EPISODE 6.54 - “Obsession”
written by Travis Cannon
The computer hummed and chirped, indicating that the authorization code was confirmed and recognized.
“Report computer,” Dr. Felix Adar stared at the console.
Several beeps followed before the computer responded. “A match to the search parameters has been established.”
“Confirm with data I am inputting,” Adar said, as he took a isolinear chip from his breast pocket and inserted it into an input port.
The computer hummed and ran through the data.
“Match confirmed,” the computer declared. “Ninety-five point eight percent probability.”
Adar's face lit up with glee. “Computer, can you give me an image of the planet?”
Moments later, the front terminal in the small craft blinked, and the view screen showed a dark sphere, its edges lit by the star on its far side.
Felix Adar cried with joy.
“Yes! I knew it was true! I knew it!”
He moved to the helm, and slowly eased himself down into the chair. “Computer,” he instructed, as he began prepping the ship. “Prepare a encoded transmission of all collected data.” The computer chirped to confirm the request. “Good. Now send to it my daughter, priority one.”
After series of beeps and whistles, the computer announced, “Transmission sent.”
“Very good, computer,” Adar said with a smile. “Now program a landing trajectory for the northern hemisphere.”
“Well, with Commander Smith's suicide, all questions about the loyalty of Deep Space Five and all of its personnel, including related ships, has been pushed aside,” Admiral Harold Anton said from the view screen in Admiral Truman's office.
Also present were Captain Kelsoe, Captain Franco, Captain Riganoff, and Captain Tellening; All senior officers, representing the fleet captains of the Third. Kelsoe watched as Anton's eyes shifted from Truman and towards him.
“On behalf of Starfleet Command, I'd like to apologize to you, Captain Kelsoe, for the actions and accusations made by Commander Smith,” Anton said.
“It was not your fault, Admiral,” Kelsoe said.
“Smith was acting on my authority,” Anton asserted. “Even though I did not sanction his actions, his actions were capable due to the authority I entrusted in him.”
“I believe I know how you feel, sir,” Kelsoe said.
Anton let it drop at that. He turned back to the group. “With that all said, the President and the Federation Council were beside themselves when they heard that we had lost the Evadus system. In accordance with orders from the Federation Council, myself, along with the vice president, will be traveling to DS5 to, as Secretary General Jordan put it, deal with the situation.” He raised a hand to prevent objections from Captain Franco and Riganoff. “I understand the situation, however, politicians, as they are, don't. The Council is worried, as am I. The Coalition have advanced in technology significantly since the outbreak of the war, something that has both puzzled and worried many of us back here. Coalition forces are advancing and we are unable to stop them,” Anton sighed, signally he was done.
“When shall we expect you, Admiral?” Truman asked.
“We're already in route,” Anton said. “We should be there in two days.”
“Then we'll see you then, sir,” Truman said.
Anton nodded. “Anton out.”
The screen blinked to the standard communication termination symbol of the Federation seal. Truman turned towards the four captains. “Ready your crews for inspections, and Captain Kelsoe... have Captain Burt report to me as soon as possible.”
“I don't know where he is, sir,” Kelsoe objected.
“Yeah, well neither does security,” Truman said. “Your his best friend, maybe you can coax him out.”
Kelsoe nodded. “I'll see what I can do, sir.”
Captain Sarah Tellening pulled Kelsoe aside after they left the Admiral's office.
“I would have come earlier if I knew about Smith,” she said softly, as the two wondered in the station nexus, making sure to stay in the shadows. “You should have told me about him.”
“I didn't want to worry you, Sarah,” Kelsoe said, feeling half-silly at the fact that they were hiding in the shadows.
Tellening shifted and pulled him over towards a wall, and practically pinned him to it. “I care about you, Ben,” she said passionately. “And when you're in trouble, I want to know. Not because I want to distance myself, but because I want to stand with you, hand in hand to face whatever it is that's coming.” She took his hand and placed it in hers.
He took a deep breath and looked into her eyes. The feelings he had felt back when they had unwisely become involved while he was her first officer had never really left him, even when he had met Anne. He had told Anne about Sarah, and Anne, being herself, laughed and told me that when you fall in love, you never fall out. Circumstances may pull you apart, but they would always be a part of you that remained in that moment. Life, as she said, was lived moment to moment. And like life, the heart did as well.
Kelsoe had loved only two women in his life; one was taken away from him by the Borg and the other by his duty to Starfleet. But know if found himself in a position where he could have one of them back, and try as he might, he did not know whether or not he could handle it.
“Ben?” her soft voice called his name.
Kelsoe blinked, returning to the present.
“I'm here for you,” Sarah Tellening said. “And I'm not going anywhere.”
The lights of Paris seemed to teem with life. All around him the streets were alive with life. The night was a time of romance and love. Yet Rodney Brickenhouser felt none of those.
