Literary Challenge #41 : Call to Arms
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the forty-first Literary Challenge: Call to Arms
You've just received a priority one distress signal from a nearby space station that an enemy has boarded the facility and is trying to take command. As this station is conducting important research on a device that could be devastating if it falls into the wrong hands, it's up to you and your crew to get aboard and alleviate the threat. It's not clear who is holding those aboard the station hostage, but from the communication received, it sounds like you only have hours to create a plan and put it in action. Also, it appears that another ship is responding but it's days away from your location.This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
One unexpected encounter....
It was on Stardate 9346658.9 and the I.G.V. Bloodfire was patroling the Minos Korvat system.
I was relaxing in my ready room when commander Scratch came in and said "Captain This is a priority One subspace communication from Deep Space 209, a station deep into Undine Territory. "Let's hear it" I said. "To any ships in range this is commander T'Vara of Deep Space 209! We are under attack from an alien race! You must help us! We are trying to construct a brand new type of weapon to fight the Borg! It is a high yield device which can destroy a sun or even an entire system in a matter of milliseconds! You must help us defend it from the invaders if the device, with the name "Kit-Kat", falls at the wrong hands it would be devastating! Please you have to help us!!"
I said to the helmsman "Mr Sulu plot a course for Deep Space 209! Maximum Warp!"
"Course layed in"
After approximattely 50 minutes we arrived at Deep Space 209. We were stunned from what has happened to the ships protecting the station!
"Sir I am reading debris from 4 Federation ships"
"Can you identify them?" I asked in agony.
"It is the U.S.S. Gabrielle, the U.S.S. Lakota II, the U.S.S. Golf and the U.S.S. Nippon"
"This can't be happening! I knew all of those crewmen!"
"And yet captain", said Sulu, "the station seems intact"
"That's weird, We should beam over and investigate"
" Commander Aspre, Mr. Remus, Ensign Obisek and Commander Scratch you come with me, Mr. Sulu you have the Bridge"
We went to the Transporter room, stepped on the pad and beamed over
The first moment we stepped in the station I had all the Away team raise their weapons and be ready for combat.
Obisek said "Sir i am not detecting any lifesigns but it seems to be some sort of a low scale duonetic field that is blocking my tricorder from getting a clear reading so we should proceed with caution.?
As we were exploring the station Aspre said ?Sir I have detected the Duonetic field generator and I can remotely turn it off.?
?Do so Commander? I replied.
?Now Obisek can you get a clear reading??
?Yes sir. I am reading 12 starfleet lifesigns but they are surrounded by?? Oh God this is not good?
?What is it??
? I am reading lifesigns that match the pattern of a species which we thought was exctinct for more than 200.000 years?
?Who are they??
We were stunned as we listened to it, but immediately started setting a plan on how to liberate the station from the Iconians and prevent them from stealing the ?Kit-Kat? device.
We were going to reclaim the blueprints of the device and if possible the device itself or destroy it. Then we were heading to the command room of the station and try to liberate the captain of the station and if possible the rest of the staff.
We downloaded the blueprints from a nearby computer terminal and then we erased them from the system of the station. Then we found out where this device was hidden and started heading that way. But, as we were en route to the place Obisek which was a Reman told me
?Captain I have a bad feeling about this?.
As we were about to enter the room I had Obisek give us some Melorazine in case we were attacked from psionic attacks. We entered the room and we could see the device. It was protected by a triple force field. One huge about 2 meters tall creature was trying to bypass the security protocols but it could not. It was a creature made of dark red matter unike anything I saw before. ?weapons at the ready? I ordered.? On my mark we take it down!?
?3?.2?1? Kill it!!!?. We fired at it using everything we had and eventually killed it. When it dropped to the ground I received a message through my combadge . It was the I.G.V. Bloodfire. They had detected a ship leaving orbit and then creating a wormhole and disappeared. But also they dropped a red matter bomb which had created a black hole and was going to obliterate the station along with its surrounding space. I knew we had to work quickly. I tagged the ?Kit-Kat? device and beamed to the ship then we headed towards the command room. We blasted our way through the sealed door and found Commander T?Vara hidden in a corner along with those 12 crewmen and 4 scientists. We tagged them and said to Commander T?Vara
?We will beam you up we do not have much time left?
?Did you get the device???
?Where is it??
?Aboard my ship?
I tapped my combadge and told them to beam up the 16 people and my away team. I would remain behind to completely erase the computer banks. As my away team beamed up with the scientists, I hacked the computer banks and erased its memory. I had only one thing to do . Get the tricorder in which the blueprints of the ?Kit-Kat? were downloaded. The expanding black hole begun to drag the station towards it. Parts began to fall off the roof. I grabbed the tricorder, tapped my combadge and said ?Beam me up now!!!?
I was beamed back to the ship and headed straight for the bridge. A course to Deep Space K-7 was plotted and we warped out of the system at maximum warp. Seconds later the blackhole consumed the station but it was torn apart by internal explosions. The Iconian body was lost along with the station. We arrived at Deep Space K-7, where we let off the scientists and commander T?Vara and headed out to fight another day. Then I hosted a big celebration at the crew deck of the Bloodfire where we were visited by Admiral Janeway ?Good work captain!? she said. I was happy to have survived this experience and that I have been brought closer to my crew which i now consider to be my family.
Hope you like my story and please dont judge me harshly:)
Earthdate: April 3rd 2413
Joint commanding officer's log by General Sai of the Klingon Defence Force aboard the Imperial Klingon Warship Mavt'Sor, and Starfleet Admiral George Aubrey of the Federation star ship U.S.S. Aquileia.
Both Starfleet and the Klingon Defence Force are developing anti-Borg weapons and technologies in a shared remote research station near the edge of Borg space. Both the I.K.S. Bortasqu' and the U.S.S. Enterprise are meeting our two ships in the centre of the Klingon-Federation Neutral Zone. As an act of faith between our governments, the Aquileia will be travelling with the Bortasqu', whilst the Mavt'Sor will be making the journey with the Enterprise.
"Helmsman, set a course for Research Station Gamma-Phi-107: Maximum warp."
"Aye-aye, sir. Would you like to activate the Quantum Slipstream drive, sir?"
"Yes, Ensign. Hail the Bortasqu', and inform them of our plan. Just make sure they synchronise their slipstream drive with ours."
"General, the U.S.S. Aquileia and the I.K.S. Bortasqu' have taken the short route to the research station. Do you want me to hail the Enterprise and tell them to get their warp drive going?"
"Yes, Sergeant. I would also appreciate it if you would remind them to activate their slipstream drive and sync it with our own, and also to take the longer route. Remind Captain Shon that he may want to charge his weapons when we are 10 Earth-minutes away from the station."
"Yes, sir. Commander Winters has taken the message to Captain Shon - the good captain is undergoing a medical examination in sickbay."
At Research Station Gamma-107-Phi, a Borg Cube was arming weapons with the intent of destroying the station and all of it's research. The station commanders - a Caitian scientist by the name of Kassaira and a Ferasan named Prr'aiat - had sent out the distress call on a Priority One channel to all nearby ships, Federation or Klingon. Within moments, the U.S.S. Aquileia and the I.K.S. Bortasqu' were on the scene, the station almost destroyed and the Borg cube floating ominously nearby. 5 Earth-minutes later, the U.S.S. Enterprise and the I.K.S. Mavt'Sor appeared, all ships with weapons charged.
"Hail the task group and try to open a channel to the station. Admiral Aubrey to all ships, lock phasers, disruptors and torpedoes on that Borg Cube - fire at will. Mavt'Sor, have your fighters target their shield matrices. All hands, prepare for emergency chevron separation, and prep the Aquarius for launch."
"Yes, Admiral. We have launched our B'Rotlh Birds-of-Prey, as well as some advanced Tachyon Drones to help deplete the Borg ship's shields, and are firing disruptors now."
"Understood, Mavt'Sor. Aubrey to chevron, get as many people off that station as possible - we'll watch your back. If you can get the station's black-box as well, that will be a bonus."
30 minutes later, the Borg cube had been destroyed, although all ships in the battle group had suffered heavy casualties - the chevron section of the U.S.S. Aquileia had suffered enough damage to render it inoperable, whilst the Aquarius auxiliary craft had needed manual redocking. The support craft of the I.K.S. Mavt'Sor had been destroyed, although they could renew their payload at the Qo'Nos shipyard. All but five of the research station's crew had perished, including Prr'aiat. The data recorder had been successfully obtained from the wreck of the station, with the weapon and equipment schematics backed up on each of the four ships' primary and secondary computer cores.
The Siege at Revor 52
The Gespenst and Ra Cailum are responding to a distress call from the USS Alteisen Riese, currently stationed at a small, remote research station in the Gamma Quadrant.
The message was heavily distorted, only maintaining enough integrity to garner an implication of a siege underway.
The Gespenst is 4 hours out, but the Ra Cailum has reported engine trouble, thus will be unable to assist for at least two days.
