UT: Darker Territory: Hearts of Glass

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

  1. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Definitely interested in what Solok's game here is, but it does look like we're going to be getting some answers soon. I expect we'll see some more fireworks in the very near future.
     
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  2. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2016
    Why do I have the feeling "Stadi" could break out of that agony booth and bust some heads together anytime she wanted to?
     
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  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay and DF, thanks again for reading and commenting. I hope some of this answers some questions, though its likely to raise others. CeJay I did feel a need to explain some more stuff because I felt I was going too fast in the story and I hoped to give more characters some space to breathe and chew some scenery.

    SolarisOne, thanks for reading and commenting as well. I believe this is your first comment, so thank you for sharing your thoughts on the story so far. Below you'll learn a little more about Stadi, that's all I'll say.
    *************************************************************************************************

    ISS Travis Mayweather


    “What the hell happened here?” Bashir voiced what they were all thinking. Shelby didn’t worry about reply. Instead she rushed to the ailing nurse. She bent down and propped the bleeding woman up. Temple was grimacing in pain, her eyelids fluttering as she fought to remain conscious.

    Around them, the others spread out. “My gods,” Biraka muttered. Shelby looked up and around at the wrecked room. It was abattoir, the stench of blood and death hung heavy in the room. Her heart throbbed painfully in her chest when she saw Dr. Quaice’s still form. The man had been one of the true allies she had aboard the ship.

    Security Chief Thomsen and the Zaldan, Zim, had both joined the kindly medic in death. A hole had been punched through the human’s chest whereas the Zaldan was nearly burned to a crisp.

    Glover nudged Thomsen’s corpse with a boot. “Damn, I wanted to kill them both,” he said.

    “Where’s Stadi?” Dax asked. Solok was standing by one of the empty agony booths. He was looking intently at it. The shapeshifter was still wearing Oviedo’s face.

    “They were holding her here,” The Vendorian said, while tapping his chin. He touched the glass and then leaned his head against it. He closed his eyes, as if communing with the glass or something unseen within the chamber. It was then that Shelby noticed that the bottom of the booth was coated with dark ashes. “She’s…gone.”

    “Gone? What do you mean ‘gone’?” Terrence asked.

    Solok looked at him, his face a mournful mask. “They murdered her.”

    “Oh,” Shelby’s voice caught in her throat. She looked down at Temple. The nurse was nodding.

    “He’s…he’s right,” she rasped. “Tho-Thomsen…”

    Glover kicked the corpse. “Bastard,” he spat.

    “Don’t tax yourself,” Shelby urged the woman. She looked around and saw Dalen’s medical kit and the closet person standing next to it. “Bashir, make yourself useful and bring me that medical kit.”

    The man glowered at her but complied. He handed it to her. Without looking, her focus still on Temple, Shelby said, “Hand me the hypospray.”

    “The what?” The man balked.

    “Hard to believe in that other reality you’re a doctor,” Dax quipped. Bashir grunted at that but fished around until he produced several choices. Sighing, Shelby picked one. She applied it to Temple’s neck, and the woman’s drifted to sleep.

    “That should at least ease her pain,” Shelby replied.

    “So, this was a waste of time,” Terrence said, unafraid of the hard glares he got as a result of his callousness.

    “What do we do now?” Bashir demanded.

    “We beam over to the Shuttle Bay. Commander Glover, that Klingon ship of yours should be ready to go by now.”

    “And this Braener fellow is just going to let us go?” Bashir was rightfully incredulous. It still didn’t excuse the man’s obnoxiousness.

    “Of course not,” Biraka smiled. “Captain Shelby, there’s a small group of us who remain loyal to you, and hope your command will be restored, and that you will remember our loyalty.”

    Shelby walked over to the man and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Of course. Shelbys’ always repay our debts.”

    Terrence scoffed at that, but she ignored him. “I can’t speak for the Shelby clan, but if we survive this, know that you’ve made an ally out of my family,” Glover declared. Shelby rolled her eyes at that.

    “So, our guardian angel is staying aboard this horrid vessel?” Bashir asked.

    “Yes,” the inquisitor answered. “I’m not afraid of Braener, or his goons. Pollard should be waiting for aboard the Klingon ship. I would rather spare her from what’s to come.” The man paused, a touch of sorrow on his face. “She reminds me of my daughter,” he said quietly. He shook his head and the sadness dissipated.

    “What about Nurse Temple?” Solok asked. The man’s concern surprised Shelby. Perhaps it was a byproduct of his grief for Stadi.

    “I’ll take care of her,” Biraka said. “If anything, her condition will lend credence to the viciousness of your assault.”

    “I see,” Shelby said after a moment. “And what of you?”

    Biraka held his hands out from him, exposing his torso. “Try not to hit a vital organ,” the man said. As Shelby began looking around for a dagger, Terrence was already handing her one. It was covered in sticky blood. For a painful moment, Elizabeth imagined it belonged to Dalen.

    Stowing those feelings away, Shelby turned back to the inquisitor. She gripped the knife handle as she approached, looking for the safest place to perforate.

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

    Good Fortune



    “Beat you to the rebel warren,” Ensign Natalya Winters challenged, her voice in singsong as she sidled up alongside the Juan Andres.

    “If you’re not careful you’re going to pancake you and everyone on board into one of these asteroids,” Ensign Desvignes riposted. “I’ll take it nice and slow. That rebel base isn’t going anywhere.”

    “Typical Falcon Squad attitude,” Winters sniffed. She opened up her impulse engines, rocketing past the other vessel.

    “Stow it you two!” Lt. Curbeam barked. Natalya was surprised it had taken the querulous man that long before he rained on her fun. She supposed that the shaven-headed security officer was thinking over the mission ahead of them, no doubt imagining the fortune just waiting to be plundered.

    The Mayweather had been on the other side of the massive asteroid, with the base being on the far side, away from them. Now Braener was finally doing something he should have hours ago and sent away teams to look for treasure. Though she was doubtful, it wasn’t completely outside the realm to imagine these rebels had been successful enough to pilfer from the Klingons and Cardassians.

    Winters zipped expertly between the asteroids, her sights on the largest one, their potential prize.

    “Hold up,” Desvignes said, risking Curbeam’s wrath. “Are your sensors picking up the massive residual phaser particles?”

    “Huh?” Winters replied. She glanced back at the crewman operating the shuttle’s science console. Inwardly she chastised herself for once again, looking before she leaped. “Anything?” She barked at the crewman. It was his job to keep her on top of their rivals after all.

    “What’s Desvignes prattling about now?” Curbeam demanded. The crewman sitting at the science terminal licked his thin lips while quickly scouring the panel. “He’s right sir,” the young man squeaked. “It’s a heavy concentration of phaser energy, along with debris.”

    Debris?” Curbeam’s brow furrowed and though Natalya couldn’t see his eyes, she knew they had narrowed. Like many Terrans, the security officer had been born with a sensitivity to bright light, however his photosensitivity was so acute that he wore special eyewear. For landing party missions, he wore darkened goggles. Lesser Terrans would’ve used their disability as a crutch or allowed themselves to be pushed aside by healthier specimens, but Curbeam’s infirmity drove him to be matchless as Starfleet officer, and that made him extremely dangerous. “What kind of debris?”

    “Not sure sir,” the crewman said reluctantly, rightfully fearful of the security officer.

    “Should I inform the Mayweather sir?” Winters asked, drawing Curbeam’s attention to her. She wasn’t as afraid of the man as many junior officers aboard the ship were. Plus, she reasoned she could extract payment, of some form, from the grateful crewman later.

    “No,” Curbeam was curt. “Captain Braener has given us a charge, and we will carry it out. If we inform him now he’ll just tell us to complete the mission regardless. It’s better to investigate this debris and then examine the rebel hideout.”

    “Aye sir,” Winters said. She turned back in her seat before she smiled. She knew as well as Curbeam that knowledge was its own currency in the empire. If there was something of value within that wreckage Curbeam wanted to get his hands on it first to use to advance his station aboard the Mayweather. She intended to likewise.

    Instead of contacting the mother ship, Natalya hailed the Juan Andres. She repeated what Curbeam had told her.

    “Acknowledged,” Desvignes said for once without complaint or a snarky retort. The man grasped the potential of the unexpected find. It was one of the reasons why they worked so well together, especially under the covers.

    “That’s it?” Winters couldn’t help but tease. “No witty comeback?”

    “No,” the man’s smile was heavy in his voice. “I’ve got a race to win,” he said before streaking by her.

    “Like hell you do,” Winters declared before giving chase.

    *******************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  4. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Sector 04-70


    Thought Admiral Kojo leaned forward in his chair and rubbed his eyes. He blinked several times, before muttering, “I don’t believe it. I haven’t seen such vessels since SermanyuQ!”

    “Imperial Starfleet shuttles, as I draw breath,” gushed another supposedly hardened warrior. Nandali, whom Garak had come to learn was from the Kriosian species, jumped up from her console.

    “Admiral, we must drop our cloak and vaporize those glob flies this instant!” The metal-teethed woman demanded. “Look at them, going over the destruction of an Alliance vessel, as if picking clean its bones!”

    Garak almost chuckled at that, but wisely restrained himself. He wasn’t on a Cardassian battlecruiser and he had to be mindful of that at all times. These Klingons might not appreciate his kotra move over Corvinas and the Falkein. Nor would they understand his role in undermining his liege by feeding the flames of rebellion, but with the discovery of these Imperial ships, Garak saw a way to redirect the focus from the Marauders to the greater enemy. Before he had been content with wiping out all of the rebels, including the Alliance operative among them who knew too much, and thereby covering up his perfidy in the process, but the Imperial shuttles provided a brighter, shinier object that no self-respecting Alliance warship could ignore. Kojo might bypass the rebel base altogether.

    “Those are mere shuttles, even the most incompetent Cardassian commander would not have fallen prey to them,” the old man stroked his beard. Small, dark shapes fell from it. “They would never have made it this far into Alliance space, alone. Their mother ship must be close by.”

    “Perhaps, it is on the other side of that massive asteroid,” Garak suggested, pointing at the screen.

    Kojo snorted. “Perhaps.”

    “Shouldn’t we test that theory milord?” Nandali pressed. “If we rattle our mek’leth at the shuttles, they will flee to their mother ship, and then we shall have them all.”

    “That is a plausible theory,” Kojo admitted, “But you ignore too many variables. We don’t know if there is just one Terran vessel that has intruded into our space.”

    “It could be an armada awaiting us behind that rock,” Garak added. “This could be a full-scale invasion.”

    “Bah!” The Kriosian scoffed.

    “If it is an invasion, let them come!” Growled the Klingon at the helm.

    “There’s no way that even the Terran Empire could’ve slipped an armada into our territory,” declared a long-faced woman at the Engineering console.

    “Didn’t they once possess cloaking technology?” The science officer offered.

    Kojo shook his head at that, “That was old Suliban technology, so useless that they stripped it from their vessels.” He grinned, “I was there, with Dahar Master T’nag when we exposed the futility of those cloaking devices.”

    “Caleb IV,” the science officer quickly added. Kojo’s grinned at that.

