Karlek and sh’Aqba continued to try to force the cargo bay’s entry door open to no avail.
Sh’Aqba then tried to increase power to the emergency hand actuator that was attached to the door. The combined strength of a Klingon and an Andorian still could not slide the double door open even one millimeter. Once neither of them could muster any more strength, Karlek and Shinar stepped back and took slow and deep breaths. “With main power down in this section,” Karlek grumbled, “manually opening a door should not be this hard.”
“Ordinarily… I’d agree with you,” sh’Aqba said between coughs. She then removed a magnetic decoupler from an already open toolkit and ran it across the crevice in the door. After consulting her tricorder, Shinar shook her head in frustration. “As expected,” she huffed, “all the magnetic seals are down. But all the other locking mechanisms are in place. This door was programmed to lock after it closed to keep the cargo bay off limits to all but assigned personnel. We’d need a team of ten to manually release every one of those interlocks.”
“Can we use something salvaged from the wreckage to feed power to this door?” Karlek asked.
“I don’t see how,” Shinar said with a shake of her head. She walked over to cargo bay’s main console and took a glance at a padd containing the salvage inventory. “We took a fairly thorough inventory before the last attack.” A power consumption readout on the console had also caught her attention while she was scrolling down the list on the padd. “But a locked door is the least of our problems,” she added while momentarily shivering. “Life support just failed. We’ll run out oxygen in an hour, but we’ll freeze to death before that happens.”
Sh’Aqba’s antennae quivered as Karlek sauntered towards her. She quickly sensed a brief increase in the Klingon’s skin temperature. That said to her that he was considering the two of them huddling together for warmth, even to the point of stripping naked to share their body heat. “Don’t even think about it, Karlek,” she insisted sternly. “That would only work if the air temperature remained roughly constant.”
Karlek just let out a soft snort. He silently cursed how Andorian quadroscopic vision gave Shinar perceptive abilities most other humanoids did not possess. Sh’Aqba, meanwhile, was considering possible solutions to their current predicament while browsing the inventory list on the padd. “But maybe,” she said, pacing over to a cargo container. She opened the container and scanned the component with her tricorder to confirm that it was still in working order. “Yes, we can attach a phase modulator to a micro-optic drill.” She then pointed in the direction of a set of containers where spare tools were stored. “You mind finding a micro-optic drill?” she asked of Karlek. “One should be in a container marked laser tools.”
“No problem,” Karlek cheerfully answered. He quickly sauntered over to the set of containers on the other side of the bay and immediately found the container to which Shinar was referring. He effortlessly removed the lid and threw it aside, showing off his super strength.
Shinar rolled her eyes and shook her head, thinking he was hoping to court her. If that was the case, she was not so certain about rejecting his courtship and refusing to pursue him. In the days since she had received a message from Andor to return home to perform the sheltreth
with her bondmates, she had been able to avoid acting on certain sexual urges, even if that meant she was more short-tempered towards her non-Andorian and non-Klingon colleagues.
Karlek found the drill he was seeking and handed it to Shinar while she was carrying the phase modulator to the door. “I will start working on integrating the phase modulator into the drill to widen the field,” she explained as she removed a circuit casing from the drill and set it aside on the main console. She then handed the inventory list to Karlek. “I need you to gather together all spare components we can siphon energy off of—phaser emitters, photon torpedo launch initiators, antimatter regulators. Once that’s done, I’ll try to link those into an energy converter.”
“Very good,” Karlek said with a quick browse of the padd. “We work well together. Perhaps you should mentor the engineers on the Tigoth
, assuming it survived the engagement.”
“I appreciate the offer,” Shinar retorted with a smile as she kept her focus mainly on her immediate task. “But I have plenty of people to mentor on this
After nearly an hour of modifying various pieces of equipment, both sh’Aqba and Karlek were shivering. Not even the thermal blankets both of them had donned were enough to keep warm. Both struggled to keep their hands steady enough while having to align very small components. They still kept at it, knowing what needed to be done in order to escape the cargo bay alive.
Once sh’Aqba was finished reassembling the laser drill, she aimed it at the door crevice. Breaking through all the interlocks took about five minutes. During that time, she checked Karlek’s progress. He was still in the process of wiring various energy sources into an energy converter. “Winters on Andor aren’t even this cold,” Shinar remarked. “All things considered, I’d rather be on Andor than in here even if that means I would be asked to conceive a child with my bondmates.”
“You have a mate,” Karlek said, somewhat dejectedly. His teeth were chattering and his concentration barely on his work.
“Sorry to let you down,” Shinar retorted taking the cord from the energy converter and plugging it into a socket to the right of the entry door. ”Three mates. Andorians marry in groups of four. Our bondmates are chosen for us during childhood ever since our scientists learned we are in danger of extinction. I understand my responsibilities to propagating my species. We all understand the importance of our union. But I don’t love them the way two spouses of many other sentient species love each other.”
