Heroes and Demons 2

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

CHAPTER FOUR "Freeze," Rando ordered. McCue froze. "You don't miss a trick, do you?" he asked. "I thought you were asleep." "Now you know," Rando replied, standing up but keeping the phaser aimed at McCue. "So, you going to fill me in as to just what you were doing?" McCue shrugged. "Actually, I was just going to go to the bathroom." He looked at the phaser. "I can see that's obviously a crime in your universe." Rando sighed and holstered his weapon. "Go... just make sure you come back." "Honestly, Captain... where would I go?" McCue asked. Rando sighed and watched McCue leave. The man did have a point... if he left, where would he go? If he ran away, he'd most likely be left behind... and the chances of surviving on this planet by yourself for very long were slim. Besides, he hadn't made an attempt to get away ever since they had arrived on this planet... even with all the opportunities he had been given. Nevertheless, Rando felt required to sleep with one eye open... just in case. The sound of footsteps indicated that McCue was indeed returning, and Rando watched him as he entered the camp... what there was of it. This entire planet was barely hospitable... there were very few trees or other plants, mainly because the planet seemed to be after its prime. In a few more centuries, what little atmosphere was left would probably be completely gone. The planet would be a completely dead desert... just like Mars was before the terraforming. "I hope I didn't worry you," McCue said as he lay back down on the ground. Rando watched the other man close his eyes and fall asleep before he allowed himself to drift away in a restless slumber. ****************************************************** "Captain's log, Stardate 50002.4: We've spent five days here on 'Hades', for lack of a better name. According to the tricorder, we've already progressed more than half the distance to the shuttle. From here, we can tell that it's still intact... there are still energy readings coming from it, so at least that's some good news. Last night, while I was almost asleep, I heard a noise that sounded like Captain McCue was trying to make an escape, but when I looked, he was right where I'd seen him last... fast asleep. He still hasn't tried anything yet, which is surprising. He could make it to the shuttle easily by himself, and then use its communications systems to contact anyone he wanted to get him off this rock. I'm not sure what he's trying to prove... but whatever it is, he's not going to get away with it." ****************************************************** McCue yawned as he stretched. "As hard as the ground is, I'm still much more comfortable sleeping here than I was on my ship." Rando glared at him. Every morning for the last nine days, he'd said almost the same thing... apparently in an effort to get Rando to say SOMETHING to him. But Rando wasn't buying it... for over a week, he had kept their conversations short and to the point... he wasn't going to ruin his record now. Especially not today. The tricorder readings placed the downed shuttle just a kilometer away from their present location. By this time tomorrow, they could be going home... or he could be, at least. The two men ate a package of field rations in silence... the rations were designed to give the body three days worth of nutrients, and this was the third pack they had gone through. They only had two left, but Rando seriously doubted they would need to use them. An hour later, Rando was puzzling over a different matter. For some reason, the tricorder was now reporting that the shuttle was directly ahead... but meters below them. He didn't understand how that could be possible... until he saw it for himself. ****************************************************** Yet again... there he was. The same stool, at the end of the bar. It was like he never left! And now... after over a week, it was finally going to come to an end. Lieutenant Johnson walked right up to Lieutenant Remley's back. "Sir... we need to have a little talk." Remley didn't respond with anything understandable. He just grunted... but Johnson could tell that it wasn't a happy grunt. "Lieutenant Remley," Johnson started seriously. "You're drunk." The accusation made Remley turn around. He looked at Johnson blearily. "Yeah? What of it?" Johnson sighed. "As far as I can tell, you've been drunk every single day for the last nine days... not exactly my idea of spending off-time." "Then it's a good thing I'm not you," came the reply, and Remley turned away from him, raising the bottle in his hand to his lips. Johnson put his hand on Remley's arm... stopping the motion. "I hope I don't regret this," he thought. The look of pure death in Remley's eyes dashed Johnson's hopes. "Let go of me, Chris," the big security officer growled. "No sir," Johnson said. His eyes darted around... they had obviously gotten the attention of the rest of the bar's patrons. "I think you should come with me." Remley's stare was so powerful it would have burned a hole through Johnson's head had it been a phaser beam. "I'd like to see you make me." "Lieutenant, if you do not come with me, I'll be forced to report your conduct to Commander Witherell." "What