Star Trek: Tesseract

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

  1. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    35 things? How many letters are in your alphabet? :lol: And no, Plan Z is definitely not Starfleet-approved. Whether or not they end up needing it now, it's something that might certainly be handy to have as an option later -- assuming it doesn't kill them all, of course.

    No. No he's not. For the moment, he's trying to have his cake and eat it, too, whether he realizes it or not. She's upset about way more than a simple breakup.


    :lol: I loved Firefly/Serenity and especially that line! Thanks for the kind comments.

    Thanks! Your comments on Icheb are pretty much what made me want to write a story about him. He was fairly interesting on VOY, and I was sad when we got cheated out of seeing what happened to him later. But it gave me the idea to write this, which I'm having fun with, so it's all good ... ;)

    Enjoy your new book! Thanks so much for all the commentary you've given here, I appreciate it so much! I hope you keep it up!

    Gibraltar and Capt. Sarine, I responded to you both over on Ad Astra. This reply is super long already, so I'll just say THANKS to both of you for commenting! :bolian:
  2. Warp Rider

    Warp Rider Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    May 1, 2009
    Another Galaxy. Canada.
    You're welcome Kes, the comments are well deserved. :)

    And it's always good to find more Firefly/ Serenity fans too. :D
  3. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001

    “Lieutenant T’Pring, Ensign Slidell, what can you tell me?” As the Sol followed the Tyndoran vessels past the fifth planet at a significant distance, Adele, now wearing her dress uniform in preparation for official first contact with the Tyndorans, stared at its magnified image on the viewscreen.

    Alex Slidell answered first. “There’s definitely extensive evidence of civilization, but I’m reading less than a thousand life signs, mostly clustered in an area dense with structures.” His console beeped. “Captain, we are being hailed.”

    “On screen,” Adele said.

    “We’re approaching,” said Ordi’te, on the viewscreen. “We will take up a formation around your ship and extend our shielding to encompass you. Please shut down any active sensor arrays and refrain from running scans. The shield won’t allow us to pass if it senses any kind of probe.”

    Adele nodded, then turned to Alex. “Do what he asks,” she said. With a few touches to his console, Alex disabled the active sensors and several displays went blank.

    “Thank you, Captain,” Ordi’te said.

    Adele nodded at him, and the screen reverted to display the space ahead of them. As the three Tyndoran ships surrounded the Sol in a triangular formation and activated an energy field, the view on the screen briefly distorted, then went back to normal. “Steady as she goes, Commander,” Adele said to Adrian Keller at the helm. The nervous bridge crew exchanged glances, including Irina Marchenko, who sat at an auxiliary console. She had come from sickbay ostensibly to analyze the life signs from the fifth planet, but really, the extroverted doctor had mostly wanted to alleviate the soul-crushing boredom of sitting alone in sickbay for two days. No one on this mission was sick or injured. As she watched the alien ships surround them, the thought struck her that perhaps that situation was about to change.

    As the tiny, mismatched fleet neared its destination, they passed through a barrier that no one had seen coming. One moment, they could only see the sun and distant stars, the next, the viewscreen was filled with the brightly lit surface of the night side of a small planetoid -- definitely larger than an asteroid, but not quite worthy of being called a planet, Adele thought. It was covered in so many structures that if it hadn’t been for its slightly irregular shape and a few small patches of visible surface between solid cityscape, Adele might have thought it was an enormous starship. She could see a series of orb-like objects orbiting in a wide sphere around the tiny world. She assumed they were the generators for the shielding and cloaking system.

    “Interesting,” said T’Pring, raising a Vulcan eyebrow.

    Irina gasped in surprise at the sudden sight. The others, having nothing to do, since they weren’t permitted to run scans, simply stared.

    “They’re hailing us again, Captain,” said Alex.

    “Let’s see,” replied Adele.

    “Welcome to New Tyndora,” said Ordi’te. “You have been cleared for orbit. Do not attempt to scan the shield generators. You will trigger an alarm. I have been in contact with my superiors; they advise me that you should have technology that allows you to instantly travel to the surface without a landing vessel. Use it. I’m sending you coordinates now.”

    Adele raised her eyebrows with interest at the Tyndorans’ apparent familiarity with Federation technology. “Very well,” she said with a smile, “Perhaps I’ll see you down there.”

    Ordi’te, obviously a man of few words, cut off the transmission without reply. Adele resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

    “All right,” she said, “Ryzal, Lindley, T’Pring, you’re with me. The rest of you, do as you’ve been asked by our hosts. Refrain from actively scanning anything. Passive sensors only. Keep orbiting. Stay ready.”

    “Should I notify the Tesseract that we’ve arrived?” asked Alex.

    “Wait,” said Adele. “These people seem extremely suspicious of us. I don’t want to give them any reason to think we’re calling for reinforcements. I’ll get clearance from them first.”

    “Aye, Captain.”

    Adele and the rest of the surface team left the bridge and walked down the narrow corridor to the transporter room. A Tellarite transporter chief beamed them down to the surface coordinates they had been given.

    When they materialized moments later in a large, airy, brightly lit room, they were facing five Tyndorans, all purple-skinned and wearing long tunics and slacks of varying muted shades. Two were smaller than the others and lacked the W-shaped ridges Adele had seen on Ordi’te and his second-in-command. Adele guessed that they were females.

    “Welcome to New Tyndora,” one of them said, and her lilting voice seemed to confirm Adele’s guess. “I am Lineta, First Minister of New Tyndora. These are my advisers, Midran, Jor’te, Nyreni and Barmot.” The others nodded in greeting, but said nothing.

    Adele smiled warmly. “I’m Adele Oyugo, captain of the starship Tesseract, of the United Federation of Planets,” Adele replied. “These are some of my crew -- T’Pring of Vulcan; Ryzal, a Saurian; and Marcus Lindley, from Relva VII, one of our colony worlds. We’re on a mission of peaceful exploration to the Delta Quadrant. I apologize if our presence has violated any protocols. We did not intend to enter your space, but the damage to subspace caused our ship to lose its quantum slipstream. There was nothing we could do. However, I’m happy to have this opportunity to initiate contact between our people.”

    “You are not the only unexpected visitors we have had in recent months,” said Lineta. “Come, let us go to our meeting room. We will talk.”

