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|Katana||Posted on Jun 2 2006, 02:52 AM|
| Damn yo!! Cool stuff in there.
Nice use of Oma's lines in there too.
|USSArizona||Posted on May 26 2006, 07:11 PM|
| Chapter 19: At the Beginning of Every End
A secondary explosion rocked Liberty’s Virtue, sending the crewmembers tumbling throughout the vessel. More explosions echoed through the ship as systems began to detonate and come apart. Cracks appeared in the outer hull armor as the inertial dampers failed and the ship began to twist itself into pieces.
Rose slowly stood up, gripping her head as blood began to leak through her hands. Wincing at the obvious injury, she staggered to the bridge intercom, noting that most of her bridge crew had been killed. The monitors were flickering and flashing all around her, giving the bridge an eerie feeling of doom. Shaking her head as she attempted to clear the cobwebs that seemed to be forming in her brain, she finally reached the bridge ship-wide intercom system.
“All hands, this is Col. Rose. Abandon ship! I repeat, abandon ship!”
Sparks flew out from the panel, catching her in the face. The white hot metal fragments burned her face as she fell towards the deck. Groaning, Rose closed her eyes.
The area around her was white, washed out. She was on the bridge of her ship, and a white light seemed to blind everything at the forward viewing port. The bridge itself was in immaculate condition with all of the chairs and monitors in the correct position. Everything seemed to be in perfect and complete working order. Rose shook her head as she slowly stood. Not feeling disoriented at all, she reached up and touched her forehead and brought her hand away.
Narrowing her eyes, she looked much more closely around the bridge.
There, standing in the back, was the Jedi Master Ari. Stepping forward, he opened both of his hands and spread out his arms in a welcoming gesture. “Your fate is in your hands.”
Confusion etched across her face, Rose just stared.
The Colonel’s announcement came over the intercom and was cut off just as quickly. Shaking his head, Major Shura continued to wire the explosives to the destroyed bridge door. Working next to him, Colonel Fel glanced in his direction with a grim look of worry etched upon his face. The way the transmission was cut off so quickly could not be a good thing.
Nodding to one another that they were finished, the two soldiers stepped backs as the Virtue’s deck plating twisted. Once again, they could hear more explosions as the Replicator ships continued to pound at the hated Liberty’s Virtue’s hull. As the ship heeled sharply to port, they both fell against that bulkhead as they strained to get a handhold. The lights flickered, once, twice, three times before the artificial gravity once again restored equilibrium and they could get their feet.
“This can’t be good,” yelled Fel to Shura over the noise of metal shrieking. “The ship is tearing itself to pieces!”
“I am NOT leaving without Lt. Col. Rose, sir!” Shura yelled back.
Nodding, Fel lead the way as they ducked behind a rather large piece of ceiling paneling. Pulling out the detonator, Major Shura flicked it open and pressed the detonate button.
A large column of fire blossomed as the C4 exploded, almost completely vaporizing what was left of the formerly stuck bridge door. Standing up and doing the best to ignore the ringing in their ears, the two began to run through the burning pieces of flooring, noting that the fire suppression system was currently non-functioning. Coming through the other side just slightly sunburned, Shura and Fel looked around what was left of the bridge.
Monitors were cracked and destroyed. Most of the crewmen had died at their stations, their bodies still strapped to the chairs, which, at times, weren’t even bolted to the floor any longer. The forward view-port had a large crack in it, and just outside of the bridge, Shura and Fel could several Replicators crawling across the surface of the vessel. Wadding through the collapsed wreckage of the bridge’s ceiling, the pair of US Air Force Special Ops soldiers eventually found Col. Rose. As quickly as they could, the two of them pulled the chair that had pinned her legs to the ground up, freeing her. As soon as he was able, Shura bent over and examined his commanding officer.
She was unconscious, the whole right side of her face, burned. Her legs appeared to be relatively uninjured, as was her upper body. Feeling a little bit better, Shura reached up to check her pulse and listen to her breath.
Her chest was barely rising and falling; hardly breathing. And her pulse was rapidly slowing.
She was slipping away.
Captain Peagis broke hard to starboard, his wing man, Mar’io, pulling the exact same maneuver. Spinning the small fighter in tight barrel roll, he managed to make the pursuing Replicator controlled Death Glider miss its upgraded staff weapon blasts. While he was doing this, Mar’io managed to side slip behind the ship. Mar’io fired one missile, catching the pursing Death Glider just above what had originally been its cockpit. The small fighter exploded, sending thousands of Replicator blocks spinning through space.
Looping back around, Peagis and Mar’io took a moment to survey the battlefield. Their squadron was doing fairly well with 9 of their original 12 fighters in the squadron still fighting. Rogue Squadron was still at full strength, but that was something that they had come to expect from the elite group of pilots. Most of the other squadrons were not doing nearly as well though. Many of them were coming back from their engagements completely obliterated or severely diminished.
The capital ship battle was going apace, however. They seemed to be fighting each other to a pretty decent standstill, with Liberty’s Virtue absorbing a good portion of the attacks. Her more powerful shields were keeping the vessel from being destroyed and helping to draw pressure away from the rest of the GFFA vessels that were currently fighting in the area.
Peagis watched as Liberty’s Virtue did a short, hyperspace jump and began hammering away at the interdictor cruisers. Finally, the vessel shut off their gravity well projectors and redistributed power to the shields. As he continued to watch, the GFFA vessels began to break through the lines and score more hits on the port interdictor, causing more armor to blow off into the vacuum of space. It was a site to behold and he thought the battle might actually be beginning to turn in their favor. However, all of that was shattered in the space of an instant as a gold beam struck the Virtue, coming from seemingly nowhere. It hit her shields, causing them to flare up in a milky blue-white before completely blowing through it. It impacted the vessel in the forward section of the ship, eating through deck plating as it stabbed deeper and deeper into the heart of the ship that he called his home. Finally, somewhat diminished, the beam emerged from the other side, continuing on the straight path line of site that it had before striking the Virtue, destroying one of the Replicator vessels completely.
Peagis’ mouth was open, staring out into the void. Liberty’s Virtue began to drift, leaking atmosphere as the flames licking the interior implosions quickly ran out of oxygen. She began to drift out of the engagement zone, spinning slowly in space as the ships thrusters fired once, twice, three times and finally died. The running lights went out, plunging the outside of the vessel into complete darkness. As he watched, escape pods began to eject themselves from all over the ship, thrusting towards the remaining Galactic Federation vessels.
Shaking his head, Peagis brought himself out of his stupor.
“Major Roberts, I reassigning the 302s to protect the escape Pods! We need to get those people to safety!”
“Acknowledged Captain. We have your wing.”
Putting all discretionary power into speed, Peagis and the remaining flights of 302s hurtled back into the fray, a deadly fire in their eyes as they fought to protect their own.
Rose raised her eyebrows as she approached the man that she once thought that she could love. Looking at him curiously, she gestured to the space surrounding them.
“What is this?”
He smiled as he approached, that cocky grin that she remember spreading across his face. “This is your chance, Anne. Your chance to reach… enlightenment.”
She thought for a moment before answering. “I am dead, aren’t I?”
“No,” he replied, sitting down upon the arm of the chair that had formerly been her command post. “At least, not quite yet.”
“Then why am I here? If there is a chance that I can pull through…”
Ari stopped her, shaking his head sadly. “It is highly unlikely.”
She nodded slowly, sitting down on what had originally been the engineering consol. Now she didn’t know what it represented. “Okay. So. Ascend me.”
Ari laughed again before patting her on the knee. “That is one of the things that I always loved about you Anne. You always had a sense of humor!” Chuckling a moment before shaking his head, he once again turned serious. “You know that once I became one with the Force, or to use your term, ASCENDED, I gained the knowledge of everyone within this galaxy. Therefore, I know perfectly well that you are aware of what is required for you to shed your former existence.”
Sighing, Anne slumped down in her seat. “This is my only chance, isn’t it?”
He nodded before gently pulling her chin up to look into her yes. “Unless you want to risk loosing everything that you are and were… yes.”
An explosion ripped across the bottom plane of the glowpoint’s containment vessel. Fire spread out through the bottom of the station, blasting out into space. The atmosphere quickly evacuated through the rather large hole in the bottom of the station, sucking everything in those corridors out into space.
“Well… I guess that is one way to solve that problem,” mumbled Flea as she shook her head. She was lying on the ground with her P-90 still attached to her vest, metal still shrieking and jarring all around her. Dust was still falling from the ceiling as she slowly began to stand. Through the viewport of the control substation they had been at, she could see the rather large hole the buildup Specialist Soaker had caused in the control system. It may have been too late to stop the initial shot… but it was for damn sure that Centerpoint would more then likely never be fired upon again. In fact, due to the rumbling and the unstable wobble the station had seemed to have to developed, not to mention the rather loud and annoying alarms that seemed to have permeated the atmosphere, it sure as hell seemed like the station wouldn’t be around too much longer.
“Soaker… we need to go.”
