Fallen Heroes Part II Chapter I

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Fallen Heroes Part II Chapter I

Post by Alexbright99 »

Hey guys, after uploading the prologue a few weeks back, here's the official first chapter. Since each chapter is a bit lengthy for a forum post, I've split them in four.

The story's about a young man who became a member of the Q Continuum, only to get stripped of his powers and immortality when he decided to help the Federation in their hour of need. Now, with Starfleet on the brink of war, he has to find a way to make a difference as an ordinary human being.

Fallen Heroes Part II - Chapter Ia

Starbase 9 – June 27, 2380 – Stardate 57486.4
The last few hours have been hell. The five admirals gathered in Starbase 9’s main office have never felt so powerless in their lives, sitting at their table, tapping fingers against the tabletop, having reduced their communication to rich variations of concerned expressions.

“Still no word from the fleet?” Admiral Simon Winkler asks, breaking the uneasy silence.

“None yet, Simon,” Fleet Admiral Owen Paris says. The mildly obese admiral, based at Starbase 9 since his predecessor Admiral Bywaard died in the line of duty, is pacing back and forth while excruciatingly slow seconds pass by single file. They’re all awaiting news from the front—news they undoubtedly will not like. It’s been too long.

Suddenly, the image on the viewscreen behind Admiral Paris changes from the Federation logo to Captain Keith Harriman, alive and well. The admirals turn their attention to the viewscreen, which would’ve been easier if Admiral Paris weren’t blocking their view. He quickly steps aside so they can see Harriman sitting in the ready room of his top-of-the-line starship. The lean captain has the tired-but-centered gaze of a man who has recently seen battle. “Captain Keith Harriman of the USS Achilles, reporting in. I’m afraid I have little good news for you.”

“Any… good news is welcome,” Admiral Paris says.

“Do you want the bad news first?” A nod from the admiral prompts Harriman to continue. “The Altonoids have taken over Station A-12.”

“We know, Captain. An hour ago, a smug Altonoid hailed us from the station and informed us of their victory. All defending Federation ships have been destroyed. They told us there were no survivors on our part. If that is true, it will be near impossible to ascertain what really took place there.”

“They were wrong about that, Admiral,” Captain Harriman says with a hint of a smile. “We have found three survivors. They’re docking with our ship right now. We can’t wait to hear their statements.”

“First damn good thing I’ve heard all day!” Admiral Paris glances over his shoulder to meet with concurring looks from four other admirals. His voice grows dark as he refocuses on Harriman. “What about the fleet? Where were you?”

Harriman must have anticipated this question. “Moments after we heard we were to provide assistance, a massive fleet of Altonoid warships attacked us.”

This doesn’t surprise Admiral Paris. Still, hearing his bleakest worries confirmed is as painful as he had feared.

“We lost thirty-one out of forty-two vessels. I am sorry, Admiral. We were unable to join the battle for Station A-12.”

“We were told that there were no survivors at all,” Admiral Paris says after a grave pause. “And we weren’t expecting to hear from you anymore, Keith. The survival of at least a part of your fleet is good news. Hurry to Starbase 9 and find out why Station A-12 fell.”

“Yes, sir. Captain Harriman out.”

As the Federation logo reclaims its rightful place on the viewscreen, Admiral Paris takes a deep breath and faces his colleagues. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Nedron System, USS Achilles – June 27, 2380 – Stardate 57486.4
Captain Keith Harriman stares at his faint reflection in the translucent desktop screen and runs a hand through his hair, which is graying at an alarming rate. No wonder, with all the battles he has seen.

He rises up from his desk and keeps his unfocused gaze fixed on the monitor. “I should’ve told them, Keith,” he says. “I should’ve told them about the exact circumstances of our survival. But how was I supposed to explain it to them?” He directs his speech to the empty screen, as if he were still speaking with the admirals. “This is not just between the Altonoids and the Federation; there was a third party involved. They told us to hide in a nearby nebula, and when we did that… they used unfamiliar technology to create a subspace well that drained the enemy fleet’s energy. They saved our skins, but I don’t know who they are.” He shakes his head. “I have to find out more about this mysterious deus ex machina. Whoever helped us, they might help us again.”

The three survivors of the Station A-12 disaster should be arriving soon, so he pushes his thoughts about this potential new ally aside, rubs the fatigue from his eyes, and exits his ready room to enter the bridge.

The USS Achilles, first vessel in its class, has an absolutely state-of-the-art bridge. It shares a good number of design elements with other Federation starships, but there are a few remarkable differences. Immediately noticeable is the sizeable holographic viewscreen, capable of projecting holographic recreations of people and their surroundings onto the bridge itself. The way it is incorporated, it has become a partial holodeck, making anyone and anything it displays appear as if they’re physically present. Though the deployment of holographic viewscreens isn’t groundbreaking territory for Starfleet, it has never been issued in this form before, taking up almost a quarter of the bridge.

Another novelty is the U-shaped holographic LCARS interface hovering behind the captain’s chair in the back half of the bridge. While the exact advantages of having a semitransparent LCARS panel floating around aren’t quite obvious to the uninitiated, the designers couldn’t resist implementing it anyway. For everyone who remains unconvinced of this bridge’s newness: its color palette consists of every tint of beige, giving the bridge that modern yet comfortable finish that is so typically “twenty-three-eighties.”

