Star Trek: Tesseract

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by kes7, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. Warp Rider

    Warp Rider Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I've been busy as of late, and I see, so have you. Nice work Kes. :bolian:

    Good to see Icheb's first command going somewhat... smoothly. Also Adele's away mission doesn't seem to be that eventful aside from the cautious and suspicious behavior sh'es getting from the Tyndorans.

    The Admiral bugging the ready room, somehow I feel I should have seen that coming. Though I would have assumed Gently would try doing it; or at least been in the circle with Beckly on this. :p

    Can't wait to see what awaits them on this first away mission. Also how come Icheb didn't pick up any sort of signal or whatever from the bug? He's ex borg, he should still have some internal gadgetry sensor-whatchamacallit in him to pick up these things. I think... XD
     
  2. tenmei

    tenmei Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A nice chapter leading us into more Tyndoran goodness, can't wait to see what the blighters are hiding on their cloaked planet and what's happening to subspace and the Borg.
     
  3. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks, Warp Rider! Yes, so far Adele's mission has been boring. Fortunately -- or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it -- not every away mission is full of action and excitement. She hasn't gotten there yet, though ...

    As for Icheb not picking up the bug, if his implants reacted to the presence of every transmitter/receiver on the Tesseract, he'd think of nothing else. The place is covered with communications technology and various sensors. For him to pick something like that up, it would have to be targeted to his own translink frequency or, at the very least, he'd have to be actively looking for it.

    ETA:

    Well, getting info from the Tyndorans is like pulling teeth, as you may have noticed, so you may have to wait another few minutes, story-wise. Adele shares your impatience. :lol: She's ALMOST there, though! Just a few more hours ...
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2009
  4. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

    First Officer’s Log, Stardate 62217.14


    We have reached the halfway point of our journey across the damaged section of subspace at the outer edge of the Tyndoran system, and the captain reports that the away team is less than thirteen hours away from reaching the coordinates they were given by the Tyndorans. Astrometrics has had very little success in figuring out what lies at those coordinates. Captain Oyugo believes the most logical theory is a cloaked planet, based on the orbits of the other bodies in the star system. If it is a cloaked planet, the cloaking technology is unlike anything the Federation or the Borg have ever encountered before, at least as of the time of my separation from the Collective. I am very concerned about both the strange circumstances surrounding the away mission and the Tyndorans’ reluctance to provide any information; however, the captain has insisted on seeing this first contact through with the away team despite my urging to the contrary. She believes they will be able to provide answers regarding the subspace damage and destroyed Borg vessels we have found both here and at Aris 4.

    As Icheb sat sulking in the ready room of the USS Tesseract thirty minutes after his argument with the captain, he couldn’t decide whether he was more angry at Adele for insisting on risking the safety of the Sol and her away team to make first contact with the Tyndorans, or at himself for failing to convince her otherwise. He understood that risk was part of the job of a starship captain, but in his opinion, the entire encounter with the Tyndorans was too strange to be justifiable. Adding to his irritation was the fact that he had been the one to urge Adele to take the Sol instead of a runabout, which meant the lives of thirty-three people were now on the line instead of just seven.

    As he reflected on his failure to successfully persuade the captain to listen to his advice, he started to wonder what Adele thought of his behavior during their discussion. He recalled the tension he had occasionally witnessed between Kathryn Janeway and her first officer, Chakotay, while he was on Voyager. Despite their occasionally intense fighting, the crew had known they trusted one another and cared for one another. He wondered if it had been that way from the beginning. By the time Icheb had joined the crew of Voyager, the people on the ship were mostly like family to one another, but he had eventually learned that Chakotay was never intended to be the XO or even part of the crew at all -- he had been part of the Maquis rebellion, and Captain Janeway had been dispatched with her ship to apprehend him and his crew. When they had all been stranded in the Delta Quadrant and Chakotay’s ship had been destroyed, the two crews had reluctantly joined together for the greater purpose of finding a way back to the Alpha Quadrant. Surely, there had been a lack of trust then. He wondered how they had managed.

    He was perceptive enough to sense that Adele would have preferred another officer as her exec, particularly Borux, the Denobulan second officer who usually took Beta and sometimes even Gamma shift on the bridge because he didn’t need to sleep much more than six days a year. Icheb rarely wasted energy on envying others, but for the past few years, he had felt almost chained to his regeneration alcove, and the idea of being able to rest only when it was convenient was infuriatingly attractive to him. Borux was also friendly, talkative, and easygoing under normal conditions, and seemed to get along naturally with Adele, in contrast to the more forced and formal nature of his own interactions with the captain. Despite Adele’s appreciable efforts to create a comfortable working relationship between Icheb and herself, Icheb could tell she was wary of his Borg background. He also got the sense she was bothered by the age gap between them.

