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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 73
06-02-2011, 10:35 AM
Title: Flashback

The Sahale’s hull groaned and popped. On the bridge, an EPS juncture burst, rupturing a nearby coolant pipe, and showering the debris-strewn deck with sparks and a jet of acrid-smelling white vapor.

Rynwon Ka'quila Ea'arhone stood behind ops, a green hand lightly on the back of the station’s chair. She felt the ship buck beneath her and the inertial dampening field shift, wobble, then stabilize. It still amazed her crew that she could remain upright under such conditions.

She concentrated on the console’s tactical display, glancing up at the main viewer. A flickering crack split the viewscreen nearly in half, but it was still possible to make out the looming mass of a star through the static.

She breathed deeply, feeling through the sensations that assaulted her. Her long ears were pinned back to her head in concentration.

Then she reached down and typed. “This should be the correct course, Mister Bariel. Engage at maximum warp.”

“Aye, sir.” The Bajoran Lieutenant swallowed hard. He only vaguely understood what they were attempting, but he knew it was dangerous, even if the ship had been in mint condition. He also knew they had little choice.

The ship lurched forward toward the star, its groans shading into screams.

- - - - -

Rynwon knew it was coming, but when it happened, it still took her by surprise.

In line with Ea tradition, she had been accompanying members of her clan on routine missions for some time. Following the ecological collapse of the Ea homeworld during a period roughly equivalent to Earth’s mid-twenty-first century, the entire species had relocated to space. The majority remained focused on restoring their former home and cultivating a oneness with the cosmos, but a few groups—the Rhone chief among them—not only tolerated interactions with outsiders, but sought them out.

The Rhone had found particular success operating on the edges of Federation space, escorting freighter convoys moving through dangerous areas and transports carrying sensitive materials or important persons. They were not, however, mercenaries, a term they disliked intensely. Rather, they balanced Ea military tradition with their general devotion to “the Way,” Alqui'osh'a, or following the lead of the natural world. They limited their work to protection only.

Since reaching maturity, Rynwon had been granted a seat at the inner circle of the bridge. She watched those around her carefully, practicing the active meditation techniques her people used in the midst of battle. She knew one day she would be asked to take command of the ship, but she always assumed that day would be tomorrow.

It was on a mission protecting three freighters carrying medical supplies to a disease-ravaged farming colony that she was called to stand.

Rhone commanders always stood. It was said that they could feel the flow of battle more easily that way. Learning to remain upright while reading the pitch and vibration of the ship underfoot was a part of their meditative training. Rynwon had practiced endlessly in simulations. But when she heard one of the elders call her name, her legs felt suddenly weak and she had to struggle to her feet.

The battle was a short one. The convoy was attacked by what seemed to be an independent group of pirates. They may have had links to the Syndicate, but did not have the resources to match. They used a heavily modified, combat-scarred freighter that launched several armed shuttles, some with weapons strapped clumsily to their hulls. Still, they were dangerous, if for no more reason than that they were desperate.

After it was all over, Rynwon could not sit fast enough. She felt spent, and yet happy. Commanding a starship had come naturally to her, and nothing was more pleasing than that.

- - - - -

The Sahale swung wildly around the star, exiting warp at nearly the same place it entered. But not at the same time.

The ship had traveled backwards several minutes. The main viewer showed the other Sahale—or an earlier version of it—shields flickering, on the verge of collapse, a plasma leak from one of its warp engines like a ugly green scar across the sky, limping away from the sleek, predatory silhouette of a Klingon battlecruiser.

Rynwon regained her senses earlier than the rest of the bridge crew. A few continued to stare at nothing, looking dazed. She reached down and squeezed Bariel Laan’s shoulder. “Now, Mister Bariel.”

He blinked once, then found his own senses. He tapped at his console quickly and with purpose.

The Sahale’s phasers stabbed outward, striking the Klingon’s thinned rear shields. A second burst followed, and then a salvo of torpedoes, and finally a third volley of phaser fire. The battlecruiser shuddered, pitching forward, just as the original Sahale disappeared in a flash of light, warping toward the star.

“Klingon’s shields are down, sir.” The mixture of shock and relief in Lieutenant Bariel’s voice was audible. “I’m reading significant damage to their warp drive, and their weapons are offline.”

Rynwon’s ears raised a little. “Very good, Mister Bariel.” She turned to the officer at the conn. “Send a message offering terms of surrend…”

Before she could finish, a massive explosion tore open the aft superstructure of the battlecruiser. It was followed a moment later by a brilliant flash. The damaged viewscreen took a minute to finally readjust. The Klingon ship was now gone, replaced by a shell of gas and dust.

“It…I think it was a warp core breach, sir. We must have landed a lucky shot.”

Rynwon watched the tendrils of bright plasma, once a ship and its crew, arc outward from the center of the explosion. “Lucky, Mister Bariel. For us.”

She stepped backwards toward the command chair. After a moment of reverent silence, inwardly honoring the dead on both sides, she sat slowly, letting the weight of command drop, and breathing deeply. Then she said, “Damage report, if you please,” and listened to a litany of the poor Sahale’s many ills.