Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Judge Death, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    My Winning entry for the Autumn Challenge - "Desperation"

    It focuses on the outbreak of the Four Years War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in the 2240s.

    * * * * *​

    U.S.S. Ares NCC-524

    Klaxons shattered the dark stillness.

    In a heartbeat, Jaffari Xa-Haghaarn was on his feet and heading for the door, grabbing his communicator just before he stepped into the corridor. Picking up the pace to a steady sprint, he flipped open the device. “Bridge, report.”

    “Sensors have just picked up a number of ships incoming, sir. Their course tracks back to the Klingon Empire,” reported the officer-of-the-watch.

    “I will be there momentarily. I want number and type of ships; also establish a comlink to the station.”

    “Aye sir.”

    Gha’vrak!” he cursed under his breath. There had been some chatter about rumblings from the Klingons, but nothing had been substantiated; so aside from being told to stay alert, the ships patrolling the border had been given no more warnings or instructions.

    Bare-chested and footed, Xa-Haghaarn stepped into a waiting turbolift carriage and ordered it to the bridge. The Ares was on a twenty-four hour layover at Deep Space Station I-7, taking on supplies and allowing the crew some much needed R&R, so all of the crew had let their defences down for a moment—he himself had been enjoying some long-overdue meditation—but their lapse in vigilance would now be punished. But they hadn’t just left themselves in the lurch, but the four hundred people on I-7 and thirty thousand on the planet they orbited. With no other combat-capable ships in the system, the lone destroyer was the only line of defence.

    The doors parted and he stepped onto the command deck, where the lighting had dimmed and the alert panels flashed red. The beta shift staff were all at their posts, except Lieutenant Cedrac, who was bent over the science console next to Ensign Farog. He approached the watch officer, his tread silent on the cool metal deck.


    She glanced back at him. “Sir,” she replied, her French accent making the simple word sound like a purr, before looking at one of the large monitors above Farog’s console, which showed a sensor sweep of the system, “we have three D-4 battlecruisers and twelve B-6 birds-of-prey on course. ETA is in eighteen-point-nine minutes. The station reports that they have detected the ships and implemented alert status.”

    He took the information in with a nod. “Are our people back on board?”

    She shook her head. “The station has paged them, but it’ll take time for them to get to the transporter rooms.”


    Cedrac cast a worried glance at the junior comm officer then back at him. “The Defiant and Alexander both report facing Klingon battle groups in the Akerin and Tregoss systems. The Ptolemy is the only Starfleet ship close to our position that isn’t engaged in fighting. It looks like this is an all out invasion.”

    “No Lieutenant,” he said, keeping his voice low. “This is war.”

    The turbolift opened again, he looked over his shoulder to see Lieutenant Rol and Chief Reese enter, both hastily dressed, before they both too their customary places at communications and helm/navigation respectively. He felt a little easier having more experienced staff replacing the two younger crewmembers who usually worked the shift—they, like himself, had opted to remain onboard, rather than partake in the recreational facilities on the station.

    They didn’t have time to wait for the seventy-three members of the crew on I-7, if the station and colony were going to have any chance to evacuate, the Ares needed to intercept the Klingons ASAP.

    “Chief, break docking orbit, set an intercept course with the Klingons, maximum impulse. Rol, sound battlestations and patch the station administrator to this monitor. Then contact the Ptolemy, tell them we will need their assistance.”

    “Aye sir,” both men answered and set to task.

    As he looked at the monitor he’d asked for the comlink, Cedrac moved from the science console and addressed Lieutenant JG Enax, ordering the Edosian to divert all power to deflector screens, load photon torpedoes and charge all phaser banks.

    He nodded appreciatively as the monitor came to life and depicted the lined face of Administrator Frampton, who was obviously worried. Focusing on the civilian, he held the older man’s eyes. “Administrator, we are moving to intercept the Klingons. We will try to buy you as much time as we can, you have to evacuate.”

    “You can’t take on fifteen ships on your own!” he exclaimed.

    “Let us worry about that, Administrator. You have to get the civilian population out of the system,” Xa-Haghaarn stated, his tone hard.

    “Already underway, Commander. Governor sh’Rohva has implemented the colony evac programme, but there are only five freighters—it’s not enough to take every man, woman and child.”

    “Fill those ships, have them stand and exhale if you have too. My crew onboard will help anyway they can.”

    “Good luck, Commander.”

    “And to you, Administrator. Ares out.” Once the channel closed he moved over to his chair and perched on the edge, listening to all the officers and non-coms on the bridge as they readied themselves for battle. Cedrac was moving from station to station, assessing the situation and offering support where it was needed.

    She would’ve had a promising career ahead of her, he mused solemnly then shook his head. We’re not dead yet.

    “Sir, incoming signal from Lieutenant Commander th’Shada.”

    “Put him through, Lieutenant.” He waited a moment for the channel to open, then tapped the panel on his armrest. “Go ahead, Keeva.”

    “Commander, looks like you left me behind,” the Andorian XO and security chief quipped, though sounded far from jovial.

