Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Enterprise1981, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four

    Aurellan Markalis watched the sunrise over the mountains on the horizon. She analyzed the red giant star and the bright colors that surrounded it intellectually, comparing lighting effect to that of Earth’s yellow sun. She wished she could watch and appreciate the sheer beauty of a sunrise or sunset as most others could. She was distracted from these thoughts when she heard water splashing in the nearby artificial lake.

    Snežana emerged from the water. Aurellan gave a light smile. She did not bother to look away, expecting that Snežana would be wearing some type of bathing suit. That was why she let out a surprised gasp when turning her gaze away from Snežana’s fully nude body.

    “You mind handing me that towel?” Snežana asked.

    Continuing to divert her gaze, Aurellan grabbed a towel draped over a reclined lounge chair on her right and held it out to the Russian-accented woman. Snežana patted her chest with the towel before fully covering herself with it. “You’re a doctor,” she remarked. “You see naked people all the time.”

    “Naked dead people mostly,” Aurellan replied, slowly looking back at Snežana, hoping not to see certain feminine body parts. “Those cadavers from med school still give me creeps.”

    Snežana had been aware of Aurellan’s presence for some time before Aurellan was aware of Snežana’s. Snežana had deduced that Aurellan was ruminating over the events of the day before. Seamus’s impending demise and Rhys’s cavalier attitude bothered her as well. Of course, Snežana was never one to question any of Rhys’s decisions. “You seem troubled,” she offered, clasping Aurellan’s left wrist. “Tell me what bothers you.”

    Markalis began to feel tense at what seemed like a gesture of affection on the other woman’s part. But she was willing to listen to her, so Aurellan did not want to pass up this chance to unburden herself. She sat down on the lounge chair, and Snežana sat down next to her. “That Rhys doesn’t seem to care a close friend is dying,” she said hoarsely. “What does he plan to do with this virus he’s having me work on that he said will end the war?”

    “He hasn’t said anything to any of us either,” Snežana replied, placing the palm of her right hand on Aurellan’s left cheek. “I understand the need to make difficult decisions in war, decisions our leaders are not willing to make. The Dominion is unlike any other enemy the Federation has fought. Seamus was willing to give his life so that others of us are not accidentally infected.”

    Aurellan still was not feeling any better. She slowly slid Snežana’s hand off her cheek and looked away. She could understand Klingons and Romulans easily volunteering for death. Cardassians were notorious for using sentient life as a means to an end. She had never encountered humans this indifferent. As much as they claimed these decision were difficult, their lack of emotional responses said otherwise.

    “You seem uncomfortable around me,” Snežana continued. “But how do you know you are not attracted to the same gender if you’ve never been in a successful romantic relationship?”

    Markalis, again annoyed that these people knew so much about her just by her body language and facial expressions, was not sure whether Snežana was asking a rhetorical question. She considered the question for a second, visually analyzing Snežana’s wet black hair and drops of water dripping down her bare shoulders. “You just know,” she answered plainly.

    “I never believed that.”

    “Stop,” Aurellan insisted, raising her right hand thinking Snežana was leaning over to kiss her. She quickly stood up and walked away leaving Snežana to wonder what drove her off so suddently.

    Inside the house, Darcen felt a hand stroke his cheek. He opened his eyes, knowing full well that Ileana was in bed next to him, and clasped her hand to kiss it. Ileana smiled and leaned over to kiss him on the lips while stroking his bare chest. Realizing why she asked him to make love to her last night, he placed two fingers on her lips after a second kiss.

    “You were a little hard on Aurellan last night,” he said calmly.

    Ileana rolled over, lying on her back and sighing. “I see the way you look at her. Usually, I wouldn’t mind, but she’s tough to figure. How do we know her loyalties are not truly with Starfleet or the Section 31 agents who turned on us?”

    “You are correct, my love. That is why I will not reveal the specifics of our plan until she finishes work on the virus? And at the first sign of treachery, I will eliminate her myself.”

    Ileana moaned pleasingly as Rhys stroked her right ear. She shot him a devilish smile before getting out of bed. Rhys gave the same devilish smile watching as Ileana walked naked towards the shower.
  2. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four (cont'd)

    Thanks to Sergeant Galloway’s crash course, Ensign Sullivan was able to get the emergency comm-unit in working order. She was able to handle the basics of sending out a distress signal on a Starfleet frequency, while Neeley and Bowers tended to their fellow soldier-- observing that he was going into shock—by scrounging together some mangled up blankets in the emergency provisions.

    The general feelings of optimism was interrupted when a legion of ten Jem’Hadar unshrouded. The Starfleet team began running for cover and whisking essential equipment out the way of enemy weapons fire. Limis and Neeley laid down cover fire with hand phasers while the others moved Galloway and the comm-unit into the jungle. They managed to hit two of the enemy soldiers, but the rest kept coming unfazed.

    Bowers and Garak joined the women, handing them extra phaser rifles before using their own rifles to keep shooting at the Jem’Hadar. The shots managed to take down the left and right most soldiers. The four left standing paired off on two sides, continuing to fire their rifles. One Jem’Hadar lunged at Bowers from the left. Bowers pulled a knife from his holster, a Capellan kligat, and hurled it straight into his chest.

    Neeley, meanwhile, prepared to arm a photon grenade, but it had no power. That caught her off guard, as the two advancing Jem’Hadar lunged at her and Limis. They were about to go in for the kill when blasts from a hand phaser took them out. Neeley stood upright to Galloway was holding the phaser. Limis was equally astonished to see a wounded man save her life. Galloway suddenly collapsed with Neely and Bowers scrambling after him.

    After coming home from her outing with Rebecca, Vircona found Agent Chadwick waiting for her outside her house. The first thing that came to her mind was the welfare of her son. After the night before, she did not entirely trust Chadwick, intuiting that he sent those masked men to ambushed her. “You better have touched a hair on my boy’s head,” she snapped.

    “I didn’t harm your son,” Chadwick insisted. “He’s inside sleeping. I have another assignment for you.”

    “Nevertheless, let’s go in the back, so you don’t draw too much attention.”

    Chadwick curtly nodded and followed Vircona around to the back of the house. “Our Cardassian insiders report that Legate Gorat will be a VIP guest,” Chadwick stated pointedly. “His shuttle arrives tonight.”

    “And who is Legate Gorat?” Vircona asked in confusion.
    “He’s a influential member of Central Command. Getting into Gul Zarrel’s personal database was big. Gorat would be a major fountain of information.”

    Vircona considered the proposal for a long moment. Any chance to gather incriminating information on the highest levels of Cardassian government was an opportunity she could not pass up. “I’m in,” she said quietly.

    “Good. It’s the same routnine as last night.”

    After finishing her business transaction with the legate, Vircona again encountered the same masked men. Only this time, she put up less of a fight. Again, one of the masked men used a laser device extract cell samples from her neck and shoulders. Vircona waited until her assailants were a considerable distance from her and opened her eyes.

    Prior to her latest undercover operation, Vircona had ingested a large quantity of makara herbs, normally a medicinal agent for pregnant Bajoran women, in order to counteract any sedatives she would be given. She followed the sounds of the men’s footfalls down an alley. Upon turning the corner, she looked right, then left. She saw the two masked men on her left and quietly tiptoed after them.

    Vircona followed the two men to the cellar of an empty building. She slipped through the door as it was closing, crept down the stairs, and hid behind a set of old wooden crates. The two dark-haired men who had accosted her removed their masks. An older heavy-set human with thinning gray hair was already there waiting for them. She could not make out much of what the three of them were whispering, but they did mention obtaining another sample and having a better understanding of Cardassian genetic and physiological idiosyncracies.
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four (cont'd)

    Ileana and Snežana watched Markalis as she continued her modifications of the virus. Grimaud stood in a corner quietly observing the women. Ileana looked up when she saw Rhys walk down the stairs of the cellar. Though he always tried to keep a cool head and a stoic demeanor, he could not hide his somber expression from Ileana.

    “Seamus has died,” Darcen said plainly.

    Ileana and Snežana lowered their heads in a moment of silence to mourn their dead friend and colleague. Markalis caught glimpses of the other women’s momentary emotional vulnerability. She could even tell that Grimaud was feeling a sense of loss though his face didn’t show it. After her converstion with Rhys, Aurellan thought she would be able to exploit this from Darcen’s followers.

    “But we must make sure his death was not in vain,” Darcen added as he continued down the stairs. “Aurellan, have you finished modifying the virus?”

    “I have four different strains of the virus,” Markalis replied. “Human and Betazoid augments could be immune to one or all of them. I don’t have enough antibody samples to run further tests.”

    “Of course you do,” Darcen answered sharply. “The four of us.”

    Markalis was at a loss for words. Was he actually suggesting that she infect him and his followers with the virus? “You don’t mean… “ she began with hesitation.

    “Yes,” Darcen snapped. “I want you to infect each of us with the virus.” Seeing the look of worry on his lover’s face that only one of them would die, he added, “Some ideals are worth dying for, Ileana.”

    “Yes, my love,” Ileana replied, as they kissed.

    Markalis prepared vials of the four different virus strains and injected Grimaud, then Ileana, and then Snežana. When she stepped over to Rhys, she had a morbid feeling just from his cold demeanor. “Come on,” he snapped. Aurellan placed the last vial into the hypospray injected him with the virus.

    “Now that that’s over with,” he said with a slight grin. “Our destination is Ventani Two.”

    Darcen saw Markalis’s eyebrows twitch at that planet’s mention. “I trust you know of it, Aurellan,” he continued.
    “It was the home of Tret Akleen,” Markalis replied. “He’s considered the father of the modern day Cardassian Union.”

    “Correct. It is not one of the most strategically significant sectors of Dominion-space. But it would be a demoralizing blow to the Cardassians.”

    “It would send a message that the same fate would befall other planets in the Cardassian Union,” Ileana added.

    “Even their home planet,” Snežana chimed in.

    The three of them exchanged devilish grins, but Aurellan kept quiet, biting her lower lips to keep from hiding her own fears. Even the residents of Ventani were Cardassians, many of them were innocent civilians. And so far the Dominion had not used biological weapons in its war against the Federation and its allies. An attack of this magnitude would give the Founders an excuse to do just that.

    Markalis looked up at the ceiling unable to sleep that night. She was not sure what bothered her more. That she helped with the virus Darcen and his group were planning to unleash, or that she would be partially responsible for so many deaths. Since this was her first undercover assignment, the fact that her actions were part of that assignment offered little consolation. Having not changed out of her daytime clothes, she figured she could make a run for it.

    Aurellan tiptoed around the house to make sure everyone was sleeping. Rhys and Ileana were asleep in one room, while Snežana was asleep in another. She could not find Grimaud anywhere, but maybe that was a good thing. But then she had no idea the full range of his telepathy. From a dark corner, the Betazoid did see her exit the front door.
  4. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Five

    Erhlich Tarlazzi was pulling another all-nighter two days after the USS Lambda Paz lost contact with the captain’s yacht. The last message from Limis indicated the yacht encountered two Cardassian patrol vessels just outside star system M-317. The transmission terminated in the middle of the message, so the crew was uncertain as fate of the away team. Erhlich was tasked with extrapolating broken up pieces of the last message and to make every effort to reestablish contact. He knew that Vircona and Becca could look out for themselves, so could the MACO’s who had accompanied them. No matter how many times he told himself that each time one of his colleagues went missing, he would not be satisfied until these crewmates were safely back on board.

    Though senior engineering officer Charles Logan had been temporarily elevated to executive officer in the captain’s absence, he could not stay out of engineering while Tarlazzi was in charge. Tarlazzi had reminded numerous times how eccentric Starfleet engineers were, and that kept him from going over Chaz’s head by complaining to acting captain Ronnie Kozar.

    Tarlazzi was in the process of extrapolating course based on the location and time index of the emergency distress beacon’s activation when Logan called him out to the dilithium chamber. What now? Granted, Logan was the chief, but Tarlazzi was starting to wonder when the commander would leave and let him get some work done.

    “This dilithium alignment is off by point six microns,” Logan chided the former Maquis.

    “You’re now going to tell me that isn’t within safety specifications,” Tarlazzi huffed. “Those plasma storms we passed through this morning were interfering with the nacelle field emitters… “

    A communication alert sounded on the situation room console Tarlazzi was working. He cut his explanation to Logan short to answer the hail “Code Seven emergency transmission,” he said, reading the words blinking on a readout screen in red letters.

    “The captain?” Logan asked.

    “I doubt that. He’s in his quarters sleeping.”

    Logan rolled his eyes wondering if Tarlazzi could go two minutes without cracking a joke. “You know who I’m referring to,” he snapped.

    “It’s an encrypted transmission addressed to Captain Limis.”

    “But she’s not here. The sender might not know that.”

    Ronnie Kozar had been a light sleeper since he first became a troop commander during the last Federation-Cardassian war. It came with the territory of being called in to oversee an emergency situation at a moment’s notice. He was immediately shaken awake when a communications chime sounded. “Go ahead,” he called out while sitting up and slowly increasing the light level.

    “It’s Logan, sir,” Logan replied over the audio channel. “There’s an incoming encrypted message for you. We’re routing it to your quarters.”

    “Understood,” Kozar sighed. He grabbed a robe draped over the bed and put it on before walking over to the wall-mounted monitor across the room. “Computer, receive transmission. Recognize Kozar, authorization one-one-seven Beta Bravo.”

    Pixels on the screen assembled into the seal of the United Federation of Planets. The face of Aurellan Markalis then appeared on the screen to Kozar’s astonishment. He had offered to temporarily relieve her duty when Limis announced her intentions to arrest Darcen and his fellow Augments for their actions on Epsilon Trianguli. “Commander Kozar,” she said, looking over her right shoulder. “Where’s Captain Limis? I have an urgent message for her.”

    “She’s off-ship looking for you actually,” Kozar impatiently replied. He bit his lip trying to hide his anger that a Section 31 agent had served as his chief medical officer for the last fifteen months. “Give me one good reason why we shouldn’t have you discharged from the service.”

    “I know how this looks,” Markalis implored. “But I am not with Section 31. I left the ship with the survivor from Epsilon Trianguli because of a telepathic subliminal message. One of Darcen’s people is a Betazoid with enhanced telepathic abilities.”

    Kozar sighed in disgust not sure whether to believe this explanation. He knew from accounts of her patients that Aurellan had certain tells on her face when she was being less than truthful. This time, she truly believed what she was saying—unless she was being telepathically manipulated to say this.

