Copyright © 2016 by Zach Caldwell
All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved
U.S.S. Excalibur NCC-75864
En Route to Beta Agnee
The bridge crew moved about as they carried out their assigned tasks when a rapid beeping sound coming from the tactical station drew their attention. The Tactical officer on duty pressed a key to silence the incessant noise as he read the information being displayed. Commander Hunter stood up to face the officer for an explanation. "Sir, detecting a ship at the extreme range of our sensors. They appear to be following us, perhaps even trying to catch up to us."
The Commander made his way to the tactical station and looked over the young man's shoulder. "Put it up on the main viewer." The Commander shifted his view to the main viewer. "Magnify." The view shifted, showing a much larger view of the unknown ship. "I do not recognize the ship or design."
Ensign Pitts, the Tactical officer, attempted to identify the vessel through the known ship database only to find no matches. "Sorry Commander, that ship is not in our database at all." Commander Hunter made his way back to the command deck. "Hail the vessel, Ensign."
The Ensign plied his control and shook his head. "They are receiving sir, but they are not responding."
Commander Hunter's brow furrowed in concern as he tapped his communicator. "Captain to the Bridge please." The Commander did not have to wait long as the doors to the Captain's ready room parted and the Captain emerged. "Report?"
"We have an unknown vessel to our aft that appears to be trying to catch us and they have yet to respond to our hails."
Captain Knight observed the ship on the view screen as he took his seat. "Well, if they are so intent on catching up to us, I say we oblige. Drop us out of transwarp and bring us to cruising speed."
"Captain, the ship will intercept us in twenty seconds." Captain Knight gave a nod of his head. "Very good Ensign. Open a channel to the vessel."
"Channel open, sir."
"Attention, unknown vessel, this is Captain Knight of the Federation starship Excalibur, please identify yourself and your intentions."
Captain Knight raised an eyebrow as the ship appeared before them. The ship was far larger than it initially appeared. The black hull with pulsing blue lights gave the ship an ominous feel. "No reply sir."
"Raise shields." Captain Knight returned to his seat. "Not liking this one bit Commander."
"Agreed, sir. If they were so eager to catch up to us, you would think they would be just as eager to talk."
"SIR! They're…." The ensign did not get to finish his sentence as the ship shook from being hit by weapons fire. The impact was enough to knock the Ensign and a few other crew members to the deck.
"All hands to battle stations." The Captain barely got the words out as another impact shook the ship. "Open channel. Attention ship, cease your attack, we are on a peaceful mission. Continue your attack and we will be forced to defend ourselves."
Commander Hunter looked at the tactical display on his computer. "No response sir."
"Well, let's get their attention then. Ensign, put a phaser shot, full power, across their bow."
Seconds later a phaser beam cut across the bow of the enemy vessel.
The ship was rocked by another round of weapons fire. Captain Knight barely noticed that his senior bridge officers arrived on the bridge. Caleb relieved the Ensign, who was a shade or two whiter than he remembered.
"Mr. Aguilar, enough of this. Full spread of quantum torpedos. Fire when ready!"
Caleb deftly plied his computer. "Torpedoes' away sir."
Ryan tracked the torpedoes' on his station as they raced toward their intended target. His readouts showed an unidentified vessel which did not match any known configurations in Starfleet's extensive database. A glance to the viewscreen showed a black hull lined with stripes of blue. The general shape appeared to be triangular and bat shaped. He quickly squinted his eyes as the torpedoes exploded.
Caleb's eyes got wider as he read the information coming into his station.
Captain Knight, along with Commander Hunter, both stood up in a state of shock. "SHIELDS MAXIMUM!"
Consoles around the bridge exploded as the ship violently shook. Acrid smoke began to fill the bridge from various fires from ruptured power conduits.
Ryan managed to climb back into his chair and saw reports coming in from all over the ship. "Reading multiple plasma conduits ruptured on decks three, five and ten. Hull breach on deck seven with three fatalities. Multiple casualties ship wide.
Caleb stumbled to his feet wiping wetness from his face, looking at his hand he realized he was bleeding. Ignoring it, he focused on his station. "Primary shields have failed. Forward phaser bank inoperable. Diverting emergency power to forward shields."
Ensign Kriger, plied her controls as she attempted to stop the uncontrolled spin she found the ship in. "Firing port thrusters. There, I have stopped our spin."
It finally dawned on Ryan he had yet to hear anything from the Captain or Commander. Looking over his shoulder, he saw his father and Commander Hunter crumpled on the floor, bleeding and unconscious. He quickly leapt from his chair to his father's side. A quick check and he was relieved to find a pulse. He was about to move over to the Commander when he heard him moan and began to stir. "Medical to Bridge, Emergency!"
Caleb yelled over his tactical station. "Ryan, orders?" Ryan looked at Caleb with confusion, and then the mental fog lifted. He realized he was in command with the Captain and Commander out of the action.
Ryan stood up and faced the viewer only to see the screen was blank. "Damn!" he spun around to Ryan. "Report on the enemy ship."
