Rebecca stepped from the chaos of the lower decks to the chaos of a command center in crisis. The bridge was hardly recognizable now bathed in shadows broken by the flashing red alert beacons. Half the consoles were dead, and wires and conduit hung from the shattered remains of the ceiling.
“Where’s the captain?” She demanded.
“His last known position was on Deck 5. We aren’t reading his combadge, ” the operations officer replied.
Rebecca didn’t waste time, “Helm, evasive action Kirk-Epsilon-Five. Tactical fire at targets of opportunity.”
“Aye Commander,” Stephens said putting the ship into action dodging incoming weapons fire as best as possible.
Cheon moved over one of the remanding consoles that were active and transfer the tactical systems to it. The monitor flickered every so often as if it were struggling to maintain a constant power supply to it. “This is going to be harder than I thought,” he said out loud, a hand came down on his shoulder and he looked to see his wife on the bridge. She had a smile on her face and he knew then and there that things were going to be all right. He nodded to her and returned his attention to the console, “Commander, I do not have port and starboard controls of the weapons,” he stated as tried once more to move the targeting array left and right. “I will need assistance from helms.”
“I will do my best to give you every clear shot I can Cheon”
The fighters closed in and as they closed in range they lashed out with their energy weapons shaking the already battered ship. “Minimal damage to ventral shielding,” Ops announced.
Small mercies, Rebecca thought to herself. She trusted Thomas to pilot the ship better than she could strategize. “Mr. Stephens keep them off our backs the best you can. Ops is there anything near here? Gas giant? Nebula?” They needed to disappear off the Jem’Hadar’s radar.
“There’s a class three nebula bearing 181 mark 25,” Ops reported.
“Thomas, did you get that?”
“Aye commander. I see the nebula. It would be a good place to throw them off our tracks”
“Belay that,” Cheon yelled as he spun around and placed a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. “That nebula is behind us, which means we would be heading further away from Federation space. Not that I think that the Jem’Hadar gives to shits about that.”
Reaching up he tapped his combadge, “Mister Lovecroft how much time do you need to get that impulse engine to at a minimum of let us say 35%?”
Burkely heard Cheon and did some rough estimating in his head. “Three minutes,” he yelled out.
A smile crossed Cheon’s busted lips, and he gave a gentle squeeze to Rebecca’s shoulder, “Captain follow me.”
Moving with a renewed purpose he lead Rebecca to a table that was part of strategic operations. Bringing up the current situation he pointed out that they were only 3 sectors away from the nearest Federation-controlled area, and then he showed how the Jem’Hadar and the Cardassians were gaining on them.
“If we drop our warp core here,” he pointed on the table, “and wait for our pursuers to get to here,” just outside of the cores signature, “the blast should be enough to vaporize them and end the threat to us.”
“If we blow up the core that eliminates the Jem’Hadar, but creates a new problem. We are stranded decades from Federation space at impulse. We’re hoping that the Federation will come and rescue us before a Dominion patrol blows us to bits, and my money is Starfleet thinks we’re dead.”
The ship shuddered again, this time more violently. A console overloaded sending debris and sparks everywhere.
“The only problem then is if our impulse engines can get us to here,” he taps on the table where the nearest satellite was stationed. “and outrun the shock wave that the core is going to produce, and prey to go that we survive that a Federation ship finds us before another Dominion patrol finds us.”
“It’s a good plan Cheon, just not a good plan for us now. Once we enter the nebula we can make repairs, and get back to Starbase 75. I have way more trust in this crew than I do in a hypothetical rescue that we can’t even call for because it would draw the Dominion down on us.”
Cheon gritted his teeth behind a closed as he looked at the option that Rebecca wanted to use. The nebula was definitely closer but it was also further away from the Federation. Resigning for now he nodded.
While the Commander and Cheon were talking Thomas had transferred tactical to his station and was keeping busy both flying the ship and returning fire at the enemy vessels. “Just my 2 cents Ma’am and Sir losing the warp core is the last thing we want to do right now. With impulse at 35%, there is no way we would outrun the explosion before we were overtaken by the Dominion”
“Get us to the nebula,” Rebecca ordered. “Give it everything we got.”
“Main power is offline. We’ve sustained major damage to the port nacelle and we’re trailing drive plasma,” Operations reported. “Rerouting emergency power to aft shields.”
“Rerouting all other power that we can spare to the engines. Getting us into that nebula.”
Lovecroft swore up and down as coolant began to flow from around the core, “Everyone, evacuate!” he yelled as he moved over to a console and began to punch in commands trying to reroute the coolant into exhaust ports.
“Bridge to Engineering,” Cheon said knowing that only two possibilities were happening.
