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Part of Challenger: Hell Hath No Fury


Challenger NX-03, en route to Docana
Saturday, April 26th, 2155
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Stirring slowly, Liam Jenkins reached out to his left side and was surprised to find nothing lying next to him in bed. He blinked several times to wake himself up and soon reminded himself that he was in his quarters that he now shared with his partner Niall Stewart. Sluggishly, he pushed himself up to find out where his boyfriend was. They had fallen asleep together reading through the Andorian anatomy guide that Ro-fa Ben-Ami had given them to study. 

“Niall?” He called out in a sleepy tone as he rubbed his eyes; slowly they reacted to the almost dark room, only a few low beam lights were on. He looked around the room trying to find his boyfriend, but it wasn’t until Jenkins faintly heard the running of the shower behind the door of the bathroom did Jenkins work out where he’s boyfriend was. Once he knew where he was and was okay, he slumped backwards, his head falling back on to the pillow like a lead balloon. Eventually he leant over to see what the time was on the digital clock that sat on the edge of their bedside cabinet. It was four minutes to six o’clock. He groaned inwards; he knew that he would have to get up soon to prepare for his duty just like everyone else that was on alpha shift duty today. The captain had ordered for the alpha shift to come on early today, giving everyone an extra two hours on duty but it would mean they would be ready for when they arrived at the Andorian colony. 

The door to the bathroom slid open and Jenkins looked over to see his other half standing there with nothing on except for just a towel hanging from his waist. “Morning.” Jenkins said, looking at him in a deep groggy morning voice.

“Hey,” Stewart said back in a quieter but quite gruff tone with his slight Irish accent coming through. “I didn’t wake you, did I?” He asked with a concern in his voice as he made his way over to the lockers that contained their hanging uniforms.

Jenkins shook his head while he kept his head on the pillow. “No, it was just when I realised I was no longer asleep on you and all that I had left to hug was a pillow I realised you were up.” He mumbled into the pillow. “How come you’re up so early?”

The ship’s nurse had finished drying himself and was now putting on his underwear followed by his undershirt. “I’ve got to finish off making sure the recovery ward is ready for when we arrive at Docana. With all the work we did yesterday in sorting out cargo bay one we ran out of time to do a stock check there. I promised the good Ro-fa I would meet with her for an early breakfast and help her do it.”

Smiling at how committed his boyfriend was to his job; Jenkins sat up on his elbows. “You should have said last night; I would have come and helped you with it.”

“It’s fine, really.” Stewart replied with a sweet genuine smile as he pulled his uniform jumpsuit out of the locker. “Plus, I know you’ve got another round of training with First Lieutenant al-Fayyad before we arrive, I wanted you to sleep in and rest before today started.”

“You are too good for me!” Jenkins said as he laid himself back on the double bed by placing his hands behind his head and resting on them.  He meant what he said. They had only moved in together three days ago, something that Jenkins took great delight in after Commander Levesque had agreed to it. No longer did he have to share his quarters with three other junior ranked non-commissioned officers from the MACO detachment in a tight room. Instead he got the delights of sharing in Stewart’s junior officer size quarters. The room was big enough for them both to fit in and move around without bumping into each other. The quarters themselves were on E Deck, close to sickbay and backed onto Ensign Conrad’s room. Many of their friends had said they were rushing into things, but as Commander Levesque had said to them both, she wouldn’t stand in the way of true love and gave her blessing.  

Stewart sat on the edge of the bed as he zipped his jumpsuit up and straightened out his sleeves. “I know I’m too good for you, but you are too good for me as well.” He said after and leant over Jenkins and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. “Now enough with cheesiness this morning and go back to sleep for another half hour, I’ll see you for dinner tonight.”

Jenkins sighed after the kiss and placed his hands around Stewart’s neck to hold on to him. “Okay but call me if you need help in sickbay.”

