Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "That's Our Q"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Enterprise1981, May 9, 2012.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Historian's note: The main events of this story take place two weeks after "Raising the Stakes" and roughly concurrently with the DS9 episode "Extreme Measures".

    Opening chapter note: Aldea was the planet featured in the TNG episode "When the Bough Breaks". For the purposes of this story, Aldea is said to be in the Epsilon Minos system as in canon, while the planet Minos from "The Arsenal of Freedom" and my previous story is in the Beta Minos system.


    Planet Aldea, Epsilon Minos star system

    It was the discovery of a lifetime.

    Diggers throughout a drab desert region were continuously applying pikes and shovels to a grayish-brown rock face, trying to unearth a buried artifact. From the look of what had already been exposed, the artifact was a shiny stone structure-- perhaps an obelisk. At the bottom of the structure, where the diggers were chipping away at dirt and rock, was what appeared to be foreign script. Two of the men participating in the dig removed recording devices from their belts and placed them near the writings, hoping to translate it at a later time.

    The carbon dating of the artifact revealed it was hundreds of thousands of solar cycles old. Such a discovery would indicate that the Progenitors, the technologically advanced race who left the ancient Aldeans with everything they would ever need, had been on this planet for millennia longer than was presently believed.

    Crantor was the leader of this expedition, overseeing all aspects of the study of this artifact. Today, he was conferring with chief linguistic historian Akos about the writings on the structure. His task was to compile some type of translation matrix using languages from ancient times as a point of comparison. Based on his preliminary findings, Akos was finding the translation process a lot easier than he had anticipated.

    “We went into this whole process,” Akos explained to Crantor, “assuming this was an unfamiliar language, but with similarities to our ancient languages. I admit that was a stretch, but it was a good starting point, even though very little is known of the First Settlers. After careful examination over the last five rotations, this is, in fact, the ancient language of the First Settlers.”

    “Astonishing,” Crantor replied. He was just as fascinated by this finding as his former student. But at his advanced age, he was willing to contain his own enthusiasm. True, it provided some clue as to the origins and history of Aldea’s first humanoid inhabitants. His years as a professor of archeology had taught Crantor humility. Prior to this discovery, his hypotheses about the First Settlers were nothing more than unfounded conjecture in the scientific community. Add to that, his line of work was largely discouraged for many millennia, as their leaders saw very little incentive to broaden the boundaries of their knowledge. Only recently did the planetary government discover that the technology left behind by the Progenitors was rendering the inhabitants sterile.

    Crantor was lost in these thoughts when Akos began reciting what each of the phrases at the bottom of the obelisk said. “This one says, ‘The time of the beginning’,” the young man said of one of the inscriptions. “And… and this one says ‘The proliferation of future generations’. This one…” He consulted an electronic pad to double-check his translation program.

    “What?” Crantor asked, sensing an ominous tone in his former pupil’s voice. “What does it say?”

    “It says,” Akos said with a slight stutter, “‘Approach with extreme caution.’”

    Those words diverted the attention of nearby diggers, who were not certain whether they should continue their work. Before Crantor, Akos, or anyone else in the near vicinity could speak, the ground began rumbling. Many of the diggers scrambled away from the obelisk as the ground quakes became harder and faster. Akos escorted Crantor away from the rock face as the obelisk slowly rose out of the ground, sending down chards of stone from the top of the cliff.

    The obelisk was now towering hundreds of meters above the people who were previously trying to dig it out of the ground. Many of them stared in awe, wondering what kind of advanced technology had just been unearthed.

    At the top of the obelisk, a red light flashed five times at varying durations. The flashes were a message sent to a rectangular-shaped ship with spires jutting out from the top, bottom, and sides that was hiding in the star system’s asteroid belt.


    “Like I said, your Exalted One,” said a masculine voice of someone observing what had transpired on Aldea. “This is only the beginning.”

    “Q,” replied an elderly feminine voice, “they have only just begun to grow out of their infancy. We are still sworn not to interfere in their affairs.”

    “Yes, I know,” Q scoffed. “They would have learned nothing if we had simply cured them of their sterility. Picard and his lackeys proved smarter than I previously gave them credit for, considering that was after Riker refused my gift. But their race’s survival is not all that is at stake here. The future of all the mortal races hangs in the balance.”

    “What do you propose, Q?” the Q matriarch skeptically asked.

    “Seek an audience with one of the human ship captains. That may be difficult considering they’re busy fighting some silly war for reasons both sides have probably forgotten. But still, I have demonstrated the human potential to move beyond petty questions of property and territory, the compulsion to improve themselves, to expand the depths of their knowledge. I am certain to get one of them to listen to me.”

    “Proceed as you wish, Q. And needless to say, you must still tread carefully.”

    “Of course, of course…”
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  2. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter One

    “How dare you! How dare you invoke civil liberties when your people trample on the principles the Federation stands for.”

    Limis Vircona was viewing security footage of her confrontation with Section 31 agent Ziminske Aris two months ago. Ziminske had been caught working to devise a cure for a virus the secret bureau had unleashed on the Founders of the Dominion, and was promptly arrested. Having once professed her disdain for Section 31 as an organization within the Federation, of all Alpha Quadrant powers, believing it could play god, Limis had hoped to get more out of Ziminske. Her extreme interrogation techniques proved fruitless, and Ziminske was eventually killed while attempting escape when her shuttle exploded.

    What was puzzling about this particular footage was that Limis had used her security authorization to disable all recording devices in the room after having dismissed all the security personnel stationed in one of Starbase G-6’s detention cells. So where did this video recording originate? And if it was a recompilation of deeply buried computer data, why were no imperfections in the video and audio quality apparent in the playback?

    With Section 31, she knew, almost anything was possible. Limis stared at the freeze-framed image of herself holding the pin of a Bajoran earring to Ziminske’s nose ridges, threatening to see how good that particular alteration was, as Admiral Edward Jellico glared at her. “This is very incriminating evidence,” he warned, “considering Commander Ziminske escaped in a shuttle that was destroyed soon afterwards. ‘Killed while attempting escape’ is one of the oldest tricks in the book.”

    Limis remained calm and collected, even as she had nothing to hide, knowing that under Starfleet rules of jurisprudence, this was not definitive evidence. “I shouldn’t have to remind you, sir,” she said calmly, but firmly, while emphatically pointing at the wall mounted monitor in Jellico’s office, “that this incident does not constitute evidence of murder.”

    “No, it doesn’t,” Jellico plainly replied. “But the investigation is far from closed. I have tolerated your impulsive methods and your various off-book missions. And Admiral Ross even had you let you off the hook for the torture and murder of Mirren Hadar, having classified him an enemy combatant. And because you are so good at what you do, you will be allowed to remain on duty for the duration of the war. But if there is more to this evidence, I will see you brought before a court martial for taking matters into your own hands like this based on… delusions of a rogue organization within Starfleet. By your medical officer’s own accounts, Commander Ziminske acted alone.”

    That’s a bald-faced lie, Limis wanted to say to him. In that moment, she was glad that his counterpart in a parallel universe was dead and even more pleased that she had caused his death. His choice of words had suggested he was with Section 31 just like the other Jellico. And whatever additional evidence was being trumped up against Limis seemed like a convenient way for 31 to remove a recent source of annoyance.

    “Whatever you say,” Limis acerbically shot back. “But I’m not there yet.” And with that, she made a quick beeline to the wide double-doors leading into the corridor.

    “I haven’t dismissed you yet, Captain,” Jellico snarled.

    Limis stopped and sighed while resisting the urge to make an obscene gesture her superior’s way. She took a deep breath and slowly sauntered out.

    Jellico rolled his eyes and flung a padd on the desk while muttering, “Dismissed.”


    Shinar sh’Aqba felt as if Chaz Logan was constantly looking over her shoulder. While she wasn’t demoted from the position of chief engineer, the mere presence of the Seventh Fleet’s senior engineer to oversee the reverse engineering of computer components that controlled automated weapon drones was still unnerving. The words “supervised duty” were constantly on her mind while she was putting the finishing touches on rearranging isolinear data chips and securing connections between an open ODN access port and alien circuit boards. That had been the case since her romantic interludes with Erhlich Tarlazzi had caused her to be late to many of her duty shifts. Even knowing that Logan was part of the salvage team dispatched to Minos, Shinar still felt that Logan was watching over her, waiting for the slightest little slip-up on her part.

    She felt a slight pain in her forehead while she used a tricorder to scan the wiring connecting the ship’s optical data network to the alien circuitry to make sure the two normally incompatible computer systems would not overload each other. She continuously felt waves of dizziness and knots in her stomach, as if she would regurgitate her last meal. She took slow and deep breaths, hoping to ease the symptoms, if only temporarily. Even if she was ill, Shinar told herself she could not afford to miss any time from her duties.

    Sh’Aqba returned to reality when she saw Logan pass by from the corner of her eye. She began working a portable console to check the status of the new circuit connections between the deflector and the transporter array.

    “Are we ready to begin those field tests yet?” Logan inquired, while sh’Aqba was keeping her eyes on the monitor in order to hide her face from the other engineers in the room.

    “Just one more adjustment,” sh’Aqba responded while gently brushing sweat from her brow. She stepped over to another open ODN port and used a tool to reinforce the connector cords used to make the alien technology compatible with Starfleet deflector emitters. She again became dizzy and lightheaded. She clasped the wall with one hand to try to regain her balance. “We’re ready.”

    “Activating deflector,” Logan announced as he entered a set of activation commands at a nearby console.

    Various consoles and circuits hummed to life. But as quickly as the modified deflector emitters activated, some of the circuits overloaded and quickly shorted out. Sh’Aqba groaned in frustration and grabbed one of the alien circuit boards, flinging it across the room.

    “We were lucky we could reverse engineer the components into the captain’s yacht at all before they eventually fried everything,” Logan assured her. “And with fewer technological resources on the fly.”

    Sh’Aqba was feeling even more disoriented with throbbing pains in her head and her antennae were almost like wilting flowers. Logan’s voice was sounding more like a distant echo. She clutched the wall again to try to keep her balance, but she quickly fell to the deck.

    “That’s just the beginning of it,” Logan was saying through all this. “We’re not sure if the technology can be replicated…” His voice trailed off once sh’Aqba fell to the deck with a thud.

    “Sh’Aqba,” he gasped. He raced over to her limp body and kneeled down to feel her forehead as other engineers nearby were standing and watching with concerned looks on their faces. Her forehead felt very warm as if she was experiencing a high fever. Logan then tapped his combadge to call for immediate assistance. “Sickbay. This is Logan. I have a medical emergency in deflector control.”


    Aurellan Markalis had never been on very many dates during her lifetime. And so anything classified as a date with any male suitor seemed very surreal. Perhaps it was also the mood set by the slightly dimmed lighting in her quarters, the flames from the two candles perched on the glass table in the center of the living area and the soft jazz music playing in the background. Both were out of uniform. The Mark III was dressed in a suit consisting of midnight blue trousers and a matching jacket over a black buttoned-down shirt.

    Aurellan was wearing a form-fitting, but still very modest-looking, red dress that extended down just below her knees, where her legs were covered down to her feet with a pair of red stockings. Complemented with a pair of flat-soled maroon shoes, it was an outfit that the replicator files described as “sexy without showing a lot of skin.”

    She still felt a measure of embarrassment being on a dinner date with a hologram. That was one way that the desperate and the lonely sought companionship, but the experience seemed ultimately artificial. Like a story she read during her childhood, Aurellan was now the girl in love with a robot. But the EMH-Mark III was no ordinary hologram. In addition to serving as a permanent member of the medical staff, he had also been programmed to interact with the rest of the crew on a personal level. Though he could still come off emotionally distant, arrogant, and sarcastic, he was far more personable than the previous EMH models. And that helped Aurellan to see this EMH as more of a person, who looked at various forms of human social idiosyncrasies through the eyes of an outsider, rather than a computer program.

    “This was still a little excessive,” the EMH remarked as he moved around barely eaten food on his plate with a fork. “It’s not as if I need holographic food to sustain my program.”

    “True,” Aurellan replied with a smile as she took small sips of white wine. “But it’s preferable to you staring at me and counting how many times I chew.”

    “Couldn’t the ship’s reserves be used for something more productive?”

    Aurellan grinned in amusement that the Mark III still behaved in a lot of ways like a sophisticated computer program. “Your holo-matrix contains eight redundant memory buffers to give you as many new subroutines as are needed,” she explained while letting the last of the wine drip out of the bottle into her glass.

    “Still seems dishonest.”

    “Let’s hope you don’t need seven hundred one terraquads of new medical subroutines,” Aurellan quipped. She raised her glass in a toast. “To a lovely evening with a wonderful man.”

    The EMH raised his glass and they clinked their glasses.

    The mood still seemed artificial and her words forced. As swept up as Aurellan was in the elation of her surroundings, she still got this sense that the holographic doctor was simply doing what she wanted of him.

    “Speaking of new subroutines…” He stood up, circled the table, and extended his right hand towards Aurellan. “May I have this dance?”

    That caught her by surprise. “I don’t dance,” she protested with a nervous grin.

    “I’ll lead.”

