Home of Tanner D. Querby and Selina Querby Medford, Oregon [Earth] 0923 FST – March 9
Selina Querby carried a large basket of fresh laundry onto the second floor. She knew that her teenage daughter, Jasmine, had a few new friends over and she decided to check on them before continuing her chores.
Jasmine was her and her husband’s only child now and they had always been rather protective of her. Tanner, her husband, worked for Starfleet. She didn’t like the fleet. It had been Starfleet that had taken Hunter from them. And even though Tanner had been out there in the vastness of space with his son, he had not been able to prevent his tragic demise. She hated the fact that he was still in Starfleet after all that had happened to them but at least he had finally gotten that desk job in San Francisco, just a few minutes away by shuttle.
Selina knocked against the door of her daughter’s bedroom and pushed it open with her shoulder.
“I’m going to town later so if you and your friends want something to eat you can just–“
Selina froze in the door frame, her mouth wide open in shock.
Jasmine sat on her bed with two other young women who were clearly alien. They were more than that however. Their skin was sickly pale, gray almost. Black metallic and synthetic appendages protruded out of their skins and disappeared under their clothes.
The woman sitting closest to Selina turned her head to reveal an ocular implant where her left eye socket should have been.
Selina dropped the basket, covering the floor with the neatly folded laundry.
She knew what she was looking at right away. She knew all too well. She turned away quickly and ran towards the staircase.
“Mom!” Jasmine yelled and jumped out of her chair. “This is not what you think. These are my friends!”
It was no use. Selina didn’t listen. The only thing on her mind now was to contact the only person she knew could help.
Office of the Secretary-General of the United Earth Government New York City, New York [Earth] 1246 FST – March 9
Chief of Staff Yan Quin entered the spacious office located at the very top of the super-scraper with a determined pace. He held a padd in his hand which carried information he knew the Secretary-General would want to hear right away. After all the newly elected leader of the United Earth Government had been sworn into office with a firm pledge that he would no longer tolerate Starfleet’s tendency to meddle with state affairs.
Quin remained right. Zenzo Nkosi showed great interest in his report.
“These … individuals, I guess?”
Quin nodded. “Three doctors have thoroughly examined them before they ever set foot on Earth. One of them a Starfleet physician. They all attested that they are human and have no remaining connectivity to the Collective and that they pose no threat whatsoever.”
Secretary-General Nkosi glanced up from the padd. “And yet you are sure that Starfleet is trying to detain them?”
“The young woman who contacted us was very concerned that they might. In fact our sources tell us that plans to apprehend them are underway as we speak.”
Nkosi stood up, anger swelling up in his eyes. “This is clearly a planetary matter. They have no business doing that. I want you to dispatch security forces right away. These individuals are under our direct protection.”
“Perhaps we should inform the office of the President and–“
“This is exactly what they want. We’ll contact Paris and while we wait for the red tape to clear they go ahead and do whatever they want. No, Mister Quin, this is an Earth matter and as such we will take action.”
The Chief of Staff nodded curtly and headed quickly for the exit to delegate orders. Timing would be everything
Office of Rear Admiral Tanner D. Querby San Francisco, California [Earth] 1312 FST – March 9
Admiral Tanner Querby sat behind his desk. His eyes finding the picture frame that held the image of his wife and his late son Hunter. He had always admired how proud he had looked in his brand new uniform. What a handsome young man he had been.
“Sir, we have a situation here.” The disembodied voice came over the office’s speaker system.
“What kind of situation, Lieutenant?” Tanner asked impatiently. He had learned that the enemy had infiltrated his very home. Without warning his nightmare had become deadly reality, shattering the recent tranquility of his life. His family he loved so deeply was at risk. The last thing he needed now were people losing their heads.
“Earth Security Forces have taken up position and are preventing us from entering the house.”
“It would appear that way, sir.”
Tanner looked up. His daughter had appeared just inside his office. “Jas, what are you doing here?”
“Dad, please, you don’t understand. They are not a threat to anybody. They are–“
“I will not have this conversation with you. You let me do my job.”
“Sir, what are your orders?”
“Lieutenant, I want you to acquire the subjects by any means necessary. They represent a clear and present danger to Earth security.”
Jasmine took a few steps towards her father. “They don’t! They really don’t. They mean no harm.”
“You stay out of this. You cannot possibly understand–“
“No, it’s you who doesn’t understand!” she shouted, almost in tears now.