“I will.” Stewart said and kissed him one more time before slowly pulling off Jenkins’ interlocked fingers around his neck. “I gotta go.” He whispered after kissing him for the final time. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Jenkins said, smiling as he watched Stewart stand up. He truly did love him, they had an instant attraction for each other, even with having the four-year age gap (Stewart being twenty-six years old), the two of them had a similar sense of humour and both enjoyed sharing their passion with each other in sports and music. It was perfect, nothing could pull them apart, Jenkins thought to himself as he slowly closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

The warmth of the body next to him made Ensign John Conrad smile in his sleep as he tightened his grasp around the female’s body.

“Mmm, Jack we need to get up.” She said softly in return.

“Not for another fifteen minutes or so.” He mumbled in response. 

“Yeah but I need to get back to my quarters to get changed and have a shower.” She slowly countered back as she slowly pushed his embrace off from her.

“Do it all here.” He said, still remaining where he was, making her task difficult to undertake.

“I can’t, and you know we don’t want to get caught by anyone.”

“But Martha-” He started to whine but was stopped mid-flow by a passionate kiss from Challenger’s second science officer. 

Conrad smiled into the kiss, only a few weeks into his new posting and he found someone to share the joy of it all with however neither of them had spoken about what their relationship was. They weren’t dating each other; they were just there for each other when they needed it. Ensign Martha Habiba was a beautiful and clever woman that he found completely attractive and fascinating to know. She had a beautiful smile which was complimented by her laugh and sense of humour. The two of them had spent one night talking about lots of things and slowly getting very drunk in the crew lounge before engaging in a night of passionate love making. Since then every so often they would meet up when they could. They had made a pact, after the captain had announced Challenger’s new orders to help the Andorians; they would spend the night together before the ship arrived at Docana. 

Eventually Habiba got out of his firm grasp and creped over to find her clothing on the floor. Quickly she put it all on and leant into Conrad, she kissed his cheek as he remained lying on the bed. “Thanks for last night.” She whispered into his ear afterwards and quietly she made her way out of his quarters.

Habiba was doing her best to be quiet so she could return to her quarters on D deck without being caught, she had decided that by going early she wouldn’t bump into many people and would be out of Conrad’s quarters before anyone else on E deck had seen her. However, her luck ran out the moment she turned the corridor and automatically bumped into her friend, Ensign Niall Stewart, leaving his quarters.

“Martha, what are you doing down here?” He quietly asked surprised at his friend’s presence this early in the morning, especially on E deck when her quarters were above them.

She couldn’t think of an excuse to reply quickly with. To fill the silence she just said, “Umm.”

Stewart looked at the direction she had come from, then back her and noticed the blush forming on her cheeks. He just smiled at her when he connected the dots in his mind and inferred why she was down on E deck. “Your secret is safe with me.” He said to her in a low voice, giving her a cheeky wink.

“Please Niall; I don’t want anyone to know about this.” She remarked sincerely, holding on to his hand as she pleaded. “Don’t tell anyone, even Liam!”

“I promise.” He said, gesturing to draw a cross over his heart with his free right hand.

“Thanks.” She replied gratefully and made her way to her quarters on D deck swiftly. 

Stewart watched as Habiba made her rapid exit before making his way to sickbay to meet with Challenger’s Chief Medical Officer.

Michael Stanton hated waiting. He hated journeys that were long and uneventful along the way. For this he had not slept well and found himself waking up a lot earlier then had planned. He now stood in his quarters just in his underwear with a mug of hot tea that he had just made staring out the stars as they streaked past Challenger and the rest of the Andorian-Human task force. From his quarters he could see the NV­-class ship, the Apollo, keeping up with everyone else.  He missed serving on the smaller Starfleet ships, the intimate atmosphere that it created, the hum of the power systems was completely different to how it was on the NX-classes. He had shared his thoughts on this with everyone else on the senior staff, especially as most of them had served on smaller crafts before joining Challenger with many of them agreeing with his thoughts on it. He took a sip of his tea. A year ago, if someone had said to him, he would be Chief Engineer and Second Officer of one of the most powerful ships in Starfleet he would have laughed them off, he would think they would also be delusional if they also said he would become an avid tea drinker. He blamed Captain Burton and Commander Levesque for that. The two of them were keen tea drinkers and had got him hooked on it compared to the amount of coffee he used to drink.