Groggily, the man stood and shifted where he had been partially buried underneath a piece of ceiling debris. Wincing, the man reached over and grasped his side, his right hand coming away slick and wet with blood. Giving a slight smile, Soaker toppled to the ground again.
“Soaker!” Flea exclaimed as she ran over to the injured scientist.
He nodded as she reached his side, looking down at his injury. Gingerly, she reached out to touch the skin. A gasp of pain escaped from the man’s lips as she encountered a nice hole and piece of metal in the young man’s side. Trying not to show the worry on her face that she was feeling in her heart, Flea reached out with the Force and touched Soaker’s essence.
He was weak, but still showing a strong presence in the Force. Gingerly, she reached out and channeled the Force through her. Her brow furrowed as she concentrated, attempting to help the young man heal. Grimacing, she reached out and attempted to put even more concentration and power behind her will to heal her friend. But nothing seemed to be happening.
Finally, gasping for air, her eyes opened. Super gave her a brave smile.
“It’s okay. I think you helped some… the pain is less,” he said, wincing as he sat up. Flea shuddered as she dealt with the fatigue flowing through her from attempting to draw so much on the Force. She sat back for a moment and closed her eyes, attempting to re-center herself. Opening her eyes, she looked down at the wound.
It did not seem as bad as it had before, and that, at least, was a good sign. It was still bleeding, however, but some of the nerve endings seemed to be calmed. Grabbing some of the bandages that had come in the First Aid kit the Earthlings had sent over with the weapons, she quickly field dressed the wounds. Even as she got them completely covered, however, she could already see blood beginning to leak through them.
“We need to get you to a Bacta tank,” Flea stated.
“Well, no shit,” came Super’s sarcastic reply. “What are you going to tell me next? That you finally will give into my roguish charms and jump into bed with me?” He winced as he stood, but that self-assured, haughty smile never left his face. “I mean… even wounded…”
“Don’t finish that sentence,” Flea said as she too, smiled and stood. Reaching out, she placed her shoulder underneath his right arm, opposite from his injured side. “And if we make it out of this… then yes, sure, I will sleep with you.”
“Whoohoo! All right!” Super exclaimed as he short of jumped up in air. His yell of triumph quickly turned into a yelp of pain as he pulled on his left side. Bending and doubling over in pain, he looked up at Flea, that same smile on his face but tears welling up in his eyes. “Well…” he ground out. “I guess we know that I definitely should NOT do that again.”
Frustrated, Rose plopped down. “This isn’t working.”
“If you immediately know the cand…”
“Don’t even start that crap,” Rose stated in an irritated voice.
“Fine, fine. If you don’t want to do it the whole mystical mumble jumble way, we will just have to try something else,” Ari said as he sat down. Closing his eyes, he leaned forward before speaking again. “Okay. The one thing that you have to remember is that the most important part of this is putting your former existence into its proper context. What did you learn? Why type of life did you lead? Were you HAPPY with your life?”
“I can honestly say that I don’t quite know.”
Ari sighed for a moment before putting his hand on her knee. “Look. Fact of the matter is this. You can’t reach what you are trying to achieve if you don’t believe that you are worthy. It is as plain and simple as that.”
“How am I supposed to feel worthy? I mean, sure, I have done many things in my life, but none of them seem to make me feel like I am worthy of this chance!”
“Ah, but you are,” stated Ari as he leaned back. “You are this far BECAUSE you are worthy. And because of the fact that you had already begun to push yourself down the path to enlightenment. I am merely here to make sure you complete that journey.”
“But why me,” Rose asked. “Why me? Of all of the people I have lost in the fighting these past two years, how many of them have ascended? How many of them have been offered this chance.”
“You know that I have no way to answer that,” stated Ari. “I am sure that some of them were able to make it through the path of Enlightenment. But this is not about everyone else. This is about you and how you feel about your effect on the universe and your surroundings.” He stopped for a moment, his brow creased with concentration. “You know, there is only one thing is this whole universe that we can control completely and without question. In this, you have done unswervingly well.”
Curious, Rose stood up and walked over to Ari. Getting on her knees before him, she looked deep into his intelligent blue eyes. Speaking softly, she reached out and touched his cheek. “And… and what is that?”
“Whether we are good… or evil.”
The ship rocked hard to starboard as the final overload detonated the last engine thruster. Liberty’s Virtue was spinning uncontrollably through space. While the pace from the outside of the vessel looked unbelievably slow, the inside of what remained of Earth’s greatest technological space achievement was in shambles as it twisted and spun at what felt like an unbelievably fast pace. Parts flew and ceiling pieces fell to the ground as the artificial gravity and inertial dampners fluctuated in their output.
Fel and Shura came staggering around the corner, carrying Col. Rose on their shoulders as they stumbled through the ship.
“You know… I am going to have a lengthy discussion with someone when this all over with,” yelled Fel over the screech of metal on metal.
All that Shura could do was nod as they fought against the G-Forces that threatened to throw them and the unconscious Colonel Rose into the bulkhead.
Finally, however, the constant spinning motion seemed to cease. They were able to stand up straight and they looked around confused. Not only did it feel like the ship had stopped spinning, but the rest of the ship seemed to have settled down into a normal operating pattern.
Narrowing his eyes, Fel gestured Shura to lay Col. Rose onto the ground. Shura nodded to Fel as the Col. picked up his P-90 and began to advance down the corridor.
More fallen pieces of ceiling and wall greeted him as he turned the corner. His P-90 up and ready, Fel quickly swept the area just ahead before gesturing back to Major Shura to bring Col. Rose forward. Moving cautiously forward again, Fel began to feel more and more uneasy. Something about this entire current situation was bothering him.
He heard a sound ahead and snapped his P-90 up into position as Lt. Neo rounded the corner, his weapon also in a guard position, pointed directly at Fel. Quickly, Fel gestured for Neo to hit the deck, as his listen check had just detected a sound down the next corridor. Knowing exactly what the sound was and fearing what it would mean, Fel peered around the next corner…
Where he was greeted with the site of at least a hundred Replicators and Warrior bugs traveling down the corridor towards him.
Yelling at Neo to fall back, he grabbed a grenade from his belt, pulled the pin, and tossed it around the corner. He heard it clatter and rattle for a moment before the resulting explosion nearly deafened him in the narrow confines of the Virtue. After the dust had settled for a moment, he heard the unmistakable sound of some of the Replicator blocks reforming.
Turning and running back towards Neo, Rose and Shura, he yelled at them to start moving back towards the bridge.
‘Now how are we going to get out of here,’ he thought.
(Insert Ascension music from Stargate SG-1’s Season Five Episode: Meridian)
Rose looks around irritably.
“Where the fuck is that music coming from?!”
The Mon Calamari Cruisers were finally able to punch through the Replicator controlled shields and began scoring hits on the outer hull. Laser scoring turned once pristine armor into black patches of carbonized dust and metal as they boiled off armor plating. Subsequent hits pitted the armor even deeper, causing the holes in the decks to widen even more as many of the ship’s corridors were exposed to explosive decompression. The remaining atmosphere in those sections of the ship rushed out into space, dissipating in the nothing that composed the area between the planets, moons, stars, and other celestial bodies. Corpses of the former crewman of those ships could be seen tumbling out into space, either killed when the Replicators and Unlatril had invaded the ship, or when the sections they were held in were exposed to vacuum. Either way, the area of space was quickly turning into a graveyard of sorts, with bodies twisting and tumbling, sometimes impacting other starfighters or pieces of debris.
Captain Peagis shook his head. The Virtue was now in the grip of a tractor beam that was pulling it towards the Replicator Star Destroyers. The hole in her hull still glistened and crackled as the tractor was putting more stress on the already damaged superstructure.
“We can’t let them take the ship, Major Roberts.”
“No, I agree. What do you suggest?” came the instant reply.
“We unload everything we have at the hole in her hull. Destroy her.” His voice was quiet, sad. He could see that most of the escape pods had been jettisoned from the undamaged portion of the ship, with the remaining ones seeming too damaged to even fly. “If there is even anyone else left aboard her, they are more then likely too hurt to make it to an escape pod.”
Silence reigned over the communication system. “What are your orders, Captain?”
“Get… get into wing pairs. Squadron commanders, prepare to fire your high explosive charges on my command. Individual fighters, wait until your squadron leaders give you the fire command. We are going to have one shot at this before they move in to stop us.”
The squadron commanders slowly reported in that they were ready.
“Prepare to fire on my mark. Five…. Four….”
“You know… I don’t know what I wouldn’t have given just a few hours ago to have your hands all over me.” Soaker winced and drew in a deep, labored breath. “But now… I don’t know what I would give to be just laying down, all alone, with some bacta patches on me.”
Flea shook her head and looked down worriedly at the wound on his side. It had already begun to bleed through the bandages… the third set she had put on in as many hours. He just wasn’t healing, and all of this moving around and hiding from the remaining Replicator and Unlatril survivors was taking its toll on his already fragile and injured body as well. Unfortunately, there was literally nothing more that she could do for him until they either got back to a medical frigate or were able to get to another Jedi, one more schooled in the healing arts.
