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Old April 30 2012, 10:33 AM   #1
Galen4
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Location: Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Forward:

Unknown events in the far reaches of our galaxy displace vast numbers of alien societies, pushing them inexorably in the direction of the Alpha Quadrant. As alien fleets mass towards Federation space, Starfleet launches Taskforce Vanguard to meet the impending threat.

In the meantime, some “refugee” vessels, traveling ahead of the migration pack, already begin arriving at the Federation’s doorstep.

Some may be benign newcomers, immigrants seeking a new home.

Others travelers may have a darker objective…




( "Refugee Crisis" Logo courtesy of CeJay)




Star Trek: Intrepid

Hydra’s Arrow


But if our hopes are betrayed, if we are forced to resist the invasion of our soil, and to defend our threatened homes, this duty, however hard it may be, will find us armed and resolved upon the greatest sacrifices.

-King Albert II




Day 1


The goliath appeared from nowhere.

One moment there had been relatively empty space containing quantum fluxuations, stray hydrogen atoms and background solar wash. Then, without warning, a vast object shimmered into view, blasting forward at nearly one quarter the speed of light.

Most space faring humanoids would have found the black and gray obelisk ecstatically displeasing. It had no banners or markings. There were no elegant hull extensions that might be equated to a bridge or engineering area. Even if any of those traits had been present, they would have been lost among the forest of towering spikes that covered the entirety of the hull. From a distance the spiny profile was reminiscent of an overgrown bacterium.

The intruder held its course relentlessly, bearing down on its target with the unfettered determination of a guided missile…



Starbase Virgo One
N’Skatiee System
September 2377



Commander Penny Ferris stumbled out of the turbolift and into Virgo One’s Operations room, nearly falling on her face in the process. Her ungracious arrival was accented by a flushed complexion, disheveled hair and a clumsy attempt at securing the upper turtleneck of her uniform’s undershirt.

Ferris was a human in her mid thirties whose features were cut from African, German and Italian cloth; a mixed lineage that gave her amber skin, raven hair and a square jaw. She possessed a beauty that was independent of makeup or attire and hearty enough to survive even the worst grooming habits. (A theory that was now being put to the test, since the red alert had interrupted an intimate encounter with Chief of Operations DeBrowskie.)

She tied her hair into a sloppy ponytail and almost collided with a crewman who was sprinting for his post. The young man staggered back from the near miss, did a double take upon seeing it was Virgo’s CO, and quickly gushed out an apology.

Ferris ignored him and made her way to V1’s command platform, her mind spinning through invasion scenarios that included everything from a Borg attack to a new Dominion War.

She found Lt. Polef just where she expected: bent over a transparent table nearly two meters long. Know as the Situation, Logistics and Intelligence Center, or “SLIC” the console equated to an Operations post on a starship.

“Status report!” Ferris demanded.

The portly Bolian was so immersed in the floating holographic displays and data screens before him; he didn’t bother to look up while responding. “An unidentified vessel just appeared near N’Skatia. Contact is on an inbound vector towards the planet’s southern hemisphere.”

“What the hell? How did they get past the outer markers?”

“Some type of cloaking technology.” Polef answered tightly. “They were on top of us before we knew what happened.” He used a meaty finger to indicate a wire frame graphic of the oblong ship. “She’s a beast----over five kilometers long and moving fast. At this speed, they’ll hit N’Skatia in just under eighteen minutes.”

Ferris cocked her head, appraising him suspiciously. “What do you mean ‘hit’ N’Skatia? Aren’t they on orbital approach?”

“Oh no, no, no, commander.” The fifty-nine year old Bolian was old for his rank, but only because he had allowed his career to unfurl slowly. His love affair with teaching had kept him behind a podium for fifteen years, where he tortured cadets with the minutia of hyper-dimensional algorithms.

As usual, he had fallen into “lecture hall mode” without thinking. “As you can see here, the intruder is on a twenty degree approach angle with no drop in speed. And with their mass, I don’t see how they can brake in time for a soft landing. I see this thing detonating on impact with the atmosphere,” He shook his head. “Either that, or it’s going to be a landing for the history books.”

She stiffened. “Hail them.”

“We have, ma’am. And we’ve sent friendly greetings in all known languages. They won’t talk to us.”

Her eyes traveled to the wall monitors. “Who are they?”

Someone shoved a PADD into Polef’s hand. His head bobbed over the contents as he answered. “We don’t know. Their profile doesn’t match anything in Federation records.”

Ferris compressed her lips anxiously. “Show me N’Skatia’s orbital defense grid.”

A holographic sphere hovered over the board, circled by a necklace of rubies. Without being told, Polef added a pulsing orange trail that ended below the planet’s equator.

