DT: Hero of the Federation (Revised)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, May 8, 2011.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Good to know people are looking out for Captain Shelby and the crew of Sutherland, despite Grace’s attempts to maintain a communications blackout. Who knew Dr. Murakawa would be the sneaky one? ;)

    The terrorist bombing scene was flawlessly rendered, as abrupt as it was shocking. And though we had just barely got to know Bivix as a character, I still felt his loss through Iliana’s agony.

    The Dulcett/Sarkin romance adds another layer of complexity here, as well as gives the reader hope that there could well be a positive, cooperative future for these two societies, both so scarred and broken after their respective catastrophes.

    Many stories here on many levels, with concentric plots within plots. Thank heavens you’re the master of keeping these kinds of tales airborne with the finesse of a master juggler, or else I’d become lost.

    Damn fine work.
     
  2. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    DK, you're doing a great job here with all the characters. Murakawa most definitely would be the one to do the leaking--she's still involved with Bateson and I plan on having Bateson acting as something of a mediator between father and daughter once I get back into the writing saddle again--which hopefully will be soon. Family, work, and health issues have all conspired against me recently--the doc is wanting to eventually do some surgery to repair the valves in my heart--but that's down the road a bit.

    Great job--this is just the thing to help get me back into writing again.
     
  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    As always, thanks for reading. I'm glad you're liking Harrison. She came off as a throwaway character that I decided to do a little more with. Even though I named her after actress Naomie Harris, I see Dr. Who's Freema Aygeman in my head when writing her. I've got a good inkling where I think Haas will wind up by the end of this story, though it isn't set in stone. One thing I think is interesting about her, and which I haven't played up enough, is the similarities between Haas, Shelby, and Benteen; all very ambitious officers. Especially Haas and Shelby. With Philip Shelby, DF established their difficult relationship, but I thought it would make sense that even despite his rocky history with Elizabeth that he would come to her defense if he felt she was being mistreated, especially if it was undeserved.

    Gibraltar,

    Thanks as well. I thought it would be neat to bring in Murakawa and have her do this, since she's sort of the 'quiet one' in this story thus far. Plus I thought it would make sense that if she did an end run around Grace, it would be to contact Admiral Bateson and get an outside perspective of what was going on, and to let the outside world know what was happening on Sutherland. I'm glad you liked Bivix. After fleshing him out a little, I regretted killing him off, but hey, that's the way it goes sometimes. Also appreciate that you liked the Dulcett/Sarkin romance. The backdrop for it was inspired in part by the extremist Bajora Tava from your "Prophets and Loss" story. I got to thinking that there might be more extremist elements on Bajor similar. And not all of the Circle and the Kon Ma guys have probably died off either.

    DF,

    It's good to hear from you again. I am pleased that you feel this story is true to your characters. I was real concerned about that, especially with Murakawa and Philip Shelby. I wish you all the best in terms of your health. I can't wait to see you get back to writing again, but don't tax yourself. We'll be here when you are ready to return.

    **************************************************************
    USS Sutherland
    Main Bridge

    Ensign Alvin Grace felt someone looking at him. He shifted his gaze to the young Indian woman sitting next to him at the adjacent operations station. “Everything okay Namita?”

    Her expression was anxious. “I just received a distress call...from a Cardassian vessel.”

    “Really?” Grace said, turning around in his seat.

    “They are requesting immediate assistance.”

    “Acknowledge the hail and inform the captain,” Grace said, trying to remove the irritation from his voice. Even though there wasn’t much space dust on his boots, as least he wasn’t as green as Ensign Banerjee.

    “But what about the radio silence?”

    “That’s beyond our rank,” Grace replied, jerking his head back, in the direction of the center seat.

    “What if it’s a trap?” Banerjee asked, her voice tinged with fear, and Grace’s impatience receded. He didn’t know Namita well, but he did know that she had entered the Fleet right after the war, but just in time to be assigned to a ship patrolling Cardassian space at the height of the insurgency last year. So, he knew her question was limned with dreadful experience.

    “We can’t ignore a distress call,” Grace replied, firmly, but without hostility. “It’s going to be okay. Captain Haas isn’t Captain Shelby, but she had an impressive war record against the Cardassians in her own right.”

    “Really?”

    “Yes,” Grace said, “And my father is just in the Ready Room. He knows all the Cardassian tricks.”

    Banerjee exhaled in relief. Alvin felt small comfort that his father’s name hadn’t elicited a snarl from the young woman. She hadn’t served on Sutherland long enough to form attachments to the senior staff, nor had she been on the bridge when his dad had ordered Shelby, Lavelle, and Sito to the brig. In fact, she wouldn’t be here at all, on this shift, if his father also hadn’t confined Glinn Keta to quarters. “Okay,” she afforded him a small smile before turning sideways in her seat.

    “Captain, I have just received a distress call.”

    “From who?” Captain Haas leaned forward in her seat, her eyes narrowing on the younger woman like a hawk.

    “A Cardassian vessel…the Adamant.” Grace didn’t like the pinched expression on the woman’s face. Not acknowledging Namita, Haas tapped her combadge.

    “Admiral Grace, to the bridge, immediately!”
    ***************************************************************

    Klaestron Embassy
    Cardassia Prime

    Illiana Ghemor was covered in soot, grime, and the blood of others. Though her hands were ragged and raw, she pulled at the jagged pieces of rubble, sifting for signs of life beneath. She wasn’t alone in her efforts. Through the thick haze of dust and smoke, she saw glimmers of others who had put their own safety to the side to assist others; but she heard their grunts of exertion, their shouts, and prayers, more than she saw them.

    It felt good to know she wasn’t alone. With a final pull, she uprooted the large shard, and was greeted by a bloodied man’s shocked gaze underneath. She knew the cause solely wasn’t pain. He was a pallid Klaestron, with blood ringing both ridged sides of his head.

    Illiana held out her hand, “Elena Gilmore, Quadrant News.”

    “Now is not the time for an interview.” He grew pensive, and only reluctantly took her hand. Illiana did most of the pulling, ripping him free with a final grunt. She fell on her backside. Instead of helping her, he dusted off his heavy robes and then gingerly probed his head ridges, wincing with each touch.

    Illiana squelched her irritation and clambered back to her feet. “Are you aware of any other survivors?”

    “How would I know,” he retorted, glancing around him at the devastation. He shook his head and then lowered it, muttering to himself. Ghemor assumed he was thanking his deity.

    “Well, it appears you are well enough,” she said, brushing by him, her senses attuned for groans or cries, or pleas for help.

    At the light tap on her shoulder, she whipped around, ready to chew into the ungrateful, officious Klaestron for delaying her rescue mission. She gasped when she recognized the calculating eyes gazing back at her. Illiana recoiled. “How could you?” She charged. She wasn’t sure if the question or the vehemence permeating it made the man take a step backwards.

    Even dressed in the heavy, bright garb of a firefighter with helmet and face guard, Illiana would know those eyes anywhere. Garak threw up his hands. “I had nothing to do with this,” he said, his voice sounding tinny coming from the mask’s speaker.

    “I want Urlak gone as much as you do, but to level the Klaestron embassy in an attempt to get at him was too extreme. The Klaestron are our allies. Their aid has helped prevent our people from starving.”

    “Don’t you think I am aware of that,” Garak replied, a tinge of annoyance in his voice. “I would not antagonize a venerable friend of the Cardassian people, especially for such a sloppy assassination attempt. Urlak survived by the way,” he added, almost as an aside.

