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Old August 25 2010, 09:40 PM   #76
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Religion To Do Good


Historian’s Note: The present-day events of this story take place concurrently with the events of “Take Me Out To the Holosuite” (DS9). The flashback scenes take place fourteen years earlier in the Earth year 2361.


Prologue

2361

The rain fell harder and harder. The sound of the raindrops falling on the concrete housing unit gave the Bajoran woman living inside a feeling of contentment like no other. Tonight, she would be able to sleep soundly. While cradling a phaser pistol, she kept one eye halfway open to watch as her nine-year old son slept.

Their lives were no better on Volan Three, a Federation colony on the Cardassian frontier, than on Bajor. Her days working at a manufacturing plant were long and thankless. She and her son lived in a one-room house with hardly any privacy. At least they now had a house. And she did not have to sell sexual favors to Cardassians or worry about getting a black eye from a Cardassian client or her abusive ex-husband.

A crashing noise outside the house shook her awake. Her first instinct was to make sure her child was safe. She sat at the side of his bed and stroked the boy’s hair. She then headed for the front door, phaser pistol in hand, to find the source of the noise. Outside, a humanoid figure was skulking next to the house. She shined a flashlight on the figure to see a dark-haired Terran male. She grabbed the Terran man by the back of his collar.

“You again,” the woman gasped, shining her flashlight in the man’s face. She instantly recognized his black leather jumpsuit, his graying hair, and his muscular upper body. She had seen this man while she was at work, at the local taverns, and at her son’s school. “Who are you and why are you following me?” she now demanded of him.

“I’m with Starfleet Intelligence,” the man calmly replied. “I’ve been watching you to find it if you’d be a good candidate for participating in special operations on this planet. And you’ve passed the first test.”

“Me? Starfleet?” the woman asked, letting go of the man. “No way, man. I don’t see myself in classrooms for four years.”

The human agent adjusted his collar and his sleeves. “Not all of our agents are Starfleet officers,” he explained of Intelligence. “A lot of our agents are regular people such as yourself. We recruit people who have gone into a lot of dangerous places. It’s just a one-month training program.”

The Bajoran woman momentarily looked away to conceal her annoyance, having realized she was being spied on for a lot longer than she initially believed. “I’m not going back to Bajor if that’s what you’re suggesting,” she insisted.

“I don’t mean Bajor. But we could use people like you to help us keep an eye on the Cardassians.”

The prospect of going after Cardassians was suddenly appealing to her. “Now that you mention the spoonheads,” she said. “What does it pay?”
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Old August 25 2010, 10:04 PM   #77
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter One

2375

The captain’s yacht attached to the USS Lambda Paz was spiraling towards an asteroid. Following a confrontation with two Cardassian patrol vessels, the yacht lost its port nacelle, as well as its ability to stay upright—as the term applied to the vastness of interstellar space. The occupants of the Starfleet support vessel’s cockpit had been thrown out of their seats after the last hit.

Captain Limis Vircona and Ensign Rebecca Sullivan were clutching the deck to get back to the primary and secondary piloting stations. Sullivan got the main piloting station first and tried to steer the ship away from the asteroid. Limis took the other station to get an idea of the situation. Lieutenant Lisa Neeley and Elim Garak returned to the aft side stations from which they were forcibly removed. “Can you get us away from that rock?” Limis impatiently demanded.
“No response from maneuvering thrusters,” Rebecca answered. “I can tell you we will not survive the impact.”

“Greaaat,” Vircona retorted. “That’s some definite encouragement.”

Looking over at Garak and then Neeley, she asked, “Can you transfer power from auxiliary circuits or from some non-essential system.”

“Define ‘non-essential’,” Neeley quipped.

“Anything not relating to propulsion.”

“All transfer circuits are fused,” Garak shouted over the loudening hum of the engine.

“Of course they are,” Limis mumbled. Didn’t think I’d meet my demise this way, she silently mused. “Becca, you and Garak go down to thruster control and try to put some more juice in the system.”

Limis took over the primary piloting station once Sullivan headed below. “Not to put too much pressure,” Limis added, “but impact is in two minutes and twenty seconds.”

“We could try firing two quantum torpedoes at the asteroid’s surface,” Neeley offered. “The shockwave could take us off a collision course.”

“Or it could blow us up,” Limis shot back.

“We’d have to time it perfectly.”

“Every risky decision comes down to perfect timing,” Limis grumbled, rolling her eyes. In other words, death by crashing into big rock or death by explosion. “Prepare the torpedoes, Neeley. Becca, how’s it going down there?”

Down in the lower deck, Garak set down two power packs near an access panel. Sullivan pulled retractable cables out of the packs and plugged them into the panel. She frowned when she saw how slowly power was transferring. “May take longer than we have.”

“At least we can straighten this thing out once we implement Neeley’s plan,” Limis replied. “I’d suggest finding something to hold onto. Fire the torpedoes, Lisa.”

“We’re not close enough,” Lisa protested.

“There’s the asteroid’s gravity well to consider. We still have some margin of error. Fire!”

Two quantum torpedoes erupted from the ship and rammed into the asteroid. As expected, the backwash of the explosion sent the yacht hurdling away. Limis and Neeley clasped their stations as a readout indicated inertial dampeners had failed. “We have an additional problem,” Neeley sang out. “Structural integrity is failing.”

“Anywhere we can set down?” Limis asked.

“There’s a Class-M planet we passed just before the Cardies showed up.”

“I’ll take it. All hands to the escape pod.” Limis entered a command beaming herself and the rest of the yacht’s crew, along with emergency provisions.

A spherical pod jettisoned from the yacht and streaked towards a nearby planet. The yacht exploded once the pod was in the atmosphere.”


Limis had taken the captain’s yacht to pursue her missing chief medical officer. Aurellan Markalis left the ship after the captain had planned to arrest a group of human augments residing on Tagra Four. They had already used a listening post in the Epsilon Trianguli system as a proving ground for a deadly biological weapon. Markalis had infiltrated the group as part of a mission for Section 31. She was not initially interested in being recruited, but Agent Cole took her non-answers as maybes.

Dressed in a short-sleeved navy blue shirt and navy trousers, Aurellan entered the residence of Rhys Darcen, the leader of the Augments on Tagra Four. “Hello,” she called out, upon entry into the stone building. No one was in the foyer, which seemed darker than the last time she was there.

Accompanying her was a tall dark-haired human male. He was the lone survivor of the proving ground. He had been in the Lambda Paz’s sickbay before Markalis escaped with her. She found herself unable to look at him during the shuttle ride, as he was a reminder that she had withheld his genetic status from her captain.

The lights brightened slightly as a familiar face stepped into the room. “Aurellan,” said Darcen. “You’re back already. And, Seamus, you got out of there alive.”

Darcen and the man who came with Markalis quickly embraced. “I was the only survivor,” Seamus reported, wincing with something of migraine headache. “But I may be showing other symptoms of the virus.”

“I could administer something for the headache,” Markalis replied, reaching into her medkit hanging from her right shoulder.

“I’ll be all right for now,” Seamus lied, managing a squint.

Markalis was about to insist when she noticed the two women she had met during her previous visit. A youthful blonde-haired man with an ambivalent facial expression also entered. Looking at Grimaud, Aurellan felt what could be described as a telepathic echo. She remembered a subliminal message in her mind, from after Limis announced her intention to arrest the super-humans. Grimaud looked as human as Rhys, Seamus, Ileana, and Snežana, yet telepathy was never part of the genetic enhancements on humans.

“Does he know?” Aurellan asked him, even knowing he would not answer.

“Of course I know that he’s a Betazoid augment,” Darcen firmly replied, stepping in front of Markalis as Grimaud walked away speechless. “Do you think I would let him probe my thoughts without my permission or even without my knowledge?

“Of course, the doctors at the Daystrom psychiatric center on Galor Four were hoping to suppress his abilities entirely. That’s why we broke him out. Why should such an extraordinary gift go to waste? He knew you were some kind of double agent. He was just trying to make sure exactly where your loyalties lie.”

Markalis quickly blinked her eyes and felt her temples seeing a field of roses. As quickly as they appeared in her mind, the flowers were gone. “He just did it again,” she gasped, looking over at Grimaud. “I saw a field of roses.”

“He’s telling you he likes you,” Darcen explained.

“Great,” Aurellan mumbled almost inaudibly, not knowing whether to be flattered or annoyed that someone was freely probing her thoughts.

“Do you have the gel you had promised us?” Darcen asked while Aurellan was lost in a thought.

“What?” she asked, waking from her momentary trance. Then she remembered the bio-mimetic gel she had offered to sell him when she had first met him. “Oh, yes, it’s on the shuttle.” She forced a smile, considering how direct this man was.


The external hatch of an escape pod flew open. Limis and Neeley used a heavy cargo container as a makeshift battering ram in order to force the door open. The pod has landed on the edge of a dank and musty jungle. The area had patches of swamp. The sun shone very brightly from the west in a dimming sky, suggesting either dawn or dusk.

Sullivan followed them out of the pod. Behind her was a dark skinned human male dressed in older-style military fatigues carrying a fair-skinned auburn haired human male, who was drifting in and out consciousness. The wounded soldier was laid down on his back. Neeley kneeled down in front of him while setting down a first-aid kit while the others went back in the pod to recover more emergency provisions.

Neeley began scanning Les Galloway with a medical tricorder. He began gasping in pain each time he inhaled. “Take slower breaths, Les,” Neeley suggested. “You have a fractured sternum and a punctured lung. You could also have internal bleeding. We’ll get you out of here and you’ll be good as new.”

Breathing was painful enough, so Galloway just answered with a nod.

The rest of the team hastily returned with additional medical supplies. Samaritan Bowers handed Neeley a hypospray loaded with painkillers while Limis opened a case of disinfecting clothes and placed one on the gash on Galloway’s forehead. The captain then walked over to Sullivan to help her haul a bulky piece of equipment.

“Can you get this com-unit working?” Vircona asked.

“Can’t really say yet,” Rebecca answered pensively. “We don’t even know if the right people received our distress call.”

Limis looked back at the MACO soldiers. Neeley and Bowers continued to encourage Galloway to hang in there. Bowers even suggested Galloway would soon be wishing for something that would serve as insect repellent. But Limis could tell from their repeated promises that even they knew their wounded colleague would not see tomorrow. She inhaled slowly to keep from breaking into tears around her subordinates. “What have I done, Becca?” she sighed. “This was my fool’s errand.”

“You’re the captain, Vira,” Rebecca responded shooting her friend a stern look. “You’re always putting your people at risk.”

“They’re prepared to lay down their lives fighting in the Dominion War,” Limis insisted choking back a sob. “I’m only acting on my obsession with bringing down an organization that stomps on everything the Federation stands for. And now that man will die because of my foolishness.”

Limis took slow breaths to keep her emotions in check. She was now recalling how she first became familiar with the rogue intelligence organization that resorted to the kinds of underhanded methods the rest of the Federation and Starfleet outwardly condemned. That was fourteen years ago, coincidentally, about the same time she first met Rebecca. She could not have known then that they would become each other’s dearest of friends.

2361

Fourteen years earlier, a young Limis Vircona was living on Volan Three in a sector in dispute between the Federation and the Cardassians Union. She worked long hours at a manufacturing plant owned by a multi-planetary mining company. The hours were long, and the pay was lousy. At least she made enough to support her son and her overseers didn’t strike her for not working up to par. She frequented the local taverns after her twelve-hour workdays.

She normally got dirty looks from various aliens who could identify her as a Bajoran. At this particular establishment, she was getting curious stares. Perhaps they were enamored by a characteristic that was foreign and exotic. Except most of the patrons were women. Some of them had masculine features: tall, short hair, muscular upper bodies. One of them stood out. A dark-haired adolescent human girl gave inquisitive stares.

Since her childhood, Vircona had heard stories from pre-Enlightenment times that same sex couples were considered sinners, and thus were treated like outcasts. She never believed that to be true, yet her native language had no other term besides “lost souls” for individuals who “lay with mankind like he lay with womankind.” The idea of such coupling still made her feel awkward since she was not ever sexually attracted to other women.

Vircona took a seat at the bar and leaned forward snapping her fingers to get the Tellarite bartender’s attention. The nostrils of his porcine snout slightly widened to let out a snort. She wasn’t sure if this was an expression of disdain, as she not been around many Tellarties. “Let me get a whiskey,” she snapped, trying restrain her derision.

The bartender placed a bottle out from under the bar, and then slammed a glass on the bar.

“This some kind of place for the balik’pagh?” the Bajoran woman asked.

“The who?” the bartender asked, not familiar with the foreign term as he finished pouring her drink and put the bottle back on the shelf underneath the bar.