    “Sorry about that. No time to waste unfortunately. How’re things looking there?” he asked, keeping his voice low, not wanting to distract those around him.

    “Tense. Word has already gotten out, people are afraid and starting to panic. I’ve only been able to pin down a few of the crew and ordered them to the transporter rooms, hangar decks and lifeboats, we’ll keep things orderly as best we can. How is it looking out there?”

    “We’ve got three cruisers and twelve escorts heading this way. The Defiant and Alexander are engaged elsewhere along the border, it looks like the cold war with the Klingons has finally heated up. We may not be able to take them all on, but we can at least stall them, buy the station and colony some time.”

    There was a beat of silence. Xa-Haghaarn and th’Shada had served together for six years and knew each other well, having been through some harrowing missions and difficult times, but they both knew that given the odds, there was no chance that they would meet in this lifetime. Even if the Ares did buy the station some time, the Andorian would never take the place of a civilian during the evacuation, whilst I-7 had only minimal shielding—the Klingons would tear through it in a matter of minutes—so it was unlikely that the base would survive the assault.

    “Good luck, Jaffari.”

    “And to you, Keeva. Ares out.”

    He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, just as Cedrac stepped down from her checks on the upper level and stopped next to his chair, her hands clasped behind her back. He looked down at the young woman, her long, shimmering blonde hair tied back in a simple ponytail. A new addition to the crew, she had come highly recommended from the Constitution—the fact that she gave up a billet on one of the newest ships built for a post on a destroyer spoke volumes, if they were going to go down fighting, she was someone he wanted by his side.

    “All sections report ready, sir,” she stated simply.

    “Thank you, Lieutenant.”

    “The Ptolemy will get here seven minutes after we engage the Klingons. It looks like we’ll be going it alone.” She paused a moment, glanced at the deck before looking at him. He could see the uncertainty on her face, the questions she wanted to ask, the knowledge that their chances of survival were slim to nil (and even that was being generous). Her youthful visage wrestled with them all, as well as her sense of duty—now wasn’t the time to give voice to fear and impending doom, not in front of the crew.

    Flexing her shoulders then straightening her tunic, she asked calmly, “Orders Commander?”

    “As humans say, we’re going to play cat and mouse. Our objective is to stall that fleet for as long as we can, we must buy the civilians as much time as possible to evac.”

    * * * * *​

    U.S.S. Ptolemy NCC-3801

    Commander Naya had just been about to achieve the seventh sensation with Lieutenant Eilo, her Chief Engineer, when red alert sounded. Uncoupling, the two Deltans had quickly dressed and ran to their stations. She had stepped onto the compact bridge of the tug to find M’Tahvo and Valderama already at their posts at the flight control console.

    “What’s the situation?” she asked her K’Normian XO.

    “Multiple messages from ships along the border, the Klingons have launched a full-scale attack on Federation space,” the navigator replied in her customary monotone. “The Ares has asked for our assistance. They are at I-7 and the Klingons are on approach. All other ships are engaged in fighting and they need assistance.”

    “They can’t be serious,” Valderama exclaimed. “We’re no match for a bird-of-prey, let alone anything bigger.”

    “There are over thirty thousand civilians in that system, Ensign. Any support we can offer will be better than none,” she said, her eyes locked on the starscape. She looked at M’Tahvo. “ETA?”

    “At our best speed, thirteen minutes.”

    “Do it.”

    “Shouldn’t we jettison the container?” M’Tahvo enquired. The Ptolemy was relatively lightly loaded, hauling only a single module, though it was filled with a dense form of deuterium—they had been en route to Starbase 10 to restock their starship refuelling depot.

    Naya shook her head. “Not just yet.”

    “Aye sir,” she replied and set to task.

    As she turned back to her chair, the turbolift doors opened. Master Chief Bahjorr and Chief Kane entered the bridge, but whilst the human quickly headed to her place at communications, the Tellarite stood on the upper tier, hands planted firmly on his hips.

    “What in the name of the Goddesses third nipple is going on now!” the Cargo Chief demanded.

    “It’s the Klingons,” she said simply, but before he could ask anything more, she quickly followed it up. “Master Chief, how long would it take to get several containers of antimatter into the pod?”

    “What? By Gohrav’s rotting testicle, why would you ever want to do that?”

    She gave him a slight smile. “Master Chief, I need half a dozen containers in the pod before we reach the Ares in less than thirteen minutes. Less questions, more action.”

    With a derisive snort, he turned on his heel and left. Naya slowly settled into her chair, her stomach tying itself in knots at the thoughts of going into battle. During her tenure commanding the Ptolemy, they had faced off against a few raiders and opportunistic pirates, never any ships with significant firepower. They would now be going up against a battle-ready fleet of Klingon warships.

    * * * * *​

    U.S.S. Ares NCC-524

    “Weapons range in ninety seconds,” Farog stated, his voice shaking.

    “Chief, punch us straight through their ranks, then swing us around. Enax, full barrage as we go through, then focus on taking out the cruisers’ engines—cripple them before they can get close to the station.”

