edited May 2021 in Task Force 93
These are the stories on board the USS Centaur. These stories contain the adventures of one particular individual and his friends, who will embark on all sorts of missions, simple or tedious, complicated or difficult, and maybe even weird or bizarre. Their adventures may proceed later on to another vessel in some distant future, but at this time, this is where they are and on board this small vessel, they have to not only learn to live in the confines of others but also keep the ship well oiled and finely tuned.
These are the Continuing Adventures of Vakai...
[In some time ahead…]
The bridge was dark, illuminated in only a split second in red light by a second apart, but the light only revealed how much smoke was on the bridge. There was some of it coming out of the ceiling, but only so lightly, not like some times where it’s bellowing out like it was under pressure. No, this was a small leak of sorts. But the smoke did not just consist of some leak from any sort of coolant, but also from electrical fires of a couple consoles, one on each side of the bridge it seemed.
Least that is what Vakai could tell when he tried looking around the bridge to take in detail of what state they were in. He had just pushed himself off of the floor and onto his knees, only to revel in the state the bridge was in. He couldn’t see any lights coming from the consoles, which told him that they were not receiving power. But why just the consoles? Were the lights and stations really on a separate power network? Suppose that would make sense, not sure why he was even questioning that. Maybe it was because it felt like his head was hit by a shuttlecraft.
That’s it. Concussion. His conclusion of having one was increased ever so much when he went to feel the side of his head and hissed when he touched something that stung, only to check his hand and see the palm of his hand was covered in his blood. Course he could barely tell the color because of the poor illumination, but he didn’t believe he had someone else’s blood on him. His conclusion of what he hit from where he was at, was probably one of the railings around the midsection of the bridge, the kind of railing that cuts off rear stations from the mid to front stations, or in this case, command chair and the helm and navigational stations.
He turned his head in a bit of a jolt when he heard a loud noise, only to see a silhouette and something being sprayed onto one of the consoles that was on fire. He concluded that someone was trying to extinguish one of the fires. Good, this means that he is not the only one conscious. “Is everyone all right?” He called out before coughing, the smoke was thick and it did no good to inhale after he spoke. So he covered his mouth and nose the best he could with his sleeve to get some oxygen into his lungs. He got several responses from the bridge crew, which was good, but he was also keeping tabs on the voices and there was one voice he didn’t hear that worried him.
Vakai hurried over to the command chair to find it empty, only to look down at the floor near it and saw a silhouette there. He knelt down beside the body to feel for the pips on the man’s shoulders and when he found them, he felt four pips. “I need a light over here! And a medkit, now!” He yelled. In a few seconds, he had a couple officers shining their flashlights on their Captain, seeing that he too had a gash on his forehead but it looked really bad.
Ryker came over with a medkit and stared at the Captain’s head before looking around to find a piece of metal on the floor nearby then he looked up. “Damnit! Part of the ceiling came down.”
“Just get that medical tricorder out and find out what’s wrong with him!” Vakai ordered.
Ryker nodded his head and did just that before grabbing a hypospray and picked the one thing that the tricorder recommended to inject into the Captain’s neck. “Captain Carter will be stable for a few hours on this, it will help slow down the swelling but he needs to get to sickbay as soon as possible! That metal chunk that hit him in the head, it’s causing his brain to swell and if we don’t get him to sickbay to be operated on, he’s going to die!”
Vakai grabbed Ryker by his arms. “He is not going to die! Not while we are his crew! But you got him stable for now?”
“It’s what the medical tricorder recommended, but it also recommended immediate treatment. We need to get to Sickbay.”
“Someone get that turbolift door open and pop the emergency hatch! And I need your undershirts, all of them. We’re going to make something to help carry the Captain, and we will get him to sickbay. Come on! Get those jackets off, move it!” Vakai ordered.
Ryker placed his hand on Vakai’s shoulder. “Commander, relax.”
Vakai looked at him. “I am not going to be made Captain on some technicality because whatever the hell we hit out there killed our Captain, I won’t accept it. We are getting him to Sickbay and we are going to save him.” He told Ryker before unzipping his jacket and peeling it off before tugging his black undershirt up and off of himself. He’ll soon put the jacket back on and zip it back up before grabbing undershirts from everyone and start to make something that’ll help them carry the Captain. “You’re not going to die on me, John.”
[Devron Fleet Yards - Space Dock]
Ryker stepped through the airlock from the station, right onto the deck of a small corridor of the vessel, a vessel that he was given a new assignment on. Though he was quite surprised at the position he was given on his new assignment, along with the rank that came with it. But he figured that it was about time someone recognized his skills, in both a pilot and command. Now he just needs to find his quarters.
A few minutes would go by, Ryker set his bags in his quarters, if you call them that but he had to remember, this is no luxury cruiser like the Galaxy Class. He was now well on his way to sickbay to get the silly, standard check up done and over so he can report himself to the Captain. But as soon as he arrived in sickbay, he was caught by surprise at those who were near the door.
“Gomo? Gomez? Koyda and Maya? What are you four doing here?” Ryker asked and then he noticed the single pips on the shoulders of their uniforms. “So you did do what Vakai asked.”
Gomez smiled, “We sure did. And we are as surprised as you are, heck we’re not the only ones.” She then pointed to one of the doctors which Ryker was easily able to pick out.
“Sivol too?” Ryker asked.
Gomez nodded. “Yup. It seems like our Captain has good taste for talent.”
“Or he intends to torture us.” said Gomo.
Ryker frowned, “How so?”
“Maybe the Captain saw the words in between the lines of our reports, or however you people say it.”
“Read in between the lines.” Gomez corrected Gomo.
“Yes, that. Anyways, perhaps he did not like the things we did. Perhaps he intends to correct us. Or perhaps he was not the one who was involved with all of us being assigned here. Maybe the brass wanted to punish us and what better way to do it than on a small, cramped vessel such as this? I mean look at this ship. It is a relic, it belongs in a museum.” Gomo complained.
Both Koyda and Maya chuckled. “Oh, would you calm down.” Maya told him.
“It was no brass. Our assignment orders were indeed signed by a brass but they came with a request from the Captain. So he wanted us here. All of us.” said Koyda.
Ryker nodded his head. “I suppose I will be able to get some insight on it. Not only am I the Chief at the Helm but I am also the Second Officer.”
“Really?” Gomez asked. “Think I could get special commendations to my quarters? Like, oh I don’t know...expanding it?”
Ryker chuckled some. “We all have to deal with the size of our quarters.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re a Senior Officer, you get quarters all to yourself.” Gomo told him.
Ryker frowned, “You guys don’t?”
“Oh lord no...I’m bunked with him.” Gomez pointed at Gomo. “And we’re already having problems.”
“It is too darn cold!” Gomo told her.
“And it is too damn hot!” Gomez told him with a glare.
“Then why can’t you two meet in the middle?” Ryker asked.
“Easy for you to say.” Gomez said as the line began to move finally. “Oh look, they fixed one of their bio beds. I would have done it myself but I need a check up first before I can do anything. Chief’s orders.”
Ryker shrugged his shoulders. “Sounds rough. What about you two?” He looked at Koyda and Maya.
“Well, since we were finally able to get married, we bunk together in our quarters.” Maya told him.
“Isn’t having a relationship and being on the same ship against some sort of regulation somewhere?” Ryker asked.
Koyda shrugged his shoulders. “If it is, the Captain apparently doesn’t care. And we’re Bajoran. Duty comes first and once our duties are over, then we pay more attention to each other. But we won’t be distracted or anything.”
Maya elbowed him. “Either way, we have different shifts. I have the Bravo Shift and he has the Alpha Shift. We both spend the Gamma shift together, talking and other things but once one of us heads off to a shift, the other sleeps.”
Ryker shakes his head. “That’s got to be one rough sleep schedule.”
Koyda shrugged again. “We’ll manage. Eventually we will have the same shifts and everything but right now, we are willing to compromise for the obvious reasons.”
Ryker nodded his head. “Well if anything, you two work really well together, while on duty. So if I get the chance, I may talk to the Captain and the Chief on giving you both the same shifts. If we ever go on some away mission and require a security team, I want you both there, not just one of you.”
“Awww. Ain’t he sweet.” Maya snickered.
As they got closer to the medical staff, Ryker asked. “Well now, if we’re all here, then I wonder where Vakai is.” Which he was close enough for Sivol to hear and answer.
“Lieutenant Commander Vakai should be speaking with the Captain right now.” She told him.
Ryker looked at her and tilted his head a bit. “Oh? Are you keeping track of his movements?”
Sivol raised a brow and then returned to her duties on the next person in line. “That is ridiculous. I have no need to monitor Vakai’s movement. He was simply here, very early, received his check up and then left. He told me he had to report to the Captain as soon as his check up was finished. That is all that I know.”
Ryker chuckled, “I was only teasing. So he is here. If and when I get any answers gang, I’ll be sure to fill you in.”
Vakai had been standing there in the Captain’s quarters for an hour now, answering questions about his time at the academy and how he felt about the mission in the Triangle in regards to retrieving intel from the Hunters of D’Ghor. The quarters were a bit like his own, enough space for a decent bed, with a small table an a chair to eat your meal, and a small desk with a chair on either side for the Captain and whomever he were with could sit across from each other and discuss on whatever matters that needed to be discussed.
“So I guess you have been wondering why I have been questioning you, am I right, Commander?” Asked the Captain. He was no average Captain that Vakai has seen. The man had almost shoulder length gray hair with a full gray beard, all well kept of course. His name was John Carter, and from what Vakai has read about the man from his service record, he has only served on one single ship. This ship.
“The thought has crossed my mind, Captain.” Vakai replied, his hands clasped behind the small of his back.
Carter nodded his head a couple times before relaxing his back into his chair. “My First Officer before you received the request from Starfleet for him to take Command, along with a promotion. So I am getting to know my new First Officer as best as I can, to see how he ticks, how his gears turn. I need to be able to trust you with every command decision I make so that there are no issues among us, no hesitation, no defiance. I do expect you to question some of my decisions, it is all part of learning as you take your place among the Senior Command Officers. But I cannot have every single decision I give be questioned every time, is that clear?”
“Crystal clear, sir.” Vakai replied.
Carter nodded his head. “Good. I know that I can trust you, Commander. Your file says it all. Hell, I have not seen so many officers be promoted so quickly since…” He paused for a moment then shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, I wasn’t around the last time this happened. But I do know it has happened, and it is happening again because Starfleet needs more experienced crews on more starships.” Carter sighed as he looked at one of his framed photos on the wall and pointed at it. “That one right there.”
