UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 8 cont'd)

    Chapter Eight
    <cont'd>​

    USS Europa
    Main Engineering


    Lar’ragos looked down from atop the catwalk, standing overhead above the new, exotic looking transwarp engine core. The next iteration of Sandhurst’s original design had been brought to life by Zeischt and Lieutenant Ashok. The former Starfleet officer now claimed to be in possession of his full ‘Amon faculties’, no longer hindered by Sandhurst’s human limitations, or so he’d seemed to imply.

    The El Aurian had always envied Sandhurst and his ilk, those with the seemingly magical ability to create and innovate. As someone whose specialties leaned more towards destruction and entropy, a part of him yearned to be leave something behind more concrete than the loss and bitterness that had so often been his due as a soldier.

    Now Zeischt was working closely with Ashok, completing the final tests on this supposedly more reliable transwarp drive. Lar’ragos mused that ironically, Ashok and his former captain meshed better now than ever they had as Starfleet colleagues. The Bolian no longer felt overshadowed by Zeischt, and his fragile ego didn’t imped their collaborative effort as it would have before.

    The Amon warrior glanced upward, seeming to sense Pava’s presence, and gestured to him to remain there.

    “Status of the transwarp matrix?” Lar’ragos queried a moment later as Zeischt stepped off the ‘lift platform that brought him to the upper level.

    “Nearly ready for trials,” Zeischt replied. “As we’ve discussed, this transwarp configuration will work in tandem with your existing warp system, giving you the benefit of both.”

    “You’re confident Ashok will be able to maintain the system in your absence?” Lar’ragos intended to avoid the confusion and frustration created by Zeischt’s last disappearance from the ship. He would be damned if the ship’s propulsion systems were entirely reliant upon the mercurial Amon.

    Zeischt held up a padd that displayed scrolling blueprints. “I have instructed him at length and provided detailed schematics, as well as a fully interactive holodeck program that he can query.”

    “Good to know.”

    “I would discuss Ramirez with you,” Zeischt added, sounding uneasy. It was so unlike this new version of the man to exude any kind of discomfort that Lar’ragos raised an eyebrow at the statement.

    “Ramirez isn’t the issue at hand,” Lar’ragos answered matter-of-factly. “She’s a side-show, a distraction. I’m sure you’ll agree we have larger matters to worry about.”

    “And yet,” Zeischt pressed, “I am driven to ask if there’s been any word of her or her ship?”

    Lar’ragos cocked his head, stepping closer to Zeischt, who now stood nearly twenty-five centimeters taller than Pava following his metaphysical Amon transformation. “The Baron forged Ramirez into a weapon of vengeance against Sandhurst. You yourself have assured me that Sandhurst is, for all intents and purposes, dead. What interest could you possibly have in her?”

    “She… torments me, Pava. I can’t explain exactly why.”

    “That’s Captain Lar’ragos to you,” Europa’s commander rejoined icily. “Sandhurst had the privilege of calling me by my given name. You do not.”

    Zeischt was visibly taken aback by that, before he regained his placid bearing. “My apologies if I gave offense, Captain. That wasn’t my intent.”

    “Apology accepted,” Lar’ragos allowed dryly. “Don’t concern yourself with Ms. Ramirez any longer, she’s not your problem. In the unlikely event that she shows up prior to our departure to the LMC, I will make it a point to release her from her torment.” He reached up a hand and touched a finger just below his cybernetic eye. “I owe her that, at least.”

    “I feel... responsible,” Zeischt protested. “She’s done so much harm, killed so many in her campaign to hurt Sand-- the man I was.”

    “Again, not your concern. Donald Sandhurst was the target, but he’s run away. Sold his soul to a species as malevolent as the Borg; infused himself with alien energies so that nothing and no one would ever be able to hurt him again.” Lar’ragos offered the merest hint of a smile as he turned and walked towards the corridor entrance. “I recognize the impulse, because I’ve run away before myself. But here I am, four-hundred years later, and I’m still me. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, and the crimes of which I’m guilty. Some days I hurt with every waking breath because of my past sins, but I’ve never run so far away that I turned myself into someone else entirely.”

    “I’ve seen the future,” Zeischt blurted suddenly, stopping Lar’ragos in his tracks.

    The El Aurian cast a look back over his shoulder. “What of it?”

    “All is fire,” Zeischt murmured stoically. “The closer we get to beginning this crusade against the Skorrah, the harder it becomes to see the future clearly. Too many potentialities, too many decisions made in the moment that can affect the outcome. I know this, though, many will die. A great many.”

    Lar’ragos gave a short, sardonic laugh in response. “Figured all that out on your own, did you?” He shook his head derisively as he stepped through the parting doors into the corridor beyond. “Fucking amateur.”

    * * *​

    USS Europa
    Deck 2 - Executive Officer’s Office


    “Thank you for meeting with me, Commander.” Counselor Liu seated himself a chair across from the executive officer’s desk at her prompting.

    “What can I do for you, Counselor?” Liu was up to her eyeballs in pre-mission preparations, but had taken the time to meet with Liu due to his position among the senior staff, and because as far as officers in general, and medical types in particular, Liu was low maintenance. Wu respected and appreciated that fact.

    “Realizing that this is the worst possible time to ask this, sir, I find it necessary nonetheless to request a transfer.”

    Liu’s eyes opened a fraction wider at that unexpected appeal. “A transfer where?” she asked guardedly.

    Valiant, sir,” Liu said, frowning in expectation of a sharp response.

    Wu’s expression shifted from curious to dubious. “And is Captain T’Ser aware of your transfer request?”

    “No, sir. I didn’t want to broach that subject with her until I’d cleared it with you and Captain Lar’ragos.”

    Wu sat forward, placing her elbows atop her desk. “May I ask the reason for this request?”

    “T’Ser and I are engaged, Commander. It was our intent to be married the next time Valiant and Europa were in the same sector together. This… unexpected detour to the Large Magellanic Cloud has upset those plans. Given T’Ser’s unfortunate history with her last fiance, I thought it best if I transfer to her command.”

    A slow nod was Wu’s only response for the moment it took to formulate her reply. “Is there a particular reason to believe your personal situation trumps the seriousness of our upcoming mission, and the welfare of Europa’s crew?”

    Liu blinked and cocked his head to one side. “Er… no, that wasn’t my consideration, sir. I thought we might swap counseling personnel with Valiant, if there was no objection from my counterpart there.”

    “Counselor,” Wu began patiently, “you are intimately familiar with this crew, their psychological profiles, and you’ve gained the trust of everyone aboard from the captain on down. With the dangers we face and the potential of our becoming stranded in the LMC, you’re needed now more than ever.”

    “I take your point, Commander,” Liu countered. “However, in a worst-case-scenario like that, the counselor in question would doubtless rise to the challenge, most especially if trapped in the LMC with the crew for a prolonged period.”

    “Lieutenant,” Wu addressed him by rank rather than function. “Everyone aboard has loved ones, most of which are back in the Alpha Quadrant. Simply because your betrothed happens to be a member of the task force doesn’t give you any higher priority in securing a ‘safer’ berth for yourself. We both know Valiant isn’t one of the ships tasked for the upcoming strike on the Skorrah.”

