Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: USS Kyushu
Timeline: MD 3 (March 5, 2393)
[Previously in Cross Road]
. . . . . .
Taking another deep breath, she finally looked up at the senior officers who had assembled around the table. Several were missing, still fighting for their lives in the sickbay.
She cleared her throat.
"I have just talked to Admiral Hoya. Once we finish repair, we will proceed to Starbase 235 and await further orders there."
"Excuse me, Ma'am," Werner spoke up. "What about the Captain? Command isn't just abandoning him, are they?"
"Damn right they're not," Kevan interjected, leaning across the table. "Even if they are, we sure as hell aren't." Not with Korra also taken, he added silently. "We get a beat on them, I'll lead a boarding party and shoot Ishikawa and that damned traitor Capulet myself."
Nola bit her lower lip as Kevan spoke. He was clearly upset at the situation and rather personally at that, not that she blamed him. He and Korra seemed to be a great couple, judging from last night's dinner with the captain. But the situation was beyond her control now.
"Admiral Hoya has already dispatched the USS Kyushu to intercept Ishikawa." she said. Noticing a few raised eyebrows in the room, she added, "Any confrontation with the Themyscira will be dangerous, and the Admiral did not want to put the civilians at risk."
The Arcadia did indeed have a much larger civilian complement than those on most other ships, but she knew it was just a pretext. Hoya didn't trust her. And the Benzite was right.
. . . . . .
::Bridge, USS Kyushu::
Lieutenant Commander Johannes "Hans" Adlerstein sat with his leg over another in the CO's chair on the bridge. The skipper had stepped away momentarily, so Hans had to assume command. If he was honest with himself, part of him relished it when the CO was away, for he, however temporarily, got to call the vessel his own. The other part would have traded it all away for a chance to go back to the Corps from which he was born. However, His former skipper, Oliver Lee, saw something in him that made him choose the German Marine as his XO, and so he got to wear pips instead of oakleaves. Hans was not too bitter about it, after all, to be dual commissioned allowed a Marine the opportunity to excel at either ship command or with Marines ground forces. BUPERS stated there were no marine slots for Majors available at places that interested Adlerstein, so it was with the fleet that he remained, transferring to the Akira-class vessel he sat on after two years as XO of Bunker Hill.
It wasn't long before Captain Torvis-Iber walked out of his ready room with a hint of concern in his countenance. The conversation with Admiral Hoya lasted less than a minute - the Benzite certainly lived up to her laconic reputation - but what he had learned in that minute was troubling, and so was the mission he had been given. He had always hoped that he would never have to face one of Starfleet's own in battle. That hope had just been dashed.
As soon as he stepped onto the bridge and before the science officer on duty, whose station was the closest to the ready room, could announce his presence to the rest of the bridge crew, the Grazerite captain gave his order. "Red alert."
As the bright lighting changed to a dark crimson hue, Torvis-Iber took his seat, which had just been vacated by his first officer. With a few presses of the control panel on the chair's armrest, he sent a set of coordinates to the helm.
"Ensign Bozeman, set a course for these coordinates, and Lieutenant K'vagh, keep an eye on long range sensors for the USS Themyscira. I'm sending you her warp signature now."
"Aye sir!" K'vagh's deep undertones echoed across the bridge, he began interfacing with his terminal, Tactical systems, Sensor Arrays, Long Range Forward Sensors, Active Scan, Variable: Warp Signature , Ship registry The Klingon searched all known ships by name but despite his persistence the computer still returned 'NO RESULTS
"Sir, I am having trouble locating the Themyscira in the database" K'vagh alerted his superior.
"Just keep your eyes on the sensors for matching warp signature, Lieutenant."
Hans set up his display to monitor combat systems as a miniature C&C*, before posing his inevitable query. "What's the story Captain?" the German XO asked the skipper.
Torvis-Iber leaned over slightly and lowered his voice. "Not on the bridge, Commander. My ready room." Standing back up, the captain turned to K'vagh. "Lieutenant, you have the bridge."
Once again the K'vagh responded with a resoundingly positive response before beckoning a nearby crewman to take over his station.
The Grazerite captain stepped off the slightly raised platform where the CO's and XO's chairs sat and signaled Hans to follow him.
Stepping through the opening doors of the ready room, Torvis-Iber gestured at one of the empty chairs in front of his desk.
"To answer your earlier question, Commander," said the Grazerite as he took his own seat behind the desk, "about 20 minutes ago the Themyscira under the command of Captain Nami Ishikawa disabled your old skipper's ship, the USS Arcadia, and is currently heading toward Dominion space. Starfleet Command believes that Captain Ishikawa intends to carry out an unauthorized strike on Dominion installations in the Galeon System. Our order is to intercept the Themyscira before it reaches Dominion space and to take Captain Ishikawa and her crew into custody. Ideally we will disable the ship and bring it back to Starbase 139, but bottom line, the Themyscira cannot be allowed to either carry out its strike or fall into Dominion hands, so if necessary we are authorized to destroy it."
