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Old March 27 2013, 05:07 AM   #188
Gibraltar
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UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 7 continued)

USS Europa

“Sons-of-bitches!” Juneau seethed as she staggered across the listing deck of the bridge to seat herself at the vacant Science console. “Romulan sons-of-bitches!”

The violent tumble slowed as Lightner finally gained control over the ship, using the impulse engines and thrusters in concert. The viewscreen centered on the battle they’d been thrown clear from, excited pulses of light and explosions blossoming in the absence of gravity.

“Ashok, get down to Engineering and get things under control. Shields and weapons are your priorities,” Juneau ordered. “We’re going back in there.”

Lightner turned around in his seat to look at her with undisguised disbelief. “Olivia, what the hell for?”

Ashok paused on the cusp of entering the turbolift, looking between the two officers as though wanting to add something. The moment of indecision passed, and he strode into the turbocar, bound for the engine room.

“They killed our people, Brett. That’s what for,” Juneau glowered, plugging away at her console.

Lightner righted the ship, but Europa maintained her position for the moment as the helmsman craned his neck to look over at the Ops board to his immediate right. “Four confirmed dead, eighteen reported injuries, and five more missing. That’s what the Ferou just cost us. Will we be attacking them, too?”

“The Romulans started this, Lieutenant. I aim to finish it.”

As he gestured to the Master Systems Display at the back of the bridge, Lightner pressed, “Look at all the red on the cutaway, Lieutenant. Most of the mains are offline, shields are barely holding, and we’ve no weapons. We’re in no shape to be jumping back into that fight.”

“That’s enough… sir!” barked Tiedermeyer from the back of the bridge. The Marine officer glared forward at Lightner, his expression unyielding. “The XO just gave us an order. Carry it out or I’ll remove you from the bridge.”

Lightner broke eye contact with Juneau just long enough to cast a scathing look Tiedermeyer’s way that fairly begged the Marine to just try it.

“New contact!” the Ops specialist interrupted. “Reading Federation transponder, Defiant-class. Gallant by registry, Lieutenant.”

“Yes,” Juneau confirmed, looking down at her own readings. “And they’ve just opened fire on the Romulans. Score one for the good guys.”

Lightner’s jaw set and he cursed quietly under his breath.

“I’ll take half-impulse now, if you please, Mister Lightner. That is, unless you’d like to leave Gallant in there all on her own?” Juneau said in a passably authoritative tone.

“Half-impulse, aye,” he answered grudgingly.

*****

Another chronometric pulse evaporated the shields of Tolovana, leaving the warbird helpless in the face of the smaller escort’s daunting weaponry. Masada’s pulse phasers stitched a seam of destruction down the length of Tolovana’s starboard wing as a photon torpedo plunged directly into the forward crew section near the vessel’s nose. Masada wavered and vanished under cloak as the compact ship dove to avoid a broadside of criss-crossing Ferou phaser beams.

The grievously wounded Tolovana was left to the tender mercies of enthusiastic Ferou gun crews. She lasted another thirteen seconds.

*****

Romulan Warbird Cinecaar

“Commander, we’re receiving word from Vexam that both Tolovana and Yowaen have been destroyed.” The report was delivered with admirable composure, given the shocking nature of the news.

Xerix turned back toward the holographic battle-map, his face tightening as he noted the pale orange icons denoting the last-known positions of the two vanquished warbirds.

The sensor officer raised his voice to be heard from the far side of the bridge. “We detected a brief appearance by a Starfleet gunship escort, Defiant-class. It looks to be equipped with a cloaking device, Commander.”

Xerix considered this unexpected development as he watched Cinecaar’s forward disruptors savage the dorsal structure of a Ferou civilian carrier whose shields had already surrendered to their torpedoes. The Ferou weapons fire had slackened once they’d realized they were doing more damage to themselves than their attackers, and although Xerix’s tactic of staying within their fleet had worked brilliantly, his squadron had just been reduced by a third in a matter of moments.

“They have opened fire on us,” Xerix announced, a passionate quaver to his voice. “Rihannsu blood has been spilled by the Federation, who add insult to injury by violating the Treaty of Algeron in the process.”

“Commander, the Ferou ships are spinning up their warp engines and extending their navigational deflectors forward.”

“Centurion, withdraw from their formation, best possible speed. Engage cloak and set an intercept course with Europa. The rite of vengeance beckons.”

*****
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