A bit of character development fluff I did back in 2006 on some PBEM I can’t remember the name of. It was mostly to introduce the new character to the rest of the players. My stay there was rather… short. The reason I put this here, I found was that is was actually the most concluded work I’ve ever done. Hopefully I can finish some of my better stories and chuck them up here too.
“Flight Control, do you copy. This is Transport Echelon One requesting permission to land.”
The pilot’s cool, collective voice could be heard all the way from the forward passenger cabin. Many on this voyage had come a long way to this place to find a future to build for themselves. Practically all that were seated there were excited as the transport entered orbit, displaying the wondrous view of the planet below. All except for one, whose sharp gaze penetrated the porthole window as they descended. His face remained impassive, as the view brought back some memories.
“Roger that, Transport Echelon Three. Permission granted to Landing dock 5. Welcome to Valhalla Colony.”
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.” he heard from the internal comm. “We’ll be arriving at Valhalla Colony in approximately half an hour. Please remain seated as…”
And then, he remembered.
“…the LZ is hot. I repeat, the LZ is hot…”
The Colonel looked up after receiving the message. He sighed deliberately before talking to the pilot.
“Have Victor Squadron meet us at the window. We’ll need the cover until we can make a safe landing.”
He turned to his company, his Warhounds. Decorated in every combat engagement since their creation during the Romulan War, they were the best there was. Hardnosed ground troops that could just keep going. That’s what it would take to win this war against the Dominion.
“Maytag, what’s the report from the outpost?” the Colonel barked.
A roguish young woman in marine camos replied. “Sir, reports say they’re under heavy enemy fire from the southwest bay. They’re holding, but they don’t think they’ll last in the next few hours. As for the Valley Gate, there seem to be light skirmishes, though scouts report armour approaching from the north.”
He nodded and turned to a veritable brick wall. “Salden, you will take Platoon Sierra, and heavy support to bolster their defence at the southwest.”
Salden merely grunted in affirmation and bowed like any Brikar would. The Colonel turned to his lead marksman.
“O`Nyce, you and your boys will take to the Valley hills. I’ll let you decide on placement.”
“Aye sir.” said the pale looking man, cleaning his scope.
“As for the rest of you grunts, we’ll be fortifying the north until the armour comes. Air support should make its second run before the enemy even reaches the gates. Major K`wor and Captain Grayle have their orders with their platoons in the other transports. We’re holding his outpost, and no Dominion sonofabitch is taking it. Is that understood?”
“SIR, YES SIR!!” they all shouted in unison.
“Good. Get kitted, ‘cause it’s gonna light up like a damn Christmas tree down there.”
The Colonel smiled, then noticed out of the corner of his eye, the young third year marine cadet sitting by the porthole, staring into space. Why the hell he was here made no sense to him, but orders were orders, and despite the ‘greenness’ of this cadet, there was a certain veterancy that the academy instructors noticed. But putting this kid in with the Warhounds was like tossing a puppy into a lion’s den.
“Hey Kid,” the Colonel said as he approached. “Everything will be fine. We’ll go in, kill the bad guys and throw a damn party. Strictly routine and by the book.”
But it looked like the kid didn’t pay any attention to what the Colonel said. He was still busy looking out the window into space. This irked the Colonel somewhat until the kid spoke up.
“That is if we make it to Chin`toka, sir.” the kid replied.
“What do you mean, son?” The Colonel followed his gaze out the window. “Shit!”
And as if on cue, the proximity alarms went.
“We’ve got company, Colonel.” shouted the pilot. “Two squadrons of Jem`Hadar attack ships, bearing two two niner.”
“Evasives, Hendricks. Contact the other transports and prepare to engage. Call up the gunners, we’re gonna need them.”
“Aye sir.” said the pilot as he worked furiously.
The Colonel’s boots clanked on the decking as he strode down to the back. “Alright, listen up boys and girls. Sit down, strap in, and shut up. We can’t do jack in space so we may as well enjoy the roller coaster ride.” He tapped at the wall console. “Tango Squadron, do you copy.”
“This is Tango One, we copy.” said the squadron leader of the escort provided.
“Engage the bogeys, protect the package at all costs.”
“Copy that, Valkyrie One.”
The initial attack was all but a dazzling array of phaser streams in the cold darkness of space. Tango One nailed the head of the Jem`Hadar attack as they flew in a V formation. Coming about in a strafing pattern, they caught them on the left flank. But something went wrong. Tango Six broke formation shortly before his craft ignited in a fiery blaze as he took the brunt of a torpedo hit.
“Five, this is One, copy.”
“This is Five, just a little shaken. God damn Six, it was right in front of him.”
“Forget that, you take Two and Four and keep to the transports. I’ll take Three, Seven and Nine on intercept.”
“Copy that, One.”
The four broke off, leaving the three to guard the transports. Like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, they engaged with violent fury as almost two full squadrons closed on them. Akin to a four pronged pitchfork, they stabbed through the line, destroying their chosen four. Nine got her wing singed, but still carried on. Three had better days, but managed to get his shields up before a barrage sent him tumbling away in a tailspin. The three still active came about and engaged the enemy from behind, when suddenly they changed course, heading straight for the transports.
“Damnit, Five, they’re coming for ya. Brace for it.”
Weapons fire bracketed the transports as they came into range of the attack ships. Five and the others watching over the transports engaged the oncoming threat. It was sheer lunacy of just three fighters coming up to a near full squadron.
And then the transports erupted in a firestorm as they unleashed a barrage of phaser fire onto the oncoming interceptors. The first was torn to shreds from the start, and the ones directly behind soon followed its leader’s course of destruction. Several banked sharply, forcing them to u-turn back into the Horsemen. None made it out of the crossfire.
