UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

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

  1. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Oooohhhh, I missed this! I missed stories from United Trek and it was awesome to see this here! Welcome back, Gibraltar, and I hope to see more. I really enjoy your writing, sir!
     
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  2. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Past friendship aside, Ebnal is quite literally calling for the head of Sandhurst/Zeist. I can't really blame him, seeing that we have witnessed the (apparent?) death of Captain Pava Lar'ragos. Best line of this chapter: "Surprise me."
     
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Amon Homeship Transcendent

    The cathedral-like command deck of the Amon cube had been thrown into pandemonium. Amon warriors swarmed the area, aiming their staffs in all directions, despite the absence of any identifiable threats.

    Zeischt cradled Lar’ragos’ remains, the former Starfleet officer’s face twisted into a rictus of scarcely contained rage as he moved toward an exit to the command center.

    Nestrala stood over where BattleMaster Jalahar’s still smoldering body lay, her features radiating equal ferocity. “Where are you taking that?” she snarled in Zeischt’s direction.

    “The crèche,” he muttered curtly, his eyes fixed on the doors.

    “BattleLeader!” one of the reclining systems advocated called to Nestrala. “Our defenses are off-line and our weapons are inaccessible.”

    Nestrala stood caught between two competing demands, and was momentarily transfixed before rousing herself to act. “Zeischt, I forbid it,” she called out to him. “The crèche requires a one-to-one transfer of essence. I won’t allow you to sacrifice yourself for you misguided love of this… animal.” She turned to inquire of the system’s advocate. “Diagnosis of the problem?”

    “Our security overrides have been compromised, BattleMaster. Propulsion, weapons and defenses are all offline and inaccessible.”

    The BattleMaster moved with surprising speed to block Zeischt’s exit. She held a hand out to bar her mate’s progress. “How could A’lasha have known our override codes?” The accusation in her tone was unmistakable.

    Zeischt’s face was a stone mask, with only his tremulous voice hinting at the fight within to contain the anger and grief that threatened to overwhelm him. “She was a spy for decades among my people, Nestrala. Perhaps you should go ask her?”

    The tension between them stretched on until the sound of transporter beams filled the compartment.

    “Attackers!” cried one off the warriors as photon grenades materialized throughout the command center. Those armed with battle-staffs brought the bases of their weapons down to erect forcefields around them. Neither Zeischt nor Nestrala were so fortunate.

    * * *​

    USS Europa

    “Incoming transmission for you from Captain Ebnal, sir. It’s coded personal.”

    Wu stood from the command chair. She was still smarting from being denied permission to send Leone and a security team to help wrest Lar’ragos’ body away from the Amon, but she understood and respected Ebnal’s reasoning. “Route it to the ready room.”

    She strode into the cabin, purposely ignoring the decorations and memorabilia that screamed of Pava’s presence from every corner of the room. Once situated in the office’s chair, Wu toggled the interface, calling up Ebnal’s bleak expression.

    “Commander, I don’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to express my condolences on the loss of Captain Lar’ragos.”

    “Thank you, sir.” Wu had pushed aside her own personal feelings over the captain’s death, as well as her morbid realization that unless another commanding officer was selected to assume Pava’s post, she would likely become the fourth CO Europa’s crew had known in little more than a year of active service. Those subsumed emotions threatened to surface, and Wu’s jaw rippled with the effort to tamp them down yet again.

    “That being said, I’m appointing you Europa’s acting captain. I don’t have the authority to award you a battlefield promotion to full commander, but under the circumstances that hardly matters. Pick whomever you feel is best suited as your XO and do your best. That’s all I can ask of you.”

    “Aye, sir. Thank you, Captain.” Wu answered numbly. A part of her mused that this wasn’t exactly the speech she’d imagined from the legendarily taciturn Ebnal.

    “Your CIC is handing over operational control to mine, so as soon as that’s complete, you can shut yours down and re-task your personnel. We’ll still need Europa’s sensors and transwarp capabilities for reconnaissance, so you’re still an integral component of this taskforce.”

    “Understood, sir.”

    Ebnal’s workstation chimed with an incoming message, which he put on hold. “I have to return to the battle, but before I go I want you to know we’re working on recovering Lar’ragos’ remains and capturing or killing Sandhurst.”

    Wu nodded distractedly, still absorbing the weight that was settling upon her. “Good to know, sir.”

    “Good luck, Captain.” Ebnal severed the transmission.

    “To us all,” Wu murmured, taking a long moment to collect her thoughts and center herself before returning to the bridge.

    * * *​

    Ebnal stepped onto Venture’s battle-bridge, the command center now serving as the battlegroup’s CIC. The room was abuzz with frenetic purpose as science, engineering, and tactical specialists analyzed volumes of information streaming in from the battlegroup’s shared scans.

    “Status of the raid on the Amon ship?”

    “They’re meeting heavy resistance, sir, and are reporting casualties. Commander Remington’s asked for Klingon shock troops to be beamed over to assist and Brigadier Gan’Louk has obliged."

    ‘Damn right,’ Ebnal thought to himself. ‘He should, seeing as the Amon just killed his father.’

    Ebnal walked a slow circuit of the CIC, glancing over dozens of displays that depicted the ongoing operation. “How far along are we on mapping the station?”

    Europa’s just signaled that they’ve compiled the battlegroup’s scans and synced them with their own. We’ve identified priority areas for our boarding teams and assigned sectors of operation for those teams.”

    He nodded in response. “Let’s see it.”

    A wire-frame representation of Shul’Nazhar in all its massive glory came to life in midair in front of Ebnal. Arrows and primary colors indicated those locations deemed to be of greatest significance to their experts.

    Ebnal gave the schematic a last look as he ordered, “Give the order for all vessels to deploy boarding teams to their pre-assigned sectors of control.”

