Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by The Badger, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    Oh, things are looking very bad right now.

    I hope these guys know what they're doing.

    Very exciting sequence Badger.
  2. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
  3. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2009
    Another good chapter. From the signage I expect that Archer fell into some sort area where LASERs are frequently in use? If so, than perhaps Tharpa's own LASER won't be seen as anything untoward and wouldn't set off any alarms. I bet Archer is thinking along the same lines, and thats why he ordered Tharpa to use his LASER.

    Sorry if this spoils the cliffhanger, but you did leave the clues right there for everyone to see! :) If so, I approve, (not that you need my approval) it shows forethought in your writing, which can be seen in many of your other chapters as well. :bolian: Or I could be wrong and most of my post is gibberish, if so ignore the parts about my expectations and focus on where I said good chapter.
  4. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 6, 2007
    Another good chapter and action. Welcome back.
  5. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Well spotted USS Avenger! You win a cookie!:techman:

    The unknown station. Upper atmosphere of Theta Iota 6.
    17th May 2151.

    The beam itself was nearly invisible, a ghostly violet ray linking weapon to target, but it's path was highlighted by the flashes as the wispy green vapour combusted into sparks. The crackling of these air bursts almost drowned out the electrical buzz of the laser's operation. Neither sound came close in intensity to the short lived scream of pain from the running man, or the dull wet Crump! as his back exploded into a sticky red spray.

    As the man's body collapsed to the floor, just short of the communications panel, Archer turned away in horror and disgust. He fumbled for the visor's release catch. He knew what Reed had said about opening his helmet, knew he was in a chamber full of an unknown gas, but that didn't matter. None of that mattered. With a last desperate effort he prised the visor open and was violently sick.

    What happened over the next few minutes was something of a blur. The next he knew he was seated on a piece of low machinery. His visor was closed. Eyes, throat and nostrils all stung abominably, though whether that was the result of his vomiting or exposure to the gas he had no idea. There were several marines going about their business around him. Looking up he saw that a hole had been cut into the bottom of the broken access shaft. One of the prisoners, the Vulcan woman, was being lowered on a cable.

    "You OK, skipper?" asked Reed, coming up to him.

    Archer hit the control on his collar to extend the drinking straw, and took a long gulp. "I, ah, I....I always thought lasers were supposed to be clean weapons. You know? Supposed to cauterise wounds."

    "Yeah, a lot of people think that. Trouble is, it takes a lot of energy to kill someone. And human tissue has a high liquid content. Put 'em together, and you get very rapid expansion, an explosion into steam. Nasty, very nasty."

    Archer nodded. He didn't feel up to saying more.

    Reed went on. "So. Is that why you ordered Tharpa to use the laser? You thought it'd be clean?"

    Archer shook his head, and gestured to the black and yellow sign. "I don't read Russian, but that's the Earth standard warning sign for lasers. I'm guessing they are used in whatever process goes on in here. So the security systems must be programmed to expect EM discharges of that type here." He shrugged. "To be honest though I was just hoping for the best."

    "Well it seems to have paid off. No indication that it set off any alarms anywhere." Reed looked up. The Premier and the prisoners had been safely lowered. Only Grant remained. As he watched, she pulled the panel Archer had removed back into place. A quick burst from her micro welder ensured it was secure. Seconds later she was down with them, retracting her cable.

    "Looks like we came through just in time sir." she said. "I think they've just started searching the tube we were in."

    Reed grunted. "Hopefully they won't think to look this way. But let's not hang about, just in case."

    M'boto, followed by Cross, approached rapidly. "Sir! I think you should see this!" the technical specialist said.

    He held out a few pieces of oddly shaped metal. Archer didn't recognise them, but Reed obviously did. "Sunofabitch."

    "What are they?" Archer asked.

    "Components." Reed replied. "Looks like this place is a manufacturing facility for plasma weapons."

    "What? Like the Widowmaker?"

    Reed shook his head. "No. These parts...they're from the 400."

    "The EM-400?" Archer asked, shocked. Whilst plans were under way to replace it, it was still the standard issue assault rifle for most of Earth's military.

    "That's not all." Cross said. She held out a handful of silvery blue lozenges. They looked like medicine. Archer unholstered his side arm and removed the magazine, sliding a single round free and holding it up for comparison.

    "Cadmium telluride pellets. So they're making ammo as well." Archer looked around. "Looks like there are lot's of hiding places and cubbyholes round here....Lieutenant, leave a little surprise behind. As soon as we're clear...blow it to hell."


    Sergeant Woo's section had been making good progress until the alarms sounded. Scanner beams had flashed down across their path, effectively cutting them off from the Beowulf. Hastily a new course was planned, which should allow them to bypass the electronic detection system. It was a compromise though, as it took them perilously close to the more inhabited areas of the station.

