Treacherous Waters - Gibraltar/Intrepid Crossover

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    I couldn't have said it better, myself. Quite a ride you guys just took us on. I definitely feel like I need to stop and catch my breath before I read the next chapter. How much more complicated can things get from here (he asks with unconvincing innocence.) :cool:
     
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Awesome segment. The mental attack was an unexpected and unconventional way to avoid certain death and is sure to cause massive repercussions for Shantok and possibly other crew members as well.

    Very nicely done.
     
  3. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Yeah, poor Shantok. Her telepathy has made her a target in previous stories. This is the first time we see her go on the offensive with it.
    All told, telepathy is one ability I wouldn’t want. Give me heat vision any time.

    More to come. And thanks as usual, for the commentary.
     
  4. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    These people have been through hell. It'll be interesting to see how you two wrap this up.
     
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Treacherous Waters - Chapter 25

    Chapter 25 <combined>

    USS Gibraltar

    The steady beep of the heart monitor had lulled Ensign Lightner to sleep earlier, but now it only served as a focal point for his anxiety.

    The only woman he'd ever loved now clung to life by a very fragile thread in the isolation ward just across from him. Saihra Dunleavy appeared cocooned within successive layers of compression bandages, ostio-regenerator garments, and a null-g circulatory wrap.

    Taiee finished her post-operative examination of Dunleavy, and stepped through the isolation room door which hummed softly as the nurse practitioner breached the sterilization field.

    She took a seat next to Lightner, who lay curled in a chair under a blanket. The ensign raised a corner of the covering, "Do I have you to thank for this?"

    Taiee nodded. "You were asleep." She gestured to Dunleavy in the next room, "She's hanging on, she's fighting. That's a good sign."

    Lightner's gaze was distant. "When I found her, I thought she was dead. There was so much blood."

    "You and the security team did a wonderful job with her first aid care, Ensign. Considering she'd just slammed into the surface at hundreds of kilometers per hour, it's amazing she survived long enough for you to get her out."

    He nodded numbly, "It was the crash-web that saved her, that and the SWIFT's shields."

    "No," Taiee placed a comforting hand on Lightner's shoulder. "You saved her, Brett."

    "Not yet I haven't."

    Taiee smiled supportively, "She's young and strong and she apparently has a lot to live for." Taiee gave him a pointed look.

    Lightner grinned sheepishly. "We've been trying to keep it quiet."

    "You've done a good job," Taiee noted. "I usually know everything that's going on aboard this ship."

    "She's self-conscious about dating someone younger than her, especially a bridge officer."

    Taiee chuckled, "You mean to say she's afraid of what her fellow security knuckle-draggers would think about her seeing a pilot romantically?"

    He nodded, "Yeah." His expression grew suddenly concerned. "When Saihra regains consciousness... if she does... don't tell her about Commander Ramirez. She idolizes the XO. I don't know if she could take hearing that right now, under the circumstances."

    Taiee held his troubled gaze. "You have my word that I won't mention it until she's stable enough to take the news."

    The medical officer knew of the young man's troubled family history, and that his older brother had just been sent back to prison for the second time in a decade for fighting as a Maquis terrorist. He was emotionally fragile right now, and Taiee didn't know how Lightner would cope if Dunleavy didn't recover.

    "You need to get some sleep, Brett. I'll call you if there's any change."

    He shook his head fractionally, "I can't leave her."

    Taiee stood. "That's fine." She pulled the blanket up and tucked it under Lightner's chin. She resisted the urge to tousle his hair. "Keep your fingers crossed, kiddo."

    *****

    USS Intrepid

    Jason Aubrey was having a peculiar dream. He was ten years old again, lying on the shore of Seattle’s Angle Lake, one side of this face pressed against the muddy shore. The sand held a quarter inch of water that swayed gently beneath his skin. Oddly enough it seemed very much like bath water.

    The lapping warmth felt so good, he entertained no immediate plans of getting up. He was experiencing a womb-like comfort, as though he were safely curled up in a distant corner of time and space, far removed from the turmoil of adulthood. He was a child of the 20th century again, no more and no less-----just as it should be.

    As it always would be.

    His best friend, Jeff Burke stood over him, both hands on his hips. “C’mon Jason! Are you just gonna lie there?” Jeff craned his head back towards the odd house that sat just up the sloping shore. Moments before, Jason had noticed a pulsing glow turn the structure invisible. He had just informed Jeff of his discovery and both of them had agreed to investigate.

    Only Jason no longer wanted to go, and it wasn’t just because he was comfortable in the sand either. The thing was, he had foresight. Or was it hindsight? Anyway, he knew what lie in store for he and his friend if they went to that place. He knew about the monster-woman, the secret agents from the future-----and he knew that pretty soon now he would be taken away…away from his father, away from his friends, away from his life…

    And it wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair!

    Jeff threw his hands in the air, obviously exasperated. “Shit, you just lay there then.” He jammed an indignant thumb into his bare chest. “But I’m going!”

    The other boy was off, trotting up the slope with his mop of blonde hair bobbing up and down in the wind.

    Jason felt his stomach drop as panic took root. “No.” He croaked. “No. Don’t go up there Jeff.” He had meant to yell his warning, but his words came out as a weedy puff, as if muffled by an unseen barrier.

    He tried to jump up, but his limbs only spasmed weakly. He was having a heck of a time getting his face off the wet sand for some reason.

    Meanwhile, Jeff had almost made it there. The structure had now swollen into a haunted funhouse, complete with twisted spires and contorted angles-----a Halloween mansion of nightmares. Unearthly light spilled from misshapen windows.

    Jeff Burke was about to die for the second time.

    “No,” Jason moaned. “Turn, Jeff. Turn! Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn-----“

    ***​

    Captain Aubrey bolted erect in his command chair. “TURN!” He bellowed hoarsely.

    “Captain, try to stay calm.” The medic said soothingly. “You’re going to be fine.”

    For a moment, Aubrey tried to reconcile the smoky starship bridge with Angle Lake and wondered where the water had gone. He could tell that the warmth against his face was still there. He raised a shaking hand to his cheek and discovered it wasn’t warm water after all. It was his own blood. The pressure of the ground had been his head resting against the chair.

    An elderly Asian woman looked at him with concern. Her eyes crinkled at him as she eased him back against the chair. “Sir, you have a severe concussion and a deep lesion. I need you to remain still.” Her hands were already at his temple, using a dermal regenerator to seal his wound. “You’re lucky that piece of shrapnel didn’t take the top of your head off.”

    “How’s…ship?” He heard his own question spoken by someone in another room. At least it sounded like that to him. His eardrums felt ready to rupture from a pounding skull.

    “We’re all still in one piece, Captain. How I don’t know.” She took his chin and turned his head slowly to one side so that she could capture his entire wound with the healing beam. Aubrey winced as his flesh began to knit itself together.