    Liu’s face colored in a sudden blush. “I’m not running away to safety for my own sake, if that’s what you’re implying, sir. I’m trying to spare the woman I love from losing another relationship on the cusp of marriage. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if she could take going through that again. She’s also in no position to ask for my transfer, given the circumstances and her rank.”

    “I understand your predicament, Counselor. Nevertheless, we need you, especially now.” Wu steepled her fingers together in front of her, leaning forward even further to convey sincerity. “And let me be perfectly candid, here, Lieutenant. Captain T’Ser knew the risks when the two of you became romantically involved. She’d already survived the worst-case scenario, and she made the conscious choice to roll the dice again.”

    “But Commander, I--”

    Wu held up a hand, and Liu fell silent, though obviously still smouldering.

    I need you here, Counselor. I’ve got our captain and what used to be Donald Sandhurst aboard the same ship, with all the bitterness and psychological baggage that entails. No other ship’s counselor, no matter how talented, has your in-depth understanding of both these men. Can you look me in the eye and tell me honestly that you think someone else shoehorned into your post at the last minute would be of any help to anyone where we’re going?”

    Liu managed to hold her gaze for a full five seconds before looking away. “No. Sir.”

    Wu sat back in her chair, giving Liu the physical and mental space he needed in that moment. “There’s more. There are things going on with the captain that I haven’t revealed to you yet. Things that concern me greatly. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I can’t do this alone.”

    Liu glanced out the viewport, eyes searching the void for a vessel he knew to be well beyond visual range.

    “Dao,” Wu said softly, addressing him by his first name for the first time since they’d met. “Please.”

    He reached up to rub his temples with the thumb and middle finger of one hand. “You’re right, of course, sir. I apologize.” Liu looked up at her, his eyes bright from tears that threatened to fall. “I’m a mental health professional, Commander, a supposed ‘expert’ in the workings of the humanoid conscious and subconscious minds."

    Liu stood, turning his back to Wu and walking over to gaze out the viewport. "Despite all that, when I fell in love with T’Ser, I did so selfishly because it’s what I wanted. I never gave any thought to how it might affect her to lose someone else in uniform, not until it was far too late to turn back. Suddenly, I was in the position of potentially harming the person I love... devastating her beyond imagining, and the guilt of that is tearing me apart.”

    “I’m sorry,” Wu offered, and she meant it. She stood and stepped out from behind the desk. "We're in real-time subspace transmission range of Valiant, Lieutenant. And I happen to know a captain who'd have no problem holding a wedding on the holodeck."

    * * *​
     
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh man, that famed Pava/Sandhurst relationship seems to be over for good. But perhaps not so for Zeisht. In fact he is showing quite a bit of connections to his old persona here, most notably with his concern for Ramirez and his role in making her what she has become. Of course no matter what she has done, it is difficult to blame Sandhurst for any of it.

    All this makes me think there is hope yet for Sandhurst.

    As for Ramirez, the way Pava seems certain of being able to handle her, me thinks she still has a big role to play here.

    Oh and I seem to have missed or forgotten about Liu and T'Ser. Don't recall they were an item. Very interesting.
     
  3. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    It would seem the friendship between Pava and Sandhurst/Zeisht is officially over. Captain Lar'ragos is now in full kick-ass mode and ready to lead the cannon fodder, er, fleet into battle against the Skorrah.

    Walk in the park. Not.

    Interesting conversation between Counselor Liu and Commander Wu. As the saying goes, Liu's heart and soul may belong to T'Ser but his ass belongs to Starfleet. To be fair, I believe that love rather than fear motivated his transfer request but Wu was right to reject it. Yes, T'Ser was devastated by Dale McBride's death but now she's older, wiser, and perhaps a bit tougher than when she served as Ops Manager on the Bluefin. I've no doubt she's fully aware of the risks that everyone in Task Force Vanguard faces.
     
  4. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I wouldn't mind seeing some adventures with Captain T'Ser.
     
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 8 cont'd)

    Chapter Eight
    <cont'd>​

    USS Europa
    Captain’s Quarters


    “You’re stable,” the LMH confirmed. “Given the circumstances, that’s the best that can be said.” The hologram snapped shut its medical tricorder and replaced the scanning diode in its base.

    Lar’ragos pulled his command-red shirt on, cocking his head to one side as he adjusted the garment’s collar. “That’ll have to do, I suppose.” Lar’ragos replied. “How long?” he asked guardedly.

    The LMH shrugged. “Since we’re not playing with known variables, I wouldn’t dare hazard a guess. You’ll be stable until you’re not, and whether the suppressant will work again is equally uncertain.”

    Lar’ragos deadpanned, “Well, you’ve been a tremendous help.”

    “If I recall correctly,” the hologram parried, “I advised against this. Don’t start whining now because of a little uncertainty.”

    Touché, Doctor,” Lar’ragos dipped his head, acknowledging his symbolic surrender to the hologram’s superior logic.

    The LMH handed the medical tricorder back to Lar’ragos. “Will there be anything else, Captain?”

    “No, thank you. You can go. I’ll encrypt your memory from here.”

    And with that the LMH vanished, leaving Lar’ragos seated atop the bed in his quarters. He stood wearily, replaced the medical tricorder in a nightstand drawer and paced across the cabin to take a seat at his desk. He activated the interface terminal atop it. A series of commands shunted the LMH’s memory files of the past twenty minutes into a protected substrate of his personally encoded command database. There would be no official record of his examination, or that the hologram had even been in his quarters.

    Next Lar’ragos keyed in a lengthy encryption algorithm into the comms system, opening highly coded channel. “I have an update,” he announced.

    “Go ahead,” a distorted voice of indeterminate gender answered after a moment’s pause.

    “My status is unchanged, and per the doctor I should be good until we’ve reached our target.”

    “Good news,” the voice replied. “However, we need to reduce the number of these conferences. The threat of discovery is growing too great.”

    “Understood, though to be honest, I’m surprised we haven’t already been found out.” Lar’ragos acknowledged.

    “If we’d been discovered, we’d already be dead,” the voice offered.

    Lar’ragos cocked his head as if conceding the point. “There is that.” He stood and moved to a nearby table, reaching for an unopened bottle of Enolian spice wine that Sandhurst had given him when Lar’ragos had come aboard Gibraltar as his Tactical officer three years ago. Twenty years earlier, Lar’ragos had mentioned to Sandhurst that the potent Enolian beverage was the closest thing he’d found to his favorite El Aurian drink of his youth.

    He opened the bottle, pouring himself a glass of the bracing spirit. Lar’ragos figured that he’d ought to at least try it, seeing as he could well be dead in the coming hours or days, along with a great many others. “Any word from the Skorrah?” he asked before taking a sip from the glass. “Zeischt still hasn’t told us how he plans to convince them to open a portal to Shul’Nazhar.

    “He’s playing that very close to his chest. Aside from the Congress of Elders and Nestrala, I doubt anyone else knows.”

    Lar’ragos took another, longer drink of the spice wine, the vapors warming his sinuses in a pleasant way that he vaguely remembered from his carefree youth. “Here’s hoping I didn’t throw this party for nothing. Otherwise I’m going to look like a colossal fool, and I’ll have undermined Admiral T’Cirya’s credibility with Command in the process. And gods know the Klingons are impatient enough about this whole thing as is.”

