Who Mourns for Apollo?
USS Galatea, Captain’s Log: Stardate 66947.0, Earth Year- 2389. Manuel Calavera commanding.
Despite my crew’s overdue need for R & R, Starfleet Command has ordered me to divert my ship from its course to New Risa. The reason given for our course change, was because of a recently discovered message from a ship lost during the Borg Invasion, eight years ago.
Apparently, the Corps of Engineers managed to recover a lost Distress-Signal message data packet, from the memory-core of one of the many subspace relay stations lost then.
Despite my crew’s need for that R & R, I know that they’re willing to set aside their downtime to aid our own, no matter how late we may be in arriving.
That starship, the Salvador, was a Galaxy class ship tasked with protecting the Rigel system from three Borg-Cube ships. Based upon the evidence that all of the habitable worlds of the Rigel system are still relatively intact, I am forced to conclude that the Salvador was successful in her mission.
The fact that they were able to generate a distress signal, tells me that there is hope that someone from the Salvador managed to survive that encounter.
We are currently enroute at warp seven to the last reported position of the Salvador: the rimward side of the Yokai Nebula.
Captain Manual Calavera, commander of the USS-Galatea NCC-80112 (Luna Class), sat back from his task of reviewing his ship’s log. Closing his eyes in consternation and taking a cleansing breath, he forced himself to lean back and relax into his office chair. Even the Captain needed to unwind every once in a while.
For a few blissful seconds he allowed himself to hope. Unbidden, a single word came to his mind.
‘Meche.’ He thought forlornly, thinking back to where and when he’d seen her last. ‘Where was it? Oh yes, Starbase 375, just after the official end of hostilities with the Dominion.’, he remembered painfully.
“My Friends and fellow survivors of the Dominion War.” He began. “I wish to propose a toast!” He’d said raising a tankard of synth-Ale.
“A toast to wish success for Lieutenant Commander Mercedes Colomar, in her new assignment as Chief Science officer aboard the Salvador!” he finished, as he looked around the coterie of his fellow officers, each of whom raised their own libation in turn.
Sighing inwardly, Captain Calavera had done his best to not let his inner angst be reflected in his words. Angst that had flared up, when he noticed just how much smaller the table everyone was sitting at, was.
‘Before the war, we overfilled this place.’ He thought sourly, glancing around the now mostly empty bar.
Everyone there drank silently, then gave Colomar a well-deserved congratulation. During which, she smiled demurely with a nod directed to Calavera. After which she began to raise her cup of tea in response.
‘Always with her tea.’ Manuel smiled. ‘I cannot recall how many cups of it, she personally brewed for me.’ It was just one aspect of her personality that he appreciated.
‘Do I dare?’ He pondered quietly. ‘Do I dare ask her?’
“Thank you all!” She replied. But, before I begin my new journey of discovery, I wish to raise my own glass in remembrance.” Her voice turned somber.
“A toast to our comrades who couldn’t be here. ‘Gone, but not forgotten’.” She spoke solemnly.
“Gone, but not forgotten.” Everyone echoed as they bowed their heads respectfully, around that too-small table. They all then sipped from their cups or tankards. Manuel noticed no few looks of pain and loss, crossing the faces of his friends.
After that, everyone began bantering back and forth for what seemed the longest, yet most enjoyable time. The kind of banter that only those who have faced death together, can appreciate.
After an appropriate interval of laughing appreciatively at a number of jokes and anecdotes, Manuel caught Mercedes’ eye. With a smile and a nod, they silently agreed to a rendezvous. Each tried to slip away unnoticed. But everyone else there noticed their absence, despite their efforts. All knew why the pair had left.
“Oh Mannie!” she breathed, as she cupped his face with her hands. “I wanted to thank you for that glowing recommendation you wrote.” Manuel smiled.
“It was the truth, Meche. You’ve demonstrated a professionalism and an overwhelming ability to achieve. You’ll make a fine officer in whichever field you choose.” She smiled radiantly at his honest assessment.
‘As beautiful as the day we first met!’ he thought in admiration, smiling.
“Mannie? Yesterday you said that there was something you wanted to say to me, in private?” She spoke, hopeful.
“Yes there is, Meche.” He replied aloud, while he reached up and held her head between his hands, mirroring her holding his.
‘I want you to marry me.’ He intoned silently.
“I want,” he began. Mercedes waited expectantly a second or two, then nodded eagerly, prodding him to continue.
“I want,” he began again. But then, in that moment he hesitated. He didn’t know why he did, but he did. He saw her smile grow.
‘Why is this so damned hard?’ he thought angrily. ‘Facing Jem-Hadar hand to hand wasn’t this difficult!’
“I want to wish all the best in your new assignment.” He said automatically, dropping his hands. Meche’s face fell in response, she looked so shocked and disappointed in that moment. But still she managed to keep a strained smile.
He had never regretted anything so greatly, as he did then in that moment. But fate chose to taunt him. For it was only a few months later when the Borg invaded.
Then the Salvador disappeared, along with the love of his life.
Attempting to divert himself from the useless feelings that Mercedes Colomar’s name evoked in him, he forced himself to open his eyes and turn his head to view the stars streaming outside his ready room’s window. He often used that view, to try and help him order his turbulent thoughts.
‘Countless kilometers of empty space unwitnessed in the blink of an eye.’ He quoted in his mind, fascinated, yet still revolted by just how insignificant one man was in the scale of the cosmos.
‘Or one woman. A woman like Mercedes Colomar, Chief Science Officer of the Salvador.’ He carried on thinking, futiley grasping at the fading memories of her.
Memories that continued to flow into that emptiness his soul had become, after her disappearance. ‘Oh Lord, please let her have survived.’ Manuel prayed silently. He knew that it was a selfish prayer, but he didn’t care anymore.
Impulsively, he leaned forward towards his desk and lightly tapped a panel button, which reactivated the computer.
“Captain’s Personal Log, supplemental.” He began speaking in his standard professional tone, “I have to confess a personal involvement in this mission to discover the fate of the Salvador. Lieutenant Commander Mercedes Colomar, Chief Science Officer of the Salvador and I were,…more than friends during the days of the Dominion War. But, not quite lovers.” Manuel paused momentarily and licked his lips slowly. He took a few seconds to get his thoughts in order, then he resumed.