    As he reflected on their interaction, he had to admit he had been in a horrible mood before he had even spoken to Adele. Everything had seemed to be going better with Maren the past few days, until she had come to his quarters to give him her proposal for shielding the gel packs the previous night. He couldn’t believe it truly hadn’t occurred to him that the location of the discussion would make a difference. Two years without any significant social interaction outside of work had seriously impaired the more advanced interpersonal skills he had developed at the Academy as a result of his relationship with Maren and the small but tight-knit circle of friends they had both had there. He was starting to realize that he had taken a huge step backward socially since leaving Earth. If he had only waited a little longer to regenerate, or even gone to sickbay himself when it was getting close to Gamma shift with no report from Maren, maybe she wouldn’t have reacted so emotionally. Two or three years ago, he would have thought of that in advance, but when it came to emotional interaction, he realized, he was simply out of practice.

    Reflecting on the failures of the past twelve hours made Icheb feel ineffectual and slightly helpless -- a feeling that was only increased by a sudden flash of light and the instantaneous appearance of a familiar-looking dark-haired young man about his own age, who was wearing a Starfleet command division uniform identical to his own, but for one additional pip. A moment ago, Icheb had been alone, but now this unexpected visitor sat perched on the side of Adele’s large desk with a wide grin.

    “Itchy! It’s so good to see you again! Why the long face?” the intruder asked, noticing Icheb’s sullen expression. He glanced around the ready room and added, “This is certainly a step up from what you were doing the last time I saw you. Commanding a starship? Impressive, Itchy! How long has it been on your plane of existence, anyway, three years? Seems like yesterday to me. Or, you know, millennia, depending on how I choose to look at it.”

    Icheb raised his eyebrows at the sight of the Q known as Junior. “What are you doing here, Q?” he asked warily.

    “Do I need a reason to visit an old friend?” Junior asked with mock hurt.

    Icheb was looking more irritated by the second. “We’re not friends, Q. Every time you come to ‘visit’ me, you almost get me killed. I’m not in the mood for it today.”

    Junior protested. “I do not always almost kill you! The last time I came to see you, we had a great time!”

    You had a great time. Maren and I did not.”

    “Still, I didn’t almost kill you that time. And that girlfriend of yours needs to loosen up. She would be much more attractive if she had a fun personality to match that gorgeous body. Then again, anyone that uptight is a perfect match for you. Did you ask her to marry you yet?”

    Icheb glared at Junior. “I’m not talking to you about this.”

    “What’s the matter, trouble in paradise?” asked Junior with an exaggerated look of sympathy. “I can’t wait to hear all about it later. But that’s not why I’m here.”

    “Why are you here?” Icheb asked again. Before Junior could answer, there was another flash of light, and another older, but remarkably similar-looking dark-haired man, also dressed in the uniform of a Starfleet captain, suddenly stood imposingly in front of the ready room desk.

    “He’s here to warn you,” the older Q declared imperiously. “Against my express wishes, and the wishes of the Continuum, I might add,” he said, glaring at his son in obvious exasperation.

    “Warn me about what?” asked Icheb, fixing Junior with a questioning gaze.

    As Junior opened his mouth to answer, Q cut him off. “He’s not warning anyone about anything,” he said, giving Junior a pointed glance. “What is it with you, child? Every time I turn my back on you for a Terran second, you run off to find your little friend, here. This is the fifth time I’ve had to drag you back to the Continuum since that joyride of yours in the Delta Quadrant, and I’m tired of saving Icheb here from your stupidity. I don’t even like him that much. You should find more interesting friends,” he added, with a disdainful look in Icheb’s direction.

    “Would you shut up, Dad? I’m trying to help him.”

    “By screwing up their entire timeline. I won’t have it, and neither will the Continuum.”

    “Stop it, both of you,” insisted Icheb. He had heard enough. “Either one of you tell me what this is about, or both of you leave. I have too much to do today to listen to this.”

    Both omnipotents glanced at Icheb in surprise for a moment, but quickly turned back to each other, continuing their argument as if nothing had been said at all.

    “You’re such a hypocrite, Dad,” Junior said angrily. “You mess with their timeline whenever it suits your desires. You even offered to send Aunt Kathy home early if she’d agree to have your baby. This is no different, only I’m not asking for anything in return. I just don’t want Icheb to get hurt.”