    “What of the Romulans, and their technology?” The helmsman countered.

    “They wouldn’t dare incur the wrath of the Alliance by sharing their cloak with the Terrans,” the engineer was confident.

    “Who said anything about sharing?” The helmsman retorted. The engineer glared at him, and then both shared sly grins and roaring laughs.

    “Enough!” Kojo bellowed after a moment, though the man was also smiling. “I doubt that a fleet of Imperial vessels are lying in wait for us, but several is a credible possibility. As it stands, they don’t even know we are here, and I want to keep it that way, for the time being.”

    “But if we unveil ourselves now, the shuttles could call for help,” Nandali didn’t want to let the matter drop. “And we could then face our enemies like true Klingons!” The engineer and helmsman both snickered at that, drawing boiling glares from the Kriosian.

    “That is, if they are able to communicate through the plasma-rich environment inside the maelstrom,” the science officer said, foolishly undaunted by the Kriosian. “It’s by the grace of Molor that our cloak is still operating.”

    “Another reason to press why we still have the advantage,” Nandali said. “And it’s not like we are alone if we there truly are more than one Terran vessel hiding behind the asteroid.”

    “Ah, our cloaked friends,” Garak said. “I almost forgot.” Of course, he hadn’t, and it was concerning him that they had yet to reveal themselves. It made him wonder if Kira, Lang, or even Orta hadn’t made a kotra move of their own.

    “There are a lot of variables in this game of klin zha and one must practice patience,” Kojo advised. Nandali folded her arms and huffed loudly to show her displeasure, but she said no more. Garak hated to agree with any one that looked like a Trill, but the fearsome woman was right in this instance. It made little sense to not press the advantage. Imperial prisoners, even the handful on those shuttles, would win them great honors and rewards from both the Central Command the High Command, if not the Regent himself. He certainly couldn’t allow their cloaked fellow traveler to swoop in and seize the prize.

    If the doddering Kojo didn’t act soon, Garak resolved that he would. If the thought admiral wanted to remain hidden then they couldn’t decloak and send shuttles down to the asteroid to scour it, and he couldn’t cover his tracks and erase any hint of his role in the aiding the rebellion. Every second they tarried was another second that his secret might be exposed.

    “Milord, if we don’t wish to tempt the sabre bear,” Nandali said after a few moments. “Perhaps we could use our cloaked friends to draw out whatever Imperial vessels are hiding behind the asteroid.”

    “What are you getting at Nandali?” Kojo barked.

    The woman, to her credit, didn’t flinch or cower. She smiled as she calmly explained, “We expose them and see what the Terrans will do in response.”

    Garak was surprised at the silence that fell over the stuffy room. He had never encountered Klingons who were shocked, much less doubting. Grumbling broke out among the bridge crew. Nandali weathered it all, her expression nonplussed.

    “A metaphasic sweep can penetrate a Klingon cloak,” the science officer offered, finally breaking the disquieting silence. Nandali’s ire turned to gratitude.

    “Kunivas, is correct,” the Kriosian said. “If we initiated a sweep it would unmask their cloak and we could see who has been following us all this way, while providing a lure for whatever Imperial ships are lurking in wait.”

    “The Kriosian does speak with truth,” the engineer added, with reluctant. She spit afterward. “This could be the jackals from the House of Wo’toth or even the Mogh-Duras, seeking to undermine your place of honor at the Regent’s side.”

    “Wo’toth,” Kojo snarled. “They are completely without honor.”

    “As is much of the Mogh-Duras,” Kunivas said, though quickly added, “Excepting the Regent and his kin of course.”

    “The Duras petaQs!” The Klingon female at navigation pounded her console with enough force that it made the helmsman flinch. Roaring laughter, at the man’s expense, rattled the bulkheads. The man jumped out of his seat, glaring at everyone, who only laughed harder. He pulled his d’k tahg, but the laughter didn’t stop.

    “Stop it,” he declared, “At once!”

    “You’re too emotional Drex,” The navigator declared, “Like the puq you are!”

    The man bellowed as he turned on the taunting navigator, too quickly for the woman to respond. The man plunged the blade into her neck. Blood exploded from the wound like a geyser, bathing the wild Drex. He was heaving, his nostrils flaring, his eyes burning, as he stood over the woman. She didn’t fight death, instead she used what remained of her strength to plunge her own mevak blade deep into the man’s midsection. His smug expression evaporated, as he exhaled in agony and surprise. They both fell at the same time, the man stumbling backward, hitting the back of his chair on his way to the deck. The navigator slid from her chair.

    Once their rattles had stopped, Klingons pushed Garak to the side to get to them. Even Kojo lumbered from his command chair. The Klingons kneeled by the fallen warriors. Even Kojo, while leaning on a white bone cane.

    Unable to stop himself, Garak followed the Klingons. They formed a circle around the corpses, and the Cardassian knew not to force his way in. He resorted to looking between whatever silvers between the wall of bodies he could.

    Kojo knelt by the navigator. Garak saw the man carefully open her eyes. He gazed intently into the sightless orbs. A rumble started deep within the core of the old admiral, and seconds later, all the Klingons joined in. As one their eyes lifted toward the ceiling and their collective roar made the deck tremble. Garak placed fingers in both ears, but to know avail. The bellowing made his bones rattle down to the marrow.

    And just like that, it was over. Kojo rose slowly. He looked down at the bodies once more, but his expression was impassive. “Get rid of those,” he ordered. Turning back to his chair, he noticed Garak, as if seeing him for the first time. “You are never to speak of what you just witnessed Son of Tain.”

    “Of course not,” Garak promised. He wouldn’t even know where to begin, or how he could use the bizarre incident to his advantage.

    “I suppose you are familiar enough with our ship’s systems,” Kojo said.

    “I am a quick learner,” Garak boasted.

    “Very well,” Kojo nodded, “You’re now my navigation officer.”

    “Excuse me,” Garak nearly sputtered.

    “Attend your station!” Kojo demanded. The order sent a shock through Garak. The Cardassian was already sitting in the blood-spattered seat before he realized it. The Kriosian took over the helm.

    She flashed her metal teeth at him. “If you’re one-quarter as good as Vekma, you just might survive this.” All Garak could do was swallow hard to push down the lump that had formed in his throat.

    “Kunivas, initiate a metaphasic sweep,” Kojo rasped, seemingly out of breath. But yet the man found the wind to add, “Nandali and Meraht, you better be right. If not you will soon be traveling the River of Blood with Drex and Vekma.”

    “I wouldn’t have it any other way Thought Admiral,” the Kriosian declared. With such a madwoman at the helm, Garak’s confidence of returning to Terok Nor dipped precipitously.

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

    ISS Alexander

    Main Bridge


    “The Good Fortune and Juan Andres,” read Commander Murakawa. She looked back at the captain, her expression both curious and hopeful. “Both belong to the Travis Mayweather.”

    “Where is the Mayweather?” Hudson ordered.

    “Our scanners have not picked it up,” Murakawa frowned.

    “It’s got to be around here,” Hudson said, stroking his chin. “Somewhere.” His eyes bored into the main viewer. “Shelby the Younger is just as crafty as her brother,” he muttered. “Perhaps she’s hiding out on the other side of that large asteroid?”

    “That could be a possibility,” Murakawa nodded. “Our sensors are having enough trouble as it is in this plasma morass, and the minerals in these asteroids aren’t helping matters. I’m even picking up an increase in metaphasic radiation.”

    “Is it coming from our Klingon friends?” Dryer asked. “Are they attempting to expose us like the snakeheads in the Soltok system did?”

    The first officer shrugged. “You’re guess is as good as mine,” she replied. “This patch of space is littered with all kinds of cosmic phenomena.”

    Science Officer Tarses ventured to chime in, “This could be a naturally occurring phenomenon for all we know about the system.”

    “No one asked you half-breed,” Dryer groused. The man gulped loudly in response.

    “Is this metaphasic energy a danger to the ship?” Hudson asked, ignoring the two subordinates.

    “No,” Murakawa said, shaking her head. “It shouldn’t be an issue…if it is naturally occurring.”

    “Sirs,” Dryer butted in. “I think a more pertinent question at the moment is why haven’t the Klingons decloaked and disintegrated those shuttles yet?”

    Hudson stroked his chin again. “An apt question,” he said. “And it’s something we can’t allow because the crew aboard those shuttles would know for sure where the Mayweather is.”

    “Well, it’s not like we can just ask them, without informing the Klingons of our presence,” Murakawa countered.

    “We’ll see about that,” Hudson said. He slapped the communicator on his chair.

    “Bixby here,” the chief engineer was crisp.

    “You were a communications officer before joining the Engineering Corps,” Hudson stated.

    “Aye sir,” the man replied.

    “Since Fuchs ran afoul of Commander Dryer and is currently in Sickbay,” he paused to glance back at the satisfied security chief, “I want you to come up with a way we can communicate with those shuttles out there, something the Klingons can’t detect. I want them to know we are allies.”

    “Aye sir,” Bixby said. “I shall have a solution within the hour.”

    “You have ten minutes.”

    “Aye sir,” the chief engineer replied, less crisply this time.

    “Don’t report back unless you have the solution. Hudson out.” The captain slapped the communicator off. He picked up the riding crop that had been on his lap. “Shouldn’t be long now,” he said, channeling his frustration into bending the swagger stick.

    “Captain, I don’t think Bixby’s going to be necessary to get their attention,” Murakawa said quickly.

    “What do you mean by that?” Hudson demanded.

    “They’re heading straight for us,” Murakawa pointed at the screen. The two shuttles were rushing toward them.

    “How is that possible?” The captain asked.

    “They are charging weapons,” Dryer said quickly. “Sir I think it’s time dropped the pretense and fire on either the Klingons or these shuttles, preferably both.”

    “Not yet,” Hudson said. “Helm, evasive maneuvers. I want to see if the cloak has really been exposed or not.” Ensign Auguste ably moved the ship out of the way of the oncoming shuttles.

    “Shuttles are matching our course,” Auguste informed him a few seconds later.

    “Damn,” Hudson nearly broke the stick in half.

    “Both shuttles firing,” Dryer said. Four stencils of energy unleashed from the shuttles.

    “Brace for impact,” the captain called just before the Alexander was rocked by the phaser fire. Hudson had experienced thunderstorms that were more rattling. About the worst thing was the lighting had blinkered, and then brightened considerably.

    “Minor damage,” Dryer was quick. “However, the cloak,” the woman paused, rereading her terminal. She swallowed hard. She looked at him, a glimmer of concern in her eyes, “The cloak… it’s gone.”

    “What do you mean?” Hudson was out of his chair. He rushed over to Dryer’s console. Before he could push the woman aside, the first officer weighed in, stopping him in his tracks.

    “The commander is right,” Murakawa said. “The cloak, is offline.”

    “And the Klingons sir,” Dryer added. “Have decloaked as well.”


    *********************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  5. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Nice. The tension builds as it looks like Liz is deliberately goading the Imperials and Klingons into a fight. Creative and crafty...
     
