Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CeJay, Apr 14, 2012.
An incoming Borg ship? Aha! Cunning Captain Donners!
“Commander, Hugh’s vessel is entering orbit.”
Texx, sitting in the center seat, looked up after hearing Lieutenant Allenby’s report with a little smile playing on his blue lips. “Right on schedule,” he said. “On screen.”
Even after having been literally sliced apart, the oddly-shaped Borg vessel was still imposing enough to easily dwarf both Starfleet ships as it joined them around New Xenarth.
“Looks like they’ve been busy little Borg,” said DeSoto as he studied the ship on the screen. “Most of the damage appears to have been repaired.”
“Are the Xenarth seeing this?” the first officer said.
Allenby nodded. “Not a chance they’re not. Even with the damage they have sustained recently, we know they have no trouble scanning their own orbit. And right now most of their focus is on this corner.”
DeSoto grinned. “Yeah, they were worried about two Starfleet ships? I’d say they just got a whole lot more scared.”
Texx stood up smoothly. “Belay that talk, Ensign. Otherwise one might get the impression we’re here to intimidate the Xenarth which we most assuredly are not. Hugh simply needs to complete a few repairs while in orbit before they can be on their way.”
The young helmsman couldn’t keep that smirk off his face. “Of course. And that’s all they’re doing.”
The Bolian nodded with satisfaction and then headed for the turbolift. “Good time as any to catch up on paperwork. Bobby, why don’t you take the bridge for a while?”
“Sure … what?” the helmsman swiveled his chair around only to see Texx’s back as he walked towards the exit. Instead he caught the equally surprised look on Allenby’s face who had also whirled around at the unexpected hand-off. Except that her features were quickly turning into an angry frown.
She shot the befuddled pilot a venomous look and then jumped to her feet to follow the first officer before he could get off the bridge. “Sir. Commander,” she called after him.
He turned back around and sighed dramatically as if having expected this.
“Sir, surely you realize that I’m the next most senior officer on the bridge. I should have command in your absence.
“Well, yes, technically—“
“Technically?” she said, clearly fighting the urge to raise her voice too high. “Sir, with all due respect, it’s regulation. I mean … DeSoto isn’t even a senior officer. He’s never even had command duty before. I’m not even sure if he’s certified.”
“You remember what we talked about, Lieutenant. We all have to work together,” he said and intertwined his digits for demonstrative effect. “Consider it a team building exercise.”
“Sir, I must strongly protest. This is not—“
“Protest noted and logged. Now follow my orders,” he said and then practically darted off the bridge to avoid having to explain himself any further to the clearly exasperated woman who was left standing with her mouth hanging wide open in shock.
“Look, it’s not that bad Tess, I promise I’ll follow all the regs in the book,” said DeSoto who had clearly gotten over the shock of being given command much quicker, not to mention better, than Allenby.
She turned around slowly only to find him now standing by his station with a growing grin on his boyish face. It clearly only infuriated her further. Before he could say anything else, she raised a finger in his direction. “Not one more word out of you, Ensign,” she said as she headed back to ops, trying to keep her chin up but unable to keep her shoulders from slouching in defeat.
DeSoto watched her quietly as she took her seat again. “Thing is with being in command and all, I kind of have to give orders.”
She sighed heavily. “We’re in orbit with no apparent threats for light-years around. There are no orders you’ll have to give so just sit back down, keep your mouth shut and wait for the commander to come back,” she said without gracing him with even the shortest glance.
“I’ll sit down,” he said. “But I think I’ll take the captain’s chair,” he added and then found a crewman working on the aft station. “Schmidt, can you take over the helm for me?”
The young, blonde-haired petty officer nodded and quickly stepped up to take the chair DeSoto had just vacated.
That left him free to step up to the captain’s seat and slowly, almost reverently, lowering his backside into it. “This sure is comfortable. And the view is terrific,” he said, clearly hoping that Allenby would take the bait and turn around again with one of her intense glares she liked to reserve for him. She didn’t give him the satisfaction.
So he went to drum his fingers on the armrests and then studied the small imbedded monitors, using the panels to bring up status displays the way he had observed the captain do on occasions. “Everything seems to be fine here,” he said, trying to sound important.
“I’m getting some odd readings from the Borg ship,” said Allenby, fully focused on her station now.
“No, not okay,” she responded angrily. “Something very odd is happening over there.”
“Stop messing with me.”
She turned around to face the man in the center seat, her face a stern mask of professionalism. “I don’t mess around with those things, Ensign.”
He gulped. “Alright, what’s happening then?”
She turned back to her station. “I’m not sure but it almost looks as if—“
“Energy discharge from the Borg vessel,” the large-eyed Kamorian tactical officer shouted from his board, clearly having been caught completely off-guard.
All eyes darted to the view-screen just in time for them to witness a bright lance of emerald-green light being hurled at the Cuffe.
DeSoto jumped onto his feet. “What’s going on?”
“The Cuffe was just hit by an unknown weapon,” said Allenby. “All her systems are powering down.”
“The Borg vessel is turning,” the tactical officer said, his voice sounding ominous.
On the screen Hugh’s ship was quickly facing Agamemnon and their gun points were glowing brightly even before it had completed the maneuver.
“They getting ready to fire on us,” Allenby cried.
“Shields. Raise shields. Do it, do it now,” DeSoto shouted, his voice cracking up noticeably.
But the energy discharges had already been released and instantly found the stationary and unprepared Agamemnon, striking her head on. The ship heaved and buckled under the impact.
The alert siren began howling and the lights on the bridge turned dark red.
“Where are the shields? Do we have shields?” DeSoto asked desperately.
But even before he had finished his question, most of the consoles around him began to flicker and fluctuate. The main lighting cut off.
