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Old July 17 2012, 10:57 AM   #18
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
Re: Third Cutter Squadron: Talarian Incursion

STAR TREK: THIRD CUTTER SQUADRON
TALARIAN INCURSION
T’Vor – Cast Adrift


The oppressive silence in the packed escape pod was getting to be too much for Lieutenant Isabella Nutini; but to make matters worse she was feeling a familiar itch, one that always made it difficult for her to concentrate until she scratched it and scratched it good. However, with seven of her shipmates around her there was no privacy to be had and so she would have to grin and bear it.

The former Operations Manager of the cutter T’Vor had always been very sure about what she wanted and never afraid of pursuing it, regardless of what gossip was spread behind her back. To her, having a good tumble with a partner (or two or three) was the best way to blow off some steam and relax—and those she shared the time with enjoyed it almost as much as she did. She’d been called promiscuous (and worse) more than a few times, but if that was the price of enjoying sex without commitment and attachment then she was happy to pay it. And after the last two days, she needed a release.

The T’Vor had been partnered up with the Mandela, Black Kettle and Khukuri from the Sixth Fleet and sent to counter the Talarian forces encroaching on the Privatt System. Unfortunately, the Talarians were better organised than they’d expected and instead of finding only two squadrons of ships, they had encountered a full tactical wing. With the odds six-to-one against them, the Starfleet task force had had no choice but to withdraw. But the Talarians weren’t about to let them go easily and threw everything they had at the cutter and starships.

The Freedom-Class Mandela had been the first to stumble. With her warp core going critical, the T’Vor and Khukuri are laid down covering fire whilst the Black Kettle evacuated the stricken ship. The two ships used their greater manoeuvrability to their advantage, ducking and weaving through the frigates and cruisers, keeping them off-balance until the Mandela was empty and the Black Kettle was clear, before regrouping. One ship down, they headed back for their staging ground continuing to trade blows with the pursuing hostiles.

One lucky shot using a Romulan heavy disruptor bank took out the Khukuri. None of the forty-three people onboard the Sabre-Class ship had survived. The T’Vor and Black Kettle increased their speed, pushing their engines to their specified limit and beyond. Fortunately, the Talarians hadn’t put as much effort into upgrading their warp drive as they had their weaponry, so the two Starfleet ships were able to edge out in front. Beyond the range of their weapons, they were safe from the Talarians until they reached the rendezvous point, where around a dozen ships would be waiting to back them up.

The chase had been ongoing for just over an hour when the Black Kettle developed a problem. One of the primary warp plasma conduits that fed the two ventral nacelles was overheating; a diagnostic scan showed that microfractures were already starting to form within the conduit. The Cheyenne-Class ship could remain at warp with just the dorsal nacelles, but couldn’t maintain the high speeds needed to stay ahead of the two attack squadrons pursuing them. The ship and the five-hundred and eighty people onboard would be at the mercy of the Talarians if the conduit was shut down or ruptured.

It was a tough situation they faced. Two ships already destroyed and a third on the verge of giving up, leaving just the cutter fully operational. Already the Talarians had destroyed one Griffin-Class ship, though the odds weren’t as bad as the Cyclops’ encounter with the initial invasion fleet, it was eight against one.

Captain Lowe had advised the Black Kettle to maintain their heading and stay at maximum warp for as long as they could, telling the Fleet ship that the T’Vor would buy them the time they needed to escape. Immediately the ship was readied for battle and they’d come about, barrelling into the pursuing ships with every phaser array and torpedo launcher firing.

The fight had been hard and brutal, but short. A full spread of Rat Trap torpedoes had blinded their sensors for a few minutes and the cutter had used every second to its advantage, landing precision hits on each frigate, enough to disable an engine of navigational array which forced them out of warp for a brief time. Once the Talarians regrouped, for every hit the T’Vor landed they retaliated fivefold.

Their shields gone, weapons destroyed and warp core on the verge of breaching, Lowe had ordered the crew to abandon ship. They had barely had time to get to the escape pods and launch before the cutter was destroyed and the frigates resumed their pursuit of the Black Kettle. Before evacuating, Nutini had done the math and determined that if the Black Kettle was able to keep going at their previous speed for another twenty minutes, then they would be able to make it to the staging ground before the Talarians caught up. Unfortunately, she had no way of knowing if they had or not.

