Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Starkers, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    [LEFT]Author's note: This story contains mild spoilers for the premise of The Thirteenth Order. Further inspiration is owed to the Coldplay song, "Spies."


    Star Trek:
    Sigils and Unions​

    Cardassian Guard Vigilance Inquisitorium—Engineering Campus
    Keshat Akleen, Cardassia Prime
    Union Year 483
    [Federation Year 2353]

    The water slid around the diminutive figure sitting on the lake floor under the shadow of the fishing pier. Only the bubbles rising from her underwater breather might give any indication to a surface observer that she was there—that is, if they bothered to look directly under the pier. To the transponder all students at the Cardassian Guard’s main training campus had implanted immediately upon arrival and removed only upon graduation, there was little difference except at close range between standing on the dock and sitting just over three meters under it.

    Beneath the surface, everything, including the grey of her skin, took on the bluish cast of the water. The scientific mind of Ragoç Zejil Rebek understood this perfectly well: the sky of Cardassia Prime might tend towards reddish hues, but water did particularly well at absorbing the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum thanks, oddly enough, to molecular vibrations that just happened to be within range of the Cardassian eye in a way that even deuterium ‘water’ could never manage. This meant that the further one got under the surface, the more everything shifted towards the blue.

    She reflected upon that explanation with equanimity and reverence—here, transitioning into engineering and scientific studies after a stint as a sniper on the Federation front, she was privileged to gaze directly into the deepest known mechanisms used in the creation of the universe.

    The creation of the universe—the Shaping. Even to suggest the possibility was a crime. To be caught in meditation and prayer…far worse. And to those caught actively propagating such opinions went the most humiliating and public demise one could imagine. They strip the significance from the universe so that in the people’s minds, they’re the only ‘living’ thing left standing, Rebek thought. If this can be called living.

    None of this was how it ought to be. For Rebek, the breather in her mouth offered security in more ways than one. Even alone, she should have been at liberty to vocalize her prayers if she were so moved. But just like it had been for generations, all she had was silent meditation in the most desperate of places. She should have prayed in the company of believers. Maybe she would have had a recitation mask to symbolize the drawing-in of Oralius’ spirit. She should have had the Hebitian Records before her instead of ‘reading’ it through the memory of her mother’s recitations. She should have heard about her faith from birth, instead of having it withheld until her parents hoped that Zejil was old enough to hear and believe, but young enough that they hadn’t yet taught her the ‘value’ of denouncing her own family. For if caught, she would be considered a traitor to the Union…this in spite of the fact that they weren’t traitors to Cardassia, which the Rebeks still served faithfully even if their leaders did not.

    Reluctantly, she rejected the bitterness. She didn’t have time for that now…this time belonged to Oralius. And it was limited.

    She closed her eyes and reached out with her bioelectric sense as she readied herself for the Invocation. Underwater the sixth Cardassian sense hummed with remnants of the reach and intensity the early, river-dwelling ancestors of Cardassia’s therapsids had known. Life buzzed around her…and it didn’t matter that she understood what she sensed and why it was so intense here. Knowing the timelines and the reasons and the mechanisms did not tarnish the sanctity of the design, for that it still was. To understand, to adore, to give thanks…

    Predator near!

    Rebek’s eyes flew open, ridges went wide. Fear escaped the confines of her heart, played out on her face: damning evidence. She just barely resisted the impulse to spit the breather as the shock shot down her spine and neck ridges: for too right the prehistoric instinct was.

    Pale scales…great, round ridges…eyes like the water—

    He stared—he comprehended.

    How easily broken was the lineage of believers.

    About time! exulted the twenty-two year old final-year deghilzin at the Inquisitorium as he flew down the dock. His ‘rank,’ such as it was, spoke of a tiny stone piece—a tessella, in terhăn terminology, meaningless on its own, but capable of serving as part of the strong, finished mosaic of Cardassia. The Guard inquisitors took great pains to make sure the deghi’ilzin understood their subordinate status, dictating every moment of their lives until their final year where…if they performed sufficiently…they earned one hour of leisure time to themselves, chosen from a list of acceptable activities. And finally, it was his turn.

    Deghilzin Berat leaped off the end of the dock—tucked his legs and grabbed them close to his body—and then—ke-prăç! Water thundered around him and pulled him in. He surfaced for a second and laughed, childlike, at the concentric rings still echoing from his point of entry and the tickling of the water as it skittered along the outsides of his eye ridges. Maybe his community-pool, splash-maximizing Srivec’piyrdbre—‘the Divebomber’—wasn’t the form the Guard would have preferred, and he would be a good deghilzin and practice a stealthier, more appropriate diving form…eventually. But he just had to do it.

    Right now, though…he felt like pushing his body in a different way. As he kicked at the water, he pulled on a set of goggles, which nestled just on the insides of his eye ridges. Then he drew in a deep breath, and pushed himself under.

    The world…transformed here. Colors changed and he swam, a creature revisiting the home to which his forbears had once belonged and which he could no longer quite possess. It was a feeling of age, of constancy—and something else…he couldn’t put a word to it. Tradition? That wasn’t quite it. It was as though reality had morphed its nature in some way he was helpless to describe.

    A shadow shifted overhead. A cloud? No—not this time of year…the dock. And he felt something—electric, alive, too big for a fish or even a lake-ray…

    She sat cross-legged on the lakebed in full diving gear, eyes closed, heedless of her environment in any way that meant anything…small and serene—beautiful, but above his station, for she seemed to possess at least a few more years than he did…

    This impression lasted for less than a second.

    There was nothing overt here, no words, no gestures, just silence and repose, head bowed as if to an invisible superior officer...but here, in isolation, this was no ordinary biofeedback meditation or martial discipline. Primitive ritualistic behavior. That was how their textbooks and inquisitors described it—the rituals of the Bajorans, and the fantasies of those few Cardassians who still clung to the ancient superstitions whose purveyors would have destroyed Cardassia at the start of the Cataclysm, if not for the brave revolutionaries led by Tret Akleen.

    This was an Oralian—a traitor—right in front of him.

    Even in hiding they were traitors, all of them—heretics against the state and all that Cardassia stood for. He didn’t even have to confront her. All he had to do was go to one of his Inquisitors, the Inquisitor would call in the Obsidian Order, he would give them the time and the place, and they would determine whose transponder had been active in the area at the time. There were only two of them…it wouldn’t be hard. He would do his duty, and it would be quite the auspicious beginning to the career of a young deghilzin, soon to assume the rank of ragoç. His family would be so proud, that their son served the Union thus…

    Her eyes were open now—terrified…hurt. Resolute.

    Look at me now: I am going to die.

    He had seen the faces of the condemned on the trial broadcasts with every conceivable emotion on their faces—some in futile defiance, some in hollow defeat, and every shade in between. He knew classmates who had actually watched a trial in person, from the observation loft. As a child he had spied the defeated subject of an arrest once, from a distance, before his parents whisked him away. But he had never actually seen one of the guilty up close and looked into their living eyes. No one had ever before looked at Tayben Berat in fear.

    He broke away, rose to the surface, and sucked in air. He pushed off against one of the pylons of the dock and kicked hard, as though the movement away might kick his brain into gear and force a decision. He couldn’t hear over the sound of each stroke what might be happening behind him.

    Burn it all—this conundrum was unbecoming of the officer of the Cardassian Guard he was soon to be! No one had ever said doing his duty was easy—there was a reason people spoke of sacrifice: sometimes you felt for, even loved those who had erred too gravely for pardon, but you accepted the pain and did what was required of you. If anyone figured out what this woman was doing here, if anyone reviewed the transponder records, if anyone realized he should have seen, then if he failed to report her in a timely manner, he too would be deemed a traitor. What right had he to withhold crucial information for himself?

    His stomach heaved—he pulled himself up onto the opposite dock just in time as the cramps doubled him over. She had done nothing to him. What had she done to anyone? He couldn’t. He couldn’t.

    Deghilzin Berat shook with chill and dread. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t a soldier’s response to naked sedition—what was it? He had to stay here as long as he was scheduled to; that was the only way they’d believe he never saw anything. He had to forget…but his eidetic memory wouldn’t let him. Might of Cardassia—have I just signed my own denunciation?

    A day passed. Then a week, then another, and a month. The term ended, family week came, and his parents, brothers, and grandparents conducted an experiment in just how many Berats could squeeze into a tiny barracks room during their daily visits, with more and more arriving every day. After family week came and went without an Obsidian Order agent bursting into the room to demand their surrender—his for covering for an Oralian, and his family’s for raising a son who would—Tayben Berat finally breathed an inward sigh of relief. It was over.

    Then the new term began and he went to his first class—Theoretical Physics, Second Term. He looked up at the front row, where the highest-ranking members of the class sat, and…

    Oh, no—it’s her!

    She wore the full armor of a commissioned officer of the Guard, her cuirass naming her a ragoç in continuing education. This meant she would graduate as a full riyăk, whereas Deghilzin Berat would assume the rank she would soon leave. At least, he hoped he’d last that long.

    Berat just barely suppressed a gasp…and not just at the fact that the Oralian woman actually served the Guard as a career officer, not just a conscriptee. She had to have chosen that. It made no sense—they hated the Union and all it stood for, they had nearly driven Cardassia to destruction in their decadent ways, blinding them to the hard necessities…

    This has got to be someone’s idea of a sick joke! Either that or the Obsidian Order was giving him a final chance. But they don’t give second chances, he reminded himself. That is, unless they’re trying to take down someone else along with me. He was a good Cardassian, after all—he wouldn’t have even needed a conservator to confess what he’d done, the way it had eaten at him for the rest of the last term. But who else could they possibly take down with him? He hadn’t said a word, hadn’t committed any more even questionable acts. If they knew that much, they would have to know it was pointless to draw it out any further. He had to assume that…he couldn’t let it tear him apart, not this close to graduation. He couldn’t make any contact or give any sign. Neither of us dare.

    He shook his head. He didn’t like what that phrasing implied.

    Now, Berat walked through the Inquisitorium’s engineering library. His coursework came on isolinear rods rather than by download, as did all material given to unproven deghi’ilzin—the better to control information access. As walked past the study cubicles towards the rack the search console had indicated, something cracked across the desk next to him like the snap of plasma in a faulty conduit, an impression furthered by the irritated flare of a bioelectric field nearby.

    “Everything all right?” Berat asked.

    She’d slammed her stylus down, her other fist clenched in frustration. For the first instant she stared at her padd, a strange expression on her face…like a profound meditation disrupted. It registered then—she wore full armor, not the black and grey deghilzin’s jacket with neither rank nor station—

    Hăcet! he raged to himself—chaos! He’d spoken without thinking before his eyes even fixed on the source, and in a manner that invited a response—there was no evading it now.

    Ragoç Rebek swiveled around in her chair—and froze.

    She’d seen this deghilzin sitting in Theoretical Physics a few rows back from him, but he never looked up—at least, not when she was around. Those great, bright eyes stared at her like the personification of Fate, the depth of the blue bizarrely unchanged in the light of the open air. She had suspected, but by those striking irises, she knew. The Obsidian Order had been toying with her this entire time…and he must have been working for them. This was the endgame. Her stomach sank; she summoned every bit of her discipline as an officer of the Cardassian Guard to keep her face unperturbed. So young—yet he held her life in his hands.

    Then why did those eyes blink as though startled, the rest of his body seemingly paralyzed? Be calm, she schooled herself. Maybe this wasn’t what it seemed. Play this out…see where it goes.

    “Yes, Deghilzin,” she stated. “I am not in need of assistance…I release you.” She could have dismissed him far more bluntly and been well within standard protocol, but dared not--neither ally nor enemy could be safely treated thus.

    The youthful man’s lip quirked up ever so slightly as though amused in spite of himself—his eyes were no longer on her, but on her padd, taking in the tangled mess of equations she’d succeeded in creating over the past ten minutes. Irritation flushed hot through her neck ridges. His eyes darted off to the side, searching for an escape route and finding none. “Ragoç…” He swallowed. “Permission to speak.”

    Rebek inclined her head just barely.

    “I realize that my position is nothing compared to yours. I also realize that we are…of different specialties.” He spoke those words with a strange caution, something more than mere deference. Factually they were true; Rebek’s concentration was applied engineering—Berat, his name was, focused on the theoretical, and he had consistently outperformed her in this most frustrating of classes. “But I mean no challenge to you by offering assistance. That said, if you would rather not have it, I will obey.”

    His eyes pierced into hers just like they had under the lake…except this time, he seemed desperate for her to understand something. That last part had been nothing but pure ritual. But the rest…

    “Perhaps,” she allowed, her heart drumming a furious cadence in the center of her chest, “if I find I can’t resolve this myself, I will take you up on that. You are Berat, correct?” He nodded as though he had run out of words. “I should be fine for now, though.”

    Satisfied—relieved, Berat bowed and excused himself with a barely-audible mumble that might been endearing under better circumstances.

    Only after he’d been gone for an hour did it hit Rebek what Berat had meant. The second part had been simple enough: I mean no challenge. In other words, I am no threat to you. The first part...eventually she’d realized it was his way of telling her that he did not share her beliefs. Yet he had not…and for whatever reason, would not, denounce her.

    Merciful Oralius, she prayed, open eyes scouring the equations once more. I don’t know what you did—but I give thanks to you for sparing my life.
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Cardassian Union Warship Romac
    Thirteenth Order Rebellion
    Union Year 505
    [Federation Year 2375]

    Gul Tayben Berat sat in the mess hall aboard the Romac, quietly observing the improbable pair that stood by the elliptical observation window. There stood Zejil Rebek now—a tiny presence, physically, for the rank she carried…but even if she hadn’t been one of his dearest friends, he had to laugh silently at the thought of how hypocritical it would be for him, of all people, to comment. Especially after how she had stood by him after the Fist of Revenge coup, and the incident on Volan III. He certainly hadn’t forgotten how she’d rebuked Malyn Ocett after the comments the other gul had made right to Berat’s face, after his injuries. She might think Rebek nothing but a tiny ‘pocket vompăt,’ but he knew better. And he’d heard how she had fought on the surface of Lessek, as well. If he had ever doubted how she would do her duty in light of her complicated allegiances—those days were gone many years ago.

    At her side, the terhăn lieutenant commander, Spirodopoulos, fixed his face reverently upon the stars and without the slightest hint of shame, made that same strange sign Berat had seen him make at the funeral: one hand, first three fingertips together, forehead to chest, shoulder to shoulder. As if it weren’t surreal enough already to see this alien wearing the armor of the Cardassian Guard, fitted perfectly to him in every way except for the narrowness of his neck, it seemed even more incongruous to see this armored man make such a gesture without a single thought as to what anybody might think. Or at least, without any fear of what anybody would do to him for it.

    Zejil—and she had granted him the right to call her Zija, as only her family and childhood friends could—watched him in complete stillness and, if he wasn’t mistaken, a touch of sadness. She said something to him then; he heard nothing—maybe she asked him what that sign meant. But she could never tell him why she cared. Even on the same ship…he was free. She still was not. Even here, isolated from the rest of the Guard, even after inviting the alliance with the Starfleet soldiers under Spirodopoulos’ command, there were still those who would kill her if they realized what she was—and especially in this time of shattered hierarchy. Too many violations of the norms, and people were likely to snap.

    What was that term he’d used for their observances twenty-two years ago? Yes…primitive ritualistic behavior.

    That wasn’t what he saw now. She scrutinized the stars with the knowing eyes of a scientist; in return, they cast their cool white sheen upon her scales. The delicate blue pigments on her forehead and neck ridges iridesced at this touch, and as he watched, he felt as though he saw, obliquely, what it was that had frustrated her so severely that day in the Inquisitorium library. This painstaking study was for her a form of meditation and reverence—when she’d found her efforts frustrated, perhaps she had found it disruptive like the intrusion of his bioelectric field upon her prayer. It meant something to her.

    Even if she couldn’t speak openly to the man, she had to know that Spirodopoulos would comprehend her Way in a sense that most of her own species did not—not even her closest friend, who had kept her secret all this time and sown such trust between them that he could ask her to join this rebellion and she barely even blinked before she said ‘yes.’ But that wasn’t the same as speaking and truly being understood. He felt as though he were standing in the wrong place. He wished…he wasn’t sure what he longed for, but something would have to change before he could find out.

    But I wouldn’t change Zija.

    That much he knew.
  3. Kaziarl

    Kaziarl Commodore Commodore

    Dec 24, 2007
    Portland, OR (Kaziarl)
    It was a great day for his people, a first strike at the stars themselves. And they desperately needed room to expand.

    “We need breathing room,” one of his comrades had told the High Chancellor and the other members of the council.

    As Commander K’mot looked out from the observation deck of the orbital facility, he could not help but think of that comrade. He had fallen during a feud war, unable to claim the honor of seeing his life’s work accomplished. K’mot swore a blood oath to see that work completed, but still felt it should be his comrade standing here watching as they put the finishing touches on the Imperial Sword.

    “You look uneasy commander,” came a voice, one of age and respect. “Is something troubling you?”

    “Emperor!” he bowed his head as he turned to the older man. “It is good to see you well.”

    “Rumors of my aged health have been greatly exaggerated,” he stated in an as-matter-of-fact sort of way. “Doctors… always trying to prolong our lives so that we might fight one more glorious battle. No, I am forced to say that there will be no more battles for me, but I am honored to see you follow in the steps of lIjHomta'.”

    “You give me too much honor my emperor, I am but a simple warrior of the empire.”

    “Do not look a gift targ in the mouth K’mot,” he said calmly. “Or it may bite your face off. lIjHomta' left us many generations ago, pointing to a single star and telling our forefathers that he could be found there. Now you go to the stars.”

    “It is only a test flight, a minor event.”

    “Cannot a drop of water shape the very mountains; this is but the first of many, I should think.”

    “Yes, Emperor.”

    “Well, I had better go before the Doctor comes after me,” the Emperor said, then lowering his voice. “If they ask, you didn’t see me, understand?”

    “Of course Emperor.”

    “And get some sleep; a warrior should be rested on the eve of battle.”

    The next day, as the sun rose over the First City down below, K’mot set in the control chair of the Imperial Sword. The craft was little more than a three man scout, armed with projectile explosive warheads and not much else. They didn’t expect to encounter a need for them, but it didn’t hurt to be prepared.

    “Control, this is the IKS Imperial Sword,” K’mot said into the communication system. “We’re leaving.”

    “Qapla’ Imperial Sword,” came the reply as K’mot activated the drive systems and moved the ship away from the dock on thrusters before shunting power into the main drive.

