Most of the senior staff had gathered in a medium-sized private room connected to berth 12; a wide window stretching across one side showed the 50 or so Starfleet officers milling about as they awaited the Amundesn's imminent arrival.
Commander Geden Demar glanced at the chronometer on the wall above the window: 05:21. It wouldn't be long now before the ship arrived; last he checked she was due to arrive at the docking bay just after 05:30. He could feel the anxiety rise in his torso as the minutes ticked by and from the looks on the faces of the other officers in the room he wasn't the only one feeling that way. By now they had all read the mission briefings given to them late last night and it was weighing on them. It was understandable; you didn't get daily news of a Dominion invasion. He had only been 10 years old when the war started and only really took notice of it after the invasion of Betazed; at that point, his schooling had been canceled and Trill had moved to a more robust defensive posture. He remembered the day when his parents sat him down and walked him through what to do in case the planet was attacked; the stark reality of being told at 11 that if the planet was attacked and evacuation procedures initiated he was to follow them to the letter and if he got separated from them it didn't matter; he was to follow the plan and trust Starfleet. Trust Starfleet. It had echoed in his head, and everyone else's, for years after the war. The insane amount of jingoism that followed the war had, in hindsight, been ridiculous. As the years wore on, it became clear there wasn't much to trust about Starfleet.
“There she is, right on time.”
Geden turned to look at the window. A shorter but well-built man in a yellow uniform stood before it, gazing out. Gavarin Brex, if he remembered correctly. The rest of the senior staff began to make their way towards the window, seemingly eager to catch sight of their new home but Geden opted to keep his distance. The Rhode Island class vessel slowly came into better view under thruster power. Her design linage was clear; the boxy ‘saucer’ section, flatter engineering hull, small but very recognizable nacelles. It was one of his favorite eras of Starfleet design; just out of the oval era that the Galaxy belongs to but not quite at the more militant era that arrived with the Sovereign and it was a far cry from the current, metallic, sleek, and utilitarian design of the Duderstadt and Echelon classes.
The ship slowly came to a stop next to docking berth 12; a long metallic docking tube extending from the Starbase towards the main airlock in the ship's engineering hull. From the orders he had seen the crew would begin immediately transferring both cargo and themselves onto the ship.
“Well, that tiny thing certainly doesn't look like it's going into a war zone anytime soon. Thank Gods.”
Geden turned to who was speaking, his gaze falling on the new Caitian CMO, Dr. V'Rel. He knew she'd been reassigned from the Sovereign Class USS Providence and considering her age he assumed she had been lured away from retiring by being promised a quieter assignment.
“I don't know.” The voice of Gavarin Brex floated by as the well-built man moved to stand next to the doctor. “She packs a bigger punch than you think. Fast too.”
Geden swore he heard a low growl emanate from V'Rel's throat but the chime from the comm interrupted whatever she was going to say.
“Please stand by for site-to-site transport.”
The familiar whine of the transporter filled the air as the blue shimmer of the transporter took precisely 4.2 seconds to deposit Captain Clara Myers at the center of the room along with Commanders Conklin and Beoheth.
“Hello everyone. I apologize for dropping in like this but time is of the essence.” She motioned to the table in the corner and made a circular motion with her hand. “Have a seat everyone; we've got to get moving in the next hour to two.”
The staff shuffled over to the table, the early morning damping any enthusiasm they would have had.
“I know all of you have been given briefing packets but even in the short time it took us to reach here we've had a change of orders. Originally we were to check on the status of 3 colonies in the Deneb sector that had gone dark; Starfleet Command had received reports that the Dominion had reached all 3 systems. As of 2 hours ago, Fourth Fleet command decided to assemble a fleet in the Farpoint system as the bulk of the Dominion fleet is on the way there.”
“Are we to join the fleet at Farpoint?” T'Keu spoke up. “Would we arrive in time?”
Clara shook her head. “We are not being sent to Farpoint. The Amundsen does pack more of a punch than most people think but she's still not equipped to handle a sustained firefight. We might take out a Jem'Hadar fighter or two but we are outgunned beyond that.” Clara tapped a control on the table and a holo projection of a star system appeared on the table. A K-type star lay at the center with 3 planets orbiting it; one class M and two Class B planets. “Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Beol system.”