    “What?” Illiana had been momentarily perplexed by the revelation.

    “I’m as heartbroken as you about it,” Garak said, matter-of-factly. “Unfortunately poor Acting Premier Remec was slain. Urlak has prevailed upon the Diet to grant him acting Premier status until his formal inauguration. He is already pushing through legislation for emergency powers,” the man shook his head. “He doubtlessly had the laws written up beforehand.”

    Illiana’s knees buckled, not from exhaustion. “Was it…Urlak?” She gasped the name. He was as cold blooded an operative as the Obsidian Order had ever produced, but even she couldn’t believe he would be so ruthless and bloodthirsty. Wanton destruction wasn’t his style. His rise had been marked more by behind-the-scenes machinations.

    “I wouldn’t put it past him,” Garak said, speaking to her worst fears.

    “But it makes little sense,” Illiana countered. “He was already Premier-elect. The seat of power was within his grasp.”

    “Perhaps he’s gone off the deep end,” Garak said, almost wishful for it. “A genocidal maniac in charge of the destiny of the Cardassian people; the more things change….”

    “I’m aware of the human idiom,” Illiana replied, “and now is not the time for levity.”

    “I know that,” Garak said, pausing to look around at the carnage surrounding them. “It’s well past that time. As is Urlak’s expiration date.”

    “What are you going to do about that now? This attack will doubtlessly leave him in a stronger position with the public and his security will be impregnable.”

    “Yes,” Garak tapped his face plate absently, thinking. “I’ll have to readapt again to this unfortunate turn of events. Urlak is quite the elusive one.”

    “What do you want me to do?” Illiana asked.

    “There are lives to be saved,” he gestured to the rubble, “and ideas to be planted regarding who was at fault here.”

    “I see,” she nodded, “and what about you?”

    Garak was already backing away from her, disappearing in the soupy haze. “It’s best that you not know. I will contact you at the appropriate time.”
    *************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    You know, I'm tempted to start complaining about these little snippets you keep feeding us, always leaving me wanting more. But then I'm reminded to be thankful to get something at all.

    All kidding aside, I dig this story and eager to find out what will happen next.
     
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    That's one complaint of my work that I can live with.

    ******************************************************************
    Diet Building
    Cardassia Prime


    Mintof Urlak had been rushed to the largely undamaged legislature building where he had quickly booted the body’s Presider out of her office. There an archon had sworn him in as Cardassia’s Premier, with the rushed assent of the legislators they could scrounge up to sanctify his ascension.

    And now he stood at the height of power, what he had secretly dreamed of for decades. To step out of the shadows, to lead his people back to strength. It was nothing like he imagined.

    The sirens wailed mournfully through the smoke hazed skies, their shrieks going on so long that it had become background noise. Urlak refused to look out the window to see fire units scrambling to put out the blazes engulfing his city or Security Forces preventing looters from exploiting the chaos.

    He didn’t want to look at the flurry of advisors and sycophants now buzzing through his office, asking his advice for this, or beseeching him to sign off on that. It was almost too much for him right now. He just wanted Meleken back, and now he knew that her safety would have to take a back seat.

    Powerful forces were moving against him, for Mintof had no mistake this was about him. First Meleken and then attacking the Premier’s residence will he was there, it could be nothing more than a message for him. Now it was just a matter of finding out which enemy, with the appropriate resources, could actually mount such devastating strikes.

    Most of his enemies he had killed or terrorized into acquiescence years ago. The True Way was no longer rivals; they had been bought off easily with trappings of power, pro-Dominion elements or Bajoran extremists were nearly extinct, the liberal political opposition had been lost fire after Lang’s assassination, the Crimson Shadow was too fractured, and the other militant groups too small and disorganized. No, it had to be someone else, a master manipulator of his caliber, behind the scenes, pulling the strings.

    And there was only one loose end that had yet to be tied, one person who had escaped his clutches, one who had not been punished for his betrayal of the Cardassian people. “Garak,” he grumbled.

    “Excuse me sir?” One of his new aides hovered close to him. Urlak’s gaze could’ve melted the sun. The man jumped back, frightened.

    Urlak stood up and headed toward the door. “Uh sir,” the skittish man called after him. “Where are you going?”

    “Never ask me that question again,” Urlak said, not turning around.

    “But, um, sir, what about the…uh…crisis?”

    “That what I have you and the others here for,” he said, still not deigning to look at the insect. “If you are not up to the task…”

    He smiled slightly at the large gulp he heard. “No…sir. We, I, we’re more than capable to take care of this.”

    “You better be,” Urlak warned as he exited the Presider’s office. He wanted the throne, but he knew he could never rest easy on it until Elim Garak was dead.
    ***************************************************************

    USS Sutherland
    Private Quarters

    Glinn Sial Keta placed her ear against the heavy door, imagining she could hear the guard breathing beyond it. Admiral Grace had had the door locked from the outside. Sial was confident in her ability to override the locking mechanism, but she wasn’t so confident in her ability to take the Edoan that had escorted her to her quarters and was doubtlessly her sentry.

    Keta bit back a scream as she began pacing her living room in circles, each revolution making the cabin smaller. She had to get out, she had to do something, but what? Even if she did break the lock, incapacitate the guard, what next? Break Captain Shelby and Sam out of the brig, to foment a mutiny?

    Rationality and her duty demanded that she abide Admiral Grace’s wishes. She represented the Cardassian government and people, Keta told herself. Any untoward actions could have long lasting negative effects on the relationship between Starfleet and the Security Forces.

    “I just can’t sit here,” she grumbled. She thought about her parents, the infamous defectors Jobal and Siene. They never took no for an answer, and she should do likewise. “I’ve got to…” her words were overtaken by a gasp. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flash familiar burnt orange. She turned to her viewport and took in the darkened, semi-circular head of a Galor-class vessel. The battleship was listing to one side.

    “Oh gods,” she muttered. Keta nearly tripped over her own feet as she rushed to the wall communicator, intending to raise the bridge.

    The intercom nestled into a ceiling bulkhead squawked first. “Glinn Keta,” it was Captain Haas, “Report to the bridge.”
    *************************************************************
     
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***************************************************************

    Bajora One
    Shuttle Bay

    “This is madness, you know that right?” Kall Yano said, looking back over her shoulder frightfully.

    “Yeah, I know,” Jake replied, his eyes glued to the flight control display. “Buckle up.”

    “Jake, we can’t steal this shuttle.”

    “Kall, you’ve been saying that for the last twenty minutes. And look where we are.”

    “This is not the way?”

    “Sometimes, in order to get the big scoop you’ve got to do big things.”

    “Cardassia’s capitol is already burning, there’s no scoop there,” The Vulcan-Bajoran hybrid retorted.

    “Beyond the human interest stories that will endear Federation citizens to the plight of the Cardassians and drum up waning support for our post-war mission, there is a story going on there,” Jake’s tone had become darker. “And we need to be there to watch it unfold.”

    “You know I don’t like it when you get all conspiratorial and stuff,” she huffed, crossing her arms and sitting back.

    “Hey, my nose for trouble got us the Brooks Award,” he shot back.

    “Yeah, not to mention getting us nearly killed on multiple occasions and eaten almost once,” Kall’s reply was limned with humor.

    “They told me that sinoraptor’s teeth had been removed.”

    “But you weren’t listening to the part about how fast they grow back.”

