USS Prometheus, En-Route
415 meters long by 163 wide of some of the latest federation technology cut a swathe through space as it's powerful warp engines pushed its 1,350,000 metric tons outside of Einsteinian space and into a warp bubble travelling at Warp 9.98. At the captains chair sat Captain Jake 'Cap' Zepicary, a singular captain for a singular ship. Decorated via back channels for various deeds while working for the Fleet, both on and off the books, he is a strangely laconic looking man, with a slightly rumpled uniform, who was currently slouched in his captain’s chair. Despite his appearance and the way he acted, he was one of the sharpest minds in command in the entire fleet. Behind him, and looking like a statue of gray slate, stood Treaze. The only person who knew the captain on the crew, an Andorian that had fought by his side in many of those battles that did and did not happen according to history.
Neither Treaze, nor his captain, were looking very happy and the reason for their annoyance stood off to one side just nest to the Prometheus's second officer Olaria. That person was Xander Harris, now Commander Harris of star fleet. Cap hated to be sent on a mission where he knew hardly anything about it. True, it had happened before, but that didn't mean that he liked it, even then. As for the 'Commander' which was faintly ridiculous no one could be a commander at that age surely. Well Cap was less than a happy camper and when Cap wasn't happy; he spread the joy.
“Alright that's far enough.” The snot nosed kid, or rather Commander Harris said suddenly shaking Cap from his dark thoughts.
“Can we use the conference room Captain?” Xander asked pleasantly.
Cap glared at him but nodded his head. “Then I'd suggest you and a couple of your command team head in that direction.”
Cap didn't even have to look at Treaze to know that he would follow, but he paused by Olaria, “Commander shall we?”
Olaria looked pleased, or as pleased as she ever did. The Allasomorph wasn't known for showing any great deal of emotion.
Xander tapped his comms twice then a pause and then once more, “Captain” he said standing by the open Turbo lift door. “Shall we?”
“We shall” Captain Zepicary said in almost a growl.
Xander knew from personal experience that he had to get rid of that growl and soon. The last thing he needed was Cap Zepicary to be mad at him. He had enough dangerous enemies as it was.
The ride in the turbo lift was silent and pregnant like a coming storm, but Xander ignored the glares coming from Treaze and Captain Zepicary. He, now more than ever, had to keep up a cool and professional front. It was important that he show no weakness in front of the captain or his officers if he wanted them to follow him into battle and for them to take ANY notice of a thing he was saying.
Which was the crux of his dilemma. He had been thrust into a command position when he himself didn't really think he was worthy of it. Why? The question of the day, not even he knew what had been in that time capsule, but whatever the hell it was had scared the hell out of the federation. To make a junior grade officer a step away from a captaincy and one that had appeared in less than usual channels in the first place wasn't totally unheard of, but it was still unusual to say the least.
He was in command of an autonomous unit tasked with protecting the Federation from the demonic threat. Those were his standing orders. So he could make a wild guess and say that the capsule had some information germane to them. Which meant that his cover as a time stranded man could be at least partially blown. How far spread the knowledge of his true identity was, and how he had come to the federation was not something he knew and he had a feeling he wasn't about to find out anytime soon. They knew he was ‘in the know’ about Demons and how to fight them. That much was obvious.
Xander almost sighed until he remembered where he was. #Show no weakness# he told himself.
#They may think you totally arrogant if you do not# Q informed him helpfully.
#Cap's like a shark. He'll smell blood in the water and then he will NOT trust me to lead his crew anywhere. He needs to have trust in the fleet and in me for this to work. You know how important it is that I at least try to keep the fleet on side. Having Cap on side will help a great deal with that.#
#He's a hard man, but fair.#
#I know, to be honest, I'm scared. This is a lot more responsibility than I'm used to. It was bad enough when it was just me and my slayers. Now I'm going to be heading up a task force and looking out for slayers!#
#Do not overly concern yourself my friend. You are more than up to the task. Do you question my judgement?# Q asked curiously.
#Constantly, but I follow your reasoning. You wouldn't have picked me if you didn't think I would be able to handle the pressure#
#Quite, not bad. My continued influence on you is obviously making a good impression#
#I won't say that. I keep trying to remember not to proposition Admiral Janeway#
Q's laughter in his mind went a long way to calming his worried spirit and amusement came alive in his eyes.
