"The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve »

Two days of high warp travel brought the Aurora into the Domaram Cluster. With their launch point coming up, Robert assembled his landing team in the Jayhawk. It would be the largest such team he'd assembled since the assault on the old Ancient city-ship in N1C4.

Lucy, her student Talara, and Gina would be going, as the members of his personal ops team. Meridina, Yellow, Julia, Miko, and Liara were all coming along as well, with Jarod to pilot the Jayhawk and back them up if necessary.

Everyone was suiting up. Those with metaphysical sensitivity, save Megaera, donned their Order of Swenya-style armor and robes. Julia, Miko, and Liara fit themselves into the dark-colored protective field ops suits made for Paladins and their teams. It was made of the same materials as Stellar Navy field action uniforms, but with further integrated capabilities and thicker armor material.

Megaera simply had arrived for the meeting in a black jumpsuit with boots and a burnous tossed over it, carrying a long black pelican case. She seemed unconcerned about other preparations, though she was armed with lightsabre, sword and pistol.

Robert could feel the sensation in Julia as she looked over her suit. She would rather be in her own field uniform. But she was still officially on medical leave and it would violate a host of regulations to be on official duty in any capacity, even with him. It could cost her command of the Aurora. So it couldn't be risked.

"So, just where do you think the Temple is?" Talara asked Meridina. "Would your people have built it somewhere significant?"

"I cannot be sure my people built this place," Meridina answered. "This world was not even known to us at the time. Reshan may have had another species aid him in constructing it."

"We'll find out more as we approach." Lucy gestured to the cockpit. "Jarod will be monitoring sensors."

"Given there's a native species on the planet, Reshan probably had the Temple placed somewhere remote," Liara said. "He wouldn't want the local species causing any problems. It would be somewhere with limited habitability and access to water."

"That assumes the Temple doesn't have some kind of camouflage. Holographic generators, or it might be underground." A bemused grin crossed Lucy's face. "That would fit the adventure holovid feel pretty well, wouldn't it? Have it in the heart of some cave network or mountain."

Robert chuckled at Lucy's remark. He wasn't the only one, and he turned to note the small grin forming on Megaera's face. I wonder if she knows, that might be why she finds it so funny?

"I don't know," Megaera said, turning her head to face him even with the wrap around her eyes. She laughed. "Reshan wouldn't trust me with the location either."

"Because you served the Alekto?" asked Lucy.

"Among other reasons," she replied cryptically.

"Varma to Dale." Kaveri's voice sounded through the hold, courtesy of the Jayhawk's internal speakers. "We are approaching the planned launch point. Our ETA is thirty minutes."

Robert drew in a breath. Maybe now we'll learn more about the ancient Darkness war. Maybe even how to keep them from ever coming back. "Thank you, Captain," he replied. "We're on schedule to launch as planned."

“Then it’s best for us to discuss my gifts now,” Megaera said abruptly, and flipped open the case. “I had these replicated last night, they’ll never be as good as the real thing… So just replace them often.” The case was filled with small firearms and daggers with a particular silver sheen, as well as silvered gorgets with clasps.

Julia glanced at Megaera's sword and thought of her mother's old necklace, currently under her operations suit. "It's for any Pretenders we run into," she realized aloud.

Lucy raised the question many of them were thinking. "Why does silver hurt them? Is it just because that's what people believe about actual vampires?"

“Yes. They are, as I said, your fears transformed into reality,” Megaera said, “with the virtue being they have weaknesses from those same fears.”

"Weird." Lucy's lip curled into a bemused smile as she glanced toward Robert. He was, for diplomatic reasons if anything, taking up the silvered weapons and slipping them into his robe compartments. "Maybe we should replicate some garlic while we're at it."

“There are other kinds of Pretenders, but they all share the vulnerability to silver, it must be as old as time among our beliefs,” she shrugged. “Garlic, no.”

"Probably for the best, that stuff smells." She accepted the offered weapons as well. "Lucy Lucero, Vampire Hunter."

Robert and Julia shared a chuckle.

In the heart of the Aurora's drive hull, on Deck 26, Main Engineering was the hub of activity as always. The ship's engineering and operations personnel came in and out of the section, taking assignments and reporting on successes, while the engineers on duty maintained an eye on the ship's powerful naqia reactors. Currently they were powering the Aurora's ongoing warp flight.

This was the domain of Montgomery Scott, the Starfleet legend brought into the next century by the miracle of technology and a moment's desperation. He stood watch over his "wee bairns" from the central table and the adjacent Master Systems Control Display. Nearby Tom Barnes, acting as his Assistant Chief Engineer, was dispatching a team to the lower port nacelle to see to the plasma feed lines and the generators there.

When he was done he turned to Scotty. "If we get in a fight, everything's ready," he assured his mentor.

"Aye Tom, ye sent them out smartly. Donapuram's perfect for th' job. Best marks I've seen yet from th' new engineers."

"Thanks." Tom leaned onto the table. On a ship as large and complex as the Aurora things broke down every day. That so many of the systems showed green anyway spoke of all their efforts, with the ship's operations section, to keep it in top shape. "Hargert's planning a Christmas dinner."

"Aye? Good of th' man. He always makes th' best."

"It'll be our first Christmas out of the repair yards in three years," Tom said. "I hope."

"Aye. Had a rough endin' tae th' last couple o' years, an' this one isnae over yet."

"It's all so nuts," he said. "I mean, we're off in some star cluster hunting down an ancient temple of some kind, and all because an ancient code in a book knew our buddies' names." He shook his head. "It's like a crazy time travel adventure movie or something."

At that Scotty chuckled. "Lad, it's certainly a unique situation, but I've been in crazier. Space travel's like that, Tom."

"I always figured it'd be more staring out at void trying not to go nuts from boredom." Tom's eyes swept the chambers. "Even with the crazy stuff, this is so much better. So much cooler." His eyes settled on his right arm. While it looked flesh and blood, he could feel the slight difference from his original arm. The flesh was a synthetic surfacing and beneath was all alloyed metal. "Even if it's been tough at times." He shook his head. "And did you hear about that thing that attacked Julia? A fracking vampire, Scotty. Something like that's out there!"

"Seen somethin' like that. Captain Kirk dealt with a thing that sucked th' salt right out of a man's body." Scott grinned. "An' there was that planet with th' witch an' wizard, with their castle."

"Well, like you said, you've seen crazier." Tom noted something on the table go yellow. "Huh. Secondary Shield Generator 4's sending a failure signal. Looks like a problem with the field generator. I'm going to send Chief Baker's team to check it out."

"Good choice."

The two men got back to work.

On the bridge of the Aurora the best available officers took their places. Tra'dur was at Ops, Ensign Rawlins at the helm, and the Delgado sisters at their stations of Science and Tactical. Ensign Mallory, an Avalonian man, was at Engineering.

Locarno took up the seat beside Kaveri, serving as First Officer given the need for Meridina and Jarod to be with the Jayhawk.

Rawlins looked up from her console. "Captain, we're now at the launch point you requested."

"Thank you, Ensign." Kaveri turned her head slightly to Tra'dur. "Begin the launch sequence."

"Signaling the Jayhawk now."

Kaveri sat back and watched patiently while Locarno took over. "Ensign Rawlins, maintain course and speed," he said to Rawlins. "Ensign Mallory, keep an eye on the warp field harmonics." Two "Aye Commander"s came in reply.

In the secondary shuttle bay the Jayhawk's engines flared to life. Tra'dur watched her own instruments as Lucy gently brought the Jayhawk out of the shuttle bay, cloaking her as she did. The timing of her next maneuver was critical. With Tra'dur's telemetry to guide her Lucy readied the Jayhawk's warp engines to activate and generate their own warp field just as they approached the edge of the Aurora's, guaranteeing the two fields wouldn't interfere with each other. It also had to be done before the Jayhawk fully left the Aurora's field, or she would be forcibly decelerated at a velocity beyond her designed speeds.

The maneuver was tricky and quite dangerous, and the officers in the cockpit watched her carefully. Tra'dur informed her of the distances and times as the seconds ticked down. Just as they reached the edge of the field Lucy brought the Jayhawk's warp drive up. The split second the two fields overlapped wasn't enough to harm either ship, then their respective headings brought them apart. The launch was a success.

"Well done, ma'am," Tra'dur offered, impressed by the display of skill.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," replied Lucy.

Kaveri noted the success with quiet pleasure. While she hoped there would be no contact with the Cylons and the mission would be accomplished peaceably, she suspected they would be in a fight soon enough. "Commander Delgado, any sign of enemy contacts on sensors?"

"None yet, Captain," Cat answered. "The Cylon fleet is still in the reported position, so they haven't moved this way yet. Just in case I've got sensors on full power to see if we pick up any jump traces."

"Excellent. Keep me informed. Commander, you have the bridge." Kaveri rose from her chair and headed for her office. If a fight was coming, she wanted to be fully rested when she faced it.

The Jayhawk entered the Domaram H system and made for the third planet. Robert joined Lucy and Jarod in the cockpit, with Liara also watching from a seat brought up beside Jarod. At his chosen station Jarod watched the sensor sweeps of the planet show their results on a holo-screen. "Life signs are approaching five hundred million," he said. "Fits the Gersallian records from their last survey. The atmosphere shows no sign of industrial-level burning of coal or wood, so they're still at a pre-industrial level of manufacture." He furrowed his brow. "The population distribution is interesting. It looks regionally focused."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Robert.

"As in the majority of the population is on one continent, and the distribution of the rest looks like colonies sustained by sailing trade."

"Like if we were seeing an Earth in the 17th or 18th Centuries where Europe was the only heavily-populated continent," Lucy suggested.

"Exactly. This isn't consistent with a species that evolved on this planet. We may have another case of a species transplanted by the Darglan." Jarod's tone of voice made it clear he was interested in the possibility. "Or someone else, like the S5T3 Preservers."

"Any sign of the temple?" Lucy asked.

"Nothing that stands out yet. I'll begin another scan."

"Wait." Robert studied the scan's map of the world and drew in a breath. For a moment his eyes closed. Lucy felt his energies focus. He opened them again.

Now Lucy felt it as well. A pull in the energies of the planet. She sensed the other sensitives aboard reach for it as she and Robert did.

His hand went up to the planet and settled on a small mountain range along a river valley, located on the planet's primary continent. Life sign readings showed one end of the valley was inhabited, likely a town that made use of the river. The nearby mountains had some forest life showing as well.

Nothing on sensors yet explained what he was feeling. A look passed between him and Lucy. "It's there," he said. "Reshan's Temple is there."

"If you say so." Jarod tapped at the controls while Lucy adjusted their course.

Noting the location, Liara stood from her seat. "I'll see to climbing gear," she said. "We may need it."

"Right." Robert kept his eyes on the sensor returns while Liara left the cockpit. "Jarod, anything more from the scans?"

"Looks like an arboreal mountain range, think of the Appalachians or the Cascades. Plant and animal life, and I wouldn't be surprised if the local species engage in hunting and forestry work. We'll have to be careful about picking our landing point. I'm also picking up something on our energy scanners. Or, more to the point, nothing."

"And that's important?"

"We should be getting signs of thermal energy, at least, from animal heat or the plants holding solar energy. But there's nothing. Just a big empty space." He highlighted the zone in question. It covered a pair of mountains and a part of a third.

Lucy relayed the scan results to the helm. "It might be some kind of dampening field. We'll want to land outside of it. I'll bring us in."

"Is it technological?"

"Most likely, but it could be from a combination of ores in the area. The right mix of naqia, element zero, jevonite, ripleyite or cameronite, it would create a natural blind spot in the sensors." Jarod shook his head. "We'd have to survey the area to know for sure."

"Maybe we'll get to that later," Robert remarked idly before going silent. He watched the planet grow larger through the cockpit window. It was a lovely garden world and the snow-capped peaks that soon became the center of the view reminded him of images of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Soon he could make out the river cutting through them. Just as Lucy leveled them out he made out the rough collection of stone structures showing the town of local residents. Trees clung tightly to the mountains ahead.

Lucy stopped them just shy of the dampening field. She brought the Jayhawk down into a mountain clearing. It was a tight fit that she just managed to slip the ship into. "Here we are," she said. "Let's go find the hidden temple, Indiana Dale."

Robert sighed and rolled his eyes. Her response was the expected tongue sticking out of her lips.

A few hours later the group was ascending the mountainside. The locals' handiwork was visible in the path cut up the incline. To their right, the majestic vista of the mountain pierced the sky with a snow-capped tip, the sides covered in green almost to the top. To their left the valley was open below, the river that created it still flowing its way back the way they came. Ahead of them a group of small rodent-sized creatures rushed across the path.

Alien animals aside, Robert felt a particular nostalgia. It brought back to mind summer vacations to New England, and the trips Grandpa Rob - his namesake grandfather - and his uncles on his mother's side took the family on. The hikes up the White Mountains and other locales, in a land so unlike his prairie homeland in Kansas.

He noted Talara stopping. Her eyes stared ahead toward the mountain and a slight frown creased her face. Seeing him looking toward her and the attention of Lucy, she spoke. "There is something melancholy about this place."

"Melancholy?" asked Julia

"That is the best way to put it. Hope and despair. Joy and anguish. It's all mixed together."

"I sense it as well," Megaera said. "But we can consider it later. You must learn to deal more productively with your sensitivities, child. We can ill afford you being distracted by every lingering trace of emotion."

"I… yes, you are right," Talara conceded, forestalling any protest from Lucy or the others. "My apologies."

They moved on for a short time before Miko spoke up. "Why did Reshan pick an alien world for his tomb? Why didn't he build this place on his homeworld?"