“Little busy Commander,” Lovecroft replied, “We have a major coolant leak that I am attempting to reroute.”
“Captain,” Cheon’s voice was smooth as silk as he spoke.
“Impulse engines are failing,” Ops called out as another system failed under the attack.
Rebecca was gripping the armrests of the captain’s chair. Turning back to Cheon she nodded. They were out of options. “Prepare to detonate to the core. Eject at your earliest convenience, Mr. Cheon. Ops route everything you have to aft shields. Take it from life support if you have to.”
A sudden calm came over Cheon and he place his hand on Rebecca’s shoulder once more. “Don’t worry I have a feeling that the Denver will survive.”
She nodded, “Well, I guess if we don’t we won’t have much time to worry about it.”
Cheon exited out of the Jefferys Tube just outside of Engineering and rushed to Burkely. Sweat shined on his skin as he looked at the Chief Engineer, “Remind me to file a complaint to Starfleet about the location of the Jeffery Tubes locations,” he jokingly stated as both men began to enter in their command codes for the ejection of the core.
Lovecroft shook his head, “If we make it out of this alive I plan on doing more than that, Sir,” he stated as he entered the last part of his command code into the computer.
There was a sudden flash and the central part of the engineering bay suddenly became shielded as the bottom half of the Denver split open and the central column of mater and anti-mater slipped away.
Reaching up he tapped his combadge, “Now Mister Stephens, punch it and give it all we have.”
Turning back to Burkely, “Commander let us give him all the power we can,” Cheon stated as he removed a panel from the wall, Burkely nodded, and the two of them began stinting everything toward the impulse engines, hoping and praying that it was enough.
Rebecca sat back in her chair and braced for all hell to be unleashed. Thumbing the all-call she spoke, “All hands this is your first officer, brace for impact.”
“Routing all power to engines” Stephens announced as he attempted to get the Denver out of the blast radius.
“Do what you can,” Rebecca ordered. “Use RCS thrusters too.”
The explosion was something Rebecca had never experienced. It seemed like she could feel it to her bones. Then there was the sickening feeling of falling as Denver nosed over and started to tumble out of control. The operations panel exploded and the blonde operations officer fell lifeless to the deck her body lying with unnatural limpness.
Then came the secondary explosions that could only be the Jem’Hadar fighters being ripped apart. That Shockwave hit nearly as hard as the first. For some reason, she wondered if this was what it was like to ride a barrel over Niagara Falls.
More flashes and pops from overloaded consoles and EPS conduits and the bridge fell silent and dark. There wasn’t even emergency lighting. There was a silence she didn’t even know was possible. And then she became aware of a sensation of weightlessness.
The shock wave was….different. That is the only way Thomas could explain it. There was no sound from the explosion. It was just silence. Then the Denver started exploding. Ops blew up killing the pretty blonde there… ah the missed opportunities there…All of these thoughts were going through his mind as the helm overloaded, luckily he was able to react early enough that he was not actually touching the station when it exploded. Thomas still finds himself being propelled backward through the air as the gravity failed. Luckily he was alive.
The ship was tumbling stern over the bow with a slight roll to starboard. Inertia was carrying the badly damaged ship along towards the nebula that they were heading for. The saucer was dark, but there were still lights on in the more protected drive section.
Cheon placed a hand on Aoife’s shoulder moments before being tossed as the shockwave hit Denver. He watched as if time seemed to slow down. Every spark and piece of metal that was in the engineering bay looked all the more vivid and out of place as he soar through the air. Moments later time sped back up and he ended up on his back a few feet away.
He could not help but laugh as that had caught him off guard. “On of a bitch,” he groaned out as he rolled onto his stomach and shook his head, “Did anyone see the registration of that ship that just ran me over?” he said in a jokingly tone as he sat on his knee.
Reaching up he tapped his combadge and realized that all power was down. “Chief!” Cheon yelled as he suddenly felt weightlessness followed by gravity and then weightlessness. He then put it together that the ship was tumbling.
Lovecroft was looking down at Aoife when she suddenly for a moment began to float, it was then that he realized that Cheon was yelling toward him. Grabbing the crewmen he pulled her to him as he instinctively grabbed a railing. “Crewmen,” he said in an authoritative tone as he took her hand and placed it on the railing, “Don’t move.”
“I don’t plan on it sir,” her face was pale from shock
“Commander,” Lovecroft yelled as he moved to Cheon.
Cheon looked over at Lovecroft as he remained kneeling. Lovecroft helped the Commander to his feet, “Chief we’re tumbling,” Cheon stated as his feet reconnected with the decking. “Plus I can’t seem to connect with the bridge.”