“We’re experiencing system-wide computer failures. Everything is shutting down. Weapons, shields, life support, everything,” said Allenby as she angrily banged against her console as if trying to pound it back into submission.
“Look,” Schmidt said from the helm. “It’s turning on the planet.”
The Kamorian at tactical confirmed. “It’s targeting the capital city.”
“The captain’s down there,” said DeSoto, clearly unable to believe what was happening. “We have to do something.”
Allenby turned form her station. “You’re in command, you give the orders.”
DeSoto stared at her in disbelieve. “What can we do? I don’t know what we can do with all systems failing. You take command, damn it, I’m just an ensign.”
She nodded. “Alright but first say you’re sorry.”
“Say you’re sorry for turning my breakfast into gagh.”
“I’m sorry, alright. I’m really, really sorry, now take command already.”
On the screen the Borg vessel was bringing its weapons online again, this time those gunports were pointing straight at the surface of the planet.
Tess Allenby stood from her station. “Say you’re sorry for messing with my sonic shower.”
“Are you insane? They’re about to kill the captain.”
But Allenby just crossed her arms under her chest, tapping her foot. “I’m still waiting.”
DeSoto turned to look at the other crewmembers on the bridge to see if anyone else had realized that Allenby had lost her mind. But nobody seemed to have noticed the obvious. He looked back at the screen where the Borg vessel still hovered and then at Allenby standing in the middle of the bridge with seemingly no care in the world that their captain was about to be annihilated.
Then Texx arrived on the bridge. “Ensign, is there something you want to say?”
Then the other shoe finally dropped. “I’m … sorry?” he offered to Allenby. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to you since you’ve been on board. It was childish, out of line and unbecoming of a Starfleet officer.”
She shrugged. “Good enough.”
The lights and all the consoles came back to life instantly. The screen shifted to show what had always been the case. Hugh’s vessel peacefully parked in geosynchronous orbit alongside Cuffe and Agamemnon.
Schmidt and the tactical officers couldn’t hold back chuckles.
DeSoto had never seen Allenby with a smile that big before. In fact he couldn’t remember ever having seen the icy woman smile at all. “That was cruel.”
“But so worth it.”
He looked at Texx who made no effort to keep his own smile in check. “You were in on it? You were all in on this?”
“Okay then, I’ll admit it, I have been totally and completely out-pranked and I feel absolutely devastated,” he said and let himself fall back into his now emptied chair at the conn. “You got me. You got me real good.”
You had me going there for a second. I was in serious WTF?!? mode when it dawned on me what was likely happening.
Texx has got a sadistic streak in him. I like that.
Like TheLoneRedshirt I was taken in by this as well! Brilliantly done.
I'm not quite sure of the appropriateness of such a stunt whilst they're still in a critical situation, but if it's cleared with the captain, and if Texx is monitoring things closely, then I suppose it would be OK.
New Xenarth, 2372
“You ... you suggest these machine people, the Borg, would threaten us with extinction once more?” said the clearly agitated Worker Queen once an assistant had confirmed to both her and her fellow Aggregate member that the Borg vessel had in fact entered orbit moments ago.
Terrence Glover leaned in closer to Donners. “You know that there is a word for what you’re doing here,” he said in a whisper low enough that it would not be overheard by the others. “It’s called gunboat diplomacy.”
“I’d call it a good bluff.”
“This is insanity,” said the Cleric Queen who was now pacing in front of the Aggregate chairs nervously before she looked back to the Starfleet delegation. “You said it yourself, we no longer have the ability to create the Xendaru particle, you’ve seen to that. What possible reason could these Borg have to invade us now?”
“These Borg?” Maya said. “Probably none. But these are not the ones you should be worried about. There are billions of other Borg out there and as you have already learned, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on the Omega particle. And yes, you’re right, you no longer have the ability to create it. For now. But a hundred years ago, after you turned down our offer of friendship, you were in a much similar situation. Back then it also appeared that you were no longer in a position to create that which has led to your near undoing three times now.
Think about what’s best for your people. Are you really willing to risk making the same mistakes you’ve made before and invite your doom a fourth time? You may be determined to swear of Omega now, but so were your predecessors a century ago. All it takes is another unexpected change in your leadership or perhaps a rogue element within your society to start all this over again.
There is an old saying among my people. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. I’m imploring you to learn from your past and choose a different destiny for yours.”
For a moment nobody spoke as Donners’ words were slowly being digested by the two remaining rulers of New Xenarth. Maya could tell that she was making inroads and certainly Liphra appeared to give her arguments due consideration. She couldn’t quite tell if this was because of her oratory and argumentative skills or because of Hugh’s Borg vessel looming in near orbit.
“What would you propose?” the Worker Queen said and immediately received an angry look from her fellow queen in response. She chose to ignore it.
“A Federation protectorate status lasting for at least the next five of your years,” said Amaya. “The Federation would pledge to defend you against any foreign enemies during that period and in turn be allowed to monitor and study your world, from orbit or via a medium-range observation station if you prefer, to learn more about you but also to ensure that no new attempts are made to create the Omega molecule. After those five years we’ll make a mutual decision on the shape the relationship between your people and the Federation should take.”
“And you would agree not to directly interfere with our affairs?”
Maya offered a smile. “As we learn more about you, Queen Liphra, it is my hope that you will also learn more about us. And contrary to what you may have seen us do recently, one of our most valued directives is not to interfere with the internal affairs of other races.”
At that the Cleric Queen offered an angry hiss. “You truly expect us to believe this after you all but went to war with us and killed nearly three hundred of our soldiers?"
Maya cringed inwardly at hearing that figure, the first time since the conclusion of the assault mission that she had been given an indication of the destruction she and her team had wrought on the Xenarth. She was well aware of the number of people she had lost but she had not learned of the casualties on the other side. She managed to keep her outward appearance focused and confident but not without effort.