    “Section 31 may trample on the core values of the Federation,” Markalis continued. “But they are charged with protecting the Federation. They tracked down these super-humans to find out what they plan to do with a biological weapon. The target is the Ventani system, home of the founder of the Cardassian Union.”

    Kozar kept a calm demeanor as considered the devastating effects of a group of humans using a biological agent to attack one of the most sacred Cardassian colonies. It would validate the Founders’ fear of Solids. He started to speak when static filled the screen. He tried to no avail to reestablish contact.

    He walked back to the bed and pressed the comm-panel on the nightstand. “Kozar to bridge. Yellow alert. And set up a secure comm-link with Admiral Dennings in my quarters.”
    “Understood,” replied a masculine voice on the audio channel.

    Darcen had fired a phaser at the monitor screen Markalis was using. She turned around to see Darcen lunge towards her and clutch her neck. She instinctively grabbed his arm to get him off her. “I had hoped you were spying on Starfleet,” he hissed. “But now I see you are with them spying on us.”
    Markalis continued trying to get Darcen’s hand off her neck, even knowing efforts were futile. “I have five times your strength,” he continued. “Do not resist it.”

    Markalis released her grasp and Darcen released his. She fell to the ground coughing.

    Lisa Neeley held a medical tricorder over the dead body of Les Galloway. The tricorder emitted a high-pitched whine indicating the patient’s vital functions had ceased. Neeley breathed heavily, tears streaming down her face. She was mostly angry with herself for selecting such a young man for this seemingly routine mission. She should have known that no mission in a war zone was routine. She gathered herself and tapped her combadge. “Time of death,” she said calmly, “1600 hours, 13 minutes.”

    Bowers stood behind his MACO colleagues watching as Neeley closed the dead soldier’s eyes. He then turned around and shot Limis a disgusted glare. She and Sullivan were observing from several meters away. “Was his life was worth getting us off this planet?” he snarled. “Now that we barely dodged a Jem’Hadar ambush, we may have given away our position. And we’re all as good as dead.”

    “Hopefully, a Starfleet ship will find us before then,” Limis ruefully replied.

    “What if one doesn’t?” Bowers asked, storming towards the captain, “The Jem’Hadar will send reinforcements once their friends don’t report back.”

    Neeley got up, and seeing her subordinate lunging at Limis in a cold rage, turned him and decked him in the jaw. “Before you start complaining,” Neeley snapped as Bowers felt his sore jaw, “I just saved you from a court martial.”

    “He is right about one thing,” Limis announced to the rest of the group. “More Jem’Hadar will be here eventually. So we need to get out of here, even if the computer’s grating voice tells us that’s against protocol.”

    Not wanting to leave his dead colleague behind, Bowers stood upright and picked up Galloway’s corpse,. Limis and Neeley picked up the emergency comm unit, and began leading the way into the jungle.

    Darcen held an unconscious Markalis in his arms as he entered the house. Ileana was waiting for him in the foyer. They did not need to exchange any words regarding what Aurellan was up to. Grimaud, who had warned Rhys and Snežana entered the room as Rhys came throught the front door and set Markalis down on the floor. “She contacted Starfleet,” he explained.

    “Then we need to leave right away,” Snežana replied.

    “Exactly,” said Rhys.

    “What about her?” Ileana asked, indicating Markalis. “Kill her like you said you would?”

    “I’d rather use her as a hostage if Starfleet tracks us down,” Rhys answered. “Load everything into the ship.”

    A few hours later, a Hideki-class Cardassian patrol Darcen’s group ascended from the surface of Tagra Four. This way, the group would be able to enter Cardassian territory without arousing much suspicion. Once the ship cleared the planet’s atmosphere, it streaked into warp.

    In “A Cause of Greater Worth”​
  5. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    "A Cause of Greater Worth"

    The crew of the USS Lambda Paz is in a race against time to prevent a group of Human Augments from unleashing a deadly biological weapon on an historically significant planet within the Cardassian Union. While Captain Limis Vircona embarks on a daring rescue of Doctor Aurellan Markalis, she remembers how she had to overcome her hatred of Cardassians to avert a major catastrophe.

    Historian’s Note: The present-day events of this story take place concurrently with the events of “Chrysalis” (DS9). The flashback scenes take place fourteen years earlier in the Earth year 2361.



    Limis Vircona stood behind a set of old wooden containers, watching three humans discussing Cardassian genetic and physiological idiosyncracies. She had been accosted by two of the humans after she carried out a mission for Starfleet Intelligence. Twice, she was sent to a Cardassian observation post on Volan Three posing as a street prostitute selling herself first to the gul in charge of the Cardassian observation post, and then to a visiting legate. Once she had infiltrated the post, she would gather intelligence on her clients. After completing both transactions, she was ambushed by two masked men, though the second time, Vircona had the foresight to ingest large quantities of makara herbs to counteract the sedative.

    If the purpose of her infiltrations was to get samples of Cardassian genetic material, Agent Chadwick probably would have said so. Why would they need to resort to such clandestine maneuvering to get their samples? Unless they wanted to create a biological agent to use against the Cardassians. Vircona quickly dismissed that idea since the Federation was not an organization that resorted to biological warfare. Then she heard the three humans not quite having the means to create a suitable biological agent to use against Cardassians.

    Vircona’s eyes widened in disbelief. While a number of Terrans she had encountered on this backwoods planet along the far reaches of the Federation frontier came off as presumptuous and sanctimonious, what these men planning was hardly typical Terran behavior. Perhaps these particular humans did not answer to the Federation or Starfleet.

    She grabbed part of one of the wooden crates to boost herslef upright. A small chunk of wood broke off, so Vircnoa instinctively ran for the exit from which she came. That brief noise did catch the attention of one of the humans, a heavy-set male with thinning gray hair. He saw the shadow of a humanoid bolting towards the door.He fired his phaser pistol hoping to stop the intruder’s escape. He was only able to put two phaser burns in the door as it was closing.

    Vircona headed straight for the residence of Rebecca Sullivan, the human girl she befriended a few days earlier. Rebecca was more open-minded than most of the supposedly enlightened Federation member races who resided on Volan Three. Some of them thought themselves superior to Bajorans because they lived much more privleged lives. Maybe they found Bajoran religious beliefs to be primitive. Perception was very much reality for Vircona, yet Rebecca was more representative of a more enlightened race of people.

    Vircona surveyed the back of the house to find the bedroom where Rebecca would be sleeping. She shined a flashlight upwards towards the sky to avoid the appearance of a stalker. She had been on the receiving end when Chadwick was sneaking around outside her one-room tenement. The flashligtht created sufficient light on the window to identify who was inside sleeping. Despite the darkness, she was able to recognize the dark-haired girl. Vircona shined the flashlight towards Rebecca’s bed and quietly tapped on the glass.

    Rebecca rolled over on her back letting out barely audible snores. Vircona then banged on the glass with her fist. That shook Rebecca awake. Naturally, she thought an intruder was trying to get inside the house. She leaned down towards the floor to grab a metallic club to attack the intruder.Just as she was trying to roll out of bed, she heard a feminine voice call her name. “Becca! Becca!”

    Rebecca turned on the lamp on her nightstand and quickly tiptoed over to the window and instantly recognized her Bajoran friend. “Vira,” she whispered, sliding the glass open. “What are you doing here?”

    Vircona crawled through the now open window, landing hands first on the floor. Rebecca helped her back up and sat her down on the bed. “I’m not sure who else to turn to,” Vircona said through labored breaths. “But I think a group of humans are trying to create a biological agent and use it against the Cardassians on this planet.”

    “What?” Rebecca gasped before covering her mouth to keep her voice from carrying. She was just as shocked as when Vircona came to the same conclusion. In the two-hundred year history of the Federation, it had never resorted to using biological weapons in its wars. In fact, they were outlawed by nearly every interstellar treaty. “The Federation and Starlleet would never endorse such a thing,” she assuredly stated.

    “They’re most likely renegades operating on their own,” Vircona replied.

    “Have you tried contacting the authorities?”

    “My gut tells me that was Chadwick’s plan all along. He recruited me into Starfleet Intelligence and had me posing as a street whore.”

    Rebecca shook her head in disbelief. She remembered that morning the skimpy outfit Vircona was wearing over her long jacket. Vircona cliamed she worked the night shift at a deuterium refinery and then fell asleep in a back alley. “This is a lot to take in,” she said. “So you think Starfleet Intelligence is involved?”

    “Maybe they’re a black ops organization. I don’t know…”

    The conversation was interrupted by the sound of a feminine voice calling to Rebecca in the hallway. Instantaneously, Rebecca lay down on the bed and turned the light off. At the same time, Vircona dove out of the window.

    Ardis Sullivan entered the room without knocking calling Rebecca's name again. “What’s going on?” she demanded of her daughter, expressing both worry and annoyance at being woken up in the middle of the night. “I heard noises.”

    “I did hear some banging outside my window,” Rebecca lied. “Might have been the wind.”

    Ardis gave a slack-jawed nod while noticing that the window was open, meaning her daughter was sneaking a friend in the house. “We’ll talk in the morning,” she said, heading back out and closing the door.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2010
  6. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter One


    The Luna-class USS Derna fell out of the warp on the far side of a moon orbiting an M-class planet firing its phasers at its phasers at two Jem’Hadar fighters flanking a larger battleship. After the enemy fighters took minimal damage, the Derna fired quantum torpedoes at the battleship, whose shields absorbed the hit. The Derna continuing streaking towards the planet at maximum impulse while it fired its aft quantum torpedoes.

    “Two more Jem’Hadar fighters coming around from the far side of the planet,” said the blonde female Bajoran tactical officer, Lieutenant Natalia Azin.

    “Target quantum torpedoes on those ships once they’re in visual range,” Captain Lenaris Holem called, ascending from his chair and sauntering towards the flight controller, Ensign Ruhn Tabin. “Helm, move us to the edge of the atmosphere before slowing to quarter impulse.”

    “How close to the edge?” a young brunette male Bajoran nervously asked.

    “As close as you can get,” Lenaris replied.

    Commander Casey Johns got up from his chair on the command chair’s right. He was one of a few non-Bajorans of a mostly Bajoran crew. The tall muscular blonde-haired human dwarfed Lenaris by several centimeters. He was not sure what to make of the captain’s risky plan. “It’s going to be awfully close,” he remarked.

    “We’re here on a rescue mission,” said Lenaris. “We’re not going to abandon it because it’s difficult or because we’ve run into a couple of bullies.” He looked over to the young male ensign at the port bridge engineering station. “Feed as much power as you can into the lateral thrusters.”

    “Slowing to one-quarter impulse,” Ruhn reported.

    The bridge began rumbling as the ship was becoming overwhelmed by the planet’s gravity well. The Luna-class starship was not specifically built for atmospheric maneuvering. But neither were Jem’Hadar fighters even though that did not stop them. “Watch the structural integrity!” Lenaris shouted to the male operations officer. At that same moment, enemy weapons fire had everyone on the bridge struggling keep their footing. Lenaris was clutching the arms of his chair as the ship regained its attitude control. “Return fire!” he added.

    Natalia quickly regained her footing and lunged back to her station. She also pushed a red button to fire aft torpedoes in the same motion. Two phaser discharges tore into the ventral of both ships sending them spiraling towards the surface.

    “Any sign of Captain Limis and her team?” Lenaris inquired.

    “They’re not at the coordinates we received,” Ensign Cam Arat grimly replied from the Ops console.

    Lenaris expected his executive officer to quote the regulation involving crashed escape pods on planetary surfaces. After all, Johns was assigned there by Starfleet Intelligence to keep a close eye on him after his previous second-in-command was found to be a terrorist operative. “Probably to throw off the Jem’Hadar,” Johns suggested, much to Lenaris’s pleasant surprise.

    “Those first three ships we encountered,” Natalia chimed in, “are coming at us from behind.”

    “Divert power to aft shields,” Lenaris quickly replied. “Keep our stern on the enemy ships, helm. Ops, lock on transporters and get our people aboard the second you locate them.”

    The Derna began firing quantum torpedoes at the battleship and phasers at the flanking fighters. The Jem’Hadar kept closing in with the battleship’s plasma torpedoes tearing off a chunk of the Derna’s aft saucer section.

    “Take us further down,” Lenaris barked at the helmsman. “Watch those engines,” he said to the engineer. “We may need warp drive quickly.”

    “I have transporter lock,” Cam reported. “Energizing.”

    “Transporter room,” Lenaris called over the comm as the bridge continued trembling, “do you have them?”

    “We’re all here, Captain,” Limis answered. “One dead on arrival,” she dryly added, referring to the MACO soldier who died on the planet’s surface. Carrying around a dead body seemed morbid and even heavily burdensome. But it was the least Limis could do to honor Les Galloway’s sacrifice so that the rest of the team could be rescued.

    “Full impulse till we clear the atmosphere,” Lenaris ordered the flight controller. “Then punch it up to Warp Six.”

    The Derna arched upward to escape and then streaked into warp.
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    [LEFT]The Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel used by Rhys Darcen and his group of fellow Augments left the Tagra system and was on course for the Ventani system. Darcen’s plan was to contaminate the atmosphere of Ventani Two, the home of the founder of the modern day Cardassian Union. He had hoped that Ventani would be the first of many long-standing colonies in the Union deal a demoralizing blow to the Cardassians.

    Darcen christened this ship the Phillip Green, after one of the most infamous criminals of Earth’s Third World War. Green had committed terrible atrocities almost all of twenty-fourth century humanity would consider morally unacceptable. On the other hand, Darcen admired Green for his willingness to look beyond moral inhibitions in order to improve the human race. Though Green was not one of the genetically engineered super-humans of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Darcen admired his willingness to make hard decisions in the never-ending struggle for survival.

    Aurellan Markalis was tied to a shiny silver-colored chair in unfurnished crew quarters. Her head drooped as she drifted in and out of consciousness, wondering what the near future held. This was not the first time her own carelessness had gotten her captured. Grimaud, a Betazoid with enhanced telepathic abilities would have known of her intent to call for help the second Aurellan had thought of it.

    Speaking of whom, the youthful blonde entered the makeshift brig. He stared blankly at Aurellan. As far as she knew, Grimaud never spoke, choosing instead to communicate telepathically. Snežana Ilochko entered behind Grimaud, wheelong in a metal cart. The raven-haired Russian woman batted her eye lashes at Aurellan. She was attracted to the beautiful young blonde since they first met, using that to try to get Markalis to open up to her. Snežana thought she had gotten through to Markalis until she got the mistaken impression she was trying to kiss her.