With another few taps on the controls, the image zoomed in on the Class M world. “This is Beol II, home to roughly 750 Federation citizens and the colony of Archi. Within 48 hours of the arrival of the Dominion and Breen forces, all contact was lost with Archi along with multiple other colonies in the area. Passing ships made some quick pitstops in the other two systems that had initially been our assignment and neither had any life signs. It stands to reason that Archi will be the same but we have to investigate.”
Ereth exchanged a look with Brex. “Ma'am, the Dominion just.” Ereth paused, searching for a more subtle word but didn't find one. “Slaughtered two entire colonies? For no reason? And it's happening across an entire sector of space?”
T'Keu folded her hands on the table. “That is what the Dominion does, Ensign. You submit or you are exterminated.”
A look of irritation crossed Kellen's face. “I am aware of that Lieutenant Commander; I took history classes in the Academy. What I mean is, what is the strategic value of this? Why does that not warrant a larger response? Earth and the FNN are remarkably calm about this.”
Clara let out a deep sigh, leaning back in her chair. “I wish I had even a basic answer for you, Mr. Ereth. I agree that it's troubling how nonchalant everyone back at Starfleet Command is about this entire incident. Hell, they did everything short of firing on the ship to keep us in spacedock. I am sure that answers will come in time, but, I don't have an explanation right now. The best we can do is focus on our mission and worry about the clean up later.”
She glanced around the table and it was clear that each one of the officers surrounding her was not thrilled at that answer, or any of this really, except for T'Keu. She maintained the perfect level of Vulcan stoicism.
“There is another complication.” Clara continued, tapping a few commands into the table keypad, the holo image shifting slightly."
“A complication beyond the damn Domnion invading an entire sector of space while Starfleet sits on its ass humming a jaunty tune about how fine and ok everything is?” Interjected Dr. V'Rel, the Caitian's skin almost rippling with irritation. “What else could you add to that pile of screwed up?”
Clara resisted the urge to let out a chortle. She had been aware that Dr. V'Rel was a brilliant doctor but was also quite colorful at times. “Well, we're going to electrify that giant pile of screwed up.” A few more button presses displayed the clear mark of an ion storm on approach to the planet. “There is a class II ion storm on its way to the system. If the colony hadn't, likely, been torn apart by Domnion forces it would be a pretty minor inconvenience. Batten down the hatches, ride it out, and repair any damage to the colony power grid. It will be a rough time with the damage they have likely sustained. It'll also hamper recovery efforts pretty heavily.”
“How long until it arrives?” quired Brex.
“If we push the ship to its max warp speed we'll arrive about 17 hours before it grazes the planet; plenty of time to evac anyone we can and if there are too many to evac then it should still be enough time to get some sort of temporary shelter set up. Supplied are being loaded up now.”
“Class two is a pretty weak storm, but it can still cause quite a bit of havoc. The Amundsen would hold up pretty well if you don't get caught up in it for too long.” Offered Broheth. “The big issue would be if the Dominion shows up and cause trouble; with tweaked or no shields the ship would have two, three hours max before the discharges from the storm would start to tear up the EPS systems.”
“There is no indication of Dominion forces in the system.” Clara tapped the button on the table, the holo image dissipating. “This should be an in-and-out mission but I need everyone ready for just about anything. If we get into trouble, help will not come quickly. Let's get it done and get back home quick ladies and gentlemen. Dismissed.”
-7 hours later-
“Captain, we are approaching the Beol system. Dropping to impulse in 33 seconds.” Kellen Erith's hands slid across the control panel gracefully, powering down the warp drive precisely 33 seconds after his statement.
The trip to the Beol system had gone smoothly with no sight of Dominion activity along the way. With the Fourth Fleet getting ready to meet the bulk of the Dominion fleet in the Farpoint system, she hadn't expected to run into anyone. The ship had performed as expected, though the longer journey at emergency warp speeds caused a few issues with some minor systems.
Clara sat up in her seat, watching as the blue streaks of warp speed gave way to the inky black of normal space. “Scan the system Command T'Keu.”
The Vulcan's eyes darted back and forth and the ship's powerful sensors did a tactical sweep of the system. “No signs of Dominion activity however the ion storm is impacting sensor accuracy.”