"Well, he knew our names," Lucy said. "He may have foreseen the Cylon attack on Gersal, or maybe just Kohbal's uprising. His temple would've been a target—"

"Quiet," Meridina urged. She stopped and the others did. One by one the sensitives felt the approach of other beings. They went into the tree line to their right and hid behind the trees and brush.

A minute passed before two humanoid figures came from further up the mountain. A male and female together, wearing leather jerkins and trousers with fur lining. Each had the carcass of a deer-like quadruped slung on a shoulder and the familiar shape of a bow on the other. While their skin tones were light in the Human and Gersallian way, the length and sharpened tips of their ears were visible differences. They talked in a language none recognized as they came past.

There was a rustling of leaves. Eyes turned to see where Miko's leg brushed up against a low branch on a bush.

Both stopped and, in unison, brought their bows up, dropping their kills as they did. Arrows with sharpened steel tips came up and scanned across their eyelines. They scanned toward the river first before swinging the arrows toward the group.

With the dampening field making cloaks unusable, there was no hiding from the two hunters if they moved forward. Their eyes focused toward Miko's position. Robert mentally reached out for the others to prepare.

Meridina acted first. Her mind gently reached into theirs and into the visual cortex in their brains. She projected the rodents they'd seen before, having them rush out from where Miko was hiding and head for the other side of the path.

The two hunters — a husband and wife, Meridina now recognized — laughed in amusement. They shared comments while re-shouldering their bows and reclaiming their kills. Without further disturbance they headed onward down the mountain path.

Megaera nodded to her. "Cleverly done."

"I am uncomfortable with such direct mental manipulation," she admitted. "But this was the path of least harm."

"Indeed. And we should keep going."

At Megaera's suggestion they continued. Julia hung back with Miko, who blushed with embarrassment. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

"Don't worry about it," Julia said. "I almost did the same thing, honestly."

"I'm still getting used to the idea of mind-readers. And she can make them see things too?" At Julia's nod Miko shuddered. "It's good that they're such nice people. That kind of power is scary."

"This, from the host of Raava?" asked Megaera. She looked back, as if her eyes were not covered in her headwrap, and she sounded almost incredulous. "At your full power you could bring this mountain down on top of the town below. You can flood a continent and burn down entire cities. That is quite 'scary' too, many would say."

"It is," Miko conceded, not finding any argument to use against Megaera's comments. "But you can make me see things that aren't there."

"Yes, and it’s a remarkably more merciful way to deal with a threat, isn't it? A velvet glove for the Cold Iron of rulership.”

Meridina felt that it sounded very much like the attitude of a telepath who had lived in the Earthreign.

"Commander Guan thought the same way two hundred years ago, and even Kuvira turned against him for it," Miko observed.

Before the conversation could continue the Force-sensitives, almost in one unit, looked skyward. Julia and the others did too.

Flashes of light filled the sky, and one by one a half dozen Cylon heavy raiders appeared above their heads.
"A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve »

The Domaran Cluster remained the focal point of Cat's scans while the Aurora continued its holding pattern near Domaran H. The stars here behaved much the same as they did in other universes. This included the disruptive influence of Domaran D, this universe's version off E5B1's Delta Serpentis.

Even with her scans for personal, scientific reasons, Cat was focused on the bandwidths for subspace that responded to Cylon jump drives. They had to know the moment hostile ships arrived, for the good of the team on the planet.

Such signatures appeared without warning. "Captain, we have ships jumping into Domaran H." Cat's fingers ran over her controls, pinpointing the readings. "Looks like they've jumped into the atmosphere and orbit."

"Thank you, Commander Delgado. Lieutenant Tra'dur, notify Defense Command."

"Ensign Rawlins, take us in," Locarno added.

The two officers responded with "Aye"s and enacted their orders. The Aurora changed her heading and her warp drives thrummed to full, bringing her ever closer to the fray.

They were out of time.

Lucy and Megaera wound up in front during the charge up the path. It flattened ahead, winding through a forested plateau upon the mountains.

Overheard two raiders were heading toward the mountain. One clearly peeled off toward them, the other for the mountain itself. "How do they see us through the dampening field?" Liara asked.

"Because they can sense us," Robert said. "And we can sense them." As he spoke those words he frowned. The raiders all had gifted Cylons aboard, beacons of hate and darkness cooling the Flow of Life with their very presence.

"Do they have some means to counter the dampening field?" Julia asked. Her eyes were on the raider moving to a point further up. "Because they're going straight into it."

The answer was provided when the second raider's engines went out in a blink. Without its engines to keep it aloft the craft lacked any kind of aerodynamic shape to level its unpowered descent. It dropped swiftly and broke apart against the mountainside.

The same happened to the raider coming overhead. With its engines dead it began a fatal descent. But as it passed over head the raider's rear door opened and a number of figures jumped out. They landed around the group, softening their landings with their powers. Many were identifiable Cylon models, but some were wearing different garb and carried themselves differently, their armor and robes marked with the segmented hexagon of the Brotherhood of Kohbal.

With a chorus of electronic snaps and lingering hisses, a multitude of red energy blades snapped into existence. One of the Cylons, a "Leoben" model, raised a hand, his eyes yellow from the corruption within him. "The secrets of Reshan shall finally be ours! The Circle will be broken!"

Megaera's lightsaber flashed to life along with Lucy's, and everyone else with the weapons did the same in the following two moments. They were ready when the enemy charged for them.

Another raider banked toward the mountain, heading for the fight below, ready to be sacrificed to get more Cylons and Brotherhood into the fight.

It didn't get the chance.

Repeated pulses of sapphire energy slammed into the raider, bashing down its deflector shields and blasting the ship to pieces. The other raiders that jumped in turned to engage the Jayhawk, newly de-cloaked, as it banked to avoid the dampening field and find a new target.

In the cockpit Jarod's hands flew from control to control. The weapon systems were set to automated engagement, leaving him to focus on piloting the special operations vessel.

A glance at the sensors told him another raider was breaking for the mountain. Two of the remaining ones were behind it to provide protection. Their angles would mean exposing him to fire or forcing him to go through the dampening field.

At least, they would under normal circumstances.

Jarod twisted the Jayhawk into a maneuver to gain altitude, drawing with him other heavy raiders trying to engage. The engines on the craft gave him the maneuverability to avoid their fire as the ship headed past the clouds, the pursuing craft following doggedly. He judged the angles carefully and precisely.

He spun the ship around and drove it toward the ground. On the way back down the pulse turrets targeted and managed several hits on one of the pursuing raiders, blowing out its engines and leaving it to a more fatal descent.

The seconds were key. If he pulled up too quickly, he'd be in the sights of a heavy raider's weapons. Too late, he'd likely plow the ship into the ground. His mind raced, calculating all of the variables with the aid of his immense intelligence. He felt the sweat on his brow and his hands as the ground loomed through the cockpit.

The tactical systems acquired a lock and fired the main cannons and the turreted guns, all aimed toward the Raider heading for the mountains. The full fury of the Jayhawk ripped into the vessel. Its deflectors were quickly overwhelmed and the ship was torn apart.

Jarod carefully waited before twisting from his downward course, pulling the Jayhawk back to a level course on an angle carrying her away from the heavy raiders that were escorting his target in. He sighed in relief.

The warning light barely gave him time to react. He banked the ship hard. A pulse of disruptor energy zipped through the space the Jayhawk was just occupying. He checked sensors and noted that two Cylon Basestars were now hovering overhead in orbit. More raiders, both normal ones and heavy raiders, were appearing as blips on the sensor returns.

Another shot came he had to evade, and another. Jarod found himself pulling the Jayhawk away from the mountains just to keep the ship intact. The Cylon orbital fire wouldn't let him through. I hope the Aurora's almost here, he thought. At this rate I'll have to cloak and slip away.

He was quite happy to see the new contact on his sensors when it appeared.

The Cylon ships in orbit numbered two, but above them were four more, and all six were fully upgraded models with the best Multiversal technology that the Cylons could acquire. Together they were more than a match for an Alliance star cruiser, even one with its own fighters and attack ship in support.

There was barely a minute left before they were due to engage. Kaveri considered the tactical plot carefully and weighed her engagement options.

Locarno spoke up. "I'd say we could make hit and run attacks, but they might just decide to level the entire site."

"Agreed. We must present a significant danger to keep their attention." Seconds passed. Kaveri made up her mind. "Helm, tactical, Attack Plan Whiskey Sierra."

She was answered with a pair of "Aye"s. The other officers on the bridge focused on their instruments.

The Cylon ships saw the Aurora coming. Their weapon systems targeted toward her, ready for her to drop from warp and present a target.

That was their mistake.

The Aurora zipped past them in less than a blink of an eye, her warp drives never disengaging as she went by. Her weapon systems lashed out, sending torpedo barrages into half of the Cylon force. The deflectors on all three ships held, but required effort to do so.

Return fire was offered, but it was wasted. The Aurora was already turning in the outer system, still under warp power.

The Koenig zipped in from high warp. She stopped only long enough to thoroughly strafe the nearest Basestar with pulse phaser cannon fire before jumping back to warp and cloaking.

A moment later the Aurora came by once more. Their target was the ship the Koenig strafed. Again the shields of the ship held as plasma beams lashed out at it, but they were too weak to withstand the torpedoes. Half of the spread hit home, blasting off two of the arms and hulling part of the ship's central core.

As the Aurora pulled away again, Kaveri watched the Cylon response on the tactical holotank. The ships in orbit pulled away, gathering together in a tighter formation. "It looks like we got them out of orbit," Locarno said. He glanced toward Kaveri. "What next?"

“Now, we keep their attention. This is what I have in mind…”

The mountain path echoed with the buzz of lightsabers slicing through the air, each strike parried by another until inevitably a blow landed.

The Cylons and Brotherhood had numbers and the easy power of darkness at their side, but against those numbers they contested with the skill of the fighters. Robert swung his blade defensively with one hand while using the other as a focus, pulling rocks and fallen tree limbs from his surroundings to slam into his opponents. When one came to his weak side his hand came up and force struck out. His attacker, a Cylon D'anna model, tried to absorb the strike with her own energy, but the sheer power Robert put into it overwhelmed her and sent her flying off the path and into a tree.

Gina's opponents were both the same model as her. But the similarity ended there: they had more passion than skill. Their hate for her, a "traitor", empowered them, but Gina's training with Mastrash Ledosh was its own empowerment. Her lightsaber was in constant motion from an offensive form that kept them from concentrating in the attack.

Meridina's foes, both Gersallians, were pressing her to push her away from the group, using vigorous strikes to try and corrall her. She stood her ground with quiet resolution, meeting those attacks rapidly and relying on her own skill with the blade to re-direct and stymie their efforts.

Lucy made sure of it, staying near Meridina and ready to aid her if she were to be driven from the others. She deftly handled her opponents, Gersallians as well, keeping her lightsaber moving in short, swift arcs to repel or re-direct their blows. Occasionally the weapon would bite back at them, burning robes and armor, even flesh at a couple points. Pain and rage gave short boosts to her enemies at the cost of the debilitation the pain provoked.

Talara was having the roughest time. She had some natural skill with her weapon, but while her lavender blade met the crimson of her enemies with success, their darkness was painful to her. She could feel, keenly, their cold rage and hate, and it put her off-balance.

One of the lightsabers descended on her head, a fatal blow, but it didn't land. A powerful gust of wind threw the attacker off-balance, buying Talara time to avoid the strike. Miko brought her other fist up and projected a tongue of flame that licked at the Brotherhood member. The hissing Gersallian woman brought her arms up and projected force that acted as a deflector field, causing the flames to miss.

Miko wasn't acting alone, however, as a bolt of dark matter flew past her and over her foe before exploding into a singularity. The Gersallian shrieked in surprise as she was pulled off her feet and into the twirling mass, its very nature ripping at her body. Liara let out a cry of effort in generating a second bolt, even larger, that struck the singularity. The resulting blast of dark matter energy threw the Gersallian over the ledge.

Talara concentrated on her remaining foe. Remembering Yellow's critical words she forced the feelings away and concentrated on her enemy. She let her connection to the Flow of Life guide her arms and her blade met every blow aimed at her. Her opponent's frustration reached new heights at being denied over and over. Ignore the feelings, ignore the darkness. Focus on the present. On yourself. She waited for her opening until, in frustration, the Cylon man opened himself up on the side. Her blade struck home with a fatal blow. She let out a harsh breath at feeling the life drain from the body. As dark as the Cylon had been, he was still a living being, and she'd ended his life.

With her enemies defeated Talara turned to help the others, but there was little need. Miko and Liara were already aiding Meridina in finishing off her foes. Lucy struck down her last opponent with a slice across the neck, her expression neutral and her spirit quiet. A moment's consideration told her that Gina was the model still standing, given the lack of darkness in her being.

Robert had two foes left. He got a solid blow on one, a slice across an arm that removed it and the lightsaber in the lost hand. The other Cylon was so focused on him that he didn't see Julia coming in until it was too late. She smashed the butt of her pulse pistol on the Cylon's head, knocking him down, and used a follow up kick to his belly and punch across the face to render him unconscious. When Robert leveled a bemused glance at her, she huffed, "What? The dampening field makes my pistol useless. And I saw what happened when Angel tried to fist-fight Goras."

He chuckled in reply. "Let's help Megaera…" he began, letting his words trail off as he turned toward the last member of the group.

One who needed no help.

Four dark-robed bodies were already strewn around the path and surrounding trees. Three fighters, a Cylon "Simon" model and two Gersallians, were still standing, and through their rage he and all the other could sense their fear as they fought desperately against the unstoppable force that was Megaera.

