S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

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S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:18 pm

Season 2
The Legacy, a computer program that caters the ability to predict the future has prophesied the end for humanity. The Council, an unseen unheard backbone of the Federation, who has used the Legacy to stay two steps ahead of the prophecy, turn from preparing the Federation for the end, to combating it as new variable is introduced into the Legacy's quantum equation, "The Prophet." With this, the Council moves to building a new ship, the most technological advanced starship ever created, and with that forging a new crew, the best and brightest that the Federation has. The ship will be known as the Eternity, and her crew will be the last best hope for saving humanity.

But are The Council's acts going against the Legacy, circumventing its dire prophecy, or, are they just another stepping stone to mankind's unescapable fate?

Episode 8 "Paradise Lost"
The notion of returning Home highlights the action of the crew as they enjoy their two days of freedom on the paradise offered on Churn. With the Orphan Virus treated, and the course of Home now set, the crew work together to prepare Hope for her journey and the storm that looms before them.

<<Episode Opens for Play on February 11, 2013>>
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Prologue

Postby FSF Gabe » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:20 am

"Something Wicked This Way Come."
By Gabriel "The Writer" Logan

ON:
Beyond the veil, 27 could see through the ship's sensors new contacts coming from the Fenroari Expanse, the direction heading dictating them coming from the direction of the fallen planet, Eden.

27's ship was a small schooner, a vessel that was merely a probe of a larger vessel with very little in the way of offensive measures other than movement due to it's size. She was linked via her neural implants, the controls based on thought, the scans and directional focus easily shifting with the swiftness of her mind. She briefly considered it to be merely ghosting, due to the debris field surrounding the expanse and the natural fissures that tended to bounce a signal from here to another dead relay. It was a natural defensive position for Churn, one considered when the Father founded the planet as their home and one that, at the war, was easily defended should it require it. 27 couldn't help but think of those that they lost at the cusp of her previous thought, a subsequent trait given to her now that she and the rest had been separated. If she was still of the Collective, her thoughts would not be of her own, irrational thoughts were anticipated, circumvented by programing and misdirection. She held hope that the contact chains before her would be enough to circumvent her own crushing thoughts.

"Fleet Commander Leader," she stated in the vast communication network also ran neurally, her implants shifting from one outset controller to the other. She knew that the FC did not hold a neural transmitter to the same degree she held and it would be mere seconds before he clipped the communication on his console to answer; but, considering her notions of immediate results, the mere seconds felt like eternity.

"27," the male voice funneled into her mind.

"I have a report of contacts," she began, her mind piloting the craft further into the expanse, "I cannot get a localization on approach and the signal readout is unknown to me. I'm sending it your way."

The metal falanges, equipped on 27 when she took the task of piloting the schooner, shifting upon the controls as the data readout was sent through the neural network. Again, the time taken to process the task was mere seconds, but to 27, it felt like forever before she heard the Fleet Commander sign off on her request, ordering her to venture further into the expanse as well as relaying two other spheres to run as backup.

"Understood," she followed before heading into the storm of debris and collected scrap.

It was the last time anyone would hear her.
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:34 am

Story Note
It is the day after the funeral and there are 24 hours left in the crew of Hope's shore leave. The last day is subsequently spent on Churn, off ship, as many crew members, including senior staff, have chosen to spend the day. Those inoculated with the Gen 7 nanomachines have begun to feel it's effects as well as the previous holdings of the Orphan Virus and the C-Consciouness lifting from their minds and bodies.
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:23 pm

Captain Rick Barlow
Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Churn, Scrap Yard

&

Lieutenant Marisol Hocevar
Chief Engineer/Designated Repair Drone
USS Hope

ON:
Captain Rick Barlow walked through the well organized pile of compiled scrap that held as the Resistance’s pool of materials. Nearly all of it was catalogued and organized by commonality of use, but most, the good stuff anyway, had been already used up and what was left was nothing but depressed grass that held the outline of what used to be there. To this Barlow looked at one such section, eyeing the dying yellow strains that hadn’t seen light until recently.

“They don’t leave much do they,” he muttered as his hand reached for another useable piece of hull plating?

“Not alot, sir,” the Chief Engineer replied. Marisol waved her tricorder over the stacks, her search for anything beyond the most basic of raw materials proving to be in vain. Each piece, be it structural or cosmetic in nature, had flaws, damage, the twisted marks of some less than ideal disassembly technique. Occasionally, she’d drop her left hand, touching the palm to the the refuse in equally unfounded hope that there might come an answer. “Still,” she said absently as she followed the captain, “as raw material goes, I think I’d like to beam a bunch of it up. It’d make good base material for the engineering and device replicators.”

To this, Barlow agreed, nodding in affirmation as he took two pieces, slightly heavy beams of raw cordisite. “We could probably work this to reinforce the structural integrity, maybe bolster a bit on the warp pylons,” he tossed the bits to the ground, hands falling to his hips. “I miss my forge..., should have grabbed it before I left, but it wouldn’t fit in the Nomad...,” he finished in a joke. before scratching his head, turning to rummage again.

“What we need is a transwarp coil, but I doubt they would just have one lying around...,”

“Oh yeah,” the diminutive engineer nodded her head, looking upon the bits of scrap that the captain had liberated. The sort of structural beam he envisioned for each pylon would require at least twenty-five times the cordisite they’d managed to unearth thusfar. She shook her head, as she scanned the relatively small confines of the scrap yard. It was time to have the conversation. And she knew, given both their actions, that she had things to initiate. “Permission to speak freely, sir?” Marisol asked, before clipping the tricorder to her belt.

To this, Rick held up his hand. “I know what you’re going to suggest Marisol. Eden has a lot there that we just sort of left behind..., “

“That’s one of the things,” Marisol replied as she stepped closer to her captain, her friend. “Something else I need to say first, if it’s alright?”

His face flashed in question before he waved it off. “Of course.”

“About the other day,” she began, her eyes dipping to the ground. “I was furious. And....I lost my cool, completely. Being angry was one thing, but....striking you...was totally wrong. I’ve got alot of regret for my actions. I wanted you to know how sorry I am. I’ll accept any disciplinary action you think is right.”

Rick smiled. “Ok, to the brig with you...,” he smirked before shuffling his hand in the air in a wave of the dramatic and showmanship.