    She gently set aside the napkin in her lap, stood up, and took slow steps towards the Mark III. The nervousness gave way to joy, elation, and adoration as she clasped her left hand on his right hand and set her right hand on his left shoulder. She felt a wave of euphoria across her body when he placed his free hand on her right hip. Her blue eyes twinkled as if she was a teenage girl around her first crush.

    They held each other close as they moved in a slow clockwise motion. Aurellan rested her head on the hologram’s chest while he wrapped both his arms around her shoulders. She felt no heartbeat in his chest, but in that moment, he wasn’t a hologram to her.

    Aurellan stared into the EMH’s eyes and caressed his cheek with one hand. Their heads inched closer together, and they kissed. As their lips remained pursed against each other’s, the comm chimed.

    “Doctor Markalis,” said a feminine voice on the speakers. “You’re needed in sickbay.”

    Aurellan pulled herself away from her companion with a mortified look on her face, as if someone had walked in on her and the EMH having sex. “I’m on my way,” she said, with a slight stutter. She pushed a button on the desk to close the channel, but then froze, as if not certain what to do next. “I’ll change into uniform while you go to sickbay first,” she instructed the EMH. And before he could speak, she entered a command on the keypad to transfer his program to sickbay.


    Markalis manically paced into the sickbay’s primary intensive unit where the Mark III and a Denobulan female nurse were examining sh’Aqba on one of the main biobeds. The holographic doctor was preparing an intravenous pack while instructing the nurse. Once he had finished setting up the equipment, the nurse gave him a padd that was in her hand. He consulted the padd while handing Aurellan a medical tricorder.

    “Severe dehydration,” the EMH said while Aurellan scanned the patient with the tricorder. “Body temperature five degrees above normal. I’ve prepared a set of differential diagnoses. Turrelian fever. Possible parasitic infection.”

    Aurellan looked up from her tricorder while seemingly oblivious to the holographic doctor’s hypotheses. “She’s pregnant,” she confidently stated.

    “Or she’s pregnant,” the EMH repeated with a partial shrug.

    Aurellan sighed, feeling tempted to disable some of his vocal subroutines.

    Note: The final scene of this chapter was meant as a parody of the differential diagnosis approach depicted in most episodes of the medical drama "House", starring Hugh Laurie, who "plays" the EMH-Mark III in this series.
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Two

    Trelzak stood in front of a holographic communication system briefing his employer from five hundred years in the future.
    The Sindareen pirate was now the leader of a faction in the Temporal Cold War after Tor Vot was killed on Minos when Captain Limis and her team escaped his custody. Even though part of the expedition there had been successful, Trelzak’s contact still had a few harsh words for him. He could only communicate back into the past, with a black silhouette projection of himself appearing on a holographic generator.

    “My associates still fulfilled the primary mission,” Trelzak insisted. He stammered nervously, but remained at a loss for further words. “And that it did succeed was rather unexpected considering Tor Vot’s incompetence in past assignments…” His words slowly trailed off with the realization that his contact from the future wouldn’t buy his disparaging of his former superior.

    “Too much could have still gone wrong on the fourth planet of the Beta Minos system,” replied an ominous baritone voice from the holographic generator. “Thankfully, the activation of the relays on the fifth planet of Epsilon Minos did not require much direct action. Activating the relays in Sector 3785 without arousing suspicions will be more difficult.”

    “That’s near the Federation-Romulan border,” Trelzak recalled from his recent study of a Federation star chart.

    “Precisely. I will not be as lenient as I was with your predecessor, should you fail at your upcoming task.”

    “I promise you I will not fail you,” Trelzak coyly answered with a stutter, as if he were suddenly afraid for his life.


    Green laser bolts fired at small asteroids, blowing them to bits.

    The USS Lambda Paz was situated in an asteroid field to test the reverse engineered weapon system salvaged from the planet Minos. The near impossible-to-detect weapon drones were positioned to port and starboard, firing at asteroids. Once a few of the asteroids were destroyed, two shuttles swooped in and fired phasers at the extrapolated location of the drones.

    “That’s ten misses now with still no hits,” a masculine voice reported over the ship-to-ship comm-lines.

    “That’s enough for today,” Ronnie Kozar replied. “Return to base.” He paced from the tactical station to the two command chairs. He looked at Limis, who gave an approving nod.

    “End simulation,” Limis added.

    Less than a second later, a chime sounded at ops. The Tellarite ensign at the port station saw his communications board blinking. “We’re picking up a distress call, Captain,” Goris misch Rev reported. “A disabled Federation freighter just over a light year from our position.”

    Limis leaned back in her chair and arched her head towards M’Rev. “Any other ships in the area?” she inquired.

    “Six Starfleet signatures in a five light-year radius, sir,” M’Rev plainly replied, “but we’re the closest and in the best shape to mount a rescue.”

    Limis then turned her eyes to the helm, where Rebecca Sullivan was seated. “Ensign Sullivan, fix source coordinates and lay in a course at warp nine,” she instructed. “Mister Morrison, are we in any position to take on a Jem’Hadar armada on our own?”

    “No, we’re not,” Mandel Morrison candidly answered. “But the message does indicate that unexplained gravimetric energy fluctuations disabled the ship, not a Dominion attack.”

    “It could still be a carefully laid trap,” Kozar offered.

    “That we know all too well,” Limis agreed, remembering numerous instances where the ship had been lured in with fake distress calls. “Mister Morrison, notify all other ships in the best position to mount a rescue. You and M’Rev, keep an eye out for Dominion and Dominion-allied ships on long-range sensors. And make sure the region is clear of ‘unexplained gravimetric energy fluctuations.’”

    Kozar leaned over the right arm of his chair to address the captain more privately. “Captain, you’re not suggesting abandoning rescue at the first sign of danger?” he asked in a hushed tone.

    “I’m trying to be practical, Kozar,” Limis replied with a hissing whisper. “What good would it do to come to a downed freighter’s rescue if we are disabled or destroyed, along with those who follow us and those who follow them? We’ll cross that Kobayashi Maru bridge when we get to it.” She then looked back at ops to issue additional orders. “Monitor all comm frequencies for any follow-up hails, Mister M’Rev. I don’t want to be caught off guard.”


    A little less than half an hour later, much of the bridge crew was still at their stations— Morrison at tactical, Sullivan at conn, M’Rev at ops. Erhlich Tarlazzi was now at the port mission ops station, while Logan and a Denobulan male engineering officer were at port engineering. Limis and Kozar sat silently in their two respective command chairs waiting to hear something.

    Even though this would be the third time she would be asking, Limis arched her head at tactical hoping to fill the long silence throughout the bridge. “Any sign of Dominion ships within half a light year?” she asked Morrison, as if expecting the same answer as before. On the other hand, maybe they were hiding and there would be some clue on someone’s sensor readings. Or the worst-case scenario was that enemy ships were hiding and they wouldn’t know it until they were on top of them.

    “No, sir,” Morrison flatly replied.

    Looking over to the helm, she then asked, “Time to intercept the freighter?”

    “Ten minutes,” Rebecca answered.

    Limis entered a set of calculations on the keypad to the right of her chair. “Increase speed to warp nine point six,” she commanded after the display indicated the ship would reach the freighter a lot sooner at that velocity.

    “Any unusually high gravimetric energy readings in that vicinity?” Kozar asked both M’Rev and Tarlazzi.

    “None, sir,” Tarlazzi replied. “All energy readings within specified norms.”

    “Logan,” added Kozar, “be ready to route as much auxiliary power as you can to the shields in case that changes.”

    “No problem, sir,” Logan deftly responded. He then turned to the other officer at the station with a few instructions.
    “Approaching the freighter,” Rebecca called.

    “Take us out of warp,” Limis ordered, “slow to half impulse.”

    Morrison looked up from his console while comm chimes were growing faster and more frequent. “They’re hailing us,” he said. To summarize the rather coarse language appearing on his comm panel, he added, “The freighter’s captain is demanding to speak to you.”

    “Put it up,” the captain eagerly instructed, though expecting the freighter’s captain to be plenty pissed off judging from Morrison’s ominous tone. “This is Captain Limis Vircona, USS Lambda Paz. How may we be of assistance?”

    A portly Tellarite with a long scraggly beard and nostrils wide enough to see nose hairs suddenly appeared on the screen. His grumpiness made every person on the bridge cringe. Some were resisting the urge to look over at M’Rev after brief reminders to themselves that he wouldn’t know the freighter captain simply because they were both Tellarites.

    “Freight-master Glar,” the freighter captain groaned. “I sent a distress call an hour ago. What took you so long?”

    “Our tardiness couldn’t be helped,” Limis replied with a silent reminder to herself not to offer an explicit apology. “We had to make sure we weren’t being lured in with a fake distress call. Or that we weren’t facing the exact same danger you were. You know the drill.”

    “I’m a merchant, not a soldier, dear lady,” Glar spat. He was slurring his almost as if he was intoxicated. “Still seems Starfleet is too concerned with their own safety to help a lowly freighter these days.”

    “We’re here now,” Limis reassured the grumpy Tellarite. “We’ll be sending repair teams to your vessel.”

    “I should hope so. My second will make sure they don’t break anything else while I’ll come aboard to explain our predicament. Screen off.”

    Even knowing Glar’s rudeness was a Tellarite cultural idiosyncrasy, many of the bridge officers still seemed put out by his disposition, and they exchanged a few muddled stares and light eye rolls.

    “Charming by Tellarite standards,” Morrison remarked.

    Kozar grinned as he opened a comm channel at his keypad. “Bridge to transporter bays: we’re sending away teams to the freighter. And prepare to receive a guest from the freighter.”
    “Acknowledged, sir,” a feminine voice replied on the speakers.

    Limis, Kozar, and Tarlazzi then gathered near the engineering station with Logan. With sh’Aqba’s recent illness, Tarlazzi was now the senior engineer. But since he was also on supervised duty, he had to deal with Logan looking over his shoulder. He kept glancing over at Logan, hoping that the commander would not be included in any of the repair teams even though he knew better.

    “Is Lieutenant sh’Aqba fit to return to duty?” Kozar inquired.

    “Yes, sir,” Logan replied. “But she’s restricted to lighter duties for the next three days.”

    “What exactly is wrong with her?” Tarlazzi asked.

    “Just a bout of the flu,” Limis hurriedly replied, as if she didn’t know that for sure, but wanted to give the lieutenant a concrete explanation for sh’Aqba having fallen ill. “That’s why you’ll lead the repair crews. Logan, you’ll supervise.”

    Tarlazzi scoffed and shook his head in annoyance as he trudged towards the port turbolift. “Like I need a fragging babysitter,” he muttered.

    “What was that, Lieutenant?” Kozar demanded, having heard the tail end of what Tarlazzi was muttering.

    Tarlazzi stopped, turned around, and looked at Kozar, then Limis. “Nothing, sirs,” he said with a professional tone. He continued towards the turbolift, shaking his head in annoyance. Shinar would not even be part of any of the repair teams, yet he was being kept on a short leash. Maybe he was being closely observed as an assurance that whatever was afflicting Shinar was not a source of distraction. Whatever the reasoning, this situation still seemed unfair after the proverbial training wheels had been removed, even though his own indiscretions resulted in his duties being closely monitored.



    Shinar Sh’Aqba did not know how to process that news while she was seated in one of the guest chair’s in the chief medical officer’s office. Her relationship with Erhlich was the one thing in her life that did not seem like a very huge responsibility. And now Doctor Markalis sent that notion crashing down with this news. Having children hadn’t been something Shinar had seriously considered even when she was facing the pressure of strictly adhering Andorian marriage and mating traditions, and so becoming pregnant was the farthest thing from her mind. To add insult to injury, carrying a non-Andorian’s child without outside medical assistance seemed highly improbable.

    “Yes,” Aurellan dispassionately replied. “You’ve been subjecting yourself to a lot of stress lately. But now you’re responsible for two lives. You have to take it easy.”

    True, doctors had to maintain a certain emotional distance from their patients. However, the tone in Aurellan’s voice seemed to indicated a complete lack of empathy for Shinar’s current situation. But that was beside the point. “No, no,” Shinar said with a shake of her head. “I’m on a tight leash because of my repeated tardiness for my shifts. I have to observe each and every one of them.”

    “Not when your health and the health of your unborn child are at risk,” Aurellan insisted.

    “That’s the least of it. You are aware that Andorians have four sexes?”

    “I am a Starfleet doctor.”

    Sh’Aqba knew that response was a yes and continued. “Then you know that shens are nothing more than go-betweens in the sheltreth,” she explained. “Mating in groups of four is still largely encouraged even after genetic damage resulting from a radiation disaster fifty thousand years ago has largely subsided.

    “I am familiar with your race’s biological idiosyncrasies,” Markalis said with a nod. “You won’t be able to carry the baby to term, though. In cases of tezha that involve a shen, the couple usually calls on a zhen to act as a surrogate. So you’ll have to three to four months to find a surrogate.”
    Sh’Aqba stood up and faced away from the doctor with a sigh. “If only it were that simple,” she lamented.

    “What do you mean?” Aurellan asked with a look of confusion.

    “Ever since I announced my intention not to go through with the bonding ceremony,” Shinar explained while still looking away, “my family wants nothing to do with me. I am an outcast. Finding a surrogate will be very difficult, if not impossible.”