    “Aye sir,” they both replied.

    “Commander,” Cedrac spoke up from the engineering console, “we’ve managed to boost deflector screen strength up to one hundred twenty-five percent.”

    “Hold fast everyone,” Xa-Haghaarn ordered, finally sitting back in his seat and gripping the armrests, readying himself for the thrashing they were about to take.

    The Ares was as ready as she could ever be, given the circumstances. He would’ve preferred to have had his senior staff around him, but he knew his crew were well trained—even a rookie like Farog. As they’d barrelled towards the fleet, Rol had been monitoring the evacuations; they were not going well. Despite having procedures in place and run readiness drills, the realities of the situation were too much for the civilians who were panicking and slowing the process down.

    “Entering weapons range in five,” Enax stated, each of her three hands poised over a separate control; left on screens, middle on torpedoes, right on phasers.

    Xa-Haghaarn counted down silently. As soon as he hit zero, the task force unleashed everything they had. Even before the first strike hit, he felt every muscle in his body coil. “Fire!”

    The Saladin-Class destroyer took the full onslaught of disruptors and torpedoes, the sturdy ship knocked and buffeted about, warnings sounded, taxed systems groaning under the additional stress. But Chief Reese kept them on course and Enax struck back with all the Ares had. Cobalt phaser beams and crimson torpedoes scorched and smashed into the shields of the cruisers and their escorts, though the deck and bulkheads were shaking so much he could barely make out their shapes on the viewscreen.

    The impacts only intensified as the ship drew nearer, the Klingons slowing and focusing on the starship, her narrow profile being put to good use evading as much as they could. The din on the bridge made it difficult to hear anything, though he picked out key bits of information—most importantly their shield integrity, which was dropping fast.

    They were almost through when sparks burst from one of the port side consoles and the lights flickered. Petty Officer sh’Vhern shielded her face, but remained unscathed. A new klaxon screamed from both tactical and engineering, never a good combination. Moments later, they were through and the pitching of the deck subsided to a shudder—Klingons always met their opponents face on, as such their aft armament was minimal, compared to what they had facing forward.

    “Damage report!”

    “Port shields down to thirty percent, minor hull damage and power surges throughout the dorsal saucer,” stated Cedrac. “Remaining shields at sixty-seven percent and holding.”

    “Eighteen casualties reported,” added Rol.

    “Status of the Klingons?”

    “Three birds-of-prey have taken moderate damage. Minor damage to one battlecruiser,” Ensign Farog announced, looking into his hooded viewer. “Six escorts are veering off from the fleet and heading our way.”

    “Reese, bring us about, put us on course with the nearest cruiser. Enax, lock torpedoes onto their nacelles. Cedrac, see what you can do to patch that gap in our deflectors.”

    “Aye sir,” the three of them replied.

    Xa-Haghaarn watched the viewscreen as the stars spun by them and the hostile fleet came back into sight. They were is better shape than he’d expected, but it was far from over.

    * * * * *​

    U.S.S. Ptolemy NCC-3801


    “Forty seconds.”

    Naya clasped her hands so tightly on her lap her knuckles were going white and her fingers bright red. Her plan was based on a report that was over fifteen years old; of another tug hauling deuterium that had been reduced to little more than dust following a surprise attack from Kzinti. The antimatter packets in the pod essentially turned it into a giant photon torpedo, the only one the Ptolemy had.

    “Visual range, Commander,” stated Kane.

    “On screen,” she instructed her comm chief.

    The forward monitor switched from streaking stars to a field of energy beams and explosions. A couple of younger members of the bridge crew gasped at what they saw followed by anxious and terrified looks shared between them. Naya knew how they felt, partly because their strong emotions were difficult to block but also partly because she felt the same way. Her career had seen her serving on six ships before the Ptolemy, during which she had faced tough situations and terrible conflicts. This was different; she was now the one leading them into battle, she was the one who would have to keep them going.

    “I’ve got the Ares,” M’Tahvo announced. “Her shields are severely weakened and I’m showing signs of structural damage. She looks to be targeting the battlecruisers engines.”

    “Chief, open a secure channel to the Ares.”


    Ares, this is Commander Naya of the Ptolemy. We will be on scene in twenty seconds.”

    “This is Xa-Haghaarn of the Ares, thank you for the assistance. We’re trying to stop the battlecruisers from getting any closer, but we’re not making much of a dent.”

    “We’re hauling a big surprise for the Klingons, once we jettison our pod you’ll want to clear the immediate area as quickly as possible.”

    “Understood, we’ll be ready. Good luck. Ares out.”

    Naya untwisted her fingers and held onto the armrests. She glanced at Bahjorr who sat at cargo ops. “Master Chief, stand ready.”

    He looked back at her and gave a stoic nod. As argumentative and pig-headed as the thirty-year vet was, he knew when to shut up and follow orders—even the crazy ones. She was keeping them at warp until the last moment, as soon as they dropped out, it was his responsibility to blow the docking latches and launch their makeshift torpedo, so the Klingons had little time to react.

