It was what Terrans would call fall or autumn; leaves of hundreds of different shades of browns, reds and oranges fell from the trees; white-grey clouds swirled in the sky. A fragile breeze blew the leaves around on the path, unable to lift them up higher than a man’s knee. A dark figure followed the stone path, walking carefully between the two parallel rows of trees as if he were afraid to break the path. To his right, beyond the luscious green fields, stood the spires and towers of the great city Sadorah. To his left the endless green plains rolled over hills and valleys for miles.
But his destination was neither; instead he was headed for a small lake, a lake on which he had spent his childhood swimming and sailing with his beloved sister Xandra. Three years ago she had disappeared without a trace, no witnesses, nothing; he was devastated when he had received the news from his family, despite the fact that he had never really talked to his parents, even when he was a child.
He came to the lake and sat on a log, the same one he had sat on with his sister when they had dreamed of visiting other planets. That was almost seven hundred years ago, many mortal lifetimes ago; since those days of dreaming with his sister, he had left the El-Aurian homeworld and toured the galaxy, learning martial arts of over a hundred different civilisations, including Ancient China on Earth. Then he had met the Borg, an unrelenting foe of horrific proportions. For years he had fought them alone until he formed the so-called Dark Legion, an army of like-minded soldiers who wanted to rid the galaxy of the Borg; for a century he had been their General, leading them in hundreds of battles against the unstoppable drone-armies of the Collective.
Then disaster had struck and the Legion had been ambushed and slaughtered. Valian Brevik, their General, had led the survivors to safety, though not unscathed. When the Borg ceased chasing them, they went their separate ways. Brevik returned to his home planet of El-Auria. As he sat on the log, he realised that the sky was darkening; he checked his wrist chronometer, it was still midday. Something was very, very wrong.
Darkness descended. Massive cube-shaped ships bombarded the once-beautiful planet from orbit, transforming millions of square miles of land into craters and barren wastelands, killing billions of innocent indigenous life forms. There was almost no one to defend against the invaders, save a few small ships that could do nothing but be an irritation. Two freighters, originated from a system further toward the galactic rim, made a desperate dash for warp speed; they escaped but didn’t leave unscathed, both took severe beatings from the enemy ships and even managed to rescue survivors from a doomed observatory that had shed its full complement of escape pods. On one of those two freighters –the Lakul- two strangers huddled in separate corners, one had a shock of short white hair, the other was wrapped in faded purple clothes and her black braided hair swayed with the rocking of the ship.
On what was left of the planet, a General stood defiantly, cursing and swearing at the sky, holding his ancient sword in preparation for an audacious last stand. His pure white hair made him stand out in the burnt landscape, his red eyes glowing with the hatred and rage fuelled by vengeance. For all intents and purposes, he looked like a demon fallen from the depths of Hell, ready to battle his enemies.
Everywhere they looked the ground was scorched black by weapons fire. Human bodies were littered around the settlement; some body parts were among the ruins of a destroyed building. Maxwell whimpered and sprinted toward the building at the opposite end of the road. O’Brien remembered the Captain saying he had a family in the settlement. Boone and Jerad ran after the Captain, leaving O’Brien and Marshall to search for survivors.
Both produced tricorders and began scanning the ruins. The bushes nearest Marshall rustled in the wind. There is no wind, O’Brien realised. He turned the tricorder on the bush and detected a human lifesign, a young woman.
"Jack!" he cried. "Over here!" They both ran to the bush and tore the branches apart to get to the woman. The young woman was holding her knees to her face and rocking back and forth, tears constantly rolling down her face, and there was a phaser next to her.
"What’s she mumbling about?" Marshall asked, trying to hear what she was saying.
O’Brien shook his head, "I’m not sure." He scanned her with the tricorder as Marshall tried to coax out of the bush. "She’s not injured, but she’s suffering from shock."
Marshall nodded and managed to get her to hold his hand. "What happened?" the bigger man asked softly.
"Th-The Car-Cardassians. Th-They came out of nowhere. H-Had to k-kill him." Her wide green eyes were glazed over, staring into space. They both looked at each other with worried looks at the mention of the Cardassians.
"Kill who?" Marshall asked. She turned her eyes toward another part of the bush and the two friends saw a boot. The girl wouldn’t let go of Marshall’s hand so O’Brien pushed back the bush and found a dead Cardassian. They immediately grabbed their phasers and looked around the settlement for more signs of Cardassians.
Phaser fire grabbed their attention away from the immediate situation. It seemed to wake the girl out of her shocked state and she looked into Marshall’s eyes, not sure what to say as she saw the Starfleet insignia. O’Brien ran off, his phaser powering up. Marshall manhandled the girl up onto her feet and followed, making sure she didn’t trip and fall flat on her face. As he ran he could see the exchanges of phaser fire and disruptor beams. That meant the Cardassians were still on the planet; he wasn’t going to drag the girl into a firefight. He tapped the commbadge on his chest and requested permission from the Captain to return to the ship with the girl. An answer never came from the Captain, but Jerad gave his permission.
The ship’s doctor was waiting for them in the transporter room. He looked nervously at Marshall and then rushed to the girl who promptly slid to the floor.
"She’s in major shock," Marshall heard the doctor say. The world around Marshall suddenly took on a blurred view, the images of the dead bodies flashing past his vision. The doctor saw Marshall’s shocked face.
"Ensign? What’s wrong?"
"They were massacred; they didn’t stand a chance," he looked at the doctor as if the older man had all the answers.
"Who were massacred, Ensign?"
"The colonists." Tears were beginning to form in Marshall’s eyes; every one of the ship’s senior staff knew of Marshall’s iron-discipline upbringing, it scared the doctor to know that anything could upset Marshall like that...
Thirty years later, Lieutenant Commander Jack Matthew Marshall found himself standing outside Starfleet Academy. Tomorrow he was shipping off to Mars to join the crew of the USS Horizon. Today though, he was visiting his old friend, Miles O’Brien. He had called in on his house, but Keiko had directed him to the Academy.
He stepped through the doors and the memories of his childhood came flooding back to him, the days before Setlik III. He and Crewman Boone had failed two crew reviews in the months after the massacre, but where Boone had failed his third and final review, Marshall had regained control of his own grief and passed the review with flying colours. Around ten years ago, Captain Maxwell had taken the Phoenix on a rampage through Cardassian territory. Marshall hated the fact that he was on leave when that occurred, not being able to help Miles talk to Maxwell, to convince him to stop.
Several lecturers greeted him and he answered their questions as to what he’d been up to since the last time he had been to the Academy grounds. When he asked where O’Brien was they directed him to a large classroom just inside the engineering department. He chimed the doorbell and he entered to find a full classroom. The students all stood to attention when they saw the uniform and rank pips. O’Brien didn’t see him at first, but when he saw what the students were doing, he immediately worried that some Admiral was about to make some idiot speech about education and the future.
His mouth fell open when he saw his old friend, Jack Marshall, then smiled when he saw the rank pips on his friend’s gold collar.
"Class, I’d like to introduce you to an old friend of mine," he gestured to Marshall, "Lieutenant Commander Jack Marshall." A couple of the more disrespectful cadets shrugged and had a look of ‘so what?’ on their faces, the rest smiled. O’Brien shook his friend’s hand then hugged him, which made the Vulcan students arch an eyebrow.
Marshall turned to the students, "So this is your new job now, Miles? Damn, but I’ve got some embarrassing stories about your teacher." O’Brien guffawed. The cadets sat down at their desks.
"So what are you up to now, Jack?" O’Brien smiled, ignoring the bored looks on some of the more impatient cadets.
"I’m just on my way to the Horizon; I’ve been assigned there as the chief of security." Some of the cadets’ ears perked up as he mentioned his new assignment; many of them probably want to serve on a starship, Marshall mused. "If you don’t mind, I’ll sit in on your class and talk to you afterward."
"Sure, sure. First, does anyone have any questions for the Commander?" He directed the question at his students. One excited human girl stuck her hand up so fast, Marshall was afraid it would come out of its socket. O’Brien gestured for her to ask her question. The big security officer saw that several of her friends had been goading her on to ask the question.
"What ship did you serve on during the War, sir?" She smiled sheepishly and sat down.
Marshall sighed. "I served on the Sutherland as chief of security. Why did you ask, Cadet?"
Her face went red with embarrassment, "my mum told me about a large security officer that she worked with on the Sutherland; she said that she had a ‘fling’ with him."
"I think I’ll leave that one to your imagination, cadet. Any other questions?"
A young Andorian snaked his hand up. "If you don’t mind me asking, sir."
"How did I get this tattoo?" he said, finishing the question for the cadet. When the Andorian nodded, Marshall grinned at O’Brien.
"When I was serving on the Enterprise-D with Chief O’Brien here, we got a little drunk. The Enterprise was docked at Risa and we went down to the planet surface, got drunk and got tattoos; being bald, they tattooed the back of my head with angel wings; O’Brien here," and he gestured to the Professor this time, "had a Starfleet insignia on his arm and then got rid of it when Captain Picard found out about it. Just to piss everyone off, I kept my tattoo." O’Brien was grinning manically along with most of the class.
After sitting in on the rest of the lesson, Marshall joined his friend for a drink in the lecturer’s lounge. Many of the older lecturers looked at Marshall with contempt, annoyed that O’Brien had brought someone into the lounge that wasn’t a part of the Academy staff; a young female member of the Academy staff looked at Marshall with a sheepish smile, obviously attracted to him despite his being fifty-three years old.
"How’s long it been?" O’Brien asked out of the blue. They were both sipping at Jamaican Blend coffee: double strong, double sweet.
"Since when?" Marshall looked at his friend with obvious confusion.
"Since Setlik III," O’Brien replied with sadness in his eyes.
"Oh...Thirty years," Marshall looked down into his coffee and swirled it around, as if it might comfort him in some way.
"Thirty years," the Irishman breathed. "I can’t believe it’s been that long. Jesus, we’re getting old."
Marshall snorted and grinned. Then both began laughing, giggling about the idiotic things that they had been through on the Rutledge and the Enterprise, talking about their love lives, jobs and anything else they could think of.
Admiral Hanson had been desperate to halt the Borg’s advance, but his gamble of sending forty or so starships up against the cube hadn’t worked and as a result thousands had died. But sitting in the rear of the escape pod, watching the Saratoga being blown to smithereens by a Borg disruptor beam, Sisko didn’t care about anyone except Jennifer and Jake. An unrelenting enemy had torn his soul mate away from him, leaving him and his son to mourn.
Lieutenant Garn, the Saratoga’s Bolian chief of security, announced that the Borg vessel was moving out of the system and that a Federation vessel was entering the system on the opposite side.
"It’s the Enterprise!" Garn called out, startling everyone. Loosening himself from his father’s grip Jake ran to the rear observation window, trying to see the great Federation flagship.
"It’s going away!" Jake shouted, knocking on the window, as if the Enterprise would hear him. Starfleet officers and civilians alike ran to the window to watch as the massive Enterprise glided through the debris field scanning for the Borg. Then it left the ‘graveyard’ as it would later be called; the Enterprise suddenly leapt to warp speed, bravely chasing after the Borg.
"It’s coming back!" one woman shouted. Everyone stared at the incoming Galaxy-class starship. But they realised that it had arrived from a different direction than the Enterprise.
"It’s a different ship!" another civilian shouted. Indeed it was as the immense vessel came in close to the escape pods and tractored them into its main shuttlebay. One Ensign read out the name and number before they landed, "USS Galaxy, NX-70637!"
"Thank god!" yet another civilian cried.
Sisko turned as the side hatch opened to reveal an Andorian Lieutenant Commander in a yellow security uniform.
"I’m Lieutenant Commander Teran, chief of security. Welcome aboard the Galaxy." The Saratoga survivors stepped out of the escape pod to see escape pods from other ships being towed into the massive shuttlebay.
A senior officer from the Yamaguchi approached Sisko and Teran, reported the status of her crew. Another officer from the Kyushu came over as well, shaking Sisko’s hand and offering his condolences. Sisko returned the condolences and each thanked the other, they turned to the Yamaguchi officer and gestured for her to shake their hands.
She was a Vulcan and did not see the point in useless human gestures of friendship and mourning; the Kyushu officer took it as an offence and snarled something in his native Spanish. Whatever it was, the Vulcan understood it’s meaning and raised an annoyed eyebrow. Sisko’s captain had been Vulcan and saw that the Kyushu officer was no different.
"I do not think that your tone of voice is appropriate at this time. Perhaps you would care to leave this discussion alone until you have calmed down." The Vulcan stood there, unflappable and clasping his hands behind his back. The Kyushu officer was another story entirely; his face was red with rage and his fists were clenched so tight, Sisko was worried that the other human might crush his own hands. But he didn’t do anything to stop the inevitable conflict; tears rolled down his cheeks as he thought about the moment he had seen Jennifer trapped under all the decking and support beams; he thought about how useless he and Garn had been when they tried to free Jennifer.
"It would be wise to calm down and not provoke a conflict," the Vulcan was saying. That did it for the Spanish officer; he launched himself toward the Vulcan with all his strength and the intention of throttling the smug Vulcan. He might have actually killed the Vulcan if he’d had the chance. But as it was, a large hand slapped onto the Spanish officer’s shoulder and held him on the spot despite the amount of momentum involved. The Spanish officer crashed to the deck of the shuttlebay, bruising his arms, back and his ego.
"He always did have quite a temper," the hand’s owner grimaced. He was tall, taller than anyone in the shuttlebay, with deep red eyes, shocking white hair and a skull-splitting scar that ran the length of his face through his left eye and down below his uniform collar. He wore the red of the command division, four solid gold pips sat on the right of his collar. "I’m Captain Brevik, commanding officer, USS Galaxy," the albino announced, his outstretched hand waiting to be shaken.
Sisko took it, "Lieutenant Commander Sisko, first officer USS Saratoga."
They both nodded and looked at the Vulcan; even the Vulcan seemed to be uncomfortable around Brevik, "Commander N’Jen, first officer USS Yamaguchi." N’Jen offered the traditional Vulcan salute, Brevik returned it and began to brief the two first officers on the situation: The Galaxy had been too late to fight against the Borg but had managed to recover survivors from the Yamaguchi, Saratoga, Kyushu, Wellington and Bellerophon; there were no other life signs from the rest of the wreckages.
Other officers from the ships gathered around Brevik and Sisko to hear the report.
Sisko greeted each with a grimace, his mind elsewhere, back on the Saratoga...
"PICARD!" Soran’s hoarse and desperate scream pierced the air as he pointed his disruptor at Jean-Luc Picard. Picard glanced up from his tampering of Soran’s star-shattering probe; a weapon designed to destroy a star to alter the gravitic forces in the system and in turn change the course of the Nexus ribbon. Picard briefly looked around the rocky plateau, searching for signs of his newfound friend, James T. Kirk. That means he’s trapped under all that debris from the bridge, Picard thought grimly.
