TITLE: Military Action
AUTHOR: Siege (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere just let me know 'K
DISCLAIMER: All things BtVS related belong to Joss Wheadon and M.E. Star trek and all that belong to someone else, not me.
SUMMARY: Part of the Prometheus-Verse (Tentative Title) series of stories, Comes after Redux, Xander cuts a deal with the Fleet but must save a friend. FEEDBACK: Please Do, and if you check My Website you will find "The Wall". I am trying to put everyone who gives me Feedback
on "The Wall" to show that I read it and Thank you :-)
KEYWORDS: BtVS, Star Trek TNG, Voyager, DS9
DATE: Wednesday, December 17, 2003
BETA READ: Merlin The Enchanter.
Starfleet Head Quarters
The large reception room was subtlety impressive. There were no grand architectural gestures or imposing flamboyance evident; there were however expanses of dark stone that looked to be granite. So highly polished that one could easily comb their hair into order in its glassy surface. The room itself was large enough for a few hundred people. Today, however, there was only a fraction of that number. The usual use for the room was the staging area before going into the main auditorium for whatever ceremony was being held. This was is use today, but where there were normally hundreds of ambassadors and large figures from Starfleet there were only a few people.
Some of those people were some of the bravest individuals ever seen in the Fleet. They were a testament to the federation, the best of the best and the top of the chain. They were the command crew of the Fleets finest ship. They were The Enterprise Officers that had saved the entire federation more than once, so many times in fact that they had no medals left to give them. Luckily for the medal designers it was not they who were the recipient on this day, he wasn't part of this group. A Captain, Councilor, Commander and Lieutenant Commander stood almost in a line. All stood at ease, hands rested comfortably at their backs. The captain smooth of scalp with a bright intelligent face was wealthy in experience. The Councilor, dark and exotic, empathic to others she was taking refuge behind her shields in the tensely expectant room. The Commander at her side was now clean-shaven were once he would have been bearded his bright blue eyes were currently full of humor at the discomfort at another. Not his normal humor but the one in discomfort was a friend, and friends were open season to the dashing officer. The final officer was standing ramrod straight, his positronic brain whirring with data and scenarios on the upcoming ceremony. He also knew a secret that would affect the recipient's future; he was looking forward to the look on his face when it was revealed.
The recipient wasn't part of a second group stood slightly away from the first either. These were also rare people, brave, true of heart and deed, defenders of humanity against a foe much worse than the Borg or the Dominion. These were humanities last defense against the Demons, the scourge of mankind in fact the curse against all humanoid life. They were two slayers, a watcher and an ex-Borg. The two slayers opposite ends of the human spectrum one was Jacinta Adophi Bali, blonde, beautiful, aggressive but still naive. The other Zandra Cove, dark, gorgeous, dangerous and worldly. The Watcher and the Borg very similar in looks but different in the way they fought. One, the watcher, with almost Nordic blonde hair was calm with hints of fire. The Ex-Borg, she was also blonde but more rich a texture than her companion, she was cool logic with the intellect of a thousand races crammed into her elegant profile.
The man of the hour as it were, was standing just in front of the others the groups arrayed either side of him. He was dark haired, good looking with intellect occasionally making an appearance behind his eyes. He was a champion, a champion of mind kind and the patron saint of slayers, as he called himself. He was charged with the protection and training of slayers who needed it. He took this duty very seriously, it was his life now and he had recently had to put that dedication to the test with an awful temptation at the devils hands. Not many knew why the black clad man was important, most who did didn't know the whole story, the man himself wasn't sure he understood. He was connected to the Slayers, those who protect their worlds against demonic kind. He had once saved a slayer's life with his own breath and captured, accidentally, a fraction of her essence. That essence did nothing for his strength, speed or endurance. It didn't give him a vampire early warning system. It simply allowed him to feel slayers, and for them to be drawn to him. Some would have used this 'power' to take advantage of the usually young women. Not this man though, he was different, one of the old breed. He was a man out of time and living in his future. That man was Xander Harris.
There was something else worthy of note in this beautiful room. It wasn't the expensive drapes from the high ceiling to the polished floor. It wasn't the giant door at their fronts. It wasn't even the gilt inlayed UFP and Starfleet logos set into that door. It was the guest of honors current position and the two people wither side. On his left was Captain Jean-Luc Picard, veteran of many combats; on the right was Seven Of Nine, favorite of the Borg Queen herself and one of the most intelligent humans alive. The two powerful individuals currently had a hand each on Xander's shoulder but it wasn't a companionable touch, the hold was too tight for that. No there grasps had another purpose than to calm the young man, they were not allowing him too attempt escape from his current predicament.
"Captain, please, I'm begging here" Xander said in desperation.
Picard smiled at his young friend and shook his smooth head, "No, I don't think so" he told the terrified young man crisply.
Xander's eyes flicked to the next in line, Command William Thomas Riker who was now beaming at him. "Commander, come on, I did help you out, remember don't make me do this"
"That's why we're doing this if you remember, it certainly wasn't your trip to Deep Space Nine" Riker told him, ice blue eyes crinkled at the corners and full of merriment.
Xander continued down the line, only needing to look at the attractive Betazoid. Troi held up her hands, "Don't look at me, I can't help you with this, but you can come and see me about this phobia you seem to have"
"Its not a phobia!" Xander almost snapped back, " I just don't see the point, come on Data ole buddy?" Xander said now at the end of the Enterprise line.
Data cocked his head to one side, humans used the body language to nonverbally indicate interest, and the Android did the same to better fit in with humanity. "I do not understand Xander, why is it you want saving. Is this not a good thing?" Data asked he was interested in accumulating more data on this strange and unique individual.
"No" Xander said categorically flat, "It isn't"
"Most would be honored to receive such an accolade" Data replied.
"Let them have it, I'll just go find someone then yeah?" Xander said hopefully.
Data turned to Picard who smiled and shook his head, Data turned back to Xander, "I am afraid not," he said causing Riker to chuckle slightly.
Xander scowled slightly and turned to the beautiful woman beside him, "Seven, please"
"I am sorry Xander, this is not something even Borg ingenuity can get you out of?" Seven told him with one of her radiant, gorgeous and rare smiles.
"Maria...." Xander said with a teasing tone.
Maria smiled at him and shook her head.
"Jac, me you the Sun, sea, Sangria"
"I don't think Gabriel would like that," Jacinta said with a laugh
"Zan, the best till last, you me cave diving at Mars, just a smile and a skimpy costume" Xander pleaded.
Zandra tapped her chin with her fingers and hummed and hawed for a moment causing Xander to actually hope for a minute, surely with the beautiful slayer would help him. "No" she said bluntly, "I hate those caves"
"I believe the expression is, you're on your own pal," Seven told him her luscious lips twisted into a smirk.
"I have no friends, you're all bastards" Xander said without any venom.
A loud click penetrated the reception room as the large floor to ceiling ebony doors started to swing open.
"I'll rub your feet," he said to Seven who smile but shook her head.
"Three-dimensional Chess tournament?"
"No" Seven said, "Shhh, someone is coming" she said at a much lower volume, as the usher appeared to take them through.
Xander turned to look at the approaching usher, who looked to be a commander in his own right with greying temples and a creased smiling face.
"Mr. Harris" the man said.
"Yeah, urh sorry, Yes, me I am, that is to say I am he"
The usher smiled slightly more, "Would you and your party like to follow me"
"No, sorry" Xander said eliciting a shocked look from the usher, "There's been a terrible mistake, you see some one else should have..."
Picard pulling him back slightly cut of Xander, "Mr. Harris and Party are ready" he enunciated perfectly.
"I see, if you would like to follow me," the commander said.
"Of Course" Picard told him, physically pushing Xander forward. He then virtually frog marched the reluctant man into the main hall.
Xander looked up, and up. The high roofed hall was even more impressive than the reception room, the granite seemed to glow with its brilliance and there was a large round table in the centre of the hall that could have been hewn out of the floor it was certainly of the same stone and was just as polished. At one end of it was someone Xander knew, Admiral Janeway, on her left was an Asian man wearing the colors and insignia of a Vice-Admiral and further on her left was a petite blonde haired woman wearing the a Fleet Admirals bar. They were dressed in dress uniform, as were all of the Starfleet personnel present and looking at Xander with stern expressions.
His friends fanned out on either side of him and into their chairs leaving Xander standing at the end of the table. Then with another click a section of the table fell away as did it's middle section allowing the Starfleet officers to corral him into the very centre of the room and just in front of the Admirals.
"Talk about being the centre of attention" Xander mumbled. Janeway's lips quivered slightly the only sign that she had heard him.
"Mr. Harris, Xander" Janeway began her eyes dancing, "I would like to introduce Vice-Admiral Tanaka, and Fleet Admiral Neychav. Normally in proceedings such as these there is a lot more pomp and ceremony. However, it was decided that you would prefer to forgo that particular ceremony."
Xander nodded gladly and smiled at Janeway. "Thanks, Admiral Janeway, and I am pleased to meet you all" he said politely to the others.
"We also are please to meet you, Mr. Harris" Admiral Neychav said in her usual prim and slightly stiff manner.
"Please call me Xander" Xander told her with a smile which disappeared as she turned a slightly frosty glare onto him.
"This ceremony is to award you Star Fleet Achievement medal," Neychav said crisply.
Xander frowned slightly, he wasn't sure what that was, or that he could even get it. It was his understanding that he was to be given, against his will, The Civilian Bravery Award.
Neychav smiled slightly as she noticed his confusion. "It has been decided that your acts whilst on the Enterprise are worthy of this distinction. There has also been some information that has come to light that excludes you from the Civilian Bravery Award."
Neychav paused glancing at everyone in the room. The Starfleet officers were all carefully blank as behooved a member of Starfleet. The civilians, however, were all wearing expressions of mixed curiosity and excitement. With the exception of Seven of Nine who was carefully watching Xander's reactions. Neychav herself turned to the dark haired young man to find him blushing somewhat and it could just be her imagination but she was sure that Riker and Picard were holding him in place. They were certainly standing close to him and not quite in the correct stance. Yes she was sure of it now; they were holding Xander by the elbows. It appeared this young man didn't like this sort of acknowledgement. What was it Janeway had told her that he'd said, oh yes; any one would've done it. She liked him already.
"This is because" she continued glancing at her fellow admirals, "To garner that award, you have to be a civilian." The room suddenly became very still and Neychav smiled thinly, "Which, Mr. Harris, you are not. You were granted a field commission of Ensign that has been ratified by Starfleet command."
There was some clapping from an over excited blonde girl who froze at her glare.
"However, despite my trust in Captain Picard I will personally be testing you" Neychav said shocking even her fellow admirals. "Once I have conducted these tests and I deem that you have passed, then I will grant the medal" she finished.
Janeway started to get to her feet but was halted at a look from her elder admiral who had a slightly amused look in her eye. Neychav wasn't an easy woman to like, she was tough and prickly but once you got past that there was a very humorous woman under it all. Janeway would never call her warm either, but she did look after her own, which was quite a few considering her status as a Fleet Admiral. So she subsided into her chair as Neychav signed an usher forward, "Please show Mr. Harris into the test room I have prepared, I will be there in a moment"
As a very worried looking Xander was led away by the usher there was an air of confusion and slight worry emanating from even the officers present. This was not how it was supposed to go. Xander was to be awarded the medal; they were due to take him for dinner and dancing that was all. Even the Starfleet officers had been invited to the party, but it looked like there was a different sort of ceremony altogether about to unroll. Data was slightly disappointed he had been looking forward to the part where they said they knew about the test.
The click of rapid steps indicated that Neychav had left and chaos struck.
Janeway held up her hand to still Xander's friends, "Please be quite, I'm sure that the testing will not take very long, your friend will soon be back amongst you, Captain" she made a beckoning motion with her finger to Picard who stepped from the ring of the table and met the Admiral off to the side. Admiral Tanaka stood and bowed to those present and with a hidden smile walked after his superior officer, he at least had an inkling of what was happening and he wanted to find out for sure.
Seven turned to Maria with a cocked eyebrow, Maria shrugged, "I don't know Starfleet Admirals can do what they like, and I suppose she's just exercising that right"
"I do not think Admiral Janeway would allow that"
"Admiral Janeway is a grade below her" Maria shot back.
"Will Xander be alright?" Jacinta asked worriedly.
