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>> Star Trek fan fiction >> Paradigm Shift >> Conspiracy of the Mind

Conspiracy of the Mind


At the center of a great empire, lies a great and powerful world. On this world, stands a great city, one of many. In the city, a great building rises to the sky. In the building, in an enormous room, stand two representatives of a great unified power. One of them is quite small and pale. The other is large and powerful. The planet is named Cardassia. The small man is named Wayoun. He is just a simple representative of the great Dominion Empire. Demar, the leader of the Cardassian Empire, stands beside him. Both leaders are focused on the words being spoken by someone else in the cavernous room with them. He is human. The human speaks treacherous words. He speaks treachery not against either of the great empires of the two gentlemen standing before him. His treachery is against his former province, known as the Federation.

"Calm down gentlemen," came the cool voice of the human engulfed in darkness.

"Calm down? How do you expect us to calm down?" Wayoun said, sharply.

"I have some information that you might like Mr. Weyoun." The man in the darkness said in his cool, calm, collected voice. "I know of a new technology that might help the Dominion's cause. I can give it to you or I think the Rolumlans would like it as well." The man was enjoying this; he loved making them do tricks for their rewards.

"Just tell us," Weyoun screamed.

"Well Starfleet has come up with a new technology that allows members of a ship's crew to control many of the ship's systems with just a thought."

Weyoun's eye lit up as the human continued. "Navigation, sensors, propulsion, medical. You name it, it can be controlled with a thought."

Demar leaned forward. "Weapons?"

"Yes weapons too," responded the man with hostility.

"A ship with that advantage would be nearly unstoppable. The response time-" Demar's unbridled posturing was quickly cut off by the man in darkness.

"The response would increase ten fold." The man leaned forward, revealing himself to be Commander Chris Bean - Starfleets favorite trader. "This new weapon is on board a science vessel, on a mission in the Norway sector. The closest Federation ship is five parsecs away."

Demar stood up. "I'll have two ships there in less than an hour."

"Sit down!" Bean ordered. "You'll need that ship in order to study the weapon, you idiot. I've got a better idea. Only a select few crew members on board the starship have a special device implanted in their brain. It's called a Communing chip. This chip gives them the ability to control the ship. My plan is to infect the chip with a virus. The virus, once transmitted to the Federation ship, will infiltrate the Communing chip and implant Dominion Propaganda directly into their brain. They will become Starfleet defectors and will set a course for Cardassia. And what's even more interesting about the virus is it may even enhance the communing chip's abilities."

Demar looked over. "What about the regular officers?" he asked in a cold tone.

"The virus will also infiltrate the Life Support System. Anyone who boards this vessel, without a proper EVA suit, will not be able to stay conscious. Only the crew with the communing chip will be able to function."

"What ship is it?" Weyoun quietly demanded.

"The Ship registry is NCC 102868," he said with a small smile.

"I'll have Destroyer group three-fifty six Alpha there in less than an hour," Demar said. "This is a glorious day for Cardassia." Weyoun looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. "And the Dominion," Demar nodded.

With that, the three men left the room.


Act One

Captain Reming leaned against the wall next to the doorway of sickbay. He stood there, arms folded, waiting for Doctor Tedmoore to turn around. At the far end of the room, the Doctor stood in front of a communication terminal, apparently oblivious to the Captain's presence. After clearing the communication console, he turned around to find Reming standing there. Reming immediately read the troubled look from Tedmoore's face. The Doctor didn't have time to erase it. Nonetheless, he made an attempt to cover it up. "What can I do for you, Captain?" he said.

Referring to the communication, Reming asked, "What was that about?"

"What was what about?"

Before continuing, Reming took a few steps to bridge the gap between he and the Doctor. "I've ordered Parks to alert me whenever a priority message is transmitted directly to you. I guess you weren't aware of it. Anyway, there are regulations against someone attempting to read another officer's priority communications, so I can't read it. But, as far as I know, there's no law against me asking you what it's about."

"You're on a need to know basis, Captain. Right now, you don't need to know."

Reming could see Tedmoore's internal struggle. He decided to press him a little more. "If it concerns my crew, I think I have a right to know."

Reming succeeded in breaking the Doctor's silence. The Doctor decided to talk. "Starfleet is pushing me for more results on the Communing chip. They want me to introduce more crewmen to the chip. They also want me to increase its effectiveness."

"And will you?"

Tedmoore looked Reming in the eye. "No, I'm not."

"You're going to violate a direct order from Starfleet?" Again, Reming saw the conflict within the Doctor.

"I made the mistake of moving too fast once already. I don't want to make the same mistake again. Besides, Startfleet has given me total control over the project. I make the final decisions."

"For what it's worth, I stand behind your decision."

Suddenly, the sound of the red alert alarm began to blare. The voice of Commander Reed filled Sickbay. "Captain, we need you up here."

"What's happening, Commander?"

Reming's answer came, but not from Reed. The answer came in the form of a phaser blast to the outer hull. The force of the blast shook the entire ship. Finally, over the comm. system, Reed stated the obvious. "We are under attack."


A minute later, Reming was back to the bridge, but not before two more phaser blasts found their mark. "Report!" he shouted.

"Two Cardassian Galor class vessels. They are attacking. Our shields are down to thirty-two percent." Replied an anxious Commander Reed.

Reming looked up at the view screen. He could see the great warships speeding and spinning about, like sharks out for blood. Reming's eyes glanced down to Lieutenant Parks and Ensign Smith. Both were employing their Communing abilities. Without this added advantage of the Communing chip, his ship probably would not have lasted long as it had.

"Can we open a channel to either ship?" Shouted Reming.

"They are not responding to our hails." Reed answered.

"Send out a general distress call. This is the U.S.S. Condor, registration NCC 102868 requesting immediate assistance."

As soon as message was sent, another Phaser blast struck the hull, further weakening the shields.

"Parks, prepare to fire torpedoes."

"What spread, Captain?" requested Parks.

"What?" Asked Reming. The question completely confused him. He wanted to answer peanut butter, but he knew that wasn't right. Thankfully, Commander Reed took charge.

"Full spread, Mister Parks. Helm, initiate attack pattern Delta," barked Reed.

"Aye," replied both Parks and Smith simultaneously, amidst the clatter of warning alarms and Phaser blasts.

Instantly, the ship flew a perfect Delta attack pattern and launched its torpedoes precisely. All the torpedoes struck their targets, severely weakening the shields of both attackers. Unfortunately, it was not enough. One of the attacking ships fired one last shot at the Condor, completely knocking out her shields. The other ship fired on the Condor's warp drive, disabling it. The Condor began to drift, dead in space.

Reming sat, staring at the view screen. The site of the two Cardassian ships stared back at him. While in the Academy, he heard rumors about how Cardassians treated their prisoners. It was never pleasant. He wondered if his ship was about to be boarded or would his attackers simply destroy him outright. He knew the Cardassians would not consider a Starfleet science vessel much of a prize. "What are they waiting for?" he wondered aloud.