    “Twelve seconds,” M’Tahvo continued to count down.

    She tapped the intercom. “All hands, prepare for emergency deceleration.”

    The chronometer ticked down the seconds. Tension mounted in the bridge until the atmosphere was like a charged plasma coil. At two seconds, Naya inhaled deeply and held it.

    When the count reached zero, the entire crew lurched forward as the tug’s warp field collapsed instantly, throwing the ship to sublight. The lurch was followed by a shudder as their screens took a glancing blow. There was an audible metallic thunk, as the emergency release system blew out the docking clamps, and the pod shot out from under the Ptolemy’s saucer. As the pod sped towards the cluster of Klingon ships, still on course for the station and colony it orbited, the ship pulled up the Z-axis as it tried to clear the blast radius.

    Just as she slowly exhaled, the tug was punched hard from above. The deck bucked, lights flickered and alarms rang.


    “Direct hit to our impulse drive! Sublight engines are offline,” cried Valderama.

    “Thrusters?” she asked, knowing that the manoeuvring jets wouldn’t be of any use.

    “They won’t get us far enough away, sir.”

    “Pod detonation in ten seconds,” growled Bahjorr.

    “Incoming hail from the Ares.”

    “Ignore it,” she called over her shoulder and tapped the companel on her armrest. “Eilo, throw everything you can into the shields.” She switched to shipwide address. “Brace for impact!”

    She had just enough time to push herself as far back into her chair as she could and hold fast before their makeshift super-torpedo ploughed into the Klingon fleet and detonate.

    * * * * *​

    U.S.S. Ares NCC-524

    Xa-Haghaarn watched as the pod exploded, similar to that of a photon torpedo though on a much larger scale. He had to shield his weak eyes from the brilliant flash, but as he dropped his arm he could still see it, the bright plume of destruction etched onto his optic nerve. Another distruptor impact shook him from his daze but he had to fight his first impulse of looking to a fallen comrade.

    “Status of the Klingons?”

    “Two cruisers and five birds-of-prey destroyed,” Farog reported, hopefully excited. “The third battlecruiser has taken heavy damage—weapons offline and multiple large breaches. Three escorts have also been crippled.”

    Added to the two other birds-of-prey they had taken out before the tugs arrival, left them with just two of the escort ships left to deal with. He too started to feel a moment of hope, they may very well survive the incursion. The feeling was short lived as his thoughts switched to that of the Ptolemy and just what her fate was. Before he could ask, Enax craned her neck around towards him.

    “Sir, the remaining birds are heading for the Ptolemy.”

    “Chief, intercept course!”

    “Already on our way.”

    “Lieutenant, lock torpedoes.”

    “We only have four left, Commander.”

    “Make them count!” He glanced over at Cedrac, hoping that she was already assessing just how badly the tug was damaged. She must’ve felt him looking as she glanced back at him, a mournful look on her delicate features. They needed to defend the fallen ship, only then could he afford to worry about just how bad it was.

    The destroyer pounced, closing the distance in a matter of moments. The two smaller ships were more manoeuvrable and made full use of their advantage, duck, diving and weaving, missing every phaser beam and the single torpedo Enax unleashed. The Edosian cursed under her breathe as the projectile collided with a free-floating section of the Ptolemy’s starboard nacelle. It was then the two ships flipped around and barrelled towards the Ares, firing as they drew in closer.

    Enax launched a second torpedo. It missed the lead ship but hit the second, exploding across the hull and shearing off several panels. She quickly followed it up with multiple phaser blasts; hitting both though the point ship came out better. The second ship took the worst of it, the beams piercing their shields and into the hull, causing explosions to burst out into the vacuum. The second escort visibly slowed and lighting throughout dimming, its movements became sluggish and every disruptor beam it fired was weaker than the last. One more hit from the Ares’s phasers took the ship out in a plume of fire that was quickly extinguished.

    The lead ship broke off and began evasive tactics, taking pot shots whenever they could. Reese kept the destroyer on their tail and Enax fired continuously. Xa-Haghaarn kept on top of their damage, issued a few instructions but for the most part he watched with pride as his crew worked harmoniously—despite having rarely worked together during battle conditions. The third torpedo smacked into their shields.

    “Their aft shields have collapsed,” stated Farog.

    “Target their warp core. Fire!”

    The Ares’s last photon shot forth from the ventral side of the saucer, it shone against the blackness of space before crashing into the swampy-green hull of the Klingon ship. The explosion was instant, throwing debris and shrapnel out in every direction. Even Chief Reese wasn’t fast enough to evade a section of a wing from smacking into the ship, the jolt was harder than the impact from a weapons blast and caused the lights to dip slightly.

    “Status?” he asked once the deck had settled.

    “Bird-of-Prey has been destroyed, sir, no evidence of survivors,” Farog said, the relief clear in his voice.

    “The hull impact has caused damage to several systems,” added Rol, “I’m getting a full assessment in from engineering.”

    “Chief, head back to the Ptolemy,” he said, his voice heavy. As the non-com gave a solemn nod, Xa-Haghaarn slowly stood and turned to Cedrac. “Lieutenant, how bad have they been hit?”

