UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

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    Gibraltar, I'm not sure how to ask this, but are you by any chance watching this season of "True Blood"? Interesting parallels (though, your storyline is infinitely more interesting ... and subtle.) ;)
     
  2. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have actually only ever seen one episode of True Blood, from about four years ago.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!
     
  3. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

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    That's actually what I figured, of course (and you're not really missing all that much.) As I tried to allude to, the tension you have created between the two Amon tribes is much more interesting and layered (in this short time you've had to establish both), but I couldn't help but find the parallels interesting. And, yes, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I watch "True Blood". :o Sorry to take things off track.

    Oh, and if I neglected to say it, I really enjoyed the most recent installment. Among other things, I really liked how you portrayed the influence of the life essence on Sandhurst, as well as his "return" to his historical self, and sensibilities.
     
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    Ah ok, I'm with it now, so it is this other Amon tribe responsible for the senseless killing and attack. And it looks as if even the advanced Amon are not beyond inter-species politics.

    I suppose Nestrala will have to demonstrate how important Zeischt is to her and her people exactly cuz I cannot imagine Sandhurst agreeing to join any kind of race that condones this kind of behavior.
     
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 1 continued)

    Chapter 1 <cont'd>

    USS Europa


    The ship was less than twenty minute out from In’Drahn station, and DuaNam and his political retinue were awaiting the arrival of the Starfleet contingent. However, before that meeting came to fruition, T’Ser had one more piece of ship’s business to attend to.

    Lar’ragos stepped into the ready room at T’Ser’s prompting, bringing himself to attention in front of the captain’s desk. Without looking up from her padd, T’Ser instructed, “At ease, Commander. Have a seat.”

    As Lar’ragos settled into the chair opposite her, his features remained impassive. T’Ser continued to make notations on her padd for a few moments, but if Lar’ragos minded the additional wait, it didn’t show.

    Finally, she set the padd on the desktop and raised her eyes to inspect the El Aurian. “Can you please explain to me, Mister Lar’ragos, why you felt it was necessary to try and undermine Commander Pell’s confidence in her own leadership abilities?”

    "Permission to speak freely, Captain?” he asked by way of reply.

    T’Ser dipped her head. “Granted.”

    “In our present circumstances, the commander’s abilities are insufficient to meet the potential challenges we’re facing,” Lar’ragos said simply.

    “And you felt it was necessary and prudent to share this revelation with her at this time?”

    “I did,” he confirmed.

    “Did you threaten her?” T’Ser asked pointedly.

    “If you’re asking if I threatened her with physical violence, I did not. I did, however, point out some of the potential dangers she might pose to the mission and the crew if she continued to serve in the capacity of XO.”

    T’Ser leaned back in her chair, eyeing Lar’ragos like something under a microscope. “With everything else going on right now, you do realize that this is the last thing I need? Our captain is missing, and my XO used to be romantically involved with him. She’s under more than enough stress without you adding to her burdens.”

    “Your XO is a former freedom fighter whose past colors how she perceives the present,” Lar’ragos countered. “She has first hand experience with suffering under the boot of a merciless invader. As a result she won’t be able to bring herself to use one of our Alpha Weapons against a refugee fleet, regardless of our orders.”

    “You don’t know that,” T’Ser snapped hotly in response.

    Lar’ragos said, “I most assuredly do.” He crossed his legs and rested his hands in his lap. “Just as I know that Pell is unable to distance herself emotionally from Sandhurst, especially now. There’s a strong probability that she will do something to compromise the mission if it means possibly securing the captain’s freedom. She’ll defy your orders, she’ll put the ship and crew in danger.”

    T’Ser shook her head minutely as she exclaimed, “That’s wild speculation.”

    “Pell Ojana defied orders to rescue Captain Glover from Cardassian insurgents, sir. Glover is one of her oldest friends. Now try to imagine what she’d be capable of if it meant rescuing the man she loves.”

