USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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End Of The Line - Part 2

Posted on Sat Dec 31st, 2016 @ 5:02pm by Captain Claudia Ainscow & Commander Tolan & Lieutenant JG Amber Zuzan & Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant Commander Soren Himmel & Lieutenant Elsa Johansson & Lieutenant Commander Cara O'Reilly MD & Major Storr Garlake & Lieutenant JG Annie Wilson
Edited on on Sat Dec 31st, 2016 @ 5:53pm

Mission: S1E2 - Unity
Location: USS Vindex
Timeline: Mission Day 15; 19:00

The Vindex crew had prepared for the battle well and Claudia couldn't be any prouder. The Sovereign-class starship was slightly delayed in leaving for Starbase Unity from the position of the minefield due to some last minute checks that overran - much to Claudia's annoyance - but they were now on their way to Starbase Unity and the Vindex would arrive at the scene within the next 90 seconds. The red alert klaxons sounded and the accompanying red lights flashed. This was happening and it was happening now.

"Take us out of warp as close to Starbase Unity as possible Miss Wilson. Once we're there Miss Zuzan get a lock on the Dark Horse and take out their weapons" Claudia ordered.

Amber replied. "Aye aye Captain"

"Yes, Captain. " Annie said, "What position shall I take?"

"Put us astern of our defence fleet Ensign" Claudia replied.

Annie nodded and altered course to the position Claudia asked.

Claudia pressed the ship-wide communicator built into her command chair.

=/\="All hands - this is the Captain. We are about to engage The Consortium. You have all prepared for this difficult task extremely well and I couldn't be any prouder of you than I am now. When we get through this - and we will - I promise each and every one of you that we will start exploring like we were supposed to when we came out here. Ainscow out"=/\= Claudia said.

"'And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall go forward and speak to the people,'" Akiva quoted to himself. The captain was quick to praise her crew, but she had led them this far. Her trust in him and the rest drew them onward to victory before, and that trust went far in assuaging his pre-battle doubts and jitters.
Though he did not favor the odds, he knew that the newly assembled crew was among the finest he had served alongside. If only he could find a way to say so.
"Let's do this," he finally said to any and all on the bridge. The stoic words fell flat in his ears after Claudia's rousing speech. He sighed and set his anxiety aside, forcing his full attention on the viewscreen.

Amber looked over at Claudia and was quietly impressed with the Commanding Officer's speech to the crew. Nevertheless now wasn't a time for that - it was a time for focus and concentration of the very highest level.

Annie didn't say anything, but she found herself worrying about what was going to happen, probably like everyone else on the ship, even the Consortium agents.

Tolan listened solemnly and knew that this battle wasn't going to be one that came without a price. Like all battles he had been in the Suliban was prepared that maybe this time it was going to be his turn to go into the battle but not come out on the other side - regardless of the outcome.

Elsa's hands flew over her board, as she watched a large number of incoming warp signatures on long range sensors. At present, the Consortium force was conforming with the defenders' expectations, but as the saying went, the first casualty in any contact with the enemy is your battle plan. But whatever turmoil Elsa might be feeling internally went unseen, as she calmly relayed her sensor data to the relevant bridge stations.

Will made sure that he completed the last of his checks so that he could re-route power to critical systems as and when it was needed as he worked from the Auxiliary Operations station. With Tolan at the main Ops station, He also made sure that the Sensor Pallets were receiving every ounce of juice they could take as well. A Blind Ship was an easy target and there were plenty of ships waiting to make the Vindex a target. "Guess whose coming to dinner," he muttered under his breath as he stood ready for combat.




Himmel was not entirely comforted manning the engineering console on the bridge, but it called for his presence. He could direct the engineers and repairs from the station. He also could quickly transfer engine power as well as redirect power to various crucial systems. He made the necessary commands on the LCARs station to have quick keys to transfer power to weapons, shields or engines in particular for Tolan's needs. Himself and Commander ben-Avram also prepped the Vindex to draw in more and extra power from the Warp core. His engineers had just finished setting up the necessary equipment and precautions.




---SICKBAY---

Cara and her staff were beginning change of shift report when the klaxon sounded and the red light bars at the top of walls where they met the ceiling began to pulsate. Cara reacted, immediately, and during the Captain's announcement jumped down from the nurses' station desk she had been perched on. Once the Captain's announcement was finished she said, "OK, everyone. Cancel change shift. We're in it for the long haul. Anna....I want you in triage. Tookl... you're in charge of the EFTS teams. Manning...fire up the medical transporter. King...take a team down to the stardrive Sickbay and make sure it's ready. The rest of you, get hover gurneys ready to use as extra beds if we need them and get instrument trays set up in each cubicle. Mac....well hell....you know."

