Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Jun 5, 2020.
Wow, what a powerful and beautifully written scene. And a creative solution to their sticky dilemma.
Getting caught up again.
As usual, Pava, along with Sandhurst’s ingenuity, illustrates why the Gibraltar team is so formidable.
Liking the set up here, too. Both ships are outdated with under par weapons. It then becomes a contest of wits and mettle between the respective crews. And we just saw how that turned out. (See above.)
Certainly one of the most courteous opening moments to an impending death and torture session I've ever come across.
Pava might be an animal, but he also knows how to keep it classy.
I had meant to mention this earlier, but Pava's scene with ch'Laran was very reminiscent of his visit to the Aman cube with his more "personal" booby trap in what I can only think of his and Sandhurst's "prime" timeline. I can only assume that was intentional. Perhaps personalities and egos of a particular individual can stray only so far from a baseline, regardless of their differing experiences in parallel realities, and are inevitably bound to mirror one another, after a fashion, if through a somewhat warped glass.
That's fascinating to me, and an excellent parallel. Strangely, it's not the one I had in my head when I wrote the scene. This was meant (to me, at least) to evoke Pava's battle with Galmesh after the Klingon Maquis leader killed Commander Ariel Elannis in The Chains of Error. Granted, the precursor to that struggle was nowhere near as civilized.
Ah, yes, of course. I should have seen that, too. But, both can be true. Clearly, Pava has a flair for such encounters.
* * *
Sandhurst was waiting for him in the transporter room when he returned.
Lar’ragos materialized on the pad, looking bruised and disheveled. His face and uniform were streaked with emerald smears of Romulan blood.
Sandhurst stepped out from behind the enclosed operator’s booth. “Success?”
Lar’ragos stepped down off the dais, extending his hand to drop an isolinear chip into Sandhurst’s hand. “The Romulan fleet’s offensive plan for Federation space and all contingencies thereof.”
Sandhurst looked down, finding his own hand now sticky from the green blood coagulating on the iso-chip. “Good work,” was all he could bring himself to say.
Sandhurst stepped back into the operator’s booth and energized the transporter again. This time, a vaguely cylindrical device materialized in midair, held aloft in a suspensor field. A host of severed cables and energy conduits dangled from the object.
The transporter cycled again and the device vanished. Sandhurst opened a comm-channel to the ship’s engineering section. “Sandhurst to Lieutenant Ashok. A Romulan cloaking device has just been delivered to maintenance bay two. Please begin a diagnostic analysis of the device. I’ll be down presently to help you install it.”
With that prize safely aboard, Sandhurst keyed in the detonation code for the photon torpedo still sitting in the Romulan ship commander’s cabin, deep within the warship.
“Bridge to Captain Sandhurst,” T’Ser’s voice called out.
“Go ahead,” he answered with a tap of his combadge.
“Captain, the recon probe outside the rings just picked up an explosion at the location of the Romulan warbird. It appears the enemy ship may have been destroyed.”
“Acknowledged,” Sandhurst replied coolly. “Vector the probe to that location to confirm the ship has been completely neutralized.”
With his tasks accomplished, Sandhurst stepped out of the operator’s booth to approach Lar’ragos. “You’re angry with me,” he surmised.
“The Treaty of Algeron?” Lar’ragos asked with a broad gesture, his face displaying skepticism and confusion.
“Let’s just say it went up in flames, along with over a billion of our people. Hell, Starfleet Command is installing Klingon cloaking devices on every ship in the Sixth Fleet as we speak. But I’m guessing that’s really not what’s bothering you, is it?”
“You sent me to torture and murder a good man,” Lar’ragos spat accusingly.
“I sent you to secure valuable information on the enemy forces currently raining death upon Federation citizens in their homes on a dozen worlds,” Sandhurst corrected.
Lar’ragos countered, “There was no way a Romulan officer would or could ever cooperatively surrender that information.”
“His choice,” Sandhurst replied icily. “He chose to participate in waging total war on the Federation. In so doing he accepted the potential consequences of that decision.”
