Star Trek: Lower Decks - CF037 - "Those Left Behind"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by ColdFusion180, Jun 18, 2022.

  1. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    Originally posted on fanfiction.net - Link.

    Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek: Lower Decks.
    --------------------------------------

    Those Left Behind

    Chapter One: Another Mission Gone Awry

    “Oooo, this is so exciting!” Tendi squealed with a bright smile and eager eyes. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening! My first away mission! This is going to be so cool!”

    “This is gonna be so lame,” Mariner grunted lifting a cargo container off an anti-grav. She, Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford were in the Main Shuttlebay loading supplies into the waiting shuttlecraft Alcatraz. “Spending three days conducting a planetary survey of some forsaken, uninhabited ball of rock nobody’s ever heard of. Talk about boring!”

    “It’s not boring,” Boimler defended as he and Rutherford worked to carry a large container. “Nauru II is one of several planets recently discovered within the Tibor Nebula. The Cerritos will drop us off before delivering separate survey teams to other newly cataloged planets located in the nebula while further exploring the region.”

    “Yeah, it’s really neat,” Rutherford smiled. “The Tibor nebula has remained virtually uncharted until now due to all the sensor-blocking theta, polaron, and baryon radiation floating around inside it. Starfleet didn’t even know Nauru II existed until the Argus Array picked it up after completing its latest round of sensor updates.”

    “And we’ll be the first ones to ever set foot on the new planet!” Tendi chirped while practically hopping up and down. “Just think of all the fascinating, unknown lifeforms waiting for us down on a strange new world!”

    “Sorry to burst your bubble T, but there aren’t any weird, interesting lifeforms down there,” Mariner said stowing a container. “Preliminary scans showed nothing but rocks, various plant life and nothing more complex than some ocean-dwelling invertebrates.”

    “Wow, you actually paid attention during the mission briefing?” Boimler asked, surprised.

    “Eh, I half-listened to the first thirty seconds of it before tuning out the rest,” Mariner waved. “I spent the rest of the briefing asleep. I swear Stevens has the dullest voice ever. Someone should record his mission briefings and sell them as the ultimate cure for insomnia! Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea…”

    “Oh no. Don’t even think about it,” Boimler warned shooting her a look. “We’ve been assigned a serious mission! The first away mission we’ve been on in months! In Tendi’s case her first one ever,” He indicated their Orion friend. “The last thing we need is for you to slack off and treat it as just another big joke!”

    “Oh, please,” Mariner rolled her eyes. “We’ll be conducting surveys on an uninhabited planet where the most dangerous thing will be stubbing our toes while fending off boredom. It’s practically a camping trip!”

    “Oooo, really? I’ve never gone camping before,” Tendi smiled happily. “Well, except for wilderness survival training at the Academy, but that was more like monitored outdoors classes and tests. This will be the real thing!”

    “Yeah!” Rutherford chimed in excitedly. “Just think of all the planetary data waiting to be scanned, processed, cataloged and analyzed!”

    “Thrilling,” Mariner drawled. “I can hardly contain myself.”

    “Hey there, people!” Lieutenant Commander Stevens sauntered into the shuttlebay. “Finish loading up the supplies and let’s get this show on the road!”

    “Yes, sir!” Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford replied cheerfully.

    “Yes, sir. Of course, sir,” Mariner mocked picking up another heavy container. “Thanks for offering to help load and stow away the supplies, sir. Ugh, this mission is really gonna stink.”

    The four ensigns soon finished loading the shuttlecraft and piled in along with Stevens before departing the Cerritos. “Yep, you ensigns sure are lucky Nauru II’s atmosphere contains so much ionization and high energy particle emissions,” Stevens commented sitting in one of the pilot seats as they descended through the thick layers of plasma and clouds. “All the interference blocks transporters so you’ll be logging plenty of shuttle flight hours as we conduct our surveys of the planet.”

    “Understood, sir,” Boimler said sitting next to him as he piloted the Alcatraz. “Always happy to get more experience in various shuttlecraft environments.”

    “Not to mention experience kissing up to superior officers,” Mariner quipped sitting across from Tendi and Rutherford in the back with her feet propped up on a container. “And you’re overlooking the complete impracticality of conducting an entire planetary survey on foot. Of course we’d take a shuttle down to the surface. Too bad we didn’t bring an Argo-class buggy along too. Now that would’ve been fun…”

    “Sensors confirm a rich Class M atmosphere, if a little light on oxygen and a touch heavy in carbon dioxide,” Tendi reported leaned forward to check one of the readouts. “A twice-daily, ten cc’s tri-ox compound injection should easily compensate for it.”

    “A twice-daily, ten hundred cc’s ingestion of ice-cold beer wouldn’t hurt either,” Stevens remarked as the shuttlecraft broke through the last cloud bank and soared over some rocky, jungle-like terrain. “Hmmm, not exactly Casperia Prime or the south-west coast of North America, but it’ll do.”

    “What did you expect?” Mariner gave him a look. “Did ya really think every planet we’d visit would look like Southern California?”

    “Looks like there’s a wide-open landing space approximately twelve kilometers ahead near the base of a mountain ridge,” Boimler reported.

    “Sounds good to me,” Stevens said. “Ensign, take us down.”

    “Ahooga, ahooga. Dive, dive,” Mariner quipped as Boimler worked the controls and gently landed the shuttlecraft.

    “Good work, Ensign,” Stevens praised before activating the shuttlecraft’s comm. “Stevens to Cerritos. We’ve safely made planetfall and have confirmed the preliminary sensor scans of a breathable, Class M atmosphere.”

    Understood, Commander,” Captain Freeman replied. “We’ll break orbit now and head to the next planet on our survey list. See you all in three days.

    “Acknowledged, Captain. Stevens out,” Stevens said closing the channel.

    “Ahhh, a brand-new planet just for us!” Tendi smiled opening the rear hatch and literally skipping down the ramp. “Mmmm, just smell that sweet, fresh, non-starship recycled air!”

    “Smells more like a severe case of jungle rot to me,” Mariner snorted as she and Rutherford followed after Tendi. “Man, even Boims’ dirty socks don’t smell this bad. Which is scary considering they spend all day cooped up inside his sealed Starfleet regulation boots and even while he sleeps.”

    “Hey, my socks and feet smell just fine, thank you,” Boimler protested as he powered down the shuttlecraft. “I regularly clean them using a sonic washer and sprinkle a light coating of epidellic foot powder on them before every shift!”

    “That explains why you go through more socks than an Edosian sprinter,” Mariner quipped. “I swear the cleaning processor shudders every time you approach it.”

    “Hey, is it just me or does anyone detect a faint smoky scent in the air?” Tendi asked taking a few sniffs. “It smells kind of like a plasma fire.”

    “More like weapons fire,” Mariner frowned noticing several faint scorch mark trails covering the ground. “Are we sure this planet’s uninhabited?”

    “It’s not weapons fire. It’s regular fire,” Rutherford explained studying his tricorder. “This planet has large concentrations of high energy plasma in its upper atmosphere. The subsequent high energy particle emissions must gradually build up before being eventually ignited by all the radiation emitted by the nebula, resulting in intense fire storms like on Bersallis III.”

    “Well that certainly puts me at ease,” Boimler groaned exiting the shuttlecraft and looking around. “The fires must periodically clear entire areas of plant life like this clearing.”

    “Which must also break down some of the rock in the area releasing large amounts of newly liberated minerals and enriching the surrounding soil,” Tendi realized. “Thus allowing new plant life to take root and thrive. Wow, isn’t life amazing?”

    Some life maybe,” Mariner shrugged. “My life right now, not so much.”

    “Hey, what are you people standing around for?” Stevens scolded emerging from the shuttlecraft. “Quit loafing around and wasting time.”

    “Says the guy who has spent the last two minutes grooming his mustache in the shuttle’s control panel reflections,” Mariner muttered.

    “This area is as a good place as any to set up our base camp,” Stevens declared. “Plenty of space to put up shelters. So let’s get to it!”

    “Yes, sir,” Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford nodded and began unloading the cargo containers.

    “And just what are you going to do, sir?” Mariner gave Stevens a look. “Stand around and watch while the rest of us lowly ensigns do all the actual physical work?”

    “I’m working. I’m supervising and monitoring your progress,” Stevens said striking a pose. “After all, I learned and modeled my personal style of command from the best: Commander Jack Ransom!”

    “I should’ve known,” Mariner rolled her eyes.

    “Plus, I’m checking the area for potential hostiles,” Stevens continued pulling out a tricorder. “You never know when or where danger will suddenly strike!”

    “Yeah, I’m sure the native plant life is very dangerous,” Mariner drawled grabbing a container. “I bet there’s a whole network of roots and fungi tendrils lurking under our very feet right now, just waiting to burst up and grab us and turn us into giant spore bags or something.”

    “Oooh, you really think so?” Tendi asked anxiously. “That would be neat!”

    “Are you crazy?” Boimler looked at her in shock. “What am I saying?”

    “Once we finish setting up our camp we’ll start taking surveys,” Stevens said poking at his tricorder. “Half of you will take the Alcatraz and begin running a geological scan of the southern hemisphere while the rest you set up monitoring stations…”

    BWWWRZWH!

    “Gahhh!” Stevens screamed as he was suddenly struck by a bluish-white energy bolt.

    “Yikes!” Rutherford and Tendi yelped dropping the large container they were carrying and quickly huddled behind it. “Ahhh! What the heck was that?”

    “Don’t know. But at least Stevens isn’t prattling on anymore,” Mariner grinned drawing her phaser. “‘Bout time we had some real action around here!”

    “Surrender!” The air around them suddenly shimmered as nine heavily-armed Jem’Hadar unshrouded with charged rifles leveled and ready. “Do not move! You are now prisoners of the Dominion!”

    “You just had to say that, didn’t you?” Boimler groaned.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2022
    Robert Bruce Scott likes this.
  2. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    War Relics

    “So much for a dull, boring camping trip,” Mariner grumbled as the Jem’Hadar swiftly relieved the four ensigns of their phasers, tricorders and combadges before forcing them to kneel on the ground. “Ow! Hey, watch the merchandise!”

    “Quiet,” The leader of the Jem’Hadar warned fixing her with a look. Six of the soldiers watched the prisoners while the rest secured and inspected the shuttlecraft. “How many other Federation troops are on this planet?”

