Star Trek: Four Years War - Renown

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Star Trek: Four Years War
    U.S.S. Renown
    1.4 - A Call To Arms
    Brydon J Sinclair


    Chapter One


    Mess Hall, U.S.S. Renown
    Orbital Dry-Dock, Drakonis IV

    Naya sat in the ships large canteen enjoying a light lunch, listening to the hustle, bustle and chatter around her. Though she had her own private dining room, she didn’t like using it if she was just on her own. On the table beside her Spanish omelette was the datapad that she always seemed to carry about with her, it listed all that needed to be done from battle drills to setting up breakfasts with her senior officers, so she could get to know them all a little better as individuals—it was something she had started on the Ptolemy when she took command and was determined to keep going on the Renown as well. It also kept her calendar in order, updated frequently by the administrative yeomen, at the top of which was fourteen-hundred hours when Lieutenant Commander Vogel was due to arrive—giving her eighty minutes to prepare to meet her new security chief.

    She had just finished reading up on the report from Lieutenant K’Bentayr, regarding the ships upgraded phasers. The work had finished on time and all diagnostics showed that they were fully-functional—of course they would need the field test them to make sure, she just hoped that those tests wouldn’t be in battle with Klingon forces.

    A loud ruckus of laughter called her attention to a corner in the table. The three occupants, all human and in blue uniforms, quickly quietened down as they noticed the attention they were getting, though still giggled and chucked amongst themselves. It was a reminder to her that most of this crew were tried and tested together, having spent anything from five months to eight years together. That time built up a strong camaraderie, one that she had enjoyed back on the old tug, but which she was noticeably left out of on the cruiser. Not surprising, seeing as how she had only been its captain for three days, was an unknown element and had brought in almost ninety new crewmembers—some of whom in senior positions above those who’d been next in line.

    It would take time for the new and old crew to mesh, more than they had with the war creeping closer by the hour. She knew that there was some uncertainty among the crew about herself, though they had all heard what she’d done at Tighe system they still weren’t sure of how she’d cope with proper head-to-head full-scale battle. She had to wonder as well.

    She shook the creeping sense of self-doubt from her mind and finished off her meal, scribbling down a few notes on her tablet to rise with the ship’s personnel and protocol officer—who she was meeting with at sixteen-hundred. Taking a moment to think, she looked up from the PADD just in time to see Commander Shanthi enter. His face was impassive—which she had quickly learnt was his default setting—though it was his eyes that gave him away. Though she had only really met him less than a day ago, he had old eyes that didn’t hide what he was really thinking—at least not to her. Before he even got to her, she knew what he was coming to say.

    He came to a stop at her table, a hollow smile on his face, which was an act not to alarm the rest of the crew. She suddenly wished she’d chosen to have lunch in her private dining room.

    “When?” she asked softly, trying hard not to let her anxiety show.

    “They entered the sector ten minutes ago,” he told her, his voice so low that she could barely hear it. “Admiral Chang will be making an announcement in the next five minutes.”

    “How long until they reach the system?”

    “As little as fifty hours.”

    She rose to her feet, picked up her PADD and headed for the exit, Shanthi beside her, whilst the tray forgotten was about on the table. Making a conscious decision not to rush, she didn’t want to put the crew on edge just yet, not until it was made official. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait for the turbolift and rode it to the top of the saucer. The silence between them was oppressive, cutting off the air in the small carriage.

    This was it. Any chance they had to prepare was over.

    The lift came to a stop and she took a deep breath before the doors opened. Stepping out she surveyed the bridge, which was quiet. Lieutenant Thor sat at the communications station, which was between the two turbolifts along the aft bulkhead, listening intently to his earpiece. Six other consoles encircled the outer bulkhead: science, navigation subsystems, and auxiliary systems on the port side; command intelligence, engineering and environmental systems on starboard. Her chair was in the middle, whilst in front of her were three freestanding consoles, for navigation on port, helm in the middle, and tactical on starboard. Munro and Robbins were seated at the customary positions, Farog was settling in at his post, auxiliary and environmental were also occupied, though the rest were without operators.

    Shanthi moved over to his console and set to work silently. She hung back, near the turbolift and communications, trying to calm her thundering heart. Thor glanced up at her, his brow furrowed, antennae twitching.

    Before he could ask a light flashed on his board. He tapped a control, silencing the steady stream up update chatter he was getting from various sections of the ship, then brought up the new signal. He saw where it was coming from and then gave her a knowing look.

    “Captain, incoming secure transmission from Vice Admiral Chang,” he announced, keeping his vone steady.

    She nodded. “On screen, Mr Thor.”

    Stepping forward, she stood by her chair, raising her chin slightly as she watched the viewscreen come to life. The Starfleet Command emblem appeared, then was replaced with the tired face of the Sector Commander.

    “All ships in the Drakonis sector, this is Vice Admiral Chang. Minutes ago, the Klingon Imperial Navy entered the sector. Their course is set for Drakonis four,” the Admiral paused, letting the news sink in. Naya noticed that all of the bridge crew had stopped what they were doing and were keenly listening—they all knew they were about to receive their new orders.

    “Our priority is to ensure the safe evacuation of the New Tokyo colony. As such, all forces in the sector will be fighting delaying tactics, to give the civilians as much time as possible to evacuate the planet and withdraw to the relative safety of Starbase Eight. We will achieve this in a two prong attack, utilising Destroyer Groups Four and Five.”

    The Admiral’s visage was replaced with a chart of the sector. The Drakonis system was highlighted in blue, there was a large red arrow on the edge of the star chart with the Klingon symbol next to it. Seeing just how little space was between them and the colony was worrying.

    Chang continued, voicing over the display. “Destroyer Group Four is located here,” a smaller blue symbol appeared, “which we are dubbing, Position Alpha. The starships Lionheart, Othello, Potomac, and Zhukov, you are to set course for Position Alpha at maximum warp. You will be engaging the Klingons head on.”

    A second smaller blue symbol appeared. “Destroyer Group Five are here, at Position Bravo. The Grav, Sheyn and Ticonderoga, are to join them. You will launch a pincer move to try and cut them off from their support, which we hope will slow them down. Diana, you will take up position in the J’aha Nebula to monitor Klingon movements and act as a relay to all other outposts in the region. Departure is in thirty minutes.”

    Naya scowled at their absence. She looked over at Shanthi who also looked a little perplexed. A few of the bridge crew looked among themselves, all sharing the same question.

    Renown, you are to remain at Drakonis and act as escort once the civilian convoy is ready to depart. You will be supported by the 18th Fighter Wing.”

    The star chart was replaced with Chang again. “Good luck to you all. Chang out.” The screen reverted to the Command emblem, before Thor deactivated it once again.

    There was silence on the bridge. She sensed the mixture of emotions the crew were going through: confusion, annoyance, relief, anger. Some would’ve been champing at the bit to get into the fight; others wanted to stay away from the fighting for another day.

    Munro broke the silence. “What the hell?”

    “Lieutenant,” Shanthi intoned, a pitch to his tone not to finish his train of thought.

    Naya, numb and a little disappointed, turned to communications. “Address intercraft, Mr Thor.”

    “Aye sir.” He tapped in the command and the boatswain’s whistle followed.

    “All hands, this is the Captain. The Klingons have entered the Drakonis sector and will reach New Tokyo as early as two days time. We have been tasked with escorting the evacuation convoy to Starbase Eight. This will give us another day to ensure all works are completed and systems checked. Further updates will be posted as and when they become available. Naya out.”

    She paused a moment and looked across at Shanthi, who was now standing, the muscles in his jaw flexing. Part of her knew the outrage Munro had expressed, as that part wanted to scream, but she clamped down on it. They had been given their orders and had an important duty to see to—if only it felt that way.

    “Commander, assemble the senior staff for a full briefing at fifteen-hundred hours.”

    “Aye Captain.”

    With as much poise as she could muster, she stepped back into the turbolift and ordered it to deck four and her quarters.

    * * * * *​

    Captain’s personal log, stardate 2242.323.

    After getting our new orders through, there is a general feeling of resentment among the crew, one that I can understand and, if I’m being honest, share. I have always believed that Starfleet was accepting of all Federation members equally, this doesn’t feel as though that is true. I know no flag officer would blatantly state it, but when I raised the matter with Admiral Chang, he gave me a shortlist of excuses, including the fact that I have only recently been promoted to Captain, and that my previous command was a non-combat ship.

    If know that there are some onboard who have doubts about me, which I aim to alleviate. But if we are to be stuck on escort and support duties for the entirety of this war, then there is no way I can gain the acceptance and trust on this crew. I know that the safety of the civilian population is of great importance, but so is defeating the Klingons.

    This log entry may not be the place to vent, but it wouldn’t be right for me to burden anyone else with my personal frustrations—not that there is really anyone onboard I would feel comfortable discussing this matter with.

    * * * * *​

    Gymnasium, U.S.S. Renown
    Orbital Dry-Dock, Drakonis IV

    Munro was fuming. From his seat on the bridge, he had watched eight starships warp out of the system to engage the Klingons head-on, whilst they were being left behind to babysit. Since then his jaw had been tightly clenched and he’d had to stop himself from grinding his teeth in anger. Since his outburst, the new XO had watched him like a hawk, so he’d had the good sense not to say anything more.

    In the meeting that had followed, he hadn’t said a word, other than a formal greeting to their new security chief—who looked as annoyed as he felt when told of their orders. The atmosphere had been tense, no one wanting to call attention to the elephant in the room as they discussed the logistics of escort duty. At one point, as Thor was going through the necessary communications protocols they would need, Munro glanced at Naya and noticed something he hadn’t expected. She was irritated. It was nothing to do with Thor though, she seemed to be as ticked off as many of the others on the crew.

    A Deltan looking to fight? What’s up with that? He asked himself over and over again as he pounded the stuffing out of the punching bag. An award-winning kick boxer even before he entered the Academy, he found that it was the best way to work out his frustration and anger, which was just what he needed today—though he would’ve preferred an opponent who fought back. Unfortunately, he had proven to be a little too good for most of the crew on the Renown who all knew better than to take him up on an offer to spar—so if he wanted to fight someone he had to seek out competition from another ship or station.

    Sweat was already running down his face, matting his blonde hair and dripping onto the mat. He’d been hard at it for almost an hour, to the point where he was out of breath, his muscles were tired and his fists and feet hurt. Delivering one last roundhouse kick, he bent over and placed his hands on his knees as he tried to get his breathe back. Others in the gym had left the towering helmsman alone, knowing that when he was like this it was best to just let him work it out of his system.

    “Good form,” said a deep voice.

    He craned his neck up to see Commander Shanthi standing there, wearing sweats and a vest with the emblem of the Academy marathon team on them.

    “Thank you, sir,” he said between breathes.

    “Don’t mention it.”

