Part of USS Polaris: The Voices of Deneb (The Lost Fleet – Part 2) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Striking at the Enemy’s Enablers

USS Serenity and Breen Cargo Freighter
Mission Day 7 - 0900 Hours
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Nine hundred AU from the rendezvous point lay a white dwarf and a companion red giant. One would not typically park a Duderstadt in the accretion disk of a symbiotic binary star, but the electromagnetic radiation of the Roche lobe overflow perfectly concealed the Serenity’s clandestine purpose. The emissions of her active scanners would be impossible to discern against the frenetic radiation of naturally-occuring positron annihilations and the highly variable interference of the cataclysmic variable system.

“Jem’Hadar battlecruisers are powering up,” Lieutenant Commander Eidran reported. “Looks like the Breen have finished offloading their cargo.” 

A few moments later, the four Dominion battlecruisers peeled away and jumped to warp, leaving the six Breen ships sitting there alone. The unarmed freighters made juicy targets for a crew hungry to strike at the infrastructure of the Lost Fleet’s war machine.

“Did we get what we needed?” asked Admiral Reyes. They’d been fighting the stellar winds and gravimetric shear of the accretion disk for the last four hours, watching and waiting as shuttles moved between the Jem’Hadar warships and the Breen supply ships. She was ready to get on with it, but there were some technicalities to deal with.

“Adjusting for background radiation and expected emissions, it does appear their cargo included high energy polaron sources,” Commander Lewis admitted. “But that doesn’t confirm they delivered weapons of war. Not conclusive enough for a non-neutrality designation.”

“I guess we could always call the Breen and ask?” joked Reyes. “Or maybe we get lucky, and they start shooting at us when we roll up?”

“Yeah right,” Lewis frowned. “The Breen know how cucked we are by our regulations. They’ll just punch it in six different directions. If they do that, we’ll take out one or two at best.”

“Forgive me,” apologized Lieutenant Commander Eidran, at a loss for what Reyes and Lewis were talking about. “What are you two talking about?”

“I want to kill those ships,” Admiral Reyes explained. “But as much as all of us would agree that the arms dealer is just as culpable as the shooter, regulations do not allow us to arbitrarily blow up unarmed merchant ships, even when they’re flying under a belligerent flag.” These troublesome cruiser rules had stymied naval captains for hundreds of years, and the most frustrating aspect about them was that the enemy never seemed to even abide by them. The Breen and the Lost Fleet had trashed dozens of Federation supply convoys.

“Well, we could still do it,” Lewis countered. “Who’s going to give a shit? Freighter crews like these delivered the supplies used to kill our people over Nasera.” He looked over at the young executive officer who’d lost his captain to the Jem’Hadar. “And the material to kill your captain. I say we take the gloves off Commander Eidran. Let him torpedo them in juicy retribution.” 

Eidran wasn’t sure how he felt about violating regulations so cavalierly, and Reyes shook her head. If this were the Dominion War, and she was with her old covert kill squad on a small interdictor, she wouldn’t have hesitated to just blow the unarmed ships out of the sky. However, with three hundred officers aboard the Serenity, someone would spill the beans to Commander Drake, and then the idealistic JAG would haul them all before a tribunal for torching what he would describe as innocent vessels of commerce. Sometimes the law was very inconvenient.

“So what’s the plan then?” Lewis knew Reyes well enough to know they weren’t just going to let those Breen ships go free to keep supplying the Lost Fleet.

“We’re going to demonstrate they are not neutral,” Reyes replied. “And then we kill them.”

“How are we going to do that?” Eidran asked.

“Commander Lewis is going to take a little field trip. The standard is simple. If we find concrete evidence that these ships are participating in trade that contributes to the warfare resources of a belligerent, then they lose non-combatant status,” Reyes explained. “Or if they shoot Commander Lewis, then they’re obviously combatants.” The admiral looked over at Commander Lewis, who appeared unperturbed being used as bait. “Tell your teams to saddle up. We go in five.” That would give some time for the Jem’Hadar battlecruisers to distance themselves, but not long enough for the supply ships to get away.

