[ Backlog – Eight Months Ago ]
U.S.S. Corsair - NCC-011979
Nova Class Starship
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
Captain Taverain C. Ramius, Commanding
In Orbit Above The Astate Colony
"A Common Enemy"
Captain Taverain Ramius sat quietly in his ready room as he skillfully erased the transporter logs from the ship’s main computer. No trace of beaming Captain Zane Akina aboard the Corsair from Astate could be allowed to exist. He had left orders with Doctor Durandal that Akina would not be entered as a medical case into the computer and that he only be treated for his injuries without questions or standard procedures. Akina was to be treated as nothing more than a phantom – at least for now.
Ramius was anxious. Although he had great respect for Captain Akina and his accomplishments, Ramius’s own history with the NeoDyne Corporation superseded the Captain’s recent investigation and discoveries. Ramius had to know how much the man had learned. If he knew too much things could be come extremely complicated forcing him to take measures he would never consider otherwise. Hopefully he could reach an understanding with the captain. They both had an old score to settle with certain individuals that might aid in forging a working relationship. Ramius would have to evaluate Akina and see if such trust was possible. If it wasn’t he would have to find a way to make the Captain disappear. Such were the stakes regarding the knowledge Akina now had in his possession.
He glanced at the blood spattered tricorder on his desk. The ship’s main computer was still busy decrypting the high grade code used to protect most of the information Akina had managed to extract from the NeoDyne computer systems. It would be sometime before any of the data would be available for analysis or review. He had to hand it to the Captain – the man was an excellent intelligence operative. It was highly likely the data he had obtained would prove to be of particular usefulness and quality.
“Sickbay to Captain”, Durandel’s voice cut in suddenly. “The patient is conscious and I’ve had him sent to your quarters as instructed with an armed escort.”
“Thank you doctor – I appreciate your expediency.”
“Captain, I’ll go along with this for now, but I want an explanation as to what’s going on. That man, who I wasn’t allowed to identify, still needs rest and medical attention. I will not withhold administering my duties and obligations to treat the wounded forever. Whatever business you have with him, I suggest you conduct it quickly sir. I do not want a confrontation with my commanding officer, but you have put me in a difficult position sir.”
“Your objections are noted for the record doctor. I have my reasons, but I will assure you that the patient will receive proper care as soon as I have spoken with him to my satisfaction.”
“Very well captain. I would expect you will notify me if there are any problems with the man?”
“You have my word doctor.”
“That’s all I need. Durandel out.”
Ramius grabbed the tricorder from his desk and exited his ready room onto the bridge. “Number One, I’ll be in my quarters. I don’t want to be disturbed for the next three hours under any circumstances. You have the conn.”
Stepping into the turbolift Ramius headed toward his quarters for a conversation he was not looking forward to.
[ Moments Later – Captain’s Personal Quarters ]
Ramius dismissed the guards outside his door and entered his quarters. As the doors closed he issued a firm order to the computer. “Computer, seal the room and place level one forcefields at the doors. Disable all audio, recording, and sensor systems – authorization Ramius Delta 11257 Sigma.”
Captain Zane Akina, bruised and battered, sat on the Captain’s sofa with an odd expression on his face. The two captains exchanged silent glances for a time before Ramius had a seat across from Akina at his office desk. Folding his hands on his desk, Ramius said nothing instead taking a moment to visually inspect the man sitting across from him.
“No questions, no answers, doctor’s who say nothing, armed escorts, and now sealed and secured rooms – if I didn’t know better Captain Ramius, I’d say this was an official interrogation”, Zane stated calmly. “I have some experience in such things”, he remarked with a touch of sarcasm.
“You know me”, Ramius asked with an inquisitive tone.
“Does that surprise you Captain”, Zane asked. “Your step-father I believe happens to be an Admiral in Intelligence and you yourself are well known as being one of the greatest living combat pilots of all time. What was it they call you – ‘the hero of Anataraine? You destroyed an entire squadron of enemy fighters single handedly and saved your disabled starship from certain destruction – but of course all that information is classified – except to those in the intelligence community who take interest in such matters.”