    As Shanthi started to stretch out, Munro questioned whether to keep at the bag or to go shower and hit the mess. He doubted that he would get much more out of his practice that evening, more than likely he’d pull something if he didn’t ease up. A growl of his stomach made up his mind. He headed over to the bench and picked up his water bottle. After taking a deep gulp, he grabbed the towel and started to pat the sweat off his face, neck and bare arms.

    As he stood at the side of the mat, winding down, he’d turned his back on the new XO. So when the older man spoke up again it took him a moment to realise Shanthi was addressing him.

    “I get it.”

    Munro glanced back at him, though the first officer was still stretching and didn’t seem to be addressing anyone. “Sir?”

    “You’re pissed. I get it.” He stopped stretching and turned to face the helmsman. “Everyone feels it to some degree. Some of us have seen action, but most of the crew haven’t, you’ve been cooling your heels here until Starfleet assigned you a new CO. Only now you have one that they don’t seem to have much faith in—feelings no doubt shared by a number of people onboard,” his inflictions and tone made it clear that he knew Munro was in that camp.

    “Then we’re given an assignment more suited to an older or smaller ship, whilst everyone else heads off to fight. I assure you, Lieutenant, before this war is over, you will have seen more action than you ever wanted. But look at this from the Captain’s perspective. She went from Commander of a tug, who pulled a damned reckless manoeuvre, to Captain of a cruiser, under a command structure that is wary of her abilities and a crew that doubt her. Would you want to be in that position?”

    “No sir,” he replied without much thought. “But—” he quickly bit his tongue.

    “Speak freely, Mr Munro.”

    “I mean no disrespect, but aside from the five crewmembers who came over from the Ptolemy, none of the crew knows her or what she’s capable of. Only a handful onboard has ever served with a Deltan—and never during a situation like this. All we can go on is what we know of them as a whole—which doesn’t bode well given the state of things right now.”

    Shanthi smiled softly. “You could always judge her on her. Have you spoken with Lieutenant Okoga, Ensign Valderama or any of the rest of her former crew?”

    “No sir,” he admitted.

    “I’d suggest that you find out more about her, before you make any decisions on who she is and what she can do. There are over thirty-thousand people out there who owe her their lives. Remember that.”

    With his piece said, Shanthi bowed his head slightly and headed over to the running machines, leaving Munro with something to mull over.

    * * * * *​
     
  2. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Shanthi is proving to be a solid First Officer. He's able to understand a junior officer's misgivings without coming across judgmental, yet he stands up for his C.O. Very admirable. I can see him with his own command before long.

    Prejudice is still an issue, even in the 23rd century. Deltans have a reputation as peace-loving people, but Naya has already shown that she's not afraid to battle the Klingons with whatever resources are on hand. I'm not sure what else she can do to prove herself.

    Having said that, the crew's frustration is admirable. Shanthi is right, it's hard to understand why a cruiser is tasked to escort duty, but orders are orders. No doubt, Renown will have her day soon enough.

    Great character work - you're developing the crew nicely and their various personalities are showing through.
     
  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Very good character work. I like the fact that you are addressing prejudice. And as for the Renown crew wanting to fight it's probably a be careful what you wish for situation.
     
  4. Dulak

    Dulak Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Quick intro to the characters without tons of exposition. I also liked the teaser of the upcoming battle and the "let down" at finding their support role.

    Something tells me they are not going to be "In the rear with the gear" for long.
     
  5. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Chapter Two


    Executive Officer’s log, Stardate 2242.324.

    We have just heard from Positions Alpha and Bravo, they have engaged the Klingons. Unfortunately, the forces heading for New Tokyo are far greater than previously thought. It is likely they won’t be able to delay the Klingons for as long as previously hoped. This means they will reach the Drakonis system in a little over twenty-four hours.

    We have sufficient evac ships to get the entire civilian population off Drakonis four, but won’t be able to take the Starfleet personnel assigned there. The evacuation is on schedule and the convoy is set to depart in a few hours.

    * * * * *​

    Senior Officer Quarters, U.S.S. Renown
    Standard Orbit, Drakonis IV

    Lieutenant JG Robbins stood at the small viewport her quarters afforded her, looking out at the flotilla that seemed to expand every few minutes. The collection of evacuation ships included Ptolemy-Class tugs carrying transport pods, Sirius-Class transports, a handful of privately-owned runabouts, and even an old Daedalus-Class ship—whose best days were fifty years behind it. The Armstrong-Class Renown was by far the newest and largest ship left in the system.

    Since their orders had come through, she had been working to piece together the best flight plan to take them to Starbase 8, as well as the most defensible formation to fly, and looking out for any navigational hazards that might affect the convoy. With so many ships of different sizes and ages, it was hard going as something that wouldn’t even make a teacup shake on the Renown could collapse the warp field of one of the runabouts. They were also only as fast as their slowest ship, which meant they were restricted to warp fact four—so the most efficient course was essential.

    In just under two hours, she would see if all her hard work had paid off. All the while, she counted down how long before the Klingons reached the system and those still on the planet would be left alone to fend them off. Robbins quickly shut down that train of thought. She couldn’t be thinking about their fate when she had to focus on the task at hand.

    Hyper rationalised and compartmentalised. Every evaluation she had had said the same thing, some praising her for such abilities, others making it sound as though she was some kind of unfeeling monster. She wasn’t a Vulcan, she was as human as the likes of Munro, she preferred just not to show her feelings quite so openly. Some were put off by her overly-analytical and closed-off manner, seeing it either as her being an unpleasant person or some way of keeping people at arm’s length. It wasn’t any of that. Her mind simply worked different to the average humans.

    Even by Vulcan standards, she was classed as genius. Her mind could absorb, retain, analyse and reproduce vast quantities of information, often at the same time. It made her an over-achiever, which was why she was qualified to handle: navigation, helm, tactical, and communications, as well as having degrees in theoretical subspace physics, stellar cartography, and structural engineering. It also made her quite intense, when she felt something strongly it seeped into every part of her. So if she dwelt on the impending attack on New Tokyo, she risked losing herself to running every scenario her mind could conjure up, which would affect her focus when on the bridge and put even more lives at risk.

    As the Vulcan idiom went: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Something she had been on the receiving end of, when she’d been marooned for ten months as a cadet.

    “Shanthi to Robbins,” the intercom whistled.

    She stepped to her desk and tapped the companel. “Go ahead, Commander.”

    “Please report to the briefing room, the CAG has arrived and the Captain wants you present.”

    “Aye sir, on my way. Robbins out.”

    She took a quick look in the mirror to ensure her uniform and hair were regulation, then headed out of her quarters and made tracks for the briefing room. Engineering crews were still fervently working to finish off their torpedo launchers, ensuring that all the new circuit patches and power conduits were going to work, and stocking up the damage control supply lockers. With all the work going on, she made sure to give way to them when the jumpsuit-clad technicians were on the move, or to slip past quietly when they were clustered around an open bulkhead. Ready or not, the ship would be departing soon.

    When she reached the briefing room the doors parted with a swish and she stepped in. Seated on two of the three sides of the table were Captain Naya, Commander Shanthi, and Lieutenants Thor and K’Bentayr. Sitting on the third side was a strapping young man, with curly red hair and comforting brown eyes, dressed in a flight suit with the name ‘Rodgers’ on the left side of his chest.

    “Lieutenant, thank you for joining us at short notice,” started Naya. Robbins gave a silent nod and headed for the empty seat next to the pilot. “This is Lieutenant Commander Ethan Rodgers, the CAG of the Eighteenth Fighter Wing.”

    He gave her a soft smile, but even that revealed deep dimples. “Lieutenant.”

    “Commander,” she replied, sitting down.

    “Seeing as how you devised our formation, Lieutenant, please give the CAG the highlights.”

    “Yes sir,” she said to Naya, before slipping a data cube into the control panel she sat beside and bringing up graphics on the three-way viewer on the table top. She proceeded to go through the pattern the convoy would take, her reasoning behind it and listing both the pros and cons as she could assess them. Her shipmates had heard her plan, but Rogers watched the screen intently, though never asked a question. Once finished, she sat back to see what he had to say.

    “Are you a fighter jockey, Lieutenant?” Rogers asked.

    “No sir. Have I overlooked something?”

    He laughed then looked at Naya. “You need to be careful with someone like her, Captain; I may just try and steal her away.”

    “Robbins has a knack for things like these,” was all the Captain would say.

    “It’s a sound plan, Lieutenant. I’ve known strategy officers who have a hard time telling the ass from their elbow,” his wide smile carved out deep grooves in his cheeks. “How easy is this going to be to maintain with so many different ships and skill levels?”

    “Once we’ve sent out the information packet, I can set up my board to monitor all movement and alert me if anyone drifts out of position, I can send a course update directly to their navicomp which should correct any deviation.”

    “Very impressive.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    “Between the Renown and my twenty-four fighters, we should have things well covered. We can fly tight formation in and around the convoy, keep moving—just in case any Klingons are watching then we can keep them guessing just how many of us there are.”

    “A reasonable precaution,” stated Naya. “When the convoy is moving, we are going to be running continuous scans. We are not aiming to engage the Klingons, to do so would either slow down or weaken the convoy. If it becomes necessary however, the Renown will remain behind, you’re objective will be to get the civilians to Starbase Eight then assist with its defence.”

    “Understood, Captain.” He placed a data cube on the table and slid it over to ch’Vahras. “That is the scrambler protocol we operate all communications through, so even another ship in the convoy can’t hear what we’re saying. When on mission, we only respond to our call signs, which are also included on that.”

    “What’s yours?” Shanthi asked.

    “Buck.”

    “Buck?”

    “Buck. It’s a nickname I’ve had since I was a kid and never left me—it wasn’t until our wedding day that my ex-wife learned I was actually called Ethan.”

    “Alright, if there’s nothing more needing to be discussed,” Naya paused for a second but no one spoke, “then you’re dismissed. We’ve got a lot to do so let’s get to it.”

    She rose and all the others around the table followed suit, then headed for the exit. Rodgers hung back for a moment and called after her, “Lieutenant Robbins.”

    Stopping, she looked back at him. “Yes Commander?”

    “You can call me Buck. What can I call you?”

    Her full lips curled up slightly. She always had to admire gall. “Well Buck, you had it right the first time.” Turning on her heel, she headed into the corridor and followed the other bridge officers, feeling ‘Buck’ Rodgers’ eyes watching her leave.

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    High Orbit, Drakonis IV

    The bridge was a hive of activity, every station had someone seated at it with a few having another officer or non-com hovering over them. It was so unlike home that Alnschloss K’Bentayr found it comforting, s’he was back in Starfleet. After five years back on Monchezke it was refreshing to get back to where s’he had chosen to be—even if it was on a totally new ship with a completely new crew.

