New Beginning. (Part 8)

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2 years ago

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 linked below:

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==USS August, School==

Since he'd started in this school the world of Ahrund had grown exponentially. At least that was how it seemed to Ahrund. He knew that it could not be true because the ship was the same size now as it was when Ahrund had come here. He was sure because he had asked the computer to make sure of it.

He had figured out that all those shiny little screens for in your hands were the same, and it was the shiny squares on it that made it do things. Then he figured out what square did what and began to understand more and more about the PADD and the computer system of the ship which all PADD's were connected to.

When he was sure he was unobserved Ahrund activated his PADD and started random searches in the library scanning for little squiggly things that made up what Daddy calls Wuurdzz wich he knew the meaning of. He noticed some after a few seconds and selected one he had found frustrating before. If he wanted to open most of the links he got with that wuurdzz in it the computer asked something very difficult sounding and wouldn't go on unless Ahrund said what computer called "Bashhwuurd"

He considered the similarity between the computer's Bashhwuurd and Daddy's Wuurdzz and realized the first could be the last with something added in front of it. This realization lead to an assumption which he then tested and and analyzed the results of using the ever developing skills in using the PADD. The process had culminated in Ahrund being able to, in essence, read the computer's output.

Ahrund had slowly moved farther and farther back in the group of children sitting on the floor listening to the teacher talk. What the teacher was saying was boring to Ahrund. When the lesson had started the topic, "Technology and it's differences and similarities in development across the galaxy" was very interesting and Ahrund wanted to know everything about it.

As he now always did when he knew the topic of the lessen he had linked his PADD to the ship's library computer and had it copy all the information on the subject from all the libraries it could connect to and route it to his PADD. He'd then read through all of it as fast as he could and before long he noticed the teacher's story was no longer containing anything he hadn't already read about.

Appearantly the teacher didn't like it when Ahrund did that. They had told Daddy he did it and had a loud mouth fight about it which Daddy had called a Dishcushjun when Ahrund asked if Daddy had won the fight. Daddy had obviously won because the teacher didn't say anything about it after that. And his Daddy was getting smarter as well. Daddy now understood almost all things Ahrund said in one or two tries. Only a short while ago Daddy couldn't even understand a simple 'Ahrund pooped. Wipe my butt Daddy!’ Now Daddy even understood "Ahrund like first lady meet. Daddy make friends to lady!" because Daddy and First lady meet go make fun when Ahrund was sleeping and when Ahrund woke up, nice lady was there already and make eatingstuffies for Ahrund. Good for Daddy! It make Daddy smile again. Daddy more fun when Daddy smile.

Near the end of the day shift the console on the bridge's security console beeped for attention. The screen filled with a message received from the computer's intrusion prevention and detection algorithms. Files and information deemed classified in the ship's computer library were being opened and closed without the proper authentications without the computer being able to prevent the access to the classified and therefore protected files and information or identify what or who is opening them. The computer had not flagged it as a threat as yet though, as the files were only being opened. Nothing was changed nor was the content being reproduced somewhere else. They were just being opened somewhere and then closed again.

The warning would be noticed soon enough by someone.

==USS August, near Shuttlebay==

Josh was Walking down the corridor on his way to the shuttlebay when he ran into Senna. He felt a bit awkward to say the least, as she is pretty. "Hi Senna." Josh said, "How are things?"

Senna looked up from her datapad, coming out of her thoughts. "Oh, Hello Dr. Josh. Things are well. I've been able to sleep well without the help of modern medicine, if that is any indication," cheerfully replied Senna.

Josh stopped at the shuttlebay hatch. "I've been meaning to ask you this for a while," he said, "Would you mind if we went out sometime?" It came out strangely, but smoothly & calmly.

Senna didn't need her betazoid senses to see Josh's awkward yet on the level question. She knew that he was hoping for an answer, but Senna didn't know how to answer. Her thoughts immediately went to Chokichi. Was it too soon? She felt a tinge of guilt, but knew that he would want her to move on... as she would want the same if the reverse had happened. "I haven't been to the Traveler's Mark yet. I hear they have quite a menu. Perhaps, dinner upon our return from the mission?" answered Senna.

"I was more or less thinking of a Holodeck outing." Josh said, "Say, dinner at the Bell Museum in Baddeck?" It kinda sounded awkward, but it came out naturally. Senna had no idea what the Bell Museum in Baddeck was like, but it perked her curiosity. "Sure," she answered as another image entered her mind. She felt the projection, which Senna found odd as the person whose thoughts and feelings she felt, was not even in the shuttle bay. He was likely at his duty station deep within the ship.

Londance was sitting on a barrel across the bay, sitting and listening to the conversation. A slight smile splayed across his lips. His lilting voice drifted across the bay, "Alright, love birds. We have a mission to accomplish. How about we save the date making for afterwards?"

Josh turned around, hearing Londance's voice. "Your here early," he said, "aren't ya?"

Londance nodded, "I am, indeed. I left the bridge early to get a few necessary items and install them into the shuttles sensor array."

Josh walked over to Londance, smiling. "Where is everybody anyways?"

Londance looked around the room, "I'm not quite sure, really. We take off relatively soon, though. I'm guessing they will show up, within the next few minutes."

Alyssa walked into the shuttlebay, barely managing to hide her excitement at the prospect of going down to the surface of Iconia she walked towards Londance and Josh at a high pace.

"You have everything packed Sir?" Alyssa directed her question towards Josh, her cool soprano masking her surprise at his presence."

I wasnt informed you were coming along? I assumed I was in command of this away team?"

"You still are," Josh said, "I'm here if anyone gets hurt down there." He looked at Alyssa. "You look like you're about to burst with glee." Josh said.

Senna took the pilot's seat and began her pre-flight checks. She double checked the shuttle's shields and defensive systems, wanting to be prepared for anything hostile. Alyssa decided not to reply to Josh's comment, for she knew he was right. She straightened herself and stepped into the runabout, heading directly for the cockpit.

"Everything checking out on your pre-flight routines Lieutenant?" Alyssa Inquired as she approached senna.

