Star Trek: Restoration - Onyx

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CaptainSarine, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    And here Kalara takes on even greater depth as we learn of her tumultuous relationship with her proud mother. There are more cards stacked against this woman than I can count, but she continues to strike out and complete her duty as she sees fit, even if it causes her the loss of her ship and rank in the process.

    The additional background on Kalara’s siblings is also greatly appreciated. :bolian:
  2. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France

    Glad Kalara is still a favourite character - she is most definitely central to my plans for this series and her storyline is going to take a lot of twists and turns as we go. I had originally not intended this little conversation with her mother, but when I realised that Redemption was in orbit of Khitomer it seemed dishonest if she didn't have some kind of contact with Elyra.

    And yes, she did go there! :lol:

    I love the EMH, as well. When I wrote that little scenette, I was thinking of the DS9 episode when Zimmerman comes to make Bashir the new EMH model and that little bit when he activates the old EMH who realises he is being replaced... Priceless! :lol:

    New chapter up tonight or tomorrow night, I hope!


    Thanks so much for your comment. I hadn't thought of Kalara being a descendant of B'Elanna.... But that could totally be possible. We'll have to wait and see!


    I'm sure I'll get around to revealing what happened to Doc someday... Thought I'm not promising when.

    That is so cool about the Picardo pic, he is one of my favourite VOY characters as well. Glad you enjoyed the banter.


    Happy that this deepening of Kalara's character worked for you. Like I said to Kes above, this whole confrontation with Elyra was a last minute addition to this storyline, but I enjoyed the opportunity both to flesh out Kalara's character and give a little idea of what is going on with the war against the Klingons.

    And I hate to say this to all the Kalara lovers out there but there are more cards to be stacked against her and they're gonna start toppling very, very soon...

    Thanks to you all for your comments!

  3. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Every decent character worth it's ink on paper has to go through a crucible and face adversity and challenges at every turn. I'm sure it's rule somewhere.

    And Kalara certainly has her share of challenges. Another rule for awesome characters. Difficult parents who are either a) dead or b) not approving at all of the choices said character has made in his or her life. Kalara: Check.

    It's not a cliché, it's simply good writing.

    I like it.
  4. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, Kalara has her fair share of adversities and challenges, but one thing I promise - she's going through this crucible for a reason. She's going to need all her strength for what is coming.

    And now that I've been all dramatic and stuff...

    More Restoration up tonight!

  5. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France
    Chapter 5

    Captain’s Wardroom
    USS Redemption
    3rd April 2631

    By the time the door opened, Ba’el had stood and taken a step forward, his hand held out in greeting. He smiled slightly at the sight of Captain Robau ducking in order to clear the low hanging frame.

    Straightening up, Robau smiled at Ba’el, then looked around the elaborate wardroom, taking in the long sixteen person table, surrounded by comfortable looking chairs, the holographic fireplace on the far wall, and a handful of holo-paintings showing landscapes from Romulus, Earth and Cardassia. His smile widened as he met Ba’el’s appraising gaze and took his hand.

    “Captain Sarine, good to see you again. It has been a while.”

    Ba’el grasped Robau’s hand in a firm shake. “Good to see you too, Captain Robau.”

    “I don’t think we need to stand on ceremony. You can call me Ted.”

    “Ted. You can call me Captain.”

    Robau frowned for a moment, then relaxed as Sarine chuckled softly. “You had me going there for a moment, Captain.”

    “Bay,” Ba’el replied, holding up his hands. “Please call me Bay.”

    The other captain nodded, the fireplace casting darker shadows over his closely shaven head. He glanced around again. “I was under the impression this was a collegial meal for all of the captains.”

    “It is,” Ba’el confirmed, indicating with one outstretched arm for the other captain to join him at the table. “But I wanted a chance to talk to you alone first, since – contrary to all the other captains – we’ve both encountered the Laurentii before.”

    “That makes sense,” Robau acquiesced, pulling out a chair and sitting down. Ba'el turned away for a moment to hide a smile, reminded of his confrontation with Robau in the Benjamin Sisko’s ready room. Then he killed the smile, returning back to the case at hand.

    "I have to admit, my own memories of those days are a bit misty," Ba'el went on, sitting down as well. "Everything after I caught that bug is hazy."

    That was an understatement. Catching the unknown disease on the day he arrived had almost been a disaster. According to the Laurentii medics who had cared for him, it had been touch-and-go as to whether he would survive. Fever, chills, vomiting, hallucinations… Ba’el could not remember ever having been that ill before or since.

    Robau was nodding. "I remember. You were still pretty out of it by the time you came back aboard the Sisko. None of us could believe that you had been able to get anything accomplished in that state. And yet somehow you'd gotten the job done."

    That part Ba'el did remember. He had forced himself out of bed despite the fever, had made the Laurentii show him the weapon and then had sat with them, hour after hour, until they had made the thing work properly. It had taken all of his strength and willpower not to collapse, but he had managed it. Working together, they had found a way to weaponise the chemical compound that the Laurentii had developed, and had even been able to create a bio-mechanical torpedo casing that could safely deliver it to the Founder's planet.

    "Do you remember anything else?" Ba'el asked after a moment. "I hate going into something so unprepared, so anything would help. Any detail, any transmission, any sensor scan?"

    Robau thought about it for a moment, then shook his head. "No. We spent all six days running full scans on the whole station and the surrounding space, but --"

    "You mean four,” Ba’el interrupted.


    "You said six days. We were only on Onyx Station for four."

    Robau shook his head. "No, six. You were on the station for six days."

    Ba'el felt his heart rate increase, all of a sudden. He remembered suddenly an expression his mother used to use, something about a penny dropping. That was what this felt like. Like someone shining a light in a cupboard he had locked. He forced a smile. "No I can remember that much - we arrived on the 12th and I fell ill that night. I spent one day unconscious with fever, then two days working with the Laurentii. I beamed back to the Sisko on the 16th."

    Shaking his head, Robau smiled as if hoping to reassure him. "You were really out of it, Bay. You must have gotten confused."

    Ba'el shook his own head vigorously. "No. I wasn't confused. I can remember that much. I can remember that Laurentii priest telling me that I had been out for a day. Hell, Prin confirmed it." He looked at Robau. "I could believe that I had lost a day, but Prin? She wasn't ill, she didn't catch the fever."

    Robau had started to frown now. "You're sure about this? Perhaps we could--"

    Before he could say anything else, the door chime chirped. Ba'el hesitated for a moment, then sighed. "I would like to look into this a little bit more, if you wouldn't mind? Do you still have the sensor logs from that time?" Robau nodded. "They're date marked?"

    "Of course."

    Ba'el nodded. "Alright, I need you to send them to me. And I'll talk with Prin, see if she can remember."

    Robau assayed a reassuring smile. "I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding."

    "Yes. A misunderstanding."

    As they both started towards the door, though, Ba'el could not smother the nervous feeling that had begun to grow in the middle of his gut. If his memories were correct and Robau's were as well... What had happened to those missing two days?


    The question haunted Ba'el throughout the meal, but he tried not to show it.

    All four captains had accepted his invitation, along with ambassadors Benjamani and Qwert. They sat around the large table in the wardroom, alone apart from a number of ensigns and cadets serving as waiters and who stood at attention along the walls. After introductions had been made, the meal had begun.