Every move of her lightsaber was deliberate. Every move of her enemies was not just seen, but foreseen, despite the covering of her eyes. The pale but dusky woman was a force of nature, much like her fellow Fury Tisiphone. A certain bemused satisfaction filled her as her blade hit home. Megaera seemed to find a lot of death and destruction funny, as she thrust the tip of the lightsabre up through the ribcage of her opponent and removed it; the cauterized wound had destroyed the heart, and the Simon model Cylon was dead before hitting the ground.

Worse, she had methodically integrated her telepathic abilities with her lightsabre fighting. She took over the minds of her attackers and froze them in place for killing blows or directed them back on themselves, forcing them to use every bit of their force talent to defend their minds. When they did that, she took advantage of the distraction as they fought, and with subtle slips and thrusts of the blade, killed them as they attacked her. Moving only very slightly, she killed on the defensive, and turned her telepathic powers on anyone who tried to flee from fighting her. They would die facing her or running from her, but death was assured.

“Mmmn. Is that all you have for me?” She shook her head, and then counter-thrust her blade into the arms of one of the Gersallians as they tried to strike her from behind. Her sidestep to clear the thrust of the other attacker was preternaturally fast, and then she froze him in place with her telepathy finally overwhelming his defences, and spun to face him.

As she did, she whipped one of her pistols out with her left hand, and pointed roughly behind her, toggled the trigger. A violet beam swept out of the emitter and tracked across the battlefield, neatly sectioning the Gersallian, already badly, wounded in two. Megaera now advanced on her final opponent and with a single stroke of her lightsabre split her torso from hips to neck, releasing the telepathic control a moment before: Unlike many other telepaths, she seemed inured to the Door.

There was no further time to enjoy their victory. With the exception of Liara and Julia, all sensed the enemies further down the path, racing toward them. "We'd better get going," Robert said. "This way!" He moved ahead of them, Megaera and Lucy behind him.

Lucy, grinning with amusement, whistled a familiar adventure theme tune as they went along.

Missiles rippled from the Cylon ships, filling the space that the Aurora was heading into on another strafing run. Ensign Rawlins twisted the ship to evade and nearly succeeded at the effort. Only one missile made impact.

More missiles fired, but they were too late. The Aurora zipped past at warp, strafing away at the weakest of the Basestars. Multiple flames appeared from the wounds carved into the ship through its dying deflectors.

The Aurora broke away to line up for another run, leaving the ship for the Koenig to finish off. The ship rippled into view just inside the field of missiles and fired away at the Basestar. On the bridge Zack watched with quiet satisfaction as the Koenig's weapons fire blew massive chunks of material out of the wounded ship's guts.

"Firing torpedoes." At tactical Sherlily triggered the launchers. White-blue sparks of light, the drive fields for the torpedoes, erupted from the bow launchers. They struck the core of the faltering Basestar. "Direct hit." Even as she provided that report the Koenig's tactical officer poured more phaser fire into the wounded core, aided by Hajar's piloting at the helm to keep the cannon emitters on target.

By the time the Koenig was flying past its target, the core was collapsing. The Basestar collapsed into two pieces, utterly crippled.

"Target is down. I'm not seeing any power from the broken pieces," Magda said from Ops.

Zack nodded. A small, grim smile of satisfaction formed on his face. For all the harm they'd caused, the deaths and the grief that included his own, it was truly gratifying to strike back at them.

The ship shuddered from a pair of near-missile impacts, but Hajar prevented any significant hit that might harm the Koenig. The ship slipped free and executed a warp jump before cloaking, then came around to repeat the maneuver while the Aurora was already moving in on another strafing run.

The mountain still loomed over the group's head when they found the path reach its abrupt end. Ahead was only a ledge and a long drop toward a mountain stream nearly a kilometer below. They glanced around. "Why would the path end here?" Robert asked aloud. "What sense does that make?"

"Maybe there used to be a bridge?" suggested Liara.

"Well, it's long gone now," Lucy said, almost growling. She could feel the darkness looming behind them. More enemies were coming. Powerful ones. The sheer concentration of dark power chilled the Flow of Life with its very presence.

But there was something else. She could feel an energy here, a presence, quiet but strong. The others could to, and like her they were looking around, trying to find what they were missing.

A line of Brotherhood members, these mostly consisting of Cylons, became visible around the corner of the path. They ignited their lightsabers at the sight of the group.

"Liara, Miko, we need time," Robert called out.

"Right!" Liara took a step toward the Cylons and concentrated. Purple, dark blue energy coalesced around her as she tapped fully into her biotic gifts. A solid field of dark matter formed in the air ahead of her, creating a barrier across the path.

The enemy was not dissuaded. Several channeled their own talents, battering at the field with sheer force, while others went at it with their crimson lightsabers. One tried to grip Liara's throat and was stopped by Robert, who applied himself to protecting her.

"I'll help!" With that announcement Miko moved into a form and started generating gusts of air that she sent down the mountain path. The Brotherhoods' robes fluttered and they fought to keep their feet on the ground as Miko's summoned gusts increased in vigor.

This bought time, but Talara pointed out the obvious. "They have us trapped, we'll have to go through them to go back down!"

"The answer is around us," said Megaera. "It is your place to find it."

The others concentrated on the power they felt, the quiet presence and what it could mean. Where was it? What weren't they seeing?

Julia watched all of this with quiet, seething frustration. She had no powers. She had a gun that she could only use as a club and the silver weapons Megaera provided, weapons she suspected would only be useful if there were more of those Pretenders. She had nothing to offer but her wits.

She pivoted on her foot, turning her head from side to side to take in their surroundings. What were they missing? The path ended. Even the bridge idea didn't sound right, as across from them wasn't another ledge, just a solid mountain side. Maybe we're supposed to go down? Maybe it's in the stream? I can hear the stream from here.

Her brow furrowed. Her face twisted from confusion. Wait, how can I hear it? She looked over the edge at the stream below. It was running, true, but it didn't look like it was a swift current. It certainly wasn't strong enough to be heard this high up.

Liara groaned. Despite Miko's efforts to blow them down the path some of the Cylons were holding their ground, their weapons slashing against the biotic field. They wouldn't take long to break through.

Julia followed the sound of the water. It brought her to the group's right, and the mountain face there. It was a solid wall of rock. Nothing special about it stood out.

At least, not at first. Julia let her eyes rest on the wall. She unfocused them, as if trying to see a 3D painting. Instead of looking for something, she looked for nothing.

That was when she noticed the markings.

They were old. Very old. They were so worn and faded they were barely existent anymore. She followed the flowing shapes, an alternating series of differing ones. One set looked like an alphabet of some kind, with something like the number "7" at the start. She didn't recognize the characters.

But she did recognize the others.

Gersallian calligraphy… and Darglan lettering.

"It's here," she breathed to the others. Roaring flame sounded from nearby: Miko was forming roaring fires now, trying to set the Cylons alight. But their powers protected them, creating raw force to repel the flames.

Everyone else looked toward her as Julia stepped up to where the lettering was. As she drew closer, the sound of water grew in volume ever so slightly. Gentle air brushed against her face. Compared to some of the winds off the mountain it was barely a zephyr, but her attention was drawn to the fact it was coming from the rock wall before her.

Gingerly Julia pressed her hand against the rock. She expected cold stone, but instead… nothing. Her hand went straight through the wall like it wasn't there.

"It's an illusion," she gasped. "A hologram."

"Despite the dampening field?" Lucy stepped up beside her. She put a hand through the wall as well before grinning at Julia. "Well, so much for the Flow of Life connection stuff. The normie finds the secret."

Julia returned the grin. But it didn't stick. "How do we get through without them seeing?" She turned her eyes to Meridina. "Meridina, can you trick them? Telepathically, like you did those natives?"

Meridina nodded. "I can." She turned toward the attacking group. Her mind reached outwards, buoyed by her will, and tested the defenses of each. They had powerful mental shields to protect their minds from attack.

Liara dropped to a knee. "Any… time…?"

Meridina took in a breath and concentrated. A direct mental attack, no… but the enemy was more concerned with her seizing them physically. Their visual cortices were less protected. It took much of her telepathic strength, even augmented as it was by the Flow of Life, to bypass those protections, but she did. She slipped into their minds and took over their visual centers. She showed them their group, one by one, going down the side of the mountain. Break off your attack, Miko, she urged the young Avatar

Miko did so. Moments later the Brotherhood broke off their attack on Liara, rushing toward the side of the mountain instead. They started going over the side themselves, jumping down to cut off the enemies they perceived as rappelling down the side.

The group gathered around Julia. Robert clapped a hand to her shoulder. "Great job." He did the same with Liara, who looked ready to collapse. "Both of you."

"Thank you," Liara replied. "I just need a moment." She reached for one of the energy drinks in her provisions.

Julia smiled at him. "Let's see what's in here."

Together the group stepped through the wall, Julia in the lead this time. A stone-laid path, unlit, beckoned, while distant light provided the promise of something other than darkness. They traveled ahead, following the path until it became upward stairs. The air grew cooler and the sound of water louder. A sense of wonder and uncertainty filled them. They were going deep into the mountain, to the heart of the dampening field. What would they find within?

The top of the stairs came, with light glinting from beyond. They crested the stairs and emerged into a courtyard. Mountain water ran down falls from either side, creating the rushing water that guided them here.

Between the falls was a large stone structure. It had a certain stark appearance, built into the side of the mountain. A couple of the columns were carved in the form of alien beings, cone-headed with eyes to either side of the head. Their smiling mouths depicted sharp teeth.

"This isn't Gersallian," Gina said. "But something about those aliens looks familiar."

"I think I've seen them too, from Darglan records," Robert noted. "But I don't remember anything more."

They walked toward the structure. Two great doors were in the center of the building. No sign of a control panel or handles was visible. "Someone forgot a door handle," Miko mused.

"These doors were meant to be opened with the Force," Megaera said.

"The what?" asked Talara.

Megaera showed a half-smile toward the Falaen woman. "The Flow of Life," she corrected. "Swev'a, or swevyra as Swenya insisted on calling it."

They approached the doors. Robert, Lucy, and Meridina stood together and acted in concert. They felt for the doors and willed them to open. The grinding of stone filled the grotto courtyard as the doors slowly swung open.

They stopped when they sensed the growing presence behind them. The doors stopped moving, leaving them only partly open.

Everyone turned to see the assemblage of dark-robed figures approach. Robert and the others frowned at the visage of Goras in their number. His hair had grown back and, like the others with him, he had the bandanna with the segmented hexagon of the Brotherhood. Beside him, his former apprentice Intalarai grinned wickedly, malice in her unnatural yellow eyes. Around them were a mixed group of Gersallians and Cylons.

Or so it seemed. The darkness in the group pulsed strangely. Among the hooded figures were some sets of pale hands, unnaturally pale. One stepped up with Goras and Intalarai, a satisfied look on his face. Under the hood, his face rested in shadow, and only the faint trace of inhuman eyes were visible.

The others felt the tension from Megaera and her strict attention to this foe.

"At last, Reshan's secrets will be ours," Intalarai said. "And we will end Swenya's treachery once and for all!"
"A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve »

The air in the courtyard of the alien structure was electric with tension. At the slightest move a battle would commence.

Meridina's voice broke the silence. "How could you say such a thing about Swenya? She gave our people a new path. She knew kindness."

"She laid an alien way upon our people," Intalarai spat. "She suppressed our paths to greatness! A hundred ways of attaining power, shattered and ruined by her!"

"She united our people, she brought them balance! She ended the suffering we brought to ourselves through the meaningless conflicts and struggles that divided us!"

"Struggle breeds power, particularly for those with swev'a." Intalarai sneered. "You are blinded by her dogmas, the dogmas of an outsider."

"Don't bother with them, Meridina," Megaera snapped. "They are blinded by their own arrogance. Nothing but children resentful of the traditions handed to them, beholden to a maddened fool who never understood or cared to understand."

"Kohbal saw the truth!" Intalarai retorted. "Who are you to speak of him so!"

Megaera's lips curled into a bemused sneer. "Someone who knows the truth, and furthermore knew that Kohbal could not handle it. Kohbal was a pathetic wretch, and followers like you are blind pawns. I know who the real puppet-master here is." She glanced to the shrouded figure. “Why didn’t he tell you about me, I wonder?”

Rage laced Intalarai's voice. "You know nothing, outsider! We will break your precious Circle, and Gersal will be restored!"

"If you break the Circle, Gersal will no longer be," Megaera retorted. "No matter what the Pretenders have told you otherwise."

Intalarai roared, "Take them!" and their enemies advanced, lightsabers igniting to life. Goras immediately lunged for Meridina, murderous hate in his eyes, just for Megaera's lightsaber come up and nearly slice into him. He deflected the blow and snarled at the interloper. The pale, hooded figure went for Meridina as well, just to be blocked by Robert.

Around them, a general battle broke out.

The Aurora blazed through the Cylon formation again, slipping through a hail of missile fire as she did. The missiles were being fired with greater accuracy, more than expected, and this time three made impact. "Shields are now at forty-five percent effectiveness," Tra'dur said while Angel busied herself with landing further hits on another of the remaining Basestars.

"Given their improving fire, they clearly have their own metaphysical talents aiding them." Kaveri's attention went to her stepdaughter. "Lieutenant, have we heard anything from Command?"

"No, Captain, nothing yet."

As the ship continued pulling away, Angel glanced upward from her station. "Captain, I think I have a way to deal with their missile fire, I'll need cooperation from Ops and Sensors."

"You will have it, Lieutenant," Kaveri said.

Angel shared her idea with them while Rawlins brought the Aurora around for another pass. The Cylon ships fired missiles into their path once more.

