UT: Darker Territory: Hearts of Glass

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Jul 27, 2018.

  1. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    …. “I always wondered who was the best,” this Glover said as he looked around the bridge. Terrence was heartened that this Glover wore the duty uniform that looked the most like his own, except it was lacking medals and the combadge was a delta atop four golden bars.

    Terrence seized on the Cardassian at the helm. What was a spoonhead doing on a Starfleet bridge and not in chains?

    He felt the trembling before his feet. “I guess we’re about to find out,” the young Andorian woman sitting beside Glover said, through clenched teeth. Terrence imagined that she served as his counterpart’s first officer.

    On the view screen was a large, though compact silver-white starship, as advanced as about anything in the Terran Starfleet, save for the Enterprise-D. The attacking vessel unloaded on them as if flew past, scoring several hits.

    Terrence didn’t need to be actually on the bridge to imagine the acrid smell of smoke, or the heat of burning terminals. The other Glover gripped his armrests as he barked orders. The klaxons ceased, the flickering lighting abated.

    “Shields down 70 percent,” a dark-furred lupanoid was at the operations station, across from the Cardassian helmsman. Just how many aliens were on board this vessel, Terrence wondered, and in important positions at that. It upset his stomach. Even more than the wrecked condition of the bridge. Glover’s ship and his opponent had been in a slugfest, that much Terrence was certain.

    Sutherland is coming about,” the weapons officer, a tall, athletic dark-skinned woman was standing at a console behind him.

    “More power to forward shielding,” Glover ordered.

    Sutherland is…hailing us,” the talking werewolf said, its snout twitching.

    “Put her on screen,” Glover said.

    Terrence wasn’t surprised to see Shelby. The woman, her curly hair down, white-blonde bangs almost hiding her eyes, looked haggard, but as determined as ever.

    Her uniform was of the older style, with the division color on the tunic instead of on the shoulders. Her combadge was also slightly different, a delta lacking the four bars beneath. Yet, both this Glover and Shelby were in command chairs. They’re equals in this universe, Terrence surmised. “Terrence,” Shelby said. So, they know each other in this reality as well, but Terrence could tell they had never shared what he had with his Elizabeth. “You know how this goes. If you surrender now, and pledge your loyalty and that of your crew to the Federation, you get to live. If not…”

    “Elizabeth, you know I would never surrender Cuffe to you,” He declared.

    “You’re barely holding on,” Shelby replied. “You took out the Liger and Yosemite, and for that, I should atomize you. Those were good people you killed.”

    “To quote my Klingon friends, ‘Today is a good day to die, and the day is not yet over,’” Glover smirked.

    Shelby frowned. “The Klingons are our allies this go-round Terrence. They understand the threat posed by the Dominion, just like Leyton.”

    “Don’t you mean Caesar?” Glover rejoined.

    Shelby sighed. Terrence could tell these two had had the same argument before. “Leyton did what was necessary to prevent the Dominion from taking over the Alpha Quadrant.”

    “That’s what he claims,” Glover was scornful. “It doesn’t matter if he lets the Klingons run roughshod over the Cardassian Union or across the Beta Quadrant in their paranoia, because it reflects his own.”

    “Admiral Leyton just wants what’s best for the Alpha Quadrant, for the Federation,” Shelby replied, growing animated as the old arguments took hold.

    “At what cost though? What price won’t he pay, or you, in his quest?” Glover charged. “None of this will bring back Erika.”

    Shelby sat back, as if the man had struck her. “Nor will it bring back Sisko or your father!”

    Glover’s expression grew closed. His eyes smoldered. “Leyton is a traitor to everything we pledged our lives to defend. Ben knew that, so did my father, but you, Benteen, Owens, so many others, you gave in to the fear.”

    “You weren’t at Wolf 359,” Shelby replied. “I wasn’t either, but I saw the aftermath. Even more important, I was inside that Borg cube that slaughtered so many of our brethren. I was up close to an extinction level event in ways you can’t imagine, and the Dominion is just as bad.”

    “I’m not making light of the Dominion, but we have to ask ourselves just what are we truly fighting for if we sacrifice those principles at the outset?” This Glover was insistent, passionate, and idealistic in a way that felt as alien to Terrence as some of the crew on the bridge.

    “Survival,” Shelby said coldly. “For now, that’s enough.”

    “Not for me,” Glover shook his head. “Or you,” Glover said, his tone and expression mournful. “Nyota, on my mark…fire.” ….


    …. It’s another Glover, and yet another Shelby. Their embrace was strong, though brief. This time the uniforms they wore were more austere, with grayish-blue shoulders, black tunic and pants.

    As Shelby pulled away from this Glover, Terrence saw that the woman’s face was red and puffy. She had been crying. Terrence noticed that she was holding a glass sculpture that looked arachnid. They were alone this time, in a small, neatly furnished room that reminded him of a captain’s ready room aboard an Imperial vessel, and not just any Terran ship, but one of the more prestigious conquest vessels. The two stood in front of a large desk. Only two glasses of dark blue liquid and a wine bottle shared the desk with a desktop computer. Behind them was a port window that showed stars streaking by.

    “It’s over, it’s finally over,” Shelby sighed, holding the sculpture aloft. The light danced off it. The combadges they both wore resembled the previous reality Terrence had witnessed more than Imperial insignia.

    Glover nodded his head. “Yes,” he said, his words hollow, his expression even more so. This Glover was older, with more age lines on his face, dark spots under his eyes. There were also healing cuts and paling bruises across his face. This was a haunted, but even more distressing, this was an empty man. What could have drained the vitality from him, Terrence wondered. Ever perceptive, Shelby sensed the man’s mood.

    “We won Terrence,” she said. “I thought you would at least be relieved about that.”

    “I lost my ship,” Glover groused. “I lost good people over Cardassia Prime.” Terrence’s ears perked up at the mention of his hated enemy. So, there had been another war in this reality, but this time, the Terrans had won. The previous reality, Starfleet was losing to the Klingons; this one, they defeated the Cardassians. Did the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance only exist in Terrence’s reality?

    “We all did in this war,” Shelby said, her smile fading. She carefully placed the glass spider back on the desk. She picked up both glasses filled with a dark blue liquid there. She handed one to Glover.

    “Nyota.” Shelby raised her glass. Nyota? Lady Uhura? Terrence shuddered at the name, even though there was no way the dreaded woman could reach him now, or so he wished to believe.

    “Ben,” Glover added. “Pedro.” Surely this Glover couldn’t mean Pedro Rojas. Terrence hated the glad-handing, backstabbing man. How could any Glover, no matter the reality, mourn Rojas’s passing?

    “And to so, so many others,” Shelby replied before she downed the drink in one gulp. She was still wincing when Glover did the same. He slammed the glass down so hard on the desk it trembled. Terrence would’ve been more impressed if the glass had shattered.

    “Are you sure you’re going to be alright?” Shelby inquired, reaching out to him. Glover avoided her touch. Shelby looked concerned. She put her empty glass beside Glover’s.

    “You don’t have to do this, you know?” She offered.

    Glover shook his head. “I got out of that biobed to be here,” he declared. “No way I’m missing a memorial to our fallen.”

    “People…would understand,” Shelby replied.

    I wouldn’t,” Glover rejoined. “I’m grateful I was able to catch a ride with you on the way to Rashanar.” Terrence scratched his chin. He had never heard of a Rashanar. He didn’t know if it was a planet, system, or some other cosmic phenomena.

    “It’s the least I could do,” Shelby smiled. “I know you had to be going stir crazy in the Starbase 375 infirmary.”

    “You know, it felt obscene to be taking a bed when there were still so many wounded, many with injuries far greater than mine,” Glover said, looking down at the empty glass as if he sought escape there. “But Admiral Salk insisted,” the other him shook his head.

    Shelby raised both eyebrows. “I know that didn’t go over well with you.”

    Glover finally grinned. “Of course, it didn’t.”

    “I’m surprised you’re still a captain,” she matched his smile. Terrence did a double take. Did she say captain?! Captain?! I’m-no he-no we-are captain in this universe! Terrence pumped his fist.

    “Even Salk didn’t want to can a war hero,” Glover’s smile was mirthless.

    “Don’t be that way,” Shelby shook her head. “You earned that medal, and every honor.”

    “For burning an entire planet?” Glover retorted. This Glover was quite surprising, Terrence nodded with growing appreciation. But also confounding. Why was the man regretful about wielding such power? This was standard Imperial procedure; Terran General Order Four. Terrence longed for the day when he could give such an order. Perhaps this other Glover was disappointed because he didn’t immolate all of his enemies?

    “You saved a lot of lives,” Shelby was firm. “You helped save the Federation.” There was that term again, Terrence thought. Federation? That must be the name of the Terran Empire across multiple realities? But why hadn’t more replicated or emulated his civilization?

    “Yeah, that’s what they say,” Glover looked back at the glass, as if it was calling him. “But all I can think about-all I can imagine-is how many lives were taken when I razed Loval.”

    “How many lives did the Dominion take?” Shelby rejoined. “Did they care?”

    Glover just shook his head. “They didn’t, but I wonder, I fear, if we do either.” The other Shelby had been stunned into speechlessness. Terrence chuckled. He had never been able to do that with his Elizabeth.

    Shelby looked away and then at the desk. “Care for another glass of port?”

    Glover considered her offer, before shaking his head, “No,” he finally said. “If I take another drink, I might not stop.” He worked up a smile that didn’t touch his eyes. “Besides, I’ve got a stack of crew personnel reports to go through.”

    “Oh,” Shelby said. “Still reassigning your crew to new postings?”

    Glover smirked at her. “Did that last week. What did you think I did when I was on bed rest?”

    “Of course,” Shelby rolled her eyes. “Can’t just, I don’t know, relax?”

    “I’ll sleep when I’m…” Glover didn’t finish whatever he was going to say. The light went out of his eyes. Shelby’s expression was drawn. The other man sighed, “Well, I guess now, is as good a time to tell you as any. After the memorial at Rashanar, I’m taking a shuttle to the Beta Antares Shipyards to pick up my new ride: the Aegis.”

    Shelby’s eyes widened, “A Prometheus-class?”

    Glover nodded. Shelby whistled. Terrence scratched his chin. There was no Imperial line of vessels of that name. From Shelby’s reaction, the posting was prestigious, a plum assignment. Terrence felt another twinge of shame that other versions of himself, were more accomplished than he was.

