©02 The Media Desk and the USS RAVEN (IFT) crew
As the RAVEN approached the outer space version of a No Man's Land between major powers observing an uneasy truce the ship grew tenser and edgier. Everybody on board seemed to sense it except the Captain. As the traffic control officer on Dave's World warned them about instant destruction if they varied from their assigned approach and orbit Lukas paced in his ready room and growled.
Captain Lukas had one purpose to his life right then. To trace the chain of information back to the first and last link between the Borg and the Federation.
"Entering the DMZ." Commander Ryan said. "We are now in violation of standing Starfleet orders."
Lukas nodded and told Dickerson at the helm to continue.
The RAVEN assumed standard orbit around the planetoid and after some discussion Captain Lukas decided to authorize shore leave to one of the more civilized settlements on the surface. Civilized as far as anything on Dave's World could be. Which meant it had a breathable atmosphere and the residents didn't shoot bipeds on sight.
Lukas and a few others watched as Kada beamed down to one of the other areas with the promise to call as soon as he learned anything of use.
"You're not armed?" Commander Ryan asked somewhat concerned for the ugly man's safety.
"Who says I'm not armed?"
Lukas and Ryan looked at each other then back at him. "I don't see anything."
"I keep it just for visits like this." Kada showed them that nothing was up his sleeve, then he reached up behind his shoulder and grabbed something invisible. He tugged on it and its cloaking device deactivated. Then the man swung a large angular rifle at them. "Gimme yer dough." He said in a bad accent.
"OK. You're armed. Try not to kill too many peace loving citizens." Lukas said with a slight chuckle.
"On Dave's World?" Kada said putting the weapon away.
"He's kidding." Ryan said shaking his head.
"Energize when ready." Lukas said.
The contact was missing. Mr. Kada found Forrester and tried to track down Kymm. But the scuttlebutt on the planet had it that the trader had vanished shortly after the message had been sent. This wasn't unusual on Dave's World. People who got caught double, triple, or sextuple cross, sometimes vanished without a trace.
Not one to give up easily Kada convinced one of Kymm's associates to talk to Captain Lukas in person.
"That thing's HOT!" Hharstonn said through their translator with a wheezing noise.
"Imagine that." Kada muttered pushed the business end of his rifle against its ears even harder.
"Who picked up Kymm?" Lukas leaned even closer "Tell me and if you're not lying I'll have him shut it down."
"I don't know who they were...... AAAHHHHHHHH!!!! OK... but you have to get me away from here." The translator wheezed again.
"We'll drop you off at Starbase Eighty-Three."
Hharstonn thought about it.
"They'll just send you to a nice safe penal colony." Lukas said.
Kada moved the barrel of the rifle slightly. Hharstonn squealed again. "You can learn an honest trade. Like lock-picking." The man said.
It squirmed and snorted. "OK. They were Whrstins. Barvol Doos and one of his workers. It's said some of the Whrstins were partially converted by the Borg. The whole planet is working for them now to avoid the rest of them being done."
"I've never heard of Barvol Doos." Kada said lifting the gun a little off the top of Hharstonn's head.
"He was apprenticed to Thakt Jil pozs Halm."
"I should burn your ears off just for saying that name." Kada rumbled as the knuckles on his hands turned white.
Hharstonn recoiled even further down into the chair away from him and the translator wheezed without it even speaking.
"Don't. Where's Doos now?" Lukas said.
"Off world. But he shouldn't be hard to find."
The two humans looked at it. "It's a big galaxy." One of them said.
"He's in an old Romulin warbird. Par-ta class. It must be a hundred years old. They left not two days ago."
"Where were they going?"
It hesitated but as the barrel of the glowing weapon moved toward its ears again its memory improved. "Colewarn Field. Doos took over Jil's base there."
Lukas nodded. "That's enough." He tapped his communicator. "Two to beam up directly to the brig."
"I need to see a couple of others. I'll check in within the hour."
Lukas nodded. "Energize."
The translator wheezed but Hharstonn never got to say whatever it was going to say.
Kada ransacked Hharstonn's room in the complex built from old cargo containers and blast-rated prefab sections of concrete. He put a few interesting items in a large bag and stalked out.