    The ship operated smoothly as they reached minimum safe distance when K’mot spoke again.

    “Activate the pIvghor,” he ordered, silently admitting to himself a certain level of excitement.

    The test flight went off without a problem, a two day flight to the edge of the tlhIngan system, then a return trip at half power. He knew the Emperor would likely be there to greet him personally, as well as the High Chancellor. And that the majority of the Klingon people would also be waiting for the results of their flight, and that many barrels of blood wine would be opened that night.

    “Now that we have reached the stars,” the Emperor said in a speech to welcome the ship back. “Our people will go out and conquer new worlds. It is the beginning of a new age of glory.”

    It had been several weeks since that first flight, and K’mot’s blood boiled to return as he sat in his home studying the workings of the ship. There had to be a way to make the new drive work better, to shorten the travel time between stars. As it stood, it would take years to reach the nearest star.

    He was so focused on his task that he almost didn’t notice the communication panel signal an incoming message.

    “Yes?” he said as he activated the unit.

    “You are needed at the Imperial Palace,” barked a member of the Imperial Guard.

    “Very well, I shall go shortly.”


    Before he could say another word, the screen went dark. K’mot quickly changed into proper attire for a visitor of the Imperial Palace, and called for his servants to make his personal craft ready.

    The Palace was an imposing sight, even after the many times K’mot had been there. It was built to strike fear into the hearts of any potential invader during a time when the Klingon people were fractioned, before the death of Molor. Not much had changed in architecture since then, but K’mot briefly wondered if that would change with this new technology.

    “What is it?” he demanded of the guard who met him at the main hall.

    “We’ve detected something at the extreme edge of our sensor range, moving towards us at fantastic speed,” the guard answered.

    “Any idea what it is?”

    “The Emperor will explain the rest.”

    “Commander K’mot,” the Emperor greeted. “How good of you to join us.”

    “I live to serve the Empire,” he replied. “May I ask what is going on Emperor.”

    “If I’m not mistaken, we’ve received a signal from someone not of this world.”

    “A signal?”

    The Emperor gestured to one of the people working in the room, a sort of control center that had been remodeled for the spaceflight experiments. The speakers crackled to life, static at first, but then relaying a distinct sound.

    “We aren’t sure what it is,” he explained. “It seems to be a language, but not one we are able to translate.”

    “What does this have to do with me?”

    “We also received this,” he stated, handing K’mot a data device.

    “Landing coordinates?” K’mot asked as he looked at the information. “I still don’t understand.”

    “It’s simple. Since you were the one in charge of the first mission, I think the only honorable thing to do is have you there when we meet them.”

    The alien vessel reached the planet in far less time than it took the Imperial Sword to reach the outer fringes of the solar system. Whoever the visitors were, they were obviously more advanced then the Empire. The alien vessel entered orbit, releasing a smaller vessel to enter the atmosphere which K’mot assumed to be a dedicated landing vessel. Their scans revealed that the power output was far greater than they were able to achieve themselves, proving that faster speeds were possible. He wondered what else they might learn from these visitors.

    The craft landed gently, lowering a ramp before the doors to the craft opened. What stepped out, however, was not what K’mot had expected.

    “They are bugs?” he heard one of the others ask.

    The alien approached them, holding a small cube in it’s (Would it be a hand? K’mot wondered.) K’mot stepped forward, standing as tall as he could to face a creature twice his height.

    “I am Commander K’mot of the Imperial Defense Force,” he stated. “To whom do I have the honor of speaking?”

    The box made several clicking and hissing noises, which the aliens seemed to understand as they responded in the same manner. After a moment the box took those noises and seemed to translate them with far more efficiency then anything the Empire could accomplish.

    “We… see flight. We… help.”

    “Help? In what way?”

    The creature revealed another piece of technology. ‘Perhaps a gift to the Empire?’ K’mot pondered.

    The creature pointed the device at K’mot, and a moment later K’mot was on his knees with pain moving through his entire body. ‘It’s a weapon,’ K’mot realized. ‘The beast shot me, and I didn’t even see it.’

    K’mot looked up at the creature as it spoke again.

    “We… are Hur’q. We… help ourselves.”

    (Authors Note: I took some liberty here. Most people seem to believe the Klingons were conquered by the H'urq prior to attaining spaceflight capabilities. However, I never saw a reason why they would do so. I think, as shown here, the first flight of the Empire is what drew the H'urq to them.)
  4. George1710

    George1710 Guest

    Your thought of making this thread is really very good.... I really appreciate all winning stories....
  5. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    November challenge winning entry: To betray in deepest consequence

    “On the other hand, they are just as likely to convince you to betray us!” Weyoun sneered.

    Legate Broca, formally of the Third order, son of the legendary Gul Herok Broca and now the leader of the glorious Cardassian Union, had picked a odd moment to have a sudden epiphany.

    This isn’t going the way I thought it would. Perhaps the alliance had not been the best of ideas and it should have been someone else here today. What do I do now? Broca knew that he had a reputation for a certain lack of intellectual rigour and that he was considered to have coasted on his families long and stalwart service to the Union, riding his father’s coattails into a Gulhood but he had also saw himself as a loyal and solid solider for whom authority was naturally obeyed. As he had been an efficient staff officer and maintained correct contact with his immediate superiors his passage to the dizzying heights of central command had been assured without the dangers of combat and the attendant risk of death.

    It just made sense to him that the Union needed those with the ability to take the long route and see the bigger picture; after all, anyone could command a Galor.

    It was only now that Broca could see just who he really was; a gutless coward so obsessed with maintaining his position and perks that he had allowed himself to become a pathetic puppet who was horribly complicit in the brutal murder of over two million of his fellow Cardassians.

    They are first son, before power, honour or any glory. We are Cardassians, it is our privilege and our duty to serve and protect them from all enemies, at any cost. Do not let any baubles and useless titles sway you from that righteous goal.
    You are a Cardassian my son. Now go and be that Cardassian that I know you can be...

    With his father’s final words ringing through his head, Enbak Broca made his decision and became a Cardassian once more.


    It was just a simple word. Oft misleading to so many and yet here delivered with the upmost sincerity. Unfortunately for the Founder and her Dominion lackeys, irony was not added to their genetically engineered souls. It was a mistake that would cost them dearly.

    Weyoun smirked in that irritatingly self satisfied way of his and turned towards his god. “You see, we can trust Broca, he has always been most loyal...”

    Before the vorta could continue his smug patronizing speech, the Legate made his move.

    There are many things that could and have been said about the sentient beings that originated from Cardassia Prime, the conniving ruthlessness, rampant arrogance and overt pomposity to name but a few and yet amongst all of those there was one salient fact often ignored.

    When seriously riled a Cardassian was a truly deadly killer.

    The Klingons had their Brak’lul, the Jem’hadar where born soldiers and even the humans when placed into a dangerous situation could become fearless warriors, but the Cardassians had one rare advantage that trumped all others.

    In times of great stress or combat the Cardassian body could force itself to undertake great feats of physical strength and dexterity for a short period. The Humans, who had a paler version of this ability, call it adrenaline but the Cardassians had no name for it, simply due to the very rarity of its occurrence.

    Whatever it was, Broca put it to very good use. He moved with a startling economy of grace, lunging directly at the closest Jem’Hadar, yanking his plasma rifle out of his hands and with a swift pivot, firing two deadly bolts into both spindly faced minions, killing them both. It had happened so fast that even the genetically engineered reflexes gifted onto two of the Founders finest were lamentably unable to react in time to save their own lives.

    Weyoun watched the bodies hit the floor and as his world came crashing down around him, there was only one thought cascading down his terrified soul. No, this should not be happening. I did not see that...

    His ruminations found themselves rudely interrupted by the full force of Broca's weapon slamming into his jaw, knocking him unconscious with a sickening crunch and sending the last clone of the celebrated Weyoun line crashing ingloriously to the hard cold surface of the Central Command.

    Broca could barely think at the time but even then, as he turned his weapon toward the hapless Founder, he had to wonder just why he had decided to keep the irritating little Vorta alive...

    For her part, the being known as the Founder Leader had finally found herself in the exact position that the Great Link had always feared, the scenario that drove them to create the Dominion and to impose their own permanent peace across the galaxy, a drive that had brought her here to this violent solid and her own ending, at which she was her own nemesis. The milliseconds seemed to pass like days for the decaying shapesifter as the being who was worshiped as a god across half a galaxy faced a brief eternity at the end of one of her own weapons.

    Unable to change appearance due to the crippling disease and isolated from her loyal servants, the supreme commander of the mighty Dominion had just one last card to play.

    Begging for her life.

    “Broca, I...”

    The Founders pleas were curtailed by the inarticulate roar of the temporarily insane Cardassian as he turned the rifle on the being that had caused his people all this pain and suffering, who had forced him to condone the massacre of his fellow Cardassians and through her people’s interference, had destroyed Cardassia’s vitality and strength.

    He fired dozens of high energy bolts into the ruined husk of the Founder never stopping until the floor itself was blackened and ruined, all the while screaming with all the pent up rage and self loathing that had been boiling up within him though the years.

    Suddenly Legate Broca came down to Prime as the murderous lust left his body, forcing him to stagger over to the main communication console and use its weight to keep himself in a manageable standing position. He looked around the bunker seeing the dead bodies strewn across the floor and the pile of ash representing the mortal remains of the founder in an incredulous trance.

    Broca slowly recovered from his excursion into madness and he began to realise the full force of what he had done. Not these murders, which had become for him an exercise in self preservation and a cathartic release, but the wretched entirety of his misbegotten life.

    Every act of sniveling, toadying, cowardly misdemeanors and embarrassing failure haunted him. Every time he had betrayed confidences for his own short term gain and hidden on the Homeworld whilst others had fought and died for his safety. Disgust gripped him and he directed the barrel directly at his worthless face, fully intending to commit a final act of redemption.

    That was when he happened to glance at the displays dotted around the command bunker.

    The battle in throughout the Cardassia system still raged on with the Federation Alliance being joined by the revolting Cardassian Fleet. Meanwhile, on Cardassia itself millions of Jem’hadar and their new Breen allies awaited instructions from the Founder...

    That’s when it hit him.

    Yes, so you’ll never be a warrior, with the same glory that your father had. But you’re not him; what you are is Enbak Broca, aide, organiser and bureaucrat.

    A slow smile spread across his face as he leaned over the console and got to work...
  6. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    Wikuon flinched unashamedly as another explosion tore through the bridge of the Battleship that he served on. He had no idea how any of this could have come to be, all he could see was the once mighty Dominion Expeditionary Force on the verge of suffering a massive defeat, and it was all due to those ungrateful Cardassians whose arrogant refusal to accept their place in the glory that was the Dominion which resulted in this humiliation.

    He seethed inwardly as he recalled the three Galor class Destroyers that had crept up on his rear and then fired a volley of plasma torpedoes into the shield generators, crippling his vessel and forcing him to hide amongst the fleet. Not an easy task when you’re one of the largest ships around as the pack of Klingon,Romulan and Cardassian warships headed their way could attest to.

    In an abstract way, he admired the Cardassian’s timing since it had expertly delivered near victory to the enemy and as one for whom betrayal and disloyalty were the bread and butter any successful coup de grace was enjoyable.

    As long as it doesn’t happen to oneself, he considered wryly grabbing hold of the command podium in order to stabilise himself from the constant rocking of the behemoth around him. “Second” barked First Gen’khom, “order Breen squadron omega to provide cover for us while we affect repairs.”

    The subordinate Jem’hadar worked the controls with practiced ease for a few seconds then, hissing with anger and a surprising level of fear turned to both the First and the Vorta administrator to make a troubling report.

    “Long range communications from Headquarters are down again, I can’t hail the rest of the fleet. The Breen ships seem to be ignoring all other Dominion ships and are taking a course out of the battle.”

    Wikoun refused to believe the ridiculous notion that the Second had essayed. “Preposterous!” he spat contemptuously. “Why would our allies abandon us?”

    He used his personal viewer to scan the conflict zone, noting with dismay the ruined order of battle and the increasingly battered Jem’Hadar vessels. He saw the Breen fleet attempting to leave the battle at high impulse, fleeing like the untrustworthy gutless cowards that they truly were.

    Stifling the automatic expletive that sprang to mind, Wikoun watched helpless as the Breen entered warp leaving the defenders of the Dominion to face an angry Alpha Quadrant alone. There was a certain joyless pleasure in watching the Breen taking horrendous losses in their retreat as it seemed that the aft impulse manifolds suffered an inconvenient susceptibility to weapons fire, something that the Alliance took impressive advantage of. Not to mention several of my more alert comrades mused the Vorta, having watched the Jem’hadar ships nearest to the Breen punishing them for such arrant treachery with a hail of polaron beams.

    Once the war is over we’ll deal with that scum. Shaking all thoughts of the Breen from his head Wikoun ordered the First to move the ship closer to her remaining sister vessels.

    “Still no news from HQ?” he asked, more in hope than expectation.
    The Second shook his massive head. “No sir must be Cardassian sabotage again. I shall keep trying.”

    Wikoun nodded, once again filled with pride in his Jem’hadar soldiers. “Very well, lock targets on...”

    He stopped midsentence as he saw a crippled K’vort cruiser approaching the main engine casing of his once proud dreadnaught at full ramming speed.

    “Never mind”

    As the ship erupted in flames around him, Wikoun’s last thought was that given the circumstances, perhaps being the last clone of his line was for the best...

    It had taken a few minutes but he had it down to a fine art form. Broca immediately sealed all the chambers throughout Central Command and quickly released a fatal dose of neurazine gas into each one. Unfortunately this meant the death of several other Cardassians but sadly this could not be avoided.

    Once I’m finished here I shall be joining them he thought without any bitterness or recrimination. Other than that, he had fabricated instructions for all Dominion ground troops to remain in their barracks and prepare for any possible invasion attempts. What a blessing the Cardassian mind was.

    With the Dominion in perfect disarray in both land and space Broca used one of the more obscure Cardassian encryptions to alert the troops that their oppressors had become completely vulnerable and open to sudden attack. Not that it was needed really, since the wanton destruction of Larkarin City had galvanised the revolutionaries massively but the welcome news that the Headquarters was out of commission had spread like wildfire and widespread assaults bedevilled the occupying forces. As an added element to the dance of death skipping across Cardassia, Broca unleashed the full power of the Central Defense Grid against the unsuspecting Dominion ships in orbit. All suffered existential loss within but seconds.

    Broca found a triumphant laugh escaping from his chest as he watched the viewscreen in sheer delight, if this carries on, we shall be free very soon.

    His smile became even wider when he realised just who was trying to get into the building.

    Looks like Damar is coming home.
  7. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    Legate Broca made ready for his illustrious predecessor...

    “Then the explosives that we brought aren’t even going to make a dent in it” Kira Nerys said with displeasure. She was crouched down in the ally surrounding the massive form of the Cardassian Central Command with a troop of Damar’s Rebels (as she had mentally dubbed them) desperately trying to find a way inside the fortress.

    “You see the problem” Garak murmured unhelpfully. Ekoor, the young gorr who had saved them from a Jem’hadar firing line earlier in what had been a most trying day so far looked around impatiently. “What do we do then?” he hissed urgently.

    All eyes turned towards the stoic figure seated in the middle of the group.

    Corat Damar, the former leader of the Cardassian Union and current living legend resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the obvious hero worship in the faces of his fellow Cardassians. Even Garak for Prime’s sake, he bemoaned internally. Why do they keep looking at me for the answers? I’m not their messiah, just a pissed off Cardassian!

    He cast off his worthless self pity and addressed his loyal army thusly; “I don’t know but I’m through hiding in basements.”

    For some inexplicable reason, this set Elim Garak off in a fit of barely suppressed laughter. Damar, irritated at the further display of eccentricity from the former Obsidian Order spy growled at the older man. “I fail to see what’s so funny, Garak...”

    Garak turned to him, his whole body shaking with mirth. “Isn’t it obvious? Here we are making ready to storm the castle...willing to sacrifice our lives in a noble effort to slay the Dominion beast in its lair and we cannot even get inside the gate!”

    The rest of them all stared blankly at him until the inherent absurdity of their situation sunk in. At which point they all dissolved into manic laughter. This lasted a few seconds before Kira could calm down enough to speak again.

    “We could just knock on the door and ask the jem’hadar to let us in...” This set off another round of laughter which was interrupted by the surprising sound of the heavy door in front of them opening with a loud boom.

    There was a stunned silence at this as everyone stared at the entrance in surprise which was only broken with Garak’s muttered comment.

    “Well major, it would seem that they heard you!”

    A few minutes later Damar and his group had walked in mystified confusion though the hallways and corridors of the headquarters, encountering nothing but dead Jem’hadar lying slumped across doorways and on the floors. They were all deeply puzzled until Damar recognised the distinctive smell of the Neurazine Gas.

    “Why would Weyoun have all the Jem’hadar killed?” One of the other Cardassians who had joined them asked. Damar snorted, “Perhaps he was sick of watching us die? Anyway that does not matter; we’re almost at the briefing room.”

    The door was still locked and Damar gestured to Ekoor who sprung into action laying several explosives at the base and sides of the heavily armoured entrance. Before he could finish his work, the door suddenly opened and the resistance was greeted with a shocking visage.

    Broca!”,Damar and several other outraged Cardassians yelled bringing their weapons to bear. The lanky Legate held up his arms and moved out of the way.

    “Before you shoot me, a fate that I truly deserve, please hear me out!” With outrage still brazing in his eyes Damar ordered everyone to lower their weapons. He strode up to the former puppet and hissed a dire warning to his successor.

    “This had better be good, traitor!”

    Broca maintained contact with Damar as he used his left arm to encompass the whole room. “You are of course right, Damar, to call me a traitor and I have indeed committed heinous crimes against our people; but I have tried to do my admittedly limited best to make some small atonements for my wrongdoing.”

    Kira laughed mockingly at this spineless Kuas Oakling. “Oh yeah, we can all see that, hiding in this room has really helped to free Cardassia!” Broca merely looked at her, lifting an eyeridge in that always annoying way that the Cardassians seemed to have mastered.

    “Maybe you aren’t looking close enough, commander.” He said.

    Frowning, Kira Neryrs of Bajor (and Starfleet pro term) glanced around the small room suddenly noticing the dead Jem’hadar and the ash pile before she alighted upon the recumbent form of that unmitigated bastard Weyoun.

    Garak looked at Broca with a seeming ...respect. “Was this you doing?” he asked in a low voice.

