TEASER: THEY ALWAYS TRAVEL BY NIGHT
"You can't just leave us here!" Captain Alan Horowitz cried out as the last of the Jem'Hadar soldiers beamed away. Begging to his oppressors was his last hope of saving his crew. Ever since he and the crew of the U.S.S. Motsumoto had been captured by the Dominion and brought to this prison camp, he had done as much as he could to keep his peoples' hopes alive.
But now, it was all for nothing. He could hear the screams of his friends outside the bunker, trying to fight off the infected prisoners. The Dominion had officially abandoned the facility, and they were going to leave the rest of them to die a slow and horrifying death.
He had just made it to the weapons locker, when one of his crewmen came with a report.
"Status, Ensign Hanson." He ordered, not even turning to look at her.
"Donaldson, Hyde, Kyrock, and Marcus are dead. Porter and Anderson are infected. We had most of them contained, until the Jem'Hadar blew the power station."
"My God! The forcefields!"
She nodded. "They're all off-line. We've got the front part of the facility locked down, but it looks like they'll break the barricades by sunrise. Once that happens, they'll be no containing them."
Captain Horowitz handed the Ensign a bag. "Here. Load up as many weapons as you can. Tell the rest of the survivors to fall back to the shuttle."
"But the plasma storms won't let us off the planet."
"We're gonna have to use it as a surface vehicle. Either way, we need to pull way from 'ground zero' and regroup."
Ensign Hanson zipped up the full weapons bag. "Do you think the outbreak is contained?"
"I'm hoping it's an isolated incident. But we can't be sure."
Just then, the explosion rocked the compound, followed by a crowd of screams.
Horowitz grew impatient. "Get the others to the shuttle! Now!"
The Ensign grew worried. "But Captain…"
"Damnit Gabrielle, you need to go! If I'm not out there in fifteen minutes, take off without me! I'm officially promoting your field rank to Commander. You'll assume command in my absence. If I'm still alive, I'll rendezvous with you at the specified coordinates!"
With that, the Ensign grabbed a hand phaser and made her way out through the doorway.
The Captain took a second to gather his self and continued to fill the two remaining weapons bags.
That's when he heard the strange sound coming from the nearest window, and saw three sets of red glowing orbs, which appeared from the darkness.
He grabbed a phaser rifle, just as the window exploded inward…
ACT 1: REUNION
CAPTAIN'S LOG: Mia Gan'An-War Recording . . .
After a 3 day shakedown run, the newly refitted Helix has arrived at the Federation outpost, Deep Space Nine for weapons and crew deployment. It's been almost two years since I've seen the rest of Team Helix in the flesh. Unfortunately, our first mission back, won't be a pleasure cruise…
... END TRANSMISSION
Eric Beckett sat at a table in the upper deck of Quark's bar. He periodically took deep breaths and soaked in the surroundings as if experiencing a new sensation. After all, he'd been in a correctional facility for the past three years, serving a life sentence, so he never expected to experience the luxury of freedom.
A week before, he got a visit from a salty Trill, named Kyle K'Nar, who offered him a chance to serve out his sentence as a member of a mercenary team. Since he spent the better part of his life doing just that, it was an obvious choice. He was then, given a sparse uniform and put on, and transported to Deep Space Nine, where he was instructed to wait in Quark's bar for further information.
"You made it." A voice called from behind him. He turned in his seat to see Kyle approaching and grabbing the chair across from him.
"You sound surprised." He replied finishing off the root beer he had been sipping for the past 30 minutes.
"No, just thankful. It took a lot of strings to get you out."
"And I appreciate it. Now, for the big question. Why?"
Kyle just stared at the man, for a second. How could he tell him that he fought alongside him in an alternate universe--- that he was a mythical being called the Borg Slayer, who gave his life to help restore the timeline. "Let's just say… you remind me of someone I knew. Besides, we're short a crew member, and you're the best replacement I could find."
The Black man smiled. "Good enough for me."
Kyle stood. "Well, it's time to meet the rest of the gang…"
Kyle and Eric entered a conference room to find four others waiting for them. All eyes quickly fell on Eric, who smiled nervously. He knew if this situation didn't work out, he would be promptly returned to prison.
The Vulcan woman stood and extended her hand with a smile. "Hi Eric. Welcome to the team."
Eric exhaled. "Thank you."
"You've pretty much been in contact with the rest of the crew through communications, so I'm sure no real introductions are in order."
"No Ma'am. I'm ready to get to work."
"Good." She activated the viewscreen. "Because Section 31 is ready to throw us to the wolves."
A holographic image of a planet system appeared.
Mia started her briefing. "With the exception of Ian and the Doc., the rest of us have been out of commission since the Dominion War's heated up. From what I've heard, Starfleet has taken a lot of casualties. So, our first mission will be a rescue effort. About a day's travel from the Delta Quadrant wormhole, there's a four-planet system, which rests inside of a nebula. Section Intelligence reports that the second planetoid is used as a Dominion POW camp. They're speculating that a good number of Starfleet officers are being held there, and it's our job to go in and investigate."
Kyle interrupted. "That sounds like a long way to go without any backup. Are we up for it?"
Tash took over the briefing, pulling an image of their ship from the database. "I've given the Helix a full diagnostic. It seems the Section's refit is pretty impressive. Although the internal structure is the same, the hull structure has been change to resemble a Valiant-Class Starship."