    “You know as well as I do there’s more at stake here than just your little friend’s insignificant life. No offense,” he added hastily, glancing at Icheb, who merely gazed back in weary annoyance at the omnipotent being. Turning back to Junior, he said in a tone that left no room for argument, “You’re coming home with me immediately.”

    As he reached up to snap his fingers and whisk them both back to the Q Continuum, Junior was faster -- if comparatively lacking in dramatic flair. He snapped his fingers just a fraction of a second before his father did, and there was a flash on the desk in front of Icheb as both Qs vanished out of existence. Icheb looked down to see a PADD sitting on the desk where there had been none before, but as he reached for it, there was another flash of light, and another hand quickly snatched it off the desk.

    “I’ll be taking that with me,” snapped the older Q haughtily, once again standing in front of the ready room desk. He sighed and looked at Icheb with something resembling sympathy. “Look, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that your human friends have a way of inserting themselves into all kinds of trouble they don’t belong anywhere near. Unfortunately, they’ve done it again, and you’re about to be caught in the middle. Junior wants to protect you, but if he does it the way he wants to, the humans will never learn that their impulsive, self-serving actions have wide-reaching consequences. I’ve been trying to teach them this lesson for years, but apparently they’re going to insist on learning it the hard way. However, I’m going to make you an offer. Since you’re not one of them, if you want me to return you to your home world before all hell breaks loose, I’ll do it as a gift to Junior. I just can’t tell you what’s going to happen.”

    “I’m not going anywhere, but thank you for the offer,” replied Icheb coolly.

    Q rolled his eyes. “Of course, I should have known. Species 2461, Brunali. Notable for being stubborn beyond all reason,” he said sarcastically, “a trait not lessened or improved by the addition of typical Borg arrogance.” He sighed dramatically, adding, “Suit yourself. But this is a one-time offer. If you change your mind, well ... too late for that, now.” He snapped his fingers, and in a flash, he was gone again, along with the PADD.

    Icheb sat in stunned silence for several moments before he heard the commotion going on outside the ready room door. He quickly rose and toggled the manual release, and the door slid open to reveal most of the bridge crew crowded around the opening looking anxious. Iden Nix had the intercom half-disassembled, John Quigley was holding a phaser and preparing to fire on the security locks, and Par Renn was looking from John to the security control panel in a panic and trying to talk him out of it.

    As soon as the door opened, the assembled group breathed a collective sigh of relief. John quickly lowered his phaser. “Are you all right, sir?” asked Iden.

    John added, “We were reading intruders in the ready room, and the comm. was deactivated, and none of the security codes worked to open the door.”

    “And you were going to shoot at the control panel. Are you crazy?” Renn asked John angrily.

    John shrugged. “It always worked on the Titan,” he replied.

    “That’s enough,” Icheb said firmly. “I’m fine. Lieutenant Nix, get Captain Oyugo on subspace right away and fix this intercom panel. John, please put the phaser away. Ensign Par, return to your station immediately.”

    Iden and Renn both nodded and hurried to comply, but John looked at Icheb in bewilderment. “What’s going on?” he asked.

    “A visit from an old friend,” Icheb said with a knowing look. John thought for a moment, and his eyes grew wide.

    “Q?” he mouthed silently. Icheb nodded, and John inhaled sharply.

    “That can’t be good,” he said seriously. Icheb shook his head in glum agreement.
     
  5. tenmei

    tenmei Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Oh, a warning from Junior - that can't spell good things for our intrepid heroes. I am beginning to wonder whether the Tyndorans have been creating omega bombs to use on the Borg.
     
  6. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

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    Oooh! A new chapter so soon! Excellent!

    Love the cameo here from q and Q, you really captured the older Q's voice. A nice glimpse into Icheb's insecurities as well through the XO's log and his thoughts afterwards.

    Can't wait to see how all of this plays out as Adele reaches the Tyndorans!! Fantastic work, kes7
     
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, yeah... if whatever's coming is bad enough to have caught the attention of the Continuum, it's going to be a toboggan-ride down into the bowels of Hell. Loved the Q/Junior/Icheb interaction, just the right amount of humor without going over the top. Well done. :D
     
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
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    Enter Q.

    And son.

    Their appearence to herald impending danger is a nice touch. Of course as is usual with the Q, their appearence helps nobody. Icheb and the captain will know to expect danger but not what kind from where or how much. In other words: business as usual.

    Nice chapter.
     