    “This is great news,” Shelby said.

    “Yeah,” Glover replied, as glum as Terrence was starting to feel. Shelby playfully punched the man’s bicep.

    “You’ve worked so hard to get here, this is one rung closer to an admirals’ bars,” Shelby said. “And you deserve it.”

    “I know,” Glover said. He shook his head. “I should be ecstatic, and around others, I do my best to be, sometimes I even convince myself, but the war…it just changed my perspective, and I-I just need to not be…Terrence Glover around someone, at least once, and,” His smile was sad, but genuine, “You got the fortunate misfortune of being the friend who picked me up from Starbase 375.”

    Shelby lowered her own shields. Her shoulders slumped. “I’m so glad you said that,” she replied. “I’ve needed the same thing.”

    They embraced again, this time longer. They still held each other as reality warped again around Terrence….

    *********************************************************************
     
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  2. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***************************************************************************************

    Terrence awoke with a start. He jumped up, into strong hands that forced him back down. Terrence began to struggle, half-blind, half-crazed, until a familiar voice reached him. “Terrence, Terrence, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s Elizabeth, and I’m here.” Soft hands grasped his wrists. The touch was familiar, soothing.

    Glover focused on the pale hands and then at the smiling face attached to them. His eyes shifted to the dimming hourglass on the table behind Shelby. A grim Vulcan closed the hourglass within a boxlike ark. Terrence glared at the green-blood, and then he looked wildly around the room. He knew the corpulent Gorik and his lackey Zim very well. Terrence had marked the Zaldan for death and intended to make good on his promise.

    Many of the other faces he didn’t recognize. There was a lean, seething swarthy, stubbled man beside an inquisitive looking, attractive Trill, another attractive woman, with an olive complexion and very dark eyes, and then a puckish younger man.

    And then, things got confusing, as realities merged. There was the dark-haired man with the facial tattoo he had seen in his vision, and the lithe blonde woman. In another reality, they had fought at his side…

    “Terrence,” Shelby’s voice was gentle, but insistent. He smiled at that. “What did you see?”

    Glover shook his head and looked back at the now closed ark. “Just what the hell is that thing? Some kind of thought maker?”

    “In a way, I suppose it is,” the Vulcan replied. Glover frowned.

    “I didn’t ask you, Vulcan,” he snarled.

    “His name is Solok,” Shelby interjected, “And he’s our friend.”

    “He’s no friend of mine,” Terrence said.

    “You didn’t see what I saw,” Shelby said, her voice fringed with sadness. “We fought beside Chakotay,” the tattooed man nodded, “Justine,” the blonde did likewise, “And Solok.” The Vulcan dipped his head. “You even beat him in kal-toh.”

    “A feat nearly impossible for a Terran to accomplish,” the Vulcan added. “Your mind is quite keen…for a human.”

    Terrence shook his head, “I don’t know what you’re talking about…but, I do, I did, see the Terrans. We were together…and you,” he looked hard at Shelby, “You, you were…dead.”

    “I know,” Elizabeth said somberly, “But before that, we were…together again. There was love there, not calculation, not like the Empire. I saw so much of my time here, with the resistance, fighting to free our fellow Terrans. This side of the galaxy, Terrans have learned, or been forced to work, fight, and love each other unlike how we live in the Empire. Imperial Terrans have lost the very humanity that we exalt, whereas our brothers and sisters’ humanity is crushed underfoot by the Alliance. We need each other. That’s why I’m here. That’s why the orb sent me here.”

    “I don’t understand,” Glover shook his head.

    “Did you see other realities?” Shelby pressed. “Did you see the Federation?”

    “That name,” Glover nodded, “Yes. What is it?”

    “An alliance where humans live in harmony with other alien beings, and was still as powerful, even more so than the Empire,” Elizabeth replied. “Even the Klingons are our allies.”

    “Impossible,” Glover shook his head, wishing he could dispel all the strange new memories now swirling around inside his noggin. “A fever dream, nothing more.”

    “Not so Commander Glover,” Solok said. “Our rebellion was sparked after two visitors from the Federation were stranded in our universe.”

    “This is madness,” Terrence was disbelieving.

    “You saw there were multiple realities,” Elizabeth replied.

    “Liz, you can’t be serious about this,” Terrence looked squarely at the woman. “As far as we know that ‘Bajoran’ orb is some kind of green-blood mind weapon. This ‘Solok’ could be playing us both. How can you be sure this man is even Vulcan? He could be a Romulan agent!”

    Shelby frowned, “I know, and you know as well.”

    “Dr. Julian Bashir and Major Kira Nerys,” Solok said. “Both from another reality, an alternate universe.”

    “Kira?” Glover looked at Shelby. “As in Intendent Kira Nerys?”

    “Yes, her doppelganger,” Elizabeth nodded. “From what Solok and others have told me, the other Kira and her comrade Bashir helped ignite a revolt on Terok Nor before returning to their own reality. It wasn’t the first visit from that universe.”

    “I know about Kirk,” Glover cut in.

    Shelby smirked, “But did you know about Picard?”

    ************************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Conference Room


    “Preposterous,” Terrence couldn’t believe it. “I-I would’ve heard about it.”

    “Perhaps your parents aren’t as powerful as they, or you think,” Shelby smirked. Glover glowered at that.

    “No, it’s just likely yours knew better which palms to grease this one instance,” he retorted. “But the idea that Picard found a way to invade this Federation universe, and somehow hoarded that revelation for so long, is mind boggling.”

    “I’ll give the old pirate his due,” Shelby nodded. “He came close to stealing one of their Galaxy-class starships even.”

    “Amazing,” Terrence gasped. Picard’s Enterprise-D was a Galaxy-X, the most powerful ship in the Imperial Starfleet and the whole of the Alpha Quadrant. The Enterprise-D was supposed to turn the tide of the war, was supposed to be the first of many in a new, stronger Terran armada, until the ship vanished, becoming the first and only of its breed.

    The idea that there was a reality where other Galaxy-class conquest vessels existed, and from Shelby’s lips, multitudes, and just there for the plucking, was mouth-watering to Glover.

    “How did Picard fail?”

    “I wasn’t privy to all of that information,” Shelby admitted. “The snippets I got from Varley’s files revealed that the Enterprise’s chief engineer La Forge had developed a method for multidimensional travel that he had shared with his father, the captain of the Juno. No doubt the engineer was hoping his family could reap the benefits of his discovery beyond whatever bounty the Enterprise obtained.

    Fatefully, La Forge had disappeared, along with the Enterprise, before he completed his work. The project was taken over by Special Affairs and Investigations, to the obvious consternation of Captain La Forge.”

    “Wait? Wasn’t the Juno lost as well, a year ago, in the Marijne system?” Glover recalled.

    “Now, you know why,” Elizabeth said darkly.

    “What does any of this have to do with that thing,” Terrence pointed at the ark, “Or why you betrayed your oath?”
    “I didn’t betray anything,” Shelby was adamant. “I’m trying to save humanity.”

    “By consorting with aliens,” Glover sniffed.

    “Even our empire once treated our subject races better, and there was a time when those subjects willingly and lovingly gave their lives for the empire,” Shelby replied.

    “And you see how that ultimately turned out, with all their treachery, so spare me the history lesson,” Terrence shook his head. “If only Emperor Alexander had been successful in wiping them all out!”

    The humans, including even Shelby, gasped at that. Solok remained stone-faced. Glover widened his eyes in surprise. “Elizabeth, what’s happened to you?”

    “I’m more troubled, by what didn’t happen to you,” she replied.

    “I don’t follow,” Glover admitted.

    “The experience with the orb…it…changed me, like…it opened up my mind…my, heart,” Shelby spoke haltingly. “I saw what we could be, but I also saw what we are. We can be better. The rebellion here, a multifaceted effort, is what can be our future.”

    “Why would we want that?” Glover was disgusted by the notion.

    “It’s the only chance we have to beat the Alliance for starters,” Shelby said, “All of us, pulling together.”

    “If these aliens had submitted to our authority, if they hadn’t rebelled against us in the first place, none of us would be at the mercy of these Alliance barbarians,” Terrence countered. “The Empire would still rule supreme.”

    “Perhaps he needs another douse of that orb,” the lithe blonde suggested. Glover glowered at her.

    “I don’t get it,” Elizabeth admitted, “I was certain the experience was a vision of our shared future, where we would be together.”

    Terrence squinted, as he pulled the memory from his stream of consciousness. “Yes, there was such a future, but you…you were dead, in my arms.”

    “Yes, as you said, as I also…experienced,” Shelby wasn’t daunted by that revelation. “But before that my…death, we were in love, unlike anything we’ve shared before. I-I even carried our child.”

    “This is nonsense,” Glover shook his head. He was done wasting time. “Since we were all ‘comrades’ in some other life, I’m giving the green-blood and human rabble aboard this vessel five minutes to leave, and then we are heading back to Imperial space, where you will hand over the Bajoran orb and be taken into custody. I will testify on your behalf, no matter what my parents say,” he declared. “I will do all I can to make sure you avoid execution, though I can’t save you from imprisonment.”

    “I’m not going anywhere Terrence,” Shelby stated.

    “Do you really want me to take this ship?” Glover challenged.

    “You can try,” Elizabeth’s countenance was an edifice of determination.

    “Don’t make me do this Liz,” Glover said, adding, “Please.”

    “Don’t make me toss you in the brig with your friends Terrence,” Shelby riposted.

    “They are not my friends!” Glover riposted. “If anything, I’m trying to keep them from taking the orb back over your dead body.” Wisely Elizabeth had placed Bano and Thomsen in the ship’s detention center, wary to even confine them to quarters aboard the vessel. Terrence hadn’t protested the move. They were no friends of his, and if he had been in Shelby’s place he would’ve done the same thing, or worse.

    Shelby shook her head at that. “You have no clue what any of this is really about do you?”

    “What the hell does that mean?!” Terrence retorted.

    “I think a calming of tensions would be prudent,” Solok began.

    “Silence Vulcan!” Glover bellowed. He jumped out of his chair. Tattooed man and the blonde did likewise. Solok remained impassive while Shelby continued sitting.

    “Sit down Terrence,” Elizabeth’s voice was calm, but steely.

    “No,” Glover’s blood was up, and he was spoiling for a fight.

    “I’m pregnant,” the woman replied. The fight went out of Glover.

