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Bittersweet Victory

Posted on 10 Dec 2019 @ 2:56pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Gemma Alexander & Ensign Aurilia Moretti

Mission: Truth and Justice
Location: Flight Deck
Timeline: MD 15 || 1840 hours

A full hour had passed since the Runabout Mississippi had plowed into the side of the Black Hawk, forcing the mighty Century-class vessel to flee Penduli V's orbit. Pockets of Deck Seven, Eight, and the Engineering Hull were still being cleared, but so far, just over a hundred Dolmoqour had been accounted for. The Senior Staff had been freed, and the ship was again back under Starfleet's control.

The cost, so far, had been high. Prior to Penduli, thirty-eight people had perished in their months-long search for the danger. Following the discovery of the Dolmoqour, another forty or so had killed, with the final death toll still waiting to be tallied. Nearly a hundred suffered injuries of some sort, and some of those were life-threatening. Even the architect of this entire endeavor had not survived. Only one person, Ensign Quinn Mackie, had full knowledge of today's events (including the events of the last few months), and he would be questioned at length, regardless of the fact that he himself played no active role. Even the autodestruct had been disabled a few short minutes ago.

None of that mattered now. What mattered was that Captain Geisler still had to satisfy the Guardians in order to ensure the ship's survival, and that no one else died. He stood in the center of the shuttlebay, with several officers flanking him, along with some security and some of the squadron's maintenance crew. To Harvey's left were the three Guardian escorts who came aboard with him, Commander Walsh, and Lieutenant Kemm. To his right was the Boreriri retrieved from Kalisa. Had his Triosian companion survived the assault on the bridge, he would have been here too, hands bound by cuffs.

The massive flight door was still open, allowing the Guardian shuttle to approach, passing through the forcefield without issue. Hovering in the bay, it turned and backed up slowly to Geisler and his assembled entourage before finally landing on the deck.

It had been a long least it seemed that way to Terry. Trying to get the ship back had been hard and then, when things settled down, the duty of counting the dead and sending out messages to family would arise. He was currently unsure if any pilots had gone down during the battle and made a mental note to get with Archer about that later. For now though, he watched at the Guardian shuttle landed and wondered if Varke himself would be among the crew.

Lt. Alexander stood with the other pilots who had been taken over a little awkwardly. She had tried to fight but could do very little, which amounted to just occasionally confusing her resident Dolmoquor. She was proud of the fact the highjacker had chosen a screen formation when it hadn't been needed buying precious time for the Captain but it seemed a pittance in light of the damage and the others had done. She glanced at Galahad who had made it his mission to be a wrench in the gears and he smiled, giving her a thumbs up. Oddly enough that made her feel a little less awkward though it may be a time before she felt truly settled.

Aurilia stood off to the side of the other pilots and waited to be told her career was over. She had given herself to the enemy when her fighter had been shut down remotely. That was an act of treason. Then she used her skills to go after the Guardian ships because she was possessed. She didn't know what was going to happen to her, but she did know her loathing would run deep.

Coolant vents on the back of the shuttle hissed as the engines cooled and powered down. The yellow glow from the engines faded away and the normal sounds of the flight deck returned. A couple loud thuds could be heard, and the aft ramp shook as it was released. A loud whine now replaced all sounds as the ramp started to lower. Two escorts, fully geared in their spacesuits were the first to emerge. Their weapons were not raised, but it was clear from their body language that the amount of standing personnel in the flight deck made them nervous.

After a few moments, Commander Varke appeared at the top of the ramp. Unlike the others, he wore one of their suits, but his helmet was not on, allowing his longer hair, a pale purple, to flow freely. At his side was a disc gun in a holster. Varke walked down the ramp, withdrawing the pistol.

Captain Geisler held out his left hand, and placed it out to his side, pushing it backwards towards his crew, a nonverbal cue to keep anyone from taking matters into their own hands. He’d already been hit once with these discs, had a console explode in his face, and been shot at several times today. If one more disc saved the Black Hawk and its crew, then it was a small price to pay. He slowly stepped forward to meet Varke at the bottom of his ramp.