  9. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    um, what They said . . . :techman:
     
  10. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    sorry about posting two in row but I've been swamped at home and work and everywhere else - just got a chance to catch up on this - I have to say this rivals and surpasses much of what Pocket publishes. I am just blown away by your characterizations and your flair for the dramatic and unexpected. maybe we should pass a hat to jumpstart your fiction career. I'd pay real money for your work and I'm notoriously thrifty. some call me cheap . . . bravo and thank you!!!
     
  11. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    oldstredshrtevr -- I'm so glad to see you back again, as I figured I'd lost you somewhere along the way! Thank you so much for commenting like you did! That's really high praise and I truly appreciate the kind words.

    CeJay -- You mean you also noticed that the Q are rarely as helpful as they like to pretend they are? :lol: Thanks for the comment, glad you liked the chapter.

    Gibraltar -- "Toboggan ride into the bowels of hell" ... that's funny stuff. And a fairly apt description of what's coming, especially for poor Icheb. (Like his life didn't suck enough already ...)

    Capt. Sarine -- Thanks for the kind comments!

    tenmei -- Interesting theory. You'll have to wait and find out what the Tyndoran connection is to all of this, or even if there is any. :)
     
  12. Diogenes

    Diogenes Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Kes7!
    I've been really lazy of late. Haven't left a comment in a while, although I still gobble up every new chapter as soon as you or Captain Sarine post one--very selfish of me. Perhaps you will forgive me for having been so remiss when I say that I very much agree with Oldstredshrtevr. I used to work just down the hall from the Pocket Books offices. Had great conversations with Marco. I have a lot of respect for those people. But I think it's true that the stuff you post is not just good, but better than much of what gets published in the line of Trek books. I have hundreds of Trek books. My friends chuckle at my nigh-obsession. But I do know my Trek. You're just terrific.

    Thanks for that taste of Q and q. I loved that I could picture Delancy and son so clearly from their time together on Voyager. I wonder if Beckley was listening in. If so, what might he think of the fact that this baby Borg for whom he harbours so much disdain is pals with an omnipotent being? Who's to say Junior wouldn't turn Beckley into an amoeba if he asked?

    You continue to please, Kes7. Thank god for you and Captain Sarine inbetween Trek books.
     
  13. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Diogenes -- There you go, making me blush again! :alienblush: I can't begin to tell you how encouraging your comments are. Thank you so much for reading and being so generous with the pep talks! I really do value all the great comments you've left regarding the story, too, they're always very thoughtful. :techman:
     
  14. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

    “What do you mean, the Q came to see you?” Adele tried to keep the shock out of her voice as she questioned her executive officer over subspace.

    Her day had not improved since the last time they had spoken. Ordi’te’s second-in-command had proved to be even less helpful than Ordi’te himself, cutting off the transmission with a short, “He’s busy. I’ll make him aware of your desire to speak with him.” She hadn’t heard from him yet.

    Now, she sat staring in disbelief at her own second-in-command on the ready room desktop display, trying to wrap her mind around what he was telling her. His face looked about as troubled as she had yet seen it.

    “I was completing a log entry, and they appeared in the ready room. The younger Q said he wanted to warn me about something, but his father wouldn’t let him. They argued about it and then they left.”

    “Warn you? About what?” Adele asked.

    “I don’t know. They were every bit as vague as they usually are,” he noted with a weary edge to his voice.

    Usually are? How often do you talk to the Q?” Adele asked, this time not bothering to hide her surprise.

    “Junior considers me a friend,” Icheb explained. “It’s a long story. I see him whenever he feels like it, which is more often than I would prefer. Five times over the last eight years,” he clarified, adding, “His father is never far behind; they’re supposed to stay together at all times. The last time I saw them before today was three years ago.”

    Adele sighed. She was beginning to feel like this mission was cursed from the start, and she was certainly less than enthused about the potential ramifications of Icheb’s supposed friendship with the Q. She had heard plenty of stories about what had happened to the Enterprise over the years once one of the Q had taken an interest in Captain Picard. She didn’t need the same headaches on her ship, and whatever game the Q were playing at, she was quite sure she wanted no part of it.

    She attempted to set aside those thoughts for the moment and focus on the matter at hand. “Did they say anything useful?” she asked.

    Icheb recalled the discussion. “The older Q said the human race has gotten involved in something they shouldn’t, and that their decisions will have far-reaching consequences. He said humanity had to learn a lesson. He made it sound like it’s already happening and we’re just about to find out about it. He said I was going to be ‘stuck in the middle’ and that Junior wanted to protect me. He gave me the opportunity to be returned to Brunali -- and I quote -- ‘Before all hell breaks loose.’”

