[USS Vanguard] RPG: Santos Versus Darkwater

  • From: "andywoho@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <andywoho@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 13:26:44 -0500

Dominic Santos squeezed Desdemona's hand and smiled at her. "I won't let anyone 
die. Not on my watch."

Desdemona nodded, and then a sunny grin spread across her face, resulting in 
the Des who was so familiar. "Do you take everything you say from all those 
movies you watch in the holodeck?"

Santos laughed. He licked his lips and asked, "Des, if there's something 
bothering you, you know you can trust me with whatever it is..."

"I know," she replied. "It's just that..."

"Nick...?" Santos and Des turned to find Aliyah-Amores Lopez-Fitzgerald. Santos 
released Des's hand.

"What is it, Ali?" Santos asked.

"It's McCaw. I saw him running toward the Temple."

Santos looked at Des. The three of them started running toward the Temple. 
Santos tapped his comm badge. There was no response.

As they approached the Temple, Santos stopped behind one of the large trees 
with the low canopies. Cynan Mandrake turned and looked at Santos. Mandrake had 
seen the three others heading toward the Temple and had joined them.

"Do you see anything?" Santos asked Mandrake.

Mandrake shook his head, his eyes scanning the entrance to the Temple. He 
gripped his katana.

"No sign of Kieran," Aliyah said.

"Let's go," Santos said. "There's no use waiting here."

The quartet approached the Temple and walked past the entrance.

The Temple was a quiet crypt, barely lit by the flaming torches erected by the 
older "Kieran Darkwater."

Santos seemed painfully aware of every step they took, which sounded so loud in 
this stone-enclosed place.

"Looking for me?"

They spun and came face-to-face with Darkwater.

"Kieran?" Santos asked, squinting at the figure partially hidden in shadow.

The figure emerged from the shadows.

"Oh, good," Aliyah said. "Kieran."

The figure looked at them each. Then, he/it grinned.

"Not the one you think," he/it said.

Counterfeit-Kieran shimmered, then reappeared as the older Kieran.

Aliyah gasped.

"You're a hologram," Des said.

"Please," he grinned. "I prefer the term 'photonic.'"

"And that's why I couldn't get a real sense of any of you," Des said.

The hologram only smiled.

"Why?" Mandrake said. "Why this charade!"

"More importantly, where's Kieran?" Santos asked.

"He's nearby. Safe. But to answer this rabid creature's question 'Why?'"--it 
sneered and imitated Mandrake--"I don't feel like telling you."

Mandrake unsheathed his katana and took a step toward the hologram.

Santos gripped him by the shoulder.

"No," Santos said. "Evacuate everyone. Do it quietly. Get Zena and prepare the 
Vanguard to break orbit on my order."

Mandrake looked from Santos to the hologram. The hologram continued to sneer at 

"Do it, Commander! Take Aliyah and Des and get everyone back on the ship! Find 

Mandrake pursed his lips, but nodded. "Aye, sir." He turned to Aliyah and Des. 
"Come on! Hurry!"

Santos and the hologram stared at one another until the others left.

"So," the hologram said.

"Let us leave quietly, and I promise we'll leave you alone here," Santos said.


Santos grinned back. "Disengage the holo-transmitters you have hidden in that 

For a moment, Santos detected a look of uncertainty in the hologram's features. 
It felt satisfying.

"How did you know?" it asked.

"I didn't," Santos grinned. "I do now."

Faster than even he had expected, it attacked. The first blow struck Santos on 
the chin, and it was only because Santos managed to pivot at the last moment 
that the blow didn't take his head clean off.

As he had learned to do, Santos put a hand up to shield his face and struck out 
with a roundhouse. Immediately, he knew he had made a mistake, as it grabbed 
Santos's arm and pinioned it behind his back. Santos fought back a yell. In 
desperation, he threw his head back, catching the hologram by surprise in the 
jaw. It staggered back.

"I didn't expect you to be able to feel pain," Santos said, backing away and 
circling around his opponent.

The hologram licked "blood" from its lips and wiped it on the back of its hand. 
It spat a globule of blood on the Temple floor.