Varke examined the Captain’s face, taking note of the matted flesh that was once half his face. The first time Varke had seen it, the flesh was raw. Now, it was clearly starting to pus and harden. Now, it would likely crease and tear. Without further hesitation, he lifted the gun, and fired at the Captain just a foot away.

Harvey staggered backwards two paces, using whatever energy he had left to push through the pain. It was worse than he remembered. He could feel muscles twitch and seize, and the drying scabs on his face did indeed tear under the pressure, revealing fresh wounds to the sharp flight deck air. The charge ran its course, and the disc remained on Harvey’s torn jacket. Harvey shook his head in order to regain his composure.

“You were successful, then,” Varke asked, holstering his weapon.

“Nearly,” Harvey replied, removing the disc and tossing it to the floor. “We have control of the ship. There are still a couple pockets of Dolmoqour, but we have accounted for nearly a hundred and ten. Sixty crew still have not been examined, but that effort will end shortly.”

Varke frowned. “That was not the arrangement.”

“I am aware,” Harvey stated plainly. “This ship will be Dolmoqour free. I am prepared to share what information we have on Dolmoqour that are not on Penduli V, including those who are at large in and outside the Zone. And, Guardians may remain on this ship until we are ready to leave the zone. As soon as we reestablish contact with Starfleet, I’ll be able to have vessels with aid enter the zone, and we can do something about the quality of life here. Help you all move past this.”

The Triosian examined the Captain, looking deep into the human’s eyes. Harvey had seen enough of the Triosians and the Boreriri to know by now that Varke was communing with them to verify the Captain’s sincerity. “I’m told this Boreriri,” Varke looked towards the one rescued from Kalisa, “is being turned over to me. Why do you so freely give away a prisoner?”

“Because he is not our prisoner,” Harvey explained. “What has happened to him is unfortunate, but he does have decades of knowledge of Dolmoqour activity and plans, regardless of how outdated it might be.”

Varke cocked his head. “And you have a human who has been a host for them for several months. You won’t surrender him?”

Harvey fought the urge to narrow his free eye. “Ensign Mackie is one of our own. We don’t yet know anything he knew, but you are welcome to be present in his interviews.”

“Interrogations, you mean.”

“Interview is the proper word.” Harvey took in a deep breath and exhaled. “You have lived with the threat of Dolmoqour your entire life. We have known them for real only for a day, and hints of their existence for months prior. The Dolmoqour are the enemy. And we have all proven that when just one parasite is in our minds, resistance is futile. The actions taken by the parasite are never of the host’s free will.”

“Yet you bind the freed Boreriri.”

“For his own protection,” Harvey stated. “Just as Ensign Mackie will be under close surveillance until his own sanity can be proven.”

Varke nodded slowly, understanding but not necessarily agreeing with the human. “Perhaps we are both indeed prejudiced by experience. In the end, truth and justice shall be served.”

“Truth of the forgotten past, yes,” Harvey agreed. “And justice so that the current and future generations in the zone no longer suffer for the sins of their ancestors.”

Varke examined Harvey’s face once more as Boreriri whispered thoughts into his Triosian mind. “Very well, Captain Geisler. Today, the Guardians are satisfied. Time will tell if you are a man of your word.” As a gesture of faith, Varke extended a hand.

Harvey clasped the Triosian’s hand, giving it a firm shake. He simply smiled to the Triosian. After a second or two, he released the hand and turned back to his crew.

When the Captain was 'disc-ed' again, Terry winched and jerked backwards. He hoped that he wouldn't have to go through that was bad enough the first time around. But when it didn't happen and the conversation ensued, he let out a breath that he didn't realize he'd been holding. It seemed like it was a little tense at first between the two leaders, deciding the fates of those who knew Dolmoquor plans. Terry listened as the talks quickly subsided and hands were shaken. It would probably take quite a while for things to completely turn around in this region of space. But maybe the Guardians wouldn't have to shoulder it all themselves anymore.

The Captain's eyes carefully examined the assembled group. Nearly one hundred of the ship’s compliment was present for this exchange, and the events of the day had clearly taken a toll on all of them. "All hands," Harvey called out finally. "Dismissed."

Only time would tell how effective healing would be.


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