Star Trek: Fallen Heroes

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Alexbright99, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. Alexbright99

    Alexbright99 Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2018
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Fallen Heroes - chapter 2c

    Earth, San Francisco – April 16, 2382 – Stardate 59288.9


    Tony Q takes off his regular uniform jacket and shirt to replace them with his dress uniform jacket, which nicely complements his black pants with its gold embroidering reserved for Starfleet’s most formal attire. “How do I look?”

    “Ready for a party.” Ensign Emily Blue—already wearing her security division dress uniform—is seated in a rectangular lounge chair, with her back turned against the set of windows covering the south side of their modern bungalow. Though this house is a few dozen kilometers away from where they used to live with Tony’s father, the view of San Francisco in the distance is simply spectacular, especially now, late at night, with the city lit up like a Christmas tree. Holding an important position at Starfleet Headquarters has it perks when it comes to choosing a place of residence.

    “I am more than ready for a bit of fun,” Tony says with a weary smirk, followed by a deep sigh. “What a week!”

    “Starfleet knows how to keep us busy,” Emily says while standing up to switch on a few extra lights. It’s getting darker than usual outside—the kind of darkness one would normally associate with endless winter nights. “And they don’t believe in shore leave during wartime, that’s for sure.”

    Tony doesn’t reply, distracted by a hopeless struggle with his collar. “Oh come on,” he says to his uniform, to no avail.

    Emily decides to help Tony get his collar straight before someone gets hurt. She places her hands on his jacket and assesses the situation.

    “I mean it’s Friday night and they still won’t give us a rest,” Tony says as he catches a rosy whiff of her perfume.

    “Relax,” she says while solving his collar problems in two seconds flat. “It’s not another meeting with Starfleet’s finest about fleet strategies, worst case scenarios, or whatever it is you lot talk about all week. It’s a party!”

    “Easy for you to say,” Tony says, checking his collar for any irregularities. Of course, he finds none. “All you have to do is guard some museum in Chicago.”

    Emily deflects his sarcasm with a teasing tone. “Hey, that’s not nice. I love my job at the Art Institute and you know it.” She threatens to mess up his collar again.

    Tony shrinks back, laughing. “No, no. I’m sorry.”

    Emily breaks off her attack and walks away with a spring in her step. “It was nice of you to invite me and your dad to that fancy gala.”

    “Yeah, trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Admiral Paris and Admiral Manero duke it out on the dance floor.”

    Emily makes a display of rolling her eyes at his attempt at humor but can’t suppress a giddy chuckle. “No, seriously. Your father’s really looking forward to it.”

    Tony heads over to the window and gazes at the city. “He’s probably already out there, waiting by the entrance.”

    In the sky over San Francisco, multiple shadows take form. Tony has to squint to make them out, but they are there—no question about it. Of course, a metropolitan sky is never empty—tons of shuttlecraft of all kinds and sorts fly around twenty-four hours a day—but these shadows cannot be ordinary shuttlecraft, because those are required to fly with activated navigation lights. These shadows are blacker than night itself; if they weren’t moving, they’d be invisible.

    Beautiful and alarming in equal measure, green lights emerge from the shadows to rain down on the city. When these lights hit the skyline below, instigating bright explosions, Tony realizes at last he is watching a terrible disaster unfold before his very eyes! He wants to call out to Emily, but his mind has gone numb and his mouth dry.

    While opaque fighters descend from the heavens and fire at the city of San Francisco, Tony doesn’t even wonder how they broke through the planetary defense grid and the fleets of starships guarding Earth, or if they’re also attacking other cities all across the globe. All he focuses on is a plethora of spacecraft attacking his city, unleashing their wrath on defenseless buildings, extinguishing lives left and right.

    Fiery detonations knock out the electrical grid of a skyscraper, shrouding it in darkness until another weapon strike zaps through dozens of its floors. A handful of seconds later, the weakened structure collapses in an avalanche of dust and debris. Countless buildings suffer the same fate, one by one. The burning city lights the sky with an irregular, lurid glow, enabling Tony to identify the fighters as Foora-class Altonoid ships—similar in appearance and configuration to Klingon Birds of Prey and just as deadly. Heavily armed, highly maneuverable, and boasting a wingspan of up to 60 feet, these fighters are built for one thing and one thing only: to spell doom for their enemies.

    Shuttles and other armament-carrying craft that were already airborne mount attacks on the Altonoid battalions with varying results, mostly in the aggressors’ favor. No matter how hard they try to defend the city, the fighters easily outnumber them. A million questions pop up in Tony’s head; fury, sadness, and despair vie for his attention, but they’re all set aside by one simple fact: the Altonoids are invading.

    There is Starfleet Headquarters, near the Golden Gate Bridge, lit by numerous phaser beams and white-hot explosions. Tony is forced to watch helplessly as a squadron of Altonoid fighters barrels down in an attack run and lets fly at the most important building of San Francisco—or Earth, for that matter—and Tony’s workplace. Within seconds, the proud nerve center of Starfleet Command is diminished to mere ashes and rubble, and what’s left is destroyed by the Altonoid squadron directly behind the first one.

