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Part of USS Endeavour: All the Devils Are Here and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

All the Devils Are Here – 25

Bridge, USS Endeavour
November 2400
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‘I understand, Governor. You do right.’ Rourke set his lips as he gave a stern nod to the haggard-faced leader of the Brenari colony of Senolok. ‘We don’t want to make evacuation ships a target. The enemy aren’t far now.’

The steel-haired woman looked like not much rattled her, but she had to wring her hands at their daunting circumstances. ‘Our fate is in your hands, then, Captain.’

‘We won’t let you down.’ The viewscreen died, and Rourke ran his hands through his hair as he turned back to the bridge. ‘Let’s not make that a lie, people.’

There was a chirrup from Ops, and Athaka tensed as he read. Rourke watched him with a hint of impatience, knowing what was coming, not liking that the nervy young deputy was yet again on his bridge for a battle. ‘Two minutes,’ the lieutenant said at last.

‘Right. Put me through to the whole ship, Elsa.’ Rourke blew out his cheeks. Before them on the viewscreen now spun the gentle orb of Senolok, all blues and greens and the faintest shimmer of the orbital shield that protected them from outside threats – except for the one bearing down in seconds. The Brenari leadership had been appalled at Starfleet’s news, and begun a cautious evacuation of some of their most vulnerable, though Rourke had warned about sending too much of a convoy; if the Devore pursued, they could not be protected. Orbital defences were active and powered and gave Endeavour some bolstering, but they were not ready for a full militarised assault.

At Lindgren’s nod, he drew a sharp breath. ‘All hands, this is the captain. In moments, warships of the Devore Imperium will be here, set to slaughter the people of Senolok. We’re not going to let that happen. I know it’s a tall order; I know we’re outgunned and relying on a theory, and even if we stop them from killing the telepaths, they might blow us up out of spite.

‘But I don’t know how to stand on the sidelines and watch as this happens. I don’t know how we shrug and move on without even trying. We’re Starfleet, and I know none of you want to walk away and leave these people to this suffering and slaughter. I don’t know how much of a chance we have, I truly don’t. But I know we have no choice. Because this is who we are. And the Devore have to go through us.’

There were chirrups at consoles, flickers in between the distant stars on the viewscreen. Three warships dropped out of warp and began their laborious approach.

Rourke gave a tight, humourless smile. ‘Here they come.’

‘I’m monitoring,’ Danjuma said unhappily, ‘for high levels – that is, any levels – of psionic energy from their ships. Probably the one we faced at Taxtose. Once we’re sure they’ve got the Regulator and are using it, I’ll report.’

‘Because we could,’ mused Kharth, ‘always just blow that one asshole ship up.’

‘It’s on the list,’ said Rourke, easing back into the command chair. ‘Bring us about, Mister Arys.’

‘Black Knights are in formation,’ Rosewood called from mission control at the aft. ‘Ready to intercept any long-range torpedoes.’

‘Sir,’ called Lindgren. ‘Lead Devore ship is hailing us.’

Rourke threw a wink to Valance. ‘Time to be a convincing distraction. On screen.’

‘Endeavour, you don’t seem to realise how this works,’ came the cool, collected tones of Commissioner Halyx. ‘You kept your tail between your legs at Taxtose, when you might, might have beaten us. Now the odds are worse, and you’re standing your ground against three Devore warships?

‘None of my Academy instructors ever said I was smart,’ Rourke said amiably. ‘But no, fighting isn’t my first port of call here, Halyx. I’m hoping to reason with you. What do you gain from this attack?’

A demonstration of the might of -’

‘You’ve turned everyone against you as you’ve expanded your borders. Your military can’t sustain this expansion and protect your new territory in the manner to which your people have become accustomed. You have a whole slew of more gaharey on your new worlds; you have to do something with them. And I dare say most Devore accept the simple, clean words of “relocation,” without thinking too hard about what it means.’ He waited a beat for emphasis. ‘How will your citizens feel about openly slaughtering people in their millions? People far from your borders, or in the new territories you didn’t need to take? How will they feel when your borders are attacked by all these new enemies – when they fall because you don’t have the defensive infrastructure? How will that reflect on your glorious Imperium when you pick a fight you can’t win?’

Halyx’s expression didn’t shift. ‘Are you done, Captain?’

Rourke’s shoulders sank. ‘Soon, Commissioner,’ he sighed. ‘Soon.’ With a curt wave of the hand, he had Lindgren cut the line.

Valance looked up at him, eyebrow raised. ‘That was for show?’

‘It should have been,’ he grumbled, sitting back. ‘I don’t know why I expect these people to listen to reason.’

‘Reason would rip their whole world view apart,’ she pointed out. ‘Theirs aren’t intellectually honest principles.’

‘So let’s blow them up like the authoritarian assholes they are,’ suggested Kharth, with a bravado Rourke felt was, for once, intentionally offered to buoy spirits.

‘They’re closing,’ Arys affirmed. ‘And fast. Escort ships are flanking the lead. They won’t let us get an easy line of attack.’

Danjuma’s breath caught. ‘I’m reading high emissions of psionic energy from the lead ship, sir. They’ve activated the Regulator.’

‘Then we’ve run out of options.’ Rourke leaned on the armrest, gaze sweeping across the crew. ‘We have to give the Guinevere time to take out their blood dilithium.’ He nodded. ‘Step to contact.’