    Woo's section lead. With Corporal James injured---two cracked ribs and substantial abdominal bruising---her section were bringing up the rear. James herself was given responsibility for looking after Sato, whilst her tech man, Priest, looked after Trip Tucker. The engineer had already examined the dilithium, finding a couple of crystals perfectly suitable for Enterprise. He carried one, Sato the other. The remaining crystals had been distributed amongst the group. That way even if only one of them got back to the ship, they'd have partial power. Better than nothing.

    The amount of dilithium perplexed Tucker. This amount would normally only be found in a major resupply depot. There was enough to maintain a dozen Neptune class ships. And as for the two larger ones...they wouldn't even fit into a Neptune's warp reactor cradle. Only the Declaration class used crystals this big. In Earth's fleet, at least. These babies could power one o' those big ol' Vulcan Deep Space Cruisers.

    "Hey, Hoshi, what language was on the case the dilithium was in?" he asked.

    "Vulcan, why?"

    Before he could answer a shout from Tipping cut across the frequency. "Contact rear! Ten meters!"

    At the back of the group it had been Tipping's job to keep a watch over their rear quarter. He'd seen the man with the EM-400 rifle step through a side hatch into the corridor. The man saw him too, raising his gun. A blast of flechettes to the upper torso ended that threat.

    But he was not alone. Whoever was following him had enough sense not to expose themselves, poking the barrel of their rifle round the hatch just far enough to send a burst of plasma in their direction. Fired blind, it hit the wall more than three meters away, but the damage had been done. Even if they hadn't signalled for back up yet, the plasma weapon discharge would set alarm bells ringing.

    "Mi tian gohn!" Woo spat. "Return fire! Go noisy!"

    Go noisy. A simple phrase. Stealth was no longer required, firepower was. Tipping and Sandstrom fired long bursts at the hatch, splash damage from the impacts driving their target back.

    Sato and Tucker found themselves hustled rapidly forward. Now they were at the front. Hoshi, unsure of what to do, decided to just follow James's lead. The marines had plans for situations like this.

    Woo barked out orders. "James' squad, take point. Priest, set up ECM. My section, cover rear. Go!"

    "Sandstrom, go!" Tipping said. The bigger marine instantly ceased fire and called out "Moving!". Quickly he advanced to the front of the group. As he passed Dumont, next in line, the medic shouted "Firing!" and sent a burst down the corridor. Tipping alerted the others that he was now moving, heading to join Sandstrom. The next marine gave the warning as she too opened fire.

    James looked both ways. "We have to get out of this corridor, it's a death trap. Mister Tucker, you know ships. Get us straight to the outer hull."

    Tucker couldn't see the point of that, the Beowulf was further along the structure. Going to the hull from here would take them nearly ninety degrees off course. But he knew enough not to argue, especially when he heard Woo say "Good thinking Corporal. Priest, contact the Beowulf, tell them plan B."

    Trip called up the schematics on his HUD. It wasn't complete, based on the passive scans done by the Beowulf, but it was a start. "This-a-way. Turn right at the next junction."

    Tipping and Sandstrom lead the way. Woo's section, with their cries of "Firing! and "Moving!" brought up the rear. After a few seconds it seemed that they had gotten away from their pursuers, or, as Woo put it, 'broken contact'.

    Turning right lead to a low door. With little time to waste and no need for subtlety a small explosive charge was employed to open it. Beyond lay another corridor, narrower, made even more crowded by the exposed pipework running along the walls.

    "Watch yourselves!" Tucker warned. "These are coolant pipes from the main reactors to the radiator array. They'll be mighty hot."

    Hoshi could believe that. As she'd entered the corridor a little red flag on her HUD had warned her of excessive heat levels. The pipes were lagged, but it looked threadbare in places.

    Taking a multi-tool from his belt Tucker asked Sandstrom to give him a lift up. The big marine could easily lift him to the ceiling. Tucker quickly unfastened one of the fluorescent panels that provided lighting, and examined the wiring.

    "Right, I'll need one o' your rifle magazines. Better make it two."

    Woo wasn't sure what he had planned, but there wasn't time to argue. "James, Priest. One each. Whatever you're doing, Commander, do it quickly."

    Each magazine had a chamber for the ammo, and a powerful but light weight sarium lithium battery. Tucker connected these batteries simultaneously into the wiring. There was a bright flash, then darkness. Not complete, some panels still flickered weakly, but visibility was practically nil. His night vision came on automatically.

    "Nice move, that gives us a fighting chance" Woo said.

    Tipping added "Unless they've got NV gear."

    "Shut up Tipping." Woo said without malice.

    The corridor was a maze. Only the inertial mapping system built in to the suits kept them heading in the right direction. Glancing down a side corridor in passing Hoshi saw distant flashlights. Their pursuers were accessing the labyrinth from other entrances.

    James had seen them to. "Damn it, they're onto us. How far Commander?"

    Tucker checked his map. "Keep goin'. Turn left at tha second junction an' we practically there."

    It wasn't quite that simple. Turning left lead to a three meter stretch, a right turn, five meters straight, another left, and finally a ten meter run ending at a big solid hatch. It looked like it hadn't been opened in years.