    “Well, that certainly doesn’t sound encouraging,” sighed Adele, rubbing her forehead as if she felt a headache coming on. Smiling slightly, she hastened to add, “I assume the fact that you’re talking to me now means you turned his offer down?”

    “Yes, Captain,” Icheb replied with a grim smile of his own.

    “I’m glad to hear it, Commander.” She sighed again. “I only wish they’d given us more to go on.”

    “So do I,” Icheb agreed. His expression grew more serious. “Captain, I think now might be an appropriate time to convene the advisory board.”

    Adele winced. She hated to think of the field day Eleanor Gentry would have with Icheb in her absence, especially at the mention of the Q Continuum. “And tell them what, Commander? The Q say something bad is going to happen, but they won’t tell us what it is, or where, or when?”

    “It must be significant for Q’s father to have made me the offer that he did.”

    “That may be true, but we still don’t have any information to give the advisory board. It seems to me we’d be needlessly causing panic before we even know what the panic is about. Which is pretty much what your all-powerful friends have just done to you and me,” she added wryly. “It’s lovely to know our doom is impending, but I’d be so much happier if we knew where to start looking for it.”

    “Perhaps the Tyndorans are more dangerous than you think they are,” Icheb suggested pointedly.

    Adele gave him a tired look in return. “If you’re hoping to convince me to turn around, you should know I’m only more determined to see this through. If the Q aren’t talking, maybe the Tyndorans will. Ordi’te has consistently indicated that his government is willing to discuss things as long as it’s on their turf. I have no reason to disbelieve him. And something tells me the non-warning the Q just gave you has a lot more to do with the Borg and the subspace situation than it does with the Tyndorans.” She sighed, and added, “Or maybe it’s totally unrelated to anything we’ve found so far.”

    “Or, maybe the Tyndorans are the source of the explosions and subspace damage,” Icheb pointed out.

    “Well, if they are, then I’d like to know about it. But the fact that we’re still sitting here talking to each other leads me to believe that they’re not. Otherwise they probably would have blown us up when we first dropped out of slipstream in their space.”

    Icheb had to admit she had a point. “Very well,” he said finally. “I’ll wait to consult the advisory board until you’ve spoken with the Tyndorans, but I’m calling a meeting of the senior staff. I want them to be aware of the situation. And if I haven’t heard anything from you by 1200 hours tomorrow, I intend to consult the board.”

    “All right,” agreed Adele. “That’s reasonable.”

    Icheb appeared hesitant for a moment, then sighed and said, “Captain, be careful. I would strongly prefer my first command to be assigned, not inherited.”

    For a split second, Adele looked surprised by the sentiment, but she quickly recovered and gave him an amused half-smile. “We’re in agreement, Number One. Now please get out of my ready room and go take care of my ship and crew.”

    “Yes, Captain. Icheb out.”

    The display went blank, and Adele rose from her chair, stretching as she did so. She looked at the chronometer. Eleven hours to go.

    *****

    Three hours later, Admiral Beckley sat in his office, sipping Altairian water and contemplating all that he’d heard since he’d played back the audio files from the captain’s ready room this morning.

    The first file had been Commander Icheb’s slightly petulant-sounding log entry. He was worried about the captain and the away team, and apparently wanted it on the record that he had asked them to return to the ship, probably in case they got blown up or held hostage. Typical first officer stuff; the kid was covering his own ass. Perfectly understandable.

    The second file had been much more interesting. The transmitter had activated, then an unfamiliar, young-sounding sarcastic male voice said “Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to eavesdrop?” and the transmission had been cut off. When it had reactivated several minutes later, there had been some muffled noises coming from outside the room, followed by the sound of the door opening and a few panicked-sounding bridge officers inquiring as to their XO’s safety, claiming intruders had been detected, the doors had been locked and the intercom disabled.

    The third file had shed quite a bit of light on the second. If Icheb was to be believed, the Q Continuum had paid the young first officer a personal visit. They brought vague warnings of danger to come, but according to the conversation between Icheb and the captain, no actual intelligence had been shared. Admiral Beckley had no problem believing the ex-drone’s story. He wondered what it meant for the mission, though.

    Adele had sounded reluctant to convene the board. The admiral wondered how much of that was due to Eleanor Gentry’s confrontational approach, and how much was due to her obvious discomfort with her inability to read him. When she had been chosen to lead the mission, he had warned his superiors that an empath could be problematic. They had dismissed his concerns, saying she was only a quarter Betazoid and had never undergone any training to improve her natural telepathic abilities. Admiral Beckley remained skeptical.

