Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Mar 8, 2017.
Izama was right. We are venturing into a new frontier in terms of sentience.
Observation Lounge, Deck 1
“In light of the fact that this species has no name for itself, we will henceforth refer to them as the Karera,” Izawa announced from the head of the conference table.
“Japanese for ‘they’", Cybel provided from beside him.
Izawa continued, “The Karera have provided us with some valuable information regarding this region of the LMC. Unfortunately, they haven’t had any contact with Europa, nor do they know the ship’s whereabouts. They stumbled across the shuttle when it began responding to our broadcast of activation codes. Despite our initial attempt to hack into their collective consciousness, after scanning Valhalla they realized the similarities between our ship and the shuttle and returned it to us.”
“Nice to find a friendly face in a new neighborhood,” Raffaele remarked.
“Just so,” Izawa agreed. “Commander Maddox, can you update us as to what the Karera shared with us?”
“The Karera’s information, in conjunction with our own scans confirm this region of space is sparsely populated, at least by the Milky Way’s standards. The percentage of sentient species is low by this metric, and that of those capable of interstellar travel even lower. According to the Karera, that hasn’t always been the case, and this region was relatively active as little as ten-thousand years ago, but many of those species either destroyed themselves or one another, or left the scene courtesy of migration or evolution to a higher state.
“This region is also extremely resource poor, both due to the vagaries of planetary formation in local sectors as well as over-mining by various advanced species over the past several million years. Those species now reaching the level of technology necessary for interplanetary and interstellar travel are hard-pressed to locate sufficient raw materials to construct the industrial base necessary to support spacecraft or orbital habitats.”
“I would seem,” Izawa said, “that aside from Shul’Nazhar this region is of little scientific interest.”
Cybel inclined her head in agreement. “The Karera have already begun emigrating out of the area in search of the proverbial greener pastures.”
“If we’re moving on as well, I’d suggest leaving behind a network of comms-buoys and reconnaissance satellites in order to monitor the local area in case Europa moves though this region again after our departure. It’ll also help us stay in real-time communication with Starfleet Command via the portal.” This from Raffaele, who threw a hologram into the air with a drag-gesture from his padd atop the table.
A three-dimensional map appeared overhead, displaying the proposed sensor and communications network.
“Approved,” Izawa stated definitively. He looked at the faces of his assembled officers. “Where from here?”
The engineer offered, “Computer records from Sandhurst’s shuttle indicate that he was giving the super-cluster at these coordinates at lot of attention during his transit from Shul’Nazhar.” The hologram tapped at the LCARS interface set into the table top and the image overhead shifted to show a stellar nursery adjacent to the Tarantula Nebula some seventy light-years distant. “He scanned the area dozens of times, looking for both Borg and Starfleet metallurgical traces.”
“Trying to find the Amon or Europa,” concluded Dr. Zelbin. “Without his shuttle, even if he were able to find another warp-capable ship, I’m dubious as to whether he could reach that location without starving. From what we know, without infusions of the bio-energy the Amon consume, the onset of starvation is almost immediate. Their bodies don’t seem to be able to metabolize any nutritive value from food that isn’t permeated with that energy.”
Cybel looked to Izawa. “It’s the best lead we have so far.”
Raffaele snorted. “It’s the only lead we have so far.”
Izawa turned his stony expression on the Italian. “You have something to add, Lieutenant?”
“Yes, sir. We’ve been in the LMC for a week, and the portal is still open. Shul’Nazhar is still not talking, but neither is it threatening anyone. Starfleet is sitting with a task force of twenty-five ships on the other side of the portal protecting against any potential incursion from here. Can’t we at least request more assets to help? Every additional ship could expand our reach significantly.”
“As we’ve discussed, Mister Raffaele, Starfleet has tasked us, and only us, to this mission. Regardless of your opinion about the wisdom of that decision, those are our orders.” His countenance brooked no further argument.
Izawa stood, causing the others to rise to their feet. “We will set course for the cluster at transwarp after dispersing our reconnaissance net here. I will convey our thanks to the Karera while we deploy the satellites. Please make all necessary preparations.”
