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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 15: Dark Voids of Ichor (The Lost Fleet) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Part I

Deck One
Stardate 24013.9, 0630 Hours
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As the star of Leonis welcomed the dawn of a new day in the Deneb region, the peaceful silence of space was disrupted by the damaged Hathaway starship leaking warp plasma into the sky. It had been seven long days since the enemy invasion, and four since the Starfleet Auxiliary had evacuated the system. Hathaway was the last remaining Starfleet vessel in the area, constantly under attack from the relentless Jem’Hadar assault wing. Despite being one of the fleet’s most advanced starships, Hathaway struggled to withstand the persistent attacks. The enemy saw her as a tempting target, with her advanced systems, high profile, and expected role in any counteroffensive. Her shields had taken a beating, and now the ship faced the threat of being crippled.

Weapons and shields had been the focus of the enemy attacks on days one and two, while day three had seen the Jem’Hadar take out the ship’s sensor arrays, leading to a surprise ambush the following evening in orbit of Leonis II. Day four of the attacks had been the most damaging yet, the enemy having a single target now – to stop Hathaway from evading their attacks any further. Engines, impulse and warp alike, had been the order of the day. A sustained barrage of the ventral port nacelle had reduced the ship to impulse speeds only for the foreseeable, with streams of warp plasma leaking into the Leonis system. Luckily, phaser fire had been enough to deter the Jem’Hadar. Until now. Unrelenting, uncompromising. All in the pursuit of their own mandate – Victory is life!

With Hathaway limping through the system, hoping to hide behind some of the natural satellites orbiting the different planetoids until repairs allowed them to warp to safety, the crew had no choice but to brace themselves for the fifth day of attacks to begin. Sitting at the heart of the bridge, flanked by his trusted lieutenants, Captain Gor watched the holographic viewscreen intently. It showed three Jem’Hadar attack fighters dropping from warp on the edge of the system and closing in. Fast. All around him, tired officers remained glued to their stations, some having been at their panels far longer than they perhaps should have. Signs of debris littered the once pristine metallic deck plating; the strobe lighting of red alert had become static, the clearest indication of just how long the ship had been at battle stations.

“Status of the engines?”

“Warp drive still offline Captain,” Or’uil growled through gritted teeth, his synthesiser raising the pitch of his anger to an almost shriek.

“Henry, standby for evasive manoeuvres. Noli, standby all weapons,” the order from the Trill XO received short shrift from both officers. As if they didn’t know the drill by now. Henry had been watching the attack ships advancing for an hour, ever since the long-range sensors had partially returned, and Noli hadn’t taken her finger away from the proverbial trigger for what felt like forever.

On the main viewer, symbols attributed to the attack ships closed in, rounding the nearby planetoid and putting them on a collision course with Hathaway in mere seconds. Reaching for the panel on his armrest, the Captain opened the internal comm. “All hands, brace for an attack,” his instruction issued as calmly as possible despite the sense of dread it probably induced across all sixteen decks.

“Evasive manoeuvres,” Giarvar called from the Captain’s right, “Noli, you know what to do.”

In the seconds it took the attack ships to close in on Hathaway, the ship lurched to starboard and began a downward evasive angle away from the far more manoeuvrable fighters, the plumes of warp plasma from her nacelle a very visual guide as to her trajectory. Phased polaron beams erupted from the pursuing ships, all targeted towards the upper nacelles where the damage had already been done. As the Sagan weaved its way through the system, ably evading the weapons fire thanks to Mitchell’s efforts at the CONN, bursts of fire from her aft weapons arc allowed Commander Noli to mount some sort of offence against their enemy. An impact on the ship’s starboard ventral nacelle almost caused her shields to buckle while the ground beneath everyone’s feet groaned under duress.

Gripping the arms of his chair as if his very existence depended on it, the Tellarite in command bared his teeth as another torpedo bolt hit their shields and a shower of sparks from the ceiling illuminated the bridge.

“Akaria!” he growled, glaring across at the starboard, “I would like a ship left by the end of this. Are you done?!”

Rocking under another bombardment, holding on to the console in front of her as the ship banked away from its aggressors, Akaria cursed under her breath. “I’m almost there,” she responded through gritted teeth, trying to power her way to her objective despite the chaos around her.

Ducking and weaving through beams of weapons fire and bright orbs of polaron energy slung at her as if from a catapult, Hathaway was surviving for now, but there was only so long she could last under such a sustained attack. As always, the onslaught was relentless, the Jem’Hadar attack ships never tiring in their chase.

“I’ve got it! We’re done,” Akaria finally declared, spinning her head to give a nod to the Captain, who repeated it back to her.