    “Their relationship ended almost a year ago,” T’Ser offered.

    A faint smile drew across Lar’ragos’ lips. “She still loves him and mourns the loss of their bond.”

    “You can’t know that,” T’Ser blurted, sounding less-than-absolutely certain of that fact.

    “And yet I do, just as I know you’d do the same if it were Dale McBride in danger.”

    At the mention of her dead fiancé’s name, T’Ser rose to her feet, her face darkening with a decidedly greenish blush. “You are way out of line, Mister!”

    “The first time I met you aboard Bluefin, you were practically oozing grief through your pores,” Lar’ragos said quietly. Suddenly it seemed like someone had sucked all the oxygen out of the compartment. T’Ser wanted to cut the El Aurian off and dismiss him from the room, but she couldn’t find the will to do either.

    “Now, though,” he continued, “it surrounds you like a faint corona. It’s still there, and probably always will be, but it doesn’t infect the core of you like it once did. That’s where Pell is with Sandhurst right now, it’s still fresh, raw, still coming out her pores.”

    T’Ser sank silently back down into her chair, at a loss for words.

    “I’ll be the first to admit that I have more than my share of demons, Captain. The difference is, mine are in the distant past, like echoes of old pain. My head is clear, and I’m able to make the hard choices.”

    “I won’t dismiss Pell out of hand,” T’Ser insisted.

    Lar’ragos answered, “Nobody’s asking you to, sir. Pell’s duties as our diplomatic officer and the supervisor of the TOC keep her more than sufficiently busy, and she’s damned good at both. However, none of those responsibilities will force her to have to contemplate committing genocide.”

    T’Ser regarded him cautiously, unsure whether she had just been brazenly manipulated, or whether Lar’ragos was simply making good sense.

    “I’ll think on it,” she said finally.

    “That’s all I ask, Captain.”

    *****
     
  6. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

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    Very nice scene, extremely well written. Classic Pava, at his smoothest; and really helped solidify T'Ser's state of mind at the moment. I especially liked your very simple but impactful tie-in to her history on the Bluefin. For those of us familiar with (or addicted to) that series, it was especially evocative. :bolian:
     
  7. theonering

    theonering Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Gibraltar,
    I think I've finally caught up with the rest of the series, and I have to say that your writing has been top notch since the beginning, which isn't always the case with fan fiction writers. Kudos!

    I'd like to ask a question if I may. I apologize if this has been answered already and I missed it. But is the Baron supposed to be a Star Trek take on Doctor Who's time lords? Or is he an actually time lord? Would you mind elaborating a little more on the character from the authors perspective? I'd be interested in hearing how you developed him as you were writing. Thanks!
     
  8. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thank you very much for the kind words, I'm very glad you've enjoyed the series. :D

    To aswer your question, the Baron is an actual Gallifreyan Time Lord whose origin and background are detailed in my story Geometries of Chance. He’s now stranded in our UT Trek universe, and has a whole host of enemies he wants to exact vengeance on, with Donald Sandhurst at the top of his list (when he can remember that list, of course).
     
  9. theonering

    theonering Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I figured as much, I just don't remember any mention of the obvious key words (Gallifrey, time lord, the doctor, the master, TARDIS, etc.) the regeneration scene made it clear though.I'll definitely be rereading Geomatries of Chance in the near future since it seems the baron will have a significant role to play in this story.
     
  10. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    Pava has a way to cut right through to people, doesn't he? Both physically but also emotionally. What a bastard he is. And yet so damn good at what he does.
     
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 2)

    Chapter 2

    USS Galaxy


    From the center chair in the Taskforce Operations Center, Admiral Jellico reflected that now was proving a hell of a time to have sent Gallant off on a reconnaissance mission. As the large starship bucked and trembled from multiple weapons impacts, part of him struggled with the urge to proceed to the bridge and take command of the situation. He knew better, of course, to interfere with Captain Scott’s battle tactics, but he felt disconcertingly impotent to be a mere observer of the ongoing exchange.

