Standing at the front of the MACO training room, Major Yu was briefing her unit on their upcoming mission. She had loaded a number of images into the presentation that would appear behind her on the large wall screen and held a remote-control clicker to advance the slides. “Ladies and Gents,” She started with, “This is Lor’den, the biggest settlement on Docana. It was the location of the colony’s administration.” A map and several photographs of the Andorian town appeared in the middle of the screen. Yu pressed the button on her remote and a sensor scan of the same location appeared. “However, this is the most recent and up to date scan that Commander Levesque has been able to get.” The image had a huge difference compared to the map it now overlapped. “As you can see the detonation of the nuclear warhead, almost central of Lor’den has created a blast crater that has almost covered the entire town. There isn’t much left, and the area is still flooded with radiation.”
“Which would mean if the Malurians and Nausicaans have an occupational force down there, they’re either in hazard suits or are located outside of the settlement out of the blast radius.” Staff Sergeant Iyer spoke up from the back row.
Yu didn’t mind Iyer speaking up on this occasion. She knew how eager her soldiers were to do something and when Commodore Burton ordered her to begin putting a plan together to send MACOs down to Docana to begin reconnaissance and possibly secure a foothold she was more than happy to put a plan together. “Exactly my thoughts too Rupesh.” She answered. “We still don’t know enough to determine what they’re up to and why they invaded the planet, but it will be our job to give Challenger and the fleet the intelligence it needs to take back the planet. With the high amount of nuclear radiation in the area and a number of natural interfering elements, sensor sweeps won’t give them an accurate picture.”
“Also, if we discover any survivors, we should be able to secure them and hopefully help them to get off the planet.” First Lieutenant al-Fayyad added.
“Indeed.” Yu said, she wasn’t as confident as her deputy in finding anyone, she couldn’t imagine anyone surviving the brutal attack the Malurians and Nausicaans had unleashed on Docana. “We’ll have exactly six hours to get as much information before we need to return to the ship to prevent any of us becoming six from the radiation. Questions?” She looked around the room and saw that Second Lieutenant Luis Trommler had his hand up. “Go ahead lieutenant.”
“Ma’am, I hate to ask this but am I assuming with us all here that we are all going?” The young German officer asked.
Yu replied, “You assume correctly Mister Trommler.” She looked at all of their faces. This would be the first big unit operation they would have carried out since the ship’s launch. “Everyone will gear up and report to the transporter bay within half an hour. Once the Commodore gives us the word, we’re going.”
Another question, this time it was Private Jenkins who had his hand up. “Ma’am,” He said, sounding almost nervously.
Yu liked the way the young British man said ma’am, unlike how Americans or Canadians said it; he would make it sound more like marm. She gestured for him to carry on speaking.
“If we’re all going, who is left to defend the ship?” Jenkins asked.
Yu placed her hands behind her as she walked towards where the Private sat next to Trommler, his squad leader. “The Armoury Department will do that. The Commodore wants us on the ground.” She looked around the room one more time and was satisfied they understood what they would be doing. “Alright people, you’re dismissed. Go get yourselves prepped.”
The entire MACO unit filed out of the room and into the locker room where they all began to put on their gear. Yu was the last one out and walked alongside her deputy. “Khawla, tell me do you think they’re ready for this?” She asked.
The Egyptian woman just smiled back at her leader. “They’ve been ready for ages Major; I promise you that!”
Yu returned the smile and followed the First Lieutenant to get her equipment together.
Almost twenty minutes later the entire MACO detachment was approaching the transporter bay. All of them were kitted out in their EVA suits and heavily armed. Commodore Burton stood nearby waiting for their arrival alongside Lieutenant Ben-Ami with her medical staff.
“Come to wish us farewell Commodore?” Yu asked in an almost cheery tone. Both of them knew what they would be undertaking, if all went to plan, would not be a joyful part of the mission.
