Star Trek: Tesseract

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

  1. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    CHAPTER FOUR

    Adele glanced at the chronometer and groaned. She set the PADD she’d been reviewing down on the side table and rubbed her eyes. Once again, she had stayed up far too late reading all she could about the history and politics of the Delta Quadrant as the Federation understood it. She had read the same reports over and over again, but she felt the need to keep the details fresh in her mind. With barely more than two days left before launch, reviewing the data helped her feel more ready.

    It also made her feel exhausted. She had taken her evening meal in her room, reading as she picked at a bowl of replicated pasta. She had then drifted to the sofa, where she sat now, feeling foolish for staying up, knowing she would regret the choice in the morning. Slowly, she stretched and stood up. She had changed out of her uniform several hours ago, so all that was left was to clean up and get in bed.

    As she brushed her teeth, she stared into the large mirror in her nicely appointed lavatory. At 44, she still had the smooth dark skin of her early youth, but the years had started to take their toll in other ways. She thought she had aged more quickly in her last six years as a Captain than at any other time. She noted the first hints of lines developing around the dark black eyes that were a genetic gift from her maternal grandmother, a Betazoid. She also saw how tired those eyes looked.

    In most ways, she was as energetic as ever, and she certainly felt up to the task of commanding the Tesseract. But the battles of the past weighed on her, as did the loss of her husband at the Battle of Wolf 359 eighteen years prior. Had it really been so long? They had been newlyweds then, ensigns both, serving on the USS Endeavour. Theirs had been the sole surviving ship of the 40 that engaged the Borg, but Ken Oyugo had been one of the casualties. She was thankful that he had been killed rather than assimilated as so many others had been that awful day, but she still missed him keenly all these years later. She had never found love again. Then again, she had never really looked for it. She had thrown herself into her work to compensate for her loss, and everyone who had ever sought more than friendship with her, she had pushed away.

    She finished brushing her teeth, rinsed her mouth and wiped the edge of the sink off. As she turned to shut off the light and head for bed, her communicator chirped. The voice of Lieutenant Borux, the Denobulan officer commanding the night watch, said, “Captain Oyugo, please report to the bridge. We are receiving a distress call.”

    I guess I should have slept when I had the chance, Adele thought. “On my way,” she replied aloud, and strode over to the closet that held her clothing. She quickly pulled on the dark red high-necked shirt and sleek black and grey flightsuit that made up her uniform and affixed four pips to her collar. She slipped on her boots and headed for the turbolift.

    When she arrived on the bridge moments later, the bridge crew was receiving an incoming transmission from Starfleet. “Send it to my ready room,” Adele requested. “Yes, sir,” replied the ensign at the communications console. Borux handed the Captain a PADD with data on the distress call as she walked off the bridge to receive the transmission.

    In her ready room, Adele sat down at her desk, glanced briefly at the PADD she was holding, and activated the viewscreen. Admiral Ben McAllister’s aged face appeared on the screen.

    “Captain Oyugo. How are the preparations going?”

    “Fine, sir. We’re set to launch on schedule, but you should know we just received a distress call.” She glanced back down at the PADD. “It was from the science colony on Aris 4.”

    “That’s why I’m contacting you,” replied the Admiral. “The Tesseract is the closest vessel to the area by three days, and the only one with slipstream capability. I want you to respond. Time is critical, we’ve lost all communication with the colony, and the sensor data they transmitted with their initial distress call indicated a massive explosion.”

    Adele looked back down at the PADD, which held the same data the Admiral was describing. Her eyes widened when she saw the data on the explosion. “Yes, sir, I have that information here,” she said, “but we’re in no way ready to respond. Nearly half our crew isn’t even here yet, we’re expecting them to arrive on transports later today. And Engineering hasn’t finished running final checks, yet.”

    “I’m sorry, Captain, I can’t give you more time. There are 113 people at that colony who need assistance now. You’re the only vessel close enough to give it to them. You’re a clever problem solver; I’m confident you’ll figure something out. Good luck, Captain.” With that, McAllister’s face disappeared from the screen. Adele sighed heavily.

    She thought for a moment, and quickly came up with a possible solution. The auxiliary ships. The tactical and rescue teams. They haven’t trained yet, but they know their assignments, and most of them are already on board. Adele quickly pulled up the roster for Tactical and Rescue Team Alpha, and tapped her comm. badge. “Captain Oyugo to Commander Icheb,” she said.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  2. Kaziarl

    Kaziarl Commodore Commodore

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    Is that the same Cartwright from trek 6? I figured he'd be in the slammer.

    One thing I have noticed in a lot of trek is the under-prepared ship answering a distress signal. I've done it too, I admit. I just hope you don't start saying that things wont arrive till Tuesday.

    other then that, another good addition. Keep it up.
     
  3. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, it wasn't MEANT to be the same one ... changing his name to eliminate confusion. Too many names in Trek ... can't keep it all straight.

    ETA -- nothing is arriving on Tuesday, don't worry. :)
     
  4. Kaziarl

    Kaziarl Commodore Commodore

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    :lol::lol: So true... I run across that all the time...
     
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, it appears Tesseract's space trials will begin a bit sooner than planned. Whoever's messing with that colony is going to get quiet a surprise when that ship arrives in orbit. :lol:

    A good installment!
     
  6. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :bolian::bolian::bolian: Keep it coming! :bolian::bolian::bolian:
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    Adele is very much the typical starship captain, married to her command. And then again in some ways she strikes me as a rather unique individual as well. It be interesting to see where you take her.