    As the admiral deleted the audio files, he wondered what lay ahead for Adele when she reached the mysterious coordinates her XO was so concerned about. Like the rest of them, he supposed, he would simply have to wait.

    ******

    The senior staff sat assembled in the large conference room on deck eight of the USS Tesseract, looking expectantly at their XO. They had been called away from their duties for an unscheduled briefing, and most of the small group of officers wore expressions of varying levels of impatience.

    Once Icheb was sure everyone who wasn’t currently on the Sol was accounted for, he sat down at the head of the long table and started to speak.

    “Before this briefing begins, I want to stress to you all that until further notice, nothing I’m about to say can leave this room,” he said seriously. “That’s a direct order. You may not share this with your staff. Understood?”

    The group of officers stared back at him in surprised silence. A chorus of “Yes, sirs” and a table full of nodding heads were the only responses.

    “Good,” he replied. He took a deep breath. “This morning, two members of the Q Continuum came aboard the Tesseract.” Most of the senior staff looked stunned at this news, but Maren O’Connor looked more irritated than Icheb had seen her since coming aboard, and that was saying something, considering how angry she already was at him. He met her gaze and gave her what he hoped was an understanding look. She really had been upset about Junior’s last visit -- and justifiably so. Clearly, she hadn’t forgiven the Q yet.

    Trying not to think anymore about their last encounter with Q Junior, he continued, “One of the Q came to issue a warning, but another Q, his father, prevented him from elaborating and took him back to the Continuum. However, they seemed to indicate the Tesseract is about to encounter serious trouble.” The officers started to exchange concerned glances with one another, and Icheb apologized, “I’m sorry that I don’t have more specific information, but we have to assume the threat is significant if the Q have taken notice. I want you all to be extremely vigilant in your duties. Run more detailed scans, perform more training exercises, make sure all systems are working at peak efficiency. If nothing else, I want this to serve as a warning against complacency.”

    At this statement, Iden Nix looked visibly amused. Icheb glanced at her. “Lieutenant?”

    She turned a slightly deeper shade of blue at being singled out by the XO, but explained, “I was just thinking that it’s difficult to be complacent when we’re stuck at impulse in a massive field of Borg debris, with our captain two days away from us and heading for an unfamiliar planet, sir.” Her comment was met with a few snickers and murmurs of agreement.

    Icheb smiled slightly at the group and clarified, “I'm sorry, I didn’t intend to imply that you had been complacent prior to this point. I just want to ensure we’re as prepared as possible.” Iden nodded.

    Icheb continued, “Captain Oyugo is within hours of meeting with the leadership of the Tyndorans, the species we encountered two nights ago. She believes they’ll be able to tell us more about the subspace damage and the destroyed Borg vessels. However, the Tyndorans have been reluctant to share even basic information about their society in advance. As a precaution, I want all of you to prepare for the possibility of a rescue mission. If the away team requests assistance, I want us to be able to respond.” He turned to Maren. “Lieutenant O’Connor, if the away team encounters problems, we're going to have to move significantly faster than we are right now to get to them. I want you to take your best engineering team off the gel pack problem and have them work on reconfiguring the impulse drive to get us as close to light speed as possible.”

    Maren blinked in surprise. “Sir, that’s against regulations for very good reasons,” she pointed out.

    “So is the captain’s away mission,” Icheb retorted plainly. “We’ll do what’s necessary. I would rather recalibrate our chronometers than lose the captain and the away team. The time dilation effects should be minimal in any case; we’re not that far away.”

    “Yes, Commander,” she replied quietly, making a few notes on her PADD.

    Icheb returned his gaze to the entire group of senior staff officers. “I want everyone on this ship working at maximum efficiency. You’re all doing an excellent job so far, and I expect that to continue. I'm just asking you to increase your awareness. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, I want to hear about it immediately, even if it seems insignificant.” He looked around at the group again. “Does anyone have any questions?”

    One or two officers said “No, sir,” as everyone else shook their heads. As a whole, the group seemed stunned into silence by the mention of the Q and eager to get back to work. Only Maren looked as if she might have something to say, but for the moment, she neither raised her hand nor spoke.

    “Then you’re dismissed,” Icheb said, and the senior staff collected their PADDs and other belongings and headed out the door, whispering to one another in hushed tones.

    As the others filed out, Maren stood to the side. When they were gone and the door closed, Icheb looked at her questioningly.

    “Permission to speak freely, sir?” she asked.

    Icheb raised his eyebrows. He wanted to talk to her, but the look on her face gave him pause. She appeared livid, and he suspected he was in for another unpleasant exchange. “Please do,” he said, finally.