    “Good evening,” Snezana said with a curt smile. “We have a few questions for you. Grimaud will make sure you cooperate.”

    Markalis was still feeling groggy despite the stimulant Snezana injected into her carotid artery. She wasn’t certain whether the sedatives in her bloodstream or the concussion Darcen gave her were more of a factor. “You shouldn’t give me stimulants,” she groaned.

    “You will survive,” Snezana retorted. “You are not bleeding internally. Now, what does Starfleet plan to do to stop us?”

    Markalis gave Snezana a contemptous glare. She was already angry with herself for helping the Augments improve their weaponized virus. Her cover was blown, so why would she help them now? “Why are you doing this?” she demanded.

    “For the survival of the human race,” Snezana coldly replied. “For us to live, others must die. This war is among many in a continuous struggle for survival.”

    Markalis sighed in disbelief at hearing Snezana echo Rhys’s claims that compassion was for the weak. She glanced at the still blank-face Grimaud, then back at Snezana. “You actually believe that BS?” she asked them curiously.

    Snezana looked over her left shoulder as if instructing Grimaud not to respond. He never seemed to respond verbally to anything anyway. She just wanted to make sure he was not at all swayed by the exposed undercover operative.

    “So you just do what Rhys tells you? No questions asked.”

    Snezana grabbed the hair on Markalis’s scalp, gritting her teeth. “Do not try to play us against each other,” she snarled. “I ask again. What is Starfleet planning?”

    “I know nothing,” Aurellan confidently replied.

    “Don’t lie. Grimaud can see inside your head. He’ll find out what I want to know.”

    Grimaud slowly walked over to Aurellan, looking straight into her eyes. Snezana took a hypospray off the equipment cart and injected Aurellan with it. “You agents train yourselves to block telepathy,” she explained. She kneeled down in front of her prisoner. Grimaud placed his hands on Snezana’s head in order to act as a telepathic conduit between the two women.

    Aurellan found herself standing in an endless black void. Yet somehow, she was standing upright rather than floating. Mist was billowing around her. She could sense the presence of Snezana though she was nowhere to be seen. But then in the blink of an eye, Snezana stood in front of her. Instead of her camoflagued colored trousers and black sleeveless shirt, she was now dressed in a form fitting black leather jumpsuit. She was standing so close, Aurellan thought she was going to kiss her on the lips, as she seemed to want to do back on Tagra. Aurellan wanted to walk away, but she couldn’t this time no matter how much she willed herself away.

    “Give me your thoughts,” Snezana breathed, through her thick red lipstick. “Let me know what you know.”

    “I can’t help you,” Aurellan defiantly answered.

    “Don’t resist, Aurellan. I will break through eventually.” Snezana then planted her lips on Aurellan’s.

    All of a sudden, Snezana pulled back and began grabbing her head. She was showing symptoms of the virus her group was planning to use against the Cardassians. Darcen had asked Aurellan to infect him, Grimaud, Snezana, and his lover Ileana Roshanak. That was his method of learning which of the four strains to which Augments were immune.

    “It’s beginning, isn’t it?” Aurellan taunted, though she would never outwardly take pleasure in another being’s impeding death. IN this case, she had to do whatever was necessary to evict this mental intruder.

    “The virus will dissolve your blood,” she continued, “and eat away at your brain. You will get weaker, as you die a slow… painful death.”

    Grimaud took his hands off Snezana’s head as he was feeling the same pain as her. They quickly regained their composure, but Snezana was still feeling sharp pains in her forehead. She looked curiously at Grimaud wondering if he was still mentally strong enough to go back into Aurellan’s mind.

    Grimaud gave a soft nod yes. Before Snezana could act, she heard a masculine voice in her earpiece. Rhys and Ileana were monitoring the session from the ready room. “That’s enough for now,” he said with a mixed Briitish and Scotish accent. “Try again in the morning.”

    The two Augments left Markalis’s room as instructed. Darcen then turned off the oval-shaped wall-mounted monitor behind the desk. Ileana wrapped her muscular arms around Rhys’s chest and rested her head on the side of his left shoulder.

    “You’re not giving up that easily,” she snidely asked.

    “Of course not,” Darcen replied with a derisive snort. “I had to see what kind of resistance Aurellan would mount. And Snezana’s condition will only worsen. You can try again tomorrow.”

    “Why can’t Grimaud do this himself?”

    “His ability to communicate telepathically with non-telepathic races,” Rhys explained, “is limited to single words and images. But somehow, he can still act as a telepathic conduit between two people using a Vulcan technique called bridging of minds.”

    Ileana smirked wondering what use Grimaud was anyway if he never talked. “So if he becomes ill,” she quipped, “we’re all done for.”

    Rhys grabbed Ileana’s arms and shoved her away. “I don’t care for your sarcasm,” he hissed. “He’ll do what he can. Even if Aurellan knows nothing, we can still use her as a hostage. Although I would hate to have to kill her.”

    Ileana rolled her eys in annoyance. She knew that Rhys was instantly attracted to Aurellan. Ileana tolerated his eyeing of other women, especially since even Snezana had shared their bed. In this case, the group knew very little about Aurellan, and even her willingness to help was not sufficient to assuage Ileana’s suspicions. “If you don’t have the balls, I’ll be more than happy to do it for you,” she teased.

    Rhys raised a hand ready to strike his woman for that emasculating remark. Then he remembered the trait he found most attractive about Ileana was her willingness to set herself apart from stereotypical human women. Hitting her would only validate the antiquated gender roles he wished to ignore. “You will not physically harm her,” he stated plainly. “Once this is over, she’s yours to do with as you please.”

    Ileana smiled wickedly. She could hardly wait for the chance to exactvengeance on the peson who nearly derailed their plans.[/LEFT]
    Within two hours of having retrieved the USS Lambda Paz’s missing personnel, the Derna met up with her sister ship. Executive officer Ronnie Kozar stepped into the transporter room where engineer Erhlich Tarlazzi was already waiting. Kozar just gave a nod of acknowlegement, hoping that the Vulcanoid Rigelian received Commander Chaz Logan’s blessing since the chief engineer was constantly looking over Tarlazzi’s shoulder following the last skirmish with the Jem’Hadar. On a similar note, Kozar thought a lot of the Maquis on board needed a crash course in separating their professional and personal lives. Tarlazzi, Limis Vircona, and Rebecca Sullivan were virtually inseparable in the Maquis, but there was such a thing as too much fraternization in Starfleet.

    Kozar glanced over to the transporter chief, ordering him to energize. Limis and her immediately materialized. Sullivan was also on the transport pad, as was MACO chief Lisa Neeley, Sergeant Sam Bowers, and Elim Garak. The most unusual sight was the dead body of Les Galloway, not to mention the presence of a Cardassian mission specialist on the Starfleet ship. Garak, however, many Starfleet reminded themselves, was no run-of-the-mill Cardassian.

    “No way I was going to leave him rotting on that planet,” Limis explained to the two medical technicians lifting Galloway’s corpse onto an anti-gravity stretcher.

    The captain noticed Erhlich hug Rebecca. Vircona then raised a hand as a reminder to her friend that such a display of affection towards his captain was inappropriate. As the rest of her team exited through the main doorway, Limis, Sullivan, and Tarlazzi walked out a side door with Kozar bringing up the rear. He jogged down a corridor to catch up to his CO. “I received a transmssion from Doctor Markalis,” he said as he overtook her.

    Limis did not know how to respond to that name after her efforts to retrieve the chief medical officer went horribly awry. Markalis escaped the ship after Limis announced her intent to arrest Dacren and his group for the attack on the Epsilon Trianguli outpost.

    “She says the Augments plan to hit Ventani Two with a biological agent,” Kozar continued. “If they actually are planning that kind of attack on the home of the founder of the modern-day Cardassian Union… “

    “The consequences would be cataclysmic,” said Limis, finishing Kozar’s statement.

    “A few more dead spoonheads,” Tarlazzi retored. “Big deal.”

    “You’re out of line, Lieutenant,” Kozar snapped.

    Civilians, Tarlazzi,” Limis added. “That would give the Dominion an excuse to use biological and chemical weapons against us, which, thank the Prophets, they haven’t done to this point.” Then to her first officer, she said, “Kozar, pull up a list of all ships that departed Tagra in the last seventy-two hours and note anything that might seem suspicious. Dismissed.”

    She gave that instruction so quickly to be rid of Kozar so she could dress down her former Maquis colleague privately. Kozar was happy to oblige even knowing ship’s discipline was his responsibility. But Limis always seemed to want to handle the Maquis on her own.

    “It’s about time someone made those kinds of tough choices,” Rebecca chimed in. “Show those Cardie bastards two can play at that game.”

    Limis quietly shooed Erhlich away for a heart-to-heart with Rebecca. For a long moment, Vircona was so gauled by Rebecca’s remark, she was speechless.

    “Are you sorry the ‘missiles’ weren’t real?” she then blurted out, referring to the coded message they sent to Rebecca’s now dead husband Michael Eddington, allowing him to retreive from the Badlands. Rebecca sent a message claiming that destructive missile were headed for Cardassia Prime in retaliation for the Dominion’s mass slaughter of the Maquis and any other colonists in the former Demilitarized Zone the Jem’Hader did not hesitate to eliminate. Limis had always wanted to exact some of kind of revenge as well, but this was not the kind of situation where two wrongs made a right.

    “Maybe a little bit,” Rebecca ruefully admitted.

    “This isn’t the way to do it, Becca. You used to be an idealist. What happened?”

    Rebecca smirked, as Vircona knew the answer to that question. “The last fourteen years happened,” she retorted.

    Rebecca sat staring at her breakfast, stroking syrup on her barely eaten groat cakes with a fork. She drooped her head downward to avoid looking at her parents. Her mother sat at the end of the table on her right sipping coffee and wondering what Rebecca found so fascinating about a stack of groat cakes. Ardis was also exchanging awkward stares across the table with her husband Raymond. Both parents were patiently waiting for their daughter to explain the univited visitor during the night.

    Eventually, Ardis lost patience and loudly thumped her mug onto the table. “That Bajoran woman was here last night,” she calmly said.

    Rebecca sighed, sensing an emphasis on Vircona’s race. Just the day before, Ardis referred to the Bajorans’ religion as backwards superstitions. After that incident, Rebecca had avoided conversation with both parents on the subject of Vircona and her plan to bring a girl as her date to a school dance. She especially avoided such discussions with her mother after the surprisingly prejudiced comment. From what she knew about human history, humans had overcome prejudice towards each other but were still capable of prejudice towards non-humans and even non-humanoids.

    “She’s Bajoran,” Rebecca retorted. “I hadn’t noticed.”

    “I’m concerned about protecting you from yourself, Becca,” Ardis replied. “We’ve matured beyond the need to believe in superstition supernatural forces.”

    “So what’s wrong with that?” Rebecca wondered. “There are so many mysteries of this universe. And the Federation is all about diverse points of view.”

    “You’re absolutely right,” Ardis relented. “It’s just that…”

    Ardis was not sure of how to word his distrust of Vircona when Raymond chimed in. “Her lifestyle makes her a possible bad influence.”

    “She’s had a rough life,” Rebecca insisted.

    “We’re all been dealt bad breaks every now and then,” said Ardis, “but we don’t all turn into hookers. That’s hardly setting a good example for her kid.”

    Rebecca was tempted to explain why Vircona was engaged in prostitution, but then remembered it was part of her work for Starfleet Intelligence, so Rebecca instantaneously decided not to mention it. “Fair enough,” she said instead. “But she says it’s all about making sure the kid has a better life than he could have on Bajor.”

    “We’d still like to meet her,” Raymond suggested. “Nothing too formal though.”

    “Sure,” Ardis added. “There’s no need to be sneaking around.”

    Rebecca was relieved to hear that, but the suggestion made her feel as nervous as introducing a new boyfriend to her parents. “Sure,” she reluctantly answered. She suddenly found her appetite, consuming her meal quickly in order to get out of the room sooner and ruminate privately.

    She quietly entered her room not noticing the masked figure standing behind the open door. She walked over to her bed and picked up a duffel bag, setting it down on the bed. The intruder tiptoed over to Rebecca and clasped a hand on her mouth, wrapping the other arm around her abdomen to drag her towards the window.

  8. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Two

    Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison looked over Elim Garak’s shoulder as the Cardassian was sifting the lists of ships that had departed Tagra Four in the last seventy-two hours. Morrison had heard during his years of service that Cardassians were known for having photographic memories, though Garak assured him such a notion was mostly a myth perpetrated by the Cardassian military. Garak was still more than happy to help. Just before his assignment to the Seventh Fleet, he had suffered a nervous breakdown from feelings of intense guilt over acting against his own people. A Founder had once warned him of the fate that would befall Cardassia should such an opportunity arise. Now, this latest turn of events that had taken place was now a major opportunity to save Cardassian lives.

    So far, Morrison and Garak found nothing out of the ordinary. Every ship on the manifests obtained from Tagran authorities had been legitimately registered. “This could take all night,” the security chief complained.

    Commander Kozar sauntered over to the mission operations console behind the tactical station when hearing Morrison voice his displeasure. “Got a hot date tonight?” the first officer teased.

    “I had planned an all-nighter reviewing our security protocols,” Morrison sarcastically answered.

    “We won’t hold you here too long.”

    “We’ve found nothing out of the ordinary so far though.”

    “Unless,” Garak chimed in, “the Cardassians make regular cargo runs to Tagra Four.”

    Garak magnified an image of a Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel on the station’s monitor screen. Morrison squinted to read the written specifications of the vessel appearing underneath the image. “All Starfleet ships that were in the Tagra system sent us their sensor logs,” Morrison explained to Kozar. “We ran a search algorithm for any evidence of non-Federation vessels and link them to any false ship registries.”

    “I just came across a Tarkalian freighter with a forged registry,” Garak added. “It may be this patrol ship the USS Cumberland picked up on a passive scan.”

    “Good work, gentlemen,” Kozar said. He turned to address Ensign Sullivan at the helm. “Ensign, we’re forwarding you some specs on a Cardassian cruiser made to look like a Tarkalian freighter on long-range sensors. Once you’ve located it, set a course to intercept.”

    “Understood,” Rebecca answered. “We’re on course for the Ventani system. Sensors will be calibrated to locate that ship headed for the same destination.”

    Kozar nodded an acknowledgment, then said to Morrison, “Looks like can call it a day, Commander.”

