The seemingly constant rattling – no – shaking of the ship was not what Kio was hoping for. She and her team had only slept a few hours and she was hoping to get at least an hour or so nap in before they ended up doing more drills or ended up being deployed.
However, every time she felt herself start to drift off, she was either jarred awake by the ship shaking or lurching or worse yet, thrown clear off her bed and onto the deck plating.
As well, after the Sisko was sent spinning for whatever reason, the items on her desk all went flying, despite being 'secured' by what were proving to be very weak magnets.
There seemed to be some more combat outside, but right now that did not concern her. She was bound and determined to get some sleep. Short an 'abandon ship' order, nothing was going to pull her from her bed.
<Nifty Star Trek Doorbell Sound>
“Fucking...” she mumbled, looking across the room and towards the small door.
She slowly slid her legs off her bed and onto the deck. “I swear, Tony,” she quietly mumbled to herself as she stood. “Come in,” she called louder.
Kio blinked when the door opened and rather than Sgt. Schaefer standing in the doorway, it was Rei.
“Commander?” Kio asked, confused.
Rei nodded. “May I come in?”
Kio quickly nodded and began to try and pull the top of her jumpsuit over the gray tank top she was wearing.
“Commander,” Kio spoke as she fought with her sleeves that had somehow gotten twisted and knotted into each other. “I know what you are likely thinking, and I am sorry. I just thought that because we had been drilling for so many hours straight that we should rest for a little bit.”
“It's...” Rei tried to speak but Kio continued as she spun around a bit, the act somewhat amusing Rei.
“I tried to contact you for permission, but you were with Alpha team and I did not want to disturb you, so I contacted Lt. Dowis who said it was likely a good idea and you would probably agree with my assessment. I'm sorry for not clearing it-”
Rei grabbed a hold of Kio, helping her with her sleeve.
“Thank you,” Kio nodded. “As I was saying, I am sorry-”
“Lieutenant,” Rei interjected, “if you wouldn't mind being quiet for just a moment.”
Kio stopped speaking and looked up at Rei while zipping up the front of her jumpsuit.
“It's fine,” Rei nodded. “It would be quite detrimental for you guys to go into a mission tired.”
“Please, sit down,” Rei instructed Kio. Kio did as she was asked and had a seat on the edge of her bed. Rei walked around Kio's quarters a bit. “Didn't you get larger quarters when you were promoted?”
“They offered me larger quarters, yes,” Kio answered.
“You declined them?”
Kio nodded. “I'm comfortable here.” She paused a bit before a small smile crossed her lips. “I know they aren't the SAME quarters, but these are the quarters I had when I joined the Sisko and the team. I guess by not accepting larger quarters I make sure I don't forget who I am and where I came from.”
Rei smiled as well. She looked at some of the items on her desk. “Is this your husband?”
Kio nodded as Rei picked up a picture of Kio and a young man, both dressed in the green uniform of the Starfleet LDF. “Yes, ma'am.”
“I'm sorry if I am being too personal,” Rei said, setting the picture down.
“No, it's fine,” Kio said.
Kio did not reply.
“I'm not going to pretend this isn't a little strange.”
Rei chuckled a bit. She looked to the small clear box that held Sgt. Michael Simpson's rank insignia in it before taking the chair from Kio's desk and rolling it over to the bed, across from Kio.
“Nothing leaves this room, regardless of who says it, okay?”
Kio nods back slowly, not sure where this is going.
“You are a brat,” Rei states. “You're disrespectful, you're arrogant, you're emotional and you're whiny.”
Kio scowled and opened her mouth to speak. However, Rei put her finger to her mouth. “No, no. Still my turn.”
Kio closed her mouth and allowed Rei to finish.
“I remember what you told me about a year ago. About having a chip on my shoulder. I think you're right. And I think I was overcompensating, and I don't know why. Despite all those things I said, you are, above all else, one hell of a fine soldier, one hell of a leader, and one hell of a Starfleet officer.”
Rei leaned back a bit. “Lieuten- Kio, I will gladly go into a fight without any kind of hesitation mainly because I know I have you and your team watching my ass.”
Rei looked out Kio's single window. “I had no right to speak to you the way I did regarding your reaction to Sgt. Simpson's death. And I know a year later is not the time to apologize for it, but here it is.” She turned to Kio.
Kio blinked a couple of times. “Apology accepted,” were the only words she could think of saying. Kio blinked a couple more times trying to think of something else to say but was still so stunned at Rei's sudden peace offering that she was rendered speechless.
Rei grinned, understanding the position Kio was in and continued herself. “Mamoru, my husband, his death really got to me. I know you, from all I have read, considered yourself, mistakenly I might add, responsible for your husband's death. I literally pulled the trigger, killing mine.”
“I didn't see that,” Kio acknowledged.
“You couldn't have,” Rei sighed. “He was a rouge Section 31 operative. All the logs and files have been sealed up. Just telling you this could get me thrown in prison.”
“I've gotten good at keeping secrets,” Kio said.
Rei smiled. “We all deal with death differently. I was pretty ashamed of myself with how I did.” Rei looked to Kio softly. “I guess when I thought you might be doing the same thing I did I would deal with it in the only way I knew how. Yell at you till you did differently.”
Kio shrugged. “It wasn't totally ineffective.”
“Yeah. I mean from that point on I was in 'well, let's show that bitch what I can do' mode.”
“Though Anthony's method was a bit more effective.”