    Tucker and Priest immediately got to work on the lock. It didn't take them long, but the audio pick-ups could detect running feet and shouts.

    "Guess the ECM isn't as effective as we'd hoped." Priest muttered. "Right, that's it. Opening hatch!"

    There was a high pitched squeal, the cry of distressed metal. The hatch swung inwards about a centimetre.

    "Sandstrom, do it the old fashioned way!" Woo ordered. The big marine put his shoulder to the hatch and started heaving. Slowly, too slowly, it started to move.

    The spots of flashlights shone brightly on the wall opposite the corner. Tipping readied his rifle. "Contact approaching rear! Stand by!"

    "Got an idea." James said. She activated her rifles sights. "Firing!"

    Her single shot was aimed, not towards the junction from which the pursuers approached, but to a point on the wall directly opposite. She hit the coolant pipe a little lower than she'd intended, but not enough to make any real difference. Superheated liquid and steam jetted out. There were screams of pain and fear as the pursuers were forced back.

    She said "That's bought us some time."

    "Always said you had a cruel streak." Tipping put in.

    "Yeah, but I charge extra for that."

    Tucker and Sato exchanged glances. That hadn't been pleasant to watch. Joking seemed inappropriate. Trip wanted to say something but couldn't quite figure out what.

    Before he could make his mind up the hatch gave way, Sandstrom almost falling through into the room beyond. They scurried through.

    "Message from the Beowulf." Priest said, one hand to the side of his head. It was an unnecessary gesture, the helmet's speaker were internal, but some habits die hard. "The Lieutenant's section have just returned safely. They have the Premier."

    Woo exhaled noisily. "Right. Give 'em our position, tell them 'immediate'. Sandstrom, get that hatch shut. Commander Tucker, which wall's the outer hull?"

    Tucker looked round. The room they were in was little more than a gap between two sections, with exposed metal bracing running up and down the side walls like the ribs of a beast. "Here. This one." He gestured to the narrowest wall, the only smooth one.

    Woo slapped Tipping on the shoulder. "You know what to do."

    Hoshi cocked her head to one side. Something seemed different, though it took her a moment to place. "Listen. The hissing has stopped. They've cut off the coolant flow."

    Tucker listened too. "They'll only be able to keep it off a li'l while, without overheatin'."

    "So they'll attack soon." Woo said. "How's it coming with that door?"

    Sandstrom sounded apologetic. "Sorry sarge. It's stuck fast." The hatch was still ajar, not by much, but too much for anyone's liking.

    "Alright, leave it as it is. Everyone secure yourselves. Use your cable. You ready Tipping?"

    "Ready sarge." He'd applied a silvery grey substance, rather like sticky tape, into a rectangular shape on the outer hull. A disc, about the size of the palm of a hand, was placed in the middle. Wires connected both it and the tape to a control box.

    Tipping darted up to join the others, wrapping cable from his belt dispenser around the metal wall bracing. Woo quickly went amongst them, checking everyone was secure. He paid special attention to Hoshi and Trip, before seeing to himself.

    The sound of rushing footsteps echoed through the open hatch. "They're coming!" Hoshi yelled in alarm.

    Woo shouted "Tipping, now!"

    "Fire in the hole!"

    There was a sudden thud, that was felt rather than heard. The grey tape flared for a split second. And then the whole rectangle of metal just fell away into the darkness beyond.

    The station was inside the planet's atmosphere, but high enough that pressure outside was significantly lower than inside. A sudden wind roared through the still open hatch and out through the hole, powerful enough to drag them forward against their securing cables. Hoshi felt a sudden ache low in her gut. Remembering Reed's advice, she allowed herself to break wind. It was rather forceful, but did relieve the pain somewhat.

    To her alarm, a boot bounced into the room from the corridor before plunging out of the hole. Over the rushing wind she could just make out panicked shouts.

    Then, abruptly, the wind ceased.

    "Must'a shut the 'mergency bulkheads." Trip muttered, almost to himself.

    "I hope they got to safety." she replied softly.

    A sudden bright light from out side illuminated the room.

    "Stand clear." Reed said over the communications net. "There's no way to dock at your current location, so we're sending a line across."

    Something flashed into the room, adhering to the opposite wall. A length of line now stretched out into the atmosphere. Leaning for a better view, Hoshi could see the Beowulf hovering out there, rear to them, hatch open.

    Detaching themselves from the bracing, the marines clipped carabiners to the line, along with motorised grips. Hoshi and Trip were sent first.

    "Don't look down!" Priest advised them.

    In fact there was no real sensation of height. The swirling gasses looked pretty much the same in every direction, perhaps a bit darker below, but nothing to trigger any fear of falling. It took only a few seconds to cross the gap, with the entire section across in less than a minute. The airlock was rather cramped with all of them in, but re-pressurisation wouldn't take long.

    "That's it! We did it!" Hoshi grinned. "We got away with it!"