"Will that hamper performance?" Ian asked.
"She's not as maneuverable as before, but she makes up for it in firepower. The cloak and weapon systems are at 96% efficiency. If we run into any problems, we should be able to handle ourselves."
"Are we strictly reckon, or will we also provide rescue effort?" Eric added.
Mia focused on him. "At this point, it's just reckon. But if need be, the Helix can compliment a crew of 120, so there should be enough room for evac. I read your file, and it says you were a reckon specialist."
Eric grinned. "32 mission with no casualties."
Mia smiled. "Good, cause you're gonna be beaming down to the camp. Tash will provide tactical information, and we'll scope out the place. If it looks workable, we'll transport the prisoners to safety and destroy the camp."
Tash continued. "The only obstacle, will be the planet's volatile atmosphere, which will only give us a small window to beam you in and out. I' m guessing, a 6-hour gap between windows."
"Then that will have to do." Mia stood. "Since Captain Sisko was gracious enough to give us guest quarters, we'll grab some rest and depart at 0400 hours tomorrow. Dismissed."
As the other started the leave, Kyle stayed in his chair, staring at his Captain. As soon as everyone left, Mia broke the ice.
"O.K. I haven't seen you for awhile, but I know that look all too well. What's wrong?"
"I think beaming down with Eric is a mistake. It would be better if you went down with Tash or me."
"'Not an option. I need Tash at tactical for options, and you at command, just in case we get unexpected company. Besides, you wanted him with this team. If he's everything you say he is, then he has to pull his weight."
Kyle wanted to argue the point, but he knew why she was so, aggravated by Eric's presents. "Mia, I didn't bring him in to… replace Alex. That's not the case."
"But that's what he's doing, isn't it?" she almost lost her composure, but saw the hurt in his eyes. "You're still blaming yourself for what happened, aren't you?"
Kyle turned away and walked to the portal, to stare at the stars. "I was there when it happened. I should've reacted faster. When that drone re-assimilated him on the sphere, I should've moved faster to stop it."
Mia walked to him and gave put a hand on his big shoulder. "That's the same thing I use to think when he was first assimilated. But I realized there's nothing I could've done to stop it."
"I know. But we lost Alex in a routine reckon operation two years ago." He turned to face his Captain. "That was suppose to be an easy assignment. I just don't want us to make the same mistake twice."
She smiled and gave him a light pat on the cheek. "Relax, Kyle. It's a textbook operation…"
"…that's behind enemy lines…"
"We've done this a million times before. What could possibly go wrong?"
ACT 2: THINGS POSSIBLY GO WRONG
Rashaan knew her leg was broken.
She had made her way into the prison supply bunker hoping to find a few rations of food to bring back to her family. The thirteen year old girl traveled through the underground conduit system hoping to avoid the ‘things' that walked above ground. She was pretty sure that none of them were in the bunker because the only opening was a small window, and they were known to smash their way into places.
She had found more than she expected. Rows and rows of stored vegetables, even replicated meat. But as she began to fill up her backpack, one of the phaser-riddled support beams from overhead gave away. She saw the piece of metal collapse and quickly jumped out of the way, but not fast enough. The giant metal structure slammed on top of her leg. More beams fell until she was encased in a prison of debris.
Immobilized and trapped, she knew they were gonna find her soon...
"Will you please hold still?" Mia said trying to examine the large gash on Eric's forehead. He flinched when the damaged medical tricorder started scanning the wound. "You don't have a concussion, but I can't tell if there's any other damage from the cave in."
"I feel fine." Eric replied slowly standing up in the small underground cave. He glanced over at Mia who appeared to be disoriented. "You're shaking." he said.
"Damn right!" she replied in a paranoid tone, constantly looking behind them. "That thing tried to bite me!"
"I hope this isn't what you meant about a routine operation."
"No. Running from monsters isn't something we usually do on the job."
" What's our next move?" Eric asked.
Mia thought for a few seconds. "Nothing else we can do, but follow this cave to the end. It looks manmade, so hopefully it leads to some type of security area, possibly holding cells."
"But what if more of those things are in there?" Eric checked his phaser. "We've got to assume that the others must be changed also. And our weapon charges are down to almost nothing."
Mia started walking. "We have no choice. We got roughly 5 hours until the Helix is able to retrieve us. The plasma storms are going to make it impossible for them to locate us in these tunnels. The command center has to have some type of transmission equipment. We'll have to improvise when we get there."
They start quickly moving forward through the tunnels, unaware that their sealed entrance was slowly being torn down behind them.
Three figures swaggered across the lower level of the bunker. Rashaan could see the lower parts of their legs through her prison of metal. One wore a pair of faded pants, which were shredded at the ankles. Its shoes had no soles. Just the ankle supports remained. The next one was either wearing shorts or naked. She could see muscle tissue through its nearly worn skin, along with a series of dark green tendons which seems to navigate the corpses every twitch and movement. The last one wore crude sandals and cut off pants which, had fallen to its feet.
Rashaan knew to stay still. She was taught that they could see moving objects in the dark with clarity. But if you could stay still, there was a chance that they would pass you up...
...that is, if they didn't smell you.
One of them stopped in front her.
She held her breath...
"Did you hear something?" Mia said stopping in her tracks and turning around.
Eric did the same. "Yeah. Where'd it come from?"