“If not for a momentary hesitation on my part, Mercedes and I would have been married by now, and the last eight years would not have been so painful for me.” Manuel stopped for a second with a wry smile threatening to form on his face, remembering.
“Nearly each and every member of the Federation lost someone dear to them, in the Borg Invasion eight years ago. My own first officer, Commander Soval, lost his wife and children. Yet, he still continues to serve in Starfleet with dedication.” Manuel was silent for a few moments. Then he sighed before continuing.
“Since that time, many of the female officers and enlisted of my crew decided to resign from Starfleet in order to start a family. Every one of them gave the same reason: that they needed to ‘help out’ in replacing some of the estimated 63 billion lives lost. Even now, eight years later, my crew is uniformly male as a result.” He looked out of his ready room’s window once more, and came to a decision.
“Such a sense of duty as the females have displayed, is one that I find myself desiring more and more often of late, particularly now. It is with a hopeful heart, that I pray to the Lord that we can find at least one survivor from…” he spoke, then he stopped, frowning as he sensed his ship’s trajectory change suddenly.
Casting a quick glance out his ready room window, he noticed that the stretched stars outside his window, were compressing. This being an indication that his ship was dropping out of warp.
Manuel opened his mouth to demand an explanation from his bridge staff. But, before he could speak, a voice came over the intercom.
“Captain to the Bridge!” the anonymous voice ordered.
Manuel was through the doors and stepping into the bridge, before that voice’s last word finished echoing in his office.
“Report!” he half-shouted sternly, as he crisply marched towards the Captain’s chair at the center of the Bridge.
“Captain!” said Commander Soval, his Vulcan second in command spoke precisely then. “The reason I ordered that we go to sub-light, is that we are approaching a debris field. This debris field matches the coordinates given by the Salvador’s distress signal.” Manuel nodded tersely once, accepting his First Officer’s report.
Over the next hour, Captain Calavera’s stoic mien never wavered as report after report came in. All of the scans indicated the same thing, that the debris field consisted solely of Borg ship wreckage.
‘How much wreckage?’ he mused impatiently. ‘Enough for three cube-ships, or not?’
He chose to keep silent and let Commander Soval handle the details. Even though he felt that Soval was a fine officer, he was still relatively inexperienced in the role. Manuel felt that every one of his subordinates, needed every opportunity to gain valuable command experience.
‘Even now, nearly a decade later, Starfleet is still in desperate need of good captains.’ He thought. ‘Who I help to develop now, will have ramifications for years to come.’
“Captain!” Security Chief Graves spoke then, Manuel turned his cold stare to Graves and nodded at him to give his report.
“Preliminary scans are now complete. The debris field we’ve entered, is consistent with the mass of three Borg Cube-ships. Apparently the Salvador’s mission was a success!” Graves smiled grimly.
“I sense a but, coming.” Manuel replied. Graves nodded.
“I am afraid so sir. Wreckage distribution patterns suggest a Warp-Collision.” Manuel’s calm poise was broken then. Involuntarily he closed his eyes, as he felt his core go cold.
‘Meche.’ He lamented silently, feeling bereft.
A Warp-Collision, the last tool available to a desperate ship’s captain. In it, a ship is put onto an automatic heading to collide with its targeted enemy combatant, at the highest available warp speed. All of the safety protocols that prevent such from occurring, even accidentally, could only be overridden by one person. The ship’s captain.
‘An option utilized far too often during the Borg Invasion.’ Manuel grieved silently then, remembering the names he’d seen listed under the Starfleet Memorial Plaza Cenotaph. Far too many names that he could put faces to.
Opening his eyes, he noticed that his hands were clenched into fists. He then forced himself to set aside the grief that threatened to overcome his control. Overt emotional displays wouldn’t be good for discipline.
“The debris field. Are there any indications of Starfleet technology?” he breathed levelly.
“No sir, nothing.”
“Then continue scanning.” He replied, coldly.
“Aye-Aye Sir….Wait!” Grave’s eyes widened in response to a sudden flashing on his control panel. Manuel wanted to leap up and loom over him in an effort to find out, what it was. But, his self-control took over instead, as he forced himself to remain in his chair.
“Captain!” Graves grinned happily while talking over his shoulder. “Short range scans have picked up what appears to be a class-9 emergency message-buoy. It’s located at the far side of the debris field!” Graves spoke, then held his breath while adjusting some controls. “It appears to be intact!” he said hopefully, his voice wavering ever so slightly.
“Intercept and Retrieve.” Commander Soval spoke sharply then. Manuel and Graves shared a glance, and Manuel allowed a rare smile to bloom across his face.
Hours later, Manuel sat down at his ready room’s desk monitor.
“Captain.” Soval stated to him a few minutes earlier, while holding out a data crystal before him. “You will wish to view this at a private station.” Manuel was intrigued by the concern he thought he sensed in Soval’s voice just then.
“Is something the matter, Commander?” he asked.
“I am aware of your past history with a certain member of the Salvador’s crew. I would recommend that you view this first, on your own.” Soval replied cryptically, neither his face, nor his body language betraying a single flaw of emotion.
Manuel found his own constant emotional control slipping, as he felt a corner of his mouth curling up slightly.
‘That is uncommonly thoughtful of you, Soval.’
“Thank you, Commander. I will take your advice under consideration.” He replied, taking the proffered data crystal. Soval merely nodded once, and returned to his duties, seemingly without a care.
‘Either its good news or bad. One way or the other, I need to know. I need closure with Mercedes, or hope. Lord let it be hope!’ he thought to himself as he inserted the crystal, and then tapped the ‘play’ tab.
What he saw then on the display screen, almost made him gasp in shock before he hit the play tab once more, pausing it. He stared at the display screen for several seconds, as he began to hyperventilate in response to what he saw before him.
‘Meche! Thank God You’re Alive! Or, at least you were! Thank you Lord!’ Manuel thought gratefully, as he managed to calm his breathing.
‘Blood-stains in what’s left of your hair, a swollen left eye, first and second-degree burns all over your skin. Always a survivor!’ Manuel admired, as he hit the play again.
“I am Lieutenant-Commander Mercedes Colomar!” inhaled the injured woman on the screen in front of him, “Acting Captain of the Salvador!” she paused, swallowing. “Or, at least what’s left of it.” She said, closing her eyes, then she started gasping as if she were short of breath.
