USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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A Bird in the Hand...

Posted on Sat Feb 25th, 2017 @ 3:07am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant Commander Soren Himmel & Lieutenant Commander Cara O'Reilly MD & Major Storr Garlake & Lieutenant Commander Martha Cusack & Lieutenant JG Amber Zuzan & Lance Corporal Thani th'Rrone & Lieutenant JG Kevran & Ensign Jessie Hall
Edited on on Sat Feb 25th, 2017 @ 3:17am

Mission: S1E4 - Remnants Of A Lost Cause
Location: Bridge
Timeline: MD 67 - 1900

The long hours on the bridge would eventually take a toll on Akiva, but with their first day on the hunt drawing to a close, he did not want the trail to grow cold. It had taken all of 12 minutes for long-range sensors to find a concentration of tetryon particles several light-years away, and Annie had laid in a course hours ago. If being present on the bridge when they reached it meant taking a late dinner, then so be it.

"Anything on long-range sensors?" Akiva asked.

"Negative, sir." The Vorta, Kevran, had been apprehensive about bridge duty at first, but he had long since fallen into a steady and unpersonable rhythm. "And by that, I mean the tetryon concentration has dispersed beyond the point of detection."

"What about short-range sensors?" Akiva asked. They would be much more helpful--if they were within range.

Martha took a few seconds to scan on the short range sensors and then another few moments later something appeared on the short range sensors - the missing runabout USS Clyde - or at least she thought it was.

"I think I have it. Relaying the co-ordinates to the helm" Martha replied.

"Are we close enough for a visual?" Akiva asked. "I want eyes on the scene."

"Negative sir. We need to get a bit closer" Martha responded.

"Helm, drop us out of warp and proceed at max impulse," Akiva said.

Annie didn't say anything, and did as she was told. She didn't want to speak, it felt like she was going to lose emotional control every time she thought about communicating verbally with anyone. What was worse for Annie was Captain Ainscow was gone, the woman who had trusted her so much, that with the loss of Anastasia meant Annie felt she no longer had a place on the Vindex.

"On screen." Akiva stood up to get a better view.

The vidscreen came alive with the streaking starfield slowing to a minor drift. At the near center Akiva could make out a silvery blip.

"Magnify center," Akiva said.

In an instant, the starfield vanished as a runabout filled the viewscreen.

Martha looked at the viewscreen and was surprised to see it was still in the same condition it was in when it left the Vindex yesterday afternoon. Martha thought it seemed an odd place to leave a runabout though.

Amber didn't have much to say either - but at least they'd found the Clyde after over 24 hours of searching for it.

"At least we've found it" Amber commented.

Annie looked at the runabout on the screen and then back down at her console, thinking what to do after the end of her shift, which had already gone on longer than Annie wanted it to.

"How come we weren't able to detect it before?" Soren chimed in.

"Perhaps the residual tetryon radiation remained strong enough to hide the runabout from sensors without being detected itself," Kevran offered.

"Scan for lifeforms," Akiva ordered, once the gasp escaped his lips.

"Negative, sir," Kevran said.

Akiva grimaced. "Yellow alert," he said. "This could be a trap." He turned to Amber. "Lieutenant Zuzan, scan for enemies."

"Nothing on sensors Commander - we're the only ones here within a 5 light year radius of the Clyde" Amber replied.

Akiva looked at Soren. "Any suggestions, Mr. Himmel?"

Himmel thought for a moment, "I'm not sure why, but they may have ditched the runabout in order to get aboard one of their own I imagine. We could beam over and investigate, but proceed with caution."

Akiva nodded. As per usual, Soren was a voice of aged experience and wisdom.

"Lieutenant Wilson, take whomever you require and beam over to the Clyde. Lieutenant Cusack will man the helm until you return."
Without looking away from the viewscreen, he added, "Lieutenant Zuzan, make sure no one gets the drop on our position."

"Understood Commander. I've got the sensors to pick anything up that comes within five light years of us" Amber confirmed.

