Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    I hadn't intended to include that, but the idea just came to me as I was looking at that piece for the 47th time, so I thought 'why not?'

    Does open up doors about what else the Nacene have done.
     
  2. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Great chapter, Bry! As usual you provide vivid imagery and excellent dialogue. The face-off between Kes and Susperia was both well-written and surprising. I truly did not see that outcome.
     
  3. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    First Councillor’s Office, Municipal Building, Ocampa City
    Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant

    Daggin didn’t know what, but he knew something had happened. He had received a telepathic message from Kes, saying that they needed to meet on the planet, so he had agreed. The inhabitants of the city were still wary after the Kazon attack, so the plazas and walkways were still quiet, the citizens opting to remain indoors—just in case the Kazon returned.

    As he awaited her arrival, he tried to see to the duties and tasks that filled his day, but he couldn’t quite focus. His memory dwelt on Linnis, the young woman he had met on the Great Plaza as he’d seen his people to the shelters. There was something about her that was familiar but he couldn’t quite figure out what, but her spirit was virile and refreshing—especially after so long as a bureaucrat seeing to the fears and wishes of a complacent population. A small smile tugged at his lips, but he quickly shook it off after all she was barely one and he was almost six and a half—old enough to be her father.

    Suddenly the space just before his desk was filled with light for a moment, quickly replaced by the forms of Kes, Tanis and two other Ocampa he hadn’t been introduced to. With their arrival he stood up to greet them, making sure to keep his private thoughts to himself. Tanis looked a little tired, but that wasn’t surprising after what he and his people had endured in orbit and all the repair work they would need to do. Kes on the other hand continued to age with every time he met her, if he didn’t know better he’d have said she was pushing ten. Despite her advanced years, there was an air of peace to her now, as though a burden had been taken off of her shoulders.

    “Hello Daggin,” she said, a soft smile tugging at her wrinkled lips.

    “Kes, Tanis. Is everything alright? Have the Kazon returned?”

    Tanis shook his head. “Our sensors are clear—it looks like they’ve gotten the message and are keeping their distance.”

    Breathing a sigh of relief, he allowed his body to relax slightly. “So what’s this about then?”

    Tanis looked from him to Kes and back again. “You’ll have to ask her.”

    Both men looked at the frail woman, whose smile grew a little more. Before Daggin could ask her anything there was another pulse of light and his office disappeared, replaced with darkness.

    “What? Where? Kes?” he asked, feeling his body tense up again. A chill ran down his spin, wherever they were it was colder than the city, whilst the air was clean—he couldn’t detected a single smell.

    “It’s alright,” Kes told them, her voice echoing. A moment later the room illuminated slowly, allowing his eyes to adjust.

    They were in some kind of control room, it was long and narrow, the pristine metal shimmered in the light. Looking around he took in the vast array of display screens and instrument panels, and all the chairs that faced outwards. By no means an expert in design, from what Daggin knew of the Kazon, the room seemed too beautiful to belong to them—he guessed they weren’t on one of their ships. His next assumption was that it was on Tanis’ station, but the look of curiosity and awe on his face told Daggin this was a strange place to him too.

    “Where are we?” he asked his old friend.

    “This is an Ocampan ship,” she told them.

    “What?”

    She smiled. “Despite what we have been told by others, our race was once quite advanced. Before the Warming, we were once capable of space flight—though lacked faster-than-light technology. Our people had planned to travel to the stars onboard this vessel.”

    “A generational ship,” Tanis remarked, looking around once again.

    “Yes. But then the Warming occurred, too fast for our people to react to, so when the Caretaker and his mate came offering their help the Ocampa took it. Over time, we forgot our history and what we were once capable of,” she looked around the control room, “and this ship was buried under sand.”

    “How do you know this?” Daggin asked, trying to wrap his head around a past he knew nothing about.

    “Susperia showed me.”

    “She’s returned?” Tanis asked at the same moment Daggin asked, “Who is Susperia?”

    “She was the Caretaker’s mate, the one who took Tanis’ ancestors away from Ocampa,” she explained to him, then looked at Tanis with a hint of remorse. “I’m afraid that she has gone, Tanis. I don’t know where.”

    He rested a hand on her shoulder, a look of concern in his eyes. “Are you alright?”

    Kes nodded. “Yes. She shared with me the knowledge of this ship before she left.”

    “Why?” Tanis probed.

    “Because she wanted to help give our people the best chance for survival,” she told them, moving towards the front of the room, where there was a single seat in the middle of the deck, above the others.

    “I don’t understand,” Daggin admitted. “How is this ship supposed to help?”

    Kes turned to face them. “The Ocampa have to leave. Not just this planet or this sector, but the entire quadrant. The Kazon have been frightened off for now, but they’ll come back, and if not them then another aggressive race. This whole region is filled with dangerous species, all of which would either enslave of kill the Ocampa if given the chance.

    “I know of a place where our people could find peace and support,” she told them, the faint smile returning to her lips. “However it will take a lot of work and sacrifices to make this work.”

    “Kes, what you’re asking is too much,” Daggin protested. “There are those in the city who still believe that the Caretaker will return and things will go back to the way they are, they would never consider leaving.”

    “Daggin, our world is dead and our people will follow it shortly. What little power reserves you have left will run out and after that happens there is no light, or heat, or nutritional supplements. Do you have a way of generating your own energy?”

    He knew she was right. The Ocampa had been totally reliant on the Caretaker for everything, including their power. Before he had gone they had built up a reserve to last them five years, and through a conservation scheme it had lasted a little longer but they were only a few months away from being powerless, and had no viable means of generating their own—at least not in time and not at the level they would need.

    “We don’t, but this is our home. Where would we go?”

    “Do you remember the crew of Voyager? I lived and worked beside them for three years, Daggin. I know that they would help us however they could.”

    Tanis interjected. “But they are from the other side of the galaxy. How would you expect to get there?”

    “You’re station is just like the Caretaker’s, it may have the technology we will need,” Daggin noticed a flicker ghost over her eyes, something he couldn’t quite identify and was gone as quickly as it appeared. “I read up on all the information Voyager had gathered on the Caretaker and his technology, I know what I am looking for and should be able to get it working.

    “However, this is a sacrifice your people will have to make, Tanis. The station won’t be able to make the journey, so your people will have to relocate to a ship.”

    Though he looked ready to argue the point, they both saw the sincerity in her face. Daggin knew her well enough to know that she had thought this through, and her experiences out in space made her better qualified to know just what was waiting for them.

    “How many people can this ship hold?” Daggin asked.

    “In total, around one hundred and fifty thousand.”

    “That’s only around half our population,” he stated. “Are there other ships we can use?”

    “Not here,” she admitted then looked upwards, “but there are eight in orbit.”

    “Even filling those ships to capacity, it wouldn’t be enough,” Tanis pointed out.

    “Then we will need to find more. There are many places we can procure large ships from, so long as they are structurally intact they will do.”

    “How do we go about buying ships? We have nothing to trade,” Daggin asked.

    “The cormaline gives us more than enough to barter with, we can either use what the Kazon mined or sell the mining rights. Either way we have more than enough to secure enough ships for our purpose.”

    Daggin couldn’t believe just how thoroughly she’d thought out the idea, which led him to suspect that had been her plan ever since she had returned home. It was ambitious (or insane, he wasn’t quite sure) but with their time running out and no other solutions in mind there wasn’t much more they could do. A quick look at Tanis and he knew the other man felt the same way, even with the help of the station, finding a way to keep the city going would take time and their resources weren’t infinite.

    Slowly, he nodded. “I will tell our people, so that they can decide for themselves what they want to do.”

    “As will I,” Tanis added.

    Kes gave them both a sad smile. “Thank you. I’ll start running checks on this ship, make sure it’s fully functional.”

    Before they could say anything more, he felt the light envelop him again and was once again alone in his office. He had no idea how he was going to put this to the Ocampa in the city, it would be something the divided them, from those who wanted to escape from the dying city, to those who were adamant that they would be saved once the Caretaker returned. However it was a decision they all needed to make for themselves, it wasn’t one he could make on their behalf as he still wasn’t sure on what Kes had in mind. It was a mammoth task ahead of them, and there was something about Kes’ manner that told him they would have to move quickly.

    “I’d better get started,” he mused to himself.

    * * * * *​
     
  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Tunnel Entrance, Mining Camp
    Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
    59th Day of Zei (August 11th, 2377)

    The azure blue sky brought tears to her eyes.

    She had seen images and tried to imagine it, but nothing compared to actually seeing it. Linnis could do nothing but look upward and marvel. On her skin she could feel the warmth of the sun, as a hot breeze brushed dust over her bare arms and face. She wasn’t alone either, almost all the Ocampa who stepped out from the tunnels were dazzled by the sky and the sun, pausing to soak it in.

    It took a long moment for her to finally lower her head and take in the remains of her world’s surface. Barren and dusty, it was worse than she’d expected. The tunnel they had used to leave their subterranean home emerged near the mining settlement the Kazon had used, nestled in the remains of an ancient Ocampa city. Sand had started to bury the Kazon shelters, crates and tools, as though the planet wanted to rid itself of the memory of their presence.

    All around the camp sat an array of shuttles, all of different sizes, shapes and ages, but it was towards these that the Ocampa were being directed. She couldn’t believe they were actually getting ready to leave. The last twelve days had been a whirlwind.

    It had all started almost two weeks ago, when the citizens of the city had been gathered together on the Great Plaza and Daggin had addressed them all, telling them of just how severe the situation with the city and its energy reserves were, as well as the plan that had been formed as a way to save them.

    She had stood and listened, shocked and awed by what he was telling them. She had suspected that things were worse than they’d been told, but she’d never have dreamed it was as bad as it was; but when he’d announced that they could be able to evacuate the city and the planet onboard several ships, which they could then use to travel to a new home, she didn’t know what to think. Logically she knew it gave them a fighting chance to survive, although somewhat preposterous, but other than that she had felt a strong desire to get out from under the rocks and dirt and see the sky.