Now, she huddled inside the pod, with Captain Lowe, Commander King, and five other shipmates, with no way of knowing what had happened to the Black Kettle. They were adrift, with all the other pods, hiding within a debris field that had only hours earlier been their home. All of her personal possessions had been in her quarters, mementos and trinkets she’d collected over the years that could never be replaced. She was still alive though, as were the vast majority of the crew (or so the last casualty reports she’d seen had stated). Though even that came at a price, she was alive but antsy, and with no way of knowing how long until a rescue ship arrived she might not find relief anytime soon.

Gritting her teeth she tried to focus on the small console next to her, from which she could monitor their limited communications, environmental and sensor systems. There was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to distract her or keep her busy—just as it had been for the last twenty-six hours.

The T’Vor had been sacrificed for the greater good, but they had no idea if that sacrifice had even been worth it, no way of knowing if the Black Kettle had got to safety in time or not. All any of them could do was hope for the best and wait. Patience was not a virtue she possessed, and they faced days in the pod.

“Anything Lieutenant?” Lowe asked.

“Negative Captain,” Nutini stated, her tone sounding sharp to her own ears. “It’s quiet. All other pods report the same.”

“Keep monitoring the distress beacon, hopefully someone will get to us soon.”

“Aye sir.”

Lowe looked over at Lieutenant Commander Das, who was tending to Commander King (who had been injured during the evacuation by a falling support beam). “How is he?”

“He’s doing alright, so far. It’s a mild concussion, but all his vitals are stable,” the Tactical Officer replied. “Our comlink with Doctor Freisbod’s pod is stable and she is monitoring things from that end.”

“Good.”

The Captain checked on the rest of the crew in the pod, trying to reassure them and bolster their spirits, but Lowe too looked nervous. Nutini could only wonder how things were going on other escape pods, where the occupants were younger and less experienced, where nerves and worries beat out experience and training.

The sensor panel chirped and she quickly checked its readout. When she saw what had set it off she glanced over at Lowe. “Sir, we’ve just been scanned.”

The cramped interior of the pod allowed Lowe to be next to her in a heartbeat, looking at the small screen.

“Any idea who it is, Lieutenant?”

“No. Our sensors aren’t detecting anything, but range is extremely limited.”

“Put all pods on alert and prepare to move out.”

“Aye,” Nutini confirmed. During the Border Wars the Talarians had left escape pods alone, but that might have changed along with their weapons. She sent out a warning to the rest of the pods and then readied their RCS thrusters, they wouldn’t be able to outrun anyone at sub-impulse, but the pods were extremely manoeuvrable so she would make it as difficult as possible to hit them should the need arise.

With the tension building, she managed to suppress her desires and focus on the task at hand, her fingers ready to input a wide array of evasive sequences. The pod, with seven other bodies so close to her seemed to get warmer, as all those that were conscious braced themselves for whatever they were about to face.

Just then the companel flashed. Tapping the receive button, the speakers within the pod came to life.

T’Vor escape pods, this is the Sutherland. Prepare for retrieval, all those carrying the seriously injured will have priority,” came an authoritative female tone.

Lowe nodded at the panel. “Open a channel.”

Nutini quickly complied. “Open.”

Sutherland, this is Captain Lowe. Thank you for getting here so quickly. We stand ready for rescue and recovery.”

“Thank you, Captain. If it wasn’t for the T’Vor, we would have lost four ships rather than three.”

“The Black Kettle made it to safety?”

“That they did, and we managed to beat the Talarians back to Braselius nine.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Captain, my XO has a concussion—though the rest of us in the pod are fine. Any chance you could beam him out?”

“Standby. Sutherland out.”

Lowe sat back and exhaled. A wide grin spread across Nutini’s face, as a feeling of relief filled the pod, which only increased as Commander King’s body was enveloped in a transporter beam and taken onboard the Sutherland.

* * * * *
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Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)
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