"Behind us." she answered slowly raising for phaser. "They must've gotten through the barricade somehow. Seven feet of rubble…"
"…what could possibly go wrong?" Eric mumbled sarcastically under his breathe.
"What was that?"
"Uh, I said: It was only a matter of time." Eric grabbed his partner by the arm. "Come on. Let's get moving. I don't want to be here when they catch up."
The creature's crimson orbs peered into the mass of metal pieces, which held Rashaan prisoner. It's nose sniffed around the area from top to bottom, but Rashaan didn't make a sound. Her heart was ready to explode from fear as the creature scratched at the structure as if trying to force its prey into revealing itself. But the little girl stayed still; her breath barely escaping through nostrils; just like the father had taught her.
Seconds seemed like minutes as the creature just stared in the space she occupied. Saliva dripped from its foul mouth through the openings onto Rashaan's cheek, yet she didn't make a sound.
Ultimately, the creature's red eyes blinked, and then seemed to disappear. She heard the shuffle of feet start to fade in the distance.
‘They're gone?' she thought to herself. ‘THEIR GONE! I can't believe it. I though for sure I was a goner'. As she calmed down, the trauma began to turn into fatigue. ‘If I can stay still until morning, I can make it to the sewer.'
She quietly let out a soft exhale-- a silent breath, which seemed to echo in her little prison of scraps.
That's when all hell broke loose...
Eric and Mia reached the end of the cavern, which turned out to be large metal door. Mia quickly used the tricorder to scan the barricade. Eric took a few steps back into cave to keep watch.
"It has a Dominion-standard locking mechanism. It shouldn't be too hard to break." Mia said.
"Well, you better get to it. I think we have company." Eric could hear the sound of their pursuers grew nearer. Faint shadows started to move along the walls. Eric quickly checked his depleted phaser and boosted the charge to maximum.
"Got it." Mia said as the door swung open and they quickly went through. The roars of anger became louder in the cave, just as Mia reset the locking mechanism on the door and it swung closed. "The sequence is set. Unless they know how to break Borg encryption codes, we ought to be safe for now. Where are we?"
"I don't know." Eric replied. They both walked further into the darkened area. "It looks like a supply bunker." Rows of empty shelves ran along the rockface walls of the manmade cavern. The remnants of prisoner supplies and technology were scattered everywhere. Eric came to the conclusion that whoever was there must've been in a big hurry to leave. "You getting any readings?"
"Hold on a second. The Tricorder's going out on me." Mia slapped the small device several time until the display was active again. She slowly turned 360 degrees trying to get a reading from the jury-rigged thing. "Wait." she stopped. "I got something. A series of strange bio readings, about 50 kilometers in...."
Suddenly, there was a scream, which made both of them flinch. "That was a kid!" Mia said quickly dashing off without warning. Eric tightened her grip on his phaser and followed closely.
Metal pieces rained down on Rashaan as the creature slashed and punched at her makeshift prison. Screaming was all she could do at the moment.
The creatures were going to make her one of them.
A decayed hand finally found its way through the mesh of rubble and grabbed her by the neck. It quickly grappled firmly and began to pull her up. The devilish orbs of the demon began to glow brighter as the creature mumbled its hunger pains. It screamed and its saliva sprayed in Rashaan's eyes.
It seemed to be the end, but just as Rashaan thought she screamed her last cry, she heard the sound of energy weapons. Green and purple flashes flickered through her prison.
The creature's hand loosened up and her lifeless body dropped to the floor. She let out another huge scream before falling unconscious from utter fatigue.
"Mia, take the three on the left!" Eric yelled as he fired two shots at the creature closest to him. He could tell it use to be a Bajoran woman. But now, it was something horrible. The left side of its head was caved in, leaving it with no jaw bone. Its left hand was half gone, but it wielded the protruding bone like a lance. It moved quickly and swung its weapon at Eric's chest. He stumbled backwards and fell onto a shelf. Without acknowledging the pain, he quick aimed his phaser at the creature's head and fired off a quick shot. The energy beam hit it between the eyes with a thunder explosion, which left the thing with no head. It stumbled for a quick second, and then fell lifelessly to the ground.
"Aim for the head!" Mia heard Eric say. But he didn't know her weapon's charge had run out when they made it into the cave. She had to improvise, quickly putting her training sessions with Kyle to good use.
As three creatures attacked simultaneously, she dropped to a squatted position and performed a 360 degree leg sweep, which sent her attackers to the ground. She then quickly leaped and crushed two of their heads beneath her feet. The third grabbed her leg before she could strike again. Its grip twisted her ankle and sent her falling backwards. Her head slammed into a nearby rock, leaving her disoriented. The third creature rose to his feet and was lunging for her. Mia came to her senses just in time to see him coming.
Before she could counteract, A phaser shot blew it's body to pieces.
"Thanks!" she said to Eric as he quickly pulled her up to stand.
"I sprained by ankle, but I'm still in it." She replied
Together, they stared out at their opponents, who were about twenty in all. Their eyes glowed red in the dim light as they started to stalk them. Eric and Mia slowly backed off until they heard loud noises behind them. They quickly realized the creatures had surrounded them, and were waiting for the right time to strike.
"What's the verdict, rookie?" Mia asked as they turned back to back
Eric stared at his phaser, which had one last shot to it. "We're screwed."