He sat alone in a Café Bristo not far from the Federation Administrative building. As he looked up into the night sky, he could see the tower in the distance, and shuddered, half acknowledging to himself that he was competing treasons, perhaps even dooming the Federation to an endless war.
“Admiring the view, Rodney?” came the sign song voice.
Brickenhouser looked up with a shook and saw Tolleson, dressed in civilian garb, taking the open seat across from him at the small outside table.
“What are you doing here?” Brickenhouser hissed under his breath.
“Checking up on one of our agents,” Tolleson grinned and raised a hand to stop a waitress. “One Cinnamon Dolce Latte.”
The waitress nodded and went inside to get his drink. Brickenhouser and Tolleson sat in silence for a moment, until the waitress came back out with Tolleson's drink. He took one sip, and smiled.
“Now doesn't that just hit the spot,” he grinned.
“What do you want?” breathed Brickenhouser, chugging his Mocha.
Tolleson leaned back with the coffee cup in his hand. “With the information you've provided us on Mott and his dealings with Starfleet, we've been able to manufacture enough to convince the Federation Council to send Admiral Anton and Vice President Korban out to the front on DS5.”
Brickenhouser slumped down in his chair. He'd reached the point of no return. Tolleson words confirmed that he had just competed treason and betrayed his President.
“When will it happen?” he inquired.
“Shortly,” Tolleson replied, sipping his latte.
“The Breen?” Brickenhouser inquired. “Same as the Dominion War?”
Tolleson grinned. “You think we're that foolish? The Breen have no really stake in this war except expansion into the Dallos Cluster, something that we're willing to allow. They have no desires beyond that.”
“So the So'jan will be handling the whole thing?” Brickenhouser questioned in a soft voice.
At the question Tolleson's brow lowered and he leaned forward, placing his cup on the table. “You're on a need to know,” Tolleson said. “And right now, you don't need to know.”
“Well, what do I need to know?” hissed Brickenhouser.
Tolleson stood up and smirked. “If I were you, I'd think about taking a vacation... somewhere... out of France. Now.”
And with that, Tolleson slipped away into the crowd of passersby. Brickenhouser leaned back, feeling fear slowly creep through him after Tolleson's ominous advise.
Lilly Adar shifted uncomfortably in her bed aboard the USS Atlantis. She never liked sleeping aboard ship, but it was an unfortunate evil in dealing with space travel. Beside her Julian Brooke snored comfortably. She slipped out of the covers and pulled a silk robe over her nude form. With ease, she tip-toed over to the desk in the other room and activated a small portable computer terminal.
It was older and somewhat out of date from the current portable computers, but she couldn't bring herself to part from it. It was a gift from her father, the last thing he had ever given her. It was her graduation present from when she completed her studies at the University of Earth. When she first opened the wrapping she found a paper note folded up on top, telling her how much he enjoyed reading her doctorate paper in which she speculated that the Preservers and the First Ones where one and the same. It was the first she had ever heard from him in years, and she had been shocked and surprised when she saw the signature of Felix Adar at the end of the note.
The console hummed to life and the screen glowed.
Lilly leaned forward, intent on continuing her translation of the edifice on the temple from Yoth. Suddenly the computer beeped and a text window popped up, overlapping the screen she had opened. She glared at the text before her as it glowed on the screen: FA1018109821.
Lilly had no idea what it meant, but she had a feeling it somehow involved her father; The FA in the message was what clued her in to that.
Centurion Avin entered the briefing room just as Major Kovok finished. Upon seeing him, Kovok dismissed the men. After the room had cleared, Avin stepped forward.
“Orders from Command,” Avin said, handing a data pad to Kovok.
The major glanced at them and grinned. “Command confirms the Breen transmission as authentic. We are to proceed.”
“Sir?” Avin was slightly caught off guard.
“We are to go to the coordinates and confirm that the planet exists,” Kovok said.
“The Oppressor homeworld?”
“If it is true,” Kovok said. “We shall finally have access to the technology the Coalition have accessed through Tyson Calok. We should hurry.”
Avin nodded. “The travel time from our location to these coordinates should allow us to arrive close to or before Calok.”
“Then let us proceed, ready the ship.”
Kelsoe poke his head around the corner and into the bar.
There he was, right where he suspected.
He looked around and quickly ducked into the bar and strolled up to the counter, then - with a hard slap on the back - woke up Connor Burt.
“What?! Who's there?! I ain't got the latinum!” Burt blurted out.
“Woa, easy there, buddy,” Kelsoe said, reach out and stopping Burt from falling out of his chair.
Burt looked up, his eyes blood shot.
“You've been drinking the real thing, haven't you?” Kelsoe asked.