"You're not Hharstonn!" Something shouted from the common area.
The other beings in the clear space ducked and scampered out of the line of fire but Kada just pointed his still-glowing weapon at the speaker and said, "You're right. I'm not." Without shooting.
The shouter raised his hands and asked if the room was open to rent now.
"Needs cleaning up."
"Who cleans?" It said and watched the human with the rifle walk quickly out.
"I'm glad I caught up with you." Mr. Dubin said from a small skimmer.
Kada looked around and tossed the bag onto the skimmer's deck then he climbed in, still holding the rifle at the ready. "So am I, I was getting tired of walking."
"You haven't heard?"
Something in Dubin's voice got Kada's attention. "Evidently not."
"There's been a mutiny or mass desertion or something."
Kada looked behind them in case some of Hharstonn's friends were following. "Mutiny where?"
"On the RAVEN."
Kada's hand flexed involuntarily, the glowing weapon discharged a large bolt of blindingly bright fire that screamed into the air and exploded a few dozen meters over the skimmer.
Mysteriously the few other vehicles and individuals that had been on the cluttered roadway in front of them found somewhere else to go. Quickly.
"What's going on?" Kada said as the shock of the news and the discharge wore off.
Mr. Dubin turned the speed up a little. The small skimmer stirred up a cloud of dust and debris as they took off down an access to the major causeway out of the settlement. "I don't know. I ate dinner at Pedro and Krolstrock's with John and the Slack's and when he called to beam up they said he couldn't because there was a dispute over who was running the ship."
Kada made a face and checked the charge in his rifle. "I'll give them who's running the ship."
Dubin's eyes narrowed. "Who's side are you on?"
The bridge was silent and tense.
Lukas stood tall and looked from one officer to the next. Ziggy the security chief seemed edgy but hadn't drawn his weapon. Yet.
"This isn't a mutiny sir." Ryan said.
"OK. Then what is it?" Ziggy asked.
"The captain said in the beginning that at any time we could simply walk away." Lieutenant Allen said.
"And you want to walk away?" Lukas muttered.
"Yes sir." Mr. Brown answered.
"And you?" He looked at Ryan.
"May I ask why? Here? Now?"
"Yes sir. I don't think the way you are going about it is the way to win the war against the Borg." His lips got tight. "I want to go back to regular Starfleet and help another ship. Maybe my experience here will help somebody else sometime."
"That's fair. You're entitled. And good luck." He looked at the other officers.
"I'm just tired. That last run in, the constant fighting and hiding and running." Brown said slowly.
Lukas nodded. "I've been a little tired too. But I want to keep it up." He looked back at Ryan. "So why here? Why not in Federation Space?"
"Because you're not going back to Federation Space. Aren't you going to the Colewarn Asteroid field?" Ryan asked, but it really wasn't a question.
"We bought a transport. We're going to the Starbase with the prisoner as soon as we can arrange everything." Ryan said.
Lukas looked at the group. He nodded slowly as he realized it was basically a done deal. "Is there anything you need? Supplies? Anything?"
"Thank you sir... But I think we're OK."
"What kind of transport did you find here?"
Ryan grinned. "It was a Star Fleet long range shuttle that was reported missing a few months ago."
Lukas laughed in spite of everything.
They materialized in the cargo bay.
Grunt, the short rectangular robot, grunted and backed away from the console. Then it picked up a plasma grenade launcher and rolled toward the double doors.
"So where to?" Mel Barnhardt asked Kada.
"You take engineering, we'll take the bridge."
"Do you think it was a real mutiny or somebody from the planet trying to take over the ship?" One of the Slack sisters asked.
"Does it matter?" Dubin said touching the pad to open the door.
"No." Kada said taking his weapon off safety.
"Is that on stun?" Mel asked.
"It doesn't have a stun setting." Kada answered and nodded to Dubin.
The door opened and they fanned out, then they split up and headed fore and aft.
Mr. Kada stood in the middle of the turbolift facing the doors with his glowing rifle aimed at the seam between them. The Slacks and a couple of others stood to either side, weapons at the ready.
The doors opened.
