Star Trek USS Impetuous - The Hitomi Incident

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by IreneAdler, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Location:
    Ashburn, VA
    Sometime in 2388

    Captain Etaera Lin sat semi-relaxed at her ready room desk, her face carefully neutral as Rear Admiral Turon briefed her. Protocol dictated a more upright posture, but she knew doing so would reveal tension caused by their now interminable argument. She didn’t want him to know how much his likely decision bothered her... or worse, get a sense of her personal persuasions on the matter.

    Still, despite her attempts to guide the conversation, Turon remained intent on making a decision she simply couldn’t abide.

    “Captain Lin, Starfleet Command’s orders are clear. You are not to enter the Romulan Neutral Zone.”

    “Yes, sir,” Lin said, and toggled off the communication, having decided the breach of protocol in ending the conversation with a superior a better option than giving him any assessment of his decision. On some level, she’d known what was coming, as Turon had always proven one of the Admiralty’s more predictable members. Still, she’d placed some hope in her own negotiating skills, and had gauged the odds of success as reasonably high. Leaning forward in her chair, Lin steepled her fingers, considering her options. Attempting a rescue mission would invariably result in significant political fallout if the Romulans noticed their presence. And it wasn’t like a Galaxy-class starship was built to just slip in and out unnoticed.

    The door chime interrupted her thoughts.

    “Come.”

    “We’re approaching the Neutral Zone,” Commander Landry said as he entered.

    Lin stood. “What’s the status of the Sugosa?”

    “She’s running on backup power. Impulse and warp engines are both offline. Fifteen lifesigns aboard, two of which appear to be joined Trill.” Landry handed over a padd with additional information, which Lin quickly assessed.

    “Our orders?”

    Landry, an amused Lin noted, had managed to make those two words a pretty loaded question.

    “Our orders,” she replied, stressing the words in precisely the same fashion he had, “are to stay put, unless the Sugosa can get back to the proper side of the Neutral Zone under her own power. It appears, though, that isn’t likely to happen.” Lin considered the information before her, looking for an alternative one of her subordinates hadn’t presented. “Admiral Turon intends to request permission from the Romulans to enter the Neutral Zone, but I don’t believe the Sugosa has that sort of time left.”

    “What was the Sugosa doing all the way out here in the first place?”

    “Probably ramming into gravitic mines,” Etaera muttered. Landry frowned at the mention of the famed Kobayashi Maru scenario. “Professor Zir was studying rare spatial phenomenon with the backing of the Trill Science Ministry.”

    “In the Neutral Zone?”

    “It wouldn’t be the first time the Professor’s violated a neutral zone in the name of research,” Etaera said. “His typical prerogative is to acquire a small, quick vessel and to get in and out before anyone realizes he’s there.”

    “You’re acquainted with the Professor?” Landry’s expression hardened as he studied his captain. When he’d first been assigned to the USS Hitomi, they’d had several disagreements spurned on by the affiliations of the previous Lin host, Admiral Khedan Lin. Seeing the look in Etaera’s eyes, he hesitated. “You want to rescue him.”

    “The research that he’s participating in is extremely influential, and the knowledge contained in both Zir and the other symbiont–”

    “With all due respect, Captain,” Landry interrupted. “It’s one thing to take an unarmed civilian science vessel into the Neutral Zone. It’s another matter entirely to defy direct orders from Starfleet Command, and take a Federation starship.”

    Sugosa’s crew are all Federation citizens,” Lin countered. “As such, they deserve the protection of Starfleet.”

    “Yes, but the Professor is hardly some faultless innocent in this matter, by your own admission,” Landry said. “Their violation was willful, not an accident.”

    “Granted, but I don’t believe you understand the importance of the Sugosa’s mission,” Lin said. “They’re tracking wormholes.”

    Landry arched a brow. “I suspect this has something to do with the data recovered from the Dominion?”

    “That’s my belief, but Admiral Turon apparently hasn’t gotten that communique,” Lin said. And that’s unfortunate, she thought, since he’s one of those people who needs things spelled out for him. She gestured for Landry to follow and entered the bridge.

    “Captain, we have a visual on the Sugosa,” Lieutenant Kanen said.