Rei raised an eyebrow. Kio feverishly shook her head. “No, no.”
“I told you, nothing leaves this room.”
Kio sighed. “Anthony and I are close.”
Rei scoffed. “Duh.”
Kio rolled her eyes. “It's a bit more complicated now that I am an officer. As well, you already pointed out how emotional and whiny I am. I don't think it would make for good team cohesion if we were to have a relationship and it was to turn bad or something worse were to happen.”
Rei nodded in understanding. “I can move him to another team for you.”
“Please don't,” Kio smiled.
Rei smiled, but then sighed quietly. “A shame to let something like that slip away.”
A sly, deliberate grin crossed Kio's face. “I never implied that.”
Rei simply smiled in response. There was some silence for a few seconds before Rei resumed speaking.
“How is Corporal Kagurazaka?”
“He's a fine soldier and fits well into our unit. In fact, when we are done here I am going to send a recommendation to the LDF to have him promoted.”
“Ah, yeah. You can do that now, can't you.”
Kio pointed to the dull gray bar sown onto her collar. “This thing is worth something.”
“Saotome to Hino,” Rei's communicator chirped.
“I need you to meet me in your office ASAP.”
“On my way,” Rei replied, standing.
Kio sighed, looking at her pillow wistfully.
“Try and get some sleep. I will see if this is something we can do with just my team. If not, I will call you.”
Kio nodded as Rei walked towards the door. She stopped just prior to it opening. “Lieutenant,” she called out. Kio turned to her.
“I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass. I really do respect you and your skill. I would very much like for you to succeed, not just for my own benefit.” She paused a second before continuing. “You have to want to as well, and not just to spite me either,” she grinned, turning away, and exiting Kio's quarters.
Kio looked towards the door and watching it for a moment before putting her head down on the pillow and finally drifting off to sleep.
Rei jogged down the corridor of Deck A of the NEO control center. As she rounded the corner, she noticed Ranma, and Makoto standing outside of her office and quickly sped up her pace.
“Sorry, Captain,” Rei said, unlocking her office door.
Ranma nodded. “Don't worry, I didn't even think of calling for you till we were almost already here.” Ranma smiled as he walked in with Rei and Makoto behind him. “I forget that not everyone spends the whole day in their office.”
“Well,” Rei half grinned as she moved some PADDs from the couch that was against one of her walls, making room for Ranma and Makoto to sit. “That is the life of an administrator.”
Ranma blinked. “Yes, I guess it is.”
“I guess if I spent more time in here, it wouldn't be as messy,” Rei continued, moving some more PADDs around. “I have a few months of reports I still need to organize and get sent back to Starfleet.”
“Sucks to be you,” Makoto smirked. “I delegate that task.”
Rei shook her head as she sat down at her desk. “So, what's the mission?”
Ranma spoke as Minako passed Rei a new PADD. “We've discovered a Jem'Hadar shipyard.”
“Wow,” Rei gasped, looking at the sensor data.
Makoto nodded. “It's too heavily armored for the ship to do anything to it. As well we don't think even the extra firepower a ship like the Infinity could bring would be able to actually destroy it, at least not before potentially summoning however many reinforcements there might be still wandering around in The Badlands.”
“Is this...” Rei trailed off.
Ranma nodded, knowing exactly what Rei was talking about. “Yes, it's another dreadnaught. We cannot allow it to be completed.”
Rei nodded. “What do you have in mind?”
“Overloading the reactor core will essentially cause the station to self-destruct,” Makoto explained. “As well, the ships attached to the facility are being fed energy from the facility's core, so they would likely be overloaded and destroyed as well.”
“Can we beam in?” Rei asked.
“To the ships, yes.”
“Hrm,” Rei said, understanding what was being asked of her.
“I understand this is going to be hard,” Ranma started.
Rei nodded. “That is an understatement, Captain. However, what needs to be done, needs to be done.”
“I can send over the Marines to act as a distraction,” Makoto offered. “Perhaps have them board the dreadnaught to cause the Jem'Hadar to believe we're trying to commandeer it. This might make it easier for Rei's group to move towards the reactor core with less resistance.”
Ranma looked to Rei who nodded. “Regardless of how stealthy we try and be, we're not familiar with that station. It's all but certain we could end up being bottlenecked somewhere.”
Ranma nodded to both Makoto and Rei as he stood. “Plan it out. We need to get this done as quickly as possible. There are still four more planets we need to check.”
“Aye,” both officers replied.
Ranma turned and left the office. Makoto turned to Rei who was looking over the PADD again.
Rei's eyes went up to Makoto.
“You're not sure about this.”
Rei sighed and set the PADD down. “One hundred. Two hundred. We've done it.” Her eyes moved towards the PADD. “Nineteen against several thousand?”
Makoto nodded. “Well, if ANYONE can do it, it's you guys.”
Rei smiled slightly. “The problem is if we DO succeed, they'll send us up against a million next time.”
Makoto chuckled and moved over to Rei's desk to begin to formulate their plan.
Ranma looked at his ready-room door. It was seemingly mocking him now. Taunting him, teasing him, daring him to come in. Ranma was not in the mood for its games, however, and readjusted his gaze to the main viewer.
His quick glance was not lost on Shampoo though. She had grown weary at looking at the gas cloud they were parked in and had turned to talk to Ranma when she noticed him glaring at his office.
Ranma turned to her. “Yeah?”