Caleb worked his controls, "I am reading debris, but I can't tell if it is part of the ship or the whole of the ship, sensor readings are sporadic."
"We are still here so they are either destroyed, or we bruised them enough for them to leave. Or……"
Caleb, not liking the tone he just heard from his friend asked, "Or?"
Ryan turned his attention to the turbolift opening with the medics rushing out to attend to the Captain and Commander. He turned back to Caleb. "Or they are still out there waiting to see what we do next." He moved to stand by Caleb. "What the hell hit us anyway? It was one hell of a wallop."
"I have been trying to figure that out myself. I think it was a feedback pulse of some sort."
Ryan leaned on the tactical station with one arm as he looked at the same information Caleb was. "Yeah, but it is different, the feedback pulse would make sense if we had hit them with our phaser beams. I think this is from a type of reactive armor." Ryan's attention was drawn to a young medic who was standing nearby. "How are the Captain and Commander?"
"We are taking them to sickbay now. Captain Knight took a hit to the head and there is an arterial bleed."
Ryan felt a supportive hand on his shoulder and knew without looking it was Caleb. "How bad is it?"
"It's serious sir. But I could not say more than that, best to ask the Doctor when you can sir. The Commander has fared better in that he only cracked a few ribs and has a broken arm."
Ryan nodded his understanding. "Thank you crewman. Keep me informed."
The medic nodded his head and rushed off to the turbolift.
Caleb felt for his friend. "I'm sure everything will be alright Ry."
"I know. But right now we need to focus on the ship and our friend out there." He pointed to where the enemy vessel was thought to be. "Bridge to Engineering."
There was a bit of a long pause before a voice was finally heard. "Engineering here."
"Jace? Is that you?"
"Yeah, Commander Oclum was on the warp core catwalk when we were first hit. The fall broke her neck."
Ryan briefly closed his eyes and shook his head. "I'm sorry Jace. What is your status down there?"
"We got ourselves one hell of a mess. We have ruptured plasma conduits all over the ship. Main engines are offline, warp drive off line; most systems are running on batteries or auxiliary power. I managed to close the bulkheads on deck seven before the emergency shields on the hull breach failed. I hate to think of the losses if that whole deck had decompressed."
"Jace, you are the acting chief engineer now. We have an enemy ship out there somewhere and I am flying blind up here and I have no weapons. I need you to get me sensors and weapons ASAP."
"Aye, Captain. It's a mess but I'll get you what you need as fast as I can. Engineering out."
"Syvok, is there anything you can tell us about that ship or what it was that hit us?"
Syvok looked up from his console, "Until I have fully functional sensors, I only have the preliminary data from the initial incident. I suspect the enemy vessel had reactive armor embedded with a form of feedback pulse. The armor essentially exploded prior to the impact from the torpedos, shredding the outer casing of the torpedo, the explosive force was then absorbed, amplified and directed back at us."
"Yeah, that would fit with what I got on the tac boards. We fired four quantum torpedoes and the blast that hit us was about the force of eight quantum torpedoes hitting us."
Ryan crossed his arms. "Okay, so that explains that. What does this tell us about the enemy?"
"Not a whole hell of a lot, other than they are aggressive."
Syvok raised an eyebrow. "We know they are intelligent and their level of technology is equal to or better than our own."
"Not exactly useful information. Syvok, head on down to Engineering and give Jace a hand. There is not much you can do here until we get our sensors back online."
Syvok, as stoic as ever, headed to the turbolift.
"Caleb, do we have intraship comms?"
Caleb checked his console and nodded in the affirmative.
"Attention crew of the Excalibur. This is Lieutenant Knight, Captain Knight and Commander Hunter has been injured and I have assumed command while they are in sickbay. This is new for most of us. I know you are probably scared right now. Honestly, so am I. We're Starfleet officers and this is what we trained for. You know your assignments, focus on those and do not let your fears get the best of you. I have faith in each of you. Focus on your tasks and together we will get through this. All department heads report your status. Bridge out."
Taking a deep breath, Ryan looked over at Caleb and realized he was bleeding from a head laceration. "Caleb, you're hurt. Get yourself to sickbay." Caleb was about to protest but the raised eyebrows from Ryan was enough to warn him not to push his luck. Instead he nodded and left the bridge.
Ryan surveyed the bridge which was in a state of shambles cast in red shadows from the emergency lights. Many stations were either damaged or lacking power. A few were even being attended to by repair crews. Junior officers, including Ensign Kriger were at their assigned stations either monitoring or repairing their control boards. "Ensign Kriger, are you able to determine our orientation?"
She turned in her chair to look at the Lieutenant with an exasperated expression. "Not exactly sir. The best I could give you is a guess."
It was not exactly what Ryan wanted to hear but it was better than nothing he thought. "Okay send it to the tac board, please." Ensign Kriger quickly made her calculated guess and relayed the information to the tac board as ordered.
