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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

31 – The Hunted, part 2

USS Mackenzie
11.13.2400 @ 0930
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“Detecting a Devore transport ship entering the sector…with two escorts,”  Kondo reported and felt on edge.  They were working out the plan to bring the Voth here, but it would require every element to work perfectly.  Now they were staking out the delivery of empaths to the Hirogen from the Devore.  It all felt wrong.

Harris sat forward in the chair, “Anybody else in play?”  After consulting with science, Kondo shook his head.  The CO tapped the arm of the command chair listlessly, “Ensign Atega - anything out there?”

Presley was working her console, earpiece in place.  There was suddenly a burst of communications activity across the sector, “The Devore are transmitting a signal in all directions…the rough translation is that ‘the cattle have arrived'.  God.”  She sucked a breath in as the message repeated, “They're signaling the Hirogen.  No response yet.”

Ambrose stared at the nebula that surrounded them.  They were able to see out, but no one could see in.  It was keeping them safe.  He now had an additional concern - the empaths that were being readied for transport to the Hirogen.

Fowler spoke from her station, “Sensors detecting 20 life signs on the transport that are not Devore, sir.  Some are strong, but others are reading in various states of seriousness.”  Her eyes searched the screens filled with results, “I'm picking up some human readings with Betazoid.”

The air in the bridge felt as if it had been sucked out in an instant.  All eyes turned to the viewscreen and the captain in the center chair.  Harris continued to tap on the arm of his chair, “Verify, Lieutenant Fowler.”  Seconds passed as she ran the scan again.  A few more seconds as she verified the readings.  A simple nod was her answer as she turned to the bridge.  “Well…that changes things.  Mr. Kondo, Red Alert.  All hands to battle stations.  Mr. Prentice, prepare to break loose from our cover.”  The alert alarms blared throughout the ship as the yellow faded into ruby red.  Officers shifted stations and left the bridge to be replaced by others, as this was repeated across the Excelsior II class ship.  The battle bridge was also staffed in case of saucer separation. It took less than a minute.

Tir, the operations chief, affirmed, “All stations secured to battle stations, sir.”

Ambrose stared at the screen, “Let's start the party.  Engage, Mr. Prentice.”

The Devore ships were startled to see the smooth features of the USS Mackenzie slip out of the nebula and glide towards them, shields raised and weapons armed.  Calls for the same echoed across the three ship's command modules as the lumbering starship grew closer and closer.  Then it simply sat, staring at the three ships.

Harris waited a minute before asking, “Hail them, Ensign Atega. Inform them we will be taking custody of their prisoners and relieving them of their duty to the Hirogen.”

Atega tapped out the message and spoke into her headset, and stabbed the transmit button.  She watched the text and audio message transmit through space and hit each ship's communication array.  She waited for a response.  She waited a little longer.  “Sir, they are not responding.”  Presley felt her heart beat a little faster.  They were really going to do this.  They were going to fight the Devore.  And possibly the Hirogen.

“I didn't think they would.  Chief Kondo - how hard would it be to knock out the shields on the transport?”

De Le Fontaine did a quick scan and some math in his head, “It would take maybe four shots of our phasers to shatter the shield power grid. I can pinpoint the locations to target.  The trouble will be…,”

Harris finished the thought, “…is the two escorts.  I suspect it'll take more than just four phaser shots to bring them to heel?”  His tactical chief confirmed it and outlined the required firepower needed.  The Mackenzie had such firepower, but they would be running against the already running clock counting down to the arrival of the Hirogen.  Ambrose thought out loud, “We could give them two targets.”  

Calog Tir glanced up from his station, “Saucer section could go after the transport, and the warp drive section could go to work on the two escorts.”  The CO looked to each of his senior officers on the bridge, and they confirmed they could do it.

Ambrose spoke quickly, “Alert all decks; we're engaging saucer separation.  Computer, activate the ECH.”  The image of Rachel McKee appeared.