“Synthehol's too fake,” protested Burt, as Kelsoe ordered a cup of strong coffee. Within moments, he was then assisting Burt to the a booth, while pouring the dark liquid done his friend's throat.
After several more cups, Burt started to become coherent.
“What's going on, Ben?” Burt demanded.
“Truman's looking for you,” Kelsoe said. “I don't know if you've heard, but Anton and the Vice President are coming to the station, and everyone's getting ready for inspections.”
Burt began to close his eyes, but opened them quickly when he heard the word inspection.
“When?” he demanded.
“In two days,” Kelsoe said.
Connor Burt shifted in his seat. “Truman probably wants to get me away from the station. Going to order us to the front, or something.” He took a sip of the coffee and shook his head. “Thanks for the wake up call, Ben. You're a lifesaver!”
“You would have done the same for me, hell, you have,” Kelsoe leaned back.
Burt raised an eyebrow. “I must be dreaming or are you smiling?”
“Yep, you're smiling all right!” Burt insisted. “What's happened?”
“Well, while you were hear drinking yourself silly,” Kelsoe explained. “Truman recalled as much of the fleet as he could. After Evadus and Smith, he felt he needed to have an in-person meeting, avoiding using unsecured subspace channels.”
“Oh, I see,” Burt grinned. “Captain Sarah Tellening and the Skyfox were one of the ships recalled, is that it?” He laughed. “You get lucky?”
“What are you talking about, Connor?” Kelsoe asked, a little uncomfortable.
“Ah, com'n man,” slurred Burt. “You have got to get laid.”
“Connor, my love life, such as it is,” Kelsoe insisted. “Is none of your business.”
“She here, your here,” Burt continued. “Rank not a problem. Hell, I know you need it. Haven't been with a women since Anne.”
Kelsoe stopped him there. “Captain Burt, I know its the drink talking, but I find that very inappropriate.”
Burt hesitated, and frowned. “I know, sorry man,” Burt answered. “I'm just so damned tired. Tired of this war, tired of Starfleet, tired of everything.” He looked up. “But I since there's hope on the horizon when I see you with her. You're like a whole another person. A happier person.” He paused, thinking over his thoughts. “You need to tell her.”
“Tell her what?”
“How you feel,” Burt urged. “You need to tell her now, before things get worse, because trust me, man, with the way things are going right now, its going to get a whole lot worse.”
Tracy Carson slipped out of the sonic shower and began dressing. She could hear Craig doing the same in the other room. She zipped up her uniform and exited the bathroom.
Norman Craig was sitting on the edge of the bed putting his shoes on. He smiled as he saw her.
“You're hot, you know that, right?”
Tracy smiled. “I'll take that as a compliant.”
She leaned over to pick up her shoes when suddenly she felt dizzy. Images of fire and flames flashed through her mind. She caught a glimpse of a huge crater and of a swirling lava pool. The lava pool shifted, morphing into a red eye. She heard a malevolent laugh followed by what seemed like deep dark voices declaring success. Then an excoriating pain engulfed her head. She gripped her temples and closed her eyes. Within moments the pain ceased and she opened her eyes.
Tracy nearly jumped up in surprise when she found herself lying on a biobed in sickbay. Craig saw her wake up and called for the doctor. Both Dr. Braga and Dr. Rhell came rushing over, the later providing equipment to the former to scan her.
Dr. Chase Braga ran his medical tricorder over her head. He shook his head.
“What happened?” she asked.
“One moment you were fine,” Craig, her husband, explained. “And the next you've collapsed on the floor crying in agony.”
Tracy looked toward Braga. “Doctor?”
“I can't explain it,” Braga said. “Your neural readings are normal now.”
The sickbay doors hissed opened and Captain Kelsoe entered, looking worried. He came over. “Report, Doctor.”
“She blacked out, sir,” Braga said. “From what I can only classify as a telepathic vision.”
“Vision? Of what?” Kelsoe questioned, looking from Braga to Tracy.
Tracy took a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to remember. “I can't remember much, sir, but I remember seeing flames and a swirl of lava that reminds me of the gateway we found on Yoth,” Tracy answered.
Kelsoe looked back at Dr. Braga. “Is she all right?”
“Fine,” Braga said, half-confused. “I cannot tell what happened. But I have a guess.”
“Her recent telepathic activity with Xojo Manjala in restoring you to yourself,” Braga explained. “It must have activated the dormant parts of her telepathic powers which, if I remember correctly, she has really used since the last time we encountered Xojo.”
Tracy nodded to confirm Braga's assertion. “I really haven't given it much thought, sir,” she told Kelsoe. “With everything else that has happened, I've stopped my training with Commander Braxis.”
Kelsoe thought for a moment. “Well, I want you to start those session up again, immediately,” he ordered. “I'll inform the Commander. Right now, however, I want you to get some rest. Norman,” he turned to Craig. “Escort your wife back to your quarters and make sure she gets some rest.