There was cheering on all channels as the fighters and transports reported in. The Colonel just smiled as he received the count from Tango One. He looked over to the kid, who seemed to be grinning slightly.
“Mr. Morias.” called the Colonel. “Mr. Morias…”
“Mr. Morias…” called the flight attendant, shaking the man’s shoulder. “Mr. Morias, we’ve landed.”
Morias Aratos opened his eyes, turning to the female flight attendant whom woke him up.
“Yes. Thank you.” he replied as he stood up to retrieve his travel bag.
She smiled. “You’re welcome. Right this way, sir.” She gestured to the exit ramp.
He nodded simply before making his way out and down the ramp onto the landing deck. Looking around briefly, he noted there were quite a few civilians walking around.
A Starfleet Marine Officer was approaching him. As he drew closer he came to be recognised as an Alpha Centaurian.
“Lieutenant Morias Aratos?” asked the Alpha Centaurian.
“Yes. I am he.” he replied. They both saluted each other.
“Good. I am Lieutenant Jeffery Kretzler. I was sent to meet you and to take you to the main office to meet the Colonel.”
“Understood.” Morias looked around for a second before adding. “Lead the way.”
“Follow me.” said Kretzler as he marched off towards a building not too far off. “And welcome to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.”
“You may go in now, Lieutenant. He’s expecting you.”
Morias looked over from the waiting room over to Kretzler. He gave a curt nod before standing up to head to the Colonel’s office.
Upon entering, he glanced around for barely a second before focusing his attention on the man at the desk. Standing stiffly, he snapped off a sharp salute.
“Lieutenant Morias, reporting for duty, sir.”
Kaufman returned the salute as he looked up from his mountain of paperwork, shifting the pile to the side, except for one lone file and a datapadd.
He took the cigar out of his mouth, rolling it between his fingers. “Excellent. You’re our new commander of the 5th Company, correct?”
“Yes sir. I am.” Morias said calmly.
Kaufman kept his gaze on him for a few more seconds before continuing. “You report to me, Lieutenant and no one else. Is that clear?”
“Crystal clear, sir.” Morias replied, still unnervingly calm.
“Good. We’ll be having a briefing at 0900 tomorrow. Kretzler will assist you on anything else. Dismissed.”
Morias snapped off another salute before leaving. As the doors closed behind him, he looked over to Kretzler.
“You’ll be assigned to Officers Quarters 12. Is there anything else, Lieutenant?”
“Yes. I’d like to have tour around the place, if that’s alright.”
“Certainly, I’ll send someone by shortly.”
Morias left Kaufman’s office and made his way to one of the officer’s quarters to where he would be staying. It wasn’t too long until he arrived at the door, keying in his pass-code before entering. Looking around, it was a small unassuming apartment, equipped with a kitchen, lounge and so forth. It was a little over the top for Morias’ tastes as he closed the door behind him.
Walking over to a small table by the window, he carefully removed the flower vase and the various items placed on it over on the kitchen countertop. Opening his duffel bag he carefully pulled out a couple of squat-looking candles, placing them left and right of the centre of the table. Reaching back into his bag, he pulled out a small shrine, putting it between the two candles.
Morias opened the shrine and silently uttered a prayer, before looking at the small, hand-drawn picture of a bajoran man placed inside.
The Guided Tour.
A knock came from the door of Morias’ apartment. He’d managed to find some time to have a shower and change into his light duty uniform, which bore resemblance to the old Terran marine fatigues as it had a camouflage pattern over it. The only difference was that the normal duty shirt was still worn underneath.
Opening the door, he was greeted by a young woman in flight overalls. Her hair was short and dark with crimson highlights, styled so that it spiked out behind her head and down. Much like hedgehog, only more elegant.
“Lieutenant Morias Aratos?” she asked.
“Yes, who are you?”
She stiffened slightly, possibly from the forthcoming banter, or possibly from the lack of protocol. “I am Flight Officer Ensign Naomi Jaeger. I hear you want a tour of the place.”
“That I do, Ensign.” He reached over to his right and picked up a small travelling pack. “Shall we?”
Jaeger nodded before making her way down the corridor, Morias in tow.
“There are many sights to see around the colony, Lieutenant. I think we should start off at-”
“Are you cleared for runabout access?” Morias asked flatly.
“Yes, but why Lieutenant? Everything’s within walking distance.”
“There’s someplace I’d like to go to first.”
Jaeger considered this and nodded. “Alright, I think the runabout Antredes is still in the hangar. It’s this way.”
Morias followed after her. He had to give her some credit in trying to be as accommodating for him as possible. “Tell me about the colony anyway. Any good drinking places?”
And as if Morias had hit the on switch, she started talking.
“Well, if drinking’s your game, I recommend Leo’s in the Hills District. Sure it looks dilapidated on the outside, but it’s well kept inside. Good for atmosphere too. Just hope Sark doesn’t knock it down for another commercial business. I swear that Ferengi can talk out of his ass sometimes and still close a deal.”
Morias just nodded. Ferengi didn’t bother him much.
“The SEALs drop by every so often when they have shore leave. They usually head over to Leo’s. Strange thing about you Marines and the SEAL’s, you always seem to be butting heads wherever you meet.”
“SEALs don’t concern me.” Morias managed in a quick reply.
“Really? Wow, I mean… Really? You don’t care about SEALs?”
“No. I don’t.” he replied flatly.
They both turned a corner into the hangar. In front of them was a runabout with a few maintenance crews around it.
Jaeger approached one of the other officers there. “Hey Frankie, Antredes ready for running?”
Commander Frank Jaeger, The Dayshift Chief of Flight Ops looked over to his sister. “Y’know, most people around here call me sir or Commander, Ensign. Besides, Antredes is being checked over for her to be shipped out back to Norsemen while we wait for a fresh new wing of runabouts.”
