*Episode 1-3: To Infinity & Beyond

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OOC Date: April 23, 2011
IC Date: February 6, 2128

Testing of the black hole communications relay commences, giving the crew of the EAV Genesis its first look at what lies beyond the wormhole. The ship follows, crossing over 500 billion light years in the blink of an eye. There, on the far side of the Corona Borealis Supercluster, the ship finds itself on the heels of a 5 ship fleet of Devourers caught in a mortal engagement with a pair of Parasite ships.

The EAV Genesis - Bridge

A multileveled, half circle room serves as the ship's bridge and central command point. The door is built into the center of the flat side of the half circle, and the first level of the room runs the edges much like a capital D. Three steps lead down to the second level, the 'hole' of that D, and a railing separates the two except where intersected by steps.

The upper level of the bridge contains all of the communications, scanning, science and navigation systems, each station set with a swivel chair for the crew member that mans it. At the center of the arcing wall of the half circle room is a plasma screen that curves with the contour of the wall itself, that screen massive, serving as a view port for whatever view is called up.

The lower, central level of the bridge contains navigation, piloting and weapons, at the center of which is the Captain's chair. Each station is also set with a swivel chair, the Captain's being the largest, for when the bridge is actively manned by the crew. The lighting in this room is bright, though not so bright as the corridor outside, and the room is carpeted in the black and green of the Earth Alliance.

The black hole in a box having been determined to likely be a communications device allowing for the instant broadcast of a message to any fixed point, it has been equipped onto Shuttle One to use the shuttle as a forward observer for the wormhole. If Monoko has calculated correctly, no matter how far the wormhole goes or how far away the other end might be, the shuttle should be able to send an instant update on its location in surroundings from the other side.

Now it is time to put the theory to the test.

"Launch when ready," Ramesh states. The shuttle has a pre-programmed set of orders to allow it to operate unmanned. On the display screen of the bridge, the wormhole is now visible - a passive black hole that does not draw anything and everything into it, but simply waits like a tear in the universe.

This is sort of like playing with a toy plane, if each screw were worth a few million pounds. Ben-Haim has been here for some time before the launch was set to go, fussing with the program meant to launch the shuttle in question — so when Ramesh gives the order, the Genesis' soft-spoken pilot is just a few keystrokes away from complying. "Aye, sir." Buttons light up on the flat panel, a sequence initiated as his fingers tap over them. "Initiated. And launching in three…two…one."

Word of the test has been passed around, as has word of arrival at the wormhole. Commander Eisley has turned out for the test, grimness contained and locked down tight. Now, as the test is initiated, she settles into her seat opposite the Captain's chair and sets her hands to curl over the arms of that seat, knuckles tightened down to near-whiteness. When Ramesh gives the go order she glances his way, mouth thinning into a fine, white line, but she soon wets her lower lip and clears that expression away.

Dominic stands at the security station, making final preparations before launch. At the Captain's orders to launch, he makes sure to watch the scans around their area in case someone decides to crash the party. Upon the launch of the shuttle, he presses a few buttons to begin recording the sensor readings coming from the smaller craft so he can review the readings himself at a later time. He seems genuinely excited about seeing if Monoko was correct in her theory.

Cohen arrives, wearing her standard Naval uniform. With her hair pulled back into a nearly skin-stretchingly tight bun, she appears all business… except for the somewhat sunken eyes that have turned red and puffy. Standing off to the side stiffly, she looks over the other personnel that comprise more people than she has seen in a single room since she was thawed out yesterday morning. She seems to be waiting for orders, not entirely certain why she, a Hydroponics Technician, was sent here.

Naturally, Illyanna has parked herself on the bridge for this little test, in the workstation Eisley has authorized for her… complete a bank of seven monitors around it. She's probably the only one not looking at the main viewscreen, but rather the ones in front of her. "Boost real-space signal on Shuttle-One for continuous data feed, Boris." She says in the background while tapping the various touchscreens and keyboards. "Hey Mono, you seeing this?" She adds into a comlink somewhere.

Holtz hasn't had much time to get fully up to date on what's going on, given that he was only recently unfrozen. He still looks the part, too; there's still a bit of stiffness in his walk and haggardness on his expression. Though, for as much as anyone else on the bridge knows, that could just be how he looks all the time. He's come up to the bridge for this test despite his current state, however, and for the moment has his gaze fixed on the viewscreen.

Yin looks for all the world like a very professional yeoman. Standing slightly behind the main group with a pen and legal pad in her hands, she's taking diligent notes in her clean, methodical script. Her eyes periodically flick from the status monitors on the communications station to the various personnel gathered here in the bridge — as if she's evaluating them as well.

The black, egg shaped shuttle can be seen streaking out into the display on a straight course for the wormhole. In a matter of seconds, that floating drain in space seems to swallow it up. Just like that, the shuttle is gone.

Now comes the moment of truth. Once the shuttle has lost contact with the Genesis, it's been programmed to immediately send back a signal to both declare that it is still functional and verify that the black hole communications device works as anticipated.

On the bottom of the display screen, a single blinking cursor comes to life. 'Shuttle One online. Broadcasting signal.'

The display changes now, a point of view display from the shuttle as it traverses the wormhole. Outside of the shuttle, reality warps and twists all around it like a tunnel in a madhouse of science.

"I see it," Monoko replies over the com unit. "We have contact, Captain. The communications device is a success."

Even he probably wasn't aware that he was holding his breath, but when the shuttle display comes online and Monoko confirms it, Captain Ramesh exhales a sigh of relief. They won't have to fly blind into the wormhole, after all. "Fascinating," he murmurs quietly at the video link, at the sight of the wormhole from the inside.

That same exhale of breath is shared by Commander Eisley, who lets out what she'd been holding in a careful exhalation. Some of the tension lets up on the arms of her chair, and though she does not relax, even a little, she does sit up straight out of the subtle forward lean acquired sometime in the last breathless moments between the shuttle's launch and its disappearance into the rift. "…we're two for three," she observes.

