Star Trek: First Duty #3 - "At Her Majesty's Discretion" (WIP)

An interesting culture in this Royal Navy, quite formal, even off duty. Obviously, it exists in this form for a reason, and must in some respects be beneficial to their performance. Nice to get an outsider's perspective on Leo.

Leo reached the quarterdeck after a brief trip down to his cabin, to don his combat uniform, with its sleek black and gray flexible body armor. Though, he forewent the uncomfortable helmet and carried his father's older phaser pistol in its holster. Other than that, he looked primed and ready for a boarding action with the marines.

"That's… quite a fashion statement," said Midshipman Ballard, sotto voce, to Lieutenant Castlereagh.

"Indeed," the lieutenant agreed in the same tone of voice. Louder, she smiled at Leo. "Ready for action, sir?"

"I am." He stepped forward and joined them at the plotting table. "I served a long time with the Border Dogs. This habit has served me very well when we would approach a confrontation. On Decker, I often joined our marines for hot boardings, and since then I've always found it best to be prepared."

Andry who also closed in on the group, rejoined with subtle disdain, "I sincerely doubt we would ask our guest officer to take part in carrying an action to board the enemy, sir."

The first lieutenant's cutting tone raised Leo's ire, but he kept a tight control on his reaction. Instead, he offered a bland smile and reminded him, "I'm your ally, sir. I would be a truly poor one to not take up arms to defend this ship."

Ballard looked Leo up and down and offered, "It's a very… ah, smart-looking uniform, Leo."

Castlereagh covered her mouth with a fake cough, then cleared her throat loudly as Leo answered.

He grinned. "Thank you, Gwen. I'm glad it still fits me."

"If you're quite finished, Commander," Andry spoke as Ballard opened her mouth to reply, "the enemy's distance dwindles quickly."

Leo smirked. "Call me Leo. It will be handy in a pinch."

Castlereagh coughed once more, her fist failing to hide the upturned corners of her mouth as she did so.

"Erm, yes, well," Andry stammered in response. "When that time comes, I will… remember that. For the moment, I prefer a certain level of formality on the quarterdeck."

Above them, from the railing of the poop deck, Captain Meyn called, "Leo, a moment?"

Leo pointed upward and winked at Andry. "Of course, Dame Stacy. On my way." He moved quickly to mount the aft deck via the ladder and presented himself to Meyn. Doctor Farrell sat on the port side of the deck, enjoying a spot of tea along with a tray of baked goods.

"I wanted to get a closer look at your uniform," she said pointedly, inclining her head down toward Andry. He had his back to them as he kept his focus on the plotting table.

He twirled around for Meyn's inspection. "It's standard-issue body armor for boarding parties. I brought this with me from Starbase Eight." Leo explained as he had below regarding boarding actions and why proper protection against energy weapons fire was critical.

"I see," she replied. "Well, since this will be our first combat together, I would appreciate it if you remain by my side, here, to offer counsel."

Leo chuckled. "Is this to keep me from being underfoot on the quarterdeck?"

Doctor Farrell giggled. "Astute observation, Leo."

Meyn frowned briefly at being discovered, but shrugged. "Surely both aims are congruent."

"Agreed," he noted. "Where should I stand?"

"The captain prefers the starboard side," Farrell explained quickly. "You're welcome to take a pew with me on the port side."

Meyn gestured with her hand to offer permission, and Leo did exactly as the doctor recommended.

"You're very well appointed here, Doctor," Leo said as he enjoyed the comfort of the plush bench.

Farrell poured a cup of tea for Leo. "One lump or two?"

"None, actually," he said. "The Royal Navy's choice to cook and serve real food and eschew all food replicators is threatening to throw my blood sugar into dangerous territory."

"Oh, tosh," the doctor dismissively waved at him. "We're about to come under fire. If the Kzin don't kill us all, your blood sugar's going to be the least of your concerns."

Leo gave her a non-committal shrug as he sipped his tea. When Farrell inclined her head toward Meyn's back, he turned and followed her eyes to see the six screens all fed the ship's status, from almost every system. He sipped once more and muttered, "That's really nice."