Looking up at the screen she continued her recital.
“It is Stardate 58862.5. We were successful in drawing away the attention of the Borg ship squadron that was attacking the Rigel system! We made damned sure that their resolve in pursuing us, didn’t waver in the least!” She smiled grimly then.
“It was Captain Brannigan’s plan to lure them into a trap hidden near the outskirts of the Yokai Nebula. On our way here, we were successful in destroying two of the three Cube-ships. Unfortunately, the remaining enemy ship outmaneuvered, and came close to destroying us.”
“We threw everything we had at the remaining Cube. Unfortunately, it was then that the Borg were able to compensate for the Transphasic torpedo design. Captain Brannigan then gave the order to separate the hulls of the ship. Commander T’mer was given command of the primary hull with orders to seek refuge.”
“As you have undoubtedly surmised by now, Brannigan maneuvered the battle hull into a Warp-Collision. He did this, in an effort to give the rest of us a fighting chance for survival.”
“Unfortunately, that victory of his came at a heavy cost. We weren’t far enough away from the explosion, to avoid the worst of the resulting shockwave.”
“As a result of that shockwave, nearly a third of the remaining crew and their families died, including Commander T’mer. The major causes of death, were from either extreme radiation poisoning, or from the concussive injuries that resulted from the failure of the ship’s inertial dampeners.”
“I, as the only remaining line officer left alive, took command as is my right, and my responsibility.” She spoke proudly, but with sad eyes.
She paused to catch her breath once more. She started wiping the side of her face with a heavily burned hand, winced and then stopped.
“Currently, we are left in a dire situation, as we are at least one point five light years from the nearest potentially inhabitable system. Environmental control is hanging by a thread, as we have suffered multiple hull breaches.”
“My number one priority now, is the survival of what remains of my crew. I had a distress signal transmitted while our sub-space radio was still operational. I hope someone heard it.” She smiled humorlessly then.
“Assuming there is anyone non-Borg now, left to hear us.” She spoke quietly, looking down.
“Scans have indicated that the nearest system, has an M-class planet. I have commanded what’s left of my crew, to lay in a course for that planet at full-impulse.” She rallied herself.
“Yes, I know what you’re thinking.” She stated harshly, her teeth gritted. “Prolonged full-impulse carries two dangers: The effects of Time-Dilation, and the hazards of Cerenkov radiation; both due to relativistic velocities.” She swallowed fearfully.
“But, desperate times call for desperate measures. It will take us approximately two years travel time to arrive there, but due to time dilation, we should experience only a fraction of that. I’ve ordered medical to inoculate everyone with our remaining stock of Hyronalin, to counter the radiation poisoning we’ll be exposed to along the way.”
“YES! I know it’s a long shot, but it’s the only option we’ve got left. Hopefully, those of us who are still alive at journey’s end, will get to see this strange new world.” Mercedes smiled hesitantly then with her tears freely falling from her eyes. Manuel knew those tears. He knew that she was afraid, deathly afraid.
“Wish us Luck!” she breathed shakily, barely holding onto her emotions.
The message ended then, with the Federation Seal displayed in the center of the screen. It was then, that Manuel noticed that his tears were involuntarily copying Mercedes’.
After he had composed himself, he looked out his room’s window and noticed that the ship was moving to warp. He knew that he hadn’t commanded it.
“Captain to Commander Soval.” He spoke aloud, the computer patched him in automatically.
“Captain.” His commander reported. “Travel time will be six hours, at Warp Seven.” Captain Manuel seemed about to say something about Soval’s ‘jumping the gun’, but he thought better about it. Instead, he spoke three words.
“Thank you. Out.” He replied in a whisper. The connection ceased.
Captain’s Log: Stardate 66947.2 Location- The Salvador’s targeted refuge system.
We are currently in polar orbit of the M-class world’s one tidally-locked moon. The reason for our being here, as opposed to the world itself, is twofold.
The first, is that we have discovered what’s left of the Salvador’s primary hull on the moon’s far side. It is powered down, and fully cold. I am more than surprised that the ship managed to make it here reasonably intact, considering its condition.
Preliminary scans indicate that there are no bodies contained within its hull. Currently, I have an away team combing through it, looking for any messages that acting captain Colomar may have left behind.
Beyond the presence of the Salvador on the planet’s moon, we have not discovered any evidence that the Salvador’s crew is still alive. I am going to make the assumption that the crew has chosen to relocate themselves onto the planet. I have ordered a pair of our stealth-runabouts to go in standard orbit, and search for them.
The second reason for our Polar Moon Orbit, is that the world itself appears to be an analog of Earth. It is similar in continental arrangement to Magna Roma, the Earth-analog located in the 892-star system. But, it has a number of notable differences. Map included with file.
But unlike Magna Roma’s one sole sentient race, this world appears to be inhabited by a number of sentient races. All of whom appear to be pre-industrial in their technological development. Thus, the Prime Directive takes precedent in the Salvador’s crew rescue.
Therefore, I will brook no interference with this planet’s development. I am assuming that Commander Colomar has taken suitable precautions in that regard as well. Heaven help her, if she hasn’t.
Captain’s Log: Stardate 66947.4
It’s been two days since our arrival to this system, and I find myself concerned with a number of disturbing anomalies.
Captain Colomar and her surviving crew members, made a number of regular reports into their ships computer, ever since their arrival five and a half years ago. That, is of a lesser concern to me than what happened two years ago, when Captain Colomar chose to return to her ship, and erased most of those logs. What her motivation was, is beyond me.
Luckily, she didn’t erase them in their entirety! She chose instead to edit them of vital details of what, and who, they encountered down there upon the planet’s surface! But what she left, is baffling! I will leave the job of speculation of what and why she left, to the experts at headquarters!
The original world scans taken by the crew of the Salvador, and the more thorough follow-ups by my own crew, have come to an inevitable conclusion: There are not two, or three, but dozens if not hundreds of sentient races inhabiting this world!
Bear with me please, because this gets stranger. Unfortunately, the majority of this world is in thrall to a heavily Theocratic and Xenophobic, governmental organization known as, “The Order”. All of this world’s countries appear to be heavily influenced by a number of super-human entities, locally referred to as “Gods”.