Surprisingly Liphra responded before Donners had the chance. "Our commanders did advise that many more of our soldiers survived thanks to the Federation troops employing non-lethal force."
The Cleric Queen dismissed this with a quick wave of her lower arm. "What is of consequence is that we were heinously attacked and Xenath blood was spilled. It does not matter if we lost three, three hundred or three thousand."
Donners aimed her steely eyes on Nadelphi. “As I said before, I greatly regret the loss of life on both sides, but make no mistake, if you threaten not just your own world but the entire galaxy the way you have done with the Omega molecule, there are no lengths we are not prepared to go to in order to stop you. But that is all. We would happily offer you advice or assist you at your request but we will make no effort to otherwise interfere with your people.”
The Cleric Queen was not appeased. “Your words sound hollow to the God-Mother and to me as well,” she said and then turned to leave the chamber.
But she left alone. Liphra remained in her seat and even the guards stayed in place, almost as if they had been swayed by the argument of these foreigners.
As the Worker Queen made not comment about her colleague’s departure, Maya continued as if nothing had changed. “There is only one matter we’d have to clarify before we can agree to proceed with what I have proposed.”
“What would that be?”
Maya tapped her combadge. “Donners to Agamemnon. Beam her down, please.”
Within a moment a column of bright blue, shimmering lights gave way to the form of Queen Ket, coalescing between the Starfleet delegation and the one remaining member of the Aggregate in attendance.
The guards tensed at seeing the former Artisan Queen appear.
The Worker Queen stood but then raised her two upper arms to indicate her guards to remain where they stood. Then she addressed the newcomer. “Ket.”
Donners stood as well. “As part of the deal that comes with your Federation protectorate status, I formally request that all charges against Queen Ket are dropped in light of the new evidence presented here today that clearly demonstrates that she has acted only in a manner to protect the Xenarth people from the dangers of the Omega molecule which could have lead to the entire destruction of this solar system, had it not been destroyed.”
Liphra nodded. “The circumstances appear to warrant such action.”
Ket lowered her head gratefully.
“And if I’m not mistaken, after the death of Queen Klestra, the role of Supreme is due to fall onto the Artisan Queen,” said Maya.
The Liphra looked at the Starfleet captain with surprise evident even through those big, round compound eyes. Either surprise at her intricate knowledge of Aggregate affairs or perhaps because she herself had not considered this until that very moment.
“Is this not correct?” said Maya, putting on her most innocent face.
“No,” said Liphra, “you are not mistaken. The Artisan Queen must be the next Supreme. The law demands this.”
“What about Nadelphi?” Glover said. “Will she accept this as well?”
“The Cleric Queen believes in the law as I do. She will not choose to defy them,” said Liphra and then looked back at Ket. “Supreme,” she said. “I stand ready to serve you and the Colony. What are your orders?”
Ket needed a moment to come to grips with the new role which had been bestowed upon her so suddenly, apparently never having expected that an Artisan Queen would hold such power in her lifetime. “Perhaps our first course of action should be to speak to the Cleric Queen and make her understand the new path the Colony has embarked upon. It won’t be an easy task but I am sure you are up to it.”
Liphra jerked her head to the side in acknowledgment. “I will see to it straight away,” she said and then turned to leave the room and find the infuriated Nadelphi to clue her in on the developments which had transpired in her absence.
“I have to say,” said Vej. “That went much easier than I expected.”
“You call this easy?” Chen said.
“Try negotiating anything with a Tellarite delegation and we’ll talk again,” the counselor said with a little smirk.
Ket approached the Starfleet team. “Captain Donners, I would like to once again offer my gratitude to you and all your people for what you have done for mine as well as for me personally. I may not be proud of all my actions but you have shown me that ultimately they were necessary for the good of the Xenarth and the galaxy as a whole.”
“It is us who should be thankful, Ket. Without your help things could have been much worse than what they turned out to be.”
“Do you think you’ll be alright?” said Glover. “Will the Aggregate and the rest of your people follow you and accept you as their Supreme?”
“I do not believe it to be easy. We will have to tread very carefully. Over a hundred cycles ago the Colony was nearly torn apart by civil war brought on by very similar circumstances. It will take all our efforts to prevent a similar disaster to befall us now and to be honest I am not certain if I am the right person to lead my people through this.”
Donners offered an encouraging smile. “In my experience, those most convinced of their ability to lead are usually the least qualified.”
“There are notable exceptions of course,” Glover said.
“In any case, there is much work for me to do in order to prepare the Colony to accept the friendship you and the Federation have offered. And there are many changes I would like to propose to make Xenarth a fairer and more equal society.”
Maya nodded. “If you ask me, I couldn’t think of a better person for the job.”
Ket tried a little nod to show her appreciation. The foreign gesture was jerky but it communicated her sentiment sufficiently.
“And you will remember my other request,” said the captain of the Agamemnon.
“Of course,” she said. “It shall be my first formal act in my role as Supreme.”
“I truly appreciate that,” said Maya. “I guess in that case, there isn’t much more to do than to wish you the best of luck. And regardless of how things will go with your people and the Federation, I want you to know that you will have a friend in us.”
“And you in me, Captain.”
“Sir, with your permission, I’d like to stay a few more moments to speak to Supreme Ket,” said Chen.
Vej immediately threw the chief engineer a concerned look, fully aware of the promise he had made to the Xenarth earlier.
Donners clearly suspected something as well but did her best not to let it show too much. Instead she looked back at the new leader to the Aggregate. “If it’s alright with your host.”
“Very well,” said Donners and then tapped her combadge. “Agamemnon, two people to beam back on board. Please beam Captain Glover back to Cuffe.”
They offered their last goodbyes and then the Starfleet delegation save for Chen dematerialized.