"Get away from that launcher," Soran ordered, a sinister tone creeping into his normally neutral voice. He almost a certain smug pride with himself, he had killed the great Captain Kirk and it was in his power to kill the even greater Captain Picard. But all he really cared about was getting back to the timeless environment of the Nexus so he could see his beloved Leandra and their two children.
Tapping in a final sequence of lockout codes, Picard jumped off the launcher’s platform and ran as far as he could; his sprint was slowed due to the dangerous angle of the rock face, and the fragility of the structure of the plateau; if Picard wasn’t careful he would very likely cause a rockslide and end up at the bottom of the mountain, buried under a pile of rubble, like Kirk.
He dove behind a pile of rocks and watched as Soran tried desperately to override Picard’s lockout codes. Too late.
The engines on the probe fired, but with the clamps engaged, the strain put on the probe was too much; the engines overloaded and destroyed themselves along with the rest of the probe and the fuels and chemicals on the platform. Soran was killed instantly in a blaze of fire. Picard could not help hoping that the scientist had found the peace he so craved.
Kirk was almost dead when Picard ran to him and attempted to remove the debris. If he had had the resources of the Enterprise to help him he could have reached Kirk in time. But he didn’t even know where the Enterprise was or if they were any better off than Kirk.
"It was fun," Kirk managed to gasp. "Oh my," with that James T. Kirk passed away for a final time; there would be no Spock or McCoy to save him from the darkness. Sadness filled Picard as the greatest Starfleet Captain in history died in front of his very eyes. Picard buried Kirk at the tip of the plateau where the great captain had valiantly fought and died.
"What the hell were you thinking, Picard?" Brevik stood there, outraged at Picard’s actions in the last week. "You bring James T. Kirk out of what some of my people describe as heaven and get him killed. Not to mention the fact that you lost yet another starship under your command!" Brevik stood up from his chair and strode round his desk to stand next to Picard, who seemed saddened by the fact that he had just lost the Enterprise and was now standing in the Federation flagship’s prototype, Galaxy.
After the Farragut had delivered Picard and the survivors of his crew to Starbase 24, the tall captain of the Starship Galaxy had called him over to his ship and debriefed him on the situation.
Picard stared straight ahead, not making eye contact with the albino captain. "I felt my actions were perfectly justifiable under the circumstances."
"I bet," Brevik replied wearily. He rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands, and then ruffled his hair. Picard saw the fatigue and pain in Brevik’s red eyes. He couldn’t but feel sorry for the white-haired man. "Captain, may I ask why you’re here, giving me a dressing-down."
"Officially, Starfleet sent me to stop Soran; he was one of my race after all...and my friend." He looked sadly down at the floor, the weariness becoming even more evident.
"And unofficially?" Picard asked, sitting on the small sofa in the ready room.
"Unofficially I’m here because my wife was one of the scientists killed on the Amargosa Observatory." Picard almost let out a groan of contempt for the Romulans. They had been the ones who had attacked the observatory and killed all but five people, looking for their stolen trilithium. But then he suddenly felt very sorry for whichever Romulan fell into Brevik’s rather dangerous hands; the big captain was not someone who looked like he cared for rules and regulations when his wife has been murdered for no fault of her own except being in the way. For a second, Picard suddenly wondered if the entire Romulan Empire was truly safe if Brevik got it into his head to go looking for the ones responsible for his wife’s murder.
"I’m sorry for snapping at you, I shouldn’t have, especially since I’m not the only one in mourning."
"It’s alright, Captain, I can hardly blame you."
"Still..." The El-Aurian’s attention wavered for a few seconds and then snapped back to reality. "If you would like, we can take you back to Earth. The Galaxy has to deposit the equipment and personnel from the Enterprise and I have some personal things to take care of."
"I would be delighted to, Captain," Picard smiled reassuringly. Brevik smiled half-heartedly and returned to his computer terminal. Picard went to leave.
"Captain Picard," Brevik said, stopping Picard in his tracks, "I want to thank you."
"For stopping Soran. I’m glad I didn’t have to, I would never have forgiven myself."
Picard nodded understandingly and left. Only seconds after Picard had left, the door chimed. "Enter," he called. Commander Chi’Sar Teran, the Andorian first officer -and Brevik’s best friend-, entered the ready room, his face slightly confused.
"Chi’Sar? What’s wrong?"
"I found someone next to the turbolift on the bridge that you might know." He deadpanned, stepping aside to reveal a white-haired red-eyed fourteen-year-old girl.
"Feebs, what are you doing on the bridge?" his daughter quickly ran to her father, leaving Teran to walk out of the ready room. She was crying, tears continuously rolling down her cheeks.
"Daddy, I wanna see mummy!"
He was crying too, hugging her as she jumped into his lap. Please don’t do this Phoebe, not again, he almost shouted. "I told you, Feebs, you can’t see mummy!" He could barely control himself, not wanting to completely break down in front of his only child. Despite being over eight hundred years of age, he had never once been married or sired children. His first marriage was perfect until now, his soulmate and wife, Natalya Brevik, was dead, lying in the Galaxy’s morgue. He had a beautiful daughter, Phoebe, and loved her more now than he had before; apart from Natalya’s estranged parents back in Russia, the two had no other family.
For four hours they sat in the ready room until she feel asleep on his shoulder. With curious looks from the Galaxy’s bridge crew, Brevik carried Phoebe back to their quarters, putting her to bed. He watched over her, not wanting to know what would happen to the two of them in the future, how Natalya’s loss would affect them in the long run...
Equinox was the first to fully explore the Typhon Expanse, commanded by the famous and brilliant Captain Ransom. Upon first arriving, the Equinox’s sensors had picked up anomalous readings from the centre of the Expanse. But they had dissipated quickly, as if scared to be investigated by the approaching starship.
Marla Gilmore, second-in-command of all engineering matters on Equinox, had been given a rest after a sixteen-hour shift working on improving the ship’s sensors. She’d only been out of the Academy for eight months and she was already in an important position on a starship, no matter how small that ship was.
The bright red warning lights suddenly sprang to life and the lighting dimmed; the ship was at red alert.
She barely made it out of the door before the ship rocked beneath her and threw her against the wall of the corridor. She was sure she had broken a couple of ribs. The ship continuously bounced around until a searing white light filed every corridor, room, turbolift, Jeffries tube and conduit.
Marla woke on the bio-bed of the ship’s sickbay, the Emergency Medical Hologram standing over her with a tricorder. Stood next to him were Captain Ransom and her friend Noah Lessing. They both had grim visages, neither making eye contact with Marla. She tried to sit up, but lancing pain stabbed at her head and ribs; with a grunt she ceased her efforts to sit up.
"Good morning, Marla," Noah grimaced.
Ransom tried to smile, but couldn’t find the strength to do so.
"Captain, what’s going on?" she managed.
Ransom finally made eye contact, and Marla didn’t like it one bit, because she knew she wasn’t going to like what Ransom was about to say.
"We were hit by a distortion wave, it knocked out all our systems for a while and..." Ransom was almost on the verge of crying.
"It moved us away from the Typhon Expanse; four officers were killed, nineteen injured including yourself."
"How far away from the Expanse are we? Who was killed?"
Noah looked at Ransom, who nodded, then back at Marla, "We were moved seventy thousand light-years, our current location is orbiting a structure known as the Caretaker in the Delta Quadrant; Doctor Reyes, Commander Carter, Chief Kippo and Ensign Certvy were all killed when they were thrown against nearby consoles and walls."
It took a day for Marla to grasp what had happened.
Unbeknownst to the crew of the Equinox, a month or so later would see the Caretaker snatch another two ships from the Alpha Quadrant, forcing Starfleet and Maquis personnel to become one crew on board the Starship Voyager under the command of Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay...
Engineering had been sealed from the inside.
"It’s possible the engineers managed to shut themselves in before the Jem’Hadar could get to them," Brevik’s Andorian security chief suggested optimistically. Brevik was not so optimistic. An engineering crew from Bearclaw and a squad of Klingons beamed over and managed to open the doors. One Klingon went down with a smoking hole in his chest.
"That’s not the ship’s engineers," the Klingon squad commander pointed out jokingly.
"Indeed," Brevik replied evenly. He dove through the door and rolled, coming up firing. He got off three shots, each taking a Jem’Hadar down. That left another seven somewhere in engineering. One of them was fiddling with the controls when Brevik made his bold entrance. He’s the First, Brevik realised, he’s trying to start a warp core breach. The Klingons came charging through the doors, shouting their war cries and wielding their large Bat’leths. The squad commander was hit in the face by a bolt of plasma, his weapon clattering to the floor. Brevik sprinted out and grabbed the crescent-shaped blade and charged with the Klingons. He overtook the ferocious warriors and brought the blade down as hard as he could at the First’s head. He blocked it with his knife and tried to knee the Captain in the stomach; all around them, battle was joined as Klingons and Starfleet security personnel took on the Jem’Hadar.
Brevik feinted left and then swept the blade down at an angle so that it would connect with the Jem’Hadar’s flank. It struck with a sickening crunch, and his opponent passed out from the pain. A Klingon behind Brevik finished the job and shot the Jem’Hadar in the chest. Brevik sifted through the files the Jem’Hadar First had accessed and realised that his original worries were true. The warrior had shut the warp coolant system down and the countdown to the ship’s destruction was at five minutes and counting. He managed to bring the coolant system back online before any irreparable damage was done.
How did he get into the system anyway? Only authorised Starfleet personnel were capable of accessing the coolant systems. Starfleet had to be warned of this new threat immediately.
Conbiir groggily woke up, his vision blurry at first, then shapes and faces began to clear up and he found himself looking into the faces of Captain Brevik and Commander Teran. Both wore grim smiles. That’s not good, Conbiir said to himself. The long scar that had split open Brevik’s face centuries ago seemed to be even darker than ever.
"You don’t look so good," Teran tried to joke but it didn’t seem to be appropriate.
"You and five others survived, Doctor." Brevik stared at his former CMO. "Starfleet’s been notified as to what the Jem’Hadar were doing here. Apparently this isn’t an isolated incident; the Fearless and Bozeman have been attacked with identical MO’s. Though the other two attacks didn’t get as far as they did on the Templar. What the hell happened, Ulu?"
Conbiir coughed and sat up, shrieking agony lancing into his belly where his wounds were still healing.
"The Templar’s crew was inexperienced, almost none of them have been in real combat; nothing like the Galaxy has been through," Conbiir smiled half-heartedly.
Brevik nodded, "the Templar is a new ship, new crew, a lot of them fresh out of the academy. I’m surprised Starfleet would be so stupid."
"It’s the War. Desperate times call for desperate acts," Teran suggested.
"Indeed," Brevik agreed. He gestured for Conbiir to carry on with his story.
The doctor took the hint and continued, "The Jem’Hadar fighters came out of nowhere and attacked us. The crew managed to destroy them, but some of the Jem’Hadar boarded us and began killing the crew; two of them barged into sickbay and shot two of my patients and then tried to kill my two orderlies and me. We fought back and eventually killed them, but not before one of them tried to rearrange my innards with his knife." He gestured to his wound, which was healing considerably faster now that he was onboard the Galaxy. "You say this has happened before?"
Brevik nodded and was just about to say something when a young Ensign in the gold uniform of security handed him a large Padd. A frown furrowed his face.
"Captain, what’s wrong?"
"The Dominion is retreating back into Cardassian territory," Brevik breathed.
"Shortening their supply lines, and lengthening ours," Teran nodded. His antennae drooped with worry. It meant that there were only two options for Starfleet and its allies: keep the Dominion bottled up in Cardassian space or make one last final push into the heart of the Dominion...
The immense fleet had already gathered when the USS Galaxy burst from warp with her charge right behind her. The Galaxy had just limped away from an uninhabited and unnamed system after heavy fighting with four Cardassian Galor-class warships; the Galaxy’s small battlegroup had been holding position near the abandoned Sentok Nor, a station identical to DS9 and Empok Nor, when they were attacked; the group’s Romulan Warbird Ratok, being the greatest threat, had been targeted first and destroyed, whilst the remaining ships, Galaxy, USS Bearclaw, IKC Gh’Kla and USS Al Batani, were severely damaged; Galaxy had managed to beam three dozen survivors from the Ratok before its destruction. Captain Brevik, the Galaxy’s commander, ordered the retreat back to Deep Space Nine. En route to the station, Brevik received orders to proceed to the station at maximum warp, but only the Galaxy was capable of achieving speeds higher than warp three. Brevik had sent word ahead to Sisko and Ross that the Galaxy would be a little late in attending the rendezvous.
Commander Teran, the Galaxy’s Andorian first officer, gasped at the sight of the fleet surrounding DS9. It was damn near impossible to get a reaction like that out of an Andorian, but Brevik realised that even he had gasped with the rest of the bridge crew. Just the same as the rest of his skeleton crew, Brevik was weary; the Galaxy-class prototype had been pushed into combat even before the War had officially started. The crew hadn’t had any leave for two years and the ship had not been designed to endure so much fighting, she had been on the frontline since the beginning and before that had been involved in the battle against the Borg in 2373. Brevik and his crew deserved a break and his ship deserved a full refit; she was falling to pieces, parts of the ship were unused, and the Galaxy was not a small ship; it originally had a crew of nine hundred, now there was only five hundred and ninety. Many had died in the recent engagement, but the crew had been joined by a handful of survivors of the Ratok after being beamed over before the ship’s destruction.
One of those survivors stood at Tactical, Centurion Merar, third in command of the Ratok.
"Captain," Ensign Max Cole said from the science console, "there are almost five hundred ships surrounding DS9."
Brevik figured as much; the final big push with the hope of ending the War once and for all. It was a desperate gamble for a desperate time. Starfleet was stretched thin thanks to the War and the last Borg attack. Hope had been brought in the shape of contact with the Starship Voyager, lost in the Delta Quadrant for three years. Although that was good news, Brevik did not care much for Voyager, he only wanted to return to Earth and see his only daughter, Phoebe. His wife, Natalya, had died on the Amargosa Observatory when the Romulans attacked. Unlike Brevik, she had been a human from Moscow and a brilliant scientist. Their daughter was a mixture of El-Aurian and human physiology; doctors reckoned that she would live for about two hundred years, but she was currently only twenty-one and close to starting at the Academy. Brevik had last spoken to her in person just before the Federation Alliance’s attack on Chin’Toka; she had come to the Galaxy for a month to experience the trials of a real starship.
She had told him that she wanted to be a helmswoman like the great Demora Sulu; she even had paper posters in her room on Earth of the Sulu family and other great pilots like Travis Mayweather and Jonathan Archer.
Brevik shook his head to focus on the current situation. He turned to his new Romulan tactical officer, "Merar, contact Deep Space Nine and tell them our group needs to put in for repairs before we leave again." Despite himself, Brevik couldn’t help but like the Romulan Centurion, the man was up for promotion to Sub-Commander; the lower ranks of the crew of the Ratok had kept to themselves, only the bridge crew and senior officers had had any constant interaction with the crews of the Galaxy, Bearclaw, Al Batani and Gh’Kla. The Centurion had been one of the few to have actually made friends with a member of the Galaxy’s crew. He and Teran had got on famously, something Andorians and Romulans normally wouldn’t consider.