“They’ll enter beyond the range of the defense platforms.” Polef said, spotlighting the obvious.

Like those floating relics would do more than scratch their hide anyway, Ferris thought caustically. It was bad enough that the N’Skatians had an outdated and barely functioning military; to make matters worse, they had insisted on a minimal Starfleet presence in their sector---all to satisfy what Ferris considered an extreme and misguided adherence to pacifism.

Of course, they could afford such indulgences. Because of its remote location, N’Skatia had been spared the horrors of the Dominion War. And being Federation members for only two years, they had missed, or remained blissfully unaware of other deadly threats in recent history.

She couldn’t help wondering if they were now in the process of reevaluating their belief system.

Polef brought her back to the moment. “Commander, Musketeers Three and Four just reported in. They have the intruder on sensors.” He drank in the new data window, his spirits elevating as he read through the transmission. “You won’t believe this, but they’re actually close enough for an intercept.”

“How long?”

He reviewed the transmission once more before responding. “Less than four minutes at full impulse.”


***


“Starbase Virgo One, this is Lieutenant Commander Hadad. We’ve matched speed with the intruder and have assumed bracketing positions just forward of the central axis. Do you copy?”

We copy, M-3. Hold station and stand by for orders.”

Ali Hadad was a fifty-two year old pilot with over five thousand star hours under his belt, some of which included sixteen combat sorties during the Dominion War. It took nothing short of an angry wife to rattle his nerves.

But this…

He goggled out his cockpit window at the forest of menacing quills. From a distance the invader had resembled a porcupine, but up close, each spike looked the size of a skyscraper.
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Last edited by Galen4; April 30 2012 at 11:04 AM.
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Old April 30 2012, 10:39 AM   #2
Galen4
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Location: Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

----CONT----

“God preserve us, it’s a flying mountain! Virgo, are you getting these returns?”

We’re receiving your telemetry, M-3. Begin recon.”

Hadad brought his ship in another five hundred meters, rolling the fighter to purchase a better view. “Virgo, I read no shields, but it has armor that’s scattering my interior probes. Negative on the metallurgy.”

We copy.”

Hadad craned his neck for another look before pulling back out to his previous distance. “Nothing to indicate torpedo doors.” He absorbed everything on his console with practiced ease. “No hot spots on my scope, reading no emitters or warheads. If they have an arsenal, it’s hidden behind that armor.” He let Virgo chew that over before continuing. “However, I can now see two engine ports that were previously hidden by the spiked extensions. They sit topside forward and forward ventral----might be something like an impulse drive.”

A younger voice of Ensign Jake Levvy came in from Musketeer Four. “Hey big dog, are you reading the same thing over there on the quantum dating?”

“Affirmative, Jake.” Hadad took another look at the mottled patchwork of dark hull plating and then thumbed his COM link again. “Virgo, our traveler is ancient. Most of the hull’s reading in excess of eight hundred years or more.” He paused. “We may be looking at a generational ship of some kind.”

For a while, there was just crackling over his helmet speaker. Then: “M-3, M-4, arm weapons and fire warning shots just off the intruder’s bow. Acknowledge.”

He acknowledged the inevitable order. His young partner followed suit a moment later, albeit with more zeal than Hadad would have liked.

They were trying to intimidate an elephant with spitballs, a gesture that would likely evoke laughter from the aliens----assuming they were even paying attention to them in the first place.

As Hadad cycled through the arming sequence on his panel, he wished again for the Peregrine class fighter he had flown during the war. The Peregrine’s heavier guns wouldn’t have changed the present equation, but if one was going to posture, he mused, better to use a slingshot instead of a peashooter.

To be fair, his current vehicle had its own charm. In contrast to the stocky Peregrines, the Musketeers were a sleek, aerodynamic triangle. Three retractable wings adorned the rear of the craft, with two smaller ones forward, the better to facilitate high-speed atmospheric maneuvers. The fighters also enjoyed longer flight duration, making them ideal for interplanetary reconnaissance and border patrol.

Now, if only we had a hundred of these babies instead of four, I would hasten to smile, he lamented silently.



Starbase Virgo One



The tempo in OPS had increased dramatically over the last ten minutes. The horseshoe bank of consoles that dominated the room’s second half was now fully staffed with eleven crewman instead of the usual six, and second watch had been activated early to man auxiliary workstations, if for no other reason than to regulate call volume. Every officer along N’Skatia’s political hierarchy it seemed was jamming subspace with demands for information or pleas for help.

