Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Jan 17, 2013.
I've always seen El-Aurians as Trek's Time Lords not Ocampa.
Old Kes, new name?
Or is there something else going on here? Wasn't Linnis the name of Kes' daughter in an alternative time line?
Very intriguing stuff.
Wardroom, U.S.S. Silverfin
Docking Berth Four, Star Station Freedom
Stardate: 54571.1 (July 28th, 2377)
With the cutter enjoying forty-eight hours liberty as they transferred the seized Boslic ship and crew, took on supplies and were debriefed on their latest engagement, Susanna Leijten took the opportunity to enjoy the relative quiet. Most of the crew were on Freedom, making full use of its holodecks, shops on the Bazaar, fully-equipped sports facilities, or even just a peaceful walk in Central Park (the station’s terrestrial enclosure). She would join them later in Viggo’s Tavern, the watering hole favoured by most of the Silverfin’s complement, where their first round would be on her (as it always was), but until then she wanted to just enjoy the quiet of the old border cutter.
At some point in the Silverfin‘s service someone had decided to have a couple of couches added to the wardroom, located just under the windows, which allowed for low-key meetings (and the obligatory gossiping sessions) to be undertaken in a more relaxed manner, as well as freeing up the table for those needing to eat. She now sat on one of the couches, her boots on the deck and feet tucked underneath her as she turned the page of her latest novel. Despite the paper medium, the thriller had only been printed three months ago, the latest work of a quirky author on Deneva who insisted his work was only released in hardcopy (a biography she’d read of him said he actually used a typewriter from the early twentieth century). As with every new book she bought, she made sure to take her time and read each word carefully and digest each page, looking for hints or clues as to what was coming next. She had to admit that despite the unnecessary expenditure of resources, actually holding a book and going through the physical act of turning onto a new page made the experience more enjoyable.
She was nearing the end of chapter seven when the doors opened. Tearing her eyes away from the off-white page, she glanced at the entrance and saw Doctor Mbeki enter. He was so engrossed in his own datapad that he never realised she was in the room, but headed over to the replicator and ordered a redbush tea. It was only when he turned towards the couches did he look up and notice her.
“Oh, hello Susanna. I never saw you there.”
“So I noticed. It must be a good read,” she said with a nod towards the PADD.
He chucked as he sat down opposite her. “If only. It’s the latest diagnostic report of the EMH. I swear that thing seems to spend more time active for maintenance than it does for medical care. Who thought that a bunch of photos and forcefields was a good thing to have working in a sickbay?”
“R&D, the S.C.E., Starfleet Medical, headquarters, so a considerable number of admirals rubberstamped the project.”
He scoffed. “Shows what they know.”
Leijten chuckled. She had heard Mbeki’s thoughts on the ship’s holo-doc many times before and they never changed. He only ever used the EMH in actual emergencies, but the rest of the time it remained stored in the computer unless it was being checked over by an engineer.
Before either of them could return to their reading and enjoy the quiet company, the doors parted again. Leijten looked over in time to see Petty Officer Illan Edris duck under the doorframe and continue into the room, a PADD engulfed by his hands. Edris was the ship’s admin specialist and handled all the paperwork that came through; ensuring it was logged in, distributed to the right officer, then filed and sent back to Squadron Command. The young Trill however looked like he belonged in Security, being one of the tallest onboard, with a powerful build that filled out his uniform to its limits. Edris however was a gentle giant, never losing his temper and had only ever fired a phaser in training. As he approached the couches, a lopsided smile made him look boyish and almost coy—it was no surprise he had many admirers onboard.
“Good morning, Captain, Doctor,” he said in greeting, his voice soft.
“Morning Illan,” she replied, setting her book in her lap. “I’d have thought you’d be on Freedom enjoying some downtime.”
“I’ll be at Viggo’s tonight, but my ‘In’ pile always increases whenever we put into dock, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.”
“Don’t overdo it, PO.”
“Overdo it, sir? I live for it,” he quipped, his grin getting a little bigger. “But there is one thing I can get off my desk right now.” With that he handed the PADD to her. She took it as he told her, “The latest crew evaluation reports are due in a week.”
She small frown appeared on her brow as she looked at the display. “It can’t have been six months since the last lot.”
“Afraid so, sir. Shall I pass them on to Commander Amorin?”
Leijten thought about it for a moment then shook her head. “That won’t be necessary, I’ll do them,” she glanced at Mbeki, “if the good Doctor doesn’t mind me cutting in.”
He shook his head. “Captain’s prerogative,” he said simply, a look of good humour in his eyes.
“Thank you for that ringing endorsement, Tunde.” She looked back up at Illan. “Anything more you want to offload?”
“Not for just now, but I can have another look if you’d like, Captain.”
She chuckled and shook her head. “The evaluations will be enough for now.”
“I’ll leave the two of you to them then,” Edris said with a nod to the two senior officers, turned on his heel and headed for the exit. He ducked back through the opening and left them alone in the wardroom once again.
Slipping a bookmark in between the pages and closing the novel, she set it on the armrest and looked Mbeki in the eye. “You free to get started on these now?”
“If we’re going to be working on them for the rest of the day, I prescribe some good coffee and maybe a plate of Venrillan mint wafers.”
“You’re the physician,” she told her friend as she headed for the replicator to place their order.
* * * * *
The Bazaar, Star Station Freedom
Tamsen System, Talarian Border
The handover of the renegade Boslic ship and crew to the secure facilities on Star Station Freedom had gone smoothly, just as it had done on dozens of occasions in the past. Lieutenant Commander Ling-Na had worked with Master Chief Syva to ensure things went as they should on their end, followed up by the customary reports and transferral of records, after which they were officially on leave.
Ling-Na had contacted Harriet and agreed on where to meet, then made her way through the bustling corridors of the base towards the Bazaar—the commercial zone on Freedom. She was always surprised at the old station, given the fact it wasn’t the largest or newest facility in the sector, it was always heaving with activity—even six months after the Incursion. But with the Silverfin, Bonito and Obion all in dock, as well as a colony ship the Obion had towed in with engine problems, a pair of freighters and a Daystrom Institute surveyor, there were several hundred extra people onboard all looking for some entertainment. At a hair over one-point-five meters, Ling-Na was smaller than most, so was subject to some jostling, but she went with the flow and let the crowd carry her towards her destination.
As the throng of people reached the open space of the Bazaar they quickly dispersed, individuals, couples and groups heading off in a variety of directions, taking in the shops, stalls, eateries and bars the base had to offer. Ling-Na kept her pace steady and her wits about her as she headed for the Replimat on the second level—even though Freedom was a Federation base, picked pockets and petty thefts were known to take place.
She took in the sights, sounds and smells of the vendors, smiling to herself at the sheer diversity available in such a small space, but with the thought came a pang of sadness. Had she followed the will of her father she would never have left the ground of Sino, the staunchly traditionalist colony where she had been born, let alone fly between the stars. He would have seen her married and with a family at her age, but she had always known she wanted more. It was when she announced she was leaving, with her bags packed and passage to Earth booked, did he disown her. Since that day she hadn’t used her family name, which was why her Starfleet personnel file had her listed just as ‘Ling-Na’.
Both she and Doctor Mbeki shared the fact that their families hadn’t accepted their choices, but whilst she knew where her parents were he didn’t have that luxury.
“Ling-Na,” a voice called from above, derailing her train of thought.
She looked up and spotted Harriet Llewellyn-Smyth, smiling and waving at her from over the balcony railing. She gave the Englishwoman a wave and headed for the stairs, climbing them quickly to join the younger woman. Llewellyn-Smyth was also in uniform, but her hair was loose, draped over her shoulders and surrounding her beautifully delicate features like a mahogany frame, in contrast to her alabaster skin.
“I can’t remember the last time the Bazaar was this busy,” the lieutenant stated in her Cambridgeshire accent. “Fortunately it looks like most like most are leaving the Replimat alone for now, so we can at least get a decent table.”
“Good, I’m famished.”
Leading the way towards the bank of replicators, Ling-Na made it through the small crowd with ease, well aware that the pilot was right behind her—Harriet was an expert at getting through tight spots. They both ordered, picked up their trays and then headed for a table on the outer edge of the eatery, from where they could watch the world go by. Ling-Na took a moment to take off her uniform jacket and hang it on the back of her chair before sitting, she may have liked her uniform and it may have been designed for comfort, but she was on leave after all.
She had just sat down when Llewellyn-Smyth leaned forward slightly and asked outright, “So what’s this I hear about you and Ram?”
She was so taken aback by the abruptness that she didn’t have a chance to compose herself, and by the look on her companion’s face she’d never be able to lie her way out of it. Lieutenant Ramdev Sholi was the Watch Officer on beta shift, a man she’d known for the last couple of years since his arrival and found to be interesting, charming and handsome. Though she knew she had little chance of deflecting the issue, she had to try at least.