“Aye, sir,” Craig said.
After he helped her down from the biobed, Craig and Tracy left sickbay. Kelsoe turned to Braga.
“What's really going on?” he asked.
All Braga could do was shrug.
Kelsoe's commbadge chirped.
“Captain,” came Tuff voice. “I think you should come to the bridge.”
“On my way, Kelsoe out.” He turned back to Braga. “I want a detailed analysis of her brain scans, doctor. And I want them soon.”
“Aye, aye,” Braga confirmed, and turned to begin with some assistance from Dr. Rhell.
Kelsoe stepped out of the turbolift and stopped. Before him on the view screen was his brother, Dr. Julian Brooke.
“Julian, what's the matter?” he noticed the look on his brother's face, and could not help but be worried as well.
“Lilly received a message from her father,” Julian said. “Its cryptic, but the Atlantis communication team have been able to decipher it.”
Kelsoe stepped down into the center of the bridge.
“What are you trying to say, Julian?” he asked.
“He found it, Ben,” Julian answered. “The old fool's found homeworld of the Oppressors.”
“This is ridiculous!” Truman ragged.
“It's not, Admiral,” Dr. Lilly Adar insisted, waving the PADD in her hand around. “This is proof.”
Truman looked up at the others in his office; Kelsoe, his brother Julian Brooke, Riganoff, and Captain Percival Day of the Atlantis, which had recently docked and had delivered the two scientists to the station.
“Proof of what?” Truman demanded.
“That my father's discovered the Oppressor homeworld,” Lilly said.
“Admiral,” Kelsoe tried to intervene. “This should be good news. Dr. Felix Adar has resurfaced.”
“Through a message,” Truman said. “A cryptic message at that. Hell, we can't even be sure if Adar sent the message.”
“Yes we can,” Lilly insisted. “Only my father could bypass the security protocols on that computer. A computer he gave to me. That's all the proof I need.”
“Oh?” Truman grabbed the PADD from her hands and looked down at the test. “FA I understand, his initials, but what about these numbers?”
“One zero one eight one zero nine eight two one,” Lilly recited. Kelsoe could tell from the look on Truman's face that the Admiral was impressed that she had already memorized the sequence. “They're coordinates,” continued Lilly.
“So?” Truman demanded. “For all we know their coordinates to some void between stars.”
“But they were sent by my father, Admiral,” Lilly persisted. “You know of him, how obsessed he became.” Truman inclined his head in the affirmative. “Then you know, you all know,” she looked at the entire group. “That my father would only contact me like this if he had found what he has always searched for. He's found the Oppressor homeworld, and those coordinates will lead us to him and the Oppressors.”
Truman stepped back and looked at the Starfleet officers with him. “If these truly are the coordinates to the Oppressor homeworld,” he began, looking at Kelsoe.
“Then it would be worth a look, sir,” Kelsoe finished the Admiral's train of thought.
Admiral Truman took a deep breath. “You know where these coordinates lead, don't you?” he asked.
Lilly nodded, as if the statement were obvious and repetitive.
“Deep into Coalition controlled space,” Truman provided the answer. “To do this, to look for your father and the homeworld of by far one of the most advanced civilizations to have existed, the Atlantis cannot go alone.”
“Are you denying me the right to look for my father?” Lilly demanded.
“No,” Truman said. “I'm just stating a fact that it would be dangerous for a research vessel to go behind enemy lines unaccompanied.” He turned and looked at Captain Kelsoe and Captain Riganoff.
Lilly Adar smiled.
“Sir!” growled the so'jan pilot. “We are arriving at the coordinates.”
Tyson Calok grinned, and glanced over at his comrade, Telek L'mar.
“Well, Telek,” Calok spoke. “It looks like we are about to met the makers.” He turned back to the helm. “Activate the cloak and bring us out of warp.”
Benjamin Kelsoe strolled out of the Admiral's office and began walking down the corridor, heading towards the central nexus. He turned a corner and stopped, coming face to face with Sarah Tellening.
“What's going on, Ben?” Sarah asked, noticing Kelsoe's countenance.
Kelsoe shifted uneasily. “Let's go somewhere more private,” he said as a couple other officers passed them in the cooridor. Soon he and Sarah were in the private officer's lounge. No one else was there.
“I'll ask again, Ben, what's going on?” Sarah asked as the two sat down on a cushioned couch in the corner of the lounge.
Kelsoe took a deep breath. “We believe that Dr. Felix Adar might have discovered the location of the Oppressor homeworld. The Atlantis is going to investigate, however the coordinates are deep inside enemy territory, so the Ticonderoga and the Pioneer are going as support.”
“When do you leave?”