Vakai blinked and then followed his finger to the framed photo of what looked like a group of people and their uniforms were of the 2370s. “Was this your Captain?” Vakai asked.
Carter nodded his head. “Indeed he was. My first Captain, before Reynolds took Command. But Reynolds was also a great Captain. Especially when the Dominion War began.” Carter sighed again as he shook his head. “But there were days when we weren’t sure that we were going to win. The Seventh Fleet was one of our largest fleets in Starfleet, combined with our allies, the Klingons. Only fourteen out of a hundred and twelve survived.” Carter then stood up and stepped over to Vakai’s side as he too stared at the photo.
“I heard that we took heavy losses.” Vakai told him.
“Indeed we did. Then during the war, there was a Borg incursion, which got real damn close to Earth too if it wasn’t for the Enterprise.” He said with another sigh right after. “And we lost more good people because of it.”
“And we lost more over time.” Vakai added.
Carter nodded his head before going back to his chair and sat down. “We’re doing the best that we can to rebuild the fleet but also put well experienced officers on those ships. Problem is, we have more ships than we have experienced officers. Some that have been around for years, even decades. Hell, I cannot tell you how many times I wondered when Starfleet is planning to mothball this ship.” He shook his head.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.”
Carter stared at him for a moment. “Neither would I, Commander. But I have been on this ship since I was an Ensign. You’re told to not get attached to people or to lifeless objects, that it would only hurt your career or just...be plain silly. But they can’t teach you how to not get attached. They can’t predict how or why you would get attached. Or how and why you would form a relationship with someone on board. It is simply not preventable. But sure, there are some officers who can go around saying ‘It is just a ship.’ But those are just officers who want nothing more than to be brass and micromanage people like you and me.” Carter shook his head. “This ship has been my home for almost three decades. I would hate to lose her but if it came down to it, I won’t stop them from mothballing her. Hell, they will probably make her a museum, since she is the first of her class and survived the Dominion War.”
Vakai smirked and shook his head. “You truly are attached to this ship, aren’t you Captain.”
Carter stood him. “You’re damn right I am. And trust me, Commander. You may not get attached to this ship but there will be a ship that you will get attached to, and when you do, you will understand exactly how I feel today when time flows by and the longer you’re on board, the more advance technology becomes around you, the more you begin to question…’When...when will they take her away from me?’ And when that day comes, feel free to give me a call and tell me how it feels.” Carter then grinned at him with a small chuckle soon after.
Vakai nodded his head with a smile. “I’ll do just that, sir.”
Carter then clapped his hands together, nice and loud. “All right! Good talk. Very good talk. Let’s get right down to it.” Carter grabbed a padd off his desk, then walked past Vakai towards the door and right out of his quarters. “Come along, it’s time to debrief you.”
Vakai immediately followed Carter out of his quarters and followed right behind him, the best he could do with how narrow these corridors were and he wasn’t going to block anyone from going the opposite direction by walking at the Captain’s side, if he were able to do just that. “Our mission, sir?”
Carter nodded his head. “Indeed, Commander. As well as our new officers.” He handed the padd over to Vakai behind him.
Vakai took it and checked the manifest. He did not have to go very far when he saw who was on board. “All of them?”
“Yup!” Carter smiled while they stepped into the turbolift. “Bridge.”
“May I ask why?”
“Because, Commander. I intend to mold you into the next Captain that Starfleet wishes to pluck out of my hands and off of my ship.” Carter told him. “And from the reports I’ve read from you and every member of your former squad, I noticed that you have already formed some sort of bond with them.”
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “I mean...I did have plans on making them my senior staff if I ever did get Command but I never told anyone else but them.”
Carter chuckled. “You vouching for four Non-Coms to become Commissioned Officers was enough to scream it, Commander.”
Vakai raised a brow and tilted his head with a slight nod. “I did not think of that, but that does make sense.”
The lift stopped but the door didn’t split open yet. “Look. I know potential when I see it. I know a fine crew, when I see it. You and your team did one hell of a job for your very first mission, together, and you barely knew each other.”
“Well to be fair, we did introduce ourselves more when we were on that D’Ghor transport.”
Carter smirked. “Point is, Commander. I have said it before and I will say it again. We have more starships than we have experienced crew for them. If I can mold you, and your former squad into a crew that Starfleet can recognize and appreciate, then we will be able to get one more starship out of the docks and back into space. As Captain, I am more than willing to do my part to help Starfleet find potential crew to get those ships up and running again.” He then stepped forward and the door split right open.
Vakai followed right behind him, the lift doors closing after and then took a good look at the bridge. It was small and different, and there was only one chair in the center and that was the Captain’s chair. So Vakai figured that he would likely be roaming around, looking over people’s shoulders, repeating commands, things like that. “I understand, Captain. What are our orders?”
“Well, I figured I would wait for our Second Officer to get up here first.” Carter said as he stood before his seat in the center.
Speaking of the devil, the lift doors splitting open again, Ryker stepping right out of the turbolift.
“Ah! Right on time, Lieutenant!” Carter then clapped his hands together once more. “We don’t have much of a briefing room on board this ship so, we will just discuss our mission right here. Vakai, Ryker. Once we confirm the headcount, finish loading the cargo bays and top of our tank, we will be heading for the Providence Fleet Yards, where there will be a few freighters full of supplies bound to the New Romulus, homeworld of the Romulan Republic. We will act as an escort for those freighters, as there have been reports of raids by...oh something about pirates and the like.”
“Sounds easy enough.” Said Ryker before slapping the back of Vakai’s shoulder. “Hey there, Commander! Good to see you.”
Vakai smiled. “You too, Ryker.” Before looking back at the Captain. “We’re going to New Romulus?”
Carter nodded his head. “We will likely have to get some supplies from them, depending on how the whole escort mission turns out. So yes, you will get a chance to meet some of your own people.”
Vakai nodded his head. “They are indeed Romulan, just, not entirely from the part of space that I was born in.”
“Hogwash. So what if the Romulan Empire split into three different Governments. They’re still Romulans, and so are you.” Said Carter.
Vakai nodded his head again. “Of course.”
“Now that you two know of our mission, please go check on the crew manifest and the cargo supplies. I want to make sure we’re loaded up and ready to go before we take our road trip.”
“Aye, sir.” Both Vakai and Ryker said before they stepped into the turbolift.
“So...I get the cargo bays and you get the manifest?” Ryker asked.
Vakai smirked, “Taking the easy job are we?”
“Easy? Please. Checking the manifest should be easy.”
“You forget, Lieutenant. This ship hardly has much automation.”
Ryker raised a brow at Vakai. “Then I am right, checking the manifest will be easy. So if you don’t want it, I’ll happily take it.”
Vakai chuckled, shaking his head. “Go check on the cargo.”
“Aye, aye, sir!” Ryker smiled.
- The main crew has arrived on board the USS Centaur, of her own class.
- The First and Second Officer are now aware of their mission and are making sure the ship is ready for launch
- The Centaur will cross many sectors, through light years of space towards the Providence Fleet Yards. So Chapter Two will begin with the Centaur meeting up with the convoy and begin to escort them towards New Romulus.
- Oh what fate will fall on the convoy and the vessels that are escorting it? Tune in for the next Chapter!
[Arriving at Providence Fleet Yards]
Vakai was just sitting there at the small table in his quarters, eating his breakfast when he heard the chime, indicating that someone was at the door. “Come in.” He said after he swallowed a mouthful of eggs, just to look and see that it was Sivol. “What can I do for you, Doc?”
She smiled, one of the most unusual Vulcan’s he has known, who was carefully practicing control of her emotions. But he also noticed that she only did so around him, he rarely saw her display any emotion to anyone else. This sent signals to him, signals he was familiar with but he never acted on them, thinking maybe she was just friendly because he was Romulan and the Vulcan and Romulan people used to be one whole race.
“I thought maybe I could join you for breakfast.” She said, holding her own tray of what looked like one of the Vulcan soups.
Vakai pointed at the otherside of his table with the open palm of his hand. “Not often I get company for breakfast.”
She smiled once again right as she set the tray down and took her seat. “Well I was curious.”
Vakai took a sip of his coffee as he raised a brow, mimicking what Vulcans normally do. “In what exactly?”
She took one spoonful of her soup, only to swallow it almost immediately as she went to answer. “We are about to embark on a journey towards New Romulus. Where not only I get to meet a very different culture of Romulans, but you also get to see your own kind for...how long has it been?”
Vakai set his cup down with a small sigh. “The only time I saw a Romulan, the first time I saw one, was when I was being evaluated for my command training by the Task Group Commanding Officer on board the USS Nexus, a Cheyenne Class. We were investigating a region of space that had made numerous reports of raids when we encountered a Romulan Free State vessel. The way he dressed made me believe that he was with the Tal’Shiar. And that made me uneasy, because it meant they could have very well been behind the raids. But they weren’t. The reports were all false, as apparently a single Freighter had been frequently and secretly delivering supplies to the Rangers. Food, medicine, even some weapons for self defense. Least that is what I was told and I was forced to trust them because a single message, no trace of where it came from, told the Rangers to trust me.”
Vakai sighed once more as he leaned back into his seat. “If my parents were indeed involved in sending that message, why to the Rangers? And why put me in that position in the first place? Now I have become accountable for anything that Rangers receive and if they use anything against any of the Romulan Governments, Starfleet can review any record, find the record of that mission, and call me in for questioning. My career would be in jeopardy.”
Sivol stared at him as she listened, word for word, soaking it in before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath as she accumulated the words to respond. When she opened her eyes, she seemed quite confident in what she was about to say. “I don’t think your parents would put you in that kind of position on purpose. I believe that, whatever the reason it may be, they wanted Starfleet, not just you, to realize that the Rangers are not all that bad and what is going on along the border, needs to be addressed more appropriately.”
“But that’s the problem, Sivol. Where is the evidence? Where is the proof? If the Tal’Shiar are indeed involved with the issues going on along the border, they know how to cover their asses better than anyone else. They can easily point the blame of it all on one or multiple parties. Rangers, Orions, Pirates, Raiders, you name it.” Vakai told her.
“Exactly!” Sivol replied.
Vakai looked down at his food as he thought for a moment before looking back at her. “However, I did promise them that when I become Captain and acquire my own ship, I will help those colonies along the border. I promised the Rangers that Starfleet will get the bigger picture of it all.”
“That is a hefty promise. What if you don’t find anything, or don’t find what you believe is the truth?” She asked.