    Woo visibly flinched. "Please, don't celebrate yet. It's not over till we get back to Enterprise."

    "Yeah." James added." It's like Lieutenant Reed says. Something can always go wrong."
  6. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2009
    mmmm Cookies! :drool:

    Once again, great chapter. As usual I got a great sense of the action going on. Sounds like Reed subscribes to Murphy's laws of combat. Looking forward to the next installment.
  7. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    Excellent chapter.

    Hadn't picked up on the laser symbols. Very nicely done. Reed's got a real crackerjack bunch under his command doesn't he?
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    That really felt like a Marine maneuver. Very crisp. Sounds like this place is a staging depot for something big. That doesn't bode well at all...
  9. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 6, 2007
    "Yeah." James added." It's like Lieutenant Reed says. Something can always go wrong."[/QUOTE]

    Famous last words? Guessing it won't be a smooth ride along the tether line for someone.
  10. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Beowulf One. Departing unknown station.
    17th May 2151

    Archer allowed himself a sigh of relief when he was told Woo's section had made it back safely. He didn't relax completely though. They were still a long way from safety. He turned to Reed.

    "Malcolm. Get us out of here. You're the expert on covert missions, so I'll let you decide how. Just get us back to the Enterprise safely. And while you're at it, detonate the bombs we left at the weapons factory."

    Reed's lip curled up slightly in approval. "Aye sir."

    With the Lieutenant on the communicator to the pilot, Archer strode as fast as the low gravity would allow to the back of the shuttle. The light over the airlock blinked from red to green, and the hatch opened.

    "Hoshi, are you alright?" He knew the mission status should be his first priority, but right now he was more concerned for his people.

    "I'm fine sir." she replied cheerily, though the fact her right arm was in a sling gave lie to her words. "We got the crystals. Mission accomplished."

    She reached out with her good arm to steady herself as the Beowulf suddenly accelerated. They were under way.

    Reed stomped over. "Right. Can someone explain how a supposedly elite military unit manages to get a UESPA officer under their protection injured?"

    Corporal James stepped forward. "It's all my fault sir. I got careless, sloppy. Had my short holstered, for God's sake."

    "What the bloody hell did you think you were doing, corporal? Exposing Lieutenant Sato to danger? I had you pegged as one of the reliable ones, was I wrong? Well?" he barked.

    This is for my benefit, Archer realized. He had no doubt Reed was angry about the mistakes, but normally the marine wouldn't show it, not in this manner. He wants me to realize he's taking the injury of one of my officers seriously.

    "Alright, this is an important matter, but it can wait till we get back to the ship." he said. "We have more pressing concerns. Trip, you said at the pre-mission briefings that the Neptune class can't track thromium waves?"

    The engineer nodded. "Tha's right, Cap'n. Sensor package ain't designed for scientific work, it's military only."

    "What about that station? Could it track us?"

    Tucker thought it over. "Hmm. Really couldn't say. It's a hodge-podge o' components. We know they got part of at least one Vulcan ship, that old freighter. That won't be good enough, but if they got sensors from a newer design, yeah, yeah they could do it."

    T'Pol approached. "I concur with the engineer's assessment. I must point out however that even with the latest model sensors, it will take time to reconfigure them to detect thromium. Furthermore, the nature of this planet's atmosphere will reduce the effectiveness. If we can get far enough away rapidly, we should be safe."

    "Plus they've probably got their hands full right now." Reed added. "What with the manufacturing plant going boom."

    Archer thought it over. "OK, so they aren't likely to track us down through the Premier's pace maker. Or that other thing."

    "What other thing?" Tucker asked.

    "We found a second thromium source. We had a look while waiting for you to get back. I'm not sure what it is, but I've got suspicions. We'll know for sure when we get it back to the ship."

    "Let Polly and her people have a look at it?"

    "Actually," Archer said to Tucker's surprise, "I was thinking of Doctor Locke."

    Reed cleared his throat. "So. We overheard enemy comms chatter. Something about an animal being found dead. That anything to do with you?"

    Sato and James exchanged glances. "I guess so. We did leave a pretty big corpse back there." Hoshi said.

    James tapped her wrist computer, and sent a series of images to them. "The automatic recording got it all, of course, but I took a few hi-res images after the fight. Thought it'd be useful for identification purposes."

    "Yikes." Reed said softly as he saw the body. He snorted, amused, as the last image came up, Hoshi posed with her foot on the alien like some big game hunter.

    "We also cut this off. For, y'know, DNA traces and stuff." James said. From a belt pouch she pulled a large, green sausage shaped item.

    "Oh! You are evil!" M'boto said, instinctively covering his groin.

    "It's a finger Tony." she said. He relaxed slightly.

    "And an important clue. It may help us identify the enemy." Hoshi added. "We'll see who the finger points to."

    Like a pair of naughty schoolgirls she and James started giggling. Reed shook his head wearily.

    "Hey. Who are these guys?" Trip asked. He'd noticed the prisoners at the front.

