Star Trek: Four Years War-The Battle of Aldebaran III

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    USS Ceres

    “The power readings are off the charts,” Lt. Nimri informed the captain. But Stone didn’t need to hear it from the Science Officer. He could see it with his own eyes. A glow formed around the Sirius, taking his breath away.

    Stone shared a troubled look with Lt. Commander Lockhart. Everyone else was mystified.

    “What’s going on with Sirius?” Lt. Zapata asked.

    “It’s some kind of weapon,” Nimri answered. “It’s emanating from their phaser emitters.” The Klingon ships, led by a D5 battle cruiser, charged toward Sirius. Surely their sensors had to be detecting the same thing, yet they were undeterred.

    “Klingon ship is firing, on Sirius,” the woman quickly added. Captain Stone sat up in his seat, a lump in his throat.

    “Sirius is returning fire!” the Science Officer gasped. A powerful golden beam ripped from Sirius’s main and secondary phaser banks. It vaporized the D5. The bridge crew was stunned into silence.

    The beam caught several of the Klingon ships, mostly Raptors before they could break away, destroying them as well.

    “My God,” Lt. Glover muttered, bringing them all back down to Earth. Stone couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Neither could the rest of the taskforce or the Klingons for that matter. Neither side made a move. The Klingons even moved back, perhaps the first Klingon advance that had been halted since the war.

    “Sirius is hailing the Klingons,” Glover replied.

    “On screen,” Stone ordered.

    Fleet Captain Marcus had a predatory look about him. “Klingon vessels, if you do not vacate Federation space this instant you will be destroyed.” There were eight Klingon ships left, against their five, though Stone wasn’t sure how well Horatius could hold up in a fight. However if the ship could pack a punch like Sirius just did stamina wasn’t going to be much of a problem before the Klingons were completely wiped out.

    “Klingons are responding,” Glover said. Stone nodded at the man.

    The image shifted to a smooth paned, short-haired, bearded Klingon with dead, sunken eyes. “I am General Lurgan, son of Lothur, and I would rather die than run from the likes of you.” His voice was cold, his expression determined.

    “So be it,” Marcus replied with a cavalier shrug, after the image had shifted back to him. “Taskforce, attack on my command.” He paused and looked off screen.

    “Reading massive power fluctuations in Sirius’s power banks,” Nimri alerted them.

    “What?” Lockhart asked.

    “Feedback loop, overcharging the phaser banks,” Nimri didn’t hide her fear. “The ship is going to explode!”

    “Beam them out of there, as many as you can!” Stone barked.

    “Sir…it’s too late,” Nimri cried. The words had barely escaped her lips before the ship’s hull caved in in an implosion and then blew apart. The remnants hit Ceres, overtaxing its shields and impacting its structural integrity field.

    “Damage report,” Stone ordered, his fingers dug into his armrests for purchase.

    “Minimal damage,” a relieved Nimri said.

    “But what about the Sirius?” Commander Lockhart asked.

    Nimri’s voice was flat; the emotion buried deep, “Lost, with all hands.”
    ****************************************************************

    IKS K’Vagh

    General Lurgan couldn’t believe his god fortune. “Kahless,” he muttered in thanks to the great founder of the Empire. He glanced around his bridge. Many of his officers were groggy, some climbing back into their seats. The debris from the Starfleet vessel had hit them hard, but K’Vagh was still in one piece. He quickly got the lay of the land from a bleeding Julok.

    The ship’s forward shields had taken the brunt of the explosion and damage was limited. That was all the news Lurgan needed to hear.

    “Tell the rest of the strike fleet to attack now!” He bellowed.
    *****************************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  2. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    USS Ceres

    “Evasive maneuvers,” Captain Stone called. The ship dipped below a fusillade of disruptor beams, though connecting with a nacelle, rattling the ship.

    “One nacelle severely damaged,” Lt. Nimri said.

    “Casualties?” Stone asked.

    “Uncertain,” the Science Officer responded.

    “Send medical staff there,” the captain ordered.

    “We’re getting an audio from Captain M’Giia,” Lt. Glover said. “He’s taking command of the taskforce and instructing us to hold ground and fight the Klingons.”

    “Like we needed him to tell us that,” Lt. Zapata let out.

    “Not the time Lieutenant,” Commander Lockhart knocked the woman.

    “Return fire,” Stone said, “Aim at the nearest vessel, for their weapons and propulsions. Let’s take out as many of these Klingons out of the fight as quickly as possible.”

    “Aye sir,” Lt. Zapata said, now all business. Phaser beams struck out, hitting one Raptor which such force that the smaller ship started to spin.

    “Weapons and propulsion deactivated,” Zapata said, with vindication.

    “Move on to the next,” Stone said. Zapata took the ship past the hapless Raptor. The captain looked at the battlefield. The taskforce was locked into a death struggle with the remaining Klingon warships.

    He didn’t have much time to appraise the war zone because two Raptors tore toward him, blasting at the Ceres.

    “Brace for impact,” Stone said, digging himself into his chair and preparing himself for a long battle.
    ******************************************************************

    IKS QprahS

    “No!” Captain Knos roared, “I won’t,” he pounded his armrests. “I can’t leave the field of battle!”

    “It’s a direct order sir,” the Communications Officer said, “From General Lurgan.” Julok chuckled, drawing Knos’s ire. He saw Lureth seething at the Science Officer as well. He stalked over to the science station and yanked the suddenly gulping Klingon from his seat. Inches away from Julok, Knos asked,

    “Is it still funny?”

    Julok shook his head. Knos pulled his blade. He glanced at Lureth. The woman’s eyes were glittering. She wanted to plunge the knife into the son of Duras even more than he did. He exhaled and shoved the younger officer against his terminal. Perhaps he would let her get her chance.

    Commander Rornan was leading the ship while Knos raged.

    “Tell him no,”

    “We’re to head to Aldebaran III to complete the mission,” Lt. Karlassa added.

    “The tohzah!” Knos cursed. He planted his blade into the terminal, just missing one of Julok’s fingers. “Do as he says,” Knos said, “Lay in a course to Aldebaran III.”
    *****************************************************************

    Author's Note:
    -Karlassa's name comes from Klingon Name Generator.
     
  3. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Okay, didn't expect that. Sirius' showcase of the super-phasers was effective and devastating. Unfortunately it was also very brief and completely disastrous.

    This seems to change things. With the Klingon fleet decimated Starfleet may have a chance to best them in combat now, at least here. It seems the Klingons are still determined to get their hands on those weapon specs even if they appear to have been a complete failure. I wonder what all this means for the long term implications now that Starfleet seems to have lost their only ace in this one-sided war.
     
  4. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    Thanks for reading. I don't think the Klingons are completely decimated but the playing field is more even.

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

    USS Horatius

    Commander Donald Cartwright couldn’t stop blinking. His sight had long since returned to normal, the bright flash now residing more in his memory. But yet he couldn’t stop. Nor could he stop thinking about Sirius, and Captain Marcus, and most of his crew…gone.

    “My God!” gasped Lt. Yeung, who was serving as Cartwright’s first officer.

    “Sarah,” groaned Lt. Abumohor at the engineering station. It was her roommate, Lt. Jallow, who had just been lost with all hands aboard.

    From the science console Lt. Udoka gently prodded, “Sir, what do we do now? The Klingons are advancing.” Sirius had already dissolved into atoms and through its wake poured Klingon warships.

    “Do we utilize the super phasers?” Yeung asked.

    Cartwright shook his head. “No,” he after a moment. “It’s too risky.”

    “But sir we have only minimal weapons,” Yeung replied. “Our shields are strong, but there’s not much we can bring to this fight without using the super phasers.”

    “You saw what just happened,” Abumohor interjected. “The commander is right.” Cartwright frowned at the woman. He didn’t need anyone endorsing his decisions. He was in command now, of what remained of the Sirius crew, and he expected his orders to be followed as if Fleet Captain Marcus gave them.

    “Evasive maneuvers,” Cartwright barked, “We’re not leaving this fight, even if we’re fighting with one hand behind our backs.”
    ****************************************************************

    USS Ceres

    “I don’t agree with this,” Stone rarely let his displeasure be known in front of his crew. He glared at Captain M’Giia. “The fight is here.”

    The venerable Andorian held his gaze. “We can handle the Klingons….due to the sacrifice of the Sirius.” That cooled Stone’s blood a bit. “But we can’t allow that Klingon warship to reach Aldebaran III. I don’t know what they are up to, but it can’t be to our benefit.”

    “But sir,” Stone didn’t back down.

    “We can’t leave Aldebaran III completely defenseless,” M’Giia interrupted. “I’ve given an order and I intend for you to carry it out.”

    Stone shifted his jaw. “Aye sir,” he said tightly. M’Giia ended the communication. Stone reined in his emotions before he coldly ordered.

    “Alter course, pursue that Klingon vessel.”
    ****************************************************************
     
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    IKS K’Vagh

    General Lurgan was surprised he felt a pang of regret. In sending QprahS away, he was denying Lureth her rightful glory, but he also knew that the High Council would reward her and her crew more handsomely for securing the Blade of the Bat’leth.

    He reviewed the field of battle. The destruction of the Federation warship had wiped out almost half of the strike fleet. The other Starfleet vessels were surprisingly doing a good job of completing the job. The battle cruisers left were Gho’be’ and Qugh’tung, along with three Raptors. The TajHu hadn’t returned from stalking the Portsmith. Facing them were four Starfleet warships. The Starfleeters had been far more fierce fighters than he had imagined. Victory was not a foregone conclusion. That thought made him grin.

    The Andorian warship just sailed through the dust of the Nay’par. Unbidden Lurgan thought of the fiery, imperious Commander Jagoh. He had been a rising star in the Empire. One day he might even have made it to the High Council. Now his flame was forever extinguished.

    Now the Andorians had turned their sights on the Gho’be’. Captain Maglus rushed to meet them.

    Lurgan debated whether to assist Maglus or turn elsewhere to see if there was a greater needed. Maglus wasn’t as headstrong as Jagoh had been and would prove a craftier foe for the Andorians.

    However he wouldn’t allow Maglus the singular honor of destroying the most powerful Federation starship. Lurgan knew that honor belonged to K’Vagh, and to him. He directed his helm officer toward the Andorian warship. Bringing back the broken hull of the Andorian ship, in honor of Jagoh’s worthy death, would win him plaudits and maybe even an alliance with the powerful House Seplch.

