against one of the pylons of the dock and kicked hard, as though the movement away might kick his brain into gear and force a decision. He couldn’t hear over the sound of each stroke what might be happening behind him.

Burn it all—this conundrum was unbecoming of the officer of the Cardassian Guard he was soon to be! No one had ever said doing his duty was easy—there was a reason people spoke of sacrifice: sometimes you felt for, even loved those who had erred too gravely for pardon, but you accepted the pain and did what was required of you. If anyone figured out what this woman was doing here, if anyone reviewed the transponder records, if anyone realized he should have seen, then if he failed to report her in a timely manner, he too would be deemed a traitor. What right had he to withhold crucial information for himself?

His stomach heaved—he pulled himself up onto the opposite dock just in time as the cramps doubled him over. She had done nothing to him. What had she done to anyone? He couldn’t. He couldn’t.

Deghilzin Berat shook with chill and dread. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t a soldier’s response to naked sedition—what was it? He had to stay here as long as he was scheduled to; that was the only way they’d believe he never saw anything. He had to forget…but his eidetic memory wouldn’t let him. Might of Cardassia—have I just signed my own denunciation?



A day passed. Then a week, then another, and a month. The term ended, family week came, and his parents, brothers, and grandparents conducted an experiment in just how many Berats could squeeze into a tiny barracks room during their daily visits, with more and more arriving every day. After family week came and went without an Obsidian Order agent bursting into the room to demand their surrender—his for covering for an Oralian, and his family’s for raising a son who would—Tayben Berat finally breathed an inward sigh of relief. It was over.

Then the new term began and he went to his first class—Theoretical Physics, Second Term. He looked up at the front row, where the highest-ranking members of the class sat, and…

Oh, no—it’s her!

She wore the full armor of a commissioned officer of the Guard, her cuirass naming her a ragoç in continuing education. This meant she would graduate as a full riyăk, whereas Deghilzin Berat would assume the rank she would soon leave. At least, he hoped he’d last that long.

Berat just barely suppressed a gasp…and not just at the fact that the Oralian woman actually served the Guard as a career officer, not just a conscriptee. She had to have chosen that. It made no sense—they hated the Union and all it stood for, they had nearly driven Cardassia to destruction in their decadent ways, blinding them to the hard necessities…

This has got to be someone’s idea of a sick joke! Either that or the Obsidian Order was giving him a final chance. But they don’t give second chances, he reminded himself. That is, unless they’re trying to take down someone else along with me. He was a good Cardassian, after all—he wouldn’t have even needed a conservator to confess what he’d done, the way it had eaten at him for the rest of the last term. But who else could they possibly take down with him? He hadn’t said a word, hadn’t committed any more even questionable acts. If they knew that much, they would have to know it was pointless to draw it out any further. He had to assume that…he couldn’t let it tear him apart, not this close to graduation. He couldn’t make any contact or give any sign. Neither of us dare.

He shook his head. He didn’t like what that phrasing implied.

Now, Berat walked through the Inquisitorium’s engineering library. His coursework came on isolinear rods rather than by download, as did all material given to unproven deghi’ilzin—the better to control information access. As walked past the study cubicles towards the rack the search console had indicated, something cracked across the desk next to him like the snap of plasma in a faulty conduit, an impression furthered by the irritated flare of a bioelectric field nearby.

“Everything all right?” Berat asked.

She’d slammed her stylus down, her other fist clenched in frustration. For the first instant she stared at her padd, a strange expression on her face…like a profound meditation disrupted. It registered then—she wore full armor, not the black and grey deghilzin’s jacket with neither rank nor station—

Hăcet! he raged to himself—chaos! He’d spoken without thinking before his eyes even fixed on the source, and in a manner that invited a response—there was no evading it now.



Ragoç Rebek swiveled around in her chair—and froze.

She’d seen this deghilzin sitting in Theoretical Physics a few rows back from him, but he never looked up—at least, not when she was around. Those great, bright eyes stared at her like the personification of Fate, the depth of the blue bizarrely unchanged in the light of the open air. She had suspected, but by those striking irises, she knew. The Obsidian Order had been toying with her this entire time…and he must have been working for them. This was the endgame. Her stomach sank; she summoned every bit of her discipline as an officer of the Cardassian Guard to keep her face unperturbed. So young—yet he held her life in his hands.

Then why did those eyes blink as though startled, the rest of his body seemingly paralyzed? Be calm, she schooled herself. Maybe this wasn’t what it seemed. Play this out…see where it goes.

“Yes, Deghilzin,” she stated. “I am not in need of assistance…I release you.” She could have dismissed him far more bluntly and been well within standard protocol, but dared not--neither ally nor enemy could be safely treated thus.

The youthful man’s lip quirked up ever so slightly as though amused in spite of himself—his eyes were no longer on her, but on her padd, taking in the tangled mess of equations she’d succeeded in creating over the past ten minutes. Irritation flushed hot through her neck ridges. His eyes darted off to the side, searching for an escape route and finding none. “Ragoç…” He swallowed. “Permission to speak.”

Rebek inclined her head just barely.

“I realize that my position is nothing compared to yours. I also realize that we are…of different specialties.” He spoke those words with a strange caution, something more than mere deference. Factually they were true; Rebek’s concentration was applied engineering—Berat, his name was, focused on the theoretical, and he had consistently outperformed her in this most frustrating of classes. “But I mean no challenge to you by offering assistance. That said, if you would rather not have it, I will obey.”