"I'm sure he'll be fine, the test is a simple computer led question and answer session" Seven said her knowledge gained from the Borg, but accessed by a human worried about a friend.
The small colony on Caltair II was at best of no strategic value what so ever, unless you were a Gorn and since the new treaty had been reached there was no problems with them, no it was basically somewhere you went if you didn't want to be disturbed it was, basically the perfect place to disappear. Thousands had come here to do that, to get away from the rat race. The colony itself was hundreds of years old, the Gorn had heavily contested it at one time, but in a treaty with Starfleet it had been seeded with humans.
As Generations past the people had become stockier, stronger than their forefathers. The planets high gravity had slowly affected them. Now the people of New Cardiff tended to average 5 foot 5, some were not so lucky. The average build was that of a weight lifter, but that could either be the gravity or generations of hard work on the farmland.
There was one major town on the planet, most of the terrain was rocky or farmland. As such it was a huge city but tended towards a small town look. It even had a town hall rather than a city hall. There was no industrial equipment allowed in the town itself and as such it was almost pristinely clean. The walkways were just that, a way to walk from A to B. The very centre of the city was parkland where couples and families would go to picnic and single people would go to play. The atmosphere wasn't the nicest in the galaxy, but it wasn't the worst by far, it was after all Class M.
Near the centre of the city was a grouping of bars, clubs and restaurants. It was known as the Rivera because of the stream running through it to feed the Parks Lake. There were tables arrayed in the streets and currently hundreds of Caltair natives were settled into them.
In one of the darker bars, the less upper class of the ones in the area was a woman. At first your eye could slide past her without giving her too much notice, however if you were slightly more observant you'd be caught. Her hair was dark brown almost black, curled into a cap. Dark glasses were hiding a pair of luminous brown eyes. Her lips showed to rouge, as they were wont to do. Her body that was as toned and sleek as a feline was covered in a pair of baggy overalls. All of which was not conducive to beauty, but that didn't matter because Dympna Amara gave off an almost tangible aura of beauty.
She was not in uniform, as she wanted to draw no attention to herself, which when you're a beautiful as Dee was, was nigh on impossible, the cap was to shield her face and her long luminous hair tucked up into it. The dark glasses hid her eyes from the observer but not anything from her observation. She was playing down her beauty, despite some thing being impossible to hide. However she had achieved a measure of success and had only been hit on a few times on the flight over. For which she was eternally grateful. She wasn't sure why she was here it was hot and the air was heavy and due to her time away from the planet she felt heavy.
She was sat in a virtually empty bar looking up at the blue tinged sun balefully. She didn't know what she was doing here of all places. It wasn't as if her parents were still here, they were dead along with the rest of her family ever to walk the planet and possibly the universe for all she knew, or cared. It was one of the reasons she had embraced the federation and thus Section 31 so fully, a sense of family, to belong to something bigger than yourself. She had wanted that and she latched onto it with both hands and held it to her heart. She had loved the federation and she had been indoctrinated into Section 31 at an early age. Her beauty was, apparently, just what they were looking for. Of course back then she had tried to hide it in any way she could. She had ordered a size to large in her uniform, her hair was short and she wore no makeup even what was allowed by regulation. It didn't work very well and she had to constantly deal with her fellow crew hitting on her, the upper command crew were all too disciplined of course, for which she was grateful, but it hadn't stopped a couple of her immediate commanders suggesting that they could give her a leg up for a leg over. She had become quite jaded about it in the end, eventually she had taken one such commander up on his offer, to her surprise it turned out he was section agent who was checking for a certain moral stand point that they could make use of.
From there it was all history, she quickly found that she had a powerful effect on men that she could mould and use as a blunt instrument, or if she so wished she could fine tune it and sculpt with it like a laser. It was a talent that Section turned into a deadly weapon. She was given amazing amounts of training in close quarters combat and she knew at least a hundred ways of killing most of the species of the quadrant. She was famous in the section, by codename only, as having being the only agent EVER to co-opt a Vulcan. Well it hadn't been easy but all said and done Vulcan's are Romulans with a veneer of control over their red-hot emotion. Once she had found out how to remove that veneer and unleash the emotion underneath the poor man had been panting at her feet, she had got him to pass on some important information and left. She'd heard several months later that he self-destructed killing three human women and eventually was dropped by a security officer. It had been covered up pretty quickly of course, but then Section had ears and eyes everywhere.
She sighed deeply her eyes tracing the room with professional curiosity; her responses to any situation were now dictated by her training. She could not even go to the bathroom without eyeing it suspiciously and cataloguing the escape routes and available weapons. It was a strain on the human psyche to be so on guard for so long. It was one of the reasons she was here, even though she wasn't sure of any others. Caltair III, or New Cardiff as the locals knew it, was dead. Nothing of importance ever happened there, the perfect place for a tired agent to wind down before either trying to leave, or starting another mission.
Star Fleet Head Quarters
Xander sat with a myriad of computers arrayed around him, this was the test centre used to quiz students either before or after their academy days. It held a wealth of systems to test the individual almost to the point of destruction. Off to one side there was a doorway that led to a state of the art Holographic testing environment. Xander knew that because he had spent several hours in there. The same with the machines around him, he had spent several hours on them as well.
They were dark now however, six hours after entering the room and undergoing every test thrown at him Xander was sat staring bemusedly at the blank LCARS display. He was at a loss to understand it. He had performed this test before, or at least the first of the batch. He had wanted to test himself against the Starfleet entrance examination and had passed, just. It was the reason that Picard had given him his field commission, although Xander was unaware of that fact. He had promised data to secrecy, he had however phrased it incorrectly. He had sworn data to not say anything to the captain, who had already by that point been pushing to get him to enter the Academy. That had not been the correct thing to swear the Android to; he should have said tell no one. Unfortunately for him, Data had told Riker, who had then told Picard.
So it was in this way that Fleet Admiral Neychaev had found out, she had decided to test him again. For what reasons Xander couldn't understand, but he would, he hoped find out in all due course.
As that thought passed through his mind the door behind him swished open. Xander turned to find himself face to face with Neychaev herself. The door closed behind her and she reached out and tapped the control panel.
"Door Locked" the computer intoned.
"Mr. Harris" Neychaev started taking a seat herself and folding primly into it. Her eyes bored into his. "Has someone been coaching you?"
"Data gave me some lessons, Commander Data sorry"
"I see" Neychaev said thoughtfully.
"Is there a problem with the test?" Xander asked, he still didn't want the damn medal, but he didn't want to fail the test, a case of his pride getting the better of him.
Neychaev stared into him for a few moments her intense gaze was quite intimidating, but Xander was used to being around strong women, and Buffy in a bad mood was just as scary in his opinion. So he just returned her glare with a good-natured look.
"Mr. Harris; Xander; your test results were those of an academy graduate"
Xander pursed his lips, shocked, "I was in college until recently" he guessed.
"I do not think that even the University here in San Francisco can even pretend that it contends with Starfleet academy, besides there are things in the test that you could only have learned from the academy itself."
"I see" Xander said with a slight frown. "Oh" his face lifted, "I get it now, man he's joker"
Neychaev frowned at him, "What are you talking about"
Xander took a deep breath, "Has Captain Picard and Admiral Janeway mentioned that I am friends with a certain individual called Q"
"Yes, of course, it was in their report"
"Good, because this is almost certainly his fault. He wanted to give me a gift that would help. Then suddenly I can play the horn. I thought that was it, but apparently it wasn't" Xander said with a slight chuckle.
"What does you being able to play the Trumpet have to do with this"
"Commander Riker plays the horn, Dixieland jazz as a preference. So do I, suddenly. Q said he had a link with him due to Commander Riker's own experiences with him"
Neychaev leant back slightly in her chair her eyes unfocused as she took in the information cogitated on it and formed her plans and opinions based on her findings. This was certainly going to make things easier for her, and Xander himself after all. But Q was considered to be highly dangerous and possibly an enemy of the federation itself. But then...
"I see," she said finally, "Then this would explain the rank suggestion the computer decided on"
"Kindly address me as Admiral, Lieutenant Xander Harris (jg)" Neychaev said with a slight smile lighting her face up.
"I'm sorry, Admiral? What are you talking about?"
Neychaev smiled slightly more, a most impressive display of humor for her, "Well originally I planned on making you a full ensign, but considering your skills. I thought this more appropriate."
"What I'm still having a slight problem with is Admiral, I've said I cannot be in the fleet no matter my pass grade"
"Most would fight to be in the fleet"
"More power to them, Admiral Neychaev, I have responsibilities and duties elsewhere"
"We can help with those"
Neychaev graced him with a full smile, "That's a good question"
"I take it one, you're not going to answer"
"Let's just say Lieutenant Harris that we need your intelligence on Demons and this special connection that you have with the Slayers. With you on board we may actually stand a chance of meeting with the all, I understand you know a slayer when you see one?"
Xander nodded, "It's not hard, there're all drop dead gorgeous"
"I see, however on any given planet there are millions of attractive women are there not?"
Xander nodded again, "Yes, that is true admiral, but in most cases you could just ask the government. Its not like before you people actually notice what's going on. Back in my day the Government was too busy in fighting"
Neychaev once again, this time ironically, "I can assure you that, that pastime is not yet dead"
"Section 31" Xander guessed, "Giving you trouble are they"
Neychaev eyebrows raised a fraction, "That's quite a guess Lieutenant"
"Please stop calling me that, I can't be in Starfleet"
"Not even for your own protection"
"Especially for that, I'm not overly worried about me, it's my slayer's I care about"
"I see, but without you, who would your slayer's turn to"
Xander paused, that was a good question, "There are others in training, and they will be able to help them, just a little longer and I won't be needed at all."
"Starfleet needs you Mr. Harris, and we aren't taking no for an answer on this one. Please, join us we can help you to reach your slayer's and in return the information you have"
"Look, the info is already with you, Section 31 has it"
Neychaev blinked, "I'm sorry"
"Admiral Cove, to be specific has a copy of the Dictionnaire Infernal. It's a treatise of Demonology. I have others and you're welcome to them" Xander told her, "You don't need to bribe me"
"We are not bribing you. Can you tell me, are you able to tell a demonic attack from say an alien attack?"
"I'm not sure, probably yeah. Demons don't tend to use technology"
"There is a difference between knowledge and experience Xander, I am sure you know that" Xander nodded so she pressed on, "There is also the question of Q's involvement, and you are the only person ever to have faced the devil and come out alive, if I remember my scripture" Neychaev smiled thinly, "that's something rather useful"
Xander sat back one leg flung over the other, "Alright Admiral, but I have a few conditions, just to start with anyway, more may occur as it were" Xander said formally. He got it now, he knew why the fleet wanted him, Q and his power, of course they didn't know that much about the treaty or had chosen to ignore it, but Xander knew Q would not, not that one.
Neychaev raised an eyebrow, this was turning out to be much more difficult than she had imagined. The description with the young mans relationship with a virtually all powerful being unfortunately meant that he had her by the balls as it were. They may very well need someone with those sorts of connections. There was also his knowledge and experience, then there was his connection with the slayers and his ability to get them on side quickly. Starfleet needed this young man, at least for now, so she would have to accede to his requests for the time being. She narrowed her eyes at him and prepared to negotiate. She was totally taken by surprise by his demands however.
Seven paced, it wasn't a normal action for her but today she was forced into motion by the itching desire to go and find Xander and make sure he was safe and unhurt. There was something not quite right about all this; she felt it right down in the depths of her heart.
Janeway was sitting comfortably, her cheek resting on two fingers, elbow on the table and her legs propped up as well. She was watching Seven with a small hint of amazement, she had never known the Borg to be so unsettled as she was right at this very moment. IT was almost, unnatural. Xander Harris had a lot to answer for in her opinion but most of it was such a positive influence on the ex-Borg that Janeway was unable to ignore them. Seven was very much more human than she had been, she knew that in part it was due to the corrective surgery she had undergone. The rest seemed to have been Xander Harris. Janeway had a feeling that the young man was hopelessly in love with Seven, and Janeway was almost sure that Seven was, in fact, head over heels with him. The problem was Chakotay in a few ways. Firstly, he had badly hurt and shaken Seven, which was a surprise to Janeway considering what her elder double had told her. Then seven had tried to shut her emotions away from the world and protect her heart, so when Xander had 'made a move' she had clamped down on it. What concerned Janeway was, was seven over Chakotay, would she ever be able to move onto the brave young man that was Xander Harris. Seven was also still in love with Chakotay as well, Janeway was positive about that, and frankly Janeway wouldn't blame her, he was after all a attractive, charismatic and honorable man, so that was why Janeway was so puzzled by his actions. There was a slight proviso that Janeway had found out, or rather hadn't. Chakotay had gone on assignment, but what that assignment was not even Janeway could find out.