    Even just by looking among the faces, she could see that many of the younger generation shared her yearning to take their wild chance, whilst the elders looked mortified at the thought of it, and those in between were a mixture of both. After the meeting they had been given a couple of days to think it over, assured that whatever decision they reached for themselves would be respected. As soon as the meeting had finished, she had approached Daggin and told him that she wanted to go. He had smiled at her in a knowing was, as though the decision she’d made only seconds earlier hadn’t surprised him in the slightest.

    The city was then buzzing with chatter, both verbal and telepathic, as the people tried to decide their own fates. No one wanted to face eminent death but the thought of leaving their home was terrifying for some to comprehend, in time however more and more started to come forward and agree to the evacuation. Of the 335,619 men, women and children on Ocampa V, eighty-five percent of the population had chosen to leave, willing to take their chances in the unknown. Of the 50,441 who had opted to remain behind, only a handful were under seven years old, but all of them were staunch believers that they would be saved by the Caretaker and no one could convince them otherwise.

    Daggin had been a man of his word and respected their choice, though not without asking them whenever the opportunity arose if they were certain of their decision. They all stuck by their belief and their choice. So as their neighbours, friends and in some cases family, packed up their possessions and supplies, those who were staying watched them go—however, as the reality set in a few wither changed their minds or were persuaded to leave as well, though not many.

    All of that had led to this point. What had been an idea, a wild dream, was suddenly very real and she was beginning to doubt her choice—despite what she knew deep down that she belonged out there.

    “Hello.”

    The soft, frail voice startled her, never realising her head had craned back up towards the vast blue sky. Looking behind her, she found an old woman, dressed in a simple grey tunic standing, smiling up at her.

    “Hello,” she replied, studying the woman—there was something oddly familiar about her. “Can I help you?”

    “I’m alright,” the old woman said, then looked up at the sky. “Wondrous isn’t it?”

    Linnis looked back for a moment as well and smiled. “It really is. It’s beyond anything I could’ve imagined.”

    “I remember the first time I saw it...it was the single most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. But it was only the beginning of something truly magnificent—as it will be for you, Linnis.”

    She studied the woman again. “How do you know my name?”

    “Linnis!” Daggin’s voice carried over the crowd.

    It was after his second call for her that she looked away from the old woman and noticed him approach, a faint smile tugging at his lips. She glanced away from him and back at the old woman, only to find she’d vanished. Looking into the steady throng of people moving around her, she couldn’t see the woman. She was still looking when Daggin reached her.

    “Problem?” he asked, a frown on his brow.

    Slowly she shook her head. “No, it’s nothing.” Trying to shake the old woman from her mind, she smiled up at Daggin. “Why were you looking for me?”

    “I just wanted to tell you there’s been a change in your travel plans. You’re now on the Ocampa ship.”

    “That’s very sweet of you, Daggin.”

    “What makes you think I had something to do with it,” he protested with a grin on his face.

    “Call it a hunch.”

    He chuckled. “Come on, the shuttle is over here. Let’s get you settled.”

    She nodded, but before she followed after him, she took a moment to examine the crowd again for the old woman. There was no sign of her anywhere, but what she had said stayed with her; this was just the beginning.

    * * * * *​

    Administration Centre, Ocama City Station
    In orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant

    The evacuation of the planet—or rather all those who wanted to leave—had been completed. Just one shuttle was left to take the last few from the station, all the others had ferried the Ocampa from either the planet’s surface or the station to one of the thirty ships that now sat in high orbit. In addition to the ancient Ocampa ship and the eight Kazon destroyers, there were six Vidiian medical transports, six Talaxian cargo barges, and nine Illidarian colonial liners. The flotilla was a unique amalgam of ships, but they all had one thing in common, large internal volume, which were now filled with thousands of Ocampa on each.

    Through the transparent bulkheads of the Administrations Centre, Kes could see all thirty ships. Even before she sensed him coming, she knew Tanis would come and see her before he left. When the doors opened his footfalls echoed around the dual-level facility and steadily approached her.

    She turned to face him before he came to a stop at the display table, his face locked in a serious expression though his eyes belied his concern.

    “Kes, come with us. There is still plenty of room on the ships.”

    She shook her head. “I’ve told you I can’t, Tanis. I need to operate the wave generator, monitor its output and be ready to correct any fluctuations—no one else can do it except me.”

    It was not the first time he had tried to convince her to come with them. Throughout the last twelve days, as they procured additional ships, loaded up those who were eager to evacuate, taught some of the passengers how to monitor the basics of the systems, then transferred a small power generator from the station to the planet (for those who had chosen to stay), he had persisted with asking her to join them.

    Part of her wanted nothing more than to go with them, so see all those onboard Voyager once again, to see their homeworlds with her own eyes and the families that were whole once again, but she couldn’t…no matter how much she may have wanted. Just like Tanis and Daggin, she had her role to play and it wasn’t with them.

    Tanis paused and turned to look out at the evacuation fleet. She could sense his thoughts storming under the surface, but didn’t push. Instead she looked back out on the fleet, it was a testament to her people and what they could accomplish in a short space of time, and soon they would be safer. It was all she hoped for them, to find somewhere they could call home and truly flourish.

    “It won’t work, will it,” Tanis stated, breaking the silence. It wasn’t a question as he already knew the answer. “The wave transporter, it’s not enough to take the entire fleet away from here.”

    “No, it’s not,” she admitted. “It could manage four, maybe five, ships. It needs a boost of energy to encapsulate the entire fleet and get them to the Alpha Quadrant, and there is no technology on board that could generate it.”

    He turned to face her once again. “Kes, I’ve seen how much your abilities take from you every time you overexert yourself. What will happen to you if you do this?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Then don’t do it. We still have time; we can find another way to generate the energy we need—”

    She shook her head. “Even if we could, the emitters couldn’t handle it. This is the only way.”

    “But it’ll most likely kill you!”

    She nodded. “Most likely.”

    “Kes,” he began but she cut him off.

    “Tanis,” she began, turning to face him once again, her eyes locking onto his, “I always knew that what I had in mind would carry a great cost. So long as our people are safe, my sacrifice won’t have been for nothing. I’m counting on you and Daggin to make sure the Ocampa find a good home. Both sides have much to gain from the other and by unifying, our people will become more than they are.

    “Promise me that you will do that,” she asked of him.

    He gave a single nod. “I give you my word.”

    “Thank you.” She turned away from him again. “You’d better get to your ship.”

    “Goodbye Kes.”

    “Goodbye Tanis.”

    Without another word, he slowly headed for the exit, paused for a moment, looking back at her and then left. It took him a good fifteen minutes to reach the shuttlebay and for the last evacuation shuttle to head for its designated ship. She watched as the little silver dart headed for the single Ocampa ship. As it disappeared inside the transport, she reached out with her mind, touching all those that she knew from her first year in the city, the last one being Daggin’s.

    Her eyes moistened as she felt his growing affection for Linnis, the girl that she had once been; all the innocence, wonder, compassion and joy that had once been inside of her given form to live the life that she would never have. A smile spread across her thin lips as tears rolled down her wrinkled cheeks.

    She stepped to the display table, which was already set to generate the displacement wave that would carry the thirty ships to the other side for the galaxy. Placing her hands on the table, she began to focus her mind on what she needed to do.

    “Tanis to Kes. All ships are secured and report ready. You may proceed.”

    “Understood. Standby.”

    The Administrations Centre filled with light from within her, growing brighter and brighter until she herself had to close her eyes against its brilliance—just like the first time she had seen her planet’s sun. Around her she heard the wave generator power up, but still she continued to build up her energy. She would only get one chance to do this and she had to do it right.

    When she felt herself grow weak she pushed herself further, beyond anything she had ever tried before. She could feel the molecular bonds in her body vibrate as she drew upon every last ounce of strength and energy within her frail frame, until she couldn’t draw on anything more. It was now or never. Before she released her energy into the wave, she called out to all the minds she had touched upon.

    *My gift to you.*

    Then she simply let go. The last thing she felt was her energy focus into the wave, expel out into space and encompass the ships filled with her people.

    * * * * *​
     
  5. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Chapter Six


    Control Room, Listening Outpost T-3
    Beloti Asteroid Belt, Talarian Border, Alpha Quadrant
    Stardate: 55614.4 (August 13th, 2377)

    Anthony Dyson failed miserable to stifle a yawn.

    “Are we keeping you up, Tony?” Maggie Halloran asked from the opposite side of the control room, which was only six meters away.

    “Sorry, hot date last night.”

    Maggie chuckled. Following the Talarian Incursion just six months ago, Starfleet had reactivated the three covert listening outposts along the border. T-3 was secreted inside an asteroid in the Beloti System, which was just within Federation space and no more, and wasn’t much than just a vast bank of sensor and communication arrays, with a sophisticated computer to monitor and maintain the systems. The outpost had a crew of six, none of who were Tony’s type (and vice versa) so what counted as a “hot date” was him in his bunk with a copy of Vulcan Love Slave, Part IV: Logic/Lust.

    Work on the outpost was pretty repetitive and mundane, especially for him as the computer tech. With such a small crew as well, protocols went out the airlock pretty quick, so all the crew called each other by name and with next to no privacy then they got to know each other a little better than many would like. So far fortunately, there hadn’t been any fallouts and lingering squabbles, as they were only halfway through their eight month posting—in order to keep the base secret they couldn’t risk rotating the crews out any sooner.

    He was fortunate not to be working with Taeda, the systems manager, as she’d keep ribbing him about his night time activities—even though she was no better. Maggie was the sensor operator, and as the oldest on the outpost they all respected her, even Timol—the Intel officer assigned as supervisor. She was good natured with a maternal streak, and liked to joke around as much as the rest of them but knew when to cut the ‘kids’ some slack. They had pulled third watch together, which meant that in a little under two hours they’d be relieved and he could catch up on some much needed sleep.

    Maggie’s console started chirping. As the senior non-com quickly responded to it, he quickly looked over the computer systems and ran a level five diagnostic, just to make sure that whatever had registered was actually there and not some kind of glitch. He had just finished when Maggie looked up.

    “Long-range sensors have just detected a massive energy wave.”