“What about me and him?” she asked, picking up her fork and knife and studying the Tellarite craff steak on her plate.
“Are you really going to try that one?” Llewellyn-Smyth challenged with a smirk. When Ling-Na didn’t justify her question with a reply, Harriet pushed a little more. “Well, Elak had heard through Claudia, who been talking with Blue, who’d been told by Timod whose quarters are just two down from Ram’s, that he’d seen you leaving the Lieutenant’s room early one morning last week.”
Ling-Na could feel her hackles rise. Though she knew there was no malice in the gossip, she thought they’d managed to get away with their private meets. “I may have to throttle Ensign San,” she stated bluntly. “You’d think that someone with four lifetimes worth of experience would know when to keep his mouth shut.”
“Oh come on, Ling-Na, everyone knows Timod is the biggest gossip onboard—not much gets by him.”
Sighing heavily she had to agree. It was hard to keep any secrets on a ship with one hundred and twenty-three others constantly around, especially with the narrow corridors and cosy quarters that featured on the Albacore-Class. But still, she’d need to have words with Timod San next time she saw him—surely there had to be some reg that prohibited spreading rumours about senior officers.
“So everyone knows then.”
“Most of the people I’ve spoken to seem to.”
“Do they know about it before or after you started talking to them?” Ling-Na asked with a raised eyebrow.
Llewellyn-Smyth took that moment to take a very large forkful of her spaghetti carbonara, then just shrugged her shoulders. Ling-Na had to chuckle and shook her head as they both ate quietly for a moment.
After she swallowed, Llewellyn-Smyth continued. “We’re all just happy to see you happy, I mean it’s been a while since your last...dalliance, so it’s about time you found someone.”
“Speaking of ‘dalliances’, is anyone new in your life that you’ve neglected to tell me about?”
“Good morning ladies,” a deep voice interrupted.
They both looked in the direction it originated and found Lieutenant Commander Kolanis Daezan approaching their table, an easy smile on his naturally tanned face and a slim redhead on his arm. From the corner of her eye she noticed Llewellyn-Smyth’s posture stiffen slightly, then she glanced down at the table for a moment before refocusing on the Silverfin’s Ops Manager.
“Morning Kolanis,” Ling-Na replied.
“Hello,” added Harriet, her eyes flicking to the redhead.
“Enjoying all the Bazaar has to offer?”
“We’ve just got here really. The plan is have an early lunch, hit the shops, then get ready for tonight,” she explained. “Will you be joining us?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” he told them. A second later he suddenly seemed to realise he was with someone and looked at the woman who was with him. “Sorry, where are my manners. This is Lieutenant Quinn Burke, the Operations Chief from the Bonito. Quinn, this is Lieutenant Commander Ling-Na, our Second and Tactical Officer, and Lieutenant Harriet Llewellyn-Smyth, Senior Conn Officer.”
“Hello Commander, Lieutenant,” Burke said, her voice sounding far younger than her years. “It’s a pleasure to meet some of the infamous crew of the Silverfin, other than Kolanis of course.”
“It’s nice to meet you too.”
“We met a couple months ago, when we were here on Freedom for that demonstration on the new trans-spectral sensor array. Neither of us seemed overly enthused about it, which put us in a minority of two, since then we’ve been corresponding back and forth when we can,” Daezan explained.
“You techie types have to stick together,” Llewellyn-Smyth quipped, her smile more polite than amused. “Will you be joining us tonight?”
“I wish I could,” said Burke, soundly truly disappointed, “but we’re due to depart at sixteen hundred.”
“So we don’t have a lot of time today, and we’ve still got that Bolian place to try, as well as our holodeck reservation,” Daezan interjected.
“We’d best not keep you then,” offered Ling-Na. “We’ll see you tonight Kolanis and good luck out there, Lieutenant.”
“Thanks and you too, Commander.”
“Cheerio,” Harriet added as the couple headed towards the stairs.
Ling-Na watched them go for a moment then turned back to find her friend tearing through her meal, as though it was the first thing she’d eaten in days. There was a sullen silence hanging over the table, the jovial nature of their banter had been lost. Ling-Na ate quietly for a few minutes, studying the younger woman intensely and kicking herself for being so blind.
After five minutes, she’d had enough of the unnatural stillness and leaned forward, seeking a little payback, but also wanting to see what support she could give her friend.
“So what’s going on between you and Kolanis?”
Harriet Llewellyn-Smyth’s face turned brighter than a red alert klaxon and Ling-Na had to bite the inside of her cheeks to keep from laughing.
* * * * *
Awkward ... funny but awkward. At least for Harriet.
Nice to see the crew catch some downtime. Something tells me they're gonna need the rest for what is coming next.
Liking what I see so far. Keep up the great work, Bry. You've got some truly magnificent characters here. In fact, I saw a Netflix show with your captain in a couple episodes recently.
It's called "House of Cards" with Kevin Spacey and its a remake of a Brit show from, I think, the 70s.
Bridge, Kazon-Degra Destroyer Draxorr
En Route to the Ocampa System, Delta Quadrant
The dual-levelled bridge of Maje Nekahr flagship was filled to capacity. From the command gangway, he could look down upon his crew as he led them into their latest battle. None of them knew what to expect but they would all be out for victory, or else they would suffer his wrath for their failure.
Even after ordering his scouts into the system to learn more of the situation, they could report back nothing more than their initial sweeps. The station remained in orbit above the mining outpost, but there were no lifesigns on the surface, no ships providing protection, no signals or links between the new station and the Ocampa who lived beneath the surface. There had been a few shuttles over the last two days, but they too had stopped. All scans of the station refused to give any hint as to their weaponry.
They would soon find out what the station could do. Nehakr was leading nine destroyers and seventy-three attack ships (three-quarters of the Kazon-Degra armada) towards Ocampa, all under orders to succeed. It was a risky manoeuvre as it left their other holdings vulnerable from neighbouring Sects, but he wanted to show all those who would oppose them just what they would face if they tried to do what the Ocampa had somehow managed.
“Time,” he bellowed.
“We will enter the system in forty-two tahks,” the navigator responded instantly.
They still had some time until they reached the planet, not much but enough to ensure everything was ready for the battle they would soon begin. He had to show the Degra’s strength, so he knew that the station would be destroyed. Part of him was even considering opening up the ground and bombarding the underground cities of the Ocampa from orbit, wiping them out once and for all. The men who worked the mines always looked forward to finding the occasional stray female, making the most of her until her final breathe, but that was no reason to keep the troublesome species around. Eradicating the Ocampa would give them sole control of the facilities and supplies under the surface, including its abundant source of water.
“Order all ships to run final weapons checks and then move into formation. We will open fire as soon as we drop out of warp.”
“Yes Maje,” stated the communications operator.
* * * * *
Administration Centre, Ocama City Station
In orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
Tanis was concerned. Ever since their encounter with Daggin three days ago, he hadn’t seen or sensed Kes. She had disappeared into a blinding ball of light she created from inside her own body, and he had felt something so bizarre he still couldn’t give it words. The closest he could come to describing the sensation was like an infant in the womb, feelings of such contentment that it could melt even the coldest hearted to tears.
Even with her silence, he still couldn’t sense Susperia; so he suspected that Kes was still alive and had just gone off somewhere to recuperate—as she had done after moving the City Station into the orbit of their ancestral homeworld. But still, he couldn’t help but be worried—as was Daggin. Since she had vanished, the two men, both leaders of their respective communities, had opened a dialogue. He had learned of the hardships the Ocampa on the planet had faced, the actions they had taken to conserve their power, making it last far longer than just five years. Tanis had arranged for power cells to be taken down to the city, as well as food, medicines and whatever other supplies were needed.
Part of him was still wary of the planetside Ocampa. Though they were all the same species, generations of separation had turned them into two very different societies, so aside from the pilots and cargo handlers he had sent down to the surface he had asked that the rest of his people remain on the City Station. He knew there was a growing feeling within the populace, of those who wanted to throw caution aside and go down to the planet. So few had ever ventured from the station and even fewer had ever set foot on ground that wasn’t artificial. Even though the ecology had been decimated by centuries of harsh sunlight and UV radiation, they wanted to stand in the dust and look up into the expanse of cloudless blue sky.
In truth, he couldn’t blame them—he wanted to as well.
But caution was needed. The City Station had means and technology the Ocampa underground couldn’t even fathom—such as the procedure to extend their lifespan—whilst their culture was also stunted. They had been so dependent on the Caretaker for so long that they had lost their identity and purpose, beyond simply taking what they were given—that being said, they had come far over the last six years on their own (more from necessity than desire, but it was a start at least).
“Administrator?” a voice spoke aloud.
