The Jaxartes were in the high warp, trying to get as fast as they could toward Deep Space 17. The vibe was quite tense on the bridge. They just witnessed a Starfleet Captain willing to take that extra step to cover up their mistakes or even crimes. “I still don’t have any response. It seems the communication is still being jammed somehow!” Rami spoke in frustration while tapping on his console.
“The Liberty has some great equipment, that is for sure if they can reach out that long-distance” Adrián tried his best to boost the communication grid but didn’t get through whatever he tried.
“We need to stay calm, people, reach Deep Space 17 and get the information about the Liberty actions…no about the actions of Captain Vance reported to Starfleet Command, and they shall act. These acts will not be overseen. Breaking the prime directive is one thing, but threatening to get rid of the evidence, aka us, is another that doesn’t go well in my books” Silina was checking the primary sensors.
A sudden heavy shake got the Jaxartes badly. “They are not far, Lieutenant Valerio. They are right behind us” T’Path spoke as the backend view was now shown on the main screen, letting the Liberty be in its view. “I am sorry that I didn’t notice them earlier, but they managed to gain on us at rapid speed”
Sazra narrows her eyes as she taps onto her console. “Rami, can you get a lock on them? They are firing at us, so we are well in our rights to defend ourselves”
Looking a bit puzzled at his Captain, “Yes, I can get a lock, but that is a Starfleet ship, are we even allowed to fire even if it’s in our defense?” Rami was confused as the ship took another close hit from the Liberty and saw Sazra looking at him. “Got it, self-defense it is” He tapped a few times on the console. “Locked”
“Fire photon torpedo,” Sazra orders as a blue leaves the back of the Jaxartes and quickly gets countered by the more agile and advanced Liberty. Sazra growls a bit, “Lieutenant, is it possible to make the torpedoes detonate in a certain field so it still damages them, but before they can counter it?”
“It is possible, but the danger is that we will get hit by the shockwave as well,” Rami pointed out. “The best thing I can advise on that is to up our aft shields to absorb the shockwave as good as possible”
“Silina boosts the aft shields, T’Path keeps us away from their locks, Adrián gets me more power to the engine, and Rami, fire away whenever you can,” Sazra spoke, grabbing the side of the chair. The shields get redirected full power to the aft shields as the Jaxartes swing from left to right, avoiding the Liberty shots. Meanwhile, photon torpedoes get shot from the backside of the Jaxartes and explode before the Liberty to make a gap between the two ships.
But all of a sudden, the Liberty gains on the small ship and fires a few torpedoes that were too quick for T’Path to avoid, as its engine gets hit and throws the Jaxartes out of warp. The whole bridge gets thrown all over the place. It took a few seconds for the crew to grab their focus as the sparks flew on some of the consoles, “Status report…” Sazra pushed herself from the floor, feeling the warmth from her head as she put her hand on it feeling it wet. “Shit”
“Engines are down. That last hit took a beating at us. We are not made for this, Captain” Adrián grabbed the console, trying to see what was functional.
“Deep Space 17 distance?” Sazra sat back in the chair, looking at the cracked screen that showed a distorted image, but Liberty was right there.
T’Path shook her head, “We are still too far from the space station to be even noticed. Engines are indeed not responding to my commands. Sir, we are dead in the water. They have us” T’Path could feel the panic crawling on her, “They are hailing us”
Standing up from her chair, she nods to T’Path to get the Liberty on screen. “Lieutenant Praugol, it has been some goose hunt…but it ends here,” Vance spoke with some arrogance on his face. The Liberty bridge looked a bit messy, “Your little rebellion has not worked….your journey ends right here, and you know, no one will know what happened, and we can continue our business exploiting worlds”
Sazra looked at her crew, frozen by the idea of being captured by this corrupted Captain. Looking back at him, “Let me tell you this, Vance… You are right. You have us. Furthermore, you won your battle against a small Raven-class vessel that outsmarted you. We discovered your scamming acts, and you got us right where you want us” Sazra looked at her side to a particular panel and then back. “The truth is, I knew from the start what was wrong. Your attitude sold you out when you gave me those ridiculous orders. Think about it” She pointed her finger up. “You wanted us to clean up something that the Liberty messed up in the first place. My helmsman and engineer found out the patron of your warp trail around the planet” She noticed both T’Path and Adrián looking at her, surprised that she noticed the scans.
She points a second finger up, “Then my security officer noticed the unrest on the planet, focused on one location that had residue of transportation on a large scale. So, after he did some long-range scanning, he noticed that the planet contained dilithium. You rob this civilization of their progression to potential warp development” Rami looked at Sazra, surprised now also, then back at the screen at an annoyed Vance. “And last, as my First Officer said, you broke the prime directive of the Federation. You are guilty of being thrown in prison for everything you have done. Now seeing that your crew is seen as an accomplishment in your acts, they will pay the price also”
The worried faces on the bridge looked at each other, but Vance clapped in his hand “Bravo, miss Praugol. Your acting in drama is almost perfect. You almost had me worried there. Yes you have me all figured out. You have all the proof, yet you have no one to send it to. Because I will destroy every inch of that ship of yours and make sure nothing is left behind. I can see it now….Liberty arrives at the scene and finds a destroyed Starfleet ship….further investigation shows that the Jaxartes blew itself up. How does that sound?”
“You forget one thing” Sazra said as she looked at the panel again and back to the screen. “I am not alone. I might die sure…maybe tomorrow, maybe next….everything is possible as a Starfleet Officer. We sign up for these risks of exploration. But…” Sazra smiled a bit. “I, nor my crew, will die today and especially not by your hand”
“Ha! What makes you so sure about that, Lieutenant?” Vance looked amused back at her.
