STAR TREK: THIRD CUTTER SQUADRON
Cyclops – The Coming Storm
The direct hit to the Cyclops
’ impulse engines made the cutter sluggish, every evasive sequence Ensign Inzi Tham tried felt lumbering and heavy, ineffective against the continuous barrage of torpedoes, phaser beams and disruptor blasts. She’d been onboard the Griffin-Class ship for two years, ever since she’d graduated from the Academy and the cutter had been assigned to the Third Squadron, and in that time she’d faced off against a number of smugglers and pirates and raiders, all battles that the Cyclops
held the advantage. But now they were facing off against an entire battalion of Talarian warships, cruisers and frigates.
Her sensor panel cried out a proximity alert and her blue hands danced over flight control, trying desperately to squeeze a little more out of the wounded ship. Despite her best efforts the torpedo ploughed through their already weakened aft shields and tore into the scorched hull. The deck jerked and shuddered. Tham focused on her duties and not on the damage that’d been inflicted or the lives lost.
“Damage report!” Captain Jadus Yix called from his seat behind her.
“Hull breach, deck seven. We’ve lost the starboard power conduit, plasma fires reported throughout the deck,” Lieutenant Commander Keats replied from Ops.
Hearing the Ops Mangers report, Tham glanced at her status display and felt the knots in her stomach tighten at the flashing red readout. “Warp drive has been compromised. We couldn’t do more than a warp one jump.”
“Keep that as an option, Inzi,” her fellow Bolian told her from the Captain’s chair.
“Aye,” she called over her shoulder, remaining focused on her panel.
“Captain,” Commander Lelani spoke up from where she now stood at Tactical, whilst Lieutenant Gomez lay dead on the deck beside her, “Our phasers are having minimal effect on their shields and we’re down to our last six photons.”
Tham’s keen hearing allowed her to hear the XO’s statement through the din of the klaxons and various alerts that bleated. Starfleet history had been a favourite subject of hers at the Academy, especially wars and major conflicts, so she was well versed in details of the Talarian Border War. The Talarian Republic were a strange power in the Quadrant, they had always lagged behind others when it came to weaponry, if it wasn’t for their sheer numbers (during the Border War they had outnumber the Starfleet task force ten to one) then they wouldn’t be much of a threat to anyone. But now they had warship-grade shielding and weaponry that matched that of Starfleet.
“The jamming field?” Yix asked Keats.
“Everything I try keeps bouncing back.”
“If we can’t raise the alarm, then the Squadron doesn’t stand a chance.”
“We could try what that Nausicaan raider pulled on us at Drae’on,” Keats suggested.
“It had us,” Yix admitted. “Rig an antimatter pod and standby on communications, we may only have a few seconds.”
“I’ll be ready with a burst transmission, sir.”
“Commander, keep a torpedo in reserve, but keep throwing everything we have at them.”
“You got it,” the Napean promptly replied.
“Inzi, I need you to drop us back a little—let them get in closer—then be ready with a full blast from the impulse engines.”
“I’ll give you all she’s got, Captain,” she told him, though couldn’t help but think, I don’t exactly know how with one engine out and the other fluctuating.
There was a brief time of frantic work; Keats readying one of their antimatter pods, as Tham slowed the ship down, allowing the Talarians to close in around them, and Lelani kept their phasers firing. The Cyclops
bucked and shook, numerous systems screaming in distress and needing attention, but nothing could be done for any of them. Tham was only twenty-three, she had hoped for a long fulfilling career and a happy life, but even she knew a last stand when she saw one. The faces of Yix, Lelani and Keats only confirmed what she knew, none of them expected to see tomorrow—they would fight tooth and claw to do so, but ultimately they all knew that they were only fighting for one purpose, to warn every other ship in the region about what was coming.
Though she was terrified at the prospect of dying, Tham knew that if they could do just that one task then at least it wouldn’t be for nothing. Blinking back a tear, she entered evasive pattern alpha into the navcomp and the ship staggered into a tight roll.
“Pod prepped. Burst transmission ready,” announced Lieutenant Commander Keats.