“Why you stare at door?”
Shampoo scowled at him.
Ranma sighed. He was not sure if he'd just become a really bad liar – assuming he was ever a really good one – or if Shampoo, as his first officer, was just so in tune with him that she could see right through them.
“Do you think I spend too much time in there?”
Shampoo shrugged. “Not really. If nothing else to do, what it matters whether you sit here and stare at stars or sit in there and stare at walls?”
Ranma glowered. “I don't just stare at the walls.”
Shampoo raised an eyebrow.
“There is a lot of work I have to do and it's easier to do in there because of my terminal and -” Ranma cut himself off. “Oh, I see what you did there.”
Shampoo grinned smugly. “Ranma being weird lately. We need to talk later.”
Ranma leaned back and turned back to the viewscreen. “How weird?”
Ranma sighed. She was right. Now was not the right time for this kind of conversation.
“Captain,” Jansen called out.
“The Marines are reporting ready, and the NEO teams are stating they will be ready within five minutes.”
Ranma nodded. He stood and slowly walked over to the engineering station where Usagi was seated. JC stood behind her, helping her with some of the more stubborn blinking lights.
“Guys,” Ranma spoke softly. The pair both turned to their captain. “It is of utmost importance that the transporters stay operational. I want to be able to get all of our guys off those ships and that station on a moment’s notice.”
Usagi nodded. JC bit his lip a bit. “Yes sir. However, when the NEO teams enter the armored portion of the facility, there is no way at all to beam them out.”
“Not even with their transport enhancers?”
JC shook his head. “All the transport enhancers in the world won't do them any good if the ships targeting array cannot get a lock on them.”
Ranma sighed. “Are they aware of this fact?”
JC nodded. “I informed Commander Hino.”
Ranma turned and motioned for Minako to come over to where they were. Once she had joined the trio Ranma looked to her. “Is there ANYTHING at all we can do to penetrate that armor with our sensors?”
Minako thought for a moment. “Once we get over there, I can try some more 'aggressive' tactics. I didn't want to make it too obvious we were out here, so I haven't as of yet.”
Ranma nodded. “Good thinking.”
“I really don't want to be a Debbie Downer,” JC said, drawing a disapproving look from both Minako and Usagi, “but based on what I have seen so far, the Jem'Hadar designed the facility to be specifically anti-Federation.”
“It doesn't mean we shouldn't try,” Minako countered.
“I didn't say we shouldn't,” JC replied, his tone becoming more defensive. “I'm just saying that we should work with the assumption that once our forces enter the main facility, they will be stuck there.”
“What happens when they overload the reactor?!” Usagi asked.
“It's not going to instantly explode,” JC explained. “A reactor that size will take several minutes to go critical. Worst case scenario they flee in lifeboats and we beam those aboard.”
Ranma shook his head. “You obviously didn't get the pleasure of fighting the Jem'Hadar, did you, Lieutenant?”
JC shook his head.
“Yeah, they don't install lifeboats on their ships, except for one, designated for any Founder who happens to be with them.”
Ranma sighed and turned to Minako. “Do what you can.” He turned to JC and Usagi. “Keep the transporters online. I'm going to work under a less gloomy outcome.”
“Yes sir,” all three officers replied.
Ranma walked back to his chair. Usagi looked to JC. “Are they going to die?”
JC turned to the blinking lights, refusing to answer.
“Captain, NEO teams report ready,” Jansen called out. Shampoo looked to Ranma and started to stand but was stopped by Ranma who was already out of his seat. He walked up to the helm and patted Ikuhara on the shoulder.
“Ensign, take us to transporter range of...” Ranma paused, “...Blackout Two.”
“Clever,” Shampoo smirked.
Ranma smiled slightly as the ship began to move forward, smoothly. He looked down at Ikuhara. “You're too good at this.”
“Miss Lt. Hibiki?” Ikuhara asked.
Once in range, Ikuhara slammed the ship to a halt, causing Ranma to tumble slightly, bumping into Ikuhara.
“I'm having you promoted,” Ranma whispered.
Ikuhara smiled smugly as the rest of the bridge crew scowled.
“WHERE IS CAPTAIN HIBIKI?” Colonel Lee yelled as he stood back up.
“Okay then. Just making sure you didn't abandon us and go back to helm duty.”
The room of Marines laughed. Ryouga blushed slightly as he chuckled. A year ago, people openly mocking his piloting skills would have set him off in a fit of rage. However, having now worked with these guys for a year, he had gotten to know them, and they'd gotten to know him. He had formed a bond with them and knew that the joke, instigated by his commanding officer was all in fun, with no malice intended and that while they were laughing 'at him', he knew it was not derisive.
They had seen what he was capable of. They had seen what he was willing to do for them. They had seen what he was willing to do for his ship. What he was willing to do for the Federation. Ryouga was now part of a group. He was a Starfleet Marine.
And now this group was about to beam aboard a partially constructed Jem’Hadar dreadnaught and act as a distraction. They had no clue how many Jem'Hadar would throw themselves at the group, nor did they know if any of them would make it out alive.
All they knew is that they had to keep the Jem'Hadar busy until the NEO teams could get down to the reactor core and overload it so that the shipyard would explode.
It almost seemed as if they were being used as 'cannon fodder', but of course he knew that was not true. They were serving a tactical purpose, whereas cannon fodder is just throwing man after man after an enemy without any clear purpose other than to eventually break down their lines.