    “I don’t want to get involved in your personal affairs. But for medical record keeping purposes, do you know who the father might be?”

    Shinar took a long look through the entryway to the sickbay’s primary ICU, then through the entryway into the lab. Once satisfied that no one else was within earshot, she looked straight at Aurellan. “Lieutenant Tarlazzi,” she confidently answered. While Starfleet doctors were sworn to uphold doctor-patient confidentiality, she did not want to take any risks that someone might overhear and this news would get to Erhlich before she could tell him.

    “You’re certain?” Aurellan skeptically asked.

    “It’s two weeks, right?”

    Aurellan silently nodded.

    “Then yes.” Shinar turned her back to Aurellan again and headed for the corridor exit.

    Markalis circled her desk and took a few steps closer to sh’Aqba. “I am not obligated to inform him,” she reminded the Andorian woman. “But will you?”

    “I don’t know,” sh’Aqba stammered while staring at the door in front of her. “I never wanted it to come to this…” At this very moment, she could not face anyone. She simply stepped through the doorway once the doors parted without saying another word.


    “We were on a routine freight run from Rigel Twelve to Sentinel Minor Four when, out of nowhere, our warp field collapsed.”

    Glar sat at one end of the meeting table in the briefing room explaining how his freighter became disabled. At the other end of the table, closest to the viewport, was Limis, with Kozar at her right and M’Rev at her left. During Glar’s description of events, he and M’Rev exchanged snorts of derision, which would usually suggest to most observers that the two Tellarites had some kind of ongoing adversarial relationship. But being aware of the argumentative nature of Tellarite social interactions, the human and the Bajoran in the room knew to ignore it.

    “Suddenly,” Glar continued, “there were these high levels of gravimetric energy that weren’t there before. All of our systems were winking out one at a time. Our propulsion systems went off-line. It was almost like we were being sucked into… something. Then whatever was disabling our ship was gone. Problem is, our sensors aren’t as sophisticated as those on this fine ship of yours.”

    Limis still couldn’t help but roll her eyes when she heard sarcasm in Glar’s voice when complementing her ship. “Mister M’Rev is our resident astrophysics expert,” she said nodding to the ensign on her left. “He has a few preliminary findings.”

    “I have a hard time believing a lowly ensign is an expert on anything,” Glar retorted.

    “As a member of Starfleet, I have more expertise than you could only dream of achieving in your entire lifetime,” M’Rev shot back while working a padd in front of him. “The levels of gravimetric energy are consistent with those of the Nexus.” Sensing another insult on the tip of Glar’s tongue, M’Rev looked sternly in his direction while addressing his superior officers. “It won’t pass through our galaxy again for another thirty-five years, but it does provide us with a point of comparison to this phenomenon.”

    “Any theories as to why everything suddenly returned to normal?” Limis asked, trying to avoid Glar’s contemptuous glare.

    “None,” M’Rev replied while also trying not to look in Glar’s direction.

    “Perhaps this plargush isn’t as smart as he thinks,” Glar offered.

    “Furthermore,” Kozar chimed in. “Mister Morrison has advised all ships in this sector and adjacent sectors to keep an eye out for this phenomenon. Two Starfleet vessels have already reported seeing atypical gravimetric energy readings. One of them has intercepted communications chatter about gravimetric spikes as far as the Romulan border.”

    Kozar slid a padd over to Limis with containing additional data on what he had just reported. She took glances at both of them and nodded even though she could not entirely make sense of all the numbers being displayed.

    “Mister M’Rev,” she said, returning the padd he had previously given her with Kozar’s, “compile a database on these occurrences. See if there’s any kind of pattern and determine the worst possible danger they pose. Number One, escort Mister Glar back to his ship. Dismissed.”

    Kozar rose from his seat and took a few steps towards Glar. The Tellarite captain snickered while mumbling, “Like I need to lead about like some gumpa.”

    “This way, sir,” Kozar plainly said, indicating the side entrance with his right hand. The commander then sauntered towards the doorway, and Glar obligingly followed.


    Limis continued studying the data Kozar and M’Rev had provided her, which had been copied to a padd in her hand. She was so caught up in what was on the screen at the moment of entry into the ready room, that she did not see the shadow of a humanoid figure creeping up on her. She looked up, and was startled to see a youthful looking man seated behind the desk.

    In terms of appearance, he was mostly human. He also had barely visible markings running from his temples and his neck, indicating some Trill ancestry, and less pronounced ridges on the bridge of his nose than those of Limis’s.

    “Hello again, Captain,” Jonas Grabowski said both cheerfully and professionally.

    Chapter End Notes: Tezha refers to Andorian mating in groups of two, as opposed to shel'treth involving groups of four.

    Plargush is a Tellarite derogatory term for the elite members of their society.

    Gumpa based on the context in which it was uttered roughly translates as "drunk bum".
  4. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Three

    Limis was not sure how to respond to this unexpected visitor, a time traveler from seven hundred years in the future. Jonas Grabowski had come to her rescue on two different occasions. The first was to help her escape Sindareen custody, and the second to prevent Limis from surrendering herself to a vengeful Cardassian, which wound up altering Grabowski’s history. The time travel technology allowing such a jump to the thirty-first century had paradoxically ceased to exist, and Limis was able to return to the present through the Orb of Time. As long as this visitor was not a representative of Section 31, Limis was in the mood to be more jocular.

    “After our night of passionate bliss,” she said with a teasing grin, “I don’t see you for nearly a year. You didn’t call, you didn’t write. Then you just show up out of the blue, and all you have to say is, ‘Hello again, Captain?’"

    “I have no knowledge of what you are describing,” Grabowski plainly stated. “I never experienced that timeline.”

    “Too bad not all men can use that excuse.”

    “Just consider it an aberration.”

    After a flash in front of the sofa, a man who appeared human dressed in a Starfleet uniform appeared. He was tall and thin, with medium length curly dark hair. “Oh, if you only knew how many of his ‘aberrations’ I’ve had to correct,” he said acerbically.

    Grabowski swiveled his chair to the right to address the newest visitor. “Q, stay out of this,” he grumbled.

    “When your organization tampers with something you could barely begin to understand?” Q retorted with a scoff. “I made sure you didn’t cause any irreparable damage from your little tryst with her. You may be more enlightened than the humans I’m accustomed to dealing with, but you still think with your reproductive organs.”

    Limis immediately recognized her latest guest. All Starfleet captains were briefed about the individual known as Q, but Limis had always hoped, given his reputation, that she would never cross paths with him—an unrealistic expectation, if ever there was one. “So you’re the infamous Q I’ve heard about,” she said. “And I’m sure Mister Grabowski is here to discuss some very important matters.”

    “Infamous?” Q repeated with feigned shock. “But I am rather flattered that your Starfleet briefs its captains about little old me, especially after all the fun I’ve had with Jean-Luc and his entourage over the years. But I digress.” He took a few steps towards the desk and pointed to Grabowski. “His incompetence nearly led to disaster before. So how could you possibly comprehend what he has to tell you?”

    “Possibly because we ‘mere mortals’ have already surpassed your expectations on multiple occasions,” Limis offered.

    “She’s got you there, Q,” Grabowski suggested. “Now if you don’t mind, I have a few things I’d like to discuss with Captain Limis.”

    “Fine,” Q said with a sarcastic chuckle. “I’ll just leave and pretend as if you’re not one little crisis away from causing a disaster of intergalactic proportion.” And in another flash, he disappeared.

    Limis rolled her eyes after Q was gone and looked back at Grabowski. “Now that he’s gone,” she said, “you were saying…?”

    “I’m here strictly on business,” Grabowski began. Q reappeared behind him. He leaned over Grabowski’s shoulder, mimicking his lip movements. Jonas simply ignored him and continued addressing Limis. “Officially, I’m not authorized to tell you this.”

    “And unofficially?” Limis asked.

    “I can… should I say… nudge you in the right direction.”

    Q appeared next to Limis and rolled his eyes as if asking, “Is that code for something?”

    “I did break plenty of rules by bringing you into my century,” Grabowski continued, “and I’m on a very serious probation because of that.”

    Q suddenly appeared behind the desk, leaning against the wall, but Limis and Grabowski continued ignoring him and focused on each other. “So am I,” he scoffed, “but that doesn’t stop me.”

    “So you wouldn’t be here if both our futures weren’t at stake?” Limis surmised.

    “Precisely,” Grabowski plainly stated with a nod. “A faction in the Temporal Cold War intends to unleash a force that would insure total victory for the Dominion. And I don’t simply mean the conquests of Earth, Qo’Nos, Romulus, and their surrounding core worlds. Half of the stars in this region and beyond would go dark, creating the most devastating refugee crisis in galactic history.”

    “And they say I exaggerate?” Q muttered.

    Ignoring Q’s running commentary, Grabowski kept his focus on Limis and the desk monitor. “I have information that can stop that from happening.” He turned the monitor around in Limis’s direction, eliciting her eyes to widen.

    Q disappeared, and then reappeared next to Limis staring at the display on the monitor. “That’s fascinating,” he remarked, “but you forgot to carry the seven.”

    “Just one question,” Limis asked Grabowski. “How can you be certain I will not use this information and information you’ve already given me to advance my own agenda, to make history unfold in a way other than it has for you?”

    “I am keeping all pertinent information on a need-to-know basis this time around,” Grabowski explained. “And this is certainly information you need to know. If you were still to pass this on to any third parties, my associates will be along to minimize any damage you would cause. Good luck, Captain. I hope this data does prove useful.”

    Grabowski swiveled the chair around and when it completed its clockwise turn, he was gone. But Q was still standing next to her, flashing a taunting smile.

    Limis continued to ignore him, silently hoping that the data on the screen would prove useful even though she didn’t have the first clue what it meant. All that was really registering in her mind was that this data was a means of preventing a major galactic crisis worse than that being wrought by the Dominion.

    Kozar, M’Rev, and Sullivan convened in engineering to discuss what Goris had so far compiled regarding the occurrences of gravimetric energy.

    A screen on a console in the engineering section’s main entryway showed a star map, centered on the current position of the Lambda Paz, indicated by a Starfleet delta. All the surrounding star systems on the map were labeled, while the locations that experienced gravimetric spikes were highlighted in red.

    “So far, no discernible pattern,” M’Rev commented of the highlighted regions, which were dispersed very haphazardly across the map. “The only common thread is four such occurrences in this sector.”

    “What about unusual astronomical phenomena that’s naturally occurring?” Kozar inquired.

    Rebecca keyed a sequence to call up additional data on the map’s marked locations. "We've had to tie into various starbase library computers since more comprehensive astrometric databases weren’t a priority for this ship,” she explained in response to Kozar’s look of confusion that the requested data was slow in loading. “It may a bit longer…” Her voice started to trail off once all of the requested data was on the screen. “Here we go. System K-436 experiences occasional ion storms. Sector forty-seven by four by eight has a few minor quasar-like phenomena.”

    “While there’s nothing in this sector other than stars that would cause such high graviton emissions,” Kozar added while shaking his head in frustration.

    “Correct,” Goris affirmed. “So as I said before, no discernible pattern.”

    “I may be able to help with that,” came a familiar feminine voice. Limis had already entered engineering and heard M’Rev’s concise synopsis of the data she had asked him to analyze. She had copied the data Grabowski had given her to an isolinear data chip, which she had in her hand. She quickly strutted up to the display screen and slipped the chip into a data port at the bottom of the monitor. Almost instantaneously, other locations on the star map were highlighted. The areas that experienced unusual gravimetric energy spikes were connected by a straight line to a nearby star system. Each of those star systems were connected by a perfect circle. Yet another location at the center of that circle was highlighted with data appearing below it.

    The four of them instantly recognized that particular location at the center of the circle. “All equidistant from the Dyson Sphere we encountered last year,” Kozar observed aloud.


    Immediately after adding the final piece of the puzzle regarding the unexplained graviton spikes, Limis contacted Admiral Temlek of the Romulan Star Navy, who served as commander of the Romulan forces in the Seventh Fleet.

    Under the terms of the Federation’s military alliance with the Romulan Star Empire, the Tal Shiar disclosed details of covert activities in Federation space. Having dealt with Section 31 and the Obsidian Order, on the other hand, Limis still suspected that the Tal Shiar kept a few such operations off the record. That the attempted reverse engineering of pilfered Dominion technology on the Dyson Sphere was one of those off-book operations was a very strong possibility. Limis still had to go through official channels before investigating what role the Dyson Sphere played in a force that would darken most of the stars, as Grabowski put it.

    “We have no record of any military or intelligence activities on this so-called Dyson Sphere,” Temlek stated with the calmness of a Vulcan. Limis knew that was only an act since Romulans were notorious for denying that their behavior was consistent with that of a Vulcan. “We would have disclosed that information, as well as any progress made in integrating Dominion technological advances into our ships, with the Federation as part of our alliance.”

    “I understand perfectly,” Limis replied with her best poker face. “But of course, there are extremist elements within the Tal Shiar who oppose the alliance despite Chairman Koval’s sudden change of heart. I’m sure your government would not mind if we conducted an investigation of an area that is on our side of the Neutral Zone.”

    “Except the sector in question is under Romulan protection,” Temlek offered, starting to become impatient. “As a show of good faith, we have been allowed to conduct our affairs there as we see fit. I can assure you in no uncertain times that snooping around will not be tolerated.” Then with a devious smile, he added. “Good day, Captain.”