Startled, Tanis looked across the display table he had been stood at. Junior Technician Lae was looking at him, a concern expression on his young face. Tanis had been so wrapped up in his own thoughts and concerns that he hadn’t heard the younger man contact him telepathically.
“Sorry to disturb you, sir, but I’ve picked up something unusual on sensors.”
Putting thoughts of Kes, Daggin and the surface from him mind, he said, “Show me.”
Lae tapped a sequence into the display table and the image shifted. It showed the scans of the system, with the station and fifth planet at the centre, then the other eight planets in the system and two dozen moons, all of which looked just as they had since the City Station had arrived eleven days ago. It was only when he looked to the outer edge of the system that he saw what Lae had picked up. It hadn’t been there previously and was getting closer.
“What is it?”
“Our scans show it to be metallic and we are picking up an energy signature, but beyond that we can’t determine anything more.”
Tanis mused over the information. “A ship using some kind of sensor-masking technology?”
“If it is, sir, it is enormous. Well over fourteen imani is diameter.”
He shot the sensor operator a serious look, immediately knowing what was heading their way. “It’s not just one ship, it’s a fleet! The Kazon have come to reclaim their outpost.”
* * * * *
Oh boy. A Kazon fleet vs the Ocampa. Well, ordinarily my money would be squarely on the former. Except the Ocampa have a real ace up their sleeve. That is, if she'll show up in time. Otherwise ... shortest invasion ever.
Gardens, Ocampan Colony
Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
The gardens that Daggin had once taken such pride in had long since died. Despite the food and medicine the colonists had gotten from the fruits, vegetables, herbs and trees they had grown, the energy needed to provide the light for them to grow was considerable. The gardens had keep kept for almost two and a half years, before it was decided that they couldn’t justify the energy expenditure—after all the gardens could only feed a small percentage of the population and they didn’t have the resources to expand them. It had broken his heart to switch off the power to the colony, as it meant leaving behind the life he had chosen for himself, the once he loved, with people who wanted to think for themselves instead of blindly following the Caretaker dogma.
The containers that had once held a wide array of planets had nothing other than blackened soil in them, whilst the trees that had once stood proud and tall were withered and feeble, their bark grey and cracked. He ran his hands of the rough trunks and took a deep breath. Gone was the sweet smell of fruit bushes flowering, the mouth-watering scent of freshly picked vegetables being cooked with the spices and herbs that had grown wide in the gardens.
He had once been a man of simple pleasure, working with his hands, singing and laughing with his friends as their toiled—out of love for what they had created than any sense of duty. Over the last six years he had gone from a farmer to a politician, trying to lead his people through the greatest adversity most could have imagined. Whenever he found himself overburdened he would return to the place he had been happiest, sit in the dim light and remember all that had been and all that he had lost. Kes would always be near the top of that list.
He still couldn’t quite fathom that the woman he had seen three days ago had been her. They were the same age, but she looked as though she was over nine. It wasn’t her age that shocked him the most, it was her way. Kes had been the best of them; kind and compassionate to a fault, but with a strength and passion that came from deep within. The woman he had seen on the Great Plaza was cold and distant, within whom he could only sense anger and bitterness. What had happened to change her so dramatically?
Only she would know the answer and he had no clue what had happened to her, where she was, or even if she was still alive.
With a heavy sigh, he tried to push aside his thoughts of Kes. He would only have a short time to calm his weary mind before he would be called upon again to help defuse some new problem—though thanks to Tanis it wouldn’t be power-related. He closed his eyes and breathed in deep, filling his lungs with the small of mulch and soil, as he tried to relax each muscle.
Daggin had only been at it for a short time when he felt a pulse of heat. It lasted barely a second and it was only after it passed that he noticed just how cool the gardens were.
*Hello Daggin,* a frail yet familiar voice sounded in his head.
He opened his eyes and found Kes standing before him. It took him a moment to realise who she was as she looked older than she had before. Her hair had lost any hint of grey, now pure white, her skin was paler and more wrinkled, her posture hunched and her frame fragile, but it was her. As he opened his mind once again, he could sense that the darkness that had shrouded her had lifted somehow—she was by no means the bright and joyous girl she had been, but the void he’d sensed within her before wasn’t the same. From somewhere deep within the withered woman he had once known he could sense hope.
“Kes,” he said breathlessly, slowly standing.
A faint smile tugged at her cracked lips but didn’t reach her eyes. “I see you’re still flouting tradition.” On a world of telepaths it was rare to speak aloud, to the point where those who chose to do so were looked down upon. In the colony they had all chosen to use verbal communication above telepathic, reserving it for only the most intimate of relationships.
“I may not live in the colony anymore, but I am who I am.”
“Yes you are.”
“Kes,” he began then paused. There was so much he wanted to ask, so much he wanted to know that he didn’t know where to begin. His eyes traced her wrinkled features, which made her look even more fragile than when her skin had been taut and cheeks rosy. He stepped forward, reached out and cupped her left cheek. Part of him had expected to feel it cold and rough like the tree bark, but she was as warm as he was and her skin was soft. “What’s happening to you?” His voice was so soft that it didn’t echo around the still garden.
She pulled her head away from his hand, faster than he thought she was able to move, and turned her back on him. For a moment he was afraid she would vanish again, but after a beat she glanced over her shoulder at him. For the briefest of moments he though he saw something of the old Kes he knew in her eyes.
“I’m...I’m not who I was, Daggin. During my time onboard Voyager we encountered an alien species and after I touched their minds, my abilities grew and grew. They haven’t stopped developing since that day, and every time I push myself to my limits it takes a toll on my body. I...I just never realised how much until I was back here.”
“Couldn’t Voyager’s crew help you?”
She shook her head. “When I started to change I left the ship in order to protect them. But I was alone for so long, being bombarded with thoughts, feelings and sensations from so many minds that I got lost. I forgot who I was and began to focus on all I had lost. It...changed me, Daggin, corrupted my spirit.”
“You seem a little more like yourself now,” he told her, a lopsided smile tugging at his lips.
She looked up at the rocky ceiling thirty meters above them, but she seemed to be looking right through it. “For the first time in too long, I have done something selfless...” A very faint smile touched her bright blue eyes.
“What was it?”
*Daggin!* Tanis’ voice called out telepathically, an edge to it that made Daggin nervous.
*What is it?*
*A Kazon fleet has entered the system and on a direct course for the City Station.*
“By the gods,” he gasped, the blood draining from his face.
*Daggin, get the people to the emergency shelters,* Kes instructed as she turned back to face him. *Tanis, I will be onboard momentarily.*
*Kes? When did you return?*
*Not now, Tanis.* She looked at Daggin square in the eyes. “Keep them safe.”
“Kes,” he called to her, “be careful.”
“I will be back, Daggin.”
With that there was a brief flash of light and he found himself once again alone in the gardens. He looked up at the manmade ceiling, wishing that he could do something more, but his place was in the city looking after his people. He would have to leave their defence up to Tanis and Kes, and hope that they would see them all through.
As he jogged back towards the city, he opened his mind as far as he could and calmly began telling all those he could to get to the shelters. They in turn would open their minds up as well and so forth until every man, woman and child in the city knew what was required of them.
* * * * *
Great Plaza, Ocampa City
Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
*There is an emergency, we have to get to the shelters!* was all Linnis heard. Dozens of voices, one on top of another, called out to all those who could sense them. She could sense their fear to varying degrees; the elderly, who had grown up under the influence of the Caretaker, were the worst, whilst the younger generation were coping slightly better. Linnis was more anxious than fearful, all she heard was the same message. No one knew any more than that and she didn’t like not knowing.
Dutifully, she passed on the instructions and began heading for the nearest emergency shelter. The shelters were reinforced bunkers dotted all across the city, intended for the Ocampa to use during earthquakes or other such incidents. They weren’t used often, definitely not in her lifetime—though the people had taken shelter on the day the Caretaker left them, when the ground shook.
How do I know that? she asked herself.
There was no time to dwell on it. There was a tidal wave of bodies heading for the shelters and she was caught up in it. The collective sense of fear was almost overwhelming, but even as the emotion swept them away, the people remained quiet. There were a few tears but no sobs, no angry or frightened shouts, no nervous chattering, just the sound of dozens of footfalls on the metal and stone floors.
The silence and orderly chaos were too much for her. The obedience and unquestioning acceptance as much an element of her people as the points on their ears. Linnis forced herself to stop in the middle of the crowd and was immediately jostled from all sides as bodies tried to force her to comply. Pushing back against the tide, she slowly moved away from where they were heading, drawing puzzled looks and more forceful mental calls from others about the need to seek shelter.
She ignored them and pressed forward, her lithe frame allowing her to slip through whatever gaps presented themselves, or shoving her way between the people when she had no other option. In her mind she could hear their calls to her and one another, perplexed and worried about what she was doing, but the communal sense of fear kept them from doing anything but follow.