"Probably trying to decide whether to keep us or kill us," said Reed.

"Status report. What still works?"

"Torpedo launchers are out, shield are gone, warp and impulse is out. Phasers are still working, -"

"Charge Phaser banks and open fire," said Reming in earnest. Without hesitation, Parks used his thoughts and fired both Phaser banks at the lead ship until they were empty.

"No effect, sir," said Parks.

"That's not surprising. Our Phasers are strictly designed for science experiments. They're energy output is barely enough to boil water," Reed said, with disappointment in her voice.

"That's it then. We're dead," Smith said. It was the first time he spoke during the whole experience.

"Wait...they're hailing us," said Parks.

All eyes turned to Captain Reming. This was his first time in battle. It all seemed to happen a lot faster than he expected. The outcome didn't please him at all. Now it was time for him to concede. The idea of surrender made Reming sick. He waited a minute to think of something to say before standing up and stepping in front of the viewer. Reed stood up and took her place beside him. "On screen," said Reming.

The image of the two Cardassian warships was replaced by the image of a large Cardassian in full military uniform. His dark eyes glanced across the bridge of the Condor.

Reming swallowed his fear and spoke. "I am Captain Reming of the Federation starship USS Condor. We are operating in Federation space. I demand to know why you have attacked us."

The unnamed Cardassian looked down at Reming and smiled. "You fought bravely, Captain. I'm impressed," he chuckled. But the smile quickly melted from his face, leaving a cold expression in its place. He rolled his head back and stared down his nose at Reming. "Captain, you have something we want. And now we are going to take it." The Cardassian turned to one of his subordinates, and ordered, "Begin transmission."

"What?" Reming said. His head was spinning. "What could we have that they would want?" he asked himself.

Parks spun around to face Reming. "Captain we are receiving a message. It's from a Federation ship: The Toronto. They got our distress call and are on their way." Parks spun around back to his station. "We're picking up several ships coming out of warp. Sir, they're Halifax attach fighters."

As Parks made the announcement, the Cardassian captain was receiving the same information from his second in command. On the viewer, The image of the Cardassian was replaced the image of several Federation attack ships coming out of warp and engaging the Cardassian warships.

Reming watched the battle take place. It was like watching a recorded news report of one of the many battles fought in the war. He was quickly reminded of the fact that it was real when a stay energy burst struck the Condor.

"Damn! That hit just took out our communication system," shouted Parks.

"Mr. Smith, give those fighters some room. Move us away. Use the maneuvering thrusters if you have to."

"Aye, sir. Moving us away," answered Smith.

The Halifax ships swooped down, guns ablaze, as the Condor slid away from its close proximity to the enemy. As the Condor made it's retreat, one of the Cardassian attackers attempted to prevent her escape. The Cardassian vessel glided ahead of the Condor, cutting her off. Then, the ship blocking the Condor's escape locked an energy beam onto her hull.

"They've got us in a tracker beam. We've stopped," Smith yelled.

However, their capture was short lived. One of the Halifax ships swung around and fired on the source of the tractor beam, freeing the Condor. The small science vessel flew passed the Cardassian ship that once held them.

"We're clear of the fighting, sir," said Smith.

"Good." Said Reming. Finally, he felt the tension in his body drop some. He was never so close to real fighting in his life. His dream of dying courageously in battle seemed foolish to him now. Reming lamented at the fact he'd probably leave this life the same way he entered it - kicking and screaming. Maybe he would handle war better as a spectator rather than a participant. There was only one way to find out. "Parks, let's see how the battle is going. Put it up."

The view screen centered on the raging battle. The Cardassian warships continued to fire on the Halifax fighters. The fighters returned fire, successfully collapsing the shields of one enemy ship. The other warship attempted to flank the starfleet fighters, forcing them to split their formation. The great Cardassian warships took the advantage and concentrated fire, destroying two Halifax ships. The Cardassians soon lost their advantage when the remaining fighters regained formation and concentrated their firepower on the weaker warship. The ship was engulfed in a brilliant flash of light, and then vaporized. The other Cardassian ship fought hard against the fighters, but their firepower was too much. Soon it met the same fate as its companion.

Reming let out a cheer. He could not contain his joy of seeing his attackers destroyed. He looked at his first officer, expecting to see a similar reaction. Instead Commander Reed wore an expression of confusion. "What is it?" Reming said.

"I don't know." She looked down at a console to her left as if to be sure of what she read. "I'm getting some strange reports all over the ship. Something's wrong. Some kind of illness is sweeping the ship. They're all losing consciousness."

The battle scene Reming had just witnessed evaporated from his mind. His attention was completely on Commander Reed. "What? Losing consciousness? Are you sure?"

"Yes, of course I'm sure."

As their confused conversion continued, neither Reed nor Reming noticed Smith leave his station to get a phaser from a nearby locker. He tossed one to Parks. He kept one for himself.

Parks stood up and pointed the phaser at Reming. "Captain Reming, we claim this Federation ship for the Cardassian Empire."


Act Two

"What?" That was all Captain Reming could say. Reming was more confused than surprised by the sudden turn of events. He quickly looked at Commander Reed. She appeared to be more angry than surprised.

"What the hell is this, some kind of joke?" Reed said with clenched fists.

"No Commander. This is no joke. I promise. Now listen to me..." The Ensign was interrupted by a beeping sound coming from Lieutenant Parks' station.

"Keep 'em covered. Let me check this out," Parks said as he turned his attention to his console. "Those fighters are approaching us. Quick, you take the Captain and I'll take the Commander."

Ensign Smith almost dropped the phaser he was holding. "Where should I take him?"

"Cover him! Put the phaser on him! Quickly, they're beaming over." Parks moved over to Reed and placed his phaser at her head. Ensign Smith did the same. "Computer: Lights off," said Parks.

The shimmer of the transporter beam shone brighter in the dark. Soon enough, the transport was complete and all were once again shrouded in darkness. From the glow of the consoles, Parks and Smith could barely make out the presents of three people.

The voice of a woman called out in the dark. "Hello," she said. Nether Smith nor Parks, or their prisoners responded. Finally the woman turned on a flashlight and pointed it in the command area of the bridge.

"Thank you very much, and let me welcome you to the Condor. Would you please throw all your weapons on the floor and put your hands on your heads," said Smith. "I might remind you if you don't, both Captain Reming and Commander Reed will die," he said with a force in his voice Reming had never noticed before.

The woman looked back at her group and dropped her Phaser rifle to the ground; the rest did the same.

"The element of surprise," Smith said to Parks. He looked up. "Computer: Lights on." In seconds the lights returned to their normal intensity. Parks handed his phaser to Smith before walking over and scooping up the Phaser Rifles. He handed one to Smith while he kept another. Parks tossed the last confiscated riffle aside.