    “The Talarians?” he asked, feeling his stomach tighten.

    “I don’t think so. Get the others up here, I’ll start an analysis.”

    “Right,” he said with a nod then tapped the intercom. “Stations people, we’ve got something hinky on sensors.”

    He then started to run all the telemetry that the sensors were recording into the secure data recorder, as he was supposed to—just in case anything happened to the outpost the recorder could be salvaged and their fate would be known.

    T-3 has little habitable space, essentially only two levels that the crew actually used routinely. The bottom level housed their power generator, environmental systems and cargo bays, as well as access corridors and crawlspaces to the computer cores and sensor/communications arrays. The upper level was for the control room, crew bunks, mess hall, transport bay and infirmary. So it didn’t take long for the rest of the crew to begin filtering in.

    Timol Ehvan was first; his hair a mess and red duty shirt only zipped up halfway. “What is it, Maggie?” he asked, moving over to her console, just as Taeda Zinn strutted in and took her place at the engineering station.

    “An energy wave of unknown origin. Sensors show it to be some kind of polarised magnetic variation; I can’t much more from it than that.”

    “See if it matches anything in the databanks,” Timol instructed.

    Data analyst Apa-Vou and communications specialist Johplehn V’Durgo entered the control room and took their stations, neither saying a word and were working the moment they were seated. The control room had just the six consoles, including the situation table in the middle where Timol now stood looking at the telemetry for himself, so when they were all called into the cramped room there wasn’t much space to move.

    “Timol, I’ve got something,” Maggie announced. “The wave matches one logged by the U.S.S. Voyager not long after it entered the Badlands in 2371, but this one is putting out about fifty times more energy.”

    The control room fell silent. The crew looked among themselves before all eyes fell on Timol expectantly. He looked from Maggie down to the table display then back again.

    “Are we in any danger?”

    “Negative, it’s directed out into unclaimed space.”

    There was another beat of silence before the Trill lieutenant squared his shoulders. “Maggie, start gathering all the data you can. Taeda, Tony, tweak the sensors, I want them as accurate as you can make them.” He turned towards the two-headed Malgorian seated nearest the entrance. “Apa-Vou, go through the records from Voyager and get me all you can on the energy wave, where it came from and start devising a way disperse it if we need to. Johplehn, set up a priority one subspace link with Starfleet Intelligence, I’ll brief them of the situation, then alert the Third Cutter Squadron—we could be about to face a whole new kind of threat.”

    As one, Tony and the four non-coms confirmed with, “Aye sir.”

    Before he could head for his cabin to discuss the matter with his superiors, Maggie stopped him. “Timol, I’m picking up what could be a number of ships within the wave—big ships. At least two dozen.”

    “Stay on it. I’ll be back in five.”

    All thoughts of sleep had evaporated from Tony’s mind. What had happened to Voyager was well known across the fleet, and now it looked like it was happening again, only this time in reverse.

    * * * * *​

    Major’s Quarters, Frigate Deskott
    Routine Patrol, Argaya Sector

    Tohr Inahk sat in silence. They were back on routine patrol of a region that bordered unclaimed space, however since there was nothing of strategic or mineral value in the region the Republic had little interest in expanding into it—they would waste more resources than they gained. For Inahk, it proved just how low the Militia thought of him. He had failed to achieve victory and cost them greatly in ships and men, as well as exposing to Starfleet just how strong they had become. Now they had increased the number of ships and their patrols, so the Republic couldn’t use the element of surprise to gain a foothold into the valuable worlds on the other side of the border.

    His mood darkened further.

    He pounced from his seat and headed to the counter, where he grabbed a bottle of chaarl, deciding that if he was going to be angry and bitter, he might as well be drunk. Not bothering with a glass, he left the stopper on the counter and slowly prowled to the small viewport, swallowing heavily from the bottle every few steps. The chaarl was fiery on his tongue and down his throat, warming his stomach; he had long since become accustomed to the bitter taste.

    Today was his eldest son’s birthday. It should have been a day of festivities and celebration—even with the light-years that separated them—as Bken had reached the Age of Decision and was now a man. It should have been a great day for both father and son, but following his failure mere months ago Inahk’s own father had taken Bken under his guardianship, so as to spare the boy the shame of his father’s failure.

    He knew that it was for Bken’s benefit, but that didn’t stop it from hurting—for Talarians there wasn’t anything that could surpass the bond between father and son. Since he couldn’t make contact with his son, Inahk hadn’t been able to comm him, leave a message, or even have an appropriate gift delivered. Having his left eye gouged out would be less painless.

    “Bridge to Inahk,” came the confident tone of the duty officer.

    No one onboard knew what today was to their leader, as he hadn’t told anyone of the family he had once had, so interruptions were to be expected.

    “What?” he growled into the intercom.

    “Sir, long range sensors picked up a burst of unknown energy fluctuations. They have since dissipated.”

    “Then why are you bothering me with this?” he demanded, having no patience for the interruption. He planned on finishing the bottle and spending several hours locked inside his quarters, stewing.

    “There is an armada of thirty ships at the exact point where the energy wave ceased.”

    That caught his attention. “What kind of ships?” he asked, putting the chaarl down on a low table.

    “Unknown sir. They don’t match any records we have, but they are all behemoths—each could easily hold two thousand soldiers, if not more.”

    “I’m on my way.”

    Grabbing his jacket from the back of a chair, he exited his room and headed through the dimly lit corridors towards the nearest elevator. All thoughts of the chaarl had fallen from his mind, though he could still feel it warming his digestive system. Those unknown ships could be his way back into the Militia’s good graces, especially if there was advanced technology they could exploit—their energy wave propulsion system for one.

    It didn’t take him long to reach the Bridge, by which time his jacket was on and he had swept back his shoulder-length black hair. As he entered the command deck the men on duty visible stiffened at their stations, he may have failed during their incursion into Federation space but he was still a Major in the Militia, a rank that demanded respect for all subordinates. He bypassed the duty officer and went right over to the scanner operator, a sub-officer whose name he’d never bothered to learn.

    “What’s out there?”

    “Thirty ships of five different configurations, we’re too far to identify energy emissions or run a metallurgical analysis. They aren’t broadcasting any subspace signals however, sir.”

    “Position?” Inahk demanded.

    The sub-officer checked the readouts. “The Argaya Sector, empty space—no systems or spatial phenomena anywhere near them. Vector kahp-three-nine-two sholl-six-nine-four; distance six light-years, sir.”

    “Any sign of Starfleet?”

    Another glance at the display. “None sir.”

    “Helm,” Inahk barked, making the scanner operator jump. “Kahp-three-nine-two sholl-six-nine-four. Maximum warp. Initiate.”

    “Aye sir,” was the prompt response.

    At warp eight it would take them around fifty-five hours to reach the armada, Inahk had to just hope that by the time Starfleet got itself organised and dispatched a ship to investigate, that it would be too late for them to intercept before the Deskott got there. Those ships could tip the balance of power in the region, and he had to be the one to claim that glory for the Republic—he’d be promoted to Colonel, maybe even Fleet Colonel once again, would have power and authority in the Militia once again, then he could celebrate with his son.

    * * * * *​
     
  6. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    The Ocampa have arrived. Now, the question is who can get to them first? If it's the Talarians, without Kes to watch over them, this could quickly become the shortest mass exodus ever.
     
  7. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Kes made the ultimate sacrifice so that her people might not only live but enjoy a peaceful existence.

    Unfortunately, she had no way of knowing about the Talarians.

    As CeJay said, it will be a race to see who can reach the Ocampa first - the militaristic (and rather ticked-off) Talarians or elements of the Third Border Squadron.

    Personally, I'm hoping for a tie. :lol: Good stuff, Bry - looking forward to more!
     
  8. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Who could have guessed the most dangerous part of their journey would take place after they arrived in the Alpha Quadrant? :eek:

    Fantastic storytelling here, Bry, a yarn with heart, as demonstrated by Kes' final gift to her people.
     
  9. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Thanks for the kind words gentlemen, it was always Kes' fate to give her all to get her people away from the danagers of the DQ--a more fitting send off than what she got in the series, IMO :)

    Now, on with the story. Things are heating up and will be coming to a head very soon.

    * * * * *​

    Gymnasium, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
    Routine Patrol, Beloti Sector, Alpha Quadrant

    Susanna Leijten breathed deep, wiping sweat from her brow as she ran at a steady pace. As part of her morning routine she was nearing the end of her five kilometre run, which came after her circuit on the various weights equipment the gym was stocked with. Starfleet had strict fitness requirements that every officer and crewman had to abide by, which included time spent working out in some manner, but for Border Dogs it was even more important—due to the hard physical labour they could often face on assignments—so Leijten had worked out a routine with Doctor Mbeki the first week she’d arrived onboard the Silverfin and stuck to it. Even after eight years onboard she still did the same circuit, which kept her in trim shape—probably better than when she was a cadet (a thought that always made her smirk).

    The running machine she had chosen looked across the mats, where Syva was running her morning martial arts class which was open to all onboard, regardless of department or rank—the morning class was for beginners/intermediates whilst the evening one was for advanced levels. Leijten was constantly astounded by the Vulcan’s stamina, able to run two classes, between which was a full eight-hour shift, outside of which she would work with the beta and gamma shift security guards for additional training, but somehow always managed to looked rested and centred. Before she had met the Chief of the Boat, Leijten had always thought that she pushed herself, but compared to Syva she was a rank amateur.

    As she watched, Petty Officer Edris came to the front and stood opposite Syva. The young Trill was well over thirty centimetres taller and at least twenty-five kilos of muscle heavier than the wiry Vulcan, some may have seen the pairing as a little unfair. Eight seconds into their spar and Edris landed with a resounding thud on the padded deck. Leijten winced for the poor man. She’d been on the receiving end of Syva’s drops, so she knew what it felt like—fortunately she didn’t have quite as much mass as Edris though.

    The running machine beeped, signifying the end of her selected distance, and then started to slow down. She slowed to a walk and let her breathing and heart rate get back to normal. Once it stopped she would head to her quarters, shower and change, then it was off to the ward room for breakfast, before she got to the Bridge.