It took her several long minutes to reach the edge of the crowd and break free from them. Away from the torrid of people, she was finally able to catch her breath. Standing to the side, gripping a balcony railing for support, she watched them go. Few looked at or even noticed her, which suited Linnis just fine. She didn’t know what she was going to do or where she would go, but she knew that she couldn’t just follow anymore, not without knowing why.
The crowd grew thinner as the shelters were filled and the people took other routes to get to safety. She watched as the numbers dwindled before she was left alone on the plaza. Without the thundering footsteps all she could hear was her own breathing, whilst the voices in her mind had grown quiet, chattering among themselves and never realising she was still out in the open. As much as she wanted to go out and try to find answers, she found herself clinging to the railing, suddenly unsure of where to go to get what she wanted or even what she should be asking.
“What are you doing out here?”
The singular voice echoed around the Great Plaza, before drifting off into the cavern the city was nestled in. It took her a moment to realise that someone had actual spoken the words and not projected them. She looked around and saw a tall dark-haired man running towards her, his expression stern.
I know him, she realised as he got nearer but couldn’t put a name to the face.
He was looking all around, his eyes moving across windows and doorways, trying to see if there was anyone else left behind, so he paid little attention as he ran in her direction. He slowed to a trot as he finished inspecting all the houses and businesses, then focused on her, and stopped.
“I’m sorry,” she began. “I wanted to find out what was going on, if there was something more I could do than just hide in a bunker.”
She wasn’t even sure if he’d heard her, his eyes were tracing the smooth curve of her jaw, slight cheekbones, button nose, and large blue eyes. As he stared at her she found that his scrutiny didn’t unsettle her, but instead found something familiar in the handsome man—something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
After a long moment he shook his head and his softening expression faded, becoming all business once again. “You shouldn’t be out here, it may not be safe.”
“How?” she asked defiantly.
He paused again, a faint smirk tugged at the corner of his lips as he looked into her eyes once again. From his expression she wasn’t the only one that was similarities in a stranger.
“We have Kazon heading towards us, a lot of them.”
She glanced up at the cavern ceiling, but pictured the station sitting in orbit and not the dark rock overhead. “The other Ocampa, will they be alright?”
“I don’t know, but they’re not alone up there,” he told her, glancing surfaceward as well. “An old friend is with them.” He lowered his glance to look at her once again.
“Why have us take shelter then?”
“Because the Kazon are savage and brutal, and they won’t have liked being forced off the surface. They’ll be out for blood and may do anything to get it.” He placed his warm hand on her shoulder. “Please, you have to take cover.”
“Aren’t you going to?” she asked, finding his touch strangely comforting.
“I have to make sure the people are safe.”
“You could use some help then.”
He paused for a moment then nodded. “Let’s get going.”
* * * * *
Bridge, Kazon-Degra Destroyer Draxorr
Approaching Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
“It appears they are aware of our approach,” stated Nadar Holek, the Draxorr’s second-in-command, the only other person Nekahr permitted onto the command gangway with him.
Though their scanners still couldn’t penetrate the hull of the base, they had picked up an energy surge—possibly weapons—and the facility had raised its shields. They were obviously readying themselves for a fight, which suited the Maje just fine.
He looked over at the communications operator, a young Jadd called Ruran. Unlike most other males on the bridge, he was gangly and pale, how he had made it through the trials was a mystery, but what he lacked in physical presence he made up for in technical knowhow—which was the only reason Nekahr saw fit to keep him around.
“Signal the Verakat and Karix, have them move in and begin an orbital bombardment of the planet, target the site of the old energy conduits—I want the mines left intact. All other destroyers are to focus on the station. All attack ships in front, move in and open fire.”
“Yes Maje,” Ruran responded instantly.
Eight attack ships had been attached to each destroyer, as escort on the journey to the Ocampa system and to fly point for when the battle commenced. The Draxorr had nine escorts in formation around the behemoth destroyer, all of which would be included in the first run on the station. Nekahr wanted to see what he was up against, so when the strike ships launched their attack he would watch and see what the station retaliated with them—after all the smaller ships were easier to come across than fully-fledged destroyers.
“Maje, all attack ships acknowledge. The Verakat and Karix stand ready.”
He didn’t bother to look at the communications operator; instead he keep watching the enormous screens before him, sneering as the attack ships spearheaded towards the station. To the side he noted two destroyers move towards the planet, whilst all the others hung back, they would keep their impressive weaponry in reserve until the attack ships saw what they were up against and soften up their defences. Nekahr hadn’t become Maje of a Sect like the Degra by being foolish. Six years ago everyone in the sector had given the old station a wide berth, aside from providing the Ocampa with massive amounts of energy no one knew what else it was capable of.
“Our ships have engaged the station, Maje,” reported navigator Settuh.
Settuh looked over the scanner displays for a moment. “The stations shields are down by six percent. They haven’t fired yet. First wave has finished attack and regrouping, second coming into range. They’ve opened fire.”
On the screen the second attack got underway, each strike ship blasted, none of them held back as they fired and moved in on the station. Once they were close, they broke off and headed to regroup as the third squad of ships took their place. As the attack progressed, the men below him sounded off the damage the station’s shields had taken as well as the lack of retaliation, the sound of bloodlust creeping into their tones—they all wanted to take their place in the battle (such as it was).
Nekahr should have been relishing the assault, but something seemed wrong to him. The station with its bulbous body and multiple struts and antennae, none of which their most powerful of scans could penetrate, should have possessed some kind of weaponry—the original facility had had a powerful weapon system, capable of hitting a small portion of group from light-years away—so why was this one laying dormant.
“The Verakat and Karix have begun firing on the surface, Maje,” Settuh announced triumphantly.
Just as the last word had left the navigators lips the viewscreen burned with scorching green energy blasts. Before Nekahr could demand a report or issue any order he witnessed the trap the station had sprung. From the tip of each arm around the station, bursts of plasma discharges targeted his fleet. Some were focused on the latest wave of assault ships, destroying them with a full on hit and crippling those too close to change course, but the stations main target were the two destroyers separated from the rest. The weapon blasts tore through the Verakat’s shields and into the hull. Ball after ball of energy carved into the destroyer, setting the oxygen rich interior on fire. The Karix, protected by the assault by the other destroyer, turned away and tried to escape from the ambush.
“Have all ships regroup!” Nekahr screamed. “Any attempting to flee will face a fate worse than death at the hands of the Ocampa! All destroyers, target that station and fire!”
As the Draxorr led the other mammoth ships into battle, the Verakat plummeted into the atmosphere, burning from within. Nekahr would make every Ocampa he saw pay for the men he had lost on that ship, he would have them brutalised beyond their darkest nightmare until they would beg for death.
* * * * *
Administration Centre, Ocama City Station
In orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
The centre buzzed with activity, the men and women who were usually so calm and collected performing their duties were anxious and scared. Tanis didn’t need to sense their emotions, as he was feeling just the same way they did. In the past of course they had had dealings with the likes of the Kazon, and other opportunists who thought them to be weak and easy to conquer. Every time the City Station had showed its teeth and they had been left alone, but they had never faced such a force as they were now.
Just before it had begun, Kes had returned to the Admin Centre looking much older than before, but there was no time to fixate on her deterioration. He had been ready to open fire as soon as the Kazon armada was in range, but she had advised another course, one which would see them inflict greater damage on the Kazon. He had listened and, although not liking the idea of the City Station purposefully taking damage, agreed that it was a sound tactic. If they did nothing, the Kazon would start to get sloppy and then they could strike.
But now their element of surprise had been lost, they were facing the rage of the Kazon. Their attack had taken out one of the destroyers (which would be crashing into the planet in the next couple of minutes) as well as eighteen of the smaller ships, leaving them facing off against sixty-three warships. All of which seemed to be firing on the station at that moment.
*Shield down to forty-six percent,* one worried technician called out.
*They’ve taken out another weapons port.*
*Hull stress is approaching maximum tolerance on levels eighty to one ninety-two.*
He looked around at all the faces, wishing he knew what to do next. He was their leader, a politician not a warlord—none of his people were warriors or soldiers. Looking back at the display table he saw the Kazon ships gathering in two groups, in opposite directions to one another. They would be coming at them from different angles, which would mean they could focus their shield strength in one area. Their weapons were powerful but needed time to recharge and target accurately, so they couldn’t keep up the near-constant barrage the Kazon seemed to be managing.
“We have to find a way to thin out their numbers quickly,” mused Kes, who stood opposite him at the table.
“We’re doing all we can Kes. What more is there? We’re not soldiers!”
That seemed to give her a pause for thought. “You’re right; we’re not like the Kazon. We are Ocampa. We have abilities the Kazon have no way to fight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Our psionic abilities, Tanis. The Kazon are weak minded, dominated by their emotions and passions—especially when in battle. When I was their prisoner I saw them fighting amongst one another regularly, they don’t care who it is they fight so long as they get to fight. We just have to encourage and manipulate that part of them.”