    If your deft handling of your characters is any indication, I'm looking forward to see what you've got planned for the plot.
     
  8. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    CHAPTER FIVE

    Icheb stepped through the open door into Maren’s quarters and looked around. The rush of familiarity he felt as he took in the view disoriented him. The Earth art on the walls, the images of favorite places Maren had traveled -- mostly places they had traveled together -- cycling on the viewscreen, the small crucifix beside the bed, and the barely perceptible scent of Maren’s longtime favorite perfume gave him the feeling of stepping back in time several years, to a much happier place.

    The door slid shut behind Maren as she entered the room. He turned to face her, and they both froze, staring at each other as silently as they had on the bridge a few hours before.

    “Why are you here?” Maren asked, her voice defiant but shaky.

    “Starfleet believed my experience in the Delta Quadrant, particularly with the Borg, would be valuable to this mission,” answered Icheb, though he knew it wasn’t the meaning of her question.

    “Of course they did,” agreed Maren impatiently, and clarified: “Why are you here in my quarters?”

    Icheb hesitated before answering. The difficulty was, he didn’t really have a good answer for that. He wondered about it himself. What had he hoped to accomplish by coming here?

    Earlier, he had told himself he would try to smooth things over, appeal to Maren’s sense of duty and convince her they could have a civil and professional relationship for the sake of the mission. Only, he wasn’t completely sure of that himself. Standing face-to-face with the woman he had once asked to be his wife, he was suddenly overcome with the strange feeling that walking away from her might have been the wrong decision.

    He shoved the thought aside and forced himself to behave as her commanding officer. He said in an oddly formal voice, “After you left the bridge this afternoon, the Captain emphasized that it is my responsibility to keep things professional between us. I’ve come to ask for your assistance.” Maren’s eyes widened in apparent disbelief, then quickly narrowed.

    “With all due respect, Commander,” she said quietly, “I think we crossed that bridge a long time ago.”

    “Maren .... ” Icheb stopped himself from answering as he realized that she was correct. Any attempt to pretend otherwise would be futile. He couldn’t stop looking at her, and what he saw was not a department head -- what he saw was his wife, or at least the woman who should have been his wife. The thick blond hair in which he had so often tangled his fingers while in her embrace was secured with a simple clip at the nape of her neck. Her cheeks were flushed with emotion -- which emotions, he could only speculate. After nearly ten years separated from the Collective and living among humans, he still had occasional trouble navigating the subtleties of human feeling. By now, he was honestly unsure whether this was a Brunali trait or a permanent side effect of his programming by the Borg. He suspected the latter, but there was no way to be certain.

    Deciding to try a different approach, he carefully reached out and caressed Maren's cheek. When she didn’t immediately resist, he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. For a moment, she relaxed into him and returned his kiss as passionately as she ever had in their academy days. But then, as suddenly as the kiss had begun, it was over -- Maren pulled away and slapped him, hard. She cried out in pain.

    Icheb knew that had hurt Maren more than it hurt him. Most of the left side of his face under the skin was still solid metal Borg hardware, dense as armor, and Maren had struck him with her right hand. Given her detailed knowledge of his cybernetic systems, he was surprised she had made that mistake, but Maren often made tactical errors when she was angry. Wincing, she drew back her hand, cursed, and fought back angry tears.

    “What is wrong with you?” she cried. “What makes you think you have the right to just walk back into my life and kiss me like that after disappearing for two years?!”

    “I’m sorry,” said Icheb, stunned and embarrassed at his own inappropriateness. “Let me look at your hand. It might be fractured.”

    “Don’t worry about my hand, it’s fine,” Maren snapped. “It’s not your concern.”

    “It is my concern,” Icheb said insistently. “I’m the First Officer, and you’re part of my crew. It’s my responsibility to ensure your physical well-being.” Maren looked at him incredulously, and he realized how stupid that sounded given the line he had just crossed. He hesitated before continuing. “Maren, please. I care about you. I never stopped caring. I know you’re angry with me and you have every right to be. But I left you because I loved you. Please try to understand.”

    Looking as if she would hit him again if not for her sore hand, Maren hissed, “I don’t understand! I didn’t understand then, and I don’t understand now. One day, we were planning the rest of our lives together, and the next day, you decided for both of us that I’d somehow be better off without you. You’re right, I do not understand.”

    “Maren, I -- “

    She held up a hand to silence him. “Don’t, Icheb. Just don’t. There’s nothing you can say to make this better. I should never have taken this assignment.” Her voice wavered and the tears that filled her eyes threatened to spill over. “I let my curiosity get the better of my common sense -- that and my pride. I was so honored to be chosen as Chief Engineer of such an important mission, and all the stories you and the rest of the Voyager crew told about the Delta Quadrant all those years ... I just wanted to see it for myself. I figured you might be assigned here in some capacity, but as one of a crew of 1500, someone I could avoid! I never expected you to be my commanding officer.”

    Icheb opened his mouth to reply, but Maren wasn’t finished, and cut him off. “When did they make you a Commander, anyway? I know people with three times your experience who haven’t made that rank,” she exclaimed, shaking her head in disbelief.

    “You’re aware of the advantages my cranial implants give me, Maren,” Icheb replied. “I can’t just turn them off. I’ll continue to perform to the best of my ability, and if Starfleet chooses to keep advancing me, I’m not going to protest the decision.”