    “Same to you, Admiral,” Limis replied. Once the admiral signed off, she scoffed. Clearly he was hiding something if he was being that emphatic in denying permission. Another thought that came to mind was the convenience of the Romulans driving away Dominion forces in the sector where the Dyson Sphere was located. Perhaps it was the result of back door deal Section 31 made with the Romulans.

    Speaking of Section 31, her messages to Cole had gone unanswered. Perhaps her assumption that the agency wanted nothing more to do with her after bringing to light their role in the disease that was killing the Founders was true. A text message from Starfleet Intelligence, though, did appear on the briefing room’s monitor. It stated that it could not authorize any kind of investigation in the sector where the Dyson Sphere was located, and even added that an off-book black ops mission could go wrong and jeopardize the alliance. Now that was rather curious, Limis mused.

    “Oh, diplomatic red tape,” said a familiar voice from the other end of the table. “It’s so terribly inconvenient.”

    Limis turned her chair around to see Q seated at the other end of the table and glancing out of the viewports with a dumfounded look on his face. She shook her head in annoyance and stacked up three padds perched at the edge of the table. “I’m busy, Q,” she huffed. “Why don’t you go pester some Jem’Hadar?”

    “Oh, yes,” Q snorted. “You’re busy. Your crew’s busy. Everyone is busy. When is anyone not busy? Why do you even ask some admiral’s permission? You’ll just do it anyway.”

    “I have a better question,” Limis said while looking Q intently. “You could just snap your fingers and make all these problems go away—the war, whatever is happening with the Dyson Sphere, the same old ‘diplomatic’ red tape as you called it. So why don’t you? Why make us ‘mere mortals’ do all the dirty work?”

    “I’ll let you in on a little secret, Limmy.” He disappeared in a flash and reappeared next to Limis while kneeling on the floor. “We weren’t always omnipotent, godlike beings,” he said with his lips a few inches from her left ear. “We didn’t become the race we are now overnight. We achieved this level of existence through growth and struggle. We have a responsibility not to make life too easy for mortals like yourself. That is what your… what do you call them? Prophets? That’s what your Prophets have in mind. Even after all that has happened for your race in recent years, can you honestly still say the Cardassian’s occupation of your world was not part of some great divine plan?”

    Limis swiveled her chair away from Q and gathered up the padds. “I’d doubt any god who remains indifferent to all the suffering and death those fifty years caused us,” she snapped.

    “Careful who you say those blasphemous words to,” Q retorted, circling around Limis so that they were again face-to-face.

    “Q, if you have something to say to me, say it, and get the hell out,” she demanded.

    “Right to the point, then. The pending disaster is one that transcends political powers and lines on a map. You need to do what must be done. The question is, are you willing?”

    Limis rolled her eyes, stood up and headed for the bridge entrance. “I would hardly call more riddles ‘right to the point’,” she grumbled.

    Q leaned up against the side of the doorway, blocking Limis’s way. “If I said any more, that would be making things too easy.” And with those words, he disappeared again.

    Almost immediately, the comm chimed and Kozar’s ominous voice followed. “Captain to the bridge.”
  5. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Three (continued)

    The red alert klaxons were sounding when Limis stepped onto the bridge. She stared at the viewscreen in disbelief as she sauntered towards the center of the bridge. A spatial anomaly in the shape of a funnel filled the screen, and it was getting larger, indicating that the Lambda Paz was being pulled into it.

    “What the hell is that thing?” Limis asked of Kozar, who was listening to status reports from all stations.

    “Some kind of subspace instability that just appeared right on top of us,” Kozar explained while handing off a padd to a passing male officer.

    “Back us off, helm,” Limis ordered Lieutenant Sara Carson.

    Q appeared in a flash behind the two command chairs with his arms across his chest. “‘Back us off, helm’?” he mocked. “Like they haven’t tried that already?”

    “We’ve been trying with impulse engines at full power,” Sara responded. “We’re still being sucked into some kind of subspace funnel.”

    “Told you,” Q muttered, to which no one on the bridge responded.

    “Bridge to engineering,” Limis said, making sure not to look in Q’s direction. “Throw everything you can into warp engines.”

    “I can give you warp nine in thirty-six seconds,” sh’Aqba replied over the comm, “but we’re still being pulled at an even faster acceleration curve.”

    Limis sighed, sensing that her ship was doomed. After all the confrontations with the Dominion, the Lambda Paz was about to be pulled apart by subspace instability. She was grasping at straws, but felt there was no other choice when she paced towards Q. “Q, you can put a stop to this,” she snapped.

    “Oh, you’re asking for my help so fast?” Q replied with a look of disingenuous concern. “That’s a new record. Give me one good reason why I should.”

    “Because if we are destroyed here…”

    “Don’t worry,” Q interrupted. “I’m not going to let your ship be destroyed. I’m simply waiting to see if your crew can move beyond stating the obvious.”

    Limis flashed an angry stare at him, as that kind of talk was all too familiar.

    Kozar, meanwhile, was conferring with Lieutenant Willis Huckaby at ops about other ways to escape the subspace funnel’s grasp. “What if we tried reconfiguring the geometry of the warp field?” he asked.

    “There could be an infinite number of possibilities,” Huckaby replied.

    “Well, we have to try something,” Limis assured the young man. “Engineering, do you copy?”

    “If I had a slip of latinum for every time I heard that,” Q remarked with a roll of his eyes.

    “Yes, Captain,” sh’Aqba replied. “We may have just found the right configuration.”

    “We’re moving off,” Carson reported after looking up from one of her helm readouts.

    The sense of triumph throughout the bridge quickly abated when the deck rocked again.

    “Something is emerging from the funnel,” Morrison reported from the tactical station.

    “Load all weapons system,” Limis barked. “Route emergency power to shields.”

    A large structure at least ten times larger than the Lambda Paz emerged from the funnel. It was largely cylindrical in shape and wider in the center. Four spires jutted out from the center. And red lights flashed at the top and bottom tips.

    Most of the bridge crew stared at the viewscreen in awed silence, waiting to see what this mysterious structure would do.

    “It’s not making any threatening moves,” Morrison deadpanned. “So far.” But he knew that could change at any moment.

    “And it’s putting out graviton energy equal to that of two G-type stars,” Huckaby added.

    “Good thing we were flooding all that power into the engines,” Carson chimed in. “Or it’d be holding us in its gravity well.”

    “This is only the beginning, ladies and gentlemen,” Q warned, pointing at the viewscreen.

    “Q, stop this foolishness,” Limis demanded, “and tell us what the hell is going on!”

    “What makes you think I’m either inclined or capable?” Q rhetorically asked. “Like I said, this is only the beginning.” Following those cryptic words, he disappeared in a flash.

    Limis shook her head and rolled her eyes. She took a quick glance at the viewscreen, but before she could address any of her officers, she was surrounded in a flash of light.

    Limis was suddenly in the capital city of Bajor. Crowds of people walked along the streets, completely oblivious to a woman in a Starfleet uniform. The chirps of personal transport shuttles flying by were intermittently heard above. Limis moved herself out of the way of a streetcar hovering just a few inches off the ground as it passed even while still getting sense she was standing outside of time.

    The shadow of a humanoid slowly approached her, as if this person was aware of her presence. With a quick turn of her head, Limis saw Grabowski standing on her right. “Look up there,” he said while staring ahead. “For this brief moment outside of time, B’hava’el burns hot in space… until now.”

    Up in the sky, the yellow sun suddenly shrunk and sent out ripples closer and closer to planet. Those ripples coursed across Bajor, vaporizing everything in their path. Where there was once a city bustling with activity, there was now a gray, drab, dead world. Limis and Grabowski were still standing on this lifeless rock even though nothing could have survived the irradiation of the surface.

    Limis simply gazed at the now black sky, her face numb, not sure what to make of what had just occurred. Was this is only a possible future or the inevitable future? And if the former, what could be done to stop it? Though even if Grabowski told her that this future could not be avoided, she would not sit idly by and allow the destruction of Bajor in this manner.

    “That structure you just encountered,” Grabowski stated with Vulcan-like stoicism, “is the first of many interstellar beacons dispersed throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. They’ve been burrowing in subspace for thousands of years, and all centrally controlled by the Dyson Sphere you encountered one year ago in your time. And if those all of those relays are released, they’ll be able to black out stars all over the galaxy almost as easily as a starship jumps to warp.”

    Limis remained numb and silent for several long moments, not sure how to absorb all she had seen and heard. Her mind went from dreading the possible destruction of Bajor to dreading the difficult task of preventing it. And worst of all, Grabowski seemed ambivalent to the eradication of a quarter of his own ancestry. She was baffled as to why she was briefly attracted to him.

    “So you can examine other timelines,” she offered. “So surely, you would remember our time together.”

    “That should be the least of your concerns right now, Captain,” Grabowski replied with a stern look into her eyes. Pointing at the red giant that was now Bajor’s sun, he said, “You should be worried about preventing this.”

    “Hey, I heard you,” Limis snapped. “But what about when I was on Bajor in your century? You don’t remember any of that? But you’re still being penalized for it.”

    “That man was not me,” Grabowski cryptically answered.
    Limis sighed in disgust. She was about to respond when she was surrounded by another flash of light.

    “Captain, are you all right?” asked Kozar.

    She was back on the bridge, and Kozar was standing on her right thinking she had gone catatonic. Limis quickly took in her surroundings and saw Kozar standing in front of her. “I’m fine,” she assured her first officer. “Lieutenant Carson, set a course for the Dyson Sphere. Warp nine.”

    Sara quickly acknowledged the order while Limis back down in her chair, still rattled by the apocalyptic imagery she had just witnessed.
  6. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four (Part One)

    Yelgrun sat at the head of a meeting table in his office, reading status reports from Thot Drelf on a several different padds.

    In the course of the Dominion and Breen representatives’ exchange of military information, two Jem’Hadar guards were behind the Vorta, standing motionless and eerily silent like statues. The same was true of the two Breen guards standing behind Drelf. They were dressed in full military armor, including helmets, and, for all anyone else knew, they were eyeing the Jem’Hadar suspiciously.

    Drelf, however, had chosen to remove his helmet during this session with Yelgrun, though his face was a site that the Vorta had found revolting. Drelf’s face could have been described as gorilla or Neanderthal-like, but far more hideous without very much resembling hair or fur. The closest thing to hair on his face appeared in the form of inch-long follicles visible to the naked eye throughout the face. Where there was usually a nose, was instead a vertical arrangement of gill-like slits. Along his chin was a row of inch-long mandibles just below his dark gray lips. The eyes looked humanoid in shape and size, and his skin was largely brownish gray with hair-like follicles extending back towards his scalp. His ears were at least six inches in diameter, extending outward across both sides of his head.

    Yelgrun did his best to hide revulsion while discussing more pressing issues with his Breen counterpart.“How are your efforts to move deeper into Klingon and Romulan territories proceeding?” he inquired.

    “Romulan battle groups in sector four-eight-three and five-zero-seven quickly defeated,” Drelf replied. “Klingon armada in star system Tranome Sar also quickly defeated. We are in position to attack outer core systems.”

    “Excellent. The reinforcements of ships have put the enemy back on the defensive. But the Klingons continue sneak attacks on the outer reaches of our territory; possibly because they are not as susceptible to your energy dissipaters.”

    “More ships to Quenor system we can commit certainly… promises of success we will not yet make.”

    Yelgrun nodded while setting aside one padd on a stack and studying the one immediately below it. “And while we’re at it,” he said with his eyes concentrated only on the padd, “we can find out if the reports of a rebel Cardassian base on the seventh planet are true.”

    “Efforts to stop our own rebellions not yet succeeding,” Drelf replied. “New civil uprisings reported on Paclu planet Gorsach.”

    “We can spare Jem’Hadar troops by increasing production at the Thalot hatcheries by twenty percent.”

    “Good. We are in your debt if Jem’Hadar succeed.”

    Yelgrun was a bit taken aback by the conditional nature of that last statement. Dealing with the Breen required almost infinite patience, he knew. Their language structure made them sound almost infantile or lacking in intelligence. Of course, that was the result of the universal translator. But what he found most interesting was the strong similarities in the languages of two different species of Breen—the insectoid Amoniri and the Neanderthaloid Paclu. That two unrelated sentient species had similar grammar and syntax in their respective languages at all was itself a strong improbability.

    The room suddenly started shaking. Both Yelgrun and Drelf looked around the room curiously and apprehensively before looking at each other. Drelf grabbed his helmet while he and his personal guards scrambled towards the door. Yelgrun tapped a comm-panel on his desk to hail the bridge.

    “Bridge, what’s happening?” he anxiously demanded.

    “Something just collapsed our warp field,” a masculine voice responded. “We’re picking up spikes in gravimetric energy all around us.”


    Yelgrun and Drelf marched onto the bridge, where a younger male Vorta stood at the center console. On top of his right shoulder was a large eyepiece device that allowed him to monitor shipwide status reports and communications with the two Breen heavy cruisers flanking the Dominion heavy cruiser. The Jem’Hadar First was on his left, wearing the same device, and monitoring sensor readings on the main console.