Ryouga sighed. He was tired of waiting and his backpack was getting heavy. It contained two oxygen tanks, in case the Jem'Hadar decided to cut off life support. They were told the interior decks, where they would be beaming too, were fully constructed, so there would not be any worries about decompression, so they were not in environmental suits, which he was happy about.
Fighting was hard. Fighting when your mobility was restricted was much, much harder.
“PREPARE FOR TRANSPORT!” Lee yelled.
Ryouga grabbed his rifle, powered it up, and set it to kill just before the Sisko's transporter beam grabbed him.
Kio looked over her gear one last time before placing her projectile handgun in its holster on her left thigh, her modified type two phaser on her right thigh, strapping a second hybrid rifle to her back, and double-checking the power cell on the one she would be holding when she beamed over.
“The Marines have transported,” Rei reported.
Kio upped the setting on her rifle and moved onto the second transporter pad where Anthony, Kagurazaka, Xiang, and Yayo were staged.
“You guys ready?” Kio asked.
“No,” Anthony whimpered.
Kio smiled. “Come on now. We've fought the Jem'Hadar before.”
Anthony nodded. “Yes, but there were like 20,000 of us.”
“Lt. Yuki is as fearsome as 20,000 Federation soldiers,” Xiang piped up. “So, I am sure we'll be fine.”
“Thank you, Corporal.”
Anthony simply rolled his eyes.
“Kio, you've got your plan of attack ready?” Rei called.
“'Kio'?” Anthony whispered.
“We'll meet you in main reactor control,” she continued, ignoring Anthony.
“Great. And remember, Charlie and Delta are going to be blowing things up as further diversionary tactics, so try and stay clear of them. We don't need any friendly-fire incidents.”
“Seriously, 'Kio'?” Anthony again asked.
“No worries, I'm not going to survive assaulting a Jem'Hadar station only to be blown up by my own shipmates.”
Both Kio and Rei laughed, causing all of Bravo team to stare wide-eyed at Kio.
“What?” She asked.
“When we get back, we need to talk,” Anthony stated.
“The Marines have engaged the Jem'Hadar,” Rei reported. “We'll be beaming in momentarily.”
Kio continued to look forward despite Anthony's gaze. “Uh... Sarge...” Kagurazaka began, poking the still shocked Anthony slightly, before Rei began to yell.
“WE'RE MOVING NOW!”
Kio gritted her teeth. Despite the fact that she had great confidence in her team, as the blue glow of the transporter grabbed her a thought pushed through her head that this would be the last time she saw the inside of the U.S.S. Benjamin Sisko.
The marines's arrival on Blackout Two was met with alarm klaxons and a male computer voice calling out what was likely the Jem'Hadar version of 'intruder alert'.
“AIRLOCK!” the lead marine called. The marines began to advance. They met light resistance on the short trek from where they materialized to where the ship was attached to the station. Any Jem'Hadar that did show up were quickly killed by the advancing Starfleet forces.
It was not long before that changed, however. More and more Jem'Hadar began to stream onboard. The marines held the upper hand though, firmly in defensive positions, blasting down the genetically engineered soldiers as quickly as they arrived.
After about the thirtieth Jem'Hadar he had personally shot and killed, Ryouga realized he was getting a very descriptive lesson in what 'cannon-fodder' was.
Ranma looked to Blackout Two. His mind began to churn a bit more after examining the display of the ship.
“It looks like it might actually have the dampening weapon installed on it,” Ranma pointed out.
“Shampoo no want to think about that.”
Ranma nodded but continued. “I think if it were actually 'usable', it would be in use all the time, don't you? To hide the whole space dock?”
Shampoo pondered this. “Make sense.”
He turned to first Minako, then to JC. “How space worthy is that ship?”
Minako ran some scans. “It has a warp core...”
JC looked at Minako's scans from his terminal. “I certainly wouldn't want to move it very fast.”
“If we stole it, could we get it into Starfleet's possession?”
Shampoo looked to Ranma.
JC looked at the scans again. “Assuming that the basic EPS junctions that control spaceflight are intact, it looks like it has enough structural integrity to hold warp two.”
“Long time to Earth.” Shampoo pointed out.
“It doesn't need to go to Earth,” Ranma countered. “Just out of and away from here.”
“I am sure Starfleet would love to get a hold of that dampening device,” Makoto offered.
Ranma looked to Shampoo, who nodded. “Opportunity.”
Ranma turned to Makoto. “Inform the marines that, if at all possible, they are to keep possession of that ship.”
“Contacts,” Minako reported. “Twenty Jem'Hadar fighters inbound.”
“Fire at will,” Ranma ordered.
The Sisko began to fire at the fighters. However, she did not receive any return fire.
“SIR!” Makoto called out. “They're firing on Blackout!”
“I'm trying...” Makoto replied.
It took her a minute, but Makoto and Jansen finally got all of the Jem'Hadar fighters either destroyed or to retreat. Ranma looked worriedly at the viewer. “What is the status of the marines?”
Makoto listened to some comm chatter coming at her. “They took some injuries, mostly from the fighter's assault. A few of them are beaming back, but they seem to be okay and are maintaining control.”
Ranma sighed an audible sigh of relief. “Ensign,” he began to order, turning towards the helm. “Put us in a better position to defend that ship.”
“Yes sir,” Ikuhara answered.
Ranma turned to Shampoo. “Plan B?”