    “On screen,” Lin said, taking a seat in her command chair. She felt Landry’s presence to her left, and years of experience working with the man told her he was brooding. He realized she was going to try and rescue the Sugosa, no matter the arguments brought to bear; and while Lin knew he respected, or at least understood, her position, she also knew he thought it a tremendous risk to take just for a few civilian scientists, regardless of the implications of their research.

    Lin knew the Sugosa was a state-of-the-art research vessel, but she wouldn’t have guessed it by what she saw. Its starboard side sported a gouge running the length of the hull, and Etaera assumed that at some point they’d collided with something. She frowned. Why wouldn’t they have paid more attention to their surroundings, especially given their location?

    “It seems wrong,” Landry said. He leaned forward in his seat, as though doing so would aid in understanding how the small vessel had gotten in such a state.

    Lin found herself forced to agree. “Can we contact them?”

    From the Ops station, Kanen shook his head. “No, sir. Their communications array is completely destroyed. Their distress signal was sent from a Class IV probe.”

    Etaera paused for a moment, considering options. She couldn’t justify risking the lives of countless innocent civilians just to save 12 scientists. “Get all nonessential personnel to the saucer section,” she said finally. “Man the stardrive module with a skeleton crew. Lieutenant Kanen, you’ll set course for Starbase 23, full impulse. We’ll rendezvous there as soon as we’re capable.”

    “Aye, Captain.”

    The turbolift ride proved quick and uneventful. Outside of drills and holodeck simulations, Etaera had never sat in the battle bridge command chair, and found it rather uncomfortable. Either she, the seat, or both lacked for padding. “Status?”

    “Forty-five seconds to saucer separation maneuver,” said Lieutenant Mawry, who’d taken over Ops in Kanen’s stead. “All essential crew in position. Civilian evacuation complete.” After a moment, he added, “We’re ready.”

    “Initiate saucer separation.” She felt the subtle movement of the magnetic clamps releasing, and the viewscreen showed the saucer section sliding away.

    “We’re clear. All systems at ready.”

    “Yellow alert. Set a course for the Sugosa,” Lin said. “Perform a tachyon scan; are we detecting anything that might indicate cloaked Romulan vessels?”

    “I’m detecting chronitons near the Sugosa, but that’s consistent with the phenomenon that they were out here to investigate.”

    “That’s convenient,” Landry said dryly. Lin glanced over and noticed that the frown had faded from his features. Despite his own hesitations, he was committed to her plan. She wasn’t sure if that left her feeling relieved or concerned. He looked over at Lin and shrugged. “Nothing gained by hesitation, at this point.”

    “What’s the quickest we can reach the Sugosa, get a tractor beam on her, and return to Federation space?” Lin asked.

    “Thirty-four minutes, 23 seconds,” said Ensign T’Don from the helm.

    “Take her in,” Lin said.

    “Aye, Captain,” T’Don said.

    At his touch, the Hitomi surged forwards towards her destination.

    The battle bridge was eerily quiet as they traveled, as though her crew feared the Romulans would find them if they even spoke. Lin debated placing the ship in gray mode, and reducing the chance that they’d end up noticed, but that was a hopeless goal. Galaxy-class starships weren’t the best vessels for performing covert actions, even when they did leave the saucer section behind. Still, if push came to shove and they ended up in a firefight, they’d be glad for all the muscle Hitomi could muster.

    “Entering the Neutral Zone,” T’Don announced a few minutes later. Lin saw Mawry cringe, as though Romulans would appear astride them the moment they’d passed the border. For a moment, she regretted the decision to leave Kanen behind, as his expertise at the Ops station could have been of tremendous use.

    “Still nothing useful from sensors,” Mawry said. He scowled at his console as though the expression would provide some tangible benefit, but none came.

    It took all of Lin’s considerable patience to remain still as the next fifteen minutes languished past. Her eyes scanned the main viewscreen as though she had some preternatural ability to sense cloaked vessels.

    “We’re in range to tractor,” Mawry said finally.

    “Once the Sugosa is stable in the beam, let’s get out of here.” Before the words could even leave her lips, two points in space began to shimmer in a manner that caused Lin’s heart to race. “Red alert!”

