Call Down The Thunder

T'Shaini was pulled from her scrutiny of the suited figure entering the room by the feel of Javier going limp in her arms. Quickly checking, she found his pulse to be faint, but steady enough considering what his body had been through. Looking up to Jillian, she saw the doctor grabbing her med kit. Gaze returning to the figure by the door, she observed that its posture was non-threatening, and that Harry's posture was decidedly not. "Harry, stand down."

"No."

The suit had been frozen, from the moment Harry had raised his weapon but now it lifted one hand and, incongruously, waved.

"Cadet Finn…stand down."

"Due respect, Ma'am, I will not," he kept his eye and his weapon aimed, "we are in a hostile environment faced by an unknown…"

Ridiculous, is he not paying any attention to its body language? "Will whoever is in that thing please remove the helmet and identify yourself?" Trusting that she would be obeyed she turned her attention back to Jillian. "I am concerned that Javier has not regained consciousness, can you administer anything to wake him?"

"Ordinarily I would consider it risky, but under the circumstances…" She pulled a hypo of adrenaline and taking a deep breath and hoping for the best, pressed it against Javier's neck.

Finn ignored whatever was happening behind him. All his attention was on the hands reaching up towards the neck of the black suit. Good sign but, even if it was a friendly, there was every chance he'd be as infected as the stricken engineer.

When the seal gave and the mask came off, however…

"TORRIK?"

There was pain and there was warmth, and there was a closeness that he longed for and that was what PO2 Costala found when he awoke. Swallowing and then clearing his throat slightly, Javier took a deep breath and hugged into T'Shaini. "I just had the most f**ked up dream you could imagine," Javier said. "We were on some planet and there were all these weird creatures around. And I got infected and Harry Finn wanted to shoot me and I was going to kill him because I thought you and he had.." The engineer opened his eyes as a tremor ran through him. He looked at the people in the room. They all seemed on the razor's edge just like they had in his dream. It wasn't a dream. the engineer conceded as he realized he was wearing the suit.

"Shit," was all Javier could think of to express how he felt.

Comfortable that, physically at least, the engineer would be fine, Jillian gave in to the dual need for distance from the clearly uncomfortable situation between Javier and T'Shaini and a desire to thwack Nils for scaring them all half to death. She quietly excused herself from her patient and crossed to the cave's entrance. "I.. I… You…" she tried to express her frustration, finally settled on a one-handed shoulder shove and a hug, which he returned, more gently than she could have imagined.

Holding on tight, mind racing beneath her impassive exterior, T'Shaini settled on saying something perhaps oversimplified, but true. "I wish it were a dream."

"Fking-ay," Javier said as he pulled away from the Vulcan woman. It was, as Gunny Hartman put it, 'time to get his shit together' and assess the clusterfk he found himself in. Things that I know. I'm infected. I got an anti-virus that fked my world up. Harry wants to kill me. T'Shaini is warm and a good hugger but possibly with Finn now. Lt. Torrik has a combat suit but doesn't look as dapper as myself. I am on a world full of creatures who want to eat me. Conclusion: It's them or me. "I don't know about you guys," the former marine said as he stood to his feet, "but I'm tired of running. Let's fk this world up in true marine fashion."

Stuck between dueling couples, Finn had made brief eye-contact with Jackson, who'd also been ready to shoot first, apologize, later. Pointing to his own eyes, he gestured towards the tunnel, then pointed his thumb down. The Chief nodded and Harry, confident the older man was on his way to keep an eye on the trap and the tunnel, turned his attention to the now-very-raring to go Costala. "Funny you should mention that," he said, in response to the young man's gung-ho proposition, "because that's just what we have in mind. But first I have a couple of questions, starting with, do you have any brothers?"

Javier eyed T'Shaini's new flame and replied, "Not that my family is any of your business Finn but I have three brothers in Lisbon. One older and two younger, I also have three sisters, one older and two younger. I don't think my parents ever believed in birth control," the engineer said with a sly smile toward T'Shaini. So what if they're together.. I'm not going down without a fight.

He doesn't remember, Finn was grateful for that, at least. Thinking that one was akin to some perambulatory piece of rot had to be almost as low as it got. "Great, good to know… now question two: are you up to joining me in blowing the shit out of a few thousand undead and the fleet they're building? If you are," he gave the kid a steady look, one that he hoped held no sign of either doubt or exhaustion before admitting, "I need a demolitions expert."

"Do you think it is advisable for the two of you to separate yourself from the group?" She crossed over and spoke in a low tone to Harry. "Is he physically capable of what you suggest? How much more can his body take?"

Finn turned himself slightly away from Costala and answered quietly, "Honestly, I'm not certain how much more any of us can take but the fact remains, 'father' is getting himself a fleet built, the Hawking is an unknown quantity, and time is not our friend. Like it or not, this is how it has to play…"

It was sickening. No shame, what so ever, throw it in my face.. the engineer thought as he watched Finn and T'Shaini mingling. He cleared his throat violently and said, "While you two are yapping we lose valuable time that could be spent blowing the shit out of something."

T'Shaini looked at Javier, attempting to discern the cause of the edge she heard in his voice. "I would like to voice my concern…"

"Pale and tragic boy is right," Harry cut in, opening his stance. "Costala, if you could start assembling the ordnance, I'll be down in a minute; Lieutenant," he addressed T'Shaini formally, "request permission to take the car." Then he glanced towards Munro. Before anything else happened, he needed to see a doctor, "we'll roll out as soon as we're prepped."

"Right and that ordinance would be where exactly?" the engineer asked.

Finn just looked blank for a moment then, "In the basement… where you found it and… ah… right." He looked to T'Shaini for help.

Clearly the shock his system received from the serum has induced some sort of localized amnesia… "I will lead the way." Javier looked down and picked up the suit's helmet from the floor. He frowned at it then followed the Vulcan woman as she led him to the fireworks.

Originally posted on 7 December 2007 by Harry Finn, T'shiani, and Javier Costala


Javier trailed along behind T'Shaini trying to think of something to say. How and when did this happen? Her and Finn..it doesn't seem possible. Surely I missed some signal.. They came to the ladder that descended into the depths below. He took her arm and gently guided her to the side as T'Shaini started to climb down. "I'll go down first," Javier said as he looked down the ladder. The engineer clambered down, looked around the room for possible hostiles then watched as the Vulcan woman climbed down. When she made it to the second to the last rung he held her waist and steadied her as she dismounted then allowed himself to hug her briefly. God she feels good. Javier thought sadly.

Oh. Taken by surprise by his embrace, T'Shaini did not get a chance to fully return it before he pulled away. Stalled in confusion, she tried to deduce what he was feeling. He was looking at her, but not making full contact. Her emotions unavailable for assistance, she could rely only on observation. She had come to assume that her emotional entanglement was what had made him of such importance in her life, relieved of the shifting perspective that came with such emotions she was fascinated to discover that that was not the case. Unsure of how to convey this, she lifted her hand to indicate the direction in which they needed to proceed.

All hope deflated by her emotionless response, Javier turned and trudged along towards a corridor that led away from the main room. He noticed the green smear of copper based blood on the wall and realized that it had probably been here when T'Shaini had changed her mind about him. This goddamn suit and virus…what..how stupid could I have been? Oh I'm hungry so I'll just eat some of the local cuisine on this crusty, infected, little shitball of a world. the engineer cursed as he passed by the light weapons and went straight to the explosives. The others had been down here and someone had separated the various chemicals and components. Javier found a couple of backpacks and began to stash the equipment and explosives into them after he had assembled them into crude IEDs.

"I'm glad you found those detonaters," he said, trying to make conversation as he worked, "now I'll just have to rig a trigger mechanism for each of these."

Leaving Javier to sift through the things she was unfamiliar with, T'Shaini had sought out and found a case of water and what looked to be field rations. They will of course have to be analyzed before they are consumed. His words shattering the silence that had stretched between them she lowered the box and looked at him. "I am grateful that they will be of assistance. Will it be difficult to 'rig'?"

"Well, I'll need to find a trigger that suits the enviroment..and since I don't know what the environment is I'll have to get creative," Javier replied as he carefully constructed the devices. "I could create a trigger that would be activated by vibration but with all those creatures walking around that may not be such a good idea. If I had a chronometer I could set a timed detonation but I'd rather be able to trigger them myself," he explained.

"Slow down, lay down, remember it's just you and me," Javier began to sing softly as he manufactured twelve devices that would have a catastrophic effect on anything within 600 meters of them when they detonated. "Don't sell out or bow out, remember.." he stopped singing before he said the words 'how this used to be' and moved to "I just want you closer..is that alright? Baby, let's get closer." The words made the empty feeling worse and so the engineer stopped singing and just concentrated on his task.

T'Shaini leaned against the wall, mesmerized as always by the knowledge and efficiency with which he worked, so far from what you would expect when you first encountered his normally carefree nature. His voice drifted through the room sending signals that she could feel tugging at the stopgaps she had placed. Head tipped to the side she let the sound wash over her. What happens if they do not hold? What is more important? About to give in to the gentle tide, his voice abruptly stopped. "Please continue. It was sounded like home…"

"A home I'll never see," he commented in a whisper. The engineer carefully placed another device in the backpack and looked over the other more volatile chemicals. Finding what he needed, the former marine demo expert began to construct trigger detonaters, taking his time and working very cautiously with the propellants. "Grant my last request, and just let me hold you. Don't shrug your shoulders. Lay down beside me," Javier started to croon. In the past he had found that singing helped him focus and relax, good attributes to have when building a weapon that could kill him if he made one fatal mistake. "Sure I can't accept that we're going nowhere.." the engineer stopped abruptly, wondering why he had chosen that particular song. "..but one last time lets go there. Lay down beside me."

T'Shaini slid down the wall and pulled her knees into her body as the words he chose to sing echoed in the underground chamber. 'Grant my last request'…he does not believe he will survive this. What could she say, there were no easy platitudes that he would accept. He was infected with a virus that was eating its way through not only his body but the essence of who he was…to tell him 'it would be alright' would be an insult. Chin resting on her knees, she watched him in silence searching for the right words, or any words that would be of assistance.

These two chemicals will mix and BOOM. "I found that I'm bound to wander down this lonely road," Javier continued with the song half-heartedly. This is my song. I mean, how many times can a guy screw up? "and I realize all about your lies but I'm no wiser than I was before." Javier allowed his eyes to move from the detonator to T'Shaini. I wonder if I should let Finn place these charges. he thought as he imagined Harry blowing himself to pieces. It was tempting but the engineer knew it was one step he wasn't capable of taking, even for T'Shaini. Finally he finished the process, and placed the trigger mechanisms in the pockets of the combat suit. They would need a soft ride to their destination.

"I'm finished," Javier stated as he gathered the IEDs and placed them in the packs. He put the ugly helmet on some he could carry the packs easily. Slinging one of the straps from each pack over each of his shoulders, he muled the demolitions and followed T'Shaini out of the room.

She rose to her feet, leaned over, hoisted the boxes of water and rations to her waist and made her way back to the ladder. I have to say something. If I let this moment pass I will regret it. Coming face to face with the ladder forced her into a decision. She turned, rather clumsily, to address him. "I feel the need to remind you of an earlier conversation. In the corridor, you promised me that you would do whatever it takes to remain…you." She started up the ladder only to turn back again. "I do not remind you because I believe you would have forgotten, I remind you because you may believe I have." With those words left hanging in the air, she disappeared up the ladder.

Javier sighed as he set one foot on the ladder then leaned forward until the helmet's faceplate touched the ladder. He let it rest against a metal rung as the ladder vibrated because of the Vulcan's ascent. "What does one more broken promise matter now?" he asked himself softly. He shook off the melancholy feelings and scrambled up the ladder. There was a fleet to destroy. And creatures to obliterate, he could agonize over what he had done wrong later. Entering the main room he placed the backpacks in the rumble seat of the vehicle. "I think I should drive," Javier told Finn, as he admired the car's lines.

Originally posted on 8 December 2007 by Javier Costala and T'Shaini


T’Maekh was tired. He was hungry, he was thirsty and he was, on the whole, over it.

Siphoning fuel from an abandoned vehicle with some tubing quickly extracted from the decimated vehicle’s engine, he hoped he’d have enough to get back to the team’s temporary shelter with his discoveries.

He still got the creeps thinking about it… in the pitch of the previous night… all those shuffling, grunting bodies working their way south of the city. He’d had to follow, see what they were up to and, in doing so, had almost corpsified himself by flying into what had to be the tallest building in the city, a spiring, pyramidal design, he’d been hit by a sudden wave of vertigo and had gone into a tailspin that would have left him just so much smear on the pavement.

He’d pulled out, but lost Jessica Rabbit, Finn's favored TR-116 in the process. Harry is gonna kill me.

Well, Harry might not get the chance. Especially not if the zombies he’d seen assembling outside of town managed to finish the job they’d started. Started and, surprisingly spry for a bunch of reanimated flesh, made serious headway on.

Noting the position of the activity, Khev had started back towards the city, leaving the oddly rusty landscape behind. He’d made it about two kilometers before the rocket had begun to sputter and he’d been forced to land, hoofing it until he came upon the dead car he was now cannibalizing.

The sun was just above the horizon. There were no zombies in sight. He prayed that his team was still where he’d left them. And still… themselves.

Originally posted on 8 December 2007 by Harry Finn


.: Meanwhile in the bat cave:.

L’mek noticed everyone in there own little worlds as they hugged argued or talked amongst themselves it was starting to get on his nerves. And when T’Shaini brought the cure to Dr, Munro without even looking at him that was the last straw. He was going to be a help on this mission or die tiring.

The Romulan doctor stood up noticing the stiffness in his legs from sitting for so long and without a word walked to the hallway to find this armory he heard so much about. As he passed chief Jackson he noticed the look of suspicion he gained. But he probably deserved it. Then he climbed down the ladder and landed in water. Adding to his now noticeable frustration.

As he walked down the large area he noticed a large amount of blood on the wall and since he had never been down there and Khev had not been seen for hours he figured that was the impact source of T’Shaini’s head trauma. After continuing for a brief moment longer he found the room he was looking for at the top of some stairs.

