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M3: Follow The Broken Trail

The crew of the Tokyo finds themselves breaking the rules as they walk a path that shouldn't be walked.

1) The Three Ghosts Are Coming

Data Corrupt
Unknown

Flashes of green light, a flash of memory being carried into the room. Screams so loud. Feeling the coldness and facing upwards. Agony, pain that resulted in screaming. Unable to move, unable to respond to this pain, this extreme pain. Another flash of memory, seeing mechanical drones working on something, fluid spat onto the sight of vision. A sight that changed color to dark red. More screaming, wanting to move but unable to respond. Wanting to escape, but held firmly in place. Until….total blackness. 

Sitting up as Towalr looked confused, slowly around. He was sitting in the mess hall of the USS Yale, an old Nebula-Class vessel. He tried to understand what was happening. Not only that, but he swore he was somewhere else. He knew that he had to be somewhere else. The Yale was an old assignment from when Towalr was still an Ensign as their Operation Officer. 

“Drooling again, Ensign?” 

A voice came from behind him, and Towalr instantly reacted by turning to it. Seeing Lieutenant Stan Harrison, his Chief on the Yale. “Lieutenant Harrison…” 

Stan smiled in his direction and sat down at the table. “Shh, I won’t tell anyone you were drooling on the mess table” He sat down and looked around. “You have been working nonstop on those systems. Engineering is grateful for your input on that. Truly” 

Maybe what he dreamed was all just a dream? But the dream was so vivid, so real. Why could he not puzzle the pieces together?  He looked at Stan, who looked pleased at him. Ah, yes, the system upgrade of the Yale engines was a complete nightmare, as Captain Ch’evhisroq wanted to get it done while on the road. An unreasonable request, for sure. “Right, yes…I am quite overworked by that assignment. But the goal is the same, the efficiency of the Yale is of our utmost importance.”

“There you go again; with that kind of attitude and glorification, you will be a First Officer in no time,” Stan smirked and looked out of the window of the mess hall.

But I am…” He whispered, unknowingly, to himself. He stared blankly into the void, feeling memories flash by of him being a First Officer, but at the same time being suppressed. “I will be a great First Officer, mark words!” Towalr said with much confidence. But at the end of his sentence, he blinked, feeling Deja Vu. 

Stan smirks a bit and nods. “I know you will, champ. But remember not to forget the most important lesson in this all. Your career just started, and showing your skills is all fun and good for it, but you have to realize that without your colleagues, you are nothing. Even if you are at the top, then it becomes very lonely” Stan looked back at Towalr. After a few seconds, he nods and stands up. “Get some rest, and I will see you in the next shift.” 

Seeing Stan leave and give Towalr a pad on his shoulder as he passes him by. Towalr narrowed his eyes and looked briefly over his shoulder, seeing his old Chief leave the mess hall. What was going on? He gets up and rubs his template as he leaves the mess hall. Maybe he needed some sleep; maybe the long hours in that system lab were driving him insane. 

Only briefly, later on, he entered his well-organized quarters. It was a privilege that an Ensign could dream of to get their own room, but the Nebula was spacious, so he didn’t need to share his room with anyone else. He let his hand glide over the leather chair. “Just as I remember….what is going on here? I feel like this is all so wrong but so right also.” Towalr’s head felt it was spinning around with all these thoughts. 

“Because everything you see, hear, feel, and taste is real, or so your mind clarifies it as such.” Another voice came from the other side of the room. 

Towalr looked in that direction, seeing a female figure sitting there, a figure he knew. He narrows his eyes as he crosses his arms. “Captain….Yoon-Jung?” The name just popped up in his mind. “What….what are you doing in my room?” He saw her holding a cup of tea while taking a sip.

“People say there is nothing more calming than taking a sip of a cup of tea to get those nerves untangled. But you see, they never had a real cup of tea; it’s like a shot of adrenaline straight to your heart to make you realize everything you see and need to do.” Ko lowered her cup and looked at him. 

There were many questions rushing through his head, but how Ko was talking to him was strange and alien to him. He rubbed his template and shrugged, trying to remember. “Where am I? What is going on?” 

Ko smiled at him. “Now that is at least a Latinum bar worth answering, is it not?” She placed the cup on her side, “You will have to figure this journey on your own. Because I can only give guidance on what you want to understand. If you wish to understand, go to bed, Towalr.” 

He looked at his side and saw his bedroom; he felt the urge to go there, and Towalr felt tired suddenly. He looked back at the chair, seeing it was empty. It alarmed him, and he looked around again, only to find out that he was there by himself. “What is going on…” Towalr leaned on the leather chair, feeling weak, as he moved to his bedroom and fell onto his bed. He felt exhausted and turned around, facing the sealing, only to get a flash of a memory of being on a cold table facing mechanical drones above him. In the blink of his eyes, it was gone again.

“Sleep, Commander, you’re in for a longer journey. The end result is up to you. The ghosts of past, present, and yet-to-come will visit you. Face them, and salvation is at your fingertips,” Ko’s voice echoed in the room as Towalr’s eyelid felt heavier and forcefully closed. 

2) Ghost of the Past

Data Corrupt
Unknown

The moment Towalr closed his eyes, he opened it again as if time disappeared, and so did his surroundings as he found himself on the ground. He gets off the ground, seeing that he is now standing in the training room. “What is going on….I know this place,” Towalr mutters to himself as he shrugs. A voice appeared from his side that made him look toward a woman leaning against the wall with her arms crossed and a smirk on her face.

“Of course you do. It is your time on the USS Trebuchet, you know that old dusty Steamrunner-class you hated to so much” She looked a bit around in the training room. “But it has its charms, in my opinion.” 

“Yozria….what are you doing here?” 

She pushed herself from the wall with her shoe and walked closely to him. “I am the Ghost of the Past; you were warned of my arrival.” A grimace appears on her face. “You are to face the things that formed you and got you where you are now.”

“What are you talking about? What am I to see here…” Towalr couldn't finish his sentence as he turned his sight to the side, hearing a group of young people entering the room. Lieutenant Towalr follows, “Oh… that is me.” He looked puzzled back at Yozria. “How is that possible….” 