    Tony finally regains control over his vision, so he can actually choose where to direct his gaze, allowing him to notice that the suburbs and nearby towns are under siege as well. Directly ahead, a Starfleet fighter catches his eye. It’s flying at low altitude with an angry Altonoid fighter hot on its trail. The small Peregrine-class fighter is hardly a match for the Foora-class Altonoid fighter, and it’s suffered heavy damage. Worse yet, the Starfleet fighter’s left wing catches fire after its impulse engine blows up, causing the fighter to spin out of control, heading straight for Tony and Emily’s bungalow!

    Hypnotized by the fighter twirling down at him in a frenzy of flames, Tony refuses to believe this is happening. It isn’t going to hit the bungalow; it’s going to zoom over and crash into something else. It can’t possibly—

    His hypnosis bursts like a bubble when Emily grabs him by the arms and shoves him away from the windows overseeing the imminent disaster. Tony concludes it’s a good idea to dive away from a spacecraft on a direct collision course, and he and his wife land uncomfortably behind their brand-new couch.

    In the final moments before the crash, the fighter makes a last ninety-degree roll to the right. Now it’s coming in vertically with its right wing pointing at the ground. In essence, the bungalow is about to be carved in two by an enormous, burning circular saw.

    The fighter’s nose shatters the windows within a nanosecond, sending a mist of pulverized glass flying in all directions. Although these fighters seem relatively small when airborne, they’re not so small when they come bashing through your living room! The impact causes the vertical fighter to tumble end over end, slicing, dicing, and scorching all it encounters, including the roof, the floor, and everything in between that’s unfortunate enough to get hit by the rotating vessel and the debris it sheds.

    Luckily, Tony and Emily don’t find themselves in its direct crash path. They do, however, find themselves covered in remnants of their walls, furniture, and windows. Unrelenting racket terrorizes their eardrums as the fighter careens by and unexpectedly jumps up and over the rest of the building, sparing the bungalow from being entirely cut in half. The earsplitting din originating from the tumbling wreckage ends in a bright flash not more than a hundred yards away. Burning debris of all shapes and sizes strike what is left of their home, pierce through the few upright walls, and flutter in through the damaged roof. The lights have gone out; now, the only light source is the burning rubble left by the destroyed fighter.

    They can’t hide under the couch forever. Emily strains to lift its splintered frame. Holding up the collection of wood and rags they once knew as their couch, she wrinkles her brow at her husband, who makes no effort to get up. Tony is scratched and bruised, muttering things like, “I put on my best uniform for this?” and grumbling mild profanities. Other than that, he believes he’s all right. Nothing’s broken, as far as he can tell.

    Emily throws away what remains of the couch, freeing herself and her husband. Tony carefully sits up to assess the damage while Emily rises to her feet to no doubt do the same. Not an easy task, considering the living room is now as dark as the sky, which has become an unwanted addition to their ceiling. The fact that some pieces of furniture and household items, including broken lamps, are on fire is helpful in an ironic sort of way. Their bungalow has been reduced to one big mess with debris lying everywhere. Everything is charred, shattered, unrecognizable, or simply gone. The roof has come down where the big windows used to be, the ceiling is cut in two, and the kitchen’s on fire.

    “So, what’s your opinion?” Tony asks with a wagonload of sarcasm. “How bad is it?”

    “Oh, it’s not so bad,” Emily replies while trying to walk through the rubble. “Lick of paint here and there.”

    Tony laughs a sad laugh as he stands up and pats the dust off his uniform. He has to wade across a river of broken possessions to get to Emily. Once he has caught up with her, they both share a long and sad look at their living room. Nothing they can possibly say will be much of help. Well, maybe nothing except, “I’m glad you’re okay,” which Tony says as he puts an arm around his wife. Emily responds with one of those smiles that would’ve set the room on fire if it weren’t already.

    They climb through and over the rubble, searching for an exit, not even bothering to check for valuables. Soon enough, they find their way out of the scorched bungalow that was supposed to be their home for many years to come. Instead of the pitter-patter of little feet they hoped to hear one day, they get to listen to hollow clicks of spreading fire.

    The street adjacent to their burning home is relatively quiet. This reasonably secluded neighborhood is by no means a pivotal strategic target. However, there is no indication the Altonoids will cease their attack once they’re done with downtown San Francisco. If they’ve made it this far, there will be no stopping them.

    Noises of panic and bedlam, though several miles away, frighten Tony to the core. The bright nimbus of phaser beams and explosions turns night into day, giving the sky a beautiful but haunting ignited aspect. With every act of destruction, the war front is brought closer to their current whereabouts. There simply isn’t a single area to be found here that can guarantee safety for more than a few minutes, which is unlike anything Tony has ever experienced— despite being a former Q. Nonetheless, he realizes fear is merely a luxury when it comes to dealing with potential planet-wide annihilation.

    Tony turns to his wife. “This is pretty bad,” he says in a tone more reassuring than its implication. He rests his hands on Emily’s shoulders to grab her attention as lovingly as possible when their dreams of a happy future lie burning a stone’s throw away. “I want you to take the first warp-capable spacecraft you can get your hands on, and then get the hell off this planet and out of this solar system without looking back. I’m going—”

    “—to the city to find your father, I know. Let me come along.”