My science officer has theorized that these entities appear to be similar in nature, to the one that Captain Kirk reportedly encountered a century ago, on Stardate 3468.1 in the Beta-Geminorum system.
The two most notable of the entities here, are the “Chief God’ and the “Great Maou’. Apparently, these two entities have been engaged in a sporadic war of attrition against each other, for several centuries. The details of which, are confusing.
The followers of the Chief God, or “The Order” as they prefer to be known, have claimed that they are fighting against the Great Maou, to prevent the genocide of their kind. Yet, they are the ones most inclined to shed blood.
Whereas the followers of the Great Maou, are loath to shed blood at all. Instead, they prefer to capture their enemies alive.
According to the few details that Captain Colomar left, her scans have indicated that every corner of this world is inhabited by one sentient or another. This includes the extreme environments, such as the polar and polar-like environments that Andorians prefer. Additionally, there are a number of sentient species inhabiting the oceans, in a manner similar to the Argosians.
Our scans thus far, back up her findings. Because of the lack of uninhabited territory, she apparently chose to relocate her crew, to a resource poor country named Polove. She cited its low population as her primary justification. ‘Easier to blend in.’ she said. It is a choice, that I myself probably would’ve made.
Unfortunately, what started out as a rescue operation, may have changed into a clean-up instead. As I stated in my previous log, this world falls under the auspices of the Prime Directive.
This is because there are indications of an unusual technology in use. One that is at variance with a preindustrial level of development. I state this, because we have encountered an anomaly in the surface readings of the country of Polove taken five years ago, and today.
Back then, that country consisted mostly of a desert environment. Today, it is showing significant signs of improvement in its bio-ecology. There are now a surprising number of subtropical forests dotting the land that weren’t there five years ago, along with a vast increase in arable land!
This rate of improvement in such a short time, is unprecedented! It is far and away beyond any Terraforming technology the Federation has managed to develop or replicate.
The fact that Colomar chose to relocate her crew to that country prior to its near miraculous change, is not lost upon me. It may very well be acquired Borg technology that is effecting these improvements. But, since I cannot discount the possibility of such, I am contemplating sending down an away team to inspect things up close and personal.
Or it could be something else. Something that could be put to good use in the Federation. We are still ‘licking our wounds’ from that Invasion, after all.
“Captain.” Commander Soval said, standing at stiff attention in front of his Captain’s desk. Manuel’s own attention, which was focused upon the screen in front of him, was diverted momentarily to him.
“Report!” he nodded, acknowledging him. Soval relaxed first, then obeyed.
“We have finished scanning the world, and compared our readings with the Salvador’s.”
“The conclusion is,… curious,” Soval hesitated uncharacteristically. “there has been a notable increase in cloud cover at several locations, on several continents.”
“Why would that be curious?”
“The increase in cloud cover, has not negatively impacted those regions plant life. In fact, the plant-life appears to have increased dramatically. All this, despite the ambient light being reduced to near night-time levels.”
“That is odd. How often do the clouds move or break cover?”
“They do not.”
“What?! That’s impossible!”
“I agree Captain, it is. Never the less, no changes have been observed in that cloud phenomena.”
“Any idea what is affecting these non-changes?”
“Possibly, I have discovered a fluxating-energy pattern contained within them. That energy pattern is one, that I’ve never encountered before.”
“Possible, but highly unlikely. In fact, it appears to be more organic or telepathic in nature. But, there are significant differences from such. I will need more time to study those differences.”
“It almost sounds as if you’re requesting the opportunity to transport down there.”
“Normally I would Captain. However, in this instance I would advise against that course of action. The reason being, those energy patterns have already interfered with the transporters. I have assigned an Engineer to work on compensating for that interference.”
Manuel was about to ask Soval something else, but was interrupted.
“Security to the Captain!” came Graves voice over the intercom.
“Go ahead, Graves.” Manuel replied.
“Scans have picked up what we believe to be a Federation-long range communications unit. It appears to be near the location that Captain Colomar reported as being her new home.”
“Have you attempted a hail?” Soval asked then.
“Not yet sir, no! I wanted to get clearance first.”
“A wise choice lieutenant.” Soval replied, looking at Manuel with a raised eyebrow in question. Manuel nodded. “You may proceed when ready.” Soval ordered.
“Aye-aye, Sir! Out.” Manuel chose to reenter the bridge in case the hail was successful.
“Hello?! Hello! Is anyone there?!” a scratchy feminine voice called out through the interference of the transmission. It was just barely understandable over the sound of static bursts. Thankfully, the voice spoke in Federation-standard.
Manuel looked at the communications officer and forced himself to not say anything. After all, he’d been frantically making fine tuning adjustments all the while.
‘He knows his job, let him do it.’ He admonished himself. Just then the Comm officer, an Andorian named Bion Ch’kaniss, turned to look at him.
“The best I can manage, Captain.” Bion said, nodding.
“This is Captain Calavera of the starship Galatea, can you hear me?” he announced.
“What!” came the feminine voice again. This time it was much clearer. “Oh my Maou! Is there someone actually out there talking?! I’m sorry! Who are you again?” the voice quavered, as if the speaker were fighting back tears.
“I’m Captain Calavera of the Galatea, with whom am I having the pleasure?” The captain’s joke elicited a short bark of a laughter from the voice.
“I’m sorry captain. Thank you! You have no idea how wonderful it is to hear that the Federation has found us. Oh yes, I’m sorry Captain, my name is Mikkel. Uhhhmmm, Lieutenant Mikkel Hunt, or at least I was a lieutenant! I’m not sure what I am right now!” Manuel waited patiently, as Hunt continued to chatter away.
‘I would imagine I would be equally out of sorts under your circumstance.’ He said to himself.
“Lieutenant Hunt, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but do you think you could add on a visual to our communications? It would make things a lot easier.”
“I’d love to Sir, but I’m unable to do that! Our commanding officer disabled it some time ago, for several reasons. Conserving power for one, and to prevent any cultural contamination if the unit was captured by the Order.”
“Fine, fine.” Manuel replied, annoyed. “Who exactly is your commanding officer?” Manuel asked, feeling his body tense in anticipation.
“Oh yes! I’m sorry captain, yes, yes! Our captain? Oh yes, that’s right! Captain!” Hunt rambled enthusiastically, audibly trying to calm herself.