    “Yes, plus all the others throughout the building, not to mention the chaos with the garrison on Prime” Broca answered without false modesty.

    Ekoor glanced at the monitors quickly collating all the pertinent data therein. “He’s telling the truth, its chaos out there, the whole planet has risen up against our oppressors!” The bunker was rocked with glorious cheering as the rebels begun to celebrate, with some even busting into ‘Cardassia forever

    Sons and daughters of Cardassia stand with pride and strength...

    Damar had to put a swift halt to the premature rejoicing as he pointed to the main display showing the chaotic battle being fought above. “We have too much to do now before we can celebrate, our comrades are dying as we speak and our allies are still locked in battle with those dammed Jem’Hadar. We have much work ahead of us.”

    It was at that point that Weyoun finally recovered from his earlier beating. The sight that welcomed him was rather disconcerting, to say the least.

    “Well hello there!” said Damar, an eager smile on his face.

    Weyoun felt a terrible coldness run though his body. This will not go well for me. Thought the Vorta with a severe case of understatement...

    Days passed and amongst many other things, the blood soaked conflict known as the Dominion War finally ended.

    The abrupt surrender of the entire Dominion military sent ripples across the Alpha and Beta quadrants stunning Admirals, senators and ordinary citizens alike, it was discussed by the Chancellor of the august Klingon Empire as he took Bloodwine with a Captain and an Admiral whilst on Earth a Bolian President and his aide tried to work out just what had happened.

    Regardless, it was a time of great celebration and joy for most, although there were many exceptions to prove the rule.

    As he looked out at the ruins of a once great city, Gul Verak Djimas was left totally empty by the war’s climatic ending. He bent down to pick up a piece of the rubble, turning it over and over in his gray palms repeatedly. Dozens of other Cardassians, Humans and even Klingons picked their way across the desolate cityscape. Attempts to look for survivors had proven to be useless as the Dominion assault had been total.

    Two million Cardassians, sentient beings with loves, fears and desires, who had often just been concerned with providing for their families and serving their planet. Now utterly wiped from the universe by a depraved adversary.

    “Where did we go wrong Verak?”

    Dijmas dropped the piece of Lakaria and stared into the distance. He felt Ocett’s presence next to him but he could not find the words to meet her heartfelt query. Her boots caused a crunching sound as she stepped over rubble and detritus, moving into his eyeline as she looked towards the blackened patch of land where the fabled amusement centre used to stand. “I went there once” she said pointing at the wreckage “My father took me there before I...”

    Gul Malyn Ocett stopped mid sentence as the realisation struck her and the formerly implacable leader broke down in tears for her lost city and family. Dijmas found himself doing something unimaginable, something that no self respecting Gul would have ever done before. He moved to his fellow Lakarian and placed his arm across her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.

    They would soon recover and resume their roles as soldiers of a reborn Union but for now, they both mourned the past and looked to an uncertain future.

    It hung in the darkness of space, an artificial construction of solemn beauty or unholy terror depending upon whose opinion you sought. For over fifty long and heartbreaking years it had been the site of a brutal unremorseful struggle, in which the mere act of survival entailed extraordinary courage. Then, for four hopeful years it had been a gateway to a new era in exploration, both in the stars and the very souls of the people dwelling within. Soon after the terrible drums of war had sounded and it had become a fortress paying a heavy blood price to the altar of suffering. Now it once again stood on the cusp of a new and brighter age.

    Once it was known as Terok Nor, now with the hopes and dreams of ages gone and ages yet to be she basked in the brilliant glory of her new name; Deep Space Nine.

    Today history would once again embrace the station.
  8. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    It took place in the main briefing room, which had been especially decorated for this auspicious occasion. The flags of each of the victorious powers owned a place of pride along the walls. The noble eagle of the Romulan Star Empire, its dual Homeworlds firmly protected in its mighty talons, the blood red trefoil of the glorious Klingon Empire displaying the blood of the countless warriors who had given their lives over the centuries, and the serene blue flag of the august United Federation of Planets encompassing all the stars that sheltered under its loving benevolence.

    Two more flags joined the three victors, that of the host planet; that most heroic Third Republic of Bajor, the holy symbol of the Prophets representing the profound and enduring faith of the Bajoran people. Next to it was the flag of the most surprising member of the winning side in this war, the Union of the Cardassians. The sigil of that ancient and mysterious guardian of the legendary Tret Akleen himself, the hooded Galor, was the centrepiece of the illustrious banner of this most controversial nation state.

    The reason why the Cardassians had such a historic place on this very day stood at the head of the table, feeling very uncomfortable.

    Castellan Corat Damar stood quietly between Admiral William Ross of Starfleet and Chancellor Martok of the Klingon Empire. Damar had decided to forgone wearing his military uniform, feeling that it would bring too much negativity, especially here of all places. In fact he had made it his first order of business to retire from the Central Command and had planned to either disappear from public life or to stand trial for his actions.

    However the need to rebuild the damaged Union and to head off any attempts to infringe upon the sovereignty of same, had required firm leadership and who better to provide it than the legend of the Cardassian Rebellion himself?

    Thus, logic and firm reason resulted in a humble freighter Glinn continuing his bewildering rise to the top and to a former drunk failure of a dominion puppet now accepting the surrender of his once erstwhile allies.

    What an odd game fate plays with us all,
    Damar mused with a rueful inward smile.

    His ruminations were interrupted by the arrival of the Dominion signatories. Several unrecognisable Vorta along with two scowling Firsts slowly made their way to the opposite side of the table with the final member bringing up the rear, Weyoun.

    The now defunct senior administrator of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant stepped toward the centre chair never meeting the eyes of anyone present; his face was even paler than usual as he slumped in his chair, the very image of a broken, beaten man.

    “Shall we get started” he spoke in a bitter defeated voice.

    The hours passed swiftly as the treaty was finalized. Its resulting terms were, as to be expected, punishing for the invading Dominion. All ships and other military equipment and personnel to leave via the wormhole, no Jem’hadar boot was to remain in the Alpha Quadrant, with the evacuation to be completed within a standard Bajorian week. A number of senior leaders, including Weyoun would remain behind to undergo war crimes trials and the Dominion was to provide reparations to every party that had suffered through this war. Furthermore the Dominion would accept responsibility for all acts of terrorism and war crimes that could be directly attributed to either the Jem’Hadar,Vorta or the Founders.

    Since the issue of Cardassian war crimes would be dealt with separately by the four powers, the Dominion also had to accept de facto blame for the actions of its Breen allies since the Confederacy had not seen fit to send anyone to the signing.

    This fact had briefly united all present in mutual disgust at the Breen.

    Still, the final treaty signing went ahead without any complications, and as Weyoun signed the document, there seemed to be a general sense of accomplishment amongst all present.

    It was finally over.

    Admiral William Harold Ross picked up the Padd containing all the signatures that had been required to confirm the treaty and, with a glance around the room, the Starfleet Commander in Chief started to speak.

    “Four hundred years ago a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war...
    Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended.”

    He paused briefly to take a deep breath. The room remained in a state of deep contemplative silence as he continued;

    “We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph and from both we have learned that there can be no going back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we have won in war”

    Damar found himself struggling to maintain his composure as he dwelt upon the heartfelt speech by the admiral, myriad thoughts and emotions rampaging through his mind.

    He remembered all the millions of Cardassians who had lost their lives in this war, the worlds that had been devastated and the hash struggles that would follow the ending of this conflict. Then, other events, phrases and moments came to the forefront...

    Kira, her eyes locked on his as she caustically asked him in a voice devoid of all pity and feeling, “Yeah Damar, what kinds of people give those orders?”
    He had hated her with all the fire and passion in his soul, the causal heartlessness, the complete arrogance. How dare she, how DARE she! Damar stood glaring into her eyes with disgust before silently walking to the cockpit of the runabout, not ready to face the loss of his wife and son.
    In the end it was Rusot’s death that had begun the change, once again he gunned someone down in cold blood but this time something better would arise from his ruthlessness. And that night, in an empty compartment of their captured ship, Corat Damar wept for the first time as he accepted the bloodprice for his terrible actions as he mourned the loss of so many, including a certain young women whose only crime was to follow her heart . Something that Corat Damar of Cardassia had never done before...

    As he came out of the darkness of his wounded psyche he found that Ross’s powerful words had provided him with the final inspiration he needed. It would be a long and hard road but both he and his people would make that journey across the darkness into the light, he vowed solemnly to himself.

    Weyoun slowly made his way up from his chair and with a surprising serenity, chose to respond to the Human’s impassioned entreaty.

    “It is my fervent hope and desire that day will mark the end of the cruelty and evil of this war, a war that has cost us all too dearly. In signing this treaty, the Dominion will take its first steps towards true cooperation with the rest of the galaxy and, we shall do whatever it takes to achieve that most noble of goals. And, though it may mean little to all who have lost so much, I hereby apologize for the actions of our people, during this war and throughout our contact with you.”

    The Vorta had spoken earnestly, without a trace of his former artifice and mockery. His understated yet powerful words had every single being there present reacting with a surprised feeling of relief and even admiration for the moral courage of their former foe. Silence still reigned as the Dominion delegation made a slow and dignified exit.

    Understandably no one spoke or even moved for what seemed forever until on voice broke though the contemplative air.

    “I think that this calls for a celebration!” said Damar who was surprisingly upbeat having just made a series of crucial decisions that would create a whole new epoch for his people.

    Now, he defiantly needed a drink...
  9. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    Thank Oralius that the treaty signings went off without a hitch, thought the new head of the Cardassian Central Command, makes my job a whole lot easier. Not that it would be a barrel of laughs anyway, as Verak Dijmas was just finding out for himself.

    Sighing softly to himself, the newly minted Legate studied the complicated arrangement on the main viewer. He saw the Union, bruised and shaken by war but undeniably, indefatigably whole.

    This meant that the overstretched fleet had to work itself to the bone in maintaining the order and sovereignty of their territory, a task made somewhat less onerous by the success of the Dorvan V treaty. The DMZ was no more, with all the Federation colonies either rejoining the UFP or establishing themselves as independent entities, meanwhile the Cardassian worlds had all opted to rejoin the Union with the surprising addition of several bordering worlds.

    Already teams of Cardassian diplomats traveled to each sovereign world surrounding the Union hoping to achieve successful relations. If they follow Ambassador Garak’s successes then we should have a large measure of external security. Since foreign affairs were beyond his preview, the Legate turned his attention back to the trouble spots of his nation.

    “Have Gul Erem take the Netork and the Betak to Harkourm and investigate any possible mercenary activities. Check with JaGul Occett on the status of our joint excises with Starfleet and I want hourly updates on that convoy headed to Europa Nova.”

    He inhaled and prepared to bark out another string of orders when an amused voice stopped him in his tracks.

    “You do know that it is not a requirement of a Legate to lose his voice do you? Believe me; I’ve dealt with more than a few in my time.”

    Dijmas turned and smiled warmly at his friend and much needed ally.

    “Akellen, I did not except to find you here today! What brings you to these dusty old halls?”

    Gul Macet of the Second Order clasped his superiors hand firmly and grinned. To millions of people such a sight would have been distasteful and it would have filled them with disgust just to hear the merest sound of his voice. Luckily Macet was a far better man than his mysteriously disappeared cousin and he had gained the respect of many for his honesty and integrity.

    “The Trager is undergoing further repairs and I thought that I would give my crew some much needed relaxation, plus there is the trial of course.”

    Legate Dijmas felt a sour depression as he remembered the much publicised war crimes tribunal that began in several rotations. He had thrown himself into his work with abandonment even going so far as to avoid the trial of Weyoun and the other dominion leaders. He did not want to think about that day when he had seen his city in ruins...

    Well, enough of this self pity Dijmas rebuked himself, time to get on with things; Cardassia was not rebuilt in a day! He looked at Macet and chucked. “I think that you might be one of the wisest men I know Akellen. Come, join me for some kanar and we shall talk of brighter things! How is young Mekor doing...?”
  10. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    He sat in the cell, listening to the hum of the forcefield, his eyes closed and his body relaxed. Enbak Broca, once a hated minion and traitor, a man who had climbed the dazzling heights of legateship, was now just a prisoner of the state.

    This, as far as he was concerned, was a perfect justice.

    He heard the sound of several boots approaching his location and as he forced his eyes awake, he saw who had come for him. “It’s time” said Castellan Damar softly.

    Broca gracefully stood up and walked to the entrance to his cell patiently awaiting his fate. He looked towards the newly elected leader of Cardassia with expectancy, sure that he wasn’t going to have to wait long for the verdict.

    He was right.

    A scarce few years ago and Damar would have gleefully shot dead the man in front of him with no moral disquiet and then dumped the body in a landfill outside the capital. Now, he found that he honestly regretted the news that he had to bring.

    “You have been found guilty of the following charges by a supreme tribunal of the Cardassian Union. Firstly that you did, with malice aforethought, collude in the deaths of over two million Cardassian citizens. Secondly that you did knowingly collaborate with a foreign power in the subjugation of the Union and her citizens. And finally for the crime of leading Cardassia in a war of aggression against the entire Alpha Quadrant. The sentence for which is death.”

    At that last Damar met Broca’s glance with an apologetic look. Both men knew that there was an expedient hypocrisy in these brutal charges, Damar had led the Union for a longer period than Broca and his hands were just as stained with the blood of the innocent.

    Unfortunately since the true architect of this disaster, Skrain Dukat, was missing from the known universe; someone had to be the scapegoat for this terrible failure.

    Damar was now an icon to his people, his fate and cruel punishment was to live for them, a burden that he had happily embraced.

    As had Broca, who finally welcomed his own destiny in the grand scheme of things. He calmly crossed over the threshold and took the first steps into glory.

    Legate Enbak Broca had found his Place.

  11. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    December Challenge: True Originals
    The challenge -to create a fanfic that is populated with only your own original characters.


    It was the last place in the universe anyone would want to be. People did not come to this place by choice. They came by necessity. Sometimes by accident. Sometimes it was the only option open to them. For some it was a refuge. For some it was a hiding place. For some it was a stopover. For some it was a hellhole they could never escape. For most it was the edge of the Frontier. They knew it to be the beginning of the Border Lands, that wild and chaotic region of space that knew no government and knew no rules. For some this place then was a vestige of civilisation and law and order. In reality it was a miasma of criminals, refugees, hard luck stories and wild adventurers.

    “Welcome ... to Jericho Station ... cough ... hack ...agh!” The cragged Ferengi coupled over in haggard coughing, hacking up an undesirable sight which he deposited at the feet of a black clad Vulcan female and smartly dressed Cardassian male. When he was quite finished he smiled through gnarled yellow teeth and whistled a breath of vile air at his passengers at the airlock.

    The Vulcan woman closed her eyes and nose to the sight and onslaught. She turned to take in the sight in front of her. The dark and dank surrounds of the frontier outpost known as Jericho Station. One of the Federation Alliance’s furthest and most far flung outposts. Judging by the interior, a dull and dreary claustrophobic foreboding presence to many of the place’s first time visitors,

    She noted a rather casually uniformed lieutenant come bounding up to them. “Lovely, Phlegm. Just lovely.” The enthusiastic lieutenant beamed a very warm smile at the visitors to the station. His face was unshaven and his hair straggly and he very much cut the rugged hunk. As an aside for the Ferengi to overhear he told the visitors, “Never mind our lovely friendly neighbourhood Ferengi. I think I’ll make a better tour guide than he.”

    Stopping from picking his nose the hairy eared Ferengi harangued, “Eh! What about giving me a tip?”

    Despite herself, the Vulcan pass remarked. “I suggest you take avail of a bath.”

    “A pity that pretty mouth of yours is so smart. Bleedin’ Vulcans. We were best being rid of the lot of you!” He looked as though he were going to spit on the Vulcan who looked upon him as though he were a disgusting bug.

    “Phlegm! Take your credits and go.” Phelgm greedily grabbed at the handful of gold pressed latinium coins and quick as a flash squirrelled them away under his cloak. He did not bother to wave them goodbye but tossed the last of their crates out of the airlock hatch and closed the door without ceremony to them. Dale assisted the quiet Cardassian to pick up the pieces of luggage. He offered an apologetic appeasement to the travellers. “I must apologise. He’s rather an acquired taste. However, there are not many that will brave the journey out as far as the Border Lands.”

    “Our flight was uneventful.” The statement implied that the bravery of the Ferengi could be questioned. Knowing Phelgm as he did, Dale Garrow did doubt it but did not doubt the man’s greed, thus motivation for making the perilous journey.

    “That I gathered by your making it here. Trust me, if it had been eventful we would never have heard of you again. By and by, my name’s Dale Garrow. I presume you are ...”

    “To presume would be a breach of security lieutenant.”

    “Then by all means identify yourself.”

    Her look was haughty and her tone echoed it as she awaited for him to pull out the security padd check. Into it she directed her clearance code. “I am Dr. Ajshea, Starfleet security code Shrika-3-4-C-7-Omega-6.” Garrow himself held the device aloft carelessly. It seemed protocol was not a priority despite the claims about how dangerous this region of space was.

    The Cardassian spoke. “I am Braham Oses. Starfleet security code Detla-9-Epsilon-4-2-8-Shrika.” His voice was courteous and soft and yet held your attention. “Are things really that desperate out here?”

    Shrugging the items he carried into a better position, Dale explained good naturedly. “That they are. Pirates, smugglers and slavers, bounty hunters, rampaging Klingons, skulking Rommies, the ... ahem ... the Union Forces.” Dale looked carefully sideways at the Cardassian lest he had trampled on any potentially political animosity. There apparently were none by the stoic expression the Cardassian bore. The thought crossed Dale’s mind that perhaps the Cardassian was as amenable as he seemed or perhaps the Vulcan woman had a greater impression on him. Dale’s voice which had been light and breezy numerating the many dangers that were out in the Border Lands turned cold and serious as he added a final, “and of course ... them.”

    The change in tone and the gravity of his words did not seem to affect the slim striking Vulcan. “Have there been any confirmed sightings? Until then all manner of talk about ‘them’ is pure speculation.”

    “Oh don’t me wrong a fair share of the rumours about them are just that – rumours! It helps to keep the fringes of the Alliance that little more wild and helps the pirates and slavers and warlords to have their way and keep control. With our resources spread so thin policing this region of space is not exactly high on the agenda.”

    They started threading their way through the bustling promenade. Neon lights and orange spots illuminated the thoroughfare in a macabre almost gloomy light. The many soiled and uncouth residents of the vicinity only adding to the destitute impression the station was having on the two travellers. The two strangers were both being cast at the least dubious looks by those they passed by. And outright hostile looks by the others. In particular, murderous looks were given to Ajshea who walked on oblivious to the hostility she engendered.