“Just watch, see why I brought you here, Commander,” Yozria replied, still looking at the group. 

Lieutenant Towalr clapped his hands. “Gather around. We are about to start this training; please pay attention as your efficiency is needed in this.” He observed the people in the room. “Ensign Jessy, if you have something to share, then please share it with the group.” 

The woman snapped to attention. “No, sir, I was just sharing my pure excitement for this training, sir.” Some people laughed silently at that reaction. 

A hum came from Lieutenant Towalr as he rolled his eyes. “Right, the training for today will be the dominion combat operations. The Dominion War is far away, and I hope none of you will have the pleasure to face that. It is always good to be prepared for such an encounter.” He looked at his side, seeing a man raise his hand. “What, Rivok?” 

The Trill shrugged a bit. “Sir, the Engineering team has concluded that there are malfunctions going on with the holodeck. They have not cleared this deck to be free for usage” 

“Duly noted, but I am the senior officer here; let us get started,” Lieutenant smirked at Rivok as he shook his head in disapproval. “Computer start combat-dom-14, start from the beginning” The holodeck changed in a new surrounding 

The people started their training program as Commander Towalr shrugged, “I remember this clearly as if it was yesterday. There was an issue with the computer system, and it overrode the safety protocols. We had critical wounded and a death.” He looked at Rivok. “He didn't make it out.” He felt a growing guilt in himself.

“Not only that, your convincing argument got you in a favorable position with the command team. They fired the ship's chief engineering officer because you were not informed. You even took credit for ….heroic acts that you actually never did.” Yozria looked a bit disapproving at him. “But I guess you forgot that minor detail, right? There is more for you to see.” 

Towalr shook his head. “No, please, I don't want to see anything. I know what happened here. I don't need to see more.” 

“Heh, yeah, right, you think you have a choice.” Yozria snapped her fingers as the area changed around them into the next area. Planetary, it was looking over a valley that had a city down below. 

Looking around, Towalr shrugged, recognizing the area immediately. “Please get me out of here….” 

Yozria shook her head as she pointed at the open area where two people appeared. 

Lieutenant Towalr appeared right behind a female Betazoid with pips indicating the rank of lieutenant commander. “Come on, Towalr, the view is beautiful,” She stated with a big smile on his face. She leaned on the edge and looked downwards, “Look at that…”

“Please, Commander, be careful,” Lieutenant Towalr stated, looking concerned at her. 

“Lieutenant Commander Venan Utoiri, the First Officer of the USS Tokyo. I greatly respected her. She was a walking source of knowledge and bravery. She was…” Commander Towalr shrugged at finishing the sentence.

“…the person that rejected you here your feelings for her.” Yozria finished his sentence and looked at him. “Do you know why I am showing you this?” She points a finger up. “It is an important turning point of whom you later become.” Yozria smiled as she looked at the two standing at the edge.

Venan shook her head. “I am sorry, Towalr. I am thankful for your expression of feelings for me. But I am unable to return your feelings.” Venan shrugged a bit. “My heart belongs to someone else that I greatly respect, and I would follow in a heartbeat.” 

“Captain Trazin Kicag,” Commander Towalr shrugged. “A man that served on the Tokyo as a Chief Operation Officer back then. He got promoted to Commander and his own command later on, Commander Utoiri did what she said. She followed him and became the First Officer of Kicaq that she loved and admired so much.” Towalr shrugged and looked at Yoziria. “Are you done?” 

The area changed again back to the bedroom on the Tokyo when Yozria turned around. “At the second alarm, the next insight of your life is shown. Be ready, Commander" Yozria smiled as she pushed him onto the bed.

He wanted to resist, he wanted to talk more, emotions were rushing through him. But his body felt heavy again, exhausted again. He did his best to resist, but the power of sleepiness was too much. His eyelids closed again as the next journey would soon start for him. Towalr could hear the second alarm going off but kept his eyes closed. 

3) Ghost of the Present

Data Corrupt
Unknown

The moment that Towalr hit and closed his bed, he swung up, and when he opened his eyes, he saw he was standing in an unknown Federation starbase. The area was decorated with stars and shaped moons. Towalr recognized it and muttered to himself, “Festival of the Moon…” A festival that was known among the Risians to be celebrated every year around June.

“They tend to decorate anywhere they can when the time comes for a festival. There is only so much Starfleet would allow, so the promenade is transformed once a year to this festival look where food is shared, where people dance, and games played,” Tamaz spoke, standing next to Towalr. “I just love it. It is the meaning of life to share and be together with your loved ones. Your friends and family.” 

Towalr narrowed his eyes as he looked at his side, then back at the Risian people presenting gifts to bystanders that passed them. “Of all the people, why are you … the Ghost of the Present?” He growls a bit in annoyance to find out that Tamaz is his next ghost haunting him.

He grinned at the comment as he looked at the bystanders smiling when receiving the gifts. “Because I am the more energetic one of the three. Boy, if you meet that last one, you will be wishing for me every second,” Tamaz added with a hum. He looked around. “You never went to a festival, a party, or a ceremony. Not even your own.” 

“Because they are not efficient of your time filling, operating a ship or base is not something to meddle with useless deeds like parties,” Towalr pointed out as he rolled his eyes, hearing a group of Risians starting the music. “Oh great, they started to sing….” 

Tamaz slide to his front and with his a twist he was in a black suit with a top hit and smiled toward Towalr “Come on everybody, let’s have some fun, let’s hit the dance floor and feel the grace of the moon!” A few Risians jumped next to him as they started to dance in rhythm with that of Tamaz. “Forget about your worries, leave ’em behind, today the day to unwind!” 

“Oh shit….” Towalr cusses as he sees Risians and now also others joining in the surrounding dance. Everywhere he looked, there were cheerful people. “I think …by far you are being the worst of all ghost….”

He appeared next to Towalr with a smile on his face “Party is good for you, good to relax. Good to receive friends, that’s a fact.” He dances around him. “Leave your troubles at the door; we’re going to have a party like never befoooooore.” Tamaz raised his hands in the air, singing his lungs out. He jumped onto a table with two other dancers following him. “The music is pumping, the energy is high! Let’s dance together and reach the sky.” Tamaz reaches out for the sky. 