"Isn't it, though?"

"So contact with the enemy in roughly fifteen minutes?"

Farrell noted, "Once the flying bridge confirms identity, you'll see why Dame Stacy is one of our best fighting captains."

Wordlessly, Leo only nodded to the doctor with a grin. Until the expected call came down from the flying bridge, they discussed some of the finer points of tea leaves, to which the doctor had strong opinions about her native Greenwood blend of Earl Grey; a pot of which they were enjoying.

"So there's actual bergamot trees growing on the planet?" Leo asked with surprise in his tone.

"My three-times-great uncle brought seeds with him on the first colony ship, Hestia. He and his brother, my direct ancestor, worked the fields to cultivate the lands given to them by the Lord Howick," she explained. "So the blend of Earl Grey from Greenwood is fairly dear to our hearts. Even the Queen prefers that blend and drinks it often."

The mention of the Queen brought a smile to his face without conscious thought. "I see," he said. "I like Earl Grey, myself. You don't need to add anything to enjoy it." He saluted her with his cup. The shrill whistle of an incoming call sounded, and the captain pulled out an antique-style handset from its cradle.

"Understood. Out," stated Meyn tonelessly after listening to the speaker. "Contact confirmed: It's two Kzin raiders." She leaned over the rail and shouted, "Run out your guns! Stations for wearing ship!" The captain's verbal commands repeated by the two lieutenants on the quarterdeck and then again by the warrant officers within earshot.

The captain touched the intercom and ordered, "Signals, laser-link to the Commodore and inform him we have a Kzin incursion on Red Route Three. Send our current position, all our sensor data. Tell him I intend to engage the enemy." The immediate response preceded a closing of the circuit.

Leo listened to the way the ship communicated on the deck. He wondered how the word was passed to the lower decks of the frigate. "I watched gun drills last night, but I assume 'wearing ship' means they're going to change course?"

Farrell confirmed his assumption with a quick nod. "Because the majority of the ship's guns run along the broadsides, they're limited in a hundred degrees dorsal to ventral, some give fore and aft."

"I saw that. It's an interesting philosophy with respect to space warfare; something that Starfleet would never subscribe to. We like our weapons to have spread across as many arcs as possible," he explained. "Seeing a Constitution-class starship with all weapons firing is a sight to see."

The doctor defended the pride of her ship. "Well, Proteus is rather gorgeous when all twenty-two guns give the enemy a moments' hesitation."

He smiled. "Can't wait to see it."

"You're in the best seat," she said, gesturing to the transparent dome giving them a full 300-degree arc. The missing sixty came in the form of a tall and wide structure aft that the flying bridge sat atop, and below it, the ship's signals department.

Meyn checked the sensor readout from the flying bridge and then shouted in her best commanding voice, "Starboard guns, fire!"

Farrell pointed to the right side of the ship, calling Leo's attention. "Watch!"

Leo's eyes snapped to where she pointed and half of the ship's guns let fly with thick, green plasma beams. He felt the entire ship throb under the release of all that energy. "Holy-!" he gasped. The spectacle and the vibration combined to deliver an unforgettable experience.

He breathed, "That… is very different from being on the gun deck."

"Isn't it, though?" She sighed blissfully. "I consider it a rather valuable perquisite of being assigned to this ship, with that captain. No other woman has a greater love for her ship's guns than she does."

Leo nodded. "Becoming a fast fan, myself." His eyes still traced the lines of fire until they disappeared. "Did they hit?"

"Raked across her bow," reported Meyn quickly, her eyes on the sensor output screen. "They're turning! Bring us close-hauled on a port-side tack! Ready all guns!"

The ship suddenly turned over two-hundred degrees and Leo watched the captain's screen to stay oriented with the lateral movement. The Kzin pair moved off inside the ship's new heading with the port guns lining up for a perfect across the enemy's starboard side.

"Fire!" Meyn shouted.

He turned and saw the port guns release plasma at a distance shot far beyond his eye's sight. "Hell of a shot at that distance, without relying on guidance. Incredible marksmanship with those cannons."

"The crews work hard to be deadly. They know what's at stake."