    And to think that this First Contact had started out so well…

    *****

    Bridge, USS Galaxy

    “Course zero-four-nine, mark one-one-three!” Captain Tryla Scott barked. “Hit the lead ship with photons, save the quantums for their escorts. Continue using the phasers as point-defense against their missiles.” She spared a quick glance over her shoulder to where her XO was overseeing damage control from an auxiliary station. “Worf, how are we looking?”

    “Not good,” the large Klingon replied. “Shields are failing. We have hull breaches on decks four and five, and our dorsal saucer phaser emitter is damaged. In the secondary hull, we have breaches on decks thirty-three through thirty-six, as well as a direct hit to our main navigational deflector. The port nacelle has been punctured and engineering says we’re leaking drive plasma. We’ve also got power fluctuations in the secondary hull due to numerous power couplings and EPS waveguides sustaining damage.”

    Her Operations officer dutifully reported, “Casualty figures coming in from Sickbay, Captain. Twenty-seven confirmed dead, forty-six injured, five of them critical.”

    Scott turned back to face the viewscreen, still trying to determine what had suddenly provoked the unexpected assault by a seemingly peaceful refugee species. They’d established diplomatic contact over subspace days prior, and the Voranti had given every indication of being non-hostile and welcoming of the Federation’s proposed assistance.

    Galaxy had been welcomed alongside the Voranti flagship, and right when the alien delegation had been scheduled to beam aboard, the starship had been struck by weapons fire from all quarters simultaneously. With their shields down, their attackers’ weapons had carved into the ship’s hull with ease, wreaking havoc.

    Since then, Galaxy had been involved in a running battle to evade the Voranti’s dogged pursuit, which Scott was at a loss to explain. It was as though the Voranti were out to settle a score.

    Now with their nav-deflector and one of their nacelles out of commission, achieving warp speed would be impossible, and outrunning their pursuers at impulse speeds was equally futile. They would have to ‘run and gun’ until they could carry out the necessary repairs to make them warp-capable. Otherwise, Scott brooded, she’d have to consider the Alpha Option.

    *****

    In’Drahn Station

    They had returned to the Government House, the parliamentary building situated in the idyllic artificial countryside with its breathtaking crystalline dome arching overhead. Once again, the assorted horrors of the Husnock’s genetic manipulation were on display in the form of the appalling, malformed bodies that comprised the assembly of their former vassals.

    Upon their arrival at the station, DuaNam, the speaker for the assembled species, had confirmed that the beings who’d stormed Europa’s bridge were indeed the infamous Amon. The Borg cube, however, was unknown to them as an Amon warship.

    As a sign of good faith, T’Ser had first delivered to the Habertaem an improved version of the anti-pheromone compound that Taiee’s medical team had continued work on since they’d last departed the station. The captain wanted to make it clear that delivery of the serum was not dependant upon their cooperation with drawing in the Amon.

    T’Ser stood at the rostrum, staring uneasily into the distorted faces of hundreds of the Husnock’s former slaves.

    “We were all fortunate that the Amon did not arrive to investigate the activation of their device,” DuaNam insisted. “Now you return asking permission to interfere with that very same instrument for the stated purpose of drawing out the Amon?”

    “They attacked our ship and abducted Captain Sandhurst,” T’Ser replied, trying valiantly to keep her tone neutral.

    “We grieve the loss of your captain,” DuaNam offered, “but we fail to see how inciting the Amon will be to anyone’s benefit.”

    Pell stepped forward, waiting for an approving nod from T’Ser before speaking. “We don’t believe that the Amon intended to kill the captain. In fact, they seemed to take significant care not to cause any fatalities in the course of his abduction. It is our hope that Sandhurst can be returned to us unharmed, but until we are able to open a dialogue with the Amon, we cannot negotiate with them for his return.”