Ket dismissed the guards before she turned back to the Xindi engineer. “When we first met I certainly didn’t expect things to develop in such a manner.”
“None of us did.”
“I was all but ready to leave my people behind and make peace with the fact that I might never see my home again. And now I have become the leader of my people,” she said as she slowly moved closer to the Starfleet officer.
His mandibles curved slightly in an approximation of a smile. “I suppose that would be a little bit of an adjustment for anyone.”
She tilted her head slightly as if she didn’t quite understand.
“Humans tend to call this irony,” he explained. “It is difficult to fully understand but they use it quite frequently. It involves saying one thing and meaning the exact opposite.”
“Humans are strange creatures.”
“That they are,” he said and then after a moment: “I suppose our plans to travel the galaxy together, to guide you across the many worlds of the Federation has been delayed due to recent events.”
“So it would seem.”
“But this mustn’t mean we have to go our separate ways again,” he said. “I could remain here. Perhaps represent the Federation as you convince your people to embrace your new protectorate status.”
“I sincerely wish this were possible,” she said and her feelers noticeably drooped, mirroring her saddened state. “But I cannot imagine my people being ready to accept a foreigner, a Federation representative no less, to live among us so soon after what has happened. The Colony has always been aggressively xenophobic and it will take a great amount of work and effort to make them change their ways.”
Chen looked obviously disappointed by this and it appeared Ket wasn’t quite able to bear to see him that way. She turned away as she spoke again. “I have so many ideas for my people, Chen,” she said as she slowly walked along what remained of the mural covering the walls. “A society which no longer fears or wishes to dominate the galaxy that surrounds us. A society where male and female colonists have the same rights and the same chances. A society where any member can aspire to hold any position and occupation regardless of which caste they were born into. A society which will chose its leaders instead of them being appointed by old-fashioned laws,” she said with a voice which didn’t mask her euphoria and then turned back to the Xindi. “And one day, sooner than later, I hope, we will be just like those Federation worlds you spoke of. Still true to our own culture and traditions but also progressive and forward-thinking and perhaps even ready to become a member of your great Federation.”
Chen took a step towards her. “Noble ideals all.”
“And we can make them reality.”
“But I would be a distraction. I understand.”
She approached him again until they were mere inches apart from each other. “I wish to remake this world into a place that will welcome any visitors with open arms. Including you.”
“Then I shall await that moment with great anticipation.”
Both their heads tilted forward and towards each other until their antennae touched and intertwined and they shared with each other something that went far beyond what words could ever convey.
They enjoyed the experience to the fullest as they both understood that it would be a long time until they would be able to ever do so again.
They had caged him like an animal but Bendes Ketteract didn’t care. He wasn’t surprised that these ignorant and terrified fools had treated him in this manner. He had come to expect it. And it no longer mattered. Not now that he had been given a glimpse at perfection.
For that was exactly what the Omega molecule was. Pure perfection.
And he was the only person in the galaxy who knew how to stabilize it.
Wesley thought that he had destroyed the boronite on the surface and the material was rare enough that it would take decades to source enough of it to attempt to synthesize another Omega molecule. What Wesley didn’t realize nor did the foolish new Queen of the Xenarth, that Chelra was a lot more cunning and resourceful than her fellow Xenarth gave her credit for.
Of course it had been mostly his idea to move some of the Xenarth boronite reserve to a secondary site but in the wake of possible civil war she had agreed and while they had watched Wesley incinerate the main stockpile, Chelra and Ketteract had been assured in the knowledge that a second stash remained in a secure and unknown location.
No matter how cunning however, he doubted very much that the young Scholar Queen would be able to attempt synthesizing any more of the molecule even with the boronite available. The new administration would immediately seize and destroy any remaining boronite if they were made aware of its existence and the resources required to create just one Omega molecule were far to extensive to be able to do it in secrecy.
No, the Xenarth would not be able to make another attempt in quite some time.
That was perfectly alright with Ketteract. He was happy to take the credit himself.
He got out his bulky tricorder and quickly dismantled the bottom to find a large hollow compartment within. Except for it wasn’t hollow anymore.
Ketteract used his fingers to pry into the device and very carefully retrieve a long, smooth brick of pure boronite-235 in its densest form. It wasn’t much but it was more than enough to get started on synthesizing at least a handful of Omega molecules.
As for resources he was not concerned.
It didn’t even matter what Wesley and his crew would put in their reports. Ketteract was well connected within the Federation scientific community and he was convinced that his current status as persona non grata wouldn’t last very long.
It wouldn’t be difficult to convince people to follow him and have the chance to artificially produce the power of gods.
He knew of a scientific research station out in the Lantaru sector far off any trading or patrol routes and away from the prying eyes of self-righteous Starfleet captains like Wesley and their ilk.
It would be the perfect place for the re-birth of the Omega molecule.
“I just can’t get over the thing you pulled on me up there. That was totally cruel but so incredibly beautiful at the same time. One prankster to another, my hat’s off to you,” said Bobby DeSoto, leaning casually against the turbolift wall while Allenby stood mere inches in front of him but refused to turn and face him.
“I am not a prankster,” she said but was not able to keep that little smirk off her face.
“You could have fooled me,” he said. “I mean, man, that was the prank of the century. People will be talking about this for years.”
“Let’s hope not.”
“It really made me see you in a completely new light. The way you got everyone on the bridge, including Commander Texx to play along. Wow, just wow.”
“I don’t need you to see me in a new light.”
DeSoto couldn’t quite help his eyes dropping a little towards her backside. Allenby had a terrific body shape which looked great in her uniform jumpsuit. She was certainly smart and, for the first time, he realized that she had a wicked sense of humor as well. One she had gone to great lengths to hide from anyone.