Just then, the large segment of the cavern wall before them blew open with a thundering sound, knocking them and the creatures off their feet. Through the thick cloud of smoke from the explosion, a series of disrupter shots sprang to life. As fast as the walking mutants could stand, they were blown off their feet. Eric and Mia crawled on their bellies to escape the onslaught and found a safe place behind a rock formation.
"Careful! Don't hit the explosives!" they heard a voice say. And through the clearing smoke, a small group of fighters came in blazing, armed to the tooth. "Spread out! We need to grab supplies and get the hell out of hear!"
Mia quickly recognized the woman leading the charge as a Starfleet Officer. "We can use some help in here!" she called out.
The human woman sporting a haggard uniform turned to the voice in shock.
"How'd you get in here!?"
"We'll tell you later. Right now, there's a kid tapped in that rubble pile."
The woman nodded. "Go for the save! We'll cover you!"
The Helix officers dashed for the girl in distress. Any creature coming after them was met with a series of phaser shots, which knocked them away.
Rashaan struggled in her prison. The creature, which was holding her again by the neck, suddenly jerked backward.
"Watch your crossfire, people! There's a child in here!" The Starfleet woman yelled and she caught another creature with a phaser shot. "Listen up! Pattern: DELTA-5, target dispersal on Nirva's mark! AND WATCH OUT FOR THE CHARGES!"
Nirva, a Bajoran dropped to her belly and grabbed her phaser rifle. "Maggett, what are you reading? Give me something to hit!" she yelled to her Klingon partner.
The young Klingon warrior fidgeted with the modified tricorder until the white blips on his viewscreen were showing up with clarity. "Calculating... There are almost too many to pinpoint.... I have them; 40 degrees off your right!"
"40 what to my what!?"
"To your left... aisle three!"
Nirva braced herself for a jolt and pulled the trigger. "Fire in the hole!"
A large charged built up in her rifle and then sent a gold energy charge into the darkened area. In seconds, aisle three turned into a blazing inferno. Shards of glass and metal from the doors selves, rained down on the battlefield. The newcomer team was immobilized by the glass daggers, while the creatures began to seize the moment.
Eric reached Rashaan's position and started pulling away the metal pieces, which held her. Mia grabbed a large pipe and now wielded it like a Batleth. Her strikes were precise and accurate. Any creature that came close to Eric was quickly decapitated.
"Look out!" Maggett yelled as one of the creatures locked it's fingers on Mia's shirt and lifted her off the floor. She rammed her fist into the thing's temples, but it did nothing.
Nirva tried to stand and help her, but something grabbed her by the neck and pinned her down. She felt the decayed breathing on her neck. She screamed, not from pain but from the thought of the virus entering her system. The creature thrashed at her neck in an attempt to rip it apart with its bite.
"Officer down!" The Starfleet woman cried as she opened fire on the creature on top of her friend. The disrupter shots tore through it's victim with complex accuracy. The creature wailed and let his grip go. In an instant, Nirva grabbed her rifle, turned over, and fired up at her aggressor in one smooth motion. The creature's upper body was ripped away from its legs and fell a few feet away. Nirva then pulled herself from under the amputated legs and directed her attention toward the offensive.
Mia saw her oppressor's mouth open wide as it brought her in for the kill. She knew she only had a second to think. She reached into her belt and grabbed a tacheon flare, which was supposed to be used to signal the Helix. The device sprang to life with pink madness. Mia quickly jammed it into the thing's mouth and it immediately dropped her and reached for the flare.
"Get clear, woman!" Maggett yelled just as he opened fire. In seconds, the creature was ripped to shreds.
Another wave of photon charges soared into the darkened bunker to rip apart the last concentrated enemy stronghold. Decayed limbs and arteries were littered around the area as Nirva and Maggett searched out the remaining transgressors.
"Nirva?" the Starfleet woman called out. "How long until we're ready to dust off?"
The Bajoran woman called back. "Four minutes, tops!"
"all right people! Grab the civilian and as many supplies as we can carry! Do what you have to and let's get the hell out of here!" The Starfleet woman yelled as she walked toward Mia and Eric, who were consoling the child.
"I'll check the kid out." Eric said, grabbing the medical tricorder.
Mia nodded and then stood and extended her hand in gratitude to the approaching woman. "You guys sure have a flair for explosive entrances."
The woman returned her hand. "Well, we've been at it for almost a three months so it comes natural. I'm Gabrielle Hanson, former acting ensign aboard the U.S.S. Matsumoto. We were captured and imprisoned here, like everyone else you see."
"I'm Captain Mia Gan An'War and that's Eric Beckett of the Federation Transport, Helix."
"So, the Dominion have up the ante and started attacking civilian ships." Gabrielle found a seat. "When were you captured and how long have you been here?"
"We arrive three hours ago, and we weren't captured. We're here to pull you guys out."
Gabrielle's eyes grew wide. "You have a ship?" Mia smiled.
"Yes. The Helix is in orbit. In about four hours, there should be a window in the plasma storms to beam us all out of here."
"Oh, thank God." Gabrielle exhaled.
Mia stood and started to survey the area. "What the hell is going on here? Our telemetry stated that this was a barren planet with around 200 prisoners. They didn't say anything about savage creatures that…" at that moment, she noticed one of the intact corpse was wearing a Starfleet Command uniform. "By the Prophets, this… thing is… human."