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  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Shuttle Bay

    “Just who the hell is this?” Glover glared at the anxious ensign. The swarthy man was bound and gagged to the chair inside the Klingon shuttle. He was pulling against his restraints, his large eyes bugging and the veins in his neck pulsing. One fat throbbing vein ran across his forehead.

    “I thought you were supposed to dispose of him Ensign Pollard?” Inquisitor Biraka said more calmly. The woman was disheveled, her slinky dress ripped in places and scratches marring her attractive dark brown face.

    “Sir, I-I did as you said, I made sure that Chief Singh dismissed the other crew, leaving us alone. And then I did apply the sedative, but when it came down to the other part…I-I just couldn’t, not in cold blood,” Pollard blubbered.

    “You’re a disgrace to the uniform,” Glover spat.

    “Enough Terrence,” Shelby said firmly.

    “Not this time Elizabeth,” Glover continued fuming. “She must follow orders or be made to.” He took out his blade and held it towards her. “Go on,” he demanded, “take it!” The ensign shrank from the dagger.

    “Quit it Terrence,” Shelby sighed. “We don’t have time for this.”

    “If I can’t trust the people with me to do what is necessary to insure our survival then we aren’t going anywhere,” Glover held firm.

    “You think you’re the only one that can fly this bucket?” Shelby challenged.

    “Bano isn’t going to help us, and Thomsen can’t,” Glover smirked. “Besides, you’re in the best hands because I’m the greatest pilot in the galaxy.” Biraka chortled at that, and Terrence glowered at the robust inquisitor.

    “You know it’s true Liz,” Terrence said. “I’m the best chance we have to get away from this ship and then evade Braener.”

    Shelby sighed. “Damn it.”

    Bashir approached Glover. “Give me the knife. I’ll gut him like a drayjin.”

    “No,” Glover turned the dagger on Bashir.

    “Julian,” Jadzia said, as calmly as Biraka had been with Pollard. She placed a restraining hand on the man’s shoulder. “Stay out of this.”

    “Better listen to your Trill,” Glover smirked. Julian pushed against Jadzia’s grip.

    “You eager to die pirate?” Glover taunted him.

    “The longer we argue, the greater the likelihood of discovery,” Solok wisely pointed out. The fake Vulcan had gone over the shuttle to verify Pollard’s assertions that she and Singh were the only ones left.

    “Well?” Glover turned back to Pollard. The woman’s fear turned to disgust, and then there was a spark of rage at the Terrence for the situation she had put him in. At that Glover laughed and nodded with satisfaction.

    “There it is, that fire, the flames that burn in the hearts of all who are worthy of our uniform,” Terrence said. He waved the dagger at the science officer. She snatched it out of his hands. Terrence waited placidly to see if she would use it on the bound man, or him. He glanced at Elizabeth and saw that the woman was holding her breath.

    Squaring up her shoulders, she approached Singh. Sensing what was about to happen, the man started bucking against his restraints. He shook his head wildly as tears began to flow. Terrence couldn’t understand the man’s muzzled words, but he assumed he was begging for his paltry life.

    Pollard stood over the man, looking at the blade and then back at Singh. “Like the Vendorian said Ensign,” Glover pressed, “We don’t have all day. Do it!”

    Pollard cried out as she sunk the blade deep into his chest. Singh’s cries of pain were muffled. Blood ran down his golden tunic. “Again,” Glover ordered, “Again.” He kept barking at the woman as she stabbed the engineer. Soon his cries became whimpers and his stunted flailing stopped altogether. The man’s head lolled to the side, his eyes closed forever.

    Pollard stood over him, dazed. Glover sauntered over to her. He plucked the knife from her bloodstained hands. “Good work Ensign,” he smiled. “You’ve earned that uniform today.”

    “He’s right, you know,” Biraka said. “Noelle, this universe is not made for gentlefolk.”

    “There is another universe though,” Jadzia said.

    “So, we’ve heard,” Bashir was doubtful. “But who knows if Sisko and O’Brien weren’t just yanking our chains.”

    “They weren’t,” Shelby was assured, even more than usual. “What I saw-what I experienced-with the orb, that was real. There is another reality.”

    “Multiple ones, in fact,” Solok added, “Even extradimensional realms on this plane of existence.”

    “I’ll believe that when I see it,” Bashir blew through his teeth.

    “Who gives a damn what you believe,” Terrence said. “My wife, I mean, Captain Shelby is right, the shapeshifter is right, and you’re wrong. Deal with it.”

    “How about I deal with you instead?” Bashir huffed. He was in Glover’s face before the Trill could stop him.

    Glover chuckled. “You really eager to join that engineer huh?”

    “Don’t be so sure it won’t be you drawing your last breath,” Bashir retorted.

    “Terrence,” Shelby said, in an annoyed tone he knew very well.

    “Julian,” the Trill’s voice had a similar tone.

    “This isn’t over,” Glover promised.

    “You’re right about that,” the other man said.

    “It’s over, for me at least,” Biraka replied.

    “What are you getting at Bennington?” Shelby asked.

    “This is where I take my leave of you,” the inquisitor replied.

    “What?” Pollard and Shelby said almost in unison.

    “You can’t go back there,” the ensign said.

    “Ensign Pollard is right,” Shelby nodded. “Once Braener finds out you helped us escape your life is forfeit.”

    “The key word there is ‘if’,” Biraka smirked. “Don’t worry about me. I told you before I have allies aboard, and Pollard isn’t the only one. You’ll need someone here to help you get away. Even if Braener suspects I’m involved, even he won’t lift a finger against me. He knows that would not go over well with Command.”

    “Don’t count on that,” Shelby said. “Kendrew is unpredictable.”

    The burly man tapped his temple. “Not to an inquisitor.”

    “What about me?” Pollard asked.

    “You stay with them,” the man said. “They’ll need your know-how to get through the expanse.”

    “I don’t need anyone,” Glover huffed. Biraka chuckled at that, and Glover growled in displeasure.

    “Too much time has been wasted already,” the inquisitor said. “I’ll do what I can to slow Braener down, but you need to leave; now.”

    “The counselor doesn’t need to tell me twice,” Glover replied.

    “Take care of yourself Bennington,” Shelby said, grasping the man’s hand in a firm grip.

    Pollard simply hugged the man but stopped when she realized she was getting Singh’s blood on his uniform. Tears overtaking her, the woman ran to the ship’s refresher.

    Glover hoped the woman would stay in there until she could conduct herself like a proper Imperial officer.

    Striding to the cockpit, he said over his shoulder, “Inquisitor, if you’re not off this vessel in five seconds you’re coming with us whether you want to or not.”

    “You’re welcome Mr. Glover,” Biraka said in response, before he hustled out of the hatch. Shelby slammed it closed behind the man.

    “Terrence you can be a real ass sometimes you know,” She said. Glover smirked.

    “Yeah, I know, it’s part of my charm,” he riposted.

    “Not, it’s not, not really,” Shelby came back.

    “Oh? Then why did you marry me?” Glover said while bringing the ship’s systems online.

    Shelby took up the seat beside him. “I still ask myself that, at once a day.”

    “I long suspected, but glad to hear it from you, that I’m still on your mind,” Glover quipped.

    “Don’t flatter yourself,” Shelby rolled her eyes at the man’s smugness.

    “Don’t need to when I got you thinking about me all the time,” Glover said. The ship lifted off the deck. “Now’s the time for everyone to buckle up,” he said over his shoulder.

    “What about the body?” Jadzia asked.

    “We’ll shoot it out with any garbage once were away from this prison,” Glover replied. He got behind the controls. “Everyone buckle up,” he ordered. “We’re about to blow this popsicle stand.”

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

    Good Fortune

    “What the hell?!” Lt. Curbeam showed a glimmer of emotion that Natalya didn’t think the man possessed. He jumped beside her, nearly pressing his face against the viewport. “That’s-that’s an Imperial conquest ship!”

    “The Alexander to be exact,” the science officer supplied, no doubt seeking to redeem himself and ward off the security officer’s wrath.

    “What in the Great Bird is the Alexander doing out here, in Alliance space?” Winters muttered before realizing she had spoken aloud.

    “Hail them,” Curbeam ordered.

    “They’re hailing us,” Winters said, her console blinking.

    “Open channel,” the security officer said.

    There was a burst of static, and then a harsh voice, “Get out of the way!”

    “What?” Curbeam looked at Winters. She was just as confused as the goggled man was.

    “Repeat that,” Curbeam said.

    “Damn it man,” the voice barked, “Evasive maneuvers or I’ll slag you myself!”

    “We’re not following,” Curbeam replied.

    “Uh, sirs,” the science officer squeaked. The ship was knocked hard to the side before he could finish his interruption. Though Curbeam clamped on to the edge of the console, it kept him on his feet, though his hip bone banged into the side of Winters’s head. She blinked back the pain at the contact. Right now, she had bigger worries than minor discomfort.

    The science officer started again, “The Juan Andres…has been destroyed.”

    “Come again?” Curbeam asked.

    “Henri,” Winters gasped. Grief and rage began stirring within her. She closed her eyes, forcing a lid on the cauldron. She needed to channel her emotions into retaliating against whoever had murdered her lover.

    “A Klingon battlecruiser has decloaked,” the science officer said. “It destroyed the Juan Andres.”

    “Damn forehead bastards,” one of the security guards in the back groused.

    “And now they are heading for us,” the science officer squeaked.

    In front of them, the Alexander, a grand ship of the line, shot past them. Winters only was able to marvel at the ventral secondary hull before the ship disappeared.

    “They’re leaving us?!” The science officer nearly shrieked. Winters shared a troubled look on Curbeam’s face. Even though she couldn’t make out his eyes, she knew they were lanced with fear.

    “I don’t know,” Winters said, speaking for them all. “I don’t know.”

    ********************************************************************
     
  7. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Medical Bay


    Captain Braener was smoldering. He couldn’t just have one satisfying moment. The demands of his station had forced him to lock away his lustful memories of Furlong. He glared down at the dozing, battered nurse. “Doctor, wake Nurse Temple.”

    “Uh, Captain,” Junior Medical Officer Quint’s voice was halting. “Nurse Temple has suffered great trauma. She needs rest.”

    “I’ll determine what she needs,” Braener declared. He poked his finger in the man’s chest. “If we had another seasoned physician right now I would put you in an airlock.”

    The medic took a step back. “You don’t move, unless I tell you,” Braener hissed. He got in the man’s face, his eyes going cross as they zeroed in on him. “Got it?”

    “Of course, sir,” the man said, looking down, submitting to Braener’s authority. Braener smirked.

    “That’s more like it,” he nodded. “Now, do as I order.” He nodded at Shoreham, who was by the dispensary’s door, pleased there was another witness to his power.

    The medic scampered over to a medical table and lifted a cylindrical device. He rushed back over the insensate nurse. He placed the device against the woman’s neck. There was a soft hiss, and then the woman’s eyes fluttered, and she grimaced with pain.

    Braener pushed the doctor to the side. He leaned over the waking woman. He wanted her face to be the first one he saw. The captain wanted to question her before she could remember any lies.

