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Old July 24 2012, 01:18 PM   #22
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Location: Deep Space 9
Re: Third Cutter Squadron: Talarian Incursion

Cam Rahn Bay – Down But Not Out

“By Tygrath’s Claw,” Captain Mirothrin R’Shav gasped.

He was squeezed into the compact cockpit of Workbee 1, looking out the viewport at the hull of his ship, the Soyuz-Class U.S.S. Cam Rahn Bay. The ship was parked in close proximity to an asteroid, on the outer edge of a small belt they had been able to limp into following the collision.

They had been playing cat and mouse with two frigates, which had led them away from their task force and then into the region of space the Talarians had annexed. Cut off from support and on the wrong side of the frontlines, they had managed to finally gain the upper hand and disabled one of the frigates allowing them to focus on the second. But the Talarian ship wasn’t as easy as its partner and put up a brave fight, landing a few damaging blows, but ultimately the cutter had beaten them.

The second ship hadn’t survived the battle. Her warp core breached and sent out a strong shockwave. It was the shockwave that propelled the first ship towards the Cam Rahn Bay. Unable to avoid the spinning hulk, they’d braced for impact. The remains of the frigate ploughed into the cutters hull, slicing through the duranium plating and support structure as though it were a sheet of paper. Most of the Talarian ship had crumpled and broken apart, with sections of hull and debris smacking against or gouging into the rest of the cutters squat saucer, ripping off the starboard sensor array and pummelling the nacelle below it, whilst a large triangular wedge remained imbedded in their hull.

It was the extent of the external damage, that he now surveyed, that had made him gasp aloud. But as bad as things looked on the outside, inside the ship things were far worse. Aside from deck one (which had remarkable been spared), every deck had suffered a breach or been compromised. The foreign ship imbedded a third of the way into the starboard side of the Cam Rahn Bay had sliced through multiple power lines, plasma, EPS and ODN conduits, destroyed many systems and made warp drive impossible.

That was negligible when compared to the loss of life. Out of a crew of two hundred and twenty-one, only eighty-nine had survived which included twelve who were in critical condition in sickbay. Doctor Richmond, one of the few remaining members of the senior staff, had told him their chances of survival were low—even if they could get to a Freedom or another starbase, the prognosis wasn’t good.

A throaty groan of mourning escaped his lips.

“Captain?” came the questioning voice of Senior Chief Kahmor, who was in Workbee 2.

“Nothing Chief,” he told the non-com, knowing that an apology or excuse would mean nothing to the Zaldan. “It’s worse than I thought it would be. I’m surprised she survived at all.”

“Engineers last century obviously knew what they were doing,” Kahmor replied.

“The ones this century still do, Chief.” He didn’t let the COB reply, switching the comlink to the second channel. “Lieutenant Treigtakda, are you getting the sensor data?”

“Affirmative. Data stream coming in strong,” Treigtakda replied, her voice shaky. Anya Treigtakda had been his Chief Operations Officer for the last three years, ever since she’d made full Lieutenant, but now, with the deaths of commander’s Priestley, Jharss and Andrews, she was next in line and as such was acting up as First Officer. It was obvious that she was a little overwhelmed by their current situation, the damage and loss of life, but with the added responsibilities on top of her as well, R’Shav had been worried about her. However, as stressed and exhausted as she was (as well as the rest of the crew) she continued to stay focused and was doing a truly exceptional job of co-ordinating what needed to be done.

With the damage the Cam Rahn Bay had taken, both their external and internal sensors were almost non-existent. As the Workbees swept around the damaged cutter, they ran visual and sensor scans of the ship and sent the detail back to Treigtakda, so that she could compile a full damage assessment. R’Shav and Kahmor worked is silence, going over every meter of the ship. Every scuff, dent and tear in the hull R’Shav catalogued felt like a cut on himself. The Cam Rahn Bay had been his first command, and in the last decade since he’d first set paw onboard he’d become very fond of the old cutter, constantly awed by how she handled whatever situation was thrown at her—this latest incident was proof of that—whilst over the years he had managed to pull together a crew he was proud to call his own. But now, sixty percent were dead, whilst all those that had survived were injured to some degree and now trapped behind enemy lines.

