The Star Eagle Adventures: QD3 - Uncertainty Principle

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CeJay, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Okay... so this Matt is a bit of a drama queen. He could have said "The Jem'Hadar are coming!" instead of 3 minutes of vague warnings about "we're all gonna die!" This family of strangers just keeps getting stranger with each incarnation...

    Great chapter name, btw.

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  2. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    So, I'm thinking that Matt might be mixed up with Jem'Hadar in some way or has some hidden knowledge that is yet to be revealed. There's more to this than meets the eye.

    But now with Jem'Hadar soldiers arriving, it seems everyone is screwed. Can't wait to see how our heroes get out of this new jam. Let's get that next chapter up!
     
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  3. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    8


    There hadn’t been much time to come up with a plan, there hadn’t been much time to do anything as the Dominion contingent had started to make a beeline for the building Michael and the others found themselves in the moment they had materialized.

    “Hide,” Matthew urged in near panic after he had finally gotten back to his feet and fearfully watched the heavily armed Jem’Hadar soldiers closing in. “All of you, hide.”

    Michael couldn’t think of a better option, either. With Nora and her team gone, they were seriously outmanned and outgunned, and taking on over half a dozen Jem’Hadar soldiers would have been a tough task even if the numbers had been equal.

    Frobisher rushed them into a room that ran adjacent to the workshop. It had a wide grate that allowed them to spy into the workshop without being detected.

    Not a moment after they had closed the door behind them, the Jem’Hadar entered the workshop.

    “Countless universes in quantum reality and we seem to keep landing in one hot mess after the next,” Lif Culsten said quietly. “Why can’t we end up in a universe where everybody just gets along?”

    “I’ve long since learned that the universes gravitate towards chaos,” Garla responded, keeping her voice just a low.

    “You’d know.”

    She just glared at him in response.

    Michael watched the Jem’Hadar carefully and found that they looked practically identical to the ones they had fought for almost two years and which would forever be linked to one of the darkest periods of his life when he had lost both a close friend and colleague as well as Jana, the first woman he had ever truly loved.

    Michael tried hard to compartmentalize those feelings, although this was getting more and more difficult with the person who wore the face of the man who had killed his brother cowering less than a meter next to him. He spared a brief thought at the odd cruelty of fate before he committed himself to focus his entire attention on what was happening in the workshop.

    “Matthew, it is so good to see you again.”

    “Kilana,” Matt said to the beaming Vorta who had followed the first Jem’Hadar. An attractive female, by human standards, she wore her long chestnut hair down and passed her shoulders but not covering her long upward sweeping ears complete with pendulous earrings. Her colorful tunic was formfitting with a plunging neckline more befitting a dinner date than a work function, which this seemed to be.

    “They know each other?” Frobisher whispered in surprise and a little too loudly.

    Michael hushed him. There wasn’t much separating them from the workshop and the last thing he needed was for them to draw their attention.

    “What are you doing here?” Matthew said, sounding somewhat exasperated and Michael couldn’t tell if it was genuine or put on.

    The Vorta woman stepped up closer to him, regarding him carefully, that smile not wavering from her face. “I have to say, Matthew, you don’t look so good. What’s the matter?”

    “We had an agreement,” he said angrily. “That you would never come directly to my home.”

    The Jem’Hadar, Michael counted seven of them, began to spread out across the workshop and Matthew watched them nervously. Too nervously, Michael thought.

    “I’m alone,” he said as he regarded the soldiers. “There’s nobody else here.”

    “Calm down, Matthew, there’s no need to get agitated,” Kilana almost purred.

    Michael actually wished he’d take her advice. Matthew was getting more and more worked up which didn’t help their chances to remain undetected.

    One of the Jem’Hadar had picked up an odd, roughly spherical contraption, regarding it curiously.

    “Isn’t there?” Matt said angrily, stepped up to the soldier, and took the device out of his hands. “You show up here unannounced and then have your goons disturb my work, some of which is highly sensitive.” He placed the device carefully back where the soldier had picked it up from.

    “You are upset, I understand,” Kilana said and gestured for the Jem’Hadar to back off. “But it is hardly my fault that you decided to keep our little arrangement from your friend.” She stepped up to the whiteboard Frobisher, Xylion, and Hopkins and drawn on earlier and that still contained references to the Ring which they had not had time to erase.

    Kilana studied the board carefully and Michael prayed that she wasn’t any more familiar with complex mathematical formulae than he was.

    Michael had briefly flirted with the idea of seeking assistance in dealing with the subspace aliens and the supercollider from the local Dominion forces, after all, the death of the universe—potential the entire quantum-verse—would affect them just as much as everyone else. But somehow, he doubted that there’d be enough time to convince the Vorta that they were all on the same side and the risk of being detained, tortured, or even outright killed while they did nothing to stop the impending death of the universe was simply unacceptable.

    “Besides,” she said and turned back to face him, thankfully not being able to make much of what she was seeing. “You contacted me.”

    “Son of a bitch,” Michael whispered angrily, coming close to breaking his own rule.

    He shook his head. “But I didn’t tell you to come here.”

    “Oh, please,” she said as she stepped closer to him. “Surely you are not that deluded, my dear Matthew. We both know that there is a powerful ship roaming the sector that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in this part of the galaxy. It has been evading us so far but not much longer. So, why don’t you tell me everything that you know?”

    “Just what I said in my message.”

    “They’ve been to Arkaria?”

    He nodded.

    “Why?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Where are they now?”

    “I don’t know.”

    She regarded him skeptically. “I want you to understand something about the agreement that we have. We wouldn’t want there to be any misunderstandings between us, would we?”

    “No, of course not.”

    She offered him a beaming smile again. “You serve at the pleasure of the Founders, as do we all. You continue to be useful to the Dominion and the comfort you currently enjoy will remain assured.” Her face took on a sterner look. “If your usefulness comes to an end, your life will change in significant ways. You understand this, don’t you?”

    He swallowed and then nodded slowly.

    “I always liked you, Matthew,” she said, smiling once more. She walked around him and then took in the room again. She found an object of interest and picked up the severed Borg head, regarding it carefully. “Your work has always been very useful to me. To the Dominion. I would hate for that to come to an end.”

    “There is no reason that it has to.”

    She turned to look at him. “I want to believe that, Matthew, I really do.” She put the head back. She gestured for one of the Jem’Hadar and he handed her a small, palm-sized device that she passed on to Matthew. “This is a subspace communicator. Far more powerful than the one you have now. This will ensure you can contact me faster and over greater distances.”

    Matt looked at the device.

    “There are concerning signs that the enemy is pushing into this sector and that wouldn’t be good for any of us. We cannot afford to be distracted by this mystery ship upsetting the order of things.”

    “I understand.”

    “I want you to contact me as soon as you learn anything further about that vessel or her crew.”

    “I will.”

    Kilana placed a hand on his shoulder. “I know you will, Matthew. And because you have been such a loyal friend to the Dominion, I shall give you another present.”

    “That isn’t necessary.”

    She grinned. “But I’m in such a giving mood,” she said and then snapped her fingers at one of the Jem’Hadar who quickly joined them. “I’ll leave Second Ruci’clan and his men here to keep you some company. You may now consider this fabulous little workshop of yours an official Dominion outpost. Congratulations.”

    Matthew couldn’t hide the pained look on his face. “Please, Kilana, how will I explain this to Wes?”

    “Oh, I’m sure you’ll find a way to make him see the benefits of serving the Dominion. And who knows, being open and truthful with him may feel liberating,” she said as she headed toward the doors, taking just two of the Jem’Hadar with her and leaving the other five behind. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back before they run out of White. Do me a favor and be a good host, will you?” she offered him a fleeting smile before she stepped back outside.

    Moments later Michael could see the telltale sight of transporter activity as Kilana and her two guards were once again whisked away.

    Inside the workshop, Matthew starred at the lead Jem’Hadar and seemingly didn’t dare to move a single muscle. The soldiers too remained rooted to the spot as if they were salt statues, keeping their eyes on the human in their midst.

    Michael knew that they had to make a move. “We need to take them out,” he said quietly.

    “What?” Frobisher furiously shook his head. “No. There’s no way.”

    But Garla was firmly in Michael’s camp on this. “We have them outnumbered.”

    “No, we don’t. Matt doesn’t know how to fight and neither do I. And, no offense, he’s not exactly a threat to a Jem’Hadar,” he said pointing at Jon Owens.

    “He’s not wrong,” the admiral said.

    “We have the element of surprise,” said Garla. “I’ll create a distraction.”

    Michael nodded.

    She glanced at Frobisher. “Back door?”

