Logan futilely tapped the comm panel several times after losing contact. “Lambda Paz
, do you read?” he shouted.
“Some kind of communications dampening field,” Carson suggested from the starboard co-pilot seat. “We’d better get up to the ship before… “
A perimeter alert sounded from her station. “Two Jem’Hadar ships have entered the atmosphere,” Carson reported. “They’re closing fast.”
“Try to evade them,” Logan replied.
“Evasive pattern delta initiated.”
The nose of the shuttle pointed upward towards the sky. The two enemy fighters were immediately nose-to-nose with the shuttle. The Jem’Hadar ships fired phasers back-and-forth while moving in its single file attack formation.
Both Logan and Carson had to grasp their consoles to keep from falling out of their seats. “Inertial dampers failing,” Carson reported. “I can’t promise anything with these atmospheric thrusters.”
“Switch controls to manual,” said Logan, as the shuttle took two more hits. The ceiling nearly collapsed in on Carson. She covered her head shrapnel fell over her.
“Atmospheric thrusters have failed,” Carson said after another hit. “We won’t be able to escape the atmosphere.”
“Then find a place to set us down,” Logan suggested. “Transferring power to lateral thrusters.”
The Lambda Paz
moved into a low orbit. Huckaby kept a firm hand on the helm to maneuver a ship not normally designed for sub-orbital flight. “I have weapons lock,” Morrison reported.
“Fire quantum torpedoes,” Limis commanded.
Four quantum torpedoes erupted from the ship and struck both Jem’Hadar fighters. The two enemy ships then moved upwards and veered away from the planet.
“The Jem’Hadar are moving off,” Morrison reported. “They’re not even putting up a fight.”
“We’ll worry about this atypical maneuver later,” Limis replied. “Raise Commander Logan.”
“I can’t” sh’Aqba answered after entering commands into her console. “I’ve extrapolated the shuttle’s exhaust trail.”
“What about Kozar? Tell him to get up here.”
“No need to tell us, Captain,” Kozar shouted over the comm channel. “We’re on our way. We’ll be in the shuttlebay in five minutes.”
Limis then closed the channel. “Put us in a standard orbit, Mister Huckaby,” she said. “Sh’Aqba, have Doctor Markalis and a team of MACO’s report to Transporter Room One. You have the bridge until Kozar returns. Morrison, you’re with me.”
The captain made a beeline for the starboard turbolift when Morrison stepped in front of her. “Captain,” he said, “Starfleet Code, Section 12, Paragraph 4 states that the second most senior officer should lead this team.”
“I’m aware of the regulation,” the captain sternly answered. “Paragraph 5 then states the captain has discretion.”
Without another word, both Morrison and Limis headed for the turbolift. Morrison raised another concern after they left the weapons locker and headed for the transporter room. “Should we bring the doctor with us?” he asked.
“Our people may need immediate medical attention,” said Limis. “If I understand correctly, Starfleet officers are trained in basic combat. Are you suggesting she can’t handle herself?”
After a brief hesitation, Morrison answered. “Not at all.”
The other four members of their team had already arrived in the transporter room. Markalis was fidgeting with her phaser and tricorder holsters. Behind her were three Military Assault Command Officers conducting visual surveys of their phaser rifles. Their uniforms were quite different from standard Starfleet uniforms. They were black jumpsuits made of a heavier fabric with a red or gold stripe across the chest.
Major Jonathan Davis was the MACO leader and so had a red stripe on his uniform. Hew was a tall heavy-set human who dwarfed everyone else in the room. He was as tall as the Brikar
in the group, Mik Tannan, who came from a race much taller than the average humanoid. The third person in the group was Dinara Nowitzki, a tall tan-skinned human woman.
“Let’s go,” Limis declared.
The six-person team stepped onto the transporter platform. Markalis was now fidgeting with the strap on her medkit even as they dematerialized. The team materialized in a barren desert region of the planet.
Limis, Morrison, and Markalis pulled out their tricorders and began scanning for human life signs. The captain tapped her combadge with the side of her left hand already holding her tricorder. “Limis to Commander Logan or Lieutenant Carson,” she said, “if one of you can hear me… “
She was interrupted when alarms sounded on the tricorders. “Two life signs,” Markalis reported. “One of them faint.”
“Any idea which one?” Morrison asked even though his tricorder was telling him the same thing.
The away team moved single file towards a ravine to where the life sign readings originated. Upon reaching the ravine, they could see Logan limping and grasping the ravine walls. “Logan!” Morrison shouted. “Where’s Carson?”
“She’s in the shuttle,” Logan answered. “She’s stuck under some debris I can’t lift by myself.”
Markalis immediately stepped in front of Logan to scan him. She was feverishly pushing buttons to diagnose the engineer’s condition. “Third degree plasma burns, broken clavicle, punctured lung,” she said in her usual dispassionate voice.
Before she could signal the ship, a legion of three Jem’Hadar materialized near the edge of the ravine. The three closest armed with kartokins
impaled both Markalis and Major Davis in the shoulders. Morrison and Limis lunged towards those Jem’Hadar knocking two of them over. Tannin, who had the strength of five Jem’Hadar, grabbed the third soldier by the neck and threw him down. As that Jem’Hadar got himself back up, the Brikar poked him with a stick that delivered a small electric shock.
Logan and the MACO’s left standing helped up Davis and Markalis up of the ground and led them into the ravine.
Up in orbit, Kozar and Sullivan had just stepped off the starboard turbolift. Kozar was mystified to see a Bolian he recognized as Ensign Jovis Ren at tactical and Lieutenant sh’Aqba seated in the captain’s chair. “Where’s the captain?” he demanded.