    Maren got right to the point. “How do you know this isn’t another one of Junior’s stupid pranks?” she demanded angrily. “I wouldn’t put it past him to do something like this just to watch you squirm during your first command.”

    “I know he upset you the last time we saw him, but I believe he’s trying to help,” Icheb replied.

    “You can’t possibly believe him!” she exclaimed in disbelief.

    “Maren, his father was standing right there and offered to return me to Brunali for my own protection. I don’t believe this is a prank.”

    “His father is as bad as he is. I don’t buy this ‘upstanding member of the Continuum’ act for a minute. I did a report on the Q my second year at the Academy. You helped me with it, remember? If they have a hobby, it’s messing with us.” Suddenly, she paused and gave Icheb a strange look. “Wait, he offered to send you back to Brunali?”

    Icheb nodded.

    “As in, the planet where your parents live?” she asked in shock. “How is that doing you a favor?”

    “It’s not,” Icheb replied flatly. His tone was so thoroughly matter-of-fact that it brought a tiny smile to Maren’s face, and seeing this, Icheb cracked a smile, too, realizing that it had been quite an understatement.

    Maren sighed and leaned against the side of the conference table. She closed her eyes briefly and shook her head. “God, I can’t stand them. The Q, I mean. They always seem to think they’re being so helpful when all they’re really doing is spreading chaos and confusion around the galaxy. Junior gets so much entertainment out of making you suffer, and he never seems to know when to stop. It's like he really thinks he's helping you become better than you are, as opposed to just being a dangerous pest.”

    “I don’t think he means to do it, Maren. It’s just who he is.”

    “Well, I’ve seen enough of him to know he can’t be trusted, and that he's at his worst when he thinks he's helping you out.” She sighed heavily. “I still think this is a prank, but I agree being prepared is better than not being prepared. I’ll attempt to modify the impulse drive like you asked. I’m not sure we can get enough power to the fusion reactor to accelerate the ship’s mass that quickly, though -- there’s just too much of it to move. I could do it with the Luna easily,” she said, referring to the second Saber-class ship the Tesseract was carrying, “but a ship this big is something else entirely. Normally I’d just reroute power from the warp drive to create a stronger IPS field and reduce the effective mass of the ship, but it’s not safe to initialize the warp drive here, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them.”

    Icheb thought for a moment. “Have a second team work on the Luna. At least we know that will work.” He hesitated a moment, then suggested, “What about the slipstream drive?”

    Maren looked at him oddly. “Same problem. You know better than -- ” she cut herself off when she saw the look on his face. “Oh, no,” she said. “No, no, don’t look at me like that. We’re not doing that. I’d face a court martial for that. That is, if we didn’t all die in the attempt first.”

    “Not if it works,” Icheb replied. “And we both know it will. We did the calculations thousands of times.”

    “Absolutely not. I’ll find a way to make the impulse drive faster, but I’m not experimenting like that with the slipstream drive, especially in an inhabited star system.”

    “It’s unlikely we’ll need to,” Icheb reminded her. “This is a contingency plan. If a positive outcome to the away mission is Plan A, and a rescue mission using the impulse drive is Plan B, then this is -- ”

    “Plan C,” Maren finished for him. Anyone could have finished the sentence, as obvious as it was, but something about the familiarity of the action struck them both, and their eyes met. For a moment, it was like nothing had changed in two years, as they exchanged a long look, negotiating silently, each somehow knowing exactly what the other was thinking. Finally, Maren forced herself to look away. “Fine,” she relented, “I’ll write a program for it -- as Plan Z. That way we can stick every other contingency plan we come up with in front of this ridiculous one without having to re-label anything.”

    “Thank you,” said Icheb. They both stood awkwardly for a moment, not knowing what to say.

    “I should go,” Maren finally said. “It’s going to be another long day.”

    Icheb knew better than to try and keep her there, no matter how much he wanted to keep talking to her. This was the most natural conversation they had managed since they had both come aboard, and he didn’t want it to end.

    “Of course,” he said, “let me know if you require assistance.”

    Maren nodded and walked out of the conference room. Icheb stayed behind for a few moments, gazing out the large window overlooking the recreation deck. Between his worry about the away team and his disturbing encounter with the Q, he was starting to really feel the weight of command. Slowly, he headed back to the bridge.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  15. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sector 001
    (By the way, in the next chapter, we meet the Tyndorans! I promise. Just so you all know it's finally coming. :bolian:)
     
  16. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    A great segment. This was the most authoritative I’ve seen Icheb with the senior staff, and he really took command of the meeting, brief as it was. I was pleased to see the admiral off-put by the arrival of the Q, a variable that not even he can account for. We get some terrific character interaction, and what do you know… Icheb and Maren are actually being civil to one another. :lol: Wonders never cease!