    Adele smiled and shot a satisfied glance at the rest of the away team. Marcus smiled back, but T’Pring merely raised an ever-skeptical eyebrow. Ryzal kept his perpetual look of tactical awareness, glancing around subtly, looking for exits and potential threats. The group followed the Tyndorans out of the brightly lit welcoming room and down a short hallway to a large room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the dazzling nighttime cityscape below. They were on one of the upper levels of a tall structure, and it seemed as if they could see half the small planetoid from the well-appointed room.

    “It is nothing compared to what Tyndora was,” Lineta said wistfully, as she saw the four Starfleet officers staring down at the city. “Our people used to thrive on the fifth planet until the Borg largely destroyed our civilization. Those who escaped found refuge on other worlds for a time, until we developed adequate shielding and cloaking technology and decided to return and rebuild here, because it was small enough to cloak completely. A few people also returned to old Tyndora, but they are not safe there.”

    Adele looked at the frail-looking First Minister. “I lost my husband to the Borg eighteen years ago. Many of our people have suffered similar losses. It can’t compare to losing your entire world, but I can imagine a little bit how you must feel.”

    Lineta widened her pale blue eyes, and her shiny third eyelid blinked once. “I am sorry. Was he taken to be one of them?”

    “No,” Adele replied quickly, “he was killed, and I’m thankful for it, given the alternative.”

    Lineta nodded. “We also consider death preferable to assimilation.” She gestured toward the large table in the center of the room. “Enough of that. Please, sit down. Let us speak of the present, not the past.”

    Adele nodded to the away team and they took their seats around the table. As they sat down, Adele asked, “May I ask where Ordi’te, the captain of the escort vessel is? I would love to thank him in person for his assistance.”

    “That may be possible later,” said Lineta. “First, let us discuss what you came to discuss. You want to know what happened to subspace, is that correct?”

    “Yes,” said Adele. “Before we began our journey, we received a distress call from a small colony in the Aris system, several thousand light years away from here. We responded, only to find the planet destroyed, subspace torn to pieces, and -- ”

    “ ... and fragments of Borg vessels scattered throughout the system,” Lineta finished for her.

    “Yes,” replied Adele. “Exactly like what we found here, only much more recent. Please tell us what you know about what’s happening,” she said pleadingly. “One of our vessels was stranded in the Delta Quadrant and ended up destroying the Borg’s Unimatrix Zero and one of their transwarp hubs eight years ago. We’ve been tasked with finding out the status of the Borg Collective, as well as exploring the Delta Quadrant officially and revisiting some planets we opened formal diplomatic relations with. I would love to know exactly what we’re heading into. Can you help us?”

    “I wish I could help you,” replied Lineta, “but we know very little about the current status of the Borg.”

    “Then you didn’t destroy the tactical cube?”

    “We have no weapons capable of such destruction. Our only advantage is our silence. As long as we stay behind the cloak, keep strict control over outside communications, and keep to our own as much as possible, we have been ignored. Someone else has been destroying the Borg. We have witnessed the destruction of two cubes in the last year.”

    “Do you have any idea who it is?”

    “We thought it might have been you. Your ship certainly appears capable. That is why we sent our ships to intercept.”

    Adele couldn’t hide her disappointment at this answer. “It isn’t us. We signed a treaty banning the use of subspace weaponry years ago. Our ship is tactically capable of destroying a Borg vessel, but our weapons would not harm subspace.”

    “May I ask you some questions about your vessel?” queried Lineta.

    “Of course,” replied Adele. “We would also be happy to let you come aboard, if you’d like to make the trip. In fact, I would love to tell you everything about the Federation.”

    “We are familiar with your Federation,” Lineta replied, a bit coolly. “Your reputation precedes you.”

    “Oh?” asked Adele. “May I ask what you’ve heard?”

    “Please understand,” said Lineta, “our goals are not dissimilar. We are a peace loving species, and we value freedom and the search for knowledge, much like you claim to do. But we have seen that in practice, Federation membership, despite its many material benefits, requires too much in the way of oversight and restrictions. We would rather do things our own way, and make our own choices. That is why we have not sought you out, despite our familiarity with several of your member worlds.”

    “I see,” replied Adele, raising her eyebrows. “Well, perhaps that’s a discussion for another time, then. For the moment, though, please feel free to ask any questions you like about the Federation or the Tesseract.”

    “Very well,” said Lineta, “the scans Ordi’te took of your vessel were very odd. We know what Federation technology looks like, but your ship is different. It shares many characteristics with Borg vessels, including its shape and size.”

    “You’re correct,” said Adele. “Our ship that got stranded in the Delta Quadrant, the USS Voyager, freed several Borg drones from the Collective and brought two of them home. Actually, one of those two is now my second-in-command aboard the Tesseract. Both individuals were influential in the design of the Tesseract, along with the crew of Voyager, who all gained a lot of experience with Borg technology during their seven years in the Delta Quadrant. My ship was designed to fuse the best of Borg technology with the best of Federation technology, and much of the former was reverse-engineered so that our Starfleet engineers would be able to use it properly.”

    “I must say that the resemblance is unsettling,” replied Lineta.

    “Our engineers thought of that, and there was a lot of debate over whether it was acceptable,” admitted Adele. “Intimidation was never a primary goal. We’re peaceful people, and traditionally, we’ve tried to make our ships look like it, but finally, it was decided that it was a tolerable side effect of the design. We were in a hurry to return to the Delta Quadrant, and it would have added years to the design process to figure out how to get all the Borg-inspired technology to work reliably in a completely different configuration. Not to mention, there are species in that part of space we know to be hostile who would likely avoid any ship that looked like ours if they saw it on long-range scans. Ultimately, the Tesseract was always going to be a very large ship, and it would have been hard to make that look peaceful no matter what shape we chose. Some of my crewmen have been calling it ‘fleet in a box,’ and that’s essentially exactly what it is.”

    Marcus Lindley glanced at her in surprise, and Adele turned to him. “I hear everything,” she told him pointedly, and he blanched and looked down at the table. Ensigns, Adele thought wryly, and resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the green young officer. Turning back to the Tyndorans, she explained, “We didn’t need to send a lot of costly slipstream-capable vessels to the Delta Quadrant. We needed one big ship with a powerful slipstream drive that could project a field big enough to take a lot of people and a lot of smaller merely warp-capable ships with us, plus a couple of smaller slipstream-capable ones for other missions and emergencies. We plan to use our smaller, more traditional-looking auxiliary ships for intentional first contact missions like this one, and leave the cube at a safe distance with all remaining personnel being well protected.”

    Lineta nodded thoughtfully, as did a few of her silent advisers. “Your approach makes some sense. I do wonder if it will be more trouble than you had anticipated given the apparent situation with the Borg.”

