It took less than a day for the Devore Imperium to catch up with them. But rather than the scout they were expecting, it was a destroyer big enough to blot their view of space out when it loomed threateningly above them.
“Captain, they’re demanding we drop our shields and prepare to be boarded,” Burton announced into the dead silence of the bridge.
Raan nodded. “Open a ship wide channel… This is the captain to all crew. We have encountered the Devore Imperium, report to your assigned locations and standby to be boarded. Offer no resistance and do not impede their search teams. Mason out.”
Less than two minutes later the ship was swarmed by Imperium search teams, a team barging onto the bridge, weapons drawn. Following behind them was the ‘inspector’. Average height and thin, his gaze was hard as he looked around the bridge.
“More federation,” he said, his voice holding the edge of a sneer. “We have heard of you. I am not impressed. I had been led to believe your vessels were… larger than this, and in better repair. Our scans indicate several issues with your engines and operational systems.”
Raan rose slowly from his chair, just as the deck lurched beneath their feet.
“You will have to excuse us, Inspector,” he said, keeping his voice mild and un-challenging. “Unfortunately our new engineer doesn’t seem to be up to the job, we’ve been having trouble since we left the alpha quadrant…”
Meanwhile in engineering…
“Ola-hai trivarmia te veeeee-AAAAHHHHH-nnnooow!” Dayne sang at the top of his lungs as he rebounded off a bulkhead and into the Imperium search team that was trying to search engineering.
Trying because it was a small engineering bay and everywhere they were trying to look, Dayne was there, a mug of coffee in hand singing one of many old war songs from home. They all had several things in common, mainly they were long, in a dialect that the universal translator didn’t know and he could happily bellow them at the top of his lungs.
While all but flattening the searchers.
“Oh feck, so sorry,” he muttered as he picked one up, making sure they were steady on their feet as he brushed them down.
“Don’t know me own strength. Whoa! There she goes again!” he chortled as the lights all flickered on and off rapidly, and there was what felt like an explosion on a deck below. “Captain’s a useless piece of shivanish,” he announced, somehow now on the opposite side of the search team to the one he’d started.
“I TOLD him that we needed a full overhaul, so I did. But did he listen to me? Oh no, we had to come all the way out here with a busted engine. I doubt we’ll even get back in one piece.”
At his last words, at least three consoles started to blare alarms and the computer announced, “Warning. Coolant pressure in main reaction chamber below optimum levels.”
“Oh feck,” he hissed and hurried across the engineering bay, sliding the last two feet as the ship suddenly lurched. The Imperium searchers went down like skittles, sliding across the suddenly bucking deck to slam into the opposite wall.
“What’s going on?” their lead officer demanded, a snarl on his lips as he rounded on Dayne.
“The ship’s falling apart!” Dayne yelled back over the increasing noise of the alerts. “Coolant pressure still falling, if I don’t get that under control it’ll interfere with the… err, how do you say it?” he threw his hands up in frustration. “The therisamide will be out of alignment which will cause a containment leak and BOOM! The ship is toast! TOAST!”
The search team suddenly looked very nervous. The officer looked at his second in command. “Have you searched every inch in here?”
Why the guy was asking his subordinate, Dayne had no idea, since they’d both been in here the same amount of time and he’d been getting under their feet every step of the way. But that was the manner of bullies everywhere… if in doubt, pass the buck.
“I believe so, sir.” The second in command cast a concerned glance at the warp core, which was now glowing an ominous shade of red. “I… err, given the unstable nature of the ship, perhaps we should hurry and complete our search for the telepaths and make our departure.”
“Indeed, indeed. Excellent plan!”
Dayne kept his grin to himself as the officer in charge hastily agreed, a bead of sweat rolling down his face. As if on cue, the sound of another blast somewhere below their feet rocked engineering and the computer squawked again, “Warning! Antimatter containment at 95% and falling!”
That did it. The search team lost their bottle and practically ran for the exit.
Dayne leaned one hip against the console and resisted the urge to wave them off as they all tried to ram their way through the door at the same time. They bounced off each other, but eventually made it all through and the door shut behind them.
He chuckled, dropping the drunk act. “Computer, cut the alerts in main engineering. Maintain possum protocol throughout the rest of the ship. Lock main engineering, authorisation Bennett Kilo Alpha four seven.”
Tapping his combadge three times, he strode across engineering and opened an access hatch to one of the maintenance tubes. And then he was gone.
Meanwhile in Sickbay…
“These are all the telepaths on board?”
Aida Micheals crossed her arms over her chest, her jaw tight. She didn’t want to answer, she’d sworn oaths to protect and preserve life, and handing over the crew’s telepaths to these… she didn’t even have words harsh enough for the men in front of her, despite serving as a planetary marine before she’d joined Starfleet.
“You have your own methods of detecting telepaths,” she said bluntly. “Why don’t you tell me?”
The small group of men and women corralled in the middle of sickbay all wore the monitors, their neural signatures showing on the screens behind her.
The Imperium officer in front of her grinned, his expression chilling as he indicated the screens behind her. The ones showing the neural activity of the telepaths that had been gathered up.
“Why bother, when you have done our work for us? Round them up,” he ordered his men, and Aida was forced to stand there as they were taken. Forced to stand there and do nothing but watch the men and women under her care be taken into custody where she knew they would be mistreated. Possibly worse.
But stand she did, even when one of the men at the back turned and caught her eye. Harrow.
As soon as the door closed behind them, she reached up and tapped her combadge three times. Then she turned and headed for an access hatch…