His hands clenched into fists, Lar’ragos turned away from Sandhurst lest he give in to the urge to strike his captain. “He was a promising officer with little ambition given command of an outdated ship with a middling crew during a crisis. Sound familiar?”
“I’m not blind to the parallels,” Sandhurst admitted, “but they’re immaterial. That warbird was sent to destroy us, regardless of how charming or compelling the ship’s captain was. He’d have done the same to us in a heartbeat given the opportunity.”
Lar’ragos lowered his head, trying desperately to center himself. “The next time you fill your own butcher’s bill, Captain.”
Sandhurst cocked his head. “We’re at war, Lieutenant. As the captain of this ship, I will decide when and where your particular skills are best put to use. The information you’ve gleaned from our enemy is invaluable, and the cloaking device we’ve retrieved will assist us in making sure that information makes it to Starfleet Command intact. We might just have saved billions of lives.”
“At what cost?” Lar’ragos pondered aloud.
“This from the man who once told me that the Federation and what it represents must be preserved at all costs?” Sandhurst marveled. “The Federation is under threat this very moment!”
“This is a pattern with us, you and I,” Lar’ragos said softly, his gaze fixed on some point far beyond the bulkhead he stared at.
“What are you talking about?”
Lar’ragos turned to look at him. “You, sending me to do your dirty work. It doesn’t seem to matter what version of reality we inhabit, the result is the same.”
“Look, I’m sorry it came to this, I really am. If I thought I could have got the information from him, I’d have gone myself. We both know I lack your… talents. These are desperate times, Pava.”
The El Aurian turned without another word and walked out of the compartment.
* * *
The starship Intrepid had dispatched three warbirds in quick succession, which itself was a feat worthy of note. An older Excelsior-class ship, Intrepid was a testbed for integrating 24th century technology into older era starships, and had been equipped with bio-neural circuitry, enhanced shields and weapons on par with those of a Galaxy-class. Added to those advantages was the fact that Intrepid’s captain, one Jason Aubrey, was a gifted tactician of some renown within the ranks of Starfleet.
To whit: Intrepid was far more formidable than other vessels of her same class. That had proven an unwelcome surprise to the Romulans.
However, the ship had sustained significant damage in her fight with the four warbirds that had ambushed her. One D’deridex-class and two older-generation warbirds had fallen prey to Intrepid’s potent weapons and maneuverability, but the newer Valdore-class warship leading their squadron had proven both vexingly nimble and rugged.
The bridge bucked and then seemed to tilt crazily as the inertial-dampers were forced to reset in response to the savage blow delivered by the Romulans. A fortunately unmanned console ringing the bridge’s upper level exploded as power surges arced through the battered ship’s EPS system.
“Torpedo strike, secondary hull, near main engineering,” said Commander Shantok, the ship’s unflappable Vulcan first officer. “Shields failing on the port-aft quarter, and that hit has caused hull buckling and localized systems outages on—”
“Thank you, Commander,” Aubrey said brusquely. “Please alert damage control teams in that area.” He turned to glance back at Lt. Commander Adol at his Tactical station. The Andorian was working his console like a concert pianist, firing weapons, remodulating shield grids, and communicating critical battle information to the helm officer.
“Mister Adol, we need to end this quickly. If we don’t finish them in the next sixty seconds we’ll need to at least cripple their engines so we can tactically un-ass the area.”
“Doing my best, sir,” Adol replied without bothering to look up from his displays. “The shields on that bird are stronger than I’d anticipated after how quickly the D’deridex went down.” He called forward to the helm officer, “Sorna, I need you to get me a clear firing angle on their starboard nacelle.”
“On it, sir,” the youthful woman replied, sending the ship into a tight roll while accelerating up the z-axis towards the similarly wheeling warbird.
Another flurry of disruptor bolts and phaser beams criss-crossed the vacuum between the ships, further punishing flagging shields and drawing much needed power away from other priority systems on both craft.
Four photon torpedoes launched by Adol at the enemy arced towards the madly maneuvering warbird, only to be intercepted by disruptor pulses thousands of meters from their target.
Adol barked an Andorian curse. “Their point-defense disruptors are too good. I can’t land a hit with torpedoes.”