As the senior staff exited the observation lounge, Cybel pulled Raffaele aside in the corridor leading to the bridge. “When are you going to learn to leave well enough alone?”
“When someone around here starts acting rationally, sir,” was his biting retort.
“We should disobey orders because the great and mighty Adalgiso Raffaele decrees it?”
“Look me in the eyes and tell me our mission profile makes rational sense,” Raffaele demanded.
Cybel scrunched up her face, glaring fiercely. “I can’t because it doesn’t, Rafe! Just because you’re right doesn’t change anything. We still have a job to do.” She looked away, seeming to collect herself.
Raffaele felt a momentary twinge of unease, wondering how much of her behavior was genuine and how much of it was simply artifice.
“I’d remind you that since the portal remains open, the commodore still has the option of going back there and sending your problematic ass directly home.”
“Can you just explain to me why we can’t even ask for help, Commander?” Raffaele practically begged.
“Who says we haven’t?”
Raffaele had no response to that.
“Takeo Izawa would never put his ego before the welfare of his crew, Lieutenant. Of course he’s asked!”
He seemed taken aback by that.
“The answer was an unequivocal ‘no’. Like it or not, we’re on our own.” She sighed and seemed to regain her composure. “Is this someone’s sick political game? Almost certainly. It’s probably revenge for the commodore’s anti-militancy movement after Operation Vanguard wound down. But, again, that changes nothing. I’m done listening to you beat your head against the bulkhead on this subject. You so much as mention this again, and I’ll reassign you to the bartender’s billet in Ten Forward. Are we clear?”
“As Andorian ice, Commander,” Raffaele replied stiffly.
“Mister Raffaele, you are absolutely, positively dismissed.”
As he walked away, Cybel doubted Raffaele had moved with so rigid a posture since his last cadet review.
* * *
Remind me never to piss Cybel off. Especially when she's the ship as well as the First Officer.
Yeah, Cybel is a tough nut, even after what she has just gone through trying to communicate with the Karera she iremains as sharp as ever, cracking her XO whip where she has to. This AI is no pushover.
The backstory here remains intriguing, the chase after Sandhurst even more so. What has become of him and the Europa over the last few years?
Oh, what a splendid mystery!
While I tend to agree with Raffaele on the need for additional assets, his attitude is still irksome. For a Starfleet officer, he's remarkably lacking in discipline, i.e. respect for senior officers. Glad that Cybel set him straight (for the moment).
So, back to playing "Where's Waldo?" Finding Sandhurst and/or Europa in a vast galaxy with one starship is like trying to find a single grain of sand in the Sahara Desert. Is this mission set up to fail by design? Beginning to feel that way.
So I'm not entirely clear on what exactly Valhalla's mission is here and am hoping for some clarification. I'm not sure if I'm just missing or have forgotten something. If the explanation gives away the plot feel free to tell me to mind my own business.
We know that at least some elements of TFV made it back to Federation space as exhibited by Lucian Ebnal's court martial and incarceration. So reports of what happened must be circulating around the fleet, or at least command. What I'm not entirely clear on are the mission objectives Starfleet has placed on this crew, is it solely to find the missing Europa? Sandhurst? Is Europa's status unkown after being ordered to attack the Amon? Or has it's crew gone rouge and Starfleet knows it? Above all why has it taken 5 years for HQ to send a ship out to investigate?
^ If you re-read the first two segments, the answers should be found in Cybel's first conversation with Raffaele in the observation lounge as well as Izawa's address to the crew in the shuttlebay when he first arrived onboard.
Thank you Gibraltar, that did indeed clear a few things up. So I take it this portal/wormhole has "magically" re-opened and that is why Starfleet has taken the opportunity to send Valhalla through after 5 years?
I must have forgotten it existed. If there is one downside to reading a fanfiction story of this scale, it's that it often takes forever to be written. So it's easy to forget details that may have been written months or years ago. Not that I'm complaining, I understand you're doing this on the side. I'll just take this as a sign I need to re-read the previous books to brush up
^ Shul'Nazhar, the ancient alien station that generates the transit portals, can create them anywhere in the Milky Way and the five closest neighboring galaxies. That capability is what allowed the Skorrah to stage sneak attacks on worlds in Klingon and Federation space, as well as the complete destruction of Fereginar.