"Computer, halt recording." I spoke out to the cabin before me, followed by the familiar chime of the computer acknowledging the command.
As I pulled myself from my bunk, I thought to myself "Another day, another battle."
Trudging toward the armoury, I pondered the trouble that lay ahead: Who are my enemy? What do they field? Why do they attack? How can I fend them off?
Unwittingly, I passed by the door to the armoury, thus spun round to head back in.
"Mathis, wake up!" I barked to the lifeless armour standing before me.
"Whits up, laddie?" Mathis cheered back to me.
"You were able to support me EVA during your first deployment. Just how long can you safely function EVA?" I asked the armour's computer.
"Well, according tae my memory bank, I'm certified tae keep yeh alive fur a month." Mathis beamed in that irritatingly cheery voice.
"Thank you for the info, I'll see you in a bit." I saluted the armour before leaving the armoury, heading for the bridge.
"Captain on the bridge!" Fat Ram Dos barked, snapping to attention.
"Knock it off." I said to him, stepping over to the tactical board behind my chair. "Zazhid, Fat, get over here."
We prattled through the charts for the system, formulating tactical options for best, and worst case scenarios.
"This is not gonna end well for someone, probably me... again." I sighed to myself as I took the chair.
Log file corrupted. Continuing at next available data segment.
Tek tried to tell me something, but as usual, all that came across was a garbled mess.
"On screen." I said to him, guessing he was receiving a signal.
Tek obliged, shaking his head.
The viewscreen flickered into life, a very weak signal coming through from Cagalli.
"Station destroyed..... Doobenwulff...can't...XN..."
The viewscreen flickered back to the forward camera, a dark haze of stars streaking past at warp factor 9.9969.
"Fat! Get in the Alt! Zazhid, the Weiss... Mathis!" I called out. "Show time"
Log file corrupted. Switching to backup system.
We had barely deployed from the Gespenst when the enemy began to attack us, with weaponry I cannot begin to describe.
"SCATTER!" I screamed over the open comm line, the three of us moving in separate directions as a beam of devastating destructive force tore past our former position, shearing off the port nacelle of the Gespenst.
"What the heck just hit us?!" Six yelled out.
"Analysing the beam now. Gimme a few minutes oan that, awright?" Mathis blurted back.
"Never mind that. Just find Cagalli!" I barked to Mathis.
"Don't need to, boss. Her transponders online. She's in the main research lab on the station. And she is -"
Log file corrupted. Continuing at next available data segment.
"Where are we?" I asked Mathis, since I had just breached the station right where a map was located.
"Looks like we're just off Cargo bay 7. 2 miles of walkway between us & Cagalli." Mathis noted. "Picking up unregistered life-signs. Two seem to have heard us enter and are approaching rapidly. Activating defensive systems now." He added.
The armour's many panels opened, with the normally white visage quickly taking on the appearance of being ablaze. The large horn weapon on the forehelmet split, settling into a wide V shape atop the faceplate, which had retracted within recesses in the cheekplates, revealing a new, angular plate. Panels in the forearms shifted, revealing phaser apertures astride the wrists, while the largest plate raised itself away from the arm, pressing out a squared-off handle.
The backpack widened, revealing more thrusters, which roared into life as the first assailant began to lunge.
He was a hulking brute: 9 feet tall and easily 6 feet wide, his skin was a mottled crimson hue, almost stretched beyond its limits as the thick, powerful musculature beneath strived to burst forth. His speed was alarming, as his size indicated he would be slow, yet he had lunged with the speed and ferocity unmatched by any Alpha Quadrant race, taking me by surprise.
The brute plunged through the bulkhead behind me, emerging once more from the gaping void. He spoke to me, in a deep booming voice "Where is the one called Cagalli?"
Log file corrupted. Continuing at next available data segment.
"Dammit! That one stings to high dole. Got any other bright ideas, Mathis?!"
"Aye, just one: Charge the right arm's phaser arrays, and sock him in the jaw!" Mathis remarked, his voice noticeably more sinister without its usual cheery tones.
"Here goes nothing." I sighed, as the thrusters roared into life once more, propelling me toward the hulking brute at 150 miles an hour, plunging my fist deep into his jaw via a solid right hook.
"NOW! Eat my magnum!" I roared at him as the phaser arrays blasted his head into smithereens, an eyeball landing before my visor "Don't go losing your head now. Time to pull Cagalli out of here."
"****! Weapons affline. System Failure in 5 minutes." Mathis winced, sounding as if in pain.
Log file corrupted. Continuing at next available data segment.
"CAGALLI!! MY OFFICE... NOW!"
A Call to Arms means a Call to Action (My first Lit Challenge :D )
The Subcommander looked out of the "clean room" into the room below. Scientists were carrying out experiments that could very well get them shut down by Starfleet. Genetic manipulation, bio-organic weaponry.... this was all illegal, or course. But logical. Who knows what the Klingons were doing? Then, as she blankly looked on at the works, commotion came from below. A large container of sticky, oily black fluid shattered, and it consumed the scientist that was holding it, when the scientist was released, he attacked and bit another, then another. The subcommander scrambled over to a console, called in two of the MACO Adapted Commandos, and closed the room off. She then opened up the Emergency Distress Channel and sent out a standard distress call, then sat and watched the security monitor as the creatures, once great scientists, ravaged the halls and making more creatures out of them to bolster their ranks.....
The Gantrithor is on route to the Eta Eridani sector, on the border of the Klingon-Federation space. Since the invasion of the Borg, our sides have shared a remarkable time of peace and prosperity, with trade and technology being shared once more. It's remarkable really. After years of bloody conflict, once again the prime powers of the Alpha Quadrant have come together to push the Borg invaders out of our space. The crew is acclimating themselves to the Jem'Hadar Dreadnought Carrier I was able to salvage from the 2800 battlegroup that attacked Deep Space Nine recently. We are just perusing the galaxy, looking for Borg transwarp signatures.
As I exited the ready room, I was greeted with the primal gaze of my Caitian first officer, I wasn't paying attention, and bumped into her, spilling my tea on both of our uniforms.
"Oh! Sir! I'm so sorry!! I didn't burn you did I? Oh, just let me get that...."
"No worries, M'Tesis. I can get it. Not a captain without doing a few things myself, am I right?", I said.
She purred and skipped off of the bridge to change. I just walked back into my ready room and opened my wardrobe. I made it my business to acquire past-era Starfleet uniforms. I pulled out a purple tinted jumpsuit with a badge sewn into it depicting an NX-class starship, and slipped out of the now damp uniform, and pulled the jumpsuit on. I once again exited the small room as soon as the.. There. Zipper's on. So the door opens, and outside are my Terran crew, looking at me. Incredulously, I asked, "What are you staring at?"
The Trill piped up, "We recieved an automated distress signal from Starbase 8462, they're requesting assistance from ANY ship in range."
Without hesitation, I sat up in my command chair and told the Andorian to set a course, and to prepare the Peregrine Interceptors.
Hours later, we arrived at the starbase... all the lights were out, part of it was destroyed like something exploded IN the starbase, and there were no shuttles or ships to be seen.
We drifted the dreadnought around it to get a better look, only to find there wasn't a back half of 8462. The crew looked on in shock, and as to get ahold of them, I sat back in my chair and called to the MACO marines aboard to board the starbase and assess the situation. Twelve hours passed and out of the eight shuttles I sent, only one came back with two survivors. One expired shortly after, the other was so traumatized, he hung himself from the medical bay girders. 24 marines all lost their lives on the starbase, but they brought back valuable information: The Vulcans were experimenting with bio-organic weaponry and were going to use it on a nearby Klingon colony, starting another war.
Upon learning this I convened a council of sorts in the Dreadnought's war room. The decision was unanimous. Destroy the facility before it could be salvaged and hurt anyone else. By the time we got back to the bridge, there was a fleet of blackened Federation cruisers slowly lumbered into view. Without a command, M'Tesis fired again and again, destroying the cruisers in single shots. Before she got to the last one, it rammed the bridge, sucking most of the crew out. The Trill, the Vulcan and the Liberated Borg... all gone in an instant. M'Tesis was about to be sucked out as well as me, but the emergency force fields activated. Only if they activated sooner, I thought. Then the helmsman - an Orion female, snapped into action and put the Dreadnougt in full reverse, as a stunned M'Tesis blew the last cruiser away, the warp core explosion barely damaging the shields.
Solemnly, the flight back was silent, as opposed to the raucous roar and songs of celebration and victory. Three of my friends, gone in an instant. That's how we ended up here.
"So that's my report, Director. Now where is my pay you promised me?", I asked the shadow in the darkness.
"You'll get your pay, Captain, don't you worry.", a thick Southern accent echoed in the hall.
"And I require a bonus for... casualties sustained..", I insisted and emphasized this part.
"And you will. Once I deliver this report, you will be back in Starfleet."
