CHAPTER 57 OF THE PHOENIX AND THE WOLVERINE.
(I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO XMEN, BATTLE STAR GALACTICA OR STAR TREK! PLEASE ENJOY!)
17minutes and 52 seconds ago…
Laura frowned as she watched the shuttle depart. She could not help but worry, that what they were going to find on the mysterious planet was going to result in some people not returning.
"How long will it take for them to reach the surface?" asked Sharon.
"Approximately twelve to fourteen minutes," said Laura. "Let's head to the bridge and watch."
Both of them left the shuttle bay.
While on the way to the bridge. Young Hera kept making cute baby faces at Laura and Sharon.
Laura couldn't help but smile. If Hera's mutant ability was to make people love her, then she was off to a good start.
A beep sound from her X-combage had her tapping on it.
"What's up team?"
Sharon raised an eyebrow at Laura's non-chalant tone. If only she knew the worry that hid beneath it.
"Hi Laura, it's me, Q here." Said the hologram in a cheerful tone. "You at the bridge yet?"
The turbo-lift doors opened. "We just got here."
"Awesome! Check out the view-screen."
The view screen changed from showing the planet to showing the pilot cabin of raptor two.
Q Junior had a big smile on his face while in a cramped space with a grim looking Rogers, a curious Helo and a nervous but excited Tyrol.
Sharon gasped with joy at seeing her husband while Hera squealed with joy.
"By that sound from Hera; I can tell it's working."
"Like a charm," said Laura in a dry tone. Q Junior always seemed so excited whenever he did something new, especially when it involved tech. That made him so likable and a bit annoying at times.
Still, she wouldn't change anything about him even if she had a chance to.
Then his smile dimmed a bit. "The real test is when we hit the surface. I have connected the Xavier view screen via the shuttle to all our combages."
Q Junior had distributed x-combages to all the colonials as well.
"The resulting images will be uploaded to Xavier's main computer before being merged into a 2-D format so that you can see everywhere and everyone."
Laura was impressed. "Outstanding Q, once again."
Q Junior beamed at her praise. "See you all soon."
"Be careful please," said Sharon.
"We'll be fine." Said Helo with a brave smile.
Laura kept silent; while hoping that for once her gut twisting was not a sign of ominous things to come.
For the next twelve minutes she and Sharon sat in silence as they watched the ride down to the surface. Once they reached the atmosphere, Xavier almost lost the signal. However, Q modified the settings on his ipadd and images became clearer.
Sharon placed a sleepy Hera into her hovering pram, then settled into the seat beside Laura to keep watching.
Laura sat forward in the command chair when the raptor stopped moving. They must have landed.
It didn't take long for them to exit the crafts and walk towards the Number Six and golden centurion.
"What do you know of Natalie Faust?" asked Laura.
Sharon shook her head. "Not much. The Sixes kept to themselves, mostly because they were a covert branch."
"Didn't want to take risks, I take it?" said Laura.
Laura hated dealing with unknowns. She was about to ask another question when Ellen Tigh showed up.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding," hissed Laura while Sharon was speechless.
Then everything went to Hell.
They almost lost visual when the lightening tentacles grabbed Logan and slammed him hard on the rocky ground, before going after Jean and the grabbing Natalie Faust, Six and Kara.
Laura and Sharon were soon on their feet as they watched Oma try to get the tentacles before she was dragged into the mini-singularity.
"By the Gods no!" gasped Sharon while Laura felt her heart go cold. She almost stopped breathing when Q junior and the gold centurion dived into the singularity.
"I have to go down there."
Sharon turned to her in shock. "You…."
Laura was waiting for her to say the second word 'can't' but the female cylon was frozen in place.
"Sharon? Are you okay?"
"Oh. She's absolutely fine." Said a feminine voice behind Laura.
It took everything not to pop her claws. Laura always wanted to be up close and personal before eliminating any threat.
She turned slowly to face a slim dark-haired, attractive woman who was in the red and black uniform of a Starfleet Admiral.
"Who are you?"
The woman's smile reminded Laura of Q Junior for some reason.
"I'm Lady Q, Q Junior's mother."