The soft click of the door attracted everyone's attention; Admiral Tanaka halted his step as the entire room turned to face him. He flashed them all a wide smile, "I had no idea I was so missed?" he said with a glint of humor.
Janeway twisted round dropping into a more official stance, "Admiral" she greeted him.
"Admiral" he smiled back, "I have come to tell you all that, Admiral Neychaev will be returning to us shortly and that I am to move you to a more secure location."
He said indicating the exit. The room shifted like a single beast and then its separate parts spilt off and filed out of the door.
Dee moved through her hotel room with care, the small device in her hand was a specially modified PADD. On it there was a gauge that went from green to red silently. It was performing a passive scan of the room as she walked around it. Her eyes were glued on that gauge almost waiting for it to flick to red. So far she had found nothing out of the ordinary. No listening devices, no modified nanoprobes, there was nothing to cause her any concern.
On her trip over to the planet she had backtracked almost continuously, zig-zagging across the parsec. She'd lost two tails the last on a very old space station halfway across the quadrant. So she was relatively sure that no one had followed her to her hopeful sanctuary away from Section. As she completed her tenth circuit of the room she was finally satisfied that nothing had been planted. There were of course some devices that were virtually impossible to track but she didn't think she warranted their use. Besides she would drive herself into paranoid insanity if she had to worry about those everywhere. There had to be a point in her mind that she just put it down and said, fine I'm safe for now. Which is what she did, by falling face first onto her bed and allowing the tears to start shaking her body for the first time in her life.
She cried for the deaths she had caused, she cried for the loss of her parents when she was a child, she cried for the people whose love she had tricked them into giving her. But most of all she cried for her lost innocence and wished to anyone listening that she'd never taken this career, that she'd never been so stupid in the first place. She also wished she hadn't had to look back onto a closing portal blocking her from the one person who had actually wanted her for who she was, the entire package. He had known she was a spy his mind had stayed clear. Her tricks had not worked on him, not entirely and she had to wonder if they were tricks that time. Someone had made love to her, that wasn't unusual, but she had found herself returning in kind and it had been the most shattering experience in her life.
Xander Harris, two small words that had changed the way she looked at her work. He wasn't an Ambassador; he wasn't an enemy of the federation or some sort of spy. He was just Xander Harris, all the time. As it had turned out he was more than she had suspected when she had found him staring out of a view-port. The worse thing was that she'd felt a pull towards him even then, before she knew who and what he was. Such importance placed on the shoulders of a young man. He may well be several hundred years old as the crow flew, but he'd only lived for twenty One of those, yet he'd seemed so old and alone looking down on the almost ruined planet of Bajor. She felt the loss in his heart, her natural instincts tending towards the predatory even whilst not on duty, she'd been drawn to that pain, he was a kindred spirit of suffering. So she'd approached him and they had talked. The pain had been shuffled behind a barrier and he'd set out to make her laugh, enjoy herself and his company and it had worked. But when she had been put onto him, as a mission, she'd been forced to continue to be herself, a dangerous thing for someone who wasn't entirely sure who she was any more.
Dee sniffed and turned onto her back looking up at the ceiling as if it held the answers to all of life's questions. Perhaps it did, but no one would have time to figure them out, because it disappeared and the sound of a roaring engine and a sudden reverberation kicked her out of her funk and into action.
The craft itself was sleek with strangely jutting edges like a Neolithic mans axe. It was as black as the night and for a moment it seem to hang in the air. Then a purple beam lanced out from underneath it down towards the Dee. She moved quickly leaping out of the door of her room as the beam stabbed down and drove a hole into through the building, the beam was still active as she crossed the lobby and ran out just as the attacking craft turned on the beam. A pulse streaked down the purple pillar of light and slammed into the large building.
She watched aghast, as the doorman made a run for the exit. She was forced into immobility as he touched the beam and was turned into a pillar of fire he then exploded showing the area in human debris. The building seemed to glow the same shade of purple as the beam for few moments before turning into a ball of fire that reached into the sky.
Dee was blown backwards across the street almost into another building with the concussive force of the blast. Her lungs burned as super heated air entered them and she choked up bile that burnt her more. However, Starfleet only accept the best, and they turn them into even better, that as well as her Section 31 training had turned Dee into a consummate professional. She forced herself to her feet and glanced around the area her mind cataloguing salient facts and assembling a plan.
First she needed to find cover, but those phasers seemed to be trying to limit her options as she watched another building almost evaporate into a fiery ball of rubble. Dee started moving towards the town square, she knew that every one would go towards the town hall, the single biggest and as such the best built building in the entire city. She just hoped that it would be able to cope with those phasers, but she didn't hold out too much hope for that.
She was more interested in getting to where the most people would be and trying to help as many as she could. A plan had begun to take form in her mind. She had grown up here and knew the area well. As a young child she had ventured all across the city searching out new and interesting places to explore, quite often finding herself in a heap of trouble for her efforts but often she was able to sate her thirst for exploration without punishment. One of her explorations had turned up a virtually hidden cave system on the outskirts of town. It traveled deep into the planet and she knew that it also had several entrances and exists. She hoped that if she were able to get herself and others down there they could wait out the attack, call for help and above all survive.
Star Fleet Head Quarters
Admiral Cove was in a foul temper, not only had it turned out that Xander Harris was still very much alive, but he was receiving some sort of award today and he knew, he just knew that Janeway was going to pull something to get Harris out of his reach. Not that it would work. The book that Commander Amara had purloined had been very useful to them and they now had a working knowledge of demons on which to build. But Cove wanted Xander close to him so he could make use of his brain later on. He knew that Harris was an important player in this new game; he just wasn't sure how he fitted in.
Then there was Commander Amara to consider. He would never have expected her to lie to him, but it appeared she had. Or that Harris was cleverer than he'd anticipated. That; was a disturbing thought. Either way the beautiful agent had reached the end of her shelf life and would have to be disposed of. Now all he had to do was to find her. Three weeks into her leave she had disappeared totally her tail dumped in a backwater station and none had seen hide or hair of her. He'd deal with that later, first he had to deal with Harris and Janeway's possible plans for him.
He hit his comms, "Admiral Cove to Admiral Janeway" he said sharply.
"Admiral Janeway is unavailable at this time" the female tones of the LCARS system told him.
Cove growled again, Janeway was starting to get on his nerves.
Starfleet Head Quarters
"You want me to do what?" Neychaev said in shock.
"Its simple really" Xander replied
"I'm not sure that I understand Lieutenant Harris, you want me to contact this council of watchers, who are to my knowledge nothing more than a society of librarians and ask for their help"
"Yeah, I now this is taking a lot on faith but once the watchers controlled the slayer, they had access to information that you want and you...."
"Have resources that they want, yes I see. Is this finally one of your criteria?" Neychaev asked with a smile, so far the young man had suggested, asked for and generally been able to convince her that she needed to do something, but he had not made any demands of her.
Just then her comm. badge chirped and she slapped it immediately, "Yes"
"Admiral, Caltair III has been attacked"
Neychaev frowned, why would anyone want to attack that backwater colony, "Very well, send the Prometheus. It's about time that Captain Zepicary left the system"
She was about to hit her comms when Xander very gently stopped her hand. He'd moved so quickly and had such an intent look on his face that for a crazy second Neychaev thought he meant to attacker her.
"I've got my first request" he said his voice was strangely rough full of pent up emotion. He could feel his guts twisting and he had no idea why.
"Now isn't the time, I have to go" Neychaev said standing as Xander removed his hand from her arm.
"I want to go with her"
"The Prometheus I want to go with her, I want in on this mission."
Neychaev paused then nodded, "Certainly but they're leaving now"
"I'm ready" Xander said hefting on his jacket.
Neychaev tilted her head at him, "Why?"
Xander imitated her unconsciously, "I'm not sure I just have a bad feeling about this attack"
"I see, then keep me informed you'll be going in blind"
Neychaev smiled thinly, "Admiral is fine Lieutenant, I take it, that it will indeed be Lieutenant?"
"For Now, Admiral, for now" Xander said with a charming smile that had absolutely no effect of the admiral.
"Then I will inform your friends. When you get back we'll do this properly, however" she fished in her tunic for a moment and came out with a black velvet box and tossed it to Xander, "Congratulations Lieutenant Harris. No one's received that award in ten years, all the time I've been an Admiral actually"
Xander smiled at her and pocketed the medal, "Thank you Admiral. Urh, don't believe in medals?" he asked her.
"Nor I, if your friends are alive, what does acknowledgement matter" Xander said.
Neychaev shot a surprised look at his back as she followed him out of the room, "I would have said it was important that you were alive, wouldn't you?"
"I'm three hundred years old, and I feel it, I don't want to die, but I'm not afraid of it either. My friends and my slayers are all that matters to me," Xander told her and sprinted off towards the nearest transport.
Neychaev frowned at his retreating form, "Oh dear" she said and then smiled, "What an interesting young man"
Maria glanced up from her conversation with Data and watched Neychaev come into the secure meeting room and take her place at the head of the table. The slender Admiral then laid her hands flat on the table and smiled at all those present.
"Lieutenant Harris, will not be joining us for this part of the meeting, but he has asked me to impart some information to you all and beg your forgiveness for his sudden retreat."
"Where's he gone?" Jacinta asked, slightly awed by the powerful woman almost directly opposite her, "Admiral" she added belatedly.
"Before I answer that question I must remind the non Starfleet among you that anything said in this room is covered under federation law and as such is considered sensitive information and as such must stay in this room" her laser eyed and level glare passed over each of the civilians pausing slightly at Zandra. Once she had completed the circuit and had received a nod from everyone she continued.
"Lieutenant Harris has been temporarily assigned to the USS Prometheus to assist in the protection or rescue of the civilian colonists of Caltair III, where they are currently under attack."
Janeway sat bolt upright, "Attack, who?"
"Unidentified craft, the reports coming in are sketchy at best," Neychaev told her.
Picard looked at the admirals, "Will the Prometheus require assistance"
"She won't, she and her captain are very capable Jean Luc. I have other plans for you and the Enterprise"
Picard nodded, knowing that he would learn more later on. Neychaev may be many things but she was a highly capable Admiral and a masterful tactician. There had been a time when he had not liked her very much but she had mellowed somewhat since then. She was firm and fair, that was something he could deal with, it was just when she was Firm and unfair as she had been that it had been hard to swallow.
Janeway caught Seven's eye, "See me afterwards" she mouthed almost invisibly to her. Seven nodded in the same way.
"Admiral, if I may ask, why do you keep calling Mr. Harris, Lieutenant?"
Neychaev turned to look at Data with a slight smile, "You're test was out of date, Lieutenant Harris has past any expectations, thanks to a little borrowed knowledge"
"The trumpet" Zandra said thoughtfully, and forgetting her place in the pecking order of the room, being an Admirals daughter had taught her many things about the fleet, but she had never learned when to stay quiet.
"Indeed Miss Cove, The Trumpet" Neychaev said smiling slightly, "It appears our favorite no corporeal being has given Mr. Harris some extra skills, borrowed from yourself Commander Riker"
Riker's mouth fell open, he was suddenly worried, his father had taught him many things that the academy would certainly have frowned upon and Riker had always been circumspect in their use. If Xander did have his skills and from the way people were talking about the trumpet it sounded as if he had them all. Well he just hoped that he would be somewhat circumspect as well.
Xander stepped out into a humid transporter room and smiled at the man in front of him, "Glad you heard me" he said.
Gabriel smiled back, "Well you were making enough noise"
"I figured that you would be monitoring all the channels. I need a favor and I think you'll be able to help"
"Anything, I owe you after all"
"Owe me, owe me what?"
Gabriel laughed, "Only my life" he replied with a wry grin.
"Huh?" Xander said honestly confused.
"My god, you don't even remember do you?"
"The vampire about to chow down on my neck, the sword throw? Ringing any bells here?" Gabriel said exasperated.
