UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    What Zeischt is proposing, a galactic super force intervening wherever and whenever to keep others in check is both incredibly ambitious as well as dangerous. How long until this power is corrupted to turn the Amon into exactly the thing they are trying to prevent?

    And could it be true? Is Sandhurst really completely gone? If so how much of him lives on in Zeischt? Not much it seems considering those lofty ambitions.
     
  2. Count Zero

    Count Zero Watching Moderator

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    Or rather quite a lot. ;) After all, his policy is based on his own personal principles which are alien to the Amon.

    But, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I've always been of the opinion that the general principle of non-interference which forms the basis of the Prime Directive is a very wise one. For most of us, there is a natural urge to intervene for what we think is right but that rarely ends well, especially if there's a military solution involved.

    Obviously, the Prime Directive as presented on the show also has its issues but generally, I think it's better than what Zeischt is proposing.

    I notice I haven't yet commented on this story even though I was sure I already had. Riveting stuff, and well written as usual. I'm looking forward to see how this story will progress. At the moment, I really have no idea where it'll go. I certainly didn't expect Sandhurst to be gone so completely.
     
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 6)

    Chapter Six​



    USS Europa


    “I can’t fix it.”

    The sturdy Bolian was never one to mince words, and these were the first out of Ashok’s mouth after he’d sat down across from Lar’ragos at the ready room’s desk.

    Lar’ragos nodded fractionally. “I’d feared as much, Lieutenant. I’m guessing that our Bynars haven’t had any luck in—“

    “I didn’t say it couldn’t be fixed, sir,” Ashok cut him off mid-sentence, an unheard of event for the fastidiously polite engineer. “I said I can’t fix it.”

    A brief silence passed as Lar’ragos paused to absorb the full weight of Ashok’s revelation. “Then who can?”

    Ashok’s bald head tilted slightly, his expression incredulous. “Respectfully, sir, we both know that only one person can make the drive work as designed. Sandhurst.”

    Lar’ragos eased farther back into his chair, blowing out a slow breath. “Right. Well, that’s clearly beyond my ability to arrange at the moment.”

    “There is one other possibility… though I hesitate to bring it up.” Ashok looked almost pained at his own admission.

    Lar’ragos caught a flash from the ether, a split-second image of a face. “Wait… what? Really? I thought he was out. Gone, I mean, on some kind of interdimensional walkabout.”

    Ashok’s eyes widened. “Sir, I really hate it when you do that. It’s like having my mind read without my consent.”

    An actual blush colored Pava’s cheeks as the captain appeared suitably mortified. “Yeah, sorry… it just sort of happens. So… uh, the boy-genius is back in uniform?”

    “The rumor through the fleet’s engineering grapevine is that Crusher’s just finished his academy qualifications. Of course, even if we could somehow get him assigned to Vanguard, it’d be six-to-nine months before he’d make it out here.”

    “And even then we’d have no guarantee he’d be able to figure it out.” Lar’ragos drummed his fingers on the table top absently while he mulled that over. “Faster and more efficient to just request his assignment to Starbase Bastion. He can troubleshoot the drive equations from a holodeck there, and we won’t waste half a year with him on ice.”

    “Agreed,” Ashok said simply.

    “Here’s hoping the wunderkind lives up to his reputation,” Lar’ragos muttered.

    Ashok smirked. “He’s actually thirty years old now, sir.”

    “You’re all kids to me, Lieutenant.”

    “Fair point, Captain,” Ashok allowed. “Permission to take the transwarp modifications offline? Even limited to conventional warp, we’re still one of the fastest starships out here.”

    “Permission granted.”

    The yellow alert tell-tails began to flash overhead and Pell’s voice called out, "Yellow alert. Senior staff to the bridge.”

    Lar’ragos led Ashok out of the compartment and onto the bridge, assuming the command chair as Pell moved to an auxiliary console. The Bajoran reported, “Sensors have detected what looks very much like a Borg transwarp conduit forming one-point-seven million kilometers from Alanthal, Captain.”

    “On screen,” Lar’ragos ordered, finding himself looking at a non-descript volume of space after a moment.

    “The aperture isn’t visible yet, sir,” the ensign at the Science station noted as Shanthi stepped off the turbolift behind him.

    Georgia Kirk arrived and slid into the Ops chair, checking her readings as she ran a series of diagnostics on all sensor systems. Dominic Leone manned the Tactical station just behind Pava’s seat and inquired, “Defensive posture, Captain?”