    “Two D’deridex-class warbirds,” Commander Clark said from the tactical station, before the vessels had even fully appeared. Then again, it wasn’t exactly a brilliant insight: Few vessels approached a D’deridex in size, and none of those had cloaking devices.

    “We’re unlikely to outshoot them,” Landry said. “Why do they have those hanging out in the Neutral Zone in the first place?”

    “I intend to find out,” Lin said. She prepared to request a channel to the lead Romulan vessel, but found herself beaten to the chase.

    “The lead Romulan vessel is hailing,” Mawry said.

    “Of course they are.” Lin stood and straightened her uniform. Wildly, she thought, Even now, neatness counts. It took an effort to force aside a growing belief the Romulans had already taken the upper hand, before shots had even been fired.

    “On screen.”

    The image of a middle-aged Romulan male appeared on Hitomi’s main view screen. Lin’s eyes widened slightly in recognition, but otherwise, her features remained neutral.

    “I am Commander Zorek, of the Imperial Romulan Warbird Diarak. You are in violation of the Treaty of Algeron. Your vessel will be seized.”

    “Commander, this is Captain Etaera Lin of the USS Hitomi; we’ve only violated the Neutral Zone to recover a civilian vessel that’s quite badly damaged. There wasn’t sufficient time to acquire the necessary permissions. As you can see, the Sugosa is in rather dire straits.”

    At mention of the Sugosa, Zorek’s lips twisted into a stock Romulan smirk. “We are well aware of the Sugosa’s status,” he said. “That doesn’t change the fact that you’ve brought a Starfleet warship into the Neutral Zone.”

    “The Hitomi is not a warship. She is a capable multi-purpose vessel. Her armaments bear no relevance to the mission at hand. We seek only to retrieve our citizens and get back into Federation space, I assure you. Besides, the Romulan Empire clearly had two warships already in place before the Hitomi even entered the area.”

    “Indeed, we did.”

    It took most of Lin’s reserve to maintain her equanimity. If Zorek were admitting their violation…!

    “But only to recover the science team we’d some time ago contracted. I assure you, Captain, everything is in order. Our presence here is documented and authorized by your own Federation Science Council, through the Trill Science Ministry—though I suppose it’s possible the latter hasn’t yet informed the former, bureaucracies being what they are, subspace radio lag, that sort of thing.” He gave an almost apologetic shrug, no doubt calculated and rehearsed, since Romulan kinesthetics differed even from Vulcan. “Your presence, on the other hand, well, you’ve already admitted your guilt.”

    Zorek’s demeanor, that of a man holding a hand impossible to beat and having his foe all in, only served to push the usually patient Etaera into annoyance.

    “I’m sorry?” she said dismissively. “I was unaware your people were in the habit of contracting external personnel for research purposes… and protecting lone science vessels with not one, but two Warbirds.” Afraid they might run into a fair fight, no doubt.

    “Ah, yes. ‘Research purposes.’ I’m no scientist, but Tirial’s ‘research’ is rather impressive, isn’t it? It’s nothing compared to what the Dominion had figured out though, wouldn’t you agree?” Zorek gave Etaera a significant, almost conspiratorial, look—though to her credit she portrayed as though already knowing the Romulans were in possession of the information.

    “Doctor Zir and his associates are under our protection,” Lin pushed.

    “‘Under our protection’? Odd, I was just about to say precisely that myself. Well, if you insist. By all means, Captain Lin, you try to protect them.” Someone at Zorek’s end cut the channel, and she found herself again staring at a pair of Warbirds.

    To her, they didn’t look ‘protective.’

    “Evasive maneuvers!” Lin exclaimed, and T’Don’s superior Vulcan reflexes took over, rotating the Hitomi to reduce the surface area bared to the two Warbirds. As Lin had anticipated, Diarak cut loose with her three facing disruptor arrays—connecting, though, with only two, thanks to T’Don.

    Taking the hint, Etaera stepped back and settled into her command chair before she was forcibly knocked into it.

    “Shields holding at 96%,” Clark said.

    “Fire at will,” Lin ordered, then asked, “T’Don, any chance of us utilizing that anomaly to some tactical advantage?”