    Without even a thank you, Morrison headed for the starboard bridge turbolift. Kozar then began yawning. “I could use some sleep too,” he remarked. “You have the bridge, Mister Huckaby,” he instructed the dark-skinned human ensign at the operations console. “And make sure Mister Garak doesn’t break anything.”

    Garak gave a smirk. By his own admission, he seemed more at ease in a Starfleet environment when people did not trust him.

    Captain Limis was in a teleconference in the main observation lounge with fellow senior officers. The subject of discussion was how to prevent an attack on a Cardassian colony from rogue super-humans. Each of the officers involved agreed that such an attack would have deadly consequences for the Federation and its allies. Since the war began, neither side had resorted to using biological and chemical weapons. If humans used a biological weapon against an ally of the Dominion, the Founders would certainly retaliate in kind. And while intelligence reports suggested that no prominent Cardassian military leader was outwardly siding against the Dominion, but many in the military were beginning doubting the Dominion’s promises of galactic domination. An attack on Ventani Two, however, would likely give credibility to the Dominion’s anti-Federation propaganda.

    “So we’re all in agreement,” said Rear Admiral Edward Jellico, pictured on the top left quadrant of the monitor screen, “that the attack on Ventani must be prevented at all costs.”

    Limis and the other participants in the conference all answered affirmatively. To the right of Jellico’s image was Captain Benjamin Sisko, commander of Deep Space Nine and presently leading a training exercise on the USS Defiant. Klingon General Martok, commanding the IKS Negh’Var, appeared on the bottom left quadrant while Lieutenant Commander Worf, commanding the IKS Rotarran, was on the bottom right.

    “The question now is how to reach Ventani before the Augments do,” Limis added, “without giving the Cardassians the impression that one of their most historic landmarks will come under attack.”

    “The system is of little strategic significance to the Dominion,” said Martok, who was commanding several recon missions into enemy territory, “but the Cardassians will undoubtedly send a garrison of their own to intercept any enemy fleets.”

    “What if we warn the Cardassians?” Jellico suggested, much to the annoyance of the other teleconference participants. “Just to remind everyone,” the admiral continued before anyone else could speak, “we’re considering all possible options no matter how outlandish.”

    “That would be a mistake, sir,” Sisko said. “It would be no different that allowing the attack to go forward. I was in the unenviable position of having to help the Cardassians track down the Defiant when it fell into Maquis hands. We were not officially at war with the Cardassians then.”

    “We will still need to create some kind of diversion,” Worf added, “since the Dominion could still try to use this situation to their advantage.”

    “We’re still in the process of locating the Augments’ ship,” Limis stated. “There’s still the possibility of locating them before they reach Cardassian space.”

    “But if that doesn’t work out,” Jellico replied, “and it usually doesn’t, have a Plan B ready to put in motion.”

    “Understood,” Worf and the two captains answered.

    Qa’Pla!” Martok added-- which Limis understood to be Klingonese for success—as the whole screen went blank, leaving only the Starfleet logo.

    Limis leaned back in her chair to consider all of her conflicted feelings. She did many things she wished she could undo in her history fighting the Cardassians, including massacring civilians en masse. She tried to rationalize those acts as the ends justifying the means. Of course, that was the Cardassian mentality. In her youth, she often wished to kill as many “spoonheads” she could get her hands on. They did not belong on Bajor. They schemed and plotted to colonize and eventually annex the planet. Now, she was planning to save a large number of Cardassian civilians, much she found herself doing fourteen years earlier.

    Agent Chadwick stood outside the back of Vircona’s one-room stone house. The tiny structure had very small windows about six feet off the ground, so most humanoids could not easily peer inside. The lack of a door in the back made this an ideal location for him to wait for Vircona. He would get her attention by tripping over a set of cargo containers, so that would have her checking for intruders.

    “We have to stop meeting like this,” she told the heavyset gray-haired man. “My son catches on easily. Sooner or later, he’ll figure out what’s going on.”

    “You sent a message marked urgent,” Chadwick answered.
    For a second, Vircona could not remember having sent him a message, but Chadwick’s mention was enough of a reminder. “The last two nights,” she explained, “I was accosted by two masked men. And I think they might be trying to create a biological weapon to be used against the Cardassians on Volan Three.”

    Chadwick’s eyes widened, but Vircona could tell that reaction was forced by way of his irises drooping down as if wondering how she knew that. “First, let me apologize for deceiving you,” he assuredly stated. “I did recruit you to gather intelligence on the Cardassians. But certain rogue elements within SFI are looking to do more.”

    Vircona quietly considered his explanation for a moment, then decided to go along with Chadwick’s ruse by giving soft nods. She had hoped her supposition had been wrong. So now the question was why Chadwick would be so quick to own up to this conspiracy if he was involved.

    “They figure that the only way to achieve some kind of lasting peace with them is to always have the upper hand,” Chadwick continued. “They think of the Cardassians as wolves, and that we need to assert ourselves as the superior pack.”

    “That was the Resistance’s approach on Bajor,” Vircona recalled of her time on her home planet. “If we couldn’t beat them with superior weapons, we could at least make life as difficult as possible for them.”

    “But you didn’t use biological weapons. If these rogue agents did, the long-term consequences would be deadly. The Cardassians have resorted to using bio-weapons in the past. Such an attack would put every Federation colony on the border would be in danger. The problem is, you weren’t supposed to find out about this until a few more of these assignments.

    Of course there had to have been a catch, Vircona silently mused. She had worked as a prostitute while in the Bajoran Resistance. She was more than happy to leave that behind when she left Bajor. And when Chadwick first recruited her, she jumped at another chance to act against the Cardassians. “Those guys did mention they didn’t have enough samples,” she recalled.

    “But you showed some initiative with those makara herbs,” Chadwick said. “We encourage that in our agents. I’ll be back to discuss your next assignment.”

    Chadwick paced down the alley leaving Vircona to contemplate what she was just told. But how did he know about the makara herbs, she wondered.

    She walked back into the house where her son Yanith was still eating breakfast. He looked up from his cereal bowl staring at his mother inquisitively when she came back in. “Who were you talking to out there?” he asked.

    Vircona felt she could not lie to her son even about her affiliation with Starfleet Intelligence. Like she told Chadwick, the boy was very perceptive and would quickly find holes in any cover story she attempted. “That man is an undercover agent, like in those old Earth stories,” she said calmly, while sitting down on his right. “I’m helping him stop some bad people on this planet.”

    “The Cardassians?” Yanith asked.

    “Not the Cardassians, son. Some Terrans want to hurt the Cardassians in a way that will just make them madder at everyone else. A lot of the Cardassians are misleading and sneaky. But they’re not all like that. Just like not all Terrans are accepting of differences. It’s important not to judge people just by what race they are. Am I making any sense?”

    “I think so,” Yanith replied with a nod.

    Vircona kissed her son the forehead and stroked his right cheek. “Now finish your breakfast and get ready for school.”


    The Phillip Green was nose to nose with another Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel. Darcen sat in the command chair, staring at the other ship on the viewscreen, waiting for the standard inquiries. Both Ileana and Snezana were seated on his lap.

    Though Darcen had reset the ship’s locational transponder to its original frequency after it cleared the Tagra system, a border patrol still requested that the Green prepare to be intercepted. Rhys chose to comply like a “loyal Cardassian citizen.”

    Your transponder frequency is not in our records,” the Cardassian gul said over the speakers. “Please state your identity and initiate screen-to-screen communications.

    “Do not answer them, Faroun,” Darcen told a dark-skinned man at the starboard tactical station. He nudged the two women aside and sauntered over to the station. “I’ll take it from here,” he said.

    Very well,” the gul continued. “Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded.”

    “No problem,” Rhys muttered. He entered commands on the panel that sent a swarm of plasma torpedoes into the other ship, blowing it to pieces.

    Everyone on the bridge shot surprised stares at Darcen. As far as they could tell, they were sacrificing lives on Ventani Two for a greater good. It was to be the first of several surgical strikes to discourage an enemy from continuing to make war. Even Ileana thought he had taken lives unnecessarily. “Don’t look so surprised, everyone,” he stated calmly. “They’re just Cardassians.”
  9. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Three

    Lisa Neeley felt a quick shooting pain throughout in her back as she landed backwards on a mattress that was as thin as a gymnasium floor mat. Comfortable beds were not much of a priority on these ships built for fighting in the Dominion War. That momentary pain was nothing compared to the blood rush throughout her body as she breathed heavily.

    Morrison lay on his back on her left, also letting out labored, but contented breaths. They both stared at the ceiling, seeming to avoid looking at each other. After all, this partnership was meant to be frivolous one. As her breathing subsided to a normal rate of inhaling and exhaling, Lisa glanced to her right at the chronometer on the nightstand.

    “Is that clock accurate?” she calmly asked.

    Mandel leaned upward to see the chronometer read “0532.” -- plenty of time to get a quick sonic shower before going back on duty. “I should hope so,” he whimsically replied.

    “Crap,” Lisa muttered, lunging out of the bed with no regard for her lack of clothing. “I have to review the results of the last battle drill with the chief of security,” she continued, flinging undergarments on the floor towards Mandel, “who just happens to be you.”

    “As chief of security,” Mandel replied, shoving Lisa back onto the bed, “I’m postponing that review.”

    Lisa giggled while leaning upward again and slipping on her undergarments. “Seriously, Mandel,” she said curtly while tying her long mane of red hair into a ponytail, “the captain needs that review by 0800.”

    Mandel sighed and began dressing himself, all the while staring lustily at her tall lithe figure.

    Rhys Darcen stared at a biographical file on a desk monitor in the ready room. The file was of twenty-first century scientist and entrepreneur William Bell. The man pictured on the file appeared to be in his late sixties or seventies from parched skin on his face, but his hair was still mostly jet-black with a few gray streaks. Darcen was lost in contemplating all the technological innovations of Bell’s with unfulfilled potential for improving humanity when he felt a hand stroke his right cheek.

    Ileana nudged the monitor away from her lover and seated herself on Rhys’s lap. She glanced back at the monitor to see what greatly fascinated Rhys, and then planted a lengthy kiss on his lips. “Earth history?” she asked with feigned curiosity.

    “William Bell was quite brilliant for a Basic,” Darcen said of the file he was reading. “And for someone of his time. He founded a prosperous company during a time of backward capitalism, but he was a visionary of humanity’s future. Technology back then was always improving for the monetary benefit of the manufacturing companies. But consider a world where technological innovations only serve to improve the species.”

    Ileana took another look at the file to confirm her intuition that Bell resembled a familiar individual. Another glance, and the face was certainly familiar. “He looks a lot like Ambassador Spock,” she said.

    Rhys leaned closer to the desk while clasping his arms around Ileana’s lower back to keep her from falling over. He studied the image of Bell to find some resemblance to the famed Vulcan scientist and diplomat who had been living on Romulus for almost the last decade hoping to re-unify the long-lost cousin races. “No, not really,” he said with a skeptical wince. “But that’s not important. What’s important is the mission ahead. If attacking Ventani doesn’t convince Federation leaders of the need to use this virus against the enemy, then we’ll attack another Cardassian, then another and another.

    “And once this implacable enemy is vanquished, we will begin rebuilding the Federation in our own image so no other great power would dare challenge it. Khan Singh saw the twenty-third century as an era of improved technology making life more luxurious. Sure we can travel the stars, extend life, cure many diseases, but could still easily fall to the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion.

    “As far as improving the species on the biological and genetic levels? We’ve been set back centuries by ignorance and fear.”

    “I thought you wanted to avoid repeating Khan’s mistakes,” Ileana replied in between kisses on the side of Rhys’s neck.

    “I certainly do, my love,” Rhys demurely answered. “He was influenced by artificial social constructs of the time. Ethnicity. Religion. Yet I share his dissatisfaction with what became of humanity when he awoke from his centuries long slumber.”

    “You see a great future before us,” Ileana deferently purred. She kissed Rhys on the lips while running her hands along his sleeveless muscular arms.

    The moment was quickly interrupted by the sound of the comm chime. “Master, please come to the bridge,” a voice called over the speaker.

    Rhys nudged Ileana aside and tapped the comm-panel on the desk. “What is it, Faroun?” he impatiently demanded.

    “Federation warship on intercept course, sir,” Faroun answered.

    “Bring the prisoner to the bridge,” Rhys whispered to Ileana. He headed for the double-doors that took him straight to the bridge. He descended down a set of stairs, one part of Cardassian architecture he admired that signified respect for a leader from his followers.

    “How long to intercept?” Rhys asked his tactical officer he as headed for the command chair occupied by Snežana. She stood up and hooked one arm onto Rhys’s.

    “Five minutes,” Faroun answered.

    “It’s time to convince them to back off,” Rhys mused aloud.
  10. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    “Any response to our hails?” Kozar asked Morrison, pacing over to the bridge tactical station.

    “No, sir,” Morrison replied. “But they have charged weapons.”

    “Then you know the drill,” said Limis, ascending from her chair. “Raise shields, ready phasers and quantum torpedoes.”

    “They’re hailing us,” Morrison called.

    “Put it up,” Limis replied. Her tone was somewhat optimistic, but she was careful not to declare victory in front of the bridge crew just yet.

    An olive-skinned man with long dark hair appeared on the main viewscreen. This was the infamous Rhys Darcen Limis had planned to arrest before Markalis derailed those plans. That betrayal was hardly on Limis’s mind at the moment now that Aurellan was a prisoner of these super-humans. “To whom do I have the honor of surrendering?” Darcen gleefully inquired.

    “Captain Limis Vircona of the USS Lambda Paz,” Limis replied. “Stand down and prepare to be boarded.”

    “Being outmatched, I guess I have no choice,” Darcen retorted. “Except…” With a snap of his fingers, Markalis was placed in front of him. He placed one hand over her scalp and one under her chin. “Turn your ship around or your medical officer is dead.”

    Limis, Kozar, and Morrison all exchanged horrified glances. The decision was clear. Limis had read that Augments had five times the strength of most humanoids. “Helm, back us off,” she ordered second Lieutenant Sara Carson.

    “Aye, sir,” the youthful brunette manning the conn replied.

    “A wise decision, Captain,” Rhys gloated. His image disappeared, replaced by his stolen Cardassian ship.

    Limis walked dejectedly over to the center seat. She sat down staring at the viewscreen, recalling a time when Rebecca was taken hostage.