As the Aurora closed in, many of her lighter batteries opened up. Brief pulses of sapphire energy blossomed from all quarters of the ship. A number of the incoming missiles struck these pulses and were blown apart. This time, no missiles intercepted them, and yet again the torpedoes fired, striking another Basestar in passing.

Kaveri beamed with satisfaction. "Excellent thinking, Lieutenant."

"Thank you, Captain," Angel responded.

"Are the enemy ships attempting any other maneuvers?"

"They're changing direction now." Cat examined the sensor readings. "It looks like they're heading back into orbit."

"Probably to limit our attack vectors," Locarno said. He eyed the markers on the tactical display for where their fighter squadrons were waiting for orders. "Maybe it's time to launch Laurent's squadrons for a multi-vector attack?"

"Five Basestars still in operation would mean our fighters would be heavily outnumbered. I want to preserve them until their entry can be more decisive."

Their conversation ceased as another strafing run progressed. Angel's tactic provided another halo of protection against the metaphysically-targeted missiles, keeping them from suffering further shield loss. The torpedoes she fired this time broke through the shields of one of the Basestars and heavily-damaged its core section, leaving it vulnerable for the Koenig's attack run.

The attack ship dropped from warp, fired a barrage of phaser cannon fire and torpedoes, and pulled away to warp out again before enemy fire could become too deadly. The effect was to gut annother of the Basestars, leaving four.

"They're entering orbit now," Cat said. Her brow furrowed as she examined the electronic returns she was getting. "Their targeting sensors have gone active."

"Who are they targeting?" Kaveri asked. "The Jayhawk?"

"I can't tell yet, I'm reading active sensor emissions."

"Message coming in from Jayhawk, Captain," Tra'dur said. "It's Commander Jarod."

"Aurora, we've got a problem," Jarod said. "They're targeting the planet."

"They are going to bomb our people?"

"No ma'am. From what my sensors are showing, they're locking weapons on the planet's population centers." Quiet horror was audible in his voice. "They're going to wipe out the native civilization."

Goras, Intalarai, and the ancient Pretender all lunged straight for Meridina, joined by two of their peers. Megaera, Robert, and Lucy went to her aid while Gina and Talara prepared to defend Julia, Miko, and Liara. A second passed and the harsh buzzing of lightsabers colliding filled the courtyard grotto of the mountain temple.

Meridina received the attacks of two of the Brotherhood, a D'anna model and a Leoben. In front of her Lucy's lightsaber sliced through the air to intercept the furious blows of Intalarai, marking the third time the two found themselves in combat with each other. Through her vicious anger Lucy felt Intalarai's purpose, Meridina's death. She wouldn't allow that to happen and held her ground all the more strongly, her lightsaber a solid blur of blue as it met every blow.

Miko and Liara weren't holding back either. Biotic bolt, flame, and gusts slammed into the Brotherhood and Pretenders trying to overwhelm Talara and Gina. Even with this intervention, the two were still facing two opponents each.

The fight, for Talara, was the most difficult yet. She felt the utter darkness of her foes keenly. Their hatred and anger at being defied were no less weapons than the crimson blades that slammed against the lavender weapon she was swinging. She summoned up every ounce of herself to counter those dark feelings, aided by the emotions from the others. Miko's fiery defiance, Lucy's fearlessness, Julia's resolve, all of her allies provided something for her to focus on and counter the darkness that threatened to claw away at her being.

All save one.

Megaera and Robert were at the center of the courtyard, and their foes were the greatest. Megaera's lightsaber shined with a crimson brighter than Goras' weapon. She met his attacks with a savage sneer that stoked his fury. "I sense the darkness within you. The power." His yellow eyes glistened. "Why do you stand with Swenya's slaves?"

“Every victory against the Pretenders I count as revenge for my people, that is the sum of who I am,” Megaera answered, and met Goras blow for blow as the Gersallian felt a growing intensity of fear and uncertainty grip him as Megaera turned her power against him. For a moment his breath even stopped, and he struggled back on the defensive trying to cover himself, finding himself badly outmatched by the short, blind woman.

Nearby Robert's green blade intercepted the weapon of the ancient Pretender. He sensed the next blows coming even as he sensed a void in the Flow of Life around the being. Nothing but hatred came from the being. His speed was inhuman as he lashed at Robert repeatedly with his weapon. "Forceful." The being's voice was a deep crackling rasp, befitting a monster more than a man. "I have dealt with your kind for countless years. You are no worry to me." His blade went into motion again, but his leg moved in as well as hooked under Robert's. The force of the blow brought Robert's feet out from under him, toppling him over.

A killing blow came next, but Robert's power surged to meet it, not only stopping the blow but throwing the creature back into a column. It held itself up after impact while he scrambled back to his feet. Within the shadows of the hood a vicious sneer crossed his face.

You'll lose control. You'll hurt your friends. You'll hurt Julia. The fear struck at the core of him, full of doubt and despair. It's more power than you can handle.

You're not me
, he thought back, regaining physical control in time to catch another strike by the ancient being. Get out of my head. He focused his will around his mind, forcing the doubting voice out.

The contact was enough to tell him that they didn't have time to indulge a long fight. More of the Brotherhood was coming, with these dark allies to aid them. Even if they beat these foes back they would get overwhelmed in time. They had to unlock the Temple, find what was within.

Julia, we'll cover you. Get in and open the place up.

Robert's thoughts came to Julia while she waited for an open shot. Her pulse pistol was still useless, but the silver-firing gun provided by Megaera wasn't affected by the dampening field around them. Her trigger finger remained still because she didn't want to hit an ally.

Gina must have sensed her attention. The rogue Cylon pivoted and twisted, deflecting a strike at her as she did, and opening up a shot for Julia. Julia's finger stroked the trigger. The thundercrack split through the air, echoing in the courtyard grotto. The silver bullet planted itself in the back of the robed figure with a spurt of blood. The Cylon went down with a cry.

Meridina's mind touched hers. Julia, we'll hold them for now. Open the Temple.

But there's too many
, she protested. You need all the help you can get.

And there'll be more
. Robert's voice was different. He wasn't in her mind like Meridina's, but something deeper. We can hold them. It's up to you.

It was the right call. She could feel his certainty that it was, and it filled her as well. She returned the gun to her suit and went to the big double door. The brief effort to open it left it opened only by a crack. She grabbed at it and pulled at the door, but the weight was too much.

Two more hands appeared beside hers. Miko pulled with her. The door slid a little. "I wish I'd taken up Komin on those early Earthbending lessons," she groaned.

"Let me try," said Liara. She gathered her will and generated dark matter around the door's edge. Julia and Miko pulled as hard as they dared.

The door protested with the shriek of stone against stone, but gradually it opened enough for them to slip in.

The inside of the structure was less a temple and more like the approach to a vault. Only the decorative use of the temple's access to the mountain's water streams broke up the endless stone walls and vaulting ceiling. The columns were more of the cone-headed aliens.

Across the chamber was a set of double doors set into the wall. The ruins of some sort of computer station or interface remained beside the doors, and the door was framed by two columns.

Two columns with an open circular port set into each.

Julia took in a breath and reached into the upper layer of her tactical suit. She pulled out both of the lightsabers received on A Famoso.

Julia, they're through!

She felt Robert's mental warning just in time. She turned and caught a glimpse of the first robed, shadowy form through the door. It rushed at her with inhuman speed, going for her throat.

There was no time to evade. The creature slammed into her with such force that it knocked the air from her lungs and the weapons from her hands. He carried her to the ground and snapped at her neck. She fought off the panic and put her left forearm up just before the teeth could move in. They dug into the material of the suit and the wrist guards underneath.

Megaera's silver-sheened gifts drew a roar of pain from the creature. Its mouth smoked and smoldered as if ablaze.

That gave Julia the moment she needed. Her hand came up with one of Megaera's silver daggers shining in it. The blade pierced the flesh of the creature's throat. It let out a gargling screech as its form seemed to burn away at the touch of the metal.

When she forced the creature's decaying form off, Julia found the inner chamber a battle site. Miko was fending off one foe with gusts of air and blasts of fire, Liara had the other one held back by a biotic field.

Her eyes scanned the floor and found the ancient lightsabers she'd dropped. She got back up to retrieve them.

There was a blur and another robed figure was already there, scooping up the dark shape of Reshan's Blade. Julia barely got to Swenya's in time. She laid eyes on her foe, a Cylon of Sharon Agathon's model, who smirked at her before raising an open hand. A powerful force clamped down on Julia's throat, as if a great hand was squeezing her airpipe closed. She choked and instinctively reached for her neck to free herself.

But she couldn't.

A grim silence dominated the Aurora bridge. It only ended when Caterina spoke up. "The Cylon ships have a stable orbit, and their electronic emissions are picking up. I think they're about to fire."

"Our enemies know us very well," Kaveri noted grimly. "Helm, bring us in. I want the shields to full."

Angel nodded. "Yes ma'am. And I'm setting tactical systems to target their missiles."

The Aurora warped in a moment before the first Cylon ship fired. A wave of missiles descended on Domaram H and the cities that dotted the planet's surface. The Aurora's weapons fired rapidly, striking and destroying these missiles.

The enemy was quick to seize advantage of the moment. The full fury of the four Basestars vented on the Aurora, with emerald disruptor beams joining missiles and railgun armament. The bridge shuddered repeatedly. "Shields are back down to fifty percent," Tra'dur reported.

"A couple of the ships are still targeting the planet," Cat added.

Locarno noticed a series of new contacts on the tactical display. "Enemy is launching fighters."

"Call in our own, Commander, and Koenig. Tactical, fire all available weapons on the Basestars, but our priority remains protecting the planet."

She was answered with a pair of affirmatives.

Jarod sat silently in the cloaked Jayhawk, hovering at the edge of the atmosphere just outside of the combat area. He watched the Aurora firing on both the Cylons and their deadly missiles with trepidation: given their further refitting with Reich technology and the forced diversion of the Aurora's firepower, the Cylon ships were more than a match for the Aurora by herself.

The small ship's sensors were quick to identify the Koenig as she came soaring back into the fight, phasers blazing. Torpedoes erupted from her launchers and slammed into the shields of one of the Basestars. Her dorsal phaser array fired rapidly, spearing the cloud of Cylon raiders that assembled to harass her.

The Aurora's Mongoose fighters arrived next. They focused a torpedo run on the two Basestars furthest from the Aurora. Point defense fire met them, as did the raiders pouring from the Cylon ships' hangars. The Cylons threw themselves against the fighters' barrage, sacrificing themselves to save their motherships from being overwhelmed by the incoming strike. The raiders of the other ships gathered, firing pulse disruptors instead of the ballistic weapons they'd once used in attacks on the Aurora's fighters.

Laurent's fighters are drawing their raiders up. That development opened possibilities, and Jarod quickly identified the best of them.

At his control the Jayhawk's engines went to full thrust. He maneuvered the ship into position and disengaged the cloaking device. At a key tap the weapons systems auto-targeted the Cylon missiles raining toward the planet. The plasma cannons and pulse gun turrets fired away at the nearest missiles, blowing them apart with direct impacts. He quickly calculated a new approach vector to after another batch.

One finger moved over and triggered the tight-beam tactical channel to the Aurora. "I've got the missiles. You can focus on the Cylons!"

The entry of the Jayhawk to the battle, and Jarod's attacks on the missiles, was just what the ship needed. Kaveri was quick to recognize the opportunity and take it. "Helm, adjust course, bring us into the Cylon formation. Tactical, all weapons on the enemy!"

The Aurora turned away from the planet and toward the four Basestars. Their weapons continued to blaze away, striking at the Aurora's flickering blue energy shields, and under Angel's guidance the Aurora returned fire with everything she had. Her bow cannons blazed away, their sapphire bolts slamming repeatedly into a Basestar's deflectors until they collapsed, then tearing the lower half of the ship apart along the core section to send the arms spiraling away from the ruined ship. A spread of torpedoes from the bow launchers blew two legs off of the remaining upper half, virtually crippling the ship.

The second vessel fared little better as repeated sapphire beams sliced into its shields. It likewise took a spread of solar torpedoes, the blue-white sparks striking the shields and then blowing off an arm of the upper half of the ship.

The Aurora pulled clear of its adversaries and turned to face the two most-intact of the Cylon vessels. Their weapons fire continued to play over the shields, sending shudders through the Aurora with the worst hits. "Shields are down to twenty percent," Tra'dur warned. "Cohesion in the bow shields is failing."

"Rerouting shield power to the bow," Ensign Mallory reported from Engineering. "Commander Scott is diverting emergency power reserves to the shield generators."

"Keep us on target." Kaveri spoke as she noted the activities of the other ships. The Jayhawk was rapidly maneuvering, engaging every missile the Cylons sent toward the planet. Some of the Cylon raiders were heading toward the vessel. "Detach squadrons to aiding the Jayhawk."

"Sending the order now," Locarno answered, while the ship plunged back into the fight.

In the courtyard, Meridina's two opponents kept up their attacks. Their blades struck at her repeatedly, forcing her to remain on the defensive. Even if one showed an opening for her to strike in, her other foe's attack would force her to ignore it in favor of protecting herself.

What was more important was their strategy. She sensed their intent to separate her from the others, and she worked to thwart it. She refused to be driven away, staying as close to Lucy as she could to hold their side of the courtyard. Fighting beside her student gave her a sense of confidence. They'd fought so many battles before this one, faced such threats, that victory was still possible in her eyes.

But victory would not come automatically. She had to work for it. That meant turning the odds, if she could.

