UT: TFV - Operation Vanguard

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

    Jul 9, 2001
    The Hub of the Universe
    wow .... Great scene, and great addition of even more dramatic tension. I absolutely love how you ended the scene, leaving us to wonder (or not) just how the Captain feels about their orders. And why do I suspect that something will happen to force their hand where the whole neutral observer thing is concerned? :bolian:
  2. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 12, 2006
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    This is a sucky situation. Granted, other TFV ships are in the area, but Europa is basically alone. I don't know what help they could be even if Sandhurst wanted to.
  3. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Sandhurst's lack of eye contact at the end is going to be very telling, if his crew noticed it. If they get the idea Sandhurst is ashamed of his orders and ashamed of his choice to follow them...it could make them very, very uneasy.

    As far as why this fleet is advancing on the Milky Way, I'm beginning to wonder. I'm waiting for the first cooperative fleet they make contact with, to shed some light on this. I think I have a beginning of a theory.
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 6 continued)

    The Taskforce Operations Center was again crowded with all manner of technicians and area experts, all of whom watched the desperate battle being waged in the approaching star system with rapt fascination.

    The Deobeen fought fiercely to protect their homes from the encroachment of the En-Il-Que fleet, but despite the creativity and ferocity of their defensive tactics, they would be overwhelmed by the sheer technological superiority and greater numbers of the alien invaders in a matter of hours.

    Pell reflected silently that it was likely her own experiences during the Dominion War that had led to her visceral reaction to the battle unfolding before her eyes. Like the desperate Deobeen, she had been on the losing side of too many battles where Starfleet and its allies were soundly thrashed by the Dominion and Cardassians. She knew what it was like to have to continually fall back in the face of insurmountable odds, fighting delaying actions and rear-guard skirmishes as her foes continued their inexorable advance.

    “Commander T’Ser,” called a sensor specialist from one of the operations terminals. “New sensor contact detected, sir. Contact is weak and sporadic. Object is fifteen-point-six million kilometers from the combat engagement in grid epsilon-gamma-two-seven.”

    The exchange jolted Pell from her reverie, and she too turned to examine the sensor telemetry.

    T’Ser rotated her chair to face one of the primary viewscreens in the compartment. “Acknowledged. Put it on viewer two.”

    The viewer enhanced that grid but when the image centered on the location of the sensor contact, there was nothing there.

    “Mister Halabi, why am I not looking at anything?” the Vulcan XO asked with a hint of amusement in her voice.

    “Object appears to be cloaked, Commander,” Halabi responded without missing a beat.

    “Best guess?” she countered.

    “If I had to speculate, sir, my latinum would be on our Romulan friends. The energy signature of the contact is a ninety-four percent match with that of the warbird we scanned near In’Drahn station.”

    “We could see them plain as day last time, so why not now?” T’Ser inquired.

    “We’re a light-year out from the system this time, sir,” Halabi elaborated. “And it appears they’ve modified their cloak to be more effective against our new sensors.”

    “Of course,” the XO murmured sourly. “Continue to track them as best you can,” she ordered.


    Sandhurst sat back in his chair, closing his weary eyes for a few brief moments of solitude. He had just completed the agonizing duty of writing letters home to the families of Petty Officer Carnegie and Engineering Specialist Morovska. The two enlisted personnel had been killed while trawling the wreckage surrounding In’Drahn station, though the exact cause of their deaths was still largely unknown.

    In his two years since accepting a captaincy, Sandhurst had authored more than his fair share of such unwelcome letters, and he’d found that the process never became any easier. He supposed that in a darkly ironic fashion, continuing to suffer over the loss of people under his command was a positive trait. Few Starfleet personnel would want to serve under a captain who’d grown calloused to such losses.

    “Bridge to Captain Sandhurst,” Juneau’s voice intruded into his self-imposed silence.

    “Go ahead,” he answered.

    “You’re needed on the bridge, sir. Something’s happened.”

    Sandhurst waited for further explanation until he was through the ready room doors and settling into the chair Juneau had just vacated. “Sitrep.”

    “Sir, we’ve monitored an explosion at the coordinates of what we believe to be our Romulan ‘echo.’ We’ve been tracking their ship under cloak for the past two hours. It appears that their ship struck something sizeable enough to knock their cloak offline and badly damage their starboard wing and warp nacelle,” Juneau announced.

    “What’d they hit?” Sandhurst asked, looking over to Shanthi at the Science station.

    “Unknown as yet, sir,” Shanthi responded. “Whatever it is, our sensors can’t get a fix on it. It appears to be partially or wholly out of phase with our dimensional plane.”

    Sandhurst frowned. “If it were phased, then how did Romulans run into it?”

    Shanthi continued to eye his displays. “Excellent question, Captain.”

    The first glimmer of a smirk flirted with the edges of Sandhurst’s mouth. “Is that your subtle way of telling me to shut up and that you’re working on it, Lieutenant?”

    “You can’t prove that, sir,” the younger man rejoined in deadpan.

    “Captain,” Juneau called out with a hint of tension in her voice. “One of the En-Il-Que cruisers has broken off from the assault on the Deobeen homeworld’s larger moon and has set a course towards the warbird.”