Aubrey spun in his chair to face the Tactical station at the back of the bridge. “I don’t need excuses, mister, I need results.”
“Incoming torpedoes,” Shantok announced stoically. She toggled the intra-ship. “All hands, brace for impact.”
Aubrey turned back towards the viewscreen. “Ensign Sorna—“
“Trying, sir!” she gasped, throwing Intrepid hard over to avoid the incoming ordinance.
One of the torpedoes missed. The second detonated against their failing forward shields, opening a gap that allowed the third torpedo unimpeded access to Intrepid’s port engine nacelle. The missile struck the Bussard collector head-on in a high-speed impact that carried down half the length of the nacelle, blasting apart warp toroids and their injectors.
The bridge lurched violently with the blow, throwing some standing personnel off their feet. Streamers of electrical current surged through the Ops console and into its unfortunate occupant, Lieutenant Pal. He emitted an involuntary shriek as his body spasmed in death throes. Other bridge consoles sparked and died, and red-tinged emergency lights cut through the wafting smoke.
“Port nacelle is destroyed,” was Shantok’s dispassionate assessment, her voice issuing from somewhere in the smokey crimson gloom. “We have lost warp power and the automatics have cut in to quench-block the primary warp reactor to prevent an overload.”
Sorna fought the controls, trying to bring the suddenly listless Intrepid back on course to provide Adol his best firing solution. “Helm is sluggish, sir,” she advised.
Aubrey referenced the console next to his chair. “Route emergency power to supplement the impulse engines and tie in the nav-thrusters. I want every bit of maneuverability you can give me.”
A chorus of affirmatives answered his orders as Aubrey struggled to get a sensor-fix on his flickering console.
“Ops, what’s their distance and bearing?” When there was no response, Aubrey looked up to see a petty officer leaning over Pal’s station, two fingers to the lieutenant’s neck.
“Pal’s dead, sir,” the petty officer announced.
Shantok provided, “Seventy-two kilometers, bearing two-eight-seven, mark one-one-nine, sir.”
On the main viewer a few sporadic phaser beams lashed out to strike the warbird’s shields, but nowhere near Intrepid’s usual volume of fire.
“Adol,” Aubrey called over his shoulder, “you still with us?”
“Yes, sir,” came the tactical officer’s reply, edged with flinty resolve.
“Maintain phaser fire, Mister Adol.”
“Trying, sir. The computer’s power-allocation priorities are conflicting. I’m drawing on the same auxiliary power for phasers that you want for the engines.”
Aubrey sighed, calling out, “Aubrey to Engineering.”
Another blast rocked the ship, and an entire console bank exploded outwards, showering the bridge with whirling bits of composite shrapnel. There were cries of pain from people on that side of the bridge and more than one figure collapsed.
“Disruptor strikes across the dorsal section of the primary hull,” Shantok called out in voice made hoarse from smoke inhalation. “We have lost multiple phaser emitters on that side of the saucer, Captain.”
“Damn it!” Aubrey growled from his seat as the viewer image displayed the slim silhouette of the attacking warbird approaching head on.
“Vessel decloaking,” Shantok observed.
“Klingons?” Aubrey asked hopefully.,
“No… no, sir, it’s—”
Another impact jolted Intrepid as green blasts of disruptor energy savaged the ship’s naked hull.
Aubrey slaved the helm to his now-functional console, calling, “I’m taking the stick, Mister Sorna.” He set a collision course with the approaching warbird, muttering, “If we go, we’re taking you bastards with us.”
Two photon torpedoes suddenly flashed in from an above-relative position, followed by a pair of quantum torpedoes and a flurry of phaser fire.
The already weakened Romulan shields collapsed under this unexpected onslaught, and the phasers lanced into the ship’s hull, rending great fiery holes into the warbird’s superstructure.
Aubrey coughed as he keyed in his priority authorization codes. “Adol, I’m routing all power to weapons. Finish them!”
Intrepid’s rejuvenated phasers and torpedoes raced downrange to join another volley from their unidentified allies, ending the warbird in a cataclysmic paroxysm of destruction.