“Go,” Lovecroft stated, “I’ll see what I can do from down here.”
“Life support is down in the saucer section,” Aoife said staring down at the console in front of her. “Commander there might not be anyone left alive up there. I recommend transferring command control down here. ”She entered commands bringing up navigational control. “Impulse engines and inertial dampers offline. Attempting to stabilize the ship by firing RCS thrusters.”
With the inertial dampers offline when she fired the RCS thrusters in an attempt to right the ship she was flung head over heels over the console and slammed unceremoniously into the far bulkhead. “I didn’t account for inertia, but at least they weren’t tumbling anymore,” she muttered softly and then blacked out.
Aoife woke later. How long she had been out she hadn’t the foggiest clue, but gravity generators had been restored. She clutched her right arm to her body, as she sat against the isolation door that separated the reaction chamber from engineering. Everything hurt, and she couldn’t tell if she was blind in her right eye or if blood was just preventing her from seeing. Her head pounded, and her stomach felt like it wanted to be inside out.
Why is the tactical officer here? She wondered dimly. Did he say adrift? That doesn’t make any sense we have a warp core. Life support is offline in the saucer? How did that happen? That seemed to clear her head a little bit. She was still a little out of it, but the events of the last few moments were falling into place.
Aoife struggled to her feet and staggered to the master situation table. “we need to rescue any survivors in the saucer section. Do we have transporters to beam the crew? If not, perhaps we could land a shuttle pod inside of Cargo Bay 5 and connect the pod’s fusion reactors to the cargo bay’s transporter.”
Lovecroft placed one of his massive hand’s on Aoife’s shoulders, “One step at a time, crewman,” he said. “First we need to find out if there are any survivors, and then come up with a plan, and since you thought of it, I would like you to lead the team that finds out,” he stated as a smile crossed over his lips, re-opening his busted lip. “Oh and Crewmen, you might need this,” he reached into the sleeve pocket of his torn uniform and pulls out a new insignia that has three chevron’s,” You’re now my ACEO,” he stated as he tossed the insignia badge to her, “That is unless you don’t want it Petty Officer First Class McKenzie.” He cocked his head to the side and raised his left eyebrow up in a challenging gesture.
She looked at it, and tossed it back, “Keep it warm for me when I’ve actually earned it sir. Internal sensors are shot, and a deck-by-deck survey in EVA suits would take too long. How about we kill two birds with one stone. I’ll launch a shuttlepod from Shuttlebay 2 and use the shuttle’s sensors to scan for life signs. If there’s no one alive I can just return to the shuttlebay. If there are survivors I can proceed directly to Cargo Bay 5.”
Lovecroft caught the badge and grinned, he thought to himself, ‘Oh you have already earned this, you just now need to realize it.’ He slid the badge back into the sleeve pocket and nodded, “It’s here when you want it. Now sync your combadge to mine and keep it open, dismissed.”
Aoife couldn’t believe the damage that the Denver had taken. There was a gaping hole following along the length to deck 5 on the port side of the saucer. The weapons pod was broken and ripped open in several places and all along the hull there was carbon scoring from directed energy weapons.
Several life pods had already been launched. Thumbing the comm system on her panel she hailed them, “Escape pods, this is Crewman Mckenzie aboard a shuttlepod. The engineering section is stable. Dock there and report to Commander Lovecroft in main engineering to assist in damage control.”
She didn’t get a response, but she didn’t expect one either. Bringing up the sensor array she scanned the saucer. She was reading over four-hundred life signs trapped, and would soon die as they froze to death or succumbed to hypoxia. She notified Lovecroft that there were survivors and gave a full report on damages to the ship.
Aoife turned the tiny shuttle and headed for one of the larger cargo bays located in the engineering hull. As she approached the doors she entered the commands to open the bay doors and was pleasantly surprised that they actually opened without protest. The bay wasn’t meant to land a shuttle so there were no tractor beams to guide it in, but with some careful piloting she guided the shuttle inside and set it down not far from the transporter control station.
“Commander, I’ve landed in Cargo Bay 5,” she reported as she powered down the engines and pushed open the gull wing door and stepped out onto the deck. She pressed a button on the terminal which closed the bay doors. “Okay, Mckenzie time to get the transporter working,” she said to herself.
Rebecca stared down at the mess of conduit and exposed wires with a hand beacon trying to restore any power to the bridge. It was starting to get cold on the bridge and the air was beginning to get stale. The last thing she wanted to do was abandon ship after all they had been through, but that was increasingly looking like their only option.
Suddenly there was the familiar tingle of a transporter beam, and then the sensation of gravity as she materialized inside one of the cargo bays. They were still on the Denver, but there was power here. They had a chance now.