“I would rather not dance. I have weak knees, and I really don’t understand why you are trying to teach me here. I learned something from your colleague?” Towalr shrugged a bit, seeing everyone dance to the beat. 

Tamaz jumped onto the ground in front of Towalr. “At this moment, all your worries are to fade away.” He grabbed his hands and tried to make Towalr dance. “We’re united; let’s seize the day.” He continued to sing, “Party is good for you, good to relax. Good to receive friends, that’s a fact. Leave your troubles at the door; we’ll have a party like never befoooooore.”

He was dragged into the dancing as Towalr tried to refuse it, but his own body started to move to the rhythm of the sound. “Oh boy…I have no control over my body anymore…what is happening?” Towalr slowly started to panic.

Letting go of Towalr, Tamaz claps together with the rest, seeing how Towalr dances. “Raise your glasses. Let’s make a toast!” Many of the guests raise their glasses while dancing on the spot. “To the memories we cherish so most. With laughter and joy, we create a night we never forget!” Tamaz dances around Towalr, who has some loose feet and is also in a panic-stricken state on his face.

Stopping in front of Towalr, Tamaz smiled at him as he gently pushed to him. “Sleep well, enjoy the ride of the Ghost yet-to-come.” He winked as Towalr fell onto the ground, getting all black around him as his body stopped dancing. 

4) The Ghost of Yet-To-Be

Data Corrupt
Unknown

The singing stopped, the dancing people were gone, it was pitch black and silent. Towalr looked around, but wherever he was looking, nothing was there to begin with. It was like he was all alone. “Ghost, or whatever you are! Show yourself! Get me out of this torment! SHOW YOURSELF!” he yelled as Towalr leaned on his hands, looking down to the floor. 

“Oh, look at you now…pity, sad sack of regret.” 

Towalr looked sideways to the direction of the voice to see the next torment sitting on the chair looking at him. “Captain Takato….why of all the people it has to be you….” 

“Hey, I don't pick it. You do,” Ryoko replied, leaning on the chair as she held an old knife and balanced it on her hand. “I am here to show you of yet-to-be.” She pushed the knife up from her palm and grabbed the lower part of it. “Are you ready?”

He slowly stands up from the floor with all the willpower he has left in him. “Are you the Ghost of Yet-To-Be?”

Swinging a bit playful with her knife in his direction and shaking her head, “I just stated that I would show you what yet-to-be is coming. So that does make me that ghost, does it not?” Ryoko smirks a bit. “And here I thought you were the bright one.” 

“Stop playing around, show me the horrors of what has to come, so we can get this over with” Towalr felt tormented with everything that was shown to him. Were these ghost playing with him, was this a fiction of his own mind? What was happening? Is this the effect of what happened on the last mission?

Ryoko stands up. “But dear old Towalr, do understand it is up to you. Now let me show you the path that has carved the way to your … future." Ryoko turns around as a gust of wind blows hard into the face of Towalr as he gets a good grip on the ground. The wind forced him to close his eyes, and as it suddenly stopped, he dropped to the floor. 

Mechanical sounds, warm air filling his area, footsteps but no voices. Towalr opens his eyes, seeing the green glow and the metal flooring. He looked up, seeing to his own horror that he was in a Borg ship of some kind. His eyes stopped at Ryoko, who was poking a drone at its cheek. “Why did you bring me here? Why ghost are you showing this torment that is even worse than the other showed” 

Ryoko blinked and looked in his direction. “What I am showing is the result of your failure. You ran and were captured by the Borg. Your fellow team members had to endure the same fate. One even died” Ryoko looked back at the drone, poking it one more, and then backed away.

Flashes of memories pass him by, running away from his team, getting cornered, screaming for help, feeling the cold nano probing. Towalr grabbed his head as if he had a major headache. “Please, this can't be true! I am a Starfleet Officer, I am the First Officer. There is greatness in store for me!” He looked frustrated at Ryoko, who looked back at him blankly.

“So the lesson you had to learn from my predecessors has not come through you yet? Well, you have successfully subscribed to the Borg Collective. Be proud. You are one of them now; you shall be one of them, and this will not change. You must carry the guilt and pain of knowing you brought Sujian Deem and Behrad Vahdat to this doom forever. Well, forever is a hefty word….the Borg Collective uses you until your function ceases to exist, and you will be torn apart and discarded as the trash you are.” Ryoko looked at the panel that showed the ship observing a new target to add to their collective.

“This …this can't be! I have learned from my mistakes…I have learned to to…” Towalr recalls what the other ghost showed him “To take responsibility, to let go and move on. I want to live my life to the fullest without being bound by my career achievements. I need my friends…if I still have any” Towalr shrugged. “Please give me a chance.” 

Ryoko saw the ship getting captured and dragged in, she looked back at him playing with the knife in her hand. She narrowed her eyes and sighed. “There is a way, but only you can do it...” She walked to him and kneeled before him. “Are you ready to give life one more shot and let fate be in the hands of those you looked down on? Let them choose if you are worthy or not. What would you say?"

“I….I would say…..Help me…no Help us and retrieve us from this horror fate that is not yet sealed. Give us a chance to redeem ourselves. Please, I beg of you….come back." Towalr collapsed to the ground.

Ryoko smiled and looked at the screen. “Good, hope she hears you.” As Ryoko disappears and it starts to zoom out of the inner core, the outer framework shows the incomplete Borg Sphere. A sudden burst of energy shoots out a signal. Traveling at light speed, hitting a foreign satellite, going to the next and the next as it this the final satellite that views Markonian Outpost. One final burst coursed at the station and hit a docked ship. The USS Tokyo, going through its communication systems, made its way to the captain's Quarters, which were pitch black. 

Help me…no Help us and retrieve us from this horror fate that is not yet sealed. Give us a chance to redeem ourselves. Please, I beg of you….come back.

A woman sits up suddenly from her bed as sweat runs down her face. She catches her breath as if she had run a marathon for hours. “Towalr…” she whispers to herself as her eyes look outside. “No way…”

5) Deception of Reality

USS Tokyo - Sickbay
June 2401

“So this started less then a few hours ago?” Viamame looked puzzled at her tricorder, trying to make sense of the data that was showing. 