"NO! Don't shoot!" Lukas shouted when Kada and the others charged out aiming at everything at once.
Ryan and his group raised their hands instinctively. "It's OK. Everything is under control." Ryan said calmly.
"Who's in control of the ship?" One of Kada's backups asked.
"Right now, the guy with the big gun is." Dickerson said with his hands high in the air.
Lukas grinned with a sudden thought. "Ahh. Doctor Leftover. It seems Mr. Ryan and the others have resigned their posts on the RAVEN. Can you help them move their stuff to the transporter room?"
"Sir. Our transport ship is in the shuttle bay."
"Well then, the shuttle bay." Lukas looked at Ryan, the ex-XO still had his hands in the air. "After you power down your pulse rifle." The captain said with a slight grin.
"Yes sir." The high-pitched whine of the weapon died down, the glow started to fade.
"Thank you Captain." Ryan said lowering his hands.
Kada tapped his communicator. "Bridge to Engineering and Auxiliary control. Captain Lukas is in command of the ship. All clear."
Barnhardt responded in a second. "Engineering here. All secure. It seems we are charging the engines of a long-range shuttle. It's reading all systems normal. Ready to launch."
Grunt, covering two extremely nervous ensigns on the secondary bridge with its rocket launcher, grunted.
A couple of hours later most of the senior crew were gathered in the shuttle bay.
Some of those that said they were leaving had changed their minds and decided to stay. Others that had been staying were now leaving.
Lukas stood off to one side near deck control console. Ryan stood next to the shuttle. They stared at each other while some others decided what they were doing.
Kada, for his part, leaned against the far wall, his Dave's World Special rifle hung loosely in the crook of his arm. To Ryan's no small relief, it wasn't glowing.
The RAVEN left orbit and seemed to coast for a few minutes. Then the long-range shuttle lifted from its deck and moved under its own power to come alongside the larger ship.
After flying together for a couple of minutes. They separated.
"See ya around." Lukas said to the screen as the shuttle went to warp. He looked to his recently appointed acting XO and nodded.
Commander Rowell tried not to sound like a counselor. "Set course for the Colewarn Asteroids and engage warp six."
The officer at the helm nodded. "Engaging sir."
Ellingsworth turned to the Captain, "We'll be entering the Romulin controlled section of the Neutral Zone in fifteen minutes."
"Bring the cloak online. When we cross into it drop to warp four." He bit his lip a second. "Scan for ... everything."
No warbirds uncloaked in front of them before they entered the field of various sized rocks and dropped out of warp.
"Plot the location of Jil's base." Lukas said.
"Getting it." The navigator worked quickly. "Ok. Coordinates locked."
"I'm reading an impulse trail. It could be the old warbird sir." Ensign Shaffer said from the sensor panel.
"Any sign of the ship?"
"No sir." She answered.
"Maintain shields, its cloaking device may be functional... and possibly upgraded."
"I've located the base. Coming on screen now."
It wasn't much of an asteroid. Lukas had seen some that had been hollowed out and turned into free drifting palaces or entertainment centers that rivaled some of the best spaceports going.
"There's the warbird." Somebody said.
Lukas stared at the asteroid. At first he didn't see it. Then he saw the shape against the rock, tucked into a crevasse barely large enough for it. A small base surrounded the improvised docking bay.
"Identify the command area. Doos is most likely there. We know he wears personal shielding and has implanted weapons. Locate him and beam him into the brig." Lukas said. He looked to where Commander Ryan had stood for so long. Then he turned to the other way. "You have the bridge."
"Yes sir!" Rowell said with a sharp nod.
Lukas was standing in the middle of the brig with an image of Barvol Doos, waiting patently.
"He's coming in."
"I'm ready." Lukas nodded to the security officer.
In a second the transporter beam shimmered and a small thickly built humanoid materialized inside one of the cells.
He blinked for a second then realized where he was. he glared at Lukas and talked quickly in some language the captain had never heard before. It took the translator a minute to recognize the dialect and do its job. "Why are you holding me? I've never been in Starfleet space."
"We're not holding you. I just want to ask you some questions."
"For a price. I'll tell you anything I can." He stuck out a rather large clasp purse and jiggled it.
