“We’re about twenty minutes to intercept,” the operations officer on the Ek’Skil reported to Vor’Gal.
“What about the Federation ship?” Vor’Gal asked, not turning away from the viewscreen.
The Ek’Skil was cruising at warp 9.3, her maximum speed. Normally a cloaked ship cannot top warp five, but the Ek’Skil was no ordinary ship.
She was the most advanced of the Romulan prototype Talon class attack cruisers. Ships designed to be used against the Dominion. But now with the Dominion threat gone, they were made available for testing to the highest-ranking Romulan military officials.
Vor’Gal was one of those. He sure was not anymore. As soon as the Romulan Senate became aware of his ‘use’ of the ship he would no longer be welcome in their ranks.
He would not even be welcome in their territory unless it was in a prisoner convoy.
Vor’Gal did not worry about that though. He had no interest in returning to Romulus. He and his ship would be leading the Vulcan’s in their revolt against the humans.
At least that was the plan.
Even though he was only half Vulcan, his mother had taught him a lot about his heritage from that side of the family. She had taught him about the history between Vulcan and Earth. About how even though the Vulcan’s were the first with warp speed, the humans claimed the right to colonize the galaxy.
The Vulcans were the ones with all the advancements and technology, but the humans controlled the Federation.
The humans had to have their hands held in every venture they took into space – yet they regarded themselves as the superiors in the galaxy, pushing both their moral and economic policies on every planet they found.
After all the Vulcan’s did, the humans still had control of the Quadrant – including Vulcan.
At least, that is what he had been told.
Vor’Gal had no reason to doubt his mother. She did not seem to have any motive to spread lies. He had several run-ins with the humans himself and every time they appeared just as smug and egocentric as his mother had said.
He felt sorry for the innocents that were about to give their lives for the cause, but in every war, there must be martyrs.
“The larger ship will be overtaking T’Sol’s ship in three minutes.”
Vor’Gal groaned. He knew the Federation would not launch an all-out assault against the ship. They were too controlled by their emotions to simply kill his hostages. They would try and launch a rescue.
And that was all the time he needed.
“Can we get any more speed?”
The operations officer shook his head.
“No sir. We are barely holding our cloak as it is. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. We’ve got more than enough time.”
T’Sol was not as calm as Vor’Gal was.
T’Sol could clearly see the Federation ship nearly on top of him. While he was not expecting an all-out assault, he was still nervous.
Nabiki and Kasumi were still sitting in the corner of the bridge. They had been tied together and their hands were restrained. They had both remained quiet and as a reward, they were not gagged.
Nabiki had remained calm as well. As far as she knew they were simply being held for ransom. This thought kept her positive, as positive as you can be in this situation, knowing that it would be bad business to kill you hostages.
Kasumi seemed relatively calm, but she was still worried. Kasumi had far too many thoughts about what was going to happen to them racing through her mind.
The way the guards kept eyeing them was troubling. She feared that they may be in for a fate worse than death.
Kasumi became even more worried when Nabiki began to talk.
“T’Sol, right?” Nabiki asked.
T’Sol nodded while keeping one eye on the window, the other on long-range scanners.
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Nabiki shifted a bit. A guard eyed her but did nothing.
“What faction are you with?”
T’Sol turned in his seat to look towards the pair.
“I assume you are Romulan.”
T’Sol grinned. “You assume wrong, young lady. I and my mates here are Vulcan.”
Nabiki raised an eyebrow. “A Vulcan criminal?”
T’Sol scoffed at the accusation.
“I’m not a criminal,” he turned back around in his seat.
Nabiki narrowed her gaze. “You took my sister and me, hostage. You killed my pilot. You’ve hijacked my ship. That sounds pretty criminal to me.”
T’Sol motioned for one of the guards to take his place and went over to Nabiki. He squatted down to look her in the eye.
“Many revolutionaries were considered criminals by their enemies,” he stated. “In your own history, the British considered the American colonists criminals. History seems to have vindicated them.”
“Well, it’s not my history,” Nabiki countered. “I’m of Japanese descent.”
T’Sol chuckled. “Humans are humans.”
“So, what is your story?” Nabiki asked.
“Trying to buy some time, eh?” T’Sol grinned. “Waiting for your rescue?”
“No,” Nabiki said dryly. “I’m just wanting to see if history will really vindicate you as you say.”
T’Sol had some respect for this human. She obviously was not afraid to speak her mind. She did not seem to fear him either. He liked that in a woman.
He briefly considered keeping her for himself.
“My story is long and irrelevant,” T’Sol said, as he stood and walked back over to the pilot’s seat.
“Vor’Gal is the leader of a Vulcan resistance group known as Abrupik Tehnaya. Roughly translated it means Dominating Resistance.” T’Sol retook his seat and continued talking as he checked the sensor array.
“While our people have led the way in space exploration, diplomacy, and tactically, the humans have put us in the back seat. Forcing us to play second string, as it were, to them.
“To use an analogy from your world, you wouldn’t expect Bach to play backup to some no-name concert pianist, right?”
Nabiki didn’t respond. T’Sol continued.
“It’s time to retake our place in the Quadrant as the superior, dominate, race.”
Nabiki eyed T’Sol for a moment. “How do you plan on doing that?”
T’Sol’s face showed no expression as he spoke.
“We’re going to start a war between Earth and Vulcan.”
“Oh my,” Kasumi quipped.
Nabiki grew worrisome, but she refused to let it show.
“And you plan on doing that how?”
T’Sol grinned. “That’s really not your concern. All you need to know is that your names will forever be etched in history as the human murderers of tens of thousands of Vulcans.”
Kasumi let out a little gasp. Nabiki could no longer hide the concern she was feeling now.
“Now,” T’Sol stated. “You two will need to be placed in a safe place. Things are about to get a little messy here.”
He motioned to a guard who moved over to the two sisters. Several others joined him as they forced them to their feet. The pair was unbound and stunned immediately.
“Shouldn’t we just kill them?” One of the guards groaned.
“Don’t be so emotional,” T’Sol scolded. “If we kill them now, who are we going to threaten to kill if we’re attacked?”
The guard once again groaned as the other started to drag Kasumi and Nabiki back into the cargo hold. He didn’t really feel like the humans needed to be alive to be used as hostages, but he respected T’Sol and his decision.
T’Sol turned to the remaining guard on the bridge.
“The transport inhibitors are in place?”
The guard nodded. “Their transporters are probably powerful enough to get them in, but they won’t be able to leave.”
T’Sol grinned once more. “Seal the bridge. I think we will be having guests shortly.”
The guard nodded and closed the hatch sealing off the bridge from the rest of the ship. He then went to work using his phaser as a welding torch to permanently seal the door closed.
Ranma watched the view intently as the Nerima grew larger and larger in his viewer. Ryouga, well actually the computer, was slowing the Sisko to match the Nerima’s speed. They were still going slightly faster, to make sure they got within weapons and transporter range.
The bridge was dark. The red lights were slowly pulsating. As in battle situations on this ship, there were two people manning every station. Some were having quiet, official conversations, but more the most part the only noise on the bridge came from the chirp of the panels and the air vents softly blowing O2 onto the deck.