    “Status report,” Yelgrun requested of Torgroth.

    “Some kind of the subspace instability suddenly appeared right on top of us,” the younger Vorta responded, handing off the eye device to Yelgrun.

    Yelgrun stared into the eye device and saw a black spatial anomaly in the shape of a funnel. The funnel was slowly dispersing, and a large structure emerged. He muttered something inaudible when a large cylindrical object that dwarfed even his own monstrosity of a Dominion heavy cruiser had fully taken shape.

    His attention to what was happening outside the ship was diverted when lights started flickering out on the bridge. “Now what?” he griped.

    “The object is putting out massive amounts of gravimetric energy,” First Mirak’tiral explained, “which is interfering with main power.”

    “Pilot, back us off, quickly,” Yelgrun shouted to the Jem’Hadar manning helm, directly in front of the main center console.

    “Nothing,” the pilot reported. “The interference is jamming most of our propulsion systems.”

    “Flood as much emergency power as you can into them,” Yelgrun snapped. “Thot Drelf…”

    Drelf, now with his battle helmet covering his face, made a buzzing noise upon hearing his name spoken that only Yelgrun could seem to understand.

    “Have you been able to contact your ships?” the Vorta asked.

    Drelf uttered a quicker buzzing tone, which the Jem’Hadar on the bridge assumed meant either yes or no.

    “Tell them to route whatever power they can into their plasma torpedoes,” Yelgrun instructed. “See if that will be enough to disable whatever this is.”

    Drelf buzzed in acknowledgement of that instruction, to which Yelgrun shook his head in annoyance of how snide the Breen’s reply was.

    The two Breen heavy cruisers flanking the Dominion capital ship fired swarms of plasma torpedoes at the large structure. Some of them missed the target entirely, while others just grazed the hull. But the torpedoes that did score a direct hit managed to short the structure’s energy sources.

    “All systems coming back on-line,” Torgroth reported, which Yelgrun could deduce by the lights once again illuminating the bridge.

    “Very good,” Yelgrun replied. “Take a team of Vorta engineers aboard that object, Torgroth. Mirak’tiral, take a squad of Jem’Hadar along as well. And use all necessary precautions in case the inside of it doesn’t have breathable atmosphere. We need to find out what in the Founders’ name this thing is.”


    Limis sat on a sofa in one of the small crew lounges, sipping a martini. Rebecca Sullivan was seated on her right, also with a martini in hand. It had become something of an evening ritual for the two best friends, that is whenever the captain could get away from the bridge before Rebecca’s bridge shift started.

    Vircona had just confided in Rebecca about when she had been pulled seven hundred years in the future and went on a long journey across the desert to find the Orb of Time with Grabowski. She added how she and Jonas had developed a certain mutual admiration for one another, and how the moments of awkward silence became a sexual liaison. “You’d think he’d show more restraint considering his group is supposed to preserve the timeline, not screw with it,” she remarked.

    Vircona and Rebecca exchanged devilish smirks in response to the crude innuendo that was used. “He says he ‘never experienced that timeline’,” she added. “Later, he showed me that his organization can examine alternate timelines, but that man wasn’t him.”

    “You said yourself that it didn’t mean anything,” Rebecca offered. “So why does it bother you that he doesn’t remember?”

    Vircona sighed, completely at a loss for words. “I don’t know,” was all she could say.

    Rebecca set her glass down on the nearby coffee table and clasped her friend’s right hand. “Could it be because he’s someone who accepts you for who you are without judging you or your rocky past?” she suggested.

    Vircona flashed a smile, suddenly able to articulate an answer she could not just a few moments earlier. “Now that I think of it,” she said, looking away from Rebecca. “He has a certain fascination with me from a historical perspective. I seem to play role in his history. We can’t help but admire a lot of those famous names. And, yes, he is one of the first men in quite a while who isn’t so concerned with all the baggage.”

    “Just like me and Sara,” Rebecca replied, with a light grin and a blush in her cheeks.

    Limis put her beverage glass aside on the table and stared at her friend for a very long moment, flabbergasted that she didn’t know this before. For the last few months, Limis had suspected there was something between her alpha and gamma shift helm officers, but always assumed it was the usual kind of friendship between two women. “Lieutenant Carson,” she simply said with wide-eyed inquisitiveness.

    “Of all the Starfleet vets on this ship,” Rebecca answered with a nod, “she doesn’t seem all that presumptuous.”

    “I guess I just didn’t think you’d find anyone so soon after Michael died.”

    “Neither did I. But you don’t always plan these things.”
    The two friends smiled and clasped both of each other’s hands. “I am happy for you, Becca,” Limis said. “At least one of us has someone special in their lives.


    Erhlich Tarlazzi entered sickbay and headed straight for the biobed where sh’Aqba was being examined by one of the nurses. She was still in uniform rather than a surgical gown and conscious enough to be sitting up with her back against the headboard. She smiled as he entered the cubicle. The Denobulan female nurse had just completed her examination and left the cubicle to allow the two of them some privacy.

    “Look who’s back in sickbay,” Erhlich joked as he nodded in the nurse’s direction. “Light duty doesn’t appear to be doing trick.”

    “The doctor says it was a stress-related fainting spell while I’m still recovering from Turrelian fever,” Shinar explained with an amused grin.

    “Hope you get well soon. They miss seeing that smile down in engineering.”

    Shinar’s eyes narrowed, indicating she wasn’t buying that remark since she hardly ever smiled while on duty.

    “All right, I miss seeing that smile,” Erhlich corrected himself while he pulled up a chair. “You really had me worried. We would certainly hate to lose one of the best engineers in Starfleet.”

    Shinar smacked him on the shoulder. “Oh, stop it,” she said with a giggle. They leaned in closer to each other and kissed. While they exchanged a few pecks on the lips, she the coaxed the curtains on both sides of the cubicle forward. With a frisky smile, she whispered, “You want to do it right here?”

    “Whoa,” Erhlich gasped, pulling away from her. “I don’t want to cause any future ‘stress-related fainting spells’. Besides, the ice queen would never allow it.” He pointed his thumb in the direction of the office where he had seen Markalis step in from the corner of his eye.


    Aurellan looked through the glass in their direction, wondering if Shinar will tell Erhlich she was pregnant and that he was the father. She looked away to avoid letting them think she was giving them disapproving looks and saw the EMH walk in through the office’s entrance from the lab.

    “Why doesn’t she just tell him the truth?” Aurellan wondered aloud. “They’re not married, but he still has a right to know that he’s fathering her child.”

    “Ideally, she would,” the hologram replied while he was gathering up some padds on the desk. “And they’d live happily ever after as mommy, daddy, and baby. All my programming says that is what she should do. But you were the one who told me that people will not always make the rational decision after a little dust up with hers truly.”

    Aurellan gave a relenting sigh. “You’re absolutely right,” she said, remembering when the EMH confronted sh’Aqba in engineering about missing an annual physical. Aurellan had then told him that sentient beings couldn’t always be expected to make rational choices, even adding that doctors tended to make the worst patients. “My programming says the same thing,” she added, “even if doctor-patient confidentiality says not to get too involved.”

    “Should I be worried you’ll do something even more irrational than you believe Lieutenant sh’Aqba is being?” the EMH asked.

    “No,” Aurellan gasped, with a look of confusion by the question. “No, no. Of course not. It’s simply a frustrating conflict. I can’t help but want what is best for my patients, but certain rules in the profession prevent us from going too far. This isn’t the first role conflict I’ve faced, and it certainly won’t be the last for you or me. How would all your heuristic algorithms resolve such a conflict?”

    The Mark III crossed his arms across his chest to carefully consider the question. “I don’t necessarily have your idealized view of the universe,” he explained. “But my programmers have designed all sorts of algorithms designed to help me make an informed choice that doesn’t cause repeated loops in my memory and behavioral subroutines. Of course, whether that process is the same for the brains of biological organisms is a question best answered by philosophers.”

    Aurellan smiled, as she was still somewhat surprised by hologram’s rather humble response. “Would those algorithms include praying Lieutenant sh’Aqba makes what you or I would consider the right choice?” she inquired.

    “Not sure I’d put it that way,” the EMH retorted. “What sort of prayer ritual do you have in mind?”

    “In this context, the word ‘pray’ is synonymous with ‘hope’,” Aurellan explained. “I can only hope she makes a rational choice.”

    The Mark III smiled and nodded as he was trying to make sense of a common colloquialism. Aurellan grinned sheepishly, trying not to laugh, as she had often dealt with mocked and ridiculed for her non-conventional means of verbal expression. She was reminded at this moment how much the holographic doctor made her laugh, but felt this instance was not appropriate, having experienced being laughed at as a form of humiliation.

    While lost in these thoughts, she was brought back to reality when a red alert sounded.
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four (Part Two)

    Two spherical ships emerged suddenly in front of the Lambda Paz and fired energy bolts that easily penetrated the shields.

    The crew of the Lambda Paz had seen these ships before. They were from five hundred years in the future, sent by a faction in the Temporal Cold War to alter pivotal events in this time period. They possessed superior firepower and did serious damage, considering these ships eventually phase shifted back into their native time period after about a minute. Commander Kozar and other human officers had nicknamed these ships “death stars” after a hostile starship in a popular science fiction movie franchise.

    “Two ‘Death Stars’ have opened fire on us,” Morrison reported, as the two auxiliary consoles behind him exploded, “one to port and one to starboard.”

    “You know the drill, Mister Morrison,” Limis replied while firmly grasping both arms of her chair.

    “Yes, sir,” the tactical officer responded. “Opening the encrypted file.” After a brief pause while shield and weapon upgrades were being loaded into the tactical mainframe. “The weapon and shield upgrades are coming on-line now.”

    The Lambda Paz fired phasers at the port ship, and then at the starboard ship, which nicked their shields and inflicted some minor damage to the hulls. The upgraded shields were more easily able to absorb the enemy weapon impacts.

    Kozar looked up from the tactical display to the right of his chair and saw the hostiles still firing on them after exactly one minute had passed since their arrival. “They’re not being pulled back into their native timeframe,” he observed.
    “That’s not all,” Morrison grimly noted. “Two more Death Stars are emerging from stern.”

    Two vortices formed behind the Lambda Paz and two more spheres emerged from them. As they fired at the Starfleet ship, they were able to slightly weaken the modified shields.
    Limis kept a firm grip on her chair as she watched damage being inflicted throughout the bridge as it rocked back and forth. Sparks gushed out of the walls and ceiling. Explosions emanated from both port and starboard engineering consoles.

    “Keep firing,” she barked at Morrison. “Ops, throw as much emergency power into the warp drive and the nacelle field emitters. Helm, take us to warp nine-point-three while maintaining our current course. We’re going to try to outrun them.”

    Both M’Rev at ops and Sullivan at conn nodded in acknowledgement of the orders.

    “They’re matching our speed,” Rebecca calmly noted.

    “Program maximum acceleration, Ensign,” Limis instructed. “All aft torpedoes at full dispersal. Fire!”

    Quantum torpedoes fired from all aft emitters, doing considerable damage to the hulls of all four ships. Each of them then took turns firing at the Lambda Paz, doing heavy damage to both the port and starboard sides of the saucer section.

    “Hull breaches on decks three and five,” M’Rev called over the commotion.

    “Hostiles are still closing,” Morrison added. “The modified shields are buckling.”

    “Keep pouring on,” Limis insisted, even while sensing that the situation was futile. She had started to question Grabowski’s logic of telling her how to stop a galactic cataclysm, but not adequately helping to defeat forces determined to stop her. While contemplating how much time was left before her ship warped into oblivion, Limis heard her control panel chirp. New schematics on the Death Stars appeared on the display screen. One area on the sphere was highlighted, indicating the critical portion of the hostile vessel.

    “Take us out of warp, helm,” she blurted, much to the surprise of Kozar and the rest of the bridge crew, as if wondering if the plan was to ram the four ships. “Move us about to take them head on.”

    “Captain?!” Rebecca gasped.

    “Do it,” Limis fired back. “Morrison, target phasers on the following coordinates.” She entered a set of coordinates, which were then transmitted to the tactical station.

    The Lambda Paz quickly fell out of warp arched around towards the spheres, as they matched their targets’ deceleration.

    “Bring us to within a thousand kilometers of the closest ship,” Limis nervously instructed as the bridge continued shaking.

    “Captain, what are you doing?” Kozar impatiently demanded.

    “Phasers locked on target,” said Morrison with a similar look of skepticism.

    “Hold for my order,” Limis ordered the tactical officer.

    “Within one thousand kilometers,” Rebecca reported, per the captain’s order.


    Four different phaser beams erupted from the both of the Starfleet vessel’s dorsal emitters, scoring direct hits on all four spheres. As a result, all four attacking ships were each pulled into a crackling vortex before disappearing entirely.

    Kozar and Morrison both smiled in Limis’s direction, possibly more relieved than feeling the euphoria of saving the ship from disaster. Rebecca glanced at her captain with an approving grin while M’Rev stared at the viewscreen with a terrified look still in his eyes.

    “ETA at the Dyson Sphere?” Limis inquired as she triumphantly rose from her chair.

    “Seventeen hours, twenty-six minutes,” Rebecca answered.

