As the Ella Fitzgerald crossed the heliopause into the Epsilon Indi system, the cockpit controls locked out, simply displaying the words ‘Autopilot Engaged’ on every control surface within the cabin. This wasn’t unexpected; Pressman knew that his opponent would be suspicious, even with the biological data he was able to provide. The comm signal intoned and then Fleet Captain Hayden popped up on the screen.
“Lieutenant Pressman, as you’re close enough for remote control, we’ve activated the homing function, so that you can focus on treating my personnel. My ship’s doctor is somewhat alarmed that they’re not making faster progress,” Hayden said, blue eyes searching him through the transmission.
“Of-of course, sir. Happy to. As you can see in these latest sensor scans, my medic injected the four of them with a sedative, as she was concerned that without additional medical support, waking them up now would be possibly dangerous,” Pressman lied, as he sent over additional data, which had been modified to fudge the brain waves just enough to suggest sleep.
“Can you get her on the channel?”
Pressman shook his head. “She’s busy seeing to some of the passengers we managed to rescue, but I’ll have her call you when she is free… if that’s ok?”
Hayden nodded. “We will see you in one hour,” she said, before cutting the channel. About forty-five minutes later, the shuttle dropped out of warp, still several hundred thousand kilometers from Epsilon Indi station.
Pressman smirked and grabbed his PADD off of the helm and sent a transmission back through the channel he’d set up for the life signs diversion to set the next part of the plan into motion. Starfleet was nothing if not predictable.
“Well, gentleman, it looks as if our plot has been foiled,” he said, turning to the two Tarl that he’d convinced to help him in this little project. It had cost him all of the resource credits he’d saved up during his short Starfleet career to buy their allegiance, on the condition that they’d get off easy when they were inevitably caught. Since he’d organized it all on his own them and used them merely as muscle, it seemed likely they’d get a few years in a cushy rehabilitation colony, while he’d probably spend the rest of his life in one.
“Incoming transmission from the Arcturus,” the computer reported. It didn’t give him a choice before it pulled up the stern visage of Fleet Captain Hayden; if she had any intent of playing dumb about what she’d undoubtedly just learned, it wasn’t obvious from the fire in her eyes.
“Lieutenant Pressman, as you can see, I have pulled you out of warp early. Further analysis of the life signs you have provided to us shows signal attenuation that could only be attributed to increasing distance between the sensor and the transmitter. My crew aren’t aboard with you. I won’t waste my time figuring out why you’ve done this—,” she started.
“Of course you won’t, sir,” Pressman sneered. “Starfleet never seems to care. You’re sitting on a bridge built over a world that should never have been dragged into Starfleet’s messes like Mars was.”
On the sensors, he could see two Danube-class runabouts on an intercept course. That wouldn’t do.
Hayden shook her head. “I’m happy to have a very long conversation with you once you’re safely locked in my brig, Lieutenant,” she replied with acid in her voice. Typical posturing from someone who was used to getting exactly her own way all the time, i.e. a Starfleet Captain.
“Not gonna happen, I’m afraid. Sorry, guys, it looks like it’s Plan B,” Pressman said, looking back to his Tarl accomplices.
“What’s plan B?” one of them asked.
“Martyrdom,” Pressman said, moments before he depressed the triggering device that he had rigged up to the ultritium in the cargo hold. A metric ton of the stuff was enough to vaporize the shuttle, and trigger a warp core breach. The shockwave stripped the shields off of the approaching runabouts, leaving them burning in space with nothing to show for it.