His eyes pierced into hers just like they had under the lake…except this time, he seemed desperate for her to understand something. That last part had been nothing but pure ritual. But the rest…

“Perhaps,” she allowed, her heart drumming a furious cadence in the center of her chest, “if I find I can’t resolve this myself, I will take you up on that. You are Berat, correct?” He nodded as though he had run out of words. “I should be fine for now, though.”

Satisfied—relieved, Berat bowed and excused himself with a barely-audible mumble that might been endearing under better circumstances.

Only after he’d been gone for an hour did it hit Rebek what Berat had meant. The second part had been simple enough: I mean no challenge. In other words, I am no threat to you. The first part...eventually she’d realized it was his way of telling her that he did not share her beliefs. Yet he had not…and for whatever reason, would not, denounce her.

Merciful Oralius, she prayed, open eyes scouring the equations once more. I don’t know what you did—but I give thanks to you for sparing my life.
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Old October 8 2010, 02:28 AM   #82
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Cardassian Union Warship Romac
Thirteenth Order Rebellion
Union Year 505
[Federation Year 2375]

Gul Tayben Berat sat in the mess hall aboard the Romac, quietly observing the improbable pair that stood by the elliptical observation window. There stood Zejil Rebek now—a tiny presence, physically, for the rank she carried…but even if she hadn’t been one of his dearest friends, he had to laugh silently at the thought of how hypocritical it would be for him, of all people, to comment. Especially after how she had stood by him after the Fist of Revenge coup, and the incident on Volan III. He certainly hadn’t forgotten how she’d rebuked Malyn Ocett after the comments the other gul had made right to Berat’s face, after his injuries. She might think Rebek nothing but a tiny ‘pocket vompăt,’ but he knew better. And he’d heard how she had fought on the surface of Lessek, as well. If he had ever doubted how she would do her duty in light of her complicated allegiances—those days were gone many years ago.

At her side, the terhăn lieutenant commander, Spirodopoulos, fixed his face reverently upon the stars and without the slightest hint of shame, made that same strange sign Berat had seen him make at the funeral: one hand, first three fingertips together, forehead to chest, shoulder to shoulder. As if it weren’t surreal enough already to see this alien wearing the armor of the Cardassian Guard, fitted perfectly to him in every way except for the narrowness of his neck, it seemed even more incongruous to see this armored man make such a gesture without a single thought as to what anybody might think. Or at least, without any fear of what anybody would do to him for it.

Zejil—and she had granted him the right to call her Zija, as only her family and childhood friends could—watched him in complete stillness and, if he wasn’t mistaken, a touch of sadness. She said something to him then; he heard nothing—maybe she asked him what that sign meant. But she could never tell him why she cared. Even on the same ship…he was free. She still was not. Even here, isolated from the rest of the Guard, even after inviting the alliance with the Starfleet soldiers under Spirodopoulos’ command, there were still those who would kill her if they realized what she was—and especially in this time of shattered hierarchy. Too many violations of the norms, and people were likely to snap.

What was that term he’d used for their observances twenty-two years ago? Yes…primitive ritualistic behavior.

That wasn’t what he saw now. She scrutinized the stars with the knowing eyes of a scientist; in return, they cast their cool white sheen upon her scales. The delicate blue pigments on her forehead and neck ridges iridesced at this touch, and as he watched, he felt as though he saw, obliquely, what it was that had frustrated her so severely that day in the Inquisitorium library. This painstaking study was for her a form of meditation and reverence—when she’d found her efforts frustrated, perhaps she had found it disruptive like the intrusion of his bioelectric field upon her prayer. It meant something to her.

Even if she couldn’t speak openly to the man, she had to know that Spirodopoulos would comprehend her Way in a sense that most of her own species did not—not even her closest friend, who had kept her secret all this time and sown such trust between them that he could ask her to join this rebellion and she barely even blinked before she said ‘yes.’ But that wasn’t the same as speaking and truly being understood. He felt as though he were standing in the wrong place. He wished…he wasn’t sure what he longed for, but something would have to change before he could find out.

But I wouldn’t change Zija.

That much he knew.
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Old November 4 2010, 01:30 PM   #83
Kaziarl
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

It was a great day for his people, a first strike at the stars themselves. And they desperately needed room to expand.

“We need breathing room,” one of his comrades had told the High Chancellor and the other members of the council.

As Commander K’mot looked out from the observation deck of the orbital facility, he could not help but think of that comrade. He had fallen during a feud war, unable to claim the honor of seeing his life’s work accomplished. K’mot swore a blood oath to see that work completed, but still felt it should be his comrade standing here watching as they put the finishing touches on the Imperial Sword.

“You look uneasy commander,” came a voice, one of age and respect. “Is something troubling you?”

“Emperor!” he bowed his head as he turned to the older man. “It is good to see you well.”

“Rumors of my aged health have been greatly exaggerated,” he stated in an as-matter-of-fact sort of way. “Doctors… always trying to prolong our lives so that we might fight one more glorious battle. No, I am forced to say that there will be no more battles for me, but I am honored to see you follow in the steps of lIjHomta'.”

“You give me too much honor my emperor, I am but a simple warrior of the empire.”

“Do not look a gift targ in the mouth K’mot,” he said calmly. “Or it may bite your face off. lIjHomta' left us many generations ago, pointing to a single star and telling our forefathers that he could be found there. Now you go to the stars.”

“It is only a test flight, a minor event.”

“Cannot a drop of water shape the very mountains; this is but the first of many, I should think.”

“Yes, Emperor.”

“Well, I had better go before the Doctor comes after me,” the Emperor said, then lowering his voice. “If they ask, you didn’t see me, understand?”