"I should say so," Leo agreed, trying to watch for any sign of an impact. Once more, they disappeared into the black. "Amazing," he added with a disbelieving shake of his head.

"Bloody marvelous is more like it," Farrell said as she beamed with pride.

"Hit!" Meyn said with exuberance. "Hulled her, too! Well done!" She peered at the other screens and watched the angle. "Mister Andry, I need one more point to starboard, instanter!"

"Aye, aye, sir!" Andry's full-throated reply could be heard from over the railing. "Alter course, one point to starboard! Lively, now!"

When the maneuvering completed, Meyn called down, "Fire!" Within seconds, the port-side guns erupted with green fire once more. Within a minute, she cursed, "Blast, it's a miss! Give me one more point to starboard!" Then, she followed up with, "Belay that order, hold fast!"

Leo asked, "What's going on?"

"The other Kzin ship is moving inside the arc," Meyn replied as she kept her eyes on the readings. "Wear ship! Nine points to port, quickly now!"
Always trying to cross the T. Interesting translation of old style MoW tactics to space battle. I'm interested in how this plays with the additional dimension as those ocean going vessels were stuck to the surface.

Thanks!! rbs

So the notion is that the ship has 80% of its weapons on the broadsides, and they have full range of elevation up/down, but limited wiggle side-to-side. They have to rely on the ship's angle to target. This is also done almost entirely by reckoning, meaning there's no active sensor target lock. They can fire their weapons from distance like the artillery-minded cannons from the age of sail.

The lack of a targeting lock gives them a slight element of surprise. They've have to look for energy spikes. Since the weapons can fire time-on-target or in a spread fashion, they can rake their target easily. Point-blank firing is also fun.

The energy type of the Royal Navy weapons are Vulcan plasma-based.
Part Nine: The Commander Repels Boarders

NCC-2207 (USS Yukikaze)
Parking orbit around Sigma Serpentis IV (Greenwood)
Captain's Quarters
August 8, 2318 (Stardate 85.29)

The memories of the previous evening weighed heavily on the mind of Captain Robert Toland, commanding officer of the Matsumoto-class heavy cruiser USS Yukikaze. Accepting the invitation from the flag captain of the Royal Navy's Home Fleet to "dine him in" along with the other Starfleet task force captains, led to a lot of yarn-spinning and an even greater consumption of alcohol and food.

Toland recalled how Captain Dame Kumiko Ogata-McDonnell sat at the head of the large dining table in what they called the "great-cabins," situated at the aft-most compartment of HMS Indefatigable's quarterdeck. Dame Kumiko arranged for an impressive selection of alcoholic drinks; all proudly sourced from the colony world below. He avoided most of the hard stuff, settling on a cider with low alcoholic content to accompany the real hurdle of the evening.

The food.

The amazing, wonderful, delectable food!

Starfleet outfitted all of their vessels with food replicators, which led to a perfectly balanced meal no matter how rich or fatty it tasted. To have a prosperous colony such as Greenwood producing a full range of agricultural delights, and Indefatigable's galley team shaped them into a seven-course meal worthy of some of the finest restaurants on Earth.

"Oh, my…" he groaned to himself as he swung his legs out of his queen-sized mattress, go to his feet and entered the head. The discomfort of his midsection put him in a seated position of a near-fetal level. He briefly wondered if a trip to sickbay was in order, but then remembered that with his lofty rank came the privilege of having the chief medical officer make a housecall, instead.

"Doctor Senri, please report to my quarters," Toland ordered after keying open the intercom.


The Vulcan doctor relieved the acute abdominal distention within seconds of diagnosing the captain's condition. "Your gastrointestinal tract is the most complex system within your body, sir. After years of that system operating at peak efficiency because of the replicator's ability to produce balanced meals, switching to foods that have imbalanced nutrition along with other factors of consuming the colony's native offerings without adequate preparation-"

Tolan cut her off with a quick wave of his hand. "Thank you, Doctor. What preparation could I use to prevent a repeat occurrence?"

"My highest recommendation would be to consume small quantities in the future."

He nodded, "To give me proper time to get used to it. Sound advice."