Tapping the arm of his chair, the ship-wide comm chirped and his words once again echoed across the ship. “This is the Captain,” he beckoned, “restart authorised.”

Within seconds, and as if a singular switch had been flicked somewhere in the depths of the ship, lights flickered on, systems powered up, the trail of warp plasma behind them ceased emitting its noxious gases and the nacelle’s stopped flickering.

“Henry; Noli. Go!” Vasoch barked.

Once Henry’s hands deftly danced across his panel, Hathaway instantaneously responded, performing a high-energy turn and bringing itself around to face its attackers. With its shields somehow restored, the mighty Sagan’s forward weapons arc exploded to life in a hail of torpedoes and lances of phased energy. Whilst the attack ships on the flanks exploded, the third vessel hurtled over the ventral hull of the Starfleet vessel at maximum impulse, turning to come about and attack the Federations from behind one last time, one final attempt to avenge their fallen comrades who had been duped by the Starfleet charade just as they had.

Only another surprise awaited them, much as it did the crew of Hathaway. Out of nowhere, a second set of Starfleet weapons fire erupted and annihilated the Dominion fighter in a blaze of misplaced glory. The Hathaway bridge rumbled as the large Starfleet vessel slipped over her primary hull and into view several hundred metres away, a great sigh of relief from all around the bridge as the ‘ordeal’ of the last week was finally at an end.

“Good work people,” Vasoch grinned like a Klingon on bloodwine. “Akaria, transmit your detailed sensor analysis of the Jem’Hadar fighters and their tactics fleet-wide, and to our colleagues in the 514. Let’s hope someone can make use of them,” he nodded appreciatively at the science chief for her efforts.

“Already on it Captain,” the Risian confirmed, turning back to her station.

“Stand down red alert,” Commander Kauhn smiled, rising from his command chair and looking across at the blonde bombshell. “I don’t know about you, Noli, but I’m glad we’re not going to need to exhaust our phaser banks today,” the Trill laughed a little.

“Next time you two cook up such a plan, let me order a few dozen extra torpedoes, please?” she smirked, “…Just in case.”

It wasn’t long before word reached the crew that the ship that had swooped into their rescue was the starship Nogura and that her Captain was a familiar face to some of them, especially to Captain Gor himself. Captain Keziah Nazir, formerly of the Prometheus, was an officer dedicated to the red shirt of Starfleet, with a vast amount of experience obtained across five different lifetimes. She’d developed a fearsome, yet deserved, reputation as a master tactician and a shrewd negotiator during her time as a commanding officer on several other starships prior to her recent deployment, so it was no surprise to see her on the frontlines. What was a surprise was seeing her on this particular line.

The conversation at the heart of the bridge, between the Tellarite and the holographic representation of his Trill counterpart, was mostly jovial at first, and then took a slightly different tone as she offered additional personnel and supplies for repairs should they have been needed. As with most of his kind, whilst he appreciated the offer, he sure as damn it wasn’t going to accept anything that could be perceived as coming from a position of weakness, especially if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. A nod of thanks, and an assurance to the Trill that all was fine and his ship’s suffering had been part of a ploy to lure the Dominion ships in for intelligence gathering, signalled the end of the conversation, from his perspective at least. When the holographic form failed to disappear, the Captain’s demeanour changed.

“Is there something else, Captain?” he asked of his counterpart, with a raised eyebrow of confusion that would have done the Vulcans on his crew proud.

Shuffling nervously, the Trill looked sheepish. “Yes there is,” she nodded, “but perhaps it would be best if I came aboard, and we talked about it in person?

“Very well,” Vasoch turned and gave a jut of his head to the XO, “I’ll have my XO meet you in transporter room one when you are ready. Hathaway out,” he smiled until the figure was gone. Turning on his heels, he looked towards Noli’s station, only to see her looking for his attention already. The shared expressions told the same story;

Whatever she wanted, it wasn’t good.


Footsteps echoed through the halls of the starship Hathaway. Sterile. Clean. Metallic. Escorted to the observation lounge at the back of deck one, Captain Keziah Nazir of the Nogura marvelled at the sights of the Sagan-class beauty, arms swinging by her side and data PADD tucked under her left armpit as she walked, right up to the moment she entered the meeting room and came face to face with her Tellarite counterpart in person.

“She really lives up to the hype, doesn’t she?” the spotted woman grinned, offering a hand in friendship to the Tellarite already sitting at the table.

“Just a bit,” Vasoch confirmed, returning the handshake with an offer for the Trill to take a seat at the table with him. “We’ve been a bit cut off the last few days,” he frowned, “how goes it?”