    “Gut that Andorian ship!” He bellowed. “Once it falls the rest will be easy pickings.”
    ******************************************************************

    USS Shi Shen

    Captain Baumgartner barked, “Continuous stream of fire.” Lt. Lacoste let loose a fan of energy, striking the three Raptors that were after them.

    “Direct hits on two of them,” Commander Taggart said.

    “But no significant damage,” Baumgartner frowned. The little ships were fast and tough. If it hadn’t been for the Sirius’s implosion the odds would be even less in their favor. “Keep after them.”
    ****************************************************************

    USS Rushmore

    Concussive blows rattled the deck. The ship had been hit with such force that it had turned sideways, throwing some of the bridge crew from their stations. Captain Aggarwal dug his hands into his armrests and planted his boots on the deck for purchase. Still he felt the pull of gravity trying to wrench him from the seat.

    Around him he jumped and squinted as consoles sparked and smoke began filling the bridge. Through the klaxons he heard a cacophony of shouting, some informing him of the ship’s status intermingling with groans and screams of pain.

    “What’s happening?” He snapped, trying to bat the smoke from his eyes. “Status report!” He barked.

    “It’s bad sir!” Yeoman O’Keefe said. The young woman had assumed control of the helm. Through the smoke Aggarwal couldn’t see what happened to Lt. Howard. With dread curling his stomach, he had a strong suspicion. And it might happen to the rest of them if he couldn’t get them out of here.

    “We’ve lost shields and warp power,” O’Keefe said.

    “What about weapons?” Aggarwal asked, trying to look around the bridge, searching for his first officer. But he couldn’t see Commander Silva. He worried about her too.

    “Weapons?” He asked.

    “Our systems are damaged. We have phasers, and that’s it,” O’Keefe replied.

    “Find the Klingons that are attacking us and use them then,” he ordered.

    “Aye sir,” O’Keefe quickly said, smothering a cough as the smoke got into her mouth.

    His eyes tearing, Aggarwal walked up behind her and placed what he hoped was a calming hand on her shoulder. The captain ignored the still form of Lt Howard by the base of the console. O’Keefe perked up. She fired.

    Through his tears Aggarwal looked at the screen. He barely saw the shafts of light leaving the Rushmore, though he felt their wake through the deck.

    “Direct hits!” Lt. Achike, still manning the adjoining navigation console, pumped his fist. He stared down at his screen. Together he and O’Keefe had taken over most of the functions of the ship.

    He was very proud of the young officers. No one had told them to do it; they saw the need and took the initiative. And their actions might just save the ship.

    “What damage did we do to them?” Aggarwal looked down, over Achike’s shoulder. Emeka looked up at him, a crestfallen look on his face.

    “Not nearly enough sir,” the man said quietly. Aggarwal looked back up at the screen. The Klingon ship bore down on them. He squeezed the shoulders of both young officers. He wished he could say something profound, something that made their sacrifice worth it, but in the end there were no words. There was simply nothing.
    ******************************************************************

    Author's Note:
    -The Klingon ships: Gho'be', Nay'par, Qugh'tung, and TajHu came from the Star Trek: Legacy video game.
     
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Orbital Office Complex

    Technician Michal Froman went against the tide. He pushed against the surging throng moving toward the transports. He smothered his frustration and cleaved through the chaotic mass. It took him much longer to make it to his compartment.

    Once inside the darkened room he leaned against the door and exhaled. “Don’t turn on the light,” the darkness spoke to him. Michal tensed immediately. It wasn’t his roommate’s voice. Tunney was planetside, preparing to leave the system with his girlfriend.

    “Who are you?” Michal asked, his voice squeaking. He searched the shadows, until his vision resolved around a petite figure. A Vulcan woman stepped into the light.

    Michal was dumbfounded. He had seen her before, though he didn’t know her name. He did know she worked in Administrator Darden’s office.

    Though he didn’t know what she was doing in his compartment, from the phaser in her hand he could figure that her purpose wasn’t benign.

    “What do you want?” He asked, his voice cracking.

    The Vulcan’s smile was unsettling. “You can dispense with the subterfuge,” she said. “I know exactly who you are, Agent Maal.”
    ******************************************************************

    USS Ceres

    “Stay after them,” Captain Stone pressed. He wanted to get within range to take out the Klingon battle cruiser’s propulsion systems. Then he would dispatch their weapons. Leaving them dead in space he could return to the battle.

    “Doing my best sir,” Lt. Zapata said through clenched teeth.

    “Do better,” Lt. Commander Lockhart snapped. Ceres was gaining but still not close enough. If the Klingon ship went to warp they wouldn’t have a chance. It was almost as if the Klingons were toying with them, giving them a glimmer of hope before they snatched it completely out of reach.

    “How much longer?” Stone asked. “How much closer?”

    “Twenty seconds sir,” Zapata didn’t hide her annoyance. Stone smiled. Dania wasn’t ruffled. He knew she was peeved by his prodding, but angry at the Klingons and she was going to take out her frustration on them.

    Stone nodded and settled in for the longest twenty seconds of his life.
    ******************************************************************

    IKS QprahS

    “We should go to warp sir,” Commander Rornan gave the obligatory suggestion.

    Captain Knos sat back in his seat and merely smiled. No one, including a general, was going to deny him battle. He owed it to his crew; he owed it to his House. “We well reach Aldebaran III,” he promised, “After.”
    *****************************************************************
     
  7. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    USS Horatius

    “Throw everything we have at them!” Commander Cartwright said as the Horatius lunged toward the two Klingon warships attacking Atlirith. The Andorian warship was tough, and was withstanding the onslaught but Lt. Udoka reported that the shields of the Chaka-class ship were starting to buckle.

    “Not everything,” grumbled Lt. Carew, at flight control. Cartwright ignored the tempestuous young man. The commander didn’t want to risk wiping out them out or the rest of the taskforce. It was too risky, but if push came to shove, he resolved to activate the weapon.

    “Fire at will,” Cartwright ordered Carew.

    “Aye sir,” the man hadn’t removed the frustration from his voice. Cartwright understood the man’s frustration, his anger, his terror, but he didn’t have the luxury of giving into it.

    “Let’s give them something else to hit,” Lt. Yeung replied evenly. Cartwright knew that Andrew sided with Lt. Carew, but like a good first officer he supported his commanding officer.

    Cartwright’s breath caught in his throat as phaser beams lobbed from the Horatius, pelting the shields of the D5 and D4 battle cruisers.

    “Minimal effect,” Lt. Udoka said, not hiding her disappointment, “The Klingons are not breaking off their attack.”

    A javelin of red energy from the D5 punctured the Atlirith’s hull. “The Atlirith’s shields have folded,” Udoka’s expression was grave. Cartwright knew it was only a matter of time now for Captain M’Giia, unless he did something.

    “Focus our fire on the D5,” Cartwright said, “With more concentrated bursts it should increase our impact.”

    “Aye sir,” Carew said, not hiding his skepticism. “No effect,” the young man seemed glad to announce.

    A series of explosions ran along the Atlirith’s primary hull. “Multiple hull breaches, warp propulsion and structural integrity are failing,” Udoka said.

    “Damn,” Yeung looked to Cartwright. “We’ve got to give them a fighting chance sir.”

    “That we do Lieutenant,” the commander replied. “Mr. Carew, prepare for ramming speed.”
    *****************************************************************

    Orbital Office Complex

    “Agent Who, what are you talking about?” Froman placed himself against his door, trying to put as much distance between himself and the emitter of the phaser as possible.

    The Vulcan smiled, tilting her head. She was looking at him like he was some kind of oddity. “Fascinating,” she said, “If I didn’t know better your assimilation of human behavior would deceive me. The BetleH’etlh program is more advanced than I realized.”

    Michal winced at the harsh sounding, alien word. “What are you talking about? Who are you?” He had seen her working in Darden’s office, but the way she handled the phaser she was more than an administrative assistant.

    “T’Preea is a good enough name,” She said, “Not my real one of course. Same as you. I look forward to learning your real name. And Starfleet Intelligence looks forward to learning everything about you, how you were made, what damage you’ve caused thus far…even if we have to slice you apart.”

    “My God,” Froman gulped as he inched along the door, debating whether he should lunge for the release to escape. He didn’t think he would be fast enough before the Vulcan shot him.

    “Don’t you mean Kahless?” T’Preea asked, consternation wreathing her features. “He is the chief divinity of your religion isn’t he?”

    “Listen, ‘T’Preea’,” Froman pleaded. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

    “You are trying my patience Agent Maal,” T’Preea frowned, moving closer to him. His gaze fell to the finger tightening on the trigger of the phaser. “You might as well come clean. It will make the interrogations to come much easier.”

    “Please, listen to me!” Michal didn’t realize he was shouting at first. “You have the wrong person!”

    “Really?” T’Preea produced something from a pocket. She held it up to Michal. Involuntarily he flinched before he realized it wasn’t some kind of weapon. It was a green cylinder, one end of which was blinking a garish red.

    “What’s that?”

    “A Klingon beacon, your beacon,” T’Preea said. “I traced it here. I guess you got arrogant, thinking that everyone would be rushing to leave the station, giving you the perfect chance to plot your escape.”

    “I’ve never seen that thing before in my life!” He shrank from it as if were venomous.

    “Is that so, then why was it in your room? And why are you coming back to your room instead of leaving like so many others?”

    “Because, because,” Froman looked down, his cheeks flushing. He felt guilty, but he didn’t know why. “I-I wanted to be here, when ah, she returned.”

    “Who?” T’Preea asked, clearly not believing him.

    “Lt. Oh, okay, from the Shi Shen,” Froman answered. “It’s, ah, been a long time, since anyone was in my life, and I-I didn’t want to abandon her. I wanted to be here for her, as best I could.”

    “Touching,” T’Preea pressed the still blinking beacon to her lips. “Perhaps we’ll bring her in for questioning too, granted that is if she survives.”

    “How can you say such a thing?” Froman temporarily forgot the woman’s phaser. He stepped to her. And stopped just as suddenly as the woman pointed the tip of the phaser at his nose.

    He froze. “Enough deception for one day. I promise you Starfleet Intelligence has more persuasive ways to make you talk,” she declared.

    “No!” Michal lunged for the door release. The sudden movement shocked her. The door opened and the technician threw himself backward and right into an energy beam that punched a hole through his midsection. He died before hitting the ground.
    ******************************************************************

    Orbital Office Complex

    Still frozen, T’Preea barely registered what had happened. In the doorway stood another human. This one with a knowing smile on his face. And a familiar one too.