    ********************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Conference Room


    Terrence was still processing what Elizabeth had dropped on him, with all the realities swirling in his head, merging, rearranging, becoming something new.

    Pregnant? Glover shook his head. With my child? He couldn’t believe it. But they had only just been together again, once, well, more than once, in their time together, but it seemed impossible that impregnation could have happened so soon. The truth of it was hard to accept, and that it would be Elizabeth who carried his child. Even his parents couldn’t reject her now, not as long as she carried their future.

    Octavia could not conceive, her one blemish in their parents’ eyes, and Septimius was still sowing his oats. If Terrence could produce a dynastic heir before either of his siblings it would raise his station in the family. Terrence had uncovered that his older sister was experimenting with risky Adigeon genetic resequencing schemes to bear the future of the Glover line, but with no success thus far.

    Terrence finally had a chance to trump his sister and Shelby had given to him. He was still lost in thought when Elizabeth placed a burnished cylinder in front of him. It took Glover a few moments to register it.

    “What’s that?” He asked, annoyed that the woman had intruded upon his dreaming and scheming.

    “This is why I’m really here, and why they sent you after me,” Elizabeth said.

    “What?” Glover didn’t hide his scorn. “It’s too late to play these games Liz. The orb is coming with me.”

    “I’m sure Special Affairs wants the orb back as well,” Shelby nodded, “Though it has been of little use to Command, with it’s revelation to me the first time any of them became active while in Imperial possession. No, this is what the game is truly about.”

    Glover looked at the cylinder. “And just what is that?”

    “This is what La Forge had been working on,” Elizabeth explained, “Special Affairs built this prototype from the schematics they pilfered from the Juno.”

    “What are you talking about?” Terrence was losing what little patience he possessed.

    “This is a multidimensional transporter,” the woman sighed with frustration. It was Glover’s second gut punch of the day.

    ********************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Detention Center


    Terrence waved the cylindrical device in front of Bano. The half-Bolian’s eyes widened briefly in shock, telling Glover all he needed to know. “You weren’t going to tell me about this,” he said. It wasn’t a question.

    Thomsen looked as lost as usual, while Bano gave Terrence, Shelby, and the others his ex-wife had assembled in the detention center, cutting glances. “You’re going to answer all of my questions!” Glover was so beside himself with anger he almost bumped against the invisible force field separating him from Bano and Thomsen.

    Bano ignored him. She turned to Shelby. “I’m giving you one chance to comply, otherwise I will evoke my authority to commandeer this vessel.”

    Shelby chuckled. “Good luck with that.”

    The Bolian narrowed her eyes. She kept them locked on Shelby, but said, “Commander Braener.”

    Glover’s stomach roiled as he heard the quick, efficient brandishing of firearms. The ship’s executive officer cleared his throat loudly, before intoning, “Under Starfleet Regulation 619, I am relieving Captain Shelby of command.”

    “Don’t do this,” Elizabeth confronted the man.

    “An emotionally compromised officer is not fit to serve as captain,” Braener replied. “Ever since your experience, with that alien artifact you, and several officers aboard, have been acting strangely and you’ve personally, needlessly endangered this ship and its crew. I can no longer abide your irrational decisions.”

    Shelby’s security chief, a man named Terry, made a good show of it, but Braener gutted him with obvious pleasure.

    Terry died at the mutinous first officer’s boots. He kicked him before ordering the force field be lowered.

    Bano casually stepped over the threshold. Thomsen, looking unsure, did so a few seconds later. The Bolian approached Glover. She held out her hand and waggled her fingers.

    Glover clutched the prototype tighter. Bano pouted, “Don’t be that way Terrence.”

    “My parents will make you pay for this,” he promised.

    “Your parents are loyal to the Empire,” the Bolian said, “Unless you wish to share something otherwise.” She wiggled her fingers again. “Now, hand over the transporter.”

    Shelby placed a hand on his shoulder. She squeezed it gently. “Do it Terrence.”

    The man glanced at Elizabeth, shifted his shoulders as tension began to knot them, and then dropped the device into the woman’s waiting hand. She smiled.

    “I knew you would see reason,” Bano replied.

    “Guards,” Braener said with gusto, “Prepare to execute the traitors on my mark.” Glover looked back at Shelby.

    “Didn’t see this in that future of yours I bet?” He quipped. Shelby couldn’t help but smirk.

    “Belay that order,” the Bolian said. Braener glared at the woman.

    “What?!” The man replied. Like most Imperial officers, he was a Terran unused to hearing anything but obsequious deference from nonhumans.

    “You heard me Commander,” Bano said. “Command will decide their fates,” she looked at Shelby and then Terrence. She smiled, “Or their families might pay a fortune for their safe return and a scrubbing of this unfortunate incident.”

    It took a moment for the idea to worm its way through Braener’s mind. A demented lightbulb went off behind his eyes. “Of course.” He pressed the phaser hard into Shelby’s side. “Get in the cell, sir.” When Glover stepped to him, he pointed the weapon inches from Glover’s nose. “You have a problem Lieutenant Commander?”

    Shelby placed a hand on Glover’s arm. “Now’s not the time Terrence.”

    What the woman said was true, but Glover didn’t want to listen. He glared at the smug Braener, glaring right into the dark, forever slit of the phaser. “Don’t press your luck,” Braener warned. He turned to the half-Bolian. “Well, of our Terran and alien ‘guests’ still onboard, I will excise them with extreme prejudice.” The man was not making a request.

    “You’ll do no such thing,” Bano was not intimidated by Braener’s flexing. “Until they are thoroughly interrogated. I will leave the means for such interrogation up to you.”

    Braener nodded, warming to the prospect. “I can work with that.”

    “No,” Shelby declared. “You can’t!”

    Braener smirked. “I can do whatever I want.” He got in Shelby’s face and looked down at the woman, really down on her. “I’m the captain now!”

    *******************************************************************
     
  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Author's Notes:

    For the alternate reality scenes, one was inspired an alternate reality Terrence was shown in my story "Conspirata", which at the time was a nod to another DT story, "The Crucible". "Hearts of Glass" also follows the events that happened in "The Crucible" but as of yet is not a sequel to that story.

    The Glover as a Klingon warrior scene was inspired by the IDW comic arc "IDIC" which had Kelvin timeline Kirk in a similar alternate life. Also by the Memory Beta description of the comic "The Lost Generation" where Earth had been conquered by the Klingon Empire. The lunch with Glover, Jasmine, Shelby, and Erika takes place in the reality depicted in "Yesterday's Enterprise".

    DF's comments got me thinking about adding some conflict between Shelby and Glover so I decided to have them on opposite sides of the war with the Klingons. And I decided to go with Glover as siding with the Klingons because I had long established in previous stories that he reveres Klingon history and culture, so it felt like a natural fit for me. Plus, I wanted to show Mirror Terrence that there were some universes where he was in league with the Klingons.

    The Federation Civil War scenario was one where I could show Mirror Glover that he could also be on good terms with at least one Cardassian. And I thought it would be neat just to tease a Sutherland vs. Cuffe death match. For some strange reason, I really liked describing the alternate combadge for some reason.

    The final alternate reality scene takes place in the Prime Universe and I thought it would be nice to explore where Shelby and Glover are at the end of the Dominion War and to show how much different Glover is after the war. In subsequent postwar stories I do show him grappling with guilt, sadness, and regret, so I wanted to give a hint of that here and how Shelby, who knew him before all that, could see how he had changed. In this scene Rashanar is a reference to the postwar TNG "A Time To..." novel miniseries.
     
  4. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    You did an excellent job in showing us all the different shades and changes in the relationship between Terrence and Liz--and yes, both were very much affected by their experiences in the War as were those people who served with them. I'm thinking about writing a brief post-"Blood Cries" vignette with Terrence and Liz where I'd like to explore his reactions to both the physical and inner changes Liz has gone through as a result of coming out of that crucible. (Yes, she's still the same fun loving sexually adventurous minx we've all gotten to know, but the events of "Blood Cries" did change her in quiet ways in that she's got a piece of Aliz in her now, and again, there are the physical changes in that she does appear about ten years younger now.

    It seems that Liz and Terrence are in a bit of a spot, but I've got a feeling they're going to be able to put aside their differences--at least temporarily--to find a way out of it. Also, that trans-dimensional transporter is a very dangerous thing and what Hobson is most afraid of--it's looking like the Iceman's fears of an interuniversal war might be justified.
     
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks so much. I'm glad this fits with your characterization of Shelby. Though there aren't a lot of UT stories pairing Prime Shelby and Prime Glover I do enjoy the electricity between those characters (similarly with Amaya Donners from CeJay's series). I say go for it when writing a post-Dominion War story with Terrence and Shelby. If you do go that route we can look at the timeline for 2376 to see where is best to fit that story, or we can talk more about the post-2376 years because that's less certain for me about where I want Glover's journey to go. I think the Iceman's fears might be justified. The interuniversal war angle might align with some ideas I'm mulling. Perhaps we can discuss that further in the private forums or over at the UT forum.

    Regarding the multidimensional transporter, when I looked at the DS9 Mirror episodes recently it really stuck out to me and not in a good way that Mirror O'Brien or the Terran rebels would be able to create such a powerful piece of technology (not to mention how easily and quickly they built a Defiant-class warship, but that's another complaint for another day). So with the transporter, I thought it would be neat to have it come from the Terran Empire instead, and the "Through the Mirror" comic planted some seeds for me to go that route.
     
  6. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    I'll PM you on the UT forum later and we can discuss it. I'm thinking late 2376 or early 2377 pre-Mutatis Mutandis might be the best time to set the vignette.
     
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  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    That's definitely a hell of a lot of Glover's in that last chapter, somewhat reminiscent of the excellent Conspirata which I highly recommend. As you know, I am working on my own alternate universe story which is laid out over three novels, and even there I don't think I have that many crossovers taking place.

    The scenes also showcase what a jackass the Mirror-Terrence is. Of course, he's just a product of his environment but clearly whatever Shelby had hoped the Orb would do for him, and did for her, didn't materialize. I do hope she has a Plan B. Not just for Glover, but also to reclaim her command and prevent the slimy Braener to take over.
     