“Of course Emperor.”

“And get some sleep; a warrior should be rested on the eve of battle.”



The next day, as the sun rose over the First City down below, K’mot set in the control chair of the Imperial Sword. The craft was little more than a three man scout, armed with projectile explosive warheads and not much else. They didn’t expect to encounter a need for them, but it didn’t hurt to be prepared.

“Control, this is the IKS Imperial Sword,” K’mot said into the communication system. “We’re leaving.”

“Qapla’ Imperial Sword,” came the reply as K’mot activated the drive systems and moved the ship away from the dock on thrusters before shunting power into the main drive.

The ship operated smoothly as they reached minimum safe distance when K’mot spoke again.

“Activate the pIvghor,” he ordered, silently admitting to himself a certain level of excitement.


The test flight went off without a problem, a two day flight to the edge of the tlhIngan system, then a return trip at half power. He knew the Emperor would likely be there to greet him personally, as well as the High Chancellor. And that the majority of the Klingon people would also be waiting for the results of their flight, and that many barrels of blood wine would be opened that night.

“Now that we have reached the stars,” the Emperor said in a speech to welcome the ship back. “Our people will go out and conquer new worlds. It is the beginning of a new age of glory.”


It had been several weeks since that first flight, and K’mot’s blood boiled to return as he sat in his home studying the workings of the ship. There had to be a way to make the new drive work better, to shorten the travel time between stars. As it stood, it would take years to reach the nearest star.

He was so focused on his task that he almost didn’t notice the communication panel signal an incoming message.

“Yes?” he said as he activated the unit.

“You are needed at the Imperial Palace,” barked a member of the Imperial Guard.

“Very well, I shall go shortly.”

“Now.”

Before he could say another word, the screen went dark. K’mot quickly changed into proper attire for a visitor of the Imperial Palace, and called for his servants to make his personal craft ready.


The Palace was an imposing sight, even after the many times K’mot had been there. It was built to strike fear into the hearts of any potential invader during a time when the Klingon people were fractioned, before the death of Molor. Not much had changed in architecture since then, but K’mot briefly wondered if that would change with this new technology.

“What is it?” he demanded of the guard who met him at the main hall.

“We’ve detected something at the extreme edge of our sensor range, moving towards us at fantastic speed,” the guard answered.

“Any idea what it is?”

“The Emperor will explain the rest.”


“Commander K’mot,” the Emperor greeted. “How good of you to join us.”

“I live to serve the Empire,” he replied. “May I ask what is going on Emperor.”

“If I’m not mistaken, we’ve received a signal from someone not of this world.”

“A signal?”

The Emperor gestured to one of the people working in the room, a sort of control center that had been remodeled for the spaceflight experiments. The speakers crackled to life, static at first, but then relaying a distinct sound.

“We aren’t sure what it is,” he explained. “It seems to be a language, but not one we are able to translate.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“We also received this,” he stated, handing K’mot a data device.

“Landing coordinates?” K’mot asked as he looked at the information. “I still don’t understand.”

“It’s simple. Since you were the one in charge of the first mission, I think the only honorable thing to do is have you there when we meet them.”



The alien vessel reached the planet in far less time than it took the Imperial Sword to reach the outer fringes of the solar system. Whoever the visitors were, they were obviously more advanced then the Empire. The alien vessel entered orbit, releasing a smaller vessel to enter the atmosphere which K’mot assumed to be a dedicated landing vessel. Their scans revealed that the power output was far greater than they were able to achieve themselves, proving that faster speeds were possible. He wondered what else they might learn from these visitors.

The craft landed gently, lowering a ramp before the doors to the craft opened. What stepped out, however, was not what K’mot had expected.

“They are bugs?” he heard one of the others ask.

The alien approached them, holding a small cube in it’s (Would it be a hand? K’mot wondered.) K’mot stepped forward, standing as tall as he could to face a creature twice his height.

“I am Commander K’mot of the Imperial Defense Force,” he stated. “To whom do I have the honor of speaking?”

The box made several clicking and hissing noises, which the aliens seemed to understand as they responded in the same manner. After a moment the box took those noises and seemed to translate them with far more efficiency then anything the Empire could accomplish.

“We… see flight. We… help.”

“Help? In what way?”

The creature revealed another piece of technology. ‘Perhaps a gift to the Empire?’ K’mot pondered.

The creature pointed the device at K’mot, and a moment later K’mot was on his knees with pain moving through his entire body. ‘It’s a weapon,’ K’mot realized. ‘The beast shot me, and I didn’t even see it.’

K’mot looked up at the creature as it spoke again.

“We… are Hur’q. We… help ourselves.”






(Authors Note: I took some liberty here. Most people seem to believe the Klingons were conquered by the H'urq prior to attaining spaceflight capabilities. However, I never saw a reason why they would do so. I think, as shown here, the first flight of the Empire is what drew the H'urq to them.)
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Old November 23 2010, 12:52 PM   #84
George1710
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Your thought of making this thread is really very good.... I really appreciate all winning stories....
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Old December 7 2010, 06:13 PM   #85
Thor Damar
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

November challenge winning entry: To betray in deepest consequence


“On the other hand, they are just as likely to convince you to betray us!” Weyoun sneered.

Legate Broca, formally of the Third order, son of the legendary Gul Herok Broca and now the leader of the glorious Cardassian Union, had picked a odd moment to have a sudden epiphany.