And like a true sister, she didn’t hear any of it.
“Aww, come on Frankie. I’ve got to show this new guy around. Colonel’s orders.”
Commander Jaeger looked over to Morias before extending his hand. “Commander Frank Jaeger, the CAG Officer running this operation.”
Morias grasped Frank Jaeger’s hand in reciprocation. “Lieutenant Morias Aratos, 5th Company Commander of the 5th Marine Expeditionary.”
“Not bad, not bad.” He looked to his sister again and sighed in surrender. “Alright sis, but watch it. She’s just had a new paintjob.”
Ensign Jaeger smiled and nodded. “Yes, sir”
Ten minutes into their flight plan and already Jaeger was circling the runabout around the colony for a splendid birds-eye view of everything.
“So, Lieutenant. Where do you want to go?”
“Vega Outpost.” he replied without taking his eyes off a report of the more recent Zanderan activity.
“Vega Outpost? That’s like four hours away. Are you sure you don’t want to go somewhere a little more localised?”
“No. Take me to Vega Outpost.”
Jaeger remained stubborn. “Not until you tell me why you want to go there. It’s a long way off, and we don’t have much influence over that area anymore.”
“Yes, I know.” he said, still not even making any eye contact.
She turned to Morias. “Look, if you don’t tell me, I’m gonna turn this runabout and back to Valhalla. Now are you going to tell me or not?”
Morias sighed, turning off his padd and setting it aside before looking up at Jaeger. The way she was looking at him in a half serious manner was kind of annoying.
“Alright what?” Jaeger asked.
“I’ll tell you, just keep heading there.”
Jaeger glanced back to the helm controls before turning back to Morias.
“So why do you want to go there? No one has been there since it was taken near the end of the Dominion war.”
Morias sighed and stared blankly to the horizon.
“Because I was there when we lost it…”
Treading the Dawn.
Two years ago…
“Valkyrie One, do you copy.”
“This is Valkyrie. Go ahead Vega Outpost.”
“LZ is clear for now. Not sure how long it’ll last though.”
“Roger that, Vega. Valkyrie out.”
The three transports with their fighter escort headed to their destination uninterrupted. Transit was as per standard protocol, so not much was happening. The initially raucous marines on board were now silent and fully alert as their craft made its way out of orbit and down into the atmosphere. By the time they reached a low flying altitude, the two other transports headed in different directions, each with their own fighter escort of Tango Squadron.
Minutes later, Valkyrie One was there. Vega Outpost, formerly a Cardassian constructed means of land defence and re-supply, it now was in control of the Starfleet Marine Corps. As the ramp doors opened from the belly of the transport, a single man stood on the ramp as several squads of marines poured out to take their assigned positions outside and around the outpost. He wore a peaked cap of an officer and the bars of the Colonel. He puffed on his newly lit cigar before issuing orders.
“Maytag, take the rookie with you to the communications array. They’ll want him to work his magic. As for everyone else, their orders stand as before. Guard rotations and confirmations every two hours.”
“Aye Colonel.” Maytag turned into the transport and signalled the boy over. “Alright rookie, time to show the boss what you’re made of.”
“Yes, Sergeant.” Young Morias said as he collected his gear together before exiting the transport. They both headed over to the comm. building in the centre of the compound.
The Colonel watched them go. Colonel Elias Schaeffer was his name and so far he was in his element. Orders were given, and all his marines were ready. Now he just had to confer with the officer in charge of the outpost.
Morias looked over the schematics before glancing back at the console. He’d seen this security configuration before, back on Bajor during the Occupation. It was just a matter of remembering.
“Well?” asked one of the techs who was working previously on the computer systems.
Morias furrowed his brow studiously. “It’s a cross-sequential level 12 protocol. I haven’t seen one of these in ages.” He began running his hands over the console, rapidly entering commands as he hacked the system to gain access. “Pass me my tricorder, please. I need to upload a type 4 recursive.”
Maytag handed him the tricorder and Morias continued with his work. “You’re sure making a hell of an impression, kid.”
With the upload complete, he continued to work his way into the cardassian system. “You have no idea how many bajorans died for this critical technique I’m about to use.” Tapping once to finalise the command, the lights above flickered as its linkages were severed from the mainframe.
The cardassian logo appeared on the once blank screens, all signifying a Level 12 access. Basically everything from incoming intelligence reports to whom the Gul was sleeping with the night when the marines took over.
“And that’s, how you fork a spoonhead. Are we done?” finished Morias.
“Colonel Schaeffer, 13th Strike Company?”
“Yes. I take it you are Captain Ridas, 8th Chin`toka Armoured Division.”
“Aye Colonel. We stumbled upon this outpost a few days ago while on patrol east of the Valhalla ruins. Didn’t even show up on scans, long range or otherwise, until we destroyed its cloaking generator. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more like this place out there.” said the somewhat dismayed marine captain.
“It might pay for us to scout around later. Have your company report back to Pierce Outpost, Captain. Looks like you could use a break.”
“Yeah, not used to infantry coming in waves. Jemmies are crazy bastards. Still, I request leaving at least two light support vehicles. You never know, sir.”
Schaeffer nodded. “Done, inform your men, Captain. We’ll hold this position for months if we have to.”
Ridas gave him a salute before heading off. Schaeffer saluted back then looked towards the rising sun breaching the horizon.
Takes Two to Tango.
Morias looked around the desolate compound after stepping off the runabout. There was a twinge of remorse as he took in the scenery, remembering all those years past.
“So you were here when the shit hit the fan, El-Tee?” asked Jaeger.
Morias didn’t answer at first as he made his way over to one of the buildings. Reaching for the door, it fell off its runners, landing with a dull thud on the ground. “Yeah, you could say that.”