    But he just shook his head again. “This is a terrible idea.”

    “Back door,” she repeated in a more urgent whisper.

    He reluctantly pointed at an exit to their left.

    Garla nodded. “Wait on my signal,” she said just before she headed for the door, keeping low and moving without making a sound. Within moments she had slipped out.

    “You’re going to get us all killed,” Frobisher said quietly.

    But Michael was committed now as he checked over his phaser. He knew from the protracted war with the Dominion that the low-level stun setting would not prove effective and adjusted the settings accordingly. When he looked up again he found that Lif was adjusting his phaser as well, offering him a firm nod once he was done. His Owens Senior and Frobisher, however, had no weapons. “You two, stay back here.”

    “I may be old and slow but I can still contribute,” Jon protested.

    “We cannot risk you getting hurt. You’re already sick and we’ll need you before all this is over,” he said, not realizing at first how clinical he sounded about the matter.

    There was a loud knock on the door to the workshop and all eyes, including those of the Jem’Hadar, turned toward it. The door opened and Garla stepped inside and Michael realized that she wasn’t armed either.

    “Hi Matt, I was wondering if I could borrow some sugar. Oh, who are your friends?” she said in a tone so relaxed and casual, she had him convinced that she was Matthew’s next-door neighbor.

    What gave her away was the fact that she remained just as calm when five polaron rifles caught a bead on her.

    Michael and Culsten got into position by the door

    Matthew seemed too startled to respond.

    “Who is this woman?” Ruci’clan said as he slowly stepped closer, his rifle still pointed at her.

    “I live just down the road,” she said, undaunted by the imposing soldier. “Who are you?”

    Ruci’clan glanced at Matthew who nodded slowly. “Yes. She lives down the road.”

    “What is her name?” Ruci’clan said, asking Matthew.

    “Her name?”

    Michael knew that Matthew wouldn’t have the slightest idea but then of course he could have just invented any name. Apparently, however, he was not up to the task at that moment.

    His hesitation was enough to convince Ruci’clan that something was not right and he whirled back toward Garla with his rifle ready to fire.

    The sentinel was faster. She already had a running start on him when he had turned back to face her. She used a workbench to launch herself into the air like a missile, used one of his thighs as a stepping stone only to smash her knee hard into his chest. She kept climbing upward, trapping his head in a leg vice, and then, using her momentum, brought him down hard onto the floor. She had found his rifle even before he was down, coming up firing and blasting a second Jem’Hadar off his feet.

    Michael had no time to admire her athleticism and fighting style. He burst through the doors and opened fire, Culsten right beside him.

    He clipped one Jem’Hadar but had to dive for cover behind the whiteboards before he could take aim again and just in time to avoid getting incinerated by the Jem’Hadar’s response that ripped out an entire chunk of the board containing Ring schematic.

    He had zero time to catch his breath since another soldier, this one armed with a bladed polearm took a swing at him the moment he had landed on the floor.

    Michael had lost his phaser in his dive and scrambled backward just in time for the blade to strike the empty floor so hard it produced sparks where he had been just a split-second earlier.

    He got back on his feet as the Jem’Hadar struck again. Michael retreated quickly enough to miss the blade from cutting him open but not fast enough for it not to slice through his jacket.

    He couldn’t avoid the next strike that came from the blunt end of the weapon and it was so powerful it pushed him back even as all the air was forced out of his lungs.

    He hit a hard surface as he tumbled back to the floor. He didn’t know what he had struck until the severed Borg head fell into his lap, triggering in him a near primal panic. The head’s one remaining eye stared back up at him while the cortical array had come loose from the other socket.

    As the Jem’Hadar bore down on him to finish the job, Michael used the only weapon he had left, grabbing hold of the head and tossing it at the soldier with all the strength he could muster.

    His aim was true, connecting skull with skull, and briefly stunning the Jem’Hadar.

    He spotted his discarded phaser on the floor and dove for it. His hand found the grip and he fired without delay, blasting the Jem’Hadar just as he was recovering and taking him out of the fight.

    He spotted a solider in the corner of his eye but even as he turned his head and brought up his phaser to aim again, he felt his heart pounding his chest furiously, already knowing that he wasn’t going to be fast enough to take him out before he could fire his rifle.

    But he didn’t fire.

    There was a bright light at the base of his neck, near to where his feeding tube connected his brain to the ketracel-white drug that kept him obedient to his Vorta masters. Michael didn’t immediately understand what was happening. Then the blood came streaming out like a geyser and the surprised Jem’Hadar reached for his neck with both hands, dropping his rifle.

    He sagged to his knees and then keeled over, revealing Jon Owens behind him, still holding the laser slicer which not so long ago had been hovering above his neck.

    “Thanks,” Michael said.

    “Any time.”

    Michael scrambled back to his legs to find another target only to see Garla execute a perfect roundhouse kick that connected with the only Jem’Hadar still standing, causing him to stumble but not quite enough for him to let go of his weapon or take aim.

    He didn’t get a chance when a well-placed beam from Culsten’s phaser pushed him back and against another whiteboard where he collapsed on top of it.

    Garla offered Lif an appreciative nod.

    Michael looked around.

    The workshop looked like a war zone, littered with Jem’Hadar bodies, upturned work tables, computers, whiteboards, and various tools and devices. But more importantly, the away team, as well as Matthew were all still on their feet and unharmed.

    “Are you all right?” Jon Owens asked him, glancing at his chest.

    Michael looked down to see his jacket sliced wide open but his red undershirt seemed to be in one piece which meant that the blade had not cut his skin. He removed his combadge and then shed the ruined jacket. “I’m fine.”

    “My God, what have you done?” Matthew said as he regarded his workshop with disbelieving eyes.

    “The better question is, what have you done?” said Frobisher, emerging from the adjacent room, his anger clearly directed at his friend.

    “I did what I had to,” Matt shot back.

    “By working with the Dominion in secret? How long has that been going on?”

    But Matthew was in no mood to be chastised. “Spare me the moral outrage. You don’t think I know that you’ve been spending more and more time obsessing with your quantum research? How do you think we could afford to live this way and buy all those resources and materials for your little projects?”

    “I didn’t think you had made a deal with the devil,” Frobisher barked.

    “You just closed your eyes to it.”

    “Okay, that’s enough,” Michael snapped loudly, still trying to get his adrenaline levels back under control after the death-defying battle they had just barely survived. “I’m sure the two of you have plenty to work out but that will need to wait. We have to get out of here before the Vorta finds out what happened to her people. And we need to get off this planet and back to my ship.”

    The two men continued to glare at each other for a moment longer before Frobisher turned away and considered Michael. “I’m not sure about getting you back to your ship but I may have an idea about how to get off Arkaria.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2022
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  4. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Holy-moly... This is getting intense.
     
  5. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Garla is delightfully bad-assed... Really vibrant portrait of her fighting style.

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  6. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I agree with RBS. Garla is quite the ally to have. I hope she remains an ally who continues to make waves as Eagle and her crew try to get home to their universe.
     
  7. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    I agree that Garla was fun to "watch" in this scene. A well thought out action sequence to be sure.

    But personally, I was more excited to see Michael kicking ass! It's not often that we get to see him throw hands, so this was a real treat. It also highlights the fact that this dude has some stones. He was outnumbered and outmatched in facing a squad of Jem'Hadar soldiers, and what does he say? "We have to take them out." This should dispel any notions that our mild-mannered starship captain doesn't have the gumption to stick his boot up someone's butt if the occasion calls for it. :rommie:

    BTW, I hate to disrespect Michael's brother, but I'm starting to get the idea that Matthew is a damn idiot. At least the Matthew here is, anyway. (I can't speak to Prime Matthew---may God rest his soul---until I get caught up on my Legacy Eagle stories.) But let's consider that there may be a reason Matthew hasn't survived in so many universes.

    Just saying.

    Can't wait for the next part!
     
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Part III: The Escape



    1


    Nobody had ever joined Starfleet to be a first officer, to be the second-in-command and perpetually reside in the shadow of other people. Tazla Star understood this well, after all, she had once been a starship captain herself, albeit briefly, and had aspired to such a lofty position ever since she had first felt that undeniable drive to attain greatness after she had joined with the Star symbiont as a young woman.

    As was the case for most first officers on starships, she only got the chance to play captain when Owens was away and now that he was, she found that she didn’t enjoy sitting in the center chair at all.

    She felt anxious and tense, unable to think of anything else but how to get him back after they had been forced out of orbit of Arkaria Prime to avoid an incoming Dominion fleet.

    They hadn’t gone far.