Dominic's smile quickly turns into a grin and he gets a satisfied look on his face as he lets out a sigh of relief as the shuttle successfully transmits back to the ship. At least they won't be going through it completely blind. He leans forward towards his screen, trying to see if there are any visitors, but then turns back to look at the screen with a look of amazement at the sight of inside the wormhole. His eyes glance down towards the Captain and the XO for a moment before looking back up to the screen.

Illyanna stops fussing over her various touchscreens and keyboards for a moment, staring at the one monitor that mirrors the bridge's main viewscreen. "Whoa." She says succinctly - even the child prodigy is impressed, but she quickly goes back into operational mode. "Tune CK tune by 0.02 MHz." And then she goes back to some rapid-fire typing on one of the keyboards.

Standing silent as a mouse, Cohen may as well be part of the furniture for the time being. She watches the launch with interest, if not any particular anticipation. The return signal is met with the same neutral expression as all the rest. In fact, she seems rather more interested in studying her comrades than the screen for the time being.

Neat Chinese characters appear between college-ruled lines from top to bottom, right to left; Yin writes and writes and writes some more. As the communications stream seems to be working just fine, she concentrates instead on documenting the reactions of the rest of the crew — but that steely equanimity she tries so hard to project begins to crack when the wormhole opens up before her. Observant lookers-on might notice her right hand trembling as she writes, might see her lips open ever so slightly when her breath catches in her throat, might catch her dark eyes widening in a flash of child-like wonder.

Settled back in his seat, Ben-Haim's posture might be mistaken for nonchalance. If it weren't for the fact that his tense shoulders move a little bit with each breath, something not easily noticeable. His heavy-lidded eyes stay pinned on the viewscreen, watching the wormhole unfold without a word spoken. Their flight path, laid out before them. He swallows lightly, only then forcing his jaw to relax. It promptly tightens up again.

After a moment of traveling the wormhole, the display a bit bumpy from the disturbance of turbulence, the tunnel gives way to a view of the vast emptiness of space, lit by millions upon millions of stars. It's entirely unremarkable, in comparison to everything else that's been seen so far on this journey. It looks like space. Those who were expecting violent solar storms, little green men or anything else out of the ordinary are likely disappointed.

"Now," Ramesh muses, "To figure out where that is."

"Miss Shevchenko as the star maps from the parasite aliens, Captain," Monoko states over the com from engineering. "As soon as she locates it, you'll know."

Holtz leans forward, staring at the viewscreen with interest. The scientist part of his mind is hard at work as he watches the returns from the shuttle's video feed, and he has a hard time disputing the captain's sentiments. "Gott im Himmel," he mumbles softly, a sober but yet wondrous expression on his face as the ship traverses the wormhole. Things like this were part of what had brought him to his chosen field, after all. He steps forward, leaning on the nearby railing as he watches the video feed, though his eyes do occasionally flick to the information displayed in the other nearby readouts when Genesis' shuttle finally exits the passage.

"…and so we gain wings," murmurs Eisley, the words likely lost to anyone not very near to her. In just a moment she builds on a different thought, providing, "The Corona Borealis Supercluster, if that is where the parasites came from." This is not an observation that narrows the field very much, given the sheer size of the galaxies involved in this designation. But it is -something- just as there is certainly something on the screen, which she studies with a sort of rapt interest.

As the wormhole ends and the new stars fill the screen, Dominic's eyes open wide and his jaw drops slightly in utter amazement. "Wow." He says in a whisper, standing slowly from his seat at the station. His eyes scan over every inch of the screen before he moves back to his seat and looks back over the information that comes through from the shuttle, opening a screen that displays the same image that the large screen does.

Apparently, something has jolted Cohen's brain into action of a sort. She whispers something in Hebrew, gaze absolutely fixed on the screen now. A hint of wonder touches those brown eyes, breaking through the obvious mourning. Her shoulders relax a bit as the awe runs through her… or the exhaustion.

As the viewscreen clears up to show empty space, Illyanna continues to frantically type and tap on various screens. "There we go…." She murmurs along. "…cross reference signature against Xeno-star map file, Eleven." Why Eleven? Because all that data is stored there, isolated from Adam & Eve to avoid contamination; it's just a precaution than anything else. The custom-built tablet doesn't have the same computing power as Adam & Eve, so it takes a while to come up with something. "Holy sh…" Illyanna peers at the results, then turns in her chair towards the senior officers. "Captain, sir, the commander's right. The astro signature preliminarily matches a general location in the Corona Borealis Supercluster from the Xeno Star Map. It's… on the far end of the cluster from where the hermit crabs originated from." The map is on the screen on the tablet, if anyone wants to look at it.

"In a movie, this shuttle would explode," Yin observes ever so softly, her birdlike expression suddenly droll as she listens in. Meanwhile, she's finally made the switch to English: 'Corona Borealis Supercluster; far side.' Her left hand dances over her console, bringing up the relevant course projections so she can replicate them on her legal pad.

"Thank you, Miss Shevchenko," Ramesh replies.

The display view turns red as the shuttle's warning systems come online. The voice of Adam speaks out on the bridge, crisp and assertive. "The shuttle has picked up a total of seven vessels within range. Five of Devourer origin, two of Parasite origin. They appear to be engaged in combat. Awaiting further data."

Ramesh sits forward suddenly, his gaze narrowing. "Adam," he calls back, "Scan on this side of the wormhole for any disturbances. I want to know if those Devourers came through here, recently, or if they were already on the other side."

"Yes, Captain." A pause. "Trace readings in the vicinity suggest that the Devourer Fleet of five quite possibly traveled through here within the last day, Captain."

"Which means that there could be more coming. If we cloak, we lose contact with the shuttle. If we leave the area, we lose contact with the shuttle. If we sit here, we're sitting ducks." Captain Ramesh doesn't seem to like any of the options.