    “Captain Braener,” the intercom made him curse. He couldn’t leave the bridge for five minutes it seemed before he was being called back to it, like he was chained to that command chair. It was already starting to feel less like a throne and more like an electric chair. Though Braener wouldn’t have it any other way.”

    “What is it now Woods?” He didn’t hide his frustration.

    “You’re needed on the bridge,” the woman was undaunted by his fit of pique. “Now.”

    Braener looked down at the still stirring nurse, and then at Quint who wisely looked away. Next the captain looked at Shoreham, who smartly maintained her cool poise. He threw up his hands, “And why is that Number One?”

    “Simply sir,” the woman’s voice was tinged with fear, “Everything has just gone to shit.”

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

    IKS Vi’chak


    Everyone was stunned into momentary inaction, even Garak. He blinked several times at the Imperial tearing towards them. It wasn’t until the deck plates trembled and several consoles sparked that he jumped into action.

    Working in concert with the Kriosian he turned the battlecruiser hard to port, straining as much as the lumbering warship did to avoid another volley from the oncoming starship.

    “The assailing ship is a conquest vessel of the Excelsior-class,” Bregath, the chiseled, dark-hued weapons officer informed them.

    “A marvelous vessel,” Thought Admiral Kojo gasped in wonder. “I-I haven’t destroyed one of those in many, many moons.” Bregath sent a fusillade of disruptor fire at the ship, forcing it to veer off.

    “It was Terrans following us the whole time?” Kojo was befuddled. “How-how did they mimic Klingon cloaking device readings?”

    “It’s more plausible that they stole one of our devices or brought it from the thriving black markets in the Borderlands,” the female warrior at the science terminal explained.

    Kojo shook his head, “After all these years, these humans are still without honor! To skulk about instead of facing us openly, like true warriors!”

    “Toy’wl’!” Meraht bayed. Garak recognized the term, one of the many the Klingons had devised for the enslaved. Nandali spat a thick gob of spit on the deck at the epithet, and the Cardassian wondered if the Kriosian was showing her solidarity with her Klingon betters so they wouldn’t put her in the same caste.

    As the old admiral thundered on, Garak fought hard not to chuckle. How was what the Terrans did any less honorable than the cloaking device many Alliance warships were equipped with, including the Vi’chak?

    “The remaining Terran shuttle has changed course and is now powering weapons,” Bregath said.

    “Could the cloaked vessel be the mother ship we were looking for?” Nandali asked.

    “Unlikely,” the science officer replied. “It has been following us for a long time now.”

    “Zegov is right,” Kojo said. “There’s another Terran vessel out there, somewhere, and it could be cloaked as well.”

    Dread formed a hard lump in Garak’s throat at the prospect. While he forced it down, the ship shuddered again as the shuttle fired on them and then they were hit again by the more formidable conquest vessel that had come about. More consoles caught fire, one engulfing the unlucky soul that had been seating at the environmental station. To all that, Kojo roared with laughter. “Nothing like a little blood and smoke to get the blood pumping eh?” He guffawed and pounded his armrest. “By Molor, the battle is joined!”

    ******************************************************************
     
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  8. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Main Bridge


    “This better be worth the interruption,” Braener threatened as he stepped onto the bridge. Operations Officer Woods was out of the man’s chair as he stepped down into the command well. “Well Woods?” He demanded. Even during the turbolift ride he had felt the ship moving, and beyond the operations officer, he saw they were rounding the large asteroid, on full impulse.

    “Captain,” the woman’s expression was somber. “A few minutes ago, we received two messages from Ensign Desvignes.”

    “And?” Braener prompted.

    “It’s Klingons sir,” Woods replied. “A Klingon battlecruiser is assaulting both shuttles.”

    “What?!” Braener didn’t attempt to hide his surprise. He pushed past the woman and began barking orders, though to her credit Woods had already given the appropriate ones. While reclaiming his command chair, he remembered. “You said there was a second message.”

    “Yes,” Woods hadn’t moved from her spot near the central chair. Her expression was perplexed. “The second message was fantastical to say the least.”

    “How so?” Braener asked, while he was contemplating ordering taking the ship to warp to shave off the few seconds it would take to get around the asteroid.

    “Well, Desvignes said there was another Terran vessel, one with a…Klingon cloaking device.”

    “What?!” Braener found himself saying again.

    “I attempted to hail Juan Andres again, but got no response. We’ve also been unable to raise the Good Fortune. Either the Klingons or this Terran vessel are impeding communications or both shuttles have been destroyed.”

    “And we are rushing to join them,” Braener muttered. “Full stop!” He yelled.

    Wood’s brow furrowed. “Sir, our crew is being assaulted.”

    “You just said that both shuttles could already be space dust,” Braener replied. “And we could be galloping to our join them in oblivion. For all we know the Klingons have captured a Terran vessel. How else could a Terran vessel have made it this far into Alliance space?”

    Woods looked askance at that and then stomped her boot on the deck to make her point. “Like we did, but just with a cloak?”

    “The Treaty of Cancri IV forbids Imperial vessels from using cloaking devices,” the auxiliary science officer obnoxiously noted. Why wasn’t Pollard at her station, the thought flittered through Braener’s mind but was pushed aside by more important concerns.

    “That was a treaty forced on us by the Alliance,” steamed Security Officer Stiles, “after the Battle of the Klach D’kel Brakt. My great-grandfather was slaughtered there, along with one-third of the Imperial Fleet.” Braener knew that shameful history well. It was a loss of such magnitude that even the Imperial censors didn’t erase it. Instead the Imperial Court used it as a motivator for Starfleet and as a scourge to keep the citizenry properly quiescent.

    “It’s not like we are bound by treaties to nonhumans anyway,” shrugged the operations officer.

    “If we had flouted the treaty the Alliance might have brought the full might of their armada against us instead of constricting us to our corner of the galaxy,” countered the science officer.

    “Enough!” Braener barked. “Save this theorizing for you off time!” He was pleased that silence fell immediately over the bridge, with the cowed bridge crew redoubling their efforts at their terminals.

    “So, what do we do Captain?” Woods asked.

    “We leave,” he said.

    “I’m sorry,” Woods’s surprise was genuine. “I’m not sure I heard you correctly.”

    “If you didn’t then you need to see Dr. Quint,” Braener said smugly. He tugged on his tunic. “We have Shelby, we have Glover, we have some Marauders as prisoners, and most importantly we have both the Bajoran orb and the transporter prototype. While there are potential treasures on that asteroid, I see no need to risk this ship to obtain them.”

    “But sir,” Woods was respectful, but firm, “The Good Fortune and Juan Andres?”

    “I will put in posthumous commendations for each crewman aboard those shuttles. They will be honored, and their broods well compensated, for their sacrifice,” Braener responded. Woods frowned at that. The captain looked at her intently, daring her to raise an objection. Woods stood her ground for only a few seconds, before she hung her head and resumed her position at his side, as his first officer.

    “Helm,” Braener said in his strongest command voice. Furlong turned half way in his seat and smiled at him, but he didn’t return the man’s gesture or even acknowledge it. On the bridge, he was all business. As a captain should be. Varley, and even Shelby, had taught him that. “Get us the hell away from here, full impulse until we are clear from the worst of the plasma storms and then maximum warp all the way back to Imperial space. I can’t wait to get the stench of the Alliance off me.”

    “Aye sir,” Furlong replied dutifully while turning back to his console. Braener detected a note of disappointment in the man’s voice. Braener promised he would address that later, but he wasn’t sure if he would do so with velvet or iron.

    He was still pondering his response when the hull ripped apart.

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

    Shuttle Delahaye


    Shelby glared at Terrence. “Was that really necessary?” Before them was a gash in the ship, courtesy of the Klingon shuttle’s formidable disruptors.

    Glover smirked at her. “Just a little payback is all. That Braener is one insufferable bastard.”

    “I still have allies aboard,” Shelby pointed out. Terrence shrugged.

    “If that counselor was dumb enough to stick around instead of leaving with us, that’s on him.”

    “I suggest you two resume this conversation once we are outside the Mayweather, before they place shielding over this hull breach,” Solok pointed out.

    “Good point Green-Blood, or whatever kind of fluid pumps through Vendorian veins,” Glover replied as the shuttle sprang from the ship. He looked back at the Vendorian. “Do Vendorians even have blood?”

    Shelby turned around to see Solok’s response. It was a good question she had to admit. The fake Vulcan merely smiled.

    “Less jawing, more flying,” Bashir pressed. The bedraggled man had taken over the weapons console. His Trill companion was at environmental. Solok was already familiarizing himself with the ship’s engineering terminal. Though from what Elizabeth gathered the man was already adept at Klingon script.

    That left her to make something of the nearly indecipherable symbols at the navigation console at Terrence’s side.

    Looking over at Terrence, she just caught another smirk as the shuttle tail spun down into the depths of the void. Holding onto her console, as well as her lunch, her ears were filled with her ex-husband’s peal of maniacal laughter. “Hold on to your butts!”

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

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Main Bridge


    Captain Braener gripped the back of the chair at the tactical station. He forced himself not to grip the neck of the person sitting in the chair. “How could you miss them?!” He demanded. The smaller, Klingon ship weaved between shaft after shaft of phaser fire.

    “I-I’m sorry sir,” Security Officer Weathers stammered. “Whoever is piloting that ship, they’re very good.”

    “You better get better, and I mean quickly,” Braener promised.

    “Whoever,” Inquisitor Bennington weighed in, “Ms. Weathers knows, as we all do, who has stolen that shuttle.”

    “Shelby,” Braener hissed.

    “And from I’ve gleaned for Commander Glover’s record, he was quite the pilot in his Academy days.” As if the insolent man heard them he buzzed the ship before turning abruptly and jetting to full impulse around the asteroid.

    “Well,” Braener turned to the thickset counselor. “He’s a longways away from the Academy.”

    “So are we,” Bennington riposted. Braener forced himself not to vaporize the man. Instead he turned his ire on his operations officer. “Woods, what’s the status of the hull breach?”

    “The shuttle bay has been closed off and shielding has kept more atmosphere from venting out.”

    “Are we able to pursue that shuttle?” Braener demanded. Woods checked her terminal before nodding.


    “We are,” she said slowly, “But they are heading around the Marauder base, toward the Klingon battlecruiser.”

    “Perhaps we should just let the foreheads finish the job, eh?” The eye-patched man at the engineering console sneered.

    “Duffy has a point,” Woods nodded at the russet haired man.

    Braener didn’t reply. Instead he watched the shuttle distancing itself from the Mayweather.

    He plopped into the command chair and jabbed his finger at the screen as if pinioning the retreating shuttle. “Give chase,” he ordered.



    ***************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    This is building up to one climactic, free-for-all, and likely messy as all hell battle. Looking forward to it.
     
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  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Shuttle Delahaye



    Shelby nearly jumped from her seat. She pointed excitedly at the port window as the shuttle rounded the asteroid. “That’s the Alexander!” She shouted as she saw the grand Excelsior-class starship slugging it out with an even larger Klingon battlecruiser. “David’s here!” She kept looking at the battle unfold but said, “Dax hail the Alexander.”