The turbo lift arrived at its destination and they all filed out to meet with Xander's team in the conference room. As they all arranged themselves around the table Xander took a moment to do a quick visual check on his people. Once he was done he caught Cap looking curiously at him, something akin to interest rather than anger entering his eyes.
“Captain Zepicary” Xander began. “I'm sorry for this Cloak and dagger bull shit, but I was under orders.”
Cap twitched an eyebrow at the frank beginning and almost smirked.
“Now that we're well away from the planet... Computer lock down this room Command override Omega Black Protocol Vita Nine Alpha. Harris Personal authorization Delta Delta Nine.” The room darkened slightly and all the displays shut down except the main conference screen. Xander walked over to it and tapped the controls, bringing up a display of a Vampire in game face. Finding it hadn't been easy. In the end he had gone out and taken a holo-image himself. “This is one of the new enemy.” he said in clear precise tones.
“What is it?” Cap asked looking at the image and sitting up a little more.
“It's a vampire” Xander said flatly gaining a snort from the captain.
“I'm sorry, what?” Cap said with disbelief clear in his tone.
“A vampire. A demonic being not of this dimension. Ladies and Gentleman we are at war. As of 09:00 hours this morning the Federation declared, pending diplomatic channels, open hostilities with Demonic kind.” Xander said sounding grave.
Cap sat up straight, “The council has lost their minds, surely.”
Xander tapped the screen again. “We've been attacked on over a thousand colonies already.”
“Why haven't I heard of this before?”
“Demon's are insidious. Their attacks have been low key small targets, sometimes single areas. One such Master is this man” the screen changed to show a picture of the man Xander, thanks to pre knowledge, knew to be Bajor's Master Vampire. “B'Thar. He was a major mover and shaker in the hard line Bajorian movement. He wanted to go to war with the Cardasians. This is NOT good news for us.”
“Sorry, wait. You say we're at war with demons then start talking about a Bajorian?” Treaze asked gruffly.
“There are several types of demon. Vampires in particular need a host. When they propagate the original host is killed and a demon entity enters the hosts body. It maintains the original personality and in some cases goals. Only it becomes blood thirsty, and I mean that literally, ruthless and ... evil.” Xander replied still sounding professional. “Master Vampires are the most powerful and THE Master for each planet that has one is the most powerful Master. They are stronger and faster than you can believe and have other abilities such as hypnotic effects and magical senses”
“This is a hoax, it has to be” the normally quiet Olaria said with a wave of her hand.
“I'm telling you all this so when we go down to the planet you'll be prepared. My team and I will handle the main action but you needed to be told for your own safety. This is a milk run for you. This is to prove I'm on the level, from there I'll expect a measure of belief.” he said calmly.
“Milk Run?” Cap said with anger flashing in his eyes.
“Proof, would be a better way of putting it.” Xander replied.
“You expect me to put my crew in danger for this?”
“I expect that you'll follow your orders Captain. The Council believes in this existence of demons, isn't that enough to gain me a measure of trust here.”
“Who the heck are you kid?”
Xander smiled slightly. “I'm just a guy from the past that's had the misfortune to come across these bastards before. I've been fighting them since I was 15 coming on 16. That's right I've been at war for 7 years with these bad boys”
“Say I believe that. How are you here. I've read your jacket, what I could, and it just seems a little coincidental that you're here now, and these ... demons show up all of a sudden.”
Xander let out a sigh, “Do you have any idea how many times I've been asked that in the last two days?” he held up his hand, “Never mind. I'll tell you what I told them, and they seem to believe me” he said pointing to his neck. “There is no such thing as coincidence in the universe. I believe that I may be here for a reason, but that reason is beyond my understanding. Or, this could just be some sort of cosmic joke. I Honestly Don't Know! I'm glad I am though because as advanced as you all are you aren't ready for the sort of violence a demon can dish out. Which in one way is good, but in another it’s dangerous.”
“I've seen a lot of action kid” Cap said thoughtfully.
“I've almost certainly seen less battles than you sir. However, what I've seen qualifies as apocalyptic. On no less than ten occasions before I got here. At the time I was only worried about the planet, now it could be on a universal scale.” Xander said respectfully. “Let alone on a more personal level the way that Vampires like to kill could best be described as ... messy.” He tapped the screen and even the battle hardened Fleeters flinched from the gruesome display.
“This what happened to the girl before I found the nest last night.” Xander said sounding calm but his eyes were terrible. “She was still alive when I found her, but...” he shook his head then shook himself somewhat. “She didn't survive.”
