Star Trek: Wolf

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Greysun, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. Greysun

    Greysun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    CHAPTER SIXTEEN

    "Any sign that it's alerted to our presence?" Stride asked. She hadn't even looked up at the giant Crystalline Entity on the Wolf's main viewer. Eddowes saw she was still working on something, inputting data using one of the command interfaces in her chair.
    "No, Sir," responded Eddowes, watching the Entity carefully on his sensor readout.
    "Is the Burroughs within sensor range yet?"
    "Negative," Saltridge replied. The USS Burroughs was the Ambassador class vessel Starfleet had sent to protect the Rehab Ring. "They will still be out of range for another three hours."
    "There's no way they'll stop it in time," Eddowes said, looking over at Stride. "At least some of the facility will be destroyed before they arrive."
    "Then we'll proceed," the Captain replied, still concentrating on her work. "Bring us up behind it, helm, keep a distance of no less than five hundred kilometers."
    The image of the Entity swelled on the viewer as the Wolf closed in. Stride was still tapping away on her command console. He tried to wait patiently, but when another ten minutes had gone by Eddowes couldn't take her silence anymore.
    "Captain, shall we power up the phaser lances?"
    "Negative, Mr. Eddowes."
    "A gravimetric torpedo, then," he deduced, nodding. "A single hit in the center at one quarter yield should more than suffice."
    "No, Commander," Stride replied evenly. "We don't want evidence of phasers or gravimetric torpedoes. This needs to be a clean kill. Steady as she goes."
    After what seemed like an eternity to Eddowes, the Captain finished what she was doing and looked up. She squinted and smirked as she inspected the Entity's shimmering, faceted structure.
    "You're right about it looking flimsy," she commented. "It's remarkable something so fragile in appearance can acquire the reputation of a planet-killer. Let's see how durable it really is. Helm, we'll need a three second decloaking window for this attack. Wait for my mark. Red alert."
    "Aye, Sir," responded the android.
    "May I ask what you intend to do, Captain?" Eddowes inquired.
    "Cutting it up with the phasers might lead to lots of little Entities," Stride speculated. "A gravimetric torpedo might leave behind traces that lead Starfleet to believe the Borg are operating near the Rehab Ring. Admiral Pressman would be very agitated if we caused a panic. When a Husnock is sent on an assassination mission, we make certain the target is absolutely demolished. That is what I intend to do here.
    "I have programmed a sequence that will unleash a complex graviton cascade at a very strong amplitude. The Wolf's Omega Triple Core will provide ample power to accomplish our kill. If my calculations are correct, this problem will be solved in the next thirty seconds."
    "Holding at precisely five hundred kilometers, Captain," reported the helm android.
    Her claw hovered above what Eddowes assumed was the activation key. She took one more look at the Entity, then glanced at Eddowes and winked.
    "Mark!"
    As soon as the Wolf materialized behind it, the Entity panicked and tried to attack, but it was too late. Stride's graviton cascade rained down from the Wolf and her carefully calculated harmonics pulverized the Entity instantly. Stride's assault was strong enough to vibrate the Wolf slightly just as their crystalline enemy disintegrated. A huge dust cloud erupted around them as the helm android reestablished the phasing cloak. Streamers of glittering crystal powder unfurled and scattered into normal space as the Entity's warp field collapsed.
    "Full stop," Stride ordered, sounding bored. "Any signs of recovery or survival?"
    "None whatsoever," stated Saltridge from tactical. "Your... solution was very thorough, Captain."
    "Excellent," Stride said. "A trivial mystery for the Burroughs crew to ponder when they finally get here. Resume course for Delta Rana 4. Mr. Eddowes, I have something to show you. Saltridge, take the con."
    The ship sped by the Rehab Ring as they maneuvered in an arc to get back on course. Eddowes could see the planet and its space stations on the Wolf's long range sensors. He thought of all the good that advanced hospital did, all the healing that took place there. He thought that the personnel stationed there must be very proud of what they did. He felt privileged to experience just a little sliver of that pride after having saved the Rehab Ring from certain doom.

    "Quite a victory," he remarked to Captain Stride as they took the turbolift.
    "Meh," she muttered, already having lost interest in what she thought of as a small errand. "A weak adversary, hardly worthy of our attention. If Starfleet Command would learn how to properly deploy its ships we wouldn't have been needed at all. But with them it's always the same story - no other ship in the sector..."
    "Still," persisted Eddowes. "You saved a lot of lives today, Captain."
    She didn't respond, lost in thought.
    "What do you intend to do when this is over?" he asked her suddenly. The question startled the Husnock out of her reverie and she turned to look at him.
    "What?"
    "Assuming you are able to defeat the Douwd somehow," Eddowes specified. "What then?"
    "After that... whatever the next mission is, I suppose," Stride replied. "There's always a threat to be eliminated, a dangerous destination to explore. That's why I agreed to become a Starfleet captain in the first place."
    "You're talking about following orders from Admiral Pressman," Eddowes said. "Executing missions that he plans. What would you like to do? If you weren't part of his secret fleet or pursuing your own goal of revenge, what would you want to do?"
    "Ship's Counselor Eddowes," Stride sneered, looking down at him with mild annoyance. "Are you trying to plumb the depths of my mind?"
    "I would never attempt such a thing with you," he assured her. "I'm no counselor, just a humble first officer. I was just wondering... there were times on the Geneva when we undertook some lengthy and hazardous missions. Crew members usually had plans or aspirations beyond those circumstances. I was wondering if you might be looking forward to anything."
    Her purple lips twitched and he thought the Captain was about to laugh in his face, but then she seemed to consider his question seriously.
    "All right," she said as the turbolift stopped. "If you are truly curious. I would like to return to Spilornis, if it still exists."
    "I thought Spilornis was destroyed by the Douwd," Eddowes said, surprised at her response.
    "No one really knows for sure," she answered. "My people were wiped out, yes, but I still hope that Spilornis itself survives. My planet is very distant, no one from Starfleet has ever gone to find out for sure. Our primary city is nestled inside the largest extinct volcano on our world, Lomar. The peaks of Lomar surround the flattened summit and stab upward like a gigantic set of claws into the misty sky."
    "I thought your people built underground facilities," Eddowes said.
    "Mostly, but we also had structures - like our launch complexes - in dead volcanoes. Long ago ancient Husnock built our greatest city, Olathoe, on a lava field in the center of the broad apex of Lomar. It felt like I was dwelling in the palm of a giant hand - a warm, protected feeling. The stars shone in all their splendor between those lofty peaks and the swirling disk of Pallas dominated the sky directly above. The eclipses and gleams were spectacular in Olathoe and many grand Husnock celebrations were held there.
    "When I survived the Interstellar Training Challenge - our version of your Starfleet Academy - my son visited me in my barracks at the Challenge Dome. I took him through the beautiful towers and vast gardens of the city and he marveled at what our ancestors had achieved. We feasted on meat from other worlds and heard stories of conquest from Husnock that had fought battles among the stars. I would like to climb Lomar and visit Olathoe one more time..."
    Eddowes noticed she had become distracted again, likely haunted by the memories of her planet and her child. He was about to ask her more questions about Spilornis when she shook her head and refocused on the present.
    "We have more a important objective to consider now," she stated abruptly, all sentiment now gone from her voice. "I've had Kelinda and Elgin working on something since we were stuck in that warp void, now it looks like we're ready to test it. Would you care to volunteer?"
    "Sure..." However Eddowes was anything but confident. "What does this test involve?"
     