Burton smiled awkwardly at her and the others behind her. “Something like that.” He returned before turning to look at the Israeli woman behind her. “The good doctor needs to inject you all with something that will help against the radiation, in particular stopping you all from getting sick quickly down there.”
Yu nodded in approval of what Ben-Ami was going to offer them. “Just in case the EVA suits fail us?” She asked, looking at the captain directly in the eyes as Ben-Ami injected her first with the medication into her neck.
“Something like that.” He repeated before extending hand towards her. “Good luck Major.”
Taking his hand in her gloved one, Major Yu shook it. “Thank you, sir, and to you.”
Burton released his hand from Yu’s and looked at the men and women before him all dressed in MACO EVA suits. “I want to see you all back in one piece, understood?” He bellowed to them all.
“Aye Commodore!” They all shouted back and every single MACO saluted their commanding officer. Burton departed from there after returning the salute.
Private Liam Jenkins watched as the Starfleet captain-recently turned commodore went his way away from them. Major Yu had told them all of Burton’s “promotion” to commodore however Burton had refused to change out of his captain’s uniform. Yu had said it had something to do with naval tradition, something he would learn more later on. His concentration was interrupted by the familiar touch of someone’s fingers on his neck. Instantly he smiled as he turned to see who it was. He wasn’t disappointed. “Hey.” He uttered to the blue eyes that met his dark brown ones.
Ensign Stewart gave him a half-hearted smile in reply. “Hi.” He added before lifting his other hand that contained the hypospray that he would be using to inject the soldiers with. “This will tingle a bit.” Stewart remarked as he pressed it against Jenkins’ neck.
Jenkins winced at the cold metallic feel against his skin as he inclined in and whispered in Stewart’s ear. “Wouldn’t be the first time you’ve given me a tingle.” He then leant back again and gave him a seductive wink.
Blushing at his boyfriend’s words, Stewart tilted to his right as he pulled something out of his leg pocket and pushed it into Jenkins’ free hand that wasn’t carrying his helmet. “Take this and promise me you’ll come back.”
Jenkins opened his hand and saw a silver medallion attached to a silver chain. He rubbed his thumb and index finger over it and noticed the embedded picture of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, instantly he recognised it as the one that his boyfriend wore all the time. It was his good luck charm; he had worn it since joining Starfleet. “I can’t take this Niall.” He quickly hissed. “Your brother gave you this.”
“Then you best not lose it, or Craig will be after you!” Stewart replied before kissing his beloved on the lips quickly and then moving on to the next person in the line.
Jenkins just nodded and mouthed “I love you” to Stewart before moving away. He hadn’t been paying attention to where he was walking and straight away bumped into his team’s leader. He stopped and looked up at Second Lieutenant Trommler. “Whoops, sorry sir.”
“Pay attention to where you’re going next time, Jenkins.” Trommler remarked in his light German accent before seeing that the young private was holding something in his hands. “What’s that?”
“A good luck charm sir.” Jenkins nervously answered.
“From Ensign Stewart?” Trommler enquired.
“Then you best wear it.” The lieutenant stated offering to help him put it on. “We’ll need all the luck in the universe.”
“Aye sir.” Jenkins responded as he turned around to let him put the chain on him. “Thank you, sir.” He said as Trommler finished.
Lloyd Burton walked away from his MACOs as they began their final preparations for their mission along the corridors of D deck. He couldn’t help feeling guilty in sending them into such a dangerous environment. He was placing all of their lives in danger. Every single MACO had a loved one that would end up blaming him if they returned to Earth in a casket draped over with the United Earth flag. Though his MACOs wouldn’t be the only ones that could end up in that state, he had an entire crew that could find themselves in similar situations. He shook his head as he tried to forget those thoughts. Madison had told him, after her first year in commanding Voyager, that she hated that type of decision making. She always felt she needed to find an alternative, she never felt that her first choice should be to send someone into harm’s way. There was always a better choice that she just had to find.
