Hiding within the confines of the access tubes were Major Caidin, First Lieutenant Trommler and Second Lieutenant Levy with Lieutenant Commander Meihui and two of her engineers, Lieutenant Crawford and Lieutenant JG Duncan-Leclerc. Currently sat within a junction, the group were just taking a moment to get to grips to what had happened and get their bearings. The MACOs had been defending engineering when the Orions had boarded and were able to pull the engineers into a crawlway access before they were captured.
With a first aid kit in his hands, Trommler was doing his best to patch up Duncan-Leclerc who had been injured during the battle. The young engineer had been hit in the left shoulder by what looked like a whip filled with plasma energy. The others appeared to be ensuring their location was secure.
“So what’s the plan?” Duncan-Leclerc asked, wincing from the pain as Trommler treated him. “The Orions must be pissed that the captain has locked them out of every system.”
“Knowing my husband, I’m sure he doesn’t plan on giving those codes up.” Trommler remarked as he looked over to the chief engineer and his unit commander. “Which means we can’t let them get their hands on Commander Meihui either. If they get a sniff of her, they may think she could override them.”
“But she can’t,” Leclerc explained. “The lockout system is one of the new programs that Starfleet installed as part of the new upgrades for counter-measures against the Romulan tele-presence capturing abilities. Only the captain has those codes.”
“But the commander is the chief engineer.” Trommler remarked. “Orions won’t stop, will they major?”
“Not if there is a profit or advantage to be gained.” Caidin replied as she checked the power remaining in her pistol’s energy pack. Less then 30% remaining, and most of that had just been on suppression bursts to cover the retreat…not great. “If I was an Orion, who else would I think would have those codes or the ability to bypass them?”
“Well along with Khadijah and George here, I’d reckon the only other person they may attempt to use is Lieutenant Ricci, being the communication officer he might be able to crack the codes but it would take some attempt.” Trommler suggested.
“Then we need to ensure they can’t by-pass the captain’s lockouts.” Duncan-Leclerc proposed after Trommler finished fixing him with a giant white plaster over his wound. “We should try and reach the computer and completely disengage the entire network. A bit of sabotage that would slow down their process.”
“We need to get you treated first George.” Trommler reminded him of the injury he had. “Perhaps if sickbay is empty we could head there?”
Xiang looked back at the men, “really think that would be a good idea? I mean that might be one place Orion’s might be.” Xiang replied as she tried to think of something but nothing was coming to mind at the moment as it was all over the place.
”That depends entirely on how effective the Orions have been ship-wide in their take over.” The Major mused, as she began to check on her remaining gear…a single stun grenade and her collapsible stun baton. She silently cursed, regretting using her pulse rifle to block a devasting blow from the Orion who had charged her with a kinetic hammer…not that it would be of much use in the confined spaces of the service tunnels and vent-shafts. “…Orions will target a sickbay for three main reasons. Prisoners, Drugs, and Healing their own. Prisoners are often secured as possible, especially doctors…trained physicians are high-value targets for the slave trade or indenture into the Syndicate.”
Saorise paused, her briefly drifting back to think of all the surgeries and experimentation she had been subjected too…how many of those carrying out the procedures, had been victims themselves?
“Drugs should be self-explanatory.” She continued, snapping back to the present predicament. “Medical supplies are also quite valuable plunder in general….both supplies and slaves can be raided and moved off to more secure locations rather quickly, after which they might leave a single guard to secure the area, but otherwise ignore it….which leaves, tending to their own injured…and that can be a more laborious and time consuming process, which would definitely include multiple Orions in the room.”
“Nevertheless, the Endeavour‘s environmental controls can be accessed from sickbay. As a last resort, we could gas the ship with anaesthetics.” Trommler suggested, “Last time I checked the good doctor had access to the best. Axonol, neurozine, anaesthazine. We could access the ventilation system and simulate a ship wide biohazard, making the computer think there was a microbiotic contamination on all decks.”