  2. Greysun

    Greysun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

    Stride and Eddowes arrived at cargo bay one. This made Eddowes even more hesitant, bay one was used as Stride's staging area for experimental technology.
    "A simple test," she promised him as she opened the doors. Kelinda was busy inside, tending to a large piece of equipment. She made an adjustment and the machine responded with a deep thrumming sound.
    "What is this thing?" Eddowes asked.
    "We've constructed an Elway Inverter," Kelinda said. "It's a method for folded space transport. I was able to assemble a working unit from Federation records. There was a device on Rutia 4 that functioned fairly well. I obtained detailed schematics from when the authorities there dismantled it."
    "Why do we need this if we have a transporter?"
    "This is much better than a transporter," Stride said, strolling around behind the machine to examine it more closely. "The Elway Inverter is far more difficult to detect and now that it's connected to the Wolf's Omega Triple Core its range has been greatly extended."
    "Then why doesn't Starfleet replace transporters with Inverters?" Eddowes asked thoughtfully. "Think of the lives they could save - "
    "We built this for the Risen, Mr. Eddowes," Stride interrupted. "it's strictly for android use. Starfleet chose not to pursue the technology because it damages living DNA over time. I understand that the organic beings using it on Rutia 4 suffered painful deaths as a result. But that doesn't stop us from transporting androids with it. The Risen have no delicate double helix to bruise. Think of what a great advantage this device could be in combat! All we have to do now is test it on an android."
    "Where am I supposed to transport?" Eddowes asked, not liking the sound of this.
    "Not too far," Kelinda said. "Just up to the bridge and back for starters. If that works, we'll be in business. Here, put this on. The unit is preset for this test."
    She strapped a small device to his arm and showed him the controls. It seemed pretty straightforward to use, he just hoped it worked.
    "I've already run some basic tests with simple objects at short distances," Kelinda said, trying to make it sound safe. "We need an android, preferably one of the Risen, so Elgin can scan you and make certain you're not harmed by the process. Are you ready?"
    Eddowes decided it was better that Stride and Kelinda experiment on him instead of using Saltridge or Elgin. He nodded and the pair gave Eddowes some room, Kelinda scanning him with her tricorder.
    "Any time, Commander," Stride said impatiently. He wondered if this was his punishment for obeying Pressman and changing course.
    It didn't really matter at this point.
    He pressed the control strapped to his arm.
    There was a white flash and he appeared on the bridge, right in front of the main viewer. Saltridge nearly jumped out of the command chair, even the regular androids looked astonished. He grinned at them and activated the device again.
    There was the same white flash and he was right back where he started, in front of Stride and Kelinda. The Husnock was overjoyed, showering the Kelvan engineer with praise.
    "Absolutely brilliant," Stride gushed. "We need to integrate the device into each of the androids so there's no need for an external unit. Elgin can handle the control input upgrades, it should be a simple matter to implement the modification in all androids."
    "Saltridge to Eddowes."
    "Eddowes here."
    "What the hell was that?!"
    "Stand by, Saltridge," he said, chuckling a bit in spite of the risk he had just taken. "I'm all right. I'll explain everything later. Eddowes out."
    "How are you?" Kelinda asked Eddowes, looking him over. "Any signs of damage or a malfunction?"
    "I feel fine," he told them. "The transport seemed to work perfectly."
    "Report back to android repair," Stride ordered. "I want Elgin to run a scan of your matrix so we can make sure it hasn't been corrupted. Well done, Commander."
    He left the cargo bay, already depressed by the Elway Inverter's potential as a weapon. With that thing she could put a group of security androids wherever she needed them with virtually no resistance. He wondered if Admiral Pressman knew about Stride's Elway machine.