Mac chuckled and nodded as she began to gather her nurses and give them their instructions.

"I'll be on the Bridge if anyone needs me," Cara said and, taking one last look around, hurried off.




Storr and five other marines were sitting around the poker table, various chips, trinkets, and slips of paper in the center marking quite the rousing game when Captain Ainscow's voice emanated over the loudspeaker. They all sat up and listened, nodding to each other as her message finished before standing in unison and making their way to the armory. Captain Garlake noticed the somewhat menacing/mostly disapproving look that Sergeant Zaltin gave the group as they entered but Captain Garlake dismissed it. It might seem "unprofessional", "amateur" or even "pedestrian", but before big missions, it was often necessary to be thinking about anything but. Other times, it should be all that they should be thinking about and it was his job to ascertain when to do which.

"The proof'll be in the pudding, Sergeant," Storr quipped, armoring and arming up beside Bella. She huffed (though with a seeming twinkle in her eye) and the four fireteams made their way to the transporter room, preparing themselves to beam at a moment's notice to a Consortium ship and perform boarding manuevers. The CMO looked at the chronograph on his wrist and then looked back up to the female Caliasian beside him.

"Didn't the doc say that she'd have a couple EFTS pukes here?" Bella shrugged in response to Storr's inquiry. They had done some training with them since Garlake was given the initial offer after their mission brief a couple days ago but she wasn't convinced that their integration (let alone the "price" that they came with) was worth the hassle.

CPO Tookl and his partner, PO1st Lisa Melo, walked through the door, geared up and ready to go, should they get the call. Lisa had heard the CMO's question and wanted to answer but Tookl...being the senior team member, and knowing his partner...elbowed her and gave her a reproachful look.




"Alright...let's do this. Take us out of warp Miss Wilson" Claudia ordered.

"Dropping out of warp, we'll be in position in 30 seconds, Captain." Annie replied.

Claudia turned towards Akiva slightly but kept her line of sight firmly on the viewscreen as the Vindex dropped out of warp and the stars rushing past stood still and changed to a view of the defence fleet and Starbase Unity.

"Status report Commander" Claudia said.

"Our defense fleet is getting in position," Akiva said as he assessed the battle intel streaming through his command console. "The Consortium ships are mobilizing."

Cara stepped out of the turbolift onto the Bridge and said, "Medical is standing by," then moved to an out of the way spot to observe.

Claudia looked over at Cara and gestured towards the vacant seat to her left. Normally the Counsellor on duty would sit there but Jaya wasn't on duty and Claudia hadn't even asked the Acting Chief Counsellor if she wanted to do bridge duty anyway.

"Take a seat Cara. This ride is going to get a bit bumpy" Claudia said.

Cara stepped away from the wall and, dodging busy crew, made her way over to the chairs. "Thank you, Captain," she said as she sat down and watched the screen.

Tolan stood at the Operations station and with a quiet efficiency he prepared the upgrades that Soren and Akiva had prepared specifically for the battle where power could be transferred from one system to another at the press of a button.

"The upgrades Mr ben-Avram and Mr Himmel have done are working very well" Tolan reported.

Akiva nodded in approval. He knew Lieutenants Kaz and Morgan were likely initializing the same upgrades from auxiliary panels across the ship.

Two EFTSs stepped onto the Bridge, which was their assigned duty station during a red alert. Cara had heard the turbolift door open and glanced back. Seeing the team she smiled and said, "leave a pack. I've got this."

One of the duo walked over to Cara and handed her his FTK then joined his partner and both left the Bridge.

Cara tucked the pack under her seat and hoped she wouldn't need it.




The Consortium fleet had dropped out of warp and had entered range of the Vindex and the defence fleet. Commodore O'Connell was in command of the fleet aboard the USS O'Carroll which was carrying out hit-and-run attacks on the enemy ships. As soon as phaser and torpedo fire was directed at the defence fleet Claudia did her best to stay calm and quickly choose a plan of action.

"Lieutenant Zuzan - target the Dark Horse's weapons systems and fire at will" Claudia ordered.

Amber nodded. She targeted the Dark Horse's torpedo launchers and unleashed a vicious barrage of phaser fire - although some of her shots did their jobs it was going to take a lot more than that to disable the Dark Horse's weapons systems.

=/\="Mr Himmel - we're going to need all the power you have spare for the shields"=/\= Claudia said.

Just as the call came in the Dark Horse returned fire and struck the Vindex with a barrage of phaser fire - rocking the ship violently.