Duncan-Leclerc tried to sit himself up as he supported the lieutenant’s idea, “That could work, it would force all of the ventilation systems to open automatically and allow us to release the gas. Plus the computer encryption lockout wouldn’t affect the environmental controls.”
“The only downside is we end up knocking out the rest of the crew as well,” Trommler said, with a sense of annoyance in his tone. “There’s no way we could deal with the Orion ships with just us six manning the ship.”
Saorise sighed and leaned back against the tube-wall bulkhead. “That is true…Even if we could rig this vessel for that much automation in time…the other Orion ships would just tractor us, and then send in teams with environmental protection…or worse, just blow us up and settle for making a lesser profit off the scrap…they’d have to split it fewer ways as well, what with all the now-dead Orions floating around our wrecked vessel…however…maybe we could get the Orions to vacate the area, rapidly…Commander Xiang, how similar are the systems in this vessel to the original NX-specs?”
Looking at her, “they are similar, the difference would be the warp and impulse engines that are separate with a secondary computer core in the stardrive section to help handle the two engines.” Xiang replied, “and the Columbia is a bit bigger than the NX.” She added looking at her wondering if she even read the specs on the ship before coming on board.
“Could we rig it to ‘fake’ a warp core breach?” The Major asked. “I remember reading the mission logs of the NX-01 during a tactical briefing…they once forced a bunch of enemy combatants to vacate the vessel and the surrounding space, by faking an overload of some key systems and applying some…pyrotechnic theatrics. Bought them time to escape…we’d just have to hit anyone who decided to lollygag around to bring loot or captives with them.”
She looked at her and thought, “it could be possible but do you really think that they can be fooled?” Xiang replied as she thought about what Trommler had said, “back to your suggestion about sleeping gas. They would likely have two guards outside of the cargo bay so no one can try to escape, it would be possible to seal the vents going into the cargo bay before pumping the ship of sleeping gas.” Xiang replied looking back at them, “we can free our crew, and defeat the Orions,” she replied.
Khadijah looked at the chief, “I believe that would work.” She added looking at the others as well.
“Why can’t we do both?” Trommler offered. “If we knock out the Orions, we’ll have more room to simulate a warp core breach.”
Tali had not expected things to take the path that was currently unfolding, but she knew as a MACO to always expect the unexpected. She shook her head at the fact that she didn’t do a better job of defending this ship. She sat and listened to the conversation of the others. “I do believe the gas would be a viable option to neutralize the hold the Orions hold on the ship. The fact of the matter is for any plan to work we will have to split up and go to different areas. I know that is not the most ideal thing, but if we want a chance of getting the Orions off the ship I feel it is the best option we have.”
“So who has the last say on what we do?” Trommler asked, looking at both the major and the chief engineer.
“Technically speaking Lieutenant Commander Meihui holds the senior most position after the captain, Commander Leonov and Doctor Wishmore.” Duncan-Leclerc remarked, wincing from his injuries. “She’s the ship’s third officer in the chain of command.”
She nodded, “very well we will do both.” Xiang replied as she looked at everyone, “once we get to sickbay Major Caidin I’ll need you and your team to keep watch as myself and Lieutenant Crawford work on closing the vents to the cargo bay. Once that is done we will release the gas to the whole ship save for medical.” Xiang replied as she took a breath, “once that is done and we will clear the air, you and your team will head down to the cargo bay to free the remaining crew. Myself, Crawford, and Levy will head down to engineering to secure and begin the simulated warp core breach.” Xiang finished looking at everyone, “Any questions?” She asked.
”Yes. I’d like to take a slight detour on the way to sickbay.” Caidin said. “It’s only a small one, and I can then come at sickbay from an alternate direction, which will allow me to provide cover and a distraction while you exit the vent, should any Green Goons be there.”
Looking at her for a brief moment, “understood.” Xiang replied as she waited for the others to respond.
Trommler just nodded in agreement with the plan. He truly hoped that his husband wouldn’t have any issue with it.
Tali gave a thumbs-up as her mind began working on just what might be the outcome of their plans. She hadn’t said much, but she could tell there were a lot of people chiming in. She would only say something if it was needed.