Ranma looked to Minako. She was intently eyeing the center console, waiting for the little green light to come on, indicating they were within weapons range.
She occasionally looked up to Ryouga. Ranma was unsure if this was because of their relationship or because she wanted to make sure he kept them on course. Ranma best figured that this was a question that did not need pondering right now.
Ranma then looked to his left. To Akane.
She looked terrible. She had been crying for twenty-plus minutes in his ready room. Now she was on the bridge, looking at the ship that held her two sisters. A ship that had been hijacked. A ship that could very well end up being their tomb.
Akane did not want to think like that. She remembered Ranma’s promise, and Ranma *never* broke a promise to her.
Still though, it was damn hard for her to not just break down and cry right there.
She looked to Ranma and noticed him looking at her; softly and sadly.
He softly whispered to her.
“Are you going to be okay up here?”
Akane nodded, not really knowing if she was lying or if she would be okay.
Ranma turned back to the main viewer. He could not stand watching her that sad. It caused him great pain. He wanted nothing more than to remove her from the bridge, but he could not. She wanted to be up here, and he would be damned if he was going to cause her even more pain, just to alleviate some of his.
The red reflection from the computer terminal on Minako’s face silently switched to green. She looked up at Ranma.
Ranma inhaled deeply.
“EMP torpedoes armed?” He asked Makoto.
Makoto, who was wearing a Starfleet combat jacket in preparation for leading the second wave of troops onto the Nerima, nodded.
Ranma paused for a moment.
‘They won’t hurt the ship,’ he reminded himself.
He hoped to God that he was not lying to himself again.
Every forward torpedo tube on the Sisko spewed torpedoes at the Nerima. These EMP torpedoes, torpedoes with no explosive yield, glowed a bright blue.
“Five seconds,” Makoto stated.
It was the longest five seconds in Ranma’s life. The torpedoes seemed to crawl towards the Nerima.
Finally, they impacted the shields.
The shielding around the Nerima glowed brightly before the glow finally fizzled out. Ranma turned to the operations officer.
“Status?” Ranma demanded more than asked.
“Their shields are down to 54 percent,” Kaii replied.
“Second volley,” Ranma ordered. “Fire when ready.”
Makoto silently complied. The discharge was heard, and the view screen glowed a bright blue as the torpedoes once again crawled to their target.
They impacted again in a bright blue glow that once again fizzled out quickly.
Ranma turned to operations again who did not need to be prompted this time.
Ranma looked to Ryouga. “Hold speed.”
Ryouga complied and locked the Sisko into a matching speed with the Nerima.
Ranma then hit his communicator.
“Saotome to Hino. Go.”
Rei, fully dressed in her NSO uniform looked to the transporter chief from where she was staged on the transporter pad. “Energize.”
The chief hit some buttons and did the little slider thing. Rei and the rest of Alpha team disappeared into blue sparkles.
Kio looked to her group. “Let’s go,” she said, a little nervous.
Anthony looked at her once they were on the pad.
“You know, Chief. At warp transport is extremely dangerous. If we survive this, we should easily survive the assault.”
Kio simply glared at him as Bravo team vanished.
“How the hell did they knock down our shields so quickly?” the guard on the bridge asked T’Sol.
T’Sol wasn’t sure of that himself. Not only had they managed to completely knock down the shields in under thirty seconds, but they did not do so much as an ounce of damage to the ship.
“Don’t worry about that,” T’Sol growled. “Just get that hatch sealed.”
“I’m going as fast as I can.” He stated. The guard had only gotten a third of the hatch welded shut when they were attacked. His only solace was that if it took him this long to weld it shut is that it would take them even longer to get it open.
The command console chirped. T’Sol looked at it.
“We’ve been boarded,” T’Sol grabbed his communicator.
“T’Sol to Val. We have company, section eighteen. Five humans.”
“Got it,” Val replied.
The command console chirped once again.
“Five more, section seven. Four humans and an Antarian.” T’Sol informed his faceless soldier.
“We’ll take care of them.”
T’Sol closed his communicator and looked down at the sensor array.
“Time for step two,” he told himself.
Ryouga looked at his console which began to flash at him.
“They’re changing course.”
“Stay with them,” Ranma ordered.
“We’re locked onto them. Anywhere they go, we go,” Ryouga smugly replied.
Ranma grumbled at Ryouga’s attitude. As soon as all was well, he was going to have to take Ryouga down to the holodeck and kick his ass a few times.
For now, though he was content on him just not getting them lost.
“What’s our heading now?” Ranma asked operations.
“2 – 2 – 7 mark 0.” Kaii stated with confusion in his voice. “They aren’t heading towards anything.”
“I see,” Ranma responded. He really didn’t but at least they weren’t headed towards Earth anymore.
“Inform Starfleet,” Minako piped up. She turned to Ranma. “They will probably want to reposition the sixth fleet.”
Akane looked over to Ranma. “Sixth fleet?”
Ranma took in a deep breath. “In case we fail.”
Akane’s eyes started to moisten. Ranma reached over and grabbed her hand. He held it tenderly, caressing it softly.
“We WON’T fail.”
For some reason, and Ryouga didn’t know why, but his battle aura started to glow. He decided to keep his attention on the road ahead, instead of turning around to see what got his sixth sense tingling.
Rei and her group materialized in between two containers stored in the cargo bay. The group all raised their weapons and looked around. Rei hit some buttons on her eyepiece and a display appeared in her eye showing her the immediate area.
“It’s clear,” she whispered.
Shelton was the first to nod and start to move the team towards the aft of the ship. Their destination was the engine room.
Lt. Parker pulled out his larger tricorder and began to scan the room. He grumbled when he saw what the readout was telling him.
“Commander, this place has been laced with transport inhibitors. Probably an anti-theft system. We won’t be able to beam out unless we get them shut down.”
Rei nodded. “Can we do that from the engine room?”
“Probably not. We’ll most likely have to find a junction box or an EPS conduit.”
“Well one thing at a time,” Rei sighed.
The five slowly crept through the ship, crouching low and barely making a sound. Every few meters they would reach an open area of the bay and would have to stop, check for hostiles, and move on.
Rei silently hoped they would not have to get into a firefight here. Even though the containers that contained the explosives were extraordinarily strong, she didn’t want to think of what would happen if one were to be breached.
Rei stopped her thinking and came to a halt. She put up her arm, ordering the remainder of her group to stop.
She watched the two little yellow dots in her visor blink and move in their direction. Shelton and Parker also lowered their visors and homed in on the incoming targets.
Kio’s team was not anywhere near as lucky as Rei’s team was. Not more than thirty seconds after they beamed in, they were engaged in a firefight against three people who appeared to be Vulcans.
A quick scan of their now dead bodies confirmed that they were indeed Vulcans.
“Why would Vulcans hijack a transport ship?” The medic, Ensign Yayo pondered.
“Doesn’t seem logical to me,” the explosives expert, Colonel Xiang quipped.
The team shared a quiet laugh while Kio determined their search pattern.
“We should probably head to the bridge and start there. There seems to be sensor dampening in here, so it looks like our tricorders are going to be limited to about ten meters,” Kio explained.