"I need more information. Ensign, head down to the shuttle bay and take a shuttle out and report back everything you find on both short and long range sensors." He stepped down and moved to sit in the Captain's chair. He noticed Ensign Kriger's hand had a slight tremble to it. "Ensign?" She paused and turned to the Lieutenant. "You are our eyes and ears now. Get us the information. We are all depending on you. Godspeed." She stood a bit straighter and spun on her heels and strode into the turbolift whisking her to her destination.
"Kriger to Bridge." Ryan jumped in his seat and a quick look around he was relieved to find that no one saw him. "Go ahead, Ensign?"
"Sir, I am departing the shuttle bay now. Clearing nacelles, beginning a starboard turn to begin a lateral run of the ship. I can see damage to various sections of the hull and I see some plasma leakage from the starboard nacelle. Correction, the plasma gas is subsiding. I think, Engineering has shut down the starboard nacelle. Clearing the primary hull. I am detecting a large debris field approximately hundred kilometers forward of the ship. Not enough to account for the enemy ship. Checking long range sensors. Unless they have a cloaking device sir, I am not detecting any ships in range. I am detecting some odd readings from the debris, however. Moving in for a closer scan."
Ryan stood up and wished the viewscreen was working. He could hear various sounds from inside the shuttle. "What do you have, Ensign?"
"Honestly, I'm not sure sir. I am sure our science division will be able to make more sense of it. But the computer has identified chroniton particles."
His eyebrows furrowed at the news. "Log all the information you can and then proceed to the hull breach and get some readings of that. I'm sure engineering will be very interested in that information."
"Aye sir. Heading back now. Shuttle Arthur out."
Caleb exited the turbolift and moved to Ryan, who looked to him expectantly. "Nurse Kase gave me a clean bill. Just a minor cut; nothing a dermal regenerator couldn't handle."
"That is good to hear. I sent Kriger out in a shuttle to gather some information for us. She should be returning shortly. She has some information for Jace and Syvok. Be sure they get it. Meantime you have the bridge. I'll be in sickbay."
Caleb nodded his understanding. "Aye sir."
Walking into sickbay, Ryan paused at the sheer volume of activity that was going on as medical staff moved about tending to the wounded. Organized chaos came to mind. He made his way toward the surgical ward with each step carrying more and more dread at what he might find. He stepped up to a glass wall and he could see the doctors working on his father. His lips trembled as his emotions started to overwhelm him, which he struggled to keep in check. A presence stepped up beside him. Looking to his left he saw Commander Hunter looking into the surgical ward.
"He'll be fine."
Ryan took a deep breath. "I sure hope so. How are you sir?"
"Oh, I'm sore as hell but the broken bones have been mended. But the doctor has not cleared me to return to duty yet. How bad are we?"
"I have not gotten a recent update just yet. Three dead including Commander Oclum. Multiple plasma ruptures and a hull breach which has been contained. Sensors and weapons are offline, minimum power to shields. I sent out Ensign Kriger in a shuttle to ascertain the enemy location and to survey the ship damage. The enemy appears to have left the area. There was some chroniton traces in the debris field."
The Commander's voice raised an octave. "Chronitons? Some sort of temporal anomalies?"
"Uncertain, but a possibility. I am sure Syvok will be able to make more sense of it when he reviews the data."
"You have done well Lieutenant. You're still in command until I am cleared by the Doctor. You seem to have things well in hand thus far."
Ryan was a bit taken aback by the comment. "Thank you, sir. I will be sure to keep you posted."
Both men turned as Doctor Takata approached with a data PADD in hand.
"Well, doctor, can I return to duty?"
The young man sighed and shook his head. "I am sorry Commander; I cannot clear you for duty yet. I finally got a chance to look over this data and your brain is showing signs of a concussion. Since you would be in command, your mental faculties are in question for the next 24 hours." The doctor looked up and took in the Commander's body language. "It would appear to me, sir, that you are also fatigued. You are free to leave sickbay. I want you to go to your quarters and rest for the next 24 hours. The computer will monitor your vitals and notify us of any problems."
"Doctor, with all due respect, I have a ship without her Captain and is frankly in a mess. I need to tend to the situation."
The Doctor looked to Ryan and then back to the Commander. "Commander, if I have to make this an order, it will have to be noted in your service record. I am sure Lieutenant Knight has things in hand, sir."
Ryan took a step forward. "I think he is right, sir. Please take the 24 hours. The Captain is down and we do not want our XO out of commission any longer than necessary."
Commander Hunter sighed and rubbed his face. "Alright Doctor, Lieutenant. I'll be in my quarters."
The Doctor nodded and moved on to attend to another patient.
Lieutenant Knight and Commander Hunter made their way out of sickbay. "Lieutenant…."
Ryan held his hand up to stop the Commander. "Do not worry sir. As long as you follow the doctor's order to rest, I will keep you informed of our progress."
A smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. "Very well Lieutenant. Thank you." Both men parted ways.
Ryan's communicator came to life as he stepped into the turbolift. "Lieutenant Knight to the Bridge." Just as the doors started to close he saw the red alert start flashing on a nearby panel. "On my way."
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