    As well as Robau representing the Benjamin Sisko, Ba'el was playing host to Captain Olivia Rhodes of the USS Highland, Captain Trog of the Tiberius and Captain L'vok of the Gorkon. All three had come alone, and had seemed impressed by the size and splendor of the Restoration-class ship. The meal had proceeded relatively well, each captain sharing stories from the war in which they had all fought, and enjoying a couple of glasses of Romulan ale.

    The only exception had been Captain Rhodes of the Highland. She had seemed tense all throughout dinner, barely taking part in the conversations and story-telling. Ba'el could see that the other captains had picked up on it, the Ferengi captain Trog especially casting nervous looks at the human woman every few moments.

    What the hell is going on?

    The other exception had been Ambassador Benjamani, but Ba'el had expected that. The older ambassador had been even colder with him than usual ever since he had verbally slapped her down during their rescue of the freighter just before Redemption’s launch. Ba'el had hoped that the fact they were finally on their way to Laurentii space would have mollified her somewhat, but instead she seemed even more angry at him than before.

    By the time they reached dessert, the atmosphere had become almost untenable. Ambassador Qwert had been the last person to attempt to begin some form of conversation, but no one except Captain Trog had been that interested in hearing about the latest rise and fall of Slugocola, one of the few Ferengi businesses to survive the Occupation and subsequent rebellion. An uneasy silence had fallen over the table, leaving Ba'el much too much time to think about Robau’s revelations.

    Ba'el was about to suggest that they retire for the evening, when Benjamani spoke up.

    "Captain Rhodes? I notice you haven't said very much tonight. No old war stories to share with us?"

    As if drawn magnetically, every eye in the room settled on the female captain. She stiffened, her eyes flashing as she glared at the older woman. "No," she said through thin lips.

    "Oh come on, captain. I have read the files of every member of this mission and I know for a fact that you fought with honor during the Rebellion. Where were you stationed again?"

    Rhodes cast a dark glance at Ba'el, then turned back to Benjamani. "Bajor."

    Oh, by the Ancestors... Ba'el felt his stomach lurch in protest. He wanted to groan out loud. Why hadn't he realised? Why hadn't he looked into each of these captains first?

    "Bajor," Benjamani went on. "How interesting. Where exactly?"

    "My posting was to Deep Space Nine. Before it was destroyed."

    "Of course." Benjamani looked over at Ba'el, a grim smile on her face. "A tragedy. Almost as tragic as the Scouring of Bajor." Opening her eyes wide, Benjamani looked back at Rhodes. "I hope... Oh dear, I hope you weren't there when it happened."

    Rhodes shook her head curtly. "No. No I wasn't."

    Ba'el realised he had been holding his breath. He was about to let it out, when the human woman went on. "My husband was. And my daughter."

    He felt as though someone had swiped his legs out from under him. He tried to take a breath, but it felt as though there were weights pressing down on his chest. He could only stare at Rhodes - who refused to meet his gaze - her last words echoing in his head.

    Husband. Daughter. Bajor. Blessed ancestors, why? Why her? Why now?

    In all the years since the end of the war, he had never met someone who had been there, on the planet, when the destruction of the wormhole erupted in a storm of charged particles, destroying the Deep Space Nine station and irradiating one whole side of the planet Bajor. He had seen the pictures, after he recovered from the loss of Elera and Torvol. But never anyone who had been there. Never anyone who had lost someone.

    Before he could do or say anything, his comm badge chirped.

    "Dax to Captain Sarine."

    Not now! He raised a hand anyway, then paused as he realised that he was shaking. Everyone was looking at him, everyone except Rhodes. Benjamani had a look of mock horror on her face, as though she couldn't believe what she had just done. Bitch, Ba'el thought.

    Raising his hand all the way, he pressed the comm badge, hard.

    "Sarine here. I'm in the middle of something here, Lieutenant, so--"

    "I'm sorry to disturb you," the Ops officer said, his voice coming out in a rush. "I am sorry but... I need to talk to you. Now."

    The unspoken 'please' was obvious. Closing his eyes, Sarine nodded. "Very well, Lieutenant-Commander. Meet me in my ready room. Sarine out."

    The comm line cut and Ba'el sat there for a moment, looking at the gathered officers, all of whom were still staring at him with a mixture of unease, pain and even anger. He shook his head.

    "As you heard, I am needed on the bridge. I would like all of you to make yourselves and your command crews available for a teleconference over subspace tomorrow morning to coordinate our arrangements for departure. Thank you for a lovely evening."

    With a lump in his throat and a sick feeling in his gut, he turned and walked out.
  6. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France


    By the time he reached the turbolift, Ba'el was almost shaking with suppressed anger. That bitch! he thought over and over again. Benjamani had purposefully manipulated that situation to create tension between the other captains and him, to remind everybody of who he was and what he had done. She had probably been behind the Highland’s posting to this task force. Bitch!

    On his way up to the bridge, Ba'el could not shake the image of Captain Rhodes' face as she said that her husband and child had been on Bajor. He closed his eyes, not caring what the security officer behind him might think, his mind casting inexorably back to that day.

    Enterprise had limped back to the wormhole after carrying out their attack on the Founder homeworld, bruised and battered, pursued by the remnants of the Dominion's fleet, baying for their blood.

    Though their mission had been a success, the war had not been miraculously ended by the destruction of the Founder's. Alliance fleets throughout the Alpha and Beta quadrants had confirmed over subspace that the Dominion were still fighting. Long range scanners had picked up a massive fleet following Enterprise towards the wormhole. Apparently, the Vorta had managed to maintain their grip on the Jem'hadar. And they were coming for the Alliance with every weapon they possessed.

    There was no way Ba'el was going to allow that to happen. Too many people had been sacrificed. There was only one thing left to do.

    The Laurentii had provided Ba'el with one last weapon - a chroniton-based mine that they could use to destroy the wormhole, cutting the Dominion off from easy access to the Alpha Quadrant once and for all. No one in the Council had been informed about the weapon. Ba'el had made the decision alone, along with a handful of fellow officers, that this was the only way. If anyone had to suffer the backlash of using it, it would be him. He accepted that. He had already made his decision to leave the Alliance behind the moment the war was over.

    So as Enterprise had left the wormhole, into the Bajoran system, Ba'el deployed and activated the mine.

    And the wormhole had burned.

    The sound of the turbolift doors swooshing open returned Ba'el to the present. Opening his eyes, he stepped out, eyes scanning the open space. He waved a vague hand when Lieutenant Gray, the duty officer, stood up to announce captain on the bridge, and marched over to his ready room.

    Lieutenant-Commander Dax was waiting for him inside. When Ba'el saw him, he gaped.

    "What happened to you?"

    The young officer looked as though he had spent three days in a Jem'hadar training circle, fighting for his life against an angry Klingon. His face was a mass of bruises and when he rose to his feet to greet Ba'el his whole face drained of blood from the pain.

    "I had an accident," he replied, wincing slightly.

    "You look as though you've been beaten up."

    "Sir, that isn't the reason I wanted to talk to you. This was an accident, nothing more."