“It seems so unfair. How much must one give up for the greater good of a whole race, even if it is in danger of extinction.” She shook her head, fighting back tears. She felt a measure of relief pouring her heart out to Karlek, even if she had no intention of pursuing a romantic affiliation with him. She then turned her attention to the energy converter and keyed the activation sequence. “But I guess there is no honor in being someone’s lover on the side.”
Karlek was about to respond when the doors parted just enough for one person to squeeze through. Sh’Aqba sprinted over to the door with her Klingon colleague right behind her. Shinar pressed a button on the hand actuator and both used all their strength to slide the doors further open. She then trudged over to the computer interface panel across the hallway, hoping to reroute any emergency life support to that section of the deck. “The place should warm up very quickly,” she said with slow and deep breaths, savoring in the fresh oxygen.
Karlek fell to the deck and rolled over on his back. Shinar leaned on the wall and slid into a sitting position. They were both relieved to be out of the cargo bay and to be in an area with some breathable air. After a few efforts to hold in chuckles, they soon erupted in laughter.
“Starfleet engineers, the miracle workers of the quadrant,” Karlek proclaimed.
!” sh’Aqba replied, still short of breath. After she caught her breath, the laughter had resumed, enjoying every moment of victory in a battle far from over.
Sara Carson felt another slight pain in her forehead while awaiting a cup of tea at the replicator tray. A cloth bandage was adhered to her right temple over the scar where she hit her head during the last confrontation with the Dominion. She took a brief sip and felt a tingling in her tongue felt worse than the throbbing pains all over her head. Her quarters were a mess with bits of debris and shrapnel scattered all over the floor. The articles of clothing that normally littered the floor, the tables and chairs, and the sofa gave off smells of burnt ash. Another sharp pain seared through her head that made her almost drop her tea cup when she heard a knock at the door. She took slow and deep breaths while setting the cup down on the desk to the left of the door. Slipping her fingers in the crevice, she was able to effortlessly slide the double-doors open.
Rebecca Sullivan was on the other side, carrying a pile of extra clothes and a tool kit in her arms. Rebecca then walked into the cabin without even being invited inside, and threw the garments onto the floor. “Life support in my quarters is down,” she matter-of-factly stated. “Mind if I crash here a while?”
Rebecca had already made herself at home, so Sara was not in much a position to refuse even though this cabin was her assigned quarters. “Not at all,” she said half-sarcastically. “As an ancestor of mine once would say, mi casa es su casa
“You don’t look so good yourself,” Rebecca commented of Sara’s injury.
“Sickbay is pretty booked up, so they sent me home for the day.”
“Would a kiss make it better?”
Sara rolled her eyes. Not since she was a little girl had someone made such an offer and that someone was her mother. As she got older, she knew that was not an effective means of anesthetizing her pain. “Oh, come on, Rebecca,” she snorted.
Rebecca then planted a quick kiss on the wound on Sara’s forehead.
Sara gave a light grin. “That does feel a bit better,” she said half-heartedly.
“Glad to be of help,” Rebecca retorted.
-class ships Vigilant
flanked a pair of Galaxy
-class ships, one above the other, as they moved closer to the Dominion heavy cruiser. Bringing up the rear were several dozen Akira
, and Miranda
-class ships. The two larger Galaxy
-class ships moved in on the heavy cruiser firing primary phasers and torpedoes. The shields of the two ships absorbed enemy torpedo impacts while continuing to fire with ventral phasers from the secondary hull. The two Defiants’
fired multi-targeting phasers at the warp nacelles and quantum torpedoes at the secondary impulse engines. The rest of the squadron swooped in firing all weapons before moving out of the enemy weapons range.
Benjamin Maxwell sat rigidly in the command chair of the USS Vigilant
, keeping quick glances at the tactical stations to starboard, the engineering and communications stations to port, and the conn ahead. All officers on the bridge firmly gripped their stations as the ship absorbed another hit while making a hard turn to port to move out of the line of fire.
move in for another pass,” called the captain of one of the Galaxy-class ships. “We have to try to slow it any way we can.”
“You heard him,” Maxwell ordered Tor Makassa, the Kobliad ensign at conn. “Come to course two-three-one mark three-six.” Turning his attention to Jovis Ren, a Bolian lieutenant at the primary tactical station, Maxwell added, “All weapons on full.”
The two Defiant
-class warships on opposite sides of the heavy cruiser swung back around and continued firing all weapons with a dozen Mirandas
following suit. Swarms of torpedoes tore through the hulls of three of those ships while rest of the ships continued a relentless attack on a ship twice the size and with five times the arsenal of a Galaxy
-class starship while continuing to dodge and absorb endless torpedo hits.