"No! I will not be under the heel of dusty senators resorting to bio weaponry to fight your enemies with. After I get my pay... I do not want to be pulled into Starfleet's mess. I'm done!"
After that, I grabbed my money and left Earth for good, and set course for Terjas-Mor to spend it.
IKS Valgy'r 2, [Redacted] system, Stardate...aw who gives a ****?
D'Daku, cousin D'daku, as a first officer she is just not going to work out with this ship, or this crew. I may have to space her body if she doesn't get back on the suppressants-today could be the whole reason I will, too. Stupid ***** letting her Pheremones out when we needed the crew to be on their Prime game, not brain-buddled.
Simple enough situation-Research Station [Redacted] sent out a distress call 19 hours ago, we were in the area and Methos tells me, "D'Moj, what they are doing on that station can NOT be allowed to fall into enemy hands, and the High Council will want physical proof if you just try to do there, what you did at Heston III. Solve it, bring back physical proof."
When the Head of the Great House that is acting as your sponsor, and only protection from the bulk of your relatives, says he wants physical proof that something dangerous has been secured and/or suppressed, you listen. Going back to Mom means going on the Auction Bloc after a short trip to have that annoyingly rebellious forebrain removed. I LIKE thinking like a person and not like a sex-driven mammal.
So, we cloaked up, and raced to answer the call.
The new Robot needed a field test anyway-after eighteen successive series I guess the lab-targs finally figured out how to make a stable Soong processing unit...or at least, the Clan thinks so.
They shipped it naked, and painted it green. I guess they're also prototyping for an adult novelty line-stupid thing is a worse reminder of growing up Orion than my equally stupid cousin.
On the bright side, it doesn't ***** when I won't play stripper-girl and I don't have to have Mary force-feed it Pheremone suppressants..which just made me angry again. Stupid throbbing hole's been palming the meds, damn near got us all killed when we saw what was boarding the station.
I just about got over the assimilated Deferi children. Just about stopped having nightmares about the Fek'lyhr too...
and here's a [censored, very bad word] Fek Cruiser-carrier in a docking orbit over the research station.
Thank Prime Source that the Gorn crewmen are immune to Pheremones, D'Ghur was practically too brain-addled to work the Cloak, much less handle his duties as Chief Engineer, and I finally found a use for the creepy ****ing Borg we got assigned-he's also immune-something about the nannies altering his biochemistry. I put the robot on Weapons and had D'Ghur confined to the medbay-Mary might be a human, and she might be a conscience-less psychopath I have to keep on a short leash or she'll eat people, but she's a good hand with a hypo and is absent any sort of normal 'fear' or discretion.
The Robot isn't very smart, and I found its ability to interpret orders irritating-when we initiated the decloaking strike, it barely carried out the attack portion of hte mission adequately-it took us nearly an hour to drop the Cruiser and deal with its fighters-and that would have been a WONDERFUL time to have repair crews who could keep their brains on the job-luckily, I have a few Gorn on the staff who can patch hull and fix plumbing and wiring without drooling over their scantily-clad department head.
Beaming aboard was...interesting. Getting flashbacks to Defera was even MORE interesting-the Damsouls that Fek was using on us hit right to the nastier parts of the old memory-box to try and disable you-the fang-bitches also tried it...and in this case, thank Prime for that nasty smelling powder Mary's had me taking-some kind of animal tranquilizer that works as a combat drug, because instead of curling into a ball of neurosis, we chopped those ****ers into chum and burned it.
Now, I'm not entirely sure what this ****ing thing is they were after, but it kind of reminds me of Borg technology married in some unholy way with Undine gear, and it glows.
But this mission almost went into the Recycler, and this...gadget thing they were working on at the station almost ended up Fek-tek, and it was almost that way, because my idiot cousin whom mom pulled strings to get assigned to MY ship by the KDF High Command, whom I'm not supposed to kill because she's Klingon Intelligence, wanted to seduce her some of my ridge-faced boys.
That's it, ***** is going out the airlock. I may be nice enough to let her take a pressure suit...
-Captain D'Moj, IKS Valgy'r II
3 hours ago
Lieutenant Christa Harrington's eyes widened looking at the PADD. She was sitting straighter in Captain Beringer's Ready Room as she read and re-read the information presented. "Captain, that's where the Black Talon Project is located!"
Kathryn lifted her hand to both calm and silence the excited Lieutenant. "I know. Details are limited and I just learned the Cordorba is en route to the station as well. She's days away but I want this situation resolved before then. We are going to make sure your Project stays on that station."
1 hour later
"Captain, their forward shields are down!" Anthi's usually calm demeanor disappeared at the climax of the battle.
Kathryn stood and pointed at the burning starship on the screen. "Weapons, Fire!"
From the lower rear hull, a large missile was ejected. Its bio-neural intelligence quickly scanned the area, locked on the enemy ship, activated thrusters and primed the warhead. The Solaris banked to starboard as the warhead sped toward it's victim three kilometers away. The Orion Brigand Cruiser coughed a torpedo at the missile but was shot down by the massive projectile's point-defense system. The missile penetrated the forward hull like a needle into a puss-filled bruise. Internal atmosphere vented for a half-second before the detonation ripped the ship apart. Chunks of burning hull and thousands of small debris, metal and organic, blossomed from the fireball that consumed the rest of the ship.
On the bridge, Kathryn looked away from the screen to the crew on the bridge. "Good work everyone. Anthi, you and Karl are on the assault team. Omazei, contact Lieutenant Harrington and Commander Aldet to meet us in transporter room two; you have the con. I'm giving this op two hours with reports. At that mark, bring in the M.A.C.O. Team for clean-up and recovery."
The Trill Science Chief nodded gravely and started tapping at her console.
10 minutes later
The Assault Team was assembled in the transporter room and all were strapping kits and checking weapons. The click-and-clack merged with the hum of the ships engines to be the only sounds around them. Kathryn noticed the concentration on the team's faces and decided something more needed to be said. "Ok, I need to say something before we head out. The Orions on the station have lost their way out. That means they'll be fighting to get out of a corner. They'll be more vicious on defense, so we need to keep up the offense. There are two objectives in this order: security of the crew and preservation of research material. Lieutenant Harrington is on the Team for the secondary goal." She looked at each of the team as she spoke. "But there is a tertiary objective: enemy combatants are to be treated with extreme prejudice."
Medical Chief Aldet Tdeni, spoke after several seconds of silence, his human baritone voice almost booming even in his attempt to keep it conversational. "Sir, is that necessary?"
"Yes, Aldet. The research conducted on the station is highly sensitive and therefore valuable to the war effort. For that reason, only the research staff and this Team are allowed to walk away from this situation."
Security Chief Karl Melango spoke next, "What about the Cordoba?"
Kathryn looked in his direction. "They will be turned around if ... when ... we succeed."
Anthi was next, her Andorian antennae twitched nervously as she spoke. "These are Orions, Sir. Are we here because of your vendetta?"
Everyone looked at Kathryn for a response. They all knew bits of her past but no one was really sure what was truth or fiction. For her part, she looked down, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she looked back to Anthi, her affect was neutral as if she resigned herself to what was said next. "'Duty to Starfleet before duty to self', that is what I said to Admiral Decker when I spoke for this crew as we joined the Dawn Patrol Task Force. Thank you for keeping me honest Anthi. Right now, we are alone, so my orders are for the safety of the station crew and protection of the research."
Kathryn felt insincere saying it but her words were true and she hoped by saying them she would believe them. But she could tell her First Officer was not convinced. Looking at the others it was hard to tell if they were convinced either, yet she knew they would follow her orders. Kathryn slung the phaser rifle over her shoulder, nodded, and turned to step onto the transporter pad.
1 hour later
She lifted the rifle to her shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The orange beam raced to her target, burned through the shielding and pierced into the helmet. She raked the beam down into the torso as the body convulsed to death. Releasing the trigger deactivated the beam and silence returned to the darkened corridor after the armored soldier collapsed. Kathryn peered down the hallway and waited a few seconds. Not hearing more sounds, she exhaled in relief and looked at her assault team. Everyone's armor was scored in various places but the Team was intact and doing very well. They were looking down a corridor with a side path a few meters to the right. The research hub was at the end of the hallway and the greater concentration of the remaining invaders and station crew were kept.
Kathryn motioned for Aldet and Karl to advance down the side path, the other two with her against the final door. As the team split, Christa set up a phaser turret at the intersection of the hallway while pointing toward the door. Anthi watched the doorway while Kathryn turned to face the path they came from.
Harrington whispered, "Turret is set up and primed."
"And you are sure the suit doesn't conceal anything the user holds?" Kathryn whispered over her shoulder.
The Engineer nodded as she made a final adjustment on the remote turret.
"Ok. Anthi, you're up."
