Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Part 1
The Year 2270

A pale immensity travelling purposefully through space, the U.S.S Burgandy completed her 3rd orbit of a vast gas giant in an obscure star system on the fringes of Federation space, the emerald cloud of a far-off nebula glowing prettily against the inky blackness of space. The ship's sensors conducted continual scans of the gaseous surface, a noxious cocktail of gases utterly unsuited for life. The gravity, 5,000 times more powerful than that of Earth, was the true danger however.

"Lt. Paxton, report," ordered Captain Theodore McCabe from the bridge command chair. Nearing middle-age, his once dark hair was now heavily shot with grey, his narrowed blue eyes studying the gas giant on the viewscreen.

Lieutenant Myra Paxton peered into the science scanner for a moment, it's blue light echoing that of her science-blue uniform. "Sensors are recording the gas giant, sir. I'm compiling a report on it's composition and density."

McCabe nodded. "Helm, what's our status?" His right hand idly smoothed his gold-coloured left sleeve, brushing against the three embroidered stripes marking his rank. He was all too aware that one misstep would send the Burgandy hurtling down towards that gas giant. Her destruction would be assured.

The young helmsman, Ensign Thren, hesitantly tapped in some controls on his station, also well aware of the stakes. "Ship maintaining steady orbit, Captain. The gravity is creating a strain on the ship, however." The Andorian's right antenna twitched as he spoke.

The captain swivelled his chair to the left, facing the bridge engineering console where his chief engineer kept an experienced eye on the ship's power levels.

Tall and grave-looking, his features furrowed in concentration as he anticipated that he would be the captain's next target, Lt. Commander Adisa Mbewe's rich Kenyan voice spoke first. "Captain, impulse engines are at full power just maintaining our orbit. When the time comes to leave orbit I anticipate the engines will require auxiliary power. I've set aside some power for the structural integrity systems and inertial dampeners." He flashed a quick grin over his shoulder, white teeth in stark contrast to his ebony skin. "We can expect a bumpy ride, sir."

McCabe nodded, satisfied, facing the front once more. "Noted, Adisa. I won't keep us here a minute more than necessary." He scowled slightly, gazing once more at the unimaginable power represented by the gas giant, knowing it could crush his ship in seconds.

The years between 2265 and 2270 had taken their toll on Starfleet's prized fleet of Constitution-class cruisers. A period of a few years saw several of the fleet of twelve fall in the line of duty. The Constellation had been sacrificed into the maw of a planet destroyer. A titanic space-faring amoeba had destroyed the Intrepid, and the Defiant had been lost to a spatial anomaly. The Excalibur had been critically damaged during the M5 crisis and the Exeter had lost all hands to an ancient bioweapon. Despite an uneasy peace with the Klingons, enforced by the Organians, Starfleet nevertheless ordered the construction of additional Constitution-class vessels to replace those lost. The Burgandy was one such vessel, commissioned shortly after the successful return of the Enterprise. Several months into her five-year mission of discovery and exploration, the Burgandy's crew were eager to ensure that their ship returned home with as lasting a legacy as the ships that had come before her. For his own part, McCabe felt a small pang of envy. He had seen the specs of the refit planned for Enterprise. A new ship, essentially, was to be fitted into the old one's bones. When Burgandy returned home, she would be overdue for a refit herself, despite her young age.

Myra Paxton frowned, still studying the sensor readings. She sucked in a shocked breath. "Captain... vessel decloaking ahead!"

McCabe's head snapped up, eyes widening. "Red alert! Thren, raise shields and power up weapons-" He glared at the viewscreen, watching the spatial disturbance coalesce into a Klingon battlecruiser beginning it's attack run. "Shields!" He snapped again as three crimson torpedoes streaked towards the Burgandy's unprotected hull.

Thren's blue fingers danced frantically across his console. He activated the shield control, the command racing from his console down into the bowels of the ship, to engineering where power surged into the deflectors -

- a second after the the first torpedo slammed into the ship's hull.

Lieutenant Garius Stark found himself unpleasantly awoken, hurled out of bed by a ferocious force that reverbrated throughout the ship's primary hull. As he struggled to his feet a second shattering blow rocked him. Even as he decided the second force had struck the engineering hull, the Burgandy rocked once more, though much gentler. The shields had been raised in time to catch the third strike, he guessed, as he tugged on his gold uniform tunic, shoving his feet into the black leather boots. Torpedo impacts, he decided. He raced out of his quarters and down the hall as the red alert klaxons wailed, scarlet lights flashing throughout the ship. A Joined Trill, he had carried the Stark symbiont since his twentieth year. A year of aimless travel had followed before he joined Starfleet. Now 28 years old, he served as the Burgandy's navigator, a trained tactical officer.

He entered the turbolift. He was about to head to the bridge when he noticed a red warning light showing on the display panel. Deck 1 had been sealed off. The bridge. The Bridge is... gone. Damnit!