One of Ben-Haim's eyes narrows more than the other, as if the sudden shift in events had sparked a sudden headache. He unfolds his arms, his back making a soft protesting pop at being forced out of its tense position. "Sir," he speaks up, eyes flickering quickly to Ramesh. "If they detect that shuttle, is there a way they can trace our location here?"

It is likely reasons like this why Eisley never really relaxes when she's on duty. With this particular revelation she goes a little bit ashen, more gray than genuinely pale, and finally tilts her head slightly so that she can look at Dominic. Nothing is said; no real expression is offered. It is precious little more than a glance, a moment of terribly sober eye contact. Then she straightens again, attention sliding to the Captain. "Sir, we have already committed to this course of action. Pending further information from the shuttle's scanners, I would tentatively advise to proceed and act upon the element of surprise. It would be unfortunate if the Devourers were to follow us and gain a foothold on that side of the wormhole as well."

Dominic instinctively turns back towards the big screen as the alarms go off, looking at the screen for a few moments before he looks back towards the stations, getting his station ready for combat should the need arise. As Eisley speaks, he looks back over his shoulder towards her, but remains silent as he waits for the final decision as to what their course of action will be.

"Before we do that, sir. Excuse me." Now Yin speaks up, setting down her pen and paper so she can step forward and make herself seen. A hand winds her way through her shoulder-length hair, tugging on the ends while she speaks in her lilting accented English. "Three more questions must be considered. One: have we received any indication that our shuttle has been detected? Two: how likely is it that our cloaking device will hide our own ship from the enemy sensors? And three: can we instruct the shuttle to make course corrections remotely, or to shut down and then reactivate the navigation program installed on board? Also remotely."

Cohen lets out a slow breath as the crisis unfolds. Although she opens her mouth to speak at first, it seems Ben-Haim has already voiced her own thoughts. Instead, she nods once in his direction. Eisley's words send a chill through her body. After the others put in their ideas, she finally pipes up enough to ask, "Did not the Devourers… how do you say? Eh… chase the Givers despite their cloaking abilities?" Her accent is clearly Israeli, her quickly downcast eyes showing a bit of shame on that point.

"Adam," Ramesh calls, "Do we have any data on the current status of alien vessels? Do we know which are damaged, and how badly?"

"Yes, Captain. The shuttle scanners indicate that the two Parasite vessels are large, one is moderately damaged, the other only minorly so. The Devourer ships are all considerably smaller and have little damage at present. It appears as if the Parasites are holding back."

"Does Mr. Ben-Haim's question warrant concern, Adam?" asks Ramesh.

"I believe that only the Parasites have technology capable of tracing the black hole signal from the shuttle back to our current location."

"Mr. L'Anse," Ramesh begins, "I want you working with Adam and monitoring the defense protocols for combat. Commander, monitor the shields." He looks to Yin. "We have no way of controlling the shuttle from here. It's on its own. We can only receive information from it due to the black box communicator. As for your other questions, the shuttle doesn't seem to have been noticed quite yet, but it will be soon. Our cloaking device will probably hide us from the Devourers, but we have no idea it will work on the Parasites. Their technology is far superior." He looks to the pilot, now. "Mr. Ben-Haim. You're going to take us in manually and prepare for immediate evasive maneuvers. Mr. Holtz, if you would join Miss Shevchenko in monitoring the systems in case we take damage, I would be greatly appreciative."

Now that she's turned around in her chair, Illyanna is watching the main viewscreen now. The various people speaking now in light of the space battle on the other end of the wormhole is watched like a tennis match, her gaze going from person to person. She doesn't add anything, though, until the captain makes a decision. "Uhm, captain, sir?" Illyanna raises a hand tentatively. "If we're going to go through the wormhole into a fight, how about duplicating Shuttle-One's course code into a few thermonuclear warheads, and send those ahead of the Genesis to, uh… knock?"

Ben-Haim's eyes flicker to Cohen for a moment — but a precious brief one, as he's distracted right away by Adam's report and the Captain's order. "Aye, sir." His voice sounds slightly scratchy, repaired by a quick clearing of throat. He quickly scratches his cheek and sets hands to the panel in front of him, fingertips sweeping over various lights that come on. "Preparing for manual navigation." Through a wormhole. Into combat. "On your mark."

The lighting shifts to red all throughout the ship, Adam initiating battle protocols as Ramesh gives the preliminary orders. The Captain looks to his Commander. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend?" he ponders curiously. He lets the question linger for a moment, everything else set aside.

Eisley tilts her head, just so. "Aye, sir." She rises, vacating her current seat and moving to one of the defensive stations, settling in there with the same considerable stiffness otherwise expressed. One more glance is given to the field of distant stars displayed on the screen, blood-tinged though it might be, before she begins calling up the ship's shield displays on the smaller screen there. Ramesh's question merits only a shrug. "Your friend is your needs answered."

Dominic nods his head once as the Captain gives his order. "Aye, sir." He says before he turns back to his station. "Adam, link up and synchronize with this station and watch my back." He says to the computer as he types away at his console, making sure he has everything he might need should a battle ensue. He speaks to the computer just as he does any of the Marines under his command. He takes a deep breath and exhales audibly, glancing back towards the Commander for a brief moment before focusing on the screens before him. At Illyanna's words, he can't help but give a smirk and chuckle softly at the idea. "Ready here, Captain." He offers as a report.

"Launching nuclear weapons would be a terrible idea. And if you are suggesting what I think you are suggesting, Captain — " Yin straightens her back, looking directly at Ramesh. "Let me respectfully say that that would be a terrible idea as well. We should go in hidden, and we should only begin evasive maneuvers or fire weapons once we are in fact fired upon. With any luck, they will be too preoccupied with each other to notice our presence, at which point we can reevaluate our position accordingly. Otherwise we announce ourselves as a threat, to no apparent end." The woman hesitates ever so slightly. "Of course, sir, if that was your intent, I do apologize."