With the order given, Annie got up from her chair and left the bridge, not looking back. She didn't want any help in her task, she just planned to go over to the Clyde and bring the shuttle back to the Vindex safely so they could carry on with their mission.

Akiva turned back to Kevran. "Lieutenant, run a full sensor sweep of the area and see you if can't find anything resembling a warp signature. Full spectrum band. Their getaway vessel could've been anything."

"Yes, sir." Kevran did not look up from his console. His bright eyes intensified their stare at the readout as he methodically swept everywhere in the immediate vicinity several times on various frequencies and bandwidths.

"Lieutenant Cusack, hail the Clyde," Akiva said. "Get an update from Lieutenant Wilson."

Tapping her panel without even looking at what she was pressing Martha opened a channel to the Clyde. She'd been using this very console on Sovereign-class starships for a short while now and she'd manage to memorise the location of the various controls on the panel.

=/\="Vindex to Clyde - please update us on your status"=/\= Martha said.

Martha shrugged. "No response Commander. I'm not reading any faults with either communications systems"

Akiva bit his lip. "Confirm her biosignature."

"Confirmed Commander - the one biosignature aboard the Clyde is Lieutenant Wilson" Martha replied.

=/\="Vindex to Clyde - report"=/\= Martha ordered.

An internal explosion rocked the Clyde out of its stationary position and set it adrift.

"What in hinnom was that?!" Akiva jumped out of his chair again. "I want a transporter lock on Lieutenant Wilson now!"

Martha tried to get a transporter lock but it wasn't working - then the grim confirmation about the explosion aboard the Clyde came up on her console. Sombrely she looked up at Akiva to give him some unfortunate news.

"A number of power relays on the runabout exploded causing a massive systems failure. I've tried numerous times but I'm not reading Lieutenant Wilson's biosigns - I'm sorry" Martha said.

Akiva put a hand to his face and squeezed it into a fist. He closed his eyes against the truth. A grimace contorted his face against his every effort against it. "No." The lone word came out as but a whimper.

Amber was devastated by Annie's death in the explosion - adding to the still rising death toll aboard the Vindex. For now however Amber kept her cool and remained focused.

Himmel couldn't believe someone so new to Starfleet would be gone so quickly. He didn't know her well, but her passing is detrimental to the morality of the crew.

"Annie is dead, the hostages are nowhere to be found, and the trail just went cold." Akiva began to feel short of breath, which made him breathe faster. He grabbed his forehead with both hands and tried to slow his breathing. "What else could go wrong?"

The floor below rocked him off his feet back into the captain's chair. His ears registered the ominous thundering impact of phasers against deflector shields.

"Red alert!" he managed to call out from his flopped position. He righted himself and repeated the order. "Red alert! Battle stations!"
His head swiveled toward Amber.
"Lieutenant, who fired on us?"

"Two unidentified craft - they're small but they're armed to the teeth. They seem to be targeting our aft shields...maybe we can use that to our advantage..." Amber replied.

"Ms Cusack, bring us about," Akiva ordered. "Keep them off our --"

Another hit rocked the Vindex.

"Diverting power to the aft shields" Martha confirmed.

"Sir, that last hit consisted of a multiphasic radiation burst," Kevran said. "It is used by the Hunters society to reverse the polarity of deflector shields and thereby transport through them. I suggest we prepare for imminent boarding parties. Lots of them."

"Oy vey." Akiva tapped his commbadge. =/\=Ben-Avram to Garlake. Major, I need every squad you have to defend the ship now. We are about to be boarded on multiple decks. Security will have its hands full protecting vital areas. Your men will be our only offense.=/\=




The unexpected lurching of the ship launched the three marines from their seats at the table, the miniature Dabo wheel and cards careening towards Thani and striking him in the forehead, drawing blood. The Andorian brought himself to his feet before wiping away the blue liquid oozing from the cut, though he and the others were once again sent to the floor by another jarring impact. "What the frak is going on?" the Lance Corporal asked no one in particular, his scowl deepening as he again wiped his brow to soak his sleeve more from the wound.