“That stuffs in the past Marisol,” he continued, his smirk turning to a passing laugh, “I was an ass and wrong, so lets just drop that where it belongs.” He bent down to grab another few bars of cordsite pitching them into the very very small pile. “And would you PLEASE stop acting like I’m the freaking Captain..., I mean I am..., but I’m not some..., well...,” his hands shot out as rigid as he could make them, “ some STIFF uptight ass...,”

“Alright,” she nodded, before chuckling at his antics. “Alright. Just remember, shoulder punches don’t count...” She removed the tricorder, flipping it open once more. “Now I’ll be a pain in the ass. There are things on Eden, data nodes, full of borg tech spec, autonomous regeneration sequencers, and of course, trillions of Gen 6 nanoprobes held for us.....I wouldn’t be so insistent, but we’re still just 20 people on that ship. What we harvest here is a good thing, but Rick, even if we had a hold full of plating and repair structure, we’re seriously short handed when it comes to repairing big damage. The nanoprobes, and the ARS’s, would make the ship do the basic structural repairs itself.”

Red nodded. “I tend to agree,” he looked around a bit before shaking his head, “we’re not going to get much here and even with the offer of using some of the Gen 6 here on Churn, their isn’t enough materials.”

He rubbed at his chin. “But what was on Eden was aged, archaic technology centuries behind, like..., REALLY, behind. I don’t know what your nanomachine intellect has in mind...,”

“Oh, I get that,” Marisol nodded her agreement. “But it’s a step up for us, and in the kind of volume we need. Everything on Eden was status quo when they gave us what-for at Wolf 359. I don’t expect it to stand up long to another dreadnought, but if it’ll close the gashes and free my engineers to handle the serious problems after an attack, it’s a benefit we could use.”

Again Rick nodded. “Oh you’ll get no argument from me, I just don’t know what's left over there. From what GORIK said, the last of it’s power was used when he put the whammy on the crew. I just hope there is stuff there when we get there.”

She was about to open her mouth, a fresh argument framed with the rise of her passions. “When?” Marisol asked, taken aback. “You said “when?” Really?”

“Well,” Rick began, his eyebrow raising as he motioned to the piles in the scrap yard, “we just don’t have the volume as you said.” He shrugged continuing with, “I don’t know if its this Gen 7 swimming in my blood or the self realization that I’ve been a complete ass butt, but when you're right you're right.”

“Bien, bien!” Marisol exclaimed gratefully. Oh, thank you, thank you!” As was her way, the petite chief engineer threw her arms around the captain, much like an excited child. She landed a sisterly kiss upon his cheek, before backing away. “That wasn’t assault, right?” Marisol grinned.

“I don’t think so,” he questioned checking himself for punctures playfully? “Nope, still alive.”

“Fantastic!” Hocevar laughed. “The Gen-6, with our Gen-7 to assist us each, is a huge step forward. Oh, thank you. So, how much of this do you think they’ll let us have?”

The Captain shrugged. “I don’t know..., its awfully heavy and...,”

Just then, a crack thundered in the sky, a rushing of wind and the brisk russle of the tree line held an explosion of sudden sound that directed Barlow to look up and behind Marisol. His eyes went wide as he beheld a large ship, it’s sides a flame, green fire licking across it’s hull as billowing smoke rose and moved in contrails behind. It was coming to a crash, flying so low that the tree tops felt the brunt of the deathroll.

Instinct took over as Rick tackled Marisol to the ground, covering her with his own body as the roar held loudly and the brush of wind cascaded across the scrap yard knocking the piles into chaos. When the ship cleared enough, Rick rolled to his back, lifting back to his elbows to see the final trajectory of the dying ship fall into the ocean beyond the treeline, the large splash of water nearly as high as the green foliage.

When the roar overtook her, she turned to see what might be causing the disturbance. Suddenly, Marisol found herself thrown to the ground, pinned by Rick’s body as the thing traveled just overhead. From the corner of one eye, she saw flame, a belch of acrid smoke. Then, as the force of it’s passage sent the scrap yard asunder, her tiny body curled beneath his, hands rising up to protect her face from the wash of dust and debris that suddenly flew. She heard the impact, the sound of water, followed by bursts of pressure....super heated metal forced to cool and steam in a new bath. Rick moved, going to his back and elbowing up. At his exclamation, she asked, “What was that? I couldn’t see...” Following his lead, Marisol took to her feet.

“A ship...,” was all that Rick could mutter, looking over at Marisol before taking off in a brisk run.

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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby Sonja Kinnunen » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:39 pm

Commander Talla Vreenak
Executive Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Holodeck & Bridge

Vreenak had returned to the holodeck while others wrapped up their "shore leave." With almost the entire crew off ship he'd spent most of the time locked away inside the lab whether Amelia joined him or not at times. There was so much data to cover and he had to mentally compare it to what he knew of the Romulan's own concept of nano-technology. They'd gotten some pieces right, but obviously not all. Gen Seven had additional advantages (that they knew of) and it didn't cause half the participants to die and slightly more to go insane; obviously the Borg had a more nuanced approach to designing nanomachines. They'd only had centuries to perfect the art, whereas the Empire had a decade or two? And now he had only one day left before his time would be divided back with his duties to the ship. Twenty-four hours to understand every facet of nano-technology and find a way to unshackle Gen Seven while not returning it to the limitations of previous versions.

He'd been staring at a display when a voice came over the intercom dragging him from the intricate web of nano-scale programming and interfacing. Someone left on the bridge reported something on the sensors descending toward the planet rapidly and without sufficient time to land. In fact the object flew over the projected crash area before Vreenak had reached the Archway. "Computer, save program," he snapped over his shoulder before taking off jogging down the corridor toward the nearest turbolift.

Seconds later he stepped out onto the bridge. "Report."

Details remain sparse, but Vreenak circled around to the tactical console to look at the readings himself. "Scan for any vessels or unexplained activity in orbit for the cause of the vessel's crash," the First Officer ordered as he turned his attention to the crash itself. Ships didn't just fall out of orbit on their own; not without a great deal more warning if it had been a mechnical failure. His dark eyes took in the area around the crash before a frown turned the corners of his lips down. With a quick tap of his badge, he opened hailing frequencies, "Vreenak to Captain. A vessel crashed in your vicinity. Are you unharmed?" Dangerously close it would seem. Though it was fortunate they had people on the scene already; perhaps they could detail visual cues about the crashed object. Provided they were safe and not in immediate danger, of course. Much as he would like to investigate, it they were in danger the transporter was fully operation and standing by to extract them.