"Begging your pardon sir, but are we considering a diplomatic solution prior to opening fire, especially since not all aboard her might be in tune with the piano piece that is Ishikawa's plan?" The German said, growing very uncomfortable with the situation as they discussed it. Killing of Starfleet's own, regardless of their crimes, left a bad taste in the mouth, and more, importantly, on the soul.
Torvis-Iber nodded. "We will try to talk Ishikawa out of it, but if persuasion fails, we will engage. I don't like this any more than you do, Commander, but we can't let her start another war with the Dominion. I lost my entire family in the last war; I don't wish anyone else the same fate."
Discipline and adherence to orders ran deep within German culture, and even more so in the Reserve Marines. Hans could only nod in acknowledgement of his orders.
"I'm sure you are curious why Lieutenant K'vagh couldn't find the Themyscira in the database, Commander," said Captain Torvis-Iber, "and if you are to dig deeper - as I assume you would - you will find that the ship is still under construction at Utopia Planitia and that Captain Ishikawa isn't listed as currently serving in Starfleet. Unfortunately I can't divulge any information on either the Themyscira or Ishikawa. I'm under strict order from Admiral Hoya. You may form whatever theory you wish, Commander, but I also expect that you would carry out your duties flawlessly just as you always have since coming aboard the Kyushu."
Hans felt vaguely insulted. "You need not ask that, sir; I'm a soldier first and foremost." the German said simply.
Torvis-Iber nodded. He shouldn't have to say what he had just said, but his last first officer had a habit of deciding for himself which orders to follow and which ones to skirt around. Needless to say the Betazoid didn't sit in the XO's chair for long. Adlerstein, on the other hand, had given him no reason to doubt his adherence to orders and protocols since he came aboard about six months ago. Nevertheless, this mission was critically important, and he couldn't afford taking any chances.
"Very well, Commander, if there's nothing else, you are dismissed." said the Grazerite captain. He didn't tell Adlerstein about Lee. If the human knew that Ishikawa had taken his old skipper hostage, he might pause and hesitate. Ishikawa must be stopped, and nothing could stand in the way of that.
::Bridge, USS Themyscira::
Nami was gently tapping the armrest of her chair with one hand as the voice of her chief engineer came through the comm.
=/\=Ming to Captain Ishikawa, we have a problem.=/\=
"Spill it, Lieutenant." said Nami.
=/\=Battle damage along with our travel through the time stream has completely fried the cloak. I was able to replicate most of the damaged components while we were on the Arcadia, but I still need an interphase matrix regulator. But without the Arcadia's industrial replicators I'm afraid we don't have the necessary materials and parts to build another one. I have tried several homemade solutions, but none worked consistently."
Both Nami and her first officer Commander Hekoa frowned at the report.
"Without the cloak we will have to fight our way to the Galeon System, the most heavily guarded in all Dominion space at this time." said Hekoa, "Even with our ablative generators and transphasic torpedoes, we can't take on an entire Dominion fleet with just one ship."
Nami nodded. "We will find what we need then." Tapping her comm badge, she said, "Lieutenant Ming, work with Themie and find out where we can get everything we need to finish the interphase matrix regulator in this period."
=/\=Yes, Ma'am. Ming out.=/\=
Hekoa shook his head slightly. "We should have commandeered the Arcadia. With its resources and our technology we could . . . . . ."
Nami raised her hand and stopped him in mid sentence. "And what would you do with the Arcadia's crew and all its civilians? We don't have the manpower to contain them on their own ship. And if you suggest we jettison them into space, let me remind you that we didn't come here to kill more Federation lives. If anyone tries to stop us, we will deal with them in any means necessary, but do not forget for a second that we are here to . . ."
"Captain," the ship's AI materialized in her holographic avatar and interrupted the conversation. "I have picked up the USS Kyushu on sensors. She's on an intercepting course."
Nami frowned slightly at the news
From the control interface on his right armrest Hekoa quickly looked up their pursuer in the database. "The Kyushu is a Flight II Akira class ship. They shouldn't pose too much of a threat. We can take them out."
Nami did not respond to what her first officer had just said. Instead she asked the AI, "Can we outrun them?"
Themie shrugged. "Not until my warp core is brought back to its peak efficiency."
Nami considered her options - or rather the lack thereof - for a moment.
"Red alert. Battle stations." She gave the inevitable orders.
"The Kyushu is hailing us." reported Hekoa.
With a wry smile Nami turned to her first officer. "It has been a while since the last time our enemy wanted to talk first before shooting at us" Without waiting for a response from the human, she said, "On screen."