    Ba'el wanted to push for more information, but he nodded curtly instead. Beginning to move around his desk, he motioned for Dax to sit down. "This had better be good, Lieutenant. I was in the middle of dinner with the captains of the other ships when you contacted me."

    He sat down and looked up, only to realise that the younger man was still stood at attention. "Sir, permission to speak freely."

    Ba'el growled under his breath, but nodded. "Go ahead."

    Dax relaxed slightly, his head dropping. "I... I have lied to you, sir."

    Ba'el felt himself tense up. "Lied? Lied how?"

    "I... What do you know about the Trill, sir?"

    "No more than can be found in the Federation database.”

    "Yes, sir."

    "I know that you are a joined race, that you have a symbiont inside of you that shares memories and experiences with you."

    "Yes. That is... a good summary, though it doesn't really touch upon the true bond between the host and the symbiont. I was lucky sir - most of my people never know what it is like to be joined. Few of the symbionts survived the Dominion - they looked upon us as a risk to peace and good order. It wasn't good to have a group of people who could clearly remember life before the occupation."

    Ba'el sighed. "I hope you have a point and that you're getting to it quickly, mister Dax."

    "Yes sir. I... I am joined to one of the oldest symbionts still alive, the Dax symbiont. Dax has had many hosts, reaching all the way back to before Trill joined the Federation. In so many lifetimes, there are always... anomalies. Hosts who should never have been joined." Dax finally met Ba'el's eyes. When Ba'el saw the haunted light deep within those eyes, he repressed a shudder. "The Dax symbiont has twice been joined to murderers, men who have taken lives not for the good of their people or in a war, but for their own pleasure. The man who had the Dax symbiont before me... He was such a man."

    Ba'el digested that, frowning slightly. "I... I'm not sure I understand what you're telling me, Lieutenant."

    "Haebron Dax was a spy and an assassin. He worked for the Alliance for a long time, carrying out killings of Dominion leaders and tracking down traitors to the cause. Then, when he was in his thirties, he was captured while trying to destroy the ketracel white facility on Lozen IV. He was... tortured." Dax closed his eyes, the pain of those memories evident on his face. "For years, they put him through every type of physical and mental torture they could imagine. They put him in holodecks and forced him to live things that no man could hope to survive. They broke him, sir."

    Dax opened his eyes again, his gaze piercing Ba'el's. "And then they let him go."

    "The memories after that are unclear," the Trill went on. "Even to me. I have glimpses of what he did, but it is as if everything was seen through broken glass. All I know is that he became a killer. He began to track people down, people who had no link to the Dominion. And he murdered them, in the most brutal way he could. Until one day, one of his victims fought back. A little girl managed to injure him enough for the Alliance to capture him. He was handed over to the Trill in the years just before the end of the occupation. The symbiont was removed. And given to me."

    Ba'el nodded. "This is all very interesting, Lieutenant-Commander. I still don't understand why you felt the need to call me out of an important dinner for this."

    "Because, captain, two years ago I began to hear voices."

    Oh you must be kidding me. He quirked an eyebrow. "Voices."

    "I know how it sounds, captain. But in the past few years it has become a recognised clinical condition amongst Trills. Haebron talks to me, sir. In my head. I can hear him screaming."

    Another shiver rushed over Ba'el and this time he didn't bother to repress it. "And are you following some kind of treatment?"

    "Of course. I take a drug known as jalapamine which allows me to control the voice. However over the past few months, things have gotten worse. To such a point that I have begun..." Dax seemed to hesitate for a moment, then pressed on, "I have begun to lose control of my own body."

    Ba'el sat back in his chair, stunned. "What do you mean, lose control?"

    "I will black-out and when I wake up I'm somewhere else. Once in the armory, once in... someone else's quarters."

    "The armory?"

    "Yes sir."

    Ba'el closed his eyes. I don't need this right now, he thought. His mind cast back to the dinner he had left, to the triumphant look on Benjamani's face. If she finds out... He opened his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was low and dripping with ice. "And you didn't feel the need to tell me about this?"

    "I thought I could control it, I thought..."

    "You thought? You are in charge of operations on this ship, Lieutenant-Commander. You can - at any time - take control of any part of this ship and do with it what you wish. And you are telling me that you could have blacked out and an insane former host of the symbiont in your belly could have seized control? Could have used this ship to destroy... to destroy anything?"

    Dax nodded. Ba'el glared at him. "Does anyone else in Starfleet know about this?"

    "The doctor onboard my former posting, the Reliant. He provided me with the jalapamine."

    "And no one else?"

    Dax shook his head. "You didn't think to mention this on your entry request?"

    "Sir, at the time, this had not begun."

    "I don't believe this. You... You have crossed a line here, Mister Dax. Lying about a medical condition is bad enough. But you have consciously placed this entire ship in danger, on numerous occasions."

    Though he knew he was probably too angry to make a proper decision, Ba'el made it anyway. Slapping his comm badge, he barked, "Sarine to security. Please come to my ready room."

    The two security officers stood outside the ready room doors came rushing in, hands on phasers. When they saw only Ba'el and Dax in the room, they stopped, puzzled.

    "Gentlemen, you are to escort Lieutenant-Commander Dax to his quarters and lock him inside. One of you is to remain outside his doors at all times and make sure he does not leave. Is that understood?"

    "Yes, sir."

    Dax looked at Ba'el. "Captain, I'm..."

    "Don't," Ba'el said. "Consider yourself lucky I'm not throwing you in the brig. It would be all you deserve. You are hereby removed from duty and placed under house arrest until I decide what to do with you."

    Dax just nodded. The two security officers stepped up on either side of him, looking as if they were not sure whether they should handcuff him or seize him by his arms. They settled for resting one hand each on his shoulders.

    "If you would come with us, sir,” one of them said gently.

    Ba'el watched them lead the young Trill officer out of his ready room. Then he sank back into his seat, rubbing a hand over his face. How had this happened? How hadn't he seen?

    He sighed. There was only one thing to do. He struck his comm badge again.

    "Sarine to Ly'et. Prin, I need to see you. Now."
  7. Diogenes

    Diogenes Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Jul 18, 2009
    I am tempted to say that I enjoyed this last chapter of "Restoration" more than any other. It's not that it is so distinctly better than previous installments, though certainly of no less a calibre. Rather, my acute appreciation is due in large part, I think, to the fact that you recently irretrievably anchored me to the story by cementing my perception of Ba'el Sarine through your wish-casting of Sam Jackson in role. (Beg pardon for the mixed metaphors.) Now that I'm seeing Ba'el as Jackson---brown, bald, and badass---I feel like I'm watching him in a movie, which is a terrific sensation to have while reading.

    "Pulp Fiction" is one of my top ten favorite movies and Jules-the-Hitman one of my favorite characters. I felt a shudder the fist time we saw Jackson on screen as Mace Windu, and I barely managed to stop myself from squealing like an 8-year-old girl when Jackson/Windu shows up with an small army of Jedi to rescue Anakin and Padmae from the Separatists and delivers that oh-so-Jackson line to Duku: "This party is over!" (I recall squinting at the screen as if I could see the inscription on the handle of Windu's purple lightsaber that says "BMF." According to Jackson, a purple lightsaber, the only one of that color in all of Star Wars, was his condition for accepting the role of Windu. And Lucas sweetened the deal by having "BMF"---Bad-Mother-Fcuker---inscribed on the handle in homage to Jules/Jackson/Pulp-fiction.)