She let her swevyra, her bond to the Flow of Life, guide her physically, while her mind fought in other ways. Her mind probed that of her foe's and found basic defenses, but no telepathic power to back them up.

For the first time she gave ground. That bought her the moment she needed to push through her foe's defenses and enter his mind. SLEEP. The command went straight to his brain and took effect. He dropped to the ground with a thud.

Her other foe came in to attack and Meridina met the blow. She parried repeatedly before counter-attacking, a slash that cut across her foe's shoulder and left visible wound. She sensed the rage behind the coming attack and was ready for her lightsaber to absorb the purple-hued lightning that erupted from her enemy's hands.

A warning feeling filled her. Meridina maneuvered just in the nick of time, as her unconscious foe was back up and fighting. She evaded the angry swipe and parried a second. How did he awaken so quickly? she wondered.

She received her answer a moment later, as the dark mind swept over the room.

The ancient Pretender's mental abilities were significant, and the full fury of them came down on Robert's mind with such force that all of the others felt some of it.

You can't control your powers. You can't stop us. You can't protect the people you care about. The litany progressed, step by step, with imagery of his friends and allies dead. Transformed, made into hosts.

It took all of his will to force it away in time to parry the Pretender's next strike. He projected force to knock the creature away, enough that it did slide backward by about a meter, but the pale thing never lost its footing. Its crimson lightsaber slashed through the air again to be met by Robert's emerald-colored blade. The weapons' buzzing gave way to crackles as they met again and again.

The weight on his mind increased through the exchange. Now it brought to him memories of just a couple months before. Toutaine Station, the Aristo Lord Haron. The desperation and anger that he'd felt lashing out at the sadistic monster. He remembered the cold power he'd channeled through his rage, the invigoration.

The Aristos, the SS Exiles, the Dominion, NEUROM… all of them, in their own way, brought pain and suffering to billions, trillions, of beings, and that struck at the core of him. The Pretender pressed that point home in his mind. You fight alongside an agent of NEUROM now. The same people who stood ready to poison an entire world! Who threatened those close to you! The Pretender cackled. You've felt a taste of this power before. Stop fearing it. Embrace it. Use it to crush those who offend you. Crush them all!

This is a trick
he reminded himself. He's trying to distract you. It took a lot of effort to push the thoughts away, and he was barely fast enough to stop the incoming blows. He sensed the truth from his foe: he was being toyed with. The Pretender saw this as amusing.

Then the greater distraction came. From within the Temple he felt Julia's panic and fear. He felt the vise on her throat. I have to help her!

Through that instinctive thought, the Pretender struck again. His thoughts slithered through and filled Robert's mind, a darkness that overwhelmed everything. He stopped in place, quivering in his struggle to move. "Fool." The pale man smirked with amusement. "Your kind are so easy to—"

Another mind, nearly as dark, poured into his thoughts. It had direction, purpose, and in its hate for their enemies he felt a familiarity. This is not a battle for you, not yet, Megaera's mental voice echoed through his being. You are not ready.

Just as her mind intervened, so did her body. Her lightsaber interceded before the Pretender could strike at Robert.

More are coming. Get to your friend if you can, and hold the door as you must.

He almost protested, but stopped himself. The memory of that cold power rushing into his mind and holding him in place made it clear this was a threat he might not be ready for. He pulled back, letting Megaera face the Pretender directly. Its weapon struck at her and she caught and deflected it.

Goras seized his chance. WIth her blade out of the way, he went at her, looking to slice her in two if he could. With savage glee his swung his lightsaber blade…


…and it was blocked, as a second bright red blade shot from the other end of Megaera's hilt to intercept it. Her will formed a wave of kinetic power that drove both of her foes back, giving her room to shift her stance. A satisfied, smug grin crossed her face at Goras' surprise.

The grin was challenge enough. They attacked. Megaera met them blow for blow with the double-bladed lightsabre, equal to the one they had seen for the first time at A Famoso in the hands of The Alekto, which even Tisiphone did not possess. Settled into her feet, she looked comfortable and composed. “I am the Guard in the Mouth of Hell! The Apocalypse must always face me before it comes!” The tremendous fury which erupted from the bitter wounds of her soul was channeled with rigid control into a dark economy of lightsabre ballet and telepathic attacks which handily drove both of her opponents back on the defensive.

Robert stared for a moment. Blind, Megaera was driving back the two most powerful opponents he had faced except for her own Mistress, Tisiphone. He steadied himself, tore his eyes away, and fell back from that fight, leaving Megaera to her foes, and headed for Julia. As he neared the door he sensed the threat and turned, catching two foes with a wave of power. They hit the floor and rolled before coming to their feet, a pair of Cylons. He returned to a defensive stance and placed his back to the temple entrance. He suppressed the shivers he felt from the remnant traces of the Pretender's power and focused on his immediate task, meeting their attack as it came.

Julia's eyes panned desperately around the room, but she saw no aid coming. Liara was defending herself from a lightsaber-wielding Gersallian. The whipping winds and flames in the other corner told of Miko's efforts to fight her foe. Help was not coming.

With her vision starting to black out, Julia fought back her instinct and let go of her constricted throat. Her hand went to her belt and retrieved the old-model pistol Megaera replicated for her. She brought her hand up and fired it.

Her opponent saw the shot coming and raised a hand as if to stop it. It was to the surprise of both that the bullet crashed through the palm of the hand before entering the shoulder. Sudden pain diverted the Cylon's attention, freeing Julia to suck in a greedy breath and regain her balance. She lunged forward to retrieve Reshan's Blade.

The Sharon model reacted too quickly. Sensing Julia's intention she raised her hand and directed a wave of solid force that threw Julia backward. She crashed into one of the columns with bone-jarring power. With blood pouring from both hand and shoulder the Cylon hissed in rage and pulled out her lightsaber to strike Julia down.

From across the room came the cry, "Julia!" A large ball of fire struck the Cylon in the back, setting her robes alight. The Cylon swiftly shed them, revealing the dark-colored tunic she wore below.

Julia tackled the Cylon as she finished pulling the robe free, knocking the lightsaber from the Cylon's hand with the impact. The two went crashing to the hard stone floor.

Miko spun away from her foe again, feeling the sting of the Gersallian's lightsaber grazing her back and leaving a burn behind. She gave a hissed cry of pain while regaining her footing. At the movement of her left arm a gust of powerful air moved forward, but her foe caught it with his own talents and kept his feet.

He sees every attack I make before I make it, he's fast, and he's not afraid of getting burned, she thought, dodging another attack. I need another way of attacking him!

There was a way, in fact, but she wasn't sure it'd work.

Be fluid, she thought. Let energy flow through me. Go around resistance. Flow. The movements and thoughts of all her training with Julia came to her. This is what it's for!

She brought her arms up and whipped them forward.

The water from the decorative fountain and pool rushed forward. The Gersallian had no chance to dodge. He was thrown to the floor.

Jubilation at Waterbending in a fight was quickly countered by remembering that it wasn't over yet. Her opponent was getting back up. But he was stunned enough that she had an opening, and she took it.

Flame and air answered the movements of her arms and legs, her very will, as she threw everything she had at the man. Invisible force stopped the initial attacks. But he was at his limit, and Miko had yet to find hers. A ball of flame coated his arm and caused him to drop his weapon. As he recoiled from this strike and more, she formed a gust of air that threw him into the roof. He flopped to the ground and didn't move.

Triumphant, Miko turned to the others. She drew her arms together and the water came at her call again. This time she drained both of the chamber's pools in summoning pistons of water. Her targets were taken by surprise, throwing Liara's into the far wall and Julia's into a column.

Her allies recovered quickly. Liara dropped her field and struck her opponent with a stasis field followed up by a burst of dark matter that knocked him into the wall again. Julia scooped up her firearm and fired into the Cylon, a series of thundercracks that filled the air. With blood seeping from her wounded torso, the Sharon model's golden eyes rolled up into her head. She fell in place.

Given the sounds of fighting outside, Julia knew their time was running out. She pulled Reshan's blade from the dead Cylon's belt and picked up Swenya's from the floor. She went to the columns by the inner door and the open aperture in the left column. She pushed Swenya's weapon in, projection side first, and did the same with Reshan's on the other end.

Light poured from around the hilts, then from the columns themselves. Miko and Liara joined her in time for the doors to slide open.

They all gasped in surprise.

A few of the Brotherhood were fallen to the ground of the courtyard, but even more were coming up the steps from the mountainside. Everyone had two foes to face already, with Lucy struggling to hold Intalarai and a Cylon back from Meridina. Meridina's foes had her pinned against the side of the courtyard, unable to break through her defense but keeping her from moving. If Intalarai or another joined in, she would be overwhelmed.

Robert wanted to aid them, but couldn't. He had his own foes, a Cylon Leoben and one of their clones of Lucy, to contend with. Megaera was likewise hotly engaged against the ancient Pretender and Goras.

Every fiber of Lucy's being strained against her foes. Intalarai was a match for her; having a second foe meant she had to give ground, and they were pressing her up toward Meridina. She knew the intention well; Intalarai would go for the kill.

She wouldn't let that happen.

So she stopped. With her feet planted Lucy met their attacks, swinging and twirling and twisting as she had to, their lightsabers in such constant motion her vision was full of blue and red light. She sensed their attacks as they came and let her arms go to meet them.

But the attackers were coming fast. Too fast. She would have to move, soon, or they would strike her down.

To make matters worse, another group of six robed figures appeared at the top of the steps at the courtyard entrance. They ignited lightsabers.

"Here!" Intalarai cried. "Over here! Kill them all!"

They went to rush forward… and stopped.

At that moment, they all felt it. A power filled the temple, no longer dormant, no longer sleeping. Awakened and full of purpose. The sense of it was enough to draw the attention of everyone, bringing the fight to a temporary suspension.

The doors to the temple, up to this point cracked open, exploded outward.

The figure that stepped out was humanoid, clad in a Gersallian robe of dark gray matched with black armor. The greater light within the temple gave the figure a bright silhouette. Under the shadows of a hood nothing was visible of the newcomer's face.

All eyes went to the objects in the man's hands, the blades of Swenya and Reshan, as they came alive, blades of brilliant sapphire and amethyst color igniting into being.

With the blades of Swenya and Reshan in hand, the hooded man rushed forward. The Cylons dueling Robert were his first targets. They stood their ground, weapons raised and ready.

Their foe swiftly proved their superior. His blades met theirs only twice before each plunged into the Cylons' bodies. They cried as they fell.

The six Brotherhood figures newly arrived rushed up to face the new foe, all while the others could only watch in surprise.

Half of them never got into range. One was struck by raw force, two thrown into one another.

The three on one that resulted didn't last long. The man moved with uncanny speed. Deflection, deflection, parry, thrust, and down went an enemy, over and over until all were slain.

"No!" Goras screamed. "No!"

The man turned toward him. "You're not welcome here," his voice boomed through the courtyard. "Get out."

Megaera ruthlessly took advantage of Goras’ distraction, bringing her lightsabre up in a stroke that brought a cry of pain to him as his off-hand hung limply by charred flesh and bone.

"No!" Intalarai raised her lightsaber. "The Circle will be broken! Gersal will be ours!" She charged, her lightsaber glowing hot in her raised hands.

The man's movements betrayed contempt more than concern. He caught her wild, enraged blows on his weapons once, twice… and then the purple of Reshan's Blade plunged into her heart. Her gold, darkness-tainted eyes widened in despair and disbelief as she fell, her life draining from her.

With rage and pain in his voice, Goras called out, "Flee! We will find another way!" He backed away and fled, leaving the ancient Pretender to face Megaera.

Some of his compatriots did the same. Others, their blood up, angry at being denied, attacked anyway. The battle resumed, but with the momentum on their side, Robert and his team quickly gained an upper hand.

In the middle of the courtyard the ancient Pretender stood his ground. Megaera kept hers as well, shielding the newcomer from attack while he dispatched another Brotherhood member. “It’s been a while. She didn’t send you, she isn’t that foolish. But you…” Megaera faced her opponent, deactivating one of her blades.

“You will never win. In a million years you and your mistress will still be fighting us and with each battle you will get weaker and we will grow stronger,” the Pretender answered. He turned his mental powers against Megaera.

Megaera did not reply, but instead met the telepathic assault with a gentle turning, and for the first time, attacked; she turned into a blur of motion as the Pretender likewise blurred. But instead of two people emerging from the moment of combat, there was one person and the sectioned body of the other, the Pretender split from the top of the head down to the hips in a rough diagonal line.

“In a million years,” Megaera repeated with soft melancholy in her voice, looking down at the body that collapsed into decayed strips of bone and mummified flesh. Then she deactivated her lightsabre and turned slowly to face the man who had aided them, putting down the last of his would-be killers. “We kept the faith, M’Lord,” she said, and bowed her head politely.

Once all their opponents were down Robert turned toward the temple. Not to take in the man who appeared from within, but to reassure himself of what he already felt to be true: Julia was alright. He saw her standing with Miko and Liara, the former beaming with pride, and sighed in relief.

Meridina was still regaining her breath, but she approached the hooded figure with trepidation and curiosity. "Who are you?" she asked gently, speaking softly in High Gersallian. "I am Meridina of the Lumentala, formerly a Knight of Swenya."

"I know." The man turned the blades off and set them on his belt. He turned toward her and the others gathering behind her. His hands, freed of their weapons, came up to lower his hood. With it no longer casting his head in shadow, they could see his neck-length hair of snow and ash-color and his weathered face, bordered by a deep scar. A pair of brown-colored eyes took them in one by one.

The surprise wasn't in his reply, but how it was delivered. Not in Gersallian, but in English.

"Well, it's about time you showed up," he said, a slight grin coming to his old face. "I've only been waiting about three thousand years."