Senri handed over a small bottle. "These are digestive aids. Take one, and only one, prior to any large meal sourced from the planet."

"Like another banquet? Good thinking." He accepted the bottle and nodded. "Thank you, again. And for coming so promptly."

"I'm here to serve," Senri replied, employing the typical Vulcan response. "Please contact me should you find yourself in similar distress in the future, Captain." She packed up her medical kit and made her way for the exit without waiting to be dismissed.

Toland smirked and promised her before the door slid closed behind her. "You'll be the first person I call." He shook his head and chuckled, then set about preparing for the day.

Following a quick use of the water shower, Toland ended his morning dress by donning his bomber jacket over his white turtleneck, the ship's intercom emitted a tone indicating an incoming call, before the voice of executive officer, Commander Jacqueline Chen.

"Bridge to Captain."

Toland touched the intercom panel. "Go ahead, Number One."

"Sir, we've got a one-alpha-zero on the emergency frequency. The sender code says it's Commander Verde over on HMS Proteus."

He knew Leo was sent there as an exchange officer of a sort, more like an observer, to offset the sheer number of Royal Navy officers sniffing around the task force. "Any word from the admiral?"

"Not yet, sir, but I got that feeling…"

After serving together for three years, Toland trusted the uncanny instincts of his XO. "Fair enough, yellow alert. Ready-five all aux craft. I'm on my way up."

"Aye, sir." With nothing further, the connection closed with a simple chirp, and Captain Toland set out to make the short walk to his bridge. By the time he stepped onto the uppermost deck, Chen was conversing with Rear Admiral Essa on the main viewscreen, in middle of a sentence.

"-ing you their last reported position in the system. I'm going to dispatch Surprise to accompany you," said the admiral. "Ah, Captain Toland."

"Admiral," Toland greeted with a quick nod. "Sir, do we know why they haven't already allowed us to actively patrol the system?"

Essa sighed. "Something I hope to hash out by the close of business today with the First Naval Lord."

"Thank you, sir. When do we leave?"

Commander Chen turned to respond before Essa could, "Immediate departure, sir."

"Indeed," confirmed Essa. "Captain, you're senior to Surprise's Captain Goldsberry. You'll command Task Unit One-Seven-Zero-One with a brevet to Fleet Captain."

All eyes on the bridge turned to acknowledge the promotion, albeit a temporary one. Toland kept hold of his blush response and signaled his understanding to the admiral with a quick, "Aye, sir."

"Off you go, then. Essa, out." The viewscreen blinked to show the emblem of the Task Force before returning to display the surrounding space around the ship. Chen took a moment to brief him on the discussion he missed before his arrival.

Toland placed his hands behind his back and ordered, "Red alert. We'll be flying straight into a combat zone, people. One of ours is in the thick of it and we're going to get his back. Clear?"

Everyone replied with zeal due the moment, "Aye, sir!"

He turned around and approached his seat. "Inform Captain Goldsberry to stay on our wing, then let's get this show on the road."

"Course laid in, sir."

"Surprise-One signals ready for departure."

The newly minted fleet captain stopped short of sitting down, opting to turn and command, "Helm, military speed. Put that pedal right through the floor."

"Warp fourteen standing by, sir."

He nodded. "Step on it."

Yukikaze and Surprise leapt into subspace, together. On the screen, the interfold layer crossover showed the tunnel-like distortion of stars as they went to Proteus' rescue.

"Seventeen-oh-one, eh?" remarked Chen with a grin. "Exceptionally good luck, isn't it, sir?"

Fleet Captain Toland took his seat and shot her a lopsided smile. "The best."
Oh, damn, Leo's in the thick of it! Here's hope the calvary isn't needed or arrives in plenty of time. I'm guessing the Kzin like to play with their prey...
I hope @McCovey Cove wont mind me posting this here, but I wanted to share something I was inspired to create while reading about Leo Verde's adventures.

Beside writing my own stories and epic tales, I occasionally get the odd urge to imagine out the 'sets', as it were for stories I'd read, so here is my interpretation (with a little creative license) of how the JAG Complex of Starbase Eight might look...