    On the bridge of the Phillip Green, Rhys freed Aurellan and began to grasp his temples feeling intense pain in his head. Aurellan used that weakness to kick her captor in the chest. Rhys then lunged upwards towards her, but she came at him with a right hook. Faroun and Snežana jogged towards her and slammed her to the deck. “You sure fight well, my dear,” he snickered. “But you can’t help fight off all of us.”
  11. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Limis was still reading the padd she was handed when she heard Admiral Jellico’s voice on the comm. “Captain Limis,” he called. “Report to your ready room.”

    Jellico and the Constantinople were light years away. Still, Limis shoved the padd into Kozar’s lap and headed for her office as if being summoned before the school principal. Upon reaching the ready room, someone else was occupying the chair behind the desk. He was a youthful-looking blonde man with a slightly bigger build than Jellico.

    “Commander Johns,” Limis gasped. “Where’s Admiral Jellico? Does Captain Lenaris know you’re missing?”

    “You needn’t concern yourself with that right now,” the commander replied with triumphant grin. “What’s important is the safe return of your medical officer and stopping the Augments.”

    “You won’t get any argument from me. How did you get in here anyway?”

    “I’m here, aren’t I? And I got the good doctor into this mess.”
    It all made sense to Limis now. He was the Section 31 agent who visited Markalis in her quarters in the middle of the night one day. Limis had a hunch that he was Cole when first seeing him as Lenaris’s first officer. Now it was confirmed. “You’re Cole,” she said plainly.

    “Guilty as charged,” he quipped, nudging a padd to the end of the desk. “This will help you slip aboard Darcen’s ship.”

    Limis rolled her eyes as she whisked the padd off the desk. “A single person inside a Class-eight probe?” she read aloud.

    “With specifications for scrambling sensors,” Cole added, standing up and heading for the side door. “Do you think we go into places we’re not welcome just by evading ‘stupid questions’? You feel personally responsible for the peril she’s in. And you don’t want to risk any more of your crew.”

    Cole confidently strode out the door. Limis sauntered over to a drawer behind the desk to grab a phaser. She walked through the same exit into a corridor. But no one was in her field of vision in either direction. Returning to the ready room, Limis was left to ponder a similarly dangerous effort save Rebecca years back.


    Vircona's head landed softly on the table-top after her son left for school. Between her long shifts at the manufacturing plant and her undercover missions for Starfleet Intelligence, she was only getting two to three hours of sleep a day. She was grateful for a quick cat nap until her next factory shift.

    A rhythmic pounding on the door shook Vircona awake. Maybe Yanith forgot something, poosibly his house key if he was knocking. She slowly trudged towards the door and unlatched all three locks. Upon stepping outside after opening the door, she found no one at her doorstep or down the street in either direction.

    Vircona was about to close the door when she heard a chirping noise from the doorstep. The sound came from a padd waiting for someone to activate its message. She picked up the padd and pushed the activation key with her right thumb.

    The blinking red letters reading "Activate" were then replaced by a message in blue capital letters.

    We have your friend Rebecca. If you wish to see her alive again, then deliver thirty kilos of rhodium nitrite to us by 1700.

    Vircona hit the activate key again to read the rest of the message, which instructed her to make the delivery and warned that failure to comply would result in Rebecca's death. Such instructions left Vircona confused since rhodium nitrite was an abundant low value substance used to protect humanoids from the radioactive properties of deuterium. Whatever the reasoning, she certainly could not take a chance with Rebecca’s life.
  12. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four

    Erhlich Tarlazzi reviewed the padd that Cole gave Limis while seated at the main engineering section’s master situation console. He was comparing the specifications with library computer schematics. Limis looked over his shoulder while discussing this daring rescue plan with Kozar, Morrison, and Sullivan. “It all checks out,” Tarlazzi declared, interrupting the hushed words of the other officers.

    “You still wish to proceed with this insane plan?” Kozar huffed. “We have no way of knowing where they are since they certainly altered their course to the Ventani system.”

    “Our passive scans as well as other ships they might have passed can provide more and more information about that ship,” Limis retorted, taking the padd back from Tarlazzi. “Some sensor genius could still come up with a neat trick for tracking them.”

    “How will get yourself and Markalis off that ship?” Morrison inquired.

    Limis hadn’t really thought that far ahead, but these officers were right to be concerned for her safety as well as that of the officer she was planning to rescue. “One thing at time, people,” she replied. She raised her hand when Kozar was about to speak. “Any rescue mission carries risk, but we have to try. That’s the whole point. And I’m going to risk any more lives other than my own. Is that clear?”

    “Perfectly,” Kozar said almost inaudibly.

    “I’ll be damned,” Tarlazzi mumbled as he continued scrolling through the data transferred from the padd.

    The others stepped over to the console to learn what piqued the engineer’s curiosity. “This virus the Augments plan to use,” Erhlich continued, “it was engineered by Section 31 partially based on a pathogen first developed by Doctor Sarina Kaur of Project Chrysalis four-hundred years ago, possibly for use during the Eugenics Wars.”

    “Forget the history lesson,” Kozar impatiently interrupted.

    “There’s more,” Tarlazzi replied with a pleasured smirk at his specialty for antagonizing his superior officers, as that topic did hit a nerve in Kozar. “It is also based on a gene disruptor used by the T’Lani and Kelleruns called the Harvesters.

    “They were determined to eliminate whoever knew about these weapons after their centuries-long war, including the Starfleet officers who assisted them. Looks like their worst fears were realized when Section 31 had Doctor Julian Bashir in their custody on Stardate 51698.”

    Limis rolled her eyes, remembering that Cole’s rationale for wanting to prevent the use of this weaponized virus was the potential astro-political fallout. That never stopped such agencies before. This new information now added even more pieces to the puzzle. “And now Section 31 wants us to clean up their mess,” she groaned. “Lovely.”

    The computer chimed, getting everyone’s attention. “Access denied,” said a nasal feminine voice.

    “I knew I was getting greedy,” Tarlazzi quipped, as he was still scrolling through all the new data.

    “I want that probe ready to go in an hour,” Limis said. “And don’t tell me it’ll take longer.”

    She walked away, ending the meeting before Tarlazzi had a chance to respond. He just mouthed a barely coherent, “Yes, ma’am.”

    Sullivan was completely silent during the mission briefing, possibly because Kozar and Morrison were already voicing the concerns that were already on her mind. Rebecca kept her gaze on her friend while weaving her way through the crowd of officers and technicians. Along the way, she did see Morrison give her an approving squint, meaning he was either imagining her naked or assuming she and his former love interest Sara Carson were more than friends. Yes, Sara was an attractive woman and Rebecca was mildly infatuated with her, but that was hardly Mandel’s concern. Rebecca returned his gaze with a derisive snort while continuing towards the main entryway to catch up to Limis.

    While Vircona was looking straight ahead as she paced down the corridor, she could still see Rebecca’s approach form the she could still see Rebecca’s approach from the shadow being cast on the deck. “You were awfully quiet back there,” she curtly remarked.

    “I hadn’t noticed,” Rebecca retorted. “Those Starfleet vets couldn’t dissuade you, but maybe I can as your friend.”

    “You’re welcome to try,” Limis said avoiding looking at Sullivan, hoping any further discussion on the mission even with her closest of friends.

    “It isn’t so much about stopping these fanatics now,” Rebecca offered, “as it is about punishing yourself for sending Aurellan on this possible suicide mission in the first place.”

    “’Punishing myself’?” Vircona repeated, stopping to face Rebecca. “Wouldn’t that involve putting myself in harm’s way for no conceivable reason?”

    “Not necessarily. You sent one of your crew on a dangerous mission and you feel saving her is your responsibility and yours alone.”

    “More is at stake than one person’s life. But I owe it to her to get her off that ship alive. I did the same for you fourteen years ago. Believe me, I’ve considered all the alternatives and this is the best one.”

    “Good luck then,” Rebecca relented. “Especially after what you did for me then.”

    “I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Vircona replied putting a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. She then continued down the corridor lost in recollection of the lengths she was willing to go to in order to save Rebecca all those years ago.
  13. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    That Vircona was assigned to work the loading docks at the factory on the same day she got a ransom note was hardly a coincidence. The factory had just gotten a new shipment of rhodium nitrite, so Starfleet Intelligence must have made arrangements for her to be there for the off-loading. Part of Vircona’s job was to make sure the seals on the refrigeration units were intact. The rhodium nitrite needed to be held at a very low temperature. Otherwise, it would be rendered inert.

    Each of the inspectors held hand scanners to the refrigeration units. If the unit passed inspection, it was carried on an anti-gravity harness. The ones that failed were left behind to be disposed later. The first of the units Vircona scanned passed inspection. As other factory workers were bringing in the harnesses, Vircona surreptitiously placed a transporter tag on the unit. Rebecca’s kidnappers had included specifications for replicating a device in their ransom note.

    I should not have told Becca about the bio-weapon, Vircona thought to herself. The bottom line now was she felt responsible for Rebecca’s situation and only she could rectify the situation. What worried Vircona the most was how Rebecca’s crazy mother would react to her kidnapping.

    Vircona arrived at an abandoned warehouse at 1700 hours as instructed. She stood near two different rows of cargo containers waiting for Rebecca’s captors to show themselves. During a wait that seemed to take an eternity, she secured a phaser pistol in a holster on her right hip and a control pad in a holster on her left hip. As she was hearing footsteps near the main cargo door, she fidgeted at something hanging from a back pocket on her trousers, and then untucked her black tank top make sure that object was concealed.

    Two middle aged human males in black leather jumpsuits sauntered into view at the other end of the rows of cargo containers. They were flanked by two burly Orion guards armed with phaser rifles. Vircona made sure the control pad was still accounted for, not wanting to show her hand until she knew that the innocent victim in this whole affair was safe.

    “Throw down the gun and kick it over to us,” the agent on Vircona’s left instructed.

    She did as instructed, anxiously waiting for the next move.

    “Do you have our merchandise?” the other agent asked.

    “Let me see Rebecca first,” Vircona firmly replied.

    The agent on the left looked to his right and nodded. Rebecca was shoved into view, her wrists in shackles. Now that Vircona was satisfied, she grabbed the control pad in her other holster. The pushed an activate key and the refrigeration unit materialized between her and the agents. One of the agents then walked over to the container, scanned the unit, and nodded to his colleague.

    The agents removed the shackles from Rebecca’s wrists, allowing her to go free. Rebecca hurriedly ran towards Vircona. Fighting back tears, she wrapped her arms around Vircona’s shoulders. They held each other in a long embrace; giving the human agents and the Orion guards the impression the two women were something other than friends. That impression was validated when they kissed on the lips. Vircona then quickly pulled away when she remembered that gawking men were watching them.

    One agent was in the process of securing an anti-gravity harness on the refrigeration unit when Vircona slowly walked towards the container, with Rebecca clasping her left hand. “What exactly is this for?” she demanded. “Rhodium nitrite is harmless. It’s of very little value. You can find it anywhere.”

    “We have someone here who can answer,” the agent replied. He looked to his right and motioned someone towards him.

    A tall heavy-set human male with gray hair sauntered over. He was none other than Agent Chadwick grinning smugly. Vircona knew almost immediately from various clues from her meeting earlier that day that he was lying about having her infiltrate this rogue agency. He was in on the plan all along.

    His grin became a smile when he came face-to-face with Vircona. “You’ve certainly done your homework on this,” he answered. “It’s not your concern. Just take your Lolita and get out of here.”

    Vircona had vaguely recognized the name Lolita as a character in old Earth literature, but she was uncertain how that name applied to Rebecca. “But why put me through all this?” she impatiently asked.

    “Rhodium nitrite by itself is harmless,” Chadwick said slowly.
    Vircona gritted her teeth impatiently, ready to deck the man in the face if did not make his point very soon.

    “To humans,” Chadwick continued. “And Bajorans, and most mammalian humanoids. But mixed with selenium, it produces a gas deadly to Cardassians. We learned that much from the DNA samples we got off of you. Your little trick forced us to move up our plans.”

    “Good for me,” Vircona sarcastically replied.

    “You’re not afraid we’ll report you to the authorities?” Rebecca asked. From her understanding of these situations in fictional tales, the bad guys were determined to make no one who could rat them out was left alive. Perhaps that was a difference between fiction and reality.

    “As far as Starfleet is concerned,” Chadwick triumphantly replied, “we don’t exist. But we are everywhere, Vircona. This whole ransom demand was to let you know that once you join Section 31, you join for life.”

    Vircona suddenly felt chills from Chadwick’s cold stare. She said nothing else and walked away with Rebecca. Chadwick and his group headed off in the other direction. Once she reached the door through which she came, she stopped. “Agent Chadwick,” she called.

    Chadwick turned around with a pensive stare wondering what else his newest recruit wanted to say.

    “You forgot about the backup gun,” Vircona replied. She removed a pistol from her back pocket and fired a lethal energy projectile into Chadwick’s chest. Rebecca reacted with horror at seeing her Bajoran friend take a life. The other agents and the guards began shooting back. Rebecca grabbed a few lighter containers one at a time and throwing them at the shooters. Vircona laid down cover fire and managed to hit the two guards. Then fired another blast at the refrigeration unit. Gas seeped out of the container. Its exposure to room temperature, as expected, made it inert. They would certainly find rhodium nitrite somewhere else, but at least Vircona’s conscience was at ease knowing she wasn’t a part of it.

    Rebecca was still shaken up about an hour later over Vircona having killed Chadwick. Of course, she knew about Vircona’s long history of murdering Cardassians in the name of freeing her planet. But Rebecca had never seen one person take the life of another until now.

    Meeting Vircona’s son did calm Rebecca’s nerves for a time. Vircona did tell her child Rebecca was a friend. She was still hesitant to say they were anything more at this point. Rebecca did admit to being romantically attracted to women as well as men. Vircona was by no means willing to say the same just yet with the idea never having really occurred to her until meeting Rebecca. Maybe these feelings were the product of anger towards the male gender.

    Rebecca stood outside the back of the house staring at the sunset and ruminating over the day’s events. She wondered if this day would forever influence how she viewed the universe. Her own idealism was certainly humbled today. She felt two hands stroke both her shoulders. She smiled at the sight of Vircona holding her for a moment. Then she sighed walked away from the woman’s grasp.

    “What’s wrong, Becca?” Vircona anxiously inquired.

    “Just how you killed that man in cold blood,” Rebecca replied. “I know you killed Cardassians in self-defense and in defense of your homeworld. But killing people is still wrong.”

    “Who says?!” Vircona bellowed.