    “Damn,” Sandhurst muttered under his breath. Then louder, “Project tactical plot on screen. Ops, what’s their ETA?”

    “Thirty-two minutes until they’re in firing range of the Romulans, Captain,” came the response.

    “I’m now picking up a trinary lingua-code broadcast from the Romulan ship,” the ensign at Tactical announced. “They’re issuing challenge to the En-Il-Que vessel and warning them off.”

    The aft turbolift doors parted to admit T’Ser onto the bridge. She glanced at the viewer as she slid into her seat to Sandhurst’s right. “Are you seeing this?” she asked rhetorically.

    “Yes, indeed,” Sandhurst answered, his attention solidly fixed on the viewer’s tactical plot map.

    An alarm at the Ops board warbled, prompting Juneau to note, “Another two hostiles have disengaged from their attack on the Deobeen defensive line and have set an intercept course with the Romulans, sir. They’ll reach the warbird three minutes after the first vessel.”

    T’Ser looked askance at Sandhurst. In a low whisper, she asked, “We can’t allow a Romulan cloaking device to fall into the hands of the En-Il-Que, can we?”

    Sandhurst replied in an equally conspiratorial tone. “The Romulans will destroy their ship before they’d allow it to be boarded and captured.”

    “So we let this play out?”

    He didn’t respond immediately, but instead sat brooding as his eyes drank in the Romulans’ plight described on the viewer’s tactical overlay. Finally, Sandhurst spoke, “Engineering, what’s the condition of the Romulan ship? Will they be able to defend themselves?”

    Lieutenant (j.g.) Lascomb replied, “Their warp engines are offline, and it appears they’ve had to power down their singularity core to prevent a breach. They’re restricted to impulse power only, and I’m seeing multiple hull breaches fore and starboard, with internal fires still burning in habitable compartments. They’ve only got partial disruptors, with operable banks at maybe forty-percent of rated output. Torpedo systems are currently offline.”

    “’Quack’ says the sitting duck,” Sandhurst fumed quietly.

    T’Ser frowned, sensing the direction of the captain’s thoughts. “Sir, we can’t. You said yourself that the Prime Directive prohibits us from getting involved.”

    “They’re our allies,” Sandhurst spoke slowly, as if having to force the words out past rebellious lips.

    “They’re the ones who wandered too close to a raging battle, Captain,” she exclaimed, forgoing any pretense at keeping the conversation private.

    “Maybe so, but they’re still our allies. If we don’t back each other up out here, who else can we turn to?”

    A resigned sigh escaped from T’Ser. “Captain, can you honestly say they’d do the same for us?”

    Sandhurst shook his head. “That doesn’t matter, Exec. This isn’t about who they are and what they’d do. This is about us.” He sat forward slightly in his chair and toggled the ship-wide public address. “All hands, this is the captain. Stand to battle stations, we are at red alert.”

    The klaxon began to wail and the normally bluish-white lights on the bridge’s support columns began to flash red in time with the banshee’s wail.

    “Helm, plot an intercept course with the warbird and engage at maximum warp.” He glanced over at Lascomb at the Engineering station. “Lieutenant, call down to Mister Ashok and inform him we’ll be pushing the ship past Warp 9. He’ll want to keep a close eye on the plasma phase inverter. This is no time for the injectors to crap out on us.”

    As the various officers acknowledged their orders, Sandhurst cast a mischievous look at his first officer. “It’s well past time we scratched the paint on this girl anyway…”

  5. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 6 continued)

    In a lot of ways, what happened with the Romulans really taps into what I feel about Starfleet and the Federation (which I realize is a minority view).

    I literally cheered when I saw the Romulans enter the scene--because frankly, I figured they would be ready to go to battle and do what Starfleet is unwilling to do. The Prime Directive, by the 24th century, has become a bloated excuse for moral cowardice (though it's not surprising now that we know from ENT what sick decision it originated from--see "Dear Doctor") rather than a simple, noble rule like in TOS meant to prevent exploitation and slave situations.

    The Romulans and my Cardassian rebels would--much to their disgust--find themselves very much in agreement about what to do in a situation like this: kick the crap out of the En-Il-Que for stomping on an innocent world.

    They are, as I read this scene, my "ally" even if not exactly that of the Europa crew. ;)

    One other point comes to mind. After Sandhurst potentially saved the Romulans' asses at In'Drahn with that warning, could it be that mnhei'sahe* now demands, in this situation, that they assist Sandhurst in an objective? Perhaps an objective they know a decent person would want to achieve but that the rather in-decent Starfleet wouldn't allow? :evil: Sacrificing some of their own lives for honor would not be un-Romulan to do, in the payment of an honor debt.

    *Not sure if mnhei'sahe exists in your canon; it comes from Diane Duane. But that's what it is. Janice Kerasus' description at the end of that article may shed some light on why I invoked that concept...
  6. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Yeah I'm not buying the idea that the Romulans are in this for purely altruistic reasons. I think it's more likely that they were observing, just like Europa, and inadvertently got too close and hit a mine or something.

