Chapter Twenty-One (cont.)
Chris grunted as Republic
bucked violently beneath him. The instrumentation and control panels in Deflector Control were sparking and smoking as the young Ensign worked desperately to rearrange the isolinar chips. “Chief, link the primary, second, and tertiary systems together—they have to handle the power!”
They have to, Chris thought as he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He slid the last chip back into place, and the deflector began to power up. “We’re up!” he shouted.
Chief Bronson grunted in answer as he punched in commands into his own control unit, ducking as another station exploded with the barely contained fury of the cascading energy ripping through the ship’s plasma power conduits. “Deflector ready for firing, Mister Roberts! I hope you know what you are doing, Sir!”
Chris swallowed; he had read about the tactic that Enterprise
used when she attempted to stop the Borg before Wolf-359, but although he had gone over the steps of how it could be done in exercises, he had before actually done it. He licked his dry lips. “On three, Chief Bronson, trigger the pulse—but maintain it until the power levels drop to normal or the system burns out. One.” Chris wiped away the sweat again as Republic
rocked under another internal explosion. “Two.” Oh God, let this work, he quickly prayed. “THREE!” He yelled as he slapped the panel controls to life.
Bronson triggered the Deflector Dish, and the ship began to shudder and shiver and shake as an extremely loud hum filled the compartment. Chris looked up and out of the armored glass panel and he squinted in pain as a searing blue-white beam of incredible energy shot forward, extending deep into empty space.
“Power levels are falling, Mister Roberts! Three hundred percent normal maximum load, two hundred and twenty percent; one seventeen, eighty-four!”
“Shut it down!” Chris yelled as ripped out the control chip and the energy beam died away.
Smoke rose from all of the instrumentation, and the young officer could taste the ozone of the burnt polymers and plates. He turned around, and he looked at the older Chief Petty Officer, who was slowly nodding. “Plasma relay systems at seventy-four percent of rated capacity, Mister Roberts. We managed to dump a good portion of the energy, Sir.”
A rasping cough came from the other end of the compartment, and Crewman Thompson spoke up. “Dish is off-line, Mister Roberts. We’ve got warning lights on all the systems; we’re dead in the water.”
Chris nodded, and then an alert siren began to blare, and a blue strobe light began to flash. “Hull breach! Evacuate the compartment! Chief, give me a head count!”
He could hear a whistling noise that was growing louder, and Chris hurriedly glanced beneath consoles and under debris; then he saw the seam of the hull plating start to split open—and the black of space behind it. Oh shit, he thought, and he closed his eyes expecting to be pulled out through the fracture.
But then a strong hand clamped on his forearm, and Chief Bronson yanked him towards the exit, his other hand firmly clasped by two of the crewmen. Together, the four of them fought the growing gale of winds fighting against them, until they crossed the threshold and Bronson slapped the manual override, dropping the blast door into place and sealing off the breach from the rest of the ship.
Two engineers ran down the corridor towards them, carrying medical equipment and emergency tools. They passed around an oxygen bottle to each of Chris’s people, and the Ensign gave them a thumbs-up.
He took a low pull of the oxygen, and slowly his heart began to wind down its frantic race. Chris shook his head and started to grin. “Well that’s two hull breaches in Deflector Control on this tour, Chief. If we have a third do we get a prize?”
“If we get a third, Mister Roberts, I’m putting in my retirement papers.”