As she spoke, he came to understand her meaning. “We can implant suggestions into their minds and have them focus on each other rather than us.”
“Round up the strongest telepaths you have, Tanis, as many as you can. Tell them what we need them to do, and have them focus on the assault ships, leave the destroyers in one piece.”
“What? Kes we need to target all of those ships, there’s no way the Kazon will back down now. They won’t stop until we are dead.”
Her eyes lock onto his and she held his gaze. “I need you to do this for me. We have to keep those ships intact.”
Tanis tried to probe her mind further, but her blocks were up and he couldn’t get beyond the surface of her thoughts—all of which were focused on the battle. He could have pushed further but something told him that to do so would not be good for him. Though still confused as to her request, he gave her a nod.
“I’ll see to it.”
He moved away to begin signalling the men and women he knew could handle what was needed of them. A moment after he turned his back on Kes he felt a pulse of heat and looked over his shoulder. Once again she was gone.
I hope you know what you’re doing, Kes, he mused. Part of him still couldn’t believe that she was the same girl he had met all those years ago. Pushing it from his mind, he began to assemble their latest weapon against the Kazon armada.
* * * * *
Kes shows up to lend her support to the defense of the Ocampa. It's the least she could do considering that she's the reason they're on the war path in the first place. The question that remains: Is it going to be enough?
Kes' plan is risky, as the Kazon are as unpredictable as they are volatile. And it seems she may have designs on the destroyers, but for what purpose?
What remains of the original Kes, as twisted as she's become by circumstance and the mental depredations of Species 8472?
I'm enjoying this battle deep in the Delta Quadrant, pitting old enemies against one another long after Voyager's departure.
Auxiliary Control, Kazon-Degra Destroyer Skadra
In Orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
The destroyer Skadra rocked, the results of a smaller ship exploding to just ahead of them. Jal Mekhad watched the sensor data from where he stood in the auxiliary control room. Though all main ship controls were handled from the bridge, the backup facility was kept manned going into battle and handled support duties, whilst those on the bridge got to enjoy the battle firsthand. All Mekhad could really do was watch as they fought against the single station.
He tried not to look at the desert world it orbited, the memory of his disgrace was still fresh in his mind—which his shipmates would never let him live down. Defeated by an elderly female Ocampa—it didn’t get much worse than that. His skull still ached whenever he thought of that night.
“Have any of you tasted their females?” Hagadd bellowed from the weapons console. His question was met with a number of negatives. Mekhad kept quiet and shook his head. “You don’t know what you are missing! They are sweet and soft, so small and fragile; too much pressure and you might break something.”
“Draq!” Tuerk challenged. “You’ve never had one of their females! They are reserved for those closest to the Maje.”
“Guard duty has to have some perks!”
There was a ruckus of laughter. Once again, Mekhad stayed quiet. The other men in the room ignored him, so if he drew attention to himself he would face their scorn and harassment—and he had suffered more than enough since that night.
As the others laughed and goaded Hagadd to give them more details, Mekhad stayed quiet, watching the sensor display, though listened to the intimate description Hagadd regaled the others with, feeling his own interest grow—females of any species were a mystery to him (yet another thing the males around him knew and took great pleasure in belittling him about). The topic of conversation wasn’t a new one, they often gloated about their conquests with the females of the Sect, or others they had seized in raids, so Mekhad knew that they would soon turn on him and start berating him for his lack of experience. He hated to do anything that might attract their attention sooner, but when the sensor readings suddenly changed he spoke without thinking.
“What the vejah?”
“Got something to say little man?” Hagadd demanded.
It was only then Mekhad realised he had spoken, and now faced eight pairs of eyes boring into him. Hagadd and Tuerk moved in closer to him, the fully-grown males looming over him, blocking out his view of the rest of the room. They shoved him into the console and pressed in tighter, almost growing at him, the smell of stale sweat filled his nostrils, and he could hear the others moving in behind the two Dohka—none of them wanting to miss his latest humiliation.
“He can’t be called a ‘man’,” Tuerk corrected, “he still hasn’t experienced the true right of manhood. He is nothing but a boy—how he passed the challenges is a mystery to me.”
“I bet he made himself available to the Maje,” Hagadd grunted with another shove to emphasise his point. “Is that it? Is that why you’ve never bhaked a female? You want to be the one on your back!”
Mekhad shook his head. “No Dohka.” His voice was little more than a whimper, which made his tormentors and their audience laugh.
“That’s no protest!” Hagadd sneered.
“I think you’ve found him out,” added Tuerk. “He is nothing more than a yaniki! Filth!”
With that Hagadd spat on his cheek and slammed him into the console, bending him back until he whined in pain at the pressure of his spine against the metallic surface. The demeaning laughter only got louder.
That was until alerts began sounding from every station. In seconds the auxiliary control room was filled with noise, which stopped their torment. Hagadd released him and as he slumped to the cold deck, went over to the weapons console. Mekhad propped himself up as the others quickly followed their superiors lead and went back to their posts. He saw a look of confusion cross each of their faces.
“What the vejah?” Hagadd said slowly.
Mekhad knew what they were seeing, as he had seen it moments ago. Their assault ships were no longer targeting the station, but rather turned their weapons on one another. The main bulk of their fleet was decimating itself!
After their confusion, it took a few moments before they began angry and panicked. The auxiliary control crew were trying to make contact with their escort ships, demanding answers or telling them to resume their attack on the station. All were met with static. Then started the shouts and accusations over the intercom, no one seemed to have a clue what had happened, but none were willing to suffer the wrath of the Maje.
Mekhad remained on the deck, watching the others pound their controls and shout into the companels. They were all so focused on themselves that none of them noticed the hatch opening. He looked back at the entrance and saw a slim grey figure step onto the deck. She was older than the first time he had seen her, but her eyes were the same, looking from one Kazon to another as though there were little more than tehga flies.
When her steely gaze came to rest on him, he felt his insides go cold. Her eyes bore into him and he knew she remembered him as he did her. He had to get away from her. Glancing at the only other hatch on the door, it wasn’t far but he didn’t know how fast she was—but he had to try.
He clambered to his feet and started edging towards the exit. He had only moved a couple of steps when her voice filled his head.
*I told you to never return!* Her voice was blunt with an edge that was more threatening than all of Hagadd’s bellowing, it stopped him dead. He turned his head away from the exit and back at her. She stayed just within the hatch, but it felt as though she filled the room.
From the corner of his eye he noticed Tuerk turn towards her, as well as a couple of the others. Slowly, one-by-one, they were all looking at her—Hagadd was the last to turn away from his console.
Did they all hear her? Mekhad asked himself.
Hagadd puffed out his chest and narrowed his eyes. “Who are you?” he demanded, taking a step towards her.
“No!” Mekhad called out.
But it was too late. There was a sudden burst of light that forced him to shut his eyes, but a second later he could feel the burn of sun on his skin and the gritty taste of sand on the wind. Opening his eyes once again, he had to shield them for the harsh light in the cloudless sky. He stood in the midst of a throng of Kazon, in an endless sea of sand, with nothing on the horizon but shimmering dunes.
He was back on Ocampa.
* * * * *
Aft Cargo Bay 5, Kazon-Degra Destroyer Draxorr
In Orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
Kes materialised into the cargo hold and slouched against one of the containers. After travelling from one destroyer to the next and transporting their crews down to the surface of her homeworld she was growing tired, luckily she was on the last ship. All around her she could sense the minds and thoughts of the Ocampa Tanis had gathered to target the smaller ships. He had managed to find one of his people for each ship, who in turn were targeting all of the Kazon bridge crews, implanting false images and thoughts into their barbarous minds, making them see enemies where there were none.
She had surmised that her idea would work, but she had never expected it to go so well. The Kazon’s natural paranoia and lust for violence were a dangerous combination, which made them highly susceptible to telepathic manipulation, but it seemed almost too easy to turn them against one another. But that wasn’t her immediate concern; she had one last ship to secure. Precognition wasn’t an ability she possessed, but during her time away from home, both on Voyager and after she chose to leave, she had seen much and come to know the minds of many others. She knew that even after today her people wouldn’t be safe, not with the Kazon, Trabe, Vidiians, and any of a dozen other races nearby, each of whom would want the rich minerals her world possessed. All the while her people would hide under the surface of a world that was useless to them—even with Tanis’ help their future was a bleak one.