    “Trouble with junior?” the voice asked, this time despite the digitalization of the voice, the mocking tone was unmistakable.

    He actually laughed aloud at that. “Why am I not surprised that you know about that? And yes, Gan’Louk is experiencing pressure from his subordinate commanders to hurry up this mission, or to seize command of the battle group.”

    “He strikes me as being able to hold his own,”
    the voice assessed.

    “No worries on that account,” Lar’ragos agreed. “But anxious Klingons are not recipe for prolonged calm.”

    “Your point?”


    “Sooner would be better.”

    There was a pause, followed by a reluctant, “I’ll see what I can do.”

    “It would be appreciated.” Lar’ragos held the glass up to the light, admiring the color and body of the wine as he swirled it around in the glass. “Tell me, if Zeischt can see the future as he claims, how come he hasn’t intuited what we’re doing here?”

    “I don’t know,”
    the voice replied. “Perhaps he has, and he’s waiting to spring some kind of trap before we can execute our plan.”

    “Or maybe he has, and he doesn’t care,” Lar’ragos countered.

    “Speculation is pointless. It will work, or it won’t. We’ll destroy the station, or we won’t.”

    He raised his glass in a mock toast, “Victory is life,” he quoted the Jem’Hadar.

    “Fatalism,” the voice gave a digitized chuckle, “it suits you.”

    * * *​

    Lar’ragos was seated in the central chair of the now rarely used Taskforce Operations Center. The TOC had originally been the control hub for their intercept group’s operations, planning and cultural assessment of the incoming refugee species.

    Now the compartment functioned as a Combat Information Center. It would be the command and control node for the disparate fleet of Amon, Klingon, and Federation vessels that would soon be laying siege to the Skorrah.

    Wu would command Europa from the main bridge, while Lar’ragos coordinated the actions of the entire battle-group from the CIC. Tactical plot maps on both standard viewscreens as well as three-dimensional holograms littered the compartment, awarding Lar’ragos of a god’s-eye view of the nearby battlespace.

    The central dais that had supported four workstations had been replaced by a single command chair, ringed by a circular interface panel supporting a host of command and control functions. On the next tier down, two chairs faced the primary trio of forward viewscreens. Seated there was Verrik, now serving as the battle-group Tactical Coordination Officer. Next to him was Pell Ojana, on hand should there be an unlikely outbreak of diplomacy.

    Their eclectic battle group was standing by, divided into smaller combat wings maximizing the complimentary weapons capabilities of the Starfleet and Klingon vessels.

    Lar’ragos toggled the comms, opening a private channel to Zeischt aboard the Amon cube. “We’re all ready to go over here. What’s your status?”

    “We’ve opened a channel to the Skorrah, utilizing our shared comms architecture. We’ve informed them that despite their unprovoked attack on us, we’re willing to parlay with them, in the interests of peace.”

    “And?” Lar’ragos reflected with annoyance that Zeischt seemed to share Sandhurst’s irritating habit of encouraging others to draw information out of him, rather than offering it upfront.

    “Strangely enough, they acknowledged our signal and opened communications with us. The conversation has been… stilted, but it appears they are asking for our help.”

    Lar’ragos shared a concerned look with Pell and Verrik, both of whom glanced back towards him in response to Zeischt’s pronouncement.

    “This isn’t a rescue operation,” Lar’ragos reminded their mercurial ally. “We’d all do well to remember that.”

    “The Skorrah implied something is very wrong with them, collectively speaking. It may have something to do with why they attacked us in the first place.”

    “Aside from possibly being advantageous to us,” Lar’ragos said carefully, “I don’t see how this information would impact our mission profile.”

    There was a pregnant pause before Zeischt replied, “No, of course. You’re correct. They will be opening a transit portal momentarily. I suggest you draw your ships back at least another ten-thousand kilometers, in case this is a ruse and the Skorrah intend to bombard us through the portal aperture.”

    Verrik reached out to mute the comms on their end, before observing, “Captain, this may be an attempt by the Amon to take their cube through to the LMC while stranding the rest of our battle-group here. To use a human aphorism, Zeischt may be experiencing ‘cold feet.’”

    The El Aurian’s eyes narrowed. “Noted, Lieutenant. Please re-open the channel.” Verrik did so, and Lar’ragos replied to Zeischt, “Understood, Transcendent. However, we’re willing to take that chance. I’d rather not risk upsetting our group’s assault configuration this close to jump-off.”

    “As you wish,” Zeischt replied noncommittally. “Stand ready. Aperture formation in… ten seconds.”

    Lar’ragos toggled the battle-group comms circuit to the assorted starships and Klingon warships. “Ten seconds; reinforce forward shields and stand-by weapons.”

    Shanthi’s voice was piped in from the bridge’s science station, “Reading spatial distortion, five-thousand meters at bearing zero-eight-five, mark zero-two-three.”

    “Launch probe,” Lar’ragos ordered, triggering the dispatch of a specially-rigged reconnaissance probe from Europa’s forward torpedo tube. A searing-white tear appeared in the fabric of space/time, spitting distance from the forward facet of the Amon cube and the Starfleet and Klingon ships that sheltered behind its gargantuan mass.

    The probe vanished into the transit portal.

    “Receiving telemetry,” Shanthi updated from the bridge. “Sharing sensor data and visuals to the battle-group TacNet.”

    The main viewer in CIC flickered, the image steadying after a second, prompting a chorus of gasps and muttered curses from personnel throughout the compartment.

    Shul’Nazhar stood there in all its harrowing glory. A colossal semi-helical structure, measuring over one-hundred kilometers in diameter at its widest point, the object dwarfed anything in Starfleet’s two-hundred-plus year experience. Its piecemeal construction over the eons had left the installation looking like something out of an M.C. Escher nightmare. Haphazard additions had accreted over time with no thought to maintaining a coherent symmetry or design aesthetic. The result was a twisted, elongated pin-wheel looking monstrosity that appeared to be spreading like an unchecked metallic cancer.

    “Transit portal reads as stable,”
    Shanthi concluded.

    Lar’ragos toggled the intra-fleet comms once more. “Operation Distant Shore is a go. All vessels, ahead one-quarter impulse. All wings, maintain station behind the cube until we can ascertain the defensive posture of the station.”

    The Amon cube thrust forward, surprisingly nimble for such a large vessel, followed closely by the others. They pierced the event horizon of the brilliant aperture, and just like that they were in another galaxy, one-hundred and fifty-thousand light years from home.

    His knuckles burning, Lar’ragos glanced down to realize he’d been gripping the armrests of his seat so tightly that his hands were bone white and trembling. He forced himself to relax and keyed a channel open to Europa’s bridge. “Commander, you have the conn. Fight the ship as necessary; Verrik will forward any subsequent instructions from CIC. As we’ve discussed, all Alpha Weapon deployments must be cleared through me.”

    Wu’s reply of, “Acknowledged,” was expectedly terse.

    “All wings maintaining formation,” Verrik reported. “No indications of target acquisition on the part of the station, sir.”

    “Their defenses?” Lar’ragos prompted.

    “No signs of shields or active subspace fields,” Georgia Kirk answered. She was manning the sensor station in CIC, to avoid burdening Shanthi with responding to simultaneous queries from both Wu and Lar’ragos.

    “Other vessels?”