He engaged the turbolift, travelling to the auxiliary control room that served as a back-up bridge. Crew members ran in all directions, frantically trying to reach their duty stations. The ship rocked about as the unknown enemy pumelled at their shields. Grimly, Stark knew that with the bridge gone, the Burgandy would be an easy target. Finally, he reached the deserted auxiliary control, manning the station and quickly determining the ship's status. The small viewscreen flickered on, revealing a Klingon battlecruiser wheeling about, the green flash of it's disrupters raking across the forward section once more. Stark's eyes flickered down at the read-out; Forward shields had collapsed. The first torpedo had destroyed the bridge, the second had smashed into the upper-aft section of the engineering hull. The third had struck after the shields came online, doing little damage. The Klingons weren't the only problem. Without constant corrections, the battle had knocked the ship out of it's tenuous orbit. Slowly, the Burgandy drifted towards the gas giant. There wasn't much time to correct the orbit before the point of no return but Stark realised there was nothing he could do until the Klingons were dealt with. One problem at a time.

Stark checked the weapons systems. Dismayed, he realised that the phasers were offline. Torpedoes were armed and ready but of little use against the shielded might of a Klingon battlecruiser. Another volley of disrupter fire flickered lazily, rocking the Burgandy. Stark transfered priority to the shields, knowing that even with full phasers, the Klingons had the upper hand. Absently he wondered why they weren't firing torpedoes into the Burgandy's bow; the disrupter fire kept the forward shields down, after all.

He soon found out. "Intruder alert. Intruder alert. Security teams to all key stations. I say again, security teams to all key stations." The steady voice of the First Officer, Commander Maria Vasquez, echoed out of every intercom system throughout the ship. So, the swine are keeping our shields down to beam over an assault team. They want the ship intact. Abruptly, he realised that Engineering and the armoury would be priority targets for a Klingon boarding party. And with the Bridge gone, Auxiliary control. Wonderful.

He pulled out a communicator. "Lt. Stark to Commander Vasquez." He waited.

"Go ahead, Stark," came Vasquez's comforting voice.

"I'm in Auxiliary Control. I've got the phaser banks charging, torpedo launchers ready. 'Fore shields down. If you can send some security to keep the Klingons off my back, I can return fire."

There was a pause. "Stand by, Lieutenant." Shouts could be heard in the background. Her voice then crackled out from the communicator again. "Negative, Stark. Do not return fire yet. Prepare to transfer power from phasers to shields, lock torpedoes on the battlecruiser."

Stark frowned. Was she insane? He needed the phasers to wear down the Klingon's shields.

She must have read his mind. "The Klingons are still beaming over boarding parties," she pointed out.

Ahh! Comprehension dawned. To use the transporter, the battlecruiser not only had to keep the Burgandy's fore shields down, it had to keep it's own shields down. "Understood, Commander. I'll-" Muffled disrupter fire could be heard close by. "Commander, the fighting is getting closer!" He tried - almost successfully - to keep the note of panic out of his voice. He looked around the room, seeing no phasers.

"Security are barely holding Engineering. There's no way any of them can get to you. Sit tight, I'll lead what crew I can. You know your orders, Lieutenant."

"Aye, sir," Stark muttered, already scanning the Klingon ship, noting the frequency of it's transporters.

The ship-wide intercom crackled into life. "Attention, crew, this is Vasquez. The Klingons are attempting to seize Auxiliary Control. Defend Auxiliary Control by any and all means. To the last man."

To be continued...
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
03-28-2010, 06:54 AM
Stark went cold. The Klingons had been rampaging around the ship, slaughtering whatever crew they had run across, many of whom would have been unarmed. Now the commander was encouraging those who had gotten to safety to stand against the Klingons, unarmed if need be. He shook his head and put it out of his mind. He had a job to do. He had to make their sacrifice count.

Sensors told him what he needed to know; the Klingon transporters were operating every 20 seconds, sending yet more warriors on board the Burgandy. He held his finger over the control, silently counting. 8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1... He pushed the button, transferring power from the phasers to the shields. The forward shields. He smiled grimly. That was one Klingon would-be boarding party gone. The Klingon ship, still unshielded swept across the bow of the Burgandy. Stark fired a volley of torpedoes.

He watched as several explosions tore at the hull of the suddenly stricken battlecruiser. The ship drifted down, now caught in the gas giant's gravity, slowly drifting to it's doom. Stark evened out the shield power, transfering all available power to the engines. Time to get the hell out of here!

The ship lurched, impulse engines struggling to break free from the implacable gravity well below. Slowly, the ship seemed to be crawling out.

