by David Highlander
"Captains log Stardate 54510.6,
After some four years of the Dominion war it was finally come down to this. Hell I'm even writing a Captains log which is something I never did in the past. After today it isn't very likely anyone will ever read it so I don't see too much point in recording it. As I look among the home stars of sector zero-zero-one, I wonder what brought us to this terrible position. How did we let the war go so wrong for our side? He stand here, with some eight hundred ships waiting for the inevitable conflict. Starfleet has pulled all of its resources to protect Earth but I fear it all be for not. We just received word that they the Dominion fleet has taken the Klingon Homeworld. There was really no stopping them after the massacre on Vulcan. They just kept coming and we ran like children. Something I never thought I would do. Wondering what the future has in store for us has never been so vague. I.." He was interrupted by the voice of Lapel.
"Captain, the Dominion fleet is dropping out of warp."
Gorman didn't bother to call for the screen. He watched each and every star that lie before him grow larger and turn into a different ship. "My God!" Tarbis shouted. "How many ships are there?"
Lapel ran his fingers over the panel. He sat in the left hang chair where Allenby once sat. He looked to his right and gave the answer to Tarbis. Somehow hw still expected Mirek to be sitting in his chair, he shook off his thoughts. "Four thousand- three hundred vessels."
The air grew stale with anticipation of the onslaught. The Dominion unleashed its furry in all directions. There was no hope for anyone. Eight hundred federation vessels broke in off in a fit to do as much damage as they could. One by one they went down in a ball of fire. The Horseman limped its way through ship after ship like a tired steed reaching its last days. She went through the battle because is was what she was trained for. She had been through so much these past years there was just no fight left in her.
The bridge lit itself on fire as every control panel that wasn't broken exploded. Sparks shot in all directions. The three of them on the bridge never left their seats. They waited for as long as they could before Gorman gave the final order. "Mr. Lapel, get Captain Rees on the line."
"Aye sir, she is standing by."
"Captain Rees?" Gorman asked. The muffled sound of the lady Captain could barely be heard. "Go ahead Gorman."
"You know what he have to do."
"Understood. Follow us in, Rees out."
"Mr. Tarbis, take us behind the Columbia and don't break stride. Don't get too close, the Columbia is liable to loose it at any moment. The Enterprise should be right along our aft so please don't come to any sudden stops."
"Sir." Lapel shouted. "The Columbia is trying to poke a hole in the Dominion fleet. I don't think we're gonna make it."
"You stay with her damnit. Everything resides on this."
The Columbia whipped its way through ship after ship like a beaten tiger coming out for its final meal. The Horseman never broke stride staying on her tail. Without fail the Enterprise made its way behind both of the ships. Just when Gorman thought it was all over with the Enterprise, she began to emit chronometic radiation into space. The blue after glow found its way around the Horseman and the USS Columbia.
"They're doing it sir." Tarbis threw out.
"Come on Lapel, keep us steady."
"Looks like the Missouri is taking up flank. They're trying to draw fire."
Gorman watched the screen silently. "Give em Hell MacDermott."
"We're on course sir. The Columbia just vanished." The Excelsior class vessel disappeared from space. "Taking us through now."
"Captain." Gorman heard the surprise coming from Lapels voice. "No!" Lapel shouted.
Gorman looked back to the screen in an attempt to see what had troubled Lapel so deeply. Gormans eyes grew large with rage when he saw the Missouri literally cut in half. She floated through space and yet she still looked so beautiful to Gormans eyes. Gorman jumped to his feet. "MY GOD!"
"Sir, I'm picking up a message from MacDermott. It's for your ears only."
"Damn it, put it on speakers."
The message was garbled but Gorman could make out the voice of MacDermott. "Catch you on the flip side my friend." The speakers cut out.
As the Horseman passed through the silent opening in front of them, Gorman and crew managed to catch a glance of the Enterprise fighting off six Dominion Battle ships. Two Dominion war ships had gotten the better of her. She stopped emitting the particles and the last thing Gorman saw was the Enterprise going down in her last battle, all hands lost. In the distance Earth fell under bombardment.
Gorman fought to hold back his tears, but this was even too much for him to handle. As he wept he caught a glimpse of the dedication plaque hanging on the wall. "The only easy day," He thought. "Really was yesterday."
Gorman watched the screen with an uncanny evil grin as the Excelsior class ship dropped out of warp and kept a stationary orbit in space. A few minutes had gone by, the bridge as silent as always, until Mirek decided to speak.
"Um...sir." He said. "The Columbia is sure to waiting our presence."
"I'm aware of that Lieutenant. Just my way of saying hello to Captain Rees."
"Sir?" Of course the rest of the team wanted to know the same thing Mirek did but, they sure didn't have the balls to ask.
