Part of RRW Jarok: M1-Part II: To Be or Not To Be

Well that’s a problem…or is it?

Jarok's Bridge / Anat Star System
October 2400
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The helm station made a notification chirp that got Isha’s attention. She read the information before she turned in her seat to look at Saren and Orex. “We’re about to drop out of warp. I had plotted a course for our drop point to be outside the star system.”

Saren nodded his head. “Good. Once we drop out, I want a full sensor sweep of the system.” He looked to Vuzhan with that order. Everyone had a temporary place on the Bridge, at least until they get a full crew, so he had Vuzhan take operations for now.

“Aye, Sir,” Vuzhan affirmed in his usual gravelly tone. “Anat System readouts coming in now. It has 5 planetary bodies, all terrestrial save for the last. Anat 1 is possibly M-class. The star is a red dwarf, not putting out a ton of light or heat of course. It’s got… hang on.” Vuzhan narrowed his gaze and his upper lip curled into a snarl. “Commander, the transponder ping of a D’deridex-class warbird has been detected between planets 2 and 3.”

Straightening her posture ever-so-slightly, Herrana stood close to Saren and spoke to him softly. “Sir, I recommend taking cover inside the gas of Anat 5. It’s possible that the D’deridex may already have detected us, but they won’t be able to pinpoint our location through the atmosphere and radiation of your standard gas giant.”

Saren approached the helm station just when Vuzhan mentioned the warbird but was glad that Orex had the same idea. “Isha.” That was all Saren had to say, as he could already see her changing Jarok‘s course.

“Already on it, Commander,” Isha announced as she eased the Jarok into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant after raising the ship’s shields.

Saren smiled. “All right. Now that we’re in cover, engage the cloaking device.”

Isha began inputting the command to comply but an error popped up on her screen. With a frown, she attempted again and the same error cropped up. “I would love to, but the system saying it is not functioning.”

Saren turned on his feet to look at N’Vek. “I suppose the only chance you would know if something was wrong with it is when we attempt to activate it, correct?” He asked, curious as to why this was missed. He wasn’t upset or disappointed, just figured that sometimes, issues don’t show themselves until you try to turn it on.

N’Vek winced and closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose as he let out an audible sigh, “Yes, sir. I’m afraid that is correct. There’s only so much a diagnostics and simulation run can do. Some issues only show in actual performance.” He swiftly walked over towards Isha and leaned over her slightly to read the error

When Isha felt N’Vek was looking over her shoulder, she brought up the error report and opened the detailed section where lines of code would run through. Eventually, it would halt and show several lines flashing red, indicating what was wrong with the cloaking device.

Meanwhile, on the D’Deridex Warbird

Commander Tumek stood there behind her soldiers in the corridor to main engineering. Currently, the only one accessible to such a location, as all other corridors were sealed shut by bulkheads and forcefields. Those of which, her authorization codes failed to open, which was to be expected during an onboard mutiny. Both sides had lost several crewmembers during the initial uprising but the mutineers managed to gain control of main engineering, which gave them control of the ship’s vital functions. Her first officer was one of those who mutinied against her and managed to lock her out of key systems. Such as control of life support, security systems, and airlocks. She couldn’t engage the ship’s security countermeasures, open up several sections to the vacuum of space, or vent certain decks full of deadly gas. No. She was forced to command her loyal crew in a fight to regain control of her ship, section by section, deck by deck. Now she was in the position to find out who originally started this mutiny, as the mutineers have chosen to negotiate. At first, she thought it was her first officer who initiated it but clearly she was mistaken.

On the other side of the corridor, guarding the intersection that leads to main engineering were a bunch of crewmembers with rifles and pistols, all aimed down at the loyalists at the Commander. Of course, everyone was ordered to hold fire while the negotiations took place but there was always a chance for someone to get a little itchy trigger finger, or mentally lose control and snap. But the leader of the mutinied crew had faith in their will to remain calm, as the individual in commando armor stepped forward, establishing that they were the ones in charge.

Commander Tumek smirked and spoke softly behind her. “Get ready to take them out.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The individual’s voice boomed loudly as the helmet amplified their voice. Perhaps putting on a little show. The hands rose up to their helmet, the fingers immediately finding the release from memory. With the right force and motion, the helmet hissed as the airtight seal was released. Then slowly the helmet was pulled up and off their head, and they took the helmet in their left hand and rested it against their left hip.

Tumek’s eyes widened for only a second, then she regained her composure and smirked. “I should have known that you were behind all of this, Jadek!”

Jadek smirked. “Well, I had to do something.” Jadek then turned at the waist only slightly to toss his helmet backward at one of the crewmembers behind him, who caught it with ease. He then returned his attention to Commander Tumek.

