Part of SS Vondem Rose: Jailhouse Rock and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Jailhouse Rock – 13

SS Vondem Rose, Depot 816
Late Novmber, 2400
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There had been no call to surrender, no polite request to stand down, just a vicious surprise attack that was as merciless and efficient as could be achieved. It was the type of attack that could only be pulled off right at the start of a fight, only against an unaware enemy and only if the universe itself deemed that such was befitting for those undertaking it.

As it stood, the Devore warship guarding the planet known to them as Depot 816, was at station keeping in orbit over the planet’s sole piece of technical civilisation. Her shields were down, her engines cold, and her weapons offline. Crews scrambled over the hull conducting repairs, making good the ship’s ills from a few months of dealing with the Imperium’s enemies. Most of the crew wouldn’t have even known they were under attack until that final moment when the universe would have exploded around them.

The Vondem Rose had approached from the Devore ship’s dorsal starboard aft, diving down on the Devore warship and in particular a large breach in the warship’s hull. At a quarter impulse, she was crawling by combat standards, but compared to the at-rest Devore ship she streaked by, two torpedoes fired in rapid succession from the ship’s single forward launcher, her disruptors raking along the hull for good measure. The first torpedo had been enough to kill the ship, burying itself deep in the ship and gutting her as matter and antimatter annihilated each other in the tens of megatons range.

The second torpedo punched right through the ship, breaking it into two large pieces as it denoted against the far hull of the ship. And as the Rose sailed past its victim, her rear launcher spat out one last torpedo, targeted at a hatch on the ship’s ventral aspect that they had scouted a few hours before. As the torpedo cracked the hull there it shattered the Devore ship’s antimatter containers and the entire vessel disappeared in a seething ball of plasma instantly.

The shockwave shook the Rose as she swooped into a lower orbit than the Devore ship had occupied. The unexpected light from the hundreds of megatons explosion pushed back clouds in the planet’s atmosphere, flashing so much of the surface in the fury of the early universe from so close. But for those living, or held prisoner, on the planet below, they were spared much of the furious wrath as the Rose imposed itself between them and the bright temporary star.

“Goddess,” Orelia muttered from Ops. “There’s nothing left at all.” She took only a moment more, confirming on her console a single reading. “No distress calls and more importantly no outgoing communications either.”

“Tavol, get me a scan of that compound,” Sidda said from her command chair, spinning on her science officer, grinning like a fool as she did. “I want to know everything about it.”

“Yes captain,” the Vulcan replied, having learned recently not to say ‘ma’am’. With no one to watch them that could shout to the outside world about what they were doing, the Rose was now free to bring her active sensors online, the secrets of the compound below no longer hidden from them.

“Preliminary details on screen now,” he said and almost all attention went to the main viewer. The orbital view of the prison facility was in much finer detail now than before, the purely optical now enhanced with the full suite of active scans. Dots had appeared on the view, red ones clustered primarily in a single compound to the side of a larger one, with a few scattered around the larger compound and fields in groups no smaller than four or five from the looks of it. Then came the wave of blue dots all over the place within the large compound and in the fields near the red dots.

“My initial estimate of nearly five thousand looks to have been incorrect,” Tavol said. “I’m detecting three hundred twenty-seven Devore life signs,” the red dots dutifully blinking in response, “and one thousand, one hundred twenty-two non-Devore life signs. Including humans, bajorans and betazoids and romulans.”

“Right on the money then,” Sidda said as she got to her feet. “Lots of farms though for such a small population.”

“Likely supplying fresh produce for visiting starships in the region,” Tavol continued. “There are storehouses and refrigeration units on site.”

“So, we’ve confirmed prison labour then? Put that on the Devore’s tally card.” Sidda rubbed at her chin for a moment. “Guess we’re not just going to be lucky enough to be able to beam all the prisoners out, are we?”

“They’ve just brought a transporter jammer online that encompasses the compound and most of the farms currently being worked,” Orelia said. “I could grab maybe thirty people.”

“Better than none. Do it,” Sidda said, then turned on Orin. “Get Deidrick, get a team ready to go with me planetside. And grab all the rebreathers you can as well.” With a single sharp nod, Orin was on his way out the door and down the long corridor to the rest of the ship.

“You’re coming back,” Orelia stated as Sidda stepped up beside her.

“Yeah, of course I am,” Sidda said with a smile. “Revin would never forgive me.”

“I mean Orin has already reassured me he’ll drag you out of there if things go wrong,” Orelia said. “I don’t care about your fiancée; I am not taking command of this ship if I can help it.”

“Hey, Orin tends to get shot before I do,” Sidda said, then clasped a hand on her cousin’s shoulder. “Back in a bit, call if trouble shows up earlier than expected.”

Ten minutes later nearly thirty of the Vondem Rose’s crew had materialised in the farmlands outside the Devore prison camp. All but Sidda were wearing rebreathers that encompassed their mouths and noses, filtering everything they breathed and in this instance specifically calibrated for a particular pheromone.

“I feel naked,” Sidda complained, standing in the middle of her people without her jacket. She’d ditched it in the transporter room after taking a small satchel from Bones, with the doctor’s complaints of course, and advice about more exposed skin would help with her bad plan.

“It’s hot enough that leaving your jacket behind,” Deidrick said as he walked up on Sidda’s right, Orin on her left, “was probably the right call.” Most of the men and women around here had opted to leave jackets behind when they’d heard the temperature was thirty-two degrees with seventy per cent humidity. Those that hadn’t were already in the process of shedding jackets.

“But I have such fashionable jackets,” she complained half-heartedly.