Gorman grunted slightly. "Lets just say Rees and I go way back. That's all you need to know for now." Gorman lost himself in deep thought. He knew waiting here like this would piss off Captain Rees and that of course was what he intended to do. He pictured her in his mind. Her short 5' 2" body echoed through his brain like a shout finding its way over the Grand Canyon. His thoughts were interrupted by the voice of Allenby.
"Captain, the Columbia is running a tacyon sensor sweep."
Gorman smiled again. "She's just trying to rattle me......I mean us." He kicked himself for his error. "Ignore it."
"Aye sir." Allenby always knew when to loose an argument.
Gormans' smile went from ear to ear when an idea came to him. "Commander Lapel. Give me a small plasma leak out the port nacelle."
Lapel wanted to argue, but it wasn't like him to question Gorman. He mumbled to himself as he flew his hands across the controls. "Why the hell does he want a plasma leak if we're trying to hide?"
Gorman couldn't help but wonder what Rees was thinking at the moment. He knew she was probably wondering why he made such a noticeable error. "She's no fool." He said to no one in particular.
"Um.. Captain?" Mirek shouted. "She raised her shields and armed torpedoes."
Everyone flinched in their seats, everyone except for Gorman that is. His smile just got even bigger. Tarbis couldn't control himself, he left his display and approached the Captain. "Sir, she may not know we're here. If they fire on us with our shields down, we'll be destroyed."
"She knows we're here Commander. I made certain of that. She just wants us to go running with our tail between our legs. I won't give her that satisfaction."
"Oh shit Captain!" Allenby shouted. "They're firing phasers."
Lapel jumped to his feet. "Decloak, hail them!"
"Relax everyone." Gorman said with ease, at roughly the same time the phaser blast struck the hull. It of course caused no damaged but the Horseman decloak regardless.
"They're answering our hail sir." Everyone breathed a small sigh of relief. Gorman snickered.
"On screen." The screen morphed into view presenting to him the beauty of Captain Rees. He did his best to ignore it and spoke before she had the chance. "Nice one Danni. You didn't actually expect me to panic and decloak at the first sign of trouble did you?" Gorman still had his evil grin, calling her 'Danni' was the last thing she would have expected. He was of course was just trying to piss her off more than he already had.
She fought back the anger and answered him. Her voice made the hair on the back of his neck stand up from anticipation. "And you didn't actually expect me to believe you weren't here already, hiding out, playing your silly little games do you?"
He felt a little embarrassed but didn't show it. "Of course not. I know you Danni. I figured you'd know I wouldn't be late."
Gorman watched her look around her bridge. Every member of her crew had their eyes on her. Gorman wanted to laugh but figured discretion was the better part of valor.
"You will refer to me as Captain. Understood?" She still sounded so intimidating, even with that little body of hers.
He shrugged. "Sure Captain. Aren't you going to invite me in?"
"You mean permission to come aboard?"
"Whatever." The smile was still large on his face.
He waited outside her quarters a moment or two trying to gather his composure. What Gorman really wanted to do was rush in there and embrace her. He wanted to be with her so bad that he could taste it. It was his duty to stay on track and not get sidetrack by any high school boyish crushes. He stepped inside letting the door close behind him.
She was seated in a chair on the other side of the room. Gorman knew she was only pretending to be busy, trying not to let her emotions show, so being Gorman, he figured he'd mess with her a little. She extended a hand and he accepted.
Without being asked to sit he took upon his himself to do so. "Still driving this old tub around Danni?"
"This old tub." She said, trying to hold back her anger. "Has saved my life more times then I can count." She smiled thinly. "You still flitting around the galaxy in that glorified runabout?"
"Ouch!" Gorman thought to himself. He was about to reply when her communicator chimed.
"Report" She ordered.
A male voice answered. "We're picking up two Federation ships on long range sensors."
Rees was miffed. "So!"
"One of them is a Prevaricate class ship."
She looked at Gorman who had a confused look on his face, that really started to worry her.
Gorman walked to the Brikar's tactical station. "It's a Prevaricate alright. Except there's no way there should be one anywhere near here. In fact the only one that is still operational should be on the other side of the quadrant." He pushed a few buttons on the display which annoyed Ramast. No one messed with his station.
Ramast couldn't control himself. "What are you doing?" He asked in the deepest voice he could mustard."
"I'm trying to get their transponder signal, but this display is a mess! Who the hell sets up their console like this?"
Ramast narrowed his eyes at Gorman. "I do." He brushed Gorman aside. "You only had to ask.....Sir." He set it upon himself to find the transponder signals.
Rees leaned over into Gormans ear. "Don't make an enemy of him. He might step on you." She chuckled. Before Gorman could reply Ramast had his answer. "This is very strange." He said. He looked at the console and blinked his eyes several time. "Captain, the transponder signals of those ships. They're identical to ours."