I do on my own free time is my own business, Lieutenant," Remley growled. "Not any more, Evan," Johnson told him, and then decided to dive right in. "You have a problem, sir." That was it. The cold glare that Remley had given Johnson sparked with energy. "I do NOT have a problem!" he bellowed, leaping off the bar stool and swinging his fist wildly in Johnson's direction. The OPS chief was able to duck under the swing easily... the alcohol in his system had dulled Remley's coordination that much. A loud cheer arose in the bar... its patrons were obviously looking forward to a fight. Johnson hoped that a brawl didn't start up just because he was trying to help Remley. He decided that it would be best to finish this as quickly as he could. He made a fist and swung.... Lieutenant Remley fell to the ground... hard. Pain was surging through his face, but instead of reacting... he just laid there, holding his cheek. Johnson looked down at him, thanking every force he could think of to thank that Remley had decided to stay down. The bar patrons began to boo and hiss... they were obviously expecting a whole lot more than what they had gotten. Johnson didn't care. He extended his hand to Remley to help the other man up. It was a few seconds before Remley responded to Johnson's hand, but he eventually took it... allowing himself to be pulled to his feet. He leaned up against Johnson for balance. "How you'd learn to hit like that, Chris? I might just have to recruit you for security." "Thanks, but I'm quite happy where I am," Johnson replied. He threw his arm around Remley's shoulder and headed towards the door. "Let's get out of here," he said, his other hand still throbbing from the connection it had made with Remley's face. "There's someone I think you need to talk to...." CHAPTER FIVE "Come on, drink it!" Johnson ordered. "I didn't put all this work into this thing for nothing!" Remley sipped again at the raktajino. "Man, those Klingons make some powerful stuff," he remarked. He turned to Johnson, who was typing commands into a console on the side of the wall. Even with the sobering effects of the Klingon coffee, Remley had yet to realize just where they were. "There!" Johnson exclaimed with satisfaction. "Finished!" He noticed that the security chief had not yet finished drinking all of his beverage and said, "Evan...." "I know, I know," Remley replied quickly, bringing the mug up to his mouth and drinking rapidly. "Something tells me I'm going to regret this tomorrow. Now, are you gonna tell me what you're up to, Chris?" "Just keeping a promise I made," Johnson replied. He indicated the doors they were standing right next to. "Step inside... and you'll know what I'm talking about." "Guess I don't have much of a choice," Remley responded, and then added with a grin, "Just don't hit me again." Johnson felt a twinge of pain go through his hand. "Don't worry. Now go on... get in there." Remley nodded and stepped through the doors... into a dark empty room. It didn't resemble anything he had ever seen before... heck, it didn't resemble ANYTHING. Just a wide open, dark area. He heard the door close behind him... and noticed that it seemed to fade away into the darkness. It was then that he realized that Johnson had gotten him onto a holodeck. But why? Seconds later, he heard footsteps approaching from the distance. They became louder and louder, until he saw a form coming out of the darkness into the tiny area of light he stood in. Remley's stomach went down into his feet. "Jeff?" The young Ensign smiled. "Yes sir," he replied, brushing a wave of light brown hair from his forehead. "It's good to see you, sir." Remley shook his head. "How many times do I have to tell you... call me Evan." The holographic Ensign Libby regarded Remley and sighed. "I hear you developed a new habit since I left," he said. "I thought you didn't like drinking." "It helps me forget about things," Remley replied softly. "Helps take the pain away." Libby shook his head. "No, it helps dull the pain, but only you can make it go away. Not only that, but while you're dulling the pain... you're dulling everything else. Even Chris beat the hell out of you tonight." Remley didn't bother asking how Jeff knew that... those were the alterations Johnson had been making before he had allowed Remley to enter. "I don't like it, Evan," Libby continued. "You said yourself many times that it was your job to watch out for anything that might be a security risk. Security chief... heal thyself. You've drunk yourself into a stupor for nine days in a row... your friends are worried about you, your career is in danger. And I'm beginning to wonder if I can count on you." Remley looked at Libby. "What do you mean?" "You have no idea what they're putting me through right now, Evan. You can feel guilty about it... feel horrible that they were able to take me away. But I still need you, Evan. I need you to bring me back. If anyone can do it... I know you can." "But we don't even know where you are!" Remley protested. "Someday you will. Rebecca's looking for me... or she'll be starting soon. She's the one who asked Chris to talk to you... because she knows that you'll do anything to bring me back... but you can't do anything sitting at a bar, feeling sorry for