First he needed food for the crew so he searched all the crates until he found backpacks, “This will do nicely” he said as he pulled out two of them and put them on the floor. Next he opened a smaller one with a picture on it, and in it he found the same devices that fit in his bomb launcher he found earlier. He took out enough black ones to replace the ones he used and one more white one. To signal the crew of Nills doesn’t find a new way to contact the crew. Finally he found what he was looking for in the first place, Food.

The first thing on his mind was to eat it but thinking on how long it must have been sitting there he decided that was a bad course of action. So knowing the monsters of this planet weren’t interested in finding them anymore since they knew where they where, he decided to scan it with his tricorder. Success, it was all good. Some sort of long lasting military ration or well preserved in the least. And the best part it did not seem to be infected.

L’mek quickly filled both bags and hoisted them on his back. Normally that would be nothing to a Romulan but due to lack of food in the first place it was a tad hard. The lack of electrolytes, simple sugars and nutrients in the first place had him feeling very weak. But he lifted them anyway and brought them back topside. Upon reaching the top he dropped the bags so they would reveal the food and said. “ I think we need a slight break.”

Originally posted on 8 December 2007 by L'mek


Nils held Jillian close, balancing his helmet on one hand behind the Doctor's back. Her willingness to let him hold her thrilled him to the core, but he had to be careful not to let that thrill cause damage to the fragile woman. The suit still amplified his muscle movement. The events surrounding them became a blurry background as the two found solace in their friendship, which was always more than a friendship despite their breakup.
The moment the first awkward pair were out of the room, Harry crossed to the other candidates and wondered if, for clarity’s sake, they could paint each suited man’s initials on their respective chests.

Not that it would matter much, where he and Costala were going.

"So Batman and I are taking a road trip," he announced without preamble, "to try and stop that fleet but," he looked to Torrik, "even if we succeed, I don't think it's going to solve the problem."

Nils pulled awkwardly away from Jillian and made some space between them. No point splashing their display in front of the crew. "And what do you see as the problem? My main concern is getting the hell off this planet."

"And it's nice to have dreams," Finn told the young man, "But until we have a viable route off-world, we have to deal with the mess we're in… the 'first contact' that, as you yourself pointed out, is working on going galactic."

Nils sighed in frustration. He knew there was not a chance of getting off the planet until Hawking sent a shuttle or at least until communication with the ship was restored. Their only choice…their only duty was to do whatever damage they could to the zombies and their nefarious plot to send the virus off the planet. "You're right… You're right," he conceded. "It's probably against the Prime Directive for us to do anything, but unless we locate and take out the zombie prime minister I don't think any efforts will be lasting."

"Funny you should mention that," Harry replied, "because taking out the Prime Minister, or 'Father' or 'Order' or 'the whacked out intelligence in Javi's brain', whatever you want to call it, is your new objective."

Nils brow fell low and his lips pulled tight. "My new objective," Nils said incredulously. "Or hers," he said pointing to Jillian. "Jillian, I think the security officer just indicated that you should destroy the zombie overlord. Should we do that before or after we discover a way to break the transwarp barrier?"

"ME? You would have ME destroy El Dutche?", she stepped back in disbelief, "Nils, I'm a doctor for crying out loud. I save people, I don't kill them. I mean, sure…if it's self defense, but I'm not going to go out there an knowingly kill somebody."

"Will you people LISTEN to yourselves?" Harry waved his hands wildly, "There is no killing here… they're ALREADY DEAD. And even if… when… if Costala and I decimate that fledgling fleet and all the kings men who are building it, there's an entire planet filled with more dead people who are going to do whatever Daddy asks them to. You," he pointed a rigid finger at Torrik, "are a frigging genius and you got yourself a super suit and everyone else here is on the 'way smarter than Harry' bandwagon, so… so…." shit he was losing focus…

Jillian reached out and rested a hand on Harry's shoulder, "Woah, easy….take it easy, Harry." She looked up at Nils, "Alright…he's right. Nils, we have to do this together…"

Nils looked from Jillian to Harry in utter shock. "Do what? Look, I don't disagree with your premise, but exactly how do you suggest we go about finding this "Order" and even if we do… How the hell do we kill him? We don't have the slightest idea of his nature?" The Bajoran again glanced back and forth between the two. "I don't have the slightest notion of how to proceed… Not even a theory… Or even enough data to begin hypothesizing… Anyone have any ideas?"

"Well…" Jillian looked up at the ceiling, hoping, praying to grab at any idea that seemed plausible, "There must be a way we can triangulate his position. Let's take this one step at a time. First thing is first: Where the hell is he."

"Use what you have, use what you know," Harry said, his voice laden with exhaustion, "You have a suit with a pipeline into the Father's brain… at least, Costala's suit does, so yours might, too," he crossed his arms over his chest, winced, and uncrossed them, started to pace instead, "we know there was a hostile incursion from the basement, the barricaded tunnel," he looked up at the two, "what else do we [i]know]/i]?"

"Neurogenic field…" Nils said his eyes distant. "We know that the basis for Father's tech is neurogenics… Jillian might be able to isolate the primary energy signature… Then…" Nils mind spun. There wasn't enough information to extrapolate to a reasonable outcome. "Maybe I can use the suit to track that signature to the source…or maybe use it in conjunction with her tricorder to locate him." He shook his head in defeat. "We're grasping at straws."

"It's a start. That's all that matters right now", Jillian dug out her tricorders and tossed one of the to Nils, "You'll need this. I'll work on the energy signature." She turned her attention towards Harry, "You still need to figure out how the hell we're going to get out of here…preferably, alive."

No pressure, Finn stopped prowling and looked back at Slugger, who certainly deserved better than being stranded on this shit hole waiting for about the worst kind of ending he'd ever seen, "The best bet is to find Father," he told her, ignoring the rolling eye of Torrik, "he's got the communications on this planet wrapped… it's possible that the closer you get to him, the better chance you'll have to jack into his network. If you can do that, maybe you can hail the Hawking and get the hell out of here." He glanced to where Marc was still unconscious, frowned as he realized L'Mek was nowhere to be seen and it hit him that it was too much: too much and too many people and in the end, he was nothing more than point-and-shoot Harry.

Nils shook his head, doubt closing in. "We'll work on it…" He glanced around cautiously. "You're going to keep on eye on Costala, right? He's giving me the creeps."

"Both eyes," Harry responded, "as long as I can keep 'em open," he added, looking at Munro, "Which reminds me… I need a favor."

Jillian smiled and nodded. She had been a doctor long enough to know what a "favor" meant, "Need a little pick me up?", she offered.

Harry didn't smile back. He'd been scrupulous about avoiding any kind of unnecessary meds, even before the drinking and after… well, he didn't want to find out how easy it could be to find another addiction. "More like a massive pick-me-up," he countered, "and I'll need to be able to administer it, myself… when I need it." Like, say, when we hit the wall of zombies in the ship yard. "You have anything that'll do the job?"

Jillian winced - she wasn't exactly keen on the idea of a "patient" administering meds to themselves, whenever they wanted. But, then again, they could be dead in an hour. She reached into her med kit and pulled out a hypospray loaded with Epinephrine, "Here, " she tossed the hypo over to him, "I would recommend NOT exceeding 20cc's in a day, understood?", she asked.

Catching it, Harry eyed the doc, "What happens if…?"

"Your muscles will explode, and you'll turn into a hot puddle of purple goo." She looked back up at Harry, "And don't think I'm kidding."

"Never would have occurred to me," he assured her, "Thanks." He looked at the both of them, tried to think of something not idiotic to say, came up empty. "Good luck," he told them, tried a smile on Munro, then turned to load his weapons into the car as the missing L'Mek appeared at the wide entrance to the cavern.

Jillian turned her attention back to Nils. Before he could resist she walked into his arms again and kissed him. She pulled back just as quickly, "It just occurred to be that we may never get the chance to do that again."

Nils tilted his head to the side, a gesture that Jillian had never seen him to before, "We're going to get through this. And we will do that again," he smiled.

"Alright then…let's figure out how we're going to kick this guy's ass."

Originally posted on 8 December 2007 by Harry Finn, Torrik Nils and Jillian Munro


"I think I should drive."

He had the helmet on, again. Of all the nerve-wracking aspects this entire road-trip presented, the fact that the engineer had once again chosen to hide behind a mask wrenched Harry's innards the most. Still, the adolescent claim to the steering wheel was almost enough to belay any tension caused by the ominously shrouded features.

"Not a chance, kid," he countered, dredging up a good-natured tone from somewhere, "I'm taking the wheel," and when he saw the puffing up of protest in Costala added, "you know the drill - age before beauty," and hoped the self-derogatory declaration would be enough to chill any potential heat.

T'Shaini watched their exchange from across the room, where she and Jillian were making certain the water and field rations she had brought up with her were safe for consumption. Well, Jillian was, T'Shaini was merely an observer.

Running her tricorder over the last of the provisions, Jillian looked up at Tee and smiled. "All clear…L'Mek found some food as well so I will go distribute the water." Following the counselors gaze she toed a box in her direction. "Why don't you make sure the boys have some for their drive."

"Yes, of course." T'Shaini gathered food and water and walked back to the car. Leaning over to deposit it in the front seat she tried to catch Javier's attention, but the enigmatic countenance of the helmet turned blandly away. I must respect his wish for solitude. Turning instead to Harry, she motioned for him to step away from the car with her. "I fear that lack of confidence in the possibility of recovery will make Javier reckless with his own life. I know this is an imposition, but I would like to ask if you can, if you see it arise, attempt to belay that impulse." Looking down at the bottle of water in her hand, she blinked for a moment, then remembered why she had brought it with her and handed it to Harry.

"Thanks," he accepted the water, unsealed the bottle and took a long drink to forestall whatever lame response he knew was going to come out of his mouth. Stale, flat and tepid, it was probably the best thing he'd tasted since… since too long ago to bother trying to remember. After draining half the container he lowered the bottle and met her eyes which, dammit, clearly expected some kind of answer; try as he might, he just couldn't come up with one that was both honest and comforting. "I… look… about this mission… "

The hesitation in his voice told her more than she wanted to know. Perhaps I am misreading it. Unsure now, of whether the hesitation was due to not wanting to voice his concerns to her or the proximity to others she took his arm and walked further away. "What about this mission?"

Well, let's see: two guys, a car and some explosives versus a few thousand undead… how do I tally the suck? was what he thought. "The odds are long," was what he said. "The objective isn't impossible or I'd never have recommended it but it's going to be… it's a long shot." Harry studied the woman before him, as changed in her own way as the man he had thought she loved. Finn didn't know what, if anything, his words meant to her but she'd asked him to help Costala, so…. "I'll do everything I can to make sure he comes back," he finally offered… the best he could do and be honest.

"That is all I can ask." She found herself physically unable to even attempt a smile, but she could pretend as if she had. "If nothing else it will assure that you will endeavor to return as well. I would hate to lose a patient." Her tone was flatter than she had planned, but it was at least an approximation of her old self.

He looked down at the bottle she'd handed him, started tossing it from hand to hand, "Right," he said, his own voice sounding hollow in his ears. "Right." Harry turned to walk back to the car and the mission and the animosity that Javier Costala had become but, quite suddenly, he spun back towards the counselor… the one person aboard the Hawking who understood how he had become who he was. "Wendy," he closed in, quietly addressed the woman as if he still knew her, "however this plays out… who comes back, who doesn't… don't let it turn you into me. It's not… I can't… " but in the end, he wasn't a man for words; never had been. If he had… Sara… everything… might all have ended so differently.

"Wish us luck," was all he managed before walking away, not even waiting for her answer.

T'Shaini stared at his back as he left, letting his words reverberate in her head. Don't let it turn you into me… she could have argued that it was her only choice, given the situation. She could also have argued that it was her nature, being Vulcan. But if she were honest with herself (and what was the point of not being honest with yourself) she knew it was not consistent with the choices she had made with her life. In a very real sense, no matter how necessary it was in the moment, she knew she was taking the easy way out. Realizing that she had been staring at the armor encased figure that was Javier (and how appropriate was that image considering his recent behavior) she ran her fingers through her hair, ugh, what I would not give for a shower. and walked over to the other side of the car.

Clasping her hands in front of her, she stood next to Javier trying to fathom the unfathomable.

Originally posted on 9 December 2007 by T'Shaini


:: AIRSHIP KILLDEER ::

"…which is when I spotted you," Pev concluded.

Nathan nodded. "Works for me, dude. Any ideas as to what the hell's happening here?"

Pev shook his blue head. "I've some theories, but nothing concrete, as I have not had access to any laboratories. I do have a theory, though, which may help in the event that any of us are infected by the virus. There is a refrigeration unit in the lounge off of the main flight deck."

Trann shrugged. "So we can get cold drinks?"

Pev shook his head. "So we can slow down the metabolic process of cellular degeneration." He looked to Nathan. "I would suggest that we could place a victim in a lowered temperature. Molecules move slower in colder air. Lower temperature, lower heart rate, I believe it could delay the tranformation process, at least somewhat."

Tatiana nodded. "I think the Lt. Commander has a point, Captain."

Pev locked the wheel of the airship. "Sir, I must admit I am unqualified to steer this ship. If someone else here could take over, I believe I can be of greater use elsewhere, such as trying to determine where the zombies are congregating." He stepped away and waited for someone to take the wheel.

Originally posted on 11 December 2007 by Pev


"Oh! Can I?"

"Ya, sure…wait, do you have any flying experience?"

Camenze was already at the helm, gently turning the craft into the rising air currents she know would be there. "No, not really, but back home I used to watch these hawk-like birds we had floating on airstreams off the front of my mother's house, she was on a cliff, anyway, I'm smarter then a bird so…Opps! Oh, that was a bit scary! Sorry! J'kell, got it now!"

The group exchanged a few worried glances, then continued their conversation about cooling units, rotting flesh, and zombies congregating. Camenze's mind, after so long being in survival mode, was just enjoying the flight.

Pev walked to her left side, peering over the side. "Well, you are doing more than passibly well. Hawks, hum?"

"Yes."

"And?"

She paused, looking down at her blue friend. "Years of sailing. This is just a three dimensional sailboat, sir." He looked up at her and grinned.

"Injured?"