“Yes, I can say it again repeatedly; I heard Towalr's voice calling out for help,” Ko tried to defend her statement of what she had heard. She sat on the biobed and shrugged at the disbelief of her doctor. “I am not going crazy!” 

Shaking her head, “I am not saying you are crazy, though your statement and medical complaint are far-fetched.” Viamame narrowed her eyes a bit, trying to be as diplomatic as possible about the given case. “It might be a traumatic experience for you that you are reliving; maybe a counseling session would do you good?” 

Looking at Viamame, “That is your way of being nice to say I am going crazy, doctor. Check my body. Something feels off, something feels….real.” Ko couldn't put a finger on it; it was like Towalr had given his plead by whispering in her ear. That by itself is weird and uncomfortable on various levels. “Well?” 

“The thing about data is that it can be tricky to read….” Viamame spoke, walking to the wall panel and putting up the data as it showed Ko's head and the parameters of what she had scanned. “As you can see, everything looks okay.” She shrugged at her own explanation. “But…” She tapped on a certain brain area, “The data coming from here is…..incomplete.” 

Ko blinked at that. “Incomplete?” She jumped off the bed and approached Viamame's side, looking at the data. “What is that supposed to mean?” 

Crossing her arms and looking with a thinking expression on her face, “I honestly don't know….I have never seen this. It is like … something is blocking my scans?” She looked a bit puzzled, and then a moment of realization came. “Wait a second.” She grabbed the tricorder again and configured it again.

“Care to enlighten me?” Ko blinked, looking at what her doctor was doing. Now scanning her head again, “We already did that…..why are there dots on the screen” She points at the panel showing now red dots close to the incomplete area" 

Lowering her tricorder as she shrugged, “After Frontier Day, they needed to find a way to …update the medical process of removal of nanos in the junior officer's blood. Scans had a difficult time detecting them, and thus, they made it through regular checkups.” Viamame exhaled a deep breath. “There are still some nanobots in your blood, Captain,” She concluded. “The interesting part in this is that the area that got incomplete data….is your memory" 

Ko shrugged at that revelation. “Crap….okay, what does that mean, and can they be removed?” 

“It can be removed; no problem with that. It's something I overlooked when extracting it out of you last time we were dealing with the Borg. The issue, however, is that the voice you had when you were sleeping might potentially be ….Towalr really asking for help?” Viamame created a theory that she had no idea how it would further impact them.

Tapping her combadge “Ko to bridge.” 

Bridge here,” Tamaz's voice came over the communicator. 

“Have there been any changes, weirdness, or communication happening in the last few hours?” Ko asked, looking at Viamame.

Hmm, you need to be a bit more specific, Captain; we had a ton of communication going on for the last couple of hours. Weirdness, not that I know of, aside from Buldaig humming” 

Ko shrugged at the comment. He was right in that regard. There had been a lot of communication lately due to everything that was happening. “Has there been … any communication received through our system that is seen as a ….” She thought for a second. “Intrusion?” 

You are not giving me much to work with…let me check.” For a few seconds, it was quiet. “Strange, there has been no intrusion, but there has been a system glitch? It detected something coming from space but could not pinpoint its origin. It was marked as an incomplete message. Does that help?” 

“Yes, it does, Ko out.” Taking a deep breath, letting sink in the potential gravity of this sudden change. “Is it because I had the Borg nano in my blood that I was able to … receive this?” Ko looked at Viamame.

“Potentially, but I can't conclude that for certain," Viamame pointed out the medical science behind it “Because we don't know enough from Borg technology to begin understanding their vast complex communication methods.” Viamame leans on the biobed. “But theoretically, you could have received a message from the assimilated Towalr. The question is…how the hell did he manage to do that while being connected to the Borg Collective?” 

Rubbing her template, feeling a headache coming, “One question at a time, can you get these nano out of me?” Ko requested.

She pushed herself from the biobed and grabbed a nearby medical scanner. “Sure, I should be able to extract them now…but what will you do? Starfleet needs to be informed about this?” 

Shrugging at that last comment, Ko let the doctor do her job. “I need some time to think about this, or better say, how to formulate it.” Ko was now being very diplomatic about her words. She knew that this news was more complex than she hated to admit. Starfleet would deny any mission to Borg space, and Captain Takato would remind her firmly that the souls of give or take 200 people were not worth saving three people whose status was unknown. 

“I still have to deal with replacements for the crew we lost to fill in the gaps….let me focus on that first so we got a running ship.” She dodged the question that would follow from Viamame, who was already looking to extract more information from her. 

“Right.” Viamame narrowed her eyes, looking briefly at her Captain, then back at the medical equipment to see its progress. “I need some time…to finish this”

6) Eaten By Guilt

USS Tokyo - Personal Quarters
June 2401

Tapping her finger on the side of her chair, she lay back in her chair while leaning on her other hand, looking at the computer screen. It had been a few weeks since she had lost her brother to the Borg in that faithful mission. Yozria had gone through a rollercoaster of emotions that really no one could help her with. Yes, she had her arguments with Sujian. Yes, she had her fights with him. But in the end, it was her brother, the person who had protected her from the demons in the shadows, who was there for her to consult during difficult times. But now that emptiness was filled by a large void of nothing that no one could replace. 

Time had passed so quickly for her that she attended the ship’s funeral, and she accepted the promotion to Lieutenant Commander for her bravery during the mission. Yozria even accepted the offer of becoming the new First Officer at the Tokyo. But one thing she had been keen on avoiding was facing her family, who had to bear the news by receiving it from some random Starfleet official. Of course, Yozria could not blame the rando for it. He or she was just doing their job. But she felt it was her duty to tell her father about it. 

Taking a deep breath as she slowly exhaled, “Computer connected me to Trill, to the following address.” She typed in the address and sat back. “Connecting now, please stand by,” an automatic reply returned to her. Yozria didn’t react and waited for someone to pick up. But deep inside, she hoped that no one would pick up.

A few beeps went on, and the moment Yozria wanted to stop the call, it changed, seeing an old male with short gray hair looking at the screen. “Deem residence, who am I speaking to…” the man’s eyes were scanning the screen with his white pupils. The old man is blind and couldn’t identify who was on the phone to him. He seemed rather calm and yet reserved. 

