“Freeze!” was the loudly voiced command from the two men that came rushing through the door, pointing large phaser rifles at Duo. They were quickly followed by another 3, all of them wearing Starfleet security uniforms, enhanced with light body armour and tactical helmets.
Duo froze, for a second, then slowly turned to face the security officers. It only took him a few seconds to assess the situation, and it didn’t look good. There was no way he could overpower five armed guards, even if they hadn’t been wearing armor, in his present condition there was just no way.
“OK, OK… ya got me….” He said sharply, raising his hands and taking a step backwards.
“Get on your knees,” one of them yelled, keeping his rifle pointed at Duo. The others fanned out in support, all with their weapons trained on the man before them.
Duo frowned. It wasn’t in his blood to give up without a fight, but he wasn’t as impulsive as he’d once been. He’d wait for a good moment. One opening or weakness was all he needed. But these men were good. They hadn’t made a single slip.
“Aw, c’mon… I’m unarmed an’ I’m tired as hell. What am I gonna do, bite ya?” He complained loudly, the less experienced they thought he was, the better.
The leader of the security team made a decision. The unauthorised person in front of them was being uncooperative by not doing as commanded. Accustomed as he was to ‘following the book’, he fired his rifle. For Duo, everything suddenly went black.
“Aaawww… hell…” Duo groaned, popping one eye open and wincing at the stabbing bright light that invaded his already pounding head. He raised a hand to shade his face and looked to the left and right. It seemed he was in a sickbay somewhere, the beds on either side of him were empty and the room was silent except for the faint background humming of medical equipment.
He lay almost still for a few minutes, testing each muscle gently and descovering that aside from the general aches and pains that he was getting used to living with, there wasn’t much wrong with his body.
“Uurgh,” He groaned again as he sat up slowly and looked around again. He was definitely in a deserted sickbay. “What th’ hell…” he grumbled, swinging his legs off of the bed.
The door swished open behind him, and before he could raise the energy to turn around, Duo heard a familiar voice. Not the voice he was expecting, but familiar nevertheless.
“Why the hell do you think you’ve got to fight everyone in the universe?” Jim Hawkins asked.
“Genetics,” Duo said, half groaning as he turned around and grinned at Jim, “I’m made that way. An’ I don’t wanna fight everyone, I jus’ wanna fight th’ EGR.”
“Last I checked, Starfleet Security weren’t EGR,” Jim smiled, walking over to Duo. He stopped on the way, picking up a small hypospray and checked it was the one he wanted. “Stay still,” he said, and held it up to Duo’s neck. With a burst of compressed air, the painkiller was injected into Duo’s bloodstream. Jim stepped back and put the hypospray back onto the small table near the bed.
“Nnng…. Starfleet, EGR,” Duo grumped, “There isn’t much difference, these days.” He slid off the biobed and sighed, feeling the painkiller work through his system. “How th’ hell did you know I was here, anyway?”
“I didn’t,” Jim said, leaning against the bed and watching him. “I was here for a different reason. Why are YOU here?”
“Cap’n Aldous,” Duo said lightly, a slight frown creasing his brow. “I was tryin’ t’ get t’ Earth t’ go see President Spock when I heard he was alive, an’ here.”
“You were trying to see President Spock?” Jim asked, chuckling. “Ambitious.” He frowned. “Where have you been for the past year Duo? You went AWOL.”
Duo sighed, leaning backwards against the biobed and sighing. “It’s been a long year, but I couldn’t jus’ sit back an’ watch th’ EGR take over… they’re th’ worst kind of race, underhanded an’ sneaky, they’ve got no honour an’ no sense of justice.” He said sharply, pausing to stare at Jim for a second. “I’ve been doin’ what everyone else should’ve been doin’ right from th’ start. I’ve been fightin’, an’ runnin’, an’ doin’ everythin’ I could t’ get back at them for what they’ve done.”
“Have you succeeded?” Jim asked him.
“No,” Duo said sharply, “but I tried, ’cause I had to. Tryin’ an’ failin’ is a lot better than jus’ sittin’ back an’ doin’ nuthin’.” he glanced at Jim again, “It’s a lot more than everyone else has done.”
“Do you know of others that have tried?” Jim asked.
“Yeah, there’s still a few groups out there that are fightin’ back.” He said lightly, “but there’s a lot more dead ones, than livin’ ones.”
“And how successful are those that are fighting back?” Jim asked again.
“Look, I know what your gettin’ at, Jim… it’d probably been better t’ sit back an’ wait.” Duo said, frowning at Jim as he spoke, “but y’ know me, Jim, better than most. D’ya really think I could’ve jus’ sat around for a whole year an’ watched th’ EGR take over? After what they did t’ th’ Cardassians?”
Jim sighed, rubbing his forehead. “Duo, all those that have tried to beat the EGR have failed. Those races that have tried an organised resistance, they’ve failed. They’ve been destroyed. The Borg, Duo… the Borg! They failed too! The EGR destroyed them, so what the hell makes you think you can win!” Jim was yelling, but for once, he didn’t notice.