"What?" She shouted. "That's impossible!" She looked for herself. "My God." She said in a monotoned voice.
"What is it?" Gorman interjected. "Who are they really?"
Shaking her head she responded. "They, Mister Gorman, are us."
Gorman watched the screen awe struck by the site of the Prevaricate class and Excelsior class ships dropped out of warp. It wasn't the site of the ships that caught his eye it was the fact that the ships had obviously been through one hell of a battle. He was lost for words on the matter. He tried desperately to have the right thing to say but he just couldn't find the words to say what it was he was thinking. He looked to his left towards Commander Lapel who was seated in his chair. Lapel also watched the screen not allowing himself to be sidetracked for any reason. Gormans heart began to race as he heard the sound of his ship being hailed. Gorman stuttered a bit as he spoke. "Put it through Mr. Mirek."
The small holographic display morphed itself into view. It seemed to take its time adding to the effect of the situation.
Gorman looked with awe at the face before his eyes. An icy chill ran about him as he confronted his own image.
"Who are you?"
The mirror imaged of himself replied in a calm but bone chilling voice, "I... am you, four years from now. Though this is undoubtedly a shock to you, we come from a point in our mutual history where our situation is desperate, and defeat is imminent. The Federation had no choice but to try this last hope that rests on our shoulders."
"Our shoulders?" Gorman couldn't help but notice several scars all over the face of the future version of himself.
"Yes. Though you are busy right now with the operations you were already assigned, what I am about to ask you to do is both illegal, which never stopped us before, and very dangerous. My existence and our worlds relies upon our success. Without you and your crew, we will both die, and all we have worked to protect will fall."
Gormans interest was yanked into apprehension. "What do you need us to do?"
"We will transfer to the past Shadow Horseman, and together we will attempt to slightly alter the chain of events that will lead to the defeat of our fleets. Though it will not drastically change the outcome of the war, it will serve enough to insure our victory..... and the Federations existence.
The former Gorman looked behind the man he was speaking to and gazed upon the bridge. He noticed two crew members missing. Although he had no factual evidence supporting this person's story, he had a distinct feeling his very soul rested in this man's fate. From that point, he was resolved to the course...
"I had a feeling you'd be wanting a little proof to our story." The older Gorman said. HE was seated at the head of the table inside the War Room along with every member of both teams. The older Lapel stood behind the chair of the younger. The older Tarbis was seated next to Lapel with the younger version watching him like a hawk. Mirek and Allenby both felt a since of uncomfortable ness. They soon came to realize that in the not to distance future they some how cease to exist.
"The thought had crossed my mind." Gorman said.
They waited a few seconds as Captain Rees entered the room. Behind her was the older version of herself. Gorman placed the palm of his hand over his eyes and shook his head back and forth. "This is going to get very confusing."
"Don't stop on my account." Rees answered.
"Captain Rees and myself has prepared a recording of what transpired shortly before we arrived to this point in time. The older Gorman hit a few buttons on the console sending the holographic display morphing into existence. All of them watched eagerly as the front view of the Enterprise came into view. The blue chronometric radiation spewing from her deflector dish. Then the motion of her getting tossed end over end shortly before her utter demise. Gorman took a step forward when he noticed the Missouri in two different sections shifting itself through space. He shut his eyes when the ship went down in its utter defeat.
Lapel was the first to speak. "I don't understand how it could have gotten so bad. What the hell happened?"
"It's not as complicated as it seems." The older Rees answered. "About two months ago Starfleet learned of a Dominion infiltrator deep inside the UFP headquarters. By the time we figured it all out it was already too late. We surmised that the infiltrator was placed there from the beginning of the war feeding our secrets to those Dominion bastards. In doing so they always held the upper hand. Gorman and his team eventually snuffed him out took care of the problem, but by then it was already too late.
"How did you come to find out about the infiltrator?" Gorman had to ask.
"That's where I come in." The older Gorman said as he placed his fingers together in a tee pee like manner. "Let's just say I had the opportunity to interview a Vorta."
Rees stepped forward, the younger Rees that is. Something had obviously caught her attention. "What do you mean by interview?" She asked. Her voice was as cold as space.
"The Vorta was less than enthusiastic about being captured. He had to be.........persuaded."
"WHAT!?" Rees shouted. "You mean torture. You had to torture him to get the information!"
Gorman couldn't believe his ears. He wondered what events had transpired to create such an uproar inside of Rees. He had never seen her in such a fury. Gorman looked inside himself to find an answer to something else, 'what in the world had happened to himself to force him into torturing someone.' It just wasn't his style, his manner. He tried to push it out of his mind but it lingered there continuously and wouldn't let up.
