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Posted on 29 Sep 2019 @ 10:43pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant JG Kemm & Commander Terry Walsh

Mission: Truth and Justice
Location: Guardian Vessel
Timeline: MD 15 || 1700 hours

The absence of everything yielded to a tsunami of pain.

Harvey felt weak, unable to move, forcing him to be a captive audience to sharp pokes and throbbing muscles. Slowly, his one good eye opened, but there was not much for it to see. His mostly black uniform did not help his struggling vision, though he could make out that his badge was still present, and there were several burns on his uniform. Harvey wanted to touch the burns and inspect what little of his injuries that he could see, but he soon learned that his hands were restrained.

Groaning, Harvey started to look around his body, realizing that he was bound to a chair. Looking up higher, he saw that he was restrained in a small holding cell of sorts.

His memory kicked in, recalling that he was aboard the Mississippi. He’d been evading his squadron commander in a runabout, and took damage. An explosion must have burned his face, and the marred flesh sealing his left eye closed. And then he’d been boarded, and shot.

Judging by the lack of familiarity with his surroundings, Harvey assumed that he was aboard one of the Guardian vessels. Continuing to look around the dark surroundings, he didn’t see a guard, but he did see two other cells, and two other restrained forms. Both heads were free from hair, leading Harvey to assume that one was the Kelpien Lieutenant Kemm, and the other his pursuer, Lieutenant Commander Walsh.

These beings were so fragile was a thought that the Dolmoquor had as it had been trying to wake it's host. Terry slowly opened his eyes. Residual pain from the weapon spread throughout his body. Well, he was now feeling it, at least. He immediately tried to move his hands only to find out the that his arms had been restrained. And his feet. Damn he thought to himself. Then his memory slowly started to come back. He was about to blow the fighter in a last ditch effort. As he tapped the console to initiate the overload, he'd been transported off. And shot.

He shook his head and tried to clear the cloudiness some more. It was then that he remembered the last thing he saw before he was shot. A Guardian. A filthy Guardian. He'd looked exactly like the drawings that had been passed down from the earlier generations. The Dolmoquor had burned the images into his memory. It was those images that had fueled his hate over the decades. And it was those images that had taken on life right before he lost consciousness. That could only mean one thing.... He quickly looked around the room he was restrained in. He was captive on a Guardian vessel. This would not bode well for the others.

With his mind slowly returning, Terry wondered if Harvey had been killed by the explosion and any possible mine detonations. He started looking at the other rooms, cells. There were no guards. Only other people; another bald alien and...Harvey. His hopes sank even more as he realized that he'd failed in his mission. "You survived," he said. "That's too bad."

Any hope of hearing remorse in Terry's voice had instantly evaporated. Harvey sat there stunned, almost as stunned as when his Chief of Security suddenly turned on him. Gone was the man whom Harvey had relied upon, whom inspired Harvey to have the 325th restored to the Black Hawk. In his place was something else entirely. "What's gotten into you, Terry?" the Captain asked, still struggling to understand everything that had been happening the last hour.

The Dolmoquor hesitated to answer as he searched through Terry's memories. In the meantime, Terry was calling out as loud as he could. It wasn't him. It hadn't been him. A smile crawled across his lips and he looked in the direction of Harvey's cell. "My dear Captain, all those months ago when my fighters were being swatted like flies, do you remember? You don't think that you and the Black Hawk were the only ones I was in communication with?" The next part wasn't exactly a lie, but it had nothing to do with what Terry was planting in Harvey's head. "We've been waiting a long time for this."

"Who's we?" Harvey demanded, his tone absolutely firm. "Consortium? Dolmo... Dolmo-whats-it? Waiting for what?"

"You know who we are," Terry replied. "And you know what we've been patiently waiting for." He was going to string Harvey along for as long as he could until he could escape. "Getting shot on your own bridge that time, though. That was shoddy work. Somebody else should have been shot for that. Just can't seem to get rid of you." He shook his head, though he wasn't sure if it could even be seen.

None of it made sense to Harvey. The suicides on the Vasco da Gama. The Selubassari stealing the probe. Being led on a wild goose chase with Penduli V being the fatal destination. Harvey felt played and used, which hurt even more considering his past dealings with the Golden Stars and Consortium. He had to look past words and their face values, an action especially harder now as the man he faced in the shadows had stood by him through it all. Terry couldn't have turned to the other side. Not willingly. No, there had to be something else here entirely.

"You two are insufferable," replied a waking Kemm, groaning under his own sense of pain. Though, he was unsure which was worse, recovering from a stunned phaser blast, or the bickering between two senior officers.

"You are not the only one to share that sentiment," replied an unknown voice. Harvey did not recognize it, but it was clearly being translated by the badge on his chest.

Without warning, the entire area was illuminated, strong lights emanating from above each captive, and also from the center of the room, revealing one Boreriri and two Aketi. "We meet again, Captain Geisler. I am Commander Varke."