    "Welcome back, Commander," Elgin greeted Eddowes as he once again pushed past the collection of hanging body parts. "From what Captain Stride has told me, you'll be receiving a new modification after all."
    "It wasn't my idea," Eddowes told him dourly. "But I can see a use for it. Dimensional shifting definitely gives an android an edge when it comes to transport. Assuming I came through the experience unscathed."
    Elgin scanned Eddowes extensively, verifying his matrix had not been compromised by the Elway Inverter. After an hour of intensive study he declared Eddowes to be in perfect condition.
    "You're the first candidate for this upgrade," said Elgin, examining the internal Elway device he had replicated. "Please be sure to report anything unusual so I can correct any potential malfunctions."
    "After all the research that's been done and your own scans, you still have doubts?" Eddowes asked, concerned. He respected Elgin's technical abilities, he took any skepticism from the Vulcan very seriously.
    "Dimensional shifting is different from using a transporter," Elgin explained. "There are several known factors that can disrupt how a transporter functions. The method employed by the Elway Inverter leaves many more possibilities for... unexpected consequences. We will no doubt make new discoveries as we continue to use the technology. Now please look down, I need to access the area just below your anterior processing cluster."
    Eddowes bent his head forward and felt Elgin expertly pop open a panel at the back of his neck. There was a slight glitch in his vision and a momentary interruption of his hearing as the Elway device was installed. As Elgin shut the access panel Eddowes could sense the modification, he was able to activate a display in the visual field of his left eye. He saw a list of options and a blue targeting reticle similar to the one for his eye phaser.
    "Is the interface online?" Elgin asked. "Can you access the device? What do you see, Commander?"
    "A list of options and a special targeting reticle," he answered. "The first item reads TRANSFER."
    "That's the function we spoke about earlier today, facilitated by the Elway Inverter instead of the transporter," Elgin explained. "If you need to shift a target to another location choose that option and it will tie in with the eye phaser in your right eye. A stun burst from the phaser should disguise the dimensional opening to a degree."
    "The other two options are DESTINATION and ORIGIN. I guess those are fairly clear, I can input coordinates and shift myself from place to place."
    "Yes," Elgin confirmed, nodding. "Typically, your destination would be a planetary coordinate and it would store the origin as a location on the Wolf. If it's a location you've been to before, concentrate on it and the program should be able to establish coordinates automatically."
    "Impressive, Mr. Elgin," Eddowes commended him. "A very elegant interface."

    When the Wolf was within three days of Rana 4, Stride insisted on Eddowes being present at her strategy meetings.
    "I don't have anything to offer when it comes to defeating an energy being," Eddowes complained.
    "As First Officer, you need to be fully briefed on all ship activities," Stride admonished him. "I'll need your support during my attack."
    Eddowes didn't enjoy imagining that at all. Based on the reports he had read any conventional assault against the Douwd would be suicide, but he agreed to attend anyway.