    Archer led him over. "This guy was helping to make rifles. Military grade weaponry. And then he tried to bash my head in with a wrench." He pulled the hood from the big man's head.

    Trip looked closely at him as he blinked in the sudden light. "Really? Well, there's a few questions he could answer."

    The man told Trip where he could put his questions.

    "Ah would, but ah got half a packet o' modelling clay stuck up there already."

    The man looked confused by that, and somewhat nervous.

    Archer replaced the hood, before revealing the next prisoner, a pale Vulcan woman.

    "I will not tell you anything." she said.

    "You just did." Hoshi said. "Your accent. You are from Raal, near the Vor'oth sea. You were the one giving flight instructions to the Premier's ship at Rexus."

    Archer had been around Vulcans for long enough to note a slight widening of the eyes. The woman was shocked, though she fought to hide it. She looked straight ahead, body set, clearly intent on giving nothing more away. He grinned at her, and put the hood back.

    "And exhibit three." he said, as the acne ridden youth was unveiled. He looked terrified.

    "Barker, Brian M." he squeaked. "Crewman First Class, UEMA Fleet Division. Serial number RT-441-5151---"

    "At ease, son." Archer said. "Are you seriously claiming to be a representative of United Earth?"

    Trip said "Well now, that puts a new slant on things."

    "It does indeed." Reed put in. "Up until now, we were talking terrorism and espionage. Now we can add treason to the list."

    "You can get hung for that." Trip said conversationally.

    "Hanged, not hung." Reed corrected.

    "Yo' sure on that?"

    "Oh yes, the proper term for execution is hanged."

    The youth whimpered slightly, then collapsed back in his chair. Dent the medic rushed over and determined that he had fainted.

    "I think if anyone is going to tell us anything, it'll be him." Archer said.

    Reed said "Only if he stays conscious long enough."

    "Captain Archer." T'Pol approached from the rear of the shuttle. "I have been examining the images Corporal James took, along with the digit recovered. I can not be certain without access to the Vulcan database, but I have an idea as to the alien's possible origin."

    Archer waved her to a seat, sitting himself opposite. "Go on."

    T'Pol paused, marshalling her thoughts. "It is not a species I myself am familiar with. Indeed, we have had very little direct contact. Most of what we know comes from second or even third hand sources. There is little information, and what there is is often incomplete or contradictory. One thing we do know is that they are called the Orions."

    "The Orions..." Archer murmured.

    "Officially at least, they are traders, business men and entrepreneurs. Unofficially, it has been claimed that they are criminals, pirates, smugglers and mercenaries. It is believed that a large part of their economy is based upon slavery."

    She held up the grisly green finger. "According to the stories, there is a subset of the Orion species. It might be an ethnic group, or the result of a genetic condition. Perhaps they have even been engineered. There is much speculation, and little hard data. But the so called 'Animal People' are treated as little more than commodities by the rest of the population.
    "The Animal men are generally used for manual labour. They are immensely strong and resilient. Anecdotes suggest that they are occasionally used as shock troops in military engagements, though this is unconfirmed."

    "What of the women?" Reed asked, curious.

    T'Pol's eyebrow raised. "Irrelevant to our current situation. If the being Lieutenant Sato and Corporal James encountered is indeed an Orion Animal man, there are serious implications. The Orions are located on the other side of Vulcan space. They should have no contact with this region at all. So either they are much more widespread than previously thought..."

    "...Or the conspiracy reaches right across Vulcan space." Archer realized. "Now that's a grim thought."

    Sato shrugged. "Well, aren't there a lot of independent traders around? Maybe one of them transported the jolly green giant all this way?"

    "Possible," T'Pol purred, "though it would require some means to smuggle such an entity past customs vessels, or a long circuitous route bypassing Vulcan space entirely. I must stress however that I am by no means certain of the alien's identity. It may not be an Orion at all, in which case speculation is futile."

    Suddenly the lighting dimmed, switching to emergency red. The pilot's voice came over the intercom. "Everyone, strap yourselves in! Torpedoes detected, engaging evasive man---".

    And everything went black.


    UES Enterprise. Concealed behind Theta Iota 6-F.
    17th May 2151.

    "It's a pity we have to hide behind this wretched moon." Polly sighed. "There's an absolutely smashing aurora at the planet's south pole. Really spectacular. But the drone doesn't have the sensor package to pull in any decent data."

    "Never mind professor, when the Beowulf gets back it's sure to have all sorts of useful information from inside the planet's atmosphere." Hernandez said, taking a sip of coffee.

    Polly tilted her head. "Hmm-mm. I suppose so. Although what we really need---"

    She broke of at a wailing from her console. Simultaneously red lights began flashing at both her station and the combat sensor post.

    "Massive EM burst detected." Kaufman reported. "Location...within planetary atmosphere."

    "Confirmed." Polly said, looking up from her scanner. Her eyes were wide, and she was white as a sheet. "It's an explosion. A nuclear explosion."