“Meaning, if I don’t find proof that Tal’Shiar is involved? Or maybe it’s just the Romulan Free States or the Romulan Star Empire? Or both?” He sighed heavily. “I don’t know then. But I know Starfleet doesn’t give up on things easily, especially when pushed. So I will not give up until I know the truth.”
“Then what if the truth is the Rangers are indeed involved?” She asked.
“Then I will find my parents and ask them why they forced me to put my trust in the Rangers.” Vakai then looked at his food before picking up his tray and stuck it into the replicator, recycling it and the food with it. “Why are you starting to sound like a councilor?”
Sivol shrugged one of her shoulders, mimicking what he normally does. “I took some classes. Plus I wanted to learn more about you, what makes you so passionate. What drives you. Gauge your personality.”
Vakai raised a brow again before sitting back down. “Why?”
She smiled and shook her head. “Isn’t it obvious? Or is it true that they say on Earth that boys really are clueless?”
Sivol nearly chuckled before shaking her head once more. “Nevermind. What are you going to do when we reach New Romulus?”
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “Not sure, really. From what I read, they really do sound very different from the history of the Romulan Star Empire, and from what we know of the Romulan Free States after the split when Romulus was destroyed. I am ultimately curious.”
Sivol nodded her head. “Why wouldn’t you be? They’re your people. Different governments or not, they are Romulan and you will have a chance to interact with one at a more peaceful level than the last encounter with a Romulan.”
Vakai shrugged again. “I don’t know, it was kind of peaceful, the last encounter.”
“You know what I meant.” She squinted at him with a smirk as she finished off her soul before taking the tray to the replicator and recycled it.
Suddenly there was a different kind of chime indicating that his communicator was activated. “Commander Vakai. Please report to the Bridge.” said some female. Likely the Bridge’s Comm Officer.
“Duty calls.” Vakai said as he stood up.
“Then I best head to sickbay and check in with the Chief Medical for anything that needs to be done. It was a pleasure talking to you, Commander.” She winked before leaving his quarters.
Vakai raised a brow and then shrugged his shoulders before leaving as well, heading straight to a turbolift to take him straight up to the Bridge.
After the Centaur’s supplies were restocked by the station transporting what supplies were needed, the ship flew out to meet with the convoy, that was at this point, right on the edge of the system, all ready to jump to warp. Among the Centaur, there was a Freedom and a Challenger, also escorting the convoy to New Romulus. The two other escorts had been escorting the Convoy since the beginning, Centaur was really just a first time addition due to the rise of raiders attacking the Convoy nearly every time for the past four weeks. This week, it will be different, as the Centaur may be another relic in the Reserve Fleet, she has experience and an experienced crew with an experienced Captain. As for the new Bridge Officers, only time will tell if they can handle a real combat situation.
Vakai stepped onto the bridge to see that the Captain was conversing with someone on the view screen, so he simply eased himself up to the Captain’s side with no intention to interrupt.
“She may be old, Captain. But she still has all her teeth and she will bite if they try to raid again.” Carter told the person on the viewer, likely the leader of the Convoy.
“I just wish Starfleet sent us more than one. Three escorts does not boast confidence in me, my crew or the other freighters.”
Carter smiled. “Trust me, Captain. I run a tight ship here. We may have to diagnose equipment manually but this crew has been doing it for years. And they learned from the crew before them who also learned from the crew before them. So again, this ship may be old, but she purrs like she’s brand-spanking-new. If they do come, they will be in for a hell of a fight.”
“I can only hope that you are right, Captain. We’re ready to go when you are.”
“Copy that. Just pick your speed and the Escort Fleet will match it. Centaur out.” With that last line, the Comms Officer closed the channel with the freighter Captain. Carter then turned his head towards Vakai, and then ‘hmph’ed before looking back at the viewer. “Freighter Captains. Got no faith anymore. Or trust. Questioning my ship. HA! My first Captain kept this baby in tip top shape, so did Captain Reynolds, especially during the Dominion War. I most certainly would not let the tradition die so easily, so this baby can sting just as well and hard as she did back in the day. Questioning my ship. Who does he think he is?”
Vakai shrugged one of his shoulders. “Captain who is likely afraid. After so many raids in the past several weeks, why wouldn’t he be?”
“Heh. Excuses are all I am hearing. Back in the day, you got slapped for making piss poor excuses.”
Vakai raised a brow. “Seriously?”
Carter looked at Vakai and chuckled. “Hell no. Just making shit up. Anyways, I want you to take command during this trip to New Romulus.” Carter said as he stepped away from the center chair.
Again Vakai raised a brow. “Seriously?”
“This is how I was mentored into being a Captain by my first Captain and by Captain Reynolds after the war. So you and your posse will get to deal with the raiders, if they come. I will just be off to the side, evaluating, giving you helpful hints as we go. Besides, I got to see what you can do, Commander. You didn’t think being mentored was going to be easy, did you?”
Vakai stared at him. “Seriously.”
“Is there an echo in here? Or is your record player stuck? Yes I’m serious. I’m the Captain, I can be damn well serious as much as I damn well please. Now sit your ass into that chair, Commander. Or do I have to make it an order?”
Vakai blinked before he approached the chair. “I thought you already did.” He said as he sat down, getting a look from Ryker with a thumbs up.
Carter was about to say something when he saw what Ryker was doing. “Oi! Pay attention son, the convoy is getting away.”
Ryker jumped his attention right back to his station and his fingers darted across his board, locking onto the convoy fleet, getting their heading, their speed, and matching the ship with them before jumping to warp, increase their speed until they were in proper formation and then reduced speed to match theirs. The other two escorts did the same, in a somewhat arrow-formation, Freedom to one side, Challenger to the other.
Carter then looked back at Vakai. “Besides, like I told you before in my office. Starfleet needs more ships active, so they need more Captains. This is the best way to get your feet wet and get that experience you need so that in months time, you get your very own ship.”
Vakai sighed some. “I just did not expect it to be so soon. Months time? Starfleet that desperate?”
“You have a short tension span or something, son? The Seventh Fleet lost almost a hundred ships in the Dominion War, not to mention more ships in several key operations. So we lost a lot of Captains and a lot of experienced crews. It’s like we’re back in the 60’s of the 2200’s, where everyone is racing to become the next Captain of the next Constitution Class. They were the most advanced and the pride of Starfleet back then. Until the Excelsior Class came out twenty years later. Pinnacle of Starfleet Technology, she was. Anyways, even though no one is racing for one single ship, they are racing to be Captains of their own ship. Why aren’t you?” Carter asked.
Vakai looked up at him. “Well...I mean...Not saying I don’t want to be Captain, sir. I just feel that...I would be more comfortable if I had more time to gain more experience, more confidence.”
Carter laughed. “Boy, you have no clue do you?” Carter then looked at Gomo, then at Ryker before back at Vakai. “Your own team may not be on this bridge, but I guarantee you, the ones who are, have full confidence in your abilities. I’ve seen it in their eyes.” Mind him talking about the two on the bridge in third person, not that Carter forgot that they were on the bridge with this kind of discussion, he simply didn’t care if he was heard or not, as he spoke only the truth and none of which meant to be disrespectful or anything. “You led your team into The Triangle with confidence. You and your team attacked a camp and wiped it out with confidence, not to mention, rescued Lieutenant Sivol. Then you and your team went straight to an outpost, got the intel you needed, overloaded it’s reactor and stole a D-Twelve with confidence. Then you and your team took that D-Twelve and fought the D’Ghor, defending a single system, with confidence. Son, you got the confidence in you. Don’t question it. Don’t doubt it. When the time comes, when you become Captain, I know...we know...you will be ready. I’m simply just pushing the process a bit faster by placing you in that chair and putting you in charge of this mission. Understood?”
Vakai nodded his head. “Understood, sir.”
“Good. Because I’m done with motivational speeches for today. Good lord, I need a glass of water. Talked way more today than I have in a year.” He said as he went and left the bridge.
Ryker then turned around to face Vakai and was chuckling. “He’s quite the character, isn’t he?”
Then one of the officers, one of those who have been on board for nearly as long as Carter has. “He wasn’t always like that. The years have been off and on with him, but the war did the most damage, as the Captain lost a lot of friends. Many of whom were in the Seventh Fleet that weren’t among the fourteen vessels that survived. He could retire from Starfleet if he wanted, but he chooses to remain because of the losses Starfleet took. You know he has refused promotion twice now? He could be an Admiral at this point but he chooses to remain as Captain. And he chooses to remain here, as this ship’s Captain. The thought of them retiring this vessel, whenever that may be, haunts him.”
“Why would that haunt him?” Ryker asked.
The officer looked at Ryker. “Because he’s got a lot of fond memories on this ship. It’s really all that is keeping him together. He’s served on no other vessel but this one. We’re his family and he’s welcomed you and your friends into his family. He’s simply a dedicated Starfleet Officer who is doing what he can to help the fleet grow again.”
“Has he ever mentioned about retiring?” Vakai asked.
The officer shrugged. “A few times but each time he adds a few years. Last time he said he’d probably retire when he is seventy years old. But he also said he wouldn’t give up this ship without a fight either. Like I said, a lot of fond memories.”
Vakai thought it over before refocusing his attention to the view screen. “Then let’s make him proud.”
- A little more development with Vakai
- The Centaur had arrived and is now escorting the supply convoy across space to New Romulus
- Learn a little bit about Captain John Carter
- Finally got around to writing and posting this Chapter, for over a week I've been burnt out and focusing on other things but felt that it would be best to get this series done so I can move on to the next series where we find out what happens to the Centaur and to Captain Carter. The little piece that was posted in the beginning before Chapter One.
- Stay tuned for the next Chapter! The attack on the Convoy!!
[En route to New Romulus]
[Federation Space - Near Romulan Republic Border]
[Deck 3 - Maintenance Hatch]
Just at a junction on Deck Three, there was a pair of legs sticking out of an open Maintenance Hatch that belonged to Ensign Gomez, who was currently doing her rounds by scanning various EPS grids and secondary systems with her tricorder from engineering, designed to do extensive scanning due to having to manually diagnose essentially everything to determine what kind of maintenance is required. Plus she had her tool cases on the floor of the jefferies next to her while she was laying on her back running her scans, ready to perform the maintenance required if it was just simply a realignment or a small adjustment here and there. "I didn't take you for being lazy, Ensign." Gomez blinked and then lifted her head to look down to see Ryker with a boyish grin on his face.