    “Negative,” Kirk answered. “No – wait… I’m reading three inbound craft just cresting the station’s midline, Captain.” She looked up briefly from her sensor display to fix her gaze on Lar’ragos. “Their shields are up, and weapons are armed.”

    “Transmit their coordinates and posture to the rest of the fleet,” Lar’ragos ordered. He called down to Verrik. “Order Wing Two to intercept those ships. Make certain they determine those are definitively Skorrah before taking any action.”

    He opened a channel to the battle-group. “Lar’ragos to Transcendent and Wings One and Four, move to unrestricted firing positions. Identify and target Shul’Nazhar’s weapons and defensive systems. Shield generators are a priority target. Try and minimize collateral damage wherever possible.”

    Lar’ragos stared at a nearly undecipherable schematic of the exotic station on a free-floating hologram in front of him. “Kirk, find me their command center. I’d prefer being as surgical about this as possible.”

    * * *​

    Amon Homeship Transcendent

    “I confirm those targeting priorities,” Zeischt announced from where he lay atop one of the ship’s contoured control couches. “Utilize the graviton cannon to neutralize their—“

    “Hold,” Nestrala called out, causing Zeischt to open his eyes and interrupting his meta-state. This momentarily severed his cerebral data-link with the modified Borg vinculum that the Amon used to collectively command their mighty vessel.

    Zeischt frowned at the interruption. “What is it?”

    “Our cousins have taken no hostile action,” Nestrala observed. “Earlier they begged for our help. Is it not possible that whatever afflicts them may have prompted their attacks on the Alpha Quadrant?”

    “Immaterial,” Zeischt answered, his words tinged with annoyance. “We have agreed on a joint course of action with the Federation and the Klingons. The time for debate is over. Now we act.”

    Nestrala turned to give a beseeching look to Warlord Jalahar, the senior member of the Amon Congress of Elders, and prior to Zeischt’s recent ascension, the leader of the tribe.

    “Warlord, what if this was all some terrible mistake brought about by circumstances beyond our cousins’ control? Perhaps their attack on us was accidental? Shall we strike down our kin, violating the most sacred tenant of our beliefs, without knowing the truth?”

    Jalahar looked from Nestrala to Zeischt, indecision evident on his features. “The BattleMaster’s words hold weight, Zeischt. If war between our tribes can be avoided, it should be.”

    “But our allies…” Zeischt protested.

    “Our allies do not command the Amon, nor may they determine the destiny of our people,” was Jalahar’s graveled retort.

    “The others have opened fire on Shul’Nazhar,” announced one of the reclined systems advocates.

    Zeischt rose to his feet and moved to stand before Jalahar and Nestrala. “This course of action was already agreed to! Our assault has begun!”

    “Tell our allies to stand down, and that for the moment our plans have changed,” Jalahar commanded.

    As another of the command coterie moved to convey Jalahar’s message, Zeischt shook his head. “They won’t listen, Warlord. What then?”

    * * *​

    A brilliant wave of phaser and disruptor fire flooded the space between the battle-group and the mighty structure, followed close behind by a wall of photon and quantum torpedoes. Explosions blossomed across the surface of Shul’Nazhar as weapons ports and shield emitters (or what passed for them in this galaxy) were savaged.

    “Damage assessment,” Lar’ragos ordered.

    Kirk compared the after-strike scans with those taken just before, noting areas of both success and failure. “They still haven’t raised shields and a number of targeted systems have been destroyed, but others seem largely unaffected, sir. It appears that differences in structural composition are the determining factor. Some of the station’s hull is comparable to our current tritanium or duranium alloys, while others are significantly more dense and damage resistant.”

    “Understood,” Lar’ragos replied. “Verrik, order Wing One to continue firing on the more vulnerable areas, while Wings Three and Four concentrate their fire on the more resistant structural areas.”

    Verrik’s acknowledgement of the order was cut off by Kirk’s observation. “Captain, the Amon still haven’t opened fire.”

    He pursed his lips unconsciously as his hand moved to open a frequency to the Amon cube.

    “Signal from Transcendent, sir,” alerted an officer at CIC’s communications station. “Warlord Jalahar is ordering the battle-group to cease fire until the Amon have determined the status of the Skorrah.”

    “The hell he says!” Lar’ragos blurted. He toggled the comms to the Amon ship. “Zeischt, what the hell is going on over there? This wasn’t the plan.”

    * * *​

    USS Hermes

    Commander Esmeralda Cavney leaned as far forward in her chair as her safety restraints would allow. “Well, I’ll be damned,” she muttered disbelievingly.

    On the main viewer, what could only be described as three improbably antiquated rocket-ships were needling towards her combat wing. The ships’ elongated octagonal bodies were a dark, coppery color, and were studded with various sensor blisters, antennae and what certainly appeared to be open weapons ports. A single large propulsion port at the aft end of each of the ships belched plasma fire into the void, thrusting the craft towards the intergalactic interlopers.

    “Ops, hail Captain Proton out there and make challenge,” Cavney instructed, eliciting a few chuckles from her bridge crew.

    “Challenge made, sir. No reply.”

    As confident as Cavney was in the prowess of her formidable Prometheus-class starship, a career of Starfleet indoctrination made her leery of simply opening fire on an unidentified vessel, especially one that hadn’t yet fired first.

    “Mister Adelbrand,” she called to her science officer, “are you picking up any life-signs from the—“

    A volley of green disruptor bolts flashed past on the main viewer, screaming downrange towards the oncoming ships. The Klingons, it seemed, had reached the limit of their patience.

    Cavney practically jackknifed upright in her seat, throwing her hands up in exasperation. “Oh, well… never mind. I guess we’re shooting now!”

    * * *​

    USS Europa
    Combat Information Center


    “Captain Lar’ragos,” came Zeischt’s voice over the comlink, the tension in his voice unmistakable. “Warlord Jalahar has assumed command of Transcendent in order to ascertain—“

    “I got the message the first time!” Lar’ragos growled, cutting him off mid-sentence. “This is the mission we all agreed on, Amon included. Now you’re suddenly claiming conscientious objector status?”

    “This was not my doing,” Zeischt answered simply.

    Lar’ragos released the restraints on his chair and stood. “I’m coming over there and we’re going to hash this out.”

    “Jalahar is instructing you to cease fire on Shul’Nazhar,” Zeischt pressed. “After you’ve done so, he may be willing to entertain an audience with you.”

    Lar’ragos’ voice took on a hard edge. “I don’t take orders from Jalahar.” He severed the comlink and then immediately opened another, this time to the starship Galaxy. “Lar’ragos to Captain Ebnal, it appears our stalwart Amon allies have just had a change of heart.”

    “Well, fuck,” Ebnal exclaimed without a hint of actual surprise. “How completely unexpected. What are you going to do about it?” he inquired pointedly.

    “I’m going over there to have a little Come-to-Kahless talk with our reluctant friends. In the meantime, you’re in charge of the battle-group. Maintain fire on the station’s defenses until the job’s done.”

    “Oh, goody,” Ebnal enthused dryly. “What if Brigadier Gan’Louk objects to your leaving me in command?”

    By this time, Lar’ragos had channeled the conversation through his combadge, and was well on his way to the nearest transporter room. “Then you tell the brigadier that once daddy is finished with the Amon, I'll be coming for him, too.”