The Andorian took a few steps back and lowered the assault gun to quietly place it next to Kathryn who then slung her rifle over her shoulder to heft the large weapon. Anthi removed a folded cloth from her backpack and started fitting into the black body suit. She zipped up to her breasts, reached behind the new layer and tugged at her Andorian combat knife before zipping up to her neck. Pulling forward a cowl than covered her head, she tapped a code onto an unseen pad within the suit above her right breast. Anthi suddenly became invisible excepting for a very faint silhouette seen only barely as she moved toward a Jefferies tube.
The hatch plate moved to the floor by unseen hands, a few seconds passed and was lifted back into place.
Kathryn smiled. "By the way Harrington, next time I tell you to turn over everything to me, do it. This time I'm glad you didn't." She tapped her badge twice.
Her badge vibrated as Karl responded silently. She tapped twice again to send the code designed to let Karl know that Anthi and Harrington's stealth suit were deployed.
5 minutes later
Kathryn looked at her PADD as it revealed the technical layout of the room beyond the doors. She grinned as the enemy red dots were congregated near a console, while the station crew green dots were huddled in a corner next to a single red dot. Anthi's blue dot slowly moved toward the lone red one. The rest of the Assault Team surrounded the room at both entrances. If Kathryn opened her door the turret would have a clear line of sight to the enemy. It would be too easy.
Inside the room
Anthi was three meters away from the Orion guard. He was a hulk of a man and was menacing the crew with a deadly stare. His back was to Anthi as she approached. She unzipped the suit, reached for her knife and charged. One scientist saw the knife appear out of nowhere and became visibly terrified. The Orion spun to look and raised the disruptor pistol as the blade flashed across his neck. Anthi grabbed the pistol and twisted it away with one hand. She spun the knife in her other hand then drove it hilt-deep into an eye socket. She was splashed with orange blood.
Outside the room
The blue and red dots touched. This was it. Kathryn pressed the trigger to the assault gun and braced herself. That was Harrington's sign to open the door. As the door hissed open the group of Orions spun around to face the attack. They drew weapons just as the assault gun released its charge. The automated turret clicked at it found targets and started firing large phaser bolts as well.
The group of Orions burst into mists of blood and puffs of smoke as the barrage of phaser bolts chewed and burned into them.
5 minutes later
"Solaris, this is the Captain. Crew is secured, Team is safe, situation under control. Stand by."
"Understood, Captain. Glad to hear your voice. Standing by."
She looked down the hallway to watch Anthi removing the stealth suit out of sight from everyone else in the room. Aldet was scanning the station crew with his tricorder and conducting necessary triage. Christa was talking with the lead researcher at a console, schematics concerning the stealth suit were visible between them. Karl was inspecting the Orion bodies for anything considered valuable to determine the 'why, who and what' of their coming to the station.
Kathryn walked to and knelt down to an Orion body. She tore at an arm sleeve. Karl watched her and looked at the exposed arm. A dark scar ran down the arm. He recognized the gang symbol and looked to Kathryn.
"Is that -"
Kathryn interrupted but did not look away. "Yes." She pulled out a tricorder and started scanning the bodies. Karl stood and watched, knowing the Captain owned the situation. Anthi walked up to Karl, surveyed the scene and waited as well. She finished and stood. "None of these." Kathryn stalked to the lone sentry Anthi dispatched and repeated her scan.
Once the scan was complete, the display informed Kathryn there was a match. She opened a smaller PADD strapped to her thigh, keyed in a command and struck through a name from a list. When she returned to Karl and Anthi, she pointed a thumb over her shoulder. "That was one of them."
"... and all enemy combatants were neutralized and the station was secured. Replacement parts and components are being transferred as we speak."
"Good work Captain Beringer. Are you sure you don't need Codorba to assist? Maybe a joint patrol of the system perhaps?" The Captain's bald head shined in the light of his Ready Room. He smirked slightly in a way that was inherently charming to Kathryn, but she couldn?t tell if that was a genuine feeling from her or not.
"Thank you Captain Daikar but unfortunately that will not be necessary." Unfortunately?! Kathryn's thought disappeared quickly. "By the time you arrive we'll have handled that and anything else. But if the situation gets worse I'll be sure to contact Starfleet with a special note to you?" She rolled her mind's eyes to herself.
"That would be welcome. I hope to hear from you in the future either way. Daikar out."
The screen went blank and Kathryn sighed in relief and looked at Anthi sitting on the other side of her desk. The First Officer leaned forward in her chair and rested her arms on the table. "Kathryn, officially speaking, have you told anyone in Starfleet about the details of your past?"
"Do you think my judgment is biased?"
Anthi sat back. "Not really, but I'm not in the mood to start doubting you."
"Good. Let me know when that happens. To answer your question ... no, and for the record, that is how it will stay."
"So, what happened here was ... coincidence?"
Kathryn nodded and smiled. "Luck more like it. So, lucky me, right?"
Literary Challenge 41 - Call to Arms
When the Stars Go Out
On the forward viewscreen, the stars streaked towards the Valkyrie as it raced toward the planet Mu'Na. Captain Amanda Palmer glanced around the bridge, the crew all going about their duties, every console in use. Not a single aspect of the ship was damaged, something for which Palmer was eminently grateful for. Closing her eyes briefly, she recalled the warmth of her soak at the Yuki Pocari bath house, relishing the memory, allowing it to warm her once more.
"Captain," the Mumbai accent of Midshipman Ramesh Kumar interrupted her reminiscence. "I'm receiving a priority one distress call from the Icarus research observatory, they are under attack from Klingon forces and fear they will be boarded."
Palmer did not immediately open her eyes, instead, she breathed deeply and clenched her jaw. Was a simple mission too much to ask for...
"Ensign T'Natra, what is our ETA at Mu'Na?" she enquired, folding one long leg over the other at the knee.
"At current velocity, nineteen hours, Captain," the Vulcan navigator crisply reported.
"Are there any other starships in the vicinity which could assist the observatory?" Palmer enquired.
"Aye, Captain," replied Commander Brandon Mayer from ops. "The Enterprise is within range, and already moving to assist, but we are still the closest ship, and will arrive first."
"Very well," Palmer replied. "Helm, lay in a course for the Icarus observatory at maximum warp. Mister Kumar, contact the observatory. Tell them that we acknowledge their distress call, and advise them of our ETA. Additionally, please hail the Enterprise and inform Captain Shon of our engagement."
"Aye, Captain," Kumar acknowledged, operating the communications console with a confidence normally reserved for seasoned communications officers, not third year cadets.
Lieutenant Commander Meliden Bowen frowned at the black synthleather strap in her hands and placed it on her desk. It had long ago ceased to strike her as strange that her office was on deck two, and separated from main engineering by four decks, now she simply enjoyed the solitude it afforded her.
"Compu- Claire, please make a complete scan of this device and create a workable replicator template," she said, momentarily forgetting the software upgrade which now afforded the Valkyrie's computer AI status.
"Working," replied the synthesized voice of the computer library access information retrieval engram. "Template complete."
"Do you know what this is?" Meliden asked, popping a broken, lozenge-shaped piece of equipment out of the wrist-strap. It had a four-directional control interface, and a series of other buttons which appeared to mirror the functions of a tricorder, but no display monitor was visible, only a raised, rectangular feature, and a round holo emitter in the center of the device.
"It is a prototype Type 6T tactical tricorder," Claire replied. "It has been extensively modified however, as the device was originally designed to be integrated into the gauntlet of heavy duty tactical armor, and was not originally outfitted with such memory capacity."
"I've never seen one before," Meliden admitted, turning the device over in her hands, running her thumb over the massive dent in the casing.
"The Type 6T never went into production," Claire explained. "Preliminary testing found that a large number of Betazoids, Deltans and Humans found the device created vertigo-like sensations when used, and the project was suspended."
"According to my preliminary scans, none of the internal components are damaged, just the external casing," Meliden said, placing the tricoder on the replicator tray beside the desk. "If the outer casing was replaced, would the device be functional?
"It would," Claire replied. "Do you want me to make the necessary modification?"
"Go ahead, and begin induction charging of the power cell," Meliden said, before she realized that she was now talking directly to the Valkyrie's computer just as easily as she would any crewmember via comm badge.
On the replicator tray, the tricorder shimmered as if captured in a transporter beam, momentarily losing solidity, then re-appearing. The damage to the exterior case was gone.
Suddenly, music began flowing from the comm speakers. A simple, repeating, flowing melody which Meliden eventually identified as Ludwig Van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
"Claire, why're you playing Beethoven?" she enquired.
"I am not," replied the computer's interface. "The music is being transmitted wirelessly to local speakers by the Type 6T. Upon charging, it would appear to have continued to run the last operation selected."
Reaching out, Meliden went to press a button to see if it would deactivate the music, but something momentarily dazzled her, a flash of azure light across her peripheral vision, and she involuntarily squeezed her eyes shut. In the darkness, she saw lines and text imprinted on the inside of her eyelids. Opening her eyes, she held the tricorder in front of her, and looked directly at it. An operating system menu appeared clearly in front of her, superimposed onto her retina by the device.