    “I don’t…” Tony finds himself unable to complete the sentence. He bites his lip and tries again. “I don’t want to lose you as well.”

    “That’s very sweet of you,” Emily says, sounding impatient yet gentle, “but I’m a trained security officer. I can help you.”

    “My first priority is to make sure my loved ones are safe, starting with you.” If only he knew how. Just as he’s about to admit to himself that there is no plan, he spots the silhouette of a parked shuttlecraft in the distance. With its back door open, it casts light on the pavement, acting as a homing beacon for the handful of shadowy figures fleeing into the shuttle, helped by another stationary shadow. “Let’s go.” Tony says as he grabs Emily by the hand and runs toward them. Emily doesn’t protest.

    * * *

    When the Altonoids started their devastating attack on Earth, Lieutenant Junior Grade Danielle Forrester had a decision to make: power up weapons and fight back or find a landing spot and gather as many survivors as possible. Without hesitation, she landed her shuttle, opened its hatch, and started guiding people in. After all, she’s a medic, not a fighter pilot.

    Two more survivors run up to her: a man and a woman, both wearing singed dress uniforms. They must be in their early twenties, like Danielle, but judging by the rank insignia, the young man holds the rank of commander. Could it be? Yes, it’s none other than Commander Tony Q—quite a small guy for such a big reputation.

    “Hello, Lieutenant,” he greets her. “Is there room for one more passenger?” His flustered attitude and tendency to cast glances at the burning city behind him indicate he is not coming along for the ride.

    “Yes, there is,” Danielle says, and she addresses the woman by his side in a pleasing tone, showcasing her medical training. “Hop on board.”

    “Are you sure you—” the woman says to Tony. She doesn’t finish the question, because she must already know the answer. “Good luck,” she says instead.

    “I will see you soon, Emily.”

    Emily works up a faltering smile. “Go and get your dad.”

    After kissing goodbye, Tony watches Emily enter the shuttle and keeps staring ahead for a few long seconds, prompting Danielle to say, “There’s still room for you in the shuttle.”

    “I need to get to the city,” Tony replies immediately. “Perhaps I could use the transporter system on the shuttle to g—”

    “I’m afraid not, sir. Since the attack started, usage of communication and transporter systems has become impossible. My guess is the Altonoids have placed a dampening field in our atmosphere. Before all communication was cut off, I heard that every major city on this planet is under attack.”

    Tony presses a palm against his forehead as the news sinks in. Lost in thought, he takes no heed of the distressed people passing him by as they enter the shuttle, hoping to find refuge. His eyebrows contort into a frown as he asks her, “How could the Altonoids invade us like this?”

    With no way to answer the rhetorical question, Danielle lets him rant.

    “It’s like all our security precautions, the shield grid around Earth, and the fleet guarding this solar system are… nonexistent somehow! How come we’re suddenly rendered completely defenseless?” The occasional fighter crash going on in the background provides his sudden monologue with extra poignancy. “We had so many defensive and offensive combat strategies, so many preventive measures, so many well-thought-out worst case scenarios. And now, all that remains is collecting as many survivors as possible and getting off this rock, this death trap!” He takes a deep breath. “All right, so the transporters are down,” he says to himself before talking to Danielle again. “Start prepping the shuttle for launch. I will be coming along. You can drop me off at the edge of the city.”

    “No way, Commander,” Danielle replies with her chin held high. “This is not a combat vessel. Once the shuttle is full, I will get the survivors out of harm’s way at maximum warp.”

    Tony’s perplexed at her reaction. “That was not a suggestion, Lieutenant!”

    Danielle stays perfectly poised and lays down the facts. “Going to the city is suicide. It is swarming with fighters. You will not only endanger your own life, but also that of mine, your girl, and the other survivors.”

    “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

    “I’m sorry, but I am not willing to take that risk.”

    Tony resorts to sarcasm to get the message across. “Look at my collar,” he says. “Three rank pips. Look at your collar. Two rank pips. Hey! Doesn’t that mean something?”

    Danielle remains equally as polite as unyielding. “It means disobeying your rash order might get me court-martialed. Problem is, you probably won’t survive your little trip to the city, so you won’t be able to testify against me, so there won’t be a court martial.”

    “Damn it! Look around you!” Tony shouts as he waves his arms all over the place to point out the surrounding mayhem. “What do you think this is? A bloody cadet review? You can’t disobey a direct order. We’re at war. We’re in the midst of an all-out invasion, for crying out loud!”

    “I know full well we’re in a terrible war,” Danielle shoots back, surprising Tony once again and successfully shutting him up in the process. “I’m sorry if I don’t live up to your standards of what the perfect Starfleet officer should represent, but I really couldn’t care less right now. I’m trying to rescue as many as I can, because that is what I do. If you want to go on your quest to save the day, then by all means, go! But do not risk the few souls who have become my responsibility as soon as they stepped aboard my shuttle. I will stop at nothing to make them survive this cursed day. And in case you want me to face that court martial, I am Lieutenant Danielle Forrester. Maybe you should write that down!”