As the minutes ticked down, Commander Lewis’ team converged on the transporter room. The five man unit was a well oiled machine, trained in the trials of the frontier and forged in the fires of Nasera. For them, this would be just another day in the office. As opposed to creeping around a planet full of Jem’Hadar, this would be more like a simple contraband interdiction. All they had to do was beam aboard a freighter, uncover malfeasance they knew existed, and then the actions they planned to take would be justified.

“Light and fast is the name of the game,” Commander Lewis said to his team members.

Around him, Lieutenant Lisa Hall, Lieutenant J.G. Jace Morgan, Ensign Elyssia Rel, and Chief Petty Officer Ayala Shafir checked the seals on their environmental suits and the calibration on their Type-III phaser rifles. They were ready.

In the two other transporter rooms on the ship, the Serenity’s two hazard teams were gearing up as well. The plan was to board three of the freighters simultaneously, splitting up to collect evidence of what the Breen had delivered to their Lost Fleet counterparts.

Up on the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Eidran ran his officers through final systems checks. The deflector shields were at 70% due to wear and tear from the high heat and particulate accreting from the red giant, but the shields didn’t really matter. Scans indicated the Breen ships were unarmed. All other systems were fully operational.

Admiral Reyes could feel the nerves of the bridge crew. This would be the first time they’d faced the enemy since the fatal encounter that killed Captain Gilliam and thirty of their colleagues. They were visibly on edge, even if this mission was pretty much as low risk as you could get.

“Helm, bring us about, bearing two zero two,” ordered the Admiral. “Warp 9.99, short burst, drop us right on top of them.”

“Two zero two, warp nine point nine nine, aye.”

“Engage!”

The Serenity lept forth from her hiding places, screaming out of the accretion disk at full impulse before jumping straight to maximum warp. It would take the Serenity less than a minute to close the gap, leaving the supply ships almost no time to respond.

“Detecting subspace comms chatter,” reported Lieutenant Commander Eidran as they barreled towards the convoy. Their ship was no longer concealed by the binary star, and the freighter captains could now see them coming. “They’re requesting Jem’Hadar assistance.” 

That meant the Serenity had five minutes, max, before the battlecruisers would descend upon them. One more time, Reyes thought to herself how easy it would be if they just torpedoed them right away. Looking at it another way though, this did offer an opportunity to collect intelligence, so this more strategic approach wasn’t a total waste.

Reyes tapped her combadge: “Lewis, you’re going to have less than five minutes.”

“Understood.”

“Operations, open a channel to the Breen convoy.”

The ensign at Operations nodded once the channel was open.

“This is the Fleet Admiral Allison Reyes of the Federation starship Serenity to unidentified convoy,” Admiral Reyes began. “Stand down and prepare to be boarded for inspection.”

The Serenity emerged from warp, and they could see Breen freighters dead ahead.

“Ma’am, they’re powering engines.”

“Target shields and propulsion,” Reyes ordered. “Disable, but do not destroy.” While she couldn’t arbitrarily destroy merchant vessels, anti-contraband regulations did allow her to disable them in order to conduct an inspection. “All phasers, fire!”

The Serenity’s four phaser arrays came to life, hitting warp assemblies, impulse drives, and shield emitters as the cruiser cut straight through the center of the convoy.

“Status?”

“Four of the ships have been disabled. Two sustained only minor damage and got to warp before we could disable.” Unfortunate, thought Admiral Reyes to herself. If stupid regulations hadn’t gotten in the way, all six would be scrap metal. Still, four would be better than none.

Admiral Reyes tapped her combadge: “Execute!”

The five members of Commander Lewis’ hazard team were already standing on the transporter pad waiting for the call. “Coordinates locked in,” reported the transporter chief.

Commander Lewis gave the order: “Energize!”

The bright and clean aesthetic of the transporter room vanished, replaced by the cold interior and utilitarian walls of the Breen freighter’s cargo hold. Rifles at the ready, protected by the frigid cold by their environmental suits, the five operators swept their muzzles around as they searched for threats. The room was empty though, much as expected.

“Hall, Rel, secure the hold.”

Lieutenant Hall and Ensign Rel moved towards the main entryway of the cargobay. They switched their rifles to a low energy setting and began sealing the double doors shut by melting the duranium with a continuous nadion beam.