Any improvements or suggestions on tweaks/additions appreciated :)
...Beside writing my own stories and epic tales, I occasionally get the odd urge to imagine out the 'sets', as it were for stories I'd read, so here is my interpretation (with a little creative license) of how the JAG Complex of Starbase Eight might look... ....Any improvements or suggestions on tweaks/additions appreciated :)

Really nicely done and great detail - makes me wonder what software you are using. I'm also wondering where the non-comms go to pee. I'm guessing that's on the other side of door 7? Thanks!! rbs
Not at all! :) This is outstanding work! Also pretty close to what I had in mind. If you want to keep going, I won't stop you ;)

This is great to have for future stories, too!

Very happy to have your official 'thumbs up'! I could add on the private mess/head area, and was also thinking it might be cool to attempt a courtroom set, combining the aesthetics of "Court Martial" and "The Measure of a Man" into something...

Now, back to your regularly scheduled broadcast ;)
@Orbing Master Did you draw those blueprints

In a loose sense, yeah. I drew inspiration from the work of Cmdr. T. Weimann, whose work was originally found on LCARS-Interface (a German site), but I don't think it exists anymore. However, they have a large selection available here at Cygnus-X1.

My artistic skills are basic at best - I use GIMP primarily, and usually do it as a 'as-and-when' hobby, if the mood takes me. This particular image, though, I tried a lot of new things and additions, and am very proud of and hope @McCovey Cove realises that my being so inspired by his writing and seeing the vision of the room in my head so clearly is a testament to his work :D
My artistic skills are basic at best - I use GIMP primarily, and usually do it as a 'as-and-when' hobby, if the mood takes me. This particular image, though, I tried a lot of new things and additions, and am very proud of and hope @McCovey Cove realises that my being so inspired by his writing and seeing the vision of the room in my head so clearly is a testament to his work :D

I beg to differ! If all you're using is GIMP, that's damn fine work. Also, that's a hell of a high compliment! Thank you again!
As I am officially back from BayCon (last weekend's amazing convention), I'll be posting the remainder of what I've got soon. Enjoy!



Leo ignored the irritation of the blood droplets on his cheek as he put pressure on Lieutenant Andry's shoulder wound. Doctor Farrell worked quickly to stabilize him before she could move him to sickbay. "Hang on, Lieutenant…"

The only response he received was a growl of discomfort from the lieutenant, but it meant he was still kicking.

Shortly after the second enemy ship rose above the reachable angle of Proteus' cannons, before they could maneuver the ship in a roll, the distance closed too quickly. The enemy unleashed a point-blank attack a common Kzinti tactic. Swooping down, the enemy raked the frigate, aiming for the quarterdeck dome, fortunately shot wide and hit the forecastle. The firepower devastated their limited defenses, and poor Andry had not yet secured himself.

The resulting fluctuation in the ship's gravity field threw the poor man across the deck. The sharp corner of the railing impacted his right shoulder and tore the skin from his shoulder down to this spine.

Captain Meyn continued the action as the doctor and Leo worked together. She barked maneuvering orders and her cannons kept firing, but their accuracy suffered when the Kzin began using jogging tactics to prevent a direct hit. Now, they were only managing glancing blows against their shields.

The damage reports piled on quickly after.

"That's got it!" Farrell determined loudly. "Can you carry him, Leo?"

Saying nothing, he reached down and picked up Andry to position him in a fireman's carry. "Lead on, Doctor."

He heard Andry mutter, "This is quite embarrassing…" as they traversed down the ladderway to the main deck and entered the modest sickbay, on the port-aft quarter.

Leo gently laid the man down on the nearest bed and noticed that a lot of the equipment was not native to Greenwood. "This is a Vulcan biobed," he thought out loud.

"The Vulcans contacted us before the Federation even existed," Andry said through grunts and moans. When the doctor applied a painkiller to ease things, he finally relaxed and smiled. "Oh… thank you, Doctor."

Proteus shuddered violently, and then a shipwide whistle sounded off. A tune Leo did not recognize and said so.

Farrell did. "That's 'away boarders.' The Kzin are carrying the action. They mean to take us for a prize."