Senna gave the Commander a nod. "Yes, ma'am. Everything is lit green and ready to go as soon as we're given clearance to depart from the bridge," acknowledged Senna.

Alyssa nodded with satisfaction. "very well, I'll be in the back making sure all of our equipment is stowed away properly," Alyssa said as she returned to the aft section of the craft.

Warrant Officer Ovik eventually walked in, carrying a hefty case and wearing a belt with several pouches and slots. He was equipped for scanning and recon, even if that might not be his primary duty. He was fluent in Vulcan and Romulan, which would definitely help.

Ovik approached Stark to start, saluting after he set his case down. "Officer Ovik reporting, Commander. I am glad to be assigned here."

"I'm sure you are. This is the most exciting away mission I have ever been on myself! Iconia, imagine that!" Alyssa replied, her soprano voice brimming with anticipation. "You will be assisting me with gathering scientific data I take it?"

Ovik nodded calmly. "I will, ma'am. I am trained in the sciences, but also a form of Vulcan martial arts called Suss Mahn." He nodded to the marine that had arrived and looked over when he spoke. "Just in case...""Yes... I dont know why the captain insisted on taking a sizable security detachment along. I highly doubt we'll run into anything hostile on Iconia...." Alyssa Shrugged.

"But it cant hurt to be on the safe side I suppose.""Carry on Warrant Officer!" she told him as she turned around to secure a case with equipment. Ovik gave a quick salute and then approached Londance. "Lieutenant, sir, I am at your service."

Londance nodded at Ovik, "It is greatly appreciated, I thank you."

"Well," Josh said, "I'm going to grab a good seat before they all get taken." He looked over at Ovik. "Sorry about not checking in with you when I boarded." Josh said, "We never officially met."

Ovik nodded to the doctor after checking in with the head diplomat. It was good they were both fluent in Romulan - that would help. "Ah, Captain, sir. A pleasure. Captain Greener informed me of your quick check-in so it was of no concern. No better time to meet than an exploration trip like this, eh?"

"No better way." Josh replied.

The last one to enter the shuttle was Zoteke. He was clad in his standard marine combat armor, carried an unfamiliar but undeniably large gun and a band of granades slung across his shoulder. His expression was... expressionless. On his hip a tricorder lit up as it ran through the scripts Zoteke had programmed in it. "Sorry to be late. When i got the order i was inappropriately dressed. I wanted to dress right." Zoteke nodded and explained. "So... where do i sit? In the back?" he added.

Londance looked over to Zoteke, "Wherever you feel most comfortable."

Josh looked up & saw Zoteke sit next to him. He noted his gear & said, "Must've been in Scouts, right?"

Zoteke looked over at Josh and nodded to Josh's gear. "So have you? I've been in almost every section of the core sir... Starting at bootcamp!" he replied.

"Scout Motto," Josh said, "BE prepared."

"Hoo-Rah!" Zoteke returned.

=== August Runabout ===

Receiving the clearance to launch from Ian, Senna slightly turned her head to check that her passengers were seated before lifting up off the deck. Satisfied, she gently engaged her engines and cruised through the docking bay doors with a small smile forming on her face.

Once out in free space, Senna's fingers played across the controls. She brought the runabout in a gentle but rapid turn, rotating in a complete 180 to orient the shuttle's bottom with Iconia's atmosphere. Though the planet had been ravaged by weapons, the planet still had an atmosphere, which meant heat on planetary entry. Senna engaged the deflectors to compensate.

Ovik looked around the shuttle - he had not done many away missions since he was aboard the August C with Captain Greener, fighting in the Bajor sector. He was excited - as excited as a Vulcan could get. As they took to their landing spot, a few kilometers out from the detected signal traces, Ovik tied his padd into the Runabout's scanners. "Right on target," he half-muttered.

Glancing at the planned landing coordinates, Senna altered her course a bit to approach with more caution. The terrain was desolate and forbidding. "That's our landing site off our starboard..." informed Senna, "... I see a nice clear spot to land, just off to the right of it. Shall I take us in?"

Londance stood up from his seat and walked towards the front where Senna was working the consoles. He looked over where she had spoken of landing. Turning around, his ponytail swished and a jingle sounded from his earpiece. "I'll ask you all to do me a favor, and don't run off anywhere. Let's stay in a group."

"Sir, yes sir!" Zoteke snapped, almost as much a reflex as breathing now he was in full Marine mode. He sensed that, to the other members of the away team, Zoteke was way to much in combat mode. He ignored that though. Off duty he could be anything anybody wanted him to be.... when he was in a cockpit he was a fighter pilot, nothing else.... But with his boots on the ground he had only one purpose and that was to be a warrior. If the Captain had any other purpose for him to be on the ground, Zoteke had missed it.

Lodance looked at everyone in the ship, slightly swaying as they descended further, "Here is how things are going to work; Ovik will be with me, on point - Alyssa, Senna, you two will take left flank, keep watch for any anomalous readings - Josh, Zoteke, you two will take up the rear. Objections?

Zoteke spoke up, apparently missing the question was intended rhetorically, "My guess is my skills will be of little use unless and until, pardon my french, shit hits the fan. As long as you guys get down when we take incoming fire i don’t mind bringing up the rear." Zoteke replied. He gave the gun he held an odd look when he spoke the last words.

Everyone else simply nodded in agreement. Londance cocked his head slightly, before responding, "Let's hope things go smoothly, then. Senna, take us down." Londance ordered. He then proceeded to take his seat, again.

Senna nodded. "Aye, Aye, sir." Senna followed her acknowledgment with action as she brought the shuttle in for a landing. She glanced again at the sensor readings and saw nothing. She also reached out with her thoughts and detected nothing but those within the runabout. Senna saw the exact spot she wished to land on and brought the runabout to a graceful hover while deploying the landing pylons. Once she saw that they were fully engaged, she eased the shuttle down gingerly testing the ground before finally easing off her thrusters.

"Touchdown... welcome to Iconia," remarked Senna as she idled the engines. Londance stood up and addressed the group, "We have our mission, and you have your orders. Keep your phasers in your holsters unless it's absolutely necessary that you need them. Let's move out."