The commotion of blaring COMM speakers coupled with overlapping crew chatter was compounded by two duty shifts occupying the same room at once. The Regula class station’s command area was cramped and becoming noisier by the second, which only helped to set Commander Ferris further on edge.

A breathless Lieutenant jogged over to Ferris, electing to sidestep the commotion by delivering his message in person. The young Asian man held a PADD from which a tinny voice was issuing. “Defense Tender Robar is demanding to speak with you, Commander.” He breathed.

She blew out an irritated sigh.

With the Royal Family off world and out of real-time communication range, the Defense Tender was the acting head of state. But on a planet with no real military to speak of, Robar was little more than an obdurate clerk who spent his time protesting Starfleet policies. And judging by the litany of hoarse bellows now erupting from the lieutenant’s PADD, his meager leadership skills were already overtaxed.

Ferris decided she had no time for handholding.

“Tell him to stand by!” She waived the lieutenant away, aborting his protest before it could be voiced. She whipped her focus back to the tactical display across the room from her, where the alien’s position and speed was being tracked.

Polef had just stopped his relentless orbit of the SLIC table and grimaced. “Musketeers have fired warning shots. No change in vessel’s course or speed.”

Her combadge chirped. “Commander, N’Skatia Ground Control is now tracking the intruder. Estimating planet fall in seven minutes.”

Ferris experienced a hellish moment in which her brain seemed to go off line. It was a mental choke, like the time she went blank during her oral test at the academy.

Pull it together! She raged at herself. Lives are at stake!

Her roaming eyes settled on the intruder’s schematic and all at once, inspiration struck.

She cleared her throat nervously. “Lieutenant Polef, have the Musketeers fire here, on the ship’s forward engine ports.” She pointed to the nose of the holographic shape that floated before her. “Maybe that will get their attention.”

Her XO gawked at her in naked disbelief. “Ma’am? We’re going to fire on them? But if they do have weapons----“

“I know the risk!” She barked. It came out louder than she intended, causing a nearby crewmember to eye her surreptitiously from his engineering post.

Polef stepped close, downshifting his volume. “Ma’am, respectfully…those forward engines are probably used for guidance and breaking control. Even if we take them out, we might end any chance of a controlled decent.”

She met his dubious stare with her own look of resolve----a feeling that only ran skin deep. “Let’s hope our visitors out there come to the same conclusion and veer off.”

“But…if we trigger some kind of chain reaction and that monster explodes----”

“A collision with N’Skatia will do the same thing! And if it’s going to explode, then better it happens outside the atmosphere!” Her smoldering glare was a clear warning to drop the subject.

Polef was all too aware that the clock was ticking, so he decided to swallow his remaining objections.

As Ferris watched him lean over and tap out her order, she struggled to exorcise a deep foreboding. She knew that if she lost this gamble, it would likely cost the lives of both pilots…with the added bonus of inciting an interstellar war.
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Old April 30 2012, 03:37 PM   #3
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

So much for another boring day at the office for Commander Ferris.

The fact that this monstrosity snuck up on them out of nowhere is bad enough, but the fact that its on course to collide with the planet makes it worse by orders of magnitude.

This is a fantastic opener, Galen, and I can't wait to see where you take it from here.
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Old April 30 2012, 09:33 PM   #4
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

It's about time we get some more Intrepid. You are nowhere near as prolific as I would like, considering how much I enjoy your work.

And this promises to be another humdinger. Really like the premise here but I'm even more impressed with what you are able to do with just a few lines with what I'm assuming are just minor characters.

In fact I hope that's not the case for Ferris. I like her for not being a prim and proper Starfleet CO who fraternizes with her crew in a manner most other commanding officers we come across would find questionable.

Either way, this is all spelling out disaster and I can't wait for Aubrey and Intrepid to show up to try and prevent it.
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Old April 30 2012, 09:57 PM   #5
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Agreed: not only am I loving the Operation Vanguard entries, but have missed my Intrepid "fixes" in a big way. Glad to see you joining the party. Very exciting beginning!
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Old May 1 2012, 06:54 PM   #6
Galen4
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Gibraltar and TM: thanks for the kind remarks. I think this will be a fun ride.

CeJay: Yeah, I wish I was more prolific too! My life has left very little writing time these days! But I always appreciate the warm welcome you extend.
this chapter is already done, so I'll be posting segments once every three days or so.
Thanks for commenting.
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Old May 1 2012, 09:14 PM   #7
Dnoth
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

This intro really kept me reading. You got me hooked.
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Old May 2 2012, 02:25 AM   #8
Galen4
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Dnoth wrote: View Post
This intro really kept me reading. You got me hooked.
Thanks! I'll have the next segment in a day or so.
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Old May 2 2012, 04:18 AM   #9
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Love the beginning, great sequences and I like the Musketeers too.