Gabrielle walked to Mia's side. "That is… was Captain Horowitz, my C.O. He became infected about three weeks ago."
"Infected? This is some type of disease?"
"A virus- some type of biological organism that lives freely within this nebula." Gabrielle looked Mia. "We're all infected- including you." She grabbed a tricorder and passed it to Mia. "Apparently, it's some type of parasite which alters its genetic code to assimilate its host. Normally, it ingests inside the primitive life forms indigenous to this planet. Small plants, microbes and stuff like that. But the humanoid body was too advanced to fully assimilate. They're only granted limited mobility and functions embedded in the species DNA. The need for nourishment and to reproduce seem to be their main concerns."
Mia raised one eyebrow. "Reproduce? You mean they wanted to…"
Gabrielle nervously smiled. "No. The parasite is airborne, so it can be contracted, simply by breathing it in, like we're doing. Fortunately, it takes them six months to kill the host that way. The other, more dangerous method is my bite, scratch or entry through an open wound. In that case, the ingestion rate is a matter of hours."
"So they weren't trying to kill us."
"Nope. They were just trying to make sweet love to you."
Mia frowned. "That's so very NOT funny."
"Sorry. As long as we've been here, you acquire a morbid sense of humor. Anyway, when we were first arrived, there were about 150 prisoners. We were brought here to mine minerals use to process Tetracel White. But when some of the prisoners and Jem'Hadar got infected, the Dominion decided to abandon the project... leaving us hear to rot."
"How many are left besides you three?"
Gabrielle sighed. "75 of us escaped from the prison mines when the Dominion abandoned this place. After that, we decided to split up into two teams and try and find a way to get this rock. That was a month and a half ago. Nirva, Maggett and myself are all that's left of the Bravo Team. I don't think anyone else made it. Sooner or later, everything dies."
"Well, I don't plan on hanging around that long." Mia said, getting herself together. "In less than four hours, we'll be off this rock and headed back to the Alpha Quadrant. Until then, we'll need a place to hold up."
Gabrielle thought for a second. "This bunker is pretty sturdy. We can barricade ourselves on one of the upper decks." She quickly started to call in her two officers.
"This deck is secure, Captain!" the Klingon, Maggett shouted.
"Take it down a notch, Maggy." Nirva added turning to Gabrielle. "What's next?"
"A change in plans." She replied with a smile. "It seems our newcomers have actually come to take us home. We got four hours to stay alive, so we're gonna hold up on one of the upper decks. Eric and Mia will help me barricade the entrance as much as possible. The rest of you take the kid and a phaser rifles and make sure the second floor is clear. That's where we'll wait for the cavalry."
As the others went along with their assignments, Gabrielle noticed that there was no more light shining through the cracks of the walls.
It was the eve of nightfall....
...and the demons would soon be out to play.
ACT 3: GHOSTS OF THE PAST, DEMONS OF THE PRESENT
Within an hour, Gabrielle's team had secured their perimeter by the book. After retreating to the second floor of the bunker. The entrance and any other visible openings had been barricaded tight. The lighting equipment and emergency batteries which had been part of the inventory rescued from Gabrielle's transport were set up and luminating the entire front section of the bunker. Weapons had been equally distributed to everyone, and only would be touched during regular patrolling or in the event of an emergency.
Gabrielle grabbed a seat against the rockface and grabbed a water flask. "I guess I'll start at the beginning..." She took a swig of water and a few deep breathes. "About a month ago, the entire camp was hit with some type of plasma storm. It rained for about few hours and then seem to dissipate instantly. A few days later, people started reporting the medlab in swarms. As far as the doctors could determine, there was a viral epidemic sweeping the camp. Whatever the organism is, it seeps through any type of laceration in the skin and heads straight for the brain." she grabbed a message pad from her satchel and handed to Mia. "We ran tests on animals and the organisms were able to completely take over the specimens. They looked the same, but their actions were sparatic. It was as if they were trying to learn all over again."
"But what about humans. . ." Eric asked.
"The doctor's theorized that the virus wasn't complex enough to full take over humanoid functions. Their control seems to be limited to the most basic of functions. . ."
"To feed." Mia said as she read the information on the message pad. "It kills the host completely, and then mimics the brain's electrical impulses. That's why the only way to stop them is through the cranium. Kill the brain and you kill the virus."
Maggett returned from his reckon mission of the first floor. "The creatures have managed to break the first floor barricades."
Gabrielle rose to her feet. "Are they showing any interest in the upper desks?"
"No. They are just wandering around down there. Nirva is stationed at the entrance. She will alert us of any change in their behavior."
Jann and Tash made their way through the Helix's many corridors until they found themselves at the main holodeck. Tash tapped the entrance key, but the door remained shut.
"Computer…" he called out. "Override security lock on Holodeck 1. Authorization: Tash-7-7-2-2-Alpha."
The computer complied and the door swung open. They slowly entered to find the internal scenery of a Borg cube. They look at each other in surprise.
"Why is Kyle running this?" Tash asked.
"I don't know." The doctor replied. "He's been spending all his off-duty hours here since we boarded."
Suddenly, the sounds of fighting came from a corridor in the simulation. They quickly entered to investigate.
At the end of the hall, they found Kyle locked in battle with, what looked like an advanced Borg lifeform. They kept themselves in the shadows and watched the fight.
"PROGRAM INITIATED." The Borg spoke. "DRONE DESIGNATE: AXIS COMPATIBLE FOR PHASE 2; INITIATE".