He entered what was known as the mess-hall all those years ago. It wasn’t used for much aside from a place to eat, drink and talk. Now, it was a scavenged mess. Tables turned and empty crates, not much had survived.
Turning over one of the tables, righting it back on the floor, he picked up one of the stray chairs and sat down.
Jaeger looked at Morias tentatively “Umm, Lieutenant. May I ask why we’re here in the first place?”
“Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you, Ensign.” replied Morias in his usual calm tone.
Sceptical, she pulled up a chair and sat opposite.
“Alright,” started Morias as he was telling the story “now you’ve heard all the battle reports and whatnot about this place right?”
He noticed the nod from Jaeger and continued.
“Well, it’s all bullshit.”
Jaeger tilted her head, furrowing her brow as she took this new information in. “Why do you say that?”
Morias leaned back on the chair. “It all started some three months after we got here…”
“Come on, Rod! You could never pull a flat spin, nailing those two Jemmies with precision aim.”
“Hey, I’m standing by what the kill-count was. A kill is a kill, Mike.”
“It was pure dumb luck that’s what it was!” said another.
The three flight officers of Tango Squadron were crowded around a small table, several shot-glasses between them and an air of tequila around them. There was little patronage in the mess hall at this time of night, save for the few that needed some peace and quiet. Well, relative peace and quiet.
“Call it what you will. I got them regardless.”
“You’re just damn lucky that we had you covered, Rod.”
Elise ‘Hot Rod’ Rodriguez brushed a strand of hair away from her face before gulping down another shot of tequila. It amazed her peers at just how well she could drink her opponents under the table.
“Wish I could say the same for Roberts.” Rod replied.
The whole table went silent.
“She really knew how to set them up and take them down, without even a flinch.” said Mike ‘Pipeman’ Edders, Tango Three.
“Yeah,” started Petty Officer Mason Grey. She bore the uniform of a flight deck technician. “Roberts could max everything out in the fighters system and still keep her under control. It was really bizarre sometimes…”
Rod raised her shot-glass “Then here’s to our bizarre wingman, Lieutenant Linda ‘Chaplain’ Roberts, Tango Nine. May she still kick ass in the afterlife, Amen.”
The other two raised their glasses as well, clinking them together.
“Amen to that.” agreed Pipeman and Grey.
Rod looked around the place and frowned. It annoyed her slightly that she brought the fun night of celebration to a jarring halt. She turned back to the others.
“Come on guys, enough with the long faces. Roberts would want us to have some fun, not just sit around moping. Let’s rouse up some fun!” Rod scanned the room. There wasn’t much except for the bartender, and a lone marine in the corner, reading over a padd.
Grey followed Rod’s gaze over to the marine and turned back. “Hey, he’s kinda cute.”
“Pffft.” replied Rod, blowing air out of the side of her mouth. “He’s not my type. Look at him. He’s reading some boring old report. He’s no fun.”
“Bet you another round of tequila if you make him dance with you. For at least half an hour.” said Grey, grinning ear to ear.
Slamming the shot glass on the table, Rod grinned back. “You’re on!”
She stood up and approached the marine. Rod could never turn down a bet, any bet for that matter. Because she always knew she could win at it, no matter the stakes.
“Hey handsome, is this seat taken?” Rod asked the marine, who had his head buried in the report.
“No, you may take it.” He said without looking up. He scratched his chin as he continued reading.
Rod didn’t take this as a failure and pressed on. Taking the chair, she sat down across from him.
“Hiya.” she said. It seemed rather too chipper as a result of the alcohol.
“Hello.” the marine replied, still reading.
Rod gave up on him trying to make the first move, so she introduced herself.
“Flight Officer Elise Rodriguez. Tango Five of Tango Squadron. Most of my friends call me by my callsign ‘Hot Rod’ or just Rod. What’s your name?”
This time he turned and looked to her. His eyes were the first thing Rod noticed. They held a certain friendliness to them, but she could have sworn there was something cold and dark about them a fraction of a second earlier. She counted it down to her imagination.
“Morias Aratos. Decryption Specialist to the 13th Strike Company.”
Rod had now gotten a good look at him, and discovered that he was a bajoran. Sifting through her memory, she knew something about them. Was it something about the way the name was said? It was a little hazy.
“Nice to meet you then, Mr Morias.”
Morias raised an eyebrow, stifling a laugh.
Rod looked around, looking over to Pipeman and Grey, shrugging before turning back to Morias. “Uhh… was it something I said?”
Switching the padd off, Morias set it on the table. “You could say that. In the three months I’ve been here, you’re the first person to say my name right the first time.”
Rod smiled at this. She was going to win this bet as usual. “Really? That’s interesting. You should tell me more about yourself. Oh wait, this is my favourite song, wanna dance?” Before even giving Morias a chance to reply she had pulled him into the open floor.
“You’re a great dancer. An absolute natural.” said Rod, despite the fact that wasn’t moving an inch where he stood. “Come on, relax a little.”
Morias sighed and took her hands, slow dancing. “Fine, is this better?”
“Yep, this is great. Do you think you can keep this up for the next half an hour?”
Morias looked at her. “Why’s that?”
Rod bit her lip for a second. She couldn’t really tell him that this all was about a bet or she might lose it. She had to make up something to keep him interested.
“Well, I’m pretty much the party girl when we’re down here, so I need to know if you can keep up with me. Of course, if you can’t then I understand completely. I mean, what’s a young woman like me supposed to do, all alone on this godforsaken planet, waiting for the shit to hit the fan so I can fly off and save your asses again. And patrolling for that matter… Do you know how many times we’ve circled this area since we got here? 80 times already, and for what? There’s nothing out there-”
“What will it take to shut you up?” Morias asked, still dancing.