    “I’m showing heavy damage across the ship, their starboard nacelle and pod pylon have been sheared off, main and secondary power both out, emergency power failing, there are five large breaches across the ventral hull and forcefields are nearing collapse. Radiation levels are prohibiting more details scans of the interior, but I am picking up only around seventy life-signs.” Once she finished, her voice seemed to echo around the silent bridge. The tug was in bad shape; with almost have her crew unaccounted for, all because they had responded to the Ares’s call for help.

    “Mister Rol, can you raise them?”

    “Sorry sir,” the Catullan replied, his voice catching. “I’ve been trying, but they aren’t giving out any kind of signal.”

    Xa-Haghaarn tapped the intercom on his armrest. “Bridge to sickbay.”

    “Sickbay, Farnsworth here.”

    “Doctor, prep for incoming casualties and have medics ready to beam out for rescue and recovery operations.”

    “Teams are ready, Commander.”

    “Thank you, Doc.” He closed the channel and looked back at Cedrac. “Lieutenant, ready at least six teams and get over there.”

    The watch officer quickly stood up and gave a nod. “Aye sir.”

    She had only taken three steps towards the turbolift alcove when an alert sounded from the opposite side of the bridge. Everyone turned to look at Ensign Farog, who was quickly examining his readouts. His porcine face visibly paled as he looked up.

    “Th...the third cruiser is heading for the colony!”


    “The battlecruiser that was damaged, she is on course for the planet. Her core is destabilising,” the young Tellarite spluttered. “Their weapons were out, I didn’t think they were a threat—I never thought to monitor them!”

    “Pursuit course, ready weapons!”

    “Weapons are offline, sir,” replied Enax.


    Rol looked back at him. “The weapons array was one of the systems that were taken out by the hull impact. Engineering says they’d need six hours to repair the damage.”

    There was a moment of stillness. They had an enemy ship heading for an undefended colony, ready to blow themselves up either in orbit or as they hit the ground—either way would lead to heavy losses and massive casualties, as well as rendering the planet uninhabitable due to antimatter radiation—whilst the Ares had no weapons or reinforcements. Xa-Haghaarn had the lives of thousands in his hands and only seconds to make a decision to save them.

    “Mister Rol, address intercraft.” He waited for the boatswains whistle to sound. “All hands to the lifeboats. Abandon ship. I repeat, all hands abandon ship.” The channel closed and he stepped towards the forward console. “Chief, lay in a collision course then get to your designated evac point. That goes for the rest of you, secure your stations and get going. Cedrac, Rol, hold back a moment.”

    There was a beat of uncertainty as the bridge crew remained frozen in place. “Move people!”

    That set the fire under them, immediately they locked out the controls and headed for the turbolift. The junior officers and non-coms were the first to depart, leaving only Cedrac, Rol, Enax and Reese at their posts. Only then did he approach the communications station and signalled for Cedrac to join them.

    “Computer, arm self-destruct system.”

    “Self-destruct system armed. Enter authorisation sequence.”

    “Recognise: Xa-Haghaarn, Jaffari. Commander. Authorisation alpha-one-alpha.”

    “Code accepted. Additional authorisation required.”

    “Recognise: Cedrac, Sabine. Lieutenant. Authorisation delta-four-delta.”

    “Code accepted. Additional authorisation required.”

    “Recognise: Rol, Cillan. Lieutenant. Authorisation foxtrot-six-foxtrot.”

    “Code accepted. Enter time parameter and final command code.”

    “Set at five minutes. Command code: Xa-Haghaarn-alpha-one-one-zero-destruct.”

    “Self-destruct system activated. Five minutes to self-destruct. Mark.”

    All the monitors switched to a screen with a red ticking clock displayed. He looked at the rest of them. “Get going, all of you. I’ll be right behind you.”

    Three of them stepped into the turbolift carriage without hesitation. Cedrac paused in the doorway and looked back at him. “Commander, I’m in the same lifeboat as you. We will not leave until you are onboard.”

    A slight smile tugged at his lips. She was going to make a damn fine Captain someday soon. “Understood Lieutenant, I just want to make sure that everything goes without a hitch. I’ll be there in a moment.”

    She gave him a stern tilt of her head then stepped into the lift. He watched the doors close before stepping down to the helm/navigation console and looked over the readings. The Ares was on course for the battlecrusier, her speed set so that they would hit just moments before the self-destruct would activate, taking out both ships before the Klingons could get close enough to the colony to cause any damage. Unfortunately, they were cutting it close for the lifeboats; there was a chance not all of them would get to a safe distance before the collision, explosion and resulting shockwave. Some would’ve already run the figures and knew the odds but they, and everyone else onboard, knew that to serve Starfleet could mean giving their lives for the greater good.

    An indicator flashed on the board, showing that the first lifeboat was away. Just another thirty-nine to launch and that would be the destroyer devoid of life. Satisfied that things were progressing smoothly, he headed for the lift. Pausing to take one last look of his first command, he stepped inside and descended.