    “Touche,” Jake had to admit. “Strap in,” he urged again. Kall reluctantly complied.

    “Come on Kall, we don’t need to waste time going back to DS9. We were hired to cover events on Cardassia and that’s where we belong.” He didn’t like the idea of a newbie like Elena Gilmore and some no name news outfit getting what should be their byline.

    “Should we break the law to do so?”

    “I’m going to return the shuttle safe and sound,” Jake promised. “And I’ll deal with any repercussions that come my way.”

    “Like the Bajoran authorities would ever do anything to the son of the Emissary.”

    Jake smirked, “Well title hath its priveleges.”

    “Oh, shut up,” she said, gazing over her console.

    “Glad you’re my wingmate,” Jake said, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek. She wiped her cheek with exaggerated distaste.

    “Just get us out of here and to Prime in one piece.”

    “Well do.” Jake ran the final system checks. He had preprogrammed the shuttle’s computer to open doors at his signal. He began lift off, the shuttle shaky slightly. He wasn’t as skilled a pilot as his stepmother, his father, or Nog, but they benefitted from their instruction.

    “Jake, look out!” Kall pointed out the wraparound forward viewport. Dr. Bashir had stepped in front of the shuttle. He held up one hand. It contained a phaser.

    “What is he doing?” Jake asked. In the relatively small shuttle bay he couldn’t move the shuttle around Bashir without crashing into another ship, perhaps setting off an alarm or causing enough noise to invite unwanted attention.

    The doctor began talking and Kall activated the external communication receiver. “Jake, I know what you’re about to do, and I can’t allow it.”

    “Listen doctor, I’m going to Prime.”

    “Not if I seal the door shut with this,” he aimed the weapon at the door.

    “You wouldn’t!” Jake challenged.

    Bashir gave a small style, “No, I wouldn’t…only if you let me on board.” Jake squelched his initial rejoinder. He wanted to say no, he wanted to prove to himself, to Kall that they could do it alone, but he also knew that Bashir had special skills and more importantly, had a tuning fork between his ears where Garak was concerned. Jake had little doubt that Garak was right in the center of all the chaos that had been unleashed on Prime recently, and Bashir could lead him right to the fugitive Cardassian.

    So, Jake did the only logical thing, “All you had to do was ask?” He said, lowering the shuttle.
    ***************************************************
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    OK, is Garak behind the bombing? I really hope not.

    You're getting a lot of canon characters involved here and as an original charachters purist, I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. Having said that, I do like what you've done with Jake here and in previous stories.
     
  8. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    Thanks for reading and commenting again. The culprit behind the bombing will be revealed...in time. I share your trepidation about the use of canon characters. I'm not a fan of using them much either, however I opened the can of worms in my first story "Valley of Peace" with the DS9 cast and the follow-on story, "Under the Shadows of Swords". "Hero" is a sequel to "Swords" to some extent, so I felt it only made sense to continue the storylines I started in "Swords" and subsequent stories relating to the crew.

    I hadn't expected to do much with Jake before writing "For Good Men to Do Nothing". It really gave me a better grasp on the guy and some ideas on how to insert him into the DT universe.

    If I had it all to do again I would probably have done things differently with "Valley" and "Swords", but I'm sure you've had similar thoughts about the direction of your series.
     
  9. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***************************************************************

    Glintara Sector
    Cardassian space

    “This..complicates things,” Kouk said, the understatement of the epoch, as far as Gavran was concerned.

    “You think?” Gavran knocked his glass of canar off the desk with such force that it smashed into the closest wall. Kouk gave him a mild look of reproach as he watched the glass shards sprinkle to the floor and the orange liquid slid down the wall, staining his rare Grisellan hide carpet.

    “Do you know how much it costs to capture and skin a Grisellan?” Kouk asked. Gavran glared at him.

    “Not now,” he snapped, his nostrils flaring. “We have bigger concerns than your carpet!”

    “We?” Kouk smiled. Gavran grew ashen.

    “You’re not abandoning me,” Gavran declared, with disgust. With restrained subtlety, he propped his feet up on Kouk’s desk, giving him easier reach of the disruptor he had hidden in his left boot. Kouk’s men had insisted that he remove all arms before entering their boss’s office, but Gavran had never been completely disarmed since he was a youth, a long time ago, on the streets of Lakat, before the military grabbed him up and saved his life.

    “My role in this…affair is unknown, per our agreement, and it shall remain hidden,” Kouk’s voice was now flecked with steel. His gaze bore right into Gavran’s with such intensity, it almost made the gul turn away.

    Few men could withstand the gaze of a business titan like Mercat Kouk, and even Gavran’s resolve was withering. Seeking to maintain his ground, Gavran pressed ahead, “What are we going to do now?” He said, pointing at the row of screens behind him. News from across the quadrant was displayed on screens that covering the wall behind Kouk’s desk.

    Most of them were filled with the scenes of carnage in the Cardassian capital city. None were reporting developments on the kidnapping of Melken Urlak. Kouk chuckled, but there was no mirth in the sound.

    “We have been trumped,” Kouk said. “Melken’s abduction pales in comparison to what is occurring on Prime.”

    “So what are we to do now?”

    “What do you think?” Kouk pinioned him with that baleful gaze again. “The young Urlak is no longer an asset, she has become a liability.”

    “No,” Gavran shook his head. “Mintof Urlak will still pay handsomely for her. We can get something for her.”

    “Do you think I’m concerned about money?” He laughed. “Perhaps you and your ragtag band are scrounging, but money isn’t my concern. Swaying the hearts and minds of the Cardassian people are, and right now you and your ilk are no longer freedom fighters in the struggle against alien occupiers and homegrown colluders, you are merciless terrorists in the minds of millions of our countrymen. Striking against the Federation and especially the Klingons is one thing, but demolishing the embassy of a long-time ally of the Union is unconscionable for many.”

    “Well, unlike you, I have a lot to lose, so do the men under my command. What am I to tell them?” Gavran roared, no longer afraid of decorum. He should’ve known that the conservative industrialist would only go so far, but he had needed the financial and logistical support Kouk could provide. He shot out of seat and loomed over the desk, fuming. Kouk was unfazed.

    “Tell them whatever you wish,” Kouk shrugged. “This meeting is over.” Gavran looked down at his boot. He wanted to grab his disruptor and vaporize the man, but if he did that he knew he wouldn’t make it out of Kouk’s compound alive. His men needed him and he needed to salvage this catastrophe.

    “This isn’t over,” Gavran warned.

    “Yes it is,” Kouk was nonplussed. The door opened up behind Gavran. Instinctively he turned, expecting to be facing down the barrel of a disruptor. Instead Kouk’s skittish aide jumped back, startled by him. Behind the jittery man, was an impatient Romulan male, dressed in a pristine, gray traveling cloak. The Glintara Sector bordered the Romulan Empire, and Kouk had expanded his fortune in extensive dilithium mining dealings with the Romulans.

    Gavran’s eyes narrowed and the Romulan looked at him with similar suspicion. “Uh, Mr. Kouk, your next appointment is early.”

    “Send the senator in,” Kouk huffed. The Romulan official brushed past Gavran and he gave the man a poke with his elbow. The Romulan took it in stride. The Romulans had scaled back their activities in post-war Cardassia after their intelligence services were exposed as funding the True Way militants. But despite the very public condemnation from their Praetor and the surface draw down of forces, the Romulans would never completely cede the field to the Federation, Klingons, or the Cardassians themselves.