Himmel tapped away on the console, to draw on more power. "I'm drawing some extra power from auxiliary."

Claudia replied. =/\="Acknowledged"=/\=

Just as the channel closed another barrage of phaser fire hit the Vindex and again violently rocked the ship. Claudia was beginning to feel that this was going to take a very long time and wondered if they were going to get out of it in one piece or at all.

"Damage report!" Claudia shouted.

Tolan checked his console as the damage reports came in.

Tolan shouted. "Shields holding at 80% - reports of blown power relays on Decks 6, 7, 9 and 13 and minor damage to our starboard nacelle. We're still in the fight!"

Claudia decided it was time to hit the Dark Horse at its most vulnerable point - they may know the Vindex's weak spots but that also meant the Vindex knew the Dark Horse's.

"Miss Wilson get us underneath the Dark Horse!" Claudia ordered.

"Yes, Captain." Annie said, doing as she was instructed. She inserted a course to take the Vindex underneath their main target, and then engaging.

Claudia looked at Amber and gave her a knowing look to unleash the Vindex's mighty arsenal once they were in position.

"When ready...fire at will Lieutenant" Claudia said.

"Firing all torpedo bays and phasers" Amber said.

The Vindex unleashed another vicious and relentless barrage of phaser and torpedo fire. This time she had more luck and the Dark Horse's shields were weakened and she managed to knock out the Dark Horse's torpedo launchers.

"Their torpedo launchers are offline. Our shields are holding at 76% and all weapons are online" Amber reported.




The battle had raged on and the first loss was the USS Ottawa - the Steamrunner-class that Starfleet had liberated from their enemy had been a primary target for The Consortium and it had been destroyed early on. The Vindex had taken damage with the warp nacelles venting drive plasma and various systems damaged to various degrees - but they were still in the fight. The Dark Horse had been their key target and after a tough duel it was still a stalemate although the Vindex was in a better shape than its enemy.

Claudia stood up from her chair and rushed over to Elsa's console as the now resorted to desperate measures to destroy the ship she was so keen to take out of the equation - destroying a key flagship would surely dent The Consortium's morale.

"Lieutenant Johansson...find a way through their shields and relay it to Lieutenant Zuzan" Claudia ordered.

"Aye aye ma'am," Elsa answered, her eyes once again poring over the data the sensors were taking in. Like the Vindex, the Dark Horse was bloodied but unbowed. Like the Vindex, her shields were weakened but holding, and it looked like neither ship would go down until after an extensive slug fest. There didn't seem to be...

And suddenly the solution leaped out

"Lieutenant Zuzan," Elsa said in an emotionless voice, her fingers flying over her controls to relay her observations to Zuzan's station, "It appears that three of the Dark Horse's forward grid emitters are bearing more of the load than is usual. A precise, sequential strike at the points I'm relaying should cause a cascading failure of the Dark Horse's forward shields."

"Lieutenant Zuzan - When you receive the information from Lieutenant Johansson target the Dark Horse's warp core...and fire when ready" Claudia ordered.

Amber nodded. "Yes ma'am"

Claudia then rushed over to Tolan at Operations and just as she was about to give him instructions a direct hit from the Dark Horse's phasers struck the Vindex and Tolan's console exploded - and although the Suliban managed to shield his face his arms and torso received the full force of the explosion and Claudia was thrown onto the deck plating a few metres away where she lay unconscious.

Fortunately, the explosion didn't affect Annie as much as Tolan and Captain Ainscow, but she did get a few cuts from the smaller fragments of the console. She wanted to carry on though, and there were more serious injuries to attend to than her own.

Cara had been treating a crewman who had been thrown against a console and had suffered a fractured arm when the console the Captain had been working on exploded. She ducked across her patient to shield him from the flying debris and peered out from under her arms. Once the debris settled she raised up, her ears still ringing from the explosion, and looked around. Tapping the medical comlink earwig she said, "This is O'Reilly. I need some help on the Bridge," then she grabbed the strap of her FTK and asked her patient if he was alright, to which he nodded, flexed his mended arm and got to his feet. Cara headed to the nearest victim...the Suliban Ops Officer. She had just torn Tolan's shirt away to expose his burned torso when she saw the Captain laying a few feet away.

"Captain?" Cara called out from where she squatted. "Captain!" she called again, this time much more commanding. When the CO didn't respond she grabbed a handful of large gauze pads from the FTK and a bottle of sterile water. She, quickly placed the pads on the Suliban's burns and poured the water over them, then she scrambled over to the Captain.