    “Bashir,” Glover barked, “If that Terran starship approaches, unload on it!”

    “What??!” Both Shelby and Bashir said at almost the same time.

    “You heard me pirate!” Glover snarled.

    Shelby quickly said, “Belay that!” She turned to her ex-husband. “Terrence, what’s wrong with you?”

    Glover’s glare burned her. “You think your brother is here for a nice family reunion? You know who he is, what he is. Need I remind you of…”

    Shelby glowered at him, but she struggled to refute what he was saying. “Listen, Elizabeth,” Terrence dimmed some of his fire. “Liz, he’s here for that orb, or the transporter prototype. And he’ll kill us all to get that. What works for us right now is he doesn’t know that jackass Braener is ruling the roost over on the Mayweather right now.”

    “He’ll kill everyone onboard to get what he wants,” she admitted.

    “That’s right,” Terrence nodded. “The best thing we have going for us right now is that he doesn’t know we are on this shuttle. We need to get the hell out of here.”

    “And go where?” Shelby asked. “It’ll be a miracle if we even make out of this asteroid field.”

    “And to be frank here,” Bashir was callous, “without the transporter you’re no use to us.”

    “Julian,” Jadzia admonished.

    “I don’t trust them,” Bashir said, “And they’ve saved our lives. How do you think Sakonna, Fontaine, or even O’Brien are going to feel about taking them on? And so soon after…”

    “Admittedly if we had that prototype, it would give O’Brien something to tinker with and Sakonna something to contemplate,” Jadzia interrupted.

    Pollard coughed softly, but it was loud enough to draw Shelby and the others’ attention. “You have something you wish to add Ensign?” The woman suddenly became interested in her instrument panel, but Shelby patiently waited her out. It didn’t help that Pollard kept looking up every few seconds to see so many eyes looking back at her.

    “Well, I, ah, Inquisitor Bennington,” the woman stammered.

    “Spit it out already!” Bashir fumed.

    “Stow it Bashir,” Shelby warned. The man rolled his eyes at her, but thankfully kept his mouth shut.

    “The inquisitor hid both the Bajoran artifact and the transporter prototype aboard this vessel,” the science officer confessed.

    Shelby was glad she hadn’t been drinking anything at the time. It would’ve sprayed everywhere.

    “And you were going to tell us that when?” Bashir groused. Pollard looked down.

    “Enough Julian,” Jadzia said, in a tone that would not countenance defiance. Bashir cut his eyes in the woman’s direction but couldn’t hold his gaze.

    “The asshole pirate does have a point,” Glover pointed out. “Why were you keeping that information to yourself?”

    “In case we were captured, I was instructed to eject the contents into space. Where hopefully one of our vessels could pick them up later.” The young woman explained. “The less anyone knew about them, the less risk of them being taken by the enemy.”

    “As if you could withstand Alliance questioning,” Bashir scoffed. Jadzia’s slap sounded like a gunshot. Bashir touched his reddened cheek, and smirked. “Jadzia, you know it’s true.”

    “Where are they?” Glover demanded, chancing a look back at the science officer before he swiveled back to keep his concentration on piloting the shuttle.

    “Yes,” Shelby’s approach was gentler. “Where are the objects?”

    “I’m not at liberty to say,” Pollard was soft-spoken but determined.

    Shelby sighed. “I order you to tell me Ensign.”

    The woman swallowed a huge lump that had formed in her throat. She blinked several times, and her voice squeaked, “Technically you are no longer the captain…sir.” Glover chuckled at that. Shelby smothered a sharp retort. “The inquisitor gave me orders and I intend to carry them out…if the situation warrants it.”

    Shelby glared at the woman, but Pollard didn’t back down. Her eyes started to glisten, and she began to shudder, but she would not relent. Shelby was proud of her, but she was too peeved at the moment to admit it. Instead she threw up her hands.

    “I guess we better be getting out of here then,” she said as she sat back by Glover. At that moment a light on her terminal blinked.

    “You just had to say that didn’t you,” Glover was droll.

    “It’s the Klingons,” Jadzia said. “They’re hailing us.”

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

    IKS Vi’chak



    “That Klingon vessel has So’Taj access codes!” The wiry Science Officer shouted above the din.

    “Imperial Intelligence?!” Thought Admiral Kojo bellowed. “What were those honorless petaQ doing at a Marauder base?!”

    “Perhaps working on behalf of some ambitious or duplicitous lord,” Garak offered, eliciting angry glares and growls.

    “Who gave you permission to speak Cardassian?” Bregath demanded while continuing to keep the fight going against the Terran starship, which had been proving harder to destroy than any of them could’ve anticipated.

    “The Weapons Officer does have a point Son of Tain,” Kojo said. “It would be wise to watch your tongue when discussing any Klingon matter aboard a Klingon battlecruiser, doubly so when it comes to the So’Taj.”

    Garak turned long enough to dip his head respectfully and add, “I was just speculating,” he said. “It’s obvious that these miscreants would not be successful without help from someone far more powerful.” In that, he was relieved that the unexpected appearance of the So’Taj ship would keep the focus off him.

    “Ha!” Meraht laughed heartily. “The scaled one speaks with some sense, at least he isn’t as dumb as a gettle!”

    “You can’t tell that by looking!” Bregath’s guffawing pounded Garak’s eardrums.

    Kojo sighed, loudly enough that it ceased the laughter. “We need to secure that ship,” the old admiral said. “Find out just what game is being played here, and who is playing it. I suspect the hand of the Mogh-Duras in this.” Garak couldn’t help but roll his eyes at that. He imagined that the

    “Or one of their rivals, like House Gowron, House ShiVang, House Wo’toth, House Korath, House D’Ghor, or…” the Science Officer trailed off.

    “House Kojo you were going to say?” The admiral pressed.

    “Well, I, uh, sir…” the science officer began stammering. It was most unbecoming for a Klingon warrior, even one of their scientists, Garak thought but dared not voiced.

    “Rest easy Kaemon, Son of Kimmo, your theorizing has merit. Any of my children, including my namesake, could be conspiring with the So’Taj to either aid or destroy the rebellion. Doing either could bring great fortune.” The man paused, and Garak imagined he was stroking his beard. “That is why it is imperative that we discover the truth for ourselves.”

    “If I might be so bold as to wade into Klingon affairs again,” Garak ventured.

    “You may not!” Bregath barked.

    “Bregath, mevyap!” The admiral snarled. The muscular, younger man grunted, but did not defy the honored elder warrior. “Son of Forba, concern yourself more with keeping us intact until that yintagh shuttle is our hold!”

    **************************************************************
     
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  11. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    ISS Alexander

    Main Bridge



    “Where the hell did that ship come from?” Captain Hudson demanded, his eyes zeroing in on the new player in the game, a green low-slung, horseshoe-shaped starship.

    “Looks Klingon to me,” Commander Murakawa said, before checking her terminal. “Yes,” she added, “It is a Klingon shuttle.”

    “Great,” Dryer muttered. “These Turtleheads are like roaches, where there’s one…”

    “There’s bound to be others,” added Chief Bixby, who was now sitting at the aft engineering console. The security chief had suggested that Hudson order chief engineer come to the bridge in case he decided to contact the remaining Terran shuttle after all. Cal had agreed with Nyota that her being close to Bixby would provide him the proper motivation that had often been lacking when it came to his other duties, the official ones. It was the first time Cal had seen the man since his session in the booth with Dryer. He looked surprisingly intact after his date with the zealous security chief.

    “Who knows what else could be lurking behind that large asteroid?” Murakawa pondered. “Sensor readings suggest that there was some kind of base there.”

    “An Alliance base?” Hudson asked, his stomach curdling with dread.

    “Uncertain,” Murakawa replied.

    “Damn,” the captain bent the swagger stick again to the point of breaking. But it did not yield, and neither would he.

    “Sir, we don’t have to stick around and find out if there are more Alliance ships behind that asteroid?” Lt. Tarses gingerly suggested.

    Hudson glared at the mongrel. “We have a mission, we know the Travis Mayweather is close by, with one of their shuttles for proof. We are very close now.”

    “But we don’t know where, or even if we can reach them before destroying the Klingon battlecruiser or more Alliance vessels arrive,” Tarses rejoined. He didn’t like the mutt challenging him, but Hudson had to admit the science officer had a point.

    “Sounds like typical green-blooded cowardice to me,” Bixby snorted. It sounded like the man believed that, but Hudson didn’t discount that he was seeking to curry favor either.

    “Jervis is right,” Dryer added. Hudson turned just in time to see a glimmer of a predacious smirk. He shifted to Bixby and caught the engineer’s paled countenance. “And there’s also a little thing like the battle that we are fighting now,” Dryer added. “Starfleet blood has been drawn.”

    “Not our blood,” Tarses pointed out, even more emphatically this time. “This was Captain Shelby’s mission. It has nothing to do with us. Captain Hudson, you are the master of the Alexander now, and we owe our new positions to you, and you alone sir.” Hudson nodded, appreciating the man’s words. They weren’t quite truthful, at least where Tarses was concerned. He never would’ve placed the man aboard any Imperial vessel, and especially a conquest ship. And Cal certainly would not have made the halfling chief science officer, that was all David Shelby’s doing, another shot in the long-running feud with the Glovers.

    Tarses was right that none of that mattered to Hudson. If anything, the Glovers would reward him for dispatching Shelby, and with the other Shelby a traitor to the Empire, the fortunes of the entire Shelby clan seemed to be waning. He owed them nothing, he feared them even less, and this mission increasingly made little sense.

    Sensing his wavering, Murakawa hopped from her chair and rushed to Hudson’s side. Lowering her voice, she said quickly, “Sir need I remind you of our true purpose.”

    Hudson flicked the swagger stick, slapping her cheek. She yelped in pain and staggered back from the command chair. A hand over her slashed cheek, her eyes were wide and filled with fear, confusion, and hatred. It was a stew that was one of Cal’s favorite dishes.

    He stood up. He tapped the bloodied stick against his pantleg. “I don’t need you to remind me of anything. There’s increasingly little reason to continue on here.”

    “But, but sir, the mission, Admiral Fujisaki’s orders!” Murakawa said. Hudson frowned at the mention of the dreaded deputy chief’s name.

    “You shouldn’t have said his name,” Hudson replied.

    “I for one didn’t hear a damn thing,” Bixby opined. Calvin ignored him. He continued walking toward Murakawa and she kept inching back.

    “If you return to Imperial space, without what Fujisaki wanted,” Murakawa warned. She bumped against the wall, now with nowhere else to run.

    Hudson leaned in close. He drew a deep breath, to take in her scent. It was an intoxicating mix of perfume, sweat, blood, and despair. He looked hard into the woman’s eyes. “If we return to Imperial space, we will do so as the only vessel to have ventured this far into Alliance territory. We will all be heroes. We might even be granted an audience with the Emperor! What is one trifle little thing demanded by some grubby bureaucrat like Fujisaki compared to that?”

    “Sir, you’re playing a dangerous game,” Murakawa said.