    ... And still, I hadn't imagined Jackson as Ba'el. Jackson's brand had, for me, cheapened more than a bit in recent years with roles in such marginally amusing celluloid dreck as "Deep Blue Sea" (in which he, nigh literally, jumped the shark as a performer) and "Snakes On A Plane." I think Jackson partly redeemed (Redemption!) himself, though, with 2008's "Lakeview Terrace." I'd forgotten how genuinely menacing Jackson can be, especially when he's not playing the goodguy. (When it comes to emoting rancorous, violent, explosive, intractable, menacing, rage, I think Jackson is up there with Hackman, Dinero, and Nicholson.)

    [["Ba’el grasped Robau’s hand in a firm shake. 'Good to see you too, Captain Robau.'
    'I don’t think we need to stand on ceremony. You can call me Ted.'
    'Ted. You can call me Captain.'
    Robau frowned for a moment, then relaxed as Sarine chuckled softly. 'You had me going there for a moment, Captain.'
    'Bay,' Ba’el replied, holding up his hands. 'Please call me Bay.'"]]

    That was brilliant. Were you actually imagining Jackson when you wrote that? I think Ba'el's dialogue here is totally Sam Jackson---even as he is ostensibly allowing a degree of informality, he still manages, almost aggressively-passive-aggressively, to keep a solid sensor lock on interpersonal dominance; it's as if Ba'el is constitutionally incapable of being anything less than the Alpha in the room (reminds me of Sisko, which is why I think he was respected by several Jem'Hadar Firsts).

    As much as the bas-assness, what I imagine Jackson pulling off is Ba'el's self-loathing. Reminiscent in its way of Picard's patrician reserve early in his command of the Enterprise-D, Sarine's self-loathing is a quality that keeps everyone---the other characters in your narrative, perhaps the readers as well, and maybe even the part of Be'el that could still find some modicum of genuine happiness---at a remove, at "bay," if you will. Sorry, I'm a recovering Pun addict. ... Indeed, I think that "addiction" is an apropos notion. :vulcan:

    Joel, have you seen Spike Lee's film "Jungle Fever"? It's underrated, I think, partly because many Americans seem(ed) to recoil at the emotional freight of the intersection of race/racism and (interracial-)sexuality, very much on display in the movie. The attendant cultural hubbub obscured my favorite part of "Jungle Fever," Jackson's portrayal of a strung out crack addict. The scene in his mother's kitchen in which Jackson's character loses it because his mother (played by Ruby Dee) wont give him any more money for his dope is frightening. The verisimilitude of Jackson's performance---the exposition of his turmoil, of his drug-shackled existence, his consuming shame and disgust at his own condition, his self-loathing---was like a bludgeon. But Jackson knew exactly where the character was coming from, because in reality, he is a recovering crack addict. I heard him discuss it in more than one interview.

    I think that there is a sense in which Captain Ba'el Sarine is, practically, as compelled by his guilt, sadness, and self-hate as any addict is by a narcotic compulsion. Again, we saw shades of this condition in Benjamin Sisko, until the intervention, if you will, of the Prophets who showed Sisko that even though linear time had moved on, he was mired in the past. Ba'el is an even more poignant figure than Sisko in that the impetus for his self recriminations is very much more horrible than Sisko's self-perceived failures. Moreover, I suspect that Ba'el is more self aware than Sisko was, quite cognizant of the corrosive nature of his emotional existence, and seemingly thoroughly helpless to escape it. He helped to liberate billions, but he is feckless when it comes to freeing himself.

    I hope that Prin calms Ba'el (I dont have the balls to refer to him as "Bay" yet) down a bit. Perhaps she'll remind him that despite Dax's transgression(s), they might all be dead if Dax hadn't followed Sarine's orders during the battle with the Klingons over Romulus, when a great deal of the Trill's being screamed for him to instead obey Kalara's attempted countermand. I feel such sympathy for Dax. (And how could I not, feeling as I do that I'm seeing not merely Jasto, but also Ezri and Jadzia suffer as well. Nice stacking the deck there, Joel. The same can be said for Ianto.)

    Okay, now, why is it that I like Benjamini? She's a bit of a devil, huh? I suppose every badass like Sarine needs a foil. More than ever, I'm picturing Lena Olin, my earlier suggestion, in the role of the Ambassador. If you haven't already, and you get the opportunity, watch the episodes of J.J. Abrams's "Alias" in which Olin appears as Sydney Bristow's (probably at least octuple-crossing) super spy mom. Even if you dont delve too deeply into Benjamini's history, I have no trouble imagining more than a few bodies left in her wake.

    Well, Joel, thanks again for the great, thought provoking entertainment. You never disappoint.


    PS: Still wracking my brain for an actor for Colin Groves. No one I can think of quite captures his simultaneous competence and callowness.
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    A great chapter.

    First of all I totally agree with Ba'el. Benjamani is one cold, hard bitch to bring up Bajor during the dinner, especially if she really got Rhodes on purpose for this mission. That's messing with two people's lives and their pain just to get your point across. Low. Very low.

    And then there are those mysteriously lost days. That's just awesome. Interesting that this only comes up now, I suppose Ba'el and Pryn had other things to worry about back in the day but two lost days is huge. Anything could have happened in that time.

    Dax presents an interesting problem for Ba'el and right now I cannot fault him for his reaction to this revelation. Obviously he's got enough on his plate to having to worry about his second officer accidently blowing the ship. Relieving him off duty is the right call, even though we all know his story won't end there. Dax will have an interesting role to play in this tale and I'm curious to find out which one.

    Really good stuff.
  9. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    I feel so bad for Bay. Benjamani is a manipulative bitch, Rhodes hates him, Dax is crazier than a bag of snakes, and he's suddenly missing two days? Poor Bay -- I hope Prin can help somehow.

    I loved the interaction between Dax and Ba'el. Locking Dax up seems the prudent thing to do for now, though I'm pretty sure I'd have sent him to sickbay for that so someone can try to figure out how to help him. But Ba'el has enough to worry about -- and this isn't the happy, luxury-liner Starfleet of the 24th century, where people have all sorts of time to hang out with counselors and get in touch with their feelings. And the cover-up Dax has been pulling for the last few weeks doesn't make Bay feel immediately sympathetic, I'm sure.

    Another great chapter, and I can't wait to see all that's coming.

    (And of course, who doesn't love Captain Robau?)

    Nice job!
  10. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France


    What a comment, almost as long as some of my chapters! :) Before responding, I just have to say thank you so much for the care you put into every comment you leave for this story - I'm touched, really, that you care so much about this little corner of my imagination to spend so much time and effort responding to it.

    So thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

    Now on with my response.

    Firstly, I have to admit that no I wasn't picturing Jackson when writing this, since the initial draft of this chapter was written before my "wish-casting", as you so aptly put it. However, I'm really flattered that his voice did come across, as that both comforts me in my "wish-casting" and shows that he is coming across as a real-person.