    Before her wits returned, he shot her, the blast hitting her side and spinning her around. Both her phaser and the beacon flew through the air. T’Preea fell to the ground, clutching her scorched side, doing her best to recall her mental disciplines to rein in the pain. They clashed with her confusion and her shock.

    A rough hand grabbed her shoulder and turned her over. She buried her pain. A knee pressed down into her chest. Above her grinned the engineer, Lionel Scudder.

    “You found my beacon,” he smiled, “Just like I hoped.”

    T’Preea fought through the agony at her side, now added to by the pressure placed upon her chest. “You-you?” She asked, her voice muffled with pain.

    He leaned down, at her left ear. “Agent Maal,” he hissed.

    “B-but,” She pointed at the smoldering corpse of the technician.

    “What do the humans call them?” Scudder paused, “A fall guy.”

    “You!” Her rage pushed back her pain. With surprising force she twisted, throwing Scudder off her. He landed easily on his feet, his weapon trained at her.

    It was no use. The move was all that she had left. T’Preea sank back to the ground. “I knew Starfleet Intelligence was on to me, I just needed to ferret out who the agent was exactly to eliminate them,” Scudder said, “And Froman was an acceptable dupe. His closeness to one of the members of the taskforce made him even more of worthy suspect.”

    “Y-you won’t…get away,” T’Preea wheezed, the pain robbing her breath.

    “I already have,” Scudder walked over to her and aimed the weapon. T’Preea stared up at him and then her universe resolved around the phaser’s emitter. She steeled herself for whatever was to come.

    Before Scudder pulled the trigger the familiar, and now Sha Ka Ree sounding whine of a transporter filled the room. The blue-white light blinded her as it engulfed Scudder. The man cursed and tried to reach out as if clawing against it, his weapon still aimed at her before he disappeared.

    T’Preea’s mind was still reeling, her vision still filled with spots before another blue-white shaft appeared.

    It was the second shock to T’Preea’s system. But one that she was happier to see. “Administrator Darden,” T’Preea didn’t like how ragged her voice sounded now. “I-I can explain.”

    “No explanation necessary T’Preea,” there was an unfamiliar coldness in Darden’s voice. The silver-haired woman was wearing a tight black uniform, completely unlike the colorful Rigelian robes she preferred. There was also a sternness to the woman’s bearing that T’Preea had never seen before.

    “Rowena?” T’Preea asked, unable to hide her concern.

    “Hush child,” Darden said. She moved her hand and for the first time the Vulcan realized she was holding something. It caught in the starlight. It was a small, silver disruptor.

    T’Preea gasped, “What? I-I don’t understand.”

    Darden pointed the pistol at her. The human’s severity lessened for a moment, and there was a glimmer of regret in her eyes. “Section 31 doesn’t leave loose ends,” she replied before turning her into a scorch mark.
    *****************************************************************
     
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    So the burning question of the identify of the spy has finally been answered. Unfortunately for her, T'Preena made a fatal mistake. Not very Vulcan of her, maybe that was just a guise? No matter now, I suppose.

    Should have known S31 is involved in this as well. But what is their end game? Could Rowena be working with the Klingons to pursue some twisted goal? With Section 31 all bets are off.
     
  9. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    As always thanks for reading. Hopefully I will be able to satisfactorily answer your questions regarding Section 31 by the end of this story.

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

    USS Ceres

    “My eyes aren’t deceiving me are they sir?” Lt. Commander Lockhart said, looking at Captain Stone.

    He shook his head. He couldn’t quite believe himself.

    “Not your eyes sir, or the sensors,” Science Officer Nimri piped up. A wary silence fell over the crew as the Klingon ship they had been pursuing stopped. It turned around slowly. Stone couldn’t help but admire its jutting wings and gunmetal gray hull. It was a very lethal looking ship.

    The Klingons understood intimidation very well. “Klingons are powering forward disruptors,” Nimri said.

    “Evasive maneuvers,” Stone ordered. “And prepare to return fire.”

    “Uh sir, Klingon ship is hailing us,” Lt. Glover didn’t hide his surprise.

    “Onscreen,” Stone replied, intrigued. The image of the warship wavered to be replaced by a broad shouldered Klingon, with a slick head and a full, bushy beard. He scowled, before grinning.

    “I am Captain Knos, son of Kojo, and master of the QprahS!” He bellowed, “And today is a good day to die!”

    Before Stone could reply the Klingons cut the communication. He gripped his armrests and dug in his heels, preparing for a fight.

    The Klingons didn’t disappoint.
    ****************************************************************

    USS Shi Shen

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Captain Helena Baumgartner said, though her surprise didn’t hide her admiration. After destroying two Raptors, one remained, and it was screaming at Shi Shen, releasing its full complement of weapons. The starship rocked, but Helena didn’t need to be told that the damage was minimal. For now. But she couldn’t keep letting her ship take hits; eventually the Raptor would score a meaningful punch.

    “It’s not backing down,” Commander Taggart said. “It’s going to ram us.”

    “Back off, back off,” Baumgartner ordered. Lacoste dove the ship beneath the oncoming Raptor, but not fast enough before the battle cruiser clipped the port nacelle. Hitting it with such force that it sent both ships spinning. In the chaos that followed Helena just made out the Raptor exploding, its destructive remnants slamming into Shi Shen, shedding its shields, ripping the hull, and she knew without out having to be told, snuffing out lives under her command.

    Those thoughts rushed through her head as she barked commands at Lt. Lacoste to right the ship again. The young man strained, all his cockiness gone, his face a mask of concentration, his fingers moving with preternatural speed. The man’s herculean efforts finally got the ship back under control. The captain knew not to breathe a sigh of relief just yet. The Klingon suicide attack hadn’t succeeded, but she knew they had caused extensive damage.

    “Damage report,” she barked, her voice strained.

    “It’s not good sir,” Taggart frowned, standing up from his console. “We’ve lost shields, warp-”. Before he could finish, the captain heard the rumble before she felt it.

    All Baumgartner could do was hold on, her chattering teeth stealing her words. The blast almost threw her from her seat. “What was that?”

    The first officer was slow to get up. Dread and blood wreathed Commander Taggart’s face. “That was the portside nacelle,” He answered, “It’s gone.”

    “Gone?”

    “Blew up,” he explained.

    “How many?” She asked.

    “Not sure yet sir,” He shook his head and then wiped blood away from his face.

    “Mr. Taggart, are you well?”

    “Not sure of that either sir,” the man unusually quipped before he collapsed. Baumgartner leapt from her seat. She placed two fingers to his neck, to check for a pulse. She breathed a sigh of relief. It was there, but weak. He needed medical attention and fast.

    “Contact Transporter Room One, we need an emergency beam out to Sickbay,” she ordered the Communications Officer. Lt. Plazzi, for once didn’t scowl. He put in the order quickly.

    Seconds later Helena heard a welcoming whine. She stood up and away as the beam whisked the insensate first officer off the bridge.

    “What now Captain?” Lt. Lacoste seemed to echo the sentiments across the bridge. Hell, perhaps across the whole ship.

    Before she could answer, her heart rose up in her throat. On the main view screen, a new Klingon warship had entered the fray. And it had joined one of the battle scarred battle cruisers that had been locked in battle with the taskforce. And together they both bore down on Shi Shen.
    **************************************************************
     
  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    IKS K’Vagh

    Commander Jo’roth’s voice carried an unfortunate strain of concern. “The Federation warship is on a collision course.”

    General Lurgan sat back in his chair and threw back his head. His laugh was long and hearty. “The humans have heart after all!” On the main viewer the Saladin barreled toward them.

    “What are your orders?” Jo’roth prodded.

    Lurgan snorted. “If they want to extinguish their lives, we’ll oblige them.” Lurgan stood up from his chair. He jabbed a finger at the screen, “Break off our attack and redirect our fire to the oncoming starship.” He would leave Gho’be’ to slug it out with the Andorians. And he would take the quick kill for himself.
    ******************************************************************

    USS Atlirith

    “The D5 is breaking off its assault,” First Officer Thais didn’t hide her surprise. “The Horatius is heading headlong for it.”

    Captain M’Giia didn’t respond. Instead he leaned forward in his chair, “Bring all of our firepower to bear on the remaining attacking ship. Fire at will.”

    The captain was relieved that he had only one ship battling Atlirith. He didn’t have to divide his attention. He had been getting the best of the D4 battle cruiser until the D5 had interceded, and it had been leading the attack, with the wounded D4 doing just enough to help keep Atlirith cornered.

    “Horatius is contacting us,” the Communications Officer said. “Audio only.”

    “Put them on,” M’Giia said. Commander Cartwright came on. He quickly explained his plan. The captain didn’t like it, but he would do all he could to help his compatriots.

    “Fall back,” M’Giia ordered. Thais had heard Cartwright’s words and she understood their import, but she frowned regardless. M’Giia smiled. The woman hated pulling back from a fight as much as he did. He wanted to destroy the D4. “Alter course and pursue the D5.”
    *******************************************************************

    USS Shi Shen

    Captain Helena Baumgartner’s stomach fluttered. “Get us out of here,” she was surprised she kept her voice level. She tugged down on her tunic to give her nervous hands something to do. The ship shuddered again as the two Klingon warships advancing on them traded attacking them. Without shields each blow struck deep. The bridge was quickly filling with smoke. There was no way Shi Shen could handle two Klingon battle cruisers, even if the ship’s systems were fully operational.

    “Captain, there’s not much we can do with no warp power and one nacelle missing,” Chief Engineer Granthik piped up from the bridge’s engineering console. All of the man’s regular jocularity was gone. His expression was as grave as Helena felt.
    “Do your best Granthik,” she said tightly. “Full impulse.” The ship groaned as Lt. Lacoste angled it away from the warships, exposing its aft section.
    Baumgartner didn’t like it, but she didn’t have much choice. “Get us back with the remainder of the taskforce.” She hoped they could provide the protection Shi Shen sorely needed.

    “Aye sir,” Lacoste was also grim.

    Baumgartner leaned back in her chair. She wasn’t relaxed though. She toggled open the ship wide intercom. “All hands, be prepared to evacuate the ship…on my command.”

    She hoped she didn’t have to issue that order, but she didn’t intend for any more people to go down with the ship. Including herself.
    *****************************************************************
     
  11. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    USS Ceres

    “Pattern theta,” Captain Stone ordered. Lt. Zapata abruptly angled the ship, barely avoiding a barrage of fire from the Klingon vessel.