Leo's hand when to his phaser. He checked the safety, the power, and the setting, and held it with the muzzle pointed down at the deck. "Will the marines hold them off?"

Andry smiled pleasantly. "Depends on how many Kzin board. The marine detachment is two platoons under the command of a lieutenant. A Kzin raider holds many, many more." Despite the danger, the lieutenant showed no signs of fear or alarm. In fact, he looked at Leo with a dopey grin, reached up to pat his shoulder and informed, "You're really a decent bloke, Leo, you know that?"

"Uh… what did you give him?" Leo wondered of the doctor.

"Something to keep him calm and still so I can work." Farrell said as she ran a medical device over Andry's wound. She called to the man hovering nearby. "Stiles, prepare the surgery for the First Leftenant. Multiple percussive injuries and internal bleeding."

"Right. Come along, sir," said the massive Stiles has he carried Andry to another compartment further inside the sickbay.

Farrell gathered multiple items out of a bag, as the sounds of clashing outside the sickbay carried loudly. Rallying commands mixed with cries of anguish joined soon after. Leo moved to the entrance and took a peek at the chaos outside. More marines and sailors lay on the ground than Kzin.

"I'm going to help with the defense," he told Farrell. He started toward the exit, phaser at the ready.

The doctor strode to the surgery and told the retreating commander, "Head on a swivel, Leo. Luck."

Peeking around the door's opening, Leo nodded back. "You, too, Doc." Then, he disappeared beyond her sight, headed down the corridor.


Three pistols pointed at the entry to the flying bridge when they heard someone enter. Recognizing their visitor, Midshipman Ballard gasped, "Leo!" just as he stepped in from the corridor. The two rated petty officers behind her drew their weapons on him as he entered without announcing himself.

Leo lowered the muzzle of his phaser toward the deck and apologized, "Sorry to startle you… just checking in before I head over to Signals."

She lowered her pistol and nodded. "All right, here. What of the rest of the ship?"

"There's fighting on the main deck, I would also guess down on the orlop," he reported as he advanced on the large screens showing the local space. "Any other incoming ships?"

"Negative," Ballard said, her face flushed with anxiety. She approached him from the rear and gazed at the screens with Leo.

Leo turned partway to her and noticed her expression. He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "You good here?"

She nodded, saying nothing… perhaps not trusting her voice at the moment.

"You got this, Gwen," he promised her.

Unconvinced, she replied with a weak smile. "I hope so."

Leo removed his hand and checked his phaser's setting. He grinned and nodded. "I have to get over to signals. Dame Stacy wants me to make a quick call before I head back down."

Gwen Ballard steeled herself, then replied respectfully, "Then, off you go, Leo."

He paused at the exit and peeked around the frame. Glancing back toward her, he said, "If I can, I'll check in on you later. Stay safe." Leo did not wait for a response. Instead, he crossed over the short corridor to the signals room and fired off a distress call toward Greenwood, where he knew Essa and the rest of the task force would hear him. He encapsulated the message with his personal access code, knowing that she would dispatch help, post-haste.

His feet moved quickly down the long ladder back to the main deck. As he drew closer, energy and projectile weapons' fire, along with the clattering of metal striking metal, resounded through the corridors. Hand-to-hand combat erupted depending on the close quarters of the enemy.

As Leo approached the ladder leading to the quarterdeck, activity beyond beckoned him to continue forward, instead, and take cover while eyeing the more open areas of the main deck. He brought his phaser up and fired, stunning two of the Kzin before they could strike the death blow on sailors laying prone on the deck. Luckily, those two appeared to be the only intruders within his view.

He turned back to return to the ladder, and a marine non-commissioned officer wearing the customary black and green tunic turned the corner, surprising both of them.

Instinctively, she drew her cutlass back for a preemptive attack, but checked in time once she recognized the man. In her other hand was a standard-issue projectile pistol, now pointed up at the overhead instead of at him.

With his free hand, Leo raised it up to block her if she followed through with her action. "Rellie, It's me," he said, startled. He cleared his throat and regained his composure. "What's the situation?"