Shampoo looked to the ship. “If they come back with too many, maybe we have Marines bring them on to ship, and let Jem'Hadar kill themselves?”
Ranma grimaced. He really wanted to deliver that beast to Starfleet. However, he didn't want to lose over half his crew in the process, which is exactly what would happen if the Jem'Hadar managed to destroy the ship with the Marines on board.
“Set up that contingency.”
Shampoo nodded and scurried up to tactical.
Kio pulled the body of the Jem'Hadar soldier, or engineer or whatever this creature's job was before she shot him in the back of the head was, into a crevice in the ship they had transported into.
The group slowly moved down the corridor towards the airlock that connected the disabled warship to the drydock. None of them were pleased with the fact that once inside the facility they would be completely cut off from the Sisko, but they understood that sometimes those were the bumps in the road life gave you.
They ran into a few more guards at the airlock and quickly dispatched them. While they had not gotten far, they had noticed resistance had been light so far. As well, the internal sensors on this ship were apparently disabled as there was no alert sounded when they beamed aboard, giving Kio some hope that their luck was improving.
Kio looked left down the hallway, then right.
“Which way?” Anthony asked.
Kio sighed. “Fuck if I know.”
“Lieutenant, incoming,” Kagurazaka reported, reading a blob of bio-signs on his tricorder. Kio pushed her group back into the ship, ready to engage them, however, the ten Jem'Hadar soldiers simply ran past the airlock, full speed towards what Bravo team assumed was the dreadnaught.
“Well,” Xiang reported, “Commander Hino's team beamed into a ship on the opposite side of the facility, and Charlie and Delta are too the right.”
Kio nodded. “I guess we're going left then.”
“But they went left,” Anthony complained.
Kio shook her head, patted Anthony on the head, and began to move her team out. The group ran down the corridor, stopping whenever they could find cover, occasionally hiding from a group of Jem'Hadar who were running to presumably join the ever-growing pile of deceased Jem'Hadar at the entrance to Blackout II.
“A turboshaft,” Anthony noted as they arrived at a set of doors. Xiang nodded as an explosion rocked the station.
“Oh, I guess Charlie and Delta are letting them know they are there,” Yayo smirked.
Kio nodded. “Yeah, but now there might be more coming this way.”
Xiang nodded and smiled as he got the panel off the door control. He released the hydraulics on the door, forcing it open. Kio stuck her head in, looking at the turbolift car a few decks above them.
Xiang quickly slid around, popped open another control panel on the inside of the shaft, and after a few seconds of rigging nodded. “The lift is inoperable.”
Kio smiled, pulled out some rappelling gear from her backpack, and attached it to the inside of the turboshaft.
“Is this a bad time to mention I am afraid of heights?” Anthony whimpered as he attached his belt to the rope.
The group chuckled at him as they all began to rappel down the shaft.
“How far down do you think we need to go?” Kio asked.
“Reactor control is likely in the middle,” Xiang answered. “I'm guessing about fifteen decks.”
The group moved down nearly the whole way when suddenly purple disruptor fire began whizzing past them.
“Shit,” Kio grumbled, grabbing her gun with her free hand, and firing back at the Jem'Hadar about fourteen decks above them shooting downwards.
Xiang quickly went to work on the closest door as Kio managed to hit one of the Jem'Hadar. The other, realizing he was unable to hit the group as they were firmly hugging the wall of the shaft, did the next best thing. He shot their rope.
The disruptor charge went through the rope, cutting it. Kio nearly screamed as she felt herself begin to fall, starting to take Anthony, Xiang, and Yayo with her. However, the group's freefall was halted in a sudden jerk as they were still attached to Kagurazaka who had managed to swing over and secure himself on an access ladder prior to the rope being severed.
“Ian, I could kiss you,” Anthony whimpered.
Kagurazaka whimpered. “I'd prefer everyone just get on to the ladder themselves. Not that I am saying anyone is fat, I'm just saying, you aren't all lite.”
Kio laughed as she basically climbed up the rope and over Kagurazaka. Anthony, Xiang, and Yayo followed suit. The group then adjusted their positions to allow Xiang to finish his work on the door, which opened. Kio, not wanting to take any more chances tossed in a stun grenade. Once it detonated, she and the rest of the group dove out.
Kio looked around. No Jem'Hadar.
“Uh, Lieutenant...” Anthony whimpered.
Kio turned to Anthony and then noticed what he was whimpering about.
“Oh fuck,” she also whimpered.
The ship Rei's team beamed into did in fact have internal sensors and it was not shy about telling any nearby Jem'Hadar that outsiders had beamed in. In fact, Rei was not sure what she hated more. The Jem'Hadar after Jem'Hadar that came to attack them, or the constant screeching of the ship.
It gave her more incentive to kill faster so that she could get off the ship and into the station. However, she knew now that they knew there was a second, and potentially third and fourth group on board, they would be seeing more resistance.
“I still think they will be more interested in the Marines,” Parker said, addressing Rei's concerns. “The dreadnaught is a far more valuable target.”
Shelton nodded in agreement. Rei agreed as well, though took little comfort in it as there were about fifteen soldiers waiting for them at the airlock.
These Jem'Hadar were not like the ones in the war, however. Rei noticed a serious lack of discipline. Sure, all Jem'Hadar were willing to simply throw themselves at an enemy and die for no apparent reason other than because a Changeling told them to. But these did not even seem to have any tactical discipline.