"Oh that, don't worry about it, I was just saving the vampire from Jacinta pulling its arms off and beating it to death with them, an act of compassion really" Xander said laughing.
Gabriel shot him a sour look, "Look what do you want"
"I've got to get to the Prometheus only she's set sail and I can't call them back because they're on a rescue mission can you catch up?"
Gabriel laughed, "Can I catch up, I ask you can I catch up" he laughed again, "Oh yeah"
"She's fast," Xander informed him
"Ah, but Judy is much faster" Gabriel replied, "Talking of which, Judy?"
"Yes Captain" a soft female voice replied.
"After the thief of fire if you please, she left a minute ago"
"Yes Captain" replied the voice.
Xander looked at Gabriel clearly confused, "Judy?"
Gabriel smiled, "Short for Judas class, when you get back I'll give you the tour" He walked to a wall panel and tapped it, "Jenkins get your hairy arse down here with my valise" he shouted into the panel.
The transporter room doors swished open and 'Jenkins' appeared. He appeared to be some form of human ape as far as Xander could tell. The ape dropped down a red case and backed out of the room with a grunt.
"Wow, what race is he a part of?"
Gabriel smirked, "Human actually, don't worry I won't tell him you weren't able to tell, no-one can" he leant down and opened the case, "What size shoe are you"
"Federation Standard Size 10 human, why?"
"Here try these"
Xander took of his boots and replaced them with the ones Gabriel gave him. "Ok, they fit, So... what's the sitch with these then?" Xander asked
"Ok, left foot, phaser not known to any transporter system I've come across, a similarly undetectable comms device in the other heel. Tap the fronts together for a plastic blade and, oh, there is a small capsule of sleeping draft in the toe of the right hand side" Gabriel frowned, "Or is it the left, well what ever, in the other is the antidote so try to get it right"
"Why?" Xander said finally.
"I was taught and have learnt from bitter experience that there is nothing that Section won't do to get someone they want"
Xander grimaced and then became very serious, "Look, I don't know you real well yet but for some reason I want to trust you, so look after my girls for me Gabriel"
Gabriel nodded, "I will" he promised gravely, "Two more thing's"
"OK, what's the other?"
"You said that"
"It bears repeating"
"Thanks Mulder, oh one other thing to you as well"
Gabriel cocked his head as he walked to the transporter controls and tapped in the co-ordinates, "Yes?"
"If you hurt Jacinta I'll kill you, friend or not" Xander said.
Gabriel nodded, "I'd rather kill myself before I hurt Jacinta" he said
"We have caught up with the Prometheus Captain" Judy told them.
"What!" Xander said in shock.
"I'm a pirate you think I wouldn't have a fast ship?" Gabriel asked with mock horror.
"Fine, just send me over I'll think of something later. Can they see you?"
"Nope" Gabriel said with a proud smile, "Not a chance"
"This should be interesting"
Captain 'Cap' Jake Zepicary was a man of nearly forty with still raven black hair and blue eyes that shone out of his face like twin sapphires. He was sat on his chair one leg cocked over the arm and sloughed down in the seat. His eyes were glued to the view screen his entire bearing that of a man bored out of his mind. It was however an erroneous impression.
Behind him was a formidably size Andorian called Treaze. To his left an attractive Asian woman called Olaria, although she was actually neither Asian or indeed human let alone female it was just the form she was most comfortable with. The seat on his right, the second officers seat was empty, they had flown without a full compliment.
The crew compliment wasn't even fully up to par yet, but when the fleet admiral told you to go you went. As it happened he'd been about to set out on a shakedown around the solar system. He'd been assigned to the Prometheus only a short time ago; the entire crew compliment had been changed on Admiral Janeway's orders. So it he wanted to get a feel for this unique ship and what she could do. At least the rescue mission would give him a very good idea of that, better than a shakedown that was for sure.
One could say that he was surprisingly confident considering that he was down on crew and didn't know the ship. He was however a veteran of many battles, some of which would never been recorded in any history books, as officially they hadn't existed.
'At least I was able to hold onto Treaze', Cap thought with a grim smile. The Andorian was the only crewmember that knew him. They had worked together many times and on a whole host of projects.
There was a slight tingling sensation in the air and suddenly where there had been a view screen there was a human male, or apparently so, standing in front of a view screen.
Treaze moved in a blur and was diving at the hapless human with his phaser out. To Cap's shock the human moved almost as fast as Treaze. He twisted out of the way his leg coming up and round at the same time and hammering down on the Andorian's head. It was a perfect move for an Andorian, as the antennas are their weak point and Treaze went down with a roar of pain. Then a lance of gold and red light leapt towards the man from Cap himself only to be avoided as well.
"Whoa" Xander said holding up his hands, "I come in peace" he was still dressed as he had been before dark suit, frock jacket, slacks and a set of boots.
"Who the hell are you?" Cap said twitching his phaser. Treaze got up off of the floor and retrieved his phaser covering the man from the side.
"I'm Lieutenant Harris reporting for duty, you kinda left without me" Xander said, "Sir," he added quickly.
"Just how did you get here Lieutenant Harris and why are you out of uniform?" Cap said laconically.
"I don't have a uniform and I caught a lift with the trade ship that you'll see just leaving your sensor range now" Xander said reciting what he and Gabriel had managed to come up with. There was a trade vehicle that would luckily be leaving the area just as Xander arrived.
"Why didn't you call ahead so we would be expecting you?" Olaria asked eyeing the young man carefully there was something familiar about him that she couldn't put her finger on.
"They were in a bit of a hurry you know what Ferengi are like"
"Impressive transporter range"
Xander shrugged, "Nothing to do with me, I can assure you however it was worth the three hundred bars of Gold Pressed Latinum I had to cough up, Sir"
"I'll have to check your claim Lieutenant, wait here," Cap said passing his phaser to Olaria who covered Xander as he walked quickly into his ready room.
Xander turned to the Andorian and smiled, "Sorry about the head, you made me jump"
Treaze growled at him his eyes flashing fire.
'Oh boy' Xander thought.
Cap returned looking a little annoyed, "Ok Lieutenant; Commander Olaria will show you to your quarters report to me in one hour for a full debrief."
Olaria stood fluidly and held out a directing hand towards the turbolift. Xander smiled charmingly at her but turned back to Treaze. "I really am sorry. But in the book of the three rings of Andor does say, never to jump at man holding a gun, you should shoot them with it instead"
Treaze's face registered shock for a moment and then smiled slightly nodding his still sore head.
She ran into the main square to find chaos reined. She grabbed a woman as she passed and held her firmly, "Do you want to live?" she said bluntly. The woman who was clutching a toddler to her chest nodded her eyes wide with fear. "Then follow me," she ordered. Then she moved on to an old man and grabbed him as repeated her demand.
She worked her way across the square gathering a brood of frightened colonists behind her like a mother duck.
"Where are you taking us?" a man demanded he was as stocky as any person born to Caltair III; big muscles just not very tall. Dee herself was something of an oddity to the short bulky natives. She was fairly tall for against the average and body was as lithe as a Panthers.
"There is an old Cave system that leads out from under the town"
"We'll be trapped" the man said belligerently. "I'm not letting you lead us into a rocky grave"
"Fine" Dee snapped, "Then stay the hell out here. I don't care, now anyone who wants to come file in behind me. We're going for the... Dear god" Dee cut herself off as the town hall was flambéed. She had watched twenty people piling into the building thinking that it would be able to withstand the onslaught. They had been fatally mistaken.
She suddenly found that she had quite the following as she made a run for it with the small deadly fighters firing around them obliterating homes that had been built anything up to two hundred years ago by the founders of the colony of New Cardiff.
She turned as a scream pierced the sounds of destruction around her to watch as a fighter caught on of her brood and the three people standing around her. They glowed purple.
"Duck!" Dee shouted diving to the ground as the ill-fated men and women blew into fiery chunks.
From the ground she turned her head to look into the dead eyes of a young girl. As Dee got to her feet she noticed that she had been impaled on a long shard of bone.
"Come on" Dee called hoarsely directing her troupe to hope and safety; a young boy walked up to her and grasped her hand.
"Will we be safe?" the little boy asked.
Dee looked down at him and mustered a smile, "Yeah" she said trying to put some belief into her voice. She was worried about the fighters. They were still pummelling the buildings, seemingly wanting to obliterate all signs of the township from the land. It was an angry attack brutal and efficient. She was worried that the fighters were only the first wave, that there would be foot soldiers next. If there was, the cave system could either be their salvation or their doom.
Xander was sat going over the mission profile and reading as much as he could about the crew he had been temporarily assigned to. Considering his skill with LCARS he was able to coax more than the usual service records out of the system and so far he was impressed. The captain in particular had a record that belied his rumpled appearance, with several long years working in a special ops environment. In fact the entire command structure was made up of unusual officers, most with some sort of special ops background. It was almost as if Janeway had made herself a strike force. Xander suspected that she'd done that with the coming threat in mind.
His screen suddenly flashed up, [Priority Communication From Starfleet] and he had about two seconds to clear the surprise off of his face before Janeway appeared in its place.
"Admiral" Xander said.
"Lieutenant; Xander, I've got Seven running a modified Borg cipher on this communication. I've got questions for you that I couldn't ask you before due to your rather abrupt disappearance."
"I see" Xander said.
"I'm sending you a data packet, now. I want you to take a look and tell me what you think."
Xander watched the data packet download and brought it up on another screen, he read for a moment and whistled, "Damn" he said with feeling, "I could be wrong and you'll need to talk to Geordie from the Enterprise, but these energy spikes look like the ones the Enterprise recorded during hand phaser fire from the Por'aan, just scaled up a lot."
"That's what we thought as well and Commander La Forge agrees with you. Now as you are one of the few people who have faced this race I want you to make a report of anything and everything you can remember about them and give it to me personally. I'll make contact with you tomorrow to that end. Now here's another one for you," Janeway said watching him intently as the information came up. His face registered shock.
"Fuck" he said with even more feeling than before, "I don't know Admiral, if you're asking have I seen anything like it then, no. Is it demonic, well it could be, it sure as hell looks it but then so do Klingon's to be honest. I can't be sure if it is or not. But the EM radiation from that it is conducive with Dimensional tears that you yourself have recorded and after all that is what a Hellmouth is. In short it looks like Lucy's gone and upped the stakes."
"Sorry Admiral, Q's pet name for the enemy"
"Yes but Lucy?"
Xander studied the Admiral carefully, "Its short for Lucifer"
Janeway took a quick breath; "This is all very hard to take in Xander, very hard indeed. I'm a scientist, I believe in data and statistics and the scientific method. The devil himself is making a move on the Federation? That's just a little far fetched."
Xander pursed his lips and hooded his eyes for a moment as he collected his response, "Put it this way Admiral, what if I told you that the one called Satan is in fact a fallen Q, one of the first of his kind who took on Demons, who are essentially a genus of beings, as his pet project. Would that make it easier"
"Yes, it would; it would also lend me to believe that you have not told me everything Lieutenant." Janeway said reproachfully.
"I have found this information out since our last discussion not to mention meet the subject in question. Not a nice guy I can tell you. Anything else I find out will of course be shared. I'm not holding out on you or the Federation Admiral I've just been very busy"
Janeway nodded, "I understand, Xander. Thank you for your help I'll make contact again tomorrow"
"Goodbye Admiral, say Hi to Seven for me" Xander said. Janeway smiled just as the picture died and was replaced with a black LCARS screen.
Xander turned back to the stats on the suspected demon that had almost eaten a star ship and studied it for second before letting out a whistle
"We're going to need a bigger stake"
The mouth of the cave was in sight inviting them into its relative safety. Dee waved her troupe into its embrace without a seconds thought. She turned towards the main part of the town to see the night sky lit up with orange from the numerous fires. No second's thoughts were available to her; she had to get into that safety and away from the town.
Dee suddenly felt her heart starting to race as she noticed three fighters break off the main assault and turn towards them. "Run" she screamed, "Run you bastards, run for your life" her voice hoarse she started to run her self the band of twenty survivors taking to their heels with her.
She saw a woman - The first to have joined her - stumble to the ground. Dee paused some base human emotion showing itself as she helped her and the woman's infant into the cave mouth.
They ran as fast as could into the cave and didn't stop until the entrance was a sliver of light.
Dee turned her back to a wall and slid down it in relief, just as it started to shake from the blasts.
