<FWG> <Patronus> Issue 1, Article 8: "The Becoming"

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 20:09:21 -0800 (PST)

  The Becoming
  by Captain Hayes McQuarrie
  ?Ship incoming, Captain. Hailing,? called the tac officer, unknowing and 
calm. To most of the bridge crew, this was a sigh, and to Hayes, this was the 
holding of the breath for a good long submersion.
  ?Who do we have, Lieutenant? Put her on screen.? Hayes stood from the 
captain?s chair, and stepped closer to the viewer. Before him, the stars popped 
their way into view and surrounded a gray ship, Akira class, moving in 
interceptive maneuvers, but trying to hide it. He could tell by their initial 
pitch, and could see in their thrusting patterns that they were trying to 
appear friendly and naïve.
  The becoming had come sooner and more succinct than Hayes had expected. 
Somewhere in the distress beacon, there was something, some codeword, something 
that tipped this ship off. Hayes wondered whose ship it was: Ramirez, or 
Remington. Either way, the captain on board was going to be a slight of trouble.
  ?It?s the USS Lexington, sir. They have not, as of yet, responded to the 
  ?Standby for weapons preparation and shields.?
  ?Just do as I say, Lieutenant. On my mark and without questions, I want 
shields up and weapons fully armed. Remember this, and this goes for all of 
you.? Everyone turned and paid heed to their captain, who were seeing him in a 
new, almost terrible light. ?We?re not looking for a fight, but it might come 
to us. I promise to all of you that I will not do anything to endanger the rest 
of you unless there is another choice; I?d sooner have us all arrested than 
fire one torpedo that could save our lives at the expense of others.?
  The tac officer cracked his voice, cleared his throat, and said, ?Sir, 
they?ve responded.?
  ?On screen.?
  Fading in was the visage of a man introducing himself as Captain Barsuk, and 
he nodded casually to the Coldstream crew he saw before him. ?Greetings,? he 
said. ?We were responding to the distress call sent out by your ship, by 
Admiral Ramirez. Are you? are you the captain of the ship??
  Hayes nodded and grinned, tapping his pips. ?I am. There isn?t a need for 
formalities and beating around the bush, Captain Barsuk; you?re here on an 
intercept course because Ramirez made a call that I had committed treason by 
firing on the Primo Morire. A few hours ago, there were several levels of 
confusion, and I wish to explain them all to you if you would have a meeting 
with me.?
  Barsuk held back an impulsive thought and sighed, patronizing nasally, 
?Captain McQuarrie, by order of Admiral Adam Remington, we are here to strip 
you and your crew of rank until further notice. You are all to lay down your 
arms and prepare to be boarded.?
  ?I?m sorry, I?m sorry,? Hayes chuckled. ?You?re saying you actually mean to 
board us??
  Barsuk hesitated and looked side to side, searching for an error in his own 
words. ?Yes,? he spoke with longevity. ?That is what I?m saying? Is there 
  Behind Hayes?s back, he held up five fingers so the tac officer could see. 
?Yes, there?s confusion, Captain Barsuk. We?re purported traitors, purported by 
an admiral, whom you answer to, whom your superior collaborates with. Forgive 
me if I?m being presumptuous, but isn?t the tactic for taking traitors who have 
control of a ship to board first??
  Hayes pulled his thumb to his palm. Four fingers remained outstretched. 
  ?I don?t understand what you?re? We will board you??
  ?Then do it.? Pinky in. Three fingers left.
  Barsuk squinted, a third-grade drama class?s excuse for confused. A mid-rate 
tactic?s class excuse for stalling. ?Captain McQuarrie, you are in no position 
to bargain.? Ring finger in. Two fingers. ?Lay down your weapons, or when my 
boarding parties arrive and one person has a phaser still on their person, 
people will be shot. I?m? I?m closing this channel.?
  ?Captain Barsuk, there?s still no reading of anyone but designated Coldstream 
crew on board over here. Now?? Middle finger in. One. ?Are you planning on 
having us caught unawares so that when you blast us out of the sky, you can 
claim it as self-defense with properly placed phony damage marks on your own 
hull? Because if you are, I?m telling you, Captain, you?ve made it very easy 
for a moderately astute individual such as myself to see it. So enlighten me, 
Captain. What are you really here to do??