“Well, everyone’s tried everything from knocking me out to sleeping with me but I- Hey!”
Morias was pulling her arm, dragging her out of the mess hall. Pipeman and Grey burst out laughing.
Outside, Rod wrested Morias’s grip from her arm. “What the hell are you doing?”
Morias turned to her. “Well, you suggested knocking you out or sleeping with you, and I don’t like the notion of knocking you out.”
Rod furrowed her brow until the rest of her brain caught on. “Whoa, whoa now hold on a sec, mister. I never really meant that. It was… well, my friend made a bet to see if I could make you dance for half an hour…” She trailed off as she noticed Morias’ lips curling up into a smile.
“You bastard. You knew!” She punched him in the arm.
“Actually it was a fairly good assumption. Plus you weren’t making a real secret of it in there.”
“You… you…” Rod said as she approached Morias closer. He thought she was going to hit him again.
Instead she kissed him.
After a minute they broke the kiss. Morias was the first to speak.
“What was that for?”
Rod grinned slyly. “What will it take to shut you up, Mr Morias?” she said as she pulled him in the direction of the officer’s quarters.
Upon Shadow’s Light
Their relationship blossomed as the months went on. They tried to be as discrete as possible, but word got around quick, especially in this little outpost. Sneaking off on duty would warrant attention of a senior officer, but there hadn’t been any local enemy activity since they arrived. Schaeffer allowed for some leniency in these troubled times.
“So what are you thinking about now, Aratos?” asked Rod as she leaned against him on one of the lookout towers where they chose to watch the sunrise.
“Just how wonderful it is being here with you, Elise.” Morias replied.
She never liked being called by her first name. Rod wasn’t sure, but she just didn’t like it for some reason. But over the while since she got to know Morias a little better, she just let it go. Also she had the distinct impression that he was trying to annoy her with it, so she didn’t let it show.
The two just sat there for a moment longer, before a voice from below called up.
“Hey kid!” shouted the hoarse, stony voice of Salden, the company’s brick wall of a mascot.
Morias gave an empathic smile to Rod before standing up to look down at the Brikar.
“Yeah, Sarge. What’s up?”
“We’ve found us a live one. About 20 clicks north of here. Scouts missed it a while back but its there alright.”
Morias raised an eyebrow before moving over to the ladder. “What’d they find?”
Salden waited until Morias was on the ground before he continued. He knew this would excite the boy, so a fall wouldn’t fare so well for the mission.
“Subspace communications array. Armed to the teeth with Jem`Hadar.”
Morias frowned slightly. “So what do you need me for?”
“You,” replied Salden “are going to break us into it.”
In the command room, Schaeffer’s officers and squad leaders stood around as the Colonel laid out the plans of the next mission.
“The facility is airtight. From recon reports, all entrances are guarded continuously, so we won’t be trying the front door. However, there’s a service duct some 20 metres away into the bush. It’s also guarded, but there’s only ever two guards posted there at a time. O`Nyce’s team can dispose of them while the kid gets us access. From then on it’s all light silenced weapons only, so no heavy weapons.” He stopped to glance at Salden. Even with his hands and feet bound with containment bindings, the Brikar would still be considered a ‘heavy weapon’ of sorts.
“Once we’re past the security net, we’ll need to sever their connection with their command base and take control of it. If we can’t control it then our primary orders are to destroy it. Secondly, determine whether they’ve been listening in on us once we take control. I expect that they won’t want to be taken prisoner either and will fight on like usual. Any questions?”
There was silence for a few seconds before Morias spoke.
“What about here?”
Schaeffer understood the reasoning to the question so didn’t press on the obvious answer too much.
“Maytag’s platoon will be maintaining a watch over Vega Outpost until we return. Armoured will stay here as well as the pilots assigned to us. Don’t worry kid, all our bases are covered. ”
Morias’s expression became relaxed. “Understood, sir.”
Schaeffer nodded. “Alright boys and girls, better get kitted up. We’re going for a nice 20 click walk in one hour. Dismissed.”
The Jem`Hadar soldier looked across to the trees and fired at the shadows. His partner joined him in the fray as they lay waste to a humanoid shadow and its surroundings. Seconds later, two tracer bullets found their target as they buried themselves into the soldiers’ foreheads. They were dead before they even hit the ground.
O`Nyce came out of the bushes a scant few metres from the undergrowth, punching Salden in the arm.
“Geezus, Salden. This is a stealth mission for crying out loud.”
Salden looked down at the branch he stepped on that caused the Jem`Hadar to move their attention over to his position. He then turned to O`Nyce and shrugged, though it was barely noticeable as a movement at all. “We needed to divert their attention somehow. You were taking too long.” Salden picked a charred piece of material off his shoulder that was once his uniform jacket.
O`Nyce just shook his head and tapped his micro-comm. “One, this is Three. Area secured.”
“Copy that, Three. We’ll be there in 5. One out.” came Schaeffer’s voice over the comm.
A few minutes later Schaeffer and the rest of them arrived at the service duct. O`Nyce had already sent the rest of his snipers to find suitable positions, while Salden’s squad maintained a proximity alert around the duct.
“Keep your scopes silent until I give the word.” said Schaeffer as he headed over to the duct access hatch. “Alright kid, work your magic.”
“Yes sir.” said Morias as he knelt down over the access panel, studying the layout carefully. It was cardassian in design, much like all the other outposts here. But this didn’t have any military configuration to it. It was standard civilian hardware. He didn’t think much more of it as he hacked the protocols, opening the electronic lock without activating the alarms.
Making their way down the long, low-lit tunnel, the marines kept their guard up as they made it past the outer wall undetected. Schaeffer stopped to peer through a grating where there was a small amount of activity present outside.
“Hmm…” he said, keeping his voice low “a tank hangar…” Schaeffer thought for a second before shrugging it off. “Lets keep moving.”