"Oooh," she cooed. "Aren't you beautiful!" Scrolling through the menus, she began to synch the device to her desktop terminal as the music continued to play. Teraquads of data appeared, archived and foldered.
"Unauthorized subroutines are infiltrating my operating system," Claire reported.
"Block them!" Meliden snapped, dropping the tricorder to the desk, and focusing her attention on the desk terminal.
"Unable to do so, the programming is sophisticated enough to over-ride my system," Claire replied. "Diagnostics reveal no harmful malware, but the Type 6T is now a fully integrated device, with full access to my libraries, as well as a remote access to the communications and transporter systems."
Meliden scrolled through the streaming code on her terminal, occasionally recognizing a functional command, or a clever exploitation of holes in the computer's operating system. The programming really was a work of genius. Many codes were tagged RLR and RLK, and things began to fall into place. Only a Starfleet science officer would have the ability to create a program which integrated so perfectly with a starship's computer core.
"I don't know who you were, but I like your style," Meliden muttered in admiration of the tricorder's former owner.
She clicked on a file labeled A and M, and immediately, a holo image appeared on the viewscreen, of a young dark haired boy, almost inverted, with a hoverboard strapped to his feet. The next image, was of a young girl, staring intently at the camera. Although she was a pretty child, with delicate features, her slate grey eyes glared from the viewscreen with an intensity which sent a chill down Meliden's spine. A folder labeled P had images of a handsome dark-haired man, with a confident wry grin, and Meliden recognized renowned engineer Paul Kane. The tricorder held a complete family album, as well as playlists of music and memo notes.
Replacing the tricorder in the wrist-strap, Meliden placed it on the desk, and reached up to tap her comm badge.
"Bowen to Kane: Siri, you're not going to believe what I've just found on that tricorder you gave me..."
"We will be reaching the Icarus observatory in five minutes, Captain," reported T'Natra.
Palmer turned to Lieutenant Elyse Fisher at the mission ops console to her left.
"What do we know about the Icarus observatory?" she enquired.
"It's a Starfleet weapons testing facility, housed in a J Class stellar observatory in orbit of Gienah," replied the strategic operations officer. "Extremely classified and sensitive work, I've been able to get no information from Command about the nature of their current projects, only that they are insistent that it not fall into the hands of the Klingons."
"Any identification on the attacking force?"
Years serving with Palmer allowed Elyse to understand the message in her captain's verbal shorthand.
"If the reports from Icarus are accurate, it would appear to be a ch'tang class bird of prey," she replied, a note of tense foreboding in her voice. "We might have quite a fight on our hands, before the Enterprise arrives..."
"It's just a matter of timing, and knowing where to stick the knife, Miss Fisher," Palmer replied, drumming her fingers on the arm of her command chair. "Mister Chanos, please prepare a tricobalt device for transport, and then ready an assault team to secure the observatory."
"Aye, Captain," replied the Bolian chief of security, turning control of the tactical console over to his deputy, Lieutenant Arlandria Chambers, before crossing the rear of the bridge to the turbolift.
"Long-range sensors are detecting the Klingon ship," reported Mayer. "They would appear to be holding position within transporter range of the observatory. I'm picking up damage to the observatory and residual signs of weapons fire, as well as a strong voltarium signature."
"An artificial unstable radioactive element," Mayer clarified.
"Thank you, Commander, I know what it is, I was merely surprised at its presence," Palmer replied, resting her elbows on the arm rests of her command chair and steepling her fingers. "Commander, can you pinpoint the location of the voltarium?"
"Aye, Captain," Mayer crisply responded. "Sensors are picking up massive quantities aboard the observatory."
"Are you detecting any aboard the bird of prey?"
"No ma'am, it's all aboard the station," Mayer confirmed.
"That means the Klingons haven't got their hands on it yet," she mused. "How long till we reach the observatory, Miss T'Natra?"
"Two minutes, Captain," she replied, not needing to check her console for the answer.
"Maintain present speed until we are nine seconds from the station, then perform an emergency down-warp behind the Klingon vessel."
"Aye, Captain," T'Natra responded, entering commands into the helm.
"Palmer to Chanos: How are we doing, Commander?"
"Tricobalt device made safe for transport," Chanos' voice reported over the intercom. "Only a point five percent reduction in yield."
"Excellent... Bridge to transporter room two: Lock onto the modified tricobalt device with Commander Chanos, and prepare to beam it to the engine room of the Klingon vessel we are approaching on my mark."
"Aye, Captain," responded the voice of th'Shaan. "Coordinates locked in, standing by for your command."
"Captain," said T'Natra. "We are less than twenty seconds from the station. Preparing for emergency down-warp..."
Not taking her attention from the tactical view of the system on her arm rest, Palmer's eyes were locked on the chronometer.
"Hold your course and speed..." she decided.
"Aye, Captain," T'Natra replied, surprise registering in her voice. "ETA now at eight seconds..."
"Steady..." Palmer began to count in her head
Seven... Six... Five...
"Emergency down-warp NOW!" Palmer commanded. "Chief th'Shaan, Energize!"
Around the edges of the viewscreen, the streaking stars fluctuated, and there was a coruscating whiteness as the Valkyrie dropped out of warp, replaced with the ungainly sight of the ch'tang class bird of prey directly ahead.
The collision alert warning flashed on the viewscreen, before the Klingon ship transformed into a cloud of orange and yellow destruction.
The Valkyrie punched through the cloud, and out the other side, like a phoenix rising from the fire, the ablative armor handling the heat and debris, like an umbrella deflecting the rain.
"Excellent work, people," Palmer congratulated her officers. "Helm, bring us about, and take up a position by the observatory. Palmer to Chanos: Commander, you may now transport your assault team to the observatory. Prepare for heavy resistance, any Klingons aboard the observatory have nothing to lose. Allow them an honorable death, if that is their choice."
"Aye, Captain," replied Chanos' gravelly voice. "Energising now."
No sooner had the transporter beam released him, Bellic Chanos saw a mek'leth swinging towards his head. However, sparring with the grandson of a dahar master had more than prepared the tactical officer for whatever the foot-soldiers of the Empire had to throw at him. Dropping his phaser rifle, the muscular Bolian moved in toward his attacker, crouching, then rising, in a flawless mok'bara form, the heel of his palm driving upwards to slam the Klingon's jaw together with enough force to break his teeth, and he flew backwards off his feet to lay in a crumpled heap.
Thanks, Ryan... Chanos thought somberly as he picked up his rifle and the fallen mek'leth.
"Commander, I'm picking up a dozen lifesigns, accompanied by Federation comm badge signals four hundred meters ahead, and one deck down," reported Lieutenant Anton Jarre. "It looks like the Klingons have secured the researchers in one of the cargo bays."
"Acknowledged," replied Chanos, casting an eye over the half-dozen officers of his assault team. "Stay sharp, we have no idea how many more Klingon troops we will encounter. Let's move out."
Gustav heard the sound of phaser fire from beyond the cargo bay and heard the distinctive hiss of a Federation phaser. Moments later, the bay doors opened, and a Bolian in tactical armor entered the enclosed space.
"I'm Commander Bellic Chanos from the Federation Starship Valkyrie. Who's in charge here?"
Gustav raised his hand.
"I'm Professor Gustav Rotwang, the head researcher," he said, getting to his feet. "Are they gone? The Klingons?"
"All dealt with," Chanos replied. "What happened, Professor? Why did the Klingons attack you?"
"We've been working on a weapon system," Gustav began. "A torpedo capable of making a star go supernova."
"As with a trilithium warhead," Chanos stated, but Gustav shook his head.
"Not quite, Commander. By comparison, a trilithium warhead is like a fire-cracker in a kasawa melon. Trilithium inhibits the nuclear reactions within a star, creating an implosion which creates a subspace shockwave. We have been experimenting with voltarium to create a device which instead destabilizes a star's gravity.
"A sun's gravity exerts a tremendous amount of pressure inward, while the ongoing fusion reaction exerts a constant outward pressure. Therefore, a star is in a constant state of balance. Our aim was to unbalance this equilibrium by negating the star's inherent gravity, causing a runaway fusion reaction of stellar proportions. With no gravity, the hydrogen gas which was undergoing fusion disperses in all directions, exploding and destroying everything in its path."
Chanos was silently awed by the concept.
"The Klingon ship has been destroyed, and their boarding party has been neutralized, but is there any way that this information could have been transmitted to the Empire? Is there any chance that they could have broken your encryption codes?"
"They did not need to," Gustav replied quietly. "When I refused to co-operate, those Klingon dogs threatened my daughter! They put my Maria in an airlock and began the cycle! I had no choice, Commander, surely you understand the position I was in?"
Silently, Chanos sympathized, knowing to what lengths he would go to to protect his own family, if someone was to threaten his wife or nephew. He looked about the cargo bay, and the traumatized scientists, but could see no children.