    “So do I,” sighed Adele. “That’s why I was so hopeful you could shed light on what’s happening here.”

    “I am so sorry that I cannot,” said Lineta. “You said you have a Borg officer?”

    “Ex-Borg,” clarified Adele. “Yes, he’s a native of Brunali, a Delta Quadrant world.”

    “Please explain what you mean by ‘ex-Borg.’ He is no longer connected to the Collective?”

    “Correct,” said Adele. Being careful to avoid disclosing anything classified, she explained, “He was found on a damaged cube as a neo-natal drone. His connection to the Collective had already been severed. Our people brought him aboard their ship along with the few others who were with him -- all children -- and removed most of their cybernetic implants. Most were adopted by the Wysanti, but Icheb stayed aboard and enrolled in our officer training school, Starfleet Academy.”

    “I see,” said Lineta, and exchanged a glance with her advisers. “So then, you have medical technology capable of removing Borg cybernetics?”

    “Yes,” said Adele. “It’s not perfect. We haven’t been able to remove everything; some of it is responsible for the functioning of vital organs. But other than a single remaining facial implant, you’d never know he was ever Borg just looking at him.” That is, until he starts talking, she couldn’t resist adding in her head.

    Lineta looked back at her advisers, and one of them nodded. “I would like to meet this drone,” she said. “Did you bring him with you?”

    Adele shook her head. “No, he’s commanding the Tesseract in my absence. I’d be happy to arrange a meeting, but you would have to travel. We’ll lose too much time by having the Tesseract come here, plus my chief engineer is very nervous about spending any more time than strictly necessary in the vicinity of subspace ruptures.”

    “I understand,” said Lineta. “The damage to subspace has inconvenienced everyone.”

    “This is widespread?” asked Adele.

    “I cannot tell you how extensive the problem is,” replied Lineta, “only that we have encountered several warp-capable species recently who have reported similar findings at widely disparate locations stretching all the way to the Delta Quadrant. Your report of the incident in the Aris system is the furthest into the Alpha Quadrant I have yet heard of, though.”

    “Interesting,” said Adele, glancing at T’Pring. She wondered what the relentlessly logical Vulcan science officer made of all this. “Would you like to accompany us to rendezvous with the Tesseract?” Adele asked Lineta, knowing what the answer would be.

    “No. As I said before, we try to keep to ourselves. I regret that we will not meet him, but it is not worth the risk.”

    That was what Adele had been expecting to hear. “In that case, I’d like to return to my ship and let them know we’re all right,” she said. “May I send a subspace transmission through your shield?”

    “No,” said Lineta, “but you may use our secure communications room to talk to them. While you do that, Midran would be happy to take your people on a tour of our parliamentary offices.” Midran nodded, though he looked less than enthusiastic about the prospect to Adele’s eyes.

    She looked at her away team, who, to a person, looked thrilled by the suggestion, each in their own way. She nodded at them. “They’d love that.”

    “Excellent,” said Lineta. “Midran, treat them well. Nyreni, please take Captain Oyugo to the communications chamber.”

    Adele rose and gave a warning look to Ryzal, whom she sensed was about to protest her separation from the rest of the away team. “Thank you,” she said to Lineta.

    As Adele and Nyreni entered the corridor outside the meeting room, they walked by a man whom Adele recognized as Ordi’te’s second-in-command. Adele smiled as they passed him, and as he brushed against Adele, he covertly pressed a tiny object into her hand. She avoided making further eye contact as her hand closed around the small item, and she quickly slipped it into the side pocket of her dress uniform pants. Now, we’re getting somewhere, she thought to herself.

    Inside the communications room, Nyreni helped her find and connect to the Tesseract. She was genuinely happy to see Borux’s face on the viewscreen, as she had missed their chats for the past couple of days. “Borux, I’m contacting you to let you know we’re all right, and that we’ll be heading out to rendezvous with you soon. Is everything okay there?”

    “As good as it’s ever been,” replied Borux with his too-large Denobulan smile. “This hasn’t exactly been a picture-perfect mission, so far.”

    Adele shook her head and smiled. “True enough. But everything is fine for now?”

    “Yes, Captain. A quiet night.”

    “Good to hear. I’ll be in touch soon. Let Commander Icheb know, as well, he’s been concerned.”

    “Should I have the chief engineer wake him if he’s regenerating?”

    “No, that’s not necessary. As soon as he wakes up is fine.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    As the display went blank, Adele turned to Nyreni and smiled. She slipped her hand into her pocket and fingered the small object Ordi’te’s right-hand man had given her. Maybe now, we’ll get some straight answers, she thought. The Betazoid part of her, which had been screaming at her for the last hour, thought that if she had to listen to one more lie out of these people, she was pretty sure that -- at a minimum -- she would say something very undiplomatic.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2009
  4. Warp Rider

    Warp Rider Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    May 1, 2009
    Another Galaxy. Canada.
    Finally we meet these Tyndorans and I figured there was something off about them. At least it seems like Adele may have an ally with Ordi'te; hopefully that object, Ordi'te's second in command gave her, will shed some light on things.

    I also hope they'll make it out in one piece and with no loss of life. 'Cause I get the feeling... things are gonna get shakened up. :bolian:
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Interesting twist with the subterfuge following Adele’s apparently fruitless meeting with the Tyndoran leadership. Here’s hoping this might provide some answers. And shame on the Tyndorans for trying to BS a Betazoid! :klingon:

    And is it just me, or was Lineta expressing just a tad bit too much interest in Icheb?

    Curiouser and curiouser!
  6. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France
    Oooh subterfuge! I love it! :)

    Good to see Adele using her Betazoid abilities to recognise that the Tyndorans are full of **** (excuse my French). They definitely seem to know more than they are letting on. And much too interested in Icheb.

    Also well done to have included a discussion of Tesseract's configuration through the conversation. Really shows you've thought all of this through.

    Can't wait to see how Adele is going to use whatever is on that tiny object she has been given and what she is going to find out.
  7. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    Well, at the very least, she may have an ally in the second-in-command. Or, you know, he could be trying to kill her. We don't really know what that thing is yet, Adele's apparent optimism notwithstanding. :shifty: Thanks for the comment!

    They had no idea who/what they were dealing with. Adele's not the best telepath out there, but you're right, you don't lie to a Betazoid, even one who is just a quarter, and get away with it unless you're one of the lucky "unreadable" races (or a certain creepy admiral). As far as Icheb, yes, Lineta did sound a little curious about him, didn't she?