    Gavran’s suspicions only grew after he materialized back on Rlakar. Glinn Berced was anxiously waiting at the foot of the transporter pad. “How did it go?”

    “It didn’t,” he said, hopping down. “We need to go…immediately.”

    “Understood,” she replied. To her credit, she knew when question time was over. She activated the communicator on the wall panel and relayed Gavran’s order.

    Walking at his side, she informed him, “A Romulan shuttle decloaked and made planetfall.” That in and of itself wasn’t a big deal, owing to the frequent trade between the two nations in this sector, but Berced wisely didn’t believe in coincidences.

    “It’s a Romulan senator…visiting Kouk,” he replied.

    “This can’t be an unrelated happenstance,” she intoned.

    “Of course it isn’t,” Gavran said. “I’m surprised that Kouk’s bodyguards didn’t kill me, or scramble my atoms during transport.”

    “They need a fall guy,” she remarked, with chilling honesty.

    “But what does Garak need?” he said. It was the slimy ex-Obsidian Order agent that paired Gavran with Kouk. Garak had forgot to mention that Kouk was in bed with the Romulans, and that’s something an old pro like Garak would’ve known. “I thought Garak wanted the credit for revenge against Urlak, necessitating the need to eventually step from the shadows.”

    “He’s Obsidian Order,” Berced said derisively. “He is made of shadows.”

    The description stopped him in his tracks. “Then we are alone?” He finally asked, looking deeply into her eyes.

    “Weren’t we always?”
    ************************************************************
     
  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    **************************************************************

    USS Sutherland
    Detention Center


    “Come on Triese, you know this isn’t right,” Commander Lavelle huffed. The woman hunched her shoulders and stared down at her console. “You can at least let us know what’s going on. Why did we come to a full stop?”

    Lavelle’s words wiggled like worms in her brain, seeking to burrow through her impassive expression.

    “Cool it Sam,” she heard the captain reply, and the Vulcan-Orion’s heart pinched. “Things are hard enough on everyone right now. Let’s not add to it.”

    Letting a small sigh escape, the petty officer finally looked up. “Captain,” she paused, and looked upward at the bulkhead, as if somewhere were listening. And that could be the case. She wouldn’t put it pass Major Laxx. “We’ve received a distress call from a Cardassian vessel. The Adamant.”

    “Gul Dien’s ship?” Shelby was on her feet. “That’s the ship we were supposed to rendezvous with. Do you have any additional information?”

    “Not at the moment, no,” the security officer shook her head.

    “This doesn’t sound good at all,” Lavelle intoned. “Was the ship attacked, was it mutiny?”

    “She doesn’t know Sam,” Shelby’s voice was frayed with irritation. The first officer shrank back.

    “Fine,” he said, crossing his arms, and leaning against the wall. “I’ll just shut my mouth then.”

    “That would be preferable for the short term,” the captain said. “Triese, I know I don’t have the right, or authority, to ask this of you, but can you keep us informed?”

    Before she could answer the intercom screeched. “Petty Officer Triese report to Transporter Room One.”

    The half Vulcan quickly acknowledged the summons. Turning back to Shelby, her lips pursed, she said, “Remain where you are.” The force field containing them crackled as she shut it off.

    Lt. Jaxa sat up, her muscles tensing as if she wanted to lunge for freedom. “Keep put lieutenant,” Shelby ordered.

    “Captain,” Triese said. “It is a logical assumption that I have been called to participate in an investigation of the Cardassian starship.” She pulled the delta-shaped combadge off her chest. Quickly entering the cell, she dropped it in the palm of Shelby’s hand. “I will reconfigure this to serve as a special communication device; please only contact me for the most vital reasons. Otherwise it should allow you to listen in the investigation.”

    Shelby nodded solemnly. She knew that the young officer was effectively putting her career in the captain’s hands, in a manner far more serious than a routine evaluation. Though Triese had only been on Sutherland for a short time, she was willing to give Shelby that kind of trust, and it made the captain’s heart twinge.

    She cradled the compin as if it were the most precious alloy in the galaxy, and right now for her it was.
    ***************************************************************

    USS Sutherland
    Transporter Room One

    “What took you so long?” Major Laxx asked, his tone brimming with suspicion. Before the somewhat perturbed Triese answered, Captain Haas said:

    “Power down your thrusters major.” Triese saw that a stoic Maldin, an eager Lt. Rudd, a nonchalant Lt. Commander Tol, and a pensive Glinn Keta shared the pad. All were dressed in tactical vests, had wristlamps, and breathing masks hanging from their necks. Phaser rifles were also slung over their shoulders. The captain gestured down from the pad to the yeomen standing at its base. “Grab some gear and let’s go.”
    ************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  11. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    **************************************************************

    CSFV Adamant
    Main Bridge

    Captain Haas felt the chill even through the thick insulation of her vest. She switched on her wrist lamp and swung it around the darkened room. The audible hitch from Glinn Keta mirrored her own thoughts.

    “Blimey,” Lt. Rudd muttered, the words amplified by his mask. Not the first word that came to Justine’s mind, but an appropriate expression nonetheless. The floor and walls were covered with the blood and gory remains of the crew. Her stomach flipped and she prayed that she could hold back the bile rising in her throat. The captain was thankful that her mask was blocking the stench of the abattoir. Though she knew the first thing she was going to do after beaming back was to take a long sonic shower.

    “What happened here?” Major Laxx asked. Haas saw that Maldin already had his tricorder out. He swept it around the room.

    “Captain, it appears that the Adamant lost its structural integrity field, and it’s shielding. There are a series of microfractures spread throughout the ship.”

    “That would explain the loss of oxygen,” the captain remarked.

    “And the bodies smashed into paste,” Triese said. “This had to have happened while the ship was traveling at warp, and the field loss left the crew vulnerable to relativistic forces.”

    “So, no survivors then?” Haas asked. The readings from Sutherland had been inconclusive.

    “Give me a moment,” Keta said, stepping gingerly over a cuirass.

    “Hold,” Laxx ordered, swinging his rifle in her direction.

    “Belay that Mr. Laxx,” Haas demanded. “What are you considering Glinn Keta?”

    “Permission to access the ship’s main computer?”

    “Captain do you think that’s wise?” Laxx asked, causing a ripple of tension through the crew.

    “Would you like to stand over her shoulder?”

    “Yes.”

    “No,” she said, “How about you, Lt. Rudd, and Petty Officer Triese begin searching the ship for survivors or any clue as to what caused this.”

    “Captain?” The Bolian began to protest.

    “I’m more than capable of taking care of things here,” she said. “Now, continue on.”

    “Yes captain,” the marine said, hunching his shoulders as he set about carrying out her orders.

    After the trio had left, Haas turned to Lt. Commander Tol. “Beam down to Engineering. I want to know why the ship’s engines powered down. Who could’ve done that if no one was alive, and the deaths being largely caused by the ship traveling at warp?”

    “It is quite the mystery,” Lt. Commander Tol said, nodding his head. There was a light in his eyes, of anticipation at solving a mystery, a glow not uncommon among the engineers she had worked with over the years.

    “Mr. Maldin, help him.”

    “Of course sir,” the Benzite said. Both men disappeared seconds later. The captain made her way slowly across the bridge, during her best not to step into remains and ignoring the sickening squish whenever she failed. I’m tossing these boots as soon as I get back to Sutherland, she thought.

    She stepped up out of the command well, to the aft computer banks. Keta had done her best to wipe clean one of the terminals. “Found anything yet?”