“Thank you, Commander. Ensign Erith, take us into the orbit of Beol II.”
“Aye ma'am, standard orbit.”
The ship picked up speed as Beol II came into view; the Class M planet had a sickly-looking blueish-brown color to it, clouds covering much of the planet.
“That's odd,” Geden Demar said to himself. “Commander Conklin, what's going on with the atmosphere?”
“Good question.” The blonde-haired Commander quickly ran a planetary scan, an eyebrow arching as the results came in. “There is some sort of chemical agent in the air. The atmosphere is breathable, for now anyway, but global temperatures have dropped by 2 degrees overall. I am also reading a 1% drop in plant life compared to the scans on file. No humanoid life signs; though I'm having trouble getting an accurate bio-scan.”
Geden turned to Clara. “Terraforming? That's not exactly the Domnion's MO, or the Breens for that matter.”
Clara shrugged her shoulders. “I agree. I came across numerous Dominion worlds post-war when Hamburg was doing cleanup in the Gamma Quadrant and I don't think we ever came across a world the Dominion terraformed; not like the Founders needed a lot of random planets. I agree the Breen would not terraform one random world so far outside their space; lots of resources for little to no reward. Starfleet would never allow it.”
“We are in orbit on the planet sirs.”
Clara nodded. Thank you ensi-"
The sharp trill from the ops console interrupted Clara.
Brex's brow furrowed, hands moving across his console at a rapid pace. “We've lost the uplink to Starfleet Command. I'm unable to reconnect.”
“Yellow alert.” Geden spoke the command without thinking or waiting, and within seconds a soft but noticeable beeping came across the bridge speakers, the lights around the viewscreen starting to pulse a bright yellow.
Clara flashed the Trill a look; she didn't need an overreaction to what was likely a small issue on this ship's maiden voyage. “Bridge to engineering, we've lost the computer uplink with Starfleet. Any issues on your end?”
“Stand by ma'am.” It only to Broheth moments to check the system. “None here; this issue is not with the ship.”
Another series of urgent beeps came from Brex's console. “We've lost communications; I can't get a signal out of the system and I'm detecting nothing coming in, not even normal traffic.”
Clara stood and began walking to the science station. “Commander, are you picking up any sort of dampening field?”
Alex shook his head. “Not technically. I'm not picking up much of anything, to be honest. I'd say it's a pretty good assumption that we're being affected by some of a damping field or block.”
Clara turned to Erith. “Mr. Erith, break orbit and take us to warp as soon as we have reached the system departure point. This screams ambush.” She rounded the corner, heading to her command chair.
“Breaking orbit. We'll be clear to go to warp in a little over two minutes.”
“Captain.” This time it was T'Keu offering bad news. “Three Jem'Hadar fighters have emerged from the back side of the ion storm. Weapons range in 51 seconds.”
“Red Alert.” Clara barked out, the lights on the bridge dimming immediately as the numerous alert lights on the bridge bathed the bridge in a red glow. “Ensign, override safeties, and take up to warp inside the solar system. Now.”
“I can't.” Panic was settling into the young Ensign's voice. “Whatever damping field is affecting us is preventing a stable warp field from forming; we need to get far enough away from it to accelerate to warp.”
“All hands to battle stations. Commander T'Keu you are weapons-free as soon as the Jem'Hadar ships come in range. Ensign Erith, evasive pattern Delta seven." Clara turned to Brex. “Send out a general distress call; someone might hear us even with the dampening field in place.”
A chorus of ‘aye ma’ams' rang out across the bridge.
Geden could have sworn he saw the blood drain out of Erith's face. He stood up and walked down to the conn console, placing a hand on the Ensign's shoulder. “Their ships are fast and turn quickly but we both know that this ship can outmatch them on maneuverability. Keep the evasive patterns loose and improvise; Jem'Hadar are by the book. If you mix it up a little it'll keep them on their toes. Keep your distance as well; they've been known to ram ships as a last-ditch effort.”
Kellen nodded and swallowed down a ball of tension. “Aye, sir. Thank you.”
Geden offered a smile and a pat on the shoulder before returning to his seat. “You've got this Ensign.”
Kellen let out a sigh. “If you say so, sir.”