“What you Federations call lost souls…sinners.”

“Yeah, well we don’t discriminate,” the bartender retorted walking away. He mumbled something unintelligible, which Vircona guessed was a Tellarite swear.

“Nice to meet you too,” Vircona shot back.

She had heard all kinds of stories about Bajoran refugees settling on other worlds. The colony worlds were ideal resettlement locations during the early years of the Cardassian Occupation. Resources quickly dried up as the colonists were gradually forced to fend for themselves. Neighboring races throughout the region welcomed alien visitors. Yet as more and more Bajorans began settling on these worlds, the natives became more contemptuous of the “unwashed.”

The Federation, of course, was more tolerant. Or so she had heard. She had yet to see that kind of tolerance for “her kind” from the various Federation member races residing on Volan Three. But who was Vircona to judge? She had a strong hatred of Cardassians for their callous devaluing of sentient life.

That girl was looking in her direction again. Only this time, she walked towards her. She sat down on the stool on Vircona’s right and smirked. “Mind if I buy you that drink?” the human girl asked.

“I’ve got money,” Vircona sneered. Though she didn’t put any thought into how Federation citizens paid for drinks if they supposedly did not use more conventional currency.

“I’ve never seen you here before,” the girl remarked.

“I don’t date women if that’s what you’re wondering.”
The human girl smirked. She didn’t exactly consider herself a woman who only had romantic relationships with other women, although it was something she had “experimented” with, as adolescent girls called it about three hundred years ago. “Nothing wrong with that,” she quipped.

“I just didn’t feel like my usual place,” Vircona said gruffly, taking a big sip of whiskey. “I’m used to being looked at funny, but not today. Tough day at work.”

“What do you do?”

“I work at that deuterium plant a few blocks from here. It’s exhausting, but it beats working in the Cardassian ore processors.”

“You’re Bajoran,” the human girl stated in order to indicate interest.

“The nose wasn’t enough of a giveaway?” Vircona retorted, finishing her drink. “Whatever, I’m out of here,” she said standing up.

“You sure you don’t want to stay for awhile?” the girl asked, clasping Vircona’s right hand.

“Get your fucking hands off me, you valki,” Vircona angrily hissed. “I told you, I don’t sleep with other women!”

“That’s not it at all,” the girl implored. She never heard what this Bajoran woman just called her, but her anger suggested it was a Bajoran swear word. “I was just looking for someone to talk to. I don’t meet that many people.”

Vircona gave a remorseful sigh, now regretting having hurt this poor girl’s feelings. “I’m sorry,” she said, sitting back down. “I’m just not used to non-Bajorans being nice to me.”

“We humans are supposed to be more tolerant. But some do think they’re superior to those who didn’t live privileged lives. I’m not one of them.”

“Even after what I called you? I work long and stressful days and I have a kid to take care of.”

“You don’t have to explain. Name’s Becca, by the way.”

“Vira,” Vircona answered with a smile. For the first time since coming to this world, she felt accepted by a non-Bajoran. This encounter gave her a new sense of purpose and a renewed sense that maybe she had made the right choice in relocating herself and her son to this place.

In a far corner of the tavern, a man of advanced middle aged was shot a quick look at Vircona. For a very brief moment, Vircona saw staring at her for what felt like five seconds. She wasn’t certain, but he might have been the same man watching her as she dropped off her son at school. Who was he and why was he following her?
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Old August 27 2010, 06:51 PM   #78
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Two
2375
Doctor Markalis scanned Grimaud with a medical tricorder, having expressed curiosity about his enhanced telepathic abilities, as well why he rarely ever spoke. She held a hand sensor to the young man’s forehead while looking at the tricorder readouts. After her last visit to Tagra, Markalis downloaded some basic information on Betazoid physiology and genetics into the tricorder for a point of comparison.

“Higher psilosynine levels in the paracortex,” she observed aloud. “It’s as if the telepathic centers of the brain are never turned off.”

“At least the telepathic inhibitors he’s taken all his life do temporarily silence the voices,” Darcen explained. “And he used Vulcan meditation techniques to learn not to involuntarily see into others’ minds.”

“Glad you’re not always poking around in my head,” Aurellan retorted to Grimaud. “And I read no evidence of traumatic brain injury, or damage to the vocal cords. He can speak. He just chooses not to.”

Grimaud squinted, which sent another telepathic message to Markalis.

“How rude of me,” she replied. “You’re right. I shouldn’t refer to you in the third person when you’re right here. Overall, you have a clean bill of health. Thank you for your time.”

Keeping his ambivalent expression, Grimaud stood up and walked away without even a “You’re welcome.” And people say I don’t have the best of social skills, Aurellan mused, lightly shaking her head.

Markalis then followed Darcen to a laboratory in the catacombs. Seamus was already waiting for them, seated in front of a table with a microscope and about a dozen petri dishes. “You remember Seamus?” Rhys rhetorically asked. Without letting her speak he answered his own question. “Of course you do.”

“We need to learn how to improve the streptococcus strain,” Seamus explained. “We’ve tried to follow the specifications of the Chrysalis Project as best we could. Yet those records are fragmentary at best. I am proof of that.”

Seamus again winced in pain to feel his temples. “Are you sure you don’t require an analgesic?” Markalis asked.

“No drugs,” Seamus insisted, squinting. “They could corrupt your studies of the antibodies.”

Markalis nodded, even though she knew that statement was not entirely true. She had heard of instances where genetic modifications made to create immunity to certain medicinal agents. These humans may have undergone such genetic modifications. She paced over to the table and picked up a hypo-syringe and placed an empty extraction vial in the opposite side of the syringe’s tip.

Seamus tilted his head to the left, so that Aurellan could extract a blood sample from his carotid artery. Afterwards, she quickly removed a vial and injected a chemical into it that would allow her to more easily see the antibodies under a microscope. Her haste was to hide her disgust with using her medical knowledge to improve a pathogen intended for use as a weapon. The sooner this façade was over, she felt, the better.

At the top of the stairs, Ileana stared down at the newest member of her group. Once Rhys saw her, he knew his lover was conducting reconnaissance. She knew from the first time she saw Aurellan, that Rhys was attracted to the doctor. Though knowing that Grimaud had read Aurellan’s thoughts, Ileana considered her more of a threat to steal her man.


Rebecca Sullivan poked around the emergency comm-unit hoping to increase the transmitter’s range. Garak was lending a hand by dismantling a tricorder and converting the power cell to boost its central transponder. If only it had enough power for any kind of transponder to be useful. Rebecca ran a coil spanner over a circuit board in order to recharge it. After placing the board back into its housing, she entered commands for test simulation. The unit slowly hummed to life for a few seconds before all the readout screens went blank. “Damn,” she muttered.

Limis was checking on Neeley’s and Bowers’ progress wit h Galloway when she heard Sullivan’s momentary expression of frustration. She walked over to Rebecca to inquire on what the problem was with coaxing the comm-unit to work properly. “No luck?” Vircona asked, already knowing the answer.

“I can’t seem to keep it running long enough for it to do any good,” Rebecca huffed, wishing their one-time Maquis colleague and now shipmate Erhlich Tarlazzi had accompanied them. “If Erhlich was here… “

“He’s not.”

“I’m saying if I had some help, I’d sooner be able to diagnose the problem.”

“You mean Garak’s not much help?” Limis asked, looking over to the Cardassian mission specialist who had come aboard the Lambda Paz prior to the Kalandra campaign for his expertise in coded Cardassian communications.

“I’m dong the best I can, Captain,” Garak insisted. “With Federation technology, I often forget the difference between a wave-guide converter and a subspace transceiver.”

“You escaped from a Dominion internment camp using alien communications technology,” Limis recalled of Garak’s time in a Dominion prison in the Gamma Quadrant almost two years ago.

“It wasn’t hard to master. Federation technology is a lot more complex. I suppose that’s why the engineers put brown stickers on all their tools.”

“I understand the basic construction,” Sullivan added. “I’m still not able to nail down what’s wrong with this particular unit.”

Limis looked over at the MACO’s to make sure they were not actively listening in on their conversation. “I’m not much of an engineer, and neither are Neeley or Bowers. “Galloway could help if he was in better shape. He was an engineer before the war.”

“I thought you didn’t want to dwell on assets we didn’t have,” Rebecca retorted.

“I’m considering all our options,” Vircona replied, “I don’t plan on dying of malaria in this jungle.”

Limis shot a glance back the barely conscious body of Galloway. Despite those efforts of Neeley and Bowers to keep up his spirits, Limis was still certain those efforts were futile. She was sure hoping to be wrong, meaning forcing Galloway back into consciousness could result in his death rather than his injuries.


2361

When she left Bajor, Vircona swore she would never sell herself to Cardassian military officers. Though that was what Agent Chadwick had her doing on her first infiltration mission to the military base on Volan Three. And she looked the part of a common street prostitute, yet she stumbled to keep her balance in her silver stilettos. She was also making minor adjustments to her miniskirt that barely went down to her thighs during the walk to the main entrance of the base. Of course, she thought the maroon lipstick and eyeliner was overkill.

Vircona’s mission was a day after Chadwick had recruited her, in the middle of the night after her son was sound asleep. She wished she could protect him from burglars, but this mission was also to protect her child as well. She began to notice numerous Cardassian Union logos as she and Chadwick neared the base. Until now, she thought Chadwick was referring to a secret Obsidian Order base of which only a select few were familiar. “Is this a Federation colony or not?” she asked Chadwick, who was as her dealer.

“Federation citizens have settled here,” Chadwick explained, “but this sector is in dispute. Cardassians are allowed to settle here so long as they leave us alone. This base is to assure we keep up our end of the bargain.”

Vircona looked away from Chadwick rolling her eyes. A similar arrangement with the Cardassians on her world led to increased tension between the two races. Before too long, largely thanks to political opportunists, the Cardassian Union had tightened its grip on Bajor to the point where there was no getting rid of the alien invaders. She knew, even if Starfleet did not, that this arrangement was a recipe for disaster. The Federation and the Cardassian Empire were at war. This planet would only stoke the fires of conflict, not douse them.

“Have they kept up they’re end of this tenuous agreement?” Vircona asked skeptically.

“So far, they have,” Chadwick tersely answered. “The mizinite deposits here are plentiful enough to make up for collateral damage suffered during the Betreka Nebula Incident. But the Cardies are naturally suspicious of alien species. Intelligence wants to make sure they are not antagonizing Federation settlers.”

The pair soon approached the gate where two night watch guards were stationed. The young man on the right eyed them suspiciously. He wasn’t sure what to make of a woman with a man so much older than her.

“She has an appointment with the prefect,” Chadwick calmly stated.

“Is that so?” the guard asked giving an up-and-down visual inspection of Vircona.

Vircona quietly snorted in disgust as the guard stared lustily.

“I may want to sample her myself,” the Cardassian added.

“For the right price,” Vircona replied, slightly pulling down the top of her shoulderless attire, though it just barely concealed her breasts. “Three slips of latinum. Though I don’t think you’re experienced enough.”

The guard growled, pointing his rifle at Vircona’s head. Chadwick put his right arm out to nudge the rifle downward. “Now you wouldn’t want to explain a phaser wound on your prefect’s ‘merchandise’,” he said jovially.

The guard lowered his rifle, and then entered a code on the keypad to open the gate widely enough for the two to enter.


Gul Zarrel took a sip of kanar before taking another look at Vircona. He set the glass on the table and motioned for his “purchase” to come closer in order to make sure she was not hiding any weapons. He asked her to make a 360-degree turn so he could make absolutely sure. “For a spiritual people,” he said, “you Bajoran women have strong sexual appetites.”

“I never believed in any of that crap,” Vircona replied.

“We have something in common then. It all strikes me as superstitious nonsense that is a reminder of a part of our culture most of my people want to forget.”

“So when do we get started?” Vircona asked, unfastening her attire, leaving in just black undergarments.”

“My, you seem eager,” Zarrel replied, standing up. He squeezed Vircona’s chin tightly, and then ran his tongue down the left side of her neck and along her bare shoulder.

Vircona looked straight ahead, her eyes widening with fear. Zarrel backed away to remove his military armor and boots. He then gave Vircona a hard shove onto the bed. He mounted her, holding down both her wrists. That was a problem since a sedative was hidden in one of her bracelets.

Nearly an hour later, the hulking Cardassian was falling asleep on top of her. Vircona diverted her gaze from the man’s face to keep his foul-smelling breath off her skin. She felt for the hypospray in a bracelet on her left wrist, and then jammed it against the back of his neck. Vircona nudged Zarrel’s unconscious body off of her. She then walked over to the desk while dressing herself.