"Hello ma'am," said Reming with a small wave. "You must be from the Toronto."

"Yes sir, I'm Ensign Jenkins. You're the Captain of the Condor?"

"Yes I am, or I was as of a few minutes ago."

Parks pushed his glasses up with the butt of his phaser rifle. "Look, I'll do the introductions, okay? This is Commander Reed here." Reed gave a short nod in Jenkins' direction. "And that's Captain Reming there. My partner with the phaser riffle to the Captain's head is Ensign Smith. My name is Lieutenant Commander Michael Parks."

"Look Mr. Parks. I think you should know: there are several marines positioned on every deck, so you are not going anywhere," said Jenkins.

Parks looked back with a smile. "Just try to contact them," he said.

As Jenkins went to move her hand, Smith fired his riffle in her direction. The shot managed to miss Jenkins, hitting the wall behind her.

Parks looked over at Smith. "What the hell are you doing?" he yelled.

"I told them not to move their arms."

Parks looked up in desperation. "Damn it, I just told her she could call."

Smith glared at Parks. "Well, I'm sorry. How am I supposed to know she's allowed to mover her arms now. Why don't you try thinking a little louder next time. What do you think I am, a mind reader?"

Parks was beginning to lose what little patients he had left. "How's she supposed to call without moving her arm to her comm. badge?"

Jenkins knew the situation was beginning to spin out of control. She decided to use her expert diplomatic skills to gain control of the situation. "Would you two just shut up!" She yelled. Her wish was granted. The room fell silent.

"I am now moving my hand slowly." Sighed Jenkins as she moved her hand to her comm. badge. "Team 2 come in." There was no response. "Team 3 come in." Still, there was no answer. "To any Black Night - if you can hear me, please respond."

"I can hear you sir," said one of the marines standing next to Jenkins. His buddy slapped him and mouthed him to shut up. Jenkins never looked back.

"What have you done to them?" she asked in an annoyed tone.

Parks looked back at her with a smile. "Why not send one of your men to check?"

Jenkins looked back at the marine to her left. "Go check out Engineering." The marine gave her a quick salute and ran to the Turbolift. As he left, Jenkins turned her attention back to Smith and Parks.

Parks stared back at Jenkins. "Look ensign, we are taking this ship to the Cardassian Empire, we are defecting to the other side."

Jenkins replied in a cool calm voice. "No I don’t think so. Why don’t you put your rifle’s down and we can talk about this."

"I like that idea," Reming agreed

"Yeah me too," said Reed, quietly.

Smith swung his phaser in Jenkins' direction. "Look miss bad-ass, why don’t you go back to your little ship, what is it called again - the Toronto - and leave us alone."

Jenkins moved a few steps closer to Smith. "I see you have no idea what the Toronto is, you stupid shit."

"Great job, Smith. Now you've made her mad," yelled Parks.

Seconds later, everyone present on the bridge was distracted by the image of a massive battleship displayed on the view screen. Both Parks and Smith looked up at the screen with awe. Jenkins knew this was her one chance. She whacked the Phaser rifle out of Smith's hands with a single smack of her hand. He fell back a few strides. The marine behind Jenkins picked up the rifle and fired a shot at Parks, hitting him. But, before Parks fell to the ground, he managed to get a shot off, hitting the marine.

Smith picked up the phaser riffle discarded earlier and pointed it at Reming. "Move one step and Captain Reming is dead. Now drop the rifle," he demanded. Jenkins stopped dead in mid stride.

Reming knew he had to do something. He tried to think of some way to distract Smith. Finally, he thought of something. "Hey, what's that on your arm, Nick?" Reming asked.

Smith looked at his arm. "What? Where?"

Jenkins didn't hesitate. She moved in and kicked Smith in the back. The force of the kick loosened Smith grasp of his riffle. He spun around and took a swing at Jenkins. She blocked it, then grabbed his arm and through him over her shoulder. He hit the deck hard enough to knock him out.

Reed walked over to the downed marine. "Well?" Jenkins asked.

"He’ll be okay, he's just stunned," answered Reed.

"Toronto to Condor. Jenkins please come in," called the crackling voice of Charles Harkness, Captain of the USS Toronto.

"Jenkins here sir. Everything is under control. Five to transport."


Deep inside the Toronto, Ensign Nicholas sat in a small room thinking about his life. He recalled doing some dangerous things in the past. He still regretted many of them. However, no mater how dangerous they were, they never landed him in the brig - until now.

As he sat there, looking out through the shimmering force field that contained him in his cell, he felt no regret for his actions of the previous hours. He only regretted his failure. He simply had to get to the Cardassian border - and to the Dominion. His place was no longer with the Federation. Why he never felt this way before, he just couldn't understand. But that didn't seem to matter.

A loud voice shocked Smith back to reality. "Yo Nick? Can you hear me?"

Nick stood up to look around. He got as close to the force field without being shocked and looked as far around the brig as he could. The only person he could see was the guard on duty. "Hey, how do you know my name?" Smith asked.

The guard looked at Smith as if he just noticed him for the first time. When he spoke to Smith, he wore the same expression as someone inspecting something disgusting on the bottom of his shoe. "You know, they're going to execute you for treason."

"Okay thanks," said Smith. Dejected, Nick returned to his seat.

"Nick! Can you hear me? It's me, Carol. Your sister."

Nick jumped up to look around again. "What? Where are you? I don't see you."

"I'm still on the Condor. I'm speaking to you telepathically. Me and the others down here just found out we have this new ability."

"What?" said Smith with surprise.

"Don't speak out loud. Think it. Wait, just listen for a second," said the voice of his sister speaking to him from inside his head. "This telepathy thing appears to be a new function of the Communing chip. It must be some kind of latent function that's just become active. By the way, did you know that the rest of the crew is unconscious? Those of us with the chip seem to be immune to whatever it is that made everybody else pass-out. Even the marines that beamed in are knocked out. Well, as you already know, we still need to get to the Cardassian Empire. Even though your little take over was unsuccessful, that doesn't mean it's over."

"Well wa-" Smith started to speak, then remembered to think instead. "What do you want me to do? I'm in the brig."

"I want you and Parks to beam those of us in the Condor to the Toronto. We can't do it at this end. I can't get enough power to initiate a transport."

Then a new voice filled Nick's head. "How are we supposed to escape from the brig?" asked Parks.

Nick was taken by the irony of the situation. "Hey, when we were on the Condor, I told you I wasn't a mind reader. Well I guess I am now."

Carol interrupted the group therapy session started by her brother. "Listen to me, both of you. You can escape. The powers of your Communing chip have been heightened. All you'll need to do is wave your hand in front of the mechanism and use your thoughts to bring the shield down. That's it. Now get to it. As soon as possible, get to a transporter and beam us over to the Toronto."