Sighing after taking another sip he finished the mug’s contents and walked over to his small desk and placed the mug down. Automatically he saw the photograph of Alex and him when they had spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square in New York the previous year. They were both smiling and enjoying the celebrations around them. He smiled to himself after picking it up and looking at it in more detail. He had received a message from his partner only a few days ago, explaining that Discovery, which was a month behind its launch date, was now closer to being completed and sent out to join them in the deep end of space. Stanton had wondered what it had meant for their relationship, would they still be together, or would they call it a day? Could they keep a relationship going while they served on separate ships far away from each other? 

Deciding not to ponder any more on his worries about his relationship with Discovery’s chief pilot, he decided he must worry about what lay ahead of them: Docana and finding out what had happened to the Andorian colony. They were only a few hours away now and they would soon discover the status of the planet and its occupants. He had been up all night thinking to himself had he checked every system and prepared everything. He put the picture frame down and made his way towards his private bathroom, deciding to take his worries to the shower and hopefully find a way to rinse them away.

The decision to have alpha shift come on early appeared to be a good idea at the time nevertheless Captain Burton was starting to regret it as he suppressed another yawn and covered his mouth while he stood at the main station in the forward port armoury room. He was reviewing Sub Commander T’Plau’s suggested tactics on how to engage Nausicaan raiders and Malurian ships. Her strategies were inventive enough and made Burton pleased he had the Vulcan exchange officer with him. 

“Am I intruding sir?” A female voice said behind him.

Burton had not even heard the doors open or close so was a bit surprised when a voice appeared from nowhere. He looked over his left shoulder to see the woman whose work he was currently reading over. “Sub Commander, good morning.” He greeted her before looking back at the screen. “And no, you’re not.” He added.

She walked past the high stack of photonic and spatial torpedoes and joined the captain on the raised platform. “Are you satisfied with my plans of engagement?”

“Extremely satisfied T’Plau.” He said with a sincere smile. “I was thinking about how glad I am that you are with us.”

“I am pleased that my presence is useful, captain.” She returned humbly.

Burton stopped working and turned to look at the Vulcan beside him; she noticed his pause and copied his actions. “Have Major Yu and you thought about what we’ll need to do if we have to send anyone down to the colony?”

She nodded. “The Major would like to send a large contingent, if not all, of the MACOs to the planet-side to ensure high security and safety for any of our officers. My armoury department will cover the ship’s security.”

“Okay, just make sure we’re ready to go the moment the Andorians give us the word.” Burton responded before looking back at the screen.

For several minutes the two of them said nothing until T’Plau broke the silence. “Captain, may I ask you a personal question?”

Burton stopped working and looked at T’Plau. “Sure.”

“Have you ever actually been in a ground combat situation?” She asked bluntly. 

Burton nodded, “Several in fact, in particular in my early days on the Intrepid-”

T’Plau interrupted him. “I am sorry sir, I meant during a war.”

“Then no.” He honestly answered. “Earth hasn’t been at war or involved in a major conflict since the Xindi crisis two years ago.”

T’Plau placed her hands behind her back. “I have. The border skirmishes between my world and Andoria as well as several conflicts on other worlds.”

“Your point Sub Commander?” Burton inquired as he started to become restless with her line of questioning.

T’Plau had by instinct picked up on the captain’s annoyance of not getting to her point. Automatically she shared her thoughts. “I was going to say sir have you prepared yourself for the possibility of losing some of the crew in this upcoming task?”

Burton stepped back the moment she finished, a bit surprised by her bluntness and cold approach to the possibility of them losing anyone. Regaining his strong posture, the young captain replied. “I’m hoping Sub Commander that we don’t have to deal with that, but if and when we do then I’ll be ready. I can assure you of that.” He replied just as honestly as she had asked. “What’s your point anyway?” He asked after a brief second of silence between them.