    But I love Sandhurst's call here to bail them out now. That, to me, speaks to Starfleet's moral superiority. Because you can bet your butt that the Rommies wouldn't go out of their way to do the same if roles were reversed.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  7. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

    Jul 9, 2001
    The Hub of the Universe
    Just sayin' ..., not that it was all that hard to predict.

    Nice scene. Curious what this partially phased whatcha-muh-jigger is.

    And you're continually giving Sandhurst the absolute best closing lines in these scenes! :techman:
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    With mnhei'sahe (IF that's what this is), believe me--once the perceived debt is settled, it's right back to cat and mouse with the Romulans. They will become enemies again. It's not altruism. It's a transaction. :evil:
  9. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Admiral Admiral

    Sep 14, 2004
    Normally, I'd agree with everybody about the Prime Directive. It's a stupid law that excuses dangerous inaction more often than not.

    But it is the law, and PD or not, Sandhurst had legitimate orders from his immediate commander to stand and observe. Maybe it would be bad if the invaders could take on a warbird and adapt the cloaking device, but finding out if they could might also be vitally important, as well as finding out what weaknesses there are in the Federation's "allies" that might allow the invaders to do it.

    Cold? Maybe, but I'm just injecting a little realpolitik into the situation. Nations don't have friends, and the fact that the Romulans brought it on themselves is a perfectly valid point, and one that should be brought up in Sandhurst's intelligence report. Europa joining the battle to save the Romulans just throws the mission out the window, and completely invalidates what Sandhurst told his officers in the briefing.
  10. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 6 continued)

    “Warp nine-point-two… nine-point-three… nine-point-four…” Lightner’s cadence continued as the starship accelerated up the progressively geometric gradient of the warp scale.

    Sandhurst struggled to sense any tell-tail vibration in the deck plates, but was unable to discern any. He was pushing Europa’s custom-built warp drive harder and faster than ever before, and given the potentially catastrophic danger facing the Romulan vessel if they failed to reach them in time, Sandhurst was understandably tense.

    “Holding steady at warp nine-point-four-seven.”

    The tactical plot map on the main viewer showed the approach of the three En-Il-Que cruisers to the crippled warbird’s position. The Romulan ship had managed to shore up its flagging shield grid, but what was left wouldn’t take much punishment before failing completely. There was obviously not enough available power to engage their cloaking device, if it were still even functional.

    Verrik had left the TOC in favor of his bridge post at the curved Tactical arch behind the captain’s chair. As more detailed scans of the hostile vessels became available, he noted, “The En-Il-Que warships are armed with collimated-energy cannons and what appear to be ion-drive missiles with a warhead yield of approximately eight isotons. Threat Level Index for each of these ships in comparison to Europa is five-point-three.” A TLI of ten would be tactical parity with Europa, so although the starship was superior to an individual En-Il-Que warship, three in concert represented a signficant danger to ship and crew.

    From Ops, Juneau called out, “The first threat vessel is now in weapons range of the Romulans, Captain. They’ve opened fire.”

    The tactical overlay showed the oncoming alien cruiser and the warbird exchanging fire, pelting one another’s shields with their opening volleys.

    “ETA?” Sandhurst urged.

    “Thirty seven minutes, present speed,” Lightner answered smartly.

    “Not good enough,” Sandhurst exclaimed. “Kick it up to nine-point-nine.”

    Lightner glanced over his shoulder from the Flight Control station. “Sir, that’s several times faster than we’ve ever pushed her before. We’ve only calibrated the new plasma phase modulator and the injectors for a maximum of nine-point-five.”

    “I understand that, Mister Lightner,” Sandhurst answered with admirable restraint. “Nevertheless, I want nine-point-nine now, Lieutenant.”

    Lightner bobbed his head as he turned back to his console. “Warp nine-point-nine, aye.”

    This time there was a noticeable vibration in the ship’s spaceframe, and Sandhurst called up an abbreviated warp status schematic on his armrest display. As he examined the fluctuating readings he spoke quietly to T’Ser, “Exec, please notify Sickbay to stand by for mass casualty triage, and have Taiee break out all the Vulcanoid blood-plasma we have in stores.”

    “Aye, sir,” she intoned softly as she accessed her workstation.

    “I’ll want you to lead emergency rescue teams over to the warbird. We’ll need a mix of security, medical, and engineering personnel on each team. Make contact with the ship’s command crew when you arrive so we can better coordinate our efforts.” He offered her a grim smile. “I trust you’re familiar with Search and Rescue operations?”

    T’Ser accepted the orders with a silent nod as she continued to tap instructions into her console, then acknowledged the subtle jibe with an equally sardonic grin. “That’s bread and butter to us Border Dogs, Captain,”

    “Mister Verrik,” Sandhurst directed over his shoulder, “I want security teams standing by to escort our Romulan guests when they come aboard. Have Lieutenant Tiedermeyer and his Marine platoon on hot standby in transporter rooms one and two as a quick-reaction force in case our emergency response teams beaming over meet hostile resistance from either the Romulans themselves or potential En-Il-Que boarding parties.”