Ferenginar destroyed... I guess I'm gonna have to find a new place for my banking and dabo girl needs.
It had been three weeks since Valhalla had arrived at NGC 2074, or what the crew had named the Seahorse Cluster for the great gas cloud’s historic appearance from the Federation’s core sectors.
The dark tendril of nebular gasses was approximately twenty light-years in length, and was in the process of spawning a new star cluster. As a stellar incubator, the region was rife with proto-stars, quantum-strings, plasma storms, and general gravitic instability. This diminished the effectiveness of the ship’s sensors, and turned scanning the region with any accuracy into a headache for Maddox and his science department.
As with nearer Shul’Nazhar, this area evidenced a dearth of spacefaring civilizations, with few detectable ships transiting the local space-lanes. Of those identified, only one species, the semi-aquatic Dalu had any interest in contact. This time, the Universal Translator worked reasonably well, but the Dalu held little value in intercultural exchange for its own sake. Once it became apparent that the Federation had nothing to trade, the Dalu quickly moved on.
* * *
The starship Mombasa slalomed gracefully past slashing Cardassian corsairs and burning Jem’Hadar fighters, the nimble vessel’s shields gamely absorbing the glancing blows from incoming fire.
Beresha was focused on her controls with laser-like intensity, knowing that her skill, or the lack thereof, would likely decide her fate and that of her forty-one fellow crewmembers.
“Maintain forward fire,” called Raffaele from the center seat as the ship shuddered from the explosion of a nearby Excelsior-class vessel in its death throes.
“Galaxy-wing Beta has been completely wiped out!” the eerily familiar young officer at Ops shouted in a voice tinged with panic.
“Stay the course,” Raffaele replied, forcing iron into his tone to try and maintain his bridge crew’s focus. Panic now would be lethal.
“Helm, there’s a seam between that Jem’Hadar battleship and those Keldons. If we soften it up with a volley of quantums, do you think you can get us through there?”
“Aye, sir,” Beresha answered with a certainty she did not feel.
Cardassian torpedoes executed sharp turns to try and catch the compact Saber-class ship as Beresha threaded a nearly impossible gap between the shield bubbles of the enemy vessels. The pursuing ordinance impacted the enemy’s own warships, leaving a brilliant blossoming wave of destruction in Mombasa’s wake.
“Stand by aft torpedoes. Engage any enemy craft that make it through that mess alive.”
“We’ve got another wave of enemy vessels moving to cut off our egress,” Ops advised in a brittle voice. “One Cardassian cruiser and five Jem’Hadar fighters.”
“Target phasers on the fighters and torpedoes on that cruiser,” Raffaele instructed.
Ressessk obliged from the Tactical console, picking her targets with the discrimination of an apex-predator. “Multiple hitsss,” she assessed. “Cruissser is veering off, but the fightersss are ssstill inbound.”
“Beresha, keep them off us. If we can get past them to Phase Line Draconis we’ll be able to jump to warp.”
Even as Ressessk peppered the incoming Scarab-class heavy fighters with phaser fire, Beresha deftly maneuvered around the first two as the third pivoted sharply to try and gain a pursuit angle. The fourth fighter, however, drove itself directly into Mombasa in a suicide run so suddenly that Beresha hardly had time to register the impact when she found herself surrounded by a brilliant white flash.
When the light subsided, Raffaele, Beresha and Ressessk were seated on an otherwise empty holodeck.
The human officer stood, flinging his chair across the compartment with obvious anger and a string of colorful curses.
Beresha observed him curiously. “I don’t understand, Lieutenant. Mombasa survived the battle, and was one of only a handful of allied ships to escape the Tyra system. What is the purpose of reliving this incident?”
“Don’t you see?” Raffaele gestured animatedly. “This is the two-hundred and seventeenth time I’ve run this simulation. Mombasa has never survived the scenario, not once!”
Beresha gave him a skeptical look as she posited, “Perhaps you just got lucky? These things happen.”
“No, it’s not just luck,” he replied vehemently. “I don’t subscribe to luck or divine intervention. Our survival wasn’t just statistically unlikely, it was impossible!”