On the bridge, the overtaxed atmospheric filters were finally beginning to draw away the choking miasma.
Aubrey stared at the viewscreen and had to blink several times to assure himself that he was actually seeing a Constitution-class starship. He hadn’t known there were any of those still in service. He could see hastily patched hull breaches scoring the Connie’s engineering hull, testament to recent combat, he was sure.
Aubrey stood from his chair and moved to where Lieutenant Pal sat lifeless at his duty station, his head lolled back and arms hanging limply at his sides. Curlicues of smoke still rose from his body. Yet another promising young officer taken far too soon, Aubrey reflected bitterly. He set his hand gently on Pal’s shoulder, leaning down to murmur, “I’m sorry, Douglas. You deserved better.”
“Incoming transmission from the other starship, sir. Her ID transponder isn’t on, but her hull registry identifies her as Gibraltar.” Adol informed Aubrey.
“Captain,” Shantok added, “this is the vessel that we saw decloaking.”
Aubrey forcibly pulled himself away from Pal and suppressed a wave of grief that he knew he would have to face sooner rather than later. “On screen,” he instructed in a voice thick with emotion.
An image of an older generation of circular bridge, one not dissimilar to his own, sprang to live on the viewer. A lean, gaunt looking Human male was seated in the captain’s chair. “Donald Sandhurst, starship Gibraltar,” the man said by way of greeting. “I regret we couldn’t get here sooner, Captain. We’ve been experiencing engine problems of our own.”
“You arrived just in time,” Aubrey responded, motioning for two med-techs who had just arrived on the bridge to remove Pal from the seat at the Ops station. Aubrey moved away from that console, holding eye contact with Sandhurst. “Jason Aubrey, USS Intrepid. You have our thanks, Captain Sandhurst.”
“We’re detecting wreckage from multiple enemy ships, Captain. What happened here?”
Aubrey returned to his command chair, seating himself slowly. “Intrepid and Veðrfölnir were responding to a distress call from the hospital ship Bethesda which had been reported as missing in this sector last week. We knew it might be a trap, but that ship had fifteen-hundred Starfleet, Marine and civilian wounded on board. We saw what appeared to be Bethesda on long-range sensors and I even spoke with her commanding officer… but it was all a ruse. The Romulans had generated a holographic decoy around a probe leaking drive plasma and radiation. Looked convincing as hell.”
Sandhurst closed his eyes briefly in shared pain. “They ambushed you.”
Aubrey nodded. “Four warbirds. Veðrfölnir fought fiercely, but three of them focused on her while the Valdore tangled with us. Once she was finished, it was four-to-one.”
Sandhurst was legitimately impressed. “I look forward to hearing the story in detail, Captain. In the meantime, I’ve got engineering and medical teams prepping to beam over as we speak.”
“We’ll gladly take any help you can offer,” Aubrey said gratefully. Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “The Sixth Fleet has made it out here already?”
“Sixth?” Sandhurst looked perplexed for a moment. “Oh, the cloak. No, Captain. We… uh… liberated a cloaking device from a Romulan warbird a few days ago. Seemed to be safer than roaming about all alone out here near the front lines.”
“It sounds as if we both have stories to tell, Captain,” Aubrey noted. “We’re standing by for your emergency teams.”
Sandhurst stood from his chair and stooped to pick up an engineering carryall. “I’ll see you soon, Captain Aubrey.”
* * *
Love the scene between Lar'ragos and Sandhurst. Again, reminiscent of others between the two, as suggested by Pava. The details may change, but the patterns seem to be set in time. Great battle scene with the Intrepid, and confirming that the events of "Treacherous Waters" never occurred - or at least not in the same way - in this timeline. Does that mean we may get to see a Captain Ramirez cameo at some point? Gibraltar with a cloak opens up a plethora of opportunities for mischief and adventure.
Anything's possible, although Liana already received a mention earlier in this tale:
Yes, I noticed that, and that she had been promoted to Captain in lieu of her untimely demise in the other timeline. That's what brought it to mind. She was always one of my favorite characters. Oh, who am I kidding? All your characters are my favorites.