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  8. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks for reading, commenting, and recommending "Conspirata". Though I enjoyed writing that story more than this one, I am enjoying this story quite a bit. It's evolved into something larger than I intended. I do enjoy giving little snippets. I've recently regretted not adding another alternate timeline in the mix. Who knows what I threads I could pull from these scenes to expand on, like I did for the Shelby-Glover scene in "Conspirata" which blossomed into this story.

    I disagree with your description of Mirror Glover. Look at it from his perspective. Why would he trust a Bajoran orb experience? Especially being a product of a xenophobic society. Not to mention, the Bajorans are part of the Alliance, so they are sworn enemies. And he's had some experience with Ferengi thought makers so he knows there are alien devices that can warp your mind. If anything, he would be very suspect about Shelby's mental soundness for her to be affected by the orb.

    Speaking of orbs, I would be remiss to not mention that the Orb of Transcendence was created by fellow UT writer Gibraltar for his offshoot Bajorans, the Bajora Tava. I had considered just making up a new orb, but thought why not keep it in the UT family? I did like paralleling how in the Mirror Universe it was the Terrans instead of the Cardassians that stole the Bajoran orbs and in this Mirror Universe they've stamped out a lot of knowledge about the orbs. I did that to try to reconcile it with the DS9 episode with Mirror Bareil because it seemed, to me, that the Mirror Bajorans (Bareil at least, maybe Kira) weren't familiar with the orbs. I can't imagine that if the Mirror Bajorans possessed their own orbs that Intendant Kira wouldn't be able to use them.

    I forgot to mention that the counselor (Inquisitor-a term from the IDW TNG Mirror comics) Bennington Biraka is from the game Star Trek: Borg. He's the counselor aboard the USS Righteous.

    The shuttle Delahaye, which I used earlier, the name came from Jacquotte Delahaye, who might have been a real-life Haitian female pirate in the 17th century. For the Mirror universe I thought the name apropos.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
  9. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *******************************************************************

    Sector 04-70


    “I hate it when you’re right,” Lian’ne spoke to the man on the other side of the viewer. The Kelpien leaned forward. She could just make out the whitish tips of the threat ganglia that ringed Brone’s head, just below his ears.

    “I do as well Lian’ne,” the man said tightly.

    “See you on the other side friend,” the Xyrillian offered. There was a time that she never would’ve believed she would call Brone a friend, and even much less that she would mean it. They had been rivals, sometimes bloody competitors.

    Lian’ne had been a liege to Legate Kell while Brone had been in the thrall of Intendant Tandro and the two feuding fiefdoms had set their marauders against each other.

    They had both taken lives while in the employ of those monsters but had somehow been able to set that dark history behind them once Sisko’s defiant actions on Terok Nor spread like fire across the Alliance.

    Now Lian’ne and Brone often fought together against the Alliance they had once served. And once more, perhaps for the final time, they would fight side-by-side.

    The Galor-class battlecruiser sliced through space. Lian’ne ordered her ships to spread out. The Xyrillian knew that Brone was doing likewise. It would make them less vulnerable to the oncoming battlecruiser’s deadly weapons, and allow them to encircle the ship, and hopefully take it out before its compatriots arrived. Rarely did the Cardassians travel alone, they moved like packs of fire wolves.

    Lian’ne only hoped that the other rebel leaders were able to evacuate Solok’s base before the full might of the Alliance came down on them all. “Galor-class vessel is powering all eight spiral-wave disruptors and its heavy disruptor cannon,” Tavares said from the weapons console.

    “Captain I think the best thing to do is get out of here and not tangle with these spoonheads,” her unwanted guest spouted.

    “No one asked you Paris,” Lian’ne said.

    “This is one battle we can avoid,” The man shrugged, “But be that as it may, if you’re going to engage that Alliance warship you need me behind the yoke.”

    Sh’Lannonshin, at the pilot’s station, glanced with open disdain at the smug Terran. “Larissa is more than capable, and I trust her.”

    “Hey, don’t be that way,” Paris threw up his hands. “I’m trying to help build bridges between the Empire and the rebellion.”

    Lian’ne huffed. She didn’t have time to deal with the insolent Terran. Solok had insisted, against Paris’s objections, to leave with the other escaping rebel leaders, after Boone’s treachery had been exposed.

    While Lian’ne imagined that keeping Paris alive could benefit the rebellion in the short term, she wasn’t sure stronger ties between the Terran Empire, which appeared unreconstructed, and their growing revolt was the best thing. She didn’t trust Imperial Terrans and was concerned their insidious influence might affect the humans who had born the lash of the Alliance.

    “Cardassian ship is firing,” Tavares announced.

    “Oh boy,” Paris muttered.

    “Evasive maneuvers Larissa,” Lian’ne told the Andorian, ignoring Paris. At the moment she had a bigger pest to deal with.

    ****************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Detention Center



    “Julian’s been gone a long time,” the Trill opined, biting her lip, the only sign of anxiousness the composed woman exposed.

    “Stadi as well,” Solok added, a hint of moroseness in his voice. The damnable computer had emotions after all, Terrence surmised.

    “If they had skewered them like they did Gorik and the others, even those Bajoran prisoners, Braener or one of his goons would’ve come in to brag about it now,” Chakotay groused. The man’s face was a patchwork of bruises. He had been the most recipient of the tender mercies of the agony booth. Haas, similarly battered, placed a hand on the man’s shoulder. Chakotay winced at the touch and the blonde apologized.

    “They’ll pay for what they did to Gorik and Daneeka,” Zim declared. Terrence thought to himself, that the insolent Zaldan should be more worried about Glover. He still intended to pay the mountainous alien back in kind for his disrespect.

    “I’m concerned about Biraka and Pollard,” Shelby confessed. Terrence had no clue who the woman was prattling about. “They disciplined Braener earlier at my behest and I know Kendrew has a long memory.” The woman shuddered. Braener had already brayed about vaporizing Craig, one of the Shelby loyalists. That news had struck a blow to his ex-wife.

    “Something tells me you didn’t see this is in your crystal ball,” Terrence quipped.

    Elizabeth looked troubled, with deep furrows in her brow. “I saw…many things, lived them all, but no…not this. I just don’t understand.”

    “An orb experience…is not easy to interpret,” Solok said, his sagacity infuriating. Glover preferred aliens who were obsequious.

    “And just how would you know that?” Glover charged.

    “Perhaps a more pertinent question is why did Captain Shelby’s orb experience lead her to Solok in the first place?” Haas offered. Terrence was surprised the woman had a thought-much less an interesting one-in her head.

    He stanched his pique about the green-blood not immediately answering his question. Instead, Terrence joined in with the blonde rebel. “She’s got a point.”

    “Glover’s right,” Dax interrupted. “If O’Brien is the one who you need to make this multidimensional transporter work, then why Solok?”

    Glover huffed and crossed his arms. He turned to Shelby, “What have you got to say about this Liz?”


    Shelby struggled for an answer, looking troubled all the while. The holding cell grew quiet, heavy with expectation, which added to the claustrophobic atmosphere.

    The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps surmising the orb made a logical decision to select me, a trusted rebel leader who could gain the trust of Sisko and his men, where you could not. I was an intermediary that could lead you to O’Brien.”

    Shelby nodded, considering his words. “That doesn’t seem so logical to me. Why not just go straight to the source?”

    “You’ve met Bashir,” Solok offered. He nodded in Dax’s directions. “My apologies.”

    Dax smirked. “No, you’re absolutely right. Bashir is quite distrusting and paranoid, with good reason,” the Trill added. “Especially after Ben….” Her expression closed, and the rest of the sentence died on her lips.

    “After Ben, what?” Glover asked. “Who’s Ben?”

    “Benjamin Sisko was the spark that set off this latest rebellion against the Alliance,” Solok explained. “There were rumors that Sisko had died during a mission to infiltrate the Alliance stronghold Terok Nor.”

    “Is that why’s he not here?” Chakotay asked. He turned to Dax. “Why you and Mr. Sunshine are in his stead?”

    “Ben is fine,” the woman said coolly-too coolly for Glover to believe her. “He’s just…preoccupied.”

    “Uh huh,” Glover crossed his arms. “Right.” Dax glared at him. He met her glare.

    “We have bigger concerns at the moment,” Chakotay tried to bring things back to reality.

    Haas nodded, “Chakotay is right,” she said, though Terrence suspected the woman often backed the tattooed man up.

    “We need to get out of here,” Zim stated the obvious.

    “Don’t worry about that,” Shelby said.

    “It’s covered,” Solok said, almost at the same time. They both paused and then looked at each other. Shelby’s raised eyebrow mirroring the green-blood’s.

    “Just what the hell is going on here?” Terrence demanded.

    ************************************************************************
     
  10. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Ah yes, so there is a Plan B. I'm with semi-evil Terrence. Someone let me in on the plan, please.
     
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  11. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ************************************************************************


    Alliance Battlecruiser Falkein



    The rebel ships were weaving like gnats, their blows stinging. Each shudder made Gul Corvinas angrier. It was a personal affront. The lead ships were a decrepit Klaestron warship and an even older Nausicaan raider. Four smaller Bajoran raiders were with them.

    And all were gunning for Falkein. And Corvinas wouldn’t have it any other way. She barked orders rapid fire, the deck plates beneath her trembling as Donat unleashed the full might of the Galor-class battlecruiser.

    Corvinas wanted to cut through these irritants to get to the rebel base. They were all fleeing so Orta’s agent must have been exposed. If she could get to the base Corvinas could hopefully capture some rebels and take possession of whatever information they had on other insurrectionists. She had already decided the impediments in her way.

    Each second these insects held them back, was less time for Corvinas to really land a blow against the rebellion.

    “These are much better to shoot at than holographic ships,” Dal Pellet crowed as a Bajoran raider went up in flames. That prompted the survivors to renew their assault against Falkein.

    The ship struggled to defend itself, much less mete out retaliation. “What’s going on?” Corvinas lacerated her crew as the sluggish ship was too slow to avoid another fusillade.

    “Something, something isn’t right,” Pellet said quickly, his face wreathed with concern.

    “Find out what’s happening, now!” Corvinas hissed. The ship shuddered, as if it were a living thing writhing in pain.

    Perhaps sensing weakness, the rebels pounced, with a relentless, sustained assault that began scoring real dividends.

    The last blow made the lights flicker, alarms blare, and several consoles lit up. Corvinas bit down on her fear. “Status report,” she demanded.

    The news was grim. The ship shuddered again, and she felt parts of giving way. Donat’s voice was clotted with concern, “Shields…just…collapsed.”