"I don't know, but given how much you were losing I do know that Karma's a bit..." Drex didn't get to finish his sentence as they were brought to their knees once again, this time causing the already-rocking table to finally tip and fall on the Trill. Drex's muffled curses were drowned out by both plasteel with four legs and the laughter of Kargon.

"Your mother has a smooth forehead, you dope!" the Trill muttered, the Klingon heavy rifleman growling in response just as Storr entered the room. The MCO leveled his eyes first at Drek rising from under the table, then Thani and the now-lessened bleeding from his forehead, and finally Lance Duras who, while his growl only diminished in volume, at least removed his smirk.

"Listen up, ladies. The XO just called and said that we need to be ready to repel boarders and prepare to board. You three, on me; we're headed to Deck Six to protect the computer core and impulse engines as well as being next to a transporter room. Arm up and we're leaving in three."




"On the bright side, sir," Kevran said in a tone of indifference that bordered on merry, "if we do not return fire, they likely will not destroy the ship."

Akiva shot him an incredulous look. "They could have fooled me!"

The Vorta turned conciliatory. "That's not to say they won't... damage the ship a bit in pursuit of their Tosk."

"I don't know what a Tosk is, but that's not acceptable." Akiva looked back to Amber. "Ms Zuzan, you may return fire at will!"

"With pleasure. Returning fire...now" Amber replied.

Although she managed to score a direct hit it hadn't done as much damage as she was hoping - and moments later both ships pounded the Vindex with a vicious barrage of phaser fire.

"I suggest we call for help Commander. We can't hold them off if they keep firing at us like this!" Amber shouted over the noise.

Akiva looked at Soren. "Mr Himmel, send out a distress call on all frequencies. Full bandwidth. Hopefully someone out there is listening."

Himmel took a seat in the XO's chair, he turned to the console and tapped out a distress call. Being out in the Gamma quadrant made it less likely to hear from anyone on their side. Soren sent out the distress and stood up. "Distress call sent, sir."

"Helm...it doesn't help me if you can't keep the ship steady under fire!" Amber called.

Martha decided to do Amber a favour and take over. Indicating to the relief Operations Officer to relieve her Martha relieved the clearly inexperienced and nervous flight control officer and took the helm. She wasn't all that experienced but she didn't want the young officer's confidence to be damaged too much.

"Coming about for an attack run" Martha said.




Aboard the Endurance the executive officer Commander Kaufmann was on bridge watch when he was instructed by the Tactical officer a distress call had come through.

"Where is it?" Rudolf asked.

"Four light years away. It's the USS Vindex reporting they are under attack by two unidentified craft"

"Helm - alter course to intercept. Maximum warm" Rudolf ordered.

Rudolf then tapped his commbadge and left the centre chair and moved into his own chair to the right of Captain Holmes' in preparation for Graham's imminent arrival on the bridge. Clearly this was a situation the Endurance couldn't ignore.

=/\="Captain Holmes to the bridge"=/\=

Graham left his ready room and headed out onto the bridge. He then took his centre chair and asked for an update.

"Report Commander" Graham asked.

"We're answering a distress call from the USS Vindex. They're around four light years away" Rudolf replied.




Amber looked up from the Tactical station after she'd repeatedly fired at the enemy ships - clearly the Vindex was going to be overcome sooner rather than later.

"We're losing shields...but help is on the way. The USS Endurance is en route at maximum warp and will be here in around an hour" Amber reported.

"By then it will be too late." Akiva took in the viewscreen along with that startling realization. He rushed from console to console, trusting his eyes to compile the data as fast as his focused officers could report in order to spare their concentration, nodding his head at each station. Tactical was the last station, and for a moment his mind swam in Amber's honeyed scent.
Adrenaline yanked him back to the crisis at hand, though, and he knew what they had to do.

"I have a plan," Akiva said, "but it's going to require some solid timing."

He took a breath, and then fired off orders in a staccato.

"Helm, evasive pattern delta--keep them on our tail but off balance. Ms Zuzan, on my mark, fire two full spreads of photon torpedoes in a bilateral vector to keep our pursuers from fanning out, and then prep four high-yield quantum torpedoes. Mr Kevran, prepare the tractor beam."