“Then just show them your guns boss,” Deidrick said, gave Sidda’s upper arm a light tap with the back of his hand and then walked on with no regard for her playful shocked expression. With a whistle that was likely heard nearly a kilometre away at the compound’s outer walls, he got the rest of the away team’s attention. “Not only is this our boss,” he said turning to point at Sidda, “she’s also our secret weapon here today.”

“Because she’s such a good shot?” someone asked, earning a few laughs.

“Because she says she’s our secret weapon,” Deidrick clarified with no humour in his tone. Any laughter stopped as Orin stepped up beside Deidrick and both men’s glares brought things to a serious level. “We’re going straight for the dilithium stores they’re keeping here on planet. We get those stores; we win the planet. Easy as that.”

“What’s the catch?” someone else asked from behind Sidda.

“The catch,” she said, speaking up nice and loud for all to hear, slowly turning to face all of the away team, “is that none of you are to take off those rebreathers. You’ve also got a number of them with you in your kits. You see a prisoner or one of our people, you give them rebreathers and you tell them to get out of the prison.” As she finished one slow spin, she continued. “Do not take those rebreathers off until you are back aboard the Rose. Understood?”

There were a few murmurs of acceptance, head nods in the affirmative, then a few louder responses when Deidrick barked out his own seeking question. With that settled the band settled into the trek towards the prison camp.

“Commandant, the gaharey troops have reached the outer wall.”

The command centre of Depot 816 was a well-lit room, with monitors liberally spread around supplying feeds from the multitude of cameras inside and outside the prison complex. It served as the all-knowing brain of the facility, watching all movements within the walls. But right now the room was far tenser than normal. General Quarters had been sounded; prisoners forcibly returned to their cells when the gaharey in orbit had landed troops outside the inhibitor field. The commandant had attempted to communicate with these invaders, to give them a chance to surrender before the weight of the Imperium fell upon their heads for their impudence and murder of so many Devore soldiers, but they’d failed to respond.

“Show me,” the older man said as he walked over to the officer who had updated him on the invader’s position.

With a few quick commands and the image that the younger man had been looking at went from one of the many small screens in front of him to the large screen above the consoles in his section, meant for supervisors to look at in situations just like this. It showed a rabble of people, no uniforms to speak of, carrying a variety of weapons that he couldn’t identify at all. Not even the species were identifiable, save some could perhaps be the humans that Command had been warning of.

“Why are they all wearing masks?” he asked rhetorically. “Where is this?”

“Camera 789. Exterior wall of the dilithium storehouse.”

“That won’t do them any good. No direct access from there to here. They will still have to break through a checkpoint to get anywhere important.”

The image feed showed the rabble standing around, watching up the wall and out into the field, most with a relaxed guard, as a few were working on something against the base of the wall. Then with a spoken word, the whole lot moved away in mass before a small explosion tore away at the wall. Just then a dozen minor alarms went off around them.

“Confirmed Commandant, they have breached the storehouse.”

That much was evident as the camera showed them streaming in through the gap they’d blown in the concrete outer wall, while one figure, the only one without a mask on her face, stopping just long enough to look up at the camera, wave, then pull out some long sidearm from a thigh holster and fire at the camera, knocking it out.

But that bit of defiance was for not as the camera inside the storehouse started to track the team’s movements as they broke up into two lots, heading for the only two proper exits out. They stacked up, waiting, not proceeding just yet.

But one camera showed the green-skinned woman, accompanied by a singular green-skinned man who while as large as the commandant himself, was all muscle and youth compared to his portlier self. She stopped at one of the cases in the room and cracked it open a touch, bathing herself in the blood-red glow emanating from within.

“Aside from the exterior wall, is the rest of the storehouse’s shielding still good?” the commandant asked.

“Yes Commandant,” the young officer replied. “And all prisoners are in their cells now as well. The lining of their cells should stop anyone from being affected.”

“Save those in there,” the commandant said as he watched the green-skinned woman lift a chunk of the blood dilithium from its storage case, glowing brighter than the raw crystal since it had been cut, shaped and polished, ready for inclusion in a warp drive or whatever else the Imperium was planning. He then watched as she reached into a satchel at her side, pulled out what looked like a gaharey version of their medical injectors and injected herself in the neck before removing a device from behind her ear, the injector and device going into her bag.

“Watch them, I want to know exactly where she is at all times,” the commandant commanded.

“Yes sir,” the young officer replied.

‘Ward says I am to stay with you at all times,’ Orin signed. ‘In case someone else needs to give you a stimulant.’

“Or put the cortical suppressor back on,” Sidda said with a smile. She stretched her neck left and right as she tossed the large chunk of crystal from one hand to another without looking at it. “Man, this feels weird. I feel good.”

‘Stimulant?’ Orin asked.

“No, more than that. Like I could take on the universe,” she replied. “Energised, excited, giddy almost? And pissed off too. Like, really angry, but excited you know?” Orin shook his head in the negative at that. Then she stopped tossing the crystal from hand to hand, put it in the satchel, adjusting it so the strap cut across her chest just right, taking a moment to appreciate the effect, and then smiled as she walked past Orin and to one of the breaching teams.

“All right boys and girls,” she announced herself to the people, disruptor now in hand, “let’s go be bad guys.”

And with that, the doors from the storehouse were blown open as the crew of the Vondem Rose breached Depot 816.


  • I really enjoy your writing, you have a lovely turn of phrase and the introduction here put me right into the thick of the action as the Rose attacked. I loved the action sequence as they get to the depot, especially the part where Sidda waves and shoots out the camera!

    January 15, 2023