"Not my blood, sir, though one of my blades took a real nick, it's going to take a while to get that out."

"Ah." he paused, still studying the ground below, watching the movements of the locals. Without looking back he spoke to Camenze over his shoulder. "Taray? One question, though. Why is there a long string of heads trailing this aircraft."

"Long story, sir. Let's just say it was a brilliant idea that just came to me."

"Hum. It's got a revolting smell to it."

"Yes, sir." She gazed out at the planet below and in a moment was lost in worry for her fellow crew mates, still some where out there.

"Could be worst, though."

Camenze glanced back, imagining she could see the string of heads following them like a morbid kite-tail.

"Sir?" She questioned.

"Could smell like Poi." And with that he turned and walked away.

Originally posted on 11 December 2007 by Pev


Halcyon Master Control

He trolled the grid but still, the net remained empty of his desire, bestowing nothing but shards of the echoes of his own, futile, calls.

Where had he gone?

<>My son… <>

Tennyson’s awareness hissed at the loss and tentacles of his ire lashed across the synaptic net, causing a ripple in the tide of production, a suspension in the shambling hunt for the Benjamin.

Gathering himself inwards, he left his progeny to static for a time… a short respite from the grand design… and in that space he culled the most worthy of the lesser race and to these he gave the gift of a new purpose and the means to achieve it.

Some he would set to find the errant captain; others would be tasked to root out the pernicious elements of chaos, hunkered in the seat of the last Resistance and hashing out their petty plots; the remainder he would sow throughout the birthing fleet, to stand sentry, should any of those plots come to fruition.

Upon the moment of their release, hounds to the hunt, the ink-black spirit of Lerad flowed forth once more, flooding the airwaves in his own dark seeking. His son’s absence was temporary, of this he was certain. A small rebellion… petty and adolescent but… understandable. It was always so with untempered youth.

All it wanted was a father’s gentle persuasion: a guiding hand to lead the way through the rough and onto the path of righteousness; a subtle adjustment to the eyes of the soul, that it may better see where the truth lies.

Originally posted on 11 December 2007 by Harry Finn


.: Circling above the mouth of Hell :.

He was alone. Leaning against a railing, he looked out over what was once the capital city of a world teeming with life and bursting with the potential of a people thirsty for knowledge. He wondered if, had he come here years ago, what the view from the airship would have been. Had people used the airship for that purpose back then; as a tourist attraction? On some worlds a thing like this would be good business. People would pay good money to float lazily above the cities and countrysides of picturesque worlds like Bajor, Earth, or Risa. Even on Cestus II, where tourism was almost non-exsistent, there were still vendors who offered such services.

He'd gone on one vessel like the one he was riding now when he was very young. The Borg had made memories of those carefree days hard to come by, but he'd seen photos of many such outings when he lived with Sean and Sarah Ryan following his experiences with the Borg. One photo, with an aerial view of Pike City as a backdrop, showed him a smiling little boy, flanked by his grandparents in the basket of a hot air balloon. They'd both reminded him on several occasions that he enjoyed the view from the air because; "It is so quiet." He liked quiet back then. These days, quiet was a dream that he'd learned not to hold on to. Whether it was one of his crew, Three, or one of a million other things that the teen was juggling-when he wasn't killing zombies, chasing rogue captains, or representing the Federation by taking his clothes off, Nathan was always engaged in something it seemed. So standing here, floating above the chaos with only the sounds of the wind and the subtle hum of the propellers in his ears, the teen closed his eyes and simply existed.

His simple existence lasted about five seconds.

"Sir?" came the doctor's voice from directly behind him, cutting through his solitude like a bat'leth. "I'm just checking everyone out…to make sure no one is hurt." Or bitten. The last bit remained unsaid, but may as well have been written on the doctor's forehead. Tricorder in hand, she awaited the go ahead. Nathan simply shrugged.

"Sure. I'm fine though." He informed her. "I don't think I fell or anything. And I know I didn't get bitten."

Thorne nodded, raising the tricorder. Moments passed without words as she absorbed the information revealed by her scans. "Ok." She finally sighed. "You're not infected, or otherwise injured."

"Way out." the teen grinned, hoping that she'd busy herself scanning someone else.

"Captain," came the voice of Pev from a viewing window near the front of the ship, "I think you need to see this." Nathan turned, wondering at the tone of concern in the S'ti'ach's voice. Pev never sounded overly concerned. The captain walked over to his XO and followed the direction of Pev's finger. There, in the distance, along the shore of the river, stood a series of open-roofed buildings. White clouds of vapor rolled forth from underneath massive tubes of metal; tubes that had fins in places. Tubes that were being raised slowly on rails to point towards the sky.

"Ships," said Pev quietly. "It is a fleet of ships."

The other members of the Hawking crew quickly gathered at the window, save Camenze who continued to fly the airship. But it was obvious that she too had seen. For a chilling moment silence descended like a shroud, as if nothing existed but the dark grey ships in the light grey distance on the all-grey world. Even the sound of the platforms being raised did not reach the air ship; some trick of physics carrying the thunderous clanking away from the staring crew.

"We need to get through to the ship." Nathan thought aloud, his eyes glued to the evil construction job being assembled before them. He didn't need to voice the fact that they couldn't allow that fleet to get off the ground.

Pev looked away from the fleet and up to his captain. "Sir, should we be able to reach the Hawking, I recommend the preparation of General Order 24."

It sounded so clinical. The order to exterminate all life on a planet. The words tore at the XO's throat, but the kernel of the idea had come to him while he was still dodging undead on the surface of the planet. There was nothing here to save, no good that could come of this place's continued existence. Now ships were being prepared to launch against the stars. Ships that would be filled with these creatures, intent only on dealing death. They needed to be stopped before they got that far.

Pev spoke his next thought aloud: "We must destroy them all."

Originally posted on 12 December 207 by Nathan Benjamin and Pev


They were talking about him, hidden in their little groups, talking amongst themselves, talking in low conspiratorial tones, their words too low to be heard, but he knew by their fleeting looks in his direction that he was the topic of discussion. Even when trying to utilize the suit to hear what was being said about him, Javier could only maintain his connection long enough to catch phrases of what Harry and T'Shaini were saying. But what he was able to hear only confirmed what he already knew.

<>..that you will endeavor to return..I would hate to lose..<> you. Javier thought bitterly as he silently watched the two. To anyone else it would appear as if he were leaning over the car's body, checking the packs he had stowed in the rumble seat. His hands tightened their grip on the side of the car, almost imagining what Harry's larynx would feel like in his grasp. The metal dented in as he applied pressure through the combat suit. The helmet lost the sound of their conversation and Javier cursed the technology soundlessly. I should have never taken that medication..

<>Right.<> the sound came back for a few seconds. He noticed Finn walking away from T'Shaini then the security officer halted and spoke again. Finn's lips moved soundlessly then, <>..however this plays out..<> A whisper of static filled the helmet's communication system. There was a voice in the background, someone familiar speaking to him. For a moment Javier forgot Harry Finn and listened to the voice that caressed his hearing, then it was interrupted. <>..let it turn you..to me.<> The engineer crushed the body of the car inward as the tortured metal gave way beneath the pressure of his thumbs. At the sound he eased up on his grip and turned to face the wall of the garage, leaning against the back of the vehicle so he could ignore the room and its occupants.

"Here Costala, you have to eat and drink something," a familiar voice told him. Javier turned to find L'mek holding out some rations and a bottle of water. He took the food and drink, hoping the doctor would go away but the Romulan lingered near him almost as if L'mek had something else to say. Unlatching the helmet, Javier took it off and glanced at the rations L'mek had given him. "You know I got infected by eating the food from this planet, right?" the engineer stated, his tone holding an edge.

"These rations have been cleared by myself and Dr. Munro," the civilian doctor re-assured him. The doctor didn't seem to get the hint that Javier really didn't want any company at that time.

"Before I got that shot you looked practically scrumptious doctor," the engineer commented. L'mek stared at him in surprise. "In fact, these rations look so bland..and your flesh looks plump and tasty..it's so hard to hold down my cravings," Javier said as he reached back and procured one of the tonfa swords. He spun the blade around in a lazy arc. "Just one little slice doctor. You won't even feel it. Maybe a bit off the back of your arm or some fatback..mmmmh," the engineer teased ruthlessly.

"Costala, there is something seriously wrong with you," the doctor said as he moved away. Javier returned the tonfa to its resting place, then pulled the helmet back over his head and resumed his solo watch over absolutely nothing. He could hear the static in the suits comm system once more and paused as he heard the inquiring voice stretch out towards him. Movement drew his attention to the person standing beside him. It was T'Shaini.

"Playing the field?" he blurted before he could stop himself.

She had been pondering what exactly she could say to him that would make any sense…'if you do not return I will remain as removed as I am' seemed rather amorphous, when his words interrupted her thought process. "I do not understand. What field are you speaking of?"

"Forget it," Javier replied, disappointed that he had said such a thing but also hurt deeply by what he had overheard between Finn and T'Shaini. He suddenly turned to her and said, "I release you of all promises made here or at any previous time. If something happened..well then it happened and there's nothing either of us can do.."

"No." It came out without analysis or forethought. "No, I do not wish to be released from any promises and I will not relinquish any power promises made to me may have over you." She hesitated, was it unfair of her to bar him from finding a space where he could be at peace with what he had to do? Reaching out, she took one of his hands, needing both of hers to envelope it. "I do not wish to make any choices you may need to make more difficult, but I want you to know that if you do not return…." A frown creased her forehead as she searched for the words that should be anchored in the emotion that she had locked away. "I will not be whole."

"Perfect." He had allowed her to take his gloved hand but now Javier pulled it away and repeated his sarcastic reply. "Perfect." Forget trying to bow out gracefully with her. "I'll try to do everything I promised so you can be whole," he retorted.

A whisper ran through the suit's communications jolting Javier to his feet. New information scrolled across his vision, too fast for him to read but he caught most of it. Then there was the voice again, elusive, slipping in and out of the frequencies but calling to him. Something about the voice made him yearn to hear more and Javier strained to listen to its seductive timbre. But the suit was silent once more. He almost felt as if a life-line had just been cut away, something as necessary to his survival as oxygen. Then more information ran across his vision and he heard fragments of speech.

<>Brother…we are coming.<>

"You have to leave now," Javier said to T'Shaini. "You all have to go. My brothers are coming.."

"Your brothers?"

Inside the helmet Javier could designate different groups being sent out to various destinations. He tried to keep up with all the information that fled across his vision but it was impossible. "People..creatures like me..I can't explain but they are coming.."

"You are not like them…." Pointless semantics, let it go. "I will make certain the bunker is evacuated after you leave. How much time do we have?"

"Yeah," Harry had slid up behind T'Shaini, fresh from 5cc's of whatever the doc had put in the hypo he'd now tucked away in his boot. "If the troops need to bail, an ETA for the hostiles would be nice."

"Thirty minutes," Javier replied, reading the information. "Some above ground, some below." He forgot his anger in the moment, as the engineer focused on the new threat. "They move like me. Swiftly. They hunt us." Javier commented ominously as the information told him 'his brother's' co-ordinates. The whisper of the voice was in the helmet, in his mind once more. "He knows we're here."

Harry was already processing, "Wendy, get Jackson and L'Mek and someone wake up Marc and get down to the armory, mine the tunnel, if you have to and then bug out. Whatever Torrik is gonna pull out of his ass, tell him he needs to do it in minutes, not hours…" he reached out, grabbed her arm to make sure she understood, "Tell him he has to take out Father or we are all dead… got that?"

T'Shaini looked down at the overzealous grip on her arm. "Yes, I understand." She pulled away from him and took a step back. "Does it suddenly appear that I have lost my wits?"

No, just your personality. "Not the time for sassy, Counselor," Finn replied, "just do the job… we'll do ours." He looked at tall dark and hidden, "You ready?"

"Get in the vehicle," Javier said, his tone more of an order. He hadn't liked the way Finn had spoken to T'Shaini. Not really my concern anymore though is it.. he immediately thought.

There was a moment where he struggled with what he should say. It was the last time he would see T'Shaini given the odds of success for he and Finn's mission. Javier stepped closer to T'Shaini. "Live long and prosper," he said, then tried to separate his fingers in the signature Vulcan farewell, but they wouldn't budge. "Crap." He pried open his fingers with the other hand and showed it to T'Shaini then turned and leaped into the passenger's seat.

From behind the wheel, Harry powered up the vehicle, thrilling to the engine's earthy roar. "Now," he said, putting her into gear, "let's blow that popsicle stand… all the way to the Alpha quadrant." As he maneuvered the car out through the tunnel and the opening Torrik had created on his first escape he turned to Costala, "So, know any good road tunes?"

Originally posted on 12 December 2007 by Harry Finn, Javier Costala and Torrik Nils


USS Expedition
Holodeck

Tanis crouched behind a huge green leaf, forcing herself to steady her breathing. Cay was somewhere in the wilderness in front of her, Gran somewhere to the right. She had just narrowly missed being eaten by a T-Rex, which had lumbered away after being jabbed in the eye with her bat’leth. A bullet from Cay’s machine gun had grazed her arm as she fell from the T-Rex’s hand, but she’d scrambled away in the underbrush.

With not much else to do, they had all whiled away the time playing chess, name the anomaly, and holodeck games. If nothing else, her close-quarter battle skills had improved. She’d won name the anomaly hands down. Being a pilot usually afforded a close-up look at many orange whirly things in space.

A rustle. Three o’clock.

She charged low. Upended Gran, who fell on her legs. She twisted underneath him and rammed the batliff into his nether regions, up through his stomach, and out his throat. The bat’leth shifted into transparency upon contact with his body, and ruby blood spurted onto nearby leaves.

“You’re dead!” she exclaimed. Upon which, Gran let out a string of obscenities. He was quite creative in his cursing, using some combinations she’d never thought of stringing together. Which was saying something, as pilots were known for this ability.

A warm feeling flushed over her, and she turned to see Cay standing three feet away, phaser fire pouring over her.

“Now you’re dead,” he said.

“Better than looking up Gran’s nether regions,” she said as she squeezed out from under Gran.

“Ship approaching Outpost Jericho-Samaria space,” the computer piped.