Entering a decryption code Chadwick had given her to break into Zarrel’s personal database. She placed a blank isolinear data-rod into the computer port to copy the information. Once the transfer was complete, Vircona placed the rod in her cleavage.

Vircona shot one last glance at the unconscious Zarrel. “Sweet dreams,” she sneered, before puckering her lips.


Several blocks from the base, Vircona fidgeted with her right stiletto when she saw a humanoid figure walking towards her. The masked humanoid in a black jumpsuit was too skinny to be Chadwick. She headed in the opposite and turned a corner at a back alley. Another masked humanoid was running towards her. She tried going back the way she came, but the first humanoid was in front of her jamming a hypospray on the left side of her neck. The second grabbed her from behind and laid her down gently on the ground.

The first humanoid Vircona ran into removed a wand-like device. The device lit and the humanoid waved it over Vircona’s neck and shoulder. The two masked humanoids then ran off leaving Vircona unconscious on the ground.
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Old September 10 2010, 11:32 PM   #79
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Three
2361

Rebecca Sullivan had decided to finish her final two years of secondary school while considering her career prospects. Her parents could not understand the decision. Her academic record was good enough to get her into a good college or trade school before the rest of her peers. Though she had been encouraged to enter Starfleet Academy, Rebecca had no interest in Starfleet. She tried not to think about her parents’ infinitely high expectations, as well as her argument with them that morning over wanting to bring a girl as her date to the school dance while walking to classes.

She didn’t consider that she would stumble across a person lying unconscious on the ground. One minute, she was walking; the next, tripped and fell. She rolled over to see the Bajoran woman she met in the tavern a few days earlier. Vircona woke up suddenly, squinting her eyes open to see the girl who made quite the impression on her.

“B-Becca?” she stuttered.

“Vira?” Rebecca replied. “Why are you sleeping out here?”

Vircona felt her forehead, still feeling groggy from the sedative she was given and trying to think of a cover story for her mission. “I had to work a late shift,” she said, her voice nearly trailing off. “I was too tired to go back home.”

“What about your kid?” Rebecca inquired, helping Vircona up. She wasn’t sure she bought Vircona’s claim about working late given that she dressed like a street prostitute. But Rebecca decided she wasn’t going to judge Vircona and did not ask about the Bajoran woman’s clothing.

Vircona had been asked about leaving her child at home alone overnight, too often in a judgmental manner. Despite Rebecca’s claim to being a more open-minded person, a particular defense mechanism clicked on in her mind. “He can take care of himself,” she snapped. “He knows I have to work late occasionally. I didn’t have much of a childhood myself.”

“I was just curious,” Rebecca apologetically replied.

“I know. I’m used to people thinking that because I’m a single parent. I can’t raise a kid and hold a job at the same time.”

“They’re full of themselves,” Rebecca assuredly stated, as they began taking small steps down the street. “It’s not the most ideal situation for a child. But I’m sure you do the best you can.”

“Thank you,” Vircona answered with a smile. “I’m glad you understand.”

“Earth wasn’t always the paradise it is today. That’s probably what makes some of us a little complacent. Not everyone in the universe has it as easy as we do. New challenges make life worth living, and reminds us of all the challenges that came before we built this utopia humans live in.”

“You’re very insightful at such a young age, Becca. We should hang out again some time.

Rebecca’s cheeks blushed. For a second, she thought Vircona was asking her out. The she remembered Vircona didn’t date women. “Sure,” she quickly blurted out.

“I get off work early. Pick you up after your classes?”

Rebecca just gave a quick and nervous nod, and then slowly began to walk away. She turned around, trying to contain her excitement. This was not a date, she told herself, but she still felt a connection to this woman like no other person she had ever met.

2375

Limis was lost in recalling events of fourteen years earlier when Neeley and Garak returned from scouting the jungle. Limis was hoping they had found some edible vegetation. She sighed discontentedly when seeing they were just carrying the water canteen they were sharing. “Nothing decent?” she asked dejectedly.

“I wouldn’t eat anything in that jungle,” Neeley pointedly replied. “Looks like we’re stuck with boring old field rations.”

“Hopefully not for too much longer in this excruciating heat,” Garak added.

“Don’t Cardassians love the heat?” Limis asked.

Desert heat,” Garak corrected, tugging at his collar. “I can barely tolerate this humidity.”

“You’re not the only one,” Limis answered, taking a few steps backwards and trying to hide her displeasure with a certain odor. How had Neeley dealt with it the last hour? Cardassians certainly valued personal hygiene, but it was still rather poor by the standards of other races.

“We’re going to need Mister Galloway’s help,” Limis continued, “if we’re to get off this planet.”

Once again, Neeley rolled her eyes in annoyance at the very suggestion of asking for a barely conscious man’s assistance. But Limis had made up her mind since Galloway would be dead sooner or later. “Wake him,” Limis instructed Bowers.

“Bowers reluctantly complied, injecting Galloway with a stimulant. Limis looked over the MACO soldier, whose breathing was still labored even though his broken sternum had healed. “We need that comm-unit fixed,” the captain stated. “You up for talking Ensign Sullivan through the repairs?”

“Sure,” Galloway wheezed. “I may still die in this muck, but I can still strive to leave here alive. I thought you Maquis types were experts in repairing outdated equipment that’s supposed to be damaged beyond repair.”

“’Outdated’ being the operative word,” Sullivan quipped. “My expertise is in sending clandestine messages with still working outdated equipment. This thing’s harder to navigate than a labyrinth.”

“First, you need to give the triaxilating circuits enough juice,” Galloway continued through pained breaths. “We want to make sure a Federation or Klingon ship finds us.”

“I’ve been concentrating on those even though their no good in the rest of the unit’s condition.”

“One less thing to worry about,” Galloway remarked through coughing and wheezing. Neeley began scanning his chest with a medical tricorder to monitor the punctured lung. “Next,” Galloway continued, “see if the four torodial antennae dispersed throughout the unit.”

While Galloway continued to talk Sullivan through the repairs, Bowers gave Limis a disgusted stare. That stimulant I gave him better not kill him, he had wanted to say to her.

Rhys and Snežana entered the lab where Doctor Markalis was working to dleiver additional equipment. Aurellan was still looking through a microscope scrutinizing antibody samples. She was heavily concentrated on analyzing the samples, she did not react to their footsteps. Ileana and Seamus, who were setting up petri dishes and hypo-syringes, motioned their cohorts to set the crates down next to the table.

“How is the analysis coming?” Darcen asked Markalis.

“This is one of the most intricate pathogens I’ve ever seen,” Aurellan replied still staring into the microscope and injecting streptococcus samples into a petri dish suspension.

Ileana walked over to the crates to open them. She hid her annoyance at Rhys staring in the general direction of Aurellan’s posterior, but also had felt a measure of relief that Snežana was staring lustily at Aurellan. Rhys could still sense that his lover was giving him an “eyes up here” glare and shot her an innocent grin. Her nostrils flared slightly every time he stared at her cleavage for longer than half a second.

“It’s a major feat of genetic engineering,” Darcen replied. “We’ve still had to build from scratch. “We’ve still had to build from scratch. Much of Kaur’s data was destroyed after the Eugenics War. And rightly so. Letting basics play around with this thing would have been disastrous.”

“That’s why I am starting to manifest symptoms,” Seamus explained.

“Basics?” Markalis asked Darcen. Though she studied the Eugenics War in school, the term “basics” never came up. She had an idea of its meaning in this context.”

“Neurotypical is another term,” Ileana answered, setting down orange and blue cylindrical containers on the table. “People who do not possess intellectual and physical prowess.”

“What are these?” Markalis asked of the containers Ileana and Snežana were placing on the table.

“The T’Lani and Kelleruns called them harvesters,” Snežana answered. “They are genetic disruptors used in their centuries long conflict.”

Markalis felt a twinge in her chest and abdomen. She remembered not to let her eyes widen to conceal her horror at the capabilities of this weapon and that these people were planning to use it.

“They’re mutual hatred consumed them as much as this weapon,” Seamus added. “They were so determined to exterminate each other, they nearly destroyed their planets’ ecosystems. Luckily more enligthened individuals from both planets saw the wisdom in destroying them."

Markalis was lost in the thought of how Earth would have fared had such horrible weapons been used during the Cold War between the United States and Snežana’s ancestors when Seamus began coughing. She thought nothing of the first coughs. Then the coughs became wheezing, as if he would cough out his intestines. Aurellan saw the Augments would not act, and moved to interceded.

“You should lie down,” she offered.

Seamus shook his head as he clutched the table. He grabbed a beaker, which slammed to the floor and shattered as the man fell into unconsciousness.

Markalis took a hypospray out of her medkit. Before she could kneel down and administer it, Darcen effortlessly grabbed the hypospray from her hand and flung it across the room.

“No,” he insisted. “No medicines.”

“He’ll die without treatment,” Markalis implored.

“We can’t guarantee he’ll survive with it,” Darcen hissed. “He knows more important things are at stake. And that he will only be a burden if you needlessly prolong his life.”

Markalis just nodded to hide her shock at Darcen’s disregard for the life of a fellow Augment. If he could devalue Seamus’s life, he certainly thought even less of “basics.”

2361

Vircona landed her hopper, an electronic scooter-shaped vehicle that glided slightly off the ground, near the main entrance of the local high school. Once classes were dismissed for the day, students of varying Federation member races began filing out of the building. A few human boys looking in Vircona’s direction gave approving glances. Maybe the sight of a woman wearing a leather jacket over a pair of form fitting jeans was what appealed to them. She nodded to them and they nodded. Soon afterwards, the girl she was waiting for appeared.

Rebecca was accompanied by two of her female peers, a human with long dark curly hair and an Andorian girl. She was telling them she had to postpone their plans for after school. She pointed to Vircona to identify the person with whom she would be spending the afternoon. The other girls shrugged, wondering who this new friend, especially since she was a Bajoran about ten years older than they were.

“I hope you weren’t planning anything too important,” Vircona remarked to Rebecca.

“No, just the same old stuff we high school girls do,” Rebecca answered with a shrug. “Hang out, talk about cute boys… and girls.”

They both grinned. Vircona then handed Rebecca an extra helmet on the back seat of the vehicle and put on the helmet on her seat. Rebecca draped her arms over Vircona’s shoulders to hold on as she activated the ignition and the vehicle took off.

Vircona took Rebecca to a range of large bluffs and small canyons just outside of the settlement area. They sat at the base of a cliff where they watched the wind brush up clumps of sand. It was unlike any phenomenon on Earth or Bajor. Periodic wind gusts in this arid region would cause clumps of sand to brush up like a cyclone. Rebecca just gazed in awe.

“My son would come here a lot when we first came to this planet,” Vircona recalled. “Soon I had to come here to find out what was so fascinating.”

“Where is his father?” Rebecca curiously asked.

For a split second, she thought Rebecca was judging her, but then considered a part of her life she left on Bajor. “Probably still on Bajor,” she answered hoarsely. “I loved that man when I was your age. Maybe we married too young. He carried a lot of repressed anger, wondering what our people had done to deserve what the Cardassians were doing to us. He would start to take that anger out on me until two years ago. Yanith was getting old enough to know how screwed up his parents’ marriage was. I didn’t want him thinking that sort of thing was acceptable in a marriage.”

“That’s rough,” Rebecca sympathetically replied. That story made her reconsider how thankful she was that her parents had a much more cordial relationship. She could never recall a single instance where her father raised his voice to her mother. Only a deeply disturbed man, she thought, would physically injure his wife.

During about a minute of silence, Vircona had hoped avoid any further discussion of her abusive former spouse. “So,” she said, not sure how to approach this particular question, “how did you decide you were attracted to both women and men?”

Now who’s judging? Rebecca wondered. She giggled at the wording of the question. “We don’t always decide whom we’re attracted to,” she said plainly. “In a game of truth or dare, I kissed a girl… on the lips. It was totally random, but then I found myself open to dating both genders.”

Vircona did not know how to respond. She just listened to the howling of the wind. “Wait until you hear this,” she instructed Rebecca. “It’s something relating to the construction of the rocks.”

The howling slowly became a high-pitched melodic hum. “Amazing,” Rebecca gasped in awe.

They stared off into the distance as the hum continued for nearly a minute until it dispersed. “Truth or dare?” Vircona then blurted.

“Dare,” Rebecca replied, gazing into Vircona’s eyes and clasping her hand.

Vircona gazed into the Rebecca’s eyes. She leaned over kissed Rebecca on the lips. Rebecca’s eyes widened in surprise. Just a few days ago, this woman said she didn’t date other women. Now she was kissing her. Rebecca then leaned over planting a longer open-lipped kiss on Vircona’s lips.