    * * *​
     
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  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Things are heating up and at least for now,, everything seems to be going Ebnal's way. Yeah, I know, that won't last long.

    And it looks as if Europa has inherited Gibraltars status of being a cursed starship. This is one command Wu really shouldn't want.
     
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  5. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    Nice to see this story moving along again. I've missed these folks. Great read, though I feel like I've stepped into the eye of a hurricane ... and I LOVE it! :techman:
     
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  6. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Amon Homeship Transcendent

    What had begun as a relatively simple extraction had quickly devolved into what Lt. Commander Adelade Remington of the Starfleet Special Missions Teams classified a total Targ-screw.

    Though many Amon in the cube’s command center had been rendered unconscious or dazed by the photon grenades that preceded the SMT’s boarding action, a half-dozen of their warriors had erected defensive forcefields in time to shield themselves. Those Amon, consequently, were more than ready to contest Starfleet’s incursion onto their vessel in the strongest possible terms.

    Two of Remington’s team were dead before they’d fully materialized, their coalescing molecules scrambled by sustained blasts from Amon battle-staffs. Once she and her team were released from the transporter’s clutches, the fight began in earnest with vicious exchanges of energy beams criss-crossing the cavernous chamber.

    The team’s heavy-gunner directed a stream of hypersonic explosive flechettes from his gauss rifle at the nearest Amon, whose body armor held up admirably to the onslaught, protecting her for a full two-and-a-half seconds before she was reduced to a pink mist.

    The SMT’s pulse-phaser carbines were less effective against the armored and shielded Amon battle suits, and conversely, Starfleet’s vaunted combat armor proved vulnerable to the Amon compressed tetryon beams. Within a minute of their arrival, the Starfleet teams had taken nearly fifty-percent casualties.

    “Special Missions to Klingon Command, requesting immediate emergency assistance at our location!” Remington called out over the frequency she’d arranged beforehand with their Klingon counterparts. She hated the thought of calling upon the turtle-heads for help, but there was no avoiding it under the circumstances.

    “HeDaq!” was their curt reply… On the way.

    Amidst the surrounding chaos, Remington spotted the insensate form of Zeischt/Sandhurst sprawled across the remains of Captain Lar’ragos. “Covering fire!” she shouted as she lobbed an explosive photon grenade from her carbine’s underslung launcher. She scuttled forward in a crouch as an Amon beam sizzled just over her to blast another of her team off his feet. The detonation of her grenade sent two of the enemy cartwheeling high into the air.

    While she couldn’t have cared less about the fate of the turncoat Sandhurst, Lar’ragos had himself been an SMT operator, a legend in their small, close-knit special forces community. Remington would be damned if she would allow the Amon to desecrate his remains.

    She aimed her carbine at the deck, between the feet of an advancing Amon soldier, and vaporized the plating there. The warrior plunged through the resulting hole with an almost comically surprised expression on his face. If not for the desperation of the situation, Remington might have laughed.

    The Klingon shock troops coming to Remington’s assistance materialized in a red haze, their bat’leths already arcing towards their first targets as they regained cohesion. More Amon began swarming into the compartment at the same time, and the cavernous bay was filled with the crash of metal on metal, the squeal of collimated energy discharges and cries of bloodlust and pain.

    Remington maximized the distraction of the Klingons’ arrival, maneuvering for her first clear shot at her targets. She ducked under the incoming blow from a Klingon sword which clashed mightily with an Amon staff just behind her as she aimed at the prostrate forms of Zeischt and Lar’ragos. Remington fired two transporter tags from an attachment to her weapon. The bodies were swept away in a transport beam. She activated her comms and shouted, “Mis-com! Repeat, mis-com; get us the hell out of here!”

    * * *​

    USS Europa

    Wu strode into the ready room with Lieutenant Georgia Kirk close behind her. The acting captain had intended to inform Kirk of her decisions to make the lieutenant her executive officer, but all thoughts on that track evaporated at the unexpected sight of a Vulcan woman sitting behind the desk.

    “You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you here,” A’lasha said with a wry grin as the two officers tensed. The woman was clad in a form-fitting bodysuit, something akin to the undergarment worn beneath an EVA suit or combat armor.

    “Security to captain’s ready room!” Wu barked, moving around one side of the desk as Kirk followed her lead and approached from the other direction. A forcefield rebuffed both women simultaneously, sending them staggered backwards away from the Vulcan.

    There was a moment’s silence as it became apparent that Wu’s call for assistance had not been acknowledged. “Who are you?” Wu demanded. “What’s going on here?”

    “We haven’t much time,” A’lasha explained. “I’m the one who compromised the Amon ship’s shields and weapons before beating a hasty retreat from their ship. I’m on your side, and at present I’m also in control of your security and communications subroutines.” She stood from behind the desk as she toggled an LCARS control set into the desktop. “Verrik can confirm my identity.”

    A site-to-site transport engaged, and a quizzical looking Verrik materialized between where Wu and Kirk stood. As soon as he’d regained his senses, Verrik turned his head to observe the intruder. “A’lasha. Encountering you again is… disagreeable.”

    Wu looked to Verrik. “You know her?”

    Verrik’s countenance grew more severe. “Yes, Commander. She is an operative for Starfleet’s illicit Section 31 cabal. A’lasha was formerly a non-corporeal katric energy pattern, able to jump from one sentient being to another and seize control of their bodies at will. She inhabited Lieutenant Juneau for over a year, and briefly took up residence within me, most notably during Commodore Sandhurst’s armed escape from Europa.” He broke his gaze free from A’lasha to address Wu directly. “Following the escape, her katra was removed from me and she was given physical form by the Amon.”

    “Again,” A’lasha redirected the conversation back on topic, “time is of the essence. The Amon ship will likely regain control of their systems in short order. I’d recommend beaming over some kind of long-range tracking device enabling you to locate the cube later for collection and forensic evaluation. Amon weapons systems could advance Federation defense technology by decades, perhaps centuries.”