"You don't look like a Ferringi." Lukas said.
"But I had learned well from them. Everything has price. Even in the Starfleet space."
"Who hired Salaoth Kymm to find the Star Fleet ship RAVEN?"
Doos stared at him as the translator converted what Lukas had said into his own too fast language. Doos's face got tight and his eyes shrank in their sockets. He panted a second then waved his hands and talked quickly. "I can't tell you. I can't."
"But you know."
His scream needed no translation.
"Medical Emergency in Detention!" Ensign Williams was saying repeatedly to the com.
"Nevermind." Lukas shouted. "Transporter, beam Doos into space. Full Dispersion."
But the transporter couldn't lock onto him as Borg hardware poked through his skin and began changing him into a drone.
"Got Him." The com said in a second.
Several parts of what had been Barvol Doos dematerialized. The rest of him, mostly Borg now, collapsed to the floor. Then it too, no longer functioning as a unit, was engulfed in the transporter beam and vanished.
Lukas stared at the wet spot on the floor that was all that was left of his last connection to the leak.
Ensign Williams fought the nausea "I'll get that cleaned up sir."
The captain nodded and walked out deep in thought.
The RAVEN was running at high warp back out of the Neutral Zone.
"Sir." The communications officer said from the door to his ready room.
"While everybody was otherwise occupied I managed to download most of the database of the old warbird." The science officer said with a slight smile.
Lukas looked up, his eyes said 'yeah so?' even though he didn't say it.
"The part you'll want to know about shows everywhere Doos and his crew have been for the last six months or so."
Lukas's eyes started to say it again, then he thought about it. "Where did he go?"
Lieutenant Slack continued. "When he said he hadn't been in the Federation, he was lying." She paused. Lukas waited even though he didn't have the patience to do so. "They had been to Starbase One Nineteen not three months ago. They left the ship nearby and went in on a prospector scout."
"We were just at Starbase One Nineteen." Lukas saw the light.
"Two weeks before he was. That's were we picked up that information to go to...." She paused and tried to decide which way to put it. She couldn't but the captain did.
"So did he plant the information to lead us into a trap or did he simply relay where we were going to the Borg so they could hit us?"
"We may never know sir."
"But either way there is a leak at that Starbase."
"Or elsewhere in the fleet relaying information to contacts here and there."
Lukas nodded. "OK." He stood up and adjusted his uniform and walked onto the bridge. "No more detective work. We're going back on the offensive. Relay that information from Doos's ship to Starfleet security. Tell them about their leak but not a word about our plans. We know the Borg were in the Whrstin Colonies. That means they have a conduit terminus there, and probably a base someplace. Let's go blow it up."
The bridge officers applauded the change in plans.
"Set course for the Whrstin System, and I know it is in a Cardassian Protectorate System." He nodded at them. "Engage when ready at coax-five. Bring conduit tachyon detector on line. Run metaphasic shields and all weapons through a full diagnostic. Battle stations drill in one hour. Just before we enter Cardassian space engage the cloak." Lukas ordered.
"Now that's more like it." Hackett said with a grin at his weapon's console.
Lukas looked around at his rearranged bridge crew. "Some of your assignments are going to be temporary, others permanent. We'll see as we go... as we go... On with the Crusade."
There was some more applause and cheering. Then the bridge grew silent for a minute.
"Ready for coaxial five sir. Course locked in."
"Sir, I checked the reports from that area for the last few weeks. There have been scattered reports of unknown vessels in the area."
"Good enough. Lets go."
The Crusade Continues
[This story carries the copyright of The Media Desk, 2002, and the USS RAVEN (IFT). Author retains all rights, including the right of approval for publication. STAR TREK, and all images and situations affiliated with STAR TREK are owned and copyrighted by PARAMOUNT STUDIOS. They are used in this story without intent to harm or otherwise defame PARAMOUNT or the estate of Gene Roddenberry. The Media Desk is not in any way affiliated with PARAMOUNT. For information contact the Desk. Email- drleftover(a)themediadesk.com , or surface mail to: The Media Desk, PO Box 1276, Dover, DE 19903]