Star Trek: Defiant
"Omega and Alpha"
Written by Jeffrey Scott Bridges
"No light, but rather
The concerned visage of captain Jean-Luc Picard stared back at Bridges from the terminal screen on his desk in his ready-room aboard the Defiant.
"Captain, the older man said with a nod."
"Nice to see you again," Bridges responded. "I only wish it were under more ...pleasant circumstances."
"Agreed. We’ve got to stop meeting like this. Doesn’t anyone ever get married anymore?" He paused, and when he continued his tone of voice had changed, was much more serious. "As near as we can tell, you’re the last ship to come in, of those of us still left. The other captains have elected me temporary head of the fleet..."
"Congratulations," Bridges said, totally agreeing with the decision to put his man, his old mentor and friend, in charge of things. Picard was the most experienced and best officer in the fleet, and no one deserved the position more.
Picard nodded, acknowledging the comment. "This has spread farther than we’d imagined. I have here a list of all planets which have been ... infected. He pressed a few buttons, and the list appeared on Bridges’s screen. Bridges read it with horror. Vulcan, Betazed, Bol, Earth, Andor, Trill ... virtually every planet in the Federation! Not to mention Romulus, Qu’oNos and Ferengenar..."
"How ... how did it spread so far? So fast?"
"A few crew transferrs here and there, passengers changing ships. It was remarkably easy...," he said with disgust. Picard was appalled. At the loss of life, and the ease with which the entire Federation had been virtually destroyed ... from within.
"What about Bajor?" Bridges asked, concerned about the planet his ship was in orbit of.
"By some twist of fate, Bajor is fine and unaffected, as is Deep Space 9. That’s why we chose to gather here. It seems the only safe place left."
Bridges had heard enough. "We’ve found a way to counter the nanites, he said grimly, not for a moment forgetting the high cost of that information. A tight-tachyon wave will annihilate them."
"Jeffrey ... are you sure that will work?"
"My first officer figured it out ... saved the entire ship. It cost him his life. Yes, I’m sure." He dropped his gaze to the floor, remembering.
Picard nodded solemnly. "It would seem we have a new hope for survival. Hardin’s Gambit."
Bridges’s head snapped up at the mention of that name. "You knew John?"
"I knew of him. His old roommate from the Academy often speaks of him. He was a good man."
Bridges felt stupid. If John mentioned Riker, his old roommate, Riker probably did the same. It was hard to think straight, with John dead and the universe slowly crumbling to pieces. "The best," he answered sincerely. Hardin’s Gambit was all they had left, and Bridges was determined that it would make its way into the history books. "So, what’s next?" he said, trying to move on.
"We weren’t sure yet, but this new information adds a new light to things." He thought in silence for a moment. "I’ll contact you again in ten minutes. Picard out."
Bridges sat in silence, waiting.
* * *The Defiant streaked through space, heading for sector 001. Due to some miracle working by Bedard and the Enterprise's chief engineer LaForge, personal and shipboard phasers were modified to emit the tight-wave tachyon beam, giving the remaining Federation a fighting chance. With this new armament, Picard had dispatched ships to as many planets as possible, to at least try and stop the nanites. Picard had elected to keep the Enterprise at Deep Space Nine as a watchdog, giving it extra firepower should the need arise. DS9 was Starfleet Command now, Bajor the only safe planet. If they lost that, there'd be nowhere left to go.
Being the only other Sovereign class ship left, Picard had sent the Defiant to Earth, in the hopes that it could stop the rampage... salvage what was left of the paradise that had been there so shortly before.
They slowed into orbit, Bridges dreading his next order. "Commander Wolfrom... human life signs?"
There wasn't a sound on the bridge, save for the beeps from Myah's console. "Sensor readings show... 54 million and falling. Rapidly." The captain swallowed hard. At the last census, the Earth had a population of 18 BILLION.
"Lebin, could we use the shipboard tachyon beams and sweep the planet, try and save what's left?"
The Trill performed a few calculations, then sadly shook his head. "It would take us weeks to cover the entire planet."
Myah added in, "At present rate, all human life signs will cease in three hours." The grim reality of it all was beginning to set in.
"Sir, I have an idea." It was Commander Mak, from the back of the bridge.
Hoping for anything, Bridges nodded eagerly. "Go on, old man."
"Our orders, if elimination of the nanites is not an option, are to destroy anything and everything in Starfleet Command to prevent the little bastards from getting any more information about us."
"Yes, so?" Bridges said, getting impatient.
"So what about the moon." He turned to Wolfrom, "Check the sensors, the moon hasn't been touched." Myah confirmed it.
Jen, in the XO's chair and her newly morphed command uniform, said, "In their rush to get to earth they missed it." She checked the readout on her console in the arm of the chair. "All twenty million life signs confirmed."
Mak continued, "Right. And what's the one place on Earth that could handle beaming millions of people in less than three hours?"
"Starfleet Command," Mak and Bridges said in unison. Bridges stood, hope in his eyes. "Mak, Lebin, Mackowick, Bedard, Ry, Laine, Clark, Joel, Barak, K'larn, Maerret, T'Mal and Wolfrom meet me in cargo bay two. Clark and Joel, bring phaser rifles for each of us. Bedard, bring our new tachyon attachments. Let's go save some lives. Jen, you have the bridge. And with that, the captain made a beeline for the turbolift.
"We shall nobly save
or meanly lose the last,
best hope for Earth."