    Hudson leaned closer to her, so only she could hear. He supposed Tarses, and his damnable ears were also privy, but that didn’t stop him. He would deal with the mongrel when the time came, if necessary. “They are all dangerous games.” His lips at her ear, he lowered his voice even more, “Your secret and that of your sister are in my keeping. You will die a hero, one who fell while attempting to stop David Shelby from joining his sister in infamy, both as traitors to the Empire. The Glovers shall pay handsomely for such a narrative.”

    “Don’t,” Murakawa began. Hudson pulled back from her, but not quick enough to avoid the strong exhalation. Murakawa’s mouth was open, and then twitching. She clutched the dagger in the center of her abdomen, the same blade he had used on Nella Daren.

    Hudson took a step back and admired his handiwork. He pulled the blade from her and the woman crumpled to the deck. He tugged hard on his tunic, feeling a new vigor. This was the first real decision he had made as captain, on his own, not a liege to Shelby’s plans or Fujisaki’s, and it was exhilarating.

    Hudson wasn’t sure what was next, but he was confident that if he acted decisively and followed his instinct he could remain master of Alexander and have Arandis at his side. The conquest vessel needed another inquisitor, after Shelby had flayed the last one.

    The ship was still rocking as the Klingons pounded away at their shields, but soon they would be out of danger. And perhaps Alexander could find some weaker ships to pillage on the way back to the empire, gaining treasure and maybe even slaves. He allowed himself a smile at the idea of presenting Klingon or Cardassian slaves to Imperial authorities. He might even be catapulted to the Admiralty.

    Still smiling, Hudson turned just as Bixby was drawing a dagger across Tarses’s throat. “I never liked that green-blood,” the engineer said as green blood sprayed across the upper bridge.

    “What the hell?” Hudson said. He didn’t go for his firearm. He didn’t care for the mongrel Science Officer, and certainly was distrusting after he showed such ingratitude to all that Shelby had done for him. He didn’t know whatever personal issues existed between the men, and though this wasn’t the most opportune time, being in the midst of a battle with the Klingons, Hudson couldn’t deny a man for shedding some blood. Though Hudson was peeved that he hadn’t heard anything about trouble between the man, and Dryer had informed him of nothing. As soon as they were back in Imperial space he would have a talk her about that. Cal didn’t like unpredictability, unless he was the cause.

    Tarses fell to the ground, twitching and flopping like a fish out of water. The captain looked at the engineer. Bixby was admiring his bloody hands. “Are you finished?”

    “Yes,” the engineer said, after a moment. His eyes had an infernal gleam.

    “I’m not,” Dryer spoke up. She brandished her weapon, and Hudson chuckled. He was glad the woman was finally dispatching the lackluster engineer. Calvin was certain Shelby had picked him more for his salacious connections to the Argelians and Risians. Nyota knew he detested the man, but Hudson also suspected she was heading off his ire at her not knowing, or failing to inform him, that the situation between Bixby and Tarses had become deadly.

    The security chief aimed her weapon at Bixby. The man started panicking. He looked to Hudson for safety, but the captain laughed louder. “Get it over with Nyota, so we can get the hell out of here, in one piece.”

    Nyota dipped her head respectfully and smiled, the grin blending with her long scar to make it seem like one side of her face had split open. Dryer’s finger tightened on the trigger. Bixby gasped, the cornered rat that he was.

    Hudson was so eager to see more blood spilled that he didn’t register the beam cutting into his midsection. He felt a deep warmth running down his legs, splashing on the floor. He looked down and saw innards sliding out of him, lifeblood pouring from him. He moved to pack the organs back in, blinking with surprise. There was no pain. He was too shocked for that.

    He looked up at the aft section, for Nyota, but the woman was no longer at her terminal. Now she was stalking him, phaser at her side, smile still plastered on her face. “Believe me sir, I didn’t want to do that, but I couldn’t allow you to dishonor the Fleet by running from a battle we can win. So, I now take command of the Alexander.”

    “You-you can’t,” he said, or thought he did. He wasn’t sure if he could even speak anymore. Slippery organs slipped between his fingers. His legs buckled. No one rushed to help him, and Hudson realized he couldn’t expect them to. His most loyal officer had just betrayed him and the only other officer he thought would avenge him, Hudson had just murdered.

    “No,” He wheezed, his breaths becoming harder, impossible. Hearing had become harder as well. His vision was fading. Dryer took the command chair-his seat-like she was born to it. He barely made out her rapid commands. She was assuming complete control over his crew, his ship.

    He tried to reach out to her, no longer caring about letting his guts hit the deck. If Hudson had to die he would do so with his fingers around the traitor’s throat.

    Instead he slipped on his own blood and crashed to the deck. His head smacked against the hard metal and black waves rushed to meet him. They carried him out to tide as he seized upon the words, “Red matter.” He tried to laugh as he sunk into the abyss, certain that he would soon be joined by many others.

    ******************************************************************
     
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  12. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Good stuff! Nothing like good old fashioned Empire style "crew evaluations" including the captain! I have a feeling Nyota's about to make a BIG mistake here--especially as regards red matter. The bodies are really going to start piling up here.
     
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  13. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    IKS Vi’chak



    “The Starfleet vessel has stopped firing,” Nandali said. “Why?”

    “What does it matter?” Garak riposted.

    “The Cardassian is right,” Thought Admiral Kojo roared. “BaH!” Bregath took advantage, the disruptor cannons belching death. The weakening shields of the enemy shuttle finally buckled, and the smaller vessel was consumed. “Well done!” Kojo crowed.

    The ship rocked violently as the Imperial starship crew returned to their senses. Bregath returned fire.

    “Destroy that glob fly so we can grab hold of the So’Taj shuttle!” Kojo ordered.

    Easier said than done, Garak thought, but dared not voice. He was doing his best to avoid most of the destruction the other vessel rained on them. The opposing crew was skilled and admiringly aggressive.

    The Cardassian was hoping for them to overplay their hand, to expose a weakness that Bregath could take full advantage of. Then they could get that shuttle, scour the Marauder base, and return to Terok Nor with their bounty. He just hoped there was no evidence of his perfidy on that asteroid.

    “Thought Admiral, another Starfleet vessel just appeared from beyond the asteroid!” Kaemon announced. Garak had never heard a Klingon’s voice squeak before. He looked at the main viewer and another vessel, a more compact frigate.

    “Ah, the game’s afoot!” Kojo threw back his head and roared with laughter. “Indeed, today is a good day to die!”

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

    Shuttle Delahaye


    “Damn,” Elizabeth gasped as the shuttle was blown apart. Even though her crew had sided with Braener, they were still her crew, and she felt a pang of distress at their loss.

    Terrence chanced taking a hand away from the helm to pat her shoulder. She touched his hand and smiled sadly at him. “If it wasn’t for me, for that accursed orb, and these damn crazy visions, none of this would have happened, and those crewmen would be alive.”

    “Yes,” Terrence nodded along, “But you would never had been sitting in the center chair of the Mayweather, you never would’ve ventured into Alliance space.” He paused, “And we never would have connected.” She saw him looking down at her stomach. “And,” his voice caught in his throat. Shelby touched her midsection. “I’m going to get us out of here, all of us.”

    “Less talking about the thing and doing it, I say,” Bashir interrupted their moment. “Why the crinkle-heads are distracted.”

    The viewport flashed as the Alexander crossed swords with the Klingon battlecruiser again. Glover glanced back at the rebel. “For once, you got a good idea Bashir.” He looked at Shelby, “What do you say Liz?”

    “Wasn’t it you that was talking about blowing a popsicle stand a little while ago?” She smirked. She didn’t want to leave the Mayweather, her loyalists still aboard it, or her brother on Alexander, but she had to ensure that neither the transporter or the orb fell into Alliance clutches.

    “Yes, yes, let’s hurry,” Bashir said. “If you’ve seen the hold of one Klingon battlecruiser, you’ve seen them all, and I have no desire to reminiscence.”

    “Julian is right,” Dax said tightly.

    “Understood,” Glover nodded, without a retort. He angled the shuttle away from the battling starships. “I’m taking us to full impulse. Once we clear the worst of the plasma storms, I’m bringing warp propulsion online.”

    “Sounds marvelous,” Bashir was impatient. Elizabeth rolled her eyes and Terrence nodded in commiseration. Shelby hoped that the majority of rebels they would encounter were more like Dax and Solok than Bashir. The idea that she could even prefer the company of aliens to humans was something that would’ve been riotously ridiculous only a few weeks ago, but the fact that she believed it, she knew it to be true now, taught her how much the orb experience, and all that had followed since, had changed her.

    And Elizabeth knew it was for the better, but she didn’t know where else the new road would take her, or Terrence, since he had joined her, if not quite by free choice. She was still glad for his company. A reminder of her past life made it easier as she said goodbye to her brother and the Mayweather.

    The ship hit a rough patch. “Glover, I thought you were a piloting ace,” Bashir brayed. “Watch out for the plasma streams.”

    “It’s not the plasma,” Noelle said, her voice frantic, “It’s the Mayweather! They are pursuing us and trying to lock on a tractor beam!”

    *******************************************************************
     
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  14. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *********************************************************************************************
    ISS Alexander



    Nyota Dryer flexed her fingers as she gripped the armrests of the command chair. It was her chair now. The thought was exciting and dangerous, a thrill course through her like she had been struck by lightning. Never before had such power been at her fingertips.

    “Captain,” Bixby haltingly intruded on her reverie. It took her a few seconds to realize the man was referring to her.

    “Oh,” she gasped, and then swung the chair around to glare at him. “What do you want?”

    The man looked down, hunching his shoulders, getting as small as he could, like the whipped dog he was. Dryer smiled at that. “I asked you a question!” The man’s fear was delicious.

    “Of course, Captain,” Bixby said, while keeping his eyes averted, “The red matter…”

    “Yes,” Dryer nodded, swinging back to look at the main viewer. The Klingon battlecruiser was coming about again. “The red matter.” Shelby was a tyrant, but a useful one. He had always been on the lookout for anything that gave the empire the upper hand, and his family especially, and red matter, a substance more powerful and even more destructive as protomatter, had been one of his greatest finds.

    Nyota remembered slaughtering the green-bloods who had created the substance, from decalithium deposits, in the hopes of reviving a unified Vulcanoid empire. Shelby had led several starships into the Epsilon Legato system, the last holdout of the rebels.

    Shelby had personally shot the last Vulcan before she could trigger the red matter. Once the large red ball had been secured in Alexander’s hold, the captain had ordered Dryer to destroy their comrades. She hadn’t wanted to obey the order, she hadn’t wanted to shed Terran blood. That day she did what she was told, but it had created a schism in her that sometimes the goals of her captain and those of the empire were not aligned.

    That was further compounded by Dryer acceding to Shelby’s demand for secrecy over the red matter. She had respected his orders. The man had brought various scientists, many of green-blood extraction, in an attempt to comprehend the strange substance and also how to weaponize it.

    He had used the guise of fostering greater understanding between the Romulans and the empire to hide his true intent. Tarses’s presence, and his rank, aboard Alexander, had been an affront, but a useful one to allow Shelby greater entrée with the green-bloods.