    Wu gave the Vulcan woman a curious look. “You don’t think they’ll have something to say about that? I doubt very much that the Amon would tolerate our trying to hunt them down.”

    A’lasha offered a knowing smile as a flight of Klingon torpedoes raced past the viewport, the greenish light from which flashed briefly throughout the ready room. “The Amon will almost certainly escape from here, but their freedom will likely be short-lived. A time-delayed Alpha Weapon has been deployed against them.”

    Wu stiffened at that revelation. “On who’s authority?” She cast a glance in Verrik’s direction, a non-verbal query to which the lieutenant merely shook his head fractionally in reply. As the ship’s Strategic Operations Officer, Verrik would be aware of any Alpha Weapons usage by the task force.

    “Captain Lar’ragos, of course.” A’lasha replied. “He deployed an energy-based retro-pathogen into the Amon life-essence reclamation and ingestion cycle when he expired.”

    Verrik raised a fascinated eyebrow. “You’re saying the captain essentially acted as some manner of suicide weapon?”

    This news prompted Wu’s knees to nearly give out, and she sank into one of the chairs facing the ready room’s desk. She had known of Lar’ragos being listed as an Alpha Weapon in the ship’s armory inventory, a seemingly glaring oversight on the part of Starfleet logistics. She’d dared to hope that it had been a tongue-in-cheek insider’s reference to the man’s legendary lethality, but not this… never this.

    “Precisely,” A’lasha confirmed, watching Wu’s reaction with a kind of detached bemusement. “Based on the information provided some months ago by Sandhurst after his initial abduction by the Amon, my cohorts were able to design an energy pattern that mimicked the one consumed by the Amon. This pattern, however, would degrade the reception points within Amon biology that allow them to metabolize that energy matrix.”

    Verrik’s frown was not in keeping with his people’s customary emotional discipline, but his distaste for the act was so great he was unable to prevent it. “You seek to starve an entire species to death,” he summarized.

    Her answer was accompanied by the same persistent dark smile Verrik had come to know during their time together aboard the cube. It was, he mused, likely the very one she’d worn when last she had been corporeal, over two-thousand years earlier. “Two species, actually. We have high hopes that the Skorrah and Amon are still similar enough genetically that it will eliminate both.”

    Wu fought the urge to cradle her head in her hands. “How the hell did your ‘friends’ manage to cook this up?”

    “We captured multiple injured Skorrah warriors left behind during their attack on Blue Horizon.”

    Verrik cocked his head, as though he’d heard her incorrectly. “I’ve seen the Starfleet after-action reports from Blue Horizon. There were no Skorrah survivors located.”

    “By the time Starfleet arrived on scene, we were already safely away with them,” she rejoined smoothly.

    “All angles covered, eh?” Kirk spat with a sneer. “You monsters give the Skorrah a run for their latinum in the bloodthirsty department.”

    “As much as I would love to debate the finer points of morality with you, Lieutenant, we don’t have the time.”

    “Why come to me with this,” Wu pressed. “Why not Captain Ebnal?”

    “You know as well as I that Lucian Ebnal wouldn’t hear me out in any kind of workable time frame. Your window of opportunity is swiftly closing.”

    Wu directed a pointed look at A’lasha. “If you want me to order a tracker beamed over to the cube, you’ll need to deactivate your…” she waved a hand at the surrounding compartment, “…null field, subspace scrambler… whatever.”

    “I need your word that I’ll have your cooperation,” A’lasha insisted.

    Wu’s hesitation was necessarily brief. “You have my word.”

    * * *​

    Waves of Klingon soldiers and Starfleet Marines began to materialize throughout the gargantuan space station, fanning out in all directions to seize and secure those areas designated as being likely command and control nodes. Preceded by swarms of tactical drones that scouted ahead for threats, the progress of these combat teams was closely monitored by the surrounding battle group.

    The spacious corridors of this section of Shul’Nazhar were dimly lit by what appeared to be bio-luminescent strips set into the ridged bulkheads. The Starfleet Marine recon team’s progress was slow, given the sensor-refractive nature of the alloys used to build this module, which housed several of the mammoth station’s Petawatt-output power generators.

    The Marines played their rifle-mounted lights around as they visually scanned for hostile contacts. They were proceeding with enormous caution, given the Skorrah’s chilling reputation for brute savagery, checking every proverbial nook and cranny for anything threatening.

    As they began to clear a T-junction, the sergeant at the point position held up a meaty, three-fingered fist, causing the rest of the team to halt in their tracks. “I’ve got something,” the stocky reptilian non-com assessed. “Hold this position; defensive screen. Sensors up.”

    The squad’s scanning tech moved to the front as the rest of the team fanned out to cover all potential approaches to their position. On the floor of the corridor was a crystalline mass, as though something had draped an opaque, semi-organic blanket over a prostrate form lying on the deck. The crystal-like substance appeared to have grown over whatever lay beneath, and then across part of the floor itself.

    A pinkish light glowed dimly from within the mass, dimming and then brightening slowly. The sensor tech detached a scanning wand from her combat tricorder and swept it over the form. She consulted her display before announcing, “Life readings, but very weak, almost as though whatever’s in here is in some kind of stasis.”

    “A threat?” the sergeant asked.

    “Not at the moment,” the tech replied, “but I’d suggest getting one of those egghead Fleeter science types over here. This is over my head.”

    The sergeant put out a call over the Marines TacNet for a starship to beam a science specialist to their location before turning a grim expression on the tech. “If you had to guess?”

    She cocked her head slightly, pursing her lips. “Something buggy?” Her expression brightened, anchored by a sarcastic grin. “Say, you remember those insectoids we tangled with on Avala Minor last year?”