The older Gorman answered Rees a little too suddenly. "Yes I used torture. Intense and painful torture. I assure you it was most effective." At those words Rees bolted forward and threw all of her anger into a fist. Rees had so much built up anger inside her that it all exploded outward in one major punch. The blow launched Gorman out of his chair with such force he never had time to gain his composure. He fell backwards with his head hitting the ground before the rest of his body.
"Relax Captain." The older Rees shouted as she threw her arms around furious Captain. I assure I had the same reservations that you did. We both feel the same about torture you know that but I assure you the ends do justify the means."
It took Rees a second or two before she calmed down. She ignored the compassionate nature of her counter part and kept her senses finely tuned on Gorman as he slowly got up from his defeat. He shook his head a little. Tarbis was tending to his injuries trying his best not to crack a smile. He just couldn't hold it back anymore he had to speak. "So what the hell made you decide to come back to this time. What do you plan to accomplish." It was an obvious attempt to change the subject and ease the tension.
"That's simple." Tarbis' older counterpart stated. "We plan to infiltrate Starfleet headquarters and take care of the spy before he has a chance to do any harm."
"Oh is that all?" He answered with obvious satire in his voice.
"No need for sarcasm Lieutenant-Commander. We are all on the same page here."
"Oh really!" Gorman said. "Tell me, if we're going to risk our necks to take out a spy that we can't even prove exists, you can at least tell me who the person is."
The older Gorman swung his chair around to face his complement. "The Deputy Secretary of Defense Administrator Admiral Johan Wilcox."
"My God Mirek said in disbelief. That's the Presidents right hand man."
"Well then Lieutenant. I see you understand the urgent matter at hand."
Shawn Gorman had questions he wanted answered. He finally came to the conclusion that there was only one way to get them and succumbed to his fears. He pulled his hand away from the door chime showing obvious apprehension. "Why the hell don't I want to hear this." He thought to himself. "I didn't think it would be so hard." He finally forced his hand up and pushed the button. He heard an echo of his own voice saying, "Come."
On board the future Shadow Horseman the doors to the Captains quarters opened and Gorman slowly made his way inside. He felt a sensational chill shoot trough his spine as his footsteps touched down on the carpet. He closed his eyes a second to let the feeling pass.
Entering the room was like walking into a bad mirror image of his world. Everything in the room had been stripped to pieces. In the far dark corner of the room Captain Gorman sat staring at a screen that seem to be stuck in motion. Shadows overlapped his face underscoring the darkness that had invaded his soul.
When the older Gorman spoke it was obvious there was no emotion left alive in him. "You know how long it's been since I've seen a movie."
Gorman was startled. He cocked his head to the side but before he could reply his counterpart answered for him. "Longer than you want to believe. I don't even watch the stars anymore. Funny this is the first time I've watched anything in these many years and you have to walk in and interrupt me."
Gorman now realized why the screen seemed to be paused. "Oh, well poor pitiful you. Let me know how many tears you'd like me to cry."
The older Gorman laughed. "I remember that sense of humor I had once." He signed very heavily. "Yeah once upon a time."
Gorman paced over to the desk, the apprehension showing with every step. There was a sound that came from under his feet, he looked only to find himself walked on a shattered statue of an American Bald Eagle. Gorman looked away pretending that he never saw it.
Gorman wasn't one for prying into other's affairs, but he needed certainty and asked what he dreaded to be true, "I need to know something."
"Yes I know. I knew you'd come here sooner or later." He paused letting the thought linger in the air. "It's your fault you know."
Gorman pretended not to understand. "What is?"
"The answer to your question." Gorman leaned out from the shadows placing his hands on the desk. "It's your fault."
He nodded finally admitting he understood. "Allenby, and Mirek? Yes, what happened to them? You say it is my fault."
"You let them die."
Gorman got a little weak in the knees. "I....I don't understand."
"HA HA Of course you don't. You never understand anything.......We never understand anything. You just let it all happen. You fucked up a mission. You set off some kind of alarm and Mirek and Allenby never made it back to the ship. You left them there to die. Last I heard they were being taken back to Cardassia Prime as prisoners of war, but we both know the Dominion don't take prisoners."
"No they don't do they."
"I later learned that they were tortured to death in a holding cell. And you know after everything they were put through, they never gave up any information."
"How do you know that for sure."
An evil like smirk came across the face of the elder Gorman. "Because I got my hands on the Vorta that caused their death."
"The one you tortured? The one you mention in the briefing?"
"Yeah, cool huh?"
Gorman couldn't believe the attitude his older self had. He actually enjoyed torturing that Vorta. "So that explains everything." He started to pace.
"Oh so the little man wanted to know what would bring himself to torture someone eh? Well let me tell you, losing Allenby and Mirek was as if my own life had been taken. I have never recovered from it."
Gorman couldn't believe his ears. It's not that he didn't believe the situation, it was more like he couldn't believe that deep down he knew exactly how his complement felt. He would have done nothing less himself. He found himself agreeing with the other Gorman and decided it was time he needed to get out of that room. "Well we have a mission to take care of."