He doesn’t notice right away that he has the bridge crew’s rapt attention, because he finds himself transfixed by the tiny holographic wreckages slowly drifting among the stars that fill the front of the bridge—a grim reminder of a costly battle. “As you were,” he says to his crew once he realizes they’re awaiting orders.

“We’ve cleared the area, sir,” Lieutenant Junior Grade Ernest Baxter, the chief helmsman, says. “Commander Tony Q’s shuttle has docked with our ship. Shuttlebay 4. Captain Rinckes should be meeting up with us soon.”


“The subspace well has completely dissipated,” Baxter adds. “We are free to navigate.”

“All right, Lieutenant. Have Captain Rinckes dock in the same shuttlebay, and then signal the fleet to follow us to Starbase 9 at maximum warp.”

“Aye, sir,” Baxter says as he refocuses on his boomerang-shaped workstation.

Banishing worry from his expression for his crew’s sake, Captain Harriman steps into the aft turbolift. Once the doors close, he smoothens his already smooth uniform and lets out a deep sigh. “Deck 3, shuttlebay 4.”

* * *

One short turbolift ride later, Harriman enters the shuttlebay as the second Type 11 shuttlecraft alights on the landing platform. The closing bay doors shroud from view the Achilles’ graceful stern and the infinity of stars behind it. As everything on this ship, the shuttlebay is ultramodern and equipped with all the latest bells and whistles. No holographic interfaces floating around here, though.

The captain walks over to the rear of the shuttles. Which shuttle will open its entrance hatch first is uncertain, so Captain Harriman strategically positions himself somewhere in between. After half a minute, the left shuttle opens its hatch—a big ramp that functions as aft bulkhead when unopened. As it lowers, it gradually reveals the aft compartment. Once it hits the deck with a soft thump, two figures emerge: Commander Tony Q and Ensign Emily Murphy. Tony Q leans on the ensign’s shoulder while she helps him descend the ramp.

At most 5’8” tall, the 18-year-old commander is shorter than expected. Is this the man who repeatedly saved the Federation with his borrowed powers, earning him the rank of commander at a ridiculously young age? His condition appears to have worsened since the last time Captain Harriman spoke with him, even though that was less than half an hour ago. Tony Q’s pale face contrasts with his dark hair, and that phaser wound above his right hip clearly requires medical care. Ensign Murphy—pretty, brown-haired, probably not much older than the commander—supports him, keeps his knees from buckling. Captain Harriman, notably taller than the two of them, looks at the legendary Tony Q, someone he has heard many stories about, and sees nothing but an injured, tired kid.

Tony Q tries to straighten his shoulders while he’s still leaning heavily on Ensign Murphy. “Commander Tony Q and Ensign Emily Murphy requesting permission to come aboard.”

“Permission granted.”

“Good, I was afraid we’d come all this way for nothing,” Tony Q says in a halfhearted attempt at humor.

Captain Harriman coughs politely before saying, “We’re currently headed for Starbase 9.”


Another moment of silence follows. Once again, Captain Harriman is the one to break it. “I have scheduled an interview with you both six hours from now. Commander, I think it would be best if you let our physicians take care of your injuries first.”

Tony Q gives a sad nod.

Captain Harriman presses his combadge. “This is Captain Harriman to transporter room 2. Beam Commander Tony Q directly to sickbay.” A metallic “aye sir” acknowledges his instruction. About three seconds later, Tony Q dissolves into countless blue particles.

Now that Tony Q is off her shoulder, Ensign Murphy’s exhaustion is beginning to show. Before she can react accordingly, dizziness gets the better of her and Captain Harriman has to be quick to catch her. He’s not exactly quick enough to prevent her from collapsing, but at least his reaction softened her landing. He crouches down with his arms around her.

“I’m sorry,” Ensign Murphy says, blushing. As a capable and fit security officer, she must be unaccustomed to losing her poise like this, especially in the company of a starship captain.

“It’s okay. You’ve been through a lot,” Captain Harriman says with his gentlest voice while he hopes no one will stumble upon them. It might take some explaining as to why he’s embracing a beautiful ensign on the shuttlebay floor.

“Is Tony going to be all right?” Ensign Murphy asks. “I’m no medical officer, but I could see he was weakening.”

The captain sees she is beyond tired and even a little upset, so he keeps using his gentlest voice. “Our doctor will take good care of Commander Tony Q. Well, I suppose he’s not much of a Q anymore.”

“He’s human. You saw him. No immortality. No godlike powers. Just an ordinary man.” She draws in a sharp breath. “I feel sorry for him. I think he underestimates the effect it will have on him.”

He gives her a reassuring pat on the back and helps her stand up. “I suggest you take some rest before the interview.” Benching his gentlest voice for now, he reverts to his standard authoritative voice. “If you walk to the exit, one of my officers will take you to your guest quarters.”

“Yes, sir.” The captain’s kindness has given Ensign Murphy new strength.

Captain Harriman tries to put the friendliest smile on his slim face. “Dismissed, Ensign.”

“Thanks, Captain.”

Once the ensign has left, concern pushes aside Harriman’s friendly smile. He directs his attention to the other shuttle, which carries the third and final survivor of the Station A-12 ordeal. A minute passes without a hint of activity from the motionless shuttlecraft. Harriman decides against contacting the shuttle’s occupant to ask what’s keeping him, opting for a patient attitude instead, and seats himself cross-legged on the floor near the shuttle.