    “Incoming hail from Admiral Jellico,” M’Rev called as he looked up from his communications board. “He’s requesting our location, speed, and heading.”

    “Tell him we’re on a classified mission for Starfleet Special Ops,” Limis deadpanned as she sauntered towards the ready room entrance.

    Kozar sensed this claim was false, and was about to follow her into the ready room when an officer handed him a padd containing damage reports.
  8. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four (Part 3)

    Limis enters the ready room fuming as she entered a code to lock both doors to the office. She looked around carefully to find no one inside and slowly paced to the desk while taking a few deeps breaths, thankful that the walls were soundproof or she would sound crazy if she could be heard from the bridge.

    “Grabowski!” she shouted. “I know you’re somewhere on this ship! Show yourself, you son-of-a-bitch!” And in that moment of seething rage, she was now glad that he did not remember their night together. She stared out the viewports until she got a chilling sense that someone was sitting behind the desk, someone who had not been there just a second ago. She sighed as she turned around to see the temporal agent suddenly appear behind her desk while dressed in a present-day Starfleet engineer’s uniform, wanting to say, “I wish you guys wouldn’t do that.”

    “What the hell took you so long to add such critical information to our tactical database?” she hissed in a cold rage. “Why the hell you didn’t tell me about those ships overcoming their biggest weakness when they could have destroyed us just now?”

    Grabowski remained calm even as Limis’s demeanor indicated that she could kill him with her bare hands. “I told you this before,” he firmly assured her, “I can’t hand out information that could potentially jeopardize the timeline. I had to add that data posing as a computer core maintenance engineer to avoid drawing too much suspicion.”

    “I really don’t give a damn about subtlety right now, Mister Grabowski,” Limis angrily spat. “That history you’re trying to preserve is seven hundred years in my future. Now I understand the importance of the Temporal Prime Directive. You wouldn’t have asked me to fight this stupid Temporal Cold War of yours if I didn’t see that directive from your perspective. So why don’t you let me fight it my way?”

    “Like I said before,” Grabowski attempted, “it’s not quite that simple. My superiors have me on strict supervision…”

    Limis leaned down on the desk to look Grabowski straight in the eye. “Well, you better find a way to make it simple. I want full disclosure on how we’re supposed to stop the Dyson Sphere right now, or I am turning this ship around.”

    Before Grabowski could respond, the door chime sounded. Limis stood up straight and took a few quick steps to the door with a sense that her visitor had been cornered. She re-entered the lock code, unlocking the door in order to let in whoever was on the other side. Kozar stepped into the ready room at the exact instant the doors parted. A few steps into the office, he stopped in his tracks as if he had seen a ghost.

    “Mister Kozar,” Limis said with a hint of sarcasm, “you remember Mister Grabowski, ‘killed in action’ on stardate 51220.”

    “Of course,” Kozar replied, still not able to overcome his surprise. He recognized the youthful looking dark-haired man as a crewmember killed during one of the early battles of the Dominion War. He and a few of the senior bridge officers had known that Limis had crossed paths with him on several occasions afterwards, but this was the first time the commander had actually seen this supposedly dead man in person.

    “Hello again, Commander,” Grabowski said with a nod. He stood up and headed for the side entrance. “I’ll be in the briefing room, preparing specs for disabling the Dyson Sphere.”

    Limis tapped her combadge as she watched her guest leave. “Mister Morrison,” she said, “we have a VIP guest on his way to the briefing room. Make sure he’s there to do as he claims until I arrive there.”

    “Understood,” Morrison replied while sounding reluctant.

    “I thought you and I agreed no secrets,” Kozar reminded the captain once he saw Grabowski was gone. “That you would disclose when we were on missions for Starfleet Intelligence as long as you weren’t revealing information classified by Starfleet Intelligence or whatever organization Mister Grabowski works for.”

    “You’re absolutely right,” Limis replied, circling around the desk. “My life in the last fourteen years has involved operating in secrecy, so I can easily forget where my loyalties lie. I should’ve informed you where I had obtained the information regarding the graviton energy spikes and what prompted my decision to set a course for the Dyson Sphere.”

    “But we are going against orders, aren’t we?” Kozar offered, stepping closer to the desk to look straight at the captain. “And the Romulans denied us permission to investigate that region of space.”

    Limis was still annoyed that the first officer had come to that deduction so easily. “I’m afraid so,” she said with a sigh. “But this upcoming mission is critical to the war effort. Grabowski has informed me that the Dyson Sphere is the central source to a series of relays that can darken stars almost at will. That’s what Q meant when he said that relay device was only the beginning. Now if you object to any aspect of this mission, I need to know now.”

    “Considering what is at stake here,” Kozar declared without hesitation, “I’m with you a hundred percent.”

    “Good,” Limis replied. “Assemble the senior staff in the main briefing room in one hour. Dismissed.”

    Kozar left the ready room without another word while Limis slumped down in her chair and mulled over the upcoming dangers of the upcoming operation.


    Yelgrun and Thot Drelf stepped into the spacious central core of the relay device they had encountered. Throughout the dark and circular room, Vorta and Breen engineers were dismantling circuit housings with Jem’Hadar silently and motionlessly standing guard. Torgroth was overseeing the examination of one of the circuit boards when he saw the senior Vorta enter. He handed off a scanning device to a female Vorta and walked over to Yelgrun.

    “What have you found?” Yelgrun inquired.

    “This circuitry allows communication with many other relays like this one controlled from a central source,” Torgroth explained. “Other teams have found a number of dormant emitters designed to send out pulses directed at select stars, periodically compensating for universal expansion.”

    “For what purpose?” Yelgrun wondered.

    “We’re not certain yet.”

    “Then we need to find more definitive answers,” echoed an elderly sounding masculine voice.

    Yelgrun turned around to see a Changeling in humanoid form. His skin was parched with pieces hanging like dried up paint chips. That he did not try to hide his condition indicated that he was in the advanced stages of the disease that afflicted his entire race.

    “Founder,” Yelgrun said with a bow of his head. “You honor us with your presence.”

    The rest of the Vorta and the Jem’Hadar stared at the Changeling in silent deference.

    “I want you all to begin reassembling all this circuitry,” the Founder continued. “Begin field tests in order to determine if this device can be used as a weapon.”

    End Notes: The scene where Limis confronts Grabowski mirrors this scene on Babylon 5 where Captain Sheridan reminds Kosh: "You asked me to fight this war. Well, it's about time you let me fight it my way."
  9. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Five

    A schematic of an explosive device appeared on the display monitor of the main briefing room. Grabowski explained the schematic to some of the senior staff gathered around the meeting table. Limis was seated at the head of the table, resting her right hand up against her right cheekbones with just the forefinger up trying to maintain an air of optimism amid her own doubts around her subordinates.

    Kozar was standing to her right and Morrison to her left. Carson and Markalis were seated on one side of the table and Tarlazzi was on the other side, all of whom were exchanging awkward stares wondering why they were summoned to this briefing.

    “Your goal will be to smuggle the explosive into the central core,” Grabowski explained. “Once it is detonated, all electromagnetic activity throughout the Dyson Sphere will be disrupted.”

    “An EMP device,” Kozar offered.

    “In a manner of speaking, Commander,” the temporal replied. “But this device does a far more thorough job in neutralizing a target so repairs won’t be simple matter of replacing computer circuits and components.”

    Limis still couldn’t help but remain skeptical. “So it can’t be rebooted in a matter of weeks or months,” she wondered.

    “Precisely,” Grabowski confirmed with a nod. “Of course, the trick will be protecting your ship from the pulses.”

    “The shields can easily be modified with your shield upgrades used in our encounters with the Death Stars,” Morrison chimed in.

    Grabowski shot a befuddled glance at Limis. “Death Stars?” he asked.

    “Twentieth century Earth science fiction,” Limis explained. Then to Morrison, the captain added, “Make sure the weapons arrays are at optimum power as well.”

    “Done and done, sir,” Morrison acknowledged as he headed back to his seat to the left of the head of the table. Kozar seated himself on the opposite side of the table. And Limis swung her chair around to face the rest of her officers.

    “Mister Tarlazzi, you’ll need to reinforce the metal alloy in the sub-dermal transport enhancers,” Limis instructed the acting chief engineer. “You’ll also be responsible for placing a virus in the central computer core that’ll corrupt all secondary backup generators. Doctor Markalis, be ready to implement emergency radiation protocols. Even with the metaphasic shielding, we can’t guarantee it’ll protect us from the star’s radiation.”

    Aurellan just nodded demurely with no verbal acknowledgment.

    “Lieutenant Carson,” Limis continued, “plot a course that avoids the Romulan patrol ships.” She picked up a padd perched at the edge of the table and reached across to hand it to Sara. “These are they’re standard patrol routes. And it’ll take some crafty maneuvering on your part to slip us through the subspace fold. They’re not going to let us just walk through after the last time we were there.”

    “I think I’m up for it,” Sara retorted.

    “All right, people,” Limis proclaimed to all her officers in the briefing. “We have just over sixteen hours. Let’s all get to work.”


    Erhlich Tarlazzi was in the engineering lab staring into an electron microscope, encasing sub-dermal transport enhancers in a second layer of its metal alloy. Once the second layer had become solid metal, he scanned the device with a tricorder to make sure it was still detectable and its basic functioning was not compromised. He looked up from the microscope and loaded the tiny metal pellet into a hypospray vial when he saw the reflection of another person on a nearby console.

    “Busy as usual, aren’t we?” Q rhetorically asked. “Would you still be so tied down in your work if you knew your ‘other half’ is with child?”

    Tarlazzi scoffed and shook his head while turning his attention back to the job at hand. “What are you talking about?” he asked, certain his uninvited visitor was simply being a pest. He removed another metal pellet from a petri dish with a set of tweezers and placed it on the microscope tray.

    Q walked over to the microscope station and seated himself in a chair, leaning on the table to Erhlich’s right. “Did your parents not sit you down and tell you how babies are made?” he quipped. “Your Andorian woman is pregnant.”

    Tarlazzi stared into the microscope saying, “She would have told me if I had gotten her pregnant.”

    “Oh, would she? Let’s examine her actions over the last few months, shall we? She forsakes her marital arrangements. Then she engages a Klingon captain in one of his race’s ritualistic sex romps, but then says she has no intention of marrying him. And now, like tribbles and Earth soap opera characters, she’s expecting so soon after hopping into bed with you. Or for all we know, that hulking Klingon is the daddy, and he’s even more the fool than you.

    Tarlazzi turned off the microscope and looked straight at Q. “The captain says you’re nothing but trouble,” he recalled of Limis’s announcement that this omnipotent individual was on board. “So whatever game you’re playing, find someone else to play it with.”

    “This is no game, Tarzie,” Q replied, leaning in closer towards the lieutenant. “I’m a father who barely sees his child, so I can easily relate.”

    Tarlazzi scoffed and then walked over to another console, trying to avoid being reeled into an argument with him. “Why would immortal beings need to procreate?” he wondered aloud.

    “You’re right that there doesn’t seem to be any practical benefit. But members of my race can die. We lost a lot of our greatest minds during the recent civil war. Of course, at the rate that one of us dies, we are far from facing the possibility of extinction.”

    “What do you want of me?” Tarlazzi demanded. “I’m busy right now, so can you cut to the chase?”

    “There’s that word again: busy,” Q retorted as he stood up and approached Tarlazzi. “No one around here has time for little old me. Then I’ll ‘cut to the chase’, as you put it.

    “Ever since my mate and I separated, she’s had principal custody of our child. I hardly ever see the little guy these days. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You have certain parental rights. Are you willing to fight for them?”
    Q then disappeared in a flash. Tarlazzi now found he could not focus on his work as he was left with even more difficult decisions to consider.


    Limis was staring at her desk monitor when the doorbell rang three times in succession. She appeared completely oblivious to the chiming until after the second one. “What?!” she snapped after a sigh of annoyance.

    “Vircona, I need your help,” Tarlazzi said as he was stepping through the doors before they had fully parted. “I just went to sickbay to see Lieutenant sh’Aqba, but the doc says it’s past visiting hours there. That crazy bitch even threatened to call security on me.”

    Limis gave Tarlazzi skeptical stare, certain that the picture Erhlich was painting in her mind was a complete exaggeration.
    “Shinar’s pregnant, and I might be the father,” Tarlazzi continued. “But this is not about wanting to start a family with her. It’s been the farthest thing from our minds. It’s about not wanting to cross paths ten or fifteen years later with a son or daughter I didn’t know existed.”

    Limis turned off the monitor and clasped her hands on the desk, giving Tarlazzi her undivided attention. “What do you want me to do about it?” she asked. “You know I can’t order her to share this with you.”

    “I… don’t know,” Erhlich stammered. “I do have certain paternal rights even if I’m not married to her.”

    “You’ll have to work this out with her,” Vircona assured him. “All I can do is suggest you read up on Rigellian and Andorian laws applicable to this situation. As far as I know, when and if she tells you about it is her decision. But how did you find out if Markalis isn’t letting anyone see Shinar after visiting hours?”

    “It was that Q fella.”

    Vircona looked away from Erhlich with a look of both disgust and a lack of surprise. “I see,” she said plainly. But then looking back at her friend, she added, “Any problems with modifying the transport enhancers?”