    The sergeant was unable to suppress a shudder at the memory. “Don’t even joke about that, Corporal.”

    * * *​

    Lieutenant Shanthi had been the closest science officer to the squad’s position, and thus the one selected by Venture’s CIC to assist. Reports were now flooding in from other parts of the station indicating similar phenomena were being encountered by other teams.

    He studied the results on an over-sized padd as the intensive scanning armature swept back and forth over the crystalline mass. Shanthi had brought the portable sensor device with him to get a more in-depth analysis of the object than a standard tricorder could produce.

    The Marine combat team had moved on to continue their sweep and clear, so Shanthi was accompanied by Dominic Leone and a security team from Europa. Leone watched Shanthi work, repeatedly resisting the urge to kick at the mass with the toe of his boot. “Looks biological,” he remarked off-handedly.

    “Yes,” Shanthi replied, his gaze still fixed to his padd. “And unless I’m way off-base, this is some kind of chrysalis.”

    Leone frowned. “I was afraid you’d say something like that. Let me guess, you don’t think a big, beautiful butterfly is going to crawl out from there, do you?”

    Shanthi finally broke away from his readouts, favoring Leone with an equally dour expression. “Genetic markers indicate there’s a Skorrah inside here, but the DNA profile differs significantly from what we know to be baseline Amon.”

    “Meaning?” Leone asked, already wincing in anticipation of the answer.

    “Whatever’s inside here will emerge very differently than when it entered this transformative state. Statistically speaking, exo-biological sampling from across our quadrant of the Milky Way offers an eighty-two percent probability that the emerging creature will be larger, more complex, and more aggressive than it started out.”

    Leone casually ramped up the setting of his phaser rifle as he remarked, “Has anyone ever told you what a ray of sunshine you are, Kuenre?”

    Shanthi cracked a tense grin. “Constantly.”

    * * *​
     
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  7. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    Washington, OK
    BLOW. IT. UP.
     
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  8. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    This is all going to end in tears. I know it.
     
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh boy, way to keep up the intensity here. And now we are going to face something MORE aggressive than the Skorrah? If I'd be part of this mission, I'd be all "Screw you guys, I'm going home."
     
  10. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Ebnal had only lasted minutes in CIC before he’d returned to resume his place on the bridge. He knew he should be delegating from the task force command center, but he was loath to pass his orders through an intermediary while in the thick of things.

    Venture’s Ops officer announced, “It looks like the Amon systems are coming back online, Captain.”

    The Denobulan at Tactical added, “Transporter chief confirms the SMT’s are back aboard. Casualties were heavy, but the mission was a success, sir.”

    “Open fire, all ships.” Ebnal stood, glowering at the viewscreen as Starfleet and Klingon weapons fire slammed into the mighty cube. “Prep one of the zero-point Alpha Weapons. I’ve already entered my security code.”

    The XO quickly added his counter-authorization, arming the device. “Good to go, sir.”

    “Smoke the bastards,” Ebnal growled.

    At that moment, the Amon regained control of their weapons and defenses. Though the task force’s opening salvo had savaged the outer skin of the cube, most of the vessel’s weapons emplacements remained undamaged.

    A searing white cutting beam lanced out from the cube to punch through the shields of a Klingon K’tinga-class cruiser, slicing cleanly through the graceful neck of the ship and causing the two halves to spin away in opposite directions.

    A swarm of missiles and torpedoes raced towards the task force, some of them winking out of existence en route, only to rematerialize inside their targets. The Ambassador-class Sheffield ceased to exist as a massive explosion consumed the starship.

    Other craft engaged in wild evasive maneuvers, hoping to avoid the incoming wave of projectiles. Phasers and disruptors that had been trained on the cube were now desperately trying to intercept the oncoming warheads.

    Amel-Saff was fortunate to have only lost her port nacelle in a collision with the aft third of a Klingon Vor’cha-class battlecruiser blown free from another concussive detonation.

    Two proto-matter missiles struck Venture, followed by a string of harrowingly potent disruptor pulses that smashed into their depleted forward shields. The great ship shuddered in a way Ebnal hadn’t felt since Venture had been sandwiched between two Dominion dreadnaughts during the Battle of Betazed.

    “EPS overloads, multiple decks!” an ensign at the damage control board called out. “Hull breaches on Decks 12 and—“

    Ops drown her out, “Shields down to twenty-seven percent!”

    “Forward torpedo launcher is inoperative,” the Tactical officer observed. “The Alpha Weapon is still in the tube.”

    Ebnal pounded on his chair’s armrest in frustration. “Get that Alpha launched! I don’t care if you have to beam it out; we can’t take punishment like this for much longer!”

    “Lieutenant Jevric from Engineering is in an EVA suit, trying to clear the tube, Captain.”

    He forced himself to relax, and watched as another outgoing wave of torpedoes from the task force caused explosions to blossom across the periphery of the cube’s powerful subspace defense field.

    “Are any of the other ships able to launch an Alpha Weapon?” Ebnal inquired on a direct comms line to the CIC.

    “Negative, sir,” came the dour response. “All ships have standard ordinance cycling through their launch systems. It will take three-plus minutes for any of them to get an Alpha Weapon loaded.”

    A Klingon cruiser trailing debris and radiation from multiple hull breaches made a full-impulse suicide run on the cube, only to be shredded by a blistering Gatling-style discharge of jacketed ion pulses that reduced the warship to a cloud of expanding gas.

    The Steamrunner-class Turov imploded in the lethal grip of an Amon isolytic charge that briefly subjected the starship to the gravitational forces found in the heart of a neutron star.

    “Tube is clear,” the officer manning the bridge’s engineering console exhaled with relief. “Lieutenant Jevric will need sixty seconds to evacuate the tube before we can—“

    “No,” Ebnal rasped. “We don’t have a minute. Fire the Alpha Weapon now.”