    “Bridge to Leijten,” called Lieutenant Frixa, the watch officer on duty.

    “Leijten, go ahead.”

    “Sir, you are receiving a priority one transmission from Rear Admiral T’Rona.”

    Leijten stopped the treadmill and hopped off, heading for the exit. “Patch it to my quarters. Anything on sensors?”

    “Nothing sir. All clear as far as we can tell.”

    “Keep an eye on them. Leijten out.”

    Speeding up to a trot, she darted into the nearest turbolift and went down a level. Her quarters were located at the front of deck three, giving her a great view of space, and fortunately the designers had been on the ball when they’d built the Silverfin, as there was a turbolift stop just a few meters from her door. Less than ninety seconds had passed by the time she reached her desktop terminal, on which the Border Service crest was flashing.

    “Computer, open comlink, Leijten-four-two-alpha-tango.”

    Immediately the image of Rear Admiral T’Rona appeared, her appearance immaculate (unlike Leijten who was a little flushed and sweaty) with her customary air of detachment and calm about her that could be both reassuring and unsettling.

    “Admiral?” she said by way of greeting, with a questioning tone. She had served under T’Rona for long enough to know that priority one transmissions always meant something bad was going down, and that the Silverfin was about to be dropped right in the middle of it.

    “Captain Leijten, an hour ago one of our listening posts picked up an energy wave in unclaimed space. Preliminary analysis shows it to be similar to the displacement wave that abducted the starship Voyager. They have since monitored a fleet of thirty ships appearing where the wave dissipated. Using Voyager’s records, they were able to identify several Kazon destroyers, though the profiles of the others are unknown.”

    Since contact had been re-established with the missing starship, currently traversing the Delta Quadrant, their journey had been well covered by both Starfleet and the Federation News Service. She’d only been able to have a quick glance through some of the reports and briefings—they had amassed terraquads of data in just seven years which was broadcast back in burst transmissions when conditions allowed—but she did recall something on the Kazon, enough to know that what they were dealing with could get very bad, very quickly.

    “You are to intercept the fleet, conduct a threat assessment and attempt to make contact. If their intentions are hostile, you are to fall back and await reinforcements. I am sending you the position of the fleet and all the telemetry the outpost has gathered so far. The Silverfin is the closest cutter we have, but you’re still almost sixty hours away. I am also dispatching the Lobo and the Kukui, but they are at least ten hours behind you.”

    “What is the fleet doing?”

    “Nothing so far. They are holding their position, they aren’t making any attempts at communication either. We are at present unable to ascertain their intentions.”

    “Any Talarian interest?”

    “The outpost did detect a frigate leaving its assigned patrol route just after the wave dispersed. It is unclear if they called in reinforcements. They will reach the fleet in fifty-four-point-nine-seven hours.”

    “Understood Admiral. I’ll report in once we intercept.”

    “Good luck, Captain. T’Rona out.”

    The screen reverted to the Border Service logo with a small window displaying the position of the fleet. She quickly routed that information to the conn.

    “Leijten to Bridge. I’ve sent you a new heading. Get us on it, warp nine.”

    “Acknowledged,” Frixa complied promptly.

    “I’ll be up in ten minutes. Leijten out.”

    Taking a moment to let out a long breathe, her mind was already racing. Six months ago the Squadron had taken a thrashing from the Talarians, two cutters destroyed and two others requiring a massive amount of repair work. That incident had seen their numbers swell by five new ships and steeled their resolve, they knew what the Talarians were capable of; but now they had a new threat on the horizon, one that had come all the way from the Delta Quadrant.

    “Leijten to Amorin, can you meet me on the Bridge in ten.”

    “I’ll see you there, Captain,” her XO confirmed without question.

    She headed into the sonic shower for a few short minutes, then stepped out and pulled on a clean uniform. Tying her hair back in a quick braid, she headed out the door and back into the turbolift. When she emerged onto the Bridge, she wasn’t surprised to find Amorin already there standing with Frixa in the middle of the deck talking quietly. The towering Benzenite straightened when he saw her enter and she motioned him over to the MSD at the aft bulkhead, which was unmanned. Before he reached her she brought up the sensor readings the listening outpost had logged.

    “Frixa was saying we’re heading into unclaimed space,” he stated, the question obvious from his gravelly tone.

    “An alien fleet of thirty ships has just appeared out there. Using what records we’ve got it looks like they’ve come from the Delta Quadrant.”

    “I take it we’re not dealing with friendlies.”

    She shook her head. “It doesn’t look like it. We’re to conduct a threat assessment and attempt communication. The Little Cousins also know about them, they have a frigate en route as we speak.”

    “Just the one?” he sounded puzzled and rightly so. A single frigate, even with their new weaponry, wasn’t a match for thirty ships—unless they were doing the same as the Silverfin, investigating the situation for a larger force to deal with.

    “We’re getting backup as well, but they’re ten hours behind us. The problem is even at warp nine we’re still going to get there about five hours after the Talarians.”

    Amorin glanced at the sensor display, which included the last position report of the alien fleet, the frigate and the Silverfin, which clearly showed the cutter was two and half days away. They could get up to warp nine-point-three, but could only sustain that speed for twelve hours (which was even pushing the safety protocols) after which they needed to shut down their warp drive and put the warp coils through a cool down procedure. Even behind the breather mask and goggles that covered much of his face, she could tell Amorin was scowling, the engineer in him trying to work out a way to get more speed out of their warp drive. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to come up with some miraculous solution, as he shook his bulbous head and looked back at her.

    “The best we can hope for is to kick it up to maximum when we’re twelve hours out, then just hope the new coils can take it.”

    It had been the installation of new warp coils and power transfer conduits that had kept the Silverfin from being able to do their part during the Incursion, they had been benched for over two weeks due to the complexity and sheer scale of the work that needed to be done. Now it looked as though they would be putting their new hardware through a proper shakedown.

    Leijten nodded. “Agreed. I’ll start pulling together all the tactical and intelligence information I can on the Kazon, we can start to devise defensive countermeasures if it comes to that. I want you to supervise a full diagnostic of the warp assembly, make sure it can hold up, and then keep an eye on it. We can start running readiness drills once I’ve briefed the rest of the senior staff.”

    Amorin bowed his head. “I’ll go get started now.” With that, he headed for the turbolift.

    Leijten glanced at Lieutenant JG Ngrahthik at ops. “Set up a secure telemetry link with Star Station Freedom and route it to my ready room.”

    “Aye sir,” the young Ktarian complied and set to work.

    “Frixa, the Bridge is yours. Keep me appraised if anything appears on sensors.”

    “I always do, Captain,” the Denobulan said with a faint smile.

    Leijten couldn’t help but smile, despite the situation. She had a good crew, all of who knew just what needed to be done, sometimes even before she issued an order. Heading into her ready room on the starboard side of deck one, she had a lot of work ahead of her, which she wanted to get through before the rest of alpha shift came on in just over an hour.

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
    Neutral Space, Argaya Sector, Alpha Quadrant

    Their journey had been rough, but fortunately damage and casualties were light. Even before they had left Ocampa, it had been decided that once they arrived wherever Kes was sending them, the flotilla would remain together. Though in truth the decision had been forced upon them rather than decided by themselves; there were few who knew how to properly work the ships they were now onboard, and the behemoth transport that was carrying over half their population was limited to impulse—and none of the others could manage a warp tow.

    So the thirty ships sat still in space, waiting. Daggin’s own sense of nervousness was compounded with the feelings of so many others in close proximity, as all those who had been living in the subterranean city for years had never set foot on a space-faring ship, let alone been out among the stars, especially stars that were totally alien to them. He was doing his best to reassure the people, trying to project an air of calm though finding it difficult to maintain for too long. They were all coming to him asking what they would do next, where they would go, and countless other questions that he simply had no answer for.

    All he could do was give them empty platitudes about how everything would be alright, that they would soon find help, and that they would soon be back on a planet that they could call home. But that would only placate them for so long until they wanted something more substantial.

    He had faith in Kes and what she had done for them all...her gift to the Ocampa. A small smile tugged at his lips as he felt his eyes moisten at the memory; the familiar presence in his mind, so much like the girl he had known, but tinged with sadness and loss. Though he hadn’t spoken to Tanis about his last conversation with Kes, Daggin knew that she had given too much to get them away from the dangers of their home region. He knew that she was gone.

    Blinking back tears, he knew that he couldn’t show how he felt with so many others around him. Just prior to their departure, he had been named the transport’s ‘captain’ and so was seated in the middle of the long, narrow bridge. All of the fourteen other chairs were occupied though, aside from two, all those seated were staring out at the blackness of space. The two who were at the sensor and communications stations were from the city station and knew how to operate the controls. They were in contact with the rest of the flotilla, getting status reports and updates from each ship, whilst also watching to see if there was anyone approaching their position. Fortunately all was quiet.

    Daggin could only wonder how long that would remain so.

    He was so engrossed in his own thoughts he never heard the entry hatch open or the soft footfalls of someone approach. It was only when he sensed the welcome presence did he glance back and see Linnis walking towards him. Her eyes were fixed on the large windows that sloped upwards and above his head. He couldn’t help but notice how they picked up all the tiny points of starlight.

    “It’s breathtaking,” she gasped when she stopped next to him.

    Still looking at her soft face, he agreed, “Most certainly.”

    She glanced at him and smiled softly, before blushing and looking away coyly. He looked away as well, feeling guilty. She was young, with her whole life ahead of her—possibly far longer than just nine years if Tanis’ people began utilising their technology on the other Ocampa—and he was old enough to be her grandfather.

    When she rested a hand on his forearm he felt his heart skip a beat and looked at it for a moment, before following up her arm, to her shoulder and then to her face. Her expression had hardened slightly, her expression worried and her eyes pleading.

    *Daggin,* she sent telepathically, *are we safe here?*

    *I wish I knew, Linnis,* he admitted—he didn’t want to lie to her. *I hope so.*

    She held his look for a moment, then glanced back out the windows, though her look was no longer one of awe but of trepidation—a feeling he shared and more.

