USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Once And For All

Posted on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 @ 1:35pm by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Claudia Ainscow & Lieutenant Commander Martha Cusack & Major Storr Garlake & Lieutenant Kazyah Linn & Commander Tolan & Lieutenant JG Nealey Snowdon & Sergeant Bella Zaltin
Edited on on Sat Mar 25th, 2017 @ 8:07pm

Mission: S1E4 - Remnants Of A Lost Cause
Location: The Facility; Saalkan's lab
Timeline: Mission Day 69; 11:00

Claudia, Bella and Tolan found their way into Saalkan's lab after fighting their way through the guards. They had no idea the away party from the captured K'Vort-class had now entered the facility so they'd decided to go it alone and hope back up arrived in time. With the trio finally breaking through the large heavy door into the facility they entered the room and stood opposite Saalkan a few metres away from him.

Claudia and Tolan kept their weapons firmly locked on the Vulcan man but for now wanted to goad him before subduing him.

"We meet again Saalkan. But am I a ghost or am I alive?" Tolan commented.

"It matters not," Saalkan said with a smug glower. "On the scale of eternity, you are the blip of a radar screen."

Kaz immediately grabbed his phaser from his belt and held it out, pointed at Tolan. His eyes met the Suliban's for a quick moment, hoping to glean the plan from them. But he got no new information. Improvisation it is, he thought to himself.

"And you...Mr Linn...what a pleasant surprise" Tolan sneered.

Claudia looked at Kazyah with contempt in her eyes - turning her rifle towards him and covertly increasing the setting of the weapon. She didn't know the man's true cause and believed him to be a traitor to Starfleet.

"You..." Claudia snarled.

Kaz opened his mouth to speak, but thought better of it. He looked from Claudia back to Tolan and gently nodded his head. This was it, and he wasn't afraid to die. "Don't let them forget, Tolan. Please," he said with a whisper, his eyes growing sad.

"Enough of this twaddle." Saalkan upheld one hand with his eyes closed. The other hand was thrust inside his robes.

At the gesture, the room's atmosphere became very thick and turgid, practically unbreathable. The pressure of a thousand oceans fell heavy upon everyone's shoulders, though the sheen of a shimmering bubble surrounded Saalkan and Kazyah.
The three Starfleet personnel fell to their knees, clutching their heads.

Claudia felt awful and lost the grip on her weapon. Crashing to the floor her facial expression accurately portrayed the amount of main she was in.

Tolan crumpled to the floor but he was managing to suppress the pain better than his colleagues were - although he was still struggling to concentrate and gather his thoughts about how to get them out of this mess.

Despite Bella's resistance to somewhat higher gravitational fields and radiation, she collapsed to the ground only moments after the rest, cursing her time in Starfleet as allowing weakness to humiliate her now. It really didn't matter how the blasted Vulcan was doing it, just that he was making her completely helpless...it was a feeling that she loathed, even more so when shown in front of others.

At that moment, John finally made his way into the room, looking much the worse for wear. His hair was disheveled and his clothing torn and scorched.

"Mr. Henley, how nice of you to finally join us," Saalkan said with disdainful sarcasm. "Please retrieve our guests' weapons, or I will make you join them."

"As you wish...Director" John said.

John collected the trio's weapons and tossed them aside well out of the way - before training his own on the trio. He'd come this far with Saalkan and wasn't going to back down now. He was loyal to the very end.

With Henley and Kazyah holding the three at bay, Saalkan turned more pompous than ever. "As you can see, I was never out of control of the situation. My ascendancy is written in the stars, so, you see, your defeat was inevitable."

"You are a great man Director. They were fools to ever believe they could defeat us with you as our leader" John said.

"Captain Claudia Ainscow." The mad Vulcan regarded his former commanding officer with pure antipathy. "I promised that you would get everything that is coming to you. I am nothing if not a man of my word."

From the folds of his robes, he retrieved a silver rod similar to the one he had given Kazyah earlier.

"This is an artefact from ancient Vulcan. It's prohibited now, save for museums." He held it with both hands as one might hold a baby. "A sound policy, for legend holds that one of pure spirit could perform miracles, and one without conscience could work horrors."
Still speaking, he held it out in front of his chest. "I have never performed a miracle of old against another living being, so it should please you that your death will be memorable."