A couple of them were even shot by their own kind either because they stepped out in front of the others fire or because they came running in, guns blasting without any concern for where the enemy was or where their allies were.
It was a site to see alright. And it was one that was working in the highly disciplined, highly trained group's favor as it allowed the small, five-man team to simply slaughter their enemy even when the numbers grew to at one point, forty Jem'Hadar.
Eventually, the stream of soldiers stopped. Shelton and Parker checked the corridor before giving the ‘all clear’ to Rei and the others. The group quickly moved around, hiding from a few Jem'Hadar that were either running to find them or going towards the dreadnaught.
“The reactor control room is likely in the middle of the station,” the team's combat engineer, Sgt. Anderson stated. “Probably fourteen or fifteen decks below us.”
“There is a Jefferies tube here,” Shelton pointed out. Rei nodded and the group moved into the small crawl space.
Every now and then they would come to the end of one of the tubes and end up having to move down the corridors. The deeper into the station they got, however, the lighter the resistance was.
“It seems most of the Jem'Hadar have moved up to the docking ring,” Parker said.
Rei nodded. “This is going to make it slightly harder for us to get off the station, however.”
The group nodded just before they were confronted by about 30 Jem'Hadar. Rei ended up taking a disruptor blast that hit her in the thigh, but in the end, all the Jem'Hadar ended up just like the others.
“Commander, let me take a look at that,” the team's medic, Ensign Masters requested.
“I'm fine, we need to keep moving.” Rei stood for about a second. She then dropped to the ground, tears swelling in her eyes. “GOD DAMN IT!”
Shelton scurried over to her, as did Masters. “Commander?” Shelton asked.
“It wasn't even a direct shot!” Rei whimpered.
Masters pulled away a burnt tricorder and tossed it a few meters away. “The disruptor blast caused the power cell in your tricorder to rupture. You have a second-degree plasma burn.”
Rei groaned as Masters injected her with a couple of hypos and then ran one of the magical Starfleet medical devices over Rei's injury. “You're going to need to have this taken care of when we get back, otherwise you're going to have serious tissue and muscle damage that you won't recover from.”
Rei nodded as Parker helped her to her feet.
“All I can do is stop the damage from spreading and disinfect it. And, of course, the pain killers,” Masters concluded.
“It will have to work,” Rei acknowledged.
The group continued, albeit a bit more slowly as Rei's injury caused her to not be able to walk as fast. However, they didn't meet any more resistance until they got to the deck they assumed the reactor control room was on.
“Wait,” Parker stopped them. “Five in the turboshaft.”
“Huh?” Shelton asked.
The door to the turbolift slid open, however, there was no turbolift car. The group all raised their weapons, ready for whatever came out. The only thing to come out though was a small, blinking, device.
“DIVE!” Parker yelled.
The group tried to move quickly out of the range of the device. Rei, however, couldn't move fast enough and was caught in the blast radius. Bravo team came pouring out of the turboshaft, their weapons pointing in every which direction.
Anthony was the first to notice Rei on the ground, followed by Yayo, who quickly scurried to her as did Masters.
Kio turned to see Rei lying unconscious on the deck, and the rest of Alpha team peaking around their hiding places.
Kio stopped her pacing only long enough to turn around and assist Anthony and Kagurazaka in shooting a few Jem'Hadar who had come around a corner. She turned back and looked to Shelton, a pale, frightened expression on her face.
“I didn't think to scan for you guys...” she mumbled. “We just nearly fell down the shaft and I just wanted us on solid ground again...”
Shelton nodded, putting his hand on Kio's shoulder tight enough to signal her to stop her pacing. “I don't think it would have helped anyway. We scanned you guys in the lift, but the tricorder didn't register you as friendlies.”
Kio nodded as she ducked as the two Alpha team gunners fired on a couple of hapless Jem'Hadar.
“We need to get her out of this hallway,” Kio said.
“There's a room over here,” Kagurazaka pointed out.
“Secure it,” Kio ordered.
Anthony and Kagurazaka went to secure the room as Xiang and Kio took up defense stances around the medics working on Rei.
“Clear!” Anthony called out. The two medics quickly picked up Rei and followed Bravo team into the room. Alpha team trailed in behind them as Rei was set on a table. As she was set down, Kio noticed the wound on Rei's leg and screeched.
“OH MY GOD!”
“Shh! Lieutenant,” Shelton barked. Kio covered her mouth, then turned to Shelton. “She's going to fucking decapitate me.”
Shelton chuckled. “You didn't do that.”
Kio sighed a heavy sigh of relief. “What happened?”
Kio nodded. The medics continued to work and finally figured out the correct amount of stimulant that would not react too badly with the painkillers that were already flowing through Commander Rei Hino at the moment. Masters handed Yayo the hypospray and the Andorian medic quickly injected her.
Rei gritted her teeth and groaned as she came too. Kio looked at her, as did Shelton. “Commander?” Shelton asked.
Rei blinked a couple of times. “Whuhappen?”
Yayo looked to Masters. “Too much.”
Masters nodded and began to conjure up something else as Kio meekly looked to her supervisor. “I'm sorry, Commander. I didn't realize you guys were out there and we deployed a stun grenade.”
“Ohizdatall?” Rei slurred. Kio nodded, a bit confused by Rei's seemingly melancholy and semi-drunken attitude. “Da wayyouz was lookin, I thought maybe I'z dead.”
“No ma'am,” Kio replied, slowly. “I'm just sorry for hurting you.”