    I love Sam Jackson, though I agree with you that it has been a while since he has played a really good role worthy of his talents. I also loved that little line in Episode II, classic Jackson and yet also classic Windu. He is the most bad-ass of all Jedi, as shown in the novel Shatterpoint (a truly harrowing Star Wars novel).

    I like the comparison to Sisko, ie. being the Alpha male in the room, that so corresponds to Sisko (who is my favourite captain) and to Ba'el. I suppose part of me did have Sisko in mind when writing Ba'el, even if it wasn't conscious.

    As for Ba'el's self loathing - I had not consciously thought of it that way, since I doubt if I tried I wouldn't be able to consciously write a self-loathing character, but when reading your comment I realised that that does - unfortunate as it may be for Bay - describe him pretty well. He does keep people at Bay (lol! :lol:), except for Prin and to a lesser extent in former chapters, Commander Turner the pilot. He is carrying around a hell of a lot of baggage and is in a position where he doesn't have to hide it. Unfortunately, that makes him a difficult person to like.

    No I havent' seen Jungle Fever. Your idea that Bay is addicted (or compelled) by his guilt, sadness and self-hate is probably a pretty good picture of who he is and how he lives his life. He has had to deal with a hell of a lot, to take responsibility for committing certain acts, and I think part of him feels that everything that has happened since (the loss of his wife and son, his rejection by the Federation) has been punishment for it. And yet he feels that he hasn't suffered enough.

    Wow, didn't mean to spend so much time deconstructing Ba'el here! You really made me think.

    IE. Dax. Yeah, I feel sorry for him as well. He's struggling to keep this under control, but it has finally gone so far. And I feel quite proud of him for having the guts to finally come clean, even thought it has come quite late in the game.

    As to why you like Benjamani... Not sure. I think what she did to Ba'el and Rhodes in this chapter was way below the belt, but I'm sure I'll find some twisted reason why it was a good thing next time I write in her POV. As for bodies in her wake... Oh yeah. They're there.

    Thanks again for your indepth commentary!



    Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

    Yeah, Benjamani has gone below the belt there. However, like I said to Diogenes above ^^ I'm sure that next time I write a scene in her POV, there'll be some good reason why she did it! She's twisted that way! :)

    I have to admit, I was worried about those lost days coming up now. If I ever go back and rewrite these to bring it all into line, this is one thing I would have introduced sooner. However, I think that it works just in the sense that Ba'el was so out of it back then that he didn't twig to what was happening, and there was very little time between the departure from Onyx to the attack on the Founders. So very little time to dwell on things like that.

    Glad that you don't fault Ba'el for his decision. He wasn't in a good place to make it, but he really didn't have that much of a choice, not after what Dax did. Still, you are right when you imagine that Dax's story will not end here.

    Thanks again!


    Yeah, Bay is having a rough time of it, isn't he? Why do I do it to him? Oh that's right, because it's fun!!! :devil:

    Thanks for the comment on sickbay - has made me think of a little thing I need to add to the next chapter! :) And yes, you are right, this is far from Picard's time when he could have sent Dax to Troi for counselling. Still, you'll see that something will be done for Dax and he will be getting help from an unexpected source.

    Glad you liked Robau back again.

    Thanks very much for the comment!

  11. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France
    Chapter 6

    First Officer's Log, supplemental. 4th April 2631

    In two hours, Redemption will be departing Khitomer for our final jump to Laurentii space. By this time tomorrow we will have arrived at the border between the Federation and the Hegemony, where a group of Laurentii ships should be waiting for us to escort us the rest of the way to Onyx Station. Final checks on Redemption's systems show that every section is working at peak efficiency, which bodes well for the rest of the mission.

    The same cannot be said for our bridge crew. I was informed last night of Captain Sarine's decision to remander Lieutenant-Commander Dax to house arrest in his quarters awaiting the result of an investigation into charges of purgury and treason. Although Captain Sarine has informed me of the key pieces of information behind these charges, I cannot discuss these here. Suffice it to say that I now find myself without a second officer nor an operations officer hours before the ship begins what may well be the most important mission in Federation history...

    USS Redemption
    In Orbit of Khitomer

    Prin stepped out onto the bridge, accepting a headset from the waiting ensign, her eyes drawn inexhorably down into the Pit, as if hoping to see Lieutenant-Commander Dax sat at Ops. Instead, Lieutenant Barani sat in his place.

    She sighed. It hadn’t been a bad dream, then. When Ba'el had contacted her in the early hours of the morning, she had thought he was pulling a joke on her. By the time he had finished telling her some crazy story about past lives, voices in heads and treasonous Trill, she was convinced of it. Unfortunately, though, it turned out to be true.

    What the hell was Dax playing at? she wondered as she walked over to the steps that descended into the Pit. Why would he have hidden such a thing from them? She had not spent that much time with him since coming onboard Redemption, but she had seen enough of him to have recognised a competent, stable officer who seemed able to easily draw on his many lifetimes of experience. To discover that all this time he had actually been a raving madman...

    You're losing your touch, she thought as she finally stepped down onto the metal plates of the Pit's floor. Once upon a time, no one would have been able to hide something like that from you.

    "Commander," Lieutenant Barani greeted her, though Prin noted that the younger woman wouldn't meet her eyes.

    "Lieutant. Status?"

    "All stations report ready," Barani replied, still not looking at Prin. "The other ships also stand ready for launch."

    "Good." Reaching up, she tapped her comm badge. "Captain Sarine to the bridge."

    Moments later, the door to the ready room opened and Sarine strode out. Though he was in uniform, Prin could see that he hadn't changed since the night before. His eyes were sunken, haunted. She bit back a sigh.

    "Captain, everything is ready for our jump to Laurentii space," she said as he began to walk down into the Pit.

    She saw his eyes dart to Barani and then away again. Could he be in this state because of Dax? She mentally shook her head. No. He had seemed certain of himself the night before, convinced that he had made the right decision. So much so that he had been reluctant to follow her advice and have Dax placed under regular medical supervision. Although he had agreed to it, eventually, the idea wouldn’t have crossed his mind.

    But if it isn’t second thoughts about Dax, what is it? There had to be something more to his attitude. What else could have happened to put him in this state?

    Bay nodded to her, then walked over to his seat in the centre of the bridge. She stepped over beside him, using her body as a shield between him and the rest of the bridge crew, and placed a hand on his shoulder.

    "Are you alright?" she asked quietly when he looked up at her.

    The shadows in his eyes seemed overwhelming. "I'm fine," he said gruffly, then looked away. "I didn't sleep well."

    She hesitated, about to push him further, then shook her head and stepped away, taking up her place behind him.

    "Status report, Lieutenant."

    Barani jumped slightly in her seat at the sound of Ba’el’s voice, then turned to face him. She still wouldn't meet either of their eyes, though.

    "All stations report ready, captain."

    "And the fleet?"

    "Ready as well."

    Good thing I asked before him, Prin thought wryly. She would have to have a word with him later about that. There was no point in having her report to the bridge before him if he wasn't going to trust her to do her job.

    "Good," Bay was saying. He rested his elbows on the arms of his chair, making a steeple of his fingers and staring off into the distance. Prin waited for a moment and when he still didn't say anything else, she cleared her throat.