Before anyone could speak, he thrust the rod outward. It emitted a scathing arc of red and purple lightning that cut through the air in a scattered zig-zag straight toward Claudia.

Even though he was in some pain Tolan managed to take off his commbadge before using all his might to push Claudia out of the way to prevent what would be certain death and the red and purple lightning struck the Suliban man - and in an instant, he had vanished.

Bella blinked. What had just happened? In all her time and training with a myraid of weapons, none just made someone instantly disappear. It shook her to her core and made her think twice as to if Salkaan really had the power he claimed he did.

Just as Tolan's body vanished a mystery assailant had silently slipped into the room and threw a large bladed knife straight at Henley - hitting him square in the back before the Ensign crumpled to the floor next to his leader.

"Come and get it...bitch," the assailant said.

Kaz immediately ran to Claudia's side, pulling her to her feet by her uniform jacket. "Run!" he yelled at her, pushing her back towards the entrance to the room.

He left her side and pulled the knife from Henley's back, shoving it into his belt as he picked up the man's phaser rifle. "Saalkan, you son-of-a bitch!" he screamed, unloading a volley of phaser fire in the Vulcan's direction. If this were any other time, Kaz would have been happy that he was able to use a phaser rifle successfully, but the moment of joy was lost in the circumstances.

"Did you think that you could march boldly into my sanctum sanctorum and that I would simply let you leave?!" The phaser fire deflected harmlessly from a protective screen in front of Saalkan. Rather than return fire, the Vulcan trembled as his eyes rolled back into his head.
"My son, bring them to me!"

Kaz's eyes rolled back in his head as the phaser rifle dropped from his grasp, clanging to the floor. He fell to his knees as his hands pulled at the hair on the side of his head, his body bent in agonizing pain.

"Never," he said through gritted teeth as he rolled to the side in an almost-fetal position. He did the best he could do to withstand Saalkan's attack, but Kazyah's telepathic abilities paled in comparison to the deranged Vulcan's. He reached to his belt and grabbed the dagger, pulling it free.

"Fight me like a man!" Kaz screamed, swinging his arm around him, trying to cut at the telepathic hold that Saalkan had on him. But alas, there was no corporeal appendage available to slash.

His body rose into the air, his limbs unmoving as the pain arced from his chest. Slowly, he floated through the air towards where Saalkan stood.

"You have failed me again." Saalkan stretched his hand out toward Kazyah, planting his spread palm across the man's chest. "But you will submit to my will, in this life or the next."

Power erupted from the man's bodily contact, sending Kaz's limp form hurling through the air, colliding with the opposite wall. He hit the massive structure with a thud and fell to the ground in an unmoving heap.

An explosion rocked the corridor leading to the central hall. Doqqu lurched through the doorway in a tuck and roll. When he sprang to his feet, weapon at the ready, he slammed a meaty fist against the emergency switch. Lights flashed as the door snapped closed.

"I hope you have a plan, Director," Doqqu barked. "We have heavily armed Marines on the other side of that door. All our forces have fallen. What now?"

An explosion rocked the door. It held, though it was dented. Clearly it would give out soon.

Saalkan threw his Rod of Kel on the ground and pulled his ever-cloaked hand from his robes. Within it was a slab of stone, about the size of a tricorder, embedded with ornate carvings.
"You have destroyed my Vorl-tak, but I have scoured the four quadrants to reconstruct this. Through it my will shall never be denied!"

Rather than the oppressive weight from before, instead the air lightened into a thin, wispy gust.

"My people destroyed the Stone of Gol, this blessed relic, rather than risk it falling into the wrong hands," Saalkan said. "Through it I could kill you all now, but I'd rather watch you destroy one another." His eyes rolled back once again. "Begin. Now."

Claudia stood up and immediately she went Kazyah - not noticing Nealey was hiding in the corner - waiting for the opportune moment to strike. She dealt the Intelligence Officer a number of blows with her fists and snarled into his ear.

"I've wanted to do this for so long..." Claudia snarled.