Michael Parks and Nicholas Smith wasted no time. Using their telepathic abilities, they communicated to one another. In a matter of seconds, they formulated a plan for escape.

Parks dropped his hand down. Instantly, the force field collapsed. "Hey guard, what's going on here? My force field disappeared."

The confused guard made is way over to Parks' cell. As soon as he reached the cell, Nick hit the guard from behind, knocking him out.

"They probably know we've escaped," said Parks.

"I know."

"Come on, let's get out of here. We've got to get to the nearest transporter room."


Act Three

As Ensign Nicholas Smith and Lieutenant Michael Parks walked the corridors of the Toronto, they kept their composure. Since they both still wore their Starfleet uniforms, no one suspected them as being anything but members of the Toronto crew.

Smith leaned over to Parks. "I can't get over how big this ship is. It's huge," he whispered.

"I know. There must be hundreds of people on board. Were the hell's a transporter room?"

"I'll find out," Smith said as he stopped a passing Ensign. "Excuse me, the Lieutenant Commander and I just transferred over to the Toronto a few days ago. Transporter room four is near here, right?"

The young woman looked at Smith with a smile. "No, transporter room four is on the other side of the ship."

"Oh. What transporter room is near here?"

"It's down that way and to the right. I can show you if you like."

"Okay, thanks - ouch!" Parks stepped on Smith's foot and moved in front of him.

"That's okay, we'll find it. Thank you." Said Parks in a hurried manner. Parks gave Smith a nudge in the direction the young ensign suggested.

"What's wrong with you? We can't have her around when we transport the others over here," whispered Parks.

"Sorry, I forgot."

"Nice move, though."


Smith and Parks turned the corner and spotted the entrance to the transporter room. Before stepping inside, the two looked at one another as if comparing mental notes. Once their communication was complete, both men entered the room. Before Parks could make it to the transporter console, a voice came from behind.

"Who the hell are you two?" asked the guard standing beside the entrance.

Ensign Smith walked over to the guard. "We're here to test crew side weapons. Please hand over your side arm, sir." As soon as the guard handed the phaser to him, Smith pointed it at the guard and fired. The guard fell backward and collapsed on the floor. "Boy that was easy," Smith said, joyfully.

Parks' hands glided across the transporter console. When he finished making the necessary adjustments, he then concentrated his thoughts on the Condor. "Lieutenant Commander, we're ready to transport you to the Condor," he thought.

Lieutenant Commander Smith's voice filled their heads. "It's about time. We're ready over here. Energize."

Parks initiated the transport. In seconds, Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith, and her companions, Lieutenant Terry and Masters, materialized on the transporter pad.

"Good work, you two," said Carol.

"What's our next move?" asked her younger brother.

"We still need to get to the Cardassian border. The passive scans we performed on the Toronto indicated that she's carrying sever starships in her docking bay. I suggest we attempt a takeover of one of those ships."

"Why not just takeover this ship? Such a powerful ship would be a great gift to the Dominion."

"I thought about that, but this ship is too damn big. Not to mention, it's full of Federation storm troopers."

Parks looked up from a console. "According to this, a galaxy class ship - the Los Angeles- just docked. It appears there's only a small support crew aboard her." Parks slammed a fist hard on console. "Damn! We can't beam over to it; they've locked out all transporter controls. They must be on to us."

Carol erupted with anger. "They cannot dare to even guess what we're thinking! They're normal beings - weak, organic creatures! We are far superior! Smith, Terry and Masters; I want you three to use your skills to break through the transporter lockout. Link your powers to increase your strength. Once you've gained control, transport to the Los Angeles and then transport us over. Parks and I will attempt to reach the Los Angeles the hard way. If we get to the ship before you can break through the lockout, we'll transport you over from there. They cannot stop us. Any resistance is futile."

Lieutenant Carol Smith motioned Parks to follow her out. On the way out, she grabbed the phaser riffle from the unconscious guard. Lieutenant Masters and Terry and Ensign Smith formed a circle around the transporter console and closed their eyes. Instantly, a mental link formed between themselves and the computer system. The communing process had begun.


Parks followed Lieutenant Smith down the hall. She held the phaser riffle straight ahead as she ran. Parks waved around a hand-held phaser, protecting their backs.

"The docking bay to the LA is just a few meters away," Parks said.

"I know. I hoped Nick and the others would have gained control of the transporters by now. It maybe up to us."

Without warning, a phaser blast flew passed them, striking a light source above their heads. The corridor went dark. In unison, Smith and Parks crouched down and fired. Their shots hit their marks, taking out four marines at the far end of the corridor. Another phaser blast flew past them from the other direction. Smith and Parks spun around and fired multiple shots. Soon after, pained cries could be heard coming from the direction they fired. But the battle was not over yet. Another phaser blast smacked into the wall beside Smith's head. It seemed the marines had them pinned down.

But Lieutenant Smith had an idea. She placed her hand flat on the wall beside her. As Carol concentrated her thoughts, she began to draw power from the conduit behind the wall. She used the power to form a force field around herself and Parks. She and Parks began firing multiple blasts in each direction. The marines answered their shots with blasts of their own, but the force field Lieutenant Smith constructed simply redirected the incoming shots away. Parks pointed in the direction of the docking bay. Smith nodded and followed Parks. Both were abruptly stopped by a force field, blocking their path. With a wave of his hand, Parks knocked the field away. The two took a step toward the docking bays but were again stopped, this time by a transporter beam engulfing them.

Seconds later they found themselves on the bridge of the USS Los Angeles, with Nicholas Smith in the Captain's chair.

Nick looked up at Carol. "Welcome aboard. I've got good news for you. We've just left the Toronto docking bay. We await your orders."

Carol spun around to see the Toronto displayed on the viewer. "Raise shields. Mr. Parks, let's give them a going away present."

From its primary launchers, the Los Angeles fired two quantum torpedoes. Both struck the Toronto point blank. The view screen of the Galaxy class starship displayed the detonations with alarming clarity.

Carol turned to face her brother. "Take the helm. Set course for the Cardassian border at warp nine."

Nick jumped from the captain's chair and took his place at the helm. He placed his hand onto the helm console and concentrated. Immediately, he formed a mental bond with the controls. "Ready."

"Do it," commanded Carol.

Instantly, the ship jumped into warp, leaving the Toronto far behind.

Carol looked at the large, cushioned captain's chair and sat down, tucking her left leg beneath her. She leaned back and eyed the consoles extended from the arms of the chair. She pressed a button and spoke out loud. "Bridge to Lieutenant Terry."

"Here sir," replied the young man.

"Mr. Terry, how did you find engineering?"

"Right where I expected it, ma'am. Everything is running like a clock down here. All systems are running within normal parameters."

