The console lights flickered as the Mackenzie took the brunt of the phaser fire from the Cardassian ship, and Harris tightened his grip on his chair. The opening act of the battle had seen both ships bloody each other’s noses. Now they were working towards more body blows. The bridge crew had activated the seat straps, and Kondo was thankful for them as the deck shook erratically under another punishing blow from the Cardassian torpedoes. He reported, “Captain, we’ve got reports of power and systems losses on multiple decks at points of torpedo impacts. Damage control teams are working on reversing the effect with little impact.”
Harris tapped at the consoles on the arms of his chair, “Chief Kondo, feel free to push back a little harder. Gul, tell me you’re making progress.” The lights above flickered, and a vent exploded in the back of the bridge as the ship was punched with more phaser fire.
Hasara had strapped himself into a console on the side of the bridge and was working quickly, “The power grid dynamics are taking more work than anticipated.” Another round of punches rumbled through the bridge, a few consoles sparking. “I will work faster.”
Kondo grumbled, “Captain, permission to use quantum torpedoes? Our standard group isn’t having an impact on them.” Harris gave a nod as Prentice did his best to bob and weave the large Excelsior II class starship.
De La Fontaine blasted at the advanced Galor ship with overcharged phasers targeted at what he had discovered might be weak points in the power grid of the jerry-rigged ship. The shields yellowed his tactical display, and he reported with some relief, “Target’s shields are at 70%. Our shields are at 75%. Quantum torpedoes loaded.” The Mackenzie swerved hard to starboard, and Prentice grimaced at the inertial dampeners protesting while Kondo lined up his firing points. The bridge shook roughly this time as the Galor kicked the secondary hill with torpedoes and phaser blasts. Still, the Mackenzie returned the volley as the two ships turned away from each other for a moment’s respite.
Harris noticed some smoke in the air and glanced at the Master Situations Monitor in the back as fire licked at the bottom of it. A damage control team burst through the door and went to work. His badge beeped=^=Chief Okada to bridge – those last torpedoes hit some pretty sensitive systems – we’ve lost power and equipment on multiple engineering decks. We’re looking at a warp core issue – I may have to take her offline if I can’t stabilize the chamber.=^=
Harris acknowledged her and glanced ahead. On the screen, the Galor class ship was leaking something off its hull, and yet she was still turning back to face them. Ambrose asked, “Kondo, report.”
The tactical chief tapped at his console, “Their shields are at 50%; ours are holding at 60 and regenerating but slowly – they hit some of our generators with their special torpedoes.” He thought for a second, “Give me a moment.” He tapped his hands across his console, “I think I can take…Gul – get me the data you had on the impacts on us and the firing from them – there should be some data in the travel time from then to us as well.” Hasara gave a nod and pulled the data, sending it to Kondo’s console. The Cardassian ship was picking up speed and closing the range between them on the screen. De La Fontaine spoke as his hands worked, flying through console commands, “I think I can roughly replicate the effect of their torpedoes – it won’t be as targeted, but it should get the job done.” His console began to beep. They were coming into range. He glanced at the Chief Helm officer to his left, “Prentice, stall with some fancy moves. Give me…twenty seconds.”
William grinned, “Let’s be fancy flyers. Hold on, everyone.” The Mackenzie banked hard, this time to the port, and pushed the impulse engines to the redline as they roared, giving the helm the chance to separate the distance from the enemy ship while also evading the scattered phaser fire erupting from the Cardassian ship. It spat indiscriminately against Prentice’s moves, and very few of the shots struck home. It had given Kondo his time.
“Prentice, attack run double jump alpha.” The helm officer snapped the ship into a high climb that shorted out several of the inertial dampeners as sparks flew from conduits across the ship. As if on a rollercoaster, he slammed the ship into a dive, the Galor ship in their crosshairs. Kondo fired as they rumbled downwards – every phaser bank and modified torpedo pounded into the Cardassian ship, the lights flickering for a moment and then blinking out. The ship came to a halt and hung at an awkward angle. Prentice pulled the Mackenzie around to face the now disabled ship. Kondo reported, “The ship is fully offline– our modifications worked a little too well. Something interesting – I am detecting no life signs – dead or alive, sir.”
Harris turned to Fowler, who was shaking her head, “Confirmed – no biological life signs. Sensors aren’t picking up any historical data either – I’m not sure anyone was onboard the ship, sir.”
Ambrose replied, “Then how in the world…who’s flying the thing?” Before anyone could answer, his badge beeped again.
=^=Chief Okada to bridge – we’re taking the core offline, sir. Her support systems took too many hits, and we’re going into emergency stabilization mode. We have to shift to auxiliary power; captain – impulse generators, together with battery power, should hold us while we get this girl back in the green=^=
Harris sighed, “Understood, chief – use who you need from wherever you need to get what needs to be done.” The lights dulled and shifted as the power systems kicked in to regulate the reduced power operation.
Atega spoke up from her station, “Sir, I think I know how they did it.” He stood, thankful for answers to something, and moved to where she sat, glancing at her screens as she spoke, “We know the Arretans are powerful and have an as yet fully documented list of abilities.” She tapped the console, “I monitor all signals at all times across all bandwidths and frequencies – I’m expanding my list day by day. This signal on a unique band appeared the moment that ship appeared – both times. It’s the same signal. I was able to do some tracing work – long-range sensors approximate it’s coming from the Palasa Operations Planet that the Arretans seized.” She turned to her commanding officer, “I think they use the Jade Dilithium to control people…but also ships.”
T’saath was reading through the data at her console next to her chair, “It’s logical, sir. There’s a similar precedent in a recent mission report from the USS Mercy.”
Harris gave a nod. He’d read the reports and bookmarked them for later study. The engineering implications alone were fascinating and terrifying. “So the Arretans put the four Galor ships together, and instead of risking another debacle with living beings at the control, they tried…remote controlling it?”
His XO replied, “It appears they are attempting to innovate ways to attack us and eventually subjugate us. This does present a unique opportunity.” She turned to Hasra, “The Jade Dilithium onboard has been disabled – we could board the ship and extract records, sensor information – anything that can assist us in putting a stop to the Arretan’s efforts.”
The Gul agreed, “There would be a great amount of data on that ship, Captain. Data that not even the Arretans were aware was being collected.”
Ambrose looked to both of them, “I agree. Both of you will go – and stay together. That is an order. You’ll take away team Beta with you. You take one step away from the team, Gul, and I will transport you right back here to me.”
Hasara smiled quietly, “Whatever do you take me for, Captain?”
Harris raised both eyebrows, “A Cardassian. What do you take me for?”
The Gul stood and followed T’saath to the turbolift, “A captain with no sense of humor.”
The door closed, and Harris let out a small sigh, “Sometimes I really do dislike him.” He turned to Fowler and Atega, “Keep eyes and ears out for anything. The moment you see something suspicious, pull them back. Tir, you have the CONN. I need to find out how badly our girl’s been hit.” He bounced up to the turbolift and was gone behind the door seconds later.