"By the Prophets.." Jann whispered. "That's Alex when he was assimilated."
"You mean Kyle's acting out what happened with the AXIS EXPERIMENT?"
"It looks that way.."
Now they watched the drone take it's right arm and drive it into the command console. Instantly, the technology around them began to flicker to life.
Kyle, who was laying on his back at the opposite side of the room, tapped his comm-badge. "Mia! We got trouble. Alex has been assimilated and he's taking over the structure!!"
"Axis." they heard her reply. "Kyle, listen to me! You have to get him aboard the Helix! We can still reverse the process."
"I'm on it!" Kyle said rising to his feet. He quickly reached for his hand phaser and fired at Axis. But it had somehow already adjusted to the weapon's frequency and paid no attention to Kyle's assault. Kyle then increased the weapons setting and fired again. This time the energy beam bypassed Axis and struck the equipment console. The display Axis was working on erupted in a series of explosions. The equipment around them began to lose power.
This time, Kyle's actions had gotten Axis' attention. The creature turned and glared at Kyle.
"RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!" Axis screamed and he lunged for his former friend. Kyle quickly jumped out of way and ran for the other dead drone on the floor. He quickly pulled out the pipe stuck in its chest, and wielded it like a baseball bat.
Kyle raised the pipe. "O.K. Alex, let me show you what I know about resistance!" Just as he began to swing the pipe, Axis again took his right arm and drove it into a nearby wall console. In that instant, the entire structure started to shake violently. In mid-swing, Kyle lost his balance and fell backwards. The room trembled so intensely that Kyle couldn't seem to get his senses straight. But through all the chaos around him, he could see Axis slowly walking toward him; his claw-like right arm raised and ready to strike.
Kyle knew he was in trouble. "No!!!!" he screamed as the creature sent his swinging arm down at him.
"Computer, end program!" Jann screamed. In an instant, the Borg and the scenery quickly dissipated, leaving the three of them standing in the large empty room.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Kyle screamed as he approached them. "I locked the door for a reason! I want to be alone!"
Janna stared at him. She wasn't use to seeing in out of control. He had lost a thousands friends to war in his seven lifetimes, but Alex's death was, by far the worst.
She put her hand on his shoulder. "It wasn't your fault." She pulled him close and hugged him. "There was nothing you could've done."
"The doctor is correct, Sir." Tash added. "Alex knew it might happen someday. He knew the risks and chose to stay in the fight."
The large trill embraced Jann. "I know. But it still doesn't help." He gently pulled away, and started to walk for the exit. "I won't lose anyone else…. I promise."
Tash turned to Jann. "What can we do?"
She shook her head. "Nothing. It's something he'll have to work out himself. And getting Mia and Eric off that planet safely will play a big part."
Magget was the one to be awaken by parameter alter signals. He knew that Nirva was suppose to be on watch, but she was slumped in the corner--- obviously knocked out from exhaustion. On instinct, grabbed his phaser rifle and rolled to his feet, and then upon checking the camp, he realized that someone was missing.
He reached over and woke up Gabrielle. "Captain, awaken!"
"Rashaan, the child. She is missing, and one on of the parameter alerts have gone off."
Gabrielle grabbed her rifle. "O.K., rise and shine, people!" she yelled, quickly reviving Mia and Eric. "The kid's missing and we've an intruder alert! Mia and Maggett take the back entrance. Nirva, see if you can get the sensors up and running. Eric, you're with me. And remember, don't use the weapons unless it's absolutely necessary." She check her timepiece. "We've around 42 minutes before the evacuations, so let's not do anything stupid."
The two teams quickly grabbed their weapons and headed for their locations, leaving Nirva slowly pulling herself to her feet.
In the darkness, they didn't notice large bite mar on her arm.
She opened her big, red glowing eyes.
Maggett and Mia reached the rear barricade and inspected the area. There didn't appear to be any type of forced entry. But they could hear the faint sounds of digging on the other side.
"How long will it take them to get through?" Mia asked with concern.
"Five hours at the least. We will be gone by then. I suggest we double-back and give the others a hand."
"Sounds like a plan." Mia agreed.
As they turned to head back to the camp, the faint sound of walking came from the darkened corridor ahead of them. They both stopped and raised their weapons. The shuffling feet then stopped.
Mia raised her tricorder. "I'm not getting any readings. But the tricorder could be damaged.
"Show yourself!" Maggett called out into the darkness. Once the echo faded, they could hear the grunts and digging from the creatures on the other side of the barricade had intensified. But there was no answer from the corridor.
Mia walked forward. "This doesn't feel right. We better get back to the others. I'll take the point."
They slowly made their way back through the corridor heading for camp. They didn't notice that Nirva stood silence against the corridor wall. As they walked by her, she did nothing to attack them. She remained still to avoid detection and watched as Maggett, her best friend nearly brush her chest with his elbow. As Mia and the Klingon rounded the corner and walked out of sight, Nirva continued her journey until she reached the barricade.
She started to dig feverishly….
"I've got Rashaan." Eric reported to Gabrielle. "She's about twenty kilometers around the turn."
"That'll put her at the barricade." Gabrielle said nervously.
They quickly made their way through the hall until they came close to the entrance. Rashaan sat in her knees and feverishly plowed at the barricade. They could hear digging, also coming from the otherside.