T'Keu glanced down at her tactical display, the three dots rapidly approaching the outer bounds of the starship's weapon range. “The ships are entering weapons range. Quantum torpedoes loaded, phasers charged.”
The three Jem'Hadar ships approached the Amundsen in their typical, almost spear-like formation. Orange phaser beams lanced through the vacuum of space toward the three enemy vessels. The lead ship's shields lit up a bright purple as the energy from the phaser beam was dissipated across its surface.
“Direct hit to the lead ship. Their shields are down to 83%.”
Clara felt the ship tilt to the side as the inertial dampeners struggled under the maneuver Erith just imputed into the conn. “Keep it up, Commander. The sooner we take out one of those ships the sooner we have a more even playing field.”
The bridge shook, a small shower of sparks falling across the back of the bridge. “Direct hit from 2 ships.” Brex's eyes scanned over the damage readout streaming in. “Aft shields down to 77%, minor damage to a few subsystems.”
The lead Jem'Hadar ship broke off from its formation, swinging back to the aft of the Amundsen. Multiple phaser beams impacted the shields turning them a bright blue as they strained against the onslaught. Meanwhile, the other two ships continued to take potshots at the starboard shields.
On the bridge the after MSD emitted a bright shower of sparks before going dim. The bridge officers gripped whatever they could as the ship rocked back and forth.
“Aft shields down to 36%, damage to secondary warp power couplings.” Brex could barely keep up with the long list of subsystems that were showing damage. He didn't envy Broheth's job down in engineering.
“Damn it,” Clara muttered. “Divert power to aft shields. Ensign, get them off our aft.”
Sweat had begun to drip down Kellen's forehead. He had yet to find himself in a combat situation outside the simulations at the Academy and no matter how ‘by the book’ he flew, the Dominion ships easily kept up. They didn't do that in the holodeck. If he lived through this he'd certainly complain to someone about how piss poor combat-flight training was but right now he had to not die in the vacuum of space. “Doing my best ma'am but nothing is shaking them.”
Geden leaned forward. “They aren't following the typical Jem'Hadar rulebook Ensign, so don't follow the Starfleet rulebook. Get creative!”
The Bridge rocked under another barrage of phaser fire, dropping the aft shields another 8%.
“Ensign, if you can reorient the ship to face the lead attacking ship I believe I can disable or destroy it with a full spread of quantum torpedoes.”
Kellen sighed. “I'll do my best. Hold on, I'm going to arc up, invert, then arc back down. That should put them in the torpedo launcher's firing arc. It's going to push the limits of the dampers, so hold on.”
With a few quick taps on his console, the young ensign arced the ship up. To the casual observer, it looked like the ship pointed its ‘nose’ up, gaining altitude before inverting and coming back down, the bow of the ship now pointed ‘down’ towards the Jem'Hadar ship. To their credit the Jem'Hadar responded quickly, doing their best to peel away and get outside torpedo range. Sadly it was not quick enough. 5 quantum torpedoes erupted from the forward torpedo launcher, slamming into the lead Jem'Hadar ship; the first three overloading the ship's weakened shields and the other two slamming directly into the ship's hull. The ship split down the middle, plasma fire rupturing the hull, the warp core going critical in its typical, fiery, fashion.
On the bridge, the crew gripped their consoles as the ship shook violently from the shockwave of the core breach.
“I've got damage reports from across the ship but engineering reports that the SIF is holding and there are no hull breaches.” Reported Brex. “Shields are at 33%.”
“One down, two to go.” Mutterered Clara. “Commander T'Keu, I need those ships disabled or destroyed; quickly if you don't mind.”
Three bolts of phaser fire sliced across space, two impacting one of the remaining Jem'Hadar. “This ship is not equipped to handle a sustained firefight of this magnitude but I shall endeavor to at least disable them.”
The two remanding Jem'Hadar ships slid over the Amundsen and unleashed a salvo of torpedoes on the port aft shield; it flickered blue under the heavy load as multiple shield generators failed. The bridge rumbled as multiple consoles experienced EPS surges and blew open, showering almost everyone in sparks.