Gently, she set him down. The station was still rumbling and shaking from whatever he had done to cause the glowpoint to blow a hold in the bottom of it. It felt like the whole damn place was coming apart, and more then likely, it was.
“You know,” Super commented as she stood above him and peered around the next corner. “You really do have a hot ass.”
Smiling to herself, she kicked him lightly in the leg, still making sure that the route to the landing bay was clear.
“Hey! Come on now! Give an injured man some slack!”
She turned around and saw that his eyes were closed, his body rigid with the pain. His face had become a very pale color as more blood continued to seep through the bandages. That cocky, happy smile had still not left his face the whole time, however.
“Come on Super. It is time to get you out of here.”
Gingerly, she knelt down and placed her left arm underneath his right. Smiling, he put his right arm over her shoulders and winced in obvious pain. As the sensation rolled over him, he nearly blacked out for a moment before shaking his head and coming to.
“Wow. I don’t want that to happen again,” he groaned.
Gingerly, the two headed off towards the landing bay. Most of the trip was uneventful; with the exception of Super’s breathe growing more and more ragged as he walked. Finally, they reached the docking bay, where one Lambda class shuttle was situated.
Flea gently sat Specialist Soaker down next to the door, handing him his P-90 and remaining clips as he sank to the ground next to the wall. Nodding to her to continue, she ran quickly towards the shuttle.
The ramp was down when she arrived. Cautiously, Flea extended her sphere of responsibility out to about 30 meters. While this would speed her detection by any Unlatril that were in the area, hopefully she would be able to sense any of them if there were waiting in the shuttle.
No danger sense or anything of the like was coming through her Force meld.
Suddenly, the station rock again as the alarms started blaring. As she watched, a proton torpedo came hurtling through the magcon field and detonated against the opposite wall about 300 yards away. The force of the concussion explosion knocked her over and onto her back.
The world turned black.
They were stuck.
Fel, Shura and Neo had managed to get Colonel Rose back into the bridge and barricaded themselves in. Here, they were able to protect the Colonel as they attempted to find a way out of here. Fel and Shura stood guard at the two entrances while Neo was in the command interface, his arms buried in a mass of wires and chips. Col. Rose was on the ground in the middle of the room, not far from the three of her most trusted officers.
“Hold in there Mme,” Neo said as he continued to pull circuit boards out and reconnect them. “Just hold in there.”
Behind them, Fel heard a noise in the corridor. Grimacing, he reached into his belt and drew out his last grenade. Pulling the pin, he tossed it down the corridor.
The weapon rattled for a moment on the metal of the hallway before hitting what sounded like a different type of metal then what the ship was made out of. Finally, it detonated; showering the entire area as far back as Fel was hiding with Replicator pieces.
Rising from his position, Fel began firing suppression shots from his P-90, destroying the few bugs that were currently closest to him. Dimly, he could hear Shura’s weapon doing the exact same thing behind him. They were attacking from both of the entrances now.
“Three… two… one… Fire!!!” said Peagis into the comm.
Each of the remaining X-Wings fired a pair of torpedoes, 20 in all. The F-302s each fired as well, showering the area with clusters of 4 missiles a piece as they accelerated to their target. In all, 60 plus explosive devices accelerated towards the gaping hole in the Liberty’s Virtue.
“Col. Rose… I am sorry,” whispered Peagis into his mike.
“Well… better late then never I always say.”
Prometheus flashed into existence right next to the offending Interdictor cruiser, along with the Asgard vessel, the Daniel Jackson. Quickly, the two vessels overcame the interdictor’s shields and destroyed three of the four gravity well projectors. Flames shot out of the sides ship as it began to break apart and drift. The remaining Replicator and Unlatril ships, realizing that they were far outnumbered, quickly regrouped. Turning around they fled into the relative safety of hyperspace.
Of course, none of this stopped the torpedoes and missiles that were already on their way. They hit the Virtue, slamming into deck after unprotected deck as they ate deeper and deeper into its superstructure. Finally, one found its way to the naquadria cells that were powering the ship’s hyperdrive engines. Quickly, the volatile metal overloaded and exploded, sending pieces of the once proud Daedalus class ship, Earth’s most powerful space craft, hurtling through space.
Nothing was left of Liberty’s Virtue except for a few pieces of slowly spinning debris.
Peagis sagged forward in his seat, unsure of what to feel or how he could feel. He had just destroyed his home… and more then likely his commanding officer along with it.
“Captain Peagis,” his comm. unit crackled to life. “General O’Neill requests your presence and that of Mar’io aboard Prometheus, immediately.” The communications officer paused for a quick moment. “And he says that you had better hurry.”
She awoke slowly, a gaping hole in the far side of the bay where the torpedo had detonated. Ragged explosions could still be heard all over the as it took hit after hit from what were probably lasers, concussion missiles and proton torpedoes. She could see the smoke beginning to build in the rather large bay, as well as feel the heat from the flames as they began to eat up the oxygen. She groaned as she turned over, her hand hitting cold metal as it came to rest on her P-90. She pulled the weapon towards her as she attempted to push herself up.
Her body did not want to comply.
Groaning, she rolled over again onto her stomach, reaching back for Soaker.
He wasn’t there.
She sat bolt up-right and looked across the bay towards where she had left her friend. He was still there, slumped down against the wall, his head down and eyes closed, his P-90 laying on the ground about five yards from him. A cry of terror, pain, and fear escaped her lips as she got up and ran to her fallen friend, skidding to s top next to him, almost slipping and falling in the pool of blood that had begun to collect around him.
Gently she reached out and felt the spot on his side. It was completely caked and soaked with blood. The blood itself was still soaking through the rest of his jacket.
“Soaker, come on hon. We need to go.”
He didn’t respond.
Her hands shaking, she reached forward and checked for his pulse.
He was gone.
Her eyes began to fill with tears as she gently lifted his body. The station was beginning to come apart now. Deck plating was crumpling and buckling beneath her as she ran, carrying the body of her fallen comrade. Once she was in the ship, she gently laid him on the passenger bed. Running into the cockpit, she quickly began the preflight sequence.
Boosting the shuttles engines to full power, Flea hurtled out of the docking bay. On her sensor screen, she watch as GFFA ships continued to pound the station flat. Finally, it broke up and just began to drift apart. No spectacular explosion. No… nothing. Just pieces of the station slowly tumbling through space, soon to be captured by the planets or sun of the Corellian system.
“This… this is Jedi Flea to the GFFA group commander. Requesting permission to dock.”
“Request granted Madame Jedi. The Admiral sends his congratulations.”
“Thank you. Shuttle O’Malley out.”
She leaned back for a moment, her eyes beginning to once again fill up with tears. Unbuckling her restraints, she headed back to the cabin.
He was gone.
Eyes full of tears, she nodded and collapsed on the bed he had once occupied.
Peagis and Mario’s F-302s landed moments apart from each other. Opening the canopies, the two quickly hopped out of their fighters, not even waiting for the maintenance crews to bring them a set of ladders. Quickly, they ran off down the corridors of the ship to the infirmary.
It was just like any other doctor’s office they had ever been in. Monitors and lights flashed continuously as they kept track of the vitals of each patient. This, however, was not their ultimate stopping point. They continued on past the main infirmary to the isolation. There, they were greeted with a very different, yet extremely familiar sight.
On a bed in the middle of the room was Col. Rose. Her eyes were closed with several monitors still attached to her body. Her life signs were weak and getting weaker by the minute as he body slowly succumbed. Standing around her was General O’Neill, Colonels Carter Fel, Teal’c, Major Shura and Lt. Neo. Peagis and Mar’io quietly walked into the room as they took all of their comrades in.
“I am glad to see you alive, sirs,” Peagis said softly to Col Fel and Major Shura. “What is the Colonel’s prognosis?”
Major Shura just shook his head as they all looked on.
A white flash enveloped them.
Mar’io, Peagis, Fel and Shura suddenly found themselves on the bridge of the Virtue. Once again, most of the forward view-ports were completely washed out as if a bright, white light was coming from outside the ship and shinning in. The bridge was in perfect and immaculate condition, showing none of the battle damage that it must have taken.
Peagis looked over curiously at Fel. “What is going on, Sir?”
Fel just shrugged uneasily and began to move towards the center of the bridge area. Peering down at the Captain’s chair, he noticed that the readouts were completely blank. Nothing was on the screen at all with the exception of intermittent static.
A noise at the back of the bridge drew their attention. When they looked up, they saw, standing before them, was Col. Rose.
(Music begins to play again)
“Hello,” she said softly.
The three officers instantly saluted with Mar’io approaching her, a wondering look in his eyes. “Col. Rose, where are we?”
“And what is that music?!” asked Peagis.
She looked up irritably. “Oh, that is just music set to increase the drama and the tension. I got it to stop before, but it appears to have come back.” She sigh as she walked forward, that smile still on her face. “Just try to ignore it for the time being.”