Lucy's eyes widened. "You… you can't be… you're…?"

"I think the name you're looking for is 'Reshan'," the old man said, the grin growing. He cast his eyes around the courtyard. "So, who's going to help me clean up this mess?"

The Aurora twisted as it slipped between two of the remaining Basestars, weapons still blazing away. Around it point-defense fire tore apart several attacking Cylon raiders while the Koenig burned in on another attack run. Its weapons pummeled down the weak shields of the Basestar and exposed it to torpedo fire. The torpedoes blasted chunks out of the upper arms, severing one completely.

"Shields are below ten percent, cohesion is failing."

Ensign Mallory was quick to follow up on Tra'dur's report. "Armor auto-repair systems operating at full capacity."

"Status on the missile bombardment?" Kaveri asked.

"They're still firing, but the Jayhawk's taking them out before they can get into the atmosphere." Cat saw something on her screens. "I'm picking up energy spikes from the planet. It looks like their heavy raiders are jumping out."

"I wonder if that's a good sign or a bad one," Locarno said.

"We are about to find out I imagine," Kaveri replied.

A few more shots were fired and the Aurora's weapons severed another arm from one of the Basestars. As they moved past Cat spoke up again. "Power spikes in the Cylon ships. They're jumping out!"

One by one, the hostile red lights on the tactical display winked out.

Kaveri did not let any relief show. This did not mean victory, after all. "Status of the ship?"

"Damage to Decks 16 through 19 and 24 through 30, superficial," Tra'dur answered. "Shields are already regenerating to normal strength." A light appeared on her console. "We're detecting a hail from the planet's surface."

"Put them on."

Robert's voice crackled over the line. "Dale to Aurora. Mission accomplished. We'll be coming back up as soon as it's clear, and we'll have a passenger with us."

Kaveri betrayed no curiosity about what he meant. "Standby for transport then. I will inform Command of our success."
"A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve »

Dormaram H continued to spin through the transtanium windows of the Aurora conference lounge. Inside the command officers of the Aurora and Koenig, with Robert's team, were either seated or standing. Megaera remained in a corner, openly keeping herself from joining the meeting.

It fell to Kaveri to relay the contents of a communique from Command. "The Cylon fleet jumped away before Admiral Maran could engage them. They appear to be withdrawing toward the frontier. The fleet is following to ensure, but it is clear their incursion is over."

"It's like we thought," Jarod said. "They were there to cover this operation."

"Were they tracking us then?" asked Angel. "I mean, they showed up pretty quickly."

"Possibly, either through sensors or metaphysical means." Lucy shook her head. "Although I almost get the feeling they knew where Reshan was."

That brought a point from Tom. "If they did, why didn't they just go after the Temple before now? Why wait?"

Robert noted a bemused expression on Megaera. Before he could ask what she was thinking, Cat spoke up with her voice almost squeaking with enthusiasm. "So how did Reshan survive? What's down there? I mean, three thousand years. How could he live that long?"

"He's not been very forthcoming," Robert said wryly. That got a chuckle from Megaera, but Robert ignored that in favor of looking to Leo. "Anything from your medical scans?"

"He wasn't my most cooperative patient, but he did let me get some medical data. From all I've seen, he's a perfectly healthy elderly male Human. In the upper percentile of health, actually. No sign of any disorders or conditions related to age, great physical condition, honestly the only sign anything's ever been wrong with him is the scar tissue from old wounds."

"You mean like his face."

"Exactly." Leo shrugged. "I offered cosmetic procedures but he turned them down."

"Where is our guest now?" Kaveri asked.

"In assigned quarters on Deck 6, near mine," Robert replied. "He said he wanted to read up on the Multiverse before we talked. I could tell he wasn't interested in attending a meeting with us, or any other debriefing."

"I have reported his presence to Command. I expect further questions to come. In the meantime, we are due to remain on station until relieved by a Gersallian fleet squadron," Kaveri said. "The Interdependency government is going to re-evaluate Domaram H's status for the time being."

"There's still a species down there that doesn't meet contact requirements," said Julia.

"True. A duck-blind of some sort may be employed to watch over the Temple and avoid native issues. Either way, until we receive clearance to depart, we will finish repairs and maintain vigil. You are all dismissed. But I would like to speak to Captain Andreys."

A number of sympathetic looks went toward Julia as the group dispersed from their places. Robert and Lucy went over to join Megaera in going down the far lift, returning them to the lower decks, while the others headed toward the bridge.

From her seat along the side, Julia waited quietly for Kaveri to explain.

"From what has been said, you may have been the difference between victory and defeat in this matter," Kaveri said softly, sounding more like an approving grandmother than anything else.

"Maybe. We all worked together," Julia answered.

"I thought you should know that Command relayed a communication from New Liberty. A Doctor Schneider wishes to speak to you."

Julia pursed her lips and nodded. "I was due for a session a couple days ago. To judge if I was ready to return to duty."

"You have extenuating circumstances."

"That won't be enough if she's working for Davies," Julia answered. "He wants me off the ship. He wants us all off the ship. And he knows removing me will begin that process. He can maneuver one of his people to be in command and drive the others off."

Kaveri nodded stiffly. "I can tell he has a very negative view on you and your crew. I can understand having concerns about your military bearing and the discipline of your ship, but your actions and accomplishments should speak for themselves."

"It has to do with Meridina, with the metaphysical stuff. He doesn't trust the Gersallians, or Robert and Lucy for that matter." She shook her head. "He doesn't trust telepaths either."

"I am familiar with the kind. They value their mental independence, and their trust in their own thinking." Kaveri straightened in the chair. "Either way, I wish you the best with Doctor Schneider. Have faith that your deeds will speak for themselves."

"Thank you, Captain." Julia returned her grin. "Either way, hopefully you'll be enjoying New Year's with your wife."

Kaveri looked wry, as if she were not sure to count on anything at this point. "Hopefully."

After the talk Julia returned to her guest quarters. There was no point in delaying the matter. It was time to see how things would go with Schneider.

She put on her uniform and replicated a cup of tea to soothe her nerves, reminding herself she still needed to see about getting a replicator pattern for the tea that Fire Lord Daizon's people served. Once she felt ready, she went to the desk and activated the ship's comm systems.

After a couple minutes of the call routing through the Alliance's interuniversal comm network, the image of Dr. Gertrude Schneider appeared on the screen. The silver-haired woman smiled politely at her. The window behind her showed a starlit night sky. "Captain, it's good to hear from you. I was worried when I heard about the attack."

"Thank you, Doctor," Julia answered politely. "I'm sorry I couldn't get ahold of you before now. I've been indisposed on another matter."

"So I've heard. Related to the attack?"

"Somewhat, yes. I'm afraid that's all I can say."

"Of course." Schneider settled her hands on her desk. "You seem to have gone through this experience quite well."

"I've been in danger before," Julia answered. "It's part of the life."

"So it is."

"I don't know when I'll be back to New Liberty, maybe in a few days." Julia settled herself to try and keep her heart from beating too hard. "Unless you've made a decision?"

"Ah. To this point then." Schneider nodded. "I won't keep you in suspense any longer, Captain. I have made my determination as to your suitability."

"And?" Julia struggled to keep any impatience from her voice. "What was your finding?"

"That you are cleared to return to your command, of course."

The relief she felt couldn't be hidden. Hearing those words, it felt like the world had finally righted itself under her feet. "Thank you," she said, grinning widely as she spoke.

"I am owed no thanks." A somber tone filled the older woman's voice. "To be truthful, I haven't been my best with you, Captain."


"You were right before. My interviews with you, I wasn't conducting them as I normally would. I wasn't given the chance to pursue a proper therapeutic interaction with you."

"What do you mean?" she asked. "Are you saying something was interfering?"

"I am not saying anything of the sort. Only what I must." Schneider shook her head. "What matters for you is that my determination is made. It's time you got back to your ship, Captain. The official word should come in soon. Goodbye."

Julia wanted to ask her more, but she knew it wouldn't matter. Schneider wouldn't continue the conversation, possibly couldn't without risking further problems. "Goodbye, Doctor," she said.

Her first impulse with the call over was to celebrate. Who to celebrate with was another matter. Most of her friends were busy with their duties after the battle, even Robert. Repairs, reports, it all occupied their time, and it wouldn't be right to delay that work.

There was, at least, one other person who would be available.

That was what led her, about ten minutes later, onto one of the holodecks. The inside was a simple park landscape program with a stream and a lake surrounded by trees and grass. Miko, wearing a red and gold set of training clothes, stood at the side of the stream practicing her forms. The water moved in line with her arms, mostly, although it didn't quite go as far as her movements. "You're improving," Julia said.

Miko stopped and turned. She grinned and nodded. "I am, Sifu Julia. Thanks to you."

"No need for the titles right now," Julia said. "I'm not here to be your trainer. I just got some good news and I wanted someone to celebrate it with."

Miko's eyes widened, more out of happiness than surprise. "They reinstated you?"

She nodded once. "She cleared me to go back to duty. I should get the orders soon."

"That's wonderful news! I'm so happy for you!" Miko came up and embraced her in congratulations.

"How are you doing? That was a tough fight," Julia remarked. "You helped turn it our way."

"It's what I was meant to do," Miko said. "I'm just glad I helped that much."

"How's the Waterbending coming? Are the forms working?"

"Better now. I've still got some training work to do. I'm still feeling my way through this." Miko's grin turned a little pensive. "I guess it came just in time, if you're going to be back on duty."

"Yeah. But if you want, I can see about keeping you aboard for a little while. We can continue working on your style when I'm not on watch."

"I'd like that."

Julia nodded. A serious expression crossed her face. "It could be dangerous. I've got no idea what missions they might call us on, and any day we could end up at war with the Dominion."

"If that happens, it happens, but you've done more for me learning Waterbending than anyone else," Miko insisted. "You've helped me grasp what this art is. I think I can learn a lot more from you."

"Well, we'll see where this goes." Julia gestured to the door. "But right now, I'd like to head to the Lookout and celebrate the news. Interested?"

The smile on Miko's face was her answer.

By the next morning the news was already cross the ship. Captain Andreys was cleared for duty and would likely resume command after Christmas. Everything was returning to normal for them.

Cat received other news, and that was why she went to Deck 6 at the earliest opportunity. She found Liara in her guest quarters using the library computer to examine images of a set of ruins.

Liara turned from the screen. "Any news on an excavation to that temple?"

"Yeah, but not good news." Cat shook her head. "The Gersallian government's refusing to allow an excavation. They're worried that it won't be possible to hide it from the planet's natives."

"They have a point. We ran into a couple of local hunters during our climb up the mountain."

"Yeah, but with that Reshan guy awake, we could just turn off the dampening field and beam right in. They wouldn't even see us." Cat flopped into the nearby chair. "And that's something else. I mean, this guy is supposed to be from three thousand years ago. Think of all the knowledge he has on this universe from that era. And I know he's not an artifact or anything, but I'm not even being allowed to ask him for an interview yet."

"Maybe that'll change." Liara smiled at her. "You didn't come here just to complain about this to me, did you?"

"Huh? Oh, oh! No, not at all." Cat giggled and shook her head. "No, I've actually got really good news." She pulled a digital tablet out of her uniform jacket. "Here!"

Liara took it. Her smile grew as she read the words. "I've been approved to serve as a civilian scientist?"

"Yes! And we've got an open spot on the Aurora for a xenoarchaeologist!" Cat clapped her hands. "Are you interested?"

"Of course," Liara insisted.

"I'll file the paperwork then, and we'll have to introduce you to the other civilian staff." Cat's grin was infectious as she stood. "Welcome aboard, Doctor T'Soni!"

After Cat left, Liara turned back to the displays before her. This was what she'd wanted, and now that she had it, she considered all the things she needed to do. She'd have to inform Feron, obviously. Arrange for her things to be delivered or put in storage.

It was all worth it as a chance to put the events of the last several months behind her and start over fresh.

And maybe find a way to soothe my conscience , she thought to herself. I should have told them about Shepard. About what I've done. What's being done. They deserve to know.

But she couldn't tell. That was made clear to her. All she could do was remain silent, and wait to see if it was all for nothing.

Across Deck 6, another meeting was taking place, as Reshan sat back on the couch in his assigned guest quarters. "You're still uncertain about this, aren't you?" he asked his visitor.

Megaera's head shifted, as if she was looking him eye to eye.

"I know what's under that head wrap," Reshan remarked. "What's the point in wearing it with me?"

"Habit," she replied. "It's our way, you know that, and I am using it instead of sunglasses to protect White’s identity, she’s helping them for whatever reason right now."

"Right. You don't want anyone to see what's under there. And I suppose I can’t complain if you’re still friends with White." He sipped at some water.

She reached off and took the wrap off, wincing at even the dim light of the room. “Does it make me more honest that you can see my eyes? I sort of like the challenge of fighting blind.”

He honored her gesture and didn’t flinch at the hideous red pits that were strangely far worse than Tisiphone’s glowing red eyes. Tisiphone’s looked evil; Megaera’s looked like they would drive you insane if you looked at them too long. “I didn’t mind. The Miralukan look suited you.”

“Thank you.” She promptly started to wrap them back up. “I prefer it to contacts.” He could easily tell, though, that she was still upset.

"So what's bothering you? It's all going according to plan, isn't it? Is your mistress still that skeptical?"

"You know how she feels about these matters," said Megaera.

"Our old Time Lord friend made clear to her how it'd work." Reshan smirked. "Does she still call him 'the useless fop'?"

"He is. And the Doctor has his own problems in his own cosmos to worry about. He's not always reliable in that way."

