Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CeJay, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    ^ No pressure, though! :lol:

    Excellent installment! The tension's getting thick enough to cut with a starship mounted drilling-phaser.
     
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Cuffe, 2372

    Terrence couldn’t quite remember ever having seen his bridge quite this busy. Most of the aft stations were double or even triple manned with men and women industriously going back and forth, coming and going, passing on padds and information in a seemingly endless stream.

    His usually spacious bridge felt packed and the noise level was making it difficult for him to focus on the main screen where he watched with great apprehension a cutaway schematic of the underground Omega facility far below. Blue dots indicated their people while red dots were the enemy. At present there were far too many red dots, swarming all around the scattering blue ones.

    “Sir, Meldin reports his team has located and destroyed all traces of boronite in the facility,” said Amanis Bheto from operations, her sharp voice cutting through the background noise on the bridge.

    He nodded in acknowledgement even if she couldn’t see that from where she was sitting. “Finally some good news,” he said and focused in on the quadrant of the map where his security chief had led his team to destroy the one substance which was essential in synthesizing the Omega molecule. “Now we just have to worry about the generators. Tell Meldin to have his people assist the other teams to hold off the Xenarth.”

    “No need,” she said. “Donners has already given the order.”

    He couldn’t help himself but smirk. There had been a reason the rookie captain had practically demanded to be part of Operation Pandora’s Box on the ground. She had wanted to be close to the pulse and lead it from the front. She certainly was doing just that.

    The Andorian ops officer turned in her chair to make eye contact with her commanding officer. “Sir, Meldin is reporting three fatalities.”

    Terrence Glover nodded. The notion that he wouldn’t lose people on this mission had been an unrealistic fantasy. It certainly hadn’t been the first time he had lost people under his command and he knew it wouldn’t be the last. Right now he had no time to mourn. “Tell him to bring them back onboard, Commander. We’re not leaving anyone behind.”

    “Aye, sir.”

    Kojo walked up on him, studying a padd. “It’s not looking good down there,” she said.

    “I’ve got eyes, Nandali, I can see that.”

    She went on as if he hadn’t spoken. “Omega-Three has seventy percent of the molecules destroyed but team one and two are behind schedule and judging by the enemy troop movements they may not have enough time to complete the shut down procedures, scuttle the generators and make a clean exit.”

    “Leave it to the Marines to get things done right, huh?” he said. “Get hold of Lieutenant Sh’Fane and let her know to speed things up any way she can and then have her people support the other teams holding back the Xenarth. That should buy them some time.”

    The beautiful Kriosian warrior woman glanced up from her padd. “Donners is not going to like you armchair quarterbacking this.”

    He aimed an amused look at her. “Armchair quarterbacking? Really?”

    She looked momentarily confused. “Is that … not the right term?”

    “I just didn’t know you knew football.”

    “What’s football?” she said with a straight face.

    “Relay the message, Commander,” he said. “She can get mad with me when she comes back out of this alive.”

    She nodded with a faint smirk on her lips.

    “Captain, I have the Agamemnon hailing,” said one of the three officers currently manning the tactical station.

    “Put them through,” Glover barked.

    An inset picture at the bottom of the screen showed the blue-skinned Bolian currently in command of the other starship while its captain was battling on the surface. The man’s brow was furled into thick worry lines and Glover couldn’t blame him for it. He could hardly hear him when he spoke over the noise all around him but the few words he did catch were not promising at all.

    “Can I have some quite please,” he said.

    Absolutely nobody on the bridge seemed to have been listening.

    “Everybody shut up for one minute,” he barked, his booming voice momentarily freezing everyone to the spot. “Better,” he continued and looked back at Texx who looked slightly stunned himself. “Commander, you were giving me more bad news?”

    He nodded slowly. “We’ve detected a vessel entering orbit around the moon.”

    That captured everyone’s attention on Cuffe’s bridge. Terrence massaged his temples, fighting the urge to shout at somebody for not having been told this already. “More Xenarth reinforcements?”

    Texx shook his head. “It’s not Xenarth. The design doesn’t match anything in our database but we’ve tracked its course and it seems to have originated from Hugh’s vessels last known position. It looks like a smaller version of his ship. A shuttle, most likely.”

    “Son of a bitch is making a move,” said Glover, instantly regretting the fact that they had not kept closer watch on the liberated Borg who had already made their designs for the Omega particle unmistakably clear. After their ship had been torn apart, he and Donners had foolishly written them off as a potential threat. It was a mistake that was going to cost them now. “Please tell me we can intercept.”

    But the apprehensive look on the Bolian’s face made his answer obvious even before he opened his mouth. “We’re out of position to get to them before they can enter orbit.”

    Terrence glanced towards Jean Hajar but his helmswoman was already shaking her head. “I’ve got them on sensors. They’re entering orbit on the far side of the moon. We have no chance to intercept in time,” she said and then turned to look at him with an apologetic look on her face.

    He uttered a heavy sigh. “Somebody get a hold of Donners and let her know that her life just got a whole lot more complicated. And I want four sets of eyes on the goddamned sensors twenty-four seven. No more surprises people.”
     
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    And just when things couldn't get any worse...

    ... Holy *&(#! :eek:
     
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Zenith, 2372


    “I’m not willing to go down that route just yet.”

    Maya had temporarily retreated to a quiet corner of the Omega generator room, not far from where they had set up their triage area, to touch base with Glover on Cuffe.

    “I have about twenty very smart people up here, watching and analyzing every single move the Xenarth on the ground are making and every one of them agrees that we have to start pressing them harder or your teams will not last long enough to complete the mission.”

    Not to far from where she stood, she found Chief Holly appraising her through his intense eyes, a concerned frown on his face made it clear to her that he was of similar conviction. In fact it had been the Chief who had made the suggestion to switch to a more aggressive tactic first.

    She looked back at the padd which provided her the exact same data and troop movements that Glover and his officers were seeing from orbit. There where far too many red dots compared to their blue ones. “Meldin’s people have successfully reinforced the other two teams and holding the main Xenarth force at bay for now,” she said. “Some of the drones of the initial assault have survived and we’re getting them to outflank the Xenarth.”

    “It’s not enough Maya, and you know it. In fact the way things are going, I’m not even sure if enacting lethal force at this point is going to give us enough time.”

    “Then why are we having this discussion?” she said angrily. “What’s the difference?”

    His voice responded with similar steel. “The difference is losing a handful of people or dozens.”

    She had no immediate response to that and decided to change track. “How much time do I have until Hugh makes planetfall?”

    “We just lost him on sensors so he’ll have to be close,” he said. Glover continued in a softer tone. “Listen to me, Maya, Hugh wasn’t exactly a happy Borg the last time we ran into him and I don’t know how many friends he’s bringing to the party. We have to assume his main goal is to secure Omega for himself.”

    “I’m not going to let that happen,” she said.

    “My point is, the stun setting may work on the Xenarth but it won’t do you much good against shielded Borg drones. Even if they’re no longer part of the collective.”

    “I know.”

    “Give the goddamn order or I will.”

    “It’s my mission and my call,” she shot back. “I’m the one down here putting my life on the line.”

    “It’s not just your life, Maya.”

    “Keep me updated on any changes,” she said coolly. “Donners out,” she added and tapped her combadge to close the channel.

    Not a moment after she had finished up with Terrence, Holly approached her. “That did not look like a pleasant conversation.”

    A look was all Maya needed to confirm that theory.

    “So I take it we continue as is for now?”

    She considered the veteran Starfleet NCO for a moment. He hadn’t questioned her orders, had actively supported them in front of the men even after he had suggested they abandon their non-lethal tactics making it obvious that he was firmly in Glover’s camp on this. But it was clear to her that he was too loyal to his captain to even entertain the thought of siding against her on this issue.

    “I’m just not ready to give the order to kill these people, Chief,” she said. “No matter how we want to justify it, we’re the invaders here. We’re the ones who came here looking for a fight. The Xenarth are just defending what is theirs.”

    “What is theirs could end up destroying half the galaxy,” he said.

    “Perhaps,” she said. “But do you think the grunts know that?” she added and shook her head. “There is something very wrong about this picture and I’m not going to be the one punishing Xenarth rank and file for the mistakes of their government.”

    “One could argue that that’s exactly the definition of war.”

    “Exactly. And we’re not at war.”

    Holly nodded even though he couldn’t entirely hide the doubt in his eyes. “I have a suggestion to make which may buy us some extra time.”

    “I’m all ears.”

    “We’ve got more than enough tri-cobalt to obliterate half a dozen Omega generators,” he said, referring to the explosives they had brought to scuttle the generators once they had successfully destroyed the volatile molecules within. He gently asked for the padd Donners was still holding and she quickly handed it over. He manipulated the device so it displayed a schematic of their current surroundings and then pointed at the main corridor which led into the generator room and from which most of the Xenarth attack had originated from. “We could set up some of the explosives in this passageway, which I would imagine would slow down any Xenarth force trying to reach us significantly.”

    Maya smiled. “Best idea I’ve heard all day,” she said. “Get on that, Chief, will you?”

    He gave her a firm nod and headed out.

    Donners’ next stop was the reason they were here in the first place, the massive, snow-globe like Omega generator at which Daystrom and a couple of technicians were currently working on. The sooner they managed to shut the device down and neutralize the molecules, the sooner they could pull back out.

    She found her science chief deeply involved in a comm. channel conversation. “Sounds to me like you’ve go the right frequency, what’s the molecular integrity look like now?”

    “I’d say around sixty-seven, sixty-eight percent.”

    “Good, good,” he said. “That should give you enough time. Now, remember the power drain has to remain constant but should not exceed point zero zero two megahertz to allow the molecule to naturally destabilize. And keep an eye on the phase variance.”

    “Okay, I think we’re good. Integrity is now at a negative rate, point two percent per minute.”

    “We need to find a way to get that up.”

    Overhearing their conversation, Maya was pleased to find that Elborough was now well underway to have her reactor shut down. With the news that Sh’Fane and Altoss had already neutralized the third device, she felt renewed hope that they were back on schedule to complete the mission.

    Just before she was about to turn around and leave her science officer to do his job she froze, suddenly realizing a painful truth. While Daystrom was talking the younger officer through the process step-by-step, he was not actually tending to the generator in this room, instead keeping his eyes focused on a data padd and taping away as he spoke to Elborough.

    The generator in the background was pulsating with barely contained power just as intensely as it had the moment they had arrived.

    “Lieutenant,” she said as she stepped closer.

    The young officer looked up.

    “Progress report,” she said.

    “Uh, yes, sir,” he said, clearly slightly taken aback by her sharp tone. “Team 3 has successfully shut down their generator. I expect the second generator to be shut down within the next twenty minutes at this rate.”

    She gave him a short nod. “How about this one?” she said, looking at the throbbing device behind him.

    He turned and then stared at it as if he had seen it there for the first time.

    “Wayne, what’s going on?” asked a clearly concerned Elborough.