"I am busy, Ryker. What do you want?" Gomez asked as she laid her head back down and looked over at her scans.
"I'm hurt. I can't pay a visit to one of my colleagues that I know all so well from our previous, suicidal mission together? Plus I am your superior after all." Ryker told her.
She scoffed and giggled at the last part. "Oh you're my superior officer all right, by rank and position but you are still a young and childish little boy to me." She said as she opened up one of her kits and grabbed a tool to do a quick realignment, watching her scans to make sure she did it right.
"I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or as an insult." He said as he placed his hand on his chest where his heart was.
Gomez lifted her head and looked at him, smirking more when she saw him like that. "Relax, just pulling your leg…sir." She emphasized the last part before returning to her job, only then to pull herself right out when she was done and started collecting her things.
Ryker took a step back to give her room. "I know, just pulling back. And you don't have to be formal with me, Ryker is just fine. Or James. Or Jim, my friends call me Jim."
Gomez raised a brow at him and smirked again. "I did not realize that we were on a first name basis." She said as she closed the maintenance hatch and then started walking, heading to her next destination, Ryker soon right at her side.
Ryker shrugged his shoulders. “Well even though we only worked together for such a short time as it were, I’m used to us just being colleagues. Not this, formality between us. You know what I mean?”
Gomez looked at him. “I do, it just seems like you’re moving a little fast with it, don’t you think?”
Ryker smiled, “Well I mean, first names, yeah sure but I have my reasons.”
Gomez laughed, “There it is. I knew there was a reason somewhere.” She stopped and knelt down as she opened up a panel and started scanning.
Ryker stopped and knelt down beside her as he watched her work. “It’s not what you think, honest.”
Gomez looked at him and rolled her eyes as she smirked. “It is exactly what I think. Look, I’m flattered but again...you are my superior and the way things are going, you will always be my superior. Unless I transfer to a different ship, which I may not be able to, considering our First Officer will definitely want to keep us together.”
Ryker's face flushed. “As I’ve said before, I don’t want us to be all...formal about this. I don’t care if I am your superior. I rather treat you as an equal. Well, treat everyone as an equal. But you know what I mean…”
Gomez sighed and lowered her tricorder as she looked back at him. “I do but you also have to understand, that’s just not how it works. There’s risk of favoritism or hesitation or...there’s just risks. It’s not worth taking.”
“I completely disagree with you there.” He told her and they just knelt there staring into each other’s eyes. He wasn’t sure if he was getting to her or what, but he was exploring, trying to figure her out more, hoping that her eyes would give her away and give him some sort of sign. Of course, he felt like she was doing the same, trying to figure him out and why he was acting this way or being so stubborn.
Gomez licked her lips, “Look...Ja-” She was cut off when the lights dimmed and the bars of red began flashing along with the ‘red alert’ klaxon going off.
“Red Alert! All hands to battlestations!” Was Vakai’s voice that came directly from the Bridge.
“Damn. Rain check?” Ryker asked.
“Just go, ya dork.” She told him as she closed up the panel.
He looked at her a bit longer before getting up and took off running for the nearest lift.
It only took a few minutes but Ryker was back on the Bridge and heading straight for his station, his relief handing it back over to him.
“Ah, welcome back, Lieutenant. Did you enjoy your stroll?” Gomo asked.
“I did, at least until the call to duty came.” Ryker replied as he checked his sensor display, seeing three blips. “Looks like we got company.”
“Indeed we do. They will be here in five minutes.” Vakai told Ryker. “I need a status report.”
“Phasers charged, torpedo tubes loaded and shields are online.” Gomo reported.
“Engines and maneuvering thrusters are responding adequately, no sign of lag from commands.” Ryker reported.
“What about the escorts and the convoy?” Vakai asked the comms.
“All ships have raised their shields. Escorts are in formation and weapons are armed.” Replied the comms officer.
“Are we certain that these visitors are hostile?” Ryker asked.
“This is where the convoy gets frequently attacked, Lieutenant. Most definitely by the Orion Syndicate.” Captain Carter answered. “And if you’d check your sensors, you’ll know that those are Orion Raiders on the way.”
Ryker swallowed as he double checked his sensor display. “Understood, sir.”
Vakai looked to the comms officer again. “Hail the Orion vessels. Tell them that they are violating Federation Space and they are to break off at once.”
The Comm officer shook their head. “No response, Commander.”
“Their weapons are hot, Commander.” Gomo reported.
Vakai focused his attention onto the view screen. “Then I guess we have no other choice. Inform the convoy to divert all power to their shields. Then notify the Escorts to only fire to defend. We do not fire first.”
“Here they come!” Ryker announced.
Three raiders dropped out of warp and were immediately moving at full impulse towards the convoy. Knowing that the Starfleet vessels wouldn’t fire first, they took the opportunity to unleash a barrage of disruptor fire onto the convoy, followed by half a dozen torpedoes contacting shields of a couple freighters. Now that their intent was clear, the three escorts stayed in formation and chased down the raiders one by one, focusing all their fire power. But as they were focusing on one raider, the other two were free to target the convoy, so the Centaur broke off to engage the remaining two raiders, as the two escorts pressed their attack on the one.
The area of space around the convoy was now riddled with weapons fire of disruptors and phasers lancing out across space at one another, spitting out torpedoes that would home in on their targets and clash into their shields. The battle would not take long though, with the Centaur as an extra escort, the two remaining escorts were able to eliminate the raider that they were focused on, which spun out of control before secondary explosions caused a full meltdown on it’s warp core which took the vessel out entirely. Now with three escorts against two raiders, it was only a matter of time. But after the two raiders suffered enough damage that they retreated from the fight and jumped to warp, leaving the convoy alone entirely.
Vakai stood from the command chair and looked at everyone. “Good work. Damage report.”
“Shields are down to forty-eight percent, but shouldn’t take long to recharge them. The two escorts appear to be in better condition than we are, but of course they weren’t fighting two raiders alone like we were.” Gomo reported.
“What about the convoy?” Vakai looked at Comms.
“Most of the freighters took minor damage, but two are reporting major shield damage, and one of the two are reporting that their warp drive is offline.” Said the Comm.
Vakai looked at Captain Carter. “Think we can spare a couple engineers, sir?”
Carter nodded his head. “That would be wise. Faster we get their warp drive online, the quicker we can cross into Republic space. How far away are we from their border, Lieutenant?”
Ryker entered a couple commands before answering. “We’re just about a couple lightyears, sir.”
Vakai pressed the intercom button on the seat. “Bridge to Engineering. One of the freighter’s warp drive went out. Think you can spare a few to help them get it fixed?”
“I’ll send them over to the transporter room now, Commander.” Voice came from Engineering.
“Thanks, Chief.” Carter replied over Vakai. “Let’s hope they don’t come back with more friends.”
[Twenty minutes later]
Ryker was readjusting the ship’s course for the tenth time as they were simply circling around the convoy of six freighters while waiting for one of them to get their warp drive back online. That is until his sensor display started sending out a warning sound, which he looked at and saw five blips just entering their long range sensors. “Sir. Looks like our friends are back.”
Vakai stood up from the command chair and went over to the helm station to see the blips on Ryker’s sensor display. He then turned to look at Gomo. “Signatures the same?”
Gomo nodded his head. “They indeed are, sir.”
“Hail our team on the freighter.” Vakai ordered.
“Centaur to Gomez.”
“Gomez here, Commander.”
“Our friends are back and are about to be here in five minutes.”
Gomez sighed audibly. “I don’t know what the hell they did to this freighter the last round but the warp drive here is...well was...being held together by paper clips and chewing gum. The freighter Captain told me they haven’t been in a shipyard for a proper refit in years, I’m surprised anything works anymore.”
“Is that your way of saying you can use your miraculous engineering skills to bring their warp engines back online or…?”
“It’s my way of saying, it is going to be longer than five minutes. Sorry, Commander.”
Captain Carter stepped up to Vakai’s side. “Don’t worry about it, Ensign. We will provide cover, you get those engines back online. Centaur out.” With that, the comm link was terminated. “Do you know what circle the wagon means, Commander?”
Vakai raised a brow. “No sir.”
Carter grinned. “My family and I are huge fans of western novels and entertainment. One thing that I found particularly interesting was when a group of settlers that went out west to establish a settlement or were simply looking for a new home in the grand west of America, this was back when humanity was still exploring the vast continents of Earth, long before they started exploring the vast depths of the oceans. Anyways, when they were certain that they were being threatened, the line of wagons would then begin to ride in a circle, creating a defensive formation, making themselves a moving target that was difficult to target. Sometimes, they would even put the most valuable ones of their group in the middle for protection, like women and children for one.”
Vakai took the pause given to think and then answered, “You want us to circle the disabled freighter?”
Carter clapped Vakai’s shoulder. “Now you’re thinking. We’re going to take the freighters that we have, and have them circle around the disabled freighter. While we actively engage the Orion vessels.”
“But, space is three dimensional, they can simply just go up or under.” Vakai told him.
“Not if we stagger the freighters. I know we only got five freighters to circle the disabled, but if each and every one of them were at random Z levels, with their shields set to maximum and bubbled just to the point that they’re almost touching, we could prevent them from getting through, especially if we chase and pressure them away from the only two ways in and out.” Carter explained.
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “I will do whatever it takes to ensure this cargo gets to New Romulus, sir. But since you know this idea better than I do, please, take the lead.”
Carter grinned and then went over to the Comms station and started speaking to the officer, at which point he was explaining the entire plan to the convoy Captain and the Escort vessels.
In the meantime, Vakai looked at Gomo. “I want a full payload of photon torpedoes set to proximity mode so that way we can do some damage to their shields. Have the Escorts do the same. I want to make our odds a little brighter.”
Gomo acknowledged and began coordinating by sending text messages from his station to the stations of the tactical officers on both Escort vessels while signalling the team in the torpedo room to start making modifications and reloading the tubes with proximity torpedoes. “You want maximum yield, right Commander?” Gomo asked with a grin.
Vakai grinned back. “Damn right I do. We’re going to shake them out of their seats.”
Moment everything was put in place and everyone was in position, the five freighters circling around the ‘wounded’ one, while the three escorts were waiting, the five Orion raiders dropped out of warp and were like before, moving at high speed towards the convoy. But because two of the five raiders bore the same signature of the two that had fled earlier, the three Escorts immediately knew what was coming and did not wait for them to engage first. Technically they already had in the first raid attempt, so this time, the three Starfleet vessels had full reign of returning fire with full punishment at the five raiders. A full salvo of photon torpedoes from all three vessels, a total of twelve, were fired and sailed across the space between them only to explode just before impacting their targets.