    “No, ma’am,” Erhlich responded with a light shake of his head.

    “Good. Then I’ll let you get back to it.” After Tarlazzi had left through the side entrance, Limis took a look around the ready room to make absolutely certain no one else was in the room. “Q?” she called out. “Where are you?!”

    Almost instantaneously, Q appeared in front of Limis, lounging on the sofa. “You rang?” he asked jovially.

    Hardly in a jovial mood, Limis rose from her seat and looked Q straight in the eye. “Where the hell do you get the nerve meddling in my crew’s personal affairs?” she snapped.

    “Meddling?” Q repeated with a look of feigned surprise. “Is that what I’m doing? Is pointing out the truth meddling? Is warning of a possible future meddling? What you call meddling, what you call interfering, may have saved the Federation and the rest of this galaxy from the scourge of the Borg. Not that Jean-Luc or Benji or Kathy would be caught dead giving me any credit.”

    Limis circled around the desk while maintaining a confrontational expression. “Expediting first contact with the Borg is a far different thing from interfering in people’s personal lives,” she countered. “I would imagine your superiors in the Continuum won’t be too happy about that.”

    “You let me worry about that. Now think about this, Limmy? How can you be so sure Grabowski is who he claims to be? For all you know, his motives aren’t as pure as he claims.”

    “He hasn’t given me reason not to trust him. He helped me escape the Sindareen. He stopped me from surrendering myself to the Dominion in order to preserve his timeline, even though that backfired. He still helped me to make things right. And he’s given us a means to defend ourselves against advanced ships from the future.”

    Q grinned, as if finding Limis’s reasoning flawed. “That doesn’t necessarily follow that victory in the Dominion War is part of the ‘correct timeline’,” he offered. “Remember what I said about greater divine plans.”

    “I could not care less about a far future’s ‘correct timeline’,” Limis huffed while seating herself in one of the guest chairs. “I only care about the present and the more immediate future. And a future living under Dominion rule is not one I want to live in. Even if I did know the outcome with a hundred percent certainty, I still wouldn’t roll over and let it happen.”

    Q walked towards the desk and sat down in the other guest chair. “As you keep saying,” he responded in a hushed tone, “we make our own futures, with a little help from us, along the way.”

    “Are all the Q such narcissists or just you?” Limis snapped. “And come to think of it, just a few days ago, you were telling me to ‘do what needs to be done.’ Now you’re making me doubt that I’m taking the right course of action. This is just another one of your sick games.”

    Q wagged his forefinger in her direction. “Oh, you’re good. I’m simply making sure you are doing the right thing for the right reasons.”

    “And what if I weren’t doing the right thing for the right reasons?”

    “Just be thankful I don’t need to answer that question.” And after that cryptic reply, he snapped his fingers and disappeared in a flash.

    Limis scoffed and rolled her eyes. Right now, she was not really concerned with whether all the Q were as obnoxious as this one. To him, she was just performing for his amusement—something to which Limis did not take kindly.
  10. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Five (Part 2)

    “Shuttle one to bridge: we’re on final departure sequence. Shuttle two, you’ll be clear to depart secondary hangar in sixty seconds.”

    Kozar manned the port secondary pilot seat of an unmarked shuttle, usually flown by operatives of Starfleet Intelligence. This was the first of the shuttles exiting the Lambda Paz’s hangar deck that had no markings that would indicate Starfleet origins and had transponder codes that could be easily altered in order to more easily infiltrate enemy territory.

    Kozar’s team consisted of Rebecca Sullivan in the pilot seat and Tarlazzi at a starboard secondary station diagonally to the pilot seat. Six Marines and two engineering officers are seated at benches on the left and right walls. The Marines consisted of two human males, two Andorian males, a Xindi humanoid female, and a Xindi reptilian male. The engineers were a human female and a Trill male. All of them were dressed in black military fatigues, so they would not be easily identified as Starfleet officers and troops in the event they were captured.


    “Understood, shuttle one,” Morrison replied on the comm-channel. “Beginning pre-flight sequence.”

    The second shuttle was situated in a secondary hangar in the aft port saucer section, so as to approach its target from a different vector. His team, also dressed in black fatigues, consisted of Goris M’Rev at the starboard secondary piloting station and Ensign Dexter Hall in the pilot seat, while Morrison was at the port secondary station. The EMP device was housed in a Starfleet-issue cargo container right behind the piloting consoles. The rest of the team consisted of six security officers and crewpersons— two human males and a human female, a Caitian male, a Ktarian male, and a Deltan female-- along with two engineering crewmen— one Vulcan and one human.


    The mother ship had positioned itself deep in the star’s corona, and was fortunately protected by metaphasic shielding that allowed a ship to hide near the surface of a star for a lot longer than was possible with conventional shields.

    “Shuttle two has departed,” Willis Huckaby reported from the ops console.

    Limis nodded in acknowledged and looked towards Carson at conn. “Hold to this position, helm,” she instructed, “but be prepared to fire up the engines at a moment’s notice.”

    “Understood,” Sara answered with a firm hand on the controls.

    “And Lieutenant sh’Aqba,” Limis added, looking at the Andorian woman, who was also at ops to Huckaby’s left. “Keep a close eye on the metaphasic shielding to see if it fluctuates even in the slightest.”

    “No problem, sir,” sh’Aqba replied as she sauntered over to the port mission ops station. “I’ll be ready to transfer emergency power to conventional shielding if necessary.”


    Kozar’s shuttle slowly approached a spherical housing that was considerable distance from the Dyson Sphere’s main entrance. Two asymmetrically shaped cylindrical bridges connected the smaller sphere to the outer walls of the much larger sphere. The top of the smaller sphere was sending out a continuous pulse that was sapping energy from the star in order to power the rest of artificial structure.

    The shuttle fired phasers at the housing to the central power source, which were easily absorbed by a shield. The phaser fire also activated a dozen cube-shaped sentry pods that swarmed in on the shuttle, firing green laser bursts at the shuttle. The shield’s quickly buckled under the more advanced weapons fire, but the shuttle’s phasers and torpedoes were just as effective in neutralizing the pods. The shuttle then arched upward and away from the power core.

    “Shuttle two,” said Kozar, after opening a comm-channel. “Proceed with phase two.”

    “With pleasure, sir,” Morrison gleefully replied.

    The second shuttle closed in faster and faster towards a docking port, firing phasers in methodical bursts. Two sentry pods then activated and fired at the shuttle. The shuttle fired back, tearing both pods to pieces.


    Morrison and his six-person security team beamed into a corridor of the Dyson Sphere where they intercepted a group of six Romulan soldiers running down the hallway to provide extra security at the main power core. Morrison and the other human male officers swung around and shot at the Romulans with their phaser rifles while the others pinned themselves against the wall to take cover from the onslaught of disruptor fire. Two of the Romulans were dispatched, while one of the human male officers was clipped in the shoulder. He managed to stay upright while Morrison was instructing them to keep on down the corridor.

    As they proceeded down the corridor, continuing to counter the barrage of weapons fire, the Caitian officer sensed someone approaching down an adjoining corridor. He arched to the right, pointing his phaser rifle in the direction of the approaching Romulan, who was armed with just a disruptor. He quickly dispatched that Romulan, but another approached from behind. His tail swung towards the second Romulan, which lassoed his leg and pulled him down towards the deck. The Caitian then clipped the downed Romulan with a neural truncheon before following the rest of the team.

    As they continued down the corridor, another six Romulans approached from ahead with rifles firing. The Ktarian and one of the human males at the two ends of the horizontal formation were quickly taken out. As the rest of them laid down cover fire, Morrison began arming two stun grenades. Upon seeing the first team they had confronted on approach, Morrison threw one of the grenades towards them, instantly detonating. He then hurled the second grenade to the attacking soldiers ahead, and the blast dispatched all six of them.

    Morrison gestured his team to continue forward. Unbeknownst to them, one of the Romulans had managed to avoid much of the stun grenade’s blast and swung his arms around the human female officer. She managed to throw him down to the ground and clip him with a neural truncheon. And that was when she realized a knife had been jammed into stomach. As blood continued pouring out, she fell to the deck unconscious.

    At the entrance to the power core, Morrison’s team was joined by Kozar’s, minus the two Andorians and the humanoid Xindi. M’Rev and the two engineers were alongside him as well. After the two team leaders exchanged approving nods, Kozar then slipped the entry keypad off and placed an isolinear chip that M’Rev was simultaneously handing him into the circuitry to force the door open. The large circular double doors slid apart slightly before another locking mechanism kicked in, leaving open a crack that wasn’t big enough for anyone slip through.

    The two other engineers moved towards both side of the doors while dodging disruptor fire through the door. The human and Vulcan males attached manual release clamps and attempted to slide the door. Kozar and Morrison pinned themselves against the wall, laying down cover fire as the crevice became wider. Both men then hurled stun grenades towards the Romulans defending the main power core.

    Kozar took point as he motioned both teams into the control room while Morrison brought up the rear, vigilantly looking down both corridors, and tapped a communication device on his left wrist. “The way is clear, Mister Tarlazzi,” he said.

    Just a few seconds later, Tarlazzi and his team of engineers materialized in the control room with the EMP device. The four engineering officers spread out and removed access panels from each of the four walls, while Tarlazzi and M’Rev used anti-gravity clamps to remove at the explosive from the cargo container. While Tarlazzi was pushing buttons to arm the device, he saw something that elicited him to mutter, “Uh-oh.”

    “This isn’t a good time for ‘uh-oh’, Mister Tarlazzi,” Kozar snapped.

    “Like I don’t know that,” Tarlazzi shot back. “One of the detonator circuits was out of alignment, but I think I corrected it.

    “You ‘think’?” M’Rev repeated skeptically.

    “Right now it’s all we’ve got,” Tarlazzi attempted to assure his colleagues.

    Disruptor fire suddenly burst through the doorway, dispatching the two human engineers and the Vulcan. Kozar, Morrison, and the rest of the security and Marine soldiers fired their rifles towards in the direction of the attacking Romulans, with neither side giving way.

    “The virus is in place,” Tarlazzi, reported, looked up from the uplink set on his tricorder. “And the explosive is ready to arm.”

    “Let’s get the hell out of here then!” Kozar barked over the barrage of weapons fire.

    Kozar’s and Morrison’s teams continued firing their rifles as they moved out of the room one at a time. Tarlazzi and M’Rev drew their phasers and fired at the Romulans as well, dispatching two of them. Once they were all out of the control room, M’Rev whipped out his tricorder and entered the detonation sequence.

    A massive electromagnetic pulse rippled through the Dyson Sphere, knocking out power throughout. The whole structure had emerged into normal space as it sent out more ripples.


    Aboard the relay device the Dominion was investigating, the central control room began shaking. Yelgrun and the Founder looked around, terrified that the place would shake apart. The Jem’Hadar and the Breen looked around with similar curiosity while remaining calm and collected.

    “What’s happening?!” the Founder bellowed.

    “How should I know?” barked Yelgrun.

    “And we don’t want to find out,” the Founder added. “We’re getting out of here.”

    The Vorta, Jem’Hadar, and Breen all scrambled towards the center of the room. The Founder then signaled his ship, and they all dematerialized.

    The Dominion capital ship and the two Breen heavy cruisers slowly moved away from the relay device as it was sucked into the same funnel from which it emerged. One of the Breen ships was pulled into subspace with the device as the other two streaked into warp.


    “We’ve lost contact with both shuttles,” Huckaby gasped, as he looked up from his console. “And our probe propping open the door is losing integrity.”

    “What?” Limis blurted out. She wanted to curse Grabowski, but now was not the time for blame. “Helm, plot a course that’ll take us to both shuttles and then the away teams. Sh’Aqba, get to the transporter bay. I’ll be relying on your wizardry.”

    The Lambda Paz emerged from the star’s corona and towards the outer wall of the Dyson Sphere. Two Romulan fighter shuttles closed in on the Starfleet ship from behind and fired disruptors at both nacelles. The Lambda Paz responded with swarms of phasers and quantum torpedoes, disabling both ships.

    “How long before the probe is crushed?” Limis asked Huckaby.

    “Fifty-three seconds,” the ops officer calmly replied.

    “And you’ve got about thirty of them, sh’Aqba,” Limis snapped through the comm channel.

    Sh’Aqba did not acknowledge and kept working the transporter console. A male Denobulan technician on her left nodded approvingly. After entering a few more calculations, she counted backwards. “Three, two, one. Energize!”

    Kozar, Morrison, Tarlazzi, and M’Rev were among those who materialized on the pad, along with Sullivan, Hall, and only five of the twelve security and Marine soldiers. “Bridge,” sh’Aqba triumphantly cried. “We have them!”

    The Lambda Paz swooped towards the entrance to the sphere. A line of quantum torpedoes plowed into the probe. The ship then sped up towards the rapidly closing double door and even tore through the edges, causing hull breaches on both sides of the saucer section.

    The bridge rocked hard, sending bridge officers and debris from the ceiling to the deck. But Carson was able firmly grip her console and send the ship streaking to warp.
  11. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Six

    In the main briefing room, Captain Limis was in a teleconference with Admiral Temlek, who appeared on the left half of the screen and Admiral Jellico, appearing on the right half of the screen. Despite all the efforts to avoid the Romulan patrol, word had still gotten out to their military command about the Lambda Paz’s rogue mission. Limis certainly knew that had to have been the case when ships identified as Romulan fighter shuttles opened fire on her ship, although the chances that their pilots would send out word that got all the way to Temlek seemed remote. But now that such an outcome was the case, Jellico was certain to come down on her.