    As Verrik set about carrying out the captain’s instructions, Sandhurst tapped at his other armrest, opening a subspace channel on an encrypted Romulan frequency that had been used by both the Imperial Navy and Starfleet during the war. “Romulan vessel, this is the Federation starship Europa. We are inbound at high warp to assist you. We have medical and engineering teams standing by to transport over. Please respond and acknowledge receipt of this message.”

    “Romulan vessel acknowledges our hail and is requesting visual communication, sir.”

    “On screen.”

    The tactical grid vanished, only to be replaced by a wavering, garbled visual feed accompanied by a screeching, crackling audio signal.

    “Juneau, clear that up,” Sandhurst prompted.

    The image steadied and solidified, revealing a badly mauled command center. The silhouettes of figures could just be discerned moving through a pall of wafting smoke. Two figures came briefly into focus, struggling to carry a wounded comrade off the bridge. The image finally centered on the presumed commanding officer as she stood from where she’d been kneeling to check on a fallen crewmember. “Europa, this is the warbird Vexam. Our tactical situation is compromised. I’m afraid you’d have to fight your way in to our position.”

    “Understood, Vexam. If your shields have enough power to absorb the proximate detonation of photon torpedoes, we’ll try to neutralize your attackers that way. If not, it’ll be a close in phaser fight.”

    The Romulan commander held Sandhurst’s gaze for a fraction of a second, as if trying to divine some ulterior motive in her Federation counterpart. “Acknowledged, Europa. We await your arrival.”

    Vexam’s bridge jolted from the impact of a powerful warhead and although she could not say it aloud, the Romulan commander’s eyes pleaded for haste. The signal terminated and was replaced with the tactical overlay.

    A warning alarm began to trill at the Engineering station, where Lascomb looked up from her panel with an expression tight with worry. “Captain, pressure’s rising in the warp reaction chamber and Ashok’s reading variances in the plasma flow through the transfer conduits!”

    “Acknowledged, maintain speed.” Sandhurst shot a look toward Lightner. “Brett?”

    “Two minutes fifteen seconds to system boundary, sir.”

    “Bring us right in on top of them,” he ordered the young lieutenant. Calling back over his shoulder, Sandhurst instructed, “Mister Verrik, I want firing solutions computed to neutralize the threat vessels’ shielding with the least collateral damage possible. Once their shields are down, disable their weapons and propulsion systems.”

    T’Ser stood and made for the tubolift as she tapped her compin. “Emergency response team alpha meet me in transporter room three.”

    “Be careful, Exec,” Sandhurst called after her.

    She paused as the turbolift doors swished open, casting an irony-laden look back at the captain. “Uh… yeah… you too, sir.” T’Ser disappeared into the ‘lift wearing a bemused smile.

    “Mister Shanthi,” Sandhurst addressed the Science station. “Let’s use our ridiculously powerful sensor array to blind the En-Il-Que, shall we?”

    “Aye, sir,” Shanthi replied, directing the full force of Europa’s considerable scanning power on the attacking warships. “I’d advise caution, sir,” Shanthi added. “We’ve lost what little sensor contact we had with whatever Vexam collided with.”

    “On it, Captain,” Lightner offered from the Helm. “I’m bringing us in on a vector opposite the last known coordinates of the obstruction.”

    Juneau turned to fix a concerned look on Sandhurst. “Shall we hail the En-Il-Que and warn them off?”

    Sandhurst cocked his head to one side. “I suppose that is the custom, for all the good it will do.” He toggled the comms on his armrest. “En-Il-Que vessels, this is the Federation starship Europa. You have opened fire on a vessel allied to us. Neither we nor they mean you any harm or seek to interfere with your occupation of this star system. However, if you continue to fire on that ship, I will use any and all force necessary to stop you.”

    After a moment’s silence, Juneau advised, “No response, sir.”

    “Yeah, I didn’t think so,” Sandhurst breathed grimly. He reached out a hand and rubbed the side of his chair. “Time to make your older sister proud, girl,” he whispered to Europa.

    “Emergency deceleration in five… four… three… two… “

    The tactical grid on the viewer winked out to be replaced with a frenzied scene of wildly maneuvering warships and frenetic weapons fire exchanged between them.

    “Open fire,” Sandhurst ordered calmly.

  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 7)

    Verrik’s first volley of photon torpedoes rifled from the launch tubes barely two seconds after Europa had dropped out of warp in the midst of the battle. Vexam’s spirited defense had already battered the shields of two of the En-Il-Que warships, and the crimson flight of torpedoes shredded their more primitive deflection grids which were woefully unprepared for such concentrated destruction.

    This was followed by a flurry of phaser strikes that lanced from the starship’s emitter strips in quick succession to blast weapons ports, missile batteries, sensor nodes and the engine mounts of the boxy, modular looking En-Il-Que vessels. Sandhurst was momentarily shocked by the volume of fire they’d disgorged against the threat craft, as he’d long since grown accustomed to Gibraltar’s more limited tactical capabilities.

    Sandhurst was about to turn and instruct Verrik to reign in the enthusiasm of their attack when Europa was buffeted once, then again. The captain found himself quickly scanning the engineering readouts on his armrest display. “Engineering,” he called, “are you reading a problem with the inertial dampeners?”