  Barsuk?s stare was now devoid of any hidden thought, and he was frozen in 
place. The bridge crew behind him was exchanging glances and trying to hide it. 
Intensity was shaking in his cheeks, the energetic containment rivaled by a 
reactor going into critical mass. Skin hue changed from pink to red, eyes from 
squint to beam, mouth from grin to purse. My orders, he must have been 
thinking, conflict with everything I?ve been taught. There hasn?t been capital 
punishment for decades upon decades, not even after the trial. What am I going 
to do?
  Hayes?s stare was now sure and pure, bending on the one task of defending 
everyone else on board. The bluff, and it seemed, in the torrent of hesitation, 
that it was a bluff indeed. He wondered what they were planning to do with 
Ramirez, seeing as how he was still on board. Was it really such a secret that 
these professors of candor would kill one of their own to contain it? It was in 
this moment, staring at Captain Barsuk of (it seemed) Remington?s fleet, that 
he had stumbled into something deep and unforgiving, that would asphyxiate him 
if the sinking brought it up to his chin. 
  The moment grew hot, sweaty palms gripping at each other like rain-soaked 
tires on a rain-soaked street. Adrenaline began to pump madly, coursing through 
every member of each bridge crew. Hayes?s thumb was still outstretched, and the 
tac officer kept his eye fixed on it, waiting for it to curl around the other 
fingers. Timpani mallets pounded every heart and every toe lost sensation, and 
The Edge moved closer, closer, until Captain Barsuk stepped right over it.
  He turned around, angry, furious, absolutely incensed at what he now had to 
do. Shouting his orders, Barsuk?s throaty words connected to say, ?All shields 
up! Charge weapons! Attack pattern nine-alpha!?
  Before the channel was cut, Hayes pulled in his thumb, and the tac officer 
brought up all shields and weapons almost simultaneous with the Lexington. 
?Okay, people, here we go. Fight or flight,? Hayes bellowed. To the helm 
officer Ito N?Ges he said, ?Evasive pattern seventeen-phi. That?s always a good 
one.? With that, the ship began to move, and on the viewscreen, the Lexington 
began to duck underneath the Coldstream, spryly and menacing, a dagger in the 
beast?s side. 
  The first hit smacked the shields and boomed throughout the ship, shaking 
everyone to their feet. Hayes gripped the rail heading up to the tactical 
station, and pulled himself up. The tac officer was hanging onto his console 
for dear life, breathing heavily, panicking. When Hayes approached him, his 
frightened headlight-struck eyes met Hayes with abandon, wanting that flight 
thing he mentioned. 
  ?Lieutenant, can you operate?? Hayes shouted over the malicious din.
  The tac officer was unsure, frozen, and his teeth gritted and his eyes closed 
with the next hit to the ship. He was a young man, dark hair and olive 
complexion, Greek it seemed, and his glance forgot the defensive statistics of 
the ship.
  ?Lieutenant, I said can you operate? If you can?t, you?re excused, and I?ll 
take over. But if you can, now?s the time. Can you operate, Lieutenant?? 
Hayes?s call was overwhelming even over the third, fourth, and fifth explosive 
phaser beam to the ship?s shields.
  ?I-I-I?I c-c-c-can, sir! I?ve?never?n-n-never done??
  ?Sure you haven?t, Lieutenant, but you passed your training, correct? I want 
a constant update on the shields, and fire only cover shots at the Lexington! I 
want to try to escape this without killing anybody. Only cover shots, do you 
  ?Yes sir!? Stressed, pressed tears were welling up in the young lieutenant?s 
eyes. His life was ending, and his body could feel it. Every muscle was tense, 
but not too tense. Not too tense to defend the Coldstream.
  ?Good!? He reminded him to, ?Fire cover shots only. Constant shield updates. 
Begin diverting all auxiliary mainframe functions to battle functions.?
  Narin tumbled in from the turbolift, bracing herself against the wall. 