    None of the ensigns answered. The lead Jem’Hadar stared directly at Rutherford. “Speak.”

    “Uh, I would, but you previously said for us to be quiet…” Rutherford gulped as the Jem’Hadar leader smoothly pointed his rifle at his head. “But if you insist…”

    “There are no other Starfleet personnel on the planet,” Boimler quickly spoke up. “There’s just the four of us and Lieutenant Commander Stevens.”

    “Oh my gosh! I’ve been shot!” Stevens wailed sprawled on the ground clutching his side having also been relieved of his equipment. “Somebody help me! I’m bleeding! Oh, the pain! The pain!”

    “Uh, can I please treat Commander Stevens’ wound?” Tendi asked timidly. “He’s probably dying.”

    “My ears certainly are,” Mariner muttered under her breath.

    “He will live. For the moment,” The Jem’Hadar leader said coldly as a trio of Jem’Hadar emerged from the shuttlecraft.

    “No other crew,” One of them reported. “Unknown class of Starfleet shuttlecraft similar to the Type 8. No armaments, though it is equipped with some kind of blast shield along with minor modifications to the shield generators. Cargo consists of basic ration packs, portable shelters, various scanning equipment and a case of alcohol-based beverages.”

    “Huh?” Tendi, Boimler and Rutherford turned and stared at Mariner in surprise.

    “What, you really think I’d go on a three-day overnight without packing proper supplies?” Mariner shrugged. “C’mon, stop looking at me like that. I was going to share it with you. Well, some of it anyway…”

    “Oh geeze,” Boimler moaned. “I should have known.”

    The Jem’Hadar leader quietly absorbed the information before regarding the ensigns again. “How many Federation ships are in orbit?”

    “None,” Rutherford replied. “But the Cerritos will be back to pick us up in a few days.”

    “Dude, shut up!” Mariner hissed. “Quit giving information to the enemy!”

    “We’re not enemies,” Boimler pointed out. “At least not anymore.”

    “Will somebody please help me?!” Stevens howled in agony. “I can’t feel my legs! I’m going into shock!”

    “Enough,” The Jem’Hadar leader stared at Tendi. “You are a scientific or medical officer?”

    “Um, yes,” Tendi gulped nervously.

    “You may treat your commander. Keep him quiet,” The Jem’Hadar leader glanced at one of his subordinates. “Retrieve a medical kit from the shuttlecraft. Watch the human closely.”

    “I’m Orion, actually,” Tendi corrected getting up and moving towards Stevens. “Never had anyone make that mistake before.”

    The Jem’Hadar leader looked surprised for a moment before stepping away and activating a communicator on his wrist. “This is First Lipura’klan of Squad Two. We have captured five Starfleet officers and one unarmed Starfleet shuttlecraft while on routine patrol. They claim there are no Federation starships currently in orbit, but expect one to return within the next few days.”

    Return the prisoners to base,” A rich, no-nonsense voice ordered. “Squad Three will be diverted to guard the shuttlecraft and undertake intelligence retrieval operations.

    “Understood,” First Lipura’klan tapped his communicator before turning towards Tendi. “Is your commander stable?”

    “Yes,” Tendi nodded as she finished treating Stevens. “I’ve managed to stop the hemorrhaging and counteract the lingering anti-coagulant in his system. There isn’t much more I can do with a medkit. What he really needs is to be treated in a hospital or a starship’s Sickbay.”

    “Your efforts will suffice,” Lipura’klan gestured to his men. “Secure the prisoners and move out.”

    “Wait! Commander Stevens shouldn’t be moved!” Tendi protested as one the Jem’Hadar seized the medkit. “There’s no major internal damage, but he suffered a lot of residual tissue disruption to his nervous system and he’s in a lot of pain…”

    “Oh, the pain! The pain!” Stevens cried. “We’re talking major pain here, people! Even open chest surgery with someone manually pumping my heart wasn’t this bad!”

    “Quiet,” Lipura’klan ordered leveling his rifle. “Conquer the pain. Or I will end your suffering now.”

    “There’s no need for that,” Tendi intervened quickly. “I can give Commander Stevens a sedative that will render him unconscious.”

    “Make sure it’s a lot of sedative,” Mariner rolled her eyes. “I swear the kids in the Cerritos’ daycare don’t whine nearly as much as Stevens. And they’re way less annoying too.”

    “Speak for yourself,” Boimler groaned.

    “Enough talking,” Lipura’klan said coldly as Tendi was handed back the medkit and mercifully allowed to empty a full hypospray of sedative into Stevens’ neck. “Move out. Now!”

    --------------------------------------

    Later…

    “Whew, are we there yet?” Tendi asked quietly wiping beads of sweat from her forehead.

    “How the heck should I know?” Mariner grumbled irritably as she and Boimler trudged along while carrying Stevens’ limp form. “It feels like we’ve been hiking for hours.”

    “More like thirty-five minutes,” Rutherford whispered consulting his implant’s display. The Jem’Hadar had been forcing them to move up into the mountain range at a fairly brisk pace. “We’ve covered about four point two kilometers.”

    “Feels more like four hundred kilometers carrying the commander,” Boimler panted sagging under Stevens’ weight. “He really needs to go on a diet when we get back to the ship. If we get back…”

    “Less talking. More walking,” One of the Jem’Hadar stonily nudged Boimler’s side with his rifle.

    “Wow,” Tendi blinked as they were led into a long, dark cavern. The round, grooved walls gently curved as they descended deeper into the mountainside. “Looks like we’re inside an old lava tube.”

    “Lava?” Rutherford gulped nervously.

    “We must be at the base of a volcano,” Tendi added as a sparse string of artificial lights automatically turned on. She lightly ran her fingers over the walls. “Looks like the lava tube is streaked with significant kelbonite deposits. The volcano is in all likelihood extinct. I think…”

    “You think?” Boimler gasped.

    “Eh, who cares?” Mariner waved. “You’ve seen one rocky underground passage, you’ve seen ‘em all. The passages could be on sixteen different planets yet all be staged the same. Ever notice that?”

    “Quiet,” Lipura’klan ordered as they approached a crude doorway carved into one of the walls. Lipura’klan exchanged recognition codes with a trio of Jem’Hadar guards standing outside the doorway before leading the group on.

    “Oh boy,” Rutherford goggled at the transition from dark, dank cave to sleek, utilitarian gray walls. “This is not looking good.”

    “You’re just realizing this now?” Mariner muttered quietly. “Geeze, talk about a slow uptake.”

    The ensigns were led through a series of corridors before arriving at a large room containing a trio of circular areas outlined on the floor. The Jem’Hadar herded Tendi and Rutherford into one circle and the other officers into another. “Inside.”

    “Gladly,” Boimler gasped dropping Stevens like a sack of potatoes. He slowly struggled to straighten up. “Ohhh, my back.”

    “Well, this is one brig I’m not happy to be in,” Mariner grumbled as the circular containment areas were each enveloped by a force field. “No bunk, no privacy, no waste extraction unit. Still, I’ve been detained in worse.”

    “Good to hear. Nice to know the Dominion continues to maintains its superiority in all areas, including internment facilities.”

    “Huh?” The four ensigns turned as a wispy female Vorta entered the room. She wore a loose closed-necked jumpsuit, had crystal blue eyes and a crown of curly black hair above her curved scalloped ears. Lipura’klan and his men smoothly assumed guard positions. “Who are you?”

    “I am Valiawen,” The Vorta gave a charming smile. “Welcome to our isolated abode. I assure you you will all be granted the full rights and protections of prisoners of war.”

    “Huh? What are you talking about?” Boimler blinked, confused. “The Federation and the Dominion aren’t at war.”

    “At least not with each other,” Tendi added. “Not anymore.”

    “Excuse me?” Valiawen blinked, caught off guard.

    “The Dominion War ended five years ago,” Mariner explained. “Didn’t you get the memo?”

    “Oh, so the Federation and its allies finally surrendered,” Valiawen smiled. “Excellent. How wonderful to hear you all finally accepted to be ruled by the benevolent wisdom of the Founders.”

    “No, you misunderstand,” Rutherford shook his head. “The Federation, Klingons and Romulans didn’t surrender. The Dominion, Breen and Cardassians did.”

    “What was left of the Cardassians anyway,” Tendi added sadly. “After they switched sides.”

    “Preposterous,” Valiawen waved dismissively. “The Dominion has never surrendered much less lost a war since its founding ten thousand years ago.”

    “Eh, there’s a first time for everything,” Mariner quipped.

    “You’re lying,” Valiawen frowned while Lipura’klan and his men remained stone-faced.

    “It’s true,” Boimler insisted. “The articles of surrender were broadcast over every subspace channel for weeks. You must have received them.”

    “All our long-range communication systems and subspace antennas were destroyed during a sudden, violent earthquake five years ago,” Valiawen said studying the four ensigns carefully. “We have not been in contact with any other Dominion forces since.”

    “That is classified information,” Lipura’klan warned. “Tell them nothing.”

    “I am the one questioning the prisoners here, First,” Valiawen snapped. “Behave and you may conduct your own interrogation later. Besides, these four young officers aren’t going anywhere. Unless you doubt your and your men’s ability to keep them from escaping?” Lipura’klan glowered, but stayed silent. “I thought so.”

    “Nice inspirational command style you got there,” Mariner drawled sarcastically. “Bet guys just jump at the chance to serve and impress you.”

    “Obedience brings Victory,” Valiawen stated firmly. “And Victory is life.”

    “Victory is life!” Every Jem’Hadar in the room declared in unison.

    “O-kay,” Rutherford gulped, intimidated. “Though living and Engineering are life too. Just saying.”

    “Oooo, and Medical,” Tendi chirped managing a smile. “Along with, of course, Science.”

    “Enough with the ‘meaning of life’ debate,” Mariner rolled her eyes before addressing Valiawen once again. “Look, from the sounds of things you were all stranded on this lush ball o’ rock sometime during the war. And like it or not, the Dominion War is over. You lost. Deal with it. If you don’t believe us, just take us back to our shuttle and we’ll call anyone you want to confirm it.”

    “And give you a chance to send out a distress signal? I think not,” Valiawen declined. “Instead, we’ll use your shuttlecraft to reestablish communications with the Dominion. That is a much better plan.”