    "Orders, captain?"

    Bay blinked, as if waking from a dream. By the Prophets! Prin wanted to scream at him. She hadn't seem him this out of it since Enterprise returned from the Gamma Quadrant. He needed his head in the game, especially now. He glanced up at her, frowning.

    "I--" Suddenly he was on his feet. "I will be in my ready room."

    Prin took a step towards him. "Captain, you--"

    "I have total confidence in you, Commander. Please lead the fleet out."

    She stopped where she was, unwilling to make more of a scene than Bay already had. As it was, every single eye on the bridge was locked on the captain as he walked back up the steps, out of the Pit, and into his ready room. The doors closed behind him, leaving an uneasy silence on the bridge.

    Perfect, Prin thought. Why does he have to fall apart now? She shook her head. She didn’t have time to deal with this. She would handle Ba'el bloody Sarine later. For the moment, they had a mission to get underway.

    Turning, she took a seat in the captain's chair. Dropping the viewfinder down over her eye, she spoke as loudly as she could.

    "Lieutenant Barani, hail the rest of the fleet."

    "Aye sir," Barani replied, her hands already moving swiftly over the holo command. She turned after a moment, eyes locked fixedly on a point just over Prin’s shoulder and nodded.

    Prin took a deep breath, trying not to dwell on the other woman’s refusal to meet her eyes, and then accessed the transmission. "All ships, this is Commander Prin Ly'et aboard Redemption. Please confirm readiness to depart Khitomer space."

    The view of space in her finder morphed to a split screen, showing the faces of the four other captains. Prin felt a deep sense of nostalgia settle over her when she saw Robau's face, but tried to keep her own face emotionless. One by one, the various captains confirmed that their ships were ready.

    "Good. We will transmit coordinates and frequency harmonics in a moment. Lieutenant Barani will give the mark."

    Once the screen had reverted back to the view of space, Prin looked over at Ensign Q'sar at his navigation station. The young Vulcan, his face emotionless, stared back at her.

    "Have you made the calculations, ensign?"

    Q'sar nodded shortly, once. "As ordered, commander."

    "Good. Please transmit the information to the other ships."

    He turned back to his holo commands, collating the various frequency integers and subspace pathways that he had drawn up into a single communique. She followed his progress in her viewfinder, amazed once again at the complex calculations required to travel anywhere using the quantum slipstream drive. Gone were the days when it was enough to point at a star and engage the warp-drive. Quantum slipstreaming required a whole new set of skills, which often seemed more akin to an art-form to Prin.

    A few seconds passed, and Q'sar finished transmitting. He turned back to face her. "Transmission complete."

    "Good." She turned to Astrid Williams at the conn. "Is the slipstream drive ready?"

    "Aye, commander."

    Prin stifled a smile. The young lieutenant seemed to have come into her own since the ship launched, showing a professionalism and self-possession that surprised Prin coming from someone so young. Not at all how I imagined her from her file, she thought.

    "Alright then. On my mark, people."

    A hush fell over the bridge, just like it did every time they were about to engage the slipstream drive. Prin allowed the feeling to persist for a moment, then she lifted her hand.


    Using the calculations Q'sar had made, the quantum slipstream drive used a focused quantum field to generate changes in local space curvature. In lay-man's term - or so Prin remembered from her own reading on the subject - the drive twisted space-time until it ripped. That rip opened up a subspace tunnel, which now appeared in her viewfinder as a flowering of blue and white light, ragged around the edges.

    Lieutenant Williams had already begun to guide Redemption into that aperture, followed swiftly by the other ships. Prin watched all of this, cycling through different views in her finder to make sure that no one was left behind. Every single ship in the fleet had its deflector dish working through the same modifications to the quantum field that Redemption was, at nano-second intervals, thus maintaining the cohesion of the tunnel.

    Once they were inside the tunnel, Prin could see the tunnel extending before her, like a cylinder of blue-green cloud, broken every so often by rings of quantum filaments. Through her viewfinder, she watched as Redemption changed course, venturing into another corridor.

    How many of these tunnels are there? she wondered. How many paths that we could take? Where do they lead?

    Shaking her head at her maudlin thoughts, Prin lifted the viewfinder away from her eye and stood up. Surveying the bridge, she made sure that everything was proceeding as it should, then turned to Barani.

    "Lieutenant, you have the conn."

    The attractive young woman nodded and stood, replaced at Ops almost immediately by a young ensign Prin didn't recognise. The two women passed one another, and for the first time Barani met her eyes. Prin was so taken aback by the anger she saw reflected there that she almost stopped stock still.

    Barani lowered her eyes again. Prin hesitated, about to say something, to call the lieutenant out on her inappropriate behavior, then decided against it. One problem at a time, she thought.

    "If anyone needs me, I'll be in the captain's ready room," she announced to no one in particular.

    One problem at a time.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2010
  12. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Benjamani is a Bitch. Why sabotage something so important to the new Federation?

    Cool chapters, I liked the interactions and want to know more about the missing 2 days.
    And the fate of The Doctor. :) (No, I'm not going to let it go.)
  13. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    This was an interesting chapter. Have we seen Prin's POV yet in this series? For some reason I'm thinking this is the first time I've seen things "through her eyes," so to speak. Fascinating. And what's the deal with her and Robau? :cardie: Nostalgia? What kind of nostalgia? Perhaps Prin likes her men alien (to her) and badass? :devil:

    I wonder how much Barani knows about what's going on. My guess is not much, because she might not be so inappropriately angry with her superiors if she knew her boyfriend had a psycho killer inside trying his best to get out. :eek: Then again, since nothing is ever as it seems on this ship, maybe she knows exactly what's going on and locking Dax up messes with some elaborate plan of hers. (As you can see, I don't trust anybody on Redemption. Except Kalara. Which means if she turns out to be some kind of bad guy, I will be really mad! :scream:)

    And now, Bay is losing it. You know, that's exactly what this crew needs right now -- their captain having a meltdown. Oh, wait, no, they don't. :rommie: If Prin fails to "handle Ba'el bloody Sarine" (that made me laugh), I suggest she go get Kane. He can inform Bay with the bluntness that only the Borg can pull off that he's being a crappy captain. As Seven once said to Harry --
    In all seriousness, I know he's under an insane amount of stress and questioning everything since discovering his lost days, but now is just not the time to go hide in the ready room! I really hope Prin can help him. Come on, Bay! Pull it together!

    Oh, and one last thing -- I loved your description of the slipstream drive and the slipstream itself. Very cool, indeed.

    Good stuff, Joel!
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2010
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    I’m going to have to jump on the bandwagon here. Benjamani’s actions in maneuvering Ba’el and Captain Rhodes into a room together were simply… loathsome. I really hope she gets what’s coming to her, and then some.

    Dax revealing his ‘problem’ with Haebron appears to be a day late and a dollar short, at least as far as Ba’el is concerned. And the captain has a valid point. Haebron could have done anything to anyone, even endangered the entire ship and/or mission while in control.

    And now there’s the matter of a potentially missing two days while Ba’el was with the Laurentii. Missing time. That’s never a good thing.

    A whole host of crises threaten to engulf Redemption, and she’s hardly set out on her first official mission.