“Shafir, time to get cracking.” 

Chief Shafir threw her rifle over her shoulder and pulled out a tricorder. She scanned the room, zeroing in on what she needed. She approached a panel on the wall and ripped it off, exposing internal digital circuitry. Quickly, she got to work.

“Morgan, with me.” 

Commander Lewis and Lieutenant J.G. Morgan approached one of the large industrial crates sitting in the middle of the room. Together, they wrestled it open.

Back on the Serenity, the bridge officers monitored the progress of their teams. All three had beamed successfully into the cargo holds of different freighters.

“All teams report secure. No immediate resistance encountered.”

Freighters were not heavily crewed, and it would take the Breen time to get a team down there to fend off the Starfleet intruders.

“Ma’am, we have the captain of one of the ships demanding to speak with you.”

“On screen.”

The Breen captain wasted no time as the link connected. “You have no jurisdiction here,” he insisted. “Withdraw.” Although his face was concealed by his refrigeration suit and his tone was masked by the tenor of his alien voice, his posture suggested he was not a happy man.

“I beg to differ,” Admiral Reyes snapped back firmly. “The Deneb Sector is the sovereign territory of the United Federation of Planets. Under treaties of interstellar commerce and passage, we have the authority to ensure that…”

“We do not observe your claims to this space, nor your authority to intercept our ships,” the Breen captain interupted. “Your teams have illegally trespassed on our vessels. Withdraw them at once, or we will remove them by force.”

“I would advise against that,” warned Admiral Reyes. “Any effort to interfere with our lawful investigations will be met with lethal force.” She hoped he would call her bluff though. If the shooting started, they were no longer non-combatants.

The Breen captain cut the link without another word.

Admiral Reyes had expected as much. She tapped her combadge. “Transporter chiefs, be ready to bring our people back.” She then tapped it again. “Hazard teams, be alert. You got incoming.”

In the hold of the Breen freighter, Commander Lewis scanned the empty crate he and Morgan had just gotten open when the call came in. “Shafir, you got anything?” Lewis asked as he reshouldered his rifle and stepped away from the crate.

“Almost Jake,” she replied, her fingers flying across a PADD as she worked to crack through the Breen encryption protocols. “Need another minute or so.”

The sound of energy lances from the other side of the double door pierced the conversation. “They’re trying to burn through,” Ensign Rel reported. “We’re going to have company!”

“Defensive positions!”

The operators, save for Chief Shafir, swiftly took up positions to cover the door, their rifles ready to receive the Breen. Over their comms, they could hear the callouts from the other teams as the Breen descended on them.

“Serenity, come in. Team 2 taking fire!”

“Team 3 under fire too!”

The chaotic sounds of disruptor fire could be heard in the background.

“Oh shit! Lieutenant Mattheson just got hit.”

“Return fire! Return fire!”

“There’s too many. Get us out of here!”

“Serenity, now!”

Commander Lewis tuned it all out. Whatever the fate of those other two teams, he could not worry about them right now. All that mattered was his team and the Breen on the other side of the duranium double doors.

“Team 1, you ready to be pulled back?”

“Negative. We have not taken fire yet,” replied Commander Lewis.

“The others have, and we’ve pulled them out. We’ve got enough to pull you back.”

“Negative Serenity,” Commander Lewis replied firmly. He looked over at Chief Shafir. She just needed a few more seconds to finish. “Not yet! I’ll tell you when!” If the other teams had come under fire, the Serenity now had justification to go lethal, but Commander Lewis wanted whatever data Shafir might be able to pull from the ship.

A moment later, the double doors of the cargobay blew open, unleashing dust and debris across the carbobay. A hail of disruptor fire followed. Lewis and his operators responded in kind, their rifles spitting burst after burst of high energy fire to hold the Breen at bay.

“Shafir, how much longer?” Lewis shouted as he ducked behind a crate, a disruptor blast whizzing by just inches from his head.

“Fifteen seconds!” The hacker had broken through the Breen cybersecurity protocols, and she was now in the process of downloading the ship’s cargo manifest and transit history.

Commander Lewis peaked out from behind the crate and fired another volley. This was a good old fashion standoff, the Breen using the cover of the doorway, and his operators using the cover of the crates and pillars in the cargobay. If this continued, fifteen seconds would be easy. 