    “Uh, actually that won’t work,” Rutherford spoke up. “There’s too much interference from all the radiation in the nebula for long-range communications. Not to mention all the high energy plasma emissions in the planet’s ionized atmosphere. A ship would have to be in low orbit like ours was to receive any kind of communication signal.”

    “Hmmm, that explains why our own makeshift communication efforts have gone unanswered,” Valiawen thought for a moment. “No matter. The Dominion will come for us. It is only a matter of time.

    “I wouldn’t count on it, lady,” Mariner scoffed. “But you’re welcome to sit around inside your dinky little clubhouse and wait.”

    “Oh, I’m sure we’ll find something to occupy ourselves in the interim,” Valiawen smiled ominously.

    “Um, excuse me?” Tendi held up her hand. “I need to know something. How are you still alive after all this time? The Jem’Hadar I mean. Shouldn’t they have run out of ketracel-white years ago? I know Vorta don’t consume ketracel-white. Do you?”

    “No, the Founders blessed the Vorta with more…traditional tastes,” Valiawen said diplomatically. “As for the white, let’s just say we’ve had ample stocks and leave it at that.”

    “Oooo, does that mean you have a ketracel-white distillery around here?” Mariner perked up. “I don’t suppose you’ve distilled any more intoxicating kinds of beverages…”

    “Seriously?” Boimler gave her a look.

    “What? I’m just asking,” Mariner held up her hands. “A gal’s gotta have priorities.”

    “I must agree,” Valiawen’s demeanor grew serious. “And my priorities are to collect all information about current Federation ships, weapons, technology, tactics and supply capabilities possessed by captured Starfleet officers. Even officers as delicate and low-ranked as you.”

    “Hey, we’re not delicate,” Boimler protested. “Well, okay Lieutenant Commander Stevens is, but he’s much higher ranked…”

    “For the last time, the war is over!” Mariner yelled in exasperation. “The Federation and the Dominion are at peace! You don’t need to interrogate us!”

    “Oh, I think I do,” Valiawen’s smile was both beautiful and terrifying. “Now, how shall we begin?”
     
  3. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    No One Expects the Dominion Inquisition!

    “No! Not this! Anything but this!” Rutherford cried in pain.

    “Aggghhhhhh! Help! I can’t take anymore!” Boimler howled withering on the floor in agony. “Make it stop! Make it stop!”

    “You people are sick! Sick I tell you!” Mariner screamed clawing at her face. “Kill me! Kill me now!”

    “Well, these certainly aren’t the reactions I expected,” Valiawen blinked at the four ensigns in shock. Lipura’klan and his men stood by watching dispassionately. “I’m not trying to torture you. I’m attempting to get you to relax.”

    “How the heck do you expect us to do that when you bombard us with nonstop Tellarite polka music?!” Mariner screamed desperately attempting to cover her ears while music blared from a handheld padd-like device in Valiawen’s hand. “Gahhh! My ears are bleeding!”

    “My ear is enhanced!” Rutheford frantically attempted to disable it. “Curse this Vulcan-level implant!”

    “Where’s a pair of noise-cancelling earplugs when you need them?” Boimler whimpered while futilely attempting to hum warp engine sounds to counteract the music. “I wish I was deaf!”

    “Come on, guys. It’s not…that…bad,” Tendi vainly attempted a pained smile while gritting her teeth in anguish. “Kinda springy, rhythmical and…upbeat?”

    “More like a misaligned sonic screwdriver whirring straight into my skull!” Mariner cried. “Yahhh, I’d rather be infested with Ceti Alpha eels!”

    “I don’t understand why you people find this music so unbearable,” Valiawen remarked. “Personally, I rather enjoy it.”

    “Oh gosh, it’s true! Vorta really do lack all sense of aesthetics!” Boimler yelled miserably. “If only the same could be said for me!”

    “Why doesn’t this thing come with a mute button?” Rutherford frenetically stabbed at his implant. “If viewscreens and audio channels can be muted, so should I!”

    “Figures Stevens would remain unconscious during all this,” Mariner hissed glancing at Stevens’ prone form. “Gosh, I envy him!”

    “Alright, that’s enough,” Valiawen sighed tapping the padd. “I can see this form of prisoner malleability preparation isn’t working.”

    “No, ya think?” Mariner snapped as the music finally shut off. “Ahhh, thank the Great Bird. I can hear again!”

    “Ah, silence. Sweet, blessed silence,” Boimler sighed in relief. “Never again will I leave you.”

    “Oooo, my ear,” Rutherford moaned rubbing his implant. “I think some of the micro gyrostabilizers short-circuited again.”

    “Let’s move on to one-on-one sessions,” Valiawen addressed Lipura’klan and his men while gesturing to Boimler. “Take this one to my private office. You may have your pick of the rest. Study them one at a time. Try to leave them intact.”

    “Understood,” Lipura’klan replied deactivating the force fields.

    “Hey, what are you doing?” Boimler yelped as a pair of Jem’Hadar grabbed his arms. “You can’t treat prisoners like this! This is a violation of the Khitomer Accords! Help!”

    “Don’t worry, Boims! You can take it!” Mariner shouted as Boimler was dragged out of the room. “Stay strong! Don’t let ‘em break ya!”

    “Forget about him. He is no longer your concern,” Lipura’klan said coldly before looking at Rutherford. “Bring this one.”

    “Huh?” Rutherford gulped as another pair of Jem’Hadar grabbed him. “Ow, watch the hands!”

    “Hey! Let him go!” Tendi jumped on the back of one of the Jem’Hadar. Mariner moved to do the same only to be immediately met with a trio of rifle muzzles.

    “You have a surprising amount of aggressiveness for a medically-trained officer,” Lipura’klan noted as two more Jem’Hadar pried Tendi off their squadmate. “It should serve you well in the ring.”

    “Ring?” Tendi blinked as she was restrained.

    “We have spent over five years training and familiarizing ourselves with all Alpha Quadrant species who are enemies of the Dominion,” Lipura’klan indicated Rutherford. “But we have never trained against a living opponent until now.”

    “What?!” Rutherford yelped. “Wait! I don’t wanna fight! I’m an engineer, not a commando!”

    “We shall see,” Lipura’klan said heading for the door.

    “Oh no you don’t!” Mariner lunged at him only to be held back by Lipura’klan’s men. “You wanna throw down against a real opponent, pal? I’ll tangle with ya!”

    “Your time will come,” Lipura’klan promised sparing Rutherford a look. “After we are done with him.”

    “Uh, you don’t have to do that,” Rutherford gulped. “I don’t mind waiting a few days or a few years. There’s really no rush!”

    “Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to train,” Tendi suggested. “Like against holograms or studying gross anatomy.”

    “So much for the vaunted martial reputation of the Jem’Hadar,” Mariner taunted. “You don’t mind beating up weak addle-minded engineers, but you start quaking in your boots when faced against a real fighter!”

    “Yeah!” Rutherford cheered. “Wait a minute…hey!”

    “You wish to exchange places with your companion?” Lipura’klan stared at Mariner a moment. “Very well. Bring her.”

    “If you insist,” Mariner quipped as Rutherford was placed back into the containment circle with Tendi. “Don’t worry, guys. I got this.”

    “I hope so,” Tendi fretted as the force fields were reactivated and Mariner was led away. Three Jem’Hadar guards remained. “Be careful!”

    “Don’t worry. This is Mariner we’re talking about,” Rutherford attempted to cheer Tendi up. “How reckless and irresponsible could she be?”

    --------------------------------------

    “Stop! You don’t have to do this!” Boimler protested as he was led into a plain, sparsely furnished office dominated by a large computer desk, wall-mounted monitor screen and chair. “Torture is a notoriously unreliable way of gaining information! None of this is necessary!”

    “Oh, please. Stop whining,” Valiawen tsked as the Jem’Hadar securely bound Boimler to the chair positioned behind the desk. “No one is going to torture you here. We aren’t barbarians.”

    “Really?” Boimler blinked. “You’re not going to use drugs or needles or mind scanners or anything?”

    “Of course not,” Valiawen waved dismissing the Jem’Hadar. “We’re just going to talk.”

    “Oh. Well, that’s not so bad,” Boimler sighed in relief. “But why drag me in here?”

    “To help put you at ease. I figured you’d be more comfortable discussing things in my private quarters than in some public detention area,” Valiawen smiled disarmingly. “I prefer to conduct interrogations in a more…intimate setting.”

    “Huh?” Boimler blinked, surprised. He noticed a simple bed wedged in a corner. “Your private quarters?”

    “Of course. Unlike the Jem’Hadar, Vorta do need to eat and sleep,” Valiawen explained patting the mattress. “Among other activities.”

    “Eh?” Boimler twitched gaping at the bed.

    “You have no idea what’s it like to go this long without satisfying intrinsic, biological yearnings and desires,” Valiawen said wistfully. “I’d do almost anything to have a functioning epidermal ablution module and modern personal waste disposal unit.”

    “Oh, that’s what you were referring to,” Boimler blushed. “Not other common biological urges…”

    “Would you like something to eat?” Valiawen moved towards what appeared to be a salvaged Federation food replicator standing along one wall. “Perhaps a refreshing drink?”

    “No, no thanks. I’m good,” Boimler declined.

    “Suit yourself,” Valiawen shrugged ordering a plate of bite-sized fruit and a glass of water. “I’ve enjoyed sampling the various cuisines stored in this unit’s limited Federation database. I couldn’t differentiate much in terms of their tastes, but the diverse selection of textures was quite interesting.”

    “That’s nice. Have you ever tried hazelnut- and frosting-filled churros?” Boimler suggested. “Crunchy, creamy and chewy all at the same time.”

    “Unfortunately, no. I’ll remember to do so at some point,” Valiawen smiled leaning against the desk as she ate. “I must admit, I’ve missed engaging in intelligent, civilized conversation these past several years. Jem’Hadar may be outstanding soldiers, but they are terrible raconteurs.”

    “Sounds like a certain writer or two I know,” Boimler muttered under his breath. “By the way, how did you and the Jem’Hadar get here? Why are you still here? And why haven’t you left?”

    “Those are excellent questions. I see Starfleet’s reputation for discovery is still intact, no matter how naïvely misguided it may be,” Valiawen smiled. “Perhaps if you answer my questions, I will reciprocate by answering some of yours. Now, what fresh news can you tell me about the war?”

