For the record, I have no intention of recreating Voyager. And now, Act I:
Leone raised her hand toward Nieves, as he had a phaser in his hand. "Hold your fire, Wilson." She stepped forward to address the pair. "Who are you?"
The lanky man smiled. "My name is Saleb, and this is my... companion, Belkis."
Belkis inclined his head toward Leone, but said nothing.
"Charmed," said Leone sarcastically. "Now, what the hell is the Tristnor Hegemony and what war are you talking about?"
Saleb leaned down to reach into his carry-all, which alarmed Nieves enough for him to raise his aim toward them once more. But all Saleb did was pull out a small device with a display on it. "Uh, first things first. Lieutenant Bartlet will need to remodulate the shields to this range of harmonics in order to counteract their primary weapon." He gestured with the device. "May I?"
"Petra, look it over, and make sure it's on the level, before you make any implementations."
"Aye, sir." Petra looked at the device and then back at Leone. "Sir, it seems pretty clear to me. We'd just be shifting the shield harmonics."
"Reinitializing the harmonics, now."
"Captain, the target vessel is showing a power buildup in... I don't know. It could be a weapon."
"It is," assured Saleb. He turned to face Leone. "Hegemony ships are based on crystalline hull designs, which means their weapons are sonic in nature. Ultrasonic, in fact. If they had fired while you were unprotected..."
"Sonic weapons wouldn't do anything to this ship."
"It wasn't the ship I was worried about."
Leone opened her mouth and immediately understood. "They could've knocked us all out."
Nieves reported, "They're firing!"
Heads turned toward the viewscreen, where the weapon had no visual effect. Or any other kind of effect, for that matter.
Ariel shook her head. "Nothing detectable, sir. Shields are barely registering any impact, if they actually directed their weapon at us."
"Mister Saleb," said Leone said with a relieved sigh, "your stock just went up."
"I'm pleased to hear that, Captain."
"Now, since we've nullified their ability to attack us-"
"Uh, not so fast," said Saleb. "They have a secondary weapon that might be a little more effective."
Leone turned. "What secondary-"
"Sir, I hold a projectile contact dead ahead!"
Saleb frowned. "Evasive maneuvers are highly recommended, Captain."
"Mister Aspinall, evasive pattern alpha."
"Aye, sir." The helmsman's fingers danced across the flight controls. The viewscreen shifted as the ship's course moved as quickly as it could, but the torpedo continued on its course.
"Hang on," warned Leone, as she held onto the arms of her seat. The torpedo drew closer, and angled around to make contact with their ship.
The torpedo impacted against the shields, exploding into a million crystal shards. The energy from that explosion carried through to the ship itself, causing the hull to lurch under them.
"Shields holding. Total strength down to ninety-seven percent, Captain," said Nieves. "Shall I return fire?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "Mister Saleb? Are our weapons effective against them?"
Saleb looked up from the engineering station, where he had seemingly braced Petra during the explosion. "Your antimatter-based torpedoes will do damage, but I suspect your phased energy weapons may be useless."
"Let's find out. Wilson, target their weapons and propulsion systems only."
Nieves nodded. "Target locked."
The red-orange beam of energy shot out from the top of the saucer section, as Farragut continued to run through its evasive maneuvers. The beam struck its target, but instead of causing damage as it was designed to do, the beam angled away from the ship as it reflected off of the crystal. And back at them.
"Cease fire!" Leone ordered quickly. They damaged their own shields! "Damn."
"Another torpedo inbound," warned Nieves. "Make that two."
"Can we target their torpedoes?"
Saleb called, "I wouldn't recommend that, Captain. They are made of the same material as the ship."
"Ariel, start working on a solution to the problem." Leone weathered the impact of the two torpedoes as they proved too fast for the heavy cruiser to maneuver around. "Wilson, load forward torpedo tubes." Both officers replied and carried out their orders. As soon as Nieves reported that the torpedoes were ready, she hesitated briefly before giving the order to fire.
Did she really want to drag the Federation into a war?
Leone muttered to herself, "No choice." To Nieves, "Dispersal pattern: Sierra. Fire forward tubes."
Twin red dots flittered across the top of the viewscreen and toward the multi-angled Hegemony ship. The first torpedo impacted against the forward section and shattered the outer hull, exposing the inner hull to space. The second one followed close behind and penetrated beyond the inner hull, for the entire front half of the ship crushed inward before exploding outward as the antimatter warhead detonated inside the ship.