"Good to hear it," said Carol, leaning her head back onto the soft chair. "Lieutenant, I've been thinking about something. Once we enter the Cardassian border, we're going to attract a lot of attention. I don't want an eager Jen'hadar or Cardassian attack ship to go after us before we can announce our motives. Therefore, I want you and Lieutenant Masters to put together a signal - something that will stop the Cardassian's and Jen'hadar from attacking us."

"We'll get to work on it. Engineering out."

"Mr. Parks, what's out ETA?" asked Carol.

"At our present speed, we'll reach the Cardassian border in three hours."

Carol sighed heavily and dropped her shoulders. "Think of it. In two short hours, we'll be in the safe arms of the Cardassian Empire. Soon we'll be fighting alongside Cardassian and Jem'hadar soldiers, in service of the Dominion."


Reming stood in the turbo lift, facing Captain Harkness. As he stared at the Captain, a chill went down his back when he realized Harkness was staring back at him. Although he's been in Harkess' presence for only a short time, Reming felt intimidated by him already. He couldn't decide what made him more frightened; the cold stare of Harkness or the fire fight he just experienced moments ago. He found himself wondering if the ex-crewman he witnessed firing on Starfleet marines even realized that he, their former captain, was there. He wondered if they even cared.

Reming glanced up at Commander Reed. He was surprised at how calm she was. He could see the wheels turning in her head as she tried to make sense of everything. Reming was still trying to comprehend why he was still breathing.

Suddenly, the whole deck shook. "What..." Reming said as he grabbed the rail to keep his balance. Reming realized how ridiculous he must have looked to Harkness and Reed. Before he could compose himself, the turbo lift doors opened. Harkness stormed off the lift and onto the bridge. Reming and Reed followed.

"Report!" shouted Harkness.

A bridge officer responded. "Sir, the LA has set a course for the border, maximum warp. We are in pursuit but we are only able to get to warp 9.4. She is currently at warp 9.8."

"Why can't we match?"

The first officer answered him. "They fired a couple of quantum torpedoes at us and damaged the lower port nacelle. We're lucky we got up to this speed."

Harness turned to address yet another officer. "Colonel, scramble the Wild Cards and the Argos."

"Away, sir."

"Tell them to disable the LA and good hunting." He then turned to Ensign Jenkins, the only officer Reming or Reed recognized. "Ensign, bring us about and set a course back to the Condor. Warp nine."

Reming and Reed both marveled at the way Harkness managed his crew. The way he barked out orders without hesitation. The way he thought on his feet. Reming watched Harkness and wondered if he'd ever be able to lead the same way.


Act Four

Captain Phillip Reming and Commander Donna Reed made their way to the shuttle bay to prepare for an away mission. Their mission had nothing to do with the hijacked Galaxy class starship on its way to the Cardassian Border. Instead, Harkness ordered Reming and Reed on a rescue mission. Although Harkness gave the order, Reed had come up with the idea. Her plan was to return to the adrift USS Condor and recover the ship's chief medical officer, Doctor Tedmoore. It was her contention that maybe the treacherous behavior of both Ensign Smith and Lieutenant Commander Parks may be related to the Communing chip embedded in their brain. However, Reming was unsure of the Commander's logic.

"What makes you think the communing chip has anything at all to do with this?" Reming asked.

"Well, both of them seemed to get the idea to take over the ship at the same time. Also, both have the chip."

For a moment Reming was satisfied, but only for a moment. "That's it?"

"Yeah, why you have a better idea?"

Reming thought about it. After another moment, Reming had an answer. "No I don't." Then a dim light went off inside Reming's head. "Smith and Parks are not the only one's with the chip. Following to your theory would mean Smith's sister, and Lieutenant Terry and Masters are also acting...wacky."

"Hmmm...Probably not."

"Why do you say that?"

"All crewmembers on the lower decks fell unconscious, remember?"

"Maybe whatever put them to sleep didn't effect Lieutenant Smith or the others. Or maybe they were the reason everybody went to sleep. Maybe they did something to put the normal crewmembers to sleep."

"But why?" Asked Reed as they turned a corner and walked down the corridor that led to the shuttle bay.

"To make it easier to take over the ship."

"It's a possi..." As they entered the main shuttle bay, Reed's words were smothered by the awesome size of the bay itself.

"Man, isn't there anything small on this ship?" Reming wondered, gazing at around the cavernous space.

A young woman approached Reming and Reed with an extended hand. "Hello, I'm Doctor England. You must be Captain Reming and Commander Reed of the USS Condor." Reed and Reming took turns shaking the young woman's hand.

"How did you know?" Reming asked.

"I was expecting you. I realized both of you were new here by the expression on your faces. The look of shock is unmistakable. Follow me, I'll take you to the shuttle."

Reed and Reming followed the Doctor through the bay. Reming smiled as he watched Reed attempt to soak in the impressive atmosphere. "You're neck's going to hurt if you keep twisting it around like that." Reed returned his retort with a wry look.

"So, I haven't been briefed yet. What's the mission?" England asked.

"We are going to take a trip over to the Condor and see if we can rescue our ship's doctor. We're hoping he can explain our crewmen's odd actions. Let's just say he has a special insight in their mental health." Reming said.

"Why a rescue? Can't we just communicate with him? We're in range."

"No, something unknown has incapacitated the entire crew of the Condor. When we beam onboard, we'll need to be wearing EVA suits," Reed answered.

"Wonderful," England sarcastically added. "Oh, wait. Here we are. Climb aboard." She said, pointing to the armored personnel carrier sitting just ahead.

When the three stepped inside the shuttle, they found Ensign Jenkins at the pilot's seat, preparing for takeoff. "Have a seat everyone. We're about to leave."


During the short trip over to the Condor, Reming kept to himself. For some reason he felt uncomfortable. He wondered if it was the fact that he was the only male on the away team. Or maybe because he was the leader of an all female away team. As he probed his feelings, Reming began to feel even more uncomfortable. He couldn't understand why being in command of three women would make him feel this way. Maybe the mission itself was causing him to feel strange. Reming couldn't decide.

Jenkins brought the shuttle to a stop several meters in front of the Condor. The science vessel was visible through the shuttle's front window. She turned to Reming. "Okay, we're here. I suggest we prepare to beam over, sir."

"Yes..uh...good. Okay let's get those EVA suits on."


Soon enough, all four materialized on board the Condor in their white Starfleet environment suits. In the corridor where they stood, lay the body of an unconscious crewman.

Doctor England pulled out a tricorder and ran it over the young man's body. "He's alive, just completely unconscious. It appears that some kind of unknown viral infection has attacked his nervous system. The resulting effect was complete unconsciousness. Otherwise, he's in perfect health."

"How did it get into the air?" Jenkins asked.

"Let's get down to engineering," Reming said. "Maybe we'll find some answers there."

In a few minutes the four arrived in main engineering. Here too, the floor was littered with sleeping crewmembers.