Hours later, when the sun was setting, Vircona landed her hopper in front of Rebecca’s house. From inside, a woman gazed out the window. She did not know what how to react to the Bajoran woman kissing her daughter. Rebecca was slowly walking backwards towards the door when her mother grabbed her by the right arm. “Where have you been?” the older woman impatiently demanded.

“I was just out with a friend,” Rebecca calmly answered.

“You mean her?” her mother sneered, pointing at Vircona.

“I don’t mean any harm, Mrs. Sullivan,” Vircona insisted.

The older Sullivan quickly cut her off. “ Get off my property before I call the police,” she demanded. “I don’t want you pushing your backwards superstitions on my daughter.”

Vircona wanted to respond, but quickly held her tongue. She knew where was not welcome and didn’t decide to push it. She sat in the driver seat of her hopper and sped away.
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Old September 13 2010, 01:31 AM   #80
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Three (continued)

2375
Darcen kneeled in front of a short table, gazing at a flaming lamp, while holding his index fingers together like a steeple. He was performing a Vulcan meditation ritual where he would focus all his mental energy on the flame and tune out any other external stimuli. He heard many historical accounts of how violent others like him were, especially the infamous Khan Noonien Singh and his followers. Given the Vulcan people’s history of violent warfare millennia ago, their meditation techniques seemed an effective way of keeping strong emotions in check.

Of course, he let himself be distracted by the sound of footsteps behind him. “Come in, Aurellan,” he said slowly opening his eyes. He turned his head slightly to see the shadow that Markalis had cast against the wall.

Markalis grinned in embarrassment at being easily identified even though Darcen hadn’t seen her. “That’s a Vulcan meditation lamp, isn’t it?” she observed of the antiquated light source.

“I’m intrigued by their mediation rituals,” said Darcen, still staring at the flame. “But you didn’t come here to talk about Vulcan meditation.”

Markalis was surprised and amazed at how well he knew her already and intrigued by his directness. “Seamus is in really bad shape,” she pointedly replied. “I don’t know that he’ll make it through the night. Not even Vulcans would be as cavalier as you are being.”

Darcen stood upright and growled at Markalis, while shooting her a hostile glare. Her eyes widened in terror. It was the same look of anger her mother gave her if she ever she challenged her authority. So much for keeping his emotions in check. He smiled at her terrified expression and backed off.

“He was my friend since childhood,” he said ruefully as he looked away from Markalis. “He understood the risks involved when we went through with the plan on Epsilon Trianguli. He knew that in the worst-case scenario, he would die in the same gruesome fate as the basics on that outpost. We wouldn’t have thought less of him had he refused to volunteer himself. But he was willing to lay down his life for a greater good.

Those words frightened her more than the threatening posture Rhys took just a few moments ago. The three words she heard over and over again since she entered medical school were, “Do no harm.” Yet this man was using someone he called a friend as guinea pigs in experimentation considered immoral for over four centuries. Darcen had hoped to hide his own emotions by avoiding eye contact. He then looked back at Aurellan.

“I understand people of your breed,” he continued, “often struggle to grasp the concepts of empathy and compassion. “you may not be entirely like us on a genetic level, but I would you think you would understand my position.”

Those words were like a punch in the stomach to Markalis. What did he mean by “people of her breed’? That kind of prejudice was one thing that made “basics” afraid of “augments.” She had often struggled with basic social interaction, and she looked at the universe in a more rational manner than most humans. But she never thought herself capable of Darcen’s level of coldness.

“When my sister was a baby,” Aurellan began to recall of her childhood, “I could never understand why she would start fussing whenever I held her. My mother said I was always too rough on our dog, even when I didn’t think I was.”

Ileana passed by entryway to Rhys’s room. She caught a glance of Rhys showing interest in a story Aurellan was telling him. After she passed by, she tiptoed backwards to keep from attracting Rhys’s attention while listening in.

“My mother would hold me in her arms when I became highly agitated,” Markalis continued. “I often recoiled from physical contact. She was so gentle though. That was how I began to truly understand empathy.”

Darcen’s eyes twinkled, as he became deeply moved. He then refocused his mind when he got a glance of the meditation lamp. “Empathy and compassion are for the weak-minded,” he insisted. “We are prepared to do what others are too afraid to do to end this devastating war. If a few people have to die for the cause, I can live with that.”

Markalis felt a chill on her skin. She realized persuading Darcen was futile and decided not to push it further in order to maintain her cover. “I have to get back to work,” she said demurely, slowly stepping out of the room.

With no warning whatsoever, a hand grabbed Aurellan by the neck and shoved her whole body against the wall. Ileana looked into eyes with a murderous rage. “I don’t know who you really are,” she hissed, “or where you came from. But I will not let you derail our plans. He may find you intriguing, but he loves me.”

Aurellan tried to speak, but couldn’t for as long as this super strong woman gripping her neck.

“If you steal him from me,” Ileana continued, “or if you sell us out, I will snap your neck, which, as you can tell, I am fully capable of doing.”

Ileana then let go of Markalis and stormed off. Aurellan felt her throat and began coughing. She stared down the hall where Ileana had walked away wondering what kind of sociopaths with whom she had gotten involved.
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Old September 17 2010, 06:37 PM   #81
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Four

Aurellan Markalis watched the sunrise over the mountains on the horizon. She analyzed the red giant star and the bright colors that surrounded it intellectually, comparing lighting effect to that of Earth’s yellow sun. She wished she could watch and appreciate the sheer beauty of a sunrise or sunset as most others could. She was distracted from these thoughts when she heard water splashing in the nearby artificial lake.

Snežana emerged from the water. Aurellan gave a light smile. She did not bother to look away, expecting that Snežana would be wearing some type of bathing suit. That was why she let out a surprised gasp when turning her gaze away from Snežana’s fully nude body.

“You mind handing me that towel?” Snežana asked.

Continuing to divert her gaze, Aurellan grabbed a towel draped over a reclined lounge chair on her right and held it out to the Russian-accented woman. Snežana patted her chest with the towel before fully covering herself with it. “You’re a doctor,” she remarked. “You see naked people all the time.”

“Naked dead people mostly,” Aurellan replied, slowly looking back at Snežana, hoping not to see certain feminine body parts. “Those cadavers from med school still give me creeps.”

Snežana had been aware of Aurellan’s presence for some time before Aurellan was aware of Snežana’s. Snežana had deduced that Aurellan was ruminating over the events of the day before. Seamus’s impending demise and Rhys’s cavalier attitude bothered her as well. Of course, Snežana was never one to question any of Rhys’s decisions. “You seem troubled,” she offered, clasping Aurellan’s left wrist. “Tell me what bothers you.”

Markalis began to feel tense at what seemed like a gesture of affection on the other woman’s part. But she was willing to listen to her, so Aurellan did not want to pass up this chance to unburden herself. She sat down on the lounge chair, and Snežana sat down next to her. “That Rhys doesn’t seem to care a close friend is dying,” she said hoarsely. “What does he plan to do with this virus he’s having me work on that he said will end the war?”

“He hasn’t said anything to any of us either,” Snežana replied, placing the palm of her right hand on Aurellan’s left cheek. “I understand the need to make difficult decisions in war, decisions our leaders are not willing to make. The Dominion is unlike any other enemy the Federation has fought. Seamus was willing to give his life so that others of us are not accidentally infected.”

Aurellan still was not feeling any better. She slowly slid Snežana’s hand off her cheek and looked away. She could understand Klingons and Romulans easily volunteering for death. Cardassians were notorious for using sentient life as a means to an end. She had never encountered humans this indifferent. As much as they claimed these decision were difficult, their lack of emotional responses said otherwise.

“You seem uncomfortable around me,” Snežana continued. “But how do you know you are not attracted to the same gender if you’ve never been in a successful romantic relationship?”

Markalis, again annoyed that these people knew so much about her just by her body language and facial expressions, was not sure whether Snežana was asking a rhetorical question. She considered the question for a second, visually analyzing Snežana’s wet black hair and drops of water dripping down her bare shoulders. “You just know,” she answered plainly.

“I never believed that.”

“Stop,” Aurellan insisted, raising her right hand thinking Snežana was leaning over to kiss her. She quickly stood up and walked away leaving Snežana to wonder what drove her off so suddently.


Inside the house, Darcen felt a hand stroke his cheek. He opened his eyes, knowing full well that Ileana was in bed next to him, and clasped her hand to kiss it. Ileana smiled and leaned over to kiss him on the lips while stroking his bare chest. Realizing why she asked him to make love to her last night, he placed two fingers on her lips after a second kiss.

“You were a little hard on Aurellan last night,” he said calmly.

Ileana rolled over, lying on her back and sighing. “I see the way you look at her. Usually, I wouldn’t mind, but she’s tough to figure. How do we know her loyalties are not truly with Starfleet or the Section 31 agents who turned on us?”

“You are correct, my love. That is why I will not reveal the specifics of our plan until she finishes work on the virus? And at the first sign of treachery, I will eliminate her myself.”

Ileana moaned pleasingly as Rhys stroked her right ear. She shot him a devilish smile before getting out of bed. Rhys gave the same devilish smile watching as Ileana walked naked towards the shower.
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Old September 17 2010, 09:23 PM   #82
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Four (cont'd)

Thanks to Sergeant Galloway’s crash course, Ensign Sullivan was able to get the emergency comm-unit in working order. She was able to handle the basics of sending out a distress signal on a Starfleet frequency, while Neeley and Bowers tended to their fellow soldier-- observing that he was going into shock—by scrounging together some mangled up blankets in the emergency provisions.

The general feelings of optimism was interrupted when a legion of ten Jem’Hadar unshrouded. The Starfleet team began running for cover and whisking essential equipment out the way of enemy weapons fire. Limis and Neeley laid down cover fire with hand phasers while the others moved Galloway and the comm-unit into the jungle. They managed to hit two of the enemy soldiers, but the rest kept coming unfazed.

Bowers and Garak joined the women, handing them extra phaser rifles before using their own rifles to keep shooting at the Jem’Hadar. The shots managed to take down the left and right most soldiers. The four left standing paired off on two sides, continuing to fire their rifles. One Jem’Hadar lunged at Bowers from the left. Bowers pulled a knife from his holster, a Capellan kligat, and hurled it straight into his chest.

Neeley, meanwhile, prepared to arm a photon grenade, but it had no power. That caught her off guard, as the two advancing Jem’Hadar lunged at her and Limis. They were about to go in for the kill when blasts from a hand phaser took them out. Neeley stood upright to Galloway was holding the phaser. Limis was equally astonished to see a wounded man save her life. Galloway suddenly collapsed with Neely and Bowers scrambling after him.


2361
After coming home from her outing with Rebecca, Vircona found Agent Chadwick waiting for her outside her house. The first thing that came to her mind was the welfare of her son. After the night before, she did not entirely trust Chadwick, intuiting that he sent those masked men to ambushed her. “You better have touched a hair on my boy’s head,” she snapped.

“I didn’t harm your son,” Chadwick insisted. “He’s inside sleeping. I have another assignment for you.”

“Nevertheless, let’s go in the back, so you don’t draw too much attention.”

Chadwick curtly nodded and followed Vircona around to the back of the house. “Our Cardassian insiders report that Legate Gorat will be a VIP guest,” Chadwick stated pointedly. “His shuttle arrives tonight.”

“And who is Legate Gorat?” Vircona asked in confusion.
“He’s a influential member of Central Command. Getting into Gul Zarrel’s personal database was big. Gorat would be a major fountain of information.”

Vircona considered the proposal for a long moment. Any chance to gather incriminating information on the highest levels of Cardassian government was an opportunity she could not pass up. “I’m in,” she said quietly.

“Good. It’s the same routnine as last night.”


After finishing her business transaction with the legate, Vircona again encountered the same masked men. Only this time, she put up less of a fight. Again, one of the masked men used a laser device extract cell samples from her neck and shoulders. Vircona waited until her assailants were a considerable distance from her and opened her eyes.

Prior to her latest undercover operation, Vircona had ingested a large quantity of makara herbs, normally a medicinal agent for pregnant Bajoran women, in order to counteract any sedatives she would be given. She followed the sounds of the men’s footfalls down an alley. Upon turning the corner, she looked right, then left. She saw the two masked men on her left and quietly tiptoed after them.