"True. But he's going to be there when it counts. And it doesn't change what I said. This is working out."

Megaera shook her head. "They're not ready, M'lord. They don't have the skill. The power. They don't even understand the threat."

"We can fix that." Reshan set his glass on the table and fixed a stare at her. "The important thing is your mistress' intention. I'm no fool, she has her own agenda in all things."

"Her agenda, as you call it, remains unchanged on one key point; fighting the Darkness in all of its forms, and if possible, ending the threat. Whatever she thinks of the Circle, she will see it through to the end."

"And afterward?"

Megaera shrugged. "Who can say?"

"What of your… 'teacher'?" He almost snarled the word. "What does that creature want?"

"What any Sith wants, M'lord. Power."

"And you?"

The answer came swiftly. "Revenge. Three thousand years, a million, it doesn’t matter. I want to visit on the Darkness what they visited on us. Aeons may pass, and if they remain, my will to live will endure, all for to see the end of them.”

"Not the most laudable of goals. But I'm familiar with it, and I can work with that."

"There is still the matter of the so-called Dawn-Bearers. They’re still a disaster. Swenya was head and shoulders above them."

"Maybe they're not ready yet. But they will be." He leaned forward. "I'll see to that, personally."

Megaera bowed her head. “Use me as a foil then, M’lord. You have the rare chance to train them against a Dark Jedi who will not take advantage of it to kill them or taint them. We fought together in the worst war that has ever been, you know my measure, I will not do anything to jeopardize the Circle or my vengeance.”

That brought a moment of silence from the old man. "I think I may just take you up on that." He grinned slightly. "And if I have their measure correctly, they may just provide you the vengeance you seek."

Ship's Log: 25 December 2643 AST; ASV Aurora. Captain Kaveri Varma recording. It is with pleasure that I record our arrival at Tira this morning at 0448 New Liberty time. This is to be my last official status log as Captain of the Aurora. It has been an interesting tour and will serve well as an end to my official career. I look forward to turning command over to Captain Andreys tomorrow and beginning my retirement.

In the meantime, the
Aurora crew is commencing Christmas celebrations, and later in the day we will be transporting down for a special occasion concerning an invitation my wife gave them after the Tira Crisis.

Christmas festivities aboard ship were joined by an unseasonal event: a baseball game.

Aboard the ship, in the Lookout and elsewhere, those remaining on the ship had access to holovid transmissions of the game, while down on Tira the command crews of the Aurora and Koenig were assembled at a stadium with a baseball diamond set up on the field. Local Dilgar residents, primarily Eden and Rohrican settlers to the northern islands, made up the majority of the crowd, but an entire section was given over to the Aurora officers and crew who came to attend.

The Aurora and Koenig crews formed one of the teams playing on the diamond, the crew of the Dilgar flagship Magaratha the other team. The uniforms were made to conform to the 1903 edition rules of the game, with some reasonable adaptations, and the equipment was likewise fit to that ruleset. The Dilgar wore pinstripe suits in gray colors while the Aurora and Koenig crews employed blue uniforms with a stylized dawn set against the shape of the Koenig on the left breast.

The Dilgar were up to bat. Zack was pitching for the Alliance team. His tactical officer April Sherlily was at shortstop, and Tom was at the plate as catcher. Angel was at first base, Locarno in the right outfield, and the other positions were taken up by various officers and crew selected by Meridina and Zack. Others were in the bullpen as reserve players.

In the seating behind home plate, Shai'jhur and Kaveri were reunited, seated side by side. Julia and Robert were beside them with Lucy, Talara, Jarod, Tra'dur, and Leo among them. On the other side sat Governor Ari'shan and some of his family. Bet'tir was seated behind the First Couple of the Union with Shai'jhur's own Mha'dorn bodyguard, and her second youngest daughter, Sai’jhur, who was studying at the war college. Nearby a mobile replicator unit stood ready to provide them with any food they desired while additional choice was provided by the concession workers plying snacks (mostly meat foods) all along the stands.

It was the bottom of the fourth inning. The Dilgar had a slight lead, four runs to three, and two outs, with a runner on second. The batter coming up was one of the better Dilgar batters, being responsible for two of the scored runs so far. "It would seem your Commander Carrey is having difficulty with Kan'jar," Shai'jhur noted teasingly.

"Give him time," Julia answered, grinning. "Zack's still getting warmed up."

Everyone went silent as Zack threw a pitch. It went slightly off-center, on the border of the strike zone, but Kan'jar swung anyway and missed. The Dilgar umpire called it a strike as Tom caught the pitch and threw it back.

Receiving the ball again, Zack started idly tossing the ball into the air with his right arm, as if priming himself for the next pitch.

“Shouldn’t the pitching be faster?” Pei’shan asked with a pout. “They’re really drawing this out.”

"That's not the way of the game," Robert said softly. "This is a more leisurely game. You take your time."

"No, I'm with her." Lucy chuckled. "This game takes too long."

Robert shot a sardonic glance her way, which she answered with her tongue stuck out.

"Was that a strike?" Talara asked. "How? I thought it had to be hittable, it didn't look hittable."

"He still swung for it," Julia answered. "Even if it should've been a ball, it's a strike if you go for it."

Zack spun up to throw his next pitch. Just as he did, the Dilgar on second base took off. The pitch sailed through the air and went low in the center. Kan'jar swung again and missed.

The moment Tom had the ball he threw it to third base, where a Human man, one of the petty officers, was waiting. He caught it and brought it low to tag the Dilgar runner just as the runner's foot touched the base. The third base umpire swept his arms to gesture the runner as safe.

"Your team's very aggressive," Leo said to Shai'jhur.

"I should hope so!" she answered enthusiastically. "Now let us see if Kan'jar can bring another run in."

Zack twirled the ball in his hand for a moment and looked up at Tira's bright blue sky. Whether it was in prayer or another gesture, none could see. Once his eyes came back down he tugged at the visor of his cap and nodded.

The next pitch flew.

Everything happened in an instant. The runner at third exploded for home. The ball sailed toward home plate, a low fastball. The burly Dilgar swung—


—and the ball skittered into the ground as Zack rushed forward from the mount. He caught the ball with his left hand mitt, transferred it to his right hand in less than a second, and threw it forward. Tom caught it and thrust his mitt toward the ground, tagging the Dilgar runner in the leg just as his foot extended for home.

For a second the entire stadium waited for the ruling.

The Dilgar umpire drew back a closed fist and growled "Out!"

The crowd exploded. Disappointment from some, but from many, appreciation.

"And on into the fifth inning," Jarod said, grinning.

“And see, our umpires are being very fair!” Sai’jhur exclaimed. “Nah’dur would want them to help us win.”

Shai’jhur groaned softly. “Don’t tease your sister in front of others, Sai.”

"I'm just glad to see Zack play again." Robert had a wistful expression. He thought of the dream world he'd been in over the previous Christmas, a dreamworld where his friend had reached the majors as he'd dreamed. "It was his thing."

Shai’jhur returned to smiling, and put an arm around her wife. “I am glad we all have a little bit of peace today, Captain.”

With the game and the post-game Christmas meal over, Robert joined Julia in her temporary guest quarters. "So, going to enjoy your last night of freedom?" he asked.

She grinned at him. "Well, I do have a pile of reports to go over to get back on track. I figured I'd get to that."

"Back to being Miss Responsibility, then." He grinned at her.

"And you're still looking like you should be," she teased, tapping at his hairless chin. "Things really are back to normal, I guess. Given how crazy this year's been, it's about time."

"I know it feels like the year's gone on forever." Robert followed her to the couch and sat beside her. "But at least it's ending the right way. We're here, together. All of us."

"And we're not rebuilding the ship in drydock again," Julia laughed.

He chuckled in agreement. "Yeah. And I'm not comatose and dreaming of another world this time."

"Yeah." Julia let out a small sigh. "I wish I could say next year will go smoother. But it's not going to, is it?"

"Are you asking my opinion, or for me to tell the future?"

"Either would work."

"Fair enough." Robert shook his head. "Seeing Reshan, meeting him… it puts things in perspective, I guess. This whole Multiverse thing, it's gotten more complicated than it's ever been." He laughed at himself. "Which is saying something since it's always been complicated."

"We just never let ourselves see it. We were too busy trying to be heroes."

"Some would say we still are." Robert clapped her on the shoulder. "You're certainly one."

"Ha! Coming from the White Knight himself!" She giggled at him. "That's a high compliment."

"It's meant to be one," he assured her. Despite the humor a somber feeling came over him. "Whatever this Circle is, we haven't finished with it yet, and the Cylons and Brotherhood still want to break it. We're going to have more fighting on our hands. A lot more, I think."

"Yeah." She nodded. "But we'll be ready when it comes. Just like with any challenge."

"We'll face it together," he agreed whole-heartedly.
"A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve »


The Lookout was packed and the tables moved out of the way to allow for the ceremony taking place. A host of attendees went quiet when Meridina called out, "Attention to orders."

Clad in Stellar Navy dress whites, Julia and Kaveri looked toward one another. Kaveri brought up a digital reader. "To Captain Kaveri Varma, Commanding Officer Starship Aurora, 26 December 2643 Alliance Standard Time," she began, reading from the display. "You are hereby requested and required to relinquish command of your vessel to Captain Julia Andreys as of this date. Signed, Admiral Tashan Tiyari, Alliance Stellar Navy Personnel Command." Kaveri lowered the reader and faced Julia. "Computer, this is Captain Kaveri Varma. Transfer all command functions to Captain Julia Andreys, authorization Bravo-Delta-Zulu-Six."

"Code recognized. ASV Aurora is now under the command of Captain Julia Andreys."

Julia extended her hand to Kaveri. "Captain Varma, I relieve you, ma'am. Enjoy your retirement."

"I stand relieved. Thank you, Captain Andreys. I wish you and your crew the best." She glanced their way as they applauded at the conclusion of the ceremony. "They are not the conventional crew I am used to, but they are a good one, and I am proud to have been their Captain."

"I'm thankful they had you during my absence, Captain."

Julia could say no more for the moment as the others were coming up to shake hands. Cat, as expected, went for the hug with Julia while her sister shook Kaveri's hand. "I admit I didn't know how it'd go with you, Captain," Angel said. "But I'm glad to have had you."

"And to think I just got finished with the protocols for the new ship running status system," Jarod said, taking her hand next.

Overhearing that while shaking Mister Scott's hand, Julia said, "Well, I won't let it go to waste, Jarod. Splitting crew operating status from ship readiness will help with flexibility and long alerts."

"Aye. It'll let th' crew have down time without compromisin' ship safety," Scotty agreed while moving on to Kaveri. She accepted his hand. "Captain, thank ye for th' honor of servin' with ye."

"The honor was mine, Mister Scott. Your reputation preceded you greatly."

When it was Cat's turn to give Kaveri a goodbye, she started with an audible, "I hope you enjoy your retirement, Captain" before lowering her voice and pulling a little closer. "Thank you for listening to me. It helped."

Kaveri nodded once in understanding. "It will remain between us, Commander Delgado. I would give you some advice, however."


"Among family, a shared burden is easy to carry. This is your family, and they are strong enough to handle it."

Cat swallowed and nodded. "I… I see. I'll think about it."

"That is all I ask."

The ship stayed at Tira through the week, finishing remaining repairs at the new fleet station in orbit and seeing parties visit the planet below. Zack and the joint team followed up on their game with the Magaratha crew by holding a couple of extra exhibition matches with other local teams.

Now the time had come to depart, as the new year was coming in. The command crews of both ships gathered on the bridge with Robert and his team in attendance. Everyone was in their place, with Julia back in the command seat and wearing the uniform as if nothing had happened.

This was untrue, of course. Much had happened. They'd faced another challenge and overcome it; more to the point, they knew even more would be coming their way.

Ruminating on that, Julia spoke up. "You know, this new year is the best year we've had since '41. We're not in dry dock. Nobody's in a coma. We're all here, together."

"You might want to be careful about that, Julia," Zack remarked. "We've still got a few hours to go. You're asking for a space wedgie to swallow us and deposit us in some alternate dimension we have to fight our way out of."

That brought chuckles to the assembled. Julia joined them, grinning. "And I'd feel sorry for whatever brought is into that wedgie," she said, with applause as an answer to join the laughs. She straightened her head to look to the bow of the ship, where the holo-viewer showed the oceanic world of Tira spinning on below them. "Mister Locarno, we're due for a week's patrol tour of the Union. Set a course to our first patrol point and take us out."

"Aye ma'am," Locarno answered. "Breaking orbit now, getting departure vector from planetary traffic control."

The Starship Aurora gently pulled away from the planet she'd once fought so hard to save. She cleared the orbital space and warped away in a burst of light.

After everyone split up, Robert and Julia headed to her office with Megaera beside them. Once they were securely inside Robert turned to her. "I've been meaning to ask about your intentions," he said. "With Reshan released from stasis, is your job here over?"

"No," she answered matter-of-factly. Even with the headwrap covering her eyes, Robert felt like she was staring intently at him. "Until the Circle is completed, I will remain. My Mistress' orders are clear."

Robert nodded once and restrained himself from sighing. He could sense Julia was not pleased to hear it. But he also knew, even without sensing her intent, that she would dog their steps if asked to leave the Aurora. Her ship would always be right behind them, and that might cause all manner of trouble. "Well, I can keep you on my team officially and get you quarters. But we're going to have to be careful about this." Even as he spoke he felt Julia's open annoyance. "After the Citadel you became known to a lot of intelligence services."

"The Circle is my only concern, Captain, not whatever petty politicking your Alliance engages in. You can trust in my discretion." A sly grin formed on her face. "It's not like we don't have this technology ourselves, after all."