    “We’ve already told you, the war is over,” Boimler repeated. “The Federation and Dominion are at peace. There’s no reason for you to detain us.”

    “Still attempting your feeble attempts at deception,” Valiawen shook her head. “How disappointing. You really are an amateur at this. But don’t worry. I’ll get what I want from you.” She pushed her plate aside and licked her lips while gazing at Boimler appraisingly. “One way or another.

    “Eeep!” Boimler gulped as Valiawen descended on him.

    --------------------------------------

    “Gotta say, this is quite the base you have here,” Mariner quipped as she was led down more uniformly gray corridors. “Love what you’ve done with the place. Who’s your interior decorator? Captain Matt Jefferies?”

    Lipura’klan and his remaining men ignored her as they entered a long, open room filled with over a dozen more Jem’Hadar sparring, checking equipment and cleaning weapons. All but one ignored the newcomers as they entered. “This is one of the prisoners?”

    “Yes,” Lipura’klan confirmed indicating Mariner. “Human female, Starfleet. She has been allowed to be used for training, as per the Vorta’s orders.”

    “The Vorta,” The other Jem’Hadar nodded studying Mariner for a moment. “Very well. Prepare her.”

    “Yes, First,” Lipura’klan nodded.

    “First?” Mariner blinked, confused. “I thought you were the First.”

    “I am First Lipura’klan of Squad Two,” Lipura’klan explained. “He is First Matana’son of Squad Six.”

    “So, you’re both the same rank?” Mariner asked.

    “No,” Lipura’klan corrected. “I command a squad. Matana’son commands a company. Therefore, he is my superior.”

    “But you just said he leads a squad,” Mariner frowned.

    “He leads both along with Platoon Four,” Lipura’klan stated. “As well as all the Jem’Hadar in the garrison.”

    “Okay,” Mariner nodded. “So, does that make you the Second?”

    “No, Second Katar’arax is the Second of Company One,” Lipura’klan explained. “He is also First of Platoon Three. Second Hatal’ahan is my Second.”

    “Wait, how can a guy be Second and First at the same time?” Mariner protested. “It makes no sense.”

    “It makes perfect sense,” Lipura’klan looked at her with mild disdain. “Rank is based on position, ability, and trust. It is the order of things.”

    “So where do you rank in the order of things?” Mariner gave him a look. “High or low?”

    “I am First of Squad Two, Third of Platoon Six and Ninth of Company One,” Lipura’klan replied.

    “Then who’s First?” Mariner asked in exasperation.

    “No, Matana’son is First,” Lipura’klan said. “There is no Jem’Hadar here named Who.”

    “Ugh, never mind,” Mariner groaned. “Let’s just quit this sad Abbott and Costello bit before my head explodes.”

    “Attention!” Matana’son announced standing in the middle of a ring-shaped fighting area marked by a makeshift string of lights and trio of unlit posts. “Today we train against a living adversary. Observe, analyze and remember for we will soon face her species in combat. The lessons you learn here will ensure Victory. Victory is life!”

    “Victory is life!” The assembled Jem’Hadar answered gathering around.

    “I wouldn’t count on that,” Mariner quipped punching a fist into her palm. “‘Cause you guys are about to receive a whooping dose of Mariner-style butt-kicking.”

    “Rules of the ring are simple: fight until you or your opponent yields or can no longer rise,” Lipura’klan quickly briefed Mariner. “If you fall to the floor, you must touch one of the three posts or forfeit the match.”

    “Yeah, yeah. I got it,” Mariner waved stepping into the ring and cracking her neck. She eyed the eager-looking Jem’Hadar across from her and took a fighting stance. “Enough yapping already. Let’s dance!”

    “Begin!” Matana’son declared stepping out of the ring right before Mariner and her opponent leapt at each other.
     
  4. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    I always most appreciate the meta-moments...

    Nuts as always - Thanks!! rbs
     
    ColdFusion180 likes this.
  5. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    Rants and Denial

    “Any luck?” Tendi asked quietly.

    “No,” Rutherford whispered back in disappointment. Both of them were sitting on the floor of the detention area. Stevens lay inside one of the other containment circles out cold. “My implant still can’t find the exact frequency of the Dominion force field emitters. And I can’t try modifying it to transmit a disruption pulse or interference signal without tools.”

    “Is there anything in the medkit we could use?” Tendi suggested. “You could pretend to be sick or I could ask the guards for permission to check on Commander Stevens.”

    “I doubt it,” Rutherford shook his head. “Not unless it’s equipped with an optronic coupler or a gravitic caliper…” He trailed off as the door to the detention area opened.

    “Oh my gosh,” Tendi paled as Lipura’klan and two other Jem’Hadar entered dragging a limp, heavily-beaten Mariner. “Mariner, are you okay?”

    “Come on. Is that all you got?” Mariner mumbled incoherently as the Jem’Hadar deactivated one of the force fields and unceremoniously dropped her into the same containment circle as Stevens. “My grandma hits harder than that.”

    “What did you do to her?” Rutherford gasped in horror.

    “The same we would have done to you had she not taken your place,” Lipura’klan informed him. “She fought well, lasting longer than I expected.”

    “Went four rounds,” Mariner slurred spitting out a mouthful of blood. “Won the first two before the chief Spinehead put in their ringers.”

    “Fifth Torak’ator was declared winner of the third match, but you insisted on fighting one more,” Lipura’klan gazed dispassionately at Mariner’s sprawled form. “Your performance was informative. We must analyze your use of Starfleet’s latest fighting styles. Until next time.”

    “Wait! You have to let me treat her!” Tendi pleaded. “She could be suffering from internal bleeding or have trauma-induced brain damage!”

    “No worries about that last one, T,” Mariner coughed. “I’m pretty sure my brain got knocked outta my head after that last haymaker. Be a good little medic and wash it off before popping the ol’ alcohol-deprived organ back in.”

    “Very well,” Lipura’klan lowered the other force field and indicated one of his men to hand Tendi the medkit.

    “Thank you,” Tendi quickly grabbed it and moved to Mariner’s side. “Stay still. Try not to talk.”

    “For once that sounds like a good idea,” Mariner blinked dazedly as Lipura’klan reactivated the force fields before leaving with two of his men. “So, what did I miss?”

    “Not much,” Rutherford sighed. “Tendi and I have just been sitting here worrying about you and Boimler who still hasn’t returned. He’s been gone for almost two hours.”

    “That’s nice…wait, what?!” Mariner yelped and struggled to sit up. “Oh man! Don’t worry, Boims! I’ll save ya!”

    “Mariner, stop!” Tendi held her down while frantically loading a hypospray. “You have three broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, multiple contusions and a bruised kidney. Lie down before you bleed out or fall into a coma!”

    “Ugh, fine,” Mariner groaned too weak to fight back. “But hurry with the medical magic. You gotta patch me up so we can save Boims. There’s no telling what unspeakable horrors and torments these Dominion bone-busters are submitting him to right now!”

    --------------------------------------

    “I tell you, there is nothing more boring than being the lone supervisor of a group of Jem’Hadar over a prolonged period of time,” Valiawen grumbled leaning against the desk. “Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy stability and order as much as the next Vorta, but having to endure this much unbroken monotony is enough to drive any intelligent, sentient lifeform insane!”

    “Uh huh,” Boimler replied still secured to the chair. Valiawen had made a thorough check of his ears for blockages and subdermal communicators before starting on her rant.

    “The Jem’Hadar don’t even like to play games!” Valiawen threw up her hands. “Unless you count conducting battle drills, having weapons practice or running training exercises. They won’t even play that silly kotra game most Cardassians seem to like so much. I would kill to play a game like that, but the remains of the main computer don’t have any recreational games on file.”

    “I see,” Boimler felt his eyes glaze over.

    “So, you can guess where that leaves me,” Valiawen went on ignorant of Boimler’s growing obliviousness. “Making the same rounds, checking the same systems, reading the same outdated war reports I’ve read a million times already. It is so frustrating! I can’t even expand my knowledge of engineering principles or advanced computer systems. You would think a supply depot operating relatively close to the front lines would have at least one technical or scientific manual lying around someplace.”

    “Huh?” Boimler blinked snapping out of his daze. “Supply depot?”

    “That’s correct,” Valiawen confirmed absently. “This is Supply Depot Two Seven Six. It was built and designed as a secret weapons, equipment and ketracel-white depot hidden within what you call the Tibor nebula.”

    “Huh, that explains why Starfleet never discovered it,” Boimler remarked finally showing some interest. “Our shuttlecraft didn’t detect this depot either with it having been built among a network of kelbonite-laced lava tubes at the base of an extinct volcano.”

    “The depot is capable of storing enough white, weapons and equipment to supply thousands of Jem’Hadar stationed aboard an entire fleet of Dominion ships for two or three months,” Valiawen went on. “Granted, the depot’s white stores weren’t at full capacity when we lost all communications, but they’ve been more than enough for our needs these past few years. Sometimes I think that’s all the Jem’Hadar see me as; a living ketracel-white allocator. We’ve never been under attack so there are no combat reports to fill out. All I do is sit around and dispense white nine vials at a time, ten times a cycle.”

    “There are ninety Jem’Hadar on this planet?” Boimler blanched in horror.

    “Ninety-three Alpha Jem’Hadar to be exact,” Valiawen corrected. “The original garrison was two hundred forty-three, but over half were lost when the sudden Level Eight earthquake hit which destroyed the depot’s command center along with our communication systems, transporters, sensors, air recyclers and lone hangar bay.”

    “You survived an earthquake while underground?” Boimler gasped.

    “Barely,” Valiawen distantly looked off to the side. “I was in the Jem’Hadar’s third barracks block issuing their regular allocation of white when the earthquake hit. Most of the ceiling caved in burying me and eight-one soldiers of the Dominion. Only thirty-six of us managed to eventually dig ourselves out.”

    “My gosh,” Boimler turned pale.

    “I was the only Vorta to survive. All the others were killed when the command center collapsed or died later due to their various injuries,” Valiawen said softly. “But I and the remaining Jem’Hadar were fortunate. The depot’s other barracks blocks, fusion reactors and storage bays were undamaged. Most importantly so were most of our supplies of white and equipment.”

    “I’m sorry for your loss,” Boimler said quietly. “That must have been incredibly tough. Uh, are you sure you’re supposed to be sharing this information with me?”