    Thanks, Joel! I've given this story more thought than any normal person probably should, but it's hard to know how other people are taking it. So glad you're enjoying.
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    The Tyndorans favorite word: No.

    Yeah, I thought there was something fishy about them but clearly I'm not quite as perceptive as Adele as I didn't expect them to be flat out liars. But apparently not everyone here is happy with their government's web of lies. A very interesting development and one that might put the captain into a tough spot down the road.

    If you allow me to be blunt, I did think that the dialog here was a little too expository. I know that as a writer you always want to put exposition into dialog as much as possible instead of packing it into the prose but it felt a tad overdone here. And I realize that I was the one complaining about some of the things that Adele actually explains here for the frist time ... such as the intimidating looks of the Tesseract and so on. What can I say, some people just cannot be pleased.

    I really dig the way the story is developing, though.
  9. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    But -- but -- that was totally a special present just for you, CeJay! :lol: Too funny that you're the one who didn't like it. No pleasing you, indeed! (I guess I DID pack it in there a bit heavily ... it was late and I was tired when I was editing that chapter ... if I had it to do over again I'm thinking it would be about half as much information.)

    Thanks for the kind comments and the constructive criticism. I'm glad you're enjoying the story overall.
  10. Warp Rider

    Warp Rider Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    May 1, 2009
    Another Galaxy. Canada.

    But that's one of the key principles of Star Trek. :p

    And you're welcome. ^_^
  11. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 14, 2009
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    I am very excited about finally meeting the Tyndorans in person! English major here - I can't get enough exposition (I'm not allowed to watch movies w/ the child because I'm always too busy 'splainin' things)! Yes, it does make for less than natural speech but in a first contact situation getting to know each other will require a bit of well, exposition.

    I know the Tyndorans have been less than forthcoming but I appreciate their caution and think their lack of disclosure may be self protection. I'm also glad to see Adele stretching her Betazoid muscles.

    Every chapter makes me want more! Thanks!
  12. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001

    This is why people join Starfleet, thought Ensign Marcus Lindley as he walked through the corridors of the parliamentary offices of a world he was fairly certain no human had ever seen before. He thought of Alex back on the Sol and felt sorry for him. He would have loved to have seen this. Tyndoran architecture was heavy on the domes, arches and spires traditional to so many cultures in the galaxy, but the fact that this colony was fairly newly constructed meant that everything was shiny and state of the art.

    He felt a little like a small child on a school field trip as he, Ryzal and T’Pring were ushered from room to room within the cavernous building. Midran, their guide, was polite, but seemingly bored, and really wasn’t saying much of interest himself. Marcus preferred to take in the view with his eyes, trying as hard as he could to memorize everything. He wished he had brought a holo-imager, but then again, he supposed it would be neither wise nor diplomatic of him to start snapping pictures of the paranoid Tyndorans and their hidden little world.

    As he glanced back down the spacious hallway in the direction that they had just come from, he did a double-take, convinced his eyes were playing tricks on him. What the hell? He could have sworn that out of the corner of his eye, he had seen someone with the gray-green skin and black armor of a Borg drone. He instinctively reached out to tap Ryzal on the arm, but when he looked again, there was nothing there but the empty corridor. Obviously, he was more affected by the underlying worries over the Tesseract mission than he had previously thought. He realized his fears about those broken Borg cubes had clearly taken up permanent residence somewhere in his subconscious. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind.

    “Is there something wrong, Ensign?” Ryzal asked.

    “No, sir,” Marcus replied. “My eyes were playing tricks on me, that’s all. It’s been a long week.”

    Ryzal nodded. “It has been for us all.” He fixed his reptilian gaze on Marcus thoughtfully for another moment before looking away. Marcus took a last long look down the wide hallway to reassure himself that it was, indeed, empty.

    “This is our hospitality room,” Midran was saying as they approached a large, arched opening in the wall. The group walked in, and Marcus saw that it was a bar -- a nearly empty bar. One lonely staffer sat behind the counter, wiping out a glass, and a single patron sat in front of him, sipping a fire-orange drink. There were tables and chairs in the rest of the room, and Marcus could see a single pair of Tyndorans sitting at one of them, talking quietly. That was it. A quiet night, he guessed, though he suddenly realized he had no idea what time it was on this world.

    Midran looked at the group. “Would you care for a drink?”

    Marcus was tempted, but his superiors both shook their heads and said, “No, thank you.” As Marcus looked again at the drink, which appeared to glow, he acknowledged the wisdom of their answer. There was no telling what that stuff would do to the human body. Or the Vulcan body. Or the Saurian body.

    “The fire water has a unique flavor, it is not to be missed,” Midran assured them. “I will make sure you each have a bottle as a parting gift.”

    “Thank you,” replied T’Pring politely.

    “Your Captain is coming,” Midran said, looking over T’Pring’s shoulder and out the door of the hospitality room. Marcus turned around to see Adele, flanked by Lineta and Nyreni, walking into the bar area. Adele, with her tall, athletic frame and wildly curly black hair, made an interesting contrast to the shorter, frail, and completely bald Tyndoran women.

    Glancing around at the scene, Adele said, “I hate to spoil anyone’s fun, but we have a mission to continue and a ship full of people who need us back by the time they want to jump to slipstream.”

    “Yes, ma’am,” Marcus answered, as Ryzal and T’Pring nodded.

    Within a half-hour, the group had brought the first contact mission to a formal end and beamed back up to the Sol plus one case of Tyndoran “fire water,” as the universal translator had put it, and a few artistic-looking trinkets. Marcus noticed that the captain seemed very preoccupied as they departed, and he wondered what she and the Tyndorans had discussed during the hour or so he and the others had toured the facilities.

    As soon as they stepped off the transporter pad back on board the Sol, Adele started giving orders. “Lindley, transfer the transporter data on that to sickbay and get Doctor Marchenko to analyze it and make sure it won’t kill you,” she said, pointing to the case of liquor. “Ryzal, analyze the transporter data on the art pieces just to be sure. T’Pring, you’re with me.” T’Pring nodded and followed Adele out the door and into the corridor.

    Marcus shrugged and transferred the appropriate transporter files to sickbay. He also grabbed a single bottle of liquor out of the case and took it with him for Irina to see for herself. He shook his head as he walked out the door. At least the Russian doctor was always interesting.

    He walked into sickbay to find Irina sound asleep in a chair. He shook her awake. “You know, the biobed would be more comfortable,” he suggested with an amused smile.