This isn’t going the way I thought it would. Perhaps the alliance had not been the best of ideas and it should have been someone else here today. What do I do now? Broca knew that he had a reputation for a certain lack of intellectual rigour and that he was considered to have coasted on his families long and stalwart service to the Union, riding his father’s coattails into a Gulhood but he had also saw himself as a loyal and solid solider for whom authority was naturally obeyed. As he had been an efficient staff officer and maintained correct contact with his immediate superiors his passage to the dizzying heights of central command had been assured without the dangers of combat and the attendant risk of death.

It just made sense to him that the Union needed those with the ability to take the long route and see the bigger picture; after all, anyone could command a Galor.

It was only now that Broca could see just who he really was; a gutless coward so obsessed with maintaining his position and perks that he had allowed himself to become a pathetic puppet who was horribly complicit in the brutal murder of over two million of his fellow Cardassians.

They are first son, before power, honour or any glory. We are Cardassians, it is our privilege and our duty to serve and protect them from all enemies, at any cost. Do not let any baubles and useless titles sway you from that righteous goal.
You are a Cardassian my son. Now go and be that Cardassian that I know you can be...

With his father’s final words ringing through his head, Enbak Broca made his decision and became a Cardassian once more.

“No”

It was just a simple word. Oft misleading to so many and yet here delivered with the upmost sincerity. Unfortunately for the Founder and her Dominion lackeys, irony was not added to their genetically engineered souls. It was a mistake that would cost them dearly.

Weyoun smirked in that irritatingly self satisfied way of his and turned towards his god. “You see, we can trust Broca, he has always been most loyal...”

Before the vorta could continue his smug patronizing speech, the Legate made his move.



There are many things that could and have been said about the sentient beings that originated from Cardassia Prime, the conniving ruthlessness, rampant arrogance and overt pomposity to name but a few and yet amongst all of those there was one salient fact often ignored.

When seriously riled a Cardassian was a truly deadly killer.

The Klingons had their Brak’lul, the Jem’hadar where born soldiers and even the humans when placed into a dangerous situation could become fearless warriors, but the Cardassians had one rare advantage that trumped all others.

In times of great stress or combat the Cardassian body could force itself to undertake great feats of physical strength and dexterity for a short period. The Humans, who had a paler version of this ability, call it adrenaline but the Cardassians had no name for it, simply due to the very rarity of its occurrence.

Whatever it was, Broca put it to very good use. He moved with a startling economy of grace, lunging directly at the closest Jem’Hadar, yanking his plasma rifle out of his hands and with a swift pivot, firing two deadly bolts into both spindly faced minions, killing them both. It had happened so fast that even the genetically engineered reflexes gifted onto two of the Founders finest were lamentably unable to react in time to save their own lives.

Weyoun watched the bodies hit the floor and as his world came crashing down around him, there was only one thought cascading down his terrified soul. No, this should not be happening. I did not see that...

His ruminations found themselves rudely interrupted by the full force of Broca's weapon slamming into his jaw, knocking him unconscious with a sickening crunch and sending the last clone of the celebrated Weyoun line crashing ingloriously to the hard cold surface of the Central Command.

Broca could barely think at the time but even then, as he turned his weapon toward the hapless Founder, he had to wonder just why he had decided to keep the irritating little Vorta alive...

For her part, the being known as the Founder Leader had finally found herself in the exact position that the Great Link had always feared, the scenario that drove them to create the Dominion and to impose their own permanent peace across the galaxy, a drive that had brought her here to this violent solid and her own ending, at which she was her own nemesis. The milliseconds seemed to pass like days for the decaying shapesifter as the being who was worshiped as a god across half a galaxy faced a brief eternity at the end of one of her own weapons.

Unable to change appearance due to the crippling disease and isolated from her loyal servants, the supreme commander of the mighty Dominion had just one last card to play.

Begging for her life.

“Broca, I...”



The Founders pleas were curtailed by the inarticulate roar of the temporarily insane Cardassian as he turned the rifle on the being that had caused his people all this pain and suffering, who had forced him to condone the massacre of his fellow Cardassians and through her people’s interference, had destroyed Cardassia’s vitality and strength.

He fired dozens of high energy bolts into the ruined husk of the Founder never stopping until the floor itself was blackened and ruined, all the while screaming with all the pent up rage and self loathing that had been boiling up within him though the years.

Suddenly Legate Broca came down to Prime as the murderous lust left his body, forcing him to stagger over to the main communication console and use its weight to keep himself in a manageable standing position. He looked around the bunker seeing the dead bodies strewn across the floor and the pile of ash representing the mortal remains of the founder in an incredulous trance.






Broca slowly recovered from his excursion into madness and he began to realise the full force of what he had done. Not these murders, which had become for him an exercise in self preservation and a cathartic release, but the wretched entirety of his misbegotten life.

Every act of sniveling, toadying, cowardly misdemeanors and embarrassing failure haunted him. Every time he had betrayed confidences for his own short term gain and hidden on the Homeworld whilst others had fought and died for his safety. Disgust gripped him and he directed the barrel directly at his worthless face, fully intending to commit a final act of redemption.

That was when he happened to glance at the displays dotted around the command bunker.

The battle in throughout the Cardassia system still raged on with the Federation Alliance being joined by the revolting Cardassian Fleet. Meanwhile, on Cardassia itself millions of Jem’hadar and their new Breen allies awaited instructions from the Founder...

That’s when it hit him.

Yes, so you’ll never be a warrior, with the same glory that your father had. But you’re not him; what you are is Enbak Broca, aide, organiser and bureaucrat.