"Yes, Captain," the stoic Centurion replied. Several minutes passed before Merar reported the incoming message.
"Put it on screen."
Captain Sisko appeared on the large viewscreen, he was standing in front of his office with Lieutenant Commander Worf next to him. "Welcome home, Val," Sisko smiled. Brevik was sure it was a forced smile.
"It’s good to be back, Ben," Brevik replied.
"I’m afraid your ships can’t be repaired before the invasion of Cardassia," Sisko stated.
"Why the hell not?" Teran demanded. Brevik didn’t bother to rebuke the Andorian; he himself was about to say something similar. Though he would not have been so courteous.
"The Galaxy isn’t a priority vessel at this point. You’ll have to make your own repairs as best as you can."
Brevik stood up out of his command chair and stepped next to the helm and ops consoles.
"Captain, my ships are seriously damaged, only the Galaxy can travel higher than warp three! I don’t know whether you noticed, but the Ratok isn’t among the group and I have a Romulan Centurion acting as my tactical officer!" Brevik was enraged now, his voice raising pretty loudly, forcing the helmsman and ops officer to flinch. Brevik’s red eyes and shocking white hair stood out even more than normal as his anger got the better of him. "Sulkar was a good ship commander," he shouted, referring to the Ratok’s late commanding officer, "our mission was a failure because we were not told about the four Cardassian warships waiting for us. Not to mention the Jem’Hadar Cruiser that decided to show up!"
"Four?" Sisko asked, confusion on his face as he looked at Worf, who just shrugged. The Captain turned back toward the holocam, "our information said there was only one vessel protecting Sentok Nor. We never detected any Jem’Hadar presence in that system."
"You knew there were ships there and didn’t tell us?" This was from Teran, whose blue skin was darkening with anger; he was by his Captain’s side now. If looks could kill, Sisko would have died a thousand times over with the glares he was receiving from Brevik and his Andorian first officer.
Worf stepped forward and growled, "Captain Sisko has been given the unenviable task of organising the invasion of Cardassia; he has more to worry about than your petty problems." Sisko placed a hand on Worf’s arm to keep the Klingon’s anger from going too far.
"Stuff the invasion," Brevik cursed, "my ships need repairs...I don’t whether you noticed Commander, but the Galaxy, Bearclaw, Al Batani and Gh’Kla have been on the frontline since the beginning of this damned war!" Brevik turned to his helmsman, "put us in a stable orbit of the station and tell the other ships to do likewise," he turned back to the viewscreen, "Captain Sisko, I’m going to beam over and we’ll settle this face-to-face."
"By all means, Captain Brevik." The screen blinked back to the view of DS9 and the surrounding fleets. Brevik turned to his officers, "Merar, you’re the senior Romulan representative of the Ratok’s crew, so you’re with me. Teran, contact the other ship commanders and tell them to beam over to DS9 and wait for us there."
"Aye, Captain," Teran replied as he stood up with the Captain.
The two officers quickly stepped into the nearest turbolift and they were gone.
"Valian," Sisko started, "I can’t allow you and your ships to dock with the station when there are more important vessels to deal with."
"For example?" Brevik contested from the other side of the wardroom’s long table. Merar sat to Brevik’s left, with Captain Du’Qan of the Gh’Kla next to the Romulan and Captains Frost and Wilkins, commanders of the Al Batani and Bearclaw respectively, sat to Brevik’s right.
"Chief O’Brien is still working the kinks out of the new Defiant’s systems," Worf growled from Sisko’s side, "the Rotarran is in need of a weapons overhaul, plus the Copernicus, Valdemar, Victory and Admiral Tebok’s flagship are in line for repairs. As we have already said, the Galaxy is not a priority vessel."
"Kinks? My ships barely made it out of that system, we lost the Ratok and a lot of good Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan personnel. You want me to believe that a few kinks in the Defiant’s systems are more important than major repairs to a Galaxy-class, two Excelsior-class and a Klingon cruiser? I’m afraid the Defiant isn’t that important!"
"The Defiant is worth more than any starship," Worf shouted, standing up and slamming his hands into the table. Brevik and his fellow officers were up in an instant, barking insults at Worf. Sisko jumped out of his chair and shouted for quiet, slamming his fist into the table for emphasis.
"That’s enough, mister Worf," Sisko said calmly. He turned to the albino Brevik, "Captain, I’m sorry but you’ll have to wait for repairs. I understand that the Warbird T’Reth is offering basic engineering support for any vessels with emergency repair needs."
Brevik growled something unintelligible in Klingon, Worf took immediate offence. Sisko slapped his forearm across Worf’s chest; but it was no good, Sisko wasn’t strong enough to stop the big Klingon as he clambered across the table. Without warning Brevik spun and planted a roundhouse kick straight in Worf’s face; with a look of shock on his face, Worf was thrown clear across the room and slammed into the bulkhead behind him.
Brevik looked calmly at Sisko as if nothing had happened, "I will attempt to get help from the T’Reth." He jabbed a long finger at the unconscious form of Starfleet’s only Klingon officer, "keep him away from me and my crew or I will not be so generous next time." The ship captains under Brevik’s command nodded their agreement and filed out of the room, leaving Sisko to call the Infirmary for a medical team. He decided against bringing charges against Brevik; these were stressful times and, more likely than not, there would be no stopping Brevik if he ever decided to escape from custody.
Brevik was fuming when he arrived back on the Galaxy; the other ship commanders had come aboard were furious as well, there for a briefing on their orders. They sat around the conference table with Teran standing at Brevik’s side. Brevik was just about to begin when the Galaxy’s chief engineer’s stern voice filtered through the intercom.
"Captain, the temporary repairs we made are beginning to rapidly come undone. The interlocks on the coolant tanks are damaged and beginning to break down; there’s simply no way to keep it together any longer. We’re looking at a coolant leak in five minutes and a core breach in twenty." Brevik could hear shouting in the background of the engineer’s communication.
"Are you sure there’s no way to stop it, Chief?"
"Not a thing; we just waited to long for a refit. The Galaxy was never designed for so much combat. We only have impulse power, sir."
"Rekk," Teran cursed in his native language. The other ship commanders were already on their feet and in contact with their ships, getting their own crews to beam the Galaxy’s crew off immediately.
"What about separating the saucer, Chief?"
"Sorry sir, the separation sequence controls were damaged in that last attack."
"Dammit!" Brevik shouted, punching the conference table; it dented under his previously hidden strength.
He sighed, "Evacuate the Galaxy. I’ll need a volunteer at Ops to help navigate, I’ll pilot the ship away from the station and the rest of the fleet." He nodded when the Chief acknowledged his order and signed off. "Du’Qan," he said, turning to the Klingon Captain, "when you get back to your ship, get every ship away from us as fast as possible." Teran stepped toward his captain and volunteered to stay at Ops.
Everyone scrambled to get off the ship, leaving Teran and Brevik at the controls of the ship.
From his vantage point in Ops, Captain Sisko watched as Brevik hurriedly piloted the massive Galaxy slowly away from the station to where it would do no harm to anything but itself. Despite the earlier heated argument, Sisko hoped to the Prophets or any god that would listen to help Brevik survive.
Safely away from the station and without its engineers, the Galaxy began to fall apart, hull plating breaking away, then the warp core breached and exploded, almost ripping space itself apart as the behemoth ceased to exist. All who watched the explosion thought the same thought: this was the day a Galaxy died.
A day later, Brevik stood with Captain Frost and Admiral Solok in the wardroom on DS9. Sat on one side of the long table were the Founder in command of Dominion forces, the senior Breen officer, two senior Vortas and the senior Jem’Hadar soldier. On the opposite side of the table sat Chancellor Martok, Captain Sisko, Admiral Ross and Admiral Garner, with DS9’s senior officers congregated at one end of the room. Various Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan senior officers were dotted around the room. Brevik was still in some pain, but Doctor Bashir had easily mended his injuries. Admiral Tebok’s own Warbird had beamed Teran and Brevik off the bridge of the dying Galaxy before it exploded.
The Founder signed a paper document and stood up. She handed the document to Ross and declared, "The war between the Dominion and Federation Alliance is over." Brevik almost felt like shouting out "yeehaw" at the top of his voice, but managed to refrain from that action.
Ross cleared his throat and began a prepared speech, probably been working on it for months, Brevik mused.
"Four hundred years ago, a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war: ‘Today the guns are silent, a great tragedy has ended. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph. From both we have learned there can be no going back, we must move forward to preserve in peace what we’ve won in war."
She awoke with a start, her bed sheets soaked with sweat. Sunlight poured in through the gaps in the bedroom blinds. It was yet another sunny day in San Francisco. She looked at the chronometer on her bedside table: 1057. She had promised to meet Admiral Paris for a coffee at 1000 hours in the main officer’s mess hall at Starfleet Headquarters. She jumped out of bed and straight into her sonic shower; after pulling on a fresh uniform and tying her hair up into a bun, she strode out of her apartment’s front door...and almost ran into her aide, Lieutenant Nadia Sinkericus. Admiral Paris had insisted that Janeway take an aide, saying that all Admirals had an aide. She had only been assigned after the crisis that had arisen when Voyager returned home and unknowingly brought with them a Borg nano-disease.
Nadia was about the same height as Janeway, long brown tied in a ponytail that touched the base of her spine. Janeway had frowned on the girl’s choice of hairstyle. She couldn’t fault the girl’s beauty; she was a stunner, as Tom Paris would have described her. Sadness filled her heart at the thought of her friends and crew from Voyager: Neelix was still in the Delta Quadrant with his new family of Talaxians, Tom and B’elanna Paris taught at the Academy whilst looking after their baby Miral, Tuvok was still on his year-long leave on Vulcan; Chakotay had been officially reinstated into Starfleet and promoted to a active-service Commander, given command of the USS Hanson, a Defiant-class, with Lieutenant Commander Harry Kim as his first officer and Seven as his science officer. Tuvok had asked Janeway to be assigned to the Hanson as security chief upon his return from Vulcan. Icheb was in the Academy; after a tearful reunion with her father, Naomi Wildman and her family had moved to Alpha Centauri; and Voyager herself had been donated to the Starfleet museum.
The Voyager family had been split up, but Janeway was beginning to establish a new family: Admiral Paris, Nadia, Janeway had even managed to make a friend of Alynna Nechayev.
"Admiral Paris has been looking for you, ma’am," Nadia said calmly, despite almost being bowled over by Janeway. Janeway was sometimes disturbed by Nadia’s Vulcan-like emotionless characteristics; the girl was almost like Tuvok. She shook the thought off just as fast as it had appeared.
"Was he angry?" Janeway asked worriedly. She’d only been an Admiral for a few months so she was worried about making the right impression to her superiors, despite being an Admiral.
"He was more amused than angry, ma’am," Nadia replied flatly.
"Where is he now?"
"He said he would be in his office, ma’am."
"Thankyou, Nadia. I guess we’d better get over there as soon as possible. And Nadia?"
"Stop calling me ma’am, if Tom Paris can manage to not call me that, then I’m sure you can."
Nadia had been right; Admiral Paris was highly amused at Janeway’s not showing at the mess hall. He offered her a coffee and gestured for her to sit down; Nadia had stayed out in Paris’ anteroom with his own aide. He didn’t even mention the fact that Janeway had missed their meeting; he could see the bags under her eyes, he surmised that she’d had another restless night’s sleep. He picked a large Padd off his desk and passed it to Janeway.
"This is the reason I wanted to meet with you, Kathryn," he said matter-of-factly. She reviewed it and gasped.
"How is this possible?"
"The Borg have recovered from the destruction of the Transwarp Hub and their Queen. We’ve picked up a Sphere bumbling around in Sector 224-A, close to what was once Thallonian territory. I’ve alerted the Excalibur and the Trident to the threat, but they’ve got their own problems at the moment. The Sphere is flying blind; it’s already collided with a comet and almost hit the Starship Monitor and two freighters it was escorting to Starbase Five."
"What do you want me to do?" she asked, looking into his kindly face.
"Take as many ships as you can to investigate this Sphere. Proceed with extreme prejudice." He handed her another Padd, this one had a list of starships on it. "This is a list of all the starships in this system." She scanned down the list and stopped at a familiar name.
"I’ll take the Al Batani as my flagship, plus the Bearclaw, Tecumseh, Venture, Centaur, Challenger, Repulse, Frederickson, Livingston, Prometheus and the Horizon."
"Not the Horizon I’m afraid; despite what it says on the Padd there, Horizon isn’t ready to launch yet."
"It’s brand new, hasn’t had a shakedown cruise and most of the ship’s senior staff hasn’t been decided yet..."
Now he was sitting in Admiral Owen Paris’ office staring at his old friend with confusion and shock.
"I think the Horizon needs an experienced captain, one with almost nine centuries of experiences to draw upon? The Horizon is a big and powerful ship with a big crew, she needs someone with the strength and ability to command five hundred men and women in any situation."
"All ship commanders should be able to do that; if they can’t, they have no right to be in charge of a starship." Brevik had a fair point, but Paris was having none of it.
"I’m asking you to take the position;" Paris pleaded, "I know you haven’t commanded a ship since the Galaxy, but I doubt you’ve forgotten how." Brevik sighed, looked down at his boots and then back at his former first officer.
"Alright, I’ll do it," Brevik sighed heavily. Paris beamed a smile at Brevik and shook his hand enthusiastically. The El-Aurian shook his head, what have I gotten myself into now?
Moments after leaving Paris’ office, Brevik was taken by an Ensign Vroj, one of only a few Thallonian refugees to join Starfleet, to a shuttle. She flew him to Mars where upon they docked with the main complex of the Utopia Planitia Shipyards.
They were greeted by a young Lieutenant Commander who, without a single word spoken, led them to a large transporter room. Brevik was tired now, having passed through several time zones getting from France to San Francisco to Mars. Brevik and Vroj were directed to stand on a transporter pad; Brevik’s belongings were beamed to the Horizon first, then Brevik and his Thallonian companion.
As he was taken to his quarters he was astounded to see that the Horizon was so big; Owen never bothered to tell me what class she is, he mused as he changed into his uniform. Working for Starfleet Intelligence had meant that he never wore his uniform and so he had still been in civilian clothing when he had met the Admiral and been transported to the Horizon. Now that he had changed into his uniform it felt good to be in Starfleet; a uniform to be proud of.
He smiled and suddenly thought about the Galaxy and her scattered crew. Many of the crew had been promoted and assigned to other ships; some had left the service and gone on their separate ways. He missed his friend, and former first officer, Chi’Sar Teran, the Andorian that had become Brevik’s best friend.
The door chime announced someone’s intentions to enter Brevik’s new quarters.
"Enter," he called. He gasped when he saw the figure in the doorway: Teran, still with his Commander’s pips and red tunic. "Teran? What the hell are you doing here? Last I heard you were on the Cerberus as first officer."