Dee jumped to her feet; "Those Bastards" she raged as the walls shook once again and dust floated down form the ceiling, "Leave us alone" she screamed. Her troupe looked at her with fear, worry and hope in their eyes. They looked to her for guidance and that scared Dee beyond anything else about the hellish day. She'd come here to get away from it all for a while, think about her next move, relax even. She had not come here to lead a bunch of colonists around in the dark.
The walls heaved under a fresh onslaught and she aw several stray shots in the distance. The Entrance, they were shutting off the entrance.
The colonists and Dee watched with ice in their hearts as the entrance was systematically sealed. The coupe-de-grace was the rubble glowing and melting into slag. The attackers had systematically shut them into a hole in the ground to die.
"Oh God" she heard a man say. Then there was a riot of sound as the colonists all started to speak at once.
"We're going to die in here"
"It's so dark, I can't see"
"Oh please god"
That last one had almost made Dee laugh, but the sides of the cave seemed to be closing in on her. She'd never had a problem with enclosed spaces before, after even the largest ship was small compared to a planet. No she started to feel the weight of all these lives tumbling down on her and she really hated the feeling. To think, she had originally been on a command track career.
"Lady, Hey Lady" a voice called out, she recognized it as the belligerent man from before. At least he wasn't sounding like that any more, he sounded scared.
"Yes" Dee said tiredly.
"What do we do now?" he asked as someone triggered a torch. At least someone had brought one. Several more came to life around her and she found herself the center of attention in an entirely different way than she was used to.
"What do we do now?" the man asked.
Dee looked into his hopeful eyes and wanted to scratch them out. By taking action she had put herself I charge. 'Humans can be such sheep', she thought to herself bitterly.
Dee sighed and thought for a long moment, her memory was possibly playing tricks on her but she seemed to remember that there was another way out.
"You don't, I do, there's another way out, I'll find it and come back for you, for you all." Dee said snatching the nearest torch. She then reached into her boot and retrieved the cricket phaser and tossed it to the belligerent man, "Use this to warm some rocks and, if I'm not back in three hours..." she paused taking a deep breath, "...just wait longer" she spat and made her way into the darkness.
"Cap" the large Andorian Security chief called to his commanding officer.
"What is it Treaze?" Captain Jake Zepicary said swinging around in his chair where he had one leg carelessly hitched over an arm.
"Our new recruit just received a priority message from Starfleet"
"It was encrypted with a strong cipher, and one that I am not familiar with"
Coming from the Andorian security officer that was quite a feat, "Can we crack it?"
"I do not think so. There seems to be a random code key that would be virtually impossible to crack"
"Hmm, let's go and have a 'Chat' with our specialist shall we Treaze"
"Sounds like Fun Cap" the Andorian said with a feral smile.
"Captain" his number one halted his exit form the bridge.
"Is that wise sir, Lieutenant Harris has Omega black clearance?" Olaria asked she appeared to be an attractive Asian woman, but was in fact anything but.
"Possibly not Commander, but you'll learn that I'm not a wise man," 'Cap' Zepicary said with a grin as he joined his security chief in the turbolift.
Xander was sat with his feet up on the desk leaning back listening to some music, something that Riker would have approved of, a Dixieland compilation that was one of Riker's favorites.
The door chime went off and Xander's eyes snapped open and he lifted his feet from the desk turning to face the door, "Come" he called. The door recognized the command and swished open to reveal the rumbled form of Captain Zepicary and a very large and imposing Andorian whose file had listed his name as Treaze. Xander smiled and stood up.
"Captain, commander, come in" he said cheerfully holding out his hand to greet the two men.
"Thank you I will" Cap said stepping in past the doors sensor and allowing it to close as his security chief did the same.
"Computer, Lock this door, Authorization Treaze, Alpha One Zero" the big Andorian rumbled.
Xander's eyes narrowed and his stance loosened up. "Is there a problem here?"
"There is, I don't like snot nosed kids receiving transmissions on my ship without informing me" Cap said suddenly he wasn't so disheveled and laconic as he was before. Now he was standing up straight showing that he was a powerfully built man his bright blue eyes flashing dangerously as the Andorian pulled himself up to his full 6' 6" and glowered.
"I see Captain, and I understand your anger, however it was a secret communication for a reason"
"That being?" Zepicary said leaning forward slightly.
"That would be a secret Captain"
"Lieutenant..." Cap began
"No, don't try that on me Captain, you can't pull rank on me and win, not with this"
"How about we beat it out of you" Treaze said stepping forward.
"You could, although I don't see why you would want to" Xander said his arms swinging free at his side as he changed his stance slightly. The Andorian smiled noticing that the human was ready for an attack. "This is an Omega Black topic here gentlemen, I won't divulge it" Xander continued.
'Cap' Zepicary nodded, "Back off Treaze" he said and to his credit the blue skinned alien did so immediately. "That's a little different Lieutenant Harris, however, I am cleared to that level myself by Admiral Janeway herself"
"Then I'm sure, that you will understand the need for caution even between allies," Xander said trying to be diplomatic.
Jake Zepicary entire being suddenly changed as he flashed a wide smile, "Not bad kid"
Xander smiled slightly, feeling like he'd just passed some sort of test but not sure how or why. "I hope we can put this misunderstanding behind us captain, and from before. I'm very new to Starfleet, the protocols may be ingrained in my mind but they do not come easily to me"
Cap tilted his head, "What?" he said. "It takes anything up to five years to become a lieutenant. How long have you been in Starfleet?"
"Officially?" Xander asked and Jake nodded, "Since this morning"
Treaze chuckled slightly and let out a roar of laughter he was quickly joined by his captain, "Good one kid, now seriously"
Xander sighed, "I can see this may take a while," he said indicating his guests should sit down.
Dee made her way through the darkness feeling stupid. She felt like she had been walking around in circles but since she hadn't seen the group of survivors she knew she hadn't. What she really felt stupid about was not taking someone with her; she was feeling scared and lonely. She wasn't used to feeling lonely. She'd been scared plenty of times, missions had gone wrong even for her and they had usually been spectacular in their failure.
There was more than one occasion when she'd had to fight her way out of a situation and once or twice where she'd only got out by the skin of her teeth.
This was different somehow. The cave was pressing in on her she felt heavy and tired and there was no way to kill rock. She couldn't charm it with a smile and as far as she knew rock wasn't interested in sex.
The cave rumbled as if someone had just picked it up and shaken it like a child in a toy in a temper. Dee stumbled once, twice and suddenly the ground slipped from under her and she fell for what seemed like an eternity before hitting the ground with a crunch.
She yelled out in pain and then her world turned black.
She was sleek, flat with a sharp profile that screamed speed; she seemed to be traveling at high warp even as she hung motionless in the abyss. Unlike her brethren she was painted a muddy black so the eye seemed to slide over her in when compared the darkness of space. She was rare, one of a kind and about as unique as her builders could make her.
She was 'Judy', or more specifically she was the first and only Judas class designed to be a scout slash escort. She had been part of the Fleets abortive Warp 10 project. Aborted because of the data that had been received from USS Voyager. After that the project had been scrapped, no human was meant to travel that fast, not using warp anyway. She wasn't the fastest ship to come out of the project; there had been one that had very nearly cracked it. The ill-fated ship had unfortunately had some problems with the stabilizing controls and destructed. She was the only surviving member of that unique fleet. 100 meters from prow to stern and most of that engine she had room enough for 35 crewmembers. She currently had 16; her extra crew areas had been converted to take cargo.
She was simply put a beautiful ship, her lines pleasing to the eye, if one caught a glimpse of her. She was certainly the apple of her Captains eye, but then he had saved her from her fate. She had been squirreled away by Section 31. Gabriel Masters had been the one to steal her unique cloaking device and was one of the few people to know about her. So once Section had unleashed the psychopath onto him and his family, once the wounds had healed a little, she had been his first strike back. He'd gone to steal her from the secret shipyard. He'd been masterful in his acquisition of data his execution had been perfect, until the final hurdle. Judy was more than she seemed. Judy was AI, the most sophisticated that the fleet had ever invented, she was almost on a par with Doctor Soongs work, but somewhat more stable than Law could even be. She had emotion and a sense of right from wrong. So she hadn't wanted to be stolen and had trapped Gabriel. It was then that he'd started to talk to her. He had talked to her for four hours straight before she had even answered him, and when she had it had been a simple word, "Yes" she'd said and that had been the start of an interesting relationship.
She was hanging in orbit above earth itself, no sensor could track her and she had none of the tell tale signs of a Romulan cloak. In fact she didn't even have a cloak in the most literal sense of the word, she was sensor fooling, totally opaque to any federation sensor and several other races besides. When at rest as she was now, there was no emissions from her super powerful and state of the art engines.
She was simply not there as far as anyone was concerned, Of course if someone happened to look out of a view port and stared into space they may be able to see her, light was bent around her, but the field was not as sophisticated as a proper cloak. She could be seen, but then who looked out of a view port anymore, Viewer's used sensors and thus couldn't see her if they were about to hit her, not that she'd allow that situation to arise. She was invisible due to technology and the arrogance of those who used it. Of course, if someone were to see her and to raise the alarm, by some million to one chance that they would do such a thing, there wasn't a ship in the fleet that could compete with her Warp 9.999975 top speed. She and Gabriel had avoided capture so many times that even her fantastic mind couldn't keep track of them all.
As she adjusted her course to allow a satellite to miss her Judy came to life slightly and scanned the surrounding area. Her master and captain was currently down on the planet visiting with his new girlfriend. There had been a short while, around 0.00004 of a second that she had worried that he would leave their profession and work with the slayer. However, that had proved to be an ungrounded fear, and oh yes she was capable of fear. Judy was quite the emotional being thanks to a few upgrades and the theft of Data's emotion chip plans. She was also corporeal in a sense. The bridge of the USS Judas NX626539 was made for one and totally holographic. It could be reconfigured in a heartbeat to match any and all known races in the galaxy. It also allowed her to take form; she was able to interact with the crew in a way that no other ship had been to do to date.
However, she was currently not in any form other than racing electrons with parts of her mind in subspace moving faster than light. She gave a mental sigh and settled back to watch and wait.
USS Prometheus, In Orbit Above Caltair III
Captain Zepicary was sat back in his command chair with Treaze at his back and Olaria at his side. Xander was leaning on the wall behind Treaze, near the Turbolift, watching the images roll in from the planet.
"It appears to have been a very thorough attack pattern Captain" Treaze said his tone professional, "There is not a single structure left standing. The phaser band width is a little strange" Treaze said pausing as he looked at his data.
Xander peered round his shoulder reading the bandwidth data, there was a tell tale spike that Xander was quickly coming to know. "The Por'aan" he spat, "Damn them"
"The who?" Cap said spinning round in his seat even sitting as he was in his usual slouch; he somehow still managed to exude an air of command.
"The Por'aan, attacked and took the Enterprise" Xander filled in.
"The Enterprise?" Cap whistled, "I don't like these guys already. What happened?"
"The crew took back the ship" Xander said simple, thanking god that he had left the medallion in his quarters and wasn't wearing as per tradition. He didn't want to have to explain anything else to the Captain, or the huge Andorian. Not that it had been a bad conversation, but there was only so much he could tell them.
"Good, glad to hear it. So now you think they have attacked this colony?"
"I do, the phaser fire is the same as was recorded at the time"
"Well, let us go take a look see" Zepicary said standing up quickly and walking out to the turbo lift. Xander was beckoned at the last minute and he slid into the turbo lift with them. Once the doors closed Olaria gaze an annoyed huff of air.
Several sets of Transporter beams coalesced on the planets surface quickly depositing teams of rescue workers and their commanders. Xander beamed in with the captain himself and looked around with disgust and shock.
At a nod from their commander the Rescue teams set to work quickly arraying their equipment around them and setting up a logical search pattern.
As Xander looked around him he feared that their time would be wasted, the entire colony seemed to have been burnt to the ground. He could here the distinctive ping of cooling metal from all around him. There were groans of settling debris and the distinctive smell of death in the air.
Xander looked to his commanding officer to find him talking with one of the rescue team leaders and slunk off to look around. He pulled out a standard tricorder and programmed a quick and dirty patch to reach out as far as he could to find any sign of life. It was one of Kyle Riker's tricks that were already coming in so handy. It was easy to see why Riker himself was such a formidable commander and one that should have had his first command in record time, if not for finding someone he was happy to serve under. Xander admired Riker for all his faults and for his good points. Hell, he admired all of the command staff of the Enterprise. It was just that Riker was a compatible personality.