    “Sir,” Verrik said from behind him as discretely as possible under the circumstances. “That’s enemy fire impacting our shields.”

    Sandhurst blushed fiercely, thankful for the red glow of the alert lighting. “Of course,” he said in a muffled voice from behind one hand. The attack had not been accompanied by the bone-rattling jolts that he’d come to expect.

    “Two of the threat vessels have been neutralized,” Juneau observed. “The third is turning hard about and accelerating away.”

    “Cripple her,” Sandhurst commanded. “I don’t want any operational enemy ships in range when we lower shields to render aid to Vexam.”

    Another storm of phaser beams slashed out to sunder the retreating warship’s defensive grid. Thus compromised, Verrik launched three photons set for electromagnetic pulse detonation that exploded fifty meters aft, port, and starboard simultaneously. The resulting EM burst fused every active electronic component aboard the vessel, leaving her adrift with only minimal emergency power.

    “Europa to Vexam,” Sandhurst hailed the warbird. “We’ve dealt with your attackers. Lower shields for transport of our emergency teams.”

    An image of Vexam’s smoking bridge took shape on the viewer. The soot-smudged face of the ship’s commander came into focus. “You have our thanks, Europa. We stand ready to accept your assistance.”

    “Commander T’Ser, you are clear to energize,” Sandhurst addressed the intraship.

    “Transporter control to bridge, rescue teams are away. All teams signaling safe arrival.”

    Sandhurst sat in the eye of the storm for the next ten minutes, listening to status reports from various bridge stations and T’Ser’s initial damage assessment from Vexam. Romulan casualties were beaming into Sickbay where Taiee, Dr. Multorlo, and the LMH programs set to work assessing and treating a host of battle-related injuries.

    He’d worried that their clash with the En-Il-Que ships would bring others to their rescue, but the aliens’ main force was now engaged in a planetary assault on the Deobeen homeworld. Sandhurst guessed that any relief force would have to wait until the invaders had established a firm foothold on the planet.

    “Captain,” Shanthi called from the Science station atop the bridge’s starboard ‘wing.’ “You’ll want to see this, sir.”

    Sandhurst stood and made his way to stand alongside the lieutenant’s workstation. “What have you got, Kuenre?”

    “That last flight of torpedoes we launched at the fleeing warship was set to give off an EM pulse. It looks like the object the Romulans originally struck while under cloak was within the blast radius of the EM shockwave.” Shanthi pointed to an image of a visibly wavering field, not unlike a mirage, that was distorting the stars behind it. “It’s becoming partially detectable.”

    Sandhurst scowled at the anomaly. “I don’t like it. It appears to have been phase-cloaked, and it’s obviously not Romulan or Federation in origin. Now we’re sitting here naked without shields engaged in SAR ops while there’s something potentially dangerous sitting next to us.”

    “Klingons?” Shanthi posited.

    “Doesn’t smell like Klingons,” Sandhurst observed. “Though I’m sure they’d happily sit back and watch a Romulan ship get pasted, it’s not like them to miss out on a battle and let their puny Federation allies claim all the ‘glory.’”

    The two men turned to face Verrik at his Tactical station. “Lieutenant, did you overhear—“ Sandhurst began.

    “Vulcan,” Verrik offered, gesturing to his ears. “And yes.”


    “It presents an unknown variable in an already less-than-optimal scenario, Captain. I suggest another torpedo set to EM burst targeted directly on the object.”

    “Not especially subtle,” Shanthi pointed out, “but given our circumstances it’d be the fastest way to determine its threat potential.”

    Sandhurst nodded curtly and pointed toward Verrik. “Do it.”

    While Verrik was preparing the warhead yield, Sandhurst had Juneau notify Vexam to raise their shields as a precaution while Europa did the same.

    Sandhurst gave the order to fire, and the missile raced away to detonate in a bright wash of light. Slowly, almost reluctantly, an artificial structure of some kind wavered into existence. Great solar-panel like arrays fanned out from a central core. Two fractured arrays, presumably caused by the collision with Vexam, disturbed the otherwise elegant symmetry of the device.

    “Reading some highly exotic constituent elements, sir. It… appears to be a probe of some kind, perhaps a communications relay.”

    “Does it conform to Deobeen or En-Il-Que designs?” Sandhurst inquired.

    “Negative,” Shanthi and Lascomb answered in concert, which resulted in a scowl from the young engineer answered by a smirk from the science officer.

    Juneau turned in her chair from the nearby Ops station to join the discussion. “It’s broadcasting something into the extreme high-end of the subspace bands, but our signals decryption programs can’t identify any referents for decoding the signal.”

    “Engineering to bridge,” Ashok’s voice issued from the overhead speakers.

    “Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

    “Sir, we’ve found microfractures in the dilithium crystal. I believe it’s due to the stress we subjected it to during the nine-point-nine run into the system.”

    Sandhurst winced perceptibly, knowing full well the difficulties that presented. Ultimately there was no one else to blame but himself, as the design of their increasingly troubled propulsion system was his ‘masterpiece.’

    “There’s no way we can pull the crystal, replace it, and initiate a cold-startup of the reactor while in proximity to hostiles,” Sandhurst noted.

    “Agreed, sir.”