"We wanted our experiences to be as lifelike as possible. Perhaps we succeeded."

Santos yelled and charged the hologram, catching it in a viselike bear hug 
around its middle. The two went down. Santos struck it in the face repeatedly. 
Suddenly, the hologram reared up and threw Santos off. It regenerated its 
features and smiled.

"Nice trick," Santos said. "But genuine humans can't do that."

"Ask me if I care," it said. It walked up to Santos and feinted with its right. 
As Santos prepared to block, it struck Santos on the side of the head with a 
vicious left hook. Santos staggered, his vision blurring. He went to the 
ground, where the hologram continued its attack.

"Stupid! We offered you a chance to join us, and you reject us! We offer you 
happiness, and you would have nothing to do with us!" It punctuated its speech 
with kicks to Santos's abdomen. Santos scrambled to get away, but it continued 
its relentless assault. Santos couldn't get his breath, couldn't get to his 
feet. He fought to keep from blacking out.

"Stupid..." Kick. "Mortal..." Kick. "Flawed..." Kick.

Santos backed into a corner, breathing hard. He felt his ribs and wasn't sure 
how many were broken. He looked at the hologram from his one good eye. 
Possibly, his shoulder was badly damaged.

The hologram bore down on him.

"You stupid thing, you lifeless bag," it spat. "This the Great Dominic Cesar 
Santos--listing and dying on this stupid world, had by a group of holograms. 
You are nothing, you know that? Why didn't you simply die with your crew on the 
Gauntlet? You cost them their lives over your stupid pride, is it not fair that 
you should have died along with them?"

Santos stared at this hologram and said nothing. He reached into his tunic.

The hologram laughed. "Are you going to shoot me with your toy? You know, I can 
simply let it pass through me."

Santos aimed and fired. The phaser fire passed through the grinning hologram 
and struck the Ark. "That's what I was counting on."

The hologram turned and saw the holographic emitter exposed, no longer 
protected by the "Ark."

"NO!" it yelled in a hoarse, obviously mechanical screech. It leapt at Santos.

"Yes," Santos said, triggering the phaser past its highest setting. "Goodbye, 
you holographic son of a bitch."

Santos fired, hitting the emitter dead center. It exploded.

The hologram immediately disappeared from existence. Santos slumped against a 
wall and closed his eyes.

Shortly after, Dr. Xristha Droin, Cynan Mandrake, Zena Quetan and Sam McCaw 
found Santos in the Temple.

"My god," McCaw said. "He's badly beaten."

Santos stirred and sat up. "You should see the other guy," he said. "Did you 
get everyone to safety? And how about Kieran?"

"We found him. We used the Vanguard's scanners and located his lifesigns."

Santos laughed. "Wish we'd thought of that before landing here."

Zena forced herself to grin at her captain, trying to hide her horror at his 

"That's enough. I need to get him out of here," Droin said, pulling her medical 
tricorder. "All of you, back off."

Santos waved away her tricorder and shook his head. Droin looked at him not 
just with anger, but exasperation. "Stupid, stupid man," she said quietly. 
"What were you thinking?"

Santos laughed, which turned into a harsh cough.

Cynan and McCaw pulled him to his feet, each of them putting one of his arms 
around their shoulders.

"Don't try to move him...! Oh, never mind." Droin shook her head. "Let's get 
him out of the Temple and in transporter range."

Outside, they stood and prepared to transport.

"You're getting blood all over my uniform, Skipper," McCaw said.

"Shut up, Sam," Santos said.

"Stupid is right," came a voice from behind them.

"I haven't turned this much since the Academy ball," Santos said, turning 

It was "Moira McCaw."

Santos stared at her. "Who are you, really? Why all of this?"

She stared at them passionlessly.

"We are the Fer'ai. We were mapping the Borg conduit when we our ship was 
damaged, forcing us to land on this world. Five of us survived. We are a 
long-lived species, and over the millennia, we have grown weary of each other, 
and we no longer wish to reproduce with one another.