The destroyer rocked; most likely another assault ship had been destroyed nearby. She didn’t have much time. Taking a deep cleaning breathe, she pushed off from the container and focused herself once more. Though she had manipulated molecules at the subatomic level many times, it always took its toll on her—especially when she was using her abilities to allow her to walk through bulkhead and transport thousands of men from orbit down to the far side of Ocampa. She had chosen the dry seabed as it put the Kazon on the opposite side of the planet from their mines and the subterranean city. The conditions would be brutal, but they may survive long enough for someone to find them—that was if one of the destroyers managed to call for help.
At a steady pace she walked towards the metallic wall and through it into the corridor, blowing out a couple of power lines as went. Her progress remained constant, as she reached out with her mind and located every Kazon in the section she walked into, focused in on each of them and teleported them to the surface to join the rest of their bewildered and furious Sect. They were so focused on the battle and the actions of their other ships that they weren’t prepared for an intruder, as such any Kazon she encountered in corridors or rooms never had time to reach for his weapon before disappearing in a blink of light. That would change as she neared the front of the destroyer, when calls to the engine room or weapons control went unanswered and those still onboard would be ready for something and would shoot at the slightest movement.
Surprisingly, she met little in the way of resistance. By now she knew that the battle would be going very badly for the Kazon: seven destroyers adrift, thousands of crewmembers marooned in the middle of an endless desert, their escort ships destroying one another (most likely they were few still operational on the battlefield), whilst their target remained with only a few cuts and bruises. Kes suspected that the destroyer she stood on was the flagship, as she had yet to encounter anyone with the arrogance of a Maje. If this was his ship, then he would be more focused on punishing his own men’s failures than executing a plan of attack.
There were only a few compartments left ahead of her, only a few dozen men still onboard. As with the other ships, her path from the aft section forward would end on the bridge. Before she got there, she wanted to make sure the rest of the ship was empty, so that she could speak with the Maje in person, to make her realise and understand who it was he was facing. She wanted to teach him that the Ocampa would no longer be slaves or servants to anyone, he would be the last one to make the mistake of thinking they were weak.
She entered the short corridor that would take her to the bridge; the solid doors were sealed ahead of her. On the decks above and below her she sought out the last few Kazon and removed them from the destroyer, leaving just twelve on board all in the one location.
Warping her way through one last door, the first thing she noticed was the smell of unwashed bodies, followed a second later by their hostility and rage. Like the other command centres, she stood on the upper level gangway, where only the ranking officer was permitted to stand (in this case the Maje), whilst the lower level had numerous consoles that faced outwards, with a couple freestanding nearer the front of the deck. It took her only a heartbeat to assess the room with all her senses, long enough to pick out each individual man and focus in on him—except for their leader, a tall and broad man with the same wild, unkempt hair the Kazon favoured.
All of them were oblivious to her entry. That changed after she transported them away, the multiple flashes of light followed by the stillness confounded the Maje.
“What?” he screamed, leaning over the railings of the gangway, his head whipping around, from console to console, trying to find some remains of his crew. He caught a glimpse of her and came to a stop, his sharp green eyes boring into her. In an instant he drew his disruptor.
Before he had a chance to squeeze the trigger, she focused inside the weapon and dissolved its molecular bonds, dispersing his firearm into particles smaller than dust. He looked at his empty hand, as though it would somehow have answers that he didn’t. He quickly fixated on her again. She didn’t need to read his mind to know that he thirsted for revenge against the Ocampa, starting with her.
“I will make you suffer old woman,” he hissed.
Faster than she would have thought possible for a man of his bulk, he launched himself towards her, roaring and snarling, teeth bared as though he were about to use them to rip her throat out. She didn’t flinch as he closed the short distance between them. When he was within a fingernail of her, she gave her hand the smallest of waves and lifted the Maje off his feet and propelled him backwards. He smacked into the console at the far end of the gangway.
Momentarily dazed, he shook it off and got to his feet, his anger building. Another roar escaped his lips, followed by a string of profanities she could only guess at. This time she didn’t let him get as close, stopping him in his tracks before he’d taken five steps. She lifted him clean off the deck and watched him writhe and lash out, barking at her.
“Maje,” she began, “I was willing to overlook all the Kazon have done, if you had simply heeded my warning and never returned to this world. But since you threaten my people, I have dealt with yours. Those who don’t kill each other in orbit have been transported to the surface.
“If you thought my world was difficult at the mining camp, you will find it brutal when cut off from even the most basic of resources you had there.”
“I will not be subjected to this jvatt shuk from an Ocampan rekz! I will slaughter each and every one of you for this! Your people will die screaming in agony, and you will be to blame!”
She stepped closer to him and lowered her voice. “I am willing to let you live on the surface, but threaten my people again and I will not be so forgiving.”
The Maje laughed. “Do you think I am afraid of a pathetic female like you? I will make you watch as I take every female under the surface, drenched in the blood of your men. They will be so ruined that they will beg for death!”
Kes’ eyes looked beyond the surface of the Maje, honing in on all the atoms and bonds that made up the basic elements within his body then, as with his disruptor, she shattered them. Standing alone on the gangway, she slumped against the railing, her body and mind drained. But for now her people were safe.
*Tanis, what’s the state of the Kazon fleet?*
*There are only three ships left operational,* was his prompt response.
*Implant false memories into the crews, then send them away.*
*There has been enough death today, Tanis.*
Sighing heavily, she looked at the large viewscreen in front of her. “They’re safe now,” she affirmed to herself.
*But for how long?* a powerful female voice resonated within her skull.
* * * * *
Methinks it's time for Kes & Company to get the Hell Out of Dodge (TM).
The Kazon won't be gone for long. Even if this sect has been de-fanged, another sect will doubtless move in on their territory, to include the long-suffering Ocampa homeworld.
Definitely wagon-train time...
Was that a working title for the Refugee Crisis?
Unfortunately "Caretaker" never gave any hints as to how many Ocampa there were on the planet, so I'm not sure how they're going to fit the entire population on their seized ships--it's going to be tight, that's for sure.
That'll be the next thing I have to figure out, after checking in with the AQ.
Engine Room, U.S.S. Silverfin
Docking Berth Four, Star Station Freedom, Alpha Quadrant
Stardate: 54576.3 (July 30th, 2377)
Amorin missed the engine room. It had been his domain for many years before his unexpected promotion and in his hearts he knew it was where his true passion lay. When he had been Chief Engineer of the Silverfin he was able to navigate through the room with his eyes shut and without using the echolocation sense Benzenite possessed, simply because he knew the place so well. He could have gone into any of the equipment lockers and find any tool in his sleep. Now though he needed to look for things.
His successor, Elak th’Shaan, has been his assistant for four years so he had known Amorin’s system and methodologies, but once he had taken charge of engineering the young Andorian had down what he could to make the department his own—just as Amorin had done from his predecessor. Though similar, th’Shaan’s organisation was different but no less effective, it just took a little time to get the hang of it.
“I’ve spoken with Syril up in impulse control,” th’Shaan was telling him, as they stood at the MSD looking at the technical diagram of the cutter, “and she has done a full purge and scrub down of the manifolds; with any luck that should be it.”
“I didn’t think you believed in ‘luck’, Elak.”
“Not usually,” he admitted his antennae curling slightly, a sign of his uncertainty, “but we’ve gone over the entire impulse drive and can’t find any sign of what caused that hiccup.”
Amorin scowled, still not convinced. When they had entered the Tamsen System on approach to Star Station Freedom, with the smuggler ship in tow, there was some kind of interruption to impulse engines, which had caused a twenty percent dip in power. Nothing life-threatening and the problem had lasted for only four-point-one seconds, but it was a technical anomaly that neither of them had liked.
“Syril did say that there wasn’t much work that needed doing—seeing as how the impulse drive had been involved in the overhaul in February. But there is nothing to explain the power drop—unless you subscribe to Pedro’s gremlin theory.”
The overhaul they had undergone at the beginning of the year had been fairly extensive, taking over two weeks to complete, and seen them missing out on the Talarian Incursion. Even with the entire crew pulling double shifts to get the work done, they had only been able to launch a day following the attack on the Talarian supply base in the Hedakas System but by then the Talarian advance had halted and the militia was in retreat. They hadn’t been able to do anything more than respond to ships in distress or escorting hospital ships. It was something that still stung for many onboard the Silverfin, as all they had been able to do was listen to the reports coming in of the dozens of ships damaged or destroyed, the hundreds injured and killed, whilst they had been safe in dock.
“As much as I appreciate Crewman De La Cruz’s out of the box thinking, I’m not willing to chalk this up to mythical creatures just yet. Run a level four diagnostic on the entire impulse drive every shift, the last thing we need is for that to happen in combat.”
Th’Shaan nodded. “You got it, Commander.”
“Commander Amorin to the Bridge,” Captain Leijten called through the intercom.
“On my way,” he replied to the CO then looked back at th’Shaan. “Keep me posted.”
“Don’t I always?” th’Shaan asked with a smirk.