- Abraham Lincoln
In cargo bay two, the fourteen crew members met. Clark and Joel wasted no time in getting everyone armed, and within moments afterwards Bedard and K'larn had the tachyon beam adapters attached and had fully instructed on how to switch from phaser to tachyon. They scrambled up atop the oversized cargo transporter as the captain set the computer on a ten second countdown to transport. The fourteen stood in a circle, each facing outward, phaser at the ready as the beam took hold and the left the Defiant behind.
They materialized inside the general lobby of Starfleet Command, nervous and edgy. Their eyes darted back and forth, searching out the darkest shadows, and the smallest holes. This was no time to fail.
They fanned out slowly, none getting too far away from the others. Safety in numbers, they thought. As if numbers mattered. Through the windows they came, and from every door and opening, zombie-like abominations of humankind, long since dead but controlled by the nanites within them. They went down in heaps from phaser fire, But it didn't matter. Not when there were billions of them.
One crew member would go down, and the nearest other would stop and switch to the tachyon beam and wash them with it, so they'd live through a bit more of the hell. Old blood and gore spilled around the room , as well and newer, fresher blood. Mak was the last one standing, His immune system fighting back as furiously as he was. But it doesn't help when they take over the brain and stop the immune system from attacking. Everyone had gone down, in a matter of seconds, and the captain lay there staring into the face of Rael as she slowly twitched from the nanite activity within her. he could no longer feel his legs, they had entered at his feet. Soon they'd take his heart and brain, but they'd never get his soul. That was Rael's, and only hers. Tears fell from his face, the sensation moving into his stomach. And then the nanite-controlled zombies fell away in hordes, body after body falling to the ground, unmoving. Many of them on top of him. It was many moments before he heard or saw anything else, buried alive under a mound of recently dead people.
But then it got brighter. Rael was above him, with Mak and the others, lifting the bodies from atop him. And someone else. A familiar face.
"Hold still," Rael said, as she aimed her phaser at him and fired, washing him in the cool blue glow of the tachyon beam. Suddenly he was hoisted from the floor, far too easily for anyone he knew, except one person...
"Greetings, Captain," said a rather monotone voice.
"Nice to see you Commander Kliemann. Are you the cause of this?"
"If you mean your rescue, and the elimination of the nanites in this room, then yes. I brought those," he pointed with one hand at two phaser rifles on the floor (he had apparently used one in each hand, and had been far more accurate and precise than any of the other crew had been with only one), the other hand easily still holding the captain aloft.
"You must go on with the mission," he said to the others, "Leave me behind."
"What are you talking about, Jeffrey!?" Rael practically screamed at him.
""My legs...they won't move."
"I believe I may be of assistance, Sir," Kliemann said. He changed his grip on the captain, now holding him a bit more comfortably. he handed him a phaser rifle, and then took another in his other hand. he was apparently going to carry him through this. Well, so be it.
"What are our orders?" the android asked.
"Beam who we can to the moon... and leave this place in ruins," Bridges said grimly.
Kliemann nodded, and they all started off towards the central core, the heart of all Starfleet.
"Remind me, if we get out of this, to ask you what you're doing here and why you don't seem to have your emotions anymore," Bridges said to his old friend as he was carried down the corridor.
"Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of
death, I shall fear no man,
for I am the meanest bastich
in the valley."
- Takila Mak
The beaming had gone easily enough, with the skilled Ry at the controls. Within a few hours she had all the remaining living (45 million) safely in the biodomes on the moon. It would be crowded, but they'd at least be alive. It was mostly uneventful, with Commander Kliemann's skilled eyes on watch, none of the nanite-beings go close. Soon, they were gone and on their way to their final objective.
They ran through the old center of Starfleet, firing at anything that moved and everything that didn't. Computer consoles, walkways, windows, walls... anything not needed to support the structure (and this only because they were in it) was fair game. They left a blazing trail of fire and destruction behind them. none of them ever thought they'd be doing this in the heart of their own Starfleet. They reached the core, and set up a timed transport with the Defiant. There was an eerie silence about, and no sign of the nanites or their human specimens. Perhaps they knew what was about to happen.
"So long, old friend," the captain said, as he fired his rifle from his seat on the floor next to Kliemann. Fourteen other beams arced out seconds afterwards, the sheer brightness of the room making them all close their eyes. All except for Commander Kliemann, a silent witness to the end.
"Death is not the end,
but the glorious new
beginning of an adventure
in the final frontier."
Captain Bridges maneuvered his hoverchair up to the top of the small hill on this quiet, sunny day on Bajor. Rael had thoroughly examined him and done all she could, but for the moment it just didn't seem as if his legs were going to work. So he had this chair indefinitely, likely forever. But it didn't bother him much. John Hardin had paid a much higher price. He cleared his throat and glanced at the crown in front of him.
"You were all friends of Commander John Hardin. You had to be. You couldn't know him and not be his friend. He was just that likeable. He was brave and a true hero, and he shall always be honored in our memory and our history." He hovered his chair over to a nearby shuttle, the Rebellion from the Defiant. "I hereby rename this vessel the John M. Hardin, in memory of our fallen comrade and friend." He didn't feel much better about doing it, but it was the least he could do for his old friend.
Scott calmly waked up to him, in a new commander's uniform with his full rank returned, and a burning torch in his hand. Jen had been only too happy to keep her post as second officer and chief of security, she liked that job far better. "Are you sure this is what he would want?" Scott asked of his captain, referring to John's funeral.
"Yes, Scott, I'm sure. Can I have the torch?" Scott handed it to him, and he hovered over to the funeral pyre that was to be the last resting place of his friend. "Rest in peace, John," he said, as he lit the piles of branches and the flames consumed them, and Hardin in his black suit atop them.
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