Just then the turbolift door opened and two EFTSs rushed through and looked around. "Over here," Cara called out through the smoke and pointed to Tolan. "Second and third degree burns to his chest and abdomen and I think his arms," she reported as she quickly checked the Captain's pupil reaction. "Dammit," she muttered and tapped her earwig. "O'Reilly to Manning....two to transport. And get neuro down there," she said and a few seconds later she and the Captain disappeared from the Bridge.

"What now, Commander?" Annie shouted over the noise.

Akiva gulped. He allowed himself precisely one moment of uncertainty before he steeled his mind for decisive action.

"Evasive maneuvers, Ms. Wilson," he replied, forcibly tearing his eyes away from Claudia's supine form. "And then keep us at their rear."

As he assumed the captain's chair, he looked toward Tactical. "Miss Zuzan, disable their aft weapons. I don't want them landing another hit."

Amber replied. "Aye Commander"

=/\= "Ben-Avram to Himmel. Ainscow is out of commission. Keep forward shields up. Reroute auxiliary power if necessary, and forward all updates to me."=/\=

Then he turned to Elsa. "Ms. Johansson, keep sweeping the area. Don't let anyone sneak up on us unawares. Our ass may be exposed before this is over."

Akiva assessed the bridge and realized no one was covering Ops. "Mr. Morgan, I need you to report to the Operations station post haste."

Only then did he sit back and breathe. He stared at the vid screen over his steepled fingers, awaiting sit-reps with a cold, calculated suppression of his boiling anxiety.

"Just us and the Dark Horse in the immediate vicinity, Commander," Elsa responded. Upon hearing Akiva's summons to the bridge, Elsa's entered commands into her board. "And I've got Operations successfully relocated," she added, indicating the undamaged console next to hers.

"Acknowledged, Ms. Johansson," Akiva said.

Will moved across to the Main Ops station and could see the damage from when the console had exploded. He re-routed the commands to a nearby post and reverted to the Operations layout so that he could face the rest of the Bridge crew and respond as soon as he could. "Operations is standing by Commander," he reported as he pulled upa small sitrep of the damaged systems before relaying damage control teams to the various locations affected.

"Yes, Commander," Annie nodded. "I'll try and stay in range, but I can't guarantee it if they keep shooting at us like this."

"We'll take another hit if we must," Akiva said, "but if we can knock out their aft deflector and phasers, then the Vindex will be directly between them and Unity or even escape." He stroked his face nervously, then pulled his hand down and gripped the command chair. "It's us or them, Ms. Wilson. Make sure it's us."

"Alright Commander," Annie replied. "I'll do my best."

Will had run a scan of the Dark Horse to see where they could hurt them the most and realised upon an idea that could offer the Vindex a small but needed advantage. "Commander, I have an idea...we could fire out a subspace EMP from the rear tractor beam emitters to the Dark Horse's Aft Shield Grid Emitters...following this up with a full spread of torpedoes would inflict a lot of damage on the rear quarter to make them think twice," he offered. It was something at a time where an idea was needed to work...

"I'm afraid that we don't have the power to create an electromagnetic pulse powerful enough to accomplish that," Elsa interjected over her shoulder. "That would require something on the scale of a stellar event." Elsa paused, a look of concentration on her face. "Although..." she turned to Will and asked, "Mr. Morgan, may I have the use of your board for a moment?"

Will stepped back from his station for a moment to allow Johansson access to his position. "All yours...what's your idea?" Will wondered.

Elsa held up a finger in response to Will's question, her free hand entering commands. She then looked up at Akiva. "Commander, if the Dark Horse wasn't damaged to the extent that it is, the idea of trying to knock out any of their systems with an electromagnetic pulse wouldn't have a chance of working. However, if we amplify the EMP using our multiphase tractor technology, we might be able to drop their shields and a lot more. But it will require us to bypass the compressed data pulse routines in the warp plasma conduits that sends energy to the emitter in pulses. So at the very least, we'll lose the tractor beam emitter. Probably a lot more. It depends on how well Commander Himmel and Lieutenant Morgan handle the subsequent surge."

Akiva thought for a moment. "It's a risk," he said, "but make it so. Lieutenant Johansson, prepare the multiphase tractor beam. Lieutenant Morgan, prep all systems."
He tapped his Commbadge. =/\= "Lieutenant Himmel, get ready for a power surge."=/\=

"Lieutenant Zuzan, I'm sending you targeting points," Elsa announced. Her fingers danced across her console, occasionally reaching over to Will's Console to enter a command. "Lieutenant Morgan, I'm sending sensory data to your console. When you see the Dark Horse's shields reach this point after Mr. Zuzan's attack run..." Elsa pointed at a point on a bar readout "...please fire the EMP pulse. If you can give me at least three continuous seconds before we lose the emitter, I would be very appreciative. Lieutenant Zuzan, if those rear shields drop, the window of opportunity won't be open for long."