Nieves slammed his hand down on the rail in triumph. "Target severely damaged, sir. Reading secondary explosions inside the ship."
"Hail them, quickly. Let's see if we can render assistance."
Saleb talked over her. "No, sir. They'll self-destruct with that much damage. Get us out of here."
Leone barked, "Helm!"
Aspinall did not wait for the order, "Getting us out of here, aye, sir. Engaging impulse engines to full on relative bearing two-seven-zero mark zero."
"Reading massive power buildup, Captain," said Ariel. "Estimate twenty-three seconds to critical mass."
"Petra, reinforce the aft shields."
"I'm lowering the forward shield and redirecting power to the aft emitters," said Petra quickly. "Structural integrity field to full."
"Fifteen seconds to critical mass," said Ariel.
"Are we clear of the blast radius, Mister Saleb?"
"Since they took massive damage, I cannot say for certain. Were we dealing with a fully powered ship, the answer would be no," replied Saleb. He remained at the engineering console as Nieves shot him a menacing look to prevent him from leaving Petra's side.
"I guess we're about to see," muttered Leone. "All hands, brace for impact!"
The crystalline ship appeared to vibrate heavily and then shattered, sending small shards in every direction. The magnitude of the shockwave appeared to be high as some of the shards shattered as they flew away from the ship they previously held together. A distortion ring formed as the energy from the ship passed into vacuum, heading for Farragut quickly.
The ring reached Farragut and the aft shields took the punishment from it. Some shards of crystal broke up against the barrier protecting the outer hull, while others were deflected away from it. However, some of them seemed to penetrate the shields.
"The aft shields are destabilizing. The shockwave is acting like a giant isolytic burst; we have to reinitialize the shield harmonics," said Petra. "Some of the debris is getting through!"
"The starboard nacelle is taking damage," reported Ariel as an alarm went off on her console. "The plasma vents are hit! We have coil damage!"
"We can't reinitialize the shield emitters or else the shockwave will crush the ship like an empty shell," warned Saleb. "Better we take damage to a section than risk the destruction of the whole."
Leone grimaced through the ship being overtaken by the shockwave, threatening to rattle the teeth out of her skull as it passed by. Everyone gripped their stations tightly, but Ariel fell to the deck as the shaking grew more violent. Nieves fell against the rail above her; his arms flailed out and nearly slapped her in the face as he did so. Then, it passed and the ship was calm.
"Full damage assessment, all decks, all sections," ordered Leone as she got to her feet. "Wilson, any other contacts?"
Nieves returned to his standing position and entered in a few commands. "Negative, sir. But I don't know for how long that'll be."
"Mister Saleb, any suggestions?"
"I recommend course one-one-three mark thirty-nine. That will take us to a Kasui-held base that the Hegemony doesn't know about," replied Saleb. "We'll be safe, there."
"Who are the Kasui?"
Belkis chose that moment to finally speak, and when he did, Leone thought her had a tuba lodged in his throat. "The Kasui are a race of people enslaved by the Tristnor Hegemony, Captain Leone. We have been fighting for our freedom for the last twenty-five years. They will provide us with supplies, protection, whatever we need."
Leone considered it, but the anger of having her ship thrown across the galaxy on a whim did not sit well with her. "Will our present course take us deeper into Hegemony space or out of it, Mister Saleb?"
"Well, we're running parallel to the theoretical boundary..."
"The Hegemony believes in manifest destiny, Captain. They believe that their gods have provided the entire galaxy for their benefit," explained Belkis. "They also believe that all other races were placed here to serve them without question."
"Sounds like a great group of people," snorted Ariel.
Belkis growled, "I assure you, they are not, Lieutenant Commander."
"That does not answer my question, Mister Saleb," barked Leone. Realizing that it was futile to even attempt to get a straight answer from either of them, she sighed. "Mister Aspinall."
"Set a course for Earth."
"Aye, sir. Altering course to three-zero-one mark twelve."
"That's in the opposite direction, Captain," said Saleb. "We can make repairs at the fortress."
"I'm sure we could. However, while I appreciate your self-preservation in helping to protect this ship, you still have to answer for stealing Federation property, and taking almost two hundred people away from their homes!" She turned to Nieves. "Wilson, I want a security team on the bridge, with their sidearms!"
Thanks for reading,