"Where is your daughter now, Professor?" he asked, suspecting he already knew the answer.
"After I told them, they opened the outer door anyway! They thought it was a joke, and laughed at my weakness. What kind of animals would do that to an innocent child?"
"If it is of any comfort, they no longer live either," Chanos said, reaching up to tap his comm badge. "Chanos to Valkyrie: Captain, the observatory has been secured, but the project data has been compromised. I have a dozen civilian scientists here who may be in need of medical attention."
"Understood, Commander," Palmer's voice responded. "You may have to wait a while though, we rather have our hands full here. You might want to prepare for more boarders."
Palmer clung to the ops console, trying not to be thrown to the deck by the pounding the Valkyrie was taking from the Negh'Var class battle cruiser. At almost six times the size of the Nova class vessel, Palmer knew they were ludicrously out-gunned, but she had no intention of withdrawing. Not while she had crew on the observatory, or civilian lives to protect. Such was her sworn duty as a starship captain.
"Miss T'Natra, take evasive action!" she snapped, as she watched the battle cruiser drawing ever closer on the viewscreen.
"Aye, Captain," replied T'Natra, "Initiating evasive maneuvers..."
On the screen, the collision alert began to flash again.
"Ensign, I said evasive action!" Palmer shouted.
"Aye, Captain," T'Natra repeated, suddenly veering off to starboard, and bringing the Valkyrie perilously close to the forward hull of the Klingon cruiser, flying within the radius of the disruptor banks.
"Firing phasers," Mayer reported from tactical.
As the Valkyrie passed along the hull of the Negh'Var, the ventral phaser banks lashed out, joining the two ships with a golden beam of energy. As the Valkyrie approached the port nacelle, T'Natra threw the ship into a steep climb, before banking round and swooping back down to make another run along the hull from stern to bow. Palmer felt her stomach lurching as her eyes fed conflicting motion information to what her body told her was solid ground.
"A little advanced notice would be appreciated in the future, Miss T'Natra," she said. "This is a starship, not a fighter..."
"Understood, Captain," replied T'Natra with that maddening Vulcan calm. "Could you possibly disable the proximity alerts? I am not going to hit anything..."
Tapping an override command into the ops console, Palmer glanced across at the Vulcan woman beside her, and saw an excited sparkle in her charcoal grey eyes.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" she enquired.
T'Natra's gaze did not shift from the viewscreen, and her slender fingers continued to dance across the helm console like a concert pianist, but she did raise an eyebrow.
"There is no need to be insulting, Captain," she replied dryly. "Although it is rather stimulating to have a challenge. It is a shame my shift will finish in five minutes..."
Palmer smiled at the sublime humor, then glanced at the viewscreen and had a thought.
"Brandon, target a spread of quantum torpedoes on -- these coordinates..."
From the Valkyrie's rear torpedo launcher, blueish white globes sped away, before slamming into the raised section of the Negh'Var's upper hull.
"That should take care of their communications array..." Palmer muttered. "Helm, prepare to come about for another pass..."
"Captain," called Mayer. "Sensors are picking up another starship approaching, it's the Enterprise!"
Dropping out of warp, the Odyssey class cruiser charged into the fray, unleashing wave after wave of quantum torpedoes and scouring the Negh'Var with phaser fire. Finally overloaded by an onslaught greater than the Valkyrie could dish out, the Negh'Var began to break apart, explosions breaking through from deep within the superstructure.
"Captain, incoming hail from the Enterprise," Kumar reported, clinging to his console as if his life depended upon it.
"On screen," Palmer ordered, as the Valkyrie banked away from the exploding Klingon ship.
"Sorry we're late, Amanda," said Captain Va'Kel Shon. "I trust you are not too severely damaged."
Palmer glanced about the bridge and shook her head. A few consoles had overloaded, and an ODN bundle had come loose from the ceiling.
"Nothing we can't handle ourselves, Captain, but we appreciate your intervention," she replied. "I still have an assault team on the observatory. May I suggest you evacuate the research staff? You have more extensive facilities aboard the Enterprise to deal with them than we can offer."
The Andorian captain nodded.
"Not a problem," he replied. "Have you any idea what all this mess was over?"
"As yet, no," Palmer admitted. "My chief of security is on the observatory, and he has reported that whatever the researchers were working on, the data has been compromised, although we have no way of knowing if that has been transmitted to the Empire."
"We can only hope not," Shon replied. "I'll contact you when we have the researchers aboard. Enterprise out."
Taking a deep breath, Palmer slowly rose to her feet from behind the ops console.
"Bring us back to the observatory, Miss T'Natra," she said. "Brandon, contact Commander Chanos and have him prepare the researchers for evacuation to the Enterprise. You have the bridge, Commander. If you need me, I'll be in my quarters..."
"Captain's Log, stardate...oh hell let's just start from the beginning..."
"I can't believe it, finally some shore leave!" Barclay exclaimed.
"Please try to contain yourself for the next 3 hours Commander Barclay" Foley said with a calm excitement
Admiral Ryan Foley, although he prefers the title of captain, and the crew of the Enceladus have been operating non-stop combat runs for about 8 months straight. They had been granted a 4 day shore leave on the planet of Risa on their way back to ESD to be debriefed.
The senior staff is currently having dinner in the captain's quarters:
"I don't quite see the logic in spending the day laying on the beach doing nothing." Foley's first officer V'lar blurts out.
"Well clearly, it's illogical to not relax!" the CSO, Amanda Barclay (Yes, daughter of Reg) replies.
"I think that--" In mid sentence, Foley is interrupted by a Red Alert.
"Report" Foley says as he exits the turbo lift stepping onto the bridge.
"Sir, we received a distress call from a research station in the Bomari system. The Dark Angel is en route but over a day away. I was unaware we had one there..." Lt. Commander Korva says to Foley, inquiring at the same time.
"Plot a course, maximum warp. Looks like Risa will have to wait." Foley orders.
42 minutes later...
"We are coming in now sir....what the...?" Korva says.
Every console has the Greek Letter Omega displayed. Foley walks over and types in a code on his captain's chair console. The displays return to normal.
"Everyone here will ignore what they saw. Status of the station?" Foley quickly says.
"Sir, it appears that somehow a group of Orions secured the station. They are making their way to the operations center. Once there, they will control the station." V'lar reads from the console.
"V'lar, you have the bridge, contact Starfleet Command, tell them exactly this, Omega Directive, our position, standing by. That's all. Korva, Migati, Nerrak, and Twelve, meet me in transporter room 1."
The transporter room always felt cold to Foley, but he shrugs it off and simply says, "energize"
The tingle of the transporter wears off as they beam into a dark and damp hallway. Clear signs of weapons fire and a dead security officer lays on the ground.
"This way" Foley says as they draw their weapons.
The lights flicker on and off as they proceed through corridors of pure silence say the sounds of vents releasing coolant.
All of a sudden disruptor fire starts.
"Go home Starfleet, or die like your puny friends" a deep male voice shouts.
Foley nods to Korva, his chief of security and a Klingon could not wait to engage the Orions, she opens fire, dropping one of the Orions before getting pinned down again.
"The Orions were waiting for us, they have us outnumbered four to one sir" Twelve shouts.
"Get ready to-" Foley is interrupted for the second time today
-The com on the station sounds-
~~"Orions on the station, this is Lt. Commander V'lar of the Federation Starship Enceladus. We have three starships surrounding the station. Please do the logical thing and surrender to the officers on the station. If you do not, I will have no choice but to destroy the station and you. You have 10 seconds to comply."
"There is no way Starfleet could get here that fast..." Foley says to himself.
The Orions talk to themselves for a second before dropping their weapons.
Foley and his team secure the prisoners before they are beamed to the brig on the Enceladus.
After beaming to the ship, Foley notices they are re-docking. He smiles and walks to the turbo lift.
A fleet of starships arrives and the Enceladus is relieved.
"You lied V'lar, not very Vulcan of you." Foley says with a smirk on his face.
V'lar looks and him and she simply says, "I did not lie sir, while in Multi-Vector Assault Mode, the Enceladus is numerically three separate ships."
"Technicalities V. But thank you for the rescue. I know you have only been my first officer for a month, but I made the right choice. You will be a fine captain some day." Foley says as he and V'lar walk out of his ready room to the bridge.
"Helm, Risa. Maximum warp, we only have three days left. Engage." Foley says as he sits in his chair.
Captain's Log - Listed stardate 2413-04-05
Audiovisual Replay Authorization S31
Audiovisual Replay - Operation Rabbit Hutch
Audiovisual Replay notes - At 2413-04-04, standard Earth time 2200 hours, Task Force Seven was diverted from standard assignment patrol to converge in Eta Eridani. This operation was officially recorded as a response to coincident Klingon and Borg incursion. In actuality, a blockade happened on Starbase Redacted. Hostile complement: Strike fleet of cruisers, support vessels, and boarding assault craft. Enemy unknown. Origin unknown. Capabilities unknown.