    “That was a close one,” Commander Lockhart noted. Stone nodded. His eyes quickly returned to the main screen. The Klingon warship kept coming, throwing fire.

    Unfortunately Zapata’s fingers weren’t nimble enough to move Ceres out of the way. The ship rocked as it was pelted with disruptor beams.

    The Klingon ship tore past them. “Warship is coming about.”

    “Hit them with our aft torpedoes,” Stone barked.

    “On it,” Lt. Hart said. The bridge trembled as the main viewer shifted aft. Two torpedoes flew from the Ceres, striking the warship.

    “Direct hits,” Hart didn’t hide her satisfaction.

    “Is it enough?” Lt. Glover anxiously voiced. Stone wanted to share the man’s cautious optimism, but he knew Klingon warships were tougher than that, as were there commanders.

    Zapata had turned Ceres to face the wounded battle cruiser. “When you are in position, fire forward phasers and torpedoes at the Klingons, aim for weapons, shields, and propulsion,” the captain said.

    Hart nodded, hunching over her console ready to unleash destruction upon the Klingons. The ship faced the warship, the red circular orifice in its main hull looking like a flaming red eye.

    “Klingons preparing to fire,” Science Officer Nimri said.

    “Hit them first,” Stone ordered. Hart quickly translated the captain’s words into action. Ceres’s fired at the same time as the Klingons.

    The captain watched the main screen fill with red before everything went black.
    ******************************************************************

    IKS K’Vagh

    “The Andorians are pursuing us,” Commander Jo’roth informed us. General Lurgan waved the man’s concerns away.

    “We’ll deal with them once we destroy this gnat,” Lurgan pointed at the oncoming Saladin. “Bring all of our weapons to bear.”

    “The Federation warship has dropped its shields,” the Weapons Officer didn’t hide their confusion.

    Lurgan didn’t understand what was happening either. But he masked his confusion. “Prepare to fire on my mark. It will only make it easier to destroy them.”

    “Power fluctuations emanating from the Federation starship,” the Science Officer said. “Similar to what happened with the ship that self-destructed and vaporized the Bortasqu’!”

    Lurgan’s eyes widened, understanding dawning in his eyes. “Break off! Break off!” Before the helm to respond, the ship shuddered.

    “The Andorians are attacking,” Jo’roth said. The Andorians were trying to prevent them from escaping, pushing them toward the oncoming destruction.

    “Return fire,” Lurgan said, “And once we’re free, go to warp. Inform the rest of the strike fleet to follow us.”

    “Warp?” The Weapons Officer said, displeasure evident.

    “Yes,” Lurgan snapped, anger flashing in his eyes. “They are pushing us toward a trap!”
    *******************************************************************

    USS Ceres

    Captain Stone blinked back the darkness. He tried to move his head and winced, as pain bloomed in his head and lanced down his neck, joining the agony over the rest of his body. Stone took quick inventory of himself, moving his eyes slowly over his body. He was on the deck; the exchange with the Klingons had knocked him from his seat.

    Around him he heard sounds of chaos, people yelling, others screaming. A klaxon shredded his hearing. Before he attempted to move again, a shadow fell over him. He struggled to lift his eyes to see what caused it. Commander Lockhart bent down. A thin gash ran over her forehead, and blood dripped down her face.

    “What’s…our status?” He wheezed, his chest hurting with the effort to speak. Lockhart’s expression was grim as she took him in.

    “Sir, you’ve received massive injuries,” she replied.

    “Our. Status,” he wanted to bark, but it came out as a whisper, and even that wore him out.

    “We’re still tallying the damage,” Lockhart said, “But it’s not good.” Surprisingly she smiled, “It was a bit insane to slug it out with a D4.”

    Stone would return the smile once he knew his ship and crew were okay, “The Klingons?”

    “They’re hurting too,” She said, but then frowned, “But still functional, and preparing to attack again. Our shields are failing. We can’t stand up against them much longer.”

    “Evacuate the ship,” Stone hated to say, “You lead it.” He struggled to prop himself up on one elbow, biting back a yelp and using almost all the strength he had left. “I’ll keep the Klingons occupied.”

    “Sir,” Lockhart shook her head, “You’re in no condition to fight.” Before he protested, she looked up, snapped her fingers.

    He heard boots pounding down to the lower deck and hands grabbing him as gently as they could. He wanted to struggle against them, but the mere thought of resistance set off more pain receptors.

    One burly crewman picked up Stone and carried him like a child. It was embarrassing. He glared up at the man, both angry and grateful for the man’s gentleness. The young Betelgusian looked back at him, concern gleaming it his dark eyes.

    “Put me down, that’s a direct order,” the captain ordered. The crewman wavered, looking from him to Commander Lockhart.

    “Belay that order,” Lockhart said. The Betelgusian didn’t move. She leaned closer to him. “Do you want the captain’s death on your conscience?”

    He jolted, causing jabs of pain to stab at Stone. “No sir.”

    “Then get moving.”

    “Commander Lockhart…Joan,” Stone found himself pleading as he looked into her eyes. “This…is not your place.”

    “Yes it is,” She replied, a sad smile forming on her face. “I always wanted to sit in the big chair, to make a difference. I get to do two things at once,” She said, her smile fading. “Taking Ceres into her last battle and getting you out of here alive. It’s…been an honor.”

    She cautiously reached out and grabbed his hand. He clasped it with all the strength he could muster.

    “Now get him out of here,” Lockhart nodded at the crewman. Before he could protest again, the crewman took him out of the command well and into the turbolift. He felt a quick breeze against him and another shadow fell over him.

    He looked up to see a fuming Lt. Zapata. “Dania?” He asked.

    Her glare softened when she looked at him. “Commander Lockhart said Ceres didn’t need a helmsman anymore, but that you would need the best pilot in the Fleet to get you away from that Klingon ship.”

    Stone knew that Lt. Zapata didn’t like it any more than he did, but he didn’t commiserate with the woman. He understood the sacrifice Joan was making for them and he would honor it, though it would surely haunt him the rest of his days.
    ****************************************************************
     
  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    USS Horatius

    The bridge rattled as the engine’s pushed and the super phaser build up took hold. In front of them the fearsome Klingon battle cruiser bore down on them. Commander Cartwright looked at Lt. Yeung. Andrew nodded at him, giving him silent support.

    Behind the Klingon ship he saw the Andorian warship emerged and begin attacking the D5. The attack didn’t dissuade the D5, which is what Cartwright suspected.

    “Lower shields,” the commander said, providing even more inviting bait.

    No much longer now…Cartwright thought.

    “How much longer until super phaser overload?” Cartwright asked, though he already had a good guess. Lt. Udoka confirmed it.

    Cartwright tried to sigh, to release the tension built up in his chest, but couldn’t. He wouldn’t be able to until M’Giia came through with the rest of his plan.

    “Commander,” Lt. Yeung said, “We’re receiving a communication from the Shi Shen. It’s fast approaching.”

    “What?” Cartwright tore himself away from the main viewer. He had thought Shi Shen, battling the other Klingon ship was far enough away. Now it was coming right at them.

    “Tell them to fall back, with as much power as they can muster!” He barked.

    “Sir, Captain Baumgartner says two Klingons are in pursuit, she’s requesting assistance.”

    “Repeat what I said,” Cartwright snapped.

    “Captain Baumgartner is asking for elaboration.”

    “There’s no time,” Cartwright replied, “Tell her if she doesn’t do as I ask her whole crew will die in minutes.”
    *****************************************************************

    USS Shi Shen

    Captain Baumgartner looked askance at Lt. Plazzi. “Just what did he say?”

    Plazzi repeated Cartwright’s last message. She was a bit taken aback by the harsh tone, especially from a subordinate officer, but she figured the man had his reasons.

    “Captain, our sensors are detecting power levels from the Horatius consistent with the super phaser activation,” Commander Taggart said, a bit breathless. “And it’s overloading.”

    Baumgartner’s eyes widened. Now she got it.

    “Mr. Lacoste, get us the hell away from here.”

    “Uh, the Klingons after us sir?” Lacoste pointed out. “I don’t think they are going to let us get away.”

    “That’s right,” Baumgartner rubbed her chin, “On second thought, keep the present course. Perhaps we can kill most of our birds in one fell swoop.”
    ******************************************************************

    USS Ceres

    Each time the crewman’s boots thudded against the ground, Captain Stone groaned in pain. He was grateful for it though. The jolts were the only thing keeping him conscious. Beside him Lt. Zapata huffed. The corridor was filled with running people, jostling each other as they rushed for escape pods. The hallway was bathed in disorienting, blinking red lighting.

    “Not that way Mr. Wilaru,” She told the Betelgusian carrying the captain. “We’re not going to the escape pods.”

    “But sir,” Wilaru asked. And Stone mirrored the man’s confusion. “Commander Lockhart said to get the captain off the ship.”

    “Yeah, but she didn’t say we had to do it in an escape pod. I think the commander wanted me along because she wanted to insure the captain the best chance to survive, and the best way to do that is in a shuttle. That’s where we’re headed.”

    “But sir, we’re running out of time,” Wilaru protested.

    “Then let’s get moving,” Zapata said. “Let’s go now!”
    *****************************************************************
     
  13. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    IKS QprahS

    Lt. Lureth growled low in her throat. Her eyes narrowed. Her nostrils flared. The prey was in her sights. And they knew it. Already she saw escape pods ejecting from the starship.

    It took everything she had to restrain herself. She waited impatiently for the order. Captain Knos, standing in front of his seat, his boots planted on the deck, his chest puffed out, his hands clenching and unclenching. There was a large grin on his face. “Weapons Officer,” he finally said, “Destroy them.”
    *******************************************************************

    USS Horatius

    “What are they doing?” Lt. Yeung asked. Cartwright didn’t understand either. He had warned the Shi Shen to escape and the ship continued heading toward them, heading toward the destruction he was planning for the D5.

    He shook his head. “Warn them again.” Surely their sensors were reading the power fluctuations aboard Horatius. They had to know that the weapons system was overcharging.

    “No response sir,” Lt. Yeung said.

    “Klingon ship is firing,” Lt. Udoka informed them. Cartwright watched the tide of energy rolling toward them. He knew when it crashed into Horatius the impact would be devastating.

    Come on…Cartwright pressed. Behind the Klingon warship he saw the Andorian ship fly over the battle cruiser.