Josh got up from his seat & went to a weapons drawer & grabbed a phaser, then put it on his belt. He then checked his medical kit & his thermos, then slinged them both across his shoulder.

A chirp came to all of their badges and they heard the captain's voice.

=^= "Commander Stark or Lieutenant Nogumo, this is the bridge. What is your status?" =^=

Senna remained quiet to let Alyssa respond to the call, as she was the senior officer and away team leader, as protocol dictated.Alyssa tapped her badge to reply.

=^= "We've just made landfall Sir. We're about to head out now. So far there is nothing anomalous to report." =^=

=^= Very good. We're not picking anything up and there are no detected cloaked vessels up here. Let us know what you find. August out. =^=

Senna looked at the phaser pistol and holster belt being offered by Ovik. She realized she was the only one not armed among the away team. Senna nodded and put the holster belt on. She didn't feel right about it, not used to carrying, let alone using a weapon. However, she knew enough to check to see that the safety was engaged before re-holstering the weapon. She turned around and locked the shuttle controls with the pre-agreed upon encryption ciphers and protocols, before disembarking the runabout. Upon standing on surface outside, she closed her eyes and tried to sense other beings. Nothing. Only those among the away team.

Londance felt a mild pulse of uneasiness, come from behind him. Turning around, he spotted Senna putting on a holster. He walked over, "It's something you will eventually get used to; took me a few years before I felt comfortable holding a phaser, myself. One would think that being a diplomat didn't include blasting people." He placed his hand on the make shift weapon holstered on his pants - a 'sawed off' phaser rifle, of sorts. "Have you ever fired a phaser, before?"

"Only in training... and against holograms..." answered Senna.

"Well," Josh said, "I'd be safe with you around, Lieutenant." He felt every eye fall on him, like he had three heads. Quickly thinking, he said, "Sorry. Only meant that as a compliment." Then he turned to Londance & asked, "How'd ya get that phaser rifle?"

Londance cocked his head, looking at Josh skeptically. It was as though he was contemplating whether or not to answer the question. After a few moments, he breathed in and spoke, "It was a gift, from a previous commander. A prototype, of sorts; a medium range phaser rifle, taken apart and rebuilt. A duel power core - one from a Romulan style disruptor rifle; the other from a Federation style phaser rifle. Interlinked, this weapon has the range of a marines sniper rifle, and the power of a commonly wielded phaser... On overload. It's design has a built in remod; even the borg couldn't adapt to this weapon. The only downfall is that this weapon has only two settings - kill..." Londance looked down for a second, "and kill." His face became expressionless.

Nodding his head, Josh said, "Cool. Kill them, then when your back's against the wall, blow everyone up, including you." He then checked his equipment & said, "Ready when you are."

"Never let your back be against the wall in the first place, Doctor." Londance replied. "But, always go out with a bang." he finished, with merciless eyes.

While he was going over the readouts his tricorder was bringing up to the monicle over his left eye Zoteke listened to the conversation. He'd noticed the gun and smiled at hearing its specs. "Nice gun!" he offered, nodding at the piece of destructive art. "Mine's a lot less beautiful, but I like it none the less. I've tweaked it myself to fire old-school projectiles besides the standard issue phaser bolts. Has a mag of 300 rounds, all dumdums." Zoteke told Londance and Josh, heaving up his own gun.

It consisted of a souped up standard issue phaser rifle with a mechanism for firing and carrying the projectiles it could fire. "I've learned that sometimes energy weapons tend to be ineffective. Chemical rounds usually work in those situations." he added.

Londance's face was stoic, almost Vulcan; his left eyebrow raised as Zoteke spoke, "Bullets. Primitive, to be frank - yet, effective, nonetheless. I can say that I would honestly prefer a blast from my own gun, to a metallic object embedding itself into my flesh..." A distasteful look suddenly spread across Londance's face, as the though of being shot with a bullet crossed through his mind.

Ovik looked down at his scanner as it chirped and swirled. "I believe if we head local northwest, we will find the readings the ship picked up. About 1.6km out, so about 10-15 minutes at a decent pace."

Londance looked over to Ovik, "Take a look at the shuttle scanners, as well as a tricorder. Double check for any signs of life." The Vulcan shook his head. "Nay, I pick up no lifesigns on this scanner either. We're alone as best I can tell."

"Very well." Londance replied. "Senna, are you feeling the pull I mentioned earlier on the bridge?"

Senna closed her eyes and reached out. She pushed aside those minds near her and focused farther out. Then she sensed it. Subtle but strong, but she could not ascertain exactly who or what. Just a feeling of anticipation. Londance's eyebrows furrowed, as his face scrunched slightly, "This is odd, indeed."

His expression shifted back to an emotionless state, "Let us not delay, any longer." With that, he began to walk away from the shuttle craft, in graceful strides. Alyssa Gazed around in wonder. Iconia, she was actually there at last! But they hadn’t come here just to do some sightseeing....She checked her Tricorder once more, looking for any anomalous readings, or any reading at all for that matter. But nothing showed up aside from the readings they picked up earlier and were now heading to. "Anything on your tricorder Lieutenant Nogumo?" She asked without taking her sight off of her own tricorder. "The readings we're headed for should be just past the next hill here…"

Senna looked at her tricorder and saw that her readings were similar. That something was over the next hill. "Yes, ma'am. I'm also picking up subtle readings from that direction as well."

Josh also pulled out his Tricorder, looking at it, then looking out towards where they were heading. "Is there any of those probe launch facilities on the planet?" He asked, "Read the report from the Enterprise-D at length & discussed it with Picard while I was serving on the E."

"We have no way of knowing that Captain. The Enterprise-D was only in orbit briefly, and whilst she only detected the structure they eventually destroyed, it may well be possible that other such structures are still intact and on the planet surface." Alyssa replied as she caught up with Captain Broughm.

"What I can tell you however, is that we must take extreme caution when interfacing with any Iconian technology; things they do not perceive as harmless may very well be deadly to us, as was clearly proven in the Yamato incident. Those probes could have been a defense mechanism, but for all we know they were only intended to gather information."