Kagurazaka and Anthony were guarding the doorway. Both found their eyes slightly moving towards Rei before moving back towards the door.
“Com'ere,” Rei motioned for Kio to lean towards her. Kio did as she was asked, becoming slightly paler as one of Rei's hands found hers. Rei pulled herself up slightly and began to whisper into Kio's ear.
“You're so'doreable when you'z scared.” Rei smiled, grabbed the front of Kio's vest with her free arm and pulled her down, Rei's face contacting Kio's. Kio could do nothing but stare forward, bug-eyed, as Rei kissed her on the lips. Every hair on Kio's body stood straight out as she felt what she assumed was Rei's tongue gently trying to probe its way into her mouth.
“Oh my,” Yayo blinked, quickly injecting Rei with the reformulated hypospray.
Anthony, still looking towards the door groaned. “What'd I miss?”
Parker, who was supposed to be watching the door with the group but had been distracted by the goings-on across the room turned back around. “That was... Unexpected.”
“What?!” Anthony demanded to know.
“Uh, Commander Hino and Lieutenant Yuki just made out.”
Anthony allowed the barrel of his gun to droop. “I hate this job.”
Rei, after receiving the newest injection, released her grip on Kio, allowing the young officer to shoot off in a self-propelled backward sprint across the room to where she would be as far away from Rei when she came completely to her wits as possible.
Shelton poked Rei a couple of times. “Commander?”
“Ahh... What happened?”
Yayo nodded to Masters and the pair began to back up their gear.
“Unfortunately, we happened to be right outside of a turboshaft Bravo team was coming out of. The F-o-F identifiers on our tricorders can't seem to work through these walls, so they didn't realize we shouldn't be stunned and were hit with a stun grenade.”
“Sorry,” Kio called out from the other side of the room.
Rei began to sit up. “It's okay. If I didn't have this leg injury I could have gotten out of the way.” She stopped for a moment.
“What are you doing way over there?”
“Oh, just making sure you had room to stretch out your legs, ma'am,” Kio replied, chuckling nervously. Rei eyed her oddly, wondered why there was a taste of cherry lip balm on her mouth, then began to move towards the doorway.
“We've been here far too long. We don't know what the status of the Marines are, so we need to hurry.”
“Aye,” everyone replied.
“Here's the problem, Captain,” the marine in charge over on Blackout II stated over the sound of phaser blasts. “We don't seem to have any issues keeping them off the ship, but there have been some that have come from our flank, so we know there are some still aboard.
“There is just no way we can both clear a ship this size AND maintain control of the airlock.”
Ranma sighed. “Understood. Maintain your position for now.”
Ranma again sighed as he looked to Shampoo and shrugged. “I guess we'll just have to be content on destroying it.”
Shampoo's eyes darted to Ranma, then back to the viewer as a couple of the remaining fighters from before came back for another shot at the dreadnaught. Makoto did not allow them to get too close, however, and destroyed them with ease.
“Any word from the NEO teams?” Ranma asked.
“No,” Minako replied.
“Any luck penetrating that armor?”
“No,” Minako again replied.
Ranma frowned disapprovingly. He did not like waiting and he didn't like not knowing what was going on.
The combined Bravo/Alpha team wandered around the deck a bit before finding a large set of doors that were nearly two decks high and over fifteen meters wide.
“I think we found what we're looking for,” Parker smiled.
Kio looked through a window. “Looks to be a few people in there, not many.”
Rei came up behind Kio and looked as well. The gear attached to Rei's body rubbed up against Kio's backside, sending a chill up her spine.
“Yup,” Kio said, trying to squeeze her way under Rei and back into the open area in front of the door. “STRAIGHT in and STRAIGHT to the reactor core. Blow this place STRAIGHT to hell.”
The group looked to Kio as she began pacing in front of the door for a couple of moments before putting herself in a position to start shooting anything and everything she saw.
“Alright,” Rei said quietly. “Let's get this door open and get in there.”
The teams nodded and took up positions in front of the doors. Xiang and Alpha's engineer went to work on disabling the door lock. After a moment, the seal disengaged, and the doors slid open.
Kio led her team in, quickly shooting down what seemed to be mostly Jem'Hadar engineers. A few security forces came in from other attached rooms but were quickly hot by either Rei's team or Kio's as they made their way towards the gigantic purple and blue reactor core.
One of the Jem'Hadar quickly ran towards a terminal. He began yelling into it just before Kagurazaka shot him in the back, sending him to the floor. It took only a couple of more minutes for the NEO teams to kill the remaining Jem'Hadar soldiers and engineers.
Kagurazaka walked over to the terminal where that the Jem'Hadar he had shot had activated. He looked it over, checking some things on a PADD that contained a Jem'Hadar to Federation Standard dictionary.
“Commander,” he called out. Rei walked over to him and looked to the terminal. “It appears that this one was able to notify their operations center of our presence before I was able to shoot him.”
Rei groaned. “Expect reinforcements.”
The group took up defensive stances guarding the two combat engineers.
“Charlie to Alpha,” Rei's communicator chirped.
“We're near your position. Do you need us in the reactor room?”
“We're expecting reinforcements, so yes. Set up any kind of 'surprise' for any new Jem'Hadar that you can outside of the area first though.”
Rei turned to the Xiang. “How long?”
“It will probably take us about ten minutes to do this.”