    Hernandez stared at her, shocked. She shook her self, then turned to the crewman at the communications console. "Set condition one throughout the ship. Battle stations!"
  11. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    Looks like Reed was right. Excellent chapter. I'm guessing the EMP, at least temporarily, frazzed the Beowulf's electronics. I doubt it would take them out permanently. A craft like that would be hardened against it or else have back ups that would kick in if the mains went down.
  12. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Duncan is such an optimist-he's assuming it wasn't targeted on the shuttle. Very interesting-when will we see more?
  13. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    It couldn't be. The targeting scanners just aren't good enough at this stage to target something that small through this kind of gas. More than likely they're laying down a pattern on the probable escape vector and hoping for a lucky hit.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. :techman:

    By the way, Badger, would you be willing to do a beta-read for me? After you're done with this of course. I'm thinking about releasing my two novels on Kindle, but I need a beta reader from the British Isles to give them the once over first.
  14. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Sorry, Mistral, but I can't give you a definite date! As always, I know what has to come next, and have a fair idea of how to do it, but actually getting it done is the hard part.

    Duncan, I've just done a quick search for your books. Not available on Amazon but there was a bit of info and a couple of complimentary reviews. Although not my usual reading fare they sound interesting, and I'd be happy to give them a look. Could you explain though what a beta reader is actually supposed to do, and why you feel it advantageous to have a Brit do it?
  15. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    Thanks Badger.

    A beta reader is a person who reads a work of fiction with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.

    In this case, although the story is primarily from a British point of view, and I've tried to use the correct British English spelling, I'm a Yank. I'm pretty sure I've gotten at least a few things wrong. Things that I missed but a native Brit would pick up on. For example: I made use of Denham Green as a location, but later learned that the place didn't exist in 1779. It's one of the things I have to correct for the revised edition, but I'm sure you'll find other things.

    The big advantage of a beta reader is that he doesn't automatically compensate for the mistakes when he reads the way the author does. The errors stand out glaringly to the beta reader. It's really a huge help.

    I should have it ready for you whenever Broken Bow is finished. Thanks again.
  16. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.

    I'm famous! Well, not really, but have a look at the fanfic section of this TV Tropes page!
    I think the title gives a clue as to what it's about.:)

    And now, more stuff!

    Beowulf One. Atmosphere of Theta Iota 6.
    17th May 2151

    For one horrific moment Hoshi Sato thought she was dead. The sudden blindness, the deafness...then she realized she could still hear her own breathing. Her arm still hurt too. Someone grabbed her, bundling her into one of the seats and buckling her in. She reached out desperately, but whoever it was had already moved on. Something bumped against her helmet.

    "Hoshi, are you OK?" It was Captain Archer's voice. He sounded distant, though she guessed she only heard him because he had his visor pressed against hers, carrying the sound vibrations directly.

    "I'm alive, which is always good. Can't see anything, or hear much."

    "Hold on. We'll have you sorted in a minute!" Then he was gone.

    A low rumbling roar penetrated her helmet, and she felt the Beowulf lurch. Someone grabbed her arm, pulling it to get at the wrist mounted control panel. There was a brief white flash, then a field of blue. A yellow bar at the bottom of her vision gradually filled, stopping and starting several times. A short fanfare played.

    "...ering up now. Lieutenant Sato, can you hear me?"

    Her vision cleared, revealing Corporal M'boto peering intently at her. "Yes, yes. And I can see you too! Thank goodness. I thought I'd gone blind."

    M'boto smiled. "Actually, this is to protect your vision."

    "Excuse me?"

    "Your helmet's sensors detected a nuclear detonation---" M'boto began.

    "Nuclear!?" she interrupted.

    Captain Archer, sat next to her, said "There's been more than a dozen nuclear detonations. All fairly low yield, but the first was rather too close for comfort. The rest have been further away, so I'm we're guessing they are firing a few out in the hopes of getting lucky. Good job I asked Mr Reed to plan our trip home."

    The marine grinned. "I had our pilot take us deeper into the atmosphere, just in case they tried anything like this. It looks like they assumed we'd be making for open space, so they've been firing upwards."

    "Right." Hoshi said.

    M'boto continued. "So, anyway, as a safety precaution, your visor polarizes completely, to stop you getting blinded by the flash. External microphones shut down too, so you don't get deafened. What's supposed to happen next is that your Head Up Display starts piping through the image from your cameras." He tapped the lens on his own helmet. "Some reason, that didn't happen in your case. I had to do a system restart. Same thing happened with three others. I reckon we got a faulty batch of kit."

    Reed grumbled. "James' rifle blowing up, her suit's systems getting knocked out, and now this. When this is over---" he broke off as a distant rumble shook the ship. "When this is over, I'll track down whoever in Procurement is responsible and believe me, he will have words with me."

    "Don't ya mean you'll ha' words wi' him?" Trip asked.

    "No. I will have nothing to say. He will. 'Ouch. Stop hurting me, please. Aaaaargh.' Things like that." Reed promised.

