Note: This is a quick story I put together to sort of "get in the head" of one of my characters, Commander Juliana Thornton. It is presented here sans proofreading, etc. “Captain, we can’t go any further,” Commander Juliana Thornton said, eying the star map on her chair’s console warily. “We’re just going to have to concede the loss of the probe.” “That probe contains valuable data,” Captain Hagar said, his expression showing that his mind was made up. “Keep going. Full impulse. Yellow alert.” The bridge was lit in a aureolin hue, and the Avenger continued her perilous journey towards the Klingon neutral zone. The Avenger wasn’t an exploration ship. It was a Heavy Cruiser, a class of vessels that received considerable combat time during the Dominion War. There was no hope of an argument that the Avenger was just on a science mission, even if that’s what they were doing when their probe went astray. There was no way that the Klingons would buy that. “The probe has nearly emerged from the other side of the neutral zone,” Lieutenant Maelar said from the Ops station. “If we don’t increase our speed, it will be in Klingon territory soon.” “Captain, if we’re going to continue this endeavor, I recommend we do so as quickly as possible,” Thornton said, her pale complexion turned sallow by the alert lighting. “Warping into the neutral zone would surely incite tempers,” Hagar said, eyes fixed on the main viewer. “With all due respect, sir, we’re going to incite tempers regardless by our sheer presence,” Thornton said. “Noted,” Hagar said, but it was clear that he wouldn’t hear any other arguments on the matter. The Avenger continued her crawl through the neutral zone, and Thornton kept her eyes glued to her own console. She trusted her Operations staff to be alert for the presence of cloaked vessels, and to the position of the probe in relation to Klingon territory, but she felt better minding it herself. “The probe has entered Klingon space,” Maelar said. “Continue pursuit,” Hagar ordered. “Captain…” Thornton started, but Hagar’s glare told her that he would not be hearing any protests at the moment. “We will be entering Klingon space in T-minus 15 minutes,” Maelar said. The bridge was deathly silent. Thornton gazed at the starfield before her, and her subconscious saw swirls and patterns in the dark of space that her imagination attributed to cloaked vessels. “Ten minutes,” Maelar said dutifully. There was a shaking in her voice that Thornton was unaccustomed to. Then again, the circumstances were completely unlike anything that the Avenger had faced thus far. It was not a stealth vessel. It was like taking a cannon to a birthday party and expecting your host not to be offended or put on guard. “Five minutes.” It seemed at once too soon and too far off a time. Thornton wanted to be past this charade. Something that gotten into Hagar’s head, and her mind whirled, debating the options. Could she remove him from command over something such as this? She didn’t believe so, at least not yet. So far he’d only done things that were ill-advised, not things that were necessarily wrong. “Sir, I’m detecting recent chroniton emissions,” Maelar said. “Steady as she goes,” Hagar said. Juliana resisted an urge to roll her eyes at the Captain’s flippancy, and his idiotic insistence upon using old sailing vessel terminology. “Three minutes. Chroniton levels are increasing. Sir, this was a recent vessel.” “That’s fine, we’re just getting our probe.” “Captain, we’re worrying about a probe that is replaceable, and bargaining the lives of crew whose lives are not,” Juliana said, her temper beginning to rise. “One minute. Sir, we should really turn back now,” Maelar said. She was now shaking visibly. “Are you questioning my orders!?” Hagar said. “Entering Klingon space,” she said softly, a moment later. Then, voice trembling, “Two Klingon scout vessels and a personal vessel are decloaking off the starboard bow!” “Red alert!” Juliana said. “They’re hailing, sir.” “Ignore them.” “Ignore them!?” Juliana exclaimed, her voice heavy with disbelief. “The lead vessel is firing,” Draewen said from the tactical station. “Evasive maneuvers!” Juliana said as disruptor beams shot out, glancing off the Avenger’s shields. “Captain this is irresponsible and risky behavior!” she said. “Fire back at will,” Captain Hagar said. “Y-yes sir,” Draewen said. It was not what he wished to do, yet it was integral to strike back in order to preserve their lives. “Three scout vessels are no match for an Akira,” Hagar said. “I do not know what you’re so concerned about.” Hagar’s confidence was