    Dryer was surprised that the perceptive Hudson hadn’t uncovered that the science labs sealed off supposedly for Dr. Giger’s medical ‘research’ really housed a team of scientists and weapons specialists developing the red matter. Murakawa knew the truth, but Dryer supposed that the crafty woman had been keeping that information from Hudson for her own benefit.

    The captain tapped her companel. “Doctor,” she sneered at the title, “Sonara,” she called.

    “Captain Dryer,” the Romulan was prompt. Nyota frowned. How did the woman, who was supposedly cut off from the rest of the crew, know there had been a change at the top? Once the battle was won she would find out if the green-bloods had circumvented her security measures, and then find an appropriate scapegoat.

    Of course, she couldn’t show any surprise, to the Romulan, or her crew, that the alien knew something she wasn’t supposed to. “Ready the red matter,” Dryer ordered.

    This time the Romulan wasn’t so prompt. “Sonara,” Dryer repeated.

    “Uh, Captain Dryer.” The captain sniffed as if she smelled something bad at the new speaker.

    “I was speaking to Doctor Sonara, Frobisher,” Nyota said, nearly spitting the reprobate’s name. If the man’s talent for making weapons wasn’t so renowned across the empire, his taste for alien flesh would’ve long ago earned him a permanent date with the void.

    It was telling that she would rather speak to an alien than a Terran, but Wellington Frobisher, but human hardly qualified for him.

    “Of course, of course you were captain,” the man said with practiced ease. Nyota’s skin crawled. She couldn’t wait to chuck him into the nearest agony booth. “But we are currently running tests and Dr. Sonara was needed for that.”

    “She’s needed for whatever I decide!” Dryer huffed. She realized she was making a scene, and quickly reined in her ire. Still, she couldn’t help but sigh before continuing, “Is the red matter weapon ready?”

    “Ah, about that…” Frobisher began.

    “Don’t test my patience,” Dryer said through clenched teeth.

    “I was only going to caution you about the unpredictably…” Frobisher started.

    “Prepare the weapon,” the captain cut him off.

    “Captain,” Frobisher was really testing her. “We haven’t even completed our testing yet. We don’t know…”

    “There’s no time like the present,” she barked. “Standby to transport the red matter torpedo to the forward torpedo bay.”

    “This could all go catastrophically wrong,” Frobisher said.

    “Perhaps you don’t realize we are in the middle of Alliance space, slugging it out against a Klingon battlecruiser,” Dryer riposted. “It can’t get much worse. But once we show the power at our command, we will either slag that crinkle-head ship or make them run with their tails between their legs, to spread news of our victory, and more importantly, of our super weapon!”

    “If we are not far enough away,” Frobisher didn’t know when to be quiet.

    “I have a lot more faith in Ensign Auguste than I do in you, Miradorn-lover,” Dryer said. “If you say one more word, if you even breath hard enough for me to hear, you will not like my reaction.” The answering silence was reassuring.

    Dryer chuckled. This captain thing was easier than she thought.

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

    ISS Travis Mayweather


    “Sir, should we engage the Klingons or the Alexander?” First Officer Woods inquired. Things were spinning out of control. What had begun as a simple chase of the retreating Klingon shuttle, with Shelby and her equally

    “Weathers can’t even grab Shelby’s Klingon scow with a tractor beam!” Braener snarled. Standing at the prow of the bridge, he turned around quickly, pinioning the hapless woman at the tactical station. “Weathers, you’re relieved!” The woman looked up, her expression crestfallen. She began to protest, but Braener waved it away. He looked to one of the guards at the turbolift. “Stiles, take her place, and you better not disappoint me.” Shoreham, the other guard, remained at attention.

    “Aye sir,” Stiles saluted before rushing over to the tactical station. To his credit, he almost threw the slowly moving Weathers out of the seat.

    “And Weathers,” Braener said, stopping the woman as she made her way to take Stiles place by the door. “You have a date with an agony booth.”

    “If I may,” Biraka spoke up. Braener didn’t like the interruption, but he nodded tightly for the man to continue. The inquisitor’s eyes twinkled with an infernal light. “It has been a long time since Security Officer Weathers and I have had a…session. I, for one, have been looking forward to another.”

    The woman visibly paled at that. Braener smiled. “That works for me. She’s all yours Inquisitor.”

    “I thank you,” Bennington gave a short bow before hefting from his seat. He grabbed the woman by the arm and she knew it was futile to resist. Braener was glad to have them both off the bridge. Weathers sudden incompetence infuriated him, but also made him concerned that the woman was acting out of a misguided loyalty to Shelby, and that made him wonder how many other closest Shelby loyalists were still among the crew. As for Bennington, the inquisitor just gave him the creeps.

    “Your orders sir?” Stiles asked. Braener sighed. Shouldn’t he have anticipated his superior’s mind?

    “Lock on a tractor beam to that Klingon shuttle and reel it back to us.”

    “Aye sir,” the man began the job of trying not to fail as Weathers had done.

    “Captain, what about the Klingons and the Alexander?” Woods asked again.

    Braener looked back at the screen. The two ships were locked in a deadly dance. “If we’re lucky they’ll both destroy each other,” he answered. “Our primary concern is Shelby. She won’t make a fool out of me…us, ever again!”

    *********************************************************************
     
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  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***************************************************************************************
    ISS Travis Mayweather



    Inquisitor Biraka huffed as he rushed to catch up with Weathers. Thankfully, he didn’t have to exert too much effort since the woman wasn’t hurrying to go to his quarters. The security officer knew that her chances of leaving his quarters, mentally intact, were precarious.

    “Security Officer Weathers,” Biraka called. The woman tensed before turning around slowly.

    “Inquisitor,” she said, her eyes hooded. She flexed her arms, wisely preparing for a fight.

    “You’re headed in the wrong direction,” the man said. He smiled at her confused expression. He explained, “You’re accompanying me to the Armory.”

    She frowned. “I-I don’t understand.”

    “I don’t need you to,” Biraka smiled, but his tone was serious. “All I need you to do is comply.”

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

    ISS Travis Mayweather

    Armory


    Nurse Temple looked up quickly from an open locker, her hand literally in the proverbial cookie jar. Biraka smiled, “I’m glad the coma was short in duration.”

    The woman didn’t acknowledge the inquisitor’s greeting. “There isn’t much time,” she said as she tossed a phaser rifle at Biraka. He easily grabbed it out of the air. Weathers did likewise, but not so smoothly. “The time table has moved up.”

    “Yes,” Biraka said. “It can’t be helped. Braener is cracking up. A change in the center chair is needed.”

    “You, sir?” Weathers asked, before her face blushed scarlet, and she bit down on her lip.

    “No,” the inquisitor said gently, “I never desired command. We need Shelby back.”

    “If you secure the bridge, I’ll get the captain back,” Temple promised. Weathers grunted, her expression incredulous again.

    You? But you’re just a nurse.”

    Temple tilted her head at that, as if a second head had just grown out of the security officer’s neck. “Karla, Nurse Temple is much more than she appears,” Biraka explained. “Show her.”

    Temple’s entire body wavered, her face, her hair, her skin, even her uniform dissolving into a gelatinous orangish-gold mass before resolving into an olive-skinned woman, with very dark eyes. “Security Officer Weathers, meet Stadi, formerly of Betazed,” Biraka said.

    “Not quite from Betazed,” Stadi gave a slight smile. Weathers gasped and took a step backward. She raised her weapon.

    “Hold on Weathers!” Biraka barked. “She’s an ally.”

    “What-what are you?” Weathers pointed the rifle at Stadi and then at Biraka. “Inquisitor, what have you pulled me into?”

    “I am a Changeling,” Stadi said. “Not native to this quadrant.”

    “A survivor of the Vorta Imperium,” Biraka added, “A civilization more brutal than even the Alliance.”

    “How do you know of our history?” Stadi asked the inquisitor.

    “You aren’t the only one looking for Changeling survivors. We knew of the shapeshifter on Terok Nor,” the inquisitor replied.

    “We?” Weathers asked. Biraka merely smirked.

    Stadi shook her head. “He was murdered before I could reach him. He died, thinking he was alone.”

    “If you’re not Nurse Temple, where is she?” Weathers demanded. Biraka was impressed that the woman was attempting to gain control of the discussion, bringing it to a level she could comprehend.

    “My apologies, but the nurse had to be sacrificed. It was her ashes, mixed with some of my enzymes, that fooled your security guards.” Stadi said. “And with me assuming Temple’s guise I could manipulate the autopsy.”

    “My God,” Weathers gasped.

    “It was necessary,” Biraka put on his best soothing tone. “Just like what happens next is necessary.”

    “What do you mean?” The security guard asked.

    “You will accompany Stadi to the Shuttle Bay,” the inquisitor said.

    “What about you?” Weathers inquired. Biraka looked at the Changeling.

    “I’ve been busy since my ‘awakening’,” Stadi replied. “We had to accelerate, but a great deal is in place.”

    Biraka shrugged, “I can improvise the rest.”

    “You’re not leaving with us?” Weathers asked.

    The man smiled kindly. “No, Karla. I must remain here, so that you and Captain Shelby will have a ship to return to. I have to excise that pimple Braener first.” He held the phaser rifle aloft and adjusted the setting to kill.

    *********************************************************************
     
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  16. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2016
    I GUESSED IT. I GUESSED CORRECTLY!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
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  17. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Cool. What gave it away? I couldn't do a Mirror Universe story set around DS9/Terok Nor and not bring in Mirror Changelings at some point.

    The Vorta Imperium is a nod to fellow UT writer Brother Benny's ST: Pytheas Mirror Universe story, "Fragments of Control". I can't say that "Hearts of Glass" fits within the same Mirror Universe as Benny's story, and as I've been writing, not sure if fits even within the MU story from TheLoneRedshirt, or even the snippets of the Mirror Universe in my stories "The Crucible" and "Conspirata." Right now, I think "Hearts" fits within those stories, if you don't look too hard (except "Conspirata" where Haas and Chakotay lived, and they've long been killed off in "Hearts").

    Frobisher and Sonara are my nods to CeJay's Star Eagle Adventures series. Frobisher has to be the premier mad scientist of the UT, so if anyone was working on red matter it had to be him. I also thought Sonara, mother of So'Dan Leva, would work here as well as a Romulan scientist. I didn't want to use the Eagle main characters, and even with Frobisher, I named him Wellington instead of Westren. Not sure if the Mirror Frobisher is the same as the Prime Frobisher, and just named differently, as I've got Mirror Glover as Terrence Sejanus Glover compared to the Prime Glover, Terrence Shamshuni Glover, it could be a situation like that. (Like how I created Mirror siblings for DF's Denise Murakawa and also for Terrence, with Octavia and Septimius.) But I leave the Prime Universe fate of "Wellington" Frobisher up to CeJay.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
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  18. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2016
    @DarKush
    Here are the passages that gave it away:
     
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  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Very cool. I'm glad you waited to see if it would come to pass, and also that you anticipated that I wasn't done with Stadi.