“You better be careful, Jadek. That overconfidence will get you killed.” Said Tumek.

Jadek smiled. “You know, I was just about to say the exact same thing. You see, you know what my commandos and I are capable of. As we speak, I have eyes and ears in these walls.” Jadek then pointed at the ceiling. “In case you forgot, there is a maintenance tunnel right above us and I got a guy who’s got the very weapon that will pierce through the wall like butter. So, telling your people to take me out kinda hurts my feelings a little bit.”

Tumek scoffed. “You lie. You have no such weaponry. I know the ship’s manifest like the back of my hand.”

Jadek bobbed his head from side to side. “Eehh…kinda. You may know your ship‘s manifest but you don’t know my commando‘s manifest. Sure when my squad was attached to your ship, you were given the basic manifest but you weren’t given everything. Kind of defeats the purpose.”

Tumek frowned at him. “What do you want?” She asked with much annoyance in her voice.

Jadek smiled and opened his arms with his hands up, palms open. “I just want you to surrender full control of the ship to me, and there will be no more bloodshed.”

Tumek scoffed. “Unacceptable. As Commander of an Imperial Warbird, relinquishing my command to anyone is treason and punishable by death.”

Jadek rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, Tumek! The Empire is dead! There are no more rules, no more regulations, no employee policy handbook, just us and the galaxy.”

“And that is where you are wrong, Jadek! The Empire is forever!” Tumek raised her voice at him.

Jadek sighed with a shake of his head. “And that is why I had to stop you. Why we,” He opened his arms up more, gesturing to those behind him. “Had to stop you. Ordering me or anyone else on this ship to slaughter innocent civilian lives because they chose to leave a system that has failed us, is just blind and stupid.”

“You better watch your mouth, Jadek!” Tumek growled.

“Or what?” Jadek raised his voice before dropping it down. “You know I’m right, Tumek. Ever since we lost our homeworld, the Empire became corrupt and broken. Colonies were begging for help and the Empire did nothing! That is why it collapsed, that is why the Empire is no more!”

That is enough!” Tumek shouted. “I refused to accept that the Empire is gone and I refuse to accept any terms from you. As of this moment, these negotiations are over and I swear to you, Jadek. I will take back my ship, at whatever the cost!”

“Even if it costs you your soul, Commander?!” Jadek asked her. “Because that is exactly what it will take to get back your ship. And anyone else who continues to follow you so blindly, might as well sell their souls along with yours.”

“Jadek! It’s ready!” A voice came from the terminal on his left arm.

Tumek looked at it and then back at him. “What was that?!”

Jadek sighed then threw up his arms. “A backup plan in case I couldn’t change your mind.” Jadek then raised his left arm up and pressed a button on the terminal. “Do it.” With one command, a forcefield was erected between them.

“No!” Tumek shouted.

Jadek shrugged again. “Until you surrender full control of this ship, I will do everything I can to keep you away from main engineering.”

“I will find a way, Jadek! And when I do, I will have your head! I swear it!”

Jadek wiggled a finger. “Temper, temper, Commander. Best not look distraught in front of your loyal crew.” He then turned around at his feet and signaled everyone to leave.

As soon as Jadek and his people made it back to main engineering, someone approached him. It was Dosek, Jadek’s second in command. “We have a problem.”

Jadek raised his brows. “I know that.”

“Not the one we’re dealing with now, Jadek.” Dosek then led Jadek to a nearby terminal and pointed. “I’m talking about this.” What Dosek was pointing at was a sensor log.

“Okay, so you got access to the sensor logs.” Said Jadek.

Dosek rolled his eyes. “Stop playing around, Jadek! This is serious!” Dosek then pressed a few buttons and an image popped up. “Imaging scanners were also able to catch it before it disappeared behind the gas giant. But this was taken right at the edge of our scanners.”

“Magnify and enhance it,” Jadek ordered.

Dosek shook his head. “This is magnified and enhanced. As I said, right at the edge of our scanners.” The image showed a very blurred object but through training and years of experience studying images like these, they could identify it as a warbird. Dosek did, and he knew Jadek will too.

“Do we know which direction it came from?” Jadek asked.

Dosek grabbed a pad with data that had been put together and analyzed by other commandos. “Two theories. It either came from the Romulan Republic or it could be another Imperial vessel or a Free State warbird; either or could have circled around to make it look like they’re friendly.”

Jadek shook his head. “Doesn’t make sense. If it was Imperial, they would have come to us right away. If it was Free State or Romulan Republic, they would have engaged cloak and be right on top of us.”