    The system operator came over the intercom. "Sir, we are detecting scanner beams, very high powered. They don't seem to be coming from the station, and they don't match the signature for Neptune class ships."

    Archer hit the com switch. "Put the details on the tactical display please."

    The screen lit up with a swirling morass of coloured lines.

    "Well, now, tha's interestin'." Trip drawled. "No way they ca' get a sensor return, not a' this range' in this atmosphere. So what's she doin'?"

    "Something very clever." Archer smiled. "And very useful."


    UES Enterprise. High orbit above Theta Iota 6.
    17th May 2151.

    "Ma'am, we are clear of the moon." Haleh Moshiri said. "All standard manoeuvres are now possible."

    Hernandez nodded and finished her coffee. "Good, remove the helm restrictions please." For safety purposes, when in close proximity to other bodies, it was standard practice for the navigation officer to lock out certain course changes. That way the helm officer couldn't accidentally set the ship on a collision course. In case of emergencies it was possible to over ride the lock out, but that took precious seconds. If extreme manoeuvres were anticipated it was wise to get away from potential hazards.

    "Aye ma'am." Moshiri replied.

    Mayweather reported that his board was now clear.

    Getting away from the moon had another advantage. Hernandez walked over to the computer station, and leant nonchalantly on one of the support struts. "So...aren't you going to thank me?"

    Partridge stiffened slightly. "Thank you? Whatever for?"

    "Well, you did say you wanted to get from behind the moon, didn't you? And now you get to run all the science sensors at full power!"

    "Yes, all of them, at once. Broadcasting way beyond recommended spec's. There's so much cross interference I'm getting nothing useful back. Nothing! Even the passive sensors are blinded."

    "Oh. That's a shame." Hernandez said, trying to keep a straight face. "Good job all our military sensors are hardened against that sort of thing. So at least they are still working."

    Polly shot her a dirty look.

    Hernandez grinned. "Seriously though, do you reckon they can detect us through all that murk, even if we can't see them?"

    "Oh, undoubtedly. We're pumping so much energy into that planet we're causing ionisation in the upper atmosphere. There's no way they could miss that."

    "Right. Dial it down to normal levels. If they know we are here there's no sense broadcasting our presence any further. Besides, power reserves are low enough as it is, we best save what we've got."

    "OK. Does that mean I can do some science now? Please?"

    Hernandez tilted her head from side to side, as if mulling it over. "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, go on then."

    "Finally! I get to do what I'm here for!" Partridge said, bending over her console. "Scanning now. Let's see. Ammonia, methane...yes. Particulate matter, approximat---oh! What's that? Ah, er, a metallic object, rising through the atmosphere...still a bit fuzzy, but it could be a Neptune!"

    Hernandez settled into the centre chair. "Right. Secure sensors to military mode only."

    "What? I only just got started! Fiddlesticks."

    "Sorry Polly, looks like you missed your chance. Mr Gamelin, status of the weapon charging?"

    Ensign Gamelin was overseeing the gunnery section whilst Hernandez had the bridge. "All torpedo tubes armed and ready. Load out is as you specified. The three fifty gig cannons are fully charged, but the five hundreds have only two, maybe three shots each. All countermeasures are on standby."

    "Good. Contact engineering and see if they can spare more power for the five hundred gigs. We've seen what they can do against a Neptune, I want as many shots as possible if push comes to shove."

    "Yes ma'am. It should be possible to divert power from the three fifty's if need be."

    Hernandez waved his suggestion away. "Possible yes, but it's very inefficient. We'd have to give up three, four shots from the smaller guns to get just one from the bigger ones. Much as I like the big guns, that's too much of a sacrifice for my tastes."

    Kaufman at sensors was carefully studying his display. "Silhouette of approaching object shows ninety eight percent match for a Neptune class frigate ma'am, give or take three percentile points due to interference."

    "Looks like we've found our bird." Hernandez said, drumming her fingers on the arm rest.

    "I'm not so sure." Partridge said. She was peering intently into her scanner.

    Hernandez stood and walked closer. "What do you mean?"

    "You caused quite a lot of damage to the Neptune we encountered in the Kraltos system. Now admittedly, we're still at long range, he's still in atmosphere, and I'm having to do this through military sensors as opposed to proper ones, but all the same, I should be reading some evidence of damage. But I'm not. None at all."

    That didn't seem likely to Hernandez. The idea that the conspirators had access to a second Neptune was very improbable. "Are you serious?" she asked.

    Partridge half closed her eyes and stretched her neck out. "I are serious scientist. This is serious observation. And no," she went on normally "I don't expect you to recognize that reference."

    "Ma'am, I'm getting a second contact, about three clicks behind the first. It appears to be...wait...there's a third contact alongside the second, it seems to be in close formation." Kaufman reported.

    "Three ships?" Hernandez mused. "Perhaps we can see who else is involved. Mayweather, point us towards the oncoming ships. Let our big guns have a look at them."

    "Aye ma'am."