Ovik piped up. "Sirs, the August has informed us they found traces of the ships and are giving chase. We're on our own to a degree, although the Runabout has warp capabilities."

Londance looked over to the Vulcan, "Let's hope we don't need to use it."

Zoteke's tricorder had completed the first of its cycles, through the scanning modes Zoteke had programmed into it. Over the years he'd been in situations in which certain modes had proven to be useful, or would have been in hindsight. Zoteke had all of them stored, and cycled through them by default. It scanned for disturbances in air currents, indicating intelligent movement, odd combinations of compounds or molecules that normally do not exist in nature and therefore indicated intelligence, in that sort of 'out of the box' detection methods. None of the scans had brought up anything worth mentioning.

Nevertheless he could feel the little hairs on his neck stand up and a tingle went down his spine. He activated and primed his weapon."We're being watched" Zoteke said, "Scans aren't showing anything but my gut says we're being watched" he added, eyeing the surroundings with suspicion. "I advise having either me take point until we're sure there's as nothing as our tricorders say there is. I notice I'm the only one wearing protec.." A tricorder reading stopped him mid-sentence.

"Reading energy spike from the target location!" Zoteke shouted, in vain.

From everywhere around them a light erupted, blinding everyone. The light flashed for only an instant, but as the eyes of the away team members adjusted, and they were once again able to see their surroundings, they saw that they were no longer on the planets surface. No wind, No sound, just the faint hum of some power flow and rows upon rows of machinery and consoles.

"Ooohkay... this is unusual..." Zoteke said, scanning around for threats, adding "I heard what you said about being careful interacting with their technology, but what do we do now their tech interacted with us?"

Ovik took out his tricorder, although his own balance was off a bit by the odd area. "I detect... nothing. Not even ourselves."

Josh flipped his tricorder closed. "Same here Ovik." he said, "Big ole goose egg. Could be that the tricorders went outta whack."

Senna allowed her betazoid senses to go outward, but what she got back made her shiver slightly with unease.

Josh notice Senna shutter a bit. He knew what that meant & it wasn't good. He then went for his thermos & opened it up. A strange smell came from it. "Your joking me." Josh said aloud. His entire thermos of coffee went sour. "I made this just before I left for the shuttlebay." he said.

They looked at each other, not quite sure what to do next...

Josh looked around the room, wondering where they were. Then, his focus shifted to the well being of the away team. "How's everybody doing?" Josh asked. He felt fine himself, even though they were transported to a strange room. He once again tried to operate his tricorder, but nothing happened. Just to be sure, he checked his medical kit. All of the devices failed to work properly. "Damn it!" Josh said, "My kit's useless." He turned to Zoteke. "Check your comm badge. I have a feeling we don't have communications."

Josh saw the Marine lieutenant become very tense. It was a sign that he wasn't comfy in tight spaces. Tapping his communicator for show more than really trying it, knowing it wouldn't work, Zoteke let out his breath through his teeth. "No communications, nothing on tricorders." Zoteke aimed his rifle to an empty spot on the floor, away from the away team and pressed the fire stud. Nothing. "And no working weapons."

Then he flicked a switch on the weaon's side and pulled the mechanical trigger that appeared.


Zotteke grinned. "Except for the oldschool gun that is" Zoteke said.

Senna had put running her hand along the wall, trying to see beyond it, before she jumped slightly at the sudden weapon's discharge. She looked over and saw the big Marine Lieutenant grinning. Sensing no immediate danger, Senna continued to look beyond the immediate room for any clue or semblance of conscious thoughts.

Londance laughed quietly, to himself. "Looks like we won't be needing the shuttle, after all. Alyssa, you're the resident expert on Iconia - does any of this have a familiarity to you?"

Alyssa looked up from her tricorder, the look on her face puzzled. Yet her soprano was crisp as she replied. "The best I can come up with is that we're in some sort of vault. Perhaps to store a weapon, technology or knowledge. But definitely a vault..." She quickly moved to the nearest console, freezing in her tracks as it came to life and a series of symbols scrolled continuously over its display.

Zoteke came up next to Alyssa, passed her and then turned and stood exactly in front of her. "In light of recent developments, I'd prefer if you'd let me go everywhere first. Seeing how my gun is the only one we have left that actually works. You tell me where, and I'll check it out for you. Who knows what else gets triggered without us consciously triggering it!" He snapped.

Alyssa put her hands on her hips and gave Zoteke a cold stare. "Sure.... you can come along with me Lieutenant, but I will have to go to that console in person if we are to find anything out about this place. That is unless you wish to wait here untill the next seemingly random event decides to take us further."

"Besides" She continued "-I doubt any weapon will do us any good in here."

Zoteke nodded. "Exactly. That's why i'm the most expendable right now. I'm a marine without a fight. Besides, i've got some armor on me, and i'm tough as nails. It takes more to kill me than it would to kill you." he explained calmly. He understood Alyssa's point but he felt his were as valid if not more. "We'll move to the console together, but please keep your body behind mine, just in case" he pleaded.

As they both continued Alyssa explained her ideas on the situation."Interesting." She mused more to herself than to the rest of the group."You see, It makes sense that it would scramble our communications and scans, concealing this structure from whoever destroyed Iconia. Its quite remarkable that its all still functional. But it makes no sense that we'd be transported in here without any input on our side. You'd think a vault, or any structure concealed such as this would require those accesing it to provide some sort of credentials or codes."

She cautiously approached the console, examining the symbols on its display, quirking a brow at what she saw. "Thats... odd... I think one of these symbols means 'host' or 'hosted'. And this here definitely means 'symbiosis'...." As she spoke she moved her hand close to the display, pointing the symbols out. "Would you come over here Lieutenant Davowski and tell me I..." Was all she could utter as a blue ray shot from the console.

A bright light flashed, and the next instant Alyssa was gone. "FRAX! THAT'S why I wanted to everyone to stay behind me!" Zoteke cursed. Looking at the senior officers with a pleading look he asked "You know, maybe we should talk about some ground rules here?"