    “Uh… “ Ebnal stammered in reply, speechless for quite possibly the first time ever.

    * * *​

    The incoming rocket-ships weathered the storm of Klingon disruptor blasts without significant damage, their hulls somehow refracting the concentrated energy of the attacks.

    One of the ships fired a bright yellow beam from the apex of what on an early human rocket would have been its nose-cone. The beam flared briefly against the forward shields of a Bird-of-Prey, before penetrating the scout’s deflectors to slice its port wing cleanly from its superstructure. The smaller ship yawed wildly to starboard, colliding with a D7 frigate whose shields had just been compromised by a beam from another of the rocket-type vessels. The Bird-of-Prey exploded against the long, graceful neck of the frigate, severing it cleanly.

    “That’s enough of that,” Cavney noted. “Open fire, phasers only.”

    Though seemingly impervious to disruptor fire, the alien vessels proved surprisingly vulnerable to Starfleet phaser beams. Hermes disgorged a hellish storm of phaser fire, exploding one of the rockets and crippling another with their opening salvo.

    “Let’s see how they like the taste of photon torpedoes,” Cavney remarked wryly as she savored drawing first blood. “Fire.”

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  6. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    Washington, OK
    So the poo hits the turbine.... Something tells me Ebnal is going to die a heroic death saving what's (by then) left of the fleet.... Could be wrong given all the twists. Loving it. Waiting for more!
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh, I forsee a lot more death and suffering before all this is over.

    But first, you've made Pava angry, and I don't think they will like him when he's angry. He has proven this before and, in fact, warned the Amon by holding over their head the prospect of unleasing terrible things. I wonder if it will come to that.

    Also, WTF is going on with Pava, anyway? What's the big plan and who is he working with? Looks like there might be yet another angle to this whole thing. Intriguing.
     
  8. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    The El-Aurian alpha weapon is ready to kick butt and take names. Reminds me of an old sci-fi franchise where the lead character said, "Don't make me angry . . . You wouldn't like it if I got angry."

    So who is Pava's mysterious collaborator? And what is the holo-doc pumping into Pava's system - Deuterium? Formula X? Raktajino? Liquid gamma rays?

    Whatever it is, it had the stunning effect of rendering Captain Ebnal speechless. :eek:
     
  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 8 cont'd)

    Chapter Eight
    <cont'd>​


    Lar’ragos headed for the shuttle bay, sending orders ahead to prep a shuttle for his use. On route, the transporter room confirmed that the massive subspace field the Amon utilized as shielding was still in place, preventing his beaming aboard the cube.

    He re-opened his comlink to Captain Ebnal aboard Venture. “Give me five minutes once I’m aboard to change their minds. If you don’t hear back from me after that, or if the Amon move to interfere with our attack on the station, use of Alpha Weapons against the Amon is authorized.”

    “May I remind you, Captain, that you’re leaving your post in the middle of the major offensive operation that you planned,” Ebnal replied acidly. “I vouched for you on this, Pava. This isn’t the time to go AWOL.”

    Lar’ragos strode into the shuttle bay as a flight officer stepped off the rear ramp of the shuttle Lisbon. “She’s warmed up, and pre-flight’s complete, Captain. You’re good to go.”

    He replied with a thumbs-up and then ascended the ramp and settled into the pilot’s seat. “Lucian, this is our only chance to avoid fighting both the Amon and the Skorrah. And let’s be honest, you’re far better qualified to lead a task force in battle than I am.”

    Ebnal harrumphed in reply. “Well, that’s true enough. Fine, try not to get yourself killed. You’ve grown on me, not unlike a fungus or a pernicious venereal disease.”

    Lar’ragos chuckled darkly as he fired up the shuttle’s thrusters and piloted the vessel through the permeable force field barrier and into the space beyond where a maelstrom of energy beams, torpedoes and explosions filled the void.

    He turned the craft to face the cube, which appeared much less impressive when dwarfed by the almost mind-numbing mass of the alien fortress. Lar’ragos plotted a course to avoid the lanes of weapons fire that were still savaging the surface of Shul’Nazhar while toggling the encrypted comms frequency the battle-group shared with the Amon.

    “Zeischt, I’m inbound to discuss the situation. I’m about thirty seconds from playing bug to your windscreen, so I’d appreciate it if you’d drop your subspace field or beam me over.”

    Silence answered him as the cube grew larger through the cockpit window. “I’m not joking, Zeischt. You let me slam into your field, and you’re going to start a shooting war with your allies.”

    The silence stretched on, prompting Lar’ragos to add, “Donald, you’re a fool if you think I’ve shown you all our cards. Oddfellow was nothing compared to what we’re prepared to use against your people if you betray us.”

    The cube filled the cockpit window, and Lar’ragos could now make out individual sections and conduits that comprised its layered surface. He began to slow his breathing, forcing himself to relax as he fought the nearly overwhelming compulsion to alter course to avoid impact.

    The shuttle’s computer announced, “WARNING: Collision imminent; advise you alter course immediately.”

    Lar’ragos closed his eyes as he accepted that this would be his final battle, the capstone to his long, tortured journey as a soldier. Seeking some kind of solace or diversion, his mind reached far into the past to catch hold of memories of his first taste of combat, the crucible that had burned away the last remnants of his naiveté. It drew these recollections into the present, a last-ditch defense against the shock of his own impending death.

    * * *​

    Maruushta Prime
    Delta Quadrant
    Circa 1975 A.D., Terran Calendar


    The armored flyer’s ramp slammed down with a hollow clang of metal on dirt, and Lar’ragos felt himself shoved forward as the two lines of fusiliers surged forth to exit the vulnerable craft.

    “Go, you sons-of-bitches,” their platoon sergeant roared, “Move!”

    As he stumbled off the bottom of the ramp, Lar’ragos emerged into an inferno of light, noise, and the concussions of overlapping explosions. He flinched involuntarily at the sudden scream from a flight of Hekosian assault-drones that flashed past, their auto-cannons seeming to rip the fabric of the air with sustained fusillades of lethal metal.

    Lar’ragos gaped at the carnage surrounding him. Fifty meters away the burning hulk of another, less-fortunate flyer lay crumpled as Maruushtan anti-aircraft missiles corkscrewed through the air to savage a half-dozen others on approach to land. The load-bay of the wrecked flyer had burst open as the craft folded in upon itself on impact, spilling the smoldering, dismembered bodies of dozens of Hekosian troopers onto the gritty, unforgiving soil.

    ‘Gone, just like that,’ Lar’ragos mused numbly. ‘All that training, all those simulations… and they never even got to fire a shot.’

    Another fusilier raised her plasma carbine, the weapon cackling as the woman fired at the scuttling form of an insectile Maruushtan warrior as it darted behind cover. Lar’ragos turned to look towards his squad leader, only to see the man’s head removed from his shoulders in a ghastly spray of blood that evulsed across the front of Pava’s battle-armor.

    Someone grabbed Lar’ragos roughly from behind and shoved him down, face first onto the stoney ground, just as something sizzled close overhead. Lar’ragos could feel the hairs on the back of his neck singed off at its passing.

    A body rolled off from where it had lay atop of Lar’ragos, the person gasping in shock and pain. Lar’ragos lifted his head and turned it to see the horrifically burned form of Subadhar Jorl, their platoon sergeant, writhing in agony as smoke wafted upward from dozens of charred patches across his body.