"Stop," Kaz whispered, but still didn't move from the floor. Blood was dripping down the back of his head and pooling on the ground.

The Caliasian felt...centered. Bella blithely ran a hand through her purple hair and then down her opposite reddish-toned arm, lazily assessing everyone in the room for potential. Kaz? No, too self-absorbed and currently being pummeled by the Captain. The Captain? Too wild for a serious fight. Nealey, skulking in the shadows? Too manic. Salkaan? Too egomaniacal. Doquu? Too conflicted and already...defeated? The detritus of mercs and guards scattered about? Not worth her time. So who here posed a serious challenge? No one it seemed.

The blow came as a complete shock, her jaw aching and fist throbbing. Who had the audacity to hit her like that? And without showing himself? The Marine sergeant spun around into a fighter's stance, perfectly balancing her body on the balls of her feet that were shoulder-width apart and one slightly forward of the other. This time, at least there was a flash of crimson flesh before it connected with her left cheek, sending her to the floor. The blow clipped her cheekbone and smashed into her nose, red blood streaming from her left nostril and a stream of curses coming from her violet lips. Rolling to her right side, she rose to a low knee and barely had time to deflect the next blow by raising her right forearm to catch...her left hand?

Sergeant Zaltin was agog and in the moment of weakness, the right-hand loosening was all it took for the left to careen into her same-sided temple. Stars blinkered in her vision as she collapsed onto her left side, attempting in vain to trap the wayward appendage which snaked out and grasped tightly around her neck. *What the FRAK is happening?!*

Saalkan cackled with fiendish delight. "Yes, my pets! Destroy yourselves! Devour one another for my amusement!"

Another explosion crashed through the lab, this time blowing the door off the wall. Through the smoke, three figures emerged, though only two had weapons drawn. The third stood defiant all the same.

Breathing heavily, Storr advanced at a medium pace, despite his battered body, neither in hurry nor resting, oblivious to the insanity which swirled around him. He had but one target.

"It's over Saalkan. Drop it or die" Martha snarled.

"Oh, yes! The more, the merrier!" Saalkan cried out. "Join your fellows in their self-inflicted doom." The Vulcan gave a low chuckle that carried into his next words. "Thus always to mortals."

Martha watched as others started to fight each other. Somehow it didn't reach her but to avoid the wrath of Saalkan she went for the nearest of Saalkan's guards and started to punch them repeatedly.

Claudia found her hands around Kazyah's throat until she decided the man had suffered enough and she let go - getting up and looking for her next target. The rage inside her was like nothing else and she was determined to make sure Saalkan died - even if she did too.

Jaya felt the onslaught of aggression sweep over her like a rainstorm. Fury pulled at the fringes of her mind, eliciting all of her secret passions and grievances from recent times back to long ago. Bloodlust began to curdle within her breast, a longing to inflict pain and suffering on anyone within reach.

No.

She was Deltan. Passion was her canvas on which weaved the tapestry of life. Rage would never be her master. She would not be taken in by this.

"Resist!" Jaya implored. "You cannot give in to wrath! Remember who you are!"

"Shut up, you stupid bitch!" Saalkan seethed spittle from his mouth. "I should have killed you when I had the chance."

The temptation to indulge Saalkan in an argument crossed her mind, but Jaya forced herself to remain focused on her friends.

"He is feeding off your anger!" Jaya clenched her fists, pleading with ardent fervency to be heard over the tumult. "Remember why you're here! It's not for vengeance, but for peace! Clear your hearts and minds of hostile thoughts, and that old fool's power over you will fade!"

Having gotten his breath under control and his strength slowly returning, Kazyah pushed himself up from the ground. He held his side in pain as he slowly limped forward, his other hand still firmly gripping the knife he pulled from Henley's back. He wiped the gore from the blade onto the leg of his pants and rotated his wrist in preparation. "This has to end," he said towards Saalkan, quietly at first, but his voice soon came back. "This has to end!"

"Agreed," Saalkan said, as if Kazyah were still sided with him and not approaching with violent intent. The Vulcan moved over to his multi-screen and sent out a hail.

