Written By Cylapse
"You know I've been thinking..." a voice came as he went to turn out the lights.
Shapiro spun around in full force and took a swing at the thin air. No one?... No... the Wynkaaran... Slowly, Lexter faded from against the far wall and approached without hesitation.
"You..." he responded. "Don't you think you're overstepping your boundaries breaking in here? You might have been shot. In fact..." Shapiro had been moving in aphrension, his hands finding their way to a small holster strapped to his nightstand. "That possibility still exists... What are you doing here?" he asked, training his weapon on the Wynkaaran's chest.
"The fact that you're holding me at gunpoint suggests that you know exactly why I am here. A favor for a favor? Tit for tat? Those were your own words, no? You had me handle your dirty work, and as I mentioned, I've been thinking..."
"About Nash?..." Shapiro queried, adjusting the output on his weapon.
"Precisely. I was rather amused when I spoke with the Captain regarding what went down in Engineering while I was... 'repairing the Hyperdrive'..."
"Faro took the fall, the Doctor agreed that Nash's body was too badly incinerated for him to deduce otherwise. Which was a nice touch, by the way." Shapiro replied. "Faro was a mistake, regardless." he stated instinctively.
"What does that mean?" the Wynkaaran sneered, curious as to the integrity of the man in charge of their safety. Shapiro's response was labored, as at first, he did not know.
"Soldier-wise." Shaprio blurted eventually.
"He was an engineer." the Wynkaaran just laughed.
"He's been through my cross-training, Lexter." A sound reply, but at this point, pointless... he pondered if the Wynkaaran was hiding there when he killed Faro. No, he had to have at some point repaired the drive, however minor Faro's sabotage may have been... he would roll the dice. "When we were down there, Faro aimed and fired, and he would have got me, as I was still taking aim. What stopped him was the fact that he didn't know how to properly operate the rifle he took. As he released the safety, I released him." he lied about Faro, but his expression covered it well, as this lie in turn covered up a subconscious one.
"That is really of no relevance. I am speaking of Nash, and not of my--Faro's killing of him, but rather, of the orders you gave to him. Nash was low level security, yes?" Lexter stared in spite of the pistol now being leveled at his head.
"Yes", came the simple, uttered response of the Tactical Officer.
"Then perhaps you could explain to me, Commander..." the Wynkaaran began... "Why the security logs indicated that you granted him level 7 clearance to select engineering and security databases..."
"They don't say that..." Shapiro smiled.
"Ah but they did, before you altered them... You seem to think that because you are the Chief of Security on this vessel, that you understand it better than its own Engineer. That computer you use, it is primarily Wynkaaran in design, and you'd be surprised what one of us, or.. one of you with real training on the matter could do with one."
"So then what now?..." Shapiro didn't have much to say.
"Tell me why you granted him the access...and then ordered him to move from station to station, gathering data and downloading it to a bunch of crystals that you knew would never get past me. It was really all quite cute when I read the crewman's own personal logs. How excited he was about this personal assignment from his commanding officer. Of course, before it was deleted. Naturally, I felt a little guilty after ripping out his voicebox, so I did a little bed-time reading on the restored data sectors." Lexter winked with a grin, revealing six incisors. "Now why would you set him up and then come ask me to track him down with propaganda that he is a spy?"
"No, that much you don't need to know... what you do need to know is that you have one on me and I have one on you. And come to think of it, I have two on you." Shapiro smiled, referring to the pistol.
"Tit for tat, hmm?" the Wynkaaran's smile faded just as fast as his body did, before Shapiro's gun was slapped clean across the room. The Commander clutched a new wound in his former weapon hand as the door to his quarters slid open."
"Be seeing you around, Commander." came an unseen voice before the door closed.
"Captain's log, stardate 2414.6. While on route to Iolo III, we've decided to make a quick stop off in the Xiban system to pick up some additional crewmen. Fifteen new transfers will be coming aboard, as previously we had been operating under somewhat of a skeleton crew. We are preparing to exit Hyperspace shortly, through the established Hyperspace-Xiban warp point for power-consumption purposes. I'm told that using our jump-drive at this point would drain far too much and may actually add time to our arrival. Also scheduled at the space yard is the installation of the prototype reactor I've been hearing so much about from Lexter. Although I can't say I like being among the first to test it under extremely long missions, it is nice to know that fuel isn't a major issue..."