The group nodded and took up positions. They slowly and cautiously proceeded up the side of the ship until they reached the bulkhead separating the bridge from the cargo area of the ship.
Kio quickly scanned.
“Two,” She quietly stated. She moved to try and open the door when she noticed something.
“Does anyone else smell something burning?”
The rest of the group all nodded and acknowledged that they two smelt the burning smell.
Kio feared she knew what it was. She had encountered a similar situation elsewhere.
She quickly hit the door release button.
It buzzed at her.
“Shit,” she growled. “I think they’ve welded it shut.”
Kio looked to Schaefer.
“Is there another way in?”
Schaefer looked at his tricorder with the Nerima’s schematics on it.
“Yeah, but it would require us going outside.”
“Damn it,” Kio replied.
A plasma blast impacted the wall above their heads. The group all takes their positions and prepared to return fire.
Alpha Team arrived at the engine room in just minutes, encountering little resistance. This concerned Rei. It meant that all the resistance was in the front of the ship.
Right where she had sent Bravo Team.
Shelton quickly managed to release the seal to the engine room. Once inside, Rei, Parker, and the explosives tech that they had brought with them, Sergeant Mitch Anderson, took positions to guard Shelton’s work.
“Don’t damage them too badly,” Rei reminded Shelton. “I am sure Starfleet isn’t going to want to have to tow this thing back to Earth.”
“I’m just going to fuse some coils to get us stopped, disconnect the link with the bridge to keep us stopped, and of course get rid of the dilithium.”
“Good,” Rei remarked.
T’Sol wished he knew what the hell was going on back there.
The same thing that kept the Sisko from simply beaming them all off the Nerima was the same thing that kept him from being able to use internal sensors. He was able to do a short scan and see that there were five people right outside of the bridge, but as of yet, none of them had made an attempt to get on the bridge.
Occasionally he heard a thump on the wall, possibly a shot hitting the wall, or better yet a human slumping against it.
T’Sol was busy pondering what could be going on out there when he noticed a red indicator on his terminal.
Warp engine control had been severed.
“Uh oh,” he mumbled.
The second Vulcan on the bridge walked over to him.
T’Sol pointed to the indicator. “I think we’re about to stop.”
Before the second Vulcan could reply, T’Sol’s premonition came to fruition. The stars outside of the main window dropped from their streaks to simply holding still.
T’Sol attempted to restart the warp engines to little avail. The computer simply grunted at him with each nonexecutable command.
T’Sol found little solace in the fact that the navigational thrusters were still functional. Until Vor’Gal could get here and help him, they were mostly motionless.
“Call Vor’Gal,” T’Sol demanded as he tried to regain his course using navigational thrusters. “Tell him to hurry.”
The Captain of the Jacksonville ordered them to drop out of warp as soon as they saw the Nerima lose speed.
“They are trying to continue on their course using navigational thrusters.” The operations officer stated.
The Captain could not help but chuckle. “It’ll take them years to get anywhere at that speed.”
Nonetheless, he couldn’t make it easy for them to get going again.
“Use the tractor beam,” he ordered. “Keep them aligned away from their destination. If they get warp back, I don’t want them just shooting off.”
The helmsman and operations officers acknowledged the order and began to push the Nerima around.
Shelton smiled at his success. He closed and sealed the door to the engine room. “They won’t be going anywhere for a while.”
The ship shook violently, and they all fell to the ground.
“What the hell was that?” Rei asked.
No one knew.
Parker pulled himself up and started to look at his ship schematics.
“The inhibitors must be isolated somewhere in the cargo bay,” He stated.
Shelton had failed to find anything that would control them in the engine room, and Kio had reported in that the door to the bridge had been welded shut. That left only one option.
Parker found a Jefferies tube in section seven of the cargo bay. Even if there wasn’t a control box in there, he would at least be able to reroute the power flow, disabling the inhibitors in that section at the least.
Rei nodded and began to lead her team down the artificial corridor that was formed between stacks of cargo containers.
The ship shook violently again and once again the entire team fell to the ground.
Unfortunately for one member, they were not the only thing that fell.
A stack of smaller metal containers that were next to them tumbled over.
Most of them fell and impacted the deck harmlessly, albeit loudly. Two, however, fell and landed on Lt. Parker.
Parker groaned loudly as he felt pain rush up from his ankle. Shelton and Rei rushed over quickly to Parker’s aid. The combat medic assigned to them, Ensign Gabe Masters, also rushed over. He began to run scans on Parker’s foot.
“It’s broken,” he reported.
Shots suddenly rang out as two Vulcans who had heard the commotion came rushing over to them. Rei and Masters quickly started to drag Parker behind some of the containers that were still standing, as Shelton and Anderson took up fighting stances and returned fire.
“Can you fuse it?” Rei asked Masters.
“There are several breaks and about a dozen micro-fractures,” Masters replied. “I can splint it and give him some painkillers.”
“That’ll be fine,” Parker groaned.
Rei looked down at him. “Are you going to be okay to continue?”
“Well, I’m certainly not going to just lie here and wait for something else to fall on me, Commander,” Parker jibed in response.
“Fair enough then,” she turned to the medic. “Patch him up the best you can.”
The medic nodded as Rei hurried off to help her partners fight off the bad guys. Parker looked up to the medic as he went to work on his ankle.
“What have you got, doc?”
The medic quickly went to his medkit and pulled out a hypo. He then selected a cartridge and inserted it into the device.
“Nothing interesting. Just some good old-fashioned morphine.”
Masters injected it into Parker’s neck. Within just a few moments Parker began to grin.
“If anyone ever bashes old-fashioned medicine again, I’m going to slap them.”
Both Parker and the medic shared a laugh as Masters went back to work on Parker’s injured foot.
Ranma watched the Nerima float adrift in front of him. Whoever was piloting the ship was trying to get it to move using its maneuvering thrusters, but the Jacksonville and her tractor beam was having none of that.
While the Nerima was much bigger than the little Intrepid class vessel, her slow and cumbersome maneuvers were easily countered by the nimble Jacksonville. If the Nerima were to bank left, the Jacksonville would quickly zip to the right side and fire the tractor beam, holding it in place till the thruster stop firing.
It was like watching a kitten toy with a much larger, but slower tomcat.
The analogy made Ranma’s skin crawl. He was already on the edge of his seat waiting for the NSO teams to deactivate the transport inhibitors. Once that was done, he could just lock on to everyone on the ship and beam them over.
Sort out the good guys from the bad guys once they were on board.
Right now, though he was stuck simply watching and waiting.
It had been almost twenty minutes from the time the teams had beamed over. While Alpha team had gotten to the engine room and disengaged the engines, Bravo team still had not located Nabiki and Kasumi.
He hoped that there were simply sensor dampeners in place, rather than there being no life signs for them to find.
Akane hadn’t said anything for a while either. She watched the viewer intently mostly, occasionally glancing over to Ranma.
Ranma always caught on to this and flashed a reassuring smile at her. Akane did not really know how sincere the smile was; his charm always being able to hide any other emotions he might be feeling. But in a way she didn’t really care. She had faith in Ranma keeping his promise.