    After performing a high-risk, in-system warp jump, to get out of harm’s way in the nick of time, they had dived deep into the lower layers of the toxic methane and ammonia atmosphere of Arkaria V, a class-six gas giant. A maneuver only made possible thanks to their new, overpowered transphasic shield. Buried underneath kilometers of super-dense cloud formations had allowed them to hide from the Dominion ships still searching the system and also complete any outstanding repairs.

    Tazla was currently laser-focused on the visual data displayed on the main view screen coming courtesy of a probe they had launched to relocate the away team. The images were distorted due to the interference from the gas giant’s atmosphere but the probe was the only way they could see beyond Arkaria V while they remained hidden in its turbulent depths.

    Normally Tazla, and perhaps even the rest of the crew, would have been concerned about the constant vibrations that even their powerful shields and the inertia dampeners couldn’t compensate for, but considering their recent tempestuous journeys across universes and through hazardous environments, this latest situation hardly even rated as more than an inconvenience to a crew long since accustomed to sailing rough seas.

    Except for, perhaps Elijah Katanga. “I wonder if this ship will ever be able to traverse the great void without trying to rattle every last one of my old bones,” the veteran physician mumbled as he sat to Tazla’s right, holding on tightly to its armrests.

    “All part of the miracle that is space flight,” she said with a little smirk.

    “I’ve been zooming back and forth the dark a long time and I can hardly recall ever being on a ship as turbulent as this one. It’s almost as if you folks are going out of your way to try and find the roughest parts of the cosmos,” he said.

    It hadn’t escaped her notice that, as was his wont, he still refused to wear his uniform jacket fully closed as to regulations. It wasn’t so much a fashion statement as a minor act of personal rebellion against military rules and conformity. She had been trying to get him to toe the line, and she considered the fact that he hadn’t done so yet a failure on her part. However, considering their tumultuous relationship up until recently, getting the infamously stubborn octogenarian to wear his uniform correctly was not a battle worth fighting, she had decided.

    Instead, she appreciated the simple fact that he had come up to the bridge to lend her his moral support during this latest crisis. Besides, there were much more important matters on her mind for now.

    “Approaching Arkaria Prime now,” said Deen from operations, her fingers flying over her console as she remote-controlled the sensor probe.

    On the screen, Tazla could see the turquoise globe even through the distracting static, looking very much like the last time they had seen it.

    “Can we get a fix on the away team’s last known position?”

    Deen nodded. “Sensors are locked in on the eastern continent but I’ll need to get it in closer to get a high-resolution scan.”

    “Do it.”

    Although it didn’t take her long to get the probe into a low orbit, as far as Tazla was concerned it was still not quickly enough and she got out of her chair and took a few steps toward Deen as if this might somehow speed up the process.

    “I’ve located the beam-in coordinates,” she said.

    “Do you have the captain?”

    She shook her head. “I cannot detect any life signs within the area.”

    Tazla felt her stomach churn, unable to entirely shake the possible implications of that news.

    “However, the probe is detecting residual signs of anti-gravitons.”

    Katanga left his chair as well. “What does that mean?”

    Leva at tactical answered. “It could indicate that the away team boarded a ship, most likely a shuttle.”

    Star nodded, the explanation making sense to her. This mission came first, he had kept telling her. If Owens hadn’t been able to return to Eagle, he was likely attempting to get back to the Ring by other means. At least that was the best-case scenario. She also couldn’t entirely dismiss the idea that they had been taken against their will. “Can we determine where they went?”

    Deen shook her head. “There are not enough residual traces to extrapolate a precise heading but the vessel did appear to head toward orbit.”

    “Which means off-planet,” said Tazla.

    Deen made eye contact. “That would be my guess.”

    “Could they still be in the system?”

    The operations manager turned back to her console. “Difficult to say but there is a lot of Dominion activity out there, searching for us, no doubt.”

    “Which could have given them just the opportunity they needed to slip by them and leave the system,” said So’Dan Leva.

    “Wait a minute,” said Katanga. “Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that they did manage to get past all those Jem’Hadar fighters zipping around. Won’t they need that Prism gizmo to work the Ring?”

    Star had considered that herself and nodded, fully aware that the Exhibitor was still on Eagle. Even if the away team managed to get back into in-between space, they had little means to interact with the superstructure.

    “They will also require Bensu’s assistance to interface with the collider’s telepathic controls,” said Xylion who sat at his science station at the back of the bridge.

    Tazla regarded the Vulcan briefly, recalling Owens’ warning relating to the enigmatic alien bartender who had recently been revealed to be so much more. Besides his inexplicable knowledge of the subspace aliens, their domain, and the supercollider, what had astonished her the most was the fact that the man wasn’t entirely biological and that with Xylion’s assistance, he had fashioned himself with a synthetic body that would have been the envy of Doctor Noonian Soong and one so convincing, it had fooled everybody, including routine sensor scans.

    She was not entirely sure what to make of the vision Owens had told her about—on the surface it didn’t seem to make a great amount of sense—but then again, she was also very much cognizant of the fact that, until a few days ago, she would have firmly believed that extinguishing an entire universe in a matter of seconds would have been impossible as well.

    Her train of thought was interrupted by a warning chime from Deen’s console.

    “The probe is getting some company,” she said.

    Tazla looked toward the screen just in time to see the familiar bug shape of a Jem’Hadar fighter. It fired its polaron weapons not a moment later and the feed cut out.

    “Looks like they prefer to shoot first and ask questions later,” said Katanga.

    “Which does not bode well for the away team,” added Deen as she glanced up at the first officer.

    “A sensor probe of unfamiliar design and with an energy signature the Jem’Hadar do not recognize may be more conspicuous than whatever ride the away team managed to secure,” said Tazla. “We have to assume that they found a way off that plan and get back to the Ring. Which means we need to follow suit.”

    “That leaves us with a rather big complication though,” said Katanga. “Namely, a system filled with trigger happy Jem’Hadar ships ready to fire on anything that even looks out of the ordinary to them. How do we get around them?”

    “What we need is a distraction.”

    Tazla and Katanga turned around to find Lieutenant Alendra standing at the tactical station next to Leva.

    The young Bolian had a promising gleam in her eye.
     
  9. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Fortunate that the jem'hadar shot the unfamiliar probe instead of studying it to try to trace it back to its point of origin. In this situation, their trigger-joy is a relief..

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  10. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Man, I hope Eagle's crew has a really good trick up their sleeves. The Jem'Hadar are not fools so it isn't as easy to distract them as it might seem.

    But wow, talking about running the gauntlet. The crew has to survive a harrowing journey back towards the collider and hopefully reunite with Michael and company at some point as well. And the clock is ticking. This universe might go poof very soon like the others did.

    Hope they beat the odds but I'm sure that even if they do, it will come at a cost.

    Keep throwing your stuff at us!
     
  11. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    2


    As it had turned out, one of the large warehouses that formed Matthew Owens and Frobisher’s compound had been turned into a makeshift hangar large enough to house a compact shuttle. The small vessel had barely enough room for the two scientists, Michael, Owens Senior, and the two Krellonians.

    It was a tight fit but comfort wasn’t high on Michael’s agenda as they squeezed themselves into the shuttle. His primary concern related to their chances of escaping Arkaria Prime without the Dominion taking notice—there seemed little hope they’d be able to outrun a Jem’Hadar ship in the shuttle, not to mention fight one-off—and ideally regroup with Eagle on their way back to the Ring.

    Wes Frobisher seemed fairly skilled at piloting his small ship and getting them into orbit without raising the attention of the Dominion fleet that now patrolled the system. But clearly, the Jem’Hadar were far more preoccupied with trying to find Eagle than taking notice of the unassuming civilian craft.

    Michael had initially argued that they needed to find a way to return to the ship that he assumed was hiding somewhere within the system but Frobisher had quickly convinced him that staying near Arkaria with a dozen Jem’Hadar fighters looking for him and his ship was a risk not worth taking.

    After a half-hour sprint at high warp, Frobisher dropped the shuttle back to sub-light in the vicinity of a neutron star within the Amargosa Diaspora. He shut down the engines and then swiveled around in the single pilot chair to face the five other occupants packed into the small shuttle. “The magnetic field strength of the neutron star should keep us shielded from sensors for a while,” he said.

    “It appears you’re quite adept at eluding pursuers,” said Jon Owens who had found the only other seat on the ship.

    “This is not my first time playing keep away from the Dominion.”