    Donners stepped next to the man. “Ensign, this is the captain. It sounds to me you’ve got things in hand. I need you to close the channel and proceed on your own.”

    “Yes … yes, sir,” she said. “Elborough out.”

    “She needs my help,” he said without really taking his eyes of the generator he was supposed to be tending to.

    “Never mind, Elborough, what’s happening to this one. How close are we to shutting it down?” she said, keeping her eyes peeled on the science officer.

    “I’m not sure … I can, sir.”

    Maya massaged her temples. She didn’t need this. Not now. She had been so busy focusing on the assault and their quickly diminishing chances of mission success that she had entirely neglected on checking on Daystrom’s progress. Considering his early and vocal protests in regard to this mission, she mentally berated herself now for this grave oversight. “What do you mean?”

    He looked at her gingerly. “Molecular integrity is already well passed eight-eight percent and they are beginning to bond at an ever accelerating rate,” he said. “Captain, it’s amazing and a far more controlled synthesis than we ever expected. When I first ran my simulations back at the Academy I never anticipated such a smooth bonding process even in my most optimistic predictions. It’s almost as if they want to come together naturally. A billion pieces, desperate to form a whole.”

    “Wayne—”

    “Captain, listen,” he said, sounding almost euphoric now. “This isn’t at all what we thought it be. Omega is supposed to be an artificial construct, never before observed in nature. But what I’m seeing here, it’s almost as if its … well, intelligent.”

    She shot the pulsating mass a suspicious look. “You’re telling me these particles are alive?”

    He shook his head quickly. “No, not in the traditional sense. But they behave in such a perfect pattern, it’s as if they are coming together naturally and not artificially. It’s as if the Xenarth inadvertently discovered a missing link in the fabric of the universe.”

    “This all sounds very interesting but I don’t see how—“

    “It’s a natural phenomenon, Captain. We might very well be looking at not just a missing link but the missing link. This could be the force that created our galaxy. Strike that, the universe. This could be the intelligence behind everything we know.”

    Maya’s head was beginning to spin, not having expected the sudden introduction of metaphysics and existential philosophy while in the middle of an intricate assault mission. Then she remembered the hundreds of lives she had placed into harm’s way and which would depend on the decisions she’d make over the next few minutes. “How long to shut it all down, Lieutenant.”

    He aimed an incredulous look at her. “Captain, I don’t think you understand—“

    “Maybe I don’t, but what I do understand is that we’ve come here to destroy Omega before it has a chance to destroy us. And if we can’t do that within the next few minutes, we’re all going to die on this rock,” she said and her hand actually moved towards her phaser. “Don’t lose focus on the mission now, Wayne. I beg you.”

    His eyes grew wider when he realized the veiled threat in her tone and movements. Cleary he didn’t expect her to become aggressive, in the short time he had known her she had never given him the reason that she’d be capable of it. But her entire body language had changed now. He actual took a step backwards and towards the generator, almost as if trying to protect it from her growing fury. “If … if you discovered a new form of life … would you simply kill it? Would you not have a moral responsibility to preserve it no matter what?”

    “You just told me that this is not a life-form,” she nearly barked.

    A few security officers and Marines nearby now turned their way and closed in, Chief Holly first among them, now that the captain was clearly becoming agitated by the science officer's growing defiance.

    He shook his head. “It isn’t. Not really. It’s … it’s more like the beginning of all life.”

    Maya took a deep breath, for the first time realizing that her frustration had gotten he better of her. “The beginning or the end, Wayne?”

    “Sir?”

    She took a quick look around the room and all the faces now focused on the confrontation between her and Daystrom. Between science and command. Then she turned back to look the man square in the eye. “I’m no scientist, Wayne, but tell me this, if Omega was truly behind the Big Bang, how can we possibly know that it won’t do so again? We’re looking at a massively powerful force here which is inherently unstable and according to you may have had the power to start all life. By that definition, does it not have the power to end all life? Ask yourself a simple question, Wayne. Do you want to be responsible for that? For starting another Big Bang?”

    Daystrom looked momentarily mystified as if he hadn’t considered that possibility at all. No doubt thoughts of his great-grandfather’s fanatical obsession which had driven him near insane now crossed his mind. “Captain, I don’t—“

    “Incoming.”

    Maya whipped around, her phaser in hand before she had completed the turn, expecting a horde of Xenarth soldiers to come flooding into the chamber. Instead she saw something far worse.

    Borg.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Wow, Holy Existential Angst, Batman!

    Things finally come to a head with Daystrom, who’s proving just as obsessive as his grandfather did. The tactical situation is growing worse by the minute, and now Maya’s butting heads with Glover in orbit.

    Oh, and now there’s the Borg to worry about, too. Maya’s lost her team’s early advantage of surprise, and now it’s going to come down to a bloody, bare-knuckle brawl with the Xenarth and the Free Borg. :eek:

    Place yer bets…
     
  6. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Dayum! That's unexpected. In the middle of combat operations things start getting all metaphysical. That always complicates things.

    Daystrom's obsession is entirely believable, especially with Omega acting the way it is. Indeed, I can see his point of view. Perhaps destroying Omega is the wrong thing after all...
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Hugh and his fifteen-man strong landing party materialized in a swirl of green energy, their transporter clearly able to overcome the Omega radiation which had not allowed the Starfleet assault teams to enter the facility in the same manner.

    The former drones, covered from head to toe with dark, black cybernetic implants, wires and tubes, immediately took on defensive postures, raising their arms and their wrist mounted weapons at the startled Starfleet officers and Marines in the room.

    The hesitation didn’t last long. Seconds after the Borg party had fully materialized, every single rifle was promptly pointed at the new threat. Maya already knew that it wasn’t going to be enough. While never having faced the Borg before in ground combat, she knew enough that this was not a battle she could afford. Not with a horde of Xenarth soldiers just around the corner, trying to wipe them out before they completed their mission.

    “Hold you fire,” she said and stepped forward, Master Chief Holly and Chief V’Ner immediately flanking her. She shot Hugh a wide smile. Charm had worked on Glover, maybe it work on a former Borg drone. “Nice of you to drop by. Next time I’d appreciate a bit of a heads-up.”

    Hugh and his right-hand man, Goval, shifted their arms to draw a bead on the starship captain which in turned caused a nervous reaction by the assembled Starfleet team.

    Maya did the opposite. She holstered her phaser and raised her arms. “You wouldn’t shoot an unarmed woman now, would you?”

    “Captain, we don’t have the time for this,” Holly whispered. “The Xenarth are almost on top of us.”

    She ignored the well-founded advice for now and much to his chagrin took another small step towards the Borg. “We’ve covered this already, remember? We’re not enemies here.”

    The tactic seemed to work. Hugh lowered his arm.

    Goval and the others did not.

    “You plan to destroy Particle 010. We will not allow this,” said Hugh’s chief lieutenant.

    “And you are willing to go through all of us to get it?” she asked. “What about the Xenarth. Would you risk for it to fall into the hands of a race clearly not prepared for this kind of power?”

    “The Xenarth are irrelevant,” Goval said. “And so are you.”

    That caused another murmur to go through the Starfleet teams. Now even the injured at the triage point were trying to get up, ready to face what seemed like an inevitable showdown with the Borg. Every Starfleet officer’s worst nightmare.

    “You notice how you started sounding just like your brothers in the collective? Is this all it takes to revert you back to being a mindless drone?” said Maya, her voice taking on an edge.

    It only made Goval angry. “You will not be able to stop us by talking us down, human. Particle 010 will be ours.”

    But Maya kept her eyes on Hugh, realizing that he had not said a single word yet, choosing instead to silently watch and appraise. She couldn’t be certain if it was because he was considering what she was saying or perhaps to figure out the best assault strategy while surrounded by Starfleet troops.

    Maya had no illusions. If it came to a fight now, they’d lose before the smoke would get a chance to settle. Taking down the Borg would be difficult enough, but even if they survived this, they wouldn’t the Xenarth onslaught in their weakened state.

    “It does not have to be like this,” Hugh finally said.

    Both Maya and Goval glanced at the Borg leader, not fully understanding what he had meant by this.

    Then he focused on Donners. “If you just step aside and allow us to take what we came for, we will remove it from this place and ensure the Xenarth will never be able to attempt to synthesize it again. We will take it far away from here.”

    It was a damn good argument, Maya had to agree. Just let the damn Borg have it and be done with it. And it would certainly solve one of her problems. Her mission would be over and she could get her people out of harm’s way. And it wasn’t as if these were real Borg, who’d use Omega against innocents. Hugh, from all she had heard and read about him, was a conscientious individual, able to reason and use his power responsibly.

    She was tempted to give in. All she had to do was to stand down and let Hugh’s Borg take what they wanted and this nightmare would be over.

    Patience was clearly not one of Goval’s virtues. He took another step forward. “You will comply.”

    Maya turned to look at Chief Holly just behind her. He still had his rifle up but he was looking at her, almost as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. He shook his head marginally.

    Then she spotted Wayne Daystrom, also holding a phaser now. The man had been her most vocal advocate for the preservation of the Omega molecule. He took a step towards her when he noticed her eyes on him. “This … this is not right,” he said, his voice small and without real confidence.

    “You will comply, now.”

    The Borg’s firm voice seemed to change something in the science officer. His expression grew more tense and his voice firmer. He clutched his weapon tightly. “Captain, we can’t let them have it. I’d rather see it destroyed.”

    “Enough talk,” the former Borg drone said and moved forward.

    “Goval,” said Hugh.

    “No,” he shot back, aiming a quick glance at his leader. “Every second we talk we further delay the inevitable. Particle 010 must be ours. You know that.”

    When Goval turned back around, he did so firing.

    “Captain, watch out,” Chief Holly cried and pushed her down just in time to avoid being struck by the ugly green bolt of angry energy.

    Starfleet and Marines did not hesitate after seeing the Borg taking a potshot at their captain.

    In the opening moments of the firefight, two former Borg drones were immediately cut down, one Marine was hit by the Borg returning fire and three Starfleet officers went down with injuries. After the initial exchange of weapon’s fire, everyone scrambled, using the many bulky computer consoles and equipment crates littered throughout the chamber for cover.

    “Watch you fire, watch your fire,” a panicked Daystrom cried form the top of his lungs as he hid behind a console near to the Omega generator. “If you hit the containment field we’re all dead.”

    Thankfully both the Starfleet team and Hugh’s Borg seemed to understand this and limited their fire, shooting only when there was no chance of hitting the one thing they were fighting for.

    Maya had found cover behind a large crate and listened intently. She heard the telltale sounds of phaser burst and disruptor blasts all around her. She recalled her ground combat training. Rule number one: Avoid at all costs to get into a ground combat situation.

    She almost laughed out loud at the thought. Long passed that.