"I was, but when they told me you were going to be commanding another starship, I volunteered for the job of first officer. Plus, I didn’t get on with the Cerberus’ crew. They all seem to have silver spoons up their backsides just because their ship is an Admiral’s flagship. The Cerberus is visiting Earth for some big Admiral convention or something." The big Andorian stepped into Brevik’s quarters, letting the doors shut behind him. He looked around the sparse quarters and then showed Brevik a Padd he had been holding behind his back.
The El-Aurian read it and his eyes widened when he saw the list of Horizon’s engineering faults.
"Still wanna command this piece of junk?" Teran joked.
"I don’t envy whoever has to fix all this," Brevik replied, he looked at Teran and realised he had a large bag hanging from one shoulder. "What’s in the bag?" Teran placed the sack on the floor carefully and opened it.
"An Ensign Vroj gave me this to bring to you." He seemed almost bemused when he spoke of the Thallonian; they were rare in Federation space.
Brevik moved over to the bag and sifted through it, finding all sorts of things from his tenure as Captain of the Galaxy: a copy of a painting of the Galaxy by Professor Gideon Seyetik that once hung in the late ship’s conference lounge and a model of a Daedalus-class starship with USS Horizon written on the side; among the other items in the bag were a model of a Galaxy-class starship and an ancient sword that was almost as old as Brevik himself.
The memories came flooding in: saving the Seyetik’s USS Prometheus from a Klingon cruiser, fighting the Borg drones on the remains of El-Auria and all the adventures Brevik had had aboard the Galaxy.
"Some nice memories among these things," Teran commented, "Phoebe sent you the sword and Admiral Paris sent you the Horizon and Galaxy models."
"But the rest of this stuff was destroyed with the Galaxy."
"Yeah, but the SCE managed to replicate the lost items."
"Hats off to the SCE then."
"I wouldn’t let Captain Gold hear you say that, he might take it as a compliment." Brevik smiled at Teran’s jest toward the Captain of the USS DaVinci; Brevik and Teran had been aboard Gold’s ship for a week, but had made good friends of David Gold and Sonya Gomez. They had only left the ship because their assignment for Starfleet Intelligence had come to an end.
"We had some good times on the Galaxy," Teran chuckled.
"We did indeed," Brevik agreed, "hopefully, we’ll have some more good times on the Horizon."
"Remember Ensign Varth?" Teran said, smiling as he thought about the Manakan xenobiologist.
"I remember she was so scared of me, she transferred off the Galaxy and had to go into therapy." They were both in fits of laughter on the floor, Brevik slapping the floor. "What about that time you tried to negotiate a peace treaty with that rock on Cranus VI. You were so drunk you thought it was the leader of the Rock People. I couldn’t believe it when you started kissing it!" They were both snorting with absolute hysteria when the doorbell chimed.
Brevik was wiping away the tears as he answered the door. The press of a button opened the doors to reveal the handsome face of Guinan. Brevik’s face immediately dropped to one of complete concentration. He gestured for her to enter his new quarters.
Teran got up off the floor and straightened his uniform. He knew Guinan, knew her long history with Brevik; how she had betrayed him and his crew to operatives of the Numrian Assembly, an offshoot race of the Suliban. The Galaxy had only been out of spacedock for a month when it made first contact with the Numrians; it had gone badly and the Galaxy had had to fight its way out of Numrian space, losing half its skeleton crew and earning a year in drydock. The Galaxy had not been part of the four-month campaign against the Numrian Navy; it had been part of the peace mission to Numr, the homeworld, and had negotiated a peace with the Numrian Ghalon –parliament.
Teran was almost mesmerised by her, she seemed to glide as she walked, an air of wisdom hung about her like a thin mist. The Andorian’s antennae twitched, Guinan’s ‘sixth sense’ registering on his own unique senses, giving him a slight headache. He put his hand to his temple, the headache worsening.
"Teran? What’s wrong?" Then Brevik remembered the last time Guinan had come close to him: her experience with the Nexus near in 2293 had altered her bioelectrical output so that it registered on Andorian and Vulcan psionic senses.
Teran excused himself from Brevik’s presence and strode unsteadily out of the quarters assigned to Brevik.
"What do you want Guinan?" the tall Captain demanded. His deep red eyes bored into her like phasers. She looked up into his eyes, trying not to be intimidated; despite being a little over five hundred years old, Brevik was almost twice her age at only a few months away from being nine hundred. He was infamous among the El-Aurian race and had even managed to get himself slapped into quite a few prophecies and myths of other cultures.
"I’m here representing the El-Aurian Refugee Council." She slowly paced around his quarters, taking in the size of them, nodding her approval. "We want you to leave Starfleet."
"What?!" he said angrily, glaring at her with daggers.
"You’re an El-Aurian, not a Starfleet officer; we warned you to not join Starfleet before you attended the Academy. But you were too stubborn then, and you’re too stubborn now. This is your last warning." And with that she tapped a small control on her wrist, the bright white light of an El-Aurian transporter taking her away to another ship.
"What the hell was that all about?" he said to the empty quarters.
USS Horizon, Sovereign-class, NCC-84941. I haven’t delved much into the history of the name, but I’m told that the last few Horizons haven’t had successful careers. That doesn’t bode well for this new incarnation. Admiral Paris assures me this new Horizon will have more adventures and successes than any before her. He has given me a list of all the candidates for the positions of chief engineer, CMO, senior helmsman, ops officer, and science officer. But none of my own recommendations are on his list.
"Begin Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 55382.9. This is my first official log as Captain of the
Screw the list. Commander Teran has suggested Felix Heinfeldt for the position of senior helmsman; I’m still not sure it’s a good idea, what with him being the only person to make it off the Tiverton before it was sucked down a wormhole, but I trust Teran and his decisions. We both agree that Marla Gilmore should be chief engineer. Despite her shyness and her involvement with the Equinox’s killing nucleogenic lifeforms in the Delta Quadrant, I think she has potential.
Doctor Ulu Danga ‘Conbiir’ has expressed his desire to become Chief medical officer; I had already been thinking about asking him. He still uses that ridiculous nickname the Manakans gave him when the Galaxy’s medical team found the cure to a genetic disease killing their people. The leaders of that world gave him the name ‘Conbiir’ which apparently means ‘healer’. Maybe they should give him the name ‘survivor’; he’s gotten through more scrapes and fights than I can think of, not to mention the fact that he survived the massacre on the Templar.
Yesterday, the head of Starfleet Security recommended Ensign Jini Merenna for the ops position; I’m not entirely sure why she did that, but perhaps it has something to do with her surviving a Breen internment camp during the War and working for Starfleet Security on a number of critical missions.
I’m hoping Maximillian Cole will consider being my science officer once again; I always enjoyed his company on the Galaxy, despite his lack of ambition; the man won’t accept a single promotion. He should be a Lieutenant Commander by now; maybe I should force a promotion on him.
My head of security aced the Advanced Tactical School on his home planet of Izar and served on the Rutledge during the Border War, not to mention the Enterprise, Defiant and Sutherland. My crew: I have three Brikar, a Hermat, nine Manakans who will probably worship Dr. Conbiir, not to mention the twenty Vulcans, four hundred humans, nine Trill, two Tellarites, five Andorians, and a Bolian aboard. This is going to be one of the strangest crews I ever commanded. I pity any fool that tries to attack this motley crew.
End Personal Log."
Commander Jenkins had told her only that there were four ships with openings in Utopia Planitia, the Horizon, Bradbury, Templar and Majestic. She hoped it wasn’t another small ship like the Equinox, but then again she would serve on any ship that would take her. Her shuttle’s pilot hadn’t told her which ship they were travelling to, in fact her assignment wasn’t even official yet. Apparently she would have to have an interview with the ship’s Captain.
The shuttle had already passed the brand-new Majestic and the Akira-class Templar, which left only the Bradbury and the Horizon. The shuttle passed the strangely shaped Bradbury and continued on; there were nine starships up ahead, seven of them were leaving, Marla had no idea why they were leaving at the same time.
The two remaining ships were a Nova-class vessel and one of the massive Sovereign-class ships. The shuttle began to slowly turn toward the bigger vessel. As the shuttle neared the big ship, she could read the name and registry: NCC-84941, USS Horizon. She giggled in excitement, ignoring the look of bemusement from her pilot.
Once aboard, she was escorted to the Captain’s ready room where she almost gasped at the sight of the Captain: pure white hair, red eyes and a vicious dark scar through his left eye, he looked almost demonic. But he smiled, an avuncular smile, a comforting smile.
"Lieutenant Gilmore," he said, his voice a commanding but gentle tone, "welcome aboard the Starship Horizon." He stood from his chair and walked around the desk to shake Marla’s hand. "I’m Captain Brevik, my Andorian friend by the window there is Commander Teran, the first officer." The Andorian bowed his head in a greeting she didn’t expect, not with all the stories about her tenure on Equinox. Brevik went back to his chair and sat down, gesturing for Marla to do the same. She sat, rather uncomfortably, and nervously played with her fingers. Brevik saw the nervousness.
"Don’t worry Lieutenant, I’m not going to judge you on your actions aboard the Equinox; actually both the Commander and I would like you to become the Horizon’s chief engineer."
"What!?" Despite the fact that the other two officers in the room would be the ones to make or break her career, she couldn’t help but show her surprise. "Are you serious, Captain?" Her normally thin pale features went even paler.
"Very serious, and please feel free to sit back down." Marla hadn’t even realised that she stood up. "We’ve both read the papers you’ve written since your return from the Delta Quadrant, and frankly I’m astonished at the level of thinking of some of them. Your time on Equinox has proved that you are very resourceful and intelligent if a little misguided sometimes."
"But the things I did were horrible, brutal; we murdered innocent beings," she protested. Sadness crept into her pale features.
"You’re not doing yourself any favours, Lieutenant; to be honest, the things aren’t half as bad as some of things I’ve done in my own past. It’s not common knowledge but I am an El-Aurian, nine hundred years old; and in those nine centuries I have done many things that could be construed as disgusting or even evil."
Her eyes widened at the mention of his age and race; she’d never met an El-Aurian, one of the few races that people didn’t want to meet.
"Will you take the assignment, Lieutenant?" Teran finally said in his deep voice.
"Yessir, I will." Her fragile face seemed to suddenly transform from sadness to happiness as she began to realise the opportunity being presented to her.
"Good," Teran said, clapping his hands together, almost making Marla jump out of her skin. Brevik smiled and handed her a Padd with all her command codes, lists of engineering personnel, and schematics of the ship.
"Your first task after you settle into your new quarters will be to come up with a duty roster for your department. Get it to Commander Teran or myself as soon as possible." She stood up and made for the door. "Oh. One more thing," he added, taking something from behind his computer terminal. It was a solid gold rank pip.
She looked at it quizzically. "Regs say we can’t have a junior grade Lieutenant as chief engineer of such a big ship. Call this a field promotion if you will. You’re now a full Lieutenant and chief engineer of the Starship Horizon." He smiled when she grinned with pride. After she left, Brevik sat down at his desk and sipped at his raktajino.
"Nice girl," Brevik deadpanned.
"You like her a lot, don’t you," Teran chuckled.
Brevik snorted, smiled, shook his head and then took another sip of raktajino.
The Captain had ‘suggested’ that Teran go to Heinfeldt and offer the man a job on the Horizon. Unfortunately, that part of the German countryside was fairly remote and didn’t have any transporter stations. So he had taken the shuttlecraft Lucinda Marks down to a disused field near the town and walked the two miles to Heinfeldt’s small house at the top of a sloped road.
Why do humans build houses in such isolated areas? Teran complained.
He spotted a Yamaha 9891 hover-bike on the drive of Heinfeldt’s house. Heinfeldt certainly has taste, Teran mused as he strode up to the front door; it still had one of the old electronic doorbells that were so common in the twentieth century. The house itself was an example of seventeenth-century black and white German architecture, with wooden support beams covering the walls and roof. The glass panelling on the door had designs of plant leaves throughout, distorting anything behind it. A tall man appeared at the other side of the door and unlocked it, peering his bleary-eyed bearded face around the edge of the wooden door.
"What do you want?" the man’s voice was gruff, probably only just woken up from a night of drinking, Teran said to himself.
"Lieutenant Felix Heinfeldt?" Teran asked.
"That’s me, what of it?" Heinfeldt rubbed his eyes as the midday sun attempted to blind him momentarily.
"I’m Commander Chi’Sar Teran, first officer of the Starship Horizon. Captain Brevik and I were wondering whether you would be willing to serve aboard the Horizon as senior helmsman."
"Valian Brevik," Teran answered, his patience running thin.
Heinfeldt seemed to be thinking about the offer. His bloodshot brown eyes were concentrated on the ground in front of Teran’s boots.
"May I come in?" Teran’s antennae were beginning to itch in the hot sun, but he paid them no heed.
"Sure, I guess," Heinfeldt answered as he opened the door fully. He was topless wearing plain blue jogging trousers; despite his obvious drinking problem, Heinfeldt was in pretty good shape, his arms seemed to bulge where his muscles stood out most prominently; hair covered his muscled chest, something Teran had rarely seen what with Andorians having no bodily hair except on their heads.
He gestured for Teran to come in, and locked the door behind the Andorian. They both entered the cosy little living room; a faded sofa and a large brown armchair faced a large screen that sat on the wall adjacent to the netted window. Pictures of friends and family littered the walls, an open fireplace was positioned to one side.
"So what does your Captain want with me? I don’t think I’ve ever met him, or you for that matter."
"Captain Brevik commanded the Galaxy until near the end of the War, then we both worked for Starfleet Intelligence; we were assigned to the Challenger during the incident with the Tiverton."
"Yes, I barely remember anyone from the Challenger, I was unconscious as I recall."
"I’m sorry about what happened; I know that’s little consolation considering what happened."
Heinfeldt visibly sighed and grabbed a bottle of white beer from a small coffee table strewn with Padds and empty beer bottles. Teran could see that on one of the Padds, Heinfeldt had brought up personnel files of the Tiverton’s crew. The dishevelled human took a long swig from the large bottle and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
Teran sighed, "Do you want the job or not, Lieutenant?" The Andorian was getting impatient with Heinfeldt, and annoyance crept into his facial features. The question seemed to snap Heinfeldt out of his depressed mood.
"I...I don’t think so, Commander," Felix replied, putting his bottle back down on the table.
"Why? You can’t stay in this house forever, replaying your last moments on the Tiverton over and over in your head. You’ll just get worse and worse until the depression is all you know and you don’t want to ever leave it behind you. You’re a Starfleet officer, so snap out of it and sort yourself out!" Teran hadn’t realised he had shouted until he saw Heinfeldt’s look of embarrassment.
"Reporting as ordered, Captain," a voice said. Brevik looked up from his Padd to see Felix Heinfeldt in uniform, clean-shaven and a smile on his lips.