    “Technically I suppose not, but like I said I’ve missed engaging in intelligent conversation,” Valiawen shrugged. “And it’s very nice to be able to rant to someone about my troubles.”

    “I know the feeling,” Boimler sympathized.

    “Anyway, we salvaged what we could, built new passageways to the surface and managed to construct a basic encrypted communication beacon,” Valiawen finished her tale. “But the resulting signal is so weak it barely penetrates the planet’s atmosphere. We have been on our own here ever since, suffering the occasional loss due to rockslides, accidents, fire storms, other sudden lower-level earthquakes, etc.”

    “So the Dominion just abandoned you all here?” Boimler winced. “Ouch, that’s harsh.”

    “We were not abandoned,” Valiawen asserted fervently. “The Founders would never do that. The Dominion will contact us eventually. It is only a matter of time.”

    “Well, maybe,” Boimler coughed while shaking his head in amazement. “Either way, it’s still quite a story. I can’t imagine what it must have been like surviving this long cut off from the rest of the galaxy after losing nearly two-thirds of the men under your command.”

    “Actually, I was not the original commander of the depot,” Valiawen admitted somewhat uncomfortably. “In fact, I was the lowest ranking Vorta stationed here. My duties mostly consisted of white allocation and keeping supply manifests up to date.”

    “Huh, so you were basically a member of the Dominion version of Lower Decks,” Boimler realized. “Just like me.”

    “Lower Decks,” Valiawen rolled the unfamiliar term around her mouth. “What a quaint designation. What exactly does a member of Starfleet’s ‘Lower Decks’ like you do?”

    “Oh, you know. A lot of stuff,” Boimler shrugged. “Repair things, run errands, do grunt work and the like. And of course, filling out lots of paperwork which Starfleet and the rest of the known bureaucratic universe runs on.”

    “Really? Sounds tedious,” Valiawen commented. “Personally, I find cataloging inventory and maintaining multiple requisition records quite confusing, despite the Founders blessing the Vorta with our natural proclivity for administrative duties. I’m sure you’ve felt the same at some point.”

    “Na, it’s just a matter of staying organized and recordkeeping and scheduling around all the various stardates and…” Boimler blinked trailing off for a moment. “Wait a minute. What was the stardate when your communication systems were destroyed?”

    “I’m afraid I am a bit out of practice familiarizing myself with the Federation calendar system,” Valiawen consulted her padd. “Just a moment…ah, there we are. It was around stardate 52862, more or less.”

    “52862,” Boimler muttered recalling his History lessons. “That was about the time the Dominion withdrew from Federation, Klingon and Romulan space to a compact defensive perimeter near the end of the war. You must have missed receiving the order to evacuate and fall back.” His eyes widened in realization. “Of course! The Dominion must have presumed this depot had been either destroyed or discovered by Starfleet. That’s why they never came back for you!”

    “Impossible,” Valiawen scoffed. “An order like that would have confirmed delivery by having the Vorta on duty issue a receipt. If no receipt was sent the ships we had been supplying would have investigated our lack of communication, detected the survivors and evacuated us.”

    “Not if a receipt had been sent immediately before the earthquake hit,” Boimler pressed expanding his theory. “Before the Vorta on duty could announce an evacuation or warn everyone about the earthquake.”

    “No, that could never happen,” Valiawen insisted. “Such a string of events is highly improbable.”

    “But not impossible,” Boimler pointed out. “You have to admit the evidence fits.”

    “No it doesn’t because your so-called ‘evidence’ is weak and circumstantial at best,” Valiawen declared. “And even if it were true, it would not change the fact that the Dominion is still at war with the Federation since the Dominion has never and will never lose a war.”

    “But it did lose the war. Everyone in the Alpha, Gamma and a good part of the Beta quadrant knows that,” Boimler said understandingly. “You said so yourself you’ve been here isolated and alone for five years without any contact with the outside galaxy. Isn’t it possible everything I and my fellow crewmates have told you is true?”

    “No. It’s not. It can’t,” Valiawen stated with her voice tinged with just the slightly bit of uncertainty. “The Dominion will prevail. The Founders have declared it so. They will come for us. They must!”

    “The Dominion isn’t coming. They don’t even know you’re alive,” Boimler regarded her with sympathy. “But our ship will be back in a few days. When they get here I’ll explain the whole situation and our captain will find a way to return you all back to Dominion space in the Gamma Quadrant…”

    “No. That will not happen,” Valiawen began to pace around turning even paler than usual. “I will not surrender to the Federation as a prisoner of war. Not after enduring all this. I will trigger my termination implant before betraying the Founders and the Dominion.”

    “You won’t be taken prisoner and you won’t be betraying anyone,” Boimler attempted to reason with her. “You and your men have gone way beyond the call of duty, serving long after the war you were sent to fight has ended. You’ve served the Dominion…the Founders honorably and faithfully. It’s time for you all to go home.”

    “I don’t think so,” Valiawen stared at Boimler cautiously. “You claim the war is over. Do you have proof of this?”

    “Well, not with me,” Boimler admitted. “But my friends will all say the same thing. And there must be some mention of it in our shuttlecraft’s computer…”

    “Computer records can be faked,” Valiawen’s eyes narrowed in thought. “I think this is all a trick. An elaborate deception so Starfleet can capture more prisoners for interrogation and collect a treasure trove of Dominion technology for analysis.”

    “It’s not a trick. We came here to conduct a planetary survey. We didn’t even know you were here,” Boimler insisted. “If we did do you really think Starfleet would send a single shuttlecraft to a secret, garrisoned Dominion supply depot crewed mostly by ensigns?”

    “Yes. It’s all part of the deception,” Valiawen insisted. “No one would believe Starfleet would be that stupid and naïve. It’s so ridiculous any reasonably intelligent person would presume your cover story would have to be true. And if we saw through your deception and killed you all it would be no great loss.”

    “Yes it would!” Boimler protested. “Okay, maybe not Commander Stevens…”

    “I must applaud your dedicated attempts at obfuscation, but I’m afraid your efforts are for naught,” Valiawen said accessing a computer terminal. “Starfleet will never control this depot. I will see to that.”

    “Uh, how?” Boimler asked.

    “With these,” Valiawen worked the terminal. The wall monitor screen activated showing half a dozen roughly cylindrical subterranean chambers each containing a tall, sleek object about the size of a runabout’s warp nacelle.

    “Are those…?” Boimler gasped in shock.

    “Yes,” Valiawen confirmed. “Six variable-range tactical missiles armed with ninety isoton warheads.”

    “But…but how did you…?” Boimler was stunned.

    “Did you really think we’ve been sitting here completely idle for the past five years?” Valiawen gave him a look. “I ordered the construction of these missiles three months after communications were lost in case of discovery. They can be used against ships, planets or the depot itself as a last resort self-destruct measure. We constructed them from the surviving stores of weapons, equipment and the depot’s salvaged anti-ship weapons batteries. All of the later were destroyed during the earthquake. I admit the missiles themselves are somewhat crude, but they should do the job.”

    “What?! Are you insane?” Boimler’s eyes bulged. “What am I saying?”

    “It’s clear Starfleet has discovered us,” Valiawen ignored Boimler while tapping at the controls. “Unfortunately, the missiles’ navigation sensors are severely limited, but they should be enough to target your ship along with any others which appear in orbit.”

    “No!” Boimler yelled. “You can’t do that!”

    “Yes I can,” Valiawen stated studying the screen. “And I can also launch three or four missiles to target the nearest, major strategic Federation planet. Ah, that would be Tellar. A bit on the long side, but still within acceptable striking range.”

    “No,” Boimler blanched in horror. “You can’t! You wouldn’t! The missiles will fail! Starfleet will intercept and shoot them down! Oh man, I sound like a bad extra in a cheesy, third-rate holonovel!”

    “Possibly,” Valiawen allowed. “But the missiles have been mounted with captured Class-Five Klingon cloaking devices salvaged from destroyed ships other Dominion vessels had collected and dropped off here before we lost all communications. We had been waiting to send them back to Cardassia Prime for analysis. The cloaking devices should increase the chances of at least one of the missiles getting through. And it will signal the Dominion that we are still alive. At least for the time being.”

    “But the war is over! It has been for a long time!” Boimler desperately attempted to convince her. “You’d be killing thousands if not millions of innocent people for nothing!”

    “The depot has been discovered and our capture is most certainly imminent,” Valiawen concluded steeling herself before turning to face him. “It is our duty to inflict as much damage against the Dominion’s enemies before then. Our deaths will be glory to the Founders. As will yours.”

    “Oh no,” Boimler gulped as the full weight of the situation weighed upon him. “I knew we’d been hit with the typical Starfleet luck the second after finding out we’d landed within walking distance of an old Dominion base. Unfortunately, luck for us Lower Decks always turns out to be bad!”
     
    Robert Bruce Scott likes this.
  6. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    You've got the makings of a classic STLD episode here! Thanks!! rbs
     
    ColdFusion180 likes this.
  7. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    Shuttlecraft in Motion

    “How’s Mariner?” Rutherford asked pacing around his containment circle.

    “She’s stable. For now,” Tendi sighed running the medical tricorder over Mariner’s unconscious form. “I used the bone regenerator to knit together her broken ribs and managed to repair the tissue damage to her right kidney. She’s stopped hemorrhaging and I injected her with half a liter of plasma. I’m just glad she finally passed out before I performed the microsurgery.”

    “The light sedative you gave her probably helped,” Rutherford commented. “What about Stevens?”

    “He’s stable too,” Tendi checked him worriedly. “I’ve done all I can with the medkit. What they both need is immediate treatment in the Cerritos’ Sickbay.”

    “Hey, relax. You’ve done a great job,” Rutherford assured her. “It’s a heck of a lot more than I’ve been able to do. I bet Doctor T’Ana will be really proud of you when we get back to the ship.”

    “If we get back,” Tendi gulped putting her tools back into the medkit.

    Lipura’klan and two other Jem’Hadar suddenly entered the detention area. Lipura’klan deactivated the force field holding the three Starfleet officers before indicating Tendi. “Bring her.”

    “Huh?” Tendi blinked as a pair of Jem’Hadar grabbed her and relieved her of the medkit. “Ow! That hurts!”