"Then one day, we ran across the remains of a ship, a Federation ship, during 
our normal forays into the Valley. There were no survivors. It had obviously 
been there for a very long time, before our arrival.

"We were able to salvage the computer records from that ship. The records told 
us everything we needed to know--who the occupants of the ship were, why they 
were navigating the Borg conduit, why they had crashed on this world.

"We were surprised to learn from the officers' logs that the ship had visited 
this world once on their way to the Borg homeworld--what a ridiculous and 
suicidal destination!--and during that first visit, they encountered no one on 
this world. (I suppose we must have hidden from you, or you never touched down 
on this planet.)

"You are like your Earth fish, navigating a world you see before you while all 
around you is a world you could never understand. And so you left our world, 
and you proceeded to find the Borg..."

"Moira McCaw" held up a computer record.

"And along the way, as is your wont, you stumbled into misadventures, and your 
ship was damaged repeatedly, and your fellow crewmen died. By the dozens. By 
the time you found the Borg, you sustained heavy damage in a massive attack, 
you retreated like whipped dogs into the conduit and managed to hobble close to 
the conduit leading to your quadrant.

"However, the Borg caught up with you and attacked. You fell out of the sky, 
into this conduit, and crashed--again!--into our world. None of you survives. 
The ship was buried...until we found it, located all your records (miraculously 
undamaged) and brought up enough of your systems to study your records. We 
learned everything we needed to learn about you, and this time, when you passed 
through, we were ready.

"We are Builders. And we Built a world where we thought you may live with us, 
and mate with us, and join us. We studied your records and hoped that your 
'family' would convince you to stay. We cannot leave. There is no way to leave. 
We are old. And bored. We need new life to sustain us. We had hoped to convince 
you to stay, or failing that, somehow find our way aboard your ship, Vanguard, 
and destroy it."

The Vanguard's officers were stunned into remaining silent until this story was 
done. They didn't know how much of it was true, but it all sounded so plausible 
and convincing--after all, were they not here?--that none of them could 
formulate a reply.

Mandrake was the first to react. He held out his hand. He was strangely gentle.

"I need that disk," he said, then added, "Please. I need to see those records."

McCaw gave them the most evil grin they had ever seen. "You mean this?" she 

She threw it in front of them. As Mandrake bent to take it, a phaser bolt 
lanced out and destroyed the disk.

They looked up to see Santos's "guide" to New Vanguard--Kenesha.

"Get out of here," she said. The two women turned and ran back into the woods.

Santos began coughing and McCaw lost his grip. Santos fell to the ground.

"Nick!" Zena said, trying to help him up. The captain turned and vomited a 
large quantity of blood.

Droin dropped to one knee next to Santos. She tapped her comm badge.

=/\= "Vanguard, Droin. Medical emergency! Two to beam directly to Sickbay." 
=/\= They disappeared in a shimmer of light.

Zena tapped her comm badge and ordered transport for the rest of the party.

"Are we ready to get underway?" Zena asked, strolling on the bridge.

Sam McCaw turned from the Science station. "Yes...sir," he replied. He nearly 
called her "Captain," but he couldn't bring himself to use the honorific. It 
would seem too much like he had already considered Santos dead, and not merely 
hanging on in the sickbay.

"Aye, sir," Mandrake said.

"Take us back into the Borg conduit," Zena said. "And look snappy about it," 
she said.

"Aye, aye," Mandrake said.

As the Vanguard proceeded into the conduit, McCaw turned to Zena.

"Where are we going, Zena? What are we going to do?"

Zena turned from McCaw to study the viewscreen. The Borg conduit seemed 
impossibly vast and mysterious. Their destination was uncertain, and now, they 
were lost, as they had no way to navigate this massive cosmic byway.

Zena turned back toward McCaw.

"We move forward, Sam," she said. "It was the reason that we began this 
mission, and if Nick Santos, I will make sure this crew finishes his last 
mission, the one he died for."

"What if he dies? Then the mission is already over."

McCaw had never seen the determination in Zena that he witnessed now. "We can't 
let him die. If that man dies, then perhaps the future dies with him.

"We cannot allow that to happen."

[Mission end]

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