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Old August 25 2012, 08:09 AM   #36
Gibraltar
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UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2 <cont'd>

USS Europa


T’Ser slid smoothly into the captain’s chair, still clad in her dress uniform as a similarly attired Pell Ojana occupied the XO’s seat to her right. Lar’ragos moved to relieve the specialist manning the secondary Tactical station along the starboard bulkhead while sparing an envious glance at Verrik as the Vulcan stood his post at the arch immediately behind T’Ser.

“Ops, inform In’Drahn station that we’re departing to assist one of our ships under attack. Let them know we eagerly await the assembly’s response to our request.”

“Aye, sir,” Juneau acknowledged promptly.

T’Ser toggled the comms to Engineering. “Mister Ashok, we’re going to need best speed for as long as you can maintain it. Over a thousand Starfleet lives are hanging in the balance.”

Ashok’s terse reply indicated that he understood the seriousness of the situation and the need for speed.

“Take us out, Mister Lightner, and don’t spare the anti-matter.”

Europa swung gracefully about, darting behind a Yoashan cargo hauler and over an Asulno trade ship as she threaded her way through the crowded orbital pattern around the giant station.

A alarm trilled at the Ops and Tactical stations simultaneously, prompting Verrik to note, “In’Drahn station has just raised its shields.”

T’Ser turned in her chair to cast a glace back at Verrik. “Any apparent provocation?”

“None that I can detect, Captain.”

“Their weapons are coming online,” Juneau exclaimed.

“Raise shields,” T’Ser ordered.

And then at that moment all hell seemed to quite literally break loose.

An eruption of brilliant light some hundreds of kilometers from the station bathed the surrounding area in surreal energies.

In’Drahn’s enormous defensive batteries opened fire, belching great bolts of energized plasma and scorching beams of hyper-compressed collimated energy that struck with the force of a dozen photon torpedoes.

“Evasive!” T’Ser barked, as the bridge seemed to drop out from under her thanks to Lightner’s wildly erratic maneuvers.

They needn’t have bothered, T’Ser realized, as the main viewer tracked the outbound weapons fire past Europa to the point of the energetic eruption.

“Captain,” Shanthi remarked as he eyed his sensor results closely, “that energy field reads as identical to the one the Borg ship emerged from.”

T’Ser found herself unable to muster a response to the dreadful cataclysm taking place before their eyes. Her mind raced with possible avenues of escape, but without all the necessary variables, she vapor locked on a definitive course of action. Finally, the danger posed to ship and crew forced her back into her own head from her near out-of-body experience. “Helm, course zero-nine-three, mark three-four-one, engage at three-quarters impulse!”

A Borg vessel did indeed emerge from the schism in space, and was instantly bludgeoned by the incoming wave of weapons fire from In’Drahn station. Dozens of explosions blossomed across the nearest surface of the cube, jettisoning gouts of debris into the void.

The cube responded with equally destructive armaments of its own, sending out a corkscrewing storm of exotic missiles amidst a flurry of energy blasts, stuttering distruptor bolts, and blistering ionic pulses.

Suddenly, the vicinity of In’Drahn station had become a very dangerous place to be. Dozens of commercial ships tried to flee all at once, causing devastating collisions as stray missiles and beam-fire scythed through their numbers.

Some of the Amon missiles fired from the cube winked out of existence as they approached the station, re-entering the universe once again an instant later, only this time inside In’Drahn itself. The mighty station shuddered as internal explosions annihilated whole habitats within.

*****

Amon Homeship Transcendant

The command crew of the great cube, secured to their acceleration couches, cried out in unison as the ship emerged from its transit corridor into normal space. Tremendous detonations shook the enormous craft as the foremost facet of the ship was suddenly awash in destructive weapons impacts.

Warlord Jalahar touched a hand to his temple, wincing against the pain of the sudden cacophony of violent emotions generated by the unexpected ambush. The Amon were alarmed, and they were not a species given easily to shock.

Nestrala stumbled, and Sandhurst grabbed a hold of her to prevent the woman from sinking to the floor. “No,” she croaked in dismay, “our brothers and sisters have opened fire upon us!”

Sandhurst knelt to support her. “One big happy family, eh?”

A warning klaxon brayed in protest as Jalahar announced, “Our defenses have been compromised, and we’ve taken substantial damage. I am releasing the Borg drones to carry out repairs.”

“My ship,” Sandhurst urged, “is it here?”

“Yes,” one of the reclining systems advocates answered for Jalahar.

“I have to get aboard… to warn my crew.”