“Like yourself I assume”, Ramius replied flatly. “I assume you have some interest in such matters?”
“Why yes. You’re quite the fascinating individual. Your personal record isn’t the best in the fleet – impersonating officers, stealing equipment, disobeying direct orders, breaking the chain of command, misuse of Federation property for personal gain, violating the territorial sovereignty of another species – of course that’s all off the record – quietly hushed up by your well connected step father, the good Admiral. Your combat record though is the stuff of legend – I assume it’s why they gave you command of this starship? With the recent Second Dominion War – I suppose even Starfleet needed every seasoned military veteran they could find given the darker days of the conflict. I’m just surprised someone with your record is still in command after the end of the last war.”
“I sense some malevolence there Captain Akina.”
“No ill will, just personal objections. You’re undisciplined. You don’t follow the rules. You make your own which can endanger yourself as well as others. You are a maverick; dangerous and unpredictable which makes you more of a liability than an asset.”
“Is that so”, Ramius answered. “Is that advice from an expert on the subject? You seem to have taken a few liberties yourself Captain Akina. I believe you’ve impersonated a few officers on Astate, hell you’re officially listed as Missing in Action and yet failed to report back in so you could conduct your personal investigation in private. You’ve associated yourself with local mercenaries – not the best crowd of allies out there, and you were around when a 100 kiloton fusion explosion suddenly detonated on a peaceful tropical island in the middle of nowhere. I won’t even get into the fact that you trespassed on Starfleet property, improperly accessed Starfleet systems, or made use of illegal technology much like this tricorder here for non-official, personal business. Either you and I have something in common, or your last statement seems somewhat hypocritical sir”
Akina didn’t reply, but tipped his head slightly in acknowledgement of Ramius’s better than expected knowledge of his actions and movements. “You are well informed captain. Very well informed it would seem.”
The two glared at each other for a time. The tension between the two was evident. Neither cared for the other, however the silent mood in the room was more along the lines of rivalry than hatred.
“Well since you know so much about me Mr. Akina, let me return the favor”, Ramius said calmly. “Captain Zane Akina, Starfleet Intelligence Operative – Service Number 3764189. Your accomplishments are many, but your crowning achievement is infiltrating and exposing illegal arms deals between NeoDyne Corp and the Breen roughly ten years ago. The evidence and media coverage nearly bankrupted and ruined the company. I myself was quite alarmed when I learned the company had managed to survive after your impressive work.”
“And why is that Captain Ramius? What vested interest could you possibly have in a corporation such as NeoDyne? I exposed a threat and a wrong doing, it was my job. What does that have to do with you?”
“Everything”, Ramius replied cryptically. “Let us get to the heart of this conversation. While I enjoy our dialog, I have need of information. Information you possess Akina.”
“Agreed. What is it you seek Ramius?”
“We’re analyzing the tricorder you had in your possession. Most of the data is heavily encrypted and will take some time to decode. But beyond that – I want to know what happened down there on that island. I know NeoDyne was involved, but I need facts and I believe you can provide them.”
“Captain Ramius, your actions thus far don’t exactly inspire a climate of mutual trust. Especially when the stakes are this high. While your record is impressive and your step father is an influential Admiral in Intelligence, I am not obligated to tell you anything. Trust is something that has to be earned in my book. So far, you’ve given me little if nothing in return and no reasons to trust you. My investigation is classified. You have little if no jurisdiction in my affairs.”
“I have top intelligence clearance”, Ramius firmly stated. “Dear old dad provides me with that much.”
“Nevertheless, I am indebted to you for saving my life from those corrupt marines back on the island. That is a debt I cannot easily repay – but the price you are asking in exchange is too high. I cannot be sure you aren’t working for NeoDyne yourself – it seems everyone else around here is. My objective is to get my information to Starfleet command and expose the corporation for the atrocities it has committed on Astate. Until that goal is met – I cannot and will not give you what you seek.”