    “Shields up, and bring all weapons online. Warm up one of the Alpha Weapons, one of the gravitic pulse ones…” he brought his hands together theatrically. “…the crushy thingies.”

    Leone smirked. “Aye, sir. Withdrawing one gravitic distortive pulse initiator from the armory. I’ll need you and Commander Wu’s access codes.”

    “Here,” Wu announced as she exited the fore ‘lift and made a beeline for her seat to the right of Lar’ragos.

    “XO, enter our Alpha release authorizations while I coordinate with the Klingons.” Lar’ragos gestured to Ops. “Open a channel to their flagship.”

    “Channel open,” Kirk advised.

    “Brigadier Gan’Louk, our sensors indicate the likely opening of a Borg transwarp corridor near us in the next few minutes. We’re uploading our telemetry to our joint TacNet. Be advised, this is probably Sandhurst’s tribe, and our goal is to make friendly contact with them. Please order your troops to hold their fire unless fired upon.”

    The general’s voice, as gruff as ever, replied, “My men have standing orders to that effect, Captain. No one dares fire without my express permission.”

    “Acknowledged,” Lar’ragos replied, “Europa, out.”

    A full three-quarters of the Klingon armada vanished behind their cloaking fields as they redeployed in a defensive picket opposing the projected Amon route of advance.

    And suddenly, there it was, a mammoth Borg cube that seemed to have extruded into the universe with scarcely a ripple.

    “Sensor contact, Borg cube,” Kirk alerted, managing to keep her voice even.

    “Cube measures twenty-eight cubic kilometers in volume, sir,” Shanthi called out from Sciences. “By size, it’s identified as a standard assimilation vehicle, but its power readings are several orders of magnitude greater than other observed cubes of this size.”

    “How do those readings compare with our logs of the previously encountered Amon cube?” Wu inquired pointedly.

    A brief pause followed, broken by Shanthi’s assessment, “Exact match, sir.”

    The cube continued to approach Alanthal at sublight, the facets of the mighty vessel radiating a riot of colors bleeding through the superstructure from deep within.

    “It’s certainly more colorful than a standard Borg vessel,” Pell noted from the chair to Lar’ragos’ left.

    Lar’ragos spared her a disbelieving look. “Really? ‘It’s pretty’ is your contribution to our First Contact assessment?”

    Pell grinned. “We haven’t got them talking yet, Captain.”

    Kirk touched a hand to the tiny earpiece in her right ear. “Incoming hail from the cube, audio only.”

    “Put it through,” Lar’ragos instructed, sharing a brief, hopeful look with Pell.

    “Klingon and Federation vessels, our intent is non-hostile. Do not interfere in our recovery operations, and we will leave you in peace.”

    Lar’ragos toggled the comms interface on his armrest. “Amon vessel, this is Commander Lar’ragos of the starship Europa. I have been authorized by the Federation to make contact with your species and to open negotiations for a potential pact against the Amon tribe that is carrying out attacks on the Alpha Quadrant.”

    A long silence followed.

    A sliver of light appeared along one facet of the cube, a growing opening that revealed itself to be a docking bay. “Federation ship Europa, you may dock within our vessel after we have recalled our collection arrays. We will hear your proposal.”

    Pell’s countenance was troubled, despite the invitation. “That seemed too easy.”

    Lar’ragos nodded slowly. “Legitimate or not, it’s what we came here to do. Get Liu to meet us at Airlock Three.” He stood, making eye contact with Leone. “Dom, you’re coming with. No weapons,” he added.

    Leone’s objection died in his throat as Lar’ragos gestured to the outlandishly large cube dominating the viewscreen. “We’re not shooting our way out of this if it goes badly.”

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
  4. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

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    No weapons? I hope Pava has an ace up his sleeve. :bolian:
     
  5. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    Feb 5, 2006
    The wunderkind is not exactly somebody I expected to pop up here. Interesting that he's still around and back in uniform.

    Not sure if docking within the cube is such a smart tactical idea. Of course if it really does come to blows with the Amon, God help them all.
     
  6. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Wow... it's been five months since I've posted to this story. My life's gone from being turned upside down in February to being increasingly positive today. Again on the upswing, I'm back to writing. Expect updates soon. :)
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    Awesomeness!
     