“About time,” Gran said. “We’re three hours overdue.”

“So kill me,” Tanis said.

“I did. Twice.”

“I let you.”

Gran began cursing again. Cay chuckled and helped Tanis up.

“Let’s see what’s what,” he said.

Bridge

Tanis took the helm, Cay took ops, Gran communications. Tanis wondered why. She sincerely hoped an admiral’s flagship wouldn’t suddenly drop out of warp and ask for directions. They would promptly be given a roadmap to Gran’s backside.

“Dropping out of warp. Engaging impulse engines,” Tanis said. The stars slowed to stationary, morphing from pulled taffy to twinkle twinkle. A light on her console blinked blue staccato.

“What’s that?” Caius said.

“Since I was the only one running the bridge, I routed the other stations through helm. This is the science station alert.”

“Miss Name the Anomaly,” Caius said, smiling. “Go ahead.”

“I’m picking up a high-level verteron trail,” Tanis said.

“Verteron? Are you sure?” Caius perked up, as if he recognized something.

“That’s what the screen says. Verteron particles are common in worm holes; they allow for subspace travel. But these levels are higher than expected. I’m picking up something else, too. A faint tachyon signature.”

Caius jumped up from ops and sprinted to the science station. Looked intently at the screen. “You’re right. Which means what?”

Tanis shrugged, perplexed at the question. They were at their destination. What did he care what some space anomaly was? But he was a commander. “Well, it could mean there’s unusual activity in the wormhole, perhaps a transwarp conduit was opened on the other side and the tachyon wake flowed through to our side, or maybe someone tried to mask a subspace resonance trace from sensors, but that wouldn’t make sense because it can be easily detected.”

“So what’s the most likely cause?”

“Likely? I’d say it’s nothing more than a buildup of naturally occurring particles around a wormhole.”

“Okay, likely unlikely,” he said.

“Likely unlikely? Transwarp conduit. The Borg left quite a network, and other races may know how to access them. Although I’m unfamiliar with commons races in this sector. But, we’re here at the Outpost. Don’t you want to go there?”

“Lieutenant, we have a mission, as well. And it’s to find the USS Hawking. And I think we may have come across something that can help us,” Cay said. “What do you think, Gran?”

“Analyze the signature. See if the resonance pattern matches that of a starship.”

Gran actually made sense. She was surprised.

“USS Expedition, this is Outpost Jericho-Samaria. Will any of your party be beaming down?”

She opened communications before Gran’s hand could hit his screen. “Uh…” she stalled and looked over at Caius. He shook his head. Which disturbed her. Her mission was over. And she hadn’t been asked to go on a search and rescue mission.

“That’s a negative, Outpost. We’re, uh, researching spatial anomalys. Shouldn’t take long, though,” she said.

“Roger, Expedition. Keep us informed of your status. Outpost out.”

“Can you tell me what’s going on? Sir?” she said.

“Our ship, the Hawking, went in search of the USS Sentinel, when it disappeared. And we’ve been sent to retrieve the Hawking.”

“Because the third time’s a charm? How many ships are we going to send after it?”

“As many as necessary, until we find it. Do I make myself clear, lieutenant?”

His voice took on an edge, one she’d heard when ship’s officers had lost crew members. That tone of ‘whatever it takes to find them.’ She’d seen it descend into madness. Once. And she didn’t want to go there again. Reminded herself to go to medical and arm a hypospray…just in case.

“Yes, sir.”

“So, if there’s a conduit, how do we open it? Use it for ourselves?” Gran said.

“That would take a coded tachyon pulse. Which I can glean from the signature, but it might take a while.”

“Do it,” Cay said.

“Yes, sir,” she said. “But I’ll need the science station.”

Caius got up without a word and returned to ops. He began to absently adjust the settings, as if his mind were a million parsecs away. She figured he must have had close friends on the Hawking, or the Sentinel. She couldn’t tell which. And right now, she didn’t care. She’d just been conscripted into an S&R. And she hoped Starfleet wouldn’t have to send anyone after them.

Five hours later

“Sir, spectral analysis revealed the presence of a recently opened transwarp conduit, recent being within the past two weeks. Opened by whom, I don’t know. But I think I’ve found the code to open it,” Tanis said.

Cay had sat in the ops chair for the past five hours, adjusting and readjusting the settings as she worked on finding the code. He’d said nothing in that time. She wondered if the Vulcan half of him had suddenly decided to make an appearance.

“Engage,” he said.

“Aye, sir.” She walked to helm, programmed the code. “I don’t know if the conduit has degraded, so it may be a bumpy ride.” With that, she broadcast the coded tachyon pulse through the deflector array. In front of them, and in and around the wormhole, a winding, twisting tunnel flowered open. Streaks of red, blue, orange arced over top, along the sides.

Thank goodness we’ve got the ablative. “Shields on maximum. Entering the conduit,” she said.

Purple, chartreuse, pinks, speckled with white filled the viewscreen. Tanis sat transfixed. She’d never been in a transwarp conduit, and she’d listened in envy to every pilot, well one, who’d told her what it was like. True space melted away into a palette of colors. They surrounded them, and she wished she could ride on the hull, just to see it with her own eyes.

She’d calculated the distance of the tachyon signature, given the time the Hawking had disappeared, and the drift. The tachyon pulse ceased when they reached the calculated coordinates. The colors faded, closed to black. Show's over. Nothing to see here.

“Any idea where we are?” Cay said, eyes wide. Excited.

“Starfleet maps don’t include this sector of space. But…luckily for you, I’ve got an extra added bonus.”

“What?”

“A map, given to me by an old Romulan pilot, who’d come across it from a Cardassian. They explored this area, so any nearby planets should be on the map. And if anything, Cardies are thorough,” Tanis said. “And…” A red light staccotoed this time.

“Another verteron signature?” Cay said.

“Yeah, but that’s nothing. Sensors are picking up…a starship. Checking call sign broadcast. It’s…”

“What? It’s what?” Cay stood, hovering over her, as if ready to pounce if she gave the wrong answer.

“Call sign matches the USS Hawking. Sir, we’ve found her."

Originally posted on 12 December 2007 by Rhian Gaius and Caius Echelon


The moment the car was in motion so was T’Shaini. “Lt. Torrik, we have been alerted to an incoming force. ETA 30 minutes. We need…” She frowned as Harry’s not quite coherent phrase rang in her head. “you to take out Father or we are all dead.” Seeing him nod in comprehension, Thank goodness he understood what I was saying, because I certainly did not. she turned to Jackson. “Follow me, we need to increase our stockpile before we evacuate.”

Making her way quickly down the ladder once again she left Jackson to gather weapons for the rest of the team while she looked for something special for herself. Something with a longer range, with the ability to take out more than one target…a scope would be advantageous as well. “Ahhhhhh, yes.” Shoulder mounted rocket propelled grenade launcher. “Yessssss.” Taking the weapon and as many grenades as she could fit into a duffel bag she made her way back upstairs.

Seeing the bustle of activity that the pronouncement had initiated, T’Shaini signaled to Jillian and Nils that she was heading to street level. With Jackson distributing weapons someone needs to stand sentry. Shifting the duffle and the launcher to a more comfortable position absentmindedly she passed Jackson in the corridor. “I will stand watch while you organize.” Grunting his approval, he pushed past her with his arms overloaded.

Once in the office she saw where Jackson had ripped apart the barricade to retrieve the ladder. Just as well, it gave her a clear view of the street. Loading the weapon, T’Shaini opened the door and took a cautious step outside. A figure approaching from the distance had her hauling the launcher up to her shoulder, but its ungainly outline made it clear that there was no cause for alarm. “Khev, inside…we have intelligence that indicates an invading force en route. Jackson…” Does he know we have located Jackson? He does now. “has weapons. Follow the passageway down and arm yourself.”

“Got it.” Khev had enough experience to take in her information and run with it, the room silent once again, T’Shaini let her mind review while her eyes scanned the skies. The last exchange with Javier ran on a loop in her head. Playing the field…the tone in his voice when he said ‘so you can be whole’. Perhaps she had been unclear in her explanation of how central to her existence he was. Not being able to monitor her tone made it difficult convey the nuance of what she intended. It was also possible that the virus had taken so strong a hold that he was unwilling to live even for her. Upon reflection, he clearly did not understand, or at least he did not appear to understand…or was it something else?

A large shape looming on the horizon broke her from her reverie. She was unsure of what it was, but it could not be good. Running back into the cavern she shouted to the remainder of the crew. “Incoming…a large…balloon thing. Has a compartment at the bottom, possibly filled with troops.”

Originally posted on 13 December 2007 by T'Shaini


Road Tunes? How about: 'I Should Bash Your Face In For Stealing My Girlfriend' Javier thought as he stared straight ahead refusing to acknowledge Finn's brand of witty, devil-may-care humor. More information scrolled across the inside of the helmet, and for a moment the engineer was preoccupied with trying to read the cryptic writing. He could only make out fragments of the sentences which was annoying considering when he had been under the full influence of the virus he could translate the language like he had been born reading it.

"I should have never let T'Shaini talk me into getting that hypo," he growled.

I can't get no…. sat-is-fac-tion… "What?" The surly comment pulled Harry out of his internal concert, "Why? Are you feeling worse?" Are you feeling peckish? But no, he couldn't ask that.

"Worse? No..how could I possibly feel any worse?" Javier shot back, then said, "I can't use the suit like it's meant to be used because of that damn inhibitor. I can't even…" the engineer stopped reading the scrolling readouts and focused on an architectural structure in the distance, "what's that? It's looks important.." Javier said as he pointed to the pyramidal shaped building. A whisper was interwoven on the communications frequency in his helmet.

<>Home. Come home my son.<>

"I think we should recon it," Javier said, "It's on the way to our destination..couldn't hurt could it?"

Processing, Harry glanced at the structure in question before pulling his eyes back to the road in time to swerve around a misshapen pile of… something. The one look he'd gotten at the building was reminiscent of some ancient sacrificial blade but it did, in fact, look important. "We can't afford to lose any time," he said, focusing on the road, wishing he could read the gauges on the car's dash.. how far was 4.69 kilometers in squiggles? "Just take a look or scan or whatever on the way past." Not like they could tell anyone if they found anything, though.

Javier reached back behind him, pulled out one of the tonfa swords and jammed it in the dash! "The guy with the sharp swords says we should go recon the structure that looks important," the engineer said, his tone one that left little room for argument. He was tired of being nice. Finn hadn't let him drive and Javier had agreed to let the older man steer. But now the co-pilot or designated navigator was suggesting a fly-by recon of the odd building and the pilot AKA Finn categorically refused.

"I'm the navigator..I say we go take a look. We can drive by..maybe cruise at a moderate pace," Javier suggested, pieces of his natural personality sounding in to offer a compromise.

Harry refused to be impressed. Mostly because if he was impressed that was just a skosh away from awe and, well, awe was too close to fear to be dealt with at this critical juncture. "For starters," he commented as casually as he was able, "this is a car, which requires no navigator and beyond that, you can take a look. See? Here we are, coming up on Spike Central…" and it still looked like a giant knife, just waiting to slice its way through any unwary travelers, "take your look and I'll…" his words faltered as the world around him did a quick lurch counterclockwise. Harry hit the brakes before he could take the car along for the trip. "I'll, just drive by really, really slowly," he said, breathing carefully and hoping the sudden screaming migraine didn't make him puke up the water ration he'd just downed.

The last words that Finn had spoken were drowned in the chatter on the helmet's frequency. It was as if the building was one large beacon transmitting a million voices to the combat suit. The multitude of voices sang a chorus of painful existence and unyielding hunger. The engineer found himself drawn to the song as a central voice wove in and out among the others. Like a snake, the Voice searched the neurogenic pathways for his eldest, gliding between the ordered cries of his lesser children, searching for the one voice that had disappeared.

Javier stared upwards, his eyes drawn to the pinnacle of the building. He had forgotten Finn for the moment. The Voice hissed in his ears, drawing him in, mesmerizing him with its whispered tantalizing promises. The engineer stood to his feet without realizing it, his hands grasping the top of the shattered windshield's frame. His eyes scanned the building, being drawn toward it as the Voice continued to speak.

<>Abselem. Eldest. Firstborn. Your legacy awaits, come back to me my son. I will give you the stars.<>

The world he knew was forgotten. The ship and crew had no purpose. Love was lost to him. Javier lived only for the Voice, to hear the Voice speak to him again.

<>Abselem. Most loved. Come to me.<>

"Father, I have come," he replied, opening the communications frequencies in the combat suit. A mass of voices rose up then was cut off and only the Voice replied.

<>Eldest, you have not fulfilled my wishes.<> the Voice chastised softly.

"Mind taking your seat there?" Finn, who was having trouble keeping the vehicle on the road at this point, had been more than a little unnerved when Costala had decided to take the tour standing up. "And who the hell are you talking to?" As if he didn't know but it was important, somehow he knew it was important, to keep the engineer talking… talking to living beings and remembering that he was one of them. Still the suited man remained upright, "Seriously," Harry got the words out through clenched teeth, "we are going to have to… whoa!" as he'd spoken, moving the car past the ominous building, a barrier snapped up across the road and Finn had to spin the wheel hard to avoid the grid, which was crackling in a very bad way. "Okay," he hissed, "fine, we'll just go the long way," and began to turn the car back in the direction from whence they'd come.

He was tipped back into his seat by the sudden swaying of the vehicle but the whispers remained clear. The engineer reached for the hilt of the tonfa sword and drew it out of the dash with a mind-wrenching shriek of tortured metal. Javier studied Harry Finn wondering what would be the quickest, easiest way. The sound of machinery drew his attention to the street behind them. Two small silos rose out of what appeared to be a couple of round mailboxes on either side of the street. The combat suit recognized them for what they were and information scrolled across the visor. "Rounds per minute?" Javier translated outloud. "Harry get us off this street!" he yelled as the silos split open to reveal a barrel similar to the chainguns that the Marine Pelicans had utilized. He looked to the front. The fence popped menacingly. Nope. No getting through there. He heard the barrels begin to spin on the weapons. Javier frantically looked around the street. "Go left." he yelled, pointing at the large glass paned showroom windows that stretched from roof to sidewalk on a shopfront.