“Captain Akina”, Ramius said coldly. “You won’t be contacting Starfleet about what you have seen or uncovered. And the information you obtained from the facility below stays with this ship. I cannot tolerate this knowledge escaping into the public – it can never be exposed. I’m sure you can understand? I have a fair idea what you may have seen down there and from the fire in your eyes I can tell your soul wants revenge for what occurred.”
Ramius paused for a moment as he noted Akina’s subtle change in expression. “Don’t look so surprised Akina. I’ve seen that look dozens of times in the eyes of fighter pilots who wanted nothing more than to fight an impossible fight, to sacrifice themselves, to avenge a fellow pilot or crewman against any and all odds! You have the look of a pilot with just that expression; one who is driven to avenge an injustice. And not just any injustice; one that transcends all decency and honor. But the foe you seek is far too influential and well equipped. Besides you’ve already hurt them once – do you really expect they would let you do so again so easily?
“What are you getting at Ramius”, Akina snapped his injuries and fatigue still very much with him. He was annoyed Ramius seemed to know so much about him and his feelings. Was the man an empath or perhaps telepathic? He’d seen nothing of such abilities in Ramius’s records that he could recall.
“You need allies and so do I. We both want to same thing – we both want NeoDyne destroyed. Neither of us alone possesses the power to take on the entire company, but together with other allies, unified in purpose, we can inflict damage – perhaps fatal damage this time – that is if you are willing to help.”
Ramius stood from his desk and walked about his quarters slowly considering his next words. “I’m not here to coerce you or force you into anything. If we are to build a relationship – that first step must start with trust.”
“Captain Ramius, with all due respect, why should I trust you? All you’ve given me is a good speech – words which neither help nor hurt me. I’m afraid I need something more tangible. Why don’t we start with your reason for wanting NeoDyne destroyed and then perhaps we can work our way up from there. An equitable request, don’t you agree?”
“My reasons”, Ramius whispered to himself. He stared at Akina for a long moment as he paced the room as if contemplating a difficult decision.
“If we are to work together I suppose you are entitled to both my reasons and the truth. However, Captain, I will give you a choice.
“Computer, release forcefields and locks on doors.”
“I’ll permit you to leave this ship, now if you choose to do so. You’ll be beamed to the outskirts of Astate where you can go about your career and forget we ever met – I however shall keep your tricorder and the information on NeoDyne. My connections probably outweigh yours – so you will in essence have nothing to report to Starfleet other than a fantastic story that few officers will believe or accept.”
“And my second option”, Akina asked his tone angry.
“I will give you my reasons for seeking NeoDyne’s demise and complete your understanding of their dark ambitions and activities for the last twenty years. However, in doing so, you must agree to a partnership with myself and others who seek the ultimate goal of toppling NeoDyne and its leadership. This partnership is non-negotiable and once initiated into this circle of allies you cannot leave. If you accept I will give you the answers you seek, and a chance to quench the fire inside you to take revenge on the company, but in return we have to establish a mutual bond of trust and respect. Your obedience is what I will require and demand for I, and I alone, hold the key to NeoDyne’s destruction.
Akina listened. Ramius used the word ‘key’. It was just like Dr. Ballentine’s medical notes. He too referred to a key. Was it possible Ramius was talking about the same thing? How much did this man know about NeoDyne and its activities? He seemed well informed. Extremely well informed.
“That is all I can say captain. The door is there and unsealed. You may leave now or stay – the choice is yours.”
Akina’s eyes narrowed as he evaluated the Captain’s unusual proposition. Such an alliance was odd to say the least, but could he trust Ramius? The man had a sterling record of loyalty and duty to the fleet that was beyond question despite his reckless and cavalier methods which differed little from Akina’s own unorthodox ways for accomplishing difficult tasks no one else dared to conquer or approach.
Akina stood from the couch and moved toward the Captain. He looked the man in the eyes, carefully, like a scientist probing for data. He saw nothing in Ramius’s eyes but a genuine fire that betrayed no ill intent or deception.