"Yes I suppose we do."
Gorman left the ready room much faster than he had entered.
"Look, as far as I'm concerned the infiltrater could have his tentacles throughout Starfleet and on every ship. The Columbia is just too large to make sure everyone is watched all the time. There could be a traitor on board." Commander Lapel shouted out to the members of both Special Ops team inside the War Room
"I agree." Gorman answered. "Which is why I alerted Rees to that problem about an hour ago. She assured me she would take any necessary precautions. I believe her." It was unlike anyone to disagree with Gorman so Lapel felt convinced, but he would not be beaten. "Aye sir, but I would like to go over the mission specifics myself."
"Very well." Lapel noticed that the older version of himself shifted in his seat and shook his head. Lapel couldn't help but look at him. The older Lapel obviously had something on his mind but just couldn't bring himself to talk about it.
Gorman continued. "That's pretty much it here. Since we are convinced that we will be found out, both Columbia's will hold off anything that Admiral Wilcox may send at us. While the rest of us infiltrate Starfleet Headquarters and um... you see the thing is there will be a conference on Earth in hopes of ending the war. The Admiral will more than likely be there and that's where will take care of the job."
"Oh that's ironic." Mirek said. Leave it to him to state the obvious. Everyone snickered at Mireks satire.
"If there is nothing else, it's time we prepare." At those words everyone filed out of the room. They left one by one. Lapel was the last to leave as usual but was stopped abruptly by his older self.
"Listen Lapel." He said after the others had left. "Stay away from Rees. She's trouble."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Lapel was more agitated than angry, and a bit confussed.
"Look just trust me. You don't know what really went on between Gorman and Rees, if you get involved it will jeopardize your friendship in away you can never imagine."
"Look, I don't have a clue what you mean. Unless you plan on spelling it out for me I suggest you let me pass."
The older Lapel conceded and let him through in a nonchalant manner. After Lapel had left the room the older man looked around the war room and lost control of his rage. "DAMNIT!" he shouted as he put his fist through the bulkhead.
Commander Lapel walked into the ready room of Captain Rees onboard the Columbia. He was still troubled by the words of his complement but someone pushed it to the back of his mind.
She was seated at her desk legs crossed, reading a pad. He found his eyes travelling up and down her body giving her a good look over. "Damn this woman is beautiful." He thought to himself.
"Can I help you commander?" She asked as she shifted in her seat.
Lapel knew she caught him looking at her legs. "Oops." He thought. He stammered a minute to regain his composure. "I um..er I brought you the schematics of our plans to go over with your senior staff."
"My staff has been briefed already. You could have just transmitted them to me."
"Too risky. This ship is rather large and with all do respect there could be an infiltrator on board. We don't won't the Admiral back home getting wind of our situation. If a Changeling was on board he would most certainly find a way to get out a signal."
"Hmm." She said as she swung out of her chair and stood. She walked towards him to get the pad. His mouth opened slightly when she saw her figure up close. "Why hadn't I noticed before?"
"Noticed what?" She asked?
"Uh what, uh nothing." He didn't realize he had spoken out loud.
"Commander some of my senior staff felt the same way you did. I assure you the Columbia is safe as it can be.
"Not that I doubt you Captain it's just if the Dominion can get to the President...."
"Look!" She shouted. We have taken all necessary precautions. We're cutting off all transmissions, using passive scans only, I don't think I need to go over all of this with you. This is my ship."
"Yes but unless you forget the SO team has complete command over any mission regardless of the situation."
Her voice has getting louder, as was his. "No Commander the S.O. CAPTAIN has complete command over the mission and the last time I checked you were not the Captain."
"Well maybe if I were the Captain I would get to flirt with you and pretend that I wasn't." It was a cheap shot but Lapel didn't care. He was pissed.
"How dare you Commander, the Captain and I..." Before she could finish her sentence he reached forward and grabbed her by the back of the neck. With all his force he pulled her face into his and kissed her deeply. She kissed him back for a moment, then stopped and looked deeply into his eyes. She stepped back, and slapped him as hard as she could. Lapel rubbed his chin, wondering if he'd misread things. Rees said, "There, now where were we?" She grabbed Lapel this time and kissed him hard. He slowly ran his tongue along the edges of her ear causing her body to go limp.
She slowly and reluctantly brought her hands up to the back of his neck. She dug in her nails making his hair stand on end. He ran his finger tips down across her face making her even more relaxed. When his hand reached the bottom of her chin he reached to the back and jerked back on her hair. She moaned a bit either from pain or from anticipation he didn't know.