    “Hey, what are you doing?” Rutherford yelped. “Where are you taking her?”

    “That is not your concern,” Lipura’klan said reactivating the force field.

    “Don’t worry, Rutherford. I’ll be alright!” Tendi called out as Lipura’klan and his men led her away. “Take care of Mariner and Stevens for me!”

    “Okey-dokey,” Rutherford sighed dejectedly slumping to floor.

    --------------------------------------

    The medical officer has been released. We are bringing her to the outside of Entrance One,” Lipura’klan reported.

    “Excellent,” Valiawen said standing in her office. “Deliver her to Squad Three. They will rendezvous with you there.” She tapped the communicator on her wrist. “Valiawen to Squad Three. Report.”

    We’ve completed our inspection of the Starfleet shuttlecraft,” The implacable voice of a Jem’Hadar replied. “No sabotage or other preemptive security measures found. All associated Starfleet equipment has been cataloged, loaded and secured. We are in the process of familiarizing ourselves with the shuttlecraft’s systems.

    “Are you capable of piloting the shuttlecraft?” Valiawen asked.

    Yes, on a rudimentary level,” The Jem’Hadar stated. “No members of Squad Three have received prior training as pilots.

    “That’s not surprising, but it should be sufficient. Bring the shuttlecraft to Entrance One. There should be sufficient clear space around it for you to land there,” Valiawen ordered. “Squad Two will be waiting for you with one of the Starfleet prisoners. Take custody of her and use her to pilot the shuttlecraft into low orbit. Determine the limits of our communication range and the presence of any enemy ships.”

    Understood,” The Jem’Hadar acknowledged. “Recommend we first use the shuttlecraft to scan the planet to determine if there are any other hostile personnel on the surface while testing the prisoner’s competency and level of cooperation.”

    “Very well,” Valiawen allowed. “Squad Eight will be reassigned to take over your patrol sector. Report when you are ready to take the shuttlecraft into orbit.”

    Understood. It will be done,” The Jem’Hadar declared ending communications.

    “Of course it will,” Valiawen said turning to Boimler who was still secured to the chair. “Now we’ll see just how much of what you’ve told me is accurate.”

    “Wait, you’re sending Tendi to pilot our shuttlecraft?” Boimler gawked having listened to the entire set of conversations.

    “That’s correct,” Valiawen studied him a moment. “Is that a problem?”

    “No, no. Not at all,” Boimler whistled innocently. “At least not for me. The Jem’Hadar on the other hand…”

    --------------------------------------

    “Okay, I can do this,” Tendi told herself as the Alcatraz landed outside a different rocky cavern mouth before lowering the rear hatch. She timidly waved at the squad of six Jem’Hadar crammed inside the shuttlecraft. “Hi, everyone. I’m Tendi.”

    “I am First Vorax’aval,” The leader of the Jem’Hadar in the shuttlecraft stated. He turned to address Lipura’klan and his men standing next to Tendi. “I am assuming custody of the prisoner. Your duties here are complete.”

    “Understood,” Lipura’klan turned and reentered the entrance to the secret Dominion depot with his men.

    “Take the pilot’s seat,” Vorax’aval ordered Tendi. “Any attempts at deception, escape or deviation from orders will be met with death.”

    “Right. Whatever you say,” Tendi gulped carefully squeezing her way past the stacks of cargo containers and standing Jem’Hadar. “Sorry! Just trying to get by here. Oooo, nice ketracel-white shunt.”

    “Enough,” Vorax’aval stood behind Tendi as she slid into the port pilot’s seat. “Engage engines.”

    “Okay,” Tendi nodded working the controls.

    “Begin scanning the planet for Federation lifesigns or any Starfleet identification signals…aaahhhhhh!” Vorax’aval yelled as the Alcatraz rose a few meters before tearing off across the landscape.

    “Ooopfff!” All of the Jem’Hadar were knocked off their feet and slammed against the rear of the shuttlecraft along with the various cargo containers.

    “Bet this is your first time aboard a Starfleet shuttlecraft, huh?” Tendi asked as they zoomed over the craggy jungle. “So, let’s get this scan started.”

    “Stop the shuttlecraft!” Vorax’aval roared while attempting to disentangle himself from his men and fallen array of cargo containers. “Cease piloting and step away from the controls immediately!”

    “Sorry, can’t do that,” Tendi said. “It’s against Starfleet safety regulations and will delay our scans of the planet. But I’m working as fast as I can. I’m diverting all available power to the sensors and engines. Including most of the power for the inertial dampers and the shuttlecraft’s internal gravity net.”

    “What…yaaahhhhhh!” Vorax’aval and his men cried plastered to the rear hatch as the shuttlecraft made a sharp inclination to the right.

    “Hmmm, no additional Starfleet combadge signals yet,” Tendi reported flying dangerously close and parallel to a long, craggy mountain range. “Of course, most of the sensor readings are being blocked due to all the veins of kelbonite in the area. Guess we’ll just have to get closer.”

    “Closer? What do you mean closer…WAAAHHHHHHHHH!” Vorax’aval screamed as the shuttlecraft rocketed towards the ground before shooting into a long, narrow canyon.

    “Wheeeeee!” Tendi smiled as the shuttlecraft whizzed though the deep, winding canyon at literal breakneck speed. “This is fun! Hey, this reminds me of an old Earth movie Rutherford and I watched once.”

    “Aaaggghhhhhh!” The Jem’Hadar blanched as parts of the Alcatraz’s hull scraped against the canyon walls.

    “There. I figured that would work,” Tendi beamed having the shuttlecraft perform a ninety-degree roll while zipping out from the canyon. “Got lots of sensor readings on that run. Everyone comfortable back there?” She turned around to look.

    “No!” Vorax’aval yelled while vainly attempting to raise his pistol. “Comfort is only for the weak…WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING! LOOK OUT! LOOK OUT!”

    “Huh?” Tendi turned back around to see a very large mountain rapidly fill the fore viewport. “Oops!”

    “AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” The Jem’Hadar screamed as Tendi pulled back on the controls and sent the shuttlecraft soaring straight up the mountainside.

    “Oooo, what a rush,” Tendi chirped as they broke into the stratosphere. “Hey, a meteor shower. Cool!”

    “Gaaahhhhhh!” Vorax’aval and his men wailed as the hull was dented in several places.

    “Don’t worry. I got this,” Tendi waved weaving in and out among the falling meteors. “There, all clear.”

    “Thank the Founders,” One of the Jem’Hadar muttered.

    “But we can’t get any definite planetary readings from up here,” Tendi noted. “Guess we’ll just have to go back down.”

    “WHA?! NO…WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” Vorax’aval and his men shrieked as the shuttlecraft immediately did a quick 180 before plummeting like a thruster-propelled rock.

    “PULL UP! PULL UP!” One uncharacteristically panicked Jem’Hadar wailed.

    “Relax, I know what I’m doing,” Tendi waved. “I think…”

    “You think?!” Vorax’aval screamed.

    “Ta-da!” Tendi grinned leveling off just before the shuttlecraft impacted the planet surface. “See? Nothing to worry about.”

    “I beg to differ!” One of the Jem’Hadar groaned.

    “Now that series of Level Five electrical storms up ahead. That’s something to worry about,” Tendi checked the sensors.

    “WHAT?!” The Jem’Hadar shouted.

    KKKRRRAAA-BOOOOOOOOOMMM!

    “YAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” Vorax’aval yelled as massive bolts of lightning streaked around the shuttlecraft like starship-level phaser blasts.

    “Don’t worry, everyone,” Tendi struggled to be heard over the deafening booms of lightning bursts. “I’m raising shields. They should protect us. I hope…”

    “Jem’Hadar don’t believe in hope,” One of Vorax’aval’s men began to twitch. “But if we did, now would be a good time!”

    “Wow, these lightning storms cover nearly an eighth of the planet’s southern hemisphere,” Tendi noted studying the sensors. “Sorry about the delay getting us clear of them, but I had to divert power to the shields from the engines, thus slowing our speed.”

    “Thank the Founders,” Vorax’aval moaned.

    “We’ll be breaking through the electrical storms right about now,” Tendi continued as the shuttlecraft sailed over the largest of the planet’s oceans. “And right into a Level Seven quasi-plasmidic cyclone.”

    “Level seven what…AAAUUUGGGHHHHHH!” The Jem’Hadar screamed as the shuttlecraft began to buck and spin around like a centrifuge.

    “Boy, this planet sure experiences some interesting weather phenomena,” Tendi commented casually. “Must be from all the atmospheric ionization and high energy particle emissions Commander Stevens mentioned. Things are still clear near your secret base though. Bet you’re all glad to hear that.”

    “Not nearly as much as we’d be if we were there right now!” Vorax’aval cried. “Specifically on the surface and out of this infernal shuttlecraft!”

    “Looks like the cyclonic front extends for quite a ways,” Tendi studied the sensors. “Oh well, that leaves only one option left.”

    “If we’re fortunate you are referring to death…YAAAHHHHHH!” The Jem’Hadar cried as the shuttlecraft nosed downward before rocketing straight into the ocean.

    PLOOOOOOSSSHHH!

    “See? All safe now,” Tendi said cheerfully diving deep. “The shields and reinforced structural integrity field prevented the shuttlecraft’s nose from completely crumpling upon impact. Gee, I didn’t know shuttlecraft were capable of submersion. This is so cool!”

    “You took us underwater?!” Vorax’aval cried. “Are you insane?!”

    “Boy, this must be what being a cetacean feels like,” Tendi chirped happily while having the shuttlecraft spin around like a corkscrew. “There are several cetaceans aboard the Cerritos you know. I can’t wait to tell them all about this! Wheeeeee!”

    “First, I don’t feel so good,” One Jem’Hadar turned even greener than Tendi.

    “If my digestive system were active I would have emptied its contents long ago!” Another Jem’Hadar whimpered.

    “Ah, look at all the deep lava blooms,” Tendi marveled shooting through a field of billowing hydrothermal vents. “There must be some major tectonic activity on this planet. Oooo, and there are underwater lava geysers too! So bubbly, so pretty…”

    WHOOOOOOSSSHHH!

    “So hot and deadly if one of them hits us and cooks us all to a crisp,” Tendi as the field of geysers began to erupt.

    “WHAT?!” The Jem’Hadar yelled.