“I know I can’t win!” Duo yelled back, pushing away from the biobed and turning to face Jim, his hands balled into fists at his side. “But I still had t’ try! There was no way I could’ve done anythin’ else! I couldn’t live, watchin’ what was goin’ on! I couldn’t sit back an’ do nuthin’!”
“You’ve always had a death wish Duo,” Jim shot back, facing the smaller man. “All you’ve done your entire life is run away to fight by yourself. Warrior code my arse, all you’ve wanted to do is die!”
“Do I look dead t’ you!?” Duo snapped at Jim, “If you can’t understand me by now, you never will!” he said sharply. “If a man can’t be true t’ his own sense of Justice an’ put his life on th’ line for what he believes in, then he’s not a man at all!”
“And is it worth dying if that death is meaningless?” Jim asked him, trying to calm himself down. “Is fighting a hopeless battle worth dying for nothing? Or is it the mark of a true warrior who understands when and where to fight the battles? Do you remember the Academy training of Sun Tzu and the Art of War, or did you skip that class?”
“How d’ya think I’m still alive?” Duo asked, trying to relax as he spoke, “d’ya think I jus’ went out an’ charged around attackin’ everythin’? D’ya think I’m an idiot!?” He asked, his voice rising again. He paused for a moment, shutting his eyes and scratching his forehead. “Jus’ ’cause I was fightin’ doesn’t mean I was throwin’ my life away every chance I got. I spent more time runnin’ than I did fightin’, but I can hold my head up ’cause I actually went out an’ tried t’ do somethin’. Even if I only got a few of them, an’ only saved a few lives here an’ there, it doesn’t matter. I tried.”
Jim’s voice was quiet as he said, “And what about the hundreds or people who were killed by the EGR in retaliation for your efforts? Do you think the EGR just let you galavant around the quadrant without regard? How many people are dead because of you’re selfish code of honour? It’s great to hold your head up, I’m sure, but what about all those who don’t have heads any more?”
“Don’ you dare try t’ pin that kinda crap on me!” Duo snapped, “People die in wars, it happens! An’ if those people hadn’t died one way, they’d have gone another,” he said sharply. “An’ what about whatever you plannin’ to do? How many people d’ya think are gonna die when you pull off whatever plan you’ve got under your sleeve?”
Jim was about to reply when he stopped, shutting his mouth. He sighed again.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re right, people die.”
Duo was about to retort with a stinging remark about facing facts and being realistic when his brain caught up with what Jim had said.
“Well…. well… yeah, I am.” He said uncertainly, then paused for a moment. “So… what kinda plan do you have under your sleeve, anyway?”
Jim smiled grimly, and was about to reply when someone else appeared. Literally.
“I have to say, I’m a little disappointed I can’t throw you into the brig for striking a superior officer,” said Captain Aldous, having just materialised to Duo’s left.
Duo grinned, turning to look at Aldous and just spending a minute looking. “Cap’n… you’ve got no idea how happy I am t’ see you,” he said lightly, visibly relaxing as he spoke. “If ya like, you could throw me in th’ brig for being AWOL for a year, or for conductin’ terroist acts against th’ Federation an’ it’s allies…”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll find something to throw you in the brig for,” Aldous said, smiling. “Now, is there any reason why you were trying to break into my ship?”
“Yeah,” Duo replied, his tone turning more serious, “I’ve ran outa strength t’ fight on my own, my mech is just about dead an’, t’ be honest,” He paused and glanced at Jim, “I’m not far behind. I’ve run outa ideas an’ options, an’ when I heard you were alive I knew th’ only way I was gonna be able t’ survive an’ keep fightin was t’ come here.”
“If I could be considered alive, that is,” Aldous said softly, mainly to himself. “But I guess you’ve come to the right place.” He looked at Hawkins, and then back at Duo.
“Alive enough for me,” Duo said lightly. Losing Aldous had been hard on him and he’d never really had time to come to terms with the loss. Getting him back and being on the Scorpion again made him feel more secure than he had for a long time.
“We’ve stolen this ship,” Hawkins said simply, looking at Duo.
Duo looked at Hawkins, then at Aldous. “We’ve stolen th’ ship….” he repeated, “But if we’re gonna steal th’ Scorpion we’ve gotta make a pass by Mars, I left somethin’ there that I’ve gotta pick up.”
“We’re not GONNA steal the ship,” Hawkins said. “We’ve STOLEN the ship. And we ain’t in Kansas no more…”
“We’re what?” Duo frowned. He had no idea what Jim was talking about, Kansas was, or used to be, on Earth. “Where are we?” He asked, still frowning.
“Beyond the rim,” Aldous said. “Hopefully where they won’t find us while we plan our strategy.”
“Hyperdrive?” Duo guessed, settling back against the biobed and still frowning softly.
“Slipstream,’ Jim said. It almost seemed as if he and Aldous were tag-teaming. “You’ve been asleep over a day.”
“Oh…” Duo said simply, “Ok… y’ didn’t happen t’ stop by Mars, then, t’ pick up my mech? Did ya?” He asked hopefully.
To be continued…
Thanks for reading! Please add your own thoughts below.
Don't forget to subscribe for new posts sent to you by email!