    Another rule that training officers had tried to drill into cadets at the Academy was to listen carefully. If you couldn’t avoid getting into a battle, good chances were you’d sit behind some sort of cover without being able to see who is firing and in what direction. The last thing you wanted to do was to pop out at the most inopportune moment and be rewarded with a phaser blast right into your face.

    A mistake many impatient young Starfleet officers made, too eager to try and hit an enemy than considering the tactical soundness.

    Phaser blast. Disruptor. Phaser. Disruptor. Disruptor. Phaser. Disruptor.

    There was almost a beautiful harmony to this battle for life and death. And very soon it became predictable.

    She waited for the inevitable lull just after another set of phaser blasts had been unleashed. Then she made her move, coming up from behind cover and immediately noticed the sole Borg trying to return fire on the Starfleet position.

    Maya held her breath, steadying her type-III phaser against her right shoulder and gently depressed the firing stub. Her aim was true and her enemy stumbled backwards. Three more phaser blast caught the now unprotected Borg and slinging him to the floor, hopefully unconscious.

    Chief Holly used the distraction to make his way to Donners’ position, firing his rifle as he went to discourage somebody trying to take him down as he stepped into the open.

    Maya was back behind cover when he joined her. “Thanks for that earlier,” she said.

    He simply nodded before peeking up to once again return fire. When he came back down, he aimed a serious look at the captain. “We cannot keep this up.”

    “Casualties?”

    “Beck is down, not sure yet how bad,” he said, referring to the Marine who had taken a blast right to the chest when the shooting had started.

    “Damn it.”

    “It’s worse than that,” he said. “Last we checked the Xenarth were less than ten minutes away from making their—“

    The veteran NCO didn’t get to finish his sentence. As it turned out, ten minutes had been a far too optimistic an estimate. The Xenarth were coming right that moment, streaming into the chamber in full force, determined to take back what was theirs.

    Hugh’s men and the Starfleet contingent were not prepared to face a third party, too busy trying to take on each other. The Xenarth used their spear-like weapons to impale three unlucky Borg near the main entrance and another Starfleet officer before they could scramble out of the way.

    Maya watched in horror from her position. There were at least two dozen insectoid warriors storming the chamber and probably a few more right behind them. “Fall back, fall back,” she shouted to her people nearest to the entrance and fired at the incoming horde. Then she whipped around to look at the Chief. “Do we still have the option to detonate that hallway?”

    He shook his head sharply. “Didn’t get the chance to set up the detonator.”

    She frowned and returned to firing her weapon. The effect was negligible even when Holly and a number of other Starfleet team members joined in. Their phasers, set on heavy stun, caused most of the Xenarth streaming in to stumble, some fell and others seemed to lose consciousness but a many did not. And their numbers simply refused to go down. For every soldier they managed to take out of the fight, two more appeared.

    Matters were made worse by the fact the battle had turned into a massive free-for-all. Starfleet fighting the Xenarth, Xenarth fighting Borg, Borg fighting Starfleet, everyone and anyone was apparently fair game now.

    The only constant so far was that everybody was going out of their way to keep the battle as far away from the pulsating Omega generator as possible, apparently fully cognizant of the immense power it could unleash if an errant blast would take out the protective containment shielding.

    Holly shook his head and Maya understood why. This was not going to end well. At this pace both Starfleet and Hugh’s people would eventually get worn down by the relentless Xenarth push, especially if they continued to fight each other.

    “You will not have 010,” cried Goval, his modulated voice mirroring anger and frustration. Maya watched in disbelieve as he left his cover, firing relentlessly at the incoming Xenarth without a thought to his own safety.

    “Goval, no!” shouted Hugh.

    But the former drone was determined to stop the insectoids dead in their track, no matter the cost. “Secure 010, I’ll hold them off.”

    And he did an admirable job at that. Blasting the enemy soldiers with almost perfect accuracy, taking them down with one headshot after the next, before firing point blank as he got closer and closer. He deftly deflected the spears looking to impale him, using his superior strength to rip one right out of a surprised Xenarth hands, before using that same weapon to slash and stab at the horde bearing down on him.

    But the plan was flawed. There were simply too many for one man, even a former Borg drone, to battle head on. Before long he was overwhelmed. He stayed upright even after multiple lances penetrated his body but when his wrist mounted disruptor gave out and his spear wielding arm was dislocated, he found himself defenseless.

    Hugh never got the chance to carry out Goval’s suggestion and even though he and his men did their best to keep up a constant spray of disruptor fire, it was far too little to save the former drone.

    “This is insanity,” said Maya. “Cover me.”

    “Captain, no,” cried Holly but found himself as helpless as Hugh had been when he had watched his man’s self-sacrifice. He let out a little sigh of relief when he realized that she had no intention to follow Goval’s example. And yet he couldn’t help but feel that what she intended wasn’t much less ill-conceived.

    She zigzagged through the chamber and right towards Hugh’s position, managing in the process, to avoid a few Borg trying to bring her down, as well as the Xenarth soldiers and her own people’s phaser blasts.

    She slid the last few meters until she got behind another crate, just a couple of meters away from were Hugh had sought cover.

    The Borg leader noticed her immediately and lifted his wrist canon in her direction. She responded in kind with her hand phaser. But then she flipped the weapon up and away from him. “Truce?”

    “What do you want?” he barked angrily. The fact that he had not fired his weapon yet however was a promising sign.

    “We can’t hold out against this if we fight each other. Let us combine our forces. I think we can agree that neither of us wants to see the Xenarth getting their hands on Omega again.”

    “He … he sacrificed himself for us to get a chance to obtain Particle 010,” he said, his wrist wavering slightly, clearly shook up over what he had just witnessed.

    “I know, I saw,” she said.

    “You want to destroy it.”

    “Right now, I just want to survive the next ten minutes,” she said. “Tell you what, we push back this wave together and afterwards we’ll go back to figure out what to do about Omega. Do we have deal?” Maya had to duck suddenly when one of the Xenarth spears came flying her way, missing her by inches.

    Hugh seemed torn.

    “What would your friends back on the Enterprise think?”

    He glared at her. “This is bigger than my friendships,” he said. “This is—“

    “I know, I know, it’s your goddamned Holy Grail. Help me keep the Xenarth from using it to blow us all to kingdom come.”

    His nod was barely perceivable but he lowered his wrist before aiming it once more at the Xenarth who by now had made significant inroads into the chamber, taking up cover positions near the entrance.”

    The message was quickly received by both Hugh’s men and the Starfleet contingent. A temporary alliance had been struck, allowing both parties to focus on their common enemy.

    And yet it was still not enough. The Xenarth kept pushing forward, reinforcements still streaming in.

    Chief Holly had eventually followed Donners. His frowned seemed to have been permanently etched into his weathered features by now. “We lost two more,” he said. “Mueller and T’Lok. Mueller is dead.”

    “Can we win this Chief, tell me straight.”

    His response was immediate. “No,” he said. “Not unless we up the ante. And a miracle or two couldn’t hurt either.”

    He didn’t have to explain what he meant by upping the ante. Maya took a couple of seconds to consider this, seeing another former Borg going down as he was impaled by one of the Xenarth spears which they were able to throw with uncanny accuracy.

    “The Xenarth are overrunning all our positions, Captain,” Holly continued. “At this point nobody will survive this mission.”

    The truth hurt. She had wanted to avoid taking the next step at any cost. Maya had already been devastated over their decision to assault a sovereign Xenarth installation in order to secure and destroy Omega. She had not wanted to play the role of the belligerent party. But over two hundred officer’s lives now depended on her next decision.

    She made the hardest call of her life and hit her combadge. “This is the captain to all hands. Use whatever means necessary to push the Xenarth back. I say again, whatever means necessary,” she said. “The use of lethal force has been authorized.”
     
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    “The use of lethal force has been authorized.”

    “Finally, the gloves come off,” said Mer’iab and promptly dialed up his phaser rifle all the way to eleven. It was the setting that had shown to be most effective against the Xenarth exoskeleton during their pre-mission simulations.

    He had admired the captain’s initial restraint and her orders not to kill the enemy even if the opposition force clearly had no such scruples. Considering the size of the Xenarth contingent and the scope of the mission, it had been a laudable ambition. He had known it wasn’t going to be tenable the moment after their first contact with the enemy.

    He wasn’t even sure if it would make much of a difference at this point. The chamber had come under heavy enemy attack and the only reason they had not yet been overrun outright, he guessed, was because the Xenarth were throwing most of their weight against Omega One, the captain’s team.

    As a security chief, he hated the idea that he was nowhere near his commanding officer after she had made the—in his eyes—foolhardy decision to join the ground assault. For now he had to focus to keep the people in this chamber alive and the sooner he was able to beat back the Xenarth hordes, the sooner he could try and check in on the captain.

    Unfortunately an end was simply not in sight.

    “Keep at their flank,” he shouted at the injured Andorian Marine sergeant who nevertheless had been amongst the first to pick up a rifle after the Xenarth had made their first push. “Keep them from penetrating deeper into the chamber and away from the generator at all cost.”

    Mer’iab fired his own, now deadly phaser rifle, one handed even as he shouted out orders to his men. His accuracy didn’t suffer and a handful of surprised insectoids went down quickly after being impaled by red-hot lances of phased energy.

    Their assault had been rather unfocused thus far, putting emphasis on their higher numbers instead of on any strategy to efficiently secure the chamber. They were further hamstrung by orders they must have been given to limit their own fire, mindful of the Omega generator in the room.

    “Lieutenant, behind you,” Yuen cried out when he saw a Xenarth trying to sneak up on the avian from behind, having somehow managed to slip by their defenses.

    Yuen needn’t have worried.

    Without even turning Mer’iab unfurled one of his wings which snapped backwards like a released rubber band, sweeping the insectoid clean off his feet. A well placed phaser blast by Yuen made sure he’d never get up again.

    If the security officer was holding out for any sign of gratitude by the avian, he was going to wait a long time. Instead Mer’iab shot him the briefest of glances. “Get Elborough to finish this up yesterday.”

    Yuen nodded sharply and then went to find the science officer.

    He did. She was cowering behind an equipment crate close to the still pulsating, globe-shaped generator.

    “A.J.”, he said as he kneeled next to the petrified woman. “How’s it going?” he added with an easy smile.

    She looked up at him as if he had lost his mind. “What do you think?”

    “We really need you to finish up with that generator,” he said and threw a thumb over his shoulder. “It’s why we’re all here, you know.”

    “Can we … can we wait until the shooting stops?” she asked with a very small voice.

    “Don’t think it’s going to,” he said and held out his hand to her. “Come on, I keep you covered.”

    “Promise?”

    “Cross my heart,” he said and then pulled her back on her feet only to watch her flinch at the sound of battle all around her.

    She nodded at his reassuringly easy smile and made her way back towards the generator while Yuen took position by the crate, taking a knee and bringing his phaser rifle to bear. He found no lack of targets as the Xenarth made another push to re-claim the chamber.