Vircona followed the two men to the cellar of an empty building. She slipped through the door as it was closing, crept down the stairs, and hid behind a set of old wooden crates. The two dark-haired men who had accosted her removed their masks. An older heavy-set human with thinning gray hair was already there waiting for them. She could not make out much of what the three of them were whispering, but they did mention obtaining another sample and having a better understanding of Cardassian genetic and physiological idiosyncracies.
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Old September 18 2010, 03:06 AM   #83
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Four (cont'd)

2375
Ileana and Snežana watched Markalis as she continued her modifications of the virus. Grimaud stood in a corner quietly observing the women. Ileana looked up when she saw Rhys walk down the stairs of the cellar. Though he always tried to keep a cool head and a stoic demeanor, he could not hide his somber expression from Ileana.

“Seamus has died,” Darcen said plainly.

Ileana and Snežana lowered their heads in a moment of silence to mourn their dead friend and colleague. Markalis caught glimpses of the other women’s momentary emotional vulnerability. She could even tell that Grimaud was feeling a sense of loss though his face didn’t show it. After her converstion with Rhys, Aurellan thought she would be able to exploit this from Darcen’s followers.

“But we must make sure his death was not in vain,” Darcen added as he continued down the stairs. “Aurellan, have you finished modifying the virus?”

“I have four different strains of the virus,” Markalis replied. “Human and Betazoid augments could be immune to one or all of them. I don’t have enough antibody samples to run further tests.”

“Of course you do,” Darcen answered sharply. “The four of us.”

Markalis was at a loss for words. Was he actually suggesting that she infect him and his followers with the virus? “You don’t mean… “ she began with hesitation.

“Yes,” Darcen snapped. “I want you to infect each of us with the virus.” Seeing the look of worry on his lover’s face that only one of them would die, he added, “Some ideals are worth dying for, Ileana.”

“Yes, my love,” Ileana replied, as they kissed.

Markalis prepared vials of the four different virus strains and injected Grimaud, then Ileana, and then Snežana. When she stepped over to Rhys, she had a morbid feeling just from his cold demeanor. “Come on,” he snapped. Aurellan placed the last vial into the hypospray injected him with the virus.

“Now that that’s over with,” he said with a slight grin. “Our destination is Ventani Two.”

Darcen saw Markalis’s eyebrows twitch at that planet’s mention. “I trust you know of it, Aurellan,” he continued.
“It was the home of Tret Akleen,” Markalis replied. “He’s considered the father of the modern day Cardassian Union.”

“Correct. It is not one of the most strategically significant sectors of Dominion-space. But it would be a demoralizing blow to the Cardassians.”

“It would send a message that the same fate would befall other planets in the Cardassian Union,” Ileana added.

“Even their home planet,” Snežana chimed in.

The three of them exchanged devilish grins, but Aurellan kept quiet, biting her lower lips to keep from hiding her own fears. Even the residents of Ventani were Cardassians, many of them were innocent civilians. And so far the Dominion had not used biological weapons in its war against the Federation and its allies. An attack of this magnitude would give the Founders an excuse to do just that.


Markalis looked up at the ceiling unable to sleep that night. She was not sure what bothered her more. That she helped with the virus Darcen and his group were planning to unleash, or that she would be partially responsible for so many deaths. Since this was her first undercover assignment, the fact that her actions were part of that assignment offered little consolation. Having not changed out of her daytime clothes, she figured she could make a run for it.

Aurellan tiptoed around the house to make sure everyone was sleeping. Rhys and Ileana were asleep in one room, while Snežana was asleep in another. She could not find Grimaud anywhere, but maybe that was a good thing. But then she had no idea the full range of his telepathy. From a dark corner, the Betazoid did see her exit the front door.
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Old September 19 2010, 11:53 PM   #84
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Five

Erhlich Tarlazzi was pulling another all-nighter two days after the USS Lambda Paz lost contact with the captain’s yacht. The last message from Limis indicated the yacht encountered two Cardassian patrol vessels just outside star system M-317. The transmission terminated in the middle of the message, so the crew was uncertain as fate of the away team. Erhlich was tasked with extrapolating broken up pieces of the last message and to make every effort to reestablish contact. He knew that Vircona and Becca could look out for themselves, so could the MACO’s who had accompanied them. No matter how many times he told himself that each time one of his colleagues went missing, he would not be satisfied until these crewmates were safely back on board.

Though senior engineering officer Charles Logan had been temporarily elevated to executive officer in the captain’s absence, he could not stay out of engineering while Tarlazzi was in charge. Tarlazzi had reminded numerous times how eccentric Starfleet engineers were, and that kept him from going over Chaz’s head by complaining to acting captain Ronnie Kozar.

Tarlazzi was in the process of extrapolating course based on the location and time index of the emergency distress beacon’s activation when Logan called him out to the dilithium chamber. What now? Granted, Logan was the chief, but Tarlazzi was starting to wonder when the commander would leave and let him get some work done.

“This dilithium alignment is off by point six microns,” Logan chided the former Maquis.

“You’re now going to tell me that isn’t within safety specifications,” Tarlazzi huffed. “Those plasma storms we passed through this morning were interfering with the nacelle field emitters… “

A communication alert sounded on the situation room console Tarlazzi was working. He cut his explanation to Logan short to answer the hail “Code Seven emergency transmission,” he said, reading the words blinking on a readout screen in red letters.

“The captain?” Logan asked.

“I doubt that. He’s in his quarters sleeping.”

Logan rolled his eyes wondering if Tarlazzi could go two minutes without cracking a joke. “You know who I’m referring to,” he snapped.

“It’s an encrypted transmission addressed to Captain Limis.”

“But she’s not here. The sender might not know that.”


Ronnie Kozar had been a light sleeper since he first became a troop commander during the last Federation-Cardassian war. It came with the territory of being called in to oversee an emergency situation at a moment’s notice. He was immediately shaken awake when a communications chime sounded. “Go ahead,” he called out while sitting up and slowly increasing the light level.

“It’s Logan, sir,” Logan replied over the audio channel. “There’s an incoming encrypted message for you. We’re routing it to your quarters.”

“Understood,” Kozar sighed. He grabbed a robe draped over the bed and put it on before walking over to the wall-mounted monitor across the room. “Computer, receive transmission. Recognize Kozar, authorization one-one-seven Beta Bravo.”

Pixels on the screen assembled into the seal of the United Federation of Planets. The face of Aurellan Markalis then appeared on the screen to Kozar’s astonishment. He had offered to temporarily relieve her duty when Limis announced her intentions to arrest Darcen and his fellow Augments for their actions on Epsilon Trianguli. “Commander Kozar,” she said, looking over her right shoulder. “Where’s Captain Limis? I have an urgent message for her.”

“She’s off-ship looking for you actually,” Kozar impatiently replied. He bit his lip trying to hide his anger that a Section 31 agent had served as his chief medical officer for the last fifteen months. “Give me one good reason why we shouldn’t have you discharged from the service.”

“I know how this looks,” Markalis implored. “But I am not with Section 31. I left the ship with the survivor from Epsilon Trianguli because of a telepathic subliminal message. One of Darcen’s people is a Betazoid with enhanced telepathic abilities.”

Kozar sighed in disgust not sure whether to believe this explanation. He knew from accounts of her patients that Aurellan had certain tells on her face when she was being less than truthful. This time, she truly believed what she was saying—unless she was being telepathically manipulated to say this.

“Section 31 may trample on the core values of the Federation,” Markalis continued. “But they are charged with protecting the Federation. They tracked down these super-humans to find out what they plan to do with a biological weapon. The target is the Ventani system, home of the founder of the Cardassian Union.”

Kozar kept a calm demeanor as considered the devastating effects of a group of humans using a biological agent to attack one of the most sacred Cardassian colonies. It would validate the Founders’ fear of Solids. He started to speak when static filled the screen. He tried to no avail to reestablish contact.

He walked back to the bed and pressed the comm-panel on the nightstand. “Kozar to bridge. Yellow alert. And set up a secure comm-link with Admiral Dennings in my quarters.”
“Understood,” replied a masculine voice on the audio channel.

Darcen had fired a phaser at the monitor screen Markalis was using. She turned around to see Darcen lunge towards her and clutch her neck. She instinctively grabbed his arm to get him off her. “I had hoped you were spying on Starfleet,” he hissed. “But now I see you are with them spying on us.”
Markalis continued trying to get Darcen’s hand off her neck, even knowing efforts were futile. “I have five times your strength,” he continued. “Do not resist it.”

Markalis released her grasp and Darcen released his. She fell to the ground coughing.


Lisa Neeley held a medical tricorder over the dead body of Les Galloway. The tricorder emitted a high-pitched whine indicating the patient’s vital functions had ceased. Neeley breathed heavily, tears streaming down her face. She was mostly angry with herself for selecting such a young man for this seemingly routine mission. She should have known that no mission in a war zone was routine. She gathered herself and tapped her combadge. “Time of death,” she said calmly, “1600 hours, 13 minutes.”

Bowers stood behind his MACO colleagues watching as Neeley closed the dead soldier’s eyes. He then turned around and shot Limis a disgusted glare. She and Sullivan were observing from several meters away. “Was his life was worth getting us off this planet?” he snarled. “Now that we barely dodged a Jem’Hadar ambush, we may have given away our position. And we’re all as good as dead.”

“Hopefully, a Starfleet ship will find us before then,” Limis ruefully replied.

“What if one doesn’t?” Bowers asked, storming towards the captain, “The Jem’Hadar will send reinforcements once their friends don’t report back.”

Neeley got up, and seeing her subordinate lunging at Limis in a cold rage, turned him and decked him in the jaw. “Before you start complaining,” Neeley snapped as Bowers felt his sore jaw, “I just saved you from a court martial.”

“He is right about one thing,” Limis announced to the rest of the group. “More Jem’Hadar will be here eventually. So we need to get out of here, even if the computer’s grating voice tells us that’s against protocol.”

Not wanting to leave his dead colleague behind, Bowers stood upright and picked up Galloway’s corpse,. Limis and Neeley picked up the emergency comm unit, and began leading the way into the jungle.

Darcen held an unconscious Markalis in his arms as he entered the house. Ileana was waiting for him in the foyer. They did not need to exchange any words regarding what Aurellan was up to. Grimaud, who had warned Rhys and Snežana entered the room as Rhys came throught the front door and set Markalis down on the floor. “She contacted Starfleet,” he explained.

“Then we need to leave right away,” Snežana replied.

“Exactly,” said Rhys.

“What about her?” Ileana asked, indicating Markalis. “Kill her like you said you would?”

“I’d rather use her as a hostage if Starfleet tracks us down,” Rhys answered. “Load everything into the ship.”


A few hours later, a Hideki-class Cardassian patrol Darcen’s group ascended from the surface of Tagra Four. This way, the group would be able to enter Cardassian territory without arousing much suspicion. Once the ship cleared the planet’s atmosphere, it streaked into warp.

TO BE CONCLUDED…
In “A Cause of Greater Worth”
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Old October 7 2010, 07:21 PM   #85
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

"A Cause of Greater Worth"

The crew of the USS Lambda Paz is in a race against time to prevent a group of Human Augments from unleashing a deadly biological weapon on an historically significant planet within the Cardassian Union. While Captain Limis Vircona embarks on a daring rescue of Doctor Aurellan Markalis, she remembers how she had to overcome her hatred of Cardassians to avert a major catastrophe.

Historian’s Note: The present-day events of this story take place concurrently with the events of “Chrysalis” (DS9). The flashback scenes take place fourteen years earlier in the Earth year 2361.


Prologue

2361

Limis Vircona stood behind a set of old wooden containers, watching three humans discussing Cardassian genetic and physiological idiosyncracies. She had been accosted by two of the humans after she carried out a mission for Starfleet Intelligence. Twice, she was sent to a Cardassian observation post on Volan Three posing as a street prostitute selling herself first to the gul in charge of the Cardassian observation post, and then to a visiting legate. Once she had infiltrated the post, she would gather intelligence on her clients. After completing both transactions, she was ambushed by two masked men, though the second time, Vircona had the foresight to ingest large quantities of makara herbs to counteract the sedative.

If the purpose of her infiltrations was to get samples of Cardassian genetic material, Agent Chadwick probably would have said so. Why would they need to resort to such clandestine maneuvering to get their samples? Unless they wanted to create a biological agent to use against the Cardassians. Vircona quickly dismissed that idea since the Federation was not an organization that resorted to biological warfare. Then she heard the three humans not quite having the means to create a suitable biological agent to use against Cardassians.

Vircona’s eyes widened in disbelief. While a number of Terrans she had encountered on this backwoods planet along the far reaches of the Federation frontier came off as presumptuous and sanctimonious, what these men planning was hardly typical Terran behavior. Perhaps these particular humans did not answer to the Federation or Starfleet.