“That would be Colomar!” Hunt answered finally. Manuel wouldn’t resist it anymore, he sighed audibly as he felt his body relax at the news.
“Oh thank God!” he said out loud, extremely relieved with the news. Every member of his bridge crew glanced at one another, and made a silent smile. They were all happy to see him loosen up for once.
“Colomar isn’t here right now, as she’s in a meeting with our Lilim, please hold on! I’ll try and fetch her as soon as possible!” Hunt spoke, then cut off the transmission before Manuel was able to speak again.
Soval, looking over at his commanding officer, was almost amused by the sight of his commanding officer standing frozen with his mouth open. Manuel closed his mouth with a perturbed look crossing his face.
“Lilim?” he asked, chagrined, “What the hell is a Lilim? Some kind of clan chief or something?”
“I do not know Captain.” Soval replied, “there was no mention of a Lilim in any of the edited logs that I reviewed.”
It took the better part of an hour before they heard anything more. Finally, Ensign Ch’kaniss spoke.
“Captain! I’m getting an incoming transmission from the planet.” He said, holding a hand up close to his ear. “I’m patching it through now.”
“This is Mercedes Colomar contacting the Federation ship, are you still there?” came a voice over the intercom.
“Yes we are! Be assured of that!” Manuel piped up then.
“Wait! I know that voice! Mannie! Is that you?! Mercedes demanded, her voice tinged with a hint of hysteria.
“Yes, it is Meche. I’m here.” He replied happily, the sound of her voice made him feel warm for the first time in,…well a very long time.
“OH MY MAOU!” Mercedes cried, then her voice broke into some heavy sobbing for several seconds. “Oh Mannie! You have no idea how much joy, the sound of your voice brings to me right now!”
“Perhaps I do Meche, perhaps I do.” He answered, “It’s good for me to know that you’ve managed to survive everything that’s been thrown at you.” He replied relieved, then he patiently listened as Colomar continued to sob for a bit longer. After a minute, she got herself under control.
“Captain, I thank you for coming. I would imagine that we have much to discuss.” She said, professional once more.
“Yes, we do Captain, do you have any suggestions? I don’t suppose you ever found a way to effect a Transport?” he asked, then waited several seconds for a reply.
“I’m sorry Captain, I don’t think that will be possible.” Mercedes mentioned sadly. Manuel began to speak, but before he could, Mercedes interrupted him.
“The main reason for that, is that my crew was never able to punch through the interference caused by an unusual form of Organic Energy that’s present on this world. We attempted several configurations of pattern enhancers to overcome it, but none of them worked.” Manuel sighed silently in frustration.
“I am aware of that Energy, Captain.” He admitted. “I guess that means a shuttlecraft is in order, then. What about yours?” he inquired, curious.
“Not possible I’m afraid. I ordered all of ours to be scuttled and made non-recoverable. They were in danger of being captured by the Order.” Calavera felt both relieved, and for some reason annoyed as well. Mercedes continued.
“I think I can guess what your next question will be Mannie; how to land one of yours without alerting the locals?” Manuel nodded his head as if she could see him. What she said next caught him off guard.
“The answer is: you won’t need to worry about it overly much. Our hosts are aware of our technology, and they want little to nothing, to do with it.”
“Commander!” Manuel said angrily, his voice rising.
“Patience Mannie!” she barked back. “I know what you’re thinking. A violation of the Prime Directive. I can assure you that that damage has already been done before we….” A burst of white noise drowned out the rest of her sentence.
“What?!” Manuel demanded looking to Bion, who was already working on a fix.
“Sorry Sir, telemetry indicates that their comm unit is low on power. They probably have no way to recharge it now. Judging by the readings I have, if we reestablish contact we’ll have no more than a few seconds to converse.” Manuel was NOT pleased at that news. But, he had little choice but to accept the situation.
“Reestablish!” he ordered. Shortly, Bion was successful.
“Mannie, I’m sorry! I can’t talk long, our….” She began.
“Yes, I know, low power! Suggestions, recommendations?” He replied as tersely as he could.
“Come down in a shuttlecraft! I’ve received authorization from our Lilim, for you to do so.”
“What about Security?” He asked concerned. “Will they be allowed?”
“Yes, they will Mannie. In fact, I’d recommend that you bring as many men as you feel you can take along! The more, the merrier! All will be welcomed as gue….” her voice stopped mid-sentence. Manuel looked at Bion, but he already knew the answer. Which was confirmed by Bion shaking his head.
“Orders, Captain?” Soval asked patiently.
“Assemble an away Team, you and I will be going down with them.”
“Sir, I must object!” Security Chief Graves began. “General Orders state clearly that,…”
“I am quite well aware of Orders, Mister.” Manuel interrupted sternly. “That’s why I want you to hand pick a dozen of your best men to accompany me and Soval.”
“Which ship, sir?” Graves asked, clearly frustrated.
“One of the Stealth-Runabouts.” Manuel thought for a second. “Prepare the Glottis! She’s been the most reliable.”
“Yes Sir, anything else?”
“Yes. Lieutenant Commander Graves, I’m placing you in command until Soval and I return.” He commanded. Graves looked quite surprised.
“Thank you, sir! I’ll do you proud.”
“I know you will.”
“Yes, remain on an alert standby. If neither Soval or I report back within 24 hours, you will take this ship and its crew back to the Federation. Take along whatever other information you’ve managed to glean in the interim.”
“Aye-Aye, Sir. You can count on me, Godspeed.”
The trip down was uneventful. Mannie didn’t know what to expect along the way. But he’d been hoping to see one or two of the sentient flying life-forms that Mercedes had mentioned in her reports. He was disappointed, in that they were nowhere to be seen.
The Glottis, a Runabout equipped with a Romulan authorized cloaking device-variant, was able to fly in with no untoward attention directed towards it. They landed at the edge of the village that sensors indicated the Comm-unit was situated. Yet, after landing, the Runabout’s sensors picked up several lifeforms waiting for them nearby.
“I have no explanation for their being able to detect us Captain.” Soval explained, sounding almost embarrassed.
Upon exiting the Runabout, Manuel looked back at it and noticed that it was nearly completely invisible to his eyes. The open access hatch being the only giveaway of its existence. Turning around, he counted no less than fourteen figures standing together patiently, a short distance away.
‘Odd, exactly the same number of personnel as we have.’ He noted suspiciously.