They both walked back slowly with free movements of their hands. He unzipped the front of her uniform letting the jacket fall to the floor. Her red undershirt just made her look all that more attractive. They reached her desk where she ever so casually pushed everything off to the floor and scooted her way onto it. She grabbed his black sleeveless uniform at the waist area and pulled it off over his head she ran her nails across his chest and stomach area engulfed in his physic.
He leaned forward and kissed her again more passionately than before. He had never felt or done anything like this before but there was just no stopping it. With all the killing he had done his whole career, all he ever wanted to do now was learn to love.
Lapel had a smirk about him that just wasn't going away. Allenby noticed it as she passed his station on the way to her own. She wanted to stop and say something but it was so unlike Lapel to open up to any member of the team she felt discretion was the better part of valor. She did however whisper to her self. "He's smiling like he just got laid." She continued on.
"Captain. The Columbia, er the current one is hailing us."
"Put it through." A holographic display of captain Rees appeared before Gorman. Lapels heart started to pound. "Gorman here, what's up?"
"We're getting close now Captain. We have four Starfleet ships on long range sensors. We don't think they have us on theirs yet, but you'd better cloak now anyway."
"Understood Captain. Try to keep them occupied."
"Mr. Mirek alert the other Horseman of our situation."
Both 'Horsemen' cloaked themselves leaving the two Columbia's' alone in space. Gorman wondered if those four ships were gunning for them or not, but it was best to take all precautions just to be sure.
"Captain I'm picking them up now." Lapel shouted. "Two ships and Akira and Norway class are breaking off towards Earth, a Galaxy and a Sabre class," He paused. "Are on an intercept course."
"Go to silent running. Maximum shields. Prepare counter measures. Lets try to swing around then before they have a chance to run tachyon traces. It's unlikely they'll pick us up but it's best to be on our guard. Allenby send Rees any weak spots that you can remember from the Enterprise. It might help them with the Galaxy class."
"Captain I'm picking up hailing frequencies. They must know we're here because it's on a wide band for general hail."
"This is Captain Ladin. You are ordered to lower your shields and surrender your vessels. This is your only warning."
"Damnit! Rees is on her own. Go to maximum warp get us out of here before the fireworks start."
"We're just going to leave her?" Lapel asked with sympathy in his voice.
"We have more pressing matters to attend to Commander. Where's your head."
Lapel realized his error. "Sorry sir. Understood."
The Horseman's engines roared as it leaped into warp.
The bridge sat silently for a while as everyone contemplated the task at hand. The whole aura had not really set in yet. The Horseman from the future, the bombardment of Earth, all of these things seemed like a distant memory yet an uncanny burden sat on all of their shoulders. Each and everyone one of them knew that the future of the Earth, unlike anytime before, rested in their hands.
"We're approaching Earth." Mirek said as he broke the silence.
"Go to impulse. What's the status of those two ships."
"Hard to tell sir. Our sensors are being jammed. No doubt by the very same ships."
"Damn. I need options people."
"Son of a bitch! Captain look."
Gorman glanced up at the view screen after hearing the shouts of Tarbis. The Horseman from the future had decloaked and headed towards the Moon.
"What the hell is she doing?"
Without fail an Akira and Norway class vessel came out of nowhere launching a volley of torpedoes on the ship.
"Dear God. They'll get themselves killed. Get Gorman on the con."
"Coming through sir."
The holo-emitter was too damaged to work so Gorman made himself appear on the screen. "What the hell are you doing Gorman?"
"Look, we're expendable and you know it. So don't lecture me or I'll come over there and kick your ass."
"He has a way with words." Lapel said sarcastically.
The screen went blank. Gorman shook his head in disbelief.
"They're creating a diversion. If the ships are too busy fighting they can't detect us entering the atmosphere." Mirek said.
"Very well then." There was reluctance in Gormans voice.
"Captain." There was an urgency in Mireks voice. "One of the Columbia's is breaking off and heading towards Earth. The other has positioned themselves to take the full front of the assault. She doesn't stand a chance."
"There's nothing we can do for them. Take us down Allenby."
"Aye sir." Gorman made on last look at the view screen the Horseman was getting flung from one side to another. She never even really tried to fight back. "Good luck Gorman."
The Shadow horseman dance across the top of a three-story building at Starfleet Headquarters. All the while the thoughts of the team fell back to their comrades in orbit above. They wanted desperately to somehow help them in any way they could. As much as they tried to concentrate on the task before them their thoughts still drifted.
"Ok people. Let's put our minds in the game. We can help them more by doing our job." Gormans voice pushed their minds back to reality.
They each geared up one by one as they waited for the H.I.P.D to burn a hole through the roof of the building. Since this was a Starfleet Facility there was no point in Allenby staying on the ship monitoring the situation so she joined them. They hurried along as Allenby added the final touches to the tricorders. They added a few extra cloaking devices to the pockets of their vests.
Gorman noticed a different look to Allenby's expression. "You ok Allenby?"