His mind wanders during this rare moment of downtime and tries piecing together answers from what little information it possesses. The takeover of Station A-12 was a blatant act of war, and a diplomatic solution is unlikely. The Federation prides itself on its quest for peace among all species, yet finds itself preparing for another war, and will call upon Harriman’s combat experience. He will lend his expertise and fight to the last man, if required, to defend its citizens, homeworlds, and ideals, but how he wishes he could point the Achilles to the nearest star and explore the quiet seas of deep space.

With a hiss and a metallic thump, the shuttle hatch begins to open, ridding Harriman from his somber musings. He rises to his feet.

Down the ramp staggers Captain Stephan Rinckes, his attire as battle-worn as the man himself. His uniform jacket is missing; his torn, command department red shirt is showing instead. Cuts and bruises cover the visible parts of his skin, and his knuckles are swollen. His narrow eyes, partly covered by loose, dark-blond strands of hair, are cold and bloodshot.

Whatever happened on that station, it wasn’t pretty.

Avoiding direct eye contact, Rinckes walks up to Harriman and greets him with an absentminded nod in lieu of a bloody handshake.

Captain Harriman suppresses the urge to steady his colleague and lets him stand on his own. Even in his injured state, Captain Rinckes has the brawn to fend for himself, and showing pity will probably not be appreciated. “Captain Rinckes, welcome to the Achilles. My name is Keith Harriman.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of you,” Captain Rinckes says calmly. Gaze still lowered, he conjures an unexpected smile, which doesn’t match his worn appearance at all. “That’s an impressive ship you’ve got.”

“Thank you, Captain. Maybe she’s not as formidable as the Sundance, but—” Harriman realizes halfway that if the Sundance were still intact, the haggard Captain Rinckes wouldn’t have arrived in a shuttlecraft.

“The Sundance was a good ship,” Rinckes says before Harriman can apologize. Rinckes’ insincere smile disappears as his demeanor hardens, and his voice adjusts to match. “She had a fine crew.” He rubs a fist against his tattered shirt. “A damn fine crew.”

Then, for the first time since his arrival, Rinckes fixes his eyes on Harriman. Those eyes… Unspeakable fear, unbridled anger, overwhelming sorrow—all wrapped up in a thousand-yard stare that catches Harriman completely off guard, unsettles him to the core. It’s as if he’s standing face to face with a man deprived of soul. Hypnotized by Rinckes’ icy stare, he looks into those empty eyes, unable to avert his gaze.

Harriman gasps for air before he’s able to say, “My God! What happened to you?”

Rinckes doesn’t respond. His mouth forms a thin line on his expressionless face.

“Can you tell me what happened, Captain?” Harriman tries again.

After a few uneasy seconds, Rinckes formulates a reply. “Permission to retreat to my guest quarters,” he says without changing his tone of voice or his blank expression.

Questions about Station A-12 will have to wait. This is not the steadfast Captain Rinckes he has heard of; this shell of a man has been shaken by whatever terrible events befell him and needs to recover. With forced positivity, Harriman says, “One of my lieutenants is waiting by the exit. He will escort you to your quarters. Don’t forget to visit sickbay for a checkup.”

Rinckes begins walking to the exit.

“Report to my office in five hours for an interview,” Harriman calls out after him. “I need to know exactly what happened before I report to Admiral Paris.”

Rinckes halts, turns around, and says wearily, “I’ll talk.”

Once the troubled captain has disappeared around a corner, Harriman unnecessarily smoothens his uniform once again and mutters, “What a day.”
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Fallen Heroes Part II Chapter Ib

Post by Alexbright99 »

Fallen Heroes Part II - Chapter Ib

After multiple hours of investigating, researching, and casting worried glances at PADDs, Captain Harriman considers himself fully prepared for the interviews with the Station A-12 survivors, hoping to glean vital information from their stories.

Right on schedule, Captain Rinckes enters his office. No longer scratched and bruised, he’s a different man than the one Harriman met in the shuttlebay five hours ago. He’s wearing a new, intact uniform, his hair is neatly groomed back, and—to Harriman’s relief—his eyes aren’t empty chasms of doom anymore.

Harriman invites his colleague to sit down at the other side of his desk and tries to come up with a considerate first question. “Are you feeling any better?”

“Perhaps we should skip to the questions that matter,” Captain Rinckes says, “We’re not here for a counseling session.”

A short, tense silence.

“As you wish.” Harriman drops his friendliness façade and picks up one of the PADDs that cover his desk. “All right, let’s take this from the top. Computer, commence recording.”

Captain Rinckes sits back and listens as Harriman summarizes yesterday’s events.

“The Sundance, Wolf, Satellite, and Kennedy were ordered to rendezvous with Altonoid diplomats at Station A-12. The commanding and first officers of the aforementioned ships, except for the Satellite, boarded that station to commence negotiations with the Altonoid delegates, preceded by a modest buffet… What happened then?”

“The Altonoids took over the station.”

“And held our flag officers hostage, yes. But why were you and your first officer Melanie Simons not among these hostages?”

Rinckes hesitates before answering. “A minute or so before the takeover, I asked her to step out of the conference room with me.”


“To tell her—” Rinckes swallows his words and starts over. “For a brief discussion of progress.”

