Chapter Nineteen (cont.)
“Miss Biddle, is our warp jump plotted?”
“Yes, sir,” the Operations officer replied as she made a final adjustment to her controls, a thin bead of sweat dripping down her nose. “Warp drive will be engaged at Warp Factor 2, for .9732 seconds on computer control.”
“Very well,” Matt answered calmly, as he secured the safety straps across his waist. “Mister Shrak, set General Quarters throughout the ship, and sound Red Alert in all compartments.”
The bridge lighting dimmed, replacing the normal bright illumination with a harsh red glow. “All stations report manned and secured for Battle Stations, Captain Dahlgren,” the Andorian answered.
“Initiate the warp jump, Miss Montoya.”
“Aye, sir,” she replied. “Warp speed in five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . ENGAGED!”
surged forward, crossing over the boundaries into warp, and then almost immediately dropped back into normal space. Matt could hear the thrum of the phasers firing even before Isabella could report. “We are at the designated coordinates, Sir; six meters, forty-two centimeters of separation between the keel and the Nephkyrie vessel!”
The ship rocked as a half-dozen Nephkyrie laser cannons struck her forward shields, but then the batteries on the alien vessel fell silent.
Pavel Roshenko looked up. “Weapons emplacements neutralized, Captain. No hull penetrations.”
“Forward shields holding at 98%, Captain Dahlgren,” the Andorian added, and then his antennae shivered. “We are being hailed.”
The main viewer blanked and for the first time, Matt and his crew could see the Nephkyrie with their own eyes. The man on the screen was humanoid, his smooth skin a darkened bronze, offset by the coal-black well groomed hair that covered his head. Except for the strange skin color and the eyes—eyes with a vertical cat’s slit and an iris of purple—he could easily have passed as a human.
“You will remove your vessel at once. You are not welcome here among the Solidarity,” he said.
Matt nodded. “We will be depart as soon as our people have been returned to their home; the Federation does not desire conflict with the Solidarity, and we are prepared to greet you in peace. If they are not returned, however, then we shall meet you with war.”
“War? You would go to war over such a small number of your people? For which my species has a need? You would condemn thirty-five million to death for twelve thousand of your own kind, and see an entire species destroyed?”
“If it proves necessary, then yes. I am Matthew Dahlgren, commanding officer of the Federation Starship Republic
. And we do not allow any race to steal away twelve thousand of our own people—not without paying the consequences of that action.”
The Nephkyrie on the screen met Matt’s stern gaze evenly, and then he nodded. “I am Typhias, and I am Speaker for the Solidarity. Your people were interlopers and intruders upon a planet which our race had claimed long ago as its own.”
“Your claim was one which the Federation was unaware of until just recently, Speaker Typhias. However, on behalf of the United Federation of Planets, I promise that we will evacuate our colonists and leave you the planet. That offer is contingent, of course, on the colonists being returned to us safe and sound.”
Chan cleared his throat and Matt swiveled his chair to face his executive officer.
“They are attempting to gain a transporter lock on the entire ship, Captain Dahlgren. The inhibitor is blocking their attempts—for now.”
Matt turned back to the main viewer. “I would advise you to cease those attempts, Speaker Typhias; they might easily be interpreted as hostile. You have seen the power of my weapons; I would hate to turn them onto your vessel in earnest.”
The Speaker turned to someone off-screen and spoke rapidly in a language that the universal translator did not recognize, making a slashing motion with one hand—a hand with four elongated fingers and two opposing thumbs.
“Transporter lock-on attempts have ceased, Captain Dahlgren,” Chan reported.
“Thank you, Speaker Typhias. I would like to begin discussing on when we can expect our people to be returned.”
Typhias’s mouth twisted and he leaned forward. “Your weapons are impressive. As is your ability to block our transport beams; but I have heard nothing that would compel me to relinquish the specimens we have retrieved. The survival of my race is at stake, human
, and I shall not let a mere twelve thousand lives of another species stand between our survival and extinction. You would do the same, would you not?”
“No. We would find another way. We will offer to your race our collected medical resources in an attempt to restore your DNA to it original configuration; my scientists and medical professionals have already determined that it might be possible to alleviate your own damage through means that do not require the death of thousands—millions—of my own people.”
“And your solution has been tested and proven?”
“No, but we can work . . .”
“Then it is useless. The Solidarity must be assured of survival, human
. And if survival requires that we harvest your species, than that is what we must do. I order you again to depart, and trouble us no further; failure to comply will result in your own deaths.”
Matt frowned. “We are too close to your own vessel for you to risk your transporter bombs, Speaker Typhias. Do not force me into the position where I have to board you and recover our people.”
“Board us?” the Nephkyrie began to laugh. “Ah, you are indeed amusing, human. You shall not step one foot upon the decks of this ancient vessel—but we will take yours.”
The screen blanked, and Matt swiveled his chair as he heard the hum of a transporter beam—several transporter beams.
Nephkyrie troops, wearing thick heavy cuirasses of armor plating and combat helmets appeared onboard the bridge of Republic
and those aliens drew weapon, but the Marine security guards and the bridge crew already had their own in hand. Phaser and beams of unknown energy began to criss-cross the bridge as Republic
’s crew fought the intruders.
Matt unclipped his safety belt and rolled out of his chair, just instants before a high-energy beam burnt a hole through the back, and he tapped his comm badge. “Intruder Alert!” he barked. “All hands repel boarders!” Wincing with the pain, Matt knelt on his injured leg and drew his own Type I phaser, firing a long burst into one of the intruders.
The Operations console exploded under the fire of another Nephkyrie, and Grace Biddle was slammed to the deck, bleeding and burnt. Matt twisted and he fired two short beams into the alien as he stood over Grace, joined by a third beam from Isabella.
And then the shrill sounds of phasers stopped; the Nephkyrie intruders were down, along with nearly half of Matt’s bridge crew. Chan pulled himself back up to his feet, and he leaned on his Mission Ops station, holding a useless arm tight against his side in pain. “Intruders reported on Decks 2 through 8; make that 2 through 9. Mister Malik reports Main Engineering is secure, but he is requesting immediate reinforcements; Mister Beck is deploying Marine reaction teams and crewmen prepped for boarding operations against the Nephkyrie.”
“How the Hell did they get through the in . . . no, don’t answer that, Chan!” Matt snarled. “Miss Montoya—set course to rendezvous with the Balao
, maximum Warp. Mister Roshenko, take out any transporter emitters on their hull!”
The turbolift doors opened and a pair of marines and two medics emerged.
“Transporter emitters destroyed, Captain,” Pavel answered calmly. “That will only slow them, however—and they rolling their ship!”
“Now, Miss Montoya!”
surged forward, into Warp and away from the Nephkyrie ship.