    Matthew just shook his head. “This is insane. All of it. We should never have left Arkaria in the first place.”
    Michael could tell he was angry and frustrated. He exhibited all the telltale signs his brother had been wont to when he got like that, the way his eyes darted back and forth, his hands repeatedly balling up into fists and the light perspiration developing on his brow were all uncanny reminders of how similar this Matthew was to his own.

    “It may have been difficult to explain the dead Jem’Hadar to the Vorta once she returned,” Garla said in a deadpan that Michael didn’t appreciate since it didn’t help resolve Matthew’s concerns.

    “And whose fault is that?” he practically shouted at her. “You didn’t have to go and kill them all.”

    “Remind me who was responsible for them being there in the first place?” she shot back.

    Michael quickly inserted himself between the two before Matthew could come up with another retort. The sentinel glared at him briefly when he gestured for her to stand down and he got the distinct impression that she was not used to being told by others how to behave. The defiance mirrored in her eyes would have been worrisome if he didn’t have a heap of more pressing matters that needed his attention first.

    Garla just shook her head and then stepped toward the back of the shuttle, putting as much physical distance between her and the others as possible. It wasn’t much.

    “I still can’t believe that you’ve worked with them all this time,” said Wes Frobisher, staring at the man he lived and worked with. “And that you thought it would be a good idea to tell them about our visitors.”

    “This man nearly killed you,” Matthew cried, pointing an accusing finger at Michael. “These people came to our home armed and clearly looking to pick a fight. I was worried for both our safety.”

    Michael couldn’t help but feel partly responsible for the way matters had escalated. If he had just kept his calm after coming across the man who looked identical to his brother’s killer, much of what had followed could have been avoided.

    He had long since learned that there was little point in dwelling on past mistakes. Learn from them and move on, that was his mantra now.

    “Matt, they came here because the universe as we know it is at great risk. Perhaps even the entire multi-verse. And we might be the only ones able to save it,” Frobisher said and Michael found it odd to hear such words coming out of his mouth.

    “There is always some sort of crisis with you,” he said, waving off his dire warnings.

    “I can assure you, this one is like no other. We have witnessed entire universes die in a matter of seconds and this one could be next,” said Michael, keeping his eyes on Matthew to try and impart on him the urgency of what they were up against. He wasn’t entirely successful based on the blank look he received in response.

    “So have I,” said Frobisher. “The trips I’ve been undertaking over the last few weeks? I used this shuttle to visit numerous universes, many of which were being wiped out of existence.”

    Matthew refused to be impressed by what he was being told but Michael’s attention was back on Frobisher. “You used this ship to travel to other universes?”

    He nodded. “I have equipped it with a dark anti-matter engine that produces enough energy to create subspace fissures but my power source is nearly used up. I have perhaps enough juice for two maybe three more attempts.”

    “Dark anti-matter technology is dangerous,” said Matt. “I thought we had decided a long time ago that it wasn’t worth the risks. Exposure to its radiation can be lethal.”

    As if on cue, Jon Owens experienced a brief coughing fit, causing most of the eyes in the room to dart his way. He held up his hand just before it passed. “Regretfully I can attest to that. I was unfortunate enough to use a dark anti-matter transporter to traverse realities.”

    “Wes,” said Matt, considering his partner again. “What have you done?”

    “Those jumps were brief each time. I didn’t spend a significant amount of time in those other realities and I haven’t shown any symptoms. I should be fine.”

    Michael couldn’t tell if he honestly believed this or if he was merely attempting to put Matthew at ease.

    “In any case, the things I’ve learned were worth the effort.”

    Michael’s thoughts drifted back toward his universe and what his brother and Frobisher had created there. “I’ve also encountered the dark anti-matter transporter. Years ago. And I’ve never experienced any ill-affect. However, I didn’t travel into other universes, it sent me into the past.”

    “Time travel?” said Frobisher with noticeable curiosity to which Michael just nodded. “Fascinating,” he added, doing his best Vulcan imitation. “I don’t think I’ve ever considered that. But I can see how the energies created by the dark anti-matter accelerator could affect the chronition field and perhaps even manipulate it.”

    “God, Wes, isn’t it enough that you build a device that can take you into other realities? You need a time machine as well?” said Matt.

    “I agree that we need to stay focused,” said Michael. “Getting back to the Ring and shutting it down for good is our top priority. And we are up against a clock.”

    “Cygni-98,” Frobisher said and nodded as he swiveled in his chair to face a computer console. Within moments he had brought up a holographic projection overlaid on the large forward viewport that Michael recognized as the globular cluster that was the Amargosa Diaspora. The projection zoomed into a highlighted section deep within that area of space that symbolized the system where he knew the gateway into in-between space was located.

    Matthew was already shaking his head. “They may as well have put this on the Founder’s homeworld and it would have been no more difficult to get there. That’s right in Outlander territory and they don’t take too kindly to foreigners.”

    “What about us?” said Lif Culsten. “Would they accept Krellonians?”

    Matthew considered the helmsman for a moment. “From everything I know about the Outlanders, they don’t treat Krellonians all that well.”

    “What are you saying?” said Garla. “That our people are slaves to the Outlanders?”

    “Perhaps not slaves,” said Matthew. “But not exactly first-class citizens either.”

    “I don’t see why this surprises you all that much,” Culsten said to his aunt. “We’ve seen a reality in which our people treated Outlanderss no better than cattle. In our universe they are second-class citizens at best. It stands to reason that there are universes in which things have worked out very different.”

    The sentinel nodded slowly even if it appeared that she did have some trouble accepting this as a fact.

    Frobisher in the meantime turned back to the helm controls and began to enter new commands as if struck by sudden inspiration.

    “What are you thinking?” Matthew asked with noticeable skepticism.

    “If we want to get into Outlander territory, there might be somebody who could help us,” he said without pausing his efforts.

    “Who?” said Matthew.

    Michael felt the small ship beginning to move again.

    “The Windjammers.”

    Matthew decidedly shook his head. “Wes, no.”

    “Who are the Windjammers?” asked Jon Owens.

    “Bad news,” said Matt.

    “They are customers of ours,” said Wes as he activated the shuttles warp engines that allowed it to jump to FTL speeds.

    “Former customers,” said Matt. “And for good reason.”

    “We had a bit of a misunderstanding a few years ago,” Frobisher said. “But I smoothed things over with them a while ago. We’ll be fine. Trust me.”

    There was something in his tone, or perhaps it was the dubious look in Matthew’s eyes that made Michael feel anything but put at ease.

    He understood that they were still short on options but he also knew that he would rue the day that he’d ever trust a man called Westren Frobisher.
     
  12. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Big fan of the long-running Frobisher story arc. Garla, Frobisher - some really good frenemies...

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  13. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    The Windjammers don't sound like anything good.
     
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  14. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    So, Frobisher's got a plan.
    What could go wrong?
    I can't wait to find out more about these Windjammers. I have the feeling there's going to be a great backstory behind them.
    Great stuff! This story gets more epic by the chapter. Makes me wish this was on film, because...damn. I'd binge watch.
    Another example of how the fan fic I read here puts a lot of official content to shame.
    Keep it coming, buddy!
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
    Robert Bruce Scott likes this.
  15. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    3


    Tazla was looking over Alendra’s shoulder as she sat at the mission ops station in the aft section of the main bridge. So’Dan Leva, Xylion, and Elijah Katanga had joined her for this impromptu meeting.

    “What exactly am I looking at here?” said the veteran doctor as he considered the three-dimensional representation of what looked like an oversized missile on the mission ops screen. “Is this supposed to be the illegitimate child of a shuttlecraft and a photon torpedo?”

    Despite their rather grim current circumstances, the analogy made Taz smile since it seemed quite apt.

    “It’s called a UWCV,” said Alendra. “An unmanned warp-capable vehicle. It’s essentially an AI-controlled weapons platform that can be deployed over long distances.”

    “Just what we always needed, computer brains with firepower,” said Katanga, unsurprisingly not very fond of the idea.

    But Taz nodded. “I remember we took a couple of these on board while we had our refit at Earth,” she said, vaguely recalling having read up about these devices and now silently berating herself for not having paid more attention to the matter. In her defense, Eagle had undergone several changes and the drones had not been considered a priority addition to the ship’s arsenal.

    “They are quite ingenious, really,” said Leva who seemed better briefed on the UWCVs. “They can be deployed at a moment’s notice and can seek out and destroy a target autonomously without the need to be remotely controlled.”

    Alendra shook her head. “Can’t see anything going wrong with that idea.”

    The tactical officer didn’t seem to appreciate the tone in her voice. “They were developed during the Dominion War and at a time when we had to face the possibility of being overrun by the Jem’Hadar. Considering what we were up against, these drones made a lot of sense.”