Cohen shakes her head at Ramesh's words. "Captain, with all due respect, do not count on it. In my country, the enemy of my enemy allied with its enemy to kill us. Often." She stays put, but looks to Eisley in anticipation of some kind of order. A quick sweep of the panels in the room tell her she is out of her league, yet her visage shows she is willing to do whatever it takes.

Holtz's brow furrows in alarm as Adam's disembodied voice sounds from the bridge speakers, and he straightens, his body tensing in alarm. When Yin asks her question, he turns to regard the petty officer. "The Devourers were able to track the Givers -" a quick nod to Avigail - "and they are known to possess more advanced technology than our own. We cannot assume the cloak is a perfect defense," he states with Teutonic certainty before nodding to the captain. "Aye," he responds. Taking the station next to Illyanna's, he looks at the woman. "Nuclear explosions are quite big, and the shuttle is quite small," he says in his heavy accent, his lips twisting slightly. "And if someone had failed to see the shuttle, they would not fail to miss that."

Nodding once to Eisley, Ramesh settles back in his seat with a look of calm determination. "The Devourers destroyed our home and are clearly following us," he states to the room at large. "Had we not briefly altered course to make it look like we were going to Tau Ceti, we would have been here yesterday, and quite likely met the Devourer Fleet head on. We have one race that we know to be hostile, the other is still a mystery, but that mysterious other is far superior to us technologically in every way. They are going to see us whether we want them to or not. Now," he pushes to his feet and clasps his hands at his back, his posture strong, confident. "I see an alien race outnumbered and surrounded by our known enemy, an alien race that could benefit us greatly if we were to befriend them. Your concerns have been noted, but unless the lot of you plan to depose me here and now, we're going through the wormhole and we're coming to the assistance of the outnumbered aliens and seeing if we can't make a friend for once."

Illyanna turns back to her own monitors then, but not before glancing over at her new station-mate, Holtz. "If a nuclear explosion blows up in their ugly faces, I sure hope they notice." /Somebody/ wants payback for Earth. Though she's not smiling, Illyanna actually gives Holtz a meaningful wink as she settles back to type frantically at a keyboard. "Natasha, establish secure interface with Eleven to access Xeno-database…. in case the hermit crabs wanna talk."

A row of green lights up on Ben-Haim's panel, the Genesis' powerful auto-pilot functions silently surrendering themselves into human hands. "Trust me," he murmurs in Hebrew to the glowing flat face. His tongue wet his dry lips and he glances at Ramesh out of the corner of his eye, watching the address to the crew.

Eisley runs her fingers over the controls, channeling power and preparing the kinetic energy cocoon for what might be the worst. All of this still as the Captain gets to his feet and she turns toward him, offering a ghostly sliver of a very sharp smile. "Let's give them hell, sir. Shields are online." Yes, even the ever-zen Commander is spoiling for this fight.

Which leaves it to Laurel to be the voice of running like hell. "Captain, this is a great risk," she says. "A noble risk, yes, but a great one nonetheless, because there are approximately one hundred thousand humans remaining in the galaxy." Yin holds the man's gaze as long as she can. "It is not a shame to be a coward. It is, in fact, a duty." Only then does the NCO step back to her station, her expression inscrutable. "But I am ready for your orders."

Dominic readies himself for the fight that lays before them, his eyes focused on the screens before him. His fingers stand poised to strike the moment the attack order is given.

A mirthless, dark smirk touches Cohen's lips at Illyanna's comment. Positioned close enough to her countryman to hear the man's words, the Ensign blinks once in surprise. A bit too airily, she asks in Hebrew, "Can I trust you enough to not have to say the Shema?" There is almost a relief to the tone as she finds a hint of familiarity on this insane voyage. Something to hold onto. Her voice is soft, seemingly by design or habit more than current conscious effort.

Holtz is barely watching the captain as he speaks to the bridge crew. Not important. "And keep telling yourself that when some Devourer fleet carves us into tiny pieces because someone had more balls than brains," he can't help but retort in Illyanna's direction, but his eyes are locked on his instruments the whole time. "Eva - " his accent pronounces the second 'e' in the computer's name - "link me with engineering," he says, already tapping commands into his keyboard.

Ben-Haim's eyes flicker up, finding Cohen standing there. "Well." His soft voice has a touch of dry self-deprecation, the corner of his mouth making a faint twitch. "You know what they say — there's no harm in a little insurance." His speech in Hebrew is quite different from in English, no longer hampered by the occasional fault in pronunciation or rhythm.

Ramesh looks to and listens to Yin, giving her the full weight of his attention and due consideration. When she finishes, he replies, "I am acutely aware of what this ship is carrying. The Devourers are clearly following us, and it's only by luck and Commander Eisley's suggestion of a detour that they haven't caught up with us already. The simple fact of the matter is, we're not going to escape them alone." Seeing that he isn't rushed by a mutinous crew, Ramesh nods once. "Miss Kurokawa, hand all flight controls over to Mr. Ben-Haim."

"Done," Monoko replies over the com.

"If everyone is ready, Adam, engage cloaking. The Parasites may be able to see through it, but let's find out if the Devourers can, or if they're following us by other means. Mr. Ben-Haim, I want you to bring us up right behind the central Devourer ship. Miss Kurokawa, ready a nuclear torpedo." His jaw tightens, gaze narrowing. "Mr. Ben-Haim, take us in."

Illyanna rolls her eyes at Holtz, but the show is on - so she ignores him to focus on the tasks at hand. "Route Xeno-Database only, Natasha. Keep it isolated from your mainframe." *Tap*Tap*Tap* on one of the screens, before she returns to more typing. Just to keep things interesting, Illyanna starts to whistle a tune… the theme of Twilight Zone! Ancient 20th Century TV, who woulda thunk?