  8. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

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    The Hub of the Universe
    I was hoping I'd see you write those words soon. That Mount Seleya air must've done you good. :rommie: Can't wait to see your next installment(s). :bolian:
     
  9. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Glad things are looking up for you. :)
     
  10. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

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    Welcome back, sir! :bolian:
     
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Amon Homeship Transcendent
    In orbit of Planet Alanthal
    Delta Quadrant


    The swirling holographic sensor display would have confounded the visual cortex of most humanoid species, given the overlapping layers of compressed information contained within its helical pattern.

    Zeischt of the Amon experienced no such confusion, and he could clearly discern the positions of nearly sixty percent of the cloaked Klingon warships in orbit of Alanthal. Transcendent’s translation to normal space had caused quite the commotion as the expeditionary force’s ships sought to assemble some kind of viable defense against the threat of Amon firepower.

    From behind him, Nestrala whispered, “Your friends, they are on that ship?”

    For a moment, Zeischt did not reply. When he finally acknowledged the question, it was as though he’d been pulled away from some matter of great consideration. “Aboard Europa, yes.”

    “This will not be easy for you,” she offered, voice laden with sympathy. “They will insist on seeing you as the man you were. It is only natural. They will doubtless try and convince you to return with them.”

    “They won’t succeed,” he replied heavily. “That person is gone, irretrievably.”

    “That is cause for celebration, not sorrow. The essence has healed the wounds of your past, both physical and spiritual.”

    He inclined his head, conceding her point. “Yet it has burdened me with this new sight, the curse of foreknowledge.”

    She answered patiently, having long before accepted the role of teacher on the why’s and wherefores’ of life among the Amon for her alien mate. “The life-essence affects every individual differently, and being as you are of an entirely different species, your gift has proven far more accurate than that of native Amon prognosticators. It has been of invaluable benefit to our people. Would that you had possessed it before the betrayal of our sister tribe.”

    “Woulda, shoulda, coulda,” he murmured, the merest hint of a smile flitting across his countenance before vanishing. He turned to find her looking at him curiously. “Just something Pava was fond of saying,” he explained.

    “You miss him,” Nestrala observed.

    “I do. In many ways, he was my mentor.”

    She reached out to touch his shoulder gently, their energies merging, intertwining, as they shared thought and emotion in the delicate dance allowed by their mutual dependance on the essence. “Let us hope your mentor is willing to be taught,” Nestrala wished aloud.

    "Even if he does agree to the course we've decided, the best-case scenario would involve stranding them so far from home that they could never return."

    Nestrala stepped forward to embrace him. "You have told me the final outcome is far from certain. 'Too many variables' you claimed."

    "I speak of potentialities," Zeischt corrected lightly. "In many of the streams, all the Starfleet participants are destroyed outright. In all that I've witnessed, the best my friends can hope for is banishment."

    "Either is a small price to prevent what is to come, beloved."


    * * * ​

    Lar’ragos paused on the cusp of entering the turbolift, casting a look back at Wu.

    “The Amon have engaged a tractor beam,” Kirk announced. “We’re being drawn into the docking aperture.”

    Wu appeared hesitant to ask the question in front of the assembled bridge crew, but given time constraints, asked regardless. “Sir, why aren’t we simply beaming over? Isn’t going inside their vessel with Europa an unnecessary risk?”

    “First, the Amon probably feel safer knowing the Klingons are less likely to attack with us inside,” he replied evenly. “Second, it qualifies as mutual assured destruction. We’ll be within the Amon ship itself with our full complement of Alpha Weapons.”

    Wu’s eyes widened slightly as she absorbed the revelation.

    Lar’ragos’ expression grew flat, as if he had suddenly banished all trace of emotion. “Commander, if we fail to return, or the Amon attempt to board the ship, I’ve pre-authorized you to detonate every Alpha device in our armory. I’d suggest you start, however, with Weapon Alpha Seven, which is located in cryogenic suspension in Sickbay. Its use may preclude the necessity of the other, more… aggressive options.”

    She inclined her head fractionally in response. “I understand.”

    “I know you’ll do whatever needs to be done, Wu.” With that Lar’ragos turned and stepped into the ‘lift, followed by Leone and Pell.

    Wu walked over to the captain’s chair and seated herself, announcing, “Computer, log a temporary transfer of executive officer authority to Lieutenant Georgia Kirk. Authorization, Wu Epsilon-Sierra-Jyo-Suh-Yee-Uhr.”