The Breen had other ideas though. Lewis heard the clink of a metal against the cold floor.

“Grenade!”

Commander Lewis ducked behind a crate and covered his head as the grenade went off. The explosion blew the crate to bits, and it launched the Commander across the deck. His rifle came free of his grip, landing a few meters away, and the mask of his environmental suit cracked. His ears rang. His body hurt. He could feel the crushing cold of the Breen interior leaking through his mask. But none of it mattered. He needed to get his gun and get to cover or he would be a dead man. 

Commander Lewis started to crawl on his stomach towards his rifle, but his injuries and the leaking mask slowed him down. He glanced over his shoulder. Through the cracks in his mask, he could see the Breen now advancing through the doorway. There wouldn’t be time to get his rifle and get back to cover. He looked over at Shafir.

“I’m good!” she shouted.

A Breen soldier neared, leveling his rifle at Commander Lewis.

“Now Serenity!”

And just before the Breen soldier fired, the transporter chief pulled them back.

Lying there on the floor of the transporter room, Commander Lewis breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone was still alive. That one was closer than it should have been. His ears still rang and he struggled to reorient himself, but he could hear Chief Shafir making the call.

“Shafir to Bridge,” she said excitedly. “If you didn’t have enough justification already, what I found justifies it many times over! Blow these fuckers to kingdom come!”

Up on the bridge, Admiral Reyes smiled. That was all she needed to hear. “Helm, bring us about, attack pattern delta four,” she ordered. “TAO, weapons hot. Fire at will.”

Lieutenant Commander Eidran didn’t need to be told twice. The flight controller at the helm banked the ship around for a pass at the disabled freighters, and Eidran unleashed a full volley of phasers and torpedoes. One down. Two down. Three down. And four down. Eidran didn’t care that they were unarmed supply ships. They were part of the apparatus that brought so much suffering to those he cared about, and each explosion made him feel a bit better.

When the attack run was complete, all that was left was debris where moments earlier there’d been four Breen freighters.

“Report?”

“All ships destroyed.”

Admiral Reyes nodded contentedly. A good outcome. Those ships would no longer fuel the Lost Fleet’s war machine. She wished she could have just killed all six straight out of the gate, and that she not had to put her officers at risk or lose two of the freighters to warp, but they’d done it clean and by the book. Even Commander Drake would have found their actions acceptable.

“Admiral, we’ve got a new problem,” Eidran reported, his voice growing panicked. “The four Jem’Hadar battlecruisers are one minute out, bearing one five four.”

“Time to exit stage left,” laughed Reyes. “Helm, adjust to heading three three four and get us out of here. Warp 9.99.” The admiral was not concerned in the slightest. In concept, it was scary to be sitting in a Duderstadt class light cruiser with four Jem’Hadar battlecruisers bearing down on you, but in reality, the Serenity could make double the superluminal velocity of the seventies era battlecruisers.

“Three three four, nine point nine nine, aye.”

“Engage!”

Comments

  • That was a compact post of various things happening, the line had been crossed and Lewis was not going to let a border of regulations stop their mission. I do find his lack for rules to finish a means end rub off wrong on the crew. It shows that they are above the law and that is not the case. So I do wonder when that is going to hunt both Lewis and Reyes with more concrete results. The Breen freighters might be the suppliers of the war, be aiding in the efforts to wreck the area, but they are still considered civilians and thus killing them is an act of war crimes. Interesting flow of the story ;) Great job!

    June 11, 2023
  • Allison Reyes

    Squadron Commanding Officer
    ASTRA Director

  • Jake Lewis

    Squadron Intelligence Officer
    USS Serenity Commanding Officer

  • Lisa Hall, Ph.D.

    Squadron Counseling Officer
    ASTRA Lead, Cultural & Psychological Research

  • Ayala Shafir

    Intelligence & Computer Systems Specialist
    Hazard Team Member

  • Elyssia Rel

    Flight Control Officer
    Hazard Team Member

  • Ekkomas Eidran

    USS Serenity Executive Officer

  • Jace Morgan

    Deceased; Formerly
    Operations Officer
    Hazard Team Member