    The Renown was now undertaking final preparations to depart. All the civilians were onboard their designated evacuation ships, systems were being double checked before the flotilla got underway. K’Bentayr s’himself had been working for almost thirty hours solid, first to get the new torpedo launchers installed and then running every diagnostic and test s’he could think of to make sure they would work properly. Of course what the entire weapons array needed was a full field test, but they weren’t going to get that, so simulations and diagnostics would have to suffice.

    S’he heard someone move closer to s’him. Looking back, s’he saw the Captain step down into the well in the middle of the bridge. K’Bentayr cocked his head at the Deltan.

    “How are our new weapon systems looking, Lieutenant?”

    “All my checks show them to be operating within specified ranges, however I feel uneasy about heading out without more practical assurances, sir.”

    She nodded. “As soon as we get to Starbase Eight, I’ll ask that we get some time to put them to the test—hopefully before we get another assignment.”

    “Gratitude, Captain.”

    She turned to the other two senior officers beside s’him. “Robbins, are you set?”

    “Telemetry link to all convoy navicomps confirmed, Captain. Looks like we’re ready.”

    “I have every faith in your abilities, Lieutenant. Mr Munro, good to go?”

    “The convoy have all completed a full systems check on their warp drive, sir. All propulsion is optimal. We’ll be good for warp factor four all the way to Starbase Eight.”

    “Thank you, Lieutenant.” Naya paused for a moment longer, then stepped up to her chair and slowly lowered herself into it. All of the crew watched the simple, everyday behaviour as it was the first time that she had ever sat in the Renown’s command chair. She wiggled a little in it, nodded appreciatively and then sat back, looking up to see she had everyone’s attention.

    “As you were,” she said, unable to hide the smile in her tone.

    K’Bentayr had just turned back to s’his controls when the intercom whistled. “Bridge, this is Lieutenant Collins in transporter room two.”

    “Go ahead, Lieutenant,” Naya replied.

    “Sir, I’ve just been contacted by the Field Office, saying that they are ready for transport, but there is nothing in the log about receiving anyone from the base.”

    Though not an immediate part of s’his remit, K’Bentayr quickly checked the security logs and saw that there was no record of anyone being given permission to beam up.

    “Know anything about this, Commander?”

    “It’s news to me, sir,” Shanthi stated.

    “No authorised transfer requests have been issued by Admiral Chang or base operations,” added K’Bentayr.

    “Mister Collins, hold on that transport. Call in a security team, I’ll be there in a moment. Bridge out.”

    S’he heard her rise. “Lieutenant K’Bentayr, you’re with me. Commander, you have the con, keep our departure on track.”

    Doing as instructed, s’he stood and headed for the turbolift, a step before the Deltan CO as she issued her orders. Shanthi called out his acknowledgement as the doors closed. It was puzzling. The evacuation ships had been filled with as many non-essential personnel from the base as they could fit, not many unfortunately. The Renown had been barred from carrying any evacuees, in case they were called into combat. All those that remained on the base would defend it as best they could, until what remained of the two task forces could regroup and return to Drakonis IV. Even the Vice Admiral was staying behind to fight.

    The turbolift ride was short and quiet. Though not empathic, K’Bentayr could feel the annoyance coming from Naya. She marched them down the corridor towards the transporter room, outside of which stood two enlisted security guards, in full body armour and clutching rifles. Inside, Collins stood at the controls, whilst Lieutenant Commander Vogel and Chief Nur Hadden stood on either side of the dais, hands resting on the phasers secured on their hips.

    S’he went to the controls and looked at the encoded signal that the beam-up request had come in on. It was a legitimate one, which he told Naya. She nodded at the transporter officer.

    “Energise.”

    A column of shimmering golden light hummed into existence. K’Bentayr watched as it solidified into a short, stocky Tellarite, wearing gold with the insignia of a commodore around his cuffs.

    “Commodore Benq?” Naya questioned.

    The flag officer was not one s’he was familiar with, but the Captain knew him from somewhere. Regardless of who he was, his rank caused s’himself, Vogel, Collins and Nur Hadden all to stand up a little straighter. Benq looked around at them, in the way many Tellarite did, down his short, flared snout.

    “What’s the meaning of armed guards here?” he challenged Naya.

    “We were unaware of anyone being allowed to beam up from the colony, under Vice Admiral Chang’s orders. They are here to ensure that unauthorised personnel are returned to their post.”

    “Well my orders come from the Head of Starfleet Intelligence; as such they supersede those of Admiral Chang. My expertise is needed on Starbase Eight, I am to direct Intel operations from there,” he paused and looked around the room. “Where is Commander Shanthi?”

    “Attending to his duties on the bridge, we are after all due to head out any minute now.”

    Benq scoffed. “Whilst I’m onboard, I will be in need of him.”

    Naya jutted her chin out slightly. “So long as it doesn’t interfere with his duties as XO, I’m sure the Commander would be more than willing to assist you. We are after all the primary escort to over forty thousand defenceless Federation citizens.”

    The Commodore scowled at her. K’Bentayr had served with enough Tellarites to know how they thought and acted, s’he could see that Benq didn’t particularly like the Captain, but she didn’t back down.

    He snorted. “Have him report to my quarters, at his earliest convenience.”

    “Of course, sir. Commander Vogel, please show the Commodore to VIP quarters.”

    “Aye Captain.” She gestured towards the door. “This way please, sir.”

    Benq and Naya stared each other down for a moment longer, before he stepped off the pad and headed out the door, with the security chief and her deputy. Once he was gone, she looked at the control console.

    “Mr Collins, secure the transporters once again. Lieutenant,” she added to K’Bentayr, before heading for the exit.

    Falling into step beside her, s’he couldn’t help but look at the Deltan with a greater sense of respect. If she was willing to take an immensely risky tactic using a makeshift torpedo onboard a tug, then hold her own against a Starfleet flag officer, just what else was she capable of.

    Inside the lift, s’he turned to Naya and stared at her for a moment, which drew the Captain’s attention.

    “Yes Lieutenant?”

    “Gratitude Captain.”

    She scowled. “What for?”

    “For having me aboard this vessel, under your command. I only hope that I can bring you the honour you deserve,” s’he stated with a slight bow.

    Naya looked surprised. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. The lift stopped and doors opened onto the bridge. K’Bentayr looked towards the opening, but before the Deltan moved she gave s’him a soft smile and mimicked the bow.

    Stepping onto the bridge, Shanthi rose from the command chair. “All ready, sir.”

    “Thank you, Commander.”

    “Incoming signal from New Tokyo,” stated Thor, as they took their seats.

    “On screen.”

    A moment later, Chang’s face appeared, his expression reserved with heavy skin folds under his eyes. Renown, this is Chang. I wanted to say good luck to you.”

    “And to you, Admiral.”

    “Keep those people safe, Captain. New Tokyo out.”

    “Lieutenant, open a channel to the convoy.”

    “Open.”

    “All ship’s, this is Captain Naya of the Renown. Engage designated course and speed in ten. Mark.”

    The crew all watched the chronometer. Once the ten second interval had passed, the ships ahead of them on the viewscreen all veered away from the planet and headed out. They were restricted to full impulse, due to multiple gravity wells, until they cleared the system. At that point they would leap to warp and head away from the encroaching front, leaving Chang and over three hundred other Starfleet officers and specialist behind.

    It was a thought that weighed heavily upon all those in uniform.
     
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Another good chapter. I like the wrinkle you've added with Benq. Should be fun watching those fireworks.
     
  7. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Aaand Buck Rodgers crashes and burns with LTJG Robbins. :guffaw: That was priceless!

    I like Robbins - she's obviously a superb navigator but has some relational issues. Methinks Buck isn't one to give up easily, though.

    More superb character work, particularly with K’Bentayr (you are a master at making aliens . . . well, alien), Captain Naya (loved the bit where she checks out The Chair for the first time) and Benq (captured the Tellarite persona spot-on).

    This just gets better and better! :bolian:
     
  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Chapter Three


    Operations Centre, Starfleet Field Office
    New Tokyo, Drakonis IV


    It looked like their intelligence wasn’t worth a damn right now, Winston Chang decided. The Klingon fleet that should’ve been eighteen hours away before the convoy depart was eleven hours early. Fortunately, they had already been prepared.

    “Sir, the two D’aka-Class assault ships are breaking off from the rest of the fleet!” Lieutenant Paulson called from the sensor console.

    “What?” he demanded. Of all the tactics the Klingons could’ve pulled, he hadn’t expected two of their newest and largest ships to break off from the coming battle. “Course?”

    “First wave of birds-of-prey will hit orbit in twenty seconds,” stated another operator.

    “Orbital defence batteries fully charged. Engaging targeting systems.”

    “Colony shields at one hundred fifty percent.”

    Paulson looked up from his monitor. “They’re on a direct intercept course with the convoy, and increasing speed. Now at warp factor seven-point-two.”

    “My god,” the admiral gasped. They were almost double the speed of the convoy, which would put them on top of it in next to no time. “Can we punch through this dampening field? We have to warn the convoy what’s coming!”

    “Negative sir,” purred Ensign M’Raav. “Every ship is generating its own dampening field; we can’t get out any kind of signal.”

    “Orbital weapon platforms firing.”

    “Klingon D4’s approaching from one-seventy-mark-six.”

    “I’m detecting a number of boarding shuttles heading for the surface.”

    “Five birds destroyed, seven more have taken damage.”

    “Keep trying, Ensign. We either have to alert the Renown or dispatch assistance from the task force.”

    “Sir, our last signal from the task force was that they were still engaging multiple battlecruisers,” his chief of staff needlessly reminded him.

    “I’m aware of that, but if they can’t intercept those ships then thousands of people are going to die.”

    “But the Renown—” started Paulson.

    The shuddering of the Starfleet complex signalled that the bombardment from orbit had begun. Though they had the full power output of the colony at their disposal, it wasn’t unlimited and even their defences wouldn’t hold for very long.

    “Reacquire targets, aim for the ships firing on the colony, our surface defences can handle the birds-of-prey and shuttles.”

    “Aye sir, locking on.”

    Chang gritted his teeth as the base shook again. It had been him who had promoted Naya, then given her the Renown (after Captain Xa-Haghaarn had turned it down), but only then because it was the only ship in need of a new commanding officer. Admittedly, he had some misgivings about Deltans and combat, but she’d proven to have that little something (the spark of determination or sheer guts) that he’d seen in some of the finest Captain’s he had had the good fortune to command. Maybe Naya was one of them, he just didn’t know, all he could do was hope that they both saw tomorrow and he could someday see if he was wrong about his initial impression.

    “Birds have entered the atmosphere, closing fast.”

    “Tighten the deflector grid; pull it in closer to the base. That should increase its integrity. We may lose a few houses and shops out there, but we might be able to hold onto the planet.”

    “Aye sir.”