    “But sir, he's still in…”

    “Now!” Ebnal barked.

    There was a deathly silence on the bridge, punctuated by the words, “Alpha weapon is away, sir.”

    A Klingon frigate winged-over, gracefully outmaneuvering three incoming torpedoes, only to be caught by the forth and final one. She detonated soundlessly in a brilliant, spherical bloom of destruction.

    The Amon launched a magnetometric guided charge, essentially a highly compressed wave of magnetic energy, which swept across a dozen Klingon and Starfleet ships. The impacts from this wall of energy scattered the vessels like leaves on the wind. The comms channels were flooded with urgent reports of shield collapse, sundry hull breaches and structural integrity failures.

    The Amon cube appeared to flicker as a massive distortion warped light in the vicinity of the craft. The entire vessel seemed to be flung back away from the Alpha Weapon’s impact, shedding layers of glowing debris in its wake. The exterior lights on the cube as well as the persistent interior glow of the mighty craft began to wane.

    “Direct hit! Reading gravimetric shearing stresses that are off the charts. I’m seeing complete collapse of their subspace field and significant damage, Captain. Power systems on the cube are fluctuating, and they’ve ceased fire.”

    “Maintain fire, all ships,” Ebnal ordered.

    Phasers, torpedo impacts, and disruptor blasts scoured the nearest facets of the cube, and secondary explosions began to erupt from deeper within the ship.

    Ops noted, “They appear to be shifting all remaining power to propulsion, sir.”

    “Target their engines, then,” Ebnal snapped.

    The cube streaked away to vanish in a distant flash of light.

    No one on the bridge dared voice the obvious in the face of Ebnal’s colorful invective.

    “Pursuit course,” Ebnal ordered, having exhausted his impressive supply of profanity.

    “Sir…” his XO broached hesitantly. “Only a handful of ships are in any shape to pursue.”

    “Our warp drive is offline at present, Captain,” added Engineering.

    Sheffield and Turov have been destroyed,” the Ops manager offered. “Amel-Saff, Samarkand, Istanbul, and Lancer all report serious damage and casualties, sir. The Klingons report seven ships destroyed, several more heavily damaged.”

    Ebnal slumped back into his seat, grinding his teeth at the idea of the Amon escaping their clutches yet again.

    “We’ve dealt them a serious blow, sir,” his XO noted hopefully. “It appears we’re in the process of taking Shul’Nazhar without opposition, and might I add we now have an Amon prisoner aboard whom we can interrogate. Perhaps the Amon arranged a pre-set fallback position?”

    Ebnal’s eyes narrowed as a dark smile spread across his features. “Yes,” he breathed. “We do, don’t we?”

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
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  11. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    You are still the master of brutal battle scenes. That was intense! :eek: Captain Ebnal made a terribly difficult command decision in launching the Alpha weapon, costing the lives of several of Venture's crew. I imagine he will face many sleepless nights over that. Still, if he had not made the call, the allied battle group would have been wiped out.

    Still wondering as to the effects of the deadly pathogen that Pava left as a present for the Amon - how long until it kicks in? And what of Zeischt and Pava's body? I'm sure there are questions aplenty for the former Captain Sandhurst. And will Pava pull a Spock? Do they have a Genesis torpedo in the Alpha weapons inventory?

    Too many questions and not enough answers. Type faster! :brickwall:
     
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  12. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    More, please! This is awesome! The way you describe the scene, I feel like I was there!
     
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  13. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    Washington, OK
    Hooooo boy, c'mon guys.....you know better than that.....
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
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  14. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    More unrelenting, bare-knuckle, intense battles. No easy day for this task force and this day ain't over yet, it seems. The losses keep mounting and I wonder at what point the price becomes too high.

    I have the bad feeling Pava might actually be lost, so now the question remains, is Sandhurst still salvageable in any way or form because this series is quickly running out of its heroes
     
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  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    USS Europa

    Wu and Kirk returned to the bridge, accompanied by A’lasha, with the commander giving only a vague explanation of who the woman was, and how she’d come aboard.

    A’lasha settled into the mission specialist’s seat to the left of the captain’s chair, appearing just a bit uncomfortable being in what amounted to the public eye. She had served alongside some of these people for years, yet they’d never before met her in the flesh.

    The port turbolift opened to admit Shanthi to the bridge, his brow furrowed in concentration as he studied a padd on the way to the Science station.

    Wu cast a glance in the younger man’s direction. “Mister Shanthi, what’s the situation aboard the station?”

    Shanthi made a delaying gesture as he took a brief moment to sync his padd with his workstation, before turning in his chair to address the new commanding officer. “We’ve got a battalion of Marines and thousands of Klingon warriors beginning to clear the more critical areas aboard the station, sir. They’re supplemented by hundreds of recon probes and tactical drones that are scouting ahead of their search teams to map the installation.”

    Ensign Ladrun at Ops advised, “Commander, we’ve confirmed that our transponder array made it safely aboard the Amon cube during the last wave of fire from the task force. We’re picking up a low power locator signal that indicates they’re heading for an A-Type star located six-point-seven light years distant. They’re holding steady at Warp Seven.”

    At the Flight Control station, Lightner cocked his head to appraise the younger officer seated to his immediate left. “Captain,” he muttered across to Ladrun. “She’s the captain now.”

    The Tiburonian blanched with embarrassment. “Apologies, Captain.”

    Wu couldn’t completely suppress her self-conscious grimace. “That’s okay, Ensign. It’s… new for all of us.” Shifting gears as she assumed the center seat, Wu observed, “The Amon have transwarp capability, same as us, so we must have knocked that offline with that last barrage.”

    “Their damage control assets are formidable,” A’lasha warned. “Even having suffered near-catastrophic damage, you can expect they’ll affect repairs within days.”