    Tony has to straighten his back to regain his posture after being subjected to this unexpected barrage of words. “I will remember you,” he says in a subdued voice, “as the officer who saved my wife.”

    Now it’s Danielle’s turn to be surprised. Before she can retort, Tony runs away, back to his house.
     
    CeJay likes this.
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Man, San Fran can't catch a break in the future. First the Dominion and now the Altonoids. Well, looks like its the entire planet that's gone to hell in a hand basket. I wonder where things go from here? Dark days.

    Also, good for Forrester to stand up to a superior officer who clearly isn't thinking straight. That girl has moxie.
     
    Alexbright99 likes this.
  3. Alexbright99

    Alexbright99 Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2018
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Fallen Heroes - chapter 2d

    Tony almost wishes he hadn’t bothered opening the garage door. Even though the out-of-control fighter missed it, the destructive forces of the nearby crash didn’t spare the garage in the slightest. His carefully arranged shelves are a shambles, and its contents—mostly tools and vintage car memorabilia—lie scattered about on a floor that used to be pristine. The lights are out, the walls are smudged black, and floor and ceiling panels have been shaken loose. He has to push a toppled storage rack away in order to see it in all its glory, but there it is: his classic Mercedes-Benz hover car.

    Tony is very proud of this rare vehicle brought forth by a distant era, but his wife thinks it’s “an antiquated piece of cavemen engineering filling up the garage.” She just refuses to understand what it is like to hover around in this prime example of cultural heritage. Even bringing her along on several day trips failed to change her mind. Her loss.

    This silver 2134 Mercedes hover car was the pinnacle of automotive engineering in its heyday, with its speedboat-like design, its beautifully sculpted two-seater cockpit dome, and the rounded contours at the bottom that mask the once revolutionary repulsorlifts. It’s a work of art, really. Granted, its technical condition isn’t perfect yet, but Tony always takes good care of its interior and exterior, making the nearly 250-year-old Mercedes seem factory-fresh.

    Tony polishes off a little stain made by a stray ceiling tile and makes an unlocking gesture at the transparent cockpit dome. The dome separates and both segments slide down into the sides of the hover car. Or at least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. The right half bounces back up with a feeble sound, to Tony’s dismay. “Cursed Altonoids…” he mutters as he hops into the car. The left half closes automatically, sealing him in 22nd-century luxury.

    Red leather and chrome decorate the cockpit of the Mercedes. With a barely contained sigh of sheer pride, Tony grabs the steering wheel, rests his hand on the throttle stick, and revels in the mesmerizing simplicity of their chrome design. At least the interior wasn’t harmed in the attack. A series of displays covers the dashboard from left to right, casting soft, blue light and showing polite welcome messages to the driver and the notably absent passenger.

    Tony switches on the headlamp, which in turn showers the garage with light. Not a particularly pleasant sight, as there isn’t much left of the garage to begin with. A big, illuminated Mercedes star rises up from the hood, fizzles out, and lowers again. After some annoyed growls, Tony decides to try to ignore the damage to his hover car and focus on getting it started instead.

    Starting the engines of this type of Mercedes used to be easy—back in 2134. All you had to do was say “check area” to let the car conduct a few tests to make sure it’s safe to activate its engines, say “initiate repulsorlifts” so the car would lift up about a foot or so, and conclude with “start engines” to start hovering wherever you want to go. It’s the kind of ritual that makes any hover car enthusiast feel warm and fuzzy inside, and Tony is no exception.

    “Check area,” he says. Nothing happens. “Check area!” Still nothing. “Check the bloody… Oh, that’s right.” Impatiently tapping a finger on the steering wheel, he starts over.

    “Cheek gibble.” The dashboard displays indicate the area is secure.

    “Tamper riddlesteak.” The repulsorlifts become active, shining bright blue light at the ground and lifting the car up.

    “Hollow ostrich.” Nothing. “Um…” He rubs his chin in an attempt to jog his memory, before saying with cheerful sarcasm, “Hello, ostrich.” The engines ignite with a furious roar, scattering sparks throughout the dusky garage. Vowing to himself to get the voice interface module replaced at his earliest convenience, he pushes the throttle stick to the max. The car lunges forward and fights its way through the remains of the garage, shoving all rubble aside on its way to freedom. He steers the hover car into the night, forever leaving his war-torn house behind.

    * * *

    It’s as if Tony is driving through a very detailed nightmare. Practically every building is either destroyed or on fire. Man or woman, old or young, indigenous or alien—they roam the streets, drifting from place to place like phantoms in the night. He hears desperate screams coming from all directions, audible in spite of the dome’s considerable insulation. Fire pours down from the skies, and blazing debris keeps striking the ground at random.

    Gathering clouds hide battles being fought several kilometers high. Masses of evaporated water cannot obscure the sounds of spacecraft whooshing by, weapons firing, and the accompanying devastation, nor can they shield Earth and everything on it from impacting phaser beams carving deep marks into its surface.