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    En Route to Starbase 8, Drakonis Sector


    There was a heaviness in the atmosphere onboard that they were all feeling. The combination of tension, remorse, regret, and annoyance played out on everyone’s face, Farog’s as well. He kept his eyes glued to the viewer on his console, watching for anything and everything, though all he’d seen since they’d left Drakonis IV was the convoy. He, and many others, expected the Klingons to appear out of nowhere and attack—the way they’d managed to strike so swiftly and devastatingly, without warning, made him think of the ancient Iconians who’d been called ‘Demons of Air and Darkness’. Though the millennia-old transcripts were to be taken with a pinch of salt, they all had a common thread about how the hostile race appeared on planets without evidence of ships.

    He shuddered at the thought of the Klingon Empire possessing that level of technology, they would be unstoppable. They were bad enough just with their ships and warriors, he mused reaching for his mug of spice root tea. Without looking he lifted it to his lips, though it took a moment for him to realise that it was empty and he was sipping air.

    Looking up from his viewer, he peered into the mug, wondering just when he’d finished it. Sighing, he resigned himself to another trip to the mess hall. If it hadn’t been for his trips to the mess for sustenance, and the head, he would’ve been on the bridge since they’d left New Tokyo. Though he had taken onboard what the Captain had said, he couldn’t help but feel a little over-bearing when it came to monitoring the sensors for Klingon ships.

    The turbolift beside his station opened and Captain Naya stepped out, carrying a mug, though instead of heading for her chair in the centre of the deck, she stepped over to Farog and set the beverage on a free space, with a sympathetic smile on her stunning face.

    “I had a feeling you’d need a little pick-me-up.”

    “I think it’s time I owed you a cup of tea, Captain.”

    She smirked. “I’m not the one who’s risking eye strain staring into that thing for hours.”

    “Thank you,” he told her, taking a sip of the fresh hot tea.

    “Anything out there?”

    Farog shook her head. “All quiet, sir.”

    She glanced at the vacant command chair. “Commander Shanthi still meeting with the Commodore?”

    “Yes sir.” Farog, naturally an inquisitive person, had to bite his tongue to ask more about the flag officer and his purpose for being aboard. If it hadn’t been for her expression every time Benq’s name came up he might’ve. His fellow Tellarite was from the traditionalists out there, the ones who believed they could be as rude and pointed and belligerent as they wanted, other races would just learn to change and adapt to accommodate them. His own father was like it, which was why he’d had some pretty harsh things to say about Farog’s choice to go into Starfleet.

    “Captain,” Robbins called from navigation, “I’ve got a sensor contact.” Farog whipped back around to his scope and started scanning. “Bearing: two-seven-seven-mark-zero-four-three, closing fast.”

    “Teg, confirmation,” stated Naya, taking a step towards the railing between her and the central well, eyes locked on the viewscreen.

    It took him only seconds. “Confirmed, reading two contacts. Sensor profile looks to be of two Klingon D3-Class warships. They’ll be on the convoy in twenty-four minutes at present speed.”

    “Red alert,” Naya called moving around to her chair. The lighting dimmed slightly, alert panels flashed red and the klaxon sounded. “Thor, get me the CAG then send the alert signal to the Masada. Robbins, plot intercept course. Munro, standby on maximum warp.”

    “Got the CAG, sir, putting him through.”

    “Buck, this is Renown. We have two Klingon contacts on sensors and are preparing to alter course and engage.”

    “Copy that Renown. I’ll put all pilots on alert status and increase active scans.”

    “Stay with the convoy, no matter what, that is priority one.”

    “Understood Captain. Give the Klingons hell.”

    “I intend too. Renown out.”

    The turbolift doors opened, admitting Shanthi and Benq. The XO took in the situation in a matter of seconds and immediately darted to his console on the opposite side of the bridge. The Commodore snorted and surveyed what was going on with a dispassionate sneer.

    Masada has confirmed the signal, sir.”

    “Course laid in.”

    “Warp drive ready.”

    “Engage.”

    As the ship shot to warp factor seven, Farog took note of their course and estimated time to intercept—forty-three minutes. He had that time to gather as much data as he could and study up on the D3-Class to try and find some means of taking them on.

    Naya spun to face the intelligence station. “Commander, see if there are any other ships that could assist, then try to inform New Tokyo and Starbase Eight, let them know what’s happening.” She snapped back around to Farog. “Lieutenant, anything you can tell me on those ships would be appreciated.”

    “Already on it, sir.”

    “Why aren’t there any fighters coming with us?” Benq enquired, stepping forward from the turbolift alcove.

    “They’re staying back to protect the convoy. This could well be a ploy to lure us away and strike the civilians from another direction.”

    Benq gave an unconvinced snort but said no more. Farog had to guess that the spy master hadn’t spent much time on starships on conventional missions, most likely attaining his rank by undertaking work that no one would ever hear of outside a highly-classified briefing. There was something about his whole demeanour that made it seem as though this weren’t anything more than an exercise in the simulator at the Academy.

    Pushing it from the forefront of his mind, Farog focused on the scans he was taking and comparing them to what records and data Starfleet already had on the older D3’s. As he did, something flashed up that was puzzling.

    “Sir,” he called over his shoulder, double checking what he’d spotted.

    “Yes Teg?”

    “The sensor profiles seem a little fuzzy and their energy output is somewhat less than it should is.”

    “Perhaps they’ve reduced power to some systems,” suggested Shanthi, “so as to make it easier to sneak past our scouts.”

    “Check it, Lieutenant. Robbins, time to intercept.”

    “Nineteen minutes. Mark.”

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    Intercept Course, Drakonis Sector


    Kanu Shanthi hadn’t been able to get anything from the colony, which worried him. If their communications were being jammed then in meant the Klingons were closer than anyone had suspected, which put the convoy in a far more untenable position. He’d managed to get a message through to Starbase 8 but they wouldn’t be able to do much, if anything, to help them—seeing as how there were no other ships nearby to render any kind of assistance.

    He glanced at Naya and Benq, who lingered by her side, feeling as though he had disappointed her in some way. He was her XO, as such had responsibilities to her, but he was also a special operative of Starfleet Intelligence, with a mission of his own aboard the Renown. He’d known it would be tough, that there would be times his two roles would be at odds, he’d just never expected it to be so soon.

    “Entering visual range,” announced Robbins, shaking him from his thoughts.

    “On screen.”

    The main viewer came to life, but in place of four gunmetal-grey Klingon battlecruisers there was nothing but static. He frowned at the screen then turn to his console, looking over the readings that came in over the sensors, though none of them made any sense.

    “They’re scrambling our visual sensors and communications, sir,” stated Thor.

    “Find a way to clear it up, Lieutenant.”

    “Aye sir.”

    He heard muffled footsteps approach, followed by the distinctive odour (something akin to that of a wet dog) of Commodore Benq, which only got stronger as he leaned over the command intel console.

    “She seems a little out of her element,” he muttered in a surprisingly quiet tone. “When this goes to Ghrett, you’ll back me up when I assume command.”

    Shanthi looked up at him, his frown deepening, but Benq didn’t see it, already turned his back and focusing on Naya. After years spent in Intelligence, Shanthi had become a keen observer of people, able to sum them up quickly and figure out how to deal with them. Benq relished the common beliefs of his people, playing up to them and pushing it well beyond that of any other Tellarite Shanthi had ever known. Part of him had to wonder if Benq hadn’t come onboard just to find an excuse to try and show her up.

    “Weapons range in four minutes.”

    “Lieutenant K’Bentayr, I want a full spread of torpedoes once we’re in range, that should force them to impulse. If we’re going to face them, I’d rather do it at sublight.”

    “Calculating dispersal pattern now, sir.”

    “Mr Munro, once they’ve slowed drop us out of warp and swing us around, we need to press the attack. But if they lock in on us, engage evasives at your discretion.”

    “Aye Captain.”

    Shanthi supressed a smile as he watched and listened to Naya, she issued orders and readied tactics with quiet confidence. He felt a familiar rush as he glanced at her, an infatuation he had shared with hundreds of other cadets when they’d first seen the stunningly beautiful Deltan female—for most the first they’d even witnessed in the flesh. Unlike many of his classmates (and some of his instructors), he wasn’t just enamoured with how she looked, but how she carried herself with grace and dignity, how her mind had worked, drawing in everything around and appreciating the quest for knowledge and not just the results. From the day she had stood up and questioned the work of Professor Yaetrol, the Academy’s leading computer scientist, he knew that there was a subtle strength to her, something that would see her do great things.

    “Two minutes.”

    “Naya to engineering. Kosk, tell me you’re ready down there.”

    “We’re ready, Captain. Deflectors and phasers will have all we can give them. Damage control teams have been dispatched to key areas.”

    “Thank you, Lieutenant. Bridge out.”

    “Klingons have altered course,” announced Farog. “They are now bearing down on us.”

    “One minute to weapons range.”

    Shanthi checked over everything on his board. The below normal energy emissions were still a mystery, but their behaviour was as Klingon as it got. They’d want to take out the starship before moving on to attack the convoy. It looked as though the once admirable code of honour the Klingons had adhered to had been blown out the airlock—something he’d need to look into in more detail once they reached Starbase 8.

    “Thirty seconds.”

    “Captain, I’ve been able to clear up their sensor jammers,” called Thor, “I can give you visual.”

    “Put it up.”

    The static on the screen faded, though the occasional crackle still disrupted the image, but not enough for them to see just what they were up against.

    “Shit!” exclaimed Munro.

    “Raptors,” Robbins added.

    “It’s a decoy,” Shanthi clarified. Instead of two warships, they were facing four small scouts—no doubt using some kind of masking technology to make them appear as two D3’s—that were being used to lure them from the convoy, which meant they could be facing something much worse very soon. The name ‘raptors’ was very apt, in a pack, they could be deadly. He was out of his chair and heading to communications in a heartbeat. “Lieutenant, can you raise Buck?”

    “Maintain course and speed, ready torpedoes,” ordered Naya, keeping her focus on the battle.

    Ch’Vahras shook his head, antennae twitching—a sure-fire sign of a tense Andorian. “The raptors are doing a good job at scrambling all communications, but I’ll try and circumvent it.”

    “Five seconds. Three, two, one.”

    “Fire!”

    The Renown’s new launchers roared to life, sending half a dozen balls of destructive matter/antimatter hurtling towards the rust-brown hostiles. Each one hit the bull’s-eye, bursting against their shields and compromising their warp bubbles.

    “They’ve dropped to sublight,” Farog stated.

    “Slowing to impulse and coming about.”

    “Phasers. Fire.”

    Under K’Bentayr’s slim, spindly fingers, the medium cruiser unleashed the full power of her upgraded beam weapons. Each forward bank picked out a different target and pounded it with brilliant cobalt phased energy. The disorientated raptors took the first volley of hits, before they got organised once again. Smaller than even a bird-of-prey though surprisingly well-armed, the raptors hit back with their own torpedoes, as they used their superior manoeuvrability to the advantage, making it harder for the Chezkenite marksman to find a target.

    As the battle raged behind him, Shanthi stayed with Thor, putting his talents to use trying to get through the jamming field, hoping that there weren’t too late.
     