A split second later the commanding officer of the USS Kyushu appeared on the view screen. Captain Torvis-Iber stood up from his chair and stepped closer.
"Captain Ishikawa, by order of Starfleet Command, stand down."
"I can't do that, Captain." answered Nami without leaving her own seat. Looking behind the Grazerite captain, she found a familiar face in the XO's seat on the other bridge. Smiling slightly, she said, "Is that you, Hans? It has been a while."
Hans stepped closer to the screen beside his skipper. His look of confusion towards Torvis-Iber asked if this was all a large joke.
"Forgive me, ma'am, but have we met before?" the German asked, confused.
A small smirk crept onto Nami's lips. "Now, Commander, that's a tricky question, and if I remember the old protocols correctly, I don't think your captain would want me to answer it." Turning her attention back to the Kyushu's CO, she said to the Grazerite, the momentary levity having completely disappeared from her voice, "Well, Captain Torvis-Iber, if Starfleet Command told you anything about the Themyscira, you know your ship is no match for mine, and I would rather not have to open fire on another Starfleet vessel." After a pause, she added, "Don't force my hand, Captain."
"I can't allow you to start another war with the Dominion, Captain Ishikawa." answered Torvis-Iber.
Nami leaned forward from her seat and frowned. "I'm trying to prevent another war with the Dominion. Those bastards massacred your entire family when they took Betazed in the last war, Captain, and as long as the Founders live, there will always be another war, and more families will be massacred, more loved ones will be lost. I cannot and I will not let that happen again."
Among the many things Nami had learned from Oliver during those fifteen years of war was the importance of knowing your enemy, so after finding out that the Kyushu was on an intercepting course, she had taken the little time she had and looked up on Torvis-Iber's file. Unfortunately the database didn't have too much useful intel on the Grazerite that she could take advantage of, so she just had to make do with what she got.
The mention of his family visibly disturbed Captain Torvis-Iber. There was a moment of hesitation as the images of his wife and children flashed before his eyes. Finally, he shook his head and said resolutely, "I have my orders, Captain."
Nami let out a quiet sigh. "Very well, Captain." Then looking over to Hans, she said, "I'm sorry, Hans." With that she pressed a control on her armrest and terminated the comm link. "Themie, Attack Pattern Odyssey 025. Fire when ready."
"Aye, aye, Captain." the Themyscira's AI acknowledged her order.
Themie wheeled about, her visage looming bright against the otherwise blackness of the cosmos. The Kyushu conducted her own maneuvers, attempting to put the brunt of her shields towards the likely avenues of attack. It was textbook.
But it didn't matter. Silent as a ghost, the Themie fired a lethal bolt of red energy at the Kyushu, striking her on her starboard front quarter. Like a boxer thoroughly outclassed by her opponent, the Kyushu's shields sputtered into a KO at the hit, allowing the beam to conduct its deadly work upon her hull. Parts of decks fragmented and splintered, charred and broke, and parts of two decks were exposed to space, the life-giving air rushing out by the pressure differential.
"Return fire!" Adlerstein bellowed as his ship shook to her core, as if suddenly cold. The Kyushu's return defiance shot through the void at the speed of light, the distance between the vessels still requiring several seconds of travel to reach its target. Unlike the Kyushu, Themie absorbed the blow, its shields glowing emerald, then returning as if never bothered, the full force of the Kyushu but a pinprick before its might. Themie responded in kind.
On the Kyushu's bridge, sparks flew and consoles exploded, men and women screamed orders, and wounded cried for their mothers or their gods. Beside Adlerstein, his right XO panel cascaded a shower of shrapnel and sparks, sprinkling him with bits of metal that felt like fire. Before he or the skipper could issue an order, a quantum torpedo came hurting toward their vessel - it's as if Ishikawa didn't think the Kyushu was worthy of the Themyscira's complement of transphasic torpedoes
The missile impacted on the dorsal hull, removing a chunk of the port thruster and the decks connected. Instantly, 34 men and women were vaporized, turned into the same stardust that they now commingled with in the prairies of abyss and endless silence.
Back aboard the Kyushu, Hans picked himself up off the ground. His chair that he had once resided in was mostly a tangled mess of cable and console, a ruin to its former glory. Luckily, Adlerstein had not been sitting in it when it had decided to combust, and his wounds, although certainly painful, were minor.
However, the German noticed the Captain's Chair was in a similar state, and he knew that His skipper had been planted firmly within its confines.
"Skipper!" Hans called out as he rushed to the superior's prostrate form. He tried to turn him over, but could only manage his side, something blocking him from the rest of the distance. He looked down and saw what it was: a piece of the captains armrest, turned sharp and pointed from the heat and pressure of the explosion, the now jagged and spear-like piece jutting from the captain's torso below his ribs. Adlerstein had seen enough wounds to know that even if he had landed in the lap of a full starbase medical staff, he was a goner.