If you want hundreds of fighters though, call them Spartans.
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Old May 2 2012, 04:47 AM   #10
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

You jumped right into the thick of things with this intro - I like it! The inbound vessel is ominous enough just by its description but its collision course with a populated planet in mere minutes adds to the surreal sense of inevitability. Disaster seems imminent.

Can the meager Starfleet assets nudge the vessel to a different heading? Count me as a skeptic. Still, Commander Ferris is doing her best in a situation reminiscent of the Kobayashi Maru.

Wonder how she scored on that test?
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Old May 2 2012, 08:45 PM   #11
Galen4
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

BrotherBenny wrote: View Post
Love the beginning, great sequences and I like the Musketeers too.

If you want hundreds of fighters though, call them Spartans.
LOL.
Good point, BB.

TLR, thanks for the comments. Commander Ferris may or may not be vindicated, we'll see what happens.

More coming soon.
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Old May 5 2012, 10:26 PM   #12
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

A fantastic opener Galen. Very rich in atmosphere and little details such as the Musketeer fighter vessels etc. I liked reading that aspect and how it gave us a different sense of the situation - rather than relayed through an image on the viewscreen for the bridge staff we got the up close and way too personal view of a pilot in a small and so vulnerable fighter.

Quite a dilemma the captain is facing here. Her options are limited and she has to make a call that could cost them dearly. I'm sure it will be fine ... it's not as if this is written in the UT universe ... oh wait ... ok then - looks like this is going to go badly.
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Old May 8 2012, 11:09 AM   #13
Galen4
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UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

***


Ensign Jake Levvy was a twenty-one year old pilot whose biggest regret was graduating after the Dominion War. His second bone of contention was ending up in this backwater sector of Federation space, running escorts for a docile race while guarding a diminutive space station.

He brought his fighter into a gentle assent, weaving between the massive spires to align the nose with the center point of the yawning tunnel just ahead of him. At least, it looked like a yawning tunnel at close range. Each of the two engine vents had a diameter wide enough to house an Ambassador class starship. He tried not think about what the energy exhaust would do to him at this range should it suddenly fire up.

He armed his compliment of ten photon warheads, locked both phaser banks on target and waited. His heart was galloping, pumping just enough adrenaline to make him giddy.

Maybe Levvy couldn’t stop this mammoth, but he was happy to give it a swift kick in the ass as it went by.

He sneered defiantly. At least they can’t ignore us anymore!

The craggy, seasoned voice of Lt. Hadad sparked through his helmet. “Jake, prepare to fire on my mark. Remember, once you’ve unloaded, you take your skinny butt out of there. My little friend…do not embarrass me by getting killed Do you copy?”

Levvy smirked while toggling the COMM button that was built into his cockpit chair. “My skinny butt copies, sir. I have a firing solution. You got my escape vector?”

Affirmative. Don’t change your exit route unless you have to. We need to break off in opposite directions. Hopefully, that’ll make us harder targets.”



Starbase Virgo One



Musketeers have engaged.” Polef announced tersely.

A silent gap followed the Bolian’s initial statement. Ferris held her breath, and she fancied that the occupants of the control room were holding their collective breath with her. Personnel who didn’t monitor sensors looked expectantly to those who were. A timorous current circulated through the room, binding everyone to a moment in history that could become a turning point in the Federation’s future.

Eventually Polef began his characteristic muttering, eventually cycling up to a normal speaking voice. “Hmm…Ahh…scanning…hmm…ahem…alright then…okay…I have explosions within both engine canopies.” He finally harrumphed. “Unable to determine extent of damage.”

A flight control operator chimed in on the heels of Polef’s report. “Commander, our fighters are pulling away. They’re reporting no change in intruder’s course or speed.” Frustration weighted her voice. “No response whatsoever.”

Ferris and Polef exchanged a fleeting glance of relief. It was for them, a rare moment of camaraderie. At least they could take comfort in knowing that their provocative action hadn’t escalated the situation.

Ensign Levvy’s voice suddenly yelped over the speakers. “Virgo, Virgo, hostile has just launched a small object from their tail! Might be a torpedo…or uhh…”

Ferris struck the COMM access with a clenched a fist. “Evasive, Jake! And keep a sensor lock on that thing----“

“It just detonated! I repeat, object just----“ There was a sizzling blast of static.
Damn it! What IS that?”

Almost simultaneously, klaxons blared around the room, like the abrupt start of a chaotic symphony.

In her two and a half years as station commander, Ferris had never heard these particular alerts, and for good reason. They were tones reserved for only the gravest of threats.