"Again?" Harvey repeated, straining to both think and adjust his vision under the bright light. "The barrier... you tried to take us at the barrier."

"Outsiders are not welcome in this region of space," Varke snarled, standing now in front of Harvey's cell, blocking his view of Terry. "For more than a decade, we have destroyed or captured your probes that entered this space, and we thought we were ready for when you finally crossed the barrier. My only regret is that I did not destroy your ship while it was dead in the water. Curiosity got the best of us all, especially when it was clear none of you remembered what you were doing."

As much as he was enjoying antagonizing Harvey, Terry needed to figure out a way of escape. The bright lights had caused him to duck his head and tightly close his eyes. He didn't recognize either voice that was speaking, no matter how hard he tried to picture it. His eyes slowly adjusted to the illumination and he opened them. A moment of fright flashed in his mind as he saw the Boreriri and the Aketi...they matched the descriptions that he'd heard for decades. The Dolmoquor needed to escape now more than ever. "And it is that curious hesitation that will be your downfall!" he exclaimed.

Varke turned to look at the hairless human following his outburst. "It seems, Captain, that you've found the very thing we have sworn to never leave this region. "The Dolmoqour are a cancer on this galaxy. One that cannot be allowed to spread."

"Dolmoqour," Harvey muttered, now having the name to again commit to his memory. "I hate to tell you this, Commander, but I'm pretty sure your mission has failed. The planets just outside the barrier know of the Dolmoqour. Some have sworn allegiance."

The Triosian commander turned to face Harvey once more. "Have you, Captain Geisler, sworn allegiance? We know at least one of you three have." The Boreriri escort lifted a hefty pistol and aimed it at the Captain. The forcefield, however, was still up.

Harvey was forced to wonder whether or not the alien weapon could be stopped by the forcefield. He did not stare at the weapon, and instead locked eyes with Varke. "I serve Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets. We are a peacekeeping organization mandated for exploration."

Varke frowned, stepped forward to nearly press his face against the forcefield, and spat back, "You destroyed our ships. You attacked our people."

"We were defending ourselves!" Harvey shot back. "You yourself just said that you regretted not blowing us out of the sky! What did you expect us to do? Roll over and let you erase us from existence?"

Commander Varke furiously tapped a control stud beside the cell to deactivate the forcefield. Instantly, the Boreriri escort fired his weapon at Harvey, planting a small silver circle on Harvey's forehead. An electrical charge activated, sending small, lightening-like bursts throughout Harvey's body. The captive tensed, his muscles and joints locking under the electrical attack.

Terry listened to the rest of the exchange. Or rather, the Dolmoquor listened to it. Terry still heard it and saw what had just happened. He didn't understand it, but at least dying would be better than living like this the rest of his life. The parasite, on the other hand, tensed the host body. There were two other people in these cells with guards nearby. There was no hope of escape. No hope of getting off this ship. And, he feared, no hope for those on the Black Hawk.

The electrical disc that landed on Harvey's chest depleted its charge, allowing Harvey's muscles to release. He collapsed inward as best he could thanks to still being bound to the chair. None of the Guardians said anything aside from muted chatter after reviewing Harvey with a palm scanner. Harvey's forcefield remained down as Kemm's cell was released. Kemm stared the Guardians down, threat ganglia remaining inside his head, as the Boreriri fired a disc at him. Like Harvey, the Kelpien tensed up as the electrical charge performed its task. Moments later, as a depleted Kemm bowed his head to recover and a scan came back negative, the Guardians turned their attention to the last of their captives.

The Dolmoquor didn't say a word. What could it say anyway. They wouldn't listen. Instead, it pushed upwards as hard it could with Terry's body, exposing his chest. The Dolmoquor would go down as defiant as it ever had been.

One quick tap lowered the forcefield. As soon as it fell, the Boreriri fired, landing the electrical disc on Walsh's chest. The disc activated on impact.

The body tensed and muscles spasmed as the nervous system was being bombarded by electrical impulsed. This was the end of the mission for this Dolmoquor. As the pulses hit the host's brain, the Dolmoquor lost control. It could no longer hold on, no longer make this man it's puppet. Terry slumped forward, held in place by the restraints, as the parasite slid from his ear and fell to the floor. From the deep recesses of his mind, Terry Walsh slowly regained control of his body, as such as it was. Nothingness gave way to pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Varke fired his disruptor, eliminating the parasite once and for all. "The Dolmoqour are parasites, puppet masters," he declared, stepping away from the cells to check readouts on a display. The Boreriri and his escort stepped away as well, allowing a recovering Harvey to look at Terry with his one good eye. "No one is able to resist them. It took everything we had during the Great Conflict to contain them, corral them, and drive them back to their homeworld. If left unchecked, the Dolmoqour would control the galaxy, leaving us all to be their mindless hosts."

"This region... this zone..." choked Harvey as he kept his gaze on Terry. "The destruction. The poverty. You can't tell me that was your solution."

