Heroes and Demons 1

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Title: Star Trek-Infinity: Heroes and Demons [PG] (MISC) Author: Charles Rando (trando@worldnet.att.net) Series: MISC Rating: [PG] Part: NEW 1/2 Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and Peter David owns the Selelvian race (see his book, Strike Zone). I'd like to think that the characters I've invented and the story are mine. :-) Summary: While awaiting repairs on the Infinity, Captain Rando is forced to escort the same man who almost destroyed his ship to Starfleet, and Lieutenant Remley picks up a new habit... one that might threaten his career.

CHAPTER ONE "Captain," reported the young officer at OPS. "We are now in visual range of Starbase 306." Captain Charles Rando nodded. Next to him, Commander Kevin Witherell couldn't suppress a slight smile. "On screen, Lieutenant," Rando ordered, and the starfield that had occupied the ship's viewscreen just seconds before was replaced with the awesome sight of a Federation Starbase. The base was cylindrical, rotating in space to create an artificial gravity for all its inhabitants. Of course, if you were a ship's navigator, attempting to dock with the starbase, you had to time your approach perfectly so you would enter the docking bay doors before they rotated away. It wasn't that difficult a maneuver... but it wasn't an easy one either. "Mr. Johnson, open a channel to the Starbase." The OPS chief nodded. "Channel open, Captain." "This is Captain Charles Rando of the U.S.S. Infinity requesting permission to dock. We are in need of repairs, and any help you could give us would be very appreciated." "Captain Rando!" greeted the face of a young officer that appeared suddenly on the viewscreen. "I'm Commander Higgins, XO of Starbase 306. I'm sorry the Admiral couldn't greet you himself, he is otherwise detained. But I pass along his welcome to you, and I also apologize for not being able to send out a tow ship for you." The smile on his face had slowly disappeared during the last sentence. "As you know, we're currently having... problems." Rando nodded. "The Klingons." Just two weeks before, while the Infinity was just beginning its slow trip back to the nearest starbase, a massive coup d'etat had taken place on the Cardassian homeworld. Some powers in the Alpha Quadrant saw the coup as a welcome change... the new government seemed much more cooperative and friendlier than the old military reign Cardassia had had. The Klingon Empire, however, did not agree with this assessment. In their opinion, the coup on Cardassia was the result of Dominion infiltration, shapeshifters to be exact... and they had been determined to expose this infiltration by killing all the leaders of Cardassia's government and incorporating the Cardassian empire into their own. The Federation had intervened and proven that the Cardassian government was not being influenced by the Dominion... but by that time it was too late. Chancellor Gowron had nullified the peace agreement between the Federation and the Klingon empire... bringing both parties into a state of war. "That's right," Higgins told him. "We've had calls for assistance coming in from some heavily damaged ships... more damaged than yours, at least. We had to make a judgment call... I'm just sorry you ended up on the losing end." Rando smiled politely. "It wasn't a problem, Commander," he replied. "We've made it here... in one piece, more or less. The question is... can you make room for us?" Higgins nodded. "We've been preparing for you, Captain. I'll send docking instructions to you right now." "Thank you, Commander. We'll be seeing you shortly, then. Infinity out." Rando walked over to the command center of the bridge and sat in his chair. Counselor Sonja Kassal regarded him. "You're sure you want to go through with this, Charlie?" Rando looked at her. "Definitely, Counselor. It's time for a change, and I trust your judgment. Everything will be fine, I'm sure." She sighed in resignation. "If you insist." "Captain, I've just received our docking orders from the Starbase," the Bajoran ensign reported from CONN. "By all means, Ensign Marit, take us in," Rando ordered. "Yes sir," came the response. Ensign Marit seemed a bit more... enthusiastic than usual. Of course, being trapped on a ship for two weeks and then getting the opportunity to go somewhere else probably did that to a person. "Captain," Lieutenant Johnson spoke up from the helm. "Incoming message from Starbase 306." He turned to look at Rando. "For your eyes only, sir." Rando blinked in surprise and stood. "Very well, I'll take it in my ready room." After the Captain was gone, Counselor Kassal shared a glance with Commander Witherell. "I wonder what that was about," the elf asked. "So do I, Counselor," Witherell replied. He had sensed tension coming from the Captain over this message... but he hadn't been able to determine why. "Lieutenant Johnson, let me know when the Captain is finished with his