"Yes, I agree." Josh said, "Until we find Alyssa, if nobody minds, I'm assuming command of the away mission." He looked at each of them as if to say, 'Just going by the book.'

"Of course sir" Zoteke replied. "I just meant that this might just be exactly why the Captain sent us marines with you. Let us do the risky stuff. No disrespect intended sir."

Josh nodded & said, "Our first priority is to find a way out of this......vault. Madwan, Londance, go over every last inch of this room. See if there's any type of mechanism that opens or activates some way to get us out." He then turned to Senna. "Lieutenant," Josh said, "try to reach your mind out & find Alyssa."

Senna nodded and closed her eyes for a moment, to center herself. She opened then and reached out. She saw all the feelings of those around here, but the strongest one wasn't from inside the room itself. It was from far in space. It was brief, but familiar. "She's not here... or anywhere near by," informed Senna.

Zoteke looked over at Davowski and nodded. "I'll start this side of the room, you take the other. We'll start in one corner and move to the opposite one. Then we cross diagonally. Whatever we've missed by then we'll have to examine more closely. Deal?" he asked.

Londance merely nodded at Zoteke. He walked over to a nearby wall, and gripped a bar on the side of it tightly - without much effort he yanked it off, a flash of sparks and a metallic crunching sound accompanied the motion. He had a look of utter frustration, on his face. "If you don't have a working weapon, improvise." He stated, while he walked off towards the corner of the room.

Zoteke started cautiously moving across the room as agreed, waving his rifle left to above to the left, almost without thinking. Where ever his eyes went, the rifle followed. Looking at the machinery as he went on he noticed there seemed to be differences between them. Some looked older and of a different design, be it slightly, than the others. Yes, he was sure, there were two distinct kinds of machinery in here, though conduits of some sort connected them all at one point or another. The console at which Alyssa disappeared was one of only two exceptions. It seemed to be an end- or startpoint of some circuit and following the conduits through the machinery all the way he came to..…

Zoteke stopped in his tracks when he noticed a console almost identical to that which had zapped his colleague moments earlier. "Science folks! Over here!" Zoteke called as he moved closer to the console. It was lit, and scrolling some kind of script on it's three screens. It didn't however seem to react to Zoteke's presence, or his ever so carefull touch with his finger. "Seems safe enough" he called out to the rest of the team.

Josh walked over to the console & looked it over. It's writing was foreign to him. "Ovik," Josh called over, "how's your ancient Iconian?"

"Well, sir, our expert was Commander Stark, although Lieutenant Davowski is well informed as well. But in preparing for this mission, I caught up on their notes and I can see what we find."

"Very good." Josh said, "Try to translate that as best you can. Londance, do you have any knowledge on whether or not Iconians implemented booby traps in their structures?"

Londance silently walked through them, his face once again stoic. "The experiences of the Enterprise D, would suggest that the Iconian's protected their home-world very well. Not only did they have the capability to cloak an entire planet - they were able to infect a Federation vessel with a destructive Virus. One can only assume that the Iconian's were very fond of protection. After what happened to Alyssa, I am more than inclined to say that there may be many more traps to come. I couldn't say for certain, though - Alyssa knows much more about the Iconian civilization, than I."

Ovik looked over the console without touching it. He was afraid to touch it, to a degree, but his training and culture forced him to do so after some study. Ideally he would take a few days and work with the chief diplomat on this, but they didn't have a few days.

After a moment, whilest the others looked around, Ovik came to a conclusion. "Sirs," he said to Josh and Londance. "I believe I can tell one thing thus far - these are science consoles." If it was in his nature to chuckle he would have. "I should know."

Londance cocked his head, "Are you sure? Can you give us a function analysis?"

"Aye, I cannot tell exactly what they do, but based on this premise, I can begin to figure them out." He paused, examining them again, referring back to his datapad several times. "Give me a moment and I'll... wait..." He placed his hand over the console without any doubt or hesitation and pushed a button on the screen. "This should give us a status update?"--- CARRIER SECURED. Stasis fields operating at seventy eight percent efficiency. Subject: Female humanoid.Points of interest: Neurotransmitter detected by remote unit 048, showing promise for Interlink deficiency compensation. Status: Subject contained, extraction process initiated.---

"Computer," Josh said, "Describe extraction process."

The computer console displayed a schematic of the extraction process. After seeing this, Josh became very worried. "We have 15 minutes to try to get to Alyssa or...." he stopped abruptly. The thought of losing a crew member on his watch got to him. "Ovik," Josh said, "see if you can try to disengage this extraction crap." He then turned to Zoteke. "How many rounds do you have in that gun?" Josh asked. He looked like his mind was going a mile a minute.

Zoteke's quick look at the rifle's display told him the answer. "297 rounds and 2 clips of 300 rounds in my pocket. I'm ready sir. Just hope it's gonna be enough... my guts... they're acting up.." After hearing his answer, Josh nodded & said, "Okay, Here's what I want to do." He walked over to where Londance pulled a pipe off the wall. There was a relatively small hole where the pipe lead into. Josh went to see how thick the wall was, but stopped short. He felt the wall to see what it was made of. It felt to him like some sort of concrete material. He then stood up & said, "I reckon that there's some sort of access panel is on the other side of that wall. I figure that if we make the hole big enough, we could get at that access panel & get the hell out of here."

Londance's eyes narrowed slightly, "We should scavenge the room, for something that could work as a sort of 'sledge hammer'. If it's a concrete like material, it should begin to crumble, provided we smash the wall hard enough. It shouldn't be too much of an issue. What do you think is behind the wall, exactly?"

"I figure that it's either a corridor, or...." Josh stopped & looked at the panel, "....the extraction room." He felt Senna come up behind him. Josh turned to face her. "What is it?" He asked.

"We are no longer... alone. Others are here and are aware of us..." responded Senna. "They are coming for us and they do not seem, happy."

Londance looked up, in a flash "I feel it too... It seems familiar, actually." He frowned a bit, "No... It couldn't be, could it?" He muttered. A cautious look crossed his face, as he looked towards Josh. "Doctor, could you do me a favor... Scan for Triolic radiation..." He said quietly.

