The next episode in the series Star Trek: Destiny. A reminder that the series is set on the eve of the 25th century. The following episode takes place in the year 2395. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = The excruciating sound of metal collapsing and the flames flaring in the aft of the runabout Superior, filled Letina Iyal with dread yet she knew that in the heat of battle she must remain composed. She heaved herself up from the floor of cockpit and looked around at the charred walls, the flickering bursts of sparks and flames and the mangled bulkhead to the rear of her workspace. Had an exploding EPS conduit not propelled her from her feet she would have been crushed by a heavy, collapsed metallic support beam. “Commander!” called the deep yet alarmed voice of the Chief Engineer over shrieking klaxons. “The ablative armour is jammed!” Letina Iyal stumbled towards her console, wiping blood from above her eye with her sleeve and demanded, “If you can’t give me armour then give me shields, Mr Nagata!” Lieutenant Ray Nagata ran his hands across his console at the front of the runabout and glanced over his shoulder at the executive officer. He responded, “I have diverted auxiliary power to the deflector shields but they are only functional at 12%.” “I only need a little more time,” assured Commander Iyal, studying the screens on her console. Tessa Shanthi was only half aware of the interaction between the engineer and the commander. Her focus was on the arduous task of piloting the runabout through a hail of enemy fire. A thick, scorching beam from the enemy disruptors lashed across the screen before the helmswoman. She slammed her hands onto her computer station, forcing the ship to jerk to the left, narrowly avoiding the blast from the deadly energy weapon. “Have you been able to restore the warp drive?” called Letina Iyal, clutching her console, bracing herself as the runabout jolted from side to side, evading the torpedoes and disruptors of the enemy. “The port nacelle is severely damaged,” reported Ray Nagata, his hands dancing across his computer station, entering commands and producing a glittering array of read-outs and data. “I am attempting to compensate.” Commander Letina Iyal contemplated the position of her team in her head. She processed the variables, pondered possible courses of action with a computer-like efficiency. The ablative armour was jammed, the shields had already failed once and were being sustained by auxiliary power, warp drive was equally precarious. One or two direct hits would blast the runabout Superior into thousands of deformed fragments, reduce the tough, sturdy ship to a drifting wreckage. A thunderous explosion rocked the runabout and snapped Letina Iyal out of her deliberations. She was thrown, face first into her console, smacking her nose against the touchpad in front of her. The ominous roaring of a plasma fire prompted the commander to snatch an extinguisher and spray the searing flames at the aft of the cockpit. “We have sustained a direct hit!” called Nagata from his station. “The shields are offline! The port nacelle is gone! The warp drive is…damn it, we have an imminent warp core breach!” Letina Iyal cast aside the extinguisher and staggered against the juddering of the runabout to the two forward computer stations. She clasped the seats of her officers to maintain her balance, studying the flashing read-outs on their stations. “I need to eject the warp core!” yelled Nagata over the klaxons and the flames. “Wait!” directed Iyal as she pointed to a display screen. “We still have aft and ventral phasers!” “You’re not suggesting we fight out way of this, are you?” exclaimed the engineer as he looked over his shoulder at his senior officer. “No but that warp core could help us stall them!” replied Letina Iyal, already returning to her station and tapping controls, setting to work. “Eject the core right in their faces and hit it with the phasers.” “Aye, sir,” acknowledged Nagata, smirking as he noted the logic in his commander’s plans. “Ms Shanthi,” called the first officer from her station. “Set a course for the second gas giant and take us into a low orbit! If we can lose them anywhere it’s in there!” “Yes, ma’am!” said the flight controller before returning her focus and attention to the task of evading the enemy. Letina Iyal studied the read-outs on her console as the warp core was ejected. Her screen showed her the trajectory of the warp core as it neared the pursuing warship. “Now, Mr Nagata!” barked Iyal. “Fire!” A sizzling beam of rectified phased energy blasted form the underside of the runabout and shot into the glowing, cylindrical warp core. The cascading emissions and energy erupted with a tremendous explosion against the deflector shields of the great warship. The gleaming barrier between the pursuing vessel and the exploding warp core, sparkled and shimmered as the warship slowed. The runabout swept to one side and soared towards a colossal orange, Class-J planet. “Report?” requested Letina Iyal, looking up from her controls. “We have delayed the warship but it is regaining speed and pursuing at increased velocity,” testified Ray