    A little cagey at the attention they were garnering Braham stated, “I had thought the Federation Alliance was beginning to make a concerted effort to do so.” He gave the intimidating looks a thin smile but feared that perhaps someone would act on revenge and lash out at Ajshea.

    “Maybe in more important and profitable places than Jericho, Dr Oses. Welcome to the frontier. You left civilisation behind you by a long mile. And heck going by the recent feeds, civilisation isn’t that pretty.”

    Striding ahead, the Vulcan reprimanded, “Our purpose here is not to make idle chat or make speculations about the political strife in the inner core.”

    Braham apologised on her behalf. “Excuse Ajshea, Mr. Garrow. She is eager to see the station commander and be underway with our mission.”

    “Perhaps you would let me lead the way then.”

    She stopped short whirring round on the lieutenant. “I assume that the commander is on the command level. Therefore, following the directional signs will suffice.”

    “Ah well ... he is not exactly on the command level.”

    She raised a withering eyebrow at him. “Then where is he?”

    “He is only a level up on Bazaar One.”

    “That like this level is a venue for commercial enterprises, entertainment, salacious activities and drinking establishments is it not?”

    Garrow looked discomfited as he had to explain the curious whereabouts of the station’s commanding officer. “Well Bazaar Two is aimed for a more shall we say downmarket crowd. Bazaar One has a more ‘discerning’ clientele.”

    The sarcasm dripped off her tongue. “How reassuring it is to know that the commander is discerning.”

    “Yeah.” He trailed off into nervous laughter thinking that only reason the commander was on Bazaar One was because he had recently won big in the casino. A profit the station commander was quickly ploughing through in the more expensive establishments of Bazaar One instead of his usual haunts on Bazaar Two.

    “Take us to him then forthwith.”

    Dale was perturbed at the idea of interrupting the Commander in the middle of whatever more discerning activities he might be engaged in. “Would you sooner not be brought to your temporary quarters?”

    “We intend for the temporary quarters to be very temporary. In fact we intend to have no need for them. Our arrangements were made well in advance and we expect the fullest co-operation for our mission. If it is too much to expect to be met by the ranking officer on the station I can at least assume that the matter of our mission arrangements has been met.”

    “Ah ... as to that, I do not wish to speak for the Commander.” Dale nervously sidestepped the issue doubtful of any such efficiency on the commander’s part. “This way please.”

    She sniffed with an evident air of dissatisfaction.

    * * *​

    The Willing Wench brought another sniff of dissatisfaction from the Vulcan as they stood outside it. The garish blue and purple neon lighting did little to create the impression of an upmarket establishment for a discerning customer. She voiced that opinion loudly before they entered.

    “It is more discerning not for the soft furnishings but rather for the ... ahem ... attentive ... the erm quality ... the looks of ...”

    Oses smiled thinly but honestly as he tried to appease Garrow. “Please Lieutenant do not discomfort yourself from explaining. We do not seek to cause you embarrassment.”

    “Nor is there a need, it is clear that this is a brothel of some kind, a rather dubious kind. The male of a species is truly a pathetic specimen.” Her contempt was clear and under her breath Dale heard her mutter something along the lines of ‘unbridled passions’.

    Dale ignored the woman and entered into the bar and after looking around approached a figure. “Ahem. I was wondering where Commander Anthbek is?”

    The voluptuous landlady of the establishment trailed off from laughing and giggling in the lap of drunken Bolian. “Oh Mr Garrow. It has been awhile since you’ve paid me a visit.”

    Garrow blushed and gave a furtive sideways look at the two who accompanied him. “Heh! I guess my Starfleet pay check doesn’t stretch to such luxuries Lili.”

    “Tut, tut.” She stood up from the Bolian’s lap and came up to him, grabbing the lapels of his open uniform jacket. “We should always treat ourselves – the joy is always worth it.” She gave the two strangers an appraising look. “I see you haven’t brought me any willing customers. What’s the deal Dale?”

    “A matter for the Commander. An urgent matter.”

    “He has other pressing matters on his mind and body at present.”

    “Out the back?”

    “Of course Dale, I like to run a discrete establishment.”

    “This is ridiculous.” The Vulcan woman rolled her eyes and stepped towards the entrance that led ‘out the back’. Lilli quickly stepped in front of her, arms out declaring the way blocked. Ajshea arched a disapproving and irked brow at the woman’s actions.

    “Sorry hon’ but nobody goes through those doors without gracing my palm with the appropriate coinage.” For effect she extended her hand baiting the Vulcan to pay her so.

    Ajshea gave the hand an offended look and wrinkled her nose. The disgust on her face clearly implied that she felt sullied by even being in the presence of the woman. “I will not grace your hand with anything. I have no idea where it has been. I am not your hon’ nor am I one of your pathetically bridled customers. I have no need to avail of the sexual services you ply here. I am a Vulcan.”

    “Well hon’ I’ll see you at some point in the next seven years then shall I? I got that you were a Vulcan. The pixie ears and dreadful bowl cut hair do where the most obvious signs until you opened that pretty mouth of yours and I realised you to be a stuck up, sanctimonious, arrogant bitch. Then I knew for sure you was a Vulcan.”

    “If I have need to sate my sexual urges I can do so for free. Yours is a tawdry business and I have no need to pay you for any services you have to offer. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to talk to Commander Jorga Anthbek.”

    “He would be out back. So it would seem you need to go back there.” Lilli permitted herself a victoriously smug smile.

    Ajshea breathed heavily through her nose before stepping back from the woman and the doorway. She looked the woman up and down carefully as if weighing up her chances in a fight. Lilli for her part fingered a small ivory handle blade at her waist whilst she signalled for her doormen to come over to her.

    Ajshea carefully considered the situation and took a further step back before she hollered at the top of her voice, “COMMANDER JORGA ANTHBEK!”

    Lilli protested as she rounded on the Vulcan. “Now you listen here you pointy eared witch! I will not have you disturbing the peace of my establishment.” From the corridor behind the door a commotion was heard and a lot of cursing to boot.

    Oses stepped up to Ajshea and carefully guided her back from the landlady’s ire. The scene was obviously distressing to someone of his demeanour. He wanted to quell the situation but Lilli’s continued screams were not easily placated. The doormen also interjected causing Dale Garrow to now step in and try to restore some order to the ensuing brawl.

    “What in the name of all that is cold and holy is going on out here?” From the door stormed a dishevelled middle aged Andorian, almost tripping over his unbuttoned trousers.

    In her most conceited voice, Ajshea declared, “Commander Anthbek. I have need to speak with you urgently to matter pertaining to the security of the Federation Alliance.”

    “Is that all! I was in the middle of...”

    “I do not wish to speak of what you were in the middle of. We will speak. Now!”

    Commander Anthbek zipped up his trousers with a sharp tug, implying his patience was run out. He only managed to snag ‘himself’ very painfully. Anthbek bent over in pain as Lilli rushed to attend him. After wincing and crossing his legs, Dale Garrow also came up to his commander.

    Again Braham tried to be the pacifier to the disarray. “Or at the most convenient moment for the Commander. The matter is of much import.”

    “Now might be the best time to discuss matters as he will surely now be thinking with his brain and not his...”

    * * *​
  12. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    Oses leaned in to speak into her ear. “Ajshea, I think it best to not aggravate the situation.”

    Ajshea broke from studying the walls of the Commander’s office. “Aggravate the situation? How ever do you mean?”

    “I mean to say that our initial meeting with Commander Anthbek did not go well and our mission is of vital importance to derail with any personal animosities. We need his help to even begin our mission. If we are ever to learn about the threat ‘they’ pose we need to be able to secure a vessel and a crew to help us undertake our research and to test our weapon.”

    “I am fully cognisant of what the mission parameters are and the necessity of securing a ship and a crew. I am also fully aware that we have orders for the Commander from Starfleet and he will have no choice but to follow those orders regardless of any personal animosities.”

    “Be that as it may, it will expedite matters if we can make this meeting go more smoothly and not allow emotional baggage to bar the way to progress.”

    “I am Vulcan. I don’t do baggage Braham.”

    Recalling the barb thrown by Lilli in the Willing Wench, Oses could not help but look at the woman’s pointed ears. A look caught by Ajshea who cast a withering look at him in return.

    The doors parted to permit the entrance of the large framed Andorian. He looked a little less dishevelled than before given the chance to dress properly. However, with his rounded gut and his cautious gait as he walked gingerly to his desk and sat even more gingerly into his chair, he did not exactly impress the Vulcan woman any further on second meeting.

    Dale Garrow followed with a large tub of ice-cream and spoon, which he handed to the Commander. Ajshea was about to comment about how she figured he had gained the rounded gut when Anthbek tossed the spoon onto the table and sighed in deep satisfaction and relief as he placed the cold ice-cream onto his crotch area.

    “Don’t get too snitchy Vulcan! If it weren’t for you I would not have need for such measures. I want no more smart talk from you or any moral lectures. What I do in my private time is my private business.”

    “I shall keep tight-lipped even if you cannot keep it zipped.” She smiled sweetly and gratingly at him. For a long moment he felt the urge to throw the large tub of ice-cream at her.

    “We have much to discuss Commander. We apologise for the urgency for our meeting but our orders from Starfleet are clear. The sooner we can be sorted the sooner we can be underway.”

    “That is a most appealing notion Mr. Oses. You both have only been on my station for less than an hour and already you have caused considerable disruption.”

    Rolling her eyes, Ajshea rejoined, “I am sure the brothel in question is the source of many brawls and disturbing scenes. I think our presence hardly constitutes anything scandalous to the inhabitants of this ... place.”

    Anthbek bristled at her manner. “The very fact that a Vulcan walks the corridors of this station constitutes enough of a scandal in the eyes of many. After the action of Vulcan in the Onslaught I am surprised a lynch mob did not grab you and spare me the pain of ever meeting you.” He turned to Oses before Ajshea could begin to formulate a response. “And having a Cardassian not in Starfleet uniform walking the corridors alongside said Vulcan hardly soothes the passions of the mob any.”

    “Our credentials have been verified by your ... security.”

    “I am aware of that.” The Commander adjusted the tub of ice-cream as he leaned forward and joined his hands on the table. “I am also aware that Starfleet dropped the ball on this one. Otherwise, I am inclined to believe they purposefully decided to not inform me that I would be hosting a Vulcan aboard my station. Had I known, I would have had you dock secretly and out of sight.”

    “Any antagonism towards me based solely on my being Vulcan is unimportant as well as racial and ignorant.”

    “Oh I’m sure once people get to know you they don’t want to hang you simply because you are a Vulcan.” The dig either went over her head or she chose to ignore it. “But the fact remains, a good deal of people hold a deep, deep resentment, nay hatred towards any Vulcan.”

    “I am able to defend myself from any trouble makers Commander. I also do not intend to be here for very long. If we could get to the crux of the matter of our business.”

    “The security and order of this station is my business. The recklessness with how you have paraded yourself about these corridors is a threat to the security and good order of it.”

    “I believe you over estimate the hostility of the station’s inhabitants.”

    “I don’t doubt it. I doubt they will act upon it themselves however. Instead my biggest worry is that they will try to cash in on your presence. Already there may be bounty hunters en route to bag you. Some will pay handsomely for those pointy ears of yours.”

    “Degrading your argument to petty superficial racial physical traits is deplorable and unproductive.”

    He continued as if he had not been interrupted. “I’d be willing to hand you over for free and damn the reward. And if it comes to it, I may have to. If the Klingons, Gorn or the Romulans were to come for you in any kind of force, I would have little choice but to turn you over.”

    “The notion that Klingons, Gorn and Romulans hunt down and capture Vulcans in revenge is but a scare tactic employed to keep Vulcans away from the frontier and indeed to try to confine them to their colonies.”

    “It is no scare tactic. Be sure of that. Your method to deal with ‘them’ in the final days of the Onslaught was to devastate whole solar systems. You used that murderous mantra that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few to excuse the obliteration of millions of lives in an instant.” He punctuated his remarks with a sudden sharp click of his fingers.

    “The nonsense of not referring to them by name is both superstitious and petty. The Vulcan Academy’s solution to the Onslaught was unprecedented but necessary. It was no excuse but a perfectly valid final solution to deal with the Spawn. Had the Vulcan Science Academy not taken its action the Spawn would have continued to devour systems and eradicate all life within the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. The final solution was radical and unprecedented. But so too was the threat to life unparalleled. The complete and utter destruction of the Spawn Hives was the only means of stopping the Spawn.”

    Spewing angry spittle, the Commander railed against the Vulcan’s impassive demeanour as she candidly explained away the immense devastation. “And so what if it cost millions upon millions of lives, destroyed worlds and rendered whole sectors impassable. And let us not forget your mission here goes to show that the final solution has proven far from final!”

    “It was a terrible price Commander however we need to focus on the now.” Oses tried to bring the heated exchange of words to an end. He turned in his chair and appealed to Ajshea. “Let us focus on the mission and on the future.”

    “You are correct of course, Oses. Commander.”

    The Commander gave her a long look. His antennae twitched upwards and pirouetted in agitation. “You wear black eyeliner around your eyes. Does that not mean you are a Redmeptorist? Does that not mean you are sorry for the actions your people took with their final solution?”

    “I do and I am.”

    “Well you don’t sound terribly sorry with your mealy mouthed words and petty excusing for the mass extermination of life.”

    “I do not believe that the actions of the Science Academy were the proper course. I believe that other viable options were available. I do not however apologise for what they did. It is illogical for me to profess sorrow for actions that were not of my doing and beyond my control. It is illogical for me to try to account for their mistakes or for their success in ridding us of the Spawn for so long.”

    “Talk about having your cake and eating it! That is a pile of crap!”

    Ajshea was about to indignantly remonstrate with Commander Anthbek when the doors to the office burst open and a voice declared, “Oh Georgie!”

    The party swung their attention in the direction of the seductive voice. From the doorway, outlined in the spilling light, a leather clad leg and boot propped itself on a short bar stool. The silhouette showed a figure that was strong and toned. At the fulsome hips a pair of holstered pistols hung. At her shoulders a fur trimmed black leather jacket with an outrageous animal print did little to distract from the effusive head of tightly curled hair that played free and flowing.

    She stood proudly and with an allure with her hands on her hips. Even with her face in shadow it seemed evident that she was grinning, nay preening at the attention she garnered.

    “Tabatha ‘Don’t call me Tabby’ Katherine Chase.” She stepped into the office as she declared herself, extending a hand as she neared them. “Most pleasing to make your acquaintance.”

    Looking at the extended hand as if it were something radioactive, Ajshea refused to shake it and instead ignoring the introductions went straight to asking, “Why would I call you Tabby?”

    Under his breath Jorga Anthbek sarcastically whispered, “Vulcans, don’t you just love them?”

    “Indeed,” Tabatha declared smiling widely and placing her manicured nails on her hips, “why would you call me Tabby?”

    Ajshea persisted. “Indeed why?”

    “Why indeed?” Tabatha shrugged in return.

    Ajshea informed her brusquely, “You raised the issue in the first instance.”

    Tabatha winked and smiled as she answered, “Only to avoid the matter becoming an issue.”

    “Which obviously failed.”

    “Not really. You know not to call me Tabby now. Click, click.” She made guns out of her pointed fingers as she made the noise and winked simultaneously with it.

    “This woman is wasting our time. Is there a purpose for her permitting her being here and interrupting this meeting?”

    Tabatha pretended offence. “Well nice to meet you too.”

    Jorga forgetting the spectacle of Tabatha stood in the midst of his office said declaratively to the Vulcan, “Tabatha earns a right to be here. You needn’t pull military protocol on me, as you are only a civilian yourself Miss Ajshea.”

    Again, indignant, Ajshea started, “I am a ...”

    He stated roundly, “I’m well aware of what you are.”

    “Andorians have always been known to be belligerent. I see that you live up to that reputation.”

    Jorga snarled, his antennae quivering in barely controlled rage, “You think me belligerent? You haven’t seen me belligerent Vulcan. You may be a Redemptorist Vulcan but it holds no clout with me. The black eyeliner around the eyes is but make up. It does little to make amends for the crimes you committed in the name of logic, expediency and supposed mercy.”

    “I will not stand here and ...”

    Oses stepped in again and tried once more to placate matters. He stood now to try and gain both of their attentions. “Commander Jorga, we all have difficulties with what has passed. Our mission is what is vital. What can and may save the future.”

    Somewhat aggrieved at being forgotten and cast aside, Tabatha Chase o’ed in fascination. “Sounds fascinating. Do tell.”

    Oses’ scales would have blushed at his indiscretion. The situation was not what he was use to. “I cannot. It is a classified matter.”

    Tabatha tousled the bangles of curls before closing one eye to size them both up and pointed a long slender finger at each of them. “You’re civilians are you not?”

    “Yes. We are. But with a mission brief from Starfleet.”

    “Starfleet conducting missions out on the Border Lands?” She cocked a leg and leaned on one hand on her hip as she looked at the two of them surprised at such exoticness wrapped up in two rather serious figures. Though it she reprimanded to herself it shouldn’t have been too unexpectant considering that most Cardassians within the Federation Alliance stayed to their own territories unless actively serving in a Starfleet role. As for the sight of a Vulcan, especially one so striking and sensuous wandering about the Border Lands, Tabatha was just bowled over. “My, my, how very much more interesting.”

    “Yet none of your business.” Ajshea stood now to assert her command. She turned to Jorge seated still behind his desk. “Commander, any issues you might have with me are insignificant in light of our mission. It behoves you to set aside any resentments and focus on the mission at hand. Let us begin by ridding ourselves of the presence of this woman and consider the details in private and secret.”

    “That won’t be possible.”

    “Oh Georgie. I love it when you stick up for me. However, you can go play nice with these people and I’ll see to other business I have on Jericho before we discuss your little proposition.”

    “The matter of your proposition is the matter of the mission we speak of.”

    “Oooo... do tell.” Tabatha smiled with a curious inkling and yet at the back of her mind was a nagging concern.

    Ajshea must have begun to make certain logical assumptions too as she pressed of the commander, “Clarify.”

    Jorga lorded it over the Vulcan happily as he set the tub of ice-cream aside. “What? Did you expect to get a starship and a crew from my meagre supplement and swan off into the Border Lands?”

    “Our mission was cleared by Starfleet Command.”

    “Yes it was cleared. The specifics of it were not. As the commanding ranking officer in the region it befell me to make it as practicable as possible. To that end, meet your skipper!”