    Though his hover car is painfully slow by today’s standards—a top speed of a mere 600 kph is laughable at best—Tony is progressing steadily toward San Francisco. Judging by the state of these burning suburbs, the city isn’t going to be a safe place to visit, to put it mildly. Tony is fully aware of the risks involved, but it’s going to take more than that to deter him from protecting his dad.

    The surroundings are getting misty. Green phaser beams hitting the soil like unnaturally straight thunderbolts bathe the region in an unsettling hue. The hover car’s wide headlight shines at an encroaching wall of fog. Even though it’s the last thing he wants to do, Tony is forced to ease back on the throttle. He does not intend to veer from his course, however, navigating from memory, taking every shortcut he recalls. Skillfully, he pilots his Mercedes through abandoned pedestrian zones and parks, avoiding residential areas for fear of becoming trapped.

    His mind wanders to how fast everything went from the mundane to the extraordinary, from the enjoyable to the horror he’s in now. Is his wife safe or has her shuttle been shot down like the many smoldering wreckages he encounters on the road? What will San Francisco be like when—and if—he arrives? Will there be anyone left to save?

    An ear-piercing explosion to his left rocks the hover car, jolting him from his reverie. He passes whatever act of wanton destruction he has witnessed and continues his perilous journey. Pondering the situation won’t do much good anyway; his fraying concentration is better spent on getting to the city in one piece.

    * * *

    “Alert. Alert,” a baritone computer voice says while the dashboard displays a series of warnings. Before Tony can react, his Mercedes initiates an emergency stop. With nauseating deceleration, the hover car comes to a complete halt—and just in time too. If the emergency braking system hadn’t deployed, Tony would’ve fallen at least 40 feet before hitting two semitransparent railway tubes emanating from the tunnel below. Visibility is poor, but he knows where those two railway tubes lead: the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Tony loosens his grip on the steering wheel and leans back in his leather seat. With a couple of quick commands, he deactivates the safety protocols, ending the numerous alerts. He will have to go around somehow, unless he wants to crash-land on top of those railway tubes. Skipping California’s most famous bridge altogether is an option worth considering. His hover car should be able to travel across water. However, given its current suboptimal technical condition, he’d rather not chance it.

    The air is clearing up, making the nearest tower of the Golden Gate Bridge protrude through the fog in all its steel majesty, its distinctive red color turned to dried blood in the mist. The bridge is actually closer than Tony thought at first—it’s less than a mile away.

    Even though much more technologically advanced bridges have been constructed since this landmark was built—about 450 years ago—the Golden Gate Bridge remains impressive to this day. The many evenly spaced lampposts dimmed by the haze give the bridge an eerie appearance. Tony can’t even see the ocean with all that low fog floating around the feet of the bridge, though it can still be heard faintly over the gentle hum of the Mercedes’ idling engines. The Golden Gate Bridge being completely deserted worries Tony a great deal. The bridge itself looks fine, its suspension cables steady. Then why is no one crossing the bridge, leaving the city? Does that mean there are few or no survivors left?

    He peers through the cockpit dome. A blanket of dark clouds looms over the area, which the slowly dissipating mist reveals in more detail with each passing moment. Reflections of warfare draw bright patterns of light in the sky. One of those patterns stands out against the rest. These lights are flickering on and off, and they’re slowly moving toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

    “Oh, not again,” Tony says when he realizes what those descending lights represent. He slams the throttle stick forward and the hover car responds like a bullet fired. It leaps over the ledge, makes a seemingly endless fall, and lands on the railway tubes below in an uncomfortable fashion, shaking Tony about without injuring him. As expected, the rough landing damages the hover car—especially its underside—but the rattled Mercedes is still accelerating toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

    The descending lights close in on the top of the bridge; they’re already giving the surrounding fog an orange glow. Tony tries once more to push the throttle stick past its breaking point. He can use all the speed he can squeeze out of this old machine. His sweaty left palm is locked in a fight with the steering wheel to prevent the hover car from sliding off the bulbous railway tubes. The hover car’s underside keeps scraping the tubes as the repulsorlifts desperately search for something to push off against. Though Tony keeps struggling to keep the car under control, he is far more concerned with the sky—and for good reason.

    Just as Tony reaches the Golden Gate Bridge, a battle-worn Excelsior-class starship breaks through the fog as if sent by the heavens to wreak havoc upon the lands. He instantly recognizes it as the USS Fredrickson, part of Earth’s defense force. The ship tries to maintain altitude, but all it manages to do is stay level as it falls like a brick dropped in a pool, zeroing in on the closest bridge tower. Big chunks of hull are missing, exposing rooms and blackened corridors, and multiple sections of the once graceful ship are on fire. She is dying, plummeting to her final resting place.

    Feeling like an ant about to be crushed by a shoe, Tony doesn’t lose sight of the Fredrickson for a split second. This particular starship is approximately 500 meters in length and over 180 meters in width, considerably wider than the Golden Gate Bridge. Even though the bridge has been rigorously strengthened after its near destruction during the Breen attack in ’75, it’s tinfoil compared to a starship with a total mass of over two million metric tons. Tony awaits the inevitable impact while clutching the throttle so hard it hurts.