“All five raiders are reading around fifty percent of their frontal shields.” Gomo reported.
“All ships, fire at will!” Vakai ordered.
Now various weapons of phaser beams, disruptor beams and bolts, as well as a torpedo here or there from either side, filled the void of space between the two groups as they engaged each other. As they grew closer to each other, the raiders broke off and attempted to make a run for the convoy but the three escorts wouldn’t have it as they chased and continued to engage the raiders, even if it meant one escort against two raiders or three. With the order given, three escorts focused on one raider and destroyed it before proceeding to the next one, and any time a raider tried to reach the disabled freighter from the top or bottom of the circling formation, an escort would break off and pressure them away. The battle would last for about ten minutes, a second raider destroyed and the three remaining raiders, wounded as they were, retreated.
“Report.” Vakai ordered.
“Shields are down to thirty percent. It’s going to take almost an hour to recharge them.” Gomo reported.
“The two escorts are reporting minor hull damage, and shields around fifteen percent. They also state it will take them an hour to recharge.” reported the Comms Officer.
“What about the freighers?” Vakai asked.
“The freighters in the formation report some shield damage, and the disabled freighter no damage at all. But good news, they got their warp drive back online.”
Carter smirked. “It’s about time.”
Vakai smirked as well. “No kidding. Inform the engineering team to stand by for transport. Then notify the convoy to get ready for warp. As soon as our engineering team is back on board, we are resuming our course for New Romulus at maximum speed.”
Ryker turned in his seat to look at Vakai. “Most of these freighters can only go Warp Six, maybe Seven.”
Vakai nodded his head. “Then we’ll proceed as such. But I want to get into Republic space as soon as possible. Maybe the Orions will think twice once we’re in someone else’s territory.”
Carter shook his head. “I wouldn’t count on it. They’re pirates. Scum of the galaxy. Well, not all of them, but these bunch certainly are. They will be back.”
[Thirty Minutes Later]
[Convoy Fleet at Warp 6.7]
[En route to New Romulus]
“Have we crossed into Republic space yet?” Vakai asked.
Ryker checked and then turned in his seat to nod his head. “Indeed we have, about fifteen minutes ago.”
“Any sign of outlaws on our sensors?” Carter asked, which showed just how much he did enjoy the western part of Earth’s history, which gave him some looks but mostly smiles.
Ryker took a look but Gomo beat him to it, “Negative, sir. Those...outlaws...seem to have been scared off.”
But then the sensor display gave out a warning sound from both Gomo and Ryker’s stations. “Speaking of outlaws.” Ryker beat Gomo this time. “We got six of them.”
Vakai sighed. “Just had to jynx us.” He smirked at Carter, who eventually shrugged his shoulders.
“I told you they wouldn’t care about whose space we are in.” Carter told him.
“Still.” Vakai looked at the Comms Officer. “Can you get a message out to New Romulus and tell them that we got outl...Orions intercepting our Convoy.”
The Comms officer nodded their head and went to work but then turned in their seat. “Comms are being jammed sir.”
Carter frowned, “Orions don’t often jam communications. Not that I know of.”
Vakai turned to Gomo. “Are they close enough to get a detailed scan?”
“Just about, let me boost our sensors here for a second.” Gomo said as he entered some commands and then a few seconds later, he looked and stared right at Vakai. “Three of them are the same raiders from before, but the other three are not Orion. They are Klingon.”
“Aww hell.” Carter huffed, “Can we get some sort of message out to New Romulus?”
“Sorry sir, but I can’t get anything through.” Said the Comms Officer.
“What about the convoy?” Carter asked.
“Short range is working.”
“Tell them that we need to go faster, now.”
Vakai shook his head. “It won’t matter, sir. Even if they can get to Warp Seven or surprisingly, Warp Eight...those ships will travel at Warp Nine and catch up to us before we even reach New Romulus.”
“Then where the hell are the Republic ships? They certainly can tell that they got intruders in their space.” Said Carter as his voice seemed to grow more frustrated.
“What are you thinking, Captain?” Vakai asked more quietly after he approached him.
Carter looked around and sighed, “Don’t worry about who hears, Commander. We’re a team, might as well hear it.” He stepped towards the very center of the Bridge. “I think that I know where the damn Hunters of D'Ghor have been getting some of their supplies from. How many times has this convoy going to New Romulus been hit?”
“Reports said that they have been hit almost every time for the past two months.” Ryker replied.
Carter turned and pointed. “Someone’s been reading. Good. Just what I expected from my Second Officer.” He then turned back around and looked at everyone. “As much as I wish we had participated in the defense against the Hunters of D’Ghor, we could not. This ship is old, everyone knows that. And as I have told you,” Carter pointed at Vakai. “I don’t even know why Starfleet keeps her around anymore. Not saying I want them to retire her, I love being on this ship and I love the fact that she still flies to this day. But those Klingons, those…?” Carter looked at Gomo.
“Oh.” Gomo looked down at his sensor readings, “Two Birds of Prey and a K’t’inga Class.”
Carter pointed again in gesture. He was about to explain how they will eat up their shields and tear through their hull but he remembered that that was not the best motivational speech to give, especially when it was true. He sighed and looked at everyone. “It will not be easy. We will certainly have a more difficult time than the last two confrontations but we are Starfleet. Despite all odds thrown at us, we do not give up.”
Vakai stood before the command chair. “Then what do we do to prepare?”
Carter smiled, “What do you think we should do?”
“Shut down all non-essential systems, go straight to emergency lighting. Shut down stations that we don’t need, focus entirely on combat only. Shut down anything we cannot use, that includes long range communications and might as well include long range sensors. We know they’re coming, we might as well focus strictly on battle.” Vakai then looked at Gomo. “Think we can risk losing a couple phaser banks?”
“If you’re talking about shunting more power into them so that they deal more damage to our enemy, then yes, I think we can risk losing a couple, maybe a few.” Gomo told him.
“What about photon torpedoes. Can we increase the payload somehow?” Vakai asked.
“If we get rid of the guidance systems and maybe one of the two deuterium tanks, we would have enough room to install a couple more antimatter containers for the matter-antimatter chamber to potentially increase the yield even more.” Gomo replied.
“Do what you can and on how many that you can.” Vakai told him.
“You do realize that we will have to rely on lining up with the target in order for those torpedoes to hit their target, right?” Ryker asked as Gomo left the Bridge to head straight for the Torpedo Room.
“We do what we can, Lieutenant.” Carter told him. “Maybe we should petition Starfleet to allow us smaller guys to carry quantum torpedoes.”
“Good luck with that.” Vakai told him. “Tell the Escorts of our plan, and if they wish to do the same, be our guest.”
[Ten Minutes Later]
The Convoy fleet had dropped out of warp, where the Escorts and their slight modifications to their weapons, with increased power to the shields and phasers, were ready for the fight. In a single moment, three raiders, two birds of prey and one K’t’inga dropped out of warp but this time, instead of approaching the convoy at maximum speed, they were approaching in a more calm manner.
“Sir. The lead ship is hailing us.” Said the Comms officer.
Both Vakai and Carter looked at each other with both surprise and curiosity before Vakai looked at the Comms. “On screen.” And just like that, a Klingon face appeared on the main viewer.
“So you are the one who has been making it difficult to raid the convoy.” Growled the Klingon.
“I am Commander Vakai of the USS Centaur. You are in Romulan Republic space, friends of the United Federation of Planets. I highly recommend that you leave at once before any more lives are lost. Quite frankly, I am not at all surprised that some of Mo’Kai had escaped from the Klingon Defense Force. Guess that means you ran away like a coward.” Vakai stared at the Klingon.
The Klingon laughed before looking at Carter, and noticing the pips he had, the Klingon knew who was in charge. “Captain, tell your Romulan pet to keep his mouth shut. Or I will have your ship disabled, have him brought on board my ship, cut off his ears and feel them to my targ!”
Carter was about to say something in response to that threat when a new voice came through their speakers, “You will have to go through our vessels first, Klingon scum.”
Both Vakai and Carter turned to Gomo who spoke quietly, “They just appeared out of nowhere. Three Romulan Republic vessels, right behind the raiding group.”
The Klingon growled. “I will not be leaving without my cargo!!”
Vakai took a step toward the view screen. “Face it, Klingon. The Mo’kai have lost. They are outnumbered and outgunned now. They simply do not stand a chance. You will just have to run home, with your tail tucked in between your legs, and find someone else to prey on for supplies. But hear this, Starfleet is always watching and we will stop your reign of terror on the innocents.”
“And if you enter Romulan Republic space again, we will not be so kind as to converse with you. We will destroy you and every single vessel that threatens our people. Do I make myself clear, Klingon?” Came from that voice again, a female Romulan Commander as Vakai suspected.
“So you have two options. Leave. Or be destroyed.” Vakai told him.
The Klingon began to curse in native tongue before slamming his fist on his arm rest, which must have been a button that cut the transmission. Then, with the viewer displaying the six raiding vessels, they turned and took off into empty space before jumping to warp.
Vakai let out a sigh before looking at the Comms Officer. “Inform everyone to stand down. Gomo, feel free to reset those torpedoes back to standard configuration.”
“Incoming transmission from the lead Romulan Republic ship, sir.” said the Comms Officer.
“On screen.” Vakai ordered, and as such, the viewer flickered to reveal what he had suspected correctly. A female Romulan Commander.
“I am Commander Pitroma.”
“Commander Vakai. It is a pleasure to meet you, Commander and I must say, impeccable timing.”
“Pleasure is mine, Commander and we have been monitoring your situation since the first two raids just outside our border.” She told him.
Vakai raised a brow, both him and Carter looking at each other, before they both looked back at the view screen. “You’ve been aware since the first raid? Mind if I ask why you chose now to assist?”
“As much as we are friends with the Federation, we wanted to continue respecting each other's borders. Granted the convoy is bringing supplies to our homeworld, but we also felt that you could handle yourselves just fine. And you did, at least until now.” She told him.
Vakai sighed, “Yeah, when the odds stacked against us and were in your space.” He frowned at her.
She licked her lips. “I understand, Commander. But we were also tied up with another matter, coming to you to assist in escorting the convoy was out of the question. At least until now.”
“Why didn’t you simply just say that in the beginning?” Carter asked.
She tilted her head, “And you are?”