"Veloz Prime to the Vindex. I know you're out there!"

While everyone else slowly began to come out of their crazed rancor, Saalkan waited patiently for a reply.

In a moment, the center viewscreen was filled with the image of the Vindex bridge. Commander ben-Avram was standing in front of the command chair with a burning eyes and slackjaw expression. Commander Himmel sat cross yet reserved next to him. He recognized the Vorta at the Science terminal and that ridiculous synthetic android standing nearby, but none of the others. No matter.

"Greetings, Commander," Saalkan said with the nasal insincerity stereotyped by generations of Vulcans.

"What do you want, Saalkan?" Akiva asked. "Have you come to beg for mercy? I swear to Ha'Shem you will have none."

Saalkan pursed his mouth for a moment, then succumbed to laughter. "No, nothing of the sort. Commander, I am contacting you in order to give you my terms of surrender." The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. "That is, the terms of your surrender."

Akiva frowned in confusion, then gave a half-smirk. "There must be comm interference. Why would I ever surrender to you?"

"Because I am the rocks of the eternal shore," Saalkan intoned. "Crash against me and be broken!"

"What?" Akiva shook his head in complete dismissal. "I don't know what insanity..."

"Father!" Biynah stumbled from her partially obstructed position behind the command chair and held up her hand. The flesh began to discolor before falling away in dusty flakes. "What is happening?" In a moment, the skin and flesh over her entire hand was gone, with her bioneural circuitry and polyalloy frame completely exposed.

"How are you doing this?!" Akiva screamed at the viewscreen.

Saalkan curled his lips in victory. "I was the one who designed her molecular motors, if you recall. Well, me and Lieutenant Johansson who is no longer among the living. I can assure you, the software virus will eat away at her flesh and bioneural net until she is no more."

"Lech tiz'day'en, you ben zonah miz'day'en!" Akiva's eyes burned hot with unshed tears. "You leave my daughter alone!"

"Gladly," Saalkan said. "Tell your people to stand down. When I am on board and safely at warp in the Bird of Prey you so thoughtfully sent to the surface, I will terminate the virus and your little android will be as right as rain."

It was unthinkable. To be forced to choose between what was right and what was priceless--Akiva shuddered. When he looked to Biynah, she clutched her bare limb against her body with great pain and trembling.

"It hurts, Father," she gasped. A tear shed from her eye. As it fell across her cheek, discoloration set in beneath it along with the first of flaking skin.

"If she dies, then you die," Akiva said to Saalkan. "May Ha'Shem strike me dead if it will not be so."

Saalkan laughed at the insolent commander. "You are running out of time, ben-Avram. If you wish to save her, you had better act now."

Akiva froze. He knew the right thing to do, but the cries of his daughter on her knees, writhing in the pain of her flesh revolting against her skeletal frame, he could not act. How could he damn her to this fate? Even worse, could he let such an evil man go free?

"Sir," Ensign Fadil said meekly, "I beg of you... do not do this."

"What?" Akiva was so filled with conflicting emotions that he had barely heard the man.

"It is not for us to decide the fate of others," the helmsman said, "nor even ourselves. We cannot control the tragedies and calamities of this life, but only our response to them. Inshallah your daughter will live, but do not think to lose your soul to save her."

Akiva began breathing so hard and fast that his vision went blurry. He steadied himself for a moment, then knelt down to look at Biynah.

"Do it, Commander!" Saalkan bellowed, but Akiva ignored him.

Biynah's face was nearly half missing. "I'm sorry, Father," she said.

"For what?" Akiva asked, completely shocked.

"For not being stronger."

"I am so proud of you, yediydah." Akiva bit back tears. "But I do what I must."

When he stood up, he spoke firmly to Saalkan. "My answer is no."

"Your daughter will die!" Saalkan screamed.

"Then she will die," Akiva said, "but that does not change my duty. You will never win, Saalkan."

"Then enjoy watching your daughter wither." Saalkan turned away. "Along with everyone else."

While everybody else recovering from the frenzy of Saalkan's wrath, Doqqu stood clear-headed and strong. And he was so sick with himself. He had fought for this Vulcan in hopes of redeeming the lost valor of his house, but upon hearing the screams of the little one through the viewscreen, and seeing the honor of the commander who sacrificed his daughter before conceding defeat... Doqqu realized he was on the wrong side.