    The Bolian lieutenant was clearly not in the mood to back down. “So the idea was to create computer-controlled weapons that could keep on fighting after we were long gone? For what purposes? To avenge us?”

    “It was war, Lieutenant. We were looking at any advantage we could get our hands on and to ensure our survival,” he shot back hotly.

    “Because all is fair in love and war,” she muttered.

    “All right, I have to ask,” said Eli as he glanced first at Alendra and then at the half-Romulan tactical officer “What is it with the two of you today?”

    But the two officers quickly diverted their glances as if embarrassed at having let it come to a near shouting match on the bridge.

    Elijah shot Taz a little, knowing smirk.

    But Tazla was not nearly as amused by the outburst. “I appreciate we’re all feeling the pressure here but we’ve been in tough spots before. Let’s all keep our heads, shall we?” she said, her voice sharp as an edge as she considered her two officers, both of whom offered quick, chastised nods.

    “Lieutenant,” Xylion said, clearly eager to get everyone back on track. “You suggested the use of the UWCV. What are you proposing?”

    The Bolian needed a second to recompose herself again and then turned back to the computer station to bring up more information on the drone. “Technically, Starfleet has never deployed these things in a real combat situation before, and the two we have onboard are prototypes designed for testing purposes but theoretically they should operate just like the real thing. Seeing how the Jem’Hadar reacted to our probe, I figured these would make a great distraction to allow us to slip out of the system.”

    “Interesting,” said Xylion before regarding the Trill first officer. “Although I am not entirely familiar with their design, from everything I understand of their function, this plan may have a chance to succeed.”

    Tazla nodded. “Definitely worth a shot,” she said and looked back at the Bolian. “How long until we’re ready to deploy them?”

    “I just need to make a few modifications to their shields to ensure they are able to escape the gas giant’s atmosphere. Maybe an hour.”

    “I’ll assist you,” said Leva.

    “Thanks, but I think I’ve got it covered,” she shot back.

    “Now, now kids, let’s remember to play nice,” said Katanga.

    A pointed look from Tazla made Alendra reconsider as she nodded at the tactical officer. “If you could liaise with Lieutenant Hopkins to provide compatible transphasic shield emitters, that would be of great help, Commander.”

    He nodded tersely. “I’ll do that,” he said as he stepped back to his tactical console while Alendra headed toward the turbolift.

    Taz led Katanga and Xylion back to the command area of the bridge where they took their seats.

    “No, seriously, what’s the story between those two?” he said quietly.

    “Honestly? Beats me. And I don’t have the time to figure it out. They better just get their heads right quickly.”

    Alendra’s estimate turned out pretty accurate even if in the end she relied much more heavily on Hopkins’ assistance than that of the tactical officer. After just a bit over an hour, the two drones had been modified sufficiently to give them a major shield upgrade while Leva had put together a plan of engagement to attempt to lure the Dominion forces away from the system.

    “We are ready to proceed,” said the Bolian after she had returned and had once more taken a seat at mission ops.

    Taz nodded. “Let’s do it.”

    “Launching UWCVs,” she said as she operated her console.

    “Dee, can we get a visual?” Taz said.

    The Tenarian at the forward operations station nodded. “Tying us into their visual sensors now.”

    Within moments the main screen shifted to show a split-screen of the visual feed from both drones. Presently all they could see was the murky atmosphere of Arkaria V as they climbed toward deep space.

    “Shield readings for both drones are stable,” said Alendra.

    After a few more minutes, the autonomous drones pierced the veil of the gas giant’s dense atmosphere and entered the dark void of space.

    “They are programmed to locate and engage targets of opportunity,” said the Bolian. “The idea is to cause maximum damage without being destroyed and then retreat into separate directions at high warp.”

    “Hit and run,” said Katanga.

    “As long as the Jem’Hadar take the bait,” added Leva.

    Taz nodded as she watched the screen attentively. It didn’t take long at all for the drones to sniff out their prey. The one on the left changed course first and not a moment later the one on the right followed suit, heading in a slightly different direction.

    “Targets located,” said Leva.

    Both drones went to warp suddenly which took Taz a bit by surprise. In-system warp jumps were not unheard of but were generally not very common. Eagle had performed one earlier to get away from the incoming Dominion forces, but even that had required precise calculations and a few moments of anxious trepidation.

    The jumps lasted mere seconds and deposited both drones within striking distance of Jem’Hadar ships.

    “Almost as if they’ve studied Picard,” said Deen who was watching from her station.

    Both drones unleashed phaser fire and volleys of quantum torpedoes almost instantly on the unprepared targets. The one on the right was a single Jem’Hadar fighter while the drone on the left was bearing down on a trio of ships.

    The left drone was a little bit too successful. The entire assault lasted less than thirty seconds until the bug-shaped Jem’Hadar ship had been turned into space dust.

    “I thought the plan here was to try and get their attention, not outright blow them to smithereens,” said Elijah, not entirely able to hide his displeasure at seeing the destruction the drone had caused, even if it was against the Dominion.

    “The engagement parameters must have been misaligned,” said Leva quickly. “Adjusting parameters now.”

    “I suppose that’s what you get when you let computers fight your battles,” said the doctor.

    Taz felt herself agreeing with him in principle. There was a moral issue here somewhere, she was certain of it, but at present, she could not afford to ponder it. Not while all existence was at stake.

    While the left drone was moving out again to find another target. The right drone was still engaged in battle with the three Jem’Hadar ships. It had noticeably wounded one badly, knocking it out of the fight, but now seemed to have trouble evading the other two which were coming after it with a vengeance.

    “I could be wrong,” Taz said, “but it doesn’t look like it’s going all that well for Drone Number Two.”

    Xylion agreed. “Based on the data feed, it is unlikely the UWCV will survive the encounter.”

    Alendra had stood from the aft bridge station and moved to the tactical console and next to Leva. “I suppose these drones aren’t very good in a dogfight. The upgraded shields will be able to take some punishment but it won’t last long.”

    “The UWCV were primarily designed to deliver a payload, not fight other spacecraft,” said Leva.

    “You may have wanted to mention that earlier,” said Alendra.

    “This was your plan.”

    Taz reached for her temples. “What can we do to avoid losing—“

    She stopped herself when the feed on the right abruptly terminated. She had a good idea of what it meant.

    “We’ve lost one of the drones,” said Leva.

    “I think we know,” said Katanga.

    Tazla stood from her chair and turned her back on the screen to look right at Leva and Alendra, her eyes dark and piercing. “You two need to stop whatever it is you’re bickering about and get your heads back into the game. Am I clear?”

    “Yes, sir,” they both said in unison.

    “Now, we’re down to just one drone. What do you suggest we do?”

    “I may have an answer to that,” said Deen from her station, causing Tazla to turn back her way. “The drone’s sensors are showing that all Jem’Hadar forces are now moving to intercept it. Seems to me we’ve got their full attention now.”

    Taz nodded and regarded the Bolian and the half-Romulan again.

    Alendra spoke up first. “We need to get the drone out of here and get the Jem’Hadar to follow.”

    Leva was already working his console. “I’m sending the command now,” he said but then began to frown. “Something’s wrong. The drone is not responding to the new orders.”

    Alendra began to work the control panels as well. “It looks as if the AI is overriding the new command and staying with its core objective to deliver its payload.”

    “I’m no tactician,” said Katanga as he continued to watch the visual feed of the drone that now showed it heading toward an encounter with half a Jem’Hadar fleet. “But am I right in saying that if the drone gets destroyed by those ships—which seems likely—we are back to square one with no plan B?”

    Xylion glanced at him. “Your tactical acumen is quite accurate in this instance, Doctor.”

    Taz was still facing the tactical console as she watched the two officers working there with a growing frown. “You need to fix this now.”

    Alendra shook her head in frustration. “I don’t understand. The onboard AI should accept new orders instantly. But it refuses to even acknowledge them.”

    “It may be malfunctioning,” said Leva.

    “Or we’ve triggered some sort of lock-out safety. I knew I should have read the damned manual,” she shot back, her fingers flying over the panel.

    “We’re trying to give it new orders,” said Leva.” Perhaps we just need to amend its primary objective.”

    But the Bolian shook her head. “I can’t gain access to the parameter file.”

    “Twenty seconds until the Jem’Hadar will be in weapon’s range of the drone,” said Deen.

    “What if we disable the AI altogether?” suggested Leva.

    “Yes. Switch to remote control,” she said. “That could work,” she added as she jumped back to the mission ops station to make the change.

    “Ten seconds.”

