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Final Sacrifice

Posted on Tue Nov 3rd, 2015 @ 1:48pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: En route to the Temple Planet
Timeline: After "Debts and Returns" and Before "Blood Mark" (Resurrection Day)

The USS North Star, one of the Intrepid Class cruisers equipped with the prototype quantum slipstream drive, was a thing of wonder. It seemed, to Vanora and Cassandra, that no sooner had the pair come aboard, located their guest quarters, and decided upon the available shuttlecraft that would be ideal for the last leg of their trip, the North Star had already disengaged slipstream, moving toward the drop-off point at Warp 6. The two women's imagined telling of the trip was slightly exaggerated--the trip had actually taken a full day--but even the truth was almost as impressive than the tall tale.

Without even a chance to meet or thank the ship's captain, Vanora and her self-appointed bodyguard boarded their Type-VIII shuttlecraft and parted ways with the North Star, making a beeline for the predicted future location of the Gladiator and the Task Group. The emergency nature of the mission had cleared up one bothersome question; Vanora finally had an explanation for why Peridot had been unable to attend Tang's funeral: the youngest of Vanora's sisters, and one of her closest friends, was commander of the USS Banting, part of the Task Group.

The knowledge that both adopted and blood family were soon to be in danger pressed upon Vanora's chest with even greater urgency than before. Warp 4 felt like crawling. Cassandra reassured Vanora that they would get there in time.

She was wrong.

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It was a chance to destroy the USS Gladiator, to get revenge and correct the outcome of a previously failed mission. That was how the Human who called himself Lion, formerly the leader of one of the terrorist arms of C.O.I.L., had convinced his crew to take this assignment. This was no longer part of the petty squabbling with those other knuckleheads in his former association. He knew this was much bigger than just making sure holographs didn't replace and destroy natural humanoid life. Lion had seen the light, and its name was The One.

All of the galaxy's humanoid species were defective, his Master, The One, had taught him. What sorts of civilizations besides hopelessly irredeemable ones would create artificial life to replace itself, would so many times over tear through the fabric of spacetime, and would threaten to end not only themselves but the whole of the galaxy?

It was so clear when The One had explained it to him. Lion was enlightened, and now understood that the only hope left was the final ritual, the sacrifices to an ancient power that would purify the Alpha Quadrant. Klingons, Romulans, Humans and other Federation scum species, all had been identified, their blood carefully extracted and processed to feed the ancient device's hunger.

Achievement, Lion had once told his crew, is the screaming newborn child of sacrifice. And sacrifice was no joke. The One had shown him the power that the Unholy Trinity held, the power to enrapture and control. It was impressive, and yet but a mere taste of what was to come. Lion shuddered with pleasure at the thought of the cleansing and the promise of perfection to follow. That was, after all, all he had ever wanted: a better civilization, one free the corruption that had created the Phantom Core, and free from the sick Starfleet officers who created it.

His crew, Lion knew, would not have accepted this grand design so easily, and thus he told them this was a mission of revenge. They were fools, or fooling themselves, for believing his lies. Either way, it did not concern Lion. Only his promise to The One mattered now. He would deliver the Elasian hybrid, as he had sworn to do.

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"I can't shake them!" Cassandra called out as the shuttlecraft shook violently under the barrage of disruptor fire. It was a matter of less than a minute before the shuttle, and the pair of officers inside it, would be incinerated. They were an hour away from the predicted crossing with the Gladiator's flight path, but the small Type-VIII could neither outrun nor outgun the Romulan Warbird that had ambushed them.

"Shields at 7%. I'm rerouting all power," Vanora narrated as she did her best to keep the vessel from falling apart at the seams. "Structural integrity holding, for now. Life support rerouted to shields." The shuttle shook violently again, almost throwing Vanora and Cassandra from their chairs. "3%. Shields at 3%! Get close into them!" she ordered the Frenchwoman.

It was a desperate move, one without an endgame, but it was the only play Vanora could think of that didn't involve immediate surrender. She'd set her emergency distress hail on repeat the moment that the Warbird decloaked, but she was certain that the Warbird was using a jamming device; regardless of repetitions, no message seemed able to get through.

Cassandra followed the order, flying low and close to the Warbird's shields. Or where the shields should be; Vanora noticed too late that there was no effect on the shuttle from proximity to the sheilds. The enemy's shields were down. She opened her mouth to let Cassandra know, but it was just as another disruptor beam landed a glancing blow on the shuttle. The shields were finished; worse still, the hit had also knocked out the warp core's dampeners. "Warp core breach in sixty seconds!" Cassandra cried out.

Vanora heard the cry, but it seemed to lose strength quickly, as did her senses. She was being transported off of the shuttle, her entire body frozen as she saw Cassandra fade away from her vision.

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"Do you know why our Lord calls you 'the final sacrifice?'" Lion asked with bemusement on his face as he let the razor blade rest in the gash he'd cut into Vanora's clavicle. Vanora gritted her teeth against the pain, refusing to scream, which earned her another backhand from the terrorist-turned-cultist. "It isn't because there is anything particularly special about Elasians. Not in the grand scheme of things. You are like all the other vile, disgusting Federation scum species. Narcissistic, self-absorbed, backwards, all the while playing dress up and pretending that you hold some sort of moral superiority. You do not, let's just get that straight."

He paced slowly along a bench table that was lined with carefully arranged torture implements. He let his fingers run over them, caressing each one, before finally settling on a polished bamboo rod. He whipped it through the air a few times, testing it out, before prodding Vanora with one end in an effort to get her attention. "He told me not to try to communicate with the lambs," Lion sighed in resignation, the way an owner does when a puppy cannot be housebroken. "But I suppose I just can't help myself," Lion smiled. His teeth were all sharpened into fine points, like Ferengi or Klingon teeth, and as a result his smile was monstrous.

"The reason why you are the 'final sacrifice," Commander," he spat sarcastically as he used her title, "is because of the peculiar mutation that has resulted in the toxification of female Elasian tear ducts. I'm no biologist, and I could care less about the specifics; I'm just repeating what my Lord's disciples said. In my book, one scum species is as worthless as any other. That is, unless they are a sacrifice requested by my Master himself. And, oh, did he want to get his hands on you."

"Or perhaps to be more accurate," Lion smiled toothily as he decided against the bamboo rod and switched it for a iron tipped whip, "the One requires your tears. And I plan to deliver them. Every. Single. One."

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Thus Concludes HEART OF STELE!

The story continues in the post "Blood Mark," part of the mission "Resurrection Day"... and in future adventures of the USS Gladiator.

Thank you for reading!


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Lieutenant Commander Vanora Samsoe Stele
Chief Operations Officer and Third Officer
USS Gladiator, NCC-79818

 

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