    They convened in cargo bay one around the Elway Inverter - Kelinda, Elgin, Chapman and the hapless Eddowes. Kelinda was still scanning it and making adjustments when Stride arrived.
    "Excellent, everyone is here," she observed, nodding at Eddowes. "We've been working on the technological aspects of this mission for the last couple of weeks and there has been some magnificent progress. The Elway Inverter becoming operational is going to be a critical benefit for us."
    "You intend to launch a surprise attack on the Douwd?" Eddowes asked. "Can a creature like that really be surprised?"
    "I think so," said Kelinda. "After all, it was afraid of being detected by a half-Betazoid that wasn't even a real telepath."
    "The reports show that it was surprised, repeatedly," Elgin added. "The Douwd was unaware of the Enterprise arriving in orbit on at least two occasions. They were even able to beam the Douwd up to their ship before it could react."
    "I saw that too," Eddowes said. "But after that it could teleport freely through the ship and back to the planet. There was nothing the crew could do to stop it."
    "True enough," admitted Stride. "But the details of my plan go further than a simple transport. I have been doing some research and I think I've found a method for dealing with this Kevin Uxbridge. Now that the Elway Inverter is operational, Kelinda and Elgin believe it is possible to proceed with my plan..."
    When he was a kid growing up on Earth, Allan Eddowes' brother David Eddowes was one of those kids that enjoyed making trouble. One of his favorite things to do was read the warnings printed on the side of a product and deliberately do what it said not to do. As a result, there were fires, clouds of noxious smoke and the occasional small explosion in the back yard of the Eddowes household. Luckily, no one was ever harmed.
    As he listened to Captain Stride's plan, she reminded him of David. The difference was that her ideas were far, far more deadly than anything his brother had ever dreamed up in the back yard. Mixing two products together to create a raging, foamy fountain of goo was one thing. Stride's suggestion turned out to be more on par with mixing matter and antimatter without a warp core to contain it.
    "I am aware of your concerns and the high level of difficulty in dealing with Mr. Uxbridge," Stride said. "I do take your opinion seriously. We're up against an intelligence that wiped out my species, after all. I've read a plethora of reports dating back over a hundred years from dozens of different Starfleet captains. One lesson from what I've read is that most of these so-called higher beings have a weakness that can be exploited."
    "What do you think is Kevin Uxbridge's weakness?" Eddowes asked, skeptical as ever.
    "His alleged pacifism," Stride answered, the Husnock contempt for pacifism bringing a scowl to her face. "He claimed repeatedly that he won't fight or kill."
    "Great, except we know he already broke that vow," Eddowes pointed out. "In my estimation this thing is too unpredictable. What's to stop him from killing us all as soon as he sees us? What if he gets rid of us without killing us? He could teleport us to some deserted planet or he could push the Wolf into another galaxy - if you believe what's in the report."
    "Possible," Stride conceded. "Trying to fight him on my terms presents some definite challenges. That's why I intend to employ what you humans might refer to as a ringer."
    "I'm not familiar with that term," Elgin said.
    "A proxy fighter," clarified Kelinda, sitting down next to him. "Someone qualified to fight this being on the Captain's behalf."
    "Who?" demanded Eddowes, mystified. "The only beings we know of that could possibly oppose Uxbridge aren't going to do us any favors and we certainly don't have the leverage to force them into a fight on Rana."
    "We won't bring our ringer to Rana and he need not agree to help us," Stride explained. "I intend to send an enormous power surge into the Elway Inverter from the Omega Triple Core. Using the targeting capabilities installed in one of the security androids, I will open a dimensional shift that transports Mr. Uxbridge to a specific spot on the planet Vagra 2. Kelinda is certain we have enough power to accomplish this, Vagra 2 is close enough to Delta Rana. The hardest part will be getting Uxbridge through the dimensional opening, after that we'll see what he can do."
    "Wait," Eddowes said, horrified at what Stride had planned. "I've seen the mission report on Vagra 2! That's crazy... Captain. For one thing I doubt the Wolf could power the Elway machine sufficiently to reach another star system. Even if it can - why do you intend to dump Uxbridge into the middle of the Armus creature? What will that achieve?"
    "One possibility - and this is what I am hoping - is that Uxbridge will be destroyed by Armus," Stride replied. "If that isn't possible, I think that once he is mired in that slimy pool he won't find it so easy to just teleport away. The energy field produced by Armus is very strong, perhaps the Douwd can be imprisoned."
    "What if the two entities merge to create something worse than either of them?" Eddowes wondered, aghast at the idea. "Something more powerful that can leave Vagra 2 and menace other Federation planets? You're talking about uniting a purely malevolent being with a genocidal teleporter!"
    "I don't believe a merger is likely," Stride said. "But I think subjecting the Douwd to an attack from Armus is the best chance for victory. Does anyone have a better idea?"
    "Mr. Eddowes' concerns are logical, if speculative," Elgin chimed in. "It is impossible to foresee the myriad of potential consequences resulting from your proposed strategy, Captain. However, the outcome is bound to be destructive on many levels."
    "How will you know your attack is successful?" asked Kelinda. "The Douwd could influence your mind before you have time to spring your trap."
    "That's why Mr. Chapman is here," Stride said confidently. "Between my anti-telepathy implants, my Talosian escort and my crew of androids I think I will be able to see through some of Uxbridge's tricks. As you said, Uxbridge feared a simple half-Betazoid. A Talosian far outclasses a Betazoid any day."
    "He's not going to go quietly," Eddowes said. "Even if this scheme with Armus and the Inverter works, he's going to resist. Maybe he'll abandon his pacifism again and launch a counterattack against us. We'll need a lot more than just Breen disruptors and phasers to protect ourselves."
    "I have finished something that might help," Kelinda said, going to retrieve a long, heavy metal device from a nearby work station. "Happy birthday, Captain!"
    She presented the object to a surprised Stride. Eddowes could tell the humor of the Kelvan's birthday joke was lost on the Husnock, but the gift was appreciated. Her reaction was what caught him off guard - her expression showed nostalgic wonder, something he had never seen from her before.
    The contoured metal cylinder was shaped to slide over Stride's forearm up to the elbow, the end terminating in a flared appendage featuring three sharp spikes. In the center of those spikes was a recessed muzzle for an energy weapon of some sort, that end glowed red as she activated it. Its appearance reminded Eddowes of a medieval mace. The whole thing was almost twice as big as a phaser rifle but the Captain handled it with ease, lifting her arm over her head to execute a practice swing.
    "What is it?" asked Eddowes.
    "A Husnock Grave Digger," Stride whispered as she looked it over. "I never dreamed I would see one again. It's useful as a melee weapon, good for crushing reinforced or armored skulls, but it is also an outstanding energy weapon. It fires rapid bursts of jacketed antiprotons, a more effective weapon than Starfleet phasers. It takes a lot of capacity to power one, but the result is worth it. I just didn't expect you to replicate one in such detail... you did a brilliant job, Kelinda."
    "You provided very detailed design specs," the Kelvan said, smiling in pride. "I've been working on it since you first mentioned it in the warp void. Some of the metals were difficult to acquire, but I managed to get what I needed. I had to charge it down in engineering at one of the Triple Core access points, but it should be ready for duty."
    "Even an energy being might have trouble with a weapon of this nature," Elgin hypothesized.
    "It might at that," agreed Stride, admiring the instrument of death on her arm. "Unless anyone has something to add, I intend to go forward."
    Eddowes said nothing, picturing a battalion of rampaging Husnock shock troops bearing weapons like the one Stride now admired. The Federation would have been very hard pressed to repel an invasion from creatures like that. He shook his head a little and looked around at his colleagues.
    The room was silent except for the low hum of the Inverter. Captain Stride's sharp yellow eyes watched them intently as they absorbed the implications of what she was planning. Eddowes had expected she would proceed regardless of any criticism she heard. What filled him with dread was how drastically he had underestimated her. The plan he had heard was beyond reckless, beyond insanity, it was... something a Husnock would come up with.
    She dismissed them and he left for his quarters, even more certain the ship and crew were destined for a horrible fate. What would Uxbridge do to them when they intruded on his privacy? He had lost control of his temper once before and Eddowes hated to think what would happen... in just three days.
    He resolved to spend as much time with Susan Saltridge as he could before they arrived.
     
  3. Greysun

    Greysun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

    Given the reputed powers of Uxbridge, Eddowes wondered if the Wolf would even be allowed to enter the Delta Rana star system. He watched the sensor readouts at his station intently as they passed by the dead outer planets surrounding the system. His long range scans of the fourth world revealed nothing except the warning buoy signal. The orbiting satellite left by the Enterprise informed any visitor that they were forbidden to beam down. It also said that Starfleet Command would be automatically informed of any ship that violated the quarantine.
    Captain Stride leaned forward as they entered orbit around the devastated former Federation colony. She stared intently at the barren surface beneath them, her tail curved over her shoulder. Eddowes wondered if she felt as nervous as he did, if a Husnock felt fear at all. Other than ordering a high orbit around Rana 4 when they entered the system she had been uncharacteristically quiet.
    "There!" she exclaimed suddenly, causing Eddowes to jump. He looked up at the viewer and saw a tiny patch of green just rolling into view on the planet's horizon. He didn't need the old reports to tell him this must be where the Douwd was living. He was unsure how Stride would begin implementing her plan.
    "Shall we prepare for an orbital attack, Captain?" he asked hesitantly.
    "That approach didn't work out very well for the last Husnock that came to Rana," she reminded him. "We could never be sure the destruction we witnessed was real. Not from up here."
    "A strike force of security androids then?"
    "Perhaps at some point," she answered slowly, rising from her chair. "First I will take a small landing party with me to Mr. Uxbridge's house. I'll need Mr. Chapman, Mr. Shmuuth, a couple of security androids and you."
    "Me?" Eddowes was shocked. "Why do you need me? You already know my opinion of this mission, Captain, perhaps - "
    "Walk with me, Commander," she invited him with a swipe of her claw. "Saltridge, take command. Wait for my signal and be ready - Kelinda will likely need all the power this ship can muster. I may also require reinforcements, be ready with a squad of androids if I need them. If we don't return in six hours report back to Admiral Pressman on Exo 3. Maintain yellow alert and, of course, keep the Wolf cloaked."
    Saltridge gave Eddowes a look of deep concern as he walked away with Captain Stride and entered the turbolift. He wanted to say something to her, tell her again that he loved her, but the bridge wasn't the best place for a heartfelt goodbye.
    Despite the limited space in the turbolift, Stride was able to turn and look Eddowes directly in the face. Her tone was very tense, he assumed the memory of her son must be haunting her even more now that they were finally at Rana.
    "I want my number one officer beside me for this fight, Mr. Eddowes," she said. "To me, this is the most important mission the Wolf will ever undertake. I know your objections, and there's a good possibility you're exactly right about everything. But that's why I want you along, for your point of view. I may need advice as the battle develops. Most importantly, you're better at keeping a cool head than I am."
    Eddowes smiled a bit at that huge understatement, but what she said actually gave him some dim hope. Maybe he could influence the upcoming situation to arrive at a less violent conclusion than what she had planned.
    "I still don't agree that this will accomplish anything," he warned her. "But I will stand with you, Captain."
    She nodded in approval and smiled, her interlocking fangs looking more fierce than friendly.