"Yes sir. It's just..." She paused wondering if she should even bring it up. "There are an awful lot of Admirals and top Dominion officers at these meetings. You would think that the roof would be covered in guards and that downloading a map of the facility would be a little more difficult than it was."
"You think maybe the Dominion set a trap for us?"
"I don't know sir. It just seemed too easy."
"That's a valid point. Lets keep on our toes. We don't want any surprises. Our objective is clear. We get in, take out the Admiral and expose the Dominion."
"Well there goes the peace talks." Tarbis smirked. The laughter of the team followed breaking the intensity in the air.
When Gorman dropped through the holographic display of the roof he immediately positioned his rifle on his shoulder and took aim. Two security guards stood at the end of the hallway guarding the only entrance into the room. "Wonderful." Gorman thought. The last thing he wanted to do was fire on Starfleet Officers. The rest of the team followed one at a time.
Lapel crept up to the two officers as quietly as possible. He felt as if he was walking on glass. He wondered if the weapons fire would set off any alarms. More then likely they would so Lapel found a better course of action. Pointing to Tarbis and then slamming his fist into the palm of his hands was a way of instructing Tarbis what to do next.
Tarbis of course understood completely. He moved over and stood between the two officers. He grabbed each of them by the back of the neck causing both to fall to the floor unconscious. "Good work." Gorman agreed.
"Allenby, place a cloak on both of them. We don't want anyone to come down that hall and find them right away."
"Aye sir." She moved over to them as Gorman and Tarbis forced the door open. As the doors slid open the two security guards disappeared from site. "Lets move." Gorman ordered.
The voices of the conference could now be heard echoing through the building. Gorman couldn't place the voice with a face but he was certain it was the President. They moved to the balcony that sat before them. He leaned over slightly to catch a glance of the room. The room was filled with dozens of individuals from several races. Banners of all the major powers present hung from the ceiling extending down almost ten feet. At the front of the room the President of the United federation of Planets. To the right of the President sat several Dominion officials comprising up of Three Vorta and Half a dozen Jem'Hadar.
To the other side of the President several Starfleet Admirals were seated at their designated chairs along with the Admiral they were there to take care of.
"Target sited. Two chairs down from the Admiral. Split up. No one fires until I give the order."
No one said a word as they moved off to their assigned duties. Gorman, Tarbis and Allenby headed off towards back stairs. Lapel and Mirek would stay up on the balcony to get a clearer shot of the Dominion if the chance presented itself.
The Presidents voice spoke with authority. He had obviously rehearsed his speech many times with such seasoned political opponets seated next to him.
Gorman and Tarbis came off the stairs and stepped into the room. The fact there were no guards caught Gormans attention but he figured that the two sides had agreed there would be no armed officers at the proceedings. Allenby stayed at the bottom of the stairs to take up the rear flank.
Gorman and Tarbis moved off to either side of the room 'tip toeing' down the alley ways. They slowly made their way to the front of the room doing their best to avoid everyone that moved about. Since most people were fixed on the President it wasn't that difficult. When they reached the front of the room Gorman pointed to Lapel. No sooner did he give the sign to decloak when all hell broke loose.
Red alert sirens wailed through the room. The Vorta jumped back and took cover behind the Jem'Hadar who without their weapons were still formidable foes. The President looked around the room begging for an explanation. A young officer ran into the room barely avoiding Allenby. He made his way through the terrified crowd up to the President. "Mister President." He shouted. "We've got the renegade ships in orbit. The rest of the fleet has arrived to help but we need to get you to safety."
"What ships?" The President asked in confusion. "What is the meaning of this?" He looked to his Admirals for answers. Gorman used this time to his advantage. "NOW!" He shouted to lapel.
Both him and Tarbis decloaked and leaped over the countertop towards the Admiral. Screams ran through the room as the site of the two men was indeed startling. Gorman held his riffle out and fired on the Admiral before anything could be done. The Admiral was stunned and fell to the floor unconscious. Tarbis moved over and held his riffle at the Jem'Hadar soldiers.
"I demand to know what is going on here." The President pleaded.
"Call off the Fleet Mister President. Those ships are on our side. This Admiral here is a Changeling." He pointed down to the fallen man who was playing the part a little too well. The phaser should have had no affect on the changeling. Gorman felt a little queezy as he walked to check the man. The Admiral lay motionless until the last possible moment. He sprung up from his lying position and jumped into the air. He attempted to turn himself into some sort of animals that sprouted wings but he never got that chance. Phaser fire from all directions found their marks. Allenby, Lapel, and Mirek fired shot after shot hitting the Changeling. With no where to go the Shape Shifter gave out a violent shriek as he disintegrated.
Armed security teams now filled the room from all corridors. The President moved back to the podium. He had no idea what was going on and his face proved that fact.