?Captain!? she cried. 
  ?Wounded are filling up sickbay and people are in a panic. They need to know 
what?s going on.? 
  ?They?ll find out,? Hayes replied, turning then to Ito N?Ges. ?I?m trusting 
you to keep us out of harm?s way. Can you do that??
  N?Ges was handling the inexplicable fray between to Starfleet ships more 
confidently than the tac officer. He deftly turned over his shoulder and said, 
?E-pattern seventeen-phi. We?re dodging more than eighty percent of their 
shots. Captain, they?re really?they?re really trying to??
  ?Don?t think about it,? Hayes ordered. ?All you need to think about is 
keeping everyone on this ship alive. And here and there, add your own maneuvers 
in; nothing is more evasive than human spontaneity.?
  ?Yes Captain. I?ll do my best.?
  ?Your best will have to do.?
  ?Captain,? Narin cut in, now diverting his attention fully to her. ?What are 
we trying to do, here? We can?t evade their shots forever. If they?re behaving 
like this, they won?t stop until we?re dead.?
  ?Don?t worry, Narin?Commander.? All need to separate the two entities of 
Commander Luviox and Narin dissipated with a shaking of the head. ?I?m going to 
try to talk them down. I don?t want to kill anybody.?
  ?And if you can?t? If you can?t talk them down??
  He looked at her severely, taking three consecutive breaths, trying to 
swallow the thought they were both feasting on. ?The last thing I will do in 
this life is lead the people on this ship to death. I would sooner see us all 
arrested for trial, even wrongfully so, rather than let them kill us.?
  ?Hayes,? she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him close, putting her mouth 
up to his ear. ?You?re saying you?ll kill them? Kill everyone on that ship? For 
  ?For our lives, Narin??
  ?Why our lives? Why ours and not theirs? What makes us special? Why kill in 
order to let us live??
  ?Because we know something that can change the world!? This was loud, and 
even more severe than the first. ?Hell if I know what it is, exactly, but the 
way things are happening?? The ship rocked again with another direct hit to the 
underside. ?We have a fellow Starfleet ship trying to destroy us! Our Admiral 
tried to destroy an entire colony of people, to ensure the elimination of some 
mysterious being, or beings, that he seems to hold a mystery with. Something 
that is more than all our lives? worth has been found here. And I have a 
feeling it?s just the top two percent, just the visible tip of the iceberg. 
  ?What if someone else in the future, after we?re dead and gone, stumbles on 
this same thing? They?ll do this very same thing they?re doing now. People, to 
them, are worth killing to protect this. Doesn?t that seem wrong to you?? She 
didn?t respond. ?Narin, doesn?t that seem??
  Narin closed her eyes like she was about to cry. ?Hayes, nothing is wrong 
enough to kill for.?
  ?And if I destroy that ship? What then? What will you do??
  ?What can I do??
  ?In the nature of things after this fight, you?ll either be extremely 
restricted, or you?ll be able to do anything you want.?
  ?Hope to God I?m restricted.? She now regarded him with contempt, something 
Hayes was completely unaccustomed to. He needed a subject change, something to 
get her dutiful gears in motion. 
  ?Are the fighters in good repair?? She didn?t respond, still just feeding him 
the contemptuous stare. ?Commander Luviox, are the fighters in good repair??
  Narin struggled. ?Last I checked.?
  ?Get the pilots rounded up,? Hayes ruefully ordered. ?Have them on standby, 
and when I give the word, we launch them.? Again, she served him silence, lack 
of acknowledgement. It made his heart hurt. ?Commander, we launch them on my 
word. Is that understood??
  Two tears welled up in each eye, and Narin fought herself inordinately to 
stop them from falling. Obediently, she bowed her head and said, ?Yes, Captain 
McQuarrie. I will carry out your orders.? And when her face was horizontal, the 
tears fell, silently, delicately, to the carpet on the bridge. None noticed, 
none cared to notice, and thusly they never fell. She brought her head up, 
inhaling sharply through her nose, and pivoted back to the turbolift, and left 
in a hurry.
  ?Open a channel to the Lexington,? Hayes called out. 