“Captain John Carter, Commanding Officer of the USS Centaur. I have left Commander Vakai in command for the purpose of preparing him for his future. Long story. Regardless, you haven’t answered my question, Commander.”
“The matter that we were busy with, is classified Captain.” She told him. “That is why I did not bring it up in the first place.”
Carter sighed, “Typical Romulans.”
“I’m sorry?” Pitroma asked.
Carter raised his voice, “I said, ‘Typical Romulans’, Commander. We treat each other like allies, provide supplies to help each other out, and yet when it comes down to needing your help, you’re always busy with some ‘classified’ matter, so classified that you can’t even tell your friends. You know how many times this convoy has been raided? Where were the Republic ships then? Busy with another classified matter?”
“No, I don’t want to hear it. Nothing you say, will change my mind on how I feel about the Romulans, all Romulans. You are all the same before the Dominion War, during the Dominion War and after the Dominion War. You never change.” Carter ranted.
Vakai stepped up and patted Carter’s shoulder, a way to calm and tell Carter to let him take over. “Look. Point is, Starfleet has been working very hard to get New Romulus these supplies and to get the supplies that New Romulus offers to the Federation. But Starfleet has been the only one escorting and defending this convoy since the beginning. That’s not entirely how this friendship works between us.”
Pitroma sighed, “I do understand, Commander. But none of which is my call. I simply follow orders. Right now, we are ordered to assist in the escort of the convoy to New Romulus.”
Vakai nodded his head. “Thank you, Commander. Then if you don’t mind, we should resume our course and get these supplies delivered.”
“Of course. Take the lead, we will cover the rear.”
“Understood. Centaur out.” And with that, the transmission was cut and the view screen blinked to reveal the three Romulan Republic vessels. Vakai sighed and looked at Carter. “A little harsh, sir?”
Carter turned and looked at Vakai. “I don’t envy them. I do wish that the supernova never had happened, and that they never had lost their original home. But it doesn’t change that they are still the same, no matter what Government they are. The Free State or the Republic or the Star Empire. They are still the same, and they certainly act the same. You have any idea how close we were to losing the Dominion War, if they had continued to sit back and watch with their pretty little Non-Aggression that they signed with the Dominion? You children,” Carter looked at every one of them on the Bridge. “None of you know what it was like. None of you had to sit on the edge of your bed, reading report after report of your friends, colleagues, or even just acquaintances having died. Every day, I find out someone I knew had died. And these Romulans sat there and did nothing for most of the war. And yet, here we are again, secrets being kept from us while we fight for them.” There was a long pause on the Bridge after that, and then Carter sighed before walking into the turbolift, realizing that he may have ranted too far and needed to go for a walk.
Vakai looked to Ryker, “Get us back on course.” He told him.
[Later that day]
Carter sat there behind his desk, rotating the glass full of synthahol whiskey over and over as he stared at it. He had spent several hours walking around the entire ship, changing deck every so often to make it appear he was on a simple inspection run, wanting the crew to think that there was nothing wrong, nothing wrong at all. He was deep into his thoughts that it took probably the tenth chime from his door to get his attention. “Enter.”
In came the Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Summer Pearce. “So, I heard that you had a bit of an outburst on the Bridge.”
Carter grunted and then took a sip, only to set the glass back down and resume rotating it. “I may have over done it this time.”
She sighed and sat down across from him, taking the glass out of his hands so that he would divert his attention to her, and not ignore what she was going to say. “You have got to let go of the past, John.”
He looked up into her eyes. “How can you ask me that, Summer? We are the last two who have been on this ship when we were simply just Ensigns. We’ve been through it all.”
She placed her hands on his. “I know. But I live my days by looking forward to the future. I don’t dwell on the past, as it will start to rot the very soul.” She spoke softly.
John grunted. “But these kids need to know about our history. The history where we could have lost...all of this.”
She smiled, “They already know, John. Do you really believe that schools and the Academy would simply brush history away and pretend it never happened? They know, and they don’t need to be reminded.”
John sighed, “You’re right. I’m just a damn old fool.” Lowering his head.
She took her right hand and placed it on his cheek, making him look at her again. “You’re no fool. Just an old man who needs to retire, like I am.”
He took her right hand and gripped both of them. “I don’t want you to go, Summer.”
She chuckled softly. “I am not leaving for another month or two. But I am going to retire. We’ve been at this long enough, John.”
He shook his head. “Starfleet still needs experienced Captains, and crew.”
“So what? You’re going to stay Captain of the Centaur until they mothball her and drag your wrinkled ass out of here?” She then smiled at the end.
John chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t know, honestly. But she’s the only ship I know, Summer. Someone’s got to keep flying her. They don’t need to stick some baby face in command of this old girl, not when they got fancier and newer starships for that.”
She smiled with a nod of her head before giving him his glass back and grabbing one for herself. “I still think you should retire with me.” She told him as he poured her a glass.
He set the bottle down, “I will retire when they retire the Centaur.”
She smirked, “Or when Starfleet decides to retire you.” She said as she took a sip.
He shook his head with a smile and took a sip of his own. “They would then have to drag my wrinkled ass off of her.” And with that they both laughed.
---------------------------------- With the raids finally over, the Convoy is back on course to New Romulus, with a few more escorts in tow.
- A little more character development about the Captain who hasn’t let go of the past and still feels like the Romulans will never change.
- Next Chapter will be arriving at New Romulus and Vakai learning a bit more about his parents
- And is Ryker making a move on Gomez? If so, will his ship sail or sink? Stay tuned!
[Reaching Orbit of New Romulus]
Vakai stood there just a few feet behind Ryker as he stared at the planet growing in the view screen. He knew this wasn’t exactly his homeworld, at least not from his origin, but some part of him felt satisfied to see a homeworld that was populated by Romulans. Romulans...who want peace with the Federation. It was just sareal.
Carter had returned to the bridge some time ago and he simply remained off to the side to allow Vakai to resume command. It kind of made Vakai wonder if the man would ever take command while he served on board, or if this mentorship meant that Vakai would remain in command until the day he becomes a Captain himself. To be honest, he has not heard of anything like this happening often on board a starship. Of course, not everything is really reported on board a starship.
“Looks like we can finally relax.” Ryker said with a smile as he brought the ship into stationary orbit along with the other escorts as the freighers went to their destination to unload the cargo.
“We still have the trek back to the Providence Fleet Yards with the convoy, as they will be carrying supplies the Federation wants.” Carter told him.
“What exactly does the Romulan Republic have that the Federation wants?” Ryker asked.
Carter shrugged his shoulders. “Who knows. There are so many commodities in the galaxy, I honestly do not keep track of them or who has what.”
Ryker nodded his head. “Fair enough. We’re in stationary orbit, sirs.”
Carter then looked to Vakai. “What do you think? Care to make a trip down to the embassy?”
“How often do they see Romulans in a Starfleet Uniform?” Vakai asked.
Carter shrugged. “I would assume not very much at all. We don’t have many in Starfleet that I know of. And quite frankly, you’re the only Romulan in Starfleet that I know. But I haven’t really looked through the general personnel database.”
Vakai looked back to the planet on the viewer. “I just don’t know what exactly I will learn down there.”
Carter sighed. “C’mon, son. Use your imagination. These people have changed their entire course away from what the Romulan Star Empire has been, before the supernova. They want peace. They want friendship. That is not only making the Federation really happy, it also gives us a chance to hopefully spread that peace with the other two Romulan Governments. It just takes time.”
Vakai nodded his head. “Just unfortunate that it had to take a supernova to achieve something like between the Federation and the Romulan people.”
“Yeah, very tragic. But that’s just how the universe played the cards, son. We have no control over any of it.” Carter told him.
“Except we did try.”
“Exactly. We tried to play with the forces of nature and nature proved that it is an unstoppable force. But even though we tried, there are those who see us as traitors, failures, a major power who just sat back and let millions die.” Carter sighed. “I don’t hate the Romulans...I know I sounded like it before but...they did not deserve this, no race of people deserves this. But like I said, the universe played the cards and they lost.”
Ryker looked at Vakai. “C’mon man. They are still your people.”
“Easy for you to say. I was raised on Earth since I was an infant. I consider Earth my home, humans my people.” Vakai told them.
“But they are your flesh and blood.” Ryker told him. “It won’t hurt you to visit the Embassy.”
Vakai sighed and shook his head. “Fine. I’ll go.”
[About a day later…]
Vakai had learned all he could learn about the Romulans of the Romulan Republic. They were pretty much exactly what the reports had summarized about them and he certainly wasn't going to waste any more time of the crew of the Centaur. So as soon as he returned to the Bridge, he informed them of what he learned, which wasn't any different than what everyone already knew, disappointing as it was, and gave the order to return to the convoy.
As soon as the convoy got their shipments from New Romulus, they finally began their trip back to the Providence Fleet Yards, which throughout the entire trip there, with the Romulan Republic ships escorting all the way to their border, was pretty much uneventful. It appears the Orions had lost interest in attacking the convoy, that or they're waiting with the remnants of the Mokai to strike again. In which case, the Centaur has been given orders to continue escorting the Convoy on their runs to other worlds along the border, to try and supply any worlds that needed help. Food, medicine, industrial replicators, farming equipment for those that broke down or were destroyed by pirates or raiders, etc.
It had been a few days since the Centaur escorted the convoy back to the fleet yards with the other two escorts. Right now the Centaur remains in synchronization orbit with everyone, as they had been waiting for the convoy to unload the supplies from New Romulus and then load back up with new supplies to be shipped elsewhere. The Centaur, as the Captain had put it a couple of times, is an old ship. Over a hundred years old for that matter. She has undergone refits of course, but there is only so much Starfleet can do to a ship built in 2295. But Vakai believed that she could still do so much more, and the Captain believed it as well, who was currently in his quarters, trying to convince his superior to give them something else besides escort duty.
Lieutenant Commander Henry Maxwell sighed, hating that he has authority over a Captain but he did, which made him feel so...odd. Especially since the Captain was also twice his age. "Look, I understand everything that you are saying. I know how much history you have on the Centaur. But what if you encounter a hostile Romulan who... I don't know, still has a grudge against Starfleet over the loss of Romulus? It could be one from any of the three governments, and the Centaur is no match for either of them alone, especially against a D'Deridex Warbird. Or what if the Breen were gutsy enough to cross our space undetected, which be damn lucky on their part, to try to exact their revenge on the Romulans for joining the Dominion War, and the Centaur gets caught in the crossfire? You do know that they have improved their weapons and shields, right? The Centaur would be obliterated." Of course he knew the Breen didn't join until after the Romulans did but he still brought it up anyway.