<<Tag Barlow, Bridge>>
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:47 am

Captain Rick Barlow
Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Churn, Crash Site

OFF:
I'm sure Dan understands when I say..., "wild card."

ON:
Rick clipped his combadge. "I'm fine Vreenak," he passed as he footfalls continued to carry him into a even swifter run, "we're heading for the crash site now. Looked Borg in origin, but I'm unsure if it was of the Collective or the Resistance." The Captain slashed at a few branches before falling into sight of the massive scar left in the wake of the ship's impact; the longevity professing the harshness of the crash as it stretched from the cliffside trees to the beachhead and into the ocean that led in the displacement of water via super heated steam and complacent fire. He stood on the edge seeing the devastation.

"Get a head count of our crew Vreenak. Make sure we're all accountable and start pinging the skies, something had to bring this thing down and I want to know if its coming our way."

<<Tag Vreenak, Hope>>

"We're going to continue to investigate," Red finished signaling in motion for Marisol to follow as he continued his run following the deep canyon that fell to the ocean. At the precipace there was steam, great rolling smoke and a fundamental lack of water that quelled to reveal the massive ship that had made a water landing.

"Check for survivors," the Captain began taking his first timid steps onto the top hull of the ship's cracked surface. "Easy...," he approached, "this thing could give way at any minute."

In the instant his foot touched the dark metal hull, Rick Barlow heard a rustle, a shifting of movement ever so swift from his left then his right. He had nearly taken his phaser out of his pocket before a dozen shadows, like drops of dark rain, filed in evenly from above, each figure dropping from incredibly altitude before landing brashly upon the surface of the ship. They were dressed in black, each holding signs of being Borg or Borg in origin. They didn't notice the Hope's Captain as they began to cut into the hull plating of the ship using implants equipped in their mechanical hands and arms.

Before Barlow could even voice himself another figure dropped right in front of him like the dozen that had done so earlier, seeming to come from out of nowhere. The closeness of proximity made the Captain stumble back on the balls of his feet, instinct brandishing the phaser full force in aiming direction. He breathed a sigh of relief and shuffled the weapon back into the confines of his pocket when he recognized the man as the Resistance's Leader.

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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:05 am

Gabriel "Matrix" Logan
Resistance Leader
Churn, Crash Site

ON:
Logan ran, his steps taken so swiftly that sound had long since fallen behind. Along his left and right were six and six followers, the original twelve of his flock and protectors of Churn and it's people. They traveled through the trees, through the brush and among the branches before jumping high into the air, the audibility of the travel catching up to them, their long coats flaring outward in giant whooshing sounds before they landing impacting heavily onto the Borg vessel, their appendages cutting into the hull plating looking for the two survivors.

At the sight of Captain Barlow and Hope's Repair Drone, Logan twisted his motion subtly, changing the axis of his landing so that he fell straight on with Barlow stopping the Captain in the swiftness and abruptness.

"We don't have much time," Gabriel began eyeing the Captain and the Lieutenant. "Our defensive lines are under attack, faltering, it will be within the hour before Churn is at threat...,"

He endeavored to continued but was interrupted as one of the twelve called out to him. The Man in Black turned towards the sound and saw the other eleven begin to pull out the two pilots of the ship. Logan ran towards them, the crowd separating allowing their Father to see the evil his brother had wrought.

One had died, the obvious signs of death hinting in the milky white of the man's left eye, the dead silence of light held within the optical unit of the right. He had been killed by fire, consumed as the cabin and forward front of the ship has been. The other still clung barely to life and Logan bent down, allowing the man's death to mean something other than the end of his life.

"So many..., Father," the Liberated Drone choked, "so powerful. Not like..., before....,"

"Don't speak," Logan pressed, "save your strength."

"I..., am dying...,"

It was a question, but one that Logan didn't have to answer for the drone knew his time had come.

"I embrace...," he stated, the finality of his breath taking in and his stare grew complacent as the light emanating from his optical unit flared brilliantly before dying into darkness.

To this, the Man in Black stood. Briefly taking in the situation before nodding to the twelve that stood before him awaiting orders. No orders were spoke, but action was taken as the twelve filed in jump, taking to the sky and disappearing into the tree lines heading towards the village.

"Take your crew and leave Churn, Captain," Gabriel began turning towards Rick and Marisol, "we will hold off the onslaught as best as we can so that your escape will be successful."

<<Tag Barlow, Hocevar>>
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Sail » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:54 pm

Lieutenant Marisol Hocevar
Chief Engineer/Designated Repair Drone
USS Hope

From the first glimpse, her newfound companions came alive. Thousands of voices whispered in perfect unison, as imagery and collected data flashed before Marisol's conscious mind. She ran behind the captain, giving voice to the most pertinent thoughts.

"Assimilated Scout Class vessel, Species 5618......human origin," she shouted as they ran through the trees.

Dual nacelle warp field generation. Antimatter injection core system. Fusion reaction sublight drive. Smoke particulate density analysis indicates acute atmospheric re-entry vector. Shields were not operating.... Soon, the forest and last outlying buildings were cleared, offering them a view of the beach, and the carnage of the waterfront. A deep trench had been cut, it's edges and surrounding beach littered with bits of wreckage. Some still burned as they ran to the scene. She pounded into the surf toward what remained of the vessel's hull. The twisted, smoldering corpse she saw bore little resemblance to the sharp line specifications which even now were being employed to identify portions of the debris field.

Vessel attiitude and debris scatter indicative of forward impact, followed by repeated fore to aft rollover. Variations in impact trench depth support this analysis....portside nacelle jettisoned. Bubbling and escaping gas reference on ocean surface thirty-one point three meters distant, bearing two seven one point five degrees indicative with mass and thermal exchange of portside nacelle...hull structural deformations indicate abnormalities of vessel airlock.....possibility of normal operation twelve percent.

Now in water up to her waist, the engineer reached out, intent upon establishing a link with any nanotech aboard the dying vessel. Her hand froze in mid air, as if an invisible barrier stood before her.

Exposed hull temperature exceeds burn tolerances of Species Madre's epidermal layer.

'Then where can I touch it?" she demanded.

Physical contact with submerged hull sections is deemed to be within acceptable parameters.