“Please state the matter of the command emergency.”  Harris quickly filled her in as the alarms and klaxons rang throughout the ship.  She gave a nod, “We'll ensure their safe return, Captain.”  Kondo remained at his station, as did Prentice and Tir.  Fowler and Otega followed the captain into the turbolift, and the doors closed behind them.  Natalie Harris remained at the engineering station, her focus steady on the saucer section master situations display.

Across the ship, the crew shifted imperceptibly in their positions and placement.  Red Alert was one level of alert.  Battlestations was the next level.  The operations department had worked tirelessly on processes tied to the saucer separation scenario.  Working with each group, they were able to create a plan for when the need for a saucer separation occurred; the crew would be in the ready position to ensure a separation as quickly as possible.  In the seven days it had taken to find a cure, Calog Tir had been busy.  His failure early on to not account for the battle bridge had burned him.  His symbiont had chastised him every day and reminded him how foolish he had been.  They'd had a shouting match in his quarters so loud his neighbor had come over to check on him.  He had vowed not to make such an egregious error again.  Tir had been the one who had used the word, and he'd agreed with her for once.

 

The battle bridge crew had already moved to their stations as Harris and his crew entered.  He called out to Ensign Del Castillo at the helm, “Signal the bridge to engage separation operations.”  He glanced around the bridge.  The Mackenzie designers had lifted the model from an Akira Class ship.  Looking around, it reminded him of a slightly larger Defiant class bridge.  The Mackenzie's warp drive section still required a good-sized command center.

Gabriela alerted him, “Separation underway.”  The alarms and klaxons took on new urgency as the Mackenzie's neck connection to the primary hull thumped and then clicked with a thunderous boom.  The technology had come a long way since the days of the Enterprise D.  It had become an asset with many ships and less of a novelty in the early days.  A moment later, she confirmed, “Saucer is clear,” which they all saw on the screen as it pulled in front of the primary hull.  It was a sight to see.

Harris turned behind him to his communications chief, “Give them one more warning.”  He waited until she confirmed the message had been sent.  Thirty seconds passed.  No response.  He spoke to his assistant chief tactical officer, “Ensign Dalman target the two escort ships with phasers only.  Helm, put us between them and the transport if you can.”  The giant ship took each step forward with a thunderous roar from the impulse engines, closing the distance.  The two escort vessels seemed to hesitate as the primary hull drew closer.  Then they spooked and opened fire.  “Return fire.”

 

The ECH was a lot of things.  It was Rachel McKee and everything she had been in Starfleet.  It also held records and actions of as many command officers in the history of Starfleet in its databanks. From Archer to Kirk to Garrett to Picard to Sisko to Janeway and back again, it was a comprehensive compilation of the best commanding officers the fleet had to offer over the years.  She was a bit of an experiment, and within her cognitive mainframe, this was a known factor in every action she made, order she gave, or even word she spoke.  “Lieutenant Prentice, evasive maneuvers - get us close to the transport ship.  Tactical - let's see about your plan.”

Kondo tapped at the console, reviewing one last time the targets that would be hit in an effort to overload the shield generators.  “We're ready, Commander”  The two escorts directed some of their fire at the saucer, but Cadet Harris reported the shields were holding.  Kondo hoped they'd continue to hold.  “Firing phasers in attack pattern Gamma Shield.”  The sound of the saucer phasers firing at four intervals sounded as he watched the readings.  And like that, the transport ship's shields were down.

McKee had already ordered a security team to the transporter room earlier after the escapade that had previously threatened to take the Mackenzie over.  “Lower shields and engage transporters.”  Prentice went to work as he pushed the impulse engines and maneuvering thrusters in order to slip and slide the saucer away from errant and targeted fire from the two escorts.  The primary hull was matching them pound for pound.  Will was impressed with his fellow helm officer on the battle bridge.  He'd given her lots to study and simulations to run in the seven days they'd been on hold.  She'd done her homework.

 

Dogukan braced himself against the tactical console in front of Harris as he continued to use the phasers on the primary hull, “Shields at 80%.  We've managed to disable one ship's torpedo weapon, but they're not giving up easily.”