She had no choice.
Makoto was also getting ancy at her station. She wanted to get over there. She had some of the most talented security officers in Starfleet. It seemed like they were going to waste simply camping out in the transporter rooms waiting.
That wasn’t the only reason though. She wouldn’t admit it out loud, but she really wanted to shoot some bad guys. She was a warrior, and warriors don’t like to be kept idle.
Minako wrung her hands and continued to watch her sensor display. Outside of the three ships, it was empty. They were in the middle of nowhere - literally. It was at least a dozen light-years in each direction to the nearest system.
Of course, that was a good thing. They wouldn’t want a civilian ship coming into the middle of this battle. Especially if the cloaked ship showed back up.
“Oh shit,” Minako thought out loud.
The entire bridge crew looked at her. Minako blushed slightly and turned to Ranma.
“The cloaked ship. We have no clue where it is.”
Ranma shook his head.
“How could I forget about them?” He grumbled.
Ranma stood and turned to Makoto.
“Prepare to deploy the tachyon mines.”
Makoto nodded. “Aye.”
Within seconds, Makoto acknowledged that the mines were loaded in the torpedo launchers.
“Deploy them in a 2,000-kilometer radius around us,” Ranma ordered.
Makoto complied. Outside of the Sisko all four bays lit up a bright purple. What appeared to be torpedoes exploded out of the bays. But unlike torpedoes, they did not fly on a straight course to their target. Each mine was programmed with its destination. They all took off in separate directions at a high rate of speed.
Once they reached their place in the circular fence around the ships, the purplish glow faded out. They were now almost camouflaged with the dark sky.
The operations terminal chirped and the young Bajoran reported to his captain.
“The mines are in place and armed.”
Ranma nodded. “Commander set the phasers on auto-lock. If they get a blip, I want them locked and firing before they have a chance to move.”
“Yes sir,” Makoto replied as she entered the commands into the weapons computer.
Ranma turned back to the view screen to continue watching the Jacksonville toy with the Nerima.
Rei was getting frustrated with falling. She wasn’t sure what was going on outside, but something was knocking the ship around.
And it was pissing her off.
She would hear what sounded like a thruster firing and then WHAM! The ship would lurch one direction or the other and the entire team would fall.
Parker was tired of it too. His foot was starting to really bother him again, making it hard enough to walk as it was.
Most of Alpha team hit the deck. Shelton managed to just be thrown into a cargo container.
The container stacked on that one sounded like it shifted a bit. This did not go unnoticed.
“Shouldn’t these things be more securely latched down?” Shelton asked.
Rei pulled herself back to her feet. “If they fall over, they aren’t going to blow. And people aren’t supposed to be back here.”
“That will be little comfort to my mother if one of these God-damned things squishes me,” Shelton grumbled in response.
Sergeant Anderson stopped and looked at an access panel. He quickly checked his tricorder and confirmed what he thought. He spun around to face Rei.
“Commander, the conduit under here controls this section’s inhibitors. We can disengage them, but we will have to get everyone to this section to beam out.” He informed her.
Rei nodded. “Get to it then.”
“Yes ma’am,” he answered. He motioned for Parker. “Sir, can you help me?”
Parker nodded and turned to Ensign Masters. “If you hear me scream, get that morphine in there stat!” Parker had a grin as he pointed towards his damaged leg.
Masters chuckled. “Yes sir.”
The group all fell. The top container shifted again and was hanging off its base by a good half meter. Shelton eyed it as he climbed to his feet.
“That’s the first thing we beam out of here,” he stated.
Rei wasn’t going to disagree with him.
Kio was getting quite upset. A firefight is not the best time for people to be knocked on their asses. Her only solace laid in the fact that the people shooting at them were also being knocked around.
Simpson looked up at the platform where one such person had been just a moment ago. He allowed his eye to focus in on his eyepiece and found where there was once a strong life sign, there was now a weak one eleven meters below it.
“Well, one down,” he mused.
Kio grinned as she ducked back behind a console. They had made their way to the bridge only to find that the access to it had been welded shut.
To make matters even worse, they still hadn’t located the hostages. The transport inhibitors were acting as makeshift sensor dampeners, lowering the range of their equipment to just a few meters.
One of the Vulcan’s fired at them again from a different position from where he was before. The shot managed to hit Schaefer in the arm.
“Shit!” He yelled as he dropped his weapon.
Kio fired several shots in the direction of the Vulcan forcing him to duck behind a container. She backed up slightly, trying to do a better job of shielding Anthony and Ensign Yayo who was tending to his wound.
“You okay, Tony?” Simpson asked.
Schaefer nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”
Yayo disagreed though.
“He’s got a serious fourth-degree plasma burn on his arm. Some of his bicep muscle has been damaged.”
“Move him back and behind that container,” Kio ordered.
Anthony shook his head as a couple more shots from a different Vulcan hit the wall behind them.
“I’m okay. I can still shoot.”
Kio fired at the Vulcan forcing him into hiding. She never turned to Schaefer.
“God damn it Sergeant, do I what I said.”
Anthony looked at Kio coolly but did what she ordered. He quickly moved back behind the container with the Antarian medic right behind him.
A third Vulcan popped up from his hiding place and fired at the group. Simpson returned fire on him, striking him in the head. The Vulcan tumbled over backward.
Simpson did not have to check his tricorder to know what happened to him. They were not operating with their phase rifles set to stun.
One of the remaining two Vulcans fired on the group. Kio had to shift her position a bit to avoid being hit. She quickly returned fire but missed.
“This is getting us nowhere,” Kio commented. Both Simpson and the young corporal nodded in agreement.
“Will a phase grenade damage the containers?” Kio asked, turning to Corporal Xiang.
“No ma’am.” He replied.
Kio grinned. “Cover me,” she ordered.
Both men nodded and raised their weapons. As soon as one of the Vulcans appeared they opened fire at him. Kio stood to a crouch and flung her stun grenade at the Vulcan’s position. She then took off running in the same direction.
The grenade exploded as soon as it hit the deck. A scream came from behind two of the containers. Kio headed quickly in the direction. She reached the corner and peeked around. On the ground was one of the Vulcans.
Across the way was squatted the second one. As far as she could tell that Vulcan hadn’t seen her yet. Her suspicions were confirmed as the Vulcan stood, and fired in the direction of her teammates. He then ducked back down.
Kio slowly went to her knees and activated the scope on her rifle. As soon as the Vulcan redirected his attention to where he thought she was, she would attack.
Kio lowered herself to the ground as low as she could get. Most of her body should be obscured by the stunned Vulcan a mere two meters in front of her.
She slinked around the corner and took aim.
The Vulcan stood and prepared to fire.
Kio got his head in the sights.
The ship shook violently as Kio fired. Her shot missed badly not only because of the gun being shaken, but because the Vulcan was also thrown to the ground.
He did notice the shot hit the container above him.
Kio quickly tried to take aim again.
The Vulcan fired.
Time seemed to slow as the two bursts of energy passed each other on the way to their targets. Kio’s the trademark red of Starfleet weaponry. The Vulcan’s, a green blob of plasma energy.