message," Witherell instructed the OPS officer. "Aye sir," Johnson replied. ****************************************************** "What?" Commander Witherell paused for a second as the doors opened for him, and then strode into the Captain's ready room. Yet again, his captain was emanating tension. "Problems, sir?" Rando glared at his first officer, indicating that there were indeed problems. Witherell sighed. His relationship with Captain Rando had been like this ever since he and Counselor Kassal had been forced to bring Rando out of a deep coma by telepathically entering his mind. They had seen memories that Rando hadn't wanted anyone to see, and despite the fact that his life had been saved, Rando had yet to forgive his first officer and counselor for the intrusion. "That's one way of putting it, Commander. I've just received word from Starfleet Command regarding our 'guest.'" "Paul McCue," Witherell noted, indicating the man from the mirror universe the Infinity had granted asylum to; the captain of the ship that had caused the Infinity such damage that it needed a Starbase to be repaired; the double of a man who had died over a decade ago on a botched away mission. "I am to take Mr. McCue to rendez-vous with the U.S.S. Ottawa. The Ottawa will then take him back to Earth for debriefing and psychological analysis." "They want YOU to take him, sir? But the Infinity is just about to be repaired," Witherell protested. "Not the Infinity," Rando replied. "This matter is obviously of enough importance to Starfleet Command that they want me to take him in a shuttlecraft." Witherell nodded. That was why Rando was so tense... a shuttle flight with a man who reminded him too much of his past... a past Rando would have rather forgotten. And depending on where the Ottawa was, that flight could take hours... maybe even days. "Sir, why can't the Ottawa come here and retrieve Mr. McCue? The shuttles have limited warp capabilities, and they'd be able to get here much faster than you'd be able to reach them." "The Ottawa is investigating a planet in the Gallus sector," Rando replied. Two days away at warp three, Witherell calculated. "As soon as their mission ends, they're headed back to Earth. They have a schedule to keep, and this is the only way this transfer will work." "Sir, if you'd prefer... I could accompany Mr. McCue to the Ottawa... you could look after the repairs on the ship," Witherell suggested. "And be bored out of my skull?" Rando asked. "Besides, Starfleet WANTS me there... God knows why... so I'm going." Witherell nodded, although the Captain's next thought was specifically clear. "Doesn't mean I have to like it." CHAPTER TWO Within the next hour, the Infinity was docked inside Starbase 306 for repairs and its crew had filed off the ship for some long awaited shoreleave. The starbase had much more to offer than the Infinity... the latest in holographic novels and movies, a recreation facility with acres and acres of living grass and trees, game areas, museums... and a vast variety of restaurants with food from all cultures. Lieutenant Chris Johnson stopped in front of a what looked like an old Earth pub. "He wouldn't be in there, would he?" Johnson thought to himself. He shrugged. "Only one way to find out." There he was. Lieutenant Evan Remley was seated at the pub's bar... a group of empty beer bottles in front of him. The way the big security chief sat slouched on his stool reminded Johnson of himself just a few months ago. He took a seat next to Remley. "Hey, Evan, how's it going?" At first, Remley didn't seem to notice Johnson's presence. It was a full ten seconds before he turned his head in Johnson's direction. Then he turned away again. "I came in here to be alone," he muttered. Johnson had heard all of this before... he had said it himself before Counselor Kassal had dragged him out of the mess hall and to her quarters for a counseling session. "Excuse me for asking, Lieutenant, but if you wanted to be alone... why didn't you just stay in your quarters?" Remley held up a bottle. "'Cause they don't serve this in my quarters." Johnson studied the security chief. "Something tells me that's not synth," he remarked. "Very perceptive, OPS boy," Remley replied, his tone harsh. "I don't need synth... I need this." Johnson shook his head. He had been wrong to compare Remley to himself after Joy had left him... Remley was obviously worse off. "Evan... is there anything you want to talk about?" Johnson asked. The question was innocent enough... that was how Counselor Kassal had gotten him talking. Remley whipped around to face Johnson, knocking over his collection of bottles in the process. "That is all anyone wants to do," he snapped. "'You want to talk, Evan?' 