    Lar’ragos scrambled to his knees, reaching for his battle-aid kit with shaking hands as Jorl bit down on his own fist to keep from screaming, eliciting rivulets of blood that trickled down a forearm the skin of which had been charred to a crisp.

    He stared numbly at the contents of the kit, trying desperately to remember what of the various med-vials, bandages, or protoplasers would be of use in this situation. So fixated was he on his task that he almost failed to notice the arrival of a combat med-bot as it charged forward out of the wafting smoke and knelt beside Lar’ragos to assess Jorl’s injuries.

    “Poet!” a voice yelled through his headset, shocking him out of his daze. “Leave him to the ‘bot and get your ass back in formation!” Thus prompted, Lar’ragos pushed away from what was certainly Jorl’s last moments to stagger in the general direction of his squad. The location of both Hekosian forces and their Maruushtan enemies were emblazoned on the virtual screen that seemed to be hovering in the air in front of the young soldier’s eyes.

    Something exploded a few meters from him, showering him with dirt and debris as it threw him off his feet. Lar’ragos rolled down a slight incline before tumbling into a good sized crater just as a flight of something whistled viciously past, chewing up the soil at the crater’s lip.

    Lar’ragos lay at the bottom of the depression, trying valiantly to catch his breath and slow his racing heart. On his eyepiece he could see green dots, signifying the positions of his comrades, winking out two or three at a time. They were being chewed to pieces, and they were only the second of six waves of this attack. An attack which was actually nothing more than a feint designed to draw the enemy’s attention away from the target of the actual invasion force. ‘Thousands of us are being sacrificed as nothing more than a diversion,’ he realize, aghast at the implications. This isn’t what he’d been promised, nor what he’d trained for.

    More explosions sounded nearby as another flight of combat-drones roared overhead, screening the third wave of transport flyers that were tucked in tight behind them. Lar’ragos caught sight of columns of Maruushtan small-arms fire reaching skyward from someplace nearby, trying to bring down the flyers and their escorting drones. He girded himself to clamber up the side of the crater, extending a helmet-mounted periscope over the crater’s edge.

    He could just make out the frantic, gyrating movements of Maruushtan warriors in close-quarters combat with a small knot of Hekosian soldiers, both sides emptying their weapons into each other a point-blank range. Some of the clashes closed to hand-to-claw combat, savage struggles involving knives and razor-sharp mandibles. Lar’ragos gripped his plasma rifle so tightly his hands trembled as his instinct for self-preservation warred with his brief yet memorable fusilier training.

    ‘Just do it! Get out there and help!’
    he screamed internally. But he couldn’t move. His legs felt as though they were encased in concrete, and no matter how he yearned to take the fight to his enemy, Lar’ragos remained rooted to the spot.

    A grunt and the sound of rattling body-armor sounded behind him, causing Lar’ragos to spin around and discharge his rifle in a blind, stuttering arc of fire, screaming maniacally as he did so.

    A booted foot kicked out and forced the muzzle of the rifle skyward as Lar’ragos came face to face with a fellow Hekosian. The older, larger man cuffed Lar’ragos roughly across the face and then pulled him to the ground by the collar of his armored breastplate. “Calm the hell down you little shit!” the man roared. “I didn’t survive all that just to get gakked by some green-ass newbie!”

    Lar’ragos struggled to rise, and when he found the other soldier’s grip unbreakable, finally relented and sank back against the sloping wall of the crater. “Sorry,” he muttered quietly. “You surprised me.”

    “Well, that makes two of us,” the other man relented, finally releasing his hold on Lar’ragos. “No more spastic moves, kid. I don’t want to have to shoot you, but I will if I have to. We clear?” The man suddenly raised a hand-pulser towards Lar’ragos, causing Pava to cover his face and cry out as the weapon thundered.

    The sound of something sizzling above him and the realization that he was unharmed finally prompted Lar’ragos to look up and over his shoulder. There, at the lip of the crater, was the perforated remains of a Maruushtan drone-warrior, dribbling purplish blood-analogue from a dozen mortal wounds.

    The older soldier gave Lar’ragos a wizened smile. “First taste of combat, eh?”

    Lar’ragos allowed a reluctant nod as he finally had the presence of mind to change out his weapon’s empty power cell for a fresh one.

    “The next fifty hours or so are going to be the hardest for you,” the man said. “After that, the odds of your surviving this little party begin to climb.”

    “I can’t believe anyone can survive for more than a minute out there,” Lar’ragos groaned, gesturing weakly to the surrounding battlefield.

    “That’s the secret,” the soldier said with a knowing smirk. “Nobody can. Not until the number of Maruushtans has been whittled down significantly. That’s why you and I are going to stay right here and cover one another until say… the fifth wave comes in. Then we’ll climb out and join the fight.”

    Lar’ragos blinked at the man in disbelief. “We just sit here? Isn’t that cowardice?”

    “Nah,” he answered with a sharp laugh. “It’s enlightened self-interest. Think of it as fighting smarter. Let those other idiot hard-chargers die for the honor of the Hekosian Empire. We’ll still kill our fair share of the enemy, but unlike the others, we’ll live to fight another day.”

    Lar’ragos eyed the man warily, but settled back against the crater wall just the same. “That sounds oddly rational, given the circumstances.” He flinched as debris from a nearby explosion pattered down around the both of them.

    The man laughed. “Stick with me, kid. I’ll make a soldier out of you yet.”

    “I’m afraid,” Lar’ragos blurted, unsure as to why he made the sudden admission.

    The older man nodded sagely. “That will never change.”

    * * *​

    The memory faded, to be replaced by a brilliant white light that infused Lar’ragos and seemed to permeate his entire being. “I’ll be damned,” he murmured, stunned at this turn of events. “All those stories were righ--” The light faded, and he was chagrinned to find himself standing in the center of the Amon vessel’s austere command center. As he regained cohesion, a restraining field snapped into place around him, preventing movement.

    “I’ve come to accept your surrender,” Lar’ragos announced with all the bravado he could muster.

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    I always enjoy the glimpses of Lar'ragos' past. It's hard to believe that he was once a greenhorn but all legends have a point of origin, even for The Most Dangerous Man in the Quadrant.

    Love the bluster - "I've come to accept your surrender." Classic.
     
  11. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh Pava. You always know just what to say.

    Great look at the green, wet behind the ears Lar'ragos of yesteryear. Hard to believe he was ever so young and inexperienced. An odd memory to drag up moments before his seemingly unavoidable death, but then again, no way to control memory, I suppose and perhaps even a telling glimpse at Pava. For all his bluster and toughness, the man still remains afraid of death. Perhaps he is not so different after all.
     
  12. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 8 cont'd)

    Chapter Eight
    <cont'd>​

    USS Venture

    “Status?” Captain Ebnal inquired.

    “The three incoming warships have been neutralized, sir. There’s been no further signs of active defenses. So far, we’ve degraded twelve percent of the station’s defensive capacity.”

    Ebnal look surprised. “Only twelve percent?”

    “It’s a very big station, Captain,” his XO offered.