Carter sighed, "I know exactly what the Centaur can and can not do. But I am not asking for a suicide mission, Commander. I am simply asking for something besides keeping the Centaur safe. I am sure Starfleet would be pleased that the first ship of its class is still alive and kicking, and then can later be retired and used as a museum piece. But you're only slowing down the inevitable. And besides, escort duty isn't entirely safe either, you know. These kids need more than just action with pirates and raiders. They need mystery, and something to investigate. If all we do is escort duty, then all these kids are going to expect for the rest of their career is combat and the sound of a red alert ringing in their ears until they retire."
Stretched and over exaggeration maybe, but Maxwell got the hint. He visibly looked at a few data padds laid out in front of him and then lifted one up before pressing a button, which essentially sent the information straight to Captain Carter's desk. "One of our sensor buoys had picked up strange readings coming from one of the border colonies. We don't have a clue what these readings are, the energy has never been recorded before and it is pretty sizable for a small colony. As a Scout ship that you are, I need the Centaur to go to the system and investigate, then report back to me as soon as possible. If it happens to be a threat beyond Centaur’s capabilities, leave the system immediately and notify me at once, so that I can bring it up to my superiors and see how we can handle it. If it happens to be a new energy source that someone just created, we would like to know about that too, so that we may make contact and negotiate on what is needed to get a share of that technology. Anything you get, we need to know. Sound good to you, Captain?"
Carter skimmed over the data while listening before smiling. "Sounds perfect, Commander. I do appreciate it."
"Just please don't get blown up if it does happen to be some massive secret new weapon. Starfleet would be upset that the first ship of its class was lost before they could museum it." Maxwell grinned after that.
Carter shook his head with his own grin. "They will have to drag me off this ship before they do, Commander. But no promises either. Centaur out." Carter transferred the data to a padd and headed straight for the Bridge, which did not take too long from his quarters.
Vakai turned in place when he heard the turbolift door hissing open, and saw Carter stepping out with a smile on his face. "I see you were able to convince them."
"I swear to you, Commander. I can sweet talk a Ferengi right into giving me their moon."
Vakai smirked. "That would mean that you would have the lobes for business, as the Ferengi would put it."
Carter's smile faded. "Don't ever put such disturbing images into my head ever again, Commander." He kept a stern look for a moment, but only a moment, and then grinned at Vakai, proving that he was only kidding. "Anyways, attention everyone." He waited until he got the Bridge crew's attention. "The Task Group Command was kind enough to give us a different assignment, one that is far from escort duty."
Gomo tilted his head. "Now I am quite eager to hear as to what this new assignment is all about. Please don't leave us in suspense, Captain."
Carter smiled. "Now it ain't much really, but it does have a mystery to it. Now, one of Starfleet's sensor buoys picked up a very strange and large energy source coming from a colony planet along the border. I checked the coordinates and it's not that far from here, just a few light years outside of the Fleet Yards long range sensors, usually where sensor buoys would cover those sort of gaps along a border that we’re still a bit cautious of with our bordering neighbors. Anyway, the interesting part is, Starfleet has never seen this energy signature before and they're very curious about it. Our orders are to scout ahead, investigate the signal and report back anything we find. If it turns out to be some new hostile ship or a new deadly weapon, we are to leave immediately and report it immediately. That sound good to everyone?"
Ryker nodded his head with a shrug. "I mean, it's still kind of a patrol duty but it definitely has a nice mystery to it. Did they say how big this energy source is?"
Carter checked the data on the padd. "About half the size of the planet, and the planet is about the size of Earth."
Gomez, who had been attending to one of the engineering consoles on the Bridge, stood right up. "That's insane!! Have the Romulans detected it?"
Carter smiled at Gomez, "I know, that's why if we happen to find whoever created this energy source and if it's new, to see if we can negotiate so that Starfleet can get its hands on it. And no, for some reason the Romulans haven't. Or at least, haven't said a word to us and are keeping it to themselves. Starfleet has not detected any Romulan ships, so once we arrive there, we will conduct a full sweep around the planet to see if there are any Romulan ships hiding. Point is, we have no clue what we are going to find once we get there. This is a big opportunity for us, because if it turns out not to be hostile, we get to investigate it and report our findings to Starfleet."
Ryker grinned. "Definitely sounds better than escort duty."
Vakai nodded his head. "Think you can get us out of there as soon as we arrive, in case it turns out to be some secret super weapon?"
Ryker frowned, "Are you kidding? Who do you think you are talking to?"
Vakai smirked, "Just checking." He then looked at the Captain. "We're already stocked up on supplies, Captain. We can leave, right now."
Carter smiled. "Good to hear! Lieutenant, I am sending you the coordinates, please plot a course at best speed."
Ryker checked his helm display and when the coordinates popped up, he started entering commands and piloted the ship out and away from the Fleet Yards. "Course plotted and we are now...entering warp." He said as he entered the command to the warp engines to engage and jump the ship into warp velocities, increasing speed to warp seven. "We will arrive in just a few days at this speed, without overworking the engines of course."
Carter smiled. "Very good. Well. As much as I hate waiting, as I am sure many of you feel the same, I am going to treat myself to another inspection of the ship." And with that, Carter was gone from the Bridge.
"That man, so eager." Said Ryker.
"Of course he is! He just got not just us, but this ship, an important job. Whatever that energy is, it could change the course of our future. Or it could turn out to be an enemy and we may end up saving millions if not billions of lives." Gomez responded.
Gomo sighed, "I better inform my Chief about this. I am certain he is going to want all of us to personally check every weapon and defense system to ensure that they are up to par."
Gomez smacked her forehead. "Blast. My Chief will want to do the same. Man this ship really is a lot of work. But I do love getting my hands dirty." She smiled before leaving the Bridge, Gomo following after pressing a button to signal his relief to take his place, both leaving the bridge to inform their respective Chiefs of their departments of the new development.
"I am just glad that the Captain is happy. He really loves this ship." Said Vakai.
Ryker nodded his head. "He sure does. I just hope we don't go flying into a death trap that gets us before I can get us out."
"I have every confidence in your abilities as a pilot, Ryker." Vakai told him.
Ryker snorted. "Ah gee, thanks. I love more weight on my shoulders." He then turned and smiled, showing he was being sarcastic.
[Few Days Later]
[Arriving into High Orbit of the Planet]
"Well, here we are." Ryker announced.
"Indeed," Said Vakai.
Gomez on the other hand frowned. "Captain, the sensor data from the buoy said it was massive, about half the size of the planet, correct? Like, fifty percent of the planet?"
Carter turned to look at Gomez, just about everyone actually. "Yes, it did."
Gomez turned to look at Carter, realizing all eyes were on her as they were all very curious. "Well, I am not sure how they got it wrong but our sensors read that it's as big as about five percent of the planet."
A lot of frowning and confusion on the bridge crew's faces, especially Carter and Vakai. "That is very odd. Still a significantly large energy source but...incredibly odd." Said Vakai.
Carter nodded his head, "Maybe they detected us on long range sensors and reduced power?"
Vakai shrugged one of his shoulders. "Possibly. Gomez?"
She shook her head. "Even if they did, fifty percent of the size of the planet, as supposedly as the sensor buoy detected, would have left some traces...something. I got absolutely nothing but the size I told you now. Whatever this energy source is, it's either incredible or a fluke."
Vakai shook his head as there was just no way he could make any excuse for why the energy source was much smaller. "Comms. Send a message to Task Group Command, let them know what we found."
The Comms Officer acknowledged but after a few minutes, there was a frown on their face when they looked at Vakai and Captain Carter. "I can't reach them. I can't reach anyone."
Carter and Vakai looked at each other before back at the Comms Officer. "Are you detecting a jamming source?"
The Comms Officer shook their head. "No. But for some reason, I can't communicate with anyone outside the system."
Vakai turned to Ryker. "Whether comms are being jammed or just not working properly usually means hostile intent. Get us out of here."
Ryker acknowledged and started entering commands but nothing was working, besides getting error sounds like his entire console was on the fritz. "Helm is not responding." Ryker said as he looked at Vakai, puzzled.
Gomez spoke up, "Transfering helm control to my station." And after she did, her entire station went dark. "The hell?!"
Carter looked to Gomo. "Are we still alone out here?"
Gomo entered some commands, which his station seems to be still responding, and nodded his head. "We are, Captain. Nothing on short or long range sensors. Besides the planet and the energy source, of course."
Carter and Vakai looked at each other again, both frowning. "A power source that was detected to be the size of half the planet is now only a fraction, and happens to completely immobilize the Centaur and disable our communications, yet it is still reading only a fraction."
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. "Only option we have left is to investigate it further."
Gomez shook her head, "Sensors can't make anything out from here. We might have to go to the surface."
Carter frowned, "Is it safe to send an away team?"
Everyone paused as they all appeared to be checking out the sensor readings. Gomo was the first to answer, "It does appear that we can send a team down without the need of EV suits."
Carter then looked at Vakai. "Since we can't communicate with Task Group Command nor leave the system, we don't have much of a choice. Pick your team and find out what the hell is going on."
Vakai nodded his head, "Ryker, Gomez. You two are with me." He then tapped his badge. "Sivol, report to transporter room two." And with that, the three of them left the bridge to prepare and depart the ship.
Vakai watched as Sivol entered the transporter room, seeing a tricorder and standard field medkit on her utility belt. “Are you up to speed?” He asked her as he checked his own gear before stepping onto the pad.
“I am. Are we really stranded out here?” Sivol asked and then tilted her head when Vakai handed her a phaser pistol holster with the pistol in it.
Which Vakai noticed, “We don’t know what we are dealing with down there. It’s standard procedure to beam down with a weapon to defend ourselves. As for your question, yes. Gomez.”
“The Chief is trying his best but he cannot find out the problem with the warp engines. We have impulse engines but as we were heading down here, the Captain tried to order Ryker’s relief to take us away from the planet on impulse but then they too gave out just on the edge of the ship’s transporter range. Funny part is, we didn’t even drift at all. Which makes absolutely no sense. The thrusters didn’t engage, so we should have continued drifting with our momentum and the planet would have gone outside our transporter range.” Gomez explained.
Ryker shook his head, “It’s insane. By the laws of physics, and of course Newton’s third law. When an object is in motion, it stays in motion.”
Sivol frowned a little. “Unless something kept the ship in place. Then whatever is on the planet’s surface, this...power source...it wants us to stay here. Why?”