Amorin headed up the ladder to the second level, paused for a moment to look back across the engine room then, with a sigh, headed through the exit. From deck six the trip through the drive section, umbilical neck and into the saucer was a short one. He used what time he had to shift his focus away from impulse driver coils and diagnostics, as he once again stepped into his role as XO. They had been briefed the day before on their next assignment, a routine patrol along the border in the Mudor Sector, which was one of the more remote areas within the Third Squadrons operational area. It was a sector that had been ignored during the Incursion, but during the brief Talarian-Orion conflict that had followed it had seen some of the fiercest fighting, so exactly what they might find was anyone’s guess.
Stepping out onto the Bridge, he quickly recalled the duty roster for their next patrol tour. In addition to the senior officers, there were three non-coms on duty: Petty Officers Sa’Qwa and Smith were at the aft console, whilst Crewman Blackwolf was at engineering.
Blackwolf looked up as he entered and gave him a friendly smile. “Good morning, Commander.”
“How are you, Claudia?” he asked, pausing beside her post for a moment.
“No complaints, sir.” She gestured to the console. “I’ve been alerted to the impulse diagnostics, would you like to monitor them from here?”
He shook his head. Blackwolf had joined his crew just a few months after his promotion, so he hadn’t vetted her personally, but what he’d seen of the young woman’s skill was impressive, so he had no problems leaving her where she was to keep an eye on things. “That won’t be necessary. But if anything strikes you as sohhs’pah then let me know.”
Beneath his breather mask he smirked to himself. “It loses something in the translation.”
She smiled. “Got it.”
On his right he looked at Daezan, who flashed him a quick grin before looking back at his displays. Amorin headed towards the command arena, where Leijten sat, legs casually crossed and perusing a PADD. She glanced up as he approached.
“Is everything all shipshape down below?”
“Looks like. The impulse hiccup is still a mystery, but the manifolds have been scrubbed and Elak will continue to monitor. All other systems are in the green.”
Leijten nodded then handed him the PADD she’d been reading. “It’s the latest reports we have on the Mudor Sector. According to Intel it’s been pretty quiet these last couple of weeks. The Thunderbird was the last cutter on patrol out here and they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary either.”
Taking the PADD he quickly read over the reports and data, noting that all long-range scans of the space beyond the Federation boundary showed no unusual activity, just their Talarian counterparts and the occasional non-aligned ship going about its business—nothing suggesting illicit activity though. During the rest of his shift, Amorin would digest all the information carefully, but to a cursory glance it looked as though their patrol would be uneventful. However experience had taught him that it was on tours where all looked to be quiet that they needed to be the most vigilant.
He then looked at Leijten, who gave him a subtle nod.
Holding the PADD behind his back, he began their normal routine. “All stations report readiness.”
“Tactical sensors, defensive and offensive systems all operational,” stated Ling-Na immediately.
“Computer, communication and sensor systems on-line,” added Daezan.
“Navigational array and inertial dampeners check out, thrusters, impulse and warp ready at your discretion,” Llewellyn-Smyth reported.
“Environmental and power systems are at optimal,” said Blackwolf.
“All auxiliary and backup systems are fully functional,” Sa’Qwa finished off.
Leijten looked over to operations. “Commander, clear our departure with the Dockmaster.”
“Secure airlocks and clear all moorings,” Amorin addressed Blackwolf.
“The Dockmaster has cleared us.”
“Airlocks sealed and all moorings have been cleared.”
“Aft thrusters at one half, port and starboard at station keeping, then increase to two-thirds impulse once we’ve cleared Freedom,” ordered Leijten.
“Aye sir,” was Llewellyn-Smyth’s prompt response.
Even though each and every one of the Bridge crew knew what to do, the exercise for departing Star Station Freedom had become something of a ritual. Each of them had their part to play, as a way of helping them to hone their focus on what was ahead of them.
* * * * *
Administration Centre, Ocama City Station
In orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
Two days had passed since the Ocampa had defeated the Kazon-Degra armada, a fact that Tanis was still having difficulty processing. They had actually won in a fight against eighty Kazon ships! He doubted there were many in the sector who could boast such a feat. But it wasn’t the time to be complacent, the rest of the Sect could warp in and seek revenge, or another could try and seize the planet for themselves. Given how unstable the Sects were it was best not to think they were safe just yet.
The City Station itself had come through the skirmish with some damage, but it was being seen to. The people were eager to see their home whole once again, so they had been working tirelessly since the battle. He had also dispatched some of his people to ensure the eight destroyers that sat in orbit were truly empty, and a few salvage teams into what was left of the Kazon ships.
All of the Ocampa on the planet were alright; fortunately the Kazon attack on the surface hadn’t lasted long enough to cause much damage to the subterranean city. Given the ferocity of their attack on the station, their own casualties were light—though there were one or two suffering ill effects after being so deep inside the minds of the aggressors, but that too would pass with meditation.
Over the last two days, he had had his crews keeping a close eye on the sensors—for all they knew what they had faced was just the first wave, sent in to soften them up and discover their tactics. But as the days passed he began to ease up a little, though ensured all on duty remained cautious. He was also telepathically calling out to Kes, who he hadn’t heard of since she had order them to stand down. Tanis suspected that after transporting over eight thousand men to the surface of Ocampa five, she had withdrawn once again to gather her strength.
He would give her time to recuperate, but her actions had left him with a lot of unanswered questions, first and foremost being, why did she want those ships left intact? That would have to wait until she returned, and he had more than enough to be doing in the mean time.
Looking down onto the planet, the origin of his species, he couldn’t help but feel a connection to the dusty world. Before Kes’ intervention, he had never given the world a second thought, seeing it as a primitive and backwards place, but after meeting some of the people and learning of what they had done for themselves over the last six years, he found a sense of pride grow within him. Despite all the differences between the two groups of Ocampa, they were more alike than he’d imagined. This of course led to debates and discussions about what they would do in the future. The planet was incapable of sustaining life on the surface, whilst the city was far from self-sufficient, barely able to feed the population let alone build a power plant. They were also defenceless; their very existence was at the whim of whoever was in control of the surface.
The station could stand guard over them, but even then it was just one facility and there were numerous hostile races nearby who would test their strength and resolve. The planet was rich in minerals, which made them a target—That could be why Kes wanted those ships? he mused. The Ocampa could harness those resources and use them for trade, but the logistics of such were vast from learning how to use the Kazon ships, to forging trade agreements with other races.
Then there was the matter of all the developments the Ocampa on the station had over those in the city, from the strength of their mental abilities to the technology they had developed to extend their lifespan, all of which would be useful for those on the surface, but would take time to dispense among the population. He could only hope that before the next crisis emerged that they would have time to bring together the two distinct halves of the Ocampa, to merge them back into a single people. It would take time and involve a lot of hard work, but seeing as how the City Station was now in a geosynchronous orbit around their planet then it only made sense; his people had the technology whilst those of the surface were far greater in number.
“Administrator, can you come here a moment?” one of his aides asked.
Tanis gave a nod and turned towards the younger man, but before he even took a step he felt a familiar prickle in the back of his mind. It was a sensation he hadn’t felt for several days and now found it a strange feeling.
Susperia. She had returned.
* * * * *
This is good stuff, Bry! - I always enjoy your Silverfin stories. Excellent detail and character work. I've never been a fan of Kes (or much from Voyager) but you've woven an intriguing plot with the Ocampa/Kazon conflict and Kes' "super powers." I'm interested to see where this leads and how the crew of the Silverfin play a role.
Superia is back? Can't imagine she's going to be too happy to let Kes call the shots. I feel a power struggle coming on.
Glad you're enjoying it TLR, if it wasn't for your work with the Bluefin then the Silverfin would never have existed . VOY isn't my favourite series either (nothing will beat DS9) but I always prefered the Kes years rather than when Seven took over. It won't be long until everything comes to a head and my Border Dogs will have their part to play.
Got a few things to work out so not sure what direction things will take just yet.
I apologise for the delay in getting back to this story, been pretty blocked of late, and this section I was at wasn't helping matters. So I've decided just to try and push my way through and get this story back on track.
* * * * *
Northern Polar Region
Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
Ocampa five was a dry planet. Whatever the Caretaker and his people had done to the planet had left it barely habitable; unable to produce rain, high levels of UV radiation baked the surface, soil unable to sustain even the simplest bacteria. Plants had died off, rivers and oceans had dried up leaving behind nothing but desert, whilst at the poles all the ice had evaporated and there was nothing but grey rock formations, whilst the temperature was only slightly lower than elsewhere on her homeworld.
Transporting eight thousand, seven hundred and eight-three men from high orbit onto the surface of a planet was more taxing than Kes had expected. So she had taken some time to centre herself once again, but as she tried to meditate she was bothered by the recollection of the Maje’s emotions, the dark and degrading imagery his mind had been filled with was worse than any other Kazon she had encountered.