"You're kidding, right?" but the rain of bullets started to fall and not like there were any handy alleys in this burg. "Heads!" he yelled, shifting gears as he spun around and, with only a wave at a Hail Mary, floored the accelerator and drove them straight into the wall of glass.

In a timeless space the small car hung suspended between the street and the interior, shards and spikes and plates of glass frozen in mid-collapse.

Then the world began to spin again and the car smashed through a series of mannequins, one overdressed dummy caught on the car and bestowed Costala with a faux silk off-the-shoulder kimono before he could wrestle himself free. Harry, still reeling from the sickening effects of that mysterious headache, whipped the car around in search of a viable egress. "Stupid stupid stupid…'let's recon that big scary building on the way to our ACTUAL OBJECTIVE!'" he spat, roaring through overstocked aisles and taking down half the displays as he did so, "Dammit! Can you find the exit?"

The silken robe had been captured by the point of the sword which he had forgotten that he was holding. Why am I holding this? the engineer thought as the car barrelled through what could only be the sexy underwear department. Mannequins in thongs became roadkill as Javier ripped the robe off his blade and tossed the silken mass into the rumble seat. Returning the blade to its resting place in time to hear Finn's grumbling, Javier ducked as containers flew towards him from a shelf the driver had managed to side-swipe. Looking up again he noticed a set of double doors in the back of the store before a whole shelf of small cardboard boxes were emptied in his lap in what was fast becoming a stockboy's worst nightmare. "Double doors," he called out.

Finn looked in the direction indicated and swerved the car appropriately. Hells, what was one more scratch on the already shredded vehicle? He hunkered down in the seat and carefully not thinking about what he was doing, coaxed the convertible to ramming speed.

For a wonder, the doors were unlocked and parted like the proverbial Red Sea, releasing the vehicle from department store bondage and sending it straight onto the loading dock…. and into the open air beyond.

"Oooooh, shiiiii…."

*KTHUNNNNNNNNNNNNK

"…t," Finn almost bit his own tongue off when the car landed. He carefully applied the brakes, carefully took a deep breath ow and carefully looked a the Masked Avenger, "No more sightseeing," was all he said.

Javier's head had rammed into the dash when the car had landed. Lucky for him, the engineer's head was encased in the helmet. The dashboard however was crushed, literally smashed in by the helmet. He had been thrown back as the rear wheels came crashing to the ground and as Harry spoke Javier was staring up at the sky.

"That..was…awesome!" the engineer said as he reclined on the carseat. He turned to look at Finn, rolling the helmet over to say, "Carry on Jeeves."

A short bark of a laugh escaped before Harry knew it was coming, "As you say, Wooster," he replied with a grin before putting the beleaguered vehicle back into gear. He winced a bit at some of the noises the abused car was making but, when it settled into a comfortable groove, relaxed somewhat. Pulling out onto a main byway, he saw that this side of the store fronted the edge of the city. Beyond the few low buildings before them lay a vast pile of empty and in the distance, the rising smoke of serious industry.

"And thar she blows," he whispered, as he drove on, away from the city and their crewmates and into the devil's workshop.

Originally posted on 13 December 2007 by Harry Finn and Javier Costala


.:: Halcyon : Killdeer : Cockpit ::.

Vince stood staring at the controls of the zeppelin. Taray, who had been piloting the aircraft stepped away and joined in on Pev and Nathan's conversation, leaving Vince to himself at the ancient helm. He was educated in various types of flight controls, from the P-51's of WWII to the present Valkyries, but he had never seen the cockpit of a Zeppelin. He reached out towards the wheel and gave it a good yank to the left. The ship pulled itself sharply to left knocking him off his feet, and about making the other's do the same. They looked at him with agitated glares as he pulled himself up, but he just smiled back at them.

With that first experiment, he figured out what the forward whell was used for, turning left and right, and he needed to be a bit easy on that one. He glanced over to his left, where another wheel was attached to the helm. Though he had pretty much deciphered what it had to be for, he gave it a good tug towards him. The ship went into a steep climb, sending everyone towards the back of the bridge. He grabbed ahold of the wheel as he fell back, pulling himself up then, leveling out the balloon.

As it leveled itself back out, Vince looked back at the others that were making their way back to their feet and back to their previous places, scowling Vince with just their looks.

Though he had a small bridge full of people, Vince was as happy as could be. He had a whole new thing to learn, and a short time to do it. For the moment he had to figure out how to keep it level, and straight, at the same time. The two wheels were far enough apart that he couldn't have a hand on either of the wheels at the same time. He thought for a moment then an idea came to his head. He quickly ran over to the back of the cockpit and opened the bag he had brought with him.

Just as he had hoped the item he had thrown in there at the shop, just in case, was still inside the bag. He reached in and pulled out what appeared to be some kind of tape like substance. Vince looked at it then started to pull pieces of it off. He walked over to the wheel that controled the pitch, and began to initiate his plan…..

.:: Ten Minutes Later ::.

After what seemed hours to the rest of the people onboard, Vince finally completed what he had planned. The wheel was now covered in what was now determined to be duct tape, and was secured to the helm behind it. From the amount of tape that had been used, that whell wouldn't be of any trouble to him now. As he made his way back to the front whell, Nathan spoke up…

" So, how to you propose we lower this thing when the time comes?" Nathan glanced at the whell then back at Vince.

" Umm…… Very carefully….." Vince smiled at Nathan

Nathan shook his head and turned back to Pev. Vince now found himself thinking he had used a bit to much of the ancient adhesive, but shruged it off. He'd worry about that when the time game, for now he just needed to keep the ship at the same altitude, and he had achived that. Now all he had to do was steer the balloon where they wanted to go, and everything would be alright, aslong as they had somthing to cut the tape with later on.

Originally Posted on 13 December by Vince Stryfe


In the Ether

Tennyson’s anger flashed as the arc of murderous bullets pursued the purposeless lump of respirating flesh his son called Finn. Finn who had, against all reason, drawn Abselem away from his true Father… dragging his scion’s perfection downwards into the muck of false freedom and all its attendant miseries.

But it would not last… the thought hummed across the net as Lerad traced the frequency which Abselem had opened to him. A good son, an attentive son, he understood that Lerad would offer what aid and comfort was necessary in the battle for true salvation. He knew, without knowing, that his father was the writer who had re-engineered the human soul and in so doing, saved them all.

But salvation could not be got cheaply. Salvation was effortful,: it required attention and obedience, struggle and sacrifice… a shudder creased the airwaves at the reminder of the first Abselem, who had been sacrificed on the alter of a pointless war.

Not this time.

When the moment came, and the choice finally made, it would not be his child who was given to the blade.

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!

Originally posted on 14 December by Harry Finn


Turns out, when you're used to dealing with space as a matter of lightyears, 4 kilometers or so just isn't that much of a stretch. Finn was eying the rapidly approaching (and how odd did this sound?) zombie space yard and trying not to pay attention to the acrid mix of industry and decay filling the air. Next to him, Costala was as silent as the proverbial grave and, with that helmet firmly affixed, there was no knowing what the younger man was thinking as they neared their unlikely target.

At least there was a road leading to the place… a pitted, rough and wreckage-strewn road but a road, nonetheless. Harry was having a tough time negotiating between the abandoned and overturned vehicles and still avoiding the potholes, some of which were big enough to swallow a shuttle. In between one such Scylla and Charibdis, he was forced to bounce across something lumpy and a little too soft to bear thinking on. As the abused car hit the far side of the… whatever… something in the regions of the trunk made a disconcertingly loud thump.

"Ahhh," Harry looked at the mask, which looked back.

Don't let yourself go cause everybody cries, and everybody hurts..sometimes. the engineer sang to himself. The miles travelled had blended into one long period of anxiety as Javier thought about what he and Finn had to do. His fingers drummed along the edge of the car door, lost in thought as Finn navigated the car along a roadway littered with corpses. Corpses of humanoids and old vehicles kept them from going too fast on the road. The slow pace of the vehicle reminded him of the sluggish Pelican and how insertion on Marine missions had seemed to take forever and leave his anticipation building all the while.

Then there was the whisper of the Voice in the helmet. Singing or thinking about something else helped him ignore it, helped him ignore the whispered suggestions of how easy it would have been to kill Finn. The rattling in the trunk drew his attention away from the Voice and his song. He turned back to look at the 'boot'. "Did something come loose?" he asked.

They were still moving forward and there were no horrible grinding noises, nor any indication the tires had blown, "I don't… I don't think so…" Finn swerved a bit to avoid another true corpse, some of them really did die and the thudding skittered across the rear of the car. "That's it," he hit the brakes, felt the weight of whatever it was sliding forward as the convertible came to a halt. "And I didn't pack anything in the…" what was it called, "trunk. Did you?" Not waiting for a response, Harry climbed out of the driver's seat, one hand reaching for his sidearm as he did so. Maybe the dead folks on the road weren't as dead as they looked.

"No, did anyone even check the back?" the engineer replied. He had forgotten about the rear storage compartment. Opening the door, Javier left his seat, his right hand took one of the baton swords from its sheath. He spun the blade nonchalantly as he approached the rear of the vehicle. There was a latch on the back of the car. He reached to open the compartment, then thought better off it and proceeded to stab the blade through the metal in five well-spaced thrusts. The blade cut through the metal with relative ease and Javier found that there was little to no resistance.

"Just in case," he said to a surprised Finn, then opened the compartment to reveal two flat, square cases. The engineer stepped back so Finn could examine the cases and their contents. He scanned the area for anything hostile, finding nothing he walked over to one of the corpses and nudged it over so he could look at the thing's face. The creature's head nearly dislodged from its neck when he rolled it over. It had been a creature when it had died by multiple stab wounds to its face, neck and chest. But Javier was drawn to the stab wounds on the creature's torso which caused him to press the blade of his sword into one of the wounds. It fit perfectly.

"And it's not even my birthday," Finn murmured, looking down at the offerings Costala had thankfully not impaled. In the first case he'd discovered a slender, tubular projectile weapon, not unlike the RPG's he'd found in the Bat Cave's armory but this was slimmer, lighter… even had a laser sight packed in the case with it. The second case held the ammo… small for rockets but, damn, only two remaining. He carefully raised the weapon and checked the load… it had one in the chamber, ready to fire.

"We have three long range…" Harry's words petered out as he turned to see the engineer carefully sliding his blade into the rotting torso of a corpse, "… swords," came out of his mouth. "I mean, rockets… I.. what are you doing?"

Ignoring Finn's query, Javier withdrew the blade and checked it against another of the wounds. It slid into the rotting flesh easily and released a vile odor from the corpse. The blade's fit was tight. The wound could have been made with either one of the swords the engineer carried. But I've never been here.. he thought as he looked behind them then searched the road ahead with the helmet's technology. Swirling dust obscured the flat terrain, and made it difficult to judge distance but the suit told him there was no one in their immediate vicinity.

"The wounds on these bodies match the blade's edge exactly," Javier explained. The engineer looked over the body, searching for some reason why one of the creatures would have been eliminated by another one like him. Not like you.. T'Shaini's voice echoed in his thoughts. His search came to an end when he realized that the creature had a broken leg. In his mind he could see the thing shuffling along, dragging the limb on the road behind it. "It wasn't moving fast enough..couldn't work as hard or fast so it was destroyed by something or someone who has a sword like mine."

"Or," Finn commented, stepping forward, "it was taken out by one of the living… maybe a member of the military or law enforcement. We don't know anything about these people… not enough, anyway. Your spiffy blades may have been standard issue for their armed forces." He felt the eyes of the helmet boring into him but didn't back down, "Don't get too attached to a theory before you have all the facts," he said, "and in the meantime, we have a mission and we don't have time to take on any extra mysteries."

"I'm saying we may be walking into more than we bargained for," Javier replied slowly. "If there are others like me..others with combat suits then we'll have a hell of a lot harder time breaching the perimeter." He stood up and looked around, suddenly uneasy about the idea of meeting other virus-altered soldiers. "I'm not thinking about just my own skin mister security officer," Javier commented, "the last I checked you were the weak link in the chain on this mission."

"Sure, that's me, the pathetic, human tag-a-long," Finn snapped before he could stop himself, "the only one here who hasn't been tempted to stop for a look-see at the tower of doom or trying some forensic roadside experiments while our target is less than two kilometers away," he hefted the launcher, turned back towards the car, "if you're not worried about your skin, wherever it's hiding, what's your major hold-up? There may be more suits? More 'brothers'?" He hauled the spare rounds out of the trunk and slammed it shut before turning back to the other man, "So what? What do you want to do if there are a bunch of mini-Javi's running around the fleet? Turn back? Give up? We don't have the luxury, Costala." He took a breath, tried to stop but it was time to get it in the open, one way or another, "Don't think I came out here with any high expectations of a return trip. I didn't. And I'll damn well do whatever it takes to make sure the job gets done."

With that he turned towards the car, started to load the launcher in the front seat…

His movement was swift and Finn probably heard his boots on the tarmac but it was too late. The other blade slide from the sheath and crossed the first as the two blades formed an 'X' and the juncture of the blades met the tender flesh of Harry Finn's throat. "How many explosives can you set now? How many detonaters can you trigger? How many creatures could you kill if it was one of my brothers who was holding these swords?" Javier asked Finn. There was no feeling in his tone, no warmth, or empathy, it was cold, hard reality.

The engineer drew the swords back and sheathed them smoothly. "I'm just saying we should be careful. Like it or not, we need each other to accomplish this mission. A dead Harry Finn, or even an infected Harry Finn is no use to anyone," Javier said.

"You'd be surprised how many people would disagree with that last," Harry replied, eyes narrowed, voice steady. He didn't reach up to check his throat. Instead he turned and climbed back behind the wheel, "Now if you're finished with the theatrics, why don't we get back to work. Maybe we can come up with a suitably cautious plan by the time we make the shipyard…" not that he needed a plan. It was obvious that Costala, with the suit and his expertise in demolitions, was the point man. Finn was a distraction, a decoy, the guy to make whoever might be looking look at him and not the engineer. There was still a chance the young man could get out alive… he had the damn suit… and then Harry would have kept his promise to Wendy.