A slow smile spread across his face as he leaned over the console and got to work...
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Old December 7 2010, 06:14 PM   #86
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Wikuon flinched unashamedly as another explosion tore through the bridge of the Battleship that he served on. He had no idea how any of this could have come to be, all he could see was the once mighty Dominion Expeditionary Force on the verge of suffering a massive defeat, and it was all due to those ungrateful Cardassians whose arrogant refusal to accept their place in the glory that was the Dominion which resulted in this humiliation.

He seethed inwardly as he recalled the three Galor class Destroyers that had crept up on his rear and then fired a volley of plasma torpedoes into the shield generators, crippling his vessel and forcing him to hide amongst the fleet. Not an easy task when you’re one of the largest ships around as the pack of Klingon,Romulan and Cardassian warships headed their way could attest to.

In an abstract way, he admired the Cardassian’s timing since it had expertly delivered near victory to the enemy and as one for whom betrayal and disloyalty were the bread and butter any successful coup de grace was enjoyable.

As long as it doesn’t happen to oneself, he considered wryly grabbing hold of the command podium in order to stabilise himself from the constant rocking of the behemoth around him. “Second” barked First Gen’khom, “order Breen squadron omega to provide cover for us while we affect repairs.”

The subordinate Jem’hadar worked the controls with practiced ease for a few seconds then, hissing with anger and a surprising level of fear turned to both the First and the Vorta administrator to make a troubling report.

“Long range communications from Headquarters are down again, I can’t hail the rest of the fleet. The Breen ships seem to be ignoring all other Dominion ships and are taking a course out of the battle.”

Wikoun refused to believe the ridiculous notion that the Second had essayed. “Preposterous!” he spat contemptuously. “Why would our allies abandon us?”

He used his personal viewer to scan the conflict zone, noting with dismay the ruined order of battle and the increasingly battered Jem’Hadar vessels. He saw the Breen fleet attempting to leave the battle at high impulse, fleeing like the untrustworthy gutless cowards that they truly were.

Stifling the automatic expletive that sprang to mind, Wikoun watched helpless as the Breen entered warp leaving the defenders of the Dominion to face an angry Alpha Quadrant alone. There was a certain joyless pleasure in watching the Breen taking horrendous losses in their retreat as it seemed that the aft impulse manifolds suffered an inconvenient susceptibility to weapons fire, something that the Alliance took impressive advantage of. Not to mention several of my more alert comrades mused the Vorta, having watched the Jem’hadar ships nearest to the Breen punishing them for such arrant treachery with a hail of polaron beams.

Once the war is over we’ll deal with that scum. Shaking all thoughts of the Breen from his head Wikoun ordered the First to move the ship closer to her remaining sister vessels.

“Still no news from HQ?” he asked, more in hope than expectation.
The Second shook his massive head. “No sir must be Cardassian sabotage again. I shall keep trying.”

Wikoun nodded, once again filled with pride in his Jem’hadar soldiers. “Very well, lock targets on...”

He stopped midsentence as he saw a crippled K’vort cruiser approaching the main engine casing of his once proud dreadnaught at full ramming speed.

“Never mind”

As the ship erupted in flames around him, Wikoun’s last thought was that given the circumstances, perhaps being the last clone of his line was for the best...







It had taken a few minutes but he had it down to a fine art form. Broca immediately sealed all the chambers throughout Central Command and quickly released a fatal dose of neurazine gas into each one. Unfortunately this meant the death of several other Cardassians but sadly this could not be avoided.

Once I’m finished here I shall be joining them he thought without any bitterness or recrimination. Other than that, he had fabricated instructions for all Dominion ground troops to remain in their barracks and prepare for any possible invasion attempts. What a blessing the Cardassian mind was.

With the Dominion in perfect disarray in both land and space Broca used one of the more obscure Cardassian encryptions to alert the troops that their oppressors had become completely vulnerable and open to sudden attack. Not that it was needed really, since the wanton destruction of Larkarin City had galvanised the revolutionaries massively but the welcome news that the Headquarters was out of commission had spread like wildfire and widespread assaults bedevilled the occupying forces. As an added element to the dance of death skipping across Cardassia, Broca unleashed the full power of the Central Defense Grid against the unsuspecting Dominion ships in orbit. All suffered existential loss within but seconds.

Broca found a triumphant laugh escaping from his chest as he watched the viewscreen in sheer delight, if this carries on, we shall be free very soon.

His smile became even wider when he realised just who was trying to get into the building.

Looks like Damar is coming home.
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Old December 7 2010, 06:15 PM   #87
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Legate Broca made ready for his illustrious predecessor...




“Then the explosives that we brought aren’t even going to make a dent in it” Kira Nerys said with displeasure. She was crouched down in the ally surrounding the massive form of the Cardassian Central Command with a troop of Damar’s Rebels (as she had mentally dubbed them) desperately trying to find a way inside the fortress.

“You see the problem” Garak murmured unhelpfully. Ekoor, the young gorr who had saved them from a Jem’hadar firing line earlier in what had been a most trying day so far looked around impatiently. “What do we do then?” he hissed urgently.

All eyes turned towards the stoic figure seated in the middle of the group.

Corat Damar, the former leader of the Cardassian Union and current living legend resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the obvious hero worship in the faces of his fellow Cardassians. Even Garak for Prime’s sake, he bemoaned internally. Why do they keep looking at me for the answers? I’m not their messiah, just a pissed off Cardassian!

He cast off his worthless self pity and addressed his loyal army thusly; “I don’t know but I’m through hiding in basements.”

For some inexplicable reason, this set Elim Garak off in a fit of barely suppressed laughter. Damar, irritated at the further display of eccentricity from the former Obsidian Order spy growled at the older man. “I fail to see what’s so funny, Garak...”

