Friends and Foes - Part 2 "Cavalry"
Episode 3 - The Future That Was
Location: Edge of the Sephone System
Timeline: Early 2416 (Alpha)
[Previously in Part 1 "What You Wish For"]
. . . . . .
"Defensive maneuver Gamma 2. Draw as much fire from the Grace as possible." Calmly commanded Captain Ra-Yalis. "Send out a distress signal. We can't deal with all three of those battle cruisers on our own." Turning back to his XO, the veteran officer said with a quiet smirk, "I'm blaming you for this one, Varian."
. . . . . .
The ship's holographic avatar flickered in and out before stabilizing. "Captain Luthor, I have just lost my starboard nacelle and warp capability. Shields down to 19%. Structural integrity at 32%." Glancing around, she accessed the situation on the bridge. "Ensign Hussein and Petty Officer Amar have been incapacitated. Assuming helm and tactical control." Turning back to Luthor, she asked. "What are your orders, sir?"
. . . . . .
"Quantum torpedoes away." Confirmed Lieutenant Commander Romero, who had taken over the tactical station from the injured Lieutenant Vros. Seconds later the view screen was momentarily blanketed with the blinding light of the fiery destruction of one of the Jem'Hadar battle cruisers.
"Take that, you Dominion scums!" The young officer would have jumped up from his station in exhilaration if he had not already buckled himself in as required by combat protocols.
"Well done, Commander." Commended Captain Ra-Yalis as the bridge shook again under enemy fire. "Now let's get out. . ."
"Captain," The ship's VI interrupted him. "Grace has lost her starboard nacelle and warp capability. Her shields are down to 11% and structural integrity 23%. Captain Luthor has requested an immediate evacuation."
Romero frowned at the conundrum they faced. "We can't lower our shields for transport. There are still two Jem'Hadar battle cruisers out there. Even if we could, we don't have enough room for everyone on board."
"Commander Romero is correct, Captain." Kumari nodded. "Grace has a crew compliment of 321 as well as 147 patients and 540 other refugees on board. Our maximum evacuation capacity at the moment is only 254."
"What if we eject all non-essential items from the cargo holds?" Asked Ra-Yalis.
"That would bring the number to 370, sir."
The Efrosian captain pondered his options, but only for a second. As difficult as it was, the decision was clear. "Do that, Kumari." He ordered. "And bring us closer to the Grace. Reroute all available power to the shields and extend it over her. Once we are in position, begin evacuation protocols Beta 3. Patients and children first, then as many of the other civilians as possible."
Ra-Yalis let out a quiet sigh as the ship maneuvered over to the crippled hospital ship.
"And Captain Luthor and his crew?" Asked Romero even though he knew very well what the answer was.
"Commander Romero, you will be in charge of the refugees so I suggest you get down there. Now." Said the veteran captain. His XO knew very well the answer to his own question.
"Report!" Luthor shouted as he climbed from the wreckage of his commandchair now acting as a support strut for a fallen girder. Grace on the other hand, seemed almost serine.
"Captain, we took a direct hit to the primary starboard power coupling manifold." She said calmly; "EPS ruptures in progress across decks three and four. Attempting to activate emergency containment fields around all inhabited and emergency areas." Her head turned slightly just as Luthor was able to reach one of the rear science stations and had logged in.
"Ward One has been destroyed, sir," Said the VI. Luthor steeled his jaw knowing what that meant. Despite his feelings, his hands flew over the controls.
"We just need a few more minutes! We only have a few dozen refugees left to evacuate!"
The glass of the bridge atrium flickered with the light of the ship's FTL as Zax sat back at his desk as he watched the swirls of ancient light above him from his nest. Then it all flickered out, and the sights of normal space returned. It was peaceful; almost enough for him to lull to sleep...but rest was something he wasn't up to getting today.
"Command to Zax," The El Aurian man sighed as he pulled his feet back to the floor.
"How many ships?" He asked, already knowing the answer...he just wanted to hear it from someone other than the ship.
"Two, both Federation ships about 14 parsecs from here. Each are sending out distress calls & one's badly damaged." The captain sighed. It had been the same story over and over again since the war began. And just like a demented old man, he always made the same call.
"Alright," he said getting up from his chair. He crossed the threshold that separated his ready room from the upper level of the Command Atrium, and took his place at his CIC station. He felt the familiar tingle that set the hair on the back of his neck on end just before a pair of arms wrapped around him.
"You really can't help yourself," a light voice whispered into his ear. "...Can you?" The arms flittered away as their owner pushed herself into his full view. Yet, he ignored the sight of the figure.
"They're asking for help, Sen. I can't ignore it." He turned to the figure. "Unless you've decided that you're just another starship AI...?" Senandarix let out a half-harted 'Hump' as she disappeared from view. Satisfied with his answer for now, he returned his attention back to the matter at hand.