I like this new addition. It's an even crazier universe and it's harder to live in it. I can't wait to see what happens next. By the way, I loved the addition of Aubrey and Intrepid.
A Romulan cloaking device on a Starfleet ship? This read like a greatest hits version of Trek. "The Gibraltar Incident", anyone?
I too enjoyed the Pava/Sandhurst confrontation. Difficult to fully side with anyone in that argument. Both men make good points.
Great Intrepid tie-in to boot!
It's the ages old question about the ends justifying the means, isn't it? How far it too far when you're locked into a war for survival and your entire country / world is in danger of being conquered or even destroyed? There have never been any easy answers. But it's interesting that Pave and Sandhurst are locking horns over the subject just as they did in the Prime Universe. As before, Pava is growing increasingly uncomfortable with his role as---in his view---Sandhurst's "attack dog". If this timeline continues, one could imagine that both of them will have a falling out that parallels events in our reality.
And, all personal bias aside, the Intrepid battle scene was one of the best I've ever read. It was even more of a nail-biter for me, since I wasn't sure if my guys were all going make it. Excellent job capturing the characters and showcasing Aubrey's tactical prowess! The cameo was a true honor, so much appreciated. Plus, it's always a treat to see Sandhurst and Aubrey together again, however briefly. Interesting that destiny drew them once again into each other's spheres. Their meeting was reminiscent of Treacherous Waters. (And I'm awarding extra coolness points for Gibraltar swooping in with a cloaking device!)
Keep fighting the good fight, sir.
* * *
Sandhurst strode into the transporter room, engineering carryall in one hand and reviewing a padd in his other. He had missed the initial wave of engineering and medical personnel beamed over to Intrepid, but was now on his way as he scrolled through damage-control priorities aboard the other ship.
“Send me over, please, chief,” he called to Chief Petty Officer Towsend.
“Not a good idea, Captain,” an unfamiliar female voice replied, bringing Sandhurst up short just as he mounted the step up to the dais. He turned to see a woman clad in what should have been Towsend’s uniform. It took him a moment to place her.
The mysterious woman from the bar on Kathleron Anchorage, the one who’d claimed to be a time-traveler.
“I thought we’d concluded our business,” Sandhurst said acidly, a scowl accentuating the statement.
“As far as you refusing to advertise your presence to the Amon, yes. And that’s worked out marvelously, by the way. A war with suicidal Romulans which has cost the Federation over a billion and a half dead, on top of the Skorrah’s predations. Well done. But no, I’m here to alert you that your beaming over to that ship could be potentially disastrous.”
He tucked the padd under the arm holding the carryall and proceeded to rub the bridge of his nose, feeling a tension headache coming on. “And why the hell is that?”
The woman stepped out from behind the transparent aluminum partition that separated the operator’s console from the transport pad, an anachronism from Gibraltar’s original design that had been ignored during her wartime refit.
“Both you and Captain Aubrey are classified as temporal outliers,” she explained patiently. “Neither of you belong here, not really. Having one of you here is bad enough, but two of you in close proximity is causing disruptions to the local time/space continuum.”
“I’m sure I’d have been notified of any temporal or spatial disruptions in our vicinity,” Sandhurst objected.
“Too minute for your primitive sensors to detect as yet, Captain, but they’re present and growing. The closer you get to Aubrey the more quickly the instability will grow. I’m urging you to withdraw to at least one light-year from Intrepid’s position.”
Sandhurst was visibly confused and increasingly frustrated. “So, what’s Aubrey’s story? What makes him a temporal… insurgent?”
“Outlier,” she corrected. “Let’s just say he’s from somewhere and somewhen else, and the pressure he places on the continuum is analogous to the effect of a quantum singularity on local gravity.”
“Really? And what’s my temporal footprint like?” he reposited.
She snorted, “Don’t flatter yourself, Captain.”
“So what happens if I go over there?” he asked.
“We don’t know,” she replied evenly.
“Then how can you know it’s bad? Can’t you see what happens as a result?”
“We can’t see the results of a direct interaction between you and Captain Aubrey,” she admitted.
“Oh?” That response seemed to perk Sandhurst up. “You and your time-cop friends get locked out again?”