"You have no honor!" The Klingon unslung his bat'leth and swung it at Saalkan in one motion. The blade's edge connected with Saalkan at the wrist and severed his hand. The Stone of Gol fell to the ground and cracked.

"You damned fool!" Saalkan tucked his stubbed arm against his body, but he nonetheless disarmed Doqqu with a single hand. "Give Fek'lhr my regards," he said as he crushed the Klingon's throat and ripped out his windpipe.

Doqqu fell to his knees, clutching his neck while life-blood drained out of him. When he fell to one side, never to move again, his mouth was spread in a smile.

With his servant dead at his feet, Saalkan heaved himself back into focus. His center was so far away from him that he struggled to maintain his composure. But he regained it. He always did. When he turned to face the crowd of antagonists who persisted in obstructing his path to ascension, he reached within the folds of his robes for his relics and artefacts.

He came up empty.

"Ben-Avram to ground team," Akiva said through the view screen. "Attack at will."

"With pleasure, Commander," Kaz shouted, hauling himself up the steps to where Saalkan was standing. Behind him, the rest of the crew was quickly closing the distance, all bent on taking a piece of the man who ruined them.

Nealey stepped out of the corner armed to the teeth - in her right hand were a pair of nunchucks with her left fist clenched ready to punch any potential attackers. She crept slowly towards Saalkan and decided to hide behind one of the lab benches and strike when he least suspected it - or when his opponents were unable to continue to attack him.

Claudia approached Saalkan and gave him one of her trademark left hooks straight under the chin. She saw Martha engaging in close quarters combat with one of the few remaining guards - and the Tactical Officer was clearly dealing the Rigelian man a lot of damage with her ferocious punches.

"Oh please die...you're keeping me away from your esteemed Director" Martha snarled.

Martha managed to knock the man unconscious with a swift right hook under the chin sending him flying into the wall behind him. She then turned and trained her smaller phaser straight at Saalkan - although the man was moving far too quickly for her to get a shot away without risking hitting any of her colleagues.

Saalkan deflected Claudia's combo punches with his good arm, then stepped inside her guard and tripped her with his instep. He thumped on her head with the elbow of his wounded arm on her way down.

=/\="Ainscow to Vindex...lock quantum torpedoes onto this facility. Stand by for my command...."=/\= Claudia ordered.

=/\="Is that necessary, Captain?"=/\= Akiva asked.

Just before she collapsed to the floor as the result of her injury sustained in combat with the man Claudia confirmed that she was prepared for that to happen if those in the lab could not subdue Saalkan - and if it meant saving the Vindex and those aboard it from any more harm.

Claudia replied. =/\="If it kills him...then yes"=/\=

Green blood was flung everywhere. Saalkan snarled like a beast in his decreasingly slower defensive measures.

Finally arriving, Storr nodded to Saalkan in equal wordless part of respect and despisal. He did not underestimate the Vulcan's incredible telepathic powers but he also knew that the narcissist was overwhelmed. He also was about to be airborne.

In his prime, the Vulcan known as Saalkan would have held his own against the Afrikaaner, yet in this time and place, it was not to be. He acknowledged this as he careened through the air toward a distant workbench away from the central lab area.

As she watched Saalkan approached Nealey emerged from her hiding place - and struck the Vulcan with her nunchucks immediately followed by a fierce mat wiang klap [spinning backfist]. Quickly moving back out of the way she stood in an attack stance whilst keeping her distance from the deranged Vulcan.

"Don't you dare hurt my mother you son of a bitch...because that's what happens to people who hurt Claudia Ainscow in front of me. Now bow to your opponent...because you're going to fight me...to the death" Nealey said.

Nealey raised her nunchucks again and spun them round whilst raising her left arm for her next move. This was going to be her toughest match yet - but one she felt her esteemed and highly respected tutor had well prepared her for at the San Francisco dojo in the four years she was at The Academy.