“It’s possible that their cloaking device is damaged. Why else would they hide behind the gas giant?” Dosek asked rhetorically.

Jadek nodded his head with the same thought in mind. “Keep an eye on the sensors. Scan for any tachyon emissions, or anything at all that would indicate a cloaked vessel. If by some chance their cloaking device is damaged, they could still send small crafts and all of our crafts can cloak. I don’t want any surprises.”

“What if they’re Imperial?” Dosek asked.

Jadek pursed his lips with a thought he had hoped to avoid. “We can’t chance it if they are. The moment you know where a cloaked ship is, destroy it.”

“Understood.” Said Dosek.

Saren crossed his arms over his chest with a heavy sigh. “Well, since we can’t cloak the ship, I say we take a shuttle, cloak it and approach the warbird. Find out if it is Imperial, what they’re doing above the colony, and see what we can do to get rid of it. We still have the element of surprise on our hands, if we can approach the warbird in a cloaked shuttle without being detected, we could sneak a few torpedoes on board. Perhaps overload them and beam them directly to engineering?” Saren suggested, curious as to what others would say.

Thisbe sat at a console, a little lost about the exact Romulan phraseology being thrown around. Kardæsi and even Bajoran were much different languages, and the only thing she had in common with these folks was that she wasn’t Terran. Still, the basics were the same; there was the “go”, “Stop” and “warp speed” controls, as well as several weaponry ones. Right now, she was focused on the ship in their peripheral radar, even though the others already knew. Dogfighting she could handle; didn’t want to, but could. She spoke up, though. “Beam them to Engineering?”Actually, that could work. “I have some tools out but nothing that would pose a danger; I can get those put away quickly.” Finally, some action! 

“Assuming the D’deridex doesn’t have the necessary ambient sensors to detect a cloaked shuttle, that isn’t a bad idea,” Herrana nodded as Saren spoke. “Any offensive action would rely on them not raising shields, though. As such, we’d only have first strike capability… the second we’re targeted, we’re out of options.”

N’Vek raised a brow, “My brother infiltrated a D’Deridex before. In a shuttle, yes. I think it was Federation built. So it is possible, I know it is.”

Saren nodded his head. “Right. Isha. Prar. N’Vek. Stay with the ship. N’Vek, see what you can do in fixing the ship’s cloak. The rest of us will take the shuttle, drop a buoy here,” Saren brought up the system map and pointed at a spot on the side of the gas giant. “It will act as a transceiver. This way, if we were able to determine that the ship is friendly, we can send a message to you three, so that you can bring the ship to us.”

Isha nodded her head. “Understood.”

N’Vek smiled tersely, inclining his head sharply once, “Yes, understood. I will have it fixed.” He was vibily irritated at his own errors.

Saren nodded once again. “Vuzhan, head to the torpedo bay and tag a couple of torpedoes. We will beam you and the torpedoes over onto the runabout. Orex, Parau, let’s go.” Saren led them to the shuttle bay where they will board the runabout they used to get to this ship.

N’Vek waited till the others started to walk away before he threw up his hands dramatically to himself adn uttered a few expletives under his breath as he headed off towards the cloaking device.

“Bring us in nice and slow, don’t want the emissions from our engines throwing the cloak off,” Saren told Orex, who he had asked to pilot the runabout. Surely the cloak was advanced enough not to be affected by such old flaws but in this situation, runabout to a D’Deridex class, he didn’t want to take any chances.

“Aye, Commander,” Herrana replied, sliding back the shuttle’s impulse power as the D’Deridex grew to accommodate nearly the entire viewscreen. She hadn’t seen one of these in twelve years – not nearly enough time to forget the class’s gargantuan size, but perhaps enough time to forget how daunting it was to approach one. In proportion to their size, a D’Deridex was actually slightly under-gunned compared to their new ship, yet it was simply so large that even a fully powered Valdore would struggle to knock it out of a fight.

Saren began to run a passive scan. He did not want to take any chances of revealing their location. It took a little longer but he got the information he was looking for. Which left a frown on his face. “Strange. There are two large groups of life signs throughout the ship. One large group near the command section and the other in the engineering section. Something is certainly off.”

Suddenly a tractor beam latched onto the shuttle which disrupted the cloak and left them completely hopeless to the warbird before them. Sarex stared at where the tractor beam originated from. “Well, that’s not good.”

“I don’t know who you are, or why you are here but you have fifteen seconds to explain yourselves before I fire on you. Starting now.” A voice came from the intercom, indicating that they didn’t hail them directly but created an open channel.

The shuttle’s sensors detected a power buildup in the aft disruptor beam emitter. Time was of the essence.