    Kirk frowned in response to that news. “Great,” she muttered sardonically. “That leaves us back at square one, only next time they’ll have the advantage in any confrontation with us.”

    “Not if you run them to ground and finish this,” A’lasha incited. “The virus Lar’ragos unleashed upon them will complicate matters. Even if it doesn’t kill them outright, it should sicken them and give your task force the opportunity it needs to exterminate them.”

    An awkward silence followed the unwelcome insinuation regarding Lar’ragos. Officers cast uncertain glances at one another across the compartment.

    Verrik stepped in to fill the void, offering, “I am forced to agree with our guest, Captain. Given their resources, our only viable option is to hunt the Amon down and utilize our stock of Alpha Weapons to neutralize the threat they pose.” He looked pointedly at Wu. “Now that battle has been joined, the Amon will have categorized us as a threat to be annihilated. We caught them off-guard once; they won’t allow that to occur again.”

    Wu nodded slowly, then directed Verrik’s attention towards A’lasha. “Mister Verrik, I’m placing you in charge of minding our guest.” To Ops, Wu ordered, “Contact Venture and request a meeting between myself and Captain Ebnal. Let them know it’s urgent.”

    * * *​

    USS Venture
    Observation Lounge – Deck 1


    Lucian Ebnal glared across the conference table at A’lasha, who was flanked by two of Venture’s security personnel. After being informed of the Vulcan’s presence aboard Europa, Ebnal had insisted that A’lasha accompany Wu aboard Venture to explain herself.

    “So,” he drawled acerbically, “I’m supposed to take you at your word that you’re part of this super-secret intel cabal?”

    A’lasha offered a wry smirk as she replied, “It’s comforting to know that you’re just as big an ass as your reputation suggests, Lucian. Frankly, I don’t care what you believe.”

    Wu frowned from where she sat one seat over from the Vulcan operative. “A’lasha, this isn’t helping…”

    Ebnal leaned across the table, a hungry expression radiating across his features. He was legendary for both his temper and venom when provoked. “And were I to accept that claim at face value, what’s the word of a treasonous assassin worth?”

    A’lasha’s mien darkened, all traces of amusement vanishing. “You may take issue with Section 31’s tactics, Captain, but we’re on the same side. Both the Amon and the Skorrah are existential threats to the Federation, threats that we’ve actively moved to extinguish.”

    “You use Captain Lar’ragos as some kind of unwitting delivery system for your sadistic weapon?” Ebnal spat. “Is that supposed to engender some kind of admiration from me? Sure, I’m a bloodthirsty son-of-a-bitch, but there are lines even I won’t cross.”

    She refused to be goaded into an emotional display, remaining as dispassionate as her modern Vulcan brethren. “Lar’ragos participated of his own volition. The man was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. He gave his life to safeguard the Federation. If you don’t move to finish off the Amon now, his sacrifice will have been in vain.”

    “Once this station has been secured, I may just do that,” Ebnal allowed. “However, this task force’s strategy is no concern of yours, and I haven’t any more time to waste on you.” Ebnal gestured for the two security personnel to step forward.

    A’lasha cocked her head thoughtfully, and then set her hand palm down atop the table. The area beneath her hand glowed briefly as the computer recognized her palm print through the table’s LCARS interface. “Computer,” A’lasha stated, “Erect a Level-10 containment field around Captain Ebnal and transport the two security staff to the brig.”

    The guards vanished in twin transporter beams as a forcefield snapped into existence around Ebnal’s chair. For the second time that day, Ebnal was rendered speechless.

    “Computer, place containment fields around the perimeter of this compartment to block all avenues of entrance or exit. Accept command and control inputs from myself only beyond this point.” A’lasha remained seated, staring impassively at Ebnal. “This is to settle the matter of my credentials, Captain.”

    Wu jumped to her feet and moved to grab hold of A’lasha. The Vulcan, still seated, merely deflected Wu’s attempt, grabbed Wu with one hand and flung the officer the length of the conference table to crash awkwardly to the floor atop a pair of upset chairs.

    Ebnal attempted to verbally countermand A’lasha’s orders, but the computer stubbornly refused to acknowledge him.

    “I can seize control of your ship at a word any time I like, Captain. I doubt you’d believe it, but I don’t enjoy such a blatant display of our capabilities. Unfortunately, you’ve left me little choice.” A’lasha rose slowly, almost languidly form her seat. “Do we have an understanding, Captain Ebnal?”

    Ebnal’s silence spoke volumes.

    A’lasha released an exasperated sigh. “Captain, at present your task force is seizing control of a star fortress that has the capability to open transit portals into any galaxy in the local cluster. The answer to all our problems is staring you in the face, yet you’re too blind to see it.”

    Wu clambered back to her feet, grimacing as she experimentally shrugged a shoulder nearly wrenched from its socket by A’lasha’s Vulcan strength. “Explain it then,” Wu muttered, her good hand slapping ineffectively at her non-functioning combadge.

    “I’m not just talking about the Amon and the Skorrah,” A’lasha enlightened the pair. “Using Shul’Nazhar, we can redirect the alien fleets encroaching on the Alpha Quadrant anywhere we please. If we’re feeling generous, we can deliver them to Class-M worlds in any of a half-dozen nearby galaxies. Those that prove utterly predatory, like the Skorrah or the Kothlis’Ka Armada, we can maroon in the vast emptiness of intergalactic space.”

    Ebnal’s eyes widened as he absorbed her words. “How do we know that we can divine the transit portal’s operating systems?”

    “I’ve lived among the Amon for months. Though powerful, they are relatively simple, technologically speaking. They co-opted the Borg into maintaining their cube-ship, but otherwise their understanding of alien technologies is seriously lacking. If their cousins the Skorrah were able to figure out how to open the portals, I have every confidence that we can follow suit in short order.”