    “Whatever you’re doing. Please expedite it,” said Star, forcing her voice to remain calm as she turned her attention back to the main screen. With only one drone left in operation, the entire viewer was now displaying its visual feed and the UWCV bearing down on a showdown with a dozen or so warships. An encounter it was guaranteed to lose.

    “There are a couple of authentication protocols I need to run to allow for remote control,” said Alendra as she feverishly worked on the control panel.

    “The drone has reached weapon’s range,” said Deen.

    Not a second later the screen lit up as the UWCV unleashed its awesome weapons; bright red phaser fire, interspersed with blue bolts of quantum torpedoes and even two tri-cobalt devices.

    The lead Jem’Hadar ship was incinerated almost instantly.

    “Got it,” Alendra nearly shouted

    On the screen, the drone just stopped dead in the water.

    “Then, by all means, get it out of there,” Taz said.

    “Setting course and engaging warp.”

    The drone changed its orientation in an agonizingly slow fashion as far as Tazla was concerned.

    “The Dominion ships are opening fire.”

    She held her breath.

    And then, finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the droned jumped to warp.

    “The Dominion fleet is pursuing,” said Deen.

    “Too close,” she said as she sat back down in her chair.

    “I don’t know if I can take this kind of excitement in my old age,” said Katanga.

    “How long until the Jem’Hadar will catch up with our drone?” said Taz.

    Xylion had that information ready. “At the UWCV’s current velocity and energy reserve, it will be able to remain ahead of the pursuing vessels for three hours and twelve minutes.”

    Taz nodded. “Let’s give them an hour and then we make a run for it.”

    The next hour passed in an uneventful fashion. The drone was keeping its slim lead on its pursuers and there were no signs that the Jem’Hadar were abandoning their chase, likely seeing the unmanned ship that shared an energy signature with Eagle as their best chance to try and locate their real prey.

    Tazla gave the order to leave their hiding spot and shortly thereafter they emerged from the gas giant’s protective yet turbulent atmosphere, allowing her to breathe a little easier for the first time in hours.

    “As ship crews have been able to attest since the earliest days of the age of sail,” said Katanga. “There’s nothing quite like transitioning from rough waters to calm seas.”

    “No argument there,” she said and then glanced at the helm where Ensign Aliris of Risa had taken over for the injured Srena. “Ensign, set a course for Cygni-98 at warp seven. Dee, keep an eye on long-range sensors, we may need to evade more Jem’Hadar or Outlanders on our way there, which means we just may have to duck back into the Moebius Cluster for cover.”

    “Oh, what joy,” mumbled Katanga at the prospect of more turbulence.

    The two officers acknowledged and they were off once again toward the Amargosa Diaspora.

    As expected, their journey did not come without complications. Within just a couple of hours, sensors identified a possible problem.

    “Jem’Hadar?” Taz asked once Deen had informed her of a sensor contact.

    She shook her head. “No, definitely not a Dominion signature. This is very different. Wait, I recognize the pattern and — this can’t be right.”

    The tone in her voice sent a chill down Taz’s spine. “What is it?”

    When Deen didn’t immediately respond, Xylion consulted the computer station next to his chair. “Sensors indicate the presence of a transwarp conduit in the vicinity.”

    “But that would mean—“ Taz didn’t get to finish.

    Katanga had stood suddenly as he stared wide-eyed at the screen. “Holy Mother of God.”
    Taz’s eyes followed slowly, the feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach told her what she would find before she had laid eyes on it.

    Elijah Katanga was not a tactician as he had pointed out earlier. But then again, there wasn’t a Federation citizen alive who wouldn’t have instantly recognized what he had spotted on the viewscreen bearing down on them.
     
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  16. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Because what doesn't get better with the addition of a Borg cube...

    Nice exploration of the problems with remote weapons platforms. I could drone on...

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  17. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    "Resistance isn't futile until all options are exhausted."

    I made that up.
     
  18. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    4


    “You can’t be seriously suggesting that that ship can help us get back to the Ring?” said Garla as she stared out of the shuttle’s forward viewport with doubtful eyes, studying the unremarkable starship they were approaching.

    Michael couldn’t entirely fault her for the skepticism. The ship really wasn’t much to look at. As far as he could tell, it was an Antares-class freighter not entirely dissimilar to merchant vessels in his own universe, except that this ship was most certainly not a recent model as evidenced by its patchwork hull that was comprised of several mismatched panels and components, apparently keeping the bulky ship space-worthy but doing nothing for its esthetic qualities.

    “She might not look like much,” Frobisher said, still sitting at the controls, “but her crew, and especially her captain, is resourceful and knows the Amargosa Diaspora inside and out. If there is a way for us to get to where we need to go, they’ll know about it.”

    But Matthew was shaking his head. “This is a terrible idea,” he mumbled quietly.

    “But just maybe the best idea among a choice of bad ones,” said Jon Owens with noticeable conviction as he stepped into the front of the shuttle and closer to the others. It wasn’t the first time that Michael had noticed that the man who had pretended to be his father, ever since he had unexpectedly entered his life a few days ago, seemed more energized than he had any right to be, considering his weakened physical condition. Michael had a good idea why that might be, after all, this Jon Owens had admitted to him that his primary goal in life—the very reason he had allied himself with such sinister and scrupulous characters such as Altee—was to find a way to reunite a family he had lost in his universe.

    If nothing else had gone right recently, Jon Owens had certainly managed to achieve his objective, even if in reality neither Michael nor Matthew were related to him in the traditional sense, and neither was particularly enthused about the manner in which he had forced this unexpected reunion.

    “We can’t just sit here and stare at each other,” Owens Senior said, briefly glancing at the freighter that had shown no signs of life since they had approached it inside the rings of a giant planet orbiting one of the countless bright stars of the Diaspora. “Shouldn’t we try and say hello?”

    “Or we could take their inactivity to mean that they have no interest in meeting with us,” said Matthew.

    Frobisher activated a couple of controls on his instrument panel. “Windjammers, this is Westren Frobisher of Arkaria Prime. We seek your assistance to traverse the Amargosa Diaspora. Please respond.”

    Silence was all they received in return, the freighter simply hanging motionless in space surrounded by stellar debris.

    “Perhaps they cannot hear us,” said Culsten. “Maybe they are experiencing technical difficulties.”

    Frobisher regarded his instrument panel again and shook his head. “Sensors are not showing any abnormalities and multiple life signs.”

    “In other words,” said Matthew, “they can hear us but they’re not interested in talking. We tried, let’s just get out of here.”

    “And go where exactly?” Frobisher shot back. “We can’t go back to Arkaria with half the Dominion probably already looking for us and we won’t survive an hour against the Outlanders on our own. No, this is our only shot.”

    “Any other ideas of getting their attention?” said Culsten.

    “We could board her,” said Garla.

    “Are you insane?” Matthew nearly barked, garnering him a death stare so intense, for a moment Michael worried that he had to physically restrain her from trying to throttle him right then and there. “You do not mess with these guys. They could make our life extremely painful. The last thing we want to do is waltz over there uninvited.”

    “They won’t be a match for a Krellonian Sentinel.”

    “Yeah, I don’t know what that is, lady,” Matthew said and Michael had to give him credit for the way he was standing up to her intensity, refusing to be intimidated by her. “I know you handled yourself admirably against those Jem’Hadar soldiers but back there you had the element of surprise. And we’re talking about an entire ship packed with ruthless killers.”

    “I’ll have to agree with Matt on this one,” Michael said. “We’re trying to get their help, not take over their ship.” Matthew barely even acknowledged Michael agreeing with him, clearly, he had not yet forgiven him for the way he had assaulted Frobisher earlier, even if the man who had been the victim of his emotional outburst seemed to have long since moved past the episode.

    “Windjammers, this is Frobisher,” the scientist tried again. “It is a matter of grave importance that you hear us out. All our lives could depend on it, including yours,” he said just before cutting the comms and regarding the crew packed into his small shuttle with a little smirk. “Never a bad idea to play up the drama.”

    “It really isn’t far off the truth,” said Jon.

    Michael had to steady himself when the ship shook suddenly while Garla held on to Lif before he could lose his balance.

    He whipped his head back toward the viewport, fearing that these mercenaries had decided to attack them. Instead, he could see the telltale blue shimmer of a tractor beam.

    “They’re pulling us in,” said Frobisher, pointing out the obvious once everyone onboard could feel the change in momentum and see the freighter’s hangar bay doors opening.

    “Guess you’ve got through to them after all,” said Jon once he had found a place to hold on to as the ship continued to tremble under the force of the beam it was now caught in.