Then the Burgandy lurched again, and resumed her downwards spiral. Stark checked the power levels, noting that engine power was constant. He checked the sensor board. And muttered a word rarely heard from a Starfleet Officer. The Klingon ship had locked it's tractor beam onto the Burgandy and was trying to drag her down with them. Stark charged up the phaser banks, the Federation ship being dragged ever further down.

Twin beams of bright blue phaser fire lanced down from the Burgandy, smashing into the unshielded battlecruiser. A second volley, then a third but still the Klingons held tenaciously on. Their ship sustained brutal damage as the phaser-fire cut into their unshielded hull, but all power seemed to be going to the wounded battlecruiser's engines, intent on taking their prize with them. Sweating, Stark continued firing.

The tractor beam finally ceased, releasing the Burgandy. As the battlecruiser entered it's last moments, Stark frantically transfered all power to the impulse engines, trying to gain altitude on the gas giant, and escape it's gravity well. But he didn't need to check the computer to know the battered ship was well-past the point of no return.

As the crew struggled with the last of the Klingons still fighting in the corridors across the decks, the ship's impulse engines began to fail under the strain, and the Burgandy began to fall once more. Stark stared at the console, numb. He had one last desperate gamble.

To hell with it.

He engaged the warp drive. Rocking, shuddering, threatening to tear apart, the Burgandy tore against the immense gravity well. The Burgandy warped round the gas giant, again, then again. For a third time. Ignoring the reverbrations as the ship's hull protested against the extreme forces bearing on her, Stark attempted to break out of the orbit. As the ship snapped free, Stark's head struck off a bulkplate, stunning him.

His head aching, eyes burning from the light, Stark struggled to his feet. The intercom buzzed. His hand shakily reached out and pressed the button. "Aye, what is it?" he asked muzzily.

"This is Lieutenant Soval. The last of the Klingons have been subdued, the ship is now secure, Lieutenant Stark."

"That's good news, Soval. How bad are our casualties?"

There was a miniscule pause. "Exact numbers unknown, however estimates at this time suggest we sustained approximately one hundred fatalities and a further hundred serious injuries." There was a further pause. "Commander Vasquez is among the fallen. She engaged the Klingons attempting to reach Auxiliary Control, delaying them sufficiently for security to regroup."

Stark shut his eyes. So many. "Thank you, Soval. When will Commander Mbewe be relieving me and assuming command of the ship?"

The cool, Vulcan voice hesitated again. "I must inform you that Lieutenant-Commander Mbewe was on the Bridge. He is dead. Lieutenant Sova is coordinating the damage control effort as acting Chief Engineer. You are in command for the time being, Lieutenant."

Stark just shook his head. The command hierarchy of the ship had been annhilated. Many of the junior officers were no doubt amongst the dead littering the hallways. What a bloody waste.

The console flickered. Stark frowned, wondering who the hell else was in the system that could be hailing them. Warping out of a gravity well had fried many of the systems, including sensors. The viewscreen was still flickering to life. He answered the incoming hail. "This is Lieutenant Garius Stark of the U.S.S Burgandy, of the United Federation of Planets. Identify yourselves."

After a moment, a surprised voice spoke smoothly over the comm. "Lt. Stark, this is Captain Taif Jonar of the U.S.S Stornoway. Can you activate your viewscreen, Lieutenant?"

Stornoway? What's a frigate doing this far from Federation space? I've never heard of this 'Taif Jonar'.

"A moment... Captain Jonar." He adjusted the sensor resolution, clearing the viewscreen. Stark blinked. In front of him waited a ship so vast it... dwarfed the Burgandy. He had never seen a ship so big, or one like it but it's design was unmistakably Starfleet. In the background lay a starbase, again clearly Federation technology. Several other ships could be seen in orbiting it. The gas giant lay half a light-year in the distance. Several other starships could be seen in the distance, lazily orbiting the starbase.

Stark adjusted the viewscreen control, gaining visual communications with the Stornoway. The bridge dwarfed his own, spaced out and brightly lit. Three chairs sat in the middle. A middle-aged woman sat in the central chair, a species alien to Stark. Her nose was oddly wrinkled, an odd earing dangling from one ear. He'd never seen the uniform before, but it was vaguely similar to the ancient jumpsuits worn by the crews of the old NX-class. The seat to her left was vacant, the one to her right was filled by a... Klingon? In a Starfleet uniform? Two consoles sat to the front, similar to the arrangement on the Burgandy's bridge. One was occupied by a Saurian, the other by a Trill.

Taif Jonar studied Stark in return. "It's Captain Taif, not Jonar. My people reverse their names. Your ship is showing signs of... recent damage. Starbase 531 can repair the most serious damage. I-" She paused as the Klingon leant across and spoke to her. She looked back at Stark. "Apologies, my First Officer has checked Starfleet records. According to our files, your ship was reported missing in this system some 139 years ago." She studied the stunned look on Stark's face. "Welcome to 2409, Lieutenant."

To be continued in part 2...

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