    “This is an outrage,” Temlek spat, wagging his forefinger at the viewer. “I made it perfectly clear on behalf of the Romulan Star Navy that no Federation vessel was to enter that system. I can assure you in no certain terms that we will lodge a formal protest with both the Senate and the Federation Council.”

    “You should be careful how you word that protest,” Limis offered with a grin. “Or you run the risk of revealing classified Tal Shiar activities, especially considering two Romulan interceptors opened fire on us as we were making our escape.”

    “As I said before,” Temlek insisted with a sigh, “we have not conducted any covert operations inside the Dyson Sphere that you have just disabled. Any vessels of our design were crewed by individuals acting without our authorization.”

    “Let us not lose sight of the fact,” Jellico chimed in, “that Captain Limis was not acting under Starfleet orders.”

    While she could understand that Jellico was trying calm Temlek, Limis still could not help but be offended that Jellico appeared willing to throw her under the air tram, lending more credence to her suspicions that Section 31 had made some special arrangement with the Tal Shiar, and that the secret bureau was setting Limis up to be their fall person.

    “Whether Captain Limis was obeying or disobeying orders is of no consequence to us,” Temlek replied. “This action will not go unchallenged.”

    “In other words,” Limis offered, “you’re willing to make a fuss about a violation of territory that will more than likely go back to the Federation after the war is over-- territory that’s now useless to the Tal Shiar.”

    Temlek grinned devilishly and sat back in his chair. “You are a skilled negotiator, Captain,” he said. “I will grant you that. And that is why we will hold off on filing an official complaint until after the war. You still violated an agreement our two powers signed in good faith.” And before anyone could respond, he signed off.

    Limis scoffed at Temlek’s obvious falsehood, even as Jellico still wanted a few words with her.

    “I’m sure that eventually the Council will put enough pressure on the Romulan Senate to admit to this Tal Shiar operation,” Jellico plainly stated. “But that hardly makes up for your actions in this matter, Captain.”

    Limis immediately knew where this was going after her last confrontation with the admiral. He was determined to find some excuse to have her court martialed after some incriminating evidence had been uncovered. “If you want to court martial me after the war, go right ahead,” she said jovially. “At least I can live with the fact that we have a better chance of winning that war.”

    She quickly cut the transmission before Jellico could respond. Alone with her thoughts now, she suddenly wasn’t so sure she could live with the possibility of going back to the Jaros Two penal colony. And even worse, she’d certainly get an earful from Temporal Investigations if word ever got out regarding her use of advanced technology from seven hundred years in the future.


    This was becoming part of the daily routine ever since Aurellan Markalis had discovered that Shinar sh’Aqba was pregnant. Markalis was, herself, in uncharted territory in terms of dealing with a pregnancy that the Andorian shen could not carry to term. This case was also uncharted territory for the entire Starfleet medical community with interspecies pregnancies being a rarity among Andorians.

    Aurellan was now in the process of prescribing Shinar various medications. And both of them were holding in amusement that they had not interacted with one another, despite having been shipmates for almost two years, until more recently.

    “Take this estrogen and progesterone cocktail once a day,” she explained to her patient, handing sh’Aqba two hyposprays. “I’ve also prepared an isratropine derivative to reduce blood pressure. It won’t be as effective, but it’s a necessary drawback during your pregnancy and because of the immuno-suppressant you’re taking. As for further relieving stress, I’d suggest one of many meditation programs. And I cannot say this enough…”

    “I know. I know,” Shinar interrupted with a nod of embarrassment. “I should lighten my workload. Easier said than done.”

    “You’re going to have to find a way to delegate amongst your staff,” Aurellan warned her firmly, while trying her best to sound caring towards the patient and her unborn child. “The Andorian medical databases have very little on interspecies pregnancies.”

    “I completely understand.”

    “If you have any other questions,” Aurellan said with a few slow backward steps towards the main entrance, “you know where to find me.”

    Aurellan excused herself and headed out of sickbay. She passed by Tarlazzi on her way out and greeted him with an annoyed nod, their heated exchange still fresh in her mind.

    Shinar could barely hide her embarrassment, as once again her lover was paying her a visit in sickbay. Of course, sooner or later, she was going to have to reveal the true reason behind her frequent trips to the medical ward.

    “A recurrence of the ‘Turrelian fever’, I assume?” he said with a slight grin.

    “Erhlich, I haven’t been entirely honest with you,” Shinar stammered while taking a few nervous breaths. She craned her neck towards the empty office, motioning for Erhlich to follow her there. Once inside the office, she took a seat in one of the guest chairs, and he followed suit.

    “I’m pregnant,” she earnestly continued. “And you’re the father.”

    Tarlazzi arched his head downward and breathed slowly, trying to fane surprise. But sh’Aqba saw right through it, lowering her head to the same eye level he was on.

    Erhlich arched his head backward and let out an embarrassed sigh. “Okay, I suspected,” he conceded. “I didn’t want to believe it even after I read up on the major symptoms of Turrelian fever. But I’ll support any decision you make about involving me in the child’s upbringing.”

    Shinar exhaled slowly at having heard those last two words. “I don’t want to think about that right now,” she said, hoping to calm the overwhelming feelings rushing through her mind. “I’m more concerned with eventually finding a surrogate.”

    “Oh, yeah, that,” Erhlich said with a chuckle, as he recalled certain idiosyncrasies unique to Andorian sexes. “I never thought this would happen to us. How foolish of me. I know I’ve said this before many times, but you don’t have to face all of this alone.”

    Those kind words almost moved Shinar to tears. Maybe the elevated hormones were causing that, she had hoped. She smiled and leaned closer to Erhlich, resting the palms of her hands on both his cheeks. “I’m glad to hear it,” she told him. “You can never say it enough. Whether we raise this child together or what we have right now doesn’t last, I hope you can be part of this child’s life.”

    She felt her abdomen, hoping to establish some sort of mental bond, even though the embryo’s brain had not yet formed. For the first time, this other lifeform inside of her felt like a real person rather than a compilation of newly formed cells. She and Erhlich moved their heads closer and kissed on the lips.

    As Erhlich wrapped his around Shinar’s shoulders and stroked her white hair, Q appeared in front of him gave an approving thumbs-up. Still certain that Q hadn’t given this news out of the goodness of his heart, Erhlich just gave him a wide-eyed stare of disapproval.


    Aurellan and the EMH had gotten together for another evening of dinner and dancing. But within a few seconds of holding each other in their arms, they were locked in a passionate embrace. As they were kissing, they took long steps towards the sofa. The hologram slowly slipped both his hands up to her shoulders and slipped off her translucent midnight blue wraparound. He then slipped one hand down her back and touched the zipper of her strapless dress with his thumb and forefinger.

    Aurellan’s eyes widened in shock, and she took her hands off the EMH’s hips and pulled her lips away from his. They had never discussed including a sexual component in their relationship, but here he was, trying to undress her during just their third date. “What are you doing?” she asked.

    The EMH took his hands off her while looking similarly confused. “This is the third date,” he matter-of-factly explained. “That’s when couples first have sexual intercourse.”

    Aurellan scoffed and picked up her wraparound off the floor, as she turned away from the hologram, not sure how to respond to that statement. “Where did you hear that?” she asked. Of course, she had recalled reading various treatises on romantic partnerships. But those were all by authors who had differing opinions on the appropriate time for couples to start having sex and who had no legitimate scientific credentials whatsoever.

    “I downloaded some new data on the subject of courtship into my program,” the holographic innocently declared. “After the last date, I felt like I was doing everything you wanted. I had hoped to be… better prepared.”

    Aurellan stared at a wall and felt a chill on her skin, prompting her to drape the wraparound back on her shoulders while still looking away from the hologram. She was not sure whether to be flattered by his desire to be “better prepared” or creeped out at the idea that he researched literature on having sex.

    After the uneasy feelings passed, she sighed and looked back at the EMH. "We really need to communicate these rather sensitive issues,” she said. “It still feels premature. For that matter, who decided the standard first date is dinner and a movie? We don’t have to do what everyone else does. What matters is how we feel about each other. That we care about each other and accept each other in a way no one else does. That’s what love is. When there’s that one person who distracts you from your work, the person you can’t stand to be separated from. We don’t necessarily need to validate it with a sexual liaison.”

    “I think I understand,” the EMH replied, noticing that Aurellan was still keeping her distance from him. “Of all the people on this ship, you are certainly the most fascinating. And while I don’t succumb to distraction, you are in a figurative sense an integral part of my life… or program. I have grown accustomed to your sensory input patterns as much as you have to mine.”

    Aurellan chuckled and held a hand to her mouth while fighting back tears at the same time. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me,” she said. “And I was worried I was moving this relationship too fast.” She took two quick steps towards, and they shared a long open-lip kiss.
  12. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant

    Limis was tossing and turning in bed, unable to lull herself to sleep with plenty on her mind. She rolled over on her left to see Q lying next to her with his left forearm propping up his head and dressed in the black leather jumpsuit of Section 31. “Hope I didn’t wake you,” he joked.

    Limis rolled away from him, flinging the bed covers aside. She put on a gray silk robe and slipped her feet into a pair of slippers. “Do you always have to do that?” she huffed while walking over to the head.

    “Not always,” Q replied, sitting up at the foot of the bed. “But I didn’t think you’d invite me into your humble abode. I just wanted to congratulate you on the success of your little excursion.”

    Limis splashed some water on her face and looked at Q with an annoyed squint. “‘Little excursion’?” she repeated with a dismissive snort. “Several of my officers were injured or killed.”

    Q stood up and parked himself in the doorway to the head with his hands on both sides. “But you were willing to do what was necessary to prevent many more lives from being lost,” he offered. “What’s that saying? ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.’”

    “That you say that so matter-of-factly sickens me,” Limis snapped. She nudged him aside, trying not to look him in the face and trudged back into the bedroom.

    “You wound me,” Q retorted while holding one hand on his heart.

    Limis rolled her eyes while pouring water from a pitcher into a glass. “Spare me your disingenuous expectations of pity,” she said while taking a sip. She then walked back over to the bed and set the glass of ice-cold water on the nightstand. “I may have improved the lives of this generation and of the generations to come,” she continued while sitting on the edge of the bed. “But in the here and now, I still have to live with the consequences for myself and the people around me. I am the one who has to send messages to the families of those killed and tell them they’re never coming home again. For disobeying orders, I may end up before a court-martial and back in a penal colony. And the Romulans will use this incident against us whenever beneficial to their own expansionist ambitions.”

    “Should you really be wasting time and energy worrying about hurting their feelings?” Q wondered, seating himself on the bed and leaning over in front of her. “It’s just a temporary alliance with a people who can never be trusted to honor any kind of peace agreement.”

    “I’m really not in the mood to debate with you,” Limis shot back. “The fact of the matter is, where you see a lower lifeform, I see people with hopes and dreams. If being as powerful and all knowing as the Q means being without empathy and compassion, then I want no part of that.”

    “Yet you’re willing to continue to put many more lives on the line for the greater good,” Q offered. “How many more will die before this war your Federation is fighting is over? How many shipmates, how many friends will you lose before it’s all said and done?”

    Q then departed in a flash. Limis sighed as she kicked off her slippers, slid off her robe and lay back down on the bed, still unable to fall asleep. She was jolted back up when a comm chime sounded.

    “Bridge to the captain,” said Kozar.

    Limis tapped the comm panel on the nightstand. “Yes, Number One?” she replied with groggy sigh.

    “We’ve just received new orders. We’re to put in at Starbase G-6 for a quick layover before embarking on a push into enemy territory.”

    “Understood. I assume you’ve already set a course.”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    “Let me know we’ve arrived at starbase. Limis out.” She closed the channel and scooped her combadge off the nightstand.

    She stared at the combadge and contemplated the confrontation that seemed inevitable since the Federation Alliance victory at Chin’toka-- the final assault against the enemy fortress.

    “It’s beginning,” she mumbled.

    The saga continues ​
    In the Season 2 Finale​
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
  13. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Looking forward to the season 2 finale, and finally this was great story! This season has been remarkably consistent (barring one or two stories) so keep up the good work!

    I also think the ending of That's Our Q is probably the perfect way to wrap up this story and move on to the next. It gave me that great 'THIS IS IT!' feeling! So keep ratcheting it up with the stories and their content!

    Finally I'm glad to see the Aurellan/EMH pairing is not the cliched one-night stand or romance of the week sort of thing. It gradually builds up, step by step, so kudos to you for that approach!
  14. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    All the different plots in the recent stories are all ways of turning up the volume and the tempo leading up to the final story.

    As the writing progresses, I'll be giving little clues here and there. First off, the story will be primarily from several different points of view: the crew of the Lambda Paz, the crew of the Seventh Fleet flagship USS Constantinople, Yelgrun and his lackeys, and a Cardassian gul, who led an enemy fleet in an earlier story, on the side of not taking up arms against his own government until various circumstances persuade him to defect.