"Rashaan! Stop it." Gabrielle called out.
The child ceased her job and slowly stood to her feet. As she slowly turn around, they already knew she was one of them.
The child turned and stared at them with her bright, red eyes.
"I'm sorry child." Gabrielle whimpered as she fired a shot to Rashaan head. The body immediately fell to the floor lifeless.
Suddenly, the barricade buckled as a half dozen arms pushed their way through and began to tear it down.
"Double back to the camp!" Gabrielle yelled and streaked back into the Corridor.
Maggett and Mia had just made it back to camp. When Eric and Gabrielle appeared.
"Rashaan has turned!" Eric reported to the others. "She weakened the barricade! We got an about 5 minutes before they're in here!"
"Where's Nirva?" Gabrielle asked.
"We thought she was with…." Before Mia could finish, the sound of the rear barricade collapsing caught their attention.
"We're trapped! What the hell do we do now?" Eric yelled aiming his rifle at the darkened corridor.
Mia thought for a minute. "How much time do we have before the evac?"
"Then we'll have to improvise." She scanned the area until she look up and saw ventilation shaft directly above them. "We're heading to the third level! Find something to reach that shaft!"
They quickly stacked containers until it was reachable.
Suddenly Gabrielle caught a dozen blinking red orbs in the rear corridor. "Mia, Go!!!" she yelled as she raised her rifle and fired a volley of phaser shots at them.
Mia climbed onto the boxes and proceeded to reach for the ventilation shaft. As her hand caught the edge, she felt the boxed beneath buckle under the weight. Eric looked down and saw that it was actually the damaged floor that was giving way.
Mia pulled herself into the shaft and scanned it for activity. "It's all clear! Let's go!"
"Lady's first!" Eric yelled as he grabbed Gabrielle's weapons and continued to shoot the dancing red orbs.
She slowly climbed the boxes and they continued to sink under the weight.
Suddenly, a creature appeared from the other entrance. Mia, with an overhead view was the first to see it.
"Maggett! Look out!" she screamed.
Just as he turn to fire his rifle, creature managed to lock its jaw onto his forearm. Klingon cried out in pain and then swatted the thing away. He then stared at the large gash on his arm and growled in anger. The Klingon knew he was pretty much dead.
The stacked boxes sank further into the floor, as Mia pulled Gabrielle into the shaft.
"Come on!" She yelled down to the two men, who were holding off the creatures in both corridors.
Maggett violently snatched the rifle out of Eric's hands. At first, Eric thought he had already turned, but the Klingon wielded both weapons at the opposite corridors.
"Get up there, Eric!" Maggett yelled, fighting the throbbing pain from the bite.
"I can't leave you!"
"The sooner you're up there, the soon I can climb, now go!!!"
Eric quickly made his way for the boxes and started to climb. This time, the structure collapse and tilted. The floor around the boxes was highly unstable and Eric hung onto the side, trying not to cause any more damage.
"Come on Eric!" Mia yelled extending his hand.
At that moment, the charges on Maggett's phaser rifles had depleted and the creatures quickly took the offensive. Maggett dropped one of the rifles and wielded the other like a Batleth. He swung feverishly, as Eric continued to slowly scale the boxes. As he reached the top, he looked back in time to Maggett get overwhelmed by the creatures. The swarmed like a pack of wild dogs and proceeded to maul him.
"Damnit, no!!!" Eric screamed as the boxes shifted even more.
"Come on, Eric!" Gabrielle shouted. "It's too late for him! Save yourself!"
Eric pulled himself to the top of the boxes and reached for Mia's waiting arms.
At that moment, the pack of creatures focused their attention on Eric and lunged for the boxes.
Eric and Mia's fingers touched.
"Just… a little… more…" she strained to get him in her grip.
When their palms met, she clasped his hand tightly and began to pull, when disaster struck. The applied weight of the creatures and Eric on the structure was too much for the floor to contain. It buckled under the weight and the boxes collapsed. They fell through the floor, along with the swarm of creatures.
Eric hand slipped from the Mia's grasp.
"By the Prophets, no!!!!" she screamed as she watched the newest member of her team fall backwards through the floor and into the darkness.
Kyle entered the bridge of the Helix to find Ian, Tash and Jann at their stations.
"What's our time until retrieval?" he asked.
Tash checked the clock. "Fifteen minutes."
"Good." Kyle turned to the navigator. "Ian, maneuver us into the transporter range, and slow to quarter impulse."
The Helix started to descend into the planetoid's upper atmosphere.
"Eric!!" she yelled, trying to crawl back trough the ventilation shafts opening.
Gabrielle promptly stopped her. "It's too late! He's dead! We got to keep moving."
"No!" Mia screamed, pushing her away. "I lost Alex! I will not lose another crew mate!" She pulled off her comm-badge and stuck it on Gabrielle. "Go find a place to hide for the next 12 minutes. The Helix is set the auto-transport whoever wears this comm-badge."
Gabrielle grew frustrated. "Damnit, Mia! If they didn't get him, he probably died from the fall! Don't throw your life away!"
"I have to be sure! If he's dead, I'll use his badge to beam out. If he's not, I'll be able to beam up with him!" she swung herself down through the shaft entrance and landed on the rim of the hole.
"And if he's infected."
Mia looked up and started to cry. "Then I can't let him walk around as one of those things." She grabbed a phaser rifle from the camp area and began to climb down into the darkness.