'Tell me your problems, Evan.' The Captain, the Counselor... can't you all just leave me alone?!" He slammed his fist down on the bar, attracting the attention of the pub's other denizens. Johnson nodded his head slowly. "Right, chief. If that's what you want... I'll leave you alone." He backed away from Remley slowly, and left. Remley didn't watch him go. ****************************************************** Lieutenant Ken Schroeder came to attention as Captain Rando approached his position outside Captain McCue's quarters. "Sir. We are ready for the transfer." Rando nodded brusquely. The sooner they got started, the sooner this would be over with. "Good. Get him and let's go." "Yes sir," Schroeder replied, keying his access code into the door controls. They opened, and Schroeder waved his hand inside. Seconds later, the man who called himself Paul McCue was escorted out of the room by two other security guards. His hands were clasped behind his back with impenetrable handcuffs, but his face was completely serene for a man in his position. "Captain Rando," he greeted. "Good to see you again." Rando did not acknowledge McCue's words. The procession of officers continued off towards the nearest turbolift, which quickly brought them to shuttlebay one. The whole time, Schroeder and his men kept a close eye on McCue, not sure what to expect of this visitor from another universe. A young woman was waiting for them in the shuttlebay. "Captain," she said with a smile. "I've been looking forward to this!" Rando flashed her a look that told her, "I haven't." Then he sighed. "Ensign Campos," he replied. "Good to see you again." "Gaby, sir," Campos replied. She looked at the man being led onto the shuttle, "Is that our prisoner?" "Technically, we've given him asylum," Rando told her. "But between you and me... yes." "I'll keep a good eye on him, then," Campos responded with another smile, and then moved away to board the shuttle herself. "He's secure, sir," Schroeder reported as he and his men made their ways out of the same hatch Campos had disappeared into. "It's the most we can do... Starfleet regulations prevent us from treating him like a real prisoner... which is why he gets to take this little trip. At least we're able to cuff him until you get where you're going." "I'll still think it'd be a smart idea to have a security guard accompany us," Rando told him. "I know that Starfleet policy doesn't allow that in these asylum cases... but I feel like we're just asking for trouble." "So do I, sir," Schroeder agreed. "That's why I want you to take this with you... keep it handy at all times." He passed a phaser to the Captain. "In case anything goes wrong... take him out. Ask questions later." "Very poetic, Lieutenant," Rando replied dryly, holstering the phaser. "Good luck, sir," Schroeder said, and then led his men out of the shuttlebay. Rando watched them leave before entering the shuttle. Ensign Campos... Gaby... was already running the pre-launch tests from the pilot's seat, while Paul McCue watched her from his seat at the rear of the cockpit. Rando was slightly disturbed that Campos had begun the tests before he had arrived, since they required her to have her back to McCue. He said so. "Don't worry, Captain. He's been in my line of sight the entire time," Gaby replied. "He's been very well behaved so far." As Rando took his seat in the co-pilot's chair, he noticed that Ensign Campos had installed a mirror on her console that allowed her to see McCue. Not very advanced technology... but effective. She would have seen McCue the instant he tried anything. "Well then, let's get going," Rando told the pilot. "Sooner we leave... the sooner we can get back." "Shuttlebay has cleared us, sir... and so has the starbase," Gaby said. "Engaging thrusters and taking her out." Two days. Those words echoed non-stop through Rando's mind. And each time the thought came back to him, he began to like the situation less and less. He concluded that he wouldn't get any sleep until the trip back. CHAPTER THREE Rando's eyes popped open as the ship lurched. Damn! So much for not sleeping! He looked at Campos as the ship lurched again. "What's wrong?" Gaby shook her head. "I don't know... the warp engines are acting up... almost like they're about to go off-line, but then they don't." The ship lurched again, and the streaking stars on the shuttle's viewscreen became pinpoints. "We've dropped out of war...." The shuttle lurched again, but this time, the ship's inertial dampers didn't activate in time. The young pilot's head smashed against her console, right before she was pitched out of her seat. Rando quickly kneeled beside her. McCue stood from his chair and Rando turned on him. "Sit back down... now." "I hardly think this is the time or place for us to..." "Sit back down... NOW!" Rando exploded, whipping out his phaser. McCue took his seat, and Rando turned his attention back to Gaby. She was unconscious, but still alive. "Captain, I really do think that you should..." Rando's head snapped up and his eyes leveled on McCue's. "Shut up!" he barked. "If I don't stabilize her..." "If you don't stabilize this craft, she'll be dead anyway!" McCue shouted at him, still in his seat. His eyes were glued to...