Her replied was accompanied by a slight head shake. “No. Nothing’s locking us out this time. We’re left trying to extrapolate what happens by reading the temporal distortions given off by what we classify as a chronometric paroxysm. Think of it like someone trying to see into the heart of an anti-matter explosion from the outside. The next few hours or so is opaque to us because of a constricted knot of time energy, the timeline twisted around itself while spinning off all manner of paradoxes and proto-timeline filaments that could fracture local space/time.”
His frown deepened. “That sounds bad,” he admitted reluctantly.
“I concur,” she agreed. “The only thing we can think of that might cause such catastrophic distortions are you and Aubrey coming into close contact.”
He continued to stare at her as he struggled to incorporate this information. “I’m almost tempted to call your bluff.”
“It’s not a bluff, Captain. It’s merely our best extrapolation of what may have occurred… what may yet occur.”
A slight tremor traveled through the deck-plates, prompting Sandhurst to tap his combadge. “Sandhurst to the bridge, what was that?”
“Unknown, sir,” came T’Ser’s reply. “Standby please, Captain. We’re looking into it. We’re coming alongside Intrepid and appear to have hit a bit of subspace chop.”
The woman offered Sandhurst a raised eyebrow, an aggravatingly non-verbal I-told-you-so.
Sandhurst’s expression suggested he hated having to give the order as he instructed, “Exec, put some distance between ourselves and Intrepid until we can isolate the reason behind the subspace instability. Move us out to one-hundred thousand klicks.”
“That may not be enough,” the woman advised as T’Ser acknowledged the captain’s order.
The ship jolted and Sandhurst threw out a hand to steady himself against the bulkhead. “This is your doing, isn’t it? You’re trying to force me into contacting the Amon.”
The woman seemed to pixilate briefly, allowing Sandhurst a brief flash of a surprised looking Chief Towsend before her corporality reasserted itself.
Her expression grew exasperated. “No, it isn’t, and we’re not. We are, however, trying to minimize the amount of damage you’re doing to the timeline.”
Gravity shifted suddenly, and Sandhurst’s knees almost buckled before the inertial dampers compensated. “You keep trying to make all this my fault. It isn’t. The Amon chose someone else this time.”
“You—ou—ou arrogant bastard,” she hissed, her accusatory countenance skipping like a buffering digital image. “You’ve let billions die because you’re too afraid to face your destiny. Now you’re endangering the remaining integrity of the timeline you’ve already wrecked.”
The ship rocked mightily and Sandhurst was thrown to the deck, his descent accompanied by the wail of the red alert klaxon.
T’Ser’s voice sounded from the bridge. “Red alert! All hands to emergency stations. Damage control teams report to your assembly points.”
Abandoning the temporal intruder in the transporter room, Sandhurst clambered to his feet and staggered through the doors and into the corridor beyond. A wall-mounted interface exploded, raining sparks into the passageway as Sandhurst was driven shoulder-first into the bulkhead with another hammering blow to the ship.
He slid to the deck, writhing in pain with what was almost certainly a dislocated shoulder joint as the ship bucked around him.
His combadge screeched with interference that subsided into T’Ser’s voice. “Captain, the gravitational shear is increasing exponentially. It’s overwhelmed the structural integrity field and intertial dampeners. I’m giving the order to abandon ship!”
Her voice then boomed out over the intraship, ordering the crew to escape pods.
Sandhurst struggled to his knees, looking up curiously at the screeching sounds of rending metal from somewhere ahead of him. He watched with a kind of detached amazement as he witnessed the corridor actually flexing and warping as structural supports in the saucer-section’s interior sheared away.
He was reaching for his combadge to order a site-to-site transport to the nearest life-pod when a wall of plasma from the detonation of the primary hull’s fusion reactors engulfed him.
* * *
Wow. Time is a bitch, isn't she?
Well, that's not good.
Thank you, Captain!
* * *
Phaser beams flashed across the void to score across the warbird’s shields, the robust deflectors of the D’deridex-class absorbing the attack gamely.