Harriman stays silent, hoping this will encourage Rinckes to keep talking.

“The station went to red alert,” Rinckes continues in a monotonous voice. “We found a way to contact the lead ship, the USS Wolf. We were to search for the shield array that prevented beaming out hostages, while our starships battled Altonoid vessels and beamed down troops to provide assistance. It didn’t work out. Once our defeat became certain, I knew I’d be valuable to Starfleet as a witness. I fought my way through Altonoid soldiers to reach the shuttlebay, procured a shuttle, and left. Last I saw was the Wolf crashing into the station without entirely destroying it. You can read it all in my report.”

“What about Commander Simons?” Harriman asks.

This question catches Captain Rinckes unawares. He answers nonetheless. “She wanted to split up, thereby increasing our chances of success.”

Intrigued, Harriman locks eyes with Rinckes while asking, “Do you know what happened to her? Did you see her again after you separated?”

“No,” Captain Rinckes replies immediately with an unreadable expression.

After a few seconds’ pause, Harriman asks, “Were there any other survivors of the Station A-12 incident?”

“That Tony Q kid and Ensign Murphy are the only ones I know of.”

“Other than them. Perhaps—”

“Look…” Rinckes clenches his jaw and leans over to him. “All I know is that I lost some damn good people back there. I lost the Sundance, my ship.” In an effort to regain his composure, he sits back and crosses his arms before saying, “The Satellite, Wolf, and Kennedy perished as well. The crew of Station A-12? I don’t know what happened to them, but I doubt any of them are still alive. Altonoids have a habit of slaughtering prisoners. Every single officer or civilian on board Station A-12 who managed to survive the initial takeover must be dead by now.”

Harriman adds in sad agreement, “The estimated death toll of the takeover is 1,629. This number will probably not change; it’s the sum of all involved minus three.”

“I lost 173 crewmembers. That’s not much compared to the total death toll. And it’s almost nothing compared to your space battle, which must have cost thousands of lives. I understand it is your duty to get to the bottom of what happened at Station A-12, but you can ask Tony Q and he’ll give you all the answers you need.” Rinckes moves in closer again. “I will have to inform the families of one hundred and seventy-three Starfleet officers that they’ve lost their sons, daughters, parents, spouses, their loved ones… under my command. That is my duty. So if you’ll excuse me.”

Captain Rinckes stands up and leaves the bemused Captain Harriman behind.

* * *

Starbase 9 – June 27, 2380 – Stardate 57486.8
“The following interview with Commander Tony ‘Q’ Blue and Ensign Emily C. Murphy provides a firsthand depiction of the Station A-12 incident,” Captain Keith Harriman’s recorded voice says to the admirals in Starbase 9’s main office.

Four admirals sit at the center table; Fleet Admiral Owen Paris lingers by the office’s viewscreen, on which Commander Tony Q and Ensign Murphy move into view after entering Captain Harriman’s office. Tony Q’s appearance raises a few eyebrows. His skin is pale and he treads carefully, like a wounded man—something that should not be possible. A small text at the bottom of the screen reveals this footage was recorded on board the Achilles less than an hour ago.

The two young officers sit down opposite Captain Harriman, who seats out of the camera’s view, and resemble two children summoned to the principal’s office.

“I assume our medical staff took good care of you, Commander?” Captain Harriman asks.

“They did their best.” Though Tony Q has had a few hours to recuperate, he sounds tired.

“How did—”

“How did I wind up here?” Tony Q completes the sentence for him.

It’s a shame Harriman can’t be seen in the recording; his expression must’ve been priceless. What is visible is Tony Q pondering his own question. After failing to come up with an adequate recap, he looks at the ensign sitting next to him. “You first.”

Ensign Murphy hesitates briefly before launching into a well-prepared monologue. “I am Ensign Emily C. Murphy. I graduated last year, and becoming a junior security officer on board the USS Kennedy was my first starship assignment.” Thrilled to have an official conversation with a Starfleet captain, she inadvertently comes across as a tad too enthusiastic given the subject matter. “I was in one of the many security squads that beamed to Station A-12 to try and recapture it. Commander Tony Q had also joined our squad.”

“I’ll explain later,” Tony Q adds.

“We were searching for a way to shut off the conference room’s shield when Altonoids ambushed our team. The crate I used for cover blew up, incapacitating me. Commander Tony Q, despite being injured, singlehandedly pulled the destroyed crate off me, and we left for the shuttlebay.”

“Why escape the station?” Captain Harriman asks. “What about your primary objective to retake the station at all costs?” Though these questions may appear to be accusations, Harriman asks them tactfully.

Despite Harriman’s tact, Ensign Murphy’s enthusiasm fades. “We did fight back,” she replies, “while we were headed for the shuttlebay. Tony… Commander Tony Q needed medical treatment.”

“Wasn’t it more important to do whatever you could to secure the station?”

“The battle was lost, sir,” Murphy says, fierceness seeping into her voice. “There was no point in denying it. If Tony, I mean, Commander Tony Q hadn’t pulled me out from under that crate, I wouldn’t have been able to fight anyway and you wouldn’t be speaking with me now. He saved my life.”

“And she saved mine,” Tony Q says, drawing back the captain’s attention. “I would never have made it out of that cursed station alive if it wasn’t for her.”