    Rebecca saw a cold anger in Vircona that she had never seen before. Even when Vircona killed Chadwick, it looked very precise and methodical. “People all over this universe go around killing, Becca,” she continued in a hushed tone. “Killing. Raping. Stealing. And they don’t all get what’s coming to them. The Cardassians think it’s all in the name of a manifest destiny or some shit like that.”

    “And Section 31 is just as deluded. They think they hold the power of life and death, which is way too much power for any mere mortal. At least the Cardassians admit to feeling entitled to doing whatever the fuck they want for the glory of their ‘great empire’. But that an organization just as cold and calculating as those spoonheads has weaved it’s way into the righteous Federation. That’s unacceptable.”

    Rebecca was shell-shocked. She had never seen a person display this type of anger. Vircona had a lot of good reasons for it. She had kept it bottled up for many years, and it was now boiling to the surface. Rebecca stroked Vircona’s dark hair before resting her head on her shoulder.

    “I’m sorry,” Vircona said humbly. “I shouldn’t take this out on you.”

    “No, it’s quite all right.”

    Vircona patted Rebecca’s hand that was on her shoulder. They both sat quietly for a few minutes. Rebecca soon wondered if her parents learned that she was abducted. The police would be out searching for her and her mother would probably be blaming Vircona. “My parents want to meet you,” Rebecca said quietly.

    “Isn’t your mother worried about my ‘backwards superstitions’?” Vircona retorted.

    “She’s only human,” Rebecca answered with a smile. “But we can still strive to do better everyday.”

    “What about this business about going with a girl for some school dance?”

    Rebecca raised her head to face Vircona. Maybe it was jealousy, but she knew the gist of the question. “My parents are traditionalists of sorts, “ she explained. “A few of us still believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But not to the point where governments make laws saying a man can’t marry another man or woman can’t marry another woman.”

    Vircona nodded with a smile. Maybe these Terrans were as great as once advertised after all.
  14. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant

    Rebecca remembered this tender moment as her captain was loading herself into the probe. She was there to put the finishing touches on the life support system. The warp drive checkup was fairly routine since such probes were designed to travel at warp. Rebecca left that to two human male technicians, who were running scans and securing panels on the right side of the probe. A Denobulan male medical technician scanned Limis with a medical tricorder while making minute adjustments to her breathing apparatus. The med-tech also injected her with a tranquilizer to keep her heart rate normal during the launch.

    During the whole process, all Rebecca could do was sit and watch as her friend was being jettisoned from the ship in a container the size of a coffin. She struggled to keep her composure as the engineering technicians secured the last panel on the probe and rolled it towards the launcher.

    Chapter Five

    “Probe is away,” Morrison reported from the bridge tactical station. He then left his station to a young male ensign and followed Kozar over the primary bridge engineering station on the port-forward corner of the bridge. Logan monitored the probe from a console facing the command chairs while Tarlazzi was at the wall-mounted console behind him. “Probe velocity at two hundred kilometers per second and increasing,” Logan said quietly.

    “All life signs read nominal,” Tarlazzi added. He remained silent for a brief moment hoping that was still the case when, “The probe has gone to warp.”

    Kozar stared silently at the probe beacon readouts on a monitor at his eye level. Morrison looked over the commander’s shoulder at the same readouts. “Come with me, Morrison,” Kozar whispered, heading for the port turbolift. “You have the bridge, Mister Logan,” he said at normal volume. “Change course to intercept the probe at the very first sign of trouble.”

    “Aye, sir,” the de facto first officer compliantly answered.

    “You can’t be serious,” the Emergency Medical Hologram grunted. “I’m a doctor, not Frankenstein.”

    “Doctor Mora Pol has made several breakthroughs into detecting Changeling life signs,” Kozar replied in reference to the Bajoran scientist who studied Odo, who was now the chief of security aboard Deep Space 9. Kozar held a padd to the EMH in the sickbay office.

    The holographic doctor snatched the padd and quickly read its contents. The designers of this newest edition of the EMH felt it could be made more personable by giving him unkempt chestnut hair and dark stubble on his face forming a five o’clock shadow. One problem that still had yet to be resolved was that his sarcasm often came off as demeaning to his patients.

    “It’s a still long way from passing off the remains of a dead Changeling as a live one,” the EMH said with a sigh. All he really understood about whatever the two senior officers were planning was where they had gotten a dead Changeling in the first place. Months before the Mark Three’s first activation, a saboteur on the Lambda Paz planted the remains of a dead Changeling in the captain’s ready room in order to falsely implicate another crewmember. But once the destruction of Starbase G-6 and surrounding ships was thwarted, the true saboteur was found to be under influence of a parasitic species that once threatened Starfleet years before.

    “Just do whatever you can, Doctor,” Morrison replied. “Leave the rest to us.”

    The hologram scoffed in annoyance. “Of course,” he muttered. “I’m always the last to know about what goes on around here.” Sure enough, he had been informed of the full details of why he had been thrust into the role of acting chief medical officer. But his own concern ran deeper than the danger his boss was facing. While not having a full grasp of the concept of romantic attraction, he did find Aurellan an intriguing person as both a medical practitioner and as a woman.

    The probe that was ferrying Limis registered as a stray meteoroid on the Phillip Green’s sensors. Once it came dangerously close to inflicting damage to the hull, which would be considerable for a ship traveling at warp, the deflector shields were triggered. However, the probe’s shields were designed to learn any ship’s deflector shield frequency and slip through that ship’s hull.

    Once her sensor pad indicated she was inside the targeted ship, Limis shoved open the top access panel. Luckily, she was in a section of the ship devoid of personnel. The probe’s sensors could make those determinations according to the padd Cole gave her. She still felt lucky that feature didn’t randomly fail.

    Limis removed a tricorder containing schematics of a Hideki-class vessel from her tricorder. This special wide-screened tricorder immediately alerted her to where on the ship she was. She tapped the red indicator on the ship schematic to magnify that section of the ship while skulking through the dark corridor. After entering a few commands into the scanner to locate the nearest antimatter injector ports.

    Snežana struggled to stay conscious. Her skin was pale and flushed. She was coughing and wheezing as the virus continued to consume her from the inside. Darcen placed a cold cloth on her forehead and while Ileana carefully tipped a basin of egg-drop broth to pour small amounts of the liquid into her dying friend’s mouth.

    “How long do I have?” Snežana asked weakly.

    Rhys and Ileana both exchanged quick glances. They all knew the possible consequences of infecting themselves with sample viruses. They were prepared for death. None of them wanted each other to hide the truth. “A day,” Rhys answered, as a single tear crawled down his right cheek, “maybe two. You will see our crowning moment.”

    Ileana brushed the tear off his cheek while she was herself fighting back tears. Darcen had insisted on not letting emotions interfere with what needed to be done. Now, Ileana knew he just said that to Aurellan so that she would not try to turn them against each other. Seamus’s death certainly devastated him, and he was just trying to be strong for the rest of the group. And now Snežana was on her deathbed.

    Ileana grimaced in pain while breathing heavily. Rhys was also feeling the same pain in his forehead. The virus was starting to claim both of them as well. “You are both sick too,” Snežana groaned.

    “Afraid so,” Ileana replied. “That means the only immune was…”

    “Grimaud,” Rhys finished.

    “Let Aurellan go,” Snežana mumbled almost incoherently. “She cannot threaten us.”

    “Never,” Rhys hissed. “She will pay for betraying us.”

    “Why?” Snežana groaned. “She cannot stop us. No one can. Revenge is so wasteful…”

    Rhys began letting out muffled sobs. For all his genetically engineered stoicism, he could bare to see Snežana in this state. Ileana reached a hand out to Rhys’s shoulder to coax him out of the room while dabbing her own tears with the back of her other hand. They slowly walked out as Snežana was now mumbling in Russian about how much she longed for Aurellan.

    Accompanied by Grimaud, Rhys and Ileana entered Markalis’s quarters. She was again bound to a chair. Rhys paced over to her and unlocked the restraints. “I need you find out if Grimaud is the one who is immune,” he told his prisoner.

    “Why should I help you?” Aurellan snarled, wanting to spit in the face of the man who had threatened to kill her on at least two occasions.

    “Snežana is dying,” Ileana replied, setting an instrument tray down on the table. “We’re showing symptoms.”

    Aurellan’s instincts as a doctor quickly kicked in as she got up grabbed a hypo-syringe. Or maybe she was also smitten with Grimaud. Despite his compliance with Darcen, he had something of a serene innocence that she could easily identify with. He remained stoic almost endlessly, yet he had to believe this endeavor was wrong for so many reasons. “I told you guys not to play around with that stuff,” she grumbled.

    Darcen hurled the chair across the room. “Not another word!” he bellowed. “Just do as your told.”

    “The same way your bitch does?” Aurellan retorted. The words just popped out. She put very little thought into having said it. The conspicuous muscular build of Augment women was indicative of wanting to differentiate themselves from stereotypical human women. On the other hand, Ileana also bowed to Darcen’s will.

    Ileana gave a hard slap to Aurellan’s left jaw. “Get the antibody sample from him,” she hissed.

    Markalis walked over to Grimaud, deeply shocked that he seemed emotionally unaffected. After extracting a sample of antibodies, Aurellan walked over back to the table. That was when the whole room shook.

    Darcen frantically stormed onto the bridge demanding answers. His woman was close behind him. His murderous stare at Faroun was enough of a clue as to what he would ask.

    “We’ve dropped out of warp, sir,” Faroun said.

    “Why?” Darcen demanded of the blonde female helmsman.

    “One of the injectors just gave out,” the pilot answered with a confused look.

    “That’s your best explanation?!” Darcen growled heading staring impatiently at the controls.

    A middle-aged dark haired man with slightly olive stepped onto the bridge escorting a Bajoran woman. Darcen immediately recognized her as the captain of the Lambda Paz. He immediately wondered how she got aboard with her ship well out of sensor range, not that it was relevant at this moment. “Where’d you find her, Diego?” he asked somewhat playfully.

    “I found her sneaking around the impulse deck,” Diego replied.

    “We have ourselves a more a valuable hostage,” Darcen mused with a smug grin. “I will escort her to quarters,” he said, grabbing Limis by her collar.

    “Faroun,” Rhys then called to his tactical officer. Indicating Diego, he said, “Get the warp drive back on line after you’ve tossed this incompetent fool out the nearest airlock.

    Ileana stared fearfully as Darcen and others walked off the bridge. To her knowledge, Darcen never resorted to executions for incompetence. Perhaps as a consequence of the deterioration of neurons, spurts of rage were another symptom of the virus. In this mental condition, he could hurt or kill anyone, even her.
  15. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Six

    An armada of about six-dozen Klingon warships led by the IKS Negh’Var patrolled the Sheva system. The patrol was to serve the purpose of reconnaissance, or so the captains of many of the smaller support vessels were told. Of course, the reason why such a large was needed for reconnaissance was to attract the enemy’s attention. If the fleet did attract attention, then that meant something of value was in that solar system. If not the fleet would break into smaller battle groups and move on to the next system.

    Lieutenant Leskit monitored enemy fleet communications on the bridge of the Negh’Var under the command of General Martok. Leskit’s monitor indicated a large number of Jem’Hadar and Cardassian ships moving towards their position, but not in an attack formation. “Some are breaking off and headed towards our position,” Leskit reported, “while the rest are staying in orbit of the second planet.”

    “Hold position,” Martok replied. “They may still think they’re chasing sensor ghosts. Make no offensive move until I order.”

    Leskit kept his eye on the monitor waiting for the opposing fleet to call for reinforcements. That signaled the Klingon fleet would be drawing ships away from neighboring star systems. He kept a firm hand on his station until red ripples formed on the monitor. “They’re calling for reinforcements,” he said.

    “All ships,” said Martok, “assume attack formation.”

    The fleet broke off into battle groups six, eight, and ten. Each Negh’Var class battleships were flanked by two or three Vorcha-class attack cruisers and a swath of Birds of Prey. The Negh’Var’s battle group included the Rotarran and the Ch’Tang.

    The Birds-of-Prey moved downward to confront Jem’Hadar and Cardassian fighters. The Klingon ships returned the enemy disruptor fire with multi-targeting disruptor shots. A number of Jem’Hadar fighters and battleships plowed into attack cruisers and Birds-of-Prey in order to buy time for the arrival of reinforcements.

    Worf was in command of the Rotarran as its bridge was rocked violently by enemy weapons. N’Garen pulled herself away from sparks gushing from the weapons station. She kept an eye on the tactical readout and saw that the enemy ship being pursued was gaining distance. Two photon torpedoes from the Rotarran tore into the aft a Jem’Hadar fighter.

    “Helmsman,” Worf bellowed over all the clatter on the bridge, “come to course three-two-six mark two-five. Maximum impulse.”

    “Aye, sir,” Ch’Targh replied. “Closing to within forty thousand kelicams of two Jem’Hadar fighters.”

    “Two attack ships approaching from fore and aft,” N’Garen added. “They’re locking plasma torpedoes.”

    “All power to dorsal shields,” Worf commanded. “Brace for impact.”

    Gray energy projectiles erupted from the attack ships piercing the hull of the Rotarran. The bridge collapsed when steel girders from the ceiling spilled onto the deck.

    “We could find no discernible pattern for these hit-and-run Klingon attacks at first.”

    Gul Latham presented a tactical report to his Vorta counterpart Diralna. Most Vorta conducted themselves with a quietly professional, but also arrogant demeanor. They usually dressed very casually, yet modestly. And since all Vorta were clones, they had little, if any, need for sexual activity. The Founders did see some value behind having female Vorta dress provocatively, as Diralna was. By all outward appearances, Latham was not at all distracted by her bright red lipstick, her cleavage, her maroon miniskirt that barely reached her thighs and her knee-high black boots.

    “But based on reports of fleet movements in and out of the Borias Cluster,” Latham continued needing to concentrate hard to keep his gaze on Diralna’s pretty face, “we’ve found these attacks may have been intended to leave the Ventani system vulnerable.”

    “To what end?” Diralna inquired while slouched on a gray armless sofa. “The Ventani system is a civilian colony a long way from any combat.”

    “Perhaps they wish to intimidate us with an attack on Ventani Two,” Latham offered. “The Federation has confined itself to hitting military targets, but the Klingons and the Romulans would not give a second thought to such a brazen move. We need reinforcements in that system.”

    “No,” Diralna firmly answered, much to Latham’s surprise.