Taking a second to recollect herself, it had been a while since she saw her old man. “It’s Yozria….dad,” She spoke with a shrug while not breaking eye contact with the old man. 

The man sat in disbelief back in his chair as his facial expression changed to sadness. Eventually, he nodded to himself. “Yozria….it has been quite some time,” He managed to get out as he tried to control his emotions. “How have you…been all this time?” 

A normal person wouldn’t see harm in the question, but Yozria knew it was a snare for calling so late after everything that had happened. “It has, but I can’t say that I would apologize for my lateness. I needed time for what had happened, and I still have problems with it.” Yozria shrugged, trying to formulate the words in her head. “But I feel obligated to call you about Sujian.”

“I already received the notice of that gentleman from Starfleet,” the man spoke in grief. “So I do not seek any repeats of such.” He looked away from the screen as the man showed frustration. “I needed you before that gentleman came, Yozria. Not a few weeks after, do you enjoy seeing your father bleed again from his heart?”

“That is not fair, Dad.” Yozria raised her hand briefly and shrugged. “You know damn well that he was everything to me…..I required time to grieve, and hearing you repeat over and over that we shouldn’t have joined Starfleet because this might happen doesn’t help,” She pointed out in a shaking and emotional voice.

The man hums a bit in discontent as he looks back with his white pupils at the screen. “Then do not feel obligated to call me and state the obvious, Yozria. He is gone, and nothing can change that.” 

She felt a tear roll over her cheek as Yozria tapped the side of the chair, trying to recollect herself. “I am calling you to tell you how he fell. Information that a Starfleet official shall not share, but it is no public secret either.” Yozria shrugged, knowing the protocol too well. “Sujian volunteered for an away mission to an enemy vessel that could potentially threaten the safety and security of the Federation. The plan to place insurance had failed, and Sujian and four other members had lost their lives, and we barely made it out ourselves.” 

The man stayed quiet for a moment until he took a deep breath and nodded. “He went down as a Starfleet hero but left his family behind in pieces. Thank you for the information, Yozria. Contact me when you have come to your senses and place that badge down for good.” The man pressed a button as the communication broke off, and the screen went black.

Yozria sat back in her chair as the tears rolled down her cheeks. “But you know that Sujian would never accept it and I would give up.” She let her head hang backward for a moment, letting the emotions get the better of her.

7) Time is Ticking

USS Tokyo - Various Locations
June 2401

Engineering

“So I am very honored to take over Commander Deem’s position even under these rough situations,” Cezs spoke in high spirits. The tellarite was quite proud of the fact that she made the step-up to become a Chief Engineer of Tokyo. She looked at Ko with a neutral expression.

Having her arms crossed over each other, Ko couldn’t see if Cezs was truly happy about the new appointment, the facial expressions of a tellarite she knew were either angry, a little angry, or neutral. Thought the day she would see a tellarite smile would freak her out. “Glad to hear that, Lieutenant; I hope you will enjoy it as long as you serve our wonderful ship. Talented people like yourself are hard to catch, after all.”

“Now, now, Captain, flattering will not get you far with me; I am a hardworking woman, and my achievements speak chapters.” Cezs pauses for a second. “But…I do appreciate the gesture” Giving a brief nod to her Captain.

Ko would have a hard time complimenting or even reading these people. “Right, let’s get to work. What is the status of the Tokyo?” She wanted to know her ship’s condition after all, besides congratulating her new chief engineer. 

Giving a firm nod to the statement of returning to work, she turned to the engineer, placing her hands at each side. “She is purring like a kitten, as Commander Deem would say. There are some minor issues with the plasma folds on deck five. No worries, I have an engineering team going at it right away.” Cezs was not fooling around, and her new appointment would not be wasted on her watch.

“Good; anything else I should know regarding the ship? Why is it not able to travel on warp just yet?” Ko looked a bit puzzled at Cezs.

Scratching behind her ear, “Well, there is that….” Cezs shrugged and honestly hoped that the question didn’t pop up. “With the events that had happened to the ship recently, we discovered we pulled too much on her engines. So we are doing a bypass right now to the left nacelle. It will take some time to get her in line with specifications.” Cezs was not proud of it, but this was something Yozria was also working on. 

Letting out a sigh of light frustration, “How much time before we can jump again?” Ko asked directly.

“Give or take eight hours if we stay within the safety protocols. If you want it faster, it can be done in five hours, but the risk will rise, and potential plasma burns are present,” Cezs explained carefully. 

Dealing with Ibrix was the last thing Ko wanted to do right now. She gave a soft nod toward Cezs and turned around, leaving the engineering. “Get it done, Chief. I want this ship back on course. We also got our deadlines to meet,” Ko spoke while leaving.

Walking into the hallway, Cezs followed her Captain. “I will do my utmost best to get the ship back in shape that you remember her to be.” She felt like a person fresh out of the academy that needed to prove her skills to her superior officer. 

“Chill, Lieutenant,” Ko stopped and turned to her. “You begin to sound like a Ferengi trying to sell something. Focus on the job at hand, and we will be good to go.” She moved to resume her walk as she felt intense pressure on her head, forcing her to her knee. At the same time, her surroundings change rapidly, as if she gets warped into a different area. 

She was breathing, her eyes were hurting, and she had an instant headache as she had one hand leaning on her forehead. When her blurry vision cleared up, she saw the green glow; she could feel the warmth in her face as sweat dripped down her head. Time slowed down as she saw, to her own horror, Borg drones right in front of her, working on their given task. Then one turned, and it was a Towalr but with Borg implants. Towalr eyes meet that of Ko, and with a blink, it is gone. 

Ko found herself leaning against the wall on ground level, breathing heavily. “CAPTAIN! CAPTAIN, CAN YOU HEAR ME!” The voice of Cezs screamed as the tellarite checked Ko’s pulse. “Emergency medical transportation, Captain Yoon-Jung needs help!” Without a notice, Ko felt she was transported away and blackout.