  9. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Very vivid battle imagery! I liked the portrayal of Klingon battle tactics (deceive and divide) as they were able to hide/disguise the type and number of ships, plus the disruptive effect of the dampening fields. Very nice.

    Commodorel Benq is troublesome. I have to wonder as to his real objective aboard Renown - is he seeking to relieve Naya for personal glory? It certainly places Shanthi in a tenuous position.

    Here's hoping the good guys can pull out a win by protecting the convoy and saving Drakonis IV from obliteration! :eek:
     
  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    More please.
     
  11. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Chapter Four


    Gold Leader, 18th Fighter Wing
    En Route to Starbase 8, Drakonis Sector


    Buck felt the familiar prickle on the back of his neck, underneath his helmet. Having been a starfighter pilot for seven years, he had developed a sense for when things were about to get frakked up beyond all recognition—usually when things were unnaturally peaceful, and this was one of those times. The Renown was out of contact, their scans were clear, the convoy progressing steadily at warp four.

    He resisted the urge to tap the comlink. If something came up he’d be the first to hear about it. Checking his scanners for the sixty-third time since the starship had veered off to intercept the incoming Klingon, he again had to marvel at the tight formation the fifty-strong fleet was flying which, of course, brought the raven-haired Lieutenant Robbins to mind.

    “Put it back in your pants, Buck,” he scorned himself, focusing on the job at hand. He’d work on getting to know the young lieutenant better once they got to SB8, until then he had a job to do.

    “Buck, Widow-Maker,” the secure comlink came to life with the voice of Lieutenant Royce, their rear guard. “I have two contacts, closing very fast.”

    “Friendlies?” he asked, focusing his sensors aft.

    “Negative. Going by size and speed, we have two D’aka-Class assault ships on our tail. Intercept in six minutes.”

    He hated being right about impending fubar moments. They’d been ordered to stay with the convoy, but if those ships got within weapons range they’d tear the transports and freighters to pieces with little effort. The best way to safeguard the thousands of innocent men, women and children was to hit the Klingons before they got close enough to strike.

    Switching to a squadron-wide broadcast, he kept his tone level and clear. “We have inbound, two D’aka’s. Gold and Red Flights, you’re with me. Silver and Blue, stay with the convoy. Widow-Maker, you’re in charge until I get back.”

    All the fighter pilots confirmed their new orders. He switched opened a secure channel to the Ptolemy-Class U.S.S. Masada, which held the ranking officer after Captain Naya, making the Rigelian the one in charge of the convoy in her absence.

    “Captain Jetaran, we have two Klingons on our tail. I’m taking two Flights off the escort detail to deal with them, buy you some more time.”

    “How bad is it, Commander?” Jetaran asked.

    “Bad sir. Two assault ships. Have you had anything from the Renown?”

    “Negative.” The Captain paused, no doubt thinking about just how bad their situation was and just what they could do about it. “Good luck, Commander.”

    “Thank you, sir. Buck out.” He switched back to the squadron channel. “Gold, Red, break and advance.”

    Twelve fighters broke from their positions, veering away from the beautifully organised flotilla and heading towards the two hostiles that were bearing down on them.

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    Drakonis Sector


    Farog was watching the battle through his viewer, trying to find a way to cut through the sensor interference the Klingons were causing. Before they had gone to this much trouble, they had to have something bad in mind for the convoy.

    A lucky phaser blast struck one of the raptor’s impulse engines, cutting its forward momentum leaving it just drifting on inertia. K’Bentayr noticed the damaged ship and followed up the beam with a torpedo. It soared through the smaller ship’s shields and carved into the hull. A second before it exploded, Farog noticed the tactical officer had targeted the reactor core, eliminating the threat from battle entirely.

    “One target destroyed,” Robbins announced.

    As the vacuum snuffed out the explosion, leaving nothing but debris, Farog noticed the effect on the sensors. They had cleared up. “Sir, it looks like each ship is generating a separate disruption field. There’s been a noticeable increase in sensor resolution with the destruction of that ship.”

    “If we take out one or two more we’ll be able to get communications back online,” stated Thor, not looking up from his console as he and the Commander worked.

    “You heard the man, Mr K’Bentayr.”

    “Aye Captain, locking target.”

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Masada
    En Route to Starbase 8, Drakonis Sector


    Jetaran, Captain of the tug Masada, kept looking at the tactical display that was now displayed on the viewscreen. Sitting forward in the specially adapted command chair, the Rigelian-Chelon watched as the markers indicating the fighters got within weapons range of the two pursuing warships; at which point the vanished from sensors.

    “What happened?” the Captain demanded, leaning closer to Navigator Nur Rheln.

    The native of Rigel VII looked over his console, entering commands then looked back. “Our systems are functioning, either the Klingons are jamming all sensors or all twelve fighters were destroyed.”

    Swallowing heavily, Jetaran resisted the urge to make a clucking noise—a sound of distress among Chelon. Instead, the Captain swung about to face Lieutenant Commander Taelle, the pointed-eared Rigelian-Tomal who was the ship’s first officer.

    “Can you raise the CAG?”

    “All communications with the two Flights have gone silent,” Taelle said, holding his earpiece firmly in place. “I’ve even having a hard time keeping in touch with the rest of the convoy. There is a lot of chatter out there.”

    “Sir, six ships have just accelerated,” announced helmswoman Yu-Flenn, the human-looking Rigelian from Rigel IV, “they are pulling ahead of the convoy.”

    Jetaran looked back at the viewscreen and saw the smaller Sirius-Class transports, all civilian owned and operated, breaking away from the group. The speed limit of warp four had been set because of the five Ptolemy-Class tugs in the flotilla, each one towing at least two transport modules. Due to the added mass and length, the tug’s warp fields wouldn’t be effective above factor four; under normal conditions, that was more than enough for them to get from system to system in a reasonable timetable, but now it could mean the deaths of over half the evacuees from New Tokyo. As the Chelon watched the monitor, ten more of the smaller transports and runabouts scarpered.

    “Open a channel!”

    “Open.”

    “All ships, return to formation and hold your previous speed. We don’t know what else is out there. I repeat, all ships return to the convoy.”

    “No response, Captain,” said Taelle.

    The convoy was breaking up, there was a very real probability the first wave of fighters were nothing but dust, the Renown was out of contact, and two heavily-armed Klingon ships were only minutes away.

    “Commander, sound battlestations. Lieutenant Yu-Flenn, energise phase canons. Bridge to engine room, divert all power you can to deflector screens and stand ready on damage control.”

    The Masada’s limited defences weren’t even enough to take on a bird-of-prey, but when those assault ship’s arrived, Jetaran was determined to make sure they didn’t go down without a fight.

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    Drakonis Sector


    Say what you want about the Klingons, they made damn good combat pilots. Even Robbins was having a hard time tracking them. She cast a sideways glance at K’Bentayr with newfound respect, how the Chezkenite was able to hit anything was nothing short of miraculous. Had they taken a couple of fighters with them it would’ve been easier; the small attack craft would’ve make the raptors look like a beached Axanaran leviathan.

    Rodgers dimpled face sprang to mind, but she quickly locked it away again. The experienced starfighter jockey would be fine. She had to focus on their situation and tracking the hostile ships, if one of them got past them, then even it could do some damage to the convoy.

    But they’re not trying to get through, part of her mind suddenly realised. She checked the navigation display again and saw it clearly. The three raptor pilots were very good; two could easily keep the Renown off-balance long enough for the third to make a run on the civilian-laded ships behind them, but that wasn’t their purpose.

    The flotilla was in eminent danger.

    Twin phaser beams sliced the head off of another raptor, setting the exposed sections adrift, as the last two Klingon ships darted in opposite directions. She still didn’t have long-range sensors back, which meant that they needed to take out another raptor and quickly, as they were coming back around. Each one unleashed a full volley of torpedoes against the starship’s shields.

    * * * * *​

    Gold Leader, 18th Fighter Wing
    Drakonis Sector


    Red Leader exploded before him, showering scraps of metal and Saurian body parts against the hull of Buck’s fighter, he quickly rocked his ship to escape the larger chunks of debris, but kept on course. The loss of Lieutenant Hirss brought their total down to nine since they engaged the Klingons, but his pilots kept on going. They tightened their manoeuvres, keeping the little ships in constant motion to avoid the disruptor blasts the two D’aka’s showered down on them.

    When they had been a minute away from engaging the two enemy ships, Buck had ordered the two Flights to aim for their navigation systems or warp engines, his plan was to stall them for as long they could and hope that the Renown would return in time to give them the added firepower they needed. His first fighter had been lost before it could even get a shot off, the second had taken a hit that killed the pilot but sent the Wildcat-Class attach craft pirouetting into a nacelle. Hirss had then gotten lucky and landed a hit on the second ship’s navigational array. Both assault ships had been forced to drop to impulse, which was where the starfighters came into their own.

    “Red Two, head for ‘Limpy’, attack pattern theta-two. Make ‘em hurt!”

    “Copy that, Gold Leader. Red Flight, form up and attack.”

    Four fighters banked to port and opened fire on the cruiser with the damaged nacelle. Her warp drive may have been impaired, but her weapons were still hot. Buck couldn’t think about them, he pressed his advance on the second ship, running blind, but also still more than capable of ripping his fighter and the four that followed him to shreds in half a heartbeat.

    “Gold Flight, get in close enough to scratch their paintjob. They won’t be able to hit us up close.”

    Four confirmations quickly followed and he pushed his impulse thrusters to their maximum. As he drew nearer he opened fire with the phaser cannon located just underneath the nose of his fighter, though it barely made a dent in their shields, it would help weaken their shields in order to punch through. The six spatial missiles on the wings he was keeping until they could do some real damage.

    A disruptor blast scorched past him, missing him by four meters; unfortunately Gold Three wasn’t as lucky. It was all but disintegrated by the bolt of energy, Lieutenant JG Geoffrey Bash (known to all in the Wing as ‘Bashful’) would never have known what happened to him—which was at least one small mercy.

    They just had to hold it together for a little while longer.

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    Drakonis Sector


    With one last glancing blow from their phasers, the third raptor exploded into nothing but scrap metal. As Benq watched the battle on the viewscreen his scowl threatened to bore into bone, if he scrunched his face up any more. Somehow, defying even all of the Tellarite gods, the Deltan was actually putting up a fight, and more shockingly was winning it!

    But then again she was only going up against raptors, not exactly the greatest threat the Klingons could throw at them. He doubted she would be as effective if they were something more substantial. She had gotten lucky in the Tighe system. Her tactic should never have worked, but somehow it had—though not without all but destroying her previous command in the process—that didn’t make her capable enough to command such a ship as the Renown. Had it been his decision to make, he would have dropped her on a scout and kept her on the side-lines, as far away from the fighting as possible. Deltans were notorious for their heightened emotional state, once things started to get very bad, when she was losing people daily, forced to fight battle after battle with little sleep, and pushed to the extremes that only existed during wars, she would crack long before anyone else—even a human—at which point, Chang and the others at Command would see just what a mistake her appointment had been.