“What doesss it matter?” Ressessk asked innocently. “Whether your godsss intervened or you were jussst fortunate, you lived. That isss all that ssshould concern you.”
“That snot-nosed kid wetting himself at the Ops station was me! I was here when it actually happened. We couldn’t have survived this, but we did, and that fact makes me crazy. I can’t abide improbabilities.”
Ressessk’s mouth twitched, the Selay variation of a human cocking their head. “Thisss isss why our current misssion upsssetsss you ssso, isssn’t it?”
Raffaele didn’t respond, but his demeanor and posture were answer enough.
The Tactical officer stood abruptly and strode out of the holodeck without another word.
Beresha came to her feet more fluidly and approached Raffaele in her graceful gait. “Improbabilities may frustrate you, Adalgiso, but they do exist. You were the fortunate beneficiary of one this day on Mombasa. You might take a moment to consider that your best friend was born of a statistical improbability that even she’d have difficulty calculating.”
Raffaele rubbed his temples, sighing. “I can’t wrap my brain around it. I hate that. I despise the limitations imposed on us by nature.”
“You need to get help, Lieutenant. There’s no shame in that. The war was horrific.”
He glanced up at her, his eyes red and brimming with tears. “It’s not the war that scarred me. It’s the fact that we won when we shouldn’t have.”
“Would you have preferred that outcome?” she asked in all seriousness.
“Yes,” he practically whispered. “I’d have preferred that billions were enslaved if it would just silence the doubts cracking my bones.”
Beresha had no reply.
* * *
“Commander,” Maddox called to Cybel from the upper level of the bridge, “I’m seeing what looks like a space battle in a neighboring system. About a dozen ships of various configurations exchanging fire in orbit of a gas giant’s Class-L moon.”
Cybel stood and ascended the ramp to the Science station where a long range scan from Valhalla had been enhanced with closer range sensor readings from one of Starfleet’s stealth reconnaissance probes.
She leaned over her husband’s shoulder for a better view of the readings, though it was completely unnecessary. She could see the scans from a dozen different perspectives in her mind’s eye with far greater clarity than a mere visual display.
“Strange to see someone shooting it out given how few spacefaring species we’ve encountered,” Cybel commented. “You’d think there’d be plenty of room for everyone.”
Maddox countered. “Room perhaps, but with as resource starved as many of these regions are, everything is at a premium. Species in our galaxy have fought over less.”
“True enough.” She gestured to the sensor returns relating the pitched battle. “So besides this being an anomaly, what’s so special about this little dust-up?”
He sat back in his chair. “I won’t ruin the surprise.”
Time seemed to cease as everything on the bridge froze for Cybel. She shifted from what she termed ‘people-time’ into ‘machine-time’. Cybel dissected the sensor scans for every iota of data she could glean, analyzing and cross-referencing millions of facts and inferences in the time it takes a human to blink.
“One of the aggressor ships has two Romulan life-signs aboard,” she announced, her eyes narrowing at the revelation.
“So there are survivors from the Romulan taskforce,” Maddox mused. “This complicates things a bit.”
Ressessk overheard this and stepped over from the Tactical arch. She looked over the weapons signatures being fed to the ship by the reconnaissance probe. “None of the vessselsss themssselvesss are Romulan, but I am detecting Romulan disssruptorsss among the armamentsss of the ssship they’re on.”
“Commodore to the bridge,” Cybel requested via the comms. She hated interrupting the older man’s sleep cycle, but this event met his established threshold for notification.
Maddox enlarged the area of the battle on the display. “The side with the Romulan weapons is dispatching their opponents quite efficiently. Their opponents are trying to retreat, but the aggressors are taking out their engines and weapons pods.”
Raffaele strode up the ramp, having surrendered the Ops station to a relief officer. “It’s piracy,” he announced with conviction.
Cybel shot him a skeptical look. “And you know this because?”
Raffaele reached past Maddox to toggle the console, calling up a cross-section of the alien vessel in question. “The thing is a mobile scrapping rig. See the big open section amidships? That unfolds into a gantry system that encloses the captured craft. They seize it, gut it, and chop up the rest for scrap. The Orions used to operate similar ships out of the Molari Badlands late last century before the Border Service shut down the practice.”