Laura's eyes widened. Her gut told her this being was not lying. She knew she was not human, there were too many things off about her.
Lady Q raised an eyebrow. "You do have brains after all." The female Q walked around the bridge as if inspecting the vessel.
"I must say that I didn't expect you and your parents to work this well together."
Laura's eyes narrowed. "What do you want?"
Lady Q stopped and smiled at Laura. "You don't dispute that Dr Jean Grey is not your biological mother…because you have adopted her as such. That is quite…human of you."
While Laura couldn't tell if that was a compliment or not, she didn't feel insulted but her instinct warned her to thread very carefully with Q's mum.
"Excuse me, but is there a reason for you being here?'
Lady Q beamed. "I must say that Admiral Janeway's teaching on diplomacy is paying off. I half expected you to attack me head on without listening to me. Oh, don't worry about the time; I did a time freeze for us to have a little chat."
Laura waited while counting to ten.
Lady Q seemed to struggle with laughter then shook her head before resuming a serious expression that was similar to the one Admiral Janeway had during her one to one tutoring.
"You are right, you do have to go down there because of your particular set of skills."
Laura felt a familiar, cold, detached feeling come over her. The feeling that she always got when she was sent on an assassination mission.
"Who are you sending me to kill?"
Lady Q sighed. "Why so melodramatic? It's not an assassination but a rescue mission."
The cold, desolate feeling disappeared. Laura was now puzzled.
"Rescue? I wasn't created for rescue missions."
"But you've done two so far. The disastrous one on Hera's planet which got you and Q Junior captured and almost blown out an airlock…"
Laura winced. "Oh, that one…"
"And a second mission which was successive when you convinced your father to let you join his team in raiding a basestar." Lady Q's eyes glittered with mischief. "So, are you in?"
Laura answered without hesitation. "Definitely."
Lady Q smiled. "Splendid." She snapped her fingers and both of them disappeared and reappeared in the med bay beside a table which had three objects.
Before Laura had time to recover Lady Q pointed at the table. "For your mission you will only be allowed to take two of the three.
One is a backpack containing water and small energy bars; the second is a med kit containing two tricorders; three hyposprays, a dermal and an osteo-replicator and the third but certainly not the least is the Type 3D phaser rifle that my son seems quite fond of. What are your choices?"
Laura stared at the three objects. On a good day, she would take all three but she suspected this was a test.
"What intel can you give me about what is going on down there?"
Lady Q gave her a thoughtful look. "The singularity led to the underground base and they were dropped off at different locations."
Laura waited for more info. But the Q kept silent. "Any hostiles?"
"Considering how they were taken and that three combined centurion and cylon teams are missing? What do you think?"
Laura scolded herself for her own stupid question. "Got it, so there are definitely hostiles."
Lady Q watched her and waited.
Laura reached out for the backpack and the medikit.
Lady Q whistled. "You didn't go for the phaser rifle, even though I mentioned it was a fave toy of my son. May I ask why?"
Laura looked at her. "Considering how they were taken, it's likely some of them may be hurt. I have no idea how deep underground they are, so water and energy bars are required in case it will take us a while to get out and as for weapons…" her voice went grim. "I am a weapon."
Lady Q nodded and tapped her nose. "If you survive this, I have a feeling Starfleet Intelligence is gonna come a-recruiting." She snapped her fingers before Laura could reply and they were back on the bridge.
"Oh, I would hide those somewhere, so that Sharon doesn't realize something doesn't add up."
Laura quickly shoved her gear into a cupboard, while figuring out how to get Xavier to reverse the emergency beam down so that she gets right up close to the singularity.
"So, any questions before you beam down to the surface using Q Junior's emergency reverse beaming algorithm?"
Laura froze. Had she just read her mind?
"I didn't have to my dear; your face said it all."
Laura stared at her. "Why are you doing this? I thought the Q were not supposed to help Junior on this."
Lady Q tilted her head. "Why didn't you lead with that question earlier?"
"Because, I'm not stupid. I needed your intel before I pissed you off."