"We've reached the optimal elevation." Tash reported to Kyle. "If we just wait here, we should automatically transport them up in 8 minutes."
Kyle scratched his goatee. "Can you get any readings of life signs?"
Jann ran a scan. "Not yet. When the window in the plasma storm opens up, we should get an accurate reading. I'll beam them all into the cargo bay to be safe."
Eric knew he was in trouble. Disoriented and in incredible pain, he dragged himself along the floor of lower-level, trying to find shelter. He knew his left leg was shattered, along with a large gash in his head. The wounds all over his body were throbbing, so he knew the infection was coursing through him. He was as good as dead.
Around him, the bodies of the creatures that had fallen with him were twitching. He could hear others walking around him in the dark. When one of them brush against, it got excited and reached down for him. Quickly locking onto his clothes the creature tried to bite him on the arm. Eric yelled and wrenched his arm away and flailed crazily forcing the creature away. As quickly pulled away, he felt the creature grab his broken leg and bite down.
Eric screamed in pain, just as a tacheon flare sprang to life and illuminated the entire area. From out of nowhere, Mia came firing short phaser bursts at Eric's attacker. The creature let go a scurried away.
Mia quickly hooked Eric by his armpits and dragged him behind to the corner.
"How are you fairing?" she asked with a nervous smile.
He looked disappointed. "What the hell are you doing!? You need to get out of here."
"Don't worry. We beam out in less than a minute."
"No!" he yelled. "I'm infected! You have to leave me here."
"Sorry, kid. I can't do that. The Doc will find a way to deal with this. My only priority now is to…"
Before she could finish, a creature manage to grab her by the hair and expose her neck. It bit down just as a phaser shot struck it in the back. The creature let it's grip go.
Mia looked up to see Gabrielle with a rifle, hang-dropping from the large whole in the roof. "You didn't think I was gonna leave you guys hear."
She found her way to their side, just as a transporter beam washed over them….
EPILOGUE: SAVING ENSIGN HANSON
CAPTAIN'S LOG: Mia Gan'An-War Recording . . .
It's been 17 hours since we were rescued from the Dominion prison planet, and we're en route for the wormhole. Deep Space Nine has been alerted to our findings, and we were given authorization to eradicate the planetoid using quantum torpedoes.
The doctor was able to isolate and treat the virus organism in all of us. Eric's prognosis was more severe than the rest of us, and he'll be out of commission for about two weeks. Gabrielle on the other hand has been given a clean bill of health, and is looking forward to being reunited with her family. My only regret is that we were only able to save one prisoner.
... END TRANSMISSION
Mia entered the medical bay. She walked over to Eric who was tightly packed in a force-shielded medical bed.
She turned to Jann, who was busy writing up her report. "How is he doing?"
"As well as can be expected." Jann answered. "I've put him in stasis for Dr. Bashir at DS9 to give him the once-over. But I expect the virus to be fully eradicated."
Mia stared at him and smiled. "You know, when Kyle first suggested we bring him on the team, I strongly disagreed. But after seeing how he carried himself out there…"
"He's a good man." Jann said, uncharacteristically smiling. "I think Alex would've approved."
Mia smiled back at her, and then looked concerned. "Have you seen Kyle?"
Mia entered the Holosuite in time to catch Kyle and Axis locked in combat.
"RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!" Axis screamed, like he had done a thousand times before, and he lunged for his former friend. Kyle quickly jumped out of way and ran for the other dead drone on the floor. He quickly pulled out the pipe stuck in its chest, and wielded it like a baseball bat.
Kyle raised the pipe. "O.K. Alex, let me show you what I know about resistance!"
"Computer, end program." Mia ordered, and once again the holodeck was empty.
"Damnit, what?! Kyle you have to stop this!"
"I need to know!" he yelled uncontrollably.
"To know what?"
"If I could've saved him! If there was anything I could've done to stop him from become AXIS!"
She walked over him and sat down. "You know, I used to do the same thing. That first time, the Borg captured him, I was left empty. I knew there must've been something I could've done to save him. Do you know what I found out?"
"What?" he asked without looking at her.
"I found out that… it doesn't matter. What matters is, we did out best. We did what was necessary to save lives. There wasn't anything else you could've done, and Alex knows that."
Kyle stood and started to stretch. "I know, Mia. But I need to deal with this in my own way."
She rose to her feet and gave him a hug. "I understand. I just don't want to lose you in the process. We almost lost Eric. That's all the ‘close-calls' I want to experience at a time." She headed for the exit. "Are you gonna be O.K. for the debriefing with Section 31, within the hour?"
Kyle turned and smiled at her. "I'll be there." And as she left the holodeck, he took a deep breath and readied himself. "Computer, begin playing ‘AXIS POWER' scenario from the top."
The holodeck quickly transformed into a Borg environment the Borg-a-fide Alex Garrett stood five yards away from him.
"RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!" Axis screamed and he lunged for his former friend...
A prophecy fulfilled...
An evil unleashed...
A hero returns...
Children Of The Lesser Gods
Phantoms, part 2
|(EPISODE 4) A new Superpower has been discovered, and their trying to plunge the Alpha Quadrant into an intergalactic war. Now with countless lives on the line, Team Helix and a renegade Klingon out for revenge, have to find away to stop the massacre before it starts.|
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