On the large wall monitor, a pulsing red dot appeared, surrounded by layers of contracting rings.

“Reading gravimetric stress factors, one to the seventieth power and increasing!”

Someone spoke from behind her, uttering a single word with frightened reverence.

“Singularity!”


***


When Levvy realized the rim of the expanding gravity well had enveloped him, he was concerned at first, but not afraid. He knew that increasing thrust by thirty-four percent would overcome the attraction. It was enough to counter the singularity’s pull and still keep him moving forward.

But then, the gravimetric energy tripled. The Musketeer shuddered and slowed to a dead stop, as the opposing force overcame the engine’s output.

Uttering foul illocutions, he jammed the impulse engines into maximum burn.

The fighter yawed wildly, pushing desperately against the crushing tidal forces. For a time, there was a stalemate as the fighter remained in place, neither gaining ground nor losing it.

Eventually, Levvy’s computer decided to weigh in on the contest. “Warning: impulse reaction pressure has now surpassed safe operating limits. A lower actuation level is recommended.”

“Duly noted, now shut up.” He retorted under his breath.

Hadad broke in through Levvy’s helmet, sounding strident for the first time since the young pilot knew him. His voice sputtered in and out through the anomaly’s interference. “Jake, You cannot achieve escape velocity! Throttle back and come to heading----can use the gravity----slingsho---” The rest of his direction was strangled by a shrill buzzing.

Levvy thought about the singularity behind him and the ghastly death it represented. No way in hell was he going to “throttle back”.

A picture show flipped through his head; his graduation from the accelerated combat flight program at Starfleet Academy that had culminated in a roaring celebration. There was his mother’s surprise birthday party at his old home in Montreal. There was also his upcoming proposal to the shy but gorgeous Carrie Liptop.

Just ahead of him----and maddeningly out of reach----lay open space.

The fighter was thrashing against its invisible restraints like a caged animal. An urgent warning appeared on his canopy window, leaving red smears across his vision as it jiggled up and down with the ship:


CRITICAL STRESS



“Let me go!” Levvy hissed, feeling tendrils of panic coil through his gut.

Warning: outer hull stress is now exceeding design threshold.”

He watched in horror as the power indicators fell to dangerous levels. Given the G forces now in play, he would die instantly if either the structural integrity field or inertial dampers sank beyond the eighty percent mark.

A rumbling groan mixed into the cockpit alarms, followed by a very loud crack.

The power levels sank further. Levvy abandoned all composure, beating at his console with a gloved fist. A cry of terror rose in his throat…

And then, a miracle occurred.

The gravity released him, dialing down in strength before racing backward like a receding ocean tide. Still at full throttle, the fighter shot from the anomaly’s grip like an old fashioned bullet.

A toothy grin stretched over Levvy’s face, fueled by a euphoric sense of relief.

He called up the damage report, went through the checklist and only fully relaxed after noting all key systems were undamaged. His hands were shaking badly, but thankfully not enough hinder his flight control.

He set a course for the rendezvous point, taking steady breaths to scrub away his bout of panic. Panic. Yeah…well, he’d have to deal with that shame someday, but for now, his loss of control would remain between him, his ship and the vacuum outside.

The brash pilot considered his consolation prize. Well, at least I have a thrilling story to tell when I get home, he ruminated.

But unknown to Ensign Levvy, the protomatter that had created the singularity was continuing to destabilize, causing the gravity waves to oscillate in fierce, unpredictable surges. The next swell stretched further than any of its predecessors, while gravimetric intensity ratchet up to a dozen times its former level.

Irresistible force snapped the fighter backward even as its engines pushed it forward at maximum thrust. The shearing force that resulted went far and above anything its builders had designed it to withstand.

Levvy both heard and felt the wretched shriek of splitting metal.

“NO!” He bellowed. “Lemme go, LEMME GO, YOU SON OF A BITCH!”

Those words turned out to be his last. Moments later, he was screaming as the ship came apart around him.
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Old May 8 2012, 08:41 PM   #14
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Thus ends the brief Starfleet career of Ensign Levvy.

A very tense chapter with ominous overtones for the inhabitants of the planet and the Starfleet contingent on Virgo One. If that beastly ship can crank out singularities as weapons this encounter is not going to end well.

Speaking of Virgo One, don't keep us in stitches too long to see whether or not they survived.
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Old May 8 2012, 08:59 PM   #15
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Intrepid-"Hydra's Arrow"

Ooof! The alien ship has claimed its first fatality. Something that casually slings black holes about for weapons dare not be underestimated.

Somebody better get some backup out there to that small Starfleet outpost before everything goes completely sideways.
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