    * * * * *​

    Deep Space Station I-7

    The crowd was panicked but orderly, jostling and talking loudly amongst themselves, rumours abound as to what was happening—each more outlandish and terrifying as the last, though all nothing more than over-active imaginings of civilians who had never faced a battle or war. Lieutenant Commander Keevathoranth th’Shada (Keeva to all that knew him) was working hard to keep the throng of people moving towards either the docking bays or transporter rooms, wherever he could get them to in order to see them off the station and then on towards safety.

    “Commander Keeva to the Station Control Centre,” the page was emotionless as it repeated itself.

    Keeva looked over to Ensign T’Vell and signalled her to take over, before heading against the flow of traffic, which slowed him down. As he headed in from the docking area the crowds thinned and he made better time, then by the time he hit the central core it was all but deserted. The turbolift up to the top of the station was faster than those of most ships. He emerged to find the control centre sparsely populated, only around a third of the usual number of operators.

    Administrator Frampton was a bundle of anxious energy, though nowhere near as worked up as he’d been earlier. He strolled towards him, his gait long and purposeful, his posture stiff and formal—which looked a little out of place in the bright purple and green, sleeveless jumpsuit he wore.

    “Administrator,” he called to get his attention. The whippet-thin human looked up and scurried towards him.

    “Commander th’Shada, there is something you need to see.” With that, the civilian trotted over to the communications station and Keeva followed, both curious and annoyed.

    The Administrator tapped the operator on the shoulder and a monitor came to life. It displayed a visual sensor scan, more specifically of a badly damaged D-4-Class battlecruiser getting closer to the station and the colony it orbited. The Ares came into view, closing fast, though she wasn’t firing, which surprised him. Seconds later, the destroyer collided with the cruiser followed by the blinding flash of the ships self-destruct system, then the warp core breach of the battlecrusier, at which point the display cut to static.

    Keeva felt the blood drain from his face, his chest constrict making it harder to breath, and his stomach tie itself so tightly that he could taste bile. Something must’ve been catastrophically wrong with the ships’ weapons before the Commander would’ve order a collision course.

    “D...did they manage to evacuate?” he ask, his voice softer than usual.

    Frampton looked a little perplexed at the question, as though he’d never thought to check. “I don’t know.”

    “Did they manage to evacuate?” he roared through clenched teeth, silencing all the activity in the control centre.

    A moment later, a young redheaded human looked up from her console. “Sensor records show that thirty-eight escape pods were launched before the Ares rammed the battlecruiser.”

    He focused on the younger human. “Get me all the logs of the battle up until right now.”

    “Following the collision the radiation levels have interfered with our scans, but I can get you everything up to that point.”

    “Administrator, I’m going to need three shuttles and I’ll also have to pull a few of my people off the evac to start SAR-Ops.”

    “But the Klingons have been stopped, surely we can stop the evacuations.”

    He scowled at the Administrator, his antennae curling in tightly to his skull. “This isn’t over, Administrator. That was just the first wave; they’ll be back in greater numbers, wanting revenge for their defeat here today. But right now, there are two crews out there that need help and I am not about to abandon them to the elements.”

    As he headed for the turbolift, he looked back at the redhead. “Transfer those records to the shuttles,” he ordered, pulling the communicator off his belt and flipping it open. “Keeva to Tholox and Van den Berg, meet me in the hangar. ASAP.”

    Stepping into the lift, he ordered it down to the bottom of the central core, where the hangar was located. Lifeboats were designed to survive a lot, including radiation fields, but even their reinforced hulls wouldn’t hold out for that long—given the multiple warp cores and antimatter pods that had exploded within a small area in a short space of time. There were over two hundred lives adrift out there that were in need of saving, and it fell to him to do so. He just hoped he wasn’t too late.

    * * * * *​

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  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    October 2017 - Second Chances

    Stepping out of the admiral’s office, she passed through the anteroom and into the corridor in a near daze; she couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. She activated the PADD and looked at the contents, which was just what the admiral had told her, as she slowly navigated the hallways of Starfleet Headquarters. The first screen was the confirmation of her promotion, she was once again being elevated to Captain—a rank she had once held for a matter of days, before the power play at work had been exposed and she’d been demoted two grades, though there were those who said she’d gotten off lightly. She had thought that her career would never go any further but, after two years as the Sector Logistics Manager on Epsilon Station, following crew losses in the Dominion War she’d been promoted to First Officer onboard the U.S.S. Zephyr, a forty year old Miranda-Class ship, where she’d remained for almost five years until she’d been recalled to Earth for the meeting she had just left.

    She was a Captain once more. But that wasn’t the only surprise of the meeting. She wasn’t being relegated to a desk job at HQ or an administrative post at some Starfleet field office; she was being given command of a starship! However, it wasn’t just any ship but rather one that had become somewhat legendary, the only vessel to traverse the Delta Quadrant: the U.S.S. Voyager.