That remark serves as Harriman’s cue to ask questions he’s been itching to ask for over six hours. “Commander,” he begins in a solemn tone of voice. “You’re quite famous in Starfleet for being a member of the Q Continuum. Frankly, you’ve saved our hides more often than many a respected officer before you gave up your last shreds of humanity to become a full Q and live amongst your new peers.”

“That sums it up rather beautifully,” Tony Q says with sufficient sarcasm.

“Under normal circumstances, a Q cannot be harmed by humanoid life because a Q has complete control over space, matter, and time.”


“And now you’re sitting here, having suffered severe injuries, claiming that without Ensign Murphy’s help you wouldn’t have made it off Station A-12 alive. How can this be?”

Tony Q’s posture droops as he struggles to say, “I am human.”

“Does that mean—?”

“They kicked me out, yes,” Tony Q replies, “for helping you.”


“No, not just you. Humanity! The Federation!” He lets out a deep sigh. “My fellow Q demanded I stop dwelling in the past. They’d allowed me to use Q powers to help the Federation because they considered it appropriate training for a human ascending to Q-ness. The idea that I, as a full member, would stick to meddling in human affairs infuriated them. To them, I was a valedictorian who kept insisting on playing with blocks upon graduating.” He sets his jaw. “But I saw it… from outside the confines of the space-time continuum. I saw the Federation was losing this battle, this upcoming war.”

“So there will be war.”

“You don’t have to be omniscient to see this war coming,” Tony Q says. “I mean, this was the final straw. Diplomacy has failed. Sure, we will try to resolve things peacefully, even after what happened yesterday, but do you honestly believe this war can be avoided?”

“No,” Captain Harriman admits.

Tony Q pauses for a moment of reflection and then smiles as if thinking about an old love. “You cannot understand what it’s like to be a Q, to have the entire universe at your fingertips, to be free in every sense of the word. I have seen places and dimensions beyond imagination and beauty… beyond anything a human being could ever comprehend, let alone experience. And it was endless, limitless.” The fire in his eyes dissipates. “But… I wanted to make a difference again. Is that a crime? Is that such a crime that it warrants taking everything I had?”

These are questions neither Captain Harriman nor Ensign Murphy can answer.

“So I grabbed a phaser rifle and set foot on that bloody station. Q tried to talk me out of it.”

“That is the Q, who visited the Enterprise on several occasions?”

“Yes, him. I couldn’t make him understand. He left in anger, and then I lost my powers as well as my immortality… And now I—”

The recording stops abruptly and is replaced by a young ensign who is as anxious as any ensign would be when addressing a room full of admirals. “I’m sorry to interrupt you,” he says. “The fleet has arrived.” Five high-ranking stares prompt the young officer to clarify matters in an almost apologetic tone. “You requested to be informed when the USS Achilles and the other surviving ships arrived.”

“Make sure the Achilles docks first,” Admiral Paris says. “Have Captain Harriman and Captain Rinckes meet us in the conference room on the double.”

“Yes, sir.” The Federation logo replaces the nervous ensign’s visage, sparing him the sight of five admirals hurrying out of their office.
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Fallen Heroes Part II Chapter Ic

Post by Alexbright99 »

Fallen Heroes Part II - Chapter Ic

The Achilles, Tripoli, Cavin, Praxis, Taylor, Mystic, Perseverance, Adams, Vertigo, Sao Paulo, and Chariot have arrived at Starbase 9. That makes eleven out of the forty-six ships involved in two separate battles at Nedron and Station A-12.

Spectators of the fleet’s approach have to admit this was another costly battle for the Federation. Sadly enough, a loss of this magnitude isn’t new for any of them—it pales in comparison with the Dominion War’s death count—but everyone realizes the thirty-five ships lost yesterday will certainly not be the last. To make matters worse, most people currently stationed on Starbase 9 have at least one person in their circle of friends and family who served on the ill-fated starships and who will never return home. People will gather by the casualty lists throughout the starbase, desperately hoping their loved ones are somehow still alive—a hope shattered by one line of text in a list filled with names. The only thing that will stave off their need to mourn will be fear of what’s to come now the Altonoids have instigated war in their backyard.

Most of the surviving vessels, representing various ship classes, look battered and in need of repair. With its sleek, angular design, the Achilles is clearly the newest among them. Somehow, at first glance, it appears to be in pristine condition, even though she has sustained minor battle damage. Being the lead ship, she is first to pass through the giant space doors and enter Starbase 9’s internal docking area, which is capacious beyond measure and full of life. Work bees, shuttlecraft in all types and sizes, men and women in space suits—they’re all bustling about.

The Achilles slowly maneuvers its way through this highly organized mess and halts near the heart of the starbase. This heart alone contains numerous offices and crew quarters, reception and waiting rooms, offering a splendid view of the docking area. Truly a remarkable piece of engineering, this starbase of over 13 kilometers in height (2,765 decks, if you’re counting) and nearly 9 kilometers in diameter.

* * *

It makes you feel incredibly tiny and insignificant when you walk the passenger gate from a docked starship to the heart of the starbase. The gate is approximately 90 meters long and offers a marvelous view of the docking area by virtue of its transparent sides and roof.