"Helm, set an intercept course, best speed. And inform the crew: We have two Jem'Hadar warships to raid."
The bridge convulsed again as two enemy torpedoes and several phased polaron beams made nearly simultaneous impact.
"Shields down to 15 percent. Structural integrity at 21 percent." Reported Kumari just as an overhead panel exploded and fell down right through the VI's holographic form, disrupting its coherence momentarily. "We must disengage and jump to warp, Captain. My shields cannot survive another volley like that."
"And the evacuation?" Asked Ra-Yalis.
"It's 87 percent complete."
The Effrosian captain frowned. Only if he had more time. But he didn't.
"Disengage from the Grace. Set a course for Starbase 30, and enter warp as soon as we are clear."
Ra-Yalis knew what his order meant. He was leaving the Grace, her crew, and the refugees that still remained on board to their own fate, and the only fate that awaited them was death. The Jem'Hadar had made it a general policy not to take prisoners in retaliation for the massacre of Dominion POWs at the hands of Federation forces retreating from Delia II nearly five years ago. The perpetrators of that atrocity, which quashed any hope of the Cardarsians joining the war on the Federation's side, had been tried and convicted, but it made no difference to the Dominions.
"Aye, Captain." Kumari acknowledged her CO's order. "Disengaging from . . ." Pausing suddenly, she tilted her head. "Warning. Warp portal opening at port."
Ra-Yalis raised an eyebrow at the latest turn of event. Perhaps he couldn't save anyone today after all.
"Dominion?" His question sounded almost perfunctory.
There was a slight delay in the VI's response. "No, Captain, it's El Aurian." Turning her head back toward her CO, she added. "It's The Senaderix."
"Dropping out of warp!" Called his helmsman. Zax looked out the front glass of the bridge atrium, watching the pair of Jem'Hadar cruisers pounding away at the two Federation Starships.
"They're not going to last much longer," Sen came as her avatar materialized on the lower-level. She leaned over the edge of the helm as the forward HUD magnified the battle. "I've identified both ships: the hospital ship is the USS Grace. The Drake-class vessel is the USS Kumari..." She trailed off as she spoke the last vessel's name. Had the situation not been so bad, he might have taunted Xin over coming to his rescue yet again. But just as before, too many lives were at stake.
"I see," he began. "Open frequencies, audio only." His posture straightened out as he eased into the excessive padding of his command chair. One of his officers nodded as the familiar sound of the computer bleeped.
"Tick tock goes the clock, and all the waters goes. Ticktock goes the clock and all whom slaughter moans. Dark and stars fade out, and the might of the 'Darix grows." He closed the channel with the flick of his finger on his CIC, never breaking eye-contact with the ships in the distance.
"Lock disruptors and fold torpedoes on the first and second Jam'Hadar cruisers respectively. Target their deuterium and antimatter storage facilities," he said with practiced ease. "Helm, set a collision-coarse with the first cruiser; once we irradiate their crew, I want our people to have an easy path in and out." His crew worked with the diligence that he'd come to expect from them, as each moved with the grace of an Ethosian dancer. Then he opened a ship-wide channel to the rest.
"Attention all hands: we are about to initiate boarding maneuver gamma. All boarding crews stand-by for raiding!" He closed the channel just as Sen turned back from the HUD.
"It looks like they've noticed us, Zax," she said. The El Aurian steeled his gaze as he gripped his railings as the Jem'Hadar weapons washed over their shields.
A slight smile on his face, Captain Ra-Yalis shook his head as Zax' voice came over the comm. The El Aurian was still full of himself and of his ship as ever, but they were giving him the desperately needed breathing room as the Dominions turned their attention to the Senedarix, and he intended to make the most of it.
Turning to his V.I., he said, "Maintain our position and complete the evacuation."
"Aye, aye, Captain." With a slight tilt of her head, the ship acknowledged the order. "I am required to inform you, sir, that Captain Ku'fanblriadg is a wanted fugitive. We are under order to arrest him on sight, and . . ."
Ra-Yalis stopped the V.I. in mid sentence with a wave of his hand. "That can wait, Kabul. Our priority is the safety of the refugees and then the Grace. Work with Chief Collins and squeeze out as much power as you can and divert it to shields and structural integrity."
"Of course, Captain. But what about the Dominions?"
"The Serandarix is more than a match for two Dominion battle cruisers. Now that we have worn down one of them, it would be a walk in the park for Captain Ku'fanblriadg. The Dominions are no longer a threat, Kabul. We must focus on the task at hand.'
"Yes, sir." Nodded the ship's holographic avatar.
[To be continued . . .]
El Aurian Privateer Vessel Senandarix
Captain Xin Ra-Yalis
CO, USS Kumari
(NPC - Oliver)
Lt. Cmdr. Varian Romero
XO, USS Kumari
(NPC - Oliver)
Captain Clark Luthor
CO, USS Grace
(NPC - Zax)