    She blinked a few times and apologized in her thick accent, “I’m sorry. It’s getting late and there is just nothing going on. I guess this means the surface team is back? Are you sick? Injured?” She sounded almost hopeful as she quizzed him about his condition, and Marcus almost hated to disappoint her.

    “We’re all fine,” he replied.

    A look of chagrin briefly appeared on her face, then she quickly recovered and asked, “Then why are you here?”

    Marcus held up the bottle of orange liquor. Irina grinned. “Rebellion. I like it,” she replied, “but you forgot to replicate the glasses.”

    Marcus rolled his eyes. “It’s from the planet. Real liquor, not replicated. There’s a whole box of it in the transporter room, enough for everyone to have a bottle. Captain wants you to make sure it won’t kill us. I transferred the molecular data from the transporter to your console here.”

    “Damn,” said Irina. “You gave me hope for a little excitement, and all I get is scans. You are useless, Ensign Lindley,” she said, only half joking. She consulted her console and found the file. She stared at it for several moments, scrolling through it as she did. Finally, she produced a verdict.

    “It won’t kill you,” she proclaimed matter-of-factly. “You might have one hell of a hangover, but it won’t kill you. If you drink too much of it, come and see me. I can fix the hangover.”

    Marcus nodded at the doctor. “Thanks.”

    “Oh, and Ensign, it will hit you fast.” Irina smiled. “So be careful. How many bottles of this did you bring back, again?”

    “Thirty-eight. Everyone on the mission gets one, and I guess the captain probably gets the extras, or maybe they'll go to Ten Forward.”

    “I can’t wait to try it,” exclaimed Irina, eyeing the colorful drink. “Looks like a good time.” She smiled that smile he had seen a couple of times before, the one that made him feel like the attractive thirty-something doctor was undressing him with her eyes, thinking about eating him for lunch, or possibly both. He blushed under her lascivious gaze. He wasn’t interested, but he was flattered.

    “Hey, what makes it glow?” he asked suddenly.

    “A bio-luminescent chemical reaction,” she replied. “Have you ever seen a firefly?” she asked. He shook his head no. Relva VII did not have fireflies, and he had attended an Academy annex on another colony world. Even though he was human, he had never actually been to Earth. “Well, it’s the same concept,” Irina told him, adding, “If you drink it in the dark, your tongue might glow, too. Along with anything it touches.” She smirked and handed him the bottle. “Enjoy.”

    “I will,” Marcus replied. The festive drink seemed like a great excuse for a party -- a fun social distraction which, he decided as he recalled his brief but unnerving encounter with his subconscious in the corridor, he obviously sorely needed. He would plan one as soon as they got back.


    On the bridge of the Sol, Adele ordered Adrian Keller to cooperate with the Tyndorans to get them back through the shield and cloak and on their way to rendezvous with the Tesseract. She then ordered T’Pring to accompany her to the ready room.

    There, for the first time, she pulled the small object Ordi’te’s first officer had given her out of her pocket and looked at it. “What do you make of this, T’Pring?” she asked.

    T’Pring raised an eyebrow as she also regarded the shiny, lightly ridged metal object. It was flat and four-sided, with irregular sides and angles, the longest side being less than three centimeters long. “I do not recognize it. May I ask where you obtained that, Captain?”

    “One of Ordi’te’s officers slipped it to me in secret in the corridor after our meeting. I don’t know what it is or why he gave it to me, but I need to know it’s not a security risk before I take it back to the Tesseract.

    “Did you notify the Tyndorans?” asked T’Pring.

    Adele sighed. “No, I did not. My empathic senses told me Lineta and her advisers were lying to us. I don’t know what the truth is about all this, but I do know lies when I hear them. I’m certain they know much more about what’s happening to the Borg than they’re letting on. And the feeling I got from Ordi’te’s officer is that he was telling me a secret by handing me this -- whatever it is.”

    T’Pring eyed her captain coolly. She found that decision most unwise. If her emotions weren’t so tightly controlled, she would have been irritated by her superior officer’s illogic, just as she had to consciously choose not to be irritated by all Betazoids, who seemed to her to be utterly ruled by their feelings, even more so than the humans were. Even this human-Betazoid hybrid with no more than a quarter of her biology in common with the race was allowing her senses to run away with her judgment, and somehow, it seemed even worse, because she had far less telepathic skill than a full Betazoid. Nonetheless, Adele was in charge. T’Pring would support her. “Engineering has the most detailed scanner,” she finally said, sounding dispassionate.

    “Then that’s where we’re going,” Adele said, rising from her chair. “Come with me.”

    When they arrived, Adele saw that the Andorian lieutenant -- Telek, she recalled from a conversation they had engaged in during the trip to Tyndora -- was serving as chief engineer, and she motioned him over. “Lieutenant Telek. I need you to scan this,” she said, handing him the object. “Make sure it’s not a tracking device or a weapon.”

    Telek took the object and walked it over to a small scanning platform, where he set it down. He tapped the console quickly, and the scanner lit up under the object. After a few moments, a schematic popped up on the screen, with text scrolling rapidly beside the diagram.

    “It’s some kind of data storage,” Telek said, narrowing his eyes at the screen. “Whatever is stored on there is heavily encrypted, but in and of itself, the object is no security risk. It’s not transmitting anything, it’s not going to blow us up, it’s just ... data. I wouldn’t try to download anything from it without taking some precautions, of course. It could contain a virus.”

    “Understood. Do you think you can take the necessary precautions and break the encryption?”

    “No, sir, I cannot,” answered Telek. “At least, I can’t do that and run engineering at the same time. If you want to use the warp drive to catch up with the Tesseract, my focus will have to be on preparing for that.”

    Adele pressed her lips together, and Telek could see she was not pleased, but to her credit, she seemed to be a captain who acknowledged the limitations of her crew. “Very well,” she said, picking up the little object. “I’ll wait until we get back and have O’Connor do it. How long to the Tesseract at maximum warp?”

    Telek smiled, his antennae dancing. “Give me an hour or so to get everything up and running and make sure it checks out, plus put a little distance between us and the planet. After that, we’re seconds away.”

    Adele shook her head and smiled. “Seconds to make a trip that just took us two days. How I’ve missed warp drive,” she said appreciatively. “Contact Borux, see how long they have before they’re clear of the ruptures.”

    “Aye, Captain.”