yourself." The big security chief looked down at the ground, trying to hide the wetness that had developed around his eyes. "I let you down... again, old buddy. I let you down again." Libby moved up next to Remley and put a hand on the chief's arm. "There's still a chance, Evan. Just stay strong... be ready. The opportunity to rescue me could come in a few days, or a few months, or even a few years. Promise me that you will be ready for it." "I promise," Remley replied, lifting his head up to look at Libby. "I'm gonna bring you back, little buddy... you can count on that." Libby smiled. "I always have." ****************************************************** "Damn," Rando muttered. He couldn't believe what he was seeing... he felt his hopes draining away. Beside him, McCue shrugged. "It could be a lot worse," he said. "The shuttle didn't actually fall into the lava flow... if we could just get down there..." "How?" Rando demanded. "How do you think we're going to be able to get down there?" McCue shrugged again. "I don't know about you, but I'm not going to spend the rest of my life on the planet, eating field rations in the company of someone like you." He clamored down, over the edge of the cliff. "I'm climbing down there." "Without safety equipment? Are you crazy?" Rando demanded. "No," McCue grunted as he began his descent. "Just very driven." Rando shook his head and seconds later, he began climbing down as well. The shuttle lay twenty meters below them... a moderately easy distance to climb, but a deadly distance to fall. The two men progressed slowly, finding the proper handholds and footholds before they proceeded further down the cliff face. Finally, their feet touched ground... they had made it to the shuttle. "This ledge is pretty unstable too," McCue noted. "I say we send out the distress signal and get off of here as quickly as possible." Rando grimaced. "Lead on, oh fearless leader." McCue smiled slightly and made his way to the shuttlecraft, Rando close behind him. He quickly found the door and tried to open it... with little success. "It's jammed," he told Rando. He grabbed one half of the barely opened door. "Help me make this wider." Rando sighed and grabbed the other half of the door... soon, they had made an opening large enough for them to squeeze through. "This is interesting," McCue noted as they stood in the shuttle. "What is?" Rando demanded, moving to the front of the ship to check the communications systems... they were still operational. "You expect me to believe that you've been in an upside down shuttle craft before?" McCue asked. Rando typed away at the communications console. "I hadn't noticed." "Even that keypad you're working on is upside down, Charlie!" McCue exclaimed. "We're walking on the ceiling!" "Guess I don't appreciate destruction as much as you must," Rando grunted. "There. The signal is broadcasting." A second later, the ground shook beneath them. "Not a moment too soon," McCue remarked. "Let's get out of here." The two men proceeded as quickly as they could to the rear of the shuttle, hampered by the now violent vibrations coming from beneath them. Rando knew McCue had been right about at least one thing... this ledge they were on was not sturdy at all... and these earthquakes were not helping one bit. McCue squeezed out the door way first, but before Rando could follow him, another tremor shook the ground and the shuttle lurched over on its side. The door Rando had been trying to get to was now on the ceiling... and very much out of his reach. Maybe if the shuttle rolled one more time? Suddenly, McCue appeared in the opening, reaching his arm through. "Come on, we have to get out of here!" he called. "Get off the shuttle!" Rando ordered. "When it rolls again, I'll climb out the door just like you did." "Captain, if this shuttle rolls again, it'll go right off this ledge! NOW TAKE MY HAND!" Rando made no further protest. Bracing himself, he leapt up and grabbed McCue's arm, feeling McCue's hand wrap around his own wrist. Slowly but surely, McCue managed to lift him to the door opening, and from there Rando was able to pull himself up out of the shuttle. His first view was of the end of the ledge they were on... and the flow of lava hundreds of meters below it. "Come on," McCue told him as Rando looked off the edge. "We'd better get off this thing." The ground shook again and the shuttle lurched, causing the two men to jump forward off the shuttle and onto the ground. The shuttle tumbled off the ledge and into the chasm below. Seconds later, the tremors stopped, although Rando and McCue moved further back onto the ledge for safety. "You saved me," Rando said, amazed. "Again. Why?" "You still don't understand me, do you Charlie?" McCue asked. "You still can't get past the image of me as an evil villain, trying to take over your ship." He shook his head. "Do you know what I was before that? I was my Captain Rando's most trusted bodyguard. I spent everyday with him, watching over his shoulder, making sure that no one was trying to hurt him in anyway. But then our Counselor Kassal started getting these new powers... and Captain Rando didn't like that one bit. She became bossy... climbing up the chain of command with a series of secret alliances with the rest of the senior