    It raced the disruptor beams. But Cartwright didn’t know if they would overtake them. Thankfully they didn’t have to as the transporter beam locked onto him.
    *****************************************************************

    USS Atlirith

    Cartwright materialized on the bridge of the Andorian starship. It had happened so quickly that he almost lost his balance. A quick acting Andorian crewman helped him stay upright. He nodded thanks before turning to Captain M’Giia.

    M’Giia’s focus was completely on the Shi Shen. The Ptolemy-class starship was limping along as two Klingon D4s were swarming it. Cartwright uncomfortably had to stand to the side to allow the Atlirith crew to perform their duties. He looked at the rest of the small Horatius crew. They similarly looked frustrated.

    “Their shields have collapsed,” the female officer at the science console said.

    “Fortuitous timing,” M’Giia said darkly. “Sweep by and grab as much personnel from the Shi Shen that you can.” He ordered, “And then go to full warp.”

    The helm officer angled the ship toward the Shi Shen. While it rushed toward them, the bridge shivered. Cartwright knew the vibration of torpedoes being loosed from their tubes. The Klingons attacking Shi Shen broke off as both were struck.

    “I think we’ve got the Klingons’ attention,” Lt. Yeung muttered.

    “Sweep in and get as many people as we can,” M’Giia pressed. Atlirith dove forward. The ship rattled as disruptor beams slammed into it. Cartwright had to grab onto the nearest console to keep upright. Not all of the Horatius and Atlirith crew were as lucky. Terminals exploded in showers of sparks and smoke curled around the bridge, but M’Giia stood rooted and firm.

    “Drop shields and transport the Shi Shen crew into the Main Cargo Bay.”

    “First transport complete,” the Science Officer said.

    “How many did we get?” M’Giia added.

    “Forty-seven,” the Science Officer said. “Can we do another sweep?”

    M’Giia shook his head. His shoulders slumped. “No. Raise shields and go to full warp.”

    The ship rocketed into space, stars lengthening into bright streaks as space warped around them. Still it wasn’t enough.

    The explosion hit Atlirith, causing the heavy-cruiser to pinwheel, knocking Cartwright and every one off their feet. Bodies, including the commander, were thrown around the bridge, crashing against walls, bulkheads, and consoles.

    When Cartwright woke up, he found himself on the deck. Beside him was Atlirith’s first officer; her eyes were beyond sight. He shook his head, wincing at the pain. He gingerly touched the back of his head and pulled away a hand covered in blood. His vision wavered.

    The commander stood up slowly. His legs were rubbery and he sought to grab onto to something to keep from falling back down. Darkness edged on his vision, but he fought against it.

    Soft sobbing drew his attention. He saw a young officer kneeling near the helm console. She was holding the head of Captain M’Giia. Cartwright could tell by the way the man’s neck was angled that he was dead.

    He reached her and grunted as he bent down to her. He gently placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to him, her face puffy and slick with tears. “Commander Thais is dead?” She asked, though Cartwright could tell she already knew the answer. He silently nodded.

    “What,” a sob break up her question, “are your orders sir?”

    ************************************************************************
    IKS QprahS

    Captain Knos gave them little time for celebration. But still the explosion of the Loknar-class ship replayed in Lureth’s mind.

    The captain hadn’t even allowed them to mop the few life pods and even a shuttle that had escaped the destruction.

    “On to Aldebaran III,” Knos had roared, “Glory to the Empire!” A hearty round of the Warrior’s Anthem broke out on the bridge, started by Boqlah.

    Knos stepped over to Lureth’s seat and clapped her hard on the shoulder. “Excellent shooting,” he grinned.

    Lureth’s cheeks warmed. She felt both ashamed at her weakness and proud of her abilities. It was rare for the captain to give praise.

    “You have brought great honor to your House this day,” he added, “And the day is not yet over.”
    ******************************************************************
     
  14. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ******************************************************************
    USS Atlirith

    Commander Cartwright stood by the captain’s chair. He didn’t feel right taking Captain M’Giia’s place. His colleagues from Sirius also showed reluctance to assume roles on the Andorian ship’s bridge, but they did.

    Bodies still littered the deck. Medical crews had recently arrived and were shifting through the wreckage to recover them. Cartwright cleared his throat before he spoke, “What is the ship’s status?”

    The young Andorian who had been weeping over the fallen M’Giia turned around in her chair. Lt. Unna was the senior most bridge officer left alive among the Atlirith crew. Lt. Yeung didn’t raise any objection when Cartwright tapped her to be his interim first officer. He didn’t want to unsettle things among the Andorian crew any more than they already had been. Unna’s face was now expressionless, her tone professional. “Captain, are weapons and warp systems are offline. We are still working on restoring full structural integrity and presently have minimal shielding.”

    “Impulse engines?” The woman nodded her affirmation. Cartwright’s pursed his lips, reluctant to ask his next question. He finally forced himself to. “Casualties?”

    Moisture formed around the Unna’s eyes, but she kept her composure. “That…data…is still streaming in. There was multiple hull breaches, some of our…crew…were sucked into space.”

    “I see,” Cartwright said, tapping his chin. “And what of the Klingon ships?”

    “Sensory information reveals that the Klingon attack force has been vaporized,” Lt. Udoka piped up. She had assumed control of the science console. Cartwright kept his face impassive, but he shared in the joyous cheer that was let out on the bridge. The plan had worked after all. The instability of the super phaser, with its massive destructive potential, had won the day after all.

    “Any other survivors, from the Shi Shen?” Cartwright asked. He knew that the Atlirith medical staff was still checking the too few colleagues rescued from that ship. The commander was hoping that more were able to escape via life pods.

    Udoka shook her head slowly, a sad expression forming on her face. “I see,” Cartwright repeated. His shoulders slumped briefly before he raised them again.

    “There’s still one Klingon warship out there,” he said.

    “And the Ceres,” Yeung added.

    “Until we find out the fate of both we have to assume that the Klingons are still in play and still are headed to Aldebaran III, if they haven’t reached it already, and that means we’ve still got a job to do.”

    “Captain Sir,” Unna spoke up. “We are in no condition for a fight.”

    “I expect you to do everything within your power to get us ready if we have to face the Klingons again,” Cartwright challenged. To his pleasure the woman didn’t wilt. Instead her eyes gleamed with steel.

    “If we face the Klingons again, we will avenge our fallen,” she promised.

    That’s more like it, Cartwright thought. But he replied, with a terse nod, “Good. Carry on.” And then made his way to the turbolift to head down to the Main Cargo Bay. If Captain Baumgartner was among the living, he intended to follow protocol and hand the reins of command to her.

    As the doors closed on him, casting him briefly in shadow, Cartwright deflated. He wasn’t sure how he felt about giving up command. In a way he was ready for someone else to shoulder the burden, but he still wanted to get the remainder of those under his command home safe. And he didn’t trust anyone else to do that but him.

    Arriving at the designated floor, and stepping into the hallway, Cartwright first heard the commotion and then he saw security guards running toward the cargo bay. The commander took off after him. He ran alongside one guard, a husky pale blue man.

    “Warrant Officer,” Cartwright addressed him, “What is going on?”

    The man barely gave Cartwright a glance before he breathlessly replied, “A brawl has broken out!”
    ****************************************************************
     
  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    IKS QprahS

    Lureth sucked in a breath. Before them hung a space station, a long tower with a base of living modules and docking ports at its base. Her finger itched over her trigger. She wanted to slag the station and then attack the planet below it.

    There was a knowing growl behind her. The woman looked up. Captain Knos glared down at her. There was an uncharacteristically sympathetic smile. He dug into Lureth’s shoulder.

    “There will be another time for that,” he promised. “More battles to win, more songs to be sung.” He turned away from her. “Scan for the beacon.”

    “I have detected it,” Julok said proudly. Lureth frowned. She didn’t like to hear satisfaction from the son of Duras. She was certain that his kin would trumpet this find as the true victory of the battle.

    “Lower shields and beam up Agent Maal,” Knos barked, “To the bridge”. He turned with force, his heavy coat brushing against Lureth’s arm. He stomped back to his command chair and plopped down. He snorted his impatience. Lureth’s breath caught in her throat. Whoever this Maal was, she realized now that this was the whole point of this venture, not conquering the Aldebaran system. She hated this agent instantly. The title told her that this Maal was a member of the So’Taj, Imperial Intelligence. She shook her head and snorted with disgust. Whenever the So’Taj was involved honor was lacking.

    Despite herself, Lureth tore herself from the tempting space station at the sound of the transporter. The crimson light resolved on a tall figure. As soon as Maal materialized he crumpled to the deck. Lureth was out of her seat, but Knos had already reached the man first. Commander Rornan was at his side. Everyone had left their post, a circle forming around the man.

    Knos grabbed Maal roughly and pulled him over. The man instinctively stepped back, a look of complete shock on his face. Lureth’s heart pushed into her throat, and she felt something unusual, unpleasant, and very rare: fear. Shockingly, Knos shared the same expression.

    He whipped around, his eyes boring into a stunned Julok, “Beam that thing off the ship, now!” Lureth looked down again. Maal looked like a human, a dead one, but that wasn’t what had caused the reaction from the captain. It was the blinking box-like contraption strapped to the dead man’s chest.

    Julok sprang into action, rushing over to his console. The rest of the crew backed back slowly. Boqlah stepped in front of Lureth. She elbowed him hard in the back and attempted to move around him, but one of Boqlah’s thick arms kept her behind him.
    Suddenly the man turned to her, something knowing and sad flashing in his eyes.

    He lifted her up and crushed his mouth against hers, seconds before the bomb exploded.
    ******************************************************************

    Shuttle Anjea

    “Theriac,” Lt. Dania Zapata smiled, happy to hear the medic. She imagined that she heard the Saurian’s face forming into a returning smile from the communicator. “I’m glad you made it out,” she added.

    “How are you Dania?” He asked.

    “I’m okay,” her voice faltered, “but the captain. It’s not looking good. We need you over here.”

    “I’m bringing my escape pod alongside the shuttle,” he said. Dania breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Hurry,” she urged. She took a moment to look back. Wilaru was doing his best, which wasn’t good enough, to comfort the ailing Captain Stone. The Betelgusian had rifled through the shuttle’s medical kit to find medicine. He had succeeded in at least putting the captain to sleep and it appeared to be a restful sleep.

    He was currently running a scanner over the insensate man and making disappointing noises. “How is it looking Wilaru?”

    “Not good,” Wilaru answered. “There is severe internal bleeding, a skull fracture, and several broken bones.”