Shura walked forward. Sitting down directly in front of his commanding officer, he looked deep into her eyes. “You are ascending, aren’t you? You brought us here to say goodbye?”
Rose nodded, that smile still not leaving her face. “I wanted to tell you, my friends, that I will always be with you. No matter what happens or where you go. I will be with you.”
They all stepped forward, one by one, giving her a salute and a hug. Finally, Fel was the last.
The main stepped forward and looked deep into her eyes. Quickly, he saluted. “It was a pleasure serving with you Mme. You will be missed.”
”I will miss you all too,” she said, tears in her eyes.
The area around them began to swirl and melt…
Each of them found themselves back in the isolation room of the infirmary. On the bed, they watched as Rose’s body began to glow. Finally, it became a pure white light as her spirit began to float in the air. A face appeared in the swirling white mass and smiled at each of them, before fading out and disappearing completely.
“She said that she would always be with us,” Peagis mumbled.
O’Neill nodded. “They have a way of turning up when you least expect them to. Just don’t forget her… and she will not forget you all.”
O’Neill, Teal’c and Carter walked out, leaving the four of them to stand around her bed. Eyes full of tears, they looked to the spot where she had disappeared.
In a far corner of the galaxy, a shadowy being stood up from its throne.
She was dead.
Now… they could move forward.
To Be Continued…
|Peagis||Posted on Apr 26 2006, 08:26 PM|
|USSArizona||Posted on Apr 19 2006, 08:54 PM|
| Chapter 18: A Long Time Ago
Rose’s mind slowly swam back up to consciousness. As she blinked out the tears that were in her eyes, she began to look around the medical ward, attempting to take it all in. Standing next to her bed was Jedi Bash, his eyes closed, hand on her forehead with his other hand touching Col. Fel’s head. His eyes had just opened as well, and they were alert and moving. Slowly, Rose began to sit up, pushing herself into a sitting position as Bash’s hand fell from her forehead to his side, a smile of relief upon his face. Just on the other side of him, Fel began to sit up as well, the stoic look that usually was upon his absent. It was replaced by a look of relief as he saw Rose sitting up. Bash opened his eyes and sat down on the chair just behind him, a sigh of relief escaping his lips.
“You had us worried for a bit there Colonel Rose,” Jedi Bash stated, his eyes filled with weariness. “When you went unconscious, we had no idea what was going on. This was nothing really physically wrong with you except for the fact that you began to just die and shut down.”
Rose shuddered, the memories of her recent experience flashing to the foreground.
“Yes, I was under attack by a very powerful Unlatril. It was like nothing I had ever felt in my life.”
”Nor will you ever. The mental attack was extremely powerful… it knocked you completely out. By the time we realized that it had left a bit of itself within you to finish the job, it was almost too late.”
Fel shook his head as he propped himself up on his elbows. “So, we decided to help you. Not that you really needed it because your willingness to survive and not give in is what ultimately saved you from Valnex.”
Rose shuddered, the memories of the mental torture still fresh in her mind. Visions flashed through her consciousness, the ordeal of the past few hours putting a searing reminder of the power of this enemy. Sighing, Rose rolled over and looked at her two smiling comrades, both who only seemed to be relieved that she was still alive.
“What is the current status?”
Bash shrugged, his gaze looking out the window.
“The Replicators are continuing the blockade of Centerpoint. We have completely pushed everything else out of the system and are making sure that the Replicators can’t reinforce their forces there. Other then that, General O’Neill has convinced the GFFA of the threat that the Replicators pose and are sending the 3rd Fleet here to help hold the system.”
Rose nodded, her face still looking slightly haggard. “Well, that is good news at least. Have we been able to find where the Replicators’ new base is?”
Fel shook his head, a worried expression on his face. “No, but reports have begun to filter in from the Outer Rim territories. Several systems along the corridor of space from where we entered the galaxy to this point have not been communicating with the rest of the GFFA. We fear that they may be overrun.”
Rose shook her head, still trying to pull her mind out of the groggy mire that she had been enveloped in for the past five days. “Okay. Well, the Unlatril and the Replicators in this system will have to wait. There is something that we need to do. A place we need to go.”
Bash sat quietly and looked at her, seeming to reach out through the Force. “You picked some up from Valnex… didn’t you?”
Rose just shook her head in an uneasy way. “Yes… but I am not sure if it is a trap or something else. We already know that the Replicators are working with the Unlatril… so it could be some kind of elaborate ploy to simply pull me out of the system.”
Bash thought for a moment. “Sort of like being foolish fools, huh?”
A smile tugged at the corners of Rose’s mouth as she chuckled at Bash’s obvious attempts at humor. “Well, at any rate, we still need to make a decision and act on it. Right now, there is nothing that we can really do. Do we have an update on Specialist Soaker inside of Centerpoint?”
Fel nodded as he swung his legs over the side of the bio bed, standing and beginning to stretch a little bit. “We have heard from him. He has met up with a Jedi by the name of Flea within Centerpoint. We honestly don’t know how she got in there or why she IS in there, but they are working together to attempt to shut down the station’s main reactor and shield system so that we can get them out of there. They are also still attempting to find out what the Replicators and Unlatril actually want with Centerpoint.”
Anne finally stood, shaking the last bit of grogginess out of her head. “Well, he is one of the keys that we are looking for. First, I need to find out about the lock. The only way to do that is Luke Skywalker…”
“Ouch! That hurt!” Flea exclaimed.
They were crawling along in an access tunnel that was far too small for Soaker but more then large enough for the smaller bodied Flea. Soaker was leading, his Earth made P-90 held out in front of him as he attempted to crawl as quickly as possible.
“Yeah, well, it wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t so insistent in burying your face in my ass and pushing me faster then I should be going in here! Then I wouldn’t be kicking you in the face all of the time!” Soaker retorted in an angry, yet playful manner.
“Yes, well, my face wouldn’t be in your ass if you would… just… move… your… lazy… ass… faster!”
“Shut up. You know you like it there.”
Flea stopped for a moment, a stunned expression on her face. Soaker on the other hand just kept crawling, a slight smile on his face.
Shaking her head, Flea glared after the departing Soaker. “I hate you so much,” she mumbled underneath her breathe as she continued to crawl.
“Colonel Rose, I am going to ask you, one final time, if you will please stay here. We need your expertise, along with that of your crew, if we are going to keep the Replicators and Unlatril where they are. Also, where you are going, searching for Master Skywalker, is not an easy task. His current location is on the other side of the Replicator invasion corridor.”
“Your concern is noted, but unneeded,” Rose replied. “I will be taking only my vessel. It should be able to slip through the corridor, unnoticed, without too many problems. We have learned how to avoid detection by those little bugs.”
Captain Ren sighed, still looking very highly annoyed on her end of the transmission. “Very well. But I would like you to take Major Roberts and Rogue Squadron with you. They have all of the necessary codes to get through the GFFA check points, along with a good fighting ability if you need it in order to make it to Ossus.”
Rose nodded with a slight incline of her head. “Thank you very much. We will keep you up to date through the Holonet.”
“Very well. Anakin’s Revenge out.”
Static filled the forward view screen as Rose shook her head. While Captain Ren usually did all that she could, it seemed, to make Anne’s life a living hell, this was not one of those times. She seemed to genuinely want her to stay in the system. Not that she could. Not now.
“Prepare to engage hyperdrive. Please call Major Roberts to the bridge.”
“Yes Mme,” Lieutenant Push said from his place at the comm.. “He is currently with Captain Peagis and Mar’io, testing out simulations of X-Wing vs. 302s. Should I interrupt?”
Rose thought for a moment and shook her head. “No, I will got and meet them. Please ask Col. Fel and Major Shura, along with Jedi Bash to meet us in the simulators. Lets check out and see how good our best is against theirs.”
“Yes Mme.,” Push said, issuing the correct orders.
Smiling to herself, Rose got up from the command chair and began to head down to the hanger deck where the simulators were.
Outside, the [i[Liberty’s Virtue[/i] slowly swung away from the fleet. Gradually picking up speed, the Deadalus class vessel headed quickly out of the system. As soon as the ship had gained enough momentum, she jumped to lightspeed, unbeknownst to her crew that one of them would never return to this system again.
Peagis pulled the stick back, allowing his 302 to head in the relative ‘up’ direction. Directly behind him, he could see on his monitor that the pursuing X-Wing was easily able to match the maneuver, keeping pace with the speeding fighter and staying on his six.
‘Well,’ Peagis thought. ‘If I can’t my ship can’t beat his, I am just going to have to out-fly him.’
Putting the small fighter into a tight barrel roll, Cpt. Peagis began a tight maneuver designed to shake the targeting lock. Twitching the stick back and forth to send the fighter on an erratic course throughout the roll, Peagis quickly pulled the stick up into a tight maneuver, attempting to make a large Yeager Loop and bring him onto his pursuer’s six. Of course, just as he expected, the quicker X-Wing stayed right with him, gaining distance. He head the targeting warning began to sound as he cut all engines and generated a back flow through his engines, effectively ‘putting on the brakes’.