She grabbed part of one of the wooden crates to boost herslef upright. A small chunk of wood broke off, so Vircnoa instinctively ran for the exit from which she came. That brief noise did catch the attention of one of the humans, a heavy-set male with thinning gray hair. He saw the shadow of a humanoid bolting towards the door.He fired his phaser pistol hoping to stop the intruder’s escape. He was only able to put two phaser burns in the door as it was closing.


Vircona headed straight for the residence of Rebecca Sullivan, the human girl she befriended a few days earlier. Rebecca was more open-minded than most of the supposedly enlightened Federation member races who resided on Volan Three. Some of them thought themselves superior to Bajorans because they lived much more privleged lives. Maybe they found Bajoran religious beliefs to be primitive. Perception was very much reality for Vircona, yet Rebecca was more representative of a more enlightened race of people.

Vircona surveyed the back of the house to find the bedroom where Rebecca would be sleeping. She shined a flashlight upwards towards the sky to avoid the appearance of a stalker. She had been on the receiving end when Chadwick was sneaking around outside her one-room tenement. The flashligtht created sufficient light on the window to identify who was inside sleeping. Despite the darkness, she was able to recognize the dark-haired girl. Vircona shined the flashlight towards Rebecca’s bed and quietly tapped on the glass.

Rebecca rolled over on her back letting out barely audible snores. Vircona then banged on the glass with her fist. That shook Rebecca awake. Naturally, she thought an intruder was trying to get inside the house. She leaned down towards the floor to grab a metallic club to attack the intruder.Just as she was trying to roll out of bed, she heard a feminine voice call her name. “Becca! Becca!”

Rebecca turned on the lamp on her nightstand and quickly tiptoed over to the window and instantly recognized her Bajoran friend. “Vira,” she whispered, sliding the glass open. “What are you doing here?”

Vircona crawled through the now open window, landing hands first on the floor. Rebecca helped her back up and sat her down on the bed. “I’m not sure who else to turn to,” Vircona said through labored breaths. “But I think a group of humans are trying to create a biological agent and use it against the Cardassians on this planet.”

“What?” Rebecca gasped before covering her mouth to keep her voice from carrying. She was just as shocked as when Vircona came to the same conclusion. In the two-hundred year history of the Federation, it had never resorted to using biological weapons in its wars. In fact, they were outlawed by nearly every interstellar treaty. “The Federation and Starlleet would never endorse such a thing,” she assuredly stated.

“They’re most likely renegades operating on their own,” Vircona replied.

“Have you tried contacting the authorities?”

“My gut tells me that was Chadwick’s plan all along. He recruited me into Starfleet Intelligence and had me posing as a street whore.”

Rebecca shook her head in disbelief. She remembered that morning the skimpy outfit Vircona was wearing over her long jacket. Vircona cliamed she worked the night shift at a deuterium refinery and then fell asleep in a back alley. “This is a lot to take in,” she said. “So you think Starfleet Intelligence is involved?”

“Maybe they’re a black ops organization. I don’t know…”

The conversation was interrupted by the sound of a feminine voice calling to Rebecca in the hallway. Instantaneously, Rebecca lay down on the bed and turned the light off. At the same time, Vircona dove out of the window.

Ardis Sullivan entered the room without knocking calling Rebecca's name again. “What’s going on?” she demanded of her daughter, expressing both worry and annoyance at being woken up in the middle of the night. “I heard noises.”

“I did hear some banging outside my window,” Rebecca lied. “Might have been the wind.”

Ardis gave a slack-jawed nod while noticing that the window was open, meaning her daughter was sneaking a friend in the house. “We’ll talk in the morning,” she said, heading back out and closing the door.
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Old October 15 2010, 04:50 PM   #86
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter One

2375

The Luna-class USS Derna fell out of the warp on the far side of a moon orbiting an M-class planet firing its phasers at its phasers at two Jem’Hadar fighters flanking a larger battleship. After the enemy fighters took minimal damage, the Derna fired quantum torpedoes at the battleship, whose shields absorbed the hit. The Derna continuing streaking towards the planet at maximum impulse while it fired its aft quantum torpedoes.

“Two more Jem’Hadar fighters coming around from the far side of the planet,” said the blonde female Bajoran tactical officer, Lieutenant Natalia Azin.

“Target quantum torpedoes on those ships once they’re in visual range,” Captain Lenaris Holem called, ascending from his chair and sauntering towards the flight controller, Ensign Ruhn Tabin. “Helm, move us to the edge of the atmosphere before slowing to quarter impulse.”

“How close to the edge?” a young brunette male Bajoran nervously asked.

“As close as you can get,” Lenaris replied.

Commander Casey Johns got up from his chair on the command chair’s right. He was one of a few non-Bajorans of a mostly Bajoran crew. The tall muscular blonde-haired human dwarfed Lenaris by several centimeters. He was not sure what to make of the captain’s risky plan. “It’s going to be awfully close,” he remarked.

“We’re here on a rescue mission,” said Lenaris. “We’re not going to abandon it because it’s difficult or because we’ve run into a couple of bullies.” He looked over to the young male ensign at the port bridge engineering station. “Feed as much power as you can into the lateral thrusters.”

“Slowing to one-quarter impulse,” Ruhn reported.

The bridge began rumbling as the ship was becoming overwhelmed by the planet’s gravity well. The Luna-class starship was not specifically built for atmospheric maneuvering. But neither were Jem’Hadar fighters even though that did not stop them. “Watch the structural integrity!” Lenaris shouted to the male operations officer. At that same moment, enemy weapons fire had everyone on the bridge struggling keep their footing. Lenaris was clutching the arms of his chair as the ship regained its attitude control. “Return fire!” he added.

Natalia quickly regained her footing and lunged back to her station. She also pushed a red button to fire aft torpedoes in the same motion. Two phaser discharges tore into the ventral of both ships sending them spiraling towards the surface.

“Any sign of Captain Limis and her team?” Lenaris inquired.

“They’re not at the coordinates we received,” Ensign Cam Arat grimly replied from the Ops console.

Lenaris expected his executive officer to quote the regulation involving crashed escape pods on planetary surfaces. After all, Johns was assigned there by Starfleet Intelligence to keep a close eye on him after his previous second-in-command was found to be a terrorist operative. “Probably to throw off the Jem’Hadar,” Johns suggested, much to Lenaris’s pleasant surprise.

“Those first three ships we encountered,” Natalia chimed in, “are coming at us from behind.”

“Divert power to aft shields,” Lenaris quickly replied. “Keep our stern on the enemy ships, helm. Ops, lock on transporters and get our people aboard the second you locate them.”

The Derna began firing quantum torpedoes at the battleship and phasers at the flanking fighters. The Jem’Hadar kept closing in with the battleship’s plasma torpedoes tearing off a chunk of the Derna’s aft saucer section.

“Take us further down,” Lenaris barked at the helmsman. “Watch those engines,” he said to the engineer. “We may need warp drive quickly.”

“I have transporter lock,” Cam reported. “Energizing.”

“Transporter room,” Lenaris called over the comm as the bridge continued trembling, “do you have them?”

“We’re all here, Captain,” Limis answered. “One dead on arrival,” she dryly added, referring to the MACO soldier who died on the planet’s surface. Carrying around a dead body seemed morbid and even heavily burdensome. But it was the least Limis could do to honor Les Galloway’s sacrifice so that the rest of the team could be rescued.

“Full impulse till we clear the atmosphere,” Lenaris ordered the flight controller. “Then punch it up to Warp Six.”

The Derna arched upward to escape and then streaked into warp.
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Old October 19 2010, 06:24 PM   #87
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

(Chapter One continued)

The Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel used by Rhys Darcen and his group of fellow Augments left the Tagra system and was on course for the Ventani system. Darcen’s plan was to contaminate the atmosphere of Ventani Two, the home of the founder of the modern day Cardassian Union. He had hoped that Ventani would be the first of many long-standing colonies in the Union deal a demoralizing blow to the Cardassians.

Darcen christened this ship the Phillip Green, after one of the most infamous criminals of Earth’s Third World War. Green had committed terrible atrocities almost all of twenty-fourth century humanity would consider morally unacceptable. On the other hand, Darcen admired Green for his willingness to look beyond moral inhibitions in order to improve the human race. Though Green was not one of the genetically engineered super-humans of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Darcen admired his willingness to make hard decisions in the never-ending struggle for survival.

Aurellan Markalis was tied to a shiny silver-colored chair in unfurnished crew quarters. Her head drooped as she drifted in and out of consciousness, wondering what the near future held. This was not the first time her own carelessness had gotten her captured. Grimaud, a Betazoid with enhanced telepathic abilities would have known of her intent to call for help the second Aurellan had thought of it.

Speaking of whom, the youthful blonde entered the makeshift brig. He stared blankly at Aurellan. As far as she knew, Grimaud never spoke, choosing instead to communicate telepathically. Snežana Ilochko entered behind Grimaud, wheelong in a metal cart. The raven-haired Russian woman batted her eye lashes at Aurellan. She was attracted to the beautiful young blonde since they first met, using that to try to get Markalis to open up to her. Snežana thought she had gotten through to Markalis until she got the mistaken impression she was trying to kiss her.

“Good evening,” Snezana said with a curt smile. “We have a few questions for you. Grimaud will make sure you cooperate.”

Markalis was still feeling groggy despite the stimulant Snezana injected into her carotid artery. She wasn’t certain whether the sedatives in her bloodstream or the concussion Darcen gave her were more of a factor. “You shouldn’t give me stimulants,” she groaned.

“You will survive,” Snezana retorted. “You are not bleeding internally. Now, what does Starfleet plan to do to stop us?”

Markalis gave Snezana a contemptous glare. She was already angry with herself for helping the Augments improve their weaponized virus. Her cover was blown, so why would she help them now? “Why are you doing this?” she demanded.

“For the survival of the human race,” Snezana coldly replied. “For us to live, others must die. This war is among many in a continuous struggle for survival.”

Markalis sighed in disbelief at hearing Snezana echo Rhys’s claims that compassion was for the weak. She glanced at the still blank-face Grimaud, then back at Snezana. “You actually believe that BS?” she asked them curiously.

Snezana looked over her left shoulder as if instructing Grimaud not to respond. He never seemed to respond verbally to anything anyway. She just wanted to make sure he was not at all swayed by the exposed undercover operative.

“So you just do what Rhys tells you? No questions asked.”

Snezana grabbed the hair on Markalis’s scalp, gritting her teeth. “Do not try to play us against each other,” she snarled. “I ask again. What is Starfleet planning?”

“I know nothing,” Aurellan confidently replied.

“Don’t lie. Grimaud can see inside your head. He’ll find out what I want to know.”

Grimaud slowly walked over to Aurellan, looking straight into her eyes. Snezana took a hypospray off the equipment cart and injected Aurellan with it. “You agents train yourselves to block telepathy,” she explained. She kneeled down in front of her prisoner. Grimaud placed his hands on Snezana’s head in order to act as a telepathic conduit between the two women.

Aurellan found herself standing in an endless black void. Yet somehow, she was standing upright rather than floating. Mist was billowing around her. She could sense the presence of Snezana though she was nowhere to be seen. But then in the blink of an eye, Snezana stood in front of her. Instead of her camoflagued colored trousers and black sleeveless shirt, she was now dressed in a form fitting black leather jumpsuit. She was standing so close, Aurellan thought she was going to kiss her on the lips, as she seemed to want to do back on Tagra. Aurellan wanted to walk away, but she couldn’t this time no matter how much she willed herself away.

“Give me your thoughts,” Snezana breathed, through her thick red lipstick. “Let me know what you know.”

“I can’t help you,” Aurellan defiantly answered.

“Don’t resist, Aurellan. I will break through eventually.” Snezana then planted her lips on Aurellan’s.

All of a sudden, Snezana pulled back and began grabbing her head. She was showing symptoms of the virus her group was planning to use against the Cardassians. Darcen had asked Aurellan to infect him, Grimaud, Snezana, and his lover Ileana Roshanak. That was his method of learning which of the four strains to which Augments were immune.

“It’s beginning, isn’t it?” Aurellan taunted, though she would never outwardly take pleasure in another being’s impeding death. IN this case, she had to do whatever was necessary to evict this mental intruder.

“The virus will dissolve your blood,” she continued, “and eat away at your brain. You will get weaker, as you die a slow… painful death.”

Grimaud took his hands off Snezana’s head as he was feeling the same pain as her. They quickly regained their composure, but Snezana was still feeling sharp pains in her forehead. She looked curiously at Grimaud wondering if he was still mentally strong enough to go back into Aurellan’s mind.

Grimaud gave a soft nod yes. Before Snezana could act, she heard a masculine voice in her earpiece. Rhys and Ileana were monitoring the session from the ready room. “That’s enough for now,” he said with a mixed Briitish and Scotish accent. “Try again in the morning.”