Gorman turned to see the security forces taking the Dominion Officers into custody.
Gorman was almost awe struck by the report of Captain Rees. How the fleet made it's way towards Earth and destroyed the future Columbia. He sat and wondered what was going through the minds of the Federation ship mates that pulled the trigger. He could only imagine that they hated themselves, but of course they were only following orders.
He made his way through the corridors of the Columbia on his way to see the Captain. The future Horseman never really stood a chance against two state of the art Federation vessels. According to Rees' report she tried to help as much as possible but there was no saving her. The Horseman had just been through too much.
Gorman reminisced about the long in-depth conversations that he and his counterpart had. "He told me so many things," he thought to himself. "How could ever turn into such a monster.
He approached the door of Captain Rees. Just for annoyance he decided not to knock and just walk right on in. It was the worst mistake of his life. When the doors parted Commander Doran Lapel stammered to wrap the sheets around his waist. Captain Rees also did her best efforts. The two of them had been caught in the act by the last man they ever wanted to find out.
"Ah jeez um Captain. I uh..." Lapel started but Gorman turned and left the room as quickly as he came.
After the two of them had gotten dressed Lapel and Rees stared into each others eyes. "Well I guess I have some explaining to do when I get back to the Horseman."
Rees nodded. "I knew it would eventually come to that. Listen we need to have a talk."
"No don't say anything, and you sure as hell better not give me that you're such a nice guy speech."
Rees looked down with obvious pain in her eyes. "You know this is where we say goodbye. The Columbia has been called off to join the fleet and I'm sure the Horseman is off to God knows where? And..." She was silenced by the kiss of Lapel.
"This is not a goodbye. This is until next time."
"I'd like that." Rees agreed. "You've helped me in so many ways. After my capture by the Dominion I was afraid all I would know how to do anymore was hate. You changed that in me."
"I know. And I have never once learned to love another person. Until now." They both smiled.
"You and Gorman will have quit a bit to talk about you know."
"I'm not sure I follow?"
"I think it would be best coming from him. Meanwhile lets say goodbye again." She said as she grabbed him and pushed him towards the bed.
Some time later the bell to Gormans ready room chimed. Gorman didn't answer at first. He waited until it rang several more times before he finally said "Come."
Lapel entered the room to only see the back of Gorman. Gorman stood in the window way of the room watching Earth. "No need to fell like you've done something wrong Doran." It was the first time Gorman ever called him by his first name. "What ever happened between me and Rees was a long time ago."
"Captain, it's just.." He never got to finish.
"The other Gorman warned me of this." He turned to face Lapel. "He told me that something would come between us and our relationship would never be the same. I didn't believe him until now."
Lapel thought back to the scene with him and the older Lapel. He nodded. "I know. My future complement tried to warn me as well. I didn't realize what he meant."
"Well I'm not going to let that happen. You and I have been friends for too long. We've been through too much." He walked over and took his chair. Lapel followed. "Did she tell you anything about us?"
"Actually no sir."
Gorman grunted. "We use to be married."
Lapel jumped back to his feet. "WHAT!?" His heart raced.
Relax Doran let me finish. "You do of course remember when Abby was," He tried to find the right words. "killed on the Cardassian Planet."
"Well yes sir. It's not everyday you watch the wife of your First Officer get butchered by a Cardassian."
"Yes well. I never really recovered from that. I left Special Ops for a while never wanting to return. Then I met Rees." He smiled. "Oh she was so beautiful. She helped me fill that void that was missing in my life. I filled her full of false hopes and self promises that I never intended to keep. After only three months of marriage I proved to be too much to live with. The agony of Abby was always there. It still is today."
"I see." So what happened next.
"Well she got her a new Starship and I got the order to Captain a new team and a new ship. So I took it and so did she. We've never looked back since but there will always be that what if lurking in the back of my mind. As I am sure it is there for her too.
"That explains an awful lot." Lapel wanted deeply to say something to ease the pain of Gorman but there was nothing he could do that could ever fill that void.
"We just received our new orders. The Columbia is to escort us to the front line of the Dominion border."
Lapels interest suddenly changed. Not for the reason of where they were going but he happened to realize that he would get to see Rees for a little while longer. He played off his surprise. "Dear God. What do they have planned."
"Don't know. We are to receive our orders in route. But I can tell you this. This mission is of the utmost importance. What ever Starfleet has planned you can bet it may have something to do to end the war."
Commander Lapel waited a few moments for something else to be said. When it wasn't he took that upon himself to get up and leave the office. He looked back at Gorman who starred vigilantly through the table lost in deep thought. He thought it best to just keep going without another word.
Special Thanks to Jarret S. Ronning of the USS Columbia for making this episode possible. Please visit the Columbia to read the other side of the story. After all there is always two sides to every story.
In Viea Periculae
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