Sickbay

Opening her eyes, Ko found herself on a biobed and grabbed to her head with the headache that pierced her. “Fuck….” She mutters in pain and tries to breathe slowly. Then she felt a small pinch in her neck and looked at her side, seeing Viamame putting a medical injector in her neck.

“That will help with the pain,” Viamame spoke with a  shrug. “What happened?” 

Laying her head back on the pillow, Ko shrugged. “I was….seeing a hallway…..the same as on the Borg Sphere.” It sounded like madness, but it was the second time this happened to her.

Letting out a deep breath as Viamame checked Ko’s vitals, “Your brain activity has been all over the place. But it has been calming down for the recent few minutes.” She was showing concern over the well-being of her Captain “I had Yozria check on you every hour now.” 

“How long have I been out?” Ko asked, surprised at the statement.

“About four to five hours now, you gave our new Chief Engineer almost a heart attack. She felt somewhat responsible for this. I talked her out of that silly idea, as she couldn’t prevent this seizure.” Viamame had to give the diagnosis a name, even though she was unsure about it herself.

 Ko didn’t know what to make of it all “What did you tell our new First Officer” 

“To focus on her job and let me do mine,” Viamame smiled a bit. “But she is worried about your health, so am I. Does this relate to Commander Towalr? Is he truly trying to reach out to you….? I mean, I removed all nanos out of you, so this should not be possible.” Viamame was confused about the whole ordeal. 

“I don’t know….” Ko briefly replied, thinking about it, “But he stated basically the same….help me.” She looked at Viamame.

Viamame looked back at Ko and shrugged. “Well, take a rest, and we will figure this out….” She put a blanket back over Ko and walked back to her own office. Wondering what to make out of this all. 

8) Down the rabbit hole

USS Tokyo - Ready Room
June 2401

The mess from the ready room was still in the same state after the event went down with the Borg. Messy was chaotic, yet one soul could get her peace in that chaos. The counsel department had a field day with the mind of their Captain. Yet no one could give her the desired answer: what were these memories and visions haunting her every night? Ko rubbed her template while looking at her computer screen showing three crew member profiles. 

“You really should clean this place up, and I can give you a sedative to get some shuteye, Captain.” Viamame was leaning at a chair’s back with her arms crossed over each other. Looking around the room, wondering how someone could survive in such a disorganized place. Viamame looked at Ko. “You look like shit….you barely got out of the sickbay…” 

“Which I am grateful for, there is much work to be done, and I can’t sit idle while there is this…” Ko waved her hands at the PADDs lying around on her desk. “Transfers, reassignments, promotions, awards, and department reports.” She eyed every PADD while naming it.

She rolls her eyes at that comment, “You do know you have senior staff and a newly appointed First Officer that can do this work for you.” With that remark stated, Viamame noticed Yozria entering the room. “Speak of the devil. There is your right hand. Can you tell your boss to take it easy?” 

Walking to the side of Viamame, “Is that not the task of the Chief Medical Officer to do so? I mean, you are the one that cleared her for duty, not me.” Yozria smirked at her friend.

“After she repeatedly asked every medical staff if she was fit for duty, every minute!” Viamame stated with some annoyance in her voice, “So it was more a celebration that she left the sickbay that overruled my choice to keep her there,” Pointing it out bluntly.

Giving Viamame that smirk, and looked at the Captain, “Captain, I have placed the reports, there, there, and ….” Looking around, “There, of latest reports from the Fourth Fleet.” Yozria smiled proudly.

Blinking a bit, Viamame followed the direction of Yozria’s eyes to the reports, “Good grief, these two a match in heaven. Starfleet created a monster team,” She muttered to herself while rubbing now her own template. “If you don’t listen to my advice, and I am not required, I will be going back to the sickbay.” With that, she pushed herself off the chair’s back and moved.

“I am going….” A weak voice came from the direction of Ko.

Viamame stopped in her tracks as she looked over her shoulders, seeing that Yozria was looking at her leaving and now turning her head to Ko. 

The Captain was sitting in her chair, tapping her finger on the table as her eyes never touched her computer. “I am going to get them back…..” She blinked her eyes slowly and then looked with tired eyes at the two of them. “Even if it means going in alone.”

“Get who back…?” Yozria looked questionable at Ko and confused.

“You’re joking.” A voice came from behind Yozria as Viamame turned around, placing her arms over each other. “They are gone….you know that. It is a suicide mission to go after it…and hell, we don’t even know where to start to trace it down.”

Looking back at Viamame, “What are you guys talking about?” Yozria tried a more demanding voice and slowly felt left out of whatever was being developed here.

Seeing the wave of approval from Ko, Viamame shrugged and started to pace around the room, scratching her hair. “The Captain got in sickbay due to a collapse, right?” Viamame started seeing Yozria slowly nod. “There is more to it; she had an event happening to her that no medical journal can explain.” Feeling frustrated that Viamame was unable to explain it herself.

“What kind of event?” Yozria slowly asked.

“I see Commander Towalr in my head; it happened while I was sleeping; it happened while I was walking through the hallways. Droned, but asking for help,” Ko softly explained, followed by a shrug.

Yozria blinked, looking at Ko, then back at Viamame. “Wait, are you telling me that she is having bad nightmares?” Yozria looked back at Ko. “You are experiencing PDST? Shit, this can put your career on the line and a long period of therapy.”

The two stayed quiet for a second. “Not quite Yozria. When she had her first encounter with this event, she still had remains of Borg Nano in her blood that somehow skipped my scans. The problem is that after I removed them….they kept coming back as if a memory was planted.” Viamame explained, “Something that I have no idea how to get out of her head.” 

“Right, wait….how did it even get in her head if it is a memory…” Yozria blinked at that confirmation. 

Viamame raised her finger. “That is the question….that I can’t answer. It might be a modification when she got the nano injected in her. But that wouldn’t make sense. The nanos were from a dysfunctional drone that is disconnected from the collective.” 

“Right, right….” Yozria confirms that fact, “But…” She looked at Ko “What if she got connected and not active?” Looking back at Viamame, “She is a walking node….because she had not active nano’s in her, they were simply waiting for a confirmation….but that would mean.” Yozria saw Viamame wanting to stop her.