The discharge from Kio’s weapon struck the Vulcan. He did not even have time to scream as the energy from the blast shot through his body frying every nerve, every synapse in his brain, freezing his heart and lungs.
The force of the shot knocked his lifeless body back four meters and he hit the ground with a thump.
Kio’s eyes went wide as the plasma blast impacted her dead center on her chest.
She was able to scream as the heat and pain from the impact slammed her into the cold steel behind her. Her head snapped back and hit the wall with tremendous force.
Kio slowly slumped to the ground, unconscious.
“Chief!” Simpson screamed over the communications system.
After a couple of seconds with no reply, Simpson stood, took aim, and began to sidestep in the direction that Kio went. Colonel Xiang took up a stance too.
“Ensign!” Simpson called.
The team’s medic came out from where she was treating Schaefer. She looked back down at him.
“Yes ma’am,” Schaefer replied reluctantly.
The three slowly made their way over to Kio. Both Simpson and Xiang took up protective stances as Yayo ran some scans. She also pulled on Kio’s shirt and put her hand down, feeling her chest.
Saying she looked relieved when she pulled her hand back out and the only thing on it was sweat would be an understatement.
Yayo checked her tricorder again and scanned Kio’s head. She then turned to report to Simpson.
“It appears that her protective vest absorbed the shot. The force of it though knocked her against the wall where she struck her head, and that’s what knocked her out.”
Simpson sighed in relief.
“Will she be okay?”
Yayo gave her tricorder one more once over and nodded.
“Yes. She doesn’t appear to have a concussion.”
Simpson nodded. “Let’s get her back over to where Tony is.”
Xiang kept his weapon raised as Simpson and Yayo began to carefully drag Kio back to their position. Once there, Yayo pulled a hypo from her kit. She injected it and Kio began to regain conciseness.
Kio slowly put her hand to the back of her head and groaned.
“Ahhh,” she murmured in pain.
Yayo placed a new cartridge into her hypo and injected it into Kio. The pain killer seemed to have its desired effect, quickly. The look of discomfort on Kio’s face softened.
Mike moved over next to her.
“How you feelin’, chief?”
Kio groaned. “I’m fine.” She slowly moved to her feet but stumbled a bit and fell to her knees. “I just need a second. We need to find the hostages.”
Mike looked at her with concern.
“You sure you’re okay to continue?”
“Okay,” Mike said with little certainty in his voice. He then walked off and retook his position.
“So,” Schaefer said. “I get a scratch on the arm and I’m out, but you get winged in the head and you can still play, eh?” He chuckled.
Kio didn’t chuckle back. Instead, she just turned to him with a stern look on her face.
Anthony did not understand the look. It is not one he had ever gotten from her before. They had been working together for years, yet something was different this time.
His snide remarks and well-timed one-liners usually cheered her up and made her think better. But not this time. Right now, it looked like she was going to hit him.
Something was quite different.
Anthony looked to the deck.
“I’m sorry chief.”
Kio wiped a tear out of her eye and exhaled deeply.
She was very informal with him. Hearing him call her chief, especially in the tone he used cut right into her.
“No, Tony. I’m sorry,” Kio said softly.
Schaefer looked up at her as she continued to talk.
“Commander Hino told me I have to be a leader. And part of that is not letting my troops get hurt – any more than they already have.”
Anthony started to say something, but nothing came out.
“I’m supposed to be a leader, yet here I am with us stuck against this damned wall. I allowed you to get shot and stupidly allowed myself to get shot as well.”
Kio leaned up against the wall and kicked the container in front of them.
“How the hell am I supposed to keep you guys alive when I can’t even keep myself safe?”
“Chief…” Anthony started.
Kio didn’t turn to him. Anthony was not one to be ignored though. He grabbed her arm and tugged till she turned to him.
“Kio, you are a leader. You are our leader and a damned good one at that. And you know this.” Anthony paused. “Nick felt the same way I do.”
“I KILLED HIM,” Kio yelled. Anthony was slightly taken aback by her raised voice but continued on.
“The Jem’Hadar killed him. No one knew about that ambush. Not you, not them, not command. No one.”
Anthony scooted a bit closer to Kio and looked dead into her eyes.
“If we all die on this mission, will you blame the Captain for sending us over here? Or Commander Hino? Or whatever Admiral ordered this mission?”
“Of course not,” Kio scoffed.
“Of course not,” Anthony repeated. “This is our job. This is what we do. We protect the Federation, and if we must give up our lives doing it, then so be it.
“I have no intention of dying today. But if I do, my spirit will hold no ill will towards you for it. Because I know that you did what leaders do. You led us, into this mission the best you could, and you made the decisions that you felt were best for us.
“You know how I am. I am not going to follow some idiot around without second-guessing them. I have never second-guessed a decision you have made. And I know I never will. I came to the Sisko with you because I trust you to make the right decisions for me – for us.”
Kio took in a couple of deep breaths and closed her eyes. A few moments later she opened them and nodded.
Kio quickly stood and helped Anthony to his feet. She looked at his bandaged arm.
“Can you still shoot?”
Anthony grinned and flashed the victory sign. “Try and stop me.”
The Ek’Skil slowed to impulse about 15,000 kilometers from the Nerima. Vor’Gal looked at the viewscreen with interest.
There were only three ships there.
The Nerima of course, a small Intrepid-class ship, and what appeared to be an Akira-class ship.
“That’s it?” one of the bridge officers said, summarizing what Vor’Gal was thinking.
“It would appear that the two previous engagements didn’t teach them anything,” Vor’Gal grinned. “Just like the humans to be so arrogant.”
Some of the Vulcans on the bridge laughed in agreement. The officer operating the communications terminal piped up.
“T’Sol for you, sir.”
Vor’Gal nodded. “On screen.”
T’Sol’s face appeared on the screen. He had a slight cut on his forehead.
“What happened to you?” Vor’Gal asked.
“This?” T’Sol pointed to his cut. “It’s nothing. The inertial dampener on this blasted rust bucket is useless.”
Vor’Gal nodded in understanding.
“I need some engineers and more security. We have been boarded and they managed to disable the engines. I’ve sealed the bridge and if I beam out to the engine room, I won’t be able to get back in.”
“Right,” Vor’Gal replied. He looked down at his helmsman. “Get us within transporter range. Have a couple of engineers meet a squad of officers in the transporter room.”
The helmsman complied and the ship began to move towards the Nerima.
“Everything else okay?”
“I have no idea, old friend,” T’Sol honestly replied. “To keep them from being able to beam out I’d had to sacrifice internal sensors.” T’Sol chucks his thumb at the door behind him.
“Past that door, I have no idea what’s going on.”
“Understood,” Vor’Gal stated. “We’ll be within transporter range in a few moments. I’ll beam them directly to the engine room. Once you are mobile again, head directly there.”
“You don’t think they’ll be able to intercept?”
Vor’Gal grinned. “They’re bringing you a present as well.”
T’Sol grinned this time. “What’s that?”
T’Sol nodded. “See you later then?”
The channel closed and the image of the Nerima growing closer reappeared. Vor’Gal returned to his seat.
“Thirty seconds to range.” Someone on the bridge informed anyone who wanted to know.