Gibraltar heeled hard over, just avoiding a volley of Romulan torpedoes launched from an aging V-30 that was itself immolated seconds later by a sustained burst of pulsed phaser-fire from a Defiant-class escort.
“Yeah,” Juneau crowed, pumping her fist in the air. “Gladius just gutted that bitch!”
Rather than confront the Ops officer’s unbridled outburst, Sandhurst focused on his abbreviated armrest console. “Helm, come to three-one-eight, mark zero-four-four, three-quarters impulse.” He spared a glance over his shoulder at Lar’ragos manning the tactical station behind him. “I’m bringing the big boy around, Pava. If we time this right, you can put our last two quantums right into her failing port-aft shields.”
Lar’ragos growled appreciatively, his blood clearly up.
As the viewscreen image slewed with their maneuver, Sandhurst caught a glimpse of another of their charges, a mammoth Continent-class supply ship, exploding impressively courtesy of a barrage of Romulan torpedoes and disruptor fire.
Their relief convoy had been ambushed at the edge of the system and what had seemed a milk-run had quickly devolved into a disaster. That one ship had held over a thousand Starfleet Marines and their combat equipment, personnel and gear intended to safeguard one of the Federation’s last remaining intact colonies along the Neutral Zone.
They came around onto the tail of the D’deridex as it traded blistering fire with an Akira-class, the warbird’s vulnerable aft shields directly in Gibraltar’s sights.
Sandhurst’s voice took on an unaccustomed edge. “Serve it to the bastards, Mister Lar’ragos.”
And so Pava did, the brilliant white projectiles stabbing through the enemy’s depleted shields to penetrate the hull and disperse their destructive energies deep within. The craft erupted outwards in a brilliant detonation that was abruptly drawn into the artificial singularity powering the vessel, causing the flaring explosion to wink out of existence as if it had never been.
There was a muted cheer on the bridge that was quelled by the jolt of multiple disruptor strikes slamming home along Gibraltar’s port side.
Sandhurst had long since abandoned the idea of ordering Lightner to execute specific evasive patterns. The young man’s situational awareness was superior to his own, and if there were a tactical advantage to be had at the end of his maneuvers, he would find it.
“Port shields down to twenty-three percent,” Juneau observed grimly. “Minor hull buckling along the port-forward section of the secondary hull.”
True to form, Lightner placed them on a relative-descending trajectory towards a vaguely insectoid looking P'vael-class destroyer which was pursuing a damaged Miranda-class escort. The aged Petruchio was trailing drive-plasma from her starboard nacelle as her battered aft weapons grid lashed their closing foes with defensive fire.
“Phasers and full forward torpedo spread,” Sandhurst ordered as they closed the distance.
Stuttering beams of collimated energy from Gibraltar’s old-style phaser banks accompanied a flight of crimson torpedoes whose combined ferocity bludgeoned the warship, causing it to spin away from its intended target.
“Petruchio sends their thanks,” Juneau announced.
Sandhurst made a vaguely Picard-like finger stab at the main viewer. “Pursuit course after that P’vael. Let’s finish her off.”
A concussive explosion rocked the bridge, blasting two of the consoles along the starboard bulkhead clean out of their mounting brackets and sending shrapnel scything throughout the compartment. Sandhurst had the briefest image of Kuenre Shanthi’s broken body ricocheting off the port-side safety railing and collapsing heavily into the bridge well with a sickly meaty sound.
He tried to call for a damage report but found himself unable to utter the words. He brought a hand to his throat, only to encounter a cascade of blood erupting from his severed neck. He grabbed at his throat with both hands, gurgling frantically. His thrashing toggled the release of his chair’s safety restraints and he slithered out of the seat onto the deck, choking on his own blood.
Sandhurst could barely make out T’Ser’s voice over the roaring in his ears, something about a Valdore-class warbird having decloaked aft.
Then a brief glimmer of Lar’ragos’ face above him through his darkening vision, his friend’s face contorted in anguish.
* * *
ooh, interesting... the many deaths of Donald Sandhurst?
Short but intense.
Looks like threre's no way to mess with destiny. It wants what it wants and it doesn't give one lick about Sandhurst.
Cruel but it sure is a fun ride.
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