    “It seemed to have happened suddenly, there is very little in the gul’s log about whatever precipitated this tragedy.”

    “So, are you saying that this was an accident?”

    Keta shook her head, “No sir, I’m no engineer, but I’ve been on enough Cardassian ships to know that tragedies like this are no accident.”

    “What are you implying?”

    “Sabotage,” Keta intoned darkly, “It has to be.”
    *************************************************************

    USS Sutherland
    Captain’s Ready Room

    Fleet Admiral Grace frowned. “Sabotage?” He grumbled. “Are you sure about that captain?”

    “Not for certain,” the captain admitted. “But my gut trusts Keta’s inclinations.” The mask she wore muffled her voice.

    “Maybe you need to be less trusting,” he couldn’t help himself. Sial Keta was just as much a traitor as her defector parents. It didn’t matter that the Dominion nearly wiped out his species in the end, she should’ve been fighting for Cardassia and not with the humans from the start. Though it rankled him, Melek hadn’t completely forgotten life aboard a Cardassian vessel and he knew that Keta’s assumptions were probably correct.

    There were untold militants nestled like vipers inside of the Republic government and military, awaiting orders to strike. And beyond that there were legions of sympathizers. What upset him most about Adamant’s fate is that it threw a spanner into his plans to find Meleken as quickly as possible.

    The dire news on Prime meant that the importance of Meleken as a hostage, as a symbol to evoke sympathy or as an instrument to show the ineffectuality of democratic governance, meant that her life was in an even more precarious position. He had to find her, at all cost.

    “Is there any new information about Meleken Urlak in the data banks? Perhaps this is what instigated the saboteur?”

    “Keta is still combing through the data. There is no new information as yet.”

    “That’s your top priority,” he demanded. “Let’s not forget why we are here, or why you are back in the captain’s seat.”

    “Understood,” she said, and he shivered at the frost in her voice. Realizing his mistake, Melek replied quickly.

    “Justine,” he paused, letting a tremor run through his voice. “Forgive me. I-I am under a lot of stress. The new assignment, things at home, and now this.”

    “It’s okay,” the captain’s concern was palpable. “I understand. No need to explain sir. These are very stressful times…for all of us.”

    “Thank you for being so understanding,” he softened his voice. “Make me proud Justine.” He needed the human on his side. She had been quite the useful implement thus far. “Like you always do.”

    “Will do sir,” she said, with resurgent confidence.

    “Too easy,” he remarked after disconnecting the line. He wished everything else in his life could be so facile. His father needed to know what had happened to Adamant so that they could plan accordingly. He composed a short message and encrypted it. Next, he raised the bridge, “Commander Harrison,” he rumbled.

    “Yes sir,” he liked her quick response.

    “I’m rescinding the order to break radio silence. Alert the nearest authorities that we have found the Adamant, and that we request assistance. Let me know what you are ready to send the message.”

    “Aye sir.” There was only a beat before Harris contacted him. “It is ready sir.”

    “Excellent,” he said, “Send it now.”

    “Sending message.”

    “Alert me as soon as we get a response.”

    “Yes sir.”

    “That is all,” he said, leaning back. He did like the human’s terseness, a trait not endemic to her species. He had hidden his message to his father within the hail. Now he had to do the hard part: Wait.
    ********************************************************************
     
  12. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    You know, I feel bad for Haas, being manipulated in this manner. Not her fault her boss, the CinC no less, is a spy. Or maybe as his adjutant she really should have suspected something sooner.

    I'm impressed with Triese and her loyalty to Shelby. This couldn't have been easy for a half Vulcan.

    Great stuff.
     
  13. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    I'm glad you like Haas. I see her as a sympathetic figure, with daddy issues. She has had a bad run of luck in the father figure department, with her misguided own father and now a Cardassian masquerading as her current father figure. I'm glad you also like Triese. I don't know if I've fully gotten her yet, but I think the mix of her 'hot' Orion heritage and her 'icy' Vulcan heritage make for an interesting mix.


    ********************************************************************
    Cardassia Prime

    There were times, such as now, that Mintof Urlak despised his nature. He pushed the cacophony of misery behind him, as well as the sites of demolition and suffering, as he crouched into the armored vehicle. He had felt the need to be on the scene of the bombed embassy, to render some assistance, but mainly to show his nation his resoluteness.

    But now he needed to return to the Diet Building to continue coordinating relief efforts, in addition to checking the status of his granddaughter. Despite those pressing concerns, tragedy had provided him a golden opportunity that he couldn’t leave unexploited. “So Branis we are clear?”

    “Completely,” Venak answered. Urlak frowned, sensing some hesitation on her part.

    “What is it?” He rasped.

    “Are you…certain you wish to do this now?” The operative asked. “Legate Tarkon has been a staunch supporter in the Diet.”

    “He’s True Way, we are Crimson Order,” Urlak said.

    “But what does that mean anymore, exactly? We all share a nationalist ideology.” Urlak shook his head, partly in disbelief at her naïveté and partly in disappointment that she would question his judgment.

    “I made Tarkon two offers to join me; first as part of the Crimson Order and next as part of our political party. If he had been a wise man it could be him occupying the premiership, with me behind the scenes, where I belong. But he chose some misbegotten loyalty to the True Way. He can’t be trusted, no matter what he says his beliefs are.”

    Venak shook her head. “I understand, but I hoped…we could free ourselves from this tribalism. We are all in this together. I thought our near extinction would change things.”

    Urlak chuckled, “What a strange thing for the next spymaster of the Union to say. Have I chosen wrongly?”

    “Of course you haven’t,” Venak grew ashen. “It’s just youthful idealism rearing its head.”

    “Well, I would advise that you leave idealism in the past…with your youth,” Urlak’s tone was light, but a dangerous undercurrent wafted beneath them. “There is a time for nostalgia and sentiment, but only after our enemies are dead.”

    “I have already made the necessary arrangements,” Venak replied. “With your go ahead, the True Way will be discovered as the ‘culprit’ behind the bombing.”

    “Excellent,” Urlak said. “I knew there was a reason I wanted you as head of the Obsidian Order. So what was all this hand wringing about?”

    “I still think that Tarkon and the True Way could be valuable allies in the Diet.”

    “If you discredit the True Way, we eliminate Tarkon as a potential conservative option, one that has shown willingness to compromise with our occupiers in the past. He is not strong enough to provide the leadership Cardassia needs. Further, it will leave all of his former followers with nowhere to go put our camp. So it will lead to an increase in the size of our party, without the True Way as middlemen or obstacles.”

    “And once the True Way has folded into our party,” Venak said, “The liberals will be outnumbered.”

    “Not to mention cowed into obeisance due to a fearful public,” Urlak said. “It’s almost as if this bombing was a gift from on high.”

    “A devil’s gift, that shifts attentions and resources from the search for Melken,” Venak reminded him.

    “Once you set Tarkon’s downfall in motion, I want Melken to be your top priority. I can handle things on Prime. I haven’t heard from Gul Dien in far too long and am growing concerned.”

    “I will see that to immediately,” Venak said. Before Urlak replied, his personal communicator beeped. He pulled it out of the inner breast pocket of his soiled jacket, and read the message. His stomach twisted in knots.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “Melek found the Adamant…it was drifting in space. No one seemed to survive.”

    “Gods,” Venak muttered.

    “I want you working with Melek personally on this,” Urlak ordered. “I will provide you the communication codes. Bring Meleken home. Nothing else matters.”