    Ebnal pursed his lips in consternation. “Right. I sure as hell hope we brought enough torpedoes…” He turned to his Operations officer. “Bring the warp drones online and dispatch them to the far side of the station. I want to make sure there’s nothing hiding behind it that our sensors can’t detect. Also have the Hermes and Turov move to mobile position Beta-Four to screen us from any potential threat from that quarter.”

    “Aye, sir.” With that, their squadron of Unmanned Warp Combat Vehicles jumped to full impulse and moved to skirt the great bulk of the alien installation.

    * * *​

    Amon Homeship Transcendent

    Pava’s comment elicited a raised eyebrow from the Vulcan A’lasha, who stood next to Zeischt some distance away from Warlord Jalahar and his command retinue. Lar’ragos took note of the fact that Zeischt’s mate, BattleMaster Nestrala, remained with the warlord and his hand-picked representatives from the Amon Congress of Elders.

    “I see your sense of humor is still as dry as ever,” Zeischt said with a perplexed frown.

    “I wasn’t joking,” Lar’ragos replied. “We all agreed to this course of action, that we would engage the Skorrah no matter what we found here. Now you’re trying to renege on that promise, and prevent our battlegroup from completing its mission.”

    “You do not order the Amon!” Jalahar barked, stepping out from his knot of advisors. “You do not threaten us! The tenets of our faith are non-negotiable, Outsider.”

    “You’re saying that the word of the Amon has no value, then?” Lar’ragos asked.

    Zeischt intervened in the exchange and stepped closer to where Lar’ragos stood immobilized. “Captain Lar’ragos,” he said formally, “Starfleet is not in the business of genocide. We have an opportunity here to assist the Skorrah, and perhaps in so doing, end their threat to the Milky Way galaxy.”

    “We have the advantage right now,” Lar’ragos replied evenly, trying mightily to maintain a calm, reasonable demeanor. “This could be a ruse on their part to delay our offensive, or to trick us into lowering our defenses.”

    Zeischt’s reply was equally rational. “From what the Amon know, Shul’Nazhar’s defenses are formidable enough that they could have easily wiped out our whole battlegroup as soon as we passed through the transit portal. They didn’t. What would be the point of subterfuge then?”

    Lar’ragos gritted his teeth, struggling against the claustrophobic sensation of the restraining field. “Our attack on the station’s defenses is already underway. Even if I called off Starfleet, I doubt I could deter the Klingons from continuing their assault.”

    “Then we will convince your Klingon allies!” Jalahar snarled, his blood still up.

    The El Aurian fixed his eyes on the Amon warlord. “You are so blinded by arrogance, Jalahar. And coming from me, that’s saying something. Whatever fate has befallen the Skorrah, they’ve become a malignant force. If you fail to act now, you risk becoming contaminated by whatever twisted them.”

    “Enough!” Jalahar stalked across to stand directly in front of Lar’ragos. “Contact your fleet, and order them to cease fire.”

    “I will not,” Lar’ragos answered stoically. He knew what came next, given that the Amon saw themselves as standing largely above other humanoids. 'Life is cheap', he reflected, 'especially among death eaters.'

    As though reading his mind, Jalahar drew a knife from within the folds of his cloak. It was a relatively small blade, quite utilitarian, so unlike the large, wicked curved knives favored by the Klingons and other overtly martial species. This blade was not meant to intimidate, Lar’ragos realized. It was meant to kill.

    Zeischt stepped forward, concern furrowing his features. “Warlord, please…”

    “Not another step!”
    Jalahar roared. “If you move to interfere, you will share his fate, Zeischt. You are Amon, now and forever, and you would do well to make peace with that fact.”

    Lar’ragos looked up into Jalahar’s eyes unflinchingly, his expression tinged with an unnamed sadness. “If you do this, it will spell the end for you and your people. I ask you… I beg you not to.”

    “I offer you one last chance,” Jalahar said in a more restrained tone, ignoring Pava’s entreaty. “I am not without mercy. Call off your ships, and I will send you back to your people unharmed.”

    Lar’ragos inclined his head slightly. “I believe that you would, Warlord. However, I’m acting in the defense of my people, and all the other species of my galaxy. My answer is still no.”

    Jalahar was a man of few words, and as there were no more to be said here, he acted. The warlord’s hand and the knife it held passed through the restraining field as if it were not there, as he drove the blade into Lar’ragos’ gut. His cuts were sure and swift, down and across, moving to open Pava’s abdomen and sever the artery within.

    The El Aurian gasped and then cried out as his entrails slithered free of his mortal wounds and spilled across his boots and the surrounding floor. He looked down with disbelieving eyes as blood pooled around his feet. “N- Now you’ve gone… and done it.” Lar’ragos looked up and searched out Zeischt, whose face was fixed in an expression of shock and dismay. “I’m sorry, Donald,” he rasped weakly. “This isn’t… the way I wanted it to…”

    Jalahar wiped the blade clean on his robes and the knife vanished into their folds once again. He made a cutting gesture in the air, and the restraining field surrounding Lar’ragos switched off, sending him crumpling heavily to the floor.

    Zeischt shouldered past Jalahar, heedless of the consequences, to kneel beside Lar’ragos. “Pava,” he called out over and over, unable to form any other words in the depth of his despair.

    Lar’ragos patted Zeischt’s shoulder in a ghastly parody of soothing, his trembling hand leaving the Amon’s robe stained with the smaller man’s blood. “It’s okay,” Lar’ragos whispered, his breath becoming labored. “It’s the… death I deserve.”

    Zeischt marshalled what little remained of his self control and answered, his voice tight with grief. “Is this your way going out in a blaze of glory, you old fool?”

    The light began to fade from Lar’ragos’ eyes. “No,” he sighed. “There’s no… nobility in this. Only vengeance.” He reached out fumblingly to grasp Zeischt’s hand feebly. “Get off… the cube.”

    And with that, he was gone.

    Jalahar looked on dispassionately, judging Zeischt’s reaction to his old friend’s death.

    Zeischt stood, his face now carefully expressionless, his posture rigid. He turned to face Jalahar. “You’ve killed us all.”

    A searing energy bolt from an Amon battle-staff tore through Jalahar’s chest, sending his body sliding across the floor of the command center to plow unceremoniously into the base of a reclining seat occupied by one of the Amon systems advocates.

    “Not yet, but that’s the plan,” A’lasha of Vulcan announced with a savage smile as she dropped the battle-staff and vanished in the swirling pattern of an Amon transport beam.

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
  13. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    Plots within schemes within intrigues. Nothing is ever quite as it seems, and I love it. It continually amazes me that you are willing to permit your central and most loved characters to shuffle off this mortal coil but, as much as it saddens me to see characters like Lar'ragos succumb (or seem to), it's also one of the things I love about your stories: they're "real" and you never know for certain what's coming next, and they're always moving forward; you never permit your tales or your characters to become stagnant; and shocking moments such as this are never gratuitous, but always move the story along.

    Rest in peace, Pava (though I have a feeling we'll see more of him, one way or another, even if in flashbacks).

    Can't wait to see what comes next. :bolian:
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
  14. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well, someone had to say it.
     
  15. mthompson1701

    mthompson1701 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2001
    Location:
    Out there, thataway
    I sure didn't see that one coming. Nice work.
     
  16. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    Washington, OK
    George R.R. Martin? Is that you?
     
  17. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    A nasty way to go and not a death I would wish on any one.