    “Reduce reactor output to the minimum required to sustain shields and weapons. If we have to leave in a hurry, what speed do you judge ‘safe’ under the circumstances?”

    “No more than Warp five, sir.”

    “Acknowledged,” Sandhurst sighed. “Bridge, out.” He turned to regard Juneau. “Put me back on with Vexam’s commander.”

    After a moment the warbird’s bridge appeared on screen, this time absent the smoke from earlier, but still looking a shambles. The officer Sandhurst had spoken with previously was standing to one side of the bridge, in conference with T’Ser as they examined a cross-section diagram of the Valdore-class ship.

    T’Ser stepped away and the viewer centered on her. “Captain Sandhurst, may I introduce Sub-Commander Chalois, acting commander of the warbird Vexam.”

    Sandhurst inclined his head towards the Romulan as she moved into view beside his XO. “Hello, Sub-Commander. Given the circumstances, I’ll dispense with the pleasantries.”

    Chalois was a striking Romulan female, with unexpectedly soft facial features bounded by flowing auburn tresses. There was no sign of the severe militaristic hairstyle favored by most female naval officers. She bobbed her head in reply. “Agreed, Captain. You have my thanks for the timely rescue.”

    “You’re welcome,” he answered. “Sub-Commander, we’ve disrupted the phase cloak of the object you struck. Do you recognize it, by chance?”

    Chalois moved to one of her bridge’s few operable consoles, calling up an image of the device. “Our library retrieval system is presently offline,” she remarked, “but it does not look familiar to me.”

    “It appears we may not be the only ones who had this system under surveillance,” Sandhurst offered. “What's the status of your ship?”

    “We are without warp power and our impulse reactors are overtaxed from the strain of defending against the aggressors. Our starboard nacelle is heavily damaged, our torpedo systems are inoperative, and we have multiple hull breaches across all quadrants of the ship. Nearly a third of our crew has been killed or wounded, including Commander Ennig.”

    “Understood. Many of your crew are being treated aboard Europa, and I can dispatch additional engineering teams to assist, should you wish it. I understand there are areas and systems where you likely don’t want Starfleet personnel poking around, but my people can patch hull breaches and attend to other non-sensitive systems.”

    “Yes,” Chalois said, a hint of relief in her features. “That will be acceptable.”

    “Excellent, I’ll begin dispatch—“

    “Captain!” Juneau called from Ops. “Subspace fissure bearing two-five-zero, mark one-three-nine, distance seven-hundred twenty kilometers!”

    “Jesus, that’s right on top of us,” Lightner hissed through gritted teeth.

    “Red alert,” Sandhurst barked. “Put it on screen,” he called as he retreated to his command chair. “And patch our viewer image through to Vexam.”

    A brilliant white light appeared to be burning through the fabric of space itself, a growing, tumultuous fracture spilling unknown energies into the void.

    Pell stepped onto the bridge from the turbolift, shielding her eyes from the glare with her hand as the viewscreen began to dim the image. “Oh, this can’t be good,” she remarked dryly as she slid into her chair to Sandhurst’s left.

    “The alien array is now transmitting its signal into that aperture, Captain,” Shanthi offered.

    “Bring us around to face the fissure,” Sandhurst ordered. “Route auxiliary power to forward shields and weapons. Verrik, get some quantums in the tubes.” He activated the comms. “Sub-Commander, given the state of your shields, I suggest you maneuver behind us.”

    “Something’s emerging from the fissu—“ Juneau began, but her words were drown out by the warbling annunciator from the Tactical console indicating Europa’s weapons had been unleashed. A brace of quantum torpedoes and streamers of phaser fire tore into the open maw of the phenomenon.

    Sandhurst spun halfway around in his chair, fixing a furious look on his security/tactical chief. “Verrik, what the hell?”

    “OH MY GOD!” Juneau gasped from her station, prompting Sandhurst to glance back at the viewscreen.

    The blinding storm of energy dimmed as if choked by the sheer mass of the enormous metallic cube that seemed to be extruding through into normal space. The side of the gigantic hexahedron facing Europa was blackened and pitted in places, courtesy of Verrik’s preemptive salvo.

    “Borg!” Shanthi shouted unnecessarily.

    Sandhurst stared numbly at the screen, utterly dumbfounded by this turn of events. After what felt like an achingly long moment, he found his voice. “Continue firing, all weapons!”

    A cascading wall of weapons fire belched from the cube, bathing Europa’s shields in a storm of multicolored energy blasts, accompanied by an eclectic mix of exotic missiles.

    Sandhurst was still trying to decide how he might manage to attenuate their shields to get a tractor beam on Vexam when the sledgehammer blow of the cube’s massed weaponry struck. The bridge seemed to drop out from beneath Sandhurst and blackness claimed him.

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  12. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Nothing ever comes easy to the crew of the former starship Gibraltar, does it? Her first battle and already she's up against the Borg. And here I was hoping Sandhurst and co would for once know the feeling of going into a battle with the odds stacked fairly in their favor. Ha. Silly me.

    The Romulans so far are surprisingly humbled and thankful but that may be due to the Sub-commanders inexperience. I'm not yet convinced that they make steadfast allies. Judging by the status of their ship, doesn't look like they'll be much help against the Borg.