  ?Channel open, Captain.?
  Droning, facing his doomed future, Hayes remarked, before speaking out to 
Captain Barsuk, ?Lieutenant, if things keep progressing like this you may never 
call me that again.? He cleared his throat, and went to speak, but the ship was 
hit, and he faltered to his knees. Ito N?Ges, beside him, had fallen from his 
chair, allowing the ship to spin while he was absent from the controls. 
Regaining it, the evasive pattern recommenced. 
  Hayes stood, and went to speak again, half-expecting another deadly blast to 
send him reeling toward the ceiling. ?Captain Barsuk, you are making a mistake! 
I know you can hear me, Barsuk, and I know you?re listening. You?re scared; you 
know what you?re doing: you?re firing on one of your own. You?ve been ordered 
to kill your own people. You don?t want this. Your unwant is probably as strong 
as mine. Death shares the souls of the war, and that is plenty. We gorge Death 
by giving it the souls of our own, and in the end it might?it might prove 
wrong. Please, stop this attack! Captain Barsuk, you know this is wrong! Stop! 
We?ll stop firing! You have no doubt noticed that we?ve fired nothing but cover 
fire, so you know we have no interest in fighting you. Captain Barsuk, please 
  Another hit, another, and another. The tac officer screamed out, ?Captain, 
we?re at twenty-five percent shields!?
  ?Reinforce them, Lieutenant! Pull energy off everything you possibly can! We 
need to hold out!? The last hit had thrown everybody at least fifteen feet from 
where they were last. Markstrom Benson?s man who was stationed on the bridge 
had his head bashed into the screen of the science console, and was 
unconscious, bleeding, and limply rolling on the floor with every darting 
movement of the Coldstream.
  ?Captain Barsuk,? Hayes resumed, ?you can take me alive! I am the only one 
who has wronged on this ship. Everyone else is just following my command. Take 
me in for treason, take me in for striking an admiral, take me in for 
conspiracy, stealing, rape, murder, even my charge isn?t just take me in! Don?t 
put the innocent lives of everyone on board in front of me. Take me in! Take 
me! Captain Barsuk, take me!?
  The firing from the Lexington ceased for a minute (or Ito N?Ges had regained 
the upper hand in the cat-and-mouse). When people were about to take that 
life-affirming sigh, another, more powerful smash to the hull pulled everyone 
off their feet and onto their backs. From his position on the floor, Hayes 
could see that the tac officer had lost consciousness and was lying motionless 
on the floor. He leapt up and went to the tac station to take over, but looked 
down first at the face of the man at his feet.
  His eyes were wide open. Death was in his skin, a gap in his mouth, a 
stillness in his blood. 
  A curtain of blood hung from the top edge of the tac console; he?d flown up 
and over, smashing his neck on the acute corner. 
  The first casualty. 
  And Hayes couldn?t think of his name at his immediate memory. 
  He let out a cry, and those who were still collected and able turned to see 
Hayes McQuarrie grow, in size and stature (it seemed). The man they?d always 
known as the quiet, carefree captain who just bent over for Ramirez and went on 
more dates per week than they cared to remember, became the old Hayes 
McQuarrie, the one on the USS Exeter, the one who went to war.
  ?Captain Barsuk!? he howled, now unforgivingly. ?The first life has been 
taken! You?ve had your chance, and now you?ll fail your admiral, you?ll fail 
your mission, and you?ll fail your final judgment! Keep firing, Captain Barsuk! 
I want to see your phasers BURNING when I charge at you!? 
  He closed the channel himself, and monitored the shields. Seven-point-eight 
percent. One more hit and the hull would be taking direct damage. The time to 
act was succinct and minute. ?N?Ges, turn this ship in attack pattern 
two-alpha, reverting to twelve-alpha on my mark! Do you comply, Lieutenant 
  ?Compliance, sir,? N?Ges answered, wavering, and turning the ship around. 