Themie sighed quietly as her sensors registered every blow she was inflicting on the Kyushu, every phaser hit, every torpedo detonation, every life sign that disappeared, but there was nothing she could do. In the ten years when Oliver sat in her captain's chair, he had encouraged her to be more than her original programing. Captain Ishikawa, however, had a different view on what an AI could, or rather, should be, restoring most of the programing restrictions that Oliver had rescinded in order to give her the freedom she needed to be independent, to be herself. As much as her orders dismayed her, as much it pained her to rain down crippling fire on the Kyushu, she could not protest, she could not disobey. But here's the funny thing about freedom and independence: once you have had a taste of them, they could never be completely taken away from you again.
As she made another pass over the doomed, but still defiant Kyushu, Themie linked herself to the other ship's rapidly failing computer system. When she materialized on the other ship's bridge in her holographic avatar - that of a young Andorian in her late 20s - she found Hans kneeling over the motionless body of his commanding officer as consoles exploded around him.
"Commander Adlerstein," she said to the man who had just assumed command of his doomed ship, "You must evacuate the Kyushu. Her shields are near depletion, her structural integrity is rapidly deteriorating, and her warp core's anti-matter containment field is failing. I cannot drag this out much longer, Commander. You must order your crew to abandon ship."
The German was in too much shock to wonder how this Andorian had materialized on the bridge. He could only gently put down the head of his former captain. He turned towards the Themie's computer image.
"I don't know who you are, and I don't care. These are my people and I am responsible for their lives. If you want to 'drag this out', give whatever light show you wish, but I request that you respect the Rules of War while my people evacuate." When he got a nod, he maneuvered towards the rear comm panel, which was secluded and shielded enough to statistically be one of the last bridge stations to fail or implode, and that statistic held true when it came to life.
"This is the XO. All hands: abandon ship. Repeat: all hands abandon ship!" He called into the ether, the slight echo of his voice among the decks greeting his ears. He hoped that more living crew than dead ones heard that voice, and the alarm that accompanied it. Regardless, the dead deserved a better epitaph than that.
With a quiet sigh, Themie nodded before disappearing from view. She wasn't exaggerating when she told Hans that she wouldn't be able to drag out the assault much longer. She made another pass and focused her fire on the non-essential areas. It didn't take much effort to break off the Kyushu's left nacelle pylon, or her weapon's pod, and it wasn't too long before she almost ran out of critical areas to hit. Luckily by then Hans and most of his surviving crew reached the escape pods - the few who still hadn't reached safety, there's nothing she could do for them now. As the dozens of escape pods were jettisoned from the doomed ship and were some safe distance away, she came around and unleashed a barrage of quantum torpedoes on what remained of the Kyushu, sending her into a blinding explosion of oblivion.
The bridge shook slightly as the shock wave from the exploding Kyushu hit the Luna-class ship. Nami winced in dismay. She had not wanted to fight this battle, but Torvis-Iber was too stubborn and left her no choice. Just like Oliver had. She never wanted to hurt him, but he left her no choice. He was too stubborn.
"Resume our original course." She said to her Tallerite helmsman.
"Aye, aye, captain."
"The escape pods?" Asked Commander Hekoa.
"Leave them be. They are no longer a threat." said Nami. After a brief pause, she added with a small sigh, "That's enough Starfleet lives for today."
::The Void of Space::
Johannes Adlerstein unbuckled himself from the restraints as he watched in stunned silence as the pieces of his former ship drifted lazily through the ebony prairie that stretched in all directions before him. He wanted to simply sit down, or sleep as fight or flight instincts bred through the eons finally wound down from his adrenal glands. However, the captain was dead; these were his people now. The ship may be gone, but its people still lived, and it was his job to keep them that way.
The German touched a finger to the escape pods comm system.
"All pods, this is the XO. Commence accountability of personnel. I want head counts within three hours. Commence Ration Plan Bravo, Sleep Cycle Delta."^
Hans cut the comm and began to transmit a message to whomever might receive it.
"This is Leftenant Commander Adlerstein, XO of the USS..."
He trailed off. The German officer deleted his last message and began again.
"This is Leftenant Commander Adlerstein, Acting Captain of the USS Kyushu. To any who hear my voice, we request assistance to recover survivors within escape pods. Coordinates are as follows..."
*Command and Control
^Ration Plan Bravo: Two meals a day maximum. Sleep Cycle Delta: Minimum of one person per pod awake at all times.
Captain Nami Ishikawa
USS Themyscira NCC-85430
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
USS Themysicra NCC-85430
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
Lieutenant Commander Johannes Adlerstein
Executive Officer/Commanding Officer
USS Kyushu NCC-65491
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Kyushu NCC-65491
USS Kyushu NCC-65491
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
USS Themyscira NCC-85430
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)