He watched the scanner as the quicker vessel overshot his position, its quick reflex laser shots flashing just outside of his viewport. Grinning to himself, Peagis fired a pair of missiles directly where the X-Wing would be. He watched as they intersected on the shields, sending showers of sparks across the engines next to the astromech and completely blowing them out.
Picking up speed once again, Peagis watched as the quicker fighter began to jink and juke, dancing through the stars as he attempted to shake the Captain’s targeting lock. Firing his last two missiles and driving the X-Wing back into his line of fire, Peagis opened up with the newly installed miniature rail gun, tearing through the back of the X-Wing’s fuselage. As the supersonic bullets intersected with the fuel supply, the tiny fighter tore itself apart and imploded, completely destroying the enemy fighter.
A light flashed up on the screen in front of him, signaling that the exercise was over. Grinning as perspiration fell down his face, he popped open the egress hatch and allowed the harsh, artificial light to flow into the simulator. Slowly undoing his restraints and stepping out, he saw Major Roberts stepping out of his own simulator, a smile on his jovial face.
“Nice move there with the second pair of missiles. I was not expecting that,” he said with an outstretched arm.
Peagis stepped forward and took it, giving the man a firm hand shake. “Well done yourself. You are a very formidable flier and I was lucky to even get that shot at you in the first place.”
“Well done you two,” Col. Rose stated as she approached the pair of pilots. “I am glad to see that we are all working well together. That will come in handy rather soon, I am sure.”
Both of the officers snapped to attention as they realized that their commanding officer had entered the room with them. Roberts, of course, was a little more casual about this as she was not technically his superior, but rather his CO for just this mission.
“We have just left the Correllian system. I wanted to let both of you know that will more then likely be passing through Replicator and Unlatril controlled space in about three hours.”
“Are we expecting any trouble there Colonel?” Roberts asked.
“No, we are not. But I want you both to have your fighter wings ready to go. I am just getting an uneasy from the pit of my stomach,” she said with an uneasy expression on her face. “It has been growing ever since we left Correllia, and I don’t know why.”
”Well… could it be the Force?” Peagis asked, a questioning look in her eyes.
“Jedi Bash says yes,” Rose stated in a hesitating manner. “But the fact is that right now I know just enough about the Force and my abilities in it to be both a danger to myself and to my allies.”
Roberts nodded. “That is very fair. It takes most Jedi quite a few years to come as long as you have down that path.” His eyes got a far away look in them for a moment. “I should know. My son is currently training on Ossus… and I haven’t seen him in five years.”
Peagis slapped the man on the back and gave him a wide grin. “Well… this will be your chance to see him then, won’t it? You will have to introduce us!”
Roberts chuckled, smiling at Peagis in thanks. “Yeah, sure, what do I tell him? ‘Son, this is my friend Captain Peagis. He is from Earth… a planet that is in a galaxy far, far away’.”
Peagis frowned for a moment. “Yeah… that could be a problem.”
The trio of them laughed, the sound echoing across the expanse of the Hanger bay.
“Shh,” whispered Flea, he voice coming across annoyed in the quieted tones of her voice. “We can’t be seen here. We are too close.”
Soaker nodded, for once, actually serious. Leaning down he peered into the room below him. Several of the mechanical bugs were crawling all over the consoles, seeming to do so with a purpose. Soaker was really surprised at what exactly they were doing. Raising his eyebrow, he gestured down at the panels, asking Flea to take a look and see what was going on.
Cautiously, Flea peered down into the room as well. When her head came up, she was as baffled as he was. It appeared that they were powering up the glowpoint.
Soaker’s eyes’ went wide with surprise and fear.
Powering up the glowpoint could only mean one thing.
Sweat was pouring down her brow. The remote flashed before her, moving quickly enough to give her a headache… and yet she did not care. Her green lightsaber snapped up, deflecting the remote’s stinging shot away from her face and back towards the unit. As it hit, sparks flew from the point of impact, completely shutting the small unit down.
Wiping the sweat from her face, Rose looked over at Bash who was quietly applauding her from his relaxed position in the corner.
“Well done Colonel. You have really begun to open yourself up.”
“Thank you,” she said as she deactivated the lightsaber and handed it back to him. “The more I open myself up to it, however, the more uneasy my feelings get. I feel like something is approaching, either a turning point or some momentous occasion where things could go either way. The Force is trying to tell me something and I haven’t been able to figure out what that is yet.”
Bash narrowed his eyes as he looked at his young padawan. Well… young in the Force.
“You cannot allow your fears to cloud what you see. Whatever happens will happen. We will all play our part as the Force intends for us to play it.”
Rose nodded as she sits down. “Yes, I understand that. But a part of it makes it even worse. I mean, are we in charge of our own destiny? Do we actually have any control over who we are and what we become? Or is it all predetermined by this mystical energy source of life called ‘The Force’?” Rose shook her head and leaned back, a haggard and tired expression upon her face. “The fact is that this is a question that has plagued man-kind for hundreds of years. But now, with all of this new found knowledge that I have, it is hard for me to take one step forward without second guessing that step!”
Bash shook his head as he sat down next to her, placing a comforting hand on her knee. Rose began to tear up a little bit as she looked deep into his eyes. Quietly, he spoke into her ear, his voice barely that above a whisper. “You must act as you always have. This only adds a layer to your personality. It does not destroy who and what you were before.”
Nodding, tears still in her eyes, Rose embraced Bash in a tender hug, pulling him close and not seeming to want to let go. Finally she did, just enough so that they were looking deep into one another’s eyes. Slowly, they came together, their lips just lightly brushing each other, before Bash pulled her in closer and they began to kiss with a passion that both had needed for so long.
Slowly, the passion between the two built as they allowed their feelings for each other to be shared and explored.
“We have to stop them,” whispered Soaker to Flea. “Whatever they are going to be aiming at with Centerpoint it cannot be good.”
She nodded, looking down into the room.
“What should we do?” was her whispered response.
Soaker shrugged and glanced down into the room again. “Well… there are a LOT of them in there. We need to kill a few before we head in there. I have used one of these before,” he said as he drew a grenade from his belt. “One of these SHOULD be able to kill most of the bugs. From there… we can figure out the best way to stop them from firing at something.”
Soaker closed his eyes as he drew the pin out of the grenade. Holding it just before him, he tossed it into the corner that was closest to the largest concentration of bugs in the area. Quickly pulling his head back inside and covering his ears, Flea and him both heard and felt the large ‘Boom’ as the grenade detonated. The sound seemed to echo down the small shaft that they were hiding in, causing their ears to ring in pain. Finally, they looked up and once again, realized they couldn’t hear anything. Shaking his head, Soaker peered down into the room.
To view a scene of utter destruction.
Little blocks of the bugs were everywhere, with a few of the units still intact and moving. A large crater had appeared next to the wall where the detonation had taken place, almost punching into the next room. None of the tables and chairs had survived the destruction of the grenade either.
However, none of this worried him so much as the damage to the main control consol.
Soaker hopped down into the room, Flea directly behind him. Quickly, they destroyed the remaining bugs and the one Shadow Beast that had come to investigate the detonation. As soon as the threats were eliminated, Soaker ran to the consol while Flea moved to secure the hatch. Shaking his head, Soaker bent over the consol and lightly touched a few of the buttons.
The screen seemed to flash for a moment before blinking rapidly… and going dark.
“Uh oh,” Soaker stated, looking down and shaking his head.
“What?!” yelled Flea in return.
Outside the protective glass, the glowpoint continued to build in energy.
Rose rolled over, a sleepy smile upon her face. She gently wrapped her left arm around Bash’s neck as she cuddled in closer to him, laying her head upon his chest. Closing her eyes, Rose smiled in contentment as she listened to his heartbeat.
Smiling back, Bash reached over and gently stroked her hair, continuing to hold her close. The two looked deep into each others’ eyes, just reveling in the moment of relaxed contentment.
A loud bang came from the engine room, startling the two out of their reverie.
“Col. Rose and Jedi Bash to the bridge! Battle stations! All pilots to their fighters!” rang out Major Shura’s voice over the intercom.
Quickly, the two got dressed, the ship shaking and rattling around them. As soon as they were dressed, the pair ran to the bridge, the ship feeling like it was coming apart around them.
“Jeez, you can stop yelling now,” muttered Soaker. “I can hear YOU just fine.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Flea, shaking her head ruefully. “Are you going to be able to fix that or not?”
Soaker narrowed his eyes as he bent down to his task. “I don’t know what they are doing. It seems like they have narrowed the glowpoint and the weapon down, giving the beam a much narrow focus. While this won’t be able to do quite as much damage, it is a lot more fine tuned. It can be used in a similar way to how Palpatine used the Second Death Star; that is to destroy enemy capital ships.”
Flea looked over at the command screen and pointed to an area that Soaker had just managed to restore functionality to. “What does this mean?”