Vor’Gal tapped his fingers as he waited. He eyed the Sisko curiously. Surely, they didn’t think that one Akira class cruiser could fare any better against them than their flagship, a Sovereign-class did.
Something about that bugged him. He needed to make sure.
“Can you run a passive scan without being detected?”
The operations officer looked at his panel. “Yes sir.”
The officer complied and some of the details about the Sisko appeared on Vor’Gal’s screen.
He looked at them intently for a couple of seconds. His time in the Romulan military had gotten him familiar with every type of ship in the Federation. From just the base stats that the scan had gotten them, he saw this was no ordinary Akira-class.
She appeared to be covered in Ablative Armor. Only Defiant-class ships are supposed to have it covering their entire hull. She had four torpedo launchers – one more than she was supposed to.
And then there was her transponder.
An experimental class.
She was indeed no normal Akira class ship.
Vor’Gal was jarred out of his thought process by a blinding explosion on the viewer.
The tactical officer and operations officer both began to scream.
“TACHYON EXPLOSION!” Ops yelled.
“THEY’VE LOCKED WEAPONS!” tactical yelled.
*No. Not an ordinary ship at all,* he pondered as the Sisko’s phasers began to hit his ship.
“Drop cloak, shields to full, return fire, and continue towards T’Sol’s ship,” Vor’Gal ordered.
Ordinary or not, he was planning on blowing them out of the sky.
“Tachyon discharge, 0-9-2 mark 2-3,” Kaii stated as his terminal began to chirp at him.
Ranma stood and turned to him as Makoto began to speak.
“We have a lock. Phasers firing.” She stated.
Ranma turned to Makoto. Kaii began to speak again.
Ranma turned back to the viewer. “On screen.”
Kaii put the ship on the viewer as it finished the decloaking process. The ship was huge, taking up a big chunk of the view screen. The Sisko’s phasers continued to strike the ship.
“Incoming,” Makoto stated as a volley of torpedoes came from the Ek’Skil.
The torpedoes impacted the Sisko, causing her to shake violently.
“Shields holding, 89 percent,” Kaii stated.
“Defensive pattern Omega Six,” Ranma ordered, returning to his seat. “Load EMP torpedoes and fire when ready. Order the Jacksonville to a safe distance.”
Another volley of torpedoes rocked the Sisko. Her new, improved shields were holding – using some of the energy discharged from the incoming torpedoes to recharge themselves.
Makoto quickly got the EMP torpedoes loaded and fired them as Ryouga began to move the ship.
The Sisko, once sitting at a stop, quickly started making irregular orbits around the Ek’Skil to keep phasers from hitting her – and torpedoes to miss.
The bright blue EMP torpedoes impacted the Ek’Skil, causing the same bright glow to fizzle effect they had done on the Nerima.
However, the Romulan shields were not as weak as the cargo ships were and managed to hold at 90 percent.
“EMP torpedoes?” Vor’Gal mused. “The Romulan Senate will not be happy when they find out the Federation has been hiding technology from them.”
Vor’Gal noticed the Jacksonville moving away from the scene as the Sisko continued to zap her shields with her phasers.
“Target that ship.” Vor’Gal pointed.
The tactical officer complied.
“They’re targeting the Jacksonville,” Kaii stated.
Minako stood. “Put us between them.”
Ryouga took over manual control of the ship and jerked it towards the Jacksonville.
Ranma, along with everyone else, nearly fell over. Ranma decided to ignore this and quickly stood. He turned to Kaii.
“Get them out of here NOW,” he growled.
A volley of torpedoes shot from the Ek’Skil. This volley though wasn’t headed towards the Sisko.
The Sisko swooped down in the Ek’Skil’s path, the torpedoes missing her by meters. They approached the Jacksonville with great speed.
And suddenly the Jacksonville was gone.
The torpedoes continued their path. Their target having basically disappeared, they had nowhere to go.
The torpedoes continued, eventually detonating on their own, damaging nothing.
“They’ve warped out,” Kaii notified Ranma.
Ranma nodded as his current first officer got into her role.
“Lieutenant, Offensive pattern Gamma Nine. Commander, full spread of quantum torpedoes.”
Both officers followed their orders. Ranma took note of how Minako stepped up and executed a command. Just like a first officer should do.
“Captain, the ship is heading towards the Nerima, but they haven’t targeted her.”
Ranma heard the sigh of relief come from Akane but forced himself to not get distracted.
“Come on Rei,” Minako said under her breath.
“We’re in range,” An Ek’Skil officer informed Vor’Gal.
“Send them over, and then destroy that damned ship.”
“They’ve transported ten more people over,” Kaii informed Ranma as the ship got rocked by another volley of torpedoes.
“Inform Commander Hino,” Ranma ordered. “What’s our status?”
The second operations officer chimed in. “Shields at 54 percent.”
“And them?” Minako asked.
“Shields holding at 54 percent.”
“Commander,” Ranma said towards Makoto.
Makoto, who was switching from one panel to the next nodded.
“I’m on it, sir.”
The Ek’Skil came about and fired all its phasers at the Sisko. The smaller ship darted around the Ek’Skil, causing some of the shots to miss. The Sisko swung around in a fluid motion, a motion that only the preprogrammed computer could execute, and came up underneath the Ek’Skil.
As she cruised under the Romulan ship’s belly all dorsal phaser banks fired, each one targeting her ventral shield emitters. The Sisko then nosed up, almost tauntingly zipping past the front of the ship.
Her aft torpedo bay lit up, sending five quantum torpedoes slamming into the Ek’Skil’s forward shields.
The Ek’Skil tried to keep her phasers on target but was having a hard time. Most of her torpedoes were hitting but were not causing the damage that Vor’Gal expected.
The Ek’Skil was also having problems keeping up with the Sisko. Size does have its advantages, but it was a tremendous hindrance in dogfighting. The Ek’Skil couldn’t turn or adjust her pitch and yaw fast enough to keep the Sisko in front of them.
It would be wrong to say the Sisko was not taking damage. The explosive power of the torpedoes was making its way through the shields, but not to the extent if her shields were down.
One set of emitters had overloaded, forcing the Sisko to revert to her standard shielding on one of the most sensitive areas of the ship.
“Keep them below us,” Ranma ordered Ryouga.
Ryouga tried to comply but maneuvering in tight spaces was not his strong point. As the Sisko streaked underneath the Ek’Skil he wasn’t able to roll the ship properly, causing it to veer off her programmed course.
A dozen or so torpedoes hit the Sisko, several striking the top of the ship.
“We’re losing shields,” Kaii stated. “Thirteen percent!”
“What about them?” Ranma asked.
Kaii shook his head. “23 percent.”
“Damn it,” Ranma cursed. Minako turned to Makoto.
“Target quantum torpedoes to hit their emitters.”
It took Makoto a few moments to program the weapons. Once she was complete, she stated as much.
“FIRE!” Ranma yelled as another volley of torpedoes hit them.
Makoto hit a button and every launcher on the Sisko jettisoned a torpedo. Twenty silver streaks shot off in different directions at first but then altered their course.
