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Old April 10 2012, 08:19 PM   #10
Enterprise1981
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "Raising the Stakes"

Chapter Six

Yelgrun sat in front of a desk monitor on comm with Meezun. This was the third transmission in the last fifteen minutes he had received from the Sindareen captain, and each of them were to inquire about the arrival of Dominion reinforcements in the Minos system.

Out of all the Dominion’s Alpha Quadrant allies, Yelgrun felt the Sindareen were the most insufferable. Of course, he found the Breen to be highly unreasonable at times during his negotiations with them. The Son’a often demanded more than what the Founders were willing to pay. The Sindareen, on the other hand, often came off as bumbling and unreliable, a weakness offset only by a determination to accomplish goals set before them.

“I told you before,” he snapped, trying his hardest to keep his calm, “the Jem’Hadar will arrive as soon as they can. In the meantime, do what you can to slow them down. Don’t contact me again until after the Starfleet vessel is destroyed.”

Yelgrun cut the transmission before Meezun could respond, and tried to remind himself that this Sindareen was less likely to betray him than Tor Vot was. He had barely enough time to compose himself when his comm-panel chirped again. He was about to reject the message. But with his finger on that particular button, he saw the transmission was from Thot Jroln.

“Finally,” he groaned as he pushed a button to activate the viewscreen. The Breen general was dressed in standard Breen military armor, with the exception of the helmet. “How long before you can spare any ships to dispatch to the Minos system?” he inquired.

“Only one ship available. Starfleet ship destroyed, we still promise. But benefits us, how?”

“The automated weapons systems guarding Minos are yours to do with as you please,” Yelgrun responded with his best poker face, “provided you don’t use them against us.”

“Deal, you have, we honor.”

The screen quickly went blank, leaving Yelgrun to consider how to renege on that deal should Jroln’s mission succeed.

###

The ship was at a silent red alert, with the klaxons flashing.

Sh’Aqba was pacing throughout engineering overseeing various repair and maintenance jobs. She was headed to one of the situation consoles in front of the warp core when Stollerramn handed her a padd. Sh’Aqba quickly skimmed through the maintenance request on the padd. It was the usual mundane paperwork that came with being a department head. The repetitive nature of it too often got boring, but was a necessary evil to assure the efficient operation of a starship.

She signed off on the report and handed the padd back to the Ktarian petty officer, and then headed to the nearby situation consoles to run final check-ups on warp engine command processors. Tarlazzi slowly approached her and leaned on the front of the console. One of the moments sh’Aqba had dreaded since being issued a very serious warning about her recent dereliction of duty. On the other hand, she was fully aware of the consequences of a romantic affiliation with a subordinate that could not be avoided, especially now.

“Seems we’ve both been warned to dial things down,” Tarlazzi said with a hint of joviality in his voice.

“Not exactly in those terms,” sh’Aqba replied, keeping her eyes on the console, “but we’re being more closely observed to make sure that whatever the nature of our relationship, it does not interfere with our duties.”

“The usual Starfleet jargon that almost sounds like our every move will be monitored from now on.”

Shinar sighed, but still wouldn’t look Erhlich in the eye. “Not our every move,” she corrected, “just when we’re on duty.”

“But the chief engineer is always on duty.”

Shinar flashed a smile of feigned surrender. At that moment, she decided to look him in the eye. “Neither of our quarters is being bugged,” she teased, “if that’s what you’re worried about, Mister Tarlazzi.”

“So I’m ‘Mister Tarlazzi’ again?” Erhlich retorted. He circled around the console, and then clasped one of her hands. “People are talking. They know what’s going on between us. No need to be all professional with me.”

Shinar pulled her hand away and narrowed her eyelids as a silent reminder of how people were aware of their relationship. “On duty,” she explained, “we’re still expected to address each other by rank and-or surname. And for at least the next few weeks, ‘dialing it down’ is still a good idea.”

Tarlazzi took a quick look around to make sure no one in the immediate vicinity was actively listening to them. “How about no morning quickies, no matter how tempted either of us is?” he suggested in a very hushed tone.

“It’s a deal,” sh’Aqba whispered with a conspiratorial smile.

Before the discussion of how else to “dial down” their relationship could continue, the room rocked back and forth. Sh’Aqba turned her attention back to her console, while Tarlazzi and other engineers to scrambled to other stations in the compartment.

***

A Sindareen raider fired lasers and merculite rockets at the Lambda Paz-- first at the both warp nacelles, then at the aft phaser and torpedo emitters-- attempting to slow the ship down. The shields absorbed the weapon blasts, and the ship continued on its course without much deviation.

Sara Carson was still at conn even after the start of the gamma shift, as were much of the senior bridge officers. She dodged a few sparks erupting from the station as the bridge continued rocking in both directions. “Minor damage to both nacelles,” she reported, gripping the console with both hands.
“Shields are holding,” Morrison added.