Dozens of officers are currently exiting the Achilles via the gate; Commander Tony Q is one of them. Though it’s not as prominent as before receiving medical care, Tony Q still has a limp in his walk. Carefully, he proceeds toward the entrance of one of the uncountable passenger halls. He’s quite famous in Starfleet, but at the moment he wishes he was any ordinary guy. Everyone is throwing him glances, immediately looking away whenever his eyes meet theirs. It’s as if they’ve arranged a collective effort in inducing feelings of guilt and hopelessness. He can’t wait to get off this starbase.

* * *

Captain Keith Harriman and Captain Stephan Rinckes materialize in two blue transporter beams to be greeted by five admirals, who summon them to sit down at the imposing table in the center of the station’s main conference room. Equipped to hold up to several hundred attendants, the conference room’s current relative emptiness adds a twinge of reverb to everything that is said.

Once everyone has settled in, Fleet Admiral Owen Paris opens the meeting. “Welcome, gentlemen. By now we have an adequate picture of what happened at Station A-12 and the battle of Nedron. We’ve gathered to inform you about our next course of action. It is safe to say we have a very serious situation on our hands.”

Everyone listens as quietly as possible.

“This starbase is practically next in line for another Altonoid attack,” Admiral Paris continues. “As we speak, our best diplomats are attempting to reopen negotiations with the Alto Empire. You don’t have to be a pessimist to believe their efforts will fail. Starbase 9 will be put on yellow alert indefinitely. Every Federation planet, ship, colony, or station will have to be fully prepared for all-out war. Men, we should be ready.”

After such a speech, nobody dares to say anything.

Nobody except Captain Harriman. “There is something I must tell you.” This gets him plenty of attention. “There is a specific reason why part of our fleet survived the battle of Nedron.” This gets him even more attention.

“Explain, Keith,” Admiral Paris says in a way that prompts Harriman to feel four feet tall.

“We were losing the battle. The Altonoids had destroyed the majority of our fleet. There was no possible way for us to survive… But we did.”

“What happened? Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

Since he has the floor anyway, Harriman stands up to walk around freely while addressing the admirals and Captain Rinckes. “It’s a long story. You can read it all in my updated report.” Of course, this doesn’t really please the crowd, so he continues. “Let’s just say the seventy Altonoid ships were easily defeated, but not by us.”

This raises the few eyebrows that weren’t already raised.

“I haven’t told you this before because we didn’t know who helped us.”

“But you know now?” the oldest admiral in the room asks.

“Yes, Admiral Winkler. We’ve analyzed the data gathered in the Nedron system. My first officer handed me our science team’s conclusion minutes ago.” Captain Harriman halts near Admiral Paris. “Do you remember the battle of Griddle II?”

“Pretty much an identical situation,” Admiral Paris acknowledges. “Another dispute between the Federation and the Altonoids.”

Admiral Winkler chimes in again. “The late Admiral Bywaard commanded the fleet involved in that battle. Despite his best efforts, we lost a lot of ships to the Altonoids that day.”

“Yes,” Harriman says, “until we received unexpected help from a third party that destroyed two Altonoid vessels with great ease. Intimidated as they were, the Altonoids withdrew.”

“I believe the Sundance fought in that battle and barely survived,” Admiral Winkler says. This comment was half-directed at Captain Rinckes but he doesn’t respond.

Harriman lifts his head and says with a barely contained grin, “The mysterious weapon’s subspace signature we found at Nedron is identical to the one encountered at Griddle II.”

Silence fills the room as the news sinks in.

“That third party we’re talking about…” another admiral says cautiously. “Are we talking about the S’Prenn?”

The lean captain hesitates before answering, “Yes.” He can hardly believe it himself, even when confirming it to the brass, but his science team’s evidence is irrefutable. “They helped us out again. I don’t know why or if they will keep helping us.”

“They could be a pivotal ally,” Admiral Winkler notes.

“All we know is that they pulled us out of the fire and defeated seventy warships in the process,” Harriman says while returning to his seat.

Admiral Paris has been quietly staring at the center of the table, reflecting on this new information. When he speaks up again, all go quiet and listen attentively. “We must try to contact the S’Prenn. We have to know whether they’ll support us if we go to war with the Altonoids.”

Everyone agrees.

“There is much work to be done,” Admiral Paris continues.

Everyone agrees.

“The three Station A-12 survivors will be given shore leave for at least a month, to give them the chance to recover.”

Captain Rinckes disagrees. “Sir,” he says—the first word he has spoken since his arrival. “I can’t just sit around and do nothing while the Federation is in dire straits.”

“Considering the circumstances,” Admiral Paris says, walking a fine line between friendliness and authority, “it would be best for you to blow off some steam. Don’t worry. We’re not putting you into mothballs.”

“I appreciate the gesture,” Captain Rinckes says without even trying to sound sincere, “but I urge you to reconsider. Starfleet needs all the good captains they have. Can you afford to let me sit idly by while the Alpha and Beta Quadrant are plummeted into chaos and, let’s face it, war?”

“You’ve got a point, Captain,” Admiral Paris says. Then, he notices Harriman’s mouth opening and closing several times in a row. “Keith?”

Harriman exhales sharply before speaking out his concerns. “What the survivors of Station A-12 have been through is… quite something.”

“And how would you know that?” Captain Rinckes asks. “You were a little late to the party, Keith.”

Harriman doesn’t rise to the bait and uses his gentlest voice again. “All I’m saying is that the emotional stress you endured might have a substantial effect on you and your ability to command, at least in the short run.”