“That is the target area,” Soaker was saying as he was working the controls, his P-90 clipped to his belt lighting tapping on the metal as he worked. “They have selected five targets in that zone there… but once again I don’t know where that is exactly or wha…”
He stopped as the consol began to been and schematics of the targets began to come up. His eyes wide, Soaker began to frantically hit buttons. “Oh no…”
It was a representation of Liberty’s Virtue.
“Launch all of the fighters, now!” Rose yelled at the deck master. Nodding, the man got to work, sending out the way of X-Wings under Major Roberts and the flights of 302s, all under the command of Captain Peagis and the Jaffa Mar’io.
“What are we doing here? What is going on?!”
Outside, it was a sea of disaster. Three Mon Cals and a Star Destroyer were caught in some kind of gravitational field, holding them here and keeping them from jumping into hyperspace. Several Replicator and Unlatril controlled vessesl were swarming the GFFA vessels, some doing actual dive runs on the ship and spreading their Replicator controlled brethren inside the vessels to assimilate them into their fleet. Now, the enemy was beginning to turn their attention to the Liberty’s Virtue, targeting it with all of their weapons.
“It looks like either we stumbled into a trap for them, or they stumbled into one for us,” muttered Major Shura from his place at tactical. “Either way, it doesn’t look good Mme. They have us vastly outnumbered.”
Rose nodded and began looking out at the battlefield. “Colonel Fel, find me the vessel that is creating the field that is holding us here. When you know which one it is, set a course. Alert the remaining GFFA ships that we will be sending troops over to help protect the sensitive areas of their ships.”
Liberty’s Virtue began to thrust forward, disgorging fighters and firing their energy weapons at the Replicator ships. Working together, wing pairs of X-Wings and 302s began to engage the enemy, the 302s running interference while the X-Wings fired their more powerful Proton Torpedoes at the enemy vessels. Ships began to explode as the Replicators and Unlatril finally began to recognize the danger at their flank, turning towards the Virtue and giving the GFFA vessels time to catch their breath and go back on the offensive. Space began to fill with argent light as the once surrounded, besieged and beleaguered vessels attempted to punch out through the blockade.
The Virtue, however, had other plans in mind. Using a short hyperspace jump, the small Earth vessels appeared directly next to the offending Interdictor cruiser. Opening up with its extensive weaponry, the smaller vessel hammered the gravity well projecting ships. Shields weakened, collapsed, as the multiple strikes scored hits on first the shields and then the larger vessel’s outer hull. Hull armor boiled and broke off, cooling just as rapidly as Liberty’s Virtue pounded the daylights out of the vessel. However, just as suddenly as the shields went down they were back up, reinforced by the same type of shielding as the Asgard and Earth ships employed. Angling away at top speed, the Virtue move slightly out of range and began to angle back in.
Which is when it hit.
“I can’t stop it,” mumbled Soaker. “I can’t stop this firing. It is being controlled from another computer terminal on the station and I can’t stop it.”
Shaking her head, Flea stepped up beside him, her P-90 still facing the hatchway as she scanned the outer corridor with her Jedi senses. “Then do what you can.”
Frowning, Soaker got back to work as he heard the machinery below him begin to build up and fire.
The tight and narrow beam of destruction came out of nowhere, striking the Liberty’s Virtue’s dorsal bow shield. The shield flared up a milky blue light as it dissipated some of the energy until the weapon punched through, connecting with the forward part of the vessel. Hull plating flew off as the hole blasted itself deeper into the ship, destroying pieces of decking as it ate deeper. Finally, the remainder of the beam blasted its way completely through the ship, punching out the other side.
The running lights all up and down the ship blinked once, twice, then went out. Atmosphere was leaking out of the ship as she drifted.
Liberty’s Virtue was bleeding to death.
|USSArizona||Posted on Mar 24 2006, 04:46 PM|
| Heh, when I can actually write again.
I am currently in a writers block. I will hopefully be able to start writing again soon. I have tried... but things haven't been working out for me like that lately.
|Peagis||Posted on Mar 21 2006, 06:35 PM|
|yeah when are ya gonna get back to this ???|
|The Jedi Chief||Posted on Mar 9 2006, 08:01 PM|
|aye were is the next one??|
|Peagis||Posted on Jan 18 2006, 07:25 PM|
|Katana||Posted on Jan 16 2006, 04:23 AM|
I like the various references you have in there.
|USSArizona||Posted on Jan 13 2006, 04:38 AM|
| Chapter 17: What Dreams May Come
Rose slowly woke up, the dark of her room totally disorienting her for a moment. As she stood up, she took a look outside the view port, searching for the shipyards and Centerpoint station that should be right there. Her vision was distorted, blurry. Nothing was coming in clearly. She nearly tripped over the small table as she limped towards the window. Finally, she pulled herself up and looked through it. She could see…
As far as her naked eye could see into space, there was nothing. No planet, no station, no sun and no moon could bee seen. The space surrounding the Virtue was completely empty.
‘When did we leave here?’ she thought. ‘Why wasn’t I informed, and if I couldn’t be awoken why didn’t I wake up in the sick bay?’
Her vision was starting to clear now as she took a moment to orient herself. As she looked down, she noticed that she was wearing the standard SGC uniform and fatigues with the Liberty’s Virtue patch on her arm. But… that is not what she had been wearing earlier. At least, that isn’t what she thought.
As her orientation continued to improve, she got to the door panel. Quickly, she hit the Comm. button next to the door.
“This is Col. Rose. Can anyone hear me.”
“This is Col. Rose. Bridge, please respond.”
Maybe the comm. system was down, she thought. But just in case, she reached over and grabbed her SG vest. It only took a moment to put on before she reached underneath her bunk and grabbed her P-90 and standard issue Berretta side arm. Putting a few more clips into her vest, just in case, Rose opened the door and started down the long corridor.
She moved silently, easily. She couldn’t really see any problems. The ship’s lighting was perfectly functional and everything seemed perfectly normal.
Except for the fact that she had yet to encounter a living soul.
She stopped at a cross section and look carefully around the corner. Just down the hall, she could see the crew mess hall. Cautiously, she stalked down the length of the corridor, P-90 up and ready to defend herself. When she finally got there, she noticed something very peculiar.
7. Plates and food scraps were all over the table. Half eaten food lay in perfect order, as if someone had been eating it and just stopped. There were mugs of half filled coffee and glasses of half drank water. It looked as if something had come upon the crew suddenly and they just had to leave everything behind to defend against whatever had been attacking them.
Shaking her head, Rose began to back out of the corner when she bumped into Lt. Neo.
He spun around, a surprised look in his eyes and his mouth wide open in terror. Rose made a quick sweep for the corridor before pulling the lieutenant into the mess hall. Quickly, she shoved him down into the chair and knelt before him, a soothing look in her calm eyes. His, in contrast, were blown wide open in unreasoning terror and it was all she could do to keep him in the chair.
“Lt. Neo! Report!”
The lieutenant just sat there, shaking and shivering. A wild look came into his eyes again as he tried to get up out of the chair and run.
“No! I have to get away! He will kill me if I stay here! You should leave too colonel!” Neo suddenly attempted to get up and flee as he pushed Rose away from him. She was quick enough, however, to merely push him back down into his sitting position. She grabbed his face with both of her hands and looked deep into the fear that seemed to have completely and utterly possessed his body. This was so unlike the Lt. Neo that she knew, and it was starting to scare her.
“Who lieutenant?! Who will kill you?”
He leaned in, Neo’s voice barely above a whisper as he spoke into her ear. Trembling, his voice shook as he muttered “Valnex of the Unlatril…”
Suddenly, Neo leaned back and screamed, a high pitched sound that caused Rose to lean back, closing her eyes and covering her ears from the onslaught of the sound. She felt Neo run past her, knocking her down and to the left as he ran out of the room as fast as he could. Rose slowly got to her feet and began to give chase when she heard Neo scream again and coming running back down the corridor towards her. Quickly, Rose ducked back inside the mess hall as the fear-crazed lieutenant ran past.
That is when she saw it. An inky black tentacle reached out and grabbed the crazed lieutenant by the neck. She peered around the doorway in horror as the largest Unlatril she had ever seen pulled the young man towards his gaping maw. Rose watched as the being slowly ate the lieutenant’s soul, leaving nothing but a charred and dessicated husk. In her terror, Rose sunk to the ground inside of the mess hall, shaking, with her back to the wall. She could hear the being eating out there as tears streamed down her face at the loss of a good and loyal friend and officer.
Finally, quiet reigned the hallway.
Rose stood up from fetal position and stepped into the corridor.
There was nothing left of Lt. Neo. All that could be seen was a blood stained spot on the floor where Neo’s body had fallen after the Unlatril consumed his soul.
Tears in her eyes, Rose set off to the bridge.
It was time to order a self destruct… if that is what it would take to eliminate this thing.
6. Despite the fact that there appeared to be nothing wrong, structurally speaking, with the ship, she could not get to the bridge. None of the elevators were working, so it amounted to a lot of walking through the corridors of the ship. On top of all of that, a LOT of climbing being as her quarters were on the lower levels of the ship. On top of that, there was absolutely no sound in the vessel. None of the engines were running, no power seemed to be circulating, nothing. The only thing that appeared to be working was the life support and the artificial gravity.