    They arrived at the transporter room to find Shmuuth, Chapman and two security androids dutifully waiting for them. An android cradling the Husnock Grave Digger in its arms stood patiently next to the transporter pad. Stride grabbed it and pushed her arm inside, powering the weapon up. She glared at the reluctant Shmuuth and pointed to the transporter - he grudgingly took his place there. Since Shmuuth knew nothing of Stride's plan he was just his usual nervous self. Eddowes thought that if the Yridian really knew what was going on he'd be driven insane with terror.
    "Set these coordinates," Stride instructed the transporter room android. "Stride to Saltridge."
    "Saltridge here."
    "We'll need to decloak for a few seconds in order to transport," Stride said as she double checked the coordinates that had been input. "Make certain that warning buoy has set well below the horizon, I don't want the Wolf to be detected."
    "Acknowledged."
    "Why is Mr. Shmuuth part of the away team, Captain?" asked Eddowes. He could think of no contribution Shmuuth could make that would help them defeat a super-being like Uxbridge.
    "Since we'll no doubt be subjected to mental attacks, I thought an unprotected organic control subject might be useful," she replied, getting on the transporter pad.
    "What?" cried Shmuuth, alarmed. Any further hysterics were cut short by Saltridge's voice on the com.
    "We're in the clear, Captain, the buoy is out of range."
    "Decloak and energize," ordered Stride.
    The android at the transporter controls sent them down before any more objections could be voiced.
     