Anderson nodded. “Once we get the overload sequence started, we'll have about ten minutes to get back to one of the attached ships so we can be beamed out. Maybe fifteen.”
“They won't be able to stop it?”
Xiang smirked. “Not the way we're doing it.”
Rei nodded. “Okay.” She turned and looked to Charlie and Delta teams coming in the control room and taking up defensive positions. “Don't actually start the sequence till we're ready to move out. I have an odd feeling we're going to need all ten-”
Rei is cut off by a loud explosion coming from the hallway. Lt. George Carson, head of Delta team smirked. “The Jem'Hadar are here.”
The eighteen Starfleet special operations soldiers soon faced what seemed like a never-ending stream of Jem'Hadar throwing themselves into their line of fire. For every one that they killed, it seemed like three more would show up to take their place.
Xiang and Anderson were having a difficult time working as disruptor charges impacted the walls behind them; some even striking the reactor core its self; the Jem'Hadar seemingly having no concern for the collateral damage they seemed to be causing the station or its equipment.
Kio ducked down as she ejected the power cell out of her rifle. She inserted the new one and poked her head up, getting ready to fire, but noticed the Jem'Hadar seemed to be retreating.
“Where are they going?” Kio asked.
“To the Federation soldiers in the reactor core,” a voice bellowed from the intercom. “I am Pallor. I am the Vorta the Founders have sent to oversee this colony. Surrender and you will not be harmed.”
Rei looked to Parker who shrugged slightly. Rei turned a bit trying to see where the voice was coming from but did not want to risk standing. “I am Commander Rei Hino. You're aware this 'colony', as you put it, Pallor, is in violation of the treaty signed between the Dominion and the Federation, right?”
“That treaty was signed under duress,” Pallor replied. “It holds no weight.
“IT'S WAR!” Rei yelled. “Of course it was signed under duress. They all are.”
“Have you even spoken to the founders since the war?” Rei asked.
“I do not need to speak with them to know their bidding,” he replied, quietly. “Besides, if they wish to speak with me, they will.”
Rei sighed. Parker quickly showed her his tricorder which was showing a large mass of bio signs assembling outside of the door. Apparently, now that the Vorta had reaffirmed control of things here, they were not going to simply stagger in, but assault the group in large numbers.
“Again, I offer you the chance to surrender so you do not end up killed like those who attempted to take control of our flagship,” Pallor smugly stated.
Rei looked to Parker with concern. Could it be that the marine force had all been wiped out?
“Oh please,” Kio scoffed, drawing an irritated at first, but eventually amused look from Rei. “Your group of idiots hasn't even come close to being able to kill us, and there's only like twenty of us. There were two hundred of them, and they weren't moving.”
Pallor growled. “Believe what you like, Starfleet.”
The communication ended. Kio set her sights on the door as she waited, knowing full well that thanks to her words they would be even more intent on killing the group.
“They don't seem to be coming in as often,” Ryouga noted to another marine.
“Maybe they can't get past the bodies of all their buddies?”
The pair laughed. For a second it seemed rude to laugh over death, even if it was the death of an enemy, but then again this was the Jem'Hadar; beings who were bred with the sole purpose of fighting and dying.
“They're pulling back,” the marine commander noted.
“There are alarms sounding in the facility,” another pointed out.
“Perhaps the NEO teams have been discovered and made a higher priority?” Ryouga asked.
“Seems that way,” the marine in charge replied.
“Major, maybe we should assist them?” Ryouga asked.
The Major shook his head. “We've been ordered to maintain control of this ship.”
Ryouga sighed. He was not sure if he liked it, but those were the orders.
“I think you pissed them off, Lieutenant,” Anthony noted as he, Kio, and Kagurazaka took cover from the massive blob of incoming disruptor fire. Kio nodded, acknowledging that now, rather than two or three at a time coming in, they were coming into the reactor room in lines of ten.
The group was still able to pick them off, but there were enough Jem'Hadar assembled that the flow was outpacing the amount being killed.
“Commander,” Xiang called to Rei. “The sequence is ready.”
Rei looked at the massive amount of Jem'Hadar moving into the room. She looked to Kio who could barely get a single shot off before having to duck back down again. She looked to Shelton who knew exactly what she was thinking and solemnly nodded.
“Start it,” she ordered.
Xiang started the overload sequence with a sigh. Being blown to bits in a Jem'Hadar reactor room was not really his ideal way to go, but he acknowledged you don't get to always choose.
“Eleven minutes,” Anderson reported.
“Crap,” Kio complained. “We're not going to live long enough to become martyrs.”
Rei shook her head and rolled out a concussion grenade, knocking back about 30 Jem'Hadar.
“You realize,” Pallor started, “that as soon as they kill you, we will just stop whatever you did to the reactor core.”
“We won't let you get to the reactor core to stop it,” Rei replied. “Assuming your robots could even undo what we did.”
Pallor growled. “How about I just jettison the core?”
“It will still explode and at least damage your station enough to allow our ships to finish you off,” Rei replied.
“You are going to die, regardless.”
“So be it,” Rei answered.
Pallor's frustration was obvious as he closed the communication again. The room continued to swarm with Jem'Hadar, far more than the small NEO team could handle.
The Jem'Hadar, finally showing some discipline, marched across the large reactor control room towards the area where Rei, Kio, and the rest were encamped.
“Welp...” Kio sighed, loading another power cell into her rifle.
“Welp indeed,” Rei replied.