“We shall most likely be involved in the event that leads to the Andorians declaring war, as such I wanted to know if you’ve prepared yourself for that sir. If not, I would be content to share with you my own experience of such events and what I learnt from them.”

Burton smiled at the twisted approach T’Plau had taken to show she cared about him. “I appreciate the sentiment T’Plau.” He returned. “Let’s see what the future holds for us before we start to drape flags over coffins.”

“I understand sir.” T’Plau said, bowing her head in respect. “My apologies if my line of questioning upset you sir in anyway, that was not my intention.”

Burton returned to his work. “Don’t worry, Sub Commander.” He concluded as he read the next part of his work in silence.

Secondmoon, Fesoan Lor’veln Year 463

Thursday, April 24th, 2155

Lor’den, Docana

Thomsher ch’Flene pulled on his uniform’s jacket collar one more time as he walked out of his apartment building and down the plaza towards where he worked at the Imperial Guard outpost. Being extremely young and only recently finishing his training on the homeworld, he found his first assignment to be trouble-free. Holding the position of a junior lieutenant within the communications department, he had accepted the posting as he thought that being placed on one of the Empire’s frontline worlds that he would be engaging with races from various worlds where he would be able to use his talented array of linguistic expertise. However, he was surely mistaken. His main duty was overseeing the upkeep of the colony’s communication network. He walked down the plaza of Lor’den, the capital settlement of the Docana colony he pondered to himself just how long he would be in this position. He couldn’t complain about the location of his posting, Docana was a beautiful world and currently Lor’den was experiencing its spring season. The early morning sun blissfully shone down on the settlement as its inhabitants began their day and Thomsher walked past a number of civilians, some of them engrossed with their own business while only a few others smiled at him when he smiled at them first. 

“Thomy!” A voice screamed from the other side of the town square.

Inside he groaned to himself as his friend, Lieutenant Scoranthien th’Redash, ran over to him and joined him. Thomsher hated the nick name that Scoranthien had given him since their posting on Docana, most of his family and friends called him Thom for short but Scoranthien had added the ‘y’, as such Thom had called him Scory back even though he was referred to as Scor. 

As Scor joined him he put his arm around Thom’s shoulders. “So, news has it that General Ghelev is bringing the Avenkerev to Docana.”

Thom was perplexed at his friend’s comment; the news of one of the Guard’s advanced ship’s visiting the colony was nothing special he felt. “And?”

“Well she’s doing a tour of the outpost and if we impress her then she may want us on her ship.” He explained in an excited tone.

Sighing once, Thom looked at his friend. “You may be thinking a bit too much in to this Scor.”

“We’ll see.” Scor said as they made way their way towards the main entrance of the outpost.

Almost two hours later both friends were working at their stations within the command centre when an alarm went off. Their superior officer, Commander Ashanthi zh’Becthor, walked out of her office the moment it started. “What’s going on?” she asked.

Scor had announced the colony’s sensor network was detecting a number of Malurian and Nausicaan ships entering the system. Before Thom had a chance to follow out his orders to hail them the base was hit hard as a nuclear detonation was set off.

Two days later

Lieutenant Thomsher ch’Flene hadn’t expected to rise through the ranks so quickly, no longer was he just a junior communication officer, but he was Commander Anthi’s right hand man now. After the attack on the colony the base had been almost destroyed and its staff all, but a few were left dead. Before they abandoned the base, Thom had been able to send out a distress call to the homeworld. If anyone had received it, the survivors would never know as they were now doing their best to endure in the worst conditions ever. After the Malurians had attacked the colony with thermo-nuclear warheads, they had wiped out almost two-thirds of the four settlements that made up the Andorian world. Many colonists were left dead or dying. Those that had survived from Lor’den had been able to evacuate out of the ruined town and were now refugees living in the caves of a nearby range of mountains. The mountains were deep within woodland areas and were filled with an un-categorised metallic alloy that disrupted sensors. It was a perfect hideaway for the state they were in.