    When the job was done, he tried to stand. He made if half way out of his chair before vertigo pulled the room from beneath him. He sat down heavily, gasping for air. Nausea slithered into his gut, threatening to empty his stomach at the slightest provocation.

    The medic, (whom he recognized as Nurse Chen), had a firm clasp of his forearm. “Whoa, hold on there Captain. Your wound is sealed but you have a bad concussion to contend with. And there’s blood loss. Don’t think you’re getting up anytime soon.” As she scolded him, she had a tricorder humming over his head and upper torso.

    At some point, two versions of Lt. Commander Adol appeared in front of Aubrey’s blurry vision. As he concentrated, both Andorians merged back into a single person again.

    Adol was nearly grimacing with worry as he interrogated the nurse on the captain’s condition. He was clearly relieved upon hearing Aubrey was stable and in no immediate danger.

    It took some effort, but finally Aubrey ordered Nurse Chen away, insisting that other crewmembers needed her help more. She reluctantly agreed, but left standing “orders” that the captain stay off his feet until bed space and personnel could be freed up to tend to him properly.

    By the time Adol finished updating him on ship’s status and recent events, the nurse’s injection had cleared the major symptoms that were left. He was still dizzy, but the pain, blurry vision and nausea were gone and he could at least think straight.

    “Twenty-two confirmed causalities.” Aubrey repeated dully. “Fourteen others trapped below decks.”

    “Yes sir, most of the causalities were in engineering. The trapped crewmembers are divided between the primary and secondary hulls. With the help of Gibraltar’s people, we should have all of them freed within the hour. Sooner, if the transporters come online.”

    “Any word on Benjamin’s condition?”

    Adol believed in the philosophy of taking one’s medicine quickly and without the benefit of sugar. “Nothing new since the medic’s initial report. But he’s listed in critical condition from exposure to coolant. Dr. Kella wasn’t definite, but it sounds like he’s not expected to survive.”

    Aubrey watched as Ensign Sorna was taken away on a floating stretcher.

    Adol didn’t wait for the question. “All I heard was a remark about neural trauma from Shantok’s…from her attack.”

    The captain chewed over the bad news silently. “And where is the Commander?”

    He inclined his head towards the rear of the bridge. “Your ready room, sir. Once the medic brought her around she left me in charge and-----“ He lowered his voice. “Sir, what she did cost her. She’s in bad shape. I think you know what I mean.”

    Aubrey slid clumsily from his chair and stood swaying before his security chief. “I’m going in to see her. Continue coordinating repair efforts out here and give me updates every 15 minutes. Also, make sure long range sensors are set to track approaching craft. We’re still in a war zone. I don’t want any sympathizers to take advantage of our weakness.”

    Adol’s antennas waved in approval. “Already done sir.”

    “Very good.” He began an ungainly waddle towards the closed doors at the rear of the bridge.

    “Sir, one other thing.” Adol called after him. “Captain Sandhurst is aboard, personally leading his own rescue teams.”

    The other man smiled thinly. He was by now getting a very good sense of how Sandhurst did things. Part of him was glad to have such an officer at his side. Another part of him found it troubling. There was something askew about Gibraltar’s skipper, he just couldn’t put his finger on what it was.

    His smile lengthened as he thought, I should be the one to talk.

    ***​

    Sandhurst led the damage control team into the chaotic scene that was Intrepid's engineering section. While medical personnel immediately set to work tending to the injured, Sandhurst and a team of technicians began to assess and repair the most catastrophic damage.

    Back in the environment that had forged his career, Sandhurst took command. He dispatched personnel throughout the ship to fight plasma fires, staunch coolant leaks, reinforce hull integrity, and essentially patch the old girl back together as quickly as possible.

    As Sandhurst pulled on a radiation-hardened body suit in preparation to visually inspect the matter/anti-matter injection chamber, he nodded to Juneau as she approached. “Rumor has it that you saved the ship, Lieutenant.”

    She blushed fiercely, “I did my part,” she offered.

    “I knew you had it in you, Olivia.” He pulled on a pair of bulky gloves, “I need you to grab a couple of technicians and see to the starboard/aft EPS relays. We won’t be able to restore warp power until they’re stabilized.”

    She bobbed her head in assent and turned to collect two engineers and their equipment. Juneau paused briefly to watch Dr. Kella attending to Cal Benjamin, who was being loaded onto an anti-grav litter. She wanted to go to him, but he was already being cared for and she had a job to do.

    Juneau took her technicians in tow and sprinted out of engineering.

    *****
     
  6. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Treacherous Waters - Chapter 25 continued

    Chapter 25 continued

    Carris looked out from under the Orion’s brawny arms. “Is it over?” He whispered meekly. “Is it finally over?”

    Counselor Perboda stood up carefully from the floor, where he had been laying his considerable bulk over Carris and Pe’los to protect them. “I think so.” He ventured.

    Pe’los chattered shrilly. Her speech was so fast that the universal translator was always scrambling to keep up. The computer dubbed over the complex jigsaw of her native language with a simulation of her voice. By a quirk, the translator bestowed an Australian accent on her. “Thank you sir, for the earnest attention to our safety.”

    Perboda pushed a grin through his taught face. “It’s my job,” He said in a beguiling tone.

    Pe’los loped towards the window. She placed her hands on the transparency and peered outward as though viewing a zoo attraction. Her ape-like face swung wide arcs of curiosity before the black void.

    Perboda was soon updated by the PA system that the crisis had passed and rescue teams were moving through the ship.

    He turned back to the children. “Okay, listen kids: you’ll be safe if you remain here in my cabin. I have to go to sickbay for awhile.”

    Pe’los ran forward and hugged the counselor’s leg. “You’re going about then? But you’re not a healer-person are you?”

    He sank down to her level. “The fighting’s over but many people were hurt. When that happens I always go help my friend Dr. Kella.” He patted her shoulder with a large green palm. “Just stay here. You’ll be safe. But you have to promise. If you go outside you could get hurt. Okay?”

    “Okay.” Pe’los agreed with drooping features. “I can wait then.”

    “Oh, you witch!”

    The counselor looked at Carris, wondering what had prompted the boy to utter such a strange curse. He decided the remark was directed at Pe’los, he just couldn’t understand why. “Carris? What’s wrong?”

    There was a lot wrong-----because the intelligence that had hijacked Carris’ brain was now feeling the presence of an intruder. It was the Vulcan woman. She had just brushed against his mind and noticed the Changeling’s new identity. Now alerted, the telepath had decided to linger, probing him for information-----and this underdeveloped child-brain had no shields against such a violation. He was exposed. He could feel her even now trolling for his secrets.

    Shantok’s power was staggering. He sensed that she could take utter control of him, or even destroy him if she wished it. How satisfying it must be to strike silently and stealthily, he mused, enslaving and killing your enemies with sheer will power.