“What are they shooting at?” Vor’Gal pondered when he saw the torpedoes spread out, some heading away from him.
It suddenly came to him though when they began to shift direction. The torpedoes began to pair up. Ten sets of bright silver streaks heading right towards him.
Right towards the Ek’Skil’s ten shield emitters.
Each pair of torpedoes impacted perfectly. The Ek’Skil’s shields glowed brightly, and then faded out.
Ranma narrowed his gaze at the larger ship on his viewer.
“Their shields are down,” Kaii stated happily.
Ranma never turned or adjusted his gaze at all.
Minako had never heard such anger in Ranma’s voice before. This wasn’t just an enemy ship that they were fighting. For some reason, this seemed personal.
Minako looked the Captain over. The look on his face reinforced her theory. The cold gaze in his eyes. Not an ounce of sorrow or compassion for the people about to die on that ship.
This was the fourth battle that they had been in together and though she was never looking at him from this angle, she was sure that he had never reacted this way before.
Her eyes slightly shifted to Akane.
Maybe she did understand now. Akane had the same cold gaze in her eyes. The same feeling of contempt for their faceless enemy. The same hatred.
The thought of these two normally compassionate people with such hate in their hearts sent a chill down her spine. While now was not the time, nor the place, she would have to find out what caused their hearts to become stone.
The Sisko began to rip into the Ek’Skil with every piece of weaponry they had on board. The phasers pounded the engines and weapon banks. Torpedoes slammed into her, tearing her hull to shreds.
Panels and walls on the bridge of the Ek’Skil began to explode, shooting fire and sparks onto crewmen. The only lighting now came from the fire burning where the helm station used to be.
With the view screen out, Vor’Gal could not see the Sisko anymore. He couldn’t see the torpedoes and phasers pounding his once-proud ship; the devices that would soon be the cause of his death.
He did not fear death. Fear was one of the emotions he had chosen to repress. He did allow his sense of humor to roam free though.
It is good that he did too. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have found the irony in his current situation.
He had always seen humans as smug, egotistical beings with an overinflated sense of superiority. As it turns out, his own sense of superiority caused him to not take the Sisko as a serious threat. The result?
He would have to ponder that in the afterlife. As an enormous fireball engulfed the bridge it was plainly clear. Right now, he was out of time.
“Roger that. Hino out,” Rei ended the communication with Lt. Kaii aboard the Sisko. She turned to Simpson.
“The hijacker’s accomplices have just transported ten more people on board.”
“Great,” Shelton dryly stated. “Do we go get them?”
Rei checked her tricorder. “No. There isn’t time. If they come to us, we’ll take care of them. But right now, we need to get this inhibitor down.”
Shelton nodded as he scanned the room visually. He looked to the cargo container that was pushed a good two meters off the side of the one holding it. Luckily, whatever was shaking the ship seemed to have stopped, so for now, it appeared to be secure.
He still planned to transport it out into space as soon as he could.
Rei started to speak into her headset.
“Hino to Yuki.”
“Go ahead,” Kio responded.
“Any luck yet?”
Kio groaned. “No ma’am. We have got about eighty percent of the ship searched. We do think we’ve eliminated all the resistance though.”
“Ten more have beamed aboard. Watch for them. Once you have found the hostages, head for section seven. We think that’s the only area where we’ll be able to beam out of.”
“Aye,” Kio replied.
“Have you ruled out the bridge?” Rei asked.
“We can’t. We are unable to get a good scan because of the inhibitors. We think there are two life forms in there, but we can’t get a good enough read to see if they are human or not.”
Kio could hear Rei sigh. “Finish your search and meet us back here. We’ll figure out what we’ll do from there.”
“Aye, Commander,” Kio replied.
Rei closed the channel with a “Hino out”. Kio grumbled softly to herself. She knew it would take the better part of a half-hour to cut her way into the bridge. There were no turbolifts on this shift and there didn’t seem to be any other access points except for the main door.
Kio continued to scan as Bravo team slowly walked around the cargo containers. They only ran into one other Vulcan, who was quickly taken down.
After about ten more minutes of searching, they reached where they started. They had found nothing. No hostages anywhere.
“They’ve got to be on the bridge,” Kio grumbled.
“I don’t know,” Simpson replied. “We can assume one is the pilot. The other is moving around and I don’t think they’d allow either of the hostages that kind of freedom.”
Kio had to agree with that logic.
So where could the hostages be?
“Hino to Bravo Team. Start moving back this way. We’ve nearly got the inhibitors down and we will only have a short window to get out of here.”
“Aye,” They all responded.
The group cautiously began to head towards Section Seven. Kio softly cursed at herself the whole way.
“There’s got to be something we’re missing,” she mumbled.
“Chief, we’ve searched this whole ship,” Simpson reminded her.
“I know, I know,” Kio replied, looking around, “but they didn’t just disappear.”
After a short walk, the five came around a corner to where Rei and her group were standing. Rei was sticking her head into the junction tube where Parker and Anderson were.
“How much longer?” She asked.
“Any second now,” Parker’s voice replied.
Within a few seconds, Rei’s tricorder began to chirp. She opened it and scanned the readings.
“It’s down. Looks like we knocked down the entire cargo bay.” She noted.
Parker slides out of the hole, quickly followed by Anderson.
As the enlisted crewmen help the pair out of their workspace, Shelton looks back up to the cargo container that has been giving him chills.
“Time to go.” He told it.
Shelton pulled out a small silver box from one of his cargo pockets. He then chucked it up against the container. The magnetic constraints on the device locked onto the container and it became stuck.
Shelton looked at his tricorder. He hits some buttons and the device – his personal transporter – begins to glow.
The cargo container dematerializes as it is beamed out into space.
Kio watches the large metal box disappear.
Then it hits her.
“Of course!” She exclaims to herself.
“What?” Rei asks.
Kio begins to run off. “The containers. I’ll be right back.”
Rei starts to take off after her. “CHIEF YUKI! GET BACK HERE!”
Kio ignores Rei as she runs around a corner.
“Damn it,” Rei swears. She runs a quick scan with her tricorder.
“I’m able to get a better scan now. It appears that all the hostiles are still back in engineering.”
“Trying to get the engines working again?” Shelton asks.
“Probably,” Rei says, starting to walk off.
“Where are you going?” Shelton calls after her.
“I’m going to go fetch my Chief Warrant Officer,” Rei grumbled in reply.
“Shelton to Sisko.”
The two Vulcan engineers were busy working on the Nerima’s engines. The humans had managed to sabotage them bad, but they left them intact.
It’s just like the humans to only do something half-assed so they wouldn’t have more work to do later.
One of the Vulcans, an older man, was repairing the damage done. The second, a young woman, was occupied installing a devise into the plasma injectors.
The remaining eight were standing guard, ready to blast the first round-eared person who walked into their sights.
The young woman was the first to finish. She wiped her brow and slid out of the small confines she was forced to work in. She went to a panel and powered up the device she just installed. A sly grin crept across her face as the device turned on and lights on it began to pulsate.
The older man stopped his work for a moment to look at her.
“Yup,” she smiled.
“Well done,” He stated, turning back to his work. “If you want to get the coils retuned, we should be done shortly.”