Thom, no longer wearing his uniform but civilian clothing in case he was captured, walked through the almost darkened tunnels to the main area where most of the survivors had settled in. Commander Anthi stood in the centre talking to a group, as she saw him, she nodded to them that their conversation was over and looked back at him. “Report lieutenant?” She said after indicating they should walk away from her location and towards the private make-shift room she had put together in the corner of the cavern with a couple of blankets. It acted as her own private office and room.

“One of our recon teams report that Malurian troops are rounding up any surviving colonists and placing them into makeshift camps in Lor’den.” He stated as he took a seat on her bunk bed after she did the same thing and offered him a seat next to her.

She wiped her eyes with the back of her right hand. “Do we know what they’re after?”

He nodded. “One of the Malurian ships has landed on the outskirts of Lor’den and has been spotted offloading mining equipment. My feeling is that they are after the gallicite.”

Anthi nodded in agreement with the lieutenant’s assessment. Docana had a generous amount of gallicite within the planet’s crusts which would be used to build warp coils. It was one of the reasons the colony was established, it was to become one of the Empire’s main mining communities, but they had yet to set up the mines. “What doesn’t make sense though is why the Malurians and Nausicaans are working together on this?” She asked out loud.

“Well none of them are wearing uniforms so they can’t be part of their actual militaries which might mean they’re mercenaries.” Thom theorised. “But what doesn’t make sense with that is if they are mercenaries then they’ve got a lot of guts to attack an Andorian colony to set up a mining station here. How do they plan to hold the planet? Surely they can’t fund that!”

“Maybe they are working together to mine the gallicite, but as you said there’s no way they could fund that themselves as privateers. They must have a wealthy benefactor. Once the rest of the Empire knows what’s happened here, they will strike back.” Anthi said confidently. After she had finished talking there was a brief silence between them as they considered what was going on to their world, in between that time they could hear the refugees outside all moving around, quietly talking within small huddles. 

“We need to collect more intelligence on the size of the occupational force and if possible, get our hands on a communication’s device so we can get in touch with the Imperial Guard.” Thom recommended after standing up and looking at the people outside, all of them with the look of defeat on their expressions. “We could also see if any of the satellites we put into orbit last week are still operational.”

The commander nodded in agreement with Thom’s plan. “We’ll also need to get more food and medicine if we’re to survive this, as well as weapons so we can put together an effective resistance.” Anthi added. “I’m not prepared to live the rest of my life in a cave, waiting for someone to rescue us. When the Imperial Guard does turn up then we need to be ready to help them out.”

Thom leant down to pick up the disruptor gun that was sitting on the floor by the foot of the bed. “Then let’s give our new guests something to think about before we send them packing!” He said with fierce determination in his eyes to his superior officer.

Anthi was taking back, she had not seen this side of her former junior communication officer but as the only survivor of her staff he had changed. She felt it was a good change but she knew from experience that war and death changed people, she only hoped that Thom’s new found sense of confidence was one that wouldn’t make him too arrogant that he misses the bigger picture: the fight to take back Docana and find out why they were attacked in the first place. She couldn’t do all of that if he was dead, she needed his strength and she knew that everyone that was with them needed a new sense of hope and a purpose to continue living. Without them they would fail with what challenges the fates would send them.

Saturday, April 26th, 2155

Challenger NX-03

A heavy silence filled Challenger’s bridge. Everyone was silent as the ship dropped out of warp and with a touch of a button on T’Plau’s station the ship entered tactical alert. Ahead of the Challenger was the rest of the Andorian task force while the Intrepid and Apollo flanked either side of the NX-class ship.  The Earth ships all came to a gradual halt while the Andorian ships pressed on into the Docana system.

“Reading all stop, sir.” Ensign Conrad announced as he looked up from the helm.