    He envied her and hated her all at the same time.

    “Mind your own business you damn harpy!” He spat.

    Perhaps it was time to terminate the boy, before he became a liability?

    No. He decided that the boy’s life might be useful later on as leverage. His plan was well underway and even though the witch was plucking his mind, she could do nothing to stop it. No one could.

    Still, meddling Starfleet officers were resourceful-----and a diversion might help slow things down.

    Lt. Perboda was startled when he heard a low growl escape the kid’s mouth. He almost thought a large animal had entered the room. He bent down, growing more leery when he saw Carris’ face become something terrible. His soft features were now pure malice. It took no formal training in psychology to see that Carris was suffering an episode of some kind. Perboda’s hand went to his combadge to summon help.

    The Changeling puppet master had other plans. Keeping the Orion’s attention on him, he reached behind his back and withdrew a long knife from his trousers. He had snatched it during dinner, using a sleight of hand trick. He had suspected it might prove useful.

    It took both hands and all of Carris’ meager strength to bury the knife in Perboda’s abdomen.

    The counselor’s face slackened in shock as he fell backward onto his buttocks. He stared at the handle protruding from his stomach. Blood gurgled around it in a thick, steady eruption.

    Carris spat in the green barbarian’s face. “Thanks for the hospitality.” He leered.

    The boy had given little thought to Pe’los. He had the memories of his host-----and those memories told him that she was a humble creature who shunned conflict. He would dispose of her once he took Perboda’s phaser-----

    She cried out in fury. The roar was a throaty, animal sound-----something usually heard only in a deep jungle.

    Claws sprang from her fingertips.

    The Carris-thing had perhaps three seconds to consider this new twist before Pe’los fell upon him, slashing and hitting.

    ***​

    Lar’ragos and Lt. Mitsu stepped out of the turbolift and onto Intrepid’s bridge. The El Aurian spotted Adol and came to attention. ”Lieutenant Lar’ragos reporting aboard, sir. Captain Sandhurst instructed me to assist your personnel with recovery operations and securing the ship.“

    Adol glanced up distractedly from where he had been leaning over Pal’s shoulder at OPS. He tapped his combadge, apparently in the midst of juggling orders. “Acknowledged Beta Team. Leave two technicians there for mop up, then report to-----” He consulted a smudgy PADD in his left hand. “Deck seven, Section five to assist Kappa Team with life support. And mind your step, artificial gravity is down thirty-seven percent in that area.”

    A crackling response came back over his communicator, making the Andorian glower with annoyance. “How should I know?” He snapped. “Just make it happen, Ensign! Adol out.”

    “Sickbay has an updated casualty list, sir.” Pal reported.

    “Later.” Adol stepped towards the new arrivals. He dragged a filthy sleeve across his forehead before nodding briskly. “Sorry about that.” Taking in Lar’ragos and Mitsu, his assistant security chief, he allowed himself a moment of pleasure. “Good to see both of you again.”

    Lar’ragos cast a glance at the ready room door. His eyes narrowed slightly and he turned his attention back to Adol. ” Is Commander Shantok available, sir? It might be beneficial if I could speak to her.”

    Adol’s initial feeling was guarded. Despite his admiration of Lt. Lar’ragos, the man was an enigma to him, where as Shantok was his trusted commanding officer. (And friend when he dared to apply the term.) Sending a stranger to her side when she was at her most vulnerable was not his first choice.

    Fortunately, the decision wasn’t his to make. He tapped his communicator again. “Adol to captain.”

    Aubrey’s curt response came back. “Go ahead.”

    “Sir, Lt. Lar’ragos is out here. He would like to-----“ He looked meaningfully at his counterpart. “He believes that he can help the Commander.”

    There was a pause. “Stand by.”

    While they waited, Adol dispensed new orders to Mitsu, assigning him to a particularly hazardous section for repair detail. The stout Asian disappeared quickly through the starboard doors, as if impatient for his meeting with jeopardy.

    Taking advantage of a momentary lull in the commotion, the Andorian and the El Aurian stood together silently.

    “You’ve seen far worse in your time than I have,” Adol said abruptly. “Still, we have things in common. You and I live perpetually in the line of fire, so that others won’t have to. Few people understand that role and most would rather not.

    “So I won’t give you the standard babble about ‘my condolences’, because losing comrades is what it is-----and it will always stink.” He allowed a trickle of passion into his voice. “But I will tell you that I honor their sacrifices.”

    Lar’ragos dipped his head briefly in response. “I appreciate that, sir.” He cast a quick glance at the door to the ready room, then turned back to Adol. “I wanted you to know that your people performed superbly. While we were slugging it out with the Velk underground, your security teams safeguarded our medical personnel on the surface. Mitsu’s group repelled a Velk attack on their position and got all our people back safely. You've obviously trained them well.”

    Pava Lar’ragos was a living legend in the security community. His approval was worth more to Adol than a hundred medals. Of course, he wasn’t about to show it. He tried to make his reply sound nonchalant, but he couldn’t help standing just a bit taller as he spoke. “Lieutenant, you just earned yourself a bottle of Andorian whiskey.”

    “Yuck.” Pal exclaimed as he walked over. He gave Lar’ragos a solemn expression while handing Adol a PADD. “I’d steer clear if I were you.”

    Aubrey’s voice sparked to life. “Mr. Adol, send Lt. Lar'ragos in."

    ***​

    10 minutes earlier…

    Alone in Aubrey’s ready room, Shantok stood in the dim light. She seemed to be absorbed in the study of an Oberth class replica, which was perched upon a stand just to the right of the captain’s desk.

    In fact, she wasn’t seeing it. Her vision was cast inward, marshalling her stamina, attempting to reassemble a complex network of mental barriers and filters that had taken years to build.

    Because her discipline was in tatters, she couldn’t prevent the rogue thought that appeared. It was a scrap from Earth literature, a poem of some kind:

    And all the King’s horses and all the King’s men…​


    She was disappointed that she couldn’t pull the entire passage from her memory…or ascertain what significance it held to her present situation.

    The chime twittered at her. Pulling her expression into a neutral countenance, she told the visitor to enter.

    She wasn’t surprised to find Captain Aubrey behind the parting doors.

    Before she had a chance to consider this, something seemed to push out from his mind, making her flinch violently.

    She was horrified at the prospect of violating his privacy and instinctually shut out his thoughts in an instant. The mental shield she employed was rudimentary, primitive-----something a Vulcan child might learn during their first lesson. But it was sufficient.

    The connection to his mind snapped off. Yet, in that instant of contact she had tasted a vein of cruelty within him. There had also been disturbing images; mountains of rotting cadaverous choking an ancient city…a dead Earth…and mysteriously, even the picture of a young child standing on a lakeshore instilled a creeping dread within her.