“That I was right…” They both looked at Ko. “I received a message from Towalr….how I have no idea. But I did get it, and I will follow up on it.” She took a deep breath. “It is, after all, my job as a Captain to get the crew home in whatever condition they are in.” Ko paused for a second. “But that would mean that I have to cross bridges that I rather not cross and burn ships that I kinda need to achieve my goal.” 

Letting out a deep sigh, “Captain, you do realize what you are saying, right?” Viamame shrugged.

“I do, I will burn my ship as following the rules and orders of Starfleet. I will cross a bridge to go rogue on Starfleet principles and orders.” Ko confirmed both their fear.

A quiet moment fell in the room, until “But you are sure to get my brother back….?” Yozria carefully stated her deepest desire. Ko tired eyes met those of Yozria “Because if so….I will burn any bridge or ship to do so. I will stand at your side.” 

Taking a deep breath, “I will get them all three back.” Ko confirmed her first officer wish.

“Match made in freaking StoVoKor…” Viamame facepalmed herself and shrugged at the two. “Where do we even start?!”

She turns around, taps on the panel behind her, and a planet appears. She sat back in her chair and looked at the slow-turning planet animation. “Our destination starts here, south of the Turei Alliance.” Ko looked over her shoulder to her team. “But I only want those with us that want to go….if we have too little support, I will get a shuttle and do it that way,…”

Both Yozria and Viamame looked at each other and nodded to the plan. Then both looked back at the planet. “Frak, a black market…” Viamame shrugged. 

9)The Choice

USS Tokyo - Shuttlebay
June 2401

Good day. What you are about to read will certainly change your path within Starfleet. People will judge you upon this choice or praise you for it. But this choice is yours and yours alone. Tokyo’s command team will hold no grudge against you, so whatever you choose, we will support it. 

 

So what is going on? Upon failing our mission with the Borg, I will not sugarcoat it. It was a disaster, and I take most of the weight upon my shoulders for the sloppy work that came from it. We lost valuable members of our crew, not of our family. This has severely damaged our morale, and it is an understandable blow. Losing someone you know you care for is never easy. 

 

But recently, I have had recurring dreams, visions that are vivid and seem quite real. I checked with our Chief Medical Officer, and it seemed that the visions were real in some form and degree. They are a signal that I received with the remaining nano’s I had from our first away team mission at the Broken Cube. The message is from our First Officer, Commander Towalr. It only states, help.

 

Now here is the pickle I am in, I have made the choice to follow this signal, this message. But it means that I will against Starfleet orders, better I go rogue as I won’t report myself because the answer of Starfleet is obvious. Starfleet doesn’t want to provoke the Borg in any form or state. Yet, as the Captain of this vessel, I can’t ignore the pleading of my crew members, and I will go after them.

 

Your choice is simple. Are you with me, or do you not want to risk your Starfleet career? Because if you go with me, you might face a court marshal, you might lose your rank, and you might be reassigned to different locations, which makes it difficult to develop yourself. I will be in the shuttlebay today, if you desire to leave, pack your bags and meet me there. I will ship send you off and thank you for everything you have done for Tokyo myself. If you stay, continue your job, and we go to work quickly. 

 

Signed

 

Captain Yoon-Jung

Standing there with her hands behind her back, she waited. The shuttlebay was going to be the choke point of this upcoming mission. She needed the support of her people to be able to do what needed to be done. Even if it goes against everything that Starfleet stands for. But her mind was set on it, and on her way to the shuttlebay, she already saw people mumbling to each other about the message she had sent. 

“You’re nervous?” The voice of Viamame came, looking at her Captain.

“I would not be human if I was not nervous. I just basically told my crew that I would go rogue and defy Starfleet orders. The very organization they built up everything for, now the potential threat existed that it might be going down the drain,” Ko replied calmly, looking at the door. “The golden rule for me is, if the shuttles get too full, then I will cancel it, and I will go myself out of the Tokyo

Viamame narrowed her eyes, looking at the door. “Some people won’t agree with such action, right?” Taking a deep breath, “I feel obligated to go with you. I still have no idea what the impact of the nano was on your brain or nervous system. What if you shut down or turn over to the Borg when you are in range of them?” Viamame muttered a bit, “Whatever the case is, I will be at your side.”

Giving a firm nod to the loyalty of her doctor, “Thank you.” Ko briefly replied, “I got four shuttles here, ready to go.” She looked briefly over her shoulder, seeing the shuttles standing ready. The pilots that were in it already announced that they were not going to be part of the mission, and she thanked them for their service. She was looking back when she heard the door open and saw a group of officers walking into the shuttlebay.

“Here we go…” Viamame said, giving a nod to the approaching members. 

After a while, Ko looked over her shoulder and saw that three shuttles were filled with about twenty-five people. Meaning that she had about one hundred and fifty-five people still onboard the ship if she counted the people she had lost during their last mission. Ko looked at Viamame. “I guess this is it….we got a crew.” 

Viamame nodded to her Captain and looked at the shuttles. “They seem scared and worried, so they are at peace with their choice. Time to wrap it up,” She finally spoke, crossing her arms over each other. 

Walking to the back of open shuttles where the groups stood, they looked at their Captain. “I need to ask you all for a favor. This will not imply any danger to your career because you do not know. When you leave this ship, you will be unable to contact us, we will be shutting down our communication. You travel to Markonian Outpost; it is only a few day’s travel. You got enough rations to get there. If a ship picks you up of Starfleet designation, answer their hail. If they ask about the nature of our mission, you do not know.”

She saw everyone talking to each other as she bowed forward, “Thank you for your service to this ship and your fellow crew. I will recommend you all for a Medal of Achievement, even if I do not know if it will stick.” Ko raised her head, seeing everyone saluting her, as she looked confused at them.

An officer said, ” Everyone here has their own reason to do this. We do not think less of you. We thank you for giving us that option. Not only that, but we wish you the best of luck on your voyage and hope you can achieve your mission of retrieving our lost crew.” He smiled as the others nodded, taking the entrée into their shuttles as they spread evenly. 

The shuttles started to live off and moved into space as Ko looked at them leaving.

“There they go…” Viamame spoke, and paths her captain on the back.