Several bolted doors and a decrypt sequence later they arrived in an unoccupied storage room. Quick tricorder scans found several patrols outside making their rounds. Even a group as big as this, wouldn’t be able to maintain a stealthy approach with this many eyes watching.
“Alright, Tarsen, you lead your squad over to the south. Try not to be seen and take out as many tower guards as quietly as possible. Dane, take your bunch to the tank hangar we passed earlier. We may need to secure us a ride if the shit hits the fan. The rest are with me to the command post.”
With their orders, each squad departed the room with careful stealthiness. Schaeffer’s squad silently moved down the corridor, weapons ready. Morias was in the middle. He felt slightly annoyed at how everyone was being overprotective of him as if he couldn’t handle any given situation. However given the fact that he had an important task to do and for the mission to be successful, his survival was critical.
It was still annoying though.
Schaeffer held his hand up for everyone to stop. He heard footsteps ahead and used a hand signal for everyone to take cover. He watched as the patrol crossed the junction and continued on with their business as usual. He waited for a thirty more seconds before signalling everyone to move.
“Wait a sec.” said Jaeger in disbelief. “Are you telling me that as a third year cadet, you, were helping hardened marine veterans to infiltrate a base full of Jem`Hadar soldiers?”
Morias glanced up at her. “Yes.”
She rolled her eyes, stifling a laugh. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. It… it just sounds so ridiculous.”
“All the events that happened are in the mission logs. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t deemed completely classified.”
Jaeger just shook her head, still not completely convinced. “Come on…”
The seriousness in Morias’s expression increased a notch. “I can stop now if you want.”
Jaeger bit her lip, sensing she hit a nerve. She relented to humour him. “No, go on, El-Tee.”
Morias thought for a moment then stood up. “Follow me.” He turned and headed out back into the compound grounds. Jaeger sighed before heading up after him.
“We were so sure that everything would be alright. The plan executed right on schedule.” continued on Morias as he made his way to an open area.
Jaeger just nodded. “So then what happened?”
He stopped walking. So abruptly that Jaeger nearly bumped into him.
“We were wrong.” he said solemnly.
“Is everyone alright?” barked Schaeffer as the smoke faded away. He could just make out the silhouettes of his squad members. The majority replied in affirmation. There were a few groans of pain, but at least they were still alive.
Fire fights, especially in such closed areas were always deadly.
“All present and accounted for, sir.” said Tambra, Schaeffer’s second. “Luis’s leg is a mess. Doc’s setting it now, but I don’t think he’ll be going any further.”
Schaeffer nodded and looked around as the haze lifted. Wall to wall display consoles filled his vision, showing everything from closed circuit camera feed all around the base to message intercepts the computer was decrypting.
“Kid, I need an update.”
Morias was seated at an access console fervently racing his hands across the panel. “Security grid on this level is in my control…That’s about it so far, sir. There’s so many security levels here its damn overkill. It’ll take a while to get through all of them.”
The Colonel nodded. Time was a definite factor here and he didn’t have patience for these kinds of things. He had to give the boy credit though. If Morias hadn’t enabled the inner doors and shut them immediately, they’d most likely be dead.
Schaeffer sat down, taking the moment of rest as a good sign of things to come. Glancing to the closed doors, he could hear the enemy outside pounding on the solid Kelindide constructed barrier that protected them.
“Yes! I’m in.” exclaimed the hunched over Morias a short while later. Schaeffer walked over to see what the kid was on about.
“What’ve you got for me, kid?”
“Schematics of the base, and I now have a full sensor readout of where all the hostiles are. I’ve managed to lock most of the guards out in this building, isolating an escape path. Still can’t get to the Intelligence reports yet.”
A static crackle came from Schaeffer’s micro-comm. “Colonel, this is Tarsen.”
“Report Tarsen.” answered Schaeffer.
“Sir, all primary outer towers have been secured.”
“Excellent. Don’t move until I give the order to close the gap.”
“Sir, we also noticed several groups of soldiers heading inwards. Just giving you a heads up should they be at your welcome mat.”
“Copy that. Stay put for now. Schaeffer out.”
“So what now, Colonel?” asked Tambra as she approached.
“Now,” Schaeffer said as he checked the power reading on his pistol “we finish what we started.”
It didn’t take long to set up a small blockade from where they were positioned. The locked up Jem`Hadar didn’t cause too much trouble. For the most part they were greatly ignored, despite their efforts to escape their confines.
Tambra tapped her micro-comm. “Hey kid, see anything yet?”
“No luck.” replied Morias from inside. He was monitoring the surveillance systems. ”They’ve figured out what I’ve been doing and have been disabling the cameras. But given which ones have been disabled, I’m willing to bet that they’re no more than 50 metres from your position.”
And then the fighting started.
Bright blue bolts of energy spat out towards the marines’ newly constructed barricade. Forced to return fire, they reciprocated with a dazzling lightshow of phaser fire on the charging Jem`Hadar. The leading ones fell first, becoming the meat shields for their brothers advancing from behind to find cover closer to the insurgent force of Starfleet Marines.
No one had any idea how long the battle really took. Some say just scant minutes of a suicidal skirmish. Others recall running out of power cells with each passing wave. No one knows for sure, but the price was a bloody one.
As the last Jem`Hadar soldier fell, the atmosphere grew silent as the marines ceased firing. Surveillance footage confirmed that there were no more left in the vicinity, and the mass of bodies were all that remained. They had walked right into the trap they set. Tambra held the barricade long enough for Tarsen’s mid-range snipers to set up on the opposing side of the compound. The Dominion soldiers, caught in the crossfire fought on until the very last.
Schaeffer lit a post-battle cigarette. He puffed a smoke ring in the air before turning to Morias.