Kevran raised an eyebrow. "Sir..." He closed his mouth and nodded in the affirmative.

"Evasive pattern delta confirmed" Martha replied.

She wasn't used to being at the helm but Martha did enjoy a change of scenery every now and again.

"Aft torpedo bays loaded and ready to fire on your command Commander" Amber confirmed.

The Vindex rocked with another volley of hits. "This had better work," Akiva whispered.

Before the Hunters could land another direct hit, Akiva said, "On my mark, Ms Zuzan, deploy the photon torpedoes... Fire!"

With her firing pattern confirmed Amber pressed the button to unleash the volley of torpedoes from the aft torpedo launchers.

"Firing...now" Amber said.

Half a dozen torpedoes launched from the aft of the ship, forming a V shape to either side of their pursuers in a standard dispersal pattern.

"With any luck, they'll just think you're a lousy shot," Akiva said to Amber. "Now, fire four quantum torpedoes right up the middle!"

"Firing quantum torpedoes...now" Amber replied.

Four torpedoes went through the middle and hit their target as planned.

"Target hit Commander" Amber said.

"Target the nearest ship with the tractor beam, Mr Kevran, and keep it from dodging."

"Yes, sir," Kevran said without looking up from his console. "Engaging tractor beam now, along with EMP discharge to disrupt their shielding for maximum effect." He risked a brief glance at Akiva and smirked. "I deduced that's what you intended."

The second vessel veered hard from port to starboard, managing to avoid the multiple torpedo spreads, but the first was not so fortunate, as it absorbed three of the four quantum torpedoes.

"Tractor lock disengaged, sir," Kevran reported.

"Ms Zuzan, report!" Akiva had returned to the captain's chair.

"The first enemy ship has taken a critical hit - the second is still in action...however our aft shields have collapsed. I'm reporting multiple transporter signatures on the ship" Amber reported.

"Commander, reporting boarding parties on multiple decks," called out Ensign Hall, the Operations officer who had relieved Martha. "Intruders reported on Decks 11, 13, 14, 21, 22, and 23."

Akiva tapped his commbadge. =/\=Ben-Avram to Garlake--they're here. Decks 11, 13, 14, 21, 22, and 23. Search and destroy.=/\=




Cara sat at her desk while Mac conducted the change of shift report in the nurses' station. When the yellow light bars began to flash, she got up from her desk and looked through the transparent wall of her office. It was as she had expected.
Medical personnel were rushing around as Anna called out assignments. Cara was at the door of her office when the entire main suite of sickbay lit up in a bright whitish blue light and a loud hum seemed to emanate from everywhere.

Cara froze at the door, her hand on her labcoat still hanging on the coat rack by the door. The bright light began to diminish, leaving two cylindrical columns of transparent light, inside of which were two very large beings dressed in red armor plated jumpsuits and full helmets...the visors emitting a blue light bar.
Both carried nasty looking assault type weapons. They seemed unable to move while encased in the columns of light. Cara crouched low and backed away from her door, tapping her combadge. "Sickbay to security. Intruder alert. I repeat....intruder alert. Two hostiles just beamed into the Main Suite of Sickbay," she whispered as she stayed low and moved behind her desk. Reaching up, she opened the bottom drawer of her desk and felt inside. She moved the bottle of Jameson aside and reached past it. As soon as her fingers touched the grip of her phaser pistol, she grabbed it and pulled it out of the drawer then headed back to the door of her office.

Rather than firing their weapons, the intruders appeared to be scanning the room with their helmets. One of them noticed Cara standing there with phaser, he raised his weapon and fired on her position. The facing on the door next to Cara's head disintegrated.

Cara saw the rifle raise in her direction and spun backwards so her back was against the wall, knocking over the coat rack. She shielded her eyes as the doorjam seemed to melt away in the spot the intruder's weapon's fire hit. Reacting purely out of an adrenalin rush, she rolled around the doorjam, holding her pistol in front of her and fired, hitting the intruder. She kept her finger on the trigger as the phaser beam burned a hole through the jumpsuit and into the being's chest.