"Fine." Her left hand splashed into the troubled water. Soon, she'd clapped onto the ship's hull. The connection was almost instantaneous. To the onlookers who now gathered on the shore, it might appear that this vessel's battle was done. But, as Marisol soon learned, the war was being fought yet. The Scout's Gen Six nanoprobes were redeploying, rallying their forces, sending billions of tiny combatants to the final, perhaps most important struggle. "Oh God," Marisol said aloud. "They're losing antimatter containment."

Gabriel "Matrix" Logan wrote:"Take your crew and leave Churn, Captain. We will hold off the onslaught as best as we can so that your escape will be successful."


She had barely noticed the near lifeless body of the ex Borg as Logan and his men extracted it. Words gasped, yet unheard by the engineer whose own conscious mind was enveloped with the force of the connection to the wrecked craft. "Divert core power bleedoff to autonomous regeneration sequencing," she ordered. "Effect containment tubules and surface coating for the antimatter storage and injection assemblies."

Insufficient power. came the reply. Antimatter storage tank valve auto shutoff initiated. Feeder piping and injection antimatter retraction complete. Structural crack in antimatter storage tank. We are reinforcing, but content pressure of fifteen thousand six hundred fifty-two point three kilograms per square centimeter will force rupture in eleven minutes, forty-one seconds.

"Damn," she swore under her breath, before raising her eyes to Red. "Sir, it's the antimatter storage tank. Rupture in just over eleven minutes."

<Tag Barlow>

They'd have to get out, and quickly. Eleven minutes might be enough time to get the crew and as many as Logan might permit of his own "flock" safely away. "Hocevar to Engineering!" Marisol called into her commbadge.

"Engineering. Nogawa here."

"Listen up," she ordered. Standing near her, Marisol could hear the captain on his own comm, issuing his own orders for a hasty departure. "Spin up the core for immediate launch. Call in all the staff. Once you've got bodies, run the prelaunch sequence. Clear?"

"Yes, ma'am," Nogawa replied. "We're on it."

"I'll be there in a minute. Hocevar out." She was about to pull her hand and break the link, when the thought struck. "Antimatter injection system," Marisol considered. "Dilitheum crystal status?"

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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:07 pm

Captain Rick Barlow
Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Churn, Crash site

ON:
Words were spoken, actions were taken swiftly all of which without Barlow's say so, it would appear that Captain only goes so far. Rick shook his head, not wanting to argue the point as he swiftly tapped his com-badge. "Vreenak, recall the crew, startup sequence for liftoff of Hope has already been engaged. Do a low sweep by and get as many people as you can onboard. That includes Resistances members. Save as many as you can Commander."

<<Tag Vreenak>>

"What about this ship, if what Marisol...," he paused, of course what Marisol was saying was true, "..., eleven minutes isn't enough time...,"

<<Tag Logan>>
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:12 pm

Story Note
Suddenly, there is a roar from the sky, the clouds blacken and part as a cascading beam of superheated light splashes into the forefront of view, impacting directly into the heart of the Resistance Village. Cries are heard over the quake rattling Churn as the beam continues to penetrate into the planet's crust and internal cores.
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:39 pm

Gabriel "Matrix" Logan
Resistance Leader
Churn

ON:
Logan was about to address the Captain's concern before he and the three that remained at the crash site suddenly were rocked by the sudden earth shattering quake that nearly took the Man in Black to his knees. He held firm and saw in horror the beam of light that had descended from orbit and crashed directly onto the Village.

He was through talking with the Hope's Captain, his knees slightly bending before he launched himself high into the air, twisting his body enough so that when he landed upon the ground several hundred feet away, he broke into a full run. Hands clawed in desperation at limbs as his powered endoskeletal legs pumped madly towards the devastation, stopping so hard that the earth beneath his feet cracked to the sudden shift of momentum.

Logan threw his hands up to his face, the heat radiating from the concentrated beam hitting him like a brick wall, the temperature so high that the skin of his palm and fingers began to melt; the nerve endings severing in an instant of pain that made the Man in Black flinch before he could feel nothing. He kept his left eye covered, scanning the field of burning chaos with tight concentrated focus of his right optical unit. What he saw made the effort of keeping himself away from the flame trite.

They were all dead, mangled corpses of flesh and burned metal, in an instant all that was within the beam disintegrated. Men, women, and children, the onslaught did not discriminate and not a degree of words or the objectivity of horror could ever describe the pain that Gabriel Logan felt at the sight. Rage was just a word, sorrow abstract; if he had been a Father to these men and women, these liberated free souls that had a new lease on life, then he had failed them just as quickly as he saved them.

Through that thought more flooded him. The Eden, the Titan, death fallen, Jerico, the Eoman, the Portal of Eternity, it was as if each step the Man in Black took, each footprint was soaked in the blood of those he had killed. This mad story, this hellish existence described within every page, every character and every word typed...,

..., he cursed The Writer.

"No," the Man in Black stated, his legs moving him backward away from the intensity of the heat and the flame. "No...," he cried tears welling in his left eye as his lip quivered. The adrenaline of the situation was waining as his sorrow increased, the pain in his hands, the flesh so burned and so liquified that the endoskeleton, the dark metal hue of the mechanical under his skin shown brightly through. He fell to his knees as the planet began to die around him, his shoulder smoldering to the temperature differential causing small smoke contrails to bead from his long coat.

The beam was penetrating the core of the planet, the ground cracking in its wake as the tectonic plates began to shift out of alignment and drop to the hell of magma below, steam spirting from the open vents.

Among the carnage, through the tears, Logan looked up at a sky that was on the precipice of losing its atmosphere. Ships baring the mark of the Resistance, of his flock, fell like graceful falling stars to the dark horde that was the Borg Collective.

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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby Sonja Kinnunen » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:17 pm

Commander Talla Vreenak
Executive Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Bridge

"Acknowledged, Captain. Scans in progress," Vreenak replied calmly after Barlow signalled they were in good health and not in immediate danger. He'd barely gotten a preliminary report on the sensors when he noticed the increase in power from the warp core. Curious, he didn't recall any order being given. Fortunate, however, seeing how that'd been one of the next few steps necessary in preparation for an attack; the ship was completely vulnerable sitting on the planet.

<<Tag Barlow>>

For now he let the matter slide and turned to opening a communications channel to all ship personnel. Before the channel opened, however, to place the crew on alert, Barlow's voice came back, "Vreenak, recall the crew, startup sequence for liftoff of Hope has already been engaged. Do a low sweep by and get as many people as you can onboard. That includes Resistances members. Save as many as you can Commander." The Romulan's jaw muscles worked for a second before he turned back to the command console and opened the channel, "This is Commander Vreenak. All personnel prepare for emergency transport to the ship. If you know of any civilians, locate them and I will use your combadge location to beam them aboard as well." A homing beacon to help him pick up as many as possible with the computer getting a rapid lockon with the active signal by combadge.