  Hayes fired the weapons himself. No crime of murder in this account will rest 
on anyone?s shoulders but my own. N?Ges flies out of obedience, maybe out of 
fear. But I fire on this ship now. Let the judgment be on me, and me alone. On 
his console, he saw the Lexington?s shields go down twenty percent, and begin 
to climb steadily again. They were diverting power. So he fired again, fired 
the secondary phaser, and three torpedoes. Two of the torpedoes made contact, 
and then their ships were at forty-five. 
  ?N?Ges, am I far enough for EMP??
  ?No, sir, any EMP fired from this distance will knock out our systems.?
  ?Try to get us away.?
  ?Trying, sir. They?re staying on us tight. They must be anticipating your use 
of EMP.?
  ?Because they know what I did to the Primo Morire.? What I did. ?This?this 
isn?t going to end peacefully, N?Ges.?
  ?Just keep trying to gain a distance. Stay in attack pattern.?
  N?Ges circled the humungous Coldstream around the medium-build Lexington, and 
under the heavy fire of the admiral-transport, the Akira-class attacker was now 
overwhelmed with trying to keep shields up. Weaponfire was sparse, as was 
movement; the hulking Coldstream was intimidating the hell out of its attacker. 
Finally, their shields were breached. Hayes aimed for the nacelles, trying to 
cut off their power. It worked. Once nacelle flickered gray and drifted off 
from the body, and the Lexington, now crippled, floundered like a barrel in a 
  Another direct hit to its stern probably killed a few people, and another to 
its bow took more. N?Ges, under the stress and shock of it all, reported, ?Sir, 
we are far enough for EMP.? And the final shot from the Coldstream was an EMP 
missile, which darkened the Lexington inside and out. 
  Hayes looked at the shields. Seven-point-eight. They never got a single shot 
off after the Coldstream turned. Seven-point-nine. Regeneration. 
  He needed another word to get to Barsuk, so he sent a hail that directed a 
single beam of radioactive particles, just to power their screen. On the screen 
on their own bridge, the Coldstream saw a dark, sparking, and fiery vision of 
the bridge they?d seen before. Hayes called for Captain Barsuk, and none of the 
body-shaped shadows moved. He called again, and one, on the floor, nearest the 
screen stirred, and only the voice came through.
  ?Captain Barsuk, your ship is immobile. This is the last chance you have to 
swear you?ll stop your attack. I offer you my surrender, my own. You may take 
me and do what you will, but my crew, who is innocent, must stay. You need 
medical treatment, which my people can provide once you?ve??
  ?They will?will never stop?hunting?for you? Run?running is the only chance? 
you have. More will be here?we?we called for more? You won?t be?be able to stop 
them all? We nearly had you, McQuarrie??
  ?I?m telling you, Barsuk, take me! I?ll beam aboard right now if??
  ?They won?t?they won?t accept that! Now that you?ve?? A thump, much like a 
head hitting the floor, was heard. Barsuk was either dead, or close to it. 
?Computer, Barsuk code nine-seven-beta-beta-two-one-omega. Authorize, 
  ?Captain,? Hayes began.
  ?Engage.? And the screen went white and fizzled out, and in the new view, 
they saw the Lexington erupt in a quickly quenched ball of fire. Bastard blew 
himself up. You keep making this more and more evident that something is wrong.
  ?This is it,? Hayes said to himself, under a breath, as all was now quiet. 
The wounded were stirring, the dead tac officer?s eyes had somehow closed, and 
the red lights stopped their fiery dance of alert. ?N?Ges, set a course for 
anywhere deep in uncharted space, and get that ready while I prepare something.?
  Twenty minutes later, the ship followed its course, and was gone from 
Federation space.
  The USS Talisman halted its movement at a distance far away enough to see the 
spreading of the Lexington debris. Not a soul on board knew what might have 
possibly transpired, not even a guess. The science and tactical department 
heads were ready for investigation, preparing probe after probe to prove 
whatever needed proof. Before any probe was launched, a probe was found. 
Blinking like an old-fashioned buoy, it was found near a rounded piece of 
debris that might have been the very bow of the USS Lexington.