    Maren sighed and gave him a wary look. Her voice softened considerably. “Speaking of implants, I assume you haven’t told Starfleet about your prognosis yet, or they never would have sent you on this mission at all.” The tears she had been struggling to keep in finally started their journey down her cheeks. “My God, I’ve worried about you every day. After everything we went through together those last couple of years, I still can’t believe you just --”

    Icheb gently laid a hand on her shoulder, fighting the temptation to bring her closer. “I’m sorry, Maren, I am sorry. I should have explained, should have told you -- I was in shock and I wasn’t thinking clearly. But please try to understand, I was only trying to keep you from experiencing something worse.”

    “I didn’t need you to protect me, Icheb. I knew what I was in for and I chose to stay. And you of all people should know better than to try and face this alone. When Seven tried it -- ”

    “That was different," Icheb interrupted. "There was a clear way to save her --”

    It was Maren's turn to interrupt. “It wasn’t a clear way, it was a huge risk and everyone told you ‘No,’ and you did it anyway. And now you’re paying for it. The fact is, you don’t know for sure there’s not something Starfleet could do for you, and -- ” she was cut off by the sudden chirping sound of Icheb’s communicator.

    “Captain Oyugo to Commander Icheb.” Icheb and Maren both flinched at the sudden interruption. Icheb reluctantly tapped his comm. badge.

    “This is Commander Icheb. Go ahead, Captain.”

    “Report to my Ready Room immediately.”

    “Understood,” answered Icheb. He looked at Maren. She nodded stiffly.

    “Go,” she said. “It sounds like they need you down there.”

    “Maren. We have to discuss this -- all of it. We won’t make it through the next seven years if we don’t.”

    “Go, Icheb.” Maren was insistent this time. Icheb slowly nodded, rose and headed for the door. As he paused for it to open, he turned back and took another look at Maren. She was staring down at her bruised hand, lost in thought. Icheb left the room and the door slid shut behind him, reminding him too much of the last time he had left her.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2009
  9. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sector 001
    CHAPTER SIX

    Yawning, Lieutenant Commander Adrian Keller rubbed his eyes and set his comm. badge back down on the nightstand. He sat up, then leaned over and kissed his sleeping wife, who forced her eyes open to look at him.

    “Claire, honey, I have to report to the hangar deck. There’s been a distress call at Aris 4.”

    “What happened?” she mumbled, still half-asleep.

    “I don’t know. But don’t worry about it, darling, with the slipstream drive, I’ll probably be back before breakfast,” he reassured her in his clipped London accent. He kissed her one more time, got up and dressed quickly, then ran out the door without replicating his morning cup of tea.

    By the time Adrian arrived in the docking bay eight minutes later, most of the Tactical and Rescue Team had already assembled. A surprisingly young-looking officer with an unfamiliar nose ridge, some kind of metal implant on his face, and three pips on his collar was standing in the middle of a small crowd of about thirty people, holding a PADD and giving orders. Ah, thought Adrian. The infamous Borg First Officer. This should be interesting.

    He walked up to the group so he could hear Commander Icheb. “The report we received from Aris 4 is sketchy. They sent out a distress call 45 minutes ago, but the transmission was too degraded to be of much use and either they’ve stopped transmitting or something is blocking it. The only hard information we’ve received is that there was a massive explosion either at the colony or near it. The Tesseract was asked to respond, but since she's still waiting for additional crew and isn't quite ready for launch, Captain Oyugo ordered our team to take one of the auxiliary ships to investigate.”

    Icheb turned to a tall Lieutenant, every bit as young as he, who was standing at the back of the group so as not to block anyone’s view with his 6’4” frame. “John -- Lieutenant Quigley,” Icheb quickly corrected himself, “You’re with me on the bridge of the Sol," he said, indicating one of the two small Saber-class starships docked in the hangar bay behind him. "I may need your tactical expertise. Lieutenant Commander Keller, are you here?” he asked, looking over the group. Adrian stepped forward and raised his hand. Icheb nodded at him. “Good. You’ll be at the helm of the Sol. I’m told you’re the best pilot on the Tesseract,” Icheb said with a small smile.

    “Yes, sir.” Adrian could not suppress a satisfied smile of his own as he nodded at the friendly, efficient young Commander. It was hard not to take an instant liking to him, all antipathy for the Borg aside. He had a feeling a lot of people’s preconceptions about the Borg were about to be challenged by this charming kid.

    “Lieutenant T’Pring, you and Ensign Par Renn will be on the bridge with me,” Icheb continued, nodding at the Vulcan and Bajoran, respectively. The rest of you, take the default positions you were assigned before you arrived on the Tesseract. I’ll relay further instructions once we’re on board. Let’s go.”

    Adrian wasted no time jogging over to the transport pads. There were two pads, each capable of beaming five people at a time. It took less than two minutes to get the entire group into their assigned locations.

    Aboard the Saber-class Sol, Icheb took command of the bridge and sat down in the Captain’s chair. John Quigley took up his post behind Icheb at the tactical console, and Adrian sat down at the helm. Lieutenant T’Pring and Ensign Par rounded out the bridge crew at science and ops.

    “Commander Icheb to Sickbay -- report,” Icheb said over the comm. Given the fact that only 28 of the 40 away team members had yet been on board the Tesseract when they received the distress call, he wanted to be sure they had someone on board capable of treating any injuries.

    “We’re ready,” came the slightly accented reply. Icheb vaguely recognized the voice, and with the assistance of the Borg computers integrated with his brain, endlessly cataloging his every experience, it took him only a fraction of a second to recall the associated name: Sheila Duggal, the young Indian doctor he had met the previous morning.