<<Tag All Crew>>

"Use thrusters to lift off," the First Officer ordered the Helmsman/Operations Officer on duty with him just before the ship shook violently.

Initial report confirmed it hadn't been a direct, offensive strike to the ship, but there was some sort of energy beam landing directly on the village. Vreenak dropped into his seat and brought up tactical and transporter controls; he set the computer to continuously beam people up from the surface as the ship began to shake off gravity's hold and asecend from its perch. Red alert illuminated throughout the ship, though Vreenak had silenced the klaxon and kept the shields down for the moment to allow transporter function. "Take us in. Monitor that the assault doesn't turn in our direction."

<<Tag Bridge>>

Another broadcast message went out to those still waiting transport and those already on board, "All hands prepare for emergency beamout. Report to battlestations upon arrival." With a few taps he opened a channel to Barlow directly, "Captain, recommend you identify Logan's position for transport to the ship." Of all the 'Resistance' on the planet, Logan held the most tactical value. It would be a waste to leave the man to die with the planet.

<<Tag All Crew, Barlow>>
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby Aiustis » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:52 am

Aezin Talol

The deep violet oceans of Trill were a sight to behold; vast and magnificent to such an extent that Lyen felt overwhelmed. He would love to just jump and let the waves engulf him. But he did not know how to swim and he was obligated not to die in such a fashion. This would be the first and last time that he set eyes on it. At the age of 56 he had many accomplishments to his name. He'd have traded it all for what he lost during his joining family and friends he'd simply disconnected with. And so he withdrew from everyone but his colleagues. He took in one final look before turning away. In two days, he would be dead.

Aezin rubbed her eyes then stretched her entire body before sitting up. Lyen dreams always left her feeling depressed. He'd been considered arrogant and aloof, crucified by popular opinion, but he had been a good person. It was his knowledge that made her useful. And she had a certain amount of respect for him. And gratitude for all the effort he made to ensure that she was his successor. She'd probably be dead by now if she hadn't been.

She still felt the urge to begin her day by exercising, but it was impossible in her small room. There was enough space for a cot but...she'd never even seen a bathroom as small as this and she'd lived in places with closets that were larger. Aezin put on her jacket and pulled up her hood before leaving her room. She was relieved to enter an empty hallway; the halls were narrow and impossible for two people to pass without brushing shoulders at the minimum.

The Borderlands was a mixture of desperation and hopelessness that had fermented into something much worse. There were some decent people and places, but there was an overabundance of the bad. She kept her head down as she headed through the crowd. it hadn't seemed nearly as crowded when she first arrived. Back then there had been a functioning ship with a crew of fourty. She was there to consult with all her Lyen knowledge. Things got real pretty quickly, then proceeded to deteriorate. Six of them were here. She didn't know what happened to the others or the ship.

Her destination was a narrow passage with walls of fortified crates that led to a large cluster of lean-tos. The man at the door probably a delta quadrant native, though she'd be hard pressed to name fifteen of the good old UFP species, waved her by. Everyone recognized her; she was Thau's favorite new thing.

"There you are!" Thau, the tall insect like humanoid who sat at a bar stool watching two of his fighters practice. That was his business, brawls and booze. One would think people would have better things to do when the end was on the horizon. Thua motioned for her to sit. He and his toadies had been the first people they'd met here. A miscommunication that had nearly cost them their lives. She had summoned her inner political leader and taken charge of the situation. "I've got a job for you."
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:18 am

Captain Rick Barlow
Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Churn, Village ruins and Drill Beam

ON:
CMDR Vreenak wrote:"Captain, recommend you identify Logan's position for transport to the ship."


Barlow didn't know. The Resistance Leader had taken off with swiftness that could only be perceived as desperation. "I'm on it, keep a lock on me. Await my command for transport."

He watched as Marisol disappeared in a beam of cascading sparkles, the transporter beam taking hold felt like Barlow was the last one to take the bus back home. He felt that pit in his stomach roll as he shuffled foot off the derelict craft and onto the ground, sprinting as fast as his limbs could take him through the brush and on the path he knew. The ground quake was immense, fissures began to form across the vast landscape before him birthing steam vents to push forth in giant hissing sounds that nearly blocked out the energy wave charge that he was approaching.

When the intense heat began to compound, Red stopped his steps, his hands pushing to his face before he grabbed the bottom cloth of his shirt's front and pulled it to his mouth. The flames and smoke were tireless, the tree line a flame and smoke billowed through the air as thick and heavy has a fog. The Captain remained low, tried to stay with the oxygen.

"LOGAN!!!!" His yell first muffled before he shuffled away the cloth from his face. He coughed in inhale, feeling the burn on his lungs. "LOGAN!!!!"

More cough, more smoke, further burn assaulting his lungs as Captain Barlow doubled over and fell to the floor. The scratching in his throat, the inhalation seemed to burn him right to his core as he shook his head trying to stay conscious but not denying the corners of his vision darkening. He groaned to speak, but could not anymore as the smoke encompassed the entirety of his world.

The last thing he saw was a rush of movement followed by the contrails of coat tails.
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Gabe » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:40 am

Gabriel "Matrix" Logan
Resistance Leader
Churn

ON:
Gabriel "Matrix" Logan stood as his name was called, the smoke and the firestorm surrounding encompassing, the heat unbearable to a human. His right optical unit scanned in the direction of the sound, and he saw the signature before the HUD of the display identified the person as Captain Rick Barlow. Medical sweeps engaged, a splash zoom of the Captain's lungs revealing the man soon to lose breath, the extremity of his inhalation beginning to cause first and second degree burns. The silhouette of the Captain shuffled to the ground before his motion seized.

To this, Logan ran. The flair of his right optical unit reflecting the power that surged through his endoskeleton as his legs took him through the smoke, the movement so swift that the smoke itself fell in his wake. In a dash Logan lifted the Hope's Captain, taking him off the ground with inhuman strength, snatching him one handed before carrying Barlow in a fireman's hold.