Rinckes is unmoved by his colleague’s argument. “No, I’m fit for duty.” He addresses the admirals. “I’m forty-six years old; I’ve served Starfleet my entire adult life. Adversity comes with the job. I have endured the Cardassian War, the Dominion War, and multiple Borg invasions. I have seen much and lost many. I’ve already been through ‘quite something,’ let me assure you. I am a seasoned and skilled captain who is willing and able to serve, especially when Starfleet needs me most.”

Harriman isn’t convinced yet. He won’t soon forget the raw emptiness he saw in Rinckes’ eyes when he met him in the shuttlebay.

“You’ve never failed to impress us with your speeches, Stephan,” Admiral Paris says. “You’ll get your new command, don’t you worry about that.”

“Thank you,” Rinckes says.

For a moment, Captain Harriman considers challenging this decision. He chooses to stay silent, however. Once the admiral has made up his mind, he has made up his mind.

* * *

A young, brown-haired officer examines an information wall terminal near Starbase 9’s docking area. She sifts through the passenger manifests until she comes across Commander Tony “Q” Blue’s name. “There you are. The SS Hawkeye, boarding now,” Ensign Murphy says. She adds herself to the passenger list, picks up her baggage, and rushes toward the designated docking port.
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Fallen Heroes Part II Chapter Id

Post by Alexbright99 »

Commander Tony Q dawdles through a crowded passenger hold until a 24th century equivalent of a flight attendant spots him and guides him to the proper compartment. “Welcome to the Hawkeye, Commander Tony ‘Q’ Blue,” she says courteously. “You are free to pick a seat in the adjacent zone. I hope you’ve had a pleasant stay at Starbase 9.”

Tony gives her a short nod and enters the correct seating area. “Had a pleasant stay,” he mutters to himself. “I’ve been here for only… what, six hours? Four of which I spent with a counselor who seemed to have more problems than me.”

After evading yet another inquisitive stare, he settles for a window bench and deposits his fragile body on comfortable upholstery. The view is wonderful from here, and Tony watches the numerous work bees, shuttles, and starships continuing on with their respective businesses, as busy as it always is in such a vast docking area.

He feels a thump. Someone has seated next to him. Not in the mood to socialize, even if restricted to the usual pleasantries, he hopes that whoever it is will go away soon. She doesn’t.

“If this Earth is as beautiful and fun as everyone says it is,” she says, “I wouldn’t mind spending my R&R there.”

Tony turns to the familiar voice. “Emily?” he gasps.

“Tony?” Emily Murphy gasps. She exchanges the admittedly spot-on imitation for a big grin, awaiting his reaction.

“What took you so long?” he deadpans, and he looks out the window again.

In feigned anger, Emily crosses her arms and sits back. After a few seconds’ worth of silence, she gives it another go, “So you’re going back to Earth?”

Slightly annoyed, Tony spares her a glance. “Yes, that would be the point of sitting in a transport vessel headed for Earth.”

Another short silence.

“Are you headed for Earth too?” Tony asks while he cannot entirely understand why he’s continuing this little contest of asking the blinking obvious.

“Absolutely,” Emily says with an amused twinkle in her eyes. “What a coincidence. Of all the planets, we’re both headed for Earth.”

“Startling,” Tony says, fully intent on staring out the window again.

“Why? Why are you going to Earth?” Emily says to prevent that.

Tony sighs before answering. “Because I was born there. Because my father lives there. Because I have no better place to go spend my shore leave.”

“Does it still hurt?”

“What?” Tony says, realizing he’s not going to be enjoying the outside view much during the upcoming journey.

“Your wound. It’s more than just physical, isn’t it? Station A-12’s events must’ve hurt you in—”

“I’d rather not talk about that, okay?” He faces her directly. “I thank you, profusely, for helping me, for saving my life, but I need to come to terms with this whole predicament, with everything I’ve lost.”

“But you’ve also gained something there, Tony: a friend.”

“Yes. And for that I am grateful, rest assured,” Tony admits. “Can I look out the window now?”

“Be my guest,” Emily says with a smile.

The Hawkeye fires thrusters and maneuvers its way out of spacedock with steady precision. Thanks to the window’s reflection, Tony notices people watching him, ranging from furtive glances to outright gawking. “They’re all staring at me. My fly’s not open or anything?”

“You’re okay. Not all of them are staring at you. That guy over there seems more interested in me.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Tony remarks dryly. He rubs his temples and groans, “I wish I could be invisible.”

She will have none of that. “How many commanders aged eighteen are there in Starfleet? Really? You’re a celebrity!”

“I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a… victim of circumstances.”

Emily suddenly plucks two of the three rank pips off Tony’s collar.

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m demoting you, Ensign,” she replies playfully.


“An eighteen-year-old ensign attracts a lot less attention than an eighteen-year-old commander. You should change into civilian clothing as soon as you arrive on Earth.”

A lieutenant passes by and—as is becoming the norm—gives the fallen Q a look of budding recognition, soon destined to upgrade to an awkward stare. Then his gaze lowers to Tony’s rank insignia. The lieutenant blinks a couple of times, raises an eyebrow, and continues on his way.

“See! It works!” Emily says.

“That’s quite clever,” Tony says, actually meaning it. “You should get a promotion,” he adds, sarcasm kicking in again.

Emily places the two rank pips on her collar, right next to the lone pip indicating she’s an ensign. “Good enough?”