Josh cracked opened his tricorder. It still didn't light up. "Still a brick." he said, "Why triolic radiation?"

Londance looked over at Josh, his hands fidgeting with his uniform, "The last time that I felt this type of presence was when I had served aboard the I.R.W. D'ridthau - Over the course of a few days, our crew compliment was ultimately depleted - from almost 800 souls, to 20; a few bridge officers including myself and a few crewmen were all that was left. We were unable to figure out what was happening, let alone stop it - understandable considering our ship was an older class in the Romulan fleet - ultimately our commander ordered us to abandon ship. In the long run, it was a good thing; about 5 minutes after we had evacuated, the ships warp core breached. A few days later, a science vessel had picked up signs of Triolic Radiation in the debris. Our assumption is that a Devidian portal was present inside, or near the warp core. During those days, I had continued to sense a presence - the only way I could describe it, would be a leech. It was draining, both mentally and physically - even my own abilities felt weakened - although, I was lucky not to have become another victim."

While hearing Londance's response, Ovik turned his tricorder around and flipped open one of the back panels. He carefully slid a few iso wires across and put the panel back on. After a moment of button pressing, the tricorder was modified as he had wanted. "Sirs, this won't get us very far, but it will help. Based on the science language on the console here, I have identified a short-range scan frequency."

"Identified? What do you mean? What does this frequency scan?" Zoteke asked and then looked at Josh and Londance looking quite apprehensive. "And please don't tell me we're up against Devidians". He then looked at all the questioning faces in the group looking at him and shrugged. "I'm no science buff, and don't need to know the details but a broad understanding of what you're saying could help me be of help here." he added, an apologetic expression on his face.

Looking at Ovik first he said "I'm realy lousy with frequencies and waveforms and particles." and then with a look at Londance and Josh he said "Some marines go on black ops. This one's had his fill of Davidians".

Londance furrowed his eyebrows, as he came up with a response, "If I am correct, Triolic Radiation leaves residual traces in human bodies. In higher volumes, it can also leave traces on inanimate objects. Unfortunately, not all of our standard tricorders - or ship sensors, for that matter - are equipped to scan for that particular frequency."

Ovik shrugged human-like. "Well, the status gave it away... and I could see where the two empaths were looking." He paused and looked at his scanner. "I can now scan fairly openly within 10 meters - I am picking everyone on the team up on my scanner."

"Aside from Commander Stark, of course," he added.

"Ah, so you found a frequency that's not effected as much by whatever is jamming the rest. Ok, got it." Zoteke commented silently.

Josh walked over to Ovik, patted him on the back & said, "When we get out of this, I'll see that you get a promotion!! Now-" A invisible blast caught him in the chest & sent him across the room.

Londance blanched, and looked dumbfounded at where the Doctor had landed, "Are you alright, sir?" He asked, in a worried tone.

Josh got up & shook his head. "That," he said sounding confused, " did not tickle. Catch where that blast came from Ovik?"


The answer came from the nozzle of Zoteke's rifle. In the comparative darkness it seemed like the rifle's nozzle spewed forth fire or lightning rather than solid projectiles and the flashes strobed up the immediate area around Zoteke. On the very far side of the room something could be heard dropping to the ground just a second after the loudness of the rifle firing had ceised.

"It came from over there somewhere... " Zoteke said, pointing in the direction he had shot in. "i don't know if i hit whatever fired, but i hit something!" Zoteke said mostly to himself. A slight satisfied grin splayed across his face.

Josh approached Zoteke & said, "Alright, stand down." He then turned to the where the Marine shot.

"I am Capt. Joshua Broughm of the USS August. You will reveal yourselves to us & return our crewmember or......." He motioned for Zoteke & pointed to the spot where the dropping came from. ".....well, your friend becomes tile grout."

Senna peaked from behind the console that she had used as cover when Zoteke's weapon began firing. Times like these she wished she could turn off her telepath ablities. She sensed rising rage from outside and inside the room.

Josh walked over to Senna. All he could get out is "What-" as a being appeared out of nowhere & tackled Broughm hard in to the wall. He started to throw a punch that was aimed at the being's face, but was blocked. The being started to pull out a padd like device when suddenly, it fell limp.

Josh looked past the almost lifeless body of the being to see Zoteke aiming down the barrel of his gun. "Impeccable timing Soldier." Josh said as he shoved the being off him. Josh grabbed the padd from it's hands & examined it. Josh motioned to Londance. "You recognize these things?" Josh asked.

Ovik interjected at that question and shook his head. "Stupid Bareski," he said uncharacteristically. "No brains for this job." Suddenly from his tricorder a beam emanated and surrounded the team. The consoles shut down and their weapons ceased to function. The scanning opening Ovik had given them also stopped working for them.

The Vulcan grinned, again uncharacteristically. "Walk, that way," he said sternly, pointing. A sudden blue flash filled the room for a split second during which Ovik's body turned a bright white. He shook his head and spoke to apparently no one. "Esha'temira, zandostin. Jhara da-uni, quer vrrom ssshaaass." The room would not flicker again, until they got to their destination.

Zoteke gave Josh a questioning look while locking a round in the chamber of his rifle. "Either he's been going over the notes on Iconians a bit too long or he ain't our Ovik sir. I don't know if we should do what he asks." he said in a whisper. He then frowned and sighed. "On the other hand, if they wanted to kill us i'd say we'd be dead by now." he commented on his own words, all the while keeping his rifle dead-center on "Ovik"'s head.

"Where's Ovik?" Josh asked sternly.

The Vulcan chuckled. "Ovik's been out of the picture for a month now, since Memory Alpha. You may merely call me... Broker, in your language."

It was Zoteke who turned up the history from his memory first. "Broker... as in the late 20th, early 21st century word Broker?" Zoteke asked. At the questioning ook some gave him he explained. "In those days currency ruled the economics of the people. Things were given a value that way. Ownership of companies were given values as well, and sold in pieces. Ownership of a company could be split into thousands of 'stocks' which were partial ownerships. The owners of a 'stock' as it was called i think received a cut from the companies revenues." Zoteke knew the others understood as their faces said they got why that would be interesting trade.