The cracking of trees, the rush of steam surrounded causing Logan to jump, his course to try and get some height so that he could see how far the smoke cover had reached. In his depression, as Churn crumbled around, he had ignored pain, ignored his environment, he did not know of the devastation that the forest fire had wrought. As his and Barlow's body cleared the smoke cover, all those questions were answered as the Man in Black and the unconscious Captain fell back to Hell.

Logan shifted his step, funneling his course to escape through a path ladened with falling trees aflame. In a smooth and swift motion, Logan pulled his Katana underhanded, the Tritanium blade singing as it left the back holster and sheath hidden underneath the long black coat. A tree was sliced, another taken right from the air that it coursed to follow, falling to the ground in two pieces in the wake of Logan's step. Another slice, horizontal, the blade kicking into the flames, the Tritanium glowing in a fierce red as the heat's energy was absorbed; the tree falling with a resounding rush of air and a cataclysm rumble of the fall. In the aftermath, the fallen tree had not only taken out the flames before Logan, but also opened a path. In an instant, both the Man in Black and the Hope's Captain were out, the air less smoky, the ground less aflame.

Barlow began to cough violently as fresher air returned to his lungs, he rubbed at his throat, sitting beside Logan as the Resistances' Leader dashed away the heat energy from the blade, flicking it off as if it were nothing more than a substance stuck on the blade. Immediately the katana returned to its original hue before the Man in Black returned the weapon back to the sheath on his back, shuffling it underneath the long coat's tail with a right practiced hand.

CAPT Barlow wrote:"Hope, two to beam up."


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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby aufarooqui » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:09 am

Ensign Anam Farooqi,
Outside Borg Village, Churn

On his last day of shore leave, after some relaxed meditation, Anam went to visit the elderly scientist outside the village. He beamed to her modest domicile and knocked on the door.

The sweet old lady that answered the door was not used to visitors. In a daze, she let him in anyway. Over a glass of weak tea and stale cookies, he explained why he was over. "I'm looking to bring your research to the Alpha Quadrant, where Federation scientists could spend the next three decades pouring over the details."

She was slightly surprised, having been a drone in the Delta Quadrant for decades, she expected to live out her last years alone and die in anonymity.

"I don't have any of the original notebooks," she said,"But here is an isolinear rod of Magnus' research and thoughts in personal log form."

Anam's eyes widened as he asked her permission to touch the chip. He grabbed the green stick from her hand, then planted a kiss on the Granny's forehead. "Can I make a copy?," he asked.

"You should keep it," she insisted.

"No, no, these are his original logs. You should have something to remember your husband by, or in case you wanted to pick up your research again."

"No, dear, I wouldn't be interested in pursuing that research. Not after all I've been through." Her eyes displayed painful memories of death and genocide.

Her cheerful spirit returned as she asked a favor. "You know what I'd like? I was told my daughter wrote a book when she returned to Earth. If you could get me a copy, and get her in touch with me, I'll be glad to help you with decrypting what's on that rod."

Anam was overjoyed. "I'll give you co-authorship", he obliged. It was unlikely, as a helmsman, that he could decrypt all that research on his own, especially notes by of one of the greatest minds of the galaxy."

"That won't be necessary," she refused.

Regardless, he could not deny her invaluable contribution to his thinking.

Unbeknownst to the old lady in front of him, he had his mobile recorder on. The academic community would be shocked if they got back to Earth and saw this video.

"I gladly accept your terms, I will get you in touch with Annika," he said. God willing, he thought. He was about to hug her goodbye, considering himself lucky to have someone praying for his return. Sometimes a wish by itself could pull one through.

---

As Anam hugged the old lady, he looked up to see debris burning up in the atmosphere. The horror amplified to see a ship diving across the sky into the ground. He turned the elderly woman around, and they both watched the vessel, heating up from its angle of entry into the atmosphere, crash nose-first into the ground. Parts of its hull glowed red-hot from the friction.

They both ran to the crash site, a body of water just a few hundred meters from them, the elderly woman keeping up perfectly with the younger man.

When they arrived, they couldn't see anything but steam arising from the wreckage. When they had walked around the water, they spotted their crew, the Borg leader and his followers, and heard the dying pilot who spoke of an army of ogres coming their way.

Anam moved to say something, but the ground began to quake, first from an energy beam to the planet's tectonic plates, then from Matrix Logan's immense force from hopping into the distance. The grove of trees nearby burned as the pillar of fire incinerated everything in a line through the Borg village.

Anam was knocked off his feet from the first quake. He got up to find survivors in the village, but disappeared in a shimmer of light. He re-materialized on the transporter pad he used earlier that day, and found Erin Hansen next to him on the platform.

"You idiot!," he snapped at the transporter operator, "We have to save more people down there."

"I'm acting on orders from Commander Vreenak, and that planet below will tear apart in minutes."

Cmdr. Vreenak wrote: All hands report to battlestations upon arrival.


"I'm sorry, chief, for the outburst. If you could continue evacuating those people, I'll be on the bridge," he apologised as he walked out.

---

Anam wordlessly assumed his station on the bridge, and was surprised to see the engine already on and purring.

It was a cinch getting the thrust level to levitate the Intrepid-class over the green countryside, now engulfed in a raging fire with trembling magma underneath.

As he piloted their way to Barlow's last known coordinates, he noticed the acceleration was also much smoother than before. This was handy, now that there were additional ships plummeting towards the planet.

"Sir, there are more vessels crashing to the surface. There is also considerable accompanying debris," he reported to Vreenak.

They were now right above the antimatter leak, the riskiest position to be, but their captain couldn't be far. He hoped they would find him before... well, he didn't know if the antimatter containment or the planet's molten core would explode first. He looked at the viewscreen; Fire from above, fire from below. Anam could not help but remember ancient human depictions of the end of the world. "What hath God wrought?," was the horrified expression.

Capt. Barlow wrote: Barlow to Hope. Two to beam up.