Tony chuckles softly. “I had a feeling you’d do that, Commander Murphy.” When he resumes admiring the view outside, the internal docking area has been replaced by a typical sight for faster-than-light space travel: white stripes of stardust streaking past the window.

* * *

Sol System, SS Hawkeye – July 1, 2380 – Stardate 57498.5
Earth is the most beautiful planet in the entire universe—for humans, that is. Vulcans think Vulcan is the “most aesthetically pleasing” planet, while Klingons think the mere sight of Qo’noS makes your heart pump like the heart of a wounded targ or whatever it is they say. But for humans, nothing beats seeing Earth from outer space, especially today. With the exception of sparse cloud cover above Brazil and Alaska, North and South America are bathing in sunlight.

Now the Hawkeye has entered orbit, Commander Tony Q gazes at the blue planet and realizes this remains an enthralling spectacle, no matter how often he’s seen it. Although Earth is still thousands of kilometers away, it’s as if all one has to do is roll down the window and reach out to touch it.

“I’ve been away too long,” Tony whispers to himself. He can’t help but smile a warm, heartfelt smile for the first time in… well, feels like ages. Tony bets there are plenty more of those smiles being directed at Earth at this very moment.

* * *

Earth retains its beauty when viewed from Earth Spacedock, which bears close resemblance to Starbase 9, except for one main difference: this station orbits Earth, whereas Starbase 9 hangs in space many light years away, in the middle of nowhere.

Having waited until most passengers left the area, Commander Tony Q and Ensign Emily Murphy roam an almost deserted passenger hall, which features a long line of windows showcasing Earth in all its glory. Even though they haven’t forgotten what their home planet looks like during the time it took to disembark the Hawkeye, they can’t resist darting the occasional glance at the giant blue marble.

They haven’t spoken much since a few days into the journey as they enjoyed each other’s company without the need for incessant conversation. It could be because he is so close to home, or maybe he just feels safe around Emily, but Tony finds himself saying, sarcastically of course, “I can’t wait to see my father’s face when I come limping in.”

“I’m sure he’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Emily says.

“Haven’t seen him in a while. Been too busy gallivanting around the universe. I…” It’s hard for him to admit this. “…forgot about him, though I don’t think he has forgotten me. And now he’ll find me on his doorstep in this condition.”

Emily spends a few seconds staring at the floor before saying, “Consider yourself lucky. I don’t have a father to return to. He’s been long dead. So is my mother.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Tony says, feeling like an insensitive jerk for complaining to an orphan about having a father.

Emily hasn’t taken offense. “They died thirteen years ago, at Wolf 359.”

“The Borg…” Tony shakes his head. “Nasty lot.”

“You’ve had a few run-ins with them.”

“Too many.”

“Your reputation is well-earned, you know that? Everyone remembers the last Borg invasion. You singlehandedly liberated a Borg cube, freed all its drones from the Collective, restored their individualities.”

“They pissed me off,” Tony says, simpering at his choice of words. “For years I believed they had killed my father. During the invasion of ’78 I found out they had assimilated him instead. I used my powers to free him and thousands of others. I… I thought he was dead, and when I found out he wasn’t… instead of rekindling our family bond, I ran off a year later and haven’t seen him since.”

“Don’t worry, Tony. He’ll be glad to see you. I just know.” She unleashes one of those smiles that could calm you even if you were the only redshirt in an away team.

They’ve reached the end of the passenger hall. “Shuttle to San Francisco is this way,” Tony says while halting short of the door marked “to shuttlebay 1.” Its panel indicates the next shuttle departs within five minutes.

“Shuttle to Lille is this way,” Emily says, pointing at the adjacent door, which leads to shuttlebay 2. She lets out an almost unnoticeable sigh. “I can’t wait to reunite with my aunt.” An uneasy silence follows.

“So I guess this is goodbye then.”

Emily nods.

Completely failing to find the right timing in order to keep the awkwardness to a minimum, Tony attempts to embrace Emily. Completely failing to find the right response to decrease the awkwardness a little, Emily simply puts her arms around Tony too. The end result, though quite funny to see, would constitute a genuine hug. Letting go of each other turns out to be considerably easier and they do just that.

“Thank you, for everything,” Tony says.

“You’re very welcome.”

The door to shuttlebay 1 opens for him. “Goodbye, Emily.” He walks through the door and into the corridor on the other side.

“Goodbye,” she says before the closing door separates them.

Tony limps through the corridor in search of this shuttlebay 1. Ten yards in, his pace slows to a crawl, every step increasingly harder to take than the one preceding it. Eventually, he comes to a stop and looks around for a moment, feeling a little stupid. “What am I doing?”

Abruptly, he turns around and heads back. As if attached to an invisible rubber band, he picks up speed the closer he gets to his destination, until the door opens and reveals Emily, who hasn’t moved an inch.

Tony halts in the doorway and the two officers stare at each other, not exactly knowing what to say. “That… umm… aunt of yours.”

“I never liked her anyway,” Emily replies as she moves past Tony and enters the corridor he’s in. Tony bursts out with laughter and follows her. “We have about three minutes left to make it to the shuttle,” she says. “We’d better hurry.”

“Wait a minute. I’m not that fast,” Tony says as he attempts to catch up with her. “You might need to carry me again!”

Emily is wise enough to ignore that remark.

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