    “The Romulan vessels are blocking our route. Circumventing them would present too much of our flank to one, or both.” As he spoke, Hitomi lashed out with a full phaser spread that, despite its power, did little to discourage their attackers. Diarak’s sister ship had joined the fray, now, as well, and had positioned itself to prevent the Starfleet ship from making a rapid rescue and escape.

    For a time, she let the engagement evolve, allowing her officers to bring their skills into play, employing Hitomi’s superior maneuverability and speed to keep the Warbirds off balance and prevent them from bringing all their awesome armament to bear as one.

    “Captain, we should retreat back to Federation space,” Landry said. The Hitomi shook under another assault, and he gripped his seat more tightly. “War upgrades or not, a single Galaxy-class starship is barely a match for one Warbird, let alone the pair.”

    “The large majority of their arsenal is forward facing,” Clark added. “We can reach our side of the border if we make a run for it now. Hitomi’s faster than they are.” As he spoke, he targeted a strike directly at the Diarak’s forward weapons array. Lin noted with some satisfaction that they seemed to be reducing the Warbird’s forward shields. Still, they’d barely scratched the second vessel’s defenses, and it continued to wear away at them.

    Etaera frowned, determination crossing her features. “We’re not going to simply retreat. I’ll not have risked war with the Romulans only to come home empty-handed.”

    Landry responded with a glare, although he managed to keep from being openly insubordinate. He’s walking the line, Etaera thought. If we succeed, he wants to ensure I don’t bring him up on charges. And if we fail, he wants the inquisition to fall solely on my shoulders. It appeared as though when push came to shove, his self-interest was the instinct that prevailed. Considering how he maneuvers, maybe I should let him take over at conn.

    Hitomi launched a spread of torpedoes, striking Diarak with a dispersal pattern that left Zorek’s Warbird momentarily vulnerable, and Lin silently praising her tactical officer as the accompanying phaser burst punched through and savaged its “beak”. Her joy proved short-lived, though, as the Romulans’ answering barrage struck home—the pair of them, unfortunately, still battering away at their screens.

    “The Diarak’s forward disruptor array is severely damaged, and offline.” That would mitigate the amount of incoming damage. Etaera hoped it would be enough at least to convince Zorek that destroying them wasn’t worth the risk to his own vessel, but that seemed unlikely: Hitomi had already fallen too far behind in this game of two-against-one.

    Now effectively surrounded, Hitomi rocked under the constant barrages from the two Romulan vessels. Diarak’s helm officer unfortunately proved his skill, and presented his ship’s other disruptors with disheartening efficiency. “Our shields are at 37% overall. Microfractures are forming along the hull due to the repeated pounding. Captain, we can’t hold out much longer.”

    “Can we retreat?” Even now, Lin’s tone remained reluctant. If they pushed just a little bit harder, or devised and employed some unlooked-for stratagem, surely they could persuade the Warbirds to withdraw. Still, it was looking more like a longshot, and Lin grudgingly admitted that it was fast becoming too risky.

    “With our shields at such a low ebb, chances of successful escape are approximately 24.74%,” T’Don said. Despite the heat of battle, Lin spared a grin. Even whilst involved in complicated evasive maneuvers, the Vulcan still possessed his usual precision.

    Etaera knew that the longer she hesitated, the lower their chances of survival. “Get us back into Federation territory,” she said. She hoped the Romulans wouldn’t pursue into Federation space. Then again, thus far today the Romulans had existed almost invariably to dash her hopes.

    They maneuvered past Diarak’s sister vessel, which provided her weapons officer the perfect opportunity to rock the Hitomi with several more strikes.

    “Shift all available power to defensive systems,” Lin said, gritting her teeth against the latest assault.

    “Starboard shields are at nine percent,” Clark said. Beads of sweat dripped down his face as he fought to keep the Hitomi’s protection from failing altogether.

    “The Diarak is pursuing,” Landry said. “Both Romulan vessels are right on our ass.”

    “Ten minutes, 42 seconds to Federation space,” added T’Don. Even the ordinarily unflappable Vulcan seemed strained.