    As for now, it’s a waiting game. Something dark and foreboding is on the horizon, but what it is and when it will arrive is anybody’s guess.
     
  17. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    Hi Kes!

    Another great chapter - I loved the little q making the comment about it being rude to eavesdrop to the admiral over the recording! Great stuff!! and LOL!! :)

    Icheb seems to be settling in nicely to his status as XO, taking command of the meeting, giving orders, even singling out another officer who was smirking... Interesting to see him taking on this mantle.

    The interaction between Icheb and Maren seems to be getting better - their professional relationship seems to be bringing them closer, which is a good thing, IMO.

    As for what is coming - can't wait to see where you're going with all of this! ;)

    Joel
     
  18. Diogenes

    Diogenes Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Kes7!
    Thanks for another great chapter. I look forward to meeting the Tyndorans.

    Loved seeing Icheb in command. Voyager was my favorite of all the Star Trek franchise (closely followed by DS9), and Janeway my favorite of the captains. Seven was also one of my favorite characters. Watching Icheb reconcile the demands of command with issues in his personal life almost feels like you've merged aspects of Janeway and Seven in your iteration of Icheb. Makes me feel very nostalgic for Voyager. And I am eager to see Icheb in action in a combat situation.

    The best characters are those with so large an "interiority" (as one of my old profs used to say) as to leave a reader ensnared with myriad narrative possibilities, even without prompting from the writer, almost as if the story becomes akin to a self motivating engine. I have to wonder, for instance, just how much Icheb knows about classified Starfleet/Federation matters from the memories of high ranking officers and Fed officials assimilated by the Borg. His security clearance (from casual knowledge of and association with such beings as the Q and phenomena like Omega, and the Borg themselves) must be ridiculously. Considering Beckley's nature, I must imagine that he could be even more threatened by Icheb than his impassivity suggests. A man like Beckley knows where a lot of the bodies are buried, as it were; I am tickled by the thought that Beckley might himself be intimidated by the prospect of this young, idealistic officer ("practically raised by Janeway," I recall Beckley grousing) who might just know not merely where the bodies are buried, but who killed them and who did the burying!

    I also like that Adele is a little taken aback by Icheb. Sure, he's relatively inexperienced as a commissioned officer. But he's already seen more action in the DQ, as a teenager, under the tutelage of Janeway, one of the most accomplished, famous command officers in Starfleet history; Tuvok, one of the most respected Academy instructors and tacticians around; Seven of Nine ('nuff said); and Chakotay, Tom Paris, and B'Elana Torres, three of the wiliest, arguably notorious, former Maquis-cum-Starfleeters around. And then there is his Borg acquired knowledge. Oh yeah, he's also a scientific genius in his own right. That's an impressive package.

    Kes7: Capital genius idea choosing Icheb for this story!

    I'm getting my grubby paws on Star Trek, Voyager: Unworthy this evening. I would be closer to shaking in desperate anticipation were it not for my steady infusion of TESSERACT.

    Muchas Gracias, Kes7!

    'Los
     
  19. Warp Rider

    Warp Rider Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    Location:
    Another Galaxy. Canada.
    Another good and well written chapter, Kes. ^_^

    I like how Q Jr. actually interrupted the Admiral's listening time. Also I get the feeling that he could have been talking about Beckley as part of the danger they are about to face; I don't think anyone else has mentioned that yet.

    Icheb has also done a fine job of commanding the crew during the briefing too. Maren and his convo about the Q and her concerns were well done and justified. Good job. :bolian:

    Now to get the Impulse drive up to near Lightspeed... this should be interesting. And as Mal and Wash's convo went in Serenity.

    Mal: "Define... interesting."
    Wash: "Oh God, Oh God, we're all gonna die." XD
     
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Something tells me a lot of things are going to go wrong here. Possibly around 35 things, actually, if that's what it'll take to get to Plan Z. I take it it involves the slipstream drive doing something very naughty.

    I'm actually starting to like disliking the admiral. He is just such a splendid villain and so difficult to read. (I now know how Adele feels). He's definitely an SOB but I don't think he's all evil ... could be wrong on that of course.

    Oh and a note to Maren: Will you please lighten up already? He may have broken your heart but he's killing himself trying to make it up to you.

    Of course our favorite Borg drone might have to worry about bigger problems for now.

    Great stuff.