“Shortly,” Kelsoe answered. “I did not tell Truman this, but something doesn't feel right about this mission. Something's off.”
“Why do you say that?” Sarah questioned.
“Tracy... Ensign Carson had what Dr. Braga called a telepathic vision,” Kelsoe explained. “The imagery of that vision was frightening. Some might even call it prophetic.”
Sarah lowered her head, and looked Kelsoe into the eyes. “Ben?”
“Those images she saw...,” Kelsoe spoke softly and slowly, almost as if he dreaded the words he was speaking. “I've seen them before.”
“Calok,” was all Kelsoe said.
Captain Sarah Tellening inclined her head in understanding, and slide closer to Kelsoe, wrapping him up in her arms. “It was a difficult time for you, I know,” she said, caressing his face. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. Eventually he relented and relaxed, slowly spreading out and lying his head in her lap. They stayed that way for a while.
Kelsoe cursed himself as he felt tears touch his checks. “Something bad is going to happen, Sarah,” he said sitting up and looking into her eyes.
Sarah pursed her lips. “Whatever it is, whatever is going to happen,” she said. “Remember this... I will always be there for you.”
Benjamin Kelsoe inclined his head, agreeing with what he had known all along. He felt his heart beat faster as he mind finally decided on its course.
Sarah placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled, beginning to stand. Kelsoe reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her back down to the cushions. “Sarah...,” he said softly, placing a hand on her face and pulling her closer. “I love you.”
They pulled together slowly, like a opposite magnets. Their forms melting together, becoming one. Their lips met and it was like fire; An embrace to rival the heavens themselves.
The chains rattled and the gate creaked as the cell door opened. The prisoner raised a hand to shield his eyes from the light.
“Bring him,” came the stern voice.
The prisoner was grabbed by guards and hauled through the cell block to an interrogation room. Moments later, when the guards had left, and the light turned on, Ru'kon saw who had requested this meeting.
“Cousin,” he said with wary grin.
Standing before him dressed in drab civilian clothing unbecoming to him was Admiral Ru'mal, leader of the resistance movement.
“I don't have must time, Ru'kon,” Ru'mal spoke quickly. “Bribing the guards only works so long.”
“What is it you want?” Ru'kon questioned, blinked in the bright light.
“The Resistance has learned of your plight,” Ru'mal said.
“I come to offer you our assistance,” Ru'mal spoke, as if it was obvious.
“No,” Ru'kon said flatly. He smirked at his cousin's look of confusion.
“Surely you know how the tribunal will rule,” Ru'mal insisted.
Ru'kon shifted in the chair which he sat. “Isen'ko came to see me some time ago, how long ago, I can say for sure,” he spoke slowly. “He told me that Da'note is planning a coup, one which requires my death.”
“This is madness.”
“No... no, it makes sense,” Ru'kon asserted. “The Tribunal will hear the case, and their ruling shall determine the fact of many.”
Ru'mal leaned forward, examining his cousin's face. “How can that be, cousin?”
The imprisoned senator smiled, weakly. “I believe the Tribunal ruling will not satisfy the blood lust in our king. He will be forced into taking actions counter to tradition and the law. Actions which shall show his true nature to our people. Those actions will allow Da'note to make his move.”
“But we can't trade one tyrant for another,” Ru'mal pleaded. “Surely there must be another course of action.”
Ru'kon shook his head. “None that I can see.” He paused in thought. “How goes the war?”
“Not good,” Ru'mal admitted. “The Federation has been forced back. Da'note alliance with Tyson Calok seems to be working to his advantage. The So'ja are stronger than ever, however the Coalition is not what it once was. Democracy had made us weak, but we were not like this.”
Ru'kon inclined his head. “You cannot act until the Federation can support us.”
“I have had my doubt about them,” Ru'mal attested. “Many amongst us had thought that our political differences would drive them awauy, but they have been most helpful. Thanks to their help we have been reunited with our long lost brothers, the Rigusians.”
The senator, a political prisoner awaiting trial, lit up. “The Rigusians!” he marveled. “They were once so'jan, but were touched by the Oppressors. Ba'gee saved them. And today they standard apart. But one day a new Coalition can be forged. One day, with all so'jan, including those who were stolen from us, united.”
“My thoughts, exactly, cousin,” Ru'mal concurred. “But a future which will be harder without you in it.” He looked over his shoulder. “My time is almost up. Do you still believe you should stay and face the ruling of the tribunal?”
Ru'kon took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Yes, cousin,” he answered. “I must. For the good of our people, I must.”
The resistance leader inclined his head, and placed a hand on Ru'kon's shoulder. “I understand, Ru'kon,” Ru'mal said. “The Ru Clan shall sign songs of your courage and bravery for years to come.”