    Clark didn’t even need to say when the shields dropped, as the Hitomi shook mightily, hurling Lieutenant Mawry to the floor—where he remained, unmoving. Landry assumed the Operations station, quickly assessing status. “Hull breaches on decks ten through 12. Casualty reports are coming in from those decks. Emergency force fields in place, for now. The starboard nacelle is venting warp plasma.”

    The Hitomi staggered once more. “Hull breaches on decks 16, 18, 19, 21...” Landry threw up his hands. There was little point in detailing the damage as the ship continued to absorb enemy disruptor fire.

    “Bridge to Engineering. Prepare to dump the warp core.”

    That got everyone’s attention.

    “But, Captain, it’s still stable!”

    “It won’t be if there’s no ship left around it.”

    “Understood.”

    Lin turned to face Clark. “How much power can you get to the aft shields if you drop the others?”

    He at least had followed where she’d led. “Not that much, Captain.”

    Etaera swore creatively for a moment before tapping her combadge. “Engineering, jettison the core, now!” She didn't even wait for Engineering’s affirmation as she turned to face T’Don. “Get as much distance between us and the core as you can.”

    “Rear shields at 37%, Captain; it’s the best I can do.”

    Etaera’s lips set in a grim line as she tapped her communicator. “All hands, brace for impact.”

    “Photon torpedoes, maximum yield, minimal dispersal pattern. Target the warp core.

    “Fire!”

    Though she could not hear the sound of the warp core exploding in space behind the Hitomi, Etaera could hear her vessel’s frame creaking and groaning as it hurtled haphazardly through space at angles the designers hadn’t really intended. The rear half of the stardrive section burned almost entirely away in the heat of the initial explosion, despite the shielding that Clark had managed to amass with frantic legerdemain. Lin managed to keep ahold of her command chair, but several others around her on the battle bridge weren’t so lucky, and were thrown about like dolls in the resulting chaos. The air filled with smoke as the ship’s air filtration system was knocked offline, and several small fires started at various bridge consoles.

    Choking away the acrid stench, Lin forced herself to her feet, and made a beeline for the Ops console. Landry’s form was slumped over the console, and a quick check revealed no pulse; his wounds told her he’d not have one ever again. Mawry had fared slightly, and infinitely, better, as Lin could see him moaning where he’d landed. Pushing Landry’s body aside, and suppressing a twinge of guilt for doing it so cavalierly, Etaera checked the position of the two Romulan vessels.

    Diarak’s sister ship had maneuvered in that last moment to invest Hitomi, its commander no doubt seeking the glory of the kill; it had thus taken the brunt of the explosion. Etaera noted with satisfaction that little remained of the vessel; and with irritation that this particular result left Zorek very much alive. She would have much preferred if that old adversary had gotten no older.

    His warbird, instead, had managed to get away with only moderate damage, but didn’t seem intent on pursuit—perhaps due to a complete lack of forward disruptors. Instead, she came about and made for the Sugosa.

    Zir. Etaera shook her head. She had a crew—or at least what remained of one—to worry about. Guilt welled up within her, but she didn’t let it take hold.

    “All propulsion systems are offline,” T’Don said. “We’ll reach Federation space via inertia in 37 seconds.”

    Lin nodded.

    “I’ll hail the saucer section and advise them to plot an intercept course.” As the adrenaline began to wear off, a growing sense of dread replaced it. At impulse, Starbase 23 was a long way off. Perhaps that was just as well.

    Lin was in no hurry to deal with what awaited her there.
     
  2. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I remember this story! You posted it over at STPMA, didn't you? Great work, ma'am. BTW, you might remember me as captainuniverse.
     
  3. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Location:
    Ashburn, VA
    I did! Thanks! Nice seeing you around these parts :-D
     
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Methinks the good captain will be spanked rather harshly for her decision to engage the warbirds rather than withdraw. A lot of people died unnecessarily in this scenario, and only Lin stands responsible.

    Glad I'm not in her boots. :eek:
     
  5. IreneAdler

    IreneAdler Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Location:
    Ashburn, VA
    Mmhmm, :-) I grew weary of all the "introductory stories" for OC Captain characters involving some deeply heroic or noble moment, so I wanted a "fail the Kobayashi Maru" type starter.