    “How is that possible?” Corvinas was beside herself. “There’s no way those voles can inflict this much damage against a Galor-class battlecruiser!”

    “They have help,” Pellet said darkly, looking up from his console. “Someone has triggered a subroutine planted deep within our computer core. It’s been silently wreaking havoc on all of our systems. Soon, propulsion and weapons will be offline like our shielding.”

    “Who?!” Corvinas was on her feet. She looked wildly around the bridge. Most studiously avoided her gaze. “Who?” She demanded.

    “Does it matter Gul?” Pellet replied. Both knew the ultimate answer: Garak. Typically, he wanted all the glory for himself.

    “No!” Corvinas roared. Somehow that weaselly Gree worm had implanted a deadly computer virus aboard their ship. She wished there was time to unmask his confederate onboard.

    “It’s been an honor,” Pellet saluted her.

    “No,” Corvinas said, shaking her head. “Not like this. Not dying at the hands of-of…slaves.”

    No one responded. To their credit, they went about their duties, dedicated to the end. And Corvinas took some solace in that. She sat back in her chair and sought to follow her crew’s example. “Before the light goes out on us, we’ll take as many of them out with us as we can,” she promised.

    *********************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Inquisitor’s Office



    Inquisitor Bennington Biraka took a sip from his tea cup and smiled. “This is a pleasant surprise,” the bearish man said. The smile was knowing, and likely intended to be calming, but it wasn’t. In fact, the gesture rattled her further. “You’re not scheduled for another session for six months. And if memory serves, you found our last one quite…distressing.”

    Ensign Pollard shifted uneasily on her feet. The man made her skin crawl. She remembered her last loyalty examination, how Biraka had manipulated her with dulcet words to ascertain if she remained loyal to the Empire. Her session with him had been nerve wracking, but thankfully short. For others, she had heard stories about how Biraka would use other methods to get at the information he sought, to ensure that the loyalty of the ship’s crew was unassailable. The science officer studiously avoided looking at the room’s interrogation chamber, with its biobed with manacles hanging from it and a tray of gleaming instruments beside it. There was also a metal chair with straps as well in the chamber. Thankfully neither was occupied at the moment.

    “You know that two guards of have been posted outside your door?” Pollard asked.

    Biraka sipped and then nodded. “Care for a spot of tea? This mint tea blend is quite enthralling.”

    “With all due respect sir,” Pollard began slowly, gathering her courage, “Aren’t you afraid?”

    Biraka chuckled. “No child,” he said. “If Braener hasn’t struck at me, or you yet, there’s a decreasing chance he will take our lives in revenge, though we might be tortured.” He put the cup down and stroked his salt-and-pepper beard. “A relatively minor inconvenience.”

    The science officer shuddered at the thought. She had heard stories of Braener’s punishments and seen some of the sad and tragic results, some crewmen broken beyond repair, and she was certain each of them had been tougher than she.

    Pollard sighed, trying her best to expel her growing fears. “We’ve got to help Captain Shelby sir.”

    Biraka’s smile dropped. His expression grew hooded. “Why would suggest such a thing?”

    “She’s the captain,” Pollard said.

    “That’s past tense,” the inquisitor replied. “Changes in command happen all the time aboard Imperial vessels, especially more prized commands such as this one. And if Braener doesn’t bring glory or profit to the empire, he will be replaced, simple as that,” the man shrugged. “And he might have even less time than a normal usurper, since he’s now drawn the wrath of the Shelby clan upon him.” The wise smile returned. “He’s probably more afraid than you are child, though he’s experienced enough not to show it.”

    “Be that as it may sir, Captain Shelby would be most grateful if we helped her regain control,” Pollard pressed.

    “I’m sure she would,” the inquisitor nodded. “Just how do you propose we do such a thing?”

    “Well,” Pollard began to sweat. “I-I have some, uh, ideas, but I was hoping for your insight.”

    “You want me to stick my neck further out for a plan you haven’t even conceived, much less finalized?” Biraka was rightfully incredulous. Pollard shrank back.

    “I-I, uh, just thought, well, sir,” her throat grew dry. “That you were…well, experienced in this sort of thing.”

    Biraka picked up his cup, took a sip, and pinned her with a hard gaze. His eyes cut through her and even though she was in a full sleeved uniform with breeches, Pollard felt naked.

    The inquisitor finished his tea. “All right,” he finally said. He paused then, gauging her again, while letting the woman twist in the wind for a bit. In that moment, Pollard hated the man and thought of vaporizing him before he exposed her treachery to Braener.

    Biraka chuckled, as if he could read her murderous thoughts. Pollard began perspiring heavily. Her heart thudded. She expected the man to call in his guards any second. She reached for her sidearm, but the inquisitor was faster.

    Pollard stopped moving as she saw the man brandish his phaser. He aimed it squarely at the woman’s chest. The ensign didn’t know how to prepare herself for what was to come next.

    Biraka shook his head, “You really should drink more tea,” he offered, “Chamomile calms the nerves.” He chuckled, “Rest easy Ensign, I’m in.”

    *****************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Captain’s Ready Room


    Captain Braener held the darkened orb in the palm of his hand. He glared at it, angered that it would not reveal itself to him. “To think, I owe this bauble, and whatever hold it has on Shelby, my captaincy. Shelby murdered Captain Varley because this thing infected her mind, and she weakened her standing in the Admiralty and her families’ in the Imperial Court. I should kill her now, and perhaps her family might thank me for it.”

    “If you truly believed that, you would have done it already,” the dissenter was standing behind him. Braener turned from the long viewport to glare at her. Though the woman had no discernable scent, his nostrils twitched nonetheless at her presence.

    Braener glanced at Shoreham, the loyal young guard posted at the entrance to his room. There was no way he would turn his back on many of his own crew at this point, much less an alien, even if she was from Starfleet Security.

    “I would advise you to not kill Shelby, or Glover,” the Bolian offered. “You could secure a nice ransom for each, as well as that Bajoran orb.”

    “You’re not taking this back with you?” Braener asked, “Along with the transporter prototype?”

    “No,” the Bolian replied. “Command only wanted the prototype back. Consider the hostages and the orb a reward, for your steadfast loyalty to the empire.
    Braener’s nostrils flared at that. As if a nonhuman could question his commitment to the empire. It was galling.

    “And what of that rebel scum?” Braener spat. He didn’t want to not murder anyone. The crew needed to see how he responded to insurrection, plus Braener’s bloodlust needing sating, after all.

    “I’ll take the Vulcan, Solok,” the Bolian answered. “His knowledge of the incipient rebellion should prove most valuable.” The woman paused, “And also, the Betazoid, Stadi, there’s something…peculiar about that one.”

    “Ah, you’ve witnessed some of her sessions in the booth,” Braener said. He used a remote control to activate a wall monitor. The Betazoid was once again in the booth. Mikkel Thomsen, whom Braener had temporarily made his security chief, was overseeing the current round of questioning.

    The olive-skinned woman was on her knees, her hands plastered against the booth’s once translucent glass. It had long since been speckled with the woman’s blood and that of others. Thomsen had recommended not cleaning it, assured that the sight of the blood would terrorize whoever was going in the booth next. Braener recognized the man’s sagacity on that point.

    The woman’s dark hair was wild and cloaked her face. Her shrieks were like music to Braener’s ears.

    “Make certain that Mr. Thomsen does not get too carried away,” the Bolian exhorted. Braener hated taking orders, especially from an alien.

    “This is my ship,” he reminded the woman.

    “And I am Starfleet Security,” the Bolian quickly riposted. “One word from me and this can become my ship at any time.”
    “Is that so?” He moved quickly around the desk to stand in front of the woman. Braener wasn’t going to allow the nonhuman to challenge his authority, especially in front of a witness. He didn’t hide his disgust at her ungainly alien visage. The woman looked up at him, a smug gleam in her eyes. She was finding this amusing, him amusing.

    “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop talking right now,” the Bolian said, hissing seconds moments later. Her breath was hot against Braener’s face, her blood even hotter. He dragged his dagger across her midsection before ripping it from her with a wet suctioning sound.

    The shock on the woman’s face was as delicious as the pain that overtook it. The Bolian clutched her ripped open stomach.

    Shoreham was smart enough not to intervene. Braener watched the writhing woman die. “That’ll teach you,” he muttered, his adrenaline already receding. The captain looked to Shoreham. The woman was stone-faced. “Take care of that.” He thought to add, "And be discreet."

    “Aye, aye sir,” the dark-haired woman sprang into action. She ordered a beam out for her and the body. Once the last sparks from the transporter beam had dissipated, Braener looked back at the darkened orb. It was like a blind eye, mocking him. “Just what the hell did I just do?” He asked it. The artifact did not respond.

    ******************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Sector 04-70


    Lian’ne couldn’t believe it. The Galor-class ship just…crumbled, as if it had been crushed within some gigantic cosmic hand. Her Nausicaan deathtrap had just come about, far enough away from the resultant explosion to escape being consumed by it. Unfortunately, the two remaining Bajoran raiders were caught in the immolation of the battlecruiser.

    Kelpia is hailing us,” Balk, at the operations console, informed her.

    “Put Brone through,” Lian’ne ordered the svelte Tellarite. The cracked view screen filled with static before Brone’s gaunt visage filled it.

    “Glad to see you’re in one piece,” the Kelpien said, even managing a smile. Lian’ne matched it and replied.

    “I never thought I would say the same thing, and actually mean it,” the Xyrillian added. Both shared a laugh, along with their respective bridges. Even Paris became less obnoxious.

    “That Terran Empire starship was on the other side of the asteroid,” Brone said. “I’m going to see if they are still there.”

    “If they were, they would’ve assisted us,” Lian’ne countered.

    “Not if they encountered more trouble,” the Kelpien replied, his expression darkening.

    “If they haven’t dispatched of them already, then there’s no need for us to also throw away our lives,” Lian’ne said.

    “Solok could need us,” Brone pointed out.

    “Solok is very resourceful,” Lian’ne rejoined. “If he has run into Alliance ships, he’ll have a better chance aboard that starship anyway. There’s not much more we can bring to a fight at this point besides being cannon fodder.”

    Brone scowled. His eyes flickered and Lian’ne steeled herself for the man to blow off her suggestion and pursue the imperial ship.