The turbolift arrived at its destination and the doors opened. “Do me a favor, Bobby.”
“What’s that?” he said even while his thoughts were drifting.
She turned her head to look over her shoulder. “Stop staring at my ass,” she said with a grin and then walked out of the turbolift.
DeSoto looked after her with a dumbfound expression on his face. It took him a moment to dispel it and then quickly ran after her. “You have to admit it’s a pretty fine looking posterior.”
She didn’t slow down as he joined her by her side. Instead she offered him a sidelong glare, making it clear that discussing her anatomy had stopped amusing her a while back.
He gently reached for her arm to stop her. “Okay, listen Tess, I know I’ve been a little out of line with you.”
She raised an eyebrow. “A little?”
“A lot,” he said. “And I know you were mad as hell and you had every right to be. Your whole attitude was just so … uppity all the time, like you were somehow better than everyone else.”
“Better?” she said incredulous. “I’m not thinking I’m better than anyone. But I’m a full lieutenant, Bobby. Maybe I haven’t been for long but still. I’m a senior officer now and I need to act like one. And you pulling these antics is making my life a living hell.”
“Consider us even now.”
“You’ll respect me and my rank?”
He shot off a tight salute. “Yes, ma’am.”
Tess rolled her eyes.
“Will you admit that you like me?”
Her eyes remained hard as stone.
“A little bit?” he said, holding his fingers apart by a mere inch.
“Fine, a little bit,” she said with a sigh.
“See, that wasn’t so hard,” he said and moved closer to her.
Before Tess knew what was happening, his lips met hers. Her eyes opened wide at first but then they closed and she allowed his tongue to slip into her mouth.
It lasted all but a couple of seconds until a voice in the back of her mind must have called her back to reality. She harshly pushed him away, forcing their lips to separate again. Her face was bright red. “Damnit, Bobby, what the hell?”
He offered an innocent look in response. “I thought we had a moment there.”
“You thought wrong,” she shot back furiously. “What did I just say about respecting my rank? God, you’re incorrigible,” she added, turned on her heels and stormed off.
“I’ve been called worse,” he said after her with a huge grin plastered on his face and secure in the knowledge that whatever protestations she had offered after the kiss, for just the briefest moment she’d enjoyed it as much as he had.
* * *
Besides Doctor Rass and a number of members of her staff, Maya was surprised to also find Beatiar Sh’Fane in the large cargo transporter room and by all accounts looking just as anxious as she felt.
Donners felt a large sigh of relief coming over her lips when Mer’iab and his team began to materialize on the transporter padd.
Queen Ket had remained true to her word when she had promised her that she would do whatever was in her power to ensure to locate and try to return the Starfleet team left behind on Zenith. It now appeared her people had indeed accepted the Artisan Queen as their new Supreme and promptly followed her orders when she had commanded the release of the prisoners.
And Maya was thankful there were prisoners. Her worst fear had been that Mer’iab and his team had been killed, either by fighting to the last man or executed after the battle had concluded.
Sh’Fane had been the first at the tall avian’s side once he had materialized, beating Rass and her medical team to it. Maya tried hard not think of the term ruffled feathers as the Andorian helped Mer’iab off the platform. Like most of his team, his uniform was dirty, torn and bloodied and while many of the humanoids had scratches and bruises covering their skin, his amber plumage appeared to be in disarray.
He waved off the nurses trying to treat him but interestingly he never once turned down help from the Marine commander who was more than willing to give it. In fact an unspoken agreement seemed to pass between the two warriors. Maya was curious to find out what exactly had transpired on the surface that had made them come together like this. Their reports, she was sure, would make for interesting reading.
“Lieutenant,” she said as he stepped up before her.
He pushed the Andorian away gently; intend to stand on his own two legs while facing the captain.
“Sir,” he said. “I regret to inform you that we lost twelve good men on the surface.”
Donners noticed the coffin-like boxes that had been beamed up along with what remained of the team. She focused on Mer’iab again. “But you brought them back. You brought them all back. And most of them you brought back alive. That is more than I could’ve hoped for.”
His large bright, blue eyes made contact with hers. “I followed your orders, sir. You told me to survive and I did my best to ensure that the men would.”
She nodded curtly, feeling tears of relief in her own eyes but fighting hard to keep them contained.
“Shortly after you left and we were surrounded on all sides, I gave the order to surrender, knowing that any additional aggression on our part would cause me to fail your instructions. The Xenarth accepted and we were taken prisoner. And despite what we have seen of them, despite their ferociousness when in battle, we found that for the majority they are decent people. We were not harmed or mistreated in captivity. They provided us with food and water and basic medical care.”
“That speaks well of our hopes of a lasting friendship between our people,” she said with renewed hope that perhaps Ket’s ambitious plans were not quite as challenging as she had feared. “Your last order for today, Lieutenant, is to get yourself and your team to sickbay and get whatever care you need. I don’t expect to see you back on duty for at least a week.”
He nodded sharply, not seeing any reason to object to that.
Sh’Fane stepped back in and he allowed her to help him out of the cargo bay only after all his men were back on board and being seen to by the medical personnel.
Donners remained in the cargo bay as well, watching as members of her security personnel, as well as Marines and Cuffe crewmembers were being beamed onboard in groups. She was glad for every familiar face she recognized, including Elborough, the young science officer who had been charged with shutting down one of the Omega generators. The diminutive woman eyes were bright red and she remained close to one of the coffins, containing the body of one of the men who had not been lucky enough to escape with his life.
The young ensign stayed even after the room had cleared and Donners stepped up close to her, gently touching her shoulder.
“Captain,” she said, clearly surprised to still finding her here. She immediately tensed up.
“As you were, Ensign.”
She nodded and relaxed.
Donners touched the smooth, unmarked coffin.