    The Vice Admiral had taken great pleasure in telling her that she would be filling her former chair. Her expression must’ve been a picture, if the grin on Kathryn Janeway’s face was any indication. She’d been so stunned, first at the news of her promotion then at her new command that she’d blurted out why her?

    Janeway had sat back and bore into her with her cool blue eyes. She suspected what Janeway had said next would resonate inside her mind for the rest of her days: Given all she’s gone through over the last seven years, the trials and challenges she’s faced, the fact that a third of her crew were once branded terrorists, Voyager is a ship of redemption and I think it’s about time you were given a proper second chance.

    Hearing those words, that faith that Janeway had in her, she was almost at the point of tears—she had never thought that she’d be offered such an opportunity ever again.

    Her head reeling from her conversation with Janeway, her legs somehow moved her forward whilst muscle memory brought her back to the small temporary office she’d been allocated the use of during her time, however short, whilst on Earth. She flopped down into the visitors seat, in a quite un-captain-like manner, whilst the chair behind her desk remained empty. The sensors of the HQ building registered her entry and the terminal that faced away from her chirped.

    She spun it around, shaking her head to try and help her focus once more. Activating the desktop computer it showed her that a number of files had been made available to her, including the complete mission logs of Voyager’s epic journey home, the ship’s current technical specifications (having undergone a full refurbishment and refit, not to mention the removal of some of her more advanced additions), and the senior staff that had been assigned.

    There was also a message from Starfleet Command, alerting her to a mission briefing—which had been something Janeway had purposefully not mentioned. With a couple of hours before she needed to make that meeting, she decided to start brushing up on the men and women who would be serving under her.

    Once she opened the personnel files she noted that most of the crew had served onboard Voyager for the last seven years. One of the names of the former crew jumped out at her, but as the former security chief Commander Tuvok was well known thanks to the Federation News Service coverage. He had spent most of his time back in the Alpha Quadrant on medical leave on Vulcan, but had returned to active duty a couple months earlier and requested the transfer back to Voyager. With a long list of accomplishments and specialist skills he was one of the most highly trained officers she’d ever seen, a definite asset to have as her new Executive Officer. The second officer was also her new counsellor and diplomatic specialist which, for one so young, was quite an accomplishment, but given that the Trill had eight lifetimes of experience to draw upon it wasn’t surprising. She had met the last Dax host once before, albeit very briefly, but didn’t know Ezri—though her glowing record onboard DS9 over the last four years proved that she’d earned her new promotion to lieutenant commander.

    Her bridge crew included two former Maquis in prominent positions, flight control officer Lieutenant Zavier Ayala and Ensign Gerron Enek. Ayala had had a promising career in Starfleet before going AWOL to fight for his homeworld in what had once been the DMZ, but once onboard Voyager he’d proven to be one of the ship’s best officers—regardless of his past. Gerron on the other hand was from a Bajoran refugee camp, with no formal training or qualifications, but had the uncanny ability to pick up skills incredibly quickly. He’d had a troubled beginning, but had come on in leaps and bounds, becoming a dependable and adaptable crewman—who’d been awarded a commission after the ship had returned home and would be her new operations manager.

    Lieutenants Liya Golwat and Vorik had been promoted up to security chief and chief engineer, respectively. Both had graduated highly from their classes at the Academy and throughout the ship’s return home had proven to be exceptional, both highly recommended by their predecessors to be more than capable to take on the added responsibilities. Golwat was known for her strategic thinking and skills in tactical combat, skills that Tuvok rated exceptionally highly. Vorik, after a short reconnection with his family, had returned promptly to take a leading role in the ships programme of works whilst in dry-dock, using his impressive knowledge of the ship to the advantage of the refurbishment crew.

    Her new science and medical officers were a married couple, who’d been separated by seventy thousand light-years but had still resulted in the first baby born onboard. Lieutenant Samantha Wildman specialised in life sciences but had managed to continue her professional development whilst also raising her half-Ktarian daughter, which was challenging for any human even had she not been on the opposite side of the galaxy, due to the rapid development and growth of Ktarians. Doctor Greskrendtregk had served with Counsellor Dax on DS9 as a physician, as such he had been at the forefront of most of the Dominion War, which he’d had to face without knowing the fate of his wife or the existence of his daughter, though had been very active in uniting the family members of the Voyager crew and establishing a support network for them.

    Her senior staff were a solid assembly of officers, all of whom had gone through a lot with most being very knowledgeable about the ship and her past. No doubt once her appointment as their new CO was announced they would become very familiar with her record and the shadow that hung over it, just as everyone else she’d served with had been. Some had asked her why she had essentially betrayed the uniform, to which her stock answer had been that she was following orders—though that never pleased anyone who heard, especially herself.

    In truth, she’d been swept away by the ideals of a charismatic and highly-regarded man, someone whom she had looked up to and respected, who had given her chances that no one else had, who had groomed her for command and the responsibilities of leadership. There was no way she could’ve resisted his influence or said no to him, until he’d gone too far. For all his charm and all her idolisation, he couldn’t make her kill for him.

