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

37 – The Hunted, Part 4

USS Mackenzie
11.15.2400 @ 0930
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The bridge shuddered as the three Hirogen ships circled the Excelsior II class ship.  Kondo had managed to blast one of the hunters into oblivion.  It had now become a game of evasive and aggressive.  Prentice was doing his level best to keep moving while also giving room and space for the tactical chief to do his work.  “Will, get us some room.” Prentice spun the Mackenzie and threw her into warp speed for a few seconds, then dropped them out and swerved back to face the Hirogen.  De La Fontaine nodded, “Good, let's do some running and gunning.”  As he targeted the torpedoes, he sent the Chief Helm Officer his course needs.  The Mackenzie thundered forward as her phasers came into range and exploded into wide and charged firing patterns.  Then the torpedoes flashed into action and smashed up against the shields of one Hirogen ship, the shields flashing before they crackled into non-existence.

Fowler was watching the sensors and assisting with Kondo's tactical work when the computer started to beep.  The bottom of her stomach nearly dropped to the floor, “Commander - we have multiple targets inbound - all Hirogen.  Current count is…ten.  They'll be here in ten minutes.”

Okada felt her face tighten.  Three they could handle.  Thirteen was impossible.  They were going to have to get out of here and fast.  Cardamon sat to her right, working on his PADD.  He looked up at the screen and then to the commander, “I may have a solution to this.  You will probably not like it.”

Katsumi regarded him cautiously, “I'm up for any ideas.”

“We can flee to my planet.  The Voth are more than equipped to take on the Hirogen on their…how do you say it,” he tapped at the PADD, “…ah, home turf."

She shifted from cautious to skeptical, “Why would they help us?  They nearly killed you the last time.”

He stared at her as if afraid to say what was next.  When he did speak, she understood why he had hesitated.  “I can make a deal with them.  I can return to the position I left…it is a trade they will accept.”  The bridge shook this time as Kondo expressed frustration at swatting flies.  Cardamon looked to the screen, “You can run…but they will catch up to you.  The Hirogen are relentless.  The Voth of my planet would relish a battle…or even a war with them.”

Okada shook her head in disbelief, “You can't be serious…you left them…and found us.  You wanted to stay.”  The bridge shook again as consoles began to flicker.

The Voth spoke firmly, “Commander - you will be overwhelmed in a short while.  I have no choice…and neither do you.”

She didn't have much time.  Kondo had disabled another ship, but that still left two Hirogan flying around like vultures with ten more on the way.  Muttering, “I never liked no-win scenarios,” she turned to Prentice, “Helm, plot a course to the Cardamon's home planet and engage at maximum warp.”  Prentice quickly found an opening and sent the Mackenzie fleeing into the stars.  She turned to the Voth, “Get with Atega.  Reach out to your people.  I'm going to find a way to stop this anyway I can.”  

He regarded the patience of an old parent, “You can try, but this is the way, Commander.  This is the only way.”

 

Five hours had passed.  The damage control teams had been at work repairing the minor damage.  Cardamon remained in the right-hand chair while Okada worked through varying plans and ideas.  Each time she had come up empty, and it had continued to frustrate her each time she hit a wall in her brainstorming.  The Voth's plan had been accepted by his people.  Any treachery, they had warned, would be rewarded by the full force of their ships and planetary defense operations.  Prentice announced they were arriving at the planet and dropped them out of warp.

Kondo had kept them at Red Alert, and his tactical screens lit up, “Commander, picking up twenty contacts of varying sizes and power directly in front of us.  Longer-range sensors are detecting further ships in the wings.”  He was unsettled looking at the statistics on the ships as the computer quickly evaluated the threat level from each. The Voth had been busy.

Atega's console beeped, “We're being hailed by the lead ship.”  She felt the disappointment in her heart weighing her spirit down.  Cardamon had been with them fifteen days, and already it felt like he was a part of the crew.

Okada stood, “On screen.”  Within seconds, High Commander of the Voth Expeditionary Force Larsak appeared, scowling with a smile on his face.

“Ah, yes.  Commander Katsumi.” She couldn't stop herself from clenching her hands into fists.  Larsak had been the one who had tried to kill Cardamon.  She had jumped in front of the phaser and gone through hell for her troubles.  She would have been thrilled to destroy his ship right here and now.  Her anger wasn't simmering.  It was raging.  He dared to chuckle, “I see you haven't forgotten me.  I understand our deal is still valid?"

Okada gritted her teeth, “Against my wishes and judgment.  Cardamon is not one of my officers but a guest aboard the Mackenzie.  His choice is what matters, even if I disagree with it totally.”

“You will transport him aboard as we agreed.  We will then enter into conflict with the Hirogen, as we also agreed.”  The channel closed, leaving the bridge turning to Cardamon with sadness.

Okada gave him a bow, “I understand.”  He gave her a half smile which may have looked like a snarl to anyone else.  He reached out and hugged her, drawing a gasp from her and the bridge crew.  

He held her gently, “You saved my life, Commander Katsumi.  It's my turn to save yours.”  He said his goodbyes to each officer with a hug, drawing tears from them as he walked into the turbolift with his security escort and waved as the door slid shut.

Silence remained the custodian of the sounds on the bridge as Prentice shifted them around the phalanx of Voth ships and found a space off to the side.  He would shake his head slightly so often as he thought about what had just happened.  Okada watched him and the others.  “Prentice…”

He turned in his chair, “It's not right, Commander.  It's…just not right.  You saved him because it was the right thing to do.  You saved him because…well, that's what's part of what we do as Starfleet officers.”

Atega thought about his words from her station, “What about if it's the right thing for him to do?”  She explained when Prentice stared at her, “Cardamon lived apart from his people for 75 years.  In linguistical studies, that's a lifetime when it comes to language change.  Plenty can change in someone in that amount of time.  Maybe somehow….in that time he changed the stuff inside so that…it is the right thing to do what he's doing.”

Prentice pursed his lips but didn't answer.  He knew there was truth in the communication's chief words.  He had come to like Cardamon and his perspective.  It was unique and challenged his ideas of the aliens out here and back home.  Friendship was a powerful word, but they had started one with the Voth.  Now they would never see him again.  Okada spoke to them, “It is not easy.  He did something for us that no one in this quadrant has come close to equaling.  When the Hirogen get here, I will ask you to fight alongside the Voth.  I need to know you're willing to find a place to store these feelings.”  She looked around the room at each of them and made eye contact.  Each of them gave a slight nod.  “Thank you.  Let's get ready.”

Comments

  • Oh this one kicks in the feels! The helplessness of the situation comes over loud and clear. There is no good option and they’re going to have to make sacrifices on both sides to save the ship. It’s unfair and they all know it, and it comes over loud and clear in frustration and the pain of losing Cardamon back to a life / situation he clearly didn’t want anyway. Nicely written!

    December 11, 2022