It was his responsibility to get them home, no matter what.

The full inspection of the hull took them a good three hours to complete, by which time his muscles were cramping and sore and he could smell the day’s worth of sweat, soot, grime and grit. With the ship on barely functional emergency batteries, they didn’t have the power for sonic showers nor the time to spare to see to hygiene and grooming.

With their task finished he led the way back into the main shuttlebay. The starboard hanger was a mess, with shuttles and stallions thrown loose from their parking berths, and the port hanger being used to store the bodies that had so far been recovered. A call to the Bridge saw the doors open and the two utility craft quickly entered the ship. They then had to wait as the doors closed again and the bay was repressurised, they couldn’t waste power on the hanger forcefields, not when other sections of the ship needed them.

Once safe, he exited the pod and took a deep breath of clean air, fortunately the CO2 scrubbers were still working, but even they couldn’t quell the stench of scorched metal and meat that his heightened olfactory sense could detect—a constant reminded of the losses they’d taken only two days earlier.

R’Shav led the way into the corridor, where they split up. He headed for the Engine Room, whilst Kahmor would help to co-ordinate damage control teams. The corridors were oddly empty. Every able bodied officer, non-com and crewman was assigned to a DC team, trying to patch up a damaged section, reroute a conduit, or gain access to a key system. Every couple of hours another body would be pulled from the wreckage, but due to what little sensors they had left, he knew that there were no more survivors to be found.

He shook his head to clear it as he entered Engineering. It was as bad as any other room onboard; blackened consoles, blown panels, debris and dust littering the ground after being swept off of consoles, traces of blood on terminals, floor and bulkheads. In the middle of the hexagonal room the warp core stood proud, but it was dark and quiet. R’Shav noted an engineer of a hover platform up near the ceiling, performing essential repairs to the core.

It took him a few moments to take in the room, before spotting the man he wanted and heading for him. Lieutenant JG Cogan stood by the Master System Display, probably the only console not flickering in the whole room, looking at the displays.

Thanks to the thick pads of R’Shav’s paws, his approach was silent, so Cogan jumped when he asked, “What’s our status?”

Composing himself, Cogan turned to face R’Shav. He was stripped down to his grey vest, which was grimy as were his uniform trousers, whilst his bare arms, neck and face were slathered with grease and lubricants. Cogan had been fourth in command of Engineering, but with two of his superiors in the port shuttlebay and another in sickbay, he was now Acting Chief.

“I’ve just started going over the scans you took outside and comparing it with what we were able the garner from the internal sensors,” he began, turning back to the MSD. “The structural damage is as bad as I thought it might be, but the starboard nacelle is in pretty good shape considering. As for that lump of Talarian scrap we’ve got in our side, there’s no way we can get that out ourselves—it’s so well packed in that it’s actually keeping the saucer from decompressing.”

“But it’s also keeping us from warp.”

Cogan was looking at a smaller screen that showed the visual scans they had taken, biting his lower lip as he studied them. R’Shav looked at the image as well, like a dagger sticking out of his side—sometimes removing the object that caused the injury did more harm than good.

“It’s not actually as large as I expected,” Cogan mused.

“That’s because when it smashed into us, most of it shattered across the rest of the hull,” he pointed out.

“What I mean, sir, is that if we can alter our warp field, I might be able to get us to low warp for brief times. Of course I’ll need to completely redesign our field geometry to account for the additional mass and structural weaknesses, and we would have to start and stop a lot, not to mention I’d need power from pretty much every other system to keep the SIF operational.”

“Lieutenant Cogan, are you telling me, that you have a way for us to get back to Federation space?”

“A theory of one sir—assuming the warp core wasn’t too badly damaged.”

R’Shav smiled for the first time in what felt like months. “Do whatever you need to, Lieutenant.”

“Actually sir, I could use someone who is a warp field specialist, grade three or above.”

He paused and pondered for a moment, trying to think who had a suitable qualification and was still able to help. There weren’t many left, though one did come to mind. “Ensign Siora is a grade four if I remember correctly. Once I get up to the Bridge, I’ll send her down.”