  4. Greysun

    Greysun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    CHAPTER NINETEEN

    They materialized on a lush green lawn during what appeared to be a serene summer day. About a hundred yards in the distance Eddowes saw this pleasant environment abruptly end. Beyond that stark perimeter was a dismal, blasted landscape of shattered rock and scorched ground. Even though the attack had occurred years ago, he saw absolutely no sign of recovery. The only apparent life was contained in the square where they stood.
    "That Husnock warship was very thorough," Eddowes observed, overwhelmed by the extent of the devastation.
    "When it came to dealing with invaders, yes we were," Stride agreed grimly. "This world was on the edge of our territory, humans had no business here."
    Eddowes was about to mention that the Federation had no idea they were encroaching on Husnock territory, but his thought was interrupted.
    "This is amazing!" Shmuuth proclaimed, overjoyed. It was the first time in months he had been in a place that wasn't either frozen or a starship. Clearly, the Douwd's powers were very effective on their organic control subject. However, Stride's illusion expert was quick to contradict Shmuuth.
    "None of this is real," rasped Chapman, taking a position just off of Stride's right elbow. "I can only see through parts of the construct. But it is extremely impressive. What we have here isn't pure illusion... it's something much more."
    The Talosian almost seemed enthused. Eddowes reached out and touched a nearby tree branch, finding the texture was absolutely genuine. The fragrance of flowering plants was in the air, he could make out honeysuckle and jasmine.
    "I thought androids were supposed to see through illusions," Eddowes said uneasily.
    "This being was already able to fool the android on the Enterprise with his powers," Stride said. "While he does possess extreme mental abilities, I think what he creates is more like a holodeck. My implants are unable to let me see through this creation as well, even with Mr. Chapman's protection."
    "Captain, I don't believe - " Chapman's hoarse voice was cut off by Shmuuth's wavering cry of dismay.
    He had wandered ahead of the group and triggered a trap concealed in the grass. His foot was snared in a thin cable mounted on a telescoping poll that heaved him into the air. He slammed against the supporting post as his inverted body swung wildly.
    "So much for stealth," sighed Eddowes, shaking his head.
    "We'll need to move quickly now," snarled Stride. She lashed out with her tail and severed the cable holding Shmuuth aloft, sending his body thumping into the turf. "Keep up, Shmuuth!"
    The Husnock sprinted to the house, her determination stronger than ever. Captain Stride punched the Uxbridge's front door with her Grave Digger, smashing it off the hinges. The rest of the party followed a short distance behind her as she stomped inside. Any obstacle in her way - like the Uxbridge's furniture and belongings - was swept aside or bashed into rubble.
    Stride's forced entry had frightened an elderly lady that had been coming to the door, no doubt intending to investigate the ruckus in her front yard. She retreated into the living room area, backing away as Stride advanced.
    "Kevin!" she screamed in horror.
    Eddowes was about to try and reassure her, but he couldn't think of what to say. Telling her they meant no harm was ridiculous, asking her not to be afraid was laughable.
    "Stop right there!" An elderly man rushed out from another room and stood in front of the lady. "You only get to kill her once, beast!"
    Stride halted and pointed her Grave Digger at the man, her eyes squeezing down into golden slits of hate. Her quarry had appeared at last - but to Eddowes' surprise the Captain hesitated.
    "I never killed her at all," she retorted.
    "And if you had been here then?" the man prompted her. "On that warship?"
    "I would have acted in accordance with the laws of my people," Stride stated defiantly, her tail whipping out to shatter a curio cabinet behind her.
    "Death to all," stated the man with obvious contempt.
    "Death to all," Stride repeated, using the Husnock slogan without shame.
    The two foes regarded each other for a moment and Eddowes thought he could actually feel the heat of their mutual malice as he stood there. He'd expected the Douwd to be more impressive, given what he had learned about the powerful being. All he saw was a thin old man that sounded as if he had a cold.
    "You, uh, must be Mr. Uxbridge," he finally managed. "Commander Allan Eddowes of the starship Wolf."
    He stepped forward to shake Uxbridge's hand but stopped himself when the man's outraged gaze shifted to him.
    "Your behavior bewilders me, Commander," Uxbridge declared. "You find the one Husnock in the galaxy that miraculously survived and decide to bring it here? Are you in the grip of some sort of madness!? I thought you humans had more sense... no... wait... you're not even a real human. What is going on here?"
    Uxbridge closed his eyes and extended his hand for a couple of seconds, then he recoiled as if struck.
    "Having trouble with your telepathic probe?" Stride inquired with a half smile.
    "Your telepathy is most powerful," Chapman commended him. "But I think the Captain would prefer you stay out of her mind."
    "I can push a lot harder than that, Talosian," Uxbridge threatened. "Hard enough to fry that big head of yours like an egg."
    "Kevin, who are these people?" asked his wife, tears streaming down her face. "Why have they come here? What are they talking about?"
    "Haven't you ever recounted your great victory to the ghost of your wife?" Stride asked, ridiculing him.
    The old man looked down for a moment, then his wife vanished like smoke.
    "What is it you want from me, Husnock?" the Douwd demanded.
    "I would like to tear you apart and eat you," Stride answered coldly, her tongue running along her fangs. "But since you are not true flesh my vengeance will have to take some other form."
    "I'm not proud of what I did," Uxbridge muttered. "But if the Husnock had not come to Rana, they would all still be alive."
    Stride growled and seized the Uxbridge's coffee table, hurling it through one of the windows. She picked up a beautiful antique vase of roses and crushed it in front Uxbridge's face; the broken stems poking out from between her fingers as water dribbled on the floor. The Douwd had no reaction as the Captain continued to wreck his home. Eddowes had no doubt he could fix it all with a mere thought.
    Infuriated by his calm reserve, she swung the Grave Digger over her head to clobber the old man, but Eddowes took the risk of placing his hand on her heavily muscled arm. Despite the situation looking hopeless, he still hoped to avoid seeing Stride go on a full rampage.
    "Captain," he advised in a reasonable tone. "There's no point in physical violence here. Don't get distracted..."
    She actually took a deep breath for a second and got control of herself, her purple lips pressing tightly together. Kevin Uxbridge looked on with obvious distaste, his expression clearly showing no fear of his Husnock accuser.
    "It is fortunate for the Gorn," Stride remarked after a moment. "That you didn't decide to take up residence on Cestus 3."
    "What is this thing talking about?" Uxbridge asked Eddowes, becoming exasperated.
    "An incident from almost a century ago," Eddowes explained, seeing Stride's point. "The Gorn thought that the Federation colony on Cestus 3 was an invasion force. They destroyed the colony without mercy and lured a starship there with the intent of ambushing it. A war might have started as a result, if the Metrons hadn't put a stop to it."
    "They intervened without exterminating either race," Stride noted, looking down at Uxbridge. "Even though they had the power to do so. Perhaps they're more enlightened than you are, Douwd!"
    "I'll not be lectured on morality by a savage Husnock brute!" scoffed Uxbridge. "I am a being of special conscience and I don't answer to the likes of you!"
    "I read you've lived in our galaxy for centuries, Mr. Special Conscience," Stride responded. "Is that information accurate?"
    "Yes, not that it's any of your business - "
    "Did you live on worlds in what we call the Delta quadrant?"
    "Of course, but - "
    "You lived among many different species, yes? People who thought you were a beloved friend, maybe even family?"
    Uxbridge said nothing, but his indignant stare rose to meet the vertical slits in Stride's yellow eyes. Their gazes locked together as she continued.
    "Were any of those worlds you lived on ever assimilated by the Borg?"
    His icy silence was all the answer she needed.
    "Did you wipe out the Borg Collective for what they did, or did you stand back and watch? You just moved on, didn't you, a parasitic chameleon seeking out another convenient world. You never even tried to save anyone, right?"
    "I... didn't interfere..." stammered Uxbridge. "I will not kill, even when it comes to the Borg."
    "You did kill, don't deny it," insisted Stride, pointing her Grave Digger at him. "You killed all of my people along with my son. But you made a grievous error and missed me. Now I've come back from Borg enslavement, across the galaxy - to find you."
    "You escaped the Collective just to waste the rare gift of a second chance on revenge," remarked Uxbridge with revulsion. "Typical, shortsighted Husnock behavior. From where I stand, you don't have the right to judge me. You're just an evil, ferocious animal."
    "You're a hypocrite and a liar! The genocide you wrought cancels out your earnest claims of being a pacifist. At least I'm honest and open about what I am," Stride pointed a finger at the Douwd. "Claiming a higher morality when you're nothing more than a coward is what's truly pathetic in my estimation. Hiding here on Rana in this fantasy you've created. How convenient for you - you don't have to live with the loss of a loved one like the rest of us. You can deny death, cheat it."
    "That's not what I'm doing here!" retorted Uxbridge indignantly. "This is - "
    "Wallowing in self pity," Stride finished for him.
    "Your continuing existence is an affront to my wife's memory," the Douwd said bitterly.
    "Your presence on this world is an insult to my entire race!" Stride roared.
    The Captain sent a mental command to her two security androids and they closed in, flanking the Douwd as they brought their disruptors to bear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  5. Dulak

    Dulak Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Not ignoring your posts, just give me a bit to read, and I'll give you my thoughts.
     