Rose groaned as she pulled herself out of the access way she had just left. She was about half way up the ship now, closer to the bridge. This was one of the main armory sections, along with the briefing room for all things that occurred on the ship. That is where she heard the voices.
Rose froze. It sounded like at least five them… arguing over what was going on. She shook her head and quietly stepped around the corner.
“If we remain here we will be unable to take the fight to it,” one voice stated.
“We should stay here! There is no knowing what will happen if we leave! At least here we are protected!”
“And what? Just wait for that massive Unlatril to get us? I don’t think so!”
“You just want to go out and find it so that you can join it!” a fourth voice snapped back.
“You are all over reacting. We must plan the proper course of action.”
Finally, Rose couldn’t take it anymore. In proper, military style fashion, she swung around the corner, bringing her P-90 up and to bear at the occupants of the room.
What she saw shocked her.
Standing there was Captain Peagis, Mar’io, Cols Fel and Shura and Jedi Bash. They were all looking at her with surprise in their eyes, as if they weren’t expecting her to be there. Quickly, they seemed to shake the thoughts of their minds.
“Ma’am, we need to hunt down and kill the Unlatril before he destroys the ship! We must stop him from killing the rest of the crew!” stated a rather irate looking Shura.
“No, that is a mistake! We need to stay here where it is safe!” cried a paranoid looking Captain Peagis.
“What we REALLY need to do,” said a rather calm Jedi Bash. “Is to calm down and look at this professionally.”
“No! We need to repair…” began Col. Fel.
“Stop!” screamed Rose. “That is enough! What the hell are you all arguing about? Col. Fel! Col. Shura! Shouldn’t you have taken command as soon as I couldn’t be reached? And you!” she said, turning on Capt. Peagis. “I would expect more ability to follow orders! Now, REPORT!”
They all seemed shocked for a moment as silence reigned the room. The only one that she couldn’t tell what he was thinking was Bash: his face was closed and unreadable.
Finally Fel stepped forward, looking a little unsure of himself. “Well… we don’t know how we got here… all we know is that suddenly we were here and the ship was dead in space. We couldn’t find any of the crew and we all just pretty much happened to meet up here. We have checked a few of the systems and have found that shields and weapons are down. We haven’t had a chance to look at the engines yet, but the Unlatril seems to want to keep us away from engineering.”
5. Rose closed her eyes for a moment as she attempted to concentrate.
“Okay, here is what we do. I want us to try and get some of the smaller systems up and running. Lets start with communications. Maybe we can contact the GFFA or something and get some information on where we are at or call for help. There is also an armory on this level. I want all of you to arm yourselves. P-90s, zats and Berettas. This way we will have a fighting chance.”
“A lot of good that will do,” muttered Peagis.
“Captain! Either you shut up or you will find my fist in your mouth,” said Mar’io as he glared at Peagis.
“Gentleman! That’s enough. You will follow orders! Now, lets go!”
Bash calmly stepped forward from his place on the wall, shrugged, and walked out the room. Glaring in frustration, Rose turn and followed her.
The rest of the men in the room looked at each other wearily and followed their commanding officer into the hallway and to the armory.
“You know Col. Rose, you really should look in a mirror,” Bash commented in an offhand voice as they walked away from the armory. He had, of course, chosen to take no weapons and just keep his lightsaber and the same brown robe he always wore.
“Why is that?” she commented, not really paying too much attention as she swept the corridor while Peagis and Shura worked on repairing the communication system.
He shrugged. “Your hair is getting white. It is almost as if you are aging.”
Rose’s hand flew up to her hair as she gripped it. It didn’t feel any different… however, curiosity was getting the better of her. Looking around, she spotted a semi-reflective surface and looked down into it. Sure enough, her hair was getting white at the roots. She looked curiously at the surface as she ran her hand through her hair. It was very strange, she thought.
“Col. We have been able to sort of… half fix the communications system.”
Rose tore her eyes away from her reflection and walked over to Peagis and Shura. “What do you mean by ‘sort of half fixed’” she asked.
“Well… we haven’t been able to fix outgoing communications yet. That whole system is still offline for some reason,” said Peagis with a weary look on his face. “We have been able to receive a few messages though… despite the fact that they sort of garbled and are down right weird.”
Curious, Rose walked over to the panel they were working in. “Let me hear it.”
Peagis nodded and made a slight adjustment.
Out of the speakers came a garbled and static filled voice. “She… waking… up. We don’t know… fall… coma but we can’t… wake… up…”
Rose shook her head. “See if you can boast signal gain by rerouting power from some of the unused crew quarters on the ship.”
Peagis nodded and the voices seemed to be coming in clearer.
“I don’t know what else we can do sir. Col. Rose is in some kind of coma. There is nothing more that I can do for her.”
“Well, keep monitoring her and do the best you can doctor,” came Shrua’s voice.
Rose looked around at the others, a shocked _expression upon all of their faces. Once again, her hand flew to hair as she realized what was going on.
“We are in my brain!” she exclaimed.
“What the hell are you talking about?” exclaimed an very irritated and aggressive looking Mar’io. “We are here on Liberty’s Virtue, not inside your head!”
Rose thought for a moment, sitting down next to the bulk head. “You all are different parts of me! You,” she said, pointing to Peagis. “You represent the paranoid part of me, the part that reacts to danger. Mar’io, you represent my warrior instincts. Col. Fel, you represent my tactical sauve and ability, while Col. Shura represents the part of my mind that is suspicious and careful. You,” she said finally, pointing to Bash. “You don’t even belong here. You are in some kind of Jedi Hibernation in your quarters, aren’t you?”
Bash smiled and nodded. “Yes. I am here to help you in whatever way I can. You are dieing, Colonel Rose. Dieing from the inside. You are being attacked by the Unlatril named Valnex. For some reason that we can’t figure out yet, he is exerting all of his energy to destroy you! This is both an opportunity, and a risk.”
4. Rose nodded. “We can probably unlock whatever is in my brain that will defeat the Unlatril… but can we do it before Valnex kills me?”
“That is the question.”
”Whoa, wait a minute,” Peagis stated, stepping between the two. “Are you trying to tell me that I am just a figment of your imagination? That I am not real? I feel real!”
Rose nodded. “You represent a part of me. It is actually kind of interesting as to what part each of you represents to me.”
They all stood there, completely quiet as they attempted to digest the information they had just gathered.
“Well… what do we do next?” asked Fel.
“I guess the first thing that we need to do is figure out why the Unlatril are trying to kill me like this,” Rose stated. “From there, we can work on expelling it from my mind.”
“Well… we should move from this position as quickly as possible,” stated Mar’io. “The faster we move, the more likely that…”
His last words never came. A tentacle, black as night, reached out and grabbed him by the throat, cutting off whatever else he was going to say. His eyes bulged in horror as he was dragged down the hallway. Rose fell to her knees, gripping her head in agony as the others raced to help Mar’io. Mar’io struggled, grabbing hold of the corner the tentacle was attempting to pull him around. As he held, his face began to get purple, than blue as the oxygen depravation from the stranglehold on his neck began to take its toll. Just before Fel’s outstretched hand could reach him, Mar’io fell unconscious. He was wrenched around the corner, his body banging on the walls and ceiling as he was dragged off to whatever doom would befall them.
The last thing that Rose remembered was the concerned looks upon the faces of her friends as she drifted into unconsciousness…
She was sweating. A tennis racket was in her hand and a small net had been set up across the hanger bay. Across from her, Captain Ren gripped a racket and belted the tennis ball back at her. Rose, took a swing at it and noticed her once brown hair fell across her face, now almost completely white. As she hit the ball back at her opponent, Rose’s knees felt weak, stiff. She felt like she was 60 years old.
“Wait… what I am doing here?!” Rose asked, confused.
Ren just hit the tennis ball back at her and shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t have any answers for you. This is YOUR mind, remember?”
Rose once again returned the ball, stumbling a little bit as her legs nearly gave out on her. “I need to get to the bridge!”
Ren didn’t answer for a moment. She gave a strong backhand that bounced off or Rose’s head and out of bounds, ending the game. “Game, set, match!” Ren cried in triumph.
Rose just shook her head and fell to the floor, panting as the effort of playing that game caught up to her. Her bare hands were touching the floor, seeming so weak as she attempted to take most of the pressure off of her hurting and aching knees. Her silvery white hair fell around her as she continued to pant in a desperate attempt to catch her breathe and recover.
3. “My my,” stated Ren. “Don’t we look tired?”
“Wha… what happened to the rest of my… crew?” Rose asked between gasps.
Ren came over and knelt beside. The other woman shrugged before gently helping Rose to her feet and putting her in a nearby chair. Rose was finally starting to recover as she dredged up the last few memories of those few conscious moments she had had. “Mar’io is dead, isn’t he?”