    Surveying the bridge, he couldn’t help but wonder just who she would wind up getting killed. The reed-thin weapons officer and even his fellow Tellarite at science were high on his list, possibly the raven-haired navigator and maybe the Andorian. The helmsman seemed to have a decent head on his shoulders, he might scrape through. As for Shanthi, he had come back from the dead twice in the last five years, so Benq had no doubts as to his abilities.

    “Sensors are clearing up, sir,” announced the young Tellarite.

    “As are communications, still pretty garbled, but I should be able to get through to the convoy.”

    “Get me a status report from the Masada as soon as you can, Lieutenant.”

    “Sir,” the Tellarite began looking into his viewer. He was interrupted when a torpedo arched into the last raptor and took it out in a series of quick internal explosions. For a moment the bridge was still, all the impacts had stopped and the tight flight patterns eased.

    Naya spun towards the junior lieutenant. “Yes, Mr Farog?” she asked, her tone clearly apprehensive.

    “Sensors show two new contacts close to our previous position; Klingon D’aka-Class warships. They’re throwing out a wide dampening field. The convoy has scattered as well, only eighteen ships remain in formation and maintaining warp four, the others have all accelerated, some are even on entirely new headings.”

    “Robbins, intercept course with the warships. Munro, ring everything you can out of the warp engines. Engage.”

    “On our way, Captain,” the helmsman called over his shoulder as the ship leapt to warp, the hull groaning slightly with the unexpected jump to factor seven.

    “Captain,” the Andorian spoke up from the aft console, “the Masada says that Buck took two Flights back to engage the Klingons. It was after they lost sensor contact that the civilian ships in the convoy panicked and fled.”

    “Tell them we are heading to engage the Klingons.” She looked up at Shanthi, though Benq stood beside him she ignored his presence altogether. “Commander, what do you know of D’aka’s?”

    “Their fairly new to the imperial fleet, from what we’ve been able to ascertain, their fast and well-armed. They’re an assault ship, they can arrive ahead of the bulk of the Klingon fleet, soften up a target before battlecruisers hit it full force. What they have in speed they lack in manoeuvrability, but with multiple disruptor batteries along their hull they’re pretty much covered from every angle of attack.”

    “Did you get that, Lieutenant K’Bentayr?”

    “Confirmed Captain. I’d recommend we aim for the neck sever, or at least damage, that and they shouldn’t be much of a threat.”

    The Deltan nodded. “Target at your discretion. Robbins, ETA?”

    “Fifteen-point-three minutes.”

    * * * * *​

    Gold Leader, 18th Fighter Wing
    Drakonis Sector


    They were down to five fighters and Buck’s cockpit was filling up with toxic smoke. Before all but one of Red Flight had been taken out, they had managed to cripple Limpy’s impulse engines, leaving the warship dead in the water—which only seemed to enrage the Klingon gunners as they increased their fire six-fold.

    His own Flight hadn’t been able to get anywhere near the second ship, their targeting was too good. He’d had to launch most of his missiles to try and blind them momentarily, but even that hadn’t been enough. Glancing blows and impacts with the remains of other fighters had seen his warp drive and phaser cannon rendered useless, whilst he’d lost power to the missile launch system—so the two he carried might as well have been baguettes for as useful as they were to him now, and his communications and sensor arrays had been destroyed. He was flying completely blind, with both arms and one leg tied behind his back.

    Coughing again, he fought down the urge to retch. His throat was already raw from breathing in the smoke/gas mix that was building up in the enclosed cockpit, eyes watering so badly he could barely see the dimly-lit instrument panel before him.

    There wasn’t much else he could do, which had led him to laying in the last course he ever would and pushing the throttle full forward. He was as good as dead, but before he started learning how to play the harp, he’d make sure that his last deed was to make those thick-headed Klingon bastards rue the day they decided to take on Starfleet.

    Buck wafted the smoke from before his eyes and watched as the D’aka grew steadily before him. He wasn’t sure just where he was going to crash into, he just hoped it was somewhere critical that would take out a good number of the so-called warriors onboard.

    Guess I’ll never know just what else to call you, Lieutenant Robbins, he mused to himself as the gunmetal-grey hull filled his viewport and cut off his last look at the stars.
     
  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Very good battle scenes. That was intense.
     
  13. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Wow! :eek: Commander Rogers laid it all on the line. I just hope the rest of his wing can survive.

    This was real edge-of-your-seat stuff, Bry! The tension was thick throughout and the stakes are still high. Here's hoping Renown can close the gap to the convoy in time to prevent a massacre.
     
  14. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Chapter Five


    Bridge, U.S.S. Alexander
    Drakonis Sector


    The Alexander dropped out of warp with a volley of torpedoes.

    Captain Jaffari Xa-Haghaarn watched as each one pounded against the nearest D’aka, one whose port nacelle and impulse exhaust were both dark. He smiled to himself as the cruiser shook under their assault. After their first engage with the Klingons had fallen apart, their standing orders were to head for New Tokyo and aid in its defence, but following their all too brief battle, those orders hadn’t sat well with him—something had gotten his hackles up and he’d decided to follow his instinct.

    The Klingons would know they would evacuate the colonists. Part of their campaign was as much about spreading terror among the civilian population along the border, as it was seizing territory, but due to the evacuation they’d only be facing tactically-trained Starfleeters on Drakonis IV. He’d had a hunch that they would send some ships after the convoy, to cause as much damage as possible and further traumatise the survivors, who would spread that fear wherever they went, and severely wound morale.

    Besides, he owed Naya.

    “I’ve got five fighters on my screen,” stated Lieutenant Matheson, the humourless science officer he’d inherited from the Alexander’s original complement.

    “One is on a collision course with the other cruiser!” Sabine Cedrac, his new Exec, interjected from the helm/nav console before him. “One faint lifesign onboard.”

    He punched then intercom. “Transporter room, lock onto that pilot and beam him aboard. Enax drop shields for transport.”

    It was risky, making themselves vulnerable for just one being, but Xa-Haghaarn didn’t believe as the Vulcans did, he saw every life as important—especially those who were willing to take crazy risks to save others (which was why he’d taken an immediate liking to Naya).

    “Shields down.”

    The Klingons seized the moment, both ships opened fire on their new target. Cedrac kept the destroyer ducking and weaving, narrowly avoiding the jade blasts of energy. His private smile crept wider on his face, the new lieutenant commander shone through during the six days they’d been onboard the Alexander, a worthy replacement for Commander Keeva—who was with the rest of the task force heading for New Tokyo.

    It took only nine seconds for comm officer Wen to announce the transport was complete, but it was a harrowing nine seconds in which the ship shook twice from glancing blows.

    “Raise screens. Bring us back around for another pass; focus all weapons on the first ship—we’ll deal with it before taking on its friend.”

    “Aye Captain,” the two women seated in front of him called out and set to work.

    “Remaining fighters are forming up on our flanks, sir,” Matheson reported, looking into his viewer.

    Xa-Haghaarn nodded. The Wildcat-Class fighters were a welcome addition to their firepower, though he dreaded to think how many had been lost in their fight against the two attack ships. As they bore down on the badly damaged Klingon ship, he gripped his armrests as the two hostiles bombarded them. He would’ve liked longer to get to know the ship and the abundance of new crewmembers before going into battle with them, twice in as many days, but that wasn’t a luxury he had.

    * * * * *​

    Bridge, U.S.S. Renown
    Drakonis Sector


    “It’s the Alexander!” Farog exclaimed.

    Naya found herself releasing a pent up breath. When the junior lieutenant had announced the arrival of another ship, she had prepared herself for the worst. Thankfully she had been wrong. Now they were in a better position to take on the Klingons—though they were far from relaxing, the attack ships would make them fight harder than before. The raptors had been harder than she’d suspected, but they would be used to taking on stronger ships. The Renown’s shields were holding at seventy percent and they were down ten torpedoes, but other than that they were in good shape.

    Watching her new crew in action filled her chest with a glowing sense of pride, she had managed to find some truly exceptional men, women and others.

    An alarm from navigation drew her attention and shackled the feeling. Robbins took a second to look at it then glanced over her shoulder.

    “The second D’aka has leapt back to warp!”

    “Munro—” she began.

    “Altering course to intercept,” he stated without needing to be told. “Weapons range in five-point-nine minutes.

    “They’ll reach the convoy in five minutes twenty seconds,” stated the navigator.

    “Bridge to engineering. We need more speed.”

    “Okoga here, Captain. You’ve got all I can give you. Anything more and we risk an overload in the warp plasma network.”

    “Understood. Bridge out.” Silently she cursed. The convoy would be defenceless for over thirty seconds before they could get within range to take a shot, then they would need time to take out its weaponry—during all of which the convoy were completely at their mercy. She stood and turned to face ch’Vahras at the back of the bridge. “Lieutenant, can you get through to the other Flights or the Masada?”

    “I’m trying to get through now, sir.”

    “Captain,” Shanthi spoke up from his console, “it looks like one of the remaining Flights is breaking off from the convoy and advancing on the cruiser.”

    “Hopefully they can slow that ship down long enough for us to intercept.”

    “I’ve got the Masada, sir. No lucky with the fighters—even the secure link is scrambled.”

    “Understood. On screen.”

    The main viewer shifted from the streaking stars to the image of a bulky Rigelian-Chelon, its tough hide and thick shell was a light grey-green colour, its face as expressionless as a chunk of marble.

    “Thank the Mother, you made it back in time,” Jetaran stated without sounding all that relieved—or anxious for that matter.

    “Not quite ‘in time’, we’re thirty seconds behind the Klingons. I’m counting on those fighters slowing them down. If they can’t, you will be under heavy fire.”

    “We are prepared to engage the Klingons.”

    Naya shook her smooth head. “I doubt phase cannons will make much of an impact on their shields. I’d recommend throwing every microwatt of power you can spare into your deflectors, hold out for as long as you can.”

    Jetaran hesitated a moment then craned its neck upwards, a Chelon gesture of agreement and trust. “Understood. I will relay your instructions.”

    “It may also be advisable to tell the other ships that can go above warp four to do so—we can try to save as many lives as possible.”

    “Acknowledged. Masada out.”

    Naya hated the thought of leaving the five tugs to face the cruiser alone, especially when they held the bulk of the evacuees, but she had to be pragmatic. None of the other transports were armed so wouldn’t be able to do anything to help when the Klingons opened fire, they would just putting the hundreds of lives at risk if they stayed.

    “The other transports are pulling ahead of the tugs, sir,” Farog stated sombrely.