    * * *​
  13. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    “My what?” Ajshea declared.

    In the same breath Tabatha also declared, “Excuse me Georgie but I haven’t agreed to anything.”

    The two of them began protesting at Anthbek over each other. Tabatha continued in a toying mood to begin. “Money up front I always say.”

    While Ajshea continued ranting, “This is a Starfleet mission. It cannot be compromised by being subcontracted to some dubious civilian cargo hauler.”

    As she picked up on the accusation cast by Ajshea, Tabatha addressed the Vulcan, “I am not some dubious civilian cargo hauler. I am Tabatha Katherine Chase, the finest starship captain you are ever likely to meet.”

    Ajshea was unimpressed with any such claims as she forged on with talking over the woman. “I resent a vital mission of extreme importance and my being farmed out to some rank amateur with a penchant for dressing ludicrously and scandalously. Perhaps she should look for gainful employment on Bazaar One!”

    “Rank amateur! My ship is the fastest most well armed in the quadrant, it could turn circles around anything Starfleet has to offer. I made the Denobulan run in...”

    “Shut it the both of you!” The two women stopped short at the loud bellow from the Commander. The silence lasted only a moment before they started speaking again.

    “Bazaar One!” She looked for an instant offended before turning on Jorge. “You were visiting Lilli’s again Georgie.”

    Ajshea tried to score one more point. “I am mistaken. Apparently, Bazaar One is for more discerning customers.”


    “Oh psst Georgie.” Tabatha announced. “I kinda like ears here. She’s feisty. I like feisty.”

    Gaining her approval disgusted the Vulcan. “I like professionalism, a degree of decorum and someone who exudes authority.”

    Before Tabatha could continue the tit for tat, Jorge interjected, “I don’t give a damn. I need to get you off my station as soon as! As for you Tabatha – don’t call me Georgie. You know I hate it.”

    “Yes, but you don’t say that when you introduce yourself, so how is a person to know.” She winked in turn at him and then at Ajshea. “Anyway, her protests are all mute until such time as you can convince me of whatever your harebrained proposition is. Money talks after all.”

    “I do not believe someone motivated by profit is going to be of use to our mission.”

    At this, the quiet Oses spoke up. “I must profess Commander Anthbek that I am uncertain that is a viable option. The mission itself is quite likely perilous and open ended, requiring a long term commitment and investment that will require a dedicated and purposeful crew. Meaning no offence to Miss Chase.”

    “That’s right, I’m not married.” She patted his posterior and ran her fingers through his slick jet black hair. “Though he makes a point about our deal Jorge, the danger and peril not so much an issue, in fact it kinda excites me. But the open ended nature makes it sound like an ongoing contractual affair. Which could become a bit of a bore. So, I think I might pass up on this one. See ya!” She wagged her fingers as she started leaving the room.

    “Tabatha! Their mission is to find the Spawn.”

    She stopped at the doorway. She turned slowly. Shocked and incredulous at what the Commander had proclaimed. The playful tone in her voice was dropped. Instead her voice was grave. “Are you serious? You intend to simply go off looking for them! What? Do you all think it some sort of safari hunt deal? Let’s jaunt about for a bit and hope we trip over one of them.”

    “Let me explain the particulars to you. Alone. If you will excuse me.” He bid Ajshea and Oses to leave the office. Ajshea wanted to protest but Oses firmly led her out into the general gallery area that looked down to a level below wherein the lay the hub of Jericho’s station controls.

    The curving gallery corridor was lined with other offices and a conference room with a number of stairs leading down into the circular command hub. At one time it was cool, glass lined and light. Now it was a grimy run down station centre with other priorities than the aesthetics of its interior.

    At the doors to the Office there were a number of torn upholstered seats for visitors. It seemed that Tabatha Chase was not alone. Both Ajshea and Braham looked at the motley gathering before them. A mouselike creature that stood at waist level wore gun belts and a brown leather waistcoat along with a grimy pilot leathercap with holes for his large mouselike ears. Neither Ajshea nor Braham had seen a Weelom in person before and it was a startling sight to take in as the mouse paced the corridor in a foul mood speaking animatedly with another crewmate.

    The Reptilian Xindi looked bored at the expositions of his miniature friend, his countenance worn thin. “Nesqhuim! Shut your trap before I do it for you.”

    The mouse retorted angrily in a high pitched squeak as he jumped up onto a seat to gain a better height on the Reptilian. He pointed angrily with his hand and his tail, which was wrapped around a sandwich of some kind. “Derga it is alright for you! I am offended! Do they not know that I am ... oh hello!” He bowed in the direction of Ajshea and Braham. He then brought his tail up to his mouth and nibbled on the sandwich.

    Derga stood against the wall with his arms folded. “You our potential clients?”

    Braham inclined his head. “It would seem so.”

    “There has been no deal made.” Ajshea pointed out.

    “I am Braham Oses. You all work with Captain Chase.” He pointed in the direction of a third person shuffling along at the end wall engrossed in his thoughts.

    Nesqhuim jumped off the seat and extended a hand by way of introduction. “May I introduce to you our engineer, Ellioh Hex.”

    Oses approached the daydreaming Trill warily as he talked to himself absorbed in his own ramblings. “Pleased to meet you Mr Hex.”

    The Trill came to, startled as if only now becoming aware that the corridor was filled with others. He extended a hand to the proffered and shook it effusively. His smile was wide and mad looking with the ebullient joy of making contact with another being. “Hex. Em ... ah ... yes ... Ellioh ... Ellioh Hex, yes Ellioh that would be it. Sometimes I forget. Never the minding. Heh. Did Tabatha enquire about the equipment I require?”

    Nesqhuim shrugged and smiled benignly. “He’s a little ... batty.”


    The Weelom explained good heartedly, “Well he has lived for almost nine hundred years. Old age has to catch up at some point.”

    Braham seemed a little troubled by this and pressed further. “In what manner?”

    A new voice volunteered the truth not. “Sometimes Hex forgets that he is Ellioh. He gets lost in his memories and past lives. However, with that said, when he is in the here and now he is like an almighty genius with the engines.”

    “Oh.” He turned to look at the new figure. She was a Caitian of medium height. She came up to them and gave Nesqhuim a little rub under his chin with her claw. He squirmed at the gesture and puffed up indignantly however clearly enjoyed the attention. Ajshea refrained from making mention of a cat and a mouse.

    “I’m Meetra Ros, gunner on the Effervescent Cascade.”

    “That is the name of your ship?” Ajshea asked appalled.

    Aggrieved Nesqhuim jumped back up onto a chair and faced the Vulcan. “And what of it? The Effy is renowned for its speed and agility! I would not deign to squander my skills on anything less.”

    Ignoring the disturbance between Ajshea and Nesqhium, Oses asked of Meetra, “How often do his episodes interfere with his ability to do his job?” He hoped that Ajshea did not overhear the particulars. He also hoped the answer would be reassuring.

    “Rarely in a crunch situation.” She tried to reassure. “Rarely.”

    Suddenly the klaxons on the station rang out and the lights dipped to a flashing red hue. Dale Garrow bounded up the stairs from the command hub to the parting doors of the commander’s office. “Commander, perimeter sensors have detected the arrival of a Romulan scout ship!”

    “This is Federation territory.” Ajshea informed them all.

    At the doorway looking at the visage of the Romulan scout on the viewscreen with a concerned grim on his face, Anthbek informed her, “And those cannon phasers are a passport for him to travel where he wants to.”

    “This is ridiculous.”

    “This is your fault! No doubt someone has decided to cash in the reward for your Vulcan head. They’ve come for you.”

    “I will not permit it.”

    “You don’t have a say in the matter.” Tabatha Chase was gathering her people and steering them away from the gathering. “And just where do you think you are going?”

    She smiled playfully. “It’s obvious that you have your hands full here Georgie. I’ll leave you in peace and be on my way. Sorry I couldn’t be of any assistance. Must dash. Important business to attend to.”

    “What you mean is, that there is a new Romulan warrant for your arrest and you want to sneak off before they register your presence. No ball Tabatha.”

    “It was all a misunderstanding! Unpaid fines, speeding tickets and a legitimate transaction they’ve misconstrued as theft.” Shrugging her shoulders she played it innocently. “Bye now!”

    “I don’t think so Tabatha.”

    “You’re hardly going to hand me over to the Romulans. Like she said, this is the jurisdiction of the Federation-Alliance. They cannot arrest me.”

    “Again – those cannon phasers make for a compelling argument. Unless ...”

    “Unless what?” She asked, hands on hip.

    Ajshea cut in. “I demand you safeguard me in order that I can undertake my mission.”

    “Unless you agree to the terms of the proposition and take these people on their way and help them to complete their mission.”

    “Instead of surrendering myself you want me to choose suicide instead.”

    Dale intervened. “Scout is within weapons range. It is transmitting the standard seeker message.”

    “The Romulan Star Empire seeks retribution and justice for the war crimes perpetuated by the Vulcan people. Surrender all Vulcanoids to our military or face summary punishment for obstruction of justice.”

    “Their mission is vital.” Anthbek declared over the repeating message. “I chose you Chase because you are the only person I know who can carry them all the way and bring them back. We need to know if the Spawn are mustering their strength and determine a means to stop them that does not require the same final solution as last time.”

    “You expect me to agree to take the Effy and my crew into the Border Lands in search of monsters. It’s suicide I tell you Jorga.”

    “Scout is on approach to the station. It is beginning sensor sweeps.”

    “Put the shields up to try and buy us a little time and interference.” He looked at Tabatha and Ajshea. “I know this is not what either of you wants but trust me when I tell you that it is your only option. It is also the best option. Believe it or not you offer each other the best chance for survival.”

    “Let me get back to my ship and I can try and make a run for it Georgie.”

    “I’ll transport you there but only if you agree to take them with you.”

    “Damnation!” She stomped her foot. She gave her fellow crew a questioning look. Nesqhium squeaked while Meetra shrugged. Hex was lost to his thoughts but Derga nodded slightly. The alternative was better than facing a Romulan prison sentence. “Ok, ok, ok. I agree. Now let us go.”

    Dale tried to point out, “But the Romulans will know we helped them. As it is they’re demanding we lower shields.”

    “Not to worry Dale. We will tell the Romulans that Tabatha took hostages and we had no option. Get your gear together Garrow.”

    “My gear?”

    “Taking a Vulcan and a Cardassian hostage won’t carry much clout with the Romulans. Even taking you will stretch their understanding. However, it’s a Starfleet mission.”

    “Oh goodie. A parting gift. You are too kind.”

    Anthbek corrected her. “I need someone I trust along with them. Just so Tabatha doesn’t decide to dump them on the next available rock. Sorry son. This could be dangerous but the fate of us all depends on the mission’s success.” Nodding his head he pelted towards a storage cupboard and started filling a rucksack.

    Ajshea gathered her own equipment cases. “Are you sure about this? The mission is too important.”

    “I am.” He intoned solemnly. “Beam them to the Effy.”

    Tabatha stood alongside Ajshea in preparation for the transportation. The pensive Vulcan looked appalled at her presence. “Cheer up ears. It’s going to be an adventure.”

    “Whatever you say ... Tabby.”

    * * *

    The End
  14. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    January Challenge: Down, But Not Out
    The challenge-to tell a story about overcoming the odds


    Tonkean Belt
    June 2376

    “So, this is what it must have been like?” Kall Yano whispered, her nostrils flaring as they filled with the stench of unwashed bodies and desperation. “My grandfather told me of the settlement camps when I was a child, but I thought he was exaggerating, you know? How grandfathers embellish things.”

    Jake Sisko nodded tightly, thinking wistfully of Joseph Sisko’s occasional tall tales. He couldn’t lie and not wish that he weren't with the old man now, enjoying a bowl of his granddad’s quadrant famous gumbo. Instead he was here, cramped next to Kall, which wasn’t a bad thing he also had to admit. He had picked the eager young cameraperson not only because he saw the same drive to prove herself that he had, but also because he thought the Federation News Service assignment would go smoother with a beautiful woman to chat with.

    Kall’s beauty couldn’t be denied. She was a wonderful blend of two worlds, Bajor and Vulcan, with gracefully pointed ears and a ridged nose. Though the woman was caked in dirt, like him, her lustrous brown skin continued to accentuate her attractiveness. She had been a pleasure to work with, and that made him feel even worser for putting her life in jeopardy like he had.

    The stern and caring voices of Joseph and Kasidy, his stepmother, floated through his head. They hadn’t been the only ones who had warned, cajoled, and demanded that he not venture into Alshain occupied space, but they were the only persons whose words nearly made him waver.

    “I don’t want to lose you too son, not after…,” Joseph’s voice trailed off and the corners of his eyes moistened. Jake had had to turn away from the monitor to wipe his own tears away.

    “I know why you’re doing this,” Kasidy had said, after pleading with him to reconsider, “I know from whom you’re doing this, but Ben wouldn’t want this…not for you,” the words had pierced his heart. But Jake had been committed to reporting on Alshain atrocities.

    From his research, Jake had concluded that the Alshain had used their wartime alliance with the Federation to cleanse their space of the Son’a, who had been in league with the Dominion. Species cleansing was abhorrent no matter who the victim, but he had learned the hard way how the war had evinced a callousness that would not be soon removed from the hearts of many a Federation citizen.

    Many grumbled about the post-war reconstruction of Cardassia, despite the near extinction of the Cardassian people at the hands of the Dominion. Some Federation politicians would only support funding rebuilding efforts by making a big deal about it being for security purposes only, to prevent terrorism, and not on compassionate grounds. In comparison, the much ‘smaller’ plight of the Son’a was swept under the rug.

    It was too politically untenable to intervene in the affairs of the Alshain, especially since their joining the Allied war effort had opened a crucial fourth front and blunted some of the momentum of the Breen’s entry into the war.

    But the Alshain hadn’t been satisfied with exacting revenge on the Son’a for a decades-long parasitic relationship, the Alshain were attempting to rid all of the territory in their sphere of influence of non-Alshain. They were guided by a manifest destiny termed “Greater Alshain” by their ruler, the megalomaniacal Exarch Jedalla. Innocent species like the Tarlac and Ellora, both victimized by the Son’a even more than the Alshain had been, were swept aside like detritus in the attempt to restore a mythical past. The genocidal inferno now threatened to consume species such as this sector’s native Munzalans, a langur-like species that had been relocated to this sector as reparations for years of involuntary servitude to the Alshain.

    The Alshains’ bloodthirsty march reminded Jake of some of the darkest chapters in human history, and he knew he had to do something about it, in the only way he knew how. Where others were content to allow genocide to occur, he would go to the front lines and he would write about it, he would report on it, and if his words, and the images of the suffering of the Tarlac and Ellorans didn’t pique the hearts of Federation denizens then the war against the Dominion had been fought in vain.

    The cave rumbled again, causing another round of panicked cries. Jake instinctively grabbed Kall and drew her close to him, ostensibly to protect her from any falling rocks. Dust kicked up by the ground quake got in his lungs, making him hack and tearing his eyes. He felt Kall’s long, yet supple fingers wiping away his tears before he opened his eyes again.

    “Are you okay?” Her breath was warm and welcome on his face. Though the cave was cramped, with terrified refugees holding each other or themselves, Jake felt the cold approach of death with each fusillade.

    “Get a room you two,” grumbled Ceven. Kall giggled nervously and pulled away reluctantly. Jake’s cheeks grew hot and he glared at the man after wiping the last of the tears and most recent grime away.

    “Hey kid, if you don’t take her, I will,” he replied with a lopsided grin. The crusty Bolian tightly clutched an old-style plasma rifle, a kind Jake had once seen in a museum. To Ceven’s credit kept the ancient weapon spotless. It even glinted in the dim light provided by the few lamps that had survived the preceding barrages.

    “Stop joking around Ceven,” Zene snapped. The young dark-skinned Elloran’s mien had never been more serious. He held a modern TR-116 rifle, a projectile weapon that Jake knew had been recently discontinued by Starfleet. The young reporter didn’t know how Zene had gotten his hands on the weapon, and he was smart enough not to ask.

    If anything, the arrival of Zene and his group of irregulars had selfishly proven a boon to his efforts to highlight the tragedy wrought by the Alshain. The genocide needed faces, it needed human interest stories, and to be blunt, it needed an entertainment value that could lure the casual reader in.

    Zene had recently left Starfleet, ending his short career to defend his people against the Alshain onslaught. Only months ago, the man had piloted the Starship Aegis, one of Starfleet’s most cutting edge vessels. After that ship had met an untimely end, Zene had decided to leave the Fleet and return home to give his life if need be to prevent more bloodshed.

    The Aegis connection had proved fruitful for Jake. The ship had been captained by his “uncle” Terrence Glover, the Academy roommate of his father. Before Zene found that out, the Elloran had been determined to expel the journalistic duo. The former ensign still didn’t believe that their reports were doing much good.

    So far, they hadn’t generated enough outrage to prompt the intervention of the Federation, outside of tepid support for a safe haven on Ba’ku. But Jake was convinced that the pen remained more powerful than any sword or tritanium bullet.

    He had received some positive feedback on his feature on the acerbic Ceven, the ex-Maquis throwing in his lot with another group of underdogs. Jake’s Earth-bound editor gushed that the Bolian had the makings of a folk hero. A modern day Davy Crockett, Jake recalled the woman glowingly saying. The reference brought back memories of Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien’s scale model of the Alamo Mission. The model currently resided in Dr. Bashir’s quarters.

    Damn it, he caught himself. He was trying not to think of DS9, and especially not Dr. Bashir. His memories of the young doctor hadn’t always been fond ones. His first real taste of war had been on Ajilon Prime only three years ago, and his cowardice had nearly resulted in Bashir’s death. Though Jake would later ‘redeem’ himself, causing a cave-in that prevented the Klingons from slaughtering Starfleet evacuees, he knew had truly done nothing heroic. He had panicked again, but the second time had resulted in him getting off some lucky shots.

    He didn’t have a phaser rifle this time. The ceiling shifted, as more rocks fell and dust coated everyone. Jake heard soft groans and sharp cries. He heard hushed prayers, but more chillingly he heard a resounding detonation thunderclap at the mouth of the cave, followed by a gush of superheated air. They were far enough back in the cave to avoid injury from the explosion, but Jake knew that something worse had been loosened. Voices and hearts froze at the lusty howls of the Alshain. That old fear knifed his stomach, making his muscles palsy. The young man gulped hard, closed his eyes, but snapped them open quickly once his imagination started going into warp. He would rather face what was coming through the breach than the vivid horrors his mind conjured up of what the Alshain intended to do to them.