Captain Burton had been sitting on the edge of his seat as the ship made its final leg of its journey to Docana, the instant Conrad spoke he sat back but further straighter in it. “Full sensor sweeps everyone; I want to know what’s out there.” He commanded before glancing over to his First Officer. “Commander, co-ordinate our scans with the science officers on the Intrepid and Apollo, I don’t want to miss a thing.”

“Aye captain.” Levesque replied as she quickly got on with carrying out his orders.

Burton remained poised, looking at the ship’s main screen at the image of the empty star field. There was a beep to his right; naturally he swung his chair round to face his Armoury Officer knowing she had something to report. “What is it, Sub Commander?” He asked.

“I am detecting a joint Malurian-Nausicaan armada in the system. Four Malurian cruisers and eight Nausicaan raiders, apart from one Malurian ship, are in orbit of Docana.” The Vulcan combat officer shared.

“Twelve ships?” Commander Stanton queried in disbelief from the engineering station by T’Plau’s side. “Do they really think they could keep the system from the Andorian Imperial Guard with that number?”

“Obviously not, however they may have settled a heavily fortified beachhead on the colony that may make it difficult for the Andorians to re-take.” T’Plau conjectured.

“Well they’re about to lose their hold of the system from up here.” Conrad stated. “The Andorians are moving in at high impulse and are heading straight for the Malurian-Nausicaan ships in orbit.”

“Tactical display on screen.” Burton quickly ordered.

T’Plau pulled up her sensor readings to show the location of all the ships in the system against a map of the six-planet star system. Docana was the third planet from its sun and between their current position and the planet laid an asteroid belt. General Ghelev, the Andorian flag officer leading the battle group, had decided that the Starfleet ships would remain on the edge of the system while her forces engaged with the aggressors.  Once the threat was dealt with Burton’s ship would move in to help out with relief efforts. 

“Sir, something isn’t right here.” Levesque said a second later, her eyes were squinting at the primary monitor at her station. “The lone Malurian ship is up to something.”

Turning in her direction before standing up, Burton looked at her. “Explain Nicole.” He said wanting to know what was going on.

She quickly focussed the main screen onto the lone ship, zooming in on its location and plotting a flight path behind it and in front of it. “Based on its trajectory and the ion wake that it’s left behind from its engines sir, I believe that ship has just come out of the asteroid belt.” She tapped on her console one more time and now brought up a visual of the ship as it sped away towards its allies. She tightened in the image further on its dorsal section. “That’s a launch bay sir, and look its doors are slowly closing, I’m also detecting numerous small amounts of boridium coming from across the belt as well as low level gamma rays.”

The tactical mind inside Burton started to sound alarms, something wasn’t right here. Boridum was used primarily in power cells and gamma rays could come from most things, what could be creating those readings? 

“Turn our attention to the belt, quickly before the Andorians enter it.” Burton ordered.

Levesque did as she was told and began scanning the belt.

While she worked Burton looked at his communications officer. “Ensign share with General Ghelev what we’ve detected and advise her she may want to pull back and awai-” The main screen lit up like a firework display as it registered numerous explosions from the asteroid belt interrupting the captain in mid-sentence. Everyone watched in disbelief as the Andorian ships were pummelled from the explosions from all sides.

“Sir I’m receiving numerous distress calls from the Andorian ships.” Hennessey stated with one finger on his earpiece and the other sorting through the communication traffic now coming in. “We’re being hailed by the flagship, General Ghelev is urgently requesting to talk to you captain.”

“Put it up.” Burton ordered frantically as he observed the chaos that was happening before them.

Once again, the main screen changed, this time the image of an Andorian woman wearing the uniform of an Imperial Guard flag officer appeared. General Thraghelev zh’Zulis was an older woman who, from what Captain Burton had been briefed about from Sub Commander T’Plau, was one of the Guard’s highly recognised and celebrated officers. She was also a close friend and advisor to Chancellor Margerit. Ghelev appeared with numerous cuts along her face and surrounded by her bridge falling apart in flames. “Captain Burton!” She shouted over the pandemonium. “We’ve been hit by a minefield; we’re attempting to fall back to your position as almost all of our ships have been heavily damaged. Please Captain; will you get a message to Andoria about this?”