    Mer’iab noticed this as well. Firing his now deadly weapon with pinpoint accuracy and watching dozens of Xenarth warriors fall, the difference it made, it appeared, was negligible.

    “Grenades! Give me grenades on the opening right now,” he shouted as he lifted off the ground just in time to avoid a concentrated barrage of enemy fire on his position. He glided back down gracefully near where a number of his men had taken cover.

    His order was followed promptly and numerous cylindrical-shaped explosives were lobed towards the entrance which continued to funnel in warriors by the dozens.

    “Get down,” he shouted and unfurled his wings over the men around him to cover them from the impending explosion.

    The shockwave flattened Elborough. “What the hell?” she said as she tried to get back onto her feet. But before she could turn to see what had happened, she felt a strong hand holding her arm. She turned to see Yuen’s dirt covered face.

    “Leave that to us, ok? Just focus on the generator.”

    She nodded hesitantly.

    “Once this is all over, I’ll take you out for a drink,” he added with a little smirk.

    “Sounds … fair,” she responded. “But don’t let them do this again or we’re all going to regret this,” she added and turned back to the Omega device with a smile on her face she wasn’t quite able to dispel.

    Mer’iab’s first instinct was to check on the most sensitive machine in the room after he had recovered from the massive explosion and the chamber had stopped shaking. He found the generator no worse to wear and noticed with satisfaction that Yuen was keeping a close eye on their skittish science officer.

    He glanced back at the opening but all he could see was dust.

    “Cover me,” he said before he easily leaped up from where he stood and glided towards the entrance, touching down just a handful of meters in front of the still settling dust cloud.

    As much as he tried, it seemed impossible to see what lay beyond. His solution was surprisingly simple. He unfurled his wings once more and flapping them forward, he used them like a giant fan.

    The shape which emerged from the now dissipating cloud caused him to hesitate for a moment as it did not seem to be consistent with what he had come to expect a Xenarth warrior to look like.

    Too late did he realize that his first impression had been mistaken. The eight limbs outlined in the haze made it all too clear that he was facing another Xenarth, albeit one much larger than any he had encountered before. He came to regret his momentary hesitation when the massive figure launched itself forward with speed and agility belling its size and hit him with a bone-jarring tackle and with such force that for a moment he felt as if he had been hit by a starship at warp speed.

    He went down hard with the massive Xenarth jumped on top of him.

    “I will enjoy ripping those wings off your body,” the clearly feminine voice hissed as they struggled on the cold and dirty floor. “You will come to rue the day you faced the Warrior Queen.”

    Mer’iab was hardly even aware that the Xenarth leader had not come alone, too preoccupied was he to keep her razor-sharp mandibles from separating his head from his body. He had lost his phaser rifle when she had jumped him and the queen herself appeared to be unarmed, apparently eager to kill her opponent with her bare hands. And the odds were squarely in her favor, considering she not only had the size-advantage, he was also outnumbered by the number of hands she had available to her. Two of which pummeled his midsection, one kept a tight grip on his throat while he struggled to keep the fourth away from his beak, no doubt trying to crush it.

    His men were in no position to help. The queen had led another wave of warriors into the chamber which kept the Starfleet assault team beyond occupied.

    He was not the last to realize that this wave was perhaps the fiercest yet and judging by the way they were throwing themselves at the assault team, it seemed they had been given orders to take back the chamber no matter the cost, and the cost, it appeared, meant overwhelming the intruder with superior numbers in close quarter melee combat.

    Having apparently given up on the idea on taking on the Starfleet assault team from a distance and having been constantly outgunned in the process, the battle was quickly turning up-close and personal.

    It was a fight, Mer’iab knew they couldn’t win.

    The Xenarth soldiers were simply far better equipped to wage such a battle with their armored exoskeleton, razor-sharp mandibles and multi-purpose weaponry which they were able to wield either as a piercing spear or punishing staff.

    They had no choice but to fight.

    A few of the Marines had managed to snatch up some of the weapons the Xenarth had dropped and were holding their own for the moment while the wounded were being evacuated away from the immediate combat area.

    Remembering everything they had leaned about the Xenarth in their pre-mission investigations, Mer’iab managed to land a quick and vicious hit to the lightest armored part of his opponent’s torso, buying himself a few seconds and just enough time to escape her immediate clutches and get some separation from the ferocious warrior.

    He appraised her for a brief moment. She was nothing like Queen Ket or even most of the warriors they had faced so far. This Xenarth stood easily seven and half foot tall, with wide, powerful shoulders and thick arms.

    She practically ripped two spear weapons away from a couple of astonished Xenarth soldiers and immediately began to wield them expertly and in a manner which reminded Mer’iab a little bit of a Klingon Dahar master working a bat’leth sword.

    Her large compound eyes made contact with his and an immediate understanding passed between them. They were both leaders of their respective factions and for a moment there was an almost unspoken, if begrudging respect between them, even in the middle of this battlefield thrown into chaos. Warrior to warrior, for just an instant, they were the same, regardless of all their differences, physiological as well as philosophical.

    That moment passed in a heartbeat, replaced by the absolute certainty that the outcome of this battle could only be determined by whoever was left standing at the end.

    Ignoring all her little drones, Mer’iab charged the Xenarth Warrior Queen.

    While the avian security chief usually preferred stealth when facing off a formidable opponent, there was little place for him to hide here and she saw him coming from a mile away, fully prepared for his assault.

    He deftly dodged the first staff which had been aimed at his head but was less successful evading the second which she wielded like a lance and which struck him in his side, tearing through uniform and plumage.

    Pain and blood were nothing knew to the Aurelian and he pressed on regardless. Coming up just behind the giant insectoid, he kicked hard against the back of where he thought her knees were located.

    When she didn’t go down the way he had hoped, he wished for a moment he’d spent more time with Ket to study Xenarth anatomy.

    The queen merely stumbled and then brought one of her weapons around in a wide arch, designed to strike his neck. The strength of the blow would surely have crushed his windpipe instantly.

    Instead he managed to roll out of the way.

    When he come up again he grabbed hold of her second spear, hoping to be able to dislodge it from her firm grip.

    It was a complete no-go. Her strength was simply too great and the fact that she was able to hold on to it with two of her hands, made it nearly impossible for him to even the odds in that manner.

    She high-kicked him into his chest, causing him to fly backwards and land hard against a near wall where he collapsed to the floor.

    Her mandibles seemed to turn into something akin to a smirk as she bore down on him, entirely ignoring the battle raging around them.

    Mer’iab needed a moment to catch his breath even though he was fully cognizant that it was a moment he didn’t have. She had already raised both weapons, turning the gleaming spikes into his direction, no doubt planning a twin penetration of his torso.

    That’s when he heard phaser fire. A lot of it.

    He knew immediately it wasn’t coming from his people as they were too busy fending for their lives in close quarter combat.

    The Warrior Queen had heard it too and turned her head to find the source of this unexpected commotion.

    The security chief noticed the blue blur flying through the air perhaps half a second before the queen did. By then of course it was far too late for her to bring up her defenses.

    The Andorian had catapulted herself into the air somehow, probably by jumping on top of a nearby computer station and brought her entire weight down onto the Xenarth leader in a flying, high-body tackle.

    They both crashed to the floor.

    Mer’iab was both relieved and disgusted at the same time. Had Beatiar Sh’Fane just saved his life? If so he would never hear the end of it.

    The Andorian Marine commander however had made the same mistake he had done just moment ago. Underestimating the Xenarth queen’s strength. Using her upper arms, she easily pushed the much smaller female off her and used her lower arms to prop herself back up.

    Sh’Fane hadn’t expected that much force but somehow managed to land on her feet nevertheless, landing close to Mer’iab with one boot and one knee on the ground, the momentum causing her to slip backwards across the floor.

    She turned her head see the security chief pushing himself up to his full height. “I had this covered,” he said, without ever taking his eyes off his opponent.

    “You’re welcome,” she responded, also avoiding eye contact and keeping them focused on the massive Xenarth instead.

    “It does not matter how many of you there are,” said the Queen, with angry clicking sounds dotting her words. “You cannot defeat me.”

    “Then why do you suddenly sound so desperate?” Mer’iab shot back. Witty repartee wasn’t normally part of his fighting style but right now he needed any advantage he could get.

    The other advantage? Sh’Fane’s leaping tackle had knocked both of her weapons out of her hands and they were now lying unused just between them.

    All three fighters seemed to notice this at the exact same moment and leaped into action once more.

    Mer’iab got there first, scooping up the spear/staff before any of her many limbs could reach it. He got his fingers on the second one as well and threw it towards the Andorian who easily pulled it out of the air as if she had been fighting with such weapons all her life.

    The avian had just enough time to bring his weapon up to block a double punch the queen was throwing his way. And even tough deflected at the last moment, the force of the impact was almost as powerful as if she had landed a direct hit.

    Sh’Fane didn’t hesitate and swinging with both hands, she struck the Xenarth across the head, breaking off parts of a mandible in the process.

    The queen uttered an ear-numbing, high-pitched shriek but instead of letting it slow her down, it apparently only made her stronger. And madder.

    She reached out for the staff still being held by the Andorian with lightning speed and to her utter surprise, lifted her clean off the floor and then, unbelievably, right over her head, causing the Marine to perform an involuntary, circus-like leap, flying high into air, going right over the Xenarth and then coming down hard behind her, crashing into the unforgiving floor and landing on her back with a sick crunch and a loud groan of pain.

    Mer’iab made the mistake of getting distracted by Sh’Fane’s scary landing, not immediately realizing that the Xenarth had kept hold of her weapon and that it was now coming in fast for his head.

    This time his dodge came too late and the staff struck him hard in the right shoulder, knocking him off his feet and causing him to land on the floor, painfully holding on to his dislocated shoulder.

    The Xenarth uttered a hysterical laugh from seeing both her opponent at her feet. Or at least Mer’iab thought it was laughter.

    He looked over to see if Sh’Fane was still breathing. “Lieutenant, are you still with me?”

    The Andorian had somehow managed to roll over onto her stomach but when she tried to pull herself off the floor she just flopped back down when her strength gave out. He was relieved to find that her back, at the very least, didn’t appear broken. “I think … I may need … a minute.”

    Ignoring the pain in his side and shoulder, Mer’iab willed himself back onto his knees. “Don’t have a minute.”

    As if to stress her point, the Warrior Queen swung her weapon again, once again trying to crush the avian’s head. This time he saw it coming and rolled out of the way coming back up right next to the fallen Marine.

    He noted with some satisfaction that the Warrior Queen had slowed down now. Possibly because she no longer saw the two injured aliens as a major threat but more likely because her own strength was failing after the painful blow she had taken to her face.

    Mer’iab, still on his knees, placed a hand onto Sh’Fane’s shoulder. “I hate to say this,” he said, “but right about now I could really use your help.”

    She actually managed a smile at that, even through bleeding lips and possibly a broken nose. “I think … that just may be … worth it.”

    “Can you get up?”