Involved personnel: Starfleet Archaelogy department complement, New Romulan Science Team 4 and seven Escort teams.
Starbase Redacted classified transmission signal ceased 20 minutes post contact. Presumption FUBAR. Cypher Nine was to divert all ships in command to Starbase Redacted and coordinate tactical resolution. Failsafe protocol in effect as per CO discretion. Extreme prejudice authorized.
This Audiovisual Replay was taken from Cypher Nine headcam. For eyes only.
USS Aegis, Transporter Room Two
"Headcam online, Admiral," Pion's voice sounded throughout the Aegis's Transporter Room Two. The lights were dimmed as protocol for the advanced tactical escort prototype while at Red Alert and under cloak. Engineering had the colours tuned to a deeper orange, a setting that conferred adequate illumination for most humanoids to see while minimizing power drain on crucial systems. Pion however, did not have that setting in her, so the photonic officer shone in the dark like a celestial being as she tapped away on the pattern buffering console.
The ship was in silent running with warp muffler running at full capacity, but even that failed to completely cut out the subspace hum of her warp core being taxed deep into the red. As such, over the hushed whispers of power armoured tactical officers in the Aegis? various assault transporters, they knew their ship was pushing Warp 19, underscoring the urgency of the situation.
"All hands, sound off," Vice Admiral Kha Yuung said over the entangled fermion transmitters.
"Beta squad, ready." Captain Nishizumi replied first.
"Gamma squad, ready." Said another Hazard in thick Caitian accent.
"One of Five, ready." That was a handful of Hachi?s liberated Borg waiting at Transporter Four.
Yuung looked at his own complement of Borg officers in mat-gray MACO armor, Eleven and Hachi, then acknowledged, "Alpha squad, ready. Stay frosty, Sevens."
"Hoo-ah," the other squads replied.
"The Yamato is signalling as ready, Admiral." Pion reported next.
"Good," Yuung said. "Proceed as planned."
With that command, Yuung mentally called up a passive sensor feed into his armor's HUD. He counted eight katamaran-style ships holding orbit around the Starbase behind them. The result was blurry and fuzzing, the effect of passive sensors having typically poor resolution at such ranges. There were also smaller ones, possibly frigates and escort craft, shaped in ridged domes like Terran coral -- Kha however could not tell exactly what the ridges were for with his vision this obscured. One by one, their aft warp nacelles lit up and the fleet moved into a new formation. This told Yuung that the rest of the uncloaked Task Force, even though they were still a couple hours out, was already alerting the blockading forces with their warp signatures. All fine and dandy, as the Yamato dreadnought cruiser and the Aegis were warming up for short-range transwarp. With his signal, the two cloaked vessels would jump in and engage the Unknowns in pincer fomation. With the split second transition from cloak to shields, the Yamato and Aegis would dimensionally shift their MACO-shrouded Hazards into Starbase Redacted. Each squad was to sweep their designated sector for any personnel and their cargo, recover them, and beam back. Stealth was key in this mission, as the complete lack of intel as to who and what were these aliens here for meant many assumptions had to be taken so direct conflict was best avoided. In fact, they would have favoured a more diplomatic approach, had the Unknowns not ignored all of Starfleet's hails, shot down every ship in range on their way into the starbase, and good ol' Drake had not rung him to say that there was a problem.
And so, here Kha Yuung was, hurtling through subspace with his best men, going to clean up a mess started by a careless Section Agent, again. Drake assured that the errant officer has been duly dealt with, but that made him feel as much better as a spot of Romulan ale would have. Drake even felt sorry enough to give Yuung a name of the item he was searching for, 'Rabbit's Foot'. And in spy terms, that's like giving the Admiral the full roster of every operative working behind Federation lines. Needed but useless at the same time.
The deck shifting slightly beneath his feet as the Aegis suddenly barrel rolled made Yuung's heart sink.
"They have detected us, somehow!" Pion announced. "Powerups detected on parts of the Unknown hull again. They are firing some sort of antichroniton cannon at us!"
"Ryzak, Evasive manoeuvres." Kha ordered. "All hands, drop positions!"
On command, photonic rails materialized on each transporter pad, and Kha grabbed on as the Aegis rolled in another direction, barely avoiding bare hull hits from the prismatic energy blasts. The admiral then noticed silver-white puffs erupting from the larger twin-hulled vessels into streaking parabolas.
"Torpedoes? Are those torpedoes?" Pion wondered aloud.
Up ahead, the Yamato's two hangar bays were rolling aside shutters as the ship dropped her guise. Out screamed a cloud of shuttlecraft as point defense turrets on cruiser and small craft alike spun to life, all of them spitting a hail of fine phaser bolts that lit the whole of space with exploding missiles and energy bursts. The Aegis carried on, still under cloak, using the agile dreadnought and shuttle wing as cover while banking and weaving through the few stray comets that managed to get through.
"Remind me to thank Uras'kalan for equipping those shuttles with PDTs." Yuung noted.
Pion started tapping on her console faster.
"Countdown to drop. Ten... Nine..."
Kha tucked his phaser battle rifle under his free arm. "On my mark!"
"...Three... Two... One!!" Pion finished.
USS Aegis, Ops Bridge
"We have lost the view feed."
Captain Ryzak spoke as his CO's point of view cut out from his console. A stray bolt to shields rocked him and his crew about their safety restraints for a bit. Even then, his Vulcan calm stayed in voice and in posture.
"Dimensional shifting has introduced a microvariance into the fermion coupling signal, Sir." Pion's avatar at Science Two reported in a much more frazzled tone. "Attempting to compensate."
"With haste, Photonic Officer," Ryzak said, then turned to Tactical.
"Takes us about to vector 270 mark 084 and fire a cannon volley, maximum spread."
As Ryzak glared intently at the unfolding battle, the saucer ship Aegis instantly banked to port as ordered, tearing away from the dim starbase and her hull guns burst to life, lighting up the hostile shields with impact ripples as she went for a strafting run.
"Target the small craft as they emerge. Fire at will."
The escort's firestorm shifted focus into dense cones sweeping the space around her. Her aft cannons converged on a fleeing frigate, rippling on a sliver of forcefield before the rest of the fusilade rended through the hull and left an exploding wreck in its place.
A computer alarm went off; the conn reacted; and the Aegis banked starboard, impulse at full as a twin-hulled cruiser had lumbered into the tiny ship's path. A array lit up across the frame as the unseen gunner locked on and fired. It however caught the shielded saucer of a pitching Galaxy-X. A brief exchange of beams and cannons followed before a phaser blast shredded the katamaran ship's glowing deflector. Suddenly robbed of its shields, the Unknown started peeling off; but the ever-efficient Yamato had a full spread of shining silver quantum torpedo shrieking out of its wide angled launcher and crumpling half the target with subatomic eruptions.
USS Yamato, Main Bridge
"Target is heavily damaged, Sir."
The bridge at red alert lay dimmed as Commander Hayase, temporarily assigned to Tactical One, read off the sensor report.
"Launch a cluster torpedo and keep pace with the Aegis," Captain Minase replied.
A puff of contrail flew out from the aft launcher pod and momentarily ceased as the cylinder popped open like a death blossom, scattering dark leaflets into the vacuum. Then, each transphasic seed lit impulse and swirled off with haste. For a moment, there was a meteor shower in deep space, then the bomblets smashed home. Some glanced off a hastily erected forcefield, others blasted into geysers of fire and debris, and a few penetrated the ruined hull, crossed the internal void and slammed into the other secondary fuselage. Unnamed shadows shifted as crew within a towering boom that could pass for a bridge scrambled for safety before as a lucky salvo reduced it to a tangled hulk.
"Target is out of combat."
"Harasho, Number One."
On the main viewer, the Aegis cleared the firing line and fading back into cloak, bolts and torpedoes whizzing into nothingness.
"Circle around and shoot anything that tries to get back at the station. Attack Pattern Delta."
Minase tapped her combadge.
"Pion, what's the hold-up? We need an update on the boarding parties, now!"
"I'm just a computer!" wailed Pion's disembodied voice. "I can't just wave away a fermion decoupling, not without rebuilding the harmonic signal first!!"
"Then, do it!"
Starbase Redacted, Deck 15
"This is Beta Squad," Captain Nishizumi said as she watched the rest of her five-woman team pack themselves into the Jeffrey's tube junction. The glare of the lighting was almost blinding and the officers were spared only because their MACO suits had adapted with tint. "We're two decks away from our intended position, but we're intact."
"Have you been discovered?" Minase's voice crackled over the semi-compensated frequency.
"No, we have not engaged any hostiles yet, or is there any semblance of a red alert at all," replied the boarding party captain. "The lights have been turned on really bright."
She glanced down at her Science officer Isuzu's tricorder.
"We're reading every EM spectrum from microwave to gamma ray and the atmosphere is flooded with GN particles. We can't move near Engineering without disrupting some kind of radiation field and getting some kind of attention."