    Damn. Just… damn. :eek:
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  15. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France

    Yes, Benjamani is a little bit of a bitch, but she thinks she is doing the right thing here, in trying to keep Ba'el off balance.

    We'll be learning more about the missing days in a little while. As for the Doctor, I'll try and get that in there somewhere just for you! :)


    I love the fact that you think even Barani has some hidden agenda to what she is doing and how she is reacting. If I tell you that she doesn't, would you believe me?

    Glad that at least Kalara comes out on top in your estimation. As for her final allegiance... Who knows???! :devil:

    Prin has proven in the past that she can get through to Ba'el in his darkest times, so hopefully this will be a similar situation. I guess we'll have to wait and see how much effect she still has on him.

    Thanks for the comment on my description of the slipstream drive and travel through slipstream, I spent quite a while fine-tuning that.


    It looks like it's a wash for the anti-Benjamani camp. Even I will admit, she is not a particularly agreeable woman.

    The Dax-Ba'el confrontation was a long time coming but it had to happen eventually. Glad to see that you think Ba'el did the right thing, though we'll see in the next chapter that he mellowed a little as to his treatment of him once he had calmed down.

    Yep, crises on crises on crises add up to... A hell of a lot of fun!!! :lol:

    Thanks all for the continued comments!

  16. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Wow, what's going on between Pryn and Barani? If there is one thing this ship doesn't need it's any more interpersonal conflict. That and spies ...

    Pryn is right, Bay is picking a hell of a time to fall apart. Of course if he does, he's playing right into Benjamani's hand. It would also help to explain why he won't be in command of Redemption for much longer.

    Pryn is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. So far she's about the only person on this ship with a cool (and apparently quite beautiful) head on her shoulders. Didn't think I would ever say that about a Cardassian.
  17. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 27, 2009
    Lyon, France
    Chapter 7

    USS Redemption
    Slipstream Space

    Astrid watched Ly'et walk up the steps to the upper portion of the bridge through the holographic representation of space that surrounded her position at the helm like a sphere.

    From here, the ship seemed to hum beneath her fingers, the quantum slipstream tunnel almost vibrating through the very decking plates at her feet. Every few seconds, the computer instructed her to make minute course corrections to follow Q’sar’s calculations. Most of the time, Astrid had already begun shifting the ship’s course a few nanoseconds before the computer reminded her.

    Splitting her attention between the helm and watching Ly'et, she saw the Cardassian woman stop at the door to Sarine's ready room and press her thumb to the plate to announce her presence. She stood there for a moment, then pressed the plate again. Finally, the door slid open and Ly'et vanished inside.

    Interesting, Astrid thought idly. The tension between the two commanding officers seemed to be increasing. She wondered how long it would take before Sarine broke down completely. His Company file certainly seemed to indicate that he was fragile.

    And how much of this tension has been caused by Dax’s revelations? She had learned just the day before that Dax had been to see the captain. Though no one knew the details, it had widely been reported that the Trill second officer had been removed from duty and remandered to quarters. Astrid had a good idea of why, and she had to admit that she was surprised. She hadn't thought the man would have the courage to go to Sarine.

    Since her confrontation with him, Astrid had spent a lot of time thinking about what had happened, trying to make sense of it. She had surprised herself with how violently she had reacted to him. The Company had provided her with intensive counselling to help her work past the feelings that had been left over from Haebron Dax's attack against her parents. She had been convinced that the counselling had worked.

    She had been wrong.

    Still, the time she had spent analysing the situation had allowed her to gain a little perspective. She now realised that Dax represented a real and present danger to her mission. As far as she was concerned, that gave her licence to handle him as she saw fit.

    And she had a very good idea of how she was going to handle him.

    First, though... Glancing briefly back at Lieutenant Barani to make sure that the other woman’s attention was occupied elsewhere, Astrid brought up the program she had been working on secretely all morning. The program was hidden behind her normal controls, dissimulated by a code that only she knew the access to. More importantly, it had a secret set of controls on the left hand side of her screen that appeared to be a link to the quantum flow regulators down in Engineering, which allowed her to continue working on the program even when it was hidden.

    Thanks to her genetically engineered intellect, Astrid had a perfect image of the program spinning around in her head, that she modified as she worked, allowing her to work on the program even when she didn't have it in front of her.

    Thank you the Company, she thought brightly. The cerebal modication and training that had gone with it had been essential to this mission.

    It took her exactly two seconds to confirm that the program conformed to the image of it she had in her mind's eye, and then she hid it behind her control module once again.

    Almost done. Two or three more lines of code to make sure that the routing corresponded to Redemption's internal communication processor, and it would be ready.

    Thank God for multiple processing abilities. While working on this program, she was also able to continue piloting the ship and begin to put together a message to Doctor Keene to meet her that night. And they say women can't do more than two things at the same time.

    After making another minute change to Redemption's course, she wrote the last few lines of code and added them to the program she had designed. Using the information Keene had given her and the remnants of his transmission to the Klingon fleet, she had been able to design a fairly good approximation of the holo image - one that showed then-Commander Kalara discussing the upcoming attack of Romulus with a Klingon general. The code she had added would damage it just enough so that no one would be able to notice the tiny imperfections in Keene's holo emitter, as well as flagging it – discretely – for anyone who was looking for it.

    She would just need to find someone - a suitable patsy, as it were - to find it.

    Accessing the system, she transmitted the program. Her lines of code would hide the provenance of the program, thanks to highly complex Company encryption. No one would ever know that it been inserted into the mainframe from her station.

    Once the recording was gone, Astrid finished compiling the message to Keene. She needed to see him that night, both to inform him of the progress of their little plan, and to get his help with a slightly more personal endeavour. She smiled. Keene would be just right to sort out her little problem.

    Hydroponics Bay 4
    USS Redemption

    Keene slipped into the hydroponics bay, his eyes already searching the darkness for any sign of Underhill, aka Lieutenant Astrid Williams.

    The air was heavy, pregnant with humidity and the overwhelming pungent aroma of wet earth and plants. A hint of spices from one of the nearby shrubs tickled his nose.

    As he made his way forward, eyes sweeping every row and corridor, he thought about Lieutenant Williams. In the days since meeting with her in the cargobay, he had tried to make sense of the revelation that she was the agent onboard Redemption meant to help him. He hadn't been able to. It seemed totally and utterly unbelievable.

    After all, according to her Starfleet records, Astrid Williams was a model Starfleet officer, one of that bright new generation of humans who had almost no memories of the Dominion. Lucky her, he thought wryly as he began to make his way carefully down the rows of shelving, each one holding a different type of plant.

    He had done his research, of course, pulling every detail he could trawl from the main computer. Beyond the fact that her parents had died in an earthquake soon after the Jem'hadar pulled out of the Earth, she was so banal she was tantamount to boring. Her adoptive parents had been farmers, and she had grown up in what was known as Midwest America. She had slightly above average scores at school, enough to gain her a place at Starfleet Academy, but not enough to make her stand out from the crowd.

    Her work at the Academy had been acceptable, though her final scores had been high enough to ensure her her choice of postings after graduation. But still, only slightly above average.

    How could this human child be such an important operative that Lady J’tar believed she could help me?