    "The first ship has cleared the atmosphere." Partridge said. "There's absolutely no sign of damage. It's not the same one we encountered earlier. And I suppose you'll be wanting me off the bridge now."

    That last part was said so matter of factly that for a moment Hernandez didn't register it. "What? Oh. Oh, no you can stay. You do know how to use that scanner better than any one else, after all. Just don't get in the way."

    Now why the hell did I do that?
    she thought. All this time amongst UESPAs, I must be going soft!

    Polly grinned and gave an enthusiastic if not particularly accomplished salute. "I shan't let you down, Commander Maria!"

    "Rii-iight." said Hernandez, glaring sideways at Kaufman. The sensor specialist hurriedly wiped the grin from his face.

    Partridge did her trick with the heels, flattening them, before pulling her hair back into a long ponytail. As she did so Hernandez noticed something. There was a thick bulge on the catsuits neck, at the back of the collar. She was about to ask about it when Kaufman piped up.

    "Ma'am, I'm now getting readings on the other two ships. They also match the profile of Neptune class frigates."

    Hernandez bit down her exclamation, and took a deep breath. "Are you certain?"

    "To within three, maybe four percent ma'am." He sounded apologetic, as if it were some how his fault.

    "Well, I guess we now know what happened to all three missing ships. Comms, open hailing frequencies, patch me through."

    She lifted a handset. "Attention Neptune class vessels. This is Commander Hernandez of the United Earth Ship Enterprise. You are ordered to enter geosynchronous orbit and power down your engines and weapon systems. Respond."

    "The other two ships are now in range." Polly said. "Now that's weird. No sign of damage to either of them."

    "So you're saying that none of these ships is Hotel-2? But there are only three Neptune's unaccounted for. How can that be?"

    Professor Polly Partridge, holder of six doctorates, widely considered the most brilliant mind of her generation, considered the question with all the resources of her formidable intellect, and replied sagely: "I dunno."

    "Fat lot of good you are. Comms, any reply from them?"

    "No ma'am, but there's a lot of encrypted chatter between the three ships. I'm attempting to decipher, but---"

    "Energy spike! We're being targeted!" Kaufman reported.

    Hernandez threw herself into the centre chair, buckling the seat belt tight. No time for discussion. "Designate them as Hotel four, five and six, in the order they left the atmosphere."

    On the viewscreen three black darts could just be seen against the roiling mass of Theta Iota 6. Suddenly bright points of light glittered into being.

    "Multiple launch detected, two from each ship, six torpedoes inbound, fifty seconds until impact." Kaufman said. "Radiological spike! They're nuclear!"

    "Gamelin, launch counter measures and bring the ECM on-line. Mayweather, evasive patten beta."

    The oil drum sized containers rocketed ahead, generating their clouds of chaff. Rays of energy, invisible to the human eye, poured forth to blind the torpedoes' sensors.

    "Impact in forty seconds...thirty torpedo neutralized by ECM."

    On the view screen one of the bright points suddenly veered off for empty space. As a safety precaution Mark four torpedoes were programmed to take themselves away from a fight and disarm the warhead if they lost track of their target.

    "Thirty entering chaff field.."

    Two of the spots of light flared brightly then faded. They'd hit enough of the obstacle disks to receive significant damage.

    A third missile, confused by the chaff and the electrostatic charge, detonated early. On the Enterprise bridge the view screen darkened automatically to protect from the flash.

    The ship rocked. Various alert sirens wailed.

    "Damage report!" Hernandez demanded.

    Assistant Engineer Adams looked round. "Er, looks like some secondary systems are burnt out by EMP...reports are still coming in. As soon as I know more---"

    Kaufman now sounded rather stressed. "Two still incoming, they're through the chaff."

    Hernandez nodded. "Maintain ECM, activate point defence systems."

    Gamelin nodded. "Aye ma'am."

    "Ma'am! The leading torpedo has locked onto our reactor pod! Ten seconds!"

    Hernandez swore. Though the pod was heavily armoured it was still a vulnerable target. Still at least---

    Gamelin looked up "Point defence system is non operational! I can't stop it!"

    Grabbing the handset, Hernandez hit the 'all stations' key. "All hands, BRACE FOR IMPACT!"
  17. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    I have no idea where "I are serious scientist" is from, but based on your avatar I'm guessing it's a Doctor Who reference. ;)

    Top notch chapter with an outstanding cliffhanger. Do continue kind sir.

    Oh, and I had nothing to do with the trope. But if I'd seen that page I would have. ;)
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Loved Reed's bit about having nothing to say. Funny stuff. And congrats on the Web reference! Now, on with the story!
  19. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2009
    More space combat and spolsions cool! lol Another good chapter, good to see Hernandez wanting the best person for the job regardless of uniform (or lack thereof) on the bridge. Congrats on the trope reference, thats awesome! :techman:
  20. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 6, 2007
    How long do I need to brace for impact?? :guffaw:

    Really enjoying how you get the fun lines in with the action.