officers... she wanted to be in command, and no one was willing to stop her. Then she started mentally torturing the rest of the crew to get us to follow her, but she could never get to Captain Rando... or me. We were immune to her abilities somehow, I don't know why. So she did the next best thing... she went after Trina. She told me that if I didn't kill Captain Rando, that she'd torture Trina... put her through hell... and there was nothing I could do about it. It wasn't like I could ask Captain Rando to put Trina into protective custody... the Counselor would've gotten her wherever she went. It was the toughest decision I'd ever had to make... but I did. And I became the captain of the ship... in name. Yeah, I was in charge of the mission to take your Infinity... technically. I signed my name on all Imperial reports and everything, but it was Counselor Kassal who directed things behind the scenes... waiting for the day that she could find someone to do to me what I'd done to my Captain." His eyes found the ground. "In the end, I lost everything I'd had. I had already lost my Captain, and my friend... and then the Counselor took away... my wife." He looked up, his eyes brimming with tears. "Do you know what it feels like to be completely out of control... when you're supposed to be the one in control? Do you have any idea what that's like?" Rando sighed. That story couldn't have been fabricated... he could almost sense Paul's pain from where he sat. And it was then that he realized, "As a matter of fact... I do. Ten years ago... when I was just an ensign, I got my first opportunity to lead an away team. It was a scientific mission to a planet named Kyrus IV... and it was a dream come true. Now, if you were to look up this mission to Kyrus IV in the Starfleet database..." "You never went on the mission," McCue finished. "You were injured in a holodeck training exercise and had to remain onboard... which was probably a good thing since the whole team vanished without a trace." He paused before saying. "I've had a lot of free time on my hands the last few weeks... I've been reading up." "Too bad it's not the truth," Rando told him. McCue studied the Captain. "What do you mean?" "I was never injured on that holodeck training exercise," Rando admitted. "I led that away team... and I know why it disappeared. You see, Kyrus IV was in a very strategic location... right near the Romulan Neutral Zone. Of course, as far as I knew, no one had ever set foot on it before... we were the first Federation team to explore a new world. What we soon found, however, was that we weren't alone. "Starfleet had already established a covert base on Kyrus IV... to spy on Romulan activities across the Zone. It was state of the art... completely invisible to our sensors... we had no idea it was there, but they knew we were there. No, let me rephrase that... they knew SOMEONE was there. You see, a few hours after we had beamed down to Kyrus IV, long after our ship had been called away on an emergency, we came to the edge of a lush forest. It was beautiful... humongous trees, wildgrass, vines... nature completely undisturbed by humanity." He gave a brief smile. "Sonja would've loved it. But just as we were about to enter the forest... do a little exploring and cataloguing... phaser fire began pouring down on us. We scattered like frightened rabbits... we had no idea who was shooting at us, who else would've been there? I ran too... they were my men, I should've looked after them, I should've kept them under control... helped them hide... but I ran. And I tripped... and I fell into a ditch... hitting my head on a rock. I came to with Starfleet officers all around me, carrying big phaser rifles and looking very stern. My entire team was dead... even my friend Paul McCue who I'd known since the Academy. I was brought back to their base where I was interrogated, and once they were sure I wasn't a Romulan spy, they called my ship back. They then proceeded to cover-up the incident... after all, we couldn't let the Romulans know we were spying on them, now could we? Which Admiral would have to deal with that, eh? Another away team was sent to look for the first but was unsuccessful. I was returned to the ship... under the pretense that I had been there all along after being injured in a holodeck exercise. I was ordered never to divulge what had really happened on Kyrus IV to anyone... oops." "It would seem, I guess, that no government is perfect then... not yours, and certainly not mine," McCue replied. Rando smiled slightly. "No," he agreed. "I guess not." "If I ever see the Counselor again," McCue said, before adding, "my Counselor, that is... I don't know what I'll do, but she's not going to get away with what she did." Rando studied the Paul McCue from another universe... the Paul McCue who seemed to be almost exactly alike the Paul McCue he had lost on the mission to Kyrus IV. "I hear revenge is often unsatisfying." McCue shook his head. "I don't want revenge. I want justice. I want her to accept responsibility for what she did... and I want her to feel sorry that she did it." Rando considered this. The mission to Kyrus IV... the friends who had died... the family members who had been lied to, just so some Admiral somewhere wouldn't