Silently, his security personnel took up standard protection positions behind and alongside. The other group saw them, and began to advance.
“Orders sir?” the Security Team lead asked.
“Stay on alert, phasers on stun, no threatening moves.” Manuel replied, as the group came within speaking distance. He noticed that the entire group was dressed conservatively. All of them wore a dark brown hooded robe that covered them from head to toe, hiding any personal details.
‘What is it about Desert Cultures, that require such conservative dress?’ Manuel judged silently.
“Interesting.” Soval spoke aloud, tricorder out and taking readings. “The group is comprised entirely of women, and they are unarmed. Any more information than that, I cannot give you, Captain.” Soval stated solemnly. “I keep detecting more of that organic energy interference, every time I scan for greater detail.” He explained.
As they got nearer, Captain Calavera’s eyes widened in surprise, when he noticed that their leader’s walking pattern seemed familiar.
“Meche?” he quiered then, with more than a hint of need filling his voice.
“MANNIE!” the lead figure shouted, then started running towards him. Manuel immediately raised an arm to hold off any untoward actions of his security team. As he expected, Mercedes ran straight into his arms, embracing him strongly. Almost too strong.
Manuel was about to say something else. But he was cut off, when he momentarily saw Mercedes face peeking out from underneath the hood that covered nearly all of her head. The look of joyful-adoration on her face, left him open-mouthed.
The next thing he knew she was kissing him. Kissing him with a passion that he never encountered before from her. At first, she sucked greedily at his lips, then surprisingly her tongue darted in between his lips and probed the depths of his mouth. It felt like she was drinking from him. Utterly surprised at this uncharacteristic behavior of hers. He pulled his head back.
“Woah, woah, woah!” He shouted then, feeling unnerved by the intensity of her need. Even when he pushed her to arms-length, he could feel her attempting pull him back towards her.
“Captain, please!” he half-shouted, embarrassed at her public display of affection. He then reached up to cup her head in his hands like he always had done before when they embraced.
He had nearly touched the sides of her hood, when her eyes widened in realization of his intent. Almost instantly her hands intercepted his arms, grabbing his wrists. Quickly, she forced his hands to the front of her face instead. Once there, she kissed his hands lightly, yet longingly.
“Uh, Captain. I understand that you’re happy to see me, but,…” he began nervously.
“Forgive me Mannie.” She smiled back at him, releasing his hands. “It has been long, far far too long since I’ve seen you. Please forgive me my unprofessional display.” She replied with a smoldering look.
“Come with me Mannie.” She said suddenly. “Come with me, I’m sure you have dozens of questions, as do I for you!”
“Go with you? Where?” He asked, looking around as Soval and his men waited patiently. Manuel noted that each of the other hooded figures chose to position herself close as they could, to each member of his landing party. They didn’t appear to make any threatening moves, but it still left him uncomfortable for some reason.
She answered him then.
“To our compound, Captain. The place where most of the remaining families from the Salvador are living right now. Our hosts have been more than generous in seeing to our needs.” She replied, releasing him and stepping back.
She then held out a hand for him to take. Manuel hesitated for only an instant, then he took it, gladly.
“Oh my goodness, Meche! Your grip, it’s like iron!” he remarked honestly, almost nervously. Her only reply was a devilish grin, as her hold lightened just a touch. But her grip, remained implacable. She started walking, pulling him along. He chose to allow it.
“I do have one question for you right now, Captain!” she demanded as they walked towards a long low building half a click away. Manuel turned and looked at her.
“The Borg.” She whispered.
“They’re gone.” He replied, his voice shaking. She stopped and looked back at him fiercely.
“Gone? What do you mean GONE! Gone as in pushed back again?!”
“No.” he replied, shaking his head. “Gone as in no longer a threat. As near as the Federation can tell, the threat of the Borg has been eliminated from the Galaxy.” Mercedes was incredulous as her mouth dropped open. Her face screwed up then.
“Oh my Maou! That’s wonderful to hear, thank you Mannie!” she replied as she started crying tears of relief, and anger. Once more, he reached out to cup her face in that gesture of friendly reassurance they’d always done.
As before, she prevented his hands from cupping her face. This time when she grabbed them, she pressed his hands down to her bosom. He could feel her quivering all over, as she sobbed silently in relief.
‘That feels awfully nice.’ Came an unbidden thought to his mind then.
“Maou?” he asked spontaneously. “It sounds like you’ve gone native, Captain.” She looked back up at him with tears in her eyes.
“Native? Oh yes, Mannie I have! We all have, in more ways than you’d expect.” She replied cryptically. Manuel was about to ask her more, but she interrupted him.
“I’ll explain in more detail once we’ve gotten to our compound. Just be patient for now. That’s all that I ask. Please?” she pleaded, looking at him in the eye.
‘What’s the harm?’ he thought, feeling himself get lost in those eyes. Quietly, he nodded.
They didn’t speak anymore along the way, despite several attempts by Mannie to question her. She begged off with answering every time, asking him to be patient.
Looking about, Manuel noticed that the companions of his Security officers, weren’t quite so taciturn. Each and every one of them was quite friendly with her counterpart. He found himself smiling, when heard the occasional sound of laughter emanating from either party.
‘Perhaps some R & R here?’ he mused.
Soval, for his part, steadfastly refused to make any polite conversation with his companion, despite her enthusiasm to the contrary. After the first few minutes, he merely remained silent and allowed her to chatter away, filling in the conversational void. Not that she seemed to notice.
As they got closer to the compound, Manual took note of extensive fields full of unusual looking crops, and orchards with strangely exotic fruits. All of which, appeared to be tended by the Salvador’s adult family members. Occasionally, one or two of them in the distance would wave to the party. But none would approach.
Eventually they arrived at the compound, and passed through the gates, and what he saw there within, surprised him! There were dozens of children there, some were sitting in an open aired classroom taking lessons. Looking around, he noticed that the eldest ones were engaged in clean up details of the compound’s courtyard, or were working in the extensive gardens. As they passed under an arched gateway, Manuel noted that there was something out of the ordinary there. Something that he couldn’t quite place.
“Wait!” he said, stopping. He realized what had been bothering him!
“The males! Where are all of the males?” Mercedes stopped in place, then turned to look at him.