"Lieutenant Harris" Zepicary shouted.
Xander turned around, "Yes Captain"
"I want you to skim the outside of the town with me a, security team and rescue unit, this all seems too..."
"Neat" Xander agreed.
Several hours later they approached the very outskirts of the city to the north and Xander's modified program started to chirrup at him.
Cap turned to him with an inquisitive look on his face. "Life signs sir, 1 click to the northwest" Xander said curtly his eyes fastened onto the display, "I can't give you numbers there's something interfering with the signal"
Cap turned to one of the rescue unit with a quirky expression on his face, "Why didn't you pick that up?" he asked looking at the silent Tricorder.
"Here" Xander said walking over to the man, his fingers flew in a blur for a moment prompting a surprised look from the Captain and then a display of the area showed up with a definite red blip. "There" Xander said
"When I ask you later how you did that, are you going to tell me?" Cap asked with a smile.
"No Sir!" Xander answered with a grin.
"Good, glad to hear it, but do tell the chief"
"Yes, Sir!" Xander said crisply.
"Lets roll" Jake Zepicary said with a laconic expression on his face. Luckily his crew already knew him better than to take his laconic nature as lack of urgency.
They set off at a jog and arrived just a few short minutes later to find the melted cave entrance.
"There're in there," Xander said with an assured tone.
Cap nodded, "Security team forward" he barked and the yellow jerseys stepped into a line and dropped their compression phaser rifles down into aim.
Xander didn't have a rifle he merely pointed his tricorder at the rock formation, "Setting 12 should do it gentlemen" he said his voice tight.
Cap nodded "I don't like the color, change it," he ordered bringing his own rifle to bear and firing.
The rock glowed under the onslaught for a full minute before it disappeared atomized into nothing. The cave opened out into a fairly wide corridor.
"Oh, great another cave" Xander muttered, "Thirty meters down" he told his Captain succinctly.
They made their way cautiously into the cave to find a group of twenty people huddled together blinking into the light, "It's alright, we're Starfleet" Captain Zepicary said to the obviously frightened people, this was a good bit of his job, and one that he'd not had in a very long time. He smiled as the team was mobbed with thanks from the survivors.
Just then the ground started to shake. Causing them all to stumble at the same time Cap's comm. badge came to life. He slapped it whilst ordering everyone out of the cave.
"Captain" came the voice of Commander Olaria, "A ship has appeared and is firing down onto the planet"
"Well, fire at it then!" Cap spat back and started to push the others out of the cave.
Xander grabbed a stocky colonist by the arm and hauled him to his feet. Something dropped out of his hand and fell at Xander's feet. Xander quickly bent and picked it up. Then he grabbed onto the man's arm again, "Where'd you get this?" he asked sharply.
The mans face registered shock, "Oh, god there was a woman, she disappeared we thought she ran away"
"Dark hair, more gorgeous than a Twinkie?"
"Huh?" the man said but nodded, he got the gorgeous part of the comment, "Yeah dark hair went that way"
"Right" Xander looking to his captain, "Captain, there's another one down in the cave, I'm going in"
"No, we don't have time, this cave is being bombarded from space"
Xander paused for a moment, enough time for the Captain to become angry.
"That was an order Lieutenant," he snapped
Xander shook his head, "Sorry Captain, I can't do that," he said
Cap narrowed his eyes and brought up his rifle, "I said that's an order" he said as the cave shook again and covered them both in dust.
Xander backed away slowly then smiled, "I can't" he said and brought up the Type I hand Phaser and showed it to the Captain. Jake Zepicary's eyes widened and he nodded lowering his rifle, "I think I understand, in 5 minutes we're leaving orbit with or without you"
"Call me Cap, everyone else does, but I'm not kidding"
"I know Cap, but I owe it to her"
Cap nodded, "Good, if we get out of this alive I want a talk with you" he said with a steady glare even as the cave shook around him.
Xander smiled turned and ran into the depths of the cave. Cap took a breath fearing that he might never see that young man again and roared at his team to roll out. As he left the cave he saw it give a final shake and collapse. Then suddenly the purple phaser fire stopped and his comm. badge came to life again.
"Captain, the craft is now firing on us," Olaria said over the comms, "Returning fire with little effect"
"Have the rescue teams been picked up?"
"Then in five minutes precisely I want you to bring her in low over us drop and pluck, got it"
"Yes Cap" Olaria said.
Cap smiled, that was possibly the first time he'd got her to call him that, "...tain" she finished belatedly.
Cap growled slightly and turned back to the cave and waited patiently, the five minutes ticked by with alarming speed and as the view shifted he started to swear in ten different languages.
The transporter chief stepped back in fear from the normally laid back mans tirade, "Damn It" Cap finished and pushed in beside the Transporter chief and worked the controls looking at the life signs information intently. Then he thought he caught a glimpse of something and triggered the reaction.
A split second later a large amount of rock was transported in with what looked to be the most demonic alien Cap had ever seen.
Xander ran down the cave his wrist light illuminating the way with its super bright light. So bright was the light that he was quite happy to be running as fast he was and not worry about tripping up. Then he did.
He landed on his back with an "ompff" and looked up into a pair of purple eyes.
"Oh shit" Xander said as he dived sideways just as the alien attacked.
"Human" the Por'aan warrior said pointing a weapon at Xander who dived out of the way just as the beam lanced out at him. As he rolled around he picked up a rock and threw it at the aliens head as hard as he could catching it in a glancing blow to the temple.
The Por'aan let out a pained bellow and backed up slightly, dropping his weapon. That allowed Xander breathing room and he stood and reached for his own hand phaser to find it missing. Just then the alien charged him trying to skewer Xander on its horns. Xander jumped sideways at the last moment taking a glancing blow to the ribs that winded him. He kicked out with all his force and sent the enraged alien reeling off to one side. Then Xander felt at his belt for the Type I. He drew it and aimed in a single fluid motion fired a spear of gold and red light into the Por'aan's chest, creating a large hole there.
Then the tingle of a transporter started up and Xander backed away quickly. The slain Alien and most of the surrounding rock disappeared causing the wall to give way. Xander dived off to one side just as the roof became the floor.
Cap walked over to the creature bringing his rifle to bear only to find that it had a large hole where it's chest used to be. "Doctor!" he called out.
The EMH appeared his blonde hair mussed, "What is it, I have a dozen injured people in my sickbay"
"Doctor, kindly take this and bag it up I want it preserved for Starfleet's scientists" Cap snapped. Whether the EMH had saved this particular ship or not, he didn't see why he had to be saddled with it and not a nice normal and above all REAL doctor.
"Do it, god damn it" Cap said uncharacteristically sharp in the face of his perceived failure. He turned away from the flustered hologram and started towards the door, "Damn it Janeway's going to have my hide. 'Look after him, Captain, he's important to the Federation, Captain'" He mimicked disparagingly, "First time out and I lose him!" he muttered as he left the transporter room a foul mood worn around him like a cape. Caltair III
Xander coughed his chest in spasms from the amount of dust he had inhaled. He turned over and got to hands and knees shaking his head to clear it. There was a gash on his temple to go with the one on his ribs. Luckily the dust had congealed the blood and it was no longer running down his face. But there was a scarlet and brown flash of color down the entire left half of his face.
He gave himself a few minutes and pushed himself upwards onto just his knees then with a last push he was back on his feet and moving down the dark cave corridor at a fair clip. He was being driven by a fear, after finding the phaser he'd learned to listen to his instinct and now he was moving with the flow of his adrenaline.
His feet pounded down one in front of the other. He concentrated on their rhythm-driving forward step by step. Occasionally his eyes glazed slightly and the corners of his vision swum, but he pressed onwards.
Then he came across what looked to be a rockslide. He paused leaning against the wall catching his breath. He hated this planet he felt to heavy as if he had run a marathon instead of just a few hundred meters. He looked over the rockslide and his breath caught.
"How are we doing" Cap said as he reached the bridge.
"Shields holding but our phasers seem to have little effect"
Cap snarled at the screen causing his first officer to look at him in surprise. "I really don't like them" he spat.
Treaze the Andorian started to smile. Of all the crew he was the only one who had worked with Cap before. He had seen the man in action and knew that his rumpled visage and laconic behavior belied a warrior's heart and a sharp brain. He knew what was coming next.
"Go to Multi-Vector assault mode"
Olaria breathed in deeply, "Alright you heard the captain, jump to it"
The bridge crew split in three all rushing to various stations both in that primary section and the other sections of the ship. It took one minute for them to get into position.
"Computer, Engage Multi-Vector Attack mode in T-minus Three, Two, One, Engage" Cap called out crisply. Then the ship seemed to shudder slightly and a low rumble was felt in every deck as the docking clamps shifting out of their homes and folding away into the ship. The sharp arrowhead of the ship lifted. The bottom Nacelle section slipped away as the middle stayed in place. Then the computer linked the three sections and set them into motion. The crew sat their stations smiled nervously, most had an idea of just how deadly their ship could be but none had seen it in action real time, only in simulations.
"I want them," Cap snarled, "Engage the enemy on my mark use Assault vector 3-9 'er"
The computer chirped, "Acknowledged"
Then the Por'aan vessel was suddenly being taking from three different directions at the same time by the same ship. The computer coupled and synchronized the phaser fire from the segments to multiply the force.
"I want a Quantum Torpedo spread from all segments on grid mark Three Two Four" Cap said his voice now sharp as a knife, "Mark" the spread lit up the eternal night of space as three sets of three of the most powerful explosive known to the Federation lit up the Por'aan warship like a Christmas Tree. It listed in space still ineffectually stabbing out with its purple phasers. "Again!" Jake Zepicary said his voice deceptively soft now. His eyes were boring into the hull of the attacker. The screen flashed as the torpedoes hit the mark going through the weakened shields without pause and slamming into the hull and through into the engineering section. The ship was torn apart like tissue paper.
"End Multi-Vector Assault mode" Cap said, "That will teach them for attacking a Federation Colony"
Olaria cleared her throat Cap turned to her once more laconic, "Yes?" he asked slumping into his chair and cocking his leg over the arm.
"Caltair III was not officially a member of the Federation, they declared independence a hundred years ago, they were a trade partner" she informed him with a slight smile.
Cap shrugged, "Oh well, then they just looked at me funny"
Treaze sounded like he was choking as he tried to cover a laugh with a cough.
She felt a wonderful coolness on her forehead. That was the first sensation she felt, then she noticed that the coolness was also damp. Without opening her eyes she arched her back slightly and captured some of the liquid on her lips. The dust had given her a powerful thirst.
"Whoa there, steady there Dee, not too much" came a male voice.
'They know my name' Dee thought to herself, then she turned her attention on opening her eyes.
Xander watched Dee's eyes flicker open and shut, then open again her pupils snapping in to focus. He smiled won into her luminous eyes, "Hey Dee" he said
Her pupils dilated slightly registering shock, "You... You're dead" she said her voice raw.
Xander patted himself down, "Nope, not yet"
Dee smiled, "Knew you'd find a way out" she said with a soft smile.
"Well, I had to, you'd get into trouble without me to watch your back, and you know how I love to watch that back" Xander smirked at her cracking the dried blood on his cheek.
"You look like hell," Dee told him sitting up and wincing.
"You too" he told her taking in the cut at her hairline. Her cap had been knocked off and the braid of her hair had unraveled slightly giving her a disheveled look that did nothing to detract from her beauty.
"That's not something you say to a woman," Dee said sitting up fully wincing again.
"You know you're still as gorgeous as ever my darling Dee, now come on lets get the hell out of here" Xander said holding out his hand.
Dee used it to pull herself to her feet and she smiled at him. Then folded over unconscious, Xander ducked under her and let her drop onto his shoulder. Then he stood. Gritting his teeth he started to make his way up the rockslide. USS Prometheus
Janeway nodded, "I understand Captain I doubt you could have stopped him anyway"
Cap nodded, he was sat in his ready room, which was something he only ever did for private conversations, "Admiral?"
"Yes Captain?" Janeway asked.
"What agency did Lieutenant Harris work for?"