    DuaNam emitted a gurgling, choking sound that T’Ser interpreted as a snort of derision. “The Amon only rarely negotiate, and we have found them to be highly excitable if provoked or interrupted unexpectedly.”

    “We will make it abundantly clear to them that the Habertaem and your allies are not responsible,” T’Ser.

    “You mean providing the Amon are in a mood to listen?”

    T’Ser and Pell remained silent.

    “We of the assembly must discuss your request, Captain T’Ser,” DuaNam said with a hint of reluctance that the Universal Translator conveyed quite proficiently. “We do acknowledge that you delivered the new pheromone-suppressant to us before making this appeal,” the Habertaem leader noted.

    T’Ser stepped down from the dais, and was joined by Pell and Lar’ragos. The captain folded her arms across her chest, frowning as she whispered, “They’re about as eager to push the Amon’s doorbell as I anticipated.”

    “After what the Amon did to us, can you blame them?” Lar’ragos queried.

    “Not really,” she confessed.

    “On a positive note,” Pell announced, “we’ve taken on substantial stores from the Habertaem. In trade for two of our spare power-converter modules, we’ve received enough duranium alloy and replicatable matter stores to complete the repairs from our skirmish with the Amon and fashion a new warp reaction chamber without having to fall all the way back to our warp-sled. That’ll save us two-and-a-half weeks of travel time.”

    “Thank the heavens for a piece of good news for once,” T’Ser sighed.

    Pell added, “And that’s not all. The Husnock industrial replicators aboard the station are decades, maybe centuries in advance of our own technology. If we can convince the Habertaem to allow us access to those fabrication systems, we might be able to design and build a new warp drive in a quarter of the time, and from materials far stronger than Federation science has yet developed.”

    T’Ser raised an eyebrow. “You know how enthusiastic Mister Ashok is about things being ‘new’ and ‘exciting’.”

    “Big Blue will suck it up for the team, sir,” Lar’ragos answered. “But I have my doubts as to how innovative or effective any design he generates is going to be.”

    Pell gave the El Aurian a skeptical look. “Perhaps, but for now, Ashok’s the only game in town.”

    T’Ser looked between the two lieutenant commanders. “Just make sure we’ve got those supplies safely aboard as quickly as possible. If their assembly decides to deny our request, we’re going to send a photon at the last known coordinates of that Amon array anyway.”

    “I want Captain Sandhurst returned safely more than anyone,” Pell said. “But are we really willing to risk the only safe port Operation Vanguard has been able to arrange in the Delta Quadrant for a single person?”

    The disbelieving looks on T’Ser and Lar’ragos’ faces were answer enough.

    “Hell yes…” T’Ser began.

    “…we are,” Lar’ragos finished for her.

    *****
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  12. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

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    Very interesting. Not surprising to see the poison fruit born of The Baron's and Captain Ramirez's little ambush on the Voranti, of course. Nor is DuaNam's reluctance to voluntarily call on the Amon surprising, given their history.

    But, Pell's last comment is more than a little surprising, given Pava's recently expressed misgivings. Also, I'll be very interested to see what Mr. Ashok might just be capable of when given the proper "motivation" (though I did enjoy T'Ser's quite apt description of him.)

    Intriguing and entertaining, as always. :bolian:
     
  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 2 continued)

    Chapter 2 <cont'd>

    Amon Homeship Transcendant


    Donald Sandhurst stood alongside Nestrala on the command deck of the former Borg cube. The Amon monitoring various systems were reclined upon couch-like settees, their minds linked to the central nexus through which the crew controlled the ship by means of a cooperative, consensual dream-like state.

    It was a perversion of the captured Borg vinculum, the use of which allowed the Amon to establish a limited ‘collective’ consciousness for the purposes of operating the mighty ship.

    There were no viewports or display screens in the warmly decorated chamber, and thus no possibility of Sandhurst illicitly divining the means by which they were able to travel nearly instantaneously from the Large Magellanic Cloud to the Delta Quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy.