    The word “Ragnarok” was prominent. For reasons unknown, it held a special significance to Aubrey that went beyond the mythological definition.

    Did these images represent memories? Or something else?

    “Commander?” Aubrey said into the stillness.

    She pulled back, refusing to decipher the data any further. “Captain. You’ve suffered a head wound. Should you be up?”

    He wobbled slowly towards the front of his desk before slumping ungracefully into a facing chair. “Probably not,” He said, breathing heavily. “But I’m concerned about you.” He noticed that she had reflectively taken a few steps back as he had approached her.

    Is she reading me? He wondered. Does she know?

    “I request to be relieved of duty.” She asked tightly. “At once.”

    The captain observed her as she hovered in the tangle of shadows beyond his desk. “I’ll be honest. I need you right now. The ship’s in pieces, and we’re drifting through a war zone.”

    “You don’t understand!” She seethed. “In my current state I’m a danger to the crew!” She moved into the light. “I’m a danger to you!”

    He took one look into her wild eyes and an unpleasant idea occurred to him; he wondered if she had gone mad. It was bad enough to consider the loss of his XO and friend, but the prospect of an unbalanced telepath running loose on his ship was even more disconcerting.

    A voice carried out of his badge, startling him. “Adol to Captain.”

    “Go ahead.”

    “Sir, Lt. Lar’ragos is out here. He would like to … he believes that he can help the Commander.”

    “Stand by,” Aubrey returned. He stood carefully, holding the edge of his desk for support. “So. Do you think he can help?”

    She seemed to ignore his question. “On the Guadalajara,” She began with uncharacteristic melancholy, “The terrible sacrifice you made back then…have you ever regretted it?”

    He was taken aback by the question. He hadn’t thought of his first command in years-----and Shantok had never once spoken of those days until now. The fact that she was bringing up a deeply personal and sensitive episode in the captain’s life, and doing so with such passion, only confirmed how far her control had slipped. “It was a necessary sacrifice.” He said simply. “We ended a war. We saved our ship.”

    She glided closer to him and her eyes blazed. “But have you ever regretted it?”

    He met the burning stare with resolve. What the hell, he thought. As long as we’re all undressing ourselves in public…“Regret it? Absolutely. Only command officers know the pleasure of doing the right thing and still not being able to look at yourself in the mirror afterward.”

    She moved back to the model of the Guadalajara, staring at it as though it were a meditation stone. “You may send in Lt. Lar’ragos.”

    Aubrey squinted with disapproval. “Is that wise? I know El Aurians have certain gifts, but-----“ But more telepathic shenanigans could make things worse. The sentiment was clear whether he decided to finish his sentence or not.

    She looked his way and dipped her head. When she replied, she seemed for just a moment, every bit the old Shantok. A delicate ear might have even detected a note of wry amusement. “No, it may not be wise. But I’m willing to entertain his offer never the less.”
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Re: Treacherous Waters - Chapter 25 continued

    Nice to see this story is still going strong.

    A rouge semi-changeling is still on the loose and Shantok is facing the possibility of losing her mind.

    In fact a lot of fascinating things are happening here while two crews are trying to pick up the pieces after a devastating battle.

    Top notch stuff!
     
  8. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    As Cejay said, a lot of pieces to pick up, physically, mentally and emotionally. Hopefully the pieces aren't so shattered where they can't be made whole again.

    Good to see Captain Sandhurst taking charge of relief efforts on the Intrepid. His background as an engineer will certainly help.

    Still some loose ends - dangerous loose ends, at that. Great stuff!
     
  9. HyperionReborn

    HyperionReborn Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    HyperionReborn
    Wow. It's been quite a ride these past few chapters. Galen, Gibraltar, great work. Can't wait to see how it all ends.

    It seems like the luck of the Gibraltar's crew has finally started to run out. Tark and Liana dead, Pava irreparably changed... I'm beginning to understand Sandhurst's state of mind at the beginning of Gravity.
     
  10. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    I must be missing something where Aubrey is concerned. Ragnarok? A dead Earth?

    All of the above comments echo my own thoughts.
     
  11. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Those images are part of Aubrey’s back-story, which was briefly summarized in Chapter 13. (Although if you blinked, you might have missed it.)

    I think only a few people here have read my series outside of the TW story, so I’ve tried to include major character elements to indoctrinate new readers.

    For those of you who would like a more robust explanation of Aubrey’s background, and why he’s becoming a live wire, I strongly suggest reading “Inevitability”, Parts One and Two at Trekfiction. The work is incomplete, but it explains what’s happening with him in more detail. It also gives the Angle Lake nightmare sequence featured in this chapter greater significance.

    Oh, just remember that INEV takes place before TW, specifically during the Dominion War. When this cross over is complete, I’ll finish INEV straight away. J

    “Inevitability” can be found here:

    http://www.trekfiction.com/directory/series-INTR_1.html

    I hope this helps, and thanks for the comments.
     
  12. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    Re-post the link when the tale is done and I'll read straight thru.
     
  13. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    I don't have much to add, other than I'm looking forward to see what else happens between 'now' and "Gravity."
     
  14. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    I'm curious about Aubrey as well--and I'll look up Inevitability now that I'm through with grading and have time for reading--and writing--once again. Sandhurst gets to feel for a short time that he's back to being an engineer--but the burdens of command are never far away. As for Shantock--she's got a long, hard road ahead of her and there are no guarantees that she's going to come through it and if she does--she will most likely not be the same person she was when she started.
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Treacherous Waters - Chapter 26

    Chapter 26 <combined>

    USS Intrepid

    Counselor Perboda watched in fascinated horror as the two children from the Bog outpost engaged in vicious hand-to-hand combat, ripping and tearing at one another like wild dogs.

    Perboda was trained in humanoid psychology. He had recognized that something was wrong with Carris since their first meeting. Unfortunately, he had mistaken the boy’s adversarial behavior as the product of a hard-fought life as a scavenger and thief. The child had caught him by surprise with his viciousness, stabbing Perboda in the stomach without warning.

    While he held the knife handle that was jutting from his abdomen, Perboda came to recognize the impossible: Carris had been infected with changeling DNA. Despite the medical scans and security precautions, somehow, against all odds, the boy had become the puppet of a deranged Founder.

    The boy’s simian-like companion, Pe’los, had leapt to Perboda’s defense and the two children were now engaged in a contest of unbridled fury.

    Perboda knew better than to try and remove the knife on his own. Keeping the rest of his body absolutely still, the large Orion fumbled with a free arm and unclipped his phaser. His other arm swatted at his combadge. “Security to my quarters!” He wheezed out.

    As he brought up the gun, shock drifted over his mind like a descending fog. He had only seconds before he passed out or became immobilized from his injury. The phaser felt as heavy as a boulder. His arm shook as he aimed the weapon at the children. He knew he would need to bring them both down.