    Adele and T’Pring returned to the bridge just in time to see the image on the viewscreen once again briefly distort as three Tyndoran ships surrounded them and activated the energy field that would enable them to slip past the cloak and shield. Adrian held the ship steady in formation as they passed the invisible barrier, then the Tyndoran ships broke away and disappeared behind the barrier again.

    T’Pring took up her position behind the science console. “Shall I resume scans, Captain?” she asked.

    “Yes, Lieutenant.” She looked around the bridge. “Everyone resume scans. Let’s see what’s out there between us and the Tesseract.”

    Adrian glanced over at Adele. “So ... interesting people? Successful mission?” he asked curiously.

    Adele looked at him wearily. “Definitely interesting. As for success ... I have no idea.”
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Interesting twists discovered on this away mission. It could be the Tyndorans are just being overly cautious because of their vulnerability to the Borg. However, it's equally likely that they know something important that could assist Tesseract in it's assignment in the DQ.

    I liked the Vulcan perspective on Adele's actions, and the fact that T'Pring held her opinion in check. Often times, healthy skepticism can be an asset, most especially when the officer in question knows the critical difference between when to voice one's concerns, and when to keep quiet.

    Great chapter.
  14. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France
    Another great chapter indeed.

    I felt this showed some really, really solid writing that kept me going from beginning to end. I really enjoyed the change in POVs which seem so natural, and really interesting to see this mission through different eyes. Your ensign is a good character, though I wonder why he isn't interested in the man-eating doctor??

    As for the Tyndorans, I'll be interested to see what they're hiding and why, as well as whether what ensign Marcus saw was real or not.

    Can't wait for more!!! ;)
  15. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 14, 2009
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    Borg lurking around deserted corridors! Thanks!
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    What nerve you've got complaining about other writers leaving you hanging. I wanna know what's on this data device. And Marcus just happens to imagine seeing Borgs wandering around ... right. Something ain't right here ...
  17. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    Creepy avatar! Thanks! :lol:

    Very funny, CeJay! :lol: Relax, they're scheduled to be back on the Tesseract in an hour or so and Maren is pretty good at hacking into stuff. You don't believe our green little ensign Lindley is just kind of scared, though? :borg:

    Thanks for the compliments, Joel! It was fun for me to look at the situation through different eyes than the usual suspects for a chapter. (You know what I want to see in your story? A chapter from the POV of the Borg engineers.) Ensign Lindley is a nice guy. The major reason he's less than interested in Irina is that he's got his eye on someone else. We'll see if he's imagining things re: the Borg.

    Thanks for the review! Like I said on Ad Astra, Adele is pretty sure the Tyndorans know something, but despite her suspicions, it's completely understandable that they would just want to hide their rebuilt civilization from the Borg, too. Hard call for all the people under her, including T'Pring, who is a Starfleet officer to the core, but also very Vulcan. So while she's perfectly willing to follow orders, she has some definite opinions of her own regarding any choice she finds illogical. :vulcan:
  18. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001

    “Oyugo to O’Connor.” As Maren was pulled out of her sleep by the sound of her combadge, it took her a moment to realize where she was. Her neck and shoulders tensed in pain as she picked her head up off the desk inside her private office in main engineering. I can’t believe I fell asleep working, she chided herself. John’s right, I need to get a life. Groggily, she tapped her combadge.

    “O’Connor here, Captain.”

    “We’re back from the planet. I need to speak with Commander Icheb, and there’s something I need to show you, as well. Please interrupt his regeneration cycle and report with him to the bridge.”

    Maren stifled a groan. “Aye, Captain,” she replied, rubbing her eyes and trying to wake up. What time is it? she thought, looking at the console chronometer. 0131 hours. She must have fallen asleep right after the shift change. Wonderful. Not only did she have to go wake Icheb up for the second night in a row, she would have to explain her lack of progress on the insane plan for the slipstream drive, and admit that what she had once thought was the greatest idea the two of them had ever had was probably impossible, at least with their current technology.

    She glanced over at the half-finished remote she had started to build for Icheb’s alcove the previous morning. It would have been done by now if it hadn’t been for the Qs’ little visit turning a normal day into a stressful, jam-packed one. She sighed and stood up, checking her reflection in the small window of her office and quickly fixing her hair, which was disheveled from her unplanned nap.

    She downloaded “Plan Z” into a PADD and carried it with her as she headed for Icheb’s quarters, ignoring the bemused stares of the engineering staff, who looked at their supervisor as if wondering if she was really human. At this point, she didn’t feel like she was. Her shift was supposed to have ended at 1600 hours, but she had been working nonstop since the briefing, had skipped dinner completely, and her brain felt like it had turned to mush from all the formulas she had been working on. For an instant, she considered going to sickbay for a stimulant, but quickly decided the last thing she needed was to be even more jumpy and irritable when dealing with Icheb, especially in front of the captain.

    Given the late hour, she didn’t even bother buzzing the intercom at Icheb’s door; she just entered her security override and walked in, crossing the darkened living area by memory from the night before. Like the previous night, she increased the ambient light in the bedroom just enough so she could see what she was doing.

    As she moved to the small console beside the bed to halt the regeneration cycle, she suddenly hesitated and looked down at Icheb for a long moment. Her heartbeat quickened as she thought about how easy it would be to just contact Dr. Bashir right now, have him meet her in Icheb’s room, and tell him everything she knew about his condition. The doctor could scan to his heart’s content and Icheb would never know a thing as long as she kept him regenerating. Her hand almost involuntarily moved toward her combadge, but she froze. He would never, ever forgive me for that, she decided. She balled her suddenly shaking hands into fists and took a deep breath to try to calm down.

    Icheb remained completely unaware of her presence as she reached down and softly touched his forehead with her fingers, smoothing his hair to the side. The total vulnerability the regeneration cycle exposed him to had scared the hell out of her the first few times she had spent the night with him, but eventually, she had gotten used to it. Now, she realized, she was frightened again. As she recognized the line she was crossing by touching him, she quickly pulled her hand away and took a step back from the bed. Way to be creepy and inappropriate, Maren, she admonished herself. Abruptly, she turned to the alcove’s control panel, tapped at it briefly and brought Icheb out of his stasis-like state. “Warning. Regeneration cycle incomplete,” the computer cautioned. Icheb looked around in confusion for a moment until he saw Maren standing next to him, and sat up. Just as they had the night before, they stared at each other awkwardly.

    “Captain Oyugo is back,” Maren said, frustrated at the shakiness of her own voice. “She wants to see both of us on the bridge.”