    Suddenly, the hover car jumps twenty feet into the air and gets tossed back onto the railway tubes with such immense force that the bottom of the car leaves an impressive set of sparks behind. This can mean only one thing: the Fredrickson has collided with the bridge tower, right above his head! He is speeding away from the crashing starship, which is easier said than done when dealing with a Starfleet vessel half a kilometer long. When Tony looks up, he is treated with the breathtaking spectacle of a crumbling starship toppling the tower, deforming it as if it were made of clay. And that sound! It’s as if two incredibly powerful, metallic monsters are caught in an epic fight to the death. It’s the most frightening and humbling sound he has ever heard, bar none. But the ear-deafening screams of tritanium against steel are the least of his worries.

    The railway tubes start to bend upward as the unyielding Fredrickson and the collapsing bridge tower entangle the suspension cables and pull them along. The entire bridge quakes, convulsing like a massive beast in its death throes, while the hover car smashes through burning debris that’s raining down from the inferno above him. One by one, suspension cables snap and lash out at Tony, who is busy enough keeping the car on the tubes and evading falling lampposts.

    With the railway tubes curling skyward, the Mercedes gradually loses speed. The railway’s increasingly steep grade also sends all debris rolling in Tony’s direction, making it an almost impossible feat to stay on the tubes. Swerving left and right, he does his best to evade scores of unidentifiable ship and bridge components—some small and nothing more than an inconvenience, others big enough to flatten him in an instant.

    Tony’s hover car makes another leap into the air as the starship behind him strikes the bridge deck. This is a good thing, as it turns out, because Tony was just wondering how to circumvent a big lump of burning hull plating blocking his path. Now he just sails over it. To his dismay, however, he finds out in midair that the entire bridge deck continues moving away from him, toward the water. The Fredrickson’s abundant weight must be pushing the entire bridge down, upgrading the hover car’s jump to a long drop as it nosedives toward the railway tubes. The bridge deck hits the giant wall of water and sends huge waves spraying in all directions, which slows the falling bridge down considerably, ensuring Tony’s free fall will end soon. The part of the bridge where Tony is headed for is still bent up and hasn’t sunk… yet.

    All he can do is brace himself, teeth clenched, until the Mercedes crashes into the bent railway tubes. When it does, everything goes dark as the headlight is smashed and the interior displays sign off with their last error messages. Though the magnetic seatbelts absorb most of the impact, all air is shoved out of Tony’s lungs and he nearly loses consciousness. The car flips on its roof, giving him a clear view—albeit upside down—of the unidentifiable wreckage of the Fredrickson resting on the crushed bridge tower and a portion of the Marin Headlands.

    Collapsed beneath the defeated starship, the bridge deck is still sinking. To make matters worse, the Mercedes starts sliding down the railway tubes, and there’s nothing Tony can do about it. Flames the size of houses shoot from the Fredrickson, lighting the entire area, while the merciless ocean swallows the ship’s engineering section and crooked warp engines along with mutilated remnants of the northern half of the Golden Gate Bridge—a mighty scene to behold.

    There are few things worse than sliding down a sinking bridge upside down in an old hover car. For instance, doing so in an old hover car with a transparent roof! Bending metal, exploding debris, and thunderous waves create a deafening orchestra of destruction, yet the damaged roof scratching those railway tubes is the worst sound by far. A growing web of fractures spreads in the dome’s surface, weakening its structure with every offshoot. Although its safety glass won’t hurt Tony if shattered, it is his only protection from the outside world.

    Tony is nothing but a hapless passenger as the car slides down, hitting the occasional lamppost or chunk of molten metal while the roof sustains more and more damage, losing its ability to shield him. He has lost all sense of direction. His entire body aches. Panic is taking over. The ocean roars ahead, ready to devour him.

    As soon as the upside-down hover car hits the black waves, water rushes in via the broken dome. Reflexively, Tony extends his arms in a fruitless attempt to stop gallons of water from flowing in. It is amazing and frightening at once how rapidly the cockpit fills up, how quickly a comfortable vehicle can become a deadly trap. The shock of being submerged in ice-cold water prevents him from collecting one last breath, and he starts thrashing about, frantically searching for a way out.

    He briefly manages to lift his head out of the water before slipping and going back under. Desperate for oxygen, he moves into the same direction and lifts his head clear again. Could he have broken free somehow? He inhales as deeply as his tightened chest allows, opens his eyes, and claws at the red leather above him. The driver’s seat… He is trapped, water rising above his chin, air seeping away through the hover car’s battered underbody. Tony takes one final breath before the sea claims the last pocket of air.

    Darkness envelops the cockpit. The Golden Gate Bridge has disappeared. The Fredrickson has disappeared. The whole world has disappeared. There is nothing left to see, no air left to breathe, no warmth left in this freezing water.

    Tony has never felt this alone in his entire life while his cold cage drags him to the bottom of the sea.
     
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  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Blatant product placement aside, this was an intense chapter of dread and destruction. Looks like Tony didn't get very far in his quest to save the Earth. What's next?
     