    Pe’los bounced off the floor; her hairy blue arms descending like pendulums-----each blow arriving upon Carris with a hard crack. The snarling boy had thrown his own arms up to ward off the attack, but it was clear that his strength and speed was no match for his opponent. He had not been able to land more than a few counter-strikes.

    But one thing that the new and improved Carris had to his advantage was cunning. He noticed that Perboda had just leveled a weapon at them. He pivoted, then pushed his full body weight into Pe’los just as a scintillating orange light erupted from the phaser. The beam hammered into her back, protecting Carris while she absorbed the brunt of the nadion burst.

    His shield now gone, Carris stiffened in front of the counselor.

    All at once, the boy’s face melted into that of a frightened child. “Where am I?” He stammered. “H-how did I get here?” Through his scratched and bloodied face, Carris bugged out his eyes with terror and bewilderment. He gawked at Perboda’s phaser. “Please mister,” He begged. “Please don’t shoot me. I don’t know where I am.”

    Perboda kept his thumb on the firing plate, but didn’t depress it.

    Carris took a step forward, his small hands held out in supplication, with palms up. His forearms were visibly bruised from the beating he had just endured. “Can you help me?” He whimpered. “Please?”

    Perboda hesitated. His phaser was wobbling at the end of his arm, its mass seeming to grow by the second. Numbness had enveloped most of his body.

    The twelve-year-old boy took another step forward. “Please help me.”

    Perboda’s arm began to drop; his vision was becoming a cloudy blur. He no longer possessed the strength to keep the weapon aloft.

    Carris took two more steps. “What happened to you, mister?” He asked timidly. “Should I get help?”

    “Security…” Perboda slurred out the word before losing consciousness.

    Carris stood over him, his cut and soiled face cemented into a look of apprehension. His chest was heaving as he greedily swallowed big gulps of air. He took in the still forms of Perboda and Pe’los, his head snapping back and forth between them as if he were watching a tennis match.

    Then he emitted a high-pitched trilling giggle.

    Bending over, he snatched the phaser away from the green baboon. He fingered the unit up to maximum power and pointed it at the prone figure at his feet. His eyes widened in a contemptuous parody of the boy he inhabited. “Please sir, can you help me?” He crooned mockingly.

    There really was no good reason for extinguishing Perboda and Pe’los. Carris had been found out. A few murders would do nothing to change that fact.

    On the other hand, he really didn’t care. He was consumed by a desire to do as much damage as possible before he was neutralized. His plan couldn’t be stopped so why not add a little icing on the cake? The demise of the oafish Orion would only bring him that much more-----

    Carris never knew what hit him. From her position on the floor, Pe’los delivered a kick with both legs whose sheer power was on par with an adult stallion. Both of her feet drove into the boy’s upper back. The impact catapulted Carris over Perboda and into the bulkhead beyond, where he slid to the floor in a crumpled heap.

    Pe’los was a resilient being like most of the T’lolan race. The phaser had indeed brought her down, but she had not immediately succumbed to its effects. But now that she had disgorged her last reserves of strength, she lay unmoving as thought and energy fled from her body.

    “Sick…” She mumbled softly. “Your heart is sick, Carris…”

    Moments later she joined the other occupants of the room within a dreamless void.

    ****​

    From behind his desk, Captain Aubrey watched Lt. Pava Lar’ragos step into his ready room. Although he had seen the man briefly during his first visit, he was struck again by his underwhelming appearance. Lar’ragos was nearly half a head shorter than the captain and laid claim to an un-inspiring physique. He had difficulty imagining the person before him as the redoubtable soldier that his jacket advertised.

    But if one looked more closely, there were hints of what lay below a commonplace exterior; something in the way he moved, the way he appeared connected to his environment. Aubrey wondered if his humble demeanor was a deception to lull the unaware into complacency.

    Lar’ragos spared Aubrey a quick look of respect as he came to attention. The movement was fluid and took little conscious effort. “Captain Aubrey.” He then acknowledged Shantok. “Commander.” His face shifted by some indefinable degree, expressing empathy.

    “At ease, Lieutenant.” Aubrey said casually. He raised a hand to his temple. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t get up. I was attacked by part of the bulkhead a while ago.”

    Lar’ragos nodded politely. He offered a thin smile, not overly toothy and not a smirk-----one that was just right for the occasion. It should be, considering he had been perfecting it for over four centuries.

    Shantok broke her gaze from the and looked curiously at Aubrey. It was clear that he was making no effort to leave, as she would have expected.

    The captain made a weak gesture for Lar’ragos to take a seat. The other man slid into the offered chair, calmly anticipating what his long experience told him was coming next.

    “Lieutenant, let me be frank; I deeply appreciate your desire to help Commander Shantok.” Aubrey looked at her in a way that he hoped would convey sincerity. “And I don’t mean to interfere with her wishes. Ultimately, the decision is hers to make. However----“

    Shantok’s sullen impatience bubbled to the surface. “Sir, with respect, I assure you that any decision I make in this regard will be based on sound reasoning!” Clearly embarrassed by her obvious lack of control, she composed herself again, hoping her green blush would go unnoticed.

    “I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But I have an obligation to look out for your best interests while you’re in this…while you’re navigating this…difficulty.” He turned back towards Lar’ragos. “I have an idea of what you’re going to attempt. But first, I need to know what the potential risks are to Commander Shantok.”

    Lar'ragos remained focused on Shantok as he replied to the captain. "I really have no idea, sir. I'm not even sure I can be of any assistance to the Commander. My knowledge of Vulcan telepathy is woefully inadequate." He inclined his head, his next words meant for Shantok. "My people's gifts aren't telepathy, at least not in the way that ability is conventionally understood. What I can offer is a form of psionic shielding that I learned some time ago. It wouldn't do anything to salve the trauma you've already suffered, sir, but it might enable you to tune out all external telepathic activity... give you the silence you need to meditate and begin healing yourself."

    She moved silently to the edge of the desk, her fingers steeped in a classic mediation position. “Lieutenant, if we proceed, it will necessitate a mind-meld between us. With my control inhibited, the procedure could place you in considerable danger. My…abilities far exceed those of most telepaths.”

    “The danger involved doesn’t concern me, Commander” Lar’ragos replied soberly. “However, I would ask you to be selective in what you cull from my subconscious. And before you ask, it’s less an issue of my privacy than the potential of you incurring further trauma.” He met her gaze with grave seriousness. “I have done... questionable things in my time.”

    She raised an eyebrow minutely. “I will endeavor to heed your warning. However, there will be no guarantees for either of us. Let us hope that we both escape injury.”

    Aubrey informed Dr. Kella of the situation so she could attune the ship’s medical scanners to monitor their vital signs. Adol was then ordered to keep the ready room free of interruptions.