    She tried again. “If you’re up … I’m up,” she said and managed to get on her knees with his help, breathing hard and clearly not without sharp pain.

    Mer’iab watched the huge Xenarth slowly bearing down on them, still holding on to her weapon and getting ready for a final blow, this time no doubt planning on taking out both her opponent’s in one devastating attack.

    “I need you to distract her for a little bit while I try something else,” he said quietly.

    “What do you have in mind?”

    He shot her a playful look. “Think holodeck.”

    She nodded with understanding, responding with a knowing smirk of her own. Then she focused on the approaching insectoid. “Make it fast, will you? This dance is not going to last.”

    “Be right back,” he said and took off in a run.

    “No you won’t,” the Xenarth hissed, not willing to entertain the notion that one of them was going to get away and deprive her of a justified double kill. She quickly spun her weapon around, ready to throw it with deadly strength and accuracy to perforate the fleeing avian.

    Just as she was about to bring her arms forward to release her missile, Sh’Fane charged with a roaring battle cry, hailing back to the ancient warrior days of her forefathers.

    This time she went low, tackling the surprised queen around her legs. She managed to get the spear off but her aim was untrue and instead of piercing her target it found a hapless Xenarth who immediately sagged to the ground after being penetrated with a sickening crunch.

    The Warrior Queen was unable to keep her balance and dropped like a felled tree. The moment she was down, Sh’Fane jumped on top of her and began punching her repeatedly and viciously in the face.

    And had she fought another humanoid, her fists would have made short work of that face. Instead she was up against the hardened exoskeleton of an insectoid and while she managed to do some damage to her large eyes and feelers, the pounding was doing just as much damage to her gloved fists.

    The Xenarth intercepted her tireless blows with her lower arms and then responded in kind with her upper hands, smashing the momentarily paralyzed Andorian right into her own face. The third blow was strong enough to get her off her chest.

    The Warrior Queen stood once more but this time grabbed hold of Sh’Fane by the collar of her fatigues and lifted her up a good eight feet into the air, holding her above her and considering the bleeding, dazed and seemingly beaten down woman in her grasp.

    “You are so soft and fragile,” she said with obvious disgust. “That’s why you humanoids are so weak. That’s why you’ll never stand a chance against the might of the Xenarth Colony.”

    The look she was getting in return was apparently not quite what the Warrior Queen had expected. She tilted her head slightly, perhaps an expression of confusion upon noticing that twinkle in her opponent’s eyes and the unmistakable crack of a smile on those blue and busted lips.

    She brought up her upper arms to finish her for once and for all. “There is nothing you should be amused about. This is your end, little humanoid.”

    Sh’Fane’s response was unintelligible through her broken and swollen lips.

    But for some reason the Warrior Queen seemed eager to learn the Andorian’s dying words. “What was that?”

    The Marine mustered all the strength she had left to make herself heard. “I said,” she paused for a moment to spit a wallop of cobalt-colored blood onto the floor before she managed with some effort to look above and behind the queen with a widening grin on her face. “Heads up.”

    The Xenarth took the bait and turned. At first she must have been confused as there was nothing immediately obvious which could have inspired the Andorian’s bravery in face of certain death. But that was because she didn’t look high enough.

    He was gliding so far up, he was nearly brushing the ceiling, his wings fully unfurled and giving him a majestic look as he defied gravity. By the time he was finally spotted, he had already honed in on his target and came down with the speed of a cannonball.

    The Xenarth let go out Sh’Fane, trying to whirl around in time to brace herself.

    There wasn’t going to be time.

    She also didn’t realize until the last moment that the avian had picked up a spear at some point and that the gleaming tip was held out just in front of him as he shot through the air on a collision course.

    His loud screech echoed across the chamber and his massive wings flapped exactly once to slow his ascent and ensure this wouldn’t end up as a suicide run.

    It was still more than enough speed to ram that spear right through her tough exterior and running it completely through the Xenarth Warrior Queen. The resulting collision knocked her down hard while Mer’iab managed to roll, looking all but a ball of feathers for a moment, knocking down unprepared Xenarth and Starfleeters alike to absorb his momentum which otherwise would have been enough to break every bone in his body.

    The queen shrieked again as she flopped helplessly onto the floor, trying desperately to dislodge the spear protruding from her chest with all four hands. But before she could even get a handle on it, Sh’Fane had collected what little remained of her strength, found the other weapon discarded earlier and then put all he weight against it as she drove that one through the Warrior Queen as well.

    The second shriek, even louder than the ear-numbing cry that had come before, captured absolutely everyone’s attention and for a brief moment the room fell almost deadly quite as every last Xenarth warrior stopped whatever they were doing at that moment to turn and find their slain queen.
     
  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Never an easy order for a captain to give, especially when she's hoping to salvage something diplomatically when all is said and done.

    You've done a masterful job of describing the ebb and flow of this pitched battle, kudos!

    Extra points for Mays's diplomatic savvy here, both in her initial approach and argument with Hugh, and later for picking the most opportune moment to restate her case.

    However, it's starting to look like it might be too little, too late. :eek:
     
  10. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    That was one hell of a fight! :scream:

    But will it be enough to slow her fellow Xenarths' advance?
     
  11. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Too little, too late.

    She couldn’t stop thinking it over and over again. Too little, too late, even as she cut down Xenarth warriors left and right, killing the tough insectoids by the dozens while desperately ignoring the fact that she was taking life almost indiscriminately. Trying to pretend it hadn’t been her who had been the attacker, it hadn’t been her who had given the orders to assault this sovereign Xenarth facility and now to shoot and kill.

    It was for the good of the galaxy, she told herself. She was trying to safe lives, she told herself. And in the end it may all come to nothing after all because she had given the orders to late.

    There were simply too many of them and not enough bodies to fight them off. They were already overwhelmed and barely holding their own. No doubt more Xenarth reinforcements were on the way.

    “Captain, get down.”

    Before she could even turn to look who had shouted the warning, she was felt a strong grip push her onto the floor. The spear-like weapon came flying in over her head almost at the same instant, she could feel it brush by her hair. It struck something.

    The Vulcan woman didn’t as much as flinch as the razor-sharp blade ripped through her side, tearing through her flak jacket an flesh.

    “V’Ner,” Maya cried.

    “Stay down,” she said as she brought up her phaser rifle single-handed while her other hand was busy holding her side, barely able to the keep the staunch of thick green blood back. She fired the rifle and struck the Xenarth warrior who had tried to take down the captain right in the neck.

    The insectoid went down in a heap.

    One down, Maya thought, legion to go.

    Her personal bodyguard was clearly wounded but the stoic Vulcan security guard showed no signs of slowing down as she continued to cover Maya with her phaser even as the captain picked herself off the ground.

    “You need medical attention,” Maya said but found that she couldn’t quite afford taking her eyes off the enemy all around her and instead kept up a constant pace of weapons fire which did little to suppress the enemy and even less to stop them.

    “Later, ma’am.”

    There was little point in arguing, Maya realized. By now almost everyone was battling with injuries, light or severe, O’Shaugnessy, her other appointed bodyguard was already down for the count. She wasn’t sure if he was dead or alive.

    She found Chief Holly, standing on a number of containers, overlooking the battle field like a field marshal of old. He made a mighty inviting target up there but it also allowed him to maintain a semblance of control in the chaos, directing their meager resources where they were needed most. The gray-bearded veteran didn’t look like his best days were behind him. On the contrary, banged up and bleeding from multiple wounds and scratches, he was directing the troops with ironclad confidence, trying to dispel any notion that this battle may have already been lost.

    “We’ve got more bugs coming in through the main entrance,” he shouted. “Cut them off, cut them off.” Then he made eye contact with Donners and just for a second his façade dropped and his eyes revealed not just his age and his exhaustion but his hopelessness of wining this battle. It was gone in a flash. “Sonier, get your people over there and cover Daystrom,” he shouted to a group of Marines who didn’t hesitate to take orders from the Master Chief.

    Maya spotted Hugh on the opposite side of the room, engaged with two dozen Xenarth. Their temporary truce had given them some time which was rapidly running out. From what she could tell, the former Borg drone had already lost half his men, mostly due to Xenarth using their blades in close quarter combat which was not a preferred Borg battle style, liberated or otherwise.

    He was barely holding his ground and it was only a matter of time until he and his remaining men were overwhelmed by the sheer number of the opposition force.

    She had taken a second too long to consider their seemingly inevitable fate and failed to notice the staff being side swiped into her direction. Fortunately for her, it wasn’t the sharp end which ended up striking her torso. The blow was more than enough however to force all the remaining air out of her lungs and flinging her back to the floor and sending her rifle out of her hands.

    When she looked up she saw the gleaming spike now pointed at her bruised torso once more. The cold, dark compound eyes of the Xenarth warrior seemed to be focused on her with total determination.

    Is this how it ends, then? She wondered, as the warrior was bringing down his weapon, gripping it tightly with all four hands. Shortest captaincy ever?

    She forced herself not to close her eyes.

    Then she heard the shriek. It was a sound of pure agony and it reverberated from the walls and the ceiling, louder even than the sound of unrelenting battle. Maya thought it was a sound she’d never forget.

    The Xenarth stopped suddenly, his weapon just inches from running her through, he turned his head towards where the sound had come from. It hadn’t been this room. It hadn’t even been close and yet it appeared to have been unmistakable to the solider.

    And then she realized it hadn’t just been the warrior who’d had her dead to rights who had stopped. All of them had. Every single Xenarth in the room had suddenly frozen and turned towards the shriek of pain and misery.

    And the Starfleeters had been shocked into inaction themselves by their enemies odd behavior. For a moment that shriek remained the only sound anyone could hear. Then it died away slowly and the room remained eerily quite with a hundred combatants simply standing in place like statues.

    Maya, realizing that she was still in mortal danger, quickly pushed herself away from that gleaming spike hovering above her.

    “Take’em down, take’em all down. Do it, do it now,” she heard Holly cry and promptly opened fire on the unmoving Xenarth.

    Within seconds every phaser and Borg weapon in the room was blasting the momentarily defenseless insectoids to pieces and they crumbled where they stood.

    Maya hated herself for it but the moment she found her rifle again, she took aim and took down the solider who had tried to perforate her a moment earlier.

    Some of the Xenarth eventually tried to fight back but at that time it was already too late. A battle which had seemed all but lost seconds ago, had completely and irrevocably turned around. By the time Maya was back on her feet, not a single enemy solider remained standing. A few Starfleeters were still firing however, blasting away at injured or already dead Xenarth to make doubly sure they’d never stand up again.

    Maya stepped up to a crewman who was taking aim at a squirming Xenarth on the ground, already oozing profusely from a number of wounds. The young man was bringing up his weapon to the warrior’s head to finish him off but she pushed his rifle away before he could fire. “That’s enough, Crewman.”

    His eyes were wide and filled with rage and hatred. The firm look in his captain’s eyes seemed to reassure him however. She was neither upset nor accusing but her tone left little doubt to her resolve. “That’s enough.”