“Very well Captain. I accept your offer. However, before I agree to such terms I must have some type of assurance. I sense no ill will, but I’ve worked in intelligence too long to take many things on faith alone.”
“A reasonable request. Computer, reseal the doors.” Ramius moved to the corner of his desk where he stopped running a finger along its thick, obsidian colored surface. “Tell me Captain Zane, have you ever seen the impossible?”
“I’m not sure what you mean Captain”, Zane replied. “I’ve seen quite a lot in my career. There are many things the uneducated or ill-informed could refer to as impossible.”
“How about a nightmare then? Something unnatural – something that should have never existed, but despite the odds, is a reality. Have you seen something mankind was never meant to see, something that began innocently enough, but in the wrong hands could alter the balance of power in this galaxy, destroy the peace, and perhaps mankind itself?”
Akina saw the faces of the children, destroyed in the NeoDyne facility flash before his eyes.
“Yes, I may have seen something similar to what you are describing, but that nightmare is gone – forever. Neodyne saw to that.”
“Did they”, Ramius replied with a questioning tone. Turning to face Captain Akina, Ramius took a deep breath and lowered his head. His hands turned to fists and when his head finally rose, Akina nearly fell backwards at the shock of what he saw. Bracing himself against the edge of the couch, Akina sucked in a terrified breath. “It..it isn’t possible!”
“NO”, he said regaining his footing. Zane looked on at Ramius whose eyes were now the same brilliant crimson as the NeoDyne teenager’s below who he had fought in the facility only a few hours prior.
“What the hell”, Zane shouted. “What is this – you’re one of them? You’re one of NeoDyne’s experiments?”
Ramius raised his arm and in a flash sunk it through the dense corner of his obsidian desk made of plasteel and other materials that a normal human would have been unable to dent, let alone scratch. Without any expression of pain, he withdrew his bloody arm embedded with fragments of glass and wood which he carefully extracted and tossed to the floor. Curling his arms and fist before him, Zane looked on with wide eyes as the wounds quickly stopped bleeding and began to heal as if by magic. No dermal regenerators, no equipment, Ramius’s arm was repairing itself before his very eyes.
A few minutes past as Ramius replicated a towel to clean his wounds and returned to his chair. The color of his eyes slowly faded back to the blue-grey pupils Zane had first noticed. Ramius said nothing giving Akina time to absorb what he had just witnessed.
Akina sat in silence unsure what to say or how to react. The captain was just like the children – had he been one of the experiments himself? Had he escaped NeoDyne sometime in the past?
“Captain, I must say you have my undivided attention”, Zane finally spoke.
“Captain Akina, you and I need to come to an understanding. An agreement – a contract that transcends friendship –be it professional or otherwise, but we must trust each other. I want nothing else than to see NeoDyne destroyed. I’m sure after what you witnessed on the planet you want the same. Thus we have a common enemy and a common threat that if not stopped could cause destruction on a grand scale.”
“I’m listening Captain”, Zane answered still shocked by Ramius’s demonstration.
“I have a good idea what NeoDyne was attempting down there – It was I who funded your mission via a certain mutual acquaintance, Mr. Ailec Reltah.”
“You were the one”, Zane said astonished. “I wondered why the mercenary was so willing to assist with so few strings attached.”
“Indeed. Since you nearly destroyed NeoDyne ten years ago, I’ve followed you with great interest. It’s what led me here. I’m sorry if I manipulated events and even yourself, but I had to know what NeoDyne was up to and you were the perfect candidate. I believe you succeeded brilliantly, but as you no doubt have experienced first hand, NeoDyne is a corrupt and morally twisted organization. Their president seeks to develop technology for profit and personal gain. Alistair Merikai will stop at nothing to obtain those goals. That is why he has been searching for both myself and my brother for nearly twenty years. My brother was not as fortunate, he was captured by them some years ago, but escaped, but not before they obtained samples of his DNA – samples which they were mostly likely using to create beings of great strength and power. Does any of this sound familiar Akina?”