Lady Q stared at her then laughed. "Oh, you are a delight! Now, back to your question. The 'person'…" Q pronounced the word as if she had just found something disgusting beneath her shoe. "…who started this whole mess, has been cheating. It's high time I threw a wrench into the mix."
Laura opened her mouth.
"I can't tell you who…not yet anyway. Now, prepare yourself and I will ensure you get set down right beside that mini-wormhole."
Laura knew she wouldn't get anything else. "Thanks for your help Lady Q."
Lady Q beamed at her. "Good luck and please, don't die." She snapped her fingers and disappeared.
"…can't!" continued Sharon. Laura closed her eyes briefly as she tried to focus on the mission at hand.
"I told pops that if anything went wrong that I would come for them." Laura went to the cupboard and pulled out the backpack and the medikit. She shoved the small kit into the backpack.
"What is that?" asked a worried Sharon.
"Emergency gear in case things went south, which we both just witnessed."
"Laura, I should go down and not you…" started the female cylon.
"Sharon, Hera needs you and we also need you to watch Baltar," cut in Laura gently. "I was trained for this, please let me do my job."
The female cylon looked torn and guilty.
You need to get moving child. Said Lady Q's voice in her mind.
Laura glanced around, wondering if the female Q was still on the bridge.
"What's wrong?" asked Sharon.
Laura smiled tightly as she walked into the turbolift. "Nothing, I'm heading to the transport room. Please, give me at least five minutes and then let them know I'm on my way."
Sharon stared at her as the doors closed. "Why aren't you telling them first?"
It was mere seconds after Laura left that it clicked. Sharon sighed and rubbed her forehead. "Of course, she knows the captain or Dr Grey will order her to stay back here so, she's leaving without hearing it. Damn, Laura you better be okay." But Sharon wasn't planning on waiting five minutes, she hit her x-combadge.
And now, back to the present crisis…
Jean was trying very hard to hide the panic attack that was this close to affecting her ability to function.
But the major problem was that it wasn't her having the panic attack.
It was the Phoenix.
It…it can't be! It should not exist in this universe! I was the only one…I am the only ONE!
Jean tried to soothe the force within her but it was like trying to fight a hurricane.
When the anomaly first formed, Phoenix as usual had been curious and had poked at it before Jean could tell her to be careful and then Jean felt the Phoenix go catatonic.
That was when Jean knew that whatever was within that small grey cloud was extremely dangerous.
She had tried to warn them all to get back before the attack started. It had been both a physical and mental attack. The Phoenix ran away screaming and Jean had to handle the lightening tentacles on her own. For the first time in her life, Jean had been truly alone in her head.
And she had hated it.
Jean had felt heartfelt relief when the Phoenix returned after the bluish electric forcefield had sprung up. But since then, the Phoenix had been babbling like it was on the edge of a mental breakdown.
No, no, no. Jean was so not going to let that happen. The Phoenix could kill everyone!
It…it felt me. What in all the cosmos was is it doing here? How in the Multiverse did it get here?!
Jean had no idea what the Phoenix was talking about, though she was just as curious and terrified by whatever had scared the force within her. However, that last frantic question from the Phoenix made her realize that whatever had attacked them was a new player. Certainly not cylon or human.
Please, stay calm, we will talk in detail when we both have some free time. To her relief, the Phoenix retreated to the back of Jean's mind…as if taking refuge. While that strange behavior was concerning, Jean had another very important matter to attend to.
"We need to talk to the XO," said Dr Grey in an urgent tone. They all looked at her. "The cylons didn't plan this, whatever did this targeted both our groups. We need to stop Mr Saul Tigh before he starts shooting the wrong people."
Lee nodded, a grim look on his face. He was staring at the XO who was still gaping at the singularity. "Let me do the talking. Tyrol, see what you can do about disabling that fence."
"Yes sir," the chief engineer was already moving towards the fence.
"Rogers," called Lee and Logan at the same time. Both men looked at each other. Logan nodded his head and motioned for Lee to continue.
"Contact the Xavier and see if they have any ideas. We just lost our best engineer to the wormhole." Ordered Lee.
"We'll get them back," said Logan in a grave tone.
"And sir?" asked Rogers as he wanted for his own command from the mutant captain.