Anam breathed a sigh of relief. The captain was safe, but he didn't knew when they'd be safe from the fiery wreckage above.
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Sail » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:01 pm

Lieutenant Marisol Hocevar
Chief Engineer/Designated Repair Drone
USS Hope

"Dilitheum," she thought. "And within my reach..." Above her, the heavens opened to unleash Hell. A The clouds parted, their vapor appearing to roll back in horror at the massive energy beam which burned it's way into the village. Even at this distance, it's radiated heat was terrific. Suddenly, the hull before her didn't seem quite so hot. She had seconds at best. "Listen," Marisol forced her will into the linkage. "I want the dilitheum. Also, any nanoprobes not involved in actively containing antimatter should try to connect to my body and clothing." Without waiting for a response, she severed the link. Gritting her teeth against the seering heat, Marisol took handhold by handhold, pulling herself up the hull of the crippled ship toward the opening cut by Logan and his apostles. Despite the burn, she could feel a tingle on her arms, emanating up her legs from her feet. She wouldn't save them all, but perhaps the few she could save might prove helpful. Ahead, the hole beckoned. She knew the layout, and could get into the engine room in seconds. There, two healthy dilitheum crystals waited. As the world suddenly shimmered white around her, Marisol shouted "Aw, son of a......"


"....Bitch!"

"What?" Ens. Asri Nazir had been assigned to the transporter room.

"Nothing!" Marisol shouted as she sprinted from the transport pad. "Are we away?"

"We just lifted off!" Nazir called from behind her as she raced into the corridor.

"Hocevar to Engineering!" she yelled as the turbolift door opened.

"Engineering, Washington here."

"Oh, good," she thought. "What's our status?"

"We're under way. Struts retracted.."

"Do we have warp?"

"Ready in about one minute," the crewman replied, before he turned to see her burst through the doorway. "She'll gripe, 'cause she's not fully warmed up, but we'll get warp."

"Right," Marisol nodded as she rushed the the MSD console. "Engineering to bridge," she said with a fresh tap to her commbadge, "you've got all systems except warp drive. It'll be online in forty-eight seconds."

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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby Sonja Kinnunen » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:48 pm

Commander Talla Vreenak
Executive Officer, U.S.S. Hope
Bridge

Vreenak didn't say anything as people filtered onto the bridge, but he did issue orders, "Helm, pass over the village. Close as possible. Avoid the debris and the energy beam." His eyes fell from the view screen to the console again. Fingers danced over the controls to help sort out the interference put off by the surge of energy drilling into the planet. Not enough to impede transport capability, but as they drew nearer for a clean signal he had to compensate.

<<Tag Anam>>

A signal came in from below confirming the Captain had been beamed aboard shortly thereafter. "Understood. Continue extracting all humanoid lifesigns as long as possible," which wouldn't be much longer given the massive waves of tectonic uphevel on below and on the planet's surface. They'd collected almost all of the crew. Difficult to say how many, if any, of the Resistance they'd gathered with them; Vreenak couldn't waste time getting an headcount in that regard. They'd find out when they weren't in immediate danger.

<<Tag Transporter Rooms>>

Marisol's voice came over the comm then reporting warp capability was nearly ready. Very good news. But not enough given their current circumstances. "Helm, set a course out of the atmosphere. Rapid ascent. Prepare evasive manuevers." Perhaps the Borg thought the Hope would be destroyed with the planet, so they hadn't begun orbit bombardment. A serious tactical oversight, especially back when the ship had been grounded. Arrogance not even a Romulan Commander worth anything could measure up to. That or an insult, but then Vreenak had a surprise or two for the Borg if they started a proper fight in orbit.

<<Tag Anam>>

"Vreenak to Engineering, we will need maximum warp as soon as we're out of the atmosphere." On the other hand, better they not use some new tactical advantages unless they had to. There could be a fleeting waiting for them above, and even the bolstered shields couldn't take on that many cubes. He kept a careful eye on the sensors, ready to snap the shields into place when necessary; he'd give the transporters every second they could spare to get people off the planet.

<<Tag Marisol, Transporter Rooms>>
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby aufarooqui » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:34 am

Ensign Anam Farooqi,
Helm Officer, USS Hope


Cmdr. Vreenak wrote: Helm, pass over the village. Close as possible. Avoid the debris and the energy beam.


As Vreenak gave orders like a boss from the early Industrial Age, Anam noted it was his first time under Vreenak's sharp command. His orders were to pass over the village, the epicenter of destruction, but simultaneously avoid debris -- two seemingly exclusive tasks, but that's exactly what he would have to do.

Anam's instincts in such a situation were to hide, as it was better to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds, and fight another day. Except, they would all be dead if under this strategy; if the ground didn't break up beneath them, an overwhelmingly powerful force was attacking above. Fight-or-flight were not two equal options here.The planet's crust was giving way to the mantle, lava rushing from the ruptured core.

Lt. Marisol wrote: Helm, set a course out of the atmosphere. Rapid ascent. Evasive maneuvers.


Just as one superior officer ordered him to do something almost impossible, the ship's Chief Engineer announced that they were also to climb fast.

Taking the order literally, he raised the nose of the ship to an almost vertical position, no doubt overclocking the inertial dampeners. He felt his weight increase as he accelerated to gain enough to break free of gravity and prepare for warp as soon as their ascent was complete.

It was smarter anyway to be totally tilted up, he thought. It gave the ship a slimmer profile, as they were less susceptible to falling wreckage. The course plotted twirled the ship around like a double helix going into space, letting the scrap-metal fall where he wasn't going.

It was the hardest thing, keeping an eye on all the little "meteorites" while larger chunks were coming right at you.

Right at you, in the sense that, if you mess this up," he thought, "All your friends are going to die on a planet that won't exist in ten minutes, and forever be stardust."

In particular, there were two 'meteors' -- he told himself to stop calling them "meteors", but it was easier than calling them "incendiary objects" -- two falling objects on a collision course with them, and he couldn't dodge them both at the same time. With milliseconds to think, he halted the Intrepid in mid-air, the G-forces causing her to feel heavier during free fall.

The two asteroids made a spectacular explosion in front of them, so total that only particles of fine powder rained upon them, not the medium-sized rocks he expected would at least scratch the hull.

He started moving out of the atmosphere again, their change in momentum briefly jerking the crew forward.

As they sped from Churn's pull of gravity, Anam looked back to see the Borg village become increasingly smaller. The past few days of shore leave had allowed them a semblance of normality, but they were now reminded of how much Fate expected of them. The formerly lush paradise behind them was undergoing a geological destruction not even the Borg of yesteryear could achieve. Nothing would survive there much longer.

Anam didn't have much time to ponder. If he dodged everything OK, and they weren't killed by whoever was up there, they would be going to warp any minute.
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Re: S02Ep08 Paradise Lost

Postby FSF Sail » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:57 am

Resistance Fleet Commander
Flagship Sphere
Above Churn

“A bit of programming,” he thought. “A lingering bit of code, innocuously tucked into one of a thousand tiny nooks. “Harmless in it’s meaning, and doubtless overlooked when compared to the weightier processes of offsetting madness.” In the world of his past, it was a simple thing that would’ve eventually fallen to a bored young software programmer. “A check box,” he mused, “on a page full of equally dull check boxes. “A minor software patch.”