Captain Caid walked out of his ready room and onto the bridge, casting an even glance along the faces and stations of his crew before stepping up to his command chair and claiming his post.
"Report." he queried, simple and direct. As he spoke, the viewscreen was lit with the gorgeous view of an active warp-point.
"We are standing by to jump, Captain." came the stern reply of Ensign Connor, the ship's pilot.
"Then lets waste no time...take us through, Ensign, 3000 kph - nice and steady. And take heed, we do mine that warp-point." the Captain relaxed in his chair, his eyes glancing first to Larece before landing finally upon Ensign Syra. "I heard the comm was down for inspection, you wanna take an early break?"
The 19-year old was delighted at the chance and nodded, before closing her station and excusing herself from the bridge. As she walked by, she caught the wandering eyes of Lt Larece and concealed a smile. Officer Hudgens, who was assigned to tactical, had caught it as well.
Ensign Syra was walking down the halls to her quarters, when she was stopped dead in her tracks by the imposing presence of the very tall Dr Vega.
"Cadence Syra..." he spoke, still wearing his white surgical gown.
"Doctor." She couldn't help but feel nervous...this tall bastard stood in her way and addressed her by first name.
"I was wondering if you could perhaps provide a little insight as to when the Comm-System might be back online?" Vega inquired, taking a lumbering step forward.
"Sorry, its been disabled for all crew members. We think someone may have been tampering with it, and my personal advice would be that you avoid it altogether, to avoid any wrongful suspicion." She stepped to one side, averting him.
"Of course, thank you for your time, Ensign." The doctor moved away, his eyes scanning along her backside as she continued hastily down the corridor.
The Xephyr's engines lit to life and sent it gliding through the warp point, offering the bridge a majestic view of the mesmerizing light-show surrounding them. An extremely low-level shield was employed to protect them from the energetic effects as they passed from one point to the other, and a brilliant flash could be seen behind them as the Xephyr soared away from the exit point.
Behind it, the warp-point stayed wide-open, fluctuating slightly. The Captain watched this on the viewer and shot an odd look at Lt Larece. Only seconds later did a large explosion of mines erupt at the warp point, followed in turn by the powerless de-cloaking of a huge Amon'Krie vessel, its hull aflame with plasma leaks.
Caid stood from his chair and cast an iron stare to Officer Hudgens.
"Shields to full, arm the Cold-Fusion Cannons." He took a step forward, pausing to watch their apparent stalker loom forward as its hull fires died. "Connor, Full stop, turn us around."
"Cannons Armed and locked on-target." came Hudgen's sharp reply... Finally, it was his chance to fire.
The Amon'Krie vessel, "Sazzik", as it was marked on the side, thrusted forward, still under self-power as it raised its own set of defensive shields. Two torpedos were launched in immediate succession, rapidly finding their way towards the Xephyr's forward hull plating. Point defense strips were lit to life, ready to strike an arc of energy up at the opposing projectiles, but they were useless. The torpedos didn't even register on their targetting proximity as they collided with violent rage into the Xephyr's shields.
The vessel shook internally, and its Captain was thrown back into his chair. He rose to his feet and grabbed hold of a nearby brace bar.
"Change of plan, arm the Shield Sapper and hold off on Fusion Cannons. Helm, take us in on a collision course. Hudgens, return fire."
Smooth and well-rehearsed, the crew went to work. The shield depleter came to bear upon its target and released an easy, non-violent stream of blueish white light which went to work on the Sazzik's shields, draining the power and parsing it uselessly into space. As the Xephyr closed in, two enemy turrets locked on and fired, assaulting it with a steady barrage of meson bursts.
Its shields flickered and arced in response, and Caid thanked himself for grabbing the support bar. He turned to Hudgens for an update on their enemy, just as the familiar hum of the Shield Depeleter's reload sounded.
"No need." Hudgens offered, nearly reading the Captain's mind. "It's shields are failing, and may fall at the first sign of stress."