Another torrent of torpedo fire from the other escort impacted the primary hull, and Harris sighed, “Update on the secondary hull?”

Atega held her right hand to her ear, “They've got half of them transported and cleared.  Working on the second half now.”  The small bridge shuddered with further impacts.  Fowler reported shields were down to 70%. 

Del Castillo pushed the Mackenzie closer to the two Devore escort ships, pushing the bulk of the secondary hull into their weapons fire, taking the hits intended for the unshielded saucer section.  The bridge shook, and several empty consoles flickered and sparked as the Devore took out their frustration with increasing ferocity.  A shout that shields were at 60%.

Ambrose shook his head, “I've had enough of this.  Ensign Dalman, arm torpedoes.  Fire at will.”

The tactical officer grinned widely.  He'd been waiting for that order, “With pleasure, sir."  He turned to Gabriella on his left, “Ensign, shall we dance?” Del Castillo gave a hearty nod as her hands ran across the console.  They'd been pulling their punches.  It was time for the gloves to come off and the fists to fly.  Dogukan targeted the engines of both ships, ”Helm, I need a direct fire solution course on target Devore 1."  She gave a nod as she shifted the primary hull into a hard turn.  Five bright orange torpedoes were flung from the Mackenzie.  The battle bridge crew unconsciously held their breath as the five points of destructive energy traveled the distance and slammed into the Devore escort vessel.  Dalman reported, “Engines disabled…they're not going anywhere.”  The bridge shook again as the remaining Devore ship responded in kind.  This time all the lights flickered.  Shields were at 50%.  They were regenerating, but the escort ship had found several regeneration points and was slowly pounding away at them.  The tactical officer grumbled, “One more to go.  Ensign Del Castillo - let's do this one more time.”

 

Prentice reported, “Transporter room reports they've got them all, Commander.”  

McKee took milliseconds to consider the next steps as she watched the primary hill taking a pasting. “Shields up.  Chief Kondo, I understand we have two torpedo launchers in the neck of the saucer.  You have my permission to use them, Lieutenant.”

Del Fontaine chuckled, “We'll even the score, Commander.  Prentice, get me within range here.”  He sent a target to the helm chief and got a nod in response as the saucer section suddenly flew straight up and then dove down towards the fray.  Kondo targeted the second Devore ship and went to work.  Phasers crisscrossed the ship's shields, and he could see the flare reacting. He lined up the two forward tubes and hurled four torpedoes directly into the attacking ship as fire and explosions rocked the hull.  The saucer section circled as if on a dime as the inertial dampeners grumbled under the pressure Prentice was putting into them.  The tactical chief gave the helm chief an appreciative smile as he lined up two more fiery blasts from the tubes and let them loose.  A moment later, he confirmed, “We've disabled all three ships.  Captain Harris reports the primary hull's shield are at 45% and regenerating.  They suggest we return the Mackenzie to one piece.”

The hologram Rachel gave a nod, “Mr. Prentice, begin the process of connecting us back together.”

 

Jordan Reid worked through the group as security cleared each of them in the transporter room.  They were bloodied, beaten, and broken.  Her triage and trauma team was moving each of them to a mobile biobed in the hallway outside the transporter room.  Each of the survivors was in various stages of tears as they were triaged with care.  More of the medical teams filled the hallway as biobeds were needed for each of the twenty they had rescued.  Water was handed out with great abandon as the thirst had gone beyond parched for them.  Each of them had imagined the end as the Devore ships had come to a halt and the beatings commenced.  The Devore had said it was to, “Soften them up for the Hirogen,” but each of them knew it had nothing to do with it.  It was just the abject cruelty of the Devore and their hate of all telepaths and empaths.

 As she worked to get names, she began to realize something as she was typing into the PADD.  The names started blinking on her PADD.  Breathlessly she tapped her badge, “Doctor Reid to Captain Harris…these are the remaining Harris transport crew.”

Comments

  • Wow! What a ride! For such a useful option in combat, but rarely seen on screen, I really enjoyed the tandem way the two sections worked together. A very engaging read right from the start and leaves a want for more.

    November 20, 2022