“That’s where you went last night?” Dee asked looking sick. “I'm your Liaison; you should really have told me.”
“You're also under my command” Xander said fairly sharply. “So I'm not at liberty to tell you everything I have to do. Particularly when it pertains to mission parameters, sorry.”
“You HAD to do this Xander?” Seven asked softly.
Xander nodded towards Cap who was looking a little pale as were the other members of the meeting. “They needed to know, you all did. Only K'Thall there knows better than I what a vampire can do.”
K'Thall replied with a serious expression and slow nod of her head.
“These pictures could very well be staged or even faked” Treaze commented slowly, obviously not sure himself.
“They could be.” Xander said then tapped the screen again and the picture began to move.
“Alright; enough” Cap said after a few moments. Moments in which they watched as Xander had tried to do everything in his power to save the girl and she had gurgled and screamed her way off of the mortal plane. Then in fascinated horror as Xander went to town on the vampires that had crept up on him as he dealt with their meal.
“I think I make my point Captain.”
“You're a bastard Commander Harris. But I'll do as you ask.” with that Captain Zepicary left the room with his command team hot on his heels.
Xander leaned back against the wall, “I'm sorry I had to surprise you all like that. If possible I would normally warn you all of such things before hand. I want this team to be a team I really do, but everyone needed to realize what we're dealing with here are monsters.”
“You said you Had to do it, why Xander?” Seven asked looking at the young man curiously.
“I was ordered to find some hard hitting proof even before I knew what the orders for me in the capsule were.” Xander said taking a seat at the conference table and ignoring the glare he was getting off of Dee.
“Vampires are monsters, sometimes to fight monsters we must become hard like they are.” K'Thall said in a surprisingly quiet voice.
“Sometimes I feel like I'm becoming one myself.” Xander admitted softly. Call him a big baby but he could really do with a hug at that moment in time. He knew what Cap had meant, he WAS a bastard for beating Cap over the head with the evidence of Vampires and worse for forcing him to take his command crew into a situation where they could become a victim themselves. He certainly hadn't made a friend here today, he could only hope that he would be able to repair the damage before it was too late.
“Here's some information that you need to know” Xander said after taking a deep breath. “B'Thar is a major bad ass. He's strong, fast and fights like a well demon. The only real intelligence I've been able to garner is via the Kae'Farl from the planet. The UFP put me in contact earlier today. She's a local hunter” he said looking at K'Thall, knowing she'd pick up on what he meant. “and she's got help in the form of a support team and her mentor. We'll be meeting up with them as soon as we go into orbit around Bajor. Yes I know, Seven, we're bypassing DS9 all together for this, not protocol but we're a black ops, urm... secret task force essentially. So I don't want to get snarled up in red tape from Captain Sisko. Once we've made contact we'll go out after dark and try to find his main nest and take him out. Seven, K'Thall, and I have the fighting skills for this, I'm afraid until you've been on the mats with me Dee you'll have to watch with the captain and his command staff.”
Dee bristled, her time at section had given her exemplary fighting skills, and her home planet was a heavy gravity planet, meaning she was a fair bit stronger than she looked as well. She couldn't just come out and tell them that she had been trained in close quarters combat though. She would have to wait and come up with a good cover story. Her training was several degrees of magnitude higher than the normal level of academy graduates. That could be tricky...
“B’Thar is a 35 year old ex-hard liner now Master vampire. He lost his entire family to the occupation and has been out for Cardassian blood ever since. I don't expect him to stop now. More likely he'll redouble his efforts and kill anyone that even looks like they'll get in the way. Which is why it's important to step in now and end him. This is part of what we'll be doing Ladies, and urh... complete lack of gentleman. Taking out Bad Asses before they become too much of a problem. The Fleet and Federation Council is putting together some sort of information network for us to get current and up to date intelligence. Or that's the theory. So for now, relax it’s a long ride to Bajor from here and I'll see you tomorrow at say 10 am ship time.”
As everyone else left Xander remained behind and moved across to the window. He watched as Cap got his orders and the stars shifted when they changed course. He was so lost in his thoughts that for a change he didn't notice that someone was standing slightly behind and off to one side of him.
Xander almost reached for his weapon, only stopping himself at the last moment and then relaxing slightly. “Lt. Commander, what can I do for you?” he asked her.