    * * * ​
     
  12. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Yeah, I'm sure the Amon are really worried about the Klingons. Not.

    Hey, great to have Vanguard and this story back. It's been a minute there. So long in fact I had to catch up again by revisiting the last chapter. It all came quickly back to me.

    And now the next bombshell: As far as Zeist and his people are concerned, Europa's fate is already sealed. And it ain't a pretty one at that. Damn, what exactly are they worried about? What's coming?

    It has to be said though, I miss Sandhurst. I don't know if it is foolish to hope he'll come back by I shall cling to it anyway. Hey, I'm even still holding out hope for Ramirez. I know, silly, right?
     
  13. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

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    Washington, OK
    Yaaaaaaaaaaay....now If we can just get Bluefin "tajectory" back also
     
  14. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    I have to admit, I'm depressed to think that the Donald Sandhurst that we knew may be gone forever. His transformation seems to be total.

    Now Pava must play out this game. He holds some wild cards in the alpha weapons but if he uses them . . . game over. And considering Sandhurst/Zeischt's knowledge of Pava, it seems likely that the Amon would be ready to neutralize the devices before they could be used.

    Yep. Everything is just ducky. :scream:
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 6 cont'd)

    Chapter Six
    <cont'd>​

    Amon Homeship Transcendent
    In orbit of Planet Alanthal
    Delta Quadrant


    The incomparable beauty of the Amon ship was beyond Lar’ragos’ wildest imaginings. He had dreaded setting foot inside one of the Borg’s monstrous cubes, perhaps one of the very same that had assimilated his homeworld centuries earlier. Whatever the vessel's pedigree, however, no visible trace of the Collective remained within.

    Gardens and forests abounded, interspersed with buildings possessing a grace and symmetry that only accentuated the pleasing aesthetic. Parks and water features glistened beneath the radiant simulated sunlight, while crowds of people shopped, ate, and recreated in an unhurried manner. This was not a vessel that appeared to be at high alert, despite the presence of a Klingon battle fleet surrounding it.

    The Federation emissaries had been greeted with polite deference, as honored guests rather than as potential combatants coming to parlay. Led by an unarmed escort to an exquisitely decorated outdoor meeting venue, they were seated around a large, circular table bearing the helical crest of the Amon. Surrounding the conference area were various sculptures and pieces of statuary, nestled among the vibrantly exotic flowers of a dozen different worlds. The works of art seemed to radiate a conscious presence of their own, a subtle emotive aura, at least to those species among Europa’s away team sensitive to such phenomena.

    Lar’ragos took his seat, with Pell and Leone seated on either side of him. Next came Counselor Liu and the deceptively youthful looking Dr. Reskos.

    The arrival of the Amon negotiators was without ceremony, they simply approached on a stone pathway winding through the garden surrounding the conference table. Sandhurst was immediately recognizable, but Pell emitted a sharp intake of breath at the sight of him. Lar’ragos had very nearly done the same.

    Since Lar’ragos had begun serving with Sandhurst some three years earlier, he had seen the captain both overweight, and after the depredations of the Baron, gaunt and nearly skeletal. Sandhurst had never quite recovered physically from that ordeal, and had remained thin and somewhat brittle looking until his apparent defection to the Amon.

    Donald was now some fifteen centimeters taller, his body having filled out to embrace that inexplicably larger mass. He was clearly both bigger and more robust, his limbs and torso well muscled beneath the folds of his loosely fitted tunic. His face was full and expressive, his eyes fairly shining with vitality. His hair, which he’d typically kept shaved close to his scalp, was now a wavy brown medium length, bearing not a hint of the grey that had previously dominated his coloring.

    With him were two women, one a statuesque brunette, dressed in similar attire. Her hair was cut short on one side in a severe, militant-looking style that clashed with the long tresses flowing from the other side of her head.

    The other woman was somewhat smaller in stature, more compact, and clearly Vulcan. Her manner of dress favored darker colors, an almost military-style jumpsuit ensemble, though devoid of insignia. Her dark hair was colored with muted streaks of green, and was tightly coiled into a single braid in back.

    Following in her footsteps was Lieutenant Verrik, still clad in a spotless Starfleet uniform, his combadge fairly gleaming in the bright sunlight.