    “They’ve broken through our barricade,” Ena, a soot covered Tarlac female said. Underneath the dirt, the fair-skinned woman was an eye catcher. She cradled her Breen disruptor as she stood up.

    “Hold on Ena!” Zene barked, gesturing quickly at the surviving members of his crew. They each took up positions, determination engraving their countenances. Except for one.

    “Godsdammit, I knew this was a fool’s errand,” the hard bitten Tarlac Galig snarled. “We’ve doomed ourselves in a vain attempt to save just a hand full! You’ve doomed us Ensign Zene!” He said the Elloran’s former rank with palpable disdain.

    “No, no, you’ve all doomed us! You and your damned war!” Cried out an anguished voice. Through the dust-thickened darkness, Jake saw a trembling woman clutching a limp child, their head turned an impossible angle. This had been an ongoing debate among the refugees. Zene had argued that their presence prevented greater Alshain atrocities from occurring at the camp, while others were fearful that the raids the guerillas conducted against the Alshain would result in brutal reprisals.

    The debate had been answered with finality when Alshain forces had swarmed the planet, decimating villages in search of Zene’s band. An Elloran herald, younger than Jake or Kall, had died at Zene’s feet after delivering the news of the surprise Alshain attack. Before the irregulars could scramble, the Alshain had hit the camp, driving the survivors into long abandoned mines that had been converted to inclement weather shelters.

    “Shoziz Galig!” Spat B’dulla, a gray furred, charcoal faced Munzalan. A livid pink scar cut diagonally across his visage. B’dulla had rejected the usual pacifism of his people to take up arms.

    “No, godsdammit,” the querulous Tarlac replied. “If we had just accepted the help of the Son’a they could’ve protected us.”

    “Yeah, like they’ve been protecting us all these years,” a burly Elloran, whose name escaped Jake, replied drolly. “I promised my mother on her deathbed that I nor my siblings would ever be slaves again.”

    “Well, at least we can remember what the lash felt like Mannar,” Galig remarked. Jake glanced at Zene. The man’s back was to him, but he saw him straighten slightly at the dig.

    “Now’s not the time for this,” Jake rasped. Galig chuckled, and shook his head.

    “As if you have any right to talk to me, much less be here,” the Tarlac said, looming over Jake. Jake stared up at the man, meeting his challenging gaze head on. Galig reached out and flicked the datacard hanging from Jake’s neck. “This press pass and you being human protects you.”

    “You think so?” Jake asked. “You really think battle crazy Alshain warriors are going to give a damn who they sink their teeth into?”

    “Yeah,” the Tarlac replied, “I do. They might look like animals, but they’re much smarter. They know what lives to take, and who to spare. And our deaths will make quite the byline for you won’t it Sisko?”

    “That’s totally uncalled for,” Kall replied heatedly. “We’re here when we don’t have to be. This is our fight because we have chosen it. The galaxy has to be made aware of the injustice taking place here.”

    “And that means when you get bored, you’ll simply chose something else to inveigh against,” Galig remarked, totally unimpressed.

    “Galig, the Alshain are almost upon us,” Zene said calmly, turning around to face the larger man. Jake wasn’t certain if it was his imagination, but he thought he heard galloping. Though the Alshain were considered haughty and ostentatious, in part to impress their biped neighbors with gauche displays of their “high” civilization, Jake had read other stories.

    He had read reports that their feral natures revealed themselves in combat, and that they often fought as quadrupeds. “If you don’t want to fight, if you want to be slaughtered like livestock, please hand your weapon to someone who still has at least a modicum of dignity.”

    The Tarlac stepped back as if he had been slugged. His hand reached for the pistol at his side, causing several of the irregulars to aim at him. Galig quickly noticed that and his empty hands shot up. “I’m alright, I’m alright,” he promised. “I…I was just going to take up position.”

    “Do so then,” Zene’s voice never wavered. His gaze turned back toward the mouth of the cave. A few of the refugees took the initiative to huddle their compatriots toward the back of the cave. Some of the refugees shielded their children and other loved ones while others picked up anything that could be used as a weapon. The howling grew louder, and it was punctuated by fierce barking.

    Jake’s stomach roiled with fear. He felt the shroud of death over his shoulders. He wanted to grab Kall again. He wanted to tell her that he wished there had been more between them, but he didn’t. Instead, he did what he had come here to do in the first place.

    “Set up the holorecorder,” he said dryly. “We’ve got a story to complete.”
  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Jake was startled by the familiar keen of transporters. “They’re beaming in!” Zene shouted. “We’ve been tricked!” He said, turning his weapon toward the multiple shafts of blinding crimson light forming within the cave.

    “But the kelbonite?” B’dulla asked, stumped. The kelbonite ore lacing the rocks of the cave normally disrupted the transporter effect.

    “That was the point for smashing the barricade, to beam in from within the cave,” Ceven groused. “Heck, that just makes the target practice easier.” Jake flinched as the irregulars tore through the first round of transports. Blood, flesh, and fur flew everywhere as the lupine soldiers met gristly ends.

    But the beams kept coming, with greater rapidity and volume and eventually the guerillas couldn’t pick them all off. “My God, keep the recorder going,” Jake said as he posted up in a corner. He wished that he hadn’t given away the weapon Zene had offered him. Not only to protect Kall and himself, but to help the quickly outnumbered guerillas.

    Imposing, heavily-armored Alshain warriors, armed with melee weapons, in addition to razor sharp teeth and claws tore into irregular and noncombatant alike, trampling over the remains of their fallen comrades. With growing horror, Jake realized that the first wave had been nothing more than fodder. The fighting was close quarters, the smells of carnage quickly flavoring the air.

    Jake tried to continue reporting, “This…this is what our Alshain allies think of sentient rights,” he shouted over the din, ducking just seconds before the club swing would’ve dissected his head from his shoulders. The air from the club’s arc tickled his neck. He stumbled on the floor that was now slick with the mingled blood of the combatants.

    Kall grabbed onto him to keep him upright and he clasped her in his arms, pushing her against a sea of writhing flesh. They pushed through the wall of bodies until they found actual rock to stand against. He knew it would be their last stand. Jake moved to plaster himself over her, to protect her as best he could, but he knew it was futile. “Dear Prophets,” he heard her whisper as they stood silent witness to the slaughter.

    The irregulars fought valiantly, but they quickly began to falter. Their mounting losses only fueled the bloodlust of the Alshain. His stomach churned as he watched the canid warriors rip apart limbs, gut people with their claws, and even bite off heads, filling the enclosed space with the terrible crunch of bone and slick slap of meat. Hot blood sprayed everywhere, drenching them all.

    Jake had survived combat with both the Klingons and Jem’Hadar, but he had never seen anything so savage. The Alshain had completely lost it. Their exultant howls shook not only the very foundations of the cave, but Jake’s soul.

    “I-I can’t just allow this to go on,” Jake muttered after a few seconds.

    “What?” Kall asked, the holorecorder propped on Jake’s shoulder, to give her a better vantage to capture as much of the melee as possible.

    “I’ve got to help out,” he declared. The Bajoran-Vulcan hybrid grabbed his arm, with not surprising strength.

    “No,” she said, “You’ll be killed.”

    “You really think they are going to let us live, after this?” Jake snapped at her.

    “We’re journalists,” Kall said, a plaintive tone in her voice, “We’re supposed to be objective, neutral observers.”

    Jake shook his head. “Not when horror like this occurs, my God, what would Dad think of me if I just stood by…”

    “Jake,” Kall said, her tenderness puncturing the shrieks and howls, “You’re father, the Emissary…”

    “He’ll be back,” Jake cut her off, “and when he learns what happened here today, I want him to know that his son honored his memory, honored his family’s legacy of service, of sacrifice…just like him, just like Mom,” he voice choked at the few fragmented memories of Jennifer Sisko he still clutched onto, refusing to allow time to wash away. She had died at the Battle of Wolf 359, a victim of the Borg. His father had been a casualty of the Dominion. Though Jake believed with all his heart that Kasidy was telling the truth that his father had come to her in a vision and promised he would return. In fact, Jake almost could feel the presence of his father looking down on him now, from somewhere in the Celestial Temple.

    “This is the right thing to do,” he said quietly, to himself and to Ben. He patted himself down, looking for a weapon. The only things on his person was an ancient writing pen, a gift from his father. Jake grabbed the pen and held it aloft like a dagger. “This will have to do.”

    His scream was born of fear and anger as he joined the fray.
    ************************************************** ************
  16. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    ************************************************** ****************

    Jake’s eyes cracked open to a fuzzy white light. “Dad,” he muttered, hopeful that he was inside the Celestial Temple; that somehow his father or the Bajoran Prophets had saved him.

    “Not quite Mr. Sisko,” the bass voice rumbled. Jake’s eyes fluttered open fully, and immediately closed. The fuzzy light had turned sharp and painful, matching the pain throbbing in his head and with growing realization, throughout his body.

    “Wha-where?” His thoughts were muddied and filled with the clang and roar of a battle by all rights he should not have survived.

    “Forgive our medics,” the speaker with the deep voice said again. “But we are not accustomed to tending human patients. He has assured me though that none of your injuries are fatal,” the man said. “It would be unfortunate for him…and his Sept if that proves incorrect.”

    Jake eased his eyes open slowly, allowing them to adjust to the light. They resolved on the looming, tawny-furred figured standing over him. The man was tall, most Alshain were by human standards, but his frame was more rangy than muscular. He was dressed in a sleeveless purple tunic-vest and matching pants. A white, gold-embroidered white cape was artfully draped across his left shoulder. “I am Protocol Officer V’Del.”

    “Where…” Jake’s throat was as dry as a Cardassian desert.

    “You are in the infirmary aboard our flagship,” V’Del said with obvious pride. “Nauarch S’Elani would accept nothing less than the best treatment possible for the son of the honored Captain Benjamin Sisko.” With a sick realization Jake realized that Galig had been right all along. Despite Jake’s willingness to live among the refugees of Munzala, he was still a privileged Federation citizen, with the protections afforded to journalists and the son of a war hero to boot. He was different, and the risks he took had a bigger safety net to catch him if he fell.

    “My…partner…” Jake ran his desiccated tongue over his cracked lips, “The woman…”

    “Kall Yano?” V’Del knowingly replied. “She is being attended to. Her injuries were unfortunately a bit more extensive. She put up quite the scuffle. Her remarkable Vulcan genetics serve her well.”

    “Where is she?” Jake’s voice hardened. He squinted through the pain and his protesting muscles as he sat up on his bed. He glanced around the spacious, spotless medical room. None of the other beds were occupied. Jake and the protocol officer were the only occupants.

    “She is being attended to,” V’Del remarked, his one tone becoming firmer. “I have been assured that she will make a full recovery.”

    “I want to see her, right now,” Jake demanded.

    “You will see her, but first,” V’Del held up a finger. “I have a few questions….”
    ************************************************** **************

    Jake Sisko felt scraped clean, inside and out as he stood in the shuttle bay deck, surrounded by a duo of stone faced Alshain guards. His Alshain ‘hosts’ had been roughly thorough in their cleansing of his body and wounds and V’Del had been equally as comprehensive in learning everything he could about Jake’s activities on Munzala.

    And the young reporter had been able to take a measure of pride from not being able to produce the holorecording footage of the Alshain’s rampage inside the cave. That small victory was doused by the protocol officer’s adamant refusal to provide any greater illumination on the fate of Kall. And he wouldn’t even entertain any of Jake’s inquiries about the irregulars or refugees. “Those are legal matters which I am not privy to discuss,” the man would repeat ad nausea.

    He trembled in the slightly cold air. The fur and armor covering his lupine sentries protected them much better against the frigid air than the too large one-piece suit they had given Jake. He surmised that their replicator technology wasn’t precise enough to get human body dimensions, or perhaps they just wanted to get one more jab in before they put him on the shuttle and sent him packing to the nearest starbase.

    The entrance to the bay swished open and Jake’s heart pinched. “Yano!” He croaked in surprise, his voice cracking.

    Kall Yano stepped in, accompanied by a smiling V’Del. “See Mr. Sisko, I told you, she would be well.”

    The Vulcan-Bajoran rolled her eyes before walking over to Jake. He forced himself not to run to her. Though when they met he grabbed her and pulled her tightly to him, not caring what the Alshain thought of the emotional display. “Are you okay?” He asked. “How bad did they hurt you?” Up close he could see a patchwork of still healing scars and scratches marring the woman’s face. One ear was bandaged.

    “I was going to ask you the same question,” Kall replied, giving him a once over. “You look a little banged up.”

    “I feel a little banged up,” Jake admitted.

    She managed to chuckle, “Well humans are a lot more delicate than my people.” He shared in the laughter. She glanced around. “Where are the others?”

    Jake’s smile faltered. “I don’t know. They wouldn’t tell me,” though he had a sinking feeling that he would never see them again. The Alshain had probably executed them already. Jake just prayed that their suffering wasn’t prolonged, and he was already devising a searing eulogy for them.

    And he couldn’t help sharing that information with the protocol officer. He wanted to wipe that smile off his face. He pulled himself out of Kall’s orbit enough to say. “You know, I’m going to write about what happened on Munzala.” He declared, “The galaxy will know of this atrocity.”

    To Jake’s surprise V’Del’s smile grew toothier. “You can write all you want,” he shrugged, “But what is it you humans are fond of saying about the value of images…worth a thousand words or somesuch.” The protocol officer’s hazel eyes glittered in triumph.

    Jake realized the man was just as predatory as the monsters on Munzala though his hunting ground revolved around the manipulation of words and appearances. “It appears that your holorecorder was unfortunately destroyed during the melee, and our subsequent inspections of your persons didn’t reveal any additional data, so as far as the galactic community knows, nothing out of the routine happened here.”

    “That’s not true!” Kall charged.

    “Without images, it’s just words, mere opinions from an improbably idealistic young man, still grieving over the profound losses of the Dominion War and looking to find some meaning in his life. A young man taken in and manipulated by renegades posing as freedom fighters. Magnifying our legitimate claim into species cleansing.”

    Kall couldn’t take it anymore. “There was nothing ‘legitimate’ about what you did on Munzala; where was the honor in slaughtering unarmed people?”

    V’Del shrugged his shoulders again, “What unarmed people? We routed a nest of guerillas. That story has already sent out on the comnet.”

    “Bastard,” Kall pulled away from Jake, but he grabbed the woman before she could confront V’Del.

    “Now’s not the time,” Jake said. “We’ll get our say.” Further antagonizing the Alshain would do them no good. The most important thing now was to get back to Federation space and see if they could counteract the Alshain lies with the truth. Kall took a step back and Jake knew that the Vulcan-Bajoran understood.

    “Which is your right,” V’Del replied cheerily. “I wish you safe journeys. It would be in your best interests if we do not meet again. I don’t know if the Exarch’s charity will be able to protect you if you trespass into our space again.”
    ************************************************** **************

    Starbase 116

    “You two are as lucky as you are reckless,” the station’s commander, a pinched face, violet hued Saurian, glowered at them. As soon as the Alshain had dropped them off, they had been rushed to the infirmary to undergo a full medical checkup. “Putting yourselves in harm’s way like that.” Jake lowered his head. He didn’t like being scolded like he was a child, but he felt so terrible about the tragedy on Munzala, he felt so responsible and so helpless that he deserved to be taken to task, for something. He could sense by Kall’s sharp intake of breath at the rebuke that she wasn’t going to stand for any of that though.

    “With so little to show for it,” the chief medical officer, a green Nasat, piled on.

    “That’s not quite correct sirs,” Kall smiled wickedly as she opened her right palm, with a small, circular disc within. Jake’s eyes widened and his heart raced.

    “That’s a holographic data chip,” he remarked, a bit dumfounded by this turn of events. “How did you?”

    “Do you really want to know how I got this past our captors?” Kall raised a telling arched eyebrow. “Let’s just say, they checked us well on the outside, not the inside.” The station commander’s face became even more drawn and the medic twisted his face.

    “Perhaps not,” Jake grinned, his spirits brightening. He hadn’t felt so good in a long time.

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

    USS Enterprise-E
    Captain’s Ready Room
    Two weeks later…

    “Have I caught you at a bad time Mr. Sisko?” Captain Jean-Luc Picard asked, with obvious sympathy.

    Jake Sisko stifled a yawn and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Of course not Captain Picard.” His eyes cleared, he added, “Though I must admit this is a surprise.”

    Captain Picard gave the younger man a half-smile. “I’m not the personage of the moment Mr. Sisko. You are.” Sisko didn’t know how to take that. He smiled for a moment and then tried to tamp his enthusiasm behind a more serious demeanor.

    “I’ m not in this for awards or notoriety,” Sisko said. Picard had heard that the young man had recently been nominated for a Brooks Award.

    “Of course you aren’t,” the captain replied. “But I’m sure they don’t hurt.”

    “No, I guess they don’t.” Jake conceded. “I’m assuming you’re contacting me about my most recent expose on the Alshain-Son’a War?” The younger man paused, a pained expression on his face, “About Munzala?” The captain nodded in assent; his expression frosting.

    “I think it was a foolhardy thing for you to do, going into a war zone,” Jean-Luc realized how silly he sounded as soon as the words left his lips. He didn’t know Sisko but he had reproved the young man like he was Wesley. He had only met Jake briefly, years ago, when the Enterprise-D had visited Deep Space Nine shortly after his father’s installation as station commander. Picard and the elder Sisko hadn’t exactly hit it off due to the man losing his wife during the first Borg Incursion, principally led by an assimilated Picard, but eventually they had come to an understanding. Perhaps out of a deep seated guilt, and knowing what had befallen Captain Sisko, Jean-Luc had a desire to protect the man’s progeny, among other things…

    “Risk is part of the job,” Jake said flippantly, the stars in his eyes dimming. His expression became defiant. “The galaxy had to see what’s going in the war zone, the Federation needed to know about the atrocities against civilians that the Alshain are committing.”

    “One could hardly consider the Son’a civilians,” Picard found himself taking a defensive tack. “They enslaved two races, tried to destroy a planet, and that’s before joining the Dominion and waging open war on the Federation.”

    “That war ended six months ago,” Jake said, with an impatient tone. It appeared like this was a well trod rejoinder for the journalist. “The Son’a Imperium surrendered and was abiding by the terms of the peace treaty. Whatever obligations the Federation feels it has to the Alshain Exarchate have been paid in full.” Jake took a breath before continuing, “And it’s just Son’a who are suffering. Tarlac, Ellorans, and Munzalans were slaughtered in the Tonkean Belt. I saw it with my own eyes.”