"Then let's give it to em." Caid began, as they neared the range of 2000 meters. "Lock-on both Fusion cannons...Fire. Connor, you know what to do."
1000 meters had passed in that short time, and the vessel started to dip up at the Captain's request. Under Hudgen's control, the two Cold-Fusion cannons acquired their target and ignited, firing an intense purple stream of unstable energy into the bow of the Amon'Krie battleship. The twin beams cut through its armor like a knife through butter, a bi-product of the Wynkaaran's advanced beam physics. Caid watched as a cascade of explosions were set off, caused by a rather well-timed shot from Hudgens. Amidst the new spacial fires, a pair of unseen objects came towards them.
"Torpedo alert!" Hudgens had shouted, but all too late. The ship rocked again, and its shields went down. Caid heard the indicative tone and cringed, knowing that at this point it was all on the armor.
"What's our status?" He asked, before another series of Meson's flashed against the ship's hull.
"They've still got claws!" Hudgens replied, trying to target his cannons on the remaining enemy weapons. He was unsuccessful, but thought he could manage a close-enough shot to at least cut off their power supply. "Ready to fire on command, sir."
"Hudgens." The Captain began... "Fire at will, and next time I'll be sure to state that fact first." Caid winked, knowing that Shapiro wouldnt have even needed to be told.
Hudgens responded and let loose with the Cannons, this time far more successful as the fusion streams dug their way deep into the Sazzik's weapons array...Meson blasters down. Now for the torpeods. The Xephyr was now gliding away from the Amon'Krie vessel due to Caid's orders, but it made a majestic turn and swung around into a battle pose once more. The Captain watched his viewer with dark intent, prompting his opponent to make a move. Instead the flaming wreckage just sat there, as if eternally loading its torpedos.
"Shall I take us in?" Connor asked, the young blond kid was rather brash at times, but the fear of battle must have scolded him today.
"Absolutely not." Caid replied, watching with enthrallment. Something is wrong over there. Did you see what we did to them when they let us get that close? I'm not falling for my own ploys." No later did he utter those words than did the Amon'Krie trigger a self-destruct device, offering a sudden shockwave to the Xephyr and outward, where it barely touched the atmosphere of Xiban VI.
The Captain turned and surveyed his crew before allowing a solemn nod towards Hudgens.
"Stand us down from Alert status, resume course to Xiban I. Since the comm is still down, the local outposts are gonna havta wait for an explaination. I'll be in my ready room, keep me posted." And he turned and walked from the bridge, leaving Larece in command.
Doctor Vega screamed at the viewport, smashing his fists against it in a vain attempt to shatter the plexi-glass like material. Before his very eyes lied the destruction of his one chance home; the Sazzik. His fellow operatives had kept him company through this ordeal, and ensured his survival in the presence of these...humans.
Ughh and this face. He cupped it in fake, human hands and wanted to cry. He had been acting as a spy onboard for the past two months and the Sazzik had rode along undetected, sometimes near, sometimes far, always within reach if ever he were detected. And now... now, it was gone. Gone because a little trick had a little ear-bleed and they took the comm offline to 'investigate'... He could have warned them. He should have known sooner, about the mines, but had not considered it. If he did make it home to the Amon'Krie, his people, he would surely be killed at the word of this disgrace... But where to go now? To live this life on a ship with his enemies? To heal them when they get wounded killing his people? No... never.
He left the Infirmary and entered a the lift, touching his hand to the access panel.
Shapiro had just gone back to bed, his mind fresh on the violence the ship had just reportedly undertaken. His encounter with Lexter left him nervous and on edge, so the gun had moved from a nightstand holster to a warm home under his pillow. Current events aside, he was apparently the only one onboard still experiencing nightmares or hallucenations, now that they had left the ominous black cloud a day before.
Repeated dreams of a cold white light above him, and a mask coming down over his face, a pain in his neck... a struggle, followed by a calm submissive state of sleep...he opened his eyes and found himself in Engineering, a short, very familiar hallway ending in a small room. Below him stood Faro, beckoning wildly in surrender... he blinked and Faro had risen to his feet, now holding a rifle as a clear and obvious threat. Shapiro realized that he himself had a rifle, so took no pause in opening fire, through the head, as he had done before... And as the trigger pulled, he blinked again, an accident, but it revealed Faro on the ground after all, crying for Mercy. It was much too late, the beam was on its way home...and just as it had happened before, in crisp clarity, it happened again...