“The subspace array operative, kid?”
Morias nodded. “Aye sir. Planetary bandwidth access though.”
“Good enough. Make a call to Vega Outpost. Tell them we’ve taken the Listening post.”
Morias ran his hands over the console. He paused a second, furrowing his brow.
“Sir, I’m not getting a response.”
Schaeffer raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, sir. I’ve tried again and still no response.”
“There must be something you haven’t trie-” Schaeffer was interrupted by a crackling audio feed from one of the decrypt consoles.
“I…epea…Vega…ost under a…k by Dom…. on. Send hel…Repeat, this…….”
“Fuck.” shouted Schaeffer, turning to kick the wall. “They must have headed over there while we were on our way here. This was all a decoy. Morias, get on the horn and regroup th-”
The kid was gone.
Tarsen walked in, glancing back behind him. “I wonder what his hurry was…”
“Who?” Schaeffer barked.
“The kid. He ran out of here pretty quickly.”
All of a sudden there was a high pitched whine from outside. Speeding off insanely out of the tank hangar and out the vehicle gate was a four wheeled buggy.
“What the hell? Where’s he think he’s going?” said Tarsen as he looked out the window.
“Goddamn kid.” Schaeffer said as he stormed out of the building. “He’s off to save his fucking girlfriend…”
Fools Rush In.
He didn’t even glance in the mirror as he ran over the patrol outside Vega’s perimeter. All his attention was focused on Elise.
If they harmed her in any way then so help the Prophets he would make them pay. No matter who or how many he had to kill to do so, he would find a way.
His focus returned back to the road and he slammed the brakes hard. When he finally stopped, barely a foot away from the front bumper was Salden. Standing next to him was the Colonel.
“Y’know, I’m surprised that you actually did stop, Kid. Then again, you wouldn’t have gotten very far if you hit Salden here.” said Schaeffer in a matter-of-factly tone. Salden just grunted.
“Stand aside, Colonel. You too, Salden.” said Morias in a calm, quiet voice.
“Sorry Morias, can’t do that. Step out of the vehicle now.”
“No.” Morias said in open defiance.
Schaeffer sighed. “Then you leave me no choice.” He reached for his sidearm.
Reacting to the new situation, Morias quickly reached over to his weapon.
The last thing Morias saw was a greyish blur as O`Nyce’s rifle stock knocked him out cold.
“…snipers in position, Colonel.”
“Good. Keep me appraised, Tambra.”
Morias blinked his eyes open as he listened to the brief conversation. His head was still throbbing, but the broken feeling had dissipated.
“Colonel, he’s awake.” said Steiner. He was currently Schaeffer’s Chief Medic since the former lost her life in the previous mission. The sadness still held with Schaeffer.
Morias sat up slowly, holding his hand to his head as he waited for the feeling of vertigo to pass. Schaeffer approached him.
“How’s the head, kid?”
“Little rattled, but I’ll live, sir.” replied Morias, his tone a little weaker than usual. “How did you get to my position so fast, sir?”
Schaeffer smirked. “This is the 24th century. The transporters at the listening post were online.”
Morias nodded. “I see…”
“We’ll need every able bodied soldier if we want to regain control of this outpost.” Schaeffer turned to retrieve a recon report. “Now,-” He looked around, but there was no sign of Morias.
“Damn, he’s quick…”
The art of true stealth movement was known only to a select few who could master it to the point of not being there at all. Morias knew how to do that back on Bajor when fighting against the Cardassians. Here however, it was slightly different.
The natural landscape provided a tree canopy so dense, one could be strolling out in the open and still maintain the perfect cover.
He’d left the safety of the rest of the company to brave the Dominion force on his own. Call it insane or call it stupid, hell, call it insanely stupid. Love makes people do insanely stupid things.
Morias finally reached the tree line, he watched in silence at the guard patrol. Waiting for the right time, he quickly made his way to the closest wall as soundlessly as possible. Keeping out of the Jem`Hadar’s field of view, he crept on to the shoreline. There, some of the barricade wall had fallen away and would be perfect for someone to try and infiltrate the outpost in this manner.
The Marines thought this too. That is why they covered the entire area with mines.
Now Morias knew where each mine was. Problem was, was that he was the one that recommended the dispersal pattern to plug every hole imaginable so that no one would enter unscathed.
Stopping short of the minefield, he ran though the many ways that he could try and get around it. Most of them eventuated to a messy end. He had no choice. He had to get in.
Stepping a few metres back, he took a deep breath, readying himself for what may come. He narrowed his eyes, focusing on why he was doing this.
And then he threw a rock into the minefield before ducking for cover.
Ordinarily a rock thrown at random into a hidden minefield has a one in ten chance of coming into contact with a mine where it lands. Unless you knew the location of each and every one of them. Certain areas of the minefield were, as he suspected, prone to a cascade effect if one certain mine happened to detonate. Morias didn’t think much of it at the time of deployment. He didn’t need to. Why would Jem`Hadar soldiers be throwing stones at the ground for?
The desired effect occurred and several guards came rushing out to investigate. The unfortunate first ones on the scene ventured a little too far, resulting in an artistic fountain display. For Morias, the distraction was more than enough to sneak by amid the confusion.
He’d reached the main compound, hiding behind a large stack of crates when he heard a commotion from the centre. Risking being spotted, he peered out ever so slightly from behind.
“Intruder! I know you are somewhere inside this outpost already.” It was the Vorta in command.
”You have killed some of my finest warriors with your little diversion. For that I should have you killed. However, in light of recent hostilities between the Federation and the Dominion, I will let you give yourself up freely.”
There was a moment of silence. Morias knew that Vorta had their way with words, but the speech didn’t sound like anything overly convincing. He noticed the Vorta glancing around.