    Something tells me Europa will need much more than a new paint job once all is said and done.
  13. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

    Jul 9, 2001
    The Hub of the Universe
    you don't do anything in a small way, do you? :evil:
  14. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Admiral Admiral

    Sep 14, 2004
    Re: TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 7)

    The Borg?


    I've just lost all respect for you.
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Re: TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 7)

    Do you know of any good starshipbody shops in the Delta Quadrant? ;) Thanks for the commentary!

    CanIgetanAmen! :lol:

    Really? :wtf:

    Methinks you've not been paying sufficiently close attention to Donald's dreams.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    In all fairness, it's not that hard to lose Admiral2's respect.
  17. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 12, 2006
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Well, at least it's not a cube. They might have a chance. :borg:

    They can't even run without the Romulans...well, they could.

    Anything less than this situation would bore Sandhurst anyway. ;)
  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    TFV - Operation Vanguard (Chapter 7 continued)

    Chapter 7 <cont'd>

    When Pell pushed herself up off the deck the first thing she noticed was the near silence on the bridge. There were a few groans and whispered inquiries, but by and large it seemed as though both the ship and crew had the collective wind knocked out of them.

    Nobody else asked so Pell called out, “Report!” She moved slowly across the deck on all fours, crawling over the immobile forms of other personnel as she sought to reach where Sandhurst lay still.

    Verrik’s voice issued from the back of the bridge, “Shields at twenty-one percent. We are being held in place by a Borg tractor beam, which is draining our remaining shield power. We have minimal phaser energy and the guidance gyros in our torpedo systems are recalibrating; sixty seconds until they’re launch-ready.”

    Lightner clambered up and into his seat as blood trickled into his eyes from a gash on the crown of his head. He activated his chair’s restraint harness as he throttled the impulse engines to maximum. “They’ve got a solid hold on us,” he announced to the shell-shocked bridge. “Impulse drive’s at full, and we’re not budging.”

    Pell reached Sandhurst and checked his pulse, finding it strong and steady. “Modulate shield nutation and target all available phasers on the source of the tractor beam,” she commanded as she stood on trembling legs and slid into the captain’s chair. “Computer, activate bridge EMH.”

    The bridge’s dedicated EMH materialized into the beleaguered command center. It stopped itself from asking the nature of the medical emergency, as the state of the bridge was answer enough. The holographic physician immediately opened the bulkhead compartment containing an emergency medical kit, flipped open a medical tricorder, and knelt over Sandhurst as it scanned him for injuries.

    Juneau centered the main viewscreen on the Borg ship as she pulled herself back into her seat. “Phasers are firing, and Vexam’s also opened up on the tractor emitter, Commander.”

    “Outstanding,” Pell murmured as she called up a tactical display on her armrest console. “Result?”

    The ship jostled briefly as the tractor emitter exploded impressively. However, two additional emitters took up where that one had left off with barely a nanosecond’s interruption. “They’ve compensated!” Juneau alerted.

    “They’ve adapted to our random nutation,” Verrik advised. “Shields down to sixteen percent… fifteen…”

    “Status of our torpedo launchers?” Pell inquired

    Verrik answered stolidly, “Twenty seconds. However, by the time they’re launch-capable, any photonic explosions in close proximity would overwhelm our failing shields and likely destroy the ship.”

    On the viewer, another salvo of disruptor bolts from Vexam joined Europa’s phasers to savage the nearest facet of the gargantuan cube, laying claim to another tractor emitter. As before, yet another beam sprung forth and locked onto Europa’s collapsing shield grid, holding the ship in an unbreakable vise-grip.

    Pell struggled to think of something, anything that might enable the ship to escape its fate. Nothing came to her, and she stood transfixed as the last joules of their shield power evaporated.

    “Shields have failed,” Verrik said as Europa lurched with the impact of the tractor’s grip on her naked hull.

    Multiple sources of blinding light erupted throughout the bridge simultaneously. Nearly all of the crew shielded their eyes against this unexpected assault on their senses, but Verrik’s nictitating inner eyelids slammed shut to protect his optic nerves from damage. Thus girded, he reached beneath his console to produce a hand phaser to meet what he surmised to be more likely than not a hostile boarding action.

    As the wash of light dimmed, Verrik perceived a squad of quickly moving figures fanning out across the bridge. Each of the intruders was clad from the neck down in brilliant, shimmering armor upon which flowed a multitude of colors and patterns in a disorienting visual frenzy.

    “Intruder alert!” Verrik called out as he increased the setting on his phaser in deference to the enemy’s protective coverings. He sent a stream of phaser energy into the chest of the nearest intruder, which impacted her breastplate with a loud clap and a gout of sparks as she was launched off her feet and sent sprawling onto her back.

    Another of the intruders swung some manner of battle staff at Verrik, the head of which crackled with energy. He ducked just in time for the weapon to strike the Tactical station with an explosion of plastics and shards of multitronic substrate.

    The Vulcan security officer raised his phaser to fire again, but his opponent brought the opposite end of the staff up and over in a lightening quick maneuver that shattered Verrik’s phaser along with several bones in the hand holding it.