    You once again demonstrate that in this series nobody is safe, in fact it seems that at least half of the original command crew of the Gibraltar has either perished or otherwise become corrupted in some form.

    With Pava seemingly gone, things are not going to get better here soon. On the contrary, I reckon.
     
  18. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    :rommie:
     
  19. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Chapter Nine

    USS Europa

    “The captain’s shuttle is away, sir,” Shanthi reported to Wu from the Science station.

    Wu nodded wordlessly in response, and then directed a query behind her to Tactical. “Status of our bombardment on that shield generator cluster, Dom?”

    Dominic Leone replied evenly, “Progressing, Commander. That last volley of photons compromised the generators’ shielding. I’m following up with phasers to conserve torpedoes.”

    “Understood,” Wu said with an approving nod. “Good work, keep at it. Your next target is the weapons battery marked as Gamma-Seven on the TacNet display.”

    The ensign who’d taken over the Operations station when Kirk reported to CIC spoke up. “Sir, the captain’s shuttle is fifteen seconds from a collision with the Amon’s ship’s subspace field.”

    Wu resisted the urge to put the shuttle on the main viewer, and instead toggled the command chair’s LCARS interface, calling up a real-time sensor display of Lisbon’s progress toward the Amon cube.

    By the time she’d centered the scan on the shuttle, there was less than ten seconds until impact. Wu wanted desperately to call Lar’ragos, to urge him to turn back, but she already knew he was fully committed. The captain was playing chicken with an alien dreadnaught and the turncoat former Starfleet officer among its leadership.

    Two seconds before the shuttle’s collision with the subspace field annihilated the small craft, an Amon transporter signature registered from within the shuttle. Lar’ragos’ combadge transponder now broadcast from within the Amon vessel. Wu allowed a quiet sigh of relief to escape her lips as she announced, “The Amon beamed the captain aboard. Scratch one shuttle, though.”

    “Shield generators confirmed destroyed, sir,” Leone announced. “Now targeting weapons emplacement designated Gamma-Seven.”

    On the main viewscreen, three photon torpedoes rifled towards the mammoth space station, followed by a single quantum torpedo. Europa’s contribution added to an image replete with phaser discharges, flights of torpedoes in green, red, and white, and a multitude of Klingon disruptor blasts, all reaching out to strike the silent sentinel that was Shul’Nazhar.

    Wu was relieved the station was offering no resistance, as she tried to imagine the kind of hellish firepower such an installation might bring to bear on their battlegroup.

    “Mister Shanthi, how goes the mapping of the station’s internal layout?” Wu inquired.

    "Nearly seventy percent complete, Commander,” the lanky young man replied. “Both Starfleet and Klingon ships are contributing to the combined effort, sir. At this rate it’ll be complete in less than ten minutes. Then I’ll be able to identify priority targets for bombardment or boarding actions.”

    Wu digested that news as she took a moment to check the ship’s weapons stores, noting the significant dent they’d already put in Europa’s supply of photon and quantum torpedoes. Even now, the ship’s industrial replicator was producing components for replacement photorps, but the precious quantums could not be manufactured without highly specialized facilities. Each one they used would have to be resupplied from the Alpha Quadrant, far enough away from the nearer reaches of the Delta Quadrant, and now impossibly distant.

    Operations turned to glance back at Wu, “Incoming message from Venture, sir. Captain Ebnal says to prepare to stand down our CIC. He’s transferring command-and-control to Venture’s battle-bridge until Captain Lar’ragos returns.”

    “Acknowledge the order, Ensign,” Wu offered.

    “Beta-Wing has neutralized the three incoming threat vessels, and there are no other unidentified spacecraft within this star system, sir.”

    “Understood,” Wu confirmed.

    A warbling alarm at the Science station prompted Shanthi to call up a body diagram on his primary viewer at the Science board. The young man’s voice rose an octave in alarm, “Sir, the captain’s combadge biometrics alert has activated. His blood pressure is crashing and I’m reading some kind of traumatic injury.”

    Wu was up and out of the command chair like a shot. “Can we get a transporter lock?”

    Shanthi’s hands flew across his panel in a flurry. “No… their subspace field is still active.”

    Wu moved over to the Science station, leaning over Shanthi’s shoulder to examine the troubling readings for herself. “Do any of our Alpha Weapons have the capability of crashing their field without causing catastrophic damage to the cube?”

    Shanthi cast her a brief, apologetic look. “No, sir.”

    “Reskos to the bridge,” the doctor’s voice sounded on the overhead. “We need to get the captain back aboard this instant.”

    “We’re aware, Doctor, and we’re working on it,” Wu’s voice was unnaturally calm, surprising even her under the circumstances.

    An alarm trilled as the captain’s biometrics flat-lined. Shanthi and Wu shared a shocked look before Wu pushed away from the Science console. “Focus the primary sensor array on the Amon subspace field generators. Fry them, confuse them, I don’t care what… but find me a way through their defenses!”

    * * *​

    USS Venture

    “Message from Europa, sir,” Ops called out to Captain Ebnal. “They say their medical telemetry indicates Captain Lar’ragos is… dead.”

    The officer at Operations spoke up, her expression dubious. “Captain, the Amon subspace field has just collapsed and their weapons systems are powering down.”

    Ebnal grimaced briefly before shooting to his feet from the command chair. He motioned for his Stategic Ops liaison to open a channel to the battlegroup. “Make it encrypted,” he added tersely, “a cipher the Amon don’t have.”

    “Channel open, sir.”

    “This is Captain Ebnal to all ships. The Amon have just killed Captain Lar’ragos. I am assuming command of this taskforce. My orders are as follows: Klingon vessels, continue fire on the station. Starfleet vessels, you are free to engage the Amon cube with conventional weapons, targeting weapons and propulsion systems only. Hold off on Alpha Weapons until I give the command. We’ll be sending special missions teams aboard to recover Lar’ragos’ remains and to capture Zeischt.”

    Ebnal cut over to a priority channel routed to the transporter room housing Special Missions Teams Eight and Twenty-Three. “Did you copy all that, Commander Remington?”

    “Affirmative, sir,” came the team leader’s voice.

    “Bring Lar’ragos home and… “ Ebnal’s voice caught on an unaccustomed spike of internalized grief over the fate of both officers, “…and bring me the head of that sonofabitch traitor Sandhurst.”

    “Should his head be attached to anything else when we take him, Captain?” she asked.

    “Surprise me,” he graveled in reply.

    “Sir, Europa is signaling. Commander Wu is requesting permission to send over a security team in support of the SMT’s.”

    Ebnal frowned, and though he understood the overwhelming urge from Europa’s crew to take part in any recovery mission, he was unwilling to send anyone else to their deaths needlessly. “Inform Wu that Special Missions are equipped to deal with Amon warriors and have the armor and specialized weapons needed to complete the mission. I appreciate her offer, but we have it handled.”

    “Aye, sir.”

    * * *​
     
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Famous last words: '"We've got it handled ...'"

    For a moment there I thought I needed a "Previously, on Star Trek: Gibraltar", it had been so long. But it all came back to me quickly enough. So glad to see you haven't given up on this and I'm dying to find out what happens next. Can Pava cheat death one more time or is this truly the end. And what will become of Starfleet's most unlikely traitor?

    All this and more, I hope, on the next Star Trek: Gibraltar.