"They're everywhere, sir. They teleported in to multiple sections," said Staff Sergeant Durelle "Rellie" Kurlinski. Her head swiveled quickly, her eyes shifting left and right to ensure while exchanging information, she could respond to a sudden attack.

"I've just come from signals-" Leo started, then stopped. With a determined expression on his face, he leveled his phaser, and fired at a target behind the sergeant, hitting a Kzin square in the chest.

At nearly the same instant, Kurlinski raised her pistol, and fired a projectile behind Leo. The Kzin behind him caught the shot through the left eye as soon as they turned the corner.

With the exchange completed, both scanned either end of the corridor to check for more enemies before relaxing only slightly. A shared glance between the two led to a moment of mutual appreciation. They simultaneously said to each other, "Nice shot."

"Where are you heading, sir?" asked Kurlinski.

"Quarterdeck. You?"

"There's a fight just outside the reactor room. Stern of the orlop," she said quickly.

Leo nodded. "Don't let me delay you. Good luck."

"You, too, sir," she said before sprinting down the ladder to the deck below.

He ascended the ladder and heard energy weapons being fired in rapid succession. He crept up softly to see if he might spy the situation without exposing himself. Leo saw a group of Kzin bunched at the alcove leading out to the deck, prevented from progressing onto the quarterdeck by a makeshift barricade of furniture. The four of them were angling for better shots at the Proteuses on the deck who were firing back when they saw a tuft of fur or better.

Leo ducked out of sight, reset his phaser for wide-angle stun at the maximum power setting, then peeked to see if he was clear to fire. Once all four were fully occupied, he fired his pistol. Four stunned Kzin lay on the deck.

"Who's there?" called Lieutenant Euphemie Castlereagh, seeing Leo's jet black hair through the thin openings of the barricade.

"It's Leo, Euphie!" he called back. "I've handled the Kzin group. The rest of them are down on the orlop, for now. Can I come in?" He turned around to cover his rear while the quarterdeck gang pulled apart the benches and other equipment used to stall the Kzin.

Castlereagh approached Leo with a wide grin. "Thank the Lord for you, Leo."

Resetting the safety on his phaser, he pointed at the heap of Kzin near his feet. "They're only stunned, so if you have the means to take prisoners-"

The lieutenant executed the unconscious beings without hesitation; four headshots, with no aiming necessary due to the point-blank range.

Leo looked away, closing his eyes at the same time. "All right…" he said with sigh. "I supposed you don't have the means to take prisoners."

She shook her head. "Not presently. And I'm not going to wait around for them to wake up and become a threat."

"Status of the captain?" he asked quickly.

Castlereagh approached the plotting table and gestured for Leo to join her. "I'm afraid she's sustained some wounds when the Kzin overpowered the marine sentries. They took her to the great-cabin, and sent for Doctor Farrell."

Leo frowned and took up the position across from her. "Who has command?"

"I do," she said, her fatigue clear in her tone. Leo knew that Ballard held watch in the flying bridge, Reyes in the Signals room.

"Do you need another hand?" he offered, re-holstering his pistol and setting his hands on the edge of the table.

She appraised him in a new light. "If you're game, then I am."

Leo caught her gaze with his own and said, "How can I help?"
Nice, tightly written little battle sequence. Great action, easy to follow, and bally-on the dopey Andrey... There are some missing commas and a few odd words that evidently got garbled by the auto-correct, so a quick proofing pass would be a worthwhile investment.

Thanks!! rbs
Nice, tightly written little battle sequence. Great action, easy to follow, and bally-on the dopey Andrey... There are some missing commas and a few odd words that evidently got garbled by the auto-correct, so a quick proofing pass would be a worthwhile investment.

Ah, thanks :) Yeah, this is a "draft zero" so there's definitely going to be a lot of mistakes in spelling and grammar. I will go through with a checker before it gets posted to Ad Astra (the final draft).

Thanks, RBS, for your continued support and readership. I greatly appreciate it!
A tense series of engagements with a particularly savage foe. The Greenwood natives are stalwart professionals, to be sure, but they're taking a beating in this battle. Leo's holding his own, thanks to his training and the Family Phaser™, but things look grim.
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