    “Thank you, Doctor Duggal,” he replied. He checked in with Engineering next. “Engineering, report.”

    “We’re missing a few people down here, Commander. We should be okay, though. Just try not to bust the slipstream drive or we’ll be stuck at traditional warp. None of us here are cleared to fix that thing unsupervised.”

    John Quigley let out an amused snicker. “That’s just great. Where’s Maren when you need her, eh?” Icheb turned around and gave him an irritated glance, and John shrugged and looked back down at his console.

    Adrian chimed in, “Aris 4 is only nine light years away. The chap in Engineering is right, we’d be okay without slipstream.”

    Icheb quickly shut him down. “We don’t know what we’re going to find there. The data on the explosion indicate it was massive. It’s likely that it was a natural phenomenon, but if it wasn’t, we shouldn’t be caught unprepared to fight or evade an enemy capable of that kind of destruction.”

    “Icheb to Tesseract,” he said over the comm. “We need someone qualified on slipstream to take over our Engineering, now. We’re missing our Chief.”

    “O’Connor’s all I’ve got at the moment and I can’t spare her,” came the reply from Captain Oyugo. “You’re well-versed in slipstream technology, Commander. If it breaks, you should be quite capable of fixing it.”

    “Understood, Captain,” Icheb replied tersely, pinching his nose ridge between two fingers. He felt on the verge of developing a headache, and realized he was overdue for regeneration. It would have to wait. He sincerely hoped he wouldn’t have to try to command the mission and work in engineering simultaneously. He looked around the Bridge for a long moment before activating the Sol’s ship-wide communications system.

    “All hands, this is Commander Icheb. Prepare for departure.” Ready or not, here we come, he thought to himself, paraphrasing a line from an Earth children’s game he’d learned years ago from Maren’s little cousins. His usual confidence was diminished under the less-than ideal conditions. He may have been separated from the Collective, but the Borg hardware in his brain still sounded the alarm whenever conditions were less than optimal for success. As far as he was concerned, this sudden, premature activation of the Tactical and Rescue team coupled with the absence of more than a quarter of their number was certainly less than optimal.

    Adrian entered the sequence for release from the hangar bay and requested clearance, which was granted. With one more push of a button, the enormous bay doors slowly slid open, revealing the blackness of space.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2009
  10. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    More excellence! The scene between Maren and Icheb was touching in its raw intensity. There's obviously a lot of unresolved issues between those two. :(

    And now this rescue mission under mysterious circumstances. I liked the bit about Icheb having difficulty with his implants when the situation is less than optimal. Something tells me he's going to be coming down with a lot of headaches in the next seven years. :lol:
     
  11. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
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    Nice to see the character of Icheb explored more. Sad to see that his decision to help Seven appears to be biting him in the ass now, years later.

    It is a fascinating prospect about going back to the DQ after these years and fly the Federation flag on a planned seven year mission. It is a neat idea to go back to exploring strange new worlds and the like.

    However, considering the sheer scale of this ship and the crew involved, there's a world within itself to explore. I hope that you devote some time to expanding on it, the mechanical and technological issues bound to arise, nevermind the many interpersonal and departmental issues that would plague a ship of that size. With that in mind I also would question the validity of such a new captain and young commander having charge of such a complex mission. Maybe there ought to be more of a command staff who help share the captain's burden along with Icheb. I understand that with a mission back to the DQ they would take on someone as young [and yes capable but still relatively inexperienced] along with first hand knowledge or experience at least that would be invaluable.

    Should be interesting to see how you continue this, how it is developed and what direction you take.
     
  12. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeay! wonderful way to start a monday morning!
     
  13. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    CHAPTER SEVEN

    Captain’s Log, Stardate 62197.09. I have dispatched Tactical and Rescue Team Alpha, headed by Commander Icheb, to investigate the explosion and distress call at Aris 4. They will be using one of the redesigned Saber-class starships with its new slipstream drive, and I look forward to learning how it performs. The team is missing several key members due to its premature deployment, but nonetheless, I believe they’re up to the challenge.

    Captain Oyugo watched from the bridge as the Sol eased out of the launch bay. Despite the optimism she had claimed in her log entry, she had her doubts about her second-in-command. It was true that Icheb possessed a brilliant scientific mind and a proven aptitude for making good command decisions, even under pressure. He had earned the respect and trust of every Captain he’d served under, and had received glowing reviews year after year. But he was extremely young, younger even than most of his peers from the Academy, whom he had nonetheless long since passed in rank. He looked passably close to thirty, but when she had reviewed his file in depth, she had realized he was probably more like twenty-two or twenty-three, having spent several months in a maturation chamber during his time with the Borg.

    Despite the fact that the Borg maturation chamber had accelerated the boy’s physical and intellectual development, Adele was convinced that being part of the Collective must surely have stunted his emotional growth. However, by all accounts, he had made remarkable progress in that area, and seemed to have had a normal Academy life, except for the not-entirely-unexpected negative treatment from a vocal minority of students who felt having any Borg, even an ex-Borg, at the Academy was a dangerous risk. All the people who knew Icheb best, though, including Kathryn Janeway, spoke very highly of the young officer. Indeed, Captain Oyugo had no concrete reason to believe Commander Icheb was not one of the greatest assets the Tesseract had as her crew ventured back into the Delta Quadrant eight years after Voyager had destroyed the Borg Unicomplex and one of their six transwarp hubs.