A hologram of Izawa flickered to life just behind them, courtesy of the holographic communications station installed in the commodore’s quarters. “Report,” Izawa instructed.
Cybel filled him in on their discovery, and Izawa looked equal parts curious and troubled. “Thoughts?” he solicited.
“Jump in at transsswarp and ssseize the ssship, capturing the Romulansss,” Ressessk offered eagerly.
“It’s not a Romulan ship,” Cybel cautioned. “We’re new to this galaxy, and we have no idea what the protocols between species are out here. What those ships are doing may look like piracy to us, but by their standards it could be perfectly legal.”
“Piracy or not, the Romulans are ours,” Raffaele practically purred. “After the attack on the Starfleet/Klingon taskforce at Shul’Nazhar, the Romulan government publically disavowed the actions of the Romulan strike force. That makes them criminals, and their attack on our people violated our standing agreements with the Star Empire. We’re legally entitled to take them prisoner and return them to the Federation for trial.”
Cybel glanced to Izawa’s image. “I won’t vouch for Rafe’s enthusiasm, sir, but his legal analysis of the situation is spot on.”
Maddox said, “I’d recommend we follow them, sir. They’ll likely have a base of operations around here somewhere. If necessary, we can capture the two Romulans there with less chance of causing any unfortunate diplomatic incidents with the locals.”
His wife gave him an appraising look as Izawa nodded.
“Let’s go with Commander Maddox’s plan,” Izawa decided. “The Romulans may have existing agreements with whichever species operate those vessels. I’d rather avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness with these people in what will likely be a First Contact situation. Rig for silent running with Valhalla presenting minimal EM profile and continue to follow those brigand ships. Keep me apprised of any significant developments.”
With that, Izawa’s image faded away.
Cybel straightened. “Okay, people, we have our orders.”
* * *
So Raffaele is struggling with his inner demons, in this case statistical impossibilities. Methinks he needs a few sessions with a counselor. I know a very good one on a starship in the neighborhood . . . albeit a VERY large neighborhood. I can't imagine why the lieutenant is so messed up over beating the odds. Wonder how he did on the Kobayashi Maru test? Interesting plot twist.
And we have Romulans creating mischief in Andromeda. Nice to know some things are constant. Maddox's plan seems prudent, but prudence doesn't always win the day. Izawa is no James T. Kirk, that's for sure. That's usually acceptable on even days; I just hope this isn't an odd day.
Oh boy, Raffaele has some serious issues. He hasn't been genetically modified by an chance, has he? Because he is starting to sound a bit like a group of people who got so hung up over a similar issue that they almost forced a catastrophic resolution to the Dominion War.
Then again he might not fully appreciate some of the darker and clandestine machinations that led to the eventual Dominion surrender. Or might there be another mystery to uncover why his little ship made it through a battle it wasn't meant to survive?
Loving the new twists with the Romulans. Are they prisoner or allies? Knowing these people I suspect the latter in which case this won't be an easy grab n' go mission. These pirates, if that's who they are, might not appreciating their new friends being whisked away if they depend on them for their shiny new weaponry.
Well, not Andromeda, just the Large Magellanic Cloud, but if you'd like them to go looking for Jesse and his glorious mustache after they complete this mission (provided they survive), I'll put in a good word!
But why quibble over a few million light years?
Late to the party on this, but liking it very much so far!
The characters of Adalgiso Raffaele and Cybel are quickly becoming my fan favorites.
There's also the intriguing sector of space with its own history and the mystery of Sandhurst's and Europa's vanishing. The portal and the extended technology of holo sentience are great touches as well.
Oh, and check out my PM.
Great work as always.
Gursan Trade Station
The alien space station was an exotic mix of clashing architectural styles and aesthetics, having been built by one species and added on to by a succession of others over the centuries. In this way, it bore a definite similarity to Shul’Nazhar, except that it was nowhere near as large nor a fraction as old.
To Cybel, it suggested a growing theme to the LMC. With resources so scarce, it appeared as though nothing of value was disposed of, regardless of age. Added to, refurbished, perhaps repurposed, but never discarded.