“You seemed troubled. I thought I'd check on you.” she replied coming to lean on the bulk head by the window and looking at Xander's sad, introspective looking eyes.
“I'm fine” Xander lied glibly. “I'm sorry about before. I didn't particularly enjoy carrying out those orders and it got me annoyed. I shouldn't have taken that out on you.”
Dee smiled slightly, “I understand, we've all had orders like that. Well not exactly like that, but unpleasant tasks.”
“Yes, I expect that's true” Xander said looking deeply into Dee's eyes and loosing himself for just a moment in their deep brown depths.
Dee inwardly crowed when she noticed that he was gazing deeply into her eyes. It wasn't until his gaze started to effect her that she realized that she had better break that connection quickly. It wouldn't do for her to be becoming attracted to her mark.
Xander turned back to the View as Dee looked down and just looked out. Thanks to Q being in his head he had a much more broad view of the universe now, while Q, himself, was given a new lease on life by looking at the stars through Xander’s eyes. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement now rather than an imprisonment for Q. Not that he'd ever dream of telling that out loud to the Powers that be. The creator would be forced to find a greater punishment for him instead, something that he wouldn't enjoy anywhere near as much. Like being Lucifer's personal whipping boy for the next millennia or so. Just for instance.
So, as Xander looked out at several trillion stars flying past them at Warp 9.99 or more, he saw not stars but a universe of infinite possibility and beauty. Some of that beauty was standing near him, reminding him quite starkly that some beauty was also as dangerous as it was attractive. It would be so easy to give into her game, let Dee lead him into a bed and make faux love to him, to ignore his troubles in the heat of a passionate clench.
He couldn't do that though. To do that would be to open a door onto a dangerous path. No he had to remain in as much control of the situation as he could. This meant, for the moment at least, keeping Dee at arms reach. Which was almost as painful to him as having Seven within reach and not being able to reach out and grab her.
Xander's eyes hardened and his back straightened even under Dee's watchful gaze. She almost saw the grit and determination seep back into him. She knew she had just watched a rare moment, when Xander’s guard was further down than it was normally. Had she missed her moment though that was the question?
“Xander?” She asked quietly. Not really wanting to break the moment until she absolutely had to. It was after all her best chance of seducing him right then and there.
“Dee?” Xander said back.
“Why do you do this? Fight these demons, I mean,” Dee said struggling for a topic that would keep him open to her.
Xander smiled, “In the beginning it was partly because of a brother not of my blood. Then, as always happens in these sorts of situations, it was about a girl.” he said his smile getting bigger as he talked. Then he shrugged, “Now... Now I have billions of reasons.”
“Tell me about this girl?” Dee probed.
“Her name was Buffy” Xander began, but was cut off by Seven walking into the room and clearing her throat.
“Seven” Xander said turning with a smile.
“Xander; I'm sorry to interrupt I would like to talk to you.” she said simply, pointedly not looking at Dee.
Xander blinked for a second. He wasn't used to Seven being quite so ... rude. But he soon got a handle on it and nodded, “Of course. Another time Dee.”
Dee smiled and nodded while inwardly she frowned. Perhaps this Seven would be more of a problem than she had at first thought. She was attractive for sure, but she hadn't thought there was anything going on between Xander and Seven other than friendship. Some research would be necessary when she got back to earth. Just her and a section LCARS terminal with access to all the flight data from the Voyager.
Xander followed Seven out of the conference room and was about to speak when Seven held up her finger to her mouth and indicated that he should follow her.
Frowning but doing as she asked Xander followed her through the maze of corridors of the Prometheus and a turbo lift ride, then finally into the quarters that had been assigned to her. Once they were inside she took out a small device and set it on the table. When she activated it there was a strange buzzing 'feeling' in the air and all sound deadened.
Xander smirked slightly, “If you wanted me alone Seven all you have to do is ask.”
Seven damn near rolled her eyes, Xander was pretty sure of it. “We need to talk” she replied.
Xander looked at her with an amused expression, “So I figured. What's with the spy stuff?”
“A necessary device to insure that we are not overheard.”
“Okay now you've got my interest.”
“The Admiral and I believe that your 'friendly' Liaison is anything but. The Admiral believes and I agree that she doesn't fit the role of liaison very well and that...”
Xander held up a hand and stilled her, “I think it's about time we had that chat about Section 31” he said to her in a calm reasonable voice.