"Once, you're done speaking with the Xavier; I will need you with us as we speak to whoever is now in charge of the cylons."
"May the Gods help us all," said Lee.
"Amen," said a pissed off Logan before they moved off to their individual goals.
Saul kept staring at the singularity. He had no logical explanation for what had just happened. Part of him wanted to jump back to the colonial fleet and drink himself to stupor but the other part was just tired of being scared all the frakking time.
"Mr Tigh?" He was relieved to hear Lee's voice. He turned to face the younger officer and noticed Dr Grey standing beside him. They both looked tired however their eyes were clear and focused.
Whatever was behind this anomaly had targeted Logan and Dr Grey first because they were the heavy hitters in this alliance. It was sobering that something else already knew how effective these particular mutants were in eliminating dangerous foe.
"I see Captain Howlett is up and about. I would almost thank the Gods if I was a believing man."
Dr Grey smiled wanly. "Thanks for your kind words."
Lee nodded as if he had something else on his mind. "Mr Tigh we have to talk about Ellen."
The shock and pain came flooding back. Ellen Tigh lying in his arms lifeless as he sobbed over her corpse. He had poisoned her when the Resistance found out she was an informant.
Then a stray thought caught his attention. Why were they discussing this in-front of Dr Grey?
"Is this really the time to do so Commander?" Saul could not help but sound hostile.
Lee was not fazed. "Yes, it is. We need to work with the cylons to find out what in Hades is going on."
Saul stared at the younger officer. Wasn't he the one that was yelling earlier that he would only work with the cylons over his own dead body? Saul suddenly felt eyes on him and knew his supposedly dead wife was watching them.
"What if it is an elaborate trick that the cylons did? Put my wife's face on some skin-job to make me lose my marbles?"
Lee's face was grim. "And if it is not a trick?"
Saul felt his heart drop. It took a while before he could find the words. "And…and then that would mean…that she is a…" He could bring himself to say the word 'cylon'. A part of him was wondering why Lee was so accepting of such a hideous fact. Something didn't add up; but Saul was too distraught to think clearly. He looked at Dr Grey and was stunned to see her eyes were filled with compassion.
Then he recalled the confession he made to a tormented Novacek about killing Ellen. The whole Xavier crew had been listening at the time.
Did the entire universe know he was an utter failure?!
The female mutant stepped forward, as if sensing his inner turmoil.
"Why don't we three speak to them together? I'm sure between the three of us, we will get some answers." Her voice was gentle.
Lee Adama nodded and then looked at Saul as if waiting for him to reply.
Saul stared at Dr Grey as an idea began to take root. There was that dark part of her that had scared the shit outta him and a lot of hardened marines.
"You're going to use your abilities on them, right?" He sure hoped so, because he was this close to murdering the cylons.
Dr Grey smiled tightly at him. "Something like that."
"Come in Xavier," called Roges after tapping his X-combage. He was currently beside the shuttle, while trying not to think of what Oma must be going through in the bowels of this planet. Was she alive? Was she badly hurt? Were the others alive?
"Rogers! Is that you?" He was relieved to hear Sharon's voice then he realized it was filled with panic.
"Sharon, are you okay?"
"We're fine, but we just saw what happened down there? Is Helo okay?"
"He is unharmed but the others were grabbed by…. something." Rogers wanted to destroy whatever was behind those tentacles.
"Listen up, Laura is on her way down to you. I think she's going to try to get into the underground structure on her own."
Roger's looked upwards in horror. "That wasn't part of the plan!"
"You better warn the others, she just teleported off the Xavier!"
Rogers had peeled away from the shuttle was already running towards Captain Logan and the others.
Boomer was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. What the frak just happened?
What was that anomaly that had grabbed two of her cylon brethren and Starbuck and the Earth soldier? And why the frak had the cylon child and Red One dived in after them?
"Boomer, are you alright?" the concerned voice of Ellen Tigh snapped Boomer back to the present.
The older cylon female had taken charge once the 'attack' stopped. Boomer had found herself staring at the grey anomaly, terrified that another onslaught was coming.