“Incoming from Z21,” Singh said over his shoulder. “Power and structural failures. Have lost maneuverability. Planet’s gravitational pull is forcing re-entry. We are abandoning ship.”

“Signal the fleet,” he ordered from his position. “Final deployment, geosynchronous positioning directly above the village. What of Hope? Is she away?”

“Position unchanged," the liberated Borg drone, now operations chief, responded.

The deck suddenly pitched beneath their feet. Before the fleet commander, his tactical readout displayed the end game about to commence. “Open my private channel to Logan,” he said calmly. “Fleet status report. We are reduced to one fifth of our strength, assuming defensive positions above the village. You must evacuate, now. Hope must depart immediately. This is my final entry. Good luck.”

<Tag Logan>

Their adversaries had been patient hunters. And, as he considered his part in this destruction, he realized that he’d been a fool. He would not blame the pilots of the scout ship; young people were prone to rash judgments, especially when faced with the discovery of the waiting Borg armada. Sion’s admiral had played it wisely and well; intimately familiar with his own place in the collective, he understood his programming. With knowledge came wisdom, a presence of mind that stayed his hand in favor of the prize. “Not to kill, but to wound.” That decision, simple, yet brilliant, was now the lynchpin of death for the Resistance. Whether through that remnant of innocuous code, or the sheer terror thrust upon untrained young minds, the scout’s crew had immediately raced for the safety of home. Like hounds following the scent of fresh blood, the armada had pursued their quarry….

“Z-7 destroyed,” Singh reported. On the main screen, the last remaining tactical cube of the Resistance fleet now plunged to fiery death in the upper atmosphere. “Two dreadnoughts closing on our position. Sir,” the ops chief offered with a turn of his head. “A third is broken through. It’s taking position above the village..it's firing....primary battery.....into the village.”

"Target all weapons. Instruct the fleet… “ The sheer force of the impacts knocked him to the deck. Within the sphere’s command compartment, lighting flickered. Systems failed; many stayed dark as some began a sluggish reboot. “Report!” the commander ordered above the din as blow upon blow staggered the command sphere.

“Weapons systems offline! Shields offline! Multiple hull breaches…….”

“Sublight drive?”

“Operational to thirty-five percent.”

“Intercept course,” the commander said as he regained his station. “The dreadnought over the village. Ram it.”

Slowly, as the two attackers continued their barrage, the sphere altered course, shuddering as she moved to close upon the armada’s command ship. From a viewscreen which faltered beneath his gaze, the commander watched as one by one, the last of the defenders was driven from the sky above Churn, their flaming corpses raining into the sea and the landscape within sight of the village.

“They’re retargetting their primary battery,” Singh warned.

“Time until impact?”

“Fifty-one seconds.”

“Status of Hope?”

“They have lifted off,” Singh reported. "Swept over the village.....wait a moment.....sir," he said urgently. "Hope has assumed a near vertical escape trajectory. Her present course....."

“....will put her under the guns of every one of the armada. Damn all,” the commander swore under his breath. “Do we have communications?”

“Yes,” Singh nodded, his ocular sending a red beam of light dancing on his own console.

The ship stumbled, as if she’d tripped on a wire. Both liberated Borg and human fleet commander pitched violently into their consoles. Copper in his mouth; the taste of blood from a split lip registered. “Open a channel to Hope,” he ordered as the blood was wiped onto a sleeve.

“Sir, we’ve been forbidden….”

“That doesn’t matter now,” the commander shot back. “Open it.”

The main screen flickered, then spun, before locking an image of a crisp Federation starship’s bridge. He knew the names, the faces, in particular that of the commanding officer. On the screen, the Romulan officer regarded him with curiosity, then a subtle flash of recognition. “There is no time,” the Fleet commander said amid the flames and collapse of his own bridge. “Vreenak, you're climbing into the center of a large Borg armada. Roll out ninety degrees horizontal; go to warp, immed….”

<Tag Vreenak>

Struck by a thundering volley, the overhead structure collapsed. All power failed, sending the command deck into darkness punctuated only by gouts of spark and flame. Collapsing bulkhead smashed his console before him. He raised his arms to fend off the wreckage, whose force drove him to the deck once more. A wrenching crack, felt more than heard, announced the fracture of his right bicep. For a moment, he took cover beneath the shattered console. He listened. The enemy fire had stopped. The drone of systems was winding down, leaving only the sound of collapse, failure, and the high pitched whine of venting gas. Their battle was done. They were dying. "Abandon ship," he ordered, his voice a croak. "All hands, abandon ship..." There was no way of telling if his order had been heard by those left of the crew. “Parminder,” he called out for his ops chief. The fleet commander rose to his feet, only to learn that he’d apparently suffered an ankle fracture during the final collapse. In the distance, a man’s groan could be heard; he crawled, pushing with his good leg in the direction of what once had been operations. “Parminder……Parminder,” he said again.

The ops chief lay face down, his body mangled by the force of a ceiling bulkhead that had actually pushed him through his console to the deck below. Flesh and assimilation artifice hung in bloody ribbons from a face whose skull was revealed down the left temple. That he was alive at all was miraculous.

“Parminder,” the commander whispered. “I’ll get you out.”

“I am already free,” his companion said. “I go to meet Akal Purakh.”

Who was he to argue? Even now, as a violent roaring sound arose to herald their own fiery atmospheric reentry, he understood there was no need to debate spirituality at this point. In a moment, they’d both have the answer to the great mystery. Parminder Singh was convinced of meeting the god of his Sikh heritage, in his own indoctrinated version of paradise. As for his commander, if there truly was an omnipotent being and a final dispensation of justice, he’d settle for nothing less than the harshest sort of afterlife punishment to be had. Yet, having had the experience of dying once before, he felt only the hope that this time, he wouldn’t be scooped up as some bastard’s laboratory project. “We’ll wait together, my friend,” the commander said as he took the dying man’s hand. He could feel the ship rolling, the roar of flame engulfing her remnants as she fell into the air of Churn. “I hope we land in the sea,” he said. "Did I ever tell you that I used to love sailing?"

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