"I'm not sure I understand the question"
"When I let him go, he flashed me a cricket phaser, you know the type. Then he said he owed her and ran off. Only special agencies within the federation use those babies, I should know" Cap said "There was an agent of some sort down there, I don't know how or why and I'm not worried. I understand the need for secrecy. I was just curious about Lieutenant Harris. If he felt he had to save that agent then he must owe them something ergo he has had involvement with the more interesting aspects of Starfleet"
Janeway spared him a grim smile, "Section 31 was interested in him for sometime, but Lieutenant Harris is under mine and Admiral Neychaev's personal command."
"When you say interested?"
"They weren't looking to give him a job," Janeway stated flatly.
Cap clicked his fingers; "He said he owed it to HER"
Janeway's face cleared, "I see" she said her voice tight and devoid of emotion.
Cap laughed, "Oh I get it, they sent one of them did they?" then he frowned, "But then, why was he willing to get shot in order to go after her?"
"Your dislike of Section not withstanding Captain, why are you so interested"
Cap looked uncomfortable, "My gut is telling me he's not dead Admiral"
Janeway nodded, "Yet you saw the cave in yourself"
"I did" Cap agreed "But caves can be big things"
Janeway nodded then she looked off screen and then nodded again, "I see"
Cap frowned; apparently there was someone else in the room with the Admiral. He was using Omega black protocols, so that someone was very high up. The screen went black and then flicked back to life a moment latter.
Janeway's entire posture had changed, where there had been a slightly depressed woman was once again the powerful and vibrant Admiral he'd met on terra a month ago before taking command of this ship.
"What is it Admiral" Cap said leaning forward slightly.
"Get out of there. There's something on its way you don't want to be near" Janeway said, "Consider it an order. We'll have to worry about Lieutenant Harris later"
"Aye, sir" Cap said as the screen flicked black he stood with a heavy heart. It was always hard leaving a man behind, and even though he had seen the cave fall into itself he just knew that Lieutenant Harris was still alive and kicking.
CHAPTER 09 Caltair III
He'd thought he'd been heavy before, but now Xander knew the definition of pain. His lungs were on fire, his legs felt like lead his back was screaming at him to stop an his heart was trying to leap out of his chest. But Xander ignored them all, steadily he pushed one foot in front of the other over and over again, and again, one more till the other foot has a go, then the other and again.
His climb up the rock face had been a Herculean effort but that was only the start of the journey. He had to find a way out of this cave system and he had no idea where he was going. He'd slapped his comm. every twenty steps but either it wasn't working or, Cap had made good on his promise. Xander found it hard to believe, but he had to accept that Cap had left. Something told Xander that he'd had to, what he knew of the man from his personal opinion and the mans record he would not leave a man behind unless he had no choice.
So something had removed the choice, which meant that Xander had to be careful. So he stopped worrying his communicator and concentrated on getting himself and his precious cargo out of the cave alive.
Step, step and step again, onwards pushing forwards, one foot then the other towards his goal.
On the surface of the planet Marshall Boyd was stood listening to the quick chatter from the Captain of the assault team. Their vessel had been destroyed in orbit and another had been ordered. That was fine with Marshall; he was more interested in meeting the special someone a little birdie had told him was coming.
Once the colony had been wiped out and Starfleet had been scared off he had the planet, just where he wanted it. He'd planned this attack with that goal in mind; he also wanted to send a message. He thought the annihilation of an entire colony sent a rather poetic message. He was coming for them
Marshall wasn't the small-minded fool that most vampires were. The spirit within him had known that, thus its choice. Marshall had plans, big plans, and how could they go wrong with the master himself looking after him.
He turned to his companion and shot her a smile, "Hello babe"
"Is Xander coming to our party" Carmel asked her voice far away and sing song.
"I wish" Marshall snarled, "I'd love him to meet our guest of honor"
There it was, a flicker a feeling on his face, warmth and a breeze. Xander looked up and saw the holy brilliance of the Caltair Sun peeking though a fissure in the rock. He gently placed Dee on to the rocky ground and rolled his shoulders freeing them up.
He inspected the fissure closely looking out of it. He could make out a forest, or at least trees, there appeared to be about a foot of rock between him and his goal. The fissure itself was a mere inch thick to small to get through. He had to make it wider.
His exhausted brain cast about picking up one idea, discarding it and rustling through a host of others until his hand brushed the tricorder still clasped to his hip. Then an idea took form. Smiling feraly Xander set to work.
First he pulled out the cricket phaser and tapped away at the controls for a moment eliciting many pops and hisses. He grabbed his communicator ripped off the back cover and initiated the computer. He quickly tapped in a series of commands and stuff the phaser and communicator into the fissure as far in as he could manage. Then he flipped open the tricorder and set to work. He brought up the communications sub system and started to tweak the system code. His talent with LCARS and the information and training from Riker's mind allowed him to combine talents and create a small detonator and explosive device. Then he flipped the Tricorder closed and lifted Dee back onto his shoulder. Then he moved down the tunnel for several feet.
Xander leaned Dee against the wall holding her up with his body and flipped open his Tricorder. Then he initiated his program.
Nothing happened for a full thirty seconds as the charge built in the tiny phaser. Then as the tone built as million of cycles of recharge built in the main capacitor. As the pitch reached into a high octave Xander suddenly hugged Dee against the wall covering her with the length of his body.
There was a sudden cessation of noise and a bright gold flash. Then a bomb seemed to crack through into Xander's mind and pieces of broken rock tumbled around him.
Xander waited a moment before hooking Dee back onto his shoulders wincing under the weight. He picked his way across the broken rock and found his little device had blown the inch wide fissure into a three-foot wide one.
He smiled and set off into the sunlight right into his worst nightmare, vampires in full sunlight and not going poof.
Carmel gave a suddenly bright smile, "Xander!" the explosion had caused them all to swing round and face in Xander's direction.
Marshall frowned then he also gave a nice big smile. "Well, Well, if it isn't lover boy"
"Oh shit" Xander said vehemently. Just as several sets of strong hands grabbed him he stamped his foot down as hard as he could.
Bay Towers, San Francisco
Gabriel felt a sudden buzzing in his pocket and looked down at it. A painful mistake as Zandra stepped in and thumped him soundly across the jaw. He dropped to the deck and held his hand up to his jaw rubbing it slightly. With the other hand he pulled out his comms, "Yeah" he said painfully.
"We just got a signal from your friend, it's the emergency one" a female voice said over the comms unit.
Jacinta who'd been about to lay into her sister slayer for hurting her boyfriend suddenly frowned at him. "Who was that?" she asked sweetly
"Judy" Gabriel said with a shrug, as if to say it was obvious, "Where's the beacon showing?"
"Caltair III" came the voice again.
Gabriel's jaw set even as the bruise started to form, "Pick me up, we're going on a trip"
"Who's Judy" Jacinta demanded as Gabriel's body was picked apart on the quantum level pulled from across a parsec of space and reformed into his humid transporter room. "Set course for Caltair III" he shouted into the ceiling. "Maximum Warp"
He walked quickly through the dark corridors of his state of the art ship making his way to the bridge. He walked in and sat down in his chair his face set into the hard lines of Blackheart.
"Sir" the ships AI replied
"Get your Ass moving"
The ship reformed around him, his crew of sixteen all took their places in their various battle stations as he sat, alone, in the bridge. Judy was a very special ship.
The long sleek lines twisted slightly as her sensor foiling shields reformed for maximum efficacy at maximum warp. Then the long neck of the ship leaned forward straining against its leash then flattened out as nacelles stretched further outwards twisting up at the last moment. Then she went from full stop to maximum warp in a flash of light.
"Warp 9.999975" Judy announced
"Good girl" Gabriel said patting the arm of his chair affectionately.
"Jenkins" he called out knowing that Judy would pipe him through to the unusual human.
"Sir" the voice of Jenkins replied it was a strangely soft speaking voice for a man who was the most brutal fighter in the quadrant.
"Could you send a communication to Seven Of Nine for me, using one of your little toys?"
"I'll record the clip and send it down when you're ready"
Gabriel smirked, he wasn't sure the hairy man had any idea how pirate-like he sounded at times but it was in fitting with the image. Caltair III
Xander found that he was tied hand and foot to the still unconscious Dee in the middle of a large clearing. He couldn't understand it, why hadn't Marshall killed him, he'd made some comment about wishing he were dead but he was surprised that the master vampire himself had not killed him. Carmel had to be restrained when she noticed Dee on his back she'd flown into a jealous rage the like of which had not been seen in centuries Xander was sure. But Marshall had whispered in her eye and she'd stopped struggling suddenly and smiled.
Xander wasn't sure which he was most worried about, Marshall's whisper or that smile.
The wind suddenly picked up causing the trees to whip around him and Dee's braid to whip around and smack him in the face. It also roused the unconscious woman who opened her eyes blearily.
"Why aren't we in the cave anymore" Dee asked as she took stock of the situation, "And honey, you should've said before you like bondage"
"Hey Dee, you're awake then" Xander said smiling despite the strange situation he found himself in.
"Well If I am dreaming it's the strangest one I've ever had" she said, "At least your better looking than the last dream guy I had" she quipped but there was a darkness in her voice that Xander hated to hear there. "Getting a bit windy isn't it" she finished
"Yep" Xander agreed as the wind started to howl around them, it suddenly became dark causing Xander to look up. "Oh fuck," he said fluently.
Dee looked up as well and a scream was forced out of her, "What the hell is that?" she asked having gained control of herself quickly.
"We think it's a demon, but we're not sure"
"Admiral Janeway and I" Xander said trying to control his breathing and coming off sounding calm and collected.
"Janeway, should I be jealous" Dee said with a chuckle, the huge beast currently coming towards them too surreal to contemplate.
"No one holds a candle to you Dee my darling" Xander replied thinking, 'Come on Gabriel, be as good as I think you are'
"Coming up on the Planet now, there is something I believe you should see"
"Show it to me, then"
The view screen appeared in the air projected there using holographic technology. Gabriel stared at it and he felt his jaw going slack, "Tell me this is one of your jokes Judy"
"Oh boy, look at the size of that thing. When Xander get in trouble he does it with style I'll give him that"
"What is your wish Captain?"
Gabriel took a breath and held it thinking quickly. Caltair III
The gargantuan beast touched down in front of Marshall so softly that only a few Por'aan guards fell over. It folded its wings around itself blowing over a command tent or two and lowered its huge head until it was level with Marshall's face.
Marshall smiled at it proudly but even he felt a little fear in the presence of such a mammoth demon such as the space faring Z'a'r'th'a'aot'h. This particular demon was over three thousand years old when mans started to clamber out of their caves. Now it was very much older and wiser. It had been trapped in a demon dimension for eons and it wasn't happy. It had wanted to stretch its wings and fly for so long that it had almost forgotten the feeling of the thin air of space under them. It could fly at almost Warp one by using solar flares to sail then with a little application of demonic magic a proto Warp bubble was formed sending it into Cochranian space and up to the speed of light. That feeling was one of the reasons it still lived. It wanted to once again reach the speed of light and the rush of speed. The other was to rip entire planets to pieces to devour the super heated ball inside of them.
"Z'a'r'th'a'aot'h, welcome to Caltair III, it is a gift to you from the master, we have cleared the lesser beings from it for you"
The Z'a'r'th'a'aot'h tilted its head slightly and back again, and then Marshall felt a roar at the back of his mind that caused him to stagger, "We Thank You Master Vampire. What is it you wish of us in return for such generosity"
Marshall forced himself back to his feet, "We wish you to disrupt the space lanes of the humans, destroy their craft put the fear of the master into them, and so they will think twice about venturing into space again"
There was a pause and Marshall who was ready for it this time wasn't quite driven to the floor, "It will be done; in the Masters name"
Marshall nodded putting his hand to his ear and finding that it came away red with blood. "Bet he has a great singing voice"
Carmel jumped up and down then dashed forward before anyone could stop her. As she reached the giants beak she reached out and stroked it lovingly. The mammoth creature froze. The touch should have been so infinitesimal to it that it should never have noticed let alone feel her caress. It lifted its head and focused on the red clad vampire then it sent out a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that had Carmel clapping her hands in joy.
"Who's the broad" Dee asked they had watched the entire episode with silent awe.
Dee turned her head slightly, "Sounds like you know her, old flame?"
"I think it was too brief to be considered a flame, more like a" Xander laughed, "light shower"
Dee smirked, "She seems kinda..."