    “Don’t worry everyone. The Alcatraz is equipped with metaphasic shielding,” Tendi assured weaving in and out amongst the lava plumes. “They should protect us. Although they were designed to handle the half Pascal of pressure of a star’s corona and not the thirty-six megapascals we’re under right now…”

    “Oh no…” Vorax’aval gulped.

    BRRROOOOOOWWWSSSHHHHHH!

    “YAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” The Jem’Hadar screamed as the shuttlecraft was tossed about by jets of superheated water, bubbles and lava.

    “Okay, all done scanning down here,” Tendi reported. “Let’s head back to the surface.”

    “Finally…GAAAHHHHHH!” Vorax’aval yelled as the Alcatraz flew upwards like a missile.

    “Wahooo!” Tendi laughed maniacally sending the shuttlecraft spinning along its longitudinal axis. “I love being in Starfleet! I can’t wait until I finish logging all my required flight hours and become a fully certified pilot!”

    “More like certifiable!” One poor Jem’Hadar moaned.

    “There, all clear of the storms,” Tendi beamed as the shuttlecraft finally broke the surface of the water and flew into the troposphere once more. “Look at the pretty clouds. Oooo, there’s something I’ve always wanted to try!”

    “Oh no…GAAAHHHHHH!” Vorax’aval wailed as Tendi abruptly sent them into a seemingly bizarre series of aerial maneuvers.

    “Are you flying this shuttlecraft upside-down?!” One Jem’Hadar shrieked in horror.

    “Are you performing barrel-rolls?!” A second terrified Jem’Hadar screamed.

    “I think we are going backwards!” A third Jem’Hadar began to sweat in fear. “Again!”

    “Hehehehehe!” Tendi giggled glancing at a screen. A series of vapor trails spelling out the name ‘D’Vana Tendi’ in an elegant, signature-like script stretched across the skies. “This is so cool! Can you believe this is my first time piloting inside a planetary atmosphere?”

    “This is not piloting,” Vorax’aval hissed with one eye twitching like mad. “It is cruel, pitiless psychological torture!”

    “Even the Cardassians treat their prisoners better than this!” A nearly white-faced Jem’Hadar cried.

    “Founders save us!” The rest of the Jem’Hadar wept.

    “Seeing all those underwater volcanos and lava vents was so neat,” Tendi grinned altering the shuttlecraft’s course. “Let’s see what the inside of the above water ones are like.”

    “WHAT?!” Vorax’aval and his men shrieked as the shuttlecraft zoomed towards a towering, active chain of volcanoes. “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

    --------------------------------------

    We have begun fueling the missiles,” First Matana’son reported over Valiawen’s wrist communicator. “Estimated completion time ten minutes.

    “Excellent,” Valiawen said bringing up the missile control panel on one of her office computer screens. “Begin running final diagnostic checks on all missile systems. I will enter the preliminary arming sequence once they are complete.”

    Understood,” Matana’son acknowledged dispassionately and signed off.

    “Please! You have to listen to me!” Boimler pleaded straining at his restraints. “The war is over! What you’re doing is not sanctioned by the Founders! They wouldn’t want you to do this!”

    “Be quiet,” Valiawen glared at him warningly. “Do not try to presume the minds or intentions of gods. Such impertinence is considered very…unwise.”

    “Isn’t that what you’re doing? Trying to presume what the Founders want?” Boimler pressed. “You haven’t received any orders to launch an attack. Or to blow yourselves up. You’re the one trying to be the god around here, not me.”

    “I am not a god. I am a loyal servant of the Founders,” Valiawen declared. “The Founders and the Dominion are at war with the Federation. I live to serve the Founders and work to defeat their enemies. It is the order of things.”

    “But we aren’t enemies anymore. We haven’t been for years,” Boimler insisted. “Check with the shuttlecraft. There’s no fleet of ships in orbit ready to raid or seize this depot. Use the shuttlecraft’s comm system to contact the nearest neutral party to confirm everything I’m telling you.”

    “The Tibor nebula is virtually impenetrable to Federation sensors and communication signals, but not to the Dominion’s,” Valiawen said. “That is the primary reason the Founders chose this planet as the location for a supply depot. We will however use your shuttlecraft to eventually reestablish communications with the Dominion. If there are no Starfleet vessels in orbit.”

    “But there are no Dominion forces left in the Alpha Quadrant,” Boimler pointed out. “Unless there are any more secret supply depots or bases they didn’t tell us about.”

    “We’ll see,” Valiawen replied cryptically. “But you have given me an idea. We can use your shuttlecraft’s stellar cartographical database to provide more detailed information about the missiles’ planned course and use the shuttlecraft’s limited sensors to better triangulate the missiles’ guidance systems before launch.”

    Valiawen smiled and tapped her communicator. “Valiawen to Squad Three.” Her words were meet by an unexpected silence. “Squad Three, report.” More silence. “Anyone aboard the Starfleet shuttlecraft, respond.” Still no reply. “Valiawen to Squad Two, have you heard from Squad Three?”

    Not since they took custody of the Starfleet prisoner,” Lipura’klan answered.

    “What?” Valiawen frowned. “Very well. Inform me if you receive any future information about Squad Three.”

    Understood,” Lipura’klan replied.

    “The prisoner,” Valiawen repeated closing the channel. “She must have done something to incapacitate the squad of Jem’Hadar guarding her.” She turned to face Boimler. “How? What did she do?”

    “I don’t know,” Boimler shrugged. “Though I can make a pretty good guess…”

    “You’ll do more than guess,” Valiawen hissed taking out a deadly-looking Jem’Hadar combat knife. “You will tell me everything about your shuttlecraft and underestimated little medical officer. Right now.”

    “Oh no,” Boimler gulped. “And to think I used to want to go on away missions!”
     
  8. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Tendi's pretty amazing if she has the jem'hadar begging...

    Classic STLD zaniness without relieving the tension - nicely done! rbs
     
    ColdFusion180 likes this.
  9. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I only go on away missions when I lose a bet.
     
  10. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    The Not-So-Great Escape

    “Come on, come on,” Rutherford whispered to himself while poking at his implant. “Yes.” He grinned seeing the desired frequency reading finally show up on his optic display. Rutherford subtly tore off a sliver from one of his fingernails and tried casually tossing it outside the containment circle only for it to be vaporized by the force field. “Aw, man.”

    “Ohhh, what happened?” Mariner groaned slowly fluttering open her eyes. “Ugh, this is the third worst hangover I’ve ever had.”

    “Mariner! You’re awake!” Rutherford smiled happily.

    “Shhh, not so loud. You’re hurting my brain,” Mariner moaned sluggishly sitting up. She noticed Stevens’ unconscious form lying next to her. “Eh, I’ve woken up next to worse.”

    “You received quite a beating from being forced to fight the Jem’Hadar,” Rutherford reminded. “Tendi patched you up as best she could. How are you feeling?”

    “Like I just got back from a week-long shore leave on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet and not in a fun way,” Mariner winced. “Where is Tendi anyway? I could sure go for some more of those sweet, mind-numbing painkillers right about now.”

    “The Jem’Hadar took her away over half an hour ago,” Rutherford looked very worried. “Boimler’s still gone too. I don’t know what’s happened to them.”

    “What?” Mariner yelped spinning towards him before holding her head in pain. “Ugh, okay. Stay calm. Boims and Tendi are tough. They’ll be alright. Oh, what am I saying? They’re doomed!”

    “Oh no!” Rutherford cried leaping to his feet. “Tendi! Boimler! Where are you?”

    “Quiet,” One of the three Jem’Hadar guards fixed him with a look. “Or you will receive punishment…” The door to the detention area suddenly opened without anyone coming through. The guards turned and cautiously raised their weapons.

    “What’s going on?” Mariner whispered to Rutherford. “See anything?”

    “Nope,” Rutherford replied quietly as one of the Jem’Hadar stepped to the door and cautiously checked the corridor.

    “The corridor is empty,” The guard stated stepping back into the room.

    “Must be a malfunction,” Another Jem’Hadar snorted lowering his weapon. “Better report it.”

    “Agreed,” The first Jem’Hadar nodded and attempted to activate his communicator. “Sixth Radek’ekan to…heh…to…” He started to chuckle. “Sixth Radek…ha, ha, ha!”

    “Uh, what’s going on?” Rutherford blinked as the other guards began to chortle before breaking out into full-throated guffaws.

    “I dunno, but I really hope they stop,” Mariner gulped as the three Jem’Hadar proceeded to laugh and giggle uncontrollably. “Dude, this is seriously creeping me out!”

    “Hi guys!” Tendi smiled entering the room wearing a breathing mask and carrying a large, loaded supply pack.

    “Tendi!” Rutherford gasped in delight. “You’re alive!”

    “Of course I’m alive,” Tendi said quickly pressing a hypospray into each of the hysterical Jem’Hadar. They immediately collapsed to the floor. “Are you two able to move?”

    “You bet we are,” Mariner said getting to her feet. “Hurry up and get us outta these things.”

    “Right,” Tendi unslung her pack and pulled out more breathing masks. “Hold your breath and put these on once I deactivate the force fields.”

    “Okey-dokey,” Rutherford nodded. “But what are they for? And what happened to you?”

    “Oh, I was brought to the Alcatraz and forced to fly a squad of Jem’Hadar around while scanning for additional Starfleet signatures,” Tendi explained as she managed to lower the containment circles’ force fields. “Didn’t find any unfortunately.”

    “The Jem’Hadar had you pilot the shuttle?” Mariner gawked in shock after she and Rutherford quickly slipped on their masks. “Did they have a death wish or something?”

    “Not at first, but they all did seem to be praying for death near the end,” Tendi shrugged placing a breathing mask on Stevens. “That is before they all apparently passed out from fear. Can you imagine that?”

    “If it was anyone else piloting the shuttle, no,” Mariner told her. “With you, absolutely!”

    “Anyway, once I realized they were all completely incapacitated I shot them full of sedatives from the Alcatraz’s remaining medical supplies,” Tendi went on. “Then I flew the shuttlecraft into high orbit and launched a distress beacon.”

    “Good idea,” Rutherford nodded. “But why didn’t you fly and alert the Cerritos yourself?”

    “Yeah, with the way you fly you could’ve rendezvoused with them in five minutes,” Mariner quipped. “Ten tops.”