    After a moment, the man shrugged his bony shoulders. “You’re right,” he nodded, though Lian’ne wasn’t sure the gesture wasn’t a sign that he was attempting to convince himself of that.

    “I never thought I would hear you say that either,” she quipped, drawing more laughter from the man. “Besides, Shelby seems trustworthy enough,” she paused and pointedly glanced at Paris. The man sensed her attention. He winked at her. Lian’ne rolled her eyes. “For a Terran,” she added. Paris merely smirked. Turning back to look at her new-old friend. “I’m confident Solok is in good hands.”

    **************************************************************
     
  13. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Tension's building nicely here. Crosses...double crosses...triple crosses....just another day in the mirror universe.
     
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  14. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    No! You killed off my favorite character in this story, once again proving the DT mantra. No one is safe.
     
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  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thank you guys for reading and commenting. DF, I don't see the rebels' actions here as a double cross. As far as Lian'ne and Brone know, Solok and the other rebels are in good hands, with Shelby, who they think is on the level, and who they would assume is still in command. CeJay, sorry you were disappointed to see Mirror Bano go, though I am glad she grew on you. And I can say, Mirror Bano won't be the only one not to make it out of this story.
    ***************************************************************************************
    ISS Travis Mayweather



    Ensign Pollard entered the shuttle bay slowly, fearing that someone was waiting just beyond the door to lunge at her. Noelle chided herself for being so jumpy, but she couldn’t help it. So far Captain Braener had given her free reign across the ship, and she had even served on the bridge while he sat in the center chair. She had done her best to avoid the man and had been thankful that he had seemed to be distracted by something else.

    However, the science officer had learned long ago that appearances were deceiving. Either the man didn’t consider her a threat-which was mildly insulting-or he was just displaying his power, that he could reach down from on high and pluck her whenever he wanted, like he was a great horned owl from Old Earth and she was a hapless rodent.

    The inquisitor hadn’t been as put off by Braener’s behavior. Instead, Biraka felt they should use it to their advantage. And that’s why Noelle was stuffed into a slinky dress, the heels she wore so high and uncomfortable she thought her next step, any next step, would break her ankles.

    Noelle preferred coveralls or sweats when she wasn’t on duty. She avoided and tried to ignore most of the bacchanal happenings aboard the Mayweather, but she hadn’t been oblivious to the eyes she would draw, including the attention from the new chief engineer Singh.

    The man had been promoted by Braener after he had dispatched Chief Craig. Singh was in the shuttle bay, inspecting the Klingon ship Glover had been piloting. The rebels had who had captured him had taken for themselves, with their porcine leader declaring it his new flagship.

    Singh had been going over the ship, one of the rare chances to explore Klingon technology, when Braener had taken over. The man had continued his work, despite his promotion to the ship’s chief engineer. Singh could be singularly minded like that, which was good, and for those in his sights, extremely bad.

    Noelle did her best to stride up the gangway and ignore the security guards at the doors. She held her head high and put on her best haughty expression. The lower ranked men saluted her, which she barely acknowledged. She didn’t want to tarry too long out of fear she might balk at the job Biraka had given her. Pollard also didn’t want to meet as few gazes as possible to avoid giving away her true intent, as if it was scrawled on her face.

    The woman’s instincts took over as soon as she stepped into the darkened, dank shuttle. Something flew by her head, missing it by inches. It smashed into a wall before clattering to the deck. Noelle took note it was a banged-up spanner. She sighed with relief at the small scratch it made in the bulkhead instead of the larger dent it would’ve made into her skull.

    “You told me you all would have the diagnostics of this vessel’s weapons and propulsions systems completed by now!” Singh raged at the cowed junior officers. Most were looking anywhere but at their fuming superior. “If you don’t provide results in the next ten minutes I will personally escort you in masse to the Agony Booth!” That sparked the frightened officers into digging into the work with renewed zeal. The skittered over the Klingon vessel like the insects Singh thought they were. The chief engineer’s back was to her, his focus on his team.

    Pollard let the storm pass for a moment. She coughed. He whipped around. “Damnit McClure!” He walled off his anger immediately when he saw it was Pollard seeking his attention.

    The man instead put on an unctuous smile, though it didn’t touch his hard eyes. Those black orbs roved over her. Noelle felt dirtier than anything aboard the Klingon vessel. “How might I help you…Ensign?” The man asked.

    Pollard forced herself not to shudder. “If Captain Braener is requesting how our diagnostic is going…” the man filled the silence.

    “No,” she said, “The captain didn’t send me.”

    “Oh?” Singh raised an eyebrow. He gave her another once over. “So, you’ve reconsidered my offer?”

    “Well, yes,” Pollard was proud the lie hadn’t made her gag reflex kick in.

    “Great,” the man nodded, “I knew you would come around. That you’re not as frigid as some say,” he paused, and quickly added, “Not me of course.”

    “Of. Course,” she didn’t hide her disgust. She knew her anger would scare and excite him.

    “Unfortunately, I can’t…accommodate you right now,” Singh said, with a genuine frown. “I’m up to my neck in exploring every nook and cranny of this Klingon garbage scow.”

    “That’s why I’m here,” Pollard said.

    “Oh?”

    “Yes,” she put on a smile. “I thought what would be a better place to have a first date than here, watching you in action, seeing you doing something you love to do.”

    The man’s eyes narrowed, as he ran the lie over in his mind. Noelle waited with bated breath, hoping her smile didn’t seem as plastic as if felt. “That is…odd. I mean, I had a holo-program all set up for us. One of the bloodiest thralls’ matches on Triskelion. We could watch…or participate…” The man closed his eyes, no doubt savoring the imaginary bloodletting.

    “That sounds great,” Noelle was surprised and unsettled about how good at lying she was becoming, “But for a second date. Right now, I thought it would be more…intimate, to tour the Klingon ship with you.”

    “A second date,” Singh muttered, as if the thought hadn’t occurred to him. The man must not get past many first dates, she surmised. “Are you sure you want to dirty your dress, or scuff up your heels trawling around this heap?”

    “I think I’ll be safe…in your hands,” she said, forcing her lunch down.

    “Of course, of course,” Singh nodded excitedly. “Where would you like to begin?”

    “The weapons systems,” Pollard shrugged, as if the thought had just come to her. “Though I am a scientist…all that firepower…just moves me, you know?”

    “Indeed, I do,” Singh grinned, “Me too,” he added, as if confessing. “I maybe be an engineer, no chief engineer aboard this ship, but I could’ve been MACO,” the man declared, puffing out his chest.

    “I…can see that,” Pollard bit back laughter at that.

    Singh, completely oblivious, smiled with glee. Pollard had to be the first person who swallowed that line without laughing in the man’s face. He gestured grandly, “The weapons systems console is that way,” the engineer said. “After you.”

    Pollard continued smiling as she took off toward the console. She did her best to ignore the oiliness she felt imagining the man’s eyes on her back and elsewhere. She tried to detach her emotions, as she sometimes did when encountering a scientific mystery. If things went according to plan, Singh would be paying for his leering anyway. She just had to put up with the man for a few hours at best. Noelle just hoped she could hold out that long.

    *********************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Detention Center


    It had been hours, but Bashir was still groaning in his sleep. Dax was at the man’s side, pressing a compress against his sweat-drenched brow. The scraggly man had been dragged back to the jail cell and tossed in. Shelby had demanded that Dr. Quaice attend to the man’s injuries, and the guards had eventually relented.

    The old medic had come to see the writhing man. He had offered sedatives, but Bashir had refused them. He didn’t want any more Imperials touching him, and Shelby couldn’t blame him. Before Dalen left, he had sneaked her a hypospray and a scalpel from his bag. She had smiled at the old man, confident of his loyalty.

    Elizabeth didn’t know what she would do with the hypospray. Against her better judgment, she had handed the scalpel to Terrence. She had to trust the man, there was still something of the Terrence she fell in love with inside him, there had to be. Though Shelby had a lot of doubts…about everything.

    Nothing was going according to her orb experience. She had Terrence had made love, but she didn’t feel the rekindling. When she saw her death, that Terrence was shattered by her loss, so much so that he sacrificed his life in vengeance, but also to save Chakotay, Haas, and the rebellion.

    The man sitting across from her, smug now that he had a weapon in his possession, his eyes alight with schemes on how he was going to use it, or who he was going to use it on first, was not someone who would truly stick his neck out, even for her.

    She chided herself for the thought. She was being overdramatic. Terrence didn’t have to be here, he had risked a lot to come here, to bring her back, and when they had been together…for a little while it had felt like old times…

    “I wish they hadn’t taken Zim,” Glover muttered, breaking the sweet memory.

    “Why?” Chakotay asked. “You’re eager for your turn?” Haas shuddered at that. Glover merely smiled at that. The others didn’t know about the hypo or the scalpel.

    “I’m more concerned about Stadi,” Solok intoned, fear infusing his normally impassive countenance. “She was taken before Bashir.”

    “You think she’s…dead?” Dax looked up from her ministrations to the ailing human.

    “No,” Solok said.

    “How can you be so sure?” Glover asked. “If Elizabeth’s torturers are worth their salt she should be a puddle of goo about this point.”

    Solok glared at him, real rage in his eyes. Shelby was surprised by his reaction. Glover, not sensing the seriousness of the change in the temperature between the men, pressed. “That got your sehlat didn’t it green-blood?”

    In a nanosecond Solok had leapt from the bench and had his hands around Terrence’s throat. Her ex-husband was punching at the man, but the Vulcan wouldn’t loosen his death grip. Glover pulled out the scalpel but dropped it as Solok lifted him higher.

    “Solok!” Shelby snarled, “Stop!” The medical implement fell to the ground. Chakotay rushed to it. He looked back at Shelby, a curious and accusatory look on his face. Elizabeth was more concerned about saving Terrence’s life at the moment. And of calming things down before it aroused the attention of the guard.

    “You have no idea human, not one scintilla of what you’ve taken from me,” Solok hissed, his knuckles turning greenish-white with increased pressure. Elizabeth was afraid she would hear the horrific crack of Terrence’s neck at any moment. The man had stopped flailing. She could see the whites of his eyes.

    “Damn you Solok,” she rushed the man, but with ease, he dropped Glover and batted her aside.

    “If this vrekasht hadn’t interfered, I would have the multidimensional transporter and we would be just that closer to removing the Alliance as an obstacle,” Solok raged. He glared at the woman, as if daring for her to stand up.