  6. Greysun

    Greysun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    CHAPTER TWENTY

    Mr. Chapman backed away as the situation unraveled, the Talosian hadn't signed up for a fight to the death. Shmuuth was already edging toward the front door. He hadn't gotten to the point of fleeing just yet - he feared what Stride would do if she survived the encounter and found out he deserted her. But as the Captain's androids closed in he was increasingly worried about being caught in a crossfire between the Douwd, android disruptors and the Husnock Grave Digger.
    "Your toys don't frighten me, fiend," Uxbridge said scornfully. He held up his hand and the two androids glowed briefly before they blew apart into clouds of fine ash.
    "Very peaceful," Stride mocked.
    "I've killed no one," Uxbridge protested. "You're just a barbaric creature commanding hollow machines. Now I'm telling you - leave this world and never return."
    "Stride to Saltridge."
    "Saltridge here."
    "Send down some more security androids. Tell Kelinda to stand by."
    Uxbridge laughed at her, even as twelve more androids materialized in a circle around him, disruptors at the ready. To his dismay, Eddowes saw Saltridge had come to lead the reinforcements herself. Susan already had her eye phaser open, making her a prime target for the powerful Douwd. Uxbridge looked amused as he leisurely blasted the androids into gray dust one at a time, showing them how overmatched they were.
    Saltridge looked relieved when she saw Eddowes was still intact. He briefly felt a warm wave of pleasure from knowing that she had come intending to rescue him before Uxbridge could send them all to some hideous fate. He wondered if Uxbridge had figured out that Eddowes still possessed a real human consciousness, he hoped the Douwd's reluctance to kill would extend to the Risen. As the confrontation got worse, he doubted it.
    "Is this the best you can do?" the Douwd taunted. "Fake Starfleet officers backed up by fake Breen? I'm disappointed in the mighty Husnock!"
    "Let him have it!" Stride screamed in rage. The security androids opened fire on their target. Saltridge's phaser beam speared forth from her head and struck the elderly man in the center of his chest. Eddowes felt he had no choice but to join in and fired as well.
    Uxbridge staggered back a bit under this sudden onslaught, then he started disintegrating more security androids. Stride arched her tail and fired back with her Reducer, engulfing their target in a blaze of white light. Eddowes was briefly fooled into thinking she was successful, a small white shape did condense down to the floor, but Uxbridge's figure started to coalesce behind it almost immediately. Compressing his human disguise wasn't enough to stop the Douwd, it only caused a temporary delay in his retaliation.
    But the Captain saw it a fleeting opportunity to try and gain the upper hand.
    "Stride to Kelinda - now!"
    The Captain used the Elway device on one of her last remaining androids to open the dimensional shift to Vagra 2 directly behind Uxbridge as he reassembled himself.
    "Maintain it as long as you can!" Stride ordered. "Full power to the Inverter!"
    The air in the house was being rapidly sucked through the dimensional opening, sending all manner of objects flying in a turbulent whirlwind around them. Only two security androids remained and one of them was partly disintegrated. Saltridge kept firing with her eye phaser but the beam had little, if any, effect. Despite being constantly bombarded, Uxbridge had nearly finished rebuilding his body.
    Captain Stride opened fire with her Grave Digger, spraying a blinding burst of high velocity red streaks into Uxbridge. The weapon reminded Eddowes of a shotgun, it created a wide cone of destruction that would have been enough to gun down a whole squad of enemy soldiers. Stride altered the Grave Digger's output to a tighter pattern, hammering the Douwd relentlessly. The more focused antiproton attack gouged through the floor into the dirt below and shook the house around them while the windows behind Uxbridge melted. The furniture closest to him burst into white-hot flames as it was incinerated.
    Even though their target was partly obscured by acrid black smoke, Eddowes could see he his body was now fully restored. Despite the combination of phasers, disruptors and Stride's Grave Digger that had been brought against him, he still seemed completely unharmed. The look on his face was confident again as he defied Stride's ceaseless attempts to destroy him. The last of the security androids crumbled into dust. Eddowes assumed he and Saltridge would be the next androids sent into oblivion by Uxbridge. He tried to get closer to Susan's position, still hoping for a possible escape.
    That was when he saw it - a black film oozing through the dimensional opening. It seized the Douwd's feet and his self-assured expression faltered. Stride backed up, trying to keep herself clear of the expanding oily pool as the atmosphere in the house became a fiery typhoon that made her feathers ripple wildly around her head. The few remaining windows in the Uxbridge home finally succumbed to the immense pressure change and imploded, adding more shards of glass to the maelstrom around them. Stride didn't let up for an instant, her Grave Digger casting a hellish crimson glow on the chaotic surroundings as she kept firing. The Husnock weapon now seemed to be causing Uxbridge some pain as the black substance strengthened it's grip on him.
    Despite the flying glass and searing flames, no cuts or burns were inflicted on anyone. The house began to soften and blur, its contents became vague shapes floating through the smoky air. The black fluid had managed to encase half of Uxbridge's body and he was being pulled inexorably into the portal. The Douwd became luminous, radiating energy as he desperately tried to teleport. Stride's weapon seemed to hinder his frantic efforts to escape; it was evident to Eddowes that the black substance was eroding Uxbridge's defenses. His radiant form began to look cloudy and dim as the black slime enveloped more of his body. Eddowes and Saltridge continued to back up their Captain with phaser fire. Chapman and Shmuuth had already run from the house. Eddowes thought they would probably have to beam back to the Wolf as the environment around them continued to fall apart. It seemed the Douwd was finally abandoning his cherished illusion.
    "Cursed... Husnock... brute!" Uxbridge howled as he was pulled deeper into the dimensional shift. He struggled fiercely to free himself, trying to rally his powers and shafts of light struck out haphazardly. Eddowes thought the Douwd was trying to strike them down before he was pulled through to Vagra 2. Stride thought the same thing, shouting a last order at Eddowes while she stood just outside the black pool.
    "Get out of here, Mr. Eddowes!" she hollered, still blasting Uxbridge with her Grave Digger. "Phasers are no use here! There's nothing more you can do!"
    "RISHON!!" the Douwd shrieked as he fell back into the dimensional opening.
    Eddowes knew better than to ask Captain Stride to join them in escaping. She would stand against her enemy for as long as it took, regardless of the consequences. Eddowes closed his eye phaser, grabbed Susan's arm and initiated his Elway device. The last view he had was the spectral outline of the ruined Uxbridge home vanishing in a blinding blast of light.
     