have a blackmark on his record. A few months ago, when Commander Witherell and Counselor Kassal had discovered the truth about Kyrus IV, he had felt angry at them because they had seen things they weren't supposed to. Now he realized just how much that anger was misplaced. The whole conspiracy to cover up the truth... justice wasn't being served, and Rando knew that he wanted justice as well. "You think the message got out in time, Captain?" McCue asked. "I don't know how much longer I can survive on these field rations." "I hope so," Rando told him. "Guess we'll know in a day or two. And call me Charlie," he added with a smile. That night, Charles Rando slept peacefully for the first time in almost two weeks. CHAPTER SEVEN Commander Witherell paused outside the doors of Captain Rando's quarters. He could only imagine what Rando had gone through... spending almost two weeks alone with Paul McCue on a hostile planet... and then another two days on a shuttle ride back. He didn't expect Captain Rando to be in the best of moods. "Kevin! Come in, come in! Don't just stand out there!" Witherell stepped through the open door. "Captain?" Rando came up to him and clasped his hands on Witherell's shoulders. "It is GOOD to see you again, my friend!" Witherell blinked. This was not the reaction he was expecting. "Sir, are you all right?" "Never better, Kevin, never better," Rando replied. "After all, over a week and a half of surviving in the wilderness can be quite invigorating, don't you think?" The Captain paused, noticing that his first officer still looked very confused. "Come now, Kevin, you of all people should be able to tell that I'm in a good mood." Witherell opened his mind, allowing himself to read Rando's thoughts. "I can see that, sir. It's just... unexpected to say the least." "A lot happened down there, Kevin... I wish I had the time to tell you all about it now... but there is one thing I wanted to say," Rando continued. "Thank you." Now Witherell was more confused than ever. "Sir?" "I wanted to thank you properly for what you did a few months ago, when you and Sonja brought me out of that coma. You were right, you know... I was repressing my memories. Not from myself, but from the people in my life. That's not fair to any of you." Witherell smiled. The months of uncertainty... uncomfortability... it was all gone now. "I'm glad you think that, Captain." Rando laughed. "Forget the 'Captain' thing, there's no one else here." He raised his right hand out towards Witherell. "My name is Charlie... it's a pleasure to meet you." Witherell accepted the handshake. "Kevin... good to meet you too." They both laughed aloud. "I must say, I'm still curious... what did happen on the planet that changed your mind about Kyrus IV?" "It's a long story," Rando replied, "but don't worry... I have every intention of filling you in. But right now... I have to get ready for a dinner date." Witherell grinned. "Oh?" "Counselor Kassal is going to show me around the newly repaired areas of the ship, and then we're going to dinner," Rando told him. "I can't wait to see it." "Ah!" Witherell exclaimed in understanding. "It's worth it, Charlie. I think you'll like it." He paused, a thought occurring to him. "You said that you weren't going to hold back your memories about Kyrus IV from anybody any more... what about the order by Starfleet classifying the mission?" Rando looked at Witherell closely. "You know as well as I do that the away mission was only classified to save the careers of the Admirals who screwed up in the first place. Well, that ends right here, right now. It may take some work, some digging, but I am going to determine just who was responsible for Kyrus IV... who sent young Starfleet officers into a hostile situation... and I'm going to make sure they're brought to justice. No matter what it takes." Witherell smiled. "If you need any help, Charlie, you know where to find me." Rando smiled. "Thanks Kevin, I might be taking you up on that." He looked up when the door chime rang. "I believe this would be my escort. Come in!" Counselor Kassal stepped into the room and smiled warmly. "Charlie! It's good to see you again!" Rando smiled back as he approached her, and then he gave her a powerful hug that lifted the slight elf off her feet. "I missed you too, Sonja," he told her. "And I wanted to say one more thing: thank you." Kassal looked at him questioningly for a second, then realization seemed to dawn on her. "What are friends for?" she asked. "Ready to go?" "I think so," Rando said, looking at Witherell. "Wanna come, Kevin?" Witherell shook his head. "No thanks. There's a lecture on the Balmari civilization in the central museum tonight. Lieutenant V'gel and I were going to go take in some culture." "Have fun!" Rando exclaimed. "You'll have to tell me all about it!" "Only after you tell me about 'Hades', Charlie," Witherell replied with a grin. "Have fun, you two!" he called as he headed out the door. "You seem in a much better mood than when you left, Charlie," Kassal pointed out. "Care to tell me about it?" "I love this," Rando said. "I must be the only Captain in Starfleet with two telepaths who don't like reading minds! Don't worry, I'll tell you all about it over dinner." And they followed Witherell out the door.