    There was a moment of silence on the bridge, the loudest thing to be heard was the wheezing of Benq who was just out of her peripheral vision on her right. All of them, from Benq down to Crewman Reyes at environmental, knew what the five Ptolemy-Class ships were facing and none of them were about to overlook the distinct possibility that the Renown might not make it in time.

    Robbins looked up from her console and towards the viewscreen, which displayed the fuzzy image of the D’aka. “The fighters are about to enter weapons range.”

    They bridge crew watched as the six fighters appeared on the viewscreen and opened up with a salvo of missiles. The attack ship’s shields flared with the multiple impacts but remained unscathed. A second after the last impact, its disruptor banks belched out pulses of energy, the lead fighter took a hit straight on and was reduced to little more that dust, but the others managed to break formation and scatter. The fierce Wildcat’s opened fire with their phaser cannons, but each hit fizzled out against the cruisers shields. Another volley of disruptor beams lit up the blackness of space, all but one missed, the lucky shot tore the fighter into two.

    The fighters fell back and paired up, coming in on different vectors, combining their firepower to try and punch their way through. The tactic worked, with a couple of shots getting through where the warship’s deflectors were already weakened. The successful hits made the Klingons angry, another wave of energy blasts were launched at the approaching fighters. One pairing took hits, one in the aft section, killing its engines, the second had it starboard wing sheared off and the underside of its hull scorched. Both were out of the brief battle.

    Naya sat forward watching the last two. So far, none of their efforts had led to the warship slowing down, which meant they were still a very real danger to the trailing members of the convoy. She doubted there was much the last two could do, other than suicide runs.

    It looked as though the remaining pilots had come to the same conclusion. They accelerated and plunged towards the forward command section.

    They never made it.

    A barrage of shots took the fighters out before they could get anywhere near the hull. Naya closed her eyes and dipped her head, giving a silent prayer to their valiant effort. It was now all on the Renown, as the last Flight of fighters would hardly fare any better—this crew was determined to carry out their campaign of terror and it looked doubtful that anything would keep them from it.

    “Sir,” Thor spoke up from the behind her. She opened her eyes and looked back at him. “The Alexander reports they’ve crippled the other ship and are en route to assist. However, they’re several minutes behind us.”

    “Acknowledge the signal, Lieutenant.”

    “Captain, the tugs are dropping out of warp!” called Farog, surprise notching his voice up a few octaves.

    “What?” asked Benq.

    “They may be hauling two or three pods, but at least at impulse they can have some kind of manoeuvrability,” replied Naya, speaking from experience. Trying to move any ship at warp was difficult but at sublight speeds, even with their significant mass, the tugs wouldn’t be sitting ducks. It would also give the fighters the edge as well, able to engage in more intricate attack patterns.

    “The Klingons will be on them in fifty seconds,” announced Farog. “We’re seventy-two seconds out.”

    “Mr Munro, drop us out of warp as soon as we’re in weapons range and head straight for the Klingons, maximum impulse. Make it look as though we’re going to ram them.”

    The towering helmsman spun around to look at her, his face a question.

    She gave him a faint smile. “I want to force them to break off their attack on the convoy. If these Klingons care for their own honour or for victory, they won’t let us crash into them. They’ll take evasive and come at us.”

    A smile crept across Munro’s face. “We ram the fight down their throats,” he mused.

    “If that’s how you want to put it, Mr Munro.” Satisfied, he turned back to his station and input his new orders. “Lieutenant K’Bentayr, open up with prolonged fire from all forward phaser banks. Hold back on torpedoes until we have weakened their shields.”

    “Confirmed Captain.”

    “The fighters have assumed a defensive position,” stated Shanthi. “The tugs have increased their deflector strength to between one hundred ten and one hundred twenty-five percent; though with the size of their shield bubbles, I don’t foresee them holding out for very long.”

    Naya looked past the Commodore to her first officer. “They won’t, not against a ship like that. Have damage control and medical response teams ready to deploy to the tugs, as soon as the D’aka is out of commission.”

    He gave a single nod. “Aye sir.”

    There was a moment’s pause. The crew all waiting for what was about to happen, readying themselves for another battle.

    “Klingons have dropped out of warp,” announced Robbins.

    “Fighters are engaging,” added Farog. “The D’aka isn’t retaliating, they are maintaining course for the convoy.”

    “I’ve got a visual.”

    “On screen, Mr Thor.”

    Several of the junior crew members looked away from their displays, as Naya and Benq scrutinised the scene. The fighters were pulling some tight manoeuvres, opening fire with everything they had, but the warship brushed it off and remained on target for the ill-equipped convoy—even the hits that managed to get through their shields to the metal hull beneath. Seconds after they’d dropped out of warp, the attack ship launched a volley of torpedoes for the tugs. Half the fighters broke off and targeted the projectiles, but they weren’t fast enough to get all of them. Over half slammed into the refugee ships.

    Someone gasped when they witnessed two photons carve into one of the Ptolemy’s saucer. The tug commanders were obviously experienced with the ship-type, keeping them angled so the dorsal saucer protected as much of the pods as it could. It was a tactic she had used once when under attack from an Orion merc ship—though it kept the pod relatively safe it was a gamble as it exposed the bridge.

    “Fifteen seconds.”

    “Stand ready.”

    Naya gripped her armrest, watching as another burst of torpedoes hammered against weakening shields, one taking out a fighter before reaching the convoy. Robbins counted down the passing seconds, each one seeming to last longer than the one that preceded it. All the while the tugs deflector screens were fading fast.

    “Three. Two. One.”

    The Renown lurched forward as it dropped out of warp, simultaneously followed by the sound of the phasers discharging. On the viewscreen, six cobalt beams slammed into the warship and kept on going. The D’aka grew larger on the screen as the starship barrelled towards it. Unlike the fighters, the Renown wasn’t an annoyance they could ignore. Their aft disruptors came to bear and unloaded.

    “Forward screens holding at fifty-five percent,” called Shanthi.

    “Maintain course, continue firing.”

    “It’s working! Klingons are pulling to port.” Farog’s surprise was short-lived. “They’re targeting multiple disruptor ports at us.”

    “Evasive pattern theta-two. Ready aft torpedoes.”

    The Starfleet cruiser banked to port, right across the bow of the warship, continuing with forward phasers until they were out of their firing arc. The Klingons opened fire on their ventral hull, ignoring the nacelles and going for the stardrive section—with all the crucial technology and systems it contained. The Renown pulled away and the Klingons stayed with them. K’Bentayr locked the aft targeting scanners onto the command module and awaited s’his orders.

    Naya leaned forward slightly. “Fire.”

    Originally, the Armstrong-Class had just a single aft torpedo launcher but after their brief refit, the Renown now had two, each one capable of holding four torpedoes before needing to be reloaded. Lieutenant K’Bentayr let loose with all eight. Unlike the raptors, the D’aka wasn’t nimble enough to evade them. Each casing, with its destructive combination of matter and antimatter found its target. The first three crashed into the shields, opening up a hole for the other five to smash into the command section of the warship, including its own launcher.

    The effects were nearly instantaneous. As the Starfleet projectile destroyed their launcher, it breached the storage magazine and the dozens of torpedoes it housed, setting them all off. In a matter seconds, the entire forward section of the D’aka was gone. The loss of their command and control systems sent the ship careering off course, tumbling over itself as it was set adrift.

    “Scan for other Klingon ships,” she ordered, perching herself once again on the edge of her chair.

    Farog took a long moment staring into his viewer, before he finally looked across at her. “No hostiles in range, sir.”

    Naya had to fight to keep herself from slumping back into her seat, physically and emotionally drained. Instead, she looked back down at Munro. “Helm, swing us around and take us back to the convoy. Lieutenant K’Bentayr, secure all tactical systems, but keep them on standby. Commander,” she said, turning to her exec, “relief team status?”

    “There are ten teams prepped and ready. Sickbay is standing by to receive casualties. With your permission, Captain, I’ll be leading the first team.”

    “Granted, Number One.”
     
  15. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Another superbly written battle sequence - glad that Renown made it through in time to save the convoy from destruction!

    And Buck Rogers lives! I never had any doubts (well . . . maybe some doubts.) :alienblush:

    Yet while Alexander and Renown scratch out hard-fought victories, the Klingon advance continues. The tide is a long way from turning.
     
  16. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Chapter Six


    Captain’s log, Stardate 2242.326.

    It’s been twenty-four hours since our last contact with the Klingons, so far we have detected no further signs of them. I cannot fully express my pride in the crew, their bravery and gallantry went beyond my expectations. Even now, they are working with the crew of the Masada to see to repairs, whilst all the injured from, the tug are being treated in our sickbay. Of the five tugs, they came out the worst, though fortunately their casualties were light. No civilians were injured during the battle, though many are shaken up.

    The Alexander has corralled the rest of the convoy and brought them back under control. Captain Xa-Haghaarn says he’ll be remaining with us until we reach Starbase Eight—which is fortunate, given that our fighter escort has been reduced to seven active ships. Fortunately, Lieutenant Commander Rodgers was rescued by the Alexander and has since been transferred to our sickbay. Due to the engagement with the Klingons, our ETA has been pushed back by twenty hours.

    We have received word that New Tokyo has fallen. The task force was able to beat the Klingons back for a little under two hours, long enough to evacuate the outpost of remaining Starfleet personnel, but they were faced with six-against-one odds so they were forced to pull out of the Drakonis System. They will rendezvous with the convoy and provide further escort en route to Starbase Eight.

    * * * * *​

    Sickbay, U.S.S. Renown
    En Route to Starbase 8, Drakonis Sector


    With her shift over, Robbins headed to sickbay to see a certain patient. The medical facility was busier than usual; they had taken on the twenty injured Rigelians from the Masada as well as the pilots who had been recovered from the damage fighters. The officer she’d come to visit was among the latter.

    She nodded at the duty nurse, who waved her through and carried on with his duties. Slipping quietly into the ICU ward, she made her way over to the far bed, where Ethan “Buck” Rodgers was resting, hooked up to a special respirator to help treat the chemical burns his throat and lungs had taken. The monitor above his bed showed all his vitals to be stable and strong, not surprising given the great physical condition of the fighter jockey.

    Robbins wasn’t exactly sure of his condition, he’d been unconscious when he’d been beamed aboard, but she wasn’t sure if that was still the case or if he was just resting. She hadn’t planned on staying long, just see that he was stable and then head to the recreation room, a request made by Commander Shanthi.

    Looking down on his handsome face, she remembered the relief she’d felt hearing that he was alive, quickly followed by kicking herself at having her interest peaked by a pretty face and a pair of dimples. On her way to sickbay, she’d shaken the thought from her, trying to convince herself that it was merely concern for a fellow officer (and a superior one at that) who had risked it all to safeguard thousands of lives—if he happened to be attractive and nicely fill out a fitted flight suit was beside the point.

    She frowned as she looked at him. Damn the man, she cussed silently and turned to leave.

    “Going so soon, Lieutenant Robbins?” he asked, eyes still closed.