Javier entered the vehicle and picked up the rocket tube to study the weapon as the car began to move. "I'm not going to let you die Harry," the engineer said all of a sudden. At least not before I punch your lights out…

Originally posted on 15 December 2007 by Harry Finn and Javier Costala


~Moments Earlier~

:: Halcyon ::
:: Batcave ::

A pang of loss brushed the periphery of Nils’ emotions as he watched the black convertible scream out of the cavern. His attachment to the vehicle shocked even him. After all, it was no tricorder.

T’Shaini’s voice spoke what Nils surmised to be Finn’s words. The phrase was uncharacteristic for the Vulcan counselor considering what little he knew of her. The security officer, however, definitely would have said, “Lt. Torrik, we have been alerted to an incoming force. ETA 30 minutes. We need you to take out Father or we are all dead.”

"Perfect," Nils groaned sarcastically, punctuated by a fierce sigh. He turned abruptly away from the counselor and made his way close to Jillian. "Any bright ideas?"

"Bright?" Jillian smiled, "You're the one who comes up with the bright ideas…you run with them…and I fix you up afterwards.

"Jillian."

"Sorry. Ummm…." She flipped open her tricorder and began to scan the neurogenic field, "I'm having a hard time isolating the primary energy signature," she shook her head, "A little tricorder isn't going to cut it." Jillian walked over to Nils and rested her hand on the chest of his suit, "You said something before about the suit…we know that Javier is able to communicate with 'father'. Think there might be a connection?" She asked.

"There is no doubt a connection," Nils said, deep in thought. "The problem is making that connection." After another moment of contemplation the Science Officer pulled his helmet up over his head. "Monitor the field when I activate the suit. If we can watch the interaction first hand, then that data will help us determine what is going on. At least it will give us something to cross off the list if nothing happens," he added, dropping the mask over his face.

Once again the suit shocked Nils and his muffled cry echoed through the cave. "I hate that," he muttered - not that anyone could understand it. Power surged through the suit. The Bajoran watched Jillian as she scanned him and the field around them all.

“That’s unusual,” Jillian said under her breath. She made some adjustments as she studied her readings more closely.

Nils let the phrase hang in the air between them as long as he could before blurting, “What’s unusual,” which sounded much more like “Mmch Mmufual.” Damn this helmet… I need to communicate, the armor clad lieutenant thought. A hiss and a clunk followed his thought and fresh air inundated the man’s nose.

“What’d you just do,” Jillian asked not taking her eyes from her little screen.

“I didn’t do anything,” he said, his voice clear as a bell. “Hey I can talk…”

“There was a momentary surge in neurogenic energy and something else…” Jillian walked around Nils waving the tricorder’s wand about his head.

“Something else like what,” he said trying to stand still for her scans.

“As you probably already know,” she started, eyes twinkling with the unspoken inside joke, “all higher brain function produces neurogenic energy. It’s just on a very small scale. When I was monitoring you just now your own brain energy fused momentarily with the field all around us. Wait that makes sense…”

A semblance of a picture began to form in Nils head. “I just thought about being able to talk. And now I can… Some mechanism in the helmet opened up or something… So if I think it…the suit responds?”

“Yes, but much more than that,” Jillian’s said, now scanning the field all around them. “The suit is powered by the energy field… But so are the zombies. They have no higher brain functions of their own to produce a neurogenic field. But whoever has orchestrated this super field has effectively become their higher brain functions for them. These people have learned how to transmit thought almost as effectively as telepathy based on neurochemical energy alone. It’s genius really…”

“Fascinating,” Nils said genuinely intrigued. “But that gets us no closer to solving our problem. We still…”

“Nils that gets us MUCH closer to solving our problem. The field is too uniform to scan back to the source…unless we have a thought to follow back. And now we do…”

“Me,” the Bajoran said in surrender. If Jillian could have seen his face, his frustrated expression probably would have made her smile. Assuming they were still on those terms.

“We know that ‘father’ can communicate with Javier through his suit. And I think the reason is the amplification effect the suit has on the NG field. Clearly Javier still has higher brain functions of his own…”

“If he ever had them at all,” Nils muttered under his breath. “So what do I need to do?”

“Ummmm….. Just think hard. If you produce enough energy on your own the field around you should shift pointing the way to the source like a compass,” Jillian said readying her tricorder.

“Just think hard,” Nils repeated with a shrug. The data stream of the suit's own scanning functions had tested his cognitive abilities to the limit. Maybe more scans of the area would do the same. Suit…scan… he thought into the ether feeling a little humiliated by the simplicity of it.

Suddenly the HUD on his goggles became alive with alien language and symbology. The world around him was reduced to a data stream and he did his best to keep up with it. Temperature, humidity, density of objects, formulaic representation of light, and so much more assaulted his mind. He absorbed it, attempting to catalogue it for later use. There was more information on the relatively quiet cave then any person would care to know. Any person other than Torrik Nils, that is. Information was his sustenance.

A screech emanated from the helmet in a rapid three beat pulse. Nils heard more than saw a three dimensional representation of the entire cave complex. “Sonar,” he mumbled, absorbing the wide array of varied data. Once again Nils was thankful for the disorder that sometimes crippled him. His unusual ability to take in so many stimuli was a boon to his concentration for once, rather than a drain on it. The Prophets truly walked with them.

“I’ve got it…” Jillian said as her supernova smile exploded in the cavern. “I found it…”

“Where is it,” Nils asked trying to quiet his suit’s input.

“That way,” she said pointing through a wall. “I don’t have a scan of the area, but I have the source of the NG field pinpointed to within four meters.”

“Let me look,” Nils said suspiciously. A stray idea nudged forward by his recent data inundation crept up the back of his consciousness.

Nils mentally overlaid the scan on Jillian’s screen with the echolocation he’d recently acquired through the suit. “I don’t believe it…” The Bajoran’s voice was ghostly.

“What? What is it?” Jillian said in concern.

“There is a tunnel from the basement area of the cavern that leads almost directly to that spot…” The implications slammed into them both. “This bunker is connected directly to ‘father’s’ lair.”

A cry from the front of the cavern startled them out of their shared apoplexy.

“Incoming…a large…balloon thing. Has a compartment at the bottom, possibly filled with troops.”

Originally posted on 16 December by Torrik Nils and Jillian Munro


I'm not going to let you die Harry.

Closing in on the smoke and filth-infested ground zero that was the rising fleet of death, Harry couldn't figure out why Costala's absurd promise was more disturbing than, say, having a pair of preternaturally sharp blades pressed to his own throat by the same guy. Maybe it wasn't the impossible pledge so much as the diametrically opposed signals the infected man was constantly emitting. Gah, suck it up and focus on the objective. The really big, zombie-infested objective.

The combat suit began sending him all sorts of information and the inside of the helmet was inundated by the various read-outs. Javier began to read the scrolling information as fast as he could, finding it somewhat easier to follow. Even though he couldn't see the fleet yard because of the dust and thick, choking smoke, a radar feed was established by the suit, and with every blip that appeared on the visor beside it scrolled intell. The entire fleet yard was alive with activity and percentages denoting the completion of work on ships and their readiness stages flowed across the visor. Two ships were listed at ninety-three percent flight-ready while a number of other ships listed in the seventy and eightieth degrees. These ships appeared to be lower than the others. Are the two that are nearly ready on platforms? the engineer tried to figure out, intrigued by the difference.

When he focused on the unfinished ships, new information flashed across the visor. Five levels..3000 workers..estimated time of completion..huh? Five levels? Javier focused on the nearly completed ships. Only fueling information was supplied for these ships and estimated departure times, which coincidentally were all in about one hour's time. "Uh..Harry, I think we have a problem..the suit's scanning systems are telling me that most of the fleet is still being built..underground."

Eyes narrowed against another surge of dust from the yards ahead, Finn considered the news. "Well, it makes approach a bit dicier but, contained explosions below-ground have a better chance of decimating the fleet, right?" he cast a quick glance to the right, which was useless given the complete lack of expression provided by the helmet, "Right?" he pressed, sensing something more.

"Right, which means..GATE!" Javier cried in mid-sentence as the car burst out of the smoke and dust and a large rust-brown metal gate appeared sixty yards in front of them. The engineer grabbed the launcher they had found and stood up, placing the tube on his shoulder as the instructions had designated. He aimed down the barrel then clicked the fire lever on top of the tube. Smoke jetted from the front of the tube and the engineer was knocked forward into the windscreen as a rocket exploded from the 'back' of the launcher and soared off into the dust. Javier turned to stare at the rocket's trajectory which ended when it collided with an overturned freight van a hundred yards behind them.

Having pulled the car to a halt, Finn looked back towards the death throes of the van, then he looked at Costala, still holding the now-empty launcher, "Weak link, huh?" he asked, before putting the car in gear, again, "Yeah, I'm ready to be judged." He was about to suggest another try when, oh boy, the massive gates began to swing open. "That might be a problem," he said, shooting the car into reverse as the massive portal's trajectory was likely to sweep the small car aside like an errant beetle. "Is it me or does that seem just a bit too convenient?"

"The instructions are in another language," Javier pointed out as he reloaded the launcher. At the security officer's question Javier looked up towards the gate. The helmet scrolled more info. Shapes were moving towards them. Altered lifesigns. With swords. "Ramming speed, Harry..go, go, go!" he yelled.

But Finn was already on that wavelength, shifting gears and hitting the gas. The tires spun out at first, losing traction on the dust-coated asphalt but they caught quickly enough and then they were moving, accelerating towards the three ominous guardians of the gate. They didn't move, didn't, in any way react to the oncoming vehicle. Only meters to go and then one, the center figure, reached back to draw his weapons as the other two sprang sideways. Harry grimaced at the tactic and swerved the car into a fast drift, presenting the wider plane of the vehicle's side to the three suits. The spin went further than he'd intended, and they fishtailed but still slammed into the rightmost figure, who flew into the center guard, taking him down for the count. The left sentry paused and Harry could swear he saw some sort of calculating occurring in the blankness… not long though and, even as the security officer straightened the car, he had started to move. Harry hit the gas, once more, this time taking them further into the belly of the beast. "Okay, two out of three ain't bad," he commented.

<>Brother..Abselem<> Javier heard as he aimed the launcher at the ground beneath the last figure. The engineer faltered at the call, recognizing the voice even though he knew that in his lifetime he had never known it. The figure sprinted after the car and was gaining on the vehicle as Javier stared at the figure.

"Drive faster," cried Javier, unable to bring himself to fire at the sprinting figure.

Originally posted on 16 December 2007 by Harry Finn and Javier Costala


Having left Nils and Jackson to coordinate the exodus from the cavern T'Shaini sprinted back up the corridor to station herself at the entrance to to office. Hoisting the rocket launcher onto her shoulder she bided her time waiting for the target to come within range. He said thirty minutes, it has barely been twenty. Was he mistaken or is this a different threat? She watched the oddly shaped ship drift closer to the sanctuary the Hawking crew had found. Was it worth a shot to see if the balloon was filled with flammable material? Or would it simply give away their position to a force that may yet be unaware of them.

As it floated inexorably nearer she spotted something odd dragging behind, squinting up she tried to make out what the tail of the balloon was made from…

When from around the corner at the end of the street a small squad of undead began an advance on her position, five…all equipped with suits akin to the ones that were currently housing Nils and Javier. Tiar Merra. Assessing the structural soundness of the rather ramshackle building they were passing underneath, T'Shaini took aim and fired one of her rockets toward the cornerstone. With a gratifying crash the entire unit collapsed, crushing the squad beneath it.

.: Aboard the Airship :.

"I don't know if they'll be able to get this." Nathan said, his speech barely recognizable around the stylus clenched in his teeth. "But with the extra power from the tricorder to boost the signal gain, and the communicator's identification protocals, I think I ought to be able to send a really low quality message to the Hawking."

"It need not be lengthy." Pev agreed with a curt nod. "Just the order and your command code."

"Yeah.. and tell them to send a shuttle too." Vince chimed in from the front of the zepplin's small cockpit. "You know… if we can."

Until that moment, the thought had remained unspoken. And even though Vince hadn't come right out and said it in as many words, the fact was that if Hawking wasn't able to mount any type of rescue, then everyone on the surface would suffer the same fate as the the planet and it's rotting populous.

They would all be incinerated by Hawking's torpedoes. The prospect weighed heavily on Nathan's mind, but there was no other alternative. If he and his crew failed to quell Halcyon's rising fleet of the damned, then countless others would pay for their failure. And that simply wasn't an option. So whether the Hawking got the message or not, whether they sent a shuttle or not, the goal was the same. they would exhaust every effort to stop the launch of the fleet that was forming.

"Ok." Nathan said, spitting the stylus into his hand. "Here goes nothing." He activated the tricorder, and waited several seconds as it's software identified the communication device that he'd attached to it. A green light soon came to life on the bottom of the small display, indication initially that the instrument had accepted the new piece of hardware, and had begun assembling and interface.

"Is it working?" Pev asked, his height rendering him unable to see the events playing out on the tricorder's tiny screen. A simple nod by the Borg teen elicited a forced smile from his diminutive XO. "Good." He mused simply.

Moments later the message was sent. Whether Hawking would recieve it, they could not be sure. It had been a simple message.

"GO024 NB020ZA01"

He hadn't asked for a shuttle. Honestly, he didn't even think that there would be time, and there wasn't enough room in the small amount of message space for him to even try. Hoping against hope for whatever greater poewer that exsisted to show them favor, he'd waited eagerly for a response. But there was no reply. Sometime later as the zeppelin inched closer to the city where Pev had last been in touch with the remainder of his own team, Nathan stood inside the cockpit behind the pilot, taking in the barren landscape.

"We must destroy them all." Nathan could still hear Pev saying that as he looked out over the planet they were about to condemn. As the zeppelin began to cross the remains of an urban area his attention was caught by bright red flare of an explosion. "Vince, can you bring us any lower?" He doubted if the zombies were blowing each other up, if there were signs of fighting it was likely more of the Hawking crew.

The ship descended to where it was hovering just above the rooftops of the cityscape. "This is as low as she's gonna get." The morass of duct tape prevented Vince from having full control over the levers, but it was that or split himself in two…

T'Shaini's attention had been fully consumed by the wreckage of the building and concern that one of the suited figures may not have been caught by it when the sun was blocked out. Chiding herself for allowing herself to lose track of something that big, she lifted the rocket launcher to her shoulder.