    “Best of luck. Come next door when you’re done.” He gave a final look of encouragement before walking out the side exit and into the adjoining conference room.

    Shantok’s fingers stretched towards Lar’ragos, each one splayed out to touch key areas of his face.

    She froze as some inner warning mechanism began to pulse insistently from the depths of her churning mind.

    The damage to Shantok was extensive and went beyond a mere loss of emotional and telepathic control. Some of her identity had been fragmented from the recent ordeal, leaving areas of her persona to function almost as separate entities. One aspect of her that had been splintered away from her conscious control was now thrumming with an instinctual will of its own. It had been roaming the ship, briefly caressing those aboard-----skulking around the crew’s surface thoughts.

    Up until now, these unconscious activities had blended in with the background turbulence within and had not gained her attention. It had been the telepathic equivalent of sleepwalking.

    But something had changed. Her roving psyche had stumbled across a great danger. She could almost feel the physical shape of it, as though she had reached into a dark room and grasped the blade of a dagger.

    She had unknowingly probed that danger to discover its secrets. Without her awareness, she had collected information, which slowly pooled within her mind until it now began to manifest itself on a conscious level. It was still an incomplete jigsaw puzzle-----but she could see the vision taking shape. Very soon a whole picture would emerge.

    Until she healed, there was no way to control or accelerate the process. The information had to come in its own time. It was like waiting for an especially slow data feed. For now, she was helpless to identify a nebulous threat.

    Lar’ragos studied the emotional shadows that moved across her face. He felt something from her that lay just below the surface-----it was a fleeting impression, something that represented a dire menace. He tried in that moment to make the impression coalesce, to translate it, but it felt maddeningly out of focus. “Commander, is something wrong?” He asked gently. “For a moment I sensed---“

    “No, Lieutenant.” Both of her eyebrows leveled into a horizontal line. “Or rather, I don’t know. But perhaps our efforts here will allow us to answer that question.”

    Lar’ragos’ only response was a fractional nod as he tried to clear his mind of all distractions in preparation for what was to come.

    A few minutes later, all that could be heard was Shantok’s hushed tone as she recited an ancient Vulcan mantra. It drifted through the shadowy office in an almost lyrical fashion.

    “My mind to your mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts…”

    ****​

    USS Gibraltar

    Pell Ojana sat stiffly in Gibraltar’s command chair, her eyes focused on the main viewer’s tactical overlay. Thus far the motley gathering of Velk military vessels in the system had remained in disarray. Though the occasional firefight broke out between one or more ships seemingly at random, they were of short duration and usually inconclusive in their outcome.

    It won’t stay this way for long, Pell brooded. Once they get their act together, one side or the other will move in for the killing blow. Nothing stokes the fire of nationalism than a clear and present threat by outsiders.

    She looked over at Shanthi, hunched over his Science board. “Status, Lieutenant?”

    “Unchanged,” he replied tiredly. “None of the factions have been able to gain an advantage over the others, and as we’re still in control of the orbital defense grid none of them can land troops or attempt further orbital bombardments against their enemies.”

    At least Donald did one thing right by taking control of the weapons satellites, Pell fumed internally. She still disagreed vehemently with his decision to assault the sub-surface base, despite the relative success of the attack and the exposure of the Changeling’s infiltration of the Velk government.

    The attack had made an already chaotic situation immeasurably worse. The various factions were exhausted from the fighting and frightened by the scope of the destruction they had already wrought on their planet. Sandhurst’s actions had slammed shut their brief window of opportunity to call a cease-fire to this abhorrent bloodletting.

    Pell rested her hands in her lap and forced herself to relax. Despite her anger with him, she hoped Sandhurst would finish aboard Intrepid and return to take the weight of this burden off her shoulders.

    ****​
     
  16. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Treacherous Waters - Chapter 26 cont'd

    <continued>

    USS Intrepid
    Main briefing room
    Deck one


    Aubrey sat and listened to Dr. Kella Lisern through the intercom with mounting apprehension. She had contacted him a few minutes earlier to report the attack on Counselor Perboda by Carris. Luckily, his wound was not life threatening and he was already in surgery. To the captain’s unhappy surprise, Kella had informed him that the boy was now under the influence of the Changeling.

    The Bajoran had further explained that Carris was sedated and in a secure isolation ward in sickbay. He was being treated for a head wound by the Emergency Medical Hologram, which was impervious to infection. She went on to report that Pe’los had been stunned by a phaser but was now recovering. Intrepid’s damaged warp core had released subspace pulses, so half the combadges were dead and part of the COMM network was down. She had not been able to reach the bridge until now.

    Aubrey was both confused and annoyed by her update. “Doctor, when we first discovered that Jivin Sharm was being controlled by changeling DNA, I had you and your staff screen the crew to make sure no one else was infected. Me, you, the children, everyone.”

    “And all of those tests came back negative.” She finished unnecessarily.

    “Then how did this get by us?”

    Then how did this get by YOU? The translation was all too apparent to Kella.

    She deflated noticeably. “The morphagenic tissue now takes on all of the bimolecular attributes of its host, in other words it mimics the surrounding organism in its entirety-----making it impossible to detect with our previous methodology.”

    Aubrey felt the tempo of his pulse quicken. “You mean that before, it retained enough of its DNA to show up on a deep scan. But not anymore.”

    “Yes sir. It’s learned to camouflage itself. I take full responsibility, Captain. I should have anticipated that a morphagenic compound would have this ability-----it did come from a changeling after all.”

    The captain held fast to the conference table. The deck seemed to rock beneath his feet as though he were aboard an ocean-going vessel. Apparently, the symptoms of his concussion were insisting on an encore performance. “So all of our previous medical screenings were useless.”

    There was a beat of silence. “Yes sir. That’s how Carris was overlooked.”

    Aubrey pulled himself erect within the chair. “Wait a minute. If the DNA is now undetectable, how can you be so sure that the boy is infected?”

    “I had my suspicions when I learned about the attack. As to how I gained proof…well, it occurred to me that the tissue might be invisible to us, but you can’t completely hide the effect it has on the humanoid brain. The change is subtle, but can be recognized once you know what to look for. Using Jivin Sharm’s neurological data as a base comparison, I determined that Carris’ brain activity shows the same conditions.” There was another pregnant silence, and Aubrey heard guilt re-enter her voice. “I should have had my people looking for that, not just changeling DNA.”

    “Don’t berate yourself too much, Doctor. We’re obviously dealing with an intelligence, here. Either the changeling is directing this from afar or the tissue is sentient and acting on its own. In any case, we can agonize over our mistakes once the danger is behind us. In the meantime, we have no way of knowing who among the crew has been compromised.”

    Kella acknowledged the dour conclusion. “And with part of our COMM network damaged and repair teams roaming from deck to deck, controlling the crew’s movements would be nearly impossible right now.”