She nods to that, seeing the shuttles disappear from her eyesight, and taps her combadge, “Yoon-Jung to the bridge.” Ko turned around and started to walk to the exit of the shuttlebay.

“Bridge here” 

“Cut the communication, plot the course, and warp,” She ordered.

“Understood, Bridge out.” With that, the Tokyo powers up its engine and aligns its course as it jumps into warp, starting its new mission. 

10) Our path

USS Tokyo - Conference Room
June 2401

The senior staff had gathered in the conference room to wait for the next step in their dangerous path. One that could inflict damage to their career, to their lives, and maybe to others. This gave off a tense and uncertain vibe in the room that couldn’t be calmed down; they all accepted their fate without taking the ticket of escape that their Captain had offered. 

“This is mental…” Tamaz spoke, looking outside the window, scratching the back of his head. “We are going to get ourselves killed with this…”

“That is an enormous understatement. If things go south, and we are truly going to do something extreme, then we are in for quite the ride,” Cezs spoke, leaning back in her chair. “It has to do with the Captain collapsing in the hallway, for sure”

Padgok blinked as he looked up from his PADD. “Why would you make such a connection?” 

Cezs felt eyes looking at her from both of them. “I don’t know. It went pretty fast when it happened. The Captain had a … episode of sorts that I can’t describe. But it was not a normal one. It was one of those freaky moments that concerned me”

Looking at Tamaz, who raised his shoulders in response, “Well, she did describe it in her summary when addressing the crew; if it is related to the message from Commander Towalr that got her these visions and episodes, then it might be the trigger to do this mission” Padgok gave an analyzed answer. 

The moment Tamaz wanted to respond to that, the three remaining senior officers entered the conference room, which made him return to his seat. Everyone took their seat, “What is the status or plan…?” Tamaz broke the ice at once without mercy as he wanted to know what was going to happen next. 

Ko sat down in her chair, taking a breath. “Well, thank you for your excitement or energy to go deep into this, Lieutenant. But this is a typical plan that goes with the flow. We have a target, and that is the Borg Sphere that we left behind in pieces.” She brought up the information of the Sphere that was missing a large chunk of it. “This is the location we need to intercept, and we are in a tied spot with this.” 

“How so?” Cezs spoke out curiously, already investigating the sphere status and the data that came to her PADD.

“The course it plotted, basically,” Yozria stated with her arms crossed over each other. “After we returned from our interception, mission data indicated that the ship was heading north. Most likely reacting to the sudden withdrawal of all Borg-related ships.” Yozria shrugged at that. “So long-range scanners are not picking them up anymore, and the trail they leave behind is fading away fast.” 

Nodding to the answer, Cezs shrugged a bit, “But what is the trouble, we go after it traveling north?” 

Looking at her new Chief Engineer, Yozria had admired her tough former assistant. But there were still things that she needed to learn and understand. “Because the sphere in question is heading to the edge of chaotic space to return to Borg Collective space. If that happens, we can say goodbye to our crew members.” Yozria saw the guilt and horrifying realization sink in with Cezs and nodded, looking back at Ko.

“The ship can, however, be traced, but we need tech for that,” Ko resumed, placing her hands over each other. “We must go stealthy and enter a black market at an independent colony near the Turei Alliance. This colony has been visited a few times for various reasons. One of them was the dealing of xBs parts and selling them to the highest bidder. A favorable place for Ferengis.” 

“War is good for business….they use every context of that rule in their benefits, it seems.” Viamame shrugged at the idea itself. 

The room became quiet as Tamaz broke it once again. “So what will be looking for at that …black market?” Tamaz stated carefully and looked at Yozria and Ko, turning his head a few times. 

Ko kept quiet for a second and finally spoke to answer the question, “We are looking for a tracking device. A Borg drone uses a connection feed to the collective. It is adaptable to any communication array to trace back to its …well nest,” Ko explained, leaning back in her chair. “So our mission is to retrieve such a device and use the data we collected…hmmm,” She thought for a second. “ That Lieutenant Vahdat collected before his AWOL about the sphere and tried to relocate it. Find the breadcrumbs to follow it”

The mention of Vahdat made some at the table uncomfortable, “Please keep your minds in the game. Vahdat, Towalr, and…Deem are depending on it” Yozria stated with some pain in her voice as she had to mention her brother as well “But we have additional problems, and that is …Starfleet” She knew that this would come on the table eventually, but it had to be discussed “Now that we have missed our first check-in, Starfleet might be already on high alert thinking something bad has happened”

“They can track us down, no?” Cezs blinked at the information and was rather calm about the whole ordeal that she was participating in a rogue action. It didn’t bother her at all, it felt exciting and refreshing. 

Shaking her head “No, upon leaving the officers that decide to part ways, I ordered Commander Deem to shut down the communication and beacon systems. This means that no one on our ship can contact anyone from the outside. If it is registered, I have instructed security to place this person in the brig.” She saw some people reacting in protest and raised her hand. “Please remember that they had a window of choice to leave the ship. They choose to remain, and by doing so, any action that is against our plan to rescue our crew is a dangerous one.”

“But if people still want to leave or cannot live with this burden, the brig is not the solution?” Tamaz protested while leaning in forward.

“That might be true,” Viamame looked at Tamaz. “But think of it this way: if a crew member sends a message to Starfleet about our plan, then we are all going down with them, and even the one that contacted Starfleet will be arrested. Another scenario would be that we will be in a hostile area, and they notice the message. Who do you think will get first to us?” 

Tamaz sat back in his chair and nodded in disbelief, not realizing the severity of the mission they had agreed on. Taking a deep breath to let it sink in. 

“So we are dealing with a few problems. We are alone on this mission; we will deal with black-market thugs, and we need a plan to intercept that Borg ship as fast as possible and get our crew out of that Sphere,” Yozria summed it up.

“For now, you are dismissed, but please take these concerns seriously into account. Our crew members depend on it,” Ko spoke informally and nodded to them as they started to leave to let the new information sink in. She took a deep breath, with both Yozria and Viamame still staying behind.

“Are they ready for this?” Yozria looked at the door that had closed when Tamaz left at last.

“They have to be,” Ko replied. “Because without them, it will be very difficult….”