Doctor England waved her tricorder in the air. "The air is completely saturated with the microscopic organism in here as well."

Reed accessed a flickering panel nearby. "According to this, the organism is being generated by the environmental controls."

"Is there any way to get the system to stop producing it?" asked Jenkins.

"Not that I can see. I'm sure Lieutenant Smith would be able to do it, using her Communing abilities."

"Speaking of the Lieutenant Commander: I don't see her anywhere," Reming remarked.

Reed looked up from the console. "You're right. Lieutenant Terry and Masters are missing too."

"We've got a bigger problem. It looks like all the Condor crewmembers with the communing chip are somehow working together."

"Wait a minute. What are you talking about? What's this Communing business?" England asked.

Reming looked at Reed. She just looked back at him. He glanced over at Jenkins. Her lack of confusion told Reming she at least had a passing knowledge of the communing experiments. He wondered if he would get into trouble by telling England. To him, the genie was already out of the bottle. He decided to tell her. "Starfleet has been performing top secret experiments on board the Condor. A specially designed chip, created by our Chief Medical Officer, was implanted into the brain of several crewmembers. This chip gives them the ability to control specific ship systems using their thoughts."

"Oh my," said England, attempting to subdue her amazement.

"But how did they get off the Condor in the first place?" Reed wondered aloud.

"I don't know," Said Reming, as he turned to face Jenkins. "Ensign, did the Toronto at any time register an unauthorized transport?"

Jenkins thought a moment. "Yes, I believe there was. As soon as the transport was discovered, the commander locked out the controls. Then, during the firefight, the lockout was mysteriously broken and another transport was performed."

"Did they use these special powers to break the transporter control lockout?" asked England as she tried to comprehend the situation.

"The Communing experiments have not progressed to that level as yet. Normally, a crewman with the chip needs to physically touch a specially designed panel in order to form the mental bond between themselves and the ship," said Reed.

"It would appear their powers have increased significantly," Reming added as he headed out of engineering. "Come on, we need to get to the doc."


Reming led the way into Sickbay to find Doctor Tedmoore lying face down in the middle of the room. Doctor England raced to his side. "He's just like the others. He's asleep. We need to get him off this ship. Once he breaths normal air, it should flush out the virus. He should wake up."

"Okay then let's get out of here," said Reming.

Jenkins took the Captain's lead. "Jenkins to Mantis. Five to transport." Instantly, the APC's computer initiated the transport. Moments later, all were back inside the shuttle, struggling out of their environment suits as doctor Tedmoore lay unconscious on the floor of the shuttle.


Sometime later, Ensign Jenkins was once again at the controls of the shuttlecraft, piloting it back to the Toronto. In the rear compartment, Reming and Reed debriefed a conscious but confused Doctor Tedmoore while Doctor England monitored his condition.

"I don't believe it!" Said Tedmoore. "They're all defecting to the other side?!"

"That's right. It all happened soon after the battle with the Cardassians," Reming said.

"It also appears that their Communing powers have increased substantially. The way they escaped from the brig and they way they broke the computer lockout of the transporter - it's the only explanation that fits," added Reed.

Doctor Tedmoore glanced at Doctor England and then gave a sharp look at Remming and Reed. "These experiments are considered highly sensitive information. I don't think we should be discussing this here."

Reming jumped up and waved a finger at Tedmoore. "Look doctor, we have five starfleet personnel piloting a hijacked Galaxy class starship to the Cardassian border as we speak! I don't think secrecy is our highest priority right now. If you're worried about your technology falling into the wrong hands, rest assured in a couple of hours it's going to be in the enemy's hands unless you forget the rules and start thinking about the problem at hand."

Doctor Tedmoore leaned back and folded his arms. "I don't see how the Communing chip could have anything to do with their sudden decision to defect."

"What about their increased communing powers?"

"I don't know. Theoretically it is possible, but I haven't even considered moving to that level of testing yet."

Reming knew he wasn't getting through to him. It was all just an experiment to Tedmoore. It was just something to study and report on and nothing else. Reming turned and faced Tedmoore with a blank expression. "Look Doctor, Captain Harkness intends to stop them - kill them if necessary. We hoped you could help find a better solution. There's been enough killing for one day."

Doctor Tedmoore grabbed Doctor England's hand and turned it so he could see the readings on the tricorder she was waving around him. "I look fine to me, Doctor," he snapped.

Doctor England pulled her hand from Tedmoore's grip and shot a cold stare at him. She slapped the tricorder closed and walked out of room without saying a word.

Reed couldn't help but laugh quietly to herself. She knew Doctor Tedmoore tended to show the worst in himself at the worst possible times. She squinted at him and asked, "Well doctor?"

He sighed loudly and looked up at them. "I don't know what to say. I'll need to examine them at the very least. I can't help at all without studying them first."

"At the rate the situation is degrading, you'll be examining them, a piece at a time," said Reed.

Then Reming had an idea. "Doctor, what kind of examination? How much information do you need?"

"Well, I don't know. If I knew what I was looking for, a quick scan would be enough. Why?"

"Would a transporter scan be enough?"

The Doctor thought a moment. "Maybe," he said. Then the doctor's eyes widened. "Yes. Yes, I thinks so."

Commander Reed wasted no time. Following the Captain's lead, she hit her comm. badge and spoke. "Reed to Jenkins, what's our ETA to the Toronto?"

The voice of Ensign Jenkins replied, "We'll be there in eleven minutes."

"Ensign, we need to recover Ensign Smith's and Lieutenant Commander Parks' bio scans performed by the computer during their original transport to the Toronto. Would the Toronto still have them stored in the transporter's pattern buffer?"

"I believe so. Why?"

"It may be our only way to get some answers."


Act Five

As the APC shuttle entered normal space, Jenkins and England were taken by surprise at the frightening scene taking place before their eyes. From the forward window, both blankly stared of the awesome battle raging between the Toronto and Los Angeles.

The agile Galaxy class maneuvered in quick arks about the huge Toronto, firing volley after volley of quantum torpedoes at the great ship. As she glided along, plasma bled from her warp engine nacelles, leaving a trail behind her. The only thing dispersing the plasma trail were the Halifax fighters, flying behind the LA and pecking at her shields with phaser and torpedo fire. The LA was occasionally successful at scattering the attacking fighters, striking at any that stayed too close.

The Toronto was doing it's best to keep the LA in front of her. When the LA would turn toward the Toronto's aft, in an attempt to put the Toronto between herself and the fighters, the Toronto would counter the LA's maneuver by turning on its axis, keeping her forward hull facing the galaxy class vessel. The LA punished the Toronto's efforts to thwart her maneuver by pelting the massive ship with waves of phaser blasts. The Toronto returned fire, launching torpedoes at the LA while being careful not to strike the Halifax fighters swarming the LA.

As Jenkins and England watched the battle range on, it was clear to them that although the LA was putting up a fierce attack, the Toronto and its fighters were clearly winning the fight.