    * * * * *​
     
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    There are so many ways this could go wrong. Starfleet and the Border Service have no way of knowing that the Kazon ships are filled with peaceful Ocampa. And while the Silverfin and her crew will proceed cautiously, the Tallarians are more apt to shoot first and ask questions later.

    Here's hoping they can coax a bit more speed out of Silverfin's new warp coils!
     
  11. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Chapter Seven


    Ward Room, U.S.S. Silverfin
    En Route to Armada, Beloti Sector

    With the stakes high and the situation unknown, the air in the ward room was tense—Kolanis Daezan didn’t need his telepathic abilities to know that. In his two years onboard the Albacore-Class cutter, he had experienced his fare share of tough assignments and near-impossible jobs, but they had always managed to pull through (and not always by the skin of their teeth). This however was a potential threat from the other side of the galaxy.

    After they had come on shift, Captain Leijten had briefed the senior staff on the current situation and told to start reading up on all the reports that she’d downloaded from Freedom, whilst she went on the intercom and informed the rest of the crew as to their new assignment. From that moment on, everyone onboard tensed up. Daezan knew that there weren’t many Betazoids in the Border Service, simply because of the strong emotions they would face on a regular basis—it was a lot to deal with and those who served in the Border Service didn’t stay for very long, so he was something of an oddity in the statistics (which suited him just fine).

    The crew were now doubling their efforts to prep the ship, whilst the rumour mill was going at warp fourteen. The department heads, meanwhile, had been called into a meeting to address the situation and begin strategising. Looking around the table, he made sure to keep his telepathic abilities under strict control, the last thing his friends and comrades needed was him peeking in on their innermost thoughts and feelings.

    Leijten was at the head of the table, a look of concern on her face whilst Amorin next to her was unreadable as always (though somehow he was lousy at the weekly poker game). Ling-Na was in her element, just by looking at her he knew she was going through a dozen different tactical scenarios in her head at one time. Mbeki looked pensive and thoughtful, stroking his goatee as he sat quietly. Th’Shaan’s mind would definitely be set more on the Silverfin than what they were meeting to discuss; obviously he was worried about his engines being up to the demands being placed on them. Llewellyn-Smyth was always a tough one to call; she could appear reserved, but was bristling with anticipation just under the surface. As hard as English Rose was, Master Chief Syva was impossible; her Vulcan detachment and control was the stuff of legends onboard.

    “What’s our present status?” Leijten asked, calling the meeting to order.

    “Starfleet Intelligence has granted us direct access to the telemetry from the listening post,” Daezan began. “We’re getting all of their scans and readings in real time, though combining that with our own data hasn’t done much to provide us any more answers. The ships are still just sitting there; none of them have attempted to move.”

    “The crews could have been overcome by some kind of energy field of pathogen,” Mbeki theorised. “Which of course provides a whole new set of problems; we could be facing a disease that no one in the Alpha Quadrant has ever seen before.”

    “Doc, prep for full biohazard containment, just in case,” ordered Leijten. “I’ve requested all the medical logs that the Voyager has compiled; they should be with you shortly.”

    “We are fifty-seven hours thirty-two minutes away, sir,” Llewellyn-Smyth stated in her Cambridgeshire accent and perfect elocution. “At present speeds, the Talarians however will get there five-point-four hours before we do.”

    Everyone looked towards th’Shaan before Leijten posed the question they were all thinking. “Can we get there any faster, Elak?”

    “With the Commander’s help,” he said, his antennae pointing at Amorin, “we’re completed a full diagnostic of the propulsion systems. We can’t go to maximum for fifty-something hours, even out new coils couldn’t handle that. The best thing I could suggest would be to punch it up to nine-point-three when we’re ten hours out from the armada, that extra jolt of speed would shave some time off of our ETA.”

    “I thought that we could maintain our maximum warp for twelve hours,” Daezan asked—he had passed warp mechanics, but it wasn’t something he kept up on.

    “Under normal conditions we can, but this would be asking for maximum warp after two days at warp nine—the system is going to be under strain as it is. I will try and eke out a little more, but I can’t rewrite the laws of warp physics.”

    Daezan nodded in understanding. He knew the young Andorian would be doing everything he could and didn’t envy him the task ahead. Th’Shaan and his staff had to get the ship to where it was needed, without burning out their warp drive and ensuring that every system was fighting fit as well—a lot of work for anyone to stay on top of.

    “For what I’ve read so far in the Voyager logs,” Ling-Na interjected, “the Kazon are little more than thugs, however they have access to heavily armed ships. Just one of their large destroyers would be more than the Silverfin could handle. They’re bigger than a D’deridex-Class Warbird, outfitted with over sixty distruptor banks and have a crew of between fifteen hundred and two thousand. Their shielding isn’t great, around a quarter of a Galaxy-Classes output, so we have the edge there. Their warp drive is also slower than ours, it looks like at warp eight we’d be able to outrun them, and of course we have the advantage with manoeuvrability.

    “If this erupts into a fire-fight, we can keep them off balance for a while and maybe get in a few good hits, but we won’t hold out for long against eight of them—not to mention what the capabilities of those other ships are.”

    Leijten listened intently to the tactician’s assessment. Once Ling-Na was done, she leaned forward on the table. “Hopefully it won’t come to that, this is a recon mission. We are to assess the fleet and then await reinforcements. My main concern is that Talarian frigate that’s on an intercept course. They may attempt to establish a diplomatic overture—from what I’ve read on the Kazon, they too are a male-driven society. The last thing the Republic needs is more alien technology.”

    “Even with their new weaponry, we can handle a frigate, sir,” stated Ling-Na confidently.

    “Talarians are like Tribbles, where you have one you’ll soon have a dozen,” Daezan quipped.

    The only reason the Talarian Militia had proven to be a threat in the past (before the Incursion) was their sheer numbers, where Starfleet had one ship the Talarians had anywhere between five and ten. They may not have been strong, but enough hits and even Starfleet shielding couldn’t hold out indefinitely—it was like being pecked to death by ducks, it wasn’t quick but it would happen eventually. Then of course were the dah’je, ships sent out on suicide runs, whose crews were hell bent on completing the mission.

    He noticed Leijten smirk slightly. “That they are, Kolanis. I’ll need you to monitor the border as much as the fleet; I don’t want to find us with Kazon on one side and Talarians on the other.”

    “I’ve already got my sensor crews on it, Skipper.”

    Leijten gave him a nod and then looked at the senior non-com, who had so far been quiet. “Master Chief, what’s your assessment?”

    As the officers in the room turned to the COB, she remained quiet a moment longer, fingers pressed together, her expression passively neutral. Syva was a woman of great experience and knowledge who, despite being the lowest ranked in the room, held the respect and admiration of all those present.

    “My observations are as such, Captain. We can approximate how these ships arrived, though we must ask why are they here? What events in the Delta Quadrant has led to the Kazon and four other species to travel seventy thousand light-years—especially when the logs of the Voyager crew shows considerable hostilities between most of the species in that region of space?”

    “Perhaps some kind of catastrophe has occurred that forced them to work together,” Mbeki suggested.

    “A possibility, even the most adversarial of neighbours can work together against a common threat. So far, all of our precautions have been for facing an invasion force, however their actions since arrival would seem to disprove that. I would suggest that we approach with no preconceptions, otherwise we may cause hostilities where none exist.”

    “Very well put, Master Chief. We should try to stay as open and loose as possible, something about this whole situation just seems off.”

    “Captain,” Llewellyn-Smyth spoke up.

    “Yes Harriet?

    “I’ve been taking a closer look at the sensor readings of the fleet and comparing what we’re seeing with what Voyager has encountered. Though there are no direct matches in their database, they have included metallurgical and compositional analyses of ship’s they’ve made contact with. Comparing those results with our telemetry and it looks like Voyager has encountered two of those species before. Six ships appear to belong to the Talaxians, a species they have had peaceful and constructive relations with—in fact they have a Talaxian onboard. Another six are of Vidiian origin. When Voyager encountered them, the Vidiians were suffering from a disease called the Phage, which destroyed their cellular structure and body tissues—this led them to aggressive secure replacement tissue from other races.”

    “I take it these ‘donors’ didn’t willingly part with their organs,” Ling-Na stated.

    “No. It appears they would regularly target other ships, use the crews as slave labour and then harvest material when it was needed. There was a notation in one of the logs, staying that the Phage had been cured—though there was no corroborating evidence.”

    “Thank you, Harriet, very impressive work,” Leijten said with a supportive smile at the helmswoman.

    “Thank you, Captain.”

    Leijten looked around at the others. “We’ve now got two other avenues of research to pursue; I suggest you read up as much as you can. We’ll start running readiness drills to cover as many different scenarios as possible, make sure that all your staffs are ready for any eventuality.

    “Questions? Comment?” There were none. “Amorin, I’ve got a few more points to discuss with you, everyone else is dismissed.”

    The crew quickly filed out of the ward room and then split into two groups. Mbeki, th’Shaan and Syva headed for a turbolift that would give them fasted access to the decks below, whilst Ling-Na, Daezan and Llewellyn-Smyth made their way to another and headed for the Bridge. In the privacy of the turbolift carriage, he and Ling-Na shared a look and then turned it towards the Lieutenant.

    “Someone’s aiming for promotion,” Ling-Na commented, a grin barely contained on her face.

    “What?” Llewellyn-Smyth asked defensively. “Once a course is locked into the navcomp, there is only so much monitoring of heading and speed I can do, and I wanted to be helpful.”

    “Sure you did,” he said, sound unconvinced whilst privately admiring her initiative—with all his attention on sensors and keeping a close tab on several different things at once, he’d never had the chance to do any full analysis of the ships.

    “If I didn’t know better, I’d say English Rose was trying to show us up,” added Ling-Na, who was failing to maintain her stern look.

    “I would never dream of doing such a thing to such a thing to my superiors, sir.”

    Daezan chuckled and then threw his arm around Llewellyn-Smyth’s shoulders. “That’s one of the great things about you, Harriet. You always know when to bail us lieutenant commander’s out.”