“You, you are just like the others I saw. One nearly tried to kill me. I tried to save the others – but, I was unsuccessful. They were all children damn it – NeoDyne was playing God with human children! Children with incredible strength and speed. One even referred to himself as the ultimate life form.”
Ramius leaned back in his chair examining the man closely. “Indeed, that supports my suspicions. I will give you my story as this entire affair began with my brother and I, but other than my step-father the Admiral, Doctor Durandal, and my twin brother you will be the only one else alive, with the exception of Merikai himself who knows my family’s dark secrets. Be warned – what I have shown you will never again leave this room. If it does your life is forfeit and I will use every means at my disposal to hunt you down and silence you. Now, do you accept my terms or are we done speaking?”
“I think I’m beginning to like you captain”, Zane answered. “I’ll choose the risk if you don’t mind. I have many questions that demand answers and you seem to know a great deal. Perhaps we can be useful to one another since we have like goals and objectives.”
The two men, bonded by a common enemy, shook hands to make the agreement official.
“Captain Ramius, I have many questions.”
“Of course”, Ramius replied. “But I have a promise to keep. You require additional medical attention and rest. We can speak in detail on this matter as soon as you recuperate from your recent ordeal otherwise my chief medical officer will likely have my head. He is the one officer who has more power than either of us combined. For your sake and mine I suggest you report to sickbay.
Akina nodded as he headed for the doors which Ramius unlocked.
“Captain Akina – my trust and my faith on what we have discussed I seldom grant. Do not make me regret my decision.”
“My word is my bond Captain. I do not give it lightly. You have exposed yourself, no doubt at great personal risk, to forge a relationship based on a mutual enemy. I respect a man who is willing to take such risks – it shows courage, integrity, and honor. Qualities I value. While your concern is not unfounded you have my personal word as a man and as a Starfleet officer that this matter will stay between us for as long as you deem necessary. I can see you are far more acquainted with certain facts than myself and look forward to our next meeting.”
Ramius nodded slightly. “Get some rest Captain. We shall speak of this again soon. There is much to discuss if we are to pursue this dangerous course together.”
Akina noticed Ramius’s arm bore little trace of ever being injured other than a general reddish swelling. The cuts and bruises he had seen moments before had vanished.
“Do not concern yourself with my well being or my desk’s, we’ll be fine", Ramius said noticing the Captain's glances. "You’re the one who needs the medical attention Captain. I suggest you return to sickbay.”
Akina nodded stepping through the doors to the captain’s quarters.
Ramius rubbed his arm which throbbed. A minor demonstration of his unusual abilities wouldn’t cause any severe effects, but it was enough to keep him off the bridge for the next hour in the event he paid the usual penalty for using his enhancements.
Tapping his comm. badge, Ramius called a trusted security guard.
“Ramius to Lt. Vannaire, see to it Captain Akina makes it to sickbay and inform me when he arrives.”
“Aye sir”, came the reply.
Ramius had a good feeling from their initial talk. Trust would take some time to develop, but they were both linked by a common enemy – NeoDyne. That alone should help them form a lasting relationship. If the company was to be stopped – Ramius would have to find allies he could trust. The official channels were out – no one would believe the horrors NeoDyne was engaged in, and Ramius himself, was a target. If word ever leaked out about his condition – Starfleet themselves might decide to stick him under a microscope for the rest of his life – and that was a outcome that he could never let happen whatever the cost – even if it meant forfeiting his own life. The secrets coursing through his veins had begun with him and would end with him – the universe’s ultimate mistake, Taverain Ramius and his twin brother were victims of a terrible curse that was theirs to bear and protect. Ramius had realized it might someday cost him his own life to forever erase the dark secrets within him from ever again threatening the peace of the galaxy. However, until he was forced to make such a sacrifice, he would pursue NeoDyne to the ends of the galaxy and beyond as long as it took to avenge his parent’s deaths and stop a madman from his insidious plans to institute dominion over everyone and everything.
[ To Be Continued … ]
Commander Keith Durandal
Chief Medical Officer, USS Corsair
Captain Zane Akina
Captain Taverain Ramius
CO, USS Corsair