  5. Alexbright99

    Alexbright99 Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2018
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    He is saved by Spock in an Audi hover car. No, that's not what happens. But now that I think of it, that would've been awesome!
     
  6. Alexbright99

    Alexbright99 Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2018
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Fallen Heroes - chapter 3d

    How long can I hold my breath?


    Is there any point?

    Tony Q forces himself to open his eyes. As a result, ice-cold seawater pricks them like small needles. There is not much to see anyway; everything is pitch black. His antique Mercedes hover car is upside down and sinking, dragging him to a watery grave.

    How long have I been under?

    Weightless and numb, his body craves oxygen, but there is none to be found. He might as well take a giant breath of water. Not doing so is merely postponing the inevitable. He experiences the distressing sensation of being compelled to thrash one’s limbs about in a desperate bid for air. It takes a gargantuan effort, but he controls that reflex and remains silent and tranquil, staring into the yellow light that spreads through tons of water and floods the car’s interior with brightness. It’s a beautiful sight, though he doesn’t fully understand what it—

    A massive shockwave smashes the hover car backward and sends it reeling. Centrifugal forces toss Tony against the broken cockpit dome, giving him no choice but to go along for the ride.

    When the Mercedes finally stops tumbling, Tony sinks back into what must be the driver’s seat. He has lost all sense of direction—a spin in the world’s most unpleasant washing machine will do that to you. It isn’t completely dark anymore, but there’s no way of telling what’s going on beyond the fissured dome, especially because Tony is finding it harder and harder to retain coherent thought. He managed to hold his breath when the shockwave hit, but he has been under water for at least a minute now. The pressure on his lungs is rising to intolerable levels, as if begging him to make room for fresh air. There isn’t any. It’s all in vain; he’s going to drown. He shuts his eyes as his mind grows dimmer by degrees, as if someone is switching off the lights one by one in a long hallway.

    It will all be over soon—the constant pain, the second-guessing, being trapped in this feeble human form on an insignificant planet ravaged by war. It will all be gone if I’d only give in.

    Tony feels lighter somehow. Could that be one of the final stages of suffocation? He opens his eyes for a final glimpse at the world through the blur of stinging water. To his astonishment, he sees burning rubble and gray mist outside. His hover car has resurfaced! Yet, no matter how close he is to salvation, he is still trapped inside the water-filled cockpit.

    Time has run out. He exhales explosively, sending a swarm of bubbles to the top of the dome, and grabs his mouth and nose with all his might to prevent himself from inhaling water. His lungs fight for breath with such increasing force that he ends up convulsing violently. After an intense, hopeless struggle, he releases his mouth and nose, reaches up, inhales deeply… and fills his lungs with fresh air.

    While brawling with the Grim Reaper, he must have fought his head and upper body out of the broken cockpit, and now he’s sticking out of the hover car with his arms held high, relishing the fact that he didn’t drown, and looking pretty silly in the process.

    Tony rests his arms on the cracked dome to keep from sliding back into the cockpit that nearly killed him, and he takes deep breath after breath, savoring every oxygen molecule. Walls of fog stretch out in each direction, making it impossible for him to discern anything other than distant specks of light, floating debris, and the poor excuse for a boat he’s in.

    “I’m alive!” he shouts suddenly and much to his own surprise. Every cubic inch of his body aches and blood merges with seawater on the transparent cockpit dome, but he couldn’t care less. The good fortune of having survived this ordeal quells his worries. Sure, he’s half-stuck in an oversized fishbowl, sailing straight for Japan for all he knows, but he’s alive!

    The hover car glides up and down the waves, and Tony actually enjoys the first twenty-five times it does this (near-asphyxiation does strange things to the mind), but inevitably, he grows tired of it as exhaustion sets in. Listening to the roily sea and the faraway thunder of warfare, only now does he notice a barely audible hum. When he tracks the sound and follows his blood trickling to the undercarriage of his totaled vehicle, he spots a faint blue light illuminating the water.

    “Thank you, Mercedes,” he says upon realizing what the blue light represents. A section of the repulsorlifts has reinitiated in emergency mode. That’s what made his Mercedes resurface after being turned the right way up by that shockwave, that strange yellow light… The Fredrickson! Its wreckage, resting on seabed and shoreline, must have exploded. It saved his life.

    A humorless grin appears on Tony’s face as the hover car keeps floating through the mist. “Thank you, Fredrickson.”

    * * *

    Commander Tony “Q” Blue understands why the USS Kennedy is one of Starfleet’s finest starships. Its crew keeps this Sovereign-class vessel in pristine condition. The carpet he is walking on appears untouched by mere mortals, the corridor is so brightly lit that he suspects somebody has nudged up the lighting a few levels, and the LCARS displays on the bulkheads have been furbished to such an extent that they act as slightly distorted mirrors.

    Subordinates who happen to pass by salute him by stating his rank, further cementing his status as local hotshot. The young commander replies with a charming smirk and continues his journey to the end of this corridor. The instant he enters the turbolift he finds there, he arrives at his destination: the Kennedy’s bridge, brand new and shinier than ever.