Instead of taking a left towards the lift, Burton made a right and shortly found himself entering Engineering. After closing the large hatch door behind him he made his way over to his acting chief engineer, Lieutenant Masuko, who was standing on the reactor control platform alongside Ensign Metaxas. “Sakura, Theo please tell me you haven’t broken anything in Commander Stanton’s absence?” He called up to them.
The Japanese woman and Greek man both turned around to look down at them. Instantly Masuko climbed down to join her commanding officer and greeted him with a smile. “I promise you sir that Commander Stanton will be highly pleased with how well we’ve kept his engineering room tidy.”
“Excellent.” Burton said as he looked around the room.
Masuko followed Burton’s eye line, trying to figure out what he was looking for. “Was something you wanted sir?”
Burton shook his head. “No, nothing in particular lieutenant. Carry on.” He ordered before leaving her and engineering. He wanted to take one more glimpse around his ship as he had this god-awful feeling in his gut that was telling him something was going to go wrong. Eventually he walked away and entered the lift that would take him to the bridge.
Once the lift had arrived at its destination the door hadn’t finished opening when he heard someone shouting, “Commodore on the bridge!”
Everyone stood up to attention as he walked out and made his way to his chair. The bridge still didn’t feel completely right as it was missing a couple of key players: T’Plau at tactical and Hathaway at the helm. “As you were.” He ordered as he sat down and looked at his First Officer. “Anything Nicole?” He pleaded.
She shook her head. “Not yet sir, however they’ve still got a few more minutes.”
Burton turned his chair back to centre and faced the main screen, they needed to wait for Stanton’s team to send them the signal to come in and the clock was running out.
Gradually piloting the small craft through the asteroid field, Ensign Conrad could feel his arm aching from how tight he was holding the joystick in front of him. His eyes were hurting too from the amount of concentration he had to do as well. Not only was he trying to avoid the asteroids but the mines as well. He was pretty pleased that the Romulans had not bothered to use their stealth technology to hide these mines as it would have made their mission a lot more difficult.
“You’re doing great Jack.” Commander Stanton assured him from over his left shoulder.
“Thanks sir, just pull that trigger when you’re ready.” Conrad said.
“That would be an illogical action to take Ensign as it would most likely cause serious damage to the Shuttlepod and reduce our chances of surviving our return to Challenger.” T’Plau stated.
“I’m with the Sub Commander on that one.” Hennessey jumped in with.
The young pilot chuckled as he continued their journey home. He was still pondering over that message they had intercepted from Docana survivors. He hoped they were still alive. Then the proximity alarm went off.
“Oh, oh.” Stanton said as he read the screen in front of him.
“A Malurian cruiser is on an intercept course for us. We have been detected.” T’Plau announced as she quickly worked on her controls. “I am bringing up the minefield detonation sequence.”
“For what?” Stanton frantically asked.
T’Plau looked over at him. “The single-phase cannon on this craft will not be enough to defend us Commander from that craft. If we detonate the mines in their path, then we may have a chance of survival.”
“And get us caught in the shockwave too!” Stanton worriedly said back.
“Not if Ensign Conrad increases our speed to maximum and stays ahead of the blast radius.” T’Plau calmly replied.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence Sub Commander.” Conrad remarked. He took a breath. “Commander, she’s right we’ve got no choice in the matter. Our orders are to make a distraction and it seems like we will. We won’t be able to make it back to the ship from here, but I can plot a course towards Docana. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to land on the planet and await rescue from there if we take damage.”
Stanton paused for a moment, but Hennessey didn’t give him a chance to think quietly. “Again, I’m with the Sub Commander. Let’s blow them up!” The communications officer remarked.
Stanton smirked at how trigger happy the communication officer was becoming. “Alright do it!” He ordered.
T’Plau nodded and sent the signal out.
A single alarm went off by Levesque’s side. She looked up at Burton and nodded.
“Tactical alert!” Burton commanded, “Ensign Hathaway, take us in. Ensign Larsen, tell the fleet to follow us in.”