With the shields aligned, Eisley can do nothing now except wait. And watch. She combines the two, shifting slightly in her seat so that she can once again watch the enormous display and the wormhole looming upon it. Whatever bloodthirsty glee she might have harbored about hunting xenocidal Devourers down evaporates, lost in sober focus. Her hands ball into fists, fingertips pressing hard into palms as her knuckles whiten again. Stillness here is costly, but she manages.

Ben-Haim glances at Yin, then back at Ramesh. "Acknowledged, sir." Back to English, his clipped accent reappearing. "You'll want to hold on," he remarks drily to Cohen, in the same language. "This might get a touch bumpy." Buttons hit, controls secured. "Engaging. Watch your toupees." Wormhole, here they come.

Dominic continues to wait for the order, his eyes watch the screen that shows the same image that the large screen in front is showing. He subconsciously holds his breath as they enter the wormhole, making sure he holds onto something bolted down for when they hit the turbulence.

With a precise nod, as though to a superior, Cohen grabs onto the closest sturdy piece of furniture. Suddenly, she closes her eyes. She brings her right hand up to cover them and takes a deep breath before singing the holy words of "Shema Yisroel." Not only the first line that some may have heard before, but the entire three paragraphs which follow. The sound is soft, far less piercing than Illyanna's whistling. Apparently, the Ensign can hold a tune. Then again, the remainder of the tribes of Israel who need to hear it consists of, as far as she knows, her and the person nearest her. When it is done, she drops her hand, folding it primly with the other, and opens her eyes as though nothing had occurred. Her gaze is locked upon the main screen, hand tensing upon the desk it found.

"Or we are not going to escape at all," Yin murmurs to herself in her native tongue, her notepad forgotten as she links into Adam's electronic warfare systems. The moment that cloak drops — and if the Captain does what he intends, it will drop — she'll be recording as much telemetry as possible, monitoring the enemy communications protocols for any hint of a weakness. But she's not so distracted that she can't ask the main question on her mind: "Excuse me," she asks anybody who'll listen. "What is a toupee? They did not cover this in basic space safety training classes."

Through Eve, Holtz links his station directly to the engineering mainframe. He cycles through several systems status displays, most noticeably the defensive systems. Everything seems to be working fine, but he's the type that likes to check anyway. He's used to working on ships much less reliable than Genesis, and it shows in his focus. His fingers continue to peck away at the keys as he inputs another series of commands into the computer.

All of the Engineering Systems come up on Holtz' terminals, giving him access to everything Monoko has. The ship is running in perfect condition at present, with plenty of energy and all systems at full capacity.

When the ship nears the opening of the wormhole, a slight tremor begins to run through it. The turbulence is almost immediate, but would likely be far worse were the ship being piloted automatically or by a lesser skilled pilot. The same tunnel of reality that the shuttle went through now surrounds the ship, the other end a distant pinhole of black that gets larger as it grows nearer. The entire journey takes less than a minute, but if one were to look at star maps for the entry and exit points, a distance of over 500 billion light years has been crossed.

"The wormhole is one way, Captain," Monoko confirms once they've come out the other side. "It just closed behind us."

Up ahead, five smaller vessels surround two larger ones - the larger two appearing as much bigger versions of the derelict ship encountered a week ago. They are asymmetrical in shape, with spires and protrusions at seemingly odd and illogical places, and while clearly constructed of metal, appear almost organic in shape. They are rather unsettling and nightmarish just to look at. The Devourer ships, on the other hand, are small and compact, efficient. For those that have seen them in the databases, they closely resemble Giver ships in design, largely because they scavenged the technology from them. Two sides fire back and forth, the Parasites no longer holding back, it would seem. Still, they are outnumbered and taking heavy damage.

"Parasite ship performing invasive scan, Captain," Adam states immediately. "The Devourers do not seem to notice us, however. They have performed no scans in our direction."

"Get us into position, Mr. Ben-Haim."

It's not a nice thing to have a ship of this size shuddering from turbulence. Ben-Haim's attention is froze on getting the vessel through the unfamiliar stretch of warped reality, and that for that minute of heartbeats there's nobody on the bridge but him, nothing on that viewscreen but the pinpoint they're shooting for. "Aye, sir." Space blossoms back out to their sides and below as the Genesis edges to its port, its pilot pushing her into the spot the Captain had dictated. Right behind the central Devourer ship, fine tuned maneuvering getting her around to her target with minimal loss of precious time. "Captain, Genesis in position."

Illyanna keeps the whistling going through the wormhole trip, perhaps her way to stay calm. But it stops almost as soon as they come out of the wormhole and Adam confirms an invasive scan from the parasite ship. "Boris, shift OS codebase to manual." She starts typing away now like a woman possessed, her eyes scanning the lines of codes that suddenly flash across several of her screens. "Eleven, cross-reference incoming signal against Xeno-DB comm-sectors." She sits up straight now, leaning forward as she works frantically…. then she stops abruptly. Illyanna blinks at one of the screens for a moment, then turns hurriedly towards the commanding officers.

"Captain, sir! The crabs are attempting to communicate!" She announces to Ramesh and Eisley, both. "They said to /leave one alive/."

There's a grunt of satisfaction from Holtz as all the readouts show what he'd expected to see. Full power and ready for action. His mouth tightens as the ship plunges into the wormhole; one hand grips the edge of his console to keep himself steady amid the turbulence. His eyes remain on the instruments; he's keeping a close watch on the various damage indicators. But there is nothing for them to report; all lights remain green as the ship emerges from the anomaly. So far, so good. His head briefly twists towards Illyanna next to him as she reports, and the engineer utters a muffled curse. On another one of his screens, he accesses the sensors, bringing up whatever information the systems can give him.