    There was a clang against the shuttle. “Sorry about that,” Theriac said. “I don’t have your piloting skills.”

    Zapata ignored him. “Engaging tractor beam.”

    “It connected,” Theriac said.

    “Beaming you over now,” Dania said. Seconds later Theriac appeared in the shuttle. He rushed to the captain’s side and gently batted away Wilaru. He pulled out a medical tricorder and ran in over the captain’s form.

    “My gods,” he muttered. “This man needs to be in a Sickbay.”

    “Sorry Doc, we don’t have one available,” Zapata replied.

    “We need to get him to Aldebaran III then,” Theriac said, his voice not brooking any dissent.

    “But what about the rest of the escape pods?” Zapata countered. “They’ll need us if they run into any Klingons.”

    “There’s not much one shuttle can do against a Klingon warship,” Theriac said, “And you know that.”

    “I don’t want to leave them behind,” Zapata dug in. “The captain wouldn’t want that.”

    “Well we’ll never know if we don’t get him to a Sickbay,” Theriac stared at her. Zapata blinked first.

    “Alright,” she relented. She released the escape pod before jetting to warp. “Aldebaran here we come.”
    ****************************************************************
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Looks like a victory for Starfleet here, depending on how much damage that bomb did. Tensions are clearly still running high, not everyday you get a brawl breaking out on a Starfleet vessel ... in the middle of combat no less. Not good.
     
  17. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, it was a victory for Starfleet, but one not without cost.

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

    USS Atlirith

    As soon as the cargo doors parted Commander Cartwright jumped into the middle of the brawl. He dove for the center of it, pushing back grasping hands, doing his best to avoid swinging fists. He was jostled and pushed from side to side, but he kept going. There was a swarm of Andorians and other Starfleet officers, moving to and fro. Cartwright knew he had to get to the locus of the fight to defuse it.

    At the eye of the storm two men were locked together, both from the Shi Shen. Captain Baumgartner, with blood gushing from her nose, had her fingers locked around the neck of one of the fighting men. The olive-hued man she held wore the beige operations uniform. Opposite her was a tall, sandy-haired man, wearing a commander’s rank. He was pulling on the opposing man. Both Baumgartner and her first officer were trying to pry to the two apart. Baumgartner was also yelling. “Stop it Nick! That’s an order!”

    But neither man was listening. “Let me go,” snapped one, his eyes wild, “Leslie is still on the bridge!”

    “The bridge…the ship is gone Mr. Lacoste,” the first officer said, sadness spliced in with authority. The beige-shirted man shook his head, refusing to believe it.

    “Stand down Mr. Dotto!” The first officer barked at the black-shirted dark-skinned man. The security officer reluctantly agreed, glancing back at the first officer once before he loosened his grip. Lacoste lunged at him and met Cartwright’s fist.

    The man fell to the ground and broke into terrible sobbing. The sound carried over the still jostling throng, eventually stilling them.

    Captain Baumgartner attempted to place a calming hand on his shoulder but he pushed her away. The man suddenly glared up at Cartwright, “Why didn’t you grab her too!”

    He started to stand and the commander set his feet, his muscles flexing, as he prepared for a fight.

    “No Nick,” Baumgartner said softly, “She’s gone, and there’s no amount of fighting that will bring her back.”

    That crumpled the man. He fell back onto the deck. By that time the Andorian security team had pushed through the crowd and was circling Lacoste. They hesitated, glancing at Cartwright and then the ranking officer, Captain Baumgartner for instructions.

    Reluctantly, Baumgartner said, “Take him to the brig…gently, and get a medic to check his injuries.”

    The Andorians surrounded the man and carefully picked him off the ground. He didn’t fight them. He went meekly, his head bowed, and his face still wet with tears.

    Once he had left, Captain Baumgartner rounded on Cartwright. “Nick was right. Why didn’t you get all of my bridge crew at least?!”

    “I’m sorry sir,” Cartwright said.

    “Where’s M’Giia, I want him to explain himself!” She demanded. Cartwright broke eye contact with her, looked away, and then back at the woman.

    “Captain M’Giia is dead,” he said soberly.

    “Oh my God,” Baumgartner’s face was crestfallen. “I-I didn’t realize.”

    “Who’s in command then?” The Shi Shen first officer asked.

    Cartwright dipped his head in Baumgartner’s direction. “You are.”
    *****************************************************************

    Klingon High Council Chamber
    The Great Hall, Qo’noS
    Two weeks later…

    Lorath, son of Lurgan, shivered and hated himself for it. Despite the roaring fire pits lining the room, despite being dressed in the regalia of a warrior, he was chilled to the marrow.

    The Chancellor, perched on his great throne, glared down at him. Twelve men, on each side of the massive throne, surrounded him. The boy struggled not to stare down at his polished boots. He stood on the great trefoil emblem of the Empire, which dominated the floor of the chamber, encircled by the greatest men in the Empire, and he stood alone. A lone QuchHa’ among a den of HemQuch.

    “Lorath, son of Lurgan, do you know why you have been called before this Council?” One of the men surrounding the chancellor stepped forward. He was short, powerfully built, and with an enviously heavily-ridged brow. He didn’t need to be a Betazoid to sense the man’s hostility, the mockery in his dark eyes. Lorath, the scion of House Lurgan, dressed in the armor of a warrior yet he had fought no battles.

    Give me time, he thought, he almost pleaded.

    Lorath paused, gathering his courage and insuring that his voice wouldn’t crack as he spoke, “I do not, Councilor Duras,” he answered boldly. His father had made sure he knew all of the councilors. “You will sit among them one day”, he had always promised Lorath. Now that promise, like so many others, had turned to ash.

    “Your father lost the Battle of Aldebaran III and your sister failed to obtain an item of great importance to the Empire,” Duras added gleefully. “Your House has been dishonored the Empire, and the failure of the father must be answered by the son.”

    Lorath glared back the man, and forced himself not to gulp. He was still grieving his father, and even Lureth. She had always been so distant, and father had kept them apart. Though father had told him of his plans to make Lureth his gin’tak.

    “My father and my sister fought nobly,” he replied, recalling what some of the friends of his father had told them. “They died with honor and should be commended by this Council and the whole of the Empire.”

    This brought snorts and peals of laughter from some of the councilors. Lorath was heartened to see a few nodding in agreement with him. Thankfully one of them stepped forward.

    “It is dishonorable to charge this boy, who has fought no battles, with the loss at Aldebaran III,” the man replied strongly. Lorath had never seen a HemQuch come to the aid of a QuchHa’ in such a manner.

    Duras batted away the man’s words as if he were swatting a glob fly. “And what do you know of battle, son of Huraga?” He sneered. “You’ve been opposed to our glorious campaign from the start!”

    “No,” Councilor Grell stood his ground. “I have opposed how we have chosen to fight this war, with arrogance bordering on dishonor. And that was evidenced at Aldebaran III, when we listened to the So’Taj instead of the High Command!”

    So’Taj? Lorath thought. What did Imperial Intelligence have to do with his father’s mission? “How is the So’Taj involved?”

    “Quiet boy!” Duras barked. The squat councilor turned his full attention on Grell. Lorath growled low in his throat and reached for his dk’tahg before he caught himself. If he had pulled the knife the Yan-Isleth hidden in the shadows along the walls would cut him down before he could reach Duras’s soft throat. Duras pounded over to Grell and bumped against him, glaring up at the man.

    “I lost my son! My heir at Aldebaran III!” He raged.

    “The brothels in the First City are filled with his replacements,” Grell sniffed. A guttural cry ripped from Duras and he pulled a blade from the folds of his cloak. He brought it down and Grell rushed to parry.

    “Enough!” The Chancellor said, stopping Duras’s arm in mid-swing. Grell was still crouched, his own blade in his hand and still aimed at his attacker’s rib cage.

    The Chancellor stood up and wrapped the heavy cloak of state around his shoulders. “I have heard enough,” he said, “As of this moment, House Lurgan is dissolved, its lands and riches will be divided among the Council.” He paused, and focused all of his magisterial weight behind his words. “Actions have consequences.”

    “This isn’t fair!” Lorath roared. Unbidden he pulled his blade. He didn’t care if they struck him down at this moment. He would fight for all that his fathers had built. “It was General Wo’toth who led the mission. It should be his House that is no more!”

    “House Wo’toth has had a seat on this Council for nearly a thousand years,” the Chancellor replied.

    “While ‘House’ Lurgan are nothing more than QuchHa’ pretenders that don’t know their place,” Duras crowed.

    “I said enough,” the Chancellor hissed. That brought Duras up short.

    “So Wo’toth is too powerful to dismember,” Lorath realized. “And someone has to be blamed for this defeat.”

    The Chancellor nodded, smiling, “You are a crafty one son of Lurgan.” There was a glint of pride in his eyes, almost fatherly. It disgusted Lorath.

    “I am but a boy, but my father was one of the most powerful QuchHa’ in the Empire. Any attempt to divide his domain will roil the Empire. This action could threaten civil war, and you don’t need that while fighting the Federation.”

    The Chancellor’s eyes narrowed and the glint disappeared. It was replaced by something hard and ruthless. “Are you threatening me boy?”

    “No Chancellor,” Lorath wet his throat. “I am only thinking of what is best for the Empire.”

    “And what would that be?”

    That House Lurgan in conjunction with House Wo’toth compensates the soldiers that lost their lives,” Lorath offered.

    “Not good enough,” Duras snorted. The Chancellor growled loudly, silencing the man.

    “There has to be more,” the Chancellor said.

    Lorath sighed, “I will relinquish all of our holdings, save the Khemet Sector, in exchange for two things.”

    “Who are you to make demands upon the Chancellor boy?” Duras stepped toward Lorath, raising his hand as if to strike him. Lorath cut his eyes at the man before returning them back to the Chancellor.

    “One more outburst from you Duras and it will you that I dismember,” the Chancellor promised. Duras stopped before he reached Lorath and stood uncomfortably, not certain what to do. Lorath smiled.

    “What do you propose?” The Chancellor was amused.

    “That I be made an officer and placed immediately into combat,” Lorath said, “and that you place a QuchHa’ on the High Council.”

    That ignited uproar in the chamber. Duras looked as if he would faint. Both the Chancellor and Lorath weathered the storm. Both studied the other, gauging strengths and weaknesses.

    “Carving up one of the most prominent QuchHa’ Houses must be offset with a big gesture,” Lorath added. “QuchHa’ have fought valiantly in this war and need to see signs that they are properly honored for it.”