    Verrik bit back an agonized groan in response to the blow, and then dropped to a crouch with an almost preternatural quickness as his foot lashed out to leg-sweep his aggressor. The blow did indeed send the intruder off his feet, but the impact against the dense armored leggings fractured Verrik’s own foot and fibula.

    A hand grabbed Verrik roughly by the back of his neck, pulling him up off the floor. He caught a brief glimpse of a jubilantly smiling female face before she threw him headlong into the master systems display at the back of the bridge.

    Meanwhile, Juneau had turned in her seat to find herself face-to-face with one of the attackers. She reached for her phaser under the Ops console, though she knew that she hadn’t enough time before the intruder landed his first blow. However, the man stood still, poised to strike, nodding his head towards her in a clear invitation to defend herself.

    As Juneau grasped the handle of the phaser she leaned back in her chair and drove an awkward kick at her opponent. He easily parried the blow with the shaft of his pole arm. She tried to bring her weapon up, but the man reached out almost gently with the staff and touched the head of it to her abdomen. Juneau was engulfed in a roiling field of bluish energy and slumped insensate to the deck.

    Kuenre Shanthi launched his lanky form from the Science station in Juneau’s defense, aiming a haymaker punch at the back of the intruder’s unprotected head. Barely five centimeters from making contact with his target, Shanthi’s fist collided with an invisible barrier possessing the solidity of a brick wall. The lieutenant recoiled in surprise and pain as the intruder spun around with an amused expression on his startlingly human looking features. The alien moved quickly past him and swatted Shanthi playfully across the backside with the bottom of his battle staff.

    Two of the intruders made a beeline for the command area, prompting Pell to move to the disabled Sandhurst’s defense. A wheeling blow from an attacker’s battle staff meant for the Bajoran was intercepted by the EMH, which struggled briefly with the alien for control of the weapon before an electrical discharge of some kind arced across the shaft and caused the doctor to lose holographic cohesion and vanish.

    Pell drove an elbow strike at the attacker’s face, but encountered the same protective bubble Shanthi had. As she stumbled backwards from the unexpected impact, the intruder struck her in the side of the head with the business end of the staff, surrounding her in a stun field that abruptly ended their brief encounter.

    Lightner disengaged his safety restraints and sprang from his post to tackle one of the aliens that had appeared at the front of the bridge. For his effort Lightner had his head snapped back by a blow from the shaft of her staff as she drove the weapon into him with both hands. He had a brief memory of fighting with pugil sticks as an Academy cadet before a follow-on kick from the armored woman sent him toppling backwards over the Helm and Ops consoles to spill unceremoniously onto the deck.

    In ones and twos the bridge crew succumbed to the speed, martial prowess and armored endurance of their attackers. It was over in thirty seconds.

    One of the intruders rolled the unconscious form of Pell over, moving her from where she’d fallen across the equally cataleptic Sandhurst. He knelt down and inspected Sandhurst’s face before locking eyes with his female comrade. “Inomer caoum diitle Zeischt.”

    “Za’oud,” she agreed.

    The doors of the fore turbolift, crammed with security personnel, opened only to meet a fusillade of energy bolts from the intruders’ staffs. The doors closed on a tangled pile of comatose personnel as the ‘lift was recalled to deck five.

    Transporter energy cascaded over the intruders, struggling to gain a lock on them before being rebuffed by their armor.

    The alien kneeling over Sandhurst detached a small object from his waist and attached the blinking device to Sandhurst’s chest while pulling off the captain’s combadge and tossing it aside.

    Lightner was reaching for a discarded phaser with a trembling hand when the bridge was again filled with a blinding light that carried away their attackers plus one of their own crew.

    The young helmsman rubbed his eyes for moment until the dancing spots in his vision had cleared sufficiently for him to see Verrik pulling himself into a sitting position from behind the wrecked Tactical station.

    “Not the Borg, then.” Verrik observed.

    Lightner groaned. “I’ll second that.”

    Verrik tapped his combadge. “The intruders have left the bridge.” He stood shakily on one foot and visually scanned the bridge. “Medical teams to the bridge, we have multiple casualties.”

    Lightner regained his feet uneasily, checking his console. “The Borg cube has moved off at full impulse. Vexam’s weapons have been disabled, but the warbird is still intact.” He looked towards Verrik as the Vulcan limped towards the command chair. “Aside from damage to our shield generators and weapons arrays, we’re surprisingly intact, sir.”

    “Indeed,” Verrik assessed. “Their intent was not to destroy us.”

    “Then what did they want?” asked Lightner.

    Verrik raised an eyebrow that hinted at his displeasure with Lightner’s observation skills. “Our captain, apparently,” he replied coldly.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  19. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    "Not the Borg, then."

    A rather un-Vulcan like statement which nevertheless sums up this chapter perfectly. Whoever these people are, their methodical boarding mission and abduction was impressive both by its violence as well as its non-lethality.

    Very curious to find out what's happening here. As for Sandhurst. Hasn't the man been through enough already?
  20. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 3, 2005
    It looks like Nara's not the only one to have upset the local denizens.