“Aft shields down!” shouted Brex over the chorus of alarms. “The SIF is down to 77%”
“Divert emergency power to aft shields and the SIF. Ensign Erith, get some distance between us and the Jem'Hadar.” Demar glanced at this console as he gave the order. A litany of red-hued emergency alert items flashed across the screen. If they didn't do something, and quick, the ship would not last much longer.
Kellen accelerated the ship to full impulse, doing his best to keep the port shield pointed toward the enemy ships. “Doing my best sir; they are pretty much matching our speed.”
“Captain, the Jem'Hadar are targeting the port nacelle pylon.” T'Keu eyed the shield distribution levels, quickly concluding that what little power the backup generators had would not hold up. “Our shields have not recovered sufficiently to protect the pylon; they will breach the hull with a direct hit.”
Conklin turned to Clara and Geden. “Why would they go after the pylon? It would cripple us, for sure, but there are faster ways to destroy this ship.”
Clara ran a hand over her face, realization hitting. “They don't want to destroy us, they want to stand us.” She entered a quick command into the console to her right. “Commander Broheth, the Jem'Hadar are going after the port nacelle pylon. Vent plasma from the port nacelle and seal off the plasma conduits that feed into it.”
The Rhode Island Class ship continued to zip across the vacuum of space, awkwardly trying to keep the Jem'Hadar ship near the sections of the ship that still had shielding. Blue plasma suddenly erupted from the port nacelle, the red of the Bussard collector fading. Thanks to the relatively small size of the nacelle it took but a few moments for the plasma to be fully emptied but within mere seconds after that the torpedos from the Jem'Hadar ships slammed into the grey pylon, violently ripping it from the engineering hull of the ship in a shower of sparks and causing the Amundsen to list and slide to starboard like a drunken ice skater trying to keep themselves upright.
The bridge filled with smoke as the back wall of consoles blew out, tossing multiple crewmembers to the floor. The senior staff had been thrown from their seats and were strewn around the floor; most were barely able to stand due to a mix of injuries and the fact that the inertial dampers were barely keeping up with the force of the impact.
Kellen pulled himself up as best he could, his fingers trying to find the RCS thruster controls to stabilize the ships. The console responded to him with multiple angry buzzes before he finally was able to input the right order and the ship slowly stopped its skating movement. “Helm is barely responding; we're down to thrusters and one-quarter impulse if we're lucky.” He called out to no one in particular, his voice raspy.
Clara pulled herself off the floor with a grunt, her head pounding. She knew she likely had a concussion or a laceration or both. “Status report.” Her voice was strained, the smoke clogging her airways.
T'Keu was the first to respond, having managed to at least not be thrown that far from her station. “Weapons are offline, shields are offline.”
Brex got himself back into his seat, cradling his left arm. The slightest movement caused unimaginable amounts of pain, he knew it was broken somewhere. “Main power is fluctuating but the warp core is still online. Damage reports from across the ship, dozens of systems are down.” He let out a small huff. “We've lost the port nacelle but aside from that there are no other hull breeches. The SIF is down to 14%; the ship will not survive another hit from any weapon.”
Geden wiped away a trickle of blood from his cheek. “Injury reports are coming in from across the ship, several serious, but no fatalities reported so far. Sickbay suffered minor damage but is expecting multiple critical patients.”
Alex grimaced as he stood up; most of his body was screaming but he could tell he was in better shape than most on the bridge. He bent down and grabbed the med pack that was under his station. He didn't have much to report, those ships were still out there and everybody knew that, so he could at least put his (minor) medical training to use.
Clara looked over the damage reports herself; there was pretty much one option. Abandon the ship and make a run for the planet's surface in escape pods. “Commander Demar, prepare to abandon ship. Ensign Erith, point us towards the planet and move us as close as fast as possible. Status of Dominion vessels?”
Brex glanced down at his scream, his vision wavering as the pain in his arm began to get worse. He felt the cold press of a hypo on his neck, letting out a sigh as pain medication flowed through his blood.
“That's a decent dose of Terakine. Should help with the pain for the next few hours. I'll try and fashion a split until medical can get a bone knitter up here." Alex glanced around, not spotting much of anything that could make a good split. “Give me a few minutes.”
Brex smiled, relief was already evident in his face. “Thank you, Commander. Ma'am, it looks like the Jem'Hadar are just sitting on there. They aren't moving in to destroy the ship.”