    “Obstacle?” Shelby asked carefully. “That doesn’t sound like something a rebel would say.”

    Solok’s lip curled slightly, a small gesture, but it spoke volumes. “That Bajoran orb was more prescient than you realized. It focused on me because we are the best chance to defeat the Alliance.”

    “We?” Shelby asked. “I don’t understand.” Behind the Vulcan, Terrence was beginning to stir.

    Solok shook his head. “I would suspect as much from an Imperial officer, even a bright tviokh like you.”

    “Solok, what are you talking about?!” Haas demanded.

    “Yeah,” Chakotay said. “What’s going on here?”

    Solok turned to his compatriots, distracted enough that Terrence made his move. “Terrence!” Elizabeth shouted. “Don’t!”

    Terrence drove his shoulder into the Vulcan’s knees, knocking him to the ground. Glover was on him quickly, roughly turning him over, so he could hammer the man’s face.

    “That’s enough!” Chakotay shouted. Shelby reached the tussling men just as the tattooed rebel drew the scalpel. He placed it against Terrence’s throat. The human paused long enough for Solok’s hand to snake out. Fingers grasped Terrence’s shoulder and neck and then the man slumped off the Vulcan.

    “What did you do?” Shelby demanded, now at Glover’s side. She checked the man’s vitals and was relieved he was still breathing.

    Solok sat up. The man’s face was bloody, with dark greenish bruises already forming. “Be thankful I used the nerve pinch and not the tal-shaya,” the man replied, his voice betraying not an ounce of pain.

    The force field that caged them crackled and the security guard, an intense man that Shelby recalled hailed from the Ibiza 7 Deep Space Colony. “What’s going on in here?!” The man demanded, sweeping his phaser over the prisoners. Chakotay wasn’t quick enough to hide the scalpel. “You there,” the guard barked. “Drop it!”

    Chakotay glared at the man. “No,” he said in open defiance.

    “I’ll vaporize you right now,” the guard threatened.

    “No, you won’t,” Shelby stood up slowly. The phaser swung in her direction. She looked evenly at the guard, and merely straightened her tunic. She plumbed her memory. “Oviedo, Perfecto” she said, using her best command voice. “Lower your weapon.”

    The man was incredulous. “You’re not the captain anymore,” he said. “I don’t have to take your orders.” An obscene smile spread over his face. “I could take your life right now, and Captain Braener would give me a medal.”

    “I wouldn’t bet on that,” Glover stood up, drawing Oviedo’s attention.

    “Don’t take another step,” Oviedo warned.

    “Or you’ll do what?” Haas said, coming around the man’s other side. Garson stepped back, smart enough to realize he was being encircled.

    “Don’t test me,” Oviedo said.

    “Or what?” Now Chakotay creeped forward. In only seconds, all that was left was a singed air where the rebel had once stood.

    “Chakotay!” Haas wailed. She charged Oviedo. Just before she reached him, he fired again, and the woman’s scream of grief merged with that of an agony Shelby never wanted to experience. The shriek would haunt Shelby’s dreams for the rest of her life, if she wasn’t next.

    Terrence jumped in front of her. The action was both endearing and infuriating. She could fight her own battles. And if she had to face death she wanted to look the bastard square in the eye. She tried to push away from her ex, but the man pushed back, keeping her behind him. It dawned on her that the man wasn’t defending her so much as protecting their child.

    “You need to stop right now,” Terrence ordered Oviedo.

    “He’s right,” Dax said. The woman still cradled Bashir’s head.

    “You don’t speak to me Trill, much less give me orders!” Oviedo snarled. He turned his phaser toward the woman.

    “Enough of this,” Solok said. A long, orange-brown tentacle wrapped around the startled Oviedo’s neck, snapping it quickly. The man dropped like a sack of potatoes. Shelby followed the retreating tendril as it glowed white and reformed into the shape of a humanoid arm, an arm attached to Solok.

    Terrence looked at Shelby. “Did you just see that?” She couldn’t speak at the moment. Everything had spiraled out of control. None of this was supposed to happen, it wasn’t in the vision the orb had given her. She was supposed to die, and then Terrence, not Chakotay and Haas.

    “What are you?” Dax asked, Bashir momentarily forgotten.

    Retaining a very Vulcan understatement, Solok replied, “I am… more than I appear to be.”

    ********************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
    CeJay likes this.
  16. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ********************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather




    Mikkel Thomsen folded his arms. He shook his head, and then ran a hand through his mohawk. “How the hell is she not dead yet?” The olive-hued Betazoid was somehow still on her feet, after hours inside the booth. Granted she was leaning against one blood spattered side of the translucent booth, but the fact that she could stand at all was beyond impressive.

    “I don’t know,” Dr. Quaice replied. The man looked to his assistant, the too serious Nurse Temple. The dark-haired woman held a PADD, from which she could change the pain levels of the booth while also monitoring the Betazoid locked within it. “What is the setting?”

    “Half duration,” the woman crisply replied.

    “Fascinating,” the white-haired medic muttered.

    “It’s more than that,” Thomsen said. Without asking, he snatched the PADD from Temple. He scoured it. “There haven’t been any more of those funny readings have there?”

    Temple glared at him, but Thomsen didn’t give a damn. “What was it you called those readings again Doctor?”

    “It was nothing,” the older man shrugged, “Probably just a glitch with this damned machine.” He pointed at the PADD.

    “That’s not what I asked you old man,” Thomsen replied.

    “Her blood showed traces had morphogenic enzymes during her last medical exam,” Temple said. She also shrugged, “Like Dr. Quaice said, a glitch.” The exams had been conducted on the spot to ensure that the prisoners did not expire. Once it was verified they were still breathing, Thomsen ordered the Betazoid back into the booth. The security chief hadn’t even allowed Temple to clean the woman’s injuries. He wanted the wounds to fester and the blood to cake on the woman’s body, to keep her filthy as a reminder of her true place beneath the heels of his boots.

    “I don’t trust ‘glitches’,” Thomsen glowered at them. “Could it be she came into contact with some kind of strange phenomena, or maybe she porked an allasomorph,” he laughed at his own joke. When the others didn’t join in, he glowered at them. “There is something peculiar about that one. I got a nose for these things.” He flared his nostrils to punctuate his declaration. The nurse grabbed the PADD back from him. He thought of backhanding the impetuous woman but grinned at her moxie instead.

    “Speaking of redoubtable constitutions,” Temple said, turning to one of the other occupied booths, “the Zaldan is withstanding his session admirably,” the woman said, licking her lips as the larger alien writhed. Thomsen noted that the nurse liked pain. He was certain he could give her all she could handle.

    “Increase power to the booth by five percent,” Quaice ordered.

    “Of course, Doctor,” Temple said eagerly.

    The Zaldan bellowed in pain. Temple closed her eyes, savoring the sound while Quaice nodded along, his eyes roving over the prisoner, studying every grimace and spasm.

    Thomsen quickly grew bored with torturing the Zaldan. He turned back to the Betazoid. He sauntered over to her booth. He tapped on it, several moments until she looked at him. Thomsen smirked. “Comfy in there?”

    The woman didn’t reply. “I asked you a question,” Thomsen snarled. “Are you refusing to comply?” He made a show of waggling his fingers over the booth’s manual control panel. The woman tensed, expecting a new round of pain.

    “I see you know what’s about to come,” Thomsen smirked. “Betazoid you have no idea.” He turned the power level to full duration. A scream that would shatter normal glass ripped from the woman.

    “What are you doing?!” Quaice hustled, as quickly as he could, over to the booth. Thomsen stiff-armed the man, knocking him to the deck.

    “How dare you!” Temple said as she knelt to help the medic back to his feet. “You bastard!”

    “Not. Listening.” Thomsen replied. “There’s something rotten with this one, and I’m going to find out.”

    “You’re going to kill her,” Quaice protested. The man’s voice was ragged, as if he had been jogging.

    “Sounding a little rough Doc,” Thomsen smirked. “Might want to go get that checked out.” Temple, an arm wrapped around the medic’s shoulder for support, cursed Thomsen.

    He chuckled, “You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

    “Screw you,” Temple shot back.

    “I will,” Thomsen promised. “After I get to the bottom of this.” The Betazoid was still wailing. “Bet you didn’t read my mind to see that was coming,” he crowed.

    The woman stopped screaming and looked at him, past him. The rictus of agony turned into a…smile?

    It threw Thomsen. What was the woman smiling about? He checked the booth’s setting. It was had been returned to its previous levels. He swiveled to see that Temple was using her PADD.

    “Give that to me,” he grabbed for it, but the woman sidestepped him. “Damn it woman, I’m your superior!”

    “Yeah, that’ll be the day,” she said before smashing the PADD against his head. Thomsen’s legs buckled. She hit him again. He felt something splintering and he wasn’t sure if it was the device or a piece of his skull. The deck came up fast and was unforgiving.

    Thomsen tried to shake off the dark waves rushing to claim him. From somewhere far above him, he made out Quaice’s voice. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

    “He gave me little choice sir,” Temple replied.

    “Captain Braener will not be pleased,” the doctor was wisely admonishing.

    “Screw him too…sir,” Temple added. The medic chuckled.

    Thomsen fought not to be pulled into the dark tide. He tried to sit up, but his head began spinning. He reached out, “Med-ic,” he croaked.

    “Is that asshead actually asking for medical help?” Temple was incredulous.

    “I have a duty, and so do you,” Quaice said. Thomsen heard heavy sighing and then a shadow fell across Thomsen’s face. “Rest easy Mr. Thomsen, I’ll patch you up.”

    He waited until the dinosaur was leaning over him before he mustered his strength. He pulled his knife from his belt and slammed it into the medic’s large, inviting gut. Spittle and specks of blood sprayed Thomsen’s face as Quaice’s loudly exhaled and dropped his medical kit. Thomsen dragged the dagger across the old man’s midsection, warm entrails splashing on to him.

    “Doctor!” Temple screamed. Thomsen used the woman’s shock and fear to juice him. He threw the dying man to the side, the man’s blood still wet and slick on Thomsen’s hands. He licked his knife hand. The woman backed away from him, her countenance brimming with terror.

    “Where do you think you’re going love?” Thomsen said, his words slurring. He struggled to his knees. “We-we are just getting started.”