England leaned over to Jenkins, not taking her eyes off the shuttle's forward window. "Hail the Toronto on a secure frequency. Tell them we completed our mission and are requesting to return."

Jenkins shook her head. "I don't see how we can return to the Toronto while it's under attack."

The voice of Harkness suddenly filled the cabin. "APC Shuttle Mantis, approach the ship from the port side. A black knight attack wing will cover your approach. Make it quick, I don't know how long they can -" The static filled transmission was abruptly cut off.

"What happened?" asked Captain Reming. Neither Jenkins nor England noticed that Reming and the others entered the cabin during Harkness' announcement.

Jenkins look back at Reming. "I..I don't know. I think another signal is suppressing the Toronto's signal. It's extremely powerful."

Then a new broadcast boomed through the shuttle. "The crew of the Federation Starship USS Los Angeles is requesting asylum in the Dominion Empire. We are under attack from Starfleet warships. We request immediate assistance." Reming, Reed and Tedmoore recognized the voice to be that of Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith. After hearing Carol's voice, Doctor Tedmoore put his head in his hands. Any doubts he had about the validity of Reming's story were now gone.

"How powerful is the signal?" asked Reed.

"It can be heard half way to the Cardassian home world. Any ships five hundred light years inside the Cardassian border will definitely hear it. Hell, it so strong they could hear it by just putting an ear to the deck. We're not far from the Cardassian border as it is."

"The Dominion ships will be able to track the signal," said Reed, quietly.

"And if they track the signal back here, we won't have a chance," England said, finishing Reeds thoughts.

Jenkins looked from her console to see a small group of Halifax ships approaching their position. Automatically, she powered up the impulse engines and swung the ship toward the Toronto's port side. "Hold on. Here we go."

The Mantis flew headlong in the direction of the Toronto, escorted by three Black Knight fighters. On its final approach, The LA fired a single quantum torpedo in the shuttle's direction. One of the escort ships broke off to intercept. At the last second, his weapon system froze. To protect the shuttle, the fighter pilot blocked the path of the torpedo with his ship. No one on the shuttle would ever know a fighter pilot sacrificed his life so save theirs.


When Doctor England and Captain Reming returned to Captain Harkness, it was on a bridge quite different from the one they were on before. It was the same bridge, for sure, but it looked very different. Several consoles were completely off line. Other stations sparked wildly. Emergency lighting flickered on and off as the red alert claxon wailed.

The only element unchanged was the undaunted Harkness. "Commander Larson, load Tri-Colbalt devises, get ready to fire a full spread. But first, target their impulse engines and fire five quantum torpedoes," barked the captain. "Ready the devises."

"Ready sir," said the Commander

Reming, as inexperienced as he was, knew what the captain was planning. He had to stop the Captain. He couldn't sit back and watch Harkness destroy the LA, and kill the crewman on it. He pushed aside all his fears and forced himself to interrupt. "No, don’t. We are close to an answer," he said, a bit meekly.

Harkness spun around to see who dared to interrupt him. His eyes burned at the site of Captain Reming standing there. "Look, I am going to end this now. "I am in Command of this ship, and what I say goes. NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP!" yelled Harkness.

Doctor England stepped up, placing herself between Harkness and Reming. "Charles, we are close," she softly remarked.

Harkness reeled back his emotions at the site of England's expression. "Fine, you got ten minutes, then I blow them to hell and back. Got it?"

"Yes sir," Reming angrily shouted from inside the turbo lift as the doors closed.

"Captain, there are about ten Jem’Hadar ships on an intercept course. They are going to be here in twenty three minutes," said the bridge commander.

"I know, Commander. Jenkins, back us out of Weapons range of the LA. Bridge to Engineering. Lefler, transfer all available power to the shields. We are going to be here a while."


"Nothing!" said Doctor Tedmoore, slamming his fists down hard on the medical console sitting in front of him. "I can't find a damn thing!"

"Could the chip be malfunctioning?" asked Reed, staring at the huge medical display panel on the wall, trying to make sense of it all.

"I...don't know...maybe. I would need to make a detailed examination of the chip to see that."

"Well, I suggest you come up with something soon. Harkness is only giving us ten minutes to find a solution or else he destroys the LA and we head out of here," said Reming as he and Doctor England stepped into Sickbay.

Reming's statement forced a somber chill to fill the room. The distant sound of explosions from the battle raging outside was the only thing filling the silence.

Then someone in the room broke the silence. "What's that?" asked England, pointing to a particular sine wave highlighted on the large medical display.

Tedmoore looked up and forced his eyes to focus. "It's an energy signature of the Communing chip's signal output. It's normal," he said.

"Is the signal output always this strong?"

"What?" Tedmoore stepped closer and took another look at the display. "This isn't right. The output shouldn't be nearly this high," he said, surprised he didn't notice it before.

"And what about this? Its signature is nothing like the others."

Tedmoore looked at England and then back at the display. "That's not..." Suddenly, Tedmoore knew the answer. "It's a virus."

All eyes in the room sharply focused on Tedmoore, shocked by his revelation. For a long moment no one spoke, as if afraid to question their own ears. Reming stepped beside Tedmoore and quietly asked, "What?"

"It's a computer virus. It's infected the Communing chip's BIOS. Here's its signature here."

"A computer virus? How could it have gotten there?"

"The chip takes input the same way the brain does - through any of the five senses."

"Aha, that's it!" cried Reming. "Commander, remember what the Cardassian said after the battle, just before the Toronto attack ships arrived?"

Thinking hard, Reed furrowed her brow. "He said, 'You have something we want'."


Reed wasn't in the mood for a game of twenty questions. She shrugged her shoulders and flapped her arms down in exasperation.

"He said 'begin transmission.' He was ordering someone to transmit a signal - a signal only the crewmembers with the communing chip would receive - the virus."

Reed's eyes widened. "The virus must have also infected the ships systems - messed with the environmental controls," she added.

"Yes! That's what the Cardassians were after - us! The ship, the Communing technology - everything."

"That must be what's happening now. The virus is subconsciously directing them to join the Dominion - to be exploited," said England, attempting to make sense of the exchange between Reming and Reed.

Reming turned to face Tedmoore. "We only have a few minutes. Can you find a way to...fix them."

"Yes, I programmed the chip. I...that is, Doctor England and I...may be able to create a new program - one that will destroy the virus," answered Tedmoore.

Satisfied with the Doctor's answer, Reming quickly slapped his comm. badge. "Reming to Harkness."

"Harkness here," he replied in an annoyed manner.

"I think we have the answer. The Cardassians after the attack on the Condor transmitted a computer virus to the ship. The virus attacked the Communing chip inside my people. Right now, they're still under the virus's control."

"What? -"

"Captain, I don't have time to explain any further. We need time to create a program to destroy the virus that's infected them."