“Our hosts have had need of them, their services.” She replied sadly. Then she took note of his alarm. “They are alive and well Mannie I assure you. In fact, you may speak with some of them later if you wish. Right now, just come along with us, with me. Everything you need to know will be explained shortly.” Manuel hesitated, then replied.
“No.” he said, almost angrily. “NO! I will not go any further with you. Not until you explain what’s going on here!” Soval, along with the security team, took their cue and fanned out.
Soval curtly ordered the security team to take up a defensive posture, which they did by raising their phasers. Mercedes and the other hooded figures said nothing at this display. Instead, they just watched everything with an air of resignation. The group of hooded figures then all looked at Mercedes questioningly. Looking back at them, she nodded.
One by one, each of the hooded figures pushed back their hoods and revealed their heads. After that, they undid the ties that held their robes shut, and then as one they dropped their robes onto the ground.
What they displayed then, left nearly all of his men astounded.
Women. Beautiful women, but not human women. Each and every one of them was unique in form.
One looked like a cross between a human woman and a tiger! The security guard that she stood next to, managed to tear his gaze away from her oversized breasts. Instead, he goggled at the size of her hand/paws that she flexed smilingly at him.
Manuel turned his head and took in each of the other scantily clad beauties in turn. The next one, appeared to be half dog, no wait! A jackal! The next, a fox! There was a horned woman with comically red skin, another with skin blue enough to be an Andorian!
Nearby, Manuel took note of Soval’s companion. She, appeared to be similar to him in that her skin was a dark shade of brown, and that she too sported a pair of ears that were pointed. But hers were significantly longer!
He found himself horrified by the spectacle of all of those women there, beast-like or not! Horrified, because he recognized them. Nearly every last one of them had been personnel stationed aboard the Salvador!
Finally, Manuel turned and looked to Mercedes and saw that she was still covered with her brown robe. She looked back at him nervously.
“Captain.” He said simply, commandingly. She waited for the merest fraction of a second before complying to his unspoken demand. After she quickly and efficiently exposed herself, to his surprise, Manuel found himself not in the least bit aghast.
Looking at her as she stood upright in front of him with a regal air. Captain Calavera found his emotional state to be in flux. Casting his gaze from her crown to her feet, he felt an alternating need to shout at her, coupled with an overwhelming desire to wrap his arms around her.
‘It’s her, but she’s changed!’ he thought in wonder, gasping. As he visually examined the body of Captain Mercedes Colomar, he couldn’t help but notice in admiration that many of her previous physical flaws, had vanished.
She was slimmer, trimmer, with a significantly enhanced bust that threatened to burst from her negligee like outfit. With a shuddering breath, he continued his examination. He stopped breathing momentarily, when he noticed the cinnamon brown horns on her head. They curled forward from her temples, and ended in slight points that jutted heavenwards. No wonder she kept intercepting his hands!
When she crossed her arms impatiently, he noticed that she now had a light coating of what appeared to be fur covering her forearms.
His eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, when he noticed what appeared to be a pair of translucent-pink wings, extending themselves from the vicinity of the small of her back. Then his mouth dropped in surprise, when he saw a pink-opaque tail sneak its way out from behind her. It was surprisingly long, as it swayed itself in an almost hypnotic manner.
“What are you?” he whispered hoarsely.
“I am now something called a ‘Lesser Succubus’. But I’m me, Mannie!” she replied sharply. “I’m still me!” she cried in desperation, as she reached imploringly out to him. He evaded her with a flinch. His doing so, seemed to pain her. So she dropped her arms.
“What the hell happened to you? To ALL of you!?” he demanded then, coldly.
“The Great Maou happened, Mannie.” She replied quietly.
“What the hell is THAT supposed to mean!?”
“One of her daughters, a Lilim, changed us, improved us, made us better!”
“What?! By turning you into,…into…” he stumbled, trying to find the appropriate word.
“Monsters?” she shot back, frowning. He glared back at her.
“Yes, Monsters, your word.”
“All right,” she replied, hurt. “My word, Monsters. So what?” she demanded. “Are any of us really that far out from the norm, Mannie?” she asked, in a reasonable tone. “Are we now all that different from the other aliens you’ve encountered, in your time in Starfleet?”
“I,” Manuel began, then stopped, thinking furiously. Before he could reply she interrupted.
“Are we all that different, from the unreal women in the holo-suites? The holo-suites that I know you, and your other male friends, have visited?” she demanded, locking her eyes with his. He tried to stare back, but he couldn’t maintain it. After a few seconds, he looked away, ashamed.
“No.” he admitted finally, swallowing.
“Then what’s wrong with us, with ME!” she demanded, outraged. “I am still me Mannie! Deep down I’m still ME!”
“All right! Maybe you still are you! But what the hell do you people want now? To go home?”
“We are home! We don’t want to go anywhere else, now.”
“Then what do you want?!!” he shouted.
“We want what you have!”
“I won’t let you take my ship!” he screamed at her.
“I don’t want your ship! Or your technology!” she screamed back.
“Then what do you want?!” he shouted, frustrated. What she said next left him confused.
“You! I want you!” she shouted back, tears forming in her eyes.
“What do you mean, me?” he said quietly, his throat starting to hurt from all of the shouting.
“Remember the last day we met Mannie? On Starbase 375? You came close to asking me something, remember?” He nodded.
“You were going to propose then weren’t you?” After several seconds of avoiding her eyes, he met them briefly and nodded.
“Why didn’t you?”
“Because I thought that if I did, I’d be depriving you of something that made you happy.” Ah hell, it sounded so pitiful when he said that.
“Having you as a husband would’ve made me happy, Mannie. Not a career in Starfleet, not being a Science Officer on a ship in the endless harshness of space.” She whispered then, taking a small step closer. When she noticed that he didn’t pull back, she took another hesitant step.
“Ever since we first met at the Academy, I’ve always wanted you.” She said, raising her arms and reaching for him gently.
“When you didn’t ask me what I thought you would, I assumed that you weren’t ready. I thought that maybe, just maybe, some time away would make you ready. Then, the Borg happened.” Her lips squinched momentarily.
“I have never so regretted a decision like the one I made then.” She said, lightly touching his face with her fingertips. He still didn’t pull away. Emboldened, she stepped forward and cupped his head fully. She looked up at him.
“I have faced death so many times since, Mannie. So many times I wanted to just give up.”