    “You have my word.”

    “I’ll have your hide if you fail me.”
    ***************************************************************

    USS Sutherland
    Detention Center

    “I don’t know how you do it captain?” Commander Lavelle asked. The man paced the cell again. “How can you be so calm? I’m have tempted to throw myself against the energy field, and take my chances.”

    “I wouldn’t advise that Sam,” Shelby replied. The tinny sound of Triese’s breathing filled the captain’s ear. Elizabeth was listening to her as she made her way through the ship. It had been almost twenty minutes since she had reported back into the bridge, by Shelby’s rough count, and everyone was getting anxious. It didn’t help that Grace had sent another guard to watch over them, one of the newer assignees. The stern Aurelian didn’t look like he was going to cut them any slack.

    “You and Jaxa,” the broad shouldered man shrugged. “I just don’t get it.” It prompted Elizabeth to look over at the Bajoran. Her worry grew over the younger woman’s deepening quiet. She was sitting against the wall, her eyes closed, her mouth slowly parted as she whispered some type of mantra. Shelby captured bits of Bajoran. It appeared she was in meditation.

    Or was she holding back the multiple personalities that had once plagued her, or more darkly, was she giving into them. The last thing Shelby needed was an emergence of the woman’s Huntress personality.

    “There’s not much we can do right now,” Elizabeth said. Her patience was waning, but it did no good to reveal that to either of her subordinates. She had to maintain an air of cool at all times. She had been heartened when Dr. Murakawa had come to see her and revealed that she had been able to send a message to Admiral Bateson.

    Thus far, nothing had come from it. She wondered if her father had found out. He probably popped a cork at the news, Elizabeth thought sadly.

    “I could be charging hard right now,” Shelby conceded, “But what good would it do? Sometimes, you have to wait, allow things to arc back into your direction.”

    “That’s very Zen of you captain,” Lavelle’s voice dripped with uncommon sarcasm.

    “Drop the tone,” she said, quietly before firmly. Lavelle jerked as if a puppeteer had pulled his strings.

    “My apologies captain.”

    “Have a seat and save your energy. I’ve got a good feeling that you will be relying on it sooner rather than later.”
    ********************************************************************
     
  14. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Author's Note: I noticed that I misspelled Melken Urlak's name several times, as "Meleken". That is Melken I am referring to in those passages.


    ********************************************************************
    CCV Rlakar
    Brig

    Gul Gavran chuckled before he took action. The guard stumbled back, reaching for the fork sticking out of his neck. The blood blossoming from the wound was impeding his efforts. Gavran only had few seconds to admire how expertly it had been placed, right above the protection of the man’s crab shell armor.

    Melken came at him with a roar. Gavran easily sidestepped the woman, but brought his knee up quickly. It slammed into her midsection, knocking the wind out of her. The younger Urlak went down fighting, clawing at him, with rapidly diminishing energy.

    “You are quite the feisty one,” Gavran said, as he held her up, roughly by the arms. “I’m going to regret killing you.”

    Despite her pain and wheezing, the girl’s eyes widened in shock and she began to struggle with him. Gavran dug his fingers into her arms until she squealed. “No, no,” she breathed. “My family…my grandfather is rich.”

    “I’m aware of that,” Gavran said. “Just as I am aware that he was a top figure in the Obsidian Order. Did you know that? Did you realize that the gilded world you lived in was bought for by decades of deception and murder?”

    Melken ignored him. “He will pay handsomely for me.”

    “How can you be so sure?” Gavran was suspicious.

    “You know that I am the last of the Urlak line,” Melken said, capturing a bit more of her breath. She glanced around the brig’s hold and then at his scarred cuirass.

    “I didn’t take you for money,” he clutched her harder. “I’m not a mercenary!”

    “No, what you are is the captain of a vessel in bad need of repair, skulking around our space, pretending your fighting some war… of liberation,” she scoffed. “Mr. Fork-in-the-Neck told me what happened on Prime. I don’t think I’m breaking news anymore.”

    “And that’s why your life is forfeit.”

    “Perhaps…or maybe you could quietly trade me back to my grandfather for money to continue your little campaign.”

    “Ha,” Gavran laughed. “You would dare sully my honor?”

    “Come off it,” she snorted, pushing against his grasp. He relented slowly. Melken stood up, looking up at him, directly. “Soldiers need money and supplies, ship’s need new parts. Leave speeches and vain displays of honor for the easily duped. You can still survive this and come out of it with money, a victory for your ‘cause’.”

    “No,” Gavran shook his head. He was disgusted that the protest felt even weak to him.

    “You’re not going to get your prisoners. My grandfather would never suffer such a loss of face, not even for me.” Melken’s eyes burned with an honest intensity.

    “And you think…that Urlak would not attempt to kill me?” Gavran was disbelieving. Melken laughed and touched his face, as a mother would a child.

    “Of course he will kill you, but later. He will hunt you down later, so you get your money and a shot to evade him, for a few more days, weeks, or months at least. And is that such a bad thing? Aren’t your ilk always prepared to die at a moment’s notice?”

    “Of course I am,” Gavran said, poking his chest out. “I am a patriot.”

    “You are also a leader of men and women; people who need food, clothing, money for the loved ones they’ve left behind as they’ve taken up arms against the ‘occupiers’. They can be more effective fighters with full stomachs, can they not?”

    Gavran rocked back on his heels. He couldn’t deny the young woman’s logic. He appraised her differently now. “You are wise beyond your years.”

    She gave a little bow. “I am an Urlak.”

    “Today I think you have earned the name. If you can secure an exchange, with your grandfather’s word that no immediate harm shall come to me or my crew, then I will release you.”

    “Where is the nearest communication device?”
    ***************************************************************

    CSFV Adamant
    Main Engineering

    Lt. Commander Jadon Tol gaped in wonder as he looked at the coiled cylindrical warp drive in the heart of the engine room. It reminded him of the old 22nd century engines of the NX-01 class or a lazy, gorged serpent.

    He twisted his lips as he looked at its darkened exterior. The silence was deafening. He wasn’t used to being on any starship and not hearing the familiar, gentle thrum of her propulsion system.

    Lt. Maldin came up behind him, also looking up at the cylinder, but his eyes carried more concern than curiosity. He waved his tricorder at the drive.

    “Picking up anything interesting?”

    “Hmm,” the Benzite replied as he looked back at the blocky device.

    “Hmm?” Tol inquired.

    “Sorry sir,” Maldin said, with a start, as if he had awoken from a dream. “Sensors indicate an unusually high level of plasma coolant in the core matrix.”

    “Coolant?” Tol was genuinely intrigued. “How is that possible?” He asked as he made his way to toward the hulking drive. He touched it and recoiled, his fingers felt like they had been dipped in ice. “It’s stone cold.”

    “Yes,” Maldin said, as he used a ladder bolted to the end of the core to climb atop it. “Scans indicate that magnetic interlocks were released to allow the coolant into the dilithium chamber.”

    “That would be suicidal,” the Trill said as he followed Maldin up the ladder. “A rupture of the magnetic interlocking system would leak coolant into the warp core and cause a warp core breach.”

    “That might have been the intention,” Maldin said darkly. “Or else to rip the ship out of warp by corroding its dilithium crystals.”

    “Why would anyone want to do either of those things?” Tol asked. It’s not that he didn’t trust the Benzite’s hypotheses, but he had a hard time wrapping his head around someone with such a suicidal mindset. Plus, the engineer in him abhorred the idea that anyone would destroy such a magnificent engine.