"Good to see you, Lieutenant. I expect you’ll want to familiarise yourself with the ship; I’m sure Chief Gilmore will take you on a brief tour of the Horizon." The white-haired Captain gestured to the thin Lieutenant working at the engineering console to the left of him. Both Brevik and Heinfeldt couldn’t help noticing Teran’s proud smile as Gilmore guided the helmsman to a turbolift.
"Captain," Jack Marshall announced, "Priority One message from Earth coming in on subspace." Marshall was a Starfleet veteran having served on the Rutledge with Miles O’Brien during the Border War against the Cardassians. His record was exemplary, commendations from his commanding officers on the Enterprise-D, Bradbury and Sovereign. His only fault was the large black tattoo on the side of his baldhead. It was the silhouette of an eagle native to Izar, Marshall’s home planet. He never said where he had acquired such a tattoo but many of his commanding officers had reprimanded him for it. Brevik thought it looked pretty good.
"Thankyou, mister Marshall, I’ll take it in my ready room." Brevik stood up out of his command chair and quickly walked to his private ready room just off the ready room. He caught himself looking at the carpet, which was a very comfortable blue colour. He smiled as he thought to himself, I love this ship.
He activated the terminal on his desk and recited his authorisation code, "four-four-nine-tango-charlie-omega-seven."
On the small screen appeared Admiral Owen Paris along with several Admirals and high-ranking officers he didn’t recognise. Owen Paris had once served under Brevik aboard the Excelsior; at one point Paris had even been Brevik’s first officer before his promotion to Captain.
"Owen, what can I do for you?" Brevik asked as he sat down in his chair.
"I’m afraid it’s bad news, Valian," Paris’ voice was filled with worry and dread that caused concern for Brevik as the Admiral was known for his stoicism and disciplined emotions. Something was very wrong. "As I’m sure you’re aware, five days ago we sent a small fleet of ships to Sector 224-A to investigate a damaged Borg Sphere, under the command of Admiral Janeway. Yesterday we lost contact with that fleet and the ship we sent to look for them."
"What does all this have to do with Horizon?" Brevik asked, puzzled.
"We need Horizon to go out there and find the missing ships, old friend. She’s the most advanced vessel we have at the moment, and no one can rival your combat experience. I want you to rendezvous with the Hanson and the Gh’Kla at Deep Space Five and proceed with all caution."
"Why is the Gh’Kla involved?"
"Because this situation could affect the Klingon Empire as well as us."
"What about the Romulans? Sector 224-A puts us dangerously close to their borders."
Another officer, a Bolian Commander by the name of Merenna, stepped next to Paris, "The Romulans have been informed of the situation, Captain, but they have said they will send their own investigators into the Sector."
"So we could wind up facing off against a few Warbirds." Brevik looked back to Paris, "Owen, you’re asking a lot of my crew. We haven’t had a shakedown cruise yet, and there are still some officers to arrive. Some of our systems aren’t ready yet."
"I’m aware of your problems Valian, but the fact is you’re the best." Brevik didn’t boast or take pride in what Paris had said; he never did unless it was light-hearted jesting.
"How soon do you need us to leave?" Brevik asked, lacing his fingers together in contemplation. He didn’t like the thought of facing the Borg with a crew he liked so much; his darker side shone through whenever the Borg were nearby, and he had no wish to let his crew experience his darker side.
"Immediately," Merenna replied matter-of-factly. Paris frowned at Merenna’s butting into the conversation, but decided not to say anything. There was something about Merenna that didn’t seem quite right, as if the uniform was just a costume rather than an actual uniform to be proud of. Brevik shook the thought off and made a mental note to look at Merenna’s records when he got the opportunity. Then it struck him like a lightning bolt: Merenna; the Horizon was scheduled to pick up several crewmembers from Alpha Centauri, one of whom was a young Ensign Jini Merenna, soon to be the Horizon’s ops officer.
Brevik sighed and rubbed his eyes, the situation got more and more complicated as each minute passed.
"We still have crewmen to pick up from Alpha Centauri; my science officer, ops officer and Doctor. What about them?"
"Pick them up as planned," Merenna answered, "but your stay must be kept to a minimum."
"Understood, Commander," Brevik sighed. Merenna looked slightly peeved at the emphasis of his rank. Brevik allowed himself a small smile which neither Paris nor Merenna noticed.
"Good luck, Val," Paris smiled, "Starfleet out." The screen returned to its state of darkness as Brevik sighed again.
"Thanks," he said to the blank screen. He stood up and strode out of his ready room, stopping next to the tactical console where the big Jack Marshall stood reading through daily reports across the ship.
"Marshall," Brevik addressed the big man with a quiet and restrained voice.
"Sir?" Jack looked up at his Captain.
"How long until all equipment and personnel are aboard for launch?"
"Three hours, Captain."
"Is there something wrong, Captain?" Teran asked as he stood up from his chair.
Brevik nodded, "We’ve been ordered to rendezvous with the Hanson and Gh’Kla at Deep Space Five. Then we’re to investigate the possible loss of more ships to the Borg."
"The Borg?" Teran exclaimed.
Brevik nodded again, "Admiral Janeway took a fleet of ships into Sector 224-A to find a damaged Borg Sphere. That was five days ago, but all contact has been lost with the fleet. We’re to go look for that fleet."
"Rekk!" the Andorian profanity was echoed by the expressions on the faces of everyone on the bridge.
"Sir," Jack began, "what about the crew and equipment we’re meant to pick up from Alpha Centauri?"
"We’re still going to pick them up," Brevik replied, "but we’ll only stay as long as it takes to get our people and gear onboard." He crossed his arms and looked at the main viewscreen in deep thought. He suddenly turned back to Marshall and Teran, "notify me when everything’s aboard." With that he stepped into the turbolift and left the bridge.
He toured the ship, wandering through sickbay, both shuttlebays, engineering; he eventually found himself in the main crew lounge, affectionately called The Pit by some of the crew. He sat down at an empty table and ordered a banoffee pie, something his daughter Phoebe had introduced him to on his last visit to Earth. He smiled, as he always did, as he thought about his daughter, his only living relative. She had inherited his white hair and red eyes, but was completely different in all other aspects; she was ‘loose’ as she had described herself; every week Brevik had received a letter from Phoebe’s instructors at the Academy concerning her behaviour with other pupils, almost every time it was sexually related. It was almost as if Phoebe was trying to sleep with as many people as she could before leaving the Academy.
The barmaid, Amy Ryder, brought over Brevik’s banoffee pie and gave him a spoon to eat it with. She smiled when he said thankyou and then sat down. She was the only civilian aboard the Horizon and was only there because she was the sister of Ensign James Ryder, one of Gilmore’s engineering crew.
"What’s wrong, Captain?" she sighed, sitting down in the opposite chair. Brevik looked curiously at her; despite himself, he couldn’t help but admire how attractive she was: long blonde hair that came down to her waist, big blue eyes, not to mention the fact of her rather over-sized chest. He had caught quite a few of the male population sneaking glances at her when she wasn’t looking; he had heard that one of the female crew had even expressed her undying love for her, though he imagined it had been either a joke or a drunken slur.
"The Borg," the El-Aurian replied, "I used to hunt them."
"I know." Brevik couldn’t help but be surprised; she smiled at his shocked look. "I’m a bartender; it’s my business to know what my customers are like and what they like." He smiled and shook his head, eating a spoonful of pie. "In any case, I kinda researched into your history."
"Why would you want to do that?" he asked, almost choking on a piece of pie.
"Why do you think?" she asked teasingly.
"I’m not sure it would be appropriate for that kind of thing...I am the Captain after all." He stared into his banoffee pie and scooped a large lump into his mouth.
"I’m not one of your Starfleet crewmen," she wagged a finger at him, "my brother is."
He smiled at her, a kind of dismissing smile; she took the hint.
"If you ever get tired of being alone," she smiled sadly, "you know where I am."
He sighed as she walked away to talk to a group of off-duty crewmen who were nervously glancing over at Brevik. He’d eaten a few more spoonfuls of banoffee pie when his commbadge chirped. He tapped it to open the channel, "Brevik here."
"Captain," Marshall’s voice filtered through, "there’s a shuttle from Earth requesting permission to land in the main shuttlebay. The pilot says he has a passenger aboard that wishes you to be there when they land."
"Who’s the passenger?"
"The pilot wouldn’t say, but the shuttle Lincolnshire is attached to Starfleet Academy."
Brevik groaned and visibly sank in his seat.
"Is there something wrong, Captain?"
"No, mister Marshall. Tell the pilot permission is granted; I’ll be up there immediately. Brevik out."
"This day just keeps getting better and better," Brevik complained to nobody. Several of the technicians nearby looked curiously at the Captain, but saw the look of frustration on his face and turned back to what they were doing.
The Lincolnshire, a Type-6 shuttle, touched down with a slight knock, its rear door opening almost as soon as it touched the shuttlebay floor. Brevik heard two pairs of footsteps come from the shuttle and was not in the least surprised when he saw whom the passenger was. The pilot stood to attention, but Phoebe just stood naturally, ignoring her pilot’s actions.
The pilot held out a Padd and gave it to Brevik. The tall Captain perused the contents of the Padd, ignoring Phoebe’s impatient glare.
"Admiral Prengetthi has assigned you to this ship in the hope that you will actually learn something other than sex, Cadet." The pilot seemed to blanche at the Captain’s disrespectful tone of voice; he wisely kept his opinions to himself. Brevik turned to the pilot and asked him to bring anything else his shuttle was carrying onto the flight deck so that he may leave. After offloading several cases marked ‘weapons’ and the rest of Phoebe’s belongings, the pilot returned to Earth in the shuttle.
Without a word, Brevik took his daughter and her belongings to a spare set of quarters adjacent to his own. She looked at him, confused.
"Why haven’t I been given quarters near the rest of the crew?"
"You know damn well why!" his voice raised several octaves, his anger slightly seeping through his calm veneer. She looked at him with disgust, folding her arms in front of her chest. He stepped closer and she could see the sadness in his eyes, replacing the anger. She couldn’t help but slacken her angry stance; she rarely saw her father upset, and when she did she knew it had to be something so upsetting that it could crack the strongest man she knew.
"Dad?" she asked, a worried look suddenly poured into her face.
"Why are you doing all this?" he asked, holding up the Padd for emphasis.
"I don’t know," she admitted, "I guess I’m getting bored with the Academy. All they do is sit there and drivel on about how we should learn through books and computers instead of actually going out into the galaxy and exploring. I want to explore, Dad, not sit in a classroom and learn about some dead guy who invented warp drive for Earth. It’s depressing because I know it all; our people," she continued, referring to the El-Aurians, "had warp drive before almost every current race in the galaxy. You taught me more than they can teach in the Academy." She drew herself closer to her father and slipped her arms around his waist, laying her head on his chest. "It’s good to be home, Dad." He couldn’t help but smile; her definition of home was wherever Brevik was; once it was on the USS Galaxy, now it was on the Horizon.
"I love you, Dad."
"I love you too, Feebs," he sighed as he returned the hug and kissed the top of her head.
Teran nodded his head in approval from his seat to the right of the captain’s chair. Phoebe was stood next to Marshall at his tactical console, with Heinfeldt at the helm. Brevik sat down in his chair and grimly ordered Heinfeldt to set a course for Alpha Centauri.
The massive Horizon glided out of its mooring in the drydock, passing through the immense Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards facility. At the edge of the system, Horizon leaped to warp speeds, a blur of light among billions of stars.
The three officers sat impatiently on a bench in the observation deck of Starbase Five orbiting Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Sol. Jini Merenna had her blue Bolian face almost pressed against the window, trying to see if she could spot the incoming Horizon. Doctor Conbiir was fascinated with Jini’s strange markings on the left side of her face: a brand mark given to her by the Breen during the Dominion War when she was captured. Ensign Max Cole kept looking at the chronometer on the wall and then out at the collection of starships coming and going from the system. Cole was a strange man; at thirty he was still an Ensign and had a mop of brown hair along with blue eyes and a brown goatee that made him look decidedly wise.
Conbiir didn’t know what to think of Jini; she had survived a month in a Breen internment camp during the War and had been branded on the side of her face. A dermal regenerator could easily repair the damage from the side of her face, but she had kept it, presumably to show that she was a survivor, just like Conbiir.
Only moments before, the announcement of the Horizon’s arrival in the system prompted Jini’s fixation on the ships in orbit of Alpha Centauri and the massive mushroom-shaped Starbase Five.
Then they saw it; all the ships in its way moved rapidly out of the way to let the huge Sovereign-class starship pass by. Onlookers gawped at the majesty and size of the Horizon; almost all ships in the system stopped to watch the rare event of a Sovereign-class gliding past them. It slowed as it neared the Starbase and entered a slow ponderous synchronous orbit of the station.
Conbiir’s commbadge chirped for attention. He tapped it, opening the channel to whoever was calling.
"Conbiir here," the Doctor said, announcing himself.
"Doctor," a female voice said, "this is Captain Taylor, commander of the station." Conbiir found it strange that the Captain herself had contacted him as none of the three officers waiting to join the Horizon had actually spoken to her or interacted with her at any time. "The Horizon’s Captain has asked that you and Ensigns Cole and Merenna wait for his arrival in Ops."
"We’ll be there as soon as possible, Captain, thankyou. Conbiir out."
They shouldered their bags and headed for the nearest turbolift. Conbiir found it odd that none of the two Ensigns had actually connected with him, he didn’t like to brag but he was pretty good at socialising and had an inviting bedside manner. Yet Cole and Merenna seemed to be quite uncomfortable around him; they don’t trust me, he realised, not since I survived that slaughterhouse on the Templar during the War. He felt shivers crawl up his spine and into his brain as he remembered that fateful day when a unit of Jem’Hadar had boarded the USS Templar and slaughtered its relatively small and inexperienced crew. Only Conbiir, two other medical personnel and three off-duty personnel had survived; all six had been subjected to weeks of interrogations and debriefings. Orderly Resto and Lieutenant McAllen had left Starfleet to pursue quiet lives together; Nurse Warnes was training to be a doctor; Lieutenant Commander McLaren had been committed to a mental institute, and Crewman Nelson had been promoted to Chief Petty Officer and assigned to the Relentless under the watchful eye of its chief engineer.
The turbolift doors opened and the three officers stepped out onto the Starbase’s massive two-storey Operations Centre. Captain Julie Taylor stood at the centre of Ops with her first officer, Warrant Officer Samuel Gray. They were an odd contrast: Taylor was short, with greying hair and lines under her eyes, whilst Gray was intimidatingly tall with sharp fresh facial features and shaven blonde hair with an annoying habit of never smiling.
Taylor smiled when she saw Conbiir, Cole and Merenna step off the turbolift with their gear. The transporter on the upper balcony hummed to life and a figure appeared on it still encased in the blue-white light of a Federation transporter. The light effects from the transporter disappeared almost immediately to reveal the tall, imposing features shape of Captain Valian Brevik, a man Conbiir never thought he’d see again. Brevik and the crew of his old ship, the Galaxy, had arrived too late to save the Templar’s crew but had killed the Jem’Hadar unit and stopped them overloading the warp core, thus saving the six survivors and the ship itself.