    Although the Captain could not quantify with facts what it was that bothered her about the young man, she was a quarter Betazoid and, despite the relative weakness of her telepathic abilities, she could definitely tell when someone was hiding something. Her senses told her that this was the case with Icheb. She had no strong sense that the secret was a dangerous one, but she could tell whatever it was weighed on him heavily. Interestingly, she had gotten the same feeling from Lieutenant O’Connor on the Bridge the previous evening -- something she had never sensed in her Chief Engineer until she had seen her with the First Officer. It was obvious there was a connection there, but she felt strongly that her standing as Captain didn’t give her the right to go prying into people’s personal lives based on a feeling.

    The fact was, between his extreme youth, the several kilograms of hidden Borg hardware he was carrying around inside his body, and her certainty that he was hiding something important, Icheb simply made her feel uneasy. Of course, Adele was self-reflective enough to realize that the circumstances of her husband’s death might also have something to do with her discomfort. She knew that was unfair. The kid probably hadn’t even been assimilated yet when the Battle of Wolf 359 was fought, and even if he had been, it wasn’t his fault. Still, Adele had to try hard to see Icheb as Brunali first, not Borg. She had almost requested a different First Officer, but quickly realized it was entirely possible that Starfleet would kick her off the mission before they would reassign Icheb. After all, she had never been to the Delta Quadrant and had only a single dismal battle’s worth of experience with the Borg (more than enough for one lifetime, Adele thought).

    Instead of requesting Icheb’s reassignment, Adele had decided to try and befriend the young officer, despite her misgivings. Perhaps, in due time, he would reveal the secret he was hiding. Until then, she would keep a close eye on him. She did so now, as she watched the Sol engage slipstream drive and seemingly vanish into space.

    On board the Sol, Adrian couldn’t resist a smile. He had flown test flights with the slipstream drive, but this was the first real mission of any kind he had been on that was actually using the technology, and he was at the helm.

    “Icheb to engineering. Status?”

    Adrian thought Icheb sounded a little nervous. Nervous Borg. This mission is full of surprises, he thought with some amusement.

    The reply from engineering sounded almost giddy. “We’re fine down here, sir. History in the making! The slipstream drive is running completely textbook. We should arrive in about six minutes.”

    “Six minutes?” gasped John at tactical. He quickly regained his composure and broke into a wide grin. “I think I’m going to like this slipstream stuff,” he said.

    Icheb clenched his jaw to keep from snapping at John. This was the kind of thing they’d argued about in their Academy days. John, with his propensity to see the fun, adventure and opportunity in any situation, had clashed often with Icheb, who took a slightly darker, and (Icheb thought) more realistic view of the universe. It wasn’t that he was a pessimist, exactly, but his extraordinarily disturbed childhood had given him a perspective not shared by many who had grown up sheltered and happy in the Federation. While John was marveling at the wonders of the slipstream drive, Icheb was preoccupied with the colonists on Aris 4 and wondering if everyone on board the Sol was about to meet the same fate, whatever it was, that had befallen them. He involuntarily thought of his parents back on Brunali and wondered if they had yet been assimilated by the Borg, then quickly pushed the thought aside.

    The Sol dropped out of slipstream seventeen seconds ahead of schedule.

    “Icheb to Engineering, report,” said Icheb.

    “Nothing’s wrong with the drive, sir, we’re just not moving.”

    “Find out why. Are we in visual range of the planet?”

    “Yes, sir,” replied T’Pring at the science station.

    “On screen.”

    The bridge instantly fell silent as the crew realized the colony was gone. The small planet looked strange -- ragged and broken. The surface was largely obscured by a voluminous dust cloud. But stranger still was the massive and rapidly expanding debris field emanating not from the planet itself, but a point several thousand kilometers away. Just behind the cloud of debris was a glowing anomaly that Adrian, Icheb and John all recognized at once.

    “Shit,” cried John. “Icheb!”

    “Back us off, Commander Keller, full impulse. Get as far away as you can while remaining in visual range,” ordered Icheb urgently.

    “Aye, sir, I’m a step ahead of you,” replied Adrian, who had already begun to bring the Sol around to put some distance between the ship and the angry glow.

    “What is it?” asked Ensign Par nervously.

    “It’s a subspace tear; it’s the reason we dropped out of slipstream,” explained Icheb. “If we get too close to it, we’ll have to eject the warp core or risk being pulled inside. There are likely to be other smaller rifts nearby, as well. We need to be careful. Watch your scans.”

    Icheb stood up. “Are there any life signs on the planet or in the debris?” he queried.

    “None detected,” came the emotionless reply from T’Pring.

    “I’m picking up a residual energy signature of some sort -- it doesn’t look natural,” John said warily. He tapped his console a few times. “It could be a weapons signature, but I’m not picking up any ships in the vicinity.”

    Icheb walked around John’s console to take a look at the data. “That energy signature might be Borg. But it looks off somehow.” He narrowed his eyes as he analyzed the data. “T’Pring, analyze the debris field,” he directed the science officer.

    T’Pring’s fingers flew over her console. In her serene, dispassionate voice, she said “Sir, the debris field appears to be hull fragments -- millions of them, the largest less than one-half meter across. I believe the fragments may also be Borg. However, there is enough material here to compose several Borg cubes.”

    John let out a low whistle. “Someone made a really big boom,” he said.

    “It looks like the planet got caught in the concussion,” said Icheb. “Are the conditions safe enough for us to go to the surface?”