The young woman smiled at her elder and get to work on the task at hand.
After about ten minutes had passed the elder engineer closed the dilithium chamber and sealed it. He turned to his younger counterpart to see how she was doing.
She hit some more buttons on the engineering terminal, and it chirped. She turned to the man and grinned.
“Ready to roll.”
The man nodded and pulled out his communicator.
“Barak to T’Sol.”
T’Sol and his companion on the bridge could only watch in horror as the Ek’Skil was pounded by the Sisko. T’Sol lowered his head as the final volley of quantum torpedoes collided with her.
He said a quick Vulcan prayer of safe passage for his friend as the Ek’Skil is engulfed by a massive explosion.
He looked up and watched what was left of the ship spark for a moment. The sparks soon fizzled out to nothing. T’Sol inhaled deeply and turned to his assistant.
“We still have a mission to do.”
The second Vulcan simply nodded.
“Barak to T’Sol,” his communicator chirped.
T’Sol picked it up and answered.
“The engines are online again. The enhancement is also installed. You should easily get warp 8.8, but no farther than the target, otherwise the ship will lose all structural integrity and fly apart.”
“Understood,” T’Sol replied.
“Do you want us to stay here or return to the Ek’Skil?”
T’Sol lowered his head. “The Ek’Skil has been destroyed.”
Barak did not reply for a moment.
T’Sol closed the channel and began to plot his course.
*Screw the plan. We’re going straight there,* he told himself.
One of the computers on the aft of the bridge chirped. T’Sol’s assistant went to see what the problem was.
“The transport inhibitors in the cargo bay have been disengaged.” He stated. “They’ve transported one of the cargo containers off.”
T’Sol didn’t reply. He simply made a slight adjustment to his course and hit engage.
“The inhibitors are down,” Kaii stated.
“Get us over there,” Ranma ordered.
Ryouga began moving the ship towards the Nerima. About ten kilometers from the ship something materialized. It was a cargo container.
“Why are they transporting those off of there?” Minako queried.
Ranma didn’t know. He really didn’t care either. There was only one thing on his mind.
“Commander,” Ranma turned to Makoto. “Get a security detail to the cargo bay.” He turned to Kaii. “As soon as we are within range transport everyone off that ship.”
Both Kaii and Makoto complied. Makoto turned the security station over to Lt. Jansen and headed down to the cargo bay herself.
In a few seconds, they were within transporter range. Kaii did as he was ordered and transported everyone he could.
“Sir, there were two on the bridge I couldn’t get a lock on. Vulcans. We have ten Vulcans and nine humans in the cargo bay.”
“Nine?” Ranma asked.
“Chief Yuki!” Rei called out.
She ran a quick scan, but she wasn’t showing up in them.
Rei was royally pissed off now. If this girl didn’t want to be in charge of Bravo team anymore that would be no problem. She was going to be lucky if she didn’t end up on janitorial duty.
Rei turned the corner around one of the cargo containers and screeched to a halt.
On the floor were several glass containers holding what she could only assume was the hydroxide sulfate. Rei tip-toed around them and found one of the metal containers had the protective covering that secured the open button sealed open.
Rei hit the button. The airtight seal opened, and Kio was inside, running scans.
“What the hell are you doing?” Rei demanded to know.
“I’m running a scan to determine the shielding level of these containers. If we get the tricorders to compensate for them, we should be able to see if the hostages are sealed inside.” Yuki explained while continuing to run her scans.
“Damn it, Chief,” Rei grumbled. She wanted to continue to be mad at her, but she couldn’t. She was doing what Rei wanted her to do all along. Show some leadership. She had taken it upon herself to figure out the best way to rescue the hostages, even though they were running out of time.
“What have you found?” Rei asked her, in a more relaxed tone.
“I think I will have it here in a second. I just need to be sealed in here to get an accurate scan.”
Kio reached out and pulled the latch shut.
Rei grumbled but waited patiently.
But not for long.
She felt it coming.
“NO!” She screamed as she dematerialized.
After a few seconds, the hatch opened again, and Kio hopped out.
“I’ve got it.”
Kio looked around.
Kio ran a scan.
She was alone.
She hit her communicator.
“Yuki to Sisko.”
There was no response, and she knew why.
She could feel it in the movement of the ship.
They were at warp.
A phase rifle greeted Rei when she materialized in cargo bay two. Rei jumped slightly but was soon grabbed by a Sisko security officer who yanked her behind the other security officers.
All the NSO team members received the same fate.
The ten Vulcans on the other hand.
“DROP YOUR WEAPONS!” One of the guards yelled.
The Vulcans, outnumbered five to one, complied and dropped what weapons they had.
“HANDS UP!” The guard ordered.
The Vulcans complied and were quickly detained by Sisko security personnel.
A medic tried to check on Rei but was simply shoved for his troubles. Rei bolted straight out the cargo bay door and towards the turbolift.
She activated her communicator as she walked.
“Hino to bridge.”
“Go ahead,” Kaii said.
Ranma watched the screen. The ship was turning.
“THEY’RE GOING TO WARP!” The second operations officer yelled.
Minako stood. She turned to Ranma. “We need to…”
Ranma turned to security. “Were the hostages in the nine?”
The ship cumbersomely and slowly aligned itself.
“Captain!” Minako exclaimed again.
“No sir,” Lieutenant Jansen replied.
Ranma turned back to the screen. He looked at Akane. Akane was holding her head in her hands – silently crying.
Ranma looked to the screen again.
“CAPTAIN!” Minako screamed one last time.
“Warp field is generating!” Ops number two stated.
“RANMA!” Minako stared at him.
Ranma couldn’t move. He couldn’t – he couldn’t do it.
Minako spun around. “FIRE! EVERYTHING!” She yelled at Jansen.
Jansen fired. Torpedoes and phasers shot towards the ship.
But it was gone.
Nothing left but its metaphorical dust.
Ranma looked to Akane, who was looking back at him – her eyes red and wet.
Ranma couldn’t stand anymore. He dropped to his knees and stared at the blank screen.
Minako could barely recognize this man. Just minutes ago, he ordered the death of several dozen Vulcans. Now – now he looked like a poor little child who just learned of the death of a parent.
“Captain,” she stated softly.
“Sir, Commander Hino reports that Chief Yuki was still on board the Nerima.”
Ranma didn’t reply.
“Sir…” Ops number two stated. “I’m scanning life signs in that container that was beamed overboard.”
Ranma slowly turned his head towards the operations station.
Ops ran a more detailed scan.
“Beam it directly to sickbay.” Ranma quietly said.
Minako turned to Jansen. “Get security down there.”
Jansen complied and dispatched the security officers. Akane turned to Ranma.
“I have-“ Ranma only nodded in reply before Akane ran off into the turbolift.
There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments. Finally, Ranma pulled himself back to his feet.
“Set a pursuit course. Maximum warp,” Ranma softy ordered Ryouga.
Ryouga did as he was told. Ranma started to move towards his ready room.
“Let me know when we catch them,” Ranma stated.
Minako began to follow Ranma.
“Sir, can I talk to you for a moment?”
Ranma just walked into his office.