“Do you know what kept me going? Do you have any idea what it was, that kept me trying again? To force myself back onto my feet after I’d been knocked down, again and again?” Manuel tried to look away. Mercedes wouldn’t allow it, forcing him to keep his eyes locked with hers.
“You Mannie. It was the thought of you. The thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d survive long enough to tell you that I love you.” Manuel was silent for the longest while.
“I love you too, Meche.” He confessed finally. She tried to draw him into a kiss then, but he resisted.
“What’s wrong?” she demanded with a slight shrillness, trying to hold back her tears of rejection. He looked significantly at her, she sighed.
“Are you afraid that you’ll be transformed? Don’t worry, you won’t be… well much, that is.” He drew back alarmed.
“Don’t worry.” She said shaking her head. “Wait, you’re afraid that we’re something akin to the Borg, aren’t you?” he nodded.
“We’re not anything like those monstrosities!” she replied viscerally. “My people will never force anyone to convert!”
“What about my men?”
“None of us will force your men, Mannie. Look now at your security team.” He turned and looked, and noticed what all of his men in the Security team were up to.
Each and every one of them had laid down their weapons, and were chatting happily with their respective counterparts. At least a couple of them were openly kissing, and a couple more were starting to disrobe in preparation for, well, it was obvious what. There in the open, in front of everyone. Another one of his men, was touching the fluffy tail of the jackal-girl.
Manuel looked for Soval, he appeared to finally be in a conversation with that Vulcan-like counterpart of his. Mannie chose to step close enough to eavesdrop on their conversation.
“I can assure you that despite the resemblance, I am not, what is it you called yourself? A Vulcan?” Soval nodded.
“No, I am a member of a far nobler race, we are known as Dark-Elves.” She replied, standing far closer to Soval than anyone ever had a right to be. Manuel was surprised that Soval allowed it.
“I deem, that you have the potential to be an excellent mate.” She said to Soval, smolderingly.
“My wife made that same observation, prior to our betrothal.” Soval replied. His Dark-Elf companion seemed to be surprised by that, but she didn’t relent.
“Yet I sense, that it has been some time since you’ve been with her. Several years I would judge.” She pointed out astutely.
“You are correct. The reason for that is she is now deceased. Her, along with our children.” He replied steadily, his voice not betraying the grief that Manuel knew he still had. The Dark-Elf didn’t quite smile at that news, but Manuel noticed that her eyes widened with desire.
“Then why haven’t you remarried?” she asked, almost coyly.
“It has been an insufficient period of time for me to mourn them. A mere eight years.” The Dark-Elf’s desire for Soval flared from an ember into a flame at that remark.
“Such,…discipline!” she breathed heavily. “Yes, you would indeed make for an excellent Husband.” She stated matter-of-factly.
Soval raised an eyebrow at her impertinent appraisal. The Dark-Elf giggled when she saw it, and tried her best to emulate him. After a couple of attempts, she was successful.
Right then, Manuel felt Mercedes’ arms wrapping around him from behind. This time he had no desire to flinch.
Leaning over, she breathed into his ear a demand that thundered to the bottom of his soul.
“Be mine Mannie. Forever.” She pleaded achingly.
USS Galatea, Captain’s Log: Stardate 66948.1. Manuel Calavera reporting.
Mercedes Colomar, formerly of the Starship Salvador, has chosen to remain behind on the planet that she and her crew, have been marooned on.
She has extended an invitation to me and my crew, to have us all join her people there. It is an offer that I and every other member of my crew, have chosen to accept.
In accordance with General Order Number One, we have made a number of preparations to return the Galatea to the Federation. We have programmed the ship’s computer to have her travel automatically back to Federation space, after the last shuttlecraft has returned itself to the shuttle-bay.
Additionally, the Galatea has been programmed to self-destruct, if she is accessed by anyone other than a fellow member of the Federation. I had this done, in order to prevent her from falling into either the hands of the Typhon Pact, or some unknown.
Prior to my ship’s departure, I’ve ordered that a number of interdiction buoys be set up on the edges of this system. They have been programmed to transmit a warning to any ship that chooses to stray near.
To the Admiralty who will be tempted to send someone to come and demand an explanation, I say this: Don’t bother! If you send anyone after us, expect them to not return.
It is neither a threat nor a warning. My explanation is this: the temptation to stay will be too great for them. That’s because what the Great Maou has to offer, is too good to turn down. In my opinion.
What offer is that you ask? My answer: I remember a movie made in the 20th century called: ‘Amazon Women on the Moon!’. It’s not the best analogy, but it comes closest. Simply put, the world of the Great Maou Needs Men.
For me, I want to raise a family with the woman I love: I came here to rescue Mercedes Colomar. But in the end, she rescued me.
Please be assured, that I have made sure, damned sure, that none of our technology will be shared with the locals. Any inventory done will see that I’ve not violated my oath to Starfleet.
I’ve also made sure, that my resignation from my commission will automatically go into effect the moment authorized personnel access the ship’s logs. I wish Starfleet and the Federation, all the best in the years to come!
My name is Manuel Calavera, and I’m signing off as Captain for the last time.
Soon to be Ex-Captain Manual Calavera, of the USS-Galatea NCC-80112 (Luna Class), sat back from his task of reviewing his last ship’s log. Closing his eyes with happiness and taking a cleansing breath, he allowed himself to lean back and relax into his office chair.
Opening his eyes, he saw the wondrous beauty who was waiting patiently for him across the room. This time, Mercedes Colomar was a full succubus. Currently, she was lolled back across his room’s couch with her legs spread wide. He admired the view, as she looked back at him with sultry eyes. Slowly, she continued to masturbate herself with long strokes of one of her delicate hands. The other grasped one of her breasts as she twisted that breast’s nipple with her fingers. Her self-ministrations filled the air of his ready room with the musky, yet delicious scent of her love-honey.
“Mannie?” She asked. “Before we go, there’s something I’ve been wanting to try for simply ages.” She smiled saucily at him. He raised an eyebrow questioningly at her, and smiled back.
“I’ve always wondered what it would be like, to make love on the bridge of a starship.” She mused while she moved to get up, licking her lips sensually as her tail swayed suggestively.
“Well then Meche.” He replied, as he stood up and started to disrobe again. “Make it so!”