Himmel, down in engineering, shook his head, a power surge. He worked at his console and lowered some of the extra power that had been put on the tactical systems bringing them to their normal limits. He opened a channel to Akiva,

=/\=Commander, I lowered some of the extra power we had dispersed. Depending on what kind of surge we're talking about I can't promise we're not going to lose a few systems, maybe even warp speed.=/\=

"Kus rabbak," Akiva muttered. =/\="Acknowledged, Mr. Himmel."=/\= He stood up from the command chair to face everyone at once so he could watch their timed actions. "This had better work."

Amber checked the status of the tactical systems to update Akiva.

"Shields are down to 45%. The phasers are at 74% and the torpedo turret is offline - we still have the other forward launchers" Amber reported.

Annie kept doing her best to keep the Vindex in range of their target, but away from the weapons of the Dark Horse, but it was difficult when their enemy was the exact same ship as the Vindex, with the same strengths and weaknesses. She hoped the others came up with something soon, surely they would?

Elsa felt the ship rock as Lieutenant Morgan fired the warp powered EMP. She knew, at the very least, the tractor beam emitter was gone and probably a few other systems had failed as well.

And, to Elsa's surprise, her long shot plan had worked.

"Dark Horse's rear shield is down," she announced in a strong, calm voice. "I say again, Dark Horse's rear shield is down."

"Miss Zuzan, fire at will!" Akiva barked. "Give them everything we've got."

Annie flung the Vindex as close as possible to the enemy ship, even if it meant one more big hit put them out of the fight. She went for the manual control stick, giving her more control to pull away at the last second, and giving Zuzan more time to fire.

"Switching to manual control," Annie said. "I'll get us as close as possible, Commander."

Down Sickbay, Cara felt the ship shudder and set her feet apart to keep her balance. "They need to knock that crap off," she muttered to herself. "I can't very well convince the Captain to relax if her ship is rocking and rolling."

"With pleasure Commander" Amber replied.

Targeting the Dark Horse's warp core she fired everything the Vindex still had at the enemy ship. Although the Dark Horse tried to move out of the way it was too late - the enemy flagship was mortally wounded by the Vindex's barrage of weapons fire. Amber decided to put the Dark Horse out of its misery and finished it off - firing a brace of quantum torpedoes right at its warp core. Seconds later it was all over.

The Dark Horse exploded violently and rocked the Vindex - weakening its shields further and blowing a few power relays out in the forward sections of the ship. They had succeeded.

"Target destroyed Commander" Amber reported.

Elsa remained still, but she could feel all the tension flow from her body. She felt no elation: the crew on the Dark Horse had been, at one time, fellow members of Starfleet. But she did feel relief, and no regrets.

Annie wanted to celebrate, but it didn't seem like the right time, instead she moved the ship of the way of further attacks, hoping the battle would end soon.

"Barukh HaShem," Akiva whispered. "Well done, everyone."

A message then came through from the Renown about the minefield being discovered by the enemy. Amber looked up at it and then straight over at Elsa. She then logged out of her station and reached for her type 2 sidearm - walking straight over to the Scandinavian officer.

"You're under arrest Lieutenant. They found the minefield - now who else would have told them about it but you? I couldn't possibly think of anyone else...come with me" Amber said.

Elsa's eyes widened, but otherwise made no other reaction. Instead, she slowly stood up, keeper my her hands clearly in sight. "I will offer no resistance, Lieutenant." Elsa decided now wasn't the time to profess her innocence. She doubted the Security officer would have believed her anyway.

Amber grabbed Elsa gently and led her towards the turbolift. She also gestured for one of the relief Operations division officers to join her to make sure Elsa didn't try to escape. After waiting a few moments for the turbolift to arrive Amber, Elsa and the relief Operations officer entered the lift and disappeared behind the closing doors.

Akiva was in shock. Did that really just happen? =/\= "Ben-Avram to Zuzan, report to me after you secure ... the prisoner."=/\= He had to force the last words out through bitter disbelief.

On her way down to the brig with Elsa Amber heard the call from the XO to report to him after Elsa was deposited in the brig. Anastasia was also going to be placed in the brig once the Renown arrived at the rendezvous point with the Vindex.

=/\="Aye Commander"=/\= Amber replied.

 

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