"Crazy? Yeah well, she didn't turn properly and it drove her mad"
"See the big guy, bald. That's Marshal her boyfriend, a vampire and a master one to boot. He snatched her and turned her, which is to make her into a vampire. I don't know how or why but she didn't come through it correctly and now she's made. Has a bit of a thing for me as well"
Dee chuckled, "OK, so why is she pointing over here?" she asked as Carmel was indeed directing the Z'a'r'th'a'aot'h demon towards them.
"I think she's jealous of you" Xander said.
"I hate having to deal with ex girlfriends," Dee said with feeling, "Especially ones with pet what the hell is it called anyway"
"I think, and this is only a theory that it is a Z'a'r'th'a'aot'h" he said in an impressive display of linguistics, "But I'm not sure, because the ones I've read about are only the size of a house, not a star ship. They're what the legend of dragons is based on"
"Does that mean..." Dee trailed off
"Yeah they can breathe Fire" Xander said as he watched the monsters Head turn towards them"
"A Z'a'r'th'a'aot'h" Dee nodded, "Well, I think it's going to be naughty but where do you find a three hundred foot long cane"
Xander laughed, "Hey Dee"
"What?" Dee said leaning back onto his back her head tilted as far back as she could get it with Xander doing the same.
"I..." he cut himself off as the gargantuan screamed; He saw a small sleek ship strafe its flanks and then fly at them. Then suddenly his viewpoint changed and he was sat in a humid Transporter room still tied to Dee.
Jenkins shambled out from behind the Controls with a large and wicked looking knife. He waved it at Xander who nodded. Then in a swift movement Xander found himself free of his bindings. He turned around and helped Dee to her feet.
"The Captain wishes the pleasure of your company on the bridge" he said and shambled out of the room.
Dee turned to Xander with an inquisitive expression on her face
On his last visit here, he'd asked Gabriel the same question he could see in her eyes, "Human apparently" Xander told her.
"I don't fucking believe it" Marshall roared as the small craft seemed to disappear into nothingness, Xander and friend along with it.
"After them" Carmel snapped to her Por'aan guard who looked helplessly at Marshall, what did she expect for him to sprout wings and fly after it.
Marshall smirked and shrugged as Carmel, with an animalistic growl grabbed the hapless guard by the horns and tore its head off. Aboard Judy
Xander walked onto the bridge with the air of a kid in a sweet shop. "Oh man" he enthused.
"Xander" Gabriel said with a smile as he stood. Then he noticed the other occupant and lost the smile, "What's she doing here?"
"She's with me," Xander said losing his own smile.
"Not anymore" Dee said, "If I go back to them, I'm dead and you should know that better than anyone Commander Masters"
"Commander?" Xander said.
"My rank in Starfleet, its Captain now though" Gabriel told him looking at Dee carefully. "You better be telling the truth!" he said to her.
"You know I am" she replied her face serious.
"Yes I do believe I do," he said finally smiling at her, "Welcome aboard Judy"
"Judy? I thought you said this ship was an old rust bucket, she's amazing" Xander said.
Gabriel winced, "I really wish you hadn't said that" he said.
A figure flickered into existence a furious expression on her face, "RUST BUCKET AM I!"
CHAPTER 11 Starfleet Head Quarters
Captain Jake Zepicary walked into the Admirals office with a set expression. He didn't smile at the pretty clerk or even acknowledge her existence past a grunt. He was a man on a mission.
Janeway looked up from the report she was reading, "Ah, Hello Captain"
"You wished to see me"
"I did, I want to go back," he said
"You've only just arrived" Janeway said, "besides the last scan of the area showed that it still wasn't safe"
"I don't care Admiral, I hate to leave a man behind"
"I understand Captain, I truly do; that young man is important to the very Federation itself not to mention a close personal friend of mine. However, I cannot in all good conscience send an entire ship out there to die in an attempt to get him back"
"Who says we'll die"
Janeway gave him a grim smile, "Oh you would captain" she punched a control on her LCARS panel, a view screen came to life behind her with the scans of the huge demon"
"Holy Sh... Sorry Ma'am" Cap said quickly.
Janeway smirked slightly, "That's quite alright Captain I said something similar myself the first time I saw it"
Cap set his jaw, "all the same Admiral..." he was cut off by a sudden buzzing noise.
Two forms took shape in the corner of Janeway's office and as soon as the annular confinement beam let go of them Xander and Dee stepped forward. "Admiral, Captain" Xander said nodding to the two shocked officers. "Miss me?"
Xander sat with Dee at his side facing Admiral Janeway, Admiral Nechayev and Captain Picard, Captain Zepicary was sat off to one side his hand holding up his face watching the entire conference with a slightly bored expression.
"What happened" Janeway said, "On the planet?"
"We're in trouble Ka...Admiral" Xander said wiping his hand across his still dirty face. They had been hauled into the conference straight away. "The Por'aan have allies," he said "They were working with Marshall Boyd, Earth's master vampire."
"I see, long way from home wasn't he" Nechayev said sarcastically.
"Marshall's different Admiral Nechayev he's clever and ambitious he ran the earth underworld before behind turned" Xander said sharing the information that Seven had acquired for them.
"What underworld" Nechayev scoffed.
"The criminal one Admiral" Xander said curtly, "The Federation is not as clean cut as people would like to think, there is a world under your world Admiral and under your nose. You don't see it because you can't think that it could possibly exist. But it does, I assure you and Marshal ran it with a steel fist for five years. I'd hoped he'd been killed but now I know why the vamps on earth are so quiet. He told them to be"
"What is so different about a master vampire?" Nechayev asked.
Janeway looked at her, "I've seen one in action, they are scary"
"From you, that's quite an admission and very nearly proof enough" Nechayev complimented her. She admired her fellow female Admiral not many could have pulled off what she'd pulled of, plus the craft she'd brought back with her had been given to her section to pull apart and look at in microscopic detail. The new Ablative Armour alone was worth ten years research.
"We were nearly chargrilled by our friend with the impressive wingspan" he said
Janeway inhaled a sharp breath, "Good grief it was on a planet"
"It was and I have to tell you it isn't any prettier up close"
Dee nodded her agreement unfortunately drawing Janeway's attention, "And you" she began
Xander held up a hand, "Dee is on our side"
"Yes" Xander said, "And she needs to be protected."
"You should remember your place young man, Lt. Commander Amara will be tried for treason against the federation as a known Section 31 agent..." Nechayev said sharply
"No she won't" Xander cut in angrily.
Nechayev glared at him again. "Oh really I would ask you why but I fear you'll tell me."
Xander held her glare, "If your not going to help Dee you can all go to hell, I hereby resign my commission and you can whistle. I've got people that are deserving of help, if you won't help someone who has been abused by you then the Federation isn't what I thought it was" he stood up and pulled off his pips and tossed them on the table.
"Xander No" Dee said, "I'm not worth it"
Xander looked at her and smiled, "Yes, yes you are Dee"
Janeway looked at him in shock, Nechayev was almost smiling and Cap was laughing silently to himself his shoulders shaking. Picard held up a hand to still the proceedings for a moment. "If I may Admirals" Picard said graciously, "What did you have in mind Xander"
Xander nodded to his friend and then smiled, "I believe the Prometheus is in need of a second officer" he said causing Cap to laugh out loud instead of silently.
"If we were to consider this offer, what makes you think this is the right way to protect her?" Nechayev asked
"Because Dympna Amara was on the command track before Section got their claws into her and ..." Xander paused, "with all due respect to the fleet there is only one Captain with the correct sort of record to be able to protect her" he said turning and looking at Cap.
"My record is sealed," he said
Xander just smiled, "I like to read up on the people I'm working with Captain, and I can read between the lines, or in your case the huge blank gaps. So I did a little digging..."
Nechayev laughed a short bark of laughter, "By digging I take it you mean hacking, why you aren't swinging from a yard arm" she broke off shaking her head. "I can see why Janeway wants you around" she finished she looked to her left reading a yes in her fellow Admirals eyes then to Picard who nodded and then to Cap who shrugged
"Sure" he said laconically.
"I see, but there will need to be a sharing of information, a list of the mission's you have completed would be a good start"
Dee frowned, "Unlikely, I'd just paint a target on my back; I mean why should I do this" she asked, "I have no reason to, I could just disappear. It isn't like I have any family they can kill and you all know I could get out of this room right now and disappear. So why should I?"
Xander leant over and whispered in her ear for a long moment.
Nechayev shared a look with Janeway.
Dee's lips quivered, "OK you've got a deal" she said surprising them all. Xander sat back in his chair with a slightly smug expression.
"I see, then I suggest you and Captain Zepicary make your way quickly to the USS Prometheus and set sail, I don't care where but don't come back for a month. That will give me time to put off section," Nechayev said.
"I have a mission for you" Janeway said getting to her feet to walk the officers out.
Just before she left the door Dee turned back with a seductive smile at Xander, "Don't forget that promise now"
"If I did I'd have to shoot myself" he told her with a matching smile.
With that she swayed her way out of the room with Cap and Janeway behind her.
"You took a big risk, there; Lieutenant" Nechayev said eyeing him steadily.
"Something's are worth a risk Admiral and some people, like Dee, deserve a chance"
"We could have taken you up on your offer" Nechayev replied her eyes sparkling slightly as she tossed his pips back at him.
"That's true Admiral but based on what I knew of the situation I decided that you need me more than I need you"
Nechayev frowned at that, "If I may ask just how do you expect, for instance, to be able to travel to and reach your 'Slayers' without us"
"I think I proved that I'm not without certain resources in that department Admiral" Xander said carefully.
"Yes, and if we didn't need you I'd certainly be asking you some very firm questions on that score"
"Yes Admiral Nechayev, I expect you would"
"Goodbye Lieutenant I feel we'll be meeting again before long" Nechayev told him getting up nodding to Picard and leaving the room in the space of three heartbeats.
Picard looked at Xander sternly his lips suddenly quivered, "That was interesting, I think you actually managed to make Nechayev like you"
"Thanks Captain" Xander said with a smile.
"There is one thing however?" Picard asked
"Yes captain, what is it?"
"Just what did you say to Lt. Commander Amara to make her back down so quickly"
Xander blushed scarlet.
EPILOGUE A Week Later
Admiral Cove walked in the grounds of Starfleet academy enjoying the heat of the sun on his face for a moment.
"Eh hem" a soft voice said.
Alex Cove turned to the source and pasted a charming smile on his face, "Admiral Nechayev what a pleasant surprise"
"Alex, walk with me" Nechayev asked, slashed ordered.
"Certainly" Cove said with a smile.
They walked in silence for a moment before Nechayev held out a slender hand and still his motion. "How's your daughter?" she asked.
Alex Cove narrowed his eyes, "She is well, thank you"
"I've always wanted family, but my life has been dedicated to the Fleet" she said sharing this tidbit of personal information without any prompting.
Alex Cove suddenly became nervous; Admiral Nechayev was one of the most senior in Starfleet despite her youngish age of 60, although her stature and youthful vigor made her seem much younger "I see"
Nechayev smiled at him a quick flash of teeth that was nothing like a real smile, "So imagine my surprise when I find that someone needs a mother figure in their life and a friend of theirs wants me to be it"
"You must be very proud"
Nechayev did that quick teeth flashing again, "Imagine if you will that something terrible has befallen your daughter" she said looking him in the eye, "imagine the pain that would cause you"
"I am" Cove said nervously, the look on Nechayev face was making him want to check on his daughter.
"So you can imagine how I would feel if anything were to happen to this surrogate daughter of mine"
"Is she in danger Admiral?"
Nechayev locked eyes with him and his extra height seemed to disappear, "Her old family isn't happy that she's with me now." She said pointedly.
Alex Cove found the other shoe had dropped, he had one missing female agent at the moment, "Dympna Amara" he said his voice flat.
"Oh do you know her" Nechayev flashed him her teeth again, "I really do 'LOVE' her and I feel that if anything were to happen to her I would have to have retribution, Don't you know what I mean, As a father I mean"
Cove blanched slightly but tried not to show it, "Then it would behoove you to look after her then" he said.
"Oh I am, I am most assuredly going to do that, with all the power at my disposal"
"I'm sure that your newest family member will be quite safe," Alex Cove said feeling out gunned for the first time in his life.
"Thank you Admiral, that's reassuring" Nechayev said and set off at a quick clip disappearing around a corner leaving Admiral Cove looking thunderstruck in her wake.