“Thank you, sir.”

From the other end of the room, someone called out, “Lieutenant?”

Cogan looked towards the voice then back at R’Shav. “I’ll keep you apprised, Captain.” With that, he headed over to help with whatever had cropped up.

R’Shav nodded and headed for the Jefferies tube access (with so many turbolift tubes compromised it was too risky to use the system, besides it helped them save some energy too) and began the climb up to deck one.

He emerged onto Bridge from the hatch on the floor just in front of the viewscreen. With his arrival, there were now three people present, the other two being Lieutenant Treigtakda, who had pulled a seat up to the MSD console at the aft bulkhead, and Ensign Siora at the Conn. The young Rigellian looked half asleep, with heavy bags under her bleary eyes—an unusual look on the young officer who was a lover of adrenaline-producing activities. Upon seeing him though she perked up a little.

“Ensign, Lieutenant Cogan could use your expertise down in Engineering.”

“Aye sir,” she replied before trying to stifle a yawn.

Siora left her post and began the long climb down. R’Shav had a quick glance over the Conn displays; they were still holding position within the asteroid belt, their minimal power emissions wouldn’t make them register on all but the most intensive of scans, and no one within that limited sensor range they had. Satisfied that the ship was safe for the time being, he headed back to Treigtakda.

“How are we doing, Anya?”

“DC team five has managed to restore internal communications, though they’re still a little patch on the starboard side. Team three has managed to get into sensor control and has begun assessing damage. Gravity has been restored on decks ten and eleven and waste management is now up to half capacity,” she fired through the list of what had been accomplished in the time he’d been in the Workbee, but then hesitated.

“Sickbay has also reported that Lieutenant Boon and Petty Officer Mills have died from their injuries, which takes our total losses up to one hundred and thirty-four.”

“Damn,” he growled, clenching his fists tightly.

It took him a moment to calm the surge of anger that filled his chest. The only consolation he could take was that they had destroyed the two ships that had killed so many of his crew. He had fought against the Talarians before, twenty years ago as a brash young lieutenant during the Border Wars. Though they had numbers on their side, the Border Service of twenty years ago had been able to hold their own against the Little Cousins (as they had been disparagingly nicknamed by Starfleet, a reference to their similarity in appearance and aggression to the Klingons) for far longer than the present incursion. It just showed R’Shav how little Starfleet respected the Border Service, letting it become so weak in recent years. After all the conflicts and wars of recent years, this was the time for the Federation to focus on their border security; forget about deep space exploration and worry about keeping their outlying planets and bases safe with a strong Border Service. Had the Third Squadron had more ships and a better network of sensor buoys along the frontier, then the Talarians would never have dared attack.

Barely containing his resentment, he said through gritted teeth, “Thank you, Lieutenant.”

He looked down at the young Human/Ktarian officer and felt a pang of guilt. She was trying hard to stay focused and alert on little sleep and a lot of caffeine, whilst stepping up to fill a role she had never expect to occupy so early in her career, in the midst of a situation that was trying even himself, so the last thing she needed was him getting self-righteous and bitter about situations well out of their control.

“My apologies, Anya.” He let out a long sigh, trying to soothe himself. He looked over the numerous displays and readouts, all showing different data feeds and telemetry—it was no surprise that her eyes were bloodshot having to make sense of all that information.

“When was the last time you took a break?”

“I’m not sure, sir.”

“Take an hour, get in a nap.”

“I’d rather stay at my post, Captain.”

“Lieutenant—” he began, but she cut him off.

“You need a break as much as I do, sir, but that hasn’t stopped you. Given the higher metabolism of Caitians compared to humans or Ktarians, you could need it more than I do.”

He gave her a faint smile. “Touché, Lieutenant. Why don’t I go get us a couple of field rations?”

“Sounds good, sir.”

“I’ll be right back,” R’Shav told Treigtakda, giving her a pat on the shoulder, before heading back for the Jefferies tube access.

* * * * *
Commander Austin Harris, First Officer, Deep Space Nine (by FltCpt. Bossco)
8.01 - Darkest Before Dawn (Chapter 8 added, 12/09/2015)
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