    “My friends,” Sandhurst called out in a sonorous voice that was, and yet was not his. “Welcome to the Amon homeship Transcendent.” He turned to introduce the others, “This is BattleLeader Nestrala; hers is a strong voice among our people. And this is Warrior A’lasha of Vulcan, formerly a non-corporeal katric agent of Section 31 who shared consciousness with both Olivia Juneau and Mister Verrik. And of course, Lieutenant Verrik himself, more than ready to be returned to the fold.”

    A’lasha directed a mischievous look at Lar’ragos. “Looking good, Listener. Sorry about having to stun you… twice. Nothing personal, you understand, just business.”

    For the first time in a long while, Pava Lar’ragos was speechless.

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  16. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    It's still disconcerting to think of Sandhurst as "Super Sandy." All he lacked was a gleaming twinkle from his pearly white teeth and a cape flapping in the breeze. ;) I'm still holding out hope that somehow Sandhurst can be returned to his former, lovable, scrawny self - hmmm, how 'bout the old run-him-through-the-transporter-pattern-buffer-trick?

    I know. It's been done. :(

    And obviously this was far more disconcerting to Pava & Co. It's hard to imagine the El Aurian in a speechless state.

    Write, sir . . . write! And don't spare the ink, er, pixels.
     
  17. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Yeah, Sandhurst is now 110 percent native. Unless the writer has us entirely fooled (which is totally possible of course) it does not appear the man will ever be his old self again. And imagine if he did? He would require a lifetime worth of counseling to get over this, I'm sure.
     
  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 6 cont'd)

    Chapter Six​
    <cont'd>​

    Amon Homeship Transcendent
    In orbit of Planet Alanthal
    Delta Quadrant


    Zeischt’s introductions had begged explanation, so for the next ten minutes, the former Starfleet captain described A’lasha’s exotic origins. His tale, confusing and improbable as it was, was obviously designed to absolve Verrik of any complicity in their mutual escape from Europa.

    As he observed Zeischt’s recitation, Lar’ragos trained his specially attuned senses on his AWOL friend. He discovered, as before, that when Sandhurst was in the grip of the Amon life-essence, the man was immune to Pava’s El Aurian insights. There were no images to be culled from Donald’s subconscious, no epiphanies to be had from dissecting what he said or how he said it. Sandhurst had become a cipher, a phantom.

    When Zeischt had finished his remarkable tale, he looked to Lar’ragos and then cast a questioning glance at those among the party he did not know.

    Thus urged, Lar’ragos introduced the others and highlighted the presence of Dominic Leone as Verrik’s replacement, as well as Dr. Reskos.

    Zeischt frowned, the first demonstration of genuine emotion Lar’ragos had seen register on his old friend’s features. The Amon glanced down the table at Reskos, who was blatantly scanning A’lasha with his tricorder, oblivious to the others’ attention. “I’d hoped Lieutenant Taiee could have remained the CMO,” Zeischt spoke with a hint of sadness.

    Lar’ragos shared an awkward glance with Pell before turning to face Sandhurst. “Donald…” he began.

    “Zeischt,” the former captain corrected. “That is my name now, Pava.”

    “Zeischt, then,” Lar’ragos continued. “I’m sorry to inform you that both Issara Taiee and Olivia Juneau are dead, both killed in the line of duty.”

    Zeischt’s features grew taut, conveying both shock and anguish. “What? When—how?”

    The El Aurian allowed the slightest of sighs to escape his lips. “We’ve talked before about how the Baron was plotting something…”

    Zeischt’s face colored and he rose from his seat, bracing his arms atop the table with his hands clenched into tight fists. The mention of his nemesis, the being who had tortured him beyond endurance, breaking him spiritually and emotionally, had ignited something deep within whatever remained of Donald Sandhurst.

    Lar’ragos continued. “His plan came to fruition while he was captive aboard Europa, after your departure. He died and nearly took the entire ship with him when he expired. However, it appears that before his death he managed to exact vengeance upon you… upon us all, really.”

    “He’s dead then?” Zeischt asked pointedly. “Why do you speak of his revenge as though it’s still taking place?”

    Heedless of the question, Lar'ragos continued, “He somehow abducted Liana Ramirez prior to her death. He’s twisted her into a monster, a murderous sociopath who now commands a rogue Defiant-class ship. Ramirez attacked and crippled Europa, killing Juneau and several others in the process. She allowed the rest of us to live to serve as warning to you. Ramirez intends to find you and kill you face-to-face.”