    Warlord Jalahar, the tribe’s leader, stood resolutely in the center of the chamber, arms folded across his massive chest. A small band worn across his right temple gave him access to the mental symphony surrounding him as navigators, systems advocates, engineers and warriors all labored in unison to command the energies propelling the great cube.

    “We have located your vessel, Zeischt,” Nestrala said in an encouraging voice. “Though we have been tracking its whereabouts for days, we’ve had to negotiate permissions with our fellow tribe to enter its present star system.”

    Sandhurst shot Nestrala a curious glance. “Whatever for?”

    “Your ship is in close proximity to an installation our fellow tribe uses as a hunting lure.”

    He turned to examine her with an appraising expression. “Hunting lure?”

    “The space station is the kind of target that would be appetizing to resource poor refugee fleets entering your quadrant. When they approach, they are ambushed by the station’s defenses, while the tribe absorbs their life-essence through their collection arrays.”

    Sandhurst’s eyes widened in recognition. “In’Drahn station!” he exclaimed.

    She acknowledged his epiphany with the slightest of nods, “Just so.”

    “It was an Amon collection array that killed two of my crew,” Sandhurst’s breathed as another wave of realization swept over him.

    Nestrala, lacking any information on that matter, remained silent.

    A deep rumbling, rising in tempo, could be felt moving through the giant vessel.

    “We go,” Warlord Jalahar announced, “now.”

    *****

    USS Europa

    As the diplomatic team stepped out of the transporter room and into the corridor, T’Ser tugged open the collar of her dress whites uniform jacket. “At the very least, the fact that they’re delaying their decision means that their assembly members might actually take the time to debate the merits of our request.”

    Pell likewise unfastened the chafing neckline of her garment. “Let’s hope so. I’d rather we have the Habertaem’s consent before poking the Amon’s array with a stick. That way if everything goes sideways on us, we won’t be thrusting them into a war of our making involuntarily.”

    Lar’ragos frowned in the Bajoran’s direction. “You sound as though you don’t approve.”

    Pell turned to face Lar’ragos, her expression equal parts analytical and skeptical. “These people have achieved a level of stability after having been slaves for generations. Now we’re asking them to allow us to provoke the most powerful beings they’ve ever encountered.” Pell then looked to T’Ser. “We’re really willing to potentially unleash hell on an entire civilization over the fate of a single person?”

    “Our captain,” T’Ser reminded her sternly.

    Pell met her gaze with an unwavering intensity. “You’re our captain now, sir.”

    Lar’ragos eyed Pell warily. “Ojana, I know for a fact that you’re as worried as the rest of us about Donald’s fate. Why are you arguing against this?”

    “Because I’m the diplomatic officer,” Pell shot back heatedly. “I’m the one tasked with seeing the bigger picture here. My heart bleeds for Donald, even more so because of how our relationship ended. But despite the fact that I love him and always will, even I realize that the math just doesn’t add up. Endangering the welfare of a species for the life of an individual is purest selfishness, and if Donald were here right now he’d tell both of you the same!”

    That brought both T’Ser and Lar’ragos up short. The two officers stood there in Pell’s sights, neither of them able to formulate a reply to her biting assessment.

    The yellow alert chime and the flashing status tell-tails along the bulkhead saved them from further discomfort.

    T’Ser’s compin chirped. “Bridge to Captain T’Ser,” Juneau’s voice prompted.

    “Go ahead.”

    “Sir, we’ve received a distress call from Galaxy. They report they’ve come under attack during a First Contact situation. They’ve suffered significant damage and casualties, and are trying to evade pursuit at impulse until they can affect repairs to their warp drive.”

    “Distance?”

    “Fourteen hours, forty-seven minutes at Warp 9, Captain.”

    T’Ser’s face grew pinched. “Damn,” she breathed.