Clara exchanged a look with Demar. “Well, I guess that confirms they are trying to disable us. But why?”
Demar let out a heavy sigh. “Perhaps they are waiting for us to abandon ship so they can take it after? The Jem'Hadar aren't ones to shy away from a fight though.”
“I agree. If they wanted this ship they would not wait for us to leave..”
“Sirs, it appears the Dominion vessels are moving away.” T'Keu arched an eyebrow as she watched the sensors.
Geden and Clara shared a look of confusion. “I don't doubt that you are correct but is there any indication as to why they have left?”
Alex walked up to Geden, dermal regenerator in hand. “Give me just a moment sir, I'll stop that bleeding.”
“I'm fine.” Geden snapped at the other man. “There are more important matters, I can wait for a medical officer.”
Alex resisted the urge to contort his face into an expression that screamed 'I want to hit a superior officer' and then opted to stop resisting the urge. “The blood running down your face disagrees. Just don't talk for 15 seconds and I'll be done.”
Geden's face softened slightly. “Very well. Thank you, Commander.”
Alex hummed a ‘mmhmm’ before using the portable regenerator to seal up the wound on the Trill's cheek. It wasn't his best work but he wasn't all that concerned about it.
“Done.” Alex turned on his heels, moving on to the next officer.
T'Keu's console trilled, the screen in from of her showing two small purple dots moving away. “Ma'am, the Jem'Hadar ships are going to warp.”
Cara stood, walking around and up to the tactical station. “Not that I'm unhappy about it but I'll admit to being confused.”
T'Keu arched an eyebrow. “Perhaps the main battle at Farpoint is not going well and they were sent to reinforce the Dominion fleet?”
Kellen turned in his chair. “Or perhaps the battle went in our favor and they were ordered to withdraw?”
Conklin closed the emergency med pack, having finally patched up everyone he was capable of helping. “I like the way you think Ensign.”
From the ops station, Brex let out a sigh. “Save that thought, I've got an inbound warp signature on sensors.”
T'Keu initiated a scan of the ship. Not much data came back considering the state of the ship. “I see the ship as well. Sensors are damaged however I can determine that the inbound ship is large and its profile appears to be Breen. It will arrive in 27 minutes.”
Clara ran a hand over her face. “Damn it.” She walked back towards her command chair. This wasn't unfamiliar territory for her; she'd served the entirety of the Dominion War and was very well aware of how often the battlefield could change on a dime. “We need options and we need them fast. Bridge to Broheth, please report to the bridge.”
It only took a few moments for the Bolian to emerge from the turbo lift. “No offense ma'am, but I've got my hands full in engineering.”
“I understand but we have a small issue.” Clara leaned over to her console. “We have a Breen ship on the way.”
Broheth gripped the railing the ran along the the ridge that separated the command area from the back of the Bridge. This was bad. He ran through dozens of different possibilities over the next few seconds, none of them good enough to have the ship ready to face another battle. “Ma'am, there is no way I can get this ship ready for battle. She will not survive another engagement.”
“I had assumed so. What we need now is options.” Clara tapped in a few commands, glancing through the damage readings. So much of the small MSD on the screen was flashing red, severe damage spread out across the ship.
Kellen turned towards the officers who had assembled behind him. “Can we land the ship? We can't face them up here but at least we could even the playing field a bit if we're on the ground.”
Broheth shook his head. It wasn't the worst idea but the Bolian had little doubt the ship would make it down in one piece. “When we lost the nacelle the SIF was severely compromised. If the ship enters the gravitational field of a planet then there is no chance it stays in one piece. Even if we get down to the surface and land in one piece the ship will never leave the planet unless it's brought up in pieces but more likely it we go down in pieces”
Alex cleared his throat. “Then it seems we have no choice but to abandon the ship and make a stand on the surface if they follow.” He was never inclined to turn tail and run but it was better than certain death, or being captured as slaves.
“What do we do with the ship?” It was Gavarin who spoke up this time. It was a valid point. “Do we really want to let the Breen get their hands on the ship?”
Geden shook his head. “No.” The choice was rather obvious, even if they didn't want to fully admit it. “We self-destruct the ship.”