    And yet - if the message he had received was to be believed - she had done just that.

    The air in the bay had started to bother him. Hot and humid, it seemed more suited to a Cardassian. Keene could feel his sinuses start to ache and he rubbed a hand over the bridge of his nose. Why did she have to choose this place?

    He had had enough of this. He was about to call out for her and be damned anyone else who might be in the bay, when a shadow detached itself from the darkness and slid into view.

    "Hello L'goth."

    He snarled at her use of his real name. "Do not play games with me, little girl. You might get hurt."

    She smirked at him. He had hoped to see even a hint of fear, but she seemed totally unafraid. Who is she? What is she?

    "Now, now, no need to get riled up. I needed to be sure you weren't followed."

    That I wasn't... Keene scowled. I was infiltrating Dominion slave camps when this child was still a babe in swaddling clothes. Impudent...

    Astrid's smile widened as if she could tell how much she had riled him. Keene forced himself to remain calm.

    "You said that you had news for me?"

    She nodded, suddenly all serious professionalism. "It is done."

    "You have planted the recording as we discussed?"

    "Yes. A simple matter. The recording of you as Kalara now lies hidden deep in a communication's sub processor."

    Keene felt his blood flow cold. "You mean me as Malok. The doctor."

    To his horror, she shook her head. "Too difficult. It was much simpler to use the original recording and damage it enough that the holo-image was unmistakeable for the real thing."

    Keene didn't consciously decide to move but he found himself towering over her moments later, his hands clenched into fists at his side. "Do you have any idea what you have done?"

    Astrid didn't flinch, nor did she draw back. She simply looked up at him, an expression of real confusion on her face.

    "I don't see what the problem is," she said slowly. "Kalara is as good a candidate as Malok - you obviously thought so or you wouldn't have chosen her to imitate in the first place. Besides, everyone aboard ship knows that Ba'el Sarine hates the woman. He'll be that much more willing to accept the evidence."

    Keene swore he could taste ashes in his mouth. What has she done? Eveything had fallen apart because this child couldn't follow simple instructions. If - no, when - the recording was discovered, Kalara would be arrested. All of his plans - all of Lady J’tar plans - would fall apart.

    I have to stop this, Keene thought. He made to turn away, to leave the hydroponics bay, but Astrid reached out and grabbed his shoulder.

    "We're not done."

    He shrugged off her shoulder. He didn't want to hurt her, but if she pushed him too far, he would. "I have nothing more to say to you."

    She grabbed him again, and this time he had had enough. Reaching up a hand, he grabbed her fingers and threw her over his shoulder. Or at least that's what he tried to do. Instead, he quickly found himself on his front, a weight pressed against his lower back, his arm twisted up behind him.

    By the old gods, he cursed. How had she done that?

    He felt her leaning down, her lips pressed against his ear. "Never, ever, try that again," she said. "You hear me?"

    When he didn't respond straight away, she forced his arm further back, forcing a gasp from between his lips. "You hear me?" she snarled.

    To his shame, Keene found himself nodding. "I hear you," he managed to gasp out.

    "Good. Now hear this. Whatever you thought before now, whatever you had planned, forget it. From now on, you work for me."

    Keene shook his head, tried to struggle against her, but she seemed to have been blessed with strength any Klingon warrior would have sold his honor for. She kept him down on the ground as easily as if he had been a little child.

    "I know everything about you and I could reveal the truth about your identity at any moment. If you want to have any chance of carrying out your mission correctly - and if you don't want to die at my hands - you will do exactly as I tell you." She forced his arm further back again, sending pain shooting down his spine and sides. Then she waited for a moment before going on. "Now ask me what I want you to do."

    He gritted his teeth, refusing to give in to this child's whims. Her other arm moved fast as lightning, forcing his head forward and smashing his nose against the hard decking. He felt bone give way, followed by a flash of pain so intense that he couldn't see for a few moments. When his sight returned, he could see red, though he couldn't be sure whether that was blood or just the aftereffects of his minor concussion.

    "Ask me."

    His voice shook. "What... What do you want me to do?"

    The bitch woman leaned forward. Keene was suddenly very aware of the feeling of her breasts pressed against his back and found himself becoming aroused. If a Klingon woman had attacked him this way, he would have been about ready to tear her clothes off with his teeth. As it was, he felt ashamed that this human child was getting such a reaction out of him.

    Astrid pressed down on him, her lips now brushing over the skin just behind his ear. Keene felt his human skin break out in goosebumps.

    "I want you to kill a man," she whispered. "I want you to kill Jasto Dax."

    It took a moment for the words to punch through the haze left over in his brain from the mixture of pain and arousal. When they did, he was sure that he had misunderstood.

    "The Trill?"

    Astrid laughed, and for the first time, Keene realised that this woman was insane. "He's much more than just the Trill," she snarled. "He could ruin everything, for both of us. I need him out of the way, and I know that your little holo emitter still works. You can get rid of him without incriminating either of us."

    "No," he snarled. "I can't use it again. If Kalara or the doctor find out that..."

    "I don't care about that," Astrid whispered, shoving his arm up again. "You will kill Jasto Dax or I swear I will go straight to Captain Sarine to tell him about the nice little Klingon spy he has working in his crew. And once they've thrown you in the brig to await your nice little Starfleet trial, I'll come in the middle of the night and cut off your balls." She paused, and he could hear the smile in her voice when she spoke again. "And then I'll feed them to you with a spoon."

    He knew that she was deadly serious. By the old gods, what was he going to do? She had him in a bind, figuratively and literally. He knew that there was nothing he could do to get out of it, nothing except go along with her damned fool plan and hope for an opportunity to take control once again. Hating himself for it, he nodded.

    "We have an agreement?"

    He nodded again.

    "Good." For a moment, she pushed his arm that little bit higher, and Keene felt something give. Another flash of pain rushed through his body, forcing the breath from his lungs and leaving him swimming in darkness. When he came to again, she was gone.

    He lay there for a good ten minutes, unwilling or unable to move. As he stared at the blood stains on the floor in front of his nose, Keene wondered what the hell he was going to do. How could he possibly regain control of this situation? Could he?

    The only thing he knew was that if he wanted to survive, he had to do exactly as she had told him.

    Somehow, he had to find a way of killing Jasto Dax.
  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Holy crap! I’m still not sure if that was a violent confrontation between two deep cover operatives… or foreplay!? :wtf:

    Nice job here with establishing how capable and how unstable Astrid’s other persona is. Not only did she quickly establish dominance over Keene/L'goth, but she’s modified his plans without his knowledge to suit her whims.

    Ah, plans within schemes inside machinations all bathing in a sea of deceit and mystery! It doesn’t get any tastier than that.
  19. Diogenes

    Diogenes Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Jul 18, 2009
    oh. My. GOD!

    Astrid... wow. there are no words. :adore:
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Looks like Williams has established herself as the alpha-spy on Redemption. But her personal (yet also entirely understandable) vendetta against Dax might prove to become her downfall. No such worries yet however, if everthing works out the way she planned. Of course we all know that hardly ever does anything work out according to plan.

    This also helps to remind me of another spy on this ship from whom we haven't heard in a while. I used to like her a lot better than these guys and perchance she will have a role to play in all of this as well ...