    She stopped and looked back at him. A smile grew behind the mask he wore over the lower half of his face as he opened his eyes and looked up at her.

    “I’m glad to see you’re concussion wasn’t serious, Commander.”

    “Buck.”

    “I didn’t want to disturb you, Commander, I’ll leave. Let you rest.”

    “Buck,” he repeated.

    She sighed. “Alright, Buck.”

    His smile widened, dimples deepened. “So, after all I’ve been through, does that earn me the privilege of finding out your name is?”

    Robbins had to chuckle. He was not lacking in confidence. It wasn’t that she hated her name, in fact she rather liked it, it had been used by Robbins women for generations, unfortunately, ever since they entered space any Robbins who was given it had suffered a rather abrupt end; including a great-great-aunt, her grandmother, and an aunt. She wasn’t about to change it, but she hoped to deflect as much of the ‘Robbins curse’ as she could be using it sparingly. As such, there were only a handful outside of her family that knew it and even fewer who ever called her by it.

    She wasn’t sure if Buck would be one of the latter, but he could indeed be one of the former.

    “If you repeat what I am about to tell you, I know ways to make you hurt in places you never knew you had.”

    Buck laughed a couple of times before he coughed. Once it had eased he placed one hand on his chest and held the other one. “You have my word, Lieutenant, as an officer and a gentleman.”

    Looking around quickly, she moved in beside his bed and leaned in close to his ear, her jet-black hair lightly brushing against his face as she whispered it to him. She then moved back to look at his face again.

    “Thank you, Lieutenant Robbins,” he said with a wink.

    She resisted the urge to rest a hand on his bare shoulder. “Get some rest, Buck. I expect to see you on your feet by the time we get to Starbase Eight.”

    He gave her a mock salute. “Aye ma’am.”

    Robbins straightened up and headed for the exit, but was stopped when he called out, “Lieutenant. For the record, I like it.”

    She gave him a soft smile and headed out of the ward, missing him pumping the air with his fist and a contented look on his face.

    * * * * *​

    Senior Officer Quarters, U.S.S. Renown
    En Route to Starbase Eight, Drakonis Sector


    Commander Shanthi had called all the senior staff and as many as the crew as could be told discretely to meet in the rec room, he had something planned for the Captain. Nathan Munro had decided to hit the gym before he needed to be in attendance, so he could shower, change and then enjoy the rest of his evening. As he’d been pummelling the bag again, he’d had a chance to think about what the XO had said to him, as well as what he’d witnessed firsthand over the last couple of days.

    He had underestimated the Captain. She had proven to be effective against the raptors and the D’aka, her tactics clear and decisive. But then again, the Klingons had far stronger ships in the Imperial Navy, ones that would prove to be a far bigger threat to the Renown, and the Captain’s tactics wouldn’t work against them. Time would tell how she fared against them, though Munro’s estimates of their surviving such an engagement, with a Deltan in command, were improving.

    The enunciator sounded.

    “Come in,” he called from the small bedroom.

    He heard the doors open in the other room and poked his head around the corner. Tirinathorshan ch’Vahras stood in the other, equally small, room dressed in a muted-grey tunic and dark trousers—the Andorian was someone who didn’t like to attract too much attention, as it could distract others and interfere with his hobby of ‘people watching’, where he observed behaviour and mannerisms in conjuncture with communications, studying the subtle nuances that could say more than even the greatest speech. He’d published a paper on the matter to high regard (among certain circles) and, as a good friend, Munro had read it. He’d been impressed by all the work Thor had put into it, after which he’d taken away some key points on how to try and hide the unspoken things his body said.

    Munro, on the other hand, had no problem with being noticed. Standing at over two meters tall, he was generally head and shoulders above others, so naturally stood out. Just to make sure, he always liked to make a statement with his wardrobe, so for the gathering in the rec room (which had a long-standing tradition of no uniforms allowed), he had opted for a purple and green jumpsuit. Thor had no reaction on seeing him—he’d wore far worse during the six years they’d served on the Renown together.

    “All set?” Munro asked, sitting down and pulling on his boots.

    “I am indeed,” replied Thor, though he looked a little pensive. Munro paused and looked at his friend. As much of an expert he was in studying the body language, mannerisms and expressions of others, Thor was useless at hiding them himself. “Nathan, can I ask…” he trailed off.

    “You can ask me anything, Thor, you know that.”

    “Are you willing to accept the Captain now?”

    “To be honest, I’ve been thinking about that matter ever since we stood down from battle stations,” he admitted. “Against four raptors and a D’aka, she did well, I’ll give her that. I will also concede that I won’t just write her off because she’s a Deltan. But as for how she’d do on a full-blown battlefield, going up again every D-type battlecruiser the Klingons have, ordered to fight to the last man? I just don’t know.

    “Let’s just say I’m not about to jump ship,” he continued. “I’m willing to show her a little faith.”

    Thor thought for a moment and nodded, a faint smile creeping across his face. “I’m glad to hear you’re willing to keep an open mind—if nothing else.”

    Munro finished with his footwear and stood up, clapping the Andorian on the shoulder. “Isn’t this where you tell me how right you were about her and how wrong I was? Followed up by the ‘I told you so’ dance?”

    “Me? No. But I believe Robbins has been practicing.”

    Groaning as they left his quarters, Munro hung his head heavily. “You’d think for someone so smart, she wouldn’t take quite as much pleasure in being right so often.”

    “She never says anything though, all she does is smile.”

    “Exactly!” his exclamation echoed down the corridor. “It’s always that coy little smile that barely registers, but says it all! I’d be happier if she did do a dance and rub her intelligence in my face, anything would be better than that smile!”

    “So you want her to rub her ‘intelligence’ in your face, is that what humans are calling it these days?”

    Munro had to laugh. As infuriating as Thor could be at times, he did have a way of diffusing the situation—especially when Munro was getting himself worked up. It was one of the things that had bonded the two men together, though they couldn’t be more different.

    “There is one way you could stop The Smile.”

    “How’s that?”

    “Stop being wrong so often.”

    “Sounds easy enough,” he conceded as they stepped into a turbolift and ordered it down to the rec room.

    * * * * *​

    Recreation Room, U.S.S. Renown
    En Route to Starbase Eight, Drakonis Sector


    Trying to keep secrets from a telepath was never an easy thing to do. Even when not actively scanning and trying to block direct thoughts, Naya still picked up on impressions, feelings and memories that bubbled to the surface. Often it was just a jumble and she was unable to pick out anything specific, but when multiple people were having the same or similar thoughts then they would come though stronger.

    As such, she knew Shanthi was planning something in the rec room, something he wanted to keep from her. Exactly what was a mystery, but when he paged her, asking to meet in the off-duty section of the ship, she knew it was time to face whatever it was that he had set up.

    She was dressed simply, a fluttering backless dress of sheye (an iridescent silvery-white fabric from her homeworld), it ended just below her knees, was held up by the thinnest of straps around the nape of her neck. It wasn’t the most ‘captainy’ article of clothing she had, but after the stress of the last week, she wanted to feel the comforts of home—a subtle reminder of one of the many things she would be fighting for in this war.

    On the walk to the rec room, the corridors had been suspiciously devoid of personnel. She would have to tell Shanthi, if he planned anything else, to at least attempt a visage of normality—so as to not give the game away.

    When she reached the rec room and stepped through the opening doors, she was forced back by a wave of applause and cheers and whoops. The sheer noise startled her so, that it took a few moments for the scene before her to register. The recreation room, one of the largest spaces onboard the Renown, which was intended to comfortably hold up to seventy people at the various tables, couches and benches, was filled to capacity and then some. It looked as though the entirety of the two shifts not on duty had been shoehorned in.

    It was the first time she had seen so many of her new crew together in one place, all of them looking at her and making as much noise as they possibly could. A few of them stuck out (K’Bentayr was definitely the strangest looking in the mix, whilst Munro seemed to have gone out of his way to be seen), others she spotted after a few moments scrutiny, but there were too many faces without names. She knew that in war, losses were to be expected, even anticipated, and that if she grew too attached then they would be tough to take—her mourning for those lost on the Ptolemy was proof of that—but she couldn’t, wouldn’t, allow any of those who were strangers before her remain as such.

    Shanthi, who stood at the front of the contingent, stepped forward and held up his hand. Slowly, silence rippled through the throng of people.

    “Captain,” he began, his deep baritone filling what little space was left in the room, “it dawned on me, you never received a proper welcome after you assumed command of this fine ship and her even finer crew. Given our current state of war, such an oversight is understandable but not unforgettable. Since it may only be a few days until we are called upon to do our duty to defend the Federation, we must seize this respite for what it is and give you a welcome fitting for the ‘Hero of Tighe’.”

    “Three cheers for the Captain,” Kosk Okoga called out.

    Her eardrums took another pounding as almost two-thirds of her crew gave her three cheers, followed by another thunder of claps. Though none of it was louder than the beating of her own heart. She had never been so truly touched as she was at that moment. Grinning from ear to ear, she successfully managed to hold in her tears, though she did dab at her moistening eyes.

    Once it had quietened down again, she looked out at the sea of faces, lost for words. She looked at Shanthi, who was beaming, and could only think that she would have to get him back for this in some way.

    When she finally found her voice once again it was a little shaky. “The only thing I can think to say is thank you. To each and every one of you, thank you. We have made it through our trial by fire in one piece, but it will only get harder from here. But as I look out at so many of you, I know that each of us will give it our all.”

    The following round of applause threatened to deafen her. It was quickly followed by several of the crew coming forward to shake her hand and give her their personal greetings and gratitude. As they did, she learnt their names and swore to herself that she would give all that she had and all that she was to keep these men, women and others safe, for as long as she was Captain of the Renown.

    * * * * *​

    END
     
  17. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Another solid chapter and story in the Renown saga! I enjoyed the interludes between Lt. Robbins and Buck Rodgers (so, what is her first name?) and between Thor and Munro along with the party for the Captain - little slices of "normal" life while the fighting is still distant. The news of the fall of New Tokyo was a grim reminder, however, that there still is a war on. No doubt Renown will soon be back in the thick of it.
     
  18. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Glad you liked it TLR. I had to make sure I got it finished this weekend as I'm on a wee jaunt to the mainland and so won't be writing for week, so didn't want to leave anyone hanging.

    I would tell, but she's threatened to do unspeakable things to me if I do--the good Lieutenant can be rather dark when she wants to be :)

    Away on Wednesday, but got too much to do between now and then, back at my keyboard from the 9th, so will hopefully have a fresh story brewing away by then.
     
  19. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Safe journey, then. I've two more chapters to wrap up the introductory Saratoga story, then on to a new mission in the 4YW.
     
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    A nice ending to a very good story. You did solid work with the action/battle scenes and the character moments. I finally got that Robbins is Number One from "The Cage". Very cool to include her. I hope you have a good trip and look forward to seeing what's next.