"You are nothing but an insect," Saalkan said, gasping through bloody spittle. "Not even fit for the perverse pleasure of a child-lover, isn't that right? The one who took everything from you couldn't even remember your name when confronted. And neither will I."

Saalkan waited until his poisonous words had maximum effect, then struck out through Nealey's guard and chain punched her in the face with his single fist, following her to the floor in a vicious ground-and-pound.

Martha watched as the young Operations officer engaged the crazed Vulcan in a deadly martial arts duel. She wanted to help - but the best way of doing that right now would be to stay out of the way and keep the focus of the remaining guards away from Nealey - but doing that or saving the young officer was a choice she had to make after seeing Saalkan prepare to strike the final blow to end her.

Martha ran up to Saalkan and grabbed him off Nealey - flinging him into the nearest lab bench and smashing him in the face with a portable microscope before kneeing the Vulcan right where it hurts - hoping to inflict enough pain and buy Nealey some time to get her up off the floor to continue their duel.

"Pick on someone your own size you sick and deluded fucking bastard" Martha said.

Offering a hand to the fallen Nealey who now looked ready to explode she grabbed her nunchucks and gestured for Martha to stand back but be prepared to step in again if necessary.

"Are you going to be alright Miss Snowdon?" Martha asked.

Nealey nodded. "Yeah...I'll be fine. Come on Saalkan...get up and fight me"

Staring down at the man she glared at him with all the hatred she could muster for bringing back the memories of her childhood which she had tried so hard to suppress - until Saalkan goaded her about them and now made her lose control of herself.

"Get up....get up...GET UP!!!!" Nealey screamed.

Saalkan felt his discarded Rod of Kel beneath his hand and fumbled it between his numbing fingers.
"As you wish!"
A rush of power flowed through his limbs, through which he rocketed from the floor to an upright position which carried him to his feet. He stumbled a bit, but held his balance. The Rod of Kel began to burn his hand, though Saalkan seemed to be unaware of it smoldering his flesh as he cauterized the stub of his other arm.
"I cannot be denied," he said through gritted teeth. "Death will never hold me. I am its master!"

Nealey tossed her nunchucks over to Martha and decided to do it the old fashioned way. She threw a vicious volley of mat soi daos [uppercuts] followed by a number of evasive blocks to counter her opponent's moves. Using all the strength she had left in her she bludgeoned the man to his knees with a mix of mat yaeps [jabs] and mat wiang sans [hooks]. The damage was done with a ferocious kradot chok [superman punch] - after which Martha came over to hold her back from dealing the clearly defeated man any more damage.

"You waste of fucking space. That's what you get for messing with me and what you did to the crew of that ship" Nealey spat.

As Saalkan fell to his knees, paralyzed, he turned to Kazyah. "Do not forget my gift to you, my son. I will never forsake you. Remember."
The Rod of Kel rolled from his still hand to Kazyah's feet.

With a struggle, Kaz bent to one knee and picked the instrument up. This rod was completely different from the one Saalkan had given him earlier. That one was beautiful and elegant, but this one in his hand was gnarled and sharp. He hated the man that lay in front of him, but at the same time, had to thank him for the gift.

He closed his hand around the rod and a bright light flashed, knocking Kaz to the floor as his body was surrounded in a deep red glow. After a few moments, the shine dulled until it was gone and the Rod of Kel was nowhere to be found.

"I will not forget this," Saalkan whispered in his last throes. "None of you. I claim your lives. When the shadow of death comes to claim you, it will bear... my... f-... face..." His quivering lips were stilled at last.

Akiva, along with the rest of the Vindex bridge crew, stood aghast at everything they had just witnessed.
"Lehitra-ot to a certain hatichat harah," Akiva said.

The Hebron officer cast a somber look around at the beleagured crew under his command. He offered a proud and weary smile. "Well done, everyone. Stand down red alert."

He looked back to the screen which showed Claudia on the distant side of the room.

"Captain... your orders?"

"Beam us off this rock. Martha...go back to the Bird of Prey with the Marines and take it back into orbit. We'll take it to Deep Space 9 for Starfleet to do what they must with it" Claudia replied.

Looking around the room she then looked back up at the screen.

"Energise."

 

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