  7. Greysun

    Greysun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

    Allan Eddowes found himself in a warm, humid jungle.
    Susan was next to him, he released his grip on her arm.
    "Where... are we?" she asked him. "Could this be an illusion? Some sort of Douwd trick?"
    "I don't think so," replied Eddowes. "There wouldn't be any reason for it. Why fool us? The two of us didn't pose any real threat to him and even if we did - why create this? What would be the point?"
    "Saltridge to Wolf."
    No response.
    "Eddowes to Wolf," he frowned. "I'm not even picking up their encrypted signal."
    "What if the ship was destroyed by Uxbridge to eliminate the Elway Inverter?"
    He didn't know what to say to that so he just shrugged and shook his head. They walked aimlessly until there was a break in the leafy canopy above them. Eddowes and Saltridge looked up and saw a double sunset.
    "Hmmm, a binary system," Eddowes mumbled.
    "Do you know where we are?" Saltridge asked hopefully.
    "It shouldn't be possible..." hope began to build within Eddowes as he formed a theory. "But when we were in the middle of that battle and things got really bad there just before we left - I was thinking of Risa."
    "Risa?"
    "As a place I'd rather be," Eddowes admitted sheepishly. "I guess I was still thinking that when I activated the Elway device. It must have extrapolated coordinates from my mind, overriding the Wolf coordinates I had input manually. Elgin mentioned something like that was possible. The desire to be here got to be pretty strong when I thought Uxbridge was about to turn us both into ash heaps."
    "You think it could really transport us over such a enormous distance?" she asked skeptically. "How could that be?"
    "The Captain had Kelinda channel all the ship's power into the Inverter," he reminded her. "It worked when she tried to establish a dimensional shift to Vagra 2."
    "But Risa is a lot farther away from Rana than that!"
    "If Uxbridge's portal collapsed at the same time I activated ours, all that energy in the Elway system had to go somewhere," Eddowes guessed. "Our dimensional shift could have been greatly amplified by what was suddenly available to the Inverter. It could have been enough to get us to Risa."
    The warm breeze brought the sound of waves gently lapping on a nearby beach. Birds flew overhead under the twin suns. When he was a living human, Eddowes had spent four shore leaves on Risa. It was a vacation destination that he had enjoyed very much.
    "What do we do now?" wondered Saltridge. "We should probably send a subspace signal to Admiral Pressman. He'll want to know what happened on Rana. He can also send a ship to pick us up. Maybe the Wolf will come for us, I left Elgin in command."
    "Not so fast," Eddowes cautioned. "First, we don't really know what happened after we left. If Captain Stride survived then the Wolf will return to Exo 3 intact and she can file a report herself. If not... then the Wolf could possibly become another lost Starfleet vessel, depending on how widespread the destruction was on Delta Rana 4.
    "We also should not be sending subspace messages to a secret base from a place like Risa. Pressman wouldn't want to risk arousing curiosity about his activities on Exo 3. After all we've been through I have just one idea - I think we should find a resort that rents beach houses."
    "What?" Saltridge asked, confused. "You intend to just stay here?"
    "Sure, why not?" Eddowes replied, feeling more certain about his decision as he took in the tropical surroundings. "If they want to find us I'm sure they will track us down eventually. Until then, I intend to blend in with the rest of the vacation crowd and enjoy this. It's the first nice place I've been since I awoke at Wolf 359."
    "But, don't you want to know what happened?" Saltridge asked, incredulous. "What if you were right and Stride's plan created some new monster?"
    "If that's what happened, could the two of us stop it?" he asked her.
    "I suppose not," she admitted. "But we have a duty. If the Captain - "
    "Compared with the other crimes we've been involved with since we joined the Wolf, taking some unscheduled leave is a very small offense," he said. "If Captain Stride defeated the Douwd and managed to claw her way back to the Wolf, I'm sure she can get along without us just fine. Honestly, after everything we've been through, I don't really care what ultimately happened on Delta Rana 4. All I can say for sure is that I'm not going to waste this opportunity. Come with me."
    They found the shoreline and followed its sandy contours to a villa that rented small beach houses. It was evening by then and no one was around except the caretaker, an elderly Denobulan man sitting at a desk looking bored.
    "What can I do for you folks?" he asked as they entered.
    "Is anyone staying in that little yellow house?" Eddowes inquired. "The last one in the row?"
    "No, sir," the caretaker replied. "That unit is available. If you'd like to reserve it, I'll just need some information - "
    "Here is our information," Saltridge said, stepping forward. She held out her arm and the Caretaker's expression became one of surprise as her hand split open to reveal the neural neutralizer. Flickering green light played over his face as it went slack and wide-eyed. "That unit is ours. You don't need to see any credentials or receive any payment. Everything is all taken care of."
    "Everything is all taken care of," he repeated, nodding.
    "We can go right in," Susan suggested.
    "You can go right in," he agreed.
    "You want to take a nap now."
    The neutralizer retracted and her arm closed. The Caretaker returned to his desk, leaned back and closed his eyes. Eddowes and Saltridge walked down to their beach house to relax and change out of their camouflage uniforms. Eddowes replicated some drinks for them and walked out to a modest deck that faced the peaceful ocean.
    "How long do you think it will be before one of Pressman's agents finds us?" Saltridge asked as they each took a deck chair. A small table with a horga'hn on it stood between them. He turned to look at Saltridge and smiled.
    "I hope they never do," Eddowes answered, taking her hand.