"I can give you three minutes. No more."


Several long minutes later, Reming, Reed, England and Tedmoore piled off the turbo lift and onto the bridge just as yet another volley of quantum torpedoes from the LA impacted the Toronto's shields. England hurried Tedmoore over to the engineering control console. Reming and Reed quickly walked to Harkness who was eyeing England and Tedmoore's sudden excitement with the deflector control system.

"What are they doing?" asked Harkness.

"They've done it. Tedmoore and England have successfully constructed a counter-virus to the one infecting our people on the LA, " answered a winded Reming.

"Good...but, what are they doing?"

"We needed to think of a way to transmit the counter-virus. We couldn't just hand it to them. We had to think of a way to sneak it over. We agreed that Ensign Smith and Lieutenant Parks are most likely communing with the LA's systems and Parks is most assuredly running the sensors, constantly scanning the Toronto."

"Cut to the chase, Commander..." Harkness begged.

"We plan to transmit the counter-virus to the LA using the Toronto's main deflector dish. The signal from the dish will be intercepted by the LA's sensor array. Since Parks is running the sensors, he should be the first one to pick it up," said Reming, continuing where Reed left off.

Harkness pointed an unsure finger at Reming. "But that just takes care of Parks, what about..."

"I believe all communing chip crewmembers are telepathically linked," shouted Tedmoore from across the bridge. "The virus should trickle down to each one, eventually returning them all to the state they were prior to the Cardassian virus infection," Tedmoore added while gripping the console to keep his balance against yet another torpedo hit.

"I hope this works," said Harkness, nervously.

"We should know any second. Sending the"

Doctor Tedmoore closed the transmit contact, causing a green burst of light to shot from the Toronto's main deflector dish and toward the Los Angeles. The instant the light show was over, an eerie silence filled the air. The constant bombarding of phaser and torpedo blasts against the Toronto abruptly came to a sudden stop, replaced by frozen stillness. All eyes focused on the quiet Galaxy class vessel hanging in space.

"I think it worked," Doctor England quietly remarked.

That was all the conformation Captain Harkness wanted. "Commander, beam everybody from the Los Angeles over to the Toronto - now!" he shouted.

The Commanding officer ran to a console and initiated transporter systems. "Done. They've all been transported to Sickbay."

Harkness closed a contact on a nearby console, opening an outside communication line and said, "Captain Harkness to all support craft, BUG OUT!" He then turned back to his first officer. "Commander Larson, lock tri-colbalt torpedoes on target and fire when ready."

"Aye sir. Torpedoes away."

From the Toronto's torpedo bay, five white torpedoes burst fourth. Each torpedo stuck the defenseless ship, tossing it about like a child's toy. As the final torpedo hit its mark, a massive explosion erupted from inside the hull, completely vaporizing the entire ship.

Before the full force of the blast wave could reach the Toronto, she was gone -traveling at warp speed back to the Condor.



Reming stood nervously in front of the door to Captain Harkness Ready room and pressed the call button. He couldn't imagine what Harkness wanted with him. Every encounter between he and the Captain seemed to always end poorly. Reming had the feeling Harkness was disappointed with him. He couldn't understand why. But that didn't seem to concern Reming anymore. His thoughts centered around his five crew members recovering in Sickbay. All were conscious and alert - and remembering nothing of their behavior of the previous hours. Reming considered that to be a kind of blessing. He only wished he could forget the events of the previous hours. Nothing could have prepared him for all the death and destruction he had seen. After everything he went through, one more confrontation with Harkness didn't seem to matter so much anymore.

From inside the room, he heard Harkness call him in. Reming stepped inside to find the Captain sitting at his desk, waiting for him to arrive. "Captain Harkness, you wanted to see me?" asked Reming.

"So, Captain, how did you like your first taste of battle?" Harkness asked, in a warm and relaxed tone.

Reming wasn't used to seeing Harkness so calm. His pleasant mood made Reming nervous. "Well, it was interesting," Reming lied. In fact, he hated the whole experience and wished he'd never have to live through anything like that again.

Harkness raised an eyebrow. "Are you okay, Captain?" he asked, studying him closely. Harkness knew how Reming truly felt. His true feelings were dragging him down, like a loadstone around his neck.

"Well Captain, I've never had so many people die. All because I let the Cardassians plant that virus," said Reming, trying unsuccessfully to hide his profound guilt.

"Captain...Phillip, it comes with the four pips and the seat. We all lose people under our command. There was nothing you could have done. The Condor is a science vessel, you were no match to the Cardassians."

"Does it get any easier?"

"Nope. My last CO once told me that you only need two things for command: a strong stomach and a bottle of scotch...or whiskey. I know you like Root Beer, but you're a Captain now, not an ensign. Here's a drink that my brother got me started on a few years ago. Not very strong." Harkness turned to the replicator. "Computer, two Labatt Blues." Magically, two sparkling blue drinks materialized in front of him. "Take a sip," Harkness said, handing one glass to Reming while keeping the other for himself.

Reming sampled the strange  concoction. To him, it tasted like cough medicine mixed with paint remover. Reming took another drink to savor the flavor a little longer. Now he was sure. He hated it. "I think I can get used to it," He lied.

Harkness laughed. "Let's get to the party," he said.

"Party?" thought Reming. He forgot all about it. How anyone could manage to have a celebration after everything that had happened was somewhat of a mystery to Reming. Even though he knew the spirit of the gathering was to honor the lives of those people lost in battle, the sentiment somehow seemed a bit empty to him.

"Oh shit, I need to get something from my quarters, I'll meet you at the sky dome. It's on deck 45 Section Blue-Alpha-36." Harkness said.

"I think I can find it."


Sometime later, Reming found himself wandering the countless corridors of the Toronto, hopelessly lost. "Where did he say it was? Deck something, Blue-Alpha something-something?"

By now, Reming had ridden the turbo lift so many times he had motion sickness. At lest he didn't need to worry about taking the lift again anytime soon. There didn't seem to be any in site.

Reming took note of the deck number, hoping his destination was close by. "Deck 145. I think it's around here somewhere."

His joyous anticipation was interrupted by Commander Reed's voice chirping from his comm. badge. "Reed to Reming. You might want to go a hundred decks up."

Reming leaned against the wall and laughed. "Oh hell, forget it. I think I'll go back to my room...if I knew where it was."


Read more from Paradigm Shift and Christopher Filippone.
Michael Sweeney
Paradigm Shift
Borg Like Me, part deux, part two
On Site

Episode Thirteen - Deep in the Delta Quadrant the Condor crew find an exploded Borg cube. With help from The Resistance they take action to find their missing crew in Borg space! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why it took 10 years to write 44 pages. Second half of Story One of Three in the Delta Story Arc

Evil Must Be Opposed.
-- Vedek Yassim,

(DS9: Rocks and Shoals)
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