    “Both of us?” Icheb asked.

    “I don’t know why,” Maren replied, managing to sound a bit steadier. “She said she wants to talk to you and that she has something to show me.”

    Icheb stared at Maren for a moment, then said, “I’ll get dressed. Are you going to wait for me, or should I meet you there?”

    Maren sighed. “I’ll wait. I have something I need to show you.” She walked out to the living area and had the computer turn on the lights. Within moments, Icheb had changed out of his sleep clothes and into his uniform and emerged from his bedroom, fussing with his hair.

    “It looks perfect,” Maren told him flatly.

    Icheb gave her a wary look and let his hand drop away from his head. “Thank you,” he replied, as if he was unsure whether to trust the compliment. “What did you need to show me?”

    “We can talk on the way,” she replied, heading for the door. “The captain is waiting for us.”

    Icheb nodded and followed her into the corridor, and the door slid shut behind them.

    Maren handed over the PADD as they walked toward the turbolift. “Plan Z is impossible. This ship just wasn’t built for those stresses, and the sum total of every power source on the ship isn’t enough to increase field integrity as much as we would need to in order to survive.”

    Icheb took the PADD and looked at it, taking in the information. Remaining intractably unconvinced, he looked at Maren. “If the captain returned safely, we don’t need this contingency plan yet. But I want you to keep working on it, and if you’d allow me to work on it with you, I think we can -- ”

    “Icheb.” Maren cut him off. “I said impossible. I didn’t say ‘needs a little work.’ I said impossible. If you look at what I’ve done and disagree, then you can propose something else, but I’m telling you, it can’t be done. If we ever try it, we’re all dead ... at best. That’s assuming we don’t take out a whole sector with us.”

    “What about modifying the impulse drive? How far did your teams get with that option?”

    “Nothing new to report since Beta shift. The Luna is ready. We’re still working on a plan for the Tesseract. We’ll clear the subspace damage by morning, though, and with the captain back, I assume we’ll be re-entering slipstream.”

    Icheb nodded. “I’ll look at this more thoroughly in the morning,” he said, indicating the PADD she had given him. “Perhaps you just need a second set of eyes to look at the problem.”

    “Have fun with that,” she sighed as they arrived at the turbolift. “But I think you’ll be wasting your time.”

    As they stood inside the turbolift, they were standing close enough together that Icheb could smell the light scent of Maren’s favorite perfume, the one that smelled like the lavender that grew all around her childhood home back on Earth. He breathed it in, and a thousand moments came rushing back to him, all made perfectly clear by his Borg-enhanced memory. For a moment, he closed his eyes, trying to shut them out, but it was ineffective. He remembered everything, and none of the memories playing back like so many data files in his mind were helping him succeed in his effort to give her the space she kept asking for.

    “Computer, halt turbolift,” he said impulsively.

    Maren looked at him sharply. “What are you doing?”

    Icheb turned to face her. “Are we ever going to discuss this? Us, I mean. Discuss us.”

    Maren stiffened. “Computer, resume turbolift.” She looked pointedly at Icheb. “The captain is waiting.”

    Icheb sighed. She was right. Now was not the time. But if not now, then when? he thought impatiently. “I’m sorry,” he said, staring ahead at the turbolift doors.

    Maren sighed as the doors slid open and they exited into the corridor outside the bridge. “So am I.”

    They walked onto the bridge and buzzed the door of the captain’s ready room. “Come,” said Adele, and the door slid open. The two officers walked in and, at Adele’s request, sat down in the visitors’ chairs in front of her desk, which Icheb had already decided he was going to miss now that the captain had returned. It was a really nice desk.

    “Sorry to wake you, Commander,” said Adele. She looked at Maren, whom the computer had indicated was in her office when Adele had asked for her location. “Do you ever sleep, Lieutenant?” she asked curiously.

    The young chief engineer nodded tiredly. “Occasionally, Captain,” she answered with a weak smile.

    Adele could sense an awful tension between the two officers, and guessed Icheb’s attempt at reconnection had not gone well. The misery of both was so palpable it gave Adele a headache. She could only imagine what it was doing to them. Deciding it was none of her business as long as they both kept doing their jobs, she shook her head and moved on.

    “The first contact with the Tyndorans was interesting,” she said. “There are no longer three billion of them,” she added, glancing at Icheb. “If their story is accurate, the Borg took care of that sometime after you left the Collective. From the looks of their home world, I’d say at least that part is true. They’re now living on a small planetoid near the fifth planet, and it’s completely cloaked. I received almost no useful information from them. They wouldn’t let us run scans, and they claimed not to know what’s been happening to the Borg. They did say it’s happened a lot more often than we’ve yet seen evidence of and that the damage to subspace is becoming an inconvenience to many cultures.”

    “What does that mean for our mission?” asked Maren. “Are you saying we’re not going to be able to make it to the Delta Quadrant?”

    “I’m not sure of anything, yet,” replied Adele. “However, I’m fairly sure they were lying to me about not knowing what’s causing the ruptures. I also believe they know what happened to the Borg cube. And one of them gave me this, in secret,” she said, pulling out the data chip Ordi’te’s second-in-command had given her.

    “What is it?” asked Icheb, reaching out to take it from her and get a closer look.

    “Lieutenant Telek says it’s some sort of data storage,” Adele answered, as Icheb and Maren leaned closer together to squint at the small, shiny object. “He says it’s heavily encrypted. I thought we would take a walk down to your office and take a better look at it,” she said, looking at Maren.

    Maren nodded. “Yes, Captain,” she said, reaching out and taking the storage device out of Icheb’s hand. The trio rose and walked out of the ready room and off the bridge, taking the turbolift down to main engineering, where the engineering staff once again looked at their supervisor as if she was insane. Icheb noticed this.

    “Why are they looking at you like that?” he whispered.

    “Because I’ve been here since 0800 and the only break I took was for your briefing about Junior,” replied Maren quietly.

    “Get some sleep, that’s an order,” he told her, giving her a slightly worried glance.

    “Yes, sir,” she replied, too exhausted to think of any other response. She led Adele and Icheb into her small office and placed the tiny data storage unit on a scanning platform. She activated the scanner, and after a few moments, the same schematic of the device and its accompanying scrolling code popped up on her desk display as Adele had seen on the Sol.