Keziah slouched in her chair and shrugged. “Probably as well as could be expected, given the size of the force levied against us. We’re still waiting for the majority of the Fourth to arrive,” she then sat forward, “I just don’t understand what my colleagues in the 514 are thinking…”

“They’re not still insisting they can cope without us, are they?” he incredulously shook his head, “And I suppose Starfleet is still asserting the line that this is a Breen border dispute, too?”

Nazir nodded in confirmation. “It’s like you have to see it to believe it with these people,” she scoffed, “and half of them probably wouldn’t even survive if they did come out here to lend a hand to those of us in need.”

“That I can imagine,” Vasoch grimaced. “Last I heard, the Cardassians were even contemplating joining the party. How is that panning out?”

“Good actually,” Keziah smiled, “they’re sending the Third Order to reinforce us. The first ships should be here in a few days,” she confirmed. She felt awkward enough about her presence on his ship without the small talk, so she opted for honesty as the best path forward.

“Listen, Nogura’s presence here wasn’t by chance,” she said, sliding the data PADD she had been carrying across the tabletop. “Commodore Ekwueme asked for someone to bring these orders out to you, and Captain Romaes chose me.”

Listening in contemplative silence, the Tellarite picked the data PADD up and began reviewing its contents. As he read its contents, a wry smile filled his lips and his hair shook with every movement of his head.

“It’s only for a short time,” she tried to assure him, “they just feel someone with a bit more strategic experience would be best suited for such a mission,” she told as apologetically as possible.

Sliding the PADD back a little more forcefully, the Tellarite laughed. “I’m not even surprised,” he shook his head, “I’ve spent the last three months internally questioning their bizarre orders, and here they are again, changing command in the middle of a wartime scenario. Ridiculous,” he held his hand out to stop the incoming apology he could sense. Rising to his feet, he tugged on the hem of his jacket. “Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. You’re only doing your job, and you’ll have no pushback from me.”

“I appreciate that, Vasoch. And I’m more than happy for you to ignore their order about transporting to the Nogura. I fully intend to hand Hathaway back to you when the mission is complete,” Keziah rose to her feet now, watching the Tellarite’s every move. Something about his lack of animosity, his lack of anger, his apathy towards the orders, made her feel uneasy.

“Come on,” he gestured to the bridge, visible through the arch that separated the two main facilities on the deck, “I’ll introduce you to your new crew.”

Comments

  • Im glued to my phone reading this adventure! Hathaway is already deep into it and they don’t shy away from any kind of conflict. For is our to gather more information to understand the bigger picture or maybe more. Keep it up!

    May 5, 2023
  • Ha! Gor’s calm acceptance at the change of command made my jaw drop, so the fact that it was immediately followed by “Something about his lack of animosity, his lack of anger, his apathy towards the orders, made her feel uneasy.” delighted me. *IS* there a changeling in this scenario? I would have leaned towards Nazir of course, being the interloper in this scenario, but now you have me worried! Looking forward to seeing how this plays out layered over the mission at hand.

    May 6, 2023
  • No preamble here. Just toss us right into the middle of the action. This totally feels like 'Year of Hell" desperation. Loved it

    May 6, 2023
  • Whoa, the Hathaway bleeding plasma? I thought they were toasting to family five minutes ago? You've done such an effective job of painting a harrowing picture of the Hathaway in battle. All the little descriptive moments and characterization made me feel like I was in the final third of a TNG movie, with the lighting low, soot on the floor and everyone's hair mussed up as the bridge rumbles for the tenth time. In my mind's eye, there was better CGI in your battle scenes too; kudos for the exciting turns of phrase. But wait... what?? You FINALLY brought Gor back to us only to rip him away from us again? Cruel, cruel torture.

    May 6, 2023
  • Hmm, I wasn’t expecting to see a change in who sat in the centre chair so soon! Gor knew what he was doing, so I hope the crew respond well to the sudden arrival of their new captain. A nice bit of internal conflict perhaps while dealing with what’s on the outside? And fair play to Nazir in sharing her plan to return the Hathaway, the only thing is - will she?

    May 7, 2023
  • Very interesting! I really enjoyed reading the combat scenario between the Hathaway and the Jem'Hadar ships, was touch and go there for a second! But I think my favorite part was the dialogue between the two veteran captains; I was totally not expecting a command change, and it's probably fair to say Gor wasn't either. But I loved the way he reacted, should be interesting for the crew to warm up to a new captain in the middle of a sustained conflict!

    May 8, 2023
  • A nice jump from the previous piece to in-media res. And a well-paced and descriptive battle scene. Chopping and changing COs just as the action is getting good is going to be a delicate dance and just as Gor was settling into his shiny new ship too. Just hope he gets it back and in mostly one piece as well.

    May 9, 2023