"Yes, that's where the profit was made and lost. Companies were big, profits huge. If you owned more than 50% of the stock of a company you were essentially the boss of the company." Zoteke paused for a second as he was now coming to the broker part of the history.

"The people buying and selling stocks on the exchange acted in their own name on behalf of others. They were called stockbrokers or brokers.. Effectively it's someone who buys something in his own name for someone else. a Dealer." he finished.

Londance was looking at Zoteke, bewildered, "Anyone who has taken a standard history lesson on economical structures, would understand this. Even my homeworld had gone through this phase, once upon a time."

Londance turned his attention back to the Impostor Ovik, "So tell us, what are you, if not our officer?"

"The good doctor will answer your questions in due time... although you may not like the answers."

"Any answer is better than what we know now" Zoteke muttered under his breath. He was getting more and more nervous. Something was just bugging him ever since they had been dumped inside this whatever.

"Well," Josh said, "Broker, I want to know where you are taking us & what you intend to do with us." He started to turn his back to the Broker. "By the way, our ship will send a detail of troops to find us. If I were you, I'd start praying to whatever Deity you believe in that they don't find our bodies anywhere on this planet."

The Broker shrugged. "They can send troops, but they'll never find this place... I don't think." He seemed not 100% sure of that part. "Although I can say the Romulans have been of great assistance and should keep your precious starship busy for a while. The Sabers we captured were instrumental in getting you here - I can't believe it worked, to be honest." He kept walking, not answering Josh's first question.

"Since you dodged my first question," Josh said, "let me ask you another one. What did you do to the real Ovik?" He noticed Zoteke's rifle shake. Josh placed his hand on the rifle to push it down. "No point in shooting him right now Marine," Josh said evenly, "Might as well play along."

Senna appeared calm and remained quiet. She used the distraction of Josh's questions and Zoteke's hostility toward the Broker as an opening. She reached out with her mind to peer into the Broker's. Looking for any thoughts of Alyssa or the real Ovik. Unfortunately, the Broker's mind was unlike anything she had seen before. It was virtually a void. A dark and black empty void... as if he wasn't a true living creature.

The Broker nodded to the doctor. "He's ok, you'll get him back when we're done."

In a whisper, just loud enough for Josh to hear Zoteke said "I'm pretty fed up with all this mystery. Romulans are apparently attacking the ship. What more reason do you need to shoot this sucker and find our way out. He's not telling us anything useful anymore!"

Josh whispered back, "It won't do us any god damned good if this fraud is dead, isn't it?" He turned to face Zoteke & whispered firmly, "I expect my orders to be followed. Understood? Just nod."

Zoteke's face betrayed the offense he took at the insinuation he'd not follow orders. He just nodded though, but resolved to have an intensive talk with Josh when all this was over.

Josh went on. "I figure that this guy is some sort of slave broker or a twisted version of an organ dealer. He's probably taking us to a processing facility. When he opens this little crate, that's when we'll act on a plan."

Senna thought to herself... "Is it possible that this 'Broker' is a pseudo-life form? Like an AI or hologram? It would explain its ease of deception without emitting any tell-tale signs of emotions. Though Vulcans are often of the appearance to be devoid of emotions, they still have them. Just that the emotions are suppressed." Senna never focused on Ovik before to notice a difference. But yet, if he was a hologram or some kind of AI, it would now explain the empathetic void in Broker's mind.

Josh noticed Senna focusing on their captor. He smiled at this & place his hand on her shoulder gently as if to say, "Good Job". He then called everyone into a huddle. "Alright," Josh said, "Any plans on how to get out of here?"

"I do not believe this Ovik imposter is a living being. He is giving off no signs of any emotion. Even borg had...have emotions. This one... is almost computer like," offered Senna.

Zoteke looked at Josh but spoke for all to hear. "And remember guys... TRIOLIC radiation?? We might not be dealing with anything iconian.…"

The Broker led them through the white cube until they reached another console maybe 10 minutes later. It looked just like the last one. The fake Ovik pushed a few buttons, keeping his eyes on the crew still. "We're here. I can dispense of them as you see fit since you have what you need."

A disembodied, metallic voice sprang from the console, its screen remaining dark.

"Excellent work, we expected nothing less of you. Sadly most of the specimens you collected are incompatible, but the female humanoid's brain contains what we require. We have no need for the others."

"Ok," he nodded. "I shall send a subspace communique to the Romulan Dulus to let the Thrai and the Federation ships go." He turned to them and smiled. "I would say it has been a pleasure... but..." Ovik turned into a white/blue phased creature, floating in the air instead of standing on the ground. His tricorder dropped to the floor as he fled and eventually disappeared.

Josh looked stunned. He turned to Zoteke & said, "Sorry about that. You looked nervous & a bit stressed. No insult taken I hope?"

Zoteke raised one eyebrow and after a second replied "When none was intended, none is taken. Semper Fi, Hoorah and all that. We're cool" and then smiled like he thought of something amusing.

"For what its worth," Josh said, "you handled this brilliantly." He then turned to the away team. "Damned Devidians." He said, "What could they want with Alyssa?" He then saw the tricorder & picked it up. He handed it to Londance. "Obviously they were watching us for a time. the question is for how long?"

Senna thought to herself, "Devidians... phantoms…"

Londance cocked his head, "Long enough to fool us." He then began to tap his fingers rapidly, skimming their way across the tricorder. Dull beeps emanated from the device. "It is a federation Tricorder, that is certain. There are subroutines that don't add up, though; this particular Tricorder has a linguistic translator - by the looks of it, this device indicates the presence of a neurological transmitter inside the impostor Ovik's brain. There are also extensive files in here, that are clearly not related to the medical field - in fact, this entire patch here, is entirely in Iconian."

Londance became quiet as he read over the files, his brows furrowed as he translated in his head. Josh started to walk around. He noticed where the Devidan exited the room. It seemed like a solid wall, but he somehow knew it was their way out. Josh reached for his phaser & checked the indicators. It was lit up like a christmas tree, so he tuned it low & picked a bare spot on the floor. It fired.