“Alright, bring the prisoners out.” ordered the Vorta.
His Jem`Hadar lackeys brought out several marines and other personnel. Seconds later Morias’s heart went cold as he saw the last one at the end of the line.
It was Elise.
“It seems you need some motivation. You,” the Vorta pointed at one of the Jem`Hadar. “If they don’t answer within five seconds, shoot…” the Vorta looked over the line as if selecting a lobster out of a fish tank. “…him.” He pointed at one of the civilian technicians.
Morias pressed his back into the crate. His duty was to serve the Federation. To protect the people that could not protect themselves. But to give away his position now would surely get him and the prisoners killed.
A single energy burst was fired, followed by the man’s crumpling body to the ground.
“May the Prophet’s guide you.” Morias whispered, closing his eyes momentarily.
The Vorta looked around, his expression becoming more and more grim. “Interesting… It seems that this person does not care for your lives. How unfortunate…” He pointed his finger out in a careless and somewhat random manner. “That one. Bring her here so that they can see just whose life is in the balance.”
Morias feared to look. He didn’t want what he knew what was going to happen. Turning, he peered out from behind his cover. There, kneeling in the centre of the compound, a weapon pointed to her back, was Elise.
“It does not have to end this way. You can still save her life. One… Two… Three…Four…Fi-”
“Wait.” Morias said as he stepped out from behind the crate. Seconds later several Jem`Hadar converged on his position, grabbing hold of his arms.
“Ahh, ” said the Vorta as a devilish smile appeared on his face. “The noble soldier saves the girl in the nick of time.”
“Stranger things have happened.” replied Morias.
The Vorta raised an eyebrow. The response from this marine was… unexpected. He approached Morias, stopping several strides away. “So, why her and not the other that I had killed?”
Morias said nothing.
“Oh I see.” He turned, moving to stand near Elise. “Does she, mean something special to you?”
Again, no reply from Morias.
“Hmm… interesting.” said the Vorta. “She means everything to you, doesn’t she? You would risk the lives of everyone here, even your own, for her.”
“Yes…” came a heartfelt response from Morias.
“As would my soldiers for me and I for the Founders. You are very honourable, for that I will let you live.” The Vorta turned to gaze at Morias. “Kill her in his place.”
“NOOOOOOOO!!” Morias struggled, but the Jem`Hadar held their grip. He saw her love mouth three words before closing her eyes.
I love you.
He couldn’t help but watch as her lifeless body fell to the ground, smoke rising from the impact.
“Nooo…” he said, holding back the tears, the anger, and the beast within. Control was needed in this situation and he knew that.
“As the Humans say ’An eye for an eye.’ I love these human colloquialisms.” said the Vorta.
“I am…” started Morias.
“Yes? You are sorry?” inquired the Vorta.
“…going to kill you.” Morias finished, pulling out his hidden boot knife and stabbing the Jem`Hadar to his left in the throat. In one smooth motion he used the victim’s weapon on the other to his right, searing a hole straight through the torso.
High above the tree line, several watched through high powered scopes.
“O`Nyce to One.”
“Go ahead, O`Nyce.”
“Boy’s gone psycho, Colonel. Better get this done before everyone dies.”
“You have a go.”
“Alright boys and girls, pick `em and pot `em.” said O`Nyce, lining up a shot.
Tracer bullets flared to existence, taking out the tower guards in quick succession. A few inside realised what was happening and hit the ground. Morias didn’t notice and frankly didn’t care. The pent up anger stemming all the way from Gallitep surfaced explosively. The beast was in command of his body now. The Beast of Vengeance. The knife, hand-crafted by his father all those years ago, stood well against the test of time as he eviscerated all in his path. Whether friend or foe it did not matter. The beast wanted revenge and it sought it, hunted it, lived and breathed it.
It picked up the scent, and Morias ran after the fleeing Vorta. Like the hunter seeking its prey, he ignored all else. The fear reeked off the Vorta’s trail as Morias leaped to pin him to the ground.
“I am…going to kill you…”
“So do it already. It is of no consequence, for I will be cloned again.” replied the Vorta.
“You will not be afforded the luxury of a quick death.” said Morias
“What do you…” the Vorta felt the edge of the blade near his throat and gulped “…think you will accomplish by killing me? Certainly your superiors would like me alive, wouldn’t they?”
Morias considered this for a moment.
“No.” Morias said, leaning closer, pressing the blade into the Vorta’s skin.
“Back off, Kid. We’ll need him alive.”
“No. You don’t underst-”
“No, Mr Morias, YOU don’t seem to understand the importance of the situation. He will provide the Intel we require to clean up whatever damn hidden bases they have around here. Killing him will solve nothing!”
“It will ease the pain… Colonel…” Morias said, pressing the blade down more, drawing blood.
“Morias, stop this instant. That’s an order.”
“Not in this lifetime… ” Morias brought the knife up to plunge into the Vorta’s chest.
“Then you leave me no choice.”
“And then he stunned me.”
Jaeger was silent for the most part when Morias was telling the rest of his story. A tear rolled down her left cheek. Sad endings tended to bring that up for her.
“So…” Jaeger managed to bring out through the sadness. “…this is why you’re here, in this place.”
Morias was silent for a long moment before he opened his bag to reveal a canister. Cleary visible inside was a single red rose.
“She really did mean a lot to you, didn’t she?”
Morias still said nothing as he took the rose out and placed it on the ground.
The mood was a solemn one. A moment later Morias turned to Jaeger and smiled slightly.
“Come on, let’s get back to Valhalla. Your brother’s probably wondering where you’ve gone.”
Jaeger nodded, fighting off the sniffles. “Yes… yes, you’re absolutely right, Lieutenant.”
They both headed back to the shuttle, returning home.