But even that paled in comparison to the sudden surge she had sensed. She knew it was Susperia, having felt her presence even since she had moved Tanis and his people to Ocampa five, but she had managed to keep the alien entity from making contact to her followers and vice versa. Susperia’s ability to break through her defences showed Kes just how exhausted she was—but then again she had been overdoing it a lot in the last couple of weeks, and even her abilities weren’t infinite. She had known from the minute she had decided to reunite her people that a confrontation with Susperia was unavoidable.
Since bringing the station into orbit, she had erected a telepathic defence barrier to keep Susperia away from them in both mind and body, but now she had found a crack, Kes knew it would only be a matter of time before the entity forced her way through. Before that happened, Kes wanted to deal with Susperia on her own terms. So she lowered the barrier around her, opening up the north pole but keeping the station and the subterranean city safe.
Now she waited, using the techniques shown to her by Tuvok to quieten her mind and focus her abilities.
“Hello Kes.” The voice was hoarse and sounded old, with the slightest hint of menace.
Opening her eyes Kes looked upon an Ocampan girl, no more than half a year old, wearing a lightweight pink dress which fluttered in the breeze. Slowly, her muscles groaning and joints popping, Kes got to her feet, never taking her eyes off the being before her.
“Hello Susperia,” she replied, keeping her tone level. On the edges of her mind she could feel the Caretaker’s mate trying to crack through her own mental shielding, but she kept her barrier firmly raised and held fast. Going mind-to-mind with the alien was something she did not want to attempt as she had no knowledge of just how powerful Susperia was.
The girl looked around at the barren spires of stone and the cloudless sky. “It has been a long time since I was last on your world; it was a different place then.”
“You were here before the Warming?”
Susperia nodded. “It was quite beautiful then.”
“Why did your people experiment on the atmosphere?”
“Merely an experiment we were carrying out—the principles of which are too great for your simple mind to comprehend.”
Kes felt her push a little harder on her telepathic screen. “Trying to anger or upset me won’t work. I fully accept that your science is beyond anything I know, but my mind is far from simple.”
Susperia smiled, which was both sweet and nasty at the same time. “So I see. You have come farther than I ever suspected an Ocampa to achieve. How did you manage that?”
“A species I encountered a few years ago somehow managed to warp my abilities. Since then they have grown and continue to develop.”
“Indeed. I must admit I am impressed. Psionic teleportation isn’t easy, and you did it over eight thousand times—into the middle of a desert.
“Tell me, Kes, have you ever seen someone die from exposure or thirst? A horrible way to expire but it is a sentence you have given each and every one of those Kazon. I would never have imagined such barbarism from you.”
Kes felt a flicker of doubt and remorse and then Susperia pushed. Momentarily weakened, Kes could feel her defences buckle against the sudden and unyielding force. Her head was ringing with pain and every nerve she had felt as though it was on fire.
“Stop,” Kes whispered, her voice lost on the soft breeze.
Susperia pushed harder and deeper. Kes could feel her searching her memories, pushing past every defence she tried to erect, charging straight through every thought maze she tried to hide behind. In her mind’s eye, Kes could see the savage smile on the sweet girl’s face as she searched for what it was she wanted. Kes didn’t know what Susperia wanted, so had no way of protecting the knowledge she was trying to rip from her mind.
“The weak shall perish.”
The triggered memory of Species 8472 brought with it all she remembered on the alien invaders from fluidic space. As soon as it began, Susperia followed the trail of neuro-chemicals an edge of accomplishment tinged her presence in Kes’ mind.
Finally knowing what it was she was after, Kes was able to muster all of her defences, drawing on all the energy her mind could generate, she blocked the memories and pushed back, hard.
The blast of psionic energy flung the little girl back and into a rocky outcropping, whilst Kes dropped to her knees. Winces of pain shot through her body and she felt blood-soaked fabric cling to her legs. Exhausted, Kes tried to push aside her physical pain and focus on keeping her mind fortified. Slowly she looked over to where Susperia lay prone, but she knew that the being wasn’t quite as fragile as she looked—her mind was proof of that.
As she looked at the girl, she noticed an arm twitch, then a leg moved. Slowly, she sat up and glanced at Kes, who noticed a trickle of blood coming from her nose. She also saw a flicker of apprehension in Susperia’s eyes—she obviously hadn’t expected Kes to be able to stop her, though in truth Kes was surprised she’d been able too. Susperia got to her feet quickly, but Kes stayed where she was, not trusting her own legs to support her weight—even as light as she was.
“When did you encounter them?” Susperia demanded.
Kes shook her head. “I won’t tell you anything.”
“I have ways of making you tell,” she stated, but with the slightest waver of her voice.
Kes smirked. “If that was really true, you’d have taken that knowledge from my mind. I assure you that was your only chance to get inside my head.”
“Tell me what I want to know!”
“Why?” she challenged, pushing past the pain that filled her mind.
“Tell me!” Susperia growled, taking a step forward.
Seeing an opportunity, Kes pushed out with her mind without hesitation. Just as the alien had done to her, she forced her way into Susperia’s thoughts as her defences wavered. The effort was challenging, as the mind was so alien compared to all the others she had touched in her short life, but she kept going. She saw places and events she’d never dreamed of, wonders she’d never be able to put into words and horrors that would stay with her for however long she had. Amongst the chaos of Susperia’s mind she caught a glimpse of Ocampa five before the Warming, and the alien had been right, the world had been truly beautiful and advanced—more so than she had expected, a whole history that had been lost to her people since they’d moved underground.
From there, Kes could feel Susperia’s thoughts branch off in multiple directions, though all in a similar pattern—what happened on her world wasn’t the first time they had interfered with other races. As she tried to push down those memory paths, she could feel Susperia close in on her and trying to force her out. It only took Kes another second to find what the alien being didn’t want her to know, then she withdrew.
Susperia fell back onto the hard rock, looking dazed.
“What gives you the right to play god?” Kes asked, winded from the effort of burrowing into Susperia’s mind. “You have done much good for some of the races you’ve visited, but also much misery and my world isn’t even the worst you’ve done—you created them.”
The little girl focused once again, fear radiating from her.
“You made a mistake, one that made them too dangerous to keep around, so you disposed of them into fluidic space. Why?”
“We were trying to make them better,” Susperia admitted.
“Just like you tried to do here?”
She shook her head. “Our experiments were on your environment, not your people. Once it failed and my mate remained to care for your people, I saw the potential the Ocampa had—so that was why I took those that I did.”
“You were trying going to engineer our genetic makeup, why?”
“To make you more than you were, to exploit your full potential. After what happened to your world, my mate objected to my plan, so that was why we parted company.”
“That’s why you extended their lifespan and enhanced their abilities.”
Susperia nodded. “They developed further than I expected, but you are something truly unique.”
“I’m a monster, no one should have the power that I do—it’s taken a great toll on me.”
“The effects of your aging could be reversed—”
Kes shook her head. “It’s not the aging. I’ve lost who I was. The girl you met before is no longer inside me. It is not something I would wish on anyone, especially not me people.”
“They matter greatly to you.”
“After I started to change, I believed they would be afraid of me and what I could do—I am. But I now know what I can do for them. Their power reserves are almost depleted, this world will never sustain life on its surface and the Kazon will continue to fight over it. Their only chance of survival is to leave here, which was why I reunited them.”
Susperia looked off into the distance, the spires of rock and the deep crevices gave the pole a dramatic landscape, beautiful in its own right, especially in the twilight of the setting sun. There was a long, silent pause. Susperia wasn’t in a rush to speak and Kes wasn’t about to rush her—their previous engagements had taken it out of her and she didn’t believe she had another in her.
“I envy you,” Susperia said still looking out at the landscape, sounding a lot like the little girl she appeared to be. “Returning to your people...even for a short time.”
“Can’t you go home?”
“When my mate and I were left behind, it was not intended for us to return.” She finally turned to look at Kes once more, her eyes on the verge of tears. “I am alone.”
“There are thousands of worlds where what you could offer would be welcomed.”
She paused again for a moment, before walking over to where Kes knelt. They were almost eye-to-eye when the girl came to a stop, a look of sadness on her face.
“A gift for you to help your people.”
With that, the girl touched Kes’ forehead with one slim finger. In the blink of an eye her mind filled with images, of something magnificent—something which would be more than a help, but a lifesaver. When she opened her eyes again, the girl was gone.
Thank you, Kes called out, hoping she would hear.
* * * * *
Who knew Susperia had any compassion left, or that she'd be so generous as to give Kes something of value?
The revelation that the Caretaker's species were responsible for unleashing Species 8472 onto the multiverse is an eye opening one. If that was an 'Oops', what might they accomplish if they decided to intentionally create a malevolent species?
Great work, I'm eagerly awaiting more!
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