    I don't even remember the goo line, maybe that was my subconscious at work. I also mentioned Stadi's 'remains' having morphogenic enzymes (courtesy of Memory Alpha), which are part of the Changeling genetic makeup:

    “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.
     
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  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    IKS Vi’chak


    “If we don’t destroy or disable that Excelsior, we’re going to be sandwiched between two Terran warships,” Nandali said through glittering, clenched teeth.

    “That frigate seems more concerned with capturing the So’Taj shuttle,” Garak said, his curiosity piqued at the thought. Admiral Kojo’s laughter at the death match they were in boomed louder than each blow from the Imperial conquest vessel.

    “Cry havoc!” Kojo roared. “If I wasn’t enjoying this so much Bregath, Son of Forba, I would’ve fed you to my targs for not dispensing with our enemies already!” In his battle frenzy, the wizened admiral had forgotten about the shuttle. Garak hadn’t. There was something of value on it, something that he wanted to claim for himself.

    He angled the ship away from the oncoming Excelsior. “Son of Tain, what are you doing?!” Kojo demanded.

    “Diverting power to aft shields!” Meraht announced. Even the nimble engineer wasn’t quick enough to avoid a volley slamming into the back of the ship. Ripples of energy spread through various bridge consoles, and even crackled between the deck plates. Garak felt his hairs standing on end as several terminals blew up, often in the faces of the warriors manning them. Others melted, coating their hapless tenders. The joyous cheering and singing quickly was replaced with growls of pain and harrowing death howls.

    Garak was yanked from his chair, with such force as if a tractor beam had been attached to him. He fell just shy of the slavering jaws of one of the targs, who strained against its collar with ravenous madness. The Cardassian shrank back from the frothing beast. To his misfortunate he bumped against an even more dangerous one. A large, horned boot smashed against his ribs, and would’ve torn a chunk out of him if not for his armor chest plate.

    Clutching his side, while searching for his disruptor with his free hand, Garak looked up into the rage-contorted face of Kojo. “Honorable warriors do not run!” He snarled. Long strands of white hair whipped about his face, making him appeared even more crazed.

    “That’s not what I was doing milord,” Garak spoke quickly as he scuttled backward, trying to get away from the man’s boots. “The-the shuttle. The So’Taj operatives. I-I was trying to get to them…before the other Imperial ship did.”

    Kojo staggered after him. “Is that so?”

    “Of course, of course,” Garak said. “I-why I would never dream of denying a stout-hearted warrior, the Scourge of Ganalda IV, the…”

    “Silence Cardassian!” Kojo’s thick spittle pelted his face. The large man doubled over and then hit the deck like a fallen tree. Garak scrambled just in time to avoid being pinned beneath him. Garak wiped some of a thick gob of saliva from his face and held it to his nose. The heavy odor of blood assaulted his nostrils.

    “Thought Admiral!” Nandali cried. The woman forgot her post as she ran to attend him. It was then that Garak saw a shard of metal jutting from the man’s side. Copious blood was spreading fast across the deck.

    The Kriosian cradled the wheezing admiral’s head. Another warrior had taken the helm. Garak crawled to his station. He used his chair to pull himself up and he slid into it. Behind him he heard Nandali sobbing, a sound more terrible than he could’ve imagined.

    The ship rattled again. “Keep us in one-piece Spoonhead!” Bregath barked. The muscular warrior was already assuming command. Garak suspected that Meraht would have other ideas in mind.

    “Captain Bregath,” the whip-smart Kaemon shouted, “There are unusual isotope readings, coming from the Terran warship.”

    “Which one?” Meraht cut in, drawing a curse from Bregath.

    “The Excelsior,” Kaemon said, his tone questioning. “I-I’m reading…decalithium.”

    “That makes no sense,” Meraht said. Bregath growled but offered nothing more for input. “Is the ship spewing decalithium as a result of the battle? Terran vessels are known to be powered by dilithium still.”

    “A weapon perhaps?” Bregath seemed excited at the prospect, even if it meant their doom. The warrior was that committed to bloody vocation.

    “More like they were storing decalithium in a part of the ship that where we destroyed their hull,” the science officer suggested.

    “Or, it’s an experimental drive,” Meraht proposed, even more eagerly than Bregath had been. For her, it appeared that the engineer in her overrode even her martial nature.

    “Ha, the PetaQ are attempting to retreat!” Bregath crowed. “There will be no escape today!”

    Garak coughed loudly before offering, “Perhaps we should give them false hope of escape, to make their doom all the sweeter.”

    Bregath’s eyes narrowed. “And why would we do that, Cardassian?”

    “We secure the So’Taj shuttle first, and that will give our enemies the illusion that escape is possible, and with the shuttle in the hold, we swing around and pounce on them like a jadashha.”

    “Ha,” Bregath nodded with satisfaction. “Finally, you speak with sense Cardassian. You might become worthy to die at my side just yet.”

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

    Shuttle Delahaye


    Terrence zigzagged, pleased to hear Bashir grunting with displeasure. Glover hadn’t felt this alive since the first time he had stolen away with Jasmine, in the Sato Gardens, during last year’s raucous coronation at the Imperial Palace.

    It was funny that he thought about Jasmine, of all people now, when his wife, ex-wife, was at his side again, the woman who carried his child, his heir, and the likely heir to his family’s fortunes. But he couldn’t deny he missed Jasmine’s rich dark skin, her caramel eyes, her succulent lips, and even her cutting tongue. Perhaps he could have both women.

    Glover did a barrel roll, not because he needed to, but mainly to see if he could get Bashir to spew whatever was in his stomach. Shelby, clutching the edge of her console for dear life, hit him with a disapproving look. The woman knew him too well. He smirked.

    “Couldn’t be helped,” he said for the others. Liz merely pursed her lips but didn’t expose his secret.

    “It appears the Klingons have forgotten about us,” Dax offered, with forced hope.

    “They are merely preoccupied at the moment,” Solok dryly pointed out.

    “If the rest of the Terran fleet fought like that ship out there, maybe you wouldn’t have been conquered,” Bashir opined.

    Glover boiled at that. “We weren’t conquered, you were,” he retorted.

    “Certainly, it says something about the great might of the Terran Empire if it can’t protect all Terrans, or even leave the confines imposed by the Alliance!” Bashir shot back. Dax sighed audibly.

    “We’re here now, aren’t we?” Glover replied. “And you will thank me later for saving your ass, or I will beat the gratitude out of you!”

    “I would like to see you try,” Bashir returned fire.

    “Julian,” Dax chided.

    “Terrence,” Shelby placed a hand on his wrist. He jerked away from her.

    “I don’t need to be cradled like some infant,” he said. “It would take a lot more than a pirate to rattle me.”

    “I’m a freedom fighter,” Bashir sniffed. “We’re fighting to free millions.”

    “Terrans, and others who have been crushed beneath the heel of the Alliance,” Dax added.

    “Freedom is an illusion,” Glover replied dismissively. “There is only power and powerlessness; those with power have the freedom to do to those who have none, whatever they wish. Imperial Terrans understand this, but it appears our lesser brethren have not.”

    “You live under the lash, you gain a new perspective,” Bashir said.

    I would never live under anyone’s lash,” Glover replied.

    “Tell that to your Emperor,” Bashir was quick. Terrence boiled again. But he couldn’t refute the man’s come back.

    “If you stood before the Emperor you wouldn’t be so snarky,” was all Glover could manage. “That I assure you.”

    “He can’t be worse than the Alliance’s Regent,” Bashir replied.

    “Or the Legates, Overseers, and Intendents under him for that matter,” Dax added.

    “All a bunch of little dictators, drunk on power,” Bashir declared, his words more for the Trill than the rest of them. “We’re going to change all of that.”

    “I hope so,” Dax said. “Though it would be great to get some help from the Terrans or the Romulans.”

    “Unfortunately, I can’t speak for the Senate,” Solok replied. “The Republic has trod a neutral path between the Alliance and the Empire. Many of the Romulans have influenced their Vulcan kin to adopt the ways of peace and squelch the cold fires in their hearts.”

    “Then why are you here, and working with the rebellion no less?” Bashir challenged. Glover had to admit, it was a good question.

    “The Romulans strive for pacifism, but they are not foolish enough to turn their backs to the Alliance. That is why they sent Solok.” The shapeshifter replied.

    “Why are referring to yourself in the third person?” The Trill asked.

    “Alas,” the Vendorian sighed. “I have not been completely forthcoming. The Romulans did send a Solok, but I replaced him before he reached Alliance space.”

    “What?” Bashir was surprised.

    “Could you hold the confessional until after we’re out of the Badlands?” Glover replied. “I don’t care who sent you or why. That’s your problem or that pitiful excuse for the rebellion you’re supposed to be part of.”

    “I wish it were that simple,” Solok said, his tone flecked with regret.

    “Another shuttle has left the Mayweather!” Pollard yelped. “And it’s heading straight for us!”

    “Time to go home,” Solok’s voice was soft, but solemn.

    “What?” Bashir huffed. An intense light suffused the shuttle, forcing Glover to close his eyes. Still blinking, he saw fading sparkles and two passengers missing. The seat where the Vendorian had been sitting was missing.

    Home?,” Bashir was shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. “What did he mean by that?”

    Terrence’s heart sank as he sensed an absence. He looked to his side and saw wisps where Shelby had been.

    “They’ve both been transported,” Dax’s face was a nest of concern.

    “Oh no!” Pollard hopped from her seat. She stomped into the aft section of the shuttle. It didn’t take her long to pound her way back into the cockpit. “The multidimensional transporter,” she replied. “It’s gone!”

    “Damn,” Glover said. Just what the hell was going on here! Out of the viewport, the shuttle warped, even in the midst of the plasma maelstrom. For a brief moment, Terrence’s heart stopped, fear overtaking him that the maneuver would atomize the small vessel, but then it elongated as the warp effect took hold, and then disappeared.

    “Terrence, we’ve got worse problems,” Dax said, swallowing hard. It was then that Glover saw the shadow fall over the cockpit and he felt a chill in his bones. The shuttle stopped, like it had been stopped by a gigantic green hand.

    He looked up and saw the green tractor beam from the Klingon battlecruiser, pulling them into the reddish maw of a great beast. Glover had taken his eye off the ball, distracted by that damnable shapeshifter. If you couldn’t trust a man who could change his face, who could you trust, he wondered.

    It was a joke he knew Liz would’ve appreciated, but she wasn’t here. Solok had taken her. The fake Vulcan had stolen his child, his heir, his legacy.

    Terrence snarled, “More power to the engines. We’re going to break free of that tractor beam!”

    “No, you can’t!” Dax replied, as the shuttle began bucking. “You’ll tear us apart!”

    “I’m not allowing that Vendorian bastard to escape! Not with Shelby, not with my child!” Glover said.

    “Believe me, I’m going to enjoy this less than I would’ve a few minutes ago,” Bashir said.

    “What?” Glover turned to glare at the man.

    Bashir leaned forward, hunching his shoulders, his look conspiratorial. “I have an idea,” the pirate began.


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