    She shook her head to clear away the dark memory, focusing on the rest of the crew roster. There were another 132 names on the list and she wanted to get through as many of them as she could before the meeting with Command.

    * * * * *

    The gentle hum of the impulse engines, the soft hiss of an environmental processor in need of a scrub, and the faint chirps and beeps of the controls from the cockpit filled the small shuttlecraft. She’d faced two days of meetings, conferences and communiqués at Headquarters before finally being able to head to her new ship.

    was docked at Utopia Planitia undergoing the last of her extensive repair, refit and refurbishment work—long overdue given all she’d been through. A shuttle from the ship, piloted by Lieutenant Ayala, had been sent to Earth to ferry her to Mars. The former Maquis had proven himself to be the ‘strong, silent type’, keeping chatter to a minimum though she wasn’t sure if that was just who he was or if it was because of who she was. She’d decided not to let it bother her and instead focus on the stack of PADDs she’d brought with her.

    She’d managed to familiarise herself with the crew files and system status reports from the ship, but her main focus was on the mission. Voyager was going to be part of a four ship task force being sent into the Gamma Quadrant, the first extensive mission of exploration since the end of the Dominion War—something that had taken almost a year of negotiations to work out. Led by the Nebula-Class U.S.S. Titan, commanded by Captain William Riker, they would be joining the starships Olympia and Pathfinder on the other side of the galaxy, a mission the ship and many of the crew had already proven themselves more than capable of handling. This time however it was a scheduled and supported mission, the object of which wasn’t to return home but to become the first wave of a new expedition to a region that Starfleet still knew so little about. She had to admit that she was excited about such an opportunity being presented to them, and once against had to wonder what role Janeway had played in that.

    The mission would launch once Captain Riker reported aboard the Titan following his wedding, so she would have a couple of weeks to familiarise herself first hand with the ship and its crew before they departed. That would also give her time to get some impressions from the other ships in the task force; the last thing she wanted was to cause any problems for Voyager because of her past mistakes. After the specifics of their mission was made public there would also be a lot of media attention and reaction that they would all face, Voyager more than any other ship given its high profile. Part of her did wonder if her promotion and assignment was a mistake, if she was being set up to take the fall for anything that went wrong—but that had lingered in the back of her mind ever since her demotion.

    “Captain,” Ayala spoke up, shattering the quiet din of the shuttle, “we’re on our approach.”

    “Understood, Lieutenant,” she replied, leaning forward to peer out the forward viewport and take her first look at her new ship.

    Visually, the ship looked no different than she would’ve when launched eight years ago but she knew that inside things had changed significantly. Every major system had either been overhauled or replaced entirely (such as her computer cores though that was to allow Starfleet Science, the Federation Science Directorate, and the Daystrom Institute full access to analyse all the data she’d brought back). Her defences and tactical systems were all upgrades, including quantum torpedoes, her sensors now incorporated several experimental arrays, her highly efficient warp drive had been tinkered with to improve fuel efficiency by a further twenty-one percent. Even all those of her original crew would be surprised at just what she’d be able to do now.

    Ayala took them in a wide arch, around the saucer and towards the shuttlebay at the rear. A light tap on the controls and the type-eight shuttle spun effortlessly to aim at the opening doors, affording her a first glimpse inside, where almost thirty of the crew stood at attention for her arrival.

    She swallowed heavily, feeling the icy fingers of anxiety grip her stomach. She rotated her shoulders then tugged down on her uniform jacket, ensuring that it was immaculate, checked her combadge was on straight and quickly patted her hair—which was pulled back into such a tight knotted braid it hurt. She didn’t want anything to make it look as though she wasn’t presentable to her new crew. As she straightened her collar and made sure it was zipped up as high as it could go, her fingers brushed against the four rank pips displayed for all to see.

    All her career she had aimed for captaincy and had been elated the first time she’d been bestowed the honour. Having that taken from her had been a bitter pill to swallow, one that, even now with the rank restored, she still hadn’t gotten over.

    The shuttle passed through the atmospheric forcefield, pivoted and slowly set down on the deck with the lightest of thumps. It took Ayala a moment or two to secure the controls and power down the engines, giving her the chance to ensure she had the right PADD in hand and take a couple of deep breaths. When he stepped into the aft section she stood and he gave her a soft grin.

    “Welcome aboard, Captain.”

    “Thank you.”

    He moved ahead of her, tapped the panel to lower the aft ramp and once it opened he stepped out and stood at attention. In a strong, steady voice that almost boomed in the large hangar, he announced, “Commanding officer Voyager arriving.”

    Without a moment’s hesitation she stepped onto the ramp as the boatswain’s whistle sounded and marched to the lectern that awaited her. She set down the tablet and took a few seconds to look at the faces, all of which she remembered from the crew files though none of whom she actually knew. Taking a steadying breath she activated the PADD and glanced at the passage she had memorised days earlier.

    “To Captain Erika J. Benteen, stardate 56790.1. You are hereby requested and required to take command of the U.S.S. Voyager as of this date. Signed Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway, Starfleet Command.”

    * * * * *

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