Valhalla had followed the pirate ships to this dilapidated trading post, standing off a full light-year while the away team docked at the station in much less conspicuous runabout.
Cybel sat in a booth with Raffaele, Ressessk, and two security specialists, all dressed in civilian garb, trying their best to blend in with the local color. Their seating was the only booth in the dining establishment designed for bipedal body-types, as the humanoid form was a distinct minority among the many species populating the station.
The atmosphere here contained too little oxygen and too much nitrogen and helium to be safe for anyone other than Ressessk and Cybel, so the others wore full facemask rebreather units that prevented them from asphyxiating within minutes. Trace amounts of chlorine in the air necessitated that the human’s eyes be covered as well, and even Ressessk wore protective goggles in deference to the airborne corrosive.
Raffaele had affixed a special straw attachment to his mask in order to sample some of the supposedly humanoid-compatible drinks available from the restaurant. It had been a simple thing to replicate the gold and platinum coinage so sought after by the locals, essentially making their away team rich beyond the dreams of avarice.
“You weren’t kidding about our standing out,” Cybel remarked to Ressessk. “I doubt it’s going to take the Romulans long to spot us, given that just about everyone else here is getting around on something other than two legs.”
Various beings, striking by Milky Way standards, went about their business scuttling on multiple insectoid legs, or undulating with muscular contortions, some were gaseous entities enclosed in floating spheres.
Raffaele sipped gingerly from a bulb of orange liquid; his eyes practically bulged at his first taste of the alien beverage.
Cybel grinned. “That bad?”
“No, actually,” he smiled through his transparent mask. “It’s quite unexpectedly good.”
“Ssso, what isss the plan?” Ressessk inquired pointedly.
“I think we should pair up and spread out,” Raffaele offered. “Cover more ground that way.”
“Makesss usss vulnerable,” advised Ressessk. “There isss sssafety in numbersss. Remember, thessse are Romulan centurionsss, with extensssive combat training and sssignificant physssical ssstrength.”
One of the security officers, Ensign Wescott said, “I know we’re late to the party, Commander, but can I ask why we didn’t just beam the Romulans off the station?”
Cybel reminded herself to give a more thorough briefing for the away team next time, as she sometimes lost track of what she knew as opposed to what others did, especially junior personnel not privy to their senior staff meetings. “Yes, I apologize for the omission, Ensign. Both the Romulans are wearing transport-scrambler modules that prevent us from doing just that.”
Ressessk made the Selay variant of a frown, which looked to human eyes like a decidedly toothy grin. “I ssstill don’t underssstand that. We’ve ssseen no indication of transssporter technology in the LMC asss yet.”
“Perhaps we’re not the only people with transporters hunting Romulans, eh?” Raffaele remarked.
“Perhaps,” allowed Cybel, who suddenly sat up a little straighter as she gave something or someone a hard look from across the concourse.
Raffaele fought the urge to turn around. “Our Romulans?”
“No… something… else. Maybe.” Cybel offered distractedly. “Rafe, you’re in charge until I get back.” With that she slid out of the booth with surprising speed and vanished into the crowd in seconds.
“Hey, wait…” Raffaele called after her, but she was gone before he could finish his objection. He turned to see the eyes of the others fixed expectantly on him. “Hello there. My name is Adalgiso, and I’ll be standing in as your away team leader today,” he offered dryly.
Ressessk propped her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands in a ridiculously coy human gesture that just looked wrong coming from her. “Plan?” she repeated, batting her reptilian eyelids dramatically behind her protective goggles.
“Pairs,” Raffaele decided, “and are you trying to seduce me? Because… no. I have a strict endotherms only policy.”
“Ssspeciesssissst,” Ressessk hissed with mock injury.
The security officers tried unsuccessfully to stifle their laughter in their microphone equipped facemasks.
Raffaele sighed, and threw a handful of coins on the table that would cover the cost of his drink nearly a hundred times over. “Let the word spread forth, big tipping is the Milky Way.”
The others groaned.
“Let’s do this,” Raffaele ordered as they rose from the table in unison.
* * *
Cybel knew a fellow android when she saw one. It was all in the walk.