    Surely the Dominion was aware by now of Ventani’s historical significance, and to Latham’s surprise, the Vorta were not willing to commit ships to that system. “Maybe my universal translator is malfunctioning,” he said, indicating the communications pad hooked to his left wrist, “but did you just say you would not send reinforcements to Ventani?”

    “That’s exactly what I’m saying, Latham. We will not take the bait by wasting resources to protect a strategically worthless planet.”

    “Strategically useless to you,” Latham spat at the attractive Vorta.

    Diralna smiled maniacally at Latham and slowly walked one foot in front of the other towards him. “Did you just imply that Cardassia is no longer part of the Dominion?” she asked seductively.

    “Of course not,” Latham stuttered, his voice trailing off from her seductive charm.

    “Good” Diralna said running her right index finger down the spoon-shaped ridge on Latham’s forehead. “Because we must look forward, not back if our common destinies are to be fulfilled. The only monuments we’ll need are the ones that celebrate our coming victory.”

    Diralna began stroking the middle-aged Cardassian’s graying goatee, a rarity among Cardassians. As she arched her head forward to kiss Latham on the lips, Latham raised both hands and shoved Diralna back towards the sofa. He snorted and stormed out of the briefing room, leaving the Vorta in a sitting position on the floor in front of the sofa.
  16. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Aurellan Markalis was once again tied to a chair in her quarters. She twitched her wrists hoping to loosen the ropes that bound her arms together on the back of the chair. She was still not having much luck and was now conceding that Darcen would carry out his attack on Ventani Two. She was also resigned to the fact that she would eventually cease to be a useful hostage and would be killed in a matter of days. Her only regrets were having embarked on this fool’s errand and never being able to tell her captain how sorry she was for going against her orders.

    The doors slid open and Darcen entered with Limis. Markalis’s eyes widened in disbelief at the sight of her commanding officer. That Limis had her legs bound and her hands tied behind her back was in no way a good sign. Limis, herself, had been captured trying to rescue Markalis. “Captain,” she gasped. “How did you get here?”

    “Does it matter now?” Limis replied.

    Another augment stepped inside and set down a chair for Limis to sit upon. She was shoved down on the silver chair and tied down at the waste. Darcen then leaned on the right arm of the chair so their eyes met. “Now, Captain,” he said curtly. “How many other Starfleet officers are aboard my ship?”

    “Dozens,” Limis lied. “You’re gonna have a bitch of a time finding them all.”

    Rhys growled in annoyance at the obvious lie. He paced over to Aurellan’s chair and placed a knife on the right side of her neck. “Where’s your ship?” he demanded. “What is Starfleet doing to stop us?”

    “My ship is on the way,” Limis confidently proclaimed. “And they’ll blow yours to atoms.”

    “Not with the two of you on board.”

    “We’re both expendable.”

    Markalis looked at Darcen then at Limis. For a brief moment she got her hopes up. Now one of her colleagues was also condemned to death. She wanted to beg for her life, but knew it was futile. Both she and her captain were as good as dead. It was just a matter of when.

    Darcen slammed the knife into floor. “Too bad,” he quipped. “You will not see our great triumph. That is why ‘normal’ humans and similarly handicapped races are afraid of us. You are not willing to see that we are the future of humanity. Even Section 31, sworn to protect the Federation by any and all means necessary, tossed us aside.”

    “Section 31,” Limis repeated. Now it all made sense. Agent Cole claimed his agency wanted to stop this bio-weapon because of potential astropolitical fallout. The real reason, Limis realized, was that Rhys was proceeding with a plan that Section 31 was unwilling to implement, despite having originally created this virus.

    Darcen ignored her continuing his schpiel while squeezing Aurellan’s chin. “You are virtually one of us, my dear,” he said. “You should understand the need to make these hard choices during hard times. We are next of kin to gods.”

    “Still with human frailties,” Markalis meekly replied after Darcen let go of her chin. “And devoid of compassion. Of all things, a god needs compassion.”

    Limis couldn’t always say she agreed with that statement, but she was now intrigued by Darcen’s statement that Markalis was “one of us.” The only reason Julian Bashir was allowed to continue serving in Starfleet was some closed-door plea bargain. Then again, Limis was once in the Maquis, so Starfleet could conceivably waive the ban against human augments during the Dominion War.

    The Lambda Paz was at high warp on course for the Ventani Two. With time quickly running out, the ship no longer had the luxury of dodging Jem’Hadar and Cardassian patrols. In fact, it was on a course that would take it outside of the short-range sensor radius of a Jem’Hadar patrol.

    Morrison monitored a set of blips on his tactical monitor while Kozar looked over his shoulder, ready to sound battle stations. Logan strode down the port side of the bridge, monitoring various auxiliary stations. He completed his circuit around the bridge by providing a few last power allocation adjustments to Huckaby at operations.

    A Starfleet on the center of Morrison’s monitor symbolized the Lambda Paz. Twelve Dominion logos spread out across both side of the screen indicated squadrons of Jem’Hadar attack ships and fighters moving closer and closer. “In sensor in forty-five seconds,” he whispered to Kozar. “Forty seconds… Thirty seconds.”

    “Red alert,” Kozar called. Junior officers on the bridge began scrambling to auxiliary stations on both the port and starboard sides.

    Logan sauntered over to the command chairs while tapping his comm-badge. “Bridge to engineering,” he said. “Mister Tarlazzi, prepare to reconfigure our engine emissions.”

    Understood, sir,” Tarlazzi answered over the comm. “We’ll look like a Dominion heavy cruiser once it’s done.

    Kozar nodded a few more instructions to Morrison while heading for the center seat. “Bridge to sickbay,” he called. “Doctor, are you ready to implement your masquerade?”

    As ready as I’ll ever be to rouse the dead,” the EMH retorted.

    “Carson,” Kozar said to the alpha shift flight controller, “slow us to full impulse at increments of a hundred million kilometers per second per second.”

    “They’re hailing us,” said Morrison.

    “Put it on speakers,” Kozar replied.

    A soft-spoken, yet confident, sounding voice piped through the ship-to-ship speakers. “We detected a Starfleet warp signature at your position. Now it is no longer registering.

    “We noticed the same thing,” Kozar answered. “It was just a sensor ghost, trying to throw us off guard.”

    I see,” the Vorta said with a minor hint of skepticism. “Our scans also indicate your subspace field emitters are out of alignment. You risk being mistaken for a Federation ship.

    Kozar was beginning to worry. He looked over at Morrison, who shook his head indicating the patrol was maintaining position. Mandel also knew to prepare for a firefight even knowing one ship could not stand against twelve squadrons of enemy vessels.

    Slow to quarter impulse and prepare for inspection,” the Vorta continued.

    “You wouldn’t want to risk harming a Founder, would you?” Kozar asked, uncertain that bluff would work.

    A long pause followed. As each second passed, Kozar and Morrison were hoping they were running scans to verify the commander’s bluff. “My apologies,” the Vorta said. “We did not realize you had a god walking amongst you.”

    “They’re getting closer,” Morrison ominously whispered. “Almost in visual range.”

    “Close the channel,” Kozar hissed. “Make it look like static. Warp speed, helm. Get us the hell out of here.”

    “Aye, sir,” Carson replied, as her fingers danced across the controls to re-engage the warp drive.

    “Any sign of pursuit?” Kozar asked, feeling he would not like the answer.

    “No, sir. Probably beating their brains out wondering why that Dominion warp signature suddenly vanished.”

    Kozar let out a relieved sigh. He sat down in the command chair almost certain they would not be so lucky next time.

    “I’ll ask again,” Darcen hissed in Limis’s left ear. As she was being interrogated, she continued to twitch her wrists to loosen the ropes. “How many other ships are on the way to intercept us?”

    Rhys had asked that question several times before, but Limis repeatedly feigned ignorance, despite having discussed plans with the commanders of the Seventh and Ninth Fleets. Markalis just watched from across the room wondering how long her captain could keep this up before Darcen snapped. He was feeling light-headed at times and becoming increasingly short-tempered. Maybe she could exploit this weakness like she did with Snežana. The question of how was difficult here with Grimaud potentially reading her thoughts while looking over her shoulder.

    “If you really must know,” Limis said, “the whole damn Ninth Fleet will be waiting for you at Ventani.”

    Darcen chortled while grabbing Limis on the neck. “Whom do you think you’re talking to?” he grumbled. “They wouldn’t leave Deep Space 9 and the Chin’toka sector unprotected even to stop us.”

    “That’s my best guess. I’m not included in very many fleet briefings.”

    Darcen socked Limis in the right eye and stood upright. “Stop playing games with me, Bajoran,” he huffed. “You should appreciate what I’m about to do to your people’s greatest enemies.”

    Before Limis could reply, the comm chimed. “Excellency,” Faroun’s voice called. “We’ve reached the Ventani System.

    “Time to make history,” Darcen cheerfully proclaimed. “Faroun, drop us to impulse. I’m on my way.”

    Limis lunged towards Darcen, slipping the ropes that had previously bound her wrists around his neck. Having been taken by surprise, he fell backwards as she pulled him down. He was also experiencing sharp pains in his forehead, which made sending him to the deck easier. During that exchange, Limis also fell backwards, allowing her to slip through the rope that had bound her to a sitting position.

    Markalis could only watch nervously as her captain flung her chair at Darcen’s head. What was surprising to Aurellan was that Grimaud had not warned Rhys ahead of time to prevent such an altercation. All she did know about Grimaud’s telepathic abilities was how erratic they were. Aurellan then had to remind herself that the reason for Grimaud’s inaction was not important at this moment.

    Both Limis and Darcen forced themselves upright at the same time, and they stood face to face. Before Limis could deliver a right hook at her opponent, Darcen lunged towards her, pinning her to the wall. “You got lucky that time,” he gloated. “I still have five times your strength and reflexes twice as fast.” He arched his head around to glare at Grimaud while holding his right forearm to Limis’s clavicle. “You were supposed to warn me!” he snarled.

    Grimaud was already put out by Rhys’s anger shortly before that outburst. His shoulders drooped, as he turned around dismayed to focus again on the prisoner he was supposed to be guarding. His eyes widened in surprise when he saw Ileana step through the door brandishing a phaser pistol. His response quickly alerted Rhys. He loosened his grip on Limis to confront his lover.

    “Let these people go,” she implored, as they inched closer to each other. “Snežana’s right. Revenge is wasteful.”

    “You, too?” Darcen replied. “Why?”

    “Ever since you killed Diego, I see now that you have become just as much of a liability. What will killing these two accomplish? It’s more about your legacy, your ego, than about ending this war.”

    “I don’t think you have it in you to kill me,” Rhys taunted. He grabbed the phaser from Ileana’s hand and hurled it across the room. He then gave an evil grin.

    Ileana pulled a knife from her belt and lunged at Rhys. He grabbed both her wrists. Their equal strengths held their bodies in place. Deadlock. The only deciding factor now was if one of them winced in pain. Limis quietly watched these events unfold and considered this distraction the right moment to grab Darcen’s holstered phaser.

    But she could not move. The nerve impulses did not fire. Not even a stray thought was in her mind, as if her brain was in stasis. All she could do was stand frozen while blinking her eyes. Time appeared to stand still. The room was eerily quiet. Not even the sound of breathing and hearts beating could be heard. Markalis looked around the room and saw Rhys and Ileana held motionless. She was still trying to loosen the restraints on her wrists. Maybe Grimaud figured that even if she did escape, she couldn’t fight off three augments herself. Maybe he lacked the strength to hold four people motionless. Or maybe something in his subconscious was holding him back.

    “Grimaud,” Aurellan said in a partial whisper. “Let them go.”
    Grimaud shook his head while staring at the floor as if embarrassed. His facial muscles tensed, suggesting he was terrified of the consequences of defying Darcen.

    “You didn’t warn Rhys of Limis’s escape attempt,” Aurellan persisted. “I think that’s because you know that this whole venture is wrong. If this attack goes forward, thousands of civilians will die. And the Dominion will certainly retaliate. It’ll be just the excuse the Founders need to use biological weapons against us.”

    Grimaud looked straight ahead in the direction of Rhys and Ileana. In a split second, Darcen lowered the knife in Ileana’s hand and jammed it into her chest.

    “Noooo!” Grimaud cried out to the surprise of everyone else in the room.

    Darcen did not have much of a chance to gloat as he watched Ileana collapse to the floor, blood trickling down her torso and abdomen. He felt his phaser pistol being removed from his holster. He turned around to see Limis fire a lethal burst at his shoulder.

    He fell to the floor with a look of embarrassment on his face. After all he had hoped to accomplish, he would die by his own weapon. “You can kill me,” he muttered, “but Faroun will still deploy the weapon.”

    In a silent rage, Limis shot the dying man three more times in the chest.

    Markalis had just been untied when she noticed what was taking place. “Limis, stop it,” she said, grabbing the captain’s right wrist. “He’s dead already.”

    “You’d show him compassion,” Limis deadpanned, “after all the times he threatened to kill you.”

    Markalis nodded silently.

    “We still have to stop the weapon,” Limis said. Indicating Grimaud, she asked, “Can we trust him?”

    Aurellan smiled at Grimaud, and he smiled back. “He just gave us reason to,” she replied.

    “You head to the torpedo launch bay,” Limis instructed while retrieving the phaser Rhys had thrown aside and handing it to Markalis. ‘I’ll go to the bridge. Two of us against who knows how many augments. Doesn’t look good, but we have to try.”

    “Yes, ma’am,” Markalis softly answered.

    As the women left, Grimaud just stared at the dead bodies of his colleagues. As eccentric and misguided as Rhys and Ileana were, they were two of his closest friends. A single tear fell down his right cheek in silent mourning of their deaths and of Snežana eventual demise.

    Ventani Two was an Earth-sized planet with a copper surface much like Cardassia Prime. It had no noticeable bodies of water leaving a layperson to wonder how it could possibly support humanoid life. The Phillip Green closed in on the planet. None of the orbital patrols gave the small patrol vessel much thought. Right behind it, the Lambda Paz dropped out of warp with phasers firing at its aft thrusters. The Green returned fire with aft torpedoes.

    The bridge rocked lightly from that hit. Kozar stood in front of the tactical station as Morrison closely monitored the tactical situation. “Is there a big enough hole in their shields to get a transporter beam through?” the commander inquired.

    “Yes, sir,” Morrison answered. “Aft shields at forty percent effectiveness.”

    “Assemble your away teams, then.”

    Morrison called to a male Benzite ensign at the port mission operations console and motioned him to take over tactical before sprinting to the starboard turbolift.