“Last torpedo loaded, trajectory co-ordinated with Ops,” Lelani added.
Tham took a breath before stating, “Impulse drive ready.”
“Jettison pod,” Yix order calmly.
On her sensor screen, Tham saw a small circle appear behind them, quickly moving towards the large cluster of orange triangles that represented the Talarians. If the hostile ships saw the pod they gave no indication, none moved away from it, they just kept up the chase of the Cyclops
After a few seconds, Yix barked, “Now!”
The second the torpedo was fired, Tham hit the impulse power control. The weakened sublight engines strained to get to two-thirds and no matter what she tried they couldn’t give any more.
Behind the cutter, it took only the blink of an eye for the lone photon torpedo to reach the antimatter pod. The effect was instantaneous. The explosion was blinding in the seconds it existed before the vacuum of space snuffed it out, whilst the shockwave it produced slammed into the closely packed ships and disrupted the thoron field they were sending out.
In the brief window they had Keats sent out their warning as well as a copy of the sensor logs, so that the rest of the Squadron and any regular Fleet ships nearby would know what was coming.
“Signal sent,” the Ops Manager reported, the relief in his tone was clear.
After the brief moment of respite all the proximity sensors called out at once. Tham glanced at hers to see the Talarians regrouping and coming straight for them, behind a volley of torpedoes.
“Hold on!” Lelani called out.
The impact was like an asteroid smacking into the back of the cutter, sending them spinning for a moment, before the stabilisers kicked in and steadied the ship. Lights blew out on the Bridge, as consoles exploded and crackled. Tham had been thrown from her seat but clambered back to her post.
She looked at the damage to flight control. “Impulse drive off-line, navigation disabled, RCS thrusters at twenty percent.”
“Aft shields have collapsed, phasers are out in the saucer section,” Lelani added.
Tham expected to hear Keats adding additional information from Ops. She glanced back to see him slumped across his console, unquenched flames engulfing his torso. Without needing to be asked, Tham accessed the internal sensors and saw just how badly the latest barrage had been.
“Hull breaches on multiple decks, we’ve lost main power, auxiliary holding at eighty percent, EPS taps and ODN relays have blown across the ship.”
“Talarians closing, weapons hot and they’ve all targeted us,” the First Officer stated, her voice hollow.
Yix rose from his chair and approached the Conn, his eyes fixed onto the viewscreen which showed the quickly approaching hostile ships, their triangular bodied bristling with weapons ports, whilst the tips of each wing ended with a torpedo launcher. He stopped right behind Tham.
After a moment he placed a fatherly hand on her shoulder. “Ensign Tham, set a collision course with the lead ship. Prepare for warp jump.”
She looked up at him. His eyes remained forward, jaw set. Two years ago, Jadus Yix taken a risk and accepted a rookie as his Conn Officer and in that time she had done everything she could to live up to the trust and faith he’d put in her, he was a man she held in the highest respect, so she wasn’t about to let him down now.
Looking back at her console, she nodded. “Aye sir. Course set.”
On the viewscreen the lead ship opened fire with her phasers, just as Yix began to say, “En—”
He never finished.
One moment his hand was on her shoulder and the next it wasn’t, and a powerful blast of wind—stronger than any of the typhoons she’d gone through on Bolarus—was trying to blow her towards the ceiling. Somehow, she couldn’t say how, but she managed to hold on to her console. She glanced up and in place of the utilitarian ceiling panels, supports and conduits, there were glittering stars, glowing brightly against the inky black of space, whilst debris and bodies floated away from the Cyclops
Her grip was slipping. Looking back at her board, she saw that the cutter was still pointed towards the approaching ships, what left of her warp drive powered and ready. All it needed was the one command to make it happen.
As the wind weakened it got harder for her to breathe and her vision became blurry. Before she succumbed to black maw of space above her, Inzi Tham reached out and brushed her finger on the warp activation button.
The U.S.S. Cyclops
leapt to warp one for just point-four-six of a second, but she tore into three Talarian ships, destroying them outright, whilst the resulting explosions and debris took out another and crippled four other frigates.
* * * * *