    Then she turned to the rest of her people. “Cease fire and secure the room.”

    “Let’s do it, people, we’re not out of this yet,” Holly shouted, adding some much needed urgency. Then he hopped down from his elevated porch and approached the captain.

    “You were asking for a miracle earlier, Chief. Somebody just delivered,” she said to him.

    He nodded. “I’m not one to look a gift targ in the mouth. It has rather sharp teeth and all but if you ask me this is just a reprieve. We need to pack up and get the hell out of Dodge yesterday.”

    “Agreed,” she said and quickly headed towards Daystrom and the surprisingly undamaged Omega generator which she quickly found was still pulsating with blue energy, a clear sign that the molecules within were still alive and well. Her heart sank.

    The scientist was only lightly wounded with his flak jacket slightly torn around the chest and arms. “Captain,” he said when he saw her approach.

    “Wayne, tell me we’re almost done here.”

    He looked pained as if he didn’t even want to reveal the truth which his captain would clearly not be satisfied with it. Then he shook his head ever so slightly. “I … I can’t do it.”

    Maya became furious. “Wayne, so help me God, I will—“

    “Captain, you don’t understand. I couldn’t shut them down even if I wanted to. The molecules have fully bonded, there is no way to reverse the effect from here. I’m sorry.”

    Hugh had stepped up to generator as if in trance. “I can see them,” he said reverently as if he was facing the physical manifestation of a deity. “I can see them through my optical implant. It’s ... it’s perfection.”

    The other former Borg quickly gathered around him, equally spellbound by the pulsating chamber in front of them.

    Maya hit her combadge. “Donners to Cuffe, what’s our status?”

    Glover responded with little delay. “All teams are reporting that they have completed their objectives and are moving to their exfil positions. We’re not quite sure what happened yet but the Xenarth seem to have been stunned into inaction for a short moment. They are back on the move now.”

    “Can you beam the teams out?”

    “Negative, not with the residual Omega radiation emanating from the various generators. And the radiation is through the roof at your position. How close are you at shutting down your generator?”

    Maya watched the former drones wordlessly for a moment. Where they praying? “Apparently no longer an option. We’ll have to go to plan B.”

    “Not sure if we’re ready for it yet,” said Glover.

    “We’ve got movement,” called Holly who had proceeded closer to the main entrance. “Second wave coming in.”

    Donners whipped around. She couldn’t see anything yet but the sound was unmistakable, the pounding of boots, the clicks of Xenarth ready for battle were approaching rapidly. “Glover, are you getting this?”

    “We’re seeing it on sensors. You’ve got at least sixty bodies heading your way. Two minutes, maybe less,” he said, managing to sound cool under pressure but then again it wasn’t his butt about to be overrun, she mused darkly. “Maya, set up the pattern enhancers, we’ll be ready.”

    Holly had overheard Terrence Glover and was already directing half the men to take position by the entrance for their counter attack and getting the rest to set up the pattern enhancers around the Omega generator to allow Cuffe to beam the molecules into its resonance chamber where they could be neutralized.

    “Ma’am.”

    She turned around to find who had addressed her. It turned out to be Redmon O’Shaugnessy, one of the two security officers Mer’iab had designated her personal guards during the assault. The young Irishman had been injured earlier and was quite obviously not on the mend. His face was sickly pale and his bandages were already soaked through with his blood again. He barely managed to keep his balance. A heavy backpack was strapped to his back.

    “Lieutenant, you need the medic,” she said and then turned to find a first aider. “Corpsman?”

    “Captain,” he said and coughed hard, spraying blood onto his hands in the process. “I think … it may be too late for that. But … I can give you the time … you need. I’ve got the explosives,” he added gesturing first to the backpack and then to the main entrance.

    It took Maya a moment to understand what he was saying. Then she quickly shook her head. “Absolutely not, that’s suicide.”

    “Please, Captain, it may be our only chance,” he said coughing again.

    Something that Vej had said days earlier reverberated in the back of her mind. Something about sending good people to their certain death.

    She turned back to see how far along the pattern enhancers were. There were twelve in total and the cylindrical-shaped devices had to be carefully positioned around the Omega generator in order to allow Cuffe to get a stable signal on those molecules and beam them up. Only half of them were in place.

    And those pounding boots were mere moments from reaching them.

    Maya looked at O’Shaugnessy. “Do it.”

    He gave her a crisp salute and then she watched in astonishment how he managed to sprint towards the entrance despite his grievous injuries.

    Holly saw him coming and understood. “Clear the area, clear the area,” he said to the men positioned closest to the entrance. He exchanged a meaningful look with the younger lieutenant as he sprinted passed him, giving the man one last nod before he rushed into the dark corridor.

    Maya held her breath for the next few seconds.

    Then came the explosion.

    The floor trembled and a bright light shot out of the corridor, giving absolute proof that O’Shaugnessy had been successful in his final act of valor and heroism.

    The clicks quickly gave way to shrieks and then all was still for a moment.

    A small dust cloud came wafting out of the hallway.

    “Pattern enhancers in place,” said Daystrom.

    Maya watched as they were turned on, a bright blue beam shooting out from each device until the generator was completely surrounded.

    “Glover to Donners, we’ve got a lock.”

    She nodded. “Any chance you can get us out here the same way?”

    He hesitated for a moment. “Sorry, no. All the eggheads up here seem to agree that adding additional molecules to the attempt is a recipe for disaster. We’re not even sure we can get the molecules safely out of there.”

    “Understood.”

    “In any case,” he said. “I suggest you hightail it out of there. The main force heading your way has stopped but there are plenty more Xenarth trying to reach you and cut you off from your extraction point. You’ll still have a battle on your hands just to clear out.”

    She turned to what remained of her people. “Set up timed charges on the generator and get the wounded ready to move out. Double time folks.”

    Nobody had to be told twice.

    Daystrom joined the Borg in watching the molecules beginning to dissolve as they were transported onto the starship in orbit. It wasn’t an instant process.

    “How long will this take?” she asked the science officer.

    “I’m not sure,” he said as he kept his eyes on the Omega generator which turned dimmer by the moment. “But it can’t be stopped now. I doubt we have to stick around to the end.”

    “We’d be lucky to get out of here alive if we leave now,” she said.

    Hugh turned away from the generator for the first time in what had seemed forever and considered the Starfleet captain. “We can help,” he said.

    “A few moments ago you were willing to kill us all to stop us from destroying Omega, now you’re just going to help us get out of here?” she said skeptically but fully aware that Hugh and his men had made no attempt to stop them from beaming out the molecules and claiming them for themselves. She had anticipated another battle but just like Holly, she decided to stay away from those targ teeth.

    “I only ask that you allow me to see them up close, in your resonance chamber.”

    She considered this for a moment. Hugh didn’t really have the numbers anymore to try and fight the admittedly decimated assault team. But she could use his help to avoid further casualties while evacuating the facility.

    “No promises,” she said and found Hugh surprisingly relaxed and reverent perhaps for the first time since she had met him. It was almost as if he had found some inner peace by observing the fully bonded Omega particles. He was almost serene now.

    He nodded in agreement.

    She found her phaser rifle and gripped it firmly. “Let’s move it people.”
     
  12. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Brutal fight! :eek:

    I hope Mr. O’Shaugnessy receives a posthumous medal for his act of valor, but as this mission (if they succeed) will be classified and buried so deeply nobody will ever hear of it... I doubt his sacrifice will receive the recognition it deserves.

    I'm wondering if someone stuck it to one of the queens, causing the momentary 'freeze' among the Xenarth soldiers? Whatever caused it, it was all Starfleet and the Free Borg needed to turn the tide.

    Now I find myself hoping Hugh keeps his word... otherwise, there will be a great deal more fighting (and dying) yet to be done.

    Fantastic installment! :techman:
     
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Yep, that would have been Mer'iab and Sh'Fane who took care of the Warrior Queen in the previous segment. We'll soon find out if it was enough.
     
  14. 6079SmithW

    6079SmithW Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    This is an awesome story,CeJay! I can't wait to see how it ends. Good job! :):techman:
     
  15. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Indeed. That was a violent, visceral fight. This story has it all!
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Cuffe, 2372

    “Somebody talk to me.”

    Terrence Glover stood from his chair after he decided he could no longer handle the rising tension on the bridge sitting down. He knew everyone was doing what they had to, the dozen or so officers on the bridge talking to each other as they passed information back and forth but nobody, it seemed was keeping him advised and that was simply not good enough.

    “Lieutenant Meldin reports his team is three minutes from the extraction point. Minimal resistance to exfil,” said Bhuto, turning from ops to give her report.

    Glover nodded. His mission been to locate and neutralize any boronite caches in the facility, a vital objective to ensure the Xenarth would not be able to just pick up the pieces and try again once this mission was complete. Sensors had already confirmed that no trace of boronite containing material remained.

    “Lieutenant Sh’Fane’s team is two minutes from their extraction point,” this from another bridge officer tasked to oversee the ground assault progress.

    Omega-Three, the team lead by Agamemnon’s Marine commander had joined up with Lure Mer’iab’s people earlier to assist fighting back a Xenarth onslaught after they had successfully neutralized the third Omega generator. Following the defeat of the Warrior Queen the two teams had split up again to head for their respective extraction points.

    Kojo stood at tactical behind the captain. “Captain Donners’ and Lieutenant Mer’iab’s teams are four minutes from extraction.”

    “We still can’t use transporters?” said Glover and glanced at the main viewscreen which was currently setup in split-screen mode. The left showed a tactical display of the facility on Zenith along with movements of friend and foe alike, the right showed Cuffe’s main cargo hold were Pedro Rojas, Seb N’Saba and a whole bunch of engineers and science personnel were swarming around the resonance chamber that had been set up there.

    Rojas turned to face the screen, shaking his head. “Not going to happen,” the chief engineer said. “Even if we were confident in being able to beam up the Omega molecules alongside bio-matter, which we are not, we’re currently using every last drop of energy in the transporter system to beam up the molecules without them disintegrating during the process. And trust me, you don’t want that to happen.”

    “We got two starships, Pedro. You telling me we can’t use Agamemnon either?” he said with obvious impatience lining his voice.

    “She’s using her targeting sensors to ensure we’re doing this right,” he said. “Sorry but for the moment, we’re not beaming anything aboard other than these blasted molecules.”

    “How much longer?”

    The chief engineer turned back to look at the resonance chamber which was already glowing and pulsing with dim blue light. “We’ve got about half of them up here. Maybe another ten minutes.”

    Cuffe’s captain looked at his Andorian ops officer. “Where are our Romulan party-crashers?”

    “Should be coming in range in about thirteen minutes,” she said.

    “Damn tight,” he said and turned to his first officer.

    “Captain, there is something else.”

    Glover looked at the screen were his lupine science officer had stepped closer to the visual pickup, his artificial eyes glowing with undeniable intensity.