    Morrison and Neeley lead a five person team which also consisted of a human male, a native Rigelian male, and an Andorian zhen from left to right. They skulked through a lower deck corridor dressed in vests designed to absorb most lethal phaser settings and armed energy projectile compression phaser rifles. The three MACO’s bringing up the rear turned around when two male augments began shooting at them from behind. Morrison turned around and pinned himself against a wall in response to the exchange of fire and motioned Neeley to duck against the opposite wall. Those two officers began to lay down cover fire while the other three were crouched down. The exchange of weapon fire went on for about a minute with no one going down. That was until the Rigelian in center took an energy projectile straight in the abdomen, sending him to the deck. The Andorian and human soldiers were clipped by phaser fire in the shoulders. The Andorian quickly gathered herself and fired, stunning the man on the right. The human soldier got his man, so he and the Andorian continued forward.

    Down the corridor, two more augments—one male, one female—sprinted towards the team behind Morrison and Neeley. They began firing before the augments could. The female augment took another shot that clipped Morrison in the shoulder. Seeing that the male had a shot at Neeley, Morrison dove across the hall and shoved her to the deck. He shot the man while taking a point-blank shot in the chest. Neeley rolled her eyes as she shot the female augment, not sure whether her male colleague’s action was a display of heroism or just a foolish one of male chivalry.

    Faroun silently watched the viewscreen as the ship inched closer to the planet. He was becoming increasingly anxious and impatient as the man at tactical to report. “In range?” he demanded.

    “Not enough for the maximum dispersal,” said Aymar, whose dark brown skin and short black hair suggested East Indian ancestry.

    “Come on. Come on!” Faroun growled. He was beginning to buckle under his fear that Darcen was dead after he had not yet reported back to the bridge after his announcement that the ship had entered the system. “Prepare a manual lock.”

    “Manual?” Aymar repeated to make sure he heard the order correctly.

    “Starfleet sensors will detect a weapons lock. With luck, they’ll need more time to extrapolate the torpedo’s trajectory.”

    “Anything yet?” Kozar asked, waiting to see what the Phillip Green would do next on the viewscreen.

    “No, sir,” the Benzite relief tactical officer replied. After a quick chirp, he looked down at a sensor readout. “Wait, torpedo has been launched at the planet.”

    Keeping his calm, Kozar bolted for the helm. “Nothing personal, Carson,” he said, “but should take the helm here.”

    “No problem,” Carson deadpanned, relinquishing her seat.

    Each second that passed seemed like an eternity. The Lambda Paz arched upward above the Phillip Green and made a hard starboard turn towards the planet. As the torpedo carrying the deadly biological agent crept closer and closer to the planet’s outer atmosphere, the Lambda Paz veered towards it. Three quantum torpedoes erupted from the dorsal sensor pod and closed in on the first torpedo, scattering it to pieces harmlessly over the planet.

    Kozar saw this take place on the viewscreen and stared at it as the rest of the bridge fell silent. “Report,” he said, as the minute of silence made him more and more nervous.

    “No sign of viral contamination, sir,” Huckaby answered from the Ops console.

    Kozar let out a sigh of relief falling backwards into his chair. He and Carson grinned triumphantly at each other and they locked hands in a congratulatory hand shake. True, the lives they saved were Cardassian. But they may have saved many more lives by preventing the Dominion from being provoked into using biological warfare.
  17. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Faroun was in silent shock, now that everything building to this moment for naught. He did not even hear Starfleet and MACO troops enter the bridge from a starboard access hatch. “Stop right there,” Morrison called to him. “Get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers.”

    Faroun did exactly as he was told. Darcen was dead, the attack averted, and no way to rig up a second torpedo. Neeley gestured the same instructions to Aymar. Two Capellan male soliders, at least a whole foot taller than the two senior officers, entered from a port turbolift and began arresting the rest of the bridge crew. To Morrison’s surprise, Limis entered the bridge from the same entryway.

    “Lambda Paz to away teams,” Kozar called over the bridge comm.

    “We’re all here and intact, Number One,” Limis replied. “I didn’t ask for the help but thanks anyway.”
  18. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant

    Captain Limis did not bother to get medical treatment for herself in sickbay. She just changed into a clean uniform and applied a dermal regenerator to the black eye Darcen gave her in her quarters. On her way to sickbay to check on the rest of the walking wounded, she intercepted Ronnie Kozar in the corridor. Kozar stopped and prepared to turn around thinking she would throw the proverbial book at him for ignoring her insistence that she didn’t want to risk anyone else’s life on a rescue mission. Then he remembered the large padd in his right hand.

    “Thought you could avoid me?” Limis teased while flashing a devious grin.

    “The thought crossed my mind,” Kozar retorted. Handing her the padd, he added, “The damages.”

    “I’ll send you the bill,” Limis said while taking a quick glance.

    After several seconds of silence, Kozar was hoping the topic of going against captain’s orders would not come up. Since they had assumed their respective positions, their working relationship seemed like a game of who had the longer list of grievances against the other. “And under more ideal circumstances,” Limis continued sounding both jovial and stern at the same time, “you’d get both a reprimand for disobeying my orders and a commendation for original thinking.”

    “Yes, sir,” Kozar demurely answered.

    “But I’ll settle for the commendation for protecting me from myself. You performed the duties of a first officer very admirably.”

    Morrison and Neeley were seated next to each other in sickbay’s primary intensive care unit. Morrison was nursing several massive phaser burns on his shoulders and chest. Neeley’s felt pain in between each breath as a result of fractured ribs. She looked around the medical bay hoping that a nurse would notice her pain medication was wearing off. Morrison was simply admiring her sweat soaked forehead and frizzy red hair.

    “If you don’t mind my saying,” Mandel teased, “I’ve never seen you any hotter.”

    Lisa rolled her eyes and snickered at his feeble attempt at flirtation. “I should thank you for taking that phaser blast for me,” she said with a sigh. “And then kick your ass for being so foolish!”

    Mandel saw a certain appeal in being beat up by a girl as soon as Lisa said that. “I have been a bad boy lately,” he quipped.

    “Shut up,” Lisa huffed. She looked away from Mandel straining to say something that had been on her mind since their spontaneous sexual encounter in a cargo bay two weeks earlier. “We really need to define some parameters.”

    “D-define parameters?” Mandel nervously repeated, starting to wonder if Lisa wanted something more.

    “We’re not a couple. None of that sickening lovey-dovey stuff.”

    Mandel sighed, though quietly to hide his relief. “Definitely not,” he said sheepishly. “But the sex is amazing.”


    Limis entered the ICU, looking for the EMH Mark Three. Morrison grinned when he saw her, seeing the captain project an air of confidence that he found attractive, even in a woman of early middle age. Neeley noticed how Morrison looked at the captain, hoping he wouldn’t create an uncomfortable conflict of interest.

    Limis saw the holographic doctor as he was placing a sheet over Snežana’s corpse. He handed a Denobulan female nurse a padd while saying, “Snežana Ilochko, time of death 2317 from massive cell and hemoglobin degradation.” He turned his head to Limis standing next to him and began to look apologetic. “No fatalities among the crew,” he added.

    “Good,” Limis deadpanned. Then indicating Grimaud on the biobed on her left, she asked, “And him?”

    “No sign of the virus they were trying to use. Why he doesn’t talk is tough to figure though.”

    “Darcen said he was broken out of the Institute because the doctors were hoping to suppress his telepathic abilities."

    Grimaud’s eyes narrowed in annoyance that the two of them were referring to him in the third person. The EMH smirked. “He’s a little frustrated that he can’t sense my presence,” he joked. “No, his file says the doctors were helping master not reading other people’s thought without permission.”

    Limis shot a smile at Grimaud to thank him for not reading her thoughts without permission, while noticing over his shoulder that Aurellan Markalis was sorting through the padds that covered the desk in her office.

    That expression that doctors made the worst patients was true. What was strange about Aurellan being there was she was still dressed in a turquoise surgical gown, which was adorned with a combadge in its usual location on a uniform. The holographic doctor had repeatedly insisted that Aurellan should be in bed, but Limis guessed she eventually pulled rank on him.

    Limis entered the CMO’s office with a wide smile. She found the sight of a patient in a surgical gown working in the office odd, but she was mostly worried for her chief medical officer, who had just gone through the most traumatic assignment in her brief Starfleet career. Markalis looked up to see the captain while still maintaining an ambivalent facial expression. “Captain,” she said quizzically. “Can I help you with something?”

    "I was remembering something Darcen said,' Limis continued, "about humans' fear of 'people like us' and that you were one of them. But if you were an augment, you'd be barred from serving in Starfleet or practicing medicine. So you're either a descendant of the Eugenics Wars Augments or... "

    "That's classified medical information, Captain," Markalis replied.

    "This is off the record," Limis said, removing her combadge and setting it down on the desk.

    Markalis did the same. She decided that now was the best time to explain everything—her introverted tendencies, the fact that she rarely ever smiled, and her intense need for consistent daily and weekly routines. And while she repeatedly insisted she was not romantically attracted to other women, Snežana was attracted to her. Snežana’s advances were still a reminder to Aurellan of her history of pushing people away. Vircona was here as a friend, rather than as her commanding officer. "Are you familiar with a condition called Asperger's Syndrome?" she asked.

    "I know of it. I'm nowhere near the medical expert you are though."

    Aurellan sighed, then got up and walked across the room bracing to share something she had not shared with very many others. "I was found to be severely autistic when I was three years old,” she explained. “I would yell and scream for no apparent reason. My language development was far behind. I didn't even respond to my own name. When the doctors learned what was wrong with me, I began undergoing a series of genetic treatments. I became as close to 'normal' as was possible.

    “However, I continue to struggle with basic social interaction. I have an intense need for predictability in my daily routines. Everyday, I take tranquilizers so I don't become mentally overwhelmed. I would still give up my superior mental abilities and my need for structure and order to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise. To love and to be loved."

    Limis grinned, considering how chaotic the last sixteen months had been. “Who doesn’t want predictability?” Limis asked rhetorically. “Yet you chose a chaotic way of life.”

    “I chose to become a doctor,” Markalis replied. “I later saw an opportunity make a difference in my profession. I bring order to the chaos this war has wrought on all of us.”

    “Longing for simpler times,” Limis mumbled, remembering how quickly she had adulthood thrust upon her. One day, she was a child without a care in the world. The next, she was an orphan fending for herself.

    “Ma’am?” Markalis asked in confusion.

    “I see you as the little girl I once was,” Limis explained, “in what seems like another lifetime.”

    Markalis smiled, feeling a measure of contentment that her commanding officer understood her. She spent the last few days certain Limis would have her discharged from the service after such a betrayal. That telepathic manipulation influenced Aurellan’s actions was still of little consolation. Getting over some of her other less than reputable actions, however, would take weeks of counseling and months, if not years, of soul searching. The outcome was still positive, but she still helped create a virus to be used as a weapon and deliberately infect four sentient beings with that virus. Those wounds would not heal in a day or a week.

    Limis returned the smile. She picked up her comm badge and headed for the door. “Try to get some rest, Doctor,” she suggested.

    “Vircona,” Markalis called the second the doors parted. She surprised herself, having never before addressed a superior by given name. “Thank you for coming back for me.”

    Markalis ran towards Limis and wrapped her arms around the older woman. This caught Limis by surprise, as Markalis was not known for such spontaneous expressions of affection. After a second of hesitation, Limis returned the warm embrace.

    Aurellan later took the captain’s advice and retired to her quarters for a quick shower. While in the process of disrobing, she felt a chill in the room. Maybe it was momentary draft, but her Russell terrier woke up from a light nap on the sofa in the living area and began barking. “Milady,” Aurellan called to the dog. “Why are you fussy? Calm down.”

    She unhooked the back of her brazier, but kept it on when she saw someone in the corner of her eye. Cole was sitting in the same chair he occupied the first time he appeared in her quarters.

    “Let me congratulate for a job well done,” he said with something of a triumphant grin.

    “Are you fucking kidding me?” Markalis gasped, holding both her arms to her chest. She quickly stomped over to her bed to put on a pink silk robe while her back was to turned to him.

    “You don’t have to stay dressed on my account,” Cole retorted.

    Markalis tied her robe shut and hurled a pillow at the intruder. “’Job well done’?” she scoffed. “I could’ve died during this undercover mission you sent me on.”

    Cole gently flung the pillow off his lap. “But you stayed the course,” he said. “You stood by your principles, and you showed great courage that even you didn’t think you were capable of.”

    Aurellan sat down at the foot of her bed gritting her teeth. She was not sure whether to be flattered by that positive evaluation or her disturbed that she had taken actions she did over the past two weeks. “But why me?” she asked, still trying to calm herself with slow deep breaths. “Surely, you have more qualified agents for that kind of field work.”

    “But none of them have your gift for intellectualizing all the things most of us take for granted,” Cole answered plainly. “You spoke their language.”

    Aurellan shook her head deeply troubled someone was comparing her to humans who could so easily trivialize life. “I am nothing like them,” she insisted.

    Cole slowly stood up walked towards the bed. “Of course not. But you possess a willingness to take up a cause of greater worth; greater than that of loyalty to the Federation, your ship, your crew. As much as your captain vilifies Section 31, we did a good deed today.”

    Aurellan just sat and stared coldly at her uninvited guest. The only thing stopping her from having a complete nervous breakdown was knowing that her anger was not just at Cole. “Get out of here now,” she said in a suppressed rage, jabbing her right index at him.

    “For once I’m happy to oblige,” Cole retorted. He strode towards the main entrance and left.

    Aurellan walked across the cabin to make sure no one else was in her quarters. She looked thoroughly under the sofa, the desk, and the bed. Once satisfied no other intruders were in her quarters, Aurellan walked into the head and activated forcefields to seal off the main entrance and the head. She finished undressing and set the shower chamber to dispense water.

    Cold water poured down on her body. Aurellan suddenly found herself overcome with emotion and slid down the wall into a sitting position holding her legs up to her chest. She wept as many traumatic memories began funneling to the surface of her consciousness. First, of a Jem’Hadar stabbing her in the shoulder, then of firing a lethal phaser blast at a Jem’Hadar who very nearly killed her several months earlier, and finally of slugging Darcen after he threatened to kill her.

    It was the opportunity of a lifetime, the recruiter who first encouraged her to join Starfleet told her. She had done a lot of good things for an organization devoted to keeping the peace. Then the Dominion War began, and she found herself facing danger almost everyday.

    These were the moments, Aurellan Markalis realized, that robbed her of her innocence.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010