The fact that this model was in the guise of one of the few humanoid LMC species made no difference. Tricorder scans came back showing a biological entity, but they were clearly a sensor diversion. The same bipedal movement algorithms written by Noonien Soong fifty years earlier that served as the basis for her locomotion subroutines also underpinned this android’s. The implications of this were not lost on her.
She paced the other android for a time, consciously modifying her own movement program so as not to identify herself as such in return. After a few minutes, it became obvious that the android’s attention was focused on another individual, a robe-clad humanoid that if Cybel's internal sensors were accurate appeared to be a human female.
Thus tailing a tail, Cybel continued to observe as the android watched the human’s movement with intense scrutiny. They made their way to the upper level of the commercial concourse, wending their way through a variety of shops and kiosks. The human paused to examine a piece of pottery, still granted anonymity by virtue of her hooded robe and the breather-mask she wore.
Suddenly, the woman pivoted sharply and threw the crockery with one hand and something small and metallic with the other towards her android shadow. The android easily swatted aside the jar which splintered with the impact at the same moment that the android was engulfed in streamers of electrical energy which surged across and around its body.
An EMP device, Cybel realized. Whoever this human was, she must have realized that she was being pursued by a synthetic life-form.
The android seized up and slowly toppled over like a piece of upset statuary as the woman darted into the crowd.
Cybel shifted into machine-time as she considered who to pursue. The android was a curiosity, but not necessarily a priority target. It was a stronger possibility that the human was a member of Europa’s crew, or a survivor of one of the starships lost at the Battle of Shul’Nazhar. Her decision was made in less than a tenth of a second, and Cybel set off after the woman. She vaulted over a display table and then sprung off a nearby bulkhead before swinging above the crowd on an overhead section of pipe as though the concourse was nothing more than an elaborate obstacle course.
Spotting the woman from above, Cybel landed back on the floor and darted through the multitude of shoppers as though they were standing still. She quickly caught up to the woman, who was approaching a stairwell down to the main level.
Cybel grabbed the woman’s upper arm in a vice-like grip and spun her around so quickly that the woman’s hood was torn free from her head by the violence of the moment. The woman produced a pistol and brought it up with admirable speed, only to have Cybel swat it out of her hand contemptuously.
Cybel examined the middle-aged woman through her transparent mask, and could not help but raise an eyebrow in surprise as she announced, “Liana Ramirez, you are under arrest for numerous felony crimes committed against Starfleet and the Federation.”
The woman’s response was to punch Cybel as hard as she could in the jaw with a practiced right-cross, only to gasp as she broke her hand in the process.
A noisy scuffle on the lower concourse drew Cybel’s attention for a brief moment, and she spotted two members of her away team in jeopardy. Cybel reached out to deliver a neck-pinch that rendered Ramirez unconscious. Lowering the woman to the floor, Cybel affixed a transport-tag to her and tapped her combadge under her jacket. “Cybel to Namsen, I’ve tagged one for beam-out. Put her in stasis the moment she materializes. This one’s highly dangerous.”
“Aye, sir,” the pilot of the nearby runabout replied over comms.
Ramirez vanished in a swirl of transporter energy, startling the crowd of onlookers, as Cybel turned her attention to other matters.
* * *
It wasn’t lost on Raffaele that the Romulan he and Ressessk were tailing was not using any kind of visible breathing apparatus or filtration system, suggesting that he may have been subjected to genetic modification in order to more easily survive the station’s environment.
Raffaele slipped through the crowd, trying to remain unobserved among the striking beings that filled the concourse. Something that appeared much like an orange stalk of asparagus atop a terran octopus loped past on its dexterous appendages momentarily distracting him and causing Raffaele to bump into a giant, fur-covered sentient quadruped. The large creature turned watery, bovine eyes on him before emitting a string of clicks, grunts, and wheezes that Rafe’s universal translator didn’t even attempt to decipher.
He apologized distractedly, trying to reacquire his target in the surging throng. The Romulan he was following was tall, muscular, and had the sides of his head shaved close. Given the rarity of bipeds on the concourse, he should have proved easier to spot, but Raffaele had lost him in his moment of inattention.