“Lieutenant Chi Ling Yuen,” said Elborough at the unspoken question.
Hearing his name stung her. She had known the young security officer. Not well, of course but she remembered meeting him a few days earlier. Remembered that he had a proud mother and father as well as a younger sister back home in Shanghai. He was one of thirty-eight crewmembers they had lost in the assault. Two remained in critical condition in sickbay. She knew it wasn’t a number she would soon forget. In fact, she was determined not to forget Yuen’s name or any of those of who had given their lives following her orders.
The two women stood alone among the dead in silence for a while longer. Then Maya once again squeezed the ensign’s shoulder gently before she headed for the exit.
She stopped and turned around to face Elborough.
“May I ask a question?”
The science officer hesitated for a moment. “Was it all worth it?”
Donners considered this for a moment even while her eyes wandered across the room to take in the twelve coffins. Then she faced the ensign again. “I suppose having that kind of certainty, to know without a shadow of a doubt that we did all we could, that there was no other way, that these brave souls did not give their life in vain, it would make us all feel much better, wouldn’t it?”
Elborough offered only empty eyes in response.
Maya managed a grim smile. “Yes, A.J., it was worth it. Because knowing that is the only way any of this makes any sense,” she said and then left the cargo bay.
“Captain, do you have a moment?”
Amaya stopped short of entering the turbolift and turned to find Wayne Daystrom heading his way. Not for the first time, the tall, broad-shouldered science officer reminded her a little bit of a younger version of Terrence Glover. Even more so if he didn’t let those broad shoulders slump the way he did.
Of course she hadn’t yet forgotten the manner in which the young man had stood up to her on Zenith. Back then he had not been shy of using his large frame to his full advantage. She wasn’t exactly proud to admit that at one point she’d actually considered cutting the man down with a phaser in order to ensure his total compliance.
None of those thoughts were apparent however when she regarded him with a friendly smile. “Of course, Wayne, what’s on your mind?”
He looked pained and even though it appeared to her that he had thought carefully about exactly what he had wanted to tell her, the words came over his lips only hesitantly now and only after rubbing his neck awkwardly. “I … I wanted to apologize for my recent behavior, Captain. I fully understand if you have lost any confidence you may have had in me and if you’d prefer me to resign my—“
“Wayne, let me stop you right there,” she said and held up a hand before pulling him aside and away from the turbolift. “I’m not going to lose my science officer on my first mission.”
“But I let you down, Captain. I didn’t follow your orders the way I should have.”
“You followed my orders, it just took you a moment to come around and see things my way.”
He looked at her skeptically.
“Listen, I’m not going to stand here and pretend that things went the way they should have down there. Certainly not between the two of us, but I can also not ignore the fact that we were all under a great deal of pressure and put into a situation some of us were less ready for than others.”
“Even more reason to make my hesitations unforgivable.”
She shook her head. “I don’t believe in that,” she said. “Should you have followed my orders without question? Absolutely. But you also stood up for what you believed in. You tried to protect what you thought was more than a lifeless molecule but perhaps life itself.”
“But at what cost?”
“What matters to me is that you did the right thing in the end, Wayne. And I know what went through your head. You were conflicted—maybe you still are—about your place in the universe. You have this massive legacy you feel you have to live up to and you saw Omega as your way to do it.”
That didn’t help matters at all and Daystrom’s face fell as his gaze dropped onto the space between their boots. “You make it sound as if I cared more about my legacy then the good of he galaxy.”
She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “No, I don’t believe that. Not anymore. I think you showed us down there exactly what you’re made of, and I think it’s the right kind of stuff.”
When he looked up again a little gleam had appeared in his eyes. “I will never give you reason to doubt me again, Captain. I promise you that. Not ever.”
Daystrom turned but before he had taken more than one step, she called after him again. He faced her once more and she swiftly closed the distance between them. “I’m sure you won’t, but I also need you to know that if you ever disobey one of my orders again, there will be consequences.”
The science officer held her intense look for a moment before he responded with a crisp nod and then walked away.
Maya allowed herself to exhale a little bit as she watched him depart. She had little doubt about his sincerity and his value to her and her crew. Undoubtedly Daystrom was young and inexperienced but he had also demonstrated his brilliance, his commitment and his passion. Regardless of what had happened, she knew he was a good fit on Agamemnon.
Before she turned back to head towards the turbolift she spotted two more crewmembers who had given her reason to worry recently.
Tess Allenby and Bobby DeSoto had stopped at a junction down the corridor from her and where, for a change, seemingly discussing something amicably. She couldn’t tell what it was they were saying but seeing that Allenby wasn’t as flustered or angry as was usually the case when confronted with the young helmsman, she was fairly certain it was a civil conversation.
She arched an eyebrow in surprise when DeSoto leaned in and kissed Allenby who seemed to respond to the gesture in kind.
Not wanting to pry into her people’s off-duty activities, she promptly turned around to head for the turbolift.
She was unable to keep a playful smile off her face as she considered how well her crew appeared to have coped with recent events and with each other.
* * *
“I’ll have to take a rain check on that date I’d promised, I’m afraid,” said Glover who was speaking to her through her desktop computer. “We’ve got a new mission that’ll take us close to Klingon space and I’ve been told I should’ve been on my way yesterday.”
“I suppose saving the universe can really play havoc with your schedule,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Just damned inconvenient, that’s what it is.”
She nodded. “So, another missed date then? That’s the story of us, isn’t it?”
“It would seem that way.”
Maya considered the dark, handsome starship captain for a moment. She had known the man for four years but this had been the first time they had been equals and it had made her see him in a somewhat different light.
She would have lied to herself if she had said that she didn’t find him attractive, had been somewhat flattered by his attention during his frequent visits to his father’s space station on which she had served. Even if she had firmly pretended otherwise.
