It was a jagged spectre, irregular spikes protruding at every angle. The greenish grey hull formed a sort of horseshoe shape, its two forward arms reaching forward as if clawing at the space ahead. Streth rose from the command chair. On the Altai’s main viewer, he could barely make out the silhouette of this drifting hulk. Its only source of illumination were the two Starfleet ships’ own running lights, enough only to give a clear view of those two clasping arms before the rest of the vastbody sank back into the murk. The scans had told him everything he needed to know about its size, however. He’d heard of these things before, but never laid eyes on one. It was immense; a dreadnought.
“Streth to Oklahoma,” he paused, eyes still locked dead ahead.
“Metrios here, Commander,” Carrie replied.
“Activate your searchlight and carry out a sweep of the Breen ship’s hull. I want to make doubly sure there are no serious hull breaches, or any other surprises.”
“Aye, sir, I’d hate to be surprised if we miss something. Despite what she may look like, she may still be functional… and they may just be baiting us,” Carrie said, her hands flying over the runabout’s controls as she performed yet another sensor sweep.
“Maec,” Streth stepped over to the conn, “run another scan for life signs. Let me know if there’s so much as a Vendethan gerbil on board that thing.”
D’vaid nodded and immediately ran scans which brought back a worrying result. “Sir, something is blocking our sensor scans and I cannot pinpoint what it is. He replied gravely.
Streth frowned. He moved towards the conn and looked over Maec’s shoulder at the sensor readouts, ”Looks like the hull plating‘s still polarized.” He exhaled through his nose, “We’re not beaming in blind.“
Streth looked over to Jones, “We need to know more. This is an intelligence gift if ever I saw one. Perhaps a little too good? ”
Jones rubbed his chin, feeling the stubbles of his growing beard as he thought over what Streth had said. “Perhaps.” He answered as he stared at the vessel.
“I advise caution sir,” Astrid offered without prompting. “This feels like a trap.”
”I agree, this is strange…” Streth trailed off, “In any of your experiences with the Breen, have you heard of a capital ship being used as bait like this?”
“Streth, this is Carrie. This is damn odd, even for the damn Breen,” Carrie said. “Take it easy, Blue, I don’t like this shit. Keep the Altai back from its energy range if you can. I’m more maneuverable than you are, and if I have to, I can warp jump away from this creepy motherfucker. Metrios out.”
It then hit Carrie where she had heard of a tactic like this being used before: Chin’toka.
She slammed a fist down on the comms panel, opening a channel to the Altai.
“OKLAHOMA TO THE ALTAI! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE! IT’S A TRAP!”
”Shields up!“ Streth called, the Altai’s red alert status automatically engaged, “Maec, back us off.”
D’vaid complied and quickly moved the ship away from the area until the ship was out of range, giving a nod to the Captain.
”Metrios, we’re out of range. What have you got?”
“This is the same damn trap that got Ben Sisko’s first Defiant, Streth,” Carrie replied. “Second Battle of Chin’toka, late 2375. Their damn energy-draining weapon. We need to find a way to depolarize their hull plating and kill the big bitch now before they can get a shot off. I know we’re supposed to have a defense against it now, but I don’t trust these sneaky fuckers not to have upgraded it.”
Carrie continued: “Jonesy, see what her power curve looks like if you can get past the damn interference. I’ll work on that from my end. D’vaid, keep the Skipper and the Altai the Hell away from this thing at all costs. You see this big bitch as much as twitch, I want you to take the ship and get the fuck out of here at maximum warp.”
Finally: “Sir, I apologize if I’ve overstepped my boundaries, but I don’t believe in being too cautious, and I know good and damn well what this thing’s capable of. Better to err on the side of caution than to end up in pieces, Commander.”
“If there is an energy dampening weapon on that ship that could be quite an intelligence coup,” Astrid stated. “This would be the the equivalent of the Allies obtaining the Enigma code books during World War Two. This is an opportunity we cannot pass up.”
Jones raised a brow when he heard his name but in a more friendly and informal way. ‘Jonesy? May have to have a little chat with this one.’ Jones thought before he stepped over to an empty station to run a full sensor sweep of the Breen warship. If this was a trick, that the Breen were simply powered down to the minimums to keep them off guard, there would be indications of it and that power curve is the key. Jones opened up the sensor logs and started scrolling through them in comparison to the sensor readings right now. He then got up and stepped over to Streth’s side. “The ship had power moments ago, obviously in order to get here. But she’s dead in the water and adrift. The reactor is cold, sir.”
Jones then looked at Astrid with a slight smirk. “I whole heartedly agree. If this thing has an energy dampening weapon on board, it will be useful for Starfleet Command. We have yet to see if our current modifications from the Dominion War still work or if the Breen got around it and improved their dampening weapons to work. If this one has the weapon, Starfleet can insure that we will have an immunity against it, hopefully a permanent one.”
“Hazard Team is suited up and ready to deploy sir,” Astrid added.
There were a few seconds of silence as Streth weighed his options. There was a, risk of course, but it would be calculated. He thought back to the 3D chess games of his Academy days. He had often begun with the Cochrane gambit, sacrificing his knight for the chance of a much greater prize. He hoped to the stars he wouldn’t be making any sacrifices here. He remembered the words of a certain captain from a different era who had enthusiastically told his crew that risk was their business. He wondered that captain would have said the same thing when facing down a Breen dreadnought in altogether more cynical times. Then he decided.
“Alright,” Streth’s voice could be heard throughout the bridge, “Vogler, have the Hazard Team assemble in transporter room one. Standby for transport.”