Ru'kon smiled. “In the end, cousin, is that not what all so'jan seek?”
With a nod, Ru'mal said his final farewells and then left, leaving the senator to ponder his decisions and how they shall affect the future of his people, of all so'jan.
“I'm sorry I missed him,” Admiral Harold Anton said, as he shook hands with Truman and Captain Franco.
“Ben would loved to have stayed, but duty called, sir,” Burt said, next in line.
Anton nodded and shook Burt's hand. “I'm surprised the Admiral didn't send you off to the front.”
Burt grinned. “Can't get rid of me that easier, Admiral.”
“And nor would I want to,” Anton replied smiling.
“From what I hear,” came a very refined and control voice. “You are lucky to even still be serving in Starfleet, Captain Burt.”
“Mr. Vice President,” Burt inclined his head. “I serve always at the admiral's pleasure.”
Kaenar Korban gave a curt nod of acknowledgment. “We all serve the Federation.”
“Yes we do, sir,” Captain Sarah Tellening spoke up, waiting for her turn with the Starfleet Commander.
“Captain Tellening of the Skyfox,” Korban half smiled. “You were in command of the Minark expedition, were you not?”
“Yes,” Tellening replied.
“Look what happened there,” Korban said. “You should be more like Captain Burt here, always ready for a fight.”
Beside her, Burt shifted uneasily, unsure whether or not to take that as a compliment.
“Unlike my colleague here,” Korban indicated Anton. “I have no regrets not seeing the fabulous Captain Benjamin Kelsoe. If you ask me, he's a danger to himself and the fleet.”
“With all do respect sir, no he is not,” Tellening responded.
Korban narrowed his beady eyes. “He's been compromised by the enemy, and on more than one occasion.” He glared at her. “Have you been compromised, Captain?”
“I've heard rumors,” Korban explained. “Granted, most of the time I ignore gossip, but my source was one of reliability.”
“Where are you going with this, Mr. Vice President?” Truman inquired, standing beside Anton.
Korban looked over and smirked. “Nothing. Just gossip, rumor, nothing more than that.” He looked back at Tellening. “You should think more about your own career, Captain. Stop worrying about Saint Kelsoe.” He smiled, full of himself. “Let us continue with the tour, Admiral.”
Major Kovok looked out at the red desert plane before him and wondered how it could be so cold in a place such as this. The soldiers had fanned out, creating a perimeter before dusk, providing them with a secure base camp. He turned to Centurion Avin, who stood next to him with a scanner.
“Which way, Centurion?” he asked.
Avin shifted the controls on the device.
“Those immense energy readings are not just coming out of nowhere,” Kovok said.
The Centurion nodded. “I concur, sir, but the scanner is having difficulty locating the exact location.
“Of course it would,” came a terrifying voice.
The two looked up and immediately saw red eyes.
Kelsoe stood in his ready room, staring at the small monitor behind his desk. On the monitor was an image of Captain Burt, looking grim.
“Korban doesn't seem very keen on you, Ben,” Burt said. “The guy doesn't think you can be trusted.”
“Well, Admiral Anton believes in me,” Kelsoe said. “Enough so that he gave me Atlantis and Ticonderoga to tag along on this mission.”
“Atlantis is there become of Dr. Adar,” Burt asserted. “I did some checking, and apparently she has some connections pretty high up in the government. I'm talking about the Secretary General's office.”
“Well, having them along will be helpful, especially if we are heading towards the homeworld of the Oppressors,” Kelsoe said.
“Don't worry, I'll bet you have a good time,” Burt smiled. “Get to do some of that archeological research you like.”
Kelsoe nodded and sighed. “Do you remember when we used to be explorers?”
“Sure,” Burt replied. “But where's the fun in that, eh?” He turned to something out of to the side and gave a nod. “Look, I gotta go... I've been ordered to attend a dinner in the Vice President's honor - not that I'll enjoy it, but I gotta go.”
Kelsoe gave a nod of understanding. “Try a behave yourself,” he said.
“Hey, it's me!” Burt replied, then ended the transmission.
“Yeah, I know,” Kelsoe said as he stared at the blank screen.
The pair stood locked in an unbreakable glare.
“Nice of you to join us,” Calok grinned mischievously. “When did the Tal Shiar break the Breen communications?”
Kovok and Avin exchanged glances.
Calok's grin remained. “Do you think I would just allow my communications to be intercepted.” He walked around them, circling them. The Romulan soldiers had aimed their weapons at the two new arrivals, though most of the weapons were trained on L'mar, instead of Calok, which the later took note. “Am I not a concern to you?”
Avin glared at him. “Commander L'mar is a traitor, sir,” he said, glaring into the red eyes. “We have no quarrel with you.”
“Ah!” jabbed Calok, thrusting a finger in Avin's face. “But you do want what I'm after.”