Garak turned to him, his whole body shaking with mirth. “Isn’t it obvious? Here we are making ready to storm the castle...willing to sacrifice our lives in a noble effort to slay the Dominion beast in its lair and we cannot even get inside the gate!”

The rest of them all stared blankly at him until the inherent absurdity of their situation sunk in. At which point they all dissolved into manic laughter. This lasted a few seconds before Kira could calm down enough to speak again.

“We could just knock on the door and ask the jem’hadar to let us in...” This set off another round of laughter which was interrupted by the surprising sound of the heavy door in front of them opening with a loud boom.

There was a stunned silence at this as everyone stared at the entrance in surprise which was only broken with Garak’s muttered comment.

“Well major, it would seem that they heard you!”




A few minutes later Damar and his group had walked in mystified confusion though the hallways and corridors of the headquarters, encountering nothing but dead Jem’hadar lying slumped across doorways and on the floors. They were all deeply puzzled until Damar recognised the distinctive smell of the Neurazine Gas.

“Why would Weyoun have all the Jem’hadar killed?” One of the other Cardassians who had joined them asked. Damar snorted, “Perhaps he was sick of watching us die? Anyway that does not matter; we’re almost at the briefing room.”

The door was still locked and Damar gestured to Ekoor who sprung into action laying several explosives at the base and sides of the heavily armoured entrance. Before he could finish his work, the door suddenly opened and the resistance was greeted with a shocking visage.

Broca!”,Damar and several other outraged Cardassians yelled bringing their weapons to bear. The lanky Legate held up his arms and moved out of the way.

“Before you shoot me, a fate that I truly deserve, please hear me out!” With outrage still brazing in his eyes Damar ordered everyone to lower their weapons. He strode up to the former puppet and hissed a dire warning to his successor.

“This had better be good, traitor!”

Broca maintained contact with Damar as he used his left arm to encompass the whole room. “You are of course right, Damar, to call me a traitor and I have indeed committed heinous crimes against our people; but I have tried to do my admittedly limited best to make some small atonements for my wrongdoing.”

Kira laughed mockingly at this spineless Kuas Oakling. “Oh yeah, we can all see that, hiding in this room has really helped to free Cardassia!” Broca merely looked at her, lifting an eyeridge in that always annoying way that the Cardassians seemed to have mastered.

“Maybe you aren’t looking close enough, commander.” He said.

Frowning, Kira Neryrs of Bajor (and Starfleet pro term) glanced around the small room suddenly noticing the dead Jem’hadar and the ash pile before she alighted upon the recumbent form of that unmitigated bastard Weyoun.

Garak looked at Broca with a seeming ...respect. “Was this you doing?” he asked in a low voice.

“Yes, plus all the others throughout the building, not to mention the chaos with the garrison on Prime” Broca answered without false modesty.

Ekoor glanced at the monitors quickly collating all the pertinent data therein. “He’s telling the truth, its chaos out there, the whole planet has risen up against our oppressors!” The bunker was rocked with glorious cheering as the rebels begun to celebrate, with some even busting into ‘Cardassia forever

Sons and daughters of Cardassia stand with pride and strength...

Damar had to put a swift halt to the premature rejoicing as he pointed to the main display showing the chaotic battle being fought above. “We have too much to do now before we can celebrate, our comrades are dying as we speak and our allies are still locked in battle with those dammed Jem’Hadar. We have much work ahead of us.”

It was at that point that Weyoun finally recovered from his earlier beating. The sight that welcomed him was rather disconcerting, to say the least.

“Well hello there!” said Damar, an eager smile on his face.

Weyoun felt a terrible coldness run though his body. This will not go well for me. Thought the Vorta with a severe case of understatement...




Days passed and amongst many other things, the blood soaked conflict known as the Dominion War finally ended.

The abrupt surrender of the entire Dominion military sent ripples across the Alpha and Beta quadrants stunning Admirals, senators and ordinary citizens alike, it was discussed by the Chancellor of the august Klingon Empire as he took Bloodwine with a Captain and an Admiral whilst on Earth a Bolian President and his aide tried to work out just what had happened.

Regardless, it was a time of great celebration and joy for most, although there were many exceptions to prove the rule.



As he looked out at the ruins of a once great city, Gul Verak Djimas was left totally empty by the war’s climatic ending. He bent down to pick up a piece of the rubble, turning it over and over in his gray palms repeatedly. Dozens of other Cardassians, Humans and even Klingons picked their way across the desolate cityscape. Attempts to look for survivors had proven to be useless as the Dominion assault had been total.

Two million Cardassians, sentient beings with loves, fears and desires, who had often just been concerned with providing for their families and serving their planet. Now utterly wiped from the universe by a depraved adversary.

“Where did we go wrong Verak?”

Dijmas dropped the piece of Lakaria and stared into the distance. He felt Ocett’s presence next to him but he could not find the words to meet her heartfelt query. Her boots caused a crunching sound as she stepped over rubble and detritus, moving into his eyeline as she looked towards the blackened patch of land where the fabled amusement centre used to stand. “I went there once” she said pointing at the wreckage “My father took me there before I...”

Gul Malyn Ocett stopped mid sentence as the realisation struck her and the formerly implacable leader broke down in tears for her lost city and family. Dijmas found himself doing something unimaginable, something that no self respecting Gul would have ever done before. He moved to his fellow Lakarian and placed his arm across her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.

They would soon recover and resume their roles as soldiers of a reborn Union but for now, they both mourned the past and looked to an uncertain future.