“Return fire,” Kozar ordered. “Try to disable their engines and weapon emitters.”

The Sindareen raider veered above and ahead of the Lambda Paz, which fired phasers from the primary dorsal array and the upper sensor pod. The other five raiders that confronted the Starfleet ship just outside the Minos system moved in closer from stern, firing low energy phasers and merculite rockets at the nacelles, the sensor pod and weapons array. Shields were able to deflect most of the weapons, but the smaller ships kept coming.

“More glob flies,” Morrison remarked of the rest of the raiders. “Meezun’s five friends are firing at us from the port stern.”

“Just keep swatting them,” Kozar replied. “Helm, keep us on our course and speed. Don’t slow down unless enemy fire forces us to.”

“That may happen sooner than you think,” Morrison warned in response to a chirp from his console. “Two Jem’Hadar fighters approaching at three-two-seven mark one-eight-five. And a Breen heavy cruiser at two-six-eight mark three.”

“Evasive pattern delta, Lieutenant,” Kozar barked while keeping one eye on his tactical display. “Increase our speed to stay a few steps ahead of the Breen.”

The bridge rocked even harder with sparks and shrapnel gushing from the ceiling. The Jem’Hadar fired in a single file formation, while the Lambda Paz’s phasers clipped the ventral of both ships. Undeterred, the two Jem’Hadar fighters swung back around from the starboard side.

“They’re swinging back around, coming in for another pass,” Morrison called out while tightly gripping the tactical console with both hands to stay on his feet.

“Take us within ten thousand, Miss Carson,” Kozar ordered. “Morrison, target quantum torpedoes on both ships.”

“Fifteen thousand kilometers,” Sara said with a firm hand on her console, “twelve-point-five thousand, ten thousand kilometers.”

“Fire!”

Quantum torpedoes erupted from both the ventral launcher and the upper sensor pod and plowed into both fighters, destroying them.

“Bring us around and target the Breen cruiser,” Kozar added, upon seeing that the two blips representing the two Jem’Hadar ships disappeared from his tactical display screen.

“They’re already locking weapons on us,” Morrison hurriedly responded.

“Recalibrate shield nutations,” Kozar instructed. “Now is as good a time as any to see how our shields can withstand their weapons.”

The Breen heavy cruiser, now on the Lambda Paz’s starboard side, fired two plasma torpedoes that clipped the outer perimeter of her shields. Even as the ship tried to move out of the line of additional fire, a third torpedo struck the shields point blank. The hit caused a rippling effect across the ship until the shields dissolved entirely.

“Shields are gone,” Morrison calmly reported.

It was nothing but a grim reminder of the ship’s impending doom. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the entire bridge fell into an eerie silence. While he kept a cool head throughout the entire confrontation, the sound of voice still had an air of doom and gloom, as if one more torpedo would destroy the Lambda Paz.

“They’re locking onto us again,” Morrison added with a sense that his entire life flashing in his mind at warp speed. Through the silence, his console made a piercing chirp that echoed across the bridge. “Wait a minute,” he said, careful not to get anyone’s hopes up. “Several objects on approach.”

Come on, Kozar wanted to say,this one can take us out by itself.

“One of them is the captain’s yacht,” Morrison reassured the commander.

The yacht swiftly closed in on the Breen heavy cruiser, firing phasers and torpedoes. Ordinarily, the Breen could have taken the yacht out just as easily, but six green laser bolts were firing at the heavy cruiser, as well. The shields absorbed some of the hits, but were not strong enough to withstand all of them. Breen plasma torpedoes were able to clip the shields of the yacht, but missed the drones entirely.

With a new sense of determination, Kozar quickly rose from the command chair and paced towards the helm. “Bring us around, helm,” he snapped. “Target quantum torpedoes!”

Torpedoes from both the ventral launchers and dorsal sensor pod quickly plowed into the already heavily damaged Breen heavy cruiser, blowing it to bits.

A sense of triumph filled the bridge, but the two most senior officers maintained a quiet and stoic demeanor. The lower ranked officers and crewpersons, however, stared at the viewscreen with triumphant grins.

“The captain’s hailing us, sir,” Morrison gleefully reported, looking up from a chime on his communications boards.

“Put it up,” Kozar replied. At that very moment, he also decided to flash a wide smile triumph simply to reassure his crew. “Thanks for bailing us out just in the nick of time, Captain.”

Limis’s voice piped through the bridge speakers. All in day’s work, Kozar,” she said with restrained enthusiasm. “We have casualties. Have sickbay ready to receive them.”

“No problem, sir.”

The channel closed, and Kozar, Morrison, and Carson shared a few celebratory smiles. Now, they all thought, if only this new weapon system could be replicated and integrated into other ships before the Breen launched any other major offensives.
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