    Picard remorsefully shook his head. Anij had been telling him the same things. Some of the war’s Son’a survivors had been fortunate enough to make it to Ba’ku, but the captain feared that the more that arrived there, the bigger a target the planet would become for the Exarchate.

    “How many innocents should die before we start caring?” Jake had continued during Picard’s reverie.

    “Salient point Mr. Sisko,” Picard said soberly. “May we continue this discussion…off the record?”

    “Of course captain,” Jake’s expression sharpened. “How can I help you?”

    “Despite some of your allegations that Starfleet has turned a blind eye to the plight of those in the war zone, I can assure you that many officers have not,” Picard said.

    “I take it that you are in that number?” Jake asked, now all business. The captain was impressed by how quickly the man took on a professional bearing.

    “Yes,” Picard admitted, though it pained him to do so. “Can I trust you Mr. Sisko?”

    “Captain, I don’t think you would’ve taken the effort to find me if you didn’t think you could,” Jake answered bluntly. Picard agreed.

    “There are some of us who would like to do more, to halt the civilian casualties, or at least provide humanitarian aid, but we are prevented from doing so. However, your articles on how the Alshain are conducting their war have given us renewed entrée in the debate. They are shaping public opinion and in turn that is influencing the policymakers. We would like those articles to continue, without undue risk to you of course.”

    “Of course,” Jake said, pausing. Here it comes, Picard realized, the quid pro quo.

    “My editor and all of FNS are now in my corner,” Jake said, “but it would make my job a bit easier if I could get quotes and information occasionally from likeminded officers in the Fleet.”

    Picard tensed, but he anticipated that Jake would make such an offer. The little boy had he had once met in passing had become a man, a tough, grizzled professional. If the young Sisko hadn’t tried to angle for as much information as possible for his readership, he wouldn’t be doing his job, the captain realized. And if Picard held protocol above morality he wouldn’t be doing his. “I’m sure I can find a way to accommodate you.”

    ************************************************** ************
  17. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    February 2011 Challenge: "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing"

    Tales of the USS Bluefin: “It’s a Family Thing”

    by TheLoneRedshirt

    Stardate 42093.8 (14 February 2365)
    USS Bluefin
    Star Station Echo – Berth 16

    The ship was quiet now that the formal change of command ceremony was over. With the exception of the skeleton watch crew, most of Bluefin’s personnel were on the station, having shifted the celebration from military formal to Border Dog excess. It was likely that more than a few would find themselves in the station’s brig by morning as their alcohol-fueled exuberance ended with a few fights with Fleeters and Marines.

    The thought made Joseph Akinola smile. Captain Joseph Akinola. That thought gave him pause.

    He stood in the mostly empty ready room (his ready room, now) and gazed out the viewport toward the stars. He caught his reflection in the transparent aluminum, focusing on the new fourth pip that now adorned his collar. It was amazing how such a tiny piece of gold could weigh so much.

    It’s my ship now. My crew. My responsibility. This weight, too, settled upon him, though not painfully. He had served on the Bluefin for 15 years under Captains Darby Reninger and Stanek, initially as an NCO, then as a mustang officer. Now he was in command.

    When Akinola had enlisted back in 2334, he had never dreamed he might one day command a cutter. His promotion to Master Chief Petty Officer back in ’52 had seemed the pinnacle of his career and he enjoyed his role as senior non-com on the cutter. The war with the Cardies and the needs of the Service had changed that.

    What had not changed was his love for this ship and her crew. With his ex-wife dead, his daughter estranged and his only sister many light years distant, the Bluefin was his real family.

    He exited the ready room to stand alone on the quiet bridge. Akinola had relieved the duty officer, ostensibly to allow him to join his friends at one of Echo Station’s bars. In truth, Akinola wanted some time alone to process his new responsibilities.

    Stepping down into the “pit,” he ran his hand across the leather of the command chair. He was, of course, no stranger to the center seat. As XO he had spent many duty shifts in this chair – but always there was the knowledge it was not truly his. The seat belonged to Captain Stanek. Akinola had merely served as a caretaker while the skipper was off-duty.

    Now the chair was his.

    He closed his eyes momentarily to take in the sounds and faint smells of the bridge. Most of the systems were off-line as the cutter drew power from the station’s umbilical connectors. The soft chirp of diagnostic routines and the faint hum of the air handlers blended with the lingering aroma of stale coffee and the faint tang of warm transtators.

    To Akinola, they were the sounds and smells of home. Only the familiar voices of the crew were lacking.

    The swish of the turbo-lift doors broke through his reverie. He turned to see Rear-Admiral Stanek step onto the bridge. The Bluefin’s former C.O. paused for a moment and Akinola thought he caught a brief, wistful expression on the Vulcan’s face. Stanek nodded in greeting.

    “Captain Akinola, I hope I am not disturbing your solitude.”

    “Not at all, Skipper.” He stopped and grinned, catching his mistake. “Sorry – old habits die hard, Admiral.”

    “Indeed,” replied Stanek. He stepped around the rail and stood by the command chair, absently running his hand along the back much as Akinola had done moments earlier.

    “Strange,” continued the Vulcan, “how an inanimate object such as a ship can become such an integral part of one’s life,” he murmured.

    “Are you reading my mind, Admiral?”

    A silver eyebrow crept upward. “Hardly,” he replied, dryly. “I have known you fifteen point two four one years, Joseph. I’m sure you have come to know me somewhat as well.”

    This was true, at least as much as a Human could know a Vulcan without a mind-meld. Though he would never fully understand the workings of Stanek’s mind, he considered the Vulcan his friend and mentor.

    “Sir . . . will you miss this?”

    Stanek regarded the dark-skinned Human with quiet scrutiny. “You are inferring an emotional response on my part, Captain, to which I must reply . . . yes, I will ‘miss’ the ship, the crew, our work out here in the Borderland, and you, Joseph Akinola.”

    Akinola nodded, not really surprised by Stanek’s response. The Vulcan could be as stoic and detached as the most disciplined Kolinahr adept, yet there were times when the veil slipped ever so slightly. Like now.

    “Sir, I hope I’m ready for this. I don’t want to let you down, and I especially don’t want to let the crew down.”

    Stanek nodded. “It is logical to be apprehensive when facing such a great challenge. But I have confidence in your abilities, Captain.”

    The Admiral gazed around the bridge, as if to commit to memory every detail. “I have lived among Humans and other,” Stanek paused, “emotional races long enough to recognize there can be value in the expression of feelings. I do not pretend to fully understand this phenomenon, nor do I consider it logical, but I accept it as fact.”

    He turned to face Akinola. “Joseph, your love for this ship and crew are evident. You have their loyalty as they have yours. But, as some of my Human colleagues have said, ‘command can be a fickle mistress.’ The Service will not always love you back.”

    Akinola chuckled. “Forgive me, sir, but I never expected you to commend me for my emotional state.”

    “Considering my many years, I suppose I can be forgiven my lapse.” A ghost of a smile appeared on Stanek’s lips, so briefly Akinola could not be sure if it was real or imagined on his part.

    “In any case, Captain, I did not come to offer advice but to take my leave of you. A runabout for Earth leaves in eighteen minutes, twenty-two seconds. It would not be seemly for the new Commandant of the Border Service Academy to be late.”

    “Our loss is New London’s gain, sir. It’s been a privilege to serve under you, Admiral.”

    “The privilege has been mine, Captain.” He lifted his hand in the traditional Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper, Joseph.”

    Akinola returned the salute. “Peace and long life, Admiral Stanek.”

    Stanek nodded and glanced around the bridge, the wistful expression returning.

    “Take care of her, Captain,” he said before turning and stepping into the turbo-lift. The Vulcan mask was once more firmly in place, Stanek’s expression stony and unreadable as the doors slid shut.

    Akinola turned back to view-screen which was currently streaming diagnostic messages and providing a non-spectacular view of the station’s hull.

    “Looks like it’s just you and me, old girl,” he murmured, settling into the command chair. He was interrupted by the chirp of his combadge.

    “Brin to Bluefin.”

    “Bluefin. Akinola here, go ahead, Chief.”

    “Skipper, just wanted to give you a head’s up – some of our guys got into it with some Fleeters at Sloopy’s.”

    Akinola sighed. “How bad?”

    “It took station security twenty minutes to clear it up. Lt. Gilenhal has a broken nose and Crewman Tyler has a concussion. Commander Jilissa is at the station brig trying to get our guys released. She told me to get in touch with you.”

    “Very well. Where were you when this broke loose, Chief?”

    “Playing poker with some of the other senior non-coms, what else? By the time I heard about it, it was already over.”

    “What about the Fleeters? Anyone hurt?”

    “We put seven in sickbay.”

    Akinola noted the “we” as well as the obvious pride in Solly’s voice but did not comment. “Keep an eye on our people, Chief. I don’t want another dust-up this evening, is that clear?”

    “Aye, aye. I’ve already expressed my opinion in that regard.”

    “Good. Make sure of it. Anyone else taking a poke at a Fleeter tonight will be up for Captain’s mast.”

    “Don’t worry, Skipper. I had to persuade a few of our guys, but they’re all standing down now.”

    Akinola didn’t ask how Brin “persuaded” them. “That’s what I want to hear, Chief. Bluefin out.”

    He considered calling someone to the bridge so he could head to the station’s brig, then thought better of it. Commander Jilissa was now the XO and springing the brig rats fell into her area of responsibility. Besides, he had every confidence that the Deltan could straighten out this mess. No time like the present to learn.

    He sat back in the chair, once more relishing the quiet. No, the job would not always love him back. No doubt he would hear from an angry Starfleet C.O. in the morning.

    But he couldn’t help smiling.
  18. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    April 2011 Challenge: “Solly Brin - Final Vendetta”

    Submitted for the challenge theme: “With Hate’s Heart . . .”

    By TheLoneRedshirt

    Author’s Note: For readers of “Tales of the USS Bluefin,” you may recall a shift in the future timeline from the story, “Ghost in the Machine.” From that point, there was a fork in the road, so to speak, of two possible futures for the Bluefin characters. This is a story from one of those future timelines, or, to quote the immortal Yogi Berra, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

    I leave it to you, the reader, to decide to which future this tale belongs. Regardless, you should know that for either timeline there is someone that Solly Brin has very deep reasons to hate.

    And payback is a bitch. Especially when seen from Solly’s point of view . . .

    Sometime in the early 25th Century

    Gh’Rhunni-Prebo Casino
    Rigellia City, Rigel IV

    I watched you, my cousin, come into the restaurant as I finished my second Tanarian Sling. I wasn’t worried about getting a buzz, though. The bartender is a Ferengi and he adds extra seltzer and lemon juice to save on the booze.

    That’s fine with me. I’m not here for the liquor.

    Your two goons probably make you feel safe. And why shouldn’t they? Most folks are intimidated by the sight of genetically enhanced, three-meter tall green Orions.

    But I guess I’m not most people. Your body guards just make it easier to track your movements. Most folks see a couple of giant, scary security hacks like yours and cower.

    Me, I see targets.

    I have to hand it to you though, at least you take your safety seriously, unlike those other Ahmet’surs, particularly Griblorn and Heqlun. But then, they weren’t expecting me.

    Unlike you. You’ve probably been expecting me for about six years, haven't you, Lortho? Or maybe we've both been expecting this for much longer - say 70 years?

    Yeah, Mother and I fled our homeworld and lived in a frozen hell-hole that even your kind won’t visit. Too bad for you. If you had sent someone to take care of me and Mother the way your old man killed my father, you could still be back in that gods-awful glitzy fortress on Verex III that the Elix cartel has called home for 500 years. Fat and happy. Looks like you've managed the fat part, at least.

    Your old man probably never expected me to survive childhood, much less escape to the Federation and join the Border Service. I guess dear old Uncle Tranji was lucky though – he died of Y’rusan syphilis before I could visit him. Bet you didn’t know I knew that, did you?

    A green Orion waitress stepped up to my table again, interrupting my reverie. Honestly, I think my knife sheath contains more material than her entire outfit. She offers to refill my drink and starts to offer something even more enticing, but then she sees the look in my eyes and her smile freezes and her breath catches. Smart girl, this one. Street smart.

    I grab her arm and pull her into the booth with me. Nobody notices; hell, roughing up the servers and Dabo girls is normal behavior in this dive. I whisper that I’m not going to start any trouble, at least not here and especially not with her.

    She nods and I see relief on her face as I relax my grip on her arm. Good. ‘Course I won’t be getting anymore refills or anything else she has to offer tonight. I can live with that.

    I really meant what I told her. I don’t plan to start anything here. That’s why Lortho frequents crowded places like this. He knows that I won’t risk hurting any innocent bystanders. Of course, I use the term “innocent” loosely in a place like this, but I’ve no quarrel with the lowlifes in Rigellia.

    My quarrel is with Lortho Elix. My dear cousin has a debt to pay and I've come to collect.

    Look at him down there. He’s laughing it up with the Dabo girls, stealing a pinch and a feel here and there like he owns the fracking joint. They’ll put up with it, too, so long as he flashes the gold-pressed latinum and keeps their glasses filled. He thinks he’s safe now, surrounded by the crowds and his over-sized body guards. Lortho, you're getting careless and sloppy. Tsk. Tsk.

    I watch from the glass balcony level above the gaming floor, my vantage point a booth in the corner. It’s in shadows, so I doubt he could see me if he looked right at me, but Lortho’s never been terribly bright. He probably thinks I’m light years away right now.

    Thinking has never been Lortho’s strong point.

    I do feel kinda bad about messing up the upholstery in his limo earlier. Too bad his driver wasn’t more cooperative – it’s a bitch cleaning blood out of Hrunthan leather. At least the driver won’t have to clean it. I left him in so many pieces a transporter couldn’t put him together. All the damn fool had to do was walk away.

    The ice in my untouched drink melts and clinks, leaving beads of water droplets on the side of the glass and table. I take the lemon wedge from the glass and chew it slowly as I watch my prey. For some reason, the tart taste of the lemon reminds me of the Bluefin. I guess it’s ‘cause Cookie used to keep lemon wedges in the galley for tea and such. Gods, I miss those days.

    Dammit, now I’m thinking about Joe. I don’t need this.

    The last time we spoke was – what? Six years ago, of course. I can still hear him say it: “Don’t go down that road, Solly. Don’t stoop to their level. You’re not one of them.”

    But that’s where you were wrong, Joe. I am one of them.

    Before I was rescued by my near-father Kaldo Brin (you Humans would say, "adoptive father,") and learned from him things like honor, respect and compassion, I was Solly Elix, son of Tarlo. I took Kaldo’s name – yeah, I know it’s a Human tradition, but I wanted to honor him for all he meant to me and my mother. Deities, I still miss him.

    Kaldo was a better near-father to me than I ever was to my K’lira.

    Now, as I think of my lost near-daughter, my fists tighten. I feel my pulse quicken. A red haze falls across my vision and everything around me slows down. No, no . . . too soon. Too soon.

    It’s battle fever – I’ve embraced it a hundred times before like a familiar mistress. But now is the time for stealth and patience. The violence I anticipate . . . lust for . . . must wait just a while longer. I close my eyes and slow my breathing. It helps, though I still hear the dull thud . . . thud . . . thud of my pulse in my ears.

    My hand moves to the Andorian knife hidden in the forearm sheath under my cloak. It was a gift from K’lira when I made Senior Chief – just before she graduated from the Academy.

    I move my hand away. I won’t need the sharp ceramic blade tonight. This knife is too good for the likes of Lortho Elix. I won’t sully K'lira's memory by defiling it with that slis’jaka’s blood. Tonight, my hands will suffice.

    He’s standing up now – moving away from the Dabo tables. Good. I feel a smile of anticipation on my lips. My hand moves to another inner pocket and caresses the compact needle gun secreted there. It’s for the body guards. No, I don’t plan on killing them, but when they wake up in several hours, puking their guts out, they’ll be unemployed and wondering what in the seven hells just happened. Assuming things go to plan. If not, well . . . that's okay, too.

    I watch as the bodyguards (I’ve come to think of them as Tweedledee and Tweedledum from a Terran story I once read to K’lira when she was a little girl) move aside the crowd to allow Lortho to pass.

    I toss three strips of gold-pressed latinum on the table as I stand to follow. It’s an overly generous tip for watered down drinks, but the server reminded me a little of K’lira. Too much like her.

    Lortho and his goons head out the front as I move toward the rear of the casino. I disabled the exit alarm hours ago.

    It’s raining steadily as I slip out the back and into the alley where the skimmer-limo is parked. Lortho is probably pissed that the driver hasn’t pulled up to the entrance to meet him. He’ll be too mad to smell a trap and too impatient to wait on a driver who will never show up in this lifetime.

    Sure enough, here they come, making enough noise to wake the dead in Sto'vo'kor. I wait in the shadows, the needle gun in my hand as Dee and Dum trudge toward the limo. One of them is holding his cloak over Lortho, so the Amet’sur doesn’t get wet.

    I’ve seen rocks with better situational awareness.

    Dee is shouting for the driver to unlock the limo. He knows Rigellian curses pretty well, I'll give him that. It’s raining too hard for him to see that the driver has gone missing. He might want to look in the ‘cycler bin. Not that there’s much left to identify as a Rigellian. But then, he shouldn't have provoked me. Not tonight of all nights.

    Dum is still behind Lortho, gamely holding his cloak over the boss, for all the good it's doing in this downpour. I take aim and squeeze. The dart hits Dum in the throat and he goes down like he’s kissed a Capellan Powercat.

    Lortho still hasn’t a clue. Now he’s cursing and kicking Dum in the ribs. I guess he thought Dum tripped? What an idiot.

    Dee is just standing there with his mouth open. This is just too damn easy. I put a second dart in him and he slides down the side of the limo, landing face-first in a puddle of water. He might drown. Too bad.

    Deities! Lortho still doesn’t know what’s going on. I walk out of the shadows. Maybe I should just tap him on the shoulder.

    Lortho finally turns to face me. How ‘bout that? He actually has a disruptor pistol in his hand. Maybe he’s not quite as dumb as I first thought.

    Nope. He forgot to prime the firing diode. Too bad.

    Elix points the useless disruptor in my face. He sounds more angry than frightened at this point. Lortho always was a bully when he thought he had the upper hand. He made a hobby out of abusing women – especially women with green skin.

    Like K’lira. Can't think about that now.