The second intruder had moved into a flanking position and laid down suppressive fire on the office. Each blast whittled away at the side of the wall like melting ice. When his firing came to an end, a few seconds passed until a metal thunk resounded in the doorway. A gas grenade rolled to a stop a pace or two inside the office.

Cara saw the grenade roll through the door. "Focail," she swore in Gaelic and dove across the floor between her office and the side of the nurses' station. She scrambled around the counter just as the grenade exploded, sending shards of acrylic from the office walls flying.

"Boss...you alright?" Mac called out in a whispered voice from underneath the charting desk at the front of the nurses' station.

"Yeah," Cara whispered back and backed up against the counter as a blast from the intruder's weapon took out a cabinet on the wall behind the counter.

When the Doc moved more into the circular nurses' station, Mac noticed the phaser in Cara's hand. She poked her head out from under the desk just enough to be able to see a reflection in one of the blank viewing monitors and she motioned to Cara to give her the weapon.

Cara slid the phaser across the floor to Mac, not sure what the old salt nurse had in mind.

Mac grabbed the phaser, moved into a squat...much to the argument from her knees and not so flexible muscles and watched as the intruder moved to the center of the monitor screen. Then...in a move reminiscent of any good military grunt, she stood up, whirled around and fired. The phaser blast hit the intruder in the shoulder, disintegrating the ulna and radial nerves and causing him to drop his weapon. She quickly fired a second shot aimed at just above the armor plating on his leg which fried his sciatic nerve and he went down with a thud.

Four Marines burst through the door at that moment, two in a crouch with the other two holding their rifles extended over them. Each one faced a different zone of fire. "Clear," called out the leader, who offered an impressed nod at the Medical personnel. They left as quickly as they entered, ready to clear the next room.

Cara got up from behind the counter and grabbed a bioscanner off of a nearby utility tray as she rushed over to the intruder just as the Marines came through the door. The being turned his helmeted head so that the blue light bar visor was looking at Cara. She smirked and said, "yeah. I know. You hate me and are going to kill me. Get in line, buddy." She pressed on his shoulder wound until he writhed in pain to keep him occupied then looked at the nearest nurse and said, "bring me 20CCs Kayolane." When the nurse came back Cara injected the strong sedative into the being and told two of the men to move him to Isolation and secure him. She stood up and looked around at the mess. "OK. Anyone hurt?" she asked. When she didn't get an affirmative answer she said, "then let's get this place cleaned up."




"Ms Cusack, bring us about." Akiva couldn't bring himself to sit back down. "Keep the remaining ship off our back."

"Yes sir - I'm doing my best but they're quite agile. I might have a few tricks up my sleeve though" Martha replied.

To nobody in particular, he asked, "Is there any sign of the Endurance?"

Amber nodded. "They're closing but they're still about half an hour away at maximum warp. This could turn out to be a long fight...if we come out of it at all"

"Then maybe we can come to them," Akiva said. "Helm, set a course for a point halfway between here and the Endurance's last known position. Maximum warp."

Martha quickly checked the logs before typing in a course which would get them to the Endurance much quicker than if they sat there and waited whilst they risked taking more damage.

"Yes sir. Setting course...and we're underway" Martha replied.

"Ms Zuzan, I want eyes on the pursuing vessel," Akiva ordered. He didn't posit for a second that the Hunters would not follow. "Ms Cusack, how long until we reach our new rendezvous point?"

Amber nodded. "I've got sensors locked on them and they're losing ground. I'm hoping to be able to drop the shields and let them recharge while we're getting away from them"

"I think it's safe to drop the shields for a few seconds" Martha replied.

Checking on the console for Akiva's request Martha gave him his answer.

"Nine minutes" Martha confirmed.

"Do it," Akiva said to Amber. "And somebody notify the Endurance we'll be coming in hot."

Soren tapped on the XO console sending out a brief message informing the Endurance of the situation, and their planned rendezvous with them. Immediately they responded.

"The Endurance acknowledges."