    “Negative, sir,” answered T’Pring. “The seismic reactions to the explosion are severe, not to mention taking the ship any closer to that subspace tear would be unwise.”

    Ensign Par cut in. “Sir, I thought the Borg were incapable of traveling to this part of the galaxy since Voyager destroyed the transwarp hub that led here.”

    Icheb turned to the young man standing at Ops. “The Borg adapt,” he said. “Don’t underestimate them, Ensign.” The Bajoran turned slightly pale at this, and quickly found a spot on his console to stare at instead of his ex-Borg commander, who was suddenly, irrationally creeping him out.

    “Well, if those hull fragments are Borg, it looks like they didn’t adapt too well to whatever -- or whomever -- they encountered here,” John said.

    “Ensign Par, beam some of the hull fragments into the cargo bay and erect a level 10 force field,” ordered Icheb. He turned to Adrian. “Commander Keller, plot a course back to the Tesseract. Stay at impulse until we clear the subspace damage, then increase speed to warp 6 until we’re out of sensor range from here.”

    “Warp 6, sir?” Adrian asked in surprise. At that speed it would take nearly ten days to return to the Tesseract.

    “If there are Borg nearby, I don’t want to be more attractive to them than we have to be,” Icheb explained. “Notify me when we’ve gotten out of sensor range and we can reassess the situation. I’ll send a subspace message to the Tesseract, apprise them of our findings, and let them know we’ll be delayed. I’ll be in my ready room. Lieutenant Quigley, you have the bridge.”

    “Yes, sir,” came the reply from both Adrian and John.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2009
  14. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Location:
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    For a first fanfic this is turning out to be one of the better I've read! Keep it coming!
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Holy crap! :eek: Not only have they already found evidence of the Borg back in the Alpha Quadrant, now there's the additional mystery of who or what created the subspace rupture. Icheb's got his work cut out for him, and the fact that all he's got with him is a tiny Saber-class ship doesn't bode well if the Borg make another appearance.

    I especially liked the segment where Captain Oyugo reflects on her relationship with Icheb. Though she still harbors reservations about her exec based both on his youth and his former Borg status, she's determined to make the best of things. Given his skills and knowledge of the DQ, that's probably for the best, though I'm hoping the decision doesn't cost her in the long run.

    Terrific work!
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Your characters continue to be a really interesting bunch, Icheb and his mysterious condition especially. I also enjoyed his encounter with his former financee. Now that's an awkward situation.

    The plot thickens with a great premise. A new Borg threat or something much worse?

    Good stuff.
     
  17. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sector 001
    Thanks for the comments. :)

    More coming soon, just touching things up on the next couple of chapters.
     
  18. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    I like that the captain has a healthy dose of scepticism about Icheb. Unwarranted of course! But in her position she has to be careful if not outright dubious.

    The new mystery is quite unsettling. The Borg could be back [I like the idea that they were not completely destroyed by Janeway's endgame] but worse still they've encountered someone or something that can take them on.

    Added to that, I think it is safe to safe having a former drone as your commanding officer and being told in stark tones by said commanding officer that the Borg adapt has to be pretty unsettling - no check that- freaking out time unsettling.

    Good things. Liking the build up with the character introspection form the captain adding depth to her and reassuring the reader that she is probably suited to this mission afterall. Yet also the fact that she recognises that Starfleet would sooner likely change her billet than Icheb's is revealing too.

    Nice development and yet the story has a frantic pace keeping the story zipping along.

    Looking forward to more.
     
  19. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sector 001
    CHAPTER EIGHT

    Irina Marchenko bent over a workstation, peering at the magnified image of the neural fibers within the malfunctioning gel packs Lieutenant O’Connor had sent for analysis. The gel packs had become a source of annoyance early on for the Chief Engineer, and Irina was beginning to commiserate. In O’Connor’s four days on board getting the ship ready, nineteen of the gel packs had failed. The engineering staff could find no external physical problems with any of them. The science staff had run scans for radiation that could be harming the bio-neural material, and come up clean. So the gel packs were now Irina’s problem. Thankfully, overnight, she seemed to have been granted a reprieve -- it was now nearly 0800 hours, and nothing had failed since the previous evening.

    Despite her mounting frustration with their frequent failure, Irina thought the gel packs were fascinating technology. They worked like the human brain, sending information through neural fibers and making connections, or “short-cuts” between data points that a normal computer might miss. The gel packs helped the Tesseract’s computers to make “best guess” decisions quickly using these short-cuts instead of processing all possible outcomes before recommending a solution. Irina was impressed with the concept, and had done a little reading on the Intrepid-class starships that first used the technology to see how it had worked in practice. She noted that Voyager had only a few problems with the gel packs in the seven years they were lost in the Delta Quadrant, which she found encouraging. The severity of those problems, however, was not encouraging. The gel packs could succumb to radiation, disease and almost anything else that would harm a biological entity, and once they failed, that was it. They couldn’t be repaired, and it was as impossible to replicate new ones as it was to replicate a living being. Irina understood that the Tesseract carried a lot of spares, but at the rate they were losing them, she wondered if it was possible to run out.

    The previous afternoon, Irina had put each failed gel-pack through a microcellular scan looking for evidence of pathogens, and found nothing. The sub-neural scans hadn’t proved much more helpful, so she was now performing detailed neurographic scans on the “bags of goo,” as O’Connor had derisively called them. It was painstaking work, even with the help of the computer. She had been at it since her shift had started at 0600, and her body was aching and stiff from hunching over the console so long. She stretched and contemplated taking a short break.