    “I do not have a good feeling about this,” said Culten, keeping his eyes glued on the freighter and the shuttlebay they were approaching.

    “Once we’re on board,” said Frobisher. “Just let me do the talking. I know how these people operate.”

    “Right,” said Matt, sounding anything but convinced.

    As was to be expected from an old freighter that looked like its best days were long behind it, the bay they were being pulled into wasn’t exactly pristine. In fact, Michael could not recall ever having seen a more dirty and disorganized shuttle deck on a starship before, although he was certain that his long career in Starfleet had spoiled him in such matters.

    As they approached the expansive landing deck that was comparable in size to one of Eagle’s cargo holds, it became quickly obvious that the Windjammers used the large space in a very similar manner, judging by the many haphazardly stored and mismatched crates and containers stacked on top of each other in a way that would give a Starfleet quartermaster permanent nightmares.

    He could see a halfway disabled shuttle shoved into the far corners and parts of at least four other similar-sized vessels littered throughout the deck as if somebody had decided to build a starship from scratch and without so much as a blueprint.

    Much of the cargo stored here had spilled out of the containers and in one corner a number of barrels were leaking bright green sludge that not only looked toxic but according to the large warning labels plastered on the containers should only be handled with proper safety gear.

    Michael didn’t have much time to take in the rest of the chaos in the bay as the shuttle was unceremoniously dropped onto the deck from a good few meters above it, the artificial gravity slamming the ship so hard, nobody inside remained on their feet.

    “That’s what I call a warm welcome,” said Culsten as he helped Michael and then the others off the floor after he had bounced back up first.

    “Don’t worry,” said Frobisher as he was righting his tunic. “These guys have some rough edges but they’re good people.”

    Matthew was clearly of a different opinion but this time kept it to himself.

    Frobisher activated the exterior hatch which opened promptly.

    Michael felt a near irresistible urge to gag when his senses were attacked by a range of foul odors all at once, including what had to be rotting foodstuffs and leaking coolant fluids.

    “Lovely place,” said Garla as she stepped out of the shuttle after Frobisher had disembarked.

    Michael was the last man out and by the time he managed to get a good look at the shuttle bay, he realized that the place looked even worse up-close than it had from behind a viewport.

    The large entry doors parted to allow a group of eight crewmembers to enter. Or at least, Michael assumed they were crewmembers. They were a mishmash group, all hailing from different races and he could spot at least one Orion, a Bolian, and a Nausicaan among them. They did not wear uniforms but rather civilian attire, some of which were clearly designed to appear threatening, such as the sleeveless vest that did nothing to hide the tall, green Orion’s massive arms or the two phaser holsters strapped to the Nausicaans chest.

    The Windjammers, Michael quickly realized weren’t just mercenaries. This group looked like the type of pirates that back home in his universe was more commonly found in holo-novels rather than in real life.

    Garla quickly tensed up, getting ready for a fight. Michael had seen her in action already and wasn’t so sure if she wouldn’t be able to prevail against these heavily armed men and women facing them now.

    “If it isn’t Professor Westren Frobisher.”

    The voice sounded eerily familiar to him.

    A dark-skinned woman with a buzz cut and wearing a rather fashionable brown leather jacket pushed aside the tall Orion with ease as she stepped in front of the group.

    “Amaya,” Michael said, recognizing her face instantly, even if very little else looked like the woman he knew. He couldn’t hide his astonishment at seeing her yet again, and seemingly disguised as a cutthroat privateer, even if surprises were becoming almost predictably commonplace since their sojourn into quantum reality had commenced.

    She considered him briefly, shooting him an odd look, but then her eyes found Frobisher again and she quickly closed in on him.

    Frobisher for his part put on his best smile. “Amaya, always a pleasure. I was hoping—“

    He didn’t get to finish his sentence courtesy of the fist connecting with his jaw with lightning speed and flattening him to the deck almost instantaneously.

    It was déjà vu for Michael, who subconsciously reached for his own face where a very similar-looking woman had placed a haymaker not so long ago.

    This Amaya had a phaser in her hand in a flash, pointing it right at the sprawled out man on the floor. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t disintegrate your worthless ass right here and now,” she said as she hovered above him.

    “I told you this was a terrible idea,” Matt Owens mumbled.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2022
    SolarisOne and Galen4 like this.
  19. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    My oh Maya! That's quite the surprise! The Windjammers or Starjammers sound like a barrel full of laughs.

    Very much liking the tight focus and details - particularly the shuttle bay. Thanks!! rbs
     
    CeJay likes this.
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    5


    Ever since the day of her joining, she had been able to rely on the calming wisdom of her symbiont with its five lifetimes of experiences. She hadn’t always listened to what it was they were telling her, in fact, during the worst times in her life, she had almost made it a habit to ignore the vast sagacity she had access to in order to make her own—and oftentimes terrible—decisions.

    But now, as Tazla Star stood there, at the center of the bridge, staring at the viewscreen that showed her the nightmarish views of three gray-green geometric shapes baring down on her and her crew, for one of the first times in her life as a joined Trill, her symbiont had no answers for her and it left her in a cold sweat.

    Leva broke the eerie silence that had fallen over the bridge after their enemy had revealed itself. “Sensors are confirming three Borg vessels. They are comparable to our records of a Borg sphere and two probes. All three are on an intercept course and at their current speed they will reach us in ten minutes and twelve seconds.”

    Tazla’s stupor didn’t last. Sure, none of Star’s former hosts, including herself, had ever encountered the Borg, but that just meant that she would have to rely solely on her own wit and training. And just like with any other task she had ever set herself, she was determined to prevail. She glanced at the tactical officer. “Can we outrun them?”

    He shook his head. “We will not be able to match their speed.”

    “They seem extremely eager to get to us,” said Deen from her station.

    “Nothing new there then,” said Eli Katanga who seemed too anxious all of a sudden to remain in his chair. “We’ve been the curiosity of the week ever since we got here. Everybody, it seems, wants a piece of us.”

    “On any other day I’d be flattered by all the attention,” said Tazla, trying on some levity she didn’t truly feel.

    “I really hope you’ve got a plan here, Dez,” he said, falling back on calling her by the nickname of Star’s former host and his life-long friend. “Previous Starfleet encounters with these guys didn’t go so well in our universe if I recall.”

    She glanced back at her tactical officer. “Your analysis?”

    The half-Romulan only had to consider the question for a second, clearly, his mind already preoccupied with that very matter. “We’ve encountered the Borg on one previous occasion,” he said and then continued when she responded with a quizzical look. “Before your time, Commander. It was a cube, multiple times larger than these ships, however, we had the assistance of a Romulan and Cardassian ship to defeat it.”

    She nodded slowly when she recalled reading about the incident while studying Eagle’s logs after her arrival as first officer. The episode had occurred at the fringes of explored space while Eagle had been chasing after an ancient Hyterian artifact that apparently had been in such high demand, even the Borg had attempted to secure it for themselves.

    “We learned a few things about their tactics when we fought them, and although we are outnumbered now, we do possess one advantage we didn’t have last time.”

    “The transphasic shield,” Tazla said, nodding. “How long will we be able to last against a full assault?”

    “Hard to say. And we don’t know if their weapons are comparable to what the Borg have access to in our universe. My conservative estimate would be thirty minutes at the most.”

    “What about the Moebius Cluster?” said Katanga. “I dread the idea of returning into that hellscape of space but it did work for us last time.”

    Ensign Aliris at the helm shook her head. “At maximum warp, we’ll need at least forty-five minutes to get back into the hazard zone, the Borg will catch up with us long before that.”

    “And we cannot use the transphasic shield at warp,” added Alendra from where she now stood at Leva’s right-hand side, anticipating that she may be needed to assist him at tactical.

    “Half an hour to beat three Borg ships,” Tazla said, mostly to herself, and then nodded. “We can do that,” she added with confidence she hoped would help inspire her crew, even if it was less than one-hundred percent genuine. “Red alert. Stand by to raise the transphasic shield. Get everybody to battle stations. I want civilians and non-essential personnel in secure and well-shielded areas. I need all available power to shields and weapons and everything else shut down. We’re going to make our stand right here, which means we won’t need warp engines and can use every last drop of plasma for defensive and offensive purposes.”

    Deen shot her a skeptical look. “Which will also leave us without a viable escape strategy.”

    Tazla took in the incoming threat on the screen again, as if she could somehow spot a weakness in those perfectly geometric shapes. “We’ve been in tougher scrapes. Yes, the Borg are scary but we know they can be defeated and I trust this ship and crew to do so again.” She turned to consider Eli who gave her a reassuring nod. She knew he wasn’t much for bravado, but all she really needed from him now was his confidence and he seemed happy to oblige. “You better get sickbay ready. I fear we may have to rely on your services there.”