    “What now?”

    “I’ve done the calculations but I don’t think we can safely neutralize the particles before the Romulans reach our location. The harmonic resonance required to safely neutralize this many molecules far exceeds the tolerance of the chamber itself.”

    Glover massages his temples. “What are you saying? That you can no longer destroy them? What the hell are we doing all this for then?”

    “We can still neutralize them with a lower resonance frequency but it will take longer.”

    “How much longer?”

    “An hour, perhaps two.”

    “And in the meantime we face a fire-fight with three to four Romulan Warbirds,” said Kojo. “We’re not going to survive that.”

    “Nobody will,” said the science officer. “Not if they land a lucky hit and take out the cargo bay, destabilizing Omega in the process.”

    “And we sure as hell are not just going to hand them over,” said Glover, finding himself in one of those rare situations in which he had no feasible option to fulfill his mission.

    “There may be another way.” This from the science officer on the view-screen.

    “Don’t keep us in suspense,” said Glover, keeping himself from barking at the man.

    “GRS 2127-341.”

    Terrence didn’t understand straight away but Bheto nodded in agreement before turning to look at him. “The black hole.”

    “We dump whatever we cannot neutralize inside,” the Alshain said.

    The captain looked at his helmsman. “How quickly can you get us there, Ensign?”

    Jean Hajar had begun her computations before he had even asked. “We’ll be limited to impulse for most of our way there. About nineteen minutes.”

    “We should be able to stay ahead of the Romulans if we can depart before they get here,” said Bheto from ops. “They won’t be able to go any faster than we can.”

    “Still going to be tight,” said the first officer.

    “I take tight over dead,” the captain said but then noticed something else on the screen. On the tactical display on the left. More and more red dots, signifying the enemy, were appearing close to Donners’ extraction point. The very same her team was rapidly moving towards.

    Kojo noticed it too. “Its an ambush.”

    Glover took a step closer to the screen as if his proximity to the monitor would make a difference. “Get me through to her now.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
  17. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    It seems nothing is destined to go right with this mission! Every time Starfleet catches a break, the equation changes, and our heroes find themselves behind the eight-ball once again. Now this should be the Academy’s new no-win scenario. :scream:
     
  18. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Zenith, 2372

    “You’ve got threat signatures closing in on your extraction point. Omega-Two’s LZ is already compromised and we had to pull out the shuttles before they were overrun. Mer’iab’s team is re-routing to your position as we speak. With Sh’fane and Meldin’s teams already wheels-up, yours is the only exfil we have left.”

    Donners took Glover’s report in stride. Quite literally. Enemy approaching or not, she knew she couldn’t afford to slow down because no matter how many Xenarth had been sent to cut of their escape route, there was an even greater number on their heels, trying to surround them on all sites.

    “How we doing on casualties?”

    “I don’t think this is the best time to get sidetracked with—“

    “Just tell me,” she said, cutting the other captain off.

    She heard him sigh audibly. “We’ve got twelve confirmed KIAs and at least thirty wounded.”

    Maya knew that casualties had been unavoidable but realizing how many people they had already lost on a single mission, her first as a captain no less, was not easy to swallow.

    She stopped in the middle of an intersection, much to V’Ner’s displeasure; her only remaining bodyguard had stuck to her like glue and driven her hard, almost bordering on subordination, to keep moving towards the now questionable safety of the extraction point.

    Maya paid the chief petty officer little mind and turned towards the rest of her team, especially the slow-moving strugglers. Most if not everyone was wounded somehow, the luckiest ones had come away with superficial scrapes and flesh wounds, the worst cases had either lost consciousness or entire limbs from the brutal close-quarter combat with the relentless Xenarth warriors.

    She found Chief Holly taking up the rear, doing his best to have the more seriously wounded security personnel and Marines keep up with the rest of the team.

    To Maya they were not moving fast enough. “Chief, let’s pick up the pace,” she shouted loud enough to make sure her firm voice was being heard by every last person still awake. “I’m not losing one more man on this damned rock.”

    “Yes, ma’am,” the senior NCO hollered back loudly. “You’ve heard the lady. You rest when we get back to the ship, until then you haul ass.”

    Maya could tell the message was received but for some it was simply physically impossible to move any faster, no matter how much Holly yelled at them.

    “We will not make it out of here at this rate,” said Hugh who had stepped up to Maya after observing their progress in a cold, analytical, almost Borg-like manner.

    She turned on him, anger flashing in her eyes. “I’m open to suggestions,” she said. “You and your people seemed to have no problem beaming in here, how about you get us all out the same way?”

    Hugh shook his head. “The vessel we used is too small to carry more than my men,” he said. “I could get you out of here if you wish. Perhaps a few more of your men.”

    “Captain, I urge you to take that offer,” V’Ner said.

    “Not a chance, I’m not leaving anyone behind,” she said and then turned back towards Hugh with newly found appreciation. Not because he had offered her a way out of this but because he himself hadn’t yet followed his own advice. Apparently having decided to make good on his promise and stick with her on this no matter how bad it would get. She wasn’t sure how much this was simply because he wanted her to keep her side of the bargain and allow him to see Omega again.

    She found Holly again. “Chief, find out who’s slowing us down the most,” she said and immediately hated herself for the way she had phrased that. “Whoever has the most critical injuries,” she corrected herself before she glanced back at Hugh. “How many can you take?”

    “Ten, maybe fifteen, plus one of my people to pilot the vessel. It will be a tight fit.”

    She nodded. “We’ll take it,” she said and then to Holly: “Fifteen souls, chief. Find them now, they’re getting a ride on Hugh’s shuttle.” She could see that nobody in her team was comfortable with that idea, some may have preferred being killed in combat than taking the chance of being beamed onto a Borg vessel, fears of brutal assimilation no doubt playing out in their heads. Maya would have none of that. “Do it now. No arguments, no hesitations, get it done.”

    Holly understood and within moments those who couldn’t walk, those who had to be carried or were close to collapsing, disappeared in bright shimmers of emerald colored light along with one of the surviving former Borg drones.

    “How long until they can get make it to one of our ships and then come back for a second pick-up?” Maya said.

    “Too long,” said Hugh. “Even our transporters are affected by the 010 radiation. The shuttle has to get fairly close to the surface to get a transporter lock.”

    She nodded. “Alright, folks, that means no more free rides, we’re on our own, keep moving.”

    But even lightening their ranks by fifteen injured crewmen made a big difference and where their progress had previously been handicapped by a couple of men on stretchers and a few others who could only remain on their feet by being carried by others, the pace now picked up significantly, allowing the rest of the team to proceed in a steady trot.

    Maya felt a sense of relief when she spotted the vertical tunnel which had been dug earlier and which currently functioned as Nelson Mandela[/]i’s improvised landing bay.

    Star-Wanderer and a couple of Marines were waiting for them by the opening which had been blown into the facility and led to their extraction point.

    “Let’s pack in tight,” she said to her people as she watched them head for the runabout, “We’re giving Omega-Two a lift as well so it won’t be a comfortable ride.” She shot a glance at the Xelatian pilot. “Any trouble taking off with the extra weight?”

    The face-plated officer offered a nod. “It will be rough but we’ll make it.”

    Donners hit her combadge. “Glover, we’ve reached our exfil point. Where the hell is Omega-Two?”

    “Couple of minutes out. Maya …”

    “What is it?” she said when he uncharacteristically stopped himself in mid-sentence.

    “The Xenarth will be on top of you much sooner than that. You need to go now.”

    “I’m not leaving them behind.”

    “Maya, listen to me,” he said, keeping his voice free of the arrogance and haughtiness that people often attributed to him. “If you don’t get out now, you won’t get out at all.”

    “Incoming.”

    Holly’s cry came less than a second before the shooting started. Xenarth troops were converging on the extraction point from both ends of the corridor and they had opened fire the moment they had their targets in sight.

    One unlucky security man was cut down instantly. Another shot slammed in Holly’s side, causing him to stumble and fall hard. Maya watched in amazement as the man defied his years and picked himself back up, his face a grimace of pain, he nevertheless helped a Marine to pick up the fallen man and drag him towards the opening leading to the runabout.

    He briefly made eye contact with her but instead of communicating the agony he surely felt, what his intense eyes made clear to her beyond a shadow of a doubt was that they could not survive this latest onslaught.

    V’Ner ignored rank and protocol and harshly pushed the starship captain out of the corridor before she, along with the Borg and others returned fire. It was an effort to slow down the latest Xenarth advance and it achieved little.

    Maya hit her combadge. “Donners to Mer’iab, what’s your status.”

    “We’re coming across heavy resistance, Captain,” he said and apparently had to stop himself as he had to shout orders to his men to take cover and return fire.

    “Lieutenant, I need you to make exfil now.”

    There was a short delay. “Unable to comply,” he said and sounded pained to having to admit this. No matter how much he willed it, no matter how much he wanted to follow her orders, this was one he wasn’t able to.

    Accepting this turned out to difficult. Mer’iab’s team consisted out of nearly fifty men and women which she would leave behind to certain death if she ordered their retreat now. Intellectually she understood that the alternative was to possibly lose close to a hundred men by trying to stay behind and fight against seemingly impossible odds.

    She heard Vej’s words he had spoken to her fairly recently in the back of her mind: “I want to make you aware of the responsibility which now rests solely on your shoulders. I want you to be able to deal with a difficult situation when it sneaks up on you from seemingly out of the blue without it leaving you paralyzed.”

    Kobayashi Maru all over again but this time for real. The ultimate no-win scenario and it was threatening to do to her exactly what Vej had warned her about. Don’t let fear of your decision paralyze you.

    She slapped her combadge again so hard it hurt. “Lieutenant, you have new orders. Stay alive. No matter what it takes, keep your team alive. We’ll be back for you.”

    “Understood, sir, Mer’iab out,” he said before he closed the channel almost as if to spare her from having to cut him loose herself. His voice had been firm and had not allowed any indication that he had doubted her words. She wasn’t sure if she didn’t doubt them herself.

    Maya turned to the rest of her people. “Pull back, pull back, we’re getting out of here now.”
     
  19. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Nelson Mandela, 2372


    The runabout had turned out to be a lot less packed than Maya had expected and so she had easily found a quiet niche for herself in one of the compact crew modules just large enough for a fold out chair and desk and a double bunk.

    Chief Holly found the captain sitting in the chair with her back towards the door. “Sir.”

    “Give me a minute, Chief,” she said in a surprisingly small voice.

    But instead the veteran NCO took a step inside to allow the doors to close behind him. “With all due respect, I don’t think we have that kind of time, sir.”

    She turned to face him, unable to hide her red eyes and the fact that she had cried not a moment earlier.

    “If you were anybody else, I would ask if you’re alright,” he said. “But you’re not anybody else. You’re the captain. You don’t have a choice in the matter. You have to be alright. At least until the current crisis is over.” He walked over to the wall-mounted replicator and typed in a command into the interface. Within a moment a tiny ampoule materialized and he picked it up and handed it over to Donners.