    “And leave the rest of you guys behind? Never!” Tendi determinedly shook her head. “I landed the shuttlecraft outside one of the entrances and quickly made my way back in.”

    “You fought your way through an entire base full of Jem’Hadar just to rescue us?” Mariner was stunned.

    “Not exactly,” Tendi whistled. “Before I landed, I tried scanning the area as best I could and found a large pocket of pure nitrous oxide running parallel to one of the extinct lava tubes. So, I used a few phasers to reach the pocket and have it leak into the base to help neutralize any Jem’Hadar.”

    “Wait a second,” Rutheford did a take. “You’re saying you flooded the entire base with a bunch of concentrated laughing gas?”

    “Well, I wouldn’t say the entire base,” Tendi corrected. “There might be a few isolated rooms that will remain unaffected, but the gas seems to work pretty well. All the Jem’Hadar I ran into were busy laughing their heads off. I didn’t know Jem’Hadar could laugh.”

    “I wish I didn’t,” Mariner shuddered. “That image alone is enough to give me nightmares for years.”

    “Anyway, I hypoed all the laughing Jem’Hadar I encountered with sedatives for when the nitrous oxide wore off,” Tendi finished. “I wasn’t sure the gas would succeed in spreading through the entire base and its effects will probably be wearing off soon.”

    “Then it’s past time we got ourselves outta here,” Mariner declared. “Hand me a phaser will ya? I got a few scores to settle with these guys!”

    “Sorry. All out,” Tendi informed her. “I used them all to drill through the side of the lava tube and reach the pocket of laughing gas.”

    “Figures,” Mariner rolled her eyes and picked up a fallen Jem’Hadar rifle instead. “C’mon, we gotta go find Boims.”

    “Already have,” Rutherford said having retrieved a tricorder from Tendi’s pack. “I’m detecting a faint human lifesign. It seems to be originating from about sixty meters that way.”

    “Great. Let’s move out!” Mariner declared as Tendi and Rutherford picked up Stevens and quickly followed her out of the room. “But before we do that, locate the nearest waste extraction unit. I really need to use it!”

    --------------------------------------

    “Stop! You can’t torture me!” Boimler protested watching Valiawen wield her knife. “You told me earlier that’s barbaric!”

    “Don’t worry. I’m not going to torture you,” Valiawen assured him.

    “Thank goodness,” Boimler sighed in relief.

    “One of the Jem’Hadar is going to torture you,” Valiawen said casually. “They are much better suited for this kind of work.”

    “On the other hand,” Boimler blanched.

    “Valiawen to Squad Two,” Valiawen tapped her wrist communicator. “Report to my office immediately…”

    Hahahahaha!” A burst of wild hoots and cackles roared over the comm.

    “Huh?” Valiawen blinked doing a take. “What is going on out there? First, is that you? Are you laughing? Answer me!”

    “O-kay,” Boimler felt a series of shivers run up and down his spine. “Laughing Jem’Hadar. Now I’ve heard everything.”

    “First? Second? Third? Anyone?” Valiawen pressed only to be answered by more laughter. “Ugh, never mind!” She closed the channel. “There must have been a contaminant or something in the last issued round of white. Oh well. Guess I’ll just have to do this myself.”

    “Uh, you really don’t have to do that,” Boimler gulped and began to sweat. “Better to leave stuff like this to the professionals, am I right?”

    “I’m sure I will be able to muddle my way through,” Valiawen stood directly in front of him and straddled his legs. “Let’s start by getting some of this surprisingly soft and silky purple hair out of the way…”

    “No! Not the hair!” Boimler yelped as Valiawen leaned forward and grabbed a fistful of hair on the back of his head.

    “Aha!” Mariner burst into the room brandishing her rifle. “Don’t worry, Boims! I’ll save ya…WHAT THE HECK?!”

    “Mariner! Thank goodness!” Boimler gasped looking over Valiawen’s shoulder. He then realized the female Vorta was practically sitting in his lap while leaning forward with her face and lips just inches from his. “Uh, this isn’t what it looks like!”

    “IT BETTER THE HECK NOT BE!” Mariner yelled aiming her rifle.

    BWWWRZWH!

    “AAAHHHHHH!” Boimler shrieked as a sizzling energy bolt flew past just barely missing his head. Valiawen swiftly dove out of the way and hid behind her desk. “Are you crazy?! You nearly hit me!”

    “What makes you think I wasn’t trying?” Mariner snapped. “I don’t believe this! I was busy getting the stuffing beat outta me and here you are making out and fraternizing with the enemy!”

    “I was not!” Boimler protested. “More like the complete opposite!”

    “Shut up! You don’t get to talk!” Mariner screamed in fury. “I know you’re still sore about your past breakup with Barbara, but to hook up with some lean, leggy, surprisingly hot Vorta floozy…”

    “I’m not a floozy!” Valiawen shouted flinging her empty plate at Mariner. “Whatever that is!”

    “Hey!” Mariner yelled ducking her head. Valiawen used her distraction to bolt and quickly dash out the door. “YEAH, YOU BETTER RUN!”

    “Mariner, you got it all wrong!” Boimler tried to get her attention. “I’ve been held prisoner here just like you. She was going to torture me! See how I’m secured to the chair?”

    “That’s what you said the time I found you fooling around on the holodeck! I didn’t believe ya then either!” Mariner turned her back on him as Tendi and Rutherford staggered into the room with Stevens. “Nice job guarding the door, you two. You let that slinky Vorta get away!”

    “Sorry. We were watching the corridor for people trying to get in,” Rutherford said as he and Tendi set Stevens down. “Not people trying to get out.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Whatever,” Mariner rolled her eyes throwing Boimler a look of contempt. “Let’s bail this jumja stand. We can leave Brain-Dead Boimler here behind.”

    “Wait! We can’t leave yet,” Boimler protested as Tendi slipped a breathing mask over his face.

    “Are you serious?” Mariner threw up her hands in exasperation. “I know you’re desperate to get a new girlfriend, but really…”

    “It’s not that,” Boimler glared back while Tendi worked to free him from his restraints. “There are half a dozen missiles armed with ninety isoton warheads being prepped for launch right now. At least one of them is being readied to self-destruct this depot while the rest are being aimed to hit Tellar!”

    “What?” Rutherford gasped in horror. “That’s horrible!”

    “Eh, it’s not that bad,” Mariner shrugged. “This is Tellar we’re talking about. At least it would stop them from producing any more of their awful polka music. Heck, it’d probably even bump people’s opinion of the Dominion up a few notches.”

    “But why?” Tendi asked cutting through the last restraints with an exoscalpel.

    “I’ll explain later. Right now, we have to stop those missiles,” Boimler rubbed his wrists while glancing at the computer screens. “Good, the Vorta’s still signed in. The interface for the missiles is up right now. Rutherford, how’s your Dominionese?”

    “Pretty much nonexistent,” Rutherford admitted moved to the computer. “But my implant does have a universal translation matrix. Plus Math and Engineering displays are fairly universal. I should be able to figure it out. Theoretically…”

    “Just do what you can,” Boimler urged. “Find a way to disarm the missiles or prevent them from reaching their targets. Preferably without blowing us up in the process!”

    “Okey-dokey!” Rutherford grinned getting to work.

    “So, you gonna start telling us what all you’ve been up to since we’ve been busy trying to escape?” Mariner glared at Boimler. “Like why I caught you and that hot-lipped Vorta making out?”

    “We weren’t making out,” Boimler defended. “There’s a lot of backstory here. I’ll give you the short version…”

    “Wow,” Tendi blinked after Boimler quickly finished filling them all in. “So, the Jem’Hadar and Vorta have been stranded, abandoned and presumed dead after losing two-thirds of their original group? That’s terrible!”

    “Yeah. Real sad. My heart bleeds for them,” Mariner drawled sarcastically. “And if those same Jem’Hadar storm in here all our hearts will end up bleeding!”

    “Thanks for putting that image into my head,” Boimler groaned. “How’s disarming the missiles coming, Rutherford?”

    “I’m still working on it,” Rutherford frowned in concentration. “I should have it in a few more minutes…” He was interrupted as the entire room suddenly shook violently. “Uh, what was that?”

    “Uh oh,” Tendi gulped showing them another tricorder she had taken out from her pack. “Um, you remember the extinct volcano this base was built into the side of? Turns out it’s not so extinct anymore…”

    “What?” Mariner yelled. “How is that possible?”

    “Funny story,” Tendi laughed nervously. “Turns out I accidently woke up the volcano after I ejected the Alcatraz’s warp core while flying inside one of the other active volcanoes in the chain. I didn’t think much of it at the time since the core was about to breach and it’s not like the warp core is needed to fly the shuttlecraft into orbit anyway…”

    “You what?!” Boimler gasped. “What were you doing flying inside an active volcano in the first place?!”

    “To escape the fire storm I accidentally created after igniting part of the atmosphere,” Tendi explained. “Which happened right after flying through the first series of active volcanoes with the Alcatraz…”

    “I had to ask,” Boimler groaned.

    “Ouch,” Mariner shuddered. “I actually pity the poor Jem’Hadar who ended up riding in a shuttle with you. Barely…”

    “Anyway, looks like the exploding warp core triggered a chain reaction which woke up all the other volcanoes in the chain,” Tendi went on studying her tricorder. “Which are now erupting and filling the old network of lava tubes with fresh superhot gases and tephra. Which will eventually pour through the Dominion depot’s air ventilation network and end up reducing every living thing inside the base to ashes.”

    “So let me get this straight,” Boimler attempted to summarize the situation. “All we have to do is escape a secret Dominion supply depot guarded by nearly a hundred Jem’Hadar who think the Dominion War is still going on, stop their devoted resolute Vorta from launching half a dozen cloaked weapons of mass destruction at one of the Federation’s founding worlds or setting any of the said weapons of mass destruction off as a last dutiful act to self-destruct the depot, prevent ourselves from being roasted alive by the raging fire storm on the surface and the erupting clouds of hot gas and ash surging up from below.”

    He blinked for a moment. “Well, it’s official. We’re doomed!”
     
  11. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Still keeping up the combination of dark and hilarious - keep it up!

    :guffaw::guffaw::guffaw:Laughing Jem'Hadar :guffaw::guffaw::guffaw: Thanks!! rbs
     
    ColdFusion180 likes this.