    “Here to help,” she replied just as the turbolift stopped on deck one. Daezan removed his arm and headed out the door, never noticing the look the two women shared or the fact that the colour of Llewellyn-Smyth’s face now matched that of her uniform collar.

    * * * * *​
     
  12. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Map Room, Frigate Deskott
    En Route to Armada, Argaya Sector

    The map room was located just behind the bridge, so as to give provide the Major with quick and precise data whenever needed for strategizing. It was Sub-Lieutenant Sami Taneth’s job to ensure that all sensor data gathered was produced in quickly and concisely, a lot of responsibility for a young man—but he wasn’t about to buckle under the pressure, he took great pride in his work. If he focused on the sensor data that came through from every array on the frigate, the reports submitted by the sensor analysts and operators, it was a lot for him to work on—almost enough for him to lose himself in. There were brief moments when it worked and he forgot about Yahn for a few moments, sometimes even as long as five minutes, but it would never last and Yahn’s handsome face would once again spring into his mind, his piercing green eyes, night-black hair, neatly trimmed beard that accentuated his strong jawline.

    Hearing the door open behind him, Taneth shook the forbidden thoughts from his mind and turned to see who had entered. He was surprised and unsettled to see Major Inahk stride in, his face set hard. For the briefest of moments he was worried that his Commanding Officer knew of the secret passion within him, but knew otherwise when Inahk tossed a tablet onto the map table. Taneth had sent him the results of their latest scans, which showed a Starfleet ship on a direct course with the alien fleet.

    “How accurate is that?” Inahk demanded.

    “All scans show the same, Major. A Starfleet Albacore-Class ship is heading for the armada; however they are several hours behind us—”

    “It doesn’t matter if they are several days behind us, Sub-Lieutenant, I’ve been told by many astrocartographer’s that this region of space was beyond the range of their sensor buoy’s. How then is it that they knew about this fleet at almost the same time we did?”

    “Either they have vastly improved their sensors or they have a spy station in the vicinity, sir. They shouldn’t have been able to detect—” a chirp from the map table cut him off. “One moment, Major.”

    He turned away from the Major, but could feel Inahk’s cold eyes burrowing into the back of his skull as he addressed the updated readings. What he saw knotted his stomach, as he knew Inahk wouldn’t like what he had to say.

    “Sir, we are also detecting two other Starfleet ships shadowing the first. They are ten hours behind the Albacore.”

    Inahk moved to the side of the table and looked at the graphical representation of their sensor readings. He scowled at the two other ships. “Types?”

    Taneth glanced at the readouts. “One is Griffin-Class, though the other isn’t in our databanks. It might be the newest class of border patrol ship they have dispatched to the region.” He had heard about the new class, smaller than most others on the border, though very fast and reportedly well-armed. There hadn’t been any involved in their latest invasion into Federation space and all the reports they had were more rumour than hard fact.

    The Major growled with anger then shot him an icy look. “What reinforcements do we have available?”

    Entering a quick sequence into the keypad, the star map shifted to show the position of the closest Militia ships. “The frigate Nalqa and two corvettes are within sixty hours of the unknown fleet, sir.”

    He could see that Inahk hated the idea of calling in reinforcements; no doubt he wanted to use this situation to carry some favour with Militia Command after his invasion plans had failed. Taneth would never question the Major’s orders, though he had wondered what a single frigate could hope to accomplish against thirty unknown ships. Now with Starfleet heading towards them they would need support to hold their ground. The Nalqa would reach the fleet eight hours after the Deskott, but just three hours after the first Starfleet ship arrived on scene which would give them tactical superiority.

    Of course as an experienced combat officer, Inahk would be weighing up all that information. Taneth remained quiet and focused intently on the display, which showed the progression of the Deskott and the three Starfleet ships, whilst displaying the latest readings on the alien fleet—so far he’d been able to identify five distinct ship designs, so different from one another he could only assume they were all from different species.

    “Sub-Lieutenant,” Inahk snapped, starling Taneth, “prepare to transmit the position reports of the fleet and the Starfleet ships, do not include any in depth readings of the alien ships—I will still claim the glory for this.”

    “Yes Major,” Taneth responded promptly, even though Inahk was already heading onto the bridge to open up the comlink.

    Taneth prepared the information requested and sent it through to communications, then breathed a sigh of relief when he was alone once again. Despite the damaged reputation of Major Inahk, he was still an intimidating man. Taneth could only imagine what he would do if he discovered he’d just had a conversation with a ‘deviant’, and just how Inahk would choose to put him to death. He shuddered at the thought and tried to push it from his mind. After they were finished with this tour of duty, he had decided to request reassignment so that he wouldn’t have to deal with Inahk again.

    * * * * *​

    Medical Centre, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
    Neutral Space, Argaya Sector
    Stardate: 54617.7 (August 14th, 2377)

    Their first day in a new region of space had been long and drawn out, tension and fear the dominant feelings among all those who were aboard, as all of them—from both the city and the station—had no idea what to expect. But all had been quiet.

    Linnis found the stillness to be a little unsettling. She had been told that space was vast and mostly empty, so had anyone picked up their convoy then it could take days or even weeks to reach them. Still, she would have liked to have heard from Daggin that someone was approaching or even attempting communications—something so that they weren’t quite so alone.

    With their sensors clear and no immediate threat apparent, Daggin and the other leaders had decided to start some sort of routine, something that the people could focus on other than their own trepidation and anxiety. Tanis and his people had offered to begin preparing the other Ocampa for their specialist treatments, which would see their lifespans drastically increased. There were those who were wary of such an offer and worried about undergoing something so radical. If there was one thing that could be said about most Ocampa, they were frightened of change.

    Not willing to sit around any longer and worry about what may or may not come, she had volunteered for the first group. When she had entered the medical bay, she wasn’t surprised to see it the same smooth chrome as was present throughout the rest of the ship. There were a long line of beds in the main ward, as well as many pieces of equipment the medics were still trying to discern. She had been greeted by a nurse and asked to follow him, then led on a grand tour through the extensive facility, passing specialist diagnostic rooms, surgical suites and also a room filled with empty cylindrical tanks—all of which she paused to look at. The nurse stopped as well, giving her time to look at all the foreign technology built by her ancestors, realising that had it not been for the Warming then her people would most likely have been out in deep space long ago.

    The nurse led her into a diagnostic room with a dais in the middle and several terminals arranged around it, facing the circular ledge. In the room were two others, Tanis stood at one console connecting up a piece of technology that obviously hadn’t come from the ship, it was darker in colour and not quite as flawless in its finish. The other was a physician from the city, a mousy-haired woman with kind eyes.

    “Hello, I am Doctor Navi and this is Administrator Tanis,” she stated, her soft voice almost lost in the room.

    “Linnis,” she said by way of introduction.

    Tanis looked up and gave her a small smile. She had met him several times, whenever she was either with or looking for Daggin. At first she had found him to be distant and a little cool, but he’d changed considerably in a short space of time.

    “Hello Linnis. Why am I not surprised to see you here?”

    She returned his smile. “I’m just that kind of person. I can’t let my fears and doubts hold me back.”

    “Glad to hear it. I’m just getting finished up here, give me a moment.”

    Navi appeared by her side. “Would you please step up onto the scanner platform,” the physician directed.

    Linnis followed her instructions and took her place on the dais, looking around the room a little more but nothing stood out to her. She would have to learn more about the ship, she decided, how it worked and what all the technology onboard did—this could very well be her home for quite some time, so she needed to make herself useful.

    Tanis finished integrating his hardware and then stepped over to the scanner. Being on the low pedestal put Linnis are eye-level with the station leader.

    “Now Linnis, we are going to conducting a series of biometric scans of you. They are needed in order to adjust our treatments to your individual physiology; some say they feel a slight warming of their bodies though others have no sensation whatsoever. Doctor Navi will be monitoring your current status, so that you aren’t under any undue stress.

    “Do you have any questions?”

    She shook her head. “No.”

    “Good. Now just relax and breathe normally. This will take several minutes to complete.”

    Tanis returned to his console and Navi stepped to one on the opposite side of the room. Linnis couldn’t help feel a little silly, all the fuss being taken over her. Just before he activated the scan, Tanis looked up at Navi and then at her.

    “Initiating scan.”

    There was a faint hum and the dais lit up with a blue hue as the sensors came to life. She didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary as she stood there. The two operating the controls were engrossed in what they were looking at.

    “Just a few routine questions,” Tanis stated. “You are one and a half years old, correct?”

    “Yes.”

    “Any ailments in that time?”

    “No, nothing.”

    “What of your parents?”

    Linnis felt a pang of sadness, but kept her voice even as she answered, “I never knew my father and my mother…she died a few days after I was born, due to birthing complications.”

    Tanis looked up at her, a hint of sympathy on his angular face. “I am sorry to ask, Linnis, it is just part of the process.”

    She gave him a nod. “I understand.”

    He gave her a few moments to compose herself before continuing with his questions, ranging from her diet to how she’d felt since she’d been in space. She’d answered truthfully, from how her diet was simple but fulfilling (though bland) and that she had felt just fine since leaving the surface of Ocampa. The entire process took around five minutes to complete, then the scanner was deactivated and the room went quiet once more.

    “Thank you, Linnis. You may step down now,” he instructed.

    “Do I check out?” she asked, stepping off the scanner.

    “Most definitely, you are in extraordinary shape,” he told her sounding a little impressed.

    “I’ll call for someone to show you out,” said Navi before stepping out of the room.

    “May I ask, Linnis,” Tanis began, “since you are old enough to decide what to do with your life, what vocation do you see yourself going into?”

    The question made her pause and think. Of course she had had lots of ideas about what she wanted to do, but had yet to truly decide. There was one thing she had always been sure of.

    “I want to help others,” she told him.

    “A selfless ambition,” he said with a smile. “If you would like, I could ask if the medical centre could use another assistant—they are likely to be very busy in the immediate future.”

    “I would like that. I need to feel useful onboard this ship.”

    He gave her a nod. “I’ll see what I can do.”

    Navi returned with the same nurse who had shown Linnis in. “Basen will escort you out.”

    “Thank you.”