    For reasons he can’t quite fathom, he hesitates to enter and observes the bridge and its crew from the turbolift instead. Tony’s old friends from the Kennedy are here, and they drop what they’re doing to meet his gaze with broad smiles. Captain Mathieu Duvivier rises to his feet, and one by one, everyone who wasn’t standing already follows suit: First Officer Jansen, Doctor Van Oers, Lieutenants Malin and Muntenaar, Chief Engineer Soeteman, and even the Vulcan science officer Sivar. Lieutenant Appels and Ensign Parkin greet Tony from their tactical stations.

    He had almost forgotten how much he cared about these people. Seeing their kind faces in this familiar setting feels like coming home from an arduous journey.

    Captain Duvivier gives him a respectful nod. “Welcome back, Tony Q.”

    Before Tony can reply, the captain starts a round of applause. Everyone joins in, and Tony finally steps onto the bridge to be surrounded by his friends.

    “She sure was a fine ship, wasn’t she?” Captain Duvivier says, brimming with pride.

    “Not as good as her crew,” Tony says, intensifying his friends’ smiles. They are nothing but nice to him, and yet an eerie sensation crawls from the recesses of his mind to no longer be ignored. Something is very wrong.

    Despite his desire to cling to the illusion, the events of June 26, 2380, are ingrained in his memory. That day, the USS Kennedy was lost with all hands during the Station A-12 Debacle. Captain Duvivier and Commander Jansen were held captive on board the station and never made it out. Of the dozens of armed security squads that were sent to free the hostages, only two people survived: Tony and Emily. The rest of Tony’s team, led by Lieutenant Appels and Dr. Van Oers, perished in the corridors of Station A-12.

    These exemplary men and women, his friends, this ship—they’re all gone; they have been for almost two years. But here he is, on the bridge of the ill-fated Kennedy, encircled by the dead. A paralyzing coldness creeps up from Tony’s soles to his spine, and the once overly bright illumination dims gradually. Within seconds, the cruel temperature shift brings him to his knees.

    “It’s so cold. So cold,” Tony says. His friends don’t respond to him anymore. They keep smiling those loving smiles while everything dissolves. Invisible claws seize his hips, inciting crippling surges of pain. He reaches out for the shadowy figures around him, begs for their help, but they fade into darkness to be replaced by equally dark clouds spewing green thunderbolts.

    The hover car beneath Tony shocks and shudders as if a giant hand is lifting it out of the sea. He awakens completely from his upsetting dream and finds himself reintroduced to harsh reality. Peering through the night sky, he notices the Mercedes has stopped moving as well as floating. It has hit the shore.

    Protruding fragments of the broken cockpit dome have pierced Tony’s hips, keeping his lower body trapped and his legs submerged in ice-cold water, which is slowly seeping away. If he were to make a wild guess, he would say his unintended sailing trip has taken at least half an hour—long enough for his legs to go numb while the rest of his body aches up a storm.

    Tony tries to wrestle himself out of the shattered cockpit dome, causing its jagged edges to cut deeper into his skin. With the last vestiges of his strength, he frees himself from the Mercedes and slides down its frigid glass and metal face-first to make a soft landing in the sand. Where is he anyway? This beach has no discerning landmarks. If he is to find his father, he must determine where his hover car has taken him. Lacking the energy and will to get going, he lies there for a prolonged moment of inaction, listening to the gentle roll of the tide inviting him to drift off to sleep.

    A surge of adrenaline snaps him back into the real world. Ahead, the ruins of San Francisco burn, under attack by Altonoid fighters circling the hills like vultures. That solves the mystery then; his little odyssey, adrift in his Mercedes, has brought him closer to his destination.

    The last time he saw the city—right before he jumped into his hover car and took off without a plan—it was already in a demolished state, but that was nothing compared to this. Most buildings have collapsed, fire and smoke arises for as far as the eye can see, and downed fighters and assorted space vehicles litter the area. A wrecked Galaxy-class starship has crushed entire neighborhoods. It rests aflame on the remains of houses and toppled skyscrapers, incinerating everything in its vicinity.

    Packs of fighters search the streets and let loose barrages of phaser strikes. The sheer volume of explosions seems to be dwindling, however, probably because most of the invaders’ work is done. The only signs of ground activity are numerous beams of light piercing the all-encompassing haze in frantic disarray. Whether those beams originate from flashlights of survivors or those of Altonoid ground troops is anyone’s guess.

    He is still lying prone in the sand. “All right, Tony. This is it. This is what you’ll have to do. Your father might be alive, and if he is… he needs your help.” When he raises his head, he sees nothing but utter despair enveloping the destroyed city as the Altonoids finish this attack with brutal efficiency. “It’s hopeless… There’s no point.” Another wave of fatigue hits him and he realizes he still cannot feel his legs. “I’m badly injured. My father is dead. Earth is lost… I should give up.”

    He tightens his fists. “Yeah… I really should give up.” He begins crawling his way up the beach, away from his stranded hover car and into the doomed city.
     
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  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Olympus Earth Has Fallen.

    Whatever happens next, things are likely never going to be the same again for the Federation, perhaps the entire galaxy.