Lance Corporal Thani th'Rrone found himself thrust into leadership as the squad leader of Fireteam Charlie. With First Sergeant Zaltin abducted and many of his Marine brothers and sisters neutralized in one fashion or another, he found himself with a battlefield promotion. The kind no Marine wanted.

Major Garlake was calling out assignments over the communicator while he himself led Fireteam Alpha, which left Thani relying more on his instincts and training than any particular orders. The situation was do or die.

He was already a man down, too. Corporal Jenkins lost his grit and ran right into the line of fire, drawing down heat on everyone. Truthfully Jenkins wasn't too injured to continue fighting, but th'Rrone would rather run a rifleman light than babysit someone who couldn't hold their water.

It was a relief to find no hostiles on Deck 22. He reported as much to Garlake over his commbadge on the way to the turbolift. One more deck was clear.




=====Sickbay=====

Cara was in the process of helping one of the corpsman carry a container filled with what was left of her acrylic office wall and the bookshelf that lived behind it when two, armed to the hilt, security officers walked through the doors.

"Dr. O'Reilly?" one called out.

"I'm O'Reilly," Cara answered as the corpsman and her set the container down by the back door of the suite.

"I understand you have one of the intruders," the security officer said.

"Yes," Cara said, straightening up and brushing dust from her hands. She tried to put a strand of hair back in place but it was a lost cause so she gave it up. "It's in Isolation in restraints. It hasn't regained consciousness yet from the sedative I gave him. Nor has his injuries been treated. I've been more interested in cleaning up the mess it caused."

"We were sent here to put him under guard until he is able to be moved to the Brig," the security officer said.

"How do you know it's a him?" Cara asked, curiously, since she hadn't had a chance to determine if the thing had a gender yet.

The security officer shrugged. "The others were."

"The others?" Cara said, with surprise. "There were others?"

"Yes. At last count there were 10 that beamed over but they were killed during our confrontation with them. This one is the only live one currently on board," he said.

"What the hell is going on?" Cara asked as she walked over to the door of the Iso Unit.

"I'm not exactly sure, ma'am," the security officer replied with a shrug.

"Well...he's in there," Cara said pointing to the single biobed in the unit. "There is a force field up but it isn't as strong as those you guys use. It just sets off alarms if anyone tries to cross it."

"Don't worry, Doctor. We'll be right here. He won't get out," the security officer said as he and his partner took up their post on either side of the Iso Unit door.




The Vindex came out of subspace at full impulse, though it still looked like a streaking halt compared to warp speed. Surrounding space was as empty was before with nobody else around.

In mere seconds, the Hunters' smaller but better armed ship came out of warp behind them with a barrage of fire that landed upon the Vindex's portside flank.

"It seems they had time to recharge their weapons array," Akiva said. "Are shields holding, and where the hell is the Endurance?"

Amber checked her console to confirm their location and it was closer than she first thought.

"Come out of warp right about now Commander..." Amber said.




"They have company Captain" Rudolf warned.

Graham nodded. "Red alert - as soon as we're out of warp get a lock on the enemy ships and open fire"

"Aye sir" was the reply.

Moments later the Endurance dropped out of warp and let loose a vicious barrage of phaser and torpedo fire...




The view screen of the Vindex was locked on their pursuer, giving them a zoomed in shot of the Endurance bombarding it with their entire weapons array.

"Give them everything we've got!" Akiva stared unblinking at one explosive impact after another.

The Hunters did not last long under the sustained fire of two Starfleet ships. Before it could even turn about for a counterattack, its shields failed. Another volley of photon torpedoes sheared it in half, and then into eighths before its warp core ruptured. Little more than space dust remained. A few chunks of debris hurtled away in harmless trajectories.

"Well done, everyone." Akiva stood breathless. His hand rubbed away tension in his head and then settled on his hip. "You all did damn fine jobs. Everyone." Anxiety began to trickle out of him bit by bit as the realization of victory truly set in. "Hail the Endurance. Give them our thanks. I'll be in... the ready room. Bridge is yours, Mr Himmel."

 

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