Even as they continue to take damage, the Parasite ships seem to be taking a precision approach to the battle, as if they're attempting to disable but not destroy the enemy vessels. It's costing them, though. One of the five ships suddenly lurches forward, charging at one of the two much larger ships as if to ram it and attempt to board, and the strategy changes almost instantly. Everything the Parasites have is turned on that one ship in the blink of an eye, obliterating it. It would seem that that they're nervous about being boarded! It would also seem that, if sides had to be taken, the Genesis picked the side with superior firepower.

"Adam, on my mark, fire the torpedo. Mr. Ben-Haim, as soon as we fire, get us the hell out of here. I don't want to stick around with our cloak down long enough for them to fire back." Ramesh turns and looks at Illyanna. "Can you—" His answer comes before he can finish the question. "Fair enough. I don't plan to wait around, anyway." He takes a deep, slow breath.


Eisley does not take her eyes off the screen for the whole of the trip. She might not even breathe for that eternal minute, focused on that pinprick of black that becomes a hole that becomes the whole of space again. Only when they are clear, when the skirmish comes into view to turn the beautiful starfield into a mess of ugly, alien ships does she turn her attention back onto her panel of readouts. "Shield integrity holding at full," she reports, almost by rote. Her own calm is, then, cracked by Illyanna's statement, earning the redhead a look and a blink. There is a thought there, briefly visible in her stare, but she doesn't express it. Instead, she looks at the screen once more, awaiting the results of the missile launch.

Yin's stomach roils as the Genesis makes her move, and for a moment she thinks she can taste the bitter tang of preservative on her tongue. It's enough to force her to slam both of her hands down on the sides of her console for support — and matters only get worse when that goddamned pilot starts spinning the goddamned ship around like a ball on a string. "And here I thought a boat on the ocean was bad," she mutters to herself in Chinese while she forces herself to breathe very, very slowly. "At least I knew which way was fucking up." But recover she does, and when she does, she directs her idling console to take close-up pictures of each enemy ship — all seven of them. Or, well. Six.

Dominic presses a few buttons on his console once the ship is in position, his eyes locked on the screens before him. His fingers dance on the console before him ready to strike should the enemy ships manage to return fire.
The Captain's orders have Cohen lifting an eyebrow and glancing at the man sidelong. Smart enough to keep her mouth shut in this tense situation, she simply grips the desk tighter and stares at the battle on the screen. Her full lips have pressed into a thin line, her mouth clamped shut. Rather the opposite of Yin.

Torpedo, GTFO. Ben-Haim glances up from the console long enough to shoot Yin a dry look. "If you're going to toss your oh-so-delicate cookies, could you kindly do so over there?" His head jerks towards the corner. Then his attention's back down on the panel, swiftly calculating the best route the hell away from this cluster.
"But I do not have any cookies," is Yin's doggedly literal reply, accompanied by a faintly puzzled expression.
Ben-Haim glances up again, raising an eyebrow at Yin. "Good. Remind me never to give you any."

A single torpedo roughly the size of a coffin streaks away from the ship and straight up the rear end of the Devourer ship where it disappears with a slight flash followed by an immensely larger one. What does a nuclear explosion look like in the vacuum of space? It doesn't look like a mushroom cloud, that's for sure. It's more like a ball of light that expands and dissipates into rings in every direction, and then is simply gone. So, it should be noted, is all but shrapnel of the ship that it struck. With all of their shields focused to the fore, they had nothing left behind them to keep the torpedo striking the hull directly. And that, is exactly what Ramesh was counting on. He WAS one of the EA's top tacticians, after all.

As Holtz continues to scroll through status readouts, he pauses on one in particular and frowns. For the first time since he's been on the bridge, he speaks up for the captain to hear. "Captain, there's been a download from our databases." His fingers start hammering commands rapid-fire into the computer. A moment later, the frown deepens, and he turns towards the center of the bridge. "It was the scan. Those parasites, their scanners downloaded a copy of our database," he reports in curious disbelief. Looking back at his console, he hisses, "They got fucking everything." Everything that was in the ship's computer, which these days just happens to equal the entirety of the human race's recorded knowledge. "Pech." He says his last with such venom that it can only be a curse.

"Mr. Ben-Haim," Ramesh states, "Any direction. Just get us out of range of their weapons as fast as you can."

Eisley can see the shields fluctuate briefly as one of the three remaining Devourer ships turns its focus on the Genesis, but the shields held the initial barrage at bay.

"Aye, sir. Booking it." The Genesis might as well have manual transmission for all the quick movements needed from Ben-Haim's hands. All the functions that they take for granted when auto-pilot has the reigns are gone — the ship is hardly jerking around, the pilot's skill readily apparent in these heart-stopping seconds — but the hairpin maneuvering necessary to get them away from the fight can certainly be felt. Powerful thrusters turned on, the ship tears away from its potential pursuers.

Finally, Cohen's annoyance breaks through, speaking to everyone and no one in response to Holtz's words. "What did you expect? We know we can no trust them. We know they have better…" She glances at Ben-Haim as though he can read her mind and translate the word for her. Finally, she settles on, "Electronics. They gave us up to predators and will probably turn on us again the first time it makes sense for them to do it." Her accent causes her words to be clipped as much as her anger does.

"They're parasites, Chief Holtz," elaborates Eisley with just a touch of autumn-leaf dryness. Clear, audible, less a whisper than a pure statement of fact: she's not terribly surprised by this revelation, nor, seemingly, bothered by it. Then again, her focus has shifted back to the shield readout. "Incoming fire from hostile ship. Shields holding." Information is delivered in that same matter-of-fact way that she has, in narrator's voice. In another life she could have had a career reading children's stories, or maybe doing voice-overs for telephone menus.

Now it's Illyanna's turn to frown at Holtz's report. "What the hell…" She swears in native Ukrainian, turning back to her console to perform a complete system check to verify Holtz's readings. "Oh well, if I could hack into their system and download their database, we shouldn't be surprised they can do the same to us. At least I scrambled and recompiled the database a couple of days ago…" She murmurs, and what she's not saying is, that'll probably slow the parasites down for a few hours. That's it.