    Zeischt sat heavily, as though his legs had given out. The female Amon looked at him with a mixture of concern and sadness, an expression that turned many degrees colder when it shifted to Lar’ragos.

    “Gods,” Zeischt breathed, “if there was one person who could wound us from beyond the grave, it would be him.” He raised his gaze to meet Pava’s eyes. “Ramirez, where is she now?”

    “Unknown,” Lar’ragos replied. “Since our last encounter there haven’t been any reported sightings of her ship. We believe hers was the Starfleet vessel that was making hit-and-run attacks on incoming alien fleets. She likely sparked the confrontation with the Voranti that cost us so dearly.”

    “If that’s the case,” Pell noted, “she’s responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands.”

    Zeischt bowed his head, emitting a soft moan as he reached out to grasp Nestrala’s hand, a gesture that was not lost on Pell. “I should have seen this,” he practically gasped. “Why didn’t I see this?” Zeischt looked up at Nestrala, his eyes now shimmering with tears. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

    Nestrala had observed enough. Prompted by her lover’s distress, she stood. “This gathering is concluded. Zeischt must rest.”

    Lar’ragos stood as well, prompting Leone to rise to his feet. "This is a delicate situation, Nestrala,” Lar’ragos said, holding up a hand to delay the Amon party’s departure. “You are surrounded by a Klingon battle fleet, a fleet whose actions I can only influence, not control. The longer our negotiations drag on, the greater the chance of the Klingons overreacting to something and escalating the situation.”

    Nestrala’s expression was one of iron will. “That would be unfortunate… for them.” She turned and gestured to two of her party’s escorts, who moved to spirit Zeischt quickly away, the man still visibly overcome with grief and shock.

    “They should not be underestimated, BattleLeader,” Lar’ragos urged. “We are aware of your recent losses to your fellow tribe. Surely you can’t wish to provoke further unnecessary conflict with the Klingons?”

    The Amon warrior countered, “We’ve no quarrel with the Klingons, Captain, but should they wish to engage in battle with us, we will accommodate them.” Nestrala appeared about to turn away, but then seemed to think better of it and directed her heated gaze back on Lar’ragos. “You came here deliberately to undermine Zeischt’s fealty to the Amon.”

    Counselor Liu stood and called out before Lar’ragos had a chance to reply, “That isn’t true. All we’ve done is inform him of what’s happened in his absence.”

    Nestrala pointed to Pell. “The data chip you’re carrying, what does it contain?”

    Pell looked surprised, moving her hand to a pocket of her uniform trousers to produce an isolinear chip. “It is no threat to you. It holds only messages from Donald’s parents and his sister.”

    “Your intentions are all too transparent,” Nestrala seethed. Armored Amon warriors stepped from the dense tropical foliage surrounding the conference table, emerging like soundless wraiths with their battle-staffs gripped tightly. “Seize them and place them in the diplomatic complex under guard.”

    Leone tensed, but he was held in check by a firm hand from Lar’ragos. He turned to see the captain shake his head fractionally, the El Aurian’s expression an unreadable mask. “No resistance,” Lar’ragos announced.

    Addressing the female Amon, Lar'ragos said, “You’re making a mistake, Nestrala. We’re here to help bring your cousins under control, and we have no designs on testing Zeischt’s loyalties. However, we cannot and will not be prevented from acknowledging our ties to someone so dear to us.”

    Nestrala held his gaze for a brief moment before turning her back on him, her decorative robes dancing with the speed of her departure.

    * * *​

    USS Europa


    Shanthi entered Sickbay’s cryo-stasis ward, joining Wu who was standing in front of an otherwise unremarkable stasis unit. Two security specialists stood by, armed with phaser rifles.

    “The bridge says no further contact with our team and comms are still being jammed,” Shanthi updated the XO. “High powered shields snapped up around our mooring clamps, so we’re not going anywhere without a fight. No activity at the airlock, however, sir.”

    “So, not an outright attack,” Wu muttered, manually inputting the last of a long string of digits into the stasis chamber’s interface. “I suppose that’s something.”

    Shanthi looked on, obviously confused about their presence in Sickbay during a red alert. He was experienced enough, however, to keep his reservations to himself.

    Sensing the science officer’s puzzlement, Wu explained, “Before he left for the Amon ship, the captain told me in case things went sour during the negotiations that the contents of this stasis unit should be the first Alpha Weapon I activated.”