    The Chancellor stroked his beard. His brow knitted in thought. “Who do you propose?” This caused more gasps and angry growling among the councilors. They couldn’t believe the Chancellor was entertaining a mere boy, a QuchHa’ stripling at that. Lorath could barely believe it himself.

    “Commander Rynar, of the House of Mur’Eq,” Lorath said without fail. His father had praised the venerable warrior, and had often remarked with pride in how Rynar could trace his lineage back to Emperor Mur’Eq. Rynar showed how even the QuchHa’ had ties back to Klingon royalty. If it wasn’t his father who sat upon the Council Lorath could think of no better QuchHa’ than the son of Kor.

    “This is preposterous!” Duras roared.

    “No,” The Chancellor shook his head, “It is a wise recommendation. One that I will execute immediately.” He smiled at Lorath. “Your studies at Ogat are now concluded. You will serve aboard Field Commander Korrd’s battle cruiser. It disembarks for a campaign in the Regulan system in a matter of days.” He paused and leaned over, his glare boring into him. His voice lowered, emphasizing his words, “Make sure you are aboard it.”

    “I will be there,” Lorath promised, as a million thoughts warped though his mind. He had to speak with his mother and his uncles, he had to conclude his affairs at Ogat, and he needed to return to his father’s house to retrieve Lurgan’s sword and his sister’s opera book. He wanted them with him. The only mementos he would allow himself to carry.

    Whenever he had moments of doubt he would look upon them and remember the bravery of both his father and sister. He knew that would push him on to even greater heights.

    “Dismissed,” The Chancellor said. Lorath bowed and made sure he locked eyes with the undone Duras. This isn’t over, he hoped his gaze conveyed. I will regain all that I have lost this day, and those who took it from me will pay dearly.
    ***************************************************************
    Author's Note:
    -Councilor Duras comes from Trek Lit. There was a 23rd century Duras that sat on the High Council so I decided to use him instead of coming up with a new name and then tying it back to the House of Duras. Naming him Duras would be more immediate. I had thought about naming him Ja'rod though.
    -Grell. Named for DC Comics' Mike Grell.
    -House Huraga. I saw they had a blood feud with the House of Duras, from Memory Beta, so I decided to make them the opponents of House Duras in this piece.
    -Rynar is the father of TOS's Kor. But I also saw that his father was named Kor from Trek Lit. so I rolled with that.
     
  18. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Aldebaran III
    Three weeks later…

    Captain Percival Stone smiled, despite the pain. It was the first genuine smile he had given in days. Helena’s smile was tinged with sadness. “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting.”

    Chandra Stone turned on the biobed, her hold on Percival’s hand loosening. “Captain Baumgartner,” she said by way of greeting.

    Helena stepped gingerly into the room. She dipped her head in acknowledgement. “Please…Helena,” she said.

    Chandra tried the name out. “You’re Dr. Stone,” Helena said.

    “Chandra,” his wife said, and he could hear the smile in her voice. That lightened his heart more than any of Chandra’s attempts thus far to elevate his spirits. “With how much Percival has talked about you over the last week, I think we should be on a first name basis.”

    Baumgartner gave him a side eye, a light blush touching her cheeks. “And just what has he been saying?”

    “Oh, how you’re one of the best in the Fleet, and how you’ll beat him to the admiral’s chair.” Chandra paused, her shoulders tensing, “And…your heroism,” her voice had grown more somber. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

    Helena’s smile evaporated. She bowed her head. Her cheeks paled. “Thank you,” her voice was tinny.

    “Listen, I’m sorry about bringing it up, I’m sure that’s all that everyone is talking to you about,” Chandra said.

    “No,” Helena finally looked back up, “It’s…okay. I mean, what else is everyone going to talk about?”

    Percival grimaced, and this time not from the pain lancing his body. “Perhaps…perhaps I should give you two sometime alone?” Chandra asked, looking back at Percival. He nodded. Chandra squeezed his hand and got up from the bed.

    After she left, Helena took her place. She kept her hands though primly in her lap. “How are you doing Percy?” She asked.

    Stone sighed. He felt he had to be strong for Chandra, strong for the survivors, a rock for the Fleet, but few captains fortunately knew his agony like Helena did.

    “I ran into Dr. Theriac before I came in,” she shook her head, “Several cracked vertebrae, skull fracture, internal hemorrhaging, multiple lacerations, a punctured lung…”

    “Stop,” Stone pleaded, “Don’t make me relive it.”

    “It’s not a laughing matter,” Baumgartner said, though a smile belied her chiding. “We could’ve have lost you,” her eyes grew sad again, “And I don’t think I could’ve bore that, not after Shi Shen.”

    Though his body protested, he reached out and touched the edge of her hand. She wrapped a hand within his. “How many?” He asked.

    Helena lowered her head, unable to formulate the words. When she raised it again, her eyes were wet. “Forty-seven, which included my bridge crew…but not all of them.”

    “My God,” Stone said, feeling perversely lucky that a greater number of his crew had survived, minus his bridge crew, who had valiantly stayed by Commander Lockhart’s side to the end. “I’m sorry.”

    “And I’m sorry for your loss,” Helena said, her eyes hardening. “This damn war. These damn Klingons.” She lowered her head again. Stone patted her hand.

    “How many more lives will be given up, will go into the grinder, until Klingon blood lust is sated?” He asked.

    “It’s not just them,” Baumgartner’s eyes now filled with fire. “Command is trumpeting our ‘victory’ here. They are fanning the flames, recruiting more of our people to join the fight.”

    Stone shook his head sadly, but he understood. “The Federation needed another victory, something major, and they are spinning this into that event.”

    “Shiloh,” Helena’s grin was cruel. It took a moment for Stone to remember.

    “The American Civil War,” he shook his head again.

    “In more ways than one,” Baumgartner added, “The Confederates lost General Johnston, and I’ve heard that the Klingons lost General Wo’toth.”

    “Wo’toth?”

    “Trust me, its big news for the Klingons,” Helena nodded.

    “I guess that it is,” Stone replied. He grew quiet, the darkness threatened to draw him back down again.

    “I’ve heard other things too,” Baumgartner ventured carefully, “That you’ve taken a post back at HQ.”

    Stone frowned. “And where did you hear that?”

    “Is it true?” Helena didn’t back down.

    Stone was peeved, but he nodded. “Why? Why are you stepping away from starship command?” She demanded.

    He threw up his hands, wincing at the effort. “You’re really asking me that, now? It will take me weeks, maybe a month or more to regain my ability to walk; I’m no good to anyone in this state.”

    “And what about after you’re back on your feet?”

    He couldn’t meet her eyes. “I-I can’t do it. I can’t lose another command. A few people, it is tragic, but I accept that as part of the territory, but to lose a starship…for someone to sacrifice their lives for me…that’s not the natural order. That’s not the way things should be. I should go down with the ship. Not my crew. I shouldn’t be here talking to you, I-I should be…”

    “At least someone who knew you and respected you made the decision,” Helena’s eyes now burned. “I was whisked away without a say in the matter.”

    “I’m sorry Helena.”

    “No,” her anger collapsed. “No, I’m sorry. How can I be angry with Captain M’Giia? He saved my life after all, at the cost of his own.”

    “Still…I understand.”

    “Thank you Percy,” she said quietly, “So is it true?”

    “Yes,” he admitted, “I’ve taken a position with Fleet Admiral Natori’s staff at Starfleet Tactical.”

    “You, a stylus pusher?” Helena shook her head, “I can’t believe it.”

    “I’m not ready for starship duty right now,” he admitted, and felt a great relief that he could say that to her, to anyone. “At Tactical I can still do my part. Helping direct us to victory.”

    “I don’t begrudge your choices,” she said, “I never would.” Baumgartner squeezed his hand.

    “What about you?” Stone asked.

    Helena looked ahead, her expression hardening. “I have to get back in the fight. I need to be directly involved, to make sure as many people as possible get home. It’s the least I can do…after I failed my crew.”

    “You didn’t fail anyone,” Stone said with his strongest command voice. “Never say that again.”

    Helena crumpled, her body racking with sobs. She placed her head in her hands. “God Percy, I-I wish I had died too.”

    His voice was morose and so soft that he barely heard it himself, “So do I.”
    *****************************************************************
     
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Orbital Office Complex

    “That pip looks good on you,” Lt. Commander Alice Marcus said. “Captain Cartwright,” she said, her voice breaking at the end.

    “I’m sorry…Alice,” Cartwright replied, getting up from the desk. He had been given a temporary office. Command would’ve allowed him to stay aboard the Atlirith as its temporary commanding officer, but he hadn’t felt that would be right. No one could replace a giant like Vadin M’Giia, least of all him.

    And Cartwright also realized that no one could replace a titan like Alexander Marcus. He felt infinitesimally small in Alice’s startling blue eyes. The graying blonde weapons specialist was much too gracious to say that. However Cartwright could tell from the anger brimming in her daughter Carol’s eyes that that was exactly what the teenager was thinking. Why are you here and my father isn’t?

    Cartwright wished he could provide some answer to her that would provide her some peace, but he knew that he could not. He had never been much of a talker, and he doubted there would be any words that would salve the wound caused by Captain Marcus’s passing.

    He didn’t even know if it would be right to try to smile at the younger Marcus. She was such the image of her mother. There was nothing like the severe visage of her father. He hoped this tragedy wouldn’t take her down such a path.

    Cartwright stood awkwardly before them, not sure what to say. So he decided to tell them what was in his heart. “I wouldn’t be here without Captain Marcus. His actions were instrumental in halting the Klingons’ advance. His is a debt I can never repay.”

    Alice’s eyes started to water and the woman struggled to regain her composure. Carol’s face contorted even more. Cartwright pressed on. “But I do intend to do everything I can to honor his sacrifice, to defend the Federation.”

    “They call me the hero of Aldebaran III,” he scoffed. “But it was Captain Marcus and Captain M’Giia, they were the heroes. I just wish they could be here to see how many lives they saved, including mine.”

    “I’m sorry Alice,” he looked at the woman, held her hands tenderly. And then his voice softened even more, “And Carol. I remember when I first saw you, far too long ago. No little girl should have to grow up without her father.”

    Carol’s anger melted and tears poured from her eyes. Alice gently pulled her hands from Cartwright’s and embraced her daughter.