    * * * * *​
     
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Well the tension is racked up all the way to eleven here as we anxiously await first contact with the refugee fleet. Right now it looks as if the Talarians have the upper hand and will get there first. This could spell disaster for the Ocampa sitting duck.

    Silverfin is well prepared but if they can't get there in time it will be all for nothing.
     
  14. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Engine Room, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
    En Route to Armada, Argaya Sector

    Elak ko’Parr th’Shaan stood on the balcony that overlooked the main floor of the Engine Room, his eyes closed, ears and antennae perked. He had learned long ago that the warp core on the Silverfin had distinctive vibrations, whether everything was running smooth, underperforming, or being taxed beyond her limits. Whenever too much was being asked of his engines, he would always pause and listen whenever the opportunity arose—just to make sure things were as they should be. For now the core was purring like a Cercassian kitten, but he knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

    “Everything alright, Lieutenant?” Chief Pazai asked.

    He opened his eyes and glanced round at the Denobulan diagnostics specialist. She was one of the few who knew of his ritual and although she preferred a more technical approach, she would always run whatever check he wanted on the system—just to be on the safe side.

    Chuckling sheepishly, he scratched the back of his head and looked back at the pulsing core. “Yeah, everything seems fine so far.”

    “Just to be sure, I’ve scheduled periodic diagnostic scans to be carried out on each shift.”

    He looked back at her. “Thanks Chief. Hopefully we’re just being overly cautious.”

    “I couldn’t agree with you more, Lieutenant, though a healthy dose of paranoia is good for one’s constitution.”

    “I’ll need to remember that,” he said, studying the core for a moment longer, before turning back to the MSD she stood at. “How’s everything else looking?”

    “The impulse and environmental crews have reported in that everything is running smoothly. The last diagnostics of computer, communication and sensor systems check out. Shields and weapons at full readiness,” Pazai ran through the ship systems and he was pleased to hear everything was at optimum efficiency.

    He glanced over the display and then noticed a little orange dot where there shouldn’t be. Stepping closer, he tapped on it. “What’s this?”

    “A glitch in EPS juncture gamma-eighteen-K. It’s still within spec, just running a little slower than usual.”

    Th’Shaan stroked his chin as he looked at it. Gamma-18-K was linked to the power transfer grid, notably the section of the grid that cross-connected secondary and emergency power. Looking at the readouts, it was still well within the engineering regulations for Albacore-Class ships, though he had his own set of standards and it didn’t quite measure up. Considering what they were about to face, he wanted every system at one-hundred percent.

    “It’s a quick swap out, an hour tops,” he muttered, more to himself than Pazai. “I’ll go deal with it.” Over the railings he yelled, “Blackwolf!”

    “Yeah?” came the instant reply.

    “Grab your kit, an EPS juncture tap and handful of J20 chips.”

    “You got it.”

    Smiling to himself he looked back at Pazai. “Engineering is yours, Chief. I’ll be on the comm if anything crops up.”

    “Sure thing, Lieutenant.”

    His staff had long since come to terms with his high standards—many of them had served under Amorin when he’d been the Chief Engineer—so it wasn’t a surprise for him to go off and do whatever work needed to be done himself. Th’Shaan was generally pretty easy going, having a good relationship with each and every engineer and specialist under his command, and was always willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when it came to their area of specialty, that was so long as they pulled their weight when the time came—which they always did.

    Leaving the upper level, he slid down the ladder and found Claudia Blackwolf prepped and ready. She handed him a repair kit, on which “th’Shaan” had been engraved on the handle (something Amorin had done on th’Shaan’s third day onboard the Silverfin). He’d chosen the young crewman as she was knew EPS systems like no one else he had met, so she would most likely pick up on whatever the problem was before he’d even set the panel on the deck plating.

    Leading the way through deck seven, he explained the glitch he’d noticed, to which she’d simply replied, “Hmm,” as she mused over the possible causes and remedies. Reaching the appropriate Jefferies tube access, he opened it up and climbed inside, Blackwolf close behind him. They progressed at a steady pace, climbing and crawling in silence—which th’Shaan had noticed since the ship had altered course—until they reached the juncture box and came to a stop.

    As th’Shaan pulled the tricorder from his belt and ran a quick scan, Blackwolf opened up her kit and took out the sonic screwdriver they’d need to open up the metal casing. His scans showed no energy surges or radiation leaks, so flipped the scanner closed and set it on the grating next to him, before holding out a hand for the tool. Blackwolf handed it to him and in under a minute he had the panel off and was setting it on the deck. When he turned back to hand the tool to the crewman he found her sitting, staring at the open EPS tap but not seeing it. He could tell that her mind was light-years away.

    “Claudia, you alright?” he asked softly, his voice still echoing though the tube.

    She blinked and looked at him, unaware that she’d spaced out. “Huh?”

    “Are you okay? Usually by now you’ve located the problem and are half buried inside the panel getting it sorted.”

    “Sorry Lieutenant. I was just thinking about the Captain’s announcement, about what we’re being sent out to deal with this time.” She paused for a moment, thinking again. “It sounds big, I mean like really big.”

    He couldn’t help but nod and agree with the young woman, though he had been trying not to think about what was ahead of them, instead he wanted to give his all to prepping the ship—which was part of the reason he’d decided to tackle such a small problem himself.

    “Is it as bad as people are saying?”

    “What are they saying?”

    “You know how things like this go, th’Shaan. I’ve heard everything from a fleet of exploding or plague-infested ships, to a secret pact between the Kazon and the Talarians, to the vanguard of an invasion force. People are letting their imaginations run riot.”

    He chuckled humourlessly. Having been on the Silverfin for six years, he knew how scuttlebutt started and spread, how there were those who made it so fantastic and unreal that others believed that it had to be true. He also knew—as did most others—that ninety-nine percent of the time it was just nonsense made up to prepare themselves for the worst case scenario. However there was always that one percent that would come back and bite them in the ass.

    Looking her straight in the eye, he told her honestly, “We don’t know what’s out there, or just what we’ll face. All we can do is prepare for the worst—”

    “And hope for the best,” she finished for him (a human saying he’d heard in his first week at the Academy and had become his personal mission statement). She smiled to herself. “I should know better.”

    “If you weren’t nervous, Claudia, I’d think there was something wrong with you—even Syva seems a little overly-cautious.”

    She whistled is surprise, which reverberated throughout the metal tube they sat in. “If the Master Chief is feeling it, then things must be bad.”

    “So let’s make sure everything is shipshape, then that way all we have to focus on is external forces and whatever they decide to do.”

    Her response was to open up her tricorder and start to crawl into the open panel, looking for the minor irregularity. Th’Shaan opened up his toolkit took out his hyperspanner and micro-callipers, and waited for her to hold out her hand.


    * * * * *​


    Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
    Neutral Space, Argaya Sector

    Daggin liked the bridge of the Ocampan ship, its flawless finished shimmered in the light, whilst its layout felt organic, with the design of the consoles flowing into one another. It had also proven remarkably easy for those onboard to operate, the ancient Ocampan it was written in easily translated into modern script, whilst the interface panels themselves responded with the lightest of touches in an almost symbiotic manner—he couldn’t say with certainty but it felt to him as though they responded on an almost psychic level. Due to how easy the ship was to operate, Ocampa from both the station and the city were able to work the controls, which had gone a long way to help the two sides integrate.

    He smiled to himself, thinking how that was just what Kes would’ve wanted. Not for the first time he couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to his old friend. He had seen with his own eyes how using her advanced abilities took their toll on her, so after sending so many across the galaxy what would that have done to her? Would she have survived it? Or was it a step too far and she had died giving the Ocampa a new start? He doubt he would ever know the truth, but could only hope that wherever she was, whatever had happened to her, she had found some measure of peace.

    Blinking back tears, he kept his emotional guard up, not wanting those near him to sense his grief—some were already mourning friends and family who had opted to remain on the homeworld, he didn’t need to add to it. He would deal with his feelings after the convoy was safe and he had some privacy, until then however he needed to focus on the present and future of his people.

    Daggin felt an unfamiliar and unpleasant prickle on the back of his neck, as though cold fingers were just millimetres from his skin. Before he could focus on the sensation to identify it Tula, the woman at the sensor console, turned towards him.

    “Daggin, our sensors have just detected something coming into range.”

    He moved closer to the station and looked at the display, which showed a single dot on the edge of the screen. By no means an expert, it was clear to him that the object was moving towards them; it was a ship.

    Jeneth at communications next to Tula looked at them. “The other ships are signalling, they’ve spotted a ship and are asking for instructions.”

    Slowly everyone on the bridge turned to look at him expectantly. He had known that they would eventually be noticed, he’d just hoped they’d had more time. In a foreign region of space they had no way of knowing just who it was, or if they would be friendly or not.

    “When will they reach us?” he asked, trying to keep his voice steady and calm.

    “Forty-five hours, present speed.”

    “Continue to monitor their progress. Put the convoy on alert and call together all the representatives, we’ll need to decide how to proceed.”

    Tula and Jeneth confirmed and set to work, whilst the others looked among themselves and back at him—all of them with questions on their worried faces. He beat a hasty retreat, not wanting to be left alone to make such an important decision, as it wasn’t his alone to make. This would be their first contact with the natives of this new and unknown region, they had to decide how to proceed, as well as fortify themselves to take action if it proved to be a hostile encounter—not something his people had ever had to do before.

    Kes, I could’ve used your guidance now.


    * * * * *​
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Terrific character interplay between th’Shaan and Blackwolf, underscoring the crew's tension with the uncertainties of their assignment.

    And it's obvious the emotional toll on Daggin and the other refugees is enormous, and they've only just arrived in the AQ! The worst, I fear, is yet to come for them. :eek:
     
  16. s543

    s543 Cadet Newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2014
    Great story.
    You plan to continue or this is it ?
     
  17. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    It shall be continued. Unfortunately its refusing to write itself, though I've been trying to push through this little blockage and get it going again.

    Stay tuned.
     
  18. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Keep up the great work. No matter which period of the timeline it is, I always enjoy reading your work. You'll get it done when you can. If you have to, move onto something else and come back to it later. The Crisis will still be there when you get back.