    Then suddenly, she saw something on the scan. It was subtle, but there was a chance it could be what they were looking for. She forgot about her weary neck muscles and called out to Sarik.

    “Sarik, look at this,” she said. The Vulcan looked up from his console, where he was entering a report on a crewman who had broken an elbow climbing a rock wall in the gymnasium after hours. He got up and walked over to Irina’s workstation, where he peered at the area of the scan where Irina was pointing.

    “Interesting,” said Sarik, raising a single eyebrow. “If that is what it appears to be, this problem may be more complicated than we anticipated. I suggest you notify the Chief Medical Officer.”

    Irina rose and walked over to the glass-enclosed central office where the CMO worked. The glass was frosted for privacy except for one large window overlooking the rest of Sickbay, and on the door, a decimeter-wide transparent horizontal stripe backing the Starfleet Medical logo. Irina pressed the call button.

    “Come in,” came the British-inflected reply over the intercom.

    As the door slid open to reveal Dr. Julian Bashir leaning back in his office chair reading a PADD, it took effort for Irina to keep her facial expression neutral and professional.

    It was a damned shame he was her direct supervisor, Irina thought, as the years had been more than kind to Dr. Bashir. The CMO had arrived on the ship the previous evening, and she almost hadn’t recognized him when he had walked by her on the Deck 10 promenade outside Ten Forward. When she had realized who he was, she had almost choked on her drink.

    Julian’s time in the line of fire during the Dominion War had given him a slightly dangerous edge he’d lacked when she had met him at a Starfleet Medical function years ago, while she was still in pre-med at the Academy. He had flirted grandly and awkwardly with her then, clearly believing himself the universe’s gift to women everywhere, and told her a breathtakingly dull tale of how he’d ended up salutatorian instead of valedictorian of his graduating class -- something about postganglionic nerves and a trick question on the final exam, if she remembered correctly after all these years. She had decided he was an arrogant twerp, and hadn’t been able to get away from him fast enough. Yet here she stood, the better part of fifteen years later, regretting that judgment. Damn. Amazing what a few years and an interstellar war will do for a man’s charisma, thought Irina.

    “Doctor Bashir,” she addressed him, “I think I may have found a possible cause of the gel pack failures. Would you mind taking a look?”

    “Certainly,” Julian replied. He stood up and walked out onto the main sickbay floor.

    When they arrived at Irina’s console, Julian looked over her shoulder at the scan. “I see it. Subtle post-traumatic degradation of the neural fibers. It’s very much like what you see in victims of telepathic assault. Not many people would have caught this, Doctor. Good work.”

    “Are you suggesting someone tried to mind-rape the ship’s computers?” Irina asked incredulously. Julian’s eyebrows rose in momentary surprise at her crude expression, but he quickly recovered, and his brown eyes danced in mild amusement. Sarik merely raised an eyebrow.

    “No, I’m not, Doctor,” Julian replied. “At least, not yet. But I'd say you do have a lead, here. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good one without more data. Keep running scans on the remaining gel packs and let me know when you have your findings. In the meantime, have someone pull a list of all the telepathic species on board.”

    “I can take care of that, Doctor,” Sarik interjected, as he sat down at a nearby console and brought up the crew manifest.

    As Dr. Bashir turned to walk back into his office, Irina couldn’t resist giving him the once-over. She let her eyes rest on his backside for a moment before forcing her concentration back onto her work. Take a high-pitched sonic shower, Irina, she thought to herself. You’ll be working under him every day for the next seven years, don’t screw it up now.

    With a sigh, she resumed the neurographic scans on the gel packs. Nearby, Sarik sat silently, searching 1,478 crew members’ files for a clue to the mystery they had just uncovered.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  20. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sector 001
    CHAPTER NINE

    On board the Sol, the mood was subdued as the ship headed slowly back toward the Tesseract. Inside the captain’s ready room, Icheb sat analyzing the data their sensors had collected at the site of the explosion. He kept going back to the data from the tactical console, specifically the unknown weapons signature John thought he had found. His headache was growing worse by the minute and he was worried he was making errors in his analysis. He recalled the old Terran proverb “Two heads are better than one,” and called John into the ready room.

    John looked over Icheb’s shoulder at the display sitting on the small desk as they analyzed the data together and tried to figure it out.

    “The hull fragments are definitely Borg,” said Icheb, once again pinching his nose ridge as the throbbing pain behind his eyes increased. “But the weapons signature, if that’s what it is, is much more ambiguous.” He briefly rested his head on his hand and squeezed his eyes shut.

    John looked at him with concern. “You okay?” he asked. Icheb forced his eyes back open and sat up straight again.

    “Fine. I just need to regenerate,” replied Icheb in a tone that he hoped discouraged further questioning. “Look at this,” he said, indicating a data point on the display.

    John leaned in closer. “It’s too close to call. It looks more Borg than anything else in the database, but not quite. And I’ve never heard of the Borg using subspace weaponry.”

    “It could be something they assimilated. As for the energy signature, it’s impossible to tell how the Collective might have changed in the last eight years. We weren’t even sure it had survived.”

    “Well, I guess all those little Borg pieces sitting in the cargo bay are a pretty conclusive answer to that question.”

    “Not necessarily,” answered Icheb. “We have pieces of a ship, or perhaps several ships. We don’t have any conclusive evidence that it was manned at the time of its destruction, nor do we know with any level of certainty what destroyed it.”