    **************************************************************************
     
  17. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Didn't see this coming at all. Nice plot twist with Solok and Stadi. I have a feeling things are about to get very chaotic on the Mayweather.
     
    DarKush likes this.
  18. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    It's the quiet ones you gotta watch out for. Yeah, Solok caught me off-guard as well. Nice surprise reveal. The numbers of layers you keep peeling away in this story are really quite impressive. It's like an onion. Ya know, in a good way.
     
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    As always, thanks for reading and commenting guys. More surprises are to come.

    **************************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Detention Center



    “This was unexpected,” Inquisitor Biraka had a bemused expression on his face.

    “What are you so sanguine about?” Glover demanded. Shelby gently elbowed her ex-husband and smiled at the counselor.

    “I see understatement isn’t just a rhetorical trait of Solok,” the captain quipped.

    The burly inquisitor chuckled while the Vulcan frowned. “I take it, Solok, is more than he appears to be. Beyond just being great at impressions,” the man surmised. “I surely thought it was Braener calling me here.”

    “That would be correct,” Solok answered. He held up an arm. There was a soft white glow as the arm became an orange-red tentacle.

    Biraka stepped back, his cool façade evaporated. Shelby couldn’t help but chuckle. She had never seen the man surprised before. She didn’t think that was possible.

    “Who? What, are you?” The inquisitor inquired.

    “Finally, someone gets to the question I’ve been dying to ask,” Terrence threw up his hands.

    “I am not a member of the Vulcan species,” Solok revealed.

    “No, really?” Bashir, now awake, was as snide as ever. “Could’ve fooled me.” Thankfully Dax smacked the man against his head, silencing him.

    Solok was unfazed. “I am a Vendorian.”

    “Never heard of them,” Bashir said, risking another rapping from his comrade.

    “Ah,” Biraka said, as he stroked his beard. “I thought your kind were extinct.”

    “Who are the Vendorians?” Dax asked. Glover huffed that someone else beat him to the quick.

    “My world resides between the Terran Empire and the Romulan Star Republic. Centuries ago, both conspired to quarantine my kind, deeming our shape shifting abilities too dangerous. We, of course, did not respect their judgment.” He smirked, “And neither did they.” Solok looked at Terrence. “Both the Romulans and Terrans, including your father, Consul Glover, employ Vendorian operatives.”

    Glover stepped forward. Shelby quickly threw an arm to block the man. Terrence glared at her, but he didn’t knock her arm to the side. Instead he turned his ire back to the shapeshifter. “The empire, and my father, would never require alien help!”

    “I guess your father’s Vulcan aides no longer qualify as ‘alien’,” Solok smirked again. Glover growled low in his throat. Shelby pushed back on his chest to keep him from charging the Vendorian.

    “There’s a lot you don’t know Young Glover,” Solok surmised. “Much of Terran history, Imperial history for that matter has been altered to fit the prerogatives and whims of the reigning Emperor and Imperial Court.”

    “What are you getting at…Vulcan…. Vendorian?” Biraka asked.

    “After Emperor Spock’s fall, and the defeat of Starfleet by the Klingons and Cardassians, many Vulcans fled to Romulan space, to avoid both the wrath of the Terrans and the Alliance. The Republic, which had studiously wished to avoid entangling itself in conflicts with either galactic power, yet also bound by history to their Vulcan kin, allowed many Vulcans into their space, but kept them on the edges of the republic, in the Outmarches. My home, Vendor, was one of those worlds. My kind sought to ingratiate themselves to the Romulans by welcoming the influx of Vulcans, and in time we were considered less of a threat. As the Terran Empire sought to reassert itself and gain the Star Republic as an ally in its war against the Alliance, it also sought our friendship, and that of the Vulcans, many of whom had once been Imperial citizens, and a few who even retained their loyalty to the Terran Empire, in their quest. The Star Republic accepting Consul Glover after decades of self-imposed isolation was a major breakthrough.”

    “What does any of this have to do with you being here?” Bashir huffed. Dax beat Shelby in frowning the man into a skulking silence.

    “Of greater interest, is there a real Solok?” Biraka asked. The Vendorian raised an eyebrow at that. “Well?” Terrence dug in, folding his arms across his chest in a display of his determination.

    “Yes,” the Vendorian said. “I impersonated his form. Our cellular metamorphosis process is quite comprehensive, even down to the molecular level, and we can take on the memories and personality traits of those we touch. Despite the quarantine, there are factions among the Romulans and the Terrans that utilize my species unique skills. I was sent to infiltrate Alliance space, in the guise of an innocuous Vulcan.”

    “What about Stadi?” Shelby asked. “Is that her mission as well?”

    Solok pursed his lips. “Stadi…is…something else.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” Glover demanded.

    “Here, here,” Bashir added.

    “She’s like me,” Solok said slowly, considering his words, “But different.”

    “Explains why she sucked at reading minds and emotions,” Bashir opined. “She was never a Betazoid to begin with.”

    “But if she’s not a Betazoid, and you’re not a Vulcan,” Shelby said. “The mind-meld, how were you able to connect our minds?”

    “The metamorphosis process is quite thorough,” Solok answered, “Granting me some abilities natural to Vulcans.”

    “That’s amazing,” Dax said. “I wonder…” she trailed off, but Shelby noticed the woman touch her midsection.

    “Well, then, just what is this pretend Betazoid then?” Terrence demanded.

    “That is not for me to say,” Solok replied. “At least at this time.”

    “You will answer my question Vendorian,” Glover threatened. Solok merely smiled.

    “There’s no time for this,” Shelby said, stepping between the men. Her head was still reeling over Solok’s revelation. Just why did the Bajoran orb send her to him, of all people, and what truly did happen when her mind merged with an alien, more inhuman than even a Vulcan?

    “Captain Shelby is right,” Biraka said. “I’ve had Pollard, and some others, setting things up for you to escape, but it seems the time table has been upended. And you all need to go, now.”

    “Not without Stadi,” Solok said.

    “Or Zim,” Dax added. Glover grunted at that. The inquisitor scowled, but eventually dropped his broad shoulders.

    “I don’t know how I’m going to successfully get you to them at the Detention Center and then the Shuttle Bay,” Biraka said.

    “Leave that to me,” Solok said. The man stepped back. He crossed his arms and a soft, white glow suffused him. In seconds, Oviedo stood in his place, a perfect replica even down to the man's uniform. Shelby had to glance at the corpse in the holding cell to be certain that the man hadn’t somehow been resurrected.

    Biraka went over the weapon’s locker, opened it, and tossed a rifle to the fake Oviedo. Both Glover and Bashir held out their hands. Biraka stuffed a phaser into his belt while ignoring the other men.

    “What about our weapons?” Glover demanded.

    “Hey, what gives?” Bashir asked. “You can’t have us going out there weaponless.”

    “If you wish to survive the second we step outside this door, that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” the inquisitor replied. “We are going to take you down to the Detention Center, supposedly so you all can be questioned. With me leading the way and staring down any inquisitive guards, and ‘Oviedo’ behind our gaggle, with his rifle at the ready, I think the trick can pass muster.”

    “He’s right,” Shelby said. “Once there, we can get the rest of our people and beam over to the Shuttle Bay.”

    “Why can’t we just do that now, and get the hell off this pirate ship?” Bashir said.

    “It would draw too much attention, multiple beam outs from the brig,” Shelby shook her head.

    “She’s right about that,” Terrence said. “This is the best play we have right now.”

    Shelby smiled at him, pleased for his support. Solok checked the rifle and then held it up to his chest as if he had been soldiering all his life, however long that might be.

    Biraka looked over the group, frowned, but kept his disgruntlements to himself, and instead said, “Let’s go.”

    ***************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Captain’s Quarters



    Captain Braener laid back on the bed, lifting his head only to snatch a few grapes dangling above him. Lt. Furlong, the captain’s man, and one of the new perks Braener was entitled to, playfully kept the fruit away from him, forcing the captain to lift his head higher.

    Furlong chuckled at the other man’s effort. But was smart enough to know not to test Braener’s patience. He lowered the fruit and Braener bit into it heartily. He chewed slowly, savoring the sweetness.

    He grabbed Furlong by the head, rooting his fingers in the man’s thick, dark mane of hair and pulled him closer. Braener wasn’t sure what was truly sweeter, the other man’s lips or the juice from the grapes.

    He pulled the man’s head away from him, both gasping for air after the intense lip lock. Braener chuckled, allowing himself a moment to enjoy the spoils of his hard work.

    On schedule, the bridge informed him that the shuttles had embarked for the rebel base. Braener had decided to plunder the base before they returned to the empire. Whatever information they could bring back about the rebellion, or the Alliance, would be more boons and strengthen his position with Command if the Shelby clan sought revenge.

    After Braener had acknowledged the information imparted from the bridge, Furlong handed him a glass of wine. “Thank you Ralph,” Braener said as he sat up enough to drink the beverage. Furlong held his own glass. The man was looking more at Braener than imbibing. “Something wrong?” Braener asked, his suspicion rising. He wouldn’t be the first person to die at the hands of a courtesan.

    “No,” Furlong said, “It’s just…I never…well, I never realized how beautiful you were sir.”

    Braener frowned, “You’re in my bed, at my side now Furlong, no need to lay it on thick. And besides, what would your wife think, to hear you whispering sweet nothings to me?”

    Furlong grinned, “Perhaps, I can have her meet us when we reach the nearest Starfortress? That she could join in? It would not be the first time.”

    Braener’s expression tightened. “She’s not my taste,” he said. “You shouldn’t be either,” he said, though he stroked the man’s hair. “There are other suitors, but I’m a sucker for a good mane of hair I suppose.” He chuckled at that, and Furlong was savvy enough to know when to join in. “Perhaps once we return to Imperial space, I will introduce you to my friend Aldo. He would be quite open as it were to invite someone new into our bed.”

    “Of course,” Furlong nodded, smiling along. “Care for more wine?”

    “Yes,” Braener said, plucking the man’s full glass from his hands. He downed it.

    “Your thirst quenched sir?” Furlong asked, his eyes half-lidded.

    “Not by a long shot,” Braener said, grabbing the man by the back of the head and pulling him closer.

    ********************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Alright, pacing slowing down a bit here as we get some exposition. Yet I still have questions about Solok ... not to mention Sadi. I'm gonna try and sit here patiently and wait to get them in due time. Not an easy task.
     
    DarKush likes this.