At that point, he sat up in a heaving pant and realized that sleep was not an option.
Caid laid back in his ready room, idley fingering the edges of a slender throwing knife. A soft tone sounded at the door and he unlocked it via a small control panel. In walked Shapiro, looking like a dead man.
"There a problem, Commander?" Caid smiled, as he had not seen his friend much since the incident with Faro and Nash.
"I feel like a damn wreck, Jarren. I aint even sleepen right anymore. Before I thought it was coz of that damned cloud but now?... I may have to go ask the Doc, maybe he can prescribe me something."
"I can prescribe ya somethen." The Captain laughed, withdrawing a fatly rolled spliff from behind his ear. "But I'd prefer to wait until we arrived on Xiban, as the ventilation systems on the ship need a few adjustments before I can get away with any of my... stress relief." He smiled, running the spliff under his nose with an inhale. "But maybe you should talk to the doctor. I'll bring restricted access to the Comm back online, give him a call and let him know to get his ass back on duty."
"Thanks Cap, I'll catchya around." Shapiro nodded and slipped out, part of him wishing they'd get to Xiban already... maybe that's all he needed, a nice rest under a fresh sky...
Tools were thrown hastilly into a large storage bag, as the frantic doctor worked to clean out his make-shift lab on Deck 12. He hadn't planned on keeping it up for much longer than another month or so, and now it was all cut short. What to do, what to do. He couldn't hold this charade for much longer. He placed 3 micro-charges on key areas of the room, as a last resort. He wouldn't detonate them yet, of course not, but if anything happened, any remaining Amon'Krie technology wouldn't fall into the wrong hands.
He threw the bag over his shoulder and let out a heavy sigh before locking the room behind him. Just then his comm chirped, it was the Captain. So convenient of them to re-activate it for his purposes.
"This is Doctor Vega. How can I assist?"
"Please be prepared to accept a patient, Dylan Shapiro." the Captain stated.
"The Commander?" Dr Vega couldn't help but smile. "Anytime." He closed the link and pondered that he may well get one last chance with his experiments. He patted the bag and continued on his way to the Infirmary.
"Damn Doc... Its irritating to explain. They are just the same sick dreams, over and over... But they are like... fucked up versions of things I've already been through, nothing new..." Shapiro looked up at a cold white light, it rather disturbed him. "They aint stopped since I came to you last time. What was that you gave me? Liocine?..."
The doctor lowered his eyes a bit, looking into a small readout as he feigned a scan of Shapiro's neural pathways. In reality, he wanted to know what went wrong, why the 'dreams' were coming out in the first place. His compounds should have been suppressing them. Shapiro must have been more resistant to their effects.
"Yes, Liocene. Please, try not to move... I'm going to give you an anesthetic." Vega stated calmly.
"No you're not." Shapiro sat up, to be met with Vega's large arms restraining him. "I neither need nor want any damned anesthetic - didn't you hear my problem? Sleeping scares the shit out of me. Wild dreams that make me feel like a coward, and you wanna put me under? Sorry Doc, no dice..."
Vega's irritation was rising. Already his mind had wandered to his crewmates aboard the Sazzik, and he wanted little more than to see a similar fate befall the Xephyr...just...not while he was onboard. Perhaps Xiban I posed more of an opportunity than he had considered, especially now, with Shapiro in his hands...
"Very well, Commander. No anesthetic." He stepped away and opened the storage bag he had previously packed before returning to his patient. "We'll do this the hard way." A huge hand was placed over Shapiro's mouth as the needle made its way deep into the veins in his neck... His leg kicked in desperation at the metal table, and as he slipped into subconsciousness, looking up at a light and a surgeon's mask, it all came together.
"Lieutenant Larece to Captain Caid." Bernadette called through the internal comm.
"Caid here, whats up?"
