*A Republic Raptor-Class Fighter flies past, venting plasma, being chased by an Orion Mk X Interceptor. A flurry of Zero-Point Cannon blasts tears the Interceptor apart as another Raptor flies past and joins the first. The two Raptors then rejoin their squadron and dive into a battle between 2 Republic Titan-Class Cruisers plus the R.S.S. Republic and 5 Orion Marauders.*
Alpha 3: You okay, lead?
Alpha 1: I'll be fine.
*Alpha 1 seals his leaking nacelle.*
I can't go to warp, but I can still kick some butt. I'm not that easy to get rid of.
Alright, tighten it up!
Captain Delko *Over Comm*: Avalon to Alpha Squadron, change course +10 Starboard. We're about to open fire.
Alpha 1: Copy!
*Alpha Squadron banks hard to starboard as several Zero Point beams slam into a Marauder, burning into its hull. The Titan-Class Battlecruiser R.S.S. Avalon comes into view, firing Quantum-phased torpedoes into the Marauder while firing at 2 other Marauders which are broadsiding it from both sides.
*R.S.S. Avalon begins to lose power to its engines as the Republic strafes the Command Marauder, knocking out her Warp Engines. The Republic then turns around to assist the Avalon, before the remaining 4 Marauders cut and run. The 3 Republic ships regroup and board the disabled Marauder.*
*Delta Draconis System, Republic Space. The Republic and her Battle Group are in orbit of the Prison World after dropping off the Orions captured from the Marauder. The R.S.S. Lincoln (a Mayne-Class Police Cruiser), carrying Admiral Ramez, is also in orbit.
R.S.S. Republic, Situation Room. Sam is speaking with Admiral Ramez, Commander Prescott, and Doctor Caliper.*
Ramez: We'll take the survivors back to Deep Space 61 for medical attention. As for the Republic, we have new orders for you, Captain.
*Will and Michelle nod before walking out.*
Ramez: I've rerouted the R.S.S. Seacat and the R.S.S. Hood to this position.
Sam: May I ask why?
Ramez: Because you are going to need them.
We're going into a joint operation with the Federation against the Orion Syndicate. All but the 3rd and 5th Fleets are being split into Battle Groups of 5 ships for Operation: Firefly.
The 3rd Fleet is being merged with the 6th in order to bring them up to the task of Inter-planetary Defence, while the 5th Fleet is prepared for rapid mobilisation in case another conflict arises.
Operation: Firefly is going to be separated into 2 Task Forces; Task Force Alpha and Task Force Bravo. Alpha will go into the Shoal Zone to put a stop to the Orion-Kar'moon Conflict once and for all, before any more civilians get hurt. Bravo will be our fast response against any further Syndicate attacks in the Cardassian Sectors. The Federation are donating the 3rd and 4th Fleets to help.
The Republic's Battle Group has a different objective.
Sam: And that is?
Ramez: We've received a subspace message from Deltos IX. They're putting 2 Syndicate members back on the Republic List.
Sam: I thought Deltos was fully independent now.
Ramez: They petitioned to break away from their Protectorate status a month ago, and we agreed without hesitation, but they're still cooperating with O.S.S. against criminal activity.
Sam: So why did they take these people off the list in the first place?
Ramez: Politics. They don't want to rub the Syndicate off the wrong way.
Sam: So why are they back on the list?
Ramez: Again, politics. The Director of Deltos is suspected of being involved with the Orion Dakarr Cartel - part of the Kar'moon Alliance.
Sam: Which explains why they're turning over 2 Syndicate criminals.
Ramez: 2 very High Priority Criminals.
2 Criminals that only returned home a day ago.
*Sam's face gets more serious and agitated as she realises who he's talking about.*
Ramez: I thought you'd find that interesting.
Sam: She killed my father.
Ramez: I know, and she'll pay for that crime, and every other crime she's committed.
Command wants you to bring her and her sister, Sara, in... alive.
Sam: I know.
How much leverage do I have?
Ramez: Bring them in alive by any means. We need what they know.
Sam, if this is too compromising for you, I can have Captain Delko make the arrest.
Sam: No, I can do it.
It has to be me, sir. This is all partly my fault, after all. I'm the one who cleared her, gave her a Provisional Field Commission and access to our computers--
Ramez: We were all fooled, Captain. You can't be held responsible.
Sam: The hell I can't! I screwed up!
Ramez: Command doesn't see it that way.
Sam: Command's ruled in my favour for a change?
Ramez: There have been changes in the Naval Board, mostly for the better.
I'll be coming along, and the Office of State Security is sending someone along to interrogate the Tr'ians when we bring them in.
*Shuttlebay, 5 minutes later. Hawk's walking off a shuttle toward Sam and Ramez. He salutes the Admiral and nods to Sam.*
Sam: Agent Hawk.
Hawk: Shall we get started?
Ramez: I'll catch up. I have to pay Captain Forrester a visit.
Sam: Matt's still in critical.
Ramez: Not from what Doctor Andrews tells me. According to him, the Captain's been awake for the past hour.
Hawk: Err... Admiral, perhaps we should discuss the seniority in this mission? *He cocks his head to a loading bay where the two can talk without Sam overhearing. Understanding dawns on Ramez's face and he nods.*
Ramez: Of course. Captain.
*Ramez and Hawk walk to the Loading Bay and Sam walks out of the Shuttlebay and heads for Sickbay.
Upon entering Sickbay, she nods to Doctor Andrews and nods towards his Office. Andrews follows her inside and closes the door.*
Sam: Admiral Ramez says that Matt's out of critical?
Andrews: He did?
Sam: He said that you said he'd been awake for the past hour.
Andrews: If I gave him that impression, then I apologise.
Sam: So it's not true?
Andrews: He must have misunderstood, Captain. Captain Forrester was semi-conscious for an hour, but I sedated him.
Andrews: He needs to focus on healing the damage caused by the attack on the Neilson.
However, I was about to call you.
Andrews: He's stable, and out of critical now. He is awake, if you want to see him.
*Andrews leads Sam into the Critical Care Wing of Sickbay and to Matt's Bio-Bed. Andrews motions the Nurse away, taking Matt's chart and checking it. Sam sits next to him.*
Sam: Hey yourself. How you feeling?
Matt: Like a metal support's crushed half my ribs and I've spent the last week recovering. Why, how the hell else should I feel?
Andrews: Well, I'm glad to see your sense of humour's back, Captain.
Matt: Thanks, doc. Now, if I could just get back to my ship--
*Matt starts to get out of bed, before Andrews stops him and sets him back down.*
Andrews: I'm afraid... that won't be possible.
Sam: The Matthew Neilson wasn't salvageable, Matt.
*Horror starts to creep onto Matt's face.*
Matt: The crew?
Andrews: The fleet recovered 184 survivors. We've lost 53 of them.