“It is reasonable to assume your crew is presently aware of the danger,” the supine woman remarked without a hint of sarcasm.

“Just get me onboard!” he shouted.

The woman was unmoved by his outburst, her eyes still closed as she rerouted power systems and controlled the assignments of Borg repair drones. “Neither we nor they are presently able to lower shields to permit transport.”

Sandhurst glowered helplessly, forced to stand idle while a battle he could not even see raged around him.

*****

USS Europa

The ship jostled from a near-miss as a blazing plasma bolt scorched past the starship to immolate a nearby Senaflian freighter that had blundered into the apocalyptic exchange of fire.

“Report,” T’Ser ordered grimly.

“Shields holding,” Verrik assessed. “We’re nearly out of the line of fire.”

T’Ser called over her shoulder to Shanthi at the Science station. “Keunre, scan the cube for human life-signs.”

“I have been, Captain,” he replied, frustration evident in his tone. “Nothing so far. Whatever the hell they’re using for shields is refracting back our scans.”

At Ops, Juneau called out, “Six civilian ships destroyed, four more heavily damaged. We’re picking up multiple escape pods in the vicinity of the station.”

“Understood,” T’Ser answered, knowing that despite the immediate danger to the hundreds of people in those lifeboats, re-entering the savage fray between the cube and the station would mean almost certain death for all aboard.

She fixed her attention on the viewscreen, watching as the cube appeared to reinforce its shielding against the station’s potent onslaught. Great gaping holes had been gouged from the cube’s facets, and the enormous vessel trailed glittering streamers of escaping gasses and radiation behind it.

Sections of In’Drahn station, meanwhile, looked to be collapsing in upon themselves, even while the installation’s outermost defensive screens held firm against the directed energy weapons of the cube. What T’Ser guessed to be some form of trans-dimensional missiles were still vanishing just outside the shield envelope to reappear and detonate inside the structure.

“The Habertaem have no control over their weapons systems,” Pell remarked to T’Ser, as if the captain needed reminding. “They’re dying in there, helpless victims in someone else’s war.”

“I know,” T’Ser whispered back to her. “There’s not a damn thing we can do for them.”

“You’re wrong,” Pell said in a tone so flinty that T’Ser found herself turning to face her XO. “The Amon vessel is damaged, and we have an Alpha Weapon that could either destroy it or at least maybe knock it out of commission.”

“I… I don’t—“ T’Ser stammered, trying to wrap her head around that plan of action.

Pell pressed, “Thousands are dying, Captain, and we’re playing spectator. Meanwhile, Galaxy is running for her life.”

“Captain Sandhurst might be aboard that ship,” T’Ser protested.

“One man,” Pell rejoined, drawing attention to the substance of their conversation outside the transporter room. “One man’s life set against the lives of countless thousands of people who trusted us enough to show us friendship. After all that the Husnock did to them, they trusted us.”

A moment of silence followed as the faces of T’Ser, Pell, and Lar’ragos were illuminated by the continued explosions taking place beyond the hull of Europa.

T’Ser leveled her gaze on Lar’ragos. “This is why she’s my XO, Pava. She’s the only one of us thinking with her head rather than her heart.”

She typed a series of commands into her armrest interface, prompting the computer to announce, 'Alpha Weapon level two safeties disengaged. Enter command authorization to deactivate level one safeties and to arm Weapon Alpha One.'

“The hell you are!” Lar’ragos bolted from his seat towards the command chair so fast most of the crew had barely registered the movement before the flash of a stun beam from Verrik’s phaser drove the El Aurian into the carpeted deck with a near-simultaneous thud and grunt of surprise.

From behind Verrik’s eyes, the Operative smiled grimly. Didn’t see that coming, did you Listener?

T’Ser hardly spared Lar’ragos a glance before enunciating, “Recognize Captain T’Ser, launch authorization Tango-Sierra-Bravo, four-nine-one-one.”

'Code accepted', the computer replied, 'level one safeties disengaged. Weapon Alpha One is now armed. Enter executive officer counter-authorization to initiate weapons release for firing.'

Without hesitation, Pell said, “Recognize Lieutenant Commander Pell Ojana, launch authorization Alpha-Alpha-Alpha, zero-three-zero-seven.”

'Code accepted. Weapon Alpha One has been loaded into forward tube two and is ready for launch.'

T’Ser stood, moving to a point just behind and between the Flight Control and Operations stations. “Mister Verrik,” she ordered…

*****
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Last edited by Gibraltar; August 25 2012 at 10:43 PM.
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