The two Augments left Markalis’s room as instructed. Darcen then turned off the oval-shaped wall-mounted monitor behind the desk. Ileana wrapped her muscular arms around Rhys’s chest and rested her head on the side of his left shoulder.

“You’re not giving up that easily,” she snidely asked.

“Of course not,” Darcen replied with a derisive snort. “I had to see what kind of resistance Aurellan would mount. And Snezana’s condition will only worsen. You can try again tomorrow.”

“Why can’t Grimaud do this himself?”

“His ability to communicate telepathically with non-telepathic races,” Rhys explained, “is limited to single words and images. But somehow, he can still act as a telepathic conduit between two people using a Vulcan technique called bridging of minds.”

Ileana smirked wondering what use Grimaud was anyway if he never talked. “So if he becomes ill,” she quipped, “we’re all done for.”

Rhys grabbed Ileana’s arms and shoved her away. “I don’t care for your sarcasm,” he hissed. “He’ll do what he can. Even if Aurellan knows nothing, we can still use her as a hostage. Although I would hate to have to kill her.”

Ileana rolled her eys in annoyance. She knew that Rhys was instantly attracted to Aurellan. Ileana tolerated his eyeing of other women, especially since even Snezana had shared their bed. In this case, the group knew very little about Aurellan, and even her willingness to help was not sufficient to assuage Ileana’s suspicions. “If you don’t have the balls, I’ll be more than happy to do it for you,” she teased.

Rhys raised a hand ready to strike his woman for that emasculating remark. Then he remembered the trait he found most attractive about Ileana was her willingness to set herself apart from stereotypical human women. Hitting her would only validate the antiquated gender roles he wished to ignore. “You will not physically harm her,” he stated plainly. “Once this is over, she’s yours to do with as you please.”

Ileana smiled wickedly. She could hardly wait for the chance to exactvengeance on the peson who nearly derailed their plans.

Within two hours of having retrieved the USS Lambda Paz’s missing personnel, the Derna met up with her sister ship. Executive officer Ronnie Kozar stepped into the transporter room where engineer Erhlich Tarlazzi was already waiting. Kozar just gave a nod of acknowlegement, hoping that the Vulcanoid Rigelian received Commander Chaz Logan’s blessing since the chief engineer was constantly looking over Tarlazzi’s shoulder following the last skirmish with the Jem’Hadar. On a similar note, Kozar thought a lot of the Maquis on board needed a crash course in separating their professional and personal lives. Tarlazzi, Limis Vircona, and Rebecca Sullivan were virtually inseparable in the Maquis, but there was such a thing as too much fraternization in Starfleet.

Kozar glanced over to the transporter chief, ordering him to energize. Limis and her immediately materialized. Sullivan was also on the transport pad, as was MACO chief Lisa Neeley, Sergeant Sam Bowers, and Elim Garak. The most unusual sight was the dead body of Les Galloway, not to mention the presence of a Cardassian mission specialist on the Starfleet ship. Garak, however, many Starfleet reminded themselves, was no run-of-the-mill Cardassian.

“No way I was going to leave him rotting on that planet,” Limis explained to the two medical technicians lifting Galloway’s corpse onto an anti-gravity stretcher.

The captain noticed Erhlich hug Rebecca. Vircona then raised a hand as a reminder to her friend that such a display of affection towards his captain was inappropriate. As the rest of her team exited through the main doorway, Limis, Sullivan, and Tarlazzi walked out a side door with Kozar bringing up the rear. He jogged down a corridor to catch up to his CO. “I received a transmssion from Doctor Markalis,” he said as he overtook her.

Limis did not know how to respond to that name after her efforts to retrieve the chief medical officer went horribly awry. Markalis escaped the ship after Limis announced her intent to arrest Dacren and his group for the attack on the Epsilon Trianguli outpost.

“She says the Augments plan to hit Ventani Two with a biological agent,” Kozar continued. “If they actually are planning that kind of attack on the home of the founder of the modern-day Cardassian Union… “

“The consequences would be cataclysmic,” said Limis, finishing Kozar’s statement.

“A few more dead spoonheads,” Tarlazzi retored. “Big deal.”

“You’re out of line, Lieutenant,” Kozar snapped.

Civilians, Tarlazzi,” Limis added. “That would give the Dominion an excuse to use biological and chemical weapons against us, which, thank the Prophets, they haven’t done to this point.” Then to her first officer, she said, “Kozar, pull up a list of all ships that departed Tagra in the last seventy-two hours and note anything that might seem suspicious. Dismissed.”

She gave that instruction so quickly to be rid of Kozar so she could dress down her former Maquis colleague privately. Kozar was happy to oblige even knowing ship’s discipline was his responsibility. But Limis always seemed to want to handle the Maquis on her own.

“It’s about time someone made those kinds of tough choices,” Rebecca chimed in. “Show those Cardie bastards two can play at that game.”

Limis quietly shooed Erhlich away for a heart-to-heart with Rebecca. For a long moment, Vircona was so gauled by Rebecca’s remark, she was speechless.

“Are you sorry the ‘missiles’ weren’t real?” she then blurted out, referring to the coded message they sent to Rebecca’s now dead husband Michael Eddington, allowing him to retreive from the Badlands. Rebecca sent a message claiming that destructive missile were headed for Cardassia Prime in retaliation for the Dominion’s mass slaughter of the Maquis and any other colonists in the former Demilitarized Zone the Jem’Hader did not hesitate to eliminate. Limis had always wanted to exact some of kind of revenge as well, but this was not the kind of situation where two wrongs made a right.

“Maybe a little bit,” Rebecca ruefully admitted.

“This isn’t the way to do it, Becca. You used to be an idealist. What happened?”

Rebecca smirked, as Vircona knew the answer to that question. “The last fourteen years happened,” she retorted.


2361
Rebecca sat staring at her breakfast, stroking syrup on her barely eaten groat cakes with a fork. She drooped her head downward to avoid looking at her parents. Her mother sat at the end of the table on her right sipping coffee and wondering what Rebecca found so fascinating about a stack of groat cakes. Ardis was also exchanging awkward stares across the table with her husband Raymond. Both parents were patiently waiting for their daughter to explain the univited visitor during the night.

Eventually, Ardis lost patience and loudly thumped her mug onto the table. “That Bajoran woman was here last night,” she calmly said.

Rebecca sighed, sensing an emphasis on Vircona’s race. Just the day before, Ardis referred to the Bajorans’ religion as backwards superstitions. After that incident, Rebecca had avoided conversation with both parents on the subject of Vircona and her plan to bring a girl as her date to a school dance. She especially avoided such discussions with her mother after the surprisingly prejudiced comment. From what she knew about human history, humans had overcome prejudice towards each other but were still capable of prejudice towards non-humans and even non-humanoids.

“She’s Bajoran,” Rebecca retorted. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“I’m concerned about protecting you from yourself, Becca,” Ardis replied. “We’ve matured beyond the need to believe in superstition supernatural forces.”

“So what’s wrong with that?” Rebecca wondered. “There are so many mysteries of this universe. And the Federation is all about diverse points of view.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Ardis relented. “It’s just that…”

Ardis was not sure of how to word his distrust of Vircona when Raymond chimed in. “Her lifestyle makes her a possible bad influence.”

“She’s had a rough life,” Rebecca insisted.

“We’re all been dealt bad breaks every now and then,” said Ardis, “but we don’t all turn into hookers. That’s hardly setting a good example for her kid.”

Rebecca was tempted to explain why Vircona was engaged in prostitution, but then remembered it was part of her work for Starfleet Intelligence, so Rebecca instantaneously decided not to mention it. “Fair enough,” she said instead. “But she says it’s all about making sure the kid has a better life than he could have on Bajor.”

“We’d still like to meet her,” Raymond suggested. “Nothing too formal though.”

“Sure,” Ardis added. “There’s no need to be sneaking around.”

Rebecca was relieved to hear that, but the suggestion made her feel as nervous as introducing a new boyfriend to her parents. “Sure,” she reluctantly answered. She suddenly found her appetite, consuming her meal quickly in order to get out of the room sooner and ruminate privately.

She quietly entered her room not noticing the masked figure standing behind the open door. She walked over to her bed and picked up a duffel bag, setting it down on the bed. The intruder tiptoed over to Rebecca and clasped a hand on her mouth, wrapping the other arm around her abdomen to drag her towards the window.

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Old October 24 2010, 07:01 PM   #88
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Two

2375
Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison looked over Elim Garak’s shoulder as the Cardassian was sifting the lists of ships that had departed Tagra Four in the last seventy-two hours. Morrison had heard during his years of service that Cardassians were known for having photographic memories, though Garak assured him such a notion was mostly a myth perpetrated by the Cardassian military. Garak was still more than happy to help. Just before his assignment to the Seventh Fleet, he had suffered a nervous breakdown from feelings of intense guilt over acting against his own people. A Founder had once warned him of the fate that would befall Cardassia should such an opportunity arise. Now, this latest turn of events that had taken place was now a major opportunity to save Cardassian lives.

So far, Morrison and Garak found nothing out of the ordinary. Every ship on the manifests obtained from Tagran authorities had been legitimately registered. “This could take all night,” the security chief complained.

Commander Kozar sauntered over to the mission operations console behind the tactical station when hearing Morrison voice his displeasure. “Got a hot date tonight?” the first officer teased.

“I had planned an all-nighter reviewing our security protocols,” Morrison sarcastically answered.

“We won’t hold you here too long.”

“We’ve found nothing out of the ordinary so far though.”

“Unless,” Garak chimed in, “the Cardassians make regular cargo runs to Tagra Four.”

Garak magnified an image of a Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel on the station’s monitor screen. Morrison squinted to read the written specifications of the vessel appearing underneath the image. “All Starfleet ships that were in the Tagra system sent us their sensor logs,” Morrison explained to Kozar. “We ran a search algorithm for any evidence of non-Federation vessels and link them to any false ship registries.”

“I just came across a Tarkalian freighter with a forged registry,” Garak added. “It may be this patrol ship the USS Cumberland picked up on a passive scan.”

“Good work, gentlemen,” Kozar said. He turned to address Ensign Sullivan at the helm. “Ensign, we’re forwarding you some specs on a Cardassian cruiser made to look like a Tarkalian freighter on long-range sensors. Once you’ve located it, set a course to intercept.”

“Understood,” Rebecca answered. “We’re on course for the Ventani system. Sensors will be calibrated to locate that ship headed for the same destination.”

Kozar nodded an acknowledgment, then said to Morrison, “Looks like can call it a day, Commander.”

Without even a thank you, Morrison headed for the starboard bridge turbolift. Kozar then began yawning. “I could use some sleep too,” he remarked. “You have the bridge, Mister Huckaby,” he instructed the dark-skinned human ensign at the operations console. “And make sure Mister Garak doesn’t break anything.”

Garak gave a smirk. By his own admission, he seemed more at ease in a Starfleet environment when people did not trust him.


Captain Limis was in a teleconference in the main observation lounge with fellow senior officers. The subject of discussion was how to prevent an attack on a Cardassian colony from rogue super-humans. Each of the officers involved agreed that such an attack would have deadly consequences for the Federation and its allies. Since the war began, neither side had resorted to using biological and chemical weapons. If humans used a biological weapon against an ally of the Dominion, the Founders would certainly retaliate in kind. And while intelligence reports suggested that no prominent Cardassian military leader was outwardly siding against the Dominion, but many in the military were beginning doubting the Dominion’s promises of galactic domination. An attack on Ventani Two, however, would likely give credibility to the Dominion’s anti-Federation propaganda.

“So we’re all in agreement,” said Rear Admiral Edward Jellico, pictured on the top left quadrant of the monitor screen, “that the attack on Ventani must be prevented at all costs.”

Limis and the other participants in the conference all answered affirmatively. To the right of Jellico’s image was Captain Benjamin Sisko, commander of Deep Space Nine and presently leading a training exercise on the USS Defiant. Klingon General Martok, commanding the IKS Negh’Var, appeared on the bottom left quadrant while Lieutenant Commander Worf, commanding the IKS Rotarran, was on the bottom right.

“The question now is how to reach Ventani before the Augments do,” Limis added, “without giving the Cardassians the impression that one of their most historic landmarks will come under attack.”

“The system is of little strategic significance to the Dominion,” said Martok, who was commanding several recon missions into enemy territory, “but the Cardassians will undoubtedly send a garrison of their own to intercept any enemy fleets.”

“What if we warn the Cardassians?” Jellico suggested, much to the annoyance of the other teleconference participants. “Just to remind everyone,” the admiral continued before anyone else could speak, “we’re considering all possible options no matter how outlandish.”