Brevik smiled grimly as he stepped off the transporter pad and descended down a metal ladder attached to the bulkhead. He weaved around several consoles and crewmen before shaking hands with Captain Taylor and Gray. He then turned his attention to his three new officers.
"Doctor Conbiir, it’s good to see you again," he said as he took the Doctor’s outstretched hand. Then he looked at Cole and smiled with genuine happiness, "Welcome back, Max." Conbiir was perplexed as to how the two knew each other, but then Cole had never talked about his career. Brevik saw Conbiir’s confusion and explained, "A young Max Cole served as my science officer on the Galaxy before she was destroyed. And this must be Ensign Jini Merenna," the big Captain said, turning and gesturing at Jini.
She nodded and blushed, though being a Bolian meant that her cheeks went a lighter shade of blue. Brevik smiled again, to Conbiir it didn’t seem like the Captain was used to the action of smiling, at least not a lot.
"I’m afraid we will only be here for a few minutes before we leave again; I’ll let you get settled in on the ship before I brief you on our assignment. I’m sure Captain Taylor won’t mind if you beam over from here instead of lugging your gear upstairs." He turned to the older-looking Captain who shook her head, prompting Brevik to nod to Conbiir.
The Doctor tapped his commbadge, "Conbiir to Horizon, three to beam over."
"Energize." And they were gone, disappearing in the same manner that Brevik had arrived.
Brevik turned back to Taylor and gave her a Padd outlining his mission and his equipment requirements. She managed to keep poker-faced when she finished reading about the Horizon’s assignment. Surprisingly it was Gray who made the emotional outburst.
"Are you serious about this, sir?" he asked.
"I wish I wasn’t, Sam," Brevik answered, using the name he had used when Gray had been a Cadet years ago at the Academy and Brevik had been a guest lecturer for a semester. "Starfleet is contacting every starship it can so that they can prepare a fleet to counter any Borg vessels that enter Federation space. Ships on the borders with the Romulans, Gorn, Breen, Talarians, Tholians and Tzenkethi have been put on high alert in case any of those races try to use the situation with the Borg to cross into our space. Even Excalibur and Trident have been warned about the situation. That’s how desperate the situation is."
"What’s one starship going to do against a fleet of Borg vessels?" Gray exclaimed.
"Horizon is to meet with the Hanson and the Gh’Kla; Chancellor Martok has promised Starfleet he’ll send in as many ships as he can, but he wants to protect his own people as well. The Romulans are sending their own ships into Sector 224-A to investigate the appearance of the damaged Borg Sphere." Brevik saw the look on Gray’s face at the mention of the Romulan involvement. Only a select few knew about Gray’s assignment to Romulus to extract Ambassador Spock after Captain Kirk’s emergence from the Nexus and his subsequent death; before Gray could slip the Ambassador off the planet, he had been captured by the Tal Shiar and tortured, having convinced the Romulan intelligence agency that he was working for a tailor from Cardassia. Starfleet had then sent another team to extract the Ambassador and rescue Gray. The Warrant Officer had needed three months on Earth to recover from his ordeal.
"So you could very well end up being confronted by a fleet of Warbirds whilst you’re out there," Taylor realised. Brevik nodded. "We can give you some extra supplies for your assignment, this is a big station after all, and no one’s going to miss a few phasers her and a Runabout there." She stepped over to the nearest computer terminal and called up the station’s inventory. "On top of what we’re supposed to be giving you, I can give you three crates of hand phasers, two crates of phaser rifles, the Hemingway and the Taw."
"Thankyou, Julie," Brevik nodded. He was glad he was getting a Runabout, the Taw was old, but still reliable.
"I’ll have everything sent over in the Runabout," Gray stated.
Brevik nodded and headed to the transporter pad. In a swirl of blue-white light he was gone.
After unpacking his belongings in his quarters on deck 12, Conbiir strode to the sickbay. He entered and found half of it unfinished, the office was a shambles, Padds and tools placed in a random fashion on the floor; he had to be careful not to tread on any of the equipment. In his attempt to avoid the equipment on the floor, he almost stood on the hand of an engineer working in the office.
"This is what Starfleet has given me? A sickbay that’s about as useful as a Gazelle in a mine?" Several technicians frowned at the reference, not sure whether the doctor was being funny or being deadly serious. Conbiir decided to boot the engineer out of his office so he could go through the medical database, the crew’s medical records, and any new medical journals added to the ship’s computer.
He spent three hours reviewing the data in the crew’s medical records, surprised to learn that Captain Brevik’s record was classified. He frowned and brought up any files relating to Brevik’s; the search subroutine came up with three other files that were related to Brevik’s: a Cadet Phoebe Brevik’s medical record, plus two classified files on El-Aurians and the Borg.
He scrubbed the search parameters from the office computers and began the medical journals, but all the while he couldn’t help think that the Captain was more than just a simple Starfleet officer.
Taylor made good on her promise, the Runabout Taw and the Type-9 shuttle Hemingway arrived in the Horizon’s secondary shuttlebay carrying the supplies promised by Starfleet Command and Captain Taylor. Brevik assigned Commander Teran and Ensign Merenna to catalogue all the supplies and store them in the correct places. Whilst they were doing that, a Lieutenant Amelia Roberts gingerly approached the Captain’s ready room. She was the tactical officer for Horizon’s night shift, so the senior staff and even the Captain himself rarely saw her. Lieutenant Heinfeldt saw her and smiled sheepishly at her and then blushed when she noticed him watching her.
The doors opened and Brevik walked into her before she could touch the chime to the door.
"Lieutenant Roberts, isn’t it?" Brevik asked after he caught her from falling onto the floor.
"Yes, sir." He stood her up, and did up his jacket that he had plainly just been hurriedly putting back on as he was coming out of his ready room.
"What can I do for you, Lieutenant?" the Captain asked, obviously rather pleased with himself that he had remembered who she was and at the same time embarrassed that he had almost ignored her.
"I wanted to talk to you, Captain, in private." Normally her voice was quiet and almost babyish, but now it took on a deeper more serious tone. Brevik frowned at Roberts’ change of voice, but obliged her. He gestured for her to follow him back into the ready room and then sat down in his normal seat; Roberts decided to remain standing and Brevik had only just realised that she was holding something behind her back.
"What’s this all about, Lieutenant?"
She handed him the Padd that she had been holding. He took it despite being highly confused. Then the confusion turned into anger and his long face-splitting scar darkened as it always did when he was angry. He looked up at her smug face; Roberts took a step back from the desk when she could’ve sworn that Brevik’s red eyes glowed.
"You’re an agent for Section 31?" he managed, trying to force himself to not leap across the desk and snap Roberts’ neck like a twig. She saw the look in his face and took another step back before regaining her composure and smug assurance.
"I was the protégé of Sloan himself, I was in Starfleet on the Defiant actually," she said as she began slowly walking around the room. She didn’t even realise what Brevik was doing until he planted an image of her and Lieutenant Heinfeldt making love on the helm console. She shook the image away and turned to Brevik, a look of horror and confusion on her face.
"I take it your superiors didn’t tell you that I have certain abilities. Not their fault really, my medical records are classified even to most Admirals."
"You’re telepathic?" she asked, staring into his red pupils.
"Among other things," he nodded.
"But El-Aurians aren’t telepathic," she protested. Her argument was sound of course; generally El-Aurians could only detect shifts in the space-time continuum, a kind of ‘sixth sense’. They weren’t able to use real telepathy.
"I’m nine hundred years old, I’ve had a long time to learn the technique and some others along the way. My race isn’t telepathic as a rule, but our sixth sense has the potential to become telepathy. Over the centuries I’ve managed to develop my powers and control them. I keep them a secret though, I doubt Starfleet would trust me if they knew I had those kinds of powers."
"What other things can you do?" despite the situation she was clearly curious; trying to discover my weaknesses no doubt, Brevik mused. Deep concentration rushed into his features, then ‘Roberts’ suddenly found herself floating above the deck. Her eyes widened with shock and she gasped, ready to scream. The concentration passed from Brevik’s face and she dropped like a sack of spuds onto the floor, knocking the wind out of her.
"I wouldn’t call for help, considering you just revealed to me that you’re working for Section 31. I’ve had dealings with your organisation before; when I was on the Galaxy, Sloan approached me and tried to recruit me, he almost died as a result; those that served with me on the Galaxy have faced Section 31, it’s nothing new to them. Thanks to Commander Vaughn and Doctor Bashir at DS9, rumours of Section 31 are flying all around the Federation, speculation is turning into certainty, and soon Section 31 will be exposed."
"What do you want with me?" she managed as she picked herself off the floor.
"First of all, what do you want with me? To give Section 31 all my knowledge of the Borg? To join Section 31? Or was there another plan involving me and my crew that I haven’t mentioned?"
"Section 31’s plan is to get the Horizon to steal Borg technology, and also to insert doubt in your mind towards your crew, specifically your chief engineer."
"What’s Marla got to do with anything?"
"I cannot say," she replied, backing toward the door.
"You can’t say, or you won’t say?" Brevik demanded as he stood up out of his chair; he walked quickly around his desk and clamped a hand on her shoulder.
"I cannot say," she repeated.
"Who else from Section 31 is on my ship?"
"I’m the only one," she spluttered.
"You’re really not that good at this spy gig are you?" he mocked her, though in truth he had been using his unusual telekinesis to stimulate the part of her brain that controlled the primordial instinct to be scared and run away; her mental training was too extensive to be able to ‘persuade’ her of doing anything, so he had resorted to using the physical stimulus of telekinesis.
He could see in her face that she was confused as to how she could be scared. He shook his head in disappointment at not being able to convince her of the error of her ways.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked, almost afraid to ask.
"Put you in the brig of course," he replied matter-of-factly.
"You can’t! You’d have to tell them about Section 31, and I know you couldn’t explain that to them!" She was desperate now, Brevik could see that. And then she suddenly skipped from Brevik’s strong grasp and swung a hard roundhouse kick that connected with the side of his head. He dropped to the floor, momentarily stunned; she came at him again and kicked him in the stomach before he could defend himself. Brevik was caught off guard by her sudden strength and agility.
Then he composed himself before she could get in another hit. He struck out with his legs, with the intention of sweeping her legs out from under her. She was ready and managed to leap over his long legs before they connected. He scrambled up onto his feet, waiting for her next move. She kicked high twice, but he got his arm up in time to deflect both without any trouble.
She kept kicking and punching, trying to find a weak point in his defences, but couldn’t get past his fast hands. He wouldn’t budge, but she kept coming at him, even resorting to throwing his desk terminal at him. She screamed in frustration and launched herself into the air, with the hope of colliding with him and knocking him over; but he was ready again. With a massive effort and a grunt he swung an uppercut that connected with her stomach, she flew back as if hit by a moving brick wall and slammed into the door before it had a chance to open.
Marshall had heard the hit on the door and came running in with a phaser in his hand. He swore when he saw Roberts unconscious on the floor.
"Take her to sickbay; when she’s well enough, take her to the brig."
"Aye, sir. Captain, what the hell just happened?" Marshall was absolutely confused, despite his training.
"Lieutenant Roberts here," Brevik replied, pointing to Roberts’ prone form, "is an agent of Section 31. Make sure Doctor Conbiir deactivates any devices in her that could end her life." Marshall didn’t need anymore convincing; he slapped his commbadge and requested a medical emergency transport to sickbay. He and Roberts disappeared just as Teran strode in with his own phaser.
"Are you okay, Captain?" he asked when he saw the bruises on the side of his head and hands.
"I’ll be fine, just a few bruises, that’s all," he walked out of his ready room and onto the bridge where the entire bridge staff were looking at him with complete astonishment. Teran followed him out and gestured for them all to go back to what they were doing.
"Ensign Merenna," Brevik addressed the Bolian ops officer, "scan all ships in the system, check to see if any have fake ID tags and compile a list of their history if you can. Let me know when you’ve finished." Jini immediately went to work. "Teran, come with me." Brevik stepped into the turbolift, his Andorian first officer right beside him as he ordered the turbolift to deck sixteen. The doors opened moments later and they stepped out onto the relatively calm deck.
"What’s this all about, Captain?"
"Section 31, my friend," Brevik said as they came to sickbay’s main entrance.
"Gods, not again," Teran groaned. The doors opened to reveal Conbiir and one of his nurses frantically working to save the life of ‘Lieutenant Roberts’. Brevik realised that he had never even asked what her real name was.
"What the Rekk is going on, Doctor?" Teran exclaimed.
"She activated a neural inhibitor; she’s going into analectic shock. I may be able to save her, but there’s only a slim chance." Brevik and Teran rushed to Marshall’s side, who had been watching the whole fiasco from a safe distance after Conbiir had shouted at him for getting in the way.
"Do your best, Doctor," Brevik told him, "we need her alive; she could hold information on Section 31’s plans and possibly the identities of other agents she’s come into contact, perhaps even the person or persons that assigned her to the Horizon."
"Someone in Starfleet had to have known that she was an agent of ’31," Marshall suggested, "there’s no way she could have gotten onboard without help from someone in Command." Both Brevik and Teran nodded in agreement.
"Teran," Brevik addressed his first officer, "go back up to the bridge and talk to Jini Merenna, see how she’s getting on, and ask her about her father, I have a bad feeling he has something to do with Section 31’s involvement on Horizon."
"Why do you say that?" Teran asked.
"When Admiral Paris contacted me with our assignment," Brevik explained, "Commander Merenna kept interrupting as if-"
"As if he knew more than he was letting on about the mission," Teran interrupted.
"Or something related to the mission," Marshall added. The three senior officers looked at one another with something in between confusion and worry. They’d completely forgotten about the Doctor’s attempts to save the life of the woman claiming to be Lieutenant Roberts. Conbiir approached the Horizon’s three most senior officers with a pensive face.
"How is she, Doctor?" Teran asked. Conbiir looked at each man in turn as if delaying the result of his attempts to create some form of tension.
"She’s stable," the ever-calm South African answered, "and awake at the moment; you may talk to her if you must, but do not stress her, she could destabilise if you do. I’ll monitor from a distance." Brevik nodded to Teran, who left in a hurry. Brevik turned back to the woman on the main bio-bed and tentatively approached with Marshall staying by his side.
"Amelia...Roberts...what is your real name?"
"I go by Amelia."
"Amelia then," Brevik corrected, "we need to know if Commander Merenna is involved with your operation."
"Of Starfleet Intelligence?"
"Yes, he’s the father of one of my officers."
"Jini Merenna...nice girl, could have made a fine operative if she’d listened to her father; instead she chose to become a Starfleet officer and serve on a starship. She’s strong; she had to have been to survive her internment in that Breen prison. She’s certainly proud to have survived, seeing as she kept that brand mark. You’re concerned that I’ll die before I tell you anything about Section 31 and what they’re up to, aren’t you?"
"You a mind-reader now?" Brevik snorted.
"No, I’ll leave the mind-reading to you." She saw the brief look on Marshall’s face; Brevik had done a really good job of keeping his powers a secret even from his chief of security.