    John opened his mouth to argue, but quickly shut it when he realized that, as usual, Icheb was correct, and resistance was futile. John might prefer to operate on quick analyses and gut instincts, but Icheb would require all the facts before coming to any conclusion.

    “I don’t think we’re going to figure this out, just the two of us sitting here in your ready room,” said John as he absentmindedly scratched his head, mussing his sandy blond hair. “I’d like to see what Maren has to say about some of the data from the debris field, and I’d like to hear the Captain’s thoughts on all of this, as well. There are a bunch of people in Astrometrics who will probably have some ideas about that subspace tear, too.”

    Icheb nodded. “Agreed,” he said. “You’re dismissed. I’ll be back on the bridge in a minute; I have a couple of things I want to finish up here.”

    John stood up and walked toward the door, but when he reached it, he hesitated. Icheb looked up.

    “Was there something else, Lieutenant?”

    “Permission to speak freely, sir?” John asked formally.

    Icheb looked surprised. “Of course,” he replied.

    “I mean, about personal matters,” John cautioned him.

    Icheb sighed. “You mean about Maren?”

    John nodded. “I saw her after you ran into her on the bridge yesterday. She was pretty shaken up.”

    Icheb nodded in reply. “I went to see her right before we got sent on this mission,” he said. John looked surprised at his candor.

    “What happened?” he asked, sitting down in a visitor’s chair.

    Icheb left out the part about kissing Maren and getting slapped for it. “We talked. I asked for her assistance in keeping our interactions professional. I don’t know if she’s going to cooperate.”

    “That’s it?” asked John. “You didn’t discuss your relationship at all?”

    “There is no relationship,” Icheb replied quickly, rubbing his forehead. He added, “I don’t see how this is any of your business.”

    “Come on, Icheb. We’ve been friends for seven years. Maren may not be ready to put the past behind her, but you and I don’t have that kind of history.” He paused, then decided to ask the obvious question. “You don’t have to answer this, but I have to at least ask -- what happened between you two back on Earth? I mean, you asked me to stand up for you at your wedding, and then suddenly you were gone and Maren was a total wreck for months. She would never tell me what happened, and you weren’t exactly responding to transmissions about the subject, either.”

    “John, it’s between Maren and me,” Icheb replied with a slight edge to his voice.

    John knew better than to keep pushing, and tried to lighten the mood. “Okay. But when you two decide to kiss and make
    up -- ”

    “That’s enough, Lieutenant,” Icheb said sharply, pulling rank. He was surprised at himself. He had always strived to avoid using his position to influence personal relationships. He realized his need to regenerate must be starting to affect his behavior. He quickly apologized. “I’m sorry. That was inappropriate. We were speaking as friends.”

    John quickly covered the hurt expression on his face with one of his signature carefree grins and gave what he hoped was a good-natured shrug. “Hey, what good is having the rank of Commander if you don’t use it? You just better hope I never outrank you,” he threatened Icheb playfully.

    “That’s unlikely at best. Probably closer to impossible,” Icheb teased back with a slight smile. The smile quickly turned into a grimace as he doubled over in pain, clutching at the back of his head. John lunged to grab him before he fell out of his chair.

    Supporting Icheb with one arm, John tapped his comm. badge. “Quigley to Sickbay,” he said urgently, “Medical emergency, commander’s ready room.”

    “On my way,” Dr. Duggal replied over the comm.

    Icheb, wincing, protested through his pain. “I’m fine. I’m just overdue for regeneration. As soon as we get back to the Tesseract, I’ll rest in my alcove, and I’ll be fine.”

    “Bullshit,” John retorted. “I’ve seen you go days without regenerating before and you never came close to keeling over. We’re almost a day away from the Tesseract with our current flight plan, and that’s assuming we’re able to jump to slipstream when we’re supposed to. That’s too long to let you go like this -- you’re going to sickbay if I have to drag you there myself.”

    Before Icheb could open his mouth to protest, John cut him off, continuing: “You pulled rank on me, don’t make me return the favor -- as the ranking security officer on the Sol, I can have you removed if I think you’re a threat to the mission.”

    Icheb realized he was in no position to argue. “Fine. I’ll go,” he agreed reluctantly. “But you don’t need to drag me anywhere. I'm perfectly capable of walking. Help me up.” John, who was still crouched next to Icheb’s chair, stood and took Icheb’s arm. With John’s assistance, Icheb pulled himself to a standing position. The room faded in and out, first blurry, then clear again. The pain in his head was now sharp and stabbing, and nearly unbearable.

    The door chime sounded. T’Pring’s voice came over the intercom. “Do you require assistance, Commander? Dr. Duggal is here and she says Lieutenant Quigley -- ” John toggled the manual release for the door before T’Pring could finish or Icheb could answer. The door slid open to reveal T’Pring’s questioning face, and Sheila Duggal standing behind her holding a medical bag.

    “I’m fine, Lieutenant. Thank you for your concern,” Icheb said weakly, gripping the edge of the desk to assist his stability. “Doctor Duggal, please accompany me to Sickbay.” He slowly stepped onto the bridge, and announced to the remaining bridge crew, “I’m temporarily relieving myself of command. It’s Lieutenant Quigley’s mission, now.” He turned to John. “Just get us back to the Tesseract safely. I’ll be fine.” John nodded solemnly at his friend, and Icheb turned to leave the bridge, with Sheila close behind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009

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