Who knew, under different circumstances, something could have happened between them. It never did and as far as she was concerned it never would. He was too much of an unapologetic playboy for her tastes, or worse, liked to pretend that he was. And then of course there was the other woman.
“Jasmine is a good friend, Terrence. You take good care of her.”
He didn’t seem to like where this conversation was going, judging by his hardened expression. She wasn’t surprised. Terrence Glover was not quite the man to take relationship advice from anyone. “Don’t worry about that,” he said curtly. “What’s next for you?”
“Well there was a cloak-and-dagger mission we were to take part in but it appears it that has been delayed,” she said, referring to a mission she’d been given by Admiral Jonathan Owens, the head of Starfleet’s enigmatic Special Affairs and Investigations department. She had been given little details on what this mission entailed exactly. A recent and highly-scrambled communiqué had made it clear not to expect further details for at least a couple of months.
Glover frowned. “I don’t care for those at all. You watch you’re back out there, alright?”
She smirked at that. “Will do. But I have to say I’m touched by your concern, Captain.”
“Well, I shouldn’t be, I suppose,” he said and apparently struggled a little with what he wanted to say next. He looked away from his screen for a moment before he reestablished eye contact. “You did pretty well for your first mission, Amaya. I wasn’t quite sure if you’d pull this off but I have to say, you did well. And I’m not just talking about handling the Romulans and the Borg or the assault on the Xenarth facility. What you pulled off with the Aggregate, establishing a peace so soon after recent event was quite something.”
She grasped her chest in feigned surprise. “A compliment from Captain Terrence Glover? Will wonders never cease?” she said unable to suppress a smirk.
“Enough of that,” he said bluntly. “Now before I go, there is one more thing I’ve got to know.”
She shot him an expectant look.
“When the Borg had us dead to rights and it looked like we wouldn’t have enough time to initiate the Omega weapon, the Khazara appeared out of nowhere and bought us just the time we needed.”
“That’s not a question.”
He considered her suspiciously. “I’m just curious to know how that came to pass. It was awfully convenient.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I supposed Commander Toreth simply realized she had too much to lose and nothing to gain if she didn’t interfere.”
Glover clearly wasn’t entirely satisfied with that explanation, sensing that there was more to that story. The look in Maya’s eyes gave proof that she had nothing further to share on that subject and he decided to drop it. “Perhaps you’re right,” he said. “Take care of yourself, Maya. I’m confident our paths will cross again.”
She leaned back in her chair once his face had vanished from the small screen.
“He didn’t buy that, you know?”
She looked passed the screen to see Vej sitting on her sofa, considering her carefully.
Maya nodded. “I know.”
“And neither do I.”
She offered him a little mischievous smile. “What’cha gonna do? A girl’s gotta have her secrets.”
The counselor nodded and just like Glover understood that she was not quite ready to tell him everything. “Fair enough. So,” he went on, “your first mission behind you, how do you feel about it?”
She considered that question for a moment, her eyes lost in empty space. “I think I feel pretty good.”
Maya looked his way. “Don’t sound so surprised.”
“I suppose I’m just worried about my job,” he said. “If you start to feel good about everything you do, what’s the point of having me around.”
She uttered a little laugh. “Don’t worry, you’re part of the furniture now.”
“Just what I always wanted to be.”
She sounded more serious when she spoke again. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as I’m happy about everything that’s happened. There are thirty-eight condolence letters I’ll have to write and I can’t even tell those families what exactly it was their sons or daughters died for seeing that the Omega Directive is all hush-hush. I may have been naïve but thirty-eight is a lot more I’d ever think I’d ever have to send.
I nearly fell apart on Zenith when I had to make the decision to leave Mer’iab and his team behind, possibly sealing their fate. And I can’t help thinking that if I’d given the order to use lethal force earlier, maybe those casualty numbers would have been halved.”
“Yes but you’d have a lot more dead Xenarth on your hand. Maybe too many to establish peaceful relations the way you did.”
She nodded. “I know. And I keep telling myself all that. I keep telling myself that the assault was a necessity to keep the Xenarth from threatening subspace throughout the quadrant. I keep telling myself that if we hadn’t weaponized Omega the way we did, we’d all be dead now and with the Borg in control of the most powerful force in the galaxy. I keep telling myself if we hadn’t taken the actions we did, we would never have achieved a peaceful arrangement with Xenarth Aggregate. So, I’m telling myself that regardless of all that has happened, regardless of how much it hurts to know of the good people I’ve lost, that all things considered, I should feel pretty good about it all.”
Vej stood from the sofa. “No.”
She aimed a puzzled look at the man. “No?”
He shook his head slowly. “I don’t think it’s healthy and I don’t think it’s what a captain should feel at all. I don’t think you should pretend otherwise.”
“As a captain I need to be a beacon of strength for the crew,” she countered. “Sometimes that means pretending to be strong.”
“Sure, out there, that may be right, but not in here.”
“So what, you want me to feel bad about things, is that it?”
“I want you to be honest about the way you feel. Especially to yourself.”
“What if I can’t take that?”
He sat down in one of the chairs opposite her desk. “Then that’s what you got me for.”
She uttered a heavy sigh and then after a moment made eye contact with the counselor. “Did I tell you yet that you can be a real downer?”
He offered a smirk. “On more than one occasion.”
Maya nodded slowly. “Okay then, how do I process this? How do I live with what I’ve done if I’m not allowed to pretend to be alright with it?”
“You ask yourself if knowing everything you do now, in complete hindsight, would you do things the same way again?”
“Yes,” she said without hesitation.
Vej smiled at that. “And that is what you can feel good about.”
“Damn,” she said and found his eyes again. “You are good.”
“No longer just part of the furniture then, huh?”