    I step closer and pull a cigar from my cloak – a Ferengi Macanudo. When I light it, I see the change in his expression. His gun hand suddenly begins to tremble. How sweet - he recognizes me. I'm touched.

    “Solly.” His throat makes a funny clicking noise – kinda like my lighter. Interesting coincidence, don't you think?

    It’s a pretty good cigar for a Ferengi-made Cuban clone. Too bad it’s raining so hard I won’t be able to enjoy it very long. I blow out a plume of smoke in his face.

    “Lortho,” I reply. “Time to pay the reaper.”

    He looks perplexed and says something I don’t quite understand, although I get the jist of it. He manages to steady his hand enough to pull the trigger, which accomplishes nothing. If he had waited another five seconds, he could have taken my head clean off. Lortho was never much on patience. Me – I have all the time in the world.

    I grab his disruptor hand, twisting it backwards until I'm rewarded with a satisfying crunch of bones, then I kick him in the crotch. Hard. He goes down in a stinking puddle of filthy water. I don’t think his custom-tailored suit will ever be the same. At this point, I don’t think he cares too much.

    A clap of thunder drowns out his high-pitched keening. He’s curled up in the fetal position, trying to protect the remains of his mangled male organ. The mewling abruptly ceases as I kick him in the kidneys and lift him up out of the slimy pothole by the neck.

    I see it in his eyes now. They are wide and bright, and communicate his feelings quiet well: Fear. Understanding. Resignation. Yet, there’s still a spark of the old hatred burning in those yellow eyes.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Lortho’s hands frantically claw at me and he kicks wildly as my hands tighten around his neck. He's taller than I am, but I work out a lot, so I manage to keep my grip. My knuckles pop and my arm muscles burn but I can feel the fading thrum of his pulse through my fingers as I crush his trachea. As his eyes begin to bulge and turn glassy, I think of my near-daughter.

    Gods, how I miss you K’lira.

  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    March 2011 Challenge: "Night Catches Us"

    Submitted for the Challenge theme: "Epic Fail"

    By DarKush


    November 2376


    Captain Terrence Glover swallowed hard as the dual images resolved on the holographic communicator pad. He had spent a substantial sum to secure usage of the holo-communicator. The technology was rare even in the Federation, which made it nearly nonexistent on the infrequently policed border between the Orion Syndicate and Klingon Empire.

    Terrence didn’t want to think about the debt he now owed and who he owed it to. All that mattered was the result. He gasped, breathless, as his wife Jasmine stood before him. The woman was striking, tall, chocolate, with hazel eyes. She had changed her hair since last they met. The austere bun had been replaced by a sleek bob, hiding her forehead and flaring out behind to her neck. She was so lifelike, Glover fought the urge to reach out and push back errant hair strands covering her left eye. “Jazz,” he whispered, his voice choking with emotion.

    “Terrence,” she said flatly. He hoped that it was just a quirk of the communication device that made her sound so remote. Though deep down he suspected otherwise. The last time they had talked, on her ship the Meharry, Jasmine had asked him for a divorce. He had been so stunned, so hurt, that he hadn’t been able to respond.

    It had taken him days to accept what she had proposed, but he could never do that. He had refused and he had demanded, asked, and finally begged for her to reconsider. Jasmine had at first been adamant.

    Forgoing his pride, Terrence enlisted Pell Ojana, an old friend for him, and a new friend for Jasmine. The Bajoran had been reluctant to get involved, but he knew she would. And it was because of Pell’s efforts that Jasmine had at least conceded to marriage counseling.

    The second person on the pad was a petit, severe looking Vulcan. “Counselor T’Luce, I presume.”

    The woman dipped her head slightly. She was sitting in a chair. “You presume correctly Captain Glover.” Jasmine had insisted on discussing their marital problems with a complete stranger, someone totally objective, and Terrence couldn’t disagree that no species he had thus encountered was better than Vulcans at being impartial and objective. “Shall we begin,” T’Luce said. The counselor gestured to Jasmine and that’s when Terrence noticed the couch behind his wife.

    Just seeing Jasmine again had so captivated him that he hadn’t paid attention to her surroundings. Terrence hoped his estranged wife was similarly distracted. He didn’t want her to known about the seedy, vole hole he was in right now. Nor did he want her to know about some of the questionable things he had been doing as part of his search for his father.

    In June, his father had disappeared. As soon as Terrence had been released from Jaros II, after voluntarily joining his crew to show how much he appreciated them breaking the law to save his life, the captain had set out to find him.

    Admiral Samson Glover was a predictable man, and for him to go off, without leaving any way to contact him, Terrence knew something was wrong, or that Starfleet had sent him on a dangerous mission. Of course, Command wouldn’t tell him anything so he had resolved to find out for himself. The war and what his crew had done for him had reinforced in Terrence’s mind that you had to take care of your own.

    If things didn’t go well with Jasmine, Samson and his long distance Uncle Sheldon would be the only family Terrence had left. He had failed Jasmine, but he would be damned if he let his father get entangled into something he might not be able to handle.

    “Captain Glover, would you care to start?” The Vulcan prodded. Terrence hadn’t realized a chasm of silence had formed since T’Luce had first suggested they commence.

    “Well, I, uh,” he said, his nerves getting the best of him. He had never been one to share his feelings, unless around intimates. He paused, took a deep breath, and pulled it together. Terrence knew he was going to have to do this. He had to open up, he had to show Jasmine how much she meant to him. He didn’t want to face the future without her.

    “I guess,” he paused again. “I don’t want a divorce,” he said, his emotions surging to thrust everything on his mind and heart out at once. He pushed back against that impulse. He needed to order his thoughts. He needed Jasmine to understand. “I know that things have been tough, really for the last several years. But we were at war, hardships were plentiful, for everyone.” Jasmine didn’t react. She just sat there, looking at him, or off into space. He really couldn’t tell.

    “Go on,” T’Luce said after a short time.

    “I thought things were going fine,” Terrence said, his voice hitching. Memories of the night he had spent with Dr. Rieta Cole slashed at him. They had finally given into their mutual attraction and it had been a catastrophic mistake. He hadn’t been able to muster the courage to tell Jasmine he had betrayed her, and now he was afraid admitting it would totally ruin his chances to save his marriage.

    Jasmine had already been ready to bolt without even knowing about his infidelity. T’Luce leaned forward, her pointed ears twitching. She caught the hitch, he realized with gloom. Terrence froze up, waiting for the inevitable question, but thankfully it didn’t come. He proceeded slowly, “I know Jasmine thinks having children with her are important to me, well I can’t lie, it was. But the war changed a lot of things.”

    “But it didn’t change that, you know it,” Jasmine charged, her voice heated. “I’m damaged goods to you, aren’t I Terrence?”

    He reared back as if punched, “How could you even think such a thing? Much less say it?”

    Jasmine shook her head. “I’m not even a full person anymore,” she tapped her artificial arm. She had lost her real one early in the war.

    “You’re my wife,” he declared, “And I don’t want that to change, ever.”

    “Really?” T’Luce asked, the question a well placed danger. Terrence gulped.

    Here it comes, he realized.

    “What do you mean by that question Counselor?” Jasmine asked.

    “I see that the captain is expert on making pronouncements, but do you feel his actions match his declarations?”

    “Well,” Jasmine pondered it, “I don’t know.”

    “How can you say that?” He asked, exasperated. “I even got you on Aegis so that we could be together.”

    “I’ve read both of your profiles,” T’Luce said. “Neither of you spent much time together before or after your marriage.”

    “Our courtship was haphazard,” Terrence admitted. “And a couple little things like two wars overshadowed building our marriage.”

    “I see,” the Vulcan replied, tapping her sharp chin. “Do you concur Lt. Mendes?” Terrence’s heart seized in his chest. Jasmine had already gone back to using her maiden name.

    “I guess,” Jasmine ventured. “No, Terrence is correct. There was very little time to build a foundation for our marriage. We were pulled every which way, and then the incident,” his wife faltered and Terrence’s heart thudded in his chest.

    “The Tyra System,” T’Luce remarked. “Would you care to discuss it?”

    “No, she wouldn’t,” Terrence snapped. Jasmine’s iciness thawed and she granted Terrence a small smile.

    “It’s okay Terrence,” she said quietly. “I lost my arm in the Tyra System. The Dominion assault there was brutal.”

    “I am aware,” T’Luce said. “I counseled several of the survivors.” Jasmine nodded at the woman, apparently in understanding. “Please excuse my interruption,” the counselor added before Glover snipped at her about it.

    “It…it left me feeling not whole, as…less of a woman,” she admitted. “I’ll never get over seeing the scarring, the burns for the first time,” Jasmine’s voice cracked and she lowered her head. Terrence reached out to her, his hand slicing through the photonic projection.

    “Oh Jazz,” he muttered.

    “Not just the amputated arm, but the theta radiation, it…it left me barren,” Jasmine said, her voice choking with tears.

    “Jasmine,” Tears streaked Terrence’s face. “I love you. I don’t care about having kids.”

    “But I do,” she snapped, her hazel eyes flashing and her nostrils flaring. “I wanted us to be a family.”

    “We are a family,” he pleaded. “Jazz, please just give me…”

    “No, no you don’t understand,” she shook her lowered head, her voice sounding like it was coming from an infernal pit. Her whole body shook. “I-I never told you…how could I…”

    “Jazz-Jasmine, I don’t understand,” he began.

    “I…,” she paused, to loudly suck in air. She looked at him, her eyes rimmed in tears. “I was pregnant.”
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Earth Spacedock


    Lt. Jasmine Mendes knew the counselor had placed a hand on her shoulder, for support, but she didn’t feel it. She did feel her husband’s anguish at her admission. Even across subspace, she could see how the news had stricken him, devastated him.

    As she had known it would in all the scenarios she had thought out, as she had debated whether to tell him or not. She had decided not to. What good would it do to wound him like she had been wounded? What selfish joy could she derive from dragging him into her pit of misery?

    So she had carried it around with her, the pain and the guilt, and it had warped her, turned her cold, numb, and afraid of the future.

    There were times when she could briefly escape herself and see and hear the terrible way she treated her husband, but felt powerless to change it. In a way she wanted to push Terrence away. She wanted to bear this agony alone. She deserved it.

    Jasmine should’ve taken the maternity leave that her captain had offered right before the mission into the Tyra System, but she planned to do so right after. She hadn’t thought the Dominion was going to be all that tough despite what she heard. And she was on the Mandela, a Galaxy-class ship, the best line in the Fleet.

    Once the battle for Tyra had been enjoined Jasmine had quickly learned the error of her ways. She had seen little combat during her time in the service and nothing like the demonic fury of the Jem’Hadar.

    The Mandela had almost made it out of that abattoir intact, the Dominion had largely fallen back after they had wiped out most of the Fleet and claimed the system. However, one or more of the overzealous monsters had hit the retreating Mandela on a strafing run, shredding what remained of its shields and slicing into Main Engineering. Plasma coolant tanks burst and theta radiation spread through the section, entangling her in its lethal grip. The plasma coolant took away her arm, but the radiation murdered her child and the possibility of having another.

    Life had lost something that day, and Jasmine doubted she would ever be able to recover it. So why drag down Terrence, whose future remained so bright?

    “Jasmine,” Terrence was quiet, his voice somber. Her heart had fluttered at seeing him again. Broad shoulders, jutting chin, sparkling black eyes, and smooth walnut brown complexion. So strong, so confident…but so sad. She knew the war had taken its toll on him as well, had turned him into something he never thought possible, had made him the author of acts that would haunt him for the rest of his life. He deserved a chance at a happiness she couldn’t give him.

    “Jasmine, I love you.” He declared. “And I love you even more now, because of what you’ve been able to come back from, and all by yourself.”

    “You-you’re not mad at me? For keeping this from you?” Terrence had told her about a previous relationship with a married woman, Dr. Nya Chace, with whom he had served early in his days on the Cuffe. Their relationship had produced a child, but Chace had terminated the pregnancy once she decided to get back with her husband.

    “Listen,” he paused, gathering his words. “I wish you had told me. I wanted to be there for you. This is something we could’ve faced and overcome together.”

    “Oh Terrence,” she said, “I couldn’t, I wouldn’t subject you to that.”

    “But why,” he cried, his voice clotted with pain.

    “No, not after…what happened before,” she said, hoping he would understand. His eyes widened in reply.

    “That…had nothing to do with you. That wasn’t your fault.”

    “What are you referring to Captain Glover?” T’Luce inquired, reminding Jasmine that the woman was still in the room.

    “That’s none of your business,” Jasmine barked, prompting a harsh chuckle from Terrence. She wasn’t going to completely pull out all of Terrence’s skeletons, or her own.

    “That’s my girl,” he remarked. But she knew, sadly, that she no longer was.

    “Terrence,” she began softly, “I didn’t treat you fairly. I was cold and distant,” she admitted. “I’m sorry.”

    “You don’t need to apologize,” he said quickly, “You should never apologize for that. Especially after what you went through,” he declared, “But now that it’s out in the open, we can move on from this, together.”

    “No,” Jasmine shook her head. “We can’t.”

    “I don’t understand,” he frowned. “I don’t love you any less; your scars mean nothing to me. I just want you back.”

    “Terrence…dear, our problems are deeper than even what happened to our child,” Jasmine remarked. “You know that.”

    “I-I…what do you mean?”

    “It was always a tempestuous pairing. We were so opposite, yet not so opposite at all it seemed,” Jasmine replied wistfully, as she remembered their early courting days from Deep Space Five.

    “We complemented each other,” Terrence offered. “We accentuated each other.”

    “Yes,” she nodded. “We did for a time, but maybe we are just too different for this to work. Especially if we don’t have something like children, our own family, binding us together.”

    “Jasmine, if we really want to make this work, we can,” he stated. “I do, but the question is, do you?”

    She sat back, not sure how to respond. She looked to the counselor, but the Vulcan merely looked at her with open curiosity. T’Luce was curious about her answer too. What good you are as a counselor, Jasmine huffed. She was glad she didn’t have to pay the woman for her time, another benefit of living in a moneyless economy.

    She sighed and gathered herself. She gazed straight at her husband. “Terrence, I could tell you maybe, and that’s how I feel, but that isn’t the right thing to do. I need time, I need space, I need to understand who I am now, what I want now since I can’t have a family with you. Since I can’t be the wife and mother I had wanted to be. And it would be wrong to ask you to wait around for me to find the answers I need to seek. So…I still want the divorce.”

    “Jazz, please,” Terrence was shaking so badly, his teeth chattered. “D-Don’t do this.”

    “I have to,” She said, touching where his face would be. “In time, I hope you understand.”

    “My God Jazz,” he replied. “How could you expect me to understand that? That you want to end our marriage? That you want to leave me,” he said, now looking away. He sniffled.


    “No,” he turned back to her, his eyes burning coals. “You’ve had your say. Now, it’s my turn. I love you, I’ve loved you since before even I knew how to describe that tightening in my chest and that heat across my skin whenever I was in your presence. There’s been no one in the galaxy, except you, that would ever make me think about settling down, of altering my career plans, but that is what I had wanted to do with you.

    And I’ll do that, for you. I’ll leave Starfleet right now. I just want to be there for you, with you.”


    “I’m not finished,” he exhaled, his body deflating. “But-but I haven’t been honest with you either.” His dead eyed look pinned her to her seat. “As much as I want to rail against your decision to end our marriage, you might be right.”

    Jasmine was stunned. Terrence never gave up on anything, or anyone. Ever. “Terrence…”

    “Jazz, Jasmine,” He said, his eyes boring into her. “I haven’t been faithful,” he said the words plainly, clearly, in his command voice. But Jasmine still hadn’t heard him.


    “It…happened several months ago. Only once…with Dr. Cole,” he said, his voice cracking as his eyes lost focus. He lowered his head. Jasmine couldn’t believe it. She had met the winsome medic in passing, and she and Terrence had seemed to be quite friendly, but she never would’ve imagined that something like this was going on.

    “Only once? Like that’s supposed to make it okay?” She balked. Her bluster covered the hot knife digging into her stomach.

    “I know, I know it doesn’t,” he said quickly, “But that’s the truth, and we both knew it was wrong as soon as it was over. That’s why she left the ship.”

    “How dare you bring me onto the same ship you had her on! Is that why you did it, you needed a new playmate?” The blade continued ripping into her insides. At the moment she prayed it would hit a vital organ so she didn’t have to hear any more from Terrence.

    “Of course not, I wanted you with me because sleeping with Rieta brought it home how much I loved you and needed you in my life.”


    “Hell Jazz, it wasn’t like you were much of a wife to me then.”

    “Bastard! And-and after what I just shared with you.”

    “I didn’t know, I didn’t know that at the time,” Glover’s voice was raw with agony. “All I knew, all I felt was my wife pulling away from me, pushing me away, not wanting us to be together. Rieta was…she was just different. We bonded during the war…and I let it spiral out of control.”

    “And you’re telling me this now?”

    “I want us to be together,” he said, “but it has to be based on trust, all around. You were honest with me and I wanted to be honest with you.”

    “Terrence, I knew you were capable of many things, but nothing like this. I never could imagine you a cheater, as someone who would betray his vows…as someone who would hurt me like this.”

    “I didn’t either…until it happened. But it was one night…one time. I know, God I know what a mistake it was. I want another chance, I need another chance, please give me another chance.” He was up now, hovering in front of her. Terrence lowered to one knee to be eye level with her. “Please…” She had heard Terrence beg more in this counseling session than she had ever in her life. She knew he loved her, and that knowledge melted her heart. But Jasmine also knew that love sometimes just wasn’t enough.

    She reached out to him, her hand hovering over where his heart would be parsecs away. “I’m sorry Terrence, but this is for the best. For both of us, it would seem. I need to find my way again, and maybe you do to.”

    “That’s not what I wanted to hear,” he admitted. “It’s what I’ve been dreading hearing, even if I it could feel it coming.” He reached out, attempting to clutch the hand over his heart. She pulled it away. Terrence stood up and resumed his position.

    The sparkle was gone from his eyes, and his expression was impassive. But Jasmine knew him well enough to know how crushed he was, and how he was trying to put on a brave front. “I-I’ll sign the papers and send them to you in the morning.”

    “Thank you Terrence, it really is for…” He deactivated the link. The concluding words died on Jasmine’s tongue. She crumpled over as the knife sliced her open. Deluged in tears, she couldn’t talk, she barely could breathe. She knew she was a mess, and that her emotional meltdown must have been disgusting to the Vulcan counselor, but the other woman kindly said nothing. In fact, T’Luce calmly waited for her to right herself again. The counselor waited a long time.

    The End