misplaced, in Juliana’s mind, as she estimated their own chances of survival as being less than 10%. He aims to get us all killed, she thought grimly. “I’m ‘so concerned’ about starting a war!” Juliana said hotly, as the Avenger lashed out with full spreads of torpedos and phasers, making short work of the lead vessel. Still, she rocked as disruptors continued to weaken her shields. “Starboard shields at 50% sir!” “Tensions have been rising for some time now,” Hagar said. “That’s no excuse to escalate it to a war! That is not the Federation way!” Juliana said. “Keep firing!” “Sir, I must relieve you from duty!” Juliana said, practically shouting to be heard over the din of the battle. She stood up, then grabbed on to her seat as the Avenger was rocked by the shockwave from the Klingon vessel’s core detonating. “Security, please take Captain Hagar to the brig!” “No!” Hagar shouted, he lunged towards Juliana, who lashed out quickly with an accurate size 6-boot to the Captain’s groin. “You will not take my ship from me! Traitor!” Security responded quickly, with the assistance of the extraneous bridge crew. Juliana felt a moment of appreciation for the science team as one of their own tackled Hagar with surprising skill. Her focus was only taken for a moment though as she sat in the Captain’s seat, her mind quickly evaluating the circumstances. “Turn her about, keep the starboard side protected,” she ordered. “Make way back for the Federation side of the neutral zone.” “Ops. Hail them. Tell them on all channels that there has been a misunderstanding,” she said. “Should I keep firing?” “Fire to disable, not to destroy,” Thornton said. Behind her, Hagar was being hoisted up, and lead to the turbolift by security. There was a growl, which caused her to turn her head about. Hagar seemed to be growing, and Juliana instinctively took cover, as it seemed that his skin might burst. But he morphed further, into a large beast with fur and claws. Meanwhile, the Avenger continued to be rocked from the port and aft sides. “Keep firing, try and get their weapons arrays,” Juliana ordered. “He’s a chameloid!” One of the security guards attempted to stun “Hagar,” but only succeeded on making him angrier. “Maximum stun!” Juliana ordered. A phaser beam lanced out from the Avenger, striking the torpedo array of one of the Klingon vessels. Unfortunately, it was too good a shot, and struck the torpedo reserves, which almost immediately blew up the second Klingon scout. “Hagar” lashed out at the security guard who shot him, sending the man flying. It likely would have been a survivable fall had the shockwave from the scout not struck the Avenger, which resulted in the man hitting a console face first with a sickening crunch. There was no need to assess for a pulse as his neck bent at an awkward angle. Further phaser beams lanced out, both inside the bridge, and outside in space. “Hagar” would not be subdued, though. “Shields at 15%!” “Set phasers to kill!” Juliana ordered. With all else going on, she couldn’t afford a chameloid running about the bridge, killing her crew. "Are you still hailing them?” “Yes, sir,” Maelar said. “No response.” A phaser finally felled “Hagar” and Juliana breathed a sigh of relief. It was short-lived, though, as the remaining Klingon vessel continued to shoot at the Avenger. The Akira-class vessel shook mightily as disruptor beams sliced through the remaining shields, tearing away at the hull of the Avenger below. “Both impulse engines have taken heavy damage!” someone said from engineering. “Hull breeches on decks 3 through 12.” There was not much time left. “Vent the plasma,” Juliana ordered. “Hail the Klingon vessel with visual. All Klingon frequencies, wide range.” If there were any other Klingon vessels in the area, she wanted them to know what the story was. “Klingon vessels. As you can see behind me, a chameloid had infiltrated the crew of this vessel, taking over control of our Captain. The chameloid gave orders that defied the values and standpoints of the Federation. We aim to depart neutral territory as soon as possible, and deeply regret the actions that have been taken by this vessel.” “No response,” Maelar said. Juliana took a deep breath. “Please accept my sincerest apologies for all that has occurred. The crew of this vessel harbors no will for the Klingon empire, and we intend to ensure that Starfleet makes amends for the losses the empire has suffered.” The remaining Klingon vessel ceased firing, but there was a momentary pause before a visual was given. “The empire is willing to negotiate,” the Klingon Captain said.