    :bolian::bolian::bolian::bolian:
     
  19. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Chapter Eight


    Bridge, U.S.S. Silverfin
    En Route to Armada, Beloti Sector
    Stardate: (August 15th, 2377)
    ETA to Fleet: 10.05 hours

    Frixa continually glanced at the chronometer above the viewscreen. In the watch report she’d been handed by Lieutenant Sholi (her equivalent on beta shift) had been a set of orders from the Captain. At 0400 hours she was to increase their speed from warp nine to nine-point-three, the increase would shave off some time from their ETA at the alien fleet, so as the minutes ticked steadily closer she could feel her stomach clench tighter.

    Three minutes to go, she told herself. From the corner of her eye, she caught Ngrahthik look up from the multiple sensor feeds he was studying to glance at the chronometer as well.

    She tapped the companel on the armrest. “Bridge to engineering.”

    “Engineering, Jeyn here,” replied the officer-in-charge.

    “How’re things looking down there, Tiris?” she asked, trying to keep her voice sounding calm—even though she didn’t feel it, all of the crew was aware of what they could be facing once they reached the fleet.

    “Everything is looking good, the new coils are holding up better than I expected. We’ll be ready when you give the order.”

    The Denobulan smiled to herself. “Stand by then. Frixa out.”

    With that she rose to her feet and stepped down to the curved flight control console, where Ensign T’Nuri looked up at her. The chronometer ticked to 0400. She clasped her hands behind her back and nodded at the Vulcan. “Ensign, take us maximum warp.”

    “Aye sir.”

    Frixa watched as T’Nuri increased the warp plasma flow which gave the Silverfin the extra boost in speed. The three points of a warp factor may not have seemed like much, but it would make a difference. She stayed where she was for a few moments, as T’Nuri ran a quick level five diagnostic to ensure that everything was stable. Satisfied that the warp assembly was functioning as it should, Frixa turned her back to the viewscreen and returned to the command chair.

    Perching herself on the edge of the seat she picked up the duty PADD and tapped the display. “Gamma shift watch log, supplemental. We have increased to maximum warp. Warp drive is operating at optimum. ETA with the alien fleet is in ten hours.”


    * * * * *​


    Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
    Neutral Space, Argaya Sector
    U.S.S. Silverfin ETA: 4.6 hours

    Tanis stood in the middle of the bridge, just before the commander’s chair, Daggin standing to his left and Yun (his former security advisor) to his right. Following the leadership conference, it had been agreed to have the convoy represented by a single voice, a position he had found himself thrust into. It was a daunting position to be given, to be the envoy of thousands—the majority of whom he had never met—which was why he had asked for Daggin to be beside him, so as to better understand the views of the other Ocampa, whilst Yun’s role was fairly self explanatory.

    The alien ship would be on them soon. They would have to learn all they could of the inhabitants of the region they found themselves in, if they would help the convoy, or if the Ocampa had left one hostile sector for another.

    Kes had been utterly devoted to her people, her final actions was proof enough of that, however he also suspected that she wouldn’t be able to determine precisely where they convoy would wind up—only that it would be somewhere far away from the aggression of the Kazon and the tyranny of the Vidiians. But now, in a foreign quadrant, facing an unknown, potentially hostile, race, he found himself missing the assurance that familiarity brought.

    Yun stepped forward slightly. In a race of strong telepaths, there were always a few who rose above the rest, and she was one such individual. He stayed quiet and tried to keep his thoughts quiet, so as to not add to the burden she was already facing, trying to quieten the thoughts and feelings of thousands of frightened and apprehensive Ocampa. Daggin watched her closely whilst Tanis focused on the monitor that displayed the approaching ship.

    “We have a problem, Tanis,” Yun stated succinctly—she was always a woman of few words. “I’m sensing great hostility and aggression; very dominant and oppressive.”

    “So they’re not here to help us.”

    “There is also a hint of desperation, as though they are seeking to take advantage of the situation before someone else.”

    Daggin looked between the both of them. “But it’s just one ship; that surely can’t be a threat to the convoy.”

    “For all we know, this could be the vanguard of their main force. In a few hours there could be dozens of attack ships surrounding us. Aside from the Kazon destroyers, the rest are unarmed. We can keep all the main systems running, but we’re in no position to go into battle.”

    “They don’t know that,” Yun said, looking back at them. “Right now, we appear to have the advantage. If we make them believe that then we can at least bide ourselves more time.”

    Tanis mused on the matter for mere moments—now was the time for decisive action. “Alright. Have all ships generate a dampening field through their hulls; that should hide our lack of weapons, numbers and power emissions. Then find out which three of the Kazon ships have the best grasp of their weapons array, and have them move into flanking position around us, make it look as though they are ready to attack at a moment’s notice. We want to use them as a bluff, but in case that ship decides to test us we need to be ready and at least show force—even if we can’t back it up.”

    Yun gave a single nod and moved over to the communications terminal to begin relaying the orders. Tanis had had dealings with other races, but all ones he knew of—until his encounter with the crew of Voyager—now, here, in this strange place, he didn’t know if what he was doing would keep them at bay or force them to attack the convoy.

    He would just need to wait and see what would happen.


    * * * * *​


    Bridge, Frigate Deskott
    Approaching Armada, Argaya Sector
    U.S.S. Silverfin ETA: 3.9 hours

    The starboard monitor showed the Deskott was battle-ready, her shields raised, weapons energised, missiles loaded, whilst the port monitor showed they were fast approaching the alien armada. Every muscle in Inahk’s body was tensed and ready to react after Officer Rohan reported that the fleet had assumed an attack formation.

    “Major, we are on final approach,” stated Lieutenant Jaren at the helm.

    “Slow us to sublight, Lieutenant,” he commanded.

    “Weapons, stand ready,” ordered Commander Othon from where he stood on Inahk’s left.

    “Aye sir,” was Sub-Lieutenant Varah’s prompt reply.

    The frigate slowed and maintained her course. Inahk had expected them to be fired upon as soon as they were in range, but their approach towards the thirty unknown ships went without incident. Whoever crewed those ships were clearly curious about the Deskott and the men aboard, which suited him—he could find a way to secure their co-operation before the Border Service and the other Militia vessels arrived.

    They came to a stop, close enough to be able to use their main disruptors, but still far enough away so they could respond to any weapons fire from the armada. But none of the thirty ships made an attempt to hail the frigate, which made him the one to take charge.

    His eyes were drawn to the largest ship of the armada, which was long and silver, shaped like a raka cigar. By the way it was flanked by three other behemoths, it was clearly the command ship.

    “Open a channel.”

    “Channel open, sir,” replied Officer Saroh.

    “This is Major Inahk of the Talarian Republic. We detected your arrival in our space, identify yourselves and your business in this region,” he commanded, knowing they wouldn’t be able to tell his deception—for all they knew, this was sovereign Talarian territory.

    It took a few moments, but the image of the fleet displayed on the middle monitor was replaced with three individuals, two males and a female, standing in a glistening silver room with others seated and standing at various consoles he could see. It must’ve been the control room on the command ship, the metal of the interior was almost identical to that of the exterior. He noted that none of them were wearing uniforms, whilst the three standing facing the screen appeared calm, the others were jittery.

    Interesting, he mused to himself, slowly stroking his beard, a faint smile tugging at his lips.

    “I am Tanis, speaker for the Ocampa. Apologies, incursion was not our intent. We have travelled here from a distant star and were unable to control our ultimate destination.”

    Inahk narrowed his eyes. The pleasantness of the alien seemed forced, yet something else that just felt out of balance with the whole encounter.

    “We’ve never heard of your people, or seen ships such as yours. Where do you come from?”

    “Our homeworld is over seventy thousand light-years from here, so you can see the problem we faced with our arrival,” the lean man in the middle of the trio stated, his polite tone still ringing false in Inahk’s ears. “We are currently running diagnostics. Once completed, we will withdraw from your space. All I ask is that you give us time to complete this task and we’ll respect your boundaries.”

    His wolf-like smile widened. “Perhaps we could offer assistance. You are new to this quadrant, we could share our knowledge.”

    Tanis looked at the male and female he was with, though no words were spoken. He looked back at the screen; his calm visage remained, though there was a change in his eyes.

    “Thank you for your offer, Major; however our systems require precise knowledge to operate. We will expedite the task as best we can ourselves.”

    Inahk rose from his seat and took a step closer to the visual scanners. “It would be no bother for us, besides there are many dangerous races in this region that would take advantage of people such as yourselves—particularly the Federation.”

    The man on Tanis’ left fidgeted, glancing at his leader for a second, then back at the screen trying to appear as he had before. Got you, his mind snarled—they had heard of the Federation, either they were lying about their origin or Starfleet was more expansionist than he’d ever imagined.

    “Thank you for your concern,” Tanis continued, his tone remaining level, “however, as you can see we have our own security covered.”

    “If not for your security, then perhaps we could exchange information—I’m sure we have much to learn from one another.”

    Tanis looked at his companions again. “I will have to discuss your request with our Council. We shall be in touch once I have convened them. Tanis out.”

    The channel closed abruptly, leaving Inahk smiling. He looked down at Rohan. “I want you to run every scan we have on those ships, I want to know everything we can about them—look for weaknesses that we can strike at.”

    “Aye Major,” the scanner operator replied instantly.

    As Inahk turned back to his chair he noticed the scowl on Othon’s bearded face. Once seated, his First Officer moved closer and spoke in a low voice.

    “Major, we are no match for this armada.”

    “They are not what they seem, Commander. Everything about them is off. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say they were nothing more than refugees—I doubt they even know what they are doing.”

    Othon’s scowl deepened. “We can’t be certain about that, sir.”

    “The mismatched ships, the lack of uniformity of the crew, their obviously anxious, and they recognised the Federation. Something is not right with this armada. If we seize their command ship, they wouldn’t offer any resistance. Then all of their technology—including the ability to cross entire quadrants—would be ours!”

    Othon’s forehead smoothed as his growing smile mimicked that of Inahk’s.


    * * * * *​