"You’re not going to tell me, are you?" Brevik realised.
"No, but feel free to roam around in my head, I’m sure you’ll find something in there, but I’m not going to help you." Brevik sighed and sat down on the edge and looked down into her eyes. "They do say the eyes are the windows to our souls."
Brevik’s face creased in concentration as he pushed through Amelia’s incredible mental barriers. She envisioned brick walls, ship hulls, mountains, anything to stop him from gaining access to her mind, but nothing she had been taught worked, he easily broke through each barrier until he eventually got into her mind. He saw images of her family, childhood memories, her friends, lovers, high school teachers, her brief career in Starfleet and eventually came to images of her missions with Section 31, immaculate details that Brevik managed to commit to memory. He saw images of the places she had seen, people she had met along the way, Section 31 operatives she had encountered and everything else she knew about Section 31.
Brevik could suddenly feel a massive headache coming on, then he felt a wet tingling sensation in his tear ducts and his nose and he could taste iron in his mouth. His eyes snapped open and Conbiir was standing there with a medical tricorder, scanning him Marshall standing nearby looking very concerned.
"Captain, you’re brain is going to overload if you try that little stunt again. You’ve managed to gain years of memories, but their chemical patterns are already beginning to fade from your brain." Brevik suddenly stood up and slapped his commbadge, talking to Lieutenant Gilmore to build a device that could store organic material to be transferred into computer data.
Half an hour later Marla Gilmore arrived to find a blonde woman on the main bio-bed and Doctor Conbiir using a dermal regenerator on Captain Brevik’s face and hands. She gestured for Crewman Kellden to place the equipment he was carrying next to the Captain. She was still not used to having so many men and women under her command. Brevik smiled when he saw her and she couldn’t help but smile back.
"Thanks, Doctor," Brevik said as Conbiir finished healing the Captain. He stood up from the edge of the bed he was sitting on and strode to stand in front of Marla. "Lieutenant, I hope you’ve managed to build a suitable device I can use. Either way, you’re a miracle worker."
"Thankyou, Captain," she replied. She was still enamoured with the tall El-Aurian, one of the crewmen in Engineering had even joked that she had a crush on the Captain. She shook the thought off almost as fast as it had appeared. She connected the small device to the nearest medical terminal and then connected a wire to each of Brevik’s temples. He flinched when the wires burrowed under his skin. "Sorry," Marla said apologetically. He shrugged, as if it had never really hurt.
Marla wasn’t really one-hundred-percent-sure what would happen, but the theory was that the wires would pass harmless electrical currents into the Captain’s brain to attract specific chemicals that would then pass back down the wire into the ‘brain buffer’ as Kellden had called it; the brain buffer would then convert the chemicals into computer data through electrical stimulations and the computer’s interpretations of what they meant. It took a few minutes before anything began to happen. Then dozens upon dozens of images flashed on the terminal screen.
Marla smiled, proud that she and her engineers had come up with such a complicated device in such a short time. The images continued to flash past everyone’s eyes.
Without warning, Brevik collapsed onto the bio-bed; Conbiir rushed to the Captain’s side just as Kellden announced that the download was complete in his gargled accent common to all Manakans. Conbiir ripped the wires out of Brevik’s temples and began frantically scanning for what was wrong.
He turned round to the worried onlookers in sickbay with a look of shock on his face, "he’s unconscious!"
"I need you to tell me everything you know about your father and Section 31," Teran said immediately. Jini was stunned that he was asking her; she had never thought anyone knew about her involvement with Section 31.
"H-how did you know?" she stuttered.
"Please answer my question," Teran ordered in an authoritative tone.
Jini sighed and looked into Teran’s blue eyes, "Section 31 tried to recruit me through my father. Unfortunately for them, I haven’t spoken to my father in years; this was just after I was rescued from the Breen internment facility on the Breen border. My father said they wanted me because I knew something about them and that my father was working for them."
"You knew something about them?" Teran questioned.
"When I was young," she began, "and my father was still living with me and my mum, he used to have friends over and they would talk for hours, I always listened to them through the floor above. Anyway, one night they caught me listening and threatened me to not tell anyone about what I heard."
"And what did you hear?"
"A plot to kill Captain Picard because of his involvement with the Borg. It didn’t succeed, his crew were too good for that to happen."
Teran sighed, "you should tell the Captain everything, even the stuff you haven’t told me." Suddenly his antennae twitched, a burning feeling he had, a kind of sixth sense that warned of impending danger. His commbadge chirped for attention; he slapped it, "Teran here."
"Commander, this is Marshall; the Captain’s unconscious. We downloaded all the information from his brain, but the effort knocked him out. The Doctor’s not saying what’s happened to his brain but he’s working on him at the moment."
"I’ll be down there in a second," Teran replied, realising he had just used a human phrase, something he never did. Jini saw the look of worry in Teran’s face as he stood up and then pounded out of the conference lounge and into the turbolift. Jini returned to her post, not looking at Heinfeldt’s curious glances. Jini told Heinfeldt about the Captain being knocked out, who then told the rest of the bridge crew, who in turn contacted their friends in other parts of the ship.
By the time Teran arrived at sickbay there was a congregation of crewmen and officers waiting outside, all talking worriedly about the Captain. When they saw Teran, they all stiffened. Teran could see the look of worry on their faces; all looking to him for answers, to tell them their Captain was going to recover. One face in the crowd stood out from the others, a Cadet with long white hair and red eyes, just like her father. He gestured for her to follow him and he entered sickbay. The Section 31 agent Amelia was sat up on her bio-bed, trying to see between the onlookers watching Conbiir stabilising the unconscious Captain.
Teran put a hand on Phoebe’s shoulder to stop her from running over to her father. She closed her eyes, not wanting to look at Brevik on the bed, and sunk her head into Teran’s chest. Uncomfortably, he put her arms around her and stroked the back of her head to comfort her. She was like his niece, he and Brevik had been friends for years, ever since Teran had joined the Galaxy as a young lieutenant and ops officer.
"He’s stable," Conbiir reported to Teran, "he should be awake in a couple of days." He smiled to Phoebe, who released Teran and ran to her father’s side and held his hand.
The Andorian nodded then turned to the Horizon’s chief of security, "Marshall, how long will it take us to travel to Deep Space Five at Warp nine?"
"At warp nine? Three days, but we can only sustain that for two," Teran could see Marshall working out the calculations in his head, "four days in total, sir." Teran nodded his acknowledgement.
"Give our thanks to Captain Taylor and her crew then set a course for Deep Space Five at warp nine point nine. Gilmore," Teran added, turning to the small frail-looking chief engineer, "take your new toy down to engineering and get one or two of your people to work on it; I want you to work another miracle for us: see what you can do about keeping us at maximum warp. I don’t want to keep the Hanson and Gh’Kla waiting any longer than I have to."
"Aye, sir," Marshall and Marla said in unison. Marla grabbed one end of the brain buffer and gestured for Kellden to take the other end: together they carried the brain buffer back down to engineering, whilst Marshall made his way to the bridge to carry out his own task.
Sparks flew on the bridge of the Al Batani. Admiral Janeway was seated in the central command chair on the bridge. The ship’s captain, Kim Williams, was dead, killed by flying debris. Janeway had taken over direct control of the ship and ordered the fleet to retreat to Deep Space Five.
Things had been perfectly quiet, the fleet had entered a monstrous uncharted nebula, blocking all long-range communications and limiting sensors. Somehow the Borg had been waiting for Janeway and her ships; four Borg cubes ambushed the fleet after they had spent two days slowly exploring the nebula. The Centaur had been disabled when the fleet stumbled upon an empty star system with in the nebula. Upon entering the system, the last transmission from its captain had described his crew being assimilated or killed by Borg boarding parties. Then the Repulse’s warp core had overloaded and destroyed the ship, taking a cube with it; but the rest continued unfazed. Challenger and Prometheus had then broken formation and swung around the sun on a different course, taking two cubes with them. The cubes had succinctly returned realising that their prey was not on those ships. The two heavily armed starships had then turned around and split themselves to make six ships and continually fired upon the cubes, despite being ignored.
It was becoming painfully obvious to Janeway that she was the target of the Borg’s attack. Whether they wanted her alive or not, she didn’t care, she wouldn’t drag the crews of another nine ships into it.
"Take the conn," she shouted to the Al Batani’s first officer. The man stood and walked over to the command chair.
"Where are you going, Admiral?" he demanded as the ship shook again under the pounding from more weapons fire. She pointed toward the viewscreen.
"It’s obvious that they’re after me, I’m not going to drag you and your crew into this fight. I’ll take a shuttle and draw them away from the fleet so that you can repair the ships and get the hell out of here!"
"I can’t let you do this, Admiral," the first officer shouted, firmly gripping Janeway’s arm in one hand.
"I’m ordering you to let me do this, Commander," she slipped from his grip and rushed to the turbolift; he didn’t stop her, nor did her call security and have her stopped. Moments later he saw the shuttle speed away from the Al Batani rear shuttlebay.
"Good luck, Admiral," he breathed.
Janeway recalled her conversations with the Admiral Janeway from the future. She realised that the tables had turned on her: Janeway was now an Admiral and attempting to do what the future Janeway had been doing: save lives. Her plan worked; the Borg cubes chased after the small shuttle with their prey piloting for all she was worth. The crews of her fleet headed for the nearest planet to effect repairs on their crippled vessels.
It took only minutes for the Borg to catch up with her shuttle and beam her aboard. Surprisingly, they didn’t assimilate her. She had lost all fear of the Borg a long time ago, and showed it with pride as six Borg drones manhandled her into a large chamber, reminiscent of the Queen’s chamber in the Unicomplex.
"Admiral Janeway, what a pleasant surprise," the seductive female voice was chillingly familiar. Movement from Janeway’s left caught her eye; from the shadows stepped the impossible.
"I can’t really say the same about you, seeing as you’re supposed to be dead."
"You are of course referring to my predecessor." Janeway realised that the Queen did seem different; her skin was darker, as if she had only recently been assimilated, and she was taller, with broader shoulders. This Queen obviously couldn’t separate her limbs like the previous lone as her entire body was covered in an armoured body glove, covering her from her toes to the top of her neck, wires and tubes sprouted from random places on her body, plugging into other parts of her, and most notably there was a piece of technology covering her left eye, a round red mechanical prosthetic replacing her real eye.
The Queen saw the confused look in Janeway’s face and explained, "Whenever a Queen is terminated another takes its place. When the future Admiral Janeway destroyed my predecessor, I was assimilated to take her place. There was chaos at first, you destroyed one of our transwarp hubs, and the Unimatrix complex; drones were temporarily cut off from the collective, some terminated themselves instead of suffering without the collective. I brought order back to that chaos however and now I’m doing what my predecessor could not: I’m taking the fight right to the Federation. The attacks before have all been one ship, or a subtle approach, but no more; we are officially declaring outright war on the Federation. And you will help me..."
"Like hell," Janeway spat, "why are you declaring war? That would be a warning to the Federation, unless you’re being really cocky and think you can win no matter what the Federation does."
"Well, well, Admiral, you know us better than we realised." The Queen strode seductively in a circle around Janeway, gesturing for the Admiral’s drone escort to move away. If Janeway had been a man then the Queen’s movements might have some lustful effect on her, but as it was it just looked sadistic. "The next question you’re going to ask is ‘Why haven’t we assimilated you?’"
The realisation hit Janeway like a lightning bolt: "you’re going to make me watch the assimilation of the Federation."
"My predecessor made the mistake of trying to kill you, which she found impossible; so I’m going to break you first, torture you without physically harming you. It is obvious that before we can conquer the Federation, we have to conquer its mind, break its spirit. Only then can we fully conquer your race and its allies: Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons, Bajorans, whatever; they will all fall."
"I hope you’re ready for a fight, because the Federation won’t sit still while you assimilate it." Suddenly the Queen’s head jerked around, activating a projected screen image of a group of Federation starships heading for the Borg cubes. Janeway had lost track of time, she cursed herself for that little mistake; she’d been with the Borg for almost an hour. Then the viewpoint switched to a piece of the nebula; there were no ships on the image, only the nebula, but at the centre of the image appeared to be disturbances, fluctuations in the nebula –cloaked ships, Janeway hoped.
"We have discovered thirty-one subspace surges in the nebula," the Queen hissed excitedly, "perhaps cloaked vessels." She whirled on Janeway with a look of hate in her eyes. Suddenly the cube-ship rocked as the flotilla of Starfleet vessels returned to take back their Admiral. Then the subspace surges revealed themselves.
"Romulan Warbird decloaking off the port bow," the tactical officer screamed. "There’s another decloaking behind us, no wait, three behind us. Wait..."
"Lieutenant?" Commander Clarke looked at her questioningly.
"I’m reading thirty-one Romulan warships decloaking all around us." She smacked the tactical console as if that would fix the sensors and change the amount of Romulan vessels. "Twenty D’deridex-class Warbirds plus eleven scout ships."
"What?" Clarke shouted nervously. "Are you sure?" He knew the Al Batani’s sensors were functioning fine, but he found it hard to believe that a whole fleet of Romulan ships were decloaking around the fight between the Starfleet Borg and ships. The Warbird closest to the Borg cubes was immediately fired upon, the cube directing its entire weaponry on the Romulans. "Hail them," Clarke said to the tactical officer.
"Our fleet is spread around the Borg and Starfleet vessels," Sub-Commander T’Ren reported from her station, "we are ready to attack at your order, Commander." Merar was always unsettled when his first officer looked at him like that: sinisterly, as if she were about to pull out a disruptor and shoot him right there and then. It amazed him how the Romulan Fleet still considered murdering your superior officer for his rank a viable step up to the next level; he never understood why the Fleet didn’t copy the example of Starfleet; their system of gaining promotions by passing tests or acts of kindness, brilliance or bravery was certainly one Merar agreed with. He had instigated that rule on his ship; killing was forbidden.
"The Federation Starship Al Batani is hailing us, Commander," the helmsman announced.
"Put it on the main viewer," he ordered. The slim and dark face of a human Commander appeared on the screen. He was injured and the bridge behind him was blackened in a lot of places by explosions; sparks continually flowed from an exposed pipeline, showering the dead body of a Starfleet officer. A support beam crashed down and slammed into the decking behind the Commander.
"Can I help you?" the human asked impatiently. He was struggling to stay in his seat as his ship bounced around under the Borg’s bombardment.
"We are here to investigate sightings of the Borg," Merar replied.
"Well you’ve found them; mind giving us a hand?"
Merar nodded and ordered the other Romulan ships to open fire. He still could not fathom why Admiral Mendak had put him in charge of the fleet, perhaps because of his friendship with the crew of the Starship Galaxy. He had mourned the loss of the Galaxy; he had served on it for several hours before its destruction. But now he had his own ship, a D’deridex Warbird no less, and command of thirty-one vessels.