"We'll have to worry about that later, Mr. Holtz," Ramesh replies with a frown of his own. On the display, one of the three remaining ships - the one that fired on the Genesis - disengages the battle to follow after, which essentially dooms its fellows as the two small ships remaining are no match for the two vastly larger ones. "Shit," he mutters. "We have company. Mr. Ben-Haim, evasive maneuvers. Miss Kurokawa, how fast can you lower and raise the shields?"

"Fast enough, Captain. Why?"

"I want them to get close enough that they think they're going to board us, then unleash a torpedo and raise the shields before it can blow."

"…I think I can manage that, sir," Monoko replies.

Yin's about to inform the pilot that she can get cookies from the robots in the galley when Holtz speaks up — and then, suddenly, she's reaching for her notepad, flipping through pages of detailed notes and diagrams to settle on her translation of the doctor's autopsy reports. "I suspect they are looking for hosts," she ventures, her knuckles turning white. Her high soprano is just a bit unsteady, even as she seeks refuge in the comforting syntax of bureaucratese. "It explains why they did not obliterate the Devourer vessel until absolutely necessary. And if the doctor is correct, we are even more suitable than the Devourers for their purposes." That smile of hers turns grim. "At least we will be alive if they catch us. After a fashion."

As the ship comes under fire, Dominic returns fire until they are out of weapons range, his eyes focused on the screens of the station. As the enemy ship starts it's pursuit, he glances back towards the Captain as he speaks with Mono before he turns his attention to the large screen to watch the outcome of the Captain's plans.

"Mr. Ben-Haim," Ramesh orders, "I want you to let them catch up to us, but don't make it look like you're letting them. They have to think that they've outrun us so they'll want to board. That'll get them to lower their shields. Once their shields drop, Miss Kurokawa, fire the torpedo and focus all of our shields to the back to protect against the blast."

Ben-Haim doesn't seem to have reacted to the news of their database being ripped off, but then again he's a little busy just now. He glances at the screen to his right, his own display of what's coming up behind them. Spotting the one Ramesh had pointed out, his muttered voice gains a note of irritation. "Seriously?" In space the concept of 'serpentine evasion' takes on a whole new meaning, the unpleasant lurching of which the bridge crew now gets to experience firsthand. And of course, just when he's kicked that in the new orders come out. "Let them ca-…aye. Sir." He blows out a thin strea of air through tightly pursed lips, changing the pattern of the huge ship's escape.

Cohen suddenly releases her hold on the desk and turns to start moving toward Yin. Without the advantage of long legs, like the tall people in the room, and the disadvantage of not being used to the ship, the steps are shaky at best. However, she finally reaches her target, grasps the edge of the nearest console with both hands, and speaks in a lower voice so as not to interrupt the others. "If we are caught, even for a little bit, will we know who gets the parasite and who does not?"

Eisley has little to do just now but watch the shields, since control of them has been sent off to engineering. As the ship begins to swerve she drops her hands to the arms of her chair to hold on, and twists a look off toward the pilot's seat. "Mr. Ben-Haim, where -exactly- did you learn to drive..?" It is probably a rhetorical question, but apparently seat belts got cut out of the Genesis budget along with 900,000 passenger tubes. So.

Yin points to the crude diagram she's drawn on her legal pad, showing a crustacean-like creature perched atop an alien-thing's head. "We will know, Ensign." Her voice is curt, so best to hide the tension thrumming through her body as the pilot does his thing.

"NASCAR, sir," Ben-Haim replies to Eisley, completely without humor. His eyes are pinned to the screen showing him what's coming up on them, his handling of the Genesis keeping them — for all outside eyes — running the hell away as quickly as possible, but in reality the well-handled bends and curves are letting the enemy catch up to them…

"Adam, invasive scan on the Devourer ship. As soon as their shields drop, fire the torpedo." Ramesh sinks back in his seat, preparing for the close call that's about to come. "Brace yourselves!"

It all happens almost at once - the shields come up fast enough to keep the blast from damaging or outright destroying the Genesis, but not from giving it a serious rattle. The Devourer ship doesn't stand a chance, and even less of it is left behind than there was of the first. The display switches back to the initial battle, the two Parasite ships - both badly damaged - have stopped firing and only one Devourer ship remains, it engines and shields completely destroyed along with its weapons. It is, for all intents and purposes, neutralized.

The red battle lights go off and Eve chimes softly, "Incoming message from the Parasite ships."

"Tell them," Ben-Haim mutters as Eve chimes in. "To open the one marked 'kissoff dot e-x-e'." The gloves on his hands thankfully keep anyone from being able to see if they're shaking. They might be.

Illyanna has been holding on to her console as tight as she can as the ship goes into a wild evasive maneuver… which fortunately ends in the humans surviving. Once the excitement is over, she sighs a breath of relief and resumes typing at one of her keyboards. "Natasha, cross-reference incoming message with Xeno-Database."

Cohen's mouth gapes gently at the diagram, eyes wide with disbelief. After a moment, she looks away and swallows hard. "Thank you," she manages softly. When all is said and done, the tanned woman finally breaths normally again. "Am Yisroel chai," she murmurs, shooting Ben-Haim a brief look of pride before returning her eyes to the screen.

"Let it through, Eve," Ramesh answers the female computer voice.

On the display screen comes a simple message in text. "Greetings, humanity. We are the primary native species of what you call Corona Borealis. Your assistance has been appreciated. In 24 of your hours, you will send a delegation to represent humanity aboard our flagship. We will have discussions." There is an awful lot implied in that message. For starters, it would seem to suggest that leaving on their merry way isn't an option.