A beep from her controls dragged Thawn’s eyes away from the system-wide sensor feed confirming Endeavour was engaging the Devore. ‘Probe is away,’ she reported, focus returning to the here and now. ‘How’s the distortion looking?’

Airex sucked his teeth. ‘Exposure to the tachyons is exacerbating the disturbance. I’m detecting   multiple – minor – subspace fractions.’

From the pilot’s controls of the runabout Guinevere’s cockpit, Lieutenant Harkon gave a low whistle. ‘Enough for this to suck up all the blood dilithium?’

‘It’ll work,’ said Airex with a confidence Thawn could sense he didn’t entirely feel. ‘The question is how long it’ll take.’

Thawn drummed her fingers on the console, jaw tight as she read. ‘Antiproton bursts off the probe are dissipating in proximity to the anomaly. It’s doing something.’

‘Is the probe still there?’

She nodded. ‘The fractures aren’t big enough to consume it.’

‘This,’ said Harkon nervously, ‘doesn’t sound like it’s definitely going to work.’

Thawn looked back at the main sensor feed to see how the battle was progressing. Endeavour was trying to keep itself between the Devore ships and the planet, likely to disrupt any of their efforts to activate the Regulator. It would still not be enough. Their only advantage was that it would take time for exposure to become lethal to the telepaths on Senolok.

With a scowl she stood and turned to the aft. ‘I’m going to monitor our blood dilithium.’ She was only halfway to the rear cabin before the wave of feelings rushing from nowhere hit her almost hard enough to break her in half.

There is light –

– freedom –

– escape –

She slammed her eyes shut as relief filled her, relief that was not her own and was, from her position, entirely premature. ‘It’s working,’ she croaked, almost too quiet to be heard. ‘The ghosts, the echoes, they’re – it’s working.’

Airex was at her shoulder, helping her to stand steady and guiding her towards the rear cabin. ‘We can do this,’ he insisted. But when they looked at the display on the blood dilithium’s containment, all readings remained familiar and steady. The crystals were still nestled within.

‘This isn’t happening fast enough,’ Thawn breathed. ‘Our sample should be disappearing first…’

‘Give it time,’ said Airex, though his jaw was tight.

Thawn crossed to the wall panel and brought up the sensor feed. The dots of Senolok and the battle raging above shone bright, and at the tap of a button she redirected the Guinevere’s sensors to scan the ships more closely. ‘Endeavour’s taking a hammering.’

‘We’ve barely started -’

‘And they’re not going to last if we take this long.’

Airex drew a faltering breath. ‘I share your fears, Lieutenant. But we’re doing all we can.’

She bit her lip. ‘Maybe.’ Another press of the button brought up a fresh display, this one Airex’s own notes on their records about the Vizan Regulator from Taxtose. ‘This thing draws on the psionic energy in the blood dilithium, and it can do that because… because the Vaadwaur figured out something we never did: how to manipulate this psionic energy with technology.’

‘I’m not sure how it works,’ Airex admitted. ‘There are scientific principles I’m unfamiliar with in their research – or at least, how it all fits together.’

‘With this connectivity, they’re drawing the psionic energy from the crystals and fully into this dimension, while we want it back in subspace.’ She wasn’t sure what she was driving at; knew she was reading out loud with the forlorn hope it would lead to some spark of inspiration.

‘The antiproton bursts will still work,’ Airex insisted. ‘They’ll run out of their power source as the blood dilithium dissipates.’

Thawn closed her eyes, leaning on the console. ‘They’re happy, the Brenari echoes,’ she breathed. ‘But there’s something else. I don’t know if they can sense the Devore, sense that they’re being turned into a weapon; I don’t know if it’s just that being freed means they’re letting go of vengeance… but I can still feel that anger on the edge.’

‘Once the probe does its work,’ Airex said, ‘they won’t be a weapon any -’

Thawn’s eyes flashed open. ‘I know what I have to do.’ She rounded back on the central equipment, but it was past the main containment controls that she walked, and instead advanced on the subspace trumpet.

‘Lieutenant…’ He sounded even more tense. ‘Using the trumpet isn’t necessary by the reports -’

‘The reports say it might make it easier. Easier could mean faster,’ she pointed out, but by the look in his eye, she could tell he didn’t believe her. That was fine; he had no way to suspect what she really intended, and no grounds to refuse her. ‘Don’t talk about risk to me when everyone’s necks are on the line on Endeavour, and all we’re doing is standing by…’

‘We’re not standing by.’ But he shook his head at last. ‘Fine. Be careful, Lieutenant.’

She reached for the cortical scanners and pressed them to her temples. ‘We are far, far past that point, sir. I don’t intend to be careful. I intend to succeed.’

Comments

  • And it begins the fight against the Devore in order to stop them from killing so many Brenari, though can they do it in time? I am on the edge of my seat wondering how this is going to end as well as when will they find out that Nate is on that Devore ship! I hope Thawn knows what she's doing and can get results that the probe just isn't accomplishing fast enough. Can't wait to see how this all ends!

    December 9, 2022
  • After the debates and worries about Starfleet's lasting impact on the Gradin Belt, the predictions of the Devore really landed with me. Rourke may have been shouting into the wind, but he raises some compelling theories about how the Devore's expansion probably can't last at the rate it's been going. Truer words were hardly spoken than Valance's ‘Theirs aren’t intellectually honest principles' even if it was perfectly perfectly undercut by Kharth's quip. This is building up to a properly epic conclusion. I love the imagery of the Endeavour outnumbered by the Devore to protect a whole world.

    December 11, 2022