"The Dolmoqour cannot be allowed to escape and roam free, Captain."

"No," Harvey muttered, his gaze now looking at the crispy membrane beside Terry. Slowly, it was all starting to make sense. The suicides on the Vasco da Gama. The Selubassari's actions. It had all been an organized ploy, and the Black Hawk had been the bait from the very beginning. And now, Harvey realized it wasn't just bait. It had just become a Trojan Horse. Camila. Jayla. The Away Team. They'd have to have been possessed quickly on the surface, not knowing what they'd gotten into. He still had questions, including whether or not they'd been strung along this whole time.

"Surely you can see," Kemm interjected, slowly recovering from the electrical assault on his nervous system, "that your plan is no longer working. If the Dolmoqour are outside the zone, keeping the natives from advancing, and not finding every last Dolmoqour, the sacrifices made for the last several hundred years have been in vain."

"Terry," Harvey said gently before Varke could answer the question, wanting to see if there was anything left of the man who'd been with him through thick and thin. "How long has that been inside you?"

Terry never lifted his head. He couldn't look at the man he'd, well, his parasite, had berated since he left the ship. At least not right now. "I think since Lieutenant Cooper visited me on the Flight Deck. We have a regular meeting to go over and coordinate tactical stuff between our departments. We were in one of the offices off the Deck. I was going over the PADD she handed me. Seconds after that, I remember going into violent convulsions and then being forced into the back of my mind, unable to control anything."

"Cooper..." Harvey whispered, retracing the events of the day. Cooper had been assigned to the Away Team that went to Penduli V. If she had in turn infected Walsh, then it was only a matter of time before the Dolmoqour controlled every person on the ship.

"That is how they work," Varke confirmed, turning to look at the Captain now. "There is no resistance. There is no escape. Your ship is contaminated, and you must consider it lost."

"I can't do that, Varke," Harvey declared, using the Triosian's name and not rank hoping to level with him. "You freed Commander Walsh there. Freedom is possible."

"Our tactics only work in small amounts." Varke snatched the weapon from the Boreriri and showed it to the Captain. "Twelve discs per magazine. And the discs have to be handcrafted."

"We have a replicator," offered Kemm. "If the runabout is still intact, that is."

"Not so sure about what's left of the runabout," said Terry. He chuckled a little. "I wasn't made the Squadron Commander because I won an arm wrestling contest." The big guy still had his sense of humor, for which he was grateful. It looked like it was going to become a coping tool so long as he stayed with the Black Hawk. He sighed. "From what I can remember seeing but able to do nothing about, it took a pretty good beating. I can tell you though, there's probably nothing left of my fighter to use for spare parts. Damn thing blew it up."

Harvey looked back to Terry, unaware how well his bloodied and marred face had been illuminated by the lights above. "It wasn't your fault, Terry," he plainly stated. "You weren't yourself."

For the first time since being freed from his inner prison, Terry lifted his head. He looked in the direction of Captain Geisler's voice and shuddered. The man's visage looked like something from a horror holo-novel. And worse yet, it'd been his hands that tapped the controls. "I think I can eventually come to accept that, Captain. But not today. And even then, I'll always have the memories of what I said and did...the memories of screaming at the top of my lungs and not being heard...the memories of not being able to do anything about any of it. What's worse, so will Cooper and the rest of the crew that have these things in their brains. We have to get them out."

The Captain coughed as he attempted to grin. He supposed the electrical disc had performed a number on his nervous system, amplifying the pain from his injury. "I couldn't agree more, Commander." He looked to the lead Triosian. "Here's how I see it, Commander Varke. You want the Dolmoqour from taking over the galaxy. I want my ship and my crew back."

Varke frowned. "The only way to rid the Black Hawk's infestation is to destroy it."

"Several hundred years of maintaining the status quo will do that to a man," Harvey fired back. If he were able to stand and approach the Triosian, he would have. "Even you have to admit you don't like living like this. How about we make a deal? Give us three hours. If we can't retake the Black Hawk by then, you can blow it out of the sky."

"And how will I know the Dolmoqour won't possess you the moment you're aboard?"

Harvey looked over to Kemm and Terry before looking back to Varke. "You don't," he confessed. "Right now in your cells though, you have a doctor, an engineer, and a Marine. We don't believe in no-win scenarios. And, if we win, we'll have over seven hundred of the greatest minds from the Federation who might be able to help all of you in this region do something you haven't been able to in three hundred years."

Varke didn't reply. Throughout Harvey's monologue, the Triosian had slowly approached Harvey's cell. By now, he was standing just outside where the forcefield would have been. "And, what exactly is that?"

Captain Geisler mustered what he could of a smile. "Live."

Terry nodded, forcing the recent events to take a backseat as his Marine mindset began to take over. Oh yeah, they were going to retake the ship alright. These beings weren't going to be the only ones to live again. So would the crew of the USS Black Hawk.


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