    She looked at it for a second before she understood what it was. Then she threw her head back and applied a couple of drops of the clear liquid into each eye. She wiped away any residual moisture and when she leveled her head again, Holly noticed that her irises where as brilliantly white as they used to be.

    She stood and stepped up to him, touching his upper arm. “Thank you, Chief.”

    He responded with a firm nod.

    Then she was out the door with him following close behind.

    “What do we got?” she said as she stepped into the runabout’s cockpit, her voice firm and strong, showing no evidence of her weakness just moment earlier.

    “We’re three minutes from Agamemnon. All other vessels have already docked with Cuffe or are doing so as we speak,” said Star-Wandered from the conn.

    “According to sensors the Romulans are still ten minutes out from our position,” said Daystrom and turned from his station to look at the captain. “I’ve just spoken to N’Saba on the Cuffe. They have completed beaming the Omega molecules aboard but they won’t be able to neutralize it using the resonance chamber before the Romulans get here. The current plan is to head for the nearby black hole and dump them inside instead.”

    Maya was already toggling the comm to Glover’s ship. “Donners to Cuffe.”

    “Terrence, here, glad to hear you got off that rock.”

    “Now that you’ve got Omega onboard, can you get a lock on my team on the surface and beam them up as well?”

    “We’re looking into it. The problem is that our transporters as well as the targeting sensors on the Agamemnon needed to be precisely calibrated to lock on to the Omega molecules. We might not have the time to recalibrate them for personnel transport by the time the Romulans get here.”

    Donners considered that for a moment. “Fine. You go ahead and dump Omega in the black hole and I keep Agamemnon behind to get my people back.”

    “You do that, you might find yourself in a battle against three or even four warbirds, if Toreth rejoins the fight. I don’t like those odds.”

    Maya shook her head. “The Romulans want Omega. They’ll chase after you instead of wasting their time here. Best case scenario I can buy you some time by distracting them a bit.”

    Glover didn’t respond to this which Maya thought to be uncharacteristically reticent for her fellow captain. Then she spotted Daystrom who had stood from his station to step closer to viewport. At first she figured that this was because he had spotted the approaching Romulan flotilla.

    “My God,” he said.

    Curious she followed his glance to see what had caused his surprise. And then she saw it too. Those weren’t Romulan ships he had spotted. These were quite a few magnitudes more massive and shaped perfectly symmetrically. A cold shudder ran up her spine when understanding dawned on her. Up to this point it had been difficult to imagine that this day could become much worse and yet the universe kept finding ways to make it just that.

    “Maya,” Glover said, his voice not quite as firm as it used to be. “We have another problem and a lot less time then we thought.”
     
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Iota Crucis IV, 2267


    The explosion had been powerful enough to knock Robert Wesley onto the floor of the room he had been assigned by the Xenarth for the duration of his stay, along with everything else that was not bolted down.

    His first instinct had been that his worst nightmare had come true. Not only had Ketteract failed to stabilize the Omega molecule, he and his overeager Xenarth counterparts had triggered it somehow, bringing along a feared apocalypse which would be felt across the entire quadrant.

    But once he realized that such an outcome would most likely not have resulted in just bruises and aching bones, he dismissed the notion that the galaxy as he knew it had come to an end. It didn’t mean that they were safe. For all he knew, the explosion had only been the first strike in a series of devastating blasts caused by this unstable Omega particle.

    Still fearing, not only for the safety of his ship and crew but much of the known galaxy, he picked himself up from the floor and headed towards the balcony of his twelfth floor room. All the while mentally berating himself for having allowed matters to progress this far. His gut-instinct had told him to put a stop to these seemingly uncontrollable experiments the moment he had learned about them. The Xenarth and the Prime Directive be damned.

    Now three days had passed since they had arrived on this world and Ketteract had made God-knew what kind of progress to either hand the Xenarth one of the most powerful forces known to man or bringing them all one step closer to total annihilation.

    Once outside he immediately directed his gaze towards the nearby mountain within which he knew Ketteract and the Xenarth scientists had been effortlessly working on synthesizing the molecules. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found no apparent signs of damage and catastrophe. The small dome on top of the mountain also appeared undisturbed.

    He found the source of the explosion much closer. Back smoke was rising within one of the nearby habitats and he could see an entire block of buildings crumbling and on fire. A number of Xenarth were swarming around the damage, to escape it or try to put out the flames, at the distance he wasn’t able to tell.

    The doors to his room opened and he turned to see Kutznetsov and Mtolo rushing inside. Both seemingly greatly concerned.

    “Commodore, are you alright?” the Zulu security officer asked.

    “Banged up a little but otherwise uninjured, thanks Nealo. How’s the rest of the away team?”

    The security officer had his phaser drawn and carefully looked Wesley over until seemingly convinced that he had not been seriously injured. Only then did he replace his weapon and relaxed.

    “Vincent and Zha’Thara are on their way back here as we speak. Ketteract is fine too, apparently. From what Talana said over the comm., he refused to leave the lab,” said the Bear.

    “Of course he did. Any idea what happened?”

    The Russian joined Wesley on the balcony to get a better look at the damage in the other habitat. “Some sort of attack. Tensions between Ergia and Warrior Queen have been worsening over the last couple of days. It appears it finally reached the breaking point.”

    The commodore nodded and then looked towards Mtolo. “Lieutenant, see if you can find Selphi. I want to know as much as possible about what has happened.”

    The man gave his captain a short nod and then departed, leaving Kutznetsov and Wesley alone on the balcony. For a moment neither of the men spoke as they both silently watched the fires in other dome, now clearly spreading to nearby buildings, threatening to destroy the entire habitat. The Xenarth first responders appeared to struggle to contain the blaze.

    “What the hell are we doing here, Alexei?” Wesley finally said.

    The burly Russian aimed a perplexed sidelong look at the older man. “We’re trying to keep the Xenarth from accidently blowing up the universe. Sir.”

    He nodded slowly. “Sure. But in the process we have inserted ourselves as a variable in their own civil war. We are actively helping one side to get what they want over the obvious wishes of another faction. This will be coming to blows soon at which time we’ll be forced to decide whose side we support,” he said and looked straight at Kutznetsov. “That’s not a decision a Starfleet officer should ever make.”

    The first officer considered this for a moment, apparently quite cognizant of the dilemma they were facing. “The Xenarth posses a power much too dangerous not just for them but for our galaxy. I fear the thought of what the Klingons or the Romulans would ever do if they had access to this kind of technology. By helping them now to bring their portal back online, to take them to wherever they wish to go, we maybe neutralizing a serious threat to our quadrant of space.”

    “And allow them to threaten another one instead?” said Wesley. “And what about those Xenarth?” he added and pointed at the raging fires in the not so far distance. “What about the ones who have no interest in trying to reach this fabled Xendaru and want to make this planet their home instead? Are we to make this decision for them as well?”

    “It occurs to me that we have already involved ourselves in the Xenarth affairs,” said Kutznetsov. “Whatever we do next will have a significant negative impact on one side or the other.”

    Further deliberations on the subject were cut short when Charles Vincent and Talana Zha’Thara entered Wesley’s room. The two men on the balcony stepped back inside to greet them.

    The commodore went straight to business. “We have one day left until the Supreme’s deadline expires. What’s the progress with the molecules?”

    The Andorian had a pained expression on her face.

    Vincent found an upturned chair, set it back onto his feet and took a seat. The middle-aged doctor was slightly out of breath.

    “Not a good time to play coy,” said Kutznetsov sternly, shooting both of them impatient looks.

    The doctor and the science officer exchanged quick glances before Zha’Thara faced her superior officers again. “We are concerned. About Ketteract.”

    The first officer uttered a dismissive hiss. “Da. But what else is new?”

    Vincent shook his head. “It’s worse. The man has become practically obsessed over this Omega molecule of his. He has worked in that lab for three days straight. If he’s eaten of slept in that time, I haven’t seen it. The man is teetering at the brink of madness, if you ask me, and has no business playing around with something as powerful as these molecules are supposed to be.”

    “Doctor, is it you professional, medical opinion that Bendes Ketteract is mentally unsound to carry out research on the Omega molecule?” Wesley wanted to know.

    “Psychology is not my field, Commodore and even if it were, I probably would need to do much more work before being able to give you a full diagnosis. If you want to know about my initial impression, as well as my time-honored gut feeling then yes, the man is showing clear warning signs of the onset of a full blown psychosis and shouldn’t be nowhere near anything more powerful than a toaster.”

    “The problems is,” said the science officer, “that the Xenarth have come to almost revere the man. They are convinced that with his help they are close to a breakthrough to have the molecules stabilized and their Star Portal up and running within a few days.”

    “And what do you think?” Kutznetsov said.

    “I have spent the last three days looking over Ketteract and Queen Chelra’s shoulders and I still don’t fully understand how Omega works but they are not wrong about their progress. I’m sure they have their first molecules fully synthesized either today or before the end of the day tomorrow. Or at least made the attempt.”

    The first officer gave the commodore a concerned look.

    A second explosion gripped the room, causing the floor under their feet to tremble. Wesley, Kutznetsov and Zha’Thara had to struggle to keep their balance while Vincent slipped out of his chair and fell onto the floor.

    “Not again,” the doctor moaned, rubbing his bruised backside.

    The tremble subsided and the first officer helped Vincent back onto his feet.

    “Commodore,” Zha’Thara was pointing into the distance and Wesley turned to see that another habitat had taken damage in a separate attack. Once again flames and smoke quickly filled the dome.

    Not a moment later Mtolo returned, bringing the Artisan Queen with him. The insectoid appeared agitated, judging by her twitching mandibles and her feelers which refused to stay still. “Commodore, I am relieved to find you unharmed,” she said quickly. “The Warrior Queen is making her move against Ergia and I am concerned that her followers are too numerous for the Supreme to be able to hold them off.”

    “The timing couldn’t be more lousy,” grumbled the first officer. “With the Omega molecule at a critical state, the last thing we need is a full out war to break out.”

    Selphi was in agreement. “I do not believe this to be a coincidence. The Warrior Queen has many spies within Ergia’s ranks. She undoubtedly is fully aware of the progress your scientist has made.”

    Wesley looked back out towards the most recent attack. The shockwave had been less severe as the habitat was farther away but the damage appeared worse. The dome itself had been cracked and he wondered if it would eventually crumble completely. Apparently the Warrior Queen had little scruples in tearing down what the Xenarth had built here, even if her ultimate aim was to remain on this world. But she would not stop at anything to get what she wanted, even if it meant to raze the settlements to the ground and rebuild it from scratch, probably killing countless Xenarth in the process.

    Commodore Robert Wesley made his decision then and there. “This situation is getting out of control. We have to take action and do it now,” he said and faced the Artisan Queen. “We have to get back to the lab. Take us to Ketteract.”
     

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