    “It appears we’ll have to revisit the matter of the Amon array at a later date,” Pell remarked with just a hint of satisfaction.

    The captain chose to ignore the jibe. “Let’s get to the bridge.”

    *****
     
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh yes, the nearer reaches of the Delta Quadrant are proving to be quite interesting indeed... and, of course, more than a little dangerous. :devil:

    Thank you, sir! I was hoping to get the tone right for that scene.

    He is at that, CeJay! Hopefully, this time his intentions are good ones... but then, even if they are, Pava's already paved significant stretches of the Road to Hell.

    Thanks again, TrekkieMonster. And yes, current events are straining friendships and loyalties all around, and there don't appear to be any easy answers for anyone involved.

    As always, I greatly appreciate the comments and feedback, folks! :D
     
  15. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

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    Once again, a very well written, well thought out scene. I really like the way you're allowing Pell to take the "rational" lead, turning on its ear Pava's and T'Ser's (perhaps somewhat valid) assumptions about her. I especially like the way you allowed her to articulate what they all know Sandhurst would say on the subject.

    Now to see if our intrepid crew are reunited with their wayward Captain before Europa darts off to Galaxy's aid .... The tension is almost unbearable! And I LOVE it! :evil:
     
  16. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 2)

    Chapter 2 <cont'd>

    USS Europa


    T’Ser slid smoothly into the captain’s chair, still clad in her dress uniform as a similarly attired Pell Ojana occupied the XO’s seat to her right. Lar’ragos moved to relieve the specialist manning the secondary Tactical station along the starboard bulkhead while sparing an envious glance at Verrik as the Vulcan stood his post at the arch immediately behind T’Ser.

    “Ops, inform In’Drahn station that we’re departing to assist one of our ships under attack. Let them know we eagerly await the assembly’s response to our request.”

    “Aye, sir,” Juneau acknowledged promptly.

    T’Ser toggled the comms to Engineering. “Mister Ashok, we’re going to need best speed for as long as you can maintain it. Over a thousand Starfleet lives are hanging in the balance.”

    Ashok’s terse reply indicated that he understood the seriousness of the situation and the need for speed.

    “Take us out, Mister Lightner, and don’t spare the anti-matter.”

    Europa swung gracefully about, darting behind a Yoashan cargo hauler and over an Asulno trade ship as she threaded her way through the crowded orbital pattern around the giant station.

    A alarm trilled at the Ops and Tactical stations simultaneously, prompting Verrik to note, “In’Drahn station has just raised its shields.”

    T’Ser turned in her chair to cast a glace back at Verrik. “Any apparent provocation?”

    “None that I can detect, Captain.”

    “Their weapons are coming online,” Juneau exclaimed.

    “Raise shields,” T’Ser ordered.

    And then at that moment all hell seemed to quite literally break loose.

    An eruption of brilliant light some hundreds of kilometers from the station bathed the surrounding area in surreal energies.

    In’Drahn’s enormous defensive batteries opened fire, belching great bolts of energized plasma and scorching beams of hyper-compressed collimated energy that struck with the force of a dozen photon torpedoes.

    “Evasive!” T’Ser barked, as the bridge seemed to drop out from under her thanks to Lightner’s wildly erratic maneuvers.

    They needn’t have bothered, T’Ser realized, as the main viewer tracked the outbound weapons fire past Europa to the point of the energetic eruption.

    “Captain,” Shanthi remarked as he eyed his sensor results closely, “that energy field reads as identical to the one the Borg ship emerged from.”

    T’Ser found herself unable to muster a response to the dreadful cataclysm taking place before their eyes. Her mind raced with possible avenues of escape, but without all the necessary variables, she vapor locked on a definitive course of action. Finally, the danger posed to ship and crew forced her back into her own head from her near out-of-body experience. “Helm, course zero-nine-three, mark three-four-one, engage at three-quarters impulse!”