Vakai checked his phaser pistol settings, medium stun as he liked it, before shoving it back into its holster. “We’re about to find out.” He then gestured to her to join them on the transporter pad before tapping his badge. “Vakai to bridge. We’re ready to transport.”
“Find out what that power source is, Commander. If someone is in control of it, get an explanation as to why they stranded us here. Are they in trouble? Are they curious? Are they our enemy? Either way, we need to contact TG Command as soon as possible.” Carter’s voice filled the room.
“Understood, sir. We will keep an active Comm Link with the ship.”
“That’s a good idea, Commander. We will monitor your situation and get you out if there is a slight chance that you and your team are in danger. Good luck.”
Vakai smirked, “Thank you, sir.” He then looked at the transporter tech. “Four to beam down.”
With that, beams of light showered over them, disassembling their molecules until they were no longer there in the room, only to be sent to the surface in an instant, at coordinates that appeared to be just above the dirt where their feet would touch as their bodies were reassembled.
With a brief check that they were completely fine. A history of transporter accidents being rare was just that, rare and could very much still happen. Then there’s this planet with this strange energy source that was practically holding their ship hostage. So a brief check of themselves was just another precaution that they were doing to ensure that, whatever was going on, didn’t cause some strange mutation or worse….
Tricorders out, they scanned the area around them. Where they had beamed down to was on the dark side of the planet, of course the side that wasn’t facing the sun, so it took some time for their eyes to adjust without the use of their palm lamps, to realize that they had beamed into a dense jungle, plant life all around them were not only enormous but also quite beautiful.
“I don’t remember our coordinates being filled with trees and bushes.” Gomez told Vakai.
“I know.” He said as he looked around. “Vakai to Centaur. Centaur come in.” And then he frowned when there was no response.
“Are you serious?!” Gomez's voice began to waver, a hint of worry in her voice. “First this energy source traps our ship in orbit and now we can’t contact the Centaur anymore?”
Vakai did not like this, not one bit. They were blind. No way of knowing what is going on, who or what they are dealing with and worse, there was no way that they could call for backup or to be retrieved if things get worse. Then his tricorder started going off, indicating the direction of the energy source. “Whatever this is, we must be prepared for the worse. So let’s get over there and if someone is there, I will ask the questions. Understood?”
All three nodded their heads, as they all pulled out their phaser pistols with their free hands and powered them up as they began to approach the energy source. They walked for almost a kilometer until they found an opening to a cliff, a cave as it were. Their tricorders indicated that was where the energy source was coming from, inside the cave, which made their tactical situation even worse. Caves don’t always have decent cover and most usually never do, so going in there would be a considerable risk.
Vakai took the lead inside, pulling out his palm lamp and lighting up the way as he led them deep into the cave. They walked for what felt like another kilometer, which made no sense to either of them but when they thought this tunnel was never going to end, they entered an enormous cavern, filled with lights and machinery. They looked around with their eyes as they stood there at the entrance with amazement, as every piece of equipment was alien to them, something that they’ve never seen before, or at least, something that was never seen by Starfleet.
“What is all this?” Gomez asked and then they heard clanking noise as if someone had dropped something, as if they had been startled by her voice. All four of them stood there, waiting as they could hear footsteps...well more like someone not lifting up their feet as they walked...and then a figure came out from behind a large machine in the middle. It was a strange looking alien, like...head of a fly, with those compound eyes. Kind of like the Insectoids from the Xindi but different.
Then it spoke, in a bunch of clicking and whining noises. “Ahh! Starfleet! Yes yes. Come come.” The Universal Translator managed to pick up.
Everyone looked at each other but both felt a sense of calm and peace. The creature certainly spoke friendly and his demeanor was friendly, so it was safe to say that this creature was not hostile in any way. And then suddenly it spoke again, “Yes yes. Friends! We are friendly!” They looked at each other again and then Vakai gave the nod before holstering his pistol, everyone else doing the same.
Vakai then approached the creature, the team right behind him. “Are you responsible for...all of this?” He gestured to the vast amounts of machinery.
The creature nodded. “Yes yes. New power source. Great potential. Must show you. Must save the Federation.”
Gomez frowned. “Save the Federation? What do you mean?”
“Federation. Great danger. Your energy source. Your propulsion systems. Bad. Very very bad.”
Ryker was next to frown. “Our impulse engines?”
“Then our warp drive.”
“But we’ve been using it for over two centuries.”
Gomez sighed, “Great. He’s another one of those species that want us to limit our usage of Warp Drive. Remember that race the Enterprise encountered? Those who actually proved that they were right and Warp Speed restrictions were put in place? He’s one of those…”
“Upset you are. I understand. Dependent on this propulsion system. You are. But this. This new energy source. New propulsion system! Come come come. Must show. Must show!” It then began to walk away, waving its tendril, wanting them to follow.
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “Even if he is, if this happens to change the future of Starfleet...or the galaxy for the better, then we might as well hear him out.” Vakai told them and followed, the rest following right behind him. They followed the creature to four odd looking tubes.
“Stand there. In front. Will show you!” It said and gullible as they were, each one of them stood in front of a tube, assuming that they were the creature’s type of display screen. Boy were they wrong. Suddenly the tubes opened up and tendrils shot out, grabbing the four of them and yanking them right inside, rotating them around so their backs were to the interior wall of the tube, able to see the creature as it stood before them. They all struggled but no matter what they did, they couldn’t break free.
“Commander! We have-” Gomez suddenly went quiet as two tendrils with flat like ends to them mounted to her temples and she was just out cold.
“Centaur! Centaur plea-” Ryker was hoping that they were still listening but he was next to be out cold.
“Vakai.” Was all Sivol said before she was next.
Vakai grunted, trying so hard to break free but he couldn’t budge at all. Then the most shocking thing happened next. The creature before them began to morph, the transition nothing like he had ever seen before, not even from the holo-videos showing how the Changelings morphed. No. This was pure light, but not just one singular light, it was many, thousands, millions of lights, all of different colors. It was now human. “What the hell are you?” Vakai growled.
The man chuckled. “Certainly not a changeling, if that is what you’re thinking. No. I am very much something else.” The man then walked up to Vakai. “Relax. This is going to be fun.” With that, those very same tendrils that had latched onto everyone’s temples have come out and latched onto Vakai’s and in that instant, he was out cold.
. . .
. . .
“WAKE UP!” Vakai heard someone shout, followed by a painful blow to the head. He grunted at the pain he was now forced to endure but when he went to feel his head, he realized that he couldn’t. His hands were bound. Why? Were they still in that tube, in the cave? No. This felt different, and the voice didn’t echo off of any cavern wall, and then there’s that smell...the smell of nature. Suddenly he was blinded by the light of nature when whatever it was that covered him in darkness was lifted off his head. He had trouble seeing as it took time for his eyes to adjust but he could tell that they were definitely not on that planet anymore. What else, he could hear the sounds of metal clanking...rattling together. Where the hell are they?!
“Vakai!” He heard Gomez’s voice, turning his head to see his team, and saw that everything was horribly wrong. They were wearing cloth like tunics, pants, shoes and worst of all, their hands were bound together in shackles, connected together by chains. Then their surroundings, nothing like what they saw when they beamed down onto the planet. Sure there were trees, forests, but they weren’t anywhere near the tree line, because all he could see was the tips of the trees behind the stone walls of what appeared to be some sort of fort. Suddenly Vakai heard a ‘SMACK’ and Gomez crying out.
“NO TALKING!” That same voice shouted, the one that told him to wake up before being hit in the head.
“Hey! Keep your hands off of her!” Ryker shouted and suddenly his face went pale when the one that was doing all the shouting had drawn his sword and pointed the very tip to Ryker’s throat.
“Or what, you filthy scum?” This man looked like a soldier, cladded in thick leather armor with metal plates. Vakai needed to do something, and fast.
“What are we doing here?” Vakai stood up as he spoke.
The man looked at him and then smiled before shoving his sword back into its sheath. “Ah. So the leader of the group finally speaks. I swore that you were going to stay silent to the very end, when we beheaded you all.” The man chuckled.
“What are our crimes, sir?” Vakai asked.
The man’s face then changed as if he had been insulted, who stormed over to Vakai and grabbed him by his throat. “What are your crimes, you say? You dare act ignorant in this kingdom?! You mercenary scum. All of you. You four come from lands that know the laws of this Kingdom, the laws that forbid mercenaries to come here, because our great King doesn't see you as warriors.” He then spat in Vakai’s face. “He sees you exactly for what you are. Murderers, savage beasts. The King made it very clear to all the lands around his own, that no mercenaries will ever be welcomed on his holy land. And yet, you filthy mongrel mutts were found approaching his castle. You’re either very bold, or very very stupid. And I say, that all four of you are incredibly stupid indeed.” He let go of Vakai’s throat, who wheezed and coughed as he quickly filled his lungs with air.
“We didn’t know!” Ryker told the man.
He pointed at Ryker. “Ignorance is for the damned and you will suffer the consequences. Move him to the block!” Suddenly Ryker was grabbed from behind and shoved forward, with his ankles shackled, he tumbled over onto the ground.
“No!” Gomez struggled but a guard behind her was keeping her in place.
A guard then picked up Ryker and dragged him over to a large block of wood with an indentation in the center for his head, in which they placed his face into.
The man, the leader of this prison camp as Vakai assumed to be, raised his voice. “Violators of the most sacred law of this holy Kingdom will be punished accordingly to the law that they have broken. And any Mercenary who breaks a law in our holy Kingdom receives the one and only punishment fitting to their own murderous crimes. Death.” He turned to look at the executioner. “Proceed.”
Vakai struggled in the grips of the guard behind him, as he tried to break free, desperately trying to get over there and stop this madness. And as he was struggling, so too was Gomez and Sivol, all of them wanting to get free, to get out of this nightmare. Vakai then looked up at the sky, “I don’t know who you are, or what you are. But stop this! Stop this madness!! St-”
“STOOOOOP!!!” A very loud, yet feminine, voice boomed over everyone, filling their ears and halting every movement. Stopped the executioner’s swing, stopped the leader from finishing his steps back towards Vakai’s group, and even stopped them from struggling in the grasps of their guards. It was a woman, in full clad armor, approaching them and the look on her face...she was absolutely furious, so furious it looked like she could shoot laser beams out of her eyes and burn holes into the head that she so well chooses. And she was choosing the leader of this place.
Vakai stared at her, they all did, but he was most curious. Who is she? Where are they? What the actual hell is going on?! He sincerely hopes someone will give them answers.