Bridge, Lyran CW Doomward
        "Special Team boarding units returning. We have 20% red or yellow and no missing. We also have prisoners and equipment."
        "That's great, but now we need to get away. Fire all bearing weapons into Unknown Three and drop the tractor. All reserve priority to negative tractor if we need it. Get moving towards the vortex, but keep our down shield away from Unknown Four as much as possible."
        "Captain, Unknown Three is trying to tractor us. They have a lock. Applying reserve power. Attempt defeated; no reserve power remaining. Phasers and disruptors firing. Good hits. Unknown Three is crippled. UIM is still good."
        "Very well.
        "Marine control, what is the status of our guests?"
        "Junior Lieutenant Yqq'Ure here ... in command. We had to use the command post squad and the guards from the Bridge entrance to intervene at main engineering, so the tactical operations center is unmanned and locked down. Senior Lieutenant Dfe'Tlee is wounded and out of the chain. We have effectively five squads remaining in action." In the background Thr'Uule could hear sporadic grenade blasts as compartments were cleared. "I think we got them all. Some transported out though. Their actions convince me that they were trying for a capture attempt. Pretty pitiful job if you ask me. No living prisoners. The officers' larder has been cleaned out. I think the aliens have captured our supply of tunni for interrogation."
        Tunni would fight if you didn't scent them with the proper pheromone before entering their enclosure, so they would be struggling just as hard as a live Lyran, if not with any intelligence. Besides, boarding combat is tough on everyone in the area. If the compartment didn't transmit a coded pulse when challenged it received a stun or flash grenade and then an inspection.
        "Bridge, Damage Control Team Three here. We've gotten that phaser back in battery. K'urq has inhaled a bunch of toxic fumes, but refuses to report to sickbay."
        "Understood; Damage Control Team Three. Move to engineering and see if you can get me more power. And K'urq is now officially on my list."
        "Captain, Special Team One-Six here. My boarding team says what we thought were bow-mounted internal drone launch bays are instead two separate shuttle bays with armored cross connects. Each bay has what we think is an accelerating launch tube, a giant Klingon-style drone rack in an armored compartment with lots of superconductor cabling and control runs leading into it, and a couple of shuttles with locked hatches. What we think are their admin shuttles do not appear to be armed. Both bays were basically identical. We blew up some unarmored parts of equipment we could not identify. We are still working on the rest of the data. We have a lot of pieces ripped off of various systems to look at."
        "Understood. Keep at it. And well done."
        "Captain, Unknown Three is launching a drone designated Vampire Ten, closing at warp 2.6 on a skew heading; it has two control channels dedicated to it. We have no bearing weapons and no reserve power available. Unknown Four is clear of their jamming field. Unknown Four is now making a High Energy Turn towards us. Unknown Four is launching drones. Range sixty thousand kilometers. Drones designated Vampire Eleven and Vampire Twelve are approaching at warp 5.3!"
        WHAM! WHAM! The entire ship shook with the impacts. Electrical arcs jumped from overloaded wiring and exploded consoles all over the ship, even some panels distant from the actual impact zone. On the Bridge, the fire suppression nozzles shot streams of chemical foam with a roar onto several station panels now smoking or arcing from the overloads. The haze of anti-combustion chemicals, smoke, and ozone in Thr'Uule's eyes stung.
        "Damage Control to Bridge; our number six shield is down with slight damage to the number five shield; warp engines are now operating at 75%. There is a coolant leak in the impulse engine spaces; engineering control isn't sure of the extent of the damage there yet. Port tractor is not responding to inputs. All port medium phasers are out and the port shuttle bay is on fire. Main communications has its master control runs destroyed and number two computer is out of the decision loop. The Emergency Bridge took a heavy hit. Biology and geology labs holed and in vacuum. Officers' quarters took a square hit; we have no working feeds from there. Sensors are damaged and are now operating at 82% nominal capacity; all redundant capacity is now committed. We are showing damage to the Bridge, as well."
        Captain Thr'Uule looked at the shredded and burned body of Warrant Officer Flu'Tree slumped over the smoking long-range communications and tactical intelligence console. The navigator had been crushed by a falling intruder defense array; he was certainly dead and his station was destroyed. Helm and weapons were still operational, although Senior Lieutenant Murri'Tra had been launched halfway across the Bridge from her seat at the helm. She had leaped back to her station from her landing place atop the Bridge's security corporal in less time than it would take to describe the flight. Her scalp was flapped back with blood running down the side of her head; she appeared to be ignoring the wound and was doing her duty without any of the normal navigation aids overlaying her plot. Entire sections of the normal navigation feed appeared to have stopped working. The junior Bridge weapons officer had pushed aside his decapitated senior and had the targeting scanner tracking despite the foot-long shard of hull metal impaling his left bicep and the heavy coating of blood over the entire station. Intra-ship comms still showed green. The Bridge was damaged but he could still run the fight from here. Thr'Uule knew that with his right leg certainly broken along with a couple ribs, his left kneecap hanging out with a flap of muscle, and blood running down into his eyes, he was in no shape to move to Auxiliary Control.
       "Confirm some damage to Bridge," Thr'Uule said, adrenaline masking his pain. "I'll retain command here. Long-range communications, tactical intel, and primary navigation plot is now transferred to Auxiliary Control; I want their data input into the main Bridge feeds immediately. And send a medical team up here, along with a spare ensign or two." Thr'Uule reached for his belt and activated the stimulant and pain-killer packs there.
        "Helm, maneuver to take that drone on a good shield and then turn into Unknown Four.
        "Weapons, take all available power except the battery reserve. Set both ESGs to ten thousand kilometers radius with all remaining energy timed to come up just as we come to twelve thousand kilometers. We'll fire everything then except one bearing medium and one defense phaser, and then follow up with them as we overrun. Use the UIM again if you can get enough power for overloads."
        "Captain, launching probe now. We only have two left. Vortex is still in the discharge phase. Lots of activity in the matrix. Vampire Ten is turning left."
        "Cease diverting power to probes," Thr'Uule ordered.-
        "Labs to bridge, Vampire Ten is another of those lithium titanium trioxide antimatter types."
        "Contact! Bearing 12.34 mark 4. Classified as shuttle Š This contact is replying to our scan with the identity of our special mission shuttle. It must have gotten drawn in again. It appears to still be trying to orbit the center of the vortex. We are getting a data dump from it. The shuttle has taken extensive engine and hull damage, apparently from the cloud; it will not last much longer before it is destroyed."
        "Contact! Dead aft, cruiser signature, consistent with Unknown One. It has dropped the high ECCM emissions and has no datalinks to Unknown Three and Unknown Four. Vampire! Unknown One is launching drones designated Vampire Thirteen, Vampire Fourteen, and Vampire Fifteen. Closing at warp 2.5 range 170,000 kilometers off our number three shield. Each has two control channels to Unknown One."
        With a glance, Thr'Uule could tell that number five and number one were his best shields. "Maneuver to take the Vampires on shield five. We have to use our weapons on Unknown Four to get them off us."