“You know what I really feel good about, what I think I’ve realized after all of this? It’s that I’m truly looking forward to being the captain of this ship. I feel I’ve faced my greatest challenge. We all have. What’s the worst the universe can throw at us now?”
“You really don’t want to go around and jinx things like that.”
She smiled broadly. “You’re my counselor. A man of science and medicine and you believe in jinxes?”
He shrugged. “I believe in not tempting fate.”
“Any more insights on what happened to you when you were passed out? Who this mystery person was you said you thought you encountered.”
She nodded. “I’ve given it some thought,” she said and then turned the computer on top of her desk so that he could see the screen.
His eyes opened noticeably when he spotted the image of an almost regal looking, middle-aged Starfleet officer in an old-style, golden uniform shirt. “Seriously? Is that possible? The man must have died decades ago,” he said and then looked back up at her. “Are you sure?”
“Sure? No,” she said with a quick headshake. “But after that episode I was almost compelled to go back and revisit some of his log entries. And just listening to him talk, with my eyes closed, it sounded almost as if he was speaking straight to me. I could see his face clear as day as if he was standing as close to me as you are now. Like I’ve actually met him in person once even though I know for a fact I never did.”
“Did those logs give any implication that such a meeting could have taken place?”
“From the sound of his voice, I do think something else happened to him on New Xenarth when he and his crew came close to being wiped out by the Omega molecules. Maybe even something he didn’t quite understand himself.”
“Just like with you.”
“Yes. And there are other logs as well. From his first officer, his science chief, even his doctor, but most of the ones that could offer any clues to what really happened have been so heavily redacted and classified that I can’t access them even with my security clearance,” she said, clearly sounding frustrated at the prospect of not being able to learn the full story.
“Take it from a man whose job it is dealing with the truth. Sometimes it’s better not to know.”
“I’ll have to take your word for it,” she said with a little shrug and then turned the screen back face her.
Not a moment later a soft chime from the device on her desk caused her to focus her attention on it again. Her face noticeably darkened.
“That message you got,” he said with a raised eyebrow. “Who is it from?”
She looked up at him with an obviously unfocused look in her eyes. She quickly recovered. “Sometimes it’s better not to know.”
He got the drift and smoothly left his chair. “Touché. I’ll leave you to it,” he said and promptly left the ready room.
Maya took a deep breath and then opened the comm. channel.
She was greeted by the face of a Romulan woman.
“I suppose congratulations are in order, Captain. I don’t entirely know how you pulled it off but it looks as if we’re all still here. Not something the Borg can claim.”
“Of course your success would not have been possible without my timely intervention.”
“And I’m sincerely grateful for your actions, Commander.”
“Your gratitude is noted but not quite sufficient,” the Romulan woman said.
“What do you want?”
“We had a deal, I sincerely hope you are not reneging on it now. My opinion of Starfleet officers is already low enough as it is.”
Maya considered her sternly. “I have every intention on keeping my side of the bargain.”
“Good,” she said. “I’m looking forward to calling in your debt, Captain.”
“As long as you understand that there is no circumstance imaginable in which I would compromise my orders or the oath I’ve sworn to uphold the safety and security of the Federation, my ship and my crew.”
The woman chuckled at that. “Don’t be so melodramatic, Captain. Believe it or not I would not have been interested in any kind of arrangement with you had I suspected you a traitor. I may care little for your precious Federation but I despise a turncoat even more.”
Maya nodded slowly. “So what is it you expect me to do for you, Commander?”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll think of something. You’ll know when the time comes. And Captain, I expect people to pay up their debts in full.”
“You won’t have to worry about that.”
“I hope not.”
The two starship commanders quietly considered each other for a moment after they had reached the agreement. It was Toreth who spoke again first. “I don’t know if anyone has told you this,” she said. “But for your first time in that chair I think you handled yourself quite well considering what you were up against. You could have made a real mess of things.”
Bad enough she’d heard this from Terrence Glover but to get the well-done speech from a Romulan captain was the last thing she had wanted to hear.
“I’ll be in touch, Captain Donners.”
And with that the screen blanked out.
Amaya uttered a sigh as she let herself drop back into her chair.
She heard a sharp hiss coming from her right and when she turned she found that Cosmo had awoken from his afternoon nap, his bright yellow eyes focused on her with what could have been interpreted as a scolding look.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she told her wildcat pet. “I’ve made a deal with the devil. Let’s just hope the payment won’t cost me my soul.”
_ _ _ _ _
Thank you for reading
The Star Eagle Adventures Presents:
Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle
Many thanks again to David Falkayn, creator of Star Trek: Lexington and DarKush, creator of Dark Territory. To learn more about Commodore Robert Wesley and the USS Lexington, read David Falkayn’s Meet The Lady. For more on Captain Terrence Glover and the USS Cuffe, check out his current tale Staring Into The Abyss.
The God Particle is now also available as a downloadable ebook for you preferred e-reader at StarEagleAdventures.com.
Great ending! I really enjoyed this story.
A very satisfying conclusion to an excellent story.
An excellent story, CeJay. I really enjoyed reading it.
Bravo, CeJay! Great story!
Thanks, folks, glad that you enjoyed this story.
I'd been wanting to write a story about Amaya Donners and the Agamemnon for a while now but could never come up with a plot idea that I liked. Big shout out to my fellow United Trek writers who helped put together parts of the plot and then allowed me to repurpose it for this story. It was a fun ride and as usual, when I get done with a novel, I feel both saddened and relieved that it's over.
There are no immediate plans for another Agamemnon Voyages novel. I will have to revisit this story later this year to give it another polish though.
If you are interested in reading more Star Eagle Adventures, keep an eye out for my in progress novel Shadows in the Haze which is currently on hiatus but I hope to be picking up again soon.
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