At first the Romulans didn’t make a dent on the Borg ships, then they began to coordinate, fighting in pairs: one cloaked and moved to a different position each time whilst the other fired constantly on the Borg, then the first would decloak and fire whilst its partner cloaked and moved to a different location. This went on for ten minutes, one ship cloaked whilst the other fired and then swapped places, with the Starfleet ships taking the brunt of the Borg fire.
The Tecumseh took a direct hit to its engineering section; its crew desperately attempted to stop the ship from drifting; it was no good, the large Akira-class drifted, its tail end flipping up and over, slamming the ship into the nearest Borg cube. Its warp core detonated, blowing the engineering section to pieces, sending the ripples of explosion all over the ship in a few split seconds; it set off a chain reaction within the Borg cube; Merar watched as the explosions ripped the cube to shreds and took a pair of Warbirds and the Starship Livingston and damaging the cube next to it.
Merar shook his head; the Starfleet ships are taking a real beating yet they continue to fight, even sacrificing their own lives to save their peoples. There was only one cube left; Merar surmised that it must be a command vessel or one that simply had better defences than the others. It was putting up a tremendous fight; but now the entire Romulan battlegroup focused its weaponry on it, bringing to bear more weapons than any Romulan fleet before or since the Dominion War.
"Commander," the helmsman cried, "I’m detecting a human lifesign on that Borg vessel; there’s a Starfleet commbadge signal coming from it."
"What?" he jumped out of his chair and looked over the helmsman’s shoulder, making sure the man was correct. "Send the data to the Al Batani. They might want to rescue whoever it is before we destroy that Borg vessel."
The communications officer turned to Merar with a concerned look on her face; Merar was disturbed by the amount of females in the contemporary Romulan Fleet. "Commander, the Starship Al Batani reports that the lifesign is that of Admiral Kathryn Janeway and they are endeavouring to rescue her."
"Thankyou and tell them we will assist if necessary." The comms officer turned back to her station and feverishly worked on sending the transmission. She reported back that the Al Batani’s Commander Clarke needed all the help he could get.
Merar nodded and then turned to the helmsman, "helm bring us in an attack run that’ll take us behind the Al Batani and then directly at the Borg vessel.
"Yes, sir," the younger Romulan replied. The Al Batani took a hit to its port nacelle as the immense Sulkar’s Vengeance came around the back of the starship and dove in at the Borg. All around, the Romulans and Starfleet vessels took one last run at the Borg cube and fired with all that they had. Phasers, photon and quantum torpedos, disruptors, all hit the Borg cube with such force that it crumpled under the impacts.
"Welcome back, Admiral Janeway," Clarke smiled as Janeway stepped off the turbolift and onto the bridge.
She smiled sheepishly, "I guess it was pointless me leaving in the first place." Clarke just shrugged and turned back to commanding the ship, his ship. Janeway wisely stood to one side of the bridge, keeping out of the way of the bridge crew as they took the ship away from the remains of the Borg cube. The Al Batani’s transporter chief had managed to beam Janeway away from the cube before the opposing fleet had wrecked it. She was surprise to learn that the few remaining Starfleet ships were being assisted by over two dozen Romulan ships, the subspace surges in the nebula, she realised.
The commander of the Romulan Warbird Sulkar’s Vengeance had taken command of the combined Romulan and Federation fleet and ordered the retreat back to safe territory.
"Order the other ships to cloak and head back to Romulan territory; bid the Federation vessels farewell," Merar reluctantly ordered. His orders had been simple: investigate the appearance of the Borg ship in Federation Sector 224-A and destroy any Borg vessels present then return to Romulan space and under no circumstances assist the Federation.
"Yes, sir," the comms officer sighed. Merar raised an eyebrow; he hadn’t expected that his crew would not want to leave the company of the Federation ships. He realised that he too did not want to leave the newly christened combined fleet.
"Sir," the helmsman reported, "I’m picking up another Borg ship on sensors, it’s tailing the Federation ships. Looks like a command vessel of some kind."
"Remember your orders, Commander," a deep growling voice made itself known. It was Telarn, the massive Tal’Shiar operative assigned to the Sulkar’s Vengeance.
"I haven’t forgotten, Colonel. But you are on my ship as a courtesy, an observer, nothing more." Merar sneered at him, who simply shrugged and smiled.
"Sir, what about the Borg vessel?" the helmsman asked. "The Federation ships don’t have enough firepower to stop it. Their weapons are severely damaged." He was clearly concerned that the Federation starships were not going to survive; Merar could not blame him, many Romulans that had fought alongside the Federation and Klingons during the War had become sympathetic toward their allies.
"Commander," Telarn growled, "I’m warning you."
Merar visibly sighed and ordered the cloak to be activated. The Romulan fleet would stay close by to see if the Federation ships survived but would take no action to help them. He was sure he was going to be demoted anyway for helping Starfleet in the nebula.
The giant Warbird’s hull rippled, the cloaking device covering its appearance from anyone looking.
Her underwear seemed to have been designed to reveal as mush as possible, but still cover up vital areas; as it was, it made her look almost naked. Teran shook the thought off and stepped in; Phoebe was sobbing and holding a picture of her and her parents.
She saw Teran and almost pleaded for him to comfort her. He sat down next to her on the bed and put his arms around her shoulders. In all aspects, except biologically, Teran was Phoebe’s uncle; he had been a brother and best friend to Phoebe’s father since the Andorian became security chief on the Galaxy.
"I miss him already," she sobbed. "I did all that stuff in the Academy because I wanted to show Starfleet I wasn’t the famous Captain’s Brevik’s daughter, but now all I want is my daddy back with me!"
"I know, Feebs," Teran said comfortingly, stroking her hair.
"And I miss my mummy," she managed, clutching the picture in one hand and wrapping her free arm around Teran. "Why do the bad things always have to happen to my family?" she cried.
He didn’t an answer, and nothing was said for hours until Doctor Conbiir called him over the ship’s intercom to tell him that the Captain’s vital signs indicated that he was waking up.
"Amelia is in the brig, seeing as she is willing to be sentenced. The Doctor reckons you passed on some of your compassion to her during your ‘mindmeld’." Teran was clearly proud of how he had described the telepathic download from Amelia’s brain to Brevik’s. Phoebe smiled, one of those look-at-my-silly-uncle smiles.
"What’s been happening since I was out?" Brevik asked of his first officer.
"Deep Space Five reported picking up major weapons fire coming from an uncharted nebula; they think its Admiral Janeway’s fleet. They also detected massive amounts of subspace surges around that area."
"Cloaked ships?" Brevik ventured.
"They think it’s very likely, but they can’t get a fix on their precise location or how many ships there are. Could be a whole fleet out there." Teran handed a Padd to Brevik and gave him a few seconds to review the data.
"How far out from DS5 are we?"
"Three hours, sir," Marshall replied.
"DS5 also picked up a group of Starfleet vessels heading in their direction. The ships aren’t responding to their hails and there’s something behind them."
"Something?" Brevik paused from reading the information on the Padd.
"The warp signature doesn’t match anything in our database," Marshall interjected. Brevik nodded and returned to reading the Padd, whilst Phoebe held his hand. The El-Aurian’s eyes widened when he read the data concerning the mysterious ship.
"Rekk," Brevik cursed, "it’s a Borg Diamond."
"How do you know that, sir?" Conbiir asked, surprising the three veteran officers.
"Because I...went up against one a few centuries ago." He jumped out of the bed, his head suddenly feeling heavy and dizzy.
"Captain, you need to rest," Conbiir protested. He placed a hand on Brevik’s shoulder to stop him, but the El-Aurian moved away without difficulty. The big Captain went to the replicator and replicated himself a new uniform. It turned out to be the Captain’s variant of the standard uniform: a sleeveless waistcoat-esque jacket with the grey shoulders extended downwards. He changed into it in the Doctor’s office and then headed to the bridge, Teran filling him in on ship movements in the sector and activities on the ship. Brevik was surprised to learn that Amy Ryder had paid him a visit during his comatose state.
He arrived on the bridge to find Felix Heinfeldt in the command chair. He smiled when he saw the Captain up and about and took his place at the helm. Jini was seated at her usual Ops console; Marshall returned to the tactical station, with Teran taking his place at the captain’s right hand and Phoebe sitting in the unoccupied third command chair.
"Change course to intercept the trailing unidentified vessel," Brevik ordered, "maximum warp." Despite not immediately knowing what the unidentified vessel was Felix set course for an intercept. He threw a confused glance at Jini, who just shrugged.
"Contact Deep Space Five, we’re going to be a little late," Brevik smiled. The ship jolted as it went to maximum speed; Brevik looked at Teran for an explanation, but he shrugged and turned back to the small console next to his chair. Marla’s going to have to look at the inertial dampeners when we get to DS5, Brevik noted.
"Sir, I’m picking up another Federation starship coming in at high warp!" The comms officer’s announcement shocked everyone on the bridge, even the irrepressible Tal’Shiar Colonel. "It’s trying to contact the Al Batani and the other ships. It seems the Al Batani’s communications are down. They’re announcing themselves as the Starship Horizon, Sovereign-class."
"WHAT!?" Telarn sprinted to the communications station and looked at the communiqués from the approaching starship. It was true, the longest and most powerful of Starfleet’s ships thundered out of warp and headed straight for the Borg vessel. Its Captain was ingenious, as the Horizon had come out of warp almost on top of the Diamond vessel, giving the Borg little to no chance of preparing for its arrival.
Phasers lashed out and scraped large chunks off the Borg vessel, torpedos slamming into it as the bigger ship manoeuvred around for another pass, still firing. One final pass from the Horizon and a final quantum torpedo was all it took to destroy the Borg vessel. It exploded like an apple hitting a concrete floor. The Horizon swung back around and nestled itself in among the battered Starfleet vessels. Merar watched as the Horizon beamed personnel over to the other ships to help with repairs. Then its sensors flicked over the position the Romulans had taken, sweeping across the entire fleet.
"Commander, the Horizon is hailing us," the comms officer reported from her station, Telarn still looking over her shoulder.
"How? We’re cloaked." Then the realisation hit him like lightning, "of course; the subspace distortion put out by our cloak. Put the transmission on screen." He almost jumped out of his seat when he saw the Horizon’s captain and first officer.
"Captain Brevik!" Merar cried, ignoring the contemptible looks from Telarn and half the bridge crew.
"Merar?" the white-haired red-eyed Captain exclaimed.
"Commander Merar now, Captain."
Brevik and Teran, the El-Aurian’s loyal first officer and friend, looked at him with proud smiles on their faces. Then their faces went deadly serious, "Why the hell didn’t you help the Al Batani and her group?" Merar saw a look of betrayal in Brevik’s red eyes and it scared the hell out of him.
"Orders from the Senate and the Tal’Shiar," Merar replied nervously. All of the Sulkar’s bridge crew could see the effect the Horizon’s Captain was having on their Commander and it worried them. Several of them wondered if the Horizon’s captain was a demon from one of the stories their parents used to tell them when they were children.
"Get out of Federation territory, otherwise the Horizon will open fire on any Romulan ship that decloaks." The albino Captain made a cutting gesture with his hand across his neck and the channel went dead, the Romulan eagle replacing the image of the Horizon’s plush bridge.
Merar ordered a retreat to Romulan space and then left the bridge, upset that he had betrayed his friends Brevik and Teran. No one complained about his leaving, even Telarn had kept his trap shut. The Senate and Admirals were not going to like the outcome of this event...
With the aid of the Horizon’s engineers, the Al Batani and her group had limped back to DS5 at low warp, arriving to find the station on red alert. They had detected whole fleets of Borg vessels beyond Sector 224-A. They were gathering for a massive conflict; Starfleet Command, the Klingon High Council and the Romulan Senate had been informed of the gathering. Reinforcements were being sent to combat the problem. Four Federation ships and twelve Klingon cruisers had already arrived.
Janeway strode confidently into the Horizon’s ready room. She was surprised to find that the Captain –Nadia had said his name was Brevik- was staring peacefully out of a tall thin observation window, watching as ships docked with Deep Space Five or left the system on some errand. She was just about to announce herself when she stopped and stared at the Captain’s pure white hair; like the dark warrior in my nightmare, she realised, but he can’t be the warrior, I’ve never seen him or the warrior in my life before and it was only a nightmare.
Admiral Janeway sat in the guest seat at Brevik’s desk. On one wall hung a painting of a Galaxy-class starship at high warp, the inscription on the frame said, "to the captain and crew of the USS Galaxy, with many thanks from your favourite terra-former, Gideon." Janeway smiled despite not knowing who Gideon was or why he was thanking the crew of the Galaxy.
"You realise that the Borg will send every ship they can to fight against us, don’t you?" Brevik addressed Janeway. She jumped having not kept her attention on Brevik; he had turned round and managed to sit in his chair on the opposite side of the desk.
"Two days ago, we destroyed four Borg cubes and a Diamond, that’ll make them think twice about attacking the Federation," Janeway boasted. Brevik was unconvinced. "They want war with the Federation, we’ll give them one."
"I have a lot more experience with the Borg than you do, Admiral."
"Have you really, Captain?" she replied sceptically.
"What race am I, Admiral?" he asked, making her arch an eyebrow in confusion.
"Human," she answered.
"Wrong," he corrected, "I’m an El-Aurian; I am nine-hundred-years-old and I have seen more than you could imagine. You’re too goddamned cocky for an Admiral. I have a unique perspective on the Borg." Janeway could see he was angry: his head-splitting scar was darker than before.
"And what the hell is that then?"
He leaned forward, his red eyes looking more and more menacing by the second, "I used to hunt the Borg."
Completely forgetting her recent nightmare and Brevik’s involvement in it she gawped at him in amazement.
"Good day, Admiral," he said dismissingly. She stood up and stormed out of the ready room, leaving Brevik to move back to his observation window, staring out at the cosmos ...
"Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 55388.4. The Horizon is docked at Deep Space Five, awaiting further orders. Admiral Janeway has already expressed concern about Lieutenant Gilmore’s posting as chief engineer; she seems intent on trying to cause mistrust in my crew, though it isn’t going to work. Marla’s doing exceptionally well and already seems to be ahead of her game; the specs for the ‘brain buffer’ have been sent to Starfleet Engineering and Starfleet Medical. Commander Teran insists that I have some feelings toward Marla; perhaps I do, perhaps not.
Phoebe has settled quickly into being a part of this crew, despite still being a Cadet. She hasn’t shown any of the behaviour she was infamous for at the Academy, but it’s early days. The senior staff seem to have settled into their new roles and have begun making friends reasonably quickly, with the exception of Ensign Merenna. Many of my crew have been through hard times before being posted to the Horizon, myself included, but they are without a doubt the finest I have ever had the pleasure of commanding.
The Section 31 agent posing as Lieutenant Amelia Roberts has been turned over to Starfleet Intelligence along with the information taken from her memories. I doubt that that’ll be the last time I see her.
Admiral Solok on the T’Kumbra is being sent to DS5 to brief us on our next mission. I only hope that the Admiral’s arrival does not dredge up old arguments and feuds..."
- To be continued -
|Last modified: 06 Feb 2017