"There has got to be a way off of this thing….YES." Nathan found, curled in a corner by the door, a rope ladder. Throwing the door open, he made sure the ladder was secured to the wall and threw it out. Leaning out the door, he shouted down toward the incongruous image of his counselor with a rocket launcher pointed at him. "YO! It's US…the good guys!"

"Captain." Her weapon dropped down to her side. "Who else is with you? I can report the survival of Gamma team and several individuals from other away teams. Also intelligence that concerns you directly. Can you come down?" All of her attention on Nathan's descent, T'Shaini was unaware of the disturbance in the rubble behind her. Battered and torn, but still functioning, one of the supersuits dragged itself from the debris and started toward her.

Hearing Camenze's shout from above, Nathan saw the cause of the warning and half slid, half fell down the final third of the ladder, hit the ground and rolled, coming up firing, he targeted the damaged helmet until it separated from the body…complete with head.

"Extremely adroit entrance, sir." T'Shaini deadpanned. "If I may…" As quickly as possible she ran down what the team had found, the infection of Javier and Jillian, the virus and the connection to the suits, the assembled fleet, and Harry and Javier going to blow up said fleet. "And possibly most disturbing sir…"

"There is something more disturbing?" Like why you are freaky calm?

She raised one eyebrow. "I consider it most disturbing that the voice in the suits, according to Javier, is looking for you.

"ME? What the…"

Looking over his shoulder T'Shaini could see several members of the Hawking crew making their descent as well. Whether it be curiosity or airsickness she was not certain but now, Camenze, Trann, Tatiana and another she was unfamiliar with were on the ground behind the Captain. Looking up she spied a four armed silhouette in the frame of the door and nodded to herself. I must get the Captain out of the open. "I am certain Lt. Torrik will be able to give you a far more comprehensive report regarding the virus and the intelligence we are receiving regarding the suits. You will find him at the end of the corridor at the back of the abandoned office. I suggest you equip yourselves and retain some provisions as we are expecting enemy reinforcements."

As they began to file past her she looked again toward the thing hanging in the sky. "Captain, I think it advantageous, considering the range of my weapon, that I join Lt. Pev in the airship."

Jackson who had come topside to check on the status of Lt. T'Shaini, hung back in the doorway listening to the end of the conversation before he broke in. "Well then, you might want to take one of these with you." He tossed one of the radios over to the already laden counselor. "And if I might make a suggestion…we might want to send the Captain out, to act as bait." At the dumbfounded look he was thrown by T'Shaini he explained. "Lt. Torrik has worked out the location of 'Father' and might actually be able to disable him if we give him the chance." Shooting a look at the young Captain. "With due respect sir, you may be that chance."

Slipping her sword from it's sheath Camenze said. "You cannot send him out alone."

Jackson raised his gun. "He won't be alone."

Securing her duffel of ammunition to her back she caught the Captain by his shoulder. Lacking even the minimal warmth that she used to be able to rely on she simply nodded. "Good luck, sir." As she turned and began to ascend the rope ladder a line from an old Terran play about battle with insurmountable odds ran through her head. 'We few, we happy few…'

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by T'Shaini and Nathan Benjamin


After being woken up by zombies knocking at the door and explosions, getting snatched off the floor was a comparatively kinder and gentler way of being roused from a nap. Blinking several times, the boy gave a large yawn as he rubbed at his eyes, staring through a mental fog at an inverted figure of Jillian Munro and Tatiana Thorne. Craning his head to the side, it took the child a moment to sort through the question of why the medical types would be running upside down. The reality that he discovered was that the ceiling was the floor and the floor was the ceiling. Which made perfect sense.

Wait, no it didn't… he was upside down.

Looking up, which he guessed was actually looking down, the boy found himself gazing at the backside of someone's trouser legs. Apparently, Nolan had been thrown over someone's shoulder like a sack of potatoes and now they were running a marathon. Or maybe playing hide and seek. It was hard to tell. They seemed to be plunging deeper into the bunker with wanton disregard for any destination other than not here.

"Hello doc types," Nolan remarked with a sleepy sort of happy chirp as the boy just crossed his arms behind his head and hung loose there upside down. "Would either of you tell me whose carrying me and maybe too why we're runnin' like our ass is on fire and our head's catchin'?"

"Don't use those words," Nils voice echoed in a hollow fashion from Nolan's back. Or rather from the back of the person whose back that Nolan's back was back-to-back with. Which you had to admit was an awful lot of backing.

"Yay, Nils has got me!" Nolan declared brightly, holding out his arms for a moment, before crossing them over his chest as he hung from over the Bajoran Power Ranger's shoulder in an oddly serious pose that was made even more comical by his position. "Okay… so that answered one question," the boy noted, seeing as how Torrik carrying him didn't tell him 'why' or 'what they were running from'. Which seemed like a legitimate question given their situation.

"Army of zombies," Torrik provided simply.

"Awesome!" Nolan shouted with a bright, bubbling giggle.

"Our being chased by an army of the undead is 'awesome'?" Jillian echoed, exchanging a long look that spoke volumes about what the evil mistresses of the hypospray thought of the child lieutenant's mental state.

"No!" Nolan corrected, shaking his head as it was apparent that adults just never knew anything about what the conversation was really about. Except Tanner. But Tanner was like an honorary kid. "Nils just called them zombies," the young Miran pointed out, dissolving back into a snickering giggle for his earlier debate with the curmudgeon who'd insisted repeatedly that the alien corpses were not, not, no way, never not zombies.

The group dropped down into a tunnel, Nolan taking a moment to reach up and grab Nils shoulders and invert his position so that instead of hanging from over the Bajoran's shoulder he was riding piggyback, with his legs wrapped around the science officer's midsection and his arms thrown loosely underneath Torrik's helmet. "Echo!" the boy called, as the sound reverberated down either side of the sewer-like cavern.

"Now where?" Jillian asked, glancing down at his tricorder.

"Left," Torrik provided in a solitary whisper, as he led the four into the shadows. Toward the heart of darkness.

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by Nolan Marc


"Taray! Watch your form! Arm up! Make yourself as small as possible to your opponent! You'll never learn, Taray! You fight like a boy !"

She knew her teacher always berated her into a better form. This was not Cameze's preferred method of learning but her teacher was a master-level swords women, a premier personal guard to her mother, and Camenze was here by grace alone.
She would take what she got.

"Taray! Your only focus is your opponent, your only thought is the safety of your pledged one, your only memory is to breath. All is lost if you fail any of these."

______

Breath, thought Camenze as she followed the form of her Captain. Breath and Protect. Something moved toward him, she side-stepped backward, behind the form, and slice though it's neck. Breath. Protect. She stepped over the body, moving forward. Breath. Protect. For a moment her thoughts started to shift to where they were headed, if help was coming…
No! Only this: Breath. Protect.

Jackson, off to her side, shot his gun. She saw it more than heard it.

______

"If you ever truly allow yourself to believe that your pledged one is your only concern, not yourself or your safety, you can reach a space of calm inside any battle, inside any fight. ARM UP! How many times must you be told! Block with your dagger, cut with your blade!"

______

Jackson was a good partner but she had been taught never to trust in anyone in a fight, just be glad if they help you. Breath. Protect.

______

Camenze waited in the barn loft and heard the small steps of her target. Raising quietly she sheathed her dagger in her side belt and held tightly to the reaping poll. She swung out, over the loft space, turning to catch the rope a few feet away. Below, she could see her target looking at the decoy she had left, leaving Camenze a clear shot at her back. She landed lightly onto the hay pile and using her forward momentum leaped off, now using the force of gravity to slice downward on the practice dummy that represented her opponent. As she looked up in victory, a smile creeping across her face, she felt a blade press on her neck.

"You now have three problems, Sapling. First, your are dead and so, second, your pledged one is dead. Third, you are late to Belcompiten and your teachers will be on about it." The blade released it's pressure and Camenze turned, her short, cropped hair tickling the edge of her collar. She looked in to the familiar mahogany eyes as her mother's hand reached out to touch Camenze's hair. "You'll lose another fist-length for this test failure. Bald will my first-child be for her Ponall. Why do you insist on this? Go back to your books and boats, Sapling, leave the fighting for other women."

"But, Mother, some day I might have need of it!"

"Yes, that is always your answer! Someday you might have need of your hair, too! Oh, child, where is the place for you?" It was the first time Camenze had ever heard mention of the idea that their might be another path for her other than clan leader. The thought wrinkle her brow, than shifted.

"Mother, you were not my opponent, First Swords Woman Malar was and I took her with fairness. How is it this is your win?"

"Sapling, do you think assassins, even slow witted ones of which their are few, could not travel with an unseen partner?

______

Camenze, her long hair knotted up behind her, wiped a bit of gore from her cheek, "Jackson, Captain, watch out for teams of them."

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by Camenze Taray
—-

“Hail the Hawking,” Caius said.

Gran’s hand hit the console before Tanis’. She bit her lip.

“USS Expedition to the Hawking. Come in,” Gran said. As nice as mulled cider in the frozen tundra. Apparently Gran’s personality shifted with the tides.

The picture on the viewscreen shifted from starry starry night to the face of a man who looked as if he’d just seen a Klingon fringing a poncho. Eyes widening to pools of albumin with brown yolk, furrows flattening in stupefied confusion.

“Caius? How did you get here?”

Tanis piped up. “We picked up a faint tachyon signature, along with high readings of verteron particles near the wormhole and figured it was the vestige of a transwarp conduit, so I opened it with a coded tachyon pulse, and here we are.”

“Thank you, lieutenant,” Caius said. Hint of sarcasm. “Alex, what’s your status?”

“The senior staff has beamed down to the planet. When they transported down, something or someone hacked our computer and communications were cut off. We haven’t heard anything from them since. We’re trying to fix communications now. Sensors are picking up some type of field that’s interfering with our readings, so we can’t even get a bead on them.”

“So anything could be going on down there? They could be in danger? Dead?”

Caius’ tone took on a shade of desperation, nanoseconds from hysteria. Tanis chided herself for not getting the hypospray. Now would be a good time to use it, for Dread was closing his fingers around her throat.

“Calm down, Caius. The captain and the away team are more than capable of handling themselves. I’m sure they’re working on the problem, as are we. So, let’s just… Hold on. We’re getting a faint signal. It’s…oh, no.”

“It’s what?” Caius said. He stood, fists at his side, arms tense. He was making her nervous. Which was saying a lot.

“ Nathan’s command code. He’s telling us to execute General Order 24,” Alex said.

“Oh, sh—” Cay began. Tanis interrupted him.

“Are you sure? I mean, really sure?” Tanis said. She stood up, beside Cay, hoping she was living someone’s nightmare on the holodeck. A yelled ‘Gotcha’ and a drink at the bar to follow. Only no one was yelling. But she could definitely have used a drink.

“It’s the correct command code. And it’s an order, lieutenant, one I have to obey, whether I like it or not,” Alex said.

“Wait! We can get them out. Give me 20 minutes,” Cay said.

“What are you talking about?” Alex and Tanis said in unison.
“We’ll find a way. Just give me the time!” Caius yelled. “That’s an order! Close channel!”

Alex’s half-open mouth switched back to starry night. Nightmare became reality.

“What are you thinking? Sir?” Tanis said.

“We’re going to land the ship, cut through the interference, and find a way to beam them out,” Caius said. “Now, what do we have to do to accomplish that, lieutenant? We don’t have much time.”

He sat back down in the chair, as if he were in command of an entire complement of bridge crew. Tanis remained standing.

“With all due respect, sir. That’s insanity. Even if we did make it down there, we’d be bombarded by the Hawking. You’d be risking all our lives. And who knows if we’d even find a way to enable transporters? It’s…insane! Look, I’m sorry about your friends, but you have to draw the line at risking other people’s lives for a foolhardy quest,” Tanis said.

By this time, the other two members of Cay’s team had arrived on the bridge. Both were armed, along with Gran. She calculated the odds of overcoming all four of them, and decided against it. She was half-Vulcan, with superior strength and reflexes, but so was Cay. If she hoped to get out of this, it would have to be by verbal persuasion.

“I would remind you, lieutenant, that I’m your superior officer. Now I gave you an order.” Cay stood up this time, approached her until his face was inches from hers. His eyes bored into hers. His breath washed over her face in hot spasms. She lifted her chin, met his gaze straight on.

“You’re crazy. And since I’m in charge of this ship, I don’t have to take orders from you.”

At that, Gran and the other two moved toward them, weapons at the ready. Tanis eyed them, tensing further.

“It would seem you’re outnumbered, lieutenant. Now, do I have to lock you in the brig and do it myself? I mean, we’d probably have a better chance if you did it,” Cay said.

Circumstances being what they were, Tanis figured she’d rather die in a blaze of glory in a vain rescue attempt than sitting in the brig letting an insane commander fly her ship. Circumstances being what they were.

“I’ve always wanted to go out with a bang,” she said. Cay backed off.

“We’ll have to jettison the warp corps and antimatter pods. Set explosive charges within the nacelle pylons, which will separate the nacelles and primary hull. Then I’ll fly her in with impulse and thrusters.” She turned and looked at the demolitions guy. “Follow me.”

**********

The explosion rang in her ears, louder than expected. The saucer propelled forward and accelerated as the planet’s gravity pulled them toward the surface. She’d aimed for the area that team had beamed down to, hoping she wouldn’t take out the team with her landing. Tried to survey the surroundings as soon as they broke cloud cover. A city, a group of people, a shipyard, a collection of warehouses. She banked, headed for the perimeter of a building on the edge of the city that looked most like from where a communications-crippling signal would emanate.

A balloon-looking thing hovered in the sky above the building, and she swerved right to avoid having it splattered on her front viewscreen. What the heck was a large balloon doing in the sky? She leveled the ship, confident she had several decks beneath them to cushion the impact. Reversed thrusters to decelerate. The ground loomed up, more quickly than she would have liked, but she didn’t have much choice.

“Brace for impact!” she yelled.