"We've docked with the Xiban space yards, they report that they are now ready to accept visitors and departees." the Lieutenant offered.
"Excellent, inform the crew. They have until morning before we depart, make sure they know when the deadline is. Also, see to it that the fifteen new recruits find their way to the their quarters."
"Absolutely." she replied, closing the link.
Now that the comm was officially active for a while, he decided to make more use of it. Radio silence always irritated him, as he could not simply issue commands from afar.
"Caid to Lexter, please respond." he prompted. There came no response.
"This is the Captain to the Chief Engineer, respond." Nothing.
Lexter meanwhile had been cloaked and stalking Shapiro, and was at that very moment witnessing quite a spectacle... Vega had been pumping the young Commander full of unknown fluids and whispering to him, almost coddling him, as if speaking to a child. Simply and slowly, incurring the most basic of emotional responses. He was much more active now, even uttering barely audible replies to the doctor.
"I know, I know... and its okay..." came the voice of Vega. "Just listen...it'll all make sense when its over..." Vega turned his head for a moment, looking right at the Wynkaaran yet seeing through him...he squinted as he had thought he heard something, seemingly peering at nothing in the dark.
"Now listen to me Dylan... I need some security clearances, are you feeling well enough to walk now...?" A mild groan was his retort.
"Good boy, now upsie daisey, here we go..." He lifted the staggering Shapiro to his feet, who in turn fell against the surgical tray, sending a number of needles and fluid packs sprawling to the floor. "Damnit Dylan, this is not becoming of my hours of hard work. Get up!"
The entrance to the Infirmary hissed wide open, revealing an empty hallway. Vega panicked and jetted for the door to seal it, knowing damn well he had just recently locked it. Behind him came a heavy source of heat, and as a breath befell his shoulder, he spun around and thrust a needle into the camoflauged stomach of Lexter...he groaned loudly and a gradual change in colors ensued, bringing him into clearer sight.
Vega snatched up his bag and then released Shapiro's particle pistol from its holster, firing twice at the blurry Wynkaaran, who absorbed both shots before slumping over in a bloody pile on the floor.
"Open your eyes, Mr Lexter..." it was the voice of a young nurse. He strained a bit before lifting himself out of bed, his near-transparent eyes changing hues while adjusting to the light.
"Miss Lady-Nurse, where are we?" he squinted again, unsure of his surroundings.
"Xiban Space Yards, Medical Trauma Ward II." She responded. "The Captain insisted that we not use the Xephyr's Infirmary for your wounds. You took quite a bit of damage in there. We've patched you up though, and for remaining in clear sight during most of the surgery, you did rather well." She smiled down at him. "You're free to go..."
"If its all the same to you, I think I'd rather lay here for a few minutes... How is Shapiro?" the Wynkaaran laid back down and closed his eyes.
"He's been through the the Detox Ward and has been sent back to the ship, last I heard he was okay... Since you're staying in my ward, Mr Wynkaaran, I could perhaps... keep you company?"
Lexter offered an honest smile and nodding in reply before allowing himself the measure of comfort needed to relax...
"All Passengers, we are now prepping for our landing on Xiban I. Remember ladies and gentlemen, that our departure time will be in 14 hours to return to the ship. To those crewman that will not be returning with us, we wish you a good transfer and look forward to working with you again..." Came the voice over the shuttle's intercom...
Vega listened with an ironic smile. So he had failed with Shapiro as well as Faro, at least it wasn't all bad. He had covered his tracks fairly well up until that point. And now it was time to start a new life. The smile of a younger crew member caught his eye and he shifted seats to speak with her.
"Doctor Vega is the name. Haven't I seen you before? Ensign... Yarovich?" The young woman smiled, seemingly flattered that he knew her name.
"Yes, you helped me with my nightmares..." she replied.
"They haven't been recurring, have they?..."
"Not at all..." a simple smile surfaced at her lips.
"Excellent..." he returned her smile and offered a wink as well, patting his cargo bag as the shuttle descended onto the surface of Xiban I...
Written By Cylapse
Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.
Published on: 2004-05-12 (4408 reads)[ Go Back ] - [ Fan Fiction ] - [ Content Home ]