    The lanky African’s eyes widened in response. “Uh… what the hell is an Alpha Weapon doing in a stasis tank, sir? I thought they were all locked away in the torpedo magazines?”

    “No idea, Lieutenant, but I wanted you here to help me assess whatever the device is.”

    Shanthi studied the stasis unit’s status display suspiciously. “What kind of super-weapon needs to be kept in cryonic suspension?”

    Wu met his gaze with a dark cast to her almond-shaped eyes. “My guess? A biological one.”

    It almost seemed as if something died in Shanthi’s own eyes, as though the last faint glimmer of innocence was suddenly extinguished. He sighed heavily. “Right. Because we’re doing that, now.”

    Wu grunted in response as the unit hissed open, white vapor escaping as the long cabinet-like container slid out of its housing.

    As the cryonic vapors dissipated, a shape became visible, that of a humanoid male dressed in some manner of dark attire. Given that persons coming out of cryogenic suspension took many minutes if not hours to come around, Wu and Shanthi were both startled when the figure sat bolt upright after just a few seconds.

    He appeared vaguely human, but was completely hairless and possessed a sallow complexion and deeply set dark eyes. His clothing was reminiscent of a mid-22nd century business suit, made from a black form-fitting material that gave him a strangely formal appearance.

    The man swung his long legs over the side of the shelf and stood abruptly. Wu moved to support him, expecting his legs to give out so soon after emerging from cryonic-fugue, but the man remained on his feet without any sign of discomfort or weakness.

    “Good day,” he spoke in a deep, resonant voice. “Please indicate the target parameters and rules of engagement.”

    Wu shot Shanthi an expression equal parts wonder and skepticism. The young scientist offered only a similarly quizzical look and a subtle shrug in response. The XO turned back to the man, only to discover to her dismay that she was now facing an entirely different person.

    The tall, gaunt man Wu had been addressing was now a significantly shorter, darker-skinned male with neatly trimmed brown hair. Where his eyes should have been were empty, lidless sockets. He was clad in an anachronistic suit that appeared to hail from Earth’s 19th century, if not earlier.

    Wu frowned and only barely restrained herself from drawing the phaser holstered at her hip. “Who or what are you?” she demanded.

    “You may address us as Mister Oddfellow,” the smaller man replied. “It has grown to become our designation over time, one we’ve come to appreciate in an ironic sense,” said the larger man, who had not so much replaced his smaller counterpart as rather having somehow been there all along.

    “We?” Wu asked, struggling to control the timber of her voice. Behind her the two security specialists had raised their phaser rifles to a low ready as both of them fought to comprehend the conflicting messages their eyes were sending to their brains.

    “How many people do you see?” asked the shorter man, his face radiating a pleasant, relaxed smile.

    “Two,” Wu blurted. “I mean… one?” She blinked, trying to clear her head. “I’m—I’m not sure.”

    “Precisely,” the taller man answered. “You may verify our security credentials, authorization code ‘Enigma five-zero-eight-nine-three-echo-echo.’”

    Shanthi plugged away furiously at his tricorder before offering Wu a helpless shrug. “The security code checks out, sir, but as for scans… aside from reading the displacement of air in this compartment, there’s no readings from him… them, whatsoever.”

    The sallow, towering Oddfellow looked down at Wu. “If we’ve been activated, we must assume the situation is serious and time is of the essence.” The shorter man, inhabiting the same space as his counterpart, lifted his sightless gaze and squinted at Wu. “Is that accurate?”

    “Yes,” she answered numbly.

    “Then please explain your predicament as quickly as possible,” they said in unison, though Wu could swear only one voice had spoken the words.

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  19. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Lar'ragos announcement regarding the Baron and Ramirez certainly rocked Zeischt/Sandhurst's world. Maybe there's more of Donald there than Pava or even Nestrala realize?

    Meanwhile, back on Europa . . .
    Um, what? :wtf:
     
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Finally some more Gibraltar/Europa. Goody.

    And what a terrific chapter. I've been eagerly awaiting Sandhurst/Zeischt to learn about Ramirez and the awful things she has bee responsible for. It's nothing less than a stab in the heart. The fact that Zeischt reacts the way he does, like he truly feels it, gives me hope that Donald is not yet lost. Nestrala's reaction is similarly telling.

    As for Mister Oddfellow, what an awesomely bizarre concept. We seem to be heading into Twilight Zone territory here and I love it.