    A Borg vessel did indeed emerge from the schism in space, and was instantly bludgeoned by the incoming wave of weapons fire from In’Drahn station. Dozens of explosions blossomed across the nearest surface of the cube, jettisoning gouts of debris into the void.

    The cube responded with equally destructive armaments of its own, sending out a corkscrewing storm of exotic missiles amidst a flurry of energy blasts, stuttering distruptor bolts, and blistering ionic pulses.

    Suddenly, the vicinity of In’Drahn station had become a very dangerous place to be. Dozens of commercial ships tried to flee all at once, causing devastating collisions as stray missiles and beam-fire scythed through their numbers.

    Some of the Amon missiles fired from the cube winked out of existence as they approached the station, re-entering the universe once again an instant later, only this time inside In’Drahn itself. The mighty station shuddered as internal explosions annihilated whole habitats within.

    *****

    Amon Homeship Transcendant

    The command crew of the great cube, secured to their acceleration couches, cried out in unison as the ship emerged from its transit corridor into normal space. Tremendous detonations shook the enormous craft as the foremost facet of the ship was suddenly awash in destructive weapons impacts.

    Warlord Jalahar touched a hand to his temple, wincing against the pain of the sudden cacophony of violent emotions generated by the unexpected ambush. The Amon were alarmed, and they were not a species given easily to shock.

    Nestrala stumbled, and Sandhurst grabbed a hold of her to prevent the woman from sinking to the floor. “No,” she croaked in dismay, “our brothers and sisters have opened fire upon us!”

    Sandhurst knelt to support her. “One big happy family, eh?”

    A warning klaxon brayed in protest as Jalahar announced, “Our defenses have been compromised, and we’ve taken substantial damage. I am releasing the Borg drones to carry out repairs.”

    “My ship,” Sandhurst urged, “is it here?”

    “Yes,” one of the reclining systems advocates answered for Jalahar.

    “I have to get aboard… to warn my crew.”

    “It is reasonable to assume your crew is presently aware of the danger,” the supine woman remarked without a hint of sarcasm.

    “Just get me onboard!” he shouted.

    The woman was unmoved by his outburst, her eyes still closed as she rerouted power systems and controlled the assignments of Borg repair drones. “Neither we nor they are presently able to lower shields to permit transport.”

    Sandhurst glowered helplessly, forced to stand idle while a battle he could not even see raged around him.

    *****

    USS Europa

    The ship jostled from a near-miss as a blazing plasma bolt scorched past the starship to immolate a nearby Senaflian freighter that had blundered into the apocalyptic exchange of fire.

    “Report,” T’Ser ordered grimly.

    “Shields holding,” Verrik assessed. “We’re nearly out of the line of fire.”

    T’Ser called over her shoulder to Shanthi at the Science station. “Keunre, scan the cube for human life-signs.”

    “I have been, Captain,” he replied, frustration evident in his tone. “Nothing so far. Whatever the hell they’re using for shields is refracting back our scans.”

    At Ops, Juneau called out, “Six civilian ships destroyed, four more heavily damaged. We’re picking up multiple escape pods in the vicinity of the station.”

    “Understood,” T’Ser answered, knowing that despite the immediate danger to the hundreds of people in those lifeboats, re-entering the savage fray between the cube and the station would mean almost certain death for all aboard.

    She fixed her attention on the viewscreen, watching as the cube appeared to reinforce its shielding against the station’s potent onslaught. Great gaping holes had been gouged from the cube’s facets, and the enormous vessel trailed glittering streamers of escaping gasses and radiation behind it.

    Sections of In’Drahn station, meanwhile, looked to be collapsing in upon themselves, even while the installation’s outermost defensive screens held firm against the directed energy weapons of the cube. What T’Ser guessed to be some form of trans-dimensional missiles were still vanishing just outside the shield envelope to reappear and detonate inside the structure.

    “The Habertaem have no control over their weapons systems,” Pell remarked to T’Ser, as if the captain needed reminding. “They’re dying in there, helpless victims in someone else’s war.”