The engineering officer paused to check the proximity alarms of her improvised explosive devices she planted on the way there.
"But no one is coming towards us for now."
Another pause as their acting CO considered options.
"Alright, Beta squad, work your way to Engineering. Take the long route if you have, just get there in 10 minutes and kill the lights."
Nishizumi nodded to her team and started climbing.
USS Yamato, Main Bridge
Iori had her arms crossed, left index finger tapping on her arm, and sharp annoyance creased visibly on her face. She had specifically told Kha that dimensional shifting to penetrate the starbase shields even with MACO protection was a very bad idea, especially with a 30% chance of just a fermion link disruption at best. But now she had lost contact with 3 boarding parties, the Admiral's included, and the only one she found was off course.
And so, here was Minase Iori, having to clean up the mess of a reckless Section Agent while getting pounded by lifeforms hell bent on turning the Yamato to scrap if they could. Even though she and most of her crew of 1000 was not even part of the shadow organization.
"Pion, where is everyone?!"
"I'm rebuilding the second harmonic signal, just searching for a quantum frequency to latch on to."
"Time, Pion. Time."
"I estimate another 7 minutes and 22 seconds."
"My people are getting killed down there for all I know. You have 5!"
"No waaay..." the computer complained.
"Captain," Minami at Science Two said next as she looked back from her aft-facing terminal. "I have LOS comms with Gamma squad."
"LOS comms?" Commander Kosaka noted to her captain in a questioning tone.
"That means we've got a squad in big trouble." Minase replied. "Patch us through."
Starbase Redacted, Main Space Dock, Outer Hull
Lt Comm Aric Jorgan, tail floating like a sail behind him, was sprinting for his life, if bipedaling rapidly across neutronium bulkheads while being gravo-magnetically attracted to the hull in a zero G environment could be considered sprinting. Having hot-wired the auxiliary comms array into a signal booster, the tactical officer had to clear the vast open expanse to a half-destroyed maintenance hatch where the rest of Gamma Squad was sheltered. After making an unceremonious transport into open space, they've spent precious seconds looking for an entrance into the starbase, but the best they got was a crumpled doorway that would not let anyone through.
"At least it would give us half a second of breathing before getting vaporized by energy bleedthrough," Aric noted wryly.
"Gamma squad, report!" Minase said over standard comms.
"We're in the middle of nowhere, Captain!" Jorgan replied then almost jumped as the wave of impact washed over them as a beam penetrated the starbase shields and singed the hull half a click behind them. "Front row view to the biggest turkey shoot in this sector. Not that I care for the scenery, but the door's locked!"
The squad rocked a little as an alien torpedo erupted a little too close for comfort.
"We've covered about a square click of dock hull, Captain, but there's still no way in. You're going to have to guide us, can't scout properly with so much danger close."
The squad's tricorders bleeped in their ears once. Aric pricked his ears on instinct and quickly scanned the horizon.
"Multiple bogeys coming out of their holes!" Jorgan yelled. "In this horrid weather? Are these hairballs on hypernip?"
USS Yamato, Main Bridge
"Helm, move us between Gamma Squad and the oncoming fleet," Minase said while typing furiously. "Aegis, you're going to have to help us thin the flock."
"Captain," Ayase reported again. "I've managed to work out the frequency of the starbase shield and tied it to our own. We can merge forcefields with the starbase and allow our weapons to fire on the starbase hull."
Iori nodded. Finally, some good news.
"Bring the rain, Mister Ayase."
"Captain, I've found a working Jeffery's tube going in at Deck 9 on the anti-spinward side," Tojou reported from Ops. "It's 2 kilometers away and there's lots of debris in between, but I can guide them there."
"Make it so!"
Gamma Squad, Phaser Bait
The five man team of reds were double-timing along the holographic guide line projected into their HUDs while the stars criss-crossed with flame and fire.
"Glad you could make it to the party, Yamato." Jorgan said as Eri passed over his party on sensor view, lining up the starship's phaser arrays to burn out hostiles closing in on them.
"Remember, if you see a bunch of guys with the flashing UV strobe, DO NOT SHOOT. That's US. It's a little low-tech, but if they scramble your sensors you can still see it on periscope."
"You don't have to tell me that," Eri replied as she dabbed on another cluster of aliens and vaporized them. "They teach us that in the Academy too, you know."
"Acknowledged, Sir," Jorgan chucked at Eri in between huff-puffs and phaser shots. MACOs had a good rivalry going with Starfleet since their revival. And with many officers regarding the "Redshirts" as "a necessary evil", the grunts just rarely got along with the shipsters.
But as the venerable dreadnought lumbered in to blot out the sky, Jorgan couldn't help but feel a little more at ease. He hip-fired at some figures in the distance, catching the lead troop in what he thought were the shoulders, then a bolt of flaming orange came down and took care of the rest.
Inwardly, he cursed the silence and smell-lessness of EVA combat. Federation training tempered his hunter's instinct into a fine blade, but the Caitian often found space fights to be as if he was watching a holonovel rather than getting up close and personal. Oh, what rush it would be to feel the shockwave wash over, or smell the burnt paint of a downed bogey vaporized by starship bombardment!
He changed rifles, cocked a round into place, then fired off the underslung proton torpedo launcher into the distance, blasting another group off into orbit. He then signaled his squad to take cover behind another auxiliary sensor tower before piling in himself. A bright flash above saw the Yamato shields weathering rainbow antichroniton blasts while launching shining torpedoes in reply.
Aric smiled. For now, it will do.
USS Yamato, Main Bridge
Things weren't as rosy as it seems. Even if the shields were holding, antichroniton particles exerted a direct effect on the hull beneath. Especially when time in the affected sections immediately under the hit was passing faster than different parts of the ship, command and control had almost completely shut down in those areas when orders that hadn't been issue arrived and people were bumping into their past and future selves as the chroniton fields elapsed and dispersed.
Pion replicated herself into chroniton-infused clones then posted them to the affected sections while everyone else was evacuated deeper into the ship's core, were the tachyokinetic converters were able to keep chroniton levels high enough to counter the antichroniton effects. That worked well, but that required immense power diverted from Auxiliary to the ship's emergency batteries, which meant that the Assimilated equipment didn't have enough power to repair the ship at their usual pace. And since Eight built the Yamato around regeneration, the Yamato was slowly losing the war of attrition.
Iori was mentally racing a hundred parsecs an hour. They needed to either find a breakthrough, or the remaining away teams find the 'Rabbit's Foot', or there's be more exploding hulks in the middle of nowhere.
"Could had been worse," Iori mused wryly as the ship jostled slightly to several hits to the stoarboard shields. "The bridge consoles could be blast officers into space without seatbelts."
The Pion on the bridge -- if that was the original Pion -- cheered in victory, prompting a not-amused glare from Minase in her direction.
"I've finished reharmonizing the fermions!" The Photonic officer explained. "Kha and the Liberated squad have just checked in."
Starbase Redacted, Shipyard
Yuung felt this would have been better called a graveyard as his group floated silently through the vacuum. The void was thickened by debris and the photon emitters have all been smashed, providing perfect cover for the infiltrators as well as providing the perfect atmosphere for a summer's night of horror stories. Once functional Mirandas and Oberths were now spoke-tangled wrecks for him to bounce about. A couple of Borg joined Eight and Eleven, the rest of Five's squad had phased into a deeper part of the starbase and were working their way up.
Which leaves them in their current state, bouncing across half a click of wreck. This wasn't Kha's idea of a quick operation. The group then landed on a shattered saucer-section and quickly magnetized to the hull. In a low crouching gait, the MACOs bound forward under artificial gravitic pull and stopped just short of the edge. Eleven raised his finger over the edge, CMOS chip on the tip faintly gleaming as he scanned the last few decameters to the Jeffery's tube they detected.
"Two targets standing watch." Eleven replied. "Another 2 by the turbolift doors. Power levels indicate that the area has been shut down."
"Looks like they have this place covered," Yuung said. "Two, tactical analysis."
The female Borg officer took a moment to download Eleven's data records and her eyes shifted as she scanned through an invisible readout.
"Sir, these are quadrupedal lifeforms with highly developed musclature possibly capable generating a hundred Newtons of force. They carry antiproton assault weapons with edges that appear meant for close combat. Lifeform not registered in database. Assigning designation Species 56453219."
She took another moment to formulate.
"Recommend stealth followed by disabling nanite infection before tactical disposal, Sir."
"Sounds like a plan." Yuung said as he signaled the Liberated to break into 2 groups, leaving him at the perch. The Admiral scoped up and peered at pair of hostiles standing watch over the Jeffery's tube access.
"Yamato to Alpha squad. Come in, Alpha squad."
"I'm a little busy," Kha breathed.
"We're down to 5 men, but we're close to the target area."
"Acknowledged." Iori said. "I told you this was a bad idea."
[To Be Continued]
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