It hung in the darkness of space, an artificial construction of solemn beauty or unholy terror depending upon whose opinion you sought. For over fifty long and heartbreaking years it had been the site of a brutal unremorseful struggle, in which the mere act of survival entailed extraordinary courage. Then, for four hopeful years it had been a gateway to a new era in exploration, both in the stars and the very souls of the people dwelling within. Soon after the terrible drums of war had sounded and it had become a fortress paying a heavy blood price to the altar of suffering. Now it once again stood on the cusp of a new and brighter age.

Once it was known as Terok Nor, now with the hopes and dreams of ages gone and ages yet to be she basked in the brilliant glory of her new name; Deep Space Nine.

Today history would once again embrace the station.
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Old December 7 2010, 06:15 PM   #88
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

It took place in the main briefing room, which had been especially decorated for this auspicious occasion. The flags of each of the victorious powers owned a place of pride along the walls. The noble eagle of the Romulan Star Empire, its dual Homeworlds firmly protected in its mighty talons, the blood red trefoil of the glorious Klingon Empire displaying the blood of the countless warriors who had given their lives over the centuries, and the serene blue flag of the august United Federation of Planets encompassing all the stars that sheltered under its loving benevolence.

Two more flags joined the three victors, that of the host planet; that most heroic Third Republic of Bajor, the holy symbol of the Prophets representing the profound and enduring faith of the Bajoran people. Next to it was the flag of the most surprising member of the winning side in this war, the Union of the Cardassians. The sigil of that ancient and mysterious guardian of the legendary Tret Akleen himself, the hooded Galor, was the centrepiece of the illustrious banner of this most controversial nation state.

The reason why the Cardassians had such a historic place on this very day stood at the head of the table, feeling very uncomfortable.

Castellan Corat Damar stood quietly between Admiral William Ross of Starfleet and Chancellor Martok of the Klingon Empire. Damar had decided to forgone wearing his military uniform, feeling that it would bring too much negativity, especially here of all places. In fact he had made it his first order of business to retire from the Central Command and had planned to either disappear from public life or to stand trial for his actions.

However the need to rebuild the damaged Union and to head off any attempts to infringe upon the sovereignty of same, had required firm leadership and who better to provide it than the legend of the Cardassian Rebellion himself?

Thus, logic and firm reason resulted in a humble freighter Glinn continuing his bewildering rise to the top and to a former drunk failure of a dominion puppet now accepting the surrender of his once erstwhile allies.

What an odd game fate plays with us all,
Damar mused with a rueful inward smile.

His ruminations were interrupted by the arrival of the Dominion signatories. Several unrecognisable Vorta along with two scowling Firsts slowly made their way to the opposite side of the table with the final member bringing up the rear, Weyoun.

The now defunct senior administrator of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant stepped toward the centre chair never meeting the eyes of anyone present; his face was even paler than usual as he slumped in his chair, the very image of a broken, beaten man.

“Shall we get started” he spoke in a bitter defeated voice.



The hours passed swiftly as the treaty was finalized. Its resulting terms were, as to be expected, punishing for the invading Dominion. All ships and other military equipment and personnel to leave via the wormhole, no Jem’hadar boot was to remain in the Alpha Quadrant, with the evacuation to be completed within a standard Bajorian week. A number of senior leaders, including Weyoun would remain behind to undergo war crimes trials and the Dominion was to provide reparations to every party that had suffered through this war. Furthermore the Dominion would accept responsibility for all acts of terrorism and war crimes that could be directly attributed to either the Jem’Hadar,Vorta or the Founders.

Since the issue of Cardassian war crimes would be dealt with separately by the four powers, the Dominion also had to accept de facto blame for the actions of its Breen allies since the Confederacy had not seen fit to send anyone to the signing.

This fact had briefly united all present in mutual disgust at the Breen.

Still, the final treaty signing went ahead without any complications, and as Weyoun signed the document, there seemed to be a general sense of accomplishment amongst all present.

It was finally over.

Admiral William Harold Ross picked up the Padd containing all the signatures that had been required to confirm the treaty and, with a glance around the room, the Starfleet Commander in Chief started to speak.

“Four hundred years ago a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war...
Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended.”

He paused briefly to take a deep breath. The room remained in a state of deep contemplative silence as he continued;

“We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph and from both we have learned that there can be no going back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we have won in war”

Damar found himself struggling to maintain his composure as he dwelt upon the heartfelt speech by the admiral, myriad thoughts and emotions rampaging through his mind.

He remembered all the millions of Cardassians who had lost their lives in this war, the worlds that had been devastated and the hash struggles that would follow the ending of this conflict. Then, other events, phrases and moments came to the forefront...

Kira, her eyes locked on his as she caustically asked him in a voice devoid of all pity and feeling, “Yeah Damar, what kinds of people give those orders?”
He had hated her with all the fire and passion in his soul, the causal heartlessness, the complete arrogance. How dare she, how DARE she! Damar stood glaring into her eyes with disgust before silently walking to the cockpit of the runabout, not ready to face the loss of his wife and son.
In the end it was Rusot’s death that had begun the change, once again he gunned someone down in cold blood but this time something better would arise from his ruthlessness. And that night, in an empty compartment of their captured ship, Corat Damar wept for the first time as he accepted the bloodprice for his terrible actions as he mourned the loss of so many, including a certain young women whose only crime was to follow her heart . Something that Corat Damar of Cardassia had never done before...


As he came out of the darkness of his wounded psyche he found that Ross’s powerful words had provided him with the final inspiration he needed. It would be a long and hard road but both he and his people would make that journey across the darkness into the light, he vowed solemnly to himself.