Again Eisley scans the shield readouts, but this time gives no report as to their kinetic integrity: it's either very bad or very good, though likely does not matter now that the Devourer ship is space junk. Again there is a lack of surprise at this notification of an incoming message; no, she saves her reaction for the actual message - not for the fact that it is printed out in a readable font, but for the content. She exhales then in a breathy sigh and bows her head for a moment. "…great."

"Two of us, anyway," Ben-Haim murmurs back to Cohen, and it doesn't sound like a joke. He looks up from the panels to the other Israeli for a moment, then slowly exhales and turns his attention to the display, his lips thinning.

Holtz's frenetic key-tapping slows and finally stops as the battle grinds to a halt. He looks up, then back to his readouts. "The shields hold," he announces after the shock of the explosion passes, and he leans back into his seat. His lips tighten when Eve announces the message, and Holtz's eyes narrow as it plays across the screen. "And how do we know they won't latch onto our damn brains as soon as we step inside, eh?" he says quietly. "They did not hesitate to suck dry our databases."

"They wouldn't be asking for a delegation if they planned to simply enslave us," Ramesh offers, perhaps trying to convince himself as much as anyone else. "I think it's been made pretty clear that our technology is no match for them. If they wanted us, they'd have us by now. They even give us twenty four hours to recover. Rather sporting of them, don't you think?"

"…they likely need 24 hours to review our database," observes the XO, dark and dry as the dark side of the moon and, thus, otherwise entirely lacking in humor. "Maybe they'll hope we fly. Sitting ducks, and all." Eisley looks at Ramesh and lofts an eyebrow at him, just so, as if to convey some further sliver of information, some deeper line of thought that otherwise does not need elaboration.

The pilot's words have Cohen sobering significantly. She falls back on the trained, neutral expression now, listening to the others discuss the matter. After a moment, she pipes up, "It makes no difference. We will listen to them anyway. We will go, no?. What they want to do to us can no matter if the end is the same." About as optomistic as a fly trapped in ointment.

"Return OS basecodes to your control, Natasha. Shut down bridge computer station." Illyanna addresses the computer, and as her monitors switch off one by one, she's already getting up from her chair.

Ben-Haim, death of the party. His expression doesn't change, lips in a straight line and jaw slightly tensed. Adrenaline is still dripping through his system, though not nearly as much as a few minutes ago, his heart still working on slowing down.

The reference of sitting ducks is not lost on the Captain, and he allows a small smile, perhaps even a bit amused by the reference. "I do imagine that at least part of the delay is as you say, so they can learn as much about us as possible. In the meantime, I suggest we do the same." He looks to Illyanna. "I want you, Mr. Holtz, Miss Kurokawa and Mr. Sullivan to get the rest of that database of theirs deciphered, and I want it yesterday."

Cohen receives a somewhat sympathetic look from Yin, though the woman does nothing except flip forward a few pages so she can continue writing. She's silent for as long as it takes her to transcribe the message on the display screen in blocky English letters. Then: "This is a possibility, Captain," the woman ventures. "They may also wish to repair the damage they sustained before permitting us onboard. They seemed — allergic, I believe, is the word — to the notion of a Devourer boarding operation." And then she taps her pen against her teeth, clicking it on and off and on again while she thinks. "They are disabled," she muses aloud. "If their engines are in fact too damaged to give pursuit, we should leave running on the table." Meet Laurel Yin Qingyu, broken record.

"On it," Illyanna stands and nods to Ramesh, giving the captain a non-regulation salute. "Mono, you better cancel all meals, sleep and bathroom breaks for the next 24 hours. We got homework." She calls over the comm, as she heads for the lift after retrieving her personal data tablet.

Holtz shrugs. "Perhaps. But, were I going? I would keep my helmet on," he says dryly to the captain. Not that he's much of a diplomat, though, so he's not likely to be going anywhere. He nods at the captain's order, and releases engineering access from his station with a quick command to Eve. A moment later, he's off for the lift as well. Time to break out his old notes.

The Captain considers Yin's advice with a thoughtful expression and a slight nod of his head. "I have considered the possibility that they need the time to repair as much as anything. It is possible that they've been damaged badly enough that we could do it, could escape, or perhaps even defeat them. I'd rather not push them just yet, however. They know this area much better than we do, so running really isn't much of an option anyway. I'm willing to take them at face value for the moment and assume that they truly want a meeting with us. We will, however, be keeping a close eye on their ships and what systems they repair in the meantime."

The Captain gives one assignment; the Commander gives a second. She lifts a hand to rub at the back of her neck and scans the bridge, gaze sliding to - and then locking on - poor Yin. "Petty Officer Yin, I would appreciate it if you would join Lieutenant L'Anse and me in the conference room at 08:00." Illyanna might be phoning for her study buddy, but the way Eisley says this makes it sound more like detention.

"It is enough for me to know that the possibility was on the table," says Yin, nodding her assent. "Thank you, sir." As for the XO's orders: "I will be there." No questions about why she's been summoned; no nothing. "If there is nothing further?" she asks as she orders her console to transfer the pictures she's taken to the file system in her room. And if there isn't, off she goes to the lift. She's got homework too.

Now that everything seems to have calmed, Cohen looks around. Finally, her gaze settles on Eisley. "Commander, permission to return to my quarters, ma'am?"

"Granted," answers Eisley, almost without thinking. She pauses for just a second, then glances at Ramesh before she, too, rises. "Captain, you and I will have to have a little chat about this tomorrow afternoon, as well."

Ramesh quirks a brow at Eisley. "Am I in trouble, Commander?"

"Thank you, ma'am." Cohen turns and heads toward the door. She pauses and glances over her shoulder at Ben-Haim briefly, biting her lower lip. With a shake of her head, she continues off of the bridge.

Eisley offers threat of a smile, though it does not ever fully manifest. "I don't know, Captain. Are you?" Under the circumstances, she has trouble mustering any real humor. "We need to discuss this delegation, since you cannot attend."

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