    “I guess we need to find out,” Tol answered his own question. The Trill informed Captain Haas and she quickly agreed with his course of action. He then tapped his combadge. “Tol to Sutherland. I need an engineering team down here, on the double.”

    “Is everything all right over there?” Harrison replied in near record time.

    “Yes, but we have a bit of a mystery on our hands here.”

    “Oh, I detest mysteries,” Harrison remarked.

    The Trill chortled, “Well as some humans are wont to say, this one is a doozy.”
    **************************************************************
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Well, Melken certainly talked her way around the reaper's noose, at least for the time being.

    A fascinating mystery aboard the Adamante, and one that's sure to cause headaches for all involved.

    I love where you're taking this story, DarKush! Everytime I think you're going right, you veer left! :lol:
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Yeah, Melken is clearly playing the role of a smart and calculated hostage here. Good for her.

    I'm still not sure who has been behind the bombing and what purpose it was supposed to serve except perhaps add to the already manic chaos which is post-war Cardassia. And the fate of the Adamant is yet another mystery with no apparent explanation.

    I'm looking forward to finding out answers ...eventually.
     
  17. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Guys,

    Thanks for reading and commenting as always. Rest easy CeJay, you'll finally starting getting answers with this passage.

    ***************************************************************

    Cardassian Central Command Vessel Varathun
    Stateroom

    Gul Martell scowled, “Well this is the first sensible action you have taken in quite some time Gavran.”

    An uncharacteristically nettled Gavran replied, from an undisclosed location, “I only did what you and the others were afraid to do. I struck a blow for our movement.”

    “Your rashness was nearly the death of our movement. Look at how they rally against us now?”

    “That’s because of the embassy bombing,” Gavran said, exasperation showing. “I had nothing to do what that.”

    “I know,” Martell remarked, “It was too intelligently handled. You’re too much of a bruiser.”

    “Well there is that,” Gavran conceded. “It was probably Garak.”

    “Perhaps so,” Martell said, nodding his head, “I have lost contact with him. Though it is a rather risky venture to strike at Urlak. From what I heard, he was actually at the Diet, within striking distance, but Garak couldn’t have known that.”

    “Don’t be so sure what that oily tailor knows,” Gavran intoned. “Or who he knows. He probably has an informant in Urlak’s inner circle.”

    “You might be right,” Martell replied. “Though I doubt you contacted me to discuss Garak’s whereabouts.”

    “As astute as ever,” Gavran said drolly. “I know I went rogue.”

    “That’s an understatement,” Martell snidely muttered. Gavran ignored him.

    “I know that I didn’t follow our plans, and have made things more difficult…however I have a plan to salvage the wreck I’ve caused.”

    “And how would you do that?”

    “We ransom the Urlak girl for money, enough to finance us for several months at least.”

    “You foresee our problems with our silent moneyed supporters as well, I see?” Gavran nodded.

    “Yes, they are doubtlessly skittish about supporting our cause and being found out. Even on the run, I’ve heard about Tarkon’s arrest. The old warhorse couldn’t have bombed the embassy, but it didn’t stop Urlak from using it to his advantage.”

    “A smart move,” Martell nodded in appreciation. “Do you think Urlak would actually pay a hefty sum for his grandchild?”

    “Of course, she’s the last of his line,” Gavran said, with rising confidence. “But I need someone to broker the deal for me. I think its best that I stay far enough away from Urlak lest he attempt to get his vengeance on me.”

    “I can serve as a go-between,” Martell offered, “But I won’t protect you if he comes after you. You’ve put your own head on the chopping block on that one.”

    Gavran smiled coldly, “I understand. But at least I can provide the movement with some sinecure, perhaps as one of my final acts.”

    “I will do what I can to make sure that money gets in our hands. You keep the younger Urlak safe as you can until you hear back from me.”

    The wheels in Martell’s mind were spinning so loudly that he didn’t hear Gavran sign-off. Martell took an unusual moment to sit back, his head resting on his crossed forearms. He afforded himself a rare smile. It had worked. Demolishing the embassy had netted magnificent results for him.

    He had only intended to knock the kidnapping off the comnet, to limit Gavran’s circle of support, to isolate him, to make him desperate and not think clearly, therefore making it easier to hunt him down.

    Even he had expected that Gavran would come to him and offer up Melken Urlak. Not only could the Crimson Shadow come across as good patriots, and not terrorists, by apprehending Gavran, Mintof Urlak’s money could allow him to consolidate his hold over the Shadows and the disaffected True Way members Tarkon’s arrest would generate.

    A shot at real power, of restoring the Union was now truly in his grasp. But there were dark clouds ahead, unknown variables like Elim Garak and his increasingly inconvenient vendetta against Mintof Urlak. After Urlak supplied the money, Garak could have at him, and Martell hoped that both men destroyed each other.

    He knew that their alliance was a marriage of necessity, that Garak didn’t share Martell’s love of the Union or revilement of the Republic. Garak had actually been an advisor to the collaborator Natima Lang. He couldn’t be trusted, though Martell would have to be very careful in how he engineered the man’s demise.

    He hoped that Urlak would do the deed for him, to keep his hands completely clean. After all, shadows don’t have fingerprints.

    ***************************************************************
     
  18. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *************************************************************
    CSFV Adamant

    Petty Officer Triese swept her wrist lamp around, the two beams of light stabbing through the dimmed corridor. She was continuously thankful for the breathing mask she wore. Even though Lt. Commander Tol had rigged up temporary life support, Triese was relucant to remove her mask because she could only imagine what the stench of death from the moist bio-paste spread across far too many of the corridor walls and floors.

    “Seems there are no survivors,” she said quietly, knowing that Shelby could hear her. “The ship experienced a failure in its structural integrity field and a series of microfractures perforated the hull while the ship was still traveling at relativistic speeds.”

    “My God,” Triese heard the shiver in Shelby’s voice. “Those people were smashed against the walls. The carnage must be….” The woman couldn’t find the words.

    “It is….” Triese struggled against her emotions, her compassion for the dead crew and her revulsion at the manner of their deaths, “tragic.”

    “Yes, it is,” Shelby replied somberly. “Anything else?”

    “It appears that all of the ship’s life pods were launched.”

    “So there are survivors?”

    “We haven’t been able to confirm that as yet Captain.”

    “I hear doubt in your voice,” Shelby assessed.

    “Yes, so far the medical team that Admiral Grace sent over to assist us is going through, trying to match the genetic remains with the crew roster Glinn Keta got from the ship’s database. It’s an ongoing process, but I don’t think it will reveal a significant number of survivors. It would seem likely that if that number of survivors were alive they would’ve contacted our ship or another vessel long before we heard the automated distress call.”

    “Maybe they did,” Shelby offered.

    “Perhaps,” Triese was less confident. “We are under radio silence. It is possible that the Cardassians have retrieved the survivors and due to the communications blackout we have not heard the news.”

    “It’s just as likely that whatever malfunctions that inflicted Adamant’s structural integrity field also affected the life pods, certifying the ship as a death trap. Literally sealing the crew in a tomb,” Shelby paused, “A ghastly thought.”

    “Indeed.” Triese nodded.

    “Good work. Continue to keep us updated.”

    “Acknowledged.”