Boomer blinked as she tried to focus on the here and now, no matter how terrifying it was.
"Yes…yes, I'm okay but…" her voice trailed off when she realized a small group was approaching them from the colonial side.
"Ellen, keep your mouth shut and let me do the talking." To her relief, the older cylon didn't argue.
Directly approaching her was Captain Logan while to the left were XO Saul Tigh, CAG Adama and Dr Jean Grey. Of them all, Boomer feared Logan and Dr Grey. She had been convinced that the captain of the Xavier was dead when he was pounded into the ground by the tentacles, but he woke up with a roar that she could still hear. To her astonishment, Captain Logan had been able to shake off an attack that could have broken a cylon in two. As for Dr Jean Grey…Boomer was yet to explain how the female medic had been able to shake off those tentacles!
What the frak were those things?
She had to return to the present because the four had stopped at least six feet from her. They stared at each other.
Boomer tried to go for a smile but it felt like she was grimacing.
"Are you all well?"
Lee frowned as if suspicious of the question. Dr Grey tilted her head as she studied Boomer and Ellen Tigh. Saul was glaring at his wife. That was to be expected.
"We are doing okay, thanks for asking," said Logan. "Do you have anyone that needs to be seen to? We can help." Saul turned his glare at Logan and the captain of the Xavier ignored him.
Boomer stared at him, stunned by his offer of help. "I think we're doing okay as well; the tentacles didn't take any more of us."
Logan nodded, his face darkening as if thinking of the people snatched on his side. "We're planning on getting into the structure once we find a way past the barrier…"
"Captain Logan!" shouted a blond colonial who was running towards the group. Boomer's heart rate picked up when she saw the panic of his face. What now? Logan frowned as he turned to face the colonial.
The colonial officer started talking before he reached them. "I just got in touch with the Xavier, Laura is beaming down!" Boomer saw the annoyance on Logan's face turn into fear. Not for himself; but for someone close to him.
Logan cursed. "Oh hell! Where's she beaming down to?" He hit his x-shaped badge on his uniform. "Xavier, come in dammit!"
"Logan," called Jean in a concerned voice. "It's too late, she's already beamed down…on the other side of the blue fence!" The medic took off running and the others followed her. Boomer and Ellen shared a look and took off after them.
Laura barely had time to say energize before she disappeared from the transporter pads. She suspected Lady Q had something to do with that. One, she was in the transporter room, and the next she was behind a blue electric fence and at least ten feet on the left side of the singularity.
"That's your entry point, my dear." Laura stared at Lady Q in shock. She hadn't expected Q's mother to follow her down!
The female Q snorted. "Don't worry, I'm not following you into the singularity. That would be too much interference. I'm here to talk to your parents." Now, Laura was alarmed.
"You can't…you're gonna freak the colonials and cylons out!"
Lady Q smiled gently at her. "That's the whole point; the sooner those two groups work together, the better their chances of survival."
"Laura!" yelled a familiar voice. Laura sighed.
"He's gonna be so pissed."
Logan reached the blue fence first. His eyes widened when he saw Lady Q in an admiral's uniform.
"I better get going," said Laura as she walked towards the floating singularity. Panic appeared on Logan's face.
"Laura! Don't go! You don't know what is down there." Jean had reached him and was now staring at the silent Lady Q. The colonials showed up along with the cylons who looked just as confused.
"The others need help pops, they could be hurt bad…and according to Lady Q, it looks like I'm the only one that can reach them," Laura cast a glance at Lady Q, she turned back and noticed her father's narrowed eyes. Good. He had caught her silent message.
Logan's eyes narrowed. "Laura, I'm telling you to stand down."
Laura sighed but before she could say a word, a tentacle suddenly lashed out and grabbed the teen mutant.
"No!" screamed Logan and Jean at the same time. For a moment; they saw a look of fear appear on Laura's face, then she closed her eyes and went limp as she was dragged into the singularity.
"Laura!" yelled Logan as she disappeared. Jean covered her mouth as she tried not to lose it.
Lady Q turned to face them and walked through the blue electric field to the other side to the shock of everyone watching. Even Logan and Jean took a step back.