"Looks like we got back our weapons." Josh said happily, "If you find a command on that thing that opens the door, Londance, please engage it."

After a few more moments, Londance face calmed, "This should do the trick, Doctor." He pressed a few more buttons, and the doors around the room chimed, and opened. " All doors are now open. "His facial expression went serious, "On the other hand, I can't break through some of these firewalls. The Iconian's technology is far superior when it comes to coding messages - the fact of the matter is that I can only view what isn't coded. I'm afraid we will have to search for Stark the old fashioned way."

"Zoteke," Josh said, "when we get out of this box, we'll be facing a tonne of Devidans. Think we can handle them?"

Zoteke smiled at his superior officer. "Depends. I happen to have a synchronic proton distortion setting on my rifle which should now work again as well as yours. I can take a lot of them out but if there are to many attacking me at once.... i'll be overwhelmed...". To make sure he was right he checked the status on his gun's display. "Jup, it's working allright." Zoteke commented. Then he looked his commanding officer in the eye. "Ain't nothing for us to do than to face the music.... " he started.

Moments later, the white cube flashed dark and 7 blue beings bolted in from a specific direction - it was almost as if a doorway had opened and then closed, but there was nothing there. The Devidians charged the August crew and began to engage in melee physical combat, their punches digging deeper than a mere kinetic thrust - it sucked energy from them each time.*"* Die, humanoids. The good Doctor has been kind enough to give us sustenance for our troubles. Doctor wins, we win! *"*

Senna's expression went from nervous to focused. She cartwheeled and hand sprung to the side avoiding the devidian that had charged her. As she was in the air and landing, she withdrew her phaser pistol. The devidian turned toward her again and began to come at her. Senna felt and saw its thoughts now. It wanted to consume her as if she was a piece of fruit. Those thoughts were most strong, a mere two meters from her. Senna's eyes narrowed and she fired her phaser.

The beam hit the devidian right in the neck and appeared to sever its head just before it vanished in a poof of triolic smoke. Senna stood up and scanned the room, searching for another target with her mind. The devidians were most vulnerable when they were about to feed... and with her empathy she was going to take advantage of that.

Zoteke grunted. He hadn't expected the Devidians to attack them so soon. "Bloody hell!" he yelled and brought up his rifle and aimed at the one about to attack Senna from behind. The blue energy that was unleashed upon the blue creature seemed to make the glow of it even brighter before it flashed spectacularly out of existence.

Immediately he swung his rifle around and fired again, hitting the devidian that was coming for him smack in the head. POOF was the only sound it made as it flashed brightly and vanished. The fact that a syncronic proton distortion weapon was used seemed to draw the attention of the surviving devidians. As one they turned to face Zoteke. Zoteke swallowed hard. The indicator on his weapon stated it would take 6 seconds for it to recharge. An eternity in this situation. He'd just have to rely on his shipmates to give him enough time to recharge.

Londance was standing in front of a crate, with blood seeping from head. A look of sheer anger on his face. He raised his weapon and pressed a couple button on the side; the gun started making an odd hissing noise, and the matrix inside began to light up - Federation Phaser, and Romulan Disruptor, combining energy in a single weapon - a beep sounded, and Londance fired; a purple beam shot out from the gun, quick as a starships phaser bank - it vaporized three of the Devidians, as well as crate upon crate far behind them, until it disappeared through a hole, melted into the wall.

Josh wheeled around & saw a devidian come right at him. He went to pull out his phaser, but almost immediately, it got knocked out of his hand. The Devidian gaffled on to his neck & started squeezing. Panic started to set in as Josh's air was chocked out him. Thoughts started running through his mind as he started to loose life energy. Almost instinctively, he brought a knee up to the being's crotch hard. Instantly, the Devidian released Josh's neck & doubled over in pain. This allowed Josh to grab his phaser, tune it to it's highest setting & aim at the being's head. "Let me cure that pain for you." he said, then fired the phaser, causing the being to evaporate.

Zoteke scanned around as his rifle had finally recharged and found no threats left to shoot. He grinned and shouted "I SUGGEST WE LEAVE!"

"Best idea I heard today!!" Josh said loudly, "Let's go folks!!" He lead them through the entry way & down the hall. He looked around, slightly confused. Josh pulled out his tricorder, trying to get a fix on their lost crewman.

"450 meters this way." he said, "Londance, can you confirm?"

Senna quietly nodded in agreement. She looked at the phaser and saw that it was set to max. She never recalled setting it to that and reset it to the lowest stun setting. After which she tried to re-holster her phaser pistol. On her third attempt, her hand was steady enough to holster it. Seeing the group starting to move out again, Senna quickly picked up her pace to keep up.

"Confirmed," Londance stated, "Behind the next bulkhead is a laboratory, of some sort. We need to find a door."

Josh lead the group to a rather large door. He tried to force it open, but no such luck. "What I wouldn't give to have Data's strength." he said half sighing. Then, an idea came to his head. "Zoteke," he said, "place charges at each of corners of this door." The only idea he had seemed logical.

Zoteke grinned. "i knew i wasn't overpacking when we left." he said as he placed the charges and set the detonators. When the marine placed the charges, Josh yelled, "DUCK & COVER!!!!!" He jumped into the small alcove of a doorway & assumed the crash position.

As Zoteke dove for covere he counted down the seconds. "4......3.....2......1..…"

Senna huddled behind a corner and covered her ears. Soon after everyone took cover, a loud explosion reverberated down the hall, past the away team. When the smoke & debris cloud dissipated, the door was no longer there

Josh was the first up & out of his safe spot. "That's what I call a pyro show!" Josh said as he pulled out his phaser & lead the team into the lab in which Alyssa Stark was kept.

"Thanks... one must do what one is good at my mom always said..." Zoteke replied. Inside, the whiteness of the blank cube disappeared into a sudden modern, yet antique looking laboratory. Inside were many rows of biobeds, most occupied. It would be obvious to the empaths that Stark was in one of them.

It would be obvious to everyone the laboratory's owner standing in the very middle of the grand facility.

(To be continued in part 9)

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