“The Empire has a right to protect its interests,” Avin asserted.
“Oh, yes, I suppose they do,” Calok laughed. Then, suddenly, grabbed Avin and pushed him to the ground, at the same time producing a weapon out of the shelve of his jacket and jamming it hard against the base of the centurion's skull. “No listen here... all of you!” Calok's eyes began to glow. “Drop you're weapons, now!” He swung around and narrowed his focus on Kovok. “Do it, Major!” he growled as he pushed the gun's barrel hard into the soft flesh of Avin's neck. “Or I'll paint the ground with you're friend's brains.”
Kovok hesitated for a moment before giving the signal. Calok grinned as the Romulan soldiers lowered their weapons. L'mar stepped in and removed Kovok's disrupter from his belt.
“What do you want, Calok?” Kovok said.
“We seek the same thing, do we not?” Calok asked, maliciously.
The major inclined his head, lowered his hands to his sides. “That we do.”
“Then I suggest you work with us,” Calok said.
“That would never happen,” Kovok said, as he flicked his pinkie finger.
Without hesitation one of his soldiers raised his weapon, intending to shoot Tyson Calok. Before he could pull the trigger on his disrupter rifle, Calok raised his hand and glared at him. The man let out a brief cry, before his eyes burst with flames and he collapsed, dead.
“Anyone else wish to test my power?” Calok inquired.
“What... what was that?” demanded Avin from the ground.
“Power...,” Calok crooned. “Power beyond your imagination. Unfortunately for you, the Romulan mind cannot handle it.” He turned his attention back to Kovok. “So, Major...,” he glared into his eyes, “... Kovok will you submit or shall I kill the centurion here?”
Kovok blinked. “What else can I do?”
Calok's lips curled into a smirk. “Smart boy.”
With that he let go of Avin and stepped over next to his comrade, the traitor L'mar.
“I have a task for your soldiers, then,” Calok said.
“We're about to have visitors,” Calok said.
Calok looked at L'mar.
“Starfleet,” L'mar said. “Remember Yoth?”
Kovok helped Avin up as the later glared with disgust at L'mar.
“At least we are not traitors to the Empire!” Avin spat.
“Now, now, now... Centurion Avin,” Calok said, stepping close to the elder Romulan. “That is no way to speak to a senior officer, now is it?”
“No,” Avin said, grudgingly. “No, sir.”
“All right,” Calok said, clapping his hands together. “Let's get this party started!”
Aboard the Atlantis, Dr. Lilly Adar was busy at work, organizing and planning for the rapidly approaching exhibition to a planet lost from history. But she found she had trouble focusing, troubled by her thoughts.
She shook her head, refusing to think of him.
He had abandoned her mother and her when she was a child. Sure, it was his cryptic message that had informed them of the coordinates, but part of her did not want to admit that he sent them.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and jumped, startled.
“Julian!” she said, turning to see the face of her beloved.
“Something's bothering you, Lilly,” Julian Brooke said. “I don't lie to me, because I can tell.”
She sighed, and turned to fully face him. “Felix Adar.”
“What about him?”
“He's my father.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Well...,” she stuttered, quickly trying to formulation her argument in her mind. “He's also a mad man... a lunatic... and wildly insane!”
“Okay, what's really bothering you?” he asked, placing his arms around her.
“He's going to be there,” she spoke softly, as she laid her head against Julian's chest. “I'm going to have to see him... face to face. For the first time that I can remember, I'm going to see my father.”
“What's so bad about that?” Julian inquired. “Other than that face he's completely mental?”
She gave a slight laugh at his jest. Her eyes glassed over and became ice.
“He left me,” she said. “And my mother.”
“If I remember correctly, your mother divorced him,” Julian said.
“But he started it when he became obsessed with his research,” she said. “Always looking towards the past, never focusing on the present. Never enough time for his family.”
Julian stroked her hair in his hands, comforting her, the whole time his mind racing, deep in thought. The reason for Lilly's mood suddenly popped into his head, as if it was always there.
“I get it,” he said.
“What's bothering you,” he answered.
“Oh,” she said, backing out of his embrace to look into his eyes. “And what's that?”
“You're afraid that you're going to see a reflection of yourself when you meet,” Julian said.
Lilly's eyes filled with tears and she dove back into Julian's arms, burying herself in his strong embrace. “Sometimes you know me better than I know myself,” she said through sobs.
“Don't worry, fruit,” Julian cooed, using his nickname for her to help calm her nerves. “No matter what happens, I'll be by your side.”
Supreme Admiral Da'note glared at the screen, watching as the signature patterns of the combined So'jan-Di'gan fleet drove the Federation's forces back. He grinned, baring his sharp yellow teeth.