Two “Aye sirs” answered his orders and the ship moved on its way towards their plan. The ship jumped to warp for a couple of minutes and was surrounded by the combined Human-Andorian task force.
“The Malurians are moving their forces towards the decoy, a number of mines have been detonated in the area. Perhaps more than we planned.” Levesque announced.
“What do you mean Nicole?” Burton asked as he held tightly on to his chair’s arms.
“The blast yields I’m detecting are twice the amount that we planned for.” She answered. “More mines have been set off.”
“Stanton must have a reason for it. Let’s hope they’ve survived it.” Burton said. “Status of the Malurian and Nausicaan ships?”
“It looks like apart from two cruisers remaining in orbit the rest have gone to investigate the decoy, but I can’t get a positive fix on those near to the asteroid belt. There’s too much interference from the minefield.” Levesque stated.
“And our gateway?” Burton asked, referring to the hole that Stanton was going to make for them.
She nodded as the sensors read another explosion in the spot they would be coming in from. “It’s just opened for us. We’re clear to enter.”
“Brilliant!” Burton exclaimed with a grin appearing on his face. “Ensign Hathaway, drop us out of warp and proceed under full impulse. Take us in!”
“Aye, aye commodore!” The Scottish pilot replied.
Imperial Bird-of-Prey ChR Dhivael
The Dhivael’s scanners were registering the entire chaos happening before them. T’Voras couldn’t believe his eyes, how the hell did the Malurians set off the minefield when they entered it to chase down the unidentified intruder? That question he decided had to remain unanswered for now as they analysed the situation and determined the best course of action. On the tactical readout before him he could see the entire Malurian-Nausicaan armada breaking orbit from Docana and heading towards the minefield. More mines were going off, meaning that ships were entering it. How the hell had they not seen them coming in? T’Voras was certain the Andorsu devils had found a way past their sensors and were most likely trying to again, this time he was certain their Hevam allies would be with them.
Another alarm went off and this time it indicated the detonation of another part of the minefield. Instantly he recognised what was going on. They had somehow been able to gain access to the controls of the minefield and were detonating one part as a decoy while detonating another part to allow their ships in. Furiously he slammed his fist down on the control.
“Morek, tell the Malurians and Nausicaans to fall back to Docana at once! They are being tricked!” He spat out.
The operation officer quickly shook his head. “I’m sorry Commander but the explosions are causing interference in getting a signal to the Malurian and the Nausicaan ships. We can’t reach them!”
Rage began to feel T’Voras’ veins, he wouldn’t be defeated like he was before. “Detonate the entire minefield!” He ordered.
Morek looked at him. “But sir the Malurian and Nausicaan ships are in there!”
“I know, but I won’t have an incoming Andorsu and Hevam fleet approach the planet! Do it!” T’Voras ordered in a last-ditch effort to desperately regain control of his victory.
Nodding in allegiance to his superior officer, Morek carried out his orders and sent out the signal to detonate the entire minefield. Before he pressed the last command input his display board bleeped at him. “Sir sensors are picking up the starship Ch’lenjer leading a combined fleet. They’re coming out of the asteroid field now!”
“Then detonate those mines now!” T’Voras screamed.
Morek did as he was told and sent the last command.
The ship rocked hard from one side to the next several times, knocking most of the crew off of their feet and crashing into the deck plate before them. Burton found himself laid flat on the floor of the bridge and quickly pushed himself up the moment he was able to. He looked up and saw everyone else doing the same as the ship calmed down.
“We’re blind!” Levesque said as she crawled up and sat herself back at her station and read what her screen was saying. “Sensors are resetting but they detected a massive explosion. Looks like someone detonated the entire minefield!”
“It looks like the Malurians and Nausicaans got desperate and tried a final effort to stop us, Commodore.” Cortez remarked as she got back into her chair at tactical.
Burton tapped the button built into his chair’s arm. “Engineering report!”
“Ensign Metaxas here sir, we’re just trying to assess the damage now!” answered the Greek engineer.