“We will, General.” Burton said before nodding to Hennessey to send the message to Andoria about what had happened. “We’ll move in to assist you.”

No!” Ghelev shouted. “The Avenkerev has taken heavy damage, we’re attempting to prevent our warp core from breaching, however I don’t think-” She interrupted by an explosion from behind her as more flames and smoke engulfed her bridge. “We don’t have time Captain. I’m transmitting to you and the rest of the fleet my new orders. Captain Lloyd Burton I hereby give you the battlefield commission of Commander as an honouree member of the Andorian Imperial Guard and order you to take command of what’s left of our fleet. Please Captain ensure that Docan is sav-” The signal was cut and the image of the damaged Andorian fleet appeared on the screen.

Burton panicked, “Get her back Ensign!” He shouted to Hennessey.

Hennessey was already trying to the moment the channel was closed. “I’m trying sir, but they’re not picking up from their end!”

Another explosion erupted on the screen followed by two more. Everyone remained shocked. Burton looked to Levesque for answers. She looked at her screen, double checked her readings then looked solemnly at him and shook her head. “The Avenkerev is gone sir and it took two other Andorian ships with it.”

Burton’s body language deflated at the news as he sat slowly down. About halfway down and Ensign Hennessey spoke up. “Sir we received the General’s communication package and I’ve put them through the translation programme” He looked up from his console to face the captain. “She has sent emergency orders that include your battlefield commission and appointment to the Imperial Guard. She was able to transmit it to every other ship in the Andorian task force too.”

There was a slight pause from everyone as they looked at the captain all in silence, wondering what his orders would be. However, he was not the first to speak up. “I want to say congratulations Captain for the appointment in being the first non-Andorian to join the Imperial Guard however I do not believe the current situation is appropriate as the joint Malurian-Nausicaan armada is moving in this direction.” T’Plau announced from the armoury station. If she hadn’t been a Vulcan, then her tone was almost sarcastic. 

“Orders captain?” Stanton asked.

Burton scratched his chin; he knew he had to act fast. “Inform both of our escorts to join us in providing cover for the retreating Andorian ships and inform the entire fleet to fall back beyond the edge of the system.” He commanded. He then looked over to Hennessey, “Ted, open a channel to the Malurian-Nausicaan ships.”

Hennesey was busy tapping away at his console before nodding to his captain, indicating the channel was open.  “Go ahead sir.” He said.

“This is Captain Lloyd Burton of the Earth starship Challenger to the Malurian-Nausicaan fleet approaching.” He paused as he stood up from his chair and began walking around the front of the bridge towards the main screen. “Well done, you’ve crippled the Andorian task force and proven your point. Now I ask you to break off your pursuit of us. You’ve shown us that you’ve taken Docana and are prepared to defend it, however I promise you that if you plan to attack the rest of the Andorian ships and my vessels it will be a huge mistake on your part. Already your hostile actions against our allies will be dealt with from Andoria but I will assure you that if you fire on my ship then not only will you have the Andorian Imperial Guard to deal with but Starfleet and our other allies in the Coalition of Planets.” He paused, hoping his speech may work. “You will be dragging both your worlds into a war against four larger nations that control a number of systems together. Don’t think we won’t respond with the full military might of them. Now I’m prepared to meet to discuss terms but leave this task force in peace and I promise you we will do the same if you’re prepared to talk.” He nodded once to Hennessey to close the channel and turned around to look at everyone else.

“You think they’ll listen sir?” Conrad asked innocently.

“I hope so.” Burton said as he made his way back to stand behind his pilot.

“They have sir, but not in the way you want them to.” T’Plau shared as she brought the tactical display back up on the main screen to show the enemy’s movement. “They are retreating back to their position around Docana and I’m detecting three Nausicaan raiders breaking formation to replenish the mines into the asteroid field. They are fortifying their position.” With the image before, Captain Burton sighed in disbelief. 

They truly were in the thick of it.