    “Don’t tell me you’re cracking up Petty Officer,” Laxx’s voice was peppered with derision. She slightly jumped, surprised that he had entered the corridor without her sensing it. Her heart pounded painfully against her rib cage, as her body flushed with fear. She hoped he hadn’t heard Shelby’s reply.

    “Of course not,” Triese said, her stony reply at odds with her surging emotions. “I was merely making observations.”

    “To yourself?” Laxx was less than believing.

    “It is…a way that helps me process information,” She said, her cheeks greening at the prevarication. The Bolian huffed, mistaking her guilt for embarrassment.

    “Well keep your monologue internal for the duration of this mission.”

    “Yes sir.”

    “Anything new to report?”

    “No sir.”

    “We are going to continue canvassing the ship to make sure we haven’t missed any survivors.”

    “Aye sir.”
    ********************************************************************

    CSFV Adamant
    Stateroom

    “Any new findings?” Admiral Grace asked, his voice sounding screechy through the receiver in Captain Haas’s helmet.

    “Lt. Commander Tol has discovered that the ship was yanked out of warp by the measured release of coolant into the core’s dilithium chamber. It was just enough to degrade the crystals, not enough to cause a core breach.”

    “What would possess someone to do that? Was that the cause of the crews’ unfortunate fate?”

    “No sir, what Misters Tol and Maldin postulated was that the action was actually done to save the ship…or rather to prevent it from raging unimpeded across Cardassian space. The failure of the structural integrity unit and a series of microfractures were present before the emergency shut down.”

    “So, the integrity field fell, causing the microfractures?”

    Haas frowned, “No sir,” she replied, her voice growing colder, “The microfractures occurred before the field fell. Someone masked them from the central computer’s sensors, on purpose.” She hugged herself, as icy fingers gripped her. Haas couldn’t help looking around the room, expecting to see apparitions flitting through the shadows. Justine imagined spirits of the dead, no, the murdered crew of the Adamant, were lurking about, demanding justice.

    “You can’t be serious?”

    “Glinn Keta has been reviewing the sensor data. She’s found several discrepancies and outright forgeries thus far.”

    “Are you certain she can be trusted?”

    “Why would she lie sir?” Justine did her best to tamp down her annoyance. Keta had proven herself as far as she was concerned. Cardassians were her favorite species, but Keta didn’t deserve to be painted with the same brush as monsters like Dukat or the militants. She just didn’t know how to tell the Fleet Admiral that.

    “Do I need to spell that out to you, really Justine?” Grace asked. “Do I need to relive what happened to me at that camp? Or what the Cardassians did to your father?”

    The words stung her, and as usual, she retreated, “No sir. You don’t.”

    “Keep your head, Justine,” Grace warned, “No matter how charming or sympathetic Keta might appear, as long as he wears that cuirass she is an enemy and you are to verify everything she reports.”

    “Yes sir,” Haas grumbled. The admiral sighed loudly.

    “It doesn’t matter much anyway,” he said. “I rescinded radio silence, to inform Command of our find. They contacted the Security Forces who are sending a ship. I want you to begin wrapping things up there and return to Sutherland. We can’t tarry much longer here, allowing that terrorist Gavran to put even more space between us.”

    “But sir, what we find here could have some bearing on the search for Melken Urlak.”

    “That could have been the case, but I have received a request from Premier Urlak himself. There has been a new development…” It left Justine wondering why he had her going through a song and dance instead of starting their conversation with the new news. Sometimes the admiral loved to string you along, loved his riddles, and mind games. At times his behavior reminded her of the Cardassians he seemed to revile. “Urlak says that Gavran had had a change of heart. He wants to exchange Melken for an undisclosed sum of money. Urlak wants us to carry the money. He said our presence would lend an air of impartiality to the affair.”

    “Not to mention absolving Urlak of any taint that he caved into terrorist demands,” Haas pointed out. “He could blame that on the Federation.”

    “Yes,” Grace said, pride beaming in his voice, “Very astute Justine.”

    “When are we making the exchange?”

    “The time has not been determined yet. They are still negotiating. But we have new coordinates for the bank where we will pick up the ransom money. I want that taken care of, sooner, rather than later.”

    “Aye sir,” Haas said. Her emotions were mixed. She would be very happy to get off this death ship and back to being in motion again, as well as wrapping up this terrible affair and finding a way to hand back the reins to Shelby. But at the same time she was a sucker for mysteries and she wanted to know what happened to Adamant. Could it be something that might befall Sutherland?

    But the mystery was now in the hands of the Security Forces team that would relieve them. She had her orders. Haas tapped her compin. “Haas to away team. Prepare-”

    A terrible scream ripped through the badge, its metallic sound no less rending. “Who was that?”

    “Lt. Rudd,” Major Laxx answered rapidly. “I’m on it.”

    “I’ll meet you there,” Haas declared.
    **************************************************************
     
  19. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Well, I'm actually quite relieved to find out that Garak wasn't behind that bombing. I'm sure the former tailor, former Obsidian Order agent is capable of quite a few questionable acts, it's good to know this wasn't one them.

    And the Adamant mystery depends. What exactly has Rudd run into? Interesting ...
     
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***********************************************

    CSFV Adamant
    Cargo Bay

    Something so wrenching, so horrific that the word agony could never capture it raced across Lt. Rudd’s chest, starting from where his right arm had once been.

    He was falling, the shot flipping him around, and the hard, dark floor rushed to meet him. He barely had a second to throw his remaining arm over his face before he smashed into the ground, cracking his elbow against the metal. That pain was minor in comparison to the lava that was making his way from his chest through his body.

    “Oh God!” He heard Jamie Leighton shout. He tried to get up. He had to protect them, he had to save her, but he couldn’t. His body wouldn’t move, it could only writhe, as he struggled to stay conscious. It wasn’t the first battle he lost.
    **************************************************************

    CSFV Adamant
    Cargo Bay

    Lt. Jamie Leighton had been so stoked when Dr. Murakawa had tapped her to join the Medical Away Team. It was rare that she got to work with her Sickbay colleagues, and she was mystified by what had happened on the Cardassian vessel. Any opportunity to learn more about Cardassian biology that didn’t come from a hologram or a book, she was all for.

    Everything had gone fine at first, much better after Lt. Rudd had fallen in and became their guide, escorting the team around as they took biological samples of the crews’ remains. It was a gruesome atmosphere, but Jamie had been excited to be spending time with Peter.

    There hadn’t been any more poker games after the fleet admiral had came aboard and upset the apple cart, and she hadn’t had much other opportunity to get to see him. So she could take what she could, despite the macabre circumstances.

    She had felt a lot safer with him as they went through the cavernous corridors, made even larger and more desolate due to the ship being emptied, with the sticky, brownish-red remains of the crew coating many of the walls and floors.

    It seemed like they had been trolling the ghost ship for hours until Dr. Murakawa detected a slight energy pulse in the cargo bay.

    “It has been masked,” the medic had said, frown lines hardening on her face. Rudd had stepped forward, his rifle at the ready.

    “I’ll take lead on this doctor,” he had said.

    “Don’t you think it would be wise to wait for back up?” Jamie had asked, her nerves starting to jangle.

    He had glanced back at her and gave her a jaunty smile. “It’s probably nothing,” he had said, “Or nothing I can’t handle.”

    Those and his screaming her name might be the last words he would ever say to him. She could feel his blood, dripping from her face, as she blinked, trying to rouse herself from shock. The demon was coming at her, fingers curved like daggers, and there was nothing she could do.
    *************************************************************