“She’s on the planet’s surface looking for the other shuttle’s crew,” sh’Aqba answered, standing up to face Kozar.
“What?” Kozar snapped. “Is she out of her mind?!” For a minute, Ronnie considered that the captain might be killed. But wishing such a fate on a fellow officer for such petty reasons as being passed up for command was a notion no Starfleet officer should think of.
“Get her team back up here now,” he demanded.
Sh’Aqba took back the Ops consoled and attempted to comply. “Nothing doing,” she said. “Targeting scanners are too erratic to bring them all up at once.” She then bolted for the port turbolift to lend a hand in the transporter room.
Down on the surface, Tannin and Nowitzki scrambled to help get their wounded colleagues further out of harm’s way. Nowitzki reached into Markalis’s medkit to find some cloth to use as tourniquets. Markalis talked the MACO’s through the process of applying the tourniquets to sufficiently stop the bleeding in both her shoulder and the major’s wounded shoulder.
Limis and Morrison, meanwhile, were in fierce combat with the two Jem’Hadar using their rifles to deflect their opponents’ swords. With one strike from a kartokin
from the side, Limis’s rifle flew out of her hands, and she lost her footing. Just as her opponent was about to go for the kill, Limis pulled her Type-2 hand phaser out of her holster and fired. Without looking to see the life drain from her enemy, Limis turned and shot Morrison’s opponent.
As they retreated towards the ravine to join their colleagues, three more Jem’Hadar materialized. Limis and Morrison brought up the rear behind Tannin and Nowitzki. The Starfleet team quickly prevailed in the ensuing fire fight. Six more then materialized.
“Limis to Lambda Paz
!” the captain called. “Get us out of here!”
While awaiting transport, the Starfleet team pulled further back towards the shuttle. Nowitzki took a flurry of Jem’Hadar plasma rifle fire.
Aboard the ship, sh’Aqba worked the transporter controls. “I can get you up a few at a time if you stay in the same place,” she informed the away team. “I wouldn’t recommend taking refuge in the shuttle. I can’t even lock onto the life sign in there at this range.”
“Just get us out before we’re all dead!” Limis shouted over the barrage of phaser fire.
Morrison ran toward the shuttle hoping to get Carson out. “Get back here,” the captain called pointing her phaser at Morrison. “That’s an order!”
“Sorry,” Morrison answered. “I’m disobeying that order.”
Sh’Aqba energized the transporter beam and five figures fizzled in and out. She attempted a narrower confinement beam, and Logan and Markalis materialized. After energizing a second time, Davis and Tannin came aboard, then the charred body Nowitizki. Once they were safely aboard, sh’Aqba beamed them to sickbay.
Limis and Morrison were still under heavy fire while moving towards the shuttle. They slipped through a large crevice in the shuttle’s hull. Carson lay unconscious slumped over the co-pilot seat with a heavy girder over her. Limis felt her neck for a pulse. “She’s alive,” she said. She then looked over at Morrison. “Why were you so determined to save her?”
Morrison sighed. That was enough of an answer for his captain. He was too embarrassed to say it aloud, especially now that he was willing to disobey orders to save the woman’s life.
“I see,” Limis said with a nod.
“Would Arnit have abandoned you under similar circumstances?”
Limis was running on too much adrenaline to recall any such instance while in the Bajoran resistance or the Maquis. The brutal beating of her resistance colleague two decades earlier was one incident that always haunted her to this day. “My people have a saying,” Limis stated. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
“That’s not a Bajoran saying. Those were the words of Spock of Vulcan.”
“If it works, use it.”
Sh’Aqba had tried to bring Limis and Morrison aboard, but she quickly lost the lock altogether. “Bridge,” she said, tapping a comm panel, “recommend moving into a lower orbit f I have any chance regaining the lock.”
“That’ll be difficult with another squadron of Jem’Hadar on the way,” Kozar replied. He then looked at Ren. “How long before they’re in weapons range?”
“Thirty seconds,” Ren answered.
“We can use an old Maquis trick that almost always worked,” Sullivan offered. “Of course, I’ll have to take the helm.”
“Ensign,” Kozar said to Huckaby, “give her your seat.”
Huckaby reluctantly ascended from his chair. He held out his arm to offer the chair to Rebecca. Rebecca sat down shooting a devious grin at the skeptical young man. She tapped a comm panel to hail engineering.
“Sullivan to Tarlazzi,” she said. “Bring warp engines to full power and take us to Warp One.”
“Warp speed?” Kozar asked. “Inside a planetary atmosphere?”
“Think of it as flooring the gas when it’s still in park,” Sullivan replied. “Ops, route as much power as you can to lateral thrusters.”
“At least you know this ship very well already,” Huckaby offered, although he did not fully understand the reference to primitive ground vehicles. “I’ll do my best.”
The ship hurdled down towards the planetoid. The bridge rocked harder and harder as it got closer to the surface. Kozar’s eyes widened contemplating the imminent destruction of what had been his ship prior to its first, and hopefully not its last, voyage. “Watch the structural integrity, Huckaby!” the short-tempered first officer sang out.
Down in the transporter room, sh’Aqba kept the targeting scanners locked on the general vicinity of the crewmembers still on the surface. Almost without warning, a readout indicated she had regained the lock.
Effortlessly, sh’Aqba energized and brought Limis, Morrison, and the barely conscious Carson aboard. “Bridge,” she said triumphantly. “I’ve got them.”
Upon hearing this, Sullivan tapped a control on the helm sending the starship back upward. The backwash of the sudden change in direction forced up a large amount of desert sand creating a massive dust storm that could envelope an entire continent. Once the Lambda Paz
had cleared the atmosphere, it immediately streaked to warp before the Jem’Hadar battleship got off a single shot.