    “Let’s just hope it won’t have to come to that,” he said but then quickly turned and headed for the turbolift.

    In the meantime, the rest of the bridge crew went to work, accompanied by the flashing red alert lights and klaxon to ready the ship for battle with the enemy.

    Tazla gave her people five full minutes of focusing on their work without interfering, keeping one eye on the approaching Borg ships while listening to the choir of orders from Deen, Leva, and Alendra to the rest of the crew.

    Anxiety ultimately got her out of her chair again and she turned to regard the two officers at the tactical board. “Talk to me. Are we ready for this?”

    “How can you ever truly be ready for the Borg?” said Alendra and then, as if realizing that she should probably have internalized that thought, she looked up with a sheepish look.

    Tazla decided to let it slide, considering that she felt much the same way.

    “We are as ready as we can be,” said Leva. “The ship and crew are secure and all offensive and defensive systems are fully powered. Engineering reports all auxiliary power is on standby and ready to supplement weapons and shields at a moment’s notice.”

    “Tactical suggestions?” she said. Tazla considered herself a fairly decent combat strategist and had scored well in her mandatory tactical courses at the Academy but she knew she wasn’t nearly as experienced or knowledgeable in the field as the Romulan.

    However, it was Alendra who responded first. “I suggest we drop a few tri-cobalt devices in their flight path. Coupled with a warp flare and a sudden drop to sub-light may make it appear that we are having engine trouble and also blind their sensors long enough to miss them altogether.”

    Leva shot the Bolian at his side an astounding look. “That’s actually pretty good.”

    “Gee, thanks.”

    “Mines?” Star said.

    Alendra nodded.

    “Worth a shot. As soon as we’re back to impulse, raise the transphasic shield and give me all available power to weapons,” she said as she took her seat again, feeling decidedly uncomfortable in the padded command chair but doing her level best to pretend otherwise. “Showtime, people.”

    “Initiating warp flare,” said DeMara Deen.

    “Tri-cobalt devices away,” said Leva.

    The helmsman was next. “Dropping out of warp.”

    “Transphasic shield is up,” said Alendra.

    Their timing, it quickly appeared, had been spot on. The Borg with all their advanced technology lost their sensor lock on Eagle for just a second but long enough to miss the powerful weapons being deployed right into their path as well as the Starfleet ship pumping the brakes hard.

    Their strategy was rewarded by a massive green fireball on the screen that made Tazla want to yelp with joy.

    “Catastrophic damage to one of the Borg probes,” said Leva with noticeable appreciation in his voice.

    “Well done, people.”

    “Both remaining ships are now in weapon’s range,” said Deen.

    “Open fire, Commander. Targeting is at your discretion,” Tazla said, fully intent to press their advantage as hard as possible.

    The light show that followed was truly awesome as the tactical officer unleashed everything Eaglehad to offer, bright orange phaser beams, fired both as steady beams as well as in rapid-fire, staccato bursts; dozens of burning red photon torpedoes, interspersed with their more powerful, quantum cousins, shining like bright blue mini stars.

    And most of it struck the Borg vessels dead on, ripping large chunks out of their dark hulls and causing red and green explosions where they made contact.

    “The second probe has been disabled,” said Deen while her fingers danced over her console.

    Tazla was monitoring things by referring to the armrest computer rather than keeping her eyes on the screen. “Let’s keep it up. Focus our fire on the sphere. Aliris, attack pattern kappa-three, full impulse, keep us moving.”

    The Borg did not take things lying down, of course, and the sphere’s response came quicker than Aliris could move the ship out of harm’s way.

    Tazla saw it coming and braced herself in her chair. The impact rattled the ship but their shields, once again, did their job and absorbed most of the damage.

    “Shields holding at eighty-nine percent,” said Alendra.

    Tazla nodded. Things were going fairly well so far.

    “I am targeting the most heavily damaged sections of the sphere,” said Leva.

    She could see that the tactical officer unleashed more quantum torpedoes at their target not sparing the high-powered missiles. Under any other circumstances, she would have been concerned about his liberal use of their limited supply, but she understood that a win here was far more significant than coming out of this with surplus torpedoes.

    A veritable geyser of green steam and fire erupted where Leva had targeted the Borg ship.

    But Tazla was looking toward Deen at operations, the blonde Tenarian appearing far more concerned than was called for considering how the battle had fared so far. “What is it, Dee?”

    “I’m reading extraordinarily high activity on the ultralow EM spectrum.”

    Tazla knew that this wasn’t a good omen but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it meant. “Source?”

    “It’s definitely coming from the sphere. And it is targeting us.”

    Xylion was out of his chair before she could glance his way, taking quick strides toward the science station where he smoothly took the chair and began to work the controls. “Confirmed. It is a sophisticated cyber-attack aimed at our main computer core. Primary systems are not at risk, however, at this rate, the Borg will gain access to our databanks in one minute and twelve seconds.”

    “Can we stop it?”

    “The transphasic shield is not designed to repel ultralow EM emissions,” said Xylion.

    Tazla didn’t need long to realize the threat they were up against. The Borg weren’t looking to disable them, they were trying to download their database and learn everything they knew. She knew she couldn’t allow them to learn of the Ring. Fighting the Borg was a nightmare scenario in itself; thinking of the Borg gaining access to the quantum-verse was unimaginable.

    “Shut down the main computer and switch to auxiliary cores.”

    “That action will significantly reduce our battle efficiency,” Xylion said.

    “I’m aware, Commander. But we can’t take the chance. Do it, do it now.”

    “Main computer is powering down,” he said.

    “Mister Leva, keep giving it all she’s got,” she said, as she had to hold on to her armrest as the Borg were clearly determined to punch through their overpowered shields, which, according to the readouts of her display were down to sixty-five percent.

    The tactical officer let loose more phaser and quantum torpedoes that the Borg didn’t even attempt to dodge.

    “Main computer is now shut down. Auxiliary cores are active,” said the Vulcan science officer.

    “I think the Borg took notice,” said Alendra. “They’ve targeted us with a tractor beam.”

    “A tractor beam?” she said, not sure she understood this tactic. “Can that penetrate our shields?”

    Deen shook her head. “No, not really. The Borg are known to use tractor and cutting beams to damage starships’ hulls but this won’t work while our transphasic shield is still up.”

    This move was throwing her for a loop. As it stood, their shields were still holding strong, invalidating any attempts to cut through their hull but she was well aware that the Borg rarely did anything without reason. “Keep firing. Try to disable the beam emitter.”

    Leva didn’t sound encouraged. “The Borg vessel is moving too rapidly, the auxiliary computer is unable to adjust targeting quickly enough.”

    She saw it on the screen. The Borg vessel seemed to spin and turn almost as if defying the laws of physics, keeping their tractor beam in place as if it were glued to their shields even while it continued to take damage from Leva’s ongoing barrage.

    Tazla got out of her chair and headed for the helm. “Aliris, we need more speed. Try to shake’em off.”

    The Risian ensign was clearly doing all she could, her fingers racing across her panel. Tazla could see and feel the ship zigzagging sharply through space but it was still not enough to get that Borg tractor beam to dislodge.

    “Commander, I believe I have determined the Borg’s objective,” Xylion said, still working at the science station.

    She turned to regard him all the way at the back of the bridge. “What is it?”

    “The Borg are firing short bursts of omicron particles through the tractor beam. High concentrations of omicron radiation may cause local disruptions to the transphasic shields for a short period of time.”

    “Enough to hurt us?” she said.

    “Negative. The size of the area affected is less than one point four yoctometers in diameter, not enough to allow any significant damage to the hull by Borg weaponry.”

    “Then what are they trying to accomplish?”

    Deen seemed to have an idea. “The location of the tractor beam has remained consistent to the shield perimeter directly above the bridge.”

    That forced Tazla to look up and at the skylight above her and for the first time seeing actual visual evidence of that green energy beam latched on to them just a few hundred meters above her head.

    A tingling sensation deep down in her gut told her that her symbiont was having grave concerns about what all of this meant and she couldn’t help but feel like a fish caught on a hook.

    “Commander,” Xylion said. “Theoretically, the disruption to the transphasic shield caused by the Borg assault is sufficient to gain a transporter lock.”

    Her eyes opened wide when it finally dawned on her what the Borg were up to. Too late to realize that the feeling in her stomach had quickly spread to the rest of her body and had little to do with Star. She tried to shout urgent orders but by the time the words escaped her mouth, she had already started to disappear.