    A’lasha typed a brief string of commands into the LCARS interface in the table top, releasing the containment field around Ebnal. “Think of it, Captain. With Shul’Nazhar in our possession, no one would ever be able to effectively threaten the Federation again. We could send battle fleets into orbit of any hostile planet, and bring them to their knees within minutes.”

    A new light now burned behind Ebnal’s eyes, the shining idea of a secure Federation rising ascendant from the chaos following the Dominion War and the Refugee Crisis. His anger at A’lasha’s antics and impertinence vanished. “What about the Klingons?”

    A’lasha’s smile returned. “One thing at a time, Captain.”

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
    CeJay and mthompson1701 like this.
  16. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    "What about the Klingons?"

    I don't think A'lasha heard the question the way you intended, Captain Ebnal.
     
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  17. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Okay, um A’lasha is clearly not to be trifled with and has no compunctions of demonstrating how much in control she is. I think she has just become one of the most dangerous persons in this story. Good thing she is kinda/sorta on the right side. For now.

    And now Shul’Nazhar is to become Starfleet's newest super-weapon? I can see how Ebnal would like the sound of this, and it certainly would be a nice ace up their sleeve against the Amon but they better remember that all proverb about absolute power. It just never ends well.
     
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  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Shul'Nazhar

    Shanthi looked on as the transporter beam engulfed the crystalline mass. The Skorrah chrysalis seemed to rebuff the transporter’s efforts, causing the beam to shift and stutter until the surrounding transport pattern enhancer cylinders activated. Finally, the mass vanished, leaving behind striations and gouges in the flooring where the chrysalis had bonded to the corridor’s decking.

    The young science officer gave the engineer standing next to him a surprised look. “That took a lot more power than I’d have thought necessary.”

    The engineer, seconded from the starship Istanbul, nodded agreeably. “Yes,” she said. “There’s some kind of refractive resonance field infused into the chrysalis that gives the transporter fits. Thankfully, the pattern enhancers are able to overcome the interference.”

    Shanthi shook his head in disbelief. “How much extra time is that going to add to the process?”

    “Well,” she answered, blowing out a resigned breath, “that was chrysalis number seventeen being permanently dematerialized. We’ve got an automated transporter protocol in place now, and we’ve shaved the time down to around ten minutes per. At last report, our scouting teams had identified upwards of forty-thousand chrysalises throughout the station. There are probably more… a lot more. So, at this rate, upwards of forty years, give or take.”

    “Damn,” he muttered. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

    Shanthi continued on, making his way through a circular doorway that irised open at his approach, entering what had been identified as the primary control nexus for Shul’Nazhar’s spatial transit portal system.

    The compartment was enormous, and contained numerous conical work stations, some measuring twenty meters in height, rising up like technological stalagmites. Circular walkways ringed these conical interfaces, allowing humanoid-sized beings to stand on multiple tiers to access the control consoles.

    “Ah, our resident cybernetics expert arrives!” crowed an older male officer clad in a Sciences-blue undershirt in a heavy Russian accent. He gazed down at Shanthi from a control-access platform some ten meters overhead.

    “Commander Yakovlev, I presume?” Shanthi asked with a broad smile as he gazed up at the elder researcher, a man who had been Shanthi’s most influential instructor and mentor at Starfleet Academy.

    Surprisingly spry for an octogenarian, Yakovlev descended a rail-less circular stairway that had likely been designed for some kind of insectoid species. Reaching the bottom, he enveloped Shanthi in a bear hug and then held the younger man at arm’s length after placing kisses on both the lieutenant’s cheeks. “Da, you young mensch! How are you?”

    “I’m well, Joseph Dimitrovitch. And you?”

    Oy, for six months they keep me frozen, ship me to the Delta Quadrant and then wake me just in time to cast me off into another galaxy! These old bones don’t know whether I’m coming or going.” The radiant smile on the man’s face belied his theatrical tale of woe. Shanthi well knew the man lived for new discoveries, and Shul’Nazhar was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    Shanthi took another moment to admire the artistic simplicity of the surrounding interfaces. “Hard to believe that systems so radically advanced can be managed with comparative ease.”

    Yakovlev bobbed his bearded visage enthusiastically. “Very much so. The axiom that the more advanced the technology the simpler the interface applies here.” The scientist paused, and then beamed at his protégé. “Your mother sends her love, Kuenre. She’s very proud of the career and reputation you’ve built for yourself.”

    Thankful that his blush-response was subdued due to the darkness of his complexion, Shanthi silently basked in his mother’s praise for a moment. It was a sensation he did not often allow himself. He had tried very hard to set himself apart from his mother and her storied career in Starfleet, the bane of every ‘legacy’ officer following in a parent’s footsteps.

    “How is she, Joseph?” Shanthi inquired.

    “As always, she’s unwilling to remain idle. Thousana’s been out of uniform long enough now to be considered for the position of Senior Defense Advisor to the Security Council. It’s that or Undersecretary of Defense; she’s not suffering from a lack of employment offers.”

    “She likes to keep her fingers on the pulse of the Federation,” he acknowledged. Turning back to the displays, Shanthi asked, “What can I do for you here, Joseph?”

    “I need help cracking the logic sequencing in Shul’Nazhar’s portal-control computers. The operating system’s code is ridiculously complex, probably a necessity seeing as the hardware is a mix of over a dozen different exotic technologies spanning eons. I have months-old bio-neural circuitry interfacing with duotronic subprocessors that look to be over ten-thousand years old. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how this all fits together, and how this marvelous device can possibly even function given it’s pedigree.”

    Shanthi’s smile widened. “It sounds like a challenge.”

    “Da,” Yakovlev agreed, “the kind that gives me ulcers. Captain Ebnal wants this done yesterday, and he strikes me as a man I don’t wish to disappoint.”