“Damn, I lost him,” he whispered into his hidden communicator, alerting Ressessk who followed some twenty meters behind.
He ducked into an alcove and pulled his tricorder from a pocket, staring intently at the display through his mask. That’s odd, he thought, from these readings, I should be right on top of hi—
A strong hand slapped the tricorder out of Raffaele’s grasp and he looked up into the face of the Romulan he’d been following. The man’s expression was one of anger accompanied by more than a little fear as he tore the breather mask from Raffaele’s face and drove his other hand fist-first into Raffaele’s sternum.
Raffaele gasped and sank to the floor, choking and clawing at his throat. The Romulan turned to run, only to come face-to-face with Ressessk. The Romulan hesitated, unfamiliar with her species and clearly not wanting to pick an unnecessary fight if it was avoidable.
It wasn’t. The Selay brought her powerful arms down onto the Romulan’s shoulders with sufficient force to drive the man to his knees.
Ressessk bent over to reattach Raffaele’s mask as a disruptor bolt screamed through the space she’d occupied only seconds before to blast the wall plating over her and Raffaele’s heads. She fell on top of Raffaele, shielding him with her body as she sought her phaser in the folds of her robe.
The second Romulan took more careful aim with his next shot.
“Drop it!” a voice behind the Romulan bellowed. Ensign Wescott had the man dead to rights.
The Romulan side stepped, turned and dropped to a crouch in a fluid motion that left Wescott's aim trailing a half-second behind. Wescott's hurried stun discharge missed the Romulan cleanly. The Romulan’s reply struck home, sending a disruptor pulse into Wescott that vaporized the young man with a screech.
The other security officer fumbled his phaser as he struggled to push through the surrounding crowd that had gathered to watch the melee.
The Romulan stood and turned around, reacquiring Ressessk and Raffaele in his sights.
From behind him, Cybel tapped her index finger lightly on the back of the Romulan’s neck, discharging a neuroleptic shock. She caught the larger man as he crumpled and gently eased him to the floor.
The first Romulan recovered sufficiently from Ressessk’s blow to draw a knife from a leg scabbard and moved to stab the reptilian officer. Her phaser caught in her robe, refusing her repeated attempts to yank it free, and in her desperation Ressessk unleashed a spray of paralytic venom from glands in her mouth that left the soldier clawing at his face and howling.
“Well,” Cybel announced sourly over the man’s screams as she surveyed the carnage of their brief struggle, “I think we can call this a complete mess.”
With Ressessk’s assistance, Raffaele sat up and was reseating his mask and taking deep breaths while rubbing his aching chest. “Here come the local authorities,“ he warned as a group of six-legged armored arachnoids bearing heavy weapons surrounded them.
Cybel looked remarkably untroubled as she extended one arm slowly, holding a satchel heavy with coinage in her hand. “We can pay, both for the trouble, and these two men,” she advised the bulky enforcers.
They proved surprisingly amenable to the bribe.
* * *
Ramirez is back! This can only mean trouble for everyone involved.
But hey, except for the inevitable demise of a redshirt this mission seems to have gone pretty well so far. Both targets in custody, even if one may have gotten his face melted off in the process, plus a surprise guest.
And who exactly is that android?
For a moment, I thought we were "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." The last part is true enough. This galaxy is quite strange but it stands to reason the lifeforms would differ from the predominantly bipedal inhabitants of the Milky Way.
So Cybel bagged Ramirez - excellent catch! But what of this android - is it Lore? B4? or something else? Curious also that the Romulans had no difficulty breathing the station air.
Aaaand a redshirt bites the dust. Seriously, do they belong to the same union as Imperial Stormtroopers? At least Stormtroopers usually get off an errant shot or thirty before assuming room temperature.
This is all veeery interesting - can't wait to see what happens next!
The Android, it's Parlan (maybe misspelled name) if that is the case, better be careful bringing him on board, he likes to turn Starship crews into mush, judging by the last few encounters. Knowing how you write, even with the crew seeming to be taking precautions, there will be some snag or twist. Because it can't be just a normal mission... Lol... I'm expecting this ship and crew to be Chronenburged within two chapters.
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