    Cartwright stood rigidly until the moment passed. Alice bent down and looked at her daughter. She spoke softly, “Carol dear, I need you to go back to our quarters. I need to speak with Captain Cartwright alone, Starfleet business alright?” His eyebrow arched. What could Mrs. Marcus need to discuss with him privately?

    Carol tensed, her anger switching on again as she glared at Cartwright. The man almost took a step back. “Mom…” she began.

    “Carol,” Lt. Commander Marcus’s tone was gentle, but firm. “It will only take a few moments.”

    “Aww,” Carol said, but she relented. Alice saw the girl to the door and once it had slid closed, she turned back to Cartwright.

    Her eyes were red-rimmed, but her gaze was appraising. It took Cartwright aback.

    “Alex said you could be trusted,” she said, her tone with an air of authority Cartwright didn’t normally hear in a subordinate officer, “Can I trust you Captain Cartwright?”

    He didn’t like her tone, but perhaps this was part of her grieving process. “Of course Alice…Lt. Commander,” he added to remind her of their positions. He hated pulling rank at a time like this, but he didn’t want things to get too emotionally messy.

    “Alex was a man who would do all he could to protect the Federation, even giving his life.”

    “I-I would do the same,” Cartwright promised, not sure where the woman was going.

    “We are at war, with an enemy determined to annihilate us,” Alice said, “Alex knew that and he also knew it would take men and women of extraordinary courage to meet and defeat them. Men who understood how truly exceptional our way of life was.”

    “Of course,” Cartwright nodded, smiling wistfully at all of the late night conversations about history and politics the two men often shared. They had had a lot in common Cartwright had come to realize. They both understood the value of peace through strength.

    “Alex and I share your belief in a strong Federation,” she said, “And there are others like us, throughout the Fleet and the Federation who believe as we do.”

    “I’m certain of that,” Cartwright nodded, “and more now that the Klingons have proved that diplomacy is a fool’s errand.”

    Lt. Commander Marcus nodded, her expression hardening. “Not just share views, but are willing and committed to do something about them. To insure that the Federation remains strong and secure.”

    “Alice,” Cartwright leached the impatience from his voice, “I don’t understand where you are going.”

    She paused, examining him once more. Cartwright could tell the woman was judging whether to be honest with him or not. “Alex trusted you,” she muttered, more to herself than to him, “So maybe I should to.”

    “Alice?” He prodded, gently he hoped. Suddenly she stepped toward him, causing him to fall back.

    Her eyes bored into him. Her voice low, she asked, “Captain, have you ever heard of Section 31?”
    ****************************************************************

    Author's Note:
    -For Alice Marcus, I took the name of actress Alice Eve, who played Carol Marcus in Into Darkness.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    EPILOGUE

    USS Red Cloud
    Six months later…

    Captain Donald Cartwright had both dreaded and anticipated this moment. The image on the desktop resolved into a surprising personage. Cartwright did his best not to show his shock. Administrator Darden, from the New Aberdeen Shipyards, smiled, obviously catching his brief surprise.

    Her smile quickly faded and her countenance took on a menacing air that was aided by the black tunic she wore and the dim room she sat in.

    “This is your first mission for us,” she said. Cartwright knew it wasn’t a question.

    Cartwright nodded curtly, tension building between his shoulder blades. He had half-believed what Alice Marcus had told him about Section 31, an extralegal group within the Federation that worked in the shadows to maintain security and to eliminate threats. If it had been anyone else but Alice, and if she hadn’t sworn of Alexander Marcus’s involvement, he would’ve thrown her out of his office.

    But he hadn’t. He had listened, and while doing so, he had realized that his conversations with Captain Marcus had an underlying purpose. The man had been gauging him, examining him for membership in the section.

    At first Cartwright had been angered by the idea, but the more Alice talked about Section 31 and the incidents it had been involved in, the lives it had saved, Donald had come to see Alexander’s consideration a great honor.

    So he had decided to honor Captain Marcus’s sacrifice by joining Section 31. Once he had agreed, Alice had left him, only telling him that the section would contact him when they needed his assistance.

    Cartwright had put them out of his mind as he had taken command of the Geronimo-class Red Cloud and got back into the fight. It was fortuitous that Section 31 had called just as Red Cloud was reassigned away from the warfront for a retrofit. Or perhaps more than coincidence, if the reach of the organization was as long as Alice had intimated.

    Cartwright had just returned from haggling with the portmaster from Starbase 12 over advancing Red Cloud’s refit schedule when he had found himself in an elevator alone with a comely Oran’taku.

    His eyes had wandered a bit, causing him to blush with embarrassment when he realized that the woman had caught him. When he attempted to apologize, she had instead told him his assistance was now needed and to expect a message in his Ready Room within the hour.

    It took Cartwright a moment for the woman’s words to sink in. She got off at the next stop. He had gone after her, but the woman had disappeared among the throng in the thoroughfare.

    Miffed, but also curious, Cartwright had returned to Red Cloud and locked himself away in his Ready Room. The message had come on the hour.

    And now Darden was talking to him. “The Klingons had secreted an agent, one surgically altered to look like a human at the shipyards. This agent stole the plans for Project Caliburn, but we caught him before he could escape.”

    “Thank God,” Cartwright said, his pulse quickening at the idea that the Klingons had gotten their hands on the super phaser schematics.

    After the disastrous results at Aldebaran III, Command had abandoned the idea. Still, he shuddered to think what the Klingons could do with them, or any other hostile power.

    Darden smiled again, and icy fingers ran down Cartwright’s back. “We’re going to give them the plans.”

    “What?” He nearly sputtered.

    “Altered a bit of course, to insure they can’t successfully develop super phaser technology,” the administrator offered.

    “That’s a big risk,” Cartwright shook his head, not believing what he was hearing. “The Klingons might be barbaric but they are not imbeciles. They are skilled, lethal warriors. If there’s one area of science I feel confident they can master, it would be the science of war.”

    “Believe me, the Directorate took that into consideration,” Darden replied. “But there was a greater concern.”

    “And what was that?” Cartwright demanded.

    “We needed a believable hook to plant our agent within Klingon Imperial Intelligence.”

    “W-What?” This time the captain did sputter. Darden grinned.

    “Our surgeons conducted all manner of procedures to see how the Klingons converted one of their own into a passable human. We are now going to do the same.”

    “How?” Cartwright asked.

    “It wasn’t easy, but we were very persuasive. The operative, Maal son of Mor’tah, eventually revealed quite a bit about his life, his House, and his time in the So’Taj.”

    “So’Taj?” Cartwright asked.

    “Their Imperial Intelligence,” Darden’s sunniness made Cartwright shiver. “He’s been a font of information. Sometimes we’ve had to force him to shut up.” The captain kept a stony exterior, but inwardly he wondered what Section 31 had to do to break down a Klingon, one likely trained to withstand torture.

    “He’s provided us enough data to execute our plan,” Darden surmised.

    “And that plan would be?”

    “We’ve surgically altered one of our agents to replace Maal,” the administrator explained. “With the destruction of their warship above Aldebaran III, the Klingons are none the wiser that their agent had been captured. Our Agent Maal will find his way back to the Empire, with legitimate-though unworkable-plans for the super phasers. This will gain him trust.”

    “And if it doesn’t?” Cartwright asked.

    Darden’s smile dimmed. Her eyes were hard as marbles. “Our brethren understand more than most the sacrifices of protecting and defending our way of life. This agent is ready to give his life, if necessary, as I am, and I know you are.”

    Cartwright nodded in agreement with that. Still he was troubled. “This sounds extremely risky, reckless even.”

    “We’re not Starfleet Intelligence,” Darden sneered, “We don’t play by the rules. We do what needs to be done, without reservation.” The woman peered at him, and the captain knew she was examining him, judging him as Alexander had done, and what she decided could mean his life or death. He stared right back at her, daring her to doubt him, even though he did have doubts.

    “If you-we-are successful and our man is implanted within Imperial Intelligence, what then?”

    Darden sat back, her gaze still on him. Her smile was spidery. “One thing you’ll learn as you go along is not to ask too many questions.”

    “Is that it then?” Cartwright was brusque.

    “You’re learning,” the administrator’s smile was infused with more warmth. “I understand it is not an easy thing that we ask of you, or any that decide to join the Section, but know that what we do is necessary, is vital to the maintenance of the Federation.”

    “I understand,” the captain said, though he wasn’t quite sure he did, or all that his decision would entail now or in the future.

    “You will be receiving over two dozen personnel that you will ferry to Deep Space Station K-7 for reassignments to new ships and duties. Insure they get there safely, and our agent will proceed from there into the Empire.”

    “Who is this agent?”

    “Ah, ah, questions,” Darden wagged her finger. “It’s best that you don’t know.”

    Cartwright frowned. He didn’t want to let the matter drop. He didn’t like another Section 31 agent on his ship, and carrying such dangerous information, without knowing their identity.

    “Listen, I know you want to press the issue,” the administrator said, “I can see it on your face, but trust me, the less you know, the better.”

    Cartwright sighed, wondering how many times he was going to hear those words from now on, and he also pondered if he would ever give them himself.

    Darden looked down for almost a minute. When she looked at him again, her smile was genuine. “We’ve moved up your refit schedule.”

    “How?” Cartwright was curious. The commodore had stuck to her guns about doing things in her pre-established order, the demands of the war be damned. Darden merely smiled.

    The captain felt that coldness again. “Know you are doing the Federation a great service,” Darden’s voice was now smooth, soothing. It immediately made Cartwright ill at ease.

    But what was he to do? He didn’t disagree with the goals of Section 31. If he had he would’ve rejected Alice’s offer. But it was their methods he was going to have to learn how to swallow.

    His memory flashed to Carol Marcus, and the hurt and anger he had seen tearing at her. There were children all over the Federation that were experiencing that agony, and families ripped apart, young people’s lives shattered beyond repair, and all because of the Klingons. And if it wasn’t the Klingons, it would be the Romulans, the Tholians, or someone else.

    His personal distaste be damned, Cartwright realized. He had duty to protect the Federation, and he would do it at all cost. “I’ll get this agent to K-7,” he promised. “No more questions asked.”

    “Thank you,” Darden said, her mind seemingly made up. “And welcome aboard.”

    THE END

    *******************************************************
    Author's Note:

    -Mor'tah is a name I got from the Klingon Name Generator. It's been a great for helping me come up with names for characters.

    -Geronimo-class is inspired by the USS Geronimo from Star Trek Axanar.

    Note to Readers:

    Thanks for going on another journey with me. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015