With a hiss the doors opened and Colonel Val'gar stepped into the office. Da'note stood from behind his metallic desk and held out his hand, expecting a report, when he did not feel a data pad in his palm he snarled.
“Supreme Admiral, sir,” Val'gar said, saluting, hitting his fist against his chest.
“Your contact, sir,” Val'gar explained. “He... er, he wishes to speak.”
Da'note flicked his tongue in annoyance. “Patch it through then!”
The Colonel stepped over to the console along the side of the wall, and pushed a button. “Transfer to the Admiral's office.”
The screen flickered to life and the cheery eyes of his contact.
“Are you on a secure line, Agent Tolleson?” Da'note demanded.
“Of course,” was Tolleson's response.
Da'note bared his teeth. He hated Tolleson's human sing-song voice, but he tolerated him because of what was needed to fulfill his task. A task which would prove to all that the Coalition did not need Tyson Calok to do great feats.
“Is everything ready?” hissed Da'note.
A tiny smirk grew across Tolleson's fleshy face. “Yes.”
“Then are you finally ready to give us the codes, Tolleson?” Da'note inquired.
Tolleson did not hesitate, something Da'note did not expect, thinking that the human would betray him, yet he did not. Tolleson provided the codes and coordinates of the target. Da'note punched a button next to the screen and held up a data pad. He watched as the data was transferred to the pad. When it was complete he handed it to Val'gar and told the Colonel to take it to the bridge and enter the information into the main helm.
“You will no doubt want compensation for your troubles, Tolleson,” Da'note growled. “Betraying your people... not an easy task.”
“No compensation is required, Admiral,” Tolleson answered. “The only thing I need is for you to hit the target with precise efficiency.”
“Oh we will, we will,” Da'note grinned.
“Then our business is concluded,” Tolleson said, and ended the communication.
After the screen had blinked off, Da'note stood and stared into the blackness of it. “Soon...,” he murmured. “Soon we shall have our revenge!”
“Coming out of warp,” Ensign Eric Zimmer informed the bridge.
Kelsoe leaned forward in his chair, almost eager to discover what the mythical homeworld of the Oppressors would look like. In a way he felt strange. This would be the second mythical planet which he will visit, and he had a feeling it would not be the last.
The stars slowed and then he saw it. A reddish orb in space, rotating amongst the stars. Vast deserts, small purplish oceans, and a mass of dark clouds.
“Sir,” came Braxis' voice from the science station. “We are detecting an immense energy source.”
“Coming from the planet?” Tuff inquired.
“Affirmative,” Braxis confirmed, looking at the readings on the science screens.
“Are you detecting anything else?” Kelsoe asked. “Anything that might show where Dr. Felix Adar is?”
“Sir,” came Tracy's voice. “The Atlantis is signaling that she is ready to begin orbit.”
“Match their course, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said, stepping down beside his helmsman.
“Captain Riganoff wishes to know what you want the Ticonderoga to do,” Tracy said.
“Tell him to remain at a distance from the system and scan for anything out of the ordinary,” Kelsoe ordered.
“What are you thinking, sir? Cloaked ships?” Tuff inquired.
Kelsoe looked back at the view screen, seeing the Atlantis entering into orbit. “Let's just say I don't think we're the only ones who've come to this party.”
The console hummed to life and the ship's systems came back on.
Felix Adar opened his eyes and blinked. Only one eye really worked, the other had fallen obsolete when a so'jan prison guard had slashed at his face with a knife, cutting the flesh above his left brow through his eye, which had gone pale and dead with cataract, to the top of his cheek. His ragged appearance belied his focus and resolve.
A lesser man would have given up, but not this man.
Adar braced himself against the bulkhead as he pulled his aged body up. His good eye scanning the console, as the screen flashed with a scrolling text, data from the sensor scans of the exterior environment. He had not planned on a crash landing, but his tiny vessel was nothing compared to the mighty ships of the line.
His hands quickly ran across the control interface, placing in the commands to open the hatch. The ship's interior allows sounded, signaling the beginning of depressurization.
Adar gripped a handle and pulled himself towards the inner hatch. Using all of his strenght he turned a iron wheel, unlocking the hatch. He prefered manual interface over automated, he felt he had more control than when a computer ran everything. He should had pilot the shuttle down himself, but he was tired for the long voyage.
The computer chirped, informing him that pressurization with the atmosphere of the planet was complete. He reached up above the hatch and pressed the button to release the holdings, keeping the hatch shut. With a cranking and thud sound, Adar knew the hatch was ready to be opened. Using what strength had left, and pushed the heavy hatch opened.
The lid slammed against the metal hull with a bang. Adar pulled himself into the light and squinted, with his good eye he saw a red sky, and the tall dark shapes of mountains in the distance.
He smiled to himself.
He had arrived on the homeworld of the Oppressors.
To be continued...