Lady Q smiled brightly. "I am the emergency backup to Xavier's EMEH, my designation is Lady Q. How may I help you today?"
Logan was somewhere between rage and disbelief. He took a step towards the 'Lady Q' but Saul Tigh spoke first.
"What the frak is going on here? Who the Hades is this person?"
"She's a hologram," said Jean in an oddly calm voice. Logan saw Lee shot Jean a suspicious look.
"You look surprised to see her," said the CAG. Meanwhile Boomer and Ellen were staring at the hologram as if witnessing a miracle.
"Of course, she is," said Lady Q. "This is the first time I have been activated."
"Why were you activated?" asked Ellen breathlessly. Saul Tigh glared at his supposedly dead wife.
"Don't answer her!"
Logan felt it was time he took control of the situation. "I also want to know why you're appearing now." He could barely keep his tone even. His instinct told him to thread carefully around this Q. He knew she was no hologram
Lady Q tilted her head and studied him for a moment, then nodded as if she knew what he was thinking. "In the event, that Q Junior was incapacitated, fail-safes were built in to ensure the safety of the Xavier crew."
Rogers went pale. "Is Q…dead?"
Lady Q glanced at him. "Incapacitated doesn't always mean terminated…however, his disappearance into that singularity was concern enough for my activation."
"Then, why didn't you go in with the young girl?" asked Boomer.
Good fucking question, thought Logan who was still simmering with rage.
Lady Q smiled gently at Boomer as if she was a simpleton. "Unlike Q Junior, I'm not really here." She demonstrated by fading in and out, then resumed a clearer image. "And, thus, it will be impossible for me to render Ensign Kinney any aid in the underground structures of this planet."
Saul frowned. "That seems pretty fraking inconvenient, so what use are you of anyway?"
Lady Q's smile was a mite colder when she looked at the colonial XO. "You see, I'm a much older version of Q Junior…you may consider me his mother."
Lee went extremely pale while Rogers seemed intrigued. Boomer's smile was so full of wonder that Logan was expecting her to spontaneously combust. Ellen just stared at Lady Q and moved closer to the 'hologram'.
It took a moment before Logan realized what the female cylon was up to.
"Wait…" but Ellen reached out to touch Lady Q's forearm and gasped when her hand went right through her.
Lady Q smiled at the older female cylon. "As I said, I'm a much older model." Then she turned to Logan. "Captain, I await your orders."
Logan stared at her, then Jean's voice spoke in his mind. "Be careful with her Logan, I don't think she means any harm but we can't afford to piss her off."
"She sent Laura down there!"
"Indeed, she did, but her son is down there as well. For her to intercede may mean things are worse than we realized." That gave Logan pause. He closed his eyes briefly.
"All right, Lady Q, I need you to help Tyrol figure out how to bring this fence down."
Lady Q nodded meekly and that didn't fool Logan for a second. "Understood captain."
"I'll accompany you…" began Jean as the CAG also spoke.
"I'll come with…"
Logan stared at Lee and knew the CAG was highly suspicious of Lady Q's hologram. If only the poor colonial officer knew what really stood before him. Lee would probably shit his pants.
"Fine, whatever. Just get it done," said an exasperated Logan. The three moved off and he wasn't surprised to see Ellen attempt to follow them before Boomer stopped her.
"We'll have time for that later."
The number eight cylon turned to Logan, Saul Tigh and Rogers. The cunning look in her eyes made Logan wary.
"So, Q Junior, he's not a cylon child, is he?" asked Boomer suddenly. Rogers and Saul stared at her, while Logan simply watched.
"What the frak gave you that idea?" asked Saul.
Boomer smiled triumphantly. "Lady Q called herself an 'older model' who is just a hologram. We have watched the videos of Q Junior repeatedly and he carried and fired a weapon and physically manipulated the interface on board the basestar to sabotage the ship."
"Is there a point to all this?" asked Logan.
Boomer laughed softly. "Oh, there is. Q Junior is no cylon; he's a centurion and you, Dr Grey, Laura and that strange while haired girl that disappeared are cylons...like us."
Logan stared at her. Here we fucking go again.