Ren shrugged as she took a seat beside the ailing colonel. “That part of your personality has been destroyed by the Unlatril, yes. If you don’t figure out how to get him out of your mind soon, he will slowly strip away the very best parts of you, leaving you nothing but an empty shell, up here,” said Ren as she gently tapped Rose’s forehead. The look on her face was one of genuine concern, and Rose just shook her head.
“But how do I do that? The damn thing is so, so powerful…”
Ren sort of smiled as Rose said this, a smile that was concealed by a shadow of light as it played across her face. Concealing it, Ren turned to Rose and placed her hand upon her shoulder. “I really don’t know what you can do. Remember, this ‘your’ mind. It is your world, your place. Only you can tell yourself what you need to do and how you are going to be able to do it.” She gestured around at the F-302s sitting, quietly in the hanger. “None of this is our domain. You are the one. Only you will figure out what to do.”
Ren stood and smiled as she grabbed another racket. “Would you like to have another game? I am feeling really good about this sport, even though it is the first time I have ever played!”
Grimacing, Rose stood as the aches in her joints caught up with her. She shook her head as she headed out of the docking bay.
“You be careful out there Anne Rose! You never know when he will appear!”
Shaking her head, Rose headed off, once again, into the bowels of the ship. First things first, she thought. I need to get to the bridge. It is the center of the ship… so it should also be the center of my brain! Perhaps, in there, I can effect all of the proper repairs that need to be made and then I can get the Unlatril out of my mind. I hope that I am not throwing away some valuable information, she continued. But I think that I am going crazy… I mean I am literally talking to myself, inside of my own head! If I get out of this… am I going to be a schizophrenic when I finally get out of here?
Her musings kept her completely occupied as she walked down the deserted halls of her ship, never really looking where she was going. She was almost senile in the way that she walked and kept track of where she was and where she was going. Nothing, however, would stop her from her objective. She was on a mission, and she wanted to live with all of herself whole, and intact. She didn’t want to lose any other parts of her. The parts that had been taken from her definetly dweled in her mind as she walked and kept her from feeling whole. She missed those parts, despite the fact that some would consider them superfluous and unneeded. But she knew better. Rose knew that in order to be a good person, you needed to be whole. She needed to hurry! She needed to find the rest of herself in here and she had to do it quick! She…
2. The elevator door slowly opened on the bridge level. There, before her, was Captain Peagis and Major Shura. They were on the ground, bleeding in several places and coughing, weakly. As Rose looked down at them, she could literally feel herself growing older as those parts of her were stripped away.
Weakly, Rose ran towards Major Shura and knelt down beside him. She took his pulse with tears in her eyes as she watched the brave man shudder as the pain continued to overwhelm his senses. She gently ran the back of her hand along his face as his eyes fluttered open.
“Colonel… I am sorry… we have failed.”
“No,” Rose stated, her heart feeling like it was going to jump into her throat. “No you haven’t failed anything. You did what you could, protecting me.”
Shura nodded. “We… couldn’t get to the bridge… he was just too fast for us. Killed me and Lt. Peagis… we lost Colonel Fel and we don’t know what happened to him.”
“Shh,” said Rose as soothingly as possible. “Just try to lie still.”
“Colonel,” Shura said in a surprisingly strong voice as he grabbed her vest and stared deep into her eyes. “We are lost, but YOU must survive. If the Unlatril are willing to go through this much trouble to kill you you MUST be important in some way! You… must… survive…”
His grip slackened and his hand fell away from her vest. His eyes rolled up into the back of his head closed… and he was gone.
Rose stood and looked at her two fallen comrades. It had now taken four parts of her mind, four parts that she hoped she could someday get back if she was able to save herself. Tears in her eyes, Rose walked the final few meters to the Bridge.
It was empty and quiet. The screens were completely dead, showing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary upon them. The viewscreens looked completely dead. There was not even any static or any other thing coming through them. The consoles themselves appeared to be undamaged… just inoperable.
Gingerly, Rose sat down at one of the consoles feeling a good twenty years older then she had felt five minutes ago before she had gotten out of the lift. She sat down and began to work the controls, attempting to bring things online…
A storage compartment opened above her, spilling tennis balls down upon her head.
“Wow. I guess your mind is even more cluttered then you thought, isn’t it you old woman?” asked Ren, seated in the Captain’s chair.
“No,” wheezed Rose in a weakening voice. “My mind is not cluttered… just weak.”
She got slowly, half bent over as she limped over a new console. As she stepped forward, she felt her left leg give out as a loud crack seemed to echo through the room. Groaning in pain, she fell to the ground, gripping her left hip as she tried to hold herself up with her brittle right arm. Crying on the floor, she rocked back and forth, pitying herself as she laid on the floor of her bridge.
Ren came up and knelt beside, her, looking deep into her eyes as she helped Rose into a sitting position.
“You know you should just give up,” Ren whispered. “Why do you keep fighting? You are dead… you should simply lie there and let yourself go. Save yourself from the pain.”
Rose looked up at the other woman with tear stained eyes as she glared angrily into the other woman’s face, or tried to at least. She was having a hard time seeing now. It must be the old age.
“You should know me well enough by now, Captain Ren, to know that I would NEVER give up.”
Rose sat there and thought for a moment, the last few pieces of this puzzle falling into place. “But, I need to know. Who are you? I know who the rest of the others are, but you? You don’t really seem to fit anywhere! Are you my conscious? Are you my guilt? What are you? And why is Valnex letting YOU live?”
1. Ren smiled as she sat up, a smile that was not quite right. “Yes, you figured it out. Quicker then I imagined… but no worries on that. It is too late to stop me anyways.”
As Rose watched, the other woman stood up. Her clothes began to melt away, leaving her naked. Her body continued to melt, her smooth white skin seeming to just flow down her body like a gelatinous blob. Darkness instead of blood vessels began to show beneath the flowing liquid. Her hair fell out, causing a pool of redish gunk to form at her feet. Her face was the last to as white fangs appeared in Ren’s former mouth and red glowing eyes replaced the former ice-blue spheres. Tentacles withered and wrapped around the being as it smiled down at the wounded and exhausted Rose.
“You are much more powerful then we even thought. It is a good thing that I was given leave to this,” snarled the evil looking being. “You should feel honored! We Unlatril are only able to summon the energy for this type of assault once every 25 galactic cycles.”
Rose coughed as she glared up at the being, blood coming out of her mouth and lightly spraying the ground. “Yeah, really something to be proud of.”
Valnex glared down at her as he bent over, his fangs coming inches away from her face, a horrible stench of decay and death accompanying his breath. “You still don’t know, do you? You don’t know that you and one other are, or were I guess that I should say, the Chosen Ones?”
Rose just shook her head. “Chosen ones?”
Valnex straightened up before her, his eyes continuing to shine and bore into hers’. “Yes, Chosen Ones. You don’t really need to know too much, except that without one, the other is unable to stop us. With you out of the way… the other one won’t even learn of his destiny. He will just be dead, along with every other denizen of this pitiful and weak galaxy.”
Valnex paused, his breathing coming quicker as he leaned down towards her once again. “You are now mine, Col. Rose. Know that with your death, you have down billions of innocent lives. In that knowledge, despair and die!”
The Unlatril opened his mouth, a gapping maw with rows upon rows of teeth as the stench of his putrid breath emanated from his mouth. Rose stood her ground and kept her heart strong, not allowing herself to be intimidated or give up. She stared deep into her eyes and kept herself focused. She would not give up without a fight… despite the fact that she could barely move. His maw came closer…
Rose’s hand sprang out, catching the thing directly in its eye. It screamed in pain as it fell back. Rose, feeling more defiance rise within her, stood and gave the thing a kick in the snout. It fell back, snarling in pain as one of its tentacles whipped out and slapped her across her face, sending her to the ground. Rose turned on her back and looked directly into its red eyes. She had a defiant glare upon her face and deep sense of anger in her eyes as she continued to fight Valnex.
“I will die… defying you, Valnex. I will NOT give up and I will not die begging for my life! Kill me if you want.”
The being screamed a horrible sound. Once again, Rose felt the tentacles around her throat as it dragged her towards its mouth…
P-90 blasts came out of the middle of nowhere. Rose heard Valnex scream out in pain as it hit dropped her to the ground. Her legs blossomed in pain as the brittle bones in her lower legs snapped and broke as she hit. Her eyes were full of tears as she looked up to see Colonel Fel firing his P-90 at Valnex. Bash then waded in, wielding his lightsaber with the full power of the Force and cut the mental attacker in half.
Rose lay on the ground, panting in desperation. Bash and Fel ran over to her as the knelt next to her and gripped her hand.
“You will be okay Col. You will be okay.”
The world swirled and dissolved around her…
Rose eyes slowly opened as the world swam into focus. There, before her, were Col. Fel, Major Shura, Mar’io, Captain Peagis, Lt. Neo and Jedi Master Bash, all looking at her and smiling. She could only smile weakly back as she knew that she had made it.
She had a purpose now, and a goal. Where that would lead her to, she did not know. She did know that she would need help finding the chosen one.
And that meant Luke Skywalker.