Barely perceptible to the uninitiated, the vibrations that pulsed through the deck plating were something that all experienced Starfleet personnel learned to recognise. On the bridge of the Altai, Lieutenant Commander Torden Streth could feel them intensify. The impulse engines were powering up. It felt good to be back here again. He looked around from the command chair. Officers exited the turbolift having beamed aboard from the base. A gold uniformed pair crossed behind him to access sensor and engineering readouts, another manned the tactical station immediately behind him. Streth eyed the flight control station that was as yet, unoccupied.
“Breen ship closing to within 150 klicks, sir,” a voice broke through the hum of activity.
Streth turned to Jones, who sat in the seat across from him, “Where the hell is the conn?”
Jones brought up the ships manifest at his station to locate the officer who was suppose to be manning that station and let out a heavy sigh. “Unavailable, sir.”
Streth exhaled through his nose, “I want us out of here, stat. I know it’s powered down, but I don’t want that ship getting any closer to the base.” His antennae twitched irritably. He noticed the yeoman exiting the turbolift, “Maec. I need someone at the conn. How’re your piloting chops?”
D’vaid had been trying to figure out where he was needed. He exited onto the bridge and heard the Captain request his help “Uhh I have been told pretty good.” He said with a sideways smile as he took the seat at the conn.
There was a vital further point of business to be addressed before they got going, “Streth to Vogler,” the computer beeped as the channel opened, “are the hazard team aboard and ready to deploy?”
“We are ready sir,” Astrid’s voice came in response over the intercom. There was a tenseness in her voice that hadn’t been there before. There was no trace of the excited youthfulness she had only a few days prior.
“Good, estimate fifteen minutes until contact,” Streth confirmed before closing the channel. The heavy lifting done by the hazard team was far from over, “How are we doing, Beck? Good to go?” He aimed the question back over his shoulder.
Beck stood there at the engineering station. He had just finished his checks on all the reports that came in in regards to Altai’s systems. So he turned by the heel of his left foot and faced the main viewer while also directing his voice to the Commander. “We are green across the board, sir.” He then shifted his gaze at the station where he remembered Cooper stated that she will stay behind and on standby to evacuate the station in case that Dreadnought decided to turn its teeth towards them. He even had to give Cooper a quick brief on how the holo-uflaged worked for when the Altai does return.
Streth turned to face the main viewer again. Asteroids loomed in the murk, casting amorphous shadows over their barren surfaces, “Alright, let’s take her out on an intercept course. Half impulse, Mr. Maec.”
“Aye, Sir!” D’vaid took a deep breath and let his fingers flow over the console pressing the buttons needed and gracefully piloting the ship out per the Captain’s orders.
The Altai‘s manoeuvring thrusters fired, pitching the ship up and portside before main propulsion engaged. To the rear of the Steamrunner-class’ bulky forward section, on either side of the central shuttle bay doors, two red glows flared. The ship accelerated away from the base, leaving behind only a skeleton crew ready to activate the holographic camouflage at a moment’s notice. It would be their only chance of survival should the Altai somehow be incapacitated or unable to return. Rolling and diving, sensors allowing to anticipate the trajectories of the hurtling fragments of space rock, the ship pushed through to the outer edge of the asteroid field.
Alongside them flew a Danube-class runabout. Considerably more agile than the larger ship it accompanied, it darted through openings between asteroids with ease. Despite its faster pace, the smaller vessel stayed close, as was wise to do when predators lay ahead.
“Open a channel to the Oklahoma,” Streth called across the bridge, “Metrios, it looks like the Breen ship’s still powered down. Should be safe to approach, but stay close.”
“Aye, sir,” Carrie replied. She knew that her small ship was no match for a Breen dreadnought, if this turned out to be a feint. However, she had the utmost faith that Commander Streth would not lead her into harm’s way. “The Oklahoma is fitted with Type 9 phaser emitters and a minimal complement of quantum torpedoes, courtesy of my last CO. Would you like me to help get some of these damn rocks out of the way, Commander?”
”I’d be much obliged, Lieutenant.“ The channel closed, and Streth watched as the runabout went to work.
Carrie started by taking aim at the nearest asteroid to the Altai‘s flight path. Clearing that one out of the way, she then proceeded to clear a path to the Breen dreadnought, stopping just outside its projected energy range.
“Metrios to the Altai,” Carrie said. “Looks like clear sailing for you, Commander. Let’s see what these ice cube bastards are up to. Metrios out.”