Nagata, analysing his screens. “Damn!” cursed the Trill first officer, slamming her fist into her palm. “How long until we are within orbit of the gas giant?” Tessa Shanthi glanced to a flashing screen and briefly reported, “We will be in orbit of the planet in seventy seconds.” “The enemy warship will be upon us in fifty!” announced Ray Nagata, entering commands into his console. “I’m diverting resources to the impulse engines!” Letina Iyal swivelled around in her chair to address the engineer and commanded, “Take power from the phasers and even life support if you have to!” As the three officers laboured in the damaged, ruined cockpit, pounding their computer stations and glancing anxiously to display screens, the constant hum of the engines increased to a roar and still further to a shriek. Loose conduits, pipes and scraps of metal hanging from the roof rattled against one another. Sparks erupted as the intensity of the increasing velocity shattered already strained equipment. Finally, the image of black space, stars and a spherical planet in the windows of the cockpit was replaced with orange gas as the runabout descended into a low orbit of the Class-J planet. “We have assumed a low orbit,” reported Tessa Shanthi, looking through the windows in front of her at the expansive orange gas. “Navigational sensors are inoperative.” “Almost our entire sensor array is either inoperative or inhibited in these conditions,” stated Ray Nagata as he rose from his chair, intending to conduct repairs in the absence of enemy fire. “We just need to hope that their sensor capability is diminished as well.” The engineer picked up a discarded plasma extinguisher and hosed down the remaining flickering flames and sparks. He kicked scraps of metal aside with his foot and surveyed the damage before him. “We need to stabilize the ship,” stated Nagata as he set down the extinguisher, satisfied that the fires were under control. “If we can guarantee structural integrity and-” The engineer was cut off by a deafening blast. The runabout whirled through the gaseous atmosphere of the gigantic planet, the officers were thrown around inside the vessel as another console exploded. Sparks spurted through the cockpit as the officers regained their balance and pulled themselves towards their computer stations. “How did they find us so suddenly?” asked Commander Iyal, punching her dull, unresponsive and evidently damaged console. “The plasma leak from the port nacelle!” concluded Nagata as he stood over a screen. “They must be conducting some kind of disruptor sweep but the beam has been modified to induce a reaction with the residual plasma!” “Commander!” exclaimed Tessa Shanthi from the helm, pointing to the window. “Look!” All three officers turned to face the great window of the runabout. Their eyes grew wide as the orange gas appeared to shimmer and become distorted. A warped image was manifesting itself before the runabout and as it took form, the officers realized what was appearing before them. “A ship is uncloaking!” declared the helmswoman animatedly. The unmistakable form of a Praxis-class Bird-of-Prey appeared to be sweeping towards the runabout, the beak of the predator glowing brightly as a one deadly torpedo after another streaked through the gaseous atmosphere. The quantum torpedoes soared over the runabout and crashed into the pursuing warship. The Bird-of-Prey turned full circle in the atmosphere of the planet and approached the warship for another volley, launching torpedoes whilst protruding disruptor cannons blazed wildly. The hull of the ominous warship gave way as the blasts from the Klingon weapon systems penetrated the shields and thudded through the exterior of the craft. The warship erupted with an almighty surge of flames and exploded into hundreds of scalded fragments. “Short-range sensors show that the Klingon vessel has destroyed the enemy warship,” reported Tessa Shanthi, looking up from her controls. “I would concern yourself with this ship, lieutenant,” interjected Ray Nagata as he trudged from his computer station, through the strewn debris, towards the flickering Master Systems Display. “That last shot appears to have compromised our structural integrity. The micro fractures are too severe…a hull breach is imminent!” Letina Iyal rose from her seat and stood beside the Chief Engineer, studying the MSD for herself. “Commander,” called Shanthi from the helm. “The Klingons are hailing us.” “Attention Federation runabout!” came the voice of the Klingon commander. “This is the IKS Koloth. You are experiencing a hull breach. We are preparing to transport you directly to our Medical Bay!” Letina Iyal tapped a control, activating her side of the comm-link and announced, “This is Commander Iyal of the runabout Superior. To whom am I speaking?” “There will be time for pleasantries later, commander,” was her reply from the deep Klingon voice. “However, when you arrive, you will be introduced to Captain Worf.” The channel was broken as the three officers became shrouded in a bright, blinding light and were transported for the withering, crippled runabout and onto the Praxis-class Bird-of-Prey, the IKS Koloth.