    “I know,” T’Ser whispered back to her. “There’s not a damn thing we can do for them.”

    “You’re wrong,” Pell said in a tone so flinty that T’Ser found herself turning to face her XO. “The Amon vessel is damaged, and we have an Alpha Weapon that could either destroy it or at least maybe knock it out of commission.”

    “I… I don’t—“ T’Ser stammered, trying to wrap her head around that plan of action.

    Pell pressed, “Thousands are dying, Captain, and we’re playing spectator. Meanwhile, Galaxy is running for her life.”

    “Captain Sandhurst might be aboard that ship,” T’Ser protested.

    “One man,” Pell rejoined, drawing attention to the substance of their conversation outside the transporter room. “One man’s life set against the lives of countless thousands of people who trusted us enough to show us friendship. After all that the Husnock did to them, they trusted us.”

    A moment of silence followed as the faces of T’Ser, Pell, and Lar’ragos were illuminated by the continued explosions taking place beyond the hull of Europa.

    T’Ser leveled her gaze on Lar’ragos. “This is why she’s my XO, Pava. She’s the only one of us thinking with her head rather than her heart.”

    She typed a series of commands into her armrest interface, prompting the computer to announce, 'Alpha Weapon level two safeties disengaged. Enter command authorization to deactivate level one safeties and to arm Weapon Alpha One.'

    “The hell you are!” Lar’ragos bolted from his seat towards the command chair so fast most of the crew had barely registered the movement before the flash of a stun beam from Verrik’s phaser drove the El Aurian into the carpeted deck with a near-simultaneous thud and grunt of surprise.

    From behind Verrik’s eyes, the Operative smiled grimly. Didn’t see that coming, did you Listener?

    T’Ser hardly spared Lar’ragos a glance before enunciating, “Recognize Captain T’Ser, launch authorization Tango-Sierra-Bravo, four-nine-one-one.”

    'Code accepted', the computer replied, 'level one safeties disengaged. Weapon Alpha One is now armed. Enter executive officer counter-authorization to initiate weapons release for firing.'

    Without hesitation, Pell said, “Recognize Lieutenant Commander Pell Ojana, launch authorization Alpha-Alpha-Alpha, zero-three-zero-seven.”

    'Code accepted. Weapon Alpha One has been loaded into forward tube two and is ready for launch.'

    T’Ser stood, moving to a point just behind and between the Flight Control and Operations stations. “Mister Verrik,” she ordered…

    *****
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012
  17. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    Oh, you sadistic bastard, you! :devil:

    Talk about a cliff-hanger!!!

    Again, another fantastic scene. You have such a great way of ramping up the intensity, and vividly describing a battle scene without getting bogged down in excruciating detail. You always give just enough "direction", if you will, to let my mind play out the complete scene in all it's glorious - and sometimes gory - detail. Well done!

    And, once again, your development of Pell has been both surprising and wonderfully satisfying. Not to mention, Verrik's quick-thinking action.

    Which brings me to Lar'ragos: I don't know exactly how you've done it but, with this iteration of Pava, you've made him at once one of my favorite characters but also an interloper who I find myself actually rooting against for a change.

    You've got tensions playing in all different directions, between and amongst nearly all the characters, and it's one of the many aspects of this story that makes it so damn compelling.

    Again, incredibly well done. :bolian:

    p.s. - now drop the other damn shoe, will ya. The antici .................................................. pation is killing me! :evil:
     
  18. Cobalt Frost

    Cobalt Frost Captain Captain

    Damn! This is like the tension at the end of "Best of Both Worlds Part One". You've got us on pins and needles here, man...
     
  19. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    I had the same thought. And I'm certain that's not a coincidence. ;)
     
  20. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 2, 2001
    Location:
    Deck 13, section 21-Alpha
    I swear I could almost hear the BOBW cliffhanger music at the end there!!