"Right." Julia sighed. "I'll make your quarter assignment permanent for the time being, then. But you're not to enter engineering or any other restricted space on the ship without a command level officer present. I'm afraid I have to insist."

"I understand perfectly well, Captain. I will not provide you or your security detachments any embarrassment." The grin didn't disappear from her face. "Is that all, or must I sign a secrecy oath as well?"

"That's not necessary," Julia said. "Welcome to the Aurora, Megaera."

After nodding in acknowledgement, she left.

Julia's eyes immediately went to Robert. "This isn't going to go over well, Rob. You have to know that."

"She helped us, Julia. I can vouch for her to Maran, and he'll back the play."

"NEUROM's a long-term threat to the Alliance. Whatever this Circle thing is, once it's handled, she's probably going to be our enemy again."

"Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, I think we'll need her."

"You're probably right." Julia's eyes lowered. "But I just know she's going to be trouble at some point."

Robert's plans to turn in right after the stroke of midnight ended when his omnitool went off. A message appeared on the screen.

We must speak - Reshan

Given the reclusiveness the man had shown since coming aboard, Robert felt it was high time they talked. He had a lot of questions that needed answers. He ventured out into the Deck 6 corridors and made his way aft toward Reshan's assigned quarters.

On the way he was met by Lucy and Gina. Meridina joined them at a corridor junction with a turbolift door. Talara rushed up as they got to Reshan's door. With all of them together Robert tapped the chime. "We're here."

The door slid open. They entered the quarters and found Reshan waiting for them, clad in his gray robe over a Gersallian tunic and pants of light color. "So, what's this about?" Robert asked.

"And you do know it's the end of the day for us, right? It's almost the middle of the night," added Lucy.

"I'm aware. But now that I've learned what I need to about the Multiverse, it's time we spoke about what's coming."

"I assume you mean the Circle?" Meridina asked. "And our purpose regarding it?"

"Yes. Waking me from stasis fulfills part of the Circle, but only part of it. The Circle hasn't been closed yet, and the Brotherhood and the Pretenders will stop at nothing to break it."

"So what is this 'Circle'?" Lucy demanded. "The lady with the hand-torturing box and Mr. Enigma Hank wouldn't say word one about it, not a damn thing."

By the time she was finished with that sentence, Reshan was chortling. "Very descriptive ways to speak of the Endless and Sidney Hank, I grant you," Reshan remarked. "Very fitting too. She loves that box test far too much."

Lucy folded her arms. "I get the feeling you're not going to tell us anything about it either."

"I think I like you," he said. "But we can banter later. I can't tell you what it is, Lucilla. If any of you learn what the Circle actually is, what it entails, the knowledge itself will break the Circle." His bemused expression faded away, replaced by a dour frown. "And the Darkness will overrun the Multiverse."

Each of them could feel the sincerity in that statement, as much as they disliked it. And each sensed the others' own understanding. "Okay, so you can't tell us about it," Robert said. "We'll accept that for the time being. If you're not going to tell us what it is, why did you want to see us?"

Reshan didn't immediately answer. He seemed to consider the quarters for a moment. ""I have studied your accomplishments since you found that Darglan Facility," he began. "They are significant, and it bodes well for the Multiverse that such people as you began this new era. But there is much to be done. The integrity of everything you know and hold dear is at stake and you must be ready for the challenges that lie ahead of you."

"We've faced a lot of challenges so far," Lucy pointed out.

"None like this, Lucilla, not a one like this," he answered. "Had Megaera not been at the temple, that Pretender would've killed every single one of you. You have little idea of what it takes to face those creatures, or to beat them. Not yet, anyway." He nodded to them. "As of now, you are my students, and I will train you to use your potential to the fullest. I'll make you ready for what's to come."

"So you're going to school us all? Just like that, huh?" Lucy snapped her fingers. "I love how you assume we'll agree."

A smirk formed on the old man's face. "And I love how you're pretending you're not going to sign right up. You know something of the stakes, all of you, and it's up to me to make you ready for them. Oh, you're in on this, you wouldn't be on this ship if you were the type to back out now."

They glanced at each other. "Crap," Lucy sighed. "More standing on our heads time."

"Oh, what a sweet summer child," Reshan chuckled. "You really think it'll be that easy?" He glanced to Meridina next. "Go ahead and speak up for everyone, Meridina. I can sense you've got a question. And yes, I know you're the second-in-command of the ship, we'll train around that."

"I expected as much," she replied. Meridina kept her voice level, as if she still wasn't trying to adjust to the idea that Swenya's storied mentor was this acerbic, snarky old man. "I don't have a question so much as… a concern." She leveled her eyes toward his. "Much of what we've learned, the Order Council kept secret. Some secrets were so great I doubt even they knew the truth. Your book makes clear the conventional histories are inaccurate, even outright wrong. Even Swenya's teachings… she was trained by you, but while she stood for Light, I can sense the Dark in you as well. What are you, truly? What is the truth of Reshan?"

His expression turned thoughtful. Robert felt melancholy surge through the old man. "I understand your concerns, Meridina of the Lumantala," Reshan said softly. "To protect the Circle, fictions had to be told. Choices taken. The truth had to be protected lest it ruin everything. It is not what I would have preferred, but it was made clear that it was the only safe way to make the Circle work."

"But if you're worried about Swenya, about who she really was, don't be," he insisted. "I've read what your people know of her. Whatever minor facts or details are missing, the essence is there, the truth. Swenya is precisely what your histories say she was." The melancholy seeped into his voice and a certain sadness crept into his eyes. "She was my greatest student, the best of all the students or followers I ever had. How I miss her." He sighed. "She forged her own path toward the light, but without becoming arrogant and disdainful of those who walked in darkness, a common error for many who take that path." He showed no signs of sensing Meridina's discomfort, given she was thinking of her conversation with Megaera. "Whatever she felt about that power, she recognized it did not lead to irredeemable evil. I like to think she learned that from me. And as for myself..."

As the others waited for him to continue, a wry chuckle came from his throat. "Oh, I could write volumes about the turns of my life, Meridina. My true biography would be far larger and stranger than that book I left for you, and all of those pleasant lies in it. The truth is, Reshan isn't my name. It's just another of the many names I've taken over my life. It's the one with the best history, at least."

"If Reshan is not your name, then what is?" Talara asked.

He grinned. "That depends on who you ask." His smile quietly gave way to a thoughtful, almost mournful expression. "Given the circumstances, though, I'll share the name that shaped me. Made me who I am, and the name on all of the many histories undoubtedly written about me in my home universe." His eyes swept over their faces, keeping their attention. "I am Revan, formerly a Master of the Jedi Order and once a Dark Lord of the Sith."

Talara spoke up. "Jedi? Sith? What do you mean?"

"I'll explain, in due time," he answered. "For now, know that in my life I have walked the paths of light and darkness, and starting tomorrow, I'll teach you everything I've learned."

Robert met his intense eyes. "Even darkness?"

"Especially darkness," Revan answered, his voice now almost youthful from the iron tone of the words. "You'll need to know the power of darkness in order to fight it, if we're to bring everything full circle."
"A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve »

The Adventures of the ASV Aurora
and her crew
will continue in...

"Undiscovered Frontier"
Season 4

The hour of destiny approaches

The Flow of Life - the Force - filled Robert's senses where he sat in meditation. He drew on it carefully, pulling back when he felt his control slipping.

"I feel your fear." Revan's words pierced Robert's focus. "Your uncertainty lingers."

"This power is dangerous," he replied. "I've nearly hurt people with it before."

"And you'll hurt more if you don't master it," the old man countered.


The training blades created a blur in Lucy's vision. She moved her own rapidly to intercept Revan's blows. Beside her Robert and Talara were both trying, and failing, to meet the attacks of Megaera. A glance told her Gina was still recovering.

The same glance resulted in a powerful blow on her arm. She hissed in pain. "You let yourself get distracted," Revan scolded her. "And now I've sliced your arm off."

She was frustrated enough to retort, "Well, excuse me for being human and checking on my partner!"

"Your enemies aren't human," Revan countered. "And they'll do worse." Without a moment's pause he went on the attack again.


The Aurora plunged through the system, the fire from the Cylon ships a wreath of energy around the ship's deflectors. "Shields still holding," Jarod said.

Julia's order was urgent. "We're almost there, keep on course!"


The attackers formed a solid line of black robes between Meridina and her father, but through them she felt her father's surprise as the ground gave away beneath him. "Father!" She reached for him.

But it was too late. He fell through, and her foes were too many for her to catch him.


"If the Circle breaks, we are all lost," Meridina insisted over the whine of her lightsaber pressed against her opponent's. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because it has to be!" the Cylon Gina-model screamed.

New dangers have arisen...

To Leo the creature was more living tank than insect. Four massive pincer arms, each with the size to rip armored vehicles to shreds. The size of the creature rivaled F1S1's BattleMechs.

"We've got nothing that can fight that thing!" one of the colonists screamed. "We've got to run!"

From the fleeing crowd, Lucy emerged. Her lightsaber flashed to life. Without another word, she broke out into a run, rushing toward the alien monster.


"We're approaching the outer system now," Jarod noted aloud for everyone's benefit. "Preparing to transmit open first contact… wait."

"What is it, Commander?" Julia asked.

"We're picking up a warning signal from a point in the system," he answered. "It's from the habitat on Eros. They're suffering a major radiation leak."

"Sounds like our first contact just became a rescue mission," Angel remarked.

New allies step forward…

"What's going on? Where am I?" asked the blond woman, still adjusting to the unfamiliar figures standing around her in this strange, living structure.

Robert spoke softly to reassure her. "It's okay, Ms. Winters. You're among friends."

"And family," added Colin. "Welcome back, Talia."


The silver starship on the screen was replaced by the image of a starship bridge. Julia spoke with the care due a first contact. "This is Captain Julia Andreys of the Alliance Starship Aurora."

"Captain Andreys." The speaker was one of the two people at the center of the screen, a Human-looking male with light skin and dark hair. "I'm Captain Ed Mercer of the USS Orville. And I have to say you were the last thing I was expecting to meet out here…"

As the Multiverse descends into conflict…

"Signal from the Defiant, Jem'Hadar and Cardassian warships are on an attack vector." Magda glanced toward Zack. "Orders?"

"Code Red, all hands to battle stations," Zack said firmly. "Whatever happens, they're not going through."


Robert brought his lightsaber up to intercept the incoming shots, giving him the moment he needed to send his opponents flying. "It doesn't have to happen like this," he said. "We're supposed to be allies, Kirrahe!"

He sensed the regret in the Salarian officer's voice. "The situation is not desired. But we have our orders. We will hold the line."


The quiet conversation in the Hilton Head reception room gave way to panicked surprise. Julia moved through the various Inner Sphere nobles and ComStar officials to get to the window and see what was happening. Her eyes widened at the sight. "Are those…"

"Yes, Captain, they are." Focht stepped up beside her with his jaw set firmly. His one remaining eye locked onto the incoming shapes with intense focus. "We have confirmation. Those are Word of Blake DropShips."

"It's a full-scale invasion," she gasped.


The entire Lookout watched Senator Pensley speak in increasing rancor on the holo-screen. "Conflict after conflict, battle after battle, when will this end?" he demanded. "This Alliance has not kept its promises to my people. It has failed the cause of peace in the Multiverse!"

"I really do not like that man," Locarno admitted to the others.

"There is no point in saving this rotten structure. We can only save ourselves. The people of the Tetzelian Republic will not shed our blood for the wars the Alliance leadership is dragging us into. We hereby announce our intention to withdraw from the Alliance!"

The words brought silence to the Lookout.

...the key to their fate will be found…

"It has all come down to this." Revan's intent expression swept across the room, taking in everyone. Beside him Megaera remained silent. "It is time to complete the Circle."


The others could hear the excitement in Cat's voice as the recovered data flowed over the screen. "New universal coordinates," she said in surprise.

…in a galaxy far, far away...

At Robert's gesture the others lowered their weapons and extinguished their blades. The figures opposite them did likewise. "I'm Robert Dale," he said. "Paladin of the Alliance." He offered his hand to the lead figure.

The older woman accepted it. "I am Satele Shan," she said. "Grand Master of the Jedi Order."

The dark-robed figures ignited their lightsabers, all a familiar crimson color.

"Well, I guess we know what these guys are about, don't we?" Lucy sighed to the others, raising her own weapon in readiness.


The massive warships loomed ominously on the holo-viewer. "Sith warships coming in, weapons are active!" Angel called out. "They're locking on!"

"Fire at will!" Julia answered. "We've got to buy the others time!"


Robert charged across the temple courtyard. His weapon moved into place just in time to prevent the fatal blow from being struck on the prone Jedi. "This fight's over," he insisted. "You've already lost."

The rage-filled eyes of yellow color bored into his soul. "Impudent outsider," said Darth Malgus, his voice distorted by the mask over his mouth and nose. "Those who stand with the Jedi will share their fate!"

Undiscovered Frontier
Season 4
"Full Circle"
Coming Fall 2020

And coming soon…

The Multiverse is at the brink of war.

As conflict becomes inevitable

A disgraced captain is sent on a mission to secure the means to survive.

But the question remains...

What will survival cost?

Big Steve Presents….

Undiscovered Frontier:
The Price

Written by:

Conceived by:

Coming 2020
"A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Coming Storm" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 3 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

That was pretty great. Though I personally would've thought it cooler if the SW-ness and the Jedi and Sith-ness were kept distant and vague, having it be a second-hand mystique and less explicit was nice.

"Sometimes Shroomy I wonder if your imagination actually counts as some sort of war crime." - FROD
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