Everyone on the Jaxartes looked at their Captain and stared at the broken screen, “Because Starfleet already knows about your venture in this part of space. The moment I knew, the moment we left, I sent every detail of information to Starfleet Command. Before you could even block my…signal”
That changed his facial expression of Vance from amused to furious “Kill them” The screen went back to space as the Liberty moved forward and fired a few times at the already disabled Jaxartes.
“Hold on. We are not out of the woods just yet” Sazra felt the sudden impacts as the ship suffered severe damage. Consoles blow up by the overloads and fires begin to light up. But Sazra kept calm and focused on the screen, seeing the Liberty taking fire upon her ship as if she was waiting on something.
Silina grabs Sazra shoulder. “Captain, we need to evacuate the ship!” A soft smile came to Sazra’s face as she pointed at the screen, making Silina look at it. A ship jumped into the sector, a Century-class ship, followed by a Nebula-class and Saber-class. “What the….” Silina looked surprised at what she was seeing. Were they going to get some help, or were they with Captain Vance?
“We are getting a broadcast from the USS Discovery! It is sent to both our ships” T’Path spoke up loudly.
“On screen,” Sazra spoke lightly, lowering her hand.
The screen changed to a split screen seeing Captain Rider in the chair, “Captain Vance stand down your actions right now!” He spoke directly to Vance.
Vance looked confused for a second, “Captain Rider, what a pleasure and perfect timing that you are here. We are here to capture this ship that has broken the prime directive of a pre-warp civilization! They were on the run and we stopped them. Sending out some falsified rapport to Starfleet Command” Captain Vance looked at Praugol, who didn’t react and smirked.
“Is that so…” Lucas spoke, glaring at Praugol and then looked back. “You mean the falsified information that your ship damaged the atmosphere of this world? That you let their ship clean up your mess of a planet you shouldn’t be near in the first place? The same planet where you transported onto and even stole dilithium for your reputation with Starfleet?” Taking a deep breath, “Plus the need that you were going to blame it all on them?”
“Outrageous, don’t you say, Captain? Falsifying the information of their rapport just to get promoted and taking me and my loyal crew to sink for them. I am amazed that they have done so on such short notice” Vance crossed his arms. “I think it is best to take them in and let the tribunal take care of it”
“Right, let JAG take care of this….we shall let JAG take care of this whole situation, Captain Vance. You see, there is one small detail you forgot, and that is time” Lucas looked at him with quite a glare, “Captain Praugol here has been reporting to Deep Space 17 since she walked out of your ship office. Your neglecting behavior has cost your head, as you have been on Starfleet Security radar for some time. Now, this must have been a difficult period for Captain Praugol to accept all the nonsense from you and not be able to tell her crew our true orders. Investigate the crimes that the USS Liberty has done and report back”
Standing up angry, “What is this? You are saying that you believe that little witch there” He moves on his bridge and shakes his head “No, no, you won’t get me for this. I will take you down with me Praugol!” The communication cuts off.
Lucs shrugs. “Send orders to USS Alberta to move into the Jaxartes and protect them at all costs! Let the USS Hanoi follow formation with us. Jaxartes, stay put!” Lucas broke off the communication as the large Nebula class moved before the Jaxartes to protect it from incoming fires. The USS Discovery and USS Hanoi opened fire only after the Liberty opened fire upon them. The Battle looked spectacular and everyone on the Jaxartes bridge was cheering on for their new allies.
But Sazra stood there with her arms over each other and shrugged as she saw the USS Liberty disabled by the Discovery and Hanoi. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder once again and looked at her side seeing Silina “You trusted our opinion from the start, but you didn’t say anything to us…you made us doubt you in your ability to command this ship and get them the justice they deserve” Silina blinks and is looking confused at Sazra.
Sazra took a deep breath. “I distant myself from you all” Looking back at the screen seeing the space battle still going “But I knew I had to act, listen to your crew as they are the key elements of your journey. First thing you learn in the academy. Over the years, I started to understand how much that sentence has taught me. I trust every single one of you blindly with my life. So when you are saying something is not right, I know for a fact that it is not right” She shrugs a bit. “But Starfleet Security and Command couldn’t risk that Vance slipped away again as this was not the first time he did this. But no clear evidence was ever put on the table….so I kept it to myself, biting through his personal attacks to not only me but also you all. It frustrated me so badly but….I had to endure”
The space battle halted as Captain Rider returned on the viewscreen “Captain Praugol, Starfleet thanks you for your service in this delicate matter. We will let the USS Alberta drag you back to Deep Space 17. Starfleet wants a debrief with you and the crew as soon as possible; good luck Discovery out” The screen disappeared again.
“Thank you” Sazra heard, looking at Silina, who was looking at the screen. “Thank you for believing in us. It means the world to know that we are taken into account with our opinions”.
Nodding to that, Sazra could feel the ship being moved as the USS Alberta got its tractor beam locked onto the small ship. The USS Liberty was disabled, and the crew would be detained with the help of the USS Discovery and USS Hanoi. Without the service and help of these ships, Starfleet’s faith and the trust Praugol had in her crew to be curious to be forthright in their actions. This ship, this crew would no longer be “I did what needed to be done, and I trust you guys would do the same for me in any kind of situation” Most of them nodded to her.
“Now we just wait for what Deep Space 17 has for us. Hours of debriefing, special talks with JAG, and the prime time to see the USS Liberty get their ass dragged into port as the crew and their beloved Captain get escorted off as the punks they are,” Adrián spoke with a grin on his face and everyone laughed at that one.
“Hopefully, yes” Sazra spoke, sitting back down in her chair and seeing Silina going to her side taking out a device.
“Let me look at your injuries Captain”