    The conference room door chimed and Lt. Commander Adol stepped in, clutching two PADDS in his right hand. He stole a surreptitious glance towards the ready room doors.

    The captain waved him forward.

    “Sorry for the interruption, sir. But you wanted regular updates on damage control efforts.”

    Aubrey moved his head gently in an affirmative. He then held up an index finger, signaling that he wanted the Andorian to stand by.

    Kella continued. “But sir, based on my previous research, the changeling DNA has shown no ability to replicate itself. Even if it did, the tissue is unstable. The process would likely take far too long to control multiple subjects in this amount of time. It’s more likely that Carris was infected on the outpost-----or it migrated to the boy just prior to Sharm’s incarceration. I have a medic looking at Sharm now to confirm.”

    Aubrey took a contemplative look at Adol. “Go to Intruder Alert Status One and let’s do our best to reinstate changeling protocols. It might be ineffective right now, but it’s better than nothing. Make sure all stations and terminals receive emergency action messages.”

    Adol acknowledged the order.

    Kella felt a modicum of relief. “Sir, I also recommend that the ship be quarantined.”

    “Just what I had in mind. I want the Intrepid locked up tight. No one comes or goes without my direct order. Doctor, notify Gibraltar immediately and copy them on all of your data.” He stopped long enough to battle another round of dizziness. “I’ll get word to Captain Sandhurst.”

    ****

    USS Gibraltar
    Deck 5
    Forward Stateroom 512-C


    Taiee entered the cabin hesitantly. Sickbay was still full, and this was not the way she would have preferred to spend one of her infrequent rest breaks. Nevertheless, this unpleasant task would have to be started, and as the ship’s unofficial counselor and morale officer, Taiee had taken it upon herself to see it through. Two members of the ship’s enlisted contingent carrying empty packing crates followed her somberly into the living quarters.

    Master Chief Tark had been serving in Starfleet for thirty-six years, and ranked among some of the most senior non-commissioned officers in the Fleet. As such, he had collected an impressive number of awards, citations, and a host of various kitsch and baubles that served as souvenirs from the literally hundreds of worlds he had visited during his time in uniform.

    Taiee and the others began to silently log, wrap, and store the contents of the cabin. More than once, some item or other caused one of them to pause and reflect on its meaning as they remembered the pugnacious, irascible curmudgeon. True, he had been prickly and often difficult to please, but Tark was a disciplined professional who brought out that same trait in those that served alongside him. He had been fiercely loyal to his crew, and had never hesitated to go head-to-head with Lt. Lar’ragos, the XO, or even the captain when it came to the welfare of those people under his supervision.

    It had been rumored that Tark had earned the wrath of a Starfleet admiral while serving out his remaining years on the starbase orbiting Tellar. As a result he had been banished to the Gibraltar, a woefully insignificant assignment for a man of the master chief’s reputation and accomplishments.

    Even if the rumor were true, no one had ever heard him complain about the posting. Tark had done his duty, no matter how he might have personally felt about his long and storied career winding down aboard an obsolete escort ship, banished to the far provinces of the Federation’s territory.

    Taiee smiled faintly as she picked up a photograph of the ship’s senior staff gathered at a Christmas party held only a few months before. Tark stood alongside the commissioned officers, in a place of prominence next to Commander Ramirez and the captain.

    How quickly everything changes, she thought wistfully. Who truly knows how much time any of us have?

    ****

    USS Intrepid
    Main briefing room
    Deck one


    Captain Sandhurst looked down at Aubrey from one of the large wall screens. He was still in engineering, lending his own elbow grease and knowledge to the task of reinitializing Intrepid’s warp core. With Cal Benjamin and three quarters of the engineering staff critically wounded, his expertise and additional personnel were essential. It was a happy coincidence that Sandhurst’s own ship had commonalities with Intrepid. Both were older vessels that had been resurrected with new technology. This had made for a shorter acclimation period with the hybrid systems.

    Aubrey had just finished summarizing the need for quarantine, when the access doors to his ready room sighed open to reveal Lar’ragos and Shantok.

    Shantok appeared dispassionate and controlled. There was a thin sheen of perspiration on Lar’ragos’ face, but otherwise he looked as he did before.

    “Success?” Intrepid’s captain asked.

    Lar’ragos turned his head to Shantok, who seemed to answer on cue. “As much as could be expected. Thanks to the lieutenant’s assistance, I have been able to shield myself from extraneous thoughts and emotional impressions.” She took note of Sandhurst on the viewer and dipped her chin respectfully. “Captain.”

    He nodded in greeting.

    Aubrey knew she only looked well on the outside. Shantok could now project an air of Vulcan restraint and objectivity. Inside, she was still picking up the pieces. He was glad that she had at least been able to reclaim her dignity.

    “We were just discussing our changeling situation,” Aubrey said to the pair.

    Lar’ragos and Shantok exchanged uncomfortable looks.

    Sandhurst caught the warning sign immediately. “Why do I get the feeling there’s a new problem?”

    “Indeed there is sir,” Shantok answered. “I established mental contact with Carris. He’s been compromised with changeling DNA-----“

    “We know,” Aubrey interrupted. “He’s in detention right now, after attacking the counselor.”

    The look of concern on her face remained. “While in my former condition, I picked up telepathic information from the changeling via Carris. At first the information was jumbled and indistinct. With the lieutenant’s help I was able to constitute the data into a comprehensible form.” She raised an eyebrow. “The changeling has triggered what might be referred to as a ‘dead man’s switch’-----an event that is set into motion upon the subject’s death or immobilization.”

    It looked as though Sandhurst wanted to lean through the viewer. He was trying not to imagine the horrors that could be inflicted on his crew, in as much as it was Sandhurst’s people that had the shape-shifter imprisoned. “Commander, what exactly did this ‘dead man’s switch’ activate?”

    The Vulcan shifted her eyes sideways to Lar’ragos, who smoothly continued the explanation. “A while ago, Carris accessed the subspace transmitter on Intrepid and sent two signals out. One was an order to rescue him from the Gibraltar.

    “And the Jem’Hadar betrayed him, by trying to destroy Gibraltar instead.” Aubrey added. A part of him noticed how synchronized Lar’ragos and Shantok were. Not an hour ago they had been strangers, now they spoke as if extensions of the same mind.

    Lar’ragos continued his somber oratory. “Yes, sir. The other transmission was a series of launch codes.”

    Both Starfleet captains scowled.

    Shantok picked up the briefing. “The launch codes were sent to over two dozen cloaked missiles which were launched from the surface of this system’s outer-most planet and are now on a trajectory to their target.”

    Sandhurst rubbed his neck tiredly, appearing to have aged ten years. “How long before they get here?”

    “They are not aimed at us,” Shantok focused her consideration completely on Aubrey. “They’re headed towards the Gambis home world.”