  They pulled the probe on board, and found data for a video log inside. It 
went right to the captain, who sat in his ready room, and watched as a man in 
his mid-fifties appeared behind his own desk. His forehead was sweaty, and 
there were bloody smears on his neck and a redness under his sinuses. He leaned 
his head forward with noticeable severity, and folded his hands before him. On 
his desk beside him, a clear-glass cup of brown tea, fresh from the fire.
  ?Hello,? he said. ?I am Hayes McQuarrie, self-proclaimed former captain of 
the USS Coldstream. Though my own designation would coincide with the 
designation of the rest of the fleet, I must make it clear that I 
wholeheartedly oblige with my removal from the rankings of the Federation?s 
army. I fought the Lexington beginning at stardate 51002.33 and ending at 
51002.4, where the Lexington was neutralized. Though this piece of information 
will obviously be fabricated, let alone disbelieved, upon the neutralization of 
their ship, the captain authorized a self-destruct. He advised me to run, which 
I have. I have run far out of reach, and we?re leaving in thirteen minutes; I 
don?t even know where we?re going, how far, how long we?ll be gone, what we?ll 
do when we return, exactly.
  ?I can tell you one thing, brother or sister, whichever you happen to be. 
I?ve done these things for a reason, and that reason is life-threatening, as 
you?ve seen here. We went down to the planet of Metriaga and encountered a 
being that possessed unreal powers, powers so immeasurable that it destroyed 
the Primo Morire. Yes, IT did. Not I. I only stopped the Primo Morire from 
firing on innocent colonies, at the orders of Admiral Elian Ramirez, who we are 
now, I guess, officially holding hostage.?
  The man on the screen, this Hayes McQuarrie, gave a grin at this thought.
  ?A big secret surrounds this being, and the connection our Admiral Ramirez 
has with it. And the discovery of this secret, though its details remain 
undefined, brought the Lexington here with intent to kill. Not arrest. Kill. 
You have before you, brother, sister, whichever, two ships who we did not 
destroy, and they point to us: the USS Coldstream. You ask yourself why, before 
saving this log and sending it to your superior, before ordering your men to 
perform a search of the nearby systems. You ask yourself why this would happen. 
Here?s why.
  ?There has been a wrong in our immaculate past, and in these advanced times, 
it must be brought to light. If lives hang in the balance, it?s important, 
whatever it is. I am now devoting myself, despite the quite mutinous mood my 
crew is in at the moment, to uncovering the mystery. When I have done so, I 
will come to you. I will come to your systems, I will come to Earth herself, to 
Starbase 1, to Federation HQ, to publicly announce my findings. We?ve lived so 
long in the comfort of supreme peace that the evils? oh I shouldn?t say evil, 
nothing is really evil?the transgressions of our fellow man can go ignored, 
just to maintain that essence of togetherness we?ve adopted as a people. As a 
universe. But this cannot be. We have to make law and righteousness greater, we 
have to ward out these transgressions and conquer them, so that peace can be 
  ?And we will be the ones to do that. For the day when law is bastardized, the 
day when deceit is our code, the day when those who make our safety take it 
away? We have made a free universe. And for the day when that freedom is 
attacked from within, we will take it all back. Refer to us not as the 
Coldstream; we?re under new management, now. This ship will not be called that 
anymore, not be affiliated with a system that has betrayed it. From now on, we? 
we will be called? I like the name Patronus. We will protect and guard, just 
like our name will proclaim. It?s our freedom, our peace, or righteousness that 
we will protect, because that is at stake, that is under attack, and is being 
choked out.
  ?So, it?s time for us to leave now. I?ll be sending this out in a probe, 
which you?ve found already. Shouldn?t be too hard to miss. Hopefully, when and 
if we meet, it will be with your concession to our movement. If you?re not with 
Admirals Ramirez or Remington, I suggest you take a look around you, at your 
men, at your women, and decide who to trust. Because right now, I wouldn?t 
trust a single man with a Federation badge on their shirt. It?s too dangerous. 
Good luck, brother or sister. Remember that Vulcan proverb? Yeah. Do that.?
  And the screen went dark. The heart of the Talisman?s captain was moved, but 
in which way, will be until further notice, undisclosed. 

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  • » <FWG> <Patronus> Issue 1, Article 8: "The Becoming"