“Where’s Lieutenant Masuko?” Burton called back.
“Lieutenant Masuko has been injured sir and is currently on her way to sickbay sir.” Metaxas came back with. “Sir we don’t have warp drive, but we do have impulse and tactical systems.”
“Good, get the warp drive back online Ensign.” Burton ordered as he closed the channel.
“I’ve got sensors.” Levesque said a second later. “Looks like the Malurians and Nausicaans have lost almost every single ship apart from those two still in orbit.” She read out. Then she paused. “Lloyd, the Apollo has lost its port nacelle. It’s heavily damaged and adrift.”
“Damn it!” Burton cursed. He looked over at Larsen at communications. “Erik, do we still have the comms?”
The Swede nodded. “Yes sir.”
“Then tell Captain Ramirez to secure the Apollo at once.” Burton ordered. He looked at Levesque. “What about the rest of the fleet?”
“It doesn’t look like the Andorians took such a beating compared to the Apollo.” Levesque conveyed as she carried on reading what the sensors were telling her.
“Good, then we can move forward to Docana.” He told her as he looked back at the display in front of them. “Ensign Cortez ready all weapons. Prepare to fire on my command.”
Imperial Bird-of-Prey ChR Dhivael
“You’ll pay for your treachery T’Voras!” Garos spat at his screen. “The deaths of so many of my people will haunt you for a lifetime!”
“Your empty threats are just that Garos! Get yourself out of here, I won’t have the Hevam or Andorsu capture you or anyone else and share our plans with them!” T’Voras stated.
“You do not order me around T’Voras!” Garos threw back, his anger still remaining high.
“When the Romulan Star Empire invests into something then it becomes their property. Unfortunately, it would seem this transaction was a foolish one that had a short life expectancy.” T’Voras returned and then gestured for Morek to close the channel. The moment the main screen went dead he looked at his pilot. “Centurion Rarek, plot a course that places us above the colony.”
“Yes Commander.” Rarek responded.
“Decurion Selok,” T’Voras stated looking over at his female weapon’s officer. “Fire a spread of warheads against the colony. I don’t want a trace of them left on the planet.”
“At once Commander T’Voras.” She replied.
“Sir I’m picking up another ship entering sensor range.” Cortez shouted from tactical. “It’s coming out of orbit below the planet’s southern pole.”
“Can we identify them?” Burton asked as he looked at his acting chief armoury officer. Dread entered his stomach and he hoped that it wasn’t any more Malurian or Nausicaan ships.
She gulped before answering. “Sir it’s a Romulan ship.”
“Lock weapons.” Burton automatically ordered and gave Levesque a quick glance, one that she returned. Both of them were reading each other’s thoughts, the Romulans were finally showing their faces in this incident and it would become public knowledge of their involvement.
Levesque went back to monitoring the situation. “Sir the Romulans are opening fire not at us but at the planet. It looks like they’re launching nuclear warheads!” She paused as she registered where the Romulans were aiming. “They’re targeting the settlements and other richer areas of resources.”
“What?” Burton quizzed, confused at what the Romulans were up to. As he said this he stood up. “Onscreen.” He commanded.
The image of the green hawkish ship appeared, as it launched volley after volley of missiles towards the planet. In the corner of the screen the mushroom clouds could be seen exploding across the planet’s landscape as they hit the ground below. The ship then stopped its assault before moving away as the final two Malurian ships began to chase after it. All three ships soon entered warp, with the Romulans in high speed attempting to flee the Malurians.
“What the hell just happened there?” Burton asked out aloud. Where the Romulans helping the Malurians and Nausicaans? Or were they taking advantage of the situation of the defenceless Andorian world?
“I don’t know sir, but they’ve gone.” Levesque finally answered him as her sensors told her the aggressors could no longer be seen.
Burton just shook his head in dismay as he continued to watch the devastation develop on Docana as the Romulan strike with nuclear warheads continued to spread. The Romulans truly didn’t want the Andorians to have their planet back.