    Sandhurst was incredulous. “The Gambis? What the hell does he have against them? They’re the ones that nursed him back to health, by his own admission.”

    “Revenge,” Lar’ragos said simply. “In the process of curing the changeling from his disease, the Gambis altered his genetic structure. According to his twisted reasoning, they perpetrated a crime against him. No matter that they saved his life.”

    Aubrey clenched his jaw muscles. “We’ll have to shoot down the missiles. How long before they hit?”

    The El Aurain security chief stepped forward, holding the focus of both captains. “It’s too late to intercept the missiles, sir. They’ve been in flight for some time now. They’re going to hit the Gambis home world in less than two hours.” He lowered his head slightly as if feeling the burden of his own words. “The warheads are trilithium-laced protomatter explosives, similar to the Federation‘s old Genesis device. What used to be referred to in old Earth vernacular as ‘planet busters’.”

    The mention of Genesis technology triggered some recent and very unpleasant memories for Intrepid’s CO. Recollections of the Kokala nebula and his ordeal with the Inth came back without warning. He swept the distraction away quickly.

    Shantok took her turn. “As you know, such weapons will immediately eat away the planet’s crust. As all core material is expelled to the surface, a planet-wide cataclysm will occur. The Gambis will be annihilated despite living deep underground.”

    “Then we have to warn them.” Sandhurst said at once. He looked through the view screen at Aubrey. “Captain, I understand you established diplomatic ties with that species. Do they have the technology to intercept the missiles if we get word to them in time?”

    The other captain didn’t meet his eyes. “Let’s just say it’s imperative that we make the attempt.”

    Sandhurst frowned at the evasive answer.

    “I’m afraid there’s another problem.” Lar’ragos said.

    Aubrey folded his arms. “Oh good.” He intoned sarcastically. “For a moment there, I was afraid we might have run out of problems.”

    “There’s too much theta radiation from the Bog to send a transmission from this location.”

    Shantok nodded in agreement. “To say nothing of the residual noise left behind by the subspace weapon. The only hope would be to travel out of the Velkamis system far enough to broadcast. I estimate that if a vessel left within the next thirty minutes at warp eight, there would be sufficient time to send the warning.”

    Aubrey leaned against the conference table. “That’s problematic. The space between is filled with warring Velk factions-----and good portions of them are convinced that the Federation has taken sides in their civil war.” He avoided looking at Sandhurst as he said this, but the disapproval in his voice was apparent. “A shuttle or runabout would become a prime target.”

    Aubrey’s insinuation wasn’t lost on his colleague. Sandhurst’s timbre became a shade darker. “In light of Intrepid’s engine damage, I’d suggest having Gibraltar run the gauntlet to get a warning out.” He appraised Aubrey with studious eyes. “It’s not the first time we’ve had to navigate treacherous waters.”

    Lar’ragos didn’t need his talents to see trouble might soon be brewing on the home front. “Sirs, with respect, there’s no need to send Gibraltar. We could launch a COMM buoy at warp speed with a recorded message.”

    Aubrey sounded almost apologetic. “No good. The Gambis government is a complex family hierarchy that’s based more on emotion rather than logic or written laws. A message of this importance would need to be delivered by me. I’m the one they trust the most right now. They’d be suspicious of a recording. By the time they debated a course of action, it would be too late.”

    “Then you should beam over and take command of Gibraltar, Captain” Sandhurst offered without hesitation. “Normally, I’d insist on commanding the ship, but sending both captains under the circumstances might be too risky. If you’re worried about your ship, I could stay behind and continue to oversee repairs to Intrepid until you return.” Though it went unsaid, Aubrey picked up on the undercurrent to the message -- Sandhurst was worried about leaving Shantok in charge in her current condition.

    It was in that moment that Aubrey realized he had reached a turning point. The momentum of events was forcing a decision upon him; follow orders and stay quiet, or divulge the truth about the Velk diplomatic effort and his recent mission to the Gambis home world-----secrets even his crew didn’t know.

    It was hardly a contest.

    He could no longer keep Sandhurst in the dark, classified information be damned. The man was about to expose his crew to overwhelming danger, and Aubrey couldn’t let him walk into that danger blindfolded-----even if it meant throwing away his Starfleet career in the process.

    He turned to Shantok and Lar’ragos. “If you’ll both excuse us, I’m going to need ten minutes of Captain Sandhurst’s time.”

    Shantok was visibly restraining the urge to object. She very much wanted to point out that the clock was ticking and every minute was precious. But of course, both captains already knew this. In the end, some echo of her former control allowed her to show restraint. She nodded stiffly, and then left. Lar’ragos followed her. If he shared her compulsion, he hid it well.

    As they exited, Aubrey pondered the absurdity of worrying about careers and protocol.

    After all, it was very likely that in the next few hours all of them would be dead-----because Intrepid and Gibraltar would soon be wiped out of existence.

    Along with the twelve billion inhabitants of the Velkamis system.
     
  17. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Re: Treacherous Waters - Chapter 26 cont'd

    A powerful chapter. Two worlds standing on the brink of annihilation as Shantok begins to put back together the pieces of her mind. A very nicely done and bittersweet scene with Taiee retrieving Tark's belongings as well. Sandy, Aubrey, and the crews of their ships will be a long time recovering from this.
     
  18. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Treacherous waters, indeed. Just when I thought things might be winding down a bit, the tension suddenly leaps forward at warp 9!

    Even those matters that were "resolved" leave questions unanswered. How much better off is Shantok following her mind-meld with Lar'ragos. And what did the meld cost Pava? What of Carris? Is he still controlled by the Changeling or has the Changeling moved on somehow.

    Now with stealth missiles heading toward the Gambis home world, a new set of dangers arise for the weary crews of the Gibraltar and Intrepid.

    Great writing!
     
  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I'm very glad to see a new installment of this story! :)

    Very creepy to see the reconstruction process, at least to me--Shantok's already unstable enough...adding pieces of a mind that has been as ruthless and conniving as Gul Dukat into the mix could have very dangerous results, at least in my opinion. Even if Lar'ragos has changed over the centuries (which I consider arguable), it would be very easy for the really bad parts to migrate their way over to Shantok without those changes.

    BTW, I think I'm now spotting a pun--I'd wondered at the similarity before, but now when you describe the "family" nature of the Gambis...I can't help but think Gambinos! :p
     
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    To paraphrase Aubrey: Good, for a moment there I was afraid we are running out of story. (without the sarcasm).

    In fact there is no winding down in sight right now. Instead things look like they might heat up again. And fast. I'm looking forward to Sandhurst and Aubrey doing a switcheroo. It worked out over on the Sutherland, let's see how these crews work under new leadership.

    Oh and a death match between kids was just disturbing. Kudos for that.

    Just excellent stuff all around.