The ship bounced, hard, jerking her up in the seat. She held onto the console to keep from flying out of her chair. Then her butt landed hard in the seat as the ship touched down again. Gran fell and rolled forward toward the viewscreen. She wondered if he would smash through it. The sound of metal wrenching and twisting filled the air, along with the smell of burnt plastic. It pained her to even think of what the ship looked like. The dispatcher had wanted her to bring it back in one piece. He’d probably ground her for a year…if she made it back to tell the story.

It seemed an hour before they stopped, before the awful sounds subsided, but she knew it’d only been a minute. The ground outside wasn’t moving underneath them anymore in a brown blur. They’d made it. At least this part.

“That was the ugliest landing I’ve done,” she said. “Now can we figure out what the hell’s going on before we get blown to Kingdome Come?” She turned to face Cay, but she only saw his back as he was stepping into the turbo lift.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” she said to herself, following. They arrived on the deck below to find a large gash in the port side. Sunlight streamed in. They were in a large field. The building she tried to land beside was situated about 200 yards away. A small pile of rubble fronted it. She grabbed her tricorder and took readings.

“Sensors indicate the source of the interference coming from that building,” she said.

“Then let’s head out,” Cay said. “On the double.”

Originally posted on 17 DEcember 2007 by Rhian Gaius and Caius Echelon


Everywhere

There was a niggling and a gnawing in the threads of his perception. Tennyson, if he’d still had the capacity, would have smiled at the temerity of it. A small mind contained in an imperfect shell; it had no comprehension of the vastness, the sheer magnitude of of Lerad’s will.

A sneering suggestion rippled through the net, the better to increase the insect’s understanding. If it survived the lesson, it could enlighten the others who dared stand against the greater making.

Hard on the heels of this infraction a fresh surge in his awareness caught sight of another instrument of chaos: a vessel, it seemed, large and clumsy and rife with corruption it fell from the sky as if it had been struck down by His own hand.

Almost, he dismissed it; in the distance of the city his prey was wandering and his chosen few closing in upon it while his son, soon to be flesh of his flesh, had come to join his brethren, in good time for their journey. To all this, a dead vessel was of little moment.

But in death it bled out more of the imperfect specimens and these peremptorily approached his private domain as if it were within their rights, as if it were their own.

Not so.

A scintilla of thought and the building’s defenses became active. The systems had failed to contain the vehicle his child was borne away in but then, containment was not their primary function.

Leaving the frail mortal flesh to a fuselage of fire, bullets and the pathetic weakness of spirit that all such corrupt creatures suffered in his Presence, Lerad sparked across the wide synaptic sea where his children had need of him… the one most of all.

In the name of the father.

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by Harry Finn


[.: U.S.S. Hawking :: Bridge :.

Cole Enneking looked up towards Williams from his position at the ops console, alarmed. “Xander, they’ve separated the primary hull and are headed toward the planet.”

What? “Onscreen.”

Moments later, a realization hit him. How insane had Caius gone? How many crew does that ship hold, Enneking?”

There was a slight pause as the information was accessed, and Cole’s sigh of relief was almost loud in the intense silence. It’s a heavily modified Steamrunner, sir. It runs on a skeleton crew of thirty-five, most of which are now requesting pick-up from the secondary hull.”

Hawthorne spoke up from tactical. “I read five life forms on the primary section, sir. Four human and one Tellarite.”

The bridge crew of the Hawking stood silently and watched as the Expedition headed off on it’s suicide mission, and toward certain doom.

Xander began to pace the command well, refusing to sit in the captain’s chair. He had warned Caius of what was to come, and he had given the man the time he had asked for. Time was almost up.

"Are we ready?" he asked. From Tactical, Vanona Hawthorne looked grim.

"Standing by to execute General Order 24," she calmly replied, though she knew what the term meant. General Order 24. The destruction of all life on a planet. The complete and total sterilization from space. It would take millennia for anything to grow there ever again. And her crewmates, her captain, and her friends were down there even now they would leave not even ash. Even her Klingon heritage did not embrace this kind of wholesale destruction. But there was no honor sought here; there was only duty.

.: U.S.S. Expedition :: Deck Two – Port Side :.

Before they could climb from the ruined vessel, Gran turned and sped off down the corridor.

“Where the hell is he going?” Tanis asked, angry at the lack of communication.

“I would imagine he has something up his sleeve, El-Tee,” Jameson quipped as he positioned himself at the gash and began to lower himself down. “We try not to ask too many questions with Gran. It irritates him.”

“What doesn’t irritate that pig?” she muttered as she took her turn behind the heavy weapons expert. The ship had landed at a slight angle, burying it’s lower eight decks on the port side. It was a relatively short drop to the ground from where they stood.

Exiting the craft last, Caius landed lightly and brushed himself off before taking stock of the situation, pulling a tricorder as he did so. “Alright, let’s go, folks. We need to find a way to get that field down before the Hawking turns us into dust.”

Before anyone could respond, and high pitched hum rose from around the edge of the hull. Seconds later, an wheeled transport shot around into view, slewing in the dry soil, throwing up chunks of sod as it sped towards the group.

Echelon couldn’t help but smile, along with the other members of his tactical team, but Tanis was confused, which turned to irritation when she saw who was piloting the thing. Gran.

“What is that thing?” she yelled over the whine of the engine as Gran slowed to a stop beside her.

“It’s a modified Argo buggy,” Cay answered.

“I designed it myself,” Ellison said, pride touching his voice.

“With my help,” Jameson added, indignant, as he circled the vehicle and climbed onto the back – and right up into a turret.

“Where did it come from?” Tanis asked, incredulous.

“Didn’t I tell you not to ask…” Jameson began before Gran interrupted him.

“Just get in already!” he shouted. “I don’t feel like eating the Hawking’s phasers for lunch.”

“The guy has a point,” as he helped Tanis climb into the buggy before hopping onto a side bench and strapping on. “Hold on…”

Before anyone was settled, Gran was in motion again headed straight for the buildings Tanis had indicated earlier.

Originally posted on 17 December by Caius Echelon


Pev reached out one of his hands to help the overburdened counselor into the main compartment of the zeppelin. Briefing him as quickly as possible she then opened several windows fore and aft so that she could navigate between them depending on the target and the wind interference. As Vince guided the zeppelin North and West out over the city T’Shaini spotted three squads of at least twenty each, converging on Captain Benjamin’s current position. She grabbed the radio Jackson had given her.

Vince called out from the front of the ship. “Vehicle with a suit that has a rocket launcher just like yours!

Ignoring the distraction of his words she took her time setting up her first shot, needing to make certain to make every one of her limited supply of rockets count.

"T'Shaini!" called Pev. "Can you get a solid bead on them?"

The Vulcan counselor looked down the non-digital scope of her projectile weapon and adjusted the crosshairs. "I am attemping to compensate for the wind," she commented. "It would be helpful if I were actually rated on this weapon, but I will make do." Her mind went momentarily to Javier, somewhere on the surface, but she put the thought away, focusing on the task at hand. "I will run out of ammunition before I run out of targets," she added.

"I know," replied Pev. "We're working on that. Mr. Stryfe, hold our position."

"You know their missles are going to target us any minute, right, sir?" asked the Hawking's newest officer, attempting to steer the zeppelin.

"Yes," replied Pev. "I also know that unless we even the odds a bit there will be no one left but us for them to target anyway."

Point. Taking careful aim, she fired, then reloaded.

“It looks like they are getting ready to fire, can you target the vehicle?”

T’Shaini shifted to focus on the truck following the squad of zombies. Momentarily shaken by the image of Javier standing in the back of the truck, launcher on his shoulder, she shrugged off the resemblance and took aim once again, only to pull back as an ungodly noise shook the zeppelin. All three of them, staring up into the sky, frozen at the sight of the saucer portion of a starship hurtling toward them.

Unable to do anything with the unwieldy airship but but watch, the three within held their collective breaths as the ship careened past them and drove into the ground crushing the squad she had been targeting like Dorothy’s house in Oz.

A long stunned silence fell over the zeppelin.

Tucking her hair behind her ears, T’Shaini looked over at Pev.
“I do hope that was not our ride back.”

Originall yposted on 17 December 2007 by T'Shaini


.: Planet Surface :.

“Okay, seriously, where the hell did this thing come from? I know it wasn’t part of the regular compliment of support craft for the Expedition,” Tanis yelled to Caius over the rush of the wind as the buggy sped along the kilometers of open field toward their destination.

Gran grunted, a terse smile spreading below his porcine snout. “The tactical Argo. Don’t leave home without it.”

Jameson leaned down from the turret. “I took the liberty of putting it in the shuttlebay when I found out what our ride would be. It’s served us well in the past.” Ellison simply nodded in agreement.

Caius remembered the last time they’d used the buggy. It was a rescue operation on a planet that he’d never forget… but a place that he’d rather not remember. Genocide was a smell and taste that would never wash out.

His memory was interrupted by a shadow, massive in the area that it covered, passing over them. He looked up and realized that it was the airship that they’d almost brought down as they themselves were coming down. He frowned in thought and wonder as he contemplated what the hell it had to do with the current situation. Tanis voiced his thoughts for the whole team. “What the hell…” she trailed off. “A balloon?”

“An airship,” Caius corrected, noting the gondola hanging from the bottom of the vessel.

“A what?”

“For a pilot, you sure don’t know much about the history of your tradecraft…” Gran began before Jameson cut him off.

“Blimp!” He yelled, pointing up, not having heard the conversation taking place below him.

“Excuse me?” Tanis yelled back, not realizing that he was pointing up and not aiming an insult at her.

“A dirigible,” Ellison interjected, calmly, as he held a tricorder up. "Interesting.”

“What’s that, Kyle?” Caius asked, as he cocked an eyebrow at Ellison, who sat next to him on the outrigger-style bench.

“There are humans on that… ship,” he replied. “And a Vulcan. An a S’ti’ach.”

Cay’s eyes widened. Pev. “It’s them… or at least some of them.” He leaned over and yelled to Gran. “You have monocs on this thing?”

Gran said nothing, but reached into a central compartment and rooted around for a moment without taking his eyes off of their course. Moments later, his hand emerged with a monocular gripped between his stubby fingers. He reached back and handed it to Caius, who immediately activated it and held it to his right eye, squinting with his left as he did so.

Adjusting settings, he focused on the airship. There were windows and open bays all around the gondola, but they were almost directly beneath the thing, and he couldn’t get a view of the occupants. “Gran,” he shouted, “take her wide to starboard. I want to get a better angle on this thing, see if I can get a view of who’s flying her.”

“But I thought…” Gran, for once, actually stopped himself from complaining and did what he was asked. As they sped away from the ship, the angle of Cay’s view widened, and he was able to see a person standing at a wheel in the front of the gondola.

“Oh, shit! It’s Vince!”

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by Caius Echelon


.: Near the Bunker :.

  • A few minutes prior to Camenze's post, and roughly an hour before the Expedition's doomed… uhh.. expedition. about thirty minutes after arriing at the bunker.*

"You think they'll fall for it?" Camenze asked, her skepticism growing as the young officer laid out his plan.

Nathan nodded eagerly. "Oh.. Yeah 'cause see… whatever primative sensors that these people have, they see the nanites as some new form of technology. I mean… that's the only thing I can think of.. you know, for why they'd want me as opposed to anyone else. So.. I'm thinking.. We put some of me into the tricorders, which Thorne told me that they already go after anyway.. then they've just got three Me's to choose from. So that's three good diversions while Harry and Javier do their thing with the Fleet."

Jackson nodded, taking a moment to spit. Apparantly, the Master Chief had brought his tobacco with him, or had found some on this planet. Nathan made a note to ask later as he watched the brown liquid projectile hit the ground and almost immediately become lost in the gentle swirling dust kicked up by the breeze. "Ah think it's a damn site better than what we'ra doing right now boys and girls."

"Agreed." L'mek replied clinically, strolling up to the group as though he'd been walking in the park and happened upon a group of aquaintances. The Romulan doctor fell short in his portrayal though when Camenze's eyes fell upon his sheathed Honor Blade.

"Hello Doctor. I thought I was the only one who was against energy weapons."

L'mek raised an eyebrow. "Why… " He began, ready to happily inform the striking young science officer that he in fact had no qualms at all about using a disruptor when he put two and two together. "Ahh.. yes." He nodded, following her eyes until they met upon the curved dagger secured to the Romulan's hip. "My honor blade." He said. "Yes.. Well… It's good to have as a backup." L'mek indicated Camenze's twin blades with a nod. "Those appear very well crafted as well."

"If ah May Sar…" Before Camenze could reply, Jackson's gravely voice cut through the mutual admiration society. " We ought to be headin out. Costala and that Finn boy'll be over t' tha airfield directly, and we need to get our diversions in place."

The teen captain nodded in agreement. "Yeah." He said simply. " Let's do it. Trann, you and Fields take the truck and go a could clicks in the opposide direction of the airfield. Stay out there til you see it go up, and then haul it back here ok?"

The security crewman picked up the tricorder without a word and turned for the truck, his partner on his heels. After they'd gone, Nathan turned to Camenze and L'mek. "Ok.. You guys and the Master Chief take the Truck.. Jeep thing over there and do the same thing, except North.. err.. into the desert. We need to spread them out as much as possible."

"And what about you sir?" Camenze asked, clearly uncomfortable with the plan as Nathan had described it. "You'll be alone."

Flashing a knowing grin, the young CO shook his head. "Nah." He informed her. "I found something earlier when we landed. Just go ahead, and i'll meet you guys out there in a little while."

"What did you find?" Camenze asked, several ideas coming to mind. However, even with a myriad of far out alien weapons and toys floating in her mind, the one that greeted her eyes was the least suprising.

"Yeah." Nathan grinned, leaning on the two wheeled epitome of male auto engineering. "And it works too!"

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by Nathan Benjamin


"Sir, it's…ah…." She tried to recall what she had learn on Earth from so rather enthusiastic friends with two wheel convinces. "It's a swine!"

"Hog"

"Yes, sir. Sorry sir. We'll be right behind you."

And, just a short time later, Camenze found herself holding onto the side of a truck, speeding down the road, Jackson on the other side letting our an occasional "WooHoo!", with L'mek driving.

What a day.

Originally posted on 17 December 2007 by Camenze Taray


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