Weyoun slowly made his way up from his chair and with a surprising serenity, chose to respond to the Human’s impassioned entreaty.

“It is my fervent hope and desire that day will mark the end of the cruelty and evil of this war, a war that has cost us all too dearly. In signing this treaty, the Dominion will take its first steps towards true cooperation with the rest of the galaxy and, we shall do whatever it takes to achieve that most noble of goals. And, though it may mean little to all who have lost so much, I hereby apologize for the actions of our people, during this war and throughout our contact with you.”

The Vorta had spoken earnestly, without a trace of his former artifice and mockery. His understated yet powerful words had every single being there present reacting with a surprised feeling of relief and even admiration for the moral courage of their former foe. Silence still reigned as the Dominion delegation made a slow and dignified exit.

Understandably no one spoke or even moved for what seemed forever until on voice broke though the contemplative air.

“I think that this calls for a celebration!” said Damar who was surprisingly upbeat having just made a series of crucial decisions that would create a whole new epoch for his people.

Now, he defiantly needed a drink...
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Old December 7 2010, 06:16 PM   #89
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Thank Oralius that the treaty signings went off without a hitch, thought the new head of the Cardassian Central Command, makes my job a whole lot easier. Not that it would be a barrel of laughs anyway, as Verak Dijmas was just finding out for himself.

Sighing softly to himself, the newly minted Legate studied the complicated arrangement on the main viewer. He saw the Union, bruised and shaken by war but undeniably, indefatigably whole.

This meant that the overstretched fleet had to work itself to the bone in maintaining the order and sovereignty of their territory, a task made somewhat less onerous by the success of the Dorvan V treaty. The DMZ was no more, with all the Federation colonies either rejoining the UFP or establishing themselves as independent entities, meanwhile the Cardassian worlds had all opted to rejoin the Union with the surprising addition of several bordering worlds.

Already teams of Cardassian diplomats traveled to each sovereign world surrounding the Union hoping to achieve successful relations. If they follow Ambassador Garak’s successes then we should have a large measure of external security. Since foreign affairs were beyond his preview, the Legate turned his attention back to the trouble spots of his nation.

“Have Gul Erem take the Netork and the Betak to Harkourm and investigate any possible mercenary activities. Check with JaGul Occett on the status of our joint excises with Starfleet and I want hourly updates on that convoy headed to Europa Nova.”

He inhaled and prepared to bark out another string of orders when an amused voice stopped him in his tracks.

“You do know that it is not a requirement of a Legate to lose his voice do you? Believe me; I’ve dealt with more than a few in my time.”

Dijmas turned and smiled warmly at his friend and much needed ally.

“Akellen, I did not except to find you here today! What brings you to these dusty old halls?”

Gul Macet of the Second Order clasped his superiors hand firmly and grinned. To millions of people such a sight would have been distasteful and it would have filled them with disgust just to hear the merest sound of his voice. Luckily Macet was a far better man than his mysteriously disappeared cousin and he had gained the respect of many for his honesty and integrity.

“The Trager is undergoing further repairs and I thought that I would give my crew some much needed relaxation, plus there is the trial of course.”

Legate Dijmas felt a sour depression as he remembered the much publicised war crimes tribunal that began in several rotations. He had thrown himself into his work with abandonment even going so far as to avoid the trial of Weyoun and the other dominion leaders. He did not want to think about that day when he had seen his city in ruins...

Well, enough of this self pity Dijmas rebuked himself, time to get on with things; Cardassia was not rebuilt in a day! He looked at Macet and chucked. “I think that you might be one of the wisest men I know Akellen. Come, join me for some kanar and we shall talk of brighter things! How is young Mekor doing...?”
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Old December 7 2010, 06:17 PM   #90
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

He sat in the cell, listening to the hum of the forcefield, his eyes closed and his body relaxed. Enbak Broca, once a hated minion and traitor, a man who had climbed the dazzling heights of legateship, was now just a prisoner of the state.

This, as far as he was concerned, was a perfect justice.

He heard the sound of several boots approaching his location and as he forced his eyes awake, he saw who had come for him. “It’s time” said Castellan Damar softly.

Broca gracefully stood up and walked to the entrance to his cell patiently awaiting his fate. He looked towards the newly elected leader of Cardassia with expectancy, sure that he wasn’t going to have to wait long for the verdict.

He was right.

A scarce few years ago and Damar would have gleefully shot dead the man in front of him with no moral disquiet and then dumped the body in a landfill outside the capital. Now, he found that he honestly regretted the news that he had to bring.

“You have been found guilty of the following charges by a supreme tribunal of the Cardassian Union. Firstly that you did, with malice aforethought, collude in the deaths of over two million Cardassian citizens. Secondly that you did knowingly collaborate with a foreign power in the subjugation of the Union and her citizens. And finally for the crime of leading Cardassia in a war of aggression against the entire Alpha Quadrant. The sentence for which is death.”

At that last Damar met Broca’s glance with an apologetic look. Both men knew that there was an expedient hypocrisy in these brutal charges, Damar had led the Union for a longer period than Broca and his hands were just as stained with the blood of the innocent.

Unfortunately since the true architect of this disaster, Skrain Dukat, was missing from the known universe; someone had to be the scapegoat for this terrible failure.

Damar was now an icon to his people, his fate and cruel punishment was to live for them, a burden that he had happily embraced.

As had Broca, who finally welcomed his own destiny in the grand scheme of things. He calmly crossed over the threshold and took the first steps into glory.


Legate Enbak Broca had found his Place.


Fin
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