    Maren sat down at her chair in front of the screen and said, “Okay, let’s see what we’ve got.” Icheb pulled a visitor’s chair out of the corner and offered it to Adele, who declined. Instead, Icheb sat down next to Maren, while Adele remained standing, watching them. In a strange way, they almost reminded Adele of the pair of Bynars she’d had as co-chief engineers of her last starship assignment. The only noise in the room was the sound of Maren’s fingers softly tapping at the console, as she and Icheb pointed to different things on the desk display, apparently having an entire discussion with nothing but facial expressions and the occasional gesture toward the screen. She noted with some relief that at least the horrific tension between them seemed to have diminished for the moment. Finally, Adele saw them exchange a bewildered, worried look.

    “You know, I’m an empath, not a mind reader,” she finally said in exasperation. “Would you mind letting me in on this silent chat you’re having?” They looked up in surprise, as if they had forgotten she was standing there.

    “I’m sorry, Captain,” Maren said quickly, exchanging another glance with Icheb. “Where did you say you got this?”

    “From a Tyndoran. The first officer of the ship that led us there. I don’t even know his name,” she realized aloud.

    “It’s encrypted data, all right,” said Maren. “But the encryption protocols appear to be Borg.” Icheb nodded, endorsing her assessment.

    Adele raised her eyebrows. “Well, that’s certainly interesting,” she said, trying to keep her voice as controlled as possible. “And what does it say?”

    “We don’t know,” answered Icheb. “It’s an unfamiliar code, one I haven’t seen before, but it’s definitely Borg.”

    “Well,” replied Adele, “it looks like my instincts were right about the Tyndorans knowing more than they let on about the Borg. But somehow, being right seems like cold comfort at the moment.” She sighed. “Can you break the encryption?” Icheb and Maren looked at each other and nodded.

    “Most likely, Captain, but it will take some time,” Maren replied.

    Icheb jumped in quickly. “Lieutenant O’Connor will start working on it first thing tomorrow, after she has gotten some sleep,” he told Adele, shooting Maren a pointed glance. Maren opened her mouth to protest, but Adele shook her head and held up her hand, cutting her off.

    “No, he’s right. It’s very late, and you look exhausted. The last thing I want is my chief engineer out sick when we’re about to jump to slipstream again. Work on it first thing tomorrow -- I mean, later today,” she corrected herself, glancing at the chronometer and sighing.

    “Yes, Captain,” Maren replied.

    “Commander, I want you to help her work on it. I’m sure you’re more familiar with Borg encryption protocols than she is.”

    “I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Captain,” he replied, glancing at Maren with the faintest trace of a smile. “But I’ll assist her.”

    Adele nodded and thanked them for their help, then headed for her own quarters to get some much-needed sleep, leaving Icheb and Maren standing in the relative privacy of the small office. Icheb looked at the mess of technology on Maren’s desk. “Is that what I think it is?” he asked.

    Maren looked at him. “That depends on what you think it is.”

    “A remote for my alcove.”

    Maren nodded, and Icheb studied her for a moment.

    “Ingenious,” he finally said. “I wonder why no one ever thought of that before.”

    Maren sighed. “Perhaps they lacked sufficient motivation,” she replied dryly. “Like overwhelming awkwardness.”

    “You don’t have to keep doing this, Maren,” Icheb said pleadingly. “We can talk about this.”

    “Don’t I?” she asked quietly. “I touched you,” she confessed. “Right before I woke you up, I touched your hair. I thought you should know. You can put me on report, it was inappropriate and I’m sorry.”

    Icheb looked at her as if trying to figure out why she was telling him this. “I’m not going to put you on report,” he said tiredly. He smiled slightly and added, “But that explains why my hair required more attention than usual.”

    “Don’t be nice to me about this, Icheb,” Maren protested. “I crossed a line I shouldn’t have crossed. It was a terribly unprofessional thing to do.”

    “Maren, if touching my hair is a reportable offense, what do you think the captain should do to me for kissing you our first night on board?”

    “Throw you in the brig for a month,” Maren replied levelly.

    Icheb couldn’t tell if she was serious or not, and his eyes widened a little. “Are you kidding?” he asked.

    “Mostly,” she admitted. “But a month without you breathing down my neck might give me a chance to figure out how to coexist with you by the time you were released.” She sighed. “You’re pushing too hard, Icheb. I need time to think. I need time to get used to you again, and figure some things out.”

    “I might not have much time left,” Icheb reminded her quietly.

    It was the wrong thing to say, and Maren looked like she had been slapped. Slowly, and coldly, she replied, “Perhaps you should have thought of that at some point during the last two years.”

    Icheb sighed. He deserved that. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

    “You’re right, you shouldn’t have,” agreed Maren. She sighed. “It’s after two in the morning. You’re going to be late for Alpha shift even if you start regenerating right now, and you still have to walk back to your quarters. I’m beyond exhausted, and we both have a long day ahead of us trying to crack this code tomorrow.” Not to mention gel packs and light speed and jumping to slipstream and this Plan Z nonsense, she thought to herself. Her level of exhaustion increased just thinking about it all.

    Icheb nodded. “Get some rest,” he said. “I’ll meet you back here in the morning.”

    Maren looked apprehensive, but nodded in reply. She took the Tyndoran data storage device off the scanner and locked it away in her desk. “Good night,” she said to Icheb, and opened the door for him to leave.

    “Good night,” he replied, glancing back at her as he walked away.
  19. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France
    Hey k7

    Wow, another great chapter - you really excell at these character moments, and the relationship between Icheb and Maren is so realistic it's almost painful. I think you've really captured the way that kind of relationship would work and Maren especially is reacting in a very real, visceral way - her reactions at the end were especially life-like. You keep on proving how 3-dimensional these characters are, while giving us an intriguing plot that keeps us all coming back for more.

    I especially loved this bit at the end plot wise:

    Such a simple little phrase and yet one that really brings into focus everything your characters have to deal with.

    And the Tyndorans having a Borg-encryption code?!!! :eek: What is going on there?

    Love it, love it, love it! Since I know you've been having a bad couple of days, not going to be all pushy as usual and say MORE MORE MORE... But you can bet I'm thinking it!!! :lol:

    Thanks again for this wonderful story,

  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    The Tesseract has the hardest working crew in Starfleet. Nobody ever goes to sleep on this ship and when they do, somebody goes and gets them up in the middle of the night. Well, I guess that's the lot of a Starfleet officer.

    My sympathy keeps shifting between Maren and Icheb. Right now I feel she is right and Icheb is pushing her too hard ... but of course he can't stop thinking about her ... and then there is his condition ... It's all a big mess of a relationship but a hell of a read.

    Great stuff.