“That would be a mistake, sir,” Sisko said. “It would be no different that allowing the attack to go forward. I was in the unenviable position of having to help the Cardassians track down the Defiant when it fell into Maquis hands. We were not officially at war with the Cardassians then.”

“We will still need to create some kind of diversion,” Worf added, “since the Dominion could still try to use this situation to their advantage.”

“We’re still in the process of locating the Augments’ ship,” Limis stated. “There’s still the possibility of locating them before they reach Cardassian space.”

“But if that doesn’t work out,” Jellico replied, “and it usually doesn’t, have a Plan B ready to put in motion.”

“Understood,” Worf and the two captains answered.

Qa’Pla!” Martok added-- which Limis understood to be Klingonese for success—as the whole screen went blank, leaving only the Starfleet logo.

Limis leaned back in her chair to consider all of her conflicted feelings. She did many things she wished she could undo in her history fighting the Cardassians, including massacring civilians en masse. She tried to rationalize those acts as the ends justifying the means. Of course, that was the Cardassian mentality. In her youth, she often wished to kill as many “spoonheads” she could get her hands on. They did not belong on Bajor. They schemed and plotted to colonize and eventually annex the planet. Now, she was planning to save a large number of Cardassian civilians, much she found herself doing fourteen years earlier.


2361
Agent Chadwick stood outside the back of Vircona’s one-room stone house. The tiny structure had very small windows about six feet off the ground, so most humanoids could not easily peer inside. The lack of a door in the back made this an ideal location for him to wait for Vircona. He would get her attention by tripping over a set of cargo containers, so that would have her checking for intruders.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” she told the heavyset gray-haired man. “My son catches on easily. Sooner or later, he’ll figure out what’s going on.”

“You sent a message marked urgent,” Chadwick answered.
For a second, Vircona could not remember having sent him a message, but Chadwick’s mention was enough of a reminder. “The last two nights,” she explained, “I was accosted by two masked men. And I think they might be trying to create a biological weapon to be used against the Cardassians on Volan Three.”

Chadwick’s eyes widened, but Vircona could tell that reaction was forced by way of his irises drooping down as if wondering how she knew that. “First, let me apologize for deceiving you,” he assuredly stated. “I did recruit you to gather intelligence on the Cardassians. But certain rogue elements within SFI are looking to do more.”

Vircona quietly considered his explanation for a moment, then decided to go along with Chadwick’s ruse by giving soft nods. She had hoped her supposition had been wrong. So now the question was why Chadwick would be so quick to own up to this conspiracy if he was involved.

“They figure that the only way to achieve some kind of lasting peace with them is to always have the upper hand,” Chadwick continued. “They think of the Cardassians as wolves, and that we need to assert ourselves as the superior pack.”

“That was the Resistance’s approach on Bajor,” Vircona recalled of her time on her home planet. “If we couldn’t beat them with superior weapons, we could at least make life as difficult as possible for them.”

“But you didn’t use biological weapons. If these rogue agents did, the long-term consequences would be deadly. The Cardassians have resorted to using bio-weapons in the past. Such an attack would put every Federation colony on the border would be in danger. The problem is, you weren’t supposed to find out about this until a few more of these assignments.

Of course there had to have been a catch, Vircona silently mused. She had worked as a prostitute while in the Bajoran Resistance. She was more than happy to leave that behind when she left Bajor. And when Chadwick first recruited her, she jumped at another chance to act against the Cardassians. “Those guys did mention they didn’t have enough samples,” she recalled.

“But you showed some initiative with those makara herbs,” Chadwick said. “We encourage that in our agents. I’ll be back to discuss your next assignment.”

Chadwick paced down the alley leaving Vircona to contemplate what she was just told. But how did he know about the makara herbs, she wondered.

She walked back into the house where her son Yanith was still eating breakfast. He looked up from his cereal bowl staring at his mother inquisitively when she came back in. “Who were you talking to out there?” he asked.

Vircona felt she could not lie to her son even about her affiliation with Starfleet Intelligence. Like she told Chadwick, the boy was very perceptive and would quickly find holes in any cover story she attempted. “That man is an undercover agent, like in those old Earth stories,” she said calmly, while sitting down on his right. “I’m helping him stop some bad people on this planet.”

“The Cardassians?” Yanith asked.

“Not the Cardassians, son. Some Terrans want to hurt the Cardassians in a way that will just make them madder at everyone else. A lot of the Cardassians are misleading and sneaky. But they’re not all like that. Just like not all Terrans are accepting of differences. It’s important not to judge people just by what race they are. Am I making any sense?”

“I think so,” Yanith replied with a nod.

Vircona kissed her son the forehead and stroked his right cheek. “Now finish your breakfast and get ready for school.”


2375

The Phillip Green was nose to nose with another Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel. Darcen sat in the command chair, staring at the other ship on the viewscreen, waiting for the standard inquiries. Both Ileana and Snezana were seated on his lap.

Though Darcen had reset the ship’s locational transponder to its original frequency after it cleared the Tagra system, a border patrol still requested that the Green prepare to be intercepted. Rhys chose to comply like a “loyal Cardassian citizen.”

Your transponder frequency is not in our records,” the Cardassian gul said over the speakers. “Please state your identity and initiate screen-to-screen communications.

“Do not answer them, Faroun,” Darcen told a dark-skinned man at the starboard tactical station. He nudged the two women aside and sauntered over to the station. “I’ll take it from here,” he said.

Very well,” the gul continued. “Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded.”

“No problem,” Rhys muttered. He entered commands on the panel that sent a swarm of plasma torpedoes into the other ship, blowing it to pieces.

Everyone on the bridge shot surprised stares at Darcen. As far as they could tell, they were sacrificing lives on Ventani Two for a greater good. It was to be the first of several surgical strikes to discourage an enemy from continuing to make war. Even Ileana thought he had taken lives unnecessarily. “Don’t look so surprised, everyone,” he stated calmly. “They’re just Cardassians.”
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Old October 26 2010, 09:05 PM   #89
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Three

Lisa Neeley felt a quick shooting pain throughout in her back as she landed backwards on a mattress that was as thin as a gymnasium floor mat. Comfortable beds were not much of a priority on these ships built for fighting in the Dominion War. That momentary pain was nothing compared to the blood rush throughout her body as she breathed heavily.

Morrison lay on his back on her left, also letting out labored, but contented breaths. They both stared at the ceiling, seeming to avoid looking at each other. After all, this partnership was meant to be frivolous one. As her breathing subsided to a normal rate of inhaling and exhaling, Lisa glanced to her right at the chronometer on the nightstand.

“Is that clock accurate?” she calmly asked.

Mandel leaned upward to see the chronometer read “0532.” -- plenty of time to get a quick sonic shower before going back on duty. “I should hope so,” he whimsically replied.

“Crap,” Lisa muttered, lunging out of the bed with no regard for her lack of clothing. “I have to review the results of the last battle drill with the chief of security,” she continued, flinging undergarments on the floor towards Mandel, “who just happens to be you.”

“As chief of security,” Mandel replied, shoving Lisa back onto the bed, “I’m postponing that review.”

Lisa giggled while leaning upward again and slipping on her undergarments. “Seriously, Mandel,” she said curtly while tying her long mane of red hair into a ponytail, “the captain needs that review by 0800.”

Mandel sighed and began dressing himself, all the while staring lustily at her tall lithe figure.

Rhys Darcen stared at a biographical file on a desk monitor in the ready room. The file was of twenty-first century scientist and entrepreneur William Bell. The man pictured on the file appeared to be in his late sixties or seventies from parched skin on his face, but his hair was still mostly jet-black with a few gray streaks. Darcen was lost in contemplating all the technological innovations of Bell’s with unfulfilled potential for improving humanity when he felt a hand stroke his right cheek.

Ileana nudged the monitor away from her lover and seated herself on Rhys’s lap. She glanced back at the monitor to see what greatly fascinated Rhys, and then planted a lengthy kiss on his lips. “Earth history?” she asked with feigned curiosity.

“William Bell was quite brilliant for a Basic,” Darcen said of the file he was reading. “And for someone of his time. He founded a prosperous company during a time of backward capitalism, but he was a visionary of humanity’s future. Technology back then was always improving for the monetary benefit of the manufacturing companies. But consider a world where technological innovations only serve to improve the species.”

Ileana took another look at the file to confirm her intuition that Bell resembled a familiar individual. Another glance, and the face was certainly familiar. “He looks a lot like Ambassador Spock,” she said.

Rhys leaned closer to the desk while clasping his arms around Ileana’s lower back to keep her from falling over. He studied the image of Bell to find some resemblance to the famed Vulcan scientist and diplomat who had been living on Romulus for almost the last decade hoping to re-unify the long-lost cousin races. “No, not really,” he said with a skeptical wince. “But that’s not important. What’s important is the mission ahead. If attacking Ventani doesn’t convince Federation leaders of the need to use this virus against the enemy, then we’ll attack another Cardassian, then another and another.

“And once this implacable enemy is vanquished, we will begin rebuilding the Federation in our own image so no other great power would dare challenge it. Khan Singh saw the twenty-third century as an era of improved technology making life more luxurious. Sure we can travel the stars, extend life, cure many diseases, but could still easily fall to the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion.

“As far as improving the species on the biological and genetic levels? We’ve been set back centuries by ignorance and fear.”

“I thought you wanted to avoid repeating Khan’s mistakes,” Ileana replied in between kisses on the side of Rhys’s neck.

“I certainly do, my love,” Rhys demurely answered. “He was influenced by artificial social constructs of the time. Ethnicity. Religion. Yet I share his dissatisfaction with what became of humanity when he awoke from his centuries long slumber.”

“You see a great future before us,” Ileana deferently purred. She kissed Rhys on the lips while running her hands along his sleeveless muscular arms.

The moment was quickly interrupted by the sound of the comm chime. “Master, please come to the bridge,” a voice called over the speaker.

Rhys nudged Ileana aside and tapped the comm-panel on the desk. “What is it, Faroun?” he impatiently demanded.

“Federation warship on intercept course, sir,” Faroun answered.

“Bring the prisoner to the bridge,” Rhys whispered to Ileana. He headed for the double-doors that took him straight to the bridge. He descended down a set of stairs, one part of Cardassian architecture he admired that signified respect for a leader from his followers.

“How long to intercept?” Rhys asked his tactical officer he as headed for the command chair occupied by Snežana. She stood up and hooked one arm onto Rhys’s.

“Five minutes,” Faroun answered.

“It’s time to convince them to back off,” Rhys mused aloud.
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Old October 31 2010, 06:30 PM   #90
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

“Any response to our hails?” Kozar asked Morrison, pacing over to the bridge tactical station.

“No, sir,” Morrison replied. “But they have charged weapons.”

“Then you know the drill,” said Limis, ascending from her chair. “Raise shields, ready phasers and quantum torpedoes.”

“They’re hailing us,” Morrison called.

“Put it up,” Limis replied. Her tone was somewhat optimistic, but she was careful not to declare victory in front of the bridge crew just yet.

An olive-skinned man with long dark hair appeared on the main viewscreen. This was the infamous Rhys Darcen Limis had planned to arrest before Markalis derailed those plans. That betrayal was hardly on Limis’s mind at the moment now that Aurellan was a prisoner of these super-humans. “To whom do I have the honor of surrendering?” Darcen gleefully inquired.

“Captain Limis Vircona of the USS Lambda Paz,” Limis replied. “Stand down and prepare to be boarded.”

“Being outmatched, I guess I have no choice,” Darcen retorted. “Except…” With a snap of his fingers, Markalis was placed in front of him. He placed one hand over her scalp and one under her chin. “Turn your ship around or your medical officer is dead.”

Limis, Kozar, and Morrison all exchanged horrified glances. The decision was clear. Limis had read that Augments had five times the strength of most humanoids. “Helm, back us off,” she ordered second Lieutenant Sara Carson.

“Aye, sir,” the youthful brunette manning the conn replied.

“A wise decision, Captain,” Rhys gloated. His image disappeared, replaced by his stolen Cardassian ship.

Limis walked dejectedly over to the center seat. She sat down staring at the viewscreen, recalling a time when Rebecca was taken hostage.


On the bridge of the Phillip Green, Rhys freed Aurellan and began to grasp his temples feeling intense pain in his head. Aurellan used that weakness to kick her captor in the chest. Rhys then lunged upwards towards her, but she came at him with a right hook. Faroun and Snežana jogged towards her and slammed her to the deck. “You sure fight well, my dear,” he snickered. “But you can’t help fight off all of us.”
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