    “I’m glad you asked for me, and as it turns out, I may be of even more help that you thought.”

    Yakovlev raised a shaggy, snow-white eyebrow. “Oh, really?”

    The younger man’s reply was accompanied by a broad, toothy smile. “Beware Zulu’s bearing Bynars, my old friend.”

    Yakovlev’s eyes brightened. “You don’t say!”

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  19. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Is this the quiet before the storm? Regardless, looks like the task of fully exploring and utilizing this monstrosity of a space station is going to be monumental. Could keep Starfleet busy for decades to come. I somewhat doubt they will have the time. After all, the only constant so far is rapid, and often unexpected change.
     
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  20. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    USS Venture
    Deck 5, Security Detention Area


    He hadn’t fought the containment field, he’d known there would be no point.

    His dearest friend was dead. His wife was either dead or hopelessly lost to him. His Starfleet career, once the most important thing in his life, was now a shattered wreck. He was a deserter, a turncoat, a traitor, heir to the mantel of such men as Ronald Tracy, Lance Cartwright, and Michael Eddington.

    “You know, I’d seen images of the ‘new’ you, but if I weren’t seeing it with my own eyes I’d hardly believe it.” Those were Lucian Ebnal’s opening words to Zeischt as he stepped in front of the brig-cell’s security screen.

    Zeischt sat up slowly on the cell’s bunk, stretching and rubbing his eyes. “Lucian,” he acknowledged. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”

    Ebnal stood with arms folded across his chest, glowering at the man who had once been his first officer. “This is the first of what I imagine will be many interrogations prior to your court-martial for desertion, dereliction of duty, and assault on fellow Starfleet personnel.” Clearly agitated, Ebnal looked as if he wanted to rush into the cell and exact justice with his own two hands. “I’m tempted to come in there and kick your ass myself.”

    However, Ebnal paused at the appearance of the knowing smile that graced Zeischt’s lips. “You are most welcome to try, Captain.” The Amon paused to examine his hand, which he held out, palm down. It trembled ever so slightly, and Zeischt clenched it into a defiant fist, as if trying to wish away his growing weakness.

    “God, you look like you’re detoxing from Syndicate-Y.”

    “It’s an apt analogy,” Zeischt admitted. “Only in my case the need is even more destructive physiologically. I’m afraid you won’t get to watch my court-martial, unless you plan on holding it within the next few days.”

    Ebnal sneered. “We’ll put you in stasis if necessary.”

    Zeischt shook his head in response. “Amon metabolism is more accelerated than most humanoids. Stasis or even cryogenic suspension won’t slow the deterioration of my tissues by much. I’m the proverbial dead man walking, Lucian.”

    “Well, well, I guess being a traitor has consequences. Who knew?”

    The former Starfleet captain stood and stepped to the field, gazing across the invisible threshold at Ebnal. “I rejoined the Amon to protect the Alpha Quadrant from them and the Skorrah. Starfleet was powerless to stop them.”

    Ebnal’s retort was an acidic, “And look how that turned out!”

    Zeischt inclined his head, conceding the point. “I underestimated their cultural taboo against taking up arms against another of their tribes. That was my mistake. Pava and a great many others have paid the price for it with their lives.”

    “Speaking of Lar’ragos," Ebnal interjected, "you just stood by and let them execute a fellow Starfleet officer? For God’s sake, Donald, the man was your friend!”

    “Of course not,” Zeischt sighed. “I moved to stop them, and they threatened to kill me, too.” His eyes glistened and his voice grew ragged. “Even after, I could have saved him, using an Amon regeneration chamber. Your SMT raid denied me the chance to use it.”

    “Convenient excuse,” Ebnal replied sourly.

    “A’lasha can confirm that tried to intercede, at least.” Zeischt pressed.

    Ebnal rolled his eyes. “Again, the word of a spy and an assassin. I’ll grant that for the moment she has some impressive abilities to compromise our control systems, but I won’t be taking her word as gospel on any subject.”

    “She also neutralized the Amon defenses,” Zeischt pointed out. “A’lasha gave you the opportunity to cripple them and save the task force. One would think that would improve her credibility.”

    The captain snorted, “Well, you’d damn well better think again.”

    Zeischt continued as if Ebnal hadn’t spoken. “A’lasha was never an accepted member of the Amon clan. She was an ally, to be certain, and her goals and ours often intersected, but she was never trusted with any secret information, certainly nothing that would ever compromise the Amon.”

    A strained silence followed until Ebnal finally said, “Your point?”

    “She’s a talented operative, to be sure, but she’s not that good, Lucian. Who do you think provided her with the Amon defense codes?”

    Ebnal’s eyes narrowed. “Bullshit. You’d never betray the hand that feeds you… literally in this case.”

    Zeischt held Ebnal’s gaze unflinchingly. “Ask her.”

    “It keeps coming back to me taking the word of a sociopath. That’s not an especially effective argument, Sandy.”

    “You followed Pava Lar’ragos out here,” Zeischt countered. “I’d wager he’s killed more people than A’lasha. I doubt you had any heartache with taking him at his word.”

    Ebnal’s expression was one of furious dismay. “What the hell did the Amon do to you? You’re spitting on the memory of your best friend who’s been dead less than six hours. Who are you?“

    “I’m the man who gave you the keys to Shul’Nazhar. And if you want the Amon defanged, I’m the person to do it.”

    “Kind of hard to do when you're dying.”

    Zeischt cocked his head minutely, his eyes boring deep into Ebnal’s. “Europa’s database should still contain the schematics of the system I built to provide myself with life-essence. Your engineers could recreate it in a matter of hours. If you want me to run down the Amon, or hell, even if you only want me to live to stand trial, you’re going to need to feed me.”

    Ebnal snarled in response, pivoted sharply on his heel and stalked out without another word.

    * * *​