“Sir, I am not certain how you want us to proceed,” the voice of the lieutenant interrupted. “The Security Forces are armed.”
“Damn it, Lieutenant! Engage and secure the subjects.”
“Sir, you want us to fire upon them?” he asked, not able to hide the surprise in his voice.
“You can’t do that!” Jasmine cried, tears beginning to fill her eyes.
“What part of this order don’t you understand!” the admiral yelled and brought down his fist hard against the wooden desk, causing the picture frame to topple over. “I gave you a direct order.”
“Sir, with all due respect, I don’t think I can follow that order.”
“Then I will find somebody who can.”
Jasmine moved swiftly around the desk and reached out for the admiral but he simply shoved her away.
“Sir, Admiral Owens is here to see you,” announced a female voice over the intercom.
“Not now,” barked Querby.
But the admiral had already entered his office and quickly proceeded to Querby’s desk. Anger written all over his face. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Tanner?”
“You can’t let him do this, sir,” Jasmine said, sitting in a corner, sobbing.
Owens looked at her for a moment before he turned back to the rear admiral.
“We have to do something. They’re in my home! Don’t you understand?”
Owens stared at Tanner’s empty eyes.
“You know what they can do. You know what they did to me. To so many of us. They took my son and now they’ve come back to finish what they started,” Tanner’s voice lost conviction with every word he spoke. He dropped down into his chair. “They’ve come to take the rest of my family.”
Jasmine stood up and slowly approached her father. Her sadness and frustration replaced by pity.
“This is Admiral Owens. Lieutenant, stand down and await further orders.” Owens directed his attention to Jasmine. “Don’t worry I’ll take care of this situation. I think you should help your father. He’ll need you now.”
Jasmine nodded and assisted Tanner onto his feet.
“You’re making a mistake, a damn mistake,” Tanner Querby mumbled as his daughter led him to the exit.
Owens watched them silently as they stepped out of the office.
Office of the Secretary-General of the United Earth Government New York City, New York [Earth] 1009 FST – March 12
“I don’t understand, Commander, it has been two days now. Where are they?” asked Yan Quin.
The Chef of Staff was looking at the face of Admiral Owens’ adjutant on a large screen, embedded at the far wall of the office. The brunette woman had not been very forthcoming.
“I’m afraid there is not much more I can tell you, sir.”
“This is not good enough. You can’t simply keep them away. They were my friends,” Jasmine, who sat next to Quin, almost shouted, no longer able to sit by quietly.
The commander gave the young woman a small nod. “Keeping them away is not our intention. As you know they were being examined at a local hospital and then … disappeared.”
“Disappeared?” Quin asked skeptically. “I find that hard to believe.”
“I’m afraid so. We are of course extremely worried about this as well. If their intentions should be hostile–“
“They are not,” Jasmine interrupted. “They are peaceful and friendly. I don’t believe for a second that they left willingly.”
“I want to assure you Miss Querby, as well as United Earth, that Starfleet will fully investigate this matter and we will contact you as soon as we have learned of their whereabouts. Starfleet Command out.”
Her image disappeared from the view screen.
Jasmine stared at the blank viewer with disbelief. She turned to Quin. “They can’t get away with this. What do we do now?”
Yan Quin leaned back in his chair, a heavy sigh coming over his lips. “I’m afraid there is little we can do.”
Starfleet R&D, Maximum Security Facility X874-1 Undisclosed Location 1009 FST – March 12
“What is your name?”
The former drone was strapped to an examination chair, facing a large mirror in a white, sterile looking room. Sitting at her side was a man wearing a white lab coat.
“What was your designation?”
“Four of Eight, Quaternary Adjunct of Uni-Matrix Zero-Six.”
“What is your age?”
“Sixteen years, three months.”
“What is your birth name?”
“What name did your parents give you?” he asked more insistently.
“Elizabeth … I think.”
The man nodded. “What is your name now?”
Four cocked her head. “You already stated that question.”
The interrogator leaned forward in his chair, a wicked smile on his lips. “Let’s start over then.”
A woman and a man, both clad in black suits, watched the interrogation with great scrutiny through the two-way mirror in the adjacent room.
“How much longer are we going to do this?” the woman asked.
“As long as it takes,” the man replied without taking his eyes off Four’s face. “As long as it takes.”