Clara's brow furrowed. There would be an inquiry, they would be laid up for months in San Francisco or Paris, and it would be a mess. Even damaged, Starfleet needed ships. As if a light bulb went off above her head, she turned to Broheth. “Can we hide the ship in the ion storm?”
Broheth's mouth opened to immediately object and explain why it would not work but after a few moments of running the idea through his head, he gave a mild shrug. “My first instinct is to say no but it's only a Class II ion storm. The SIF will hold, even in its weakened state, but the ship will still be subjected to electrical discharges from the storm. The shields have come back up to 18% and might hold for 15, maybe 30, minutes in their current state and once those discharges strike the hull we'll have EPS conduits blowing out across the ship. The internal damage would be pretty severe; someone would have to tow us back to Spacedock and the ship would be uninhabitable but she'd still be in one piece. Better than blowing it up, I suppose”
“It should block the ship from the Breen sensors but it would also block any Starfleet vessels from seeing the ship.” Conklin offered.
Clara glanced over to her first officer. It wasn't ideal but under the current circumstances, it would work. She could only hope that Starfleet would come looking for its missing ship and colony and someone would find them waiting. The Trill gave her a nod. “Alright then, we have a game plan. T'Keu and Brex, reporting to transporter rooms 1 and 2 to oversee beam outs. Commander Demar, report to shuttle bay 1 to oversee shuttle evacs. Mr. Conklin, help Command V'Rel get as many medical and survival supplies transported down to the surface as you can. Mr. Broheth, use the runabout to get as many engineering supplies and heavy-duty equipment down the surface as you can. Ensign Ereth, you'll stay with me on the ship to help pilot the ship into the storm then we'll evac. Our meeting location will be here.” Clara pulled up a map on the main viewscreen, a glowing blue dot over the center of the colony they had been sent to check out. “Security teams beam down first since we still aren't sure of what is down there.”
A chorus of ‘yes ma’am's ran out across the bridge as everyone started to hustle.
Clara leaned back in her chair, taking a few seconds to close her eyes. “Computer, initiate evacuation sequence alpha-one. Authorization Myers Omega-Seven-Nine-Sierra-Eleven.”
A loud, blaring, klaxon echoed through the ship followed by the monotone voice of the computer. “Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate. This is not a drill. All hands proceed to evacuation stations. This is not a drill. Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate.” The lights in the halls jumped to maximum illumination, alert lights pulsing in a pattern designed to point people to where they needed to go. For a trained Starfleet crew of under 100 people, it moved fast. 15 minutes after the first klaxon sounded two Type 9 shuttles burst out of the shuttle bay followed by a Danube Class runabout. 5 minutes after that the last of the senior staff beamed off the ship, leaving it occupied by two officers.
Kellen watched the helm console as it showed the last transport cycle complete. “Everyone is off the ship. We don't have any communication, as expected, but I am picking life sign readings.”
Clara had hoped that once her people were down there they would be able to cut through whatever interference was ongoing but it seemed like that would not be the case. “Very well Ensign, set in a course for the ion storm and engage at one-quarter impulse.”
“That is one order I never thought I would hear." Kellen's hand twisted left as he ramped up the impulse engines, guiding the crippled ship toward the ion storm. The moment they crossed the threshold of the storm the ship began to shudder and shake as discharges struck the shields. “Slowing to a stop.”
Clara stood, bracing herself against the railing as the ship shook again. “Computer, execute lockdown program tango once we are off the ship.” The computer offered its reply, the program ready to go that would lock out the computer core and take power to a bare minimum.
Moments later the Waverider craft, Framheim, undocked from the underside of the saucer section of the ship, gracefully zipping away to the (relative) safety of open space as it slowed to a stop before it would enter the atmosphere.
Kellen turned to his commanding officer, clearly confused. “Ma'am, the Breen will be here in minutes.”
“That they will Ensign.” Clara's hand tapped quickly across the small control panel in front of her. “Just have to send a message to an old friend.”
Kellen cleared his throat softly. “